I've been reading Mark Steyn's terrifically funny and dark new book, American Alone: The End of the World As We Know It. There is so much in this book I want to share with everyone I know, not the least of it the way his wickedly sharp writing makes me laugh right out loud while wincing at what he's saying (this talent is not unlike that of one of my other favorite political humorists, P.J. O'Rourke).
Here's just one passage I wanted to share with you, which is more dark than funny (pages 69-70):
We still have no strategy for dealing with the ideology. Indeed, for the first few years of the war on “terror,” our leaders declined to acknowledge there was an ideology. And, as the years roll on, groups with terrorist ties are still able to insert their recruiters into America’s military bases, prisons, and pretty much anywhere else they get a yen to go. How come? What gives the jihad its global reach? It’s not difficult to figure out: Wahabism is the most militant form of Islam, the one followed by all nineteen of the September 11 terrorists and by Osama bin Laden. The Saudis, whose state religion is Wahhabism, export their faith and affiliated local strains in lavishly endowed schools and mosques all over the world and, as a result, traditionally moderate Muslim populations from the Balkans to South Asia have been dramatically radicalized.
That kind of operation doesn’t come cheap. So who pays for it?
You do. After September 11, George W. Bush told the world, “You’re either with us or with the terrorists.” In fact, much of the world is with neither, and much of the world is with both. And why should anyone take the president’s demand to choose sides seriously when America itself refuses to: the United States is both “with us” and “with the terrorists.” American taxpayers are in the onerous position of funding both sides in this war. In the five years after September 11, the price of oil rose from $12 per barrel to hit an all-time high of $70—so, if you sell oil, your revenues are five times what they were. And there’s nothing like bigger oil windfalls to drive powerful despots down ever crazier paths. “Looking at it another way,” wrote Frank Gaffney in his book War Footing, “Saudi Arabia—which currently exports about ten mbd [million barrels of oil a day]—receives an extra half billion dollars every day.” Where does that extra half-bil go? It goes to the mosques and madrassas that the Saudis fund in every corner of the planet. Oil isn’t the principal Saudi export, ideology is—petroleum merely bankrolls it.
How could the federal government be so complacent as to subcontract the certification of chaplains in U.S. military bases to Wahhabist institutions? Well, because they didn’t notice it until it was too late—like SARS in that Toronto hospital. If your idea of globalization is a McDonald’s in Belgrade or a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Lahore, who’s running the imams in British and American jails doesn’t seem terribly important. The Saudis fund mosques that radicalize Muslim populations from Indonesia to Oregon, and schools that turn out terrorists on every continent on the face of the Earth. They set up Islamic lobby groups that put spies in our military bases and terror recruiters in our prisons. They endow think tanks that buy up and neuter the massed ranks of retired diplomats, and assistant secretaries of state, and national security advisers…. For a bunch of ramshackle Bedouin, the Saudis got the hang of global networking quicker than the Canadians and the Scandinavians.
Which globalization is shaping the world? Steyn gives a lot of examples, including how local Wahhabist mosques and Saudi-funded Muslim elementary and secondary schools in the U.S. and Canada are now spreading a radicalized, jihadist version of Islam to local Muslim communities, while the non-Muslim citizens of these countries hardly notice.
From the seventies onward, Saudi Arabia used their Yanqui dollars to export their faith even more widely than the oil. Instead of diversifying their industrial exports, they honed their idelogical one, financing Islamic centers, mosques, and schools in Morocco, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Bosnia, Nigeria, Britain, and America. In 2005, a twenty-three-year-old American citizen named Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was charged with plotting to assassinate the president....according to the Associated Press report in the New York Times, he "was born in Houston and moved to Falls Church, Va., where he was valedictorian of his high school class."
High school valedictorian from northern Virginia, huh? Was he in that year's production of Bye Bye Birdie? Not exactly. Neither the Times nor the AP had space to mention that the typical Virginia high school Mr. Abu Ali attended was the Islamic Saudi Academy, funded by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It's on American soil but it describes itself as "subject to the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia" and its classes are based on "the curriculum, syllabus, and materials established by the Saudi Ministry of Education." So what does it teach? No room for American history, but that's not so unusual in Virginia high schools these days. Instead, the school concentrates on Wahhabi history and "Islamic values and the Arabic language and culture," plus "the superiority of jihad." By the eleventh grade, students are taught that on the Day of Judgment Muslims will fight and kill the Jews, who will find that the very trees they're hiding behind will betray them by saying, "Oh Muslim, oh servant of God, here is a Jew hiding behind me. Come here and kill him." Beats climate change and gay outreach, or whatever they do in the regular Falls Church high school. [page 72]
I used to live a few miles from Falls Church, and this hits home.
It makes you wonder just exactly what is going on in your local mosque, even if previously you have prided yourself on minding your own business and showing your good American tolerance for freedom of religion and diversity of culture by not paying any attention. If a new Islamic center, mosque, Arabic school, or Muslim American Society center is being built in your community, do you wonder who is funding it? Do you ask who the imam is and what branch of Islam he teaches--what branch of Islam is sponsoring him and his organization? Or do you believe that even asking such questions or displaying this curiosity is crossing the line of good citizenship and good manners, rather than playing an important role in your local Neighborhood Watch?
I have discovered that non-Muslims are not the only community that has been asleep and unsuspecting, or taken by surprise, as militant Wahhabist Islam has been disseminated across the globe. Formerly "moderate" Muslims who become unsuspectingly involved or exposed to these spreading Wahhabist beliefs and institutions can soon become radicalized or victimized (we have seen examples
of this all the time without connecting the dots before, as Steyn now has).
There are two fascinating websites I've found that tell harrowing personal stories of people who have become swept up into radicalized Islamic nightmares and somehow manage to break free (at the risk of death sentences, exile, and losing their families):Apostates of Islam
(see personal testimonies
and discussion forum
(see personal testimonies
and discussion forum
Sadly, many people around the world cannot access these websites, as they are blocked by the countries they live in.
If I were a Muslim in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, or Australia today, I would be very wary about what was going on within my places and institutions of worship and culture. I would want to know exactly who was funding my institutions, who the imam was and where he comes from, and where my charitable contributions are going. I would want honest, forthcoming answers, and I wouldn't be browbeaten into taking "no" for an answer anymore than I now allow my own religious or political leaders to waffle and dissemble to me or browbeat me into silence with the cudgel of false authority or piety. Thankfully, that's my inheritance as an American, to expect honest answers, and I urge all of my fellow Americans, of whatever and all faiths, to demand and expect the same. It's your right.
If I were raising children in the Muslim faith today, I would be extremely vigilant about knowing exactly what they were being taught in their mosque or Arabic school. Evidence points to a growing tide of Wahhabi indoctrination that seeks to turn students toward anti-Semitism, militant jihad and suicide ideology.
If I were a young, single, non-Muslim woman falling in love with a Muslim man, I would definitely find out all I could about the truth of Islam (starting with some of the personal testimonies on the above two websites) and the truth about Muhammad
If I were the friend or the parent of a young person interested in learning more about or converting to Islam, I would insist he or she find out more about this religion than just what his or her Muslim friends and counselors were saying. Some branches of Islam seem to have too many similarities to a religious cult for comfort or complacency.
I start from the very Westernized view that knowledge is good, knowledge is power, knowing more about the truth of a thing or a situation is better, and that asking curious questions and seeking answers is not wrong or bad (it may be considered rude and inconvenient by some in some cases, but that is a different question, and sometimes rude or offensive questions must still be asked in the name of acquiring knowledge for the greater good; ask Galileo or Socrates or Martin Luther or Irshad Manji
). God gave us wonderous brains to use and our faculties for reasoning to figure out the truth. I want to know more about what's going on in our current world and I have been wrestling to find the truthful answer to the question, "Why do they hate us?" since 9/11. Books like America Alone
by Mark Steyn are huge milestones along my path toward understanding Islam and what's going on in our country and the world today. I admit I was one of those sleeping, ignorant Americans on 9/11, but I am not using that as an excuse to continue to sleep today.
UPDATE: Instapundit points out that Canadian native Mark's Steyn's book, currently No. 2 on Amazon-Canada's list of bestsellers
, can't be found in brick-and-mortar Canadian bookstores
. More crushing of dissent