No case illustrates the murderous deception of Western society by Islamic militants more than the recent episode involving Tariq Ramadan, the Swiss professor who was denied a visa to teach at the University of Notre Dame. His supporters in the U.S. rallied vigorously around Mr. Ramadan, protesting with total moral certitude the politically outrageous move by the US government to muzzle a Muslim "moderate". The coalition to defend Ramadan included The New York Times, The Washington Post, academic boards around the country, Islamic advocacy groups and human rights groups. Their near unanimous message was that Mr. Ramadan was a genuine "moderate" and "Islamic pluralist", but that even if one disagreed with some of his statements, Mr. Ramadan surely should have been entitled to have his ideas debated in the great free marketplace of ideas of the American campus.
Miraculously, the coalition of high priests of political correctness, Wahabi groups masquerading as pluralists, and the elite censors of fair and balanced journalism did not prevail. Mr. Ramadan was not given a visa and soon, in an act of righteous indignation, refused to reapply for another visa.
Even after the murderous actions by Islamic militants on 9-11 in the US, and in fact in carrying out or planning terrorist operations in more than 90 countries between 1990 and 2003, the American intelligentsia in a devilish collusion with radical Islamic groups hiding under false veneer, have managed to perpetrate the grand deception of militant Islam: pretending to be moderate, democrats with a small d, pluralists and victims of hate, radical Islamic groups have continued to invert reality, turning facts on their head, in a stunning ability to anoint themselves as the victims of hate as opposed to the murderous reality that they are the progenitors of hate. Where else could radical Islamic leaders like Yousef Al Qardawi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who calls for killing Jews (not just Israelis but Jews) and Americans (not just occupiers) be described as "moderate" or a pro-western "reformer" or variations of this theme (Washington Post, New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, La Times)? Where else could one hear that Jihad was a "beautiful" concept, as was broadcast on NPR recently, devoid of any violent or militant meaning? NPR's commentator was the daughter of an Islamic American leader who justified the killing of Robert Kennedy-a fact NPR withheld from its listeners but paled in comparison to its brazen willingness to air a de facto commercial for al Qaeda with the commentator ending her Islamist (tax-payer subsidized) infomercial with the following line: "Someday, I hope 'jihad' will find its way back into our lexicon, when it can be used properly, in sentences like 'She's on a jihad to achieve the American Dream.'"
In the decade and a half before 9-11, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, al Qaeda and virtually every other radical Islamic group and leader successfully perpetrated the most brilliant strategic enemy deception in US history by planting themselves in the heart of enemy territory under false cover as non-profit (and or course tax deductible) humanitarian groups, civil rights groups, and apolitical religious institutions. Until 9-11, the deceit had continued with staggering success as radical Islamic groups and leaders were routinely invited to the White House, provided with federal funding, praised by politicians, and lionized by the media.
But before this charade was exposed, nearly 3000 Americans were forced to pay with their lives as the price for the belated realization that we had been had. Suddenly, charities that had been secretly operating as conduits for terrorists and established American Muslim leaders leading double lives as terrorist masterminds were finally being recognized for who they were: Terrorists. And instead of being toasted at the State Department, they were now more appropriately being prosecuted, shut down and deported.
And yet, more than 3 years after 9-11, it would seem that this same homicidal self-delusion is alive and well in the United States. This is where Mr. Ramadan comes to play such a pivotal role in highlighting the danger of this continued self-deception.
First, Mr. Ramadan is not any more a moderate than David Duke would be considered a moderate on race relations. The only difference is that David Duke is not smart enough to speak in two languages, cloak his racism under the mantle of pluralism or enjoy the witting collaboration of the media.
In several interviews given to various European publications over the last few years, Mr. Ramadan has repeatedly provided a justification for terrorist acts against US allies such as Israel and Russia and, more recently, against the US itself. Asked by the Italian magazine Panorama if the killing of civilians is right, Mr. Ramadan unambiguously responded that "In Palestine, Iraq, Chechnya, there is a situation of oppression, repression and dictatorship. It is legitimate for Muslims to resist fascism that kills the innocent." When asked if car bombing against US forces in Iraq were legitimate, Professor Ramadan responded that "Iraq was colonized by the Americans. The resistance against the army is just."
Mastering the art of taqiyya (double speaking to fool the unbelievers), Tariq Ramadan has enchanted many with his apparent moderation. But a careful examination of his words reveals that Professor Ramadan is not what he seems and claims to be. Yes, he says that he "agrees with integration" of Muslims in the West, but he is careful to say that "we [Muslims] are the ones who are going to decide the content." He makes us happy by saying that he accepts Western secular law, but, here's the catch, "only if this law doesn't force me to do things against my religion." And when he is cornered with questions on the brutality of some punishments of Islamic law, such as stoning, he tells us that he is against them, but (there is always a "but".) they are in Quranic texts and so he cannot fully condemn them and we have to settle for "an absolute moratorium on all physical punishments."
The telegenic, soft-spoken and charming professor is just the modern, westernized face of the same enemy that wears a different mask on other battlefields. As the distinguished expert of Middle East affairs Fouad Ajami recently wrote, Tariq Ramadan is, "in the world of the new Islamism, pure nobility." His moderate fa�ade hides his radical heart and just a careful read of his words would reveal it. France, the country that knows him best, has made up its mind on him. A court in Lyon recently said that preachers like Tariq Ramadan "can exert an influence on young Islamists and therefore constitute an incitement that can lead them to join violent groups."
In France at least, some leftist intellectuals have recognized Mr. Ramadan for what he is. The self-censorious NY Times was even forced to report that Bernard-Henri Levy, who wrote the best-seller "Who Killed Daniel Pearl" accused Ramadan of being the "intellectual champion of all kinds of double-talk" with a "racist vision of the world" and having promoted anti-Semitism. The Times further reported that Bernard Kouchner, the foreign aid advocate and former health minister of France, called Mr. Ramadan "absolutely a kook with no historical memory" and "a dangerous man." He added, "The way he denounced some Jewish intellectuals is close to anti-Semitism."
Still, the Ramadan fan club in the US continued to portray the exclusion of Mr. Ramadan as part of an anti-Muslim campaign; the charge of anti-Muslim racism, part of the larger orchestration by radical Muslims to portray themselves as the victims of hate, has been mastered perfectly, requiring only the collaboration of the American media. At the height of the controversy last year, The New York Times opined that "American Muslim groups questioned the government's ability or willingness to distinguish between what they see as Muslim moderates like Mr. Ramadan and extremists." But who were these American Muslim groups, portrayed by the Times as intellectually honest arbiters of who really is a moderate? None other than off-shoots and branches of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic radical movement that gave birth to al Qaeda and Hamas, and whose founder was none other than Hassan Al-Banna, the grandfather of Mr. Ramadan.
And there are those who fall back on the free market response: Is the most powerful nation in the world afraid of allowing Mr. Ramadan access to the intellectual pluralism of the US, where free speech is honored as the most sacred privilege that we have?
Well, Mr. Ramadan does not need to be in the United States to convey his message and thoughts. Through the internet, media and instant telecommunications, the American public is not being denied one iota of Mr. Ramadan's propaganda.
After the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the same defenders of Mr. Ramadan-the New York Times and other elite media-were the first to ask probing and indignant questions about how the blind Sheik, with his radical views, was able to get visas to the United States in the early 1990's. But that was before he was indicted or convicted of any US crime. So apparently, the high priests at the time decided that the premium of free speech for non-US guests was not sacred; that in fact, the right to visit the US was not a constitutional right afforded to any citizen of the world, a view unfortunately increasingly espoused by editorial boards.
Title 8 United States Code Section 1182 requires the exclusion from the US of any alien who has "used his position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity, or to persuade others to support terrorist activity or a terrorist organization." The provision seems written to fit Ramadan's case. The entry into the United States of any foreign national is, by law, a privilege and not a right. It is preposterous to ask the US government to disregard its own laws and to grant this privilege to a person who openly condones attacks against U.S. forces and interests.
Aside from the legal justification for barring Mr. Ramadan, the moral reason for keeping Mr. Ramadan out is the same reason why the US has for years denied visas to neo-Nazi proponents from Western Europe. It is not only the access to the United States that both neo-Nazis and Mr. Ramadan have sought. Rather it is the official imprimatur of the US government, an effective declaration of political legitimacy attending to the granting of the visa. And that is precisely same legitimacy that allowed militant Islamic groups to operate for so long in the United States. Do we really want to repeat history?
Cross-posted at Counterterrorism Blog.