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Tancredo's Crusade and Its Costs
The Congressman's not so helpful bombing Mecca ideas...

[Hugh Hewitt] 7/27/05

Congressman Tom Tancredo took to the pages of the Denver Post Monday in an effort to resurrect his reputation. He fails because he doubles down on his absurd insistence that "bombing Mecca" ought to be "on the table." No serious politician in the country has come to Tancredo's defense, and indeed I have not seen any credible authority on war or religion endorse this foolishness. No serious Christian theologian can endorse what is obviously an immoral threat against another faith. Tancredo is drawing encouragment from the small percentage of Americans who have fallen into the erroneous belief that all of Islam is arrayed against the West.

Hugh Hewitt - Senior Columnist

Mr. Hewitt is senior member of theOneRepublic & editorial board. [go to Hewitt index]

Point number one. Tancredo's ego is really astonishing, attributing the widespread comment on and embarassment at his remarks to the veiw that they:

served to start a national dialogue about what options we have to deter al-Qaeda and other would-be Islamic terrorists.

Twice in the column Tancredo makes absurd leaps of logic in an effort to obscure the central issues of the morality or utility of a threat on Muslim holy sites. Here's the first:

[I]n this battle against fundamentalist Islam, I am hardly preoccupied with political correctness, or who may or may not be offended. Indeed, al-Qaeda cares little if the Western world is "offended" by televised images of hostages beheaded in Iraq, subway bombings in London, train attacks in Madrid, or Americans jumping to their death from the Twin Towers as they collapsed.

In fact Tancredo is preoccupied with attention-getting statements that play to the frustrated edge of the conservative camp that sees any denunciation of "political correctness" as an endorsement of their desire for blunt talk against media elites.

But not threatening Islamic countries and populations with the destruction of the places they devoutly esteem is not p.c.-generated double-talk. It is sensible respect for a vast group of Muslims abroad and a few million Muslims who are our fellow citizens from whom we must ask cooperation and to whom we must pledge a non-bigoted appreciation for their religious choices.

The jump Tancredo makes from Americans disgusted with his foolishness to al Qaeda's reactions to American outrage is incoherent. Really, incoherent.

The next incoherence follows quickly:

People have accused me of creating more terrorism by making these statements. Indeed, we often hear that Western governments bring these attacks on themselves.

Tancredo's foolishness will no doubt be used, as was Dick Durbin's outrageous comparison of the American military to Nazis and Khmer Rouge, by propagandists for Islamist extremists. But Tancredo's attemp to hide himself under the wings of John Howard and other eloquent spokesmen who reject the dangeorus idea that the West is generating the attacks on itself overlooks Howard's --and Blair's and Bush's-- refusal to be drawn into Islam bashing or incediary rhetoric like Tancredo's. On Thursday, Howard bluntly stated, again:

"[T]his is about the perverted use of the principles of a great world religion, that at its root preaches peace and cooperation, and I think we lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances rather than the abuse through a perverted ideology of people and their murder."

Serious leaders in the West refuse to indulge the hatred for a different religion that is implicit in Tancredo's frothings. No doubt Tancredo and his supporters deem Howard, Blair, and Bush "soft" on terrorism.

Tancredo then quotes a couple of extremist Islamists and/or apologists for such extremist Islamists before finishing with this flourish --a libel on every Muslim who has indeed condemned terror and especially on the between 5,000 and 10,000 Muslims serving in the American military:

Fundamentalist Muslims have advocated the destruction of the West since long before the attacks of Sept. 11, long before the Madrid, London and Bali attacks, long before the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, long before the attack on the USS Cole and the 1993 WTC bombing.

In many respects, the decision of "moderate" Muslims to acquiesce to these actions and even provide tacit justification for them is just as damaging to global safety and security as the attacks themselves.

Until "mainstream" Islam can bring itself to stop rationalizing terrorist attacks and start repudiating and purging people like Ali and Hajjar from its ranks who do, this war will continue. As long as this war goes on, being "offended" should be the least of anyone's worries.

This insult to every Muslim who has courageously stood up to Islamist terror should not be allowed to pass uncondemned by supporters of the GWOT. There needs to be more and more and louder and louder condemnation of Islamist terror from within Islam. There needs to be more and more cooperation from among Muslims in the identification of Islamist threats at home and abroad. But Tancredo's absurd hypotheticals injure that prospect. The Congressman needs to review the record, finding the good --not just the evil-- and praising it. He might want to start with the fact the Muslim community in upstate New York helped DOJ uncover and halt the operation of a cell there.

If you were a Muslim, would Tancredo's outrageous speculations make you more or less likely to assist in the GWOT? Obviously the latter. After braving Islamist threats to help the authorities break a cell, you open the paper and find that your holy places will be "on the table" if terror takes another huge toll in the United States.

"Being 'offended'" is not my worry.

Having progress in the GWOT compromised handicapped by a publicity-seeking Congressman is my worry. Handing propaganda to Islamists is my worry. Encouraging the wrong-headed belief that the world cannot be made safe until Islam is destropyed is my worry.

Here are some basic facts for Tancredo fans to ponder:

"Islam is the second-largest religion in the world, counting more than 1.3 billion believers. Americans have the misconception that all Muslims are Arabs and that all Arabs are Muslims. In fact, less than 20 percent of the Muslims in the world are Arab, and all Arab countries have populations that believe in other religions. The nation with the world's largest Islamic population is Indonesia -- 88 percent of its 280 million people are Muslims.

In the United States, Islam is the fastest growing religion, a trend fueled mostly by immigration. There are 5 million to 7 million Muslims in the United States. They make up between 10,000 and 20,000 members of the American military.

Army Chaplain (Capt.) Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad is a Muslim Imam stationed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. In his chaplaincy, he ministers to all faiths."

The United State is locked in a deadly war with Islamists who would indeed use nukes against American cities if they could, or any other WMD for that matter. There are some states that support these Islamists, including the governments of Iran and Syria, and some of the elites in Saudi Arabia.

But there are also governments like those in Eygpt, Jordan, and Pakistan that are providing us enormously valuable assistance in the war, governements which come under huge pressure from their fundamentalist Muslim populations to stop assisting the "crusaders."

Tancredo made all of their jobs more difficult, and ours as well, by sounding exactly like a Christian jihadist would sound, even though it is clearly contrary to Christian teachings to threaten retaliation against non-combatants even in a just war.

I have repeatedly invited Congressman Tancredo on my show over the past week. He has declined every opportunity, and Tancredo fans have repeatedly asked me to "drop it." Well, Tancredo doubled down today, and his attempt to camouflage his inanity in a variety of ways does nothing but highlight again and again why he doesn't deserve invitations to GOP events or leadership positions in Washington.

"Supporting" Congressman Tancredo on this issue identifies you as an American interested in comforting noise rather than progress in the GWOT.

The first rule of any conflict is to unite your allies and divide your enemies. Congressman Tancredo's hypothetical has had exactly the opposite impact. It will be crucial that those allies understand what an outlier he is.

I am sure I will hear --again-- from all the "realists" who want to quote the Koran to me and instruct me on how blind I am to the threat of Islam. Look, feel free to write me, but try and find at least one quote from a serious conservative on the American or world stage to back you up. Dick Cheney's pretty solid, right? So is Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, right? O.K., then, send me some citations to their Tancredo-like remarks. There's a reason they are leading and Tancredo is simply milking rage and anger for personal benefit. They are interested in the national security and victory in the GWOT. Congressman Tancredo is interested in, well, Congressman Tancredo. tOR

copyright 2005 Hugh Hewitt


theOneReublic Principal Contributor Hugh Hewitt is an author, television commentator and syndicated talk-show host of the Salem Radio Network's Hugh Hewitt Show, heard in over 40 markets around the country. He blogs regularly at and he frequently contributes opinion pieces to the Weekly Standard.

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