From the Vatican to the Pentagon, goodwill gestures offered to the Muslim world too often blow up in the West's collective face. The nicer we are to them, the harsher they are to us.
The olive branch Pope Benedict XVI extended to Muslims is obscured by the smoke that has billowed since his address at Bavaria's Regensburg University. The pope cited a conversation between "an educated Persian" and the 14th-century Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Paleologus. They discussed, the pope said Sept. 7, "the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both." He then quoted Paleologus who said: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."
The pope described this comment's "startling brusqueness" and later recommended a "genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today." He added: "we invite our partners" into such discourse.
The pope's call for Christian and Islamic interchange ignited days of Muslim rage. Demonstrators in London waved placards that read "Islam will conquer Rome" and "Jesus is the slave of Allah."
"You infidels and despots," the Mujahedeen Shura Council warned in an online communiqué, "we will continue our jihad and never stop until God avails us to chop your necks."
Muslim hotheads torched seven churches in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Likely infuriated by the pope's speech, two gunmen in Mogadishu, Somalia, fatally shot Sister Leonella Sgorbati, 65, four times in her back. They also killed a bodyguard at the children's hospital where the Catholic nun worked.
Oh, well. So much for dialogue.
Great Britain has shown great sensitivity toward Muslims, some 1.6 million of whom live there in peace; some even serve in Parliament. After a Muslim employee complained, municipal workers in Dudley were told to remove pig-related items from their desks, including one worker's tissue box decorated with Winnie the Pooh and Piglet. As Mark Steyn explained last spring, local councilor Mahbubur Rahman endorsed the ban on objects festooned with pigs, which Muslims consider unclean. "It is a good thing," Rahman said. "It is a tolerance and acceptance of their beliefs and understanding."
The British National Health Service recently unveiled a veil it calls "the Inter-faith Gown." This is, essentially, an institutional-green burqa with which devout Muslim women can cover themselves from head to toe in public hospitals.
So far, such political correctness has failed to cool the ire of radical Muslims. British police on Sept. 2 arrested 14 men told NBC News they had "no regrets" about their decision. (It would behoove the New York Times to learn that the patriots at NBC first persuaded the Pentagon to declassify a Predator photo of the Taliban fighters before it broadcast that war-zone image.)
The Taliban subsequently has hammered Coalition forces in some of that conflict's most intense combat yet. They also showed no American-style mercy at the funeral last Sept. 11 of Paktia Provincial Gov. Abdul Hakim Taniwal. A suicide bomber used that occasion in Khost to kill six mourners and injure 25 others. The previous day, a Taliban suicide bomber had killed Taniwal, his nephew, and his bodyguard.
Amid such mounting carnage, GOP Sens. Susan Collins, Lindsay Graham, John McCain and John Warner have joined Democrats to limit President Bush's plan to keep interrogating terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay within Geneva Convention restrictions the Supreme Court imposed last June.
These gelatinous Republicans must believe America tortures Gitmo detainees — never mind the taxpayer-funded, culturally correct meals, library books, and the extensive worship, recreation, dental care, and medicine these Islamofascists enjoy. Tough questioning, such as "waterboarding" or simulated drowning, makes terrorists talk. That's how U.S. interrogators encouraged Khalid Sheik Mohammed to detail how he masterminded al Qaeda's Sept. 11 attacks. He then ratted out Hambali, the man behind the October 2002 Bali bombing that killed 202, and "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla. Both are now safely in custody.
Al Qaeda honcho Abu Zubaida stayed quiet until interrogators stuck him in a cold room and blasted the corrosive music of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Zubaida cried uncle and began to talk. He helped America find terrorists Ramzi bin-al-Shibh in Pakistan, Amar-al-Faruq in Indonesia, Rahim al-Nashiri in Kuwait, and Muhammad al Darbi in Yemen.
These interrogations help America connect the dots. Stopping them, as McCain and company would do, disconnects the dots. This likely will blow more Americans to smithereens.
If McCain and his pals worry about torture, they should ponder the daily agony of the loved ones of the people who were killed on Sept. 11 and never even recovered from ground zero. Assuring that Islamic fanatics never again vaporize Americans is why we must squeeze captured terrorists until they sing.
Throwing olive branches at Islamofascists is beyond futile. This is the war on terror, not the Summer Olympics on terror. If America won't fight this like a war — and win — we might as well cut our losses, hand out the Qurans, and start the mass conversions.
Deroy Murdock is a New York-based columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a senior fellow with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.
By Deroy Murdock
Reprinted with permission from National Review Online