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We Don't Know What We Don't Know

Reader comment on item: [The Need to Name and] Know Thy Terrorists

Submitted by George McFadden (United States), Nov 21, 2002 at 22:03

This is an adversary whose characteristics go beyond the collective or individual memories of our population. Militant Islam, informed as it is by 7th century tribalism, is possessed of a sadistic brutality that goes beyond what most Americans can even imagine, never mind relate to on a personal level.

But militant Islamists know us. They have visited, stayed, gone to school, married, had children and lived life in the West, and have been welcomed by our good nature, tolerance and enlightened values. Some have betrayed that trust and, in a way that gives the lie to their own tribal beliefs, have violated the sacrosanct hospitality they say they value. This is a great game of cultural jujitsu and we will have to adjust to win.

It starts by admitting the problem. But militant Islamists underestimate us and cannot see us for what we are either, bound as they are to viewing everything and everyone through the hateful lens formed by their brutal and archaic beliefs. Just as First Amendment rights don't extend to crying 'Fire' in a crowded theater, it mustn't extend to using a religion - regardless of its world stature - as a means to subvert and destroy America. That is our challenge for the 21st century and we'll figure it out,while our enemies continue to find themselves stuck in the brutal Hobbsian world of 7th century Arabia.

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