Let’s get past the question of why anyone would think that Americans forgot about angry muslims attacking us six years ago. That seems vanishingly unlikely when at any given time a Republican is running for office somewhere. Rather, what strikes me the about David Horowitz’s latest publicity stunt is the remarkable degree to which David and his drooling followers seem utterly unaware of the actual threat. Reading through a typical rightwing blog or speech by 9/11-humping candidates like Giuliani you get the impression that they have no idea that al Qaeda is a Sunni movement that detests Shiites and secular Arab leaders as much as they detest us, that Zarqawi spent most of AQI’s energy attacking the Shiite community, that Iran and the Sunni Arab world view one another with thinly veiled hostility. The idea that Israel and Iran shared a 20th century strategic arrangement that ranged from diplomatic refuge during the Holocaust to Israel intervening on Iran’s behalf during the hostage crisis has not and will never penetrate Horowitz’s pointy little head.
This is not a trivial point. Our true enemies, in the sense of the people who attacked us unprovoked, represent a small minority of hardened extremists. Their long-term strategy and even their very survival depends on mainstreaming their radical ideas into a broader arab movement. To the degree that we nurture the modernist and moderate factions of muslim society and emphasize the differences between them and the cave-dwelling nuts, al Qaeda loses. But to the degree that we lump all of Islam into a mistrusted category that gets strip searched, disappeared, tortured and denounced without discrimination bin Laden’s fringe movement wins big time. When moderate muslims cannot travel in the west without narrow-eyed suspicion or even open abuse from a Malkin-inspired hysteric, anti-western preachings sound more and more credible.
That second line is a great zinger, but the substantive point is solid as well. There is a threat to America from Islamic extremists. But a) they are not a monolith and b) they are not more dangerous than, inter alia, Hitler or the Soviet Union. Get a grip. And stop helping terrorists.