The "war" part of the war on terror is pretty much over, and we're now fighting it culturally, rhetorically. Which is not something we do well. Take the British prime minister and his traditional nothing-to-do-with-Islam statement, issued in the wake of the Kenyan shopping-mall carnage:
These appalling terrorist attacks that take place where the perpetrators claim they do it in the name of a religion: They don't. They do it in the name of terror, violence and extremism and their warped view of the world. They don't represent Islam, or Muslims in Britain or anywhere else in the world.
Same with the Muslims who beheaded a British soldier, Drummer Rigby, on a London street in broad daylight. On that occasion, David Cameron assured us that the unfortunate incident was "a betrayal of Islam. . . . There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act."
How does he know? Mr. Cameron is not (yet) a practicing Muslim. A self-described "vaguely practicing" Anglican, he becomes rather less vague and unusually forceful and emphatic when the subject turns to Islam. At the Westgate mall in Nairobi, the terrorists separated non-Muslim hostages from Muslims and permitted the latter to leave if they could recite a Muslim prayerâ€”a test I doubt Mr. Cameron could have passed, for all his claims to authority on what is and isn't Islamic. So the perpetrators seem to think it's something to do with Islamâ€”and, indeed, something to do with Muslims in the United Kingdom, given that the terrorists included British subjects (as well as U.S. citizens).
It was a busy weekend for Nothing to Do with Islam. Among the other events that were nothing to do with Islam were the murder of over 85 Pakistani Christians at All Saints' Church in Peshawar and the beheading of Ricardo Dionio in the Philippines by BIFF, the aggressively acronymic breakaway faction (the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) from the more amusingly acronymic MILF (the Moro Islamic Liberation Front). Despite a body count higher than Kenya, the Pakistani slaughter received barely a mention in the Western media. You'd be hard put to find an Anglican church in England with a big enough congregation on a Sunday morning to kill 85 worshipers therein, but in Peshawar, a 99 percent Muslim city, the few remaining Christians are not of the "vaguely practicing" Cameron variety. Viewed from London, however, they've already lost: One day there will be no Christians in Peshawar and the city will be 100 percent Muslim. It may be "nothing to do with Islam," but it's just the way it is: We accept the confessional cleansing of Pakistan, as we do of Egypt, because it's part of "the Muslim world." Nairobi, on the other hand, is not, and a murderous assault on an upscale shopping mall patronized by Kenya's elite and wealthy secular expats gets far closer to the comfort zone wherein David Cameron "vaguely practices": In a "clash of civilizations" in which one side doesn't want to play, a shattered church has less symbolic resonance than a shattered frozen-yogurt eatery.
On this side of the Atlantic, meanwhile, the Canadian branch of the Islamic Society of North America lost its charitable status after it was revealed to be funding all that jihad stuff that's nothing to do with Islam. This presented a small problem for Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal party, son of Pierre, and on course to be the Queen's dimmest prime minister of her six-decade reign: Where David Cameron is a silky, slippery deceiver who surely knows better, young Justin seems genuinely to believe the mush he serves up. Asked to explain his recent photo-op at the now-discredited ISNA, he replied: "Part of my job is to speak with as many Canadians as possible and talk to people about the kinds of shared values we have."
I don't suppose M. Trudeau really means he "shares values" with terrorism supporters, but he does get to the heart of the problem: To put it at its mildest, there seem to be insufficient "shared values" between Western societies and a not-insignificant number of young Muslim men who are nominally and legally citizens thereof. One survivor of the Westgate mall said, "I don't understand why you would shoot a five-year-old child." But what's to understand? The child was shot because he was not Muslim. Five-year-olds died at All Saints' Church for the same reasonâ€”because, even in a town that's 99 percent Muslim, a non-Muslim kindergartner is a provocation. Crazy, huh? Yet it is not inconceivable that the man who executed the five-year-old at the Westgate mall was one of those "British subjects" or "U.S. citizens." That's to say, he's not some primitive from the fringes of the map but someone who has grown up in the same society as Justin Trudeau and decided that Justin's "shared values" are worthless.
To be charitable to Mr. Cameron, he is trying to point out that very few Muslims want to stare a five-year-old in the eye and pull the trigger. But, likewise, very few of them want to do anything seriousâ€”in their mosques and madrassahsâ€”about the culture that incubates such men. The prime minister is betting that all the clever chaps like him can keep the lid on and hold things to what, at the height of the Northern Irish "Troubles," cynical British officials privately called "an acceptable level of violence." A combined weekend corpse count of 150 is, apparently, "acceptable"â€”or at any rate not sufficiently unacceptable to prompt any reconsideration of a British, Canadian, and European immigration policy that makes Islam the principal source of Western population growth.
But don't worry: As John McCain says of our Syrian "allies," "Allahu akbar" simply means "Thank God." Thank God for that.