• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Take Terrorists at Their Word

    In the fight against terrorism, it is essential to know the enemy. In a recent presentation about his new book Battle for Our Minds, Michael Widlanski spoke about a collective “Islamyopia,” fueled by academia, elite media, and many government officials, that is blind to the political ideology of Islamism.

    Widlanski explained how experts such as Edward Said perpetuated misconceptions that we are not threatened by Islamist extremism. Said, for instance, despite the fact that he was an English professor and spoke no Arabic, became American academia’s favorite Middle Eastern scholar. Prior to 9/11, The New York Times published his opinion pieces stating that Ali Khomeini wasn’t an extremist, Saddam Hussein wasn’t a tyrant, and the U.S. wasn’t threatened by terrorism. These views colored intelligence and defense decisions despite opposing reports from field agents. Widlanksi said that the media, and by extension the American public, chose to listen to scholars like Said rather than those with actual on-the-ground insight into these movements. Adherence to this “doctrine of willful ignorance” has already cost thousands of lives.

    While we cannot fall into the trap of assuming the problem to be Islam itself, refusing to criticize the political ideology of Islamism is itself a dangerous ideology. According to Widlanski, the best way to evaluate the threat of terrorism is not reading the works of an Arabist who can’t even read Arabic. We need to listen more to what terrorist leaders are writing and what they are saying to one another—especially when they think no one else is listening. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has stated he wants to destroy America. Hamas’s mission is to destroy Israel. We need to take people at their word instead of choosing to ignore their not-so-subtle hints at their intentions. Instead of trying to be politically correct, we need to be factually correct. Al-Qaeda had a clear record of following through on its threats against the U.S., but many were still surprised by 9/11. With innocent lives on the line, there is no excuse for ignoring or belittling known threats to our safety and security.

    Caitlin Kincaid is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to Take Terrorists at Their Word

    1. Steve says:

      But if we start looking at the world realistically, what are all the liberal media, academics, intellectuals and political advisors going to do? Think of the impact that might have on the unemployment numbers!

    2. Lee says:

      Do you know of some case in which " With innocent lives on the line, …" someone is in fact "…ignoring or belittling known threats to our safety and security"? If not, why have you stated the obvious and why would your statement rate publication.

    3. AHR says:

      For a recent conversation with Dr. Widlanski click here. http://www.onejerusalem.org/2012/03/bloggers-conf

    4. Bobbie says:

      oh gee, I thought it said "take tourists at their word!" No thanks to terrorists, their actions and words, uncivil law and religious beliefs lived, show to debunk any taking terrorists at their words in perpetual denial.

    5. DUHHH. This is called common sense, which of course the left has NONE of!

    6. Carol,AZ says:

      Excellent summary Caitlin._By time the normal words settle separated from the zoo speak coming from all directions, _A bank robber will be described making a "unauthorized withdrawal," _Terrorist backed cartels described as, " transitional gangs" _Illegal invaders from over 128 countries are called, " undocumented workers" _Terrorist from around the world that export terrorism paraded around D.C and bowed to by POTUS.
      Our press refuse to discuss -"genocide on our border" and spreading to South America."replaced by -"our borders are secured."
      "to serve and Protect these United State of America" are the words lest words spoken and "not heard.".

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×