A little while ago we remarked on the government’s disingenuous account of the ‘root causes’ of ‘violent extremism’. Both President Obama and the State Department’s spokespigeon Marie Harf have painstakingly refused to identify Islamic jihad as Islamic jihad, and have tried to persuade us instead that the real problem is a lack of business opportunities.
It would be tempting to jeer at this as mere ignorance or stupidity (and many on the Right have done just that), but that’s obviously wrong: I know lots of ignorant and stupid people, and they have no trouble understanding that Islamic jihad is what it says it is. This is something else altogether.
Anyway, we ourselves were tut-tutted in our comment thread for reacting with such scorn to this populist propaganda. It is ‘trite and obvious’, we were told, that throughout history lack of opportunity has led to radicalization, and so all that stuff Mr. Obama and Ms. Harf were trying so hard to get us to swallow wasn’t the usual multi-culti Kool-Aid, but rather the cooling nectar of sweet reason.
This is hogwash, and everybody knows it. The idea that a lack of Western-style job opportunities is a sufficient explanation for ISIS’s campaign of conquest, rape, beheadings, torture, enslavement, immolation, vandalism, and related horrors is immediately and effortlessly rebutted by the fact that poverty and lack of opportunity are everywhere, and yet throughout the world today it is only Muslims who seem to be drawn to this behavior en masse. If your theory is correct, Ms. Harf, then where are all the mass beheadings by Brazilians, Haitians, Papuans, Eskimos, Gypsies, and Hindus?
It isn’t even true that poverty is correlated with radicalism among Muslims. Examples of well-to-do jihadis abound, but here’s today’s exhibit: the celebrity ISIS noggin-chopper known as ‘Jihad John’, who is, as it turns out, a Kuwaiti software engineer, from an affluent family, who has a C.S. degree from the University of Westminster.
No, I’m afraid the truth is what we all know it to be. The problem here is not the absence of jobs. It is the presence of Islam.