Big Brother vs. Jihad

As a general rule, the “War on Terror” has presented us with two basic alternatives: watery secularist ideology vs. inflamed monotheistic ideology.

The watery secularist ideology is everywhere in evidence.  There’s the preposterous idea of a War on Terror (everyone remembers the War on Aviation after Pearl Harbor, right?).  There’s the complete confusion of our elites about how to name the enemy, illustrated perfectly by the pathologically PC final line of a short article from the September 19, 2007 New York Post about a teen who distributed fliers in his teachers' mailboxes asking them to convert to Islam and then made threats when he was caught:

The student's religion was not immediately known.

Uh huh.

This gutless tendency to bow before his own relativist dictates leads many a watery secularist to cravenly submit every time Islam demands submission.  Indeed, some watery secularists are so ready to submit that they do so even when nobody tells them to.  For example, a Chicago school district recently panicked when one Muslim parent asked for a couple of Ramadan decorations in addition to Christmas school decor.  The district issued a draconian decree banning all references to Christmas and Halloween.  The poor Muslim parent was aghast, intending no such “make a desert and call it peace” response from the district.  Eventually, a bunch of other Muslims and Christians in the school district calmed the nerves of the jittery school officials and got them to restore their traditional holiday observances, with a couple Ramadan references tossed in.

So spineless is much of our culture in the face of Jihad, it is easy to imagine this as the only response we can muster.  But as a recent story in the September 19, 2007 Washington Post makes clear, secularism can take other--more disturbing--forms.  Here’s the scoop in a piece with the rather creepy title “U.S. Working to Reshape Iraqi Detainees”:

The U.S. military has introduced "religious enlightenment" and other education programs for Iraqi detainees, some of whom are as young as 11, Marine Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone, the commander of U.S. detention facilities in Iraq, said yesterday.

Stone said such efforts, aimed mainly at Iraqis who have been held for more than a year, are intended to "bend them back to our will" and are part of waging war in what he called "the battlefield of the mind." Most of the younger detainees are held in a facility that the military calls the "House of Wisdom."

I remember when conservatives had a field day with the Clintonian attempts to transform the military into an extension of the Nanny State and an intercontinental Meals on Wheels program.  Back then, conservatives rightly understood that social engineering was not the military’s job.

Now we live in the Age of Dubyacanism, when the military is tasked by the Administration with the job of detaining 25,000 people (including hundreds of kids down to the age of 11) on who-knows-what charges for who-knows-how-long in a positively Orwellian-sounding “House of Wisdom” devoted to—and I can hardly believe I am saying this—acting as the Magisterium for Islam.  Their mission: bend detainees to our will until some faceless technician decides their religious beliefs are up to the high standards of the culture that gave us Madonna, the Folsom Street Leather and Bondage Fair, and Roe v. Wade.   At no point in the entire article are we given a clue how these 25,000 people, including kids, wound up in Islamic re-education camps for an indefinite period.  At no point do we hear how the House of Wisdom is viewed by the population of the country whose family members are detained there.  We are simply to trust that they belong there and that Caesar knows what he’s doing.  Indeed, according to Gen. Stone, the head of this allegedly sovereign state hopes that everybody in the whole country could enjoy the benefits of an American theological re-education camp:

He quoted Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi as saying that "America could win the war if they just applied the exact process that you're putting in detention to the rest of the entire nation," in Stone's words.

What could be creepy about that? What Christian in this country would not gladly submit to having their kids put in a re-education camp if the police thought their views out of sync with state guidelines? And what is the military for if not policing theology?

Now, no doubt terrorists must be defeated in the war of hearts and minds as well as on the battlefield and by our law enforcement experts.  But the article gives us no clue where these 25,000 people come from.  Who did the arresting?  Why?  Nobody knows.  Nor does the language used in the article provide assurances that these people are POWs:

Stone said that youths grow up to become insurgents by starting out as messengers, guards and even planters of makeshift bombs.

Note that: these kids are there not because of what they have done, but because of what they might do.

The Bush Administration’s newly minted Department of Pre-Crime assures us of Peace and Safety:

Stone said he wants to identify "irreconcilables" -- those detainees whose views cannot be moderated -- and "put them away" in permanent detention facilities. Psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and interrogators help distinguish the extremists from others, he said.

And we can, of course, always be sure that when Caesar declares you an "irreconcilable" he knows what he is talking about, because he says he does. Which saves a great deal of time and energy because you don't even have to have fired a shot when they lock you up and throw away the key. You can be as young as 11 and be "detained"--maybe forever--on the word of a psych evaluator and without all that costly fuss of a trial or even a hostile act.

I miss wars when the military was tasked with either killing or capturing the enemy. The attempt to turn the military into a weird combination of Islamic Magisterium and Re-education Camp is pernicious and dangerous.

Copyright 2007 - Mark P. Shea