Yesterday’s London terror attack serves as a reminder to Western democracies about the continuing danger of radical Islam and jihadism. This is a danger that poses a far greater threat to Europe than it does to the US and Canada, for simple reasons of geography and demographics. Yet, how does a government that values rule of law, civil liberties, and diversity target the type of Islamic extremism that fuels such attacks? How does a Western democracy stamp out radicalism, while safeguarding the rights and liberties of Muslims in their midst?
As a libertarian, I feel the very first step we must take is making a clear and unmistakable distinction between “Muslims” and “Islamists”, both in our personal lives and our public policy. This is a distinction that is clear enough, but in the age of hysteria on both ends of the political spectrum, is often lost in the commotion. Regardless of political ideology, or party, or age, or gender, or anything else, the vast vast majority of citizens in a Western democracy are going to support the right of Muslims to practice their religion and way of life, free of government interference. This, after all, is enshrined in our law and Constitution.
- Read More: Why Liberals Must Call Out Islamic Terrorism
- Read More: Viewing Trump’s Travel Ban Through the Prism of Pragmatism
The problem in the Muslim community arises when radicalism, often expressed in the austere forms of Salafism or Wahhabism, emerges in local mosques. As Brussels mayor Yvan Mayeur recently noted in an interview with De Morgen newspaper, “Everyone knows that all our mosques in Brussels are in the hands of Salafists.” This is a serious problem.
Adherents to this extreme form of thinking are likely to soon reject allegiance to a nation, in favor of allegiance to Islam. They are likely to reject the rule of law in favor of sharia law. They are likely to reject liberal democracy in favor of radical theocracy. First they endeavor to impose their view on their own mosque. Then on other Muslims in their community. Then upon all Muslims. And finally, they seek to impose sharia law upon the citizens of Western democracies.
Clearly, the Islamic world is broad and diverse. The majority of Muslim immigrants to Europe choose to embrace the values and concepts upon which Western democracies and societies are founded. But we can not allow the dictates of political correctness to blind us to the reality that a significant percentage does not. They do not wish to assimilate into a secular society, or heed man-made laws, or pledge allegiance to a modern state. This type of thinking is encouraged in radical mosques and social media, spreading through Europe like a cancer.
It is important for the ruling classes throughout the Western world, to strongly consider the effects of their budgetary and public policy decisions. We do not need massive standing armies, with trillion dollar navies and air forces…with their octopus-like tentacles stretching across the globe. The nature of military conflict has forever changed. Apart from a few isolated rogue regimes such as North Korea and Iran, there is little need for such costly military buildup.
Western democratic leaders should collaborate to focus on fighting dangerous terrorism networks, not delve into the realm of nation building. We have seen the disastrous effects and destabilization of nation building in Iraq.
Extremism on both ends speaks loudly to democratic concerns. Perhaps no individual better personifies the concerns of the European right than Dutch MP Geert Wilders, whose Freedom Party recently placed second in Dutch elections. Wilders undoubtedly raises some interesting points, and he is correct to be concerned about the effects of Islam in Western Europe. Yet, his militant brand of nationalism is fundamentally a threat to the values which we hold dear: tolerance, diversity, religious freedom, respect for the rule of law.
In the wake of Donald Trump‘s victory, a new class of American left-wing activists has arisen: the social justice warrior. These millennial, college-educated, products of privileged upbringings are militant advocates for the rights of oppressed and downtrodden peoples…even to the detriment of the Constitution, the rule of law, or common sense.
Although American law clearly gives the president the power to set restrictions on immigration and refugees, that is of little consequence to the social justice warrior class, who revel in seeing America flooded with immigrants and refugees, regardless of national security or financial considerations.
It should be fundamentally obvious, even to liberal Democrats, that questions of immigration and refugees must be evaluated on a case by case basis. It would be preposterous, say, to apply the same standards to Somalia and Switzerland, or Afghanistan and Australia, or Iraq and Ireland.
But explain that to a social justice warrior, and then wait for the fireworks. Charges of “discrimination”, “racism”, and “Islamophobia” will soon fly.
The fact of the matter is this: Immigrants and refugees from Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq pose a far greater danger to the national security, not to mention the finances, of the United States (or Europe) than do those from Switzerland, Australia, or Ireland.
These are nations where 30% or 40% of national territory is controlled by radical jihadist terrorist organizations; these same organizations have, in many cases, promised to use immigrants and refugees to bring jihad to American and European shores. This is a serious concern.
And it is hardly “Islamophobia” to proceed with extreme caution regarding our public policy when it comes to such nations. It is hardly “discrimination” to suggest that 10,000 Iraqi or Afghan immigrants should be subject to more vetting and verification than 10,000 Swiss or Spanish immigrants. It is basic common sense. According to a recent Pew Research study, 99% of Afghans and 91% of Iraqis support sharia law. That is a serious problem, and we do ourselves no favors by failing to question whether such people could have a reasonable expectation of successfully assimilating into American society.
But let’s also eschew the right-wing nationalism that has been on the ascendancy recently, that is also, in some significant ways, in conflict with libertarian principles. Islam, per se, is not the problem. Islamism is the problem. We have no problem with Muslims who seek to practice their religion in peace, while respecting the religious traditions of others. Our problem is with those who would seek to impose their views on others.
So…as libertarians, let’s remember what our basic principles are. Let’s remember what our nations were founded upon. Let’s remember the basic non-aggression principle. As British philosopher John Locke first wrote, “Being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.”
Or, as libertarian economist Murray Rothbard wrote three decades later, “No one may threaten or commit violence (‘aggress’) against another man’s person or property. Violence may be employed only against the man who commits such violence; that is, only defensively against the aggressive violence of another. In short, no violence may be employed against a nonaggressor. Here is the fundamental rule from which can be deduced the entire corpus of libertarian theory.”
To European and American Muslims who embrace our values, our laws, and our form of government, our message is this: welcome. You will always be at home here and you can count on equal protection under our laws.
To European and American Muslims who seek to violate the non-aggression principle, who seek to impose sharia law, and who fundamentally reject our values and our government, we must be prepared to do battle.
But let’s not forget this critically important distinction between the former and the latter.