Still on vacation, technically speaking. Here’s the site update: half of the Big Little Book update. It starts out with promise and hits a lull – just as I cut away for a day! Come back tomorrow for the Exciting Conclusion.

Okay, a picture: Easter in Fargo. Candy arrangement.

Still here? War and politics, then. I implore you not to read it; I just reread it and I’m depressed. And on such a lovely evening, too. Ah well: you’ve been warned.

Hugh Hewitt asked the big question tonight: of the world’s billion-plus Muslims, how many support the butchers who hacked the head off the Pennsylvania contractor? One percent? Ten? Either number stands for a lot of people. I was walking Jasper Dog while listening to the show, and a few thoughts popped up.

There are five reactions one could have to such acts, committed by a coreligionist: Endorsement, Indifference, Denial, Rejection, Participation.

Denial: I’m sure you’ve heard this before: “Islam is a religion of peace.” But those people committed horrible violence in the name of Islam. “Then they are not true Muslims. No Muslim could do this.” Rinse, repeat. It’s the theological equivalent of putting your hands over your ears and humming loudly.

Rejection: This would be speaking out singly or in concert with fellow Muslims, denouncing the acts without making the entire peroration an elaborate plinth on which to place the word “BUT.”

Indifference: I’m a Muslim in Indonesia. I work in a bank. I’m not particularly devout. I like a beer on a hot day, and you know what? They’re all hot days. Some guys slit someone’s throat in Iraq. I think that’s wrong and I think that’s stupid. And what do you expect me to do about it?

Endorsement: I’m not sure what constitutes endorsement – silent pleasure among others not of the faith, chortling delight when you’re with friends. Or perhaps nothing more than thanking Allah when you hear certain things have been done in Allah’s name, and never acting or speaking a way that supports the jihadist’s cause.

Participation. It’s obvious what this means.

Here’s the crux: of these five aspects, four assist the jihadists in one form or another, and the fifth – Rejection – all too often takes a passive form. Hugh had a Somali Muslim on his show from Minneapolis; they spoke for almost 40 minutes, and the guy’s heart was in the right place. He sounded like a decent fellow. He said the Imam of his mosque regularly preached against the nutball Islamists. One hundred million more like him, please. But where are the rallies and marches outside the Saudi embassies demanding an end to funding extremism?

CAIR issued a rote condemnation of the beheading today. Fine. Then CAIR does this:

One overt political note was sounded as U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, was introduced and given CAIR's public-official-of-the-year award for his support of the Muslim community.

Before giving McDermott his plaque, Samia El-Moslimany, CAIR vice chair, announced "tremendous news."

She told the crowd that the King County Democratic Party, meeting earlier in the day elsewhere within the Convention Center, had voted into its platform a commitment to "withhold U.S. tax dollars from Israel while it is in violation of international law."

"This is a memorable day," said El-Moslimany.

Whether the platform demands that the US should withhold tax dollars from the Palestinian Authority until Arafat holds an actual election, I don’t know. The article concluded:

Atefeh Naeemi, a young Iranian-born American, compared the pressures currently facing her community to those faced by African Americans in Jim Crow days and Japanese Americans during World War II.

"Maybe this is the Muslim-American time to be tested," Naeemi said.

He’s right. More than he knows.

The West doesn’t have the power to change Islam; it only has the power to destroy it. We have a lot of nukes. We could kill everyone. We could just take out a few troublesome nations, kill millions, and irradiate Mecca so that the Fifth Pillar is invalidated. The hajj would be impossible. Every pilgrim a martyr. I don’t think we’ll do either; God help us if we do, but inasmuch as we have the capability, it’s an option. But it would be a crime greater than the crime that provoked such an act, and in the end that would stay our hand. They know we won’t do it.

Strong horse, weak horse.

There is another path, of course. Simply put: if a US city is nuked, the US will have to nuke someone, or let it stand that the United States can lose a city without cost to the other side. Defining “the other side” would be difficult, of course – do you erase Tehran to punish the mullahs? Make a crater out of Riyahd? These are exactly the sort of decisions we never want to make. But let’s say it happens. Baltimore: fire and wind. Gone. That horrible day would clarify things once and for all. It’s one thing for someone in a distant city to cheer the fall of two skyscrapers: from a distance, it looks like a bloody nose. But erasing a city is a different matter.
Everyone will have to choose sides. That would be one possible beginning of the end of this war.

Thankfully, it’s not the only one. There are a dozen other scenarios, half of which we can’t imagine: the unknowns we don’t know, as a wise man said. But half the battle will occur in places we cannot reach or observe. A minimal-casualty defeat of the Islamists will require the help of Islam. I'd like to think that will happen on its own, without some exterior catastrophe to force the issue. For that matter I'd like to think I'll win the Powerball. Every time the jackpot goes over 200 million, I buy a ticket. Every time I lose. I'm always disappointed, of course. But never surprised.
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c. 1995-2004 j. lileks