Again, we’ll see. Trump, like Obama before, had lots of emollient things to say about Islam. Trump also said that “this is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people all in the name of religion.”
I hope that is true. Is it? The true answer, I suspect, is both yes and no. Yes, it is is often true “on the ground,” in actual practice—except when it isn’t. I think my friend Andrew McCarthy is right when he observes in The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America that ultimately the gravest danger posed by Islam to the West is not terrorism but the “stealth jihad” which endeavors to spread sharia, i.e., Islamic law, by infiltrating and corrupting democratic institutions. It’s a sterling trick of using and abusing democratic freedoms in order, ultimately, to abolish them. Day one: “You must allow the hijab in the name of religious freedom!” Day two: “You must forbid pork products because they contravene Islamic law!” You know the drill.
How exactly this will all play out I do not know. But I thought that Trump’s speech, indeed his entire visit to Saudi Arabia, was a tremendous success. I am not discounting the many things to criticize about that strange theocratic, oil-sodden backwater. It would be nice to drag them into the modern world and encourage them to change their behavior towards Christians, towards Jews, towards women, and towards other groups they oppress. Fewer beheadings, more beneficence should be the operative mantra. Trump’s intervention, appealing to shared interests, might just represent the first few steps on that road.