The Spine

“A War Is A War. A War Is Not A Crime, And You Don’t Bring Your Enemies To A Courthouse.”

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It is so simple. And elegant. What’s more, it is also true.

Why are so many liberal Democrats reluctant to concede that there is an intricate international network of ideological gangsters who recognize each other as ikhwan? These brothers do not define themselves by nation. They define themselves by religion, although there are many hundreds of millions of Muslims who are defined out--and define themselves out--of the bloody fraternity of the faithful. Sometimes, they too are stigmatized as enemies, which means they are also targets. And, of course, there are the boundaries of sect, in which Sunnis commit mass murder of Shi’a at prayer (and vice versa).

Then there are the other designated victims: outsiders … us. Not just Westerners and certainly not just Americans. Or Jews, for that matter, although they have a very special place in the demonology of Islam, and particularly in the armed demonology of Islam. Jihad.

(Jihad is not what that momentarily famous Harvard graduate and already-then Hamas supporter Zayed Yasin tried to make it out to be at Commencement 2002, something like “self-improvement” or a gloss on the Maslovian term from the sixties, “self-actualization.” He pulled off this fraud with the cahoots of a faculty committee made up of bitterly (and almost comically) anti-Israel classicist Richard Thomas, English lit professor Robert Kiely, the ever so pompous high church Baptist “preacher to the university” Peter Gomes, deanling--and Jewish--Michael Shinagel, eternal deanling Richard M. Hunt, and voice coach Nancy Houfek. Even then, the Harvard community was outraged by these mostly nothings giving cover to a lie and not, by any means, an innocent lie. How does this fraud look now when everyone knows what jihad really means?)

(As I looked up the details of this controversy I came across some remarkable postings by Matthew Yglesias. They were all against the fiction that the cause of the jihadist was a first amendment cause. They were what you might as well call “pro-Israel.” What the heck happened to you, Matt? Fall into line with your public?)

Jihad is not a crime in the U.S. criminal code. Neither is it or anything comparable mentioned in any of the laws of war. The fact is that (I don’t know how many) millions and millions around the world think that, while jihad and jihadists aim at the lives of heretics and idolators, this is good killing, vouchsafed by God and certified in paradise. That is what the West is facing. That is what many parts of Asia and Africa are facing. And that is what the riven Arab and Islamic worlds, both for and against, are also confronting. Who knows who will actually triumph there?

Insisting that acts of jihad are civilian crimes is trying to make them look de minimis. And one man who was a prosecutor of such crimes has launched a campaign to show why they are not.

The man is Andrew C. McCarthy, now retired from his post as U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, and he has mounted a campaign against what he thinks is Eric Holder’s cosmically stupid insistence on civilian criminal trials for what are war crimes.

An article on McCarthy by an old friend, Benjamin Weiser, on the front page of Saturday’s New York Times--an informative and non-judgmental article--actually allows the reader to judge whether McCarthy or Holder is correct. There is something of a narrative of past prosecutions that will help you judge.

Mary Jo White, also a former U.S. attorney, a heroine of a U.S. attorney, also shows up in Weiser’s report. Read McCarthy’s and her comments carefully.

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