The current disagreement over the Ground Zero Mosque is an important historical stop on a long timeline of cultural debate between Islamic supremacists and the West. Recruits and devotees of these violent Arab Islamic supremacists, such as Nidal Hasan, Faisal Shahzad, and Hosam Husein Smadi, all have something in common in their recent acts of terrorism. They all passionately believed the argument that the United States is mistreating Muslims. They felt this so strongly that they were willing to kill dozens if not hundreds of innocent people in order to communicate the "death as text" argument authored by their overlords in groups such as al-Qaeda.
The proliferation of these radicals raises questions about our own epistemic communities. Journalists, pundits, and our bloated politically correct elite class foster this pathological sense of anti-Americanism as part of their own self-centered moralism. Mere hours before Shahzad was stopped, Mayor Bloomberg could not help but gush at the ideologically bigoted guess that someone angry about the health insurance legislation had set the bomb at Times Square. Bloomberg continues to blunder over the recent Ground Zero Mosque.
Hasan, Shahzad, and Smadi did not have to sit at the knee of a bin Laden or Ahmadinejad to hold their views; they could read most of our popular newspapers, watch our television news, blog news such as at Huffington Post, or read popular books to gain the misguided notion that America is bigoted, mean, hateful, and violent toward Muslims. In one of my recent college classes here in Dallas, after the prevented bombing of one of the city's largest buildings by a Jordanian supremacist, I asked students to name any arguments that could be made to Muslims that the United States has helped Muslims. The debate class was silent and unable to muster a single argument.
That lack of argument is the great danger of our time. America is in fact the greatest defender of justice and well-being for Muslims, and our collective intelligentsia have for years refused to reveal the argument of "America helping Muslims" that could be saving so many more innocent human lives today and demobilizing the human predators rallying around the Ground Zero mosque funding.
Here are some arguments average Americans may want to rehearse if they hope to prevail in this global debate:
Americans have given thousands of their youngest, best and brightest in combat to save Muslims. This provides a number of important counterarguments to anti-American radicals who ground their rhetoric in the religion of Islam.
1. The world recently commemorated the inexcusable 15th anniversary of Srebrenica, where U.N. forces allowed 8,000 Muslim men to be massacred. In the 1995 military intervention in Yugoslavia, the United States lead a NATO military coalition, against the wishes of the United Nations, to rescue a Muslim minority from ethnic extermination by Serbian President Milosevic. The extermination was typified by the U.N.'s failed defense of Muslims at Srebrenica. There was no member of the intervening coalition from a Middle East Islamic nation. Today, that minority enjoys a new sovereign state created for their benefit by the United States -- Kosovo.
2. The United States, in its first war with the government of Iraq in 1991, liberated the 2.5 million Muslims of Kuwait. Since that time, Kuwait has consequently adopted a greater measure of political freedom, including the right of women to vote. Saddam Hussein was by his own political definitions a secular Baathist dedicated to oppressing and suppressing Muslims in his own country and in Kuwait when he conquered it in 1991. The United States ended his rule of Kuwait and established humanitarian no-fly zones over Northern Iraq and Southern Iraq to protect Muslim dissidents in those regions.
3. In the second war with the anti-Muslim government of Saddam Hussein, the United States lost more than 4,000 men and women combating former Baathist radicals and al-Qaeda radicals in the country. Even the viciously anti-American Lancet report acknowledged that more than 75% of the civilian deaths in Iraq during the war were directed by anti-American forces against Muslims. The relative peace that has returned to Iraq since 2006 primarily benefits human life in Muslim communities of Iraq.
4. The Iraq war of 2003 ended the deadliest military rivalry ever fought since the end of World War II -- the Iran/Iraq war. That war, fought during the 1980s, killed more than one million Muslims, utilizing chemical weapons, forced conscription of teenage males, and an array of grotesque inhumanities that never garnered any major "antiwar" movements in Europe or the United States. The ethically pretentious antiwar movement sat on its hands during the epic annihilation which primarily victimized Muslims.
5. Whatever one thinks of the oil trade, it is definitively the largest transfer of wealth in human history from affluent societies to impoverished societies. Since at least 1973, roughly one trillion dollars has been transferred annually from the economies of Japan, the U.S., Europe, and China to the Middle Eastern oil-producing states. In many instances, the United States imposed embargoes in defense of human rights for Muslims in places such as Iran and Iraq -- increasing the cost and limiting the consumption of such imports to the U.S. Many of those oil-producing states have chosen to use that wealth inappropriately, but the oil can hardly be argued to be "stolen" or "imperial American acquisitions."
6. The U.S.-led war in Afghanistan brought to an end the inhumane rule of the Taliban for more than 20 million Muslims who live there. The Taliban constituted one of the most misogynist governments in human history. Delighting in public executions at soccer stadiums where family members were compelled to discharge AK-47s in the skulls of "adulterers," this government murdered Muslim women in order to create its own despicable spectacle of governance by terror. Today, those marginalized and dissident members of the Taliban ride about on motorcycles throwing acid in the faces of liberated schoolgirls across the Afghan countryside in hopes of returning to power.
7. In 2005, Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, populated by more than 200 million adherents, was struck by a deadly tsunami, which killed more than 150,000 people. The theological center of Islam -- Saudi Arabia -- provided a paltry ten million dollars in aid for victims. But Indonesia was struck by another tsunami soon after: a tidal wave of charitable giving from the U.S. The United States government provided almost one billion dollars in aid. Private charitable giving by private individual Americans provided another $800 million.
8. More than $370 billion in remittances is provided annually by the United States economy to the world. Many billions of these dollars flow to countries such as Kuwait, Lebanon, and Iran. These funds benefit Muslim communities in these countries. Remittances are funds earned in the United States by family members but sent back to communities in their host country.
9. The United States does provide demonstrable religious freedom unlike any other place in the world. While European governments tightly regulate what is recognized as a legitimate religion, the United States does in fact allow the free exercise of religion -- including millions of Muslims. In sharp contrast, converts from Islam in Muslim nations such as Saudi Arabia face death sentences for a well-known crime called "apostasy."
10. The U.S. war on terrorism destroys radicals who have as their first and most significant victims Muslims who disagree with their violent supremacist interpretations of Islam. When young girls are murdered by these radicals all around the world in the form of "honor" killings, it is rarely non-Muslims who are killed. These are Muslim women dying at the hands of these bizarre misogynists. The terrorists disproportionately kill Muslims. This is why in Iraq, hatred of al-Qaeda is higher than it is in the United States. Iraqis witness on a daily basis the peculiar logic of bombings targeted at marketplaces where Muslims shop with their families. It is practices like these that are turning Muslims against groups such as al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas.
Ultimately, terrorism is but a tactic in a larger war of ideas. We must all be prepared with reasons and arguments to defend beliefs such as American patriotism. The continuation of the "America mistreats Muslims" meme creates and bolsters the rationales motivating this violence around the world. These terror radicals are not crazy. These radicals have been taught and nurtured by our own self-deprecating intellectual communities as to the legitimate self-loathing Americans should feel for their "arrogance," "pride," "narrow-mindedness," and "callous feelings" toward the international body politic. This intellectual indictment is painfully false and misdirected at humanity's great heroes and nurturers rather than humanity's murdering thugs. The pundits who pander to these deadly radicals in the misguided view of "helping Muslims" are hurting us all -- the entire human family.
Ben Voth is the chair of communication and director of debate at Southern Methodist University.