How should we think about the religious fanaticism that fuels al Qaeda’s war against the West? One set of penetrating answers can be found in George Weigel’s Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism: A Call to Action. Weigel, of course, is a frequent contributor to COMMENTARY and one of the most acute religious and political thinkers on the scene today. He sees a United States intellectually ill-equipped to deal with the challenge we are facing, in no small part because of “tone deafness to the fact that for the overwhelming majority of humanity, religious conviction provides the story line through which life’s meaning is read.”
The existence of this tone deafness is indisputable. One might go further and say that it is not merely tones that go unheard, but sound itself. Some of us are suffering from just plain old deafness. Who has forgotten Silvestre Reyes, the current chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who after five years of service on that committee could not answer the softball question, pitched to him by Congressional Quarterly, of whether al Qaeda is Sunni or Shiite? “They have both,” was his ignorant guess. Silvestre is the man who now holds the pivotal responsibility of overseeing the U.S. intelligence agencies fighting the war against Jihadism.
Weigel ranges over the issues with deep learning in measured tones. It is interesting therefore, to note some of the fierce passions his book has unleashed. One sample comes from our old friend Michael Scheuer, who regards Weigel as anti-American:
What, one wonders, can possibly inspire the neoconservatives’ hate for Americans, their history, their traditions, and their ideas? In the context of this question, George Weigel’s new book, Faith, Reason, and the War against Jihadism. A Call to Action, is more troubling than Norman Podhoretz’s viciously anti-American World War IV: The Long War Against Islamofacism because of Mr. Weigel’s reputation as a brilliant Catholic scholar, confidant of popes, and commentator on Catholicism’s role in America. In Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism, however, Mr. Weigel reveals himself as just one more America-hating neoconservative; he is a clone of Mr. Podhoretz and his acolytes, and, like them, can barely constrain his contempt for his countrymen, saying, for example, that it is the “sovereign prerogative” of these fools to elect non-neoconservative candidates who are incompetent, naive, and clueless. [p. 142].
I went to page 142 of Weigel’s book, where the contemptuous remarks about Americans were supposedly to be found, and I am afraid I came up blank.
It seems, once again, that Scheuer, along with a penchant for bizarre outbursts, has trouble checking the checkables. A fair conclusion from reading George Weigel’s book is that Weigel is about as anti-American as Michael Scheuer is calm and rational.
For previous Connecting the Dots postings about Michael Scheuer, click here.