A fresh-faced West Point cadet was on Fox News yesterday talking about a three-day-long class trip that helped him break a certain habit of mind. Prior to the field trip, he’d made a connection between terrorism and Islam. But after visiting Jersey City, New Jersey with other attendees of the semester-long “Winning the Peace” course, he saw this for the falsehood it plainly was. Where better than the city that housed the mosque headquarters of “Blind Shiek” Omar Abdel-Rahman’s terrorist organization to be disabused of such a baseless and
Today’s New York Times describes the exquisitely balanced “cultural adventure” as it unfolded over the weekend:
On Thursday, the cadets, dressed sharply in gray uniforms, met members of the Jersey City Police Department and visited an Egyptian Christian church, St. George and St. Shenouda Coptic Orthodox Church on Bergen Avenue. On Friday, they spoke with Jerramiah T. Healy, the mayor of Jersey City, ate lunch with Pakistanis and dinner with Indians. On Saturday, they visited a synagogue, Temple Beth-El, and then, after taking off their shoes, sat in front of the altar at a Hindu temple, Govinda Sanskar Center. And for two days, they were welcomed as overnight guests of the Islamic Center of Jersey City.
Then there’s this culinary cuteness: “They debated the roots of Middle East tensions with a Muslim scholar over omelets and falafel at breakfast, and then stood next to a rabbi as he went over a sacred, handwritten Torah scroll.” Why no kreplach with the rabbi?
The four-year-old “Winning the Peace” course is designed ostensibly to expose future officers to the cultural and religious practices of the people they’ll be encountering overseas. On its face, no one could object. The long war against Islamism requires that our soldiers have a nuanced understanding of traditional Muslim values and Arabic cultural practices. But the truth is, in speaking to any U.S. military officer who’s spent time in Iraq or Afghanistan, you’ll find they know more about how to communicate with and instill trust in Middle Easterners than could be gleaned from a long weekend in New Jersey. Contrary to the Times’ condescending claim that “For many cadets, a number of whom had never been to Jersey City, this year’s trip amounted to a lesson in how big the world really is,” the world that U.S. officers come to understand is a lot bigger than most journalists will ever know.
So, what is this field trip really about? It’s about the U.S. Armed Forces demonstrating their “cultural sensitivity.” It’s about the PC-ing of a war whose true nature is rarely discussed. It’s about quieting the multi-culti chorus. None of which helps the U.S. win wars. Pretending that Islam has nothing to do with Islamic terrorism is a deadly farce.
The Times quotes West Point senior Alex Smith as saying, “[We are from] different cultures, but we’re still the same people.” If that means anything, it’s incorrect. Different cultures create different types of people—who become different types of enemies. And any blurring of that understanding within the military could cost this country dearly. Over the past six years, the U.S. military has demonstrated an unprecedented ability in isolating enemies and minimizing civilian casualties. And they are to be commended for it, as distinguishing between moderate Muslims and Islamists is not only an ethical necessity, but a strategic one as well. However, if a PC-inspired denial of the connection between Islam and terrorism creeps into the military mind, the resulting setbacks could jeopardize the policies and practices that make U.S. operations honorable and effective. Everyone talks of the dangers of “the fog of war.” Let’s not make things more dangerous by making them foggier.