A Christian convert from a Hindu family in the U.S. would need a good reason to go all the way to London in order to dilate on Islam to a think tank named in honor of a U.S. Senator.
That said senator was a Democrat from Washington state, and the transatlantic orator, a Louisiana Republican, might have made the scene at the House of Commons on Monday all the stranger. But everyone knew why Gov. Bobby Jindal was not, for once, to be found in Iowa or New Hampshire. He had left his usual stomping grounds to give a speech to the Henry Jackson Society and establish some of the foreign policy cred that comes in handy for a presidential candidate.
“Scoop” Jackson, who died in 1983, was not your wishy-washy kind of Democrat, but a neocon trailblazer, a foe of communism and a major supporter of the Vietnam War. Whatever foreign policy cred that gave him proved insufficient, for he was an early casualty both times he ran for the presidential nomination, in 1972 and 1976.
Maybe the attack on radical Islam that Jindal delivered Monday will help him do better than that. It might, if it goes down as well with GOP primary voters as it appears to have done with British conservatives. His robust remarks were certainly a dramatic departure from the usual bromides. The public must soon grow weary of being assured Islam is a peaceful religion every time mass murder is committed for the glory of Allah.
Sure, most Muslims abhor the crimes of the psychopath fringe, but Jindal thinks their leaders should take a stronger stand against the jihadists. “If Islam does not support what is happening in the name of Islam, then they need to stand up and stop it.
“It is their problem and they need to deal with it,” he said in London.
Jindal is not alone in believing Muslim leaders should take a stronger stand against the jihadists. Two British government ministers, in an open letter last week, urged imams to “show our young people, who may be targeted, that extremists have nothing to offer them.”
The letter also urged the imams to “explain and demonstrate how faith in Islam can be part of British identity.” When the Muslim Council of Great Britain seized the opportunity to take offense, Prime Minister David Cameron said, “Anyone, frankly, reading this letter who has a problem with it, I think really has a problem.”
By then, Jindal had announced that “Islam has a problem” would be a major theme of his speech. Jindal, however, suggested European governments exacerbate the problem by allowing “no-go zones” to operate under Sharia law. Fox News had just issued a retraction and an apology after one of its commentators made a similar assertion, causing Cameron to call him “a complete idiot,” but Jindal, in an interview after his speech, refused to admit no-go zones were a figment of nativist imagination.
Of course, Muslim enclaves exist in Britain, France and other European countries, where it is not unknown for fiery imams to promote the Islamification of Western society. But the law of the land still holds. Jindal, however, was not going to attract attention if he downplayed any risk of social disorder, and he didn’t come all this way to be ignored.
He made sure that did not happen by harping on no-go zones that have escaped the attention of people who live in the countries he chose to favor with his advice. He evidently figured making a fool of himself on that score was a price worth paying to be recognized as a player on the international stage.
The Muslim Council, in taking umbrage at the open letter, complained that ministers were implying a refusal to assimilate. Jindal did not pussyfoot around that issue; he came right out and declared that “radical Islamists have been given too wide a berth to establish their own nation within a nation.”
His prescription is for governments to “hunt down and kill” terrorists and for Muslim leaders to assure jihadists that they are headed for hell. Meanwhile, “Non-assimilation, the fact that you’ve got people who want to come to our country but not adopt our values,” is a “grave threat,” he said.
How recalcitrant Muslim extremists can be persuaded to embrace the principles of a free society was evidently not explained, but at least the British now know what we have long known around here. Jindal does not propose to waste any time worrying about Baton Rouge.
James Gill’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.