I recently watched The Third Jihad which portrays radical Islamism and the threat it poses to the rest of the world via jihad. The full feature length film can be viewed here while a 30-minute condensed version can be found here (Part 1 of 4). The film gives a strong visual to the human rights violations conducted in the name of Islam and portrays a strong sense of urgency in facing this threat. However, while I am in strong concurrence for the need to denounce and reverse the trend of human rights violations as well as the need for a strong national defense in light of this threat, The Third Jihad engages in deceitful tactics, misrepresentation and in several cases outright lies. If you want a better sense of the urgency we face in our conflict with radical jihadism then I recommend you watch this film, but take its content with a grain of salt. I kept notes on some of the most significant misrepresentations in the film which I would also recommend you read in addition to watching the film:
1.3 billion muslims, only a very small minority are radical islamists. The Third Jihad cedes this fact in preface to their production. However, only nine minutes into the movie a commentator states that “thousands of millions” of muslims believe in radical islamism and worldwide jihad. There are not even thousands of millions of muslims in the world much less that many hardliners who believe in worldwide jihad.
The Third Jihad expresses fear at the thought of “non-violent” muslims within the United States who are further labeled “radical” despite admittance to their non-violence because they wish to spread their muslim beliefs and see sharia law established in the White House. What the movie blatantly ignores is that the United States is a democracy and if muslims want to engage in US politics through non-violent means that is their constitutional right as US citizens. US citizenship is not, and never has been, dependent on a person’s religious status – after all, freedom of religion is one of the central tenets of American democracy.
Nearly 25% of young American muslims thought suicide-bombings in defense of Islam were justified according to The Third Jihad. However, in 2002, 72% of Americans approved of the Iraq war which resulted in the killing of over 1 million Iraqis. Even today, 31% of Americans support the unjust war in Iraq – 6 percentage points more than the suicide-bombing approval rate. We cannot condemn American muslims who support terrorism without also addressing the much greater America that supports the Americanist flavor of terrorism and unjust war.
The movie’s illustration of “US homegrown terrorism” is yet another reason why we need to end our wars abroad and focus on defense domestically. To increase military spending abroad and engage in an ever more aggressive foreign policy is self-defeating.
The movie criticizes Middle East countries for making campaign contributions to US politicians. I’m against all monetary donations to politicians that aren’t form individuals but to single out and only mention Muslim states is highly specious when virtually every single American corporation does the exact same thing in order to buy-out politicians. We Should be calling out our leaders for their lack of character and try to fix our broken political system, not demonizing the Middle East for taking advantage of our own shortcomings.
As for the movie’s condemnation of Islamic activists recruiting among the discontented American prisons population, end the War on Drugs and you cut their recruiting grounds by half.
Condemning British muslims for wanting their government to reflect their values is absurd. The video cites that 81% consider themselves muslims first and British second. I consider myself Catholic first and American second and all Christians should consider their loyalty first to their faith and not their country. Both Catholicism and Islam predate British and American government, and faith in God supersedes loyalty to government. We live in a country in which our constitution recognizes that our rights are granted to us not by the government but by God and thus it is to God to whom our first loyalty should lie. Can we really blame Muslims for doing the same? These are not the radical Islamists that promote terror, these are men and women trying to be faithful to their religion and there is nothing wrong with that. To undermine their faith serves only to push them towards radicalism.
The movie’s assertion that Iran is “making every effort” to acquire nuclear weapons is unfounded. Additionally, the assertion that Iran can develop nuclear weapons in a “very short time” is only true if you believe a decade or more to be a very short time – at least two decades for an inter-continental nuclear missile – and only assuming Iran started immediately. Also, the claim that Mutually Assured Destruction does not apply to Iran is absurd. The sheer volume of nuclear weapons necessary to wipe the entire United States off the map, to say nothing of our Allies, is huge – thousands upon thousands more of the kind of nuclear devices than Iran would be capable of producing. However, while Iran would be able to take out one city in the United States in such a hypothetical situation, we could easily kill every single man, woman and child in retaliation. Additionally, Israel has its own arsenal of 300 nukes right next door to Iran and are even less hesitant to use them than we would be. We have the best protection available against any nuclear attack and this is a deterrent to every nation, regardless of ideology.
The fight against radical Islam is a cultural battle. Additional invasion and occupation of muslim countries is not the answer; in fact, this will only further unify Muslim culture against the West. Targeting Islam under the law is not the answer; again, these are tactics of oppression that will swell the ranks of our opposition. Instead, we must adhere to and promote our Christian beliefs in an attempt to overcome the culture of death that permeates radical Islam and the concept of jihad. In Evangelium vitae, Blessed John Paul II had this to say about the culture of death:
In fact, while the climate of widespread moral uncertainty can in some way be explained by the multiplicity and gravity of today’s social problems, and these can sometimes mitigate the subjective responsibility of individuals, it is no less true that we are confronted by an even larger reality, which can be described as a veritable structure of sin. This reality is characterized by the emergence of a culture which denies solidarity and in many cases takes the form of a veritable “culture of death”. This culture is actively fostered by powerful cultural, economic and political currents which encourage an idea of society excessively concerned with efficiency. Looking at the situation from this point of view, it is possible to speak in a certain sense of a war of the powerful against the weak: a life which would require greater acceptance, love and care is considered useless, or held to be an intolerable burden, and is therefore rejected in one way or another. A person who, because of illness, handicap or, more simply, just by existing, compromises the well-being or life-style of those who are more favoured tends to be looked upon as an enemy to be resisted or eliminated. In this way a kind of “conspiracy against life” is unleashed. This conspiracy involves not only individuals in their personal, family or group relationships, but goes far beyond, to the point of damaging and distorting, at the international level, relations between peoples and States.
This situation, with its lights and shadows, ought to make us all fully aware that we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the “culture of death” and the “culture of life”. We find ourselves not only “faced with” but necessarily “in the midst of” this conflict: we are all involved and we all share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life.
For us too Moses’ invitation rings out loud and clear: “See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. … I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live” (Dt 30:15, 19). This invitation is very appropriate for us who are called day by day to the duty of choosing between the “culture of life” and the “culture of death”. But the call of Deuteronomy goes even deeper, for it urges us to make a choice which is properly religious and moral. It is a question of giving our own existence a basic orientation and living the law of the Lord faithfully and consistently: “If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you this day, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, then you shall live … therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him; for that means life to you and length of days” (30:16,19-20).
The unconditional choice for life reaches its full religious and moral meaning when it flows from, is formed by and nourished by faith in Christ. Nothing helps us so much to face positively the conflict between death and life in which we are engaged as faith in the Son of God who became man and dwelt among men so “that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10). It is a matter of faith in the Risen Lord, who has conquered death; faith in the blood of Christ “that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel” (Heb 12:24).
With the light and strength of this faith, therefore, in facing the challenges of the present situation, the Church is becoming more aware of the grace and responsibility which come to her from her Lord of proclaiming, celebrating and serving the Gospel of life.
If we are to survive radical Islam it will not be through militarism, ultranationalism or unjust targeting of muslims through the law, it will be through changing hearts and minds. By practicing true Christian charity we can impact muslim culture and rediscover the heart of Man. Thus, by affirming the esteemed value of human life and dignity through continual cultural exchange we can denounce radicalism in all its forms and together firmly establish the culture of life.