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Islamic states and jihadists who attack and murder Westerners and other disbelievers are motivated to do so by their religion, Islam. Everyone paying attention knows this (including those who pretend not to).

From the 1983 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Beirut, to the 1989 fatwa on British author Salman Rushdie, to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City, to the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, to the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, to the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, to the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, to the 2004 bombings of commuter trains in Madrid, to the 2004 murder of Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam, to the 2005 bombings in the London Underground, to the 2009 massacre at Fort Hood, to the 2012 murders at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, to the 2013 bombings at the Boston Marathon, to the 2013 butchering of a British soldier in London, to the 2014 beheading of a woman in Oklahoma, to the 2015 massacre of cartoonists and journalists at Charlie Hebdo in Paris—all of these and countless additional atrocities have been committed by Muslims who accept the tenets of Islam as true and take the religion seriously.

“Fight and kill the disbelievers wherever you find them,” the Koran orders (9:5). “When you meet the unbelievers in fight, smite at their necks” (47:4). “Fight them until all opposition ends and all submit to Allah” (8:39). “Those who annoy Allah and His Messenger . . . whenever they are found, they shall be seized and slain” (33:57–61). “To him who fighteth in the cause of Allah—whether he is slain or gets victory—soon shall We give him a reward of great value” (4:74). What of the “unbelievers,” the “transgressors,” the “disobedient”? What will be their divine fate? “They will enter the Fire of Hell,” where “it will be said to them: ‘This is the reality which you rejected as false!’” (83:12–17). And on and on. Islamic scripture is saturated with such commandments and promises. Consequently and unsurprisingly, Islamic states, Muslim groups, and individual Muslims who take their religion seriously are committed to converting or killing unbelievers until all submit to Allah.

That is the widely known (yet oft-evaded) problem. What is the solution?

At the political level, the solution is for Western nations, especially the United States, to name the enemy—Islamic regimes that sponsor terrorism, especially those in Iran and Saudi Arabia, and the jihadist groups they support, such as al Qaeda and Islamic State; eliminate them using the full capabilities of our militaries, including nuclear weapons if necessary; announce to the world that any and all regimes, groups, and individuals who continue sponsoring or engaging in jihad will likewise be eliminated; and follow through on that promise. (I and others have written extensively in The Objective Standard about why this is the correct political approach. See, for example, “The Jihad Against America and How to End It” [TOS Winter 2014–15] and “‘No Substitute for Victory’: The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism” [TOS Winter 2006].)

But, as everyone paying attention also knows, neither the U.S. government nor any Western governments will eliminate those regimes and groups anytime soon. So we who care about life, liberty, and happiness must do more than demand that our governments do what they should do. We must also engage in activism at deeper philosophic levels, specifically at the levels of morality and epistemology (the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and means of knowledge).

At the moral level, we must reject and condemn the morality that forbids Western nations from taking the correct political action: the morality of altruism, the notion that self-sacrifice is moral, that we should love our enemies, turn the other cheek, and generally sacrifice ourselves and our loved ones for the “sake” of others, including savages. . . .


1. As I point out in my book Loving Life: The Morality of Self Interest and the Facts that Support It (Glen Allen Press, 2002): “The laws of identity, causality, and non-contradiction are not rationally debatable. To begin with, all arguments presuppose and depend on their validity; any attempt to deny them actually reaffirms them. This phenomenon was first discovered by Aristotle and is called reaffirmation through denial. While trying to deny these laws, a person has to be who he is—he can’t be someone else—because of the law of identity; he has to act as a human being—he can’t act as an eggplant—because of the law of causality; and he has to use words that mean what they mean—he can’t use words that mean what they don’t—because of the law of non-contradiction. On a more practical level, these laws are why we fuel our cars with gasoline—why we refrigerate certain foods—why we wear warm clothing in winter—why we vaccinate our children—why we string our tennis rackets—why we put wings on airplanes—and why we don’t drink Drano. More broadly speaking, the entire history of observation, knowledge, and science is based on the laws of identity, causality, and non-contradiction. Every object, every event, every discovery, and every utterance is an example of their validity. These laws are self-evident, immutable, and absolute.”

2. The process by which we acquire and validate conceptual knowledge is far more complex and involved than the brief sketch I’ve offered here. My purpose here is simply to indicate that reason is our means of doing so and that it operates by means of perceptual observation, conceptual integration, and logic. For an extensive examination of the processes and principles of concept formation, see Ayn Rand, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 2nd ed., edited by Harry Binswanger and Leonard Peikoff (New York: Penguin, 1990).

3. Hebrews 11:1.

4. Abraham Heschel, God in Search of Man, A Philosophy of Judaism (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1983), p. 117.

5. Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Meaning of the Glorious Quran, p. 91, n. 983.

6. Genesis 22:2.

7. Abraham Heschel, Man is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1976), pp. 87, 167; Between God and Man: An Interpretation of Judaism (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997), p. 71.

8. Heschel, Between God and Man, pp. 71, 140. Heschel in part quotes from Deuteronomy 26:17–18.

9. Quoted in Walter Kaufmann, Critique of Religion and Philosophy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1958), p. 308.

10. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, translated by Henry Beveridge (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2008), pp. 32–33.

11. Ayn Rand, “Censorship: Local and Express,” in Philosophy: Who Needs It (New York: Penguin, 1984), p. 187.

12. Ayn Rand, “Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World,” in Philosophy: Who Needs It (New York: Penguin, 1984), p. 70.

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