Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Does Moderate Islam Exist?

There’s a widespread belief that the solution to fundamentalist Islam is moderate Islam. Lawrence Auster extensively addresses this issue in a debate with Daniel Pipes. Auster notes, “To say that moderate Islam is the solution to radical Islam implies several things: that moderate Islam exists; that it represents the true (though perhaps currently disregarded) norm of Islam; and that radical Islam is a departure from that norm.” It’s clear that many Muslims are indeed moderate. But is it because the practice something called Moderate Islam? Auster is skeptical: “It's not just that the supposed moderate majority is really an indifferent or weak voice within Islam. It's that moderate Islam may not even exist in any meaningful sense.” On second thought he concludes, “… it's not just that moderate Islam does not presently exist in any meaningful form. It's that moderate Islam cannot exist.”

He believes Mr. Pipes’ Moderate Islam is only an aspiration – not a reality. Auster: “Pipes's meaning is undeniable: moderate Islam does not now exist. It must be created. Moreover, it can only be created by means of renouncing that which Islam has always been. But, on those terms, can the result still be Islam?” For Auster the problem is: “The fundamental point is that Islam cannot reform itself in any lasting way, because Islam has no source of authority apart from the Koran. In any debate between hard-liners and putative moderates, the hard-liners will have the Koran on their side and will ultimately win the debate.”

Much of the argument for the existence or creation of Moderate Islam is motivated by the fear of an imagined apocalyptic scenario between civilization and Islamic societies. This is putting activism before truth. Facing the truth is the first order of business. The fear of a painful solution cannot legitimately be an excuse to engage in fantasy. Facts must be faced; solutions to the problem are a separate matter. Here Auster wisely reaches for the wisdom of Bat Ye’or:
Bat Ye'or, author of The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam and the soon-to-be published Eurabia, has said that our aim as Westerners should not be to save the soul of Islam but to save ourselves, our values, and our civilization. The approach she urges is primarily intellectual: we must stop closing our eyes to the reality of jihad, stop blaming ourselves for Muslim terrorism, and stop imposing crippling taboos on our own speech. Instead, we must openly discuss the Muslims' jihadist beliefs, both among ourselves and with the Muslims. This would force them to face the truth about themselves, which in turn might bring about a positive alteration in their outlook and demands. An unstated premise of Bat Ye'or's argument is that Muslims cannot change themselves. We must help them do it—or rather, we must put them in a position where they will have no choice but to moderate their own attitudes and behavior toward us. Bullies respect strength.
Auster ends his series of articles with his recommendations for action which are beyond the scope of this article.

Dr. Pipes responds here: “Islam can be whatever Muslims wish to make of it. … The religion has changed momentously in the past and surely will continue to do so. … Muslim views [of the Koran] have changed in the past and continue to do so.” Pipes is more concern with the demographic group Muslims than the religious philosophy of Islam: “I reply that my study is not of Islam the faith but of Muslims in history.” Auster’s policy recommendations, Pipes notes, “differ surprisingly little from my own.”

I replied that Pipes’ view (Islam is whatever Muslims want it to be) is pure nominalism. “But this is to obliterate the religion's identity. … [it] is nominalism and it undermines all conceptual knowledge. … For the religion to have an identity there has to be an essence – some enduring core of beliefs and practices.” I conclude: “However, you are right, there are moderate Muslims (yes, most are). But they don't become moderate by practicing something call "moderate Islam." They become moderate by being lax or lapsed for one reason or another. If we sometimes use the word "Muslim" in a demographic sense (my almanac says 99.8% of Turks are Muslim) we should not confuse that with a practitioner of Islam – one who takes seriously his duty to wage jihad on the Infidel. The demographic sense is a virtually meaningless secondary sense that is derivative in nature. Islam, the ideology and associated practice, transcends the failure of Muslims to practice their religion.”

Auster agrees and quotes my rather harsh comments on Front Page Magazine: “'Pipes is correct that Auster thinks in essentials (it's called conceptual reasoning, Dan). Pipes is obviously a nominalist: words can mean anything we want them to.'" I currently believe that Pipes is taking an anthropological-type approach that is descriptive of the demographic group we call Muslims and their history. I agree that Muslims went through periods of being moderate or at least they abandoned active engagement in jihad. However, this is not due to the practice of another version of Islam – Moderate Islam – but merely the failure to practice the religion in a vital manner. I even suggest this is the optimal outcome, i.e. stop practicing Islam.

Why isn’t this Moderate Islam? There is a vast difference between the failure to practice one’s religion and practicing a new transformed version of an old religion. Being lax is being in default of one religion’s demands. It means failing to confront the religion’s odious elements and solidifying a new belief system. It leaves open the possibility of the religion’s revival and leaves one impotent to intellectually fight the retrogression into barbarity.

For a new version of a religion, a major change is generally achieved or solidified by extensive doctrinal exposition by a least one major theologian who presents a new vision, synthesis, or weighting of the original elements. If a significant portion of the original religion needs to be marginalized, motivation must be presented. We see major changes in Christianity by Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Wesley. Jesus was a major reformer of the Jewish religion and Paul’s writings helped to solidify these changes into the new religion of Christianity.

Where are the major texts and writers of Moderate Islam? What were the changes and how does one condemn Mohammad’s martial legacy? Who refutes the militants and on what grounds? What new general principle replaces Islamic supremacy with a universalist ethical orientation - one that puts every human being on an equal basis?

Aspirations for Moderate Islam generally assume that Islam can embrace reason in human affairs just as Christians generally have. We will consider that possibility in a future article. Moderate Islam does not now exist and we must first deal with today’s reality.

PS (12:45pm edit) Robert Spencer has an interesting link on this topic. Also, both Auster and I hold Mr. Pipes in the highest of esteem for his seminal work of militant Islam. Daniel Pipes and Lawrence Auster maintain their own websites. In today’s New York Sun, Pipes explains that Islam is the motivation of the terrorists. Compare his recent article with this.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Religion or Political Ideology?

Here’s a bonus 5th that I almost missed. Jack Wheeler demolishes the notion that Islam should be respected because it’s a religion. Let Jack explain:

In other words – is an ideology of hate and violence any more acceptable and excusable if it is disguised as a “religion”? The answer is yes – because this is precisely the moral slack we cut for Islam. … Communism was never seen as a religion – and thus conservatives were not morally disarmed against it. … Think instead of how conservatives across the board find it far more difficult to denounce the evil of Islam than the evil of Communism. This has to be abandoned. … That is to come to grips with this moral truth: All religions are not created morally equal. There are evil religions. The Aztec religion of human sacrifice and cannibalism was one. If Nazism were a religion it would be.

But until the world’s Moslems rise up in moral outrage at the terrorist evils being committed in the name of Islam – and without exception, including Palestinian terrorism – we must stop according Islam the respect due any normal religion, and look upon it with no more regard or respect than one would towards Communism or Nazism.

Jack is active in conservative politics since he helped on Reagan’s campaign for governor. Coming from a major figure in the conservative camp, this is a hopeful sign. I wrote about the problem of denial among conservatives last September. Now, Jack, you read my article? Perhaps not, but nevertheless, this is something that many are independently realizing about the continual denial of the root cause of the Islamic threat.

In another sign of hope, Lou Dobbs took a poll of his viewers and found that 80% believe the War on Terror, should really be named the War on Radical Islam. And that’s on CNN!

Four articles and a comment

1. Edwin A. Locke, in an article called, The Terrorists' Motivation: Islam, says:
The terrorists are not "un-Islamic" bandits who have "hijacked a great religion"; they are consistent and serious followers of their religion. … It is only to the extent that they depart from their religion--and from a society that imposes it--that they achieve prosperity, freedom, and peace. … America has groveled to so-called "moderate" Muslim leaders to strongly repudiate terrorism, with little success. … Such a campaign cannot work, since insofar as these "moderates" accept Islam, they cannot convincingly oppose violence in its name.
2. I often argue with people, usually on the multi-cultural left, who insist that I criticize Christianity as much as I criticize Islam. They have no qualms with my critique of Islam as long as I say the same things about Islam. I can’t do that in all honesty. It is not at all fair. James Worthing of West Sussex explains the vast difference between contemporary Christianity and Islam in a recent post.

3. The New York Times is getting warm but still can’t get it. In a recent piece Olivier Roy rightly rejects the usual motives for Islamist violence like the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, he has decided that it is psychological: “they are frustrated by a Western society that does not meet their expectations.” Wait a second! They’re not the first group of immigrants that have felt that way. In the UK and here in the US, group after group have sought a better life and often their expectations aren’t met. What is the difference with Muslims? The answer: read Dr. Locke’s article above.

4. Daniel Pipes comments on recent surveys that show half of the UK’s Muslims are sympathetic in their understanding of the actions of the 7/7 terrorists. They can understand “why some people behave in that way.” Imagine a racial attack in Mississippi or even New York where half the population expresses such “understanding.” What would your judgment be? Such actions should not be so understood. I discuss different types of understanding here.

Some people get it, some are getting warm, but most are still in denial. At least half of UK's Muslims feel empathy rather than shame. But praising the motivation of the 7/7 terrorists - Islam - why would we expect anything else?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

9/11 Memorial Update

We need to keep the pressure on Governor Pataki to stop the desecration of the memorial at Ground Zero. However, we can rejoice at the resignation of Eric Foner as advisor to the project. See the New York Post story and editorial. Further information is on the website Take Back the Memorial. Continue to write the Governor even if you are not a New York State resident. This is a national memorial. Don’t forget that Pataki wants to run for President. He might need our advice on becoming nomination worthy.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Islam & Arabs

How does one learn about another culture? Most often from books and articles - which is why I maintain this webpage of references on Islam. You’d be surprised, when it comes to Islam, there really isn’t that much to learn since the religion largely revolves around one man, Mohammad, as the alleged messenger of the word of God (the Koran) and the example of Mohammad’s actual life - what is usually referred to as his sayings and deeds (the Hadiths). From the major aspects of his thought and political career, there's a clear picture: original Islam was a political supremacist ideology of conquest and domination.

I, however, insist on the distinction between the philosophy and the sociology. While Islam, as a religious philosophy, can be easily understood in its essence, Muslims, in broad demographic terms, are a vast group of disparate cultures all affected by Islam but with their own unique differences. For Arab culture, I’d recommend Patai’s The Arab Mind. There is little I can add to his excellent analysis. I continue to notice our commentators, journalists, and government leaders rediscovering in Arab lands the cultural patterns that Patai described decades ago in The Arab Mind.

Often I’m asked about my personal experience. Did I ever talk to a Muslim? Did I ever visit an Islamic country? But what can I do in a few days in some isolated location? Most of the authors I recommend have spent decades talking Muslims or reading their works. How many of the 1.2 billion Muslims should I talk to before forming a comprehensive picture? Are a dozen a good representative sample? And after 14 centuries of Islam don’t we know enough?

Living in New York City for over 50 years I’ve met many Muslims – both devout and secular – from around the world. Via the Internet, I’ve talked to many more. However, whenever I’m critical of Islam, I’m told that I shouldn't generalize from a few – that’s being bigoted. In today’s multi-cultural make-believe world I’m allowed and even encouraged to conclude something positive from the examination of one Muslim but being negative – well let’s not over-generalize, there’s 1.2 billion of them! The demand for direct experience is generally made by people who want to intimidate the critics into silence. Don’t fall for it! Obviously qualified scholars can summarize an experience I can never hope to achieve. We have to rely on the work of others.

Nevertheless, I’ve found some interesting patterns from my conversations. First, I have a suggestion on methodology. Most sociology is observational. Generally speaking, surveys ask questions that result in a superficial statistical picture. I employed an experimental method of applying a stimulus and recording the response. I often played devil’s advocate. And I tried to be provocative. It is quite revealing! Here’s one example of what I said:
What grievances do Muslims have against us? We’ve backed Egypt in the Suez Crisis, helped Egypt get back the Sinai and give them $2 billion a year, liberated Kuwait from the Saddam, protected Saudi Arabia from becoming the next Kuwait, helped Afghanistan fend off the USSR, intervened on the behalf of Bosnians, prevented genocide in Kosovo, … we are constantly helping Muslims! There are no people we help more than Muslims!

In every case where I made this speech I got back the exact same answer: “You did that for you own interest.” It was fascinating. I was amazed at such reproducible results and with such precision.

First note that the response is the opposite of the current propaganda of anti-American critics here at home. The Arab response isn’t: those actions are harmful. The response is an implicit acknowledgement of the beneficial nature of our foreign policy. However, it denies us moral credit.

The response shows a vast cultural difference between Arabs and Americans. America was founded on the idea that people help each other for mutual benefit – it’s called trade. Our great wealth comes from production and trade. We offer each other products and services for our client’s benefit and thereby earn our wealth. This is a profoundly moral process. The alternative is to steal or perhaps beg. We choose the proud route – we earn it. The Arab response shows a complete lack of moral credit in mutually beneficial actions – trade or otherwise.

At this point I tried several different paths and explored further the Arab response. Often, others join the conversation resulting in an interesting interplay. Some Americans will point to Bosnia and Kosovo as counter-examples. However, I avoid that route because it leaves the premise of Arab criticism unacknowledged. It implies that only altruistic actions have moral worth – mutual benefit has none.

I tell them that there’s a great gulf between our cultures. We’re proud of being productive and engaging in relationships for mutual benefit. They have parasitic societies that produce next to nothing and depend on luck – stepping into a puddle of oil – to provide for their well being. (Yes, we're often generous but that’s a secondary activity that depends on production.)

That tends to take them aback and often ends the conversation. They don’t expect a proud response and such distain for their failed and impoverished culture. They imagine they have the moral high ground; and they aren’t ready for criticism that's too close to home. However, to keep the conversation going I add that I oppose all they aforementioned help we've given to Arab countries over the years. The response is interesting: one of overt hostility and threats.

One response: "you have to do those things to get oil." I refuted that in a past post. In short, they have to sell oil to eat. If it’s sold into the market there’s no economic effect on us. If they cease exporting oil, we’ll live slightly less well-off and they’ll starve.

Another response: "you have to support regimes like Mubarak or else terrorists will take over." We give Egypt $2 billion a year but that’s because Jimmy Carter got suckered into brokering a deal between Egypt and Israel that was already planned in secret (according to Bernard Lewis.) Besides, Mubarak isn’t doing us a favor; he’s fighting the jihadists to stay in power. And he’ll continue to do so just as Egyptian dictators have done for the last fifty years.

It turns out that my libertarian friends are wrong. Arabs don’t want less intervention, they want more. No matter what we do it is not good enough. A large part of Arab hate is manipulative hate – it’s not all deep-seated hate (although there’s a core group of hate-filled Muslims.) Far from doing wrong we have been too generous which only encourages greater demands. And we fall for it!

In a typical rant, you might hear condemnations for our willingness to deal with Saddam in the 1980s. That will be followed by condemnations for our unwillingness to deal with Saddam during the 1990s boycott of Iraq. Finally, we’ll be damned for invading Iraq to remove Saddam. We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. It doesn’t matter what we do, it will always be wrong and followed by greater demands which will never be enough.

About a year ago, the Zogby organization did a survey of Arab sentiments. They asked the standard questions and got the answers they expected. The Zogby brothers are Arab-Americans and James heads Arab-American advocacy groups. However, as part of the survey they asked for general comments. James (or was it John), talking on C-Span, was quite surprised. Over and over again he heard the same response: America only helps us because of our oil. He was dumbfounded by the fact that these sentiments, often expressed with indignation and hate, increased directly proportional to the distance from the oil-rich Gulf region.

Of course, we could say they only give us oil because they want our dollars. But that would be the cynical Arab way of looking at mutual benefit: only altruism has moral worth. The point Zogby misses is the difference I've explained above. It is this difference in ethics that isn’t being acknowledged. In Arab society, dominated as it is by such a cynical ethics, poverty and hate are the results. But I’ll leave that to another article. The purpose was to make everyone aware of the cheap manipulations and the cultural impoverishment of Arab-Islamic society. There's a vast gulf between their culture and ours.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

What Should I Read To Understand Islam?

To fight a war effectively, one must understand the enemy and when that enemy is motivated by an ideology this means understanding the role of those ideas in the enemy’s behavior. Yesterday that ideology was Communism; today it is Islam. To start learning about Islam I recommend the books and articles of Ibn Warraq. His path-breaking Why I Am Not A Muslim published 10 years ago is still the single best source on the subject.

Warraq, now secular, was raised as a Muslim. However, it is his scholarly study and dedication to the truth that makes Warraq’s work valuable. Warraq doesn’t hold back to avoid offending – the truth requires us to face facts regardless of how uncomfortable it is for us or others. But he also maintains perspective and a sense of proportionality; nothing he says if unfair.

To get a sense of his writing read his short essay called Islam and Intellectual Terrorism. When it comes to Islam, intellectuals fail to weigh and judge the facts according to the evidence. He notes:

But the first duty of the intellectual is to tell the truth. Truth is not much in fashion in this postmodern age when continental charlatans have infected Anglo-American intellectuals with the thought that objective knowledge is not only undesirable but unobtainable. I believe that to abandon the idea of truth not only leads to political fascism, but stops dead all intellectual inquiry. To give up the notion of truth means forsaking the goal of acquiring knowledge. But man, as Aristotle put it, by nature strives to know. Truth, science, intellectual inquiry and rationality are inextricably bound together. Relativism, and its illegitimate offspring, multiculturalism, are not conducive to the critical examination of Islam.

The damage of Edward Said’s polemic, Orientalism, has had a profound effect on academic objectivity. Notes Warraq:

Said wrote a polemical book, Orientalism (1978), whose pernicious influence is still felt in all departments of Islamic studies, where any critical discussion of Islam is ruled out a priori . … Said’s thesis was swallowed whole by Western intellectuals, since it accords well with the deep anti-Westernism of many of them. … The unfortunate result is that academics can no longer do their work honestly. …

Western scholars need to defend unflinchingly our right to examine Islam, to explain its rise and fall by the normal mechanisms of human history, according to the objective standards of historical methodology. Democracy depends on freedom of thought and free discussion. … How do they think reformation will come about if not with criticism?

Indeed. How can we talk about the need for Muslims to modernize or become moderate without being critical of any of their current practices or the religion that motivates these practices? What sense does it make to say something is wrong but refuse to discuss the details out of desire not to offend? Could we not give them a hint where they are going wrong?

Of course, our first order of business is to understand the threat to our civilization and acting appropriately. Since knowledge will lead to action – most of which are unacceptable to our 5th column in academia – the truth has political implications. And if political decisions run contrary to the post-modern leftist’s secular religion, truth must be abandoned. I’ve talked about this before in my review of Stephen Hicks’ excellent expose, Explaining Postmodernism.

Warraq understandably desires the secularization of Muslim countries. That would be the best outcome for all. However, our responsibility is our own defense. And we have to face the facts as they currently are. At present we face a savage enemy driven by a religion founded by a warrior who plundered, slaughtered, conquered and oppressed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Moral Appeasement In Today's World

Last week, I noted the deceitful posturing of an Arab commentator who blamed the deaths of Iraqis on the coalition. I said:
Everyday in Iraq, Sunni jihadists target the Iraqi people and kill them by the dozens. It’s Muslims who are killing the people of Iraq and doing it deliberately. This slimy Arab commentator created a complete lie about who’s killing whom in Iraq. We are working hard trying to protect the Iraqi people from these killings.
In the past few days, I’ve read numerous articles addressing the notion that Muslims are outraged at Iraqi deaths. No article explains who targets and murders Iraqis. Yet, these authors purport to shed light of the vast Islamic acceptance of the 7/7 attacks. Yes, despite the condemnations, there is an insinuation that we brought it on ourselves. After perfunctory disapproval, Arab and Muslim commentators – from the Arab intellectuals to the Arab street – talk about how 7/7 is “understandable” given the Iraqis killed on a continual basis – with an implication that they died at our hands. Anyone with paying the slightest attention knows about the daily suicide attacks and car bombs. There is widespread evasion of the nature of the jihadist terrorist attacks in Iraq.

Michael Ledeen makes a similar point in a recent article (subscription required to To The Point):
[W]hen Tony Blair reminded the House of Commons that many countries had been scourged by the terrorists in recent years, he omitted Iraq from the list. … One's instinct is to let it go as an oversight, but there was another country missing from the list, and this case was somewhat less widely noted: Israel.
He gives a number of reasons for the above including political correctness and unwillingness to offend Arab and Muslims sensibilities. He continues:
It is therefore not surprising that Iraq and Israel were omitted from Blair's list; it is a symptom of the corrupt and self-destructive patterns of emotion (I will not call it "thought") that led Great Britain to house a vast terrorist infrastructure. This sickness is certainly not limited to Great Britain; we find it here as well, in such personages as Pat Buchanan and Juan Cole, along with their acolytes.
Ledeen is right, of course. Many in the West refuse to list the Israeli and Iraqi terror casualties as victims of jihadist terror strikes. Nor do they demand that Islamic leaders extend their perfunctory condemnations of terrorism to the attacks on Israeli and Iraqi civilians. But the full absurdity is the Arab commentators who cite the deaths of Iraqis as a motivation for further terrorist strikes in the West. And no one calls them on it!

Multi-cultural moral equivalence allows Islamic commentators respect for their “explanation” which explains nothing. Jihadists are upset at Iraqi deaths – which they have caused! If you don’t understand this, you must be using infidel logic. They perceive the coalition as the occupation and Iraqi deaths as the result of occupation. Multi-culturalism holds that ideas are determined by one’s group identity – not reality. If this is the group’s perception, criticism is akin to racism. We must be sensitive to their cultural delusions.

One of the problems is the equivocation between two different usages of the word understanding. I call the first cognitive understanding and the second empathetic understanding. Cognitive understanding faces the facts and reveals the cause. The cause may be the depravity of an individual like Saddam Hussein. However, no empathetic understanding is warranted in this case.

One sign of our cultural depravity is the notion that no one is responsible for their behavior – all cognitive understanding yields empathic understanding. If you knew what the other person went through you’d understand that he’s human like you and you’d act no differently. When someone says we need to understand what drives the jihadists, they usually intend to explain away (not explain) the responsibility for such depraved character and vicious actions.

Combine the subjectivism of multi-cultural collective-consciousness with the deterministic denial of individual responsibility and you have complete moral disarmament in the face of a vicious ideological movement like Islam. Facts don’t matter – only Muslim perceptions matter. This is why Muslims don’t have to denounce terrorism. We’ll eventually understand.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Europe Reacts

Here are some interesting comments from the magazine “The Week” concerning Europe’s reaction in the aftermath of London’s terror attack.
Europe reacts: What do we do about our Muslims?
We can no longer avoid admitting that Western civilization is under assault, said Ezio Mauro in Italy’s La Repubblica. How naive we were four years ago when, “with easy compassion,” we proclaimed, “We are all Americans.” The truth is that the Islamic fanatics aren’t targeting America alone, but all Western democracies. We look at a television image from London of a body lying on a stretcher, “and we feel that it could be us, for we, too, are civilians, we, too, are Westerners.”

Now do we see what we’re up against? asked Magdi Allam in Italy’s Corriere della Sera. Many in the West “refuse to recognize the aggressive nature” of Islamic terrorism. The apologists see terrorism as reactive, a “plausible if illegitimate response” to Western slights. Those who insist on blaming the West have it half right—Western countries are at fault not for being too harsh with Muslim countries abroad but for being too lenient with their Muslim populations at home. Britain was a prime example of a country that let radical Islamists “live in separatist communities, fostering religious hatred.”

In Italy as well, the Islamists have been coddled for far too long, said Vittorio Feltri in Italy’s Libero. Italy funds the construction of mosques and takes down public displays of Christian imagery “to avoid offending a culture that considers ours inferior.” Why are we continuing to “show tolerance to those who have none?” It’s time we admitted that we are living in a state of emergency, “or better, a state of war.” Wartime demands extreme measures. It may be necessary to “destroy the bridges of friendship with a people that produces terrorists.”
Interesting? People are starting to wake up but will we see an intelligent response led by sane leadership or will it be fertile grounds for a demagogue? David Pryce-Jones warns about the growth of Britain’s fascist party which has picked up seats in the last election because of the failures by the UK’s main three parties to confront the Islamic threat.
Unfortunately, misguided British government policies that simultaneously make the country a haven for Muslim extremism while stoking white, working-class resentment with their perceived favoring of the larger Muslim community only exacerbate this problem. … Inexorably, those who privilege Muslims on the one hand, and Islamists on the other hand, are combining to shift public opinion toward the counterresponse of violence, which is to say fascism. Wedded to their parliamentary democracy, the British have always rejected foreign political imports like communism and fascism. No fascist party member has ever won a seat at Westminster, and today's fascists, the British National Party (BNP), fare no better. Under the impact of rising Islamism, however, and invigorated by the well-meant but foolish patronizing of Muslims by the authorities, the BNP has now acquired a few seats on local municipalities.
Bat Ye’or warned about Europe’s swings from far left to xenophobic fascism. Many countries have laws making Islam a protected religion exempt from criticism. This only leads to discussions in private far from the open air that forges an accurate and balanced perspective. Laws and cultural taboos – like political correctness – beget that which they fear, irrational hatred.

Since Islam is new to most people in the West, the knee jerk response to stifle criticism with charges of bigotry, fails to allow the natural investigation, deliberation, and on-going debate required for a sane assessment. An open inquiry cannot start with a conclusion – for example: stating that Islam is as good as other religions and has been hijacked. We need an honest inquiry open to wherever the facts may lead. A positive prejudgment is a prejudice as much as a negative prejudgment.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Root Cause

What is the root cause of jihadist terrorism? In a word:


You’ve heard the other theories: failing to alleviate their poverty, supporting Israel, robbing their oil, invading their countries, insulting their religion, corrupting their young, supporting their dictators, installing a democracy, etc. Islamic propaganda is rife with grievances to explain or justify jihadist terrorism. These pap explanations are regurgitated by leftists and the paleo-isolationist-right. However, the overriding factor that trumps them all, the distinctive mindset that is uniquely at play, the essence of the problem that is a prerequisite for what the world has endured these past decades is not hidden or obscure – it is simply Islam.

Let’s take poverty and ignore the fact that the jihadist planners are educated and well financed. Why poverty? Poverty is nothing new. Nor is it unique to Islamic countries. Why poverty? This excuse is standard in leftist mythology. It was common, until a few years ago, to call poverty the root cause of domestic common crime. However, we all get hungry and need to eat. Some of us will chose crime others will chose productive work. The key to that choice is character. Your idea of right and wrong – influenced by the philosophy or the religion that you choose to accept – is the determining factor of the character you create as you go about your life. You’re responsible for choosing a life of crime or becoming a productive citizen.

What’s true about an individual’s character is also true about a culture. The philosophy – religious or secular – that permeates the culture determines how people respond to life’s choices. Philosophy results in distinctive societies; it determines how a country weathers challenges – both natural and man-made. Islam is the overriding religious philosophy for over one billion people. And in it lies the key to understanding their souls.

Founded by a political and military leader, Mohammad, Islam is a supremacist ideology of conquest and rule. In the first century of its existence it conquered most of the known world. To the devout Muslim, their lowly status today is contrary to their self-image rooted in Islamic mythology. It is seen as an injustice for which the world – non-Muslims – must pay. By Allah’s will, Mohammad triumphed and his people conquered the world – Jesus achieved no such feats neither did the Jews. For Muslims being the bottom feeders of the world puts their religion in doubt. If it is not Islam, others are to blame.

The Muslim, according to Islam, should rule the earth. Non-Muslims, if they are allowed to live, must serve and grovel before their Islamic superiors. They must be constantly humiliated to inculcate the subservient character required as a dhmmis or second class citizen of the world. This has been the practice of Islam for most of its 1400 years history. Not all Muslims today stress the original intent of the religion. But some do.

In the last forty years, fuelled by Saudi wealth, an Islamic revival has spread worldwide teaching Muslims the original (salafi) religion. Muslims have once again taken up arms. From every corner of the Islamic world and from new converts within other societies, Muslims fuelled by the rage of their religion have dedicated their lives to the cause of jihad or Holy War.

Is poverty part of the problem? Yes, but not because of the obvious materialistic needs – these, Muslims scoff at – but because of the insult to Allah’s favored people. Is Israel important? Yes, but not because that sliver of land intrinsically matters for the 1 billion Muslims spread from Morocco to Indonesia. For a Muslim, to lose control of any previously conquered areas – Israel, Spain, the Balkans – is to be mistaken about Islam’s destiny. Are we robbing their oil? Look how poor Muslims are worldwide and how rich America is – this is proof to those who see wealth as a gift from Allah instead of the result of productive human effort.

Islam is the determining factor that explains the plight of Muslims, their need to scapegoat, and their violent response. By definition, an essence of anything is that which is central and best organizes the rest. For jihadist violence, Islam is the essence and thus the root cause.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

London attack - the question again:

Robert Bidinotto has recently written about his frustration with the lack of Muslim response to the jihadists. A few weeks ago he and I discussed the possibility of moderate Islam coming to the rescue and marginalizing militant Islam. He together with his colleagues at the Objectivist Center engage well-meaning Muslims who sincerely want cultural change in the Islamic world. In our discussion, he was hesitant to give up hope on “Moderate Islam.” However, now, Robert, raises the important question given the London terrorist attacks:

Do the Islamic fundamentalist terrorists truly represent a marginal minority among Muslims worldwide? Or is the term "Islamic fundamentalist" really just a redundancy?
With regard to the failure of the Islamic community to “clean its stables” he writes:

Will they, though? How many years, and how many more bloodbaths, will it take? And how long do we in the West patiently tap our feet, waiting for such reforms in the absence of any visible signs that they are taking place? Don't we have a right at some point to pronounce judgment on the Islamic culture itself?
He, like Robert Spencer and many others, raise questions that continually remain unanswered by Muslims of good will. And the silence itself says it all.
Some just don't get it.
On another note, I was recently watching Tucker Carlson debate an Arab commentator. As usual, the Arab commentator said we are terrorists just like the jihadists in London because we kill people in Iraq. Carlson politely disagreed and discussed targeting civilians versus the reality of collateral damage in wartime.

However, this missed the reality of today’s Iraq. Everyday in Iraq, Sunni jihadists target the Iraqi people and kill them by the dozens. It’s Muslims who are killing the people of Iraq and doing it deliberately. This slimy Arab commentator created a complete lie about who’s killing whom in Iraq. We are working hard trying to protect the Iraqi people from these killings. Carlson should have expressed outrage at this lying SOB and state that the coalition troops are moral heroes that deserve the utmost respect.

Some things get my blood boiling and a lack of respect for the sacrifices of our fighting men and women is one of them.

Friday, July 08, 2005

But They Promised

According to Daniel Pipes, England’s Islamic community had promised, under a Covenant of Security, that as long as the UK provided safe haven for Muslims, Islamists would only plan jihadist strikes for other locations. Some British writers actually believed having Islamists in England made the British safer. Islamic clerics explained that the UK would not be considered the Realm of War (Dar al-Harb) as long as they could continue to preach their jihadist ideology. Apparently, someone didn’t get the memo.

One of the interesting features of Islam is how killing is discussed as a matter of technical detail. Standard Islamic apologetics exempt Christian and Jews from genocide by virtue of a common heritage which makes them “people of the book.” However, it is seldom mentioned that all others must be killed. Unrepentant atheists, polytheists, and others must be conquered and killed – no exceptions allowed. For example, Serge Trifkovic describes the slaughter of Hindus and the virtual elimination of Buddhism in the land of its founding, India. Zoroastrianism was also wiped out in the land of its origin: Persia.

What makes Islam so frightening is the instability of its criteria of death. Debates on who can or cannot be killed seem like judgment calls depending on arbitrary considerations. For example, in recent times some Saudi Wahhabists have said that Christians are polytheists because of the belief in the Trinity. Wahhabist have always held that Sufis and Shiites cannot be protected as Muslims in good standing. And America has been described as a secular nation no longer protected as a “people of the book.” In other cases, Muslim leaders who encourage the devout to kill the infidels abroad often face those very jihadists on return. Mohammad, himself, embodied this instability as he continually redefined the rules to rationalize his duplicity, slaughter, and conquests.

Nevertheless, people continue to refer to technical exemptions as if they were solid grounds to trust the Islamic religion. Imagine, for example, if someone casually told you that you won’t be killed because of your hair color or race. Would you feel safe with such a person? You’d certainly wonder if you’ll be next year’s target. If someone says they would only kill in certain locations, would you be relieved? One looks for a solid tradition based on solid reasoning embodied in universal principles. Islam has no such universal principles.

Islam is a supremacist ideology created to justify conquest and rule over others. It lacks a disposition of universality which can be developed and extended to create a solid foundation for a just civilization. Recently, Ali Sina, an ex-Muslim who runs the website Faith Freedom, argues that Islam is lacking in a very important manner; he notes that Islam is perhaps the only religion without a Golden Rule. Universality is the very essence of an ethical principle – indeed the essence of conceptual knowledge as such. Islam’s failure in this regard cannot be compensated by its Byzantine rules and counter rules. In Islam there is just no core principle whose soundness and compelling nature provides a solid ethical foundation.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Islamist Attack in London

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. response to today’s jihadist attack is well worth reading.

“First, the determination of our enemies to destroy as many of us as possible remains a threat to all Western democratic societies. Notions that the Free World can safely disengage from this war or any of its fronts — including Iraq — should be put to rest along with the unwarranted sense of security born of the absence of deadly post-9/11 attacks here at home.”

Read the rest. Gaffney has a firm no-nonsense resolve combining the right attitude with solid suggestions. Anyone see other good articles that rise to the occasion?"