Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Importance of Ideology

The inability to see the role of religion – specifically the Islamic revival as the central element in the growing threat to civilization results in the erroneous search for other root causes and false solutions. This results in a dissipation of focus. I warned that our continual self-deception will have grave consequences. Most people today buckle under when barraged with promiscuous name-calling: “bigot, racist, prejudice, Islamophobia, etc.” There is a deliberate attempt to suppress any investigation of the religion’s role in today’s problems. Few have the facts or the courage to remain steadfast.

One man who has refused to be intimidated is Srdja Trifkovic. Read his latest article here. The fact that I don’t share some of his views on other topics is irrelevant. He’s written a good summary of our willing blindness.

I recommend Ibn Warraq’s “Why I Am Not a Muslim” to those unfamiliar with Islam – especially those with a secular disposition. I just came across Anthony Flew’s critical review of the book. Also, consider Daniel Pipes’ review. Once again, some won’t share Warraq’s general views on religion but his criticism of Islam is worth everyone’s consideration.

In general it is good to read a broad number of studies and abstract the essentials. No author has a monopoly on the truth. And the threat is a threat to us all – it dwarfs our differences.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Disgraceful 9/11 Memorial - GONE!

This just in: Pataki has nixed the disgraceful IFC .... read here. We have Debra Bulingame to thank for keeping this issue alive; and everyone who wrote, e-mailed, blogged, and came to the rally should feel proud. Ref.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hope in Egypt

One point I continually make (because few others do) is that Arab history shows a capacity for a secular order. I talked about it here (or in French.) This is contrary to the common notion that Islam has been the dominant factor requiring that we clear the field and prepare the soil for the growth of a Moderate Islam. Conservatives (or more correctly neo-conservatives) believe everyone needs their religion, let’s back the reformers (after all the secularists are socialists, right?) Not quite. A recent article in the New York Sun recalls the cosmopolitan Egypt of the late 19th century and early 20th century. (Hat tip Kira Zalen):
During the glory years, refugees, adventurers, and entrepreneurs flocked to cosmopolitan hubs like Cairo and Alexandria from all over the Mediterranean basin: Greeks, Italians, Syrians, Lebanese, and all sorts of other nations. They found a booming economy brought about by a sound yet controversial British administration and a relative freedom to thrive and prosper. They also found vibrant anti-British politics and a clamorous constitutional and democratic experiment that the British at times, and the royal family at other times, tried to undermine. Those were heady years when ground-breaking books on Islamic reform and women's rights were published and eagerly read. These foreign-born nationals made their lives in Egypt and saw it as home; they bought-up communal burial plots with room for their loved ones and descendants.
The author describes Egypt’s old movie industry where commercial films vied in charm and pathos with good ole Hollywood flicks. In Cairo bookshops today, forbidden books are kept out of sight while politically approved books, some crudely anti-Semitic, take their place on the bookshelves. The author ends on a hopeful note that the positive changes in Iraq are waking-up the old reformist spirit in Egypt. Let’s hope so.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Islam, the Ideology

At the risk of being repetitive let me summarize in a single post the importance of a critical analysis of Islam as an ideology.

First and foremost it is crucially important to differentiate between the philosophy Islam and a demographic group that is often nominally associated with the religion, i.e. Muslims. To collapse all distinctions, assuming that Muslim always means a devout practitioner of Islam and Islam is whatever Muslims do, is to abandon any concern with reality and the complex meaning of words. My Almanac states that Turkey is 99.8% Muslim; yet it is common knowledge that Turkey is one of the most secular countries in the Middle East. Sometimes the demographic label means nothing more than that one’s ancestors once practiced the religion. Many Muslims (like nominal adherents of any religion) are lax or lapsed; or they may practice their religion in a perfunctory or selective manner. These distinctions are important to get a full picture of the vastly divergent people.

When approaching a religious philosophy one consults the texts and examines the mythology, paying special attention to the example of the religion’s founding figure. Reform movements, of course, modify the picture as a secondary factor but one can still proceed in the same manner.

What defines a reformed and moderate version of the religion? First of all, there is an important difference between a lax practice and a moderate version of a religion. For a moderate version we usually see one of several signs: new texts partially superseding the old, major theologians as authorities of reform, separation from other denominations, etc. A textual approach is clearly philosophical and differs from the anthropological/sociological approach used by some historians and commentators of the current scene. That approach also has merit.

At present there is a taboo against a critical analysis of the religion of Islam – especially if there is a possibility that it may result in a negative assessment. I’ve been criticize on several venues for my critical stance or I’ve been urged to make equally critical assessments of other religions. This is not how knowledge is established. A disposition requiring a desirable outcome is nothing more than a prejudice – a positive prejudice – but a pre-judgment nevertheless.

Under the current atmosphere all critical effort has been directed towards the encouragement of Moderate Islam. I’ve argued that secularization has a significant tradition within Islamic countries while Moderate Islam has severe problems; Islam’s structural limitations diminish its prospects as a foundation for a sustained liberal order.

Advocating a new moderate turn instead of secularization makes the religion central (which in important senses had been marginalized until 40 years ago) and demoralizes advocates of secularization. Take the example of our government’s respect for the Koran and the extreme measures the administration takes to show respect for the religion. This demonstrates Islam’s power to Muslims and demoralizes the secularists. Even moderates worry. I remember Irshad Manji responding with dismay to Koran-gate and the initial bi-partisan assumption that Islam be treated with kid-gloves. She worried about a broader message: criticism of Islam is forbidden if it inflames Muslims anywhere in the world. Muslims – particularly devout jihadists – effectively have veto-power over discussions about Islam.

Without the possibility of severe criticism, the prospects for moderate reformers will slip away. During the 13th century, it was the secular doctrines of Aristotle that challenged the Church. During Locke’s time, philosophy continued to moderate religion. This continues even today. No religion is as criticized as Christianity and its many variants.

Is it possible to undertake a critical examination of Islam? In France it is virtually illegal to criticize Islam; in Italy it is illegal and one author is now charged with “vilifying a religion.” We still have our First Amendment rights; but that comes with a civic obligation to exercise those rights and speak out against any injustice or harmful ideas as counseled by our best judgment.

If, as I argue elsewhere, Islam is at its core an illiberal political ideology (it was certainly created as a state-religion), it should be criticized as any such ideology – for example, communism. And like communism during the Cold War, political speech is protected under the First Amendment while actual acts of violence are a proper concern of the state.

We should also remember that the vilification of innocent individuals brought disgrace to the critics of communism. One should avoid such injustice today. As usual, judge people as individuals looking beyond nominal designations to discover the truth. That’s why it is doubly important to realize a philosophical analysis is not a demographic analysis.

There comes a time when a society’s culture is dominated by an ideology or a nation is ruled by a clique driven by an ideology. If one judges a societies’ culture lacking to a significant extent, one’s preferred course of action is avoidance, just as one would if one found an individual’s character objectionable. While I don’t write about foreign policy I generally prefer disengagement and severing ties, as I’ve mentioned on one occasion. Otherwise establishing a deterrent is the wise course of action. I respect those who wish to reform and aid the fledging democracy abroad – indeed, I cheer every success along the way – but in the long-run I hope a less ambitious policy is adopted.

If we are to understand the Islamic revival, the threat it poses civilization, and the long road ahead, we have to be brutally honest. For this I do not apologize. And if we are to understand the difficulties our fellow countrymen have just discussing this topic, we realize our culture has sunk to a new low, unable to even think in principles – totally reduced to sound-bites, temporal partisan trivia, slogans, and name-calling. It is far more important to focus on the challenges of our own culture. I’ve done this to some extent and hope to move the focus in that direction in the future.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Islamic Revival

There are many designations, Western in origin, for the revival of Islam in the last fifty years. One hears of radical Islam, militant Islam, fundamentalist Islam, political Islam, Islamism, etc. Recently some apologists (and government officials!) have coined terms which show no reference to Islam at all: Al Qaedism, bin Ladenism, extremism, fanaticism, etc. These are meant to obscure the driving force behind certain actions and to deny the widespread support for this movement.

The word fundamentalist is the most appealing. After the Islamic take-over of Iran in 1979, this word gained popularity, especially in the media. But it had its critics. Bernard Lewis writes:
The use of this term is established and must be accepted, but it remains unfortunate and can be misleading. "Fundamentalist" is a Christian term. It seems to have come into use in the early years of this century, and denotes certain Protestant churches and organizations, more particularly those that maintain the literal divine origin and inerrancy of the Bible. In this they oppose the liberal and modernist theologians, who tend to a more critical, historical view of Scripture. Among Muslim theologians there is as yet no such liberal or modernist approach to the Qur'an, and all Muslims, in their attitude to the text of the Qur'an, are in principle at least fundamentalists. [1]
Islamic apologists also balked. John Esposito writes:
I prefer to speak of Islamic revivalism and Islamic activism rather than of Islamic fundamentalism. [1]
However, Islamic writers had to admit its usefulness for lack of a better word. Hasan Hanafi, an Egyptian philosopher states:
It is difficult to find a more appropriate term than the one recently used in the West, ‘fundamentalism,' to cover the meaning of what we name Islamic awakening or revival. [1]
Since the argument is what to call the Islamic revival, why not call it the Islamic revival? It is common to do just that within Islam. However, the problem becomes obvious. The term Islamic revival means that fundamentalist Islam is just Islam. The implication is that Muslims have become lax or lapsed, that they have practiced Islam in a perfunctory or selective manner with a focus on ritual. The revival means the religion is becoming a vibrant belief system once again and the doctrines are now taken seriously. Of course, this is the case.

Unwilling to see the revival as a return to the essentials of the religion Westerners coined, or revived, another term: Islamism. This term emphasized the political nature of the revival and sought to connote the viewpoint that it was a modern corruption, one which incorporated European totalitarian practices. But there were some who advocated the use of Islamism with a positive take. Back in 1994, Robert Pelletreau, Jr., of the United States State Department (naturally!), for example states:
"Islamists" are Muslims with political goals. We view these terms as analytical, not normative. They do not refer to phenomena that are necessarily sinister: there are many legitimate, socially responsible Muslim groups with political goals. However, there are also Islamists who operate outside the law. [1]
The word games are driven by the fact that each time a new word is put into use, the old negative judgments would return. Finding the judgments unacceptable, a new word would be employed. The old word was then said to be a pejorative and social stigma discouraged its use. Perhaps the words aren’t the problem!

1. All quotes are taken from Martin Kramer’s Coming to Terms: Fundamentalists or Islamists?, The Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2003, Volume X, number 2

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Our Greco-Roman Heritage.

It is during times of crisis that one turns to one’s core values for strength and wisdom. If the crisis arises from the threat of a barbaric adversary, one derives moral strength from the righteousness of one’s cause and pursues the fight with a firm confidence that this enemy must be defeated in the name of our lives, liberty and honor. Let’s be honest about the enemy’s nature: we face a hate-infested irrational oppressive theocratic foe. They produce nothing of value but derive their power from the oil found under their feet.

Where does our civilization derive its greatness? We’ve maintained a commitment to nurture and sustain a liberal democracy for centuries and become a thriving prosperous people. What is the source of this achievement?

Our culture’s greatness is rooted in the Greco-Roman tradition. This is a tradition that has given us reason and science. There was much more to be done, but in this regard the Greeks made a giant leap. It was the rebirth of Ancient learning, the Renaissance, which provided the foundation of today’s science and technology. It was the rediscovery of Hellenic thought, from Aquinas to the Humanists, which revived and revitalized our civilization. The Greeks had marginalized superstition, escaped from dogmatism, and were never tempted by blind faith. They wanted reasons; they sought solid ground for their beliefs.

From the Greco-Roman period came respect for the rule of law, the idea of natural law, and, for its day, toleration of religious beliefs. These concepts in their infancy were far too narrow compared to today’s notions but we built and extended these concepts to arrive at the ideas of our founding fathers. From this base, we evolved the ideas of natural rights and individual liberty; with which Locke helped to seed the Anglo-American Enlightenment.

The totalitarian movements of the 20th century showed how dogmatism and arbitrary doctrinal systems, created in defiance of reality and with reason cast aside, results in mass horror. The Islamic culture shows how a religion that makes no room for reason is an abomination; and becomes a worldwide threat. Islam is a religion of dogmatic blind faith and self-renunciation in submission. It is a political ideology rooted in world conquest but takes solace in bizarre fantasies about the afterlife. In America, religion is a private personal matter. In general, people deal with each other as rationally as they can, talking about evidence and arguing about reality.

In summary, our core principles are reason, individualism, and liberty. They have their roots in Greco-Roman culture, revived during the Renaissance, and refined during the Enlightenment. Today, these ideas are under attack by critics on the left and the right. However, I believe most Americans are sensitive to our core principles even if they don’t accept their application as broadly as we once did - the attacks have had some effect. We need to reaffirm our principles and appreciate how we’ve become a great nation. In crisis we need to rally around the principles that made us great.

See also:
Our Roman Heritage
Cicero on Just War

Friday, September 23, 2005

Are Rights Universal?

There is a debate within the conservative movement, for some time, about whether rights are universal or even if rights are absolute. Some traditional conservatives view rights as radical abstract ideas that fueled the excesses of the French revolution and today fuel rampant entitlements and the expansion the welfare state. However, rights in Locke’s philosophy and for our founding fathers were well-defined, delimited, and central to the program of protecting individual liberty. Rights are an important part of our heritage as relevant today as they were in Jefferson’s day.

One question that is often asked is: are rights universal? Critics note that not everyone has a passion for liberty or a desire to respect the rights of others. Some note that a constitution protecting individual rights would be ignored in many cultures even if it were imposed by an external force. Furthermore, many people live without rights. What makes rights universal?

The answer is human nature. But even here we have to proceed with caution and clarify what we mean. I’d first separate the factual statement from a moral exhortation. Let me explain this in detail; it is important.

Factually, respecting individual rights respects man’s tool of survival: the individual mind. It is by cultivating the virtue of rationality that one understands, acts, and achieves the values required to sustain one’s life and properly deal with other productive and honest people. If one can’t act upon one’s rational judgment, human thought is superfluous. When liberty is recognized as a universal right of every individual, it makes virtue possible and necessary. And the core virtue, that of cultivating and maintaining one’s rational ability, is a requirement of maintaining cognitive contact with reality. It makes survival possible and possible on the human level, i.e. with the dignity and fulfillment appropriate to a human being.

At this point, I haven’t said anything about a moral imperative. I’ve just stated the relationship of human reason to one’s surviving and flourishing; and the role of rights protecting each individual’s ability to act on his best judgment. It’s as if a physician described the effects of proper medication, exercise, and nutrition on health – i.e. the wherewithal for a robust and long-term survival; it would first and foremost be a factual description. Or a psychologist describing the environment conducive to learning and growth, it would be a factual statement. The exhortation to do those things or create such an environment makes it a moral imperative.

The factual requirements for survival are irrelevant in the mist of a culture or location where human survival isn’t possible. As is trivially noted, in a juggle, being a gentleman is irrelevant. And rights become moot among those that cannot grasp the concept. However, the factual evaluation remains. The relationship between respecting rights and surviving as a human being with the dignity and longevity appropriate to a human being is still a valid relationship. It’s just that neither can be in some locations or cultures. That’s the point of the factual identification: rights are factually important to protect what’s required to survive properly. If you can’t secure them you are in danger.

We can therefore judge a culture by its ability to recognize and sustain individual rights. To the degree that rights can be respected in a given cultural environment, it becomes relevant to issue a moral imperative and exhort others to respect each and every individual’s rights. But a culture, like individual character, evolves slowly. Here is where I have sympathy for the conservative insight that cultivation of character or culture is a process that requires time and tradition. It requires establishing practices, in both thought and in deed, that create a body of knowledge both explicitly articulated and implicitly embedded in tradition.

Urging respect for rights in a culture that has no inkling of the notion is futile or even worse, counter productive. Educating people about the benefits of living in a rights-based society is a worthy investment but it may not come to fruition for some time. The question remains, when to push for change. Here there are no hard-and-fast rules. One has to be cognizant of what is possible in the short-term vs. the long-term in any given situation.

Germany couldn’t keep the democracy it had in the 1920s but it’s been able to keep the democracy established after WWII. Russia lost the democracy it established for a few months in 1917 when the Bolsheviks rose to power and replaced it. Can Russia hold on to democracy today? One certainly hopes so but it is far from certain.

East Germans still find living in a free society challenging or worse, distasteful. The culture shock was great; one hopes there isn’t backsliding. But the virtues of self-reliance, independent thought, and independent initiative weren’t possible or necessary in Communist East Germany. Character can’t change by the “sudden inflow” of liberty. Many still want to be cared for by the state.

Iraq is going to attempt a constitutional democracy but questions remain. Will the Shiites, once securely in power, take revenge on the Sunnis? Will Islam transform the democracy into a repressive state? Will the passive desire to be supported by oil be replaced by a work-ethic? Or will a corrupt socialism destroy the hopes of a thriving capitalist economy?

Even here at home, we ask similar question. Will people ask that the government take care of them or will we return to a culture of self-reliance and self-responsibility? Will people ask for benefits and access to education on the basis of their demographic group or will we treat each individual by “the content of their character?” Much hangs in the balance. The prospects for individual rights depend on cultural attitudes we’ve had in the past and new attitudes that replace them in many cases.

Rights are universal, in the sense that they are requirements for human well-being. But they are only possible, i.e. respected, if the culture allows.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Intellectual Surrender

The fight for civilization has to be first and foremost intellectual. Without powerful language, we are defeated. Without potent concepts, we are blind. We are not being defeated on the battlefield. Nor do we lack facts to justify our actions. However, we are surrendering in the field of ideas without much of a fight. Our unilateral disarmament is first and foremost intellectual.

We start by giving up on any attempt to understand the enemy and judge them appropriately. This leaves us ignorant of key aspects of their ideology and motivation. The first pitfall is the doctrine of nominalism. Words are treated as mere labels, without potent meaning, used only as conveniences for vague resemblances; they are not to be taken too seriously. Thus, we are told, Islam is anything Muslims want it to mean. Immediately, this removes the ideology from criticism. If you don’t know what it is, if they still haven’t decided what it entails (after 14 centuries), how can you be so unfair as to dismiss it – are you prejudiced? Or so it goes.

This was a common tactic during the rise of communism. Russian communism was called a “noble experiment” of which we should withhold judgment until we see what it means in practice. Pragmatism, the dominant philosophy in early 20th century America, is rife with the nominalist’s fluid contortions of word-labels in search of a reality. And, as we’ve seen, it was the pragmatists, whose agnosticism helped blind us to the threat of communism during the 1930s. Today, nominalist blinders undercut our ability to make solid judgment required to vigorously maintain our resolve.

In domestic politics, we see nominalism in attempts to redefine the word racism. Pervious attacks on our language have confused people about concepts such as rights, democracy, liberty, etc. The attack is an epistemological one – take away a man’s concepts and he is blind. Muddy them and he is uncertain. Trivialize them and he knows little.

Coupled with nominialism, is the sterile word games that reduce concepts to their key attribute. For example, Islam we are told, means nothing more that submission to God; that’s the definition of the word and the word means just its defining attribute. According to this line of thinking, you can’t say anything more with certainty. Any attempt to say more is met with spurious counter-examples that are allowable given broad meaning - the word now excludes next to nothing. Presumably, Islam goes with everything: individual liberty, communism, pluralism, supremacy, peace, war, etc. A Muslim, in good standing, can define the rest of his religion as he sees fit.

You may not hear this view too often unless you argue with academics as I recently did in another thread. Once again, this is an attempt to squash further critical examination of Islam by making you feel unfair about asserting anything more than a tautology. Of course, you’re quickly told it’s only unfair to assert negative attributes about Islam: “How dare you say a Muslim can’t favor democracy. There’s nothing about submission to God that prevents that.” But say a good Muslim can be a terrorist and you’ll be told that that is bigotry - derived from a few malcontents who hijacked a religion!

A religion is far more than the acceptance of God (for a monotheistic religion.) It necessarily involves a view of God, his role in the world, and his demands on human behavior that results in a society with distinctive ethical and political mores. The question of God’s existence is minor in comparison to the question of God’s identity. What do you think God wants you to do? That’s the crux of the matter. The God that wants you to love your neighbor has a very different identity than the God that wants to you wage jihad and subjugate others. For those of us who are not religious, we still need to ask that question when trying to understand the character of our neighbors.

Nominalism is common with demographers and it has some usages in that regard. My Almanac says that 99.8% of Turks are Muslims. But what does this mean? Turkey is the most secular country in the Middle East after Israel. The Kamalist revolution decimated the Islamic religion. At this point, calling Turks Muslims means the word has become so broad as to mean nothing more than at sometime one’s ancestors practiced the Islamic religion. Note that this virtually makes it a racial-type label. Thus, criticism of Muslims thus becomes racism.

If the word Muslim is to mean practitioner of a religion, one has to know what Islam is before you can tell if someone is a Muslim. Self-proclamations are not automatically true. Demographic Muslims don’t define Islam. It’s the ideology of Islam that defines who is a Muslim, if we are talking about actual practitioners of the religion. There are no grounds to treat religious ideologies different from secular ideologies in regards to the ascertaining of the content and scope of its definition. Would you rush to the local meeting of the Communist Party to get an answer to the question: what is communism? Likewise, it is intellectually bankrupt to take a nominal-Muslim and ask him to define the religion. The religion is a historical fact created and defined by Mohammad 14 centuries ago, according to the mythology. If you want to learn about Islam consult some well-written books.

Once again, you see the same silliness that we saw with communism. Does Communism, mean nothing else but community? Of course, not! It never meant a community of individuals. It was a collectivist doctrine where individuals can be sacrificed for the good of the whole. And after 100 million lives were so sacrificed, the evil is clear to all people who have their eyes open. Then, we are told, that Communism was never tried since Marx says a country has to become capitalist first and the 20th century examples skipped that step. This is another attempt at silly word games that academics play.

Islam, too, has a specific nature. The doctrines of the religion are found by a study of the Koran and Hadith. Their cash value is clear from Islam’s history once you properly analyze the influence of the religion amidst other influences. When the religion is practiced, as Mohammad illustrated in Medina, it is a supremacist ideology of conquest, plunder and oppression. When it is marginalized and philosophical influences have an effect, we see some semblance of creativity resulting in narrow scientific achievements and periods of reprieve from the pervasive oppression.

Thus, the effect of nominalism is to reduce concepts to thin emaciated shadows of themselves, where only tautological certainty is found by the association of the label with the essential attribute - all other inferences are completely undercut. Real people (i.e. non-academics), of course, don’t think like this. A far more natural description of human thought is one that holds concepts to be judgments – not stipulations. By grouping objects as similar in kind and abstracting what is essential, one grasps reality in the most efficient way. In the course one has to sort out what is central from the peripheral, what is significant from the trivial, and establish the breath and scope of our knowledge.

We understand communism when we see how individuals can be sacrificed for the collective in the name of the good of the whole. This attempt at collectivism is total, in its control of the population in an attempt to defy human nature in the creation of a “new man” that conforms to utopian notions of altruism. In the name of the health of the whole, any amputation of the population is acceptable. Classical liberalism, which upholds the sovereignty of the individual in his person and property, is the antithesis of communism.

Islam, as we’ve noted, is a political philosophy in religious garb that is a supremacist ideology of conquest, plunder and oppression. This is the example Mohammad set. Without Mohammad there is no Islam. The Koran, uttered by Mohammad, is augmented by the Hadith – his sayings and deeds. The central idea, once abstracted, is the essence that organizes and makes intelligible the documents and, when operative in Muslim societies, the results in practice.

This is a substantial approach that we owe to Greco-Roman heritage. It seeks to see matters in proportion by putting them in context, establishing centrality, and ordering the rest relative to the core foundation of our knowledge. Being rational (derive from the word ratio) involves such proportional thinking.

Ref: see Leonard Peikoff’s “The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy” for a technical discussion of related problems in academic philosophy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Bravo, Michael Graham

Michael Graham is proud of speaking the truth about Islam (re: Washington Post). ABC fired Graham after pressured by the Saudi-front Islamist group, CAIR. Apparently, critical remarks about the ideology of Islam are not allowed on ABC talk radio. ABC demanded that Graham apologize like a good dhimmi. Graham, to his credit (and unlike our elected leaders) choose honor over job security. We’re with you Michael – keep it up!

In the long run virtue is its own reward … and people who respect that will support Michael in his next endeavor. Indeed, it looks like Michael has prospects already. (Hat tip Always On Watch)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

"Sixth Column" has New Articles

New articles on Sixth Column! The first is a psychiatric evaluation of Mohammad and the diagnosis quite convincing (if you’re not a Muslim.) The second is an interesting look at one Arab’s candid expose of the pathological anger and hatred, considered universal among all Muslims by the Arab commentator, and what adds the final touch to create a suicide bomber. The third, on political Islam, shows some awareness of the problem among Arabs but not the source: Islam. The fourth asks: is the new jizya, high gas prices? The fifth is a summary of what Islam is, it history, the epidemic of hate-mongering among today’s Muslims, and more – for those who can face the harsh reality without a chaser.

I’ve saved the best for last: Where does one start to learn about Islam? George starts with a review of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam. This is followed by a comprehensive list of links and extensive bibliography. I have my own recommendations – five books and a dozen links – but for those wanting a more extensive list, check George’s out.

Kudos to our fellow freedom-fighters over there at Sixth Column!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Oh, That Islam!

This article in the Washington Post claims the problem is Salafi Islam – which the author implies is an esoteric distortion of Islam. Actually, Salafi Islam is the original Islam of Mohammad and the 1st four rightly guided caliphs. It’s a bona fide Islamic tradition. What other Islam is there? The author believes he knows: its “traditional” Islam. But is he actually aware this tradition? After four years, it’s time for writers in the Washington Post to learn about the enemy’s ideology. Here’s some suggested reading.

Islam and its Denial - Part VII

Most people today, on the left or on the right, still can’t face the growing threat of Islam. I’ve blogged on this topic and summarize the main points in longer articles (see the links at the right under “Articles”). This is disheartening given the numerous books and websites devoted to exposing this threat. Yet, it is not without precedent. In the early 20th century, a few lone voices warned of the threats by the nascent totalitarian movements of communism and fascism. They watched helplessly as European civilization disintegrated into savagery.

It took thirty years before the threat of communism was taken seriously by our country as a whole. From the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 to Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech in 1947, many had warned of the pernicious nature of this ideology but those in power, backed by influential intellectuals, failed to face the stark reality. During the Red Decade of the 1930s, left-liberals minimized or trivialized – if not out right denied – the evil nature of communism and the horrors of the Soviet Union. I review the history of that denial here.

Similarly, during the 1930s too many people found it hard to believe that Hitler meant what he said. Nor that the German people would support him in another world war. As usual, it was common to project our war-weariness and decency onto the German people. Many still say that most Germans didn’t buy into the worse aspects of Nazism but that as good people they did nothing as “evil triumphed.”

Today we see the same smug dismissal of Islamist leaders who openly advocate a supremacist ideology of world conquest. Unable to see the implications of the ideology of Islam, our leading writers in the media and press, across the political spectrum, assure us that this is just a few malcontents. And once again, the silence among good Muslims – those lax, lapsed, perfunctory, or selective in their practice of Islam – should give neophytes to the study of Islam pause for concern. Their silent sanction is as dangerous as a vigorous endorsement.

With the rise of secular totalitarianisms, we can look back and in the stereotypical manner of Monday morning quarterbacks, imagine our ability to recognize and fight these threats. There were opponents, to be sure, but those that fully understood the grave threats of both communism and fascism were rare indeed. It is common for those that chastise the willing blindness to fascism to hold up as heroes, anti-fascists, blind only to communism. And vice versa, some applaud opponents of communism that failed to understand the depths of depravity of fascism. But there were a few who saw the coming horror of both.

I’ve summarized the blindness to the communism threat in the 1930s. In the following post, I review how blind many were to the fascist threat but this time I discuss it through the eyes of one witness to history: Eugene P. Wigner. A Hungarian born physicist, Wigner was instrumental in the creation of the Manhattan project and, like his friend Edward Teller, continued to be a fierce opponent of communism.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Denial of Nazism

Eugene P. Wigner, saw first hand, the rise of Nazism and communism – and played an important role fighting both. Born in Hungary, in 1902, he would study engineering and physics in Berlin and eventually settle in America where he worked on the Manhattan project. In his auto-biography, The Recollections of Eugene P. Wigner as told to Andrew Szanton, Wigner recalls growing up in Hungary and studying in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. (All page number refer to this book.)

Like many people of Jewish ancestry in early 20th century Europe, the Wigners were non-practicing and thought of themselves as good Hungarians. They were keenly aware of the barriers facing Jews. For example, Wigner notes: “I almost never felt anti-Semitism personally in Hungary, though I saw how it was used to control the prospects of the Jews. … There was a Jewish membership quota of about one tenth in Hungarian universities. A Jew had no hope of receiving a high government post …” [P36] His family converted to Christianity and he attended the prestigious Lutheran Gymnasium (i.e. high school.)

“About 1915, the communists began gaining real strength in Hungary. My father deeply opposed them … Many of the top communist leaders were Jewish, and my father found this quite disturbing. He was only embarrassed about it at first, but as Jews became more strongly associated with communism, my father took a radical step: He arranged the conversion of his family to Christianity. … Since the First World War, Jewish conversion to Christianity had become far more respectable. Jancsi von Neumann’s family became Roman Catholic …” [P38]

Shortly after World War I, the communists, under Bela Kun, seized power and ruled Hungry from March to November 1919. “Like my father, I opposed communism in 1918 … I found Karl Marx’s work quite unconvincing. And Lenin was even worse. … Lenin’s work clearly brimmed with a lust for power and a grotesque urge to regulate human life … “ [P39] He was equally appalled at the autocratic government that succeeded the communists. Wigner continued his education in Berlin where he would do path-breaking work in quantum physics. Eventually, he took a position at Princeton University.

Wigner’s comments on the rise of Nazism are an interesting statement of the tenor of the times. As he traveled and talked with his friends and colleagues from Germany, Hungary and France he was perplexed and frustrated by their lack of alarm. (All emphasis mine:)

“Back in Princeton, I watched closely for news of Adolf Hitler. I wondered how the Hungarian people regarded Hitler now. I knew that his Jewish suppression would not cause much fuss; most Hungarians were not fond of Jews either. But as Hitler made clear how badly he wished to suppress Hungary itself, I wondered: When will my Hungarians finally awaken? From my vantage point in Princeton, it was very hard to know. But most Hungarians seemed to genuinely like Hitler. I found that remarkable.

More remarkable still was that even the Jews themselves hardly seemed to hate Hitler. They knew he was unreasonable and they said so. But is that hatred? The objection was an intellectual one, and hatred is not a matter of intellect but of deepest emotion. Jews in Germany hardly listened to Hitler. When he had proposed their suppression in the 1930, many of them had said, 'Oh, this is just wild talk so that he comes to power more quickly.'” [P181]

“When Hitler took power and began practicing his cruelty, the Jews did get angry. Many of them wanted to depose Hitler. But did they really hate him, as he hated them? Again, I think not. Hatred is not easy to define, but to me hatred means that if you say the chance, you would murder whom you hate. Very few Jews would have seized the chance to murder Adolf Hitler. I suppose I might have done it. But my parents would not have, nor would anyone else I knew. They would only have deposed him.”

But, you see, Hitler really did hate the Jews. He despised the Jews and he murdered them as soon as he saw the chance. To speak of the Nazi crimes rouses bitter memories. But I feel that the subject should be raised regularly to help prevent it from recurring.” [P182]

“Sadly, as late as 1938, most Americans hardly noticed Hitler’s plans of conquest. If you described Hitler to an average American, he would say, ‘What a hateful man! If what you say about him is true, he will someday be overthrown by his own people. And if he tries anything like that in this part of the world, he will be abolished.’” … “’Relax. We have plenty of time. Germany is very far from here, and we whipped her in the First World War.’ Most Americans cannot believe that their lives need ever be touched by developments in Europe.”

“That was the general reaction to my appeals: that I was pleasantly disagreeable to ask people to sacrifice their time and pleasure just so that America might build a wild new explosive with which to threaten the brash ruler of Germany.”

And I could never blame the Americans for resisting the idea. Good people dislike waging war. … The urge to ignore Hitler in the 1930s was natural.”

He also found that “none of the Frenchmen I knew in 1938 thought Hitler would really overrun France … The French argued that German soldiers, even if pressed into battle, would not fight them wholeheartedly.” “The French were fooling themselves. They had no thought of France ruling the earth, so they had no idea how badly Hitler wanted to rule the earth and how much he was willing to sacrifice in the effort. France could not bring herself to imagine all this.”

People rationalized their views. “I already knew that belief is not rational at heart, but I was surprised to see how badly people wanted to cloak their beliefs in reason.” “It was refugees from other parts of Europe who saw most clearly that a war was coming. We reported the menace to our adopted countries.” “Compared with either Edward Teller’s or Leo Szilard’s, my political views were moderate. But as late as 1940, my politics made a great many Americans label me ‘a European extremist.’” [P190-191]

Wigner continued to sound the alarm about totalitarianism after Nazism was gone and communism remained. He understood that both were a grave evil. “Teller, Wigner, von Neumann, Szilard—all of us loved science as boys [in Hungary] and tried to influence politics as men. Teller, von Neumann, and I all became political conservatives. Szilard was nearly the opposite. Teller, von Neumann, and I tried mainly to boost the military strength of our adopted country, the United States.” [P226]

“Just a no Frenchman could admit in 1938 that Hitler might overrun France, no American could admit in 1950 that Stalin might overrun the United States. Yet Stalin’s dream of world conquest was just as public a dream as Adolf Hitler’s. At least in 1938, France had been supported by strong allies. What country could help the United States, I wondered, if it were bombed or invaded?” [P258]

“My fellow scientists generally ignored Russian brutality. They never saw how vast a threat is posed by every great dictator: a threat to the freedom of whole peoples and nations and human ideas; a threat even to the idea of science.” [P260]

It wasn’t easy for people to face the threat of fascism and communism. Those who understood the threat early had the frustrating job of sounding the alarm only to be called an alarmist. Hopefully, today, people will hear the alarm and face the threat of Islam before we see death and destruction on a massive scale. At least we must sound the alarm.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Our Prejudice

Prejudice is an obstacle to understanding and most people abhor such injustice. However, shouts of prejudice, when used as a means to cut short any investigation, are manipulative tactics of intimidation. Islamic apologists, who want to exploit the ignorance of Americans, resort to this tactic to establish a wall of protection that pre-empts a critical examination of the Islamic religion.

They just don’t want you to learn the truth about Islam. You can sense the hysteria whenever someone presents an extensive examination of the ideology and historical record. As the negatives mount, instead of trying to refute the evidence, apologists resort to angry name-calling: “racist, prejudice, bigotry, hate!” Such tactics of intimidation are an admission that Islam can’t be defended.

A recurring pattern of intimidation, however, works. Slowly a taboo is established that prevents the critical examination of Islam. What results, ironically, is prejudice – a positive prejudice. Today we see a positive predisposition to view Islam as benign. This isn’t a result of knowledge – most people are still ignorant about Islam – but a pre-judgment. It is this prejudice that we have to work against.

Such blindness can be lethal. During the 1930s apologists downplayed the threats of communism and Nazism. I’ve discussed, more than once, the willful blindness, during the 1930s, to the horrors of communism. I’ll talk about the problem many had facing the threat of Nazism in a future post but most intelligent people know the history in a general sense.

In many ways, Islam is similar to the totalitarian threats of the 20th century but until recently Islamists lacked the financial means and military technology to commit the atrocities on the scale that we’ve seen by secular illiberal ideologies. After being defeated by Israel in conventional wars, Islamists have temporarily resorted to covert attacks that invigorate their spirit (“our success is a sign from Allah”) and motivate recruitment while technological means are being acquired or developed. They openly state that their goal is to defeat and conquer the West. A nuclear destruction of a Western city is their Holy Grail – the ultimate sign from Allah.

While Islamic apologists are busy condemning a fictitious negative prejudice they call Isalmophobia, Muslims have created the most extensive hate-movement since the 1930s. The polls showing over 90% express hatred of American and Jews lead some self-deprecating Western commentators to ask “why do they hate us?” as if we did something to earn that hatred. It’s extremely hard for many to see such hate-filled people as the hate-mongers they are. Yes, some of that hate is manipulative, but there is a core group of virulent hate-mongers that seek our destruction. And the general culture of hate and paranoia feeds the virulent and vicious among them.

The growth of this movement is little understood. A typical victim psychology has gripped Western commentators who seek hope in the illusion that it’s our fault and we can change it. Yet, it continues to surprise everyone by its worldwide growth from the Middle East to the Philippines, to Nigeria, and to the clerics who openly preach these doctrines in London.

Israelis were shocked that after Oslo there weren’t just one or two suicide bombers but, at its peak, a steady stream of daily attacks that seemed endless until the wall was built. Over the "Oslo decade" a whole generation was indoctrinated with the Islamist virus. Even leftist Israeli propagandists, like Benny Morris, who wrote volumes as a revisionist historian (see The Oslo Syndrome), admitted that he hadn’t figured on the influence of Islam. “So there is something else here, something deeper that has to do with Islam and Arab culture … There is a deep problem in Islam. It’s a world whose values are different. A world in which human life doesn’t have the same value as it does in the West, in which freedom, democracy, openness and creativity are alien. A world that makes those who are not part of the camp of Islam fair game.”

Americans and Iraqis are shocked that aside from pockets of resistance, continuous streams of jihadists attack Iraqi citizens on a daily basis. Few can face the broad revival of Islam as a vibrant warrior ideology originally practiced by Mohammad. "It must be something we did," say the apologists. Yet, secular dictators only hid this growing movement. Even Saddam had to admit the power of the revival by the creation of a massive mosque-building program. Philosophy – religious or secular – has a way of reasserting itself in the long-run unless refuted and replaced by a secure and sound alternative.

Today we face a hate-filled supremacist ideologically-driven movement with imperialist designs. Like the 1930s, our blindness virtually guarantees its growth to the point that it will take massive death and destruction before people face the evil in our presence. Prejudice – even a positive prejudice – is a loss of contact with reality that leads to fatal consequences. We must wake up; we will wake up! The only question is before or after the next major atrocity. We have to fight to insure that it sooner rather than later.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Tom Palmer on Iraq

Tom Palmer has been on my blog list (see the list on the right) for some time. What singles Tom out is his attitude. Here’s a guy who wasn’t convinced we should go to war into Iraq but now he’s rushing over to help them establish a liberal democracy.

He was in Eastern Europe during the late 80s and early 90s bringing the classic books on liberty to new audiences. Perhaps his fondness for reading the originals comes from his education at St. Johns in Annapolis – one of the bastions of using original works instead of text books when possible (his bio.) His knowledge isn’t confined to the classics; he’s been active in policy studies for decades. And he’s a great communicator.

It seems there no limit to Palmer’s passion to spread the gospel of liberty and nurture struggling societies recuperating from long-standing oppression. There’s a steep learning curve in Iraq, today. Some might throw up their hands, cry what a mess, and urge us to run. Not Tom. He’s a fighter – with intellectual ammunition but that’s urgently needed in Iraq. Here’s his report on Iraq.

The Cato Institute, where Tom works, tends to be weak in areas of foreign policy and defense but when it comes to the economy, they’re second to none. Let’s hope they take some of Tom’s advice.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Reporting on Iraq

The wartime reporting of the mainstream media (MSM) is sadly disappointing – no, it’s egregiously atrocious. We can all recall the hysterical exaggerations of certain events over the past two years, but what bothers me is the more subtle everyday reporting that aims to strike under the radar.

The usual reporting generally lists American casualties and stops there. These are clearly first in importance, but what is missing is the full story. In wartime reporting, one expects to be informed about the battle: its objective, the challenges, the valor of our troops, the cost to the enemy, ground gained or lost, etc. All of this is eliminated. There are a few rare exceptions: Ralph Peters, a columnist and Michael Yon on the Internet. This information, however, should be in the news articles. The MSM’s omission is not accidental. Merely reporting the deaths and not the war sends one message: these men and women are dying for no reason.

The coverage of the enemy is completely different. After every terrorist attack, news coverage generally includes the enemy’s propaganda – generally a statement of the enemy’s purported reason. These statements have a purpose: they intend to add humiliation (you brought it on yourself), demoralization (we will do it again), etc. By relaying the enemy’s propaganda as fact the writers of the MSM, as useful idiots, become an accomplice after the fact. The humiliation is a crucial part of the attack. However, their main purpose is to send a message: the enemy has a purpose and reason.

Subtle as they are, these dual messages – our guys are dying for no reason, the enemy has a reason – slowly undercuts the publics spirit.

The second failure is that of the commentators. There are a few exceptions but again the typical commentator raises doubt about our efforts. Let’s get this straight: we’ve gone beyond the need to neutralize Saddam’s threat to ourselves and our allies – we’ve undertaken an extremely ambitious task of nation-building. There should be no doubt about our generosity. If there are doubts it should be about the Iraqi people: are they worthy of our efforts?

January’s election, as I noted long ago, is a sign of hope. And the Iraqi people welcome our help. Currently, Iraq has been invaded by a foreign force – jihadists from through out the Arab world led by a Jordanian, al Zarqawi, who just today has “declared war against Shi’ites in all of Iraq” (from Reuters.) Clearly he has lost hope of winning the hearts and minds of the vast majority of Iraqis. The Sunni Muslims, who boycotted the last election, are urging registration for the next election on the constitution – a sign that they have resigned themselves to the process to some degree. It’s hard to know how much progress will be made, but it is up to the Iraqi people in the end.

There is, however, one area of self-doubt that is warranted. The war will never be lost over there. The performance of our troops is awe inspiring. It is over here, at home, that I worry about. Can the American people and our media match that spirit by supporting them to the fullest? I believe most of us can. But the efforts of some in key positions in the media, the churches, the universities, and political partisans are a cause for concern.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I Remember It That Way

Robert Kagan recalls Clinton’s policy on Iraq before it was called the Bush policy. It was fairly unanimous back then. McQ remembers this as well and comments on Kagan’s article. Given that there are men and women in the battle field as a result of the policies these people designed, promoted, and helped implement, would it behoove them to act in an appropriate manner mindful of the fact that there’s a war going on?

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Other Islam

Richard Holbrooke, former ambassador to the U.N. under a previous President, believes we need to understand the enemy. He says, “Unless people know whom we are fighting, it will be virtually impossible to win the war of ideas that is such a key part of this struggle.” It is more than a war on terror, he notes. But what does he suggest? Sit down for this one:
How about making it simple and specific: something like "the war against Osama bin laden and his followers"? And then create an all-out, no-holds-barred campaign to expose, ridicule, and destroy everything he and his ilk stand for - murder, horror, intolerance, disrespect for human life, and a false view of Islam.
The false view? In the same issue of the New York Sun, Mark Steyn remarks:
Only a tiny minority of Muslims want to be suicide bombers and only a slightly larger minority want actively to provide support networks for suicide bombers, but big majorities of Muslims support almost all the terrorists, strategic goals: for example, according to a recent poll, over 60% of British Muslims want to live under sharia in the United Kingdom. That's a "moderate" westernized Muslim: he wants stoning for adultery to be introduced in Liverpool, but he's a "moderate" because it's not such a priority that he's prepared to fly a plane into a skyscraper. [italics mine]
It appears that most Muslims share this false view, at least in such isolated backwater places like … England! Perhaps someone might give us a hint about the “true view” of Islam so that we may tell the Muslims who are clearly confused.

We, of course, should be open to an accurate description of the doctrinal differences between different types of Islam. More sophisticated commentators will describe the Islam of bin Laden as part of the Salafi tradition of Islam. Salafi basically means original Islam. Often, this is described as the Islam of Muhammad and the first four Rightly Guided Caliphs. The logical question that arises is that if Salafi Islam is the Islam of Muhammad what is the other Islam?

No doubt, the implication is that Salafi is only a literal following of the Koran and Hadith ... similar to that found in Londonistan (hat tip Gandalf.)

Islam's Threat to Europe

Tony Blankley, in the Washington Times, likens the threat of Islamists to the rise of Nazism. He warns of the prospect of Eurabia and demise of Western Civilization in Europe. While he fails to understand Radical Islam as a bona fide tradition in Islam’s history, he gets what’s important: the gravity of today’s threat. Blankley is a frequent speaker on television; this is a bold statement for a mainstream conservative reporter.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Let's Not Forget

On the fourth anniversary of the Islamist attack on civilization, I find it hard to begin to gather all that I think and feel. Others do better than I on occasions like these. Cao’s Blog is a case in point. Some say it in poems. Or here. Some use a single picture (or this one.) Some use unique means (hat tip 6th column) to show their respect. So, I'll rely on my friends.

Let’s never forget.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

A whole book on ...

It sounds like one hell-of-a book. Of course, it does describe hell on earth. What am I talking about? Andrew Bostom’s book on the 1400 year history of jihad. Here’s a short review and here’s a long one. I tend to focus more on the ideology than an in-depth and comprehensive study of the history. This is definitely a book I’d want to read to fill-in some of the gaps on Islamic history. I’d appreciate suggestions of other books on Arab & Islamic history.

Update: another review and the author's website.
Update II: and another review.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Clinton, Bush, and Beyond

David Horowitz reviews Clinton’s failure to address the Islamic threat and Arab terrorism. He notes:

The PLO had created the first terrorist training camps, invented suicide bombings and been the chief propaganda machine behind the idea that terrorist armies were really missionaries for “social justice.” Yet, among foreign leaders Arafat was Clinton’s most frequent White House guest. Far from treating Arafat as an enemy of civilized order and an international pariah, the Clinton Administration was busily cultivating him as a “partner for peace.”
As I recently pointed out, Bush at first didn’t change this policy. Only after Sharon brought back evidence from Arafat’s compound, did the administration change its stance.

With regard to the terrorist threat, Clinton, however, had eight years in office and the threat was clear from the ’93 WTC attack.

Six Palestinian and Egyptian conspirators responsible for the attack were tried in civil courts and got life sentences like common criminals, but its mastermind escaped. He was identified as Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, an Iraqi intelligence agent. This was a clear indication to authorities that the atrocity was no mere criminal event, and that it involved more than individual terrorists; it involved hostile terrorist states.
Still, the idea that terrorism wasn’t just the result of a criminal organization but the tip of the Islamic iceberg was unimaginable to the Clinton administration given the PC atmosphere that discouraged further inquiry. The current administration now holds that there is an ideological movement but they are unclear about the exact nature of that ideology. To some degree this is to be expected in the early stages of a conflict. However, confusion and hesitation are now mainly due to the PC atmosphere and the all-religions-are-good philosophy. As a consequence we indiscriminately search the unlikeliest suspects, continue to allow entry from Islamic countries, and fail to secure our borders.

However, the administration has succeeded in coordinating a vigilant intelligence campaign that has prevented several terrorist attacks at home. It has broken down the walls between intelligence units and encouraged them to monitor Islamic organization, which was forbidden during past administrations. Has it done more than slow down the terrorist machine?

No doubt the administration is hesitant to take actions it knows will invoke a backlash from the left. The recent hysteria over Gitmo is a case in point. The left has giving notice that it intends to oppose stronger actions to fight Islamism. Nevertheless, there are those on the right that are getting impatient with the hesitation of the President. I mentioned before Michael Ledeen. Here are a few more: a b c (hat tip Tracinski.)

With all due respect to the President, I believe it is time to demand more. However, the focus should be in identifying the next Presidential candidate. This is an opportunity for candidates of either party to outline and debate a tough policy. The election of 1960 revolved around charges that the other candidate was “soft on communism.” The 2008 election can revolve around the question: who would be tough on the Islamic threat to civilization?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Wheeler on Jihadism

Jack Wheeler’s interview on FrontPageMag reiterates many of the important points and has a few surprises as well. Here’s a sample:

“We need to go on the moral offensive. The moral currency of Islam is debased. It is infected with a moral virus that has rendered it a morally inferior religion. It no longer deserves our respect and if Moslems want our respect back they must earn it by disinfecting their religion of moral poison.

We also need to target Saudi Wahhabism as the financial locus of world Jihadism. This means shutting down by whatever methods necessary Saudi funding of Wahhabi mosques, madressahs, and terrorist training centers all over the world (80% of all mosques in the US, for example, are Wahhabi). …

And of course a necessary condition for winning this war is regime change in Iran. As my friend Michael Ledeen says, peace in Iraq requires regime change in Iran. ...

It is completely unimportant that Jihadists or their Moslem sympathizers and apologists “understand” us. What is important is that they be afraid of us. That they have a conviction that if they attack us we will hunt them down and kill them dead. That they know we are the folks that obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Dresden with no regrets and we will do the same to Mecca and Medina if necessary. That we have nothing but contempt for them and they have no hope of defeating us.

The problem is that Jihadism is hard-wired into Islam’s founding document, the Koran – and so is anything else you want. The Koran is the most incoherent religious text ever put down on paper. That’s because it is not a book – it is a chant. It is not meant to be pondered and thought about. It is not meant to be read at all. It is meant to be chanted in a language – Classical Arabic – un-understood by most of the world’s Moslems as is Latin by almost all Christians, in order to put believers into an unthinking, unreflective trance. The Koran was composed haphazardly at the end of the seventh century (two to three generations after Mohammed supposedly lived), as was the entire religion of Islam, to provide a religious rationale for the Arab Conquest and the continued rule of Arabs over conquered non-Arabs.”

There’s much more. What I like about the whole article is his lack of appeasement. He’s not concerned about winning their hearts. There’s no groveling in Jack’s approach. As to his specifics – you decide. But his approach is clear: we need a deterrent and this comes from the willingness to respond with force – not to liberate your enemy but to annihilate your enemy. And if your deterrent is believable, you won’t have to use it. That alone won’t tell us what the right deterrent is; and whether you accept Jack’s example in the article is another matter. But the principle makes sense. Appeasement never works in the long run.

Our willingness to fight and not run - in Afghanistan and Iraq - helps establish that deterrent. But there are many aspects of our policy that show we haven't abandoned our appeasement stance: funding Palestinian terrorist via corrupt West Bank leaders, failing to engage in a propaganda war against Islam, apologizing to our enemies for less than admirable behavior of a few errand members of the military, and continuing business as usual with Saudi Arabia.

There are many steps to take to increase the perception that we are serious without going to war or in addition to the actions we’ve taken so far. And we can do this without reaching for the ultimate tool in our arsenal. Still, I won’t argue against tough talk. My point is that it won’t be believable if we contradict it with every other action that still reeks of appeasement.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Most Conservatives are in Denial

Those of us on the right often focus on left’s politically-correct self-induced blindness when it comes to Islam. One year ago, I wrote how the right also has a problem when it comes to facing the Islamic threat. Some of this is a spill over from the general PC atmosphere but there is also an ecumenical notion, among the intelligentsia on the right, that a religion can’t be bad. Thus, conservatives are soft on Islam as the left had been soft on communism decades ago.

Let’s remember how conservatives used to talk in the heyday of the Cold War:
George H. Nash, in his definitive history of American conservatism, captures the conservative anti-communist resolve. “In this struggle, there were, according to [Frank S.] Meyer and other conservative cold warriors only two choices: ‘the destruction of Communism or the destruction of the United States and of Western civilization.’” 9 “Liberals might prefer to hope – serenely, pathetically, endlessly, futilely – that maybe now, maybe this time, maybe soon, the Communists would change their spots, cease to be committed revolutionaries, and settle down. Perhaps we could then have peaceful coexistence at last. Meanwhile let us negotiate, “build bridges,’ engage in cultural exchanges, climb to the summit. Come let us reason together.” “The Communist system is a conflict system; its ideology is an ideology of conflict and war …” says Robert Strausz-Hupe 10 Frank S. Meyer argued, the Communist “’is different. He thinks differently.’ He is not ‘a mirror image of ourselves’ Communism is a ‘secular and messianic quasi-religion’ which ceaselessly conditions its converts until they become new men totally dedicated to one mission: ‘the conquest of the world for Communism.’” Gerhart Niemeyer writes, “It was totally unrealistic to expect that Americans could ’communicate’ with a Communist mind that ‘shares neither truth nor logic nor morality with the rest of mankind.’”
The conservative movement rightfully emphasized a respect for tradition but raised it to a fundamental beyond the principles that make our tradition great. Indeed, taking the view of Russell Kirk, they were skeptical of abstract principles themselves. Edmund Burke was a chief influence on traditional conservatives:
One of America’s most eminent traditionalist conservatives, the late Robert Nisbet, writes: “Rarely in the history of thought has a body of ideas been as closely dependent upon a single man and a single event as modern conservatism is upon Edmund Burke and his fiery reaction to the French Revolution.” 17 … Tradition for Burke wasn’t merely the British tradition. Burke was truly multicultural in his respect for traditions. He fought on the side of the “historical tradition of a people” in England and throughout the British Empire. His supported “a sufficient autonomy for natural development of American potentialities” and the American desire for a distinctive governing ethos. But he didn’t stop there. “The same held for Ireland and India, in each case an indigenous morality under attack by a foreign one.” He believed in the collective wisdom of the historical process imbedded in the customs and traditions of a people. And he defended Hindu and Muslim traditions within
India. 18
In many cases there is an explicit hostility towards reason on the traditional right that attacks Continental Rationalism and Hobbsian materialism as a proxy for reason in general. This ignores the Hellenic rationalism and naturalism which provide a richer and centered description of human nature. While this focus may have had some relevancy when fighting communism, it failed to reaffirm our philosophical Greco-Roman secular heritage. It’s influence – particularly that of Aristotle – is profound. The importance of taking stock of one’s achievements, distinctive character, and fundamental differences is vital when facing a vicious propaganda war from the enemy and, even worse, from the 5th column within. Conservatives have to do better than “Islamists are a bit extreme but they’ll snap out of it.”
If conservatives are to fight this war effectively, they must do what we all must do: face this enemy’s nature and our superiority. We need to know what we are fighting for as well as what we are fighting against. … We all need to realize that we face with an enemy driven by a pure religion - undiluted with Hellenic rationalism and Aristotlean eudaimonism. This is not a religion that shows any capacity to restrict its focus to individual salvation as a personnel private matter – it is, from its inception, a political religious ideology. This is not a religion that has been reformed by the rebirth of the classical worldview; it rejected that path long ago.

But this is the path we took. From Aquinas through the Renaissance and up until the mid-19th century, classical Greek or Latin was a part of a well-educated person’s course of study with which he entered the rich world of classical literature, art and science. Conservatives have to do more than pay occasion lip service to this heritage if we are to fight the Islamic barbarians effectively. This is what makes us different from them. Upon this foundation, stands the Anglo-American tradition of individual rights – a tradition that rejoices in the pursuit of happiness and well being. This is not a country of suffering, denial, and renunciation. This is not a martyrdom nation bent on holy war for the glory of Allah – whatever name you may give Him. Our nation was founded by absolutists who were certain of the rights inherent in human nature and expressed themselves eloquently in conceptual terms – not mere sentiment. Moral clarity comes from conceptual clarity. Conservative sentiment won’t do the job this time.
I often wonder if the fall of communism has left both left and right in denial of the power of ideology. Let’s remember that over 110 million people died as the result of communism before they shook it off. And given the ability to acquire nuclear weapons, failing to face the nature of the ideology of Islam is criminal negligence. Conservative intellectuals have to "snap out of it" and get serious about this war. We have to wake-up our own and not just remain complacent that we aren’t as absurd as the far left. Let’s hold the bar higher – much higher.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Marx and Mohammad - Soul Mates.

Jack Wheeler argues that Marx and Mohammed have more in common than you’d think. For example, Wheeler notes:
Thus both Marx and Mohammed are advocates of apocalyptic totalitarianism. For both, “nothing is private,” as in Lenin’s famous dictum. The state, whether under the Communist “dictatorship of the proletariat” or Islamic Shari’a law, has the moral right and duty to control every aspect of an individual’s life.
Similarities include the idea of peace (we rule, you submit), totalitarianism (all private matters are the state's concern), violence as a means to power (ends justify means), and class division (proletariat vs. bourgeois and believers vs. infidels). And this is just for starters. The rest is in Jack’s article which requires a subscription. It’s a thought provoking read.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The MSM on Katrina

I found the Mainstream Media’s (MSM) reporting on Katrina to be a numbing bombardment of worn clichés. Of course, it isn’t surprising to find knee-jerk partisan swipes, collective guilt, something about Kyoto, and the inevitable playing of the race card. Without knowing the details (which I don’t have either) there are no shortage of experts who “just know.”

Almost all of the coverage of those trapped in New Orleans shows anger and belligerence. It’s presented in a manner to suggest that you too would be driven by despair to steal a plasma TV. More than one scene showed boastful looters (“look at what you’ve driven me to”) shamelessly demanding a timely delivery of entitlements (“too little, too late, try again”) with the media’s constant implicit motif: you too would be doing this. Do you see yourself in any of these pictures?

The odd thing is that it took until Friday night at 10:15 until I saw the untold story. Perhaps, I missed it before but I doubt it. On ABC’s 20/20 they showed how most people evacuated to other areas and were greeted with overwhelming support by extended family members or the kindness of strangers. I didn’t see any reports of a caravan of cars, 200 miles north of New Orleans, clustered at some point with people starving and demanding someone come and feed them. Americans are overwhelmingly generous and eager to help out in an emergency.

Aside from that moment, I’ve found most of the interesting comments on my list of bloggers that you’ll find on the column to the right. To single out one, consider Rancher (Llano Estacado). I like his approach – original commentary not found on the Mainstream Media.

Finally, let me say that I too wish to extend my sympathies to those who’ve been affected and displaced by this natural disaster. The vast majority is holding up well under the circumstance and will face tough challenges in the coming months.

Update: You might also want to consider Robert Tracinski's article.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Saudis Fund Islamist Terror

Following up on our expose of Saudi Arabia as the fountainhead of Islamism and our recommendation for a change in policy, please consider today’s article on Saudi funding of terrorism on the Sixth Column blogspot.

Let’s remember that we provide Saudi Arabia with its defense – it exists by our grace.