The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Too BIg to Criticize

Over the years since 9/11, I have repeatedly warned that the Western idea of holding Islam blameless for Islamist terror groups and the carnage they deliver does an injustice to the hundreds of millions of peaceful Muslims, and much more importantly, guarantees that the West's fight against the scourge of Islamic terror will be lost. In yesterday's post, I quoted a recent tweet by Democratic president candidate Hillary Clinton: "Let’s be clear: Islam is not our adversary. Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism."

"Nothing whatsoever" — seriously? If Clinton seriously believes this, she is delusional. If she's simply parroting politically correct language, she's even more dishonest than I already believe her to be.

Hillary's defenders on the Left often argue that there's nothing to be gained in confronting Islam—after all, they say, "Muslims represent 1.6 billion people. Do you want to go to war with 1.6 million people?" Of course, the "go to war" meme is a straw man—no responsible person is suggesting a full-scale religious war.

Let's consider a loose analogy. Progressives deride Wall Street and the notion that banks or investment houses are "too big to fail." They (correctly) fume when government bails out a major bank or investment banking firm after that bank or firm does something unsavory. But it appears that progressives do believe that Islam is too big to criticize. As if the 1.6 billion number somehow insulates Islam from criticism and from taking responsibility for the actions of a non-trivial number of its adherents based on the words contained in its holy books. Any criticism of Islam is met with PC outrage following by loaded words like "Islamophobia" or "racism" or "xenophobia." That is nonsense, of course, but it's nonsense that is parroted by the left's trained hamsters in the media, until it becomes conventional wisdom. It's also only fair to state that it's nonsense that is repeated in a dramatically toned down fashion by some leaders of the GOP.

In a surprisingly frank discussion of Islam and it's culpability for Islamic terror, Nabeel Qureshi writes in USA Today (certainly not a right wing publication):
As a young Muslim boy growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, it was impossible for me to look up a hadith unless I traveled to an Islamic library, something I would have never thought to do. For all intents and purposes, if I wanted to know about the traditions of Muhammad, I had to ask imams or elders in my tradition of Islam. That is no longer the case today. Just as radical Islamists may spread their message far and wide online, so, too, the Internet has made the traditions of Muhammad readily available for whoever wishes to look them up, even in English. When everyday Muslims investigate the Quran and hadith for themselves, bypassing centuries of tradition and their imams’ interpretations, they are confronted with the reality of violent jihad in the very foundations of their faith.

The Quran itself reveals a trajectory of jihad reflected in the almost 23 years of Muhammad’s prophetic career. As I demonstrate carefully in my book, Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward, starting with peaceful teachings and proclamations of monotheism, Muhammad's message featured violence with increasing intensity, culminating in surah 9, chronologically the last major chapter of the Quran, and its most expansively violent teaching. Throughout history, Muslim theologians have understood and taught this progression, that the message of the Quran culminates in its ninth chapter.

Surah 9 is a command to disavow all treaties with polytheists and to subjugate Jews and Christians (9.29) so that Islam may “prevail over all religions” (9.33). It is fair to wonder whether any non-Muslims in the world are immune from being attacked, subdued or assimilated under this command. Muslims must fight, according to this final chapter of the Quran, and if they do not, then their faith is called into question and they are counted among the hypocrites (9.44-45). If they do fight, they are promised one of two rewards, either spoils of war or heaven through martyrdom. Allah has made a bargain with the mujahid who obeys: Kill or be killed in battle, and paradise awaits (9.111).

Muslim thought leaders agree that the Quran promotes such violence. Maajid Nawaz, co-founder of the Quilliam Foundation in the United Kingdom, has said, “We Muslims must admit there are challenging Koranic passages that require reinterpretation today. ... Only by rejecting vacuous literalism are we able to condemn, in principle, ISIS-style slavery, beheading, lashing, amputation; other medieval practices forever (all of which are in the Quran). … Reformers either win, and get religion-neutral politics, or lose, and get ISIL-style theocracy.” In other words, Muslims must depart from the literal reading of the Quran in order to create a jihad-free Islamic world.

This is not at all to say that most Muslims are violent. The vast majority of Muslims do not live their lives based on chapter 9 of the Quran or on the books of jihad in the hadith. My point is not to question the faith of such Muslims nor to imply that radical Muslims are the true Muslims. Rather, I simply want to make clear that while ISIL may lure youth through a variety of methods, it radicalizes them primarily by urging them to follow the literal teachings of the Quran and the hadith, interpreted consistently and in light of the violent trajectory of early Islam. As long as the Islamic world focuses on its foundational texts, we will continue to see violent jihadi movements.
Progressives and the Left would have us believe that none of this matters, that's it's all of the things (e.g., poverty, poor education, joblessness, gang violence and lack of societal integration) I noted in yesterday's post and nothing more. Like most beliefs espoused by the Left, that's a dangerous fantasy.

For the West to prevail against terror, Islam's adherents (all 1.6 billion of them) must take responsibility for their religion and the ideology it espouses. Islam MUST reject Surah 9 as an anachronistic view, it MUST reject violence and condemn any Muslim who practices it as an apostate, it MUST reform. But before that can happen all 1.6 billion Muslims must be called out by Western leaders and Western societies so that they have no misunderstanding of our position. Their religion must change and they, not us, must be the agents of that change. If the 1.6 billion refuse to act, refuse to change, that tells us much more than any tweet by Hillary Clinton.