Why admiring the Muslim world won't stop the bloodshed.
The recent attack in Texas against a “draw Mohammed” event ended up with two dead jihadis and widespread criticism of event organizer Pamela Geller for “inciting” or “provoking” the assault on our First Amendment right to free speech. The hypocrisies and ignorance behind such criticism have been amply documented, including by some on the left. But there’s another argument against actions and events like Geller’s that needs dismantling. This is the received wisdom that we should avoid criticizing Islamic doctrine or Mohammed because it will alienate moderate Muslims who otherwise would help us against the so-called “extremist” jihadists.
Geraldo Rivera on Fox News invoked this rationale in his hysterical attack on Geller for “spewing her hatred and making us all look like the intolerant jerks they are saying we are in the Middle East and elsewhere.” In other words, most Muslims dislike the jihadis, who have “hijacked” and “distorted” their faith, and want to support our efforts against them. But they are put off by our “insults” of Mohammed and our “intolerance” of the wonderful “religion of peace,” all of which serve to “recruit” new jihadists. Even Bill O’Reilly and Laura Ingraham skirted this notion, advising against making any image of Mohammed, and thus in effect ratifying the legitimacy of the shari’a law against any representation of Mohammed, good or bad.
Consistent with this notion that flattery and respect can change Muslim behavior, many in the foreign policy establishment, including conservatives, have for decades counseled flattering “outreach” to Muslims as a tactic in winning the “hearts and minds” of the supposed large majority of Muslims angry at the jihadists’ “distortions” of their faith. Even before 9/11, Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, called Islam “a faith that honors consultation, cherishes peace, and has as one of its fundamental principles the inherent equality of all who embrace it.” Even after 9/11 confirmed Islam’s traditional theologized violence and intolerance, George Bush claimed in his first address after 9/11 that Islam’s “teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah.” In 2005, administration officials encouraged this tactic of false flattery as a way “to support the courageous Muslims who are speaking the truth about their proud religion and history, and seizing it back from those who would hijack it for evil ends.”
Of course Obama, who has serially groveled before Muslims and praised Islam, has continued this sorry practice. After his administration blamed the Benghazi murders on an obscure Internet video, he lectured that “the future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam.” The 2 gunmen in Garland Texas obviously agreed. His quondam Secretary of State and now presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is on record extolling Islam’s “deepest yearning of all––to live in peace.” How is that going in Nigeria, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan? Worse of all, training materials used by our military and security services have excised any mention of jihad, which Western infidels have redefined as “a quest to find one’s faith in an external fight for justice,” as the New York Times put it in 2008. So Obama identifies the 13 slaughtered at Fort Hood to the traditional jihadist cry of “Allahu Akbar” as victims of “workplace violence.” Never mind the Koranic command to “slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush”––exactly what various jihadi outfits are doing today across the Middle East, and tried to do in Garland Texas.
Two decades of such flattery and admiration have failed to prevent nearly 26,000 violent jihadist attacks since 9/11, for they are based on Western bad ideas rather than on an accurate understanding of Islamic doctrine and the Muslim mentality. Behind our delusions is the peculiarly arrogant assumption that traditionalist Muslims––by which I mean those who take seriously the doctrines and precepts of their faith has practiced for 14 centuries––do not have their own motives and aims, but can only react to our bad behavior. Besotted by our own materialist superstitions and failure to take religion seriously, we reduce jihadist behavior to material and psychological causes: wounded self-esteem, resentment of “colonial” and “imperial” crimes, disrespect of Islam, or the lack of jobs, political freedom, or even sexual access to women.
Thus despite consistent polling data showing widespread Muslim support of illiberal shari’a law and its draconian penalties like death for blasphemy, we won’t accept that millions of Muslims actually believe what the Koran, Hadith, and 14 centuries of jurisprudence teach about the superiority of Islam and their right to use violence in order to bring the whole world under the sway of the superior social, economic, and political order that shari’a represents. In the guise of “respecting” Muslims, then, we patronize them as little more than children who can only “act out” violently in the face of injustice instead of “using their words.” Having reduced our own faith to holidays and comforting slogans, we simply can’t believe that Islam endorses violence and cruelty in the name of Allah, or that otherwise loving and kind people, as bin Laden was said to have been by all who knew him, can at the same time slaughter and brutalize innocents in pursuit of spiritual aims. No, either they are “crazy” or “evil,” or they are traumatized by our bad behavior.
This dubious pop-psychological assumption is usually accompanied by a catalogue of the historical crimes against Muslims perpetrated by the West, from the Crusades to the wars against the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. These depredations, so the story goes, also fuel anger and resentment, and help to incentivize otherwise peaceful Muslims into turning jihadist. But this narrative is belied by the facts of history. For what history tells us is that the record of Muslim conquest, occupation, colonizing, slaving, raiding, and killing of Christians far surpasses the alleged crimes of the West against Islam. We recently marked the centenary of the Ottoman genocide against the Christian Armenians, Assyrians, and Chaldeans, a crime being duplicated today by ISIS in northern Iraq. Recently our historically challenged president whined about the Crusades and the Inquisition, with nary a word about the centuries of Muslim invasion, occupation, colonization, and brutal suppression in Christian Spain, Sicily, the Balkans, and Greece.
Or what about the 1066 pogrom in Granada, the alleged paradise of “pan-confessional humanism,” as an ignorant Wall Street Journal editorial claimed a few years back. Those tolerant, humanist Muslims slaughtered 5000 Jews, equaling the toll of dead during the whole existence of the Inquisition. But can anyone name one Muslim religious leader in the Middle East who has publicly and consistently apologized in Obama fashion for these 14 centuries of slaughter? Who has justified our defensive wars in the region as an understandable reaction to that history? Who has chastised Muslims for destroying and desecrating churches, and blamed them for inviting violent reactions? Muslim Turkey won’t even own up to its copiously documented slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians. If anyone has a historical grievance that justifies payback, it is Christians and Jews.
Finally, if Western insults and crimes against Muslims are really the reason jihadists want to kill us, why do they let Russia off the hook? No Christian power has killed more Muslims or occupied more Muslim lands than has Russia, from the siege of Izmail in 1790, when 40,000 Muslim men, women, and children were slaughtered, to the invasion of Afghanistan, which killed a million, to the brutal wars against Muslim Chechnyans, which killed at least 100,000. Or how about the 10 million Muslim Uighurs oppressed by China and forbidden to fully practice their faith? Is Russia or China the “Great Satan”? Are they the constant targets of jihadist attack and thundering denunciations by the mullahs of Iran? Are “moderate” Muslims “alienated” by their behavior and rushing to join the jihad against them?
The obvious answer is no, for the simple reason that Russia and China are contemptuous of such juvenile psychological blackmail, pursue their national interests without regard for criticism by the “Muslim community,” and respond with brutal force to violent attacks. Meanwhile the U.S. has rescued millions of Muslims in the Balkans, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan from brutal dictators, ethnic cleansing, and psychotic autocrats, yet is deemed “Islamophobic” because we exercise our Constitutional rights in our own country. Worse yet, we grovel and apologize and demonize those like Pamela Geller who practice their right to free expression at a private function, and we vainly believe despite all evidence that if we just act nice to Muslims and join them in demonizing their critics, they’ll ignore their spiritual beliefs, the traditions of their faith, and the model of Mohammed and his credo to “fight all men until they say there is no god but Allah.”
To paraphrase Cicero and Orwell, there are some things so stupid that only rich, arrogant Westerners will believe them. If we let this president continue to predicate his dealings with Iran on this same delusional belief in the power of flattering engagement and “mutual respect,” we will soon find out the high cost of this stupidity.
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