Frontpage, by Danusha V. Goska, Dec. 22, 2015:
On December 2, 2015, two Muslim terrorists massacred fourteen Americans at a Christmas party in San Bernardino, California. On December 6, President Obama delivered an Oval Office address. In it, he said, “We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam … It is the responsibility of all Americans to reject discrimination.” Many listeners were disappointed that Obama focused so much passion on lecturing Americans.
Media reported that hostility against Muslims increased after the San Bernardino attack. Public figures including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, filmmaker Michael Moore, and Wheaton college professorLarycia Hawkins insisted that Muslims must be protected against the bigotry, stereotyping, and violence of non-Muslim Americans.
President Obama, Zuckerberg, Moore, and Hawkins are acting on their own bigotry. In hostility and ignorance, they stereotype all Americans (except Muslims, of course) as an inherently ignorant lynch mob. That’s not who we Americans are. If Americans had been hearing from their leaders what they need to hear – a passionate defense of Western Civilization and a ringing condemnation of jihad – average Americans would not feel that they themselves must take on both rhetorical tasks. Americans, as YouTube curmudgeon Pat Condell pointed out, are trying to fill a leadership vacuum and to speak and hear unspoken truths.
It is a demonstrable historical fact that Americans have traditionally not held hatred toward or stereotypes of Muslims. A hundred years ago, if Americans thought of Muslims at all, they associated Muslims with romance. Maud Hull’s 1919 softcore novel The Sheik was a blockbuster bestseller. Superstar Rudolph Valentino made two Sheik films, in 1921 and 1926. They were record-breaking international hits.
It is primarily terrorists and Islam-apologists, people like Obama, Zuckerberg, Moore and Hawkins, who are in fact responsible for the current tension. Politically Correct speech codes suppress and demonize necessary conversations about Islam. Priests and rabbis, presidents and judges, journalists and college professors – the very people whose job it is to wield words to address matters of public import – are complicit. These cultural leaders are all covering their own posteriors, timidly mincing words so that no stray syllable can be used against them. Americans are frustrated and outraged at this absence of frank speech.
It is exactly because of this suppression of speech on a matter of life-and-death importance that some Americans have been pushed over the edge and are letting their fears and frustrations get the better of them. Some are using hateful neologisms that previously did not exist in the English language: “sand n – – – – -,” “raghead,” “koranimal,” “Mudslime.” Some are joking about nuking Mecca. Some say they hate all Muslims. Some act on that hate.
Clear and frank speech on Islam will alleviate, not exacerbate, anti-Muslim hostility and help, not hurt, Muslims. Such speech could ease tensions and educate and reassure the populace. Effective counter-jihad activists recognize the following two truths:
1.) Islam poses challenges to world civilization that are posed by no other belief system.
2.) Hating and stereotyping all Muslims is not only not helpful, hatred and stereotyping of all Muslims actually undermines counter-jihad.
Below you’ll find my story, four reasons why hate and stereotyping are counter-productive, and eight statements by counter-jihad activists who all agree: we must fearlessly address the challenges Islam presents. We must be victorious. And we must point out why hate and stereotyping undermine our cause.
I was born, grew up in, and currently live in Passaic County, NJ, home of one of the US’s largest Muslim populations.
I have had Muslim friends, bosses, landlords, doctors, coworkers, and students. I have not encountered more or less intelligence, kindness, honesty, violence, humor, or generosity among Muslims than I have in any other population.
When I was sick and needed a ride to the hospital, a Muslim drove me. Later, as I slept, she quietly entered my apartment, left food, flowers, and a heating pad, and retreated silently. When there was a problem with my prescription or my tire, it was a Muslim pharmacist, and a Muslim mechanic, who saved the day. Such encounters are part of day-to-day life in New Jersey.
While working in the Central African Republic, I traveled over night with Muslim men in a truck caravan across uninhabited jungle. I was the only Westerner, the only woman. They treated me well. In Turkey, Muslims greeted me in remote villages and in Istanbul, a cosmopolitan city. I was treated like visiting royalty.
I’ve been a guest at traditional Muslim feasts. I’ve also done very American activities with Muslim friends. I have swum at Gunnison, New Jersey’s nude beach. I’ve drunk beer and eaten lunch during Ramadan.
My Facebook friend Lucy is not from New Jersey. She has never met any Muslims. She didn’t think about Islam till September 11, 2001. When I mention my Muslim friends to Lucy, she yells and screams and types in all caps.
“Muslims are commanded not to take kuffar as friends!”
“I know,” I say. “Koran 5:51.”
“These people you talk about are not really Muslims!” Lucy insists.
I respond that we can debate semantics and accomplish nothing. I know people who identify as Muslim, who are the children of Muslim parents, whose first language is Arabic or Turkish or Urdu, who drink alcohol and eat during Ramadan and don’t pray five times a day.
“What about taqiyya?”
I respond that the Muslims I know have never heard of taqiyya, any more than most Catholics I know have ever heard of “ex cathedra” or most Americans know what the Monroe Doctrine is. For the Muslims I know, Islam is found in the kitchen, in the family room, and in the street. Islam is found in family photographs and stories of grandma and grandpa. Many Muslims I know have never read the Koran, and have at best a flimsy idea of what it contains.
“These nice Muslims are dangerous,” Lucy insists. “They provide cover for the terrorists! Their niceness gets us to lower our guard! They convince people that Islam really is a religion of peace!”
“Look,” I say. “Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch has been on the internet since 2003. If Americans are ‘fooled by nice Muslims’ they have only themselves to blame.”
Muslims vary. Some are nice. Some are jerks. Islam does not vary. Jihad and gender apartheid must be named, condemned, and defeated.
One day, back in the 1970s, I was leaving class with my friend. “Nur” was beautiful, a gentle person, and a talented artist; she used to doodle arabesques in her notebook margins. We were comparing our two religious traditions. She said “When the time for jihad comes, if you don’t accept Islam, I will have to kill you.”
I had been educated in Catholic school, where nuns encouraged me to interrogate my faith. I extended to Nur that invitation. “Just for the sake of argument, let’s imagine for a moment that there is no Allah,” I suggested.
Nur replied that she could not. She had been trained that even a moment’s doubt could lead to an eternity in Hell. Koran 49:15 says that believers are only those who do not doubt. Islam.org cites numerous verses and traditions to support condemnation of doubt.
I compared Nur’s mind-numbing and mind-imprisoning terror with the spirit of inquiry my faith had encouraged in me: to fully understand my Christian faith, I had to suspend and examine it. I thought of famous Biblical passages like John 20:24-29 and Mark 9:17-29 where Jesus does not punish, but shows compassion to doubters.
Later, in the 1980s, when I was working in Paterson, I used to hang out with a group of young, male, Arab friends and coworkers. We had hours-long debates. Some, not all of these men voiced enthusiastic support for terrorism. They said that the day was coming when jihadis would commit acts of terror in the US. They said that American culture – the culture in which they were all immersed – would topple, and Islam would replace it.
These conversations frightened and angered me. I was angry at the dominant discourse in America that made it taboo to criticize Islam.
After the September 11 terror attacks occurred, I thought, if one good thing can come of this nightmare, it will be this. America will finally speak frankly about jihad.
On September 17, 2001, less than a week after the terror attack, President George Bush, with CAIR members standing behind him, under distinctive Islamic architecture, made the demonstrably false and propagandistic statement that “Islam is peace.” His entire talk was an apologia for Islam. Bush referred to the September 11 terror attack as “the matter at hand” – rather than as the terror attack that it was. He quoted selectively from the “eloquent” Koran. He insisted that all Muslims were outraged, though we know many publicly celebrated. Bush warned against Americans harassing Muslims, as if that were the problem.
I did not encounter, in the wake of 9-11, the frank speech about jihad that America desperately needed.
America’s learning curve has been steep. In spite of PC speech codes, more and more Americans are self-educating about Islam. Some Americans are succumbing to the temptation to hate. Hate is a mistake. Here’s why:
1.) Every time a keyboard commando uses a slur or makes a threat, he is depositing capital into the grievance account maintained by CAIR, by Linda Sarsour, by academics and journalists and other victimization profiteers. Images of Muslims as victims of Western Christians are so valuable that some have staged hate crimes.
2.) Slurs and threats displace necessary facts. Schools, politicians, and churches are not educating the public about Islam. Counter-jihad activists must do this work, and we must move it from a few websites that preach to the choir into classrooms, sermons, political discourse, and mainstream media. The facts are extreme enough that they require no hateful elaboration.
3.) Americans, contrary to hateful PC stereotypes, are not a lynch mob rabble. Americans are nice, tolerant people who abhor racism. Those who speak in gutter slurs, “nuke-Mecca” memes and keyboard commando threats are not conveying the message that needs to be heard, and they are not reaching the audience that needs to hear.
4.) Your grandmother was correct. You really do catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Mosab Hassan Yousef was born to be a terrorist. He was the first son of one of the founders of Hamas. His first arrest was at age ten for throwing rocks at Israelis. In his book Son of Hamas, Yousef described “an old Coptic priest.” “He was kind and gentle and had a warm, compelling voice. I liked him … he was systematically performing an autopsy on the Koran, opening it up and exposing every bone, muscle, sinew and organ and then putting them under the microscope of truth and showing the entire book to be cancerous. Factual and historical inaccuracies, contradictions – he revealed them precisely and respectfully but firmly and with conviction.” In a 2014 interview, Yousef said, “Christianity really helped me to escape from the Islamic mindset. I still follow the idea of loving our enemies and of unconditional forgiveness.”
Nabeel Qureshi‘s parents were “immigrants from Pakistan and among the most dedicated Muslims I have ever known.” In his book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, Qureshi describes how friendships with Christians, who politely but authoritatively challenged Islam, sparked his conversion.
Below, eight counter-jihad activists offer their thoughts about confronting jihad even while rejecting hate and stereotyping. Each was interviewed one-on-one. The presence of an individual in this article does not imply his or her endorsement of ideas expressed by others quoted here.
Read more with statements from KAY WILSON, PHYLLIS CHESLER, NEIL J KRESSEL, BOSCH FAWSTIN, WAFA SULTAN, TAWFIK HAMID, BILL WARNER and JOE CAREY