Vox Voxplains Radical Islam As No Threat To Americans Or The West

Photo U.S. Department of Defense / Public Domain

The Federalist, by  Megan G. Oprea, May 12, 2017:

Will Wilkinson at Vox wants to warn us about the strange men influencing President Trump’s White House and pushing for the Muslim ban. But instead of settling for a reasonable critique of their beliefs—and there is certainly much to criticize—he opts for a full-throated insistence that there are no reasonable arguments to be made that radical Islam poses any threat to the United States or Western civilization.

Wilkinson begins by attacking the idea that there’s going to be an all-out war with Islam. Here, he focuses on Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart executive and Trump’s advisor, who has said, “We’re in a world war against a messianic mass movement of evil people, most of them inspired by a totalitarian ideology: Radical Islam.” I won’t defend Bannon’s views, because I don’t agree with many, but I will point out the confused assertions Wilkinson makes, showing his limited knowledge not only of Islam but of international affairs.

Wilkinson compares the military budgets and economic strengths of the United States and its NATO allies with those of the nine top-spending Muslim-majority countries, pointing out that the West has the obvious advantage. He’s right that radical Islam can’t really pose a threat to the United States or its NATO allies in military capacity to conduct traditional warfare. Then again, no one is really arguing that point.

Wilkinson goes on to dismiss Iran as a threat by simply saying it “spends less on its military than Canada.” Never mind the danger Iran poses throughout the Middle East, most specifically to our ally Israel, and the questionable status of its nuclear program. He also argues that Pakistan, the only Muslim nuclear power, is of no concern because we’re allies.

Yes, Lots of Muslims Support Hostile and Radical Policies

Finally, he acknowledges that “this is an exceedingly silly exercise. It shows only that even if the entire Muslim world were hostile to the United States, and unified in that hostility, it would not pose much of a threat. But how many radical anti-US Muslims are there? Not many. Again, the vast majority of the world’s 1.7 billion Muslims live in countries with which the US is friendly.”

He’s right that it’s a silly exercise. One of the reasons it’s silly is because he conflates the official position of a Muslim country’s government toward the United States with the number of “radical anti-US Muslims” in that country. Wilkinson apparently thinks that because Pakistan is officially a U.S. ally, its population must not adhere to a fundamentally anti-liberal interpretation of Islam, and the number of Pakistanis who do have those beliefs must be inconsequential.

In fact, vast numbers of Pakistanis inside and outside their government do have radical beliefs about Islam, which certainly made a difference in sheltering Osama bin Laden for ten years.

Wilkinson can barely bring himself to acknowledge that “Muslims in countries in which Islam is already recognized as the official religion do tend to support the integration of sharia into their countries’ legal codes.” In the Pew study he cites, this “tendency” is overwhelming in the largest Muslim-majority countries. He can’t come to terms with this because he doesn’t understand that in most of the Muslim world, although certainly not all, the integration of government and religion isn’t radical. It’s simply what Islam calls for, because Islam is a fundamentally political religion.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t alternative interpretations of Islam that reject that notion. There certainly are, especially among Muslims living in the West. But they aren’t even close to the majority in the Muslim world.

So why should we care whether Muslims outside the West want Sharia law or ascribe to fundamentalist views if it’s not an “existential threat,” as Wilkinson points out? We should care when it involves human rights, like equality for women and the LGBT community, or when it threatens our allies, like Israel, or promotes instability in a region, like in Syria and Iraq, or when it means sheltering terrorists who are plotting attacks against America. We should care, for example, when Jakarta’s Christian governor is imprisoned for insulting the Quran.

All Who Notice Radical Islam Are Not Steve Bannon

Wilkinson sets up a straw-man argument in which Bannon supposedly represents anyone who argues that there are real and threatening trends in the Muslim world that could not only affect Western liberal values but threaten the growth of peace, equality, and democracy around the world. Since Bannon is such an easy target, and has many oversized, sometimes hysterical, opinions about Islam, it’s easy to knock him down.

Although Wilkinson does acknowledge the existence of al-Qaeda and ISIS, he argues that “from the perspective of empirically grounded risk assessment, this barely ranks as a minor threat to American or Western life and limb. The threat to European or American civilization is zilch.” Again, another handy conflation, this time between the risk of a wholesale military defeat and the wearing away at the Western values of freedom, democracy, and the separation of church and state.

Here, Wilkinson shifts gear to attack the proposition that there’s a threat from “stealth jihad,” what he calls an intellectual “retreat” for those bested by his arguments against the all-out war theory.

A key assumption of stealth jihad propaganda is that something like ISIS’s fundamentalist vision of Islam — the medieval elements, the torture, the beheadings, the obsession with building a caliphate — is indeed the genuine article. On this view, Islam is essentially committed to the imposition of religious law, or sharia, on believers and nonbelievers alike.

In their heart of hearts, therefore, all Muslims are committed to replacing secular political authority with Islamic religious law. This makes Islam an inherently seditious doctrine impossible to square with loyalty to a secular liberal-democratic regime.

First, most of the people who are worried about stealth jihad are not concerned that we are going to begin seeing torture and beheadings in the West. As for the concept of building a caliphate and the implementation of Islamic law, as noted earlier Wilkinson is apparently unaware of some very basic concepts within Islam, not to mention beliefs held by the majority of Muslims around the world. But let’s just look at Muslims in the West.

There Is Good Data on Western Muslims, Lots of It Scary

Wilkinson claims that “There’s no good data on Muslim support for the incorporation of sharia into the official law of Western liberal democracies, because it’s irrelevant. Muslims are very small minorities throughout Europe and North America.” Offering only the example of German Muslims of Turkish descent as proof of how un-radical Muslims living in Western countries are, he points out that only 12 percent of Turks want to replace German law with Islamic law.

What he fails to note is that young Muslims in Western countries tend to hold far more radical views than the older generation does. A BBC poll from 2007 found that 36 percent of Muslims in the United Kingdom aged 16 to 24 think Muslims should be killed if they convert to another religion. Seventy-four percent think women should wear a veil. Eighty percent of young Turks in the Netherlands don’t think it’s wrong to commit jihad against a non-believer.

If there is no problem with integration, and if so few Muslims in the West believe in sharia, jihad, or any other number of fundamentalist values, then why is it that after the Bataclan massacre in Paris, it took police months to find the prime suspect because he was being hidden and sheltered in the largely Muslim Molenbeek neighborhood in Belgium?

Wilkinson thinks it’s crazy to believe that Muslims “seek to replace secular, democratic government with sharia,” but he’s willing to grant it to make the point that, even so, there are so few Muslims in the West that it doesn’t matter. “The means by which such tiny minorities could assert control in strong states dominated by other religions and robust liberal norms remains utterly mysterious.” Yet we’ve seen both here in the United States and in Europe the extent to which the Left bends over backward to accommodate Muslim communities and push back against any criticism of them whatsoever.

Whenever the topic of women’s rights in the Muslim world is brought up, there’s always a backlash from the Left, which prefers its multiculturalism to its feminism. Or take the Rotherham sex abuse scandal, in which city officials didn’t pursue evidence of a child sex ring because the perpetrators were of Pakistani origin and they were afraid of being accused of Islamophobia. Or the fact that whenever there’s a terrorist attack in the West perpetrated by a Muslim, there’s a stampede to insist it has nothing to do with Islam, despite the avowal of the attacker himself.

These efforts are significantly supported by Islamist organizations in the United States like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has taken upon itself to be the spokesman for American Muslims, pushing out more moderate voices, and which has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, a terrorist organization. It would seem, contra Wilkinson, that fundamentalist interpretations of Islam do, indeed, have a strong influence in the West, despite being a small minority.

The Truth Is, the Muslim World Is Largely Illiberal

Unlike Wilkinson, I am not interested in making radical and absolutist claims. I don’t think we’re at war with Islam; I don’t think we’re about to see beheadings codified into law; and I don’t anticipate an imminent global battle between Western countries and Muslim countries.

I do, however, think that the Muslim world, while home to many kind and charitable people, is also largely illiberal—and that in itself is a problem that we should care about. The majority of Muslims in the West, especially in the United States, tend to be a self-selecting group of people open to moderate interpretations of Islam, which is one reason they have settled in the West to begin with.

But they are not all like that, and their voice is not as weak as Wilkinson would have us believe. What is most worrisome is the increasing de facto censorship of any criticism of Islam, even in its most extremist manifestations. That, not roving bands of machete-wielding mujahedeen, is what threatens Western civilization and liberal values.

Wilkinson concludes with an obtuse declaration that “In the real world…the idea that anything at all about the West could be threatened by ‘stealth jihad’ is either an expression of studied ignorance or a form of malicious religious intolerance.” His reductive argument would have been infinitely stronger had he understood the issue not as black and white, as a choice between believing the armies of Islam are marching on the West or denying there’s any reason for concern.

But Wilkinson made no real effort to persuade, which is why he’ll fail to convince anyone who doesn’t already agree with him. Then again, maybe his purpose was not to persuade, but merely to signal his own virtue.

Megan G. Oprea is editor of the foreign policy newsletter INBOUND. She holds a PhD in French linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin. You can follow her on Twitter here.

Supporting Deep Democracy

1896925188An otherwise worthy criticism of Obama’s Muslim-World foreign policy misses a crucial point.

BY CounterJihad · @CounterjihadUS | April 20, 2016

Alex Rowell, a British-born journalist with substantial experience in the Middle East, has penned what is overall an excellent criticism of US President Barack Obama’s foreign policy in the Muslim world.  His basic thesis, which is correct, is that Obama’s tenure has empowered autocrats instead of democrats across the Middle East.  In violation of what he claimed were his basic principles, Obama has stood by while more than a million have been killed in Syria.  He stood by while Iran’s hardliners suppressed their democratic opponents, within two weeks of Obama’s famous Cairo address promising support to democrats in the Muslim world.  His Iraq policy and his State Department actively empowered then Prime Minister Maliki to act as a “Shi’a strongman,” which they decided Iraq needed.  This, along with his inaction in Syria, enabled the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) and the loss of the hard-fought peace in Iraq he inherited from the American military’s sacrifices in the Surge.

Where Rowell goes wrong is in assuming that failing to support a democratically-popular policy or leader of the moment is the same as failing to support democracy.  To be durable, a democracy has to balance a permanent constitutional system against the passing desires of the majority.  Such a constitutional system can be called “deep democracy.”  The danger facing it in the Islamic world is often the danger expressed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who compared democracy to a train.  You get off, he said, once you have reached your destination.

Erdogan may at the moment be able to withstand a democratic election, but supporting him is not being a friend to democracy.  His government has suppressed academics and free inquiry, committed war crimes against his own population, and is devoutly Islamist.  That he won an election does not make him a democrat.  To support democracy in Turkey, one has to support the deep democracy:  the defense of basic rights and values that make a lasting democracy possible.

By the same token, Rowell criticizes the Obama administration for failing to continue to back the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt once it had suspended the Egyptian constitution.  In fact, the error was ever to support a movement that is founded on the principle of overthrowing democratic states and instituting a form of government that bans democratically-enacted laws as blasphemous.  A deep devotion to democracy is incompatible with such a view.  That they might win an election does not make them democrats.

There is much to criticize in the Obama administration’s approach to foreign policy in the Muslim world.  Much of what Rowell says is fair and accurate, and his piece is well worth reading.  However, readers should take this caveat:  to defend democracy, more is necessary than to defend whoever happened to win the last election.  Democracy is only sustainable within a constitutional system that protects the beliefs and basic rights that make democracy possible.  The enemies of such systems are the permanent enemies of democracy, even if they win today at the ballot box.

Authentic Muslim Moderate Cleric: ISIS Is Following Established Islamic Jurisprudence – You Can’t Have Democracy and Sharia

 

NRO, By Andrew C. McCarthy:

If you want to understand the challenge Western liberalism faces from Islamic supremacism, take six minutes to watch this extraordinary interview of Ayad Jamal al-Din, a Shiite cleric, Iraqi intellectual, and former member of the Iraqi parliament who campaigns for a democratic Iraq that separates mosque and state. Mr. al-Din was in Washington for the October 17 interview by al-Iraqiya TV in Iraq, and the interview with English subtitles (which I’ve reproduced as a transcript below) was publicized on Monday by the invaluable MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute).

While President Obama, Secretary of State Kerry, and Prime Minister Cameron absurdly contend that the Islamic State, or ISIS, is not Islamic, al-Din – an authentic moderate Muslim who regards the Islamic State as the enemy – patiently explains that the jihadist organization adheres to a firmly established interpretation of Islam that is based on sharia and fiqh (jurisprudence).

I have repeatedly argued that classical, mainstream sharia is repressive, discriminatory, and anti-democratic, and thus that it was self-defeating for the United States to sponsor new constitutions in Iraq and Afghanistan that attempted to meld Western democratic principles with sharia (see here, here, and here). It is especially gratifying to hear a passionate, articulate explanation of the incompatibility of Western democracy and Islamic jurisprudence from someone who reveres the former, is steeped in the latter, and understands the stakes.

Moreover, for those of us who frequently point out that mosques – which Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna described as the “axis” of his ideological movement in every city and town – are often centers for jihadist incitement, recruitment, training and fundraising, it is refreshing to hear someone intimately familiar with this phenomenon explain that there are mosques throughout the world directly and indirectly championing the Islamic State by glorifying jihad and the caliphate.

Our national security will not be well served until the United States government ends its futile search for “moderate Islamists” and realizes our allies in the Muslim community are the real moderates, meaning pro-Western democrats who reject the imposition of sharia on civil society. Supporting our enemies only undermines our friends.

Here is the transcript

When Democracy and Multi-Culturalism Collide

An Interview with Ibn Warraq on his book “Why the West is Best”

With all that has been written recently on the progressive/Islamist assault on Western Civilization I thought it would be good to re-post this.

ibn_warraq (1)By Jamie Glazov On December 16, 2011:

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Ibn Warraq, an Islamic scholar and a leading figure in Qur’anic criticism. He is a Senior Research Fellow at the Westminster Institute, VA. He has addressed distinguished governing bodies all over the world, including the United Nations in Geneva, and Members of the Dutch Parliament, at The Hague.

In 2007, Mr. Warraq completed a critical study of the thought of Edward Said, Defending the West. Paul Berman, author of Terror and Liberalism, described the book as “a glorious work of scholarship, and it is going to contribute mightily to modernizing the way we think about Western civilization and the rest of the world”.

Mr. Warraq was goaded into writing his first book, Why I am Not a Muslim (1995), when he felt personally threatened by the infamous fatwa pronounced on Salman Rushdie for his book that satirized Islam, its founder Muhammad, and his family. He felt that only a ferocious polemic against Islam as a totalitarian system would wake up Western intellectuals to the dangers that the Iranian theocratic regime posed to our own freedoms in the West. Since this passionate attack on Islam, Mr. Warraq has edited, with long introductions, a series of more scholarly works on the origins of the Koran, and the rise of Islam, works such as The Origins of the Koran, 1998,  The Quest for the Historical Muhammad, 2000, What the Koran Really Says, 2002, and the recent Which Koran?,2011.

images-39Ibn Warraq’s new book, Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate’s Defense of Liberal Democracy (Encounter Books, December 2011) carries on the defense of the West started in Defending the West. He defines, describes, and defends Western values, strengths and freedoms far too often taken for granted. This book also tackles the taboo subjects of racism in Asian culture, Arab slavery, and Islamic Imperialism. It begins with a homage to New York City, as a metaphor for all we hold dear in Western culture — pluralism, individualism, freedom of expression and thought, the complete freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness unhampered by totalitarian regimes, and theocratic doctrines.

FP: Ibn Warraq, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Let’s start with this question:

What does this book do that is unprecedented?

Warraq: First, thank you for inviting me to Front Page; it has been a while since we talked.

I do not think there are many books on the market that are unashamedly pro-Western, defending, without apologies, Western values, and talk without reserve of the superiority of Western Civilization, and which take on such taboo subjects as Asian racism, Arab anti-Semitism, Islamic Imperialism, the role of Islam and the Arabs in the Slave Trade, the complicity of Black Africans in the enslavement, and later selling of fellow Africans to Arabs, Persians, Indians and Europeans. There also cannot be any books on the market that defend Western Civilization that begin with a walk down Tin Pan Alley in New York City.

FP: What qualities of Western societies make them superior to those societies that have not adopted Western values?

Warraq: The self-evident superiority of the West stems from certain principles inherited, and further developed and refined over two millennia, from Athens, Rome and Jerusalem. We can, perhaps, subsume these principles under the abstract terms rationalism, universalism, and self-criticism, and then unfurl them in the following more substantial manner. Under rationalism, one would include the notions of truth, objective knowledge, and intellectual curiosity. Under universalism, I would include the idea of the unity of mankind, openness to “the Other” (an unfortunate phrase borrowed from recent anti-Western polemics), other ideas, other customs, other people; and finally under self-criticism the willingness to submit all of the West’s traditions to rational scrutiny. Under curiosity, I include all those examples of disinterested study. Other great ideas of the West which further help define its character and explain its success are: the separation of church and state, the rule of law, equality before the law, freedom of conscience and expression, human rights — in short, liberty and individual dignity which must never be sacrificed for some spurious collective, totalitarian goal.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: this triptych succinctly defines the attractiveness and superiority of Western civilization. In the West we are free to think what we want, to read what we want, to practice our religion, to live as we choose. Liberty is codified in human rights, a magnificent Western creation but also, I believe, a universal good. Human rights transcend local or ethnocentric values, conferring equal dignity and value on all humanity regardless of sex, ethnicity, sexual preference, or religion. At the same time, it is in the West that human rights are most respected. It is the West that has liberated women, racial minorities, religious minorities, and gays and lesbians, recognizing and defending their rights. The notions of freedom and human rights were present at the dawn of Western civilization, as ideals at least, but have gradually come to fruition through supreme acts of self-criticism. Because of its exceptional capacity for self-criticism, the West took the initiative in abolishing slavery; the calls for abolition did not resonate even in black Africa, where rival African tribes took black prisoners to be sold as slaves in the West.

Today, many non-Western cultures follow customs and practices that are clear violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). In many countries, especially Islamic ones, you are not free to read what you want. Under Sharia, or Islamic law, women are not free to marry whom they wish, and their rights of inheritance are circumscribed. Sharia, derived from the Koran and the practice and sayings of Muhammad, prescribes barbaric punishments such as stoning to death for adultery. It calls for homosexuals and apostates to be executed. In Saudi Arabia, among other countries, Muslims are not free to convert to Christianity, and Christians are not free to practice their faith. The Koran is not a rights-respecting document.

FP: What in your mind are the greatest achievements of the West?

Warraq: Not only is the West so successful economically, but it leads the world scientifically, and culturally (one only has to look at the list of Nobel Prize winners in science, and literature to gauge the overwhelming triumph of the West in these domains; or at the influence of the Western arts on the rest of the world- both High Culture and Popular entertainment, from Classical music to cinema).

The great ideas of the West—rationalism, self-criticism, the disinterested search for truth, the separation of church and state, the rule of law, equality before the law, freedom of conscience, thought, and expression, human rights, and liberal democracy- quite an achievement, surely, for any civilization-—remain the best, and perhaps the only, means for all people, no matter of what race or creed, to reach their full potential and live in freedom.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: defines succinctly the attractiveness and superiority of Western civilization. We are free, in the West, to choose; we have real choice to pursue our own desires; we are free to set the goals and contents of our own lives; the West is made up of individuals who are free to decide what meaning to give to their lives-in short the glory of the West is that life is an open book,[1] while under Islam, life is a closed book, everything has been decided for you: God and the Holy Law set limits on the possible agenda of your life. In many non-Western countries especially Islamic ones, we are not free to read what we want; in Saudi Arabia, Muslims are not free to convert to Christianity, and Christians are not free to practice their faith — all clear violations of article 18 of the Universal Declaration.

This desire for knowledge, no matter where it leads, inherited from the Greeks, has led to another institution that is unequalled-or very rarely equaled- outside the West: the University. Here the outside world recognizes this superiority; it comes to the West to learn not only about the sciences developed in the West in the last five hundred years — in all departments of Physics, Biology and Chemistry — but also of their own culture. They come to the West to learn of the Eastern civilizations and languages. Easterners come to Oxford, Cambridge, or Harvard and Yale, the Sorbonne or Heidelberg to receive their doctorates, because they confer prestige unrivalled by similar doctorates from Third World countries.

A culture that gave the world the spiritual creations of the Classical Music of Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner and Schubert, the paintings of Michelangelo, and Raphael, Da Vinci and Rembrandt, does not need lessons from societies whose idea of spirituality is a heaven peopled with female virgins for the use of men, whose idea of heaven resembles a cosmic brothel. The West has given the world the symphony, and the novel.

To paraphrase Alan Kors[2], instead of the rigid, inhuman caste system of India, we have unparalleled social mobility in the West. Western society is a society of ever richer, more varied, more productive, more self-defined, and more satisfying lives; it is a society of boundless private charity; it is a society that broke, on behalf of merit, the seemingly eternal chains of station by birth. The West has given us the liberal miracle of individual rights, individual responsibility, merit, and human satisfaction.

FP: How do you define the West in your book?

Warraq: I define the West through its values of liberty, and rationalism, and then look at their historical origins. The origins of the modern West are often seen in the Enlightenment of the seventeenth and eighteenth century, but the roots of the Enlightenment can be found in habits of mind cultivated in Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem, and the institutions that grew from them. The Greeks gave us the city and the notion of citizenship, the ideals of democracy and liberty, rationalism and science, philosophy and history. The Romans systematized the law, defined private property, and emphasized individual responsibility. Judeo-Christianity added a sense of conscience and charity, tempering justice with forgiveness, and the concept of linear rather than cyclical time, which allowed the possibility of progress. The Middle Ages brought a deeper synthesis of Athens and Rome with Jerusalem, laying the foundations for the scientific revolution, the industrial revolution, the Enlightenment, and pluralistic liberal democracy.

FP: How is New York City a metaphor for the greatness of the West?

Warraq: In New York, I show the principles of the United States Constitution being applied in a real, vibrant place. I give the term “Western civilization” a physical context in the very concrete of the city. The details of New York’s streets and structures create a believable, breathing image of Western civilization, just as Dickens created believable, breathing characters. See this building, I say—it’s an example of beautiful architecture, one of the glories of New York, and as integral to Western civilization as the works of Shakespeare. See that building—it’s the New York Public Library. Inside the Beaux Arts masterpiece is an institution that embodies key aspects of Western civilization: philanthropy, education, the love of knowledge, the preservation of all the best that has been written and published. Each time you admire the façade of the New York Public Library, you are paying homage to Western civilization. Each time you consult a book in the magnificent Main Reading Room, you are participating in the maintenance of Western civilization. By working and living in New York, you are breathing Western civilization, continuously reminded of its benefits and its values.

Describing a New York street that became known as Tin Pan Alley and the area known as Broadway led me into the Great American Songbook, created by composers and lyricists who were born and lived and worked in that great city. Discussions of Western civilization are too often confined to works of high art that reflect a relatively narrow element of public taste and experience. I maintain that Western popular culture at its best is worthy of respect and should be cherished as much as the operas of Wagner. The work of composers like George Gershwin, born and bred in New York, embodies Western ideals over and above the aesthetic principles of the music itself. I could have written at length about various artists associated with the metropolis—Fred Astaire, P. G. Wodehouse, George Kaufman, the Marx Brothers (born in the Yorkville section of the Upper East Side)—and their contributions to Western popular culture, with creations that are witty, graceful, inspired, and at times touched with genius.

New York, like life, is its own excuse. Nonetheless, no other city in the West—or indeed, in the world—so well exemplifies the inexhaustible possibilities of a modern metropolis, where the inven­tive and enterprising put into practice the many freedoms guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. The implausible, well-nigh-miraculous functioning anarchy that we know as New York is adorned with every excellence of Western art. It is a city of manifold suggestions, which ministers to every ambition, engenders a thousand talents, nurtures ingenuity and experimentation.

FP: What changed within Western societies that allowed them to so dramatically outperform other societies over the past 500 years, when that wasn’t the case beforehand?

Warraq: What has made the West successful economically while so many countries in other parts of the world fail to provide adequate food and shelter for their citizens?  The short answer is the Scientific Revolution of the Seventeenth Century, and the Industrial Revolution of the Eighteenth Century, both depended on European Culture, Economic and Political Freedom, that is the institutions and habits of mind developed over two millennia.

Thus we can no longer defend the notion that Western prosperity is founded on the exploitation of poor people in the Third World. The rich countries are rich because of their practices at home, and because of their readiness to adopt and adapt new things, such as Chinese inventions or New World crops. Jared Diamond concluded that the “proximate factors” in Europe’s ascendance were “its development of a merchant class, capitalism, and patent protec­tion for inventions, its failure to develop absolute despots and crushing taxation, and its Greco-Judeo-Christian tradition of empirical inquiry.” Ironically, given Diamond’s otherwise anti-Western animus, some readers disparaged this view as ethnocentric, or as “utterly conventional Eurocentric history,” in James M. Blaut’s words. But Diamond, in fact, was pointing to some key ingredients of Western success; and behind those proximate factors were culture, ideas, and attitudes.

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Sharia is totally incompatible with Western liberal democracy and with human rights in general, because it is a totalitarian con­struct designed to control every aspect of the life of Muslims and even non-Muslims. It discriminates against women in many ways: their testimony in court is worth half of a man’s testimony (Surah II.282); they inherit half what men do (IV.11); they may be beaten by men (IV.34); they may not marry non-Muslims (II.221). Sharia pre­scribes amputation of hands for theft (V.38), crucifixion for spreading disorder (V.33), stoning to death for adultery (Reliance of the Traveler, p. 610), execution of homosexuals and apostates (XXVI.165–66; Reliance, pp. 109 and 665). In other words, Muslims want to rein­troduce practices that we in the West long ago deemed barbaric.

Moreover, Islamic law is considered infallible and immutable. In contrast to the fixed edicts of Sharia, Western law is bound up with the realities of human life and conflict. It allows the flexibility of making new law to accommodate changing circumstances, within a framework of fundamental principles. The Western constitutions and systems of law are magnificent creations; are we really prepared to jettison them in the name of multiculturalism and globalization?

Most troubling are the efforts to enforce Islamic laws against “blasphemy” throughout the world. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation is taking steps toward outlawing “defamation of reli­gion” (i.e. Islam) worldwide, and these efforts have, in effect, been abetted by Western governments under the guise of suppressing “hate speech.” As Islamic countries consolidate their hold on the UN Human Rights Council and demand national laws to suppress criticism of Islam, how long will it be before Western legislation for­bids research into the origins of the Koran or early Islamic history?

FP: Why does the Left in the West not stand up against Sharia? And why do you think the West has lost all self-confidence in its own values and is unable and unwilling to defend its own civilization?

Warraq: I think these two questions, and their answers, are related. One of the reasons why Westerners feel so shy about defending Western civilization was well-described by James Burnham, “When the Western liberal’s feeing of guilt and his associated feeling of moral vulnerability before the sorrows and demands of the wretched become obsessive, he often develops a generalized hatred of Western civilization and his own country as a part of the West….The guilt of the liberal is insatiable. He deserves, by his own judgment, to be kicked, slapped and spat on for his infinite crimes”

First there has been the influence of intellectuals and academics who have undermined the confidence of the West in its own values and strengths. For more than sixty years schools and universities in the West have inculcated three generations of the young with moral relativism leaving them incapable of passing moral or cross-cultural judgments, and unwilling to defend those values. Post-modernism and multiculturalism have completed the destruction of the West’s self-assurance.

Another reason was the intellectual terrorism of left-wing ideologues such as Edward Said, and his highly influential book, Orientalism, that bludgeoned Western intellectuals into silence. Post–World War II Western intellectuals and leftists were consumed by guilt for the West’s colonial past and continuing colonialist present, and they wholeheartedly embraced any theory or ideology that voiced or at least seemed to voice the putatively thwarted aspirations of the peoples of the third world. Orientalism came at the precise time when anti-Western rhetoric was at its most shrill and was already being taught at Western universities, and when third-worldism was at its most popular. Jean-Paul Sartre preached that all white men were complicit in the exploitation of the third world, and that violence against Westerners was a legitimate means for colonized men to re-acquire their manhood. Said went further: “It is therefore correct that every European, in what he could say about the Orient, was consequently a racist, an imperialist, and almost totally ethnocentric” (p. 204). Not only, for Said, is every European a racist, but he must necessarily be so.

As I have argued, Western civilization has been more willing to criticize itself than any other major culture. These self-administered admonishments are a far cry from Said’s savage strictures, and yet they found a new generation ready to take them to heart. Berating and blaming the West, a fashionable game in the 1960s and 1970s that impressionable youth took seriously, had the results we now see when the same generation appears unwilling to defend the West against the greatest threat that it has faced since the Nazis.

When shown that Said is indeed a fraud, his friends and supporters in academia sidestep the criticisms and evidence, and pretend, as did several reviewers of Robert Irwin’s book on Said, that Said may indeed have got the “footling details” wrong but he was, nonetheless, onto a higher truth. Said’s influence, thus, was a result of a conjunction of several intellectual and political trends: post-French Algeria and post-Vietnam tiers mondisme (third-worldism); the politicization of increasingly postmodernist English departments that had argued away the very idea of truth, objective truth; and the influence of Foucault. In effect Said played on each of these confidence tricks to create a master fraud that bound American academics and Middle East tyrants in unstated bonds of anti- American complicity.

FP: This is a toxic combination with Islam’s supreme confidence and agenda to exploit the West’s moral weakness and cultural confusion. Your comment?

Warraq: The West must wake up to the nature of the enemy. Islam is supremely confident in its values, and, of course, convinced that these values are blessed by God, and it is the God-given duty of every Muslim to spread Islam, until it covers the entire world. This is not right-wing paranoia of Western extremists but self-confessed principles everywhere openly proclaimed by the Muslims themselves. Only the Left refuses to recognize it, and is scandalously complicit in helping Islam take over the Western world. It is no less than civilizational suicide. It is perhaps already too late as, on December 13, 2011, the White House invited the OIC within its doors to plan how best to destroy the West from within.

Read more at Front Page

 

Democracy and Egypt: A “Brotherhood of Cains”

by Salim Mansur:

Both the good and bad about democracy are inseparable from what people think about it, or their experience with it, their cultural predisposition when they go about demanding it be given to them, or how they practice it.

The recent spate of commentary in media about the troubles in Egypt illustrates how widespread is the confusion among the “commentariat” class in the West witnessing the “breakdown” of democracy when an elected president was unceremoniously removed by the military.

There was a near unanimous disapproval and condemnation by Western commentators of the military in Egypt for the action it took in deposing Mohammad Morsi from power merely one year into his term in office. The indignant disapproval across political lines seemed to be an expression of disbelief on how the sanctity of democracy was so seriously breached by men in uniform. Democracy, without being qualified, has arisen to a near-sacred status, a sort of secular religion into which is invested all our best hopes — and the thought that while unbelievers may question this belief, they must not be allowed to undermine it by their actions.

As Irving Babbitt (1865-1933) wrote in Democracy and Leadership, published in 1924, “In our recent crusade to make the world safe for democracy, it was currently assumed that democracy is the same as liberty and the opposite of imperialism.” Ninety years later, the surprise is how relevant he remains in illuminating the confusion surrounding American efforts since 9/11 to help bring democracy into the Middle East.

Babbitt, in reference to the problem of democracy in the Arab-Muslim world, is a rewarding critic of the romanticism that has become embedded in the idea of even illiberal democracy, and how this romanticism helps to create a democracy that is mercurial, ill-tempered, unstable and contrary to what most people think when the subject of democracy is brought up.

Babbitt, a literary critic and political philosopher at Harvard, studied at Sorbonne in Paris, and as a realist was opposed to any form of romanticism such as utopianism, transcendentalism, radicalism, or revolution-for-the-sake-of-revolution against the moderation and order that have characterized conservatism in politics.

Babbitt was an admirer of Burke and a fierce critic of Rousseau. Since at least the end of the Cold War, in thinking of democracy as a panacea for all our political and social ills, we seem, at our peril, to have forgotten both of these philosophers. Instead, we have come to romanticize the idea of democracy — but without making distinctions — as the magic key that holds the answer to all the problems of the conflict-ridden politics so prevalent among Arabs and Muslims at present time.

 

Irving Babbitt (L), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (C), and Edmund Burke (R).

There also seems to be a confusion that surrounds the idea of democracy. As set forth by C.B. Macpherson, a Canadian political theorist, in his pamphlet, The Real World of Democracy, “There is a good deal of muddle about democracy.” He then goes on to explain how for most of history, since the first experiment in democracy in ancient Greece, the idea of democracy was looked upon as a bad idea: “That was the position taken by pretty nearly all men of intelligence, from the earliest historical times down to about a hundred years ago. Then, within fifty years, democracy became a good thing. Its full acceptance into the ranks of respectability was apparent by the time of the First World War, a war which the Western allied leaders could proclaim was fought to make the world safe for democracy.”

Read more at Gatestone Institute

 

Morsi Constitution Modification will Sabotage Pro-Democracy Efforts

20121213_morsi_yelling_-_LARGEby ASHRAF RAMELAH:

Adly Mansour, Egypt’s Interim President, has chosen to begin Egypt’s conversion to democracy by reinstating and modifying ousted President Morsi’s controversial 2012 Islamic Shariah constitution. Finalized just five months ago and widely rejected by Egyptians (more than 70 percent) but somehow approved through a referendum vote, this dream-come-true for Islamists was the leading cause of Morsi’s overthrow.

Remember as well that a historic verdict by Egypt’s judiciary dismissed the constitutional assembly working on the 2012 constitution draft because the assembly was dominated by Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi mainly interested in a religious agenda.

This time around, there is no debate that Egypt must have a new constitution before elections are held. This is a good sign. However, using Morsi’s constitution indicates that religionists and possibly terrorists are already at the table. Compromises at this level to please Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Salafis, and jihadists show a disregard of the commitment to honor the Egyptian goals of liberty, equality, and human rights.

Building on a foundation of religious bias, sex discrimination and denigration of human rights is a rejection of liberty and equality and obstructs democracy

The 2012 constitution is based upon the supremacy of Egypt’s majority religion and its penetrating influence of the daily life and livelihood of citizens. Religious mandates by clerics turned into civil law and enforced by the police negate freedom and individual rights, the basic precepts of democracy. So why start with Morsi’s constitution?

Repeating SCAF’s same mistake

The miraculous second chance Egypt has now to do it right means that leaders right now must abstain from doing what SCAF did after the overthrow of Mubarak. SCAF listened to Islamist factions; some, like the Muslim Brotherhood, covering up their real views with democratic slogans, and some, like Salafi, directing anti-democratic religionist concepts to become part of the democratic process.

Please do not burden us, Mr. Mansour, with any wasteful pursuits brought about by compromises with political-religious factions. This particular task is above religious politics. Egyptians have suffered immeasurably to create this path for democracy in Egypt. Egyptian citizens are not power-seekers like those who seek to adulterate freedom’s first principles in the construction of a democratic constitution.

Best for no faiths to take part — no religious representatives in Egypt’s new constitutional assembly for a fresh start

Egyptian Interim President Adly Mansour would be wise to start from scratch the process of writing a democratic constitution bringing together pro-democracy Tamarud representatives and others interested in realizing the objectives of their freedom-seeking goals without adverse influences.

The religious in Egypt will be equally free to worship once a secular constitution with democratic freedoms is put in place. This should happen as soon as possible.

Read more: Family Security Matters