The question of Pipes, again
A correspondent asked me, “Why bother bashing Pipes?”
It would be as though there were an invading army, and the front ranks of this army were engaged in slaughter and rapine, and the rear ranks were quietly setting up permanent enemy rule, and Pipes said, “The front ranks are radical and bad and must be opposed. The rear ranks are moderate, peaceful and good, and we can deal with them.”But perhaps my above answer does not really address the objection. Considering how Pipes, perhaps more than anyone else in the country, puts himself on the front line in the battle against radical Islamic groups, am I not being unfair and unreasonable toward him? Isn’t it understandable that, in order to maintain his mainstream viability and get his important message out to the public, he needs to insist that he is not opposed to Islam as such, but only to “radical” Islam?
My view is that Pipes, by pushing his “moderate Islam is good” message so strongly, actually undermines his anti-radical Islam message, since his combination of the two messages is not, as he seems to imagine, an elegant and effective synthesis, but an incoherent mishmash that only confuses and disarms our side.
To cover himself from the charge that he is an anti-Muslim bigot, it would be sufficient for Pipes to make occasional statements that he is not opposing all Muslims. It is not necessary for him to go to the extreme of pushing a wholly false and dangerous view of the supposedly benign nature of historical Islam. The latter is not tactful camouflage; it is apologetics for the enemy.