Peter’s edifying contribution to the Islam debate

Ralph Peters is a militant, pro-war-on-terror liberal who takes the standard view that Islamic extremism is a twisted offshoot of Islam and has nothing to do with the wonderful religion of Islam itself. In today’s New York Post, he strikes back at those who, like myself, think that what we call Islamic extremism is basically the same Islam that has existed for 1,400 years. At first, I thought that at least someone on the other side is noticing that there is a disagreement on this important issue and is engaging with it. Instead, Peters launches into an unhinged attack on the Islam critics, whom he describes as Nazis, genocidal bigots, promoters of “The Protocols of the Elders of Mecca,” and (the title of the article), “Islam-haters: an enemy within.” Peters leaves no liberal anti-hate cliché unspoken; he even says that Islam critics are people with personal problems who are taking out their discontents on Muslims.

The last time Peters unleashed this much hatred in the name of anti-hatred was in one of his hate-Europe columns where he gleefully wrote that “we Americans can sit back and … pass the popcorn” as the Europeans “get a few more teeth knocked out.” Yes, in Peters’s universe, to assert that jihad and sharia are intrinsic to Islam is not to make a statement about the world that is either true or not true; it is to be a Nazi-like bigot who wishes for the death of all Muslims. Meanwhile, to pour venom on Europe and wish for its ruin is perfectly ok, and to label as a Nazi-like bigot everyone who disagrees with you on an important public issue is perfectly ok.

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Peters’s column is so amazing I’m copying the whole thing below.



September 7, 2006—ISLAMIST fanatics attacked us and yearn to destroy us. The Muslim civilization of the Middle East has failed comprehensively and will continue to generate violence. The only way to deal with faith-poisoned terrorists is to kill them.

And the world’s only hope for long-term peace is for moderate Muslims—by far the majority around the globe—to recapture their own faith.

But a rotten core of American extremists is out to make it harder for them.

The most repugnant trend in the American shouting match that passes for a debate on the struggle with Islamist terrorism isn’t the irresponsible nonsense on the left—destructive though that is. The really ugly “domestic insurgency” is among right-wing extremists bent on discrediting honorable conservatism.

How? By insisting that Islam can never reform, that the violent conquest and subjugation of unbelievers is the faith’s primary agenda—and, when you read between the lines, that all Muslims are evil and subhuman.

I’ve received no end of e-mails and letters seeking to “enlighten” me about the insidious nature of Islam. Convinced that I’m naive because I defend American Muslims and refuse to “see” that Islam is 100 percent evil, the writers warn that I’m a foolish “dhimmi,” blind to the conspiratorial nature of Islam.

Web sites list no end of extracts from historical documents and Islamic jurisprudence “proving” that holy war against Christians and Jews is the alpha and omega of the Muslim faith. The message between the lines: Muslims are Untermenschen.

We’ve been here before, folks. Bigotry is bigotry—even when disguised as patriotism. And, invariably, the haters fantasizing about a merciless Crusade never bothered to serve in our military (Hey, guys, there’s still time to join. Lay your backsides on the line—and send your kids!).

It’s time for our own fanatics to look in the mirror. Hard. (And stop sending me your trash. I’ll never sign up for your “Protocols of the Elders of Mecca.” You’re just the Ku Klux Klan with higher-thread-count sheets.)

As for the books and Web sites listing all those passages encouraging violence against the infidel, well, we could fill entire libraries with bloody-minded texts from the Christian past. And as a believing Christian, I must acknowledge that there’s nothing in the Koran as merciless as God’s behavior in the Book of Joshua.

Another trait common among those warning us that Islam is innately evil is that few have spent any time in the Muslim world. Well, I have. While the Middle East leaves me ever more despairing of its future, elsewhere, from Senegal to Sulawesi, from Delhi to Dearborn, I’ve seen no end of vibrant, humane, hopeful currents in the Muslim faith.

I’m no Pollyanna. I’m all for killing terrorists, rather than taking them prisoner. I know we’re in a fight for our civilization. But the fight is with the fanatics—a minority of a minority—not with those who simply worship differently than those of us who grew up with the Little Brown Church in the Vale.

Does Islam foster practices that inhibit progress or integration into the modern (and postmodern) world? Yes, as practiced in the greater Middle East, from the Nile to the Indus. Our “allies,” the Saudi ruling family, are the embodiment of evil—but they’ve done far more damage to the Muslim world than to us.

Elsewhere, Muslims are struggling to move their faith forward in constructive ways. And all religions are what living men and women make of them.

In our own country, we should respect our fellow citizens who happen to be Muslims—instead of implying that they’re all members of a devious fifth column. More than 3 million Americans profess Islam. How many have strapped on bombs and walked into Wal-Mart?

Sure, bad actors will emerge. But every immigrant group has produced its gangsters, demagogues and common criminals. Fools who insist that “Muslims can’t be good Americans” insult both Muslims and America—whose transformative genius should never be underestimated.

The problem isn’t the man or woman of faith, but cultural environment. Once free of the maladies of the Middle East, Muslims thrive in America. Like the rest of us.

We are in a knife-fight to the death with fanatics who’ve perverted a great religion. But those who warn of Muslims in general are heirs of the creeps who once told us Jews can never be real Americans and JFK will serve the Vatican.

Obviously, there’s a moral reason for not condemning all Muslims. Real Americans judge men and women by their individual characters and actions, not by the color of their skin or the liturgy they recite on their respective Sabbaths. Sorry, all you bigots: You’ll never get the Wannsee Conference, Part II, at Lake Tahoe.

But even for our inveterate haters, those whose personal disappointments have left them with a need to blame others (sounds like al Qaeda to me … ), there’s a Realpolitik reason not to insult all Muslims: In the serious world of strategy and the military, you don’t make unnecessary enemies.

We’ve got our hands full in the Middle East. Why alienate the Muslims of Indonesia or West Africa (or California)? A wise strategist seeks to divide his enemies, not to recruit for them. Some of the bigots out there might like to try to kill a billion Muslims, but I’m not signing up for their genocidal daydreams—nor will my fellow Americans.

Ultimately, our military actions can only buy time. The long overdue liberal reformation within the Islamic world can only be carried out by Muslims themselves. Those who believe in Islam with all their hearts will have to be the ones who defeat those who hijacked their faith.

Do we have to fight? Yes. But let’s fight our true enemies, not the innocent.

[Discussion on the Peters column continues here.]

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 07, 2006 11:50 AM | Send

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