Now Pipes worries about Islam’s spreading power, and says we can’t stop it
Reversing course 180 degrees from his November 29 blog entry in which he said that Islam’s problem—which we ought to worry about and find ways to fix—is its loss its historic power and confidence, Daniel Pipes in the December 27th issue of FrontPage Magazine now worries about the spreading power of Islam, or Islamism as he calls it. (He defines an Islamist as one who demands to live by sharia, i.e., any seriously committed Muslim.) Such total reversals of position are not unusual with Pipes, but routine. (And to my continuing astonishment and consternation, I remain the only writer in America ever to have pointed this out.)
Pipes goes on to say that despite the vastly greater military strength of the West, the West is weakened in its conflict with Islamism by its own pacifism, self-hatred and complacency. He grimly says, echoing an increasingly common belief today: “Only after absorbing catastrophic human and property losses will left-leaning Westerners likely overcome this triple affliction and confront the true scope of the threat.” However, Pipes continues, the Islamists could still avoid defeat by the West if instead of choosing violence they spread Islam by lawful and peaceful means:
Should Islamists get smart and avoid mass destruction, but instead stick to the lawful, political, non-violent route, and should their movement remain vital, it is difficult to see what will stop them. [Emphasis added.]This brings even me up short.
The first question that occurs is, if the Islamists can defeat us by opting for the non-violent route, why is Pipes, the best-known Islam critic in America, telling the Muslims about this?
The second question is, what makes Pipes think that there is no way to stop “peaceful” Islamism? How about the obvious expedient of stopping Islamic immigration into the West, and then removing all Islamists from the West? If there were no Islamists in the West, there would be no spreading power of Islamism in the West, right? Nope, no room for that no-brainer in Pipe’s column, or anywhere else in mainstream discourse for that matter.
Pipes was not always so circumspect. In an article in the November 2001 issue of Commentary, entitled “The Danger Within: Militant Islam in America,” Pipes included immigration among the principal means by which “peaceful Islamism” advances itself. “To me,” he wrote, “the current wave of militant Islamic violence against the United States, however dangerous, is ultimately less consequential than the non-violent effort to transform it through immigration, natural reproduction, and conversion.” Pipes concluded the article by calling for “the immediate reform of immigration procedures to prevent a further influx of visitors or residents with any hint of Islamist ideology.”
Here is the full passage:
That a significant movement in this country aspires to erode its bedrock social and legal arrangements, including the separation of church and state, and has even developed a roadmap toward that end, poses a unique dilemma, especially at this moment. Every responsible public official, and every American of good faith, is bent on drawing a broad distinction between terrorists operating in the name of Islam and ordinary Muslim “moms and dads.” It is a true and valid distinction, but it goes much too far, and if adhered to as a guideline for policy it will cripple the effort that must be undertaken to preserve our institutions.While stopping only Islamists—not all Muslims—from immigrating is an inadequate measure of national defense, it is obviously a vitally needed step. And it was only one component of an entire program Pipes proposed to prevent Islamists from peacefully gaining power in America. Yet in his current article he doesn?t suggest doing anything about Islamic or Islamist immigration, nor does he suggest doing anything else to stop the lawful and peaceful spread of Islamism. To the contrary, he says that if Islamist pursue the peaceful and lawful root, “it is difficult to see what will stop them.”
So, in November 2001, Pipes saw peaceful and lawful Islamism as a mortal threat to America, and he proposed certain measures to stop its spread. On November 29, 2006, Pipes said that the reason that Islam had become problematic to the world was its loss of its previous power and confidence, meaning that the way for Islam to cease being a problem was for it to regain its previous power and confidence. And today, December 27, 2006 (reversing what he said in November 2001), Pipes says that there is nothing we can to save ourselves from Islamism if it spreads itself by peaceful and lawful means.
Is there perhaps a consistent thought or progress of thought underlying these apparent contradictions? I think there is. Pipes wants the power and confidence of Islam to increase, and he tells the Islamists that if they spread their power peacefully and lawfully, there is no way we can stop them. To me, this suggests that Pipes has moved to a policy of accommodation and surrender.
True, by next week he will have reversed himself again, but not by much. Because there is one thread in Pipes’s ever self-contradictory writings that never changes: his devout belief in the basic goodness of Islam. Yes, he views Islamism as a threat. But now, breaking with all his past writings on the subject, he says we’re helpless against it, if it makes the right moves. His embrace of Western helplessness in the face of Islamism, combined with his desire for a return of past Islamic confidence and power, adds up in practical terms to a readiness to surrender to Islam.
NOTE: As mentioned above, the sentence, “To me, the current wave of militant Islamic violence against the United States, however dangerous, is ultimately less consequential than the non-violent effort to transform it through immigration, natural reproduction, and conversion,” was in Pipes’s November 2001 Commentary article, which I have previously quoted here. Yet in the version of the same article posted at Pipes’s website, that sentence is missing. What this means is that the generalized warning against Islamic immigration, which was in the original Commentary article, is not in Pipe’s own online version of the article. He evidently decided after initially publishing the article that he did not want to be on record criticizing Muslim immigration as such.
CORRECTION, July 27, 2008: The above NOTE is not correct. The quoted sentence did not appear in Pipes’s article in the November 2001 Commentary, but rather in his response to readers in the February 2002 Commentary. Therefore, contrary to my statement above, the sentence was not missing from the version of the Commentary article that Pipe reproduced at his website. The sentence is present in Pipes responses to his Commentary readers, copied at his website.
Instead of simply deleting my mistaken comment above, which would amount to covering up my error, I’ve left it in place, along with this correction, so that the record will be clear.
However, apart from my mistaken belief that Pipes’s strong sentence warning about Muslim immigration was in the November 2001 Commentary rather than the February 2002 Commentary, it remains the case that Pipes has never followed up on his strong February 2002 statement. To get an overview on this, let’s first look at what he said about Muslim immigration in his November 2001 article:
Practically speaking, there are two main prongs to the non-violent strategy. The first involves radically increasing the number of American Muslims, a project that on the face of it would not seem very promising. Islam, after all, is still an exotic growth in the United States, its adherents representing just 1 to 2 percent of the population and with exceedingly dim prospects of becoming anything like a majority. Islamists are not so unrealistic as to think that these numbers can be substantially altered any time soon by large-scale immigration (which is politically unfeasible and might anyway provoke a backlash) or by normal rates of reproduction. Hence they focus most of their efforts on conversion.He concluded the article by saying that we must not allows “Islamists” into the U.S., while of course, we continue to allow in all “non-Islamists”:
What such an effort would look like is a subject unto itself, but at a minimum it would have to entail the vigilant application of social and political pressure to ensure that Islam is not accorded special status of any kind in this country, the active recruitment of moderate Muslims in the fight against Islamic extremism, a keener monitoring of Muslim organizations with documented links to Islamist activity, including the support of terrorism, and the immediate reform of immigration procedures to prevent a further influx of visitors or residents with any hint of Islamist ideology. Wherever that seditious and totalitarian ideology has gained a foothold in the world, it has wrought havoc, and some societies it has brought to their knees. The preservation of our existing order can no longer be taken for granted; it needs to be fought for.But in the response to readers in the Feb. 2002 Commentary Pipes says:
Ron Unz and I see the long-term danger differently. To me, the current wave of militant Islamic violence against the United States, however dangerous, is ultimately less consequential than the non-violent effort to transform it through immigration, natural reproduction, and conversion.So, in the November article, Pipes downplayed the importance of Muslim immigration and natural reproduction and said that the mere increase of the Muslim population in the U.S. did not post a threat, or at least it could not do so for the foreseeable future. But in his February response to readers, he listed immigration and natural reproduction as first among the threats, preceding conversion. On that point there has been no follow-up. I have not seen a single statement by Pipes since February 2002 saying that the most consequential danger from Islam comes from Muslim immigration into the West and natural reproduction in the West, and that we must do something about this.
Further, even on his more restricted point, made in the original November 2001 article, that we must prevent “Islamists” from immigrating into America, if Pipes has revisited this idea since November 2001, I have not seen it, and I’ve read scores of his articles and written many blog entries about them. This doesn’t mean he has not revisited the issue, but if he has done so, it has been a very minor note in his writings.
To sum up, in the November 2001 Commentary, he said we should not admit “Islamists” into America. Since then, he has either not brought the issue up again or has done so very little. Offhand I do not remember seeing any statement by him over the last six years calling for screening out jihadists from U.S. immigration, though, again, I may be wrong on that.
In the February 2002 Commentary, he said that Muslim immigration and natural reproduction were the most dangerous arm of the spread of Islam in America. To my knowledge, he has not repeated that point once in the last six years, nor, to my knowledge, has he ever proposed any reduction in Muslim immigration into the U.S.
[End of 7/27/08 note.]
Jeremy G. writes:
Pipes is constantly letting us know that he lacks a realistic understanding of Muslims. His new fear that Muslims may become unstoppable if they would adopt a non-violent plan for conquest of our civilization is completely irrational and borderline hysterical. Muslims follow the Koran. In the Koran they learn about the traditions of Jihad and killing of the infidels, which they have faithfully practiced over the past 1400 years. In order for Muslims to become non-violent, they would first have to abandon the Koran and stop being believing Muslims.LA replies:
As I said above, in today’s article Pipes defines Islamism as the demand to live under sharia law. This demand can be realized by violent means or by peaceful and lawful means. So in effect he’s distinguishing between jihadists, who by definition use violent means, and Islamists, some of whom use violent means (and thus are jihadists as well as Islamists), and some of whom use lawful means (and thus are Islamists but not jihadists). The peaceful Islamism he speaks of, while not jihadist, would still not come under the rubric of “reformed” Islam, because it seeks sharia. Therefore there is no contradiction.Jeremy writes:
In order for Islam to adopt the nature that Pipes dreads, Muslims would have to give up their belief and practice of violent Jihad. This would constitute a major reform of Islam and is part of the reform effort that Pipes supports.LA replies:
But jihad doesn’t have to be violent. Or, to be more precise, the spreading of Islam does not have to be through violent, jihadist means. If Islam can be spread through migration, conversion, and gradual gain of political power; that is perfectly in keeping with Islam, and in that case active jihad would not be necessary. Remember, the Prime Directive is to spread the rule of Islam over the earth. Violent jihad is only one possible means toward that end.Jeremy writes:
Another way of looking at it is this: would reform of Muslims away from violent jihadism constitute an improvement to the practice of Islam? Based on Pipe’s newly stated fear of Islamism vs. jihadism, he would have to view this reform as a setback for Europe and America.LA replies:
Well you’re onto something. The main problem is not jihad. Jihad is just a tool. The main problem is sharia and the spread of sharia. If becoming less violent means the Muslims can spread sharia more effectively, then, yes, a less violent Islam is not to be desired!Jeremy replies:
I completely agree. It certainly seems like weird mental wanderings to think about Islam being spread peacefully, as Pipes has now compelled us to consider. I tend to doubt that the peaceful spread of Islam can be separated by Muslims from the violent aspects that are sparking consciousness among Europeans.Jeremy wrote in a previous e-mail:
Is this conceptualization of Islam really realistic? Where in the world do Muslims reside in large numbers without some of their number participating in violent Jihad? Is there a host society anywhere in the world that can avoid provoking Muslims to violent Jihad against them? The accommodating Brits have had their trains and busses explode. The same for Spain. Even the Shiites cannot satisfy the demands of the Sunnis and vice versa. So your statement that “the spreading of Islam doesn’t have to be violent” seems largely theoretical. The non-violent spread is bound up with the violence.LA replies:
It can be a combination of the two methods, a one-two punch, as has been practiced with many variations throughout the history of Islam. Through peaceful means (as in Britain for example), the Muslims pacify the host society and gain substantial power and influence over it. Then, after the host society has already given up its identity, pride, and principles in the act of tolerating Islam, the Muslims start using violence as well to cow the host society completely. But now, having already given up so much, it’s much harder for the host society to respond. Remember the Brits’ astonishing response to the July 2005 London bombings. That was when I realized how far gone the Brits really were.Stephen T. writes:
Pipes’ reversal reminds me of the flip-flop we’ve seen in California re illegal immigration from Mexico. For 25 years, editorial writers left and right assured us, “It’s not a problem, quit worrying about it, there’s no need to stop them and you’re a racist if you try.”LA replies:
I fear there’s something like that going on here, though it’s not quite the same. After all, Pipes did warn about Islamic immigration in 2001, though (to my knowledge) he never proposed doing anything serious about it, except for his general idea of screening out Islamists, but even that was not something he wrote about much.N. writes:
I am struck by the comment about the flipflop from no problem with immigration to “viva la Raza.” Pipes seems to have internalized the notion that Islam cannot be defeated, or even contained. Perhaps that has been in the back of his head for a while, and accounts for his bi-modal way of thinking? [LA adds: If one is a liberal, meaning, if one cannot conceive of one’s own country or civilization as a concrete entity that has the right and duty to defend itself against a hostile concrete entity, then ultimately one will surrender to the enemy. That is perhaps happening now with Pipes.]BE writes:
Reader N. wrote, “I very much fear that what is going on in Malmo/Oslo/etc. will be coming to cities in the U.S. over the next 20 years.”Tom S. writes:
Pipes seems to be nearing despair. He seems to think that there is no way for a society to stop Islam’s victorious march, and he’s right—with one caveat. There is no way for A LIBERAL society to stop Islam’s victorious march. For someone who has cast off the blinkers of liberalism, the solution is obvious, simple, and even mostly bloodless, for us and them—separationism. Pipes is not really struggling to find a way to contain Islam—he’s trying to find a way to do it, and retain his liberalism. This is impossible—hence his increasing desperation.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 27, 2006 12:12 PM | Send