DíSouzaís argument self-explodes
Robert Spencer is perhaps even more appalled by Dinesh DíSouzaís ludicrous and dangerous thesis than I am. He has a lengthy article rebutting a DíSouza interview in which DíSouza argues that historic Islam was never radical or threatening. ďThere is no Ďinherent conquering spirití in Islam, any more than there is one in Christianity,Ē DíSouza baldly asserts, sounding like Bernard Lewis on speed. Spencer goes into a lengthy historical disquisition showing the falsity of that statement.
Near the end of the interview, DíSouza says something that reveals the total self-contradiction at the heart of his thesis. He says that the traditional Muslims want to oppose the radical Muslims, but are driven to unite with them out of the shared conviction that Islam is threatened. Therefore if we Westerners get rid of our cultural radicalism and express our support for traditional Islam, the traditional Muslims will feel comfortable with us and ally with us against the radical Muslims. Conversely, if we Westerners harshly criticize Islam, as weíre doing at present, the traditional Muslims will feel that Islam is threatened and rush to make common cause with the radicals.
But, as Spencer points out, if the moderates really opposed the radicals, why would they feel threatened by the Westís critical statements about the radical nature of Islam? They would welcome that attack, seeing the West as their ally against the radicalism that they, the moderates, also want to oppose.
Itís a good point by Spencer, and unanswerable. But there is even more to it. First, letís quote DíSouza directly:
What unites the radical and the traditional Muslims is not merely opposition to American values or culture, but a deep conviction that their religion is threatened. This is their unifying slogan: ďIslam is under attack.ĒWhat DíSouza is really saying is that the bottom line for the traditionalist Muslims is intra-Muslim solidarity. But if thatís the case, how could the traditionalists ever join with us against the radicals? The moment they saw our anti-radical policies, or the first time they heard any criticism by us of radical Islam that hit too close to home for the moderatesí sensibility, the moderatesí instinct would be to rally to the side of their radical brethren. What kind of allies could these moderates be, if we must walk on tiptoes to avoid the slightest implication that we are attacking Islam? ďOh, no, our traditional Muslim allies, when we attack sharia, when we challenge the belief that converts from Islam must die, when we screen immigration applicants for devout belief in the war verses of the Koran and the Hadiths, weíre not attacking Islam. Weíre attacking radical Islam.Ē
Think that will mollify them?
It makes no sense for D’Souza to state that moderates and radicals are joined together in the deep conviction that their religion is threatened by the West, and then add that if the West attacks the radicals while making nice with the moderates, the moderates will join with the West against the radicals, instead of joining with the radicals against the West! DíSouzaís argument has self-exploded.
Here is the last part of the interview followed by Spencerís comment. The whole article is worth reading, however.
DíSouza: The Islamic world is divided into traditional Muslims and radical Muslims. The traditional Muslims are the ones who have practiced Islam in the way it has been practiced since the days of Muhammad. The Islamic radicals are a new force that has gained power in the last few decades. My point is that we cannot win the war on terror without driving a wedge between these two groups. The reason is that the radical Muslims are recruiting from the pool of traditional Muslims. So no matter how many radicals America captures or kills, itís no use if twice as many traditional Muslims join the radical camp. What unites the radical and the traditional Muslims is not merely opposition to American values or culture, but a deep conviction that their religion is threatened. This is their unifying slogan: ďIslam is under attack.Ē What differentiates the two groups is that the radicals want to fight a jihad against America, using any means necessary, including terrorism, while the traditionalists would prefer to find a different approach.Spencerís comment:
Yet the jihadists routinely point to Muhammad and the Qurían to justify their actions. We must ignore this because it will offend moderates? But why should moderates be offended if we point out the elements of Islam that they reject, or should reject, if their moderation is to have any substance and be able to withstand the challenge from jihadists?
Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 20, 2007 01:11 AM | Send