Trifkovic vs. D’Souza

Here is a verbatim excerpt from a debate today between Dinesh D’Souza and Serge Trifkovic on “Hot Talk with Scott Hennen,” which Trifkovic has sent out. See again D’Souza’s astonishing denial of the entire doctrine and history of Islam. And be sure to read the second half of the excerpt, where Trifkovic asks D’Souza in what order the suras of the Koran are arranged.

TRIFKOVIC: The problem with his book is primarily that Dinesh denounces me and my friend Robert Spencer for writing about Islam the way we do. What is truly remarkable for an intellectual is that he does not do so on the basis of any failure on our part to offer empirical evidence for our fundamental thesis – which is that Islam is inherently aggressive, racist, violent, and intolerant – but rather that this shouldn’t be allowed to be published, because it undermines the possibility of establishing some mythical alliance with the conservative Muslims. The problem there is that a conservative Muslim is obviously a person inherently opposed to any rationalistic revision of the Kuran or the Sunna, or any reinterpretation of Islam in the way that would enable it to be reformed. What we have is a self-proclaimed “conservative,” here in the United States, acting in exactly the same way as… that reminds me of my youth under communism in Tito’s Yugoslavia, denouncing a certain approach to a subject purely on the grounds of its alleged ideological unacceptability. He uses the term “Islamophobia” – which is a classic term invented by the Race Relations Industry, by the very people of the Left that he seeks to denounce. Once you subscribe to the term “Islamophobia” all debates about Islam cease, because the only valid definition of “Islamophobia” is the one offered by those people he blames for 9-11!

D’SOUZA: One of the problems here is a little bit of paranoia. These guys, Spencer, Serge, have been running around basically saying I am trying to silence them, whereas all I am doing is disagreeing with them. In my book I say this: we can’t win the War on Terror without driving a wedge between the radical Muslims and the traditional Muslims… There are many Muslims who are very different from the stereotypical Muslim that Serge and Spencer feature in their work. My point is simply this: ultimately I think that we have to draw traditional Muslims away from radical Islam, because the radical Muslims are fishing in the pool of traditional Islam. So for this reason I think that these attacks on Islam – the Koran [sic!] is a gospel of violence, Mohammed [sic!] is the inventor of terrorism – they are not just tactically foolish, they are historically wrong because Islam has been around for thirteen hundred years, Islam radicalism was invented in the 1920s, and came to power in 1979. How can we blame the Prophet Mohammad for things that Khomeini and Bin Laden are saying, that are very new. Historian Bernard Lewis points out that radical Islam is a radical break with traditional Islam. Never before have Muslim mullahs, or clergymen, ever ruled a Muslim country. All Muslim countries have been ruled by non-clergymen until Khomeini. So I think the flaw we see in this work and in the Islamophobic literature is that it tries to link the early centuries of Islam. It cherry-picks the Koran and finds all the violent passages, leaves out all the peaceful passages, and then basically concedes to Bin Laden that he is the true Muslim, that his reading of the Koran is correct, and it pushes the traditional Muslims towards the radical camp by denouncing their religion. Then we complain all these traditional Muslims [indistinct] … by denouncing Islam itself.

TRIFKOVIC: This is really rich. First of all, to claim that the Kuran is a pacifist tract…

D’SOUZA: I didn’t say it’s a pacifist tract.

TRIFKOVIC: Well, you do say that people like Spencer and I pick and choose. Have you actually read the Kuran? Have you ever actually read the Kuran?

D’SOUZA: Of course I have.

TRIFKOVIC: Do you know how are the Suras arranged?

D’SOUZA: They are… er… they are not arranged in any chronological order… er… [pause] and… er… [pause] and so I quote in my book both the violent and…

TRIFKOVIC: Just tell me how ARE they arranged.

D’SOUZA: The other point…

TRIFKOVIC: Can you just tell me how are the Suras arranged?

D’SOUZA: … right. You can’t just call…

TRIFKOVIC: Why don’t you just tell me how are the Suras arranged?

HENNEN: OK, one at a time here; your question for Dinesh, Serge, is?

TRIFKOVIC: In what order are the Suras arranged in the Kuran?

D’SOUZA: [long silence] I really don’t know what you mean by that. When you say “in what order” then… err… [pause] there…

TRIFKOVIC: … an interlocutor who tries to pass authoritative judgments on the subject is refusing to tell me how are the Suras and the verses of the Kuran arranged. They happen to be arranged by SIZE, from short to long!

[The interview goes on for another 10 minutes or so]

Of course Trifkovic meant from long to short, not short to long, but he simply misspoke. The surprising point is that the most obvious fact about the arrangement of the Koran, evident to anyone who glances through it for the first time, and mentioned in the introduction of probably every English translation, did not spring to D’Souza’s mind when Trifkovic asked him about it.

- end of initial entry -

Serge Trifkovic dropped me a note explaining that he did not misspeak. He says he deliberately reversed the order of short and long suras, to see if Dinesh D’Souza would catch the error, and he didn’t!

Trifkovic is thus remarkably prescient and D’Souza is amazingly specious, for Trifkovic grasped that D’Souza, despite his pretensions of having “studied Islam for four years,” was so ignorant of Islam that not only had he not read the Koran but that he didn’t even know the most basic thing about it, the very first thing that a first-time reader of the Koran picks up, that the suras go from the longest to the shortest.

Now, anyone following D’Souza’s statements would know that he doesn’t know much about Islam, especially as seen by his repeated reliance on the same superficial slogans from the Great Authority Bernard Lewis that every neocon commentator relies on. But that Trifkovic intuited that D’Souza knows literally nothing about the Koran is remarkable and I congratulate him for exposing D’Souza as he has done.

Andrea C. writes:

Wow! Yes, very prescient, very “on the ball.” Thank you for sharing that.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 05, 2007 10:47 PM | Send

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