Spencer’s defense of Wilders from the ADL
On April 28 the Anti-Defamation League released this statement about Geert Wilders:
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) strongly condemns remarks made over the last few days at various appearances throughout South Florida by Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders. In his speeches, he claimed that “Islam is not a religion” and “the right to religious freedom should not apply to this totalitarian ideology called Islam.” Mr. Wilders also stated that the Koran is a book of hatred, and that Mohammed was both “a pedophile and a warlord.”In his defense of Wilders at FrontPage Magazine on May 4, Robert Spencer makes some good and reasonable points. Here is the second (and more interesting) half of the article, followed by my comments. Spencer writes:
… But when Wilders speaks of restricting Muslims’ religious freedom, his words appear more problematic. Wilders’s full statement on this, however, elucidates what he meant: “Stop pretending that Islam is a religion. Islam is a totalitarian ideology. In other words, the right to religious freedom should not apply to Islam.”On the question of the correctness of Wilders’s view of the nature of Islam, I would restate Spencer’s argument as follows. Islam is indeed both a religion and a totalitarian political ideology, but the fact that Islam is a religion is practically of no importance to us non-Muslims. What matters to us non-Muslims is how Islam manifests itself to us. And, in that regard, Islam is indeed a political ideology aimed at subduing us under its power. Therefore, while Wilders’s statement that Islam is only an political ideology and not a religion is not objectively correct (since Islam is a religion), Wilders’s statement is practically correct.
This is a good apologia for Wilders’s position. Personally (like Spencer) I prefer saying that Islam is both a religion and a political ideology. Also, I think Wilders’s formulation unnecessarily opens him to attacks such as the ADL’s. Nevertheless, Wilders’s choice to say that Islam is only a political ideology is rational and defensible.
In any case, whether or not we Islam critics call Islam a religion, we all agree that Islam is a tyrannical political ideology. What, then, are we to do about it? Spencer says that jihadist activity could be successfully suppressed, not by outlawing Islam itself, but by enforcing existing federal laws against sedition. This sounds like a promising approach, and I’m not prepared to say that it is not a viable approach. However, the federal law Spencer quotes, Section 2385 (I’m not sure if that’s a section number the U.S. Code), is not helpful to us, because it only outlaws activity aimed at overthrowing the government by force. This would leave untouched the main thrust of Islam, consisting of the non-violent spread of sharia through demographic, cultural, and political infiltration. If, under existing U.S. law, sedition only means seeking to overthrow the U.S. government by force, then enforcing laws against sedition will not stop the Islam danger. Therefore the only recourse will be to suppress Islam itself. And to suppress Islam itself, there must be, at the minimum, a federal statute or constitutional amendment declaring that Islam is not a religion under the meaning of the First Amendment, which says that “Congress shall make no law … prohibiting the free exercise of religion.” Once Islam is defined is not a religion and thus no longer protected by the First Amendment, appropriate government action can be taken to suppress it.
Which, ironically, brings us back to Wilders’s view that Islam is not a religion at all, but only a political ideology. If we say that Islam is not a religion at all, but only a political ideology, then it will be much easier to say that it is not a religion for the purposes of the First Amendment. So maybe there is even more to Wilders’s position than I thought.
Irwin Graulich writes:
In my opinion the ADL has become an anti-Jewish organization. Abe Foxman is a dangerous fool. I have spoken out against this despicable organization for many years. Please don’t take them seriously.LA replies:
But one could say of the entire left that they’re anti-American and despicable. Yet they’re running things. So the statement, “Don’t take them seriously,” is not helpful.(The discussion continues in a new entry.)