Jun 24 2008

We Will Never Forget, or None So Blind?

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 10:45 pm

Andrew C. McCarthy, the prosecutor responsible for leading the investigation of Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and others involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, has a new book out on the relation of Islam to terrorism and jihad.

In Willful Blindness, in addition to telling the story of the investigation and prosecution of “the blind sheikh” and his accomplices, McCarthy makes connections between historical Islamic teaching and terrorism/jihad. He also relates terrorist plots that were close to being carried out, with possibly more casualties than 9/11, that were stopped by US authorities, but which seem not to have gotten wide media attention. As the prosecutor of a major terrorist group, his opinion, that a “law enforcement” approach to terrorism is woefully inadequate, is surely worth considering.

Raymond Ibrahim, writing on the website of Victor Davis Hanson, discusses the way our ability to understand the nature of the terrorist threat is harmed by unwillingness to use terms like Islamist, Islamo-fascism, etc. He also discusses the reticence of many in the West to directly connect historical Islamic belief with the actions of Islamic terrorists, presumably to avoid offending “moderate” Muslims.

As someone well acquainted with al Qaeda’s writings and communiqués (see The Al Qaeda Reader), I can confidently state that their messages to the West are markedly different from their messages to fellow Muslims. To Americans, al Qaeda, just as the U.S. memo recommends, rarely evokes Islamic theology; instead, the discourse is entirely about the Muslim world’s political grievances at the hands of the West. Their more clandestine writings to Muslims, conversely, rarely revolve around political grievances, but instead are grounded in Islamic theology and law, and stress how Muslims are commanded to have antipathy for infidels and to constantly be in a state of war with them. Even the 9/11 strikes are justified through the strict rules of Islamic jurisprudence.

Robert Spencer doesn’t think it’s enough to be willing to name the terrorists as Islamists, Islamo-fascists, etc. His point: the actions of the terrorists are rooted in an understanding of historical Islamic teaching that is common to many Muslims, and reflects common Islamic jurisprudence of centuries’ standing.

It is ironic that many people use “Islamism” as a figleaf term to avoid speaking about Islam itself; they pretend that the political and imperialistic and supremacist elements of Islam are not deeply rooted within it, but are merely “Islamist” inventions that can with relative ease be eradicated and are already rejected by the Islamic mainstream. Yet here, The Independent assumes that to speak about Islamism is to speak about Islam, and suggests that British authorities might think the same thing.

No doubt there are moderate Muslims, if by that term we refer to Muslims who are not terrorists and never will be terrorists, and do not actively support terrorists. If we define “moderation” as having no sympathy with the terrorists whatsoever, the size of that group is significantly smaller.

But surely a “moderate Muslim” is something more than merely a Muslim who isn’t trying to kill you today, and probably won’t tomorrow. Surely a “moderate Muslim” is also something more than someone who just isn’t very serious about being a Muslim.

What we rarely (if ever) find is a Muslim moderate who argues, from the Koran and Hadith using historically grounded methods of interpretation acceptable to Muslim jurists, that the Koran and Hadith teach against the understanding of jihad as military action to bring about Muslim rule and subdue the infidel. Since this is exactly what Muhammed did, and what was defined as proper behavior by many generations of Muslim authorities, it is a difficult argument to make.

Some are trying. We need to honor and encourage their effort, while recognizing its difficulty and rarity. If they are able to bring about a “reformation” in Islam, it will be a great achievement, and the world will owe them a great debt.

In the meantime, we are not served by pretending that there is any moral or behavioral equivalence between Muslim fundamentalists and Christian fundamentalists, a popular conceit among the secular left intelligentsia, and, sadly, one frequently echoed by the Christian Left as well.

When “moderate Muslims” become more fundamentalist, they become more sympathetic to terrorism, and may become involved in it in some way, even if only by giving money and moral support. A certain number will become actively involved in some aspect of terrorism. They will be directed to specific texts in the Koran and Hadith that call them to violent jihad, and will learn about Muhammed’s life practicing what he preached. They will learn of the doctrine of abrogation, an Islamic principle that requires believers to ignore verses (such as the more peaceful verses from the Mecca period) that come earlier than later verses on the same topic (such as the “sword” verses from the later Medina period). This concept of abrogation is not widely understood by the public in the West, and allows Islamic apologists to quote the more peaceful sounding verses as if they are the ones that Muslims pay the most attention to. They are not.

When people become fundamentalist Christians, they tend to give more money to the church, practice certain disciplines in their personal lives, attend church more, and frequently give more generously to charity. No one will teach them that Christianity is destined to take over the world, and that they are responsible to violently struggle to make it happen sooner. There are no founding texts encouraging this, and no history of Christian violence in the first three centuries carried out to spread the Kingdom.

Where are these Christians who are plotting murder and mayhem to advance the work of the Kingdom?

The conflation of “fundamentalists” of all stripes is absurd. But you will hear the argument made again, by someone, possibly tomorrow.

We need to hope/pray for wisdom on the part of our leaders, and the electorate that selects them, that they will not be blind to the connection between traditional Islamic teaching and jihad, and so fail to see the nature of our opponents, and the network of support out of which they proceed. And we need to call them out when when they seem to be mouthpieces for Islamic propagandists instead of clear-eyed leaders looking out for our best interests.

Have we forgotten about 9/11? I fear we have. I fear the reminder we are sure to get.

I hope the members of our incoming administration, whatever party they may be, will read McCarthy’s book.

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Jun 24 2008

The Left at Christian Univs, part 4: Diversity

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 3:20 pm

This is a post in the chain on “The Left at Christian Universities”. The last, recommending a very important book, was The Left at Christian Univs, part 3: Diversity.

Following the useful practice of Peter Woods in his book Diversity: Invention of a Concept, I will use the italicized form of the word diversity to represent the common use of the term as political enterprise, and the unitalicized form to denote the conventional meaning of the word “diversity”.


There are two possible strategies with disclaimers. You can put them at the beginning, or you can put them at the end.

I am doing both. I may also put a few in the middle.


I am not a racist. Not even close, not in my dreams, not in any way at all.

I am not a bigot. I have warm fuzzy feelings for all kinds of people, from all kinds of backgrounds.

I am not fearful of change. Anyone who knows me would laugh out loud at the idea.

I am an (undead) white male. If you think that means you don’t need to pay any attention to my perspective, you may be a racist.

I regularly donate blood to the High Desert Blood Bank in San Bernardino County, California. I am AB negative (the rarest blood type, about 6 of every 1000 people), and I am CMV negative (some virus I never got, but which most people do), so my blood is good for people with compromised immune systems: the very old, and the very young, as in preemies. For reasons I don’t understand, AB negative blood plasma is the “universal donor” in plasma (not whole blood), and so, since my plasma is so rare and valuable, I give blood plasma about every month. They tell me that my plasma is probably in the bodies of bunches and bunches of pre-maturely born babies in the San Bernardino area, many of them of African-American descent. I consider it something of a sacred duty to do this.

OK? This is almost embarrassing, but the point needs to be made. The reason it needs to be made is because the Left routinely paints anyone who disagrees with the entire diversity enterprise as a hater and a racist. I am neither.

This is really embarrassing.

First concepts

These thoughts form the backbone of the discussion in following posts. In later posts, I’ll discuss the implications for Christian colleges/universities. I’ll try to support them with a reasonable degree of evidence, some unavoidably anecdotal, because there are certain questions that social scientists simply do not ask, and the political/social commitments of diversity mavens are among them, even though they are blindingly obvious.

1) Diversity is an outgrowth of the political perspectives of the secular Left, and depends for its existence on moral equivalence arguments about the relative status and value of various cultures and sub-cultures.

2) Diversity
is virtually always a supporter of the political and social Left. Diversity speakers and presenters are virtually always from the Left. The curious profession of diversity trainer means learning to sell the Left.

3) Diversity is the term that was used to disguise the essentially quota-based strategies of affirmative action, when quotas were found by the courts to be suspect.

4) Diversity is used to sneak in almost uniformly leftist perspectives in a wide variety of areas, not merely the inclusion of persons of minority races in public life and institutions. It is a complete pretense to present diversity as an enterprise that is politically or socially neutral.

5) Diversity is not about helping minorities improve their numerical representation in public life and institutions. It is about helping only certain minorities, which are perceived as not being able to raise themselves out of their current circumstances without preferences, quotas, set-asides, and special considerations of all kinds. As such, it is a racist enterprise on its face, even though its self-talk is that it is anti-racist.

The subtext of diversity is simple: if you are one of the favored minorities, you aren’t able to make it on your own, and need diversity to help you get where you want to go. If you are not one of the favored minorities, you should be ashamed of your racist heritage, and if you resist diversity in any way, it is further proof of your racism.

I’ll try to get around to commenting on each of the points above in subsequent posts.

UPDATE:  Part 5 in this series is here.

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