Yes, They Exist. No, They Aren’t The Solution
From time to time I take a peek to see what the other side, particularly the lefties, are saying about the blogging efforts of the wakeful in general, and sometimes I stumble upon things about mine in particular. Most of the sentiments are quite the expected stuff: charges of racism top the list, then warmongering, intolerance, stereotyping and the like. Sometimes the word “bigotry” is used instead of “racism”, and a common refrain is to put the words, “A good Muslim is a dead Muslim” in our side’s mouths. It’s the subject of bigotry, stereotyping and the question of the moderate Muslims that I wish to talk about here.
First, I find charges of bigotry toward me far better than charges of racism. Both charges are meant to smear, but the charge of bigotry has a chance of approaching the truth, and it’s a charge I can address, while the charge of racism can’t be true about me even in theory, nor can I address it any more than I can answer the question, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” Also, when I read the aforementioned phrase they put in my mouth, I’m consoled by the fact they say “Muslim” and not “Arab”. Even a cursory reading of my blog will reveal that my arguments are about Islam and its adherents of any race, not about Arabs. None of my writings apply to Christian Arabs, for example, with the exception of dhimmis like Israeli parliament member Azmi Bisharah who still think pan-Arabism is as influential an ideology as it was 30 years ago; and they apply to Arab Muslims, to slanty-eyed Malay Muslims, to black-skinned Somali Muslims and to blond, blue-eyed Swedish converts to Islam equally. I’m tired of repeating this again and again, but here goes: it’s about religion, not about race.
Now to address the argument that does follow from correct initial assumptions: that I’m a bigot who believes all Muslims are evil and want to offer us the choice between conversion and death (and dhimmitude for some of us). I am charged with disbelieving in the existence of good Muslims: of Muslims who lead their religious lives on the “live and let live” model to which all other religions today adhere; who may think all human beings should keep shariah law, but leave the conversion of the non-Muslims to such observance to their deity rather than to humans; who are ashamed of their brethren of whom we hear about on the news every day, and think they are giving Islam a bad name; and who view clashes like those in Israel or Kashmir as nationalistic land disputes that can be solved through negotiations, and through concessions from both parties. Such Muslims do exist, and I have never hinted otherwise. However, I see four problems that nullify any Leftist argument that proposes the abandonment of the war, on the ideological front against Islam as well as on the physical front against the Muslims, on the grounds of the indisputable existence of such Muslims. These are the problems:
- They are a minority.
- They can turn to the extremist majority any moment.
- Many professing moderates are extremists engaging in dissimulation (taqiya).
- Even true and stable moderate Muslims are powerless to deal with their extremist brethren.
Each point needs elaboration.
First: extremist Muslims, the ones you hear about on the daily news, are the majority. This is substantiated by numerous surveys, by grassroots actions (such as cab drivers refusing to take passengers carrying wine or accompanied by a guide-dog), by the half-hearted way most Muslims condemn Islamic terrorism, always with “but it was because of oppression in…” appended, and last but not least, in the Muslim states, by the existence of education systems that cannot but bring their students to the way of jihad.
Cartoon by Chuck Asay, September 19, 2006. From Townhall.com.
I think this revelation is the most difficult for people today to accept. There is a widely-held belief nowadays that extremists and evil people are necessarily a minority, usually a tiny one (“tiny but vocal” is the phrase often used), while moderates and good people are necessarily the majority. I don’t know for sure where that belief comes from; I’d hazard a guess that 1960’s humanist psychology, which holds the basic good of mankind as its core assumption, is the source of that common error. It is, like Communism, a purely theoretical construct based on the solid ground of wishful thinking. No reason is offered as to why extremists must be a minority; it’s a given. But reality is something else, and reality knows of the situation of extremists and malicious humans being the majority as well as the opposite. Moderate Muslims, then, far from being able to influence their extremist brethren, are in constant danger of being drowned in their ocean.
Second: the phenomenon of Sudden Jihad Syndrome is well-attested. Christian refugees from massacres by Muslims, Israeli Jewish survivors of the Independence War (1947–9) and Hindu immigrants to India from Pakistan can testify that it’s possible to live alongside Muslims for more than a decade on end and then, suddenly, be attacked by those same neighbors and friends. There’s no knowing when a moderate Muslim might be overcome by the need to go back to serving the god of the Koran—it could be on account of a middle-life crisis, it could be after seeing the news pictures from the Backstabbing Brutus Corporation, it could be anything, but the end result is a few shocked non-Muslim neighbors exclaiming, “But he was such a wonderful boy! You could never have thought him capable of such a thing!”
One may object that the phenomenon of sudden religiosity is common to all humans, especially to the other history-based faiths like Judaism and Christianity. This is true, but it is no objection, because the turn to religious observance manifests itself differently than for Muslims. To put it this way: the next time a Jewish ba’al teshuvah goes blowing himself in Muslim centers of population rather than just keeping kashrut and shabbat, give me a call. The next time a Christian born-again demands all women in his neighborhood cover up rather than just hand out Christian Bibles to passers-by, let me know. The next time a convert to Hindutva goes shooting Pakistani Muslim immigrants in London because of “the Pakistani occupation of Hindu lands” (a valid claim, by the way—Pakistan and Bangladesh are both stolen Hindu lands) rather than just holding more traditional rituals than before, tell me as soon as possible. I’m sorry to say this, but the Muslims are unique in that regard. The truth is offensive.
Third: a lot of Muslims profess being moderate for Western media consumption only. The members of CAIR are the first such that spring to my mind, but there are many more. They are quick to rush in front of the microphones standing with a suit and tie, vehemently exclaiming that suicide bombing has nothing to do with Islam, with the added, “but resistance of the oppressor is legitimate”; or explaining how turning a woman into a walking piece of cloth is actually the highest form of feminism! Those same people are reluctant to speak out against their overtly extremist brethren, and rush to scream, “RACISM!!!” every time someone in the West does something or even just proposes something in order to defend non-Muslims from said brethren. They are a fifth column in the West—the rational-looking, sensible-sounding adherents who call the non-Muslims to be cool-headed and pragmatic and enter negotiations and concessions toward the Muslims right after every terrorist attack. Such are the ones that demanded change of British foreign policy and recognition of Muslim holidays in Britain after the 7/7 bus bombings. Extremists in moderate clothing.
Finally, the fourth point is that tiny minority of Muslims who are truly moderate and not dissimulating, and who are stable enough to resist the pull toward extremism. When Western intellectuals and policymakers talk of “appealing to moderate Muslims to fight the extremists”, those are the only ones they could truly rely on. But in reality they can’t—not because of the lack of will on the part of such Muslims, but because they’re in the most dangerous situation possible, and because they’re at a loss to present an Islamic challenge to the extremists.
The first point is, that it is the height of irrationality to expect Muslims to fight against the would-be enforcers of worldwide shariah law when even the non-Muslims of the West endanger themselves when doing so. If French philosopher Robert Redeker, after having written just one article critical of the prophet Mohammed in Le Figaro, has to go into hiding following death threats, why should any Muslim dare to do the same? For a non-Muslim like Redeker or Pope Benedict XVI there might be some leeway for an Islamic cleric to call for moderation; for a Muslim who does the same, there is absolutely no appeal—he will be branded an apostate and executed following that (and rest assured any Islamic cleric who speaks against that will himself be branded an apostate). I think non-Muslims should really let go of their calls for action by moderate Muslims and do the dirty work themselves. The true moderate Muslims will not speak out unless they feel they can—unless criticism of Islam brings about the same response as does The Da Vinci Code. That won’t come true until the non-Muslims, in their own states, while they’re still the majority, enforce such a Muslim reaction with a stern and determined hand.
The second point is one that Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch constantly makes: the moderate Muslims are ill-equipped to challenge the extremists on Islamic grounds. That’s because of the observation of apostate Ibn Warraq that, although there are moderate Muslims, there is no moderate Islam. The sources of the Islamic religion are all on the side of the intolerant, jihadi, shariah-forcing Muslim. The situation is similar to that of homosexuals trying to challenge Orthodox Judaism or Evangelical Christianity on religious grounds: it’s just impossible. Homosexuals today benefit from the fact that the explicit command in Leviticus to execute them is not put into practice by either Jews or Christians (Orthodox Judaism has technically put that command on hold until the reestablishment of the Davidic kingdom, but then it will no longer be needed); but the condemnation of their lifestyle is there, and no amount of sophistry can yank it out of the scriptures or their orthodox commentaries. This is not to say religious change is impossible: after all, the Catholic popes steered their church away from anti-Semitism with a host of declarations after the Holocaust. Yet, as we know, traditionalists like Mel Gibson don’t accept those declarations. In Islam, religious decrees against the extremist way are few, equivalents of Mel Gibson in not following such decrees are many, and all it takes is just a handful of extremist Muslims to make the daily news. Polls often show Muslim support for jihad as being in single-digit percentages, but considering that they’re usually taken in countries having millions of Muslims, that’s no comfort at all.
To sum it up: there are moderate Muslims, I have little doubt about that; but, they’re no more relevant to our situation than were Germans who saw Nazism as nothing more but a movement to heal German society internally. Such had no chance of stopping World War II and its atrocities, and the moderate Muslim minority too is not going to help non-Muslims out of the slide toward World War III. It’s up to us alone.