Friday, June 11, 2010

Update on Islamophobia

There's an intriguing article in the Globe and Mail that cites the heroic Aayan Hirsi Ali on this issue of Islamic fascism: "Ms. Hirsi Ali’s admirers call her the bravest woman of our time. Critics (and they are legion) dismiss her as naive, simplistic, a dupe of the neo-cons, “a willing darling for Western chauvinists” and a convert to the cult of “Randian individualism.” New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristoff attacked her for “feeding religious bigotry” and ignoring Islam’s good side, such as its tradition of “warm hospitality toward guests, especially Christians and Jews.”

Kind of like some responses we got to our previous blog post on this subject-although we wouldn't dare put ourselves in Ali's exalted company. She does go on, however, to put the whole, "religion of peace" thing into its proper perspective: "Warm hospitality does not exactly capture the feeling toward Jews in such places as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Egypt, or toward Christians in places like Nigeria. For that matter, Muslims don’t always feel warm hospitality toward each other (Sunni versus Shia, the firebombing of Ahmadi mosques in Pakistan, etc.). By her reckoning, the death toll of Muslims killed by other Muslims amounts to around 2,000 in recent months. “I want to see the other face of Islam,” she says. “But first I’d have to dig through all the bodies.”

And then the article's author, Margaret Wendt, goes on to convey Ali's take on why the intellectuals seem to always gravitate towards totalitarian movements-whose first response once in power is to kill or marginalize its intellectual cheerleaders: "Why are so many liberal intellectuals, social democrats and feminists so silent on the more noxious features of Islam – the fierce intolerance toward unbelievers, the repression of individual freedom, the routine abuse of children, the misogyny, the forced subservience of women? “It’s the seduction of totalitarianism,” she says. In her view, Western defenders of Islam are the intellectual heirs of those highly intelligent men and women who used to heap praise on Comrade Stalin. “It’s a blind spot that left-wing intellectuals have always had.”

This is what Pam Geller is trying to expose-and what we were called out for defending as, "sheer bigotry." The bigots, however, are all amassed at the gates of our own citadel of freedom. The attackers of Geller are the welcome camouflage that are used by the vandals to insinuate themselves into our midst-the proverbial nose of the camel. if you will. It's time that these fools start digging through the bodies.


Some of the fears about the underbelly of the Muslim faith are being played out in opposition to a number of new mosques all over the city. The NY Times captures the vitriol in Staten Island: "A church may be a church, and a temple a temple, but through the prism of emotion that still grips many New Yorkers almost a decade after 9/11, a mosque can apparently represent a lot of things. In the last few months, Muslim groups have encountered unexpectedly intense opposition to their plans for opening mosques in Lower Manhattan, in Brooklyn and most recently in an empty convent on Staten Island. Some opponents have cited traffic and parking concerns. But the objections have focused overwhelmingly on more intangible and volatile issues: fear of terrorism, distrust of Islam and a linkage of the two in opponents’ minds."

And the fact that mosques have been conduits for terrorist activity in a number of instances-and the Saudi Arabian cash pipeline has funded the terrorist activity as well: "Recent cases of so-called homegrown terrorism, like the Times Square car bomb episode, have increased anxieties, experts say."

It is also true, as Paul Berman has underscored-along with Mark Steyn's seminal work on the expansion of Islamism in Europe-that the more militant strain of Islam is antithetical to Western values-as some of the questions in Staten Island highlighted: "But for the near term, Wednesday night’s meeting indicated that the questions of neighborhood residents may take some time to answer. Among them: “Is Sharia law better than democracy in your view?” “How do you feel about the role of women in society?” “What are your views on Israel?” “Can you point to any single statement in the Koran that you would consider to be incorrect?”

But in spite of all of the evidence of the irresolvable tension between Islamism and American democracy-and the need to carefully winnow out the Muslims whose faith has become politicized-the effort to do so will strike many liberals as rank bigotry. But, in our view, scrutiny and tough questions are merited given all we have seen from the militant wing of the religion. Tolerance is fine, but tolerance of intolerance will not only erode our core values, it will also permit the growth of a breeding ground for terrorist activity.