Thursday, June 10, 2010

Phantom Islamaphobia

In yesterday's NY Daily News there was an Op-ed piece on the dangers of anti-Muslim bigotry-a chimera that, in our view, masks the real danger inherent in being cavalier about the kind of threat that America faces from Islamism. Here's Dubensky inveighing against a bus advertising campaign informing Muslims of their supposed rights: "Last month, about 30 buses in New York City's fleet started running ads professing to assist individuals trying to leave Islam; they'll continue to run through the middle of next week. These are messages of hate masquerading as messages of help - and all New Yorkers who believe in peaceful coexistence should reject them."

Really? In what way is this hateful? Dubensky helpfully explains: "Sponsored by an organization called Stop the Islamicization of America, led by Pamela Geller, the ads read like something aimed at battered women trying to escape abusive relationships: "Fatwa on your head? Is your community or family threatening you? Leaving Islam?" Readers are then directed to a Web site aimed at providing support as they "escape" their religion. The implication: Countless American Muslims are trapped in an oppressive and violent faith, dying to get out. And if they dare try, they could be injured or killed."

Dubensky sees these ads as blasphemy-in the secular sense of the word: "These are lies, and offensive ones at that. We should be clear: Few of the 5 million to 7 million Muslims in America want to escape their faith - and those who do are free to do so. There are extremists of all faith traditions, including those who identify as Muslim. But they are a small minority and do not represent Islam as a whole or American Muslims, for whom Islam is a beautiful and inspiring faith - not a prison."

Is this an empirical statement? The fact is that the rise of militant Islam all over the world has become a direct and dire threat to Western values-or has Dubensky missed the phenomenon? With the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and the migration of madrassa-trained Imams from Saudi Arabia, the faith is becoming more aggressive-and this aggression takes a number of different forms.

We have the violence prone jihadists who actually want to wage war against the West-and the arrests in this country of American born Muslim converts underscores the potential dangers better than anything else. But we also have the Islamists who want to eventually see sharia law become the norm-or at least a subset of existing law that can be separately applied to the Muslim community. They aren't violence prone, but may contribute to Muslim, "charities," that aid those terrorist groups that actually wage war. These Islamist want to see the triumph of Islam and are more patient than their extreme wing-looking for demography to be the ultimate undoing of Western societies-particularly in Europe-where Muslims are becoming more numerous.

What percentage of the Muslim community is resistant to this virulent strain is unknown but, in our view, it is remarkable quiescent. But the more we pander to the extreme-the hijab fights in France are an example-and use multi-culturalism or first amendment arguments to defend Islamist demands, the stronger the virulent strain becomes. The Dubensky attack piece fits right into this unfortunate trend because it misses the importance of what Geller's ads are doing to dramatize the dangers of the militant Islamist movement.

And Dubensky reveals her misguided sensibilities very clearly. As she writes: "Islamophobia and anti-Islam hatred are on the rise in the U.S., especially after the events of 9/11. Even before that fateful day, Muslims were often portrayed in the media as democracy- and America-hating terrorists - a portrayal that, unfortunately, has increasingly seeped into our consciousness. In 2002, 41% of respondents in a national poll admitted to harboring anti-Muslim sentiments (even though only 7% said they understood Islam very well). In 2009, the percentage of those admitting anti-Islam attitudes reached 46%."

Wonder how that could have happened? By decrying a phantom anti-Muslim bias in this country-and that there hasn't been any real violent threats to Muslims since after 9/11 is a truly remarkable indication of American tolerance-Dubensky provides good cover for the extremists that want to take over the faith. She does so by conflating-as do the Islamist front groups-being anti-Islamist with being anti-Muslim. And at the same time she inappropriately fig leafs the real retrograde qualities that Islamists are trying to propagate-particularly in regards to women's rights. And by the way, it would be a good idea for Dubensky to compare anti-Muslim hate crimes in this country with anti-Semitic hate and violence in France and England.

It is also true that Islamism in its most virulent form has often been fomented in American mosques (not to mention prisons)-but the phenomenon has often gone unnoticed because of our own aggressive tolerance of difference. That is why so many are uncomfortable with a mosque at Ground Zero. But the total disregard, by not only Dubensky but Eric Holder and the rest of the Obama administration, of the Islamicization of the faith is dangerously naive-so much so that they can't even label jihadist terrorism for what it is.

But Dubensky is blind to the malevolent trend-and in her attack on Geller becomes an unwitting fifth columnist for the jihadists. Her message of interfaith brotherhood is literally disarming: "A comparison across a wide range of traditions, Islam included, results in one conclusion: Most of our fundamental values are common across religious beliefs - values like compassion, respect for the "other," charity, peace, forgiveness and, above all, the golden rule. In every case, Islamic texts strongly support those values."

Back in the real world, the Islamist supremacists and hate mongers continue to proselytize-both openly and with more sub rosa methods-while Dubensky calls out Geller for her alleged bigotry: "Geller's group has the right to buy ads that are within the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's regulations. And those of us who find the message offensive have the obligation to condemn them for what they are - statements designed to stoke fear and hatred, without cause, without facts, without justice. To do anything less is to let hate win."

America and the West are under siege by a retrograde Islamist movement that Paul Berman has so exquisitely demonstrated to be fascism in a religious cloak. The focus of unflattering attention on Pam Geller's advertising campaign is dangerous misdirection; and only makes Dubensky into a useful idiot for a 7th century misogynism threat that is now animated by 20th century totalitarian impulses.