Ralph Peters, retired military officer and author of several books on this present conflict, has published an op-ed in the New York Post entitled "Islam-Haters: An Enemy Within," which is one of the most confused and irresponsible pieces I have ever seen in an American newspaper -- and with the likes of S. I. Rosenbaum and Jim Ritter working the news beats, that's saying a lot.
Peters is exercised about "a rotten core of American extremists" -- right-wingers, of course, who are worse than Leftist appeasers because they insist that "Islam can never reform." If you "read between the lines, that all Muslims are evil and subhuman."
Zowie! Who are these awful, Hitlerian bigots? Peters never tells us. Nor does he give us even a shred of an example of how they imply (nudge nudge wink wink) in ways that are clear to discerning fellows like Ralph Peters, that "all Muslims are evil and subhuman."
Of course, not naming his opponents gives Peters a free pass to flail away, throwing everything but Der Stuermer and the kitchen sink at his shadowy opponents, and allowing himself the coward's retreat of being able to deny, if challenged by anyone, that he had him in mind. Well, I'm going to ask anyway. You talkin' to me, Ralph? You talkin' to me? I guess you must not be talking to me, since the people who have you so wrought up have sent you emails, and I have never sent you anything. But I nevertheless think it necessary to try to clear some of the fog of confusion you have billowed out here, since some -- only some -- of the points your villains make sound like some things I have said. Sort of. And more importantly, since some people will be taken in by your piece, as nutso as it is, and be thereby diverted from some important truths.
September 7, 2006 -- ISLAMIST fanatics attacked us and yearn to destroy us. The Muslim civilization of the Middle East has failed comprehensively and will continue to generate violence. The only way to deal with faith-poisoned terrorists is to kill them. And the world's only hope for long-term peace is for moderate Muslims - by far the majority around the globe - to recapture their own faith.
Peters' Assumption #1: the Islam of moderate Muslims is the genuine Islam, and all they need to do is "recapture" their faith. In fact it is not for Peters or any other non-Muslim to say what genuine Islam consists of, and there is no Pope of Islam to rule on what is Islamic orthodoxy and what isn't. What we can do is look at the teachings of the various sects and schools of law -- which I have done, and have found that all mainstream Sunni and Shi'ite sects and madhahib (schools of jurisprudence) teach that it is the responsibility of the umma to subjugate unbelievers under the rule of Sharia. Can Peters point to a sect or school that ever existed in any period of Islamic history that represents the Islam that moderates must "recapture"? Perhaps the Mutazilites? If so, can he explain how a modern revival of such a movement would escape the charges of Islamic heterodoxy that scuttled it in the first place?
But a rotten core of American extremists is out to make it harder for them.
The most repugnant trend in the American shouting match that passes for a debate on the struggle with Islamist terrorism isn't the irresponsible nonsense on the left - destructive though that is. The really ugly "domestic insurgency" is among right-wing extremists bent on discrediting honorable conservatism.
How? By insisting that Islam can never reform, that the violent conquest and subjugation of unbelievers is the faith's primary agenda - and, when you read between the lines, that all Muslims are evil and subhuman.
Here is Peters is setting up straw men, blurring distinctions and drawing unnecessary conclusions. I have never said that "Islam can never reform or that violent conquest and subjugation of unbelievers is the faith's primary agenda," and I certainly have never stated or implied in any way that "all Muslims are evil and subhuman." I have said, of course, that Islamic reform will be extraordinarily difficult, because of the closing of the gates of ijtihad, the understanding of the nature of the Qur'an, and other issues. I have also pointed out, as I said above, that violent conquest and subjugation of unbelievers is an element of the teaching of all Islamic sects (except the Ahmadiyya, who are persecuted as heretics as a result). This is simply a question of fact. Its truth or falsehood can be established by anyone who examines the teachings of the sects and madhahib. I invite all to do so -- and if you do, you will see that I am stating this accurately. Does this constitute the "primary agenda" of Islam? No. At some times and among some groups it has been central, but at other times and among others it has been for certain periods of time deemphasized almost to non-existence.
Above all, does the existence of this doctrine mean that "all Muslims are evil and subhuman"? That's just ridiculous. The existence of any religious doctrine, even if someone thinks it is false and wicked, doesn't make all those who hold it evil and subhuman. Those who are killing the innocent, or helping those who are killing the innocent, are certainly evil, if not subhuman. But within Islam, as within every belief tradition, there is a spectrum of knowledge and fervor.
I have never said or implied that all Muslims are evil or subhuman because of the doctrines of Islam, and neither has anyone else with even the smallest amount of awareness of human nature. If Peters is referring to me or anyone else who has published on Islam and terror -- Trifkovic, Bostom, Ibn Warraq, Bat Ye'or, or anyone else -- he would be hard-pressed to substantiate this outlandish charge from anything any of us has actually said or written.
I've received no end of e-mails and letters seeking to "enlighten" me about the insidious nature of Islam. Convinced that I'm naive because I defend American Muslims and refuse to "see" that Islam is 100 percent evil, the writers warn that I'm a foolish "dhimmi," blind to the conspiratorial nature of Islam.
Here again, he is just setting up a straw man. Let him document from any of the writers I named above any of these statements, or name these evil people he's talking about.
Web sites list no end of extracts from historical documents and Islamic jurisprudence "proving" that holy war against Christians and Jews is the alpha and omega of the Muslim faith. The message between the lines: Muslims are Untermenschen.
Web sites, eh? Yes, I have here at Jihad Watch on many occasions provided extracts from "historical documents" like the Qur'an and the approved hadith collections, as well as from Islamic jurisprudence, "proving" that holy war against Christians and Jews is part of (not the "alpha and omega of") the Islamic faith. You talkin' to me, Ralph? If so, come out from that hiding place and show me where I ever implied that "Muslims are Untermenschen." Or show me that I have misused these texts, since you appear to believe that Islam doesn't really teach these things. I'll be right here, at email@example.com.
We've been here before, folks. Bigotry is bigotry - even when disguised as patriotism. And, invariably, the haters fantasizing about a merciless Crusade never bothered to serve in our military (Hey, guys, there's still time to join. Lay your backsides on the line - and send your kids!).
It's time for our own fanatics to look in the mirror. Hard. (And stop sending me your trash. I'll never sign up for your "Protocols of the Elders of Mecca." You're just the Ku Klux Klan with higher-thread-count sheets.)
As for the books and Web sites listing all those passages encouraging violence against the infidel, well, we could fill entire libraries with bloody-minded texts from the Christian past. And as a believing Christian, I must acknowledge that there's nothing in the Koran as merciless as God's behavior in the Book of Joshua.
Sure, Ralph. That's why there's a global terrorist movement of Christians committing violent acts and justifying them by quoting the Book of Joshua.
Peters' Assumption #2: Christianity and Islam are equally violent in their core texts (or maybe Christianity is more violent) and equally capable of inspiring violent fanaticism. This, of course, is a deeply held belief among many, many people. And like Peters, many of those people apparently believe that it would be a species of bigotry to suggest that Islam is more likely to inspire violence than Christianity. But here again, this is simply a question of fact. The Bible contains no open-ended, universal command to make war against and subjugate unbelievers, a la Qur'an 9:29. Muhammad commanded his followers to wage war against unbelievers who refused to convert to Islam, and to subjugate them as dhimmis (Sahih Muslim 4294). When did Jesus ever say anything like that?
Another trait common among those warning us that Islam is innately evil is that few have spent any time in the Muslim world. Well, I have. While the Middle East leaves me ever more despairing of its future, elsewhere, from Senegal to Sulawesi, from Delhi to Dearborn, I've seen no end of vibrant, humane, hopeful currents in the Muslim faith.
Well, Ralph, I've spent time in the Muslim world too. And everywhere I see cultural Islam in retreat and jihad advancing -- even in Dearborn, which I didn't realize until you just told me was part of the Muslim world. But anyway, there are reasons for the resurgence of the jihad ideology -- notably, the ability of jihadists to point to the Qur'an and Sunnah to justify their positions. But I expect you would just call them "bigotry."
As I have said many times, I am all for encouraging and working with moderate Muslims. But for their moderation to be effective, they have to confront, repudiate, and help other Muslims to repudiate the elements of Islam that are giving rise to violent fanaticism. Most self-proclaimed moderates instead simply deny those elements exist, while the mujahedin continue to use those same elements to recruit new members. And now Ralph Peters, in his fog of confusion, has just contributed to that destructive denial.