Dinesh D'Souza's arrogance, in presuming to write about matters that he could not possibly have studied, arrogance about the most important matters, disqualifies him from ever again being taken seriously about anything.
His dreamy belief that Islamic terrorism dates back to 1979 and the Ayatollah Khomeini returning from Neauphle-le-chateau to Teheran, ignores, as Robert Spencer mentions here, the entire history of terrorism directed against Israel, Israel as a state, and even before it was a state, against the Jews who lived in what was, historically, the Land of Israel. D'Souza ignores the terrorism used against the French in Algeria. (Incidentally, apparently Bush is reading Alistair Horne, who got so much wrong in his history of that conflict, because Henry Kissinger, ever the Islam-avoider, recommended his book to Bush as a guide to the situation in Iraq. Yet a moment's thought would show ten ways in which the situations are different. Horne's book refuses to recognize the centrality of Islam in the Algerian war against the Infidels, who included not only the French, but also all kinds of other non-Muslims -- Spanish, Italians, Jews -- who had been living for a long time in Algeria and whose only crime was to not be Muslim.)
But more than that, D’Souza ignores the 1350 years of Jihad-conquest, or apparently thinks that because the military means involved did not include bombs on airplanes, those conquests were not Jihad and certainly not terrorism. No, there were no bombs on airplanes during those 1300 years of Jihad-conquest. Nor were there I.E.D.s blowing up Humvees when the Muslims conquered the Middle East and North Africa, or when the Seljuk Turks conquered most of Anatolia and the Ottoman Turks finished the rest of the conquering, nor when Sassanian Persia, or Hindu India, were conquered.
But "striking terror" in the hearts of the enemy was always Muslim war policy, and was practiced even without the particular technologies or techniques used today. Apparently Dinesh D'Souza thinks that that is all that "terrorism" is: not a method, but the precise technologies that go back just a few decades. He might as well suggest that the Muslims have never used propaganda, either, because they lacked, in the old days, audiocassettes, videocassettes, satellite television, and the Internet. That is his level. That is what we are being asked to take seriously.
And then there are the texts. The most obvious apologetics are based on the notion that "everyone does it." All the texts, we are told, are more or less the same. Are they? Are the texts of Judaism and Christianity just as bloodthirsty, just as likely to whip up hatreds and violence, as are the Qur'an and Hadith? We all know that in some of those texts terrible things are written about the ancient Israelites and the Canaanites. But do Jews, have Jews, been going to temple and had rabbis whipping them up so that as they leave those temples they grab non-Jews yelling "kill the Cananites"? Has that been a feature of Judaism for the past hundred years? Thousand years? Two thousand years? It is nonsense to compare the texts of either of the prior two monotheisms with those of Islam. Dinesh D'Souza has not read Arthur Jeffery, Sir William Muir, Willem Noldeke. He has not read Snouck Hurgronje or St. Clair Tisdall or Joseph Schacht or Antoine Fattal. He has not read K. S. Lal, or any of the other Indian historians who might provide him with figures on how many Hindu victims -- 60-70 million of them -- were murdered by Muslims, and the murdering only stopped, as did the forced conversions, when it was realized that if every Hindu disappeared, then so too would those who could pay the Jizyah.
And his airy allusion to the possibilities of "selective quotation" suggests that he thinks that that is all that is worrisome in Islam, when the Qur'an is riddled with Jihad verses, and when the softer suras are essentially cancelled and superseded by the harsher more violent verses. Has Dinesh D'Souza heard about "naskh" or abrogation? And has he taken it seriously? Or has he relied on one of those smiling, plausible Muslim informants who assures him that this doctrine is not used, that it is a figment of the islamophobic imagination -- something concocted in the fervid brain, say, of Ibn Warraq, or Ayaan Hirsi Ali, those crazed interpreters of Islam who know so little, while Dinesh D'Souza knows so very much?
What does Dinesh D'Souza make of the contents of the khutbas, sermons, that are delivered in Bangladesh, after which the Muslims streaming out of the mosque feel inspired enough to beat to death passing Hindus? For that matter, what does he make of the murder of the most peaceful, programmatically peaceful, Buddhists of southern Thailand by Muslims? What does he think of the strange outward flow of non-Muslims, observable everywhere that Muslims now rule where they once did not -- as in the lands that were once part of the Raj and are now known as Pakistan and Bangladesh, where the Hindu percentage of the population is now 10% of what it was in 1947 in Pakistan, and a quarter of what it was in Bangladesh in 1947, and yet, at the same time, the Muslim proportion of India's population has gone steadily up? And what does he think about the steady diminution in the numbers of Christians in Arab lands? And never mind the disappearance of a million Jews who, experiencing pogroms in Cairo and Tripoli and Baghdad, were not about to remain to enjoy the famed "tolerance" of Islam?
Dinesh D'Souza has fallen for that nonsense about "family values" in Islam. He is apparently so offended by the obvious decadence of the Western world that he likes the idea of fine, upstanding people who don't use tattoos or practice body-piercing, and whose children must listen to their parents -- as long as those parents are Muslim. If you convert to Islam, however, you need not have any respect for your non-Muslim parents who have been Left Behind. In the world of Dinesh D'Souza, a humorless and self-preening little world, some kinds of "morality" are accepted -- presumably the official Muslim hatred for homosexuality appeals to straight-laced Dinesh D'Souza -- but others are not.
What does Dinesh D'Souza find "moral" in polygamy, or in the contemptible treatment of women, not least in their inability to make a rape charge stick, or in the unequal punishments for women and men accused of sexual misconduct? How does he like lapidation as a form of execution? And the four male witnesses rule in cases of rape? What kind of "family values" are these? And what about being able to divorce -- for the man -- merely by saying "I divorce you" three times? Does that impress Dinesh D'Souza as an advance on Western ways? Can't one deplore many of the things that go on in the West without embracing or defending Islam?
What does Dinesh D'Souza think of Qutb? He remembers Qutb, doesn't he -- the man who came to America in the late 1940s for two years, the man who was disgusted by those church socials, and above all that hideous and dangerous square-dancing -- "Swing your ladies and dosido, and don't step on your partner's toe"? Does he not realize that it was this, and not Internet pornography or Howard Stern's surpassing vulgarity, that offended and offends Muslims?
The humorlessness ("There is no humor in Islam," said the Ayatollah Khomeini) and joylessness of Islam manifests the phoniness of its "morality," a morality that is phony because it is merely the outward face of hidden decadence. Does Dinesh D'Souze not know that Saudi Arabia, where "morality" on the street is a function of the mutawwa, the Saudi version of religious enforcers for which there are analogues in other Muslim countries with rigorously faith-based legal systems, the real behavior of any Saudi who can get away with it is far more decadent than anything that could be dreamed up by the most decadent Westerners? Has he no idea how Saudis and other rich Arabs behave in the capitals of the West? Does he not know what they all do behind their palace walls in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the U.A.E.? What does he think goes on? And aside from the sexual behavior, what does he make of the camel-racing in which four and five year old boys, Pakistanis for the most part, are tied to the camels, and frequently are severely wounded or killed, and are treated as expendable beings, as are so many non-Arabs all over those horrific countries?
And what does he think is the Muslim attitude toward devout, pious, Orthodox Jews, family values and all -- whether in Antwerp, or Jerusalem, or Williamsburg? Does he think that Muslims are so pleased by the "family values" of these people that they find a natural affinity with them, wish them well, do not wish them harm? Is that what it says in the Qur'an: respect and honor Jews and Christians until such time as they begin to exhibit the features of modern, early 21st century, corrupted Western man, and only then? If so, why are the canonical texts full of inculcated hatred, even murderous hatred, of Jews and Christians who were as devout, as self-effacing, as pious, as full of family values, as a hundred Leagues of Decency together could not possibly observe?
Dinesh D'Souza is in some ways akin to Pat Buchanan. Buchanan's antisemitism prevents him from supporting Israel or understanding that the Lesser Jihad against Israel is no different in kind from the Jihad now being pursued against non-Muslims in Western Europe and elsewhere. In Dinesh D'Souza's case, he seems to have become such a Moralist of the cheapest, most narrow and obvious League-of-Decency kind, that seeing Muslim girls, for example, modestly dressed, has led him to forget all the rest of Islam: the Islam that divides the world between Believer and Infidel.
Part of the sinister missionary work being undertaken by the members of Hizb al Tahrir is devoted to converting prisoners, especially those who are black or Hispanic. They appeal to them by claiming that Islam is all about "social justice." It isn't. It is in the Muslim countries where whoever seizes or inherits power manages to steal much of the country's wealth: think of Mubarak in Egypt. Think of the Hashemites in Jordan (not much wealth, so the CIA has been supplementing, or at least used to, the call-girl bills of the ruler). Think of the al-Saud princes, tens of thousands of them, helping themselves to trillions of dollars of money that rightly belongs to every person in "Saudi" Arabia. And the same is true in Kuwait, in the U.A.E., in Qatar. And in Algeria, and Syria, and Morocco and Pakistan. This business of "social justice" is nonsense, a misunderstanding of the fact that people can attend the same mosque, and prostrate themselves next to someone much richer or much poorer. But that has no effect on political power or the sharing or proper distribution of the national wealth.
Dinesh D'Souza is, on the right, the equivalent of Richard Reid or Jose Padilla or any black radical who converts to Islam or joins the Nation of Islam (which is not strictly orthodox Islam), thinking that this will hasten the day of "social justice."
In Dinesh D'Souza's case, he sees Islam, the true and good and conservative family-values Islam, as the natural ally of all those who are offended by Western decadence. You don't like body-piercing or cocaine sniffing or non-stop sex at some bathhouse? Well, Dinesh D'Souza apparently believes that help is on the way-- help in the form of the inoffensive Qur'an, the innocent Hadith, the mild-mannered "peacemaker" (Karen Armstrong's epithet) Muhammad as described in the Sira.
Dinesh D'Souza -- brother under the skin to Richard Reid. To Jose Padilla. To Mahdi Bray. They joined an imaginary Islam of "social justice." And Dinesh D'Souza defends an imaginary Islam of "family values."
The first two are behind bars (Padilla is awaiting trial). Dinesh D'Souza, however, is published by Doubleday and National Review, and is not being denounced by his colleagues, or sent to permanent Coventry.
When the day of reckoning comes, when those who wrote truthfully and intelligently about Islam, liberal or conservative, are validated in every way, and the assorted "liberals" and "conservatives" who told nonsense and lies about Islam are exposed, then all kinds of things will happen. Many will, or should, lose their Important Positions.
He's a fool, but not a fool to be taken in isolation. His foolishness is that of the self-assured know-nothing, the Podsnap of this New Age, who does not know, and does not wish to know, about all kinds of things, for if he did know, they would Offend Him. Like Podsnap, Dinesh D'Souza has the habit of putting all disagreeables about Islam out of sight, out of mind.
With this book, he should lose any residual respect any one of sense might once have harbored for him. He has lost the right to an audience. He should no longer be given a hearing at National Review or, for that matter, anywhere else that wishes to be taken seriously.
This book is beyond the pale. Beyond all pales.