The headline of this Chicago Tribune story, which Charles of LGF kindly brought to my attention, is “After Jewish outcry, scholar bows out of testifying for imam.” As Charles points out, it is evidence of media blinkers and dhimmitude for the Trib to assume that only Jews could possibly be offended by Scott Alexander’s remarks. I myself am not Jewish, and I find it appalling that the Trib’s lead sentence would identify Alexander as “a scholar of Islam who works to bridge the divide between Chicago’s Muslims and Jews.” Why? Consider what else the article says:
In one of the statements submitted to the court, Alexander provided an explanation for some incendiary language used by Damra.
At a 1991 Chicago rally, the imam called for “directing all the rifles at the first and last enemy of the Islamic nation and that is the sons of monkeys and pigs, the Jews.”
Alexander, 42, serving as an expert witness for the defense, stated that Damra’s remarks were part of the religious and political rhetoric used by Palestinians opposed to the Israeli occupation to draw supporters to their cause.
“As unquestionably hate-filled and thus morally reprehensible as such language is, when Palestinians refer to Jews as `descended from apes and swine,’ or encourage support for those who `kill Jews,’ they do so with the reasonably justifiable self-image of victim and persecuted, not of victimizer and persecutor,” Alexander wrote in the summary of his proposed testimony.
Is that so? So Jews are not being victimized and persecuted by those who call them apes and pigs? Has Alexander read a newspaper in the last five years?
In his own defense, Alexander dug the hole deeper:
Alexander said he was not endorsing Damra’s language, but was trying to provide a deeper understanding, based on the Koran and the ideas of Islamic theologians, of why a Palestinian opposed to the Israeli occupation would use violent language.
“I tried to emphasize the vile nature of the language,” Alexander said. “I was asked to testify whether there were any Palestinian contexts in which this hateful and violent language would not be construed as persecution.”
Alexander said he found in the teachings of Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian ideologue and inspiration behind the current radical Islamic movement, that these curses are used to name oppressors.
“This is evidence that there might be people who use hateful and violent language in their minds to name those they perceive to be the oppressor,” he said.
“This is not me talking, this is Qutb,” he added.
I profile Qutb in Onward Muslim Soldiers, and it’s true: nearly 40 years after his death, he remains an “inspiration behind the current radical Islamic movement.” But what mental gymnastics Alexander employed to arrive at the conclusion that Qutb used this hateful language to “name the oppressor,” as opposed to persecuting non-Muslims, I can’t imagine. Qutb called for Muslims to wage war against non-Muslims. It would seem that one could only see that as a struggle of the oppressed against the oppressor if one identified fully with the Muslim perspective. And so we arrive at what Charles has aptly dubbed “the definition of a dhimmi.”
Not surprisingly, another infamous dhimmi scholar agrees with Alexander:
John Esposito, a professor at Georgetown University and a leading Islamic scholar, said Alexander’s explanation was “very accurate.”
“Alexander is not espousing or agreeing with this language but simply saying how the holy texts in Islam are used and abused,” Esposito said.
That’s fine: Alexander may indeed not be agreeing. But the language he used suggests otherwise, and he is making a distinction without a difference. Qutb’s naming of the oppressor has led to innumerable acts of violence by Muslims against Jews not only in Israel, but around the world. For Damra to use the same language suggests his approval of such violence, and for Alexander to invoke Qutb to try to establish that such language can be used in a non-violent context is beyond ludicrous.