Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald discusses loyalty to the umma and loyalty to the United States in light of the recent case involving Muslims praying in a restricted area at a football game:
“I’m as American as apple pie…”
— a Muslim in America, under suspicion, from this news item
This self-confident assertion, presented both as self-evident and as immune to criticism, needs to be examined. Many will be reluctant to do so. They will find it churlish even to think that people who live in America, or who are born in America, may be defined as incapable, because of their belief-system, of sharing in any way in what makes America America. But if one’s belief-system is the most important thing in one’s life, and if that belief-system insists not on pluralism but on the dominance of Islam, and instructs Believers that the main division in the world is that between the Believer (in Islam) and the Infidel, and that the loyalty of Believers is owed only to the umma al-Islamiyya, and certainly not to any Infidel nation-state or to one’s fellow citizens should they be Infidels, then any hesitation in discussing this matter should be overcome.
No one wants to be like the hideous Martin Dies or hideous-er Joseph McCarthy; the idea of defining “American” so as to exclude seems so — un-American. But fear of evoking the idiots of yore on the House Un-American Activities Committee should not permanently paralyze.
In 1943 the War Board called up the writer E. B. White to ask if he could define “democracy.” Prompted by this, he wrote a little essay for The New Yorker that at this moment may seem a little too sentimental for some, but did not sound that way to readers in 1943.
Here is what E. B. White wrote:
“Surely the Board knows what democracy is. It is the line that forms on the right. It is the don’t in don’t shove. It is the hole in the stuffed shirt through which the sawdust trickles; it is the dent in the high hat. Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time. It is the feeling of privacy in voting booths, the feeling of communion in libraries, the feeling of vitality everywhere. Democracy is a letter to the editor. Democracy is the score at the beginning of the ninth. It is an idea which hasn’t been disproved yet, a song the words of which have not gone bad. It’s the mustard on the hot dog and the cream in the rationed coffee. Democracy is a request from the War Board, in the middle of a morning in the middle of a war, wanting to know what democracy is.”
How can the spirit of this E. B. White piece from 1943 (in the middle of the greatest war in history) ever be properly conveyed to those would-be Muslim “reformers” and “democrats” who are now busy avoiding the issue of Islam, and concentrating on the outward and visible signs of democracy instead of the real thing?
Before World War I, at the turn of the century, some horses in Elberfeld, Germany caused quite a stir. They were believed by the credulous public capable of performing arithmetic calculations. By beating their hooves, they seemed able to calculate even cube roots. In reality, they were merely beating their hooves to the barely perceptible nods of their unscrupulous trainers von Osten and, later, Krall. Americans in Iraq are not unscrupulous. In fact, American foreign policy makers are far too naive and idealistic, and one often wishes they would be just a little less absurdly scrupulous. But as one sees those Iraqi politicians dithering in Baghdad, and beating their figurative hooves to show that they can perform simple calculations about “democracy,” one is put in mind, involuntarily and momentarily, of those Elberfeld horses.
Muslim “reformers” bandy about not only the word “democracy” but, all of a sudden, the word “pluralism” as well — as in, “Islam believes in ‘pluralism.–. Though of course Islam does not permit real “pluralism,” Muslims know it has something to do with the recognition of group rights, and that is a conception that they find both useful for their own purposes (in protecting and promoting Islam in Infidel lands) and not terribly threatening at present (for there is no chance that non-Muslims in Muslim countries will ever enjoy full equality, legal and societal).
But what is almost beyond the comprehension of all but the most advanced in the Muslim world is the emphasis in the West on the rights of the individual — on the whole idea that the collective or “umma” is suspect.
If one thing must be asked of so-called Muslim reformers in and out of the Middle East, and in the United States and other Infidel countries, it is this: not where do you stand on women (Shirin Ebadi fights for women’s rights, and claims absurdly that their denial “has nothing to do with Islam”), not where do you stand on “democracy” (head-counting might be just fine with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt), but where do you stand on the right of an individual born into Islam to leave Islam for whatever he chooses — another religion, or no religion — without any consequences whatsoever?
Any Muslim presenting himself as the face of a New, Improved Islam who does not answer that question in straightforward fashion — and also in a way that does not show mental reservation (i.e. well it is ok in the West, but not for Muslims in Muslim countries) — can simply be dismissed as a fraud.
Those who insist on remaining devout Believers in this particular belief-system, and not merely describing themselves as merely “cultural Muslims” (as a way to acknowledge a certain background, and yet to express one’s distancing from the belief-system of Islam” without necessarily going into why one insists on the continued identification, or what it is about Islam that proved, in the end, to be impossible to accept) have the burden of proof.
Those who have bothered to look into or study Islam, its tenets, and the attitudes to which those tenets naturally give rise, have reason to be alarmed by anyone who claims to be a Muslim, for that implies a host of attitudes towards non-Muslims that cannot be denied — well, yes, actually they can be denied, and are denied by apologists for Islam every day. But that is all based on the hope that the listeners will know little about Islam and be fooled, or want to be fooled. If a Muslim who is Muslim enough — i.e. not a “Muslim-for-identification-purposes-only” Muslim, but one who wears the regulation beard, and prays even at a football stadium — tells us that he is “as American as apple pie,” we should not be afraid to ask him some questions. Does he believe in “pluralism” — and not just as a temporary measure to ensure the safety of Islam until such time as Islam becomes powerful enough to dominate? Does he believe that non-Muslims should be treated in Muslim-dominated places as inferior, i.e. as dhimmis? Does he believe in freedom of conscience for Muslims who might wish to abandon Islam? Does he think that women should be given precisely the same legal rights as men? Does he think that Muslims who are “as American as apple pie” should owe an allegiance to the American nation-state that is superior to any felt loyalty to fellow members of the umma al-Islamiyya? He should be asked a whole series of questions which, if answered truthfully (vaste programme!), would quickly show that the tenets of Islam flatly contradict the rights of the individual that are part of the American system, that make America America. Someone born and raised in the United States, and yet in 1943 (the year in which E. B. White wrote that essay) harbored a secret desire for a Nazi victory and felt his true loyalty to be to the armies of Nazi Germany, threatening liberal democracy everywhere — well, that person might be called an “American citizen,” but no one in 1943 (or later) would have accepted his own designation of himself as “American as apple pie.”
Those interested in finding out about the pro-Nazis within this country who kept proclaiming their all-Americanness on every occasion, even as their beliefs showed that they could not possibly be loyal to what America is all about, should find a copy of John Roy Carlson’s Under Cover. It was a bestseller and was read by many hundreds of thousands in the middle of the same mornings, in the middle of the same war, as the one in which E. B. White got his phone call from the War Board, and wrote his reply.