The New York Sun has been generally worthwhile reading for its jihad coverage — at least compared to the ridiculous obfuscations and red herrings purveyed by the behemoths of the mainstream media — but now The Sun has shown itself to be just another tiresome mouthpiece of the oft-discredited conventional wisdom, publishing an astonishingly ignorant and irresponsible review of Oriana Fallaci’s The Force of Reason: Ira Stoll’s “The Faith of an Atheist.”
Encountering a pro-American European journalist who writes passionately and in chilling detail of the threat to the West from the rise of Islam in Europe, one is tempted to be supportive. But in her new book, “The Force of Reason” (Rizzoli, 307 pages, $19.95), Oriana Fallaci strains the good will of even the most sympathetic reader.
How? By typographical errors, for pete’s sake. Emblematic of the frivolousness of this review is the fact that we are a world on the brink of war, and Ira Stoll is so exercised about some misplaced hyphens that he considers them noteworthy enough to mention at the very top of his review:
Never mind the eccentric way this volume has been published by Rizzoli, which seems not to have English language typesetting software in house. (In the first few pages of the book, both the words “have” – “have”- and “whore” – “who-re” – are hyphenated, as if they were being pronounced in a bad Italian accent.)
But then Stoll gets to the real problems he perceives with the book:
The more serious problem is the sweeping nature of her condemnation of Islam and Muslims. She faults them for the fact that “they breed like rats”; for requiring their meat to be slaughtered in a “barbaric” manner she says is similar to kosher butchery; for having their own schools, hospitals, and cemeteries; for immigrating; and for wanting accommodation of their religious holidays and Sabbath in schools and workplaces.
Much of her complaint about Islam, in other words, might as well be directed at Orthodox Jews, and a good deal of it at American Catholics. Ms. Fallaci’s cry of alarm – “Wake up, West, wake up! They have declared war on us, we are at war! And in war we must fight” – rings less alarmingly when it turns out that what she’s alarmed about is religions having their own cemeteries. Anyone familiar with the graveyard behind the Congregational church in any traditional New England town – or, for that matter, the Trinity Church graveyard in Lower Manhattan – realizes that, in itself, isn’t much of a threat at all.
This is disingenuous. Fallaci isn’t alarmed about cemeteries, and I expect that Ira Stoll knows that full well if he has actually read The Force of Reason. The cemeteries are just a symptom of a much larger problem: large numbers of Muslims are immigrating to Europe without any intention of accepting the values and principles of the societies to which they are coming. Instead, they are hoping to remake those societies by ultimately imposing Sharia upon them. Are there Muslims who oppose this agenda? Of course. But they are not organized, vocal, or likely to prevail against their supremacy-minded coreligionists.
Ms. Fallaci makes clear that her aversion is not to Islamist terrorism alone or to Islamic extremism but to Islam and Muslims in general. “Moderate Islam does not exist,” she writes, calling it “an illusion,” an invention of naive Westerners.
This is undermined at least in part by her own reporting, which includes an interview she had in 1975 with the Saudi oil minister, who offered her champagne from his cellar and invited her to accompany him to Mecca, notwithstanding the strictures of Islam against alcohol and against non-Muslims visiting Mecca.
All right. Because Fallaci was offered champagne and a trip to Mecca by a Saudi, therefore moderate Islam exists? Stoll is confusing, or hoping we will confuse, laxity in Islamic observance with the existence of an actual Muslim group or tradition that does not teach Islamic supremacism and the subjugation of the infidel.
Of course there are millions of Muslims who don’t follow the teachings of Islam to the letter. There is a spectrum of fervor and practice in Islam as there is in all religious traditions (and in every group of every kind, for that matter). They will never fight jihad. There are even some Muslims who oppose these ideas and would like to see them definitively rejected. But none of that changes the fact that jihadists today can point to teachings that are firmly rooted in the Qur’an and Sunnah to justify their actions.
The existence of moderate (or, in this case, simply lax) Muslims does not establish the existence of moderate Islam. There are eight madhahib, or schools of Islamic jurisprudence. Every one of them teaches that the Islamic social order, as delineated by Islamic law, must ultimately be imposed over the whole world, and that Muslims must fight for this. This will involve institutionalized discrimination against non-Muslims and women. I do not consider that a “moderate” idea. The only Muslim groups that reject these ideas, such as, notably, the Ahmadiyyas, are reviled and persecuted as heretics by members of mainstream Muslim sects.
As for Ms. Fallaci’s claim that “95% of Muslims reject freedom and democracy,” it’s just false, as demonstrated by the remarkable turnout in repeated Iraqi elections and in the fact that so many brave Iraqi troops have been willing to risk their lives and die fighting the insurgency there. They are fighting for precisely freedom and democracy….
Stoll does not, of course, mention the fact that the Iraqis drafted a Constitution that mandates Sharia as the law of the land, rendering hollow — at least for non-Muslims and women — his claim that they chose freedom. Democracy? Sure — for Shi’ites. The Shi’a supported the democratic process with great enthusiasm because they calculated that it would bring them to power. The Sunnis, for the same reason, were less enthusiastic. Is Stoll even aware of this tension and interplay? Does he recognize the implications of the Sharia provision in the Iraqi Constitution? I doubt it.
I am disappointed that The Sun has chosen to print such a silly and substanceless review of such an important book. Perhaps its editors have given up on defending against the jihad and are now looking for approval and acceptance from the corrupt and wrongheaded journalistic mainstream. Good luck with that.