Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald considers Dean Esmay’s invocation of loyal Muslim soldiers in the U.S. Military:
Dean Esmay has recently made much of “Muslim soldiers” in the American army.
Let’s talk about those soldiers. Let’s start with the one who threw the grenades at sleeping officers, killing two of them, because they were fighting Muslims and he was loyal to the Ummah. There is that Marine who deserted, and then was found, and had that press conference pledging his undying loyalty (ending “Semper Fi”), and then escaped again, and is now somewhere in Lebanon, a deserter and possibly a traitor. There are reports, not confirmed, of a sailor whose communications with others on land purported to volunteer to relay information about the movements of his ship and his shipmates, about which more remains to be known. One wonders if there are other such cases that have not yet come to light — whether in the American or European militaries, or in the American and European police and security forces. And one wonders how much thought is being given to this in NATO — especially if demographic trends continue without any effective attempt to halt and reverse them.
Then there are the handful — does Esmay know how many there are? — of Muslims who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan as soldiers, and who fought perfectly acceptably. Well, how many, exactly? Leave aside the Iraqis who lived in America and had their own reasons — having nothing to do with the protection of Infidels — for removing Saddam Hussein. For that matter, the same is true for Afghanis living in America who wanted to overthrow the Taliban. Tell us how many Muslim-Americans have served honorably in proportion to that population (here it would be best for Muslims if the inflated figures they use for “Muslims in America” were not used — it would put things in an even starker light).
Now, ordinarily when immigrants fight for the United States, the whole immigrant community celebrates them. Their pictures are put in store windows, or on the glass-fronts of barber shops, and so on. Think of World War I and World War II. The Greek, Hungarian, Jewish, Italian, Irish, German names, and the pictures of the soldiers, and the local pride, the stories about them in immigrant newspapers (published in Hungarian, German, Italian, and so on), as a demonstration of loyalty, and no doubt, as well, in the clear hope that this would demonstrate that they were “real” Americans who had earned their citizenship.
Perhaps the most astonishing example of this is the 442nd Regiment — consisting entirely of Japanese-Americans. While some of them were put into camps in California, Japanese-American soldiers were determined to prove themselves. Did they? Indeed they did. Everyone knows that that regiment fought all the way up Italy. In fact, the last time I was at Fort Jackson, I visited the museum there and saw bound copies of Stars and Stripes from the Second World War. I opened one at random and found an article about the medals awarded in that most decorated of all regiments during World War II, and the feats of derring-do of those who served in that regiment. Think of what that must have meant, and still means.
Now look at the handful of those Muslim soldiers. Celebrated? Do you have CAIR or any Muslim group celebrating any of these soldiers? Suggesting that they should be emulated? Is anyone suggesting that Muslims should be in the forefront of those in the American military fighting what are regarded as threats to the United States, in the Middle East, or Pakistan or Afghanistan? Any hint that those soldiers would find themselves heroes in Muslim communities, with they and their families made much of by fellow Muslims, just the way those in the 442nd Regiment were? Are their pictures in shop windows? Do Arabic or Urdu-language newspapers have articles celebrating them in their American uniforms, in the American military? Is there any hope that they will come home, those few, richly bemedalled, with feats similar to those perhaps of the members of the 442nd, in order to put paid to all kinds of worries and doubts?
No. There has been none of that.
Why not? Dean Esmay should spend the summer reading, and not merely reading but digesting, the Qur’an and the Hadith (a few hundred, in al-Bukhari and Muslim, will do). He should also take care to comprehend how Muslims interpret, or fail to interpret, the Qur’an. Without studying abrogation, without understanding the real meaning of a phrase (including something as seemingly innocuous as “strive in the path of Allah,” which is not innocuous at all), and without studying how, over 1350 years, Muslims took those phrases, and what they made of them, one cannot fully understand Islam. See what Western scholars of Islam from a dozen countries, who had spent their entire lives immersed in the study of Islam and Jihad-conquest, made of the doctrine of Jihad and its undeniable sources. Undeniable, that is, except to those who have “really nice Muslim friends” who are “as loyal as they come” (or other missing-the-point credulity for which the rest of us should not be expected to pay, or to risk our lives, so that Mr. Esmay can feel good about himself, and his own self-congratulatory sense of fair play and the American way that overlooks so much of consequence.
The invocation by some of their “really nice Muslim friends” in what should be sober discussions of Islam is just one more example of that blend of ignorance, mental laziness (which in part explains the failure to correct such ignorance), and a deep desire not to discover anything disturbing that might tend to trouble a serene world-view (which is the other part that explains). Non-Muslim apologists for Islam, relying heavily on anecdotal evidence about a colleague or a neighbor who is perfectly affable and friendly and exhibits none of those features which some ascribe to those who take their Islam seriously, are as silly as those Harvard graduates who listened to Fritzi Hanfstaengl, their fellow classmate, explain away Hitler and Nazism, or who might have taken Oskar Schindler for a typical member of the Nazi Party. Or those who, in reaching conclusions about Stalin, the Red Army, and the antisemitism of the “Doctors’s Plot” (delo vrachej), might have been relieved by the assurances of Ilya Ehrenburg, or two decades later, might have thought that that nice Andrey Sakharov was a typical Soviet weapons scientist.
And so that nice roommate of your son, the one whose father is a zamindar in Pakistan, or a rich Kuwaiti with a flat in London he has invited you to stay in for a few weeks as his guest — well, isn’t it on that basis that too many form their opinions about Islam? Confusing personal charm and favors of a very few with this belief-system as it has been received, and is being received, by nearly a billion people?
Of course, many in Washington, whose duty it is both to instruct and protect us, have been receivers of just such largesse for many decades. That is certainly one of the reasons why Islam has not been understood, why Saudi Arabia is routinely depicted as our “staunch ally,” and why no intelligent energy policy was ever constructed to replace the faith in the kindness of those Saudi strangers.
It is maddening to see people again and again refusing to read the texts or the scholars of Islam — those who wrote before 1960 or so. That was when the inhibitions and self-censorship began, and the oil money began to have an effect on academic centers, departments, and individual professors, everywhere. Instead, non-Muslims rely on those Muslims in the West, who are highly educated and often adept at knowing exactly how to present a case (taqiyya-and-tu-quoque) to those who collaborate in their own fooling.
Those who managed to unlock those mind-forged manacles and who tell us about them — Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Anwar Shaikh, Ali Sina, Azam Kamguian, and tens of thousands of others (and who knows how many hundreds of thousands long to be able to openly declare their apostasy) — would no doubt agree with the lapidary formulation of Ibn Warraq that “there are moderate Muslims. Islam itself is not moderate.” Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who by all accounts (which have just reached me), did not give an inch at Harvard yesterday when Muslim questioners offered the usual tu-quoque-and-taqiyya blend at question time, is herself perfectly sympathetic to the nostalgia of “cultural” Muslims — indeed, she shares some of it herself. But she has no time — she made that clear — for those people who always seem slightly off, the ones who are Westerners but became Muslims and who seem determined to hold on to their own private Islam rather than admit that just perhaps, Rumi and mystical love poetry and the Five Pillars are not the half of it.
Nor does she have much inward patience (outwardly she was, I am told, the soul of courtesy) with those Muslims who, either out of ignorance or out of a deliberate mental choice to ignore much of what Islam teaches, or who simply don’t want such matters discussed by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and others in front of Infidels (it would hurt, you see, the “image” of Islam) claim in public, whether they believe it or not, that Islam is entirely inoffensive. They make their unwary Infidel listeners forget, for a minute, a week, or a decade, what really is preached and repeated in the sermons (khutaba), in the press, on the airwaves, in those conversations filled with allusions to Allah and to the life of Muhammad — for Islamic societies are suffused with such references and allusions.
It is silly to judge Islam on the basis of a colleague in a computer company, who may indeed be unobservant, or lax in his own belief (or may not — you don’t know), but who may insist that “his” Islam is the real one, not the Islam of the hundreds of millions who listen to Al-Qaradawi, to Sheikh Tantawi or whoever is presently the Sheikh al-Azhar, to the late Sheikh Bin Baz and his successors and followers in Saudi Arabia, or of those who still remember fondly, and miss terribly, the late Ayatollah Khomeini — whose Islam, one can be sure, is a lot more representative than what someone living in an Infidel society, dependent on Infidel good will for everything, is likely to reveal. Why should he? Were you a Muslim, would you?
Those who by dint of great effort unlocked those mind-forged manacles have to have their say. They know perfectly well they are not representative of a vast movement, but perhaps someday they will be. They have no reason to mislead about what those texts tell Believers to believe, and what ordinary Muslims have, over many centuries, taken those texts, believed to be immutable, to mean. Furthermore, there is more than just the texts. There are, arising from them, a host of attitudes, toward Infidels and women, that do not bode well. Even those who seldom or never attend a mosque will be affected by such attitudes, and by what pervades or suffuses Muslim societies — what might be called that set of Islamic allusions and references that form what might be called the “atmospherics” of Islamic societies, whether in Dar al-Islam or in Dar al-Harb. Some may not need to become apostates.
No doubt there are “Muslim-for-identification-purposes-only” Muslims who, for all kinds of reasons — filial piety or fear being two — choose not to declare themselves as have Ibn Warraq, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ali Sina, and many others.
We know what real Believers think of them, even if the fierceness of their hatred has to be muted among Infidels. Instead of demanding physical punishment, they behave, whenever confronted with Ibn Warraq or Ayaan Hirsi Ali, as if these people know nothing about Islam.
Yes, they insist — what does Ayaan Hirsi Ali know about Islam? What does Ibn Warraq know? What does Ali Sina know? What do tens of thousands of intelligent apostates know about Islam? The minute they leave Islam, every single Qur’anic verse they learned in madrasas (which both Ibn Warraq and Ayaan Hirsi Ali attended), every single Hadith they grew up with, magically disappears from their heads. One minute before they declare their apostasy, they know all about Islam. The minute they declare that apostasy, they cease to know a thing about Islam.