By the way, Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch has replied to my columns and has also challenged me to a debate, in which I have no intention of engaging. I will, however, reply to two points.
On the subject of Fallaci’s failure to distinguish between Islamic terroists [sic] and ” Somali vendors of fake designer bags who urinate on the street corners of Italy’s great cities,” Spencer has this to say:
There are several problems with this. One is that the Somali vendors and other Muslims in the West have not made any serious attempt to root jihad terrorists out of their ranks. Another is that such people as Young’s Somali vendor do exist, and while they are not members of terrorist groups, they are manifesting disrespect for the country and culture to which they have come. Is Fallaci wrong to be indignant about that? Such disrespect, of course, stems from the same sources as jihadism: contempt for the infidel and for jahili society, the non-Islamic society of ignorance and impurity. Thus one feeds into the other.
Point one: If Spencer or Fallaci know of any instances of terrorists in the ranks of Somali street vendors, let’s have them.
That was not my point, of course. But it’s an interesting response from Young. Does Cathy Young not know that jihadists have emerged from the ranks of ordinary, peaceful, law-abiding Muslims in Western countries? Raed Hijazi was a cab driver in Boston. Maher Hawash was a highly respected Intel executive. Sami Al-Arian was a college professor. Does she really think it inconceivable that a Somali street vendor could become a terrorist? On what grounds?
Point two — public urination as a mini-jihad — doesn’t really merit an answer, but I’ll answer anyway. Apparently, in the world according to Spencer and Fallaci, peeing on street corners and in other public places is a behavior peculiar to Muslim immigrants. (Has either of them ever been to New York?) As it happens, I have travelled in Italy a lot and have seen a lot of the Somali street vendors. On two occasions, I have seen men urinating in the street. Neither of them was a Somali or a Muslim.
Here Young veers sharply toward the ridiculous. Does the existence of public urination among non-Muslims somehow mean that public urination by Muslims is not ever and cannot be an expression of contempt for infidel society? Even when that urination targets landmarks of that society, as Fallaci has documented?
Spencer also challenges my assertion that “Christian doctrine for centuries mandated Christian rule by force,” and writes:
She should produce such a doctrine, but she can’t, because it doesn’t exist.
Oh yeah? Well, how about the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), which codified the idea of heresy as a high crime? See, also, this article in First Things in which conservative Catholic Michael Novak discusses Thomas Aquinas’ view of heresy as a capital crime. (Aquinas recommends toleration for the religious practices of Muslims and Jews, but so does Islam with regard to Jews and Christians.) Novak quotes historian David Abulafia on the religious codes of the time:
Heresy, indeed, is presented as treason. Those who deny the articles of the Catholic faith implicitly deny the claims of rulers to derive their authority from God. They are enemies not merely of God and of the souls of individuals, but of the social fabric. Their questioning of religious truth involves a questioning of the monarch’s command over the law; as enemies of the law, they are its legitimate targets, and the position of primacy accorded to legislation against heretics is thus entirely proper.
Sounds a lot like “Christian rule by force” to me.
Here Young is confusing two possible meanings of “rule by force.” I was referring to the imperialist Islamic jihad doctrine, which mandates that Muslims must extend the rule of the Islamic social order by force; Christianity has no such imperialistic doctrine, and never has. The punishment of heretics by the Christian state, which is not a constant of Christian history or theology the way jihad supremacism is a constant of Islamic history and theology, is an internal, not an outward, imperialistic matter. Thus it is no analogy with jihad at all.
According to Spencer, I’m a “dhimmi,” a term traditionally used to denote Christians and Jews who lived under Islamic rule and enjoyed certain rights but were relgated to second-class status (and nowadays used by certain “anti-jihadists” to denote any non-Muslim they regard as too soft on Islam).
Yes, that she is.
Well, considering JihadWatch.com puts Bernard Lewis, the eminent historian of Islam who warned about the danger of Islamic radicalism all the way back in 1990, in the same category, I think I’m in good company.
You’ll see that to support this, Young has linked to Hugh Fitzgerald’s article, “Bernard Lewis and his influence,” which is mildly critical of Lewis for his inaccuracy about suicide bombing and his support of the Oslo accords. However, Hugh never calls Lewis a dhimmi — not in this article or anywhere else. I called Cathy Young a dhimmi, in the sense of a Western analyst who uncritically accepts distortions and half-truths about Islam in a misguided attempt to appear non-bigoted and broad-minded, and who tars those in the resistance to jihad with the same empty and politically motivated charges of bigotry that the jihadists and their allies use so effectively. I stand by that. But there is no way that applies to Bernard Lewis, and we have never said so — and Young is wrong to suggest otherwise.
Spencer wants to debate me, apparently, in order to demonstrate that he knows more about Islamic teachings and history than I do. And he probably does. However, I know bigotry when I see it, and Spencer’s argument about public urination as a manifestation of the Muslim peril seals the deal as far as I’m concerned. I notice that JihadWatch.com issued no invitation to a debate to Bernard Lewis when targeting him for their smear. For Spencer vs. Lewis, I would definitely tune in.
Actually, it doesn’t make the slightest difference to anything whether Young or I know more about Islamic teachings and history. She asserted in Reason magazine that I don’t know anything more about Islam than she does; I don’t know where she got that idea, but ultimately it’s irrelevant. And that’s not why I challenged her to a debate. The point of debating her would be to demonstrate certain important facts about Islam, jihad and dhimmitude. Nor would I fear to debate Bernard Lewis. I agree with him on almost everything, and he knows vastly more about Islam than I do, but the points on which we disagree — which chiefly involve the nature and significance of dhimmitude and the Islamic foundations for suicide bombing — I am not afraid to discuss publicly with him or anyone. I am sure of my ground.
So I won’t be debating Spencer on his site, though I have to say I was highly amused by one of his commenters who suggested that my deplorable views on “Islamophobia” are due to the fact that (1) I’m a non-Jew (which would come as a big surprise to my Israeli relatives — and, by the way, isn’t this argument merely a reversal of the idea that Jewish commentators can’t be fair when writing about Islam or the Middle East?), and (2) I’m a woman, and a lot of women secretly yearn for male power, and hence I am probably drawn to the male dominance represented by Islam. (Which is so true.)
I’m not going to respond to what she says about commenters here. Comments are unmoderated. As I said in my initial response to her, let her establish that I believe what the comments said from my own writings. But of course, that she cannot do.
She concludes with this little calumny:
…honesty about the harsher and darker aspects of Islam and Islamic history is not the same as tarring all of Islam with the same brush and denying that the moderate strands even exist.
Yesterday I wrote to her, saying, “I’ve never done that. You are speaking without knowledge.” She replied: “Mr. Spencer: Show me any evidence to the contrary on your site and I will link to it.” So I sent her this recent link — but she has not yet posted it at her site as promised.
Of course, anyone who actually reads this site knows that I have discussed (and Hugh Fitzgerald has as well) the issue of moderate Muslims and moderate Islam at great length, again and again. Here are just a few examples:
On assertions without evidence