Jamie Glazov serves up Cream of Dinesh soup in FrontPage today. You can also read my initial responses to Dinesh D’Souza’s disastrously misleading thesis here, here, and here, and Hugh Fitzgerald’s here, here, and here. And the funniest response comes from Jihad Watch News Editor Anne Crockett, here.
Note also Glazov’s invitation to D’Souza to respond to his points whenever he can make the time to do so. It would seem to be a matter of some little moment to address direct, detailed, and well-reasoned challenges to one’s central thesis. I hope he does so soon.
Frontpage Magazine’s guest today is Dinesh D”Souza, the Rishwain Research Scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is the author of several bestselling books, including Illiberal Education, The Virtue of Prosperity, and What’s So Great About America. He is the author of the new book The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11.
Jamie Glazov: Dinesh D”Souza, welcome back to Frontpage.
Dinesh D”Souza: Thank you Jamie.
Glazov: As we announced in our interview on January 23, today Mr. D”Souza and I will engage in a detailed exchange on some of our points of disagreement. We break the debate up into the category of “rounds” so that the themes remain clear and concise.
As a side note, I ended up getting the last word in each round in this particular segment. But Mr. D”Souza is most welcome to volley back whenever his schedule permits and we will be most happy to publish his responses.
So we begin with the first round:
Round #1: Qutb a Democrat?
Glazov: Let us begin our discussion, Mr. D”Souza, with your interpretation of Sayyid Qutb. With all due respect, I am not so sure what kind of great supporter Qutb was of democracy and capitalism. Qutb was an Islamic fanatic who was full of hatred. He was intoxicated by a death cult based on martyrdom through jihad.
Yes, Qutb obviously believed that we were “immoral” — in the sense that any Muslim radical believes that anything non-Muslim is immoral. In his view, immorality was anything connected to humans pursuing earthly happiness and joy — and anything that didn’t involve giving one’s life through jihad.
In terms of the U.S., Qutb was enraged when he saw people dancing at a church social in Colorado in the 1940s. And let’s just get a glimpse of the mindset here: the dancing there was nothing compared to the dancing of today. And whatever it is that one might think of the dancing today, one thing is for sure: no one of sound mind would have called the dancing at the church social in Colorado in 1940 as being “immoral” by any rational standard.
The bottom line is that Qutb was enraged that people were enjoying music and life, because the purpose of life was death through jihad. And this disposition was akin to the Leninist hatred of cheer on earth.
Qutb was opposed to democracy, first and foremost, for the simple reason that it placed sovereignty with the people rather than with God and was, therefore, contrary to Islam. And let’s also just bring up one anti-democratic theme in a sea of many: In In the Shade of the Qur’an, commenting on Sura 9:29 of the Qur’an, which commands Muslims to fight Jews and Christians (“the People of the Book”) until they “pay the jizya [a non-Muslim poll tax] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued,” Qutb echoes the Qur’anic verse directly. He says that Muslims must “smash the power of those authorities based on false beliefs until they declare their submission and demonstrate this by paying the submission tax.”
Is this subjugation of Jews and Christians under the rule of Islamic law consistent with our idea of democracy and freedom?
Saying that Qutb hated us for how we used our freedom is, I am afraid, meaningless. Freedom is freedom. When humans are free, they are going to use their human agency in ways that tyranny supporters despise. A person who yearns for totalitarianism and wants to veil women, segregate the genders, ban the privatization of love, etc., will never support a society where people can “use” their freedom in the way they see fit. Once you start making rules on how people can “use” their freedom, then you aren’t talking about real freedom. And so when you have Sharia, people don’t “use” freedom in any way at all, because there is no freedom.
Overall, Mr. D”Souza, the troubling implication of your argument appears to be — and correct me if I am wrong — that it is our fault that we enraged Qutb because we allowed people to be free, and that they did things with their freedom that enraged totalitarians. In other words, when it comes to the terrorists and their terror, you are implying that the devil made them do it. And the devil is us. This is a leftist argument, which blames us rather than the terrorists who are responsible for the destruction they perpetrate.
D”Souza: Your question is based on the false presumption that I am defending Qutb. My point isn’t that Qutb is right to believe what he does, but that Qutb has been wrongly described as an enemy of science and capitalism and democracy and the freedom to choose Islam as a religion. Your question repeats all these mistakes.
Here is a line from Social Justice in Islam, “In the case of the pure sciences and their applied results of all kinds, we must not hesitate to use all things in the sphere of material life; our use of them should be unhampered and unconditional, unhesitating and unimpeded.” Sounds like an endorsement of science.
Democracy? This is from Milestones, “Islam is not a “˜theory” based on assumptions; rather it is a “˜way of life.” Thus it is first necessary that a Muslim community come into existence”¦which commits itself to obey none but God, denying all other authority. Only when such a society comes into being, faces various practical problems, and needs a system of law, then Islam initiates the constitution of law and injunctions, rules and regulations. It addresses only those people who in principle have already submitted themselves to its authority”¦It is necessary that believers in this faith be autonomous and have power in their own society, so that they may be able to implement this system and give currency to all its laws. Moreover, power is also needed to legislate according to the needs of the group as these present themselves in its day to day affairs.” Sounds to be like Qutb is saying that sharia should only exist in a community of committed Muslims, and that it should be the result of their active involvement in placing themselves under such rules.
Freedom of religion? Milestones: “Islam does not force people to accept its belief”¦What it wants is to abolish those oppressive political systems under which people are prevented from expressing their freedom to choose whatever beliefs they want, and after that it gives them complete freedom to decide whether they will accept Islam or not.” Qutb distinguishes compulsory conversion””this is not allowed””from imposing the political authority of Islam: this is allowed. No, Qutb’s view isn’t consistent with our idea of religious liberty, but I never said that it was.
What I try to do in this book is what you fail to do in your question, which is to take thinkers like Qutb seriously. I don’t attribute to Qutb things that he didn’t say and did not believe. I try to argue against his actual views. And I try to understand his appeal not only to the radical Muslims but also to the traditional Muslims.
You say that “freedom is freedom,” but I don’t agree with you and I don’t think the American founders would either. Here’s a hypothetical question. What if every adult American today used his freedom to become a pornographer? That would make two hundred million Americans whose role model is Al Goldstein and Larry Flynt. Would that make America a good society? Your libertarian principle forces you to say yes, because these people have chosen freely. But I don’t think the American founders would have agreed. To them, the American dream was an idea with content. Yes, it was based on freedom, but freedom to pursue a certain kind of dream, freedom to live a certain kind of life.
Glazov: Obviously, Qutb claimed science for Islam. Do you think that the Catholic Church attacked Galileo and made him repent because they were vocally against science? The Church claimed to protect faith and science from modern heresy. Whether or not Qutb said that the use of science should be unimpeded, his very radical faith undermined his supposed dedication to science. The very fact of modern science, with the rise of relativity, goes against authoritarian order, which Islamism seeks to instill.
The quote you use from Milestones to show that Qutb supports democracy doesn’t seem like any kind of democracy to me. It is clear that non-Muslims will not receive equality and that there won’t be real freedom in any sense of the word. In terms of freedom of religion, if Qutb’s view “isn’t consistent with our idea of religious liberty” then his view doesn’t support freedom of religion in any real way.
Mr. D”Souza, what do you think happens to people who “in principle” do not submit themselves to the authority of a state that Qutb envisions? Yes, Qutb paid lip service to some democratic principles. But the point is that non-Muslims were never included as equals in his vision of “democracy.” Nor were women. So Qutb’s democracy is not democracy by any definition. He advocated the dhimma, which institutionalizes inequality for non-Muslims. And this is based on Islamic theology.
In other words, Qutb was merely following Islamic doctrine and he sought to turn the whole world into committed Muslims, by force and jihad if necessary. And the society that will be created after this Islamic violence will not be a democracy. And that’s why there have been no real Muslim democracies.
Your example about Goldstein and Flynt is meaningless. First and foremost, when you use this pornography example, you dismiss what this society is all about and confuse the issue altogether. People here in America will always pursue different interests because this society nurtures the human reality of difference; they will never all become pornographers. But in authoritarian societies, men will be molded into types. They will be forced to obey certain laws and their emergent individualism will be stifled.
You can take exception to what you deem to be “immoral” behavior, but the question is: what exactly are you proposing to do to about it? How would you curtail the manner in which humans use their freedom in a free society that you disapprove of? Like Qutb would? Can you use your common sense and guess what he would have done to the people who were dancing in the church social in Colorado in 1940 had he been in power? What are you proposing to do to people who want to pursue a certain kind of dream, to live a certain kind of life, that you personally think is wrong? Who will be the self-appointed arbiters of morality in your proposed solutions? What will the punishments be?
I”m sorry, but when I hear these criticisms being articulated about peoples” “morality” and “permissiveness” on the assumption that something is going to have to be done about it, especially in the context of Qutb being portrayed as some kind of democrat, the frightening images of the Taliban, the Ayatollah Khomeini and the Saudi religious police start floating though my mind.
The bottom line is that somewhere in your argument, Mr. D”Souza, is the premise that if only we cover up our women completely and start enforcing some kind of totalitarian Puritanism over our populace — with grave punishments to enforce it — then the Islamists will stop perpetrating terror against us. And the interlinked assumption is that all the victims of honor killings and of the other barbarities of Islamic gender apartheid somehow deserved their fate in the sense that, like us Westerners, they could have avoided being terrorized if they had just acted in a more morally pristine way. That’s the dark logic on which your thesis is based and it is highly insulting to the victims of Islamism and highly dangerous to all freedom-loving people who seek to fight and stop this totalitarian virus.
Round #2: Defensive Jihad?
Glazov: Mr. D”Souza, let me get back to your spin of jihad in our interview. You are correct that “the call to jihad is issued defensively,” in that in the absence of a caliph, defensive jihad is all that is allowed by the Islamic law that the jihadists so scrupulously respect. And certainly the so-called “immorality” of Western popular culture is used as a pretext to garner support for jihadist activity.
But the imperative to subjugate the world under the rule of Islamic law is deeply embedded within Islamic tradition (see Qur’an 9:29, discussed above; Sahih Muslim 4294; and a host of other evidence from all the Sunni madhahib and Shi”ite sources as well). It does not proceed on the basis of the sinfulness of non-Muslims, but simply on the foundation that they are non-Muslims. Even if they were sinless non-Muslims, this imperative would remain.
In the context of “morality,” the reality is that jihad is issued “defensively” because Islamic fundamentalists know that their societies are based on the demonization of the female and of female sexuality, and on the rigid control of sexuality and of private love. Obviously the reality of humans, especially females, doing what they want with their sexuality and exposing their bodies poses a threat to a death cult based on totalitarian Puritanism.
So again, the premise behind your argument, Mr. D”Souza, is that if only we were all moral and pristine and did what some morality police instructed us to do, that the Islamists would then not wage terror against us, since they wouldn’t be afraid that our values might liberate their enslaved women. But the bottom line is that in a free society like America, you can’t create laws that are going to stop Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez from dancing in music videos — despite what you may think about the “morality” of it. And the bottom line is that because of globalization, societies that are based on the hatred and fear of the female body, and on the hatred and fear of the possibility that a woman can do whatever she wants with her body, will succumb to terrorism in order to defend the cages on which those societies themselves are built.
I am also not so sure that it is a given that Muslim societies have some kind of “morality” that is higher than ours — or that it actually represents any kind of morality at all. Ok, sexual freedom is demonized and rigidly controlled and suffocated in Islamic environments. Great. But this suffocation of free will in connection to a powerful facet of the human condition engenders, as simple common sense would instruct it does, far greater immoralities and pathologies. Traditional Islamic culture’s violent control of women and its use of terror to maintain this control (i.e. female genital mutilation, honor killings, forced veiling and segregation, rape as punishment etc.) involves a barbarism that makes our “immorality” look like a Church service. And that’s to say nothing of Shi”ite “temporary marriage,” polygamy, divorce by a word from the husband, and more.
D”Souza: I agree with you that the classical Islamic tradition aspired to rule the whole world and bring everyone under the authority of Islamic law. This tradition was very powerful between the seventh and fifteenth centuries. But not only in Islam. The same tradition was very powerful in Christianity during that same period.
In the ancient world, once a religion got power it often sought to use that power to dominate other societies. Moses wasn’t exactly a believer in religious freedom. When he came down from the mountain and discovered the Israelites worshipping the golden calf he basically ordered a massacre. Don’t you think that if Moses could he would have imposed the laws of Yahweh on the whole world? Of course he would.
This is all another way of saying that we cannot use today”s notions of religious toleration and freedom of religion to judge other cultures or even Western culture when those notions were not yet invented. Historian Bernard Lewis points out that Islam historically was more tolerant than Christianity. The Muslim empires, from the Umayyad to the Abbasid to the Mughal to the Ottoman, tolerated Jews and Hindus in a way that no Christian society would have. Yes, this involved discriminatory laws against religious minorities like Christians and Jews, but these forms of discrimination were milder than those imposed by Christian societies on their religious minorities such as Jews. In the Spain of Ferdinand and Isabella, Jews were given three choices: convert, leave the country or be killed. What Muslim empire did that?
Glazov: I am a bit puzzled by your references to Moses and Christianity in your comparisons with Islam. The key is that when Christians have behaved in aggressive or intolerant ways, their acts were not based on Christian teachings; their acts were un-Christian. The same cannot be said for Muslims when they engage in aggression and intolerance, since such behavior is a fulfillment of their theological mandates. All the schools of Islamic jurisprudence teach that it is part of the responsibility of the umma to subjugate the non-Muslim world through jihad.
And so that is why today no legitimate Christian or Jewish leaders with any credibility and respect are calling for the bombing of Mecca or any other kind of indiscriminate violence. There is nothing analogous among Christians and Jews to the hate-filled sermons that are preached weekly in the Islamic world. The New and Old Testaments contain no universal, open-ended command to all believers to wage war against all unbelievers, as does the Qur’an in Suras such as 9:29 and 9:5. Millions of Muslims obviously take those verses seriously today, but no Christians or Jews are committing violence in the name of their religion and justifying it by their religious theology.
Your interpretation, Mr. D”Souza, does not explain why there are armed conflicts with jihadists today who, in the case of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Iran and recently Somalia, have even taken over whole countries. There are no more Christian Crusades, the equivalent of the Muslim jihad, in existence today. The only reason the Muslim jihad died down the last few centuries is because the Muslim world, in the form of its foremost martial power, Turkey, became militarily weak, while the Christian world became proportionately militarily stronger and was even able to colonize the Muslim countries. Now that colonization has ended, jihad is growing stronger again. The fact is, the jihad imperative in Islam has been there since this religion’s inception and becomes weak, or a non-factor, only when Muslim military strength is weak or negligible.
Scholars such as Bat Ye”or, meanwhile, have provided much evidence that discredits your view of how Muslims have treated minorities. Armenians would probably not be very appreciative of your view. And Muslim intolerance of other religions continues to this day, everywhere from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to the Sudan.
In any case, the fact that you are comparing Islam today to medieval Christianity is telling. You do this because of the current backwardness of Islamic societies; since they cannot withstand scrutiny (being compared with modern, free societies), you hold them up to medieval Europe and find Europe wanting.
Round #3: Muslim Democracy?
Glazov: In terms of your belief in a possible Muslim democracy, Mr. D”Souza, I can say that I truly wish the best for Muslim reformers who are fighting the battle to modernize and democratize Islam.
But I must say that I have a hard time picturing a Muslim “democracy” in which individuals can freely criticize Muhammad and make cartoons ridiculing him, and even get together in a public demonstration articulating these themes, and the society allows and protects this behavior.
I also have difficulty picturing a Muslim “democracy” in which women, if they so wish, and regardless of what your own moral vision thinks about it, do what they want to do with their own bodies and sex lives — and remain unharmed.
I also can’t picture Christians and other non-Muslim religions freely proselytizing in a Muslim “democracy” and remaining unharmed.
And the moment you say that these are not good examples because it will be a “different” kind of “democracy” and not the American “variety,” then I”m sorry, what you are describing is not a democracy. It is tyranny.
And if a future Islam will allow these things, then that is great. But it will be an Islam that will have its foundations transformed. This raises the question of how Islam can remain Islam without its main Islamic ingredients. But I guess this issue will have to be the subject for a discussion in another forum.
D”Souza: The radical Muslims don’t believe in free speech but most traditional Muslims do. They value free speech as a way to have a political debate. They also believe that free speech has limits, and one of those limits is blasphemy. We too in this society believe that free speech has limits, only our limits are different.
Recently, we celebrated Martin Luther King’s birthday. Now imagine if the New York Times were to print a series of cartoons showing Martin Luther King as a drive-by shooter, and a drug-dealer, and a pimp. What would be the reaction? There would be a nationwide howl of outrage. The guy who did the cartoons would most likely be fired, or at least forced to apologize profusely and enroll in sensitivity classes. But it would not stop with that. His editor who allowed the cartoons to be published would also be attacked. And there would be oceans of commentary about how the episode demonstrates the racism that is endemic in our society.
I doubt that free speech would even come up. Now to continue with my example, can you image dozens of other leading newspapers””the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, the LA Times””all reprinting the Martin Luther King cartoons to show their solidarity with the New York Times and affirm their support for free speech? It would never happen. So it’s easy to talk about free speech when the other guy”s sacred cow is being gored.
Glazov: Your Martin Luther King analogy doesn’t hold up. The difference is that the black thugs who would engage in their violent activity don’t point to Martin Luther King’s life and sayings to justify their criminal actions. Martin Luther King was never a gangster. Muslim terrorists, on the other hand, base their actions on Muhammad — who invented jihad and was a jihadist himself.
Muslims believe that free speech has limits? Really? Is that why Jews and Westerners are constantly characterized as apes and pigs in the Middle Eastern media and in schools? Isn’t it because the Qur’an calls Jews apes and pigs in three places? (2: 62-65, 5:59-60, 7:166) Shouldn’t we be discussing this use of the Qur’an rather than pretending it doesn’t exist?
To say, as you do, that blasphemy is an acceptable limit to free speech is to misunderstand altogether the point of free speech. In a free society, speech, however, offensive, must be permitted. You may believe otherwise, but in so doing you are waging war on a fundamental American right and tradition. The one notable exception is direct indictment to violence. (The case of Brandenburg v. Ohio sets down the precedent well: “The constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”)
Your example of Americans being appalled at a hypothetical cartoon mocking MLK Jr. is problematic. Do you really think anyone would be killed because of such a cartoon? All of your examples are of people voicing their disagreement; there is nothing wrong with that whatsoever. If “traditional Muslims” had objected to the Mohammed cartoons by writing angry letters to the editor that would have been entirely unobjectionable. In fact, most conservatives made a point of saying that they didn’t think the cartoons especially clever. The problem was that Muslims responded by attacking and threatening attacks against non-Muslims. At that point, people defended the publication of the cartoons because they had news value and because Muslims were challenging the fundamental right to free expression, however crude. As Oliver Kamm put it, “The defense of a free society is the defense of its procedures, not its output.”
Furthermore, the depictions of Mohammad by the Danes were not out of line. Indeed, the apparently most offensive cartoon, Mohammad with a bomb-turban on his head, asks a pertinent question that Islamic societies should be attempting to answer. Is terrorism compatible with the origins of Islam or is terror anathema to these origins? This seems to me to be an open question and one that must be answered in the Middle East if there is to be any reform. And, by the way, people in Western societies regularly depict Christian figures in really vile ways — Christ in urine, Mary made out of dung (to give two recent examples) — and Christians don’t resort to murder and violence as forms of protest. Instead, they have a debate about it. This is critical to keep in mind when we compare some of the problems and consequences of free speech in Western societies with those in the Muslim world.
The key questions: do you think the cartoonists of Muhammad should have been jailed or punished in some way? Do you denounce the violent reaction of Muslims? Whether you approve or disapprove of the cartoons themselves is meaningless. There are lots of cartoons that have offended me in my life but I vehemently support their publication, seeing that Stalinism will begin to creep in very quickly after we start suffocating freedom of expression and, more importantly, the freedom to offend.
Round #4: Abu Ghraib.
Glazov: Let me get back for a moment to your arguments regarding Abu Ghraib. The implication is that Muslim society is exempt from sexual perversion and that Abu Ghraib somehow scandalized a culture that knows nothing about torture — including the sexual variety — in jail, and is as pure as the driven snow. Surely you are aware of what Muslim Arabs do to prisoners and to the bodies of their enemies. The torture in which they engage is frequently sexual — often involving rape of male prisoners. And Arab Muslims are all very much aware of this. So I am not sure how much a couple of morons who engaged in frat party idiocy really shocked Muslims.
Now, that Muslim Arabs were appalled that this was perpetrated by infidels is a given. That it hurt our cause tremendously is a given. But the moral indignation of the Islamic world raises different issues.
The real significance of Abu Ghraib was that what happened there was a Sunday school class compared to what happened under Saddam Hussein — and all Iraqis and Arab Muslims know it. What happened at Abu Ghraib was a frat party compared to a history of peoples” live bodies being passed through human shredders, lowered into boiling baths of acid, people having their kids raped in front of them, and humans having their body parts mutilated while they are alive.
In terms of the torture that is perpetrated by ruthless regimes around the world, any sane human being would only dream of being a prisoner in an American Abu Ghraib. Would you instead want to be the victim of what Fidel Castro perpetrated in his “Cuban Program” at the Cu Loc POW camp in Hanoi? Of what Stalin, the Khmer Rouge, Mao and Saddam perpetrated? Personally, I can say with full certainty that I would prefer a woman’s underwear to be placed over my head any day to having my eye sockets cut out, my head crushed in a vice and my limbs mutilated, or my body being torn apart in a meat shredder.
The key significance here is that the horror that exists in the Muslim world over a pair of woman’s underwear being placed on a man’s head is a reflection of that culture’s immorality, not ours. I am obviously not saying that a pair of woman’s underwear on a man’s head should represent a cultural norm. Obviously the guards were engaging in sadistic and juvenile behavior and they should be reprimanded or punished for their conduct accordingly. But there is a larger context here. And that is that the nightmarish dread with which the underwear scene was greeted in the Arab Muslim world reflected the hatred of women and of their sexuality in these societies. It exposed the terror that males experience when confronted with the notion of a woman having power over them, let alone even being an equal. That reality for a male is considered a virtual hell. This reveals the vile misogyny that exists in the Islamic world — and that should be the primary subject of our moral indignation.
My overall point here Mr. D”Souza is about the matter of emphasis. I would think that you would have shown a curiosity and indignation about why many Muslims find women’s underwear on a male head worse and more immoral than the torture and murder that went on not only in Abu Ghraib under Saddam Hussein, but throughout the Islamic Arab world. What kind of pathology would lead them to this conclusion? The fact that individuals in the Muslim world denounced the underwear on the head incident with such vehemence while hypocritically remaining silent for decades about the indescribable violence done to men, women and children in Iraqi prisons, and prisons throughout the Arab world, makes one wonder about how pathological their culture really is. Should not this be the subject of Western attention, rather than renewing the orgy of self-recrimination the West has been indulging in for the last few decades?
D”Souza: Once again you are confusing my description of what made the Muslims really upset about Abu Ghraib with what I would find personally most upsetting about Abu Ghraib. I agree with you that torture is worse than sexual degradation. So if I had to choose between having my head cut off and being forced to masturbate and having women’s underwear on my head, I would, I guess, choose the latter. But I would rather not have to choose at all. You cannot defend one kind of wrong by pointing to another kind of wrong.
Your statement expresses, if I may say so, a disgracefully cavalier attitude toward what to conservative and religious people are deeply humiliating actions. We may have lost much of our sense of modesty in America, but there are many cultures in the world where modesty and decency are very highly prized. I am not just talking about the Muslim world, but also about much of Asia and Africa and South America. These are honor cultures and if we cannot understand that they exist, and respect their values of sexual reticence and moral dignity, then that’s really a sad reflection on us. To represent these values, which are the traditional values of most of the world, which were held across this society until only a couple of generations ago, and are still held by many people in this country today, as simply hatred of women I think is simply foolish.
I do not think that it is a decent response to Abu Ghraib to dismiss it as a fraternity prank. For conservatives to minimize the sexual depravity of Abu Ghraib is to make ourselves the vehicles for covering up liberal depravity. And why should we defend Abu Ghraib? Because we are patriots and Abu Ghraib represents America? This is ridiculous. It does not represent America. Because all of this sexual degradation was necessary for the purposes of military interrogation? But Charles Graner and Lynndie England and the others were not carrying out any kind of interrogation. They were just screwing around. This was their idea of having fun. True, if this was done in a university department it might have won a grant from the National Endowment from the Arts. But I don’t understand why conservatives would want to make ourselves pimps for liberal debauchery. Who do we have to apologize for next, the North American Man Boy Love Association? It seems that our patriotism is being obtained at a very high price if we have to defend everything that goes on in America in the name of freedom. I don’t think Ronald Reagan would have laughed off Abu Ghraib.
Glazov: I have no idea what you mean when you say you “would rather not have to choose at all.” We don’t live in a perfect, disinfected and ideal world and it doesn’t really matter what you would “rather” choose. There are situations in life where we are confronted with extremely difficult and horrible decisions — especially when there are people planning to blow themselves up in a mall where innocent human beings, including women and infants, will be killed or crippled and maimed for life.
There is a whole other question here concerning what exactly you propose our interrogators do with a captured Islamic radical who has information about another 9/11 in its planning stages — but won’t talk.
I also don’t understand why you keep saying that I am “defending” Abu Ghraib. It’s easier arguing with straw men I guess. I clearly stated in my last comment that the American guards at Abu Ghraib were engaging in sadistic and juvenile behavior and that they should be punished accordingly.
You accuse me of having a “disgracefully cavalier attitude” about the underwear-on-the-head episode. It’s not the first time in my life I”ve been accused of being cavalier about something and it won’t be the last. But let me tell you something that I don’t have a “disgraceful” cavalier attitude about:
I am the child of Soviet dissidents. My mom’s father was shot in the back of the head by the NKVD. My dad’s dad was poisoned by the NKVD. Throughout my life the terror that the Soviet regime perpetrated against its citizens has been a nightmare that has lurked, without remission, in my heart and soul. The tortures outlined in Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, which included the crushing of testicles of those who refused to sign false confessions, haunt my psyche. I live with Armando Valladares on my mind, reflecting on the horrors that he and other prisoners experienced in Castro’s Gulag — experiences that Valladares has documented in his heart-wrenching memoir Against All Hope. The tortures involved being forced to take baths in human feces. Lt. Colonel Earl Cobeil and the vicious tortures he and other American POWs endured under Castro’s “Cuban Program” at the Cu Loc POW camp in Hanoi also rest, unabated, in my heart.
This evil perpetrated against human beings by totalitarian regimes has haunted me throughout my life and it has propelled me to try to make my own contribution, as humble as it may be, to fight totalitarianism and the leftist forces in the West who are in league with it.
Saddam Hussein’s crimes against humanity are part of this story. Yes, I consider it a good thing that U.S. forces liberated a country from an evil man who took live human beings and incinerated them in boiling baths of acid, who had children raped in front of their parents, who had every human body part possible dismembered from those he wished to victimize, and who perpetrated any and every horrible torture one’s human imagination can conceive.
So my point is this: when, in certain periods of my life, I have awoken in a frightened cold sweat in the middle of the night, there were some frightening mental images in my dream state that caused this particular disturbance. And I can tell you that the phenomenon of a woman’s pair of underwear resting on a man’s head was not one of them.
In terms of modesty and decency, again these are not aspects of life that Muslims have a monopoly on. The sexual perversion that exists in the Islamic-Arab world, and in its torture chambers, are well known, and why the American Abu Ghraib scandalized a culture that knows everything about it is my main point. Obviously the underwear-on-the-head incident was upsetting and humiliating in its own context. And my thesis is not that the idiocy of the likes of Lyndie England and her comrades was justified. The point is that it’s hypocritical for anyone to scream about our insufficient respect for the Arab “shame culture” when for years Saddam Hussein enjoyed the support of the Arab world, while, under his watch, Abu Ghraib was an incomparably crueler place than it ever was under American supervision.
Were modesty and decency very highly prized in Saddam’s rape rooms and children’s prisons? Where were the protests among Muslims then? Many prisoners in Saddam’s Abu Ghraib were not allowed to wash; one prisoner reported that he went four years without a shower. Could not this be considered a great “shame” — since Arabs place a high premium on cleanliness? Many prisoners were kept naked and beaten, often to death. Could this be considered a great shame? Executions were routine — although it is heretical for Muslims to kill other Muslims. For instance, in 1984 alone, 4,000 prisoners were executed at Abu Ghraib. Where was the rage of Muslims then? We have first-hand accounts of women in Saddam’s torture chambers being stripped naked and having burning cigarettes stubbed out on their skin, with their children forced to look on. I’ll leave the other horrid tortures up to the imagination. Is female modesty supposedly not sacred in Islam? Where was all the rage in the Arab world that was so prominently displayed with the American Abu Ghraib regarding these crimes?
The point is that we never stooped to Saddam’s level and we don’t stoop to Saddam’s level. And it’s hypocritical for Muslims, and anyone else, to suddenly cry foul about our disrespect for the Muslim “shame” culture when no comparable outrage was on display throughout Saddam’s reign of terror. And if you can’t grasp that when a bestial and ferocious fury occurs in response to a woman’s pair of underwear being placed on a man’s head, it is connected to a society”s misogyny — where a terrifying dread exists in the notion of a woman’s equality to a man — I don’t know what to say.
I am also speechless that you haven’t grasped that the hatred and fear of women and of their sexuality is at the core of Islamist terror, and that the vicious and sadistic structure of Islamic gender apartheid and the barbaric weapons that keep it in place — female genital mutilation, forced veiling and marriage, honor killings, etc. — are interconnected with the same reasons Islamists wage war on the West. Surely you are aware of the Muslim rape epidemic that is skyrocketing in Western Europe, where unveiled women are being punished for not putting themselves out of sight and sound. And most of these rape victims, for your information, weren’t even “dancing” the way to which Qutb objected at the church social in Colorado in 1940. They were raped as punishment for not forcing themselves into invisibility. And surely you are aware of how this violence against women is connected to the terror being perpetrated against us. Surely you understand that to try to blame Islamist terror on how Westerners use their freedom is a grave insult to the millions of women who are, and have been, brutally victimized by the vicious structures of Islamic gender apartheid.
Round #5: The Left Loves America?
Glazov: You stated in our interview, Mr. D”Souza, that the Left loves America in its own way. I would have to disagree. The Left wants to destroy America — as well as its democratic-capitalist foundations. The America they love will be the one they yearn to build on the ashes of the one that exists, and the one they yearn to destroy. And the one they will build will have no resemblance to the one that exists and to the one whose freedoms they exploit in their effort to destroy it. It will resemble Mao’s China and Stalinist Russia and Castro’s Cuba, and that’s why the Left venerated those tyrannies throughout the 20th Century and offered them its own personal solidarity and affection.
D”Souza: Yes, the left loves America but it doesn’t love the same America that conservatives love. The left doesn’t so much want to destroy America as it wants to destroy traditional America, the America of conservative values. The left’s America is the America of the suffragettes and the Stonewall riots and Roe v. Wade. This is the America that the left will fight for, and that it feels patriotic about. So too the left hates American foreign policy when it serves conservative ends. The left would hate for Bush to win his war on terror because that would reinforce conservative values both abroad and at home. But the left would love for America to use its power to promote liberal values.
Glazov: I stand by my statement that the only America that the Left loves is the one that it yearns to build on the ashes on the existing America that is seeks to destroy.
Round #6: Drying Up Radical Islam’s Recruitment?
Glazov: Let’s move over to how your position that there are hardly any such people in the Muslim world who believe in women’s rights and separation of church and state, yet your simultaneous belief in some kind of foundation for a Muslim democracy. Would such a democracy really be democratic for women and non-Muslims?
Also, isn’t there a self-contradiction in your statement that “we have to find a way of drying up radical Islam’s recruitment” and your assertion that “whenever we attack Islam or say that Muhammad was the founder of terrorism, we are pursuing a self-defeating strategy because we are driving traditional Muslims into the hands of the radicals”? How can we dry up radical Islam’s recruitment while simultaneously ignoring the fact that that recruitment is based not solely on charges that America is immoral, but on Islamic principles and the words and deeds of Muhammad? Shouldn’t we engage in respectful, but honest and searching criticism of the Islamic texts and Muhammad’s example, so as to aid Muslim reformers in their work of reform?
D”Souza: Islam is not the problem. Islam has been around for 1300 years and the problem of Islamic radicalism and terrorism is now. So it’s silly to go around blaming the Koran and blaming the prophet Muhammad. He is no more responsible for today”s terrorism than Martin Luther King is responsible for drug-dealing and drive-by shooting in the inner city. Yes, the bad guys do it in the name of Muhammad, but as Bernard Lewis and so many others have pointed out, Islamic radicalism represents a break with the Islamic tradition. Never before have mullahs ruled a Muslim society, as they now do in Iran. The Khomeini revolution was totally unprecedented. So I think it’s historically wrong to blame Islam itself.
The intelligent question is to ask what it is about Islam today that has made it an incubator of a certain kind of radicalism and fanaticism. The other question to ask is how we can get traditional Muslims to break with the radicals. I”m afraid the main obstacle is the kind of attitude that you are taking in this interview. When you make America synonymous with permissiveness, when you dismiss serious moral offenses with a no-big-deal attitude, when you attack a religion of 1 billion people for the actions perpetrated by a miniscule fraction of that group, you are driving the traditional Muslims into the arms of the radicals. Meanwhile you are searching for liberal allies in the Muslim world, and except for Salman Rushdie and a few others, they don’t really exist. So how are you helping us win the war on terror? You actually seem to be making things worse.
Glazov: I am not so sure how “silly” it is to look at the Qur’an and the Prophet when diagnosing Islamic terror, especially in light of the fact that Islamic terrorists consistently point to the Qur’an and the Prophet, and quote their words, when justifying their violence.
Blaming the existence of people like me, I am afraid, is not going to wash away the fact that Islam has a developed doctrine, theology, and legal system that mandates warfare against unbelievers. To say that Islam has been around for 1300 years but that radicalism is somehow new ignores centuries of Islamic expansionism and violence that was justified by the doctrines of jihad.
Again, the Martin Luther King analogy does not hold up. King never engaged in drug-dealing and drive-by shooting in the inner city, nor did he ever promote such behavior. And that is why black gangsters and criminals don’t quote from King or emulate his conduct of non-violence. Islam, on the other hand, is an incubator of radicalism and terror because of the words and deeds of Muhammad — and that is why the radicals and terrorists always quote their Prophet and emulate his acts.
There is a self-contradiction when you say the radicals are only a tiny minority, but that Muslim liberals don’t really exist. Moreover, to assert that Lewis and others say that Islamic radicalism represents a break with Islamic tradition unfortunately does not wash away Muhammad’s own expansionist acts and commands. Saying something does not make it true. And people like me aren’t helping radicals by simply acknowledging that those commands exist. We are helping the radicals by ignoring or denying their existence, and thereby cutting the ground out from under serious Islamic reformers. If Islam has doctrines that are fueling radicalism, it does no good to demonize people like me or to show the faults of Christianity, and it undercuts reformers who don’t need us to pretend that these Islamic doctrines don’t exist or are not inspiring violence.
The bottom line is that it is not people like me who are driving traditional Muslims into the arms of radical Muslims; it is radical imams at Wahhabi mosques and religious schools the world over, funded by Saudi Arabia, and radical imams in prisons who are doing that job. And doing it very well, I might add. The subway bombers in England and some of the “˜Hamburg” 9/11 cell members were radicalized in mosques in their respective countries — and that means something.
I am also not so consoled by your reference to the “miniscule fraction” of Muslims that adhere to radicalism. The percentage of Muslims living in Western societies who want to see the liberal democracies in their host countries replaced by Sharia law are not miniscule.
All in all, it is erroneous to suggest that if we speak honestly about the ingredients of Islam that give rise to terrorism, that we are somehow radicalizing more Muslims. Such sincerity about Islam will do the opposite, since crystallizing the truth will arm our Muslim allies who are fighting to modernize their religion. Muslim reformers can best eliminate the foundations of extremism within their religion if they can isolate exactly what they are.
Our time has unfortunately run out in this segment of our debate. Dinesh D”Souza it was a pleasure to have you as a guest at Frontpage to discuss your new book.
As mentioned in the beginning, because I got the last word in the rounds here today, Mr. D”Souza is most welcome to make replies when his schedule permits. And we will be most happy to publish them in what we hope will become a continuing dialogue.
For all of us here at Frontpage, we would like to thank all of our readers for joining us. We”ll see you all again soon.
[To see the first interview where Mr. D’Souza outlines his thesis click here.]