Today in National Review Dinesh D’Souza says that I don’t believe something that I have affirmed here seven times recently, and discussed in several of my books.
On January 17, I quoted Dinesh D’Souza speaking about how my work risks “driving the traditional Muslims into the radical camp,” and responded that “no one has ever yet explained to me why describing Islam as containing elements that incite to violence will make otherwise peaceful Muslims become violent or begin to condone religious violence.”
I didn’t say that I didn’t believe that the people he calls “traditional Muslims” don’t exist, did I? Of course not. In fact, I took their existence for granted.
On January 19, I quoted him saying that “the traditional Muslims are the recruiting pool of radical Islam,” and added, “Indeed.” Did I say that the “traditional Muslims” didn’t exist? Nope. In fact, I was agreeing with him on this point.
On January 29, I wrote that “Dinesh D’Souza recommends the American conservatives ally with what he calls ‘traditional Muslims,’ who are actually cultural Muslims who have little acquaintance with or interest in violent jihad. The problem is that such people are always susceptible to the jihadist appeal, based as it is on the Qur’an and Sunnah.” Did I say that such people don’t exist? No, in fact I merely repeated here the point D’Souza himself has made about jihadists recruiting among peaceful Muslims.
On March 2, responding to an earlier instance of his claiming that I don’t believe there are any traditional Muslims, I wrote that “I call them cultural Muslims, and if he had actually read my books he would know that I know there are hundreds of millions of them.”
And again on March 6, responding again to his renewed charge that I don’t believe there are any traditional Muslims, I wrote: “I asked him to name a single traditional Muslim with whom we should ally, and he named Ali Gomaa, Mufti of Egypt, a Hizballah supporter. But I granted him the point, which is not in serious dispute by anyone, that there are millions of Muslims who are not waging jihad against anyone. Hundreds of millions.”
Maybe he doesn’t read Jihad Watch, right? Of course he doesn’t. But he knows about this. That same day, March 6, I sent him an email which I posted here on March 7: “In reality, as I explained to you on the Lores show, for a variety of reasons the jihad ideology was deemphasized, particularly in Central & Southeast Asia, West Africa, and Eastern Europe for several centuries. Muslims lived devout lives with no emphasis on it. Were they not practicing Islam? Of course they were practicing Islam. But these teachings were not part of that practice at that time. Unfortunately, however, they were never formally rejected, and are being reasserted today by jihad recruiters who quote Qur’an, Sunnah, and fiqh in order to support their positions.”
On March 12, yet again, I wrote that D’Souza “has used me as a straw man, falsely claiming on several occasions that I believe there are no such people as those he calls ‘traditional Muslims,’ when in fact I have written about the plight of peaceful Muslims in several of my books — which he claims to have read.”
Why am I telling you all this? Because this morning, Dinesh D’Souza has written at National Review: “Robert Spencer cannot bear the idea of an alliance with traditional Muslims to defeat radical Muslims because he refuses to believe that there are such people as traditional Muslims.”
In Islam Unveiled (2002), I wrote: “I do not mean”¦to indict Muslims in general or Islam as a whole”¦.If the seeds of terrorism are found to lie at the heart of Islam, that does not make every Muslim a terrorist.” Dinesh D’Souza need not have read far to find that; it’s on page five.
In Onward Muslim Soldiers (2003), I wrote: “Obviously not all Muslims in the United States or around the world — indeed, not even a majority — subscribe to the Islam of modern-day terrorists. Most Muslims, like everyone else, want to live their lives in peace.” D”Souza would have found that in the Introduction, on page xiii.
In The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) (2005), I noted that “there are enormous numbers of Muslims in the United States and around the world who want nothing to do with today”s global jihad. While their theological foundation is weak, many are laboring heroically to create a viable moderate Islam that will allow Muslims to coexist peacefully with their non-Muslim neighbors” (p. 45). Would Mr. D”Souza take issue with my assertion that their theological foundation is weak? But he himself observes that his “traditional Muslims” have no theological differences with the jihadists — and that makes them a fertile recruiting ground for jihad groups.
Were the statements I have just quoted pro-forma acknowledgements of something I effectually deny? No; in chapter eight of Onward Muslim Soldiers I discuss at length some historical reasons why the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah, as well as the schools of Islamic jurisprudence (madhahib), about jihad fell into abeyance in the Islamic world, and in The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), in a section entitled “But what about moderate Muslims?,” I explore some cultural reasons why the jihad ideology is in many areas of the Islamic world deemphasized today, and has been for quite some time.
So: in books that Dinesh D’Souza claims to have read, as well as in emails to him and numerous postings at Jihad Watch, I affirm what he continues to insist that I deny. Yesterday when we debated again on the radio show Kresta in the Afternoon, I had the feeling at times that I was trying to debate a Chinese big character poster plastered on a wall. For while I was grappling with what he said and responding to it, he breezily ignored most of the points I made and stuck to his talking points. If I hadn’t been there at all, I think he would have said exactly the same things he did say. I would have thought that we were both interested in getting to the truth, and discussing our disagreements in an honest way. But with this new NR installment of his apologia, in which he repeats manifestly false claims about my positions, I’m just not sure anymore that he is interested in that at all.
I’ve sent in a lengthy response to NR, which I hope they will publish in full Friday. If they don’t, however, I certainly will do so here.