Here are responses from Dean Barnett, Peter Berkowitz, Scott Johnson, Roger Kimball, Stanley Kurtz and me. Victor Davis Hanson’s reply is here. I noticed a number of phrases in these replies that point out tactics by D’Souza that Jihad Watch readers will by this time find familiar:
“…it’s hard to see how he can remedy the situation with a week-long series of ad hominem insults….D”Souza labeled my criticism ‘ignorant prejudice masquerading as scholarship.’ Typical of his rhetoric, D”Souza tossed out this charge without defending or supporting it.” — Dean Barnett (emphasis added)
“Yet like Wolfe, D”Souza is for the most part unable to treat his interlocutors with respect, and generally unable to draw insight or instruction from the objections that his arguments have provoked. I will not trouble NRO readers with a response to D”Souza’s sneering asides, ad hominem attacks, and caricature of the criticism to which his book has been subject, except to note that his recurring rhetorical excesses belie his boast that he adheres to standards of scholarly excellence.” — Peter Berkowitz (emphasis added)
“My earlier critique of D”Souza stressed that Muslim objections to Western pop culture serve as proxies for distress over these deeper social changes. D”Souza has not truly responded to this point….Contrary to D”Souza’s claim, I do not assert that Islam and democracy are inevitably incompatible….Contrary to D”Souza’s claim, Samuel Huntington never called for a warlike “clash of civilizations.” ” — Stanley Kurtz (emphasis added)
“D”Souza writes: ‘Hanson offers no explanation, merely proclaiming al Qaeda’s ideology “rambling” and “incoherent.”‘ Again, this claim is false. This is what I actually wrote…” — Victor Davis Hanson (emphasis added)
So it not just me whose arguments he has ignored and misrepresented, and responded to with ad hominem attacks. This seems to be D’Souza’s ordinary modus operandi. What a disappointment.
Of course, when I wrote this, I didn’t know that D’Souza thinks I want Muslims to replace the Qur’an with the Torah. But as my friend Jeff points out, “But at least he LIKES Torah-wielding, hate-mongering, fit-throwing Jooz. Don’t we ALL?”
Here, in any case, is my reply from NR:
The essential conflict between Dinesh D”Souza and me is that he believes that we in the West are alienating traditional Muslims by subjecting Islam to the kind of scrutiny that other religions have routinely received in the West, and that we should stop doing so, since we need these traditional Muslims as allies. In this, I believe he is closing off the best hope we have for genuine Islamic reform. And in any case, if this is a group of people whose beliefs cannot be discussed, even as terrorists use those beliefs to justify their actions, what sort of allies would they be?
In discussing my work, D”Souza has preferred to set up straw men rather than discuss what I actually say. Although I have told him otherwise in debates on radio and in person, as well as in e-mails and in postings at Jihad Watch, he repeats the false claim that “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.” Who are these traditional Muslims? In his book, D”Souza offers not a single name, but he does explain that they are “not “˜moderates”,” and adds: “What are the theological differences between traditional Islam and radical Islam? On the fundamental religious questions, there are none.” So who are these people? They are, he tells us, “best understood as those who practice Islam in the way that it has evolved in the centuries since Muhammad,” as opposed to the radicals who “believe that Islam has reached a point of crisis and that violent conflict is both the inevitable and desirable outcome of this crisis.”
In other words, then, these are peaceful Muslims, who have no interest in waging jihad warfare. D”Souza claims I do not believe such people exist. In Islam Unveiled (2002), however, 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.” He 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 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 about jihad of the Koran and Sunnah, as well as of the schools of Islamic jurisprudence (madhahib), 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.
D”Souza remarks parenthetically: “At one point on a radio show Spencer challenged me to name a single traditional Muslim.” What I in fact asked him was to name a single traditional Muslim with whom he thought conservatives should ally. He named the Mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa, who is, according to the New York Times, a supporter of Hezbollah. Hardly, I believe, a reliable ally.
As for his claim that “Spencer seems to agree with Khomeini and bin Laden that the radical Muslims are the real Muslims””the ones who are actually following what the Koran and the Islamic tradition say,” it isn’t true either. In my books, I don’t just discuss the Islam of Khomeini and bin Laden, but the stages of Koranic development of the doctrine of jihad as delineated by Islamic theologians throughout history. In his eighth-century biography of Muhammad, Ibn Ishaq explains the contexts of various verses of the Koran by saying that Muhammad received revelations about warfare in three stages: first, tolerance; then, defensive warfare; and finally, offensive warfare in order to convert the unbelievers to Islam or make them pay a poll tax, the jizya (see Koran 9:29, Sahih Muslim 4294, etc.). Tafasir (Koranic commentaries) by mainstream Muslim thinkers including Ibn Kathir, Ibn Juzayy, As-Suyuti, and others also emphasize that the ninth chapter of the Koran, which mandates warfare against and subjugation of unbelievers, abrogates every peace treaty in the Koran.
In the modern age, this idea of stages of development in the Koran’s teaching on jihad, culminating in offensive warfare to establish the hegemony of Islamic law, has been affirmed not only by the jihad theorists Qutb and Maududi, but by the Pakistani Brigadier S. K. Malik (author of The Qur’anic Concept of War), Saudi Chief Justice Sheikh Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Humaid (in his Jihad in the Qur’an and Sunnah), and others.
While never mentioning any of this, D”Souza claims that I “focus on one set of quotations from the Koran advocating violence, while ignoring or dismissing another set of quotations advocating peace.” In fact, unfortunately, it is not I who do this, but the authorities I mentioned above, and others.
“Spencer’s animus against Islam is so deep,” says D”Souza, “that he seems blind to the fact that traditional Muslims embrace both the idea and the practice of democracy. It confounds his whole worldview, so he has to reject the idea and invent a totalitarian scenario in order to avoid having to change his mind in response to evidence.” In reality, I devote chapter five of Islam Unveiled to a discussion of Islam and democracy, with particular attention to Turkey. In any case, D”Souza is apparently unaware of the ongoing persecution and harassment of Christians in Indonesia and Turkey, two of his showcase democracies, and the similar treatment of Hindus in Bangladesh. Democracy is more than just head-counting; it is also equality of rights. I ask D”Souza to name one Muslim-majority nation in which non-Muslims enjoy full equality of rights with Muslims, up to and including the right to proselytize enjoyed by Muslims.
D”Souza likewise ignores mountains of evidence when he says that “the claim that the world’s Muslims endorse violence against those who are not Muslims” is “a purely made-up accusation that cannot be supported by any convincing evidence.” Perhaps he can explain the evidence recently marshaled by Michael Freund in the Jerusalem Post:
On the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, a survey conducted by Al-Jazeera asked respondents, “Do you support Osama Bin-Laden?” A whopping 49.9% answered: yes. And the July 2006 global Pew survey found that among Muslims, a quarter of Jordanians, a third of Indonesians, 38% of Pakistanis and 61% of Nigerians all expressed confidence in the mass murderer who founded al-Qaida. In Lebanon six months ago, the Beirut Center for Research and Information found that over 80% of the Lebanese population said they supported Hizbullah.
D”Souza asks: “If you were a traditional Muslim, would you want to associate yourself with people who were constantly attacking your prophet, your holy book, your values, and your religion?” I ask him in response: If you were a genuinely reformist Muslim who abhorred violent jihad, wouldn’t you welcome an honest discussion of the elements of Islam that the jihadists are using to justify their actions and to recruit? How can reform come without an admission that reform is needed?
Finally, when D”Souza notes that Bernard Lewis “even contends that, historically speaking, Islamic societies were more tolerant than Christian ones, putting up with Jews and other religious minorities to a degree that no Christian kingdom of the time did, and permitting divergent forms of Islam while European countries were going to war over fine points of theological doctrine,” I wonder what point he is trying to make. Even if Lewis is correct that the Ottomans were better to minorities than Catholic Europe, what does that prove? No one is trying to bring back the society of Catholic Europe, but jihadists are trying to re-impose sharia, including dhimmitude for non-Muslims, on the rest of the world. Is D”Souza suggesting that, well, it wasn’t so bad after all, and so we shouldn’t be resisting it now?
Anyway, with this I draw this episode to a close. If D’Souza actually says something intelligent, or discusses what I actually say instead of what he claims I say, it might be worth responding. But I have no hope of that at this point. As I’ve explained before, I have answered his base attacks because it was an opportunity to clarify matters for people of good will. And so now on to other matters.