A few weeks ago I replied here to an article by former Nixon aide and Islamic apologist Robert D. Crane, in which he distorted aspects of Islamic history while accusing me of doing so, and said I was in league with the devil himself.
Now Crane has published a second part of his piece, in which he says:
If we can recognize that the Muslim bashers, like Robert Spencer and Jihad Watch, really are on our side in the global war against terrorism, how can we convince them that their strategy is counter-productive? It should seem obvious by now that demonizing Islam merely breeds more Muslim extremists by evoking extremist reactions. Most ironically, the Muslim bashers support the Muslim terrorists by agreeing with their perversions of the Qur’an and sunnah.
We can turn today”s Muslim bashers into friends, however, only if they can bring themselves to adopt a paradigm of grand strategy, whereby tactics support strategy rather than undermine it. It takes two to tango.
Yes, Bob, it takes two to tango. That’s why I’m responding. Will I, in turn, hear from you?
A few considerations for you, Bob:
If we can recognize that the Muslim bashers, like Robert Spencer and Jihad Watch, really are on our side in the global war against terrorism, how can we convince them that their strategy is counter-productive?
How about by being honest, for starters? In your first piece, Bob, you said that I was distorting what the Islamic texts actually say — for example, you claimed that Qur’an 8:67-8 “has been interpreted by most of the classical scholars as a warning that the taking of booty is legitimate but the proposed execution of the prisoners would have constituted an awesome sin and warranted a ‘tremendous chastisement,'” but that I use the same Islamic traditions on which this interpretation is based “to show the opposite.”
This sounds as if I am playing fast and loose with the texts, when actually in the passage of my book that you were discussing, I quoted Muhammad’s first biographer, Ibn Ishaq, who interpreted the Qur’anic passage in question in this way: “God said, ‘It is not for any prophet,’ i.e. before thee [Muhammad], ‘to take prisoners’ from his enemies ‘until he has made slaughter in the earth,’ i.e. slaughtered his enemies until he drives them from the land. ‘You desire the lure of this world,’ i.e. its goods, the ransom of the captives. ‘But God desires the next world,’ i.e., their killing them to manifest the religion which He wishes to manifest…” (Pages 326-327). That is, the followers of Muhammad should kill the prisoners in order to manifest Allah’s religion, and not just try to gather the spoils of war.
So Ibn Ishaq is saying that the Qur’an says to kill the prisoners, and I quoted him. Then you say that the text means just the opposite — don’t kill the prisoners — and accuse me of distorting it.
Well, Bob, I was just reporting what Ibn Ishaq, who was of course a pious Muslim, said. If you want to convince me that my strategy is counter-productive, why not start by admitting that I have reported the contents of the Qur’an and Sunnah accurately, and working with me on some positive way to deal with those contents, instead of denying the manifest truth and defaming me? I think you will find, ultimately, that your strategy of misrepresenting what is in the Islamic texts and then accusing me of doing so is not going to win you any friends, except among the credulous and willfully ignorant.
Also, if you want to convince me of anything, how about toning down the hysterical, hateful rhetoric? In your first piece, you called me “diabolical.” Now you call me a “Muslim basher” and accuse me of “demonizing Islam.” Bob, I am scrupulously careful in my books to document every assertion I make about Islam — the accuracy of what I say in them is open for anyone to inspect. If Islam has a doctrine of warfare against unbelievers, as it manifestly does and as I have documented again and again, it is not “Muslim bashing” or “demonizing Islam” to say so. It is just a statement of fact, that many others have also noted — as I explain here; would you also call the Iraqi scholar Majid Khadduri a “Muslim basher” who was “demonizing Islam” because he wrote that “the principal function of “the Islamic state” was to “establish Islam as the dominant reigning ideology over the entire world”?
Islam’s supremacist ideology is deeply embedded within Qur’an and Sunnah, is taught by all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence, and is used today by jihadists to recruit among peaceful Muslims, as well as to justify their actions. I am by no means the only one to notice this, and your strategy of calling those who do notice it “Muslim bashers” who are engaged in “demonizing” is not only making me doubt your honesty, but it is making large numbers of non-Muslims doubt your honesty.
You say, “Most ironically, the Muslim bashers support the Muslim terrorists by agreeing with their perversions of the Qur’an and sunnah.” This is a common accusation, but in fact it is false. I have never said that the terrorists’ interpretation of Islam is the accurate or correct one. But I have pointed out that the terrorists portray themselves quite successfully among Muslims as the exponents of true and pure Islam, and moderates have mounted no successful response as yet. And I have pointed out that the terrorists can and do make use of a broad mainstream tradition in Islamic theology and law that teaches warfare against and the subjugation of unbelievers. You may impress some people, Bob, by saying that this means I agree with Osama, as other fools and dupes have said before, but saying that doesn’t get us any closer to solving the real problem, does it? And the real problem is that no matter what I say or don’t say, the terrorists really are portraying themselves as the true Muslims, and gaining recruits by doing so, and you and your friends are spending your time calling me names instead of directing your efforts within the Muslim community to counter their view of the Qur’an and Sunnah. If their view really is incorrect, this shouldn’t be too difficult, Bob. Why not set up programs in American mosques to teach against bin Laden’s jihad? Wouldn’t that do more to lessen suspicion of Muslims among non-Muslims in America than any amount of hateful rhetoric you direct toward me?
I’d be happy to establish a dialogue with you, Bob, and to give you all the opportunity you want to convince me of whatever you want. But I am not confident in the success of such a dialogue when it begins with your demonizing me and dissembling about the contents of the Islamic texts and my use of them. And I am not the only one who can see through what you’re doing here, Bob.