LAHORE: 9/11 has brought Americans closer to Islam, since the Americans started studying Islam after the bloody attacks and realised that Islam was a peaceful religion, said Walter Russell Mead on Saturday. — Pakistan Daily Times
It is common for Muslim reporters, and Muslim newspapers, to misreport what a visiting semi-dignitary said, in order to make it conform even more closely to what Muslims would have him say. Walter Russell Mead may have said this — he has said foolish things before, and also unfoolish things — but one has, from this short report, no way of knowing exactly what he said, what modifying phrases he may have added. There are no quotes, and we do not have the transcript. Or do we?
A greater problem, however, is not that of the farrago of nonsense that is reported in the Muslim press on this and many other occasions. It is, rather, the way in which visiting firemen in Muslim countries, out of an insensate desire to ingratiate themselves, may modify their views to win over their audience, and still worse, start to believe what they had felt compelled to say. This is due to three things.
The first are the sums of money often transferred from Muslim hosts to non-Muslim visitors. Do you think any of the real moneymakers, Bush Sr. and Clinton and James Baker and Colin Powell, the kind of people who can and do pick up those million-dollar checks in Kuwait or Qatar, would speak some home truths to their Muslim audiences? Of course not. They will flatter them, extol them, tell them how there is nothing wrong that cannot be fixed through a little public relations and “getting to” the American public. And what is worse, when they speak like this, they begin to think like this. They believe their own lying words.
And then there is fear. Fear of the audience in front of you helps to modify what you might otherwise have said. Fear that when you leave that lecture hall you will return to a Pakistani hotel, in a Pakistani city, and then perhaps visit a Pakistani site or two, and in any case, the next day, or the day after that, a Pakistani driver in a Pakistani car will drive you along a Pakistani road to a Pakistani airport where you will wait, with a great many Pakistani officials and citizens, until you can get on a plane. You know this. You are keenly aware of this. Would you, under such circumstances, even if you knew enough to begin to tell Muslim audiences some home truths, the very things they do not wish to hear? Would you tell them about how they had to confront the immutable texts of Islam that naturally inculcate certain views, that they had to figure out what they were going to do with those texts? Would you tell them that everywhere Infidels were waking up and finding out not that “Islam is a religion of peace” but quite the contrary? Would you tell them that the more Infidels learned about Islam and the history of Islamic conquest, and the more they studied what happened to non-Muslims in Muslim-ruled areas (“such as what happens to Hindus and Christians in Pakistan today” — as Walter Russell Mead did not, and never would, say), and the more they listened to the articulate defectors from Islam, and the more they took in what was happening around the world, why then the more they began to realize that Jihad was a permanent menace? Would you tell them that Infidels had begun to realize that Jihad was not merely limited to qitaal (military combat) or terrorism, but its chief instruments were Da’wa and demographic conquest, both supported by the Money Weapon supplied by the rich Arab states? Would you tell them, finally, that the political, economic, social, moral, and intellectual failures of Islamic societies was not a fault of the West, but attributable to Islam? Could any Westerner get up and say that in Pakistan? Of course not. Far easier to give them what they want, and even to let oneself believe something of the sort. It puts off any need to think about what may be an insoluble problem, but that will require not “solutions” (as some think) but actions taken to lessen the magnitude of the potential threat.
Money, fear — cupidity, timidity.
And stupidity. The stupidity that is demonstrated in the belief that everything having to do with Muslim countries and Muslim attitudes and Muslim behavior can be explained by those who have not taken the time to study Islam. Or if they do “study” it, they do so not as they should but by going to the sources of deliberate misinformation, those sly MESA-Nostran apologists intent on not explaining, but explaining away, the texts, tenets, attitudes, atmospherics of Islam. These include such obvious False Authorities as John Esposito. His “Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding” is so carefully placed in the heart of Washington, and so carefully funded by various rich Arabs, the Lebanese contracting family that got him started, and more recently, the Saudis and others who keep him going. They also include the less menacing, because even more comical, Karen Armstrong, for those who like their books pre-abridged by the author, to fit into some Reader’s Digest annual. This is not the way.
One suspects that Walter Russell Mead will deny that he said what is contained in that Pakistani newspaper’s precis. And no doubt he did not say in precisely that way what was reported. Quaere: what was it that he said, what were the exact statements he made, that allowed this particular version to be offered? That is more important.