For years those who have repeated the simple truth that while there are Muslims who are moderate, there is no moderate Islam, have been vilified as bigots and “Islamophobes,” and marginalized in the same way by Beltway analysts and the mainstream media (both liberal and faux-fearless conservative) in favor of those who were determined to “engage moderate Muslims.”
And while all and sundry have thought that this analysis manifested admirable mansuetude and sober judgment in light of the huge numbers of Muslims in the world and the necessity of not making all of them our enemies — a worthy goal indeed — it immediately entangled American policy (and American coverage of the global jihad) in fantasies that hindered realistic analysis of what we actually face in this conflict. It sent American officials and media talking heads on a fruitless search for moderate voices that led to their giving the likes of the Hamas-linked group CAIR tours of airport security procedures at O’Hare Airport, and gave CAIR and other groups like it access and influence at high levels.
Meanwhile, many of the same pseudo-moderates demonstrated once and for all that they were anything but moderate when they talked American officials into dissembling and obfuscating about the nature of the threat we face, not using the terms “jihad” or “jihadist” for fear of offending this great aggregate of moderate Muslims who supposedly abhor Al-Qaeda but will nonetheless be driven into its arms if we say the wrong word.
Among conservative speakers, writers, and bloggers, there is this same split. They want to defend America, unlike large segments of the Left, but many have bought the Dinesh D’Souza line that to do so we must not speak about the ideology that is at war against us, for to do so will offend our Muslim allies and drive them into the enemy camp. The only problem is that none of these people have ever been able to produce these Muslim allies they’re talking about. There are millions of Muslims who are not fighting the jihad and never will be, but can they be counted on to fight on our side? There is no reason whatsoever to think so — especially since no attempt whatsoever is being made to counter the jihadist appeal to them, which bases itself on Islamic loyalties.
In the media, Muslims in America who are in fact marginal and heterodox, who have been unable to keep even their own mosques from being taken over by “extremists,” and who command virtually no following among Muslims here or elsewhere, are the anointed media spokesmen on topics relating to Islamic jihad, both because they present the soothing image of a patriotic, pluralistic American Muslim who has no desire to impose Sharia here now or in the future, and because by featuring a Muslim rather than a non-Muslim analyst the shows (even the ones that preen themselves the most about being “politically incorrect”) hedge against charges of “racism” that are sure to come from the mau-mauing Islamic advocacy groups if the programming comes even close to telling it like it is.
And hate speech laws, already in effect in Canada and elsewhere, are closing in on the possibility of talking about the jihad threat at all — not because to do so is in any real sense “hate speech,” but because these same false moderates have skillfully and relentlessly portrayed any and all realistic analysis of the jihad ideology and theology as “hate speech.” Ignorant and indifferent Americans are being carried along on the ride: “Hate speech? Why, of course that should be outlawed! Now: what’s happening with that McCain dirty word rumor, and what Miley Cyrus’s dad say about her photoshoot?”
Seeing all this happening over the last few years, I have grown accustomed — if not resigned — to seeing the ground for getting the truth out diminishing. Those who speak the truth about these issues are already “racists” (what race is Islam again?) and “Islamophobes.” Maybe fairly soon it will even be illegal to quote the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah on jihad warfare against and the subjugation of unbelievers, unless one is doing so approvingly inside a mosque.
But that’s why I was all the more surprised to see this article in Foreign Policy. Does the truth, simply by virtue of its being true, have the power to conquer attempts to suppress it? Will the truth out, really, or can it be extinguished forever? I don’t know the answers to those questions. I hope the truth will out, and this is a sign of it, but I still think in the larger sense that we are in for some very rough days ahead.
“The Myth of Moderate Islam,” by Steven A. Cook in Foreign Policy, June 2008 (thanks to Patrick Poole):
Supporting moderation in all things Islamic may seem like a no-brainer, but woe betide the policymaker who tries to turn a plausible idea into a workable strategy.
Of all the cures commonly proposed for the many ailments afflicting the Middle East, there is one tonic nearly everyone seems to agree on: boosting moderate Islam.
It sounds eminently reasonable. If Islamic extremism is the problem, moderate Islam must be the solution. It follows that Western governments should therefore find ways to make the moderates more powerful and encourage the extremists to become more moderate. Allow Islamists to compete and accumulate power, the argument goes, and they will have little incentive to radicalize. Furthermore, assuming the mundane tasks of day-to-day governance will compel even the most extreme groups to focus more on filling potholes than on destroying the Great Satan.
But this belief is dead wrong. Not only is it impossible to agree on a working definition of the word “moderate,” but there is scant evidence that extremists really do moderate once they assume power.
Please be sure to read it all.