In evaluating the threat of Islam and Jihad, for the colin-powells of this world what counts is the flimsiest of anecdotal evidence. He takes the sentimentalism of our depraved politics at face value: “and then there is Mary, who lives in Sioux City, Iowa and makes $13.42 an hour.” In this he recalls Bush at one of his State-of-the-Union farces, pointing to an Iraqi woman, who had been deliberately seated next to the parents of a Marine killed in Iraq. He asks her to stand up and acknowledge the applause of the crowd, applause presumably due her because she is “an Iraqi woman” who has not tried to kill Americans, and may even support what they are doing, or think they are doing, in Iraq — which makes her, of course, a hero.
In an interview yesterday, Powell reached new heights or depths (they are the same in this case) of anecdotal absurdity. He offered up this:
“I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say, and it is permitted to be said. Such things as ‘Well you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.’ Well the correct answer is ‘He is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian, he’s always been a Christian.’ But the really right answer is ‘What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?’ The answer is ‘No. That’s not America.’ Is there something wrong with some 7-year old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she can be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion he’s a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.
“I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo-essay about troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave. And as the picture focused in you can see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then at the very top of the headstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have a Star of David. It had a crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Karim Rashad Sultan Khan. And he was an American, he was born in New Jersey, he was 14 at the time of 9/11 and he waited until he can go serve his counrty and he gave his life.”
So, on the basis of having seen a picture of a Muslim mother of a Muslim son who had been killed in Iraq, Colin Powell uses his (apparent) prestige to tell the interviewer and all of America, that there is nothing wrong with Islam, nothing wrong with the ideology of Islam, nothing to be concerned about in Sharia supremacism, nothing wrong with the idea of a Muslim president. His irresponsibility astounds.
He once held high office. And though he never demonstrated any particular gifts, he acquired — possibly because there had to be something good about him to focus on — the reputation for “integrity.” Apparently the gift to his wife of a Jaguar from Prince Bandar, his tennis partner, who was recently revealed in Great Britain to have been the recipient of up to $2 billion in kickbacks from a British aerospace company, and who was famous for distributing his largesse to powerful people in Washington, did nothing to modify this reputation for “integrity.” It would be useful to know, by the way, whether Colin Powell has been on the Arab lecture-circuit, the way so many others among our high and mighty have been, picking up, for a single lecture, a hundred thousand, two hundred thousand, even a million dollars (if you are Bill Clinton, or the first George Bush). But palling around with an obvious fixer and influence-peddler who worked on behalf of a sinister ruling family of a most sinister country, Saudi Arabia, befriending him, becoming his tennis-partner, says a lot about Colin Powell’s judgment — none of it good.
But in his offhand remarks In Defense Of Islam — remarks based on his having seen a photograph of a mother mourning her son — demonstrate what is so wrong with so many of our high and mighty, who presume to instruct and protect us. What does that photograph tell us? It tells us nothing at all about what Islam inculcates. Unless Colin Powell has studied the Qur’an, Hadith, and Sira, unless he has read the Qur’anic commentators, and such influential people at present as Qaradawi and Tantawi, he knows nothing about Islam, and has a duty not to make pronouncements as if he does. The dead soldier was, it appears, one of a very few Muslims who joined up. Indeed, there have been widespread reports of how the handful of Muslim (not Black Muslim) soldiers in the American and British armies have been subject to harassment and threats and even, in Great Britain, plots, by fellow Muslims who are outraged that they would behave in so un-Islamic a fashion, and dare to join an Infidel army to “fight against Muslims.”
Is Colin Powell aware of how few Muslims are in the army, the Reserves, the National Guard? Is he aware of how few are like the soldier whose grieving mother at his gravestone apparently struck him so much that he felt it gave him the right to pontificate to the public at large about Islam? He only has that right when he learns enough about Islam. And there are no signs, none, that he has been any more diligent or responsible in fulfilling that task than Bush, or a hundred others, at the top of the Washington heap, who have squandered so many men, so much money, so much material, so much attention, so much time, in their insensate inability, or willful refusal, to learn about the ideology — the politics, the geopolitics — of the Total Belief-System of Islam.
What Powell did was a clear dereliction of duty. He baselessly, on the slimmest and most misleading of anecdotal evidence, jumped to sweeping conclusions about Islam and Jihad. A glimpse of a grave and a griever tugged at his heartstrings, but did not tell him anything about what the texts and tenets of Islam are all about, and why that particular grieving mother was, if she had no regrets about her son joining the American army, as little representative of Muslims as her son was. That photograph had no larger significance. It said nothing about the texts, tenets, attitudes, and atmospherics of Islam. An intelligent observer would have understood this. A responsible observer, aware of his own ignorance of Islam, would never have dared to draw a conclusion, and impose that conclusion, on a presumably naive, and in some cases far too respectful, audience.
Of course Powell is behaving just like those who sentimentalize everything, reducing issues to this or that “real life” individual who may, or may not, be a useful representative or guide. But the error in this case was particularly egregious, and the irresponsibility flabbergasting, given the dangers the Infidels everywhere face. Does Powell know what is going on in southern Thailand? Does he think about the Biafra War, or southern Sudan? What does he know about the treatment of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh? What does he know about the spending of a hundred billion dollars by the Saudis alone to spread Islam all over the globe? What does he know about the present and certain future troubles, presented by no other group of immigrants, the result of the Muslim presence in Western Europe? He knows, I suspect, nothing of this. He’s a big shot. He delivers lectures. He speaks slowly, and portentously. He has an air, some think (I don’t) of “rectitude.” We are expected to admire him, and to forgive this kind of negligence — a failure to perform due diligence in investigating the matter of Islam — that does damage to the ignorant and the simple-minded, who may not recognize anecdotal evidence, or be able to see how misleading it is.
Why should we forgive Colin Powell? What’s so wonderful, what has ever been so wonderful, about him? And when will he give back that Jaguar to Prince Bandar?