Jacob Laksin, a senior editor at FrontPage and a fine writer and journalist (with terrific taste in ties), has reviewed my book Stealth Jihad over at Pajamas Media. It’s a generally positive review. Laksin concludes this way:
Spencer’s intermittent lapses into Spengler notwithstanding, his thesis deserves a serious hearing. Emboldened by successes abroad and multicultural diffidence at home, Islamists may soon make more radical demands on American society. “This debate is going to have to take place sooner or later,” Spencer notes. In his enjoyably provocative way, he has gotten it started.
I take Laksin to be referring not to the Asia Times puffball, but to Oswald Spengler, the early twentieth-century author of that monument of pessimism, The Decline of the West — since right before this Laksin says that the stealth jihad in the U.S. is not “cause for despair.”
Now, I’m all for not despairing. As they say in South Carolina, dum spiro spero — while I breathe I hope — and I will never give up fighting to defend human rights and human dignity against the jihad and Islamic supremacism. But maybe Jacob is right: maybe I am a bit overly gloomy, albeit “enjoyably provocative.” His argument here is twofold. First, he says I exaggerate the importance of government guidelines forbidding officials to use words like “Islam” and “jihad” when discussing Islamic jihad terrorism:
Spencer ably deconstructs such wishful thinking. But on occasion he overstates the scale of American self-delusion. For instance, he makes much of a January 2008 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo that urged government officials to avoid using terms like “jihadist,” “Islamic terrorist,” “Islamist,” and “holy warrior.” There was much wrong with that justly maligned memo, but Spencer exaggerates the case when he submits it as evidence that “the U.S. government refuses to address the connection between jihadist terrorism and the theological tenets of Islam.” In an interview earlier this year, for instance, Dan Sutherland, the head of the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at DHS and an advisor to Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, rejected the idea that the memo represents the view of the U.S. government. “We would definitely not agree with parts of it,” Sutherland told this reviewer, adding that he would not oppose describing terrorists as “Islamic.” Sutherland also noted that his boss, Secretary Chertoff, regularly refers to “violent Islamic extremists.”…
Sutherland was being disingenuous. A well-placed source in CENTCOM tells me that it was Sutherland’s office that published these guidelines in the first place — making it likely that his later disagreement with the memo was born of the negative publicity it received. My source adds: “I don’t believe that the memo from his office was floated ‘just because.’ Someone was trying to make a difference or a mark, or something. It and the NCTC memo (and the identical State message) were not published in the hope that nothing much would come of them.” The State memo was signed by Condoleezza Rice herself. You can read a pdf of the DHS memo here, and of the NCTC memo (which State used word-for-word in their cable, signed by Rice) here. And here is a CENTCOM Red Team paper that was written largely to debunk those two memos — and would not have had to have been written if those memos had had no influence. And Chertoff himself has just recently shown that he has no understanding of the Islamic doctrine of jihad — and thus it is unlikely that he has formulated a comprehensive response to it.
Laksin also says,
…Spencer seems to underestimate the capacity of the United States to resist the more aggressive demands for accommodation from Islamic extremists.
He offers, however, no basis for this confidence, so I asked him in an email, and he referred to America’s ability to assimilate immigrants. Unfortunately, however, it seems to me that multiculturalism has paralyzed that capacity to assimilate. It isn’t difficult to foresee what the consequences of the non-assimilation of Muslim immigrants could all too easily be.
And finally, in an email Laksin also said: “Another issue I had is that the shirt in your author’s photo is much too orange.” Now, Jacob, that one really hurts. And thank you for the review!
By the way, here is the photo in question, from the book jacket. You be the judge!