–The problem here, however, is that when it comes to Islamic jihadists, virtually anything short of full capitulation is perceived as arrogant, uncaring or insulting. Any resistance to the jihad agenda is immediately cast as a grievous insult that must be redressed–
You are partially right, but the mistake you keep making is that these outreach efforts are targeted at Jihadists. They’re not, they’re targeted at the Muslim world where America’s reputation has taken a hit following such stupidity as destroying a secular state (Iraq) which acted as a buffer against religious extremism.
“And because the Qur’an teaches Muslims to distrust Infidels, as they are the “most vile of created beings” (98:6) and will never be satisfied until the Muslims discard Islam (2:120). One is not take them as friends or protectors (3:28; 5:51).”
Here, your reductionist approach, while convenient for the average jwatcher is off the mark. Look first at Afghan perceptions of America which were quite good following the invasion, these started to dip in 2005 when much that was promised to Afghanistan did not materialize (in part because many resources were diverted to Iraq). Second, the situation in the north is different than in the south. This is because the south is Pashtun while the North is a mix of Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks etc. perceptions of America are different depending on whether you’re a pashtun or not. These people have read the same Koran but react differently to Americans because they are not the same as AQ. — from a poster critical of Robert Spencer’s comments on Admiral Mullen here
The poster begins with an astonishing take on the invasion of Iraq. He claims that “America’s reputation has taken a hit following such stupidity as destroying a secular state (Iraq) which acted as a buffer against religious extremism.”
That statement deserves scrutiny. America’s “reputation” among Muslims has not “taken a hit” because the Americans never did, and never could, stand high in the opinion of any Muslims who take Islam seriously — and whose contempt and hostility, and sometimes murderous hatred, for non-Muslims has its source in the texts and tenets and attitudes of Islam. It is true that Sunni Arabs are enraged that the Americans replaced Saddam Hussein, but that is not, as the poster claims, because Iraq was a “secular state” and they longed for that “secular” state to remain. Why would the likes of Saudi Arabia regret the passing of a “secular state” in the Middle East? I have explained at tedious length before that the soi-disant “secularism” of the only two Ba”athist regimes — those in Syria and Iraq — was skin-deep. In fact, it was merely the camouflage used to disguise, and make palatable, in the case of Syria, a despotism run of, by, and for the Alawites (who make up only 12% of the population). In the case of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, it provided cover for a Sunni Arab despotism, when the Sunni Arabs constitute less than 20% of the population.
The real reason the Sunni Arabs were furious with the United States for its invasion of Iraq was that that invasion, and the subsequent toppling of Saddam Hussein and his entire regime, meant that power had been irrevocably transferred from the Sunni to the Shi”a Arabs in Iraq. That, for Sunni Arabs, is intolerable in and of itself. But it becomes still more infuriating at a time when the Islamic Republic of Iran, a Shi”a state, makes claims to be the most aggressive Muslim state in the Lesser Jihad against Israel and the Greater Jihad against the camp of Infidels and in particular the perceived leader of that camp, the Great Satan, the United States. (For Iranians, however, historical resentments will also give pride of place, surprising to those unfamiliar with the Iranian bestiary, to Great Britain.)
But this is hardly the end of the series of misconceptions that underlie the larger criticism of Spencer, a criticism based on the notion, that neither Spencer nor I nor Marisol share, which is that a “Jihadi” must necessarily be someone interested in promoting Jihad only through the use of terrorism. The word “Jihadist” rightly means all those who participate, directly or indirectly, in the “Jihad” or “struggle” to remove, by whatever instruments are available, obstacles to the spread and dominance of Islam. And many were unavailable until recently. The Money Weapon did not exist before OPEC revenues supplied sums of money so vast that much could be spent on building mosques and madrasas and spreading propaganda and employing Western hirelings in the service of Islam, and threatening Western governments with economic reprisals, or holding out the prospect of economic gain (see the latest Lockerbie outrage). Campaigns of Da”wa and demographic conquest in the Western world would have been unthinkable a mere fifty years ago.
There was nothing inevitable about it, no long historical process that was simply impossible to stop, but within a mere 30-40 years, millions of Muslims were allowed to settle in Western Europe, and were permitted to receive every conceivable benefit from generous welfare states set up by, for the benefit of, and still paid entirely by, the non-Muslim indigenous peoples of those besieged-from-within countries. Those countries were betrayed by their own negligent elites, who were so unprepared to deal with or grasp the meaning and menace of Islam, and so willing to console themselves with unexamined and pious sentiments that assume that all people everywhere are the same, want the same things, and that while many come with an alien creed, they can ultimately be integrated.
What those elites did not understand is that not all immigrant groups are the same. Muslims pose a permanent problem that cannot be overcome, for they brought with them, undeclared, in their mental baggage, a Total Belief-System that is the source of their hostility to all non-Muslims. Their creed is not merely alien. It is alien, and permanently hostile, hostile to the view of man, hostile to the solicitude for the individual, hostile to the equal treatment of women, hostile to the many means of artistic expression, hostile to the free and skeptical inquiry that the West encourages and without which the enterprise of science cannot take place, hostile to the legal and political institutions of the advanced Western world or, more accurately, to all the institutions that are the product of non-Muslims, in the West, or among the Rest.
And this is not all that poster shows, by his ill-considered criticism, that he has failed to register. He says, for example, that Al Qaeda (or AQ) should not be understood to stand for every one of the Muslim groups and groupuscules that use terrorism as their form of “qitaal” and see it as an instrument of war legitimized by relative military weakness vis-a-vis the Infidels. By that token, the six million Jews of Israel would be justified in using every weapon on earth, including nuclear ones, against the 300 million Muslim Arabs who have been conducting Jihad against them.
And of course there are differences among Muslims. No one who writes at JW thinks that every Muslim, every group of Muslims, has taken in the Qur’an and the Hadith in exactly the same way. Who would possibly think that of a billion people?
But that’s not the main point. The point is: what are the differences among Muslims, in their reception of the message of Islam, particularly as it relates to the attitude toward non-Muslims, and their societies, laws, and rights to continued existence? What are the attitudes that naturally arise in those who claim to be Muslims, and that in order to be suppressed or ignored, take a great effort on the part of the Believer, or the one who at least calls himself, considers himself, a Muslim? What are the differences, for example, if one is an Arab, and can read the Qur’an in Arabic — even though, as Christoph Luxenberg notes, nearly 20% of the Qur’an is inaccessible even to native speakers of Arabic? How will such a person’s reading of the Qur’an differ from that of those Muslims, some 80% of the total, who read the Qur’an not in Arabic but in Urdu, or Farsi, or one of the Bahasa variants, or, for that matter, in French or English or Spanish? What will be the effect of the ferocity of the Arabic, scarcely conveyed in other languages, and the relentless negativeness of Muhammad’s message — with constant references to the awfulness of doing what is prohibited, and seldom praise of doing what is commanded? For the Qur’an is all hellfire and brimstone; the Bible only very intermittently so.
And even if this or that Muslim population reads the Qur’an differently, either in another country (e.g., Afghanistan as compared to Iraq) or of different ethnic groups within the same country (e.g., within Afghanistan, Pashtuns as compared to Tadjiks) or different Muslim sects (Shi’a, Sunnis, even Ibadi Muslims), it is surely the responsibility of those in charge to note those differences, and to be sufficiently comprehending of Islam to be able to explain them.
But along with explaining why, for example, Afghani Muslims tend to be far less vicious in their attitudes than Arab Muslims, though perhaps even more aggressive in the sense that Afghanistan is a completely tribal society, where fighting is a way of life, not something taken up only when the occasion seems to warrant, one has a perfect right to do as is done at JW, stressing that the texts of Islam, the tenets of Islam, all prepare the mental substratum of Believers so that they will always tend to be hostile to non-Muslims. One has a perfect right to point out that even Good Works by those non-Muslims, no matter how obviously generous (to us) and straightforward they seem to be, will be taken by Muslims to be sly acts designed to undercut them, to make them listen more closely to the whisperings of Shaytan.
The effect of Islam on the minds of men, the ways in which it causes them to acquire, early on, a habit of mental submission, and discourages them from asking questions about Islam itself, in engaging in any form of moral probing, or wondering about the logic of Islam, or the tall tales of the Qur’an, and all of this contributes to fashioning brains that, only in the free West can Muslims really participate fully in the life of an advanced Western society, and then only with difficulty, and only to the extent that the mind-forged manacles of Islam can be thrown off. Otherwise, they are here geographically, but not in any other sense.
Yes, Afghanis were pleased to have the horrible regime of the Taliban thrown off by the invading Americans, but that is not the same thing as thinking that the Americans, as Infidels, could ever be objects of true gratitude and real friendship. The same thing can be observed in Iraq. The Shi’a were delighted — Shi’a exiles had after all helped inveigle the American government into the invasion of Iraq — when Saddam Hussein was overthrown by the only power on earth that could do it, and could remove his sons and all of the main figures in his regime so that it would never come back. But did this translate into any sustained support for, gratitude to, the Americans? Of course it didn’t. And it couldn’t.
And by this time no one should be surprised, and no one should ever expect to win Muslim hearts and minds. It will not happen. It can’t, not as long as Muslims take the teachings of Islam deeply to heart.
The poster goes on to say that in Afghanistan the Afghanis lost their faith in the Americans when the “ressources” [sic] that they were promised failed to materialize. What a peculiar remark. What exactly does he think the Afghanis were promised? Haven’t tens of billions of dollars been spent on Afghanistan, a country where the constant fighting, and the inshallah-fatalism, and the 90% illiteracy rate, and the hatred of “bida” or innovation, make in impossible to do very much? And in any case, why did the Americans owe the Afghanis anything at all? Didn’t they remove the oppressive and murderous Taliban regime? Wasn’t that quite enough?
The same poster then mentions the differences between the hostility exhibited by the Pashtuns as compared to the northern tribes (Uzbeks, Tadjiks) — a point that I have already made above. Arab Muslims are those who, in a sense, are most Muslim, and therefore most deeply and permanently hostile, and also the people who, as a group, have been most scarred intellectually by Islam. Why? Because Islam, and the Arab sense of being Arab, of Arabness, of ‘Uruba, is so tied up with Islam, inextricably so, that many Christian Arabs defend Islam, protect Islam from Western criticism, make allowances for Islam — even promote the Muslim agenda against, for example, the Israelis, even as some of those Arab Christians know perfectly well what they must endure from the Muslims, and know perfectly well that they have nothing to fear from Israel.
There are Middle Eastern Christians, however, who are numerous and cohesive enough to resist this. Above all, they are fully aware that while they use the Arabic language and may even carry Arabic names, they are not Arabs. For their collective existence preceded the arrival of the Arabs bearing Islam — I am thinking especially of the Maronites of Lebanon, the Copts of Egypt, and the Chaldeans and Assyrians of Iraq. When they can leave the Middle East and are free to think and speak, they show quite clearly that they, unlike for example the “Palestinian” Arab Christians, do not, and will not, promote the agenda of Islam. Instead they will, in the West, often tell the horrific truth about Islam, once they have managed to adapt fully to the mental freedom the West offers, and to see clearly, from afar, their own reality — which when you live, permanently fearful, in a Muslim sea, sometimes leads to self-deception as well as deception.
Robert Spencer explains, again and again, sometimes with a hint of weariness or frustration (it takes stamina to keep pointing out what should be obvious, but amazingly, is not) that the behavior of Muslims around the world can most intelligently be explained by reference to Islam itself, to its texts and tenets. He points out that the enormous and frequently comical effort that is made by so many in the press, on radio, on television, and in various Western governments, to deny that Islam, a Total Belief-System that offers a Complete Regulation of Life, has anything to do with that behavior is akin, in its totalitarian effect (especially in the Arab countries) to a kind of lifelong brainwashing unlike anything that we, out of mental incapacity, have been able to recognize. And we have failed to make important distinctions, lazily lumping together under the same word “religion” very different kinds of faiths. Islam is a Religion and a Politics, and a Geopolitics, and in its effect, among those groups — such as the Arabs and Pakistanis (who are the least resistant to it) akin to a totalitarian political system.