It takes an outstanding amount of chutzpah even for an Islamic supremacist to write an article entitled “The myth of the murderous Muslim” at a time when his coreligionists have just murdered people while screaming “Allahu akbar” in Nigeria and left a nail bomb at a church in Indonesia, and a cleric of his faith preaches the virtue of the mass murder of Jews, but chutzpah is apparently Columbia grad student Haroon Moghul’s middle name.
A couple of days ago I wrote a very lengthy response to Moghul’s lengthy apologia for the concept of “Islamophobia.” In it, I quoted this from Moghul’s piece:
I’m not claiming to present a complete cartography. But what I have should help us navigate a far too familiar terrain. After all, why do we have to put up with absurdly ahistorical arguments, such as Pamela Geller’s claim that “jihad” killed 270 million people–fanciful, hyperbolic, and almost endearingly fictitious? Not only is Islamophobia ridiculous, it has violent consequences.
Then I responded:
Moghul reports this as if Pamela Geller originated it, which would be like saying that I wrote the article “What’s Islamophobia, and Do I Have It?” because I am posting it here. Such carelessness ill befits someone who styles himself a scholar and an intellectual, and reveals that there is more than a hint of propaganda to what Moghul is trying to do here. A few seconds of googling would have revealed to Moghul that the source of this figure is not Pamela Geller, but the Islam analyst Bill Warner, and that Warner got his numbers from scholars such as Thomas Sowell and Koenraad Elst.
If Moghul really wanted to offer an evidence-based refutation of this number, he would have cited Warner and taken up each of the totals presented in the original article. Instead, he links to his own article on this, which claims that there simply couldn’t have been 270 million casualties of jihad because of world population figures. It’s possible that he’s right, but his analysis fails because he doesn’t deal with any of the material adduced in Warner’s piece to support his calculations. Moghul doesn’t even appear to know, or doesn’t want us to know, that Warner’s piece exists. Either way, it hardly inspires confidence in his claim to represent the reasoned, rational alternative to irrational “Islamophobia.”
Moghul did not respond to my piece, and now in al-Jazeera he has doubled down, repeating many of the same falsehoods and distortions that marred his original article, including the claim that Pamela Geller made up the figure of 270 million casualties of jihad out of thin air: “The myth of the murderous Muslim,” by Haroon Moghul for Al Jazeera, January 3:
Muslims are subversive jihadists. The Middle East is perpetually unstable. “Islam has bloody borders.” If you’ve already made up your mind, you’ll find a way to twist the facts to support your conclusion. And if the facts don’t do the job, you can always hire new ones.
Some Muslims are subversive jihadists. No counter-jihad voice of any significance says they all are, but that’s what Moghul wants you think they say. The Middle East is plenty unstable right now, but I don’t know of anyone who has claimed that it is “perpetually” unstable; it was quite stable for certain periods during the heydays of the great caliphates. “Islam has bloody borders” is a quote from Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations. Let’s see — taking Islam’s borders to mean areas where majority-Muslim countries border on majority non-Muslim countries, and countries where there are significant Muslim minorities, we see conflict and bloodshed between Muslims and non-Muslims in the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Chechnya, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and Nigeria. I am probably leaving a few places out. Is this enough blood on the borders to qualify Huntington’s statement as reasonable, and not a twisting of the facts? I believe it is; your opinion may differ. But I think this is enough to show that it is Haroon Moghul, and not the “Islamophobes,” who are, in his parlance, hiring new facts.
In the last year, American anti-Muslim hate groups have increased threefold.
Yeah, and they arrived at this figure by counting anti-jihad websites like this one and others as “anti-Muslim hate groups,” often to ludicrous effect: Pamela Geller alone, with Atlas Shrugs and the AFDI and SIOA websites and Facebook pages, is listed as five separate “hate groups.” But as long as the money keeps rolling in, the SPLC doesn’t care.
As playwright Wajahat Ali and others have found, the farther we move away from the September 11 terrorist attacks, the worse discrimination, prejudice and violence against Muslims become.
Ali’s outlandish claims, including the assertion that “prejudice and violence against Muslims” is epidemic, refuted here.
There’s a simple enough reason for this: Islamophobia has become an industry.
The real “Islamophobia industry” is the one for which Haroon Moghul works: the one that is dedicated to intimidating Americans into thinking that it’s “bigoted” to resist jihad and Islamic supremacism. This one has tens of millions more dollars, and a much more coordinated network, than do the foes of jihad and Islamic supremacism. Moghul’s claim rests on a Center for American Progress report that conflates money received by “Islamophobic” organizations over a period of ten years to give the impression of a huge sum funding some coordinated machine — when in fact the aggregate amount was less than the budget of the Center for American Progress for one single year, and was spread among seven quite disparate organizations. In reality, those resisting jihad and Islamic supremacism are few and ill-funded, facing a giant, fabulously wealthy media and propaganda machine of which Moghul is an exponent.
But of course, they need all that money, because it takes a lot of effort to erase obvious truths from people’s minds, and that’s what they’re trying to do. Our job is a lot easier, because reality keeps backing us up.
But Moghul paints a vastly different picture, in which “Islamophobia” has dominated the media narrative — a paranoid fantasy par excellence:
In the absence of alternative narratives, which can make sense of Muslim extremism, place it into context and guide American domestic and foreign policy, we are stuck with the voices we have – too often, these have been unqualified and uninformed. It will take us a long time to get past the damage done by years of well-funded Islamophobes, who have dominated the media landscape (finally answering, incidentally, why it is that “Muslims don’t do more to condemn terrorism” – nobody was listening).
Actually, everyone knows Muslims have condemned terrorism. Condemnations are easy. The question is why is it that Muslims don’t do more within their own communities to fight against the views of Islam that give rise to terrorism. We don’t see any program anywhere to teach Muslims why the al-Qaeda/Taliban/Hamas/Hizballah view of Islam is all wrong. Instead, we see people like Haroon Moghul attacking those he defames as “Islamophobes” — the very people who are standing up against a view of Islam he supposedly abhors and rejects.
But the resistance to bigotry has already begun and has already scored a number of successes. There is only so long, after all, you can lie to people.
That one really made me laugh. Here is a man who has told lie after lie and is in the process of telling more, and he intones piously that “there is only so long, after all, you can lie to people.” That’s true, Haroon, and I am here to tell you that your time is up.
The boy who cried Islamist
Islamophobia promotes a racialised view of Islam, viewing Arabs and Middle Easterners and Muslims generally as one interchangeable, subversive, homogenous mass; the actions of the few represent the intentions and aspirations of the whole. Thus we were led to believe there could be a plausible connection between bin Laden and Saddam. The resulting cost in American lives, treasure and credibility, is hard to quantify. This is Islamophobia’s fruit: poisonous policies.
In reality, George W. Bush right after 9/11 hastened to assure the world that Islam was a Religion of Peace, and repeated several times after that our conflict was not with Islam. He backed this up in his policies, such as the gloves the dirty kuffar guards must wear when handling the Qur’an in Guantanamo, and the funding of the building of mosques in various areas, etc. He invaded Iraq because he claimed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and meant to use them. Among the people Moghul defames as “Islamophobes,” I opposed that invasion. To claim that it had to do with “Islamophobia” is as ridiculous as it is paranoid.
For reasons of strategic shortsightedness alone, Islamophobia would be discredited soon enough. But there’s another reason: Islamophobia doesn’t correspond to reality. The more likely an American is to know a Muslim, the more likely she is to have a positive view of Islam. Exposure undermines prejudice. That is, meeting real Muslims pushes aside the media narrative that is so pernicious and harmful. Why? Because much of what Islamophobia peddles is hyperbolic, fanciful, or meaningless.
This is a superficially compelling line, but it fails under scrutiny. Moghul’s problem is not that Americans know too little about Islam and Muslims; it’s that they know too much. He wants to make us forget all the bombings, the beheadings, the riots, the frenzied murder of innocent people by “Allahu-akbaring” hordes. But the images are indelible.
Let’s see how Islamophobia does its damage….Consider this interview from The New York Times, in which a prominent anti-Muslim voice makes the following remark:
Why isn’t it a shrine dedicated to the victims of 9/11 or the 270 million victims of over a millennium of jihadi wars, land appropriations, cultural annihilations and enslavements?
The woman behind these words, who I have no interest in naming (I don’t want to give her any more attention than she already has),
You named her in your piece three days ago, clown.
used to be a regular on Fox News, but has lost even that perch. Her extremism was too extreme. (Indeed, one of the best ways to fight Islamophobia is to give the bigots a microphone and let them keep talking. Their disturbing rhetoric will soon unsettle the overwhelming majority of people, who recoil from such extremism.)
Moghul actually has no evidence that Fox has made some decision to bar Geller because of her “extremism.” He is just indulging in some Baghdad Bob-style wishful thinking.
But let’s spend a moment to reflect on this allegation; namely, that “270 million” are victims of a homogenous jihadi juggernaut. It is certainly an amazingly precise claim. It is often frequently repeated – Islamophobia resembles nothing if not an echo chamber of incorrectness. In the months since, I’ve encountered many anti-Muslim voices repeat or inflate this number. Most recently, I’ve been challenged to explain the “300 million” killed by “jihad”.
Even if we stick with the lower number, I can tell you that this number was probably pulled out of thin air. (Even if it wasn’t, as I will show, it doesn’t matter.)
It takes breathtaking audacity to keep repeating the claim that this figure was “pulled out of thin air” when, as I noted two days ago, Moghul could have found the source of it with a few seconds of googling. And if he had, he would have found that the number was not pulled out of thin air, but was based on calculations and estimates from reputable historians. I do not expect Moghul to have read my response to his earlier work — why should he accord any respect to a greasy Islamophobe? — but it is amazing that he can be this careless and he knows that his target audience will neither know or care, as long as he shores up their always-sagging victimhood narrative.
But for the sake of argument, let’s take this claim seriously. Namely, that “Muslims” killed somewhere between two or three hundred million. Can that be possible? Where does this number come from? Does it reveal a uniquely and dangerously recurrent Islamic aptitude for mass violence? In short, no, out of nowhere, and no.
He then goes on to offer a refutation of the number, again without dealing with the sources of any of the figures that led to the sum in the first place. As I wrote in my earlier piece, “it’s possible that he’s right, but his analysis fails because he doesn’t deal with any of the material adduced in Warner’s piece to support his calculations. Moghul doesn’t even appear to know, or doesn’t want us to know, that Warner’s piece exists. Either way, it hardly inspires confidence in his claim to represent the reasoned, rational alternative to irrational ‘Islamophobia.'”
Regarding India, for example, Moghul writes: “By the Islamophobe’s logic, millions of these Indians should have been slaughtered. But by whom? Muslims were never more than a minority and Islam was never imposed by force.” Koenraad Elst is a reputable historian who estimates that over the centuries, jihadis killed 80 million Hindus. Does Moghul refute this figure, show why it’s wrong, explain how it relates to his claim that “Islam was never imposed by force” in India? No. He just acts as if it doesn’t exist. So it’s his word against Elst’s, but he hasn’t given us any reason to believe him and not Elst.
What’s more, the Indian historian Sita Ram Goel observes that the Muslim conquest was brutal, as the Muslim invaders of India paid no respect to codes of warfare that had prevailed there for centuries:
Islamic imperialism came with a different code “” the Sunnah of the Prophet. It required its warriors to fall upon the helpless civil population after a decisive victory had been won on the battlefield. It required them to sack and burn down villages and towns after the defenders had died fighting or had fled. The cows, the Brahmins, and the Bhikshus invited their special attention in mass murders of non-combatants. The temples and monasteries were their special targets in an orgy of pillage and arson. Those whom they did not kill, they captured and sold as slaves. The magnitude of the booty looted even from the bodies of the dead, was a measure of the success of the military mission. And they did all this as mujahids (holy warriors) and ghazis (kafir-killers) in the service of Allah and his Last Prophet. (The Story of Islamic Imperialism in India, p. 44)
Moghul says: “Under the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal, some 30 percent of this Muslim dynasty’s nobility were not Muslim, a proportion that had risen to 50 percent in the reign of his son Aurangzeb (1658-1707). By nobility, I mean those individuals given land and status based on their ability to muster troops to defend and expand the realm. If Islam was perpetual jihadism, why would so many non-Muslims join in – and be allowed to join in?”
Why indeed? Moghul doesn’t offer any evidence for his claim that non-Muslims served in Aurangzeb’s army, and he might find it difficult to do so in light of facts like these from historian Francois Gautier:
Aurangzeb did not just build an isolated mosque on a destroyed temple, he ordered all temples destroyed, among them the Kashi Vishwanath temple, one of the most sacred places of Hinduism, and had mosques built on a number of cleared temple sites. Other Hindu sacred places within his reach equally suffered destruction, with mosques built on them. A few examples: Krishna’s birth temple in Mathura; the rebuilt Somnath temple on the coast of Gujarat; the Vishnu temple replaced with the Alamgir mosque now overlooking Benares; and the Treta-ka-Thakur temple in Ayodhya. The number of temples destroyed by Aurangzeb is counted in four, if not five figures. Aurangzeb did not stop at destroying temples, their users were also wiped out; even his own brother Dara Shikoh was executed for taking an interest in Hindu religion; Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded because he objected to Aurangzeb’s forced conversions.
Haroon Moghul increasingly shows himself not to be a rational interlocutor at all, but a shallow propagandist who is guilty of the very thing he claims to see in the work of “Islamophobes”: starting with a conclusion and then inventing a spurious chain of reasoning that appears to support it. And he does it all in service of defending and protecting the propaganda tool that Islamic supremacists have pressed into service in order to intimidate people into thinking they’re wrong to resist jihad: “Islamophobia.” It’s a sorry thing to have on one’s resume, and one’s soul, but it will play very well in the MESA-dominated halls of Columbia.