The subheading to this piece is “‘Islam is the problem’ and ‘Islam is not the problem’ are equally true and equally false statements—and equally unhelpful for addressing the issues.” “Journalist” Cathy Young apparently intends that statement to be some kind of Zen gateway to insight, but in reality it epitomizes how muddled and ultimately incoherent her piece is.
Young acknowledges that a lot of Muslims are terrorists, but then argues that there are violent Jews and Christians, too, which apparently is supposed to make us feel more sanguine about Islamic jihad terrorism. She grants that there just miiiiight be “inherent traits, doctrinal and historical” within Islam “that make it more predisposed to militarized fundamentalism than Christianity or Hinduism,” but then touts Islamic reformers and warns: “The more ‘anti-jihadists’ conflate Islamism with all Islam and bash ordinary Muslims, the more they boost fears of ‘Islamophobia’—giving an excuse to those who would soft-pedal criticism of radical Islam.”
How Young proposes to separate “Islamism” from Islam she doesn’t bother to explain; she no doubt imagines some unbridgeable chasm between the two, making it not only inconceivable that any “ordinary Muslims” could ever become “Islamists,” but turning those who have noted that “ordinary Muslims” haven’t done much of anything to stop the spread of the jihad ideology in Muslim communities into moral pariahs, to be shunned by all decent folk.
And so she returns yet again to Pamela Geller and me. Last year, after Islamic jihadis tried to murder us in Garland, Texas, Young published not one, but two lengthy and mendacious screeds attacking us (here and here) — and those followed several other broadsides against me over the years: Young is a determined apologist for jihad terror.
And so to set the record straight yet again, below is the salient portion of Young’s latest, with comments interspersed.
“Neither Side’s Overreactions To Islam Are Helping Us,” by Cathy Young, The Federalist, June 23, 2016 (thanks to Lookmann):
…Robert Spencer’s site, Jihad Watch, has suggested that peaceful, non-violent, even secularized Muslims are a danger to the West as long as they have not renounced Islam because they or their children may revert to its more militant forms.
Young’s link goes to a ten-year-old article by Hugh Fitzgerald; Young links to an archive site instead of to Jihad Watch itself, perhaps to imply that the article was scrubbed to hide its insidious content. It wasn’t: it’s right here.
I’ve written 15 books, dozens of booklets, over 1000 articles, and over 40,000 blog posts, and most of what this obsessive smear merchant can find to hit me with are things other people have said. In fact, in ten links Young provides to show how terrible Pamela Geller and I are, only two actually go to anything written by me. One would think that if I were really as vile as Young and her allies make out, they would have some damning quotes that I actually said, rather than having to descend to guilt by association games.
Not that what she has here is damning. As for Hugh Fitzgerald’s piece, Young seems to think it egregious and obviously false to suggest that (in her words, not Hugh’s) “peaceful, non-violent, even secularized Muslims are a danger to the West as long as they have not renounced Islam because they or their children may revert to its more militant forms.” Is Cathy Young aware of how her words look after the child of Muslim immigrants just murdered 49 people in Orlando? Omar Mateen didn’t grow up in a “secularized” family, but certainly in a “peaceful, non-violent” one. Said and Cherif Kouachi, the Charlie Hebdo jihad mass murderers, were born in Paris, the children of Algerian immigrants. Then there is the case of Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, which Hugh discusses in his piece; that he actually exists, actually tried to murder people for Allah and Islam, and was the son of assimilated immigrants seems to bother Cathy Yong not at all; she is sure that the idea that the children of Muslim immigrants might become jihadists is not only ridiculous, but morally wrong to suggest.
Spencer and his ally Pamela Geller (Atlas Shrugs) have repeatedly attacked reformist, anti-Islamist Muslims such as Jasser, Manji, and Muslim convert Stephen Schwartz; Geller has also defended Serb perpetrators of Bosnian genocide as leaders of anti-jihadist resistance.
Typical of a propagandist, as opposed to someone interested in illuminating the truth, is that the propagandist will ignore, rather than examine and deal with, evidence that is at variance with his or her thesis. In this case, Young doesn’t see fit to mention that in February 2014, I defended Jasser against a smear campaign from the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), calling him “a strong voice against Hamas-linked CAIR and other malignant Islamic supremacist forces.” Nor does Young bother to consider Geller’s rebuttal to Jasser’s attack, which you can find here.
As for Manji and Schwartz, those are the only links in Young’s attack that actually lead to things I’ve written. The one about Manji is from 2005; in it, I write: “Here I go again. People will say: you don’t really support Muslim reformers like Manji and Reza Aslan [remember, this was 2005, before Aslan became the charmer he is today]. If you did, you wouldn’t criticize their work. But in fact, I am all for anyone who will confront and combat the causes of Islamic terrorism. All I want them to do is tell the whole truth. Is that too much to ask?” I stand by that, and still wonder if it is too much to ask.
Apparently it is for Cathy Young; in the piece she links about Schwartz, from 2004 (why only ancient research, Ms. Young?), I write: “I was saddened to read Mr. Schwartz’s letter, particularly its heading, since I have never attacked him in any way. I have merely asked questions about his recommendations for a reconfiguration of Islam so as to make it no longer a refuge and motivating force for international terrorists. Had Mr. Schwartz answered these questions honestly, fully, and civilly, we might have been on the way to a fruitful dialogue that could have helped accomplish what he professes to work for: “convincing Muslims of the need for moderation.”
It is extremely careless for Young to take two pieces in which I affirm the Muslim “need for moderation” and declare my support for “anyone who will confront and combat the causes of Islamic terrorism” as evidence that I don’t support sincere Islamic reformers. She is apparently counting on no one clicking on the links; she has played that game before. Young seems to think that moderate Muslims are sacrosanct simply by dint of being moderate, and should be deferred to at all times — never questioned, never engaged in debate, never criticized, however respectfully. They are gods to be revered.
In a weird non-sequitur, Young then veers to Geller’s alleged support for genocide against Muslims. With Cathy Young, always check the links. This one goes to a five-year-old Julia Gorin piece, linked by Geller, explaining that the Serbs were fighting back against Muslim attacks, and acknowledging crimes by Serbian forces: “Whatever proof will be shown of executions by Mladic’s forces of Muslim POWs (and there were a few hundred — though not 8000)…” The details of that conflict are hotly disputed. Young is employing the fashionable tactic of assuming that the claims made by the Muslim side are true, and then casting any disputing of them as support for this genocide. It’s a cheap rhetorical trick, and it further unmasks Young as a viciously biased propagandist, rather than a competent or fair-minded journalist.
Some Indications Islam May Reform
These “anti-jihadists” not only offer a skewed, one-sided take on Islamic history and beliefs but relentlessly hype the “Muslim peril.” Any violent crime by someone of Muslim background can be spun as lone-wolf terrorism, right down to a meth addict’s violent rampage in a Wal-Mart; even caraccidents get enlisted into “vehicular jihad.”
The Wal-Mart story goes to an American Muslim link that resolves directly to a CBS News story. I did my own search to find that Pamela Geller had written about it as “vehicular jihad.” How absurd, right? That hysterical “Islamophobe.” Young appears to want her readers to believe that “vehicular jihad” is a figment of the “Islamophobic” imagination. She doesn’t tell them that in September 2014, the Islamic State told Muslims in the West: “If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman, or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car…” Jihadis have hit people with cars in Israel, Austria, France, Canada, and elsewhere. Young is sure it wasn’t in play in the incidents she adduces; yet in an age when authorities so aggressively whitewash such incidents, can she really be sure?
When there is no Muslim connection, one can be fantasized: Geller has obsessively pursued the theory that 2007 Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho, a Korean national and a Christian, was a secret jihadi because of his enigmatic “Ismail Ax” arm tattoo.
Obsessively? Remember: with a dishonest writer like Young, check the links. This one goes to a page at Pamela Geller’s site showing 13 posts involving Cho, with the last one dating from 2007, nine years ago. Thirteen posts, mind you, out of over 37,000 posts at PamelaGeller.com. Yes, that’s very obsessive. Anyway, no one has ever explained what the “Ismail Ax” tattoo was all about. Cathy Young, however, is sure it has nothing to do with jihad, and that it’s evidence of being black-hearted and evil to suggest otherwise. How does she know? Because she hates Pamela Geller.
It’s mystifying that this hate-filled woman still pursues her obsessive vendetta against Pamela Geller and me, ten years after her first attack. What’s even more mystifying is that a generally thoughtful publication such as The Federalist would take her seriously enough to publish it. In a remotely sane world, a “journalist” with this little regard for truth and accuracy would have long ago been waiting tables somewhere rather than writing for any publication at all.