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Who says Islam is a totalitarian doctrine? Well, Geert Wilders does, of course. As the editors point out in Monday’s superb National Review Online editorial, the Dutch parliamentarian has even had the temerity to compare Islam with Nazism. Strong stuff indeed, and for speaking it, Wilders has earned the disdain not just of the usual Muslim Brotherhood satellite organizations but even of many on the political right.
Though they support free-speech rights, and thus grudgingly concede that Wilders should be permitted to say such things, they want you to understand they find his sentiments deplorable. Taking the politically correct view, they assure you that Islam is not a problem at all – it’s just those bad extremists and Islamists who have, as the Bush-era refrain went, “hijacked one of the world’s great religions.”
Emblematic is the estimable Charles Krauthammer, who has described Wilders’s views as “extreme, radical, and wrong.” Dr. K.’s complaint, expressed on Fox News back in March (and published on the Corner), was that Wilders conflates “Islam and Islamism.” The latter, Krauthammer insists, is “an ideology of a small minority which holds that the essence of Islam is jihad, conquest, forcing people into accepting a certain very narrow interpretation [of Islam].”
As I take a backseat to no one in my admiration of Dr. K., I wonder what he’d make of Bernard Lewis’s take on this subject. Professor Lewis is the distinguished scholar widely and aptly admired, including by Wilders’s detractors, as the West’s preeminent authority on Islam. At Pajamas Media, Andrew Bostom has unearthed a 1954 International Affairs essay in which Professor Lewis quite matter-of-factly compared Islam with Communism. The essay, in fact, was called, “Communism and Islam.”
In it, Lewis considered “the very nature of Islamic society, tradition, and thought,” and concluded that its principal defining characteristic is the “authoritarianism, perhaps we may even say the totalitarianism, of the Islamic political tradition.” Expanding on this, he wrote:
There are no parliaments or representative assemblies of any kind, no councils or communes, no chambers of nobility or estates, no municipalities in the history of Islam; nothing but the sovereign power, to which the subject owed complete and unwavering obedience as a religious duty imposed by the Holy Law… For the last thousand years, the political thinking of Islam has been dominated by such maxims as “tyranny is better than anarchy,” and “whose power is established, obedience to him is incumbent.”
But what about the conceit that undergirds current American foreign policy, the notion that Islam and Western democracy are perfectly compatible? Lewis dismissed the idea as so much elite wishful thinking:
Many attempts have been made to show that Islam and democracy are identical – attempts usually based on a misunderstanding of Islam or democracy or both. This sort of argument expresses a need of the uprooted Muslim intellectual who is no longer satisfied with or capable of understanding traditional Islamic values, and who tries to justify, or rather, restate, his inherited faith in terms of the fashionable ideology of the day. It is an example of the romantic and apologetic presentation of Islam that is a recognized phase in the reaction of Muslim thought to the impact of the West.
Clearly, the ensuing half-century has found Western intellectuals – regardless of political bent – joining romantic forces with their uprooted Muslim counterparts. Thus the accusation by Dr. Krauthammer, to take a prominent but by no means singular example, that Wilders fails to perceive the distinction – I’d call it a hoped-for distinction – between Islam and Islamism. Yet this accusation itself conflates Islam with Muslims, as well as Islamists with violent jihadists. This confusion leads Krauthammer to surmise both (a) that only a small minority of Muslims believe jihad is “the essence of Islam,” and (b) that because most Muslims in the West are not terrorists, it should be “obvious” that they are not Islamists.
This is wrong on several levels. First, as Robert Spencer explains, “Jihad… is a key element of the Islamic faith according to every single Islamic authority on the planet.” To deny that it is the “essence of Islam” – which is how the prophet Mohammed regarded it – is to deny a basic fact. And though, as Spencer acknowledges, jihad is subject to varying interpretations, Lewis is clear on the preponderant construction. As he has recounted several times, most recently in The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years, “The overwhelming majority of early authorities… citing relevant passages in the Qur’an and in the tradition, discuss jihad in military terms.” This jibes, to quote Ibn Warraq, with “the celebrated Dictionary of Islam,” which describes jihad as an “incumbent religious duty,” and defines it as “a religious war with those who are unbelievers in the mission of Muhammad.”
Spencer echoes Lewis when he elaborates that “all the mainstream sects and schools of Islamic jurisprudence teach as a matter of faith that Islam is intrinsically political and that Muslims must wage war against unbelievers and subjugate them under the rule of Islamic law.” The fact that most Muslims do not engage in violent jihad, whether out of practicality, indifference, or what have you, does not change what Islamic doctrine says. Nor does it mean these Muslims are “rejecting” that mandate. They are ignoring it.
Moreover, as I’ve noted on several occasions, the point of jihad is to spread sharia, the Islamic legal system whose installation is the necessary precondition to creating an Islamic society. That need not be done by violent means. In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s most influential Islamist organization, maintains that America and Europe will be “conquered” not by violence but by dawa – the proselytism of Islam by non-violent (or, more accurate, pre-violent) means, such as infiltration of our institutions. Spencer calls this phenomenon “stealth jihad.”
One of the greatest sources of confusion and deception is the difference between leftists, progressives, socialists, communists and fascists. I thought about this as I caught a glimpse of the Oct. 2 “One Nation” march on Washington.
The participants proudly marched with banners, signs and placards reading “Socialists,” “Ohio U Democratic Socialists,” “International Socialists Organization,” “Socialist Party USA,” “Build A Socialist Alternative” and other signs expressing support for socialism and communism.
In all of life’s tribulations, there is nothing so aggravating as being condescended to by an idiot. In last week’s CNN debate in the Delaware Senate race between the astonishingly well-spoken Christine O’Donnell and the unfortunate-looking Chris Coons, O’Donnell had to put up with it from Coons for 90 minutes.
O’Donnell wiped the floor with Coons, moderators Wolf Blitzer and Nancy Karibjanian, and the idiotic University of Delaware students asking questions – all of whom were against her.
“I thought unions were great – until at Chrysler, the union steward started screaming at me. Working at an unhurried pace, I’d exceeded ‘production’ for that job.”
That comment, left on my blog by a viewer who watched my Fox Business Network show about unions, matches my experience. No one ordered me to slow down, but union rules and union culture at ABC and CBS slowed the work. Sometimes a camera crew took five minutes just to get out of the car.
There was a reason that employers in the middle of the 19th century had signs that said, No Irish need apply – and why employers in the middle of the 20th century no longer had such signs. It was not that employers had changed. The Irish had changed.
The Catholic Church for years worked to bring about such changes among the Irish immigrants and their offspring, just as various religious and secular organizations among the Jews, among blacks, and among other groups worked to bring about changes within their respective groups.
We are in the era of Democratic Extreme Girls – Big Nanny handmaidens who demand control of your children, your health care, your energy use, your pocketbook and your news. And that’s just for starters. If you think President Obama will move to the center after the midterms, think again.
Liberal bloggers are buzzing about the possibility that environmental czar Carol Browner could be appointed White House chief of staff next year.
Assume the polls are correct and Republicans win control of the House, and perhaps even the Senate, in next month’s elections. What lessons will the White House learn? Will Barack Obama interpret the vote as a repudiation of much of his agenda, or will he conclude that he made a few tactical errors but was still right on the big issues?
Bet on the latter. All indications coming out of the White House suggest that if Democrats suffer major losses, the president and his top aides will resolutely refuse to reconsider the policies – national health care, stimulus, runaway spending – that led to their defeat.