Wednesday, February 02, 2011 8:05 AM
At Pajamas Media, David Solway asks a question I, too, have been pondering, and includes a nice mention of The Death of the Grown-Up:
And when Krauthammer proceeds to dismiss “Islamism” as merely “an ideology of a small minority,” he loses credibility, revealing a state of denial more plausibly associated with America’s coastal elites, public intellectuals, academic limpets, and media dilettantes like Paul Krugman, Peter Beinart, Thomas Friedman, David Remnick et al. Andrew Bostom takes Krauthammer roundly to task for his “fundamental ignorance of mainstream, classical Islamic Law” and for his “uninformed, incoherent musings on Geert Wilders and Islam.” Diana West, too, in The Death of the Grown-Up, castigates Krauthammer for going “all mushy on us,” passing off as “Islamist” what is plainly part of “Islam as a whole, as a historical continuum, as the theology of what we know as terrorism, as a rationale for dhimmi repression.” How someone as presumably knowledgeable as Krauthammer could become on this matter a charter member of the middlebrow illiterati is troubling.
Krauthammer is not alone here, of course. Examples abound of commentators and officials displaying the same mental block that separates, for example, the Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood as recently noted here. As a mental block it is more than a semantic nicety. I turn back to my book, to the final chapter called "Men, Women ... Or Children?" to explain what I mean.
From The Death of the Grown-Up, pp. 199-201
Standing around Logan Airport last summer with some time to kill, I watched crowds of travellers winnow down to single file in order to pass through a phalanx of metal detectors, dutifully unstrapping wristwaches, dropping off keychains, and removing their shoes. They were, of course, cooperating with airport “screeners” charged with determining whether any of them had secretly bought a ticket to paradise--not the Pearly Gates one, but the 72 Virgins kind--and not some earthbound destination. I wondered whether these low-level indignities would get passengers home safe and sound, or whether they would require body bags, burn masks and prosthetics to reach their final destination. It was shortly after the London Underground bombings (7/7, 7/25), and it seemed like an open question. As this final line of defense against murder-in-the-skies deployed, I wondered when the arsenal would also include those high-tech scopes and scanners we read about that are designed to identify retinas and fingerprints; and I thought how strange it was that even as we devise new ways to see inside ourselves to our most elemental components, we also prevent ourselves from looking full face at the danger to our way of life posed by Islam.
Notice I said “Islam.” I didn’t say “Islamists.” Or “Islamofascists.” Or “fundamentalist extremists.” Or “Wahhabism.” Except for Wahhabism—an overly narrow term for the jihadism that permeates all schools of Islam, not just this infamous Saudi one-- I think I’ve tried out all the other terms in various columns since 9/11, but I’ve come to find them artificial and confusing, and maybe purposefully so. In their amorphous imprecision, they allow us to give a wide berth to a great problem: the gross incompatibility of Islam--the religious force that shrinks freedom even as it “moderately” tolerates, or “extremistly” advances jihad--with the West. Worse than its imprecision, however, is the evident childishness that inspires this lexicon, as though padding “Islam” with extraneous syllables (“ism,” “ist” “ofascist”) is a shield against PC scorn of “judgmentalism”; or that exempting plain “Islam” by criticizing fanciful “Islamism” or “Islamofascism” puts a safety lock on Muslim rage--which, as per the Danish cartoon experience, we know explodes at any critique. Such mongrel terms, however, keep our understanding of Islam at bay. To take just one example: In writing about Cartoon Rage 2006, Charles Krauthammer clearly identified why the Western press failed to republish the Danish Mohammed cartoons.
What is at issue is fear. The unspoken reason many newspapers do not want to republish is not sensitivity but simple fear.
Clear as a bell: but then he went all mushy on us:
They know what happened to Theo van Gogh, who made a film about the Islamic treatment of women and got a knife through the chest with an Islamist manifesto attached.
What’s mushy about that? Well, Krauthammer has written that Theo van Gogh made a film about the “Islamic treatment of women” and was killed by a knife “with an Islamist manifesto” attached. Given that both Theo’s film and murder-manifesto were directly and explicitly inspired by the verses of the Koran, what’s Islamic about the treatment of women that’s not also Islamic about the manifesto? The “ist” is a dodge, a nicety, a semantic wedge between the religion of Islam and the ritual murder of van Gogh. But why, oh why, is it up to Charles Krauthammer, or any other infidel, to save face when the face is Mohammed’s—the certifiable religious inspiration of jihad murder and dhimmi subjugation, not to mention the oppression of women? If the “ist” is undeserved here, it is also misplaced--a figleaf where there should be no shame in understanding.
Am I right? Who’s to say? Both the topic of Islam and, more pertinent to a Westerner, the topic of Islamization--for that is what is at hand, and very soon in Europe—are verboten. And maybe they’re not even verboten; for a topic to be forbidden implies that it’s also on the tip of everyone’s tongue, even if they do keep their mouths shut. Islam as a whole, as a historic continuum, as the theology of what we know as “terrorism,” as a rationale for dhimmi repression, is off the charts; out of bounds, really, and way beyond acceptable discourse. The issues central to Islam’s incompatibility with modernity—which, where the West is concerned, come down to jihad and dhimmitude, those Islamic institutions on which relations between Muslims and non-Muslims turn—are ignored according to an unspoken consensus and, thus, never appear on the public agenda.
Why is this so?
We can look to the thick, blanketing fog of political correctness that hangs over the political landscape, shrouding difference, obscuring significance, and clouding debate. But something besides what we know as “PC” plays into the resulting hush. The uniformity of the silence, from Left to Right, from academia to politics to journalism, tells us we have moved beyond PC to a more profound, more enveloping level of orthodoxy. After all, what we know as political correctness implies the existence of a flip side: namely, a school of political incorrectness that supplies the counter-narrative to contradict or subvert the PC orthodoxy. Such a school of thought--at least in what passes for the political mainstream where ideas are publicly debated--has not come into existence regarding the role of Islam in the so-called war on terror, or, worse, the Islamization of the West.
Example: When, in the shell-shocked wake of 9/11, President Bush began his historically inaccurate and theologically absurd “Islam is peace” offensive--which to this day relies on a willful ignorance of the jihad ideology that has driven Islamic history for 13 centuries--no voices of correction, no attempts at historical analysis coalesced into a school of thought that was admitted into the political mainstream, not even among pro-war, anti-PC conservatives. Ultimately, I came to understand this as a post-adult moment because it felt as if no grownups were speaking up; indeed, it became alarmingly clear that there were no … grownups … to speak up--at least, in voices heeded and debated in the postgrownup culture.
But there exists a formidable body of contemporary scholarship that bravely explicates the history of jihad and its modern-day applications —a bibliography I was relieved to find after 9/11 when the happy talk of a Karen Armstrong or a John Esposito sounded out of sync with what was actually being heard on the news. Some of these authors I have cited in previous chapters: Over four decades, Egyptian-born Bat Ye’or has pioneered the study of dhimmitude, the non-Muslim experience under Islam that follows jihad. The Pakistani-born scholar Ibn Warraq has, since the Rushdie affair, has compiled a wrenching record of “apostasy,” the fearfully dangerous Muslim experience of leaving Islam. Daniel Pipes has long catalogued the progress of jihad and Islamization in the West. In the years since 9/11, Robert Spencer has produced several clear-eyed studies of Islam for both laymen and experts, also establishing a website that tracks current events called jihadwatch.org. Andrew G. Bostom, also since 9/11, has compiled a scholarly compendium of writings on jihad that offers many key texts and studies in English for the first time, including those of Islamic commentators on the Koran (al-Baydawi, al-Tabari, al-Ghazali) and those of overlooked historians (C. E. Duforcq, Clement Huart, Dmitri Angelov, Maria Mathilde Alexandrescu-Dersca Bulgaru). But such research has been largely relegated to the the sidelines, scholarship all but ignored by elites for purposes of public discussion and debate. ...
I wrote this in 2006. Five years later, what has changed?