From the vaults, a syndicated column from July 2005. Aside from a couple of minor details, would anyone notice it was nearly a decade old if I ran it tomorrow?
"Wishful Thinking about Islam"
Last week, I outlined the problem of the age: the incompatibility of Islam with a multicultural West that hides away inconvenient history and disturbing doctrine under layers of political correctness. Without stripping them off to examine the problem, all we get is a lot of wishful thinking.
Historian Niall Ferguson, writing in the London Telegraph on the intensifying "Muslim colonization" of Europe, has decided that such "demographic shifts" are not "invariably a bad thing." After all, seven centuries of jihad-imposed dhimmitude for infidels in Muslim Spain gave us the Alhambra, or something. It's that pesky "ideology" of conquest that follows all the shifting that's the problem -- something he thinks European Muslims ought to take "a much closer look at." Really stern stuff.
Over at The Boston Globe, a lefty editorial mantra turns culture clash into harmonic convergence: "European Muslims and non-Muslims must learn to live together. Each will have to practice the tolerance that (murdered Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh) assassin (Mohammed) Bouyeri proudly scorned." They must, must they? As sharia law becomes a democratic option, who will enforce such tolerance?
As conservatives, columnist Charles Krauthammer and blogger-cum-radio host Hugh Hewitt still fight the good fight, but, in these multicultural days, that means sorting through "extremism" and finding nothing too terribly Islamic about it. Mr. Hewitt writes that my arguments of last week were wrong, citing "functioning democracies in Turkey and other predominantly Islamic countries" as evidence of Islamo-Western compatibility. He throws in the loyal host ("millions of loyal British and American citizens") for good measure.
Problem is, the extent to which Turkey -- where, just incidentally, "Mein Kampf" was a top-10 bestseller this spring -- has ever functioned as a democracy is directly related to the efforts of a strong man, Ataturk, to constrain Islam's grip on the country's institutions, replacing religion with a doctrine of Turkish racial and civilizational supremacy. And while it tugs on the heartstrings, the loyalty of individual Muslims fails to neutralize or reform the institutions of jihad and dhimmitude that rise from Islamic teachings. That I even raised the issue, Mr. Hewitt writes, "underscores the almost desperate need for Muslim leaders in the West again and again, to denounce, without argument or sidebar mentions of Israel, etc., the use of terrorism as a weapon." Almost desperate is right.
Having determined that "99 percent" of European Muslims are "peace-loving and not engaged in terror," Charles Krauthammer sounds a similar alarm. "They must actively denounce not just ... the terrorist attacks, but their source: the Islamist ideology and its practitioners. Where are the fatwas against Osama bin Laden? Where are the denunciations of the very idea of suicide bombing? Europeans must demand this of all their Muslim leaders."
Why Europeans? Why not the Krauthammer 99 percent, or the Hewitt millions? This is where it gets tricky, where those cultural ties to terrorism's tactics and/or goals seem to be all too binding. It is true that in March, something called the Spanish Muslim Council issued a fatwa against Osama bin Laden, calling him an apostate for his atrocities. Judea Pearl, father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, mentions this in his Boston Globe piece about a clerically star-studded conference on Islam in Jordan this month. Mr. Pearl notes that the fatwa led many to believe it would be followed by others, "and," he writes, "that using the Islamic instruments of fatwa, apostasy and fasad (corruption), Muslims would be able to disassociate themselves from those who hijacked their religion."
He continues: "Unfortunately, the realization of these expectations will need to wait for a brave new leadership to emerge. The final communique of the Amman conference, issued July 6, states explicitly: 'It is not possible to declare as apostates any group of Muslims who believes in Allah the Mighty and Sublime and His Messenger (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) and the pillars of faith, and respects the pillars of Islam and does not deny any necessary article of religion.'"
Mr. Pearl spells out the chilling ramifications: "In other words, belief in basic tenets of faith provides an immutable protection from charges of apostasy." Even what Mr. Pearl calls "anti-Islamic behavior," including "the advocacy of mass murder in the name of religion, cannot remove that protection," he writes. "Bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the murderers of Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg will remain bona fide members of the Muslim faith, as long as they do not explicitly renounce it."
Which leaves conservative Muslims, liberal Muslims and everybody else between a rock and hard place. Isn't it time to crack things open?