Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Religion, Public Reason, and Islamism

Like the man who stopped to help a drunk look for his keys under a street light after learning that the drunk had actually dropped his keys half way down the block and was only looking for them here because the light was better; so do some of us have to keep reminding Liberals and Leftists that even though the "light may be better" for them "here" where they can keep the discussion strictly on "religious freedom," that isn't where Islamism dropped its keys.

If Islamism were a religion like the ones we were used to before the days of Sayyid Qutb, we wouldn't be having these discussions. We want Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses to have religious freedom. The only reason Islamist-oriented Islam has been removed from our list is that it is no longer just a religion. It has become an ideology, an ideology with an agenda not unlike that of the Communists of an earlier era. They want to conquer the world, and military options are a popular way of doing that.

In the days of McCarthy a tiny sliver of the Communist threat was exposed and McCarthy lost his reputation and life in the process. We who bother to read the history of that period know that there really was a Communist threat. The KGB's archives have been opened and there is no longer any doubt about a secret Communist presence in the U.S. during the Cold War which worked at propaganda, and spying out our military and scientific secrets. No Liberal or Leftist back then argued that Communism was a religion; they merely ridiculed those who thought Communism was a threat. They considered such people paranoid.

And yes, the modern descendants of the Liberals and Leftist who scoffed at the idea of a Communist threat now scoff at the idea of an Islamist threat. In fact they don't like the word "Islamist" very much (even though it is the preferred term of those who adhere to that ideology). They prefer the term "Islam" because the light is better if that term is used. If we focus on "Islam" then the matter is strictly religious and those who oppose Islamism can be redefined in such a way to argue that they are being anti-religious or bigoted.

I once believed that Islamism, also known as Radical or Militant Islam, comprised a relatively small percentage of Islam as a whole. The scholars willing to take a guess thought that around 300,000,000 million of the one Billion Muslims were Islamists. So we had 300,000,000 Islamists and 700,000,000 Traditional Muslims. Traditional Muslims, it was argued, were okay. They believed in live and let live. They were not radicals or militant like the Islamists. They didn't blow anything up. But when I tried to find out more about these "Traditional Muslims" I discovered that virtually none were speaking out, at least not from within Arab nations. Arab Muslims weren't willing to speak against Islamism unless they fled to some nation like the U.S. And many Muslims like Ayaan Hirsi Ali had harrowing accounts of the abuse they endured and the difficulty they experienced in fleeing to the West, and to heap insult upon injury the ACLU-Like Netherlands criticized her for lying during her escape. Didn't she know she was violating Dutch Laws? Didn't the Dutch know they were being absurd?

There is considerable evidence that Traditional Muslims have been cowed by their more militant brethren. Thus, the dividing line between the okay Traditionalists and the not-okay Islamists is fuzzy and perhaps ineffective. In a recent discussion about the Cordoban mosque I suggested that the Mosque team, if it were interested in assuaging local and national apprehension, declare themselves against Islamism. I suggested that they consider the sort of device Protestant Church's use, a "statement of faith." I wouldn't care what else they put in it, but I would like to see them speaking out against Islamism. Will they speak out, or have they been cowed -- or worse (and how could we know) are they in league with the Islamists?

As sympathetic as I am for Hirsi Ali I nevertheless distinguish between religions who have bizarre customs like mutilating their young girls (Somali Islam) or cutting out the hearts of victims (Aztec Religion) and religions that have been integrated into an ideology. I do disapprove of what the Somali form of Islam does to its young girls, and I do disapprove of the Aztec form of religion, but that is, or was, their own business. Those religions didn't affect us directly in our Liberal Democracies.

Islamism is different. It is different because of what Abul A'La Maududi taught in (India and then in) Pakistan, of what Sayyid Qutb taught in Egypt, and what Ruhollah Khomeini taught in Iran. Sayyid Qutb usually concerns us more than the others because it was his form of Islamism that spread throughout the Arab World, and from there to mosques throughout the West. The young men who left the Hamburg Mosque to go to America and blow up the American Trade Center were indoctrinated with the Islamism of Sayyid Qutb.

Here is one of the teachings of Sayyid Qutb (Komeini had a similar one) that convinces most of us that Islamism is not the same as any of the religions we had in mind when we wrote our laws about religious freedom. Qutb taught that Muhammad's Jihad was a duty for all true Muslims. If you were a Muslim and wanted to go to Paradise then you would participate in Muhammad's Jihad. Muhammad conducted his Jihad militarily while he was alive and those who immediately followed him carried it on further, but then there was a falling away. Islamic leaders became corrupted by the infidel and Muhammad's Jihad was abandoned. But now, Qutb tells us, it is time to resume that Jihad. And while there may be many ways that are acceptable, the killing of Infidels is very important. If you Muslims kill enough Infidels then the rest will eventually surrender, the entire world will become Islamic, and Muhammad's Jihad will be complete.

Of course our American ACLU would be quick to say that Qutb's teachings (even if they were taught at every mosque in America) are mere words, and words are covered by the first Amendment. Since Freedom of Religion is also covered under this Amendment there is nothing that can be done to curtail Islamistic teachings, unless they result in practices that violate a law. And what the ACLU would say about Islamism is the same thing most Liberal Democracies would say about it; and intentionally or not, this results in a great window of opportunity for the Islamists. Some Mosques have abused their "religious freedom" to such an extent that they have been notorious in their production of terrorists. The recently closed Hamburg Mosque is one. The Al Farooq Mosque in Brooklyn is another. Perhaps the Liberal Democracy of the Germans is not as well established as that of America's. In any case they allowed Common Sense to overcome their Liberalism and Religious tolerance and closed down the Hamburg Mosque. The New York Al Farooq Mosque on the other hand is still operating and in fine fettle.

The recent plans, approved by Mayor Bloomberg, to create a Cordovan Mosque, which invokes the idea of the original Cordovan Mosque of Muslim-conquered Spain has caused many people, who like frogs in a kettle have been willing to let the water get quite a bit hotter before trying to hop out, to become animated in protest. The effrontery of locating this mosque two blocks from the rubble of the World Trade Center has not been lost upon people less sophisticated than those who run the ACLU.

The issues are clear, I suppose, to the ACLU. If a new Aztec religion were established in New York, the courts would be powerless until they actually sacrificed a victim to the sun god. And Somalis would be allowed to establish their own Mosque in New York and be allowed to do whatever they liked until someone perpetrated an honor killing. Then the police would arrest the Aztec priest who tore loose the heart of his victim and the Muslim brother who killed his sister for dating an infidel. They would both be tried for murder, but their churches would go on, still protected by the First Amendment.

Opposed to the ACLU on such matters are largely non-organized people exercising little more than common sense. Who would invite a known murderer to rent his spare room on the basis of the Bill of Rights which guarantees this murderer "his rights?" The law will go after this murderer once he murders him, but what homeowner would take comfort in that? Better to forgo any money the renting of that room might bring in than rent it to a murderer. But we as a nation will allow Muslims, known to have a strong Islamist bent, to build a mosque where ever they want as long as they can pay for it and as long as it doesn't disrupt vehicular traffic. Not to worry, you who live near that mosque. If any of its members blow you up, the law will arrest them.

Those who must rely on mere common sense would much rather these Islamist-leaning Muslims were not allowed to build their mosque. That's not very ACLUish of them, but they think that the Executive Branch of government has a duty of protecting them. Maybe the ACLU is going to make it hard for the president to do his job, that's probably a given, but he needs to do it anyway. Our Supreme Court has members who pride themselves on being progressives rather than "strict constructionists." Let them be progressive enough to curtail this ideology known as Islamism, even when it is inextricably intertwined with Traditional Islam

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