Monday, July 02, 2007

Robert Spencer's Proposals vis-a-vis Islam and the West

I promised to go beyond Mark Steyn's comments about what the West--and the United States, especially--can and should do with respect to Islam and so-called "radical Muslims."

Here are Robert Spencer's proposals from The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). I'll begin with the guts of pp. 224-228. Please recognize that all emboldened text is bolded by me to highlight the most concise statements of what I believe are Spencer's practical proposals.
Am I calling for a war between Christianity and Islam? Certainly not. What I am calling for is a general recognition that we are already in a war between two vastly different ideas of how to govern states and order societies, and that in this struggle the West has nothing to apologize for and a great deal to defend. Indeed, the struggle against sharia is nothing less than a struggle for universal human rights, a concept that originated in the West and is denied by Islam. Everyone in the fractured and fractious West--Christians, Jews, other religious believers, atheist humanists--ought to be able to agree that this is a concept worth defending, even if they disagree about the particulars.

What we are fighting today is not . . . a "war on terror." Terror is a tactic, not an opponent. To wage a "war on terror" is like waging a "war on bombs"; it focuses on a tool of the enemy rather than the enemy itself. A refusal to identify the enemy is extremely dangerous: It leaves those who refuse vulnerable to being blindsided--as proven by the White House access granted by both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to now-jailed jihadists such as Abdurrahman Alamoudi and Sami al-Arian.

A forthright acknowledgement that we are facing a renewed jihad would go a long way to preventing that sort of diplomatic and intelligence embarrassment. . . . Jihad terrorists have declared war on the U.S. and other non-Muslim nations--all the U.S. and Western European countries need to do is identify the enemy as they have identified themselves. . . .

After the September 11 terrorist attacks, President Bush warned the world, "You're either with the terrorists or you're with us." But because of official Washington's persistent refusal to acknowledge exactly who the terrorists are and why they are fighting, that bold line in the sand has been obscured time and again. And few, if any, are even asking the right questions.

During her Senate confirmation hearings, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was grilled about Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, and how long our troops will be in that strife-ridden country. But no one bothered to ask her a more important question: When and how will American foreign policy be adjusted to defeat the goals, not just the tactics, of our jihad opponents? . . .

Other nations take this as axiomatic--including our enemies. Article 3 of the Iranian constitution stipulates that Iran must base its foreign policy on "Islamic criteria, fraternal commitment to all Muslims, and unsparing support to the freedom fighters of the world."

I recommend that the United States do the same
: state its goals and interests regarding the global jihad. This would involve a serious re-evaluation of American posture around the globe. . . .

[I]t is scandalous that so many years after President Bush announced that "you're either with the terrorists or with us," the United States still counts as friends and allies--or at least recipients of its largesse--so many states where jihadist activity is widespread.
  • Tie foreign aid to the treatment of non-Muslims. A State Department that really had America's interests at heart would immediately stop all forms of American aid to Kosovo, Algeria, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinians, Pakistan, Indonesia, and even Iraq and Afghanistan, and any other state, until each demonstrably ends all support--material, educational, and religious--for jihad warfare, and grants full equality of rights to any non-Muslim citizens.
    [Note from John: You've got to read Spencer to understand what he is talking about, here--the depth of what he is talking about: the implications of dhimmitude, the way it has been and is being practiced around the world today. We hear so little of it! . . . When Spencer talked about the concept of universal human rights as a Christian and Jewish and definitely not a Muslim concept he is referring to such things as (extremely minor example!) Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Sistani, "who has been hailed by many in the West as a reformer, a moderate, and a hope for democracy in Iraq and the Middle East at large," making a list of things that are "essentially najis" (i.e., "unclean"). Among the things that are najis: urine, feces, semen, dead bodies, pigs, kafirs (i.e., non-Muslims).

    "[T]he entire body of a Kafir, including his hair and nails, and all liquid substances of his body, are najis," Sistani declared. And yet he is respected throughout the Western world! Why? "Imagine the international outcry if, say, Jerry Falwell [had] said that non-Christians were on the level of pigs, feces, and dog sweat," Spencer suggests (p. 165).

    Please. As I said, this is an extremely minor example. But it illustrates the disdain with which non-Muslims are viewed and the social and legal treatment they receive in most Muslim societies.]
  • Reconfigure our global alliances on the same basis. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the other exporters of jihad should be put on notice. Continued friendly relations with the United States absolutely depend on an immediate and comprehensive renunciation of the jihad, including a reformation of schools that teach it. [Remember my post about Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, the young man educated in a Saudi-sponsored school in the United States. --JAH] It cannot be enough for a state to denounce or renounce terror; each must stop Islamic jihad as a means of undermining the integrity of other states. . . .

  • [Require] Muslim states [if the United States is to recognize them] to renounce sharia's expansionist imperative. To be a friend of the United States, each state must renounce any intention to try to realize the Islamic goals enunciated by Pakistani Islamic leader Syed Abul Ala Maududi, who declared that when Muslims are ruled by non-Muslims, "the believers would be under an obligation to do their utmost to dislodge [the unbelievers] from political power and to make them live in subservience to the Islamic way of life." . . . This is the [declared] goal of the jihadists today; it should be the fundamental defining point of U.S. alliances with Muslim states.

  • Initiate a full-scale Manhattan Project to find new energy sources--so that the needed reconfiguration of our alliances can be more than just words. . . .

    During World War II, the United States invested millions and set the brightest scientific minds in the world on the atomic bomb project. Is a similar effort being made today to end our dependence on Saudi oil? . . .
[D]oes anyone in the State Department have the will to advocate these and other measures? Or is it only regimes like the bloody mullahocracy in Tehran that are allowed to speak openly about their principles and goals, and take all the necessary measures for their own defense? . . . Secretary Rice needs to ask and answer these questions.

The State Department . . . reflexively thinks it can work with the Islamic jihadists--as if dropping care packages into Indonesia will somehow blunt the force of the Maududi dictum that "non-Muslims have absolutely no right to seize the reins of power."

The State Department needs to come to grips with the fact that it is facing a totalitarian, supremacist, and expansionist ideology--and plan accordingly.
After laying out these, what we might call "national" objectives--objectives that I think any and all Americans, individually and collectively, can help institute, Spencer then turns to how we might defeat the jihad "domestically." Before I get to that, however, I want to respond to the repeated question: "But how can I "help institute" national objectives?"
  • I think you do that by speaking up, by forcing the issue onto the national stage. (Notice that this force is non-violent, by the way!). . . .
Perhaps less frequently, but still, occasionally,
  • I believe each and every one of us can write letters to the editors of local and national periodicals . . . to our congressional representatives, . . . to the president, . . . to our friends.
  • We can keep it in front of our friends and neighbors by means other than writing: simply by talking about it.

    As several people have noted: "we," seem happy to call each other's attention to issues of pollution and global warming and s*xual impropriety and federal budgets and presidential candidates and abortion and euthanasia and GLBT issues and on and on. . . . Why not this issue as well?

After laying these things out, Spencer comes very much closer to home and to each one of us individually.

"The first thing we need in order to defeat the jihad at home is an informed citizenry," he writes. And so, he urges,
  • Read the Qur'an.
    [I]n the United States, the idea that knowing something about Islam and the Qur'an might help clarify some issues regarding the War on Terror meets with ridicule, indifference, or charges of 'racism.' . . . [But is] it really astonishing that Americans would read the Qur'an to discover the motivation of men who [cite] the Qur'an repeatedly in their communiqués to explain their actions? . . . [F]or all the dark suspicions of the PC crowd about Bush's Christianity, modern American foreign policy has never proceeded according to Biblical or Christian precepts, either explicitly or implicitly--except perhaps in the military's zeal to avoid civilian casualties as much as possible (a principle that has been contravened more than once). The contrast with Osama bin Laden's Qur'an-filled messages should be immediately obvious--except to those who don't wish to see it, or who wish to obscure it.

    --The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), 229-230

  • Report honestly about jihadist activity in the U.S. and the West.
    An informed citizenry . . . demands responsible reporting from the media and honesty from law enforcement officials about jihadist attacks in the United States. . . . Official unwillingness to draw obvious conclusions hinders our ability to make informed decisions about how to conduct the War on Terror. It has to stop.

    --The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), 230

    I think being awakened to this problem angered me more than almost everything else I read in Spencer's book. I was shocked and outraged at the examples Spencer presented (pp. 205-206) of exactly the things he is saying an informed citizenry must demand stop--most especially the dishonesty from law enforcement officials about jihadist attacks. Just a couple examples from a longer list:

    • the FBI initially saying that "there's nothing to indicate terrorism" when Hesham Mohamed Ali Hadayet killed two people at the El Al counter at LAX on July 4, 2002;

    • officials finding "no link to terrorism" when a co-pilot of EgyptAir flight 990 kills 217 people by crashing the plane on October 31, 1999, . . . even though the cockpit voice recorder catches him repeating, 11 times, as the plane plummets to earth: "I rely on Allah, I rely on Allah, I rely on Allah. . . . "

    • Or how about the story of firefighters conducting a routine inspection in a Brooklyn supermarket who
      found two hundred automobile airbags and a room lined with posters of Osama bin Laden and beheadings in Iraq. An element in the airbags can be used to make pipe bombs. The owner of the building, according to the New York Post, "served jail time in the late 1970s and early 1980s for arson, reckless endangerment, weapons possession and conspiracy, according to the records." But officials were definite: The hidden stockpile had nothing to do with terrorism."
      It doesn't?" Spencer asks. "What does it have to do with, then? Macramé?"

    • Similarly,
      when explosions killed fifteen people and injured over a hundred at an oil refinery in Texas City, Texas, on March 23, 2005, the FBI quickly ruled out terrorism as a possible cause. When a group calling itself Qaeda al-Jihad and another Islamic group both claimed responsibility, the FBI was still dismissive. But then it came to light that investigators did not visit the blast site until eight days after the explosions and after they ruled out terrorism as a possibility. A more independent-minded investigator asked, "How do you rule out one possibility when you don't have any idea what the cause is?" Still later came the revelation that initial reports of a single blast were inaccurate; there were as many as five different explosions at the refinery.

      It may still be possible that these blasts were accidental, and that five distinct things went wrong at the refinery to cause five separate explosions at around the same time. And maybe there was no terrorist involvement. But how did the FBI know that before even investigating?
    • And then, the story that completely put me over the edge (from p. 214):
      On November 2, 2004, Theo van Gogh was shot dead by a Muslim on an Amsterdam street. . . . His assailant was a Dutch Moroccan who was wearing traditional Islamic clothing. After shooting van Gogh several times, he stabbed him repeatedly, slit his throat with a butcher knife, and left a note on the body containing verses from the Qur'an and threats to several public figures who had opposed the flood of Muslim immigrants into the Netherlands. Yet Dutch prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende said, "Nothing is known about the motive" of the killer.
      What!!!??!!! I am incensed.

  • Reclassify Muslim organizations.
    Any Muslim group in America that does not explicitly renounce, in word and in deed, any intention now or in the future to replace the Constitution of the United States with Islamic sharia should be classified as a political rather than a religious organization, and should be subject to all the responsibilities and standards to which political organizations must adhere.

    --The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), 230

  • Take pride in Western culture.
    Western civilization has given the world notions of human rights that are universally accepted (except in the Islamic world), technological advancement beyond the wildest dreams of people of previous ages, and a great deal more. Yet our own leaders and teachers tell us we must stand before the world in a posture of shame.

    It's time to say "enough," and teach our children to take pride in their own heritage. To know that they have a culture and a history of which they can and should be grateful; . . . and that their homes and families are worth defending against those who want to take them away and are willing to kill to do so.

    --The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), 231

Let me confess, here: Steyn's and Spencer's books have changed me. As one who has written and intends, yet, to write notes about world and American history: these books have altered my perceptions and I realize I have a lot of work to do.
The background to Spencer's practical proposals is so deep, I wish I could quote half of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), but I can't. So I urge you to read it on your own. Spencer provides an introduction to Islam that, as I believe I said elsewhere, goes far beyond the standard "Five Pillars" approach. It has convinced me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Islam is, indeed, a religion from which Christians should desire to rescue its current--and future--victims . . . not merely for the next life, but very much for the sake of this life as well.
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