What I Have to Say to Dean Esmay(bumped)

News flash #1: we're propagandists. That's what we do. I think we all try to make our propaganda as focused on the "bad guys" as we can, but our propaganda is generally a brute force weapon rather than a precision munition. Sometimes, being succinct and funny takes precedence over being precise. To paraphrase Mike Ditka, some propagandists are named "Smith." Some are named "Grabowski." We're the Grabowskis. I do my best to tell the truth. If I fail to do a good job at it, I find the commenters are generally merciless--and rightly so.

News flash #2: we are at war. In the narrowest sense, we've been at war since at least October 2001, when American forces went after the Taliban in Afghanistan. The current fighting is, however, only the latest round of activity. In a broader sense, we (the West) have been at war with the Islamicists since at least the fall of the Caliphate and the ascension of Sayyid Qutb in the early 20th Century. Before that, there were the Muslim incursions into Europe centuries ago, which had been on hold since 1492. In an even broader sense, we (the religious pluralists) have been at war since Mohammed first attacked the Quraysh tribes 14 centuries ago.

Despite what some may think, we can lose this war. If we lose, it won't, of course, be on the battlefield. No army can stand against ours in a straght-up fight. If we lose this fight, we will lose it right here at home. Accordingly, propaganda is very important. We have a dedicated enemy on our hands, and that enemy seeks nothing less than an end to our way of life. Ideally, our enemy wants us to reliquish our way of life and submit to his. I'm not a big fan of Bush, but he does have one thing right: they really do hate us for our freedom.


Early in the 20th Century, Qutb (an Egyptian Muslim) traveled to the U.S. and was appalled by what he saw here. He wrote of a church social in Colorado as if it were a scene out of Eyes Wide Shut. In general, what Qutb saw here wasn't enough to push a movie into the "PG" category, but his traditionalist eyes were seared with the images of bare American ankles and bare American shoulders.

Building on the success of the church social, Western scientists continued their groundbreaking work, inventing things like bikinis, Israel, miniskirts, feminism, porn, VHS and Pamela Anderson. And then they invented radio, television and the internet to deliver it into homes around the world. In the eyes of the Sayyid Qutbs of the world, these Western technologies threaten to turn their daughters into sluts and their sons into perverts. This is silly, of course, because--well, okay, perhaps they have a point.

At any rate, in order to counter the threat from our technology, Islamicist scientists invented the Wahhabi mosque, the suicide bomber and the videotaped beheading. These technologies are designed to save them from us, and to save us from ourselves. The first invention has been wildly successful. The last two--not so much. Of course, the Islamicists aren't too proud to use our own technology against us, including the Internet.

The Islamicists look back to a golden age, when their prophet Mohammed saved the Arabs from perverts and polytheists by enacting strict controls on every area of public and private behavior. They look forward to a time when they can do that same "favor" for the whole world. They look forward to "commanding virtue" and "forbidding vice," as demanded by their holy book. It's not enough, of course, to merely "encourage virtue" and "discourage vice." The Christian concept that "he who has no sin should throw the first stone" is alien to them. In the Islamicist view, a man is just too weak to be expected withstand temptation on his own. He is like a child who must be kept far from the candy store, lest he indulge. He must be shielded from temptation at all costs--and he must be punished severely if he succumbs to it. To the Islamicist, Islam is not something that occurs in a private life or in a mosque down the street. Islam is all-encompassing. Islam is the government, the science, the philosophy and the law. This was the "innovation" of Islam, and it is this "innovation" that the Islamicists seek to bring to the entire world.

My beliefs about the Islamicists are not my own personal paranoid fantasies. I acquired them by reading the Koran. I acquired them from the words of Mohammed. I acquired them from the words of the Islamicists themselves. If you think I've gotten them wrong, I encourage you to correct me, but please do us all the courtesy of educating yourself before you spout off. Calling me a "bigot" or an "Islamophobe" serves no other purpose but to confirm that you have nothing substantive to say. If you think I've gotten the views of the Islamicists wrong, and you think this all just some big misunderstanding about control of Shebaa Farms, please set me straight. But please don't embarrass yourself. Back it up with some substance. If you can't, please don't waste my time throwing epithets at me or anyone else who raises legitimate--though uncomfortable-- issues about the world's fastest growing Religion of Peace(tm). I get plenty of the personal attacks, and they only convince the casual observer that you have no substantive answer to my position. So back it up, or shut up.

Now, I've been told that there are many "moderate Muslims" who practice an official, but "moderate," form of Islam. I've heard those statements many times, and I've even reviewed "evidence" of this position. After reviewing this "evidence," I can only say that I do not think that word means what you think it means. There are, to be sure, more moderate and more radical official interpretations of Islam, but I have yet to see an official pluralist, secularist interpretation of Islam in which Islam accepts a permanent place within a community of equals. That is not to say that there are not individual Muslims who believe in this view of Islam. I believe there are. I believe, in fact, that there are many. I'm not, however, aware of any official, clerical recognition of a purely personal view of Islam, such as that practiced by most Christians, Jews and Buddhists, for example. I don't know of an official clerical interpretation of Islam which calls on Muslims to work toward a secular, pluralist society in which each person is encouraged to practice his or her own faith freely according to his or her own conscience. I'd be curious to know which of the major schools of Islamic thought provides for a Muslim-dominated government to "encourage virtue" but yet "permit vice." I'd be curious to know which school teaches that men and women are equal. Which of the major schools provides for equal freedom of speech for all faiths, or teaches that it's wrong for Muslims to punish apostates? Who is the imam who preaches this "moderate" Islam? Unless and until someone can answer these questions for me, I will not have much faith in the idea of an officially "moderate" Islam. "Institute Islamic control, but do it democratically" is, in my opinion, "moderate" in only a very narrow sense of that word.

Yes, there are Muslims who believe in a more broadly "moderate" (i.e., pluralist) idea of Islam. I'm all for this idea. I would like nothing better than for our all of our Muslim brothers and sisters to practice their religion in the private sphere as they see fit, and yet publicly promote secularism, accept our lack of shared faith and allow us to live as we see fit. Uncomfortable as it may be to accept, these Muslims have few, if any, allies in the upper echelons of Islam, there are far too many Muslims who are not prepared to accept pluralism as a principle and it is the Islamicists who are receiving the most philosophical and material support for the Islamic "powers that be." Pretending and lying about these facts will not serve anyone's interests, least of all those Muslims who would stand up against the radicals who work around the clock to put into practice their strident Islamicist view of the way the world should be.

Although I don't place all Muslims in the same camp as the Islamicists, I do have a serious problem with the non-Islamicist Muslims. If they are out there, why do we not hear from them? If they disagree with the Islamicist message, why are they so quiet? Don't they understand that it would be in their interests to distance themselves from the radicals and the dissemblers? They can only keep silent for so long. The uncomfortable questions are not going away.

So, the Islamicists have their philosophy and we have ours. Perhaps adult men and women need to be treated like children for their own good. Whatever the merits of their position (and there are several), it is in the very core of my marrow that grown men and women must be left free to make their own decisions--even stupid decisions. If I believe in anything, I believe passionately in free will and individual liberty, including the liberty to make mistakes. I, and many others, are willing to die for that principle. These are prices we are willing to pay. And rightly so.

As tough as it may be for the "peace at any price" crowd to accept, there is simply no room for compromise with the true Islamicists. There is no "middle ground" between the absolute moral guidance and control they seek to assert over their fellow men and women and the basic human liberty we passionately believe in. Whatever wiggle room there may be in some principles, there can be very little in these.

We are at war, friends. There is, for better or worse, no room for a permanent compromise between these two radically different views of the world. Ultimately, one side in this conflict will be brought into "submission." The only question is: which side will it be?

Posted by: Ragnar at 01:50 PM


1 Come on - it's not whether you win or lose, it's if you particpated and had a good time that counts.

You see, the libs dems thought, "Yeah, we'll participate in this war. That'll be fun." It was "fun" for them because they thought going along with the war would help keep them in office and have a good shot at the Presidency in '04. But as we all know it didn't turn out quite as they hoped. So, they stopped having fun and started crying out in right field. Now they want to go home and play video games, 'cause it's not fair. They want to pitch. It's their right.

Now, they're throwing their tantrum.

Posted by: Editor at September 29, 2006 12:00 PM

2 Excellent take on the supremacistnature of orthodox Islam.

I too have a problem with the way so many activists, journalists and polticians throw around the term "moderate Muslims" as though they are a poweful lobby that can shape the fate of their religion. This is the way I've always thought of the moderate Muslims:

In a classic convenience store robbery scenario, the clerk is the secular West, the robber is jihadist Islam, and the moderate Muslim is the old woman who hid out behind the boxes of cereal and oatmeal while the whole thing went down. The robbery is not her fault. She was not part of it, but nor did she try to stop it. Most importantly, she doesn't call the police when it's over, and she might not have called them if she knew about it in advance. She just wants to be left alone to do her shopping, and not be bothered by other people's problems.

In that role, "moderate Muslims" don't seem to be interested in shaping anything, and I don't think we can really count on them to steer Islam in a more sympathetic and tolerant direction. Obviously you don't have to agree with me, I'm just throwing that out there.

Posted by: Granddaddy Long Legs at September 29, 2006 12:21 PM

3 I don't mean to speak for Dean, he seems quite capable of speaking for himself, but I think his argument was that many on the right seem to have stopped adding "-ists" to Islam when discussing things.

And as has been said here, I don't think it's so much moderate Muslims that we need to support as liberal Muslims (liberal, moderate, and conservative being relative terms).

This post seems perfectly reasonable to me. As did Dean's.

Posted by: KG at September 29, 2006 12:22 PM

4 Amen brother!! Well written!!

We have a liberal Islamic movement which is actually gaining momentum here in Indonesia. TheNU, which is headed by former president Gus Dur, and has about 40 million adherents here, is leaning more and more towards a liberal Islamic view and Gus Dur is a big promoter of interfaith co-operation. His militia protect churches here duringChristmas and Easter. We also have the Liberal IslamNetwork which many of my Muslim friends belong to. This is from their website. And yes, they are taking a stand against militants and promoters of shariah law here.

Liberal Islam (LI) is a new interpretation form of the Islam religion with the insights:a. The openness of ijtihad's gates in the entire aspects.LI believes that ijtihad (the rational thinking of Islamic texts) is the main tenet that enables Islam to hold out through any seasons. Any locking of ijtihad gates, partially or even entirely, is a threat upon Islam itself. Since in this way, Islam would be rotten. LI believes that ijtihad could be held almost in every aspect, within ilahiyyat (theology), ubudiyyat (ritual), or (especially) muamalat (social interaction). ijtihad's space in ubudiyyat is exactly slighter than the other two aspects.b. Emphasize on the ethical- religious spirit, not the literal meaning of the text.Ijtihad that developed by LI is an endeavor of Islam's interpretation based on the ethical-religious spirit of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, not merely interpreting Islam based on the literal meaning of the text. The literal kind of interpretation would only "kill" Islam. Only by using the ethical-religious spirit based interpretation, Islam would live and grow creatively associated to the universal "humanistic civilization".c. The relative, open, and plural truth.LI based on the notion vis--vis "truth" (in religious interpretation) as a relative thing, since an interpretation is "human activity " which is shackled in a certain context; open, since each form of interpretation contain an erroneous possibility, instead of a correct one; plural, since each religious interpretation, in one and other way, is a reflection of any interpreter's need in an incessantly changes of time and places.d. Stand behind the minorities and the oppressed.LI stands behind Islamic interpretations that withstand on minorities, oppressed, and marginalized. Every social-political structure that preserves injustice practices upon the minorities is against the spirit of Islam. In this context, minority should be understood in the wider meaning, including the religious minority, ethnic, race, culture, politic, economic, sexual orientation, etc. Gender equality is a problem that we concern of, since our social structure is still based on the patriarchal idea which against the justice idea in Islam. We consider any religious interpretations that do not concern on the gender equality is inappropriate with the justice principle of Islam.e. Freedom of belief and faith.LI considers that the matter of "being religious" or "being not religious" is a personal rights that should be protected. LI does not abide any prosecution on the base of an opinion or belief.f. The separation of ukhrawi (heavenly) vis--vis duniawi (worldly) authority, and the religious vis--vis political authority.LI believes in the very nature of separation between religious power and political one. LI does not withstand any notion regarding the religious state whereas the authority of ulama (religious leader) or kiai (Javanese-Indonesian term of religious leader) is observed as the highest authorities that could not be wrong. The healthy form of state for the religious and political growth is a state where both authorities are separated. Religion is an inspirational source that could influence public policies, but religion is not the one and the only source that have transcendental privilege that could not be denied to determine all public policies form. Finally, religion works on private and individual spaces. Public affairs should be held trough "collective ijtihad" process, where everyone can debate, where every truth is determined inductively through the fit and proper test of vision. 2. Why named as Liberal Islam?The name of "Liberal Islam" illustrate our fundamental principles; Islam which emphasizes on "private liberties" (according to Mu'tazilah's doctrine regarding "human liberties"), and "liberation" of socio-political structure from the unhealthy and oppressing domination. The "liberal" adjective has two meanings: "liberty" (being liberal) and "liberating". Please note that we do not believe in Islam as such---Islam without any adjective as some people argued. Islam is impossible without adjective, in fact Islam have been interpreted in so many different ways in accordance to the interpreter's need. We choose a genre of interpretation, and by this way, we selected an adjective for Islam, it is "liberal".3. What is this Network's major mission?Our missions are:1. Develop the liberal Islamic interpretations that are appropriate to our principles, and disseminate it to as many people as possible. 2. Attempt to create dialogue rooms that are open and free from any pressures of conservatism. Only by the availability of open rooms for dialogues, the thought and Islamic action improvement could be well preserved. 3. Endeavor the formation of a fair and humanely social and political structure. We believe that the democratic system is a system that "in the very now" can accomplish those needs. In capitalism, we believe that there are some policies could be supported, and criticize some of its aspects as well.

Posted by: Stan the Infidel in Indonesia at September 29, 2006 12:30 PM

5 Wait a minute. Not sofast. This article is advocating that the Muslims aren't liberal enough? WTF? And you are complaining that their liberals aren't engaging enough? Perhaps they saw howwe treatedour own liberals for the past 2 decades.Muslims, you thinkyou are beingattacking now? For Al--h's sake, don't call yourselves liberal! We don'twantmore pussy liberalClinton lovers. Try 'Compasionate' Muslims instead.

Posted by: tbone at September 29, 2006 01:03 PM

6 Very good.

Posted by: Howie at September 29, 2006 01:08 PM

7 I like the idea of "liberal Muslims." I've also heard the term "free Muslims." Whatever term you like, more power to you. Let us know what we can do to help.

"Liberals" only started getting kicked around after they allowed the term "liberal" to be adopted and perverted by American Marxists. As near as I can tell, the term "liberal" has a leftist connotation in the US, but not elsewhere. American leftists now seem to prefer the term "progressive," which has the virtue of being sufficiently vague as to encompass almost anything. Now that the left has largely abandoned the term "liberal," maybe the term can move back to its original meaning and positive connotation.

I consider myself a "liberal," even though I'm not a leftist by any stretch.

Posted by: The All-Seeing Pirate Ragnar at September 29, 2006 02:10 PM

8 There are Moderate Moslems, except if they are not in prisons or dead they are called another name entirely.
Apostate or sinner.
Ourcountrywhich praises religious freedom, cannot fight or survive in a religious war. It's against our law. Our government is already totally unable to respond to the way Islam is fighting. It will come down to the small groups of people who fight Islam on a local and probably illegal scale that will determine who wins this war.
Islam will take over our government by any means needed legally voted in by us and have free rein to impose Sharia by force and all others here will be punished if wefight backoutside the law.
History may show, that this is the period when our Government broke down and was rendered impotent by our own laws. We have legislated ourselves until we cannot defend ourselves.
I thank My God I am (so far) armed and free.

Posted by: Barry at September 29, 2006 02:58 PM

9 Because I am a stickler for historical accuracy, I must insist on a correction to the original post. The jihad has not been on hold since 1492. You might read a little history of the Ottoman Empire, and find that it did not reach its zenith until sometime in the 16th or 17th C., and its jihad expeditions in both Europe and Asia went on well into the 1800's.Constantinople did not fall until 1453, and Eastern Europe and the Balkans bore the brunt of the jihadfor many more generations.

Posted by: jesusland joe at September 29, 2006 03:00 PM

10 Joe -

You are, of course, correct.

When I wrote that, I was focusing on the occupation of Andalusia, but Islamic occupation of European territory didn't end in 1492. The Battle of Vienna, for example, took place almost 200 years later (1683), and a Muslim presence in the Balkans continues to this day.

Good catch. (Did I mention I'd get busted in the comments if I failed to get the facts right? ;-)

Posted by: The All-Seeing Pirate Ragnar at September 29, 2006 03:46 PM

11 Hell, the battle for Europe is not over. And the Muslims are winning. By legal immigration. The new style reconquista.

There will soon be only 3 countries:

1) The United States of Mexamerica (North and South America)
2) The Caliphate of Al Eurabia
3) China

Guess who is gonna dominate... The country with the proudest sense of national identity. Time to start learning Mandarin !

Posted by: Darth Vag at September 29, 2006 06:27 PM

12 You know, Darth, you may be on to something, and this is a real possibility if things continue to develope along the lines we now see.

Posted by: jesusland joe at September 29, 2006 07:08 PM

13 Most of my Muslim friends or former co-workers who follow this Liberal (Free) Muslim movement here, drink alcohol, have pre-marital sex, believe that couples can live together before marriage, follow Western culture, pray whenever they feel like it, support freedom of speech and religion, don't believe Muslims should be punished for apostasy, and hate the conservative and militant Muslims. The women wear will bikinis and mini-skirts if they choose to, andhave the freedom towhat they damn well please. Most of our actors/actresses, musicians and artists follow this form of Islam now. In general they still maintain healthy moral values (except the pre-marital sex part but a lot of conservative Muslims are doing it too) and tend to self censor rather than follow strict moral guidelines. They believe that nudity for art's sake is okay (i.e. topless Balinese statues, paintings) but nudity on TV and in magazines is unacceptable.

Ihave been asked to givea lecture in two weeks to a group of them on my Christian perspective of Islamic reformation in Indonesia and ways to improve inter-faith co-operation.

Posted by: Stan the Infidel in Indonesia at September 29, 2006 10:51 PM

14 Stan, most of those "Liberal Muslims" still probably hate Israel.

Islam is a political organization.

Posted by: Darth Vag at September 29, 2006 11:24 PM

15 I loved the Princess Bride reference.

Posted by: Pants at September 30, 2006 12:40 AM

16 Islam, trust me, isn't seeking you, doesn't want you and could care less about your pitiful sentiments.

Apply first to the Mossad...I'm sure they can find a place for you in their death squads.

Posted by: Lilac at September 30, 2006 01:20 AM

17 Lilac may indeed be an anti-Semite.

Posted by: Darth Vag at September 30, 2006 02:27 AM

18 What is it with the Leftists and the flower imagery? And what the hell makes Lilac an expert on Islam? Useful idiot that she is.

Posted by: jesusland joe at September 30, 2006 09:37 AM

19 See, this is why i'm a pagan. You don't see wiccan's and druids runnin around with crazy ideas about enforcing some kinda holy law on everyone. Yup, we just keep quietly (most of the time) to ourselves and do what we do. Its just safer that way. Personally, i think any religion that asks me to mass murder anyone purely based on what they do or what they believe or the color of thier skin, is no religion for me. I do have to agree sadly though, with the whole idea behind the article, should the Islamic conservative fundamentalists get thier way in the world...they'd be burning me mine at the stake again, and that'd just plain suck. I'd gladly fight and die to keep islam from ruining my country the way its ruined so many others. It is the nature of humans to seek freedom of mind and body, and to try to control that via religion, law, or gov't sanction, is a recipe for bloodshed.

I shed more than one tear for the lives lost in this senseless slaughter over oil and religion though. I think we can all agree, it just isn't right.

Posted by: Pagan Pride at October 01, 2006 02:04 AM

20 "... many on the right seem to have stopped adding "-ists" to Islam when discussing things."

KG, while you are correct in this, conversely, many on the left
won't even differentiate. The problem lies not with dropping the -ist but
the fact that even when used, it is still misinterpreted as too
generalized. What CAN we call these totalitarians? Every
word, created anew like "Islamofascist" or even the standard "terrorist"
is argued vehemently. With the exception of people like "Stan the
Infidel", who clearly understands the difference, we must constantly
add disclaimers and qualifiers to make sure we aren't offending that
one person like "Lilac" above who wears his/her hate like a comfortable
sweater. And see what good it did when "All Seeing" consistently
added the -ist? Lilac
still got its panties in a wad. The way I see it is that if
someone has gone and gotten all offended by a basic truth then I've
likely hit my mark.

Christians are berated and disparaged consistently by many people yet,
they do not join militias or jihads seeking to kill those who speak
badly of their faith (thereby proving the point), nor do they fund and
support it or even silently condone it. I know many bigots who
call themselves "Christians". But I simply avoid them without
fear of peril or death.

Like lawyer jokes - I don't know a single lawyer who is offended enough
by them to burn someone's house down or even hand someone else the
matches. Most that I know repeat them and laugh just as hard as
anyone else because they are confident in their own morality and
honesty. The ones who are offended probably need to be.
Offense usually is born of a sense of guilt.

We all know that one bad apple doesn't spoil the whole bunch. To
refuse to buy the basket does not imply that every apple is bad.

All we ask is that those Muslims who do not agree with, or condone, the totalitarian Islamists
speak out. Some do and we are grateful that they understand that
their very existence is imperiled too. But they are a distinct
minority and we need more to be vocal about it.

Posted by: Oyster at October 01, 2006 06:56 AM

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