Remember Daniel Pipes' Deathless Line: "The Cure for Radical Islam is Moderate Islam"? Even He Admits That His "Cure" Is Unlikely to Cut It
I'm not sure that is exactly what Daniel Pipes is saying:
One analysis finds that 25 percent of Arabic-speakers have become atheists.
But even if this (high) number is accurate, 75 percent of the population remains believing. Moderate Islam applies to them, offering sound ideas to replace the repugnant ones of Islamism. In this sense, Yetkin is wrong, for irreligiosity cannot fulfill the spiritual longings of most Muslims. Moderate Islam can. It therefore offers the main solution to radical Islam.
But I think Daniel's column in The Algemeiner is best read in conjuction with his simultaneous column in The Washington Times, in which he notes what I've called the western politician's multiculti Tourette's - the reflexive urge of Obama, Kerry, Cameron, Hollande et al to insist within a nano-second of the bomb or the bullet or the beheading that today's Islamic atrocity is (all together now!) nothing to do with Islam.
This interpretation neglects the scriptures of Islam and the history of Muslims, seeped in the assumption of superiority toward non-Muslims and the righteous violence of jihad. Ironically, ignoring the Islamic impulse means foregoing the best tool to defeat jihadism: for, if the problem results not from an interpretation of Islam, but from random evil and irrational impulses, how can one possibly counter it? Only acknowledging the legacy of Islamic imperialism opens ways to re-interpret the faith's scriptures in modern, moderate, and good-neighborly ways.
Professor Pipes' Washington Times column would seem somewhat to contradict Professor Pipes' Algemeiner column: If "the scriptures of Islam" are "seeped in the assumption of superiority toward non-Muslims and the righteous violence of jihad", how then can they "offer sound ideas to replace the repugnant ones of Islamism"?
Over the years since 9/11 I've shared the occasional panel discussion with Daniel, at which he's advanced his proposition that "radical Islam is the problem, moderate Islam is the solution". And I've come to the conclusion, with regret, that this gets it exactly wrong.
Moderate Islam is the problem.
Any ideological enterprise risks the development of a "radical" violent strain that's in a hurry and wants to get on with it. What determines whether the fringe remains the fringe is how disgusted the mainstream is by what's done in its name, and how much space it puts between the mods and the loons.
Let's take a recent example. After the Paris and Copenhagen attacks, I wrote:
This is usually the point at which we're expected to do the not-all-Muslims-want-to-shoot-you-dead shtick. And that's true. But Islam itself has no feeling whatsoever for the spirit of free speech.
Most western Muslims are not willing themselves to open fire on synagogues or Lars Vilks, but they assiduously maintain the shriveled definition of acceptable expression that helps license the fanatics of Copenhagen and Paris. Muslims in Europe, North America and Australia will pay lip service to "free speech", and then promptly re-define it as excluding speech that "blasphemes" or "insults" their faith - which is to say them. Which is to say the great vulgar, brawling, free-for-all of free societies does not apply to them. So, when, say, France's Muslim population reaches 20 per cent, you will need to have the support of three-quarters of the remaining 80 per cent to maintain even a bare popular majority in favor of free speech.
That prospect was confirmed by an ensuing opinion survey:
A poll of British Muslims finds that 27 per cent "have some sympathy for the motives behind Charlie Hebdo attacks". That's over three-quarters of a million people - without adding in the two per cent who refused to answer and another eight per cent who "don't know". But don't worry, the good news is that 68 per cent of British Muslims agree that acts of violence against those who publish images of Mohammed can "never be justified".
The other 32 per cent amount to a million people, all living in the United Kingdom.
Eleven per cent of Muslims thought that magazines who publish pictures of the Prophet Mohammed "deserve to be attacked". Now that's what I call "otherized"!
But relax, that's only about 310,000 British residents. And, if you're round the back of the Giant's Causeway in County Antrim or the remoter parts of the Shetlands, it may be a while before they get to you.
Is it "racist" to impute to moderate Muslims the intimidatory character of that last sentence? Well, here's Douglas Murray at a post-Charlie demo in the UK:
Yesterday in London a crowd of more than a thousand British Muslims (carefully divided between males and females) gathered outside Downing Street. The rally â€“ organised by something calling itself 'The Muslim Action Forum' â€“ was a protest against freedom of speech, specifically to cartoons of Mohammed in the French publication Charlie Hebdo. Among the banners carried by protestors were ones that read, 'I am a servant of holy prophet Muhammad (pbuh)', the sinister 'We love prophet Muhammad (pbuh) more than our lives', 'Jesus and Moses were prophets of Islam' and the even more presumptuous 'Learn some manners'. Among those holding a banner reading 'Charlie and the abuse factory' was a little boy. Others bore banners with the fantastically awful words spoken by the Pope last month: 'Insult my mum and I will punch you (Pope Francis).' A large banner hung beneath the stage from which speakers addressed the crowd carried the barely concealed threat: 'Be careful with Muhammad.'
As I said, Islam itself has no feeling for free speech, and so the more Islamic a society gets the less free speech it will have. So all the above was to be expected. This, on the other hand, has an inspired audacious brio:
Charlie Hebdo has been named 2015 International Islamophobe of the year, despite many of its staff having been killed by Jihadists in January. The annual 'award' was given by Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), a British group that claims to campaign against terrorism.
What did the late editor StĂ©phane Charbonnier and his deceased cartoonists and writers do to merit such an honor? Well, Charlie Hebdo won the Islamophobia Oscars for "its continual stoking of Islamophobic sentiment by caricaturing Muslims as terrorists".
So a group of Muslim terrorists killed them. Which you would think might lend sufficient credence to Charlie Hebdo's editorial line as to make the Islamic Human Rights Commission wary about giving them a posthumous award for their supposedly absurd, irrational phobia. If, say, I were to be killed by a deranged climate activist, I've no doubt Michael E Mann and his chums would be having a grand laugh about it, but I think a certain self-awareness would caution them from making me Climate Denier of the Year in absentia. So it's tempting to think that no one at the IHRC has sufficient sense of irony to understand what they're doing with their award to Charlie Hebdo. But I think, au contraire, they do understand - and they're dancing in the blood of the dead because, like those hundreds of thousands of British Muslims, they think those attacks were "justified". And they want you to know that.
What is the "Islamic Human Rights Commission"? Well, it has consultative status with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and it's given evidence to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. Its supporters include Ilan PappĂ©, the Jewish "anti-Zionist" Exeter University professor. All very respectable, all very "moderate".
The problem is "moderate Islam" - because "moderate Islam" is largely indistinguishable from "radical Islam" in its views on free speech, Jews, the role of women, apostasy, and the special privilege that must be accorded to Islam by everybody else. The difference between the savages who murdered Charb and his colleagues and the "moderates" who pinned Islamophobe of the Year medals on their corpses is that the jihadists are killing a few individuals while the mods are killing the very spirit of a free society. If you believe in all the above, you can't be a citizen of a functioning pluralist western society, and, wittingly or otherwise, you're part of the campaign to replace that society with something else.
Former Labour man Leo McKinstry writes in The Daily Express:
When the bloodthirsty Islamist brute nicknamed "Jihadi John" was exposed as a London computer graduate and terror suspect called Mohammed Emwazi, the cry went up, "How was he allowed to slip through the net?"
But it was an absurd question.
There is no net.
Indeed. Unless "moderate Islam" can be prevailed upon to change its views on free speech, etc, it's part of the problem, and ensures that instead of a "net" there's a vast comfort zone for the likes of Mohammed Emwazi to roam and sport in.