Unnecessary division over unnecessary divisions?

This is a painful post but I'll try to crank it out rather than sit on it and let it get more painful. The "blogostorm" between Dean Esmay and Michelle Malkin has little to do with me personally*, but everything to do with the national debate this country has been having since 9/11 when we were attacked by suicidal Saudi Salafists.

Were the 9/11 attackers Muslims? Even that isn't necessarily clear, and it depends on how Islam is to be defined. The problem is, they claimed to be acting on behalf of Islam, and enough Muslims support their cause to make many Americans wonder. For some people, it's a lot easier to conclude that "we were attacked by Islam" than to face the reality that some Muslims -- even millions of Muslims -- are not all Muslims.

I think this is terribly mistaken thinking, but I do not think it is treason. The problem is, once you conclude that the United States is at war with Islam a lot flows from that. (Including the belief that Muslims are suspect Americans, and are akin to Communists during the cold war. Or analogous to the way many 19th Century Americans regarded Indians.) Such a view of Islam as the enemy is wrong. Ali Eteraz (via Mutnodjmet) put it quite well:

wrong pragmatically; wrong in relation to the Enlightenment; wrong morally.
I, too, get very sick of hearing that Muslims are the enemy. Indeed; if we are at war with Islam, we have no business rebuilding Iraq and trying to help establish democracy; we should be leveling the place and populating it with Americans.

I see the enemy as jihadists. (And I don't mean jihadists in the sense of playing the piano well or getting straight As or doing a fine job as a teacher; I mean it in the sense of waging holy war in the name of Islam.) That sounds easy enough, but try putting it into practice in the United States today. One of the great ironies of the post-9/11 period is that while violent Islamic jihadists attacked this country, there is a constantly growing network -- both organized and unorganized -- of in-place apologists at virtually every level of society all ready to defend them. Criticize jihadists, and people on the left will call you a racist. An Islamophobe. A bigot. I have seen this too many times to count, and the reason I call it ironic is that before 9/11, feminists routinely criticized the veil. Gay activists did not hesitate to condemn Islamic homophobia. Atheists condemned Islam the same way they condemned Christianity. After 9/11, the PC crowd suddenly included a group which they'd previously neglected, and it seemed to me that the 9/11 attacks helped the image of radical Muslims with the left in this country. And in most newspapers, and on many campuses.

This network of PC critics is not only defensive in nature, but offensive. Hence, few American newspapers would dare print cartoons that would probably have been printed before 9/11 without so much as a passing thought. Before 9/11, few cared about the Supreme Court's image of Muhammad, or the many images of Muhammad (such as Salvador Dali's 1960s version). Now, even operas have to be careful. Lest they "offend." I'm tired of that crap, and a lot of people are. I don't agree that 9/11 supplied anyone with an excuse to be insensitive or act like a jerk. But then again, why in the world should a horrible attack like that make us more concerned with (what's the phrase?) "Islamic sensibilities"?

There's a large group of Americans (perhaps the majority) who never really thought about Muslims before 9/11. And now that their country is under attack by a group of Islamist maniacs, is this the right time to suddenly start lecturing them about sensitivity? Like it or not, that's what's happening. I think it is entirely unreasonable, and violates the most basic American common sense. Scolding Americans about how ignorant they are about Islam and how they "need to learn more about it" implies that they now have some duty -- now that they're under attack -- to understand their attackers. That's not the way wars are normally fought, and it doesn't surprise me that some people find it unacceptable. Hence the backlash, and hence the "screw them all!" position of the more fervent and loud members of the Michelle Malkin crowd.

I'm not saying that "screw them all!" any more characterizes Michelle Malkin than "Let's have peace and understanding with Islamists now!" characterizes Dean Esmay. Rather, these are tendencies, and they touch on colliding schools of thought that are aggravated by years of war and rapidly coming to a head.

Yet in fairness, it should be recognized that both "screw them" and "understand them" are very American positions, just as American as Dean Esmay and Michelle Malkin.

I think the two ways of looking at the same facts symbolize a growing, possibly intractable debate, and I'm worried that it may be as hopeless as the debate over guns (in which vicious drive-by shootings are seen by one side as an argument against guns, and by the other as an argument to own guns).

Unfortunately for me, I live close to a Saudi madrassa that I've complained about in a number of posts. They're not only too close to terrorism, they're too close to me. Yet the damned local government pays for school buses to take kids in and out of there for their indoctrination with what the half-Jewish neighborhood has every reason to suspect is anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, anti-West hatred. (The "damned local government," of course, is funded with my tax dollars.) In violation of zoning regulations, they operated a school illegally, ran an unlicensed "halal" meat market, unlicensed restaurant, and summer jihad camps -- contemptuously violating their pre-9/11 covenant with the neighbors. Neighbors complained, and were treated by the bureaucrats with barely concealed contempt, as if we were an annoying group of bigoted crackpots. (Complaints of terrorist connections were dismissed as "irrelevant," for example.) The Zoning Board, however, couldn't ignore the blatant code violations, and hearings were held, but guess what? Over the objections of the neighbors, the madrassa got the "special exceptions" it had requested:

In a 25-page order released last week, the board granted most requests by Villanova's Center for Islamic Education to expand operations, over neighbors' strong objections.

Although the order includes numerous restrictions and conditions, neighbors who waited until the end of a lengthy board meeting Thursday night to hear the twice-delayed decision were dismayed. They say the center, which holds religious services and monthly lectures on topics related to Islam, not only has consistently violated township restrictions and an agreement with neighbors since it opened in 1994, but broke the rules this summer, even while the application was pending.

While the zoning board said it "understands those frustrations," it found that it could not, as a matter of law, deny the requests, which include permitting operation of a school for students in kindergarten through eighth grades, a summer camp for children and increased attendance at some religious services.

Not so for a Christian school in a nearly identical situation before the same board:
The Lower Merion Zoning Hearing Board voted Aug. 18 to deny the American Academy's requests for zoning relief to continue meeting at Gladwyne Methodist Church.

In a case members deliberated throughout the summer, the board found that the organization is operating as a school and does not qualify for an extension of the church's special exception as a religious use in a residential zone. The group had argued that its Christian-based instruction is a form of religious expression.

If it is bigotry to want a Saudi madrassa to be treated the same way a Christian school was treated, then call me a bigot. I am getting sick and tired of this politically correct nonsense, as are a lot of people. And no; it is not all Muslims. Many Muslims, I am sure, don't want their kids indoctrinated in Wahhabist hatred. Many are tolerant of gay rights and stuff like that. It just seems to me that they'd be a little less afraid of speaking up if Americans weren't also so intimidated.

For the umpteenth time, I do not condemn Islam. Our war is not with Islam. Islam did not declare war on us. I am all for moderate Muslims. The problem is that the head of the local madrassa calls his brand of Islam "moderate" and describes his congregants as "mainstream moderate Muslims." Radicals have a history of becoming the mainstream. (And the more the left pushes, the more mainstream the Jihadists become.)

Thus, the whole thing is ugly, mean and bitter. Writing this blog post makes has been little more than an experience in bitterness, and I'd just as soon have had a few beers, and forgotten about it.

The worst part of it is that Dean and Michelle are both right -- each in their own way. Michelle may have failed to properly recognize the distinctions between Islam and Islamism, while Dean may be failing to understand the social dynamics of how the left is undermining this distinction, or Michelle's reactions to that.... FWIW, I think they're both on solid ground as Americans, not that it really matters right now in the debate.

It has all the makings of tragedy.

* I said this has "little" to do with me personally, but I should point out that Dean Esmay has been a huge inspiration from day one, and I think he's a prince of a guy. Michelle Malkin is someone I've long admired for standing up to the left, and she has been very generous in linking to me. So while the argument between them is not personal, my feelings towards them are.

UPDATE (09/29/06): My deepest thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post with such kind words. (Much too kind, really. Trust me, I don't belong in the dictionary next to the word "decent"!)

Not to return the compliment, because I'd say this any day of the week, but I think now is a good time to point out that bloggers (myself included) are just too full of themselves. In general, I think we take ourselves way too seriously. Glenn is major exception, and I think it accounts for his huge success. There's a huge difference between making it clear what you think and absolutely knowing you're right and waving the flag of ideological purity at all who disagree. I have never known Glenn to do the latter, and there's a lesson for all of us in that. If I am as decent as Glenn says, it's only because I try to remember the possibility that I might be wrong, and that I'm not worth taking as seriously as I might like to think.

If we consider the ironic situation that the more a blogger's traffic increases, the more seriously he takes himself, then Glenn Reynolds should be taking himself about 200 million times more seriously than most "successful" bloggers. In fact, he takes himself less seriously. He's one of the most self-effacing guys in the blogosphere.

The more you do this stuff, the more it can go to your head. Developing a big head will not only cause you to butt heads with other big heads, but if your head is big enough, you'll just be in your own way. The reason (I think) for Glenn's success is that he isn't standing in anyone's way, and thus isn't in his own way. (A good thing to emulate.)

Hope that wasn't too moralistic, but it's what I think.

posted by Eric on 09.28.06 at 07:58 PM


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Tracked on October 3, 2006 11:01 PM


TO: Eric
RE: Eh?

"I, too, get very sick of hearing that Muslims are the enemy. Indeed; if we are at war with Islam, we have no business rebuilding Iraq and trying to help establish democracy; we should be leveling the place and populating it with Americans." -- Eric

When the time comes that you do recognize that it is a war with Islam...

...you propose we nuke the Middle East and repopulate it with Americans?

That's considerably more blood-thirsty than MY approach. And I already recognize the enemy for who they are. But I don't call for the total annihilation of all life in the Middle East.


Is that 'classical values' your espousing? Or something else?



Chuck Pelto   ·  September 28, 2006 10:53 PM

Actually, there's the Ann Coulter solution: rather than kill the people who are Muslims now, we merely kill their leaders and convert them (presumably at the point of a modern nuke rather than the medieval sword). Avoids both annihilation and the dreadful specter of Muslims remaining extant after U.S. victory.

PG   ·  September 28, 2006 11:13 PM

Sorry, Chuck, but you're not arguing with my views, but with an argument ad absurdum. I don't think this is reasonable, because by positing a different set of absurdities, you're really changing the subject. My point is not what I would do if we were at war with Islam, but to argue that we are not. If you want to argue that we are at war with Islam, fine. I disagree. It's really not my point to argue over what we should do in such a situation, although I will venture that the goal in war is to kill the enemy. If the enemy were in fact all Muslims, that would be a pretty big job. But I think that is absurd on its face. If you say that means I advocate the slaughter of all Muslims, you're arguing with yourself.

Eric Scheie   ·  September 28, 2006 11:21 PM

I've tried to understand Islam. I'd like to think that we can somehow reform it. But Moslems have done too damn little reforming on their own.

How many Islamic countries command death or imprisonment for apostasy(abandoning Islam)? How many death threats have we in the west received for daring to criticize Islam, with tut-tutters like Dean Esmay saying we are being bigoted for having a problem with a religion/political system which makes 1/2 the population second class citizens?

Finally, there is one big thing to think about. At least 10% of the worldwide Moslem population, including that population here in the US, are willing to openly side with the terrorists. That's 100 million people.

The part that scares me, that makes me shudder, is that those who advocate a war on Islam to eradicate it are wrong. I am afraid they might be right. Because, when it comes down to it, if they are right, the only way we can win is if we do to the Islamic world what we did to Japan and Germany. And that's a butcher's bill that I'd rather not have to pay.

John Bono   ·  September 28, 2006 11:21 PM

Please read Wretchard's "Three Conjectures" and see if your thinking changes. Islam and Western Civilization are incompatible. They will either kill us or we kill them. I'm not willing to die for my country or civilization, rather I'm all for killing those that want to kill me and mine. The choices are only 1)they destroy us; 2) we destroy them, or 3) we submit. There are no others.

TxBubba   ·  September 28, 2006 11:33 PM

I've studied enough about Islam and its hsitroy to side with both.

WE ARE at war with Islam, if one understands how desperately Islam must reform. That is to say, along with David Cook's "Understandign Jihad," violent Jihad - while not instrinsic to the religion - remains intrinsic to its historical practice. In other words, Islam sans "the unoffical sixth Pillar," as Walid Phares terms it, requires no organized defense.

Without Jihadism, there would be no war - and "GWOT" - no war against terrorism. Similarly, without a fast colliding globalization with spreading high-tech instruments of death, there would be no "War Against Terrorism."

Without reform of Islam, the war will go on for the foreseeable future. It is Islam what must adapt to modernity. Or else the future is too horrible to contemplate, and Muslims will lose horribly too.

Orson   ·  September 28, 2006 11:46 PM

yes, pointing to the extremes in order to clarify your position seems rationale...the borders/boundries of our shared world are recognizeable that way I think. Unless I missed a point, though, I didn't see what seems to be the obvious stated in that one side up to their extreme is reacting to an enemy....the other side up to their extreme is reacting to the other sides reaction.

Now, I would consider myself more in the Malkin crowd and have yet to really see the extreme position of being at war against all of Islam put forth except by the odd commenter. I see the extreme of the Esmay crowd put forth by, well, the Esmays. Regardless, though, if one recognizes that the U.S. was indeed attacked by some outside force there is really only one extreme that is somewhat logical. If one believes we weren't attacked by an outside force then the other extreme would likewise not be right but just more so.

zenpig   ·  September 28, 2006 11:48 PM

Come to think of it, conversion does seem to be the underlying idea behind much of what's promoted in conservative media. See TownHall's pimping Robert Spencer's biography of Islam's founder.

PG   ·  September 28, 2006 11:52 PM

But still, when its all said and done, Dean and Michelle will both vote Republican in a few weeks.

jaymaster   ·  September 28, 2006 11:54 PM

A Religion in Need of a Reformation or Enlightenment

I posted this comment re this discussion:

Islamofascist Suicide Bombers are Rational Actors

Nothing new here.

To win this war, we must first know the enemy. RBT has long argued such acts are not crazed acts of desparation by oppressed people. These are rational acts by intelligent people from their own sense of reality based on fanatical cultlike religious teachings.

Unfortunately these teachings do not allow for alternative sources of information, interpretations and reason that would otherwise moderate this behavior. Again its David Koresch and the Branch Davidians (Waco, TX) and Jim Jones and the Kool Aid Bunch all over again except funded by petro dollars e.g. Iran the Shiia extremists and the House of Saud the Suni extremists.

The Pope was actually onto something with his recent theological comments re the Religion of Islam. The Pope's words just went over the heads of the followers of Islam and the MSM.

How come we don't have Baptist suicidal bombers?

Read More

rocketsbrain   ·  September 29, 2006 12:00 AM


I don't think America is at war with Islam or Muslim's in general. Our war is not and never will be with those who wish to live their lives in peace and in turn are willing to let do the same. We define our enemies and our friends not by their religion, nationality, or ideaology but by their actions toward us.

America is at war with anyone who wishes the American people ill and is willing to act on that wish or support others who will act on it. Simply wishing America ill without acting on that wish is something we aren't going to worry about.

I think that both Dean and Michelle would agree with this description of our enemy right up to the "or support" clause. Dean and Michelle, like a lot of others, differ on what constitutes support for those who act on malevolent wishes toward America. Dean seems to use an active definition of support, give money, help gather information, supply materials, and any other direct method of giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Michelle, like me, seems to include silence regarding acts of terror by the enemy as tacit support, a type of support.

For those Muslims that have been silent or those who have said "This is horrible, but..." I have only one thing to say. Eventually America will get around to killing every one of the terrorists who have harmed Americans. If you do not give us some way of differentiating them from you it his highly likely you may get swept up also.

For evil to succeed it all that is required is for good men to remain silent.


otpu   ·  September 29, 2006 12:04 AM

Esmay is an idiot. How anyone can take that guy seriously, or consider him a 'prince' is beyond me.

He has no academic knowledge of Islamic history or theology, outside of what he reads on the Internet, but he hilariously chides folks on the finer nuances of Islam and our 'Islamic allies'. Why? Because he 'now lives in Michigan, smack dab between Detroit and Ann Arbor, not too far from Dearborn.' Dearborn? Why'd he mention that? Oh, you see, Dearborn has a lot of Arabs, mostly Christian, but a lot of Muslims. Makes him an expert, you see. As I said, idiot.

If I'm going to war, I'll take a Malkin over and Esmay any day. Esmay is a pantywaste chump. 100 bucks says Malkin kicks his ass toe-to-toe.

Rupert   ·  September 29, 2006 12:05 AM

Eric: Thanks for a good and thoughtful post. You are, of course, right, thought I think that those Muslims who speak out against extremists get damn little press in the US. They get far more in their own, Muslim countries, including in Saudi Arabia.

Among stories I haven't seen in American media--and I really do look--but which are reported in Arab media are:

--The Saudi newspaper (Shams) that reprinted one of the Danish cartoons. And yes, the newspaper was suspended for two weeks and the editor fined.

--The 800 imams who were removed from their jobs and sent back to be 're-educated' in the fact that Islam is supposed to be a religion of peace.

--The growth of a "neo-Salafist" school (to use the terminology of Anthony Cordesman at CSIS) who seek a political Islam that includes freedom and excludes violence. (Even Saudi Salafis are not a uniformly "dangerous" group.)

I could go on, but will instead direct you to a post I blogged for 9/11: Saudi Arabia Five Years After 9/11 in which I quote reforms that have been going on, mostly unreported in the West. Oddly enough, you can find positive reporting on MEMRI that doesn't make it into the WaPo or NYT.

I don't know the particulars of the madrassa of which you complain. I can't, therefore, comment on it. I can point, however, to the Saudi Ambassador to the US, Faisal Al-Turki, quoted in the 9/4 Washington Post who said that the Saudis had suspended their missionary efforts in the US. Perhaps letters of complaint could be usefully directed to the ambassador. He seems to have his ears, and mind, open.

I think Dean does a better job of discriminating among the various groups that comprise Islam than do Malkin and a score of widely-read others.

There are certainly those who do evil things in the name of Islam. But what percentage of the world's Islamic population do they represent? Do the math. Assume 1.6 billion Muslims. Extravagently assume 10 million violent jihadists (a number no one is claiming). That's 0.625% of Muslims who are violent jihadists. To extrapolate from that to "Islam is a violent religion" is pretty breathtaking.

Are there problems with certain contemporary manifestations of Islam? Absolutely. Do some of those practices offend our sensibilites and sense of right and wrong? Absolutely (though do note that the Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights of 1981 is not identical to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1947). Do some actually endanger American lives? Again, absolutely; they are the dangers we need to address, not the 99.375%.

There are no truly democratic Islamic governments in the world at this time. Some come closer than others. I think we will see the growth of more freedom and more representative governments in the region, but it'll take some years.

Muslims live peacefully and successfully within democracies, however, ranging from Indonesia and India to Australia and the US. There is no absolute incompatibility, except in the minds of those who insist there is.

John Burgess   ·  September 29, 2006 12:05 AM

Islam is a death cult.
Muslims in America are a fifth column.

L   ·  September 29, 2006 12:14 AM

Sorry but acting like it is only Salafists who are attacking us shows a serious lack of knowledge about history. It also insults the memory of the 241 Marines who died at the hands of Shia Muslims in what was formerly the worst terrorist attack against Americans, Lebanon 83.

Finally Dean Esmay is a foul mouthed blowhard who knows as much about Islam as I know about nuclear physics...perhaps even less. I didn't have to read all the posts on his vile blog to come to this conclusion all I had to do is read his reactions to commenters. Such as in response to this comment.


This is like the tenth person that you mischaracterized their position and then attacked. You never provide specifics because if you did you couldn’t support your assertions.

There are other ways to fight the intolerant nature of Islam than all out war on every Muslim on the planet at once. That’s stupid and Malkin never asserted that position. You really seem to have no concern for the truth what-so-ever.

Does the fact that there a billion muslims make their ideology ethical and something to be lauded or just something to be feared?

The US has had to deal with Islamic trouble in the past. We dealt with it without having to take on ever Muslim on the planet, just those attacking our interests and the countries that harbored them. We didn’t go into fits of political correctness to accomplish it either.

Dean jumps off the deep end into raging hysteria...always a sign of a weak argument.

Brian: You lying traitor. I have provided specifics time and time again, and all you have offered in response are vague handwaving generalizations and out-of-context, cherry-picked quotations of the Koran.Indeed, intellectual coward that you are, you have not answered my specifics, such as why you do not acknowledge Muslims like Hamid Karzai and Nouri al-Maliki as our allies. You do not do that, because you can’t: you’re such an intellectual lightweight that you say nothing about them—you God-damned Benedict Arnold turncoat traitor.

Oh, but you have some cherry-picked, out-of-context quotes from the Koran, which you use to spit on our Muslim allies, you God-Damned traitor son of a bitch.

I hope you know I only keep you around to help emphasize my point: there are people on the Right who are fucking traitors, which is what you are.

Until you acknowledge and embrace our Muslim allies, that is all you will ever be: a fucking traitor [spit] .

Not content with the amount of venom spewed forth in place of rebuttal he then goes on to say in response to someone asking him to chill.

Sean: No I will not chill, dude. I’m mad about this, and I will not stop being mad about it.These are our allies. If you cannot acknowledge them as our allies, then you’re a God-damned traitor, and I hate your fucking guts.

And this lunatic gets linked to by Glenn because he supposedly has something important to say about Islam? If I were inclined to defend Islam I might wish for Dean to shut up, sort of with friends like him who needs enemies.

Pierre Legrand   ·  September 29, 2006 12:36 AM

Actually, it is already too late. Their koran is quite clear about their intent, submission via any means necessary.

I fear muslims and want them out of western culuture and our country. They are an evil death cult without redemption. They are not Americans, they are muslims, and they will never stop in their attempts to get us to submit. Do not pretend you can make their belief system peaceful, it is not their way.

If they do not stop threatening us, and if Iran goes nuclear, then we must nuke them first. The day Iran has a nuke, we must destroy them completely. This is nothing less then survival. There are no rules to play by, it is kill or be killed.

H   ·  September 29, 2006 12:41 AM

Mr. Scheie,

Very thoughtfull writing. We may not think we are at war with muslims but an awfully large percentage of muslims are at war with us. I have read 10 to 20 percent of muslims are the jihadist. I think 20% is proably to high but there is also another 50%or so who are on the jihadist side. They won't bomb or shoot us but they will give money and support to them. Any way you slice this pie the majority are against us.

How many muslims in America fit into the enemy/supporter percentage? I want to say a very small amount but the jihadist didn't get all those millions in donations prior to 9/11 from a small percentage.

http://www.writely.com/View.aspx?docid=ah6sxjndq9qq_84krzv79 is an article about irans president speaking at the UN and then a dinner with 500 american iranians. The dinner party sounded like a lot of support for iran. Hopefully our government and intelligence isnt keeping a closed eye. I certainly hope that we don't develop a 5th column like europe has developed.

i4cu2   ·  September 29, 2006 1:07 AM

Moderate Islam is not enough. As pointed out above the radicals have a way of claiming themselves as moderate with too little opposition. What we need is liberal Islam. No less. And if it takes the point of the sword to make it happen, so be it.

Sozekirai   ·  September 29, 2006 1:27 AM

In addition I'd like to clarify: This is not a war between "Islam" and "the West". It is a war between the entire Modern Liberal world (including both "progressive" and "conservative" liberals) vs. the entire Illiberal/Anti-Liberal world. Not only the Salafi Jihadists but also the tyrant regimes the breed and support them.

Sozekirai   ·  September 29, 2006 1:30 AM

I used to try to distinguish good muslims from bad, the moderates from the terrorists. No longer. Instead I distinguish between the insincere muslim who is tolerant of my existance, and the true believer who wants me dead.

What more evidence does one need than the near total lack of outrage by "moderate" Muslims towards their violent brothers? Christian churches condemn abortion clinic bombers, but Muslim communities remain silent about the outrages done in their religion's name. I'm beginning to suspect that the reason they're silent is that the moderate Muslims aren't religous. They're like the Catholic who goes to Easter and Christmas mass. They're Muslim in name only.

The Christian church has a violent past. But Christianity got past that phase. It realized that trying to be a temporal power was dangerously corrupting. It apologized for its sins. It is a mature religion. But Islam is still acting like a child. It's immature and whiny.

Islam is a violent religion. It is the religion that made Cat "Peace Train" Stevens publicly call for the death of Salman Rushdie. It is a religion that protests violently when the Pope suggests it might be too violent.

David Johnson   ·  September 29, 2006 2:20 AM

Personally, I remain hopeful but unconvinced. To my mind the ball is firmly in the Muslim court. Why haven't we seen the Islamic version of Not in Our Name?

ThomasD   ·  September 29, 2006 2:29 AM

The enemy are Muslim, but Muslims are not the enemy.

I too have wondered why we don't hear more from moderate Muslims who just want to live and let live. I've concluded that most of their imams today are bought and paid by the Saudis to promote Salafist teachings and also that most Muslims are just afraid to speak out. If we succeed in removing the violent strains, we may find that a lot of them thank us, but whether they do or not, we must free ourselves and the rest of the world from this threat.

I think this conquest impulse has more to do with being Arab or Asian than with being Muslim. Nearly all the Muslims in the world have been either conquered or the subjects of conquerers. The Koran has messages of peace and war. Which one dominates depends on what the imams are preaching.

AST   ·  September 29, 2006 3:54 AM

Thank goodness for a civil discussion of the current crisis. However, I disagree with a couple points.

If American Muslims are loyal to America, why don't they make that clear in public? For example, a few weeks ago Muslim Americans mounted a demonstration in front of the White House during the war in Lebanon that was a pro-Hezbollah rally, complete with Hezbollah flags, Nasrallah T-shirts, and fiery condemnations of America in windy speeches. By my count, between 5000 and 10,000 American Muslims showed up.

A year before, a local Muslim lawyer in DC organized an anti-terror demonstration which was condemned by CAIR and local mosques. Only fifty people showed up.

One can not help but wonder why, if Muslims reject terror in the name of Islam, a demonstration for a terror organization gets one hundred times as much support as a Muslim demonstration against Islamic terror. It certainly gives the impression that American Muslims are sympathetic to Islamic terrorists.

I also disagree with the point that Islam as a whole has not declared war on America. During the haj, the annual pilgrimmage to Mecca, pilgrims are required to stone three pillars at Mina which represent Satan. For the last two years at least, and perhaps more, "USA" or "Death to America" has been written on one of those pillars. When Islam identifies America as Satan and the destruction of America is incorporated into Islam's sacred public rituals, it is fair to argue that Islam has declared war on America. It also is an implicit endorsement of the September 11 attacks by Islam.


Tantor   ·  September 29, 2006 6:10 AM

As an atheist, Moslems want me dead for being an infidel, Christians want me dead for being a heathen. (^_^) I don't want to kill anybody, and most people I meet, christian, moslem or whatever, don't either. Except for the Fundamentalists.

Right now they're mostly moslems, but go back 300 years it was the other way round. The Muslim world provided sanctuary for thousands of refugees from the Inquisition,while in America Cotton Mather griped how they only managed send 600 heathen souls to hell for Thanksgiving. The Christians came around eventually, and the Moslems will too. The change was gradual, was due to social changes, and not imposed by some genocidal Crusade against them.

The tools against fundamentalism are social and political. Meanwhile, killing them is not too practical, because they have more relatives than you have ammo. Whether moslems, christians, or pastafarians, the enemy are fundamentalists,who basically want to kill people. It's scary to see more and more of them over here amongst the Christians, and even amongst the leadership. If we normal people let them turn this into the War Of The Fundies, we're screwed.

lyssa daniels   ·  September 29, 2006 6:26 AM

That was the first and last post I'll ever read of Dean Esmay's. He mischaracterized Malkin and swore at his commentariat and called them traitors. He's lost touch with reality if he thinks that others think we're at war with Islam and all Muslims. Here we go again, back to the early days: not all Muslims are terrorists, but the terrorists who attacked us are radical Muslims. I thought we all had this fact down shortly after 9/11...Dean must have napped through that lesson.

I linked over from Glenn, just a snowflake in the Instalanche...but I shall not go there again, if I can help it.

kentuckyliz   ·  September 29, 2006 6:49 AM

Great post, Eric. I don't think either Malkin or Esmay was completely reasonable here. Dean, for some reason, spun out of control, and Malkin (as usual) is too prissy and self-satisfied in defending herself. It's fine to be 'right'. It's something else again for someone in Malkin's situation to be attacked by a generally reasonable man and to be less concerned about understanding the source of his anger than in 'proving' how wrong he is (and, not incidentally, feeling the unsavory need to demonstrate how much larger her audience is than his - something LGF, in a post on the subject, also could not refrain from doing).

It's quite simple. If you're being unfairly attacked for a lack of understanding and compassion, and then demonstrate a lack of understanding and compassion in your response, you may rally the faithful but you'll win no converts. All that sort of thing does is widen chasms.

Mr. Snitch   ·  September 29, 2006 7:19 AM

People are still confusing Plans A and B. Plan A assumes that there are homicidal Muslims and non-homicidal ones, and that they can be separated or converted. The Iraq experiment is an obvious consequence of faith in Plan A. Should that experiment fail - and we won't know for another decade or two - that by itself will be evidence that Plan A is not a good model of reality. That leaves the more draconian Plan B, and a pile of perhaps a billion dead bodies by the time the dust clears. That pile is inevitable when faced with an "us or them" scenario. Is if possible for the West to win Plan B? Yes, but not by half-measures. It will take loads of ammo, for one thing. But Western industry can make loads of ammo, and has done so before when needed.

Now, possibly neither Plan A (modify Islam into some form compatible with the modern world) nor Plan B (the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim) fits reality very well. Then we have the NSDAP scenario - sixty years ago, it was hardly possible to crush the National Socialist war machine without fighting more-or-less all Germans, whether individual Germans were Party members or not. That case is functionally indistinguishable from Plan B (kill them all, and let Allah sort them out). And that is an ugly scenario which people like Esmay simply don't have the courage to face.

For the rest of us, things remain murky. Is it really a case of "us or them", or not? We still don't know, and the hypothetical "moderate" Muslim isn't helping us much. If it isn't really "us or them", then Western sensibilities come into it - we wouldn't want to massacre them all "just in case"; it would be hell on our humanistic tendencies. But liberal humanism isn't all the West has developed - we also have Machiavelli, who would have pointed out that it doesn't matter how enlightened and humanistic you are - if your enemies have already killed you, your liberalism will have died with you.

And if it really is "us or them", then I know which way I'm voting.

tom swift   ·  September 29, 2006 7:36 AM

If there is a traitor between them, it is Esmay, and foul-mouthed traitor besides. Must be another side-effect of liberalism; the freedom to curse like a sailor regardless of the context. Eh.

I, too, know which way I'll be voting this election. Unless things change drastically on the left side of the aisle, it is the way I will be voting (and encouraging others to vote) for the rest of my life.

America is too precious to leave in the hands of the left.

idgit   ·  September 29, 2006 7:57 AM

I saw nothing princely in Esmay's temper tantrum.

Brett   ·  September 29, 2006 8:08 AM

Eric, I think you hit just the right tone with your post. I find myself caught in the middle between those who say Islam is evil and those who take any criticism of Islam as "Islamophobic."

Our goal should be to win the war, and defining the enemy as an entire religion really expands the scope and makes it harder if impossible to win. We should be strategically exploiting divisions between those that self-identify as Muslims. These divisions already exist, as this civil war within Islam has been raging for some 50 years, and it is to our benefit to take advantage of them. I really don't care what "true" Islam is, as long as those that threaten the civilized world are absolutely defeated.

An essential part of this struggle is the defense of our values including free expression and freedom of speech. At the same time we are working with our Muslim allies, we should never kowtow to their perpetual outrage at perceived offenses against Islam. We should be resolute and confident like the prime minister of Denmark was in the cartoon crisis. Muslims in America have freedom of religion for which they should be thankful as we all are; however we should denounce blasphemy laws and other special privileges for Muslims without apology and fear of being called "Islamophobes."

If it is wrong to paint with the broad brush of "Islam is evil", then it is also wrong to paint with the broad brush of "Islamophobia." Those that say we should understand Islam may have a point, but they should really look in the mirror and ask themselves how much they truly understand America.

Mal   ·  September 29, 2006 8:53 AM

Tom Swift said it perfectly. The only thing I'd add is that we may not have the "one decade or two" to see what the outcome of the Iraqi experiment is. We are playing against time, and that time is the point when some Muslim terrorist group attacks an American city with a nuclear weapon. 3000 dead in the 9/11 attacks wasn't enough to really fire Americans up for a "total war" like World War II. I figure it takes something two or three orders of magnitude greater. If we suffer an attack with deaths in the hundreds of thousands or, God forbid, millions, the Jacksonian reaction will be swift, strong and unstoppable. At that point, the Iraqi experiment of trying to create Muslim societies where it is no longer acceptable to murder infidels will be a failure, and we will proceed to sterilize the lab equipment. I truly hope that it doesn't come to that.

Clyde   ·  September 29, 2006 9:13 AM

If just one American Muslim would lead the charge against hate and intolerance, murder and ignorance, with all the vociferous zeal they use defending Jihadis' right to destroy us (witness this sorry exchange ) without impediment, without scrutiny, I could get behind them. I could believe that they are Americans first, freedom loving, tolerant, help-their-neighbors Americans. But DAMN. I haven't seen that...I haven't HEARD that...and I look and listen...and wonder.

And I'm just so sick of these snarling Islamic faces plastered on every paper and media website for the outrage du jour. And how, if they don't actually HAVE one, they manufacture it (The Mo toon riots were HOW long AFTER publication?). That is if not kept busy killing each other during their "Holy" days. Enough already.

Your local madrassa's special status reminded me. I quoted a fellow the other day suggesting a policy of "de-escalation" because poor Muslim youths are dis-affected vis-a-vis the opera brouhaha. I suggested we instead counter with a swift and steady course of de-ASSKISSALATION.

Being rude to each other doesn't help. Enough, already.

tree hugging sister   ·  September 29, 2006 9:14 AM

Excellent post. The PC part of our civic culture, by refusing to call American jihadists on behavior that the PC crowd does not tolerate in Christians, is inadvertently setting up an enormous tragedy by encouraging the jihadists, by tolerating jihadist intimidation of other Muslims and by convincing many non-Muslims that the only alternative to appeasement of the jihadists is to make war on all Muslims.

Jonathan   ·  September 29, 2006 9:34 AM
It's something else again for someone in Malkin's situation to be attacked by a generally reasonable man and to be less concerned about understanding the source of his anger than in 'proving' how wrong he is
Some quotes from this "generally reasonable man"
Brian: You lying traitor. I have provided specifics time and time again, and all you have offered in response are vague handwaving generalizations and out-of-context, cherry-picked quotations of the Koran.Indeed, intellectual coward that you are, you have not answered my specifics, such as why you do not acknowledge Muslims like Hamid Karzai and Nouri al-Maliki as our allies. You do not do that, because you can’t: you’re such an intellectual lightweight that you say nothing about them—you God-damned Benedict Arnold turncoat traitor.

Oh, but you have some cherry-picked, out-of-context quotes from the Koran, which you use to spit on our Muslim allies, you God-Damned traitor son of a bitch.

I hope you know I only keep you around to help emphasize my point: there are people on the Right who are fucking traitors, which is what you are.

Until you acknowledge and embrace our Muslim allies, that is all you will ever be: a fucking traitor [spit] .

Sean: No I will not chill, dude. I’m mad about this, and I will not stop being mad about it.These are our allies. If you cannot acknowledge them as our allies, then you’re a God-damned traitor, and I hate your fucking guts.

All from a couple of innocuous comments...impressive stuff for a reasonable sort of guy. Just the sort of guy I can see having a rational fact based argument.

But lets continue because the examples of his ability to calmly debate points is so evident in his very being.

Classic, classic case of irresponsible, stupid, even venal generalizations about someone else's religion.

This reminds me of chuckleheaded Christians who habitually quote this or that Bible verse to rationalize their opinions about God's will without ever looking at the context of the verse.

Neal Boortz, JIFA (Just Another Foaming Islamophobe). Oh, and did I add that he's an idiot who hurts the war effort? I should have added that Neal Boortz is an idiot who hurts the war effort. Because Neal Boortz is an idiot who hurts the war effort.
One day I'll figure out how bigots like you can possibly support our foreign policy in Afghanistan and Iraq, or indeed how you can even think about voting Republican. A very enlightening day that will be...

He is insufferably self righteous, on top of that fact that he has an anger management problem that I am pretty sure is only manifested because of his isolation, meaning he doesn't have the balls to say stuff like that to a persons face. On top of that he gets Islam wrong so very often...sort of a trifecta of idiocy.

But other than that he is a reasonable sort of guy that I am sure would be a blast to have at a party...hehe.

Pierre Legrand   ·  September 29, 2006 10:15 AM

Are we at war with Islam as a whole? A closely related question would be:

Is the Koran just another holy book, as compatible with liberty and democracy as the Bible, Book of Mormon or Baghavad Gita?

Or is it a collection of "Really Bad Ideas" that needs to be discredited and stripped of active followers, like "Mein Kampf" of "Das Kapital"?

There's a lot argument about this upthread, and elswhere in the blogosphere. The best of it on both sides is scholarly, historically informed, and persuasive ... at least persuasive enough that I can't bring myself to reject either position as being incontrovertibly wrong.

So I don't think a final determination can be made it this time; only history will tell. While we're stuck living this history, prudence and morality require us to consider both possibilities seriously.

If in fact it's possible to eradicate Islamofscism without having to eradicate Islam that's clearly the preferable path to take.

But if it's not possible, we have to be prepared to do what it takes to consign Islam to the dustbin of history, with as little harm to individual Muslims as possible, but as much as is necessary.

The hard part is determining when we've reached the point where it's been experimentally proven that Islam is an inherently destructive ideological system, and that we're going to have to go after it root and branch.

I *don't* think we're anywhere close to there yet. I *do* think we should continue to seriously discuss the possibility and how we would deal with it if it were true. Not just to plan for a possible eventuality.

But also because it's entirely possible that "Moderate Muslims" do exist, in large numbers, and aren't trying to reclaim their religion because they're afraid of what the radicals would do to them if they tried. I'd like to see them motivated by an even greater fear of what *we* might do to them if they *don't*.

Ralph Phelan   ·  September 29, 2006 10:28 AM

Technically , aren't they Wahhabists, or more properly Hambalists, rather than
Salafist. Regardless, their belief system
is unbalanced to say the least

narciso   ·  September 29, 2006 10:30 AM

You can't deduce anything from two different zoning board decisions involving two different applications. This is actually a very technical area of law. I have been involved representing Jewish schools and synagogues in virtually identical circumstances -- the legal and factual issues are always different for each application.

Ron Coleman   ·  September 29, 2006 10:30 AM

"It just seems to me that they'd [moderate Muslims] be a little less afraid of speaking up if Americans weren't also so intimidated."

I've said this several times in relation to the Pope's remarks and to the cartoons and been mostly ignored so it's nice to see that someone else recognizes it too. If anyone should be able to speak out against the violence done in the name of the Prophet or insist on freedom of speech and the press, it should be us.

And if we can't do it, how can we possibly expect people living within the Muslim community to do it?

Synova   ·  September 29, 2006 11:39 AM

Are they having online discussions and arguments akin to this in Saudi Arabia? Iran? Indonesia? India?

I suspect the answers are no, no, no, and kinda/sorta/in a way.

As for the no areas, why not?

Anonymous   ·  September 29, 2006 12:24 PM

(questionable content test)

Barry Kearns   ·  September 29, 2006 12:27 PM

Sigh... apparently, the "questionable content" in my post was that I have a blog. Gasp!

There are certainly those who do evil things in the name of Islam. But what percentage of the world's Islamic population do they represent? Do the math. Assume 1.6 billion Muslims. Extravagently assume 10 million violent jihadists (a number no one is claiming). That's 0.625% of Muslims who are violent jihadists. To extrapolate from that to "Islam is a violent religion" is pretty breathtaking.

I think it goes far beyond just a collection of "those who do evil things in the name of Islam".

The prime example of this is Abdul Rahman. When a government and religion give legitimacy and sanction to the notion that someone should be killed for the "crime" of changing religions AWAY from Islam (while at the same time endorsing the concept of forced conversions TO Islam), then we're not just talking about a small collection of bad actors.

We're talking about an underlying systemic problem. I don't think it's unreasonable to extrapolate from that to "Islam is a violent religion". Isn't a state-sanctioned death sentence due to exercise of religious freedom violent enough?

There are significant movements underway pushing for the establishment of Shari'a law. Is it not reasonable to question the violent and unjust outcomes that are derived religiously, and therefore question whether the religion itself advocates and legitimizes inherently unjust violence?

Barry Kearns   ·  September 29, 2006 12:29 PM

After just reading this, you can keep the moderates in my book. Same lyrics, softer melody.

And yes, I'm hugely cranky.

tree hugging sister   ·  September 29, 2006 12:32 PM


How can you with any intellectual honesty describe any of today's (not those of 300 or 600 years ago) fundamentalist christians as "scary" in any life threatening context? Please show me the Baptist or Pentecostal who is proposing any physical harm to atheists. If you can't cite such a source, then the moral equivalency argument between Jihadist Islam and Fundamentalist Christianity doesn't fly.

In particular, almost all fundamentalist Christians today come from the pietist stream of Christianity, where personal spirituality is the primary goal and involvement in the socio-economic world is only a retarding action as western culture moves away from it's traditional Judeo-Christian worldview.

David Jay   ·  September 29, 2006 12:40 PM

I put myself through a reading of Esmay and Spencer some time back. I learned more about Islam from Spencer. But, I then read both of their biographies as they themselves posted on their respective blogs: Esmay has Muslim friends; Spencer has studied Islam directly from the Koran and its various Laws from the beginning to the present. I find the religion of Islam to be, at present, set in stone. The word of Allah as handed down by Muhammad cannot be changed. In order for us to live in peace with Muslims around the world, their religion must make fundamental changes in its original script. Is that possible? I, personally, don't think so because Islam, as it is currently preached by the Imams, has been since the last century, at least, commanding only three alternatives for infidels: convert, accept dhimmi status or die.

Jesus did away with the Old Testament when he "died" for man's sins. And, no, I am not Christian, I am an aethist. Christianity through the Catholics became corrupted, but the corruption was for money and power. It also had to change in order to be what Jesus originally "died" for. It did and today, except for the faction of fundamentalists, we live in a better society than ever in the history of this planet. Even the fundamentalists don't cry for death, only the threat of Hades.

Can Islam change? Not for the forseeable future. So long as death is the result of standing up and speaking, publishing cartoon, writing books, or producing movies, there is no hope that a large enough mass of moderate Muslims will stand up. To be silent is not moderate. To appear to support jihad against anyone who will not support Islam 100% is not moderate but will allow you to live to another day.

My one hope is that America will hold off the hordes long enough to give Islam time to change or at least for there to be enough moderate Muslims standing up. The only alternative I see to outright war with Islam would be for those Muslims who wish to follow exactly the words of their God to go back to countries that follow that philosophy. That, I hope, will not be Europe and thes rest of the world.

Sue   ·  September 29, 2006 12:44 PM

Eric - I've followed your posts on this subject and found them very thought-provoking. Islam as an ideology is highly toxic to such classical values as liberty, science and pluralism. It destroys these values by the usual religious tactic of placing the words of the prophet(s) beyond rational critique, but gets its virulence from its coercive imposition (slaughter or enslave everyone else; kill all apostates). When understood in this light, the problem of "moderate Muslim" silence can be seen to stem from quite rational fear (of their fundamentalist brethren). Our problem then becomes one of differentiation: just who is in fact a true-believer, and who is of peaceable intent but afraid to admit it? Whoever can do that might be worth supporting.

- Aristomedes

Aristomedes   ·  September 29, 2006 12:51 PM

The question is not whether there are Muslims who we can work with and rely on, everyone on the right has heard of the Kurds.

The question is whether we have the societal ability to so differentiate, when they don't make enough distinction to differentiate on their own - aside from the above example. Idealism doesn't take into account pragmatism. There were Germans and Japanese who also could be worked with, but the necessities of the time didn't allow it.

MlR   ·  September 29, 2006 12:52 PM

"And if we can't do it, how can we possibly expect people living within the Muslim community to do it?"

Because their asses are on the line.

MlR   ·  September 29, 2006 12:55 PM

I've read you a few times, I never heard of Dean Esmay until this controversy and I read Michelle about once a month. I was really disappointed to see you characterize Michelle in this way. I think it is completely unfair to say that she doesn't understand the difference between Islam and Islamism.

I completely agree with the overall point you have made. It's an important point that needs discussion and you have made it well.

My complaint is that to make your point more clearly, you set Michelle up to be someone she is not. I can't speak for Dan - and what I've seen of him speaking for himself is not pretty. But I think you using Michelle as the straw-woman you have set her up to be must be very disappointing to her. From everything I have read of Michelle - your statement of her position was dishonest.

Becky   ·  September 29, 2006 12:56 PM

Better than decent. Gracious, I would say. A very good summing up.

Rachel   ·  September 29, 2006 1:07 PM

Islam needs one of those Reformation thingies.

What I want to know is how the Party of "women's rights, gay rights, anti-death penalty, separation-of-church-and-state, etc" ever morphed into the pro-repression, anti-democracy, terrorism-apologist, anti-Israel, pro-draft, way-too-comfy-with-fascists Party it is today.

If the anti-Bush forces in this country could have focused their rage on the actual enemy that is trying to destroy us, instead of pathetically obsessing on settling a score from the 2000 election, this war might already be over by now.

Bush Derangement Syndrome kills.

Korla Pundit   ·  September 29, 2006 1:17 PM

Bush Derangement Syndrome kills... PUPPIES

tree hugging sister   ·  September 29, 2006 1:40 PM

The problem is not 'radical' Islam, nor 'moderate' Islam. The problem is Islam. It is a religion of hate, anger and violence - or of denial (best case scenario) or dishonesty (worst case).

The simple fact is that Muslims cannot be honest about their religion and their prophet. The Quran is full of hate and violence (yes, it also says some nice things) and the hadiths (Islamic traditions about Mohammed, accepted by 99.9% of Muslims) tell hundreds of stories of murder, plunder, torture, rape, enslavement, lies to win wars and kill, and even wife-beating by Mohammed and his men).

I have tried on 100s of websites (mostly Islamic) to ask Muslims about this. I have given references and posted links to Muslim sites with Muslim texts by Muslim authors and Muslim translators. All I asked was for Muslims to explain these actions and then condemn them then. I never got past the first part. Don't believe me? Google my name!

And what were the results? Nothing. Nada. Niente. Zilch. Never once did a Muslim admit the obvious. Once once did a person actually say the writings were 'problematic'. I was ignored, deleted, censored and called a few choice names.

What does this mean? Well, any Muslim will tell you that they love and respect Mohammed. They will tell you that Muslims consider him a great moral example. They do. Islam's prophet and the Quran indeed say that in Mohammed Muslims have a great example to follow if the want to meet old Allah and get their 72 whatevers.

So - if Mohammed murdered, tortured, lied, robbed, conquered, raped, and enslaved - and he is a great moral example - well you figure it out. Do the math.

That is why there are no moderate Muslims. There are, at best, nice Muslim people who don't want to look into the dark soul of Islam and ask the hard questions. They choose to be ignorant and pretend that Islam is peaceful. This is also why nothing changes and why terror continues, time after time, attack after attack, condemnation after condemnation. My position is very simple: if a person says that a man who was a murderer, torturer, slaver, lier and rapist is a great moral example (and this according to that persons own writings) then that person cannot be trusted and his/her values are certainly not my values, classical values that is.

To make a bad situation worse, Muslims have found that hate and violence gets them respect, and so our PC leaders are sowing the seeds of more hate and violence with their appeasement and double standards. We need to tell Muslims the truth about their prophet and their religion.

If we are not honest, why should we expect Muslims to be honest? Things are going to get worse, much worse. Many innocents are going to get hurt. Blood will flow. Bad times are coming.

Radical Muslims kill, moderates make excusesd and pretend this has nothing to do with Islam.


kactuz   ·  September 29, 2006 3:41 PM

The structure of Islamic law is designed such that it is particularly resistant to efforts to reform it... by making criticism of the tenets or teachings of the religion treasonous (and therefore punishable by death), and ensuring that the "moral" crime coincides with an equivalent legal punishment, the full force of violent orthodoxy is brought to bear against those who would aim to realign the teachings of Islam with modern realities.

By ensuring that the religious tenets trump any other considerations (all else must be subordinate to Shari'a law), we end up with things like the "Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam".

Again, this is not some fringe group of machete-wielding maniacs we're talking about. These are the deliberate, measured and considered responses... the official positions of Muslim communities and governments. The document makes it explicit that any consideration of human rights of any kind can only be accepted to the extent that they do not conflict with Shari'a law.

As the Pentagon analysts point out, these are "rational actors" from the perspective of their moral code... and that code is designed to trump everything, and criticism of it is blasphemous. Blasphemy by a muslim is one of the very large number of criteria for determining apostasy, which is directly analogous to treason in many other cultures.

A couple of good reference sites:


When the "rational" response within a given system is to condemn to death those who would seek to change it, how is a peaceful reformation ever to occur?

Barry Kearns   ·  September 29, 2006 4:04 PM

Author Dan Simmons describes a time-traveler's warning of the coming Century War with Islam and the folly of our internal bickering about our delusional "war on terror":

“Let’s imagine,” said the Time Traveler, “that on December eighth, Nineteen forty-one, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke before a joint session of Congress and asked them to declare war on aviation.”

“That’s absurd,” I said.

“Is it?” asked the Time Traveler. “The American battleships, cruisers, harbor installations, Army barracks, and airfields at Pearl Harbor and elsewhere in Hawaii were all struck by Japanese aircraft. Imagine if the next day Roosevelt had declared war on aviation . . . threatening to wipe it out wherever we found it. Committing all the resources of the United States of America to defeating aviation, so help us God.”

“That’s just stupid,” I said. If I’d ever been afraid of this Time Traveler, I wasn’t now. He was obviously a mental defective.“The planes, the Japanese planes,” I said, “were just a method of attack . . . a means . . . it wasn’t aviation that attacked us at Pearl Harbor, but the Empire of Japan. We declared war on Japan and a few days later its ally, Germany, lived up to its treaty with the Japanese and declared war on us. If we’d declared war on aviation, on goddamned airplanes rather than the empire and ideology that launched them, we’d never have . . .”

I stopped. What had he called it? Category Error. Making the problem unsolvable through your inability – or fear – of defining it correctly.

TRZ   ·  September 29, 2006 5:38 PM


Your arguments are compelling, and well stated. But I fear that we are engaged, and losing, an asymetric battle with Wahabi Islam, and your experience with the madrassa is but an illustration of the strategy that is being used by the Wahabis, and abetted by those who will not look at the hard issues. Our laws, attitudes, and perceptions are being used against us, to fortify and strengthen this force in the U.S.

A madrassa/mosque in Morton Grove, IL, and one in Richardson TX used the courts to overwhelm the neighborhoods, leaving the citizens who had built those communities fearful, confused, and angry. These are two more examples of activities that are method, rather than exception. With Saudi money driving the missionary effort in this country, building these madrassas, moderate Muslims find that they come to a structure that leaves them no safe choice but to be silent. (And how many of our Muslim prison chaplains are NOT Wahabi?)

And when the Muslim population gets large enough, while continuing to eschew assimilation, then Dearborn MI (or these areas around these madrassas) begin to look like the suburbs of Paris. Regional defacto Sharia law will do nicely for a start.
Political correctness and denial merely assist in this phase of the jihad.
And if moderate Muslims will not speak now in this country, what will compel them to speak when the numbers tip? Inertia certainly will not change their behavior.
But perhaps drawing a line in the sand will let us get an idea of what we are up against. By the time the denial has been ripped away, the cancer will have spread in a way impossible to contain. And God have mercy on us all.

skeeter   ·  September 29, 2006 6:52 PM

Lest anyone think that the Abdul Rahman case is just an isolated, fringe incident, check out Isaac Schrodinger's story that he posted earlier this week.

He has fled Pakistan and is seeking asylum in Canada. He provides a comprehensive four-part essay outlining in great detail that the apostasy problem is far from theoretical. It's not fringe-kook Islam that's the problem.

These are mainstream Islamic ideas.

Barry Kearns   ·  September 29, 2006 7:01 PM

Is Hezb'Allah a sunni outfit? Or is it a Shia outfit? If it is Shia then it is not Wahabist...if it is not Wahabist then can we please stop acting like the only people attacking us are the Sunni Wahabists?

Up till 9/11 Shia terrorists had killed more of us.

Pierre Legrand   ·  September 30, 2006 1:28 AM

Thank you for that link to the Dan Simmons site, TRZ. Very thought-provoking story and follow-up essay.

Clyde   ·  September 30, 2006 1:37 AM

I didn't say christian and moslems are equivalent, or scary in the same ways. Our leaders, born again, are anxious to start nuclear wars and torture people.I find that scary. Where I said fundamentalists,others would say fanatics: just meant people who put their credo ahead of normal compassion.
My point was that 300 years ago christians were as bad as today's moslems. They changed. Now, moslems need to change. What made moderate christians stop,for example,using torture?

The(people in the)religion can and have changed, and we need to figure out and recreate the source of that change. I think this requires a mindset that fundies lack, as they tend towards the simplistic: ultimate weapons, destroyable enemies, final solutions--stratagies we see backfiring lately. Less polarized thinking could harness the sources of change and create effective strategy, as we see in Philadelphia, although by the other side.

lyssa daniels   ·  September 30, 2006 2:20 AM

"Our leaders, born again, are anxious to start nuclear wars and torture people."

What are you talking about, Lyssa? Do you REALLY believe that? I read it and I just shook my head, because you have no conception of how our leaders really operate. If anything, they have fought the War on Islamist Terror too surgically and too humanely, and have failed to achieve the most important goal of any war: To force your enemies to change their behavior.

Christianity changed because of the Protestant Reformation, which caused a couple of centuries of religious wars in Europe and ultimately a less virulent form of the religion. Some would say that there is already a religious civil war going on within Islam between the Sunnis and Shiites. Unfortunately, it's unlike to lead to a Reformation, since the Koran and the other Muslim religious writings are considered to be divinely inspired and not subject to change. Anyone trying to reform Islam would only be sealing his own death warrant.

Clyde   ·  September 30, 2006 8:24 AM

>"Our leaders, born again, are anxious to start nuclear wars and torture people."
>>What are you talking about, Lyssa? Do you REALLY believe that?
>Well, yeah. Bush always says he’s born-again; Torture, they just got Congress to approve it; Stated policy is to use tactical nukes preemptively, which for me would qualify as starting a nuclear war. This is all public record, so I’m genuinely baffled by your response, which I’d really like to understand.
We seem to agree on one thing maybe, that our leaders have botched things up, in a *war* on Islamic terrorists, and a *conflict* with all of islam.
I grew up in Catholic schools, before Vatican II, and the nuns were quite firm that the church was, like Islam, ‘divinely inspired and not subject to change’. But it did. If, as you say Islam cannot reform, we’d have to kill over a hundred million people, which I don’t think is possible; so you seem to leave us with no hope at all. ?

lyssa daniels   ·  September 30, 2006 5:35 PM

Jonathan: Hence the term "GENERALLY" reasonable man. But your seem to read him a lot more than I do, so you may well know him better than I. The question, then, is WHY you spend so much time reading someone you find so abhorrent, and why you feel such a pervasive need to find a forum where you can tear him down.

Mr. Snitch   ·  September 30, 2006 11:26 PM

"As an atheist, Moslems want me dead for being an infidel, Christians want me dead for being a heathen."

I'd like to meet the Christians who want you dead for "being a heathen". If anything, they'd want you alive to convert you.

I have no respect for people who twist facts so blithely and egregiously to support their POV (if that's what it accomplishes, which I doubt). No Christian (no matter HOW "fundamental") ever threatened you with death for being an aetheist, AND YOU KNOW IT.

Mr. Snitch   ·  September 30, 2006 11:34 PM


Christians want me dead for being a heathen.

In general, you need better dreams. I have no doubt that you can find,
somewhere, some whacked-out "Christians" who want you dead, instead of
wanting to convince you by their words and actions that Christianity
has something to recommend itself. However, their numbers are far
smaller than the numbers of burglars or rapists who want you dead, so I
wouldn't worry overly much about it.

Kirk Parker   ·  October 1, 2006 10:12 AM

I dropped this comment at Cold Fury, in Al's post on this fight:

"Another point that needs to be made is that Islam is not a unified whole - only cults have that kind of lock-step approach going. There are various denominations or branches of Islam with different views and emphases, just like Christianity has different denominations with different views.

The leaders want power, temporal power, power in this world yesterday, and they are using the vehicle of the religion to achieve it. The masses of the Islamonazis, well their reasons are varied as they can be - bigotry, power, glory, zealotry, revenge, etc., etc.

Most Muslims are probably not aligned with the Islamonazi movement but don’t say anything because of fear. These bastards cut off heads and blow up children; they have a right to fear them. They live next door. They would probably come out and resist the Islamonazis if they thought that the West was going to stand up, stand fast, and win. Unfortunately the West has rolled over time and again, appeasing the Islamonazis, and thus swelling their ranks with all of the bummers and jackels that wouldn’t actually fight the lion, but have no problem with taking a bite out of his dead carcass. And those Muslims who would resist, they stay quiet. “If the West won’t defend itself, why would it defend me?”

At some point the West has to confront “Islamic Rage Boy” and drop him and keep on dropping him. The ranks of the jihadis will get awful thin and awful quiet after a few years of that.

Unfortunately all of the limp-spine acts have ensured that it is going to take years and lots of dead to convince the Islamonazis about who is the strong horse and who is the weak horse."

Therein lies the problem that you noted with the zoning board. It's the "broken window" theory of crime, taken into another arena. If you won't defend yourself, please expect the jackels to visit soon.

Mikey NTH   ·  October 1, 2006 10:44 AM

Mr. Snitch:
I know what has happened in my life. You don’t. You don’t have the slightest basis for assuming anything about me, or about any death threats, so your respect is irrelevant.

Whacked-out Christians aren’t so scarce as you all seem to think. Both religions have much to recommend them but also have fanatics, and acknowledging their existence is a first step in isolating them. Diverting the discussion into personal attacks is not productive.

Lyssa   ·  October 2, 2006 12:24 AM

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