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 Has Islamic History Been Whitewashed?

Were Medieval Muslims Really Tolerant?  Is Islam Really Intrinsically a More Peaceful Religion than Christianity? 

What Islamic Teachings Could Promote Terrorism?  Can One Civilization Be Objectively Superior to Another?  Is the Quran the Word of God?

Would the Same Arguments that Excuse Islamic Imperialism and Human Rights Violations Also Excuse Medieval Catholicism and Western Imperialism?


By Eric V. Snow








































































































































            Is Islam is a religion of peace?  That’s the standard, politically correct party line.  But does Islamic history really bear this out?  Do Muslims condemn (successful) acts of imperialism in their own history as much as liberal western intellectuals condemn European and American imperialism in recent centuries?  Or is Western imperialism singularly morally condemned because it acted last (and most successfully)?  Why does the American liberal and cultural elite apparently fear the American Religious Christian Right working through normal democratic processes politically more than militant Islam’s terrorism, even after 9-11?  Why should medieval Catholic Crusaders or Western Imperialists be more condemned than the Arab and Turkish Muslims who invaded and took over vast areas via jihads?  Indeed, why are jihads good, but crusades evil?  Aren’t all holy wars really equally unholy?  Are Muslims historically merely the passive victims of Western and Christian imperialism?  Or were they aggressors in the past, and later paid the price for their aggression when the nations they conquered or attacked retaliated? This essay makes the case that many intellectuals and historians have whitewashed Islam’s history while blackening the Christian West’s by comparison when the same moral standards are applied to both civilizations.







            Undeniably, medieval Catholicism showed itself extremely intolerant of other religions, as its general treatment of the Jews and wars against Muslims show.  According to the normal historical claim, Medieval Islam was much more tolerant.  It did have a system of toleration in place for Christians and Jews (although not officially for pagans so much, which would include Hindus).  But this system of toleration simply can't be confused with the systematic religious toleration that came of age in Western culture during the Enlightenment and afterwards, such as epitomized in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.  

            It’s very unlikely that the Islamic world would have devised this political theory on its own because in orthodox Islam the religious establishment (i.e., "church" in the West) isn't separate in authority from the state, even as a matter of theory.  When Jesus told his questioners to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and the things that are of God to God (see Mark 12:17), a difference in authority is being noted, even as (true) Paul saw the powers that be as having authority derived from God (Romans 13).  It's much easier to separate the church from the state in Christendom, even in Catholic countries, than to separate the Muslim religious establishment from governmental authority in Muslim countries.  For example, consider the pressure to adopt the Sharia on Muslim countries that are or were officially secular, such as Egypt.  The great exception, Turkey, was a result of Mustapha Kemal's persecution campaign against Muslim practices, and was just an imported version of preexisting Western practices and political theory.  For example, even today, a Muslim woman in Turkey can’t wear a headscarf to a public/tax-supported university.

            Now, let's consider some more description of how Islam dealt with the non-Muslim people it conquered, as per Ibn Warraq's Why I am not a Muslim.  Of course, the author is plainly some kind of atheist or agnostic, and disbelieves in Christianity at least as strongly as Islam.  But he's unearthed and organized a number of highly specific facts with which to indict Islam historically, so his work in this context is still valuable.


            Many in the West have been sold a bill of goods that significantly distorts the past by (moderate?) Muslims and sympathetic Westerners.  Although Islam might have been more tolerant than Medieval Catholicism, the difference is much smaller than generally believed.  What does Middle Eastern history actually tell us?

            Warraq (p. 182) here quotes from and lean on Joseph Schacht's An Introduction to Islamic Law:  "Under a treaty of surrender, the non-Muslim is given protection and called a dhimmi.  'This treaty necessarily provides for the surrender of the non-Muslims with all duties deriving from it, in particular the payment of tribute, i.e. the fixed poll-tax (jizya) and the land tax (kharaj) . . . The non-Muslims must wear distinctive clothing [Yellow Stars of David, anyone?--EVS] and must mark their houses, which must not be built higher than those of the Muslims, by distinctive signs; they must not ride horses or bear arms, and they must yield the way to Muslims; they must not scandalize the Muslims by openly performing their worship or their distinctive customs, such as drinking wine; they must not build new churches, synagogues, and hermitages; they must pay the poll-tax under humiliating conditions.  It goes without saying that they are excluded from the specifically Muslim privileges.'  The dhimmi cannot be a witness against a Muslim [compare slaves in the American South before the Civil War, who weren’t allowed to testify against whites in court—EVS], he cannot be the guardian of his child who is a Muslim."

            Warraq describes various scholars who portrayed the condition of the dhimmis too positively in light of the research of Bat Ye'or's work called (in English, 1985), “The Dhimmi, Jews and Christians under Islam.”  Jacques Ellul, after reviewing Ye'or in print, received a letter from a colleague who cited respected authorities on Islamic history that didn't portray the plight of the Dhimmis so negatively.  But, as Ellul notes, "His criticism, however, betrayed the fact that he had not read the book"  Ye'or's works document , as Warraq summarizes, an aspect of Islamic history that has received much less attention than (say) comparable Catholic atrocities.  According to Warraq (p. 225):  "The works of Bat Ye'or show with ample documentation the massacres of the early conquests; the subsequent humiliations of the dhimmis; the oppressive fiscal system; the looting and pillaging of homes, churches, and synagogues; and the whole punctuated with forced conversions, which made the lives of the non-Muslims such an ordeal."

            Warraq (p. 226) cites Norman Stillman's book  (1979) The Jews of Arab Lands:  A History and Source Book.   Stillman notes that the "jizya and kharaj [special discriminatory taxes] were a crushing burden for the non-Muslim peasantry who eked out a bare living in a subsistence economy."  The tolerance the dhimmis received was always precarious and could be withdrawn or restricted on whim, such as when local religious passions were aroused or civil wars or famines occurred.


            The generalization that Muslim societies during the Medieval era and afterwards were "tolerant" is simply false since second class citizenship obviously isn't "tolerant.”  Was Jim Crow “tolerant” of blacks since the segregated South (normally) engage in ethnic cleansing?  For example, Karen Armstrong, the author of "Islam:  A Short History," whitewashes Islam’s historical records when she commented in the “Manchester Guardian” back in 2002:  "Remember that until 1492, Jews and Christians lived peaceably and productively together in Muslim Spain--a coexistence that was impossible elsewhere in Europe."  Bat Ye'or's work, such as , “The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude,” “Islam and Dhimmitude. Where Civilizations Collide,” and “The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians under Islam,” show the folly in such reasoning.  What Bat Ye'or has unearthed on the issue clashes with the standard liberal scholarly paradigm on this subject, which Karen Armstrong (among many, many others) upholds.  Islam's treatment of religious minorities perhaps was generally better than Catholicism, but that point would have to be carefully studied now.  Consider using this reasonable, objective approach to researching this controversy:  Read two scholarly historical surveys (from opposite perspectives) about anti-Semitism in the Medieval and early modern periods in Europe.  Then compare those generalizations with what Bat Yeor documents in these three books.  The crude but objective measure of counting bodies should be done when weighing which political or religious system is more or less tolerant historically.

Now, nobody would claim Apartheid was "tolerant" because it didn't (normally) kill blacks en masse.  Likewise, the Muslims’ legally discriminatory treatment, punctuated with occasional acts of violence and forced conversions, against the dhimmi wouldn’t be any more “tolerant.”   Likewise, what the Palestinians have endured in the semi/formerly occupied territories from the Israelis would count as dhimmitude at times.  Irshad Manji's "The Trouble with Islam Today" (such as on pp. 108-110) makes a number of points that shows how much more open to self-criticism Israeli society is than the surrounding Arab society and how such terms as "apartheid" simply aren't accurate when a point-by-point comparison is made.  Furthermore, the conservatives in Islam have never repudiated formally and publicly the theology promoting dhimmitude and jihad, unlike the South’s past political establishment’s formal and public repudiation of the ideology of racism.


            Bat Ye'or and even Stillman list forced conversions of Jews, during which they were offered either death or conversion to Islam, as occurred in Yemen in 1165 and 1678 and Aden in 1198.  Several occurred under the Almohad caliphs al-Mumin (d. 1165), Abu Yaqub (d. 1184), and al-Mansur (d. 1199).  The Jews of Tabriz was obliged to convert in 1291 and 1318, and those of Baghdad in 1333 and 1344.  In Persia, "forced conversions from the sixteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century decimated the Christian and, even more, the Jewish communities" (Warraq, p. 227).  The Safavid dynasty of Persia also was very intolerant of non-Shia Muslims.  They had great success in forcibly converting others to Shiism.  So then, when does using force against people's minds to convert them actually work?  Why did it succeed here, but not in other cultures or nations?  Perhaps the reason why Islam could successfully force Christians and Jews to convert was by deliberately slowly wearing down their communities over the decades and centuries through the steady, strong political and social pressure.  Instead of massacring the “People of the Book” wholesale immediately after they surrendered, Muslim rulers and their officials merely engaged in systematic discrimination that didn’t cause potentially dangerous immediate revolts when the local Muslims would have been still heavily outnumbered.  But as the centuries passed by, and more and more people pragmatically changed religions to escape the systematic discrimination of dhimmitude, it became easier to simply force the small minority of non-Muslims remaining to convert.

            Other persecutions against the Jews occurred, such as the 6000 Jews massacred in Fez (Morocco) in 1033.  Hundreds of Jews were killed from 1010 to 1013 near Cordoba and other parts of Muslim Spain.  The entire Jewish community of around 4,000 in Granada was slaughtered during the Muslim riots of 1066.  Robert Wistrich calls this last massacre "a disaster, as serious as that which overtook the Rhineland Jews thirty years later during the First Crusade, yet it has rarely received much scholarly attention."  The Jews in Kairouan, Tunisia were persecuted and forced to leave in 1016; they returned just to be thrown out again. In Tunis in 1145, they were forced to convert or leave.  In the following decade more fierce attacks on them took place.  A similar set of events erupted in Marrakesh in 1232, when yet another massacre of Jews occurred.  As cited by Warraq, p. 228, Wistrich summarizes:  "Indeed, in the Islamic world from Spain to the Arabian peninsula the looting and killing of Jews, along with punitive taxation, confinement to ghettos, the enforced wearing of distinguishing marks on clothes (an innovation in which Islam preceded medieval Christendom), and other humiliations were rife."


            Only dhimmis had to pay the land tax called the kharaj and the poll-tax called the jizya, not Muslims.  By applying this economic pressure, such taxes helped to slowly wear down resistance to conversion to Islam among the dhimmi.  But merely paying this (often) very burdensome tax wasn’t the only problem with it.  Muslims (as described by one Muslim authority's interpretation) could impose on dhimmis an insulting, humiliating rite when they paid this latter tax, which was based on the Koran (sura 9:29).  This verse reads (Maulana Ali’s translation):  “Fight those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, nor follow the Religion of Truth, out of those who have been given the Book [Christians and Jews], until they pay the tax in acknowledgement of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.”  The Muslim commentator al-Zamakhshari (1075-1144) interpreted this passage to mean "the jizya shall be taken from them with belittlement and humiliation.  [The dhimmi] shall come in person, walking not riding.  When he pays, he shall stand, while the tax collector sits.  The collector shall seize him by the scruff of the neck, shake him, and say:  'Pay the jizya!' and when he pays it he shall be slapped on the nape of his neck" (as cited in Warraq, p. 228-29).  Because of this Quranic passage and interpretations like al-Zamakhshari’s, conservative Muslims have to deem second-class citizenship for Christians and Jews under Muslim rule to be a revelation from God.  And obviously, it’s hard for traditional Islam to “modernize” up to Western Enlightenment standards what’s considered to be God’s revealed will.

            An important primary source describing the restrictions on the dhimmis is "The Pact of Umar" (Caliph, ruled 717-20) reprinted in Warraq's book (p. 230), which summarizes them.  Plainly dhimmis weren't equal under the law.  If one was appointed to high office despite officially they shouldn’t be, it often generated great public outcry and complaints, such as in Granada in 1066, Fez in 1275 and 1465, Iraq in 1291, and Egypt often between 1250 and 1517.  Many converted to Islam to keep their high government jobs.  One Middle Eastern history class source book describes the Granada case in a primary source translated into English, which describes a Jewish vizier’s identity in helping cause a general massacre of Jews in 1066.  (
See Bernard Lewis, editor and translator, “Islam from the Prophet Muhammad to the Capture of Constantinople” (New York:  Oxford University Press, 1987), Vol. 1:  Politics and War, pp. 123-134.

            In court cases, the testimony of a dhimmi was not recognized against a Muslim.  Likewise, in the American South before the Civil War, slaves could not testify against whites.  The Muslim could get off scot-free in all such court cases.  The dhimmi was often forced to pay bribes to escape adverse unjust judgments.  A Muslim could never be executed for any crime against a dhimmi.  If a dhimmi was accused of blasphemy against Islam, which was common and also a capital offense, he would have to convert to save his life since his testimony wasn't acceptable otherwise!  The accidental killing of a Muslim could condemn the whole local non-Muslim community to exile or death.  A dhimmi couldn't marry a Muslim wife, but a Muslim man could marry a Christian or Jewish woman.  Could any fair-minded liberals today possibly approvingly label this system as “tolerant” when they would condemn in the harshest possible terms similar or identical acts of discrimination done by whites against blacks in America and South Africa?            



            It’s absurd to claim the Palestinians, Chechens, Kosovar Albanians, etc., have legitimate grievances but the traditional Christian minorities suffering under Ottoman rule didn't.  This conclusion requires a whitewashing and discounting dhimmitude’s actual conditions, which can be readily compared to the second-class citizen status of blacks under Jim Crow and Apartheid.   A dhimmi under Muslim rule was a second-class citizen who endured numerous personal indignities and discriminatory acts. Robert Spencer comments about how often histories of Muslim conquest overlook this problem, including even “The Cambridge History of Islam”:  "Numerous histories and descriptions of the Muslim conquests suffer from the same amnesia.  Many of these have a scholarly patina."  Bat Ye'or's works have to be read to get "the rest of the story" in order to overcome the myth about how tolerant Islam was.  Since conservative Muslims have never repudiated the old Sharia dhimmi regulations, they remain on the books so they can be revived and imposed whenever necessary.  Showing that they haven’t been forgotten, in many Muslim countries today various acts of discrimination against Christians are identical to or stem from what the Sharia commands.  By contrast, the modern West has moved on from its Medieval roots.  Over the centuries, such as shown by Britain’s Toleration Act of 1689 (which granted its formal protections only to Protestant Dissenters), the West slowly developed a systematic political philosophy that grants formal tolerance and political rights to religious minorities.  But the legal premise for dhimmitude comes from the conditional suspension of jihad after Muslims militarily conquered these Christians and Jews so long as the dhimmis agreed to accept second class status under Muslim political rule.  This isn't exactly Enlightenment, Voltairian, Jeffersonian political thinking on the subject of equality under the law and religious toleration.  Furthermore, this condition of semi-tolerance was often very precarious, as shown below.

Muslims committed many atrocities and other acts of oppression against traditional Christians.  For example, as part of the north African slave trade, the Barbary pirates and others took about a million European Christians into slavery.  These people often were very harshly treated and heavily pressured to convert.   The Turkish practice of levying a "devshirme" was another act of Muslim oppression against Christians.  This periodic taking of 1/5th of Christian children into slavery started with the Ottoman Sultan Orkhan (1326-1359).  Estimates of how many were taken vary sharply, from 12,000/year to 8,000/year down to 1,000/year.  And consider what triggered the Congress of Berlin (after the Turkish atrocities which provoked Russian intervention in the Balkans) in 1878?  What happened to the Armenians during World War I and afterwards (1915-1923)?  The Armenian genocide served as a model for Hitler’s treatment of the Jews, which killed perhaps 1.5 million out of 2 million displaced by forced marches and other means.  Hitler knew the world had a short memory about this genocide:  "Kill without mercy.  Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians."  Ironically, just as the Catholic Christians were growing more tolerant from (say) 1750 on, the Muslims were falling off the wagon, and getting much worse.

            The improvement in conditions for the Christians under Ottoman rule in the nineteenth century only happened because of outside pressure, as Ye'or points out:  "In the 1830's, forced by the European powers, the Ottomans adopted a series of reformed aiming and ending the oppression of the Christians.”  The Bosnian Muslims, at the time, were the strongest opponents of these reforms.  "They fought against the Christian right to possess lands and, in legal matters, to have equal rights as themselves."  Later, the Czar’s stated desire to protect the rights of the Orthodox Christian subjects of the Sultan was a major cause for the Crimean War (1853-56) as well.  (See Karsh, “Islamic Imperialism,” pp. 100-101).   The British Consul J.E. Blunt in 1860 commented that conditions for Christians were improving in Macedonia:  "Christian churches and monasteries, towns and inhabitants, are not now pillaged, massacred, and burnt by Albanian hordes as used to be done ten years ago."  Various Islamic laws designed to oppress non-Muslim minorities weren't as strongly enforced as they used to be:  "Ten years ago . . . Christian churches were not allowed to be built; and one can judge of the measure of the Turkish toleration practiced at that time by having to creep under doors scarcely four feet high.  It was an offense to smoke and ride before a Turk; to cross his path, or not stand up before him, was equally wrong."  Similarly, Christian testimony wasn't admissible in the Ottomans’ Islamic courts.  This allowed, for example, one Muslim who murdered another Muslim to get off scot free, since only two Christians witnessed it, and they couldn't testify.  In Bosnia in 1861, the consul William R. Holmes commented that the Porte (i.e., the central Ottoman government) didn’t allow the Orthodox Greeks to build churches in Bosnia despite they had the money to do so.  Acting consult James Zohrab in Bosnia in 1860 explained what eventually led to anti-Muslim blow back by the local Christians:  "The hatred of the Christians toward the Bosniak Mussulmans is intense.  During a period of nearly three hundred years they were subjected to much oppression and cruelty.  For them no other law but the caprice of their masters existed."  (as in Robert Spencer, “Onward Muslim Soldiers:  How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West,” pp. 100-101).  These hard feelings surely contributed to the genocidal actions that Bosnian Serbs committed against their Muslim countrymen during the recent 1992-95 war in the Balkans.

The British ruled the Christian Palestinians for a generation before Israel declared independence in 1948.  In one way, during that time, they wouldn't have been "dhimmis" since the Ottoman Turks were no longer in charge, but that would depend on how much the Western powers overturned the provisions of the Sharia that put the local Christians and Jews into an inferior, second class citizenship.  Now if one empire replaces another, isn’t that moral equivalency?  Why be harsher emotionally, or spend a lot more time and writing space on denouncing the last conqueror (i.e., the British) compared to the previous one (i.e., the Turks)?  The real point of comparison would be to see how the Turks or other resident Arab Muslims dealt with the Christian residents of the area of Palestine and Syria before Allenby's successful invasion in 1917 during World War I.




            Robert Spencer in Onward Muslim Soldiers (pp. 195-196) notes how dhimmitude still operates, and why the myth of traditional Muslim "tolerance" is costly:  "Whatever its causes, the myth of Islamic tolerance has potentially lethal consequences insofar as it diverts attention from the ongoing reality of dhimmitude.  Just as jihads are still being waged around the globe today, so also are Christians and Jews discriminated against and treated as second class in many areas of the Islamic world--often in ways that are eerily reminiscent of the chronicles in Muslim Spain and elsewhere.  And in accordance with dhimmi laws that mandated that they must bear insults in silence, they have often been reluctant to speak out--whether from fear or some other motive.  One Lebanese Christian who also lived in Syria for many years said that in those countries and throughout the Middle East today, 'we [Christians] have become citizens of second rank, almost foreigners in our homeland.  We have the clear feeling that we are reluctantly tolerated.  Christians in the Near East live in a permanent atmosphere of anxiety.  The future seems not only uncertain, but bleak.  Listen to the fiery khutba [sermons] delivered in the mosques of most Middle Eastern countries and North Africa on Fridays.  Without the Western powers, not only the Jews but also the Christians would be driven into the sea.'  He declined to be identified by name in this book for fear of reprisals against his family in the Middle East."  That’s indeed "the rest of the story.”



            It’s amusing for someone to claim that the Muslims and Christians in Cyprus got along just fine before the British hired Turks to help suppress the Greek Cypriots who wanted independence in the mid-twentieth century.  Jean-Baptist Tavernier, a seventeenth-century European traveler, said in Cyprus in 1651 that “over four hundred Christians had become Muhammadans because they could not pay their kharaj [a land tax that was also levied on non-Muslims, sometimes synonymous with the jizya], which is the tribute that the Grand Seigneur levies on Christians in his states.”  (Bat Ye’or, “The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam,” p. 78, as quoted in Spencer, “Politically Incorrect Guide,” p. 55)   Although Spencer in “Onward Muslim Soldiers” (pp. 140-141) is discussing the general subject of dhimmitude, he uses the case of Cyprus to help illustrate the second-class status Christians had under Muslim rule:  "It should be obvious to any impartial observer how far this is from modern-day Western ideas of tolerance.  . . . . A traveler to Famagusta in North Cyprus in 1651, when the law regarding dhimmitude were still very much in effect in the Ottoman Empire, 'recounts that all the churches there had been converted into mosques and that Christians did not have the right to spend the night there.'  [By contrast, Christians had to promise Caliph Umar centuries earlier to let Muslims spend three nights at their churches].  The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Famagusta was overrun by Turkish troops in 1974.  The Greek population was forced to evacuate and the city was sealed off; no one was allowed to enter.  Now the city's many churches are marketed to international tourists as 'icon museums," while the mosques (many of them converted churches) are still in active use.  Tourists to the former St. Nicholas Cathedral, now the Lal Mustafa Pasha Mosque, are advised by one tour guide that 'the interior is of course a Muslim prayer hall, the floor being covered with carpets, and all visitors must go around with the Imam.'"  Being dhimmis, the Cypriots would have been generally humiliated and discriminated against like any other Jews or Christians under Muslim rule, on a par with blacks under Jim Crow.  So if someone wants to discuss various cases of “Christian” intolerance, he should also count up all the Muslim cases of the same sins from prior centuries as well.  Once such an analysis reveals the basic moral equivalency between the two faiths concerning a lack of tolerance, both sides should restrain and tame the impulse to judge and condemn the other over this issue.

            In today’s world, we harshly condemn second-class citizenship, such as the Palestinians suffer under Israeli rule in the (formerly/semi-) occupied territories or which the blacks suffered in South Africa or under Jim Crow in the American South. So then, why do liberal academics so admire such Islamic "tolerance" as found in their relationship with the dhimmis?  Perhaps on average Muslims treated Christians and Jews better than Catholics treated Jews and Muslims during the high Middle Ages.  (The Catholics did better on average with the Jews earlier in the Medieval period).  But since liberal academics and Muslims have sold educated Westerners a bill of goods on this issue, i.e., an exaggerated view of Muslim tolerance, even for the pre-1700, pre-Enlightenment period, it’s time to correct our general perceptions.



            As proof that contemporary Islamic intolerance is rooted in its intolerant past, consider the case of a Christian threatened with death in Afghanistan.  It’s wrong for Akers to condemn Afghanistan's persecuting a Christian by threatening him with death, and blames that somehow on Bush (as if they wouldn't do similar things or worse if the Taliban had stayed in power).  Then she cites Bush’s comment about girls going to school for the first time after the Taliban's removal, and call that being a busybody.  Perhaps no governmental leaders should have said anything about Rahman, including Australia's prime minister . . . and let him get executed instead!  (Maybe the Good Samaritan might count as a busybody also then!)  If the busybodies really do improve things some, we should be willing to admit it, like improving Afghanistan's human rights record from a F- to a D+ or C-.  No one make it a goal to raise up Afghanistan’s human rights record to Swedish levels.  On this side of the millennium, why be so absurdly utopian?  Whether they should have used force, of course, is another matter.  Bush's improvements have required force to implement, unlike simple acts of charity, but then government is force, or should have a monopoly on it.  Where's all this Muslim "tolerance," by the way?           



            Would these “talking head” Muslim professors have any freedom to speak in (say) Egypt, Syria, Iran, and/or Saudi Arabia?  They have more tolerance here in the West, ironically enough.  Would radical Islamists question the state of their faith if they said similarly questioning things about their own societies’ problems?  The Islamic world needs a lot more self-criticism, while the West could use a lot less.  Paul Harvey once mentioned one moderate Muslim political leader in Indonesia who, despite being the leader of 30 million Muslims, still felt he was being intimidated by the conservatives.  So then, Where are all these moderate Muslims anyway?  Do they only live in Western countries where they have freedom of speech, and don't feel so intimidated by the radicals?  We need some Muslims of prominence who will serve the same function for Islam that George Orwell, Sidney Hook, Walter Reuther, etc., served concerning the Left in the West:  People who are still liberal and/or socialists, but are willing to publicly and clearly denounce the excesses of the extremists of their side of the political fence (in their case, the Communists) and/or to struggle to keep them from taking power (such as Reuther did when he worked to throw Communists out of the CIO).  As it has been observed:  Islamic writer Salman Rushdie wrote of these silent Muslims in a New York Times article three years ago.  ‘As their ancient, deeply civilized culture of love, art and philosophical reflection is hijacked by paranoiacs, racists, liars, male supremacists, tyrants, fanatics and violence junkies, why are they not screaming?’"


            Likely a lot more Muslims protested the cartoons of Muhammad wearing a turban looking like a bomb published in European newspapers recently (i.e., a case in which no Muslims or others died) than the Jordanian bombings by Al-Qaeda that killed their fellow Muslims.  Furthermore, when minor Western transgressions provoke Muslim riots, these are far worse than any Christian mistreatment of Muslims after terrorist plots are broken up, as Robert Spencer acutely observes:


That was it, as far as backlash went. The contrast is stark: when cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad appeared in a Danish newspaper, there were international riots, in which several innocent people were killed; when Pope Benedict XVI repeated a medieval emperor’s negative characterization of Muhammad, there were again riots and killings. When a mentally impaired Christian in Nigeria tore a copy of the Qur’an, rampaging Muslims burned ten churches to the ground. But when six Muslims in America were arrested for plotting to kill as many American soldiers as possible, there have been no killings. No mob action. No riots. No mosques have been torched, and no Muslims have been beaten or (with the possible lone exception of Muslim Tatar) harassed.{81934F11-CD7A-4EFB-B05A-8E5CCED15B88}

The protests in Jordan directed against Al-Qaeda's bombing of western hotels didn't concern atrocities committed against another civilization, but when Muslims suffered radical Islamic terrorism themselves.  There's plenty of selective outrage to go around.  But it was the United States that (reluctantly but in the end, militarily cheaply) shut down the Serbs in Kosovo and Bosnia when many Americans deemed interventionism there as dubious.  Could anyone cite a major or even minor case of a Muslim nation intervening distinterestedly to bail out some Christians or Jews being mistreated by other Muslim nations?  Now, does Syria’s intervention during Lebanon’s civil war in the 1970’s count?  But does anybody seriously think Syria was primarily interested in helping out the Maronites when they intervened?  Didn’t the Syrians send in their army into Lebanon in order to grab another piece of real estate, thus make way for a "Greater Syria"?  Assad's regime, which (for example) killed on the order of 10,000-25,000 rebels in Hama, didn’t exactly have a humanitarian record.  By contrast, what was the obvious strategic need for America under Bill Clinton to stop the Serbs from pounding the Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo?  Does anyone think American troops entered the Balkans in order to annex parts of what was Yugoslavia as the 51st state?  Sure, perhaps the goal ultimately was to keep the Turks and Greeks from going to war with each other, but that hardly directly helps America’s self-interests directly either.  Furthermore, after Syria sent in their army, the Maronites ceased to have the most power in Lebanon.  Admittedly, the constitution the French left in place had favored them moderately in a carefully balanced power sharing arrangement among different religious factions.  However, it hadn't been adjusted for the changing demographic realities that turned Muslims into a majority in Lebanon.  But in the case of the Balkans, America’s political goal was to impose peace while giving all citizens equal rights under their governments, not to annex territory. 






            The Islamic tradition on Jihad goes back long before and much more extensively than what Ibn Taymiya (1268-1328) taught.  Daniel Pipes' documentation of this matter should be decisive in showing this rebuttal is a whitewash or selective reading of history.  The Quran itself, the Hadith, Muhammad's own life lived as a general, Muslim actions by the Arabs in the first century after Muhammad's death and the initial invasions by the Turks in the Balkans all show otherwise.  There was lots of jihad, even lots of blowback crusades, in the world long before Taymiya walked the earth!  Robert Spencer explained ( how entrenched the teaching of jihad is in mainstream Islamic sources, in response to Karen Armstrong’s review of his book “The Truth About Muhammad”:  “In fact, as I outline in the book (pages 76-78), Muhammad's earliest biographer, Ibn Ishaq, traces three stages of development in the Qur'anic doctrine of warfare, culminating in offensive warfare to establish the hegemony of Islamic law by force of arms. That has been understood throughout history by mainstream Islamic teachers (Ibn Kathir, Ibn Juzayy, As-Suyuti, Ibn Qayyim) as the Qur'an's last word on jihad.”  Further documentation heavy duty documentation about “jihad” in Muslim sources can be found in Andrew Bostom’s “The Legacy of Jihad.”

            In the Hadiths, which form part of the foundation for the Sharia law’s prescriptions, Muhammad repeatedly is reported as recommending the cause of violent jihad.  When asked about what the “best deed” someone could do besides the decision to become a Muslim, Muhammad replied:  “To participate in Jihad (holy fighting) in Allah’s cause.”  He also claimed “a journey undertaken for jihad in the evening or morning merits a reward better than the world and all that is in it.”  He even warned Muslims who avoided participating in jihad would suffer God’s wrath:  “Muhammad was firm about the necessity of jihad not only for himself personally, but for every Muslim.  He warned believers that ‘he who does not join the warlike expedition (jihad), or equip, or looks well after a warrior’s family when he is away, will be smitten by Allah with a sudden calamity.”  He also those participating in jihad would enjoy a much higher reward in paradise:  “There is another act which elevates the position of a man in Paradise to a grade one hundred (higher), and the elevation between one grade and the other is equal to the height of the heaven from the earth.  He (Abu Sa’id ) said:  What is that act?  He [Muhammad] replied:  Jihad in the way of Allah!  Jihad in the way of Allah!”  Another man once asked Muhammad:  “Instruct me as to such a deed as equals Jihad (in reward).”  Islam’s greatest prophet responded:  “I do not find such a deed.”  (As cited by Robert Spencer, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), pp. 32-33).  Any idealistic young Muslim man with violent tendencies and poor material prospects for this life that literally believes such statements and others like them could be inspired to strike against any set of infidels should no qualifiers appear in their context.

            In one particularly important hadith that later Muslims repeatedly referred to when discussing the theory of how to wage jihad, Muhammad is reported as offering three choices to unbelievers before attacking them.

It has been reported from Sulaiman b. Buraid through his father that when the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) appointed anyone as leader of any army or detachment he would especially exhort him to fear Allah and to be good to the Muslims who were with him.  He would say:  Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah.  Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah.  Make a holy war. . . . When you meet your enemies who are polytheists [Muslims call traditional Christians “polytheists” because they believe in the Deity of Christ and the Trinity—EVS] , invite them to three courses of action.  If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm.  Invite them to accept Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting them. . . . . If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya [the special head tax Christian and Jewish dhimmis had to pay Muslim governments—EVS].  If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands.  If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them.  (Sahih Muslim, book 19, no. 4294, as cited by Spencer, “Politically Incorrect Guide,” pp. 35-36).

Notice that this passage not only assumes Muslims would engage in violent jihad, it plainly authorizes aggressive warfare as well.  “Jihad” isn’t mainly about the struggle to control immoral desires nor is it only about Muslims defending themselves from attacks by infidels and pagans.  Merely being “the Other” (i.e., non-Muslim) is theoretically enough to trigger jihad from Muslims when they believe their military strength exceeds their opponents’.  According to another hadith appears several times in the most reliable collection, there’s no built-in limitations on when Muslims may wage jihad against unsubmissive unbelievers:  “The Prophet [Muhammad] spoke clearly about his own responsibility to wage war for the religion he had founded:  ‘I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and perform As-Salat ([daily] prayers) and give Zakat [charitable gifts, like tithes], so if they perform all that, then they save their lives and properties from me except for Islamic laws, and their reckoning (accounts) will be with (done by) Allah.’”  (Bukhari, vol. 1, book 2, no. 25; see also Bukhari, vol. 1, book 8, no. 392; vol. 4, book 56, no. 2946; vol. 9, book 88, no. 6924; vol. 9, book 96, nos. 7284-7285; as in Spencer, “Politically Incorrect Guide,” p. 37).  Hence, much like Communism and Nazism, Islam is ideologically an intrinsically aggressive ideology that believes itself authorized to spread its belief system (including the Sharia) over the whole human race by military force when missionary efforts fail; “peace” will only be achieved when Muslim governments rule every square inch of the globe.

            Now Islam is an extremely legalistic religion which mechanically regulates many, many small details of daily human behavior in ways that would warm the heart of the most ardent Orthodox Jew.  For example, Irshad Manji (“The Trouble With Islam,” p. 23) reports that one popular Islamic teaching warns against “excessive laughter.”  Correspondingly, the Ayatollah Khomeini once said there were no jokes in Islam.  (Ibn Warraq, “Why the West Is Best,” “City Journal,” Winter 2008, vol. 18, no. 1;  Therefore, careful Muslim legal analysis would be needed for such a central human activity as war against other nations’ infidels.  So what do the four principal Sunni Muslim schools of law teach about jihad?  Their rulings and interpretations largely compose the Sharia.  Although the Maliki, Nanafi, Hanbali, and Shafi’I schools have their differences, all four agree that jihad is important.  Their medieval rulings cannot be deemed obsolete by modern Muslim standards because of the generally accepted principle that the “gates of ijtihad” (i.e., free inquiry to discern Allah’s will as found in the Quran and Islamic tradition) closed many centuries ago.  It’s not like someone mentioning long-forgotten, obsolete royal decrees by William the Conqueror (who won the battle of Hastings in 1066) in order to characterize contemporary English law.  According to Manji, the gates of ijtihad, i.e., independent, creative thought, closed by the twelfth century.  Consequently, as she notes (“The Problem with Islam Today,” p. 145), “All types of innovation [i.e., “bida”] became suspect and eventually banned.”  Today, the contemporary West’s “chronological snobbery” presupposes all change is good until proven otherwise.  By contrast, the Islamic concept of “bida” made the exact opposite assumption:  Innovation was bad until demonstrated otherwise.  As a result, this profoundly conservative element of Islamic culture helped to freeze into place all the basic, foundational teachings of Muslim law.  For since the death of the Hanbali school’s eponymous founder, Ahmed ibn Hanbal in 855, the Sunnis have recognized no one else as a first-class mujtahid, that is, a jurist possessing the authority to originate his own legislation based on the Sunna (i.e., the practices and sayings of Muhammad) and Quran.  According to Islamic scholar Cyril Glasse, the tendency of Sunni jurisprudence has been to crank out commentaries on commentaries and marginalia (see Robert Spencer, “Religion of Peace?:  Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t,” pp. 81-82).  Because the gates of ijtihad closed, as Spencer comments (“Politically Incorrect Guide,” p. 38), “Islamic teaching on principal matters has long been settled and is not to called into question.”  Although some reform-minded Muslims call for reopening the gates of ijtihad, such as Manji, and the Shi’ites don’t think they ever closed, the leading religious authorities of Sunni Islam, such as the sheiks and imams at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, would entertain opening them no more than the Vatican’s teaching office would reconsider papal infallibility.  For example, the Shafi’i legal manual “Umdat al-Salik, translated into English as “Reliance of the Traveller,” which received Al-Azhar’s imprimatur in 1991, spends some 11 pages on “lower,” i.e., literal jihad after briefly contrasting it to the “higher jihad” of struggling against one’s lower self.  Even when there’s no caliph, which the Turks abolished in 1924, this apparently up-to-date legal manual says Muslims must still wage jihad.  (Spencer, “Politically Incorrect Guide, pp. 40-41).  As this background context shows, the citations of medieval rulings and interpretations of the Sharia on jihad by the four legal schools isn’t an unfair procedure. 

            Various Muslim jurists before the time of the Hanbali jurist Ibn Taymiyya (died 1382) plainly taught violent jihad was part of Islamic teaching.  Obviously alluding back to the hadith quoted above that offered three choices to infidels before aggressive military action could be commenced, the Malki jurist Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani (died 996) proclaimed:

Jihad is a precept of Divine Institution.  Its performance by certain individuals may dispense others from it.  We Malakis maintain that it is preferable not to begin hostilities with the enemy before having invited the latter to embrace the religion of Allah except where the enemy attacks first.  They have the alternative of either converting to Islam or paying the poll tax (jizya), short of which war will be declared against them.  (As from al-Qayrawani, “La Risala (Epitre sur les elements du dogme et de la loi de l’Islam selon le rite malikit,” trans. into French from the Arabic originally by Leon Bercher, p. 165; as cited by Spencer, “Politically Incorrect Guide, pp. 38-39).

The Shafi’I scholar Abu’l Hasan al-Mawardi (died 1058) had no problem with jihad waging aggressive attacks against unbelievers: 

The mushrikun [infidels] of Dar al-Harb (the area of battle [i.e., the parts of the world ruled by non-Muslims—EVS] area of two types:  First, those whom the call of Islam has reached, but they have refused it and have taken up arms.  The amir of the army has the option of fighting them . . . in accordance with what he judges to be the best interest of the Muslims and most harmful to the mushrikun . . . Second, those whom the invitation to Islam has not reached, although such persons are few nowadays since Allah has made manifest the call of his Messenger . . . it is forbidden to . . .  begin an attack before explaining the invitation to Islam to them, informing them of the miracles of the Prophet [Muhammad] and making plain the proofs so as to encourage acceptance on their part; if they still refuse to accept after this, war is waged against them and they are treated as those whom the call has reached.  (Mawardi, “The Laws of Islamic Governance,” Ta-Ha Publishers, 1996, p. 60; as cited by Spencer, “Politically Incorrect Guide,” pp. 40).

Shaikh Burhanuddin Ali of Marghinan (d. 1196) wrote in the “Hidayah,” which mainly teaches Hanafi doctrine, also wrote in favor of aggressive, literal jihad:

It is not lawful to make war upon any people who have never before been called to the faith, without previously requiring them to embrace it, because the Prophet so instructed his commanders, directing them to call the infidels to the faith, and also because the people will hence perceive that they are attacked for the sake of religion, and not for the sake of taking their property, or making slaves of their children, and on this consideration it is possible that they may be induced to agree to the call, in order to save themselves from the troubles of war. . . . . If the infidels, upon receiving the call, neither consent to it nor agree to pay capitation tax [jizya], it is then incumbent on the Muslims to call upon God for assistance, and to make war upon them, because God is the assistant of those who serve Him, and the destroyer of His enemies, the infidels, and it is necessary to implore His aid upon every occasion; the Prophet, moreover, commands us to do so.  (Hidayah, vol. 2, p. 140, excerpted in Thomas P. Hughes, “Jihad,” in “A Dictionary of Islam” (London:  W.H. Allen, 1895), pp. 243-48; as quoted in Andrew G. Bostom, “The Legacy of Jihad:  Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims,” p. 27).

Ibn Khaldun (died 1406), the great Muslim historian, sociologist, and philosopher, was also a Maliki jurist.  According to his summary of five centuries of Sunni Muslim legal analysis and decisions about jihad: 

In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the [Muslim] mission and [the obligation to] convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force. . . . The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty for them, save only for purposes of defense. . . . Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations.”  (Khaldun, “The Muqudimmah:  An Introduction to History,” trans. Franz Rosenthal, vol. 1, (New York:  Pantheon, 1958), p. 473; as quoted in Bostom, “The Legacy of Jihad,” p. 28).

The general Shi’ite view of jihad agreed with the consensus Sunni legal position.  Al-Amili (died 1622), a noted theologian, wrote in the Jami-I-Abbasi, a popular Shi’ite Persian legal manual:  “Islamic Holy War [jihad] against followers of other religions, such as Jews, is required unless they convert to Islam or pay the poll tax.”  (As quoted in Bostom, “The Legacy of Jihad,” p. 28).  Not only do these learned Muslim jurists assume “jihad” refers to military activity in these passages, but they believe Muslims have a duty to engage in aggressive warfare in order to spread their faith.  Who can doubt the accuracy of Joseph Schacht’s blunt assessment?:  “The basis of the Islamic attitude towards unbelievers is the law of war; they must be either converted or subjugated or killed” (“An Introduction to Islamic Law,”  Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1982; as cited by Spencer, “Politically Incorrect Guide, p. 44).  Ibn Kaldun didn’t disagree himself about the options for Christians:  “It is [for them to choose among] conversion to Islam, payment of the poll tax [jizya], or death” (as quoted by Spencer, “Politically Incorrect Guide,” 54, from Bat Ye’or, “The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam,” (Madison, NJ:  Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996), p. 296).

            Moderately conservative Muslim scholars avoid truly reforming Islamic jurisdiction to fit with modern realities, such as Western domination of the modern state system.  The extremely conservative nature of Islamic law in the Sunni tradition binds their hands, so when explaining jihad they look for convenient ad hoc solutions that only nibble at the edges while avoiding the hard issues raised by traditional teaching.  They don’t want to recognize truly, for example, how the traditional interpretative principle of naskh makes mincemeat out of a case built using the chronologically earlier “peaceful”  Meccan suras of the Quran while ignoring or discounting the later “warlike” Medinan suras. The Al-Azhar conformists, such as Jad al-Haqq in a two-volume textbook, avoids working out the details of how long supposedly temporary truces/treaties should last between believers and what happens after they end.  Bassam Tibi comments about the quandary this point leaves Al-Haqq in:  “There is no discussion of what occurs after that time, which implies that it is seen as heretical to revise the classical doctrine and that there is no desire to review this doctrine in the light of changed international circumstances.  The result is conformity to acquiescence to the new international [territorial nation-state] system, but no effort to alter the classic categories.”  Al-Haqq also labors hard to avoid associating the call to unbelievers to become a Muslim (da’wa) with armed jihad (al-musallah) or fighting (qital).  His statement that “Islam was not disseminated with the power of the sword” is neither historically accurate nor honest.  Tibi plainly perceives the moderately conservative al-Azhar conformists have made only minor superficial adjustments to Islamic law on jihad, not a fundamental reform that recognizes the modern system of sovereign states instituted by the Treaty of Westphalia that ended the Thirty Years War (1648):

In short, Muslim states adhere to public international law but make no effort to accommodate the outmoded Islamic ethics of war and peace to the current international order.  Thus, their conduct is based on outward conformity [to international law when they join United Nations—EVS], not on a deeper “cultural accommodation”—that is, a rethinking of Islamic tradition that would make it possible for them to accept a more universal law regulating war and peace in place of Islamic doctrine.  Such a “cultural accommodation” of the religious doctrine to the changed social and historical realities would mean a reform of the role of the religious doctrine itself as the cultural underpinning of Islamic ethics of war and peace. . . . The [apparent] convergence [of Islamic and international legal traditions] is limited to practical matters and does not reach to basic conceptions of war and peace. . . . Though the Islamic world has made many adjustments to the modern international system, there has been no cultural accommodation, no rigorously critical rethinking of Islamic tradition.  (Bassam Tibi, “War and Peace in Islam,” “The Ethics of War and Peace:  Religious and Secular Perspectives, ed. Terry Nardin:  (Princeton, NJ:  Princeton University Press, 1996), as reprinted in Bostom, “The Legacy of Jihad,” pp. 337-338).

Islamic law hasn’t fundamentally accepted the modern territorial state.  It still focuses on the relationship between the community of believers, the Umma, and those unbelievers not ruled by Muslims, in the “House of War.”  Islamic conquests are not called “wars” (hurub), but “openings” (futuhat) to the world to Islam’s call to convert.  They don’t call the use of force to promote Islam as an act of war, since the call to convert (da’wa) is deemed to be an effort to abolish war after the whole world joins “the house of Islam.”  The similarity to the Communist definition of “peace” is obvious (cf. Spencer’s citation of Islamist theorist Sayyid Qutb, “Politically Incorrect Guide,” pp. 41-42).  Instead, the Al-Azhar University conformists have made minor tactical adjustments rather than serious strategic rethinking of traditional Islamic law.  And, as Robert Spencer has observed about the laws of dhimmitude, Islamic laws that temporarily and conveniently gather dust for a period can later be remembered and imposed with a vengeance when other conditions change.  (Compare “Politically Incorrect Guide,” p. 51).

            It's a major mistake for one apologist for Islam to say "most modern Muslims . . . understand their scripture differently today than you would like to accuse them of understanding."  Of course, many of them don't know it that well, such as those who feel they have to recite the Quran mechanically in Arabic when they don't hardly understand Arabic!   But look carefully at the scholarly journal articles reprinted in Andrew Bostom's "The Legacy of Jihad," such as Bassam Tibbi's.  Notice the tortured legalistic contortions or pragmatic expedients that Jad Al-Haqq engages in concerning suspending jihad in today's world.  Someone like Qutb, the lead theorist of the Muslim Brotherhood (the author of "Milestones") uses and interprets the Islamic primary sources on (say) jihad or whatever far more authentically than someone like Al-Haqq.  This argument is like a liberal Christian's saying, "Well, no one has to interpret Genesis's days literally or John to accept the Deity of Christ."  On the basis of this argument about Muslims view of jihad in their primary sources, they (the liberal Christians) have a perfectly reasonable "interpretation" of the Bible as well.  But, as we should know, the fundamentalist interpretations of the days of Genesis being 24-hour days and the Gospel of John's denial of Unitarian views of God (as per John 1:1) are a far more correct handling of Scripture than the liberal viewpoint.  Similarly, that's why Qutb would beat Haqq, hands down, based on the same fundamentalist religious premises (literal interpretation) applied to Islam's authoritative texts.


            Ideas have consequences.  All the passages in Islam's primary texts, when taken literally and straightforwardly, using traditional modes of interpretation as sanctioned by the leading authorities in four legal schools of Islam, will generate far more violence on average than people taking the Bible similarly literally.  After all, how many traditional Christians (including in places like Mississippi) burn down mosques and kill Muslims every time Christ gets insulted somehow?  How many Catholics riots in New York or elsewhere when a picture of the Virgin Mary had dung and pornographic pictures attached to it in a modern art museum in Brooklyn?  The right-wing Christians are far more tolerant than the Muslims who rioted, killed, demonstrated, etc. over the Danish cartoons insulting Muhammad, the Nigerian journalist who said Muhammad would like to have married one of the Miss World contestants, or the British schoolteacher who let her class name a teddy bear "Muhammad."  Who has more reason to fear?:  Do Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens seriously fear fundamentalist Christians will kill them for their atheistic books?  Or how about Salman Rushdie and Ayaan Hirsi Ali's fear of fundamentalist Muslims?  The conservative Christians are obviously far more tolerant in practical terms than the Islamist Muslims.  After all, Rushdie was specifically targeted by a leading Muslim nation's top leader, and Hirsi Ali knows well that Theo Van Gogh was assassinated for making the independent movie that she wrote the script for.


            As Daniel Pipes explains, before quoting the French scholar on the topic, Alfred Morabia, the fundamentalist Islamists who advocate violence shouldn't be seen as marginal extremists today in the Muslim world, especially when they end up running countries (e.g., Ruhollah Khomeini) or major terrorist groups:  "For most Muslims in the world today, these moves away from the old sense of jihad are rather remote.  They neither see their own [Muslim] rulers as targets deserving of jihad nor are they read to become Quakers.  Instead, the classic notion of jihad continues to resonate with vast numbers of them, as Alfred Morabia, a foremost French scholar of the topic, noted in 1993:  'Offensive, bellicose jihad, the one codified by the specialists and theologians, has not ceased to awaken an echo in the Muslim consciousness, both individual and collective. . . . To be sure, contemporary apologists present a picture of this religious obligation that conforms well to the contemporary norms of human rights, . . . but the people are not convinced by this. . . . The overwhelming majority of Muslims remain under the spiritual sway of a law . . . whose key requirement is the demand, not to speak of the hope, to make the Word of God triumph everywhere in the world.'  In brief, jihad in the raw remains a powerful force in the Muslim world, and this goes far to explain the immense appeal of a figure like Osama bin Laden in the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001."

            Theory of violent jihad among Muslims has mountains of evidence supporting it.  Robert Spencer once asked:  “[If] any orthodox sects or schools of Islamic jurisprudence that rejected the necessity of jihad warfare in order to institute Sharia.”  ({585FD8A7-ADD1-438A-8395-B8131F2B25B3}.  For example,  Majid Khadduri of Johns Hopkins wrote in 1955 that jihad is "an instrument for both the universalization of [Islamic] religion and the establishment of an imperial world state."  That was before, as Pipes comments, "political correctness conquered the universities."  Where did he get such an idea from?  Well, let's consider Pipes' description of the theory and development of jihad legally:  "As for the conditions under which jihad might be undertaken--when, by whom, against whom, with what sort of declaration of war, ending how, with what division of spoils, and so on--these are matters that religious scholars worked out in excruciating detail over the centuries.  But about the basic meaning of jihad--warfare against unbelievers to extend Muslim domains--there was perfect consensus.  For example, the most important collection of hadith (reports about the sayings and actions of Muhammad), called Sahih al-Bukhari, contains 199 references to jihad, and every one of them refers to it in the sense of armed warfare against non-Muslims.  To quote the 1885 Dictionary of Islam, jihad is "an incumbent religious duty, established in the Qur'an and in the traditions [hadith] as a divine institution, and enjoined especially for the purpose of advancing Islam and of repelling evil from Muslims." 



            Pipes notes that by one calculation, Muhammad himself engaged in 78 battles.  How many did Jesus engage in by comparison?  Rudolph Peters notes in the authoritative Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam (1995) that the allegorical, often mystical Sufi, interpretation of jihad as a personal spiritual struggle of withdrawal from the world, etc., was "hardly touched upon" in premodern legal writings on jihad.  For example, consider the four major Muslim legal schools.  Do any of them before (say) 1800 define "jihad" to be mainly about fighting one's evil human nature, etc.?  The nineteenth century Muslim reformist writings of Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan of India simply ignore or discount all the prior centuries' evidence for a literal jihad when developing this spiritual/allegorical meaning.  Hence, moderate Muslims who sincerely believe in pushing the delete button on violent jihad within their faith have to be challenged to repudiate publicly what the Quran, the most reliable hadiths, and the early rulings of the four traditional legal schools teach about “jihad.”  They shouldn’t be allowed to pretend disingenuously that no primary texts favoring violent jihad exist.



            The Old Testament describes Judah’s and Israel’s waging war against neighboring Canaanite nations and others.  Does this reality make the Quran’s statements endorsing jihad of little real significance, since most Christians today wouldn’t cite the Old Testament to justify launching modern crusades against Muslims or Jews?   After all, the Biblical authorizations to attack would be of very limited value in this regard, for they concerned specific Canaanite peoples, not generic “unbelievers” or “pagans,” as is the case with the Quran’s words when taken at face value.  The progressive revelation of the Bible, especially as found in the Sermon on the Mount, reveals that Christians shouldn’t wage war (John 18:36), thus superceding those cases where God directly authorized Israel to wage war.  A straight reading of the New Testament shows it teaches outright pacifism, which even the early Sunday-keeping church before the time of Constantine actually largely followed.  Turning the cheek simply isn't compatible with military service! Contrast how traditional Christianity spread in its first 300 years with how Islam spread in its first 300 years if one wants to know which religion intrinsically (even by early Catholic standards) was more one of peace.  Catholic Christianity was spread largely by persuasion while being a periodically persecuted religious minority within the Roman Empire.  By contrast, Muhammad Himself (unlike Jesus) was a general, not just a prophet.  He actually lead men in battle.  Muhammad’s top lieutenants (the future Caliphs and others) ordered men into battle and bore the sword in the first decades of Islam's existence.  Their Muslim armies invaded and  conquered the Sassanid (Persian) Empire and took Egypt, Palestine, and Syria (in particular) from the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire.  The also took all of North Africa, Spain, and northern India.  So jihad was an intrinsic part of Islam from its founding days, but the Crusades were basically an invention of the 11th century Papacy, over a millennium after Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection.

            Now, where's pacific part of the Quran to overrule the jihadic portions?  In the case of the Bible, the dispensationalist interpretative principle is often used to set aside a portion of the Old Testament (i.e., which contains the commands to wage war) based upon a further revelation in the New Testament (i.e., the pacific portion of Scripture).  In their case, the moderate Muslims are up against the somewhat similar Islamic doctrine of abrogation (naskh), which teaches that later revelations cancel out earlier ones (as per sura 2:106).  Unfortunately for the moderates, the verses of the Quran written later are normally much more warlike and less tolerant than those written earlier.  The Medinian "jihad" suras (16, 29, 52, 73, 109) were later, the Meccan "tolerance" verses earlier (with the interesting exception of 2).  But the last sura on this subject was the Medinian sura 9, leading Robert Spencer in "Onward Muslim Soldiers" to conclude:  "Thus in effect the Qur'an's last word on jihad, and all the rest of the book--including the "tolerance verses"--must be read in its light."  This is how the Quran's commentator Ibn Kathir sees it.  The Chief Justice of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh 'Abdullah bin Hummad bin Humaid, maintained that "jihad" went through this evolution of meaning in the Quran:  Fighting first was forbidden, then permitted, then made obligatory.  Nor is this understanding limited to the strict Wahabis.  Spencer notes the Pakistani Brigadier S.K. Malik's 1979 book "The Qur'anic Concept of War,” which contained an endorsement from then president Zia-ul-Haq, had the same three-stage schema.  To say a literal definition of jihad is merely limited to extremists, past or present, is a huge historical distortion.  It's squarely in the mainstream of traditional Muslim legal thought and is easily derived from the primary sources, the Quran and hadiths.


            The Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini, during the controversy after he proclaimed a death sentence (in a fatwa) against the novelist Salman Rushdie for writing "Satanic Verses" in 1989, defended the traditional Muslim understanding of “jihad” as literal warfare.  Unlike, say, Saddam Hussein, the past dictator of Iraq, Khomeini was a true scholar of Islam and an authority about its teachings.  It’s much more problematic to claim he quoted the Quran out of context or didn’t know what he was talking about than about someone like Hussein.  Here, as Ibn Warraq, the author of Why I Am Not a Muslim, notes, Khomeini is replying to Western apologists and Muslim moderates by citing the Koran chapter and verse on the subject of the definition of “jihad,” or holy war:

Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled and incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of [other] countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world.  But those who study Islam Holy War will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world . . .  Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war.  Those [who say this] are witless.  Islam says:  Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all!  Does this man that Muslims should sit back until they are devoured by [the unbelievers]?  Islam says:  Kill them [the non-Muslims], put them to the sword and scatter [their armies].  Does this man sitting back until [non-Muslims] overcome us?  Islam says:  Kill in the service of Allah those who may want to kill you!  Does this mean that we should surrender to the enemy.  Islam says:  Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword!  People cannot be made obedient except with the sword!  The sword is the key to Paradise, which can be opened only for Holy Warriors!  There are hundreds of other [Koranic] psalms and Hadiths [sayings of the Prophet} urging Muslims to value war and to fight.  Does all that mean Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war?  I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim.

            Warraq then goes on to say:  "Khomeini is quoting directly from the Koran and is giving practically a dictionary definition of the Islamic doctrine of Jihad.  The celebrated Dictionary of Islam defines jihad as:  'a religious war with those who are unbelievers in the mission of Muhammad.  It is an incumbent religious duty, established in the Quran and in the Traditions as a divine institution, enjoined specially for the purpose of advancing Islam and of repelling evil from Muslims."  (quotes from Warraq, Why I Am Not a Muslim, pp. 11-12).  Obviously, the main or original definition of “jihad” is about real warfare against unbelievers, not (say) an internal, mental struggle to resist evil desires.

            Now, let's take a sample of Koranic quotes, as Warraq cites them (pp. 217-18):  

[sura] 9.5-6:  "Kill those who join other god with God wherever you may find them."  4.76:  "Those who believe fight in the cause of God."  8.12:  "I will instill terror into the heats of the Infidels, strike off their heads then, and strike off from them every fingertip."  8.39-42:  "Say to the Infidels:  If they desist from their unbelief, what is now past shall be forgiven them; but if they return to it, they have already before them the doom of the ancients!  Fight then against them till strife be at an end, and the religion be all of its God's."  2:256:  "But if they who believe, and who fly their country, and fight in the cause of God may hope for God's mercy:  and God is Gracious, Merciful."  8.15, 16:  "Believers, when you meet the unbelievers preparing for battle do not turn your backs to them.  [Anyone who does] shall incur the wrath of God and hell shall be his home:  an evil dwelling indeed."  "If you do not fight, He will punish you severely, and put others in your place."  4.74:  "Let those fight in the cause of God who barter the life of this world for that which is to come; for whoever fights on God's path, whether he is killed or triumphs, We will give him a handsome reward."

            Warraq goes on to comment:  "It is abundantly clear from many of the above verses that the Koran is not talking of metaphorical battles or of moral crusades:  it is talking of the battlefield. . . . Mankind is divided into two groups, Muslims and non-Muslims.  The Muslims are members of the Islamic community, the umma, who possess territories in the Dar al-Islam, the Land of Islam, where the edicts of Islam are fully promulgated.  The non-Muslims are the Harbi, the people of the Dar al-Harb, the Land of Warfare, any country belonging to the infidels that has not been subdued by Islam but that, nonetheless, is destined to pass into Islamic jurisdiction, either by conversion or by war (Harb).  All acts of war are permitted in the Dar al-Harb.  Once the Dar al-Harb has been subjugated, the Harbi become prisoners of war.  The imam can do what the likes to them according to the circumstances.  Woe betide the city that resists and is then taken by the Islamic army by storm.  In this case, the inhabitants has no rights whatsoever . . . "  (pp. 217-218).  The author then cites atrocities committed after Constantinople fell in 1453 by the victorious Turkish army.


            The basic ideological/theological reason why Muslim societies engage in more violence on average than non-Muslim ones comes down to the ideology of jihad.  The West/Christendom has rejected the notion of (military) crusades having any religious legitimacy, but many, many in the Muslim world uphold what’s some Muslims will also label the 6th pillar of Islam called "Holy War."  Now if what the Quran itself has to say on the issue and various hadiths are consulted, the Khomeini interpretation of the term wins hands down upon any reasonable exegesis of the texts in question.  It's the purest Muslim propaganda to maintain it only means the struggle against the self’s wrong desires, etc.  As Sohail H. Hashmi notes in the “Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion,” by "the final years of the Prophet's life," it came to be that "jihad clearly meant the struggle to propagate the Islamic order worldwide."  Even Stephen Swartz, a convert to Islam, in his book, “The Two Faces of Islam,” admitted that "military jihad cannot be written out of Islam.  The prophet Mohammed himself led armies."  Despite claiming things have changed, Noah Feldman in “After Jihad:  America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy” still wrote:  "For more than a decade after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, many Islamists sought to emulate the Iranian model by Islamizing their own countries through the revolutionary transformation of violent jihad."  Hence, for Muslims to follow in Muhammad’s personal example, just as Christians walk in Jesus’ footsteps is no surprise, as Robert Spencer writes in “Onward Muslim Soldiers” (p. 276), "The Prophet's example invites legions of his imitators to take up arms themselves today."  Ideas have consequences.  So the ideology of jihad does when the primary sources themselves (Hadiths and the Quran) are examined, not merely what modern Muslim apologists and their multiculturalist, pluralist, liberal Western sympathizers have written.

            The young American Muslim scholar/theologian interviewed for the recent PBS series on Islam and America at the Crossroads, who wants to argue that jihad is about fighting one's personal evil desires (or some such other watered down definition), presents a whitewash.  Such an interpretation of the Muslim ancient authorities (i.e., hadith, the Koran, the Sharia, early legal decisions/arguments of the four Islamic legal schools, etc.) is academically dishonest.  It’s like Christian liberals’ interpretation of the Genesis flood as a local flood in the Middle East only, their claim the days of Genesis 1 aren't literal days, or deny the Gospel of John teaches the Deity of Christ.  I bet the chief philosophical theorist of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sayyid Qutb, would have a much more convincing use of the primary sources than the moderate Muslims would have, for example. 

            Conservative Islam’s fundamental error has been to chain itself to seventh century Arab tribal values by not being able to seriously change the Sharia since the gates of ijtihad closed.  By contrast, Western culture, because it didn't (say) tie itself to Catholic canon law and what was taught in the early Catholic writings, was able to innovate and adapt in ways that conservative Muslim culture intrinsically prevents itself from doing (i.e., "bida," the bias towards all innovation being assumed to be evil a priori).


            The error of the moderate Muslims is that most of them don't want to publicly attack head-on the parts of the Sharia that are in error by modern Western values, such as equality under the law for religious minorities and the intrinsic evil of (non-defensive) religious warfare.  The conservative Islamists, such as Qutb and Khomeini, will win any battle of citations from the Quran, the Hadith, and the rulings of the jurists found in the Sharia on the points in contention with the moderate and liberal Muslims.  Hence, the moderate Muslims who claim these primary sources of religious authority don't teach violent imperialistic jihad, the oppression of women, and systematic discrimination against religious minorities (as dhimmis) are either ignorant or disingenuous.  It would be like a modern liberal Christian claiming, "The Bible, the early Catholic writings, and Catholic canon law never teach that wives should obey husbands and never say that gay sex is evil."  In this regard, the "modernist" Christian liberals are much more honest than these moderate Muslims who take advantage of Western ignorance about the Islamic texts to characterize them in ways which simply aren't true, as their Islamist opponents would willingly point out to them.


            It's fine to say there are lots of moderate Muslims.  But they may compose a "silent majority" because they know they are on ideologically shaky ground since the Islamists (not to be equated with terrorists overall) would get the better of the argument on textual grounds about what jihad means and the necessity of present Muslim governments to impose the Sharia in Allah's sight.  Much like the liberal Christians, the moderate Muslims are letting modern Western Enlightenment thinking control their interpretation of their primary texts, which simply isn't honest, even if their views may be pragmatically sensible and humane compared to the Islamists'.  Likewise, orthodox Muslims’ intolerance of differing religious views among other Muslims themselves differs little from the mentality of the Medieval Church concerning heretics in its midst.  For example, the great Muslim theologian Al-Ghazali (1058-1128) asked about philosophical opponents in his culturally very influential work, “The Incoherence of the Philosophers”:  “Do you then say conclusively that they are infidels and that killing of those who uphold their beliefs is obligatory?”  He responded that they should be pronounced infidels for three reasons:  1.  They said the world had eternally existed, rather than being created.  2.  Allah doesn’t know particular things, only general universal terms/concepts.  3.  There was no resurrection of the body.  Thus, killing these heretical Muslims, the medieval Muslim philosophers who exalted ancient Greek philosophy’s ideas over the Quran’s revelation, was obligatory under Islamic law!  (Robert Spencer, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades),” p. 95.)  How different is this mentality from what drives jihads?

            So then, it's now time to examine some theory and methodology.  After all, ideas have consequences.  Furthermore, facts without theory (or interpretative context) are useless.  It's necessary to consider in advance what values and assumptions that are brought to bear when examining someone's claims to truth.  Here are three key questions that liberal academics and intellectuals who like to whitewash Islam should be made to specifically answer:


1.  Do you believe that people getting and upholding certain ideas will act upon them?

2.  Do you believe that people with certain religious ideas will act upon them in this life?

3.  Do you believe that the Bible and the standard and/or literal interpretations made of it (such as in the early Catholic writers) are as apt to produce violence and terrorism as the standard and/or literal interpretations of the Quran, the hadiths, and the early rulings of the four traditional Islamic legal schools (i.e., the Sharia)?


            Point three can bear some more explanation.  Evil human nature is found in all places at all times, true.  But it's plainly worse in some political systems/civilizations compared to others:  Compare totalitarian socialism with democratic capitalism, for example.  Another interesting, if less airtight, historical political comparison to make would be to measure Protestantism up against Catholicism and Orthodoxy.  Likewise, a straightforward interpretation of the primary standard religious texts of Islam are far more apt to produce violence from its believers on average compared to the founding documents of Christianity, given equal amounts of religious zeal and knowledge a priori on both sides.  Moderate Muslims are like liberal Christians:  The former have to ignore and deny the plain meanings of texts the conservative Islamists like Qutb and Khomeini cite for literal jihad, just as the latter ignore or deny the virgin birth, the miracles of Jesus, His actual resurrection, the literal meaning for the days of creation, etc.  That is, as Warraq put it ever so cleverly, "There are moderate Muslims, but Islam itself is not moderate."  The moderate Muslims who deny that the normal interpretation of their religious texts encourage violent jihad are either ignorant or dishonest.  So allegedly moderate Muslims and Western liberal academics need to muster their available heavy duty academic artillery, using facts and logic, not ad hominem abuse and arguments from authority,  against critics of Islam as Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, Irshad Manji, Bat Ye’or, Ibn Warraq, and Robert Morey, if they wish to refute them.







            Should past Muslim aggression be morally condemned like Western imperialism is?  Let’s consider now equal opportunity imperialism, selective outrage, excuse-making, and double standards when comparing the West and the Islamic worlds concerning their respective histories of military conquest.  A true Christian has to agree that invading other countries and conquering them is wrong, by whatever means this is done.  Someone can't both love his enemy yet also kill him on the battlefield (Matt. 5:43-48).  In a world ruled by the sword, Christians have to reject the use of force against others (Matt. 26:52), even when it's ostensibly done for someone else's good.

            Given these spiritual realities, are some cases of imperialism "better" than others?  Was Islamic imperialism more moral or had better (say) economic or political effects than Western imperialism?  If a given piece of land was taken (i.e., stolen) by a succession of conquerors over the centuries, is the last one to take it somehow less moral than any of the prior takers?  On what basis do we get all hot and emotionally indignant against the last one to conquer a given piece of real estate, but then pass over in silence, with nary an emotional ripple, or make just perfunctory comments against, all prior acts of conquest and/or imperialism?  Is selective outrage morally justifiable?  Or is it merely evidence of a double standard’s operation?  Someone may argue the “Christian” West had a higher level of knowledge than the Islamic world, which then makes them more responsible and thus guilty.  But that’s fundamentally dubious because the former’s people for many centuries had little or no access to the Bible and that both civilization’s people were entirely or rarely called truly to salvation. 



            It has been argued that “past atrocities are the same morally as present ones is not useful for solving the world's problems. Those abused recently are still alive and willing to do something about it."  Therefore, since (say) the actions taken by America and Great Britain that helped create the State of Israel which displaced the Palestinians happened more recently than (say) the Ottoman Empire’s conquests or atrocities, the former is worthy of more criticism than the latter.  But first of all in reply, don't Muslims chronically bring up cases in which they were mistreated in the past by the West/"Christendom"?  If a Muslim wants to talk about nineteenth century European imperialism or the Crusades, should he be told, "Arguing that past atrocities are the same morally as present ones is not useful for solving the world's problems"?  If they want to spend a lot of time talking about all this mistreatment, why can't the West's apologists spend their time in turn talking about past acts of imperialism and jihad by Muslims, whether during the initial invasions in the first two centuries after Muhammad's death or during the period of Ottoman expansion from the 14th century onwards?  If the Muslims have long memories, why shouldn't the (traditional) Christians have equally long ones also?  Even George W. Bush backed up from using the word "crusade" to describe the war on terror after 9-11 because of Muslim protests:  Although he seriously professes evangelical Christianity, he surely didn't mean it literally, as a religious war, but was surely using the term generically, as in the phrase, "a crusade against drugs."   (Here's an interesting thought experiment:  Suppose W. Bush had carefully chosen a different word, as a deliberate PR manipulation, and had said that we (or the Muslims) need to launch a "jihad" against terrorism:  What would have Muslims who condemned his use of "crusade" then had said in response then?)  So aren't Muslims simply obsessed with the Crusades?  The Crusades against Islam ended over 700 years ago, but they certainly aren't forgotten.  Yet, on the other hand, how many Turks or Muslims in general feel any guilt about the Armenian genocide, which in a bare generation before 1948, killed twice as many Armenians as there were Palestinians displaced from the modern state of Israel's land?  So if Muslims can't be told to forget past mistreatment, why should (traditional) Christians either (except perhaps by appealing to their own principle of forgiveness)?


            Now, this argument in principle is most useful for a Catholic apologist:  Suppose a liberal agnostic or atheist academic said, "I don't believe in the Bible and Christianity because of the Inquisition and Crusades."  Suppose someone replied back, "Arguing that past atrocities are the same morally as present ones is not useful for solving the world's problems. Those abused recently are still alive and willing to do something about it."  After all, the victims of the inquisition are long since dead, and the Catholic church, at least for the time being, has abolished (or transformed) the "Holy Office."  What matters then is, "What happens to you after you die?  Could Intelligent Design be correct?  Could the Bible be inspired by God?"  Should secular critics of Christianity be similarly rebuked?

            A comparison between the Palestinians’ present plight and the Armenian genocide is worth some further analysis.  The latter killed roughly 1.5 million people during the general period of 1915-1923, and the Armenian population of Anatolia ceased to exist at that point.  If this is now unimportant because it occurred 90 years ago, could the same be said about an event that occurred a little less than 60 years ago in 1947-49 that killed far fewer people and was likely much less a product of deliberate government policy (i.e., that of Ben Gurion, the first Israeli Prime Minister, and the Haganah)?  When should we adopt "historical amnesia" about such things, and say they no longer matter?  How long should it take?  Should the Muslims be told to forget about European imperialism during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries then since, well, that's so "yesterday" also?  How many Muslims alive today actually lived in colonies ruled by the Western powers?  If Jesus doesn't return in the next thirty five years, would we say then that the displacement of 650,000 Arabs in 1947-49 is no more important than the Armenian genocide is presently?  But then again, if Jesus is going to return in about ten years, and the "Great Catastrophe" isn't going to be reversed by the kingdom of God, should we get so emotionally worked up about this problem compared to other great or greater atrocities or human rights violations?  For example, the problem of female genital mutilation, honor killings, and the general oppression of women would constitute far greater human rights problem than whatever the Israelis have done to the Palestinians over the decades.  Yet how much attention and condemnation do those problems generate, whether by Muslims themselves or by Westerners?  Selective outrage and double standards should be condemned:  Jeane Kirkpatrick's analysis still holds in that sense ("Dictatorships and Double Standards.")  Obviously, these Armenian dhimmis did end up dead, not alive under a second class citizenship, as had been their lot in prior centuries. Presently the Palestinian Arabs are alive under a system (if in the semi/formally occupied territories) that leaves them alive but effectively like "dhimmis" with a second class citizenship:  Should they be grateful then that the Jews treated them better by letting them live and multiply compared to how the Turks treated an initially larger group of Armenians a mere three decades earlier?  Should the Israelis be praised for their level of “tolerance” in granting the Palestinians second-class citizenship, much like the Muslims gave to Christians and Jews in Medieval Spain?  Or is second class citizenship fine when Muslims today give it to Christians and Jews, but evil when Jews give it to Muslims?


            Western imperialism and Islamic imperialism should be systematically compared to see which was worse overall.
An earlier starting point (such as 632 A.D.) for this data set (the history of political relations between the West and the Arab and/or Muslim world) will make the Muslims much more into the "bad guys" and "Christendom" into the "good guys” than a 1798 starting date does. Were the initial Arab invasions any more justifiable in theory than (say) the Mongols' attacks on China and the Ukraine?  Weren’t the early Muslims just one more set of barbarian nomads over the millennia that sought to plunder wealth from richer neighboring civilizations?  Were the Muslims of the Middle East after Napoleon invaded Ottoman-held Egypt mere hapless victims of military stronger adversaries of the West?  Or did they get their "just deserts" or "blowback" from prior acts of Imperialism committed by themselves?  Did the history of the Middle East begin in 1800 or 1900?  By ignoring all prior acts of Islamic imperialism and starting with an arbitrarily chosen date to begin with when only the Europeans were acting aggressively, the Muslims in the Middle East may appear to be solely or mainly victims. But what’s wrong with changing the starting date for this historical analysis?   How aggressive were Muslims against the West and other cultures (like Hindu India) between Muhammad’s death (632 A.D.) and the last siege of Vienna by the Ottoman Empire (1683)?  Why doesn’t any of that history count equally in the balances?  The history of the Middle East, or the general clash of civilizations between Islam and Christianity, didn't begin when Napoleon invaded Egypt. 


            The "victimology" paradigm for Muslim/Western relationships over the centuries, as well as a c. 1800 starting date for the analysis of the same, simply has to be rejected.  For most of the past 1400 years, the Muslims were on the offensive rather the defensive through various jihads and other attacks.  Even the Crusades were arguably a counter-attack, since the Byzantine Empire was on the ropes strategically after their legions were demolished by the Seljuk Turk horse archers at Manzikert (1071).  Could one also say the Muslims attacked to obtain "economic and strategic advantages" also in prior centuries, not merely out of religious ideology?  Likewise, when Cortez attacked the Aztecs in Mexico, he and his men did it for "God, gold, and glory," and not necessarily in that priority order!


            Bernard Lewis, in “The Muslim Discovery of Europe” (the title of which, incidentally, appears to be an unacknowledged sly retort to Edward Said's “Orientalism”), describes throughout the book the general utter ignorance or obsolete knowledge Muslims normally had of the West's history and culture until after about 1820.  For example, he comments (p. 168):  "An eighteenth-century Ottoman knew as much about the states and nations of Europe as a nineteenth-century European about the tribes and peoples of Africa--and regarded them with the same slightly amused disdain."  But, unfortunately for the Turkish Muslims, the Europeans posed a far greater military threat to them at this time than the tribes of Africa posed to nineteenth-century English Victorians.  The Muslims’ sense of complacency and ethnocentrism was especially dangerous when their enemies in the West had (finally) become stronger than the Islamic world was politically and militarily.  Furthermore, it can be readily shown that the Western scholars of past centuries did far more research in the customs and beliefs of other civilizations, including those they had conquered, than Muslim scholars in equivalent positions had done.  For example, compare the half a dozen reports written on China by Jesuit missionaries starting with Mendoza’s Histoire in 1588 until 1672 with what Muslims produced in any given 80 year period before 1700 on “Christendom.”  (See Stanley L. Jaki, “The Origin of Science and the Science of Its Origin,” p. 19, for the specific European authors of histories and reports on Chinese culture; cf. p. 22, for a slightly later but very influential one).  The Islamic world’s sense of religious superiority, indeed, their ethnocentrism, stemmed from the doctrine of jahiliyah, “the Age of Ignorance,” or period of moral darkness that filled the world before Islam arrived.  As Manji explains:  “The charade is, Arabs have assumed that the various non-Arab peoples they’ve conquered were also morally ignorant.  The conquered have effectively been taught that because the Koran attributes darkness to the pre-Islamic period, all wisdom prior to Muhammad carries the weight of blasphemy and applies to every Muslim, outside of Arabia no less than inside.”  She cites V.S. Naipaul as noting that Arab cultural colonization was more successful than Western was while recounting his travels in Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia:  “No colonization had been so thorough as the colonization that had come with the Arab faith. . . . . It was an article of the Arab faith that everything before [it] was wrong, misguided, heretical; there was no room in the heart or mind of these believers for their pre-Mohammedan past.”  (as in Irshad Manji, “The Trouble with Islam Today,” p. 141).  In this context, contrast the contemporary curriculum of the stereotypical Saudi-supported Islamist madrassas that teach only or mainly the Koran with that of past medieval Roman Catholics who studied what the pagan Greek and Islamic philosophers taught, such as shown within the pages of Thomas Aquinas’ “Summa Theologica.”  Who is more ethnocentric?  Who was less ethnocentric?


            Because historical amnesia about Western/Islamic relations is cultural blindness, a c. 1800 starting date for analyzing their relationship must be rejected.  To pretend all the prior centuries of conflict didn't exist and isn't relevant to post-1800 events may be an effective pretense so Muslims could claim to have been primarily victims of the West, but it isn't a fair analysis. 
Furthermore, and most importantly, if Muslims are obsessed with condemning the Crusades, such as blaming them for many of the historical problems between "Christendom" and the Islamic world, they obviously reject a c. 1800 starting date for analyzing this historical relationship themselves. So why should a Western apologist confine himself or herself either?  For example, it's necessary to examine the events preceding the history of unequal treaties between the Ottoman Turks and the Western powers (including Peter the Great's Russia) that really began with Carlowitz (1699).  Then look back at all the Ottoman expansionism that characterized the Turkish empire’s prior centuries, including two major assaults on Vienna (1529 and 1683).  Western Imperialism is merely the chickens coming home to roost against the Islamic world for their acts of conquest in prior centuries.  Since here there’s moral equivalency, why should the Muslims "whine" about the blowback then if Americans shouldn’t “whine” about 9-11?  For example, during the Greek revolt against Turkish rule in the early nineteenth century (c. 1821 for this quote), one of the Ottoman beys if Arta admitted the reasons for the ferocity of the struggle when the Greeks attempted to get their independence back:  "We have wronged the rayas [dhimmis] (i.e., our Christian subjects) and destroyed both their wealth and honor; they became desperate and took up arms.  This is just the beginning and will finally lead to the destruction of our empire."  (as quoted in Andrew G. Bostom, "The Legacy of Jihad," pp. 69-70).  So then, the British-French Sykes-Picot secret agreement for dividing up the Ottoman Empire was an agreement by several empires to punish another empire for throwing in their lot with Germany during World War I.  Did the Turks really want to give independence to the Arabs in the early twentieth century any more than they had to the Greeks in the early nineteenth?


            Consider now the perspective of Bernard Lewis, perhaps the Western world's greatest scholar on the subject of Islamic history.  His long view of history gives him a historical insight easily overlooked by those focusing on the great European Imperialist drive of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: 


The response of European Christendom to the first great jihad had been the Reconquest [of Spain/Portugal] and the Crusades.  The response to the second wave of Islamic advance culminated in the expansion of Europe which has come to be known as imperialism.  It began, not surprisingly, as the two extremities of Europe, in countries which had themselves been subject to Muslim rule--in the Iberian Peninsula and in Russia.  It subsequently spread until it engulfed almost the whole world of Islam.  (“The Muslim Discovery of Europe,” p. 33). 


Along these same lines, he once said: 


The Muslim attack on Christendom . . . has gone through three phases.  The first is from the beginning of Islam, when the new faith spilled out of the Arabian Peninsula, where it was born, into the Middle East and beyond. . . . After a long and bitter struggle, the Christians managed to retake part, but not all, of the [European] territory they had lost. . . .  They failed to retake North Africa or the Middle East, which were lost to Christendom.  Notably they failed to recapture the Holy Land. . . . That was not the end of the matter.  The Islamic world, having failed the first time, was bracing for the second attack, this time not conducted by Arabs and Moors, but by Turks and Tartars. . . . Again, Europe counterattacked, this time more successfully and rapidly.  They succeeded in recovering Russia and the Balkan Peninsula, and in advancing farther into the Islamic lands, chasing their former rulers from when they had come.  From this phase of the European counterattack [the late 16th century] a new term was invented:  imperialism.  When the peoples of Asia and Africa invaded Europe, this was not imperialism.  When Europe attacked Asia and Africa, it was . . . . In our own time, we have seen the end of that [period of European] domination [of the Middle East]."  (As spoken at the American Enterprise Institute’s March lecture; then quoted in R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., "Will We Always Have Paris?," American Spectator, July/August 2007, p. 79). 


Obviously, in the light of Lewis’ historical generalizations here, if we observe the struggles of the Spanish (until 1492 in their homeland) and the Hapsburgs of Austria Hungary against Islam (Vienna was besieged in 1532 and 1683), the European response to Ottoman Turkish aggression wasn’t about something that occurred only during the early Middle Ages.  Rather, the second great jihad (by the Turks) continued right into the early modern period.  The various Balkan wars of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, such as by the Greeks (1821-29), were merely attempts by conquered peoples to regain what Wilson would call their “right to self-determination.”   The various Balkan Wars and 19th-century Russia's wars against the Sublime Port were often about conquered traditional Christian nations opportunistically seeking freedom from "The Sick Man of Europe."  (But even the first Crusade mostly was a response to the Turks' victory at Manzikert in 1071, and Byzantium's ensuing loss of Anatolia, that caused Constantinople to plead for help from their culturally backward schismatic Catholic cousins).  Of course, when the Europeans entered areas in Asia and Africa that weren't traditionally Muslim, they obviously weren't retaliating against anything the Ottomans had done in prior decades and centuries, but were just another set of conquerors on the march, much like the Muslims had been during the two great jihads.  But if the specific historical events are broken down decade by decade and century by century concerning the wars of the Ottoman Empire, rather than just making a broad generalization about nearly 1400 years of Islamic history, Bernard Lewis' generalization still does indeed hold, that the initial impetus for European imperialism had its beginning in being a response to the great Turkish jihad.  But then, the West’s response flowed well past boundaries of the Islamic world, to say the least. 


So then, do any Muslim academics and intellectuals condemn routinely and publicly blast in their home countries their own civilization’s dark history of military conquest, jihad, and the oppression of religious minorities and women?  To generalize, Western intellectuals are much too self-critical of their own civilization’s failings; Muslim academics rarely self-critical enough.  Where are all the Muslim “Noam Chomskys”?  As the Palestinian Dr. Eyad Saraj told Irshad Manji, “We need a lot more self-criticism.”  Palestinian society is far less self-critical than Israeli society, and Western society in general, despite Palestine’s Arabs have their own deep cultural flaws, which Dr. Saraj pointed out:  “I know we have a lot of psychopathology.  It’s a male-dominated society, there is no role for women, there is no freedom of expression, there is a heavy atmosphere of intimidation. . . . This is a tribal structure in which dissent is seen as treason.  We have not yet developed a state of citizenry, within all the Arab countries, in which people are equal before the law.”  (Irshad Manji, “The Trouble with Islam Today,” p. 137). 


            What caused the Greek revolt (1821-27) against the Ottomans?  What later led to the Congress of Berlin?  Various Christian nationalities in the Balkans wanted self-determination and independence from Turkish rule.  After the Turks butchered thousands of Bulgarians, the Russians intervened (1877), and soon imposed the Treaty of San Stefano upon the Sublime Porte.  Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro all received independence under this treaty.  The Austrians and British didn't like this result, nor did the Turks exactly appreciate it, so at the Congress of Berlin the other great powers frustrated the Russian design for a big Bulgaria even though their army had approached Istanbul's outskirts.  To think this outcome had nothing to do with pre-1800 acts of conquest by the Ottoman Turks is ridiculous.  These countries wouldn't have sought independence then if they hadn't been conquered by the Muslims in prior centuries.  Anyone informed of this (previous) history before c. 1800 would have to admit, "Christendom was the victim of the Islamic world before the West later became the victimizers of the East."


            But now, how did the Muslims actually treat the areas they conquered?  Many are  aware of what Crusaders did after they took Jerusalem from the Muslims, with all the blood flowing in the streets.  But a similar scene erupted in Constantinople when that city fell (finally) to the Muslims in 1453.  Sir Steven Runciman describes the Sultan Mehmet granting the Muslim soldiers three days to pillage:  "They poured into the city. . . . They slew everyone that they met in the streets, men, women and children without discrimination.  The blood ran in rivers down the steep streets. . . . But soon the lust for slaughter was assuaged.  The soldiers realized that captives and precious objects would bring them greater profits" (as cited by Warraq, “Why I Am Not a Muslim,” p. 218).  Of course, who actually slaughtered more of whom (the Crusaders taking Jerusalem or the Muslims taking Constantinople) may not be clear historically.  But a priori there is no cause for the Muslims to celebrate their moral superiority concerning the treatment of captured cities after they had resisted.  The Muslims, whenever they wanted to, could easily suspend religious tolerance for their would-be dhimmis of the People of the Book.

            Ibn Warraq's book, “Why I Am Not a Muslim,” pp. 218-19, describes similar Muslim atrocities earlier in their history, during their first major invasion of the Middle East:  


The patriarch Sophronius of Jerusalem (634-638 A.D.) saw the invaders [i.e., Muslims during their first main jihad] as "godless barbarians" who burnt churches, destroyed monasteries, profaned crosses, and horribly blasphemed against Christ and the church."  In 639, thousands died as a result of the famine and the plague consequent to the destruction and pillage.  After the death of the Prophet (Muhammad), the caliph Abu Bakr organized the invasion of Syria.  During the campaign of 634, the entire region between Gaza and Caesarea was devastated; four thousand peasants--Christians, Jews, and Samaritans who were simply defending their land--were massacred.  During the campaigns in Mesopotamia between 635 and 642, monasteries were sacked, the monks were killed, and Monophysite Arabs executed or forced to convert.  In Elam the population was put to the sword, at Susa all the dignitaries suffered the same fate.  We are better informed of the conquest of Egypt by Amr b. al-As, thanks to the 'Chronicle of John,' Bishop of Nikiu, written between 693 and 700.  For John, the Muslim yoke was 'heavier than the yoke which had been laid on Israel by Pharaoh.'  As Amr advanced into Egypt, he captured the town of Behnesa, near the Fayum, and exterminated the inhabitants:  'whoever gave himself up to them {the Muslims] was massacred, they spared neither the old, nor the women or children.'  Fayum and Aboit suffered the same fate.  At Nikiu, the entire population was put to the sword.  The Arabs took the inhabitants of Cilicia into captivity.  In Armenia, the entire population of Euchaita was wiped out.  Seventh-century Armenian chroniclers recount how the Arabs decimated the populations of Assyria and forced a number of inhabitants to accept Islam, and then wrought havoc in the district of Daron, southwest of Lake Van.  In 642, it was the town of Dvin's turn to suffer.  In 643 the Arabs came back, bringing 'extermination, ruin, and slavery.'  Michael the Syrian tell us how Mu'awiya sacked and pillaged Cyprus and then established his domination by a 'great massacre.'  It was the same ghastly spectacle in North Africa:  Tripoli was pillaged in 643; Carthage was razed to the ground and most of its inhabitants killed.  Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Iraq, and Iran presented a similar spectacle.


 So although some were disenchanted with Byzantine rule, and so helped or didn't actively oppose the early Muslim armies, that’s no proof on the whole later on that Islamic rule necessarily made things any better for their conquered subjects.

            Describing the first Muslim invasion of part of what then was considered to be India, the Sind, Warraq documents still more harsh treatment meted out by the Jihadists:   "The Muslim army took three days to slaughter the inhabitants [after the port of Debal was taken]; thereafter [the Muslim commander] Qasim became more tolerant, allowing many to continue their professions and practice their religion.  This called down a rebuke from his superior, Hajjah, the governor of Iraq, who complimented him for his victory, but who ordered him to follow the Koranic injunction [in 47.4] that says, "O True believers, when you encounter the unbelievers, strike off their heads."  He told Qasim:  "My distinct orders are that all those who are fighting men should be assassinated, and their sons and daughters imprisoned and retained as hostages."  Later Qasim did as he was told, for when he took the town of Brahaminabad, he had all the men in the military classes beheaded, a total or 6000 or (other sources) 16,000 fighting men.  During the later invasion of India, from 1000 A.D. on, other atrocities followed at the hands of Mahmud of Ghazni.


            Now, in response, some could point out that the two great empires that ruled the Middle East in the year 600 A.D., the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) and Sassanid (Persian) Empires, had conquered their way to power also.  The Byzantine rulers, as good Orthodox Catholic Christians, treated poorly the (dissident Christian) Monophysites, who generally lived in the rural areas outside the large cities in Egypt and Greater Syria.  So for one conqueror to replace another in the seventh century A.D. makes neither superior to the other.  But if we admit moral equivalency among the Arabs, the Turks, and the Europeans who subjugated the former two during in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, then all the emotional rhetoric directed against the last has to be dropped.  Or, alternatively, an equal level of invective should be directed against the Arabs and Turks for their prior centuries of aggressive conquests.  Likewise, did the Arabs really suffer more under British and French rule than did they did under Turkish rule in the twentieth century?  Is there a statue of limitations on imperialism?  If so, how many centuries have to elapse before it kicks in?  Does its length vary from place to place for purely arbitrary reasons emotionally?  Do the West’s critics mostly only get upset at whoever took a particular piece of real estate last, while passing over all the other prior thefts as morally irrelevant to their current political goals or ideologies?  In  this light, think about Jeanne Kirkpatrick's criticism of the Left's double standards about Communist dictatorships as opposed to right-wing authoritarian ones in her book "Dictatorships and Double Standards."


            Does the end that justifies the means when a true Christian examines anti-colonialist guerrilla and terrorist movements?  That is, isn’t it wrong to shift from Biblical values to secular ones when deeming they would produce more good ultimately despite causing so much evil initially?  Suppose someone argues that coercive tactics should be used on terrorist suspects by reasoning, "the greatest good for the greatest number will be produced by waterboarding terrorist suspects who are withholding information that could prevent thousands of people from dying from a nuclear bomb’s explosion."  How does that differ from reasoning, "the greatest good for the greatest number will be produced by liberation front X’s gaining for their nation self-determination by any means necessary, because then fewer people will die or be impoverished by the new government than by the old colonialist one"?  If someone has emotional sympathies for anti-colonialist liberation movements, but none for waterboarding terrorist suspects, that person isn’t using Biblical, non-worldly values to equally condemn all wrong uses of force even when ultimately more good would result than evil from them.  Does "the end justifies the means" justify all movements seeking self-determination for their nations, but not for questioning coercively terrorist suspects, eh? 


            Furthermore, was European imperialism actually worse in its effects on average people than conquests in prior centuries?  Are all cases of imperialism equally bad or worse when compared and contrasted with what preceded or replaced them?  Let’s focus on the case of British ruled India.  Why was Nirad Chaudhuri candidly willing to admit:  “No Indian with any education and some regard for the historical truth, ever denied that, with all its shortcomings, British rule had, in the balance, promoted both the welfare and happiness of the Indian people.”  Why  was he willing to make such a concession?  V.M. Tarkunde explains specifically how India benefited from British rule:


India was then [before c. 1750] a country of despotism, injustice and near anarchy, and the bulk of the people welcomed the law and order established by British rule.  Although British rule in India ceased to have any progressive potentiality by about the beginning of the present century [c. 1900], its initial impact on the country was highly beneficial.  Due to the exhilarating contact with the spirit of freedom, rationalism and human dignity represented by British liberal thought, a belated Renaissance began to develop in India.  It took the shake of a movement against religious superstition and in favor of such social causes as abolition of Sati [i.e., the custom of killing widows on their husbands’ funeral pyres], legalization of widow remarriage, promotion of women’s education, prevention of child marriages and opposition to the custom of untouchability.


Warraq observes that the rule of law, that law’s nature, and parliamentary democracy, were also cultural legacies of the British Raj.  (See “Why I Am Not a Muslim,” pp. 208-209, for these quotes).  So then, it’s a major error to think all cases of imperialism are morally equivalent in their effects, even though unchristian violence lies at the foundation of all wars of conquest.  After all, which case of imperialism promoted the welfare of average people in the areas they conquered better:  The British in India or the Mongols in China?  Case closed!


            Suppose someone cited various British massacres in Kenya as one of many possible atrocities committed by Western imperialists in order to indict them.  But does mentioning these atrocities answer this question:  How many massacres occurred in Kenya before the guys in red coats showed up?  Consider the equivalent unqualified statement in response by Warraq (“Why I Am Not a Muslim,” p. 219) concerning some early Arab Muslim butchery when first invading what’s today Israel:  “During the campaign of 634, the entire region between Gaza and Caesarea was devastated; four thousand peasants—Christians, Jews, and Samaritans who were simply defending their land—were massacred.”  Is his making this point "unfair," "biased," "racist"?  Should this incident make any of today’s Muslims feel guilty?  If tit-for-tat atrocities in the history of Islam and “Christendom” can be easily enumerated, are any Muslims or Western liberal academics really being intellectually honest or fair with the historical evidence when focusing only on the West’s atrocities to the exclusion of the Islamic world’s?  


Now, in the case of British rule over India, they surely did a much better job of ruling that nation than a restored Moghul (i.e., imperialist Muslim) state would have:  The British abolished suttee, slavery, and female infanticide.   They also suppressed the Thugee cult and much of the banditry in the countryside.  There were also major infrastructure improvements, such as the building of very high quality railroads (better than the American West’s).  True, someone could argue like Daniel R. Headrick, “The Tentacles of Progress:  Technology Transfer in the Age of Imperialism, 1850-1940,” and say it would have been better for the general welfare of the Indian people had the British spent less on railroads and more on irrigation projects (pp. 194-195).  It’s unlikely Islamic imperialism (i.e., the Moguls) would have done as well as the British for average Indians, even when it came to irrigation projects.  Even Headrick admits the irrigation projects that the Moguls had built fell into neglect in the eighteenth century as their power declined (p. 173).  The official mainstream Muslim approach would be to mistreat the Hindus as contemptible pagan idolaters who weren’t even worthy of official dhimmi status.  In practical terms, of course, they had to treat them better than the Sharia would teach.  It’s unlikely standard nineteenth-century British racism typically would have yielded equally bad attitudes, if the two forms of ethnocentrism could be measured and compared somehow empirically.  


            Let's examine now the case of Algeria specifically.  Now, what prior history just might have encouraged the French to invade Algeria in 1830?  Why do American Marines sing a song about the shores of Tripoli and the halls of Montezuma?  The Barbary pirates of north Africa, although they were under the nominal control of a Turkish Bey, or governor, nevertheless pretty much did as they wanted.  Their acts of piracy and of enslaving others brought much misery upon those Europeans unfortunate enough to fall into their clutches.  One recent estimate states the Corsairs of Barbary took a million people into slavery over the centuries.  So then, as part of this revenge cycle, the European powers eventually tired of paying tribute to these pirates.  After all, President Jefferson of the upstart United States refused to.  One of them ultimate decides to stop paying “protection money,” but conquers the pirates' homeland instead.  Blowback, or payback, indeed!  



            Now, if the conqueror successfully assimilates the conquered to the religion, language, and/or culture of the conqueror over a period of decades or centuries, does that legitimize the conquest to the extent it takes place?  Does that turn "is" into "ought"?  For example, the United States took about half of Mexico in a war (1846-48) President Polk went out of the way to provoke through a deliberately arranged clash in a disputed border area between Mexico and the recently annexed state of Texas.  This war occurred after the French invaded Algeria in 1830.  In that case, Muslims and others would say that to send the Colons (French settlers) of Algeria packing for home and to give Algeria independence were good policies in the 1960s. No doubt similar sentiments exist concerning (say) the white farmers of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, the Portuguese in Angola or Mozambique, and the Zionist Jews in Israel/Palestine.  By contrast, no serious minds in the United States today publicly demand the return of California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas to Mexico.  Is the difference from Algeria because America managed to make most of this area generally English-speaking through its settlers until (say) the past 40 years? 

            In a clash between a European imperialist power and a native imperialist power, why should the latter be seen as morally superior?  The Zulus entered South Africa after the Dutch Boers had.  When the Zulus encountered the British at Isandlwana and then (famously) at Rorke's Drift, two imperialist conquering empires clashed.  Such as shown by their treatment of the Hottentots through a virtual extermination campaign, the Zulus should not be deemed the general moral superiors of the British, although local British colonial officials (in the immediate case) were guilty of having provoked this war in 1878-79.  (See Lawrence James, “The Rise and Fall of the British Empire,” pp. 257-258).



            But wasn’t Turkish rule over the Arabs and Berbers the result of conquest also?  Didn’t the British, such as through the efforts so famously of Lawrence of Arabia during World War I, merely take advantage of the Muslim Arabs’ resentment against rule by the Muslim Turks?  (Although, as Karsh points out, very few Arabs were nationalists inclined to revolt against Ottoman rule during most of World War I, unlike the case for the restive European nationalists in the Balkans before the war.  See “Islamic Imperialism:  A History,” pp. 132-33).   Likewise, wasn't (nominal) Turkish control of Algeria also imperialism?  Consider Kedourie’s interesting analysis (1992) on previous conquests in Algeria’s past: "It is true that the French invaded Algeria, but so did the Arabs and Turks before them.  It is true that the colonized the country and appropriated large tracts of land, but so did the Arabs and Turks before them.  The French were no doubt guilty of great misdeeds, but were theirs greater than those of their predecessors?  In the time of the French there were undoubtedly oppression and poverty, but was the Algeria of the corsairs, or the one which came into being in 1962, an exemplar of freedom, prosperity and justice?  How many Algerians, one wonders, as now sighing for the days of the French, such as they were."  Now ponder the perspective of Kateb Yacine (1929-1989), the Algerian writer who rejected Arab and Islamic cultural imperialism over Algeria, and defended staunchly the native language of Berber:  "Our armed struggle ended the destructive myth of French Algeria, but we have succumbed to the power of the even more destructive myth of Arab-Islamic Algeria.  French Algeria lasted 104 years.  Arab-Islamic Algeria has lasted thirteen centuries!  The deepest form of alienation is no longer the belief that we are French, but the belief that we are Arabs. . . . There is a sacred language, that of the Koran, used by the rulers to prevent the people from discovering their own identity" (as quoted by Warraq, “Why I Am Not a Muslim, p. 208, p. 212).  For Islamic is intrinsically a less universal religion than Christianity since Muslims who can’t read the Quran or pray the obligatory prayers in Arabic are in an intrinsically greatly inferior position to Arab believers, unlike (say) Christians who can’t read or speak Greek, the original language of the New Testament.  For example, Taslima Nasrin, a doctor and feminist writer thrown out of Bangladesh, asked her mother that if Allah was all-knowing, He should know Bengali so:  “How come I have to pray in Arabic?  When I want to talk to Allah, why do I have to use somebody else’s language?”  Her mother responded that in the Hadiths it’s written that when a person dies, two angels will ask him or her questions in Arabic.  If the answers aren’t in Arabic, she told her daughter, the grave will squeeze that person hard.  Irshad Manji, “The Trouble with Islam Today,” pp. 139, compares the position of the Muslim world concerning the authority of Arabic to the past Catholic practice of performing the mass in Latin only, a monopoly long since broken even by Catholicism itself.  Warraq points out that the replacement of Berber in Algeria by Arabic and the replacement of prior religious beliefs by Islam was the result of imperialism as well.  Consequently, he observes (p. 199):  “Bowing toward Arabia five times a day must surely be the ultimate symbol of this cultural imperialism.”  It’s time for Muslims themselves to make their beliefs about the proper languages for prayer, the direction of prayer (kibla), and the language for the common people’s reading of Scripture to be as universal as their God claims to be.



            Now, someone could say, "Well, the Brits had the Bible.  They should have read Matt. 5, and stayed home."  But, we know a certain god of this world has blinded and deceived the whole world (II Cor. 4:3-4; Rev. 12:9).  And very few people have ever been able to take literally Jesus' injunctions to love one's enemies and to turn the cheek, outside of the Peace Churches, such as the Friends/Quakers, Amish, Mennonites, etc., and some other scattered, assorted groups.  To anyone who has to rule and police, what Jesus said won't sound practical.  Hence, this is an excellent argument that true Christians would make up only a tiny minority of the world’s overall population, since they couldn't be in positions of political power and wield force against criminals or invading armies.  Notice that the false church was much larger than the true church, as revealed by a comparison of Revelation 18:1-9 to Rev. 12:6, 13-17.

            Furthermore, the "superior knowledge" argument that makes the European imperialists more guilty has another problem:  How much does ignorance really excuse in God's sight?  We know this argument has a good foundation (John 9:40; 15:22; Luke 12:47-48).  But on the other hand, everyone has to eventually measure up to faith in God and to agree to full obedience to God's law, which is an absolute standard that applies to all people in all cultures at all times.  As Paul told the heathen gentiles in Athens: "Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31; cf. II Pet. 3:9).  Those who never heard of the seventh-day Sabbath, for example, such as most Chinese and Asiatic Indians, are nevertheless still guilty of violating it despite having far less access to the Bible compared to most Americans or Europeans, who nevertheless violate it (on a per person basis) about as much.  

            So then, should we devise a "sliding scale" of relative merits based on relative knowledge--or an implied double standard?  For example, if Americans humiliate and psychologically torture (say) 100 prisoners in Iraq that should be just as emotionally denounced as (say) 1000 prisoners being physically tortured in Saudi Arabia?  The "relative knowledge standard" argument naturally leads to greater atrocities (as per the body count) hardly ever receiving any attention (i.e., airtime and ink) compared to smaller ones by less popular nations.  Hence, what gets more attention and denunciations:  A certain few days in Hama, Syria under Al-Assad senior?  Or the present low-scale intensity guerilla war between Israel and the Palestinians?  The number of people killed in the former situation (10,000 to 25,000) still massively exceeds the number of Palestinians killed in the present Intifada.  That ratio also ignores how many of the latter were under arms compared to the former city's inhabitants.  Another most interesting comparison could be made between the amount of attention, including the number of United Nations resolutions passed, between the numbers of people mistreated in Tibet by China (by various means, including from sending in Chinese settlers) versus Israel in Gaza and the West Bank.  It's much easier to push around (or economically ignore through boycott) tiny Israel than a nation of 1.2 billion people which is (for all intents and purposes) impossible to successfully invade, which wields a United Nations veto, and which businesses throughout the world rush in to trade with and invest in.  But then, do the masters of Tiannamen Square really know less morally than say the Israeli paramilitary architects of the gruesome aftermath of the battle for Deir Yassan in 1948?  (And what about the Jews massacred by the Arabs in 1948 at Hebron, Kfar Etzion, Hadassah Hospital, Safad, etc.?)  Are the supposedly less responsible, therefore, less guilty, people REALLY as ignorant of what's moral when dealing with unarmed people as their apologists claim they are?  Are the Saudis, when torturing people, really unaware of the moral dubiousness of what they are doing?  Why was it common for the German Nazis who actually had the jobs of killing the Jews to get drunk a lot?  That point needs to be carefully pondered



People normally only complain about, resist, and/or counterattack the imperialists/conquerors who presently or recently caused them problems.  So therefore the presently oppressed normally ignore history before the current/most recent controversy since they have forgotten about when their ancestors were the conquerors/oppressors in bygone centuries (such as the Turks or Arabs or Chinese during their periods of expansion as empires).  Consider in this light V.S. Naipaul’s comment (New York Review of books, January 31, 1991, as quoted in Warraq, “Why I Am Not a Muslim,” p. 198):


I have to stress that I was traveling in the non-Arab Muslim world.  Islam began as an Arab religion; it spread as an Arab empire.  In Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia—the countries of my itinerary—I was traveling, therefore, among people who had been converted to what was an alien faith.  I was traveling among people who had to make a double adjustment—an adjustment to the European empires of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; and an earlier adjustment to the Arab faith.  You might almost say that I was among people who had been doubly colonized, doubly removed from themselves.


True, Naipaul doesn’t recognize how fundamentally arbitrary the adoption of one culture over another can be to unanalytical, average people, which intrinsically makes the level of alienation less.  His generalization here also doesn’t recognize the historical difference between the places where Islam initially was spread by the sword (Iran and Pakistan) and by conversion (Malaysia and Indonesia).  Nevertheless, despite these qualifications, are we willing to condemn Islam’s earlier conquests with the same passion brought to bear against the West’s later conquests?  Is this time difference a reasonable basis for objecting to some situations of conquest/imperialism more than others?

            This rationalization has a most interesting consequence:  It inadvertently puts a premium on Mongol/ethnic cleansing style military tactics and successful "Borgian" assimilation successes.  Consider in this light the complaint by the nationalist/skeptical Algerian Berber above.  The Muslim Arabs over a period of centuries successfully managed to change the culture of the areas they conquered from having (say) Greek-speaking Catholic Christians to Arab-speaking Muslims, thereby eliminating the resistance that could have continued.  Neat trick, eh?  For example, the (formerly) Orthodox Christian Greek-speaking peasantry in Anatolia converted to Islam in the decades and centuries following the Byzantines’ loss to the invading Turks at the crucial battle of Manzikert  (1071 A.D.)  This process of assimilation received its final capstone in the aftermath of World War I when the Turks ethnically cleansed certain coastal areas of Greeks, although I believe a population exchange of a similar magnitude went the opposite direction.  

            Hence, we need not give back Indiana to the Indians because they were either driven out, killed by diseases inadvertently spread by whites from the Old World, or killed in combat:  There are no native people presently being oppressed!  (They have full equal rights under the law, which may not be much of a compensation, admittedly, for the land they lost).  So therefore we may keep what we stole!  The Spaniards need not recompense any Moors since they drove out the Muslims after completing the Reconquista in 1492.  None of them remember it personally.  That doesn’t keep some Muslims from wanting to reconquer that territory, despite their aspiration’s obvious present unrealism.  Or perhaps the group being driven out or killed, such as the millions of Germans from East Prussia, Pomerania, Sudetenland, etc., in 1945 by the Red Army or the (Communist) governments of Poland and Czechoslovakia, was deemed guilty of causing similar or worse atrocities in the recent past, so they deserve no compensation or right of return.  And once the refugees in question are settled in an area with people of a similar ethnic background, the old resentments largely fade or at least cause less trouble than the present Palestinian/Zionist Jew imbroglio. Unlike the post-World War II  German case, the Palestinians’ "brother Arabs" (beside Jordan mainly) wouldn't let them resettle among them as citizens, but kept them penned up in refugee camps as a bargaining chip against the Jews.  Rich Saudis ironically would rather import infidel Catholic Filipinos to do housework for them instead of their brother Muslim/Arab Palestinians!  It's not that Palestinians couldn’t find jobs elsewhere in the Middle East.  Overall, refugees resettled in areas with people of a similar culture normally end up mostly acquiescing to their losses, a result happening from most of the other population exchanges of the past century which aren't going to be undone, such as between India and Pakistan.  

            On the other hand, if the conquerors/imperialists either aren't sufficiently successful in assimilating the conquered or in killing off or driving away their subject people, they should be made to hand over their ill-gotten gains to whomever most recently before them took/stole that area they live in, such as the French handing over Algeria to the local Arabs/Berbers.  Since nineteenth-century style Western Imperialism wasn't around long enough to assimilate or ruthless enough to kill or drive out all the natives, these invaders deserve to be expelled in retaliation, such as the Colons in Algeria or the white farmers in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe.  To so rationalize some acts of imperialism way more than others requires some degree of historical amnesia to work!



            Does a culture's low economic and/or social development excuse its sins?  Suppose it's argued, "Well, those poor benighted Muslims, they don't know better than to be intolerant of political opposition, to oppress women, to have slaves, to uphold authoritarianism, to invade other countries, etc.  Their society hasn't modernized enough yet and they're at a lower stage of development.  So we shouldn't judge or condemn them harshly for all their human rights violations."  Pim Fortuyn, the openly homosexual Dutch politician who publicly criticized Muslim intolerance and advocated putting limits on Muslim immigration into Holland for that reason and was assassinated, correspondingly made the colorful comment that "Christianity and Judaism have gone through the laundromat of humanism and enlightenment, but that isn't the case with Islam."  As already observed above, Scripture reveals that ignorance is a factor that reduces people’s guilt (John 9:39-41; 15:22), but obviously not completely (Romans 1:18-25; 2:9-16; 3:23; Acts 17:30).  But now the tables can be dramatically and abruptly turned!  This two-edged sword now cuts up the left-winger wielding it!  Suppose someone argued back, "Those poor ignorant benighted nineteenth century and earlier Europeans and Americans:  They didn't know better  than ‘at their economic and social stage . . . [than to do] things like hang witches, murder [their] native [aborigines], own slaves, and [to] treat women as chattel.’"  If ignorance excuses Islamic civilization’s preset sins, it likewise excuses the West’s past atrocities!  After all, uncalled people who simply don’t understand or accept the teachings of Scripture would deem pacifism impractical when there are criminals to arrest and invaders to repel, thus making imperialism hard to cast aside as well.



            But why is the present Muslim civilization's guilt actually worse than the early nineteenth-century West's?   In regards to human rights, they can learn from the West’s present example!  They don't have to figure it all out from scratch themselves.  The nineteenth-century Europeans and Americans had no other superior civilization to imitate that was at a higher stage of social/political/economic development.  To illustrate further, in matters of technology, education, industrial development and political/military organization, the Japanese in the generation after the Meiji Dynasty’s restoration in 1868 progressed much faster than the Europeans had in previous decades and centuries since they could just copy the West’s practices.   

            The West figured out an antidote for its own problems, such as (for example) creating an antislavery movement in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.  Eventually the West forcibly imposed this cultural value on the more benighted regions of the world, such as in India and East Africa, where slavery had been independently practiced before the Western imperialists arrived.  For example, under the British Raj in 1860, the Indian rulers of Patiala, Jhind, and Nabha agreed to outlaw formally female infanticide, sati, and slavery.  (Lawrence James, “Raj:  The Making and Unmaking of British India,” pp. 326-27).  Although the “Christian” transatlantic slave trade swallowed up 10.5 million people, the Islamic slave trade in the Indian Ocean, Red Sea, and Sahara engulfed an estimated 17 million people from the seventh to nineteenth centuries.  As Robert Spencer commented, since the Muslim world never developed its own native abolitionist movement, “When the [Islamic] slave trade ended, it was ended not through Muslim efforts but through British military force.”  (See “Religion of Peace?:  Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t,” p. 97).  Even today, the Sudan and Mauritania still openly practice slavery while many in Niger still flout its ban on the peculiar institution.   Saudi Arabia only abolished slavery in 1962, Yemen and Oman in 1970, and Niger (theoretically) in 2004.  Islam’s actual historical record, and the present practices of Muslims enslaving black Africans in the southern Sudan, destroy the emotional impetus driving the grievances and mythology of the racist Black American Muslim movement of Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad. 

            Likewise, despite all of feminism's excesses and problems that need correction, the West’s reforms still greatly improved the treatment of women.  Enlightenment political ideology helped to curb problems such as witch hangings/burnings.  The practical issues posed by the earlier multiplication of churches after the Protestant Reformation helped to disestablish or at least defang the state churches of Europe.  But where in the Muslim world, or China, India, Japan, or Africa,  before c. 1800 were there large numbers of people or major writers and rulers feeling guilty over (say) owning slaves or mistreating women?  The West eventually slowly stumbled its way into figuring out how to fix its own problems.  What evidence is there these other civilizations ever would have done the same (if they even have yet) without having the West to copy?  Where's the Muslim “Wilberforce” that wanted to abolish slavery in the Muslim world?  Where’s the Muslim “John Stuart Mill” concerned about the oppression of Muslim women?  Where’s the Muslim Voltaire so concerned about tolerance and political repression?  Similarly, did Muslim civilization ever produce a "Las Casas" concerned about the mistreatment of the dhimmis, who criticized his fellow Spaniards during their days of imperial rule and conquest over the New World’s Indians?  That is, the West even during its worst excesses could be more self-critical about its rule than the Muslims were about jihad and the discriminatory treatment of the dhimmis.   This essay makes no attempt to make a general survey of how all religions have treated all peoples throughout history.  Rather, it targets specific false generalizations often made by Islam’s apologists, such as Islam supposedly being a "religion of peace."  Islam arguably is less a religion of peace than Catholicism!

  Now what Mustafa Kemal Ataturk did in Turkey after World War I on religious issues is deeply problematic:  As an irreligious man, he dealt with Muslims in ways like what liberal ACLU activists would want to do (or are doing) to traditional Christians here today, or like the European and Latin American anti-clericals who excessively attacked Catholicism’s rights and privileges in prior decades.  For example, why should Muslim women in Turkey be banned from wearing headscarves in government buildings and state universities?  Why should all Muslim preachers read sermons issued by the state religion ministry?  (See Robert Spencer, “Religion of Peace?,” p. 171 for the last point).  But the West unquestionably inspired him in the reforms that he imposed; they weren't his original inventions.  Since Islam lacks the kind of separate organization of religion that paralleled the state that was found in medieval Europe, it’s much harder for Muslims to disentangle their religious establishment from the political state.



            Let's take some examples of arguments used whitewash Islamic civilization's problems that Muslims and secular liberal academics would reject as terrible howlers if adopted by Catholics or defenders of the West.  For example, if World War I's terrible and needless death toll is said to be (traditional) Christianity’s fault despite this war wasn’t started for religious reasons, why isn't the Iraq-Iran war of the 1980's a failure of Islam then?  Suppose someone claims the conflicts between Chinese and (Muslim) Malays in Malaysia are economic in nature, and thus not the fault of Islam.  In response, someone could write off the Troubles in Northern Ireland as the result of economic discrimination by the Protestants versus the Catholics, the results of  Medieval/Early Modern English imperialism, or the (secular) IRA’s nationalist quest for “One Ireland.”  They would not be the “fault” of traditional Christianity then.  Likewise, to the extent Muslims discriminate against women because they are perpetuating seventh-century Arabian customs, Islam has been said not to be at fault because these customs originate from the pagan Arabian tribal customs.  Similarly, another Muslim apologist, an actual Muslim, explained away a certain war or atrocity by saying political motives, not religious ones, caused it.  Suppose someone says past Western sins, such as the mistreatment of women, slavery, imperialism, and dictatorial governments, occurred at a lower stage of socio-economic development, so Islamic civilization’s similar sins at a similar level of modernization in more recent decades shouldn’t be denounced.  If ignorance (i.e., a lower level of social/political/economic development/modernization) excuses Islam's present human rights violations, it also excuses the West's past sins.  Yet, how many leftist intellectuals get upset about the West’s past sins, and couldn’t bear to stop heatedly denouncing them?  Critics of the West either would have to either stop condemning the West's past sins or start condemning Islamic civilization's present ones with equal force, passion, and vehemence.  And when moral equivalency confronts us, the natural response should be to pull back, and say the harsh denunciations should be dropped even as sin shouldn't be condoned or denied (cf. John 8:3-11; Matt. 7:1-5; Romans 2:1-3).  What's your choice?  So all these scholarly whitewash arguments for Islam merely make the West’s intelligentsia into codependent enablers, who hinder Islam from reforming from within, by muting criticism of Islamic civilization’s problems and so ruthlessly hating their own civilization’s sins without any sense of balance and proportion.




As a general principle, let’s consider a test for the apologetic political and historical arguments made for Islam in light of the “William F. Buckley” (WFB) technique for refuting many liberal arguments.  Although it’s simple in principle and it doesn’t require deep expert knowledge of a subject to execute, it can produce truly devastating rebuttals:  1.  Take a particular liberal argument that’s vulnerable to this technique due to its form (i.e., organization) and inconsistency with other positions liberals uphold.  2. Insert conservative counter-examples for the liberal specifics.  3.  Observe liberals would find that recast argument totally intolerable or absurd based on their own ideology.  For example, recently Karl Rove used this method in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal concerning the U.S. Supreme Court justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s speech that said a “wise Latina woman” likely could make better judicial decisions than a white man.  As Rove observed, if the words “wise Latina woman” and “white man” were switched in that speech, and a white man had spoken them instead, his public career in politics would be over.  But, of course, she’s going to get a “pass,” because liberals uphold a double standard concerning racist comments when minority group members make them.


Now, let’s apply this technique to a standard series of arguments made to whitewash Islam’s history and human rights record.  For example, it has said that it’s unbalanced to attack the Islamic world’s problems so much, such as in this essay:  “I would like it if you spread your criticisms to the rest of the world's societies throughout history rather than focusing on Muslim ones.”  But now, let’s apply the WFB technique, insert a different counter-example, and turn around this argument for a response:  “I would like it if you spread your criticisms to the rest of the world's societies throughout history rather than focusing on [modern Israeli] ones.”  After all, isn’t it unbalanced when with little prompting someone can give easily a passionate speech denouncing modern Zionism lasting some 60-90 minutes, but if the same person is reminded about the far worse atrocity of the Turkish genocide against the Armenians during and after World War I, it’s quickly dismissed as a problem that occurred too many years ago to be given much weight. 


So then, can the Muslim apologist come up with an argument that says this essay pays too attention to the Muslim world’s past and present human rights problems that can’t be refuted using the WFB technique?  How was this argument replied to?  The response was that the Palestinian Arab refugee problem still exists and also threatens the peace of the world presently, but the Armenian genocide is no longer a problem, and therefore it doesn’t warrant much attention.  But this fig leaf of an argument barely covers up the nakedness of the bias being committed.  After all, much like Muslims generally are fixated about the Crusades that ended over 700 years ago, liberals and leftists in general are typically obsessed with the past sins of the West and “Christendom.”  They condemn with passion the West’s imperialism and past treatment of black slaves, the ethnic cleansing of the Indians, the oppression of women, etc., with gusto despite those problems are “in the past” as well.  So then, why should the Armenian genocide be dismissed as irrelevant since it is in the past, but the West’s past imperialism is a continually source of passionate emotional condemnations?  Either both should be condemned with passion today, or neither.  But of course, if both sides accuse each other of bias, and say each other is unbalanced in his criticisms about past human rights violations, and neither side intends to change:  Well,we might as well as call it a day, drop that particular charge, and hit the beach.


Of course, I have own separate reason for focusing heavily on the Islamic world’s sins.  In this context, consider Rush Limbaugh’s response to the general national media’s liberal bias and their charges about his conservative bias is, “I am equal time!”  This essay focuses on the flaws in a prevailing scholarly consensus about the Islamic world’s problems that labors mightily to whitewash, minimize, and deny them, while amplifying the same problems in the West’s history.  It aims merely to provide some balance in perspective against the prevailing paradigm that upholds the opposite viewpoint.   


Let’s now apply the WFB technique to this standard apologetic argument for Islam, which attributes Muslims’ atrocities and human rights problems to something other than their religious identity or motivations, but to some other motivation, personal identity, cultural inheritance, or role in society.  For example, it was argued that the 1683 siege of Vienna by the Ottomans had nothing to do in causing later nineteenth century imperialism, but was simply a geopolitical rivalry between the Habsburgs and the Turks.  It is argued that it is an error to call such wars “jihads,” even when Muslim leaders may use the term to get an advantage. But, of course, the Turkish Sultan Mehmet IV proclaimed a jihad in the July of 1683, and then his grand Vizier laid siege to the city with 150,000 men. Should we doubt Mehmet’s sincerity, that he wasn’t fighting for Allah also, not just for his empire’s territory and prestige?  Correspondingly, on the other hand, often anything traditional Christians or Catholics do that’s wrong, is disproportionately blamed on their religious identity solely or mainly.  This kind of argument also dismisses the idea that people can be seriously motivated by religious beliefs, which is a standard misconception secular people have about religious people in general.  Furthermore, orthodox Marxists will deny that people are motivated by ideas rather than by economics and the material organization of society.  This argument also assumes that governments and people can’t have multiple motives for their policies and actions.  But can’t sometimes self-interest and religious motivation favor the same decisions?  Hence, suppose a would-be Catholic or traditional Christian apologist chose to blame any and all atrocities and wars waged by his fellow believers on their nationality identity or desires for power and gold.  For example, then the Catholicism of Cortez and Pizarro shouldn’t be blamed per se for anything they did against the Aztecs and Incas, since they were motivated by mainly by the desire for gold, glory, and land, not the desire to convert the natives.  “Catholics,” as “Catholics,” didn’t kill the Indians, but greedy, land hungry, glory-seeking Spaniards did.  So then, if Western history was consistently reinterpreted in the same way, wouldn’t liberal academics and Muslims denounce it as an outrageous whitewash?  So why then do these same people accept these same kinds of bad arguments when used to whitewash Islamic history?


Let’s apply the WFB tactic again to another argument used to whitewash Islam while simultaneously darkening the West’s record:  Liberals passionate denounce how religious minorities, women, slaves, etc., were treated in the past by the West 150 years ago.  Well, now, Islam not only had these problems back then, but also has them right now.  If the liberals are really concerned about human rights, why aren’t they denouncing the Islamic world’s sins (past and present) with the same level of seething rage, outbursts of fury, and righteous indignation that they reserve for the West’s?  Much like Sotomayor’s “wise Latina woman” comment, why does the Islamic world get a pass?


Ibn Warraq has written a book-length rebuttal (“Defending the West”) against Edward Said’s “Orientalism,” which among liberal academics is the leading source of the idea that Western criticisms of Islam are “racist.”  (Robert Irwin’s “For the Lust of Knowing” is another general attack on Edward Said’s general viewpoint).  So let’s now apply the WFB technique again here, in order to blow to bits the general view drawn ultimately from Said’s claims.  Clearly, both Christianity and Islam accept people of any nationality, race, and ethnicity as adherents.  So can any criticism of Christianity as Christianity, no matter how unfair, how wrong, how ignorant, how stupid, ever be “racist”?  Are Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris, “the new Atheists,” “racist” for attacking Christianity?  Can any Muslim criticisms of Christianity ever be deemed to be “racist”?  Likewise, could any Christian criticisms of Islam ever be “racist”?   If not, then no criticism of Islam per se, no matter how unfair, how wrong, how ignorant, how stupid, can ever be “racist.”  After all, criticisms of a RELIGION as a religion, such as its ideas, teachings, and theology, aren’t per se criticisms of a particular ethnic group or race.  This laughable misdefinition of the word “racism” apparently holds most liberal academics in the field of Islamic history in its grip.  This redefinition is obviously designed to shut down and shout down conservative Christian and Jewish criticisms of Islam as a religion.  So then, when the WFB technique so easily blows up standard liberal and Muslim apologetical arguments about Islamic history and human rights problems, shouldn’t we adopt a general suspicion about all the general conclusions that liberal academics draw in this discipline of study?



            If a religion’s adherents act immorally out of economic or political motives, and/or from following traditional tribal customs, does that mean their religion is innocent?  Suppose a Catholic apologist adopted a version of this argument for his own purposes:  Could Muslims and/or agnostic liberal academics accept the consequences?  For example, stereotypically, the Conquistadors who successfully invaded and destroyed the Aztec and Inca Empires were motivated by "God, gold, and glory."  Suppose a Catholic apologist said, "The Conquistadors acted primarily out of a desire for wealth, not out of a desire to persecute (i.e., stop) Indians engaged in (in the Aztec situation) human sacrifices and cannibalism."  So if Pizarro and Cortez, and the non-clerical Spaniards who followed in their wake in the decades following their conquests, were mainly motivated by the desire for silver, gold, and land, does that mean Catholicism isn’t responsible for the exploitation and enslavement of the Indians by the Spanish?  Of course, we have some exceptions here, such as the work by Las Casas and many in the Dominican order to put some restrictions on how much the Spanish Creoles could exploit the Indians.  The Spanish crown ended up in the ironic position of, after having sent out its settlers and soldiers to conquer the Indians, of becoming their (at least officially) main protector of the native population against the worst acts of brutality and exploitation by the Creoles.  But that still leads to the question:  If Muslims in Indonesia and Malaysia are in conflict against their more financially successful Chinese neighbors out of envy or the desire for (their?) wealth, isn’t their faith failing to restrain their actions?  Is it even being used to justify their actions?  Are they bad Muslims for failing to obey the Golden Rule, which appears in Chinese philosophy but not in the Quran? 

            Suppose a traditional Christian apologist said, "World War I [1914-18] doesn't represent a failure of Christianity because that war was fought for nationalistic and political reasons.  After all, it had no religious causes, unlike for the beginning phase of the Thirty Years War [1618-48]."  Could even Catholicism’s responsibility for the Spanish Inquisition be similarly excused?  According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Sixtus IV in 1478 authorized Catholic rulers to name inquisitors.  But when they were so severe, such as dealing with the Marranos, the apparent Jewish converts to Christianity, Sixtus IV felt the need to interfere:  "But the Spanish crown now had in its possession a weapon too precious to give up, and the efforts of the Pope to limit the powers of the Inquisition were without avail."  Furthermore, financial motives arose that favored prosecution, since the Inquisition would confiscate the condemned heretic's property. So then, suppose we said the Spanish Inquisition was more about the political and financial goals of the early modern Spanish state's monarchy than about enforcing religious uniformity in Spain for purely doctrinal reasons?  (That judgment might not be wrong on balance, pending further research).  So then, does the failure of the Inquisitors to turn the cheek, to love their neighbors as themselves, etc., represent a failure of Christianity?  Or can we just blame the Spanish monarchy, even though they were good Catholics, since the Church’s hierarchy had its misgivings and its monarchs may (?) have acted largely out of non-doctrinal financial and political reasons?   

            So what part of a person's and/or culture's identity do we blame when they sin?  If we blame power politics as motivated by an evil human nature, then we can't morally judge and condemn the "Christian" West’s sins any more than any other civilization's. For example, if we blame terrorism on something in Arab culture that's separate from their religious identity, then this apologetic technique could easily be used to whitewash the sins of Protestants and Catholics throughout the centuries. And could religiously skeptical academics and Muslims accept that result? Suppose, for example, we blamed the Crusades in part on a desire by semi-barbarian "Franks" to raid the wealth of and take land from a superior and richer civilization in the Middle East? (This characterization is at least partially true).  So then, could all the nasty things that traditional Christians did in this or that situation be blamed on their economic motives or ethnic identity as separated from their religious identity, thus letting Christianity off the hook?

            So then, if the Muslims in Malaysia and Indonesia fail to treat their Chinese neighbors fairly, is that a failure of Islam?  Is it a failure of Islam to subordinate Muslim women so harshly in many cases?   If it's said, "No, they aren’t," then to be consistent all sorts of actions by traditional Christians down through the centuries could be similarly excused, at least in part, including the Crusades, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the Conquistadors, and nineteenth-century European imperialism, perhaps even the Spanish Inquisition.  Can Muslims live with that?  Could liberal academics accept that consequence?  This method of excusing Muslims or Islam could be adopted by traditional Christian apologists as well.  Just say their faith's adherents acted out of financial or political motivations, not religious ones.  The latter would just plug in different atrocities, failures, or sins, and, voila, Christendom/the West is off the hook as well! 



            An apologist for Islam will claim the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan under the Taliban are or were aberrations, that this stems from traditional Pashtun tribal codes or Arab culture being imposed on them, not Islamic values.  But what in the Quran, Hadith, or Sharia would has restrained the Taliban against treating women so harshly?  If we blame traditional tribal culture for Islam’s mistreatment of women, then why don't we blame traditional European culture rather than the Church for the witchcraft trials in the Middle Ages?  Likewise, there’s the claim about past medieval European women being treated as chattel just like today’s Muslim women in many nations are.


            But now the actual history of western European family structure in the medieval period needs examination when equating the oppression of past Western women with present Muslim women.  To be more specific, just how mistreated were Medieval Western European peasant women compared to present-day Muslim women?  Female peasants as adults in Western European villages actually had a lot of freedom to choose their own mates.  Since their parents didn’t put them into arranged marriages as prepubescent children, a very common practice in much of the Islamic world even today, it’s problematic to claim Western peasant women were merely "chattel."   Furthermore, in cases like Renaissance Italy, the richer married Patrician women also still owned their dowries.  James Q. Wilson, in The Moral Sense, pp. 200-207, usefully describes the differences between Western European and other family systems, and the consequences for the former’s eventually giving women more freedom and respect.  For example, Pope Alexander III confirmed through decretals the consensual theory of marriage, under which a man and woman of the proper age agreed to marry each other.  He elsewhere also rejected parental consent as being necessary, which reduced the influence of family, clans, and lineages on the selection of marriage partners.  Also, if the church wanted people to be able to choose to become celibate nuns, monks, and priests, the church had to allow individuals to reject arranged marriages in order to go into the regular or secular clergy. The general rhetoric here that condemns the West’s past treatment of women clearly needs qualification.  For once society outside of the elite discards arranged marriages of young children, much of the worst oppression of women necessarily goes by the wayside eventually. 

            As opposed to pursuing Western feminists’ recriminations over the distant European past, let’s turn now to what the Sharia and/or conservative Islam presently imposes on Muslim women.  According to their religious teaching, men generically are better than women, in part because they are expected to support them financially (Quran, 4:34, Rodwell translation):  “Men are superior to women on account of the qualities with which God hath gifted the one above the other, and on account of the outlay they make from their substance for them.  Virtuous women are obedient.”  A son’s inheritance should be twice the size of a daughter’s (Quran, 4:11).  One man’s witness in court is worth the same as two women’s (Quran, 2:282).  Each man may have up to four wives lawfully, or have slave girls (Quran, 4:3).  Because it’s so hard for a polygamous husband to treat his multiple wives equally without jealousy developing, polygamy inevitably lowers the average level of marital satisfaction as well.  A Muslim man may also marry non-Muslim women, but Muslim women may not marry unbelievers.  By contrast, how many husbands could one Muslim woman have?  Child marriages, which inevitably lead to much older husbands dominating their teenage or younger wives, are common in the Islamic world.  This practice of statutory rape (when it concerns girls under 16 being forced into arranged marriages) is sanctioned even in the Quran (65:4), where it includes girls who haven’t yet menstruated.  No less than four male witnesses are required to convict a man for rape (Quran 24:13), which means in practice none ever will be.  Consequently, as Robert Spencer notes, “Men can commit rape with impunity:  As long as they deny the charge and there are no witnesses, they will get off scot-free, because the victim’s testimony is inadmissible.”  Worse still, all charges of rape by a woman are tantamount to a public admission of adultery.  Many women who were raped end up in prison themselves, after being charged with committing adultery.  Perhaps 75% of women imprisoned in Pakistan are in fact rape victims convicted under such kangaroo court proceedings.  (See generally Robert Spencer, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), pp. 67-76).  Today in Saudi Arabia, women may not drive, appear in court without a man representing them, or go abroad without getting permission from a male guardian.  In one recent court case, a married couple’s marriage was arbitrarily annulled by a judge, thus immediately requiring the two to live apart under the desert kingdom’s strict gender separation laws.  In another case, King Abdullah pardoned a rape victim who was convicted and sentenced to lashes and jail time.  What was her “crime”?  She was in a car with a man who wasn’t her relative.  (Donna Abu-Nasr, “Ordeal illustrate Saudi legal flaws,” Detroit News, January 21, 2008, p. 9A).  Now, suppose an apologist for Catholicism said much of the mistreatment of women in Medieval Europe stemmed from Germanic or traditional customs, and wasn’t intrinsically part of Catholic Christian teaching.  Wouldn’t liberal feminists hysterically denounce that reasoning? 


            According to Muslim teaching, husbands may beat disobedient wives (Quran, 4:34):  “But chide those for whose refractoriness ye have cause to fear; remove them into beds apart, and scourge them (in the Dawood translation, ‘beat them’); but if they are obedient to you, then seek not occasion against them.”  (See also these hadiths with similar teachings:  Abu Dawud, book 11, no. 2141, 2142; Bukhari, vol. 7, book 77, no. 5825; Muslim, book 4, no. 2127).  On his Web site, Robert Spencer carefully examined sura 4:34’s key phrase.  The key word in Arabic is وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ, “waidriboohunna.”  So many of the various translators of the Quran render it in ways Muslim moderates find uncomfortable:  “Pickthall: “and scourge them,” Yusuf Ali: “(And last) beat them (lightly),” Al-Hilali/Khan: “(and last) beat them (lightly, if it is useful),” Shakir: “and beat them,” Sher Ali: “and chastise them,” Khalifa: “then you may (as a last alternative) beat them,” Arberry: “and beat them,” Rodwell: “and scourge them,” Sale: “and chastise them,” Asad: “then beat them.”  All the inserted parentheses here show these translators were often embarrassed enough by the verse’s straightforward meaning to insert some editorializing and/or commentary.  Although Laleh Bakhtiar translates the key phrase as “go away from them,” why should we believe all these other translators before her got it wrong?  Asad does cite traditions in which Muhammad forbids the beating of women, but these obviously conflict with those hadiths which accept the practice.   In his commentary Ruhul Ma’ani, Sheikh Syed Mahmud Allusi presents four reasons for when a husband may beat his wife: “If she goes out of the house without a valid excuse,” “if she refuses to beautify herself for him,” if she denies him sex after he requested it, and if she won’t perform ritual ablutions or pray.  Consider then the implications of Muhammad’s own personal example in this controversy.  If he is an (Quran 33:21) “excellent example of conduct”, his personal example is normative for Muslims in the same way Jesus’ is for Christians (cf. I Peter 2:21; I John 2:6).  Despite she was his favorite wife, Aisha did report that Muhammad once struck her for a minor offense.  He went out one night after thinking she was asleep.  She then followed him secretly.  After Muhammad spotted her, “He struck me on the chest which caused me pain, and then said: Did you think that Allah and His Apostle would deal unjustly with you?”  The claims that Quran 4:34 refers to mere “tapping” or something equivalent not only discounts hadiths allowing for wife beating, but to be proven would require a systematic examination of the historical interpretation of this text by past classical and present conservative commentators on the Quran, and systematic language studies of how the Quran and Arabic elsewhere use this word.  Moderate Muslims’ denials that this verse doesn’t authorize wife beating don’t constitute sufficient proof by themselves.


            So if conservative Muslims can easily cite the Quran, the Hadiths, and/or the Sharia (Islam’s traditional law), in order to mistreat or discriminate against women in various ways, what are the general implications for marital behavior by Muslim husbands when they live in the cultural/ideological matrix shaped by them?  Because of the legally inferior status that women have in many Muslim countries, and the entrenched social practice of arranged marriages (i.e., women forced to submit sexually and otherwise to near strangers in many cases), the average state of marriages in Muslim countries would be worse than Western ones, although the lack of reliable statistical data on abuse makes this qualitative comparison rather difficult to prove.  What’s the likely origin of qualitative problems in many Muslim marriages?  Since the just-married husband and wife often hardly know each other, they emotionally and psychologically aren’t prepared to comfortably become so physically intimate with one another so abruptly.  At this moment, the Muslim groom also is likely obsessed over whether or not his bride is actually a virgin.  Routinely the wedding guests will wait around until the couple display a bloodstained sheet after their (often reluctantly performed) act of consummation is completed.  Ayaan Hirsi Ali (“The Caged Virgin,” p. 24) analyzes the first act of marriage’s poor emotional circumstances and its consequences:  “This compulsory coupling is in fact a socially sanctioned rape as well as a blatant denial of the worth of the individual.  A marriage is never simple, but a Muslim marriage begins at the very outset with a sign of mistrust, followed by an act of force.  It is in this atmosphere of mistrust and force that the next generation of children is born and brought up.”  Having reviewed how this marital environment often produces deep emotional and psychological problems, are any statistics available to illustrate the levels of abuse in Muslim nations’ marriages?  For example, Spencer (“Politically Incorrect Guide,” p. 71) cites an Amnesty International report saying that the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences has determined that over 90 percent “of Pakistani wives have been struck, beaten, or abused sexually—[including] for offenses on the order of cooking an unsatisfactory meal.”  It’s naïve to conclude that the relative rarity of divorce in Muslim countries compared to developed Western nations proves the former’s relative level of marital satisfaction exceeds the latter’s when social conformity and family pressures help keep bad Muslim marriages together more than equivalent relationships would be preserved in the West.


            The custom of child marriage is naturally associated with physical abuse, as Spencer (“Politically Incorrect Guide,” p. 69) notes.  Consider carefully the potential psychological dynamics of a large age/experience gap between a husband and wife, and its consequences in practical terms on marital power relationships.  A much older adult husband may discipline his much younger dependent wife when she disobeys him the same way he’d spank one of his children.  He won’t naturally see her as a soul mate and equal companion in life worthy of deep respect, but as a child who mainly needs to learn from him.  Just like arranged marriages, this practice is common in the Muslim world.  Over half the teenage girls in Afghanistan and Bangladesh are married.  Legally in Iran a girl aged 9 may marry with parental consent, and aged 13 without, but boys have to wait until age 14.  The Ayatollah Khomeini said that marrying a girl before she menstruated was a “divine blessing.”  After all, he himself married a ten-year-old girl when he was twenty-eight.  He also advised fathers:  “Do your best to ensure that your daughters do not see their first blood in your house.”  In Iran, pedophiles sometimes have exploited these low marriage ages by marrying poor provincial girls, using them, and then abandoning them.  Suppose Muslim men ask themselves “WWMD?” (see sura 33:21) concerning child marriage and how they should follow their ultimate Prophet’s own personal example.  They may recall that Muhammad himself “married” Abu Bakr’s daughter Aisha when she possibly was six years old before waiting to consummate their relationship when she was nine.  True, this union’s obvious, politically transparent end was to solidify his alliance with the man who later became his successor, the first caliph.  Nevertheless, by present standards, wasn’t then Muhammad a pedophile?  (Spencer, “Religion of Peace?,” p. 187; “Politically Incorrect Guide,” p. 69).   Spencer here also cites Andrew Bushell, “Child Marriage in Afghanistan and Pakistan, “America,” March 11, 2002, 12, as saying:  “In Egypt 29 percent of married adolescents have been beaten by their husbands; of those, 41 percent were beaten during pregnancy.  A study in Jordan indicated that 26 percent of reported cases of domestic violence were committed against wives under 18.”  Plainly marriages between such physically unequal partners is a recipe making for a low quality of marital satisfaction larded up with plenty of abuse.


            The Hadiths have other harsh strictures for women, such as requiring Muslim wives to submit to their husbands’ sexual demands:  “Allah’s Messenger said, ‘If a husband calls his wife to his bed (i.e., to have sexual relations) and she refuses and causes him to sleep in anger, the angels will curse her till morning.”  (This hadith appears in many other places besides Bukhari, vol. 4, book 59, no. 3237).  Al-Ghazzali, the great orthodox eleventh-century Islamic theologian, similarly affirmed:  “She [the Muslim wife] always puts her husband’s rights ahead of her own and that of her family.  She is neat and clean and is always prepared to let him enjoy her sexually.” (As quoted in Ayaan Hirsi Ali, “The Caged Virgin:  An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam,” pp. 24-25).  Consequently, this stipulation became entrenched into Islamic law (‘Umdat al-Salik, m11.9):  “The husband is only obliged to support his wife when she gives herself to him or offers to, meaning  she allows him full enjoyment of her person and does not refuse him sex at any time of the night or day.”  According to Islamic law, husbands may forbid their wives to leave the home and to not leave their home city without their husbands or unmarriageable kin accompanying her, unless it’s an obligatory journey such as the hajj to Mecca. (See ‘Umdat al-Salik, m10.4, m10.3; this Shafi’i legal manual, endorsed by the highly prestigious Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, is available in English as “Reliance of the Traveller:  A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law”:  Amana Publications, 1994, translated by Nuh Ha Mim).  Al-Ghazzali also confirmed this teaching:  “The well brought up woman . . . doesn’t leave the house, except with his [the husband’s] definite approval, and [only] then dressed in unattractive old clothes.”  (As quoted in Ayaan Hirsi Ali, “The Caged Virgin,” p. 25).   Consequently, according to Amnesty International, Saudi women who walk alone or in the company of men who aren’t their husbands or close relatives, risk arrest for prostitution or other “moral” offenses.  (See generally Spencer, “Politically Incorrect Guide, p. 71).  Good Muslim women clearly have impositions placed on them by their religious authorities equivalent contemporary Christian authorities would consider almost unthinkable.


            Irshad Manji in "The Trouble with Islam Today" and Ayaan Hirsi Ali in "The Caged Virgin" usefully describe how Muslim women are oppressed, although both uphold views on sexual morality that conservative Christians must reject.  Pre-existing "culture" shouldn’t be used to rationalize, excuse, and/or justify the treatment of women in the Muslim world.  This apologetic method operates by selectively picking out of someone's cultural identity one attribute of several.  Islam is then excused by blaming pre-existing culture, which ignores Islam’s failure to change pre-existing culture while it even helps to perpetuate the worst abuses.  For example, for many, many centuries Islamic culture in Egypt and neighboring lands accepted and promoted female genital mutilation despite it isn’t a specifically commanded Islamic ritual in the Quran or Hadith.  One Islamic legal manual (‘Umdat al-Salik, e4.3), however, says circumcision is required “for both men and women.”  Sheikh Muhammad Sayyed Tantai, the sheikh and grand imam of Al-Azhar University, called this anatomical butchery “a laudable practice that [does] honor to women.”  Tantai’s position is perhaps the closest equivalent to a “Pope” that Islam produce, for it makes him the highest earthly religious authority for around a billion Sunni Muslims.  He’s obviously oblivious to this custom’s barbarity, which is transparently designed to strip a woman of sexual pleasure. (See Spencer, “Politically Incorrect Guide,” pp. 76-77).   Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who wrote the autobiographical book "Infidel," was herself a victim of “female circumcision.”  According to the 2005 Demographic Health Survey, about 95% of Egyptian women have been victimized by female genital mutilation.  This human rights problem intrinsically beats anything the Zionists have done to the Palestinians since 1948.  To its credit, the Egyptian government has recently begun to seriously attack “female circumcision,” but it faces deep entrenched opposition to change.  Well, better late than never!


            Honor killings (or “female lynchings”) also are deeply entrenched in Islamic culture despite, again, the core Islamic texts don’t authorize them.  Because the Arab Muslim “desert” culture values honor and avoiding shame far more than mercy and individual responsibility, women whose behavior “dishonors” their family may be killed in order to eliminate such blotches on their family’s escutcheon.  Because a terrible culture of sexual jealousy rules the mentalities of so many Muslim men, they chronically and obsessively fear their wives’ sexual unfaithfulness.  Hirsi Ali (“The Caged Virgin,” p. 24) portrays well their polluted marital atmosphere:  A Muslim man’s mistrust of women only intensifies after the wedding day’s sexual union.  After penetrating the bride’s hymen, he lacks a ready way to check with certainty his wife’s fidelity.  Consequently, he solves this problem by denying her access to the outside world as much as possible and by insisting that she gets his permission before she ever steps outside.  Hirsi Ali (“The Caged Virgin,” p. xi) analyzes insightfully the cultural origins of obsessive male sexual jealousy and how their chronic distrust stifles women’s freedom within their families, which then retards Muslim nations from developing economically and socially: 


Islam is strongly dominated by a sexual morality derived from tribal Arab values dating from the time the Prophet [Muhammad] received his instructions from Allah, a culture in which women were the property of their fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, or guardians.  The essence of a woman is reduced to her hymen.  Her veil functions as a constant reminder to the outside world of this stifling morality that makes Muslim men the owners of women and obliges them to prevent their mothers, sisters, aunts, sisters-in-law, cousins, nieces, and wives from having sexual contact.  And we are not just talking about cohabitation.  It is an offense if a woman glances in the direction of a man, brushes past his arm, or shakes his hand.  A man’s reputation and honor depend entirely on the respectable, obedient behavior of the female members of his family.


Consequently, if Muslim women let their men folk down, they may strike back without mercy against “their loved ones” in order to protect their perceived family’s reputation.  The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimated in 2006 that in their nation around one thousand women are killed annually for honor.  When Jordan’s parliament in 2003 defeated a provision intended to raise the penalties for honor killings, al-Jazeera reported,  “Islamists and conservatives said the laws violated religious traditions and would destroy families and values.”  Let’s illustrate “female lynchings” by describing several specific cases.  In a 1999 Jordanian case, one brother pumped four bullets into his sister’s head in their living room because she had been raped and thus had “dishonored” their family.  Then consider Ali Jasib Mushiji, aged 17, who shot his half-brother and mother because he suspected they were having an affair.  He killed his four-year-old sister because he thought this liaison produced her.  He told “Time Magazine” (September 2003) that “he wiped out his family to cleanse its shame.”  In 2003, one Palestinian Arab girl, Rofayda Qaoud, was killed by her mother to “protect my family’s honor” after her daughter refused to kill herself.  Her crime?  She became pregnant after being raped by her brothers!  (See generally Spencer, “Religion of Peace?,” pp. 195-198).  Now, how’s that for “blaming the victim”!  Think about the “deterrent effects” such a terrifying custom would have on Muslim women’s behavior where it is commonly practiced, much like lynching didn’t have to be common in the South to sow deep fear and the resulting conforming behavior into many blacks living under Jim Crow.


            By contrast with all these strictures of Muslim texts, where is the pro-wife-beating verse in the Bible? What are the Biblical equivalents for the discriminatory teachings found in sura 2:223, 2:282, 4:3, 4:11; 4:34?  What about all the Hadiths, alleged sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, that promote wife beatings?  A conservative Christian should be aware that Christian men even in the Church of God can abuse Eph. 5:22-24 and I Peter 3:1-6.  Well, imagine now how carnal men in the world could abuse these Quranic verses and Hadiths to keep their women in line.  In the West, the culture changed concerning the treatment of women, but it largely hasn't in many Middle Eastern countries.  Why did this difference develop, if the West used to discriminate similarly?  Why did some kind of reform for treating women better first develop in the West, not in the Muslim World?  Why has conservative Islam been able to persist or even (in some cases) regress after some modernization/Westernization in their ill-treatment of women?  Why not simply admit that Muslim culture is inferior in this area, regardless of the reasons causing it?  Why don’t Muslims work to change conditions more, such as by ending female genital mutilation, honor killings, and child marriage?   Why do they accept, rationalize, and perpetuate their bad cultural inheritance?  Where's their John Stuart Mill or Mary Wollstonecraft?  If the West changed their treatment of women, what has held back the Muslim world from doing the same?  Although he rejects the Bible as much as he does the Quran, Ibn Warraq usefully summarizes why the Islamic world, due to its treatment of women among other factors, is in a poor position to morally harangue the West (in “Why the West Is Best,” “City Journal,” Winter 2008, vol. 18, no. 1;   “A culture that gave the world the novel; the music of Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert; and the paintings of Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Rembrandt does not need lessons from societies whose idea of heaven, peopled with female virgins, resembles a cosmic brothel. Nor does the West need lectures on the superior virtue of societies in which women are kept in subjection under sharia, endure genital mutilation, are stoned to death for alleged adultery, and are married off against their will at the age of nine.”


            So now let’s examine a much deeper, more serious problem with trying to excuse Islam’s treatment women by this kind of argument, which Hirsi Ali’s comment above about Islam’s source of sexual morality touches upon.  Islam incorporated tribal Arab culture, as found in the Sharia, the Quran, the Hadiths, etc., into being an intrinsic, inescapable part of that religion.  For example, translating the Quran into other languages and praying the five daily prayers in another language besides Arabic are prohibited or discouraged.  By contrast, could someone find a Christian claiming that no one can be a good Christian unless he or she could read Greek and pray in Greek (or Aramaic, Jesus' main language)?  For example, the Catholic church was content to preach the gospel in the native Indian languages of Mexico (such as Nahuatl) and Peru (such as Quechua) for about two centuries after the Spanish conquest.  (See Nicholas Ostler, “Empires of the Word:  A Language History of the World,” pp. 365-377).  This difference makes Islam intrinsically a less universal, more ethnically bound religion than Christianity is, and thus ironically more like Judaism.  Western Christian missionaries have been criticized for trying to Europeanize or Westernize their Third World converts.  How much more should Islamic missionaries be criticized for trying to “Arabize” their converts!


            The liberal Muslim writer Irshad Manji, by being an Asiatic Indian whose family fled from Idi Amin's Uganda to take up residence in Canada, can more readily examine with a cold, detached, critical eye the Arab cultural influence on Islam, past and present.  In The Trouble with Islam Today (pp. 140-41), she writes about Islam’s deep incorporation of Arab culture: 

Seems to me that in Islam, Arab cultural imperialists compete with God for the mantel of the Almighty.  The Koran insists that “to God belongs the east and the west.  Whichever way you turn there is the face of God.”  Why, then must Muslims bow to Mecca five times a day?  Isn't that a sign of being desert-whipped?  Call me superficial, but desert tribalism can be detected even in what Muslims are often instructed to wear.  Millions of Muslim women outside of Arabia, including the West, veil themselves.  They accept that it's an act of spiritual submission.  It's closer to cultural capitulation.  Do you know where Iranian women got the design for their post-revolutionary chadors--the ones that don't let you reveal a wisp of hair?  From a mullah who led Shias in Lebanon.  Now that's a heavy-duty import.  While the Koran requires the Prophet's wives to veil, it never decrees such a practice for all women.  Why, indeed, should it?  Veils protect women from sand and heat--not exactly a pressing practical concern beyond Arabia, Saharan Africa, and the Australian outback.  This means I could wear a turtle neck and baseball cap to meet the theological requirements of dressing modestly.  To cover my face because “that's what I'm supposed to do” is nothing short of a brand victory for desert Arabs, whose style has become the most trusted symbol of how to package yourself as a Muslim woman. . . . To parrot the desert peoples in clothing, in language, or in prayer is not necessarily to follow the universal God.  [The contrast here with universalizing Christianity as taught by Paul in Galatians 3:28-29 should be obvious--EVS]. . . . These myths have turned non-Arab Muslims into clients of their Arab masters--patrons who must buy what's being sold to them in the name of Islamic “enlightenment.”

 At one North American university, when she spoke out about her liberal views on the subjects of gays, God, and the three monotheistic faiths, the local Muslim Students Association's members confronted her by standing during her entire presentation.  During the Q and  A session, one member caused tension within his own group’s ranks by shouting out (p. 135):  "Why the difference in practice? . . . Because Pakistanis are not real Muslims.  They're converts.  Islam was revealed to the Arabs."  Likewise, conservative Muslims repeatedly challenged her spiritual credentials on purely ethnic grounds when criticizing her liberal Muslim views on her controversial TV show.  One letter from a "Proud Arab" insulted her liberal views on the "logical" basis that an "Indian peasant" would have no understanding of Islam.  Hmmm.  What would Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad have thought of this line of argument, had they known about it, before they became Black Muslims?  Has Islam really been more free of racism or ethnic pride than traditional Christianity?

            Conservative Islam froze into place seventh-century Arab tribal culture into Islam’s DNA, and then attempts to impose it on converts from other nations up to the present day.  This resulted from the Sunni view of the Sharia, in which the "gates of ijtihad," or free interpretation of the authoritative texts of Islam (the Quran and the Hadith) for the basis of Islamic law, closed in the ninth century.  Hence, conservative Muslims don't feel free to "update" or "reform" their incredibly detailed legal system, which is on a par with the legalistic Talmudic regulation of Jewish daily life.  Manji, in "The Trouble with Islam Today," explains this problem in detail.  She calls for the opening of these gates, but the imams and sheiks running (say) Al-Azhar in Cairo are no more open to that suggestion than the Vatican is to (say) suggestions that birth control should be legalized and women should be freely ordained as priests.  To reform Islam's view of the treatment of women, or their views imposing unequal political treatment on believers of other faiths, for example, would require rejecting a significant part of the Sharia, which is based on the Quran and purported sayings of Muhammad (the Hadith).  Hence, the Bedouin tribal values that oppress women (they have to be totally controlled against possibly sexual unfaithfulness in order to keep up their family's good name publicly) are hardwired into Islam's DNA since they form the outlook found in the Quran and the Hadith, as interpreted and generalized in the Sharia. 


            If a Muslim apologist cites Turkey in response to prove otherwise, it's the lone exception.  Furthermore, Kemal merely copied the West, and imported Western ideology into his country.  Turkey’s cultural/political revolution wasn't an organic development to Islam.  Furthermore, since these other more backward traditional Christian nations don't unify the religious establishment and the state like Islamic societies do, these traditional Christian countries could reform without persecuting religious believers in the anticlerical/ACLU sense, by discriminating against the public expression of religious values in the public square, as Turkey does today.  After all, why should that government head scarves in its buildings?  Why should its religious ministry determine the content of sermons given in Turkey's mosques?


            True, the Middle East has a similar culture to start with compared to other nations in the Mediterranean basin in (say) the year 600 A.D.  But it's obvious that Italy has greatly changed, and even countries in the Balkans, Armenia, and Georgia are either much more modernized than, for example, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Taliban-dominated Afghanistan in their treatment of women or by other cultural measures or they are much more reformable on their own.  The traditional Christian-dominated nations of the "Pakistani-Peruvian Axis" (Quigley's term) can much more easily shed the dead weight of the pre-modern cultural values enshrined in the Sharia when compared to a Muslim country.  It's because of concepts such as "bida," under which Muslims assume all innovations are bad or evil until proven otherwise, and the gates of ijtihad being closed, that the Islamic world could never have organically generated a Renaissance, Enlightenment, or Scientific Revolution on its own.  The cultural substrate of Islam was much too hostile and sterile to generate similar fundamental intellectual changes for reform, for kinds of reasons explained well by Stanley Jaki, the philosopher of science. 






            Are the Germans thrown out of Pomerania, Silesia, Sudetenland, etc., during or just after 1945 entitled to wage war, engage in terrorism, etc., to get their land back?  How about the Greeks tossed out of Turkey after World War I (1914-1918)?  How many Chinese airliners have the Tibetans blown up?  Why is it that, in this post-colonialist, post-Cold War era (since 1992), although most Muslims are not terrorists, most terrorists are Muslims?  How oppressed were Toronto’s Muslims such as to justify a few organizing a terrorist plot, many or most of whom had been born in Canada? How poor were they, how oppressed were they, how unequal is Canada's GNI, how meddling has Canada's foreign policy been in the past hundred years, etc.?  Likewise, does Israel oppress the Palestinians in the semi-occupied territories any worse than (say) Saddam, Assad, and Fahd oppressed their respective nations’ peoples, if one uses the past half century of general conditions as a measuring stick?  Is Israel’s recent treatment of the Palestinians as second class citizens any worse than the Muslim treatment of Jews and Christians as dhimmis over the centuries?  How much Islamic terrorism (i.e., “blowback”) did the godless Communists in the Soviet Union suffer when it occupied half a dozen Muslim countries in central Asia?  Why did America, despite occupying no Muslim countries then, suffer far more blowback than the Soviet Union did?  Scott Atran, a research scientist, published in the "New York Times" (2003) his findings that suicide bombers generally had more educated and affluent personal backgrounds (SES). We have to look to religious culture and political philosophy, not just sociological/economic/political administrative causes, for terrorist activities being resorted to more commonly by some people compared those in other civilizations.  Lots of mistreated, oppressed, poor people live in this world in societies with greatly unequal incomes that could provoke envy.  But not all societies produce equally large numbers of suicide bombers.   Such sociological economic/political/military variables (i.e., input) as poverty, income inequality, political oppression, percentage of young men unemployed, recent experience with imperialism/colonialism, family size, experiences with swift and sure retaliation by the victims of terrorism, exported morally rotten media influence, etc., simply don't explain the vast differences in output (i.e., non-state terrorist activities in the post Cold War period since 1992, especially when done internationally by groups far from home) when comparing Islam's record  to China's, India's, Latin America's, Black Africa's, etc.  Marxist influence, which pervades political science's analytical work still, needs to be rejected when it denies these ideological variables have influence independent of any material means. 

            Ideas have consequences.  The Marxist paradigm that economics drives culture exclusively is simply false.  The superstructure of ideology also influences the mode of production.  The sociological, materialistic approach has its uses, but it is distinctly limited.  It has a secular bias as well.  Non-religious people have major trouble thinking faith seriously motivates religious people's actions.  This bias needs to be discarded from standard political science analyses of social movements and policy making.  Ideological variables may not be easily put into covariant regression analyses, because they have a psychological, mental reality that’s hard to quantify.  For example, how can a political scientist quantify appeasement vs. “shift and sure retaliation” as effective deterrents to terrorism?  Similarly, to what extent does the West’s cultural decadence and moral rot, as reflected in its media that’s exported around the world, set off opposition by social conservatives elsewhere in the world?  A crude means of “explaining” variations in the amount of terrorism for each nation (post-1992), however, would be to set up a covariant regression analysis using all those standard sociological variables about poverty (i.e., per capita GNP, etc.), unequal incomes (i.e., GNI), oppression (potentially quantifiable using Freedom House rankings or Amnesty International reports), recent experience with someone else's imperialism/colonialism, the unemployment rate for males 15-40 (as a stand-in for “angry young men”), etc.  As described further below, various social scientists actually have ground out such analyses, to the detriment of the thesis that ignorance (i.e., lack of education), poverty, and economic inequality are the main drivers of terrorism.  But then, add in a variable for the percentage of a nation's population that's Muslim (or has strong convictions about Islam’s relevance to politics), and then how much better the fit becomes!        

            Let's consider another way the ideological variable manifests itself when comparing Islam with other civilizations.  Both Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. led movements that deliberately chose to use non-violent methods to gain their political ends.  To resort to terrorism and guerilla warfare is an easy option for a mistreated group of people, but these exceptional men creatively chose a more ethical means to gain their political ends.  Is it conceivable for widespread political movements using non-violent methods to develop within an (oppressed) Islamic nation?  After all, such tactics would have been effective against the Israelis on the West Bank, for unlike the oppressed under Stalin and Hitler, but like the British Raj and the white Southern segregationists, the Zionists weren't going to engage in routine mass slaughters to hold onto power because of their traditions of democracy and constitutional rights. 

            What specific right-wing Christian religious leaders today advocate specifically religious military crusades?  Where are the radical Christian theorists, politicians, and terrorist leaders who are equivalents to Islamist leaders like Qutb and Khomeini?  A key point of Spencer's "Religion of Peace" is that all the traditional right-wing religious bogeymen that people like Kevin Phillips and Chris Hedges cite have far less dangerous records and aspirations than the Islamists' do.  We have all sorts of Muslim jihadists around the world engaged in terrorist activities of one kind or another based upon their interpretation of the Quran and the Hadith.  Christian leaders like Pat Robertson, James Dobson, the late Jerry Falwell, etc. lead no terrorist groups, but simply wish to restore through democratic electioneering 1950's America culturally, minus legal segregation.  Even the Reconstructionists certainly aren't looking to create a domestic theocratic bloodbath, as Spencer shows.  The empirical evidence of the world today is that the Bible, by itself, simply doesn't inspire the same level of religiously motivated violence by its believers as the Quran’s do.

            What about the Buddhist monks who killed themselves to protest Diem's regime in South Vietnam?  When they died, they didn't kill others also.  How many Muslims have done the same in Palestine and elsewhere?  Of course, Hindu civilization has produced both Gandhi and the BJP’s terrorism.  But where is the Muslim “Gandhi”?  Where is the Palestinian “Martin Luther King”?  What major political pacifist figure has appeared in Islam to off-set the actions of Muslim terrorist groups?  How much terrorism do about 1.1 billion Indians produce compared to a similar number of Muslims?  (And in India’s case, Muslim Kashmiri rebels produce much of its terrorism). A fundamental difference arises here, as Robert Spencer explains  (Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam, pp. 175, 199): 

 The frequency and commonality of such acts of violence [by adherents of any religion]--and how close they are to each religion's mainstream--is determined to a great degree by the actual teachings of each religion.  Islamic apologists like to point to Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph as examples of Christian terrorists, but there are three reasons why McVeigh and Rudolph are not equivalent to bin Laden and Zarqawi:  *They did not even attempt to justify their actions by reference to Christian Scripture and tradition. *They were not acting on mainstream Christian teachings. *There are not large Christian groups around the world dedicated to implementing the same teachings.  The difference between Osama bin Laden and Eric Rudolph is the difference between aberrant acts and aberrant teachings.  Any human being with a belief system can do abominable things.  But abominable acts are more likely to come in greater numbers and frequency when they are encouraged and perpetuated by religious texts and those who teach from them. . . . To adopt [Islamophobia as a useful analytical tool] is to accept the most virulent form of theological equivalence, and to affirm, against all the evidence, that every religious tradition is equally capable of inspiring violence.

Although Spencer is mistaken about Rudolph concerning his first bulleted point above, this comparison still holds overall.  As of this writing (2007), for example, the last American abortion clinic bombing happened about ten years ago.  (And many of them were deliberately timed to avoid killing people as opposed to destroying unoccupied business property).  Hindu civilization produces its share of terrorism, but much less than Islamic civilization, even when the sociological variables are taken into consideration.  After all, India is poor, has an unequal distribution of wealth (what country doesn't?), had recent experience with Western imperialism/colonialism, has lots of unemployed young men, etc., etc., etc., but still doesn't produce as much terrorism in percentage terms as the Arab Muslim world.  How much terrorism does India produce in percentage terms compared to a few million Arabs in Palestine?  A non-quantitative factor such as ideology has to used to explain the difference.  (And, of course, Genesis 16:11-12 does also!)  Also, are India's tax dollars being deliberately appropriated to fund terrorist activities in India or abroad, such as Iran does today and Libya did in the past?  Whether or not an official governmental policy exists in this area also speaks of a crucial difference.



            Let’s illustrate how oppressed people with different ideologies can react differently to the same general stimuli of oppression using the case of Tibet.  What's happened in the generation or more since the Chinese invasion of 1949, relative to what happened in Israel/Palestine since 1948, as a cause of continuing terrorism by non-governmental groups?  How many buildings have the Tibetans bombed in Shanghai and Beijing in recent decades?  The remoteness of the United States from the Middle East, or the imbalance in total population between the United States and any Arab country, didn't keep the 9-11 hijackers from attacking on American soil.  Have the Chinese have the Tibetans tightly controlled ala internal passports and a veritable wall like the Israelis have built against the Palestinians along the Gaza's border?  After all, the Chinese found a way to get to Tibet and control it, right?  They even found a way to invade India (northeast Assam) in 1962, which totally shocked Nehru at the time.  (Despite being one of the founders of the non-aligned movement of nations, he had trusted Mao too much).  What keeps Tibetans from getting around in China, especially if they were motivated by extreme hatred for their national enemy and desired to kill them?  (He who has a will can find a way, bad roads or not).  How much terrorism do roughly 3.5 million Palestinians produce in the semi/formerly occupied territories?  (Including, well, amongst themselves!)  If there are about 2.1 million ethnic Tibetans in Tibet itself (World Almanac, 2005), the difference in population hardly explains the difference in the amount of terrorism produced by political oppression, poverty, unequal incomes, colonialism/imperialism, “angry young men,” etc., or any other sociological variable that could be named.  After all, why aren't the Tibetans attacking the roughly half million ethnic Chinese in their midst the way the Palestinians attacked Israeli settlers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, or Jews in Israel itself?  They wouldn't have to travel far to do such suicide bombing then, right?  Furthermore, about 4 million fellow Tibetans live in nearby provinces of China.  After the latter revolted in 1956 and the revolt spread to Tibet itself by 1959, Chinese troops crushed their rebellion and almost totally suppressed Buddhism.  How much “blowback” have these acts of oppression and colonialism by China generated to date from native Tibetans?  Human nature is indeed violent, but different cultures restrain or promote this sinful tendency better than others.  Since human nature is universally evil, all men have sinned (Romans 3:23), and anyone of any religion can commit evil, does that commonality make Christianity and Islam equal in potentially producing violence from its adherents?  Are traditional Christians and Muslims, based on their respective religious beliefs separate from the materialistic, power-seeking desires of most governmental leaders to conquer new territory, equally likely to engage in moral atrocities and wars?  This generalization does not hold, for the reasons Robert Spencer elaborates at length in "Religion of Peace" and his "Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)."  It's simply blindness to believe all religions, all cultures, all nations are equally politically violent by tradition, or would be equally likely to resort to abominable tactics to gain political freedom.  The end doesn't justify the means.

            What is it about Islamic culture in general, and the Arab Islamic culture in particular, that produces an extremist minority that so willingly undertakes such disproportionate responses?  If Israel's recent war against Hezbollah in Lebanon was disproportionate and thus morally condemnable, the same goes even more for any terrorist activities by the mistreated aimed at the oppressor nation’s civilians.  Consider the comfortable middle class or at least working class backgrounds of many of the suspects in the recent terrorist plots exposed in the Toronto area of Canada and in Britain, as well as the prior bombings in London:  Why do these people hate their own societies when they themselves personally have experienced relatively little mistreatment in "the House of War"?   All these Muslim terrorist plots that keep getting exposed or even become operational in the United States, Canada, Britain, etc., are further evidence of this problem.  Some ethnic Albanians, for example, recently wanted to launch an assault on Fort Dix.  (Some thanks we got from them for bailing out the Kossovars from the tender mercies of the Serbs, eh?)  Just how  poor, oppressed, mistreated, etc., etc., etc., are these Western Muslim plotters?  Did the Toronto Muslims suffer such terrible agony from having lower incomes than the rich in their country that their envy made them lash out by planning to behead the Canadian prime minister?  Remember, Canada is a county that punishes Christians who criticize publicly Muslims too harshly under hate law provisions.  A Muslim apologist can’t just stop by claiming explaining that a history of the personal experience of oppression and imperialism motivates all Islamic terrorist activities, when that explanation may fit well (say) the Chechens against the Russians, but obviously doesn’t explain the the Western Muslim terrorist plots as well.  Sociological variables alone don't explain why (say) aggrieved Tibetans haven't blown up skyscrapers in Shanghai, but British-born Muslims wish to blow up the Tubes.  Islamist ideology correlates much better than poverty, personal experience with oppression, a high GNI index for a given nation, etc., with those who become terrorists.  (This scholarly research project has actually been untaken repeatedly, as is explained below).  Muslims, on average, are much more apt to resort to political violence, such as revolts, when faced with the same levels of political oppression, poverty, economic inequality, etc., compared with people in other civilizations because of their entitlement mentality, that only True Believers should rule, not infidels or pagans.  Of course, their "right" to attack back really doesn't exist . . . if we believe that revealed commandments found in the Sermon on the Mount trump natural law theory.



            Muslim nations also have levels of violence that aren’t the worst forms of terrorism.  For example, governmental forces and/or vigilante groups enforce the Sharia law's provisions on people, such as by harassing women who aren't wearing headscarfs/veils and/or walk in public without a male relative's company, attacks on liquor stores, etc.  The activities of the Front for the Defense of Islam (FDI), as led by Habib Mohammad Rizieq Shihab in Indonesia, constitute a case in point.  Carrie Nation (1846-1911), famous for her one-woman crusade of chopping up liquor bottles in saloons in the name of Christ, was nothing compared to this guy.  According to Bret Stephens (Wall Street Journal, April 17, 2007, p. A18), this vigilante group gets away with an amazing level of lawlessness:  “Squads of FPI militants have forcibly shut down hundreds of brothels, small-time gambling operations, discos, nightclubs and bars serving alcoholic beverages.  They also have stormed ‘unauthorized’ Christian houses of worship, attacked peaceful demonstrators from Indonesia’s renascent Communist party, trashed the office of the Nation Commission on Human Rights and rampaged through airports looking for Israelis to kill.”  If it's a matter of the West's decadence and moral rot that's setting these people off, why don't we find similar tiny minorities of (say) fundamentalist Christians in the United States blowing up Hollywood studios and burning down “adult” book stores?  For this reason also, there's much more systematic sympathy among general Muslim populations favoring, rationalizing, excusing, "explaining," etc., etc., etc., terrorist actions that target Western/Christian civilians.  Ayaan Hirsi Ali in her autobiography “Infidel” (p. 270) dismisses the explanations for the 9-11 attacked as springing from Muslim frustrations over Israel, Palestine, and the West’s moral decadence, instead saying, “It was about belief.”  She attacked articles “about Islam being a religion of peace and tolerance, not the slightest bit violence” as being “fairy tales [having] nothing to do with the real world I knew . . . People theorized about poverty pushing people to terrorism; about colonialism and consumerism, pop culture and Western decadence. . . . None of this pseudointellectualism had anything to do with reality.”  Hirsi Ali rejected the explanation that the motive for these attacks stemmed from America’s support for Israel and Arab/Muslim frustration over Palestine’s problems.  After all, the hijackers on 9-11 weren’t Palestinians, and none of them left letters about Palestine:  “This was belief, I thought.  Not frustration, colonialism, or Israel:  it was about a religious belief, a one-way ticket to Heaven.”  (As quoted by Cecil E. Maranville, “A Page on the World Infidel,” World News and Prophecy, September-October 2007, p. 13).   So, Why is this tiny minority mostly Muslim at this point in world history?  In the post Cold War era, almost all the Third World terrorism inspired by Marxist and (non-Muslim) nationalist ideals have long since ended.  Oddball exceptions, such as Nepal's communist guerrillas, still pop up here or there.  But since Marxism was plainly revealed to be “the god that failed” after the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, Marxist ideology no longer inspires many young men to live uncomfortable, dangerous lives while fighting in the jungles, hills, and mountains against their nations’ governments in order to produce many “inevitable revolutions.”

            Unless Muslims living in the West are willing to publicly repudiate violent jihad and any intention of imposing the Sharia on Muslim and non-Muslim countries, they should be deemed to be dangerous radicals on the same level as the KKK, neo-Nazis, and Communists.  Moderate Muslims have to be told to clean house, and put down and attack Islamist ideology, including by publicly (not merely privately) renouncing any intention of imposing the Sharia on Muslim and non-Muslim nations, including any provisions related to jihad and dhimmitude (which, is based on the legal theory that a subject Christian or Jewish population receives "protection" in return for a suspended jihad).  Unfortunately for moderate Muslims, violent jihad is deeply imbedded in their faith’s primary sources (the Quran, the Hadiths, and the rulings of the four legal schools that make up the Sharia before the doors of revelation (“gates of ijtihad”) closed).  By comparison, the weight of tradition and primary religious sources favoring religious warfare (Crusades) in early Christian sources is almost nothing, especially before the Roman Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan (313 A.D.)  That's why this ideological variable matters, that Muslims for ideological reasons are far more apt to resort to using force to gain political ends while citing publicly or privately a religious justification.  By comparison, the IRA wasn’t interested in imposing Catholicism on the recalcitrant Protestants in Ulster, but wanted “One Ireland” in the name of nationalist ideology, much like nationalist guerrillas engaged in anti-colonialist wars during the Cold War Period.  The ideological variable explains why Islam has such bloody borders, to use Huntington's terminology.  Muslims are today being mistreated in places where their spiritual or physical ancestors aggressively invaded in the past.  When they are being truly mistreated today, it’s often mere blowback, as the chickens of their ancestors’ sins come home to roost some centuries later.  That doesn't make it morally right, from a Christian viewpoint, since revenge is evil.  But we shouldn't excuse terrorism for this reason when it's Muslims attacking Christians, Jews, or Hindus likewise.  Also notice sometimes, such as Bosnia and Kosovo, other (nominally mostly) Christian nations intervened  to end the mistreatment of Muslims by the Orthodox Serbs.  How many times in recent history have Muslim nations intervened to stop a Muslim nation from attacking a (nominally) Christian one? 



            The recent controversy over Dinesh D’Souza’s book, “The Enemy at Home:  The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11,” concerns the degree to which Western moral decadence, especially as found in media sources, cause Islamic terrorism.  Robert Spencer replied on-line to such reasoning:  “We could be the most moral people on earth and the jihad would continue nevertheless. The Qur'an (9:29) directs Muslims to fight Jews and Christians, not just immoral Jews and Christians. What has changed in the last 25 years is the material ability of Muslims to pursue the jihad imperative. After all, Egyptian jihad theorist Sayyid Qutb was enraged by the immorality of the dancing at a church social in Colorado in the late 1940s; how immoral do you think that dancing really was, compared to today's standards? Yet despite its relative innocuousness, it still enraged him. He would not have been pacified by anything short of full Islamic separation of the sexes, and the covering of women. In other words, he would not have been satisfied by anything short of our islamization.”  Hence, to a certain degree, the Islamists’ violent tendencies against the West would still happen even if the West’s Christians (and Jews) were perfectly virtuous, even if they hadn’t engaged in imperialism or had supported Israel, since our mere existence as “the other” is enough to justify theoretically jihad for them.  The mere existence of people who aren't Muslims, but are of any other faith, is sufficient excuse to justify jihad or any other aggressive actions by those upholding Islamist ideology.  Now conservative Christians in America, much like conservative Muslims, find lots to condemn morally on TV and in movies, music, videos, etc., since sex, violence, and curse words apparently pump up ratings and sales and/or are deemed artistically “authentic” by the creative cultural elite that produces these media products. The conservative Jewish movie critic Michael Medved's "Hollywood vs. America" is a very detailed listing of many, many (now) fairly recent major movies and what bad social tendencies are reflected in them. But, of course, do evil words and images justify terrorist attacks? How many fundamentalist Christians bomb Hollywood studios, modern art museums, adult book shops, or Broadway theaters? Conservative Muslims need to learn some Voltairian/Enlightenment-style tolerance.  Their political culture’s general lack of tolerance is a major defect, which reveals the West’s objective superiority in this regard before the millennium begins. The point of a book like Robert Spencer's "Onward Muslim Soldiers" is to document the ideological/theological sources of jihad/Muslim aggression that can't be reduced to sociological/economic explanations. It presents the other half of the story, similar to a book like Coulter's "Slander," that one isn't apt to see printed in the pages of the New York Times or to hear from a liberal academic.

            Islamist jihadist ideology is like Communism and Nazism:  They are all intrinsically aggressive ideologies intended for "export."  The Islamic history that liberal apologists for Islam wish to overlook (excepting the Crusades), from 632 to 1798, proves this.  Even if the West behaved perfectly non-imperialistically and wasn't morally degenerate, conservative Muslims would still have ideological motivations for attacking us as "infidels," since they believe all the world should be converted to a Muslim-ruled "Caliphate" government.  Notice the historical ideological continuity in the following statements (as quoted in Efraim Karsh, "Islamic Imperialism:  A History," p. 1):  "I was ordered to fight all men until they say, 'There is no god but Allah"--Muhammad's farewell address, 632.  "I shall cross this sea to their islands to pursue them until there remains no one on the face of the earth who does not acknowledge Allah."--SaLaden, 1189.  "We will export our revolution throughout the world . . . until the calls 'there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah' are echoed all over the world--Khomeini, 1979.  "I was ordered to fight the people until they say there is no god but Allah, and his prophet Muhammad--bin Laden, 2001.  Bin Laden's more generic ideological motivations also need consideration, not merely those based on recent political grievances, if liberals are going to cite a terrorist’s propaganda as a primary source.   Again, an implied materialistic, non-ideological interpretation of political history must be rejected.  Ideas have consequences. 



            Academic research studies and other careful observations have confirmed that poverty, economic inequality, and/or low levels of education have little to do with why Muslims join terrorist groups.  For example, generally using 2003-2004 data, Alberto Abadie, in his heavily statistical exercise, “Poverty, Political Freedom, and the Roots of Terrorism,” found that poverty as measured by GDP (or alternatively the United Nations’s Human Development Index and the inequality measurement of GNI), didn’t correlate significantly with terrorist activities once other variables are taken into account, such as linguistic fractionalization, the presence of geographical factors like remote jungle or mountainous areas and/or countries occupying large areas.  (A large country that has rather remote, inaccessible “sanctuary” areas is more likely to develop and sustain terrorist groups than one that doesn’t, all other factors held equal).  However, he did find that a lack of political rights did positively correlate with terrorism until a particular threshold is reached:  The most repressive countries (such as North Korea) have less terrorism than partially free nations like Russia, perhaps because the repressive state apparatus successfully stops more terrorism than it encourages.

            Other researchers have found education and affluence positively correlate with those who join terrorist groups.  For instance, Marc Sageman, the author of “Understanding Terror Networks,” a psychiatrist once with the United States Navy and CIA, and now at the University of Pennsylvania, found most Arab terrorists to be “well-educated, married men from middle- and upper-class families, in their mid-20s and psychologically stable.” In his study of 172 mujahidin, he found more (three-quarters) to be upper- or middle-class than poor, more married than single, educated than illiterate.  Some 90% came from intact families, and 63% had gone to college as opposed to the 5-6% common in developing countries.  They normally had serious family and job responsibilities, since 73% were married and a strong majority had children.  Three-quarters of them had professional or semi-professional occupations, such as being engineers, architects, and scientists.  His research stressed social bonds that were formed with fellow Muslims, such as those formed while having felt lonely and alienated in Western countries, helped draw them into terrorist activities.  As the Los Angeles Times reported Sageman’s findings:  “With the exception of Persian Gulf Arabs raised mostly in devout households, many extremists became religious as young adults . . . Young Arab men [living in the West] find companionship and dignity in Islam. The social connection usually precedes their spiritual engagement, he says. In mosques, cafes and shared apartments, religion nurtures their common resentment of real and imagined sufferings.”  Scott Atran, in “Discover,” noted people with an ideological cause resort to terrorism when they know they can’t win in a fair (open) fight.  He emphasizes the suicide bombers’ sanity, high status levels, and education.  A surprising number had graduate degrees, well-paying jobs, and solid families which they willingly sacrificed for their cause.  One survey (2005) of three Middle Eastern columnists produced by Middle East Media and Research Institute (MEMRI) shared their belief that cultural and religious factors caused terrorism, not poverty.  The three columnists, Abdallah Rashid Al-Ittihad),  Muhammad Mahfouz (the Saudi Gazette), and Abdallah Nasser al-Fawzan (Al-Watan) particularly noted the influence of sheiks inciting young men to join in terrorist operations.  Claude Berrebi of Princeton concluded in his 76-page paper, “Evidence about the Link Between Education, Poverty and Terrorism Among Palestinians,” that participation in Hamas and PIJ terrorist activities that higher standards of living and higher educational levels are positively correlated with participation in these two groups.  (See for these references).  Clearly, all this evidence shows poverty and ignorance need not drive people into terrorist activities by themselves.

            Alan B. Krueger and Jitka Maleckova found (as per a public opinion poll done in 2001 by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research) that generally the more educated, less impoverished Palestinians favored terrorist activities against Israel somewhat more than lesser educated, more impoverished Palestinians.  When comparing a sample of Lebanese Hezbollah members who died violently with a general population sample of the same ages, they found that the former had a poverty rate of 28% but the latter 33%, although this difference was deemed to be statistically insignificant.  But the Hezbollah militants were more apt to be better educated than the general population, which was a statistically significant difference.  They also note Berrebi’s study (2003) of 285 Palestinian terrorists, which found that less likely to come from impoverished families and much more likely to be better educated than the general Palestinian population.  When focusing on 48 Palestinian suicide bombers, Berrebi found their poverty rate to be less than half than that of the general Palestinian population (roughly 14% vs. 32%).  They note that Berrebi’s data fits well with Nassra Hassan’s (2001) informed comment:  “None [of the suicide bombers] were uneducated, desperately poor, simple minded or depressed.  Many were middle class and, unless they were fugitives, held paying jobs.  More than half of them were refugees from what is now Israel.  Two were sons of millionaires.”  When generally correlating national per capita GDP with international terrorist incidents, they found that no relationship existed between the two variables once the respective national levels of civil liberties were taken into account:  “Once one accounts for the fact that poorer countries are less likely to have basic civil liberties, there is no difference in the number of terrorists springing from the poorest or richest countries.”  They also found no significant affects from higher illiteracy levels causing more terrorism. After making their general survey, they cautiously conclude:  “The evidence we have presented, tentative though it is, suggests little direct connection between poverty or education and participation in terrorism.”  (See “The Journal of Economic Perspectives,” “Education, Poverty, and Terrorism:  Is There a Causal Connection?,” vol. 17, no. 4, fall 2003, pp. 125-142).  Krueger, a professor of economics and public policy at Princeton, later wrote in the introduction to “What Makes a Terrorist:  Economics and the Roots of Terrorism” (2007) that “Although there is a certain surface appeal to blaming economic circumstances and lack of education for terrorist acts, the evidence is nearly unanimous in rejecting either material deprivation or inadequate education as an important cause of support for terrorism or of participation in terrorist activities.”   Hence, the standard liberal paradigm, that poverty, ignorance, and economic inequality cause the world’s problems, clearly doesn’t explain the origins of terrorism.  Hence, it’s sensible to look beyond changes in sociological variables to ideological ones instead in order to account for terrorism appearing in some places much more than others.



            The radical Islamists can find in the Quran, Hadiths, and Sharia, including the standard, traditional ways of interpreting them that will drawn sympathetic responses from their fellow fundamentalists, than any “Christian” terrorist could locate in the Bible, the early Catholic writings before the fourth century, and Catholic canon law.  That is, the primary texts of Christianity are far less able to encourage war against unbelievers a priori than Islam's primary texts, including the Sharia's classical jurists before the gates of itjishad closed.  This is even more true when the tradition of interpreting them over the centuries is added into the equation as well as in contemporary times.  For example, the standard Muslim theological method says the later, more aggressive Medinian suras override the earlier, more pacific Meccan suras when a conflict arises between the two within the Quran. The Muslim hermeneutical principle of abrogation here is called "naskh."   It’s somewhat comparable to the way antinomian evangelical Protestants use dispensationalism against various Old Testament laws (see sura 2:106 for the Muslim principle's source).  Would typical Muslim foreign students, especially if they can’t speak Arabic fluently, be aware of this theological construct, or the proper exegesis, the tafsir, of the Quran? Would it be like asking the average lay Methodist in the pews what the Trinity is or what dispensationalism means?  This theological construct is similar to the importance to the Christian view that the New Testament governs, as the later revelation, instead of the Old Testament when a further revelation of God’s will happened. But, of course, in the Christian case, the New Testament is much more pacific than the Old Testament, while the reverse is true for the Quran when the later Medinian suras are compared to the Meccan.  As Spencer comments (“Onward Muslim Soldiers,” p. 146):  “Islam has a long-established tradition of interpreting the Qur’an in a way that allows Muslims to justify such violence, and indeed even to think it might be required of them.  Christianity—with its emphasis on turning the other cheek, redemption suffering, loving one’s neighbor—and other religions have no comparable tradition.  Christian martyrs meet their end by being persecuted unto death, while Islamic martyrs are suicide killers.”    Ideological/theological/philosophical analyses are very important in comparing how a civilization's leaders and people react to stimuli in their environment . . . it's one reason why Tibetans have blown up or attacked a lot few buildings in Beijing and East Timorese in Jakarta than Chechans in Russia or Arabs in New York.

            Christian societies aren’t "immune” to producing terrorists.  But how often are their terrorists acting in the name of the God of the Bible and seeking to impose Biblical law on their societies?  For example, the IRA’s past longstanding terrorist campaign to unify Ireland and throw out the British against the wishes of Ulster’s Protestant majority wasn’t done to promote the Catholic faith, but to achieve the goals of a nationalist “One Ireland” ideology.  Similarly, various Communist and Marxist rebels and terrorists operating during the Cold War in Latin America acted to promote the creation of totalitarian governments as dictated by their nineteenth-century ideologies.  They didn’t seek to impose on their societies Catholic teachings that they had largely or completely repudiated.  Non-Islamic, especially (nominally) Christian, societies produce a lot less of non-state terrorism nowadays, especially in the post-Cold War period.  Spencer points out that (evil) human nature is universal, but that certain religious traditions' primary texts and their way of being interpreted over the centuries will affect how their adherents behave.  A sincere Muslim wanting to follow Muhammad's personal example has far more ideological justification for religiously-motivated violence than the Evangelical Protestant Christian asking, WWJD?   Any Muslim, including free-lancers like Sheik Osama bin-Laden, can appeal to much more explosive material in Islam's primary texts (the Quran and Hadiths) and the classical legal interpretations of them in the Sharia than violence-prone Christians could in the equivalent Christian documents (the New Testament, early Catholic writings, Catholic canon law).  Other religious traditions have had “holy wars,” but how many have had as voluminous writing and justifications for jihad as Muslims do?  Unlike the Pope, conservative Muslims haven't repudiated such legal reasoning formally and publicly.  Andrew G. Bostom, ed., “The Legacy of Jihad:  Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims” (2005) documents that conservative Muslims haven’t really changed formally their legal reasonings concerning jihad on moral grounds, but have merely made practical accommodations to the relative weakness of the Islamic world militarily relative to the West.  As Bassam Tibi notes in this volume (pp. 334-35), the conservative but mainstream Al-Azhar conformists read scripture in the light of present realities, but the Islamic fundamentalists (such as the Muslim Brotherhood’s al-Banna and Qutb) would like to reverse this procedure, so that true Muslims view reality using the light of the texts. Even using the reasoning of the Al-Azhar conformists alone, as soon as the strategic economic and/or military conditions changed, Muslims could quickly brush aside all the present legal reasonings for the temporary suspension of jihad.

            Richard Wike and Nilanthi Samaranayake, co-authors of “Where Terrorism Finds Support in the Muslim World:  That May Depend on How You Define It—and Who Are the Targets” based on the Pew Global Attitudes Survey of 2005 found that “support for terrorism is also more common among persons who identify primarily as Muslim, those who believe it is important for Islam to play an influential role on the world stage, and those who believe Islam faces serious threats.”  Even after doing a multivariate analysis to check if these variables independently explained support for terrorism or were proxies for other variables still found that “two of the [three] measured attitudes toward Islam also remain significant. The belief that it is important for Islam to play an influential role in the world is positively related to support for suicide bombing in Iraq and confidence in bin Laden. The perception that there are serious threats to Islam is positively associated with support for suicide bombing and other attacks against civilians, as well as suicide bombing against Westerners in Iraq. However, primarily identifying as a Muslim is not significantly related to any of the three dependent variables.”  ( This data partially contradicts the generalization that’s been made that a Muslim’s “personal piety” doesn’t relate to support for terrorism:  “Personal piety” isn’t the only kind of ideological construct that can promote terrorism. 


It’s necessary to admit the epistemological limitations of secular political science methodology, including even the statistically driven Correlates of War project when it overlooks intellectual, religious, and philosophical ideological forces as moving nations, societies, and civilizations.  Consider the category mistake one political science researcher who discounted the hegemonic threat that radical Islam poses by asking the question: “How many mechanized divisions does Osama have?”  That question committed the same category mistake using almost the same words that Stalin's question did about the Pope:  “The Pope?  How many divisions has he got?”  The ideology that discounts ideology as a factor that moves men to action was proven empirically false in the case of the Pope, whose ideology (i.e., Catholicism) brought down Soviet Communism more than any other single person or force.  Likewise, this (implicitly Marxist) ideology that makes intellectuals blind to the force of ideology, especially when it is a religion, needs to be challenged when it comes to the threat Islam poses to the West today.  Just because it isn't concentrated into any one nation as a "hegemonic threat" doesn't make it any less real, especially when present demographic trends in Western Europe are projected into the future and  the tendency for many of the second or third generation offspring of Muslim immigrants to be more conservative religiously than their immigrant parents is considered.  That's how we end up with Muslim terrorists in Western countries, such as the British tube bombers and the Toronto plotters.  How poor, how oppressed, how educationally deprived, etc., were they?  The sociological/materialistic variables simply don't explain the difference in levels of terrorism; an ideological factor has to be considered, but the materialistic/anti-ideological approach of most political scientists helps to keep them from seriously considering that possibility. 

            John Henry Cardinal Newman, the Anglican priest turned Catholic cardinal, in "The Idea of a University" explained that one of the purposes of a university was to set up a system of checks and balances between the different subject areas/disciplines.  Under this system, when zealots concerning the subject of physics, economics, biology, psychology, etc., would make bigger claims for their disciplines than were warranted in promoting human happiness, etc., the other disciplines, with theology as the top guiding  the adjustment process overall, would rein them in by presenting other perspectives.  For example, economists naturally tend to think the material standard of living is the most important way to rate a society's well being, thus discounting the Christian view that "man does not live by bread alone."  Newman raised a key point concerning economics' moral claims  (p. 68):  "The obvious question which occurs to ask is, what does Religion, what does Revelation, say on the point?  Political Economy must not be allowed to give judgment in its own favour, but must come before a higher tribunal."  The economist has no final right to decree what ethics or morality should be concerning the purposes of his discipline; that's left for theology to answer.  Furthermore, people who carefully study one subject with zeal for years on end naturally tend to develop blinders about the importance of other subjects/disciplines in relationship to their own.  As Newman noted (p. 71), they don't have the full picture by themselves in their own field:  "Though they speak truth, they do not speak the whole truth; that they speak a narrow truth, and think it a broad truth; that their deductions must be compared with other truths, which are acknowledged to be truths, in order to verify, complete, and correct them."  For example, it's an error to think that the COW way of doing political science is the only valid way to do it:  Space must be made for theoreticians and others using different (perhaps more deductive) approaches that still can gain truth as well, such as the approach of Sam Huntington in "Clash of Civilizations."  It's simply necessary to do some serious  theory sometimes, and consider whether one's approach to one's work is really (fully) correct.  The secular political science approach of discounting ideas as movers of men is a serious error that needs to be recognized and calibrated for:  Otherwise, someone influenced by it asks the mistaken question, "How many mechanized divisions does Osama have?," supposedly as a crushing objection to anyone thinking he (or others like him) is a threat.  But Stalin asked a similar question about the Pope, not realizing that it would be a future Pope that would bring down the Soviet system he ruled more than any other single individual.  The limitations of the COW statistical method for gathering truth for political science's conclusions have to be admitted.  The nations in question also have to be analyzed using intellectual history (such as philosophy, law, literature, and theology) to explain how people of different civilizations react differently to the same or similar (material) forces. By doing theory, and then discovering and admitting the limitations of our methods for obtaining truth, we won't make the mistake Cardinal Newman mentioned, of perceiving a "narrow truth" as a "broad one," or of claiming too much for our methods for (supposedly) getting truth.  We’re then more self-aware about our own intellectual strengths and limitations.  The Correlates of War Project’s materialistic approach thus causes the radical Islamic threat to be equally mistakenly discounted today, since it is an ideological/religious threat, just as Stalin similarly discounted Roman Catholicism in the past.  Can we learn from history in this regard then?


            The standard secular political science approach, including the statistically driven Correlates of War project, sees through a materialistic lens that cannot account for such outcomes.  Using the exact same methodological blinders, radical Islam is discounted as a threat, for this is mainly an ideological struggle (as undergirded by differential birth rates, religious conversions, and immigration) under which the West could lose (granted present trends projected enough decades into the future), despite its presently enormous economic and military advantages over the Islamic world.  Secular people have a very hard time believing seriously religious people actually will DO what they SAY; this assumption permeates liberal/leftist political science analysis of the world.  Agnostic and atheistic political scientists upholding a secular worldview have to become self-aware of the limitations of their materialistic modes of explanation.  But seriously religious people of different faiths should be able to understand religious people of other religions just might sometimes DO what they BELIEVE (hypocrisy and human weakness not withstanding).  Hence, if the Islamic sources of religious authority (the Quran,  the  Hadiths, and the Sharia) promote aggressive warfare against unbelievers in a generic sense much more than the equivalent Christian ones (the Bible, the early Catholic writings, and canon law), there are practical consequences today from this difference.  


The control of radical Islam occurs to the extent any government has implemented or accepted the Sharia law as the basis for its legal system.  Hence at least Sudan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia would count, and they are all closed (or nearly closed) societies as well.  Countries which partially accept it, such as Pakistan and Egypt, even Iraq under American occupation, that used to be more secular, have a dangerous political trajectory that indicates the diehard conservatives are successfully intimidating those who want a secular basis for law, or the moderate Muslims in general.  Any country that accepts the Sharia law will oppress women and religious minorities (the dhimmi) systematically, since conservative Muslims would see that as their political duty under God's law.  Moderate Muslims should be challenged to repudiate publicly (not merely privately to friends) the Sharia’s discriminatory treatment of women and religious minorities and its support for literal jihad if they are serious about reform Islam's worse tendencies.  The question, “How many mechanized divisions does Osama have?,” commits the same error Stalin did when he asked about the Pope:  “The Pope?  How many divisions has he got?”  So can secular political scientists and researchers recognize how COW's materialistic/non-ideological/non-religious basis for analysis is affecting their (secular political) analysis of the threat radical Islam poses.  Stalin didn't think the Pope was a threat, did he?  Likewise, one researcher denies that radical  Islam is a threat, based on the same kind of mistaken reasoning.  In short, COW (or standard-brand secular political science) is encouraging political scientists to ask the wrong kind of questions.  And people who ask the wrong kind of questions are going to get the wrong kind of answers!


Since radical Islam as an ideological threat is spread as a contagion within conservative Islam through conversion, immigration, and population growth, the former doesn't have to have direct state control in all cases to be ultimately very damaging, especially when nukes are becoming increasingly easy to build and acquire.  Conservative Islam merely serves as the "ocean" for the “tidal wave” of radicals to develop and gain strength, such as from Saudi Arabia's massive oil wealth supporting its propaganda efforts abroad that promote Wahabism.  Ironically, Saudi Arabia has suffered from terrorism in recent years in part as unanticipated “blowback” from its proselytizing efforts for its very conservative sect of Sunni Islam.  Islam also grows by both conversion and population growth.  Merely sending in enough immigrants with high birthrates into Europe could well lead to (except for when Jesus presumably would come) conservative Muslim takeovers of these countries without firing a shot.  By building parallel legal systems that make room for the Sharia for Muslims in Europe, such as for family law, these systems could ultimately be imposed on these countries entirely once conservative Muslims had enough votes as a percentage of the population.  To alleviate the kinds of concerns about radical and fundamentalist Islam raised by Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, and in Bat Ye’or’s “Eurabia,” moderate Muslims should openly and publicly repudiate any desire to impose the Sharia law on majority or (especially) non-majority Muslim societies.  To the extent it's taken literally, the idea of replacing English common law (or the Napoleonic Code), along with any nation's democratic constitution, with the Sharia law is every bit as radical as communism, the KKK's racism, and Nazism.  Such a change should be equally condemned and equally be a source of sensible active concern as past hegemonic threats such as Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia once posed.

Let’s mindlessly apply the COW approach by comparing the following two states' material capabilities during their most recent earthshaking conflict.  In one corner, we have the USSR, boasting 210 "maneuver" divisions, 1/4th of them tank divisions (c. 1985).  In the other corner, we have the Pope, with around 130 Swiss guards.  Hmmmm.  We'd think the Russian superpower should be able to annihilate the small city-state in about 1 nanosecond.  But, as we know now, it didn't quite work out that way . . .  Vatican City was the “mouse that roared”!  The variables COW keeps track of could not have possibly predicted  the Papacy's victory over Soviet Communism.  It simply would have asked the wrong questions, such as what states does it control, what are their material capabilities, and can those states be called major powers?    That is, a materialistic, non-ideological analysis still misses crucial variables even when it gathers a mountain of data, but still makes the standard Marxist error (at some level) by claiming the superstructure (society's ideology/religion/philosophy) never effects the mode of production (economic organization). 

John Paul II served as the vessel for an ideological force that carried to the Poles the belief that that communist system need not be accepted morally or intellectually.  After all, he was one of them, and had lived under that system.  And he led the Catholic church as an institution in Poland which provided the framework and material foundation for the underground Solidarity movement to undermine the regime's confidence in itself so much that it allowed for free elections for one of the chambers of the Polish legislature.  The Papacy, especially a Polish pope, along with the Catholic church provided the necessary foundation to make the aid that the USA funneled to that underground movement effective.  (For general documentation of this, see mainly Carl Bernstein and Marco Politi, ''His Holiness: John Paul II and the Hidden History of Our Time,” but also former CIA director Robert Gates, “From the Shadows.”)  The Polish Communist government allowed (mostly) free elections in its legislature.  Following this signal event, the Communist dominoes came tumbling down, in the Eastern European satellite states (effectively) conquered by the USSR after WWII.  Then (following a two year gap), the biggest domino of all came down after the failed coup attempt against Gorbachev.  At the barest minimum, the Soviet system came down much faster because of the push a Polish Pope gave to it (and his national identity was crucial to making this happen the way it did, the Poles having already shown themselves to be one of the more restive satellite nations).  History only looks "inevitable" when it's looked at after the fact, especially when examined using a materialistic lens (or blinders, as the case may be).  After all, how many people in 1970 or even in 1988 would have publicly predicted that Soviet Communism would collapse?  After all, wasn't the main liberal/leftist paradigm about Communism was that the West was going to have to live with it permanently, that their economies would grow faster than the West's, that it was better to be Red than dead, etc.?

            If someone can accept a theoretical analysis as an explanation for Carroll Quigley's characterization ("Pakistani-Peruvian Axis") in “Tragedy and Hope” of the differences between Third World countries and the developed West, why can’t an ideological cause be accepted here also?  The same goes when someone thinks the West’s experiences with the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, etc., when Muslim world historically didn’t have these societal transformations, as an explanation of differences in political culture that make it hard for W. Bush to build stable democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's simply necessary to do more theory.  Researchers have to consider carefully the values and assumptions they use to make analyses for any inconsistencies and use of double standards.  Otherwise, all the admirable efforts of meticulously gathering data on innumerable wars is mostly wasted.   The policy prescriptions produced by people analyzing huge amounts of data in biased ways can easily be bested by people using better theories but less data.  Good "thumb suckers," using far less data, can end up producing better (worldly) policy recommendations or policies, such as shown by Ronald Reagan’s simple right-wing anticommunist views helped to end the Cold War more quickly than a restoration of Détente would have. Herbert W. Armstrong observed that the theory of evolution all came tumbling down when he pointed out the logical fallacy of circular reasoning in the alleged foundational evidence used to “prove” it.  It didn’t matter that people armed with Ph.D’s in the biological sciences had far more knowledge of the relevant scientific facts than he had. Here a "biological science thumb-sucker" beat out the relevant Ph.D’s. The same goes for Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations," since he offers a generally superior analysis compared to his critics on the matter of Islamic civilization’s “bloody borders.”  Huntington did do his homework, and later found statistical sources to back his generalization.  Although they have been disputed, a lot more evidence would have to be presented to overthrow them and explain the discrepancies in these other researchers' compilations of data on wars in various parts of the world in recent decades in order to justify rejecting his analysis. 


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Why was the stationing of American troops in Saudi Arabia such an unusual provocation to Muslim sensibilities?  Why did bin Laden's comments about his motivations include a strong objection to this.  The Americans were invited in, of course, by the Saudis.  But for what reason?  To support a military intervention that later rescued Kuwait’s Muslims from Saddam's clutches, and to keep Iraq possibly from attacking Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf’s oil rich sheikdoms next.  Just modern-day power politics, right?  But this standard political game had unanticipated consequences.  Here it’s necessary to do a cultural analysis that goes beyond economics and the recent history of Western influence in the Islamic world.  Muhammad wanted only one religion in the land of the Islamic holy cities Mecca and Medina.  Hence, Christians and Jews weren’t allowed to remain in Arabia while openly practicing their religions.  Conservative Muslims in theory didn’t wish to extend even the second-class dhimmi level of "tolerance" that infidels received elsewhere after they were conquered. Of course, along with the awful economic consequences of sanctions on Iraq's people, the Persian Gulf War produced two of four stated major reasons Osama bin Laden gave for attacking the United States. These were consequences of America's intervention in saving Kuwait (and the Saudis) from Saddam's Iraq back in 1990-1991.  But if one favored the Persian Gulf War, and wanted to have Kuwait rescued from Iraqi occupation, he then has to accept partially this consequence from American intervention there. If 9-11 was partially the price for saving the Kuwaitis from Saddam, was it worth paying then?  Should we have left Saddam to do what he wanted in Kuwait and (most likely) soon in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf state sheikdoms? Admittedly, Pat Buchanan's objections to intervening there at the time, back in 1990, looked pretty good then; they look even better today. One intervention, leads to another, right?  And the law of unanticipated consequences applies to proposals for military interventions abroad in the name of ambitious nation building projects, as a subset of social engineering in general.  Some Muslims objected to America’s rescuing these Kuwaiti Muslims and keeping Saudi Arabia safe from an Iraqi invasion on religious grounds, and look at the consequences.

            Does America's support for Israel directly cause Muslim terrorist attacks on America?   As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said right after the 9-11 attacks, Israel is hated for being part of the West, rather than the West (or America) being hated for supporting Israel. Arabs can see various ways in which their nations' culture, even after benefiting from all that oil wealth, is politically, educationally, militarily and economically inferior to resource-poor Israel.  How much does envy or the fear of freedom stoke Muslim or Arab anger? Admittedly, those variables are hard to quantify and to put into a data set.  A Muslim or Arab foreign student would have trouble confessing either even privately to a Westerner, but they are a reality nevertheless. Just as the Right's vice is greed (or materialism), the Left's is envy (or hatred of the good for being the good), so envy and the desire to “escape from freedom” shouldn’t be discounted as minor political matters.  “Evil human nature” simply doesn’t explain by itself why Muslim nations are more apt to turn to terrorism than other nations since it’s a universal truth present in all cultures.  The variable that needs explanation is why are Muslims, when they aren’t serving in their own government’s security apparatus, are more apt to target civilians for political purposes than people of other civilizations

            Evil human nature will encourage nations play power politics by allying with nations of opposing faiths for whatever immediate goal they had against nations dominated by their co-religionists.  Efraim Karsh develops this theme at length in “Islamic Imperialism:  A History.”  For example, the British persistently supported the Ottomans against Russian imperialism in the nineteenth century because they feared the Orthodox Czar's potential designs on India and their line of communication from their home country to their most populous colony much more than the Sublime Port’s launching another jihad.  But if the Arabs’ and Ottomans’ jihads aren’t to be blamed on Islam, then European imperialism shouldn’t be blamed on (traditional) Christianity.  But in reality, the ideology of jihad played a much more significant role in Muslim expansionism in the seventh to ninth centuries and in the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries than Christianity’s missionary impulse had in the eighteenth-nineteenth century European expansion.  As Robert Spencer points out (“Onward Muslim Soldiers,” pp. 167-168) concerning the multiple motivations for the earliest Arab jihadists:  “The chance for economic gain doesn’t mean that religious motives are not present, especially in an Islamic context, where warfare and booty are legislated by divinities as religious matters.  In the seventh century, as in the present day, a variety of motivations coalesced in the hearts and minds of a large number of men; it would be condescending and ethnocentric to discount their explicit avowals of religious motives are a mere cover for what was more important to them.  Then, as now, religion was more important to a great many people outside the West than to postmodern, secular Americans and Europeans.”  By the time of Napoleon and the French Revolution, the ideology fueling the Crusades had long since been burned out of European culture, such as due to the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the scientific revolution, although the missionary expansionistic impulse remained for many individual Europeans.

            The theology of literal jihad is much more extensive in the Muslim primary sources than merely what the smallest of the four schools of Muslim law (the Hanbali) teaches.  For example, why did the Ottoman Grand Council solemnly decide to declare a jihad against Russia at the beginning of the Crimean War?  (Karsh, “Islamic Imperialism:  A History,” p. 101).  Then consider carefully the writings and enormous influence of these five twentieth century Muslim authors on the subject of jihad. For the Shiites, there's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1902-1989).  Then there’s these four among the Sunni, the Egyptians Hasan al-Banna (1906-1949) and Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), the Palestinian Abdullah Azzam (1941-1989), and the Indian Sayyid Abdul A'la Maududi (1903-1979).  These men can’t be dismissed as mere kooks, radical fringers, and extremist radicals, because so many have read their writings and take them seriously in the Islamic world. It's laughable to compare them with (say) the present influence of the KKK or the Communists in the United States. They interpreted their Islamic tradition much better than the Muslim moderates, who are like the liberal Protestant Christians: The former have to deny the traditional, straight-forward teachings of the Quran, the Hadiths, etc., in order to sustain their position, just as the latter accept evolution and have to deny the miracles of the Old and New Testaments.  Furthermore, the conservative Al-Azhar conformists haven’t formally rejected the teaching of jihad and dhimmitude for conquered peoples, but merely have found convenient, tactical “bandages” to avoid making fundamental reforms of traditional Islamic law.  All these “bandages” can be quickly torn off should economic and military conditions change that would make formally declared jihads against the West realistic again.



            There’s no natural compatibility of Christianity and Islam whenever Muslims take their ideology seriously and attempt to implement in their societies, such as the Sharia law and the standard teachings of Islamic law about the treatment of dhimmis. If they are in some kind of semi-peace or semi-tolerance, such as in Senegal, it's merely because the Muslims aren't being that serious or consistent, like the brandy-drinking Bosnians.  True, a number of Muslims drink alcohol (I still remember one of my past five Pakistani roommates buying something alcoholic from me when I worked at Quality Dairy near Michigan State University) shows they aren't following their faith’s formal teachings. In reality, a legal prohibition of alcohol, much like America’s in the 1920's and early 1930's, is what Islamic teaching requires if Muslim rulers unswervingly implemented their faith’s tenets. Similarly, to argue that jihad is mainly about struggling against one's evil impulses is about as shoddy an exegetical exercise in reading the Quran and the Hadiths as attempting to deny the literalness of the first 11 chapters of Genesis or to reject the Deity of Christ in taught in the Gospel of John.  The treatment of Christians in Pakistan or the Christians and Bahais in Iran is much more illustrative of what Muslim rule is like intrinsically than what happens in Senegal. For example, in Iran, the tiny minority of Christians (0.4% of the population) find that the printing of Christian literature is illegal, that converts from Islam are apt to be killed, and most evangelical groups have to operate underground. In Pakistan, despite having initially a secular regime, the Sharia law has been increasingly imposed, such as from the Pakistan National Alliance’s influence starting in 1977.  The government quickly gave in, and Sharia courts were established and increasingly given more and more authority. Even when the Islamists don't have full political power, they still attempt to impose what they can where they can. Christians do have trouble gaining and holding office in Pakistan because the law of dhimmitude prohibits the rule of non-Muslims over Muslims. Hence, Muslim spokesmen there have pushed for the full enforcement of the Sharia, emphasizing that Christians "should have no voice in the making of laws, no right to administer the law and no right to hold public office." (in Spencer, Onward Christian Soldiers, pp. 206-207, citing Patrick Sookhdeo, A People Betrayed: The Impact of Islamization on the Christian Community in Pakistan). In Pakistan, in the January of 1983, there were no non-Muslims in the two highest ranks of federal government civil servants. Laws of evidence were passed in 1979 to put the Pakistani courts more into line with Islamic law's requirements which prohibited non-Muslim witnesses to testify against a Muslim defendant. In some parts of Pakistan, like the North West Frontier Province, the building of churches can't be done unless they are labeled as "community centers." In other cases, it's hard to get permission, as in Egypt, a seemingly moderate if authoritarian regime that declares that Islam is the state religion. There identity cards will identity individuals as Christians, who are often insulted and ostracized in public. Muslim schools receive funding but not Christian ones, and Arabic may only be taught by Muslims in their schools.  Since the Sharia relegates Christians, Jews, and other non-Muslims to second-class citizen status, and that law, being deemed to be Allah’s Himself, can’t be reformed by its very nature according to conservative Muslims, any Muslim nation that even only partially accepts it has to discriminate against its non-Muslim citizens.



            The cultural trajectory of a formally secular regime ruling over a mostly Muslim population increasingly will fall into a hard-line Islamist position on their governments’ implementing the Sharia, such as in Pakistan.  For example, under pressure from the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, Sadat before his assassination did promise to implement the Sharia (see Spencer, “Onward Muslim Soldiers,” p. 236).  Like the people of other cultures (such as soderweg theory uses to analyze how the Nazis came to power in Germany), Muslims necessarily will work out the ultimate consequences of their formal ideological, philosophical, and religious premises over time, thus driving out ideals born of compromise and inconsistencies.  It isn't merely a matter that angry young men with poor job prospects can cause a nation much political and religious grief.  Lots of nations in the Third World face similar problems.  But they don’t all produce the same levels of terrorism (or sympathies for terrorists) that Muslim societies do.  Nor is it a merely a matter of Saudi oil money helping to propagate the teachings of the smallest of four Muslim schools of law. (In the cases of Pakistan, Egypt, and Iran, the provisions of Sharia law likely don’t have important variations from school to school concerning how Muslim governments should treat dhimmis).  Rather, there has to be enough bad theological or philosophical tinder left around in their culture that the leaders of hooligans and the underemployed can seize and use to motivate them against others, such as Hitler and the Nazis found they could enflame in the 1920's and 1930's in Germany when getting the Brown Shirts to fight against communist and SDP gangs on the city streets of the Weimar republic. (Shirer in "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" does an excellent job of summarizing the historical/philosophical roots of Nazism and why the Germans when hit by the Great Depression voted for totalitarianism while the French, British, and Americans, hit by the same economic disaster, didn't). The intrinsic cultural trajectory of a Muslim nation that's serious about their Islam is ultimately to treat Christians and Jews as second-class citizens. When they pragmatically treat non-Muslims as equals, it's merely by their being inconsistent with their own faith's sources of spiritual authority when believed in and applied literally. It doesn't prove anything intrinsic about Islam's true levels of tolerance that Christians have been allowed to have high office in Senegal or elsewhere.  As the leading historian of dhimmitude, Bat Ye’or has written:  “The inner logic of the jihad could not tolerate religious emancipation.  Permanent war, the wicked of the Dar al-Harb [House of War, the non-Muslim ruled world] and the inferiority of the conquered harbis [dhimmis] constituted the three interdependent and inseparable principles underlying the expansion and political domination of the umma [the Muslim religious community].”  (Ye’or, “Dhimmitude:  The Jews and Christians under Islam,” p. 99; as cited by Warraq, “Why I Am Not a Muslim,” p. 238).  One has to examine the philosophical and theological cultural background and matrix of a nation, and see what it ultimately entails, to do a good analysis of this subject.




            Samuel Huntington, in The Clash of Civilizations, (pp. 210-11), says a key reason for the violence between Christendom and Islam over the centuries stems from both sides’ shared belief that each had the one true faith that should be spread to the whole world:  "Both are monotheistic religions, which, unlike polytheistic ones, cannot easily assimilate additional deities, and which see the world in dualistic, us-and-them terms.  Both are universalistic, claiming to be the one true faith to which all humans can adhere.  Both are missionary religions believing that their adherent have an obligation to convert nonbelievers to that one true faith."  (This general characteristic makes both quite different from the northern Chinese mentality, for example, which is very ethnocentric, and deeply convinced of the superiority of their own culture, but in semi-Buddhist contentment/passivity is content to leave the outside world’s “barbarians” unchanged).  Of course, truly pacifistic Christians can avoid this old liberal claim that if someone says he has the Truth that this leads to intolerance and necessarily then to violence against others.  But Islam has no equivalent to the Sermon on the Mount that could possibly generally restrain Muslims to (re)consider using violence as a basic principle for spreading their faith.  For example, the great late medieval Islamic historian ibn Khuldun (1332-1406) even claimed one of the advantages of Islam had over other faiths was its doctrine of jihad!:  “The other religious groups [that is, besides Islam] did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty to them, save only for purposes of defense.  It has thus come about that the person in charge of religious affairs in (other religious groups) is not concerned with power politics at all.”  But, he said, Muslim rulers are still concerned about power politics because Islam is “under obligation to gain power over other nations.”  (“The Mugaddimah:  An Introduction to History,” trans. by Franz Rosenthal, as quoted by Spencer, “Onward Muslim Soldiers, p. 174).  Of course, only a very few Christians of any kind historically have been willing to take Jesus' words about loving ones enemies and turning the cheek truly seriously.  The Quakers, Amish, Mennonites, the SDA's, and other (uncalled) Christian groups have to be praised for their willingness to avoid bearing arms in war.

            Huntington notes the reticence of moderate Muslims to publicly condemn the approvals of violence by their more extreme brethren.  Consider this analogy:  If allegedly moderate people on the subject of race in the United States never or rarely condemned the KKK and the neo-Nazis, we would have reasons to doubt their moderation, especially if they still hesitated even after being asked to do so.  "Protests against anti-Western violence have been totally absent in Muslim countries.  Muslim governments, even the bunker governments friendly to and dependent on the West, having been strikingly reticent when it comes to condemning terrorist acts against the West."  Huntington justly concludes (pp. 217-18):  "The underlying problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism.  It is Islam, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power.  The problem for Islam is not the CIA or the United States Department of Defense.  It is the West, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the universality of their culture and believe that their superior, if declining, power imposes on them the obligation to extend that culture through the world.  These are the basic ingredients that fuel conflict between Islam and the West."   Backing Huntington’s generalization is the neo-con/Bush foreign policy goal of ultimately reducing terrorism by spreading democracy in the Islamic world via nation-building programs in Iraq and Afghanistan.


            What evidence does Samuel Huntington cite in "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order" (New York, Simon and  Schuster, 1996) that favors his rather notorious generalization that "Islam has bloody borders"?  This book is a follow-up to his article in the summer of 1993 in "Foreign Affairs" called "The Clash of Civilizations?"  The editor of that journal admitted that Huntington's article stirred up more discussion and debate in three years than anything published in that (high brow) journal since the 1940s.  According to this book's back cover, Huntington is "the Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor at Harvard University," and also "the chairman of the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies."  He also was the founder and coeditor of "Foreign Policy," "the director of security planning for the National Security Council in the Carter administration," and "the president of the American Political Science Association."  So this guy isn't exactly a fly-by-night crank.  He also has written a book-length criticism of multiculturalism, which, given this background, is frankly surprising.

            After citing various ethnic/civilizational conflicts and the Cold War lens they were seen through, he notes:  "The overwhelming majority of fault line conflicts [between major civilizations], however, have taken place along the boundary looping across Eurasia and Africa that separates Muslims from non-Muslims.  While at the macro or global level of world politics the primary clash of civilizations is between the West and the rest, at the micro or local level it is between Islam and the others."  (p. 255)  Huntington then proceeds to give a long list of specifics, such as the conflicts in what was Yugoslavia (including Kosovo and Bosnia), Cyprus, Greece against Turkey, Turkey versus Armenia, Russia versus Chechnya, Afghanistan, and the Volga Tartars, China's central government versus Muslims in Xinjiang, Pakistan against India over Kashmir, Muslims clashing with minority Chinese in Indonesia and Malaysia and minority Buddhists in Bangladesh, Catholic East Timor against Indonesia, the Jewish/Arab Palestine mess, Christian Arabs versus Muslims in Lebanon, the Ethiopian Christian Amharas against the Muslim Ormoros and other Muslim groups, the civil war in the Sudan between the Muslim Arab north and the Christian and animist black south, and the running conflict between the Northern black Muslim tribes and the southern black Christian tribes in Nigeria, which is replicated some in African nations such as Chad, Kenya, and Tanzania.

            After giving this long list of specifics, Huntingdon then says:  "In all these places, the relations between Muslims and peoples of other civilizations--Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Hindu, Chinese, Buddhist, Jewish--have been generally antagonistic; most of these relations have been violent at some point in the past; many have been violent in the 1990s.  Wherever one looks along the perimeter of Islam, Muslims have problems living peaceably with their neighbors.  The question naturally rise as to whether this pattern of late-twentieth-century conflict between Muslim and non-Muslim groups is equally true of relations between groups from other civilizations.  In fact, it is not.  Muslims make up about one-fifth of the world's population but in the 1990's they have been far more involved in intergroup violence than the people of any other civilization."  (p. 256)



            Huntington now proceeds to cite statistical evidence from several different sources.  So if someone objects to Huntington's generalization (i.e., "Islam has bloody borders"), one has to attack then his sources as unreliable for reasons X, Y, and Z.  So then, have they been?  One shouldn't attack Huntington's conclusion if his sources have remained unscathed.  If the premises (i.e., sources) were allowed to stand, nobody can then complain much about the deduced conclusion.  Were these sources left uncriticized because they didn't infer a certain general conclusion from a set of discrete facts (i.e., they didn’t conclude that a certain set of trees makes up a particular forest)?

            He cites data from Ted Robert Gurr's article "Peoples Against States" in "International Studies Quarterly" (Vol. 38, September 1994, pp. 347-378).  "Muslims were participants in twenty-six of fifty ethnopolitical conflicts in 1993-1994 . . . Twenty of these conflicts were between groups from different civilizations, of which fifteen were between Muslims and non-Muslims.  There were, in short, three times as many intercivilizational conflicts involving Muslims as there were conflicts between all non-Muslim civilizations.  The conflicts within Islam also were more numerous than those in any other civilization, including tribal conflicts in Africa.  In contrast to Islam, the West was involved in only two intracivilizational and two intercivilizational conflicts.  Conflicts involving Muslims also tended to be heavy in casualties.  Of the six wars in which Gurr estimates that 200,000 or more people were killed three (Sudan, Bosnia, East Timor) were between Muslims and non-Muslims, two (Somalia, Iraq-Kurds) were between Muslims and non-Muslims, and only one (Angola) involved only non-Muslims." (Huntington, pp. 256-57). Huntington's Table 10.1, which uses Gurr's data, notes that in 1993-1994 in "Ethnopolitical Conflicts" that Islam had 11 intracivilization conflicts and 15 intercivilization conflicts, while "Others" had 19 (10 of which were tribal conflicts in Africa) and 5 respectively.  Huntington also uses a New York Times article, dated Feb. 7, 1993, pp. 1, 14, that identified 48 locations in which 59 ethnic conflicts were occurring.  "In half these places Muslims were clashing with other Muslims or with non-Muslims.  Thirty-one of the fifty-nine conflicts were between groups from different civilizations, and, paralleling Gurr's data [i.e., indeed, reproducible evidence!--EVS] two-thirds (twenty-one of these intercivilizational conflicts were between Muslims and others."  Third, Huntington cites an analysis by Ruth Leger Sivard which identified 29 wars in 1992.  Interestingly, she used the political science empirical evidence study project Correlates Of War’s definition of a war, "conflicts involving 1000 or more deaths in a year," as Huntington explains.  Nine of the twelve intercivilizational conflicts were between Muslims and non-Muslims, and "Muslims were once again fighting more wars than people from any other civilization."  The source here is her World Military and Socal Expenditures 1993 (Washington, DC:  World Priorities, Inc., 1993), pp. 20-22.  Are there any learned academic articles in print attacking Gurr’s work, Sivard's book or this New York Times’ article?  Did any angry Muslims or various academics rise up to attack them as shoddy, unreliable, biased, etc.?  Or did they sail through, unopposed?

             So then, after using this specific data from the early to mid 1990's, Huntington triumphantly concludes against his critics:  "Three different compilations of data thus yield the same conclusion:  In the early 1990s Muslims were engaged in more intergroup violence than were non-Muslims, and two-thirds to three-quarters of intercivilizational wars were between Muslims and non-Muslims.  Islam’s borders are bloody, and so are its innards."  (p. 258)  Huntington notes in a footnote on this page that his generalization that "Islam has bloody borders" was a judgment made "on the basis of a casual survey intercivilizational conflicts.  Quantitative evidence from every disinterested source conclusively demonstrates its validity."  That is, a seat-of-the-pants or "thumb-sucking" generalization turns out to have statistical, reproducible evidence backing it upon further investigation.  He notes here that "No single statement in my Foreign Affairs article attracted more critical comment than 'Islam has bloody borders.'"

            Huntington cites other evidence favoring "the Muslim propensity toward violent conflict" based on "the degree to which Muslim societies are militarized."  Here he leans upon James L. Payne, Why Nations Arm (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989), pp. 125, 138-39 as his data source, while using 80% of the population as the criterion dividing line for what counts as a "Muslim" or "Christian" country.  In the 1980s, he notes, "Muslim countries had military force ratios (that is, the number of military personnel per 1000 population) and military effort indices (force ratio adjusted for a country's wealth) significantly higher than those for other countries."  The average force ratios and military effort ratios of Muslim countries were roughly twice of (professing) Christian countries in that decade.  This is an empirical way to measure militarism, and (obliquely) how seriously an ideology of jihad (the unofficial sixth pillar of Islam for some Muslims) affects the former.  Huntington cites Payne's remark,  "Quite clearly, there is a connection between Islam and militarism."  For Muslim countries, the average force ratio for 25 nations was 11.8 and the average military effort was 17.7, but for (professing) Christian countries (57 of them) the average force ratio was 5.8 and average military effort was 8.2.

            He also cites work by Christopher B. Stone and Wilkenfeld, Brecher, and Moser (eds.) to conclude:  "Muslim states also have a higher propensity to resort to violence in international crises, employing it to resolve 76 crises out of a total of 142 in which they were involved between 1928 and 1979.  In 25 cases violence was the primary means of dealing with the crisis; in 51 crises Muslim states used violence in addition to other means.  When they did use violence, Muslim states used high-intensity violence, resorting to full-scale war in 41 percent of the cases where violence was used and engaging in major clashes in another 38 percent of the cases.  While Muslim states resorted to violence in 53.5 percent of their crises, violence was used by the United Kingdom in only 11.5 percent, by the United States in 17.9 percent, and by the Soviet Union in 28.5 percent of the crises in which they were involved.  Among the major powers only China's violence propensity exceeded that of the Muslim states:  it employed 76.9 percent of its crises.  Muslim bellicosity and violence are late-twentieth-century facts which neither Muslims nor non-Muslims can deny."  (p. 258)

            So, has the picture changed any over the past decade?  Huntington's figures generally use data from the 1980-94 period.  So is this Islamic propensity a mere "accident of history"?  Or are there deep underlying reasons theologically for Islamic nations and ethnic groups to go to war more often with each other and/or people of other nations and belief systems/civilizations?  Importantly, his arguments on the subject of the Islamic world’s greater propensity to wage war can’t be refuted by personal attacks on Huntington.  Just because Huntington has some bad ideas on other subjects doesn't mean what he says elsewhere is necessarily wrong:  That's "guilt by association."  It doesn't deal with his arguments on the point in question, but it's a distraction.  It's yet another logical fallacy.  David Singer is an atheist--should Christians associate with atheists?  Does that render suspect everything he says on any subject, but especially religious ones?  If the background and other beliefs of all the authors of all the books a political science researcher has read could be discovered, couldn’t far worse follies be uncovered, like their being Marxists or Communists?  By this same argument that’s used against Huntington for having some sympathies with authoritarianism, every book written by a Marxist or Communist should be equally ignored.  It's the same as attacking Jeane Kirkpatrick's general foreign policy by noting one place where she was seriously mistaken (by supporting Argentina against Britain in the Falklands War), which doesn't touch the fundamentals in question.  Perhaps Huntington had in mind Singapore and Chile when making certain comments about dictatorships and/or third world countries’ ability to develop economically . . . which brings us once again back to Dictatorships and Double Standards, and realpolitik versus idealism, doesn't it?







            Is America today hated for its flaws or for its virtues?  That is, is (say) the Arab world’s hatred of the United States a result of (say) favoring Israel and having a corrupting moral influence through its dominant media influence (Dinesh D’Sousa’ thesis) in the world today?  Or is it a result of the infidel West’s being much richer, having more freedom, and having more influence  the Arab world has today?  Is not part of this response connected with how humbled the Islamic world is compared to its much more glorious (medieval) past vis-à-vis the West, which America is part of?  American popular culture, including the English language, blue jeans and McDonald’s, has such a dominant influence in the world today it’s easy for many to resent it, as the case of the French shows.  Obviously, which variable someone cares to emphasize becomes a matter of selective perception, since it’s going to be both.


The problem of envy rears its ugly head once again here, when the Arabs (or Muslims) are forced to contemplate the objective superiority of the West by many measures.  How much fear do the Muslim world’s men have in the more conservative states (i.e., Saudi Arabia here) and radicals within the more moderate ones (i.e., Egypt, officially secular here) because the freedom the West’s women have may spread to their own countries?  Little will provoke many men’s psychological insecurities more than the idea that they can’t control their women, especially in a culture with strongly defined male/female sex roles which are rooted seventh century tribal Bedouin values that are “hardwired” into Islam’s DNA.  The West’s/Israel’s example may undermine their control by giving Arab Muslim women reasons to resist it and an example to copy. How many Saudi women, if educated in the West, not only know that it’s legal for women to drive and walk about publicly unescorted by male relatives alone in America or Europe, but actually experienced it for themselves?  What about the freedom to vote, travel abroad, and to testify in court on one’s own behalf?  Here the West’s example is very dangerous in practical terms.  This may motivate far more hate than (say) one’s empathy for the Palestinians’ plight (i.e., a few mistreated fellow Arabs, who often over the decades were no worse treated by the Zionist state’s government than Arabs were by their own governments) does on a practical basis.  (It’s easy to overlook this unnamed motivation if one has never been married).

            Envy is another source of “blowback” since America’s and the West’s wealth is a source of hatred as well. It isn’t sufficient, however, since the Mexicans, Nigerians, Indians, Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipinos, etc. are poor, historically mistreated by United States and/or Western foreign policy, etc., yet they don't hijack airplanes and blow-up skyscrapers with them or send suicide bombers against Seder gathering(s) and wedding(s).  Why do some Muslims do this, but not the oppressed of other cultures/religions?  It’s necessary for Westerners to reject the Islamic world’s victimology from various historical grievances as justification for their terrorists’ actions, as the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair observed in his “A Global Alliance for Global Values”:  “This terrorism, in my view, will not be defeated until we confront not just the methods of the extremists but also their ideas.  I don’t mean just telling them terrorist activity is wrong.  I mean telling them that their attitude to America is absurd, that their concept of governance is pre-feudal, that their positions on women and other faiths are reactionary.  We must reject not just their barbaric acts, but their presumed and false sense of grievance against the West, their attempt to persuade us that it is we and not they who are responsible for their violence.” The West must not give the sanction of the victim to the Islamist terrorists and their Muslim sympathizers, fellow travelers, etc., in order to make them feel more justified in their actions.


            But there’s another reason besides revenge (i.e., the real word for “blowback”) here that needs exploration concerning Arab or Muslim resentment of American foreign policy. American weakness, not strength, may also be why Osama bin Laden and the Arab Street hate America.  Because America is perceived as decadent and weak (largely properly so, having had its “pride in power broken” and plenty of moral rot worth criticizing), Islamist terrorists may believe America’s influence is easily ended if they inflict enough pain on it.  The Japanese thought similarly before striking Pearl Harbor, although the American-educated Yamamoto was well aware of America’s potential military potential:  If we make it too expensive for them, the Americans will give up and let us have our conquests.  Now the terrorism which is caused by appeasement needs active consideration.  Once America showed resolve after 9-11 and took out successfully a Muslim country whose government was harboring terrorists (indeed, arguably dominated by them, since the Taliban weren’t really fully in charge), the Arab Street fell silent.  That’s because standing up to bullies can have this kind of effect when punishing by example.  The Arab world respects strength once it’s shown, even if they might not like its manifestations.  The Wall Street Journal did spend months beating the drums for war with Iraq, believing that America’s taking out Hussein’s regime and replacing it with a friendly pro-Western regime would devastate the Islamic fundamentalist movement like nothing else, other than (perhaps) the Mullahs’ losing power in Iran.  Osama bin Laden himself and others in al-Qaeda have looked at America in this manner (i.e., morally weak and without resolve if attacked), which was to them an open invitation to attack.  The operation in Afghanistan, I suspect, has made them think otherwise, since Bush and company here took skillful military advantage of local ethnic divisions to dispose of the Taliban at minimal cost.  If W. Bush remakes Iraq successfully, it would be further evidence of American resolve that would silence the Arab Street.  For as the operation against the Taliban succeeded militarily, a great dropping off of public protests against America occurred, something then reversed (alas!) by Sharon’s operation in the West Bank.  That is, the Arab Street, seeing American resolve, will fall silent when they know Washington means business, but the Zionist state’s blunders and sins can easily inflame it again.  (Of course, I admit, there’s an inconsistency in saying America can take out terrorism militarily in Afghanistan, but Israel can’t in the West Bank, but then here we’ve got the long-run solution/short-run pain conundrum: Giving the Palestinians their own state may eliminate many daily resentments Israeli occupation inflicts that breed terrorism  But because Palestinian resentment runs so deep going back to 1948 and before, their would-be independent state would be a terrorist state on the model of Libya, Iran, or Iraq.  Since they would still seek to destroy Israel, would we (America), as Rush Limbaugh has asked, want to encourage the creation of a Palestinian state?). Likewise, the German “blowback” after Versailles could easily have been disposed of by French, British, and Soviet resolve during the diplomatic crises when the Ruhr was reoccupied in 1935 and/or at Munich in 1938.  Thomas Sowell recently observed that, concerning Hezbollah’s attacks on Israel and Israel’s (disproportionate?) response in Lebanon in the July 2006:  “Those who start trouble will have a lower price to pay than if those they attack were free to go all out in their counter-attack.  Lowering the price paid by aggressors virtually guarantees more aggression.”  Likewise, Israel’s unilateral abandonment of the Gaza strip and of almost all of Lebanon didn’t satiate its enemies, but emboldened them to demand more and to attack more. Appeasement and defeatism, thus, can promote blowback


The swift and sure retaliation "variable" may not always work, but neither does appeasement.  Rush Limbaugh had a colloquial way of stating this principle, which illustrates the trade-offs and judgment calls policymakers in international relations make.  He used the example of how the Europeans dealt with the Soviets and later Islamic terror.  Many said, Don't criticize or make the bullies angry, or they will come attack us.  Let's make nice, and the problem will go away.  On the other hand, the "peace through strength" approach says, The bullies will respect us and leave us alone if we push back and show we'll defend ourselves.  We should publicly criticize them, such as Reagan did the Communists by saying to Gorbechev, "Tear down this wall!"  Likewise, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali observes, Western weakness won’t make the Islamist threat go away (


See, the Christian powers have accepted the separation of the worldly and the divine. We don’t interfere with their religion, and they don’t interfere with the state. That hasn’t happened in Islam.  But I don’t even think that the trouble is Islam. The trouble is the West, because in the West there’s this notion that we are invincible and that everyone will modernize anyway, and that what we are seeing now in Muslim countries is a craving for respect. Or it’s poverty, or it’s caused by colonization. The Western mind-set—that if we respect them, they’re going to respect us, that if we indulge and appease and condone and so on, the problem will go away—is delusional. The problem is not going to go away. Confront it, or it’s only going to get bigger. 


Admittedly, in any given situation, it’s possible appeasement (or submission) might work, at least for a time, in buying peace temporarily.  Or, the push back approach may really make the bullies angry, and worsen things.  In the Israeli-Palestinian dynamic, one retaliation follows yet another attack by each side.  Suicide bombings cause the Israelis to put a tight check point system into place and to build a wall, which further angers the Palestinians even as these measures successfully reduce the number of Israelis getting killed.  Hence, increased Israeli “oppression” results from their (successful) desire to protect themselves better. 




            But from a social science research perspective, a key problem arises:  How can a researcher setting up a multi-covariant regression analysis include a variable such as "swift and sure retaliation" and/or "appeasement" as a "cause" of terrorism?  It’s nearly unquantifiable, yet has a real existence, as the Soviet/Lebanon and Reagan/Libya cases below both show.   Furthermore, as the Bernard Lewis piece "Was Osama Right?" (Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2007, p. A21) explains, "blowback" doesn't happen if the would-be takers of revenge fear counter-attacks.  Despite the officially atheistic Soviet Union ruled half a dozen Muslim countries as suppressive colonialist power, when one of their diplomats was killed and others kidnapped, their retaliation against the family of the leader of the kidnappers was both swift and sure.  End result:  They suffered no more kidnappings or attacks in Lebanon, unlike for the United States and various European countries, especially after America quickly withdrew the Marines after a suicide bombing on their barracks in 1983, thus arguably appeasing Hezbollah.  Like the Soviet Russian experience in Lebanon, after Reagan bombed Libya in 1986, Qaddafi basically stopped launching terrorist operations against Americans.  So can this variable (the willingness to fight back when attacked by revenge-seekers), or any ideological variable that's non-quantifiable, easily be made a subject for social science regression analyses? Perhaps in part because the Soviet Union was a superpower, not a small nation under siege (i.e., Israel), the local Arabs took the former’s "swift and sure retaliation" much more seriously than the latter’s.  The Arab Muslims also may have deemed the Soviet Union's colonial rule over half a dozen Muslim nations a relatively unimportant factor in their geopolitical calculations because these nations in central Asia, including even nearby Afghanistan, were unimportant compared to the Jews returning to the heart of the Middle East to set up their new nation-state.  Because of their anti-Jewish obsession, the Arabs also badly wanted aid from the Soviet Union to fight Israel, thereby choosing to dismiss from their active concerns the problems of millions of their brother Muslims living involuntarily under a godless European-ruled totalitarian state. Politics makes strange bedfellows indeed.  My enemy's enemy is my friend, right?   Furthermore, these fringe areas were dominated by a less orthodox version of Islam, as has been pointed out, and were populated by non-Arabs.  So they didn't count for much.  (All Muslims are equal, but some are more equal than others, eh?)  Irshad Manji's encounter with Arab Muslims who felt superior to Muslims of other ethnicities (The Trouble with Islam Today, pp. 134-35) makes me think Arab ethnic pride may well have been another reason why Soviet colonialism/imperialism could be more easily overlooked than America’s indirect backing of Israel.  The Arab/Muslim double standard here still remains, when the numbers and degree to which Muslims were suppressed under Soviet rule are compared to Israel’s.


            Now, the idea of nationalism (or national identity) has been a much more recent and weaker development in the Muslim world than the Western world.  That is, religious identity is proportionately much more important than national identity to a Muslim compared to European.  Hence, we get the "House of War" (the non-Muslim ruled world) vs. "House of Peace" (Muslim-ruled nations) distinction.  The Turks, who controlled Egypt at least theoretically in 1882 when the British attacked, were merely one more empire in conflict with other great powers.  They had conquered Egypt, and now (de facto, if not de jure) lost it.  Muhammad Ali drove out two Ottoman governors and and the Mamelukes, but then still got appointed governor by the Ottomans, thus showing showing his formal recognition of Istanbul's authority.  Egypt wasn't truly independent when the British intervened.  Astonishingly enough, the sultan in 1881, while wanting to retain only the rather nominal rights of suzerainty that he still possessed, even offered to give Britain exclusive control and administration of Egypt!  (See Karsh, “Islamic Imperialism:  A History,” p. 103).  Talk about imperialism with an engraved invitation from the “victim”!  When Austria and Russia, starting at the tail end of the seventeenth century at the treaty of Carlowitz, were able to impose unequal treaties on the Turks, they were merely starting to take back what had been lost in prior centuries to the Muslim Turks.  The whole process of Balkanization, beginning in particular with the Greek revolt, were merely oppressed dhimmis seeking national and religious freedom from the "Sublime Porte."  Here we have moral equivalency, for he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword (Matt. 26:52).  Somewhat curiously from a strictly religious perspective, the British were so suspicious of Russian expansionism towards India that they often sided with the decaying Ottoman Empire.  The great power rivalries leading to the Crimean War (1853-56) and later the Congress of Berlin (1878) overruling the Treaty of San Stefano (1877) are both cases in point.  The "Crusader states," being practical folk, befriended their enemy’s enemy. 



Notice the ideological variable left out here when the Muslim world is compared with, say, Latin America and the Caribbean.  Did the overthrow in 1954 of Arbenz in Guatemala by the CIA at the request of the United Fruit company in later decades cause that country’s citizens to form terrorist groups that launched a huge amount of terrorist activity against the United States?  Yet similar interference in 1953 in Iran that took out Mossadegh and put the Shah back into power is their excuse to wage terrorist campaigns through such surrogates as Hezbollah against the United States.  The same goes for Haiti.  How many decades did the United States effectively rule Haiti in the last century?  For example, the Marines occupied this country from 1915 to 1934.  But how much international terrorism do Haitians create that strikes American and European soil?  Likewise, a Puerto Rican nationalist could argue the American “occupation” of his nation, acquired by America after the Spanish-American War ended in 1898, has never ended.  How much terrorism does Puerto Rico presently produce against America?  Sociological variables, such as poverty, a history of colonialism, a high GNI (economic inequality), political oppression, angry young men, large families, refugee status, blah, blah, blah, etc., simply are not sufficient explanations of the formation of major non-governmental terrorist groups relative to this key ideological variable, as this international comparison shows.  Conservative Muslims (especially those accepting Islamist ideology) have an entitlement mind-set:  Since they feel they are the true believers, the rest are infidels or worst, why shouldn't they be in charge of the world?  If they aren't, the "natural order" has been unfairly inverted, so it should be (forcibly) corrected, especially when that faith has a major philosophical/political problem in separating their religious establishment and the state.  The ideology of jihad (well documented in the Quran, Hadith, and the teachings of the legal schools in the early period before the banning of basic theological innovations) authorizes the aggressive warfare that began in the seventh century, including when Muhammad's successors attacked the Sassanid and Byzantine Empires.  The Spanish-speaking Roman Catholics, lacking such an extensive history providing ideological justifications for it, produce much less international terrorism, especially after all those "inevitable revolutions" ceased when that other "ideological variable" (i.e,. Marxist Communism in the form of the Soviet Union) ceased to be around as a financier and "inspirational/aspirational" model for "angry young men" hiding out in the jungles, hills, and mountains.  Hence, for this ideological/religious reason, although most Muslims aren't terrorists, most terrorists nowadays are Muslims since the end of the Cold War (1992). 


The comparison between how much international terrorism is produced by Latin America relative to the Middle East against the United States holds especially well when noting we didn’t occupy Iraq and Afghanistan before 9-11.  (Furthermore, does anyone honestly believe the American intentions from these occupations are like those of the Nazis or Soviets in the past when occupying newly conquered areas, something designed to exploit economically these countries and/or to permanently rule them like colonies or permanent possessions?  Did we annex Kuwait, despite its oil wealth, after 1991?  What about Somalia after Bush 41 engaged in a humanitarian intervention there?  What about Germany, Italy, and Japan after World War II?  Do we still rule them, or did we reform and democratize them before allowing them to become sovereign nations again?  Aren’t those also Bush 43’s intentions for Iraq and Afghanistan?)  We didn’t occupy a Middle Eastern country on 9-11, nor when the Kenyan and Tanzanian embassies were bombed, nor when Khobar Towers was hit, nor when the Cole was nearly sunk nor when the World Trade Center was first hit.  The same goes for earlier attacks:  Was the United States “occupying” Lebanon (rather than Syria!) in 1983 when a suicide bomber killed 241 Marines? How about Libya’s role in 1988 in blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland and in 1986 attacking a West Berlin discotheque that killed three, including a American serviceman.  (The last incident was significant, for after Reagan had Tripoli bombed in response, Libya decided to stop promoting as much terrorism internationally against the United States.  This is empirical evidence that swift and sure retaliation can reduce the amount of terrorism a country experiences).  If a history of imperialism, i.e., “outside oppressive interventionism” creates terrorism, the United States probably intervened militarily 50 times more in the Caribbean and Latin America over the past 120 years than in the Middle East, but Latin Americans (including Puerto Ricans) have produced 1/50th of the number of terrorist incidents (suicide bombers are just a subset of these) that Muslims have against the United States.  It’s a false idea to claim there’s some kind of hard, rigid cause-effect relationship here, that X amount of imperialism (or oppression) necessarily causes Y amount terrorism in response, which Dr. Mark Tessler implicitly may believe. 


So the problem with Dr. Mark Tessler's construct is the subjective, chosen response in supporting terrorism as a result of feeling oppression from outside intervention.  That is, the United States surely has intervened much more militarily and otherwise in the Caribbean and Latin America than in the Middle East when the past 150 years are considered.  The Correlates of War political science project, presumably somewhere, has an impressive list about how many times and for how long America's forces occupied or landed in Haiti, Nicaragua, etc.  But how much international terrorism does Latin America "export" to the United States or elsewhere compared to the Middle  East?  Sure, we have had a few terrorist incidents of note from Puerto Ricans, but the main constitutional political debate there concerns whether to become a state or stay a commonwealth, not over becoming independent, such as in Quebec's case.  The United States dubiously overthrew democratically elected regimes in both Guatemala and Iran during the Cold War, the latter with British help also.  But how much terrorism does the former produce against America (or other developed Western countries) compared to the latter allegedly in retaliation for interventions there?  There's a proven record of far more American interventions in our backyard compared to the Middle East historically over the past 120 years, yet we have far more terrorism produced against American targets from our far fewer Middle Eastern interventions.  No simple "one for one, intervention causes terrorism" cause-effect ratio exists here.  Since there's the grossly different response in the amount of terrorism produced by "outside interventions," however defined, some OTHER variable produces this difference.  What’s the difference?  Look to the cultural template of the Muslim mind-set as an explanation:  It’s much more apt to produce international terrorism under equivalent conditions (of intervention causing oppression or whatever) than the Latin American mind-set.  And  that's where "ideas have consequences," that the primary texts of the Quran, the Hadith, and the Sharia are very support of intrinsically aggressive Isalmist ideology, regardless of whether or not there's an actual caliph around to lead the would-be jihadists in question. 


            Consider the implications of the terrorist plots and actions by Muslims living the West, where these sociological “explanation,” i.e., excuses, hardly operate, such as the Toronto plotters.  Do a side-by-side "lab experiment" (comparison) between the Islamic world and the rest:  Some kind of other non-economic, non-sociological "input" (explanation) must exist for the grossly different amounts of “output” (terrorism).  It’s necessary to turn back to look at the ideological sources of jihad as cited by conservative Islamist writers and scholars themselves in the primary sources of Islam as the explanation of the difference.  Ideas have consequences.  Jihadist theology explains much of the difference, especially when the Islamic terrorists themselves cite it for their own purposes.  It's simply blindness to pretend the idea of jihad as found in the Quran, the hadith, the Sharia, the four traditional legal schools, etc., has no consequences, that it doesn't motivate actions.  Doesn't what the Bible (or Christian tradition) teach have its consequences in motivating actions by conservative Protestants and Catholics over and above any economic/sociological explanation?


            It's worth considering why these other countries, however, having experienced Western imperialism/colonialism themselves, produce a lot less domestic terrorism in most cases (relative to the size of their populations, such as by comparing India's with Palestine's), and export far less of it to the West out of vengeance.  After all, the Wall Street Journal piece by Leon De Winter (“My Only Son,” June 8, 2007, page A16) describes a good sociological variable to keep in mind (i.e., overall family size and differential birth rates) in explaining why some nations become more pacific than others.  That is, the larger the number of sons in the average family, the more that society has parents willing to sacrifice one or more of them in warfare for broader societal goals.  But ideological reasons explain much of this difference also, not just economic ones (i.e., in industrial societies, young children are non-productive, unlike in agricultural ones, where child labor is a time-honored practice).        



Another contradiction arises within the Muslim’s critical viewpoint concerning America's support for various dictatorships in the Middle East.  When the United States is realistically pragmatic, and just merely cozies up to (say) Mubarak and the Saudi princes, and dumps billions of dollars into the former's regime, Muslims are angry.  But when the United States knocks over two really nasty dictatorships without the United Nations’ approval (Iraq and Afghanistan), and attempts to impose democracy on them, Muslims are also angry.   In the case of Iran, W. and company apparently hope Iran’s people overthrow the mullahs while playing "bad cop" to the European's "good cop" in attempting to pressure Iran to give up their nuke-building program.  Also rather ironically, after having suffered nearly 30 years under the Mullahs, the average people of Iran, despite the CIA helped to overthrew Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq in 1953, are often more pro-American than their leaders.  By contrast, the people living under American-backed regime in Egypt are much more hostile to America on average.  In the former cases (Iraq and Afghanistan), America does not respect self-determination, but it does for Egypt.  Should Muslims condemn the United States when Washington allows some Muslims to oppress other Muslims, without overthrowing those regimes also?   .  


            Actually, since America (and Britain) were the leading powers in saving the world from totalitarianism in the past century, one could just as easily say these nations (Muslim and otherwise) should thank Allah on their bended knee for American influence in the past century.  The Arabs who foolishly collaborated with the Nazis during World War II   (like the Grand Mufti) would have ended up like Laval, Petain, or Horthy at best, or radically racially subordinated like the Slavs in Poland and Russia were under German occupation (i.e., slave laborers who were to be denied higher education) (Think of how badly Russian prisoners of war were treated during World War II  compared to the Brits and Yanks in German hands, for example.  I believe about five-sixths of all the millions of Russian/Soviet prisoners of war died in while in German captivity).  The Afghanis could tell the rest of the Muslim world what it was like under direct Russian communist domination as opposed to merely getting military aid and expertise from them to help fight against Israel (like Egypt under Nasser and early Sadat).  If the Nazis and the Japanese during World War II , or the Russian and Chinese communists during the Cold War, had conquered the world, the Arabs would have found the world a much less congenial place to live in on an everyday basis.  For after all, Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza (or Palestine entirely, if one goes back to before 1948) only affects directly a minute portion of the world’s Arab population.  Furthermore, Israel often treated the Palestinians by many social/economic measures for many decades than the surrounding (especially non-oil state) regimes treated their own people from an overall human rights viewpoint.  For example, nothing in the verifiable Israeli record equals what Assad did at Hama, despite all the loose, irresponsible rhetoric describing Israel’s conduct as “genocide” and “terrorism” in recent years. By contrast, Arab regimes treat their own people often much worse, such as Hussein’s gassing or destruction of Kurdish villages:  That’s (governmental) terrorism and genocide by a real definition of the words, not irresponsibly loose ones. Alan Dershowitz’s book, The Case for Israel, should be read by all anti-Zionists, and then rebutted with specific, verifiable, reproducible facts, if one wants to claim Israel’s human rights record has been unusually bad.  Had the Arab world fallen under (especially) Nazi or Russian communist domination (as part of the Russian/Soviet drive for oil and warm, ice-free sea ports, such as in Afghanistan), THEN they would have found out about what “terrorism” or “genocide” really is.



The word "terrorism" can be cheapened until it means almost nothing.  Part of the liberal-left/Muslim discourse on this whole subject over the years has been to define it so broadly that almost any disagreeable action is included.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the (political) definition of "terror" as "violence (as bomb-throwing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands."  Now, if governmental actions are included as "terrorism," such as the total war tactics of World War II   aerial bombing campaigns, then nearly all governments become "terrorist" in wartime, which cheapens the word.  This isn't to say such tactics are moral, such as the British night-time and American bombing raids during World War II   that set off firestorms in cities such as Hamburg, Tokyo, and Dresden, for nowadays even the world generally condemns such tactics.  And if we examine the Muslim record during its wars with Israel, and compare Israel's relative record back, we'll find Israeli civilians being deliberately targeted far more on average than Israelis deliberately targeting Muslim civilians on average.  After all, when Hezbollah lobs scuds or other missiles into Israel during this most recent war in Lebanon, who was targeted?  The relative extreme care of the United States during the two wars in Iraq to use smart bombs, etc., are another example of relatively humane tactics, granted the general immorality of war intrinsically from a Christian view.  (There are higher and lower rungs in hell, so to speak).  Muslims, at this point in the game, plainly dominate non-state terrorism.  Is an apologetic purpose the purpose behind why the liberal intelligentsia and/or Muslims advance a broad definition for “terrorism” that includes state actions?  To make every government, armed political group, and civilization all (nearly) equally “guilty”?  To let Islamic civilization off the hook?  It is just one more way to excuse, rationalize, justify, relativize, “explain,”  blah, blah, blah, etc.,  the sins of Muslims with political grievances when they deliberately target civilians?  Instead, civilized people should always condemn this tactic and should never resort to it regardless of their grievances.  And the case could be made that Israel treated those in the occupied territories often better than authoritarian Arab governments treated their own people.  For example, Assad killed more rebels at Hama (10,000 to 25,000 dead) than Israel killed in both Intifadas (1987-91, about 1162 Palestinians died; 2000 to present, around 4100, according to Wikipedia).   How many Jews could sue in a Middle Eastern country, and hope to win in that country's Supreme Court?  Yet Arab Muslims have successfully done so.  For the definition of “terrorism,” it’s necessary to become philosophical, in order to examine why we choose particular definitions of words used in political and other contexts.


Noting that a hundred scholarly or diplomatic definitions exist for “terrorism,” Alan B. Krueger and Jitka Maleckova point out the difficulties in defining the word.  They cite the American State Department’s definition, which excludes direct governmental activities implicitly:  “The term ‘terrorism’ means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetuated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.”  The State Department goes on to explain, however, that they include attacks on off-duty members of the armed services and American bases when there’s no state of military hostilities present.  (See “The Journal of Economic Perspectives,” “Education, Poverty, and Terrorism:  Is There a Causal Connection?,” vol. 17, no. 4, fall 2003, pp. 119-120).  They also acknowledge that scholarly definitions often include governmental caused acts of terror as well.



            As has Rush Limbaugh observed, "terrorism works" versus liberals.  That is, liberal skeptics can ridicule Christians and even Jews all day long, such as the cutting edge artists who concoct things like putting a crucifix in the artist's urine or putting pornographic pictures and nailed elephant dung on a picture of the Virgin Mary.  (Indeed, for this level of "creativity," they even demand or expect governmental support!)  But they don't dare do this to Muslims:  You may get your head cut off or your work place bombed if you (say) republished the Muhammad cartoons as part of "the public's right to know."  Or, you’ll face a cascade of harsh, bitter denunciations from Muslims that claim criticizing their faith is (somehow, since Muslims can be of any ethnicity) “racist.”  Notice the New York Times and other major media outlets in the United States have chosen not to reprint these cartoons, as legitimate news items,  which speaks to their fear, not merely to their desire not to offend, for they willingly offend or attack conservative Christians.  They also may fear apparently what could happen to their reporters in certain foreign bureaus if they expressed solidarity with certain European newspapers by reprinting these cartoons.  The liberals say they fear the religious (Christian) right, but their actions as elite journalists bespeak this as often being mere rhetoric, for their self-censorship shows they really fear what some Muslims might do to members of their organizations.



Since most of Africa has been a general nightmare since independence, not obviously better off in most cases than when it was under colonial administration, the record of anti-colonialist sentiment expressed in John Gunther's “Inside Africa” doesn’t prove much by comparison in the decades since its writing.  For example, descriptions of daily life in Ghana since independence merely confirm that one set of problems was exchanged for another often worse.  And this leads to such general issues as:  1.  Is national self-determination is the ultimate political value?  2.  Are there double standards and selective perception in condemning one government’s smaller sins more than another nation’s bigger sins?  Why do Israel's human rights violations in the semi- or formerly occupied territories receive so much more media attention and general condemnation than (say) China’s in Tibet and elsewhere, a much bigger nation with a much worse human rights record?

Should self-determination the ultimate (secular) political value?  Do any other values, such as the levels of governmental efficiency, oppression, and corruption, matter by comparison? In the case of the Germans in Sudetenland (like those of Silesia, East Prussia, and Pomerania, who were already in Hitler’s Third Reich) simply wanted to express their nationalism, and join another nation state that reflected their own culture more.  Here, like in today's Africa, a boundary line was drawn for reasons unrelated to language, culture, or ethnicity.  The Treaty of Versailles left almost entirely in place the old Austrian-Hungarian border also (in my understanding) as a way to give Czechoslovakia a defensible frontier against a possible future German attack.  Some very impressive fortifications were built there, that did gravely concern Hitler later on, after having partially bluffed the British and others into getting his way with the Munich Pact.  (He realized personally more so what a risk he had been taking, that the German Army wouldn't have rolled through Czechoslovakia so easily, as it did in nice and flat Poland in 1939 when using its blitzkrieg tactics).  So then, if a group chooses to express a desire to join an existing nation state, or create one of their own, should they be allowed to do so?  What specific criteria do we use for judging this systematically?  What standards should be used to make such political judgments?  Or do we get to pick and choose?  Is the Balkanization of Austria-Hungary “bad,” but that of the Soviet Union, “good”?  Is the independence of Ghana from Britain “good,” but that of Egypt from Ottoman Turkey, “bad”?  Does this then justify ethnically cleansing these Germans then (as occurred after World War II), or any other irredentist group also, should they fail in their quest for nationhood?  Perhaps after signing some peace treaty with Israel, suppose the Palestinians fail in their quest after yet another war:  Would that justify "transfer" then? 

  Are some nationalisms “good” and other cases “bad” (i.e., dysfunctional)?  Let’s focus on the specific case of Pakistan.  Did Jinnah and the Muslim League had mass popular support in India for partition prior to Indian independence in 1947?  Lawrence James, “Raj:  The Making and Unmaking of British India,” contains useful information on this issue that’s drawn on here.  In 1936-37 major provincial elections were held in India.  Although Congress (the main party/movement that resisted British rule in India) swept the elections when 15.5 million Indians showed up to vote (about half of those eligible), "An analysis of the poll showed that Muslims had very little confidence in Congress, but scarcely more for the Muslim League, which had yet to present itself as a mass party" (James, “Raj,” p. 536).  But by the elections of the winter of 1945-46, this had changed, thus confirming the results of 1937:  "The League dominated the Muslim vote and secured Bengal and the Sind.  It gained 79 of out of 175 seats in the Punjab, but was excluded from power by a coalition of Sikhs, Hindus, and the Muslim Unionist Alliance."  The Muslim League also put up "stiff" opposition to Congress's control of the North-West Frontier province (p. 590).  But what changed between the two sets of provincial elections to radicalize Muslim public opinion?  "The catalyst which transformed the League into a nationwide popular party was the behaviour of Congress in power.  A political spoils system operated, by which incoming Congress ministers distributed offices to party supporters, forcing Muslims out of jobs and diminishing their local influence and access to power" (p. 537).  True, Congress officially attempted to be above the Indian religious divide.  Even Jinnah, the lead of the Muslim League and the future leader of Pakistan, himself had once been a member of it.  But the predominantly Hindu character of the organization inevitably won out in practical terms.  "In spite of all the endeavours of its leaders and, for that matter, Jinnah, Congress had never been able to persuade the Muslims that it was truly bipartisan.  Their [the Muslims'] enthusiastic response to the League's mass rallies of the late 1930s and early 1940s [more evidence of mass popular support for partition among Muslims] were an indication of the extent to which Muslims had, rightly or wrongly, imagined themselves excluded from a national movement whose rhetoric and theatre was always distinctly Hindu.  Whatever else he may have achieved, Jinnah had at least given the Muslims a sense of identity and purpose.  The swiftness of his rise to power suggests that they had been seeking both for some time" (p. 536).  Undeniably, unlike the case for the nationalist/communist Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, Jinnah and the Muslim League had actual election results backing their party’s goal of carving out an independent Muslim state from British-held India.


Now the Kashmiris did get the shaft from the Indians by not being allowed to join with Pakistan back in 1947.  Nehru didn’t keep his promise to hold a referendum in Kashmir over whether to join Pakistan or stay with India.  (See Andrew Roberts, “A History of the English-speaking Peoples since 1900,” p. 398).  But, if Pakistan (i.e., South Asian Muslims) should never have been given the right to self-determination anyway, can that then be condemned?  If one says Pakistan shouldn't exist because south Asian governments are more politically dysfunctional than they would have been had they stayed unified, shouldn’t India have held onto Kashmir?  Hypothetically, suppose the Muslims revolted in the northwest after the Congress party denied them self-determination.  Should the Indian army have been sent in to forcibly occupy the area?  How well would have the Indian army fared against the Muslim tribesmen fighting as guerillas on the northwest frontier?  Doesn’t that sound like Kashmir today, but only on a much bigger scale? 


A vote for the Muslim League, Jinnah’s party, was tantamount for being a vote for independence from the rest of the India.  It's similar to Quebeckers voting for the separatist party in Quebec.  The general intent of people voting for such parties can’t be sensibly doubted.  Sure, to have a further plebiscite to confirm the results would have been nice.  Likewise, with two failures within two decades for the party wanting independence, this occurred in Quebec.  After the Muslim League and its supporters had successfully built up such solid support among Indian Muslims in the countryside, it’s hard to doubt the results would have been any different for a plebiscite.  The traditional level of suspicion among people who won't (if serious) marry or even eat with each other makes national separation a logical end result.  Furthermore, the Muslims had once ruled India before the British takeover, but they knew that in a democratic India they would never have the votes to rule again, like they did under the Mogul emperors.  Do we have, for other independence movements that we don’t question, results as compelling as those from the provincial elections I cited above, which support Pakistan’s legitimacy?  Even for the United States initially, John Adams (I believe), a good Patriot leader and rebel against the Brits, once conceded initially that only a third of the colonists favored independence, a third were loyalist, and a third in the middle or indifferent.  So the mere existence of an armed rebellion against a colonial power isn’t necessarily the best proof for discerning a people’s desire for self-determination.  And, in the case of Pakistan (in the northwest of colonial India), could have anyone kept these people from rebelling had they chosen to do so?  The British had had enough trouble trying to control the Muslim tribesmen themselves?  Should have the British and/or Hindu Indians have sent in their armies to put down an armed revolt should have the Muslim League had called for it?  Would they have been any more successful ultimately than (say) the French were in Vietnam or Algeria in denying this group of people exercising their (well) right to self-determination?  The Muslim League plainly wasn’t going to go away quietly if their demands for an independent Pakistan had been denied by Gandhi, Nehru, and Mountbatten.]


That the feelings of Indian Muslims today are different shows how artificial nationalism is in many cases.  Likewise, many Israeli Arabs wouldn't (presently) want to move from under the Zionist Entity’s control since their standard of living and level of political freedom are both higher than in much of the Middle East.  Since it is an ideological choice, people can choose to embrace or reject nationalism for their self-defined group.  Can any of those who make such choices be called "wrong" if one believes self-determination is the ultimate secular political value?  If one exalts this value above all others, one must accept the results (i.e., independence for yet another "nation") when the masses and their leaders make (arguably) foolish choices.  Did believe Jinnah and company made a bad decision in favor of making Indian Muslims a "nation"?  Based on a secular worldview, aren’t they equally entitled to expression through its own government as a nation-state a priori?  But if they make that (bad) decision, if one believes all independence movements should be respected once they gain a certain level of support, if self-determination is the ultimate secular political value, then one can't pick and choose who's entitled to a nation-state and who isn't.   Not liking the political results practically doesn't make a given nation-state less legitimate than another if (again) self-determination is a political value that trumps all others (i.e., efficient administration, non-corrupt justice, political freedom, economic freedom, social freedom, etc).

Clearly Jinnah's nationalism had far more evidence of mass popular support than (say) Ho Chi Minh’s declaration of independence from French rule had in 1945.  (Of course, hostile observers later admitted that had an election for president been held in a united Vietnam in the 1950s, Ho Chi Minh would have won).  So, are we going to pick and choose what "nations" have a right to self-determination and which ones don't?  Consider in this context Eric J. Hobsbawm's work, “Nations and Nationalism Since 1780:  Programme, Myth, Reality.”  Although he, as a skeptical Marxist, pushes his thesis too far, he still shows how subjective the concept of a "nation" can be.  It's still undeniable how nationalist sentiment can be so easily created in a given set of people given the right circumstances when no single set of objective criteria works in all cases (differing languages, religions, ethnicity, etc.)

             Should self-determination be the ultimate absolute of secular politics?  Should other values, such as corrupt and efficient government, the amount of freedom from governmental coercion in economics and social life, and political liberty (freedom of speech, religious, the press, etc.)   A dictatorship run by one's own people may not be better than colonial control from abroad when the latter can be better than the former when rated by other political values.  True, it’s a good a priori construct normally that if one’s rulers are like and from the nation they rule that they will treat their people better than rulers who aren’t.   Consider putting together, as contemporary historical bookends, John Gunther's “Inside Africa” and George Ayittey’s “Africa Betrayed.”  Much of sub-Saharan Africa would have been better off to have had colonial rule continue, assuming no wars of independence would have occurred.  Often in Africa there’s more misery, at least for a time, after decolonialization than before, since the local elites often were so corrupt, tribalist, and exploitive.  And were conditions, such as indicated by the standard of living and levels of oppression and warfare, really better if blacks were exploiting blacks before the Western powers showed up, not just after they left?    For example, compare how many miles of paved roads were in Belgian Congo c. 1950 compared to Congo today.  Note how well the railroads and agricultural sector worked in Rhodesia when compared to Zimbabwe today.  Self-determination without democracy isn’t worth a warm bucket of spit.  If you’re black, it doesn’t matter much in real terms if you’re dictators are white or black, if they discriminate against you for being of the wrong race or from the wrong tribe.  Also, if my government can't fill in the potholes and avoid taking bribes for getting driver's licenses, the psychological pride in being "self-governing" (meaning, a corrupt native elite exploits me instead of foreign white Europeans) means almost nothing practically speaking.  By almost all objective measures, the Chinese living in British colonial Hong Kong were better off than those under Mao’s rule in Communist China.  Mao gave his people "self-determination" that the people in Hong Kong didn't have, but he killed perhaps 60 million of his countrymen while his nation’s traditional grinding poverty continued or even deepened.  Over a millions Chinese refugees fled to Hong Kong during the Cold War (during just 1949-1962 alone).  They willingly risked their lives by voting with their feet to come under British colonial rule rather than still be ruled by their countrymen.  (See World Almanac, 2005, p. 764).  Are their values necessarily wrong?


Under the British Raj in India in 1906, the Prince of Wales asked the moderate Congress Party leader Gopal Krishna Gokhale whether if  Indians would be happier if they ran their own country.  He responded:  “No, Sir.  I do not say they would be happier, but they would have more self-respect.”  (See Lawrence James, “Raj:  The Making and Unmaking of British India,” pp. 420-421).  Now, couldn’t there today be older blacks in Zimbabwe suffering under Mugabe who (silently) pine for the days of Ian Smith’s racist regime?  The Chinese who fled to Hong Kong during Mao's rule obviously thought British colonialism was better than a worse government (totalitarian communist) under their own people's control.  What makes the Africans who Gunther interviewed (some of who might later have had some creeping doubts after actually experiencing the "fire" of native dictatorships after the "frying pan" of colonialism) always right and these Chinese who voted with their feet wrong?  Thus, to them at least, communism with self-determination was worse than colonialism without self-determination.

            The nature of transportation systems is that infrastructure should be built to follow commerce rather than picking some ideal system a priori that can't pay for itself.  Hence, if the resources of a nation need to be transported someplace to be sold, the main transportation lines have to follow that logic. Otherwise, useless infrastructure gets that's a pure waste of money.  It doesn't make much sense to build railroads if people can’t pay for the tickets to ride them or to build concrete highways for oxcarts.  Without sales to international markets and the foreign exchange so generated (and the extra value generated by the international division of labor through trade), local people are left to the standard of living of subsistence farmers or whatever their traditional lifestyle yields.

            The British ruled India better than the Belgians treated the Congo.  The British trained up a native elite to administer the country in its governmental bureaucracy.  Not all British had pictured permanent colonial rule over India, such as shown by the famous statement of Lord Macaulay about Indian education in 1835:  “Come what may, self-knowledge will lead to self-rule, and that would be the proudest day in British India.”  (As quoted in Roberts, “A History of the English Speaking Peoples,” p. 398).  The lack of a native educated elite in Belgian Congo points to a major problem, since they were kept from being ready to rule themselves.  Even many Congolese didn’t want the Belgians to leave as soon as they did after the choice for independence had been made.  In retrospect, it would have been better had the colonial rulers made a more gradual transition towards independence for countries that lacked enough skilled, educated people by having more of them over (say) two generations.  Immediate independence without a skilled elite was an obvious recipe for disaster.  But that leads to this issue:  Granted that the Belgians failed miserably to educate enough natives for the Congolese to rule themselves effectively, should have full independence been delayed for (say) 30 years until enough local people had been "shown the ropes" practically speaking, and trained for the responsibilities of rule?  A more gradual process of increasing self-rule would have served them better than immediate, full independence did.






            Consider this analogy: There is a place in the world today where millions people of a particular ethnicity were driven out and or killed.  Their land was stolen from them, and they had to seek refuge and resettlement among others of their nationality.  This occurred in the 1940s.  But these people (at least most of them most of the time) don’t press world opinion or even their own country they have resettled in to claim back what they lost a generation earlier. These are, of course, the Germans ethnically cleansed from Silesia, Pomerania, and East Prussia by the Soviets in 1945 and from Czechoslovakia.  Furthermore, about two million German civilians may have been killed (if I recall correctly) during this operation in the closing months of World War II.  This death toll exceeds by about three orders of magnitude worse than anything that happened to the Arabs in 1948, which mostly concerned those displaced, not killed.  (Since both sides were guilty of atrocities, it's pro-Palestinian propaganda and not objective scholarship to cite the Jewish atrocities and skip over the Arab ones).  Does the Germans’ plight elicit any attention, let alone sympathy, from the world at large?  Of course not.  Why?  The Germans are perceived as getting what they deserved for voting Hitler into power (after various constitutional and parliamentary maneuverings).




Notice another key point here: Had the Arab world REALLY treated the Palestinians as their brothers, they would have let them resettle among them, just as the Indians took in Hindus from Pakistan, Israel took in Jews from the rest of the Middle East, the Germans took in Germans from the East, and the Pakistanis took in fellow Muslims from India.  Consider the pogrom that killed 600 Jews in Bagdad in 1941.  Would that be a safe place for Jews to stay?  If you were a Jew, would you want to remain there after that incident if you had a safer place to live fairly close by?  Today, there’s no serious movement among Germans from the East to take the western third of Poland, and have it turned into another German state independent of the rest of Germany.  No significant public discussion occurs favoring such an idea, let alone terrorist movements actively working for it.  Lest we forget, Poland’s border with Belarus is substantially the same as the one Stalin negotiated with Hitler in 1939 as part of the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact.  Thus, some of the fourth partition of Poland was never reversed.  (Admittedly, Stalin was arguably partially entitled to what he grabbed on ethnic grounds, since the Western Allies at Versailles pushed the Polish border too far to the east in order to punish the Bolsheviks for dropping out of World War I).  Hence, had the Arab regimes taken in their fellow Arabs and Muslims after 1948, and let them assimilate and immigrate among them, granting them full citizenship, much of the mess in the Middle East today (that is, the part caused by the Arab/Israeli conflict) wouldn’t exist. But since Egypt, Syria, Jordan, etc., wished to maintain a source of pressure and propaganda against the Zionist Entity, they mistreated their fellow brother Arabs to accomplish their political end.  Israel’s sins in this regard are hardly unique since there have been plenty of displaced people over the past two generations that didn’t generate the same bad set of problems.  It’s not just the “great catastrophe” that caused the Palestinian refugee camps, but how others reacted to it afterwards politically.  Furthermore, what percentage of Palestinians were actually “ethnically cleansed” by deliberate Jewish action?  Consider carefully Efraim Karsh’s articles in “Commentary” magazine, “Were the Palestinians Expelled?” (July 2000) and “The Palestinians and the ‘Right of Return’” (May 2001) and his “Fabricating Israeli History.”  To rebut his case, verifiable facts are needed.  He can’t be just dismissed for being just as partisan as his opposition.



            Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statement in the wake of 9-11 that Israel was hated because of the West, not the West because of Israel, contains a deep truth that needs to be recognized. Interestingly, one Saudi official in the Wall Street Journal said the same thing nearly, which is truly amazing (i.e., one’s enemy confirms one’s own analysis). The basic problem  here is that everything for the Arab world socio-politically has failed over the past generation.  (Here I draw upon Fareed Zakaria’s analysis in Newsweek in his cover article about “Why They Hate Us,” or perhaps also from the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page).  Secular socialism (i.e., the Baath party of Hussein and Assad, or of Nasser in Egypt) for example) has failed.  The old monarchies, many of which have been overthrown over the decades, such as Faraouk in Egypt, the Shah in Iran, or Idris in Iraq, often didn’t work much better in places where they survived.  The Mullahs in Iran know their people have a remarkable yen for Western goods and freedom even as they may also hate (say) Israel and America’s diplomatic and  economic support for it.  Given the outside pressures, the remarkably open, free political system that the Jews have set up in the Middle East continually rebukes and embarrasses the surrounding dictatorships.  Israeli Arabs have more political freedom than any other Arabs in the Middle East, and more than most Muslim nations generally have had.  (Turkey and  Bangladesh presumably are the clearest exceptions).  The Zionist state’s relative economic success despite the pressures of war, the rumors of war, and a lack of mineral wealth (i.e., oil) indicate the deep problems within Arab culture.  


Incidentally, when is it the Palestinians’ turn to obey the government of military occupation over them (Romans 13) and to turn the cheek?  It’s rather problematic to demand constantly and repeatedly that the Israelis/Jews should obey Matthew 5 and never say the Palestinians should also. Isn’t this selective perception and a double standard?  But of course, since almost every piece of land on the earth worth having has been stolen from somebody at some time by somebody else by the use of force, it’s rather late in the game to criticize only those who did it last, such as the Western imperialists of the past three centuries.   


            Is it unfair for God to protect Israel?  Does He give it special treatment?  What did Paul write?  “As it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’  What shall we say then?  Is there injustice on God’s part?  By no means!  For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’  So it depends onnot upon man’s will or exertion, but upon God’s mercy”(Romans 9:14-16).  God has a plan works out in ways we don’t always find pleasant until it’s finished.  For example, Zechariah 12:9-14; 14:14 could only be fulfilled by having a lot of Arabs displaced somehow by some means.  To fulfill these texts, a critical mass of self-governing Jews have to live where these Arabs were.  A would-be independent Arab Palestine would never have allowed so many Jews to immigrate there, had it been free from Turkish or British control.  A couple of hundred thousand Jews, a small minority of the local population (or of the world's Jews as a whole), couldn’t fulfill these prophecies that portray Judah being there already when the Second Coming occurs.  Apparently God used the Zionist movement (including its British and American supporters) to get this goal accomplished, much like He used Rahab’s lie to protect the spies visiting Jericho. (Correspondingly, Truman ultimately saw himself as a modern-day Cyrus!  Likewise, Lloyd George and Balfour (despite his own skeptical tendencies), also had religious, not just imperial, motives for supporting the Zionist cause.  See Michael Rydelnik, “Understanding the Arab-Israeli Conflict:  What the Headlines Haven’t Told You,” p. 70)


            Could true Christians correctly participate in forcibly fulfilling prophecy when it would violate commands found in Matt. 5?  Obviously not.  But God may use unbelievers to accomplish His overall will even when they are violating His other commands.  Now God wants both people to turn the check and to put Jews back into the Middle East in a large, self-governing body.  So how is this conflict to be resolved?  Likewise, consider how a pacifist Christian’s personal safety and property, indeed his or her very life, depends on the willingness of the local police force to violate routinely and banally violate Matt. 5 when arresting and detaining criminals.  Is this God’s will?  What does Romans 13 say?  “For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed by ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. . . . For it is a minister of God to you for good, But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword [the symbol of capital punishment since Roman citizens, like Paul, were beheaded for capital offenses] for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil.”  Now, does this allow Christians to join police forces and then arrest and forcibly detain criminals?  May they also execute murderers?  Of course not.  It would be sinful.  Does the local police department (or the FBI or the State of Michigan police) sin by violating Matthew 5.  Of course. But God uses the governments of this world to maintain law and order as part of his OVERALL will.


 The Zionist movement clearly sinned, as does the local police force that protects a pacifist Christian’s very life and property.  But God used it to accomplish his purposes in getting His chosen people (Romans 11 shows they still are even after the old covenant ended) back into the Holy Land.  The prophecies of Israel’s regathering as God’s chosen people plainly are plainly in a different category than prophecies about the Beast power’s rule in Europe.  Why?  God will not undo the Zionist movement’s basic results during the millennium:  The Arabs will not get to go back. God will use people who sin to accomplish his overall will, whether we like it or not politically.  For if (say) there was no Zionist movement, God would still have to find some way to get a bunch of Jews back into a large, self-governing concentration in the Middle East somehow before the Second Coming.  Necessarily then, those squatting on the same land (which the Romans with local native assistance was stolen from the Jews) since 70 and 135 A.D. or from years had to be displaced somehow.  (The history of the Palestinian Jewish conflict did not begin around 1900, which is a key premise of the belief system this essay is based on).  Now we could say if everyone had obeyed God in the world (fat chance!) then God would have to force this outcome to occur by clearly miraculous means.  But it’s obvious that God at this time doesn’t want to be obvious by “showing His hand” too much.  God doesn’t want to perform today huge, showy miracles like the separation of the Red Sea.  That would put too many people in the position of being called at this time (cf. Matt. 13:10-17).  It would be people motivated excessively by the fear of the sight of God since faith would be then almost necessary. Likewise, if everybody had obeyed Matt. 5:38-48 except for a small criminal element, God would have to miraculously intervene to protect the vast majority refusing to protect itself against a small aggressive minority.  (Look at the history of Colonial Pennsylvania in this light, when the Quakers controlled the state government.  Their situation shows some of the practical issues and dilemmas that actually arose historically when pacifists controlled a government in the world).  But God at this time doesn’t wish to use transparently divine power to accomplish his ends when minor tugs and pushes that aren’t fully clear witnesses to the world are enough to do the job.  Hence, the Zionist Entity is no more illegitimate in God’s sight than is any local police department, which protects pacifist Christians’ very lives by sinning routinely every day in violation of Matt. 5.


            But since all governments and all nation-states have waged war, stolen land, arrested criminals, etc., they all violate Matt. 5:38-48.  Why should someone focus so constantly and selectively on the sins of one of the governments of the world (i.e., Israel’s) and let the others off the hook by omission by rarely condemning them specifically verbally?  Why are some revolutionary movements deemed “good,” such as Ho Chi Minh’s, which went on to kill 1 million people, and the Zionist movement’s “bad”?  Which has run up the higher body count?  Would have the Swedish Prime Minister Olaf Palme have walked arm-to-arm with the ambassador of a fascist or racist government that killed 1 million people?  No enemies to the left, eh?  More double standards and selective perception, right?  (This figure for Vietnam is based on a review of The Black Book of Communism:  Crimes, Terror, Repression, edited by Stephanie Courtois and  trans. by Mark Kramer and  Jonathan Murphy, published by Harvard).  Chile’s dictator Pinochet made less than one thousand “disappear” but Castro has 100,000 go through his labor camps and 15,000 to 17,000 killed (data from same source above).  However, who has been feted by left-wing intellectuals for the past generation?  Who has the worse human rights record?  Who left his country as an economic wreck?  The Zionist Entity's human rights violations are way down the worldwide list for the top sinners among the world’s governments, but look at who gets so much attention!  May anti-Semitism be at work?  Noooooo, we’re assured. Hah!


            Now when does the blowback/revenge cycle end?  For example, one could readily argue Hitler’s coming to power and the diplomatic crises that led to World War II in Europe were the result of blowback resulting from the too-harsh measures of the treaty of Versailles.  (Many of these strictures had been repealed or sharply cut back before Hitler took office, thanks to the Depression, Brunning, Stresemann, etc., but those changes weren’t enough, right?)  In turn, a key cause (necessary, but not sufficient) cause of World War I was French resentment, or the desire for ravanche, against having Alsace-Lorraine taken from them by Bismark in 1871.  It’s easy enough to trace back the cause-effect chain further in these situations (like to Louis XIV over Alsace-Lorraine).  Similar, though more tactical and shorter in time span, are the tit-for-tat retaliations between Israel’s government and the Arabs or Palestinians for various terrorist strikes, bombings, and assassinations.  But the approach used by the like of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, of passive resistance against the oppression or restrictions their people faced would be a much better tactic (and also more conducive to long-run forgiveness) than blowback/revenge-seeking.  These tactics could readily work against a democratically-elected government that believes fundamentally in basic human rights.  They wouldn’t have worked against any government willing to engage in mass slaughter, such as Stalin’s or Hitler’s.  (The Nazis, however, had some fear of German public opinion because of the 1918 revolution.  Interestingly enough, the regime did respond some to protests against euthanizing the handicapped). But the Arab mind-set is still well-described by Genesis 16:12:  “And he will be a wild donkey of a man, His hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him.” Such a mind-set would find pacifism is especially hard to accept.  It also helps to explain all the wars and threats of wars among the Arabs (i.e., Libya/Egypt, Syria/Iraq, etc.) or against other Muslims (i.e., Iran/Iraq, Syria/Turkey).  For no level of mistreatment that the Palestinians have suffered justifies the murder of unarmed civilians in the name of a political cause.


Blowback is merely a way to blame the victim of retaliations. It’s a way to rationalize and justify real terrorism (using the word in the proper sense, not the popular loose sense pro-Palestinian propaganda is addicted to these days).   It’s a way to claim America is guilty first, regardless of the sins or errors of the opposition or the real benefits given to the opposition by American military power in the past (such as freedom from Nazi or Soviet domination—how much thanks do we get for that these days?)  The Kuwaitis, despite being saved from Iraq’s tender embrace in 1991 by American military power, resent us for supporting Israel. Fine, let's pull out our troops from Kuwait, and let them deal with Saddam on their own.  (This was originally written before the present Iraq War—EVS).  The same could be said for Saudi Arabia.   (This same "friend," incidentally supplied 15 of the 19 9-11 hijackers, which points to the issue that those involved in this terrorism weren’t Palestinians, i.e., those actually oppressed by Israel, but those often quite well off socio-economically, which means poverty wasn’t any direct source of 9-11).  If the Arabs want the Yankees to go home here, should America be willing and  happy to oblige and leave them to dealt with their own neighborhood bullies.  (Here I speak not as a Christian, I admit, but from a secular viewpoint, since Christ’s kingdom is the real solution to all these messes).  Whoever owns the oils wells in the Persian Gulf still will want to sell us the oil anyway, right?  Otherwise, they will revert back to a Bedouin and pre-industrial subsistence farming standard of living, right?  Of course, “blowback” can come from military/diplomatic operations others supported, such as the Persian Gulf War.  Two of the three of Osama bin Laden’s stated reasons for opposing America come from that war:  American infidel troops being stationed on the “holy” soil of Saudi Arabia (i.e., near Mecca and  Medina) and the starvation and poverty of the Iraqi people coming from sanctions against Saddam Hussein’s regime. (But after Saddam invaded Kuwait, the Saudis invited us in, right?  They feared the Muslim Iraqi army more than the infidel American army at that point).  “Blowback” can come from “good” things also.  Could there be “blowback” to come from America’s operations in the Balkans, as good-intentioned and altruistic as they are? Could the deep resentment the Orthodox Greeks have against our operations against Serbia in Bosnia and Kosovo/a make it harder for us to keep Turkey and Greece from declaring war against each other some day?  Could the Serbs cause still more troublesome other way that’s more damaging?  Only the future will tell. 



            The Arab Islamic world remains so backward despite some nations receive so much in oil revenue from the West's thirst for their oil partially because of their fixation on wanting to attack Israel and on resisting the "House of War" in general, including the United States.  That is, if one forgives, and moves on emotionally, one can build a new life for oneself often.  Consider how the Japanese Americans reacted after largely losing their property in 1941-42:  They didn't launch a terrorist movement in response, but knuckled down hard economically, and they today are one of America's wealthiest ethnic groups on a per capita basis.  But so long as an individual's, or a nation's, mind is fixed on gaining revenge or righting a perceived or actual wrong, they won't economically progress much.  The developed world fears Chinese exports, and the outsourcing of jobs to India, and competition from a number of other nations in East Asia that also experienced imperialism and/or colonialism.  After they decided to copy the West, much as Japan had done earlier, they are now rising economically, instead of figuring out how to get revenge against their former colonial masters (or imperialist influencers).  Hence, the Greeks displaced by the Turks after World War I, and the Germans displaced after World War II lost much economically, including land they had long occupied, but they were able to build new lives for themselves elsewhere.  Had the Arab nations allowed their ethnic brothers, the roughly 650,000 Palestinians displaced in 1948-49, the same treatment as Israel did for Jews leaving the Arab Middle East for their new homeland, the Palestinian terrorist movement would be much weaker.  People really can start to forgive if they can move on emotionally and economically, rather than nursing their old wounds.  Of course, by continually resisting the Israelis even more dangerously by terrorist tactics (instead of Gandhi-style passive resistance), it encourages crackdowns and further restrictions, like the check point system and building the wall, which means resistance can provoke more (well) "oppression."



            It’s important to note that many of the Arabs only had moved to the British mandate in Palestine in the immediately preceding decades as the Zionist movement's economic development created jobs for them.  The likes of the "World Almanac 2005," which isn't exactly a document spouting Zionist propaganda, comments in its capsule summary on Israel (p. 789):  "Jewish immigration, begun in the late nineteenth century, swelled in the 1930s with refugees from the Nazis; heavy Arab immigration from Syria and Lebanon also occurred."  Benny Morris, an Israeli historian who sympathizes with the Arab side, admits a number of rural Arabs in the area had become landless in the decades since the mid-nineteenth century until the 1948-49 war occurred.  This made it much easier for them to choose exile when the war came.  The United Nations was aware that many Palestinian refugees hadn't been residents long in the villages they came from in 1948, so they made the remarkable decision to change the definition of a "refugee"!  And only for the case of Arabs leaving from what became Israel!  It included any Arab who had lived in Israel for two years before he or she left!  Furthermore, if they moved just a few miles from one part of Palestine to another, they also were "refugees," even if they ended up at the village they had lived in a few years previously!  (See Alan Dershowitz, “The Case for Israel,” pp. 85-87).  Such are some of the embarrassing specific facts on the ground that in many cases undermine the general charge of "ethnic cleansing."


            What was the actual historical intent of the Jewish leadership, in particular, Ben-Gurion (the first prime minister of Israel) and the Haganah (really, the forerunner for the Israeli army, the IDF)?  If their original goal for the Mandate’s Arab citizens was "transfer," its glaring absence from Israeli operational and political planning in 1947-49 is stunning.  The Israeli historian Efraim Karsh ("Fabricating Israeli History: The 'New Historians',” pp. 45, 50) reveals the fraudulent reworking by Benny Morris of Ben-Gurion's statements that supposedly favored transfer.  The Jewish Agency Executive meeting of 1938, ten years earlier, has Ben-Gurion saying:  "But the Arab policy of the Jewish State must be aimed not only at full equality for the Arabs but at their cultural, social, and economic equalization, namely, at raising their standard of living to that of the Jews."  In a handwritten letter to his son Amos in 1937, Ben-Gurion also wrote, "All our aspiration is built on the assumption--proven throughout all our activity in the Land [of Israel]--that there is enough room in the country for ourselves and the Arabs."  Hence, to say the Jewish top leadership were planning deliberately and intentionally to ethnically cleanse out the Arabs long before the 1948 War is simply false.  Ben-Gurion shouldn't be compared to Milosevic, whose activities against the Bosnians, Kossovars, Croats, etc., created the term "ethnic cleansing."  Sure, the Irgun of Begin engaged in terrorist activities against Arab civilians (such as so infamously at Deir Yassan), much like the Arabs did versus the Jews during the 1948-49 war, but remember he didn't become the first prime minister of Israel, but became one only decades later.


            Repeatedly, the Arabs have rejected a two-state solution down through the decades of the twentieth century when the Jews would accept it, including in 1947-48 when the United Nations had proposed it and when Clinton pressed Arafat and Barak to sign a peace treaty.  But the Arabs in 1947-48 also had rejected the one-state solution with both Arabs and Jews having equal rights.  So to compare Palestinian Arabs' situation with American Indians' being given full citizenship is problematic.  Instead, the Arabs banked on driving the Jews into the sea during the upcoming war for Israeli Independence (1947-48).  When that operation failed, the Palestinian refugees were left largely confined in their camps by the Arab world as well.




            But there's another answer to Bernard Lewis' question, "What Went Wrong?," based on inspired revelation.  Consider what Numbers 24:9 says concerning Israel:  “Blessed is everyone who blesses you, and cursed is everyone who curses you.”  Similarly, as part of the Abrahamic covenant being passed down, Isaac blessed Jacob by saying, “Cursed be those who curse you, and blessed be those who bless you” (Gen. 27:29).  To spend a generation cursing Israel still has divine consequences that didn’t expire with the old covenant (which is separate from the Abrahamic covenant, cf. Gal. 3:16-19).  Paul wrote that Israel (not just the Jews, but all the tribes living elsewhere) are still God’s chosen people (Romans 11:2): “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.” Much of the Muslim world, and especially the Arab world, have been obsessed with condemning and attacking verbally Israel, such as shown by seemingly endless number of United Nations resolutions that single out Israel's relatively small sins compared to (say) many dictatorships, such as many communist ones (past and present) like China's.  All this absurd anti-Semitic propaganda against Jews in general is in the same category, such as by reprinting the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and by spreading the old blood libel.  So then, is it a mere coincidence that the Arab world remains so relatively backward economically and politically compared to the West, including Israel as its witnessing outpost?  Why are the East Asians and East Indians starting to leave them far behind economically and educationally despite they also had various bad experiences with the West?  Individuals obsessed with cursing “The Little Satan” may not do so well themselves either.  Hence, it wouldn’t be wise to align American foreign policy with those who curse Israel on a daily basis.  The same could well go for criticizing “The Great Satan” chronically harshly beyond what is morally balanced and reasonable also, if we believe its people are mainly descended from one or more of the Ten Lost Tribes as well. 


            There's also another reason why the Jews' success, and the West's in general, so irks the Arab Muslim world.  To a given degree hard to quantify, but nevertheless it is real, the West is envied and thus hated for its successes (economically, militarily, technically, even politically), not its flaws, and correspondingly the same goes for Israel.  The Muslims deem themselves to be the true believers; the People of the Book are infidels destined for eternal hellfire unless they repent and convert.  So then, they have to wonder:  Why are we in the inferior position?  The Jews in the first century asked about this as well when the Romans controlled the Judea:  Why are we the chosen people of God under the government of these awful idolatrous gentile foreigners?  Ironically, the Palestinians in the (formerly or semi-occupied) territories suffer a dhimmi or second class citizen status, at some level, similar to what the Jews had suffered for centuries under Muslim rule in the "House of Peace."  O, it must cut like a knife, the mockery, even blow-back quality, of their quandary!  The natural order has been inverted:  Jews ruling over Muslims is like dogs ruling over people!

            Just because something can't be easily quantified doesn't mean it has no existence or can’t count as a "theory" or "hypothesis.”  Facts are normally boring or even incomprehensible without a generalization for organizing them.  Take, for example, the standard liberal construct about the subtle discrimination blacks in America have faced in the classroom, in which they live up to, or down to, what the expectations of the teacher:  If he (or she) assumes they will fail, they will live up to that expectation disproportionately.  They often internalize the stereotypes themselves to a degree, thus ironically holding themselves back as well.  Perhaps we can’t be as rigorous as educational psychologists, and administer tests or other methods of quantifying a nation's psychology or character and how that affects their level of economic progress.  (But Hofstede's work gives a good approach to actually trying to do this).  It’s a reasonable postulate, however, that being obsessed with getting back at one's enemies can indeed dysfunctional from an economic viewpoint nationally, since preparations will be made for war or other military or terrorist actions, not for building up one's economy through getting an education, starting businesses, establishing universities, etc.



            The American humorist and author Mark Twain visited the Holy Land in 1867.  His book "Innocents Abroad," published in 1881, contains a statement often cited about how empty of people Palestine (then a Turkish province) generally was then.  He described the terribly desolation of the land before the Zionist movement’s settlers had started to change it:  "[A] desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given wholly to weeds--a silent mournful expanse . . . A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action  . . . There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere.  Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of the worthless soil, had almost deserted the country."  He visited there various landmarks for pilgrims, Christian and otherwise, even if he was (at least later) a solid skeptic about the truth of Christianity because of the problem of evil.  It’s unlikely that he visited the desert for the sake of admiring the desert’s beauty in itself.  Here’s another quote of his from the same source:  "Stirring scenes . . . occur in the valley [Jezreel] no more.  There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent--not for thirty miles in either direction.  There are two or three small clusters of Bedouin tents, but not a single permanent habitation.  One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings.  . . .  Come to Galilee for that . . . these unpeopled deserts, these rusty mounds of barrenness, that never, never, never do shake the glare from their harsh outlines, and fade and faint into vague perspective; that melancholy ruin of Capernaum:  this stupid village of Tiberias, slumbering under its six funereal palms. . . . We reached Tabor safely. . . .  We never saw a human being on the whole route.  Nazareth is forlorn. . . . Jericho the accursed lies in a moldering ruin today, even as Joshua's miracle left it more than three thousand years ago; Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and their humiliation, have nothing about them now to remind one that they once knew the high honor of the Savior's presence, the hollowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night, and where the angels sang, "Peace on earth, good will to men," is untenanted by any living creature. . . . Bethsaida and Chorzin have vanished from the earth, and the 'desert places' round about them, where thousands of men once listened to the Savior's voice and ate the miraculous bread, sleep in the hush of a solitude that is inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes."  (This version as in Dershowitz, "The Case for Israel," p. 24).  Dershowitz also (p. 26) cites a British consul in 1857 in Jerusalem commenting in a commique, "the country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is that of a body of population."

            The response to Twain’s characterization is that Palestine was a well-developed, urbanized area when the Zionist movement began to send settlers to this area.  This appears to be Muslim propaganda.  A half million people in an area of roughly 10,000 square miles really isn't that much if we're talking about urbanization.  This area is about the size of Massachusetts, which has about 6.4 million people presently, making for a population density of about 821 people per square mile. Today, this same area (including the semi-or formerly occupied territories) has nearly 10 million people.  The New York City borough of Manhattan had just over 1,850,000 people in a mere 22 square miles in 1900.  So the question is, what definition of "urbanization" was used to say this was a highly urbanized area?  Do villages of poor tenant farmers count as "urban"?  Are towns of 2,500+ inhabitants "urban"?  Would the Gopher's Prairie of Sinclair Lewis's "Mainstreet" count then as "urban"?  Maybe this area was only relatively "urbanized" compared to (say) the wastes of what later became Saudi Arabia or some other even more backward area of the Middle East at the time. 

            It’s apparently Arab Muslim propaganda to claim Palestine was urbanized and well-developed.  It’s trying to rebut the Zionists’ description of Palestine as being generally desolate before the economic development fostered by the Jewish settlers took hold.  After all, even in 1948 in the Jewish section, the place still had at least 40,000 Bedouin nomads.  The wide spaces they would necessarily wander through a priori contradicts the claims that this area was highly urbanized.  Consider that statement by one Dutch (?) visitor to a city in northern Ghana or Nigeria centuries ago.  It is used as a good primary source to make the extrapolation about how good a place West Africa was (better than a city (Leyden?) in the Netherlands, which was one of Europe's most developed areas) before the European slave trade flourished, which undermined the region politically.  So then, why isn't Twain's statement at least as good as a primary source then about conditions in Palestine, if we're going to be consistent in using primary historical sources?



            Admittedly, an argument legitimizing the modern State of Israel based on its the present educational and economic achievements despite its lack of oil wealth resembles one of the more interesting arguments justifying the Westward pioneering movement that drove out the Indians.  That is, the (usually) white settlers made much more productive use of the land than the Indians had beforehand.  This is a utilitarian argument morally, operating on the assumption of “the greatest good for the greatest number,” which necessarily discards justice as an alternative value.  Likewise, when considering the generally economically lifeless and backward condition of the Holy Land circa 1867 (such as in Mark Twain’s descriptive characterization), it likely wouldn't have changed much compared to (say) the present condition of Syria or Egypt without the Zionist movement’s arrival.  (Likewise, Cuban exile community pumped great economic vitality into Miami through its business connections with Latin America, as aided by its good educational levels/professions and knowledge of Spanish).  From a Christian viewpoint, this isn’t a good argument intrinsically, for the ill-use of land doesn't morally justify its confiscation by another party.  (Urban renewal programs taking land from slum lords might be an exception!)  Bradford Burns, a hardcore leftist, wrote in “Latin America:  A Concise Interpretive History,” willingly endorsed a version of this argument against the United Fruit Company in Guatemala (p. 271).  The landless peasants who had gotten the company’s fallow land under Arbenz’s land reform program and later lost it suffered for it afterwards.  So the hard left can use a version of this argument, not merely those whitewashing the confiscation of land from the Indians originally.  Now, an excellent case for land reform can be made in principle based on the Jubilee system of Scripture (Leviticus 25, 27), so that can be pointed to as an exception.  But overall, the "native-ill-use-of-land" argument needs to be rejected as a moral justifier of colonialism/imperialism from a Biblical standpoint.  "Thou shalt not steal" applies regardless.


            The oppressed of any nation in history don't have God's permission to rise up against its government, as per Romans 13:1-2:  "Everyone must obey the authorities that are over him, for no authority can exist without the permission of God; the existing authorities have been established by him, so that anyone who resists the authorities sets himself in opposition to what God has ordained, and those who oppose him will bring down judgment upon themselves."  This point is hard for a Christian to concede.  Likewise, to turn the cheek is a requirement for everyone at all times in this dispensation.  God provides for no right to violent self-defense when we take the Sermon on the Mount at its word.  (See Matt. 5:38-48).  This means any nation's oppressed have to place their faith in God's justice and vengeance instead of imposing their own will violently on their oppressors.  And that's a hard saying, to say the least.  But it is the Biblical standard.  Shouldn’t all Christians agree that everyone has to obey their human governments (so long as they don’t order believers to disobey God’s law) and has to turn their cheeks as what God wants of all humans presently?   

            When in reply someone says, "You know that is not going to happen in this age" concerning people under evil governments not necessarily turning their cheeks, that argument suddenly makes the shift to a secular value judgment from these Biblical commands.  But we should clearly admit when we’re shifting back and forth between secular and Biblical moral principles.  It's illegitimate to use the Sermon on the Mount's principles to morally condemn conquest and imperialism, but then ignore it when the subordinated class or nation resists those in positions of authority over them.  It's immoral to strike back even when you've been mistreated!   Whether it be the French or Poles under German occupation in World War II, or the Palestinians under Israeli rule presently, everyone is supposed to obey even evil governments so long as they don't violate their religious rights.  Face it, the Palestinians are sinning by rising up in rebellion against their Jewish overlords, even if the Jewish overlords are also sinning by having a relatively unjust rule over them.  (Of course, by the standards of the Middle East, before the two Intifadas, it really wasn't that bad.  Syria’s Assad killed far more fellow Arabs in Hama in a few days than the Israelis have killed Palestinians in both Intifadas, for example, which brings up the double standards/selective perception arguments again). 

            Oppressed groups who revolt face two other key problems:  First, will the mistreated people end up making things worse for themselves if they are successful in overthrowing their oppressors?  How many (older) blacks in Mugabe's Zimbabwe today might be thinking,  "Well, it really was better for us under Ian Smith's racist regime?"  How many Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were recently willing to admit (as per a New York Times’ report) that they would rather have the Israeli occupation back rather than (at the time) continued civil war between Hamas and Fatah?  Consider another perhaps less charged case:  Was the French Revolution of 1789 overall good or bad?  What do you focus on when making your judgment?  The Terror, Robespierre, and the eventual dictatorship of Napoleon?  Or do you focus on the peasants getting a lot more land, a lot of economic restrictions being ended, and more political rights for average people over the generations afterwards eventually stemming from it?  Most likely most of Africa would have been as well run or better run since c. 1960 had the colonialist regimes stayed in place when their records during the preceding 40 years are compared and then hypothetically projected forward towards the present.  As evidence for this assertion, consider data found in George Ayittey's "Africa Betrayed."  The local native elites have generally been worse than the old (racist) colonialist masters were.  Statecraft often is about choosing the lesser of two evils, that there is no utopia attainable, that life is about trade-offs between one decision's consequences and another decision's consequences.  Sure, someone could reply, the colonial masters should have better prepared and educated the locals for running their own affairs (such as in the case of the Belgian Congo).  But it's not obvious that the total sum of human happiness has been advanced for most typical Africans on a daily basis by decolonialism:  The "feel good" emotions of waving the flag and bidding the white man good-bye don't help fill in the pot holes and keep the right crooks in jail.  What good does it accomplish, in practical terms, to be exploited by a native elite that racially resembles you rather than one that doesn't?  Is preferential treatment based on tribalism really any better than preferential treatment based on racism?  Did Africa fall from the frying pan into the fire over the past generation or two?


            Second, if the oppressed don't succeed, will their superiors crack down, and make conditions worse for the subordinated group?  For example, the suicide bombers were instrumental in encouraging Israel to build that hated wall, to tighten the check point system, and to generally cut off using them as workers, thus causing much more unemployment among the Palestinians.  So then, to protect themselves, the Israelis implemented all these repressive measures.  So whose fault are they really?  If the Palestinians hadn't resisted so violently through the Intifada (as opposed to, say, using non-violent tactics ala Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.), these extra repressive measures wouldn't have been implemented.  One can rationalize, justify, whitewash, etc., all these acts of rebellion, of course, but the Palestinians have made things worse for themselves by rebelling against the government that's over them.  True, if it weren't for the Palestinians resisting the Israelis, it's hard to imagine that the likes of Sharon would have abandoned the Gaza strip.  But, nowadays, how much of a consolation is that?   For had Arafat signed the deal Barak offered him, the Palestinians could have had most of what they now seek and their areas' economy wouldn't be such a wreck.  They even would have gotten part of Jerusalem.  It’s been said that Arafat, or the Palestinians in general, have never lost an opportunity to lose an opportunity.





            Does God use people who sin in order to accomplish his overall will since He doesn't want to obviously unveil His miraculous power in the nations' sight presently?  We know that in order for these two verses to be fulfilled that a number of Jews (or Israelites) would have to move to, or back to, the Middle East before the Second Coming, not merely afterwards (Zech. 14:6-10):  "In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves; they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left, but Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place--Jerusalem.  The Lord will save the tents of Judah first, so that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall not become greater than that of Judah.  In that day the Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the Lord before them.  It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.  And I will pour o the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced.  Yes, they will mourn for Him [Jesus Christ] as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as ones grieves for a firstborn."  Obviously, for the Jews to occupy the Holy Land in much greater numbers than they had been there compared to previous centuries, before the modern Zionist movement, would inevitably involve some Arabs getting displaced.

            It does no good to attack the intrinsic legitimacy of the state of Israel (at least, it's no more illegitimate than, say, France's government)  by saying this like the to-be fulfilled prophecy about Beast, for God does have a continuing relationship even with His physical people (which brings up the whole issue of dispensationalism), even when they have been and are sinful, even after they rejected the Messiah:  "I say then, has God cast away His people?  Certainly not!" (Romans 11:1).       

            Do the Old Testament’s texts about Jews returning to the Middle East authorize someone to mistreat someone else?  Obviously not.  Both Jews and Palestinians are commanded to turn the cheek and to obey whatever human governments they have the (mis)fortune of living under so long as they don't pass laws that require their citizens to violate God's law.  But, of course, most of these people are members of religions (at least nominally) that don't recognize the binding authority of the Sermon of the Mount or Paul's epistle to the Romans, or don't interpret them strictly (if traditional Christians) and are uncalled.  But just as the Ann Arbor police department is used by God to protect the inhabitants of Ann Arbor, yet has to sin to operate, I maintain God similarly used the Zionist movement to get Jews back into the Middle East, despite many of them were skeptical about Judaism itself and they (eventually) started to use to sword, like any other lawful government does.  Furthermore, when did this covenant end that God made with Abraham?:  "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates" (Genesis 15:18).


            The only way (say) Zech. 12:1-11 could be fulfilled before the Second Coming would be by having a critical mass of Jews in the area that were self-governing, not merely a tiny minority that were politically subordinated dhimmis.  Natural law analysis isn’t sufficient here to condemn the Zionist movement as one more case of imperialism.  A Biblical analysis, in which the sins of people using force are used by God to accomplish His ultimate goals, also has to be considered.  Without the Zionist movement, presumably God would have found some more clearly miraculous means to get His (still) Chosen People back into the Holy Land.  The argument that the modern Israelis are no different than (say) the Beast power in having any special moral sanction from God runs into another problem, however.  True, replacement theology, under which the Church has totally replaced Israel as God's chosen people, will object to a dispensationalist interpretation, under which God isn't yet done with Israel as God's chosen people (as per Romans 11:1).  There are many statements about Israel's restoration and thus remaining in the land in Scripture:  The Arabs will not return, the effects of 1948-49 aren't going to be permanently reversed in future centuries.  Of course, anybody using force sins, as per the Sermon on the Mount.  But, as Romans 13 shows, God is willing to use people who use force intrinsically unlawfully to maintain law and order for (pacifist) Christians, whose lives and property depend on the police forces of the world sinning for the former's benefit.  Is this a principle that can be admitted as we go forward?

            All of this isn't to say anybody has the right based on prophecy to oppress or use force against others.  Rather, we're faced with the issue of God's use of people who are sinning to get His Chosen People as a nation back into the Middle East so they can have back their land.  Similarly, consider how Rebekah’s and Jacob’s skullduggery was used to displace Esau from receiving Isaac’s blessing.  Their sinful actions secured the ultimate outcome God wanted since the younger son was to rule over the former (see Genesis 25:23-34; 27:1-46).  True, had Rebekah and Jacob acted righteously instead, the Eternal would have intervened somehow miraculously to make Isaac bless Jacob instead of Esau, much as He inspired the blind Jacob cross his hands to bless Ephraim more than Manasseh (Genesis 48:12-19).   Similarly, did God approve of Rahab's lie to protect the spies?  (See Joshua 2:1-14; 6:17, 22-23; Hebrews 11:31).  The lie was a sin, but the result was correct.  God had given Jericho to Israel, so He wanted the spies to survive.  Could we owe similarly our freedom of speech and religion in a practical sense to such parents and their children fighting to defeat the Nazis?  That doesn't mean we in the COG who are called and thus know better are authorized to so sin ourselves:  Waging war is a sin, regardless of which side God chooses to win a war for whatever reasons that help advance His master plan for humanity, such as (say) allowing the Allies to win World War II   or the Muslims to not win at Tours so (ultimately) that the COG would have the freedom to evangelize publicly.  So God doesn’t want any human government to wage war, but He may use the results of various wars, or even intervene to get the correct outcome needed, to advance His overall plan for the human race.


            But then consider whether a statue of limitations exists on prior acts of imperialism:  Aren't the Arabs/Muslims equally guilty of using force also, in prior centuries?  Shouldn’t they feel guilty about their past Jihads, if the West should feel guilty about their past Crusades?  Don't we have moral equivalency here?  Also, many of the Arabs displaced outwards only had migrated in prior decades due to the economic progress and modernization that began with the first Aliyah (early 1880's) and afterwards.  They found they could get (better) jobs working directly for Jewish settlers or indirectly, so they moved in from other places.  Then they or their descendants weren't allowed to return and resettle by their "brother" Arabs in Syria, Egypt, etc., after the 1948-49 war, unlike the case (say) for Muslims moving to Pakistan after the partition or Germans leaving areas to the east going to West Germany.  A certain number also were displaced by land purchases, although very much of the land was state owned, or the Jews paid very high prices for land that was often largely empty or abandoned.  (Didn't Morris, who isn't an apologist for Zionism, estimate only 3000 Arab families/persons were displaced by the pre-Independence land purchases?)  This isn't to say the Zionists are exactly "righteous," but then when moral equivalency intrudes, I believe in dropping the moral condemnations and the prosecutory mode that attacks one nation or group of nations much more than others, and (effectively) relaxing then, admitting, "Well, if we're all equally guilty of imperialism and colonialism, if we go back into the past far enough, it's best to (mostly) close our mouths."  Every desirable piece of land on earth probably has been repeatedly stolen from its prior owners, especially in the Middle East:  So then, are we going to confine most of our emotional energy by only attacking the last one to take it?  Is that morally balanced?

            I wouldn't wish to equate suicide bombing of civilians with soldier killing each other on the battlefield as you do.  It's quite correct to condemn both as very ungodly, but one is decidedly worse than the other.  Similarly I maintain one false religion can definitely be worse than another in its practical effects, even if they're equal in not being able to give salvation to their adherents.  For example, one of the practical effects of Protestantism was (eventually, adding in other factors also) to give us in the COG freedom of religion after the spiritual stranglehold of the Catholic Church was broken.  To say Protestantism is as bad as Hinduism or Islam, at least in its social effects, is simply not correct.   

            Incidentally, the two-thirds population figure that has been cited concerns the whole area of Palestine (1.2 million Arabs vs. 600,000 Jews).  In the portion allotted to the Jews by the United Nations, only 350,000 Arabs lived.  British statistics indicated that more than 70% of the land in what became Israel was owned by the mandatory government.  Nearly 9% was owned by the Jews, 3% by Arabs who became citizens of Israel, leaving 18% for the Arabs who left before and after Arab armies invaded Israel in 1948.  (See Baird, "Myths and Facts," p. 35)  We could play more games with the numbers, depending on our starting points.  For example, nearly 80% of the land in the Mandate in 1922 was turned into Transjordan, leaving the United Nations to partition the remaining 20%.

            The ratio of the Jews to Arabs in the area that became Israel may not be as wrong as have been deemed, for it depends in part on what base is used for the comparison.  For example, Dershowitz notes ("The Case for Israel," p. 68) that "advocates of the Arab cause sometimes including the population of what is now Jordan, as well as what is now the West Bank and Gaza."  So, as he notes, what matters is how many Arabs ended up living in the area that the Jews got assigned in 1947 by the United Nations.  As he puts it:  "Even with regard to that population, estimates vary, but the official U.N. estimate was that the land assigned tot he Jewish state contained approximately 538,000 Jews and 397,000  Arabs (a number that included Christians, Bedouins, Druze, and others."  Baird, in "Myths and Facts," p. 35, cites Cohen's "Israel and the Arab World," p. 238, to say that the "roughly" (a key modifier, I suspect) 600,000 Jews that 350,000 Arabs resided in the Jewish state created by partition."  He says that 92,000 Arabs lived in Tiberias, Safed, Haifa, and Bet Shean, that there were 40,000 Bedouins living generally in the desert, and that the rest were spread throughout the land.  One source of the difference here, I suspect, between the 538,000 and 600,000 figure comes from those Jews who lived in the areas that became Gaza and/or the West Bank, or perhaps elsewhere in Jordan.  Dershowitz notes that, of course, the partition plan didn't give West Jerusalem to the future state of Israel, which was an area with many Jews in it.  (Jerusalem was a majority Jewish city in the nineteenth century before the first Aliyah, it should be noted).

            It is a serious over-simplification to just say the 1948-49 war was one of (deliberate) ethnic cleansing.  A good number of the richer and more educated Palestinian Arabs left in advance of the war, and took up residence in nearby Arab countries, after the partition plan was announced.  Another set, of course, didn't leave at all, and they became today's "Arab Israelis" (which sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it?), who have (at least on paper) full rights with Jews except they don't have to serve in the army.  Others left despite efforts were made by the Jews to keep them from going.  There’s the interesting case of Haifa, for example, that Efraim Karsh described in detail in an article in "Commentary" magazine years ago--that citadel/fountainhead of neo-con throught.  To just say it was ethnic cleansing provoked by fear after (say) the atrocity at Yassin Deir by the Irgun simply isn't correct.  Defenders of the Arab/Muslim position need to qualify their statements more in this debate.






            Suppose someone writes a book critical of Islam that cites verifiable sources or comes from personal testimony, but he or she lacks a Ph.D. after his or her name.  Is the book automatically worthless and false?  The appeal to authority is fundamentally invalid in cases of contested opinion.  Let’s use a basic logic book to explain this principle:  Merrilee H. Salmon, Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking, pp. 78+.  According to Salmon, the only acceptable cases of the appeal to authority involve all three, not just one or two, of the following conditions being met:  1.  "The authority invoked is an expert in the area of knowledge under consideration."  2.  "There is agreement among experts in the area of knowledge under consideration." 3.  "The statement made by the authority concerns his or her area of expertise."  Now, Salmon notes a key issue that is important to many debates, which makes counter-references to various authorities rather irrelevant, if it’s thought doing so decisively settles any disputes.  She brings attention to the problem of paid psychiatric experts testifying about the alleged state of insanity in a defendant during a criminal trial giving contradictory "expert" testimony.  She then comments:  "When this kind of disagreement occurs among experts in a field, an appeal to authority of one side or the other is fallacious.  There can be no legitimate appeal to authority in such a case, although, of course, the evidence presented by the experts may be evaluated on its own merits.  When such evidence is considered, however, the form of argument is not an argument from authority but some other type of argument related to the nature of the evidence."  If (say) David Singer disagrees with Samuel P. Huntington on how intrinsically conflict-prone or aggressive Islamic civilization is compared to other civilizations, the former’s authority is no better than the latter’s.  What matters is who has the facts and makes the most reasonable generalizations or interpretations of the facts, not the credentials of the person doing so.

            So then, using Salmon's insights on these fallacious appeals to authority, all appeals to this or that authority figure or media outlet in political debates should be dropped when no specific fact or reasoning they have can be cited.  It's time to just analyze the (alleged) facts or arguments based on various facts, and drop all name references as proving anything in themselves.  It would be fine to cite so and so as a source, as a reference, but we have to avoid thinking the mere citation of authority proves anything.  Only in extreme cases, such as (say) citing the "National Enquirer" as if it were a reliable newspaper, should any kind of automatic skepticism exist about a source.  

            Can scholarly consensuses ever be wrong?  Lord Salisbury (1830-1903), one of the prime ministers of England during her height of power during the Victorian age, once generalized:  "No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you never should trust the experts.  If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome:  if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent:  if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe.  They all require to have their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense."  Now often in the Church of God we blow off a number of scholarly consensuses, and think they are wrong:  1.  We reject the theory of evolution, which is the prevailing paradigm of the biological sciences.  2.  We uphold British Israelism, which all or almost all professional historians would dismiss as a racist myth, assuming that they even ever heard of it.  3.  We think the Received/Byzantine text of the New Testament is better than the Critical/Westcott-Hort text.  Most, but not all, scholars in this area think the Received Text (such as used in the KJV and NKJV) is inferior to what’s used in most other English translations.  4.  We think corporal punishment, properly applied, is still a good practice for childrearing, which most social workers (and presumably most of their college professors) confuse with child abuse.  5.  We think that the Christian theology and doctrines of a certain high school drop out and business failure are far better than what most Ph.D’s and Th.D’s in seminaries and religious colleges teach. 


So if scholarly consensuses can be wrong so often in so many areas, why should it be thought incredible that the scholarly consensus about Islamic world’s history and human rights record, past and present, is wrong also?  The works of Samuel Huntington, Robert Spencer, Irshad Manji, Bat Ye’or, Andrew Bostrom, Daniel Pipes, Efraim Karsh, and Ibn Warraq all present facts and arguments that contradict the standard liberal scholarly paradigm about Islam.  (Curiously enough, Bernard Lewis rates an honorable mention in this area also, although Spencer has criticized him for whitewashing Islam).  At the barest minimum, they present “the rest of the story,” i.e., historical facts and interpretations of the evidence that academic liberals and most Muslims want suppressed, but should instead confront and make concessions to.  But the case the case these dissidents make is much more than pointing out a few anomalies in that paradigm.  Instead, their case is strong enough to deep six it to the bottom of the ocean, where Darwinism should join it.  In particular, and most interestingly, Spencer’s book, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)” reads as a remarkably direct and complete refutation of almost every standard argument presented to me over the years on this subject (excluding about modern Zionism’s history, which isn’t his main area of concern).  And Ye’or’s work shows how the laws of dhimmitude created an appalling level of oppression for Christian minorities.  When today countries like Egypt and Pakistan increasingly suppress their Christian minorities as they adopt the Sharia law (basically frozen in place in the mid-10th century) and become less secular, that how their being a “pre-modern state in their political and social systems” adopts a ready made package of evil laws of ancient vintage and then imposes second class citizenship on religious minorities.


So then, should average people be intimidated by all these highly intelligent, well-educated, tenured professors armed with Ph.D’s, who possess long lists of  article publications in prestigious journals and books published by university presses in their C.V.s, who can read Arabic, Turkish, and/or Persian, that their view of Islam’s history and human rights record must be correct?  Consider above how the simple application of the “William F. Buckley” technique destroyed many standard apologetic arguments for Islam that (apparently) most of these people find persuasive.  Someone who reads “the rest of the story,” knows something about historical and logical reasoning, and perceives all the shoddy reasoning and many ignored facts of history when these scholars draw their conclusions, can boldly proclaim against that scholarly paradigm, like the little boy did in Hans Christian Andersen’s story, “But the Emperor has nothing on at all!” 


            Let’s focus now on a particular self-refuting fallacy:  Suppose someone who has a B.A. or M.A. says effectively, "Only people equipped with Ph.D.'s can legitimately comment on this issue."  Well, that’s like moral relativists proclaiming, "There are no absolutes," which is a statement that admits no exceptions, and thus is an absolute itself.  It’s also like the liar paradox, in which someone says,  "Everything I say is a lie," which in point of fact can't be true, for it has to then at least exclude this summary statement.  In point of fact, on matters of values, philosophy, religious belief, etc., that influence policy decisions, academics are no more apt to be right than the blokes in the pub watching the telly and commenting the news readers' stories.  The heavy influence of Marxism, Communism, socialism, social democracy, social Darwinism, and even Nazism, on various Western intellectuals over the past century and a half is enough proof of their poor collective judgment on matters that relate to political and religious values. 

            When arguing with the famous liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith in 2004, William F. Buckley noted his old but still brilliant anti-elitist reply to Galbraith's criticism of Bush as being ignorant in a certain regard:   "But how does he account for the plain fact that there are people who back Bush who are both learned and by no means merely sycophantic? Mr. Galbraith delivers his crushing point. 'There is not one member of the faculty of Harvard University who is pro Bush.' This invited copious rejoinders. Mr. Galbraith was talking to the humble figure who wrote forty years ago that he would rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston telephone directory than by the 2,000 members of the Harvard faculty."  The contents of (say) Hollander's "Political Pilgrims" and Whittaker Chambers' "Witness" are sufficient proof that Buckley's anti-academic elitist comment here is dead right.  The American working and middle classes, even when they live in large urban area of a Blue state, are more trustworthy than academics as a whole, when it comes to making wise political decisions. 

            Debates that focus on personalities and credentials, rather than the facts in dispute, quickly become very personal, and the debaters end up calling each other or each other's cited authorities "ignorant" without explaining how specifically they are wrong.  If we agree to stop using experts this way, as proving anything in themselves, but merely cite and repeat their arguments or facts, we can avoid insulting each other in such disputes.  Insults between people on such issues, or ad hominem attacks on the authorities cited in question, can be easily avoided by just citing the facts and arguments they have in specific ways. 

            We can't go around citing someone as an authority with such a degree and expect others to accept what they say when they happen to agree with whatever we already uphold, and then in other cases deny such people when their views oppose our own.  Hence, Kirkpatrick argues about double standards and selective perception about the sins of communist vs. authoritarian dictatorships, Samuel Huntington discusses the clash of civilizations (in particular, the West vs. Islam), and Stanley Jaki describes how medieval Christian theology was necessary for the rise of a self-sustaining science.  Someone then may reject their views for reasons A, B, and C, that's fine to do a priori.  It's necessary then to be specific in one's rebuttal, and cite facts and/or generalizations based on them or various value judgments to rebut them.  But then if one has this or that academic authority siding with your own views, and someone like me rejects their arguments for reasons X, Y, and Z, someone else is equally allowed to do the same a priori.  What matters is who has the facts and the best, most reasonable generalizations about those facts, and has applied the right values and metaphysical assumptions to their reasoning.

Consider why (say) H.G. Well's older work “The Outline of history” is much harsher (and more accurate) about Muhammad's character than Montgomery Watts' supposedly much more scholarly and high detailed biography, which is an excellent example of a scholarly whitewash.  Many Western scholars of Islam have either been morally intimidated by argumentation of Edward Said's "Orientalism” or had their objectivity compromised by accepting donations of Arab oil money.  Even more importantly, liberal Western scholars and academics don't want to upset their Muslim colleagues too much out of general PC concern for pluralism, "tolerance," and multiculturalism, regardless of the real historical or cultural facts.  These scholars are biased, but liberals often won’t recognize their biases, in part because they haven't read books presenting "the other side of the story" and because they agree with their viewpoint (i.e., their bias).  Now a lawyer but non-scholar such as Alan Dershowitz in “The Case for Israel” merely supplies "the rest of the story" that the critics of Israel are unlikely to supply.  The same point goes for Karsh, a compilation such as Mitchell Bard's "Myths and Facts:  A guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict," or Randall Price, "Unholy War:  America, Israel and Radical Islam."  For example, one shouldn't discuss (say) the atrocity done by the Irgun at Deir Yassin during Israel's war for independence in 1948, but then omit any mention of Arab atrocities at Hebron, Kfar Etzion, Hadassah Hospital, Safad, etc.  Selective citing of atrocity stories are the cheapest propaganda trick in the book:  Either all of them should be cited when committed on both sides, if its relevant to the point being made, or none at all should be.  Dershowitz presumably has all sorts of preconceived views . . . but then so do virtually all academics on nearly all subjects.  (Indeed, I could discuss the theory-laden nature of perception in general, that we don’t approach things tabula rasa anyway).  The level of cold-blooded objectivity in academia has been greatly exaggerated:  Consider how hard it is for the Intelligent Design people to get serious consideration by many of their opponents.  This shouldn't unleash the total “Humean” skeptics about human knowledge either, but the loose ends and problems need to be admitted also about (even) the scientific consensuses of academics when it bears on matters relevant to philosophy (including ethics/values) and theology, not just conventional scientific (or historical) facts.



            Ad hominem arguments against people disagreed with should be seen as logically unsound.  Jeane Kirkpatrick isn’t right in all her judgments.  But then, I remember someone who heard Dr. David Singer of the University of Michigan on the radio, and called him a "fool" for his statements about 9-11 and/or Middle East politics.  Is that evaluation true then?  Insults are a dime-a-dozen, and prove little.  But she does have a Ph.D. from Columbia in Political Science.  Aren't we supposed to all bow down before such academic authorities?  Or rather, and more sensibly, we pick them and choose them as they support or deny beliefs we have already formed on (normally) other bases?  This reply doesn't at all address her arguments about selective perception and double standards, which is something that would need to addressed by someone who disagrees with her position.

            As for Dershowitz, if he has done research read enough to put it into a book, that makes him much like one of his critics on his defense of Israel.  He has read a lot, and has formed an opinion on the subject, but doesn't have a Ph.D.  (I presume).   At least, though, he's got a law degree . . . that's worth something, when it comes to analyzing arguments and writing.  Compare him in this regard to Phillip Johnson's admirable work attacking evolution (“Darwin on Trial”), a legal professor at U of C Berkley, so he's out of his field also.  To say he's "ignorant" doesn't prove anything.  It's just another (unsound) ad hominem argument  . . . One instead would need to cite specific factual errors or weak interpretative points (for history involves making generalizations from particulars) made in his book to prove something.  Dershowitz’s views on when “torture” (however defined) should be legally allowed, such as waterboarding, using loud rock or country music for hours or sleep deprivation on possible terrorist suspects when interrogating them is irrelevant to examining what’s in "The Case of Israel."  Instead, one should say why this or that fact or interpretation from a set of facts is wrong or overdrawn for reasons X, Y, and Z.  Since he puts quotes from critics of Israel as opening chapter epitaphs, it isn't as if he's ignoring exactly what they are claiming when responding.  He's in the defense attorney mode (most appropriately!), his critic is in the prosecution mode, so each side could omit facts that favor the other unless the other mentions them.   Karsh got overlooked in this reply.  Is that because when he attacks Benny Morris for fabricated or manipulated quotes from Ben-Gurion, he's right?  Or because he does have the right academic credentials?  (However, that didn't save Kirkpatrick from being attacked, did it?)

            It should be noted I'm like Efraim Karsh:  I do believe the Palestinians should have their own independent state.  I also don't believe that (say) this text from Zechariah proves the Jews are right to violate the Sermon on the Mount.  (It's necessary for you to understand my position when you state it to others, you see).  All people sin when they violate the command to turn the cheek when attacked by other (adults).  But I do believe, much as God uses people who sin to accomplish his overall will, that has also occurred with the Zionist movement.  Hence, the local police analogy:  They sin whenever they use force on criminals, for they are not turning the cheek.  But God is still using them to protect your life nevertheless, as He uses them all to protect all Christians from the criminal elements in their societies.


            Ibn Warraq operates as a muckraker, most assuredly, much like (say) Voltaire was his Philosophical Dictionary.  But we have a long list of highly specific facts and authors and works cited by him, so rebutting his historical picture of Islam requires effort, not broad generalities.  Bat Ye'or's portrayal of the condition of the dhimmis would in particular need refuting if someone wants to argue for a "Golden Age" of tolerance between the three faiths in Muslim lands, which is Warraq's target.  Even in Spain there were problems, such as the 1066 persecution of the Jews in Granada.

            Warraq would agree with many liberals about the general incompatibility of Islam and an individual rights-respecting democracy.  Bush opposed nation-building in his 2000 campaign, but the events of 9-11 caused a reversal that has him now in two ambitious nation building projects in Muslim countries (Afghanistan and  Iraq).  The jury is out on the neo-Conservatives' notion that Iraq can be a "show place" democracy that could influence other countries in the Middle East, such as Iran, to become more democratic.  The issue is whether, given the existing ideas of the West, how easily others can adopt them without (say) the ruthless approach of Mustapha Kemal Ataturk in (frankly) persecuting public expressions of Muslim belief, etc.  (For example, even to this day, according to Robert Spencer, “Religion of Peace?,” p. 171, Turkey’s state religion ministry drafts the sermons read in their mosques, which is outrageous).  People can get the "hang" of democracy if given enough time . . . it seems the Latin Americans over the past 20 years have figured it out fairly well after generations of oscillations in various countries between military rule and democratic regimes (and half-way houses like PRI-run Mexico).  But there most likely isn't this amount of time (about 180 years since independence from Spain in this case) for the Arab Muslims to figure out and adopt democracy before Jesus comes!



            How extreme are average Muslims?  Should we use (say) public opinion polls (when available) to determine this, or rely on personal anecdotal evidence from Muslims friends, co-workers, acquaintances, etc.?  Could the latter be concealing their true views or that of Muslim friends and family members when speaking to non-Muslims?  Suppose you as a Frenchman interviewed a prominent American businessman about his religious and/or political beliefs.  Does this "man-on-the-street" interview really outweigh real expertise when it does exist among some Frenchmen about American religious and political beliefs?  Suppose the hypothetical American businessman (or college professor or foreign student) had a strong agenda.  If he's a skeptical liberal democrat or a deeply religious fundamentalist conservative Protestant, the answers he'll give will be different, and not necessarily representative of the United States as a whole, or that of the political position or religious position he says he upholds.  Would I want, say, for a famous example, Bill Gates' views of religion to be cited as representative of (presumably) American Protestantism?

Suppose in private an American Muslim from Turkey tells someone that jihadist thinking among Muslims is rare to nonexistent.  But now, would he (or any other Muslims someone knows personally) be willing (if the opportunity arose) to stand publicly and criticize in their native languages the Islamists as being bad Muslims in their own nations?  The silence, indifference, and/or sympathy of the moderate Muslims allows the jihadist "fish" to swim among them, and to gain power.  True, in Turkey, that should be relatively easy for someone to criticize the Islamists, since it's officially a secular state and the army wants to keep it that way, but Turkey is truly exceptional for a Muslim nation in that regard, thanks to the reforms of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.  It's also a a very hazardous extrapolation to ask one man, and then draw a conclusion about (nearly) all Muslims everywhere, including about (say) the thinking of the leaders of the political opposition to Mubarak in Egypt.


Then, of course, I suspect Muslims in America may not always be straight with sympathetic Westerners about what their people back home really believe.  Or they may not be aware of what people outside their own "set” actually believe.  Consider this famous comment by Pauline Kael, the film critic for the “New Yorker” magazine, after the 1972 election: "I don't know how Richard Nixon could have won. I don't know anybody who voted for him."  When one examines what CAIR puts out in this country, it's obvious that Muslims circulate a lot of half-truths as part of their general PR strategy to whitewash problems within their own faith and community.  It may not be lying per se, but it isn't "the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" either.  There's always the lurking problem of "hidden transcripts," in which social groups in conflict talk much more openly about the group they are opposed to when among their own kind than when actually talking to members of that other group.  Hence, in America, blacks and especially whites are much more apt to say what they really think about the other race when among their own kind than when interacting personally or especially publicly with the other group.  I believe Muslims in general, and foreign exchange students in particular, have good reasons to put the best foot forward about their own nations and faith in many cases when talking to someone of another faith here.


            Of course, in most cases, the knowledge of someone of his own culture will outweigh that of average people of another culture.  For example, how many Americans could even find Pakistan on a map?  (Here we go, on the elitism vs. populism issue once again).  Let's give two examples in which someone rejected foreign students' perspectives of their own country.  Both are Pakistani.  One was a real saber-rattler on the Pakistan-India relationship, and certainly believed his country should have become independent of the rest of India, a political position that has been criticized, since the partition of India by the British at the request of the Muslim League of Jinnah is something that has been seen as very destructive, deadly, and still politically dysfunctional.  (Of course, there's that issue of picking and choosing which groups' nationalism should receive a nation state, and whose to deny (forcibly), like (say) the minorities of Austria Hungary should be denied independence and the black African colonies should be granted it, but that’s a digression).  I once lived with a series of five Pakistani roommates.  One of them told me all the good things about Pakistan (a serious Sunni Muslim) while another mentioned to me all the bad things about Pakistan (appropriately, a Shiite, a discriminated against minority there).  This was useful, for it gave me a more balanced view of the place.  Someone replied that this was a horrible place, so what could anyone say was good about it? That person had never been to Pakistan, but knew about that nation's problems internally and externally by reading about them, etc..  He concluded that it shouldn't exist separately from the rest of India, based on the political and/or moral values he upholds.  He was quite willing to reject what foreigners from that country believe about their own country based upon his level of expertise gained from reading over the years and the values that influence his policy-making decisions.

            So now, why should I accept what two Muslims students or friends believe as decisive testimony, when it’s just their opinions, perhaps as moderate Muslims, etc.?  If someone can reject what these Pakistanis believe politically, why can't I do the same concerning these two men's characterizations of Islam?  For a present-day Muslim to deny that dhimmi ideology (which bases its grant of second-class citizenship and semi-tolerance upon the suspension of Jihad temporarily, upon the agreement of the Christians and/or Jews in question) is still important in Muslim thinking is either engaging in an intentional whitewash or simply doesn’t know that much about his or her faith.

            I don't deem the opinions of foreign students who are Muslims to be decisive, especially out a self-selected sample who may be concealing their true views to some degree.  I recall hearing about people reporting about Muslim students' celebrations or shouts of joy at Wayne State and/or other American universities when 9-11 occurred.  Ask any Muslim foreign students whether they celebrated after the Twin Towers came down like the Palestinians did . . . assemblies which Yasser Arafat found politically expedient to discourage and not have photographed further.  

            First, wet need set aside any personal feelings of regard we have for Muslim foreign students, coworkers, and neighbors when considering this general question.  Second, it’s necessary to start to look at the Islamic primary texts themselves, and consider how other Muslims interpret them that a typical American will never know personally.  After all, the Muslims willing to come to the "House of War" are a distinctly self-selected group.  They may also be concealing much of what they really believe. Third, ask them questions such as: "Have you read the entire Quran yourself?  How many of the hadith collections have you ever read?  Are you knowledgeable about or care about the different interpretations of the Sharia by the four traditional Islamic legal schools?"  To see if they are radicals on the level of the Nazis, KKK, and Communists, ask them this:  "Would you personally reject imposing the Sharia and affirm that the American Constitution and English common law should remain permanently the legal system of America even if Muslims made up a majority of the American population?"  If they can't say "yes" to that question, they are no better than a Nazi, a Klansman, or a Commie.

            For example, suppose American foreign students attended the Sorbonne in Paris, and then some Frenchmen asked them about their (Christian) faith or about the workings of the American government politically.  How decisive are such "men on the street" interviews on the historical and legal matters in question in actuality?  How knowledgeable are such foreign students at U of M really about (say) centuries of Islamic law and legal wranglings on the subject of "jihad"?  Perhaps they are about as well informed as the students living in your apartment building are on workings of the American government or on the specific doctrines of their (generally, presumably, traditional Christian) faith!  It's not much better than consulting the expertise of the blokes in the pub watching the BBC newsreaders' reports on the most recent British political news.  (They must be such experts when they travel abroad, but are deemed half-ignorant when at home!) 

            In particular, I've had two run-ins with a coworker who is from India.  They've taught me that sometimes such people feed Americans a line or play games with them.  On one occasion he wished to deny that Indira Gandhi for a certain period ruled as a dictator after canceling elections.  (On another, a game was played concerning the terminology of the language name "Hindi" and the use of the Sanskrit letters as opposed to the use of Arabic script for the very similar language of Urdu in Pakistan in another discussion I had with him).  Can we recognize that these people can make mistakes, be deceptive, be biased (such as for patriotic or religious reasons), state only half of the story,  etc.?   Well, this is a good principle in general, that it depends on the quality of the source.  The problem then is whether we can admit if even well-informed and/or well-educated people have agendas (political, racial, or religious) that cause them to deliberately or inadvertently overlook or misstate the truth.  The case of Walter Duranty, the writer for the New York Times who whitewashed Stalin's crimes in the 1930's, comes to mind here.  Khomeini, an Islamic scholar before he took power, is much more a reliable source on what "jihad" is a priori than such foreign students are.  As a Shi'ite, it should be noted, he wouldn’t be apt to care much about what a Sunni Wahabi of centuries ago (i.e., Ibin-Taymiya) believes on the matter, no more than a Protestant theologian would care about the writings of Catholic theologians.

            To cite how various Muslims that have been nice to you or others isn't the point here.  Theory is what matters now.  A similar point could be raised about how Jews have in practical terms ignored the hard-line theory about avoiding/helping unbelievers/idolaters as developed in the Talmud.  Cite for me sura and verse, so to speak, where the Golden Rule appears in the Quran or (if it isn't there) the Hadith (purported sayings of Muhammad).  One of Spencer's more interesting arguments is that Islamic morality is acutely limited, that theoretically it's mainly confined to believers alone (see “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)”, pp. 84-85).  Therefore, a general principle of benevolence, such as the Golden Rule, turns up missing in early Islamic writings, although in contrast, Confucius in Chinese philosophy/religion does state the Golden Rule .


            Now suppose someone went around in Dearborn, and interviewed members of the (Christian) Arab community there with a traditional Christian background, like the Chaldeans.  The perspective gained, I suspect, would sharply differ from what foreign Muslim students studying at U of M believe about the same countries.  Why is it that roughly 75% of Arab-Americans are traditional Christian, a number that's way out of whack with the (say) 5% average in the Middle East?  To be treated as a second class citizen life-long doesn't make one feel welcome to remain, does it? 



Suppose a liberal asked his Muslim student exchange friends and academic colleagues these questions, what response do you think he would get?:  “If Westerners today should feel guilty about the Crusades and Imperialism, do you then feel any guilt about the two great Jihads or the Armenian genocide?”  If they don't, should any European or American feel guilty about the great imperialist drive of the West from the late 15th century on?  Indeed, would your foreign exchange Muslim friends and colleagues celebrate the two great jihads, and say it was good that they happened?  And if they felt at all guilty, in the way Westerners today are supposed to be about Western Imperialism, would they denounce their own civilization's past sins publicly in their own native languages in their own native lands in the media and elsewhere (as the opportunities would arise), with the same kind of seething rage, righteous indignation, and outbursts of fury that characterize Western liberal academics characterizations of the West's own past aggressive actions?  I very seriously doubt it.  I suspect that you would be lucky to get a tepid, reluctant, response like, "Yeah, that was a problem," from them.  Indeed, you would have trouble, I wager, to get them to even admit the two great Jihads were morally wrong.  Yet, from an objective viewpoint, even if one isn't a pacifist, the two great Jihads were just as morally wrong as the Crusades.  All "holy wars" are equally unholy, from the viewpoint of natural law theory.  But If a Muslim thinks jihads are good, but crusades evil, he obviously only objects to when the Christians are on the attack, rather than when the Muslims are.  Obviously, he has no moral objection to principle of waging aggressive war per se, but just complains about when the opposing civilization is on the march, and his plays defense.  Hence, there is far more need to "re-educate" Muslims in general to object to aggressive wars that their civilization launched historically than the equivalent re-education program would be necessary in the West, such as concerning the wars against the Indians in the New World, among people similarly educated.  Thus, at this point in the game of reeducating the public, western academic liberals and other members of the cultural elite need to aim far more fire at Muslims (or for that matter, the Chinese) about the victimology games they play, in order to get them to admit about their own civilizations' past sins, than they have to about the West's.


Furthermore, there are far more Muslims today who would defend the principle of literal holy wars publicly than one could presently find among similarly situated Catholics (in terms of education, cultural influence, wealth, political power, etc.)  Or, if  they deny that Muslims today should wage holy war, it would only be for narrow legalistic reasons or because it isn't prudent presently to wage them: They would object to revising the Sharia law's provisions concerning (literal) holy war to declare that all such wars are always immoral in all places at all times, such that it would be a new general principle of Muslim morality.  A case in point would be the two volume work of Jad al-Haqq of Al Azhar in Egypt when it deals with the question of literal jihad:  He avoids fundamental rethinking about jihad in the Sharia, but just looks for a minor casuistrical manipulations as necessary to escape the conclusion that actual holy wars should be waged against unbelievers today.  Could Catholic teaching today about crusades, in the time before the false prophet arises, be characterized the same way?





               Can attacking Muslims for their faith ever be “racist”?  A loose definition of "racism" shouldn’t be used to silence criticism of Islam on historical or theological grounds.  It’s much like calling FDR and the New Deal "socialist," which it wasn't, except for the TVA.  Racism involves an assertion of biological or physical superiority, of one group over another, not a religious truth claim test in which one adherent of a faith believes his faith is superior to another by being more correct.  Also, consider in this context Bush's statement about the bigotry of low expectations concerning minorities being able to live up to tough education standards (say, like those of Singapore or Japan before reaching the university level, which the United States falls quite short of even outside the inner cities).  Is it equally condescending then (i.e., "racist"?) to think Arab Muslims can't learn to run a successful democracy ever because of their culture?  Certainly Dr. Mark Tessler’s “Arab Barometer” indicates in public opinion polls many Muslims in Muslim countries willingly endorse democratic ideas and procedures:  “Among other things, the surveys found that there is broad support for political reform and democracy, with an emphasis on making leaders and governments accountable to the people they serve.  Though many respondents acknowledged that democracy is not without problems, most agreed that whatever its limits, democracy is still the best political system.  This view was expressed by 92 percent in Morocco, by 83 percent in Algeria, by 83 percent in Palestine, by 86 percent in Jordan and by 88 percent in Kuwait.  Many other questions explored people’s understanding of democracy, confirming that the concept was meaningful to respondents but also revealing some of the different values and processes that people associate with democratic governance.”  (  Of course, a skeptic could retort, “talk is cheap,” that these people would never be able to tolerate a loyal opposition, give equal rights to minorities, develop a tradition of the rule of law, grant systematic individual rights, etc.  In a Pew survey, substantial percentages of the surveyed Muslims of many countries think democracy is for them also, and isn't just a Western political system that couldn't ever work for them.  Cultures can change over time, especially when they can see a better way exists (whose adoption also helps protect them militarily), such as nineteenth century Japan's leadership realized after Matthew Perry showed up.  After all, how much support was there for "democracy" in Europe in 1700?    But aren’t such poll results evidence for George W. Bush’s soaring rhetoric at his second inaugural address in 2005, that all people in all nations really want freedom (i.e., a general absence of governmental coercion)?


               But isn't political correctness irrational here?  Is it not true that in the immediate years to come that major acts of terrorism concerning public transportation and commercial aviation are most apt to be committed by the segment of the population this rather clever piece points to?  The recent London bombings are excellent empirical proof for this thesis:  Most likely, if and when the NYC subway system gets bombed, doesn't one think Muslims will do it?  Will anyone deny the rationality of this judgment of probabilities.  Since there are only so many resources for law enforcement available, doesn't it make sense to focus them more on the subsegment of the population most apt to commit such crimes?  It's unlikely the next (say) suicide terrorist attacking the United States will be committed by a Chinese American or a Mexican American.  I remember on the day of 9-11, when the issue of racial profiling was raised with Kasich, the congressman from Ohio who had run for president and had lost, he said political correctness had to go out the door.  It's time to be sensible, and drop the politically correct pretenses that everyone in the general population a priori is an equally likely terrorist.  This criticized essay was somewhat careful in its aim, in that it targeted men of a certain age, not all Muslims indiscriminately.  What percentage of murders, armed robberies, and rapes in the United States is committed by a certain c. 13% of the population?  Does this statistical generalization that has an empirical reality using reproducible data from government sources have implications for decisions by law enforcement authorities as to where to concentrate their scarce resources?


               Are radical Muslims in a Western country, not a traditionally Islamic country or Arab nation, rare or common?  Are the number of Muslims sympathetic to terrorist attacks only 1%, on a par with the percentage of Americans that would join the KKK or neo-Nazis?  Is it really just 1%?  Public opinion polls of Muslims in Britain are usefully summarized at, from which the following data was assembled.  For example, 6% surveyed thought the London bombings were justified.  Then there were 24% who felt sympathy for the motives and feelings of the bombers.  Some 14% didn't feel that (obvious) suspicious activity should be reported to the police.  In the Guardian's survey, 5% supported the July 7 bombings and felt more like them were justified, and 4% felt violence could be justifiably used by political and religious groups.  An earlier Guardian survey in 2004 found 11% believed this way.  Some 58% felt that people using free speech to criticize Islam should be punished by criminal penalties, which shows a majority haven't accepted a key value central to modern democracies.  One survey published in the Times commissioned by a Jewish group found that 7% believed suicide attacks against British civilians were justifiable, and 21% said this about such attacks on military personnel.  One poll done for the Sunday Telegraph found that 14% felt the attacks on the Danish embassy during the cartoon episode were acceptable.  Then 12% felt it was OK for people to carry placards calling for the deaths of people who insult Islam. And this is how commonly average Muslims in a WESTERN country sympathized with terrorism or anti-democratic values, according to public opinion polls.  And these polls might understate how much radicalism there is, for people often shy away from stating harsh or politically incorrect opinions to the anonymous telephone pollsters who call them.  (That's one reason why Proposition 2 won crushingly in Michigan, which was contrary to what the opinion polls recorded in advance about the anti-race quotas amendment).  To cite Dr. Tessler as the "final answer" on such an issue is ridiculous.  Let's take some poll numbers summarized in Spencer's "Religion of Peace?" (pp. 56-57) that illustrate how common extremism is in the Islamic world, including support for terrorist activities or leader(s).  For example, Channel 4 TV in Britain conducted a poll that found nearly 25% of British Muslims said the July 7, 2005 terror bombings were justified.  Another 30% surveyed said they'd rather live under the Shariah law than Britain's presently legal system.  These aren't majorities, but they sure aren't tiny minorities of extremists either.  One survey in Nigeria found that 44% of Nigerian Muslims said suicide bombings are "sometimes" or "often" justified.  Only 28% said they never were.  Well, if there's such a large pool of sympathizers to this barbaric practice, don't you think some hardliners in their midst might actually then implement it?  The Pew Global Attitudes Survey, released in July 2006, found roughly one in seven Muslims in France, Spain, and Great Britain felt that suicide bombings against civilians were at least sometimes acceptable to do in defending Islam.  This report also found less than half of Jordan's Muslims believe terrorist activities are never justifiable.  For Egypt, a similar number emerged, with 45% saying terrorism is never justifiable.  Al-Jazeera did a poll one time (probably unscientific) on the fifth anniversary of 9-11 in which 49.9% of the people who called in supported Osama bin Laden.  The same Pew Survey mentioned above found a a third of Indonesians, a quarter of Jordanians, 61% of the Nigerians, and 38% of the Pakistanis expressed confidence in Osama bin Laden.  Obviously, with all this broad public support among many Muslims for specific terrorists or terrorism in general, for it’s hardly a small extremist 1% minority, it makes it much easier for Muslims to resort to terrorist activities for protecting or spreading their faith.  Would the generalizations John Esposito makes (based on Gallup poll surveys) really fit ALL the data, such as the many other public opinion polls done in Muslim countries and of Muslims in Western countries which indicate many sympathize with terrorist tactics?  If their data contradicts Gallup’s, then how do we know Gallup is right, and Pew wrong?  Did they ask the same questions the same way, or different questions differently?  As market researchers know, how a question is phrased can easily change the results.     Tessler's piece may also make the methodological error of ignoring the intellectual foundation for violent jihad laid by such writers as Qutb, Khomeini, al-Banna, Maududi, and Azzam, whose books and writings have far, far more circulation in the Islamic world than equivalent "kook" Christian groups that advocate violence have.  (After all, when was the last abortion clinic bombing in the United States?  10 years ago?  Yet we are to fear presently (in this no-Blue Law era) terrorist activities or authoritarianism from the Christian right as much as from the Islamists?  Pleeeeeease.)  Then, partially as a result of their drawing upon the primary Islamic texts as authorities, a small amount of “interference,” “occupation,” or “imperialism” generates far more terrorism in the Islamic world than the equivalent actions by outsiders would produce elsewhere in the world. 

               Having summarized laboriously this data, is this 1% generalization really correct considering all these other disturbing numbers?  It would be wise to review what all three links about polling Muslims in Britain refer to at the Web site before dismissing this reasoning, and to give it some thought.  Suppose someone administered anonymous questionnaires at U of M (Ann Arbor) and Michigan State University to all the Muslim students attending there:  What beliefs and attitudes would show up on them?  What people say directly and personally may well be (to put it politely) "edited" for "public consumption" by someone seen as a friend, as opposed to what they say to each other in their gatherings in their native languages. 

               Muslims in Britain are more radical on average than those in the United States, in part because American Muslims have relatively high incomes on average.  Nevertheless, a recent public opinion poll done by the Pew Research Center (as reported in the Detroit News, May 23, 2007, 1A, 9A) found 13% of American Muslims agreed that suicide bombings were potentially justifiable, and 26% of those aged 18-29 (i.e., at a prime age to actually perform these acts).  Then 5% overall had a favorable view of al-Qaida. Suppose a survey of American whites found that 13% thought cross burnings on black people's lawns were potentially justifiable, and that 5% had a favorable view of the KKK. What would we say then about the rarity of racist extremism in the American white population?  Further, could we get that many Americans (1%) to sign up for the KKK or Neo-Nazis presently?  And when that less than 1% does show up (KKK, Neo-Nazis, etc.) to protest, they have much larger numbers of counter-protesters often appearing.  How many counter-protesters are there among British Muslims against these not-so-rare extremist attitudes?  (Those photos of extremist Muslims protesting in Britain which I emailed around come to mind:  How many counter-protesters did they generate?  Maybe, nowadays, people are more afraid of what Muslims may do than the KKK would, which might explain the scarcity of the counter-protesters (or public criticism in print) in part).  It is also known that public opinion polls may understate the number of racist or bigoted attitudes because people want to say the "right" things to the stranger who calls them on the phone.  Hence, the number of Muslims who believe these ways may well be higher than the number willing to admit such beliefs on the record to the anonymous stranger who called to question them.

There’s no need "most" Muslims to still believe in literal jihad for a grossly disproportionate amount of mayhem to result from it.  A minority of 10% that does, combined with the passive acceptance or tolerance for such ideals by a majority or plurality that serves as the "ocean" for the jihadist "fish" to swim in and hide in, will produce far more terrorism on average than Christian communities suffering under similar levels of oppression or purported misrule.  The terrorist incidents, riots and/or terror plots in London, Toronto, Madrid, and suburban Paris in recent years often have involved Muslims born and/or raised in the West.  Thus, extremist thinking is hardly limited to some Muslim rustics who live in remote and backward rural areas of the Muslim world, but it lives in the heart of the West.  Text has consequences, and it's much easier to justify literal jihads from the Quran, the Hadith, and the Sharia than crusades from the equivalent Christian sources.  Liberals who are skeptical that extremist thinking is common among Muslims should consider visiting some Muslim bookstores, such as small ones that may be run by various mosques.  Walk down the aisles.  Assuming that our hypothetical liberal can read the titles, he should see how many books by Qutb or others of similar jihadist thinking line the shelves.  If so, that would be like finding "Mein Kampf" and "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" in a bookstore run by a white supremacist group, except that bookstores run by Muslims in the West would be much more numerous.  A liberal should see how many copies of "Milestones" can be found during such visits.  They wouldn't be so widely printed, distributed, and sold if there weren't people who actually believed the chief theorist of the Muslim Brotherhood was right.


Now when the level of support in the Islamic world for Islamist parties reaches 5% or 10%, or any other radical belief, is that really just a tiny number of extremists?  Wouldn’t responsible observers be justifiably alarmed if a Neo-Nazi party in Germany got 5% or 10% of the vote?  Wouldn’t American liberals especially find it a source of endless alarm (and perhaps source of merriment also) if a radical, pro-segregationist third party affiliated with the KKK got 5% or 10% of the vote in various Southern states?  Would a 5 or 10% level of electoral support for a Communist or Fascist party be something to dismiss as of no concern?  The platform of any group of people who wish to impose the Sharia (as part of the domestic political program of Islamists) is just as radical as what the Neo-Nazis, Communists, or KKK would impose if they had full power.  Furthermore, because the radicals (such as Qutb, the chief theorist for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt) cite the Quran, the Hadith, and/or the Sharia more clearly directly and straight-forwardedly than moderate or liberal Muslims do, the former acquire an intimidation power against others who are slack in their non-Arab and/or Sufi Islam.  For example, one of my Pakistani roommates (a sincere Sunni) felt guilty when he listened to any kind of romantic music (from his culture, not merely American rock music) since that wasn’t authentically Islamic.  People who know they are compromising who accept the Arab Muslim propaganda that only they uphold true Islam, could easily be intimidated publicly by hardliners, like Khomeini (who wanted to ban all music).


It’s a major error for liberals in the West to reassure themselves that extremism is "rare" in the Islamic world for another reason:  It doesn't take a majority to change governments and to change history, but only a highly motivated and organized minority.  For example, could have the Bolsheviks won a free election in 1917 or 1918, before or after their "October" coup versus the Czar?  If such an election could have been held, a majority of Russians would have voted socialist, Marxist, or leftist, but not for the revolutionary Bolsheviks.  But, of course, who took over?  Likewise, Hitler never did get an actual outright majority of votes before taking control of Germany as chancellor.  The Calvinist Reconstructionist theologian, R.J. Rushdoony, once commented:  "History has never been dominated by majorities, but only by dedicated minorities who stand unconditionally on their faith."  So don't feel "all is well" when the Islamists only get 10% of the votes in places like Pakistan and Indonesia.  After all, if a neo-KKK group got even 5% of the vote in a place like Georgia, Alabama, Texas, or Mississippi, a nearly endless outpouring of vituperation, concern, and castigation by American liberals would ensue.  Under the right chaotic political conditions (which are much more likely countries which have weak central governments or apt to become failed states), this 10% Islamist minority could take over the whole ball of wax in their nations, especially if they can socially and politically intimidate all the moderates and liberals as "bad Muslims" and when they (as "jihadists") are prepared to use violence.









               Let's examine some interesting factual and theoretical statements by Janet L. Abu-Lughod in Before European Hegemony:  The World System A.D. 1250-1350 (her emphasis), pp. ix, 12:  "My work on the history of Cairo had convinced me that the Eurocentric view of the Dark Ages was ill-conceived.  If the lights went out in Europe [i.e., after Rome's fall], they were certainly still shining brightly in the Middle East.  Visiting and studying most of the other major cities in that [region?] of the world reassured me that Cairo was only on apex in a highly developed system of urban civilization. . . . Before Europe became one of the world-economies in the twelfth and thirteen centuries, when it joined the long distance trade system that stretched through the Mediterranean into the Red Sea and Persian Gulf and on into the Indian Ocean and through the Strait of Malacca to reach China, there were numerous preexistent world-economies.  Without them, when Europe gradually 'reached out,' it would grasped empty space rather than riches.  My plan is to examine this world system as a whole, treating Europe at that time as it should be seen, as an upstart peripheral to an ongoing operation.  This book is less interested in identifying origins and more in examining a crucial moment in history.  It takes the position that in terms of time, the century between A.D. 1250 and 1350 constituted a fulcrum or critical 'turning point' in world history, and in terms of space, the Middle East heartland region, linking the eastern Mediterranean with the Indian Ocean, constituted a geographical fulcrum on which West and East were then roughly balanced.  The thesis of this book is that there was no inherent historical necessity that shifted the system to favor the West rather than the East, nor was there any inherent historical necessity that would have prevented the cultures in the eastern region from becoming the progenitors of a modern world system."


               Now, the issue worth consideration is what aspects of the cultural background of the West might indicate otherwise, that Abu-Lughod ignores, in which there are ideological reasons for the West's rise and the East and Middle East's relative decline.  I maintain that certain ideas from the religious and philosophical background of the West's past were crucial in its rise to dominance and allowed it to reach a level of cultural superiority in the past three centuries when it had been equal or greatly inferior during the Middle Ages compares to other cultures.  This religious/philosophical background of a culture tends to be ignored by academics who are Marxists or other secularists who interpret history materialistically, and discount or dismiss non-economic, non-physical causes for historical events and people's actions.  (Or, to use Marxist terminology to make an anti-Marxist point, I believe the superstructure of ideology can effect and determine the means of production, not just the other way around).   After all, non-religious people have a really hard time really understanding and explaining people who take religion deadly seriously as a governing principle for their lives, which can cause serious distortions in historical understanding an explanation.  (Gibbons' "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" makes for excellent example of this, as does Voltaire's "Universal History."  As the philosopher and historian of science, Stanley Jaki noted, "The unscholarly character of Voltaire's account of history can easily be gathered from the fact that he mentioned Christ only once, and by then he was dealing with Constantine's crossing of the Milvian Bridge. Not content with turning Christ into a virtual nonentity, Voltaire was also careful to disassociate Christ from historic Christianity.") True, nature through natural catastrophes (such as the volcanic eruptions or earthquakes which badly damaged or destroyed the Toltec and Minoan civilizations) can play a role.  So can unpredictable military outcomes (such as those by the Mongols or other barbarians) could theoretically override such ideological factors if enough piled in at once.  I would maintain God tipped the scales enough so such things didn't quite happen to "Christendom," since out of that civilization would come a small despised minority that would ultimately receive enough religious and political freedom to proclaim the true gospel to the world (Matt. 24:14; 28:18-20).


               It's fine to observe that God's calling of Abraham, his obedient response, and the working out of God's revelation with his descendants was a spiritually exogenous event of grace manifesting God's sovereignty that isn't to the moral or intellectual credit of his physical or spiritual descendants.  An individual benefiting from the West's values and material abundance today can't pridefully claim a superiority over others of other cultures, as if it were to his or her actions that was true.  It would be, well, like someone feeling pride at being a Hoosier compared to Southern states when that particular state's good (or bad) aspects weren't caused by him or her as an individual.   Moses said it wasn't because of their moral superiority that He chosen Israel (Deut. 9:6):  "Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people."   Nor was Israel was made the chosen people for physical reasons (Deut. 7:7-8):  "The Lord did not set His love on your nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt."  Similarly, Jehovah knew Israel would be disobedient despite having made them the chosen people (Deut. 31:20):  "For when I bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and are satisfied and become prosperous, then they will turn to other gods and serve them, and spurn Me and break my covenant."


               So my claim isn't that the West's ultimate superiority as a culture is due to the special moral credit of its people, or that they were somehow generally smarter than the people of other civilizations.  The direct and indirect causes of the West's rise did stem mainly from Abraham's calling and the resulting ideas of Judeo-Christianity as even medieval Catholicism and later Protestantism understood them. One also had to have Greek philosophical and political thought as well thrown into the mix for this result as well, especially as found in Aristotle.  But, just as it's nearly a historical bromide that Al-Rashid's Abbasid Caliphate (or medieval Islam in general) was greatly superior civilization to Charlemagne's contemporaneous Holy Roman Empire (or Medieval Christendom in general), the opposite has now been true for (especially) the past three or so centuries.  What's good for the choose is good for the gander:  No one can object to the claim that the West's culture is economically/scientifically/technologically/educationally/governmentally administratively superior on average compared to its competitors in recent centuries unless one discards also statements like Abu-Lughod's above, viz., "upstart peripheral to an ongoing operation," when "Christendom" was down in the dumps by the same measures compared to other civilizations.  The same would go for comparisons made, which I would accept, about Chinese civilization's general superiority over the West's for perhaps a thousand years out of the past 1500 years.  Then there are the interesting claims about the resplendence of Islamic Mali empire in west Africa economically centered on Timbuktu in the early 14th century compared to all the civilizations elsewhere that had taken nasty hits from the Mongols.  But I reject moral and cultural relativism being used to attack claims of the West's present superiority yet moral and cultural absolutism being employed when asserting claims about the West's inferiority in the Medieval past compared to other civilizations.  One or the other must go.  For example, would a Muslim academic ever publicly proclaim, "The Umayyad and early Abbasid Caliphates should never be said to be objectively superior to medieval Christendom because no culture or civilization is objectively better or worse than any other"? 


               Any individual's spiritual merit has to be distinguished from the practical advantages a given civilization has in various material, administrative, and ideological areas.  For example, the alleged greatness of the state of Indiana compared to any other state of the union has little to do with the level of spiritual righteousness of any one person living there.  There's no reason to have pride as a Hoosier . . . or as an American, in the sense of looking down on others.  (If a Hoosier has a “right” to look down on and ridicule Kentucky for being backward, poor, uneducated, etc., and to deem that OK, that same person can’t condemn a Mississippian looking down on and ridiculing the Arab Islamic world when the difference is much greater by similar and other criteria).   The same goes for any comparison of the West with the Islamic world:  No one is allowed to have pride since they had so little to do with their present civilization's development and status.  But here various relativistic academics have to make a choice:  Either admit that Western civilization is presently superior to Islamic civilization in these various areas, or otherwise condemn anyone who says Islamic civilization was superior to Christendom's during the Medieval era.  The choice is yours.  One or the other must go.  Nevertheless, the concept of objective superiority in these areas is a good one . . . and the West clearly hasn't always been on the top!  The reasons or causes of this present Western superiority, as not being due to the merit of any one person or group of people (especially spiritually), doesn't erase the reality of the difference.  Unmerited causation has to be distinguished from acknowledging the reality of the difference.  Also, God may not have continually intervened, while letting natural ideological developments ferment, but merely did so in certain crucial turning points, such as when the Mongols, including later under Tamurlane, attacked (elsewhere) in the Muslim world.  That delayed their assaults on Christendom until later, such as when the Hapsburgs could use the New World's gold to pay troops to fight the Ottoman Turks in the Balkans.


               Let’s become more specific and briefly make a side-by-side comparison of two societies:  The state of Mississippi in the 1950’s and the Arab Muslim world today.  Which is more culturally backward and which should be morally condemned more presently? Let’s compare human rights, educational levels, quality of life, standard of living between them.  The state of race relations isn’t the only criteria for judging a society.  It’s necessary to be more general when making an overall assessment for all the people living in those two societies.  In particular, let’s focus much more clearly on the condition of women in much of the Arab and Muslim world.  Consider all the miseries of such problems as female genital mutilation (FGM, which has been almost universal in Egypt), honor killings (i.e., female "lynchings" for dishonoring their family by their behavior), child marriage (pre-teens and young teenagers marrying men two or three times their age), involuntary arranged marriages, ability to leave home on their own, etc.  Once someone studies the gruesome anatomical details of FGM and its results physically (i.e., the goal is the deny women from having pleasure during sex, but that hardly the end of it), it’s easy to proclaim that FGM is a much bigger moral problem than the Palestinian refugee crisis since it affects far more people often much more harshly.  So, when morally evaluating these two societies, into the balances should go the whole gamut of the problems in Muslim marriages and family life that Ayaan Hirsi Ali describes in the film "Submission" (for which its director Theo Van Gogh was assassinated by a Muslim for filming) and her book "The Caged Virgin."  For example, the idea of "companionship" is often very weak in Muslim marriages, thus rendering this relationship mostly "functional," in the way its often practiced in Black Africa, compared to the Western ideals on the institution.  So then, think about this comparison point:  How many black women in 1950's Mississippi were victims of FGM, honor killings, child marriage, forced arranged marriages, kept from leaving their homes except when escorted by a male relative, etc.? 


Furthermore, here’s another items for liberal scholars who defend, rationalize, justify, or excuse the Arab world’s general human rights record to research:  Which was legally harder to accomplish on average statistically?:  1.  A black church’s receiving legal permission to build a church building or repair an existing building in 1950's Mississippi.  2.  An Egyptian Coptic congregation’s receiving legal permission to build a church building or repair an existing building in Egypt last year.  The oppressed religious minorities ("dhimmis") in many Muslim countries were and are traumatized and systematically discriminated against in ways resembling how blacks were treated under Jim Crow in the South.  They are, and remain, second class citizens, such as shown by how the Egyptian government selectively decided to have all the pigs of the traditional Christians killed as a result of their purported fear of the swine flu virus.  (It's fine to observe that these animals are unclean, and that the Muslims are ultimately right, but it's still legal discrimination with a "disparate impact.")  The discriminatory laws of the Sharia concerning dhimmis still live and are still enforced in many cases:  They are hardly medieval dead-letters.  And, it's hardly irrelevant that roughly half of the population of Mississippi could vote in free elections:  That makes it more democratic than just about the entire Arab Middle East, excepting the nation where America imposed democracy at gunpoint (i.e., Iraq), and maybe Lebanon.  In today's world, before the return of Christ, to be 50% democratic is better than 0%. And it was legal for women there to drive cars and vote in the 1950's.  The sharecropping was hardly only a problem for blacks in the South, but that backwards economic system also afflicted many whites.  But then, what are the cultural levels of subsistence farmers in Egypt or Bedouin nomads in Saudi Arabia?  Furthermore, just like typical white attitudes about blacks in the South at this time, Arab Muslims often have racist attitudes towards Muslims of other nations.  Irshad Manji (a liberal Muslim) ran into this from Arab Muslims, who could perceive her ultimate ancestry was from the Asian subcontinent, when the attacked her ethnicity in order to attack her beliefs. So had American white liberals visited a Muslim Arab country when they were young, and could have spoken Arabic, perhaps they would be condemning and ridiculing the Arab Muslim world today much more than 1950's Mississippi.  Northern Liberals like ridiculing Southerners as “dumb,” “stupid,” and “ignorant” in so many ways when Mississippi’s illiteracy rate fell from 7.1% in 1950 to 4.9% in 1960, according to Current Population Reports in 1960.  But suppose they cracked jokes about Arabs being dumb, stupid, and ignorant when (say) Egypt had an illiteracy rate of about 45% in 2005, according to the UN Development Programme Report of that year.  Wouldn’t they condemn that as racist?  If the sins of Mississippi and the American South in the past provoke such outbursts of rage, righteousness indignation, and seething wrath from liberals, why don't the far worse sins of the Arab Muslim world of today get such a pass from the same people? Indeed, instead of condemning them, they often excuse, rationalize, “explain,” defend, or whitewash those human rights problems, such as by pointing out (as a virtual distraction) that Muslim women may have businesses.  For until the barbarians are indeed condemned as barbarians, their sins are being condoned, and they'll keep on acting like barbarians.  That's one of the price tags of upholding a double standard and engaging in selective moral outrage about one country's moral problems while passing over in silence a nation (or civilization) that has sinned much worse (i.e., the "Olaf Palme" argument).  By many social, educational, political, and economic criteria, the state of Mississippi of the 1950’s was a better place than most of the Arab world is today, except for a few oil-rich mini-states.

               Now . . . has Western civilization actually been objectively superior to Islamic Civilization in the past 200 or so years?  Who created constitutional democracy?  Which civilization gave birth to a modern self-sustaining science?  (See Stanley Jaki's "The Savior of Science" and "The Origin of Science and the Science of Its Origin," for the definitional issues involved, etc.)  Which civilization got a guilty conscience over (say) slavery and then decided to try to abolish it elsewhere?  Which civilization gave birth to the industrial revolution, which eventually led to the raising of average people's standard of living above subsistence levels en masse for the first time in human history?  There's also the issue of who had the right religious revelation, even if they didn't obey it fully or interpret it correctly:  The Bible is inspired by God, the Quran wasn't.  Ibn Warraq, in his opinion piece, “Why the West Is Best” (“City Journal,” Winter 2008, vol. 18, no. 1; succinctly summarizes the West’s intrinsic cultural superiority:

The great ideas of the West—rationalism, self-criticism, the disinterested search for truth, the separation of church and state, the rule of law and equality under the law, freedom of thought and expression, human rights, and liberal democracy—are superior to any others devised by humankind. . . . The West recognizes and defends the rights of the individual: we are free to think what we want, to read what we want, to practice our religion, to live lives of our choosing.  In contrast with the mind-numbing enforced certainties and rules of Islam, Western civilization offers what Bertrand Russell once called “liberating doubt,” which encourages the methodological principle of scientific skepticism. Western politics, like science, proceeds through tentative steps of trial and error, open discussion, criticism, and self-correction.  One could characterize the difference between the West and the Rest as a difference in epistemological principles. The desire for knowledge, no matter where it leads, inherited from the Greeks, has led to an institution unequaled—or very rarely equaled—outside the West: the [modern] university. Along with research institutes and libraries, universities are, at least ideally, independent academies that enshrine these epistemological norms, where we can pursue truth in a spirit of disinterested inquiry, free from political pressures. In other words, behind the success of modern Western societies, with their science and technology and open institutions, lies a distinct way of looking at the world, interpreting it, and recognizing and rectifying problems.  The edifice of modern science and scientific method is one of Western man’s greatest gifts to the world. The West has given us not only nearly every scientific discovery of the last 500 years—from electricity to computers—but also, thanks to its humanitarian impulses, the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International. . . .  Moreover, other parts of the world recognize Western superiority. When other societies such as South Korea and Japan have adopted Western political principles, their citizens have flourished. 

Noting that these differences exist and that the West’s culture has many advantages over others isn't "racism," which is merely an unpleasant way to personally attack others at this point (the year 2009) or to evade some politically incorrect truth.  But the objective superiority should be admitted, regardless of the (unmerited) ultimate cause of it. 

               A key source of the West’s superiority was its development of a modern, self-sustaining science about the physical world.  To know how various ideas promoted or retarded the rise of modern science, it's necessary to do serious work, not just read passing references or chapters in this or that book.  Stanley Jaki's "From Eternal Cycles to an Oscillating Universe" is a good general survey of the ideas that promoted or held back the growth of a self-sustaining science in the world's civilizations.  Jaki is a Roman Catholic philosopher of science.  He follows in the steps of Pierre Duhem's "Le System du Monde," which is nearly the size of an encyclopedia set, in documenting how medieval Christian ideas helped to promote the rise of modern science in the West first, not elsewhere.  Practical technology (i.e., the Chinese invention of paper, silk cloth, and gunpowder) shouldn't be confused with theoretical science, such as how to predict where moving bodies will end up if they are at a given location now (i.e., physics).  Overall, Greek logic (as found in Aristotle and Euclid's Elements), the Christian idea of a rational lawgiving God (so what we observe is reliable and predictable), and Hindu-Arabic numerals (so observations can be easily quantified) were needed to create modern science after enough generations had passed.  It’s necessary to become knowledgeable about the history of ideas, both theological and philosophical, not just on politics, military conquest, and economics, to understand what made modern science ideologically possible.


               The Arabs largely copied and discussed what was in the Greek scientific works.  They also did a certain amount of original work, but eventually, over the centuries, the scientific impulse died out in the Islamic world.  (Robert Spencer, in “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades,” pp. 89-96, also makes an interesting case that they were less original than commonly thought and that non-Muslims living among them were  in the driver's seat of progress and/or translated the Greek classical works in question).  Once cause was the influence of Al-Ghazzali's overkill counter-attack on the extreme advocates of Aristotlian ideas among other Muslim philosophers, such as by questioning the intrinsic nature of the law of cause and effect in the material world (occasionalism).  His targets wanted to discard theological beliefs in the name of science, or say philosophical ideas weren't true in the supernatural world also, the double theory of truth, which is awful theology also.  For example, al-Kindi (801-873) argued that religion and philosophy were separate paths to the truth, which meant philosophers could potentially ignore the revealed dictates of the Quran.  Rhazes (864-930), the great Muslim physician, even went so far as to say that only philosophy could reveal the highest truth!   In this case, both sides lacked balance, which was fatal to having a rational faith and a faithful science.  Also, the God of the Quran shouldn't be confused with the God of the Bible, in that Allah is portrayed as very willful, whimsical, changeable in his directions/laws/instructions for humanity, which ultimately undermined the idea of scientific law being dependable to Muslims.  By contrast, Thomas Aquinas accomplished a reasonably successful balancing act in his synthesis, “Summa Theologica.”  True, he conceded somewhat too much to Aristotle, but the Bishop of Paris Tempier's 1277 condemnation of various philosophical propositions helped correct such tendencies in him and others without committing an overkill correction like Al-Ghazzali's that helped to smother Medieval Islamic science eventually. 


               As for Islamic science, I believe a careful look at the primary sources will reveal that Arab science had basically hit a wall even before the Mongols sacked Baghdad in 1258.  It wasn't self-sustaining and growing in the same European science had from the time of Oresme and Buridan on to da Vinci and Galileo. It wasn't able to invent a true theory of how matter moved naturally (i.e., physics) because of the theological/philosophical problems already discussed below.  These ideas, such as Allah's whimsical nature making His creation highly unpredictable and thus Muslim scholars would never look upon scientific laws as describing nature in an utterly dependable and reliable ways.  Any number of wars and battles could have gone one way or another, and have had their dire effects, hypothetical or actual, on the losers.  But granted that certain intellectuals/scholars in a culture hold certain ideas, they will have their consequences over time when sufficient wealth and political stability exist.  An assertion that Islamic science could have become self-sustaining (i.e., developed further than it did before 1600) needs specific documentation to be believable, such as by writing a rebuttal against Jaki's general arguments.


               Other Muslim Ideas interfered with the spirit necessary to develop confident predictions of natural phenomena.  A growing, developing science that makes discoveries assumes innovations are good.  But this conflicts with the key Muslim concept of "bida," which assumes a priori that innovation is bad unless it's proven to be good.  (See Lewis, "The Muslim Discovery of the West," p. 224).  It's still worse when a Muslim would like to copy an innovation of the infidels!  This concept obviously encourages technological and cultural stagnation, and the worst kind of conservatism.  But being somewhat practical, they made an exception for innovations related to warfare.  We're back to that jihad concept again, eh?  That's because conservative Muslims themselves haven't abandoned its literal meaning, unlike the Catholics' present views on launching Crusades.  


               The intellectual foundation culturally for developing science in the Islamic world also was undermined by the concept of Jahiliyah.  This means the age of ignorance in pagan Arabia before the angel Gabriel supposedly told Muhammad to recite in that cave near Mecca. As a result, Muslims automatically tend to ignore and to not do research on civilizations they conquered or had conflicts with, even when they weren't as primitive and backward as pagan Arabia.  Consider, for example, the total output of Western scholars on India, China, and Islamic civilizations compared to the Islamic world's own output in much of the modern period (c. 1500-1900) on India, China, and (before c. 1825) the West:  The ethnocentrism of the former is plainly less than the latter's.  One of Lewis’ key general themes in “The Muslim Discovery of the West” was the amazing level of ignorance of leading Muslim writers about the West (before c. 1825) relative to comparably placed writers about the Islamic civilization’s history or culture.  As Warraq observes (“Why I Am Not a Muslim,” p. 209):


The Arabs showed very little interest in the history and culture of the conquered peoples.  The British in India, by contrast, gave back to all Indians—Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist—their own culture in a series of works of monumental intellectual dedication, works that are a moving testimony to disinterested intellectual inquiry, scientific curiosity, works that in many cases have not been surpassed by modern research.  Imperialists like Lord Curzon saved many of India’s architectural monuments, including the Taj Mahal, from ruin.


This idea of the Age of Ignorance also interferes with the inquisitive spirit of science, especially when the conquered actually do have some good ideas or innovations.  True, Muslims don't follow these ideas 100% obviously.  Consider the case of their passing along Hindu numerals to the West.  But these ideas still create interference, or cultural "fog," through the unspoken assumptions scholars have about what's a problem and what isn't worth trying to investigate or explain.


               So the main threat to what became modern science was Islamic civilization's aggressive military policy.  Had they conquered Europe, it would have smothered modern science from every developing, for the reasons given above.  They copied works in Arab that would have still been preserved in the original Greek if they hadn't attacked and overrun so much of the Byzantine Empire's territory.  Whether they would have spread these ideas in Arabic manuscripts to Western Europe more quickly than Byzantium would have in the original Greek, such as through Spain, makes for an interesting thought experiment.  It is known that a number of Greek-speaking scholars and their manuscripts did make their way to the West after Constantinople finally did fall in 1453, although perhaps their influence has been overstated at that point in the game (the very end of the medieval era).


               It's also true that the objective superiority by various measures of one civilization over another doesn't justify military attacks on (well) inferior civilizations by the superior ones.  But when the tables were turned, and the Islamic civilization was objectively superior to Medieval Christendom (such as a comparison of Charlemagne's Holy Roman Empire to Al-Rashid's Abbasid Caliphate would reveal), they were launching or had launched all sorts of jihads to impose their way of life on their neighbors also.  Does any Muslim intellectual of note, living in a majority Muslim nation, ever publicly condemn the jihads of Islamic history in his or her native language?  It would be nice if they'd return the favor the Noam Chomskys of the Western World do when condemning past Western sins.  Western civilization's intelligentsia is far more self-critical than Islamic civilization's, often unnecessarily when the same moral yardstick is applied to the events and overall relationship in question.


But this issue shows why theory matters in political science and philosophy, and shouldn't be dismissed as irrelevant.  A thumb-sucker some facts making a seat-of-the-pants judgment using a correct theory will make better policy decisions than someone knowing lots of facts (although perhaps a biased sample of them) using a bad theory.  The Ph.D. in zoology who assumes nature can only be explained by nature for a proposition to be definable as "science," will make more incorrect decisions about the truth of evolution than the simple layman who read and believes Genesis is a historical account of the creation.  Marxism is perhaps the best general illustration of this principle, since a number of historical facts really can be made to fit this paradigm.  It just is a lot of facts simply don't fit it.  Many of them even falsify it as well.  People who are unconcerned about analyzing the philosophical theories and moral judgments used to analyze historical facts simply end up assuming and taking for granted those presented to them in books they read, teachers, professors, friends, and colleagues they listen to, etc.  That can be hazardous indeed, for it can lead to major policy decision errors and contradictions in political viewpoints.  Everyone has a philosophy, a mind-set, a worldview.  It just is do they consciously concern themselves with what these should be, or do they take them just for granted.  To use the Briggs-Meyers personality theory terminology, people who are "sensors," concerned mainly with facts and concrete details and denounce theory as boring or impractical, often end up analyzing them and morally evaluating those same facts and concretes by theories or schemas they haven't sufficiently analyzed for their own correctness.  And, of course, the GIGO principle always rules.  In this context I'm reminded of a famous statement by John Maynard Keynes, the famed liberal economist:  "Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves or some defunct economist.  Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back." 


               Perhaps we have to make a distinction between what whether a given civilization is superior (objective condition by this or that criteria) and whether any or much moral credit is due to the people who compose it for the differences in question. Here the West ultimately benefits from Abraham's obedience, whether it knows it or not, or even despite its intellectuals mostly deny it. Similarly, that Indiana, based on certain criteria, is a better place to live than Mississippi may not have that much to do with the moral credit of the people living in the former and the lack of moral credit of the people living in the latter.  So the claim here isn't mainly about what caused the West's culture to be overall superior by most measures compared to its competitors over the past three or so centuries, such as Abraham's obedience to God. The reasons and causes for its present superiority are a separate issue.  I merely claim that it is.   



               Muslim fundamentalists make a serious criticism of the West’s present laissez-faire governance concerning non-economic laws of social morality, such as easy divorce, legalized extra marital and gay sex, uncensored pornography, legalized gambling, etc.  Should fundamentalist Christians agree with them concerning authorizing our human governments to punish unbelievers or lax believers when they violate Biblical law?  After all, wouldn’t conservative Muslims be justifiably critical of corrupt American and European media exports, such as curse words in movies, sexual allusions in rock music, sex jokes in sitcoms, and graphic sex in romantic comedies?   Now, evil human nature has different ways of manifesting itself, so that when one problem is fixed (say, political/religious tolerance is higher in one civilization for whatever reason) then somewhere else another problem results, perhaps as a result of even "fixing" that other problem (i.e., political/religious tolerance allows for a vast, corrupt porn industry to develop). In this specific case, if we give people freedom, something bad happens, and if we deny it, something bad also results. Such trade-offs are unavoidable for policy makers, and I'm no utopian on such matters this side of the millennium. Banning illegal drugs and legalizing alcohol would constitute other such conundrums in which society can't really win: Policy makers ultimately are stuck merely seeing which policy causes less damage overall compared to its opposite recommendation because there are limits to how easily an evil human nature can be controlled, corralled, or channeled before Jesus returns.   Furthermore, Spencer makes an interesting philosophical case against using the state to forcibly impose religious virtue, which the Islamists want to do when having governments implement the Sharia (“Religion of Peace,” pp. 201-203): 

While many of us might deplore the depravity of today’s pop culture, we should not let Islamic moral critique put us on the defensive.  In reality, the freedom at which the jihadists sneer is an essential component of any genuine morality. . . . The secular West, with all its irreligion and debauchery, provides the only authentic framework for genuine virtue.  Without freedom to choose evil, choosing good is not a virtue.  It’s nothing more than submitting to coercion.  And as anyone who has studied Islam knows, the coerced conformity of Islamic society masks a rampant hypocrisy.

Obviously, from a fundamentalist Christian viewpoint, Spencer’s argument can’t be ultimately correct for human society, since Christ after His return would impose God’s Biblical law on the whole world (Isaiah 2:2-4; 9:6-7; 11:9; Daniel 2:44; 7:13-14, 25-27).  However, God may be during this dispensation on this side of the millennium temporarily allowing His true people to experience the world’s greater temptation and tests while still hoping they would freely make the right decisions to obey Him, unlike those living later in the millennium would experience, as the reason why the former would ultimately have a higher position in the kingdom of God than the latter (Rev. 20:6; cf. James 1:2-4; Hebrews 12:5, 6, 11; II Cor. 4:16-17; Ps. 119:71).  That is, in part God has allowed evil to exist in order to see if human beings will freely choose to love and serve Him in an environment lacking the threat of immediate divine coercion.  After all, the same (American) freedom of speech that allows the Church of God to preaching a gospel that includes (for instance) the denial of the trinity and to condemn publicly the gay lifestyle also allows (say) academic atheists to deny both God and the Bible. Hence, we have to put up with them and they have to put up with us. And the Catholics, at least for the moment, have to put up with both, and we and the atheists with them!



               The real philosophical/theological point being made here is sound, that God wanted to raise up Europe eventually because he needed to materially bless the Israelite tribes.  But it should be noted that for any number of cases, "turning points in history," things could have gone the other way also.  Not just (say) Tours or the first one or two assaults by the Muslims against Constantinople (c. 722, etc.), but one thinks in World War II  and World War I (David Lloyd George was quite candid about this in his memoirs/history of that war) Germany could have won either of those wars at crucial points except for their own blunders or miscalculations.  This leads to a general point.  All civilizations could have risen or fallen earlier or later based upon certain crucial turning points, such as the death or birth of certain leaders or the outcome of certain battles.  For example, suppose the Meccans had won at Badr or the Ditch vs. Muhammad in Medina, what would have happened then?  But because of the prevailing anti-Western, liberal bias in the history profession, as well as simply knowing Western history better, we know the turning points (i.e., crucial battles, individuals, etc.) better than for other civilizations.  For example, suppose the "kamikaze" whirlwind had not struck the fleet of the Khan when trying to invade Japan?  How would have their civilization turned out instead?  For China, Mali, India, the Aztecs, Incas, etc., any number of crucial battles or individuals could possibly be discerned, and if they had done things differently, their civilization would have fallen or risen more quickly or more slowly.  Because of the self-hatred or at least self-contempt that exists among many Western historians, the focus is on what could have wiped out the West the most as opposed to China, Islam, India, the Incas, Ashanti, etc.  This bias results from emphasizing who conquered the world last, via imperialism, instead of considering more generally how nearly every civilization has been at least equally guilty of conquest or aggression at some level.  Were the Zulus any more innocent than the British when they encountered each other at Roark's Drift?  What crucial turning point(s) could have wiped out the Ashanti?  I have no idea, but I suspect there were one or more before the Europeans showed up.


               There are ideological reasons for West's rise, such as from certain Christian/Biblical ideas being present that were necessary for the development of modern science when combined with Greek philosophy and the Hindu-Arabic numbering system.  The views of certain historians, sociologists, and philosophers of science, such as Jaki, Duhem, and Merton, go into this development in some detail.  Of course, it would appear that God's truth, as found in the Bible, even as understood by educated Roman Catholics in the late Middle Ages into the early modern period, may have been indirectly used by God to put the West at the top of the heap ultimately.  For certain pagan ideas as found in Greek thought, and certain problems related to how much more willful Allah is compared to Jehovah, were reasons why classical civilization, and later Islamic civilization, didn't develop a sustainable science about something not only mathematical.   (Please see my essay, “Is Christianity a Cause of Science?” if you wish to know more).



               Consider this source on the Mongols to evaluate about how great men’s deaths and actions, or random military victories and defeats, can change the course of history:  Archer Jones, The Art of War in the Western World.  Jones is the professor emeritus of history and a former dean at North Dakota State University, and was the Morrison Professor of History at the United States Army Command and General Staff College.  He is plainly a military historian, judging from his credentials and how he writes.  He has an overall thesis in this book about different weapon systems and how they interact tactically over the centuries, even as the specific weapons change for technological reasons, which certainly sounds like a scholarly military historian’s kind of subject.

               Here is a relevant summary of part of the book:  "Destroying the Russians' armies in 1238 and burning their wooden-walled cities and castles, the Mongols turned away from Novgorod, a city in forested and swampy terrain.  Like the Parthians' calvary, that of the Mongols could not function in forests. . . . Though lacking a dominant weapon system, the Mongols defeated the Hungarians because of their generalship and the tactical skill of their well-articulated army of veteran regulars.  Mongol detachments then penetrated south and west until they reached the Adriatic.  This did not prove an easy task because the natives ambushed them in the mountains and cut off their supplies, mounted forces having as much difficulty in mountains as in forests.  As pope and emperor sought to mobilize Europe to resist this invasion of heathen barbarians, the Mongols disappeared more quickly than they came.  They death of the Khan far away in Asia provided the occasion for ending of a four-year campaign. [Now comes the key part-EVS]  Mountains, forests, and masonry-fortified cities and castles [the Russians' were made of wood by comparison, as he had noted] ahead must have provided additional incentives to leave, as did the logistical obstacles presented by forested country that had few pastures and little grain compared with the enormous requirements of the all-mounted Mongol armies. . . . This withdrawal may not have saved all of Western Europe from the fate of Russia--domination by the Mongols--but it certainly spared them much loss of life and property."  On the prior page he notes their ability in mounting sieges, using the case of the Muslim Khwarizmian Empire, which confirms their ability in this regard, such as having for one siege 4,000 scaling ladders and 4,000 siege engines.  But evidently the Russians with their wooden walls were more easily dealt with than the masonry walls found elsewhere in Europe.



Libertarians and liberals generally have a hard time ever admitting that nations or nations dominated by certain ideologies or traditions have intrinsic expansionary, aggressive, imperialistic tendencies and drives . . . unless that country is the USA or the UK!  Fundamentally, the error in Libertarian isolationist/Liberal-Leftist foreign policy is a naive, optimistic view of human nature as being good.  They don't think authoritarians and totalitarians really mean what they say.    The Wall  Journal Writer Bret Stephens commented about this naivety:  "George Orwell once observed that pacifism is a doctrine that can only be preached behind the protective cover of the Royal Navy. Similarly, libertarianism can only be seriously espoused under the protective cover of Leviathan."  That is, the only reason why libertarians even have their freedom is because of American (and British) interventions abroad that gave them their political freedom against hegemonic threats against the world that would rob them of their freedom.


In recent months, we have the spectacle of Buchanan (a paleo-con, not a libertarian, of course), attempting to whitewash Hitler and Nazi Germany's irredentalist policy in the 1930's.  But Hitler's publicly stated desire to unify all Germans in one Reich merely served as a fig leaf and pretext to excuse naked aggression against other nations, as shown by the (then) secret documents generated by his government about his goals and intentions, not to mention what he had said in "Mein Kampf."  After all, the Wehrmacht invaded and took over areas in Czechoslovakia and then Poland that certainly weren't not German ethnically.  (Likewise simultaneously in 1939, Stalin grossly exceeded his version of irredentalism by taking areas of Poland way west of the "Curzon line," that weren't ethnically Russian at all).  For libertarians who like Buchanan's thesis, they should consider becoming at least as skeptical of anything Hitler said in his public "peace" speeches as anything George W. Bush would say about Iraq, just for starters. 


Likewise, in recent months we have the Justin Raimandos of the libertarian antiusawar.coms and lewrockwell.coms of the world whitewashing, rationalizing, justifying, excusing, etc., China's and Russia's invasions and/or occupations.  But likewise, they should learn to be just as skeptical at least of what the Kremlin says (through a compliant, mostly state controlled press) about Georgia as they would of something out of the White House (which faces an extremely hostile Washington press corps composed mostly of reporters (around 90%) who voted for his opponent in 2000 and 2004, thus making it much harder for this administration to lie or distort the truth) about Iraq.  The same goes for believing what Beijing has to say about Tibet.  Why do libertarians want to believe what Putin's Russians, Nazi Germans, and Pink Chinese have to say justifying their own imperialistic interventionism and attacks on other nations, or present occupations of nations, but won't believe what W. Bush, Cheney, and the neo-cons have to say favoring America's attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan?  Where's the even-handedness and intellectual honesty to condemn all attacks, interventions against, and invasions of other countries as immoral, regardless of the causes or pretexts?  If American and British wars to impose democracies on Iraq and Afghanistan are immoral, so also are Russian and German wars to rescue supposedly mistreated members of their own respective ethnic groups.  After all, let's look at the bottom line philosophically of both kinds of interventionism (irredentist or imposing democracy by force):  They are attacks to improve the human rights condition and reduce the levels of oppressions supposedly of those countries in all these cases.  (Whether this is really true is a separate point:  The Germans of the Sudetenland under democratic Czechoslovakian control would have had far fewer rights after being transferred to the Third Reich's control, not more.  The same may be true today of South Osetia as well, that the Georgia of 2008 would give them more rights than Putin's Russia of 2008.  According to the front page of the 8/15/08 Wall Street Journal, there's now little evidence that thousands of South Ostians were killed by Georgians, as the Russians claimed:  Doctors locally have treated hundreds of people, and one said the death toll was in the dozens).  So then, wars in the name of rescuing people from oppressive governments, whether it be Saddam Hussein's Iraq or (far more dubiously) Georgia's democratically elected Mikheil Saakashvili, should be even-handedly condemned by libertarians.  After all, why are wars in the name of irredentism excused, rationalized, justified, etc., by these libertarians, but not those aiming to make the world safe for democracy?  I want to see evenhanded condemnation of all nations' interventionism and invasions by the libertarian folks at and, not merely those advocated by American neo-cons.


Russia today is punishing Georgia for pursuing policies independent of Moscow's wishes, not merely for wishing to hang onto two provinces whose people wish to join Russia.  They also have a strategic oil pipeline that isn't controlled by either Russia or Iran.  Russian troops should not have gone past the borders of these two provinces at the barest minimum.  Poland, the Baltic states, and other countries joining NATO merely engaged in a defensive operation, knowing full well and having learned from history that Russian expansionism just might return.  As the case of Georgia shows, that particular tradition is alive and well.  These nations, having suffered from Russian occupation, annexation, or control over the centuries, don't wish to repeat their past history.  Libertarians who sympathize with the actions of Putin's Russia apparently haven't learned this lesson from centuries of Russian history about Moscow's traditional expansionism, which has included participation in four partitions of Poland and two annexations of Georgia.  And those who don't remember the past are condemned to repeat it, right?  NATO merely gives them general European and US protection against future attacks:  NATO's reason for existence is thus still justified, since hopes that the Russian bear would keep hibernating are naive.  Fueled by oil and natural gas profits, that bear has now awakened with a vengeance.  Why should the Russians have this perceived sphere of influence that justifies intimidation tactics (like turning off natural gas and/or oil supplies to countries in Europe, such as the Ukraine, who don't bow to their wishes)?  Do libertarians believe great powers should have spheres of influence over other nations, or do they object to them?  The United States formally gave up this right when signing the OAS treaty, that we basically junked the Monroe Doctrine and dollar diplomacy at that time.  Cuba's government has stuck its tongue out at the USA defiantly for nearly half a century, and besides the abortive, semi-serious Bay of Pigs fiasco and a largely ineffective embargo, has been basically unmolested.  America is annoyed about Chavez, but there aren't any plans to invade Venezuela, are there?  Can libertarians see the difference between the USA's treatment of Communist Cuba and Russia's treatment of democratic Georgia?




Does “American Exceptionalism” have a serious foundation?  Or is the “moral equivalency” paradigm that maintains America’s (or Britain’s) military and diplomatic history is morally similar to other authoritarian and totalitarian nations correct?  It does, when America’s behavior historically is compared with any other equivalent-sized and powerful nation in a similar position relative to its neighbors.  That is, most nations in a similar position have treated their neighbors (or the people they conquered) often far worse if we go back enough centuries to make equivalent comparisons.  Furthermore, it’s necessary to consider the credit the world should give to the USA and Britain for facing down three serious hegemonic threats in the past century:  Imperial Germany, Nazi Germany, and Soviet Communism.  Had any of these powers, even the first one, had succeeded in their designs and won World War I, World War II, and the Cold War, the world would have been a far more miserable place than it is even now.  Instead of democratic capitalism having the most influence, a pernicious form of authoritarian or even totalitarian collectivism would have swept the world.  America (and Britain) for all of their historical sins, should still be given credit for getting the big things right. 


Furthermore, if we go far enough, and include all the history before 1815 when making objective judgments about world’s nations using the same unchanging moral yardsticks, we’ll find just about everyone’s ancestors are equally guilty or even more guilty of imperialism and conquest than European or American imperialism was.  For example, a descendant of the Zulus is in no good position to condemn British imperialism.  A descendant of the Aztecs really shouldn’t think he’s better than the Spanish.  An Arab Muslim whose culture was spread by the great early Jihad (7th-10th centuries) is in a poor position to condemn the Crusades or modern Western imperialism unless he’s willing to condemn with equal fervor and passion that great jihad that resulted in the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates.  A Turk can’t really condemn the humiliation visited on his country by a generation of de-colonization in the Balkans as various ethnic groups revolted against Turkish rule before 1914 or even the disaster inflicted in 1918 by the Allied powers unless he admits the jihads that built the Ottoman Empire over the centuries to begin with were also morally wrong.  (That is, why should someone condemn Richard the Lionhearted but let Suleiman the Magnificent off the hook?)   When the arbitrary c. 1800 (or c. 1500) time limit going backwards is removed, suddenly the West ceases to look so bad historically when its behavior is compared to its predecessors.  So it’s best to stop making railing historical moral judgments about the more recent and successful conquerors that are far more harsh than condemnations issued against their predecessors.  If we all live in glass houses, we should all stop throwing rocks.  Instead, we should then analyze history and make moral judgments in a manner befitting how Jesus dealt with the woman caught in adultery, (in the future), “Go and sin no more.”


               Now let’s give some comparative historical context that shows America’s interventions, even in the Western Hemisphere, were much less extensive than would have been had we been a typical European power.  Furthermore, of course, the USA formally gave up that right when it signed the OAS treaty.  Here I’ll let H.G. Wells do the speaking (Outline of History, Vol. 2, p. 864):  “The United States, like the Great Powers [of Europe], had world wide financial and mercantile interests; a great industrialism had grown up and was in need of overseas markets; the same crisis of belief that had shaken the moral solidarity of Europe had occurred in the American world.  Her people were as patriotic and spirited as any.  Why, then, did not the United States develop armaments and  an aggressive policy?  Why was not the stars and strips waving over Mexico, and why was there not a new Indian system growing up in China under that flag?  It was the American who had opened up Japan.  After doing so, he had let that power Europeanize itself and become formidable without a protest.  That alone was enough to make Machiavelli, the father of modern foreign policy, turn in his grave.  If a Europeanized Great Power had been in the place of the United States, Great Britain would have had to fortify the Canadian frontier from end to end—it is now absolutely unarmed—and to maintain a great arsenal in the St. Lawrence.  All the divided states of Central and South America would long since have been subjugated and placed under the disciplinary control of United States of the “governing class.”  There would have been a perpetual campaign to Americanize Australia and New Zealand, and yet another claimant for a share in tropical Africa.”  Wells later on this page starts to analyze why America was different, which I won’t take the time here to repeat presently. 


We also have to recognize that there are higher and lower rungs in hell, so to speak, when evaluating how vicious or harsh various conquests and acts of imperialism are, such as in their ultimate effects on those conquered.  The moral equivalency paradigm I believe is fundamentally mistaken.  (The “American Exceptionalism” and “moral equivalency” paradigms directly contradict each other when it comes to analyzing America’s place in the world).  All human governments are beasts (Re: Daniel 7) that God will replace by His perfect government one day (Daniel 2:44-45), but some are much more vicious than others.  To equate Communist rule (such as what Russia did to the Germans in 1945) with American rule (such as over Germany and Japan after World War II) requires someone to wear moral blinders.  All war is sin, all imperialism is sin, all conquest is sin, but some sins are plainly much worse than others, just as a mass murderer is worse than an armed robber.  We should learn as Christians to discern the different rungs in hell when making historical moral judgments rather than blurring these distinctions.


It isn’t whitewashing history to make these distinctions.  For example, British rule of India was much better for average Indians than rule by the Muslim imperialists the Moguls was.  That’s not to say British imperialism was without sin. Rather, it was sinful, but not as sinful as rule by the prior set of imperialists had been. (Their control had weakened, resulting in India’s unity being lost, which gave the British East Indian Company their opening to slowly take over after beating out the French).  Likewise, it would be a mistake to equate (say) Italy’s rule of Libya after they stole it from another imperialist power (the Ottoman Turks), during which the native population actually declined because it was so harsh, with Britain’s rule of India, which fixed or reduced a number of problems, such as abolishing or reducing slavery, suttee, female infanticide, the Thugee cult, and much of the banditry in the countryside.  There’s also the matter of economic development (such as building railroads) and creating a functioning democracy (that has managed to hold together despite India’s deep poverty except under Indira Ghandi’s rule for a time), but these details won’t be dwell on here.


The error in the moral equivalency paradigm is that it doesn’t give America (or Britain) sufficient credit for being much less harsh than other nations with equivalent power had been or would have been in their place.  It’s this perceived difference on the human rights scale when the same objective yard stick is applied in all places at all times that has implicitly helped hold together the Commonwealth, as loose as it is, compared to even the French Union.  Double standards (as per the approach of Jeanne Kirkpatrick in “Dictatorships and Double Standards”) should be rejected.


Now, was the “Second Reich” of Bismarck and Kaiser Wilhelm II really a serious hegemonic threat?  Did Germany then really want to or threaten to conquer the world?  As part of the research which I did for my History Workshop class at MSU, I had to study into the causes and war aims of World War I since this was (or related to) the main area of expertise of the professor teaching the class.  One of the main issues that motivated Wilson to get involved in WWI was the fear about hegemonic German dominance of (at least then) the most important continent on earth if they won that war.  Similarly, in the early years of the 20th century, Britain had increasingly abandoned “Splendid Isolation” and started to ally itself with other European nations while considering the threat the Kaiser’s rapidly growing High Seas Fleet posed.  It’s important to remember that Germany’s culture, on both the left and right, has a much stronger collectivistic tradition than that of America, Britain, and even France.  The SDP, which was an officially Marxist but democratic party, commanded about 40% of the vote of the German electorate, a percentage that had been growing steadily for decades.  On the other hand, the army, the emperor, the state bureaucracy, the Junkers, etc., were “conservative,” but in the Bismarckian sense (or like Frederick the Great):  They had little or no use for the free market and classical liberalism.  The Lutheran Church in Prussia was particularly subservient to the state, as befitting Luther’s own views about state authority in his response to the (German) Peasants’ Revolt during the time of the Reformation. In this context, we have to consider what’s known as “Sonderweg” theory, that this particular nation, if it got hit by any heavy blows, would have eventually fallen into some kind of harsh authoritarian or totalitarian rule because the philosophical and religious tradition of its society was very collectivist.  If it wasn’t WWI (which Germany bore a heavy responsibility for starting, a point that’s now much clearer in the historiography of recent decades), it could well have been something else.  Leonard Peikoff’s book, “The Ominous Parallels,” as well as two chapters of Shirer’s work, do a good job of describing the influence of German society’s philosophical acceptance of collectivism being much deeper than in other Western European countries. 


Could have America, Britain, and France have avoided defeating Germany decisively and then in turn avoiding imposing the harsh peace terms that helped to cause World War II?  Let’s use AJP Taylor’s summary in "The First World War" to analyze talk of compromise peace proposals in late 1916, when the German Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg put forth his peace negotiation proposal in December.  Ludendorff (who really had control practically speaking of his nominal superior, Hindenberg) was already pushing for unrestricted submarine warfare, which was to be the fateful roll of the dice that brought the USA into the war although it nearly did starve out Britain.  The key problem with negotiations for a compromise conclusion of the war then was over the territorial situation:  The Allies wanted June 1914 restored, but the German and AH armies occupied basically Begium, Serbia, a key part of Northern France, Romania, and (Russia's part of) Poland.  The Central Powers wanted to keep at least some of these gains, leaving the major Allies with the problem of (for instance, if these overtures were taken seriously) serving up smaller occupied countries (or parts of them) to get a compromise settlement, or perhaps the remaining French part of Lorraine as well (where the French had their important pre-war iron mines).  Lloyd George's takeover of the UK's reins was justified on the policy premise that the war had to be prosecuted more energetically in order to win it, and he had barely taken over when Bethmann-Hollweg's note landed in his in-box.  Although it would have been better for the West and the human race in general had WWI had ended in January 1917instead of November 1918, it's hard to see any real grounds in the general situation (December 1916) for a compromise peace to have been worked out.  Neither Ludendorff or LLoyd George, the real, ultimate powers on both sides, had any interest in compromise.


Of course, when analyzing Buchanan’s history of World War II and the diplomatic run up to it, we can start running hypothetical historical scenarios at any point we wish in order to suit the historical arguments we wish to make.  My interpretation merely takes history as it is, rather than conveniently reworking it a priori it in ways to favor a libertarian non-interventionist policy by eliminating the totalitarian hegemonic threats that the U.S. and British faced down after 1939.


Let’s consider the point that the Leftist/Libertarian “Blame America First” school of diplomatic history can find plenty of historical facts to support its case.  But then again, so could a Marxist interpretation of economic and political history.  The problem with both historical paradigms comes from all the facts that are unknowingly left out and deliberately ignored that contradict them.  Hence, Libertarians (or Leftists, as the case may be) never seem to believe in the ill-will or bad motives of any other country besides the U.S.A. (or Britain, France, etc., depending on what Western nation is the immediate target f  or criticism).  Hence, Russia or the Soviet Union never would want to threaten or attack other countries except for American “provocations” like wanting to erect purely defensive ABM systems that shoot down nukes (i.e., they can’t kill anyone, so what’s the problem?) or having a small number of troops in this or that base thousands of miles away from home country assistance (i.e., they can’t very well invade Russia/the USSR).  Centuries of Russian imperialist history, i.e., that nation’s own aggressive tendencies under authoritarian or totalitarian rule, just goes down the historical memory hole in order to prop up the non-interventionist foreign policy paradigm.  There’s never a hegemonic threat for a libertarian to consider:  All those other countries, like China, Russia, Iran (as part of radical Islam), etc., all would be perfectly nice and gentlemanly countries to all of their neighbors except because they are reacting against what the dastardly Americans, British, French (or whoever) did in the past or are presently doing to them.  The same goes for pre-war Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany in the past as well.  That any of these countries just might be (or were) seriously aggressive imperialists and empire-builders on their own intrinsically, regardless of whatever any Western countries did to them in the past, has to be dismissed a priori by libertarians (or leftists, as the case may be) in order to defend their diplomatic/historical paradigm favoring isolationism, non-interventionism, small defense budgets, etc.


In this general light, consider absurd spectacle of Pat Buchanan’s attempt to rewrite the diplomatic history of Nazi Germany’s motives before World War II.  This attempt to whitewash Hitler’s actions in the name of justifying an isolationist foreign policy has to systematically ignore key primary historical sources from the Nazi archives that have long been translated and discussed in the English language, such as in Shirer’s “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.”  I would willingly publicly challenge Buchanan to refute the simple case I made by using Shirer’s work against his revisionist history of the Munich agreement (1938).  And this isn’t my area of professional historical expertise:  Consider what someone who really knows what primary sources say and can read German could do to rip apart his case.  Buchanan’s revisionism also has to ignore what the prosecution presented during the Nuremberg war crime trials relevant to this point.  Sure, Hitler’s diplomatic moves and threats always could use irredentism as a pretext and fig leaf for justifying naked aggression against Germany’s neighbors.  But to actually believe Nazi propaganda was true on these points, or to believe Hitler wasn’t fundamentally lying during his “peace speeches” can only be sustained by ignoring piles of contradictory historical facts that show Nazism was an intrinsically aggressive hegemonic threat.  Being nice to Hitler, or pre-war Imperial Japan, or the Communists, or Russia today, or radical Islamists, wasn’t going to make such threats go away.  Such bullies take weakness and appeasement as an invitation to attack, which is a concept that libertarian isolationists never seem to consider in their calculations when erecting their diplomatic paradigms based on slanted, “Blame America first” historical writings.  For example, Osama bin-Laden became particularly convinced that America was a paper tiger when America’s mostly humanitarian intervention in Somalia went awry, we suffered a relatively tiny number of military causalities, and decided to pull out.  Perceived diplomatic/military weakness, not just any American (or British) interventionism in the Middle East, directly led to 9-11.  Radical Islam is a missionary faith, much like Communism, that believes aggression against infidels and pagans is good, regardless of how nice or mean those infidels and pagans are to the upholders of the true faith.   Furthermore, as Mark Steyn argues in “Lights Out on Liberty” (Imprimis, August 2008), radical Islam could win without firing a shot, unlike prior hegemonic threats to Western democratic capitalism, since “demography is destiny.”  (See  The libertarian error is to assume a priori that no other countries or governments really would be aggressive against their neighbors (besides the Americans, the British, etc.)  but are always and only reacting against the moves and actions of the Americans, the British, etc., regardless of any previous national history of imperialism of their own.


The foundation for the atomic bombings of Japan was the mistaken Allied policy of demanding unconditional surrender from its enemies, including from a nation with an engrained militaristic culture that promoted suicide as the only acceptable alternative to surrender.  Sadly, the Japanese weren’t totally innocent since their government’s aggressive militaristic policies caused truly frightful consequences years later, and they didn’t oppose them much if any at the time when they were successful. Of course, the bombings were an abomination for killing unnecessarily around 220,000 Japanese civilians.  But were they as abominable as the rape of Nanking in 1937-38, which killed around 300,000?  Even today, do Japanese on average feel as guilty about that atrocity as Americans do about the atomic bombings?  Should the atomic bombings be condemned more than the rape of Nanking?  The atomic bombings weren’t done purely gratuitously, for Truman at Potsdam did warn Japan.  And why did the Allies demand unconditional surrender?  There were several reasons Churchill and Roosevelt issued this demand against the Axis from the Casablanca Conference in 1943.  One of the reasons was to prevent (nationalistic) Germans from once again claiming that their army had been “stabbed in the back” by the civilian politicians, as was made by them after World War I.  It was also done to reassure Stalin that the (Western) Allies wouldn’t seek a separate peace from the USSR and to avoid public debate over surrender terms.  This policy should be condemned as immoral in retrospect, for it very directly led to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Here the Allied politicians were too busily trying to prevent a repetition of one of the key errors concerning how the previous war was ended that they ended up causing another much more ghastly error.  But, of course, moral hindsight, like all hindsight, is always 20/20.  Americans in particular simply let their thirst for revenge after the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor overwhelm their good moral judgment.  One simply can’t equate as morally proportionate to retaliate for the killing and wounding of a few thousand members of the army and navy without declaring war first by the deliberate and intrinsically unnecessary killing of over two hundred thousand civilians. 


I’ve studied enough into World War II and the Battle of Britain in particular enough to know the problems with this selective retelling of how the British ended up bombing Germany.  Right from the beginning of the war in Poland, the Luftwaffe engaged in massive aerial bombings of cities, including Warsaw, Wielun, and Frampol.  When the Luftwaffe bombed Rotterdam in 1940 while overrunning Holland, the world reacted to it in horror.  To run some kind of argument that the Germans never would have bombed British cities except for the British raid on Berlin in retaliation for their bombing of London is terribly naïve, given the Luftwaffe’s record in the previous months.  And of course, in 1940 the Germans bombed British cities in gross disproportion (such as at Coventry most famously, beside the London Blitz itself) to the mere pinprick they had received from the British.  (This same lack of proportion in retaliation presumably would be part of the argument someone condemning America’s aerial bombings also make against the Tokyo fire raid, Nagasaki, and Hiroshima being done by America in retaliation for Pearl Harbor).  Also, a major night raid was ordered by Goering against Liverpool (August 19) before the Germans bombed London first on August 15 and made  3 other small attacks on the days before the British launched their first retaliatory raid on Berlin on August 25/26.  Most interestingly, the British, French, and even the Germans had accepted a proposal issued by FDR that aerial bombing be confined to military targets, so long as each side confined themselves to this limitation.  Two days after Rotterdam was bombed, British abandoned this limitation since the Germans had.  The basic British policy on aerial bombardment (night-time, indiscriminate area/saturation bombings of cities) was decidedly much more immoral than the (initial) American strategy of daytime precision bombings of industrial facilities (such as shown by the early Schweinfurt raid that targeted roller bearing production).  Furthermore, we could easily argue it wasn’t militarily very successful since it took so many bombs to destroy a target and the Allies kept mistakenly changing the kind of targets they went after, much like the Germans did during the Battle of Britain.  Here morality could easily line up on the side of astute military pragmatism.  Of course, as World War II proceeded, both sides resorted to total war tactics and accepted them as part of the war.  That obviously doesn’t make them morally right from a Christian viewpoint, and the Western Allies made the terrible mistake of sinking to the moral level of their opponents.  They were willing to admit this at times.  For example, Nimitz had no objection to how Doenitz conducted the U-boat campaign in the Atlantic during World War II, since the USA more successfully used unrestricted submarine warfare against Japan than Germany did versus Britain.  He submitted an affidavit in Doenitz’s support, which was a major reason why the Nazi submarine commander only got 10 years in prison.  Notice, by the way, the difference here from your argument concerning Goering’s Nuremburg  being convicted in part because he engaged in the bombing of civilians, although  that apparently wasn’t a major focus of the indictment against him (see this summary of his trial at  Here the victorious Allies granted their wartime tactics were no better than the Axis’, thus helping Doenitz to get off the hook nearly completely, so their level of hypocrisy wasn’t as great as someone may think.


Only in the decades since the war (including during Vietnam), have people seriously reconsidered the morality of the strategic bombing of civilian areas in cities.  When the United States accidentally killed roughly 800 people in a bomb shelter area in Baghdad during the Persian Gulf War, it was immediately seen as a ghastly, awful mistake, which certainly wouldn’t have been the (Allied) public reaction during World War II.  It isn’t like today America would engage in the same tactics again, short of an all-out nuclear war.  The use of “smart bombs” during both wars in Iraq is a case in point, since a real effort was made during especially the second war in Iraq to reduce civilian casualties compared what World War II style strategic bombing tactics would have produced.  (Part of this was driven by our own self-interest, of course:  We figured we would easily conquer the country, so we didn’t want to destroy everything such as the electrical plants that then we would have to rebuild at our expense).  I agree that all such bombing is immoral, and that all war is immoral, but I don’t feel much like singling out America’s and Britain’s killing of roughly 1 million Japanese and Germans by this means when the Japanese alone killed roughly 7 million Chinese civilians.  (Therefore, you should condemn the Japanese 14 times more times for what they did in China than you condemn what America did to Japan, if you’re going to use the same moral yardstick in both cases).  The Japanese were far more the victimizers than the victims during World War II, regardless of the awful way a really bad war ended for them.  After all, why did FDR “interfere” with Japan’s war effort against China by placing an embargo on American exports of oil and scrap metal?  Well, to put an end to such atrocities as the Rape of Nanking.  Sure, he also wanted to maintain the (by then) traditional American “Open Door” policy, which didn’t want any one imperialist power dominating China the way Britain ruled India.  And, of course, rather than give up her imperial ambitions on the Asiatic mainland, Japan decided to conduct the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor instead.  Let me invent my hypothetical, alternative history scenario to suit the point I’m making now:  The “peace-party” in Japan’s government wins out versus the “war party,” and so Japan pulls out of Manchuria, China, and Indo-China under the pressure of FDR’s embargo:  End result, no civilian bombings of any Japanese, and lots of Chinese civilians saved as well.  After all, FDR’s embargo doesn’t dispatch a single soldier across any border, but do you still object to it?  (Just like you presumably object to Poland or the Czech Republic setting up small ABM defenses which can’t kill anyone and are designed to shoot down a nuke or two launched from Iran, not hundreds of incoming missiles from Russia?)


Then the UN/U.S. embargo against Iraq after the Persian Gulf War merits some discussion:  Well, why do you blame only the U.S. for this, rather than Saddam Hussein’s unwillingness to comply with various UN resolutions and the cease fire conditions he signed?  Here it took two to tango.  Furthermore, there’s another hypothetical worth consideration:  Saddam Hussein’s government likely would kill more people by its normal operations, internally and/or abroad, had he been let out of his “box” (as the French, Chinese, and Russians all wished to do), than these sanctions inflicted.  Sure, the end doesn’t justify the means, and all wars are immoral, but if we’re going to discuss higher and lower rungs in hell, let’s make the elementary distinctions involved, that “moral equivalency” is a flawed model for making the Western Allies as bad as the Japanese and Germans during World War II or the USA as bad as Hussein in Iraq.  The United Nations, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch estimate Saddam killed hundreds of thousands internally (possibly up to 400,000), not merely during his wars against Iran and Kuwait.  If Saddam Hussein had built nukes, and he nearly had by the time the Persian Gulf War had begun, what would have stopped him from taking all the Persian Gulf oil fields?  Letting him out of his “box” would have likely eventually resulted in a similar outcome, although perhaps during the lifetimes of his sons instead.  But the Bushes’ interventions against Iraq preventing such a ghastly hypothetical future historical outcome isn’t the kind of hypothetical history libertarians like to consider:  It might be too upsetting to their non-interventionist paradigm’s dogmas.


Now, let’s consider the need to name our premises when condemning this or that nation’s actions morally:  Are we doing it from a Christian viewpoint for which all war of any kind is always sinful?  Or are we putting on our secular hats, and pretending to morally condemn independently of the Bible’s specific revelations?  And are we shifting back and forth without warning in order to (seemingly) win the present argument?  For example, at the time, I opposed the interventions by Clinton in Bosnia and Kosovo.  (I even disliked his intervention in Haiti and Bush 41’s intervention in Somalia before it went bad).  However, it’s hard now in retrospect to morally condemn our interventions in the Balkans.  They saved a lot of lives at very little cost to us.  That then leads to a crude, utilitarian moral hypothetical that has to be considered:  Is it moral to deliberately kill (say) a hundred people to save a thousand others?  More specifically, is it right to kill a hundred Serbians to save a thousand Bosnians and Albanian Kosovars later?  Obviously, this isn’t the Biblical worldview.  Such a consequentalist, utilitarian viewpoint plainly has eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for it ignores God’s revelation plainly.  But it’s a good minimalistic “default” position for any consideration of any policy from a secular viewpoint.  (Here I’m leaving aside all the complex issues that come up in trying to deduce or induce a morally absolute moral code from matter in motion without reference to specific revelations from God, which would reject a presuppositionalist apologetics approach).  The same kind of argument, making plausible hypothetical future history scenarios, could be used to justify American-British intervention in Iraq, that it could save more lives than it costs.  But if someone uses secular reasoning to support policy X, and then another one of us counter-attacks using the Sermon on the Mount to prove how immoral policy X is, that’s a cheap shot.  Such moral one-upmanship is easy, but isn’t fair since it changes the ground rules for the debate about the appropriateness of policy X mid-stream.


We should make a sharp distinction between attacking persons as opposed to ideologies, and religion is an ideology.  Attacks on false ideas don’t mean the people who uphold false ideas should be killed.  Attacks on Islam are no more racist than attacks on Christianity, since members of these missionary religions can be of any nationality, ethnicity, or race.  When I attack the false teachings and history of a false religion that should be separated from personal friendship.  I had 5 Pakistani roommates (consecutively, interrupted by a mainland Chinese for a semester), and I’ve also worked with Muslims at Lafarge.  I don’t have a problem working with them.  The team leader of one accounting department later even took the personal initiative to meet with me one-on-one to encourage me to do volunteer accounting work in order to get experience after turning me down for an accounting position because I didn’t have enough experience compared to the woman who won the position.  It's necessary to learn to not personalize evaluations of ideas if we wish to live happier lives. 


But there’s another way to analyze the need to love Muslims (of whatever daily behavior or political belief):  Aren’t the Communists and the Nazis “God’s children” also?  After all, we’re supposed to love all our enemies, right?  If you want me to say I love Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Osama bin-Ladin, that’s fine, I’ll affirm that proposition.  But then in return, could liberals and libertarians say they love George W. Bush and the Neo-cons?  They’re God’s children also, right?  These opinion pieces from or have far more harsh language against their American political opponents than my consolidated essay about Islam’s intrinsically built-in ideological support for violence against its opponents makes about Muslims in general, rather than just “radical Islamists.”    Indeed, of course, this essay criticizes a religious ideology, just like my book criticizes the Jewish arguments against Christianity.  That book isn’t anti-Semitic because I’m criticizing ideas critical of belief in the New Testament and in Jesus as Savior, not making bad stereotypes about the moral failings of Jews for which they should be punished collectively. 


We also shouldn’t be under the delusion that everything we write has to be “positive.”  Consider the reality that large chunks of the Old and New Testaments are polemical in nature (i.e., are aggressive attacks on the beliefs of the beliefs and actions of others).  What is Paul saying about false teachings and moral failings in I Corinthians, Colossians, and Galatians?  What did Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel have to say that was positive (rather than negative) about the society they lived in then?  What about Jesus’ denunciation of the Pharisees in Matthew 23?  Just pretend my function in writing like Jonah’s in being sent to Nineveh:  I witness to the religious errors of my opponents.  Other people in the Body of Christ have other functions and can do other jobs that balance my focus out some.  Different people have different talents and different callings.  One of mine is to defend the faith by attacking false teachings by others, whether of the faith or of another faith.


Furthermore, the Shiites and the Kurds probably on net average probably reluctantly approve of America’s intervention in Iraq to impose a democratic order on them at least to a degree since they were oppressed by the Sunni Arab minority.  If someone conducted a questionnaire of the folks in “Kurdistan,” they probably would willingly approve of this cost.  A fair number of Shi’ites might as well.   After all, they also would remember the mass graves Saddam had dug for many of his people, and then think the costs of democratic order imposed on them might not look too bad by comparison.  In such as light, note this article in Wikipedia about the investigation by the leader of Human Rights Watch, who concluded the Kurds were gassed at Halabja by the Iraqi government rather than by the Iranians (see  I wouldn’t be confident that such a survey, if actually conducted, would result in a hands-down victory against American-British interventionism, since Saddam ran a nearly totalitarian state.  (Before reading the details, I thought Saddam’s Iraq was like Pinochet’s Chile or Argentina and Brazil under military rule, but that’s a serious misimpression).  And just sometimes, morally imposing our values on others can result in net good for others:  Many Hindu widows likely approved of the British suppressing suttee rather than tolerating this native custom with a long heritage and tradition behind it.  And it’s hard nowadays to really be critical of what we imposed on the Serbs in keeping them from attacking the Bosnians and Kossovars further.   Hmmm . . . I guess in my mind now those Muslims were worthy of continued life.  Did the libertarians at back then think they were?




               The "Olof Palme" argument needs some closer scrutiny.  When may we morally condemn more harshly the same or lesser sins of one nation or civilization compared to others?  That is, since the West (or America in particular) is at a higher level of knowledge, its sins (such as in Vietnam) should be more harshly and frequently denounced than similar sins elsewhere.  So can a double standard be defended after all?  This argument’s costs, however, may not are bearable upon further examination.  First of all, it admits the West's (or America's) present intrinsic moral superiority on average compared to other civilizations mainly or entirely in the (optimistically named) developing world.  Would someone using this argument turn to the Muslims and/or Vietnamese, and say smugly, "Well, you guys are going to have such a hard time learning to tolerate publicly stated minority dissent, creating stable democracies, respecting human rights, giving women equality under the law, etc., we're going to mostly let you off the hook, and thus rarely or never publicly condemn your sins."  That is, would a liberal leftist bluntly, directly, and condescendingly tell non-Westerners about their moral inferiority as the reason they are going to be judged less harshly by (leftist) Westerners?   

               But this argument assesses another cost,  which resembles what happens under Affirmative Action programs in which a number of blacks and other minorities deliberately do less well academically compared to their potential because they know they've got nearly guaranteed slots at highly selective universities and colleges.  That is, why would the Muslims (or whoever "benefits" from the double standard that shields them from criticism) ever seek to improve?  What incentive do they receive from acting better when they’re still rewarded for behaving badly?  The feel-good vibes they get from the Noam Chomskys of the Western world help them think of themselves first as victims who can demand handouts instead of doing the hard work of achieving something economically (ala the Chinese and East Indians, who also endured Western Imperialism).   The leftist Western intelligentsia effectively take on the role of enablers in the codependency psychological schema relative to the Islamic civilization’s deeply dysfunctional problems:   They act like the wife cleaning up after and pretending normalcy about her chronically drunken husband's bad behavior, thus helping to perpetuate it by reducing its bad consequences rather than helping him hit bottom and then encouraging him to change and repent.  As Dr. Tawfik Hamid observed in his brilliant opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal (April 3, 2007, my emphasis added):  "Yet it is ironic and discouraging that many non-Muslim, Western intellectuals -- who unceasingly claim to support human rights -- have become obstacles to reforming Islam. Political correctness among Westerners obstructs unambiguous criticism of Sharia's inhumanity. They find socioeconomic or political excuses for Islamist terrorism such as poverty, colonialism, discrimination or the existence of Israel. What incentive is there for Muslims to demand reform when Western "progressives" pave the way for Islamist barbarity? Indeed, if the problem is not one of religious beliefs, it leaves one to wonder why Christians who live among Muslims under identical circumstances refrain from contributing to wide-scale, systematic campaigns of terror."  Hence, all this excuse making for the Muslim world's problems and sins, past and present, may seem compassionate, but is fundamentally counter-productive.  The "Olof Palmes" of the world, by indulging in double standards, help perpetuate misery by avoiding the "tough love" needed to get the chronic drunk (i.e., the Islamic world) to reform.

That is, are we going to condone the sin of the barbarians, and let them consistently off the hook?  Furthermore, the Muslim barbarians aren't ever going to improve much if they think nobody cares much when they kill so many, but people go ballistic when the Israelis kill this or that Palestinian unjustly.  Presumably, you're familiar with the characterization some liberals give to suburban and rural conservatives who are indifferent to high murder rates in the ghetto:  "Well, it's just the "natives" killing each other, so we don't care since we're safe in our lily-white subdivisions."  Taken to its logical conclusion, the "Olaf Palme" argument preaches a similar indifference to much greater sins being committed elsewhere in the world by other nations.  Furthermore, liberals point out the problem with "self-fulfilling prophecies" when it comes to white teachers with low expectations of blacks academically teaching black students:  The black students tend to live up to the low expectations of the authority figure in the classroom.  The same kind of process occurs when double standards are used by liberal academics to condemn much smaller Western sins (whichever ones they are) than much greater Communist or Muslim sins:  If Westerners have low expectations for these other cultures, that they can't learn to be democratic, tolerant of opposition, etc., they will live up to those expectations.  (True, let’s not make light of the cultural obstacles with Bush's nation-building projects in Iraq and Afghanistan either, but there's an attitude of Western liberal condescension here about Arab culture not being able to change that the local Arab dictators and monarchs are only to happy to take advantage of).  “Defending the West,” Ibn-Warraq's critique of Edward Said's "Orientalism" should be examined by those who constantly cry “Racism!” against others who properly point out that the human rights problems of Muslim societies greatly exceeds modern Israel's. 

               But now consider having a sense of proportion.  About 200,000 Muslims have killed each other in Algeria in recent years.  Perhaps up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Turks during and just after World War I.  (That isn't that long ago).  Assad killed between 10,000 and 25,000 people at Hama in Syria.  But only about 10,000 Palestinians have been killed by the Jews in 70 years of conflict.  Anyone who spends so much more time and passion denouncing Israel's much smaller sins than Islam's much greater sins has a problem in prioritizing what's important morally.  Ayn Rand once acutely criticized such moral disproportions when analyzing the liberal denunciations of the John Birch Society (an organization she didn't have much use for) in "Capitalism:  The Unknown Ideal," when the liberals were condemning the communists, the KKK, and the John Birch Society together (her emphasis):  "Let us agree that libel is a serious offense and ask only one question:  does libel belong to the same category of evil as the actions of the Communist Party and the Ku Klux KlanAre we to regard wholesale slaughter, lynch-murders, and libel as equal evils?  If one heard a man declaring:  'I am equally oppose to bubonic plague, to throwing acid in people's faces, and to my mother-in-law's nagging'--one would conclude that the mother-in-law was the only object of his hatred and that her elimination was his only goal."


               It's fine to point out problems in our nation and worldly culture, but can liberals ever learn to tell Muslims about problems in their nations and worldly culture as well to an equal degree?  Can Muslims learn to be more self-critical about their culture, to the degree liberals are about the West’s?  Liberal academics have to stop feeding the Muslims’ victimology.  Irshad Manji says Muslims in the West sometimes need to be made uncomfortable, in order to make them rethink their positions (p. 212):  "We [Western Muslims] can do so not merely by condemning Islamo-fascists but by refusing to become Islamo-fetishists, those who stroke the Muslim inferiority complex by leaving the heavy lifting of change to somebody else.  We need to depose our own victim mentality."  Sometimes, she says, non-Muslim friends of Muslims need to ruin the moment (p. 192-193):  "Note to Non-Muslims:  Dare to ruin the romance of the moment.  Open societies remain open because people take the risk of asking questions--out loud.  Questions like, ‘Why is it so easy to draw thousands of Muslim into the streets to denounce France's ban on the hijab, but impossible to draw even a fraction of those demonstrators into the streets to protest Saudi Arabia's imposition of the hijab? . . . Non-Muslims do the world no favors by pushing the moral mute button as soon as Muslims start speaking.  Dare to ruin the moment.”  Sometimes “tough love” is the only way to get people to reform; life can’t always be about sweetness and light.  

Are criticisms of Islam “racist”?  This question can be answered by considering the analogous questions:  Could a Muslim who criticizes Christianity ever be “racist”? Are criticisms, unfair or not, of Christianity ever “racist”?  For example, are the attacks on Christianity by Richard Dawkins, “The God Delusion,” and Bertrand Russell, “Why I Am Not a Christian,” which are in the name of unbelief, “racist”?   Both mainstream Islam and Christianity uphold the view that Muslims and Christians can be of any ethnicity, nation, or race.  For example, when I was a grad student, I remember around the time when Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the (Black Muslim) Nation of Islam, came to the Michigan State University campus to speak that various Pakistanis I knew objected to his racist theology, by saying that a Muslim can be of any race.  Criticisms of a universal religion’s theology, historical practices, or doctrinal beliefs are not “racist,” although apologist for such a faith could say such attacks are “unfair,” “inaccurate,” or “biased,” if that’s indeed true.  Even when a religion is closely tied to a particular ethnic group, such as Judaism is to Jews, the two can be separated:  In my book, “Zeal For God Not According to Knowledge: A Refutation of Judaism's Arguments Against Christianity,” I make a careful yet also polemical rebuttal against the arguments of four Jews who attacked belief in Jesus and the New Testament.  But my defense of Christianity didn’t involve making (say) ethnic slurs about Jews as persons, appealing to various ethnic stereotypes, invoking in the classic “blood libel” of anti-Semitism, proclaiming ridiculously false conspiracy theories (such as those based on  “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,”) etc.  Indeed, I condemn anti-Semitism in the opening chapter of my book, by noting  that the Holocaust couldn’t have happened without the ground for the burial of Europe’s Jewry had been prepared by centuries of traditional Christian anti-Semitism. (True, Hitler’s anti-Semitism was a different kind, since it was based on his neo-pagan and pseudo-scientific racial theories:  Conversion to Christianity (i.e., a change in religious belief) couldn’t save Jews from the Nazis’ gas chambers, but it could save Jews from the Inquisition).  Instead, by using historical facts, the actual text of the New Testament, and logic, I showed how and why their criticisms of Christianity were false or misleading.  So since criticisms of Christianity by Muslims can’t be “racist” by definition, it’s necessary to discard Edward Said’s paradigm in “Orientalism,” which associated Western scholars views of Islam with racism.      




               We can, of course, rationalize the sins that more commonly occur in other civilizations than in the West at present by saying they are at lower level of development for some reason.  But why is then the West, by some objective measure, at a higher level then?  Could it not be because the West (or Christendom) upheld some kind of objectively true, universal values that apply to human nature generally in all cultures?  (Here's Bush 43's controversial second inaugural speech comes to mind:  Does humanity really want freedom deep down, as part of the essence of human nature?)  Could it not be argued that these universal values most in the West uphold, such as about slavery being wrong, women's rights, not ethnically cleansing native people, religious superstition being wrong, etc., are values the Islamic world, the Chinese civilization, etc. would have never figured out on their own?  That they only become modernized/Westernized in such values, to the extent it's not just about technology and science, by copying the West?  It would be nice if many liberals would develop an equal passion in denouncing the sins of the present-day Muslim world as you do here about American history's black pages.  Despite the West's example, many in this civilization still do hold slaves still (like in the Sudan), mistreat or oppress women (like women not being able to drive in Saudi Arabia), ethnically cleanse people of opposing religions or ethnic groups (like in the Darfur presently), etc.  Why not be equally harsh in denouncing them sometimes, instead of excusing them by making a comparison with American or Western history in the past?  Since the Islamic world can copy the west in these areas, much like the Japanese did when it came to military, scientific, and technical fields in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the excusability level drops, for they didn't have to work Enlightenment political ideology all out on their own as pioneers as the West did, from relative darkness.

               We should be willing to judge and condemn different world civilizations by the same values and the same standards, instead of artificially holding up Western/Christian civilization to a higher standard in order to condemn it more.  True, this civilization discovered more earlier on about human rights, so one can make the case for holding it to a higher standard, but that only makes sense in the context of the time the given atrocities or acts of imperialism occurred.  For example, it’s absurd to judge medieval Catholic political practice by early twenty first century political practice and ideology in developed democracies without similarly condemning or letting off the hook medieval Islamic civilization’s sins.  The medieval Catholics, even the nineteenth century Western imperialists to a lesser degree, were ignorant also and therefore less culpable.  Furthermore, are educated Muslims today really “ignorant” of the West’s human rights standards and political practices of republicanism?  Unlike the nineteenth century Western imperialists, contemporary Muslims do have a superior civilization they can copy, much like Mustapha Kemal Ataturk did early in the twentieth century.  Christopher Hitchens, a maverick atheistic leftist, in his general attack on religious faith in "God is Not Great" made a useful point about the bias many Western academics have favoring Islam.  In an interview with Newsweek he commented to Jerry Adler:  "'This book is a repudiation of left-liberal weak-mindedness,' he says in an interview, in particular the tendency to see Islam as a religion of the oppressed and to excuse its radical excesses."  (May 14, 2007, p. 58).   Plainly enough, we shouldn’t whitewash Islamic history as a way to condemn Christian/Western civilization by the supposed contrast.

               Furthermore, a Christian shouldn’t move back and forth without warning between using a strictly Biblical worldview and a secular worldview based on human moral reasoning alone when making historical criticisms and/or policy recommendations.  Either use the Bible’s teaching of pacifism to condemn all imperialism, war, terrorism, and violence, or don’t use it at all.  For example, one can’t emotionally rationalize, justify, “explain,” etc. the Palestinians as being justified in using terrorism against Israel, but then object to the United States retaliating against Japan for their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and against Al-Queda’s on 9-11 or condemn the creation of the French Resistance against German occupation during World War II.  Either condemn all of these uses of violence based on Matt. 5, or condemn none of them, based on human moral reasoning that ignores what God says, based on the principle of seeking revenge or wanting to impose justice by our own hands.

To put the point generally, if someone spends far more time, does it in much greater detail, and has much more emotional passion condemning one civilization's (or nation's) sins compared to another's when they are comparable in extent or even less, that bias should be confronted and admitted.  Someone who could launch a one hour monolog about modern Israel’s human rights violations but couldn’t come up with five or ten minutes of condemnation of the sins of Nazism, Communism, or the 20th century Islamic world is obviously personally biased.  To explain this further by an analogy that has nothing to do with the history of nations, suppose someone presently criticized in great detail the mostly past sins of a largely reformed alcoholic.  That’s rather useless at some level, for further condemnations can't change his past.  But if that same person overlooked condemning, or only did so sporadically without passion or great detail (or only when reminded and prompted) someone who's routinely drunk (i.e., commits the same sins in the present the other did in the past), it’s obvious to conclude that the critic is biased:  For some reason, he dislikes the first man much more than the second.  Furthermore, the present drunkard's problems are occurring now, so criticism that results in his changing his behavior could help him and other people.  By contrast, the largely reformed drunkard's main sins are in the past:  No amount of criticism will change how he mistreated his wife, children, neighbors, and/or co-workers years ago.


Let's give another parable.  Suppose in my neighborhood I had a neighbor who described to me in great detail with much passion how much one neighbor beat his wife, but then didn't tell me hardly anything about the serial killer who lived across the street.  If he said anything at all against the serial killer, it was in passing, without passion or detail, and only when being prompted to do so by someone else with specific knowledge.  Furthermore, suppose I found out (not from the prejudiced  neighbor) that the wife presently being  beaten in a prior marriage had been a husband beater, and that she presently gets in a good number of "hits" against her husband, that she isn't a passive victim.  I would safely conclude that neighbor isn't being objective about the faults of his neighbors, that I can't rely his generalizations about the problems in the neighborhood without doing further inquiries and investigations myself.


Using these analogies, let’s generalize to the West and/or American history the principle Thomas Friedman (the New York Times columnist on foreign affairs) makes concerning whether and when criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic:  "Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic, and saying so is vile.  But singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction--out of all proportion to any other party in the Middle East--is anti-Semitic, and no saying so is dishonest."  Dershowitz then comments:  "A good working definition of anti-Semitism is taking a trait or an action that is widespread, if not universal, and blaming only the Jews for it."  Nearby, he also maintains:  "Most important, I argue that those who single out Israel for unique criticism not directed against countries with far worse human rights records are themselves guilty of international bigotry.  This is a serious accusation and I back it up.  Let me be clear that I am not charging all critics of Israel with anti-Semitism.  I myself have been quite critical of specific Israeli policies and actions over the years, as have most Israel supporters, virtually every Israeli citizen, and many  American Jews.  But I am also critical of other countries, including my own, as well as European, Asian, and Middle Eastern countries.  So long as criticism is comparative, contextual, and fair, it should be encouraged, not discouraged.  But when the Jewish nation is the only one criticized for faults that are far worse among other nations, such criticism crosses the line from fair to foul, from acceptable to anti-Semitic."  (See generally "The Case for Israel, pp. 1-2).  Let’s apply this same principle to America's history, British history, and the West's history generally, while removing the arbitrary time line (post-circa 1800) going backwards for analysis, and then ask the same questions again:  If (Arab) Muslims practiced slavery, routinely invaded other countries, mistreated women, oppressed religious minorities, and were racist, why should Westerners feel any more guilty than the Muslims do? 


If a liberal pacifist sympathizes with this or that terrorist or guerilla movement while it fights against some colonialist or imperialist occupying power, this comparison with the moral problems in using “enhance interrogation techniques” dozens of times on three of the captured Al-Queda leaders.  That is, excusing, explaining, rationalizing, justifying (pick the word preferred, it amounts to the same thing here functionally) the atrocities that they are committing by blaming the previous actions of the occupying power also means ignoring the Sermon on the Mount, the Golden Rule, the Second Great Commandment, and Romans 13.  If one says, well, those civilians of the occupying power deserved what they got because "their chickens came home to roost," couldn't that be said of KSM & Co. enduring waterboarding because they have the blood of thousands of people on their hands?  What goes around, comes round, applies to terrorists after they get captured too, eh?  That is, if one excuses revenge-taking when making political analyses of guerrilla and terrorist movements, someone else could excuse revenge-taking when making political analyses of how captured terrorists are treated by the occupying or imperialist power.  So then, the Sermon on the Mount shouldn't be used selectively to condemn waterboarding KSM, but then be ignored when excusing suicide bombers because they supposedly have a worthy cause that justifies their evil means.  Either use Biblical standards all the time or don't mention them at all when making political analyses that involve condemning and judging the actions of others.


It’s a straw man caricature of my position to say I agree with the imperialist actions of nations run by “white boys” in the past.  I would ask in reply:  Do liberals ever condemn seriously nations run by “black boys and brown boys”?  Isn’t this an “Affirmative Action” view of history:  Whites always wrong, blacks and browns always right?  Clearly, absent a highly specific and clear revelation from God (i.e., Joshua's invasion of Canaan), it's wrong for any country to invade any other, past or present, regardless of ethnicity.  And if we're going to use the Sermon on the Mount's command to pacifism as a common standard, all acts of violent resistance to evil governments are also immoral and should be condemned.  The schoolyard analogy about a bully getting (deservedly) punished by one of his victims is based on a morality not derived from the Bible, but from secular reasoning that ignores the Bible.  Can't that be admitted?  That is, we shouldn't use the pacifist Biblical standard to advance a political argument when that's convenient but then shift back without acknowledgement or warning to natural law reasoning to advance some other political argument when that's momentarily more useful in winning a political argument.  To point this out isn't racist, but Christian.  The command to turn the cheek isn't a command merely for invaders, but it's also a command for the invaded.  To point this out isn't racist, but Christian.  To quote Romans 13 to prove that everyone should obey even their oppressive human governments so long as they don't tell their subjects to violate God's law isn't racist, but Christian.


The non-evaluative words "explain" and "expected" shouldn’t be used to cover up the reality that the West's past imperialism and human rights violations make liberal  academics far more upset emotionally than imperialism and human rights violations by any other civilization or group of nations, past or present. That's how all the atrocities committed by various guerrilla and terrorists groups are rationalized, excused, and blamed on the victims of terrorist activities.  The word "explain" really means "rationalize, justify, excuse" in this context when used by liberals, although I'm perfectly well aware that may be denied.  So then, couldn't I "explain" the coercive interrogation techniques used against KSM and the other two top Al-Queda leaders were because they killed hundreds of people and that they knew how hundreds more were going to be killed?  Suppose I "explained" that their getting waterboarded was the "reality [that] they receive what happens when they behave like this to other people . . . It's to be expected"?  Is that same reasoning equally convincing when applied to the captured Al-Queda leaders?  That they should "expect" rough justice, using the same kind of argumentation that's been to blame the victims of terrorist activities?  After they kill hundreds of people, should terrorists have a firm "expectation" that their Miranda rights will be read to them and have the exclusionary rule about evidence used to convict them followed?  


Isn't it obvious that the same argument used to "explain" terrorist activities as something to be "expected" as the result of prior imperialist nations' actions can also explain what happens to the terrorists themselves when the "imperialists" capture them?  That is, rebellion can result in repressive responses that should then be "expected" and can be "explained" as what the rebels "deserve" for using such profoundly immoral methods for (purportedly) moral causes?  For example, Israel's tightening of the screws by blockading the West Bank and Gaza against workers and goods crossing the old 1948 borders is a predictable "response" to Palestinian suicide attacks and the second intifada:  Violent rebellion often results in further punishment, arguably making conditions worse for the rebels (at least in the short term) than before when they rebelled.  (Of course, had Arafat accepted Clinton's and Barak's deal back in 2000 that even included a chunk of Jerusalem, the Palestinians would now have an independent state).  Instead of making excuses, rationalizations, and justifications for terrorism under the cover of "explaining" it, this method of resistance should always be condemned harshly, with the same level of passionate outrage, seething wrath, and righteous indignation that should be directed against the human rights violations of the imperial/occupying power.  Two wrongs don't make a right.  To say this isn't racist, but Christian.


Let's now put the potential human rights problems at Guantanamo Bay in some greater moral context.  One garden variety suicide bombing that successfully killed at least one other person (besides the bomber) is worse than the totality of every immoral action reliably documented to have occurred at Gitmo.  Arguably, the error in letting Abdallah Salih Al-Ajmi out of Gitmo and become a suicide bomber in Mosul is a greater moral error of justice than all these harsh interrogative tactics added together.  So if a person feels "sick" that KSM and his two associates got waterboarded dozens of times, shouldn't that same person feel even more "sick" at the mention of each and every successful suicide bombing?  If someone is full of seething outrage and righteous indignation about the Crusades, is he also full of passionate rage and righteous indignation about the two great Jihads (early Arab, later Turkish)?  If liberals academics are much more full of passion, anger, and wrath in denouncing Western Imperialism than the Turkish Jihad that provoked it, what kind of bias in being exposed?  (Remember that Bernard Lewis interpreted (or "explained," if that's the preferred nomenclature) that Western Imperialism was a direct response to Ottoman aggression in prior centuries).  If the level of passionate outrage directed against America's clear barbarism in dropping the two atomic bombs and killing 220,000 Japanese in 1945 greatly exceeds what's directed against Japan for killing 300,000 at the rape of Nanking in 1937-38, is that morally balanced?  If someone is far more upset about the Holocaust than about Stalin's Ukrainian terror famine, or vice versa, doesn't that expose a bias?  If liberals and leftists are far more upset with the crimes of Pinochet's regime in Chile than with the far greater crimes of Castro's regime in Cuba (i.e., terms of numbers of peopled killed, which is an objective yardstick), aren't they using a double standard because of their political biases?  If a liberal black vents far more outrage over the trans-Atlantic slave trade (managed by "Christians") than the East African/Indian Ocean slave trade (run by Muslims) despite both took roughly equivalent numbers of blacks into slavery, is that sound moral reasoning?   To believe that ultimately (once the veil of ignorance is lifted, re: Acts 17:30) the same moral yardstick should be be used in all places at all times to evaluate all human sin isn't racist, it's Christian.  To point out somebody's selective outrage and moral indignation isn't racist, it's Christian.


Furthermore, all this Western liberal excuse making for radical Islamic terrorism makes more terrorism occur.  Unless the barbarians are clearly condemned as acting like barbarians, they will continue to act like barbarians.  If Muslims are deemed to be moral inferiors of the West of whom little is expected of them morally, they will indeed live up to those low expectations.  Liberals are well acquainted with self-fulfilling prophecies in a classroom characterized by "soft" racism:  When a white teacher expects little of her black students but more of her white ones, both groups tend to live up to those different expectations in their levels of academic achievement.  The same dynamic is at work when liberals chronically excuse the sins of Muslims while holding the West to a much higher (double) standard.  Likewise, the liberal academics' relationship with Islam is much like the co-dependent wife's with an unreformed alcoholic husband.  She keeps cleaning up after him and making excuses for him, regardless of his bad behavior when he has free will and can learn from the superior example of other husbands.  Without firmly challenging her drunkard husband's bad behavior, she can only expect it to continue, and not improve.   So if Muslims are "victims" of a traditionally backward, undemocratic culture that oppresses women, keeps slaves, oppresses religious minorities, and is intolerant of the public expression of dissent, that should be condemned today with the same level of passion, anger, outrage, wrath, and righteous indignation used about these problems when they characterized the West 200 years ago.  Furthermore, condemning the West's bygone sins won't help anyone victimized by them back then; to condemn publicly and routinely the treatment of women, religious minorities, and slaves in Muslim countries today just might help those victims out since they are still alive to benefit should conservative Islam modernize theologically and legally (i.e., change the Sharia).  Unlike the West, which had to figure out on its own that these practices were immoral without a superior civilization to copy (which is much, much harder), the Muslim world today can't claim to be "ignorant" of the currently superior example of the West in these areas.  All they need do is copy the West, much like Japan did in the 19th century after Comodore Perry showed up, or Turkey did under Mutafa Kemal, which is much, much easier.  To point this out isn't racist, but Christian.  So then, ironically, could the soft bigotry of low expectations by liberal scholars about the Muslim world's human rights problems actually be racist at least in effect if not in intent?


Selective outrage based on double standards should be rejected because it has no respect for equality under the law, of the concept of the rule of law among all nations, which needs to have one standard applied to all nations universally.  Furthermore, the eighteenth-nineteenth-twentieth century West, had to learn on its own about feeling guilty about mistreating women, conquering other countries, holding slaves, racism, discriminating against religious minorities, etc.  By contrast, the Muslim/Arab world can much more easily learn from and copy a (superior) civilization that has found a way to fix its human rights problems.  It's hard, then, to say the Arab Muslim world is really "ignorant" in the way the eighteenth-nineteenth century West was, yet who gets condemned far more by the liberal-left academics?  Who was/is really "ignorant," and thus semi-excusable?   When people have low expectations of others, they tend to live up to those lower standards, much like black students living up to the low expectations of their white teachers by getting low grades ("self-fulfilling prophecies.")  It's much like a co-dependent wife enabling her alcoholic husband by constantly cleaning up after him and excusing him rather than confronting him about his problem:  This is the general Western left-liberal academic world's mistake with the Islamic world, concerning its historical past and ugly present.  Instead they should apply to Muslim nations in principle the same advice William Glasser gives in "Reality Therapy" for individuals:  Sure, you had a bad past, but what are you doing to do now to change your present behavior so you have a better future?  Their (condescendingly) low expectations about Arabs and/or Muslims ability to operate a democracy and to follow standard present (Western) human rights norms are self-fulfilling prophecies also, and thus discourage reforms in by the "alcoholic" while they spend so much emotional energy, passion, and work in denouncing the past sins of Israel, America, and/or the  Western world.  Nothing today can be done to have given the vote to women, to give equal opportunity to hiring Irish Catholics, or to have freed the slaves in the the America of 1845; Something can be done concerning allowing women to drive and testify against men in court in Saudi Arabia, give the dhimmi equal rights under the law, and to free the slaves in the Sudan.  So which problem should we direct our emotional energies towards condemning:  What can't be fixed since it's in the past, or about what can be changed, since it is in the present?


A comparative standard is needed when morally judging Western imperialism:  Either condemn other (local, native) varieties of imperialism just as strongly, passionately, and without any qualification or excuse-making, including that of the Muslims, Aztecs, Incas, Chinese, and Zulus.  Or relax, and admit, “Well, if we go back far enough in history, we’re all likely about equally guilty, so let’s stop judging either other.”  If a white American or Englishman is supposed to feel guilty about America’s or the West’s history, in fairness liberals academics should also ask their Muslim friends:  Do you feel guilty about all the evil things done in your nations’ or civilization’s past?  And if they say so privately, would they be willing to publicly condemn past Islamic imperialism (and associated sins) in their native language in their nation’s media with the same passion and lack of qualification liberal academics typically denounce the West’s?  Or, much like the typical (non-immigrant) Frenchman was proud of Napoleon’s conquests, would these Muslims say they are proud of Arab and Turkish imperialism?  Granted the centuries of Islamic invasions of the West before c. 1700, millions of slaves taken by the East African slave traders and Barbary pirates, the oppressive rule of religious minorities on a par with blacks’ conditions under Jim Crow, and the Arabs’ ethnic contempt for those of other nations even when they became Muslims, Muslims are in a very poor position to cast the first stone against West’s treatment of them over past roughly 275 years.  Fundamentally, we should react the same way the men with stones did when Christ challenged them to cast the first stone at the woman caught in adultery (John 8:9):  “When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest.” Even when the target of ire is indeed guilty, those making the condemnations are likely equally or more guilty when their nation’s or civilization’s past is examined when using the same value judgments.  If everyone's equally guilty, once we go far back enough in history, it’s time to just relax and stop condemning.







Although a thorough-going critique of the Quran (Koran) is beyond the scope of this essay, some brief points still need to be made in the light of Islam's fast-growing popularity in the American black community today.  Although a standard Muslim claim says the Quran has no textual variations, this is in fact incorrect.  No one original manuscript of the Quran ever existed, since Muhammad (c. 570-632 A.D.) didn't write any of it.  Instead various followers wrote scattered revelations on whatever material came to hand, including pieces of papyrus, tree bark, palm leaves and mats, stones, the ribs and shoulder blades of animals, etc.  Otherwise, they memorized them.  These disparate materials were susceptible to loss:  Ali Dashti, an Islamic statesman, said animals sometimes ate mats or the palm leaves on which Suras (chapters of the Quran) were written!  After his death, Muhammad's revelations were gathered together to eliminate the chaos.  (Even Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church did better than this:  The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today possesses the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon).  To solve the problems of conflicting memories and possibly lost or varying written materials, Caliph Uthman (ruled 644-56) had the text of the Quran forcibly standardized.  He commanded manuscripts with alternative readings to be burned.  But he didn't fully succeed, since variations are still known to have existed and some still do.  The Sura Al-Saff had 200 verses in the days of Muhammad's later wife Ayesha, but Uthman's version had only 52.  Morey says Shiite Muslims claim Uthman cut out a quarter of the Quran's verses for political reasons.  In his manuscript of the Quran, Ubai had a few Suras that Uthman omitted from the standardized version.  Arthur Jeffrey, in his Materials for the History of the Text of the Quran, gives 90 pages of variant readings for the Quran's text, finding 140 alone for Sura 2.  When the Western scholar Bertrasser sought to photograph a rare Kufic manuscript of the Quran which had "certain curious features" in Cairo, the Egyptian Library suddenly withdrew it, and denied him access to it. 




Even when originally first written, certain problems existed, since Muhammad would make mistakes or corrections to revelations he had made.  Before documenting examples of verses removed from the Quran, Arabic scholar E. Wherry explained first:  "There being some passages in the Quran which are contradictory, the Muhammadan doctors obviate any objection from thence by the doctrine of abrogation; for they say GOD in the Quran commanded several things which were for good reasons afterwards revoked and abrogated."  One follower of Muhammad, Abdollah Sarh, often made suggestions about subtracting, adding, or rephrasing Suras to him that he accepted.  Later, Abdollah renounced Islam because if these revelations had come from God, they shouldn't have been changed at his suggestion.  (Later, after taking Mecca, Muhammad made sure Abdollah was one of the first people he had executed).  Muhammad had the curious policy of renouncing verses of the Quran that he spoke in error.  In the Satanic verses incident he briefly capitulated to polytheism by allowing Allah's followers to worship the goddesses Al-Lat, Al-Uzzah, and Manat (see Sura 53:19; cf. 23:51) (Note that the title of Salman Rushdie's novel, The Satanic Verses, alludes to this incident.  For writing this book he was sentenced to death by Iranian dictator Ayatollah Khomeini).  Could anyone imagine Elijah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, or Jeremiah doing something similar?  Did Muhammad's God make mistakes that required corrections? 




Another problem of the Quran is that its teachings and stories in many cases contradict the Bible.  Theologically, for Islam, this poses a major problem, because the Quran itself says the Bible is composed of earlier revelations from the same God.  Hence, if the Bible's different version of some event or person's life is correct but contradicts the Quran's, then the Quran's own appeal to the Bible's authority is proven false.  Hence, Muslims can't just throw away the Bible completely, but have to claim this or that part of it was corrupted, while the Quran has the right version.  But now logically, granted the standard principles of the bibliographical test described above, since the Bible was finished about 500 years before the Quran, it is the more reliable document.  In many cases, eyewitnesses wrote the Bible, or second-hand reporters using eyewitness accounts.  Muslims may routinely claim the Bible has been corrupted, but the textual evidence shows otherwise:  The variations in the Old and New Testaments are actually smaller than the textual problems the Quran ultimately faces, which Uthman's actions to standardize it merely paper over.  Furthermore, what textual variations the Bible does have don't bend towards Islamic theology in any kind of systematic manner.  For example, the Quran denies the crucifixion of Christ.  There are no New Testament variations that deny the crucifixion.  Furthermore, by secular logic alone, who is more reliable about this?  An eyewitness such as John, or Mark as informed by Peter?  Or someone writing 500+ years later who never even saw Jesus alive?  Since Muhammad did maintain his revelations built upon the Bible, seeing it as coming from the same God, the two shouldn't conflict‑‑but of course, they do. 





Consider some sample contradictions and historical inaccuracies of the Quran as compared to the Bible.  The Quran says the world was made in eight days (2+4+2‑‑Sura 41:9, 10, 12), while the Bible says six in Genesis 1.  Then, still more problematically, the Quran elsewhere says it was made in six days (Sura 7:52, 10:3).  The Quran says one of Noah's sons chose to die in the flood, and that the Ark landed on Mount Judi, not Ararat (Sura 11:44-46).  "Azar" becomes the name of Abraham's father, not Terah (Sura 6:4).  The Quran also blunders by asserting Alexander the Great (Zul-quarain) was a true prophet of God (see Sura 18:82-98).  Secular history proves this to be patently absurd.  Alexander was a thorough-going pagan who never knew Jehovah, the God of Israel.




The Quran often gets its chronology skewered, putting together as living at the same time who may have lived centuries apart according to the Bible.  This occurred because Muhammad evidently got many of the stories second and third hand orally, ultimately often from apocryphal sources such as the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Barnabas, not from the Bible itself.  For example, the Quran portrays Haman, the prime minister for King Ahasuerus (Xerxes I, ruled 486-474 b.c.) of the Persian Empire as Pharaoh's chief minister when Moses challenged the king of Egypt (c. 1445 b.c.) (see Sura 28:38; 29:38; 40:25-27, 38-39).  Another leading error of the Quran occurs by mixing up Mary, the mother of Jesus, with Miriam, the sister of Aaron and Moses, who had lived some 1400 years earlier.  Note Sura 19:29-30:  "Then came she with the babe to her people, bearing him.  They said, "O Mary!  now hast thou done a strange thing!  O sister of Aaron!  Thy father was not a man of wickedness, nor unchaste thy mother."  In a footnote to his translation of the Quran, Dawood tries to rescue Muhammad by saying it was an idiomatic expression in Arabic meaning "virtuous woman."  But elsewhere the Quran refutes this interpretation, because Muhammad asserts the father of Mary was Imran, Moses' father!.  Note Sura 66:12:  "And Mary, the daughter of Imran, who kept her maidenhood, and into whose womb We breathed of Our Spirit . . ."  The father of Moses and Miriam, according to the Bible, was Amram (Ex. 6:20; Num. 26:59).  The Virgin Mary's father was Eli or Heli (Luke 3:23‑‑see above for details).  Muhammad confuses King Saul with the earlier judge Gideon.  At God's inspiration, Gideon reduced Israel's army in size by eliminating those who drank from the water in one way rather than another (compare Judges 7:4-7 with Sura 2:250).  Another mistake, although it may be obscured in translation, concerns "The Samaritan" deceiving the children of Israel into worshiping the Golden Calf at the base of Mt. Sinai (mid-fifteenth century b.c.).  Later settling in the Holy Land centuries later, the Samaritans didn't exist until after the Assyrians had taken Israel into captivity (late eighth century b.c. and afterwards‑‑see II Kings 17:22-41).  Rodwell translates "Samiri" here, but according to Morey, this obscures the real meaning in Arabic (see Sura 20:87, 90, 96).




Further problems with the Quran could be explained, but this suffices for our purposes here.  Although few Muslims know this, the religion of Muhammad's ancestors and his tribe the Quraysh involved the worship of Allah, the name of the moon god, in pre-Islamic times in Arabia.  Anciently an idol was set up for Allah near the Kabah, where today Muslims travel in pilgrimages to Mecca, Saudi Arabia to walk around.  In myth, Allah married the sun-goddess, and they together had three goddesses named Al-Lat, Al-Uzzah, and Manat.  It's hard to over-emphasize the significance of the truth that "Allah" was the name of the moon god in Arabia before the time of Muhammad.  It's no coincidence that during the "Satanic Verses" incident when Muhammad weakened against idolatry briefly, he had allowed the same three goddesses to be worshiped.  Even today, the standard symbol Islam uses to represent itself is (along with a single star) the crescent moon!  (It's not sensibly seen as just a symbol for Ramadan, the month of fasting during the daytime).  Evidently, Muhammad took a pre-existing pagan moon god of Arabia, and then applied to this false god various stories ultimately from the Bible and apocryphal literature about the True God.  As Morey summarizes:  "The cult of the moon god which worshipped Allah was transformed by Muhammad into a monotheistic faith."  Compared to the Almighty God of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, the God of the Quran is a limited god who "inspired" the writing of historically inaccurate, contradictory revelations. The information above on the Quran is mostly based upon Robert Morey, Islam Unveiled:  The True Desert Storm (Shermans Dale, PA:  The Scholars Press, 1991), pp. 48-51, 61, 75-76, 116-21, 131-41.  The verse numbers as cited above are those of J.M. Rodwell's 1861 translation of the Quran into English, with some reference to Dawood's revised 1974 translation.  Morey's book is decidedly imperfect:  He is careless sometimes, proofread it poorly, and apparently doesn't know Islamic/Middle Eastern history in-depth.  Using a ridiculously out of context citation of the Quran, he falsely accuses Islam of being intrinsically racist (p. 150).  Nevertheless, enough remains in his work to destroy any rational faith in Islam, which another publisher reissued as The Islamic Invasion.  Background on the Satanic Verses incident also comes from W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad:  Prophet and Statesman (London:  Oxford University Press, 1961), pp. 60-65.


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