What follows is a tragic tale of hubris brought low, of pride diminished, and of ego (hopefully) deflated.
What do you know of Islam? Have you ever read the Qur’an? Do you know how the sura, the chapters, are laid out and organized within the book? If you do, kudos. If you don’t, you’re not alone. Even a self-proclaimed expert on Islam has recently been found to have no idea what is in the Qur’an, or even simply how it is laid out, chapter by chapter. More on that later.
Of my own accord, I have only been a part-time student of Islamic ideology and the concept of global jihad since the summer of 2006, about the time the Israeli/Lebanon war began. Among other bastions of information, including Chronicles magazine contributor, Serge Trifkovic, I have found Robert Spencer’s Jihadwatch.org an excellent resource on Islamic jihadism and the resulting destruction of the west and western values as a result of muslim extremism. Mr. Spencer, in my view, is one of the leading experts in this area who possesses one of the few voices of reason in a wilderness of Islamic apologists, capitulators, dissemblers, and seditionists who work to deflect any concept of Islamic imperfection and attack by those who simply wish to solicit much needed discussion on the topic of Islam and the Qur’an and the place of both in modern, civilized societies.
Spencer rightly points to that holy muslim book, the Qur’an, as the basis for the perceived justification of violent jihad that we see in the world today, as it was the basis for the comparable violent jihad of centuries past. In the eyes of muslims the world over, the Qur’anic prophet Muhammad is the embodiment of the perfect man–the man all the faithful should endeavor to emulate (despite his modern moral failings.)
Reading the Qur’an reveals pretty much everything one needs to know concerning muslim (particularly the extremists) traditions and actions and the subsequent violence preached there in, assuming you can understand it (the hadith, or traditions of the prophet Muhammad, is another source.) Muslim belief is predicated on the conceit that Islam is the one true religion and all other religions are not only false, but in need of eradication entirely through voluntary or forced conversion to Islam, relegation to demeaning Dhimmi status, or killed. Regardless, everyone will exist under the oppressive theocratic umbrella of the Sharia–Islamic law.
So that’s the most basic of what I have learned, which is meticulously, sensibly and, logically backed up by qualified voices like Robert Spencer and Serge Trifkovic.
Adversely, there are many vocal charlatans who claim Islamic scholarship–who even excel in deceiving adherents into blindly accepting whatever they happen to spew forth at any given time simply because they’re proficient in beguilement (and honestly, most are receptive mainly due to their lemming-like need to follow someone or something.) Such is the likes of best-selling author, Dinesh D’Souza.
D’Souza’s latest book, The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11 is an exercise in inconsistency, and claims pretty much as the title reads–Hillary Clinton, Noam Chomsky, Justin Timberlake, and basically everyone liberal and everything decadently Hollywood, bears responsibility for the rise in modern jihad and the pushing of moderate muslims into the arms of extremists. Needless to say, many on the left and the right of the political debate find D’Souza’s claims and conclusions presented in his new book anything if not laughable.
Many have been extremely vocal in their disagreement with D’Souza and the concepts presented in The Enemy At Home, (with an exceptionally hilarious appearance on The Colbert Report where the obtuse D’Souza sat firmly in the butt-of-the-joke chair, unbeknownst to him) including Robert Spencer and Serge Trifkovic. After Spencer rightly denounced the book here, D’Souza’s response was rather defensive with a marginal amount of childish pedantry and a good deal of red herring thrown in for good measure. In fact, it seems that anytime D’Souza argues for a position, he often becomes entangled within a web of logical fallacies of his own making–straw men and ad hominem being two of his favorite squabbling tactics.
Never one to shy from debate, Spencer (who regularly encourages those who disagree with his assessment of Islam engage with him in polemic discussion on the subject) agreed to sit on a panel during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week with D’Souza as his opponent.
D’Souza excels at obfuscation and diversion (again, he employs many logical fallacies including those mentioned above.) He repeatedly ignores cognizant and commonsense statements made by Spencer while he recklessly sallies forth in defense of his stance to the point where he completely digresses from claims made in his book if only to appear the conquering hero to the collected audience, and be damned The Enemy at Home.
Regardless of that outcome, D’Souza felt the continued need to beat his chest and express his supposed superior position by treading the same ground that had been covered in the CPAC debate the day previous, despite the fact that Spencer adequately addressed every issue raised by D’Souza.
Yesterday I debated Robert Spencer at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in Washington D.C. The debate was aired live on C-Span. Our topic was essentially, Is Islam the Problem? My book The Enemy at Home says no, locating the problem in the way that liberal foreign policy and liberal values projected abroad have strengthened radical Islam and emboldened it to attack us. Spencer’s books collectively answer yes, the problem is with Islam itself.
But Islam has been around for 1300 years and the problem of Islamic terrorism is a recent one. How can Islam be to blame? For me the intelligent question is: what is it about Islam today that has made it an incubator of a certain kind of fanaticism and terrorism?
What more can Robert Spencer do but respond once more to points that D’Souza either ignored originally, or misunderstood completely?
Dinesh D’Souza has blogged here, in “Letting Bin Laden Define Islam,” about our debate yesterday. I am still at CPAC and don’t have much time to give a full answer, but since he repeats some familiar canards about me and my books, which I still think he shows no signs of having read despite his claims to the contrary, I thought I’d post some preliminary thoughts. For one thing, it is worth noting that he made exactly these points in the debate yesterday, and I answered them, but he takes no account here of the answers. Instead, he just continues to make the charges, as if I have said nothing in response at all. Personally, I don’t think this kind of thing is a very fruitful avenue for dialogue.
This is getting almost as good as ringside seats at the battle of Badr. To me, and I would hope to any who have read to this point, Spencer has done nothing but logically and reasonably state his position without resorting to character attacks, fallacious analysis, or hasty generalizations as D’Souza frequently seems to do.
A recurrent theme that runs throughout the interactions between Robert Spencer and Dinesh D’Souza, whether in person for face to face debate, or over the internet through written discourse, is the continued question of not all encompassing expertise on the subject of Islam and Islamic ideology, but of something as simple as common courtesy–reading and understanding the works of your opponent. When one claims expertise on a subject, one is expected to have studied a considerable amount of material that not only supports an idea or concept, but one is also expected to have studied the antithesis of that subject in order to formulate strategies of refutation when confronted by the opposition. For example, and to bring myself into this, while I find I stand to the right of the political aisle on many issues, I prefer to get both sides of the story, so to speak. To do so, I personally subscribe to both the liberal publication The Nation and the conservative periodical National Review. I believe it is important for anyone who takes a firm stand on any given issue to do this in order to form a more fully realized concept of a particular subject.
While Mr. Spencer obviously adheres to this approach evidenced by his review of Mr. D’Souza’s book, the same, I believe, cannot be claimed by Dinesh. Over and over, Robert Spencer asks D’Souza if he’s even read any of his books. Dinesh usually waves Spencer away with a casual affirmative–of course he’s read Spencer’s books, or so he claims. As one who has read several of Robert Spencer’s books, as well as articles from magazines with daily visits to Jihadwatch and Dhimmiwatch, it has become evident to me that D’Souza has not read any books penned by Spencer due to the simple fact that D’Souza seems blithely ignorant of basic Islamic thought, which is the cornerstone of Spencer’s writing.
Unfortunately, this had not been proven… UNTIL NOW! (Apologies for the drama.) Enter Serge Trifkovic, author of such notable books as Sword of the Prophet and Defeating Jihad, regular contributing writer to Chronicles magazine, and defiler of connivers and hypocrites. During his debate with D’Souza, something quite interesting, but not surprising was discovered–Dinesh D’Souza, self-proclaimed expert of Islam, knows not even the most general concepts of Islamic ideology, theology, and the Qur’an.
Here is an excerpt from that debate…
TRIFKOVIC: This is really rich. First of all, to claim that the Kuran is a pacifist tract…
D’SOUZA: I didn’t say it’s a pacifist tract.
TRIFKOVIC: Well, you do say that people like Spencer and I pick and choose. Have you actually read the Kuran? Have you ever actually read the Kuran?
D’SOUZA: Of course I have.
TRIFKOVIC: Do you know how are the Suras arranged?
D’SOUZA: They are… er… they are not arranged in any chronological order… er… [pause] and… er… [pause] and so I quote in my book both the violent and…
TRIFKOVIC: Just tell me how ARE they arranged.
D’SOUZA: The other point…
TRIFKOVIC: Can you just tell me how are the Suras arranged?
D’SOUZA: … right. You can’t just call…
TRIFKOVIC: Why don’t you just tell me how are the Suras arranged?
HENNEN: OK, one at a time here; your question for Dinesh, Serge, is?
TRIFKOVIC: In what order are the Suras arranged in the Kuran?
D’SOUZA: [long silence] I really don’t know what you mean by that. When you say “in what order” then… err… [pause] there…
TRIFKOVIC: … an interlocutor who tries to pass authoritative judgments on the subject is refusing to tell me how are the Suras and the verses of the Kuran arranged. They happen to be arranged by SIZE, from short to long!
The interview goes on for another 10 minutes or so. Meanwhile, Serge tells me: “To avoid misunderstanding, let me point out that my ‘explanation’ to D’Souza about the arrangement of the Suras in the Kuran (‘They happen to be arranged by SIZE, from short to long!’) was not a slip, it was the final proof-positive of his fraud, as HE DID NOT CORRECT ME but went on babbling…”
Yes, at this point it is quite safe to say Dinesh D’Souza is a fraud. How can we believe his claim to have read the work of Robert Spencer if he hasn’t even read the one book he should have read in order to write his best-selling book. Even in my own limited time engaged in the study of Islam, I know the suras are arranged from longest to shortest, and I learned this very early on. Assuming one knows even a quarter as much as myself, this is not something one needs to think long about, nor was Trifkovic’s question an attempt at trickery–it was as straight forward as one could make it.
So it is no longer necessary to buy or read The War at Home, even though I would usually encourage everyone to investigate opposing viewpoints to their beliefs. Justifiably, D’Souza has been proven nothing more than the conservative author’s version of James Frey.
A final word by Hugh Fitzgerald from Jihadwatch…
Anyone debating Dinesh D’Souza should be sure to do exactly as Serge Trifkovic did. Simply ask D’Souza a question or two about the most obvious and elementary of matters.
If nothing else, it will force him, after his “four years of studying Islam” to little effect, to actually have to start studying it — if only so as not to play the fool in public. Why, who knows? It may force him to learn something.
I can think of a dozen things right off the bat that Spencer or Trifkovic or others could ask D’Souza — very elementary things, but things I am sure he will not be able to answer.
He now has three choices:
2) Be forced to study Islam, and in so doing, he may have to modify some of his views.
3) Never appear where anyone can debate or even cross-question him about his knowledge of Islam.
I think Dinesh D’Souza will choose #3.
#1 is something he obscurely realizes he is, but like the mountebank hawking his wares at the County Fair, he has assumed that no one will call him on his hollow claims. But he can no longer assume that.
#2 requires work. It requires study. It requires thought. It requires making sense of many different things, of connecting the thigh-bone to the ankle-bone, in order the Hear the Word of the (Islamic) Lord. D’Souza long ago lost the habit of study, like so many of the pontificators of our day.
#3 it will be.
No more debates, for Dinesh D’Souza, with anyone at all. But what if — for him, a hellish What If — some of those interviewing him started to bone up on Islam, and asked him questions? What if on Talk Shows there were callers who would call up pretending that they were about to ask one thing, and then suddenly asked D’Souza one or more of those questions, the ones he cannot answer, to what should be his own great shame and chagrin? Then where would he be?
And the same can be done at those appearances he solicits for “Corporate Audiences” and “University Audiences.” It is perfectly legitimate, it is hardly harassment, to simply ask him a few questions to see if this self-minted and self-described “expert on Islam” who has “studied it for four years” in fact knows anything.
Why, let’s begin with the isnad-chain, and the work, and relative authority, of the muhaddithin. Or with “naskh.” Or “fiqh” or “tafsir.” Or for that matter, “Jihad” (give support for various definitions), or “dhimmi” or “Ahl al-dhimma.”
And say, just what did happen at the Khaybar Oasis? And who was Asma bint Marwan? And who was little Aisha, and of what contemporary relevance is her story? And who can issue a fatwa, and what is the difference between a fatwa and a rukh? And what is the Treaty of Al-Hudaibiyya, and why does it matter? And who was Abu Bakr? Ali? Hussein? And what does the phrase “al-masjid al-aksa” mean, and who decided what that phrase must refer to?
As I said, let’s keep it very simple — at first. By degrees, the questions can become more difficult.
Don’t worry. I have faith that no matter how hard Dinesh D’Souza starts studying now, he simply won’t be able to figure it all out. Not given the list of his authorities. Not given his mental incapacity.
There is more on the entrepreneur and world-conqueror Dinesh D’Souza, from the best source of information about Dinesh D’Souza: the Dinesh D’Souza website, where the copy is written by — Dinesh D’Souza.
Would you like Dinesh D’Souza to speak to your business convention, or perhaps to enlighten an annual meeting of the stockholders in Phoenix or Boca Raton? Well, you have come to the right place when you go to http://www.dineshdsouza.com, because according to Dinesh D’Souza at http://www.dineshdsouza.com:
“Dinesh D’Souza is one of the nation’s most popular and acclaimed speakers for business and university audiences, and has been a featured guest on many popular television programs, including the Today Show, Nightline, O’Reilly Factor, Good Morning America, and The Dennis Miller Show.He speaks at top universities and business groups across the country, and among his recent engagements are the annual World President’s Organization conference, Forbes CEO Summit, Harvard University, and the University of Virginia.
Mr. D’Souza is available to speak on a variety of subjects relating to contemporary business, politics and culture, including:
THE CULTURAL LEFT AND ITS ROLE IN 9/11
THE LIBERAL-ISLAMIC ALLIANCE
THE WAR AGAINST THE WAR ON TERROR
AMERICA AND ITS ENEMIES
ISLAM AND THE WEST: A CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS?
WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT AMERICA
WHY AMERICA IS LOVED, WHY AMERICA IS HATED
THE MORAL DEBATE OVER TECHNOLOGY AND CAPITALISM
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION? NO. REPARATIONS? NO.”
Hurry and call now to book Dinesh D’Souza for your next corporate or university event.
Don’t delay. Operators are standing by.
No, sorry, let me correct that:
An Operator Is Standing By.
That operator’s name is on the cover of the latest issue of the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine. The issue appears to have been written by the Development Office, hoping to win favor from some rich Muslim alumni — for it is otherwise difficult to explain the special solicitude for the clear tone of apologetics.
The two articles listed on the cover (which has a nice crescent and star) under the main line “Understanding the Muslim World” are:
1) What’s New in Islamic and Arabic Studies, by Andrea Useem ’95.
In this article you can learn all about what students are learning about — and it isn’t the unadorned contents of Qur’an, hadith, and Sira. The words “dhimmi” and “Jizyah” are unlikely to be much in evidence in the Dartmouth classes on offer, but the innocent and impressionable students won’t discover that in most other colleges either — and will just have to pick up a real knowledge of “Islamic and Arabic studies” outside the confines of MESA Nostra (google “MESA Nostra” for more).
2) “Radical Islam: Why We’ve Got it All Wrong,” by Dinesh D’Souza.
In this article you can learn why “we’ve got it all wrong” — all of us: Snouck Hurgronje and Arthur Jeffery, St. Clair Tisdall and Joseph Schacht, David Margoliouth and Edmond Fagnan, Charles-Emmanuel Dufourcq and Hans Jansen, everyone who was a student of Islam in the Western world, in the golden, unafraid age, from about 1860 to 1960, when truths were told. Islam didn’t change. The texts and teachings of Islam didn’t change. What changed was the willingness of Western scholars to tell the truth about Islam. Now there is a climate of correctness and desire to blame the West. This attitude grew and grew until it now suffocates even baby truths in their cribs, as they attempt to let out their first squeals.
And “we’ve got it all wrong” if “we” are Ali Sina, and Ibn Warraq, and Irfan Khawaja, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Anwar Shaikh, and Azam Kamguian — “we” who have been born into Islam, pondered it deeply, considered carefully what it is about it that led us, each on his own, to come to conclusions that forced us to jettison Islam. “We’ve” got it as wrong as C. Snouck Hurgronje and Joseph Schacht.
But one person, above all other persons, has it right.
And his name is Dinesh D’Souza.
And he is right about Islam, as about so many things, when all the world has heretofore gotten it wrong.
Dinesh D’Souza, it should not be forgotten, is available for corporate and university speaking engagements.
For more information, simply click on http://www.dineshdsouza.com and then on “Events” or “Corporate Speaking” or “University Speaking.”
Then you may contact Dinesh D’Souza directly to find out more details — especially about the fees.
Don’t worry. Those fees are really, under the circumstances — what with Dinesh D’Souza getting it at long last right when all of the rest of us have “got it all wrong” — those fees are really very modest.
Don’t delay. Call today.
That Operator Is Still Standing By.