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Archive for the ‘Robert Spencer’ Category

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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.

PART 1

PART 2

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.

From D’Souza…

Letting Bin Laden Define Islam

Posted Mar 2nd 2007 1:35AM by Dinesh D’Souza
Filed under: Middle East, Politics, Religion

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?

MORE…

What more can Robert Spencer do but respond once more to points that D’Souza either ignored originally, or misunderstood completely?

From Spencer…

D’Souza: Spencer “essentially agrees with Bin Laden”

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.

MORE…

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!

Spencer adds…

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…”

MORE…

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…

Fitzgerald: That Operator Is Standing By

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:

1) Be shown up for an ignoramus, prating about things he knows very little, almost nothing, about.

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.

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Since I discovered Jihadwatch.org (and sister-site Dhimmiwatch) several months back, I have found it the most reliable collated source presenting Islamist current events and coextensive opinion on the subject of Islam and jihadist machinations, albeit one-sided. Of course I wouldn’t want it any other way from writer and Islamic scholar, Robert Spencer–a man more than proficient in Islamic law and theology, and the violent and imperialistic proclivities of Muhammad’s religion of peace intolerance.

This may explain why I link to Jihadwatch more and more frequently. Too many other news outlets dull information on Islam today, particularly here in the west, with an overabundance of politically correct, honey-coated proselytizing and apologizing for a faith based around a basic concept of convert or die. I don’t need politically correct platitudes on this subject. Honest truth is more important to me, even if that means alienating a few friends and acquaintances along the way due to unpopular ideas–it’s not necessarily good holiday conversation.

Anyway, here’s an opinion by Mr. Spencer concerning a Washington Post article about the swearing in of Representative Keith Ellison. Or rather, the swearing in of Representative Keith Ellison with the Qur’an rather than the traditional use of The Bible. Further, Ellison will be swearing in on Thomas Jefferson’s personal copy of the Qur’an.

There’s nothing constitutionally that claims one cannot be sworn into office with anything other than The Bible, nor do I believe should there be. To me this is sort of a non-issue that rings only slightly alarmist by traditionalists and southern-conservatives. Despite the fact that the United States is a country that tends to stand by tradition, there have been several public office holders throughout the history of this country who have taken the oath of office on The Bible in spite of their beliefs as non-Christians. Counter to that, several non-Christians and Christians alike have opted to swear on nothing at all for their oath of office.

Still, Spencer makes a succinct and reasoned (as always) point on the tradition of using The Bible versus the tradition (or lack of tradition) of the Qur’an. And as usual, Spencer encourages much needed open discussion on what Islam teaches and how it fits into our society minus the ad hominem cries of “racist” or “bigot” that CAIR and its ilk often ignorantly belch forth.

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But It’s Thomas Jefferson’s Koran! (Jihadwatch.org)

In the Washington Post (thanks to Davida), Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts report breathlessly that Keith Ellison will be using Thomas Jefferson’s own copy of the Qur’an for his swearing-in photo op.

This is allegedly a political masterstroke by Ellison, but it really just begs the question. Thomas Jefferson, obviously, was not a Muslim. In his famous statement on religious freedom he wrote about whether one’s neighbor believed in one god or twelve “neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” But what no one is willing to discuss here is whether the Qur’an and Islam really fit into that framework. When I have mentioned that it sanctions lying to unbelievers (3:28 and 16:106, in the mainstream understanding of those verses by Islamic theologians and schools of jurisprudence; cf. Ibn Kathir and many others), people have responded that the Bible is full of nasty stuff as well. But people aren’t swearing on the Bible because it is full of nasty stuff, or endorsing any of it that might actually be there. The idea of swearing on the Bible arises from Christian belief and is buttressed by Christian theology — Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant — that requires honesty and eschews all dishonesty as coming from the “Father of Lies.” The permissions to be dishonest in the Qur’an are not mitigated by Islamic belief, tradition, and theology, but are in fact reinforced — by Muhammad’s statements that “war is deceit” and that lying is permissible in wartime, and more.

In short, to swear on the Bible is to affirm, among other things, that one is part of a tradition, and to swear on the Qur’an does not amount to an affirmation of the same tradition, no matter how much Glenn Beck or Ed Koch or anyone wishes it does or assumes it does. Islamic teachers daily use the Qur’an to establish principles that differ radically from those of Judeo-Christian tradition. These questions need to be discussed in a forthright and honest manner by Ellison and by the mainstream media, instead of being swept under the rug or condemned as bigotry.

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But It’s Thomas Jefferson’s Koran! (WashingtonPost.com)

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Wednesday, January 3, 2007; C03

Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, found himself under attack last month when he announced he’d take his oath of office on the Koran — especially from Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode, who called it a threat to American values.

Yet the holy book at tomorrow’s ceremony has an unassailably all-American provenance. We’ve learned that the new congressman — in a savvy bit of political symbolism — will hold the personal copy once owned by Thomas Jefferson.

“He wanted to use a Koran that was special,” said Mark Dimunation, chief of the rare book and special collections division at the Library of Congress, who was contacted by the Minnesota Dem early in December. Dimunation, who grew up in Ellison’s 5th District, was happy to help.

Jefferson’s copy is an English translation by George Sale published in the 1750s; it survived the 1851 fire that destroyed most of Jefferson’s collection and has his customary initialing on the pages. This isn’t the first historic book used for swearing-in ceremonies — the Library has allowed VIPs to use rare Bibles for inaugurations and other special occasions.

Ellison will take the official oath of office along with the other incoming members in the House chamber, then use the Koran in his individual, ceremonial oath with new Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “Keith is paying respect not only to the founding fathers’ belief in religious freedom but the Constitution itself,” said Ellison spokesman Rick Jauert.

One person unlikely to be swayed by the book’s illustrious history is Goode, who released a letter two weeks ago objecting to Ellison’s use of the Koran. “I believe that the overwhelming majority of voters in my district would prefer the use of the Bible,” the Virginia Republican told Fox News, and then went on to warn about what he regards as the dangers of Muslims immigrating to the United States and Muslims gaining elective office.

Yeah, but what about a Koran that belonged to one of the greatest Virginians in history? Goode, who represents Jefferson’s birthplace of Albemarle County, had no comment yesterday.

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The real star of this particular entry is not the USNews and World Report “Culture Clash in Denmark” story, but rather the preceding post by Hugh Fitzgerald, one of the writers who assists in maintaining the Dhimmi Watch blog site (the other writer being controversial Islam scholar, Robert Spencer.)

It is interesting to see how many “officials” in the upper echelons of our government (or most people in America) continue to view the United States as a perspicacious entity detached from the rest of the world–“officials” filled with so much hubris (or stupidity) that we need not overly concern ourselves with something so exotic and incongruous because we tend to view it from our own fixed macrocosm as something manageable (Iraq anyone?) Silvestre Reyes proved that one need not even possess any semblance of intelligence, let alone the needed expertise, on subjects that lie directly in the road of one’s own perceived specialty. Of course, public perception of expertise is often more important than verified proficiency. Why? Because most people either don’t want to know, or they only want to know the viewpoint that coincides with their blindly accepted political belief system.

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Fitzgerald: What they learn — and don’t learn

“There’s kind of an unspoken assumption that they’re not really Dutch, not really Danes, and so forth,” reasons one senior U.S. official who follows the phenomenon. “Europeans are uncomfortable with Islam, and they see it as an alien body in their midst. … Europe’s got a huge problem, and they’re just getting their minds around it now.” — from this article

The tone of this “senior U.S. offical who follows the phenomenon” is troubling. He appears to think the problem is that of the Europeans, who are “uncomfortable with Islam” — as opposed, perhaps, to Americans, who have such a much more extensive experience with Islam than do the people of Europe? When he says of the Europeans that “they see it as an alien body in their midst,” does he think that is wrong? Does he think it is the fault of those bad old Europeans, or does he think they made a terrible, a colossal, a life-threatening error in their heedlessness about Islam, when they let Muslims in in such numbers?

And does he think that there is a lesson here for the United States? And does he think that perhaps the doctrines of Islam itself might be worth looking into? After all, they uncompromisingly divide the world between Believer and Infidel, and between Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb, and preach the doctrine of endless war — not necessarily by open combat, for the money weapon also comes into play, as well as “pen, speech” and Da’wa, and now demographic conquest (discussed endlessly at Muslim sites and in the Muslim media, for everyone is keenly aware of this instrument of conquest in the Camp of Islam, even as they are amazingly unaware of it in the Camp of the Infidels). They view Europe as a land to be taken over, won for Islam, not a place where Muslims are to embrace, in the slightest, the doctrines or beliefs or legal and political and social institutions of permanently inferior Infidels. Does this “senior U.S. official” understand that?

The distant, almost unsympathetic tone, suggests that he does not. And if that is true, he needs a short but intense course in Islam and in the history of Islamic conquest — and not from John Esposito, and not from Karen Armstrong, and not from anyone certified as a “Muslim Sensitivity Trainer” by CAIR.

But the course he would most likely take, or has already taken, would probably be like the one now being given in a Virginia public school. That one is taught by one more useful idiot with the usual nonsense about “finding out about Islam” — and then limiting that finding out to the most obvious and the most innocuous: the rituals of worship that tell non-Muslims nothing about the effect on Muslims of the texts of Islam. Students will get the Shehada (and possibly be asked to recite it), the five daily prayers, the zakat or charity (but only toward fellow Muslims), Ramadan and other dietary rituals. What fun not to eat this, not to eat that! What fun, and how completely worthless as a guide to what Islam is all about, unless the students are told that in Islam everything is regulated, not merely food: including hairdos, wiping yourself, and of course how to speak to Infidels. They’ll also learn about the hajj, with pictures of a million pilgrims as they walk widdershins round the Magic Wonderstone, but no discussion of the Stoning of the Devil and what that is all about.

There will be no real study of the Qur’an, no look at 9.5 or 9.29 or 5.82 or a hundred other key verses. No discussion of why the date of Sura 9 matters (it was either the last or the second to last to be composed). No discussion of “naskh” or abrogation. No discussion of the hadith — why, I’ll bet the poor students in Virginia never find out what the Hadith are, much less will be given a website or two where, to their increasing horror, they can read a few hundred of the most important. Nor will they learn the real details of Muhammad’s life, or his significance as the Main Actor in Islam, far more real to Muslims than distant and whimsical Allah, and a guide, a Perfect Man, uswa hasana, al-insan al-kamil. None of that.

It will be a guide to nothing and nowhere. Possibly the students will come out radiant that they have “learned all about Islam.” Possibly some self-satisfied parents or some ACLU group or some school committee panjandrums will offer self-congratulations all around for this exercise in “dispelling myths” and “ending stereotypes.”

And a good time, an idiotically good time, will be had by all.

And nothing will have been learned. Nothing.

It will be a worthless course by an ill-informed naif. It should be condemned by everyone. Instead, it is very likely just the kind of thing this “senior U.S. official” has attended.

Photograph by Joachim Ladefoged VII for USN&WR

Friday prayer at the mosque run by Imam Ahmed Abu Laban, who helped spur anti-Denmark protests

Culture Clash in Denmark

The close-knit Danes find their liberal ideals tested by a growing, alienated Muslim population

By Thomas Omestad

Posted Sunday, December 31, 2006

COPENHAGEN–This, a recent study concluded, is the happiest country on Earth. With Denmark’s cradle-to-grave social welfare, highly regarded healthcare and education, prosperity, and small-country ethnic cohesion, the land that gave us Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales also excels at producing a good life in reality.

And yet, over the past year or so, the contented Danes have been forced to face both their greatest international crisis since World War II and the rise here of separate Muslim communities where many are unable or unwilling to enter the Danish mainstream. The international uproar over publication of 12 prophet Muhammad cartoons in a Danish newspaper triggered violence that left at least 139 people dead, Danish diplomatic outposts torched in Lebanon and Syria, and Danish goods boycotted. Suddenly, Denmark felt dangerously exposed–a country of just 5.4 million people facing the wrath of an Islamic world exceeding a billion people.

The violence outside Denmark ultimately quieted down, though the country’s security-threat level remains elevated. At home, the bitter disputes over the cartoons have highlighted an unhealed–and potentially hazardous–rift between the dominant Danes and the Muslim immigrants living in what are being called “parallel societies.” Ask Danes and Muslim immigrants alike, and many will say there is something a bit rotten in the Kingdom of Denmark.

The legacy of the cartoon uproar is not all bad. Private efforts at building bridges between Muslims and non-Muslim Danes have accelerated. Secular Danish Muslims condemned the violence overseas and appealed for dialogue. That, say Danes, has encouraged a greater appreciation of the differences–political and otherwise-among Muslims here.

“Time bomb.” Still, the cartoon crisis itself did not prompt any basic rethinking of how to integrate Muslims more deeply into Danish society. And the country is now preoccupied with things Muslim. Attention is riveted on any controversy linked to its Muslim residents–so-called honor killings of female relatives, street crime, terrorism probes, unemployment, forced marriages, use of veils, and so on. Denmark is pondering the specter of ever more young Muslims–unemployed and undereducated–finding their identities not as coolly secularized Danes but as fervent or even radical Muslims. “We are sitting on a time bomb,” warns Eva Smith, a law professor and racism expert at the University of Copenhagen.

The ferment in Denmark is especially striking because of its progressive traditions, but it also reflects the broader tremors rattling western Europe, where tangled issues of national identity, culture, religion, and security arising from Muslim immigration have bolted to the fore. Old, ethnically grounded societies are being roiled by the presence of Muslim newcomers–or at least by the reaction to them. “There’s kind of an unspoken assumption that they’re not really Dutch, not really Danes, and so forth,” reasons one senior U.S. official who follows the phenomenon. “Europeans are uncomfortable with Islam, and they see it as an alien body in their midst. … Europe’s got a huge problem, and they’re just getting their minds around it now.”

The cartoon controversy, along with frustration over the slow pace of Muslim integration, is leading some Danes to question their prized image as an open and tolerant nation. This, after all, is a people who under Nazi occupation spirited nearly all of their 7,000-some Jews to safety in Sweden. In the 1960s and 1970s, Denmark sought to offer one of Europe’s most liberal immigration policies. Many came as guest workers and were later joined by family members and asylum seekers. Even so, Denmark remained remarkably mono-ethnic; only about 4 percent of the population is Muslim. Coming mostly from Arab states, Iran, and Pakistan, the immigrants have clustered in a few neighborhoods in Copenhagen and other cities.

Yet as the preoccupation with Muslims has deepened in recent years, Denmark has swung in the opposite direction, erecting perhaps Europe’s most restrictive set of rules. A rightist, anti-immigration party sits not in government but at its side; the ruling coalition relies on its votes to govern. The mood toward immigrants has, with exceptions, soured. The share of Danes who view Islam as incompatible with democracy has shot up. And Muslims are often portrayed as troublemakers who sup at the table of Danish generosity–all the while rejecting what makes Denmark special. “They create ghettos. … There are a lot of criminals,” says Henrik Pedersen, a Dane who runs a Copenhagen trucking business. “Muslim people should be in a Muslim country.”

More sophisticated immigration skeptics worry that “Danish values” are under threat by politicized Muslims who resist assimilation. These values include democracy, far-reaching personal freedoms, equality between the sexes, and the trust born of unusually strong social bonds. One government minister frankly called the Danes a “tribe” in describing their group identity. “The whole quality of Danish life stands or falls with this community of values,” adds Ralf Pittelkow, a newspaper columnist and coauthor of a bestselling book on the Islamist challenge. “Danes need to feel reassured that the main features of Danish society remain unchanged. … We are at a crunch point.”

Some Danes argue that evading the impact of immigration is impossible. “Some people want to keep Denmark as a kind of museum,” says Helle Stenum, the chairwoman of MixEurope, a pro-integration group. “We are a rich, safe society that is scared.” Adds Copenhagen schoolteacher Maia Lisa Petersen as she rushes to a subway station, “These other cultures, other values force us to wake up. … We can’t hide anymore in this nice, perfect little Scandinavian world.”

Nor can the Muslim immigrants easily hide in enclaves that insulate them from the culture that surrounds them. They say that the political and media atmosphere has turned against them–particularly since the cartoon crisis. “It totally changed my view of Danish society,” says Mustafa Kucukyild, 26, who came from Turkey as a 1-year-old boy. “The spotlight is on Muslims. I’m much more cautious about what I say.” As the kebab and pizza restaurant where he works fills up with blond-haired college students, he is talking about his estrangement from the Danes. Kucukyild is asked if, having spent nearly all his life here, he feels Danish. “Definitely, no,” he replies. “No matter how much you want to be, you always have this black hair,” he says, grabbing at a lock of his own. “I will always be a foreigner.”

The alienation is pervasive, and it goes well beyond the discomfort some Muslims feel toward Denmark’s permissive atmosphere. “Danish people are very hard people, very cold,” claims Hassan, a middle-aged, Iraqi-born businessman in the Copenhagen district of Norrebro, where Danes often mix with immigrants. Hassan says that his children are adapting better than he is, though his 15-year-old daughter has faced problems in class–a teacher has chided her about her head scarf. Other immigrants report occasional hassles of other sorts: snide comments or being bumped on buses, being barred from nightclubs or followed by department store security officers–or the “what are you doing here?” stares in coffee shops. (Some Danes counter that Muslims are being overly sensitive, playing up an image of victimhood.)

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