Michael of Innocent Bystanders wrote a thought-provoking comment-post (technically, no one there posts: they all comment): Media Bias Against Muslims? In it, he quotes “Media Coverage of Muslims Bombs” by Lorraine Ali of Newsweek.
Now, I want to get this out of the way: I was little shocked to see Michael post such a post-comment. But this post-comment provides for me an excellent example of an otherwise well-meaning, erudite, educated, and admirable person may come to see the situation in a way that might not be entirely accurate. I don’t blame Michael for how he sees things, even though I see things in quite a different way.
Islamists will point to numbers (which, when it comes to statistics, are always lies) and remark along the lines of: “See! Not as many Muslims hate America!” They have a point. But we are not worried about the Muslims who love America: we are worried about the Muslims who hate America, no matter how many or what percent they may comprise. It took just twelve America-hating Islamists to attack us. The millions of Muslims who loved America made no difference that day.
Another reason why Americans look upon Islam (and subsequently Muslims) with suspicion is because of the lack of resolve, in American eyes, of Muslims against terrorism. At this Muslims are wont to complain, “What else should we do? Have we not said and done enough?” The fact is that they have not said and/or done enough. It is quite easy to issue a statement or even a fatwah against terrorism or in favor of America; what is far more difficult and what Muslims are not doing, which has displeased us exceedingly, is using whatever clout and authority one may have (or seek one who has clout and authority) and authoritatively asserting how terrorism is wrong and authoritatively stopping terrorists and terrorism-supporting people, organizations, and entities. Because Muslims in America claim to have solidarity with all Muslims of the world, America makes this problem in the hands of the world’s Muslims to be a problem in the hands of Muslims in America. Americans are calling the Muslims’ bluff by demanding that Muslims walk the walk if they’re going to talk the talk.
Now, Islamists and Muslims will claim that Muslims in America have no clout or authority over Muslims elsewhere. This is true. But if financial and materiel support can be sent from The United States for relief efforts and — which is unfortunately far more common — for terrorism-supporting organizations, then the same can be done for anti-terrorist organizations, no? Can not Muslims in America demand Muslim authorities elsewhere to organize themselves and present a unified front against terrorism?
But that is assuming Muslims are against terrorism. They are not. Muslims see violence, no terrorism. If it is violence that supports Islam(ism), it is good; if it is violence that harms Islam(ism), it is bad. Terrorism is not what Muslims do; they have no concept of terrorism. Indeed, their use of the word is often in throwing it back in the face of The West in accusing The West of conducting terrorism against Muslims.
Notice that I have not once used the term “American Muslim”. There is a debate within the Muslim communities in America whether such a thing exists. Muslim authorities maintain that a Muslim’s primary allegiance is to Islam. Some will even say that a Muslim’s sole allegiance is to Islam. This may be revealed by the fact that very often Muslim states will present issues of national importance as issues of importance to Islam: in other words, civilians should support a national issue not because they love their nation but because they love Islam. While there are plenty of Muslims who may call themselves “American Muslims”, most Muslim authorities (who are widely accepted) would say that such a thing is false: a person is either American or a Muslim.
This underscores a major issue and dilemma for Muslims in America: not only is traditional and authoritarian interpretations of Islam spreading, such interpretations are what prevail among the authorities within America. It is very difficult for Muslims in America to develop a pro-American policy for Muslims when relying on traditional, authoritative Islam. And what traditional, authoritative Islam has on its side is money. Although not all religious leaders follow traditional, authoritative Islam, many do: this is a consequence of traditional, authoritative Muslim organizations sending leaders, preachers, and money to The United States to establish and spread “authentic” Islam. Very often, Saudi money is involved, whether from Saudi citizens, Saudi organizations, or Saudi officials. No one has published any statistics, for example, of how many mosques are funded by Wahhabis. This is important because Wahhabis do not throw money away unconditionally: they donate money and expect Wahhabi Islam to be preached and followed.
Also, an issue of terminology. I have come to reject, really, the use of terms such as “fundamentalist” and “extremist” and “radical” and so on. These terms are often used to refer to an ideology that comprises far more than just fundamentalism, extremism, radicalism, and so on. And even so, by focusing on such aspects of the movement or ideology, we draw focus away of the bigger picture, which does not help us and may in fact be detrimental. The ideology we are really concerned about is Islamism.
I came to this realization after reading the last works of the prophetess of the West, Oriana Fallaci. Speaking from personal experience and awareness of Muslims and Islam (and Islamism, I would dare say) in Europe and abroad, she wrote to warn us of what we were really facing. She retired, but she felt obligated to warn us more fully after Islamists attacked The United States on September 11, 2001. Oriana Fallaci is a trumpet of warning for all the world to hear. One cannot read her writings and not be affected and educated. Unlike many so-called pundits, Fallaci knows what she wrote about.
Islamism is the philosophy, ideology, movement, or belief that supports the claims of Islam, especially as a polity (that is, politics and law as stated by Islam’s authoritative sources), over all other causes and claims. This not only refers to active Islamists, such as dastardly CAIR, but also to “useful infidels” who further Islamism and its misinformation and propaganda, which includes “experts” like Karen Armstrong and John Esposito. Islamism, a worldwide movement, takes many forms. Some of it is innocuous, such as a CAIR-approved academic “expert” giving a lecture on Islam; some of it is quite blunt, such as religious experts using their clout to enforce Islam-derived standards for law and justice; and some of it can be quite bothersome, such as suicide terrorism. Although the ways and peoples may be many, the goal is one: protect Islam and secure its triumph over all.
Unfortunately, restating the argument of suspicion of Muslims in terms of Islamism puts Muslims, Islamists, and Muslim-friendly people at a disadvantage. You see, it is possible to be an Islamist and not a fundamentalist or an extremist. But if the goal is the same (say, unquestioningly granting whatever special considerations Muslims may demand), what difference does it make? And if they do not share our values, and even oppose or ridicule them, what difference does it make if one simply talks or another seeks to blow himself up?
Islamists have become quite adept at using our values and laws against us. They publish vile material against The West and shut down debate on it by invoking freedom of speech. They shut down debate on Islam by invoking tolerance. They shut down anti-Islamic entities and publications by invoking their being offended at such a horrid and intolerant offense. But they don’t believe in tolerance or freedom of speech or respecting the feelings of others. We are stupid when we fail to see their trickery.
What makes me most uncomfortable with Michael’s post-comment and the article it quotes is my own experience with Muslims in America. It is difficult to ascertain what is meant by “assimilated”. My parents may be considered assimilated. They identify as Muslims. But many would not consider them as Muslims. Many of my parents’ friends can be considered assimilated, but they are quite anti-American and conspiracy-minded. They are more involved in their local mosque communities than their neighbors and whatnot.
Furthermore, the uniformity of certain beliefs (or memes?) alarms me. One is that Islam is and Muslims are under assault by America (by the American people and by the American government, and referring not only to Islam and Muslims around the world but also to Islam and Muslims in America). There is a prevalent feeling of being persecuted. (Which is just ridiculous, really.) Another meme is that America needs Islam: not only must they present Islam in the most attractive way possible so as to gain converts, but that as many Americans as possible should be convinced that Islam’s dictates are reasonable and worthy of emulation. This involves in some cases misinforming Americans. Or changing the subject. A third meme is that any criticism against Islam or Muslims is wrong and motivated by a hatred, intolerance, and bigotry for Muslims and Islam. There is no rational, reasonable basis for any criticism. A forth meme is that Muslims are doing nothing wrong but that the wrong and bad things (deaths, violence, bin Ladin, the felling of the World Trade Towers) are all the doings of neo-cons, Zionists, Crusaders, and/or imperialists. (Regarding governmental agencies, the CIA and Mossad are most often invoked.) In other words, there are conspiracies to harm, frame, and kill Muslims everywhere.
Now, if a few of the Muslims I knew said this, I would have no reason to worry. But when practically everyone outside of my immediate family — and this includes evidently Westernized Muslims in America and even outside America — believe all of this, my heart sinks. This cannot bode well. Even if the current generation (or even the previous generation) is well-disposed towards America, the next generation is growing up in an environment of virulent anti-Americanism.
So the question becomes: what will the current and future generations of Muslims in America do that could harm us. From what I understand of current trends, home-grown suicide terroristm and even plain home-grown terroristm will not be a goal of anti-American elements within the Muslim communities in America. However, with growing anti-Americanism and its concomitant increase in isolation from America in general will come an increase in support, directly or indirectly, for anti-American entities outside America. Some of these entities will target America directly on a domestic level; some of these will target America directly through its interests and establishments overseas; some will target America indirectly by targeting its allies and its allies’ interests and by supporting America’s opponents in its campaigns and operations. There is no guarantee, of course, that some rogue Islamist will conduct a terrorism operation. All of these are significant in that they will force us to have to spend more and engage our resources more and for longer than we may desire. But a major impact domestically will be how the current and future generations will affect public discourse on Islam and Muslims and Islamism.
Even though it may seem innocuous that Muslims will stifle our ability to debate and understand issues affecting the Muslim peoples, let alone Islam itself, the consequence of this is our inability to formulate and express appropriate policies with regard to external and even internal threats originating from Muslims. We can very well turn into another Londonistan, where anti-American organizations preach, convert, and organize with impunity only to attack us when we least expect it. The foundation for this has already been established, what with academia having successfully purged those academics who refuse to take the politically correct (and Islamist-created and -imposed) line regarding Islam and Muslims.
The bottom line is that the trends, from what insiders have revealed, are not pretty. What is worse is that what with misinformation and with activity being hidden and quiet, it is becoming difficult for one to attain an accurate assessment of what is actually going on. We need to be very wary of Islamism. And we need to defeat Islamists. We may not be able to use our law against them but we can shut them up by challenging them and seeing through their obfuscations. We should not allow them to fool us or to fool other Muslims. There are plenty of Muslims who are suffering under the totalitarian regime impose by Wahhabi Muslims on Muslims in America.