Is the Alleged Sniper's Muslim Religion Worth Noting?

News at Home

Mr. Pipes is the director of the Middle East Forum. His website address is

It came as no surprise to learn that the lead suspect as the Washington, D.C.,-area sniper is John Allen Muhammad, an African-American who converted to Islam about 17 years ago. Nor that seven years ago he provided security for Louis Farrakhan's "Million Man March." Even less does it amaze that he reportedly sympathized with the 9/11 attacks carried out by militant Islamic elements.

All this was near-predictable because it fits into a well-established tradition of American blacks who convert to Islam turning against their country.

Of course, this is not a universal pattern, as some of the roughly 700,000 African-American converts to Islam are moderate and patriotic citizens. One well-known example is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the basketball player; another, jazz pianist McCoy Tyner.

In brief, there is nothing inherently antagonistic between the faith of Islam and good American citizenship.

Converts most likely turn anti-American when they adhere to either of two specific forms of Islam: either the Nation of Islam (NoI, the black-nationalist sect that originated in Detroit in 1930) or militant Islam (mostly imported from the Middle East and South Asia).

The pattern of alienation goes back decades. From the 1940s onward, NoI's longtime leader, Elijah Muhammad, told his followers "You are not American citizens" and he spent years in jail for draft evasion during World War II. In the 1960s, the NoI's most famous convert, boxer Muhammad Ali, refused to be drafted and fight in Vietnam.

Other NoI leaders have spoken with intense hostility against their country. Malcolm X dismissed his American passport as signifying "the exact opposite of what Islam stands for." Louis Farrakhan announced that "God will destroy America at the hands of Muslims."

But African-Americans who adhere to normative Islam also have a pattern of alienation from the United States:

  • After breaking from the NoI, Malcolm X proclaimed, "I'm not an American."

  • Jamil Al-Amin, once known as H. Rap Brown and now in prison for murdering a policeman, wrote that "When we begin to look critically at the Constitution of the United States . . . we see that in its main essence it is diametrically opposed to what Allah has commanded."

  • Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, a National Basketball Association player, refused to stand during the playing of the national anthem on the grounds that the American flag is a "symbol of oppression, of tyranny."

  • Imam Siraj Wahhaj, one of the country's most prominent Muslim leaders, calls for replacing the U.S. government with a caliphate.

And American converts who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan during the 1980s imbibed a vision of destroying both superpowers. One such jihadist explained in 1989: "It is the duty of all Muslims to complete the march of jihad until we reach America and liberate her. And I will be a guide for them."

Nor are these sentiments confined to words alone:

  • The U.S. attorney for New York listed Wahhaj as one of the "unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators" in an attempt to blow up New York City landmarks.

  • Clement Rodney Hampton-el of New Jersey returned home from fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan and joined a gang that in February 1993 bombed the World Trade Center.

This well-established pattern of alienation, radicalism and violence among black American converts to Islam suggests two points, should John Allen Muhammad in fact be implicated in the D.C. sniper attacks.

First: The troubling coincidence of conversion to Islam and hatred of the United States needs to be looked at very closely. To what extent does Islam attract the disaffected, to what extent does it actively turn them against their country? Probing the source of the disaffection that can inspire terrorism has important security implications.

Second: To what extent does the rhetoric and example set by prominent figures such as Louis Farrakhan and Siraj Wahhaj influence followers like the alleged sniper to engage in violence? If it does, given that this is wartime, do steps need to be taken to curtail their rhetoric?

That one should even have to raise these issues points, yet again, to the unpleasant realities that Americans must confront if they want to win the war on terror.

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david smith - 6/12/2003

this site is shit

erica ramirez - 3/6/2003

Trader - 11/4/2002

Chechen terrorists, Al Qaeda maniacs, or the warriors of Ariel Sharon might THINK they are fighting "WWIII" because most of the world opposes these murderers. Sane Americans who are not stooges for such madmen, know that this fantasy of Daniel Pipes has not yet actually come to pass.

Vic - 11/3/2002

Pipes is reporting a serious problem, just to focus on the fact that it IS a serious problem, while a lot of peaceniks and assorted leftists say that it is not.

Pipes is clear, I think, that he agrees with Bush that we have to go in and do a pre-emptive strike on a serious potential threat. A Middle East expert such as Bernard Lewis says we have to go in sooner or later, the sooner the better, because later the war will be even more bloody. 9/11 was quite a warning shot.

Pipes is not a bigot. He just knows who the enemy is and acknowledges the fact that we are already in WWIII.

Jim March - 11/3/2002

Points about Mexico, South Africa, Europe and for that matter black violence rates in the US all point in the same direction: it's culture that matters, NOT gun control laws.

What I *can* easily prove is that US citizens of European origins, with basically European culture, are committing acts of violence *and* creating murder rates that are close to identical. But the European-Americans are well armed, and the Europeans aren't.

Yet you insist on blaming the guns.

You also try and paint me a racist for the horrible sin of telling the truth.

And it IS the truth - here's the FBI's racial breakdown of murderers by race, year 2001: (Excel spreadsheet)

Blacks are over 50% of the US murderers. If they committed murders at a rate comparable to whites, no disparity between US and European murder rates would exist at all.

For other years, start here:

So the question is, why all the black killings, most of which are against blacks?

The moment sizable black "ghettos" began to form in Washington DC, New York City, Detroit, Chicago and elsewhere, they were subjected to three official policies that combined, let to disaster:

1) They were economically discriminated against.

2) Welfare programs were set up to exclude fathers from families, leading to multiple generations of fatherless boys.

3) They were subjected to strict gun control - see also Cramer, "Racist Roots Of Gun Control",

4) Police took to a general attitude that crime committed against blacks wasn't worth worrying about, and provided massively substandard policing of the "ghettos". Everywhere else, blacks were subjected to enhanced scrutiny and random search, which lives on today with the complaints about being pulled over for "driving while black".

The net result was that honest blacks seeking employment outside the ghetto could not defend themselves, but criminal blacks who stayed (and preyed) inside their own community could go about armed with little fear of repercussions. Shootings wouldn't even be investigated unless a white body turned up.

This set of circumstances ran rampant from approximately 1870 to the 1960s unchecked, and continues in limited form today. The net result was that their "culture" (dunno what else to call it) was damaged.

If anyone has alternate theories as to why the murder rate disparity exists, I'd like to hear it. Economic disparity alone doesn't explain it. Economic disparity plus the lack of fathers as a controlling influence explains a lot of it, but the systematic forced mixture of armed criminals and unarmed victims across generations was a major factor too.

Gus Moner - 11/3/2002

Comparing Mexican and South African laws to make a case for the US is comparing apples to amoebas. Compare the laws to other equally or more developed nations and your argument goes missing.

No, prohibitions of anything only make criminals of the people involved, right you are there. However, one can clean up the neighbourhood substantially if one wants to. After WWII, there were tens of millions of weapons in civilian hands throughout Europe. Programmes to disarm the populace were by ands large quite successful, reducing the number of weapons about substantially. It can be done in civilised and developed societies.

Statistics can be manipulated as one wants, so as yours mean nothing, I’ll not provide any.
Nevertheless, crime committed by criminals in Europe is usually not the armed sort. Less weapons and less violence do have a correlation.

Regarding the outrageous assertion in point 5, it seems a sad legacy of slavery that the only way to ‘clean up’ crime statistics is to inanely exclude 20% of the citizens of the USA in order to get the murder rate down to other developed nation’s rates. Perhaps you’d just like to eliminate them altogether so they wouldn’t turn up in the statistics. Practically any nation on Earth can reduce its crime statistics (not to mention health, education and poverty statistics) if it failed to count it’s poor, discriminated and most marginalized people. The concept is indeed racist especially as put by you, classicist and worst of all, demented. You are making Mr. Murphy's comment sound very logical indeed.

Jim March - 11/3/2002

Quoting Earl Cort:

"Mr. March, who thinks that having received a letter from the San Francisco sherrif's department (see the websites in his last Nov 2 post) telling him that they have issued no permits to citizens to carry concealed weapons, means that he has been "royally screwed over", does not represent or speak for all Americans."

Cute. Three problems:

1) This was in response to a public records act request, California's version of the Federal "freedom of information act". I asked for details of issuance, AND the copy of the policy manual they're required to create. As the letter shows, they admitted not having the manual, over a year and a half after they were required to whip one up:

2) What you probably wouldn't know is that there is a binding California appellate court case requiring issuing agencies to "make an individual determination and investigation into the circumstances of each applicant" and called anything else "an abuse of, and not an excercise of, discretion". That case is Salute vs. Pitchess 1977; the full text of this short decision is here:

3) This agency's behavior is part of a pattern whereby counties with high black populations don't issue many permits:

In the rural counties with high Latino populations, there is evidence that "the wrong sort" (racially speaking) just aren't getting them - note this 1995 newspaper report from a county that is 45% Hispanic per Y2000 census data, yet issued only 3% of a statistically significant 2,500 permits to people with last names like "Santiago" or "Garcia":

Then there's the corruption:

...the elitism:

...and a lot more at:

Earl Cort - 11/3/2002

Chris Murphy:

No thanks. It would be a waste of barbed wire (to ring the U.S.
just because of the warped minds of a few here).

Mr. March, who thinks that having received a letter from the San Francisco sherrif's department (see the websites in his last Nov 2 post) telling him that they have issued no permits to citizens to carry concealed weapons, means that he has been "royally screwed over", does not represent or speak for all Americans.

I'm sure you have some weird psychos in Australia (was it ?) too.

As we (at least used to) say here, "its a free country", and that means any and all strange characters can spew nonsense all over the web. Save your energy for those of us Americans still in possession of rational faculties.

Cheers, Earl

Jim March - 11/2/2002

In a sense, you're right. Screwing people over can indeed lead to poor results. We saw that in Iran; the Shi'ites should NEVER have been a problem at all, 'cept we screwed 'em over with the Shah. So they became a BIG problem, now finally starting to fade.

But we didn't screw the Wahabbis.

Mr. Murphy, no doubt you love the idea of using my post as evidence that gun owners need to be "controlled". But what you're missing is that we've been screwed over pretty royally already, without reacting in kind.

Some examples just in California:

I can go on, those are just the short ones. Mr. Murphy, if getting a California driver's license involved being of the right race, the right gender, making the right campaign contributions or paying the right bribes such as is COMMONLY found in the gun carry permit system, every single Department of Motor Vehicles in the state would have been turned into a crispy critter generations ago. But the gun permit system has remained a sour vestige of Jim Crow since 1923.

Six years ago, a guy walked into a shooting range in Milpitas to plink some targets. As is normal practice, you give over your ID as a "placeholder" since you're also renting goggles, earmuffs and often a gun. Well this dude hands over a carry concealed weapons permit, from Alameda County - population over a million, and less than 150 permits total. The surprised range staff asked him how he scored.

His answer: "I have pictures of people in high places, with sheep!"

OK, he was joking, but the underlying reality ain't funny at all. And we've *tolerated* this crap since...well hell, 1923.

So don't go calling us violent threats. It'll take one HELL of a lot to piss us off. Stealing all our guns without pay or doing door-to-door searches by using the Constitution as toilet paper will however do it. In spades.

Jim March - 11/2/2002

Very funny :). Cute title, too.

The issue is "weapons of a type normally used by individual infantry" if we work off of the 1791 standard. (See also State vs. Aymette, an 1840 Tennessee case cited in US vs. Miller for a definition of "militia weapon" - "weapons commonly used in civilized warfare by an individual soldier" (paraphrased) - this standard was used to ban concealed weapons carry and remnants of this thinking is found across the nation. California Penal Code 12020's "dirk and dagger" rules fr'instance, or the ability to pack a firearm openly in Arizona, Maine and a few others without prior gov't permission via concealed carry permit.)

Or we can look to the 1868 de-facto standard not yet recognized: "weapons of a type that would protect individuals from criminal acts, and/or at least give a lynch mob pause". (See also speeches by John Bingham regarding the need to end Black Codes that barred new freemen from arms, and his explanation of the phrase "privileges and immunities" as borrowed from the Dred Scott case where the complete phrase was used 31 times, and exhaustively defined as including a right to arms. Stephen Halbrook's "That Every Man Be Armed" (1984) and Akhil Reed Amar's "The Bill Of Rights" (1998) cover this in great detail - the privileges and immunities clause was destroyed by the courts between 1870ish and 1900ish, but unlike the equal protection clause resurrected in 1954, P&I is still mostly "dead".)

Neither standard covers nukes. Give us a few hundred years and we're all living on our own asteroids maybe :).

Chris Murphy - 11/2/2002

I rest my case, Mr Pipes.

Chris Murphy

Ed Jones - 11/2/2002

No doubt Jim March's gentle and well-reasoned insights will persuade all the "lefties" like George Bush senior to rue any criticism they may have ever made of the NRA and its peace-loving members so misunderstood by the whole world, especially all those black UN helicopter pilots.

Where I can buy my own personal atom bomb, Jim ? Can I get it with a cool-looking holster ?

Ed Jones

Jim March - 11/2/2002

OK, I know that sounds kooky. But bear with me here.

Divesting one nutcase who is KNOWN to be a threat of his personal gun, or for that matter his personal NATION, isn't all that hard. Even in the latter case. And it's moral to do so.

Britain has nukes too you know. So does France, South Africa, India, Pakistan and Israel, just to name a few. But let's stick with those a sec.

Are any of them likely to use nukes to either launch an aggressive war of conquest, or attack the US directly or by proxy? No. Although Pakistan is slightly troubling of that bunch, they're still nowhere near the threat level that would justify invasion.

So why do you advocate ME being disarmed?

Seriously, the problems with mass personal disarmament in the US are thus:

1) What the heck have individual US citizenry done to deserve such abuse? Sure, there's arguments going on about how much civilian CCW reduces crime. To date, even the forthcoming Stanford law review article only talks about minor *property* crime increases. We'll see how well it stands up to critique.

2) HOW are you going to disarm us? Seriously?

Let me show you the scale of the problem. You have 80 million gun owners with WELL over 250 million guns. You gonna pay us fair market value? With what money? Almost half lack a paper gonna do door to door searches?

You've got about 5.5 million of those folks who are "pretty hardcore", in that they've taken the additional steps to score a carry permit. In every state, they've proven themselves to be the most law-abiding segment of society, and they know it. Hell, COPS know it, permitholders who are pulled over and hand over their CCW permit with their driver's licence and car registration are often treated abnormally well, because the cop knows he's dealing with somebody who's passed a background check. To date, the total number of shots fired at law enforcement by carry permit holders is exactly zero. Nationwide.

You want to disarm THOSE folks? Why?

Now let's talk about downsides.

Do you know how many shooters the Irish Republican Army had at any one time? About 300. That's how many people it took to raise all that hell.

Now, HOW many US gunowners, who KNOW they don't deserve your abuse, do you plan on abusing?

Whoops. If only 1% of the 5.5 million permitholders get pissy on ya, you've got 55,000 well-armed guerilla fighters on your hands. That know US society inside and out. Screw Osama Yo Mama's bunch, you've just got a much bigger problem on your hands.

For what?

For the same level of gun control Mexico has, with triple the US murder rate? For the same level of gun control Chicago and WashDC have, which pair keep trading off for the highest per-capita murder rate in the US?

Sir, you are cordially invited to bite me.

Putting a cap in Saddam's butt is child's play compared to disarming the US, and is far more moral and will have an actual quantifiable benefit (getting a madman out of control of an entire nation).

You wanna mess with me and mine, for no discernable benefit other than your unproven lefty theories?

Molon Labe.

J. Bartlett - 11/1/2002

A friendly word to the wise: Take careful aim before you pull the trigger or you may hit the wrong targets

"Why Bush the First resigned from the NRA ?" is a rhetorical question, but the answer to it is certainly germane to your arguments.

Papa Bush had the basic sense of decency to be horrified and outraged at the fanatical turn the NRA has taken in recent years. Junior Bush, many in Congress, and the NRA firebrands who stand like sentinels over this website (apparently in the deluded belief that one faked anti-gun book makes the holy arsenal inviolable for eternity) either lack such moral scruples or have a screw loose or both.


Eric Kaplan - 11/1/2002

Am I wrong in my impressions that the HNN staff seems to feature the rantings of Mr. Pies prominently, even when they are only superficially history-related? No, i'm not advocating "censorship," but thr HNN staff daily makes choices about which articles to includem and which to give high profiles--and there seems to be a preference for inflammatory, bigoted, and lunatic fringe writings of people like Pipes. The creation of HNN was a great idea. But its tendency to feature writers who draw the most facile historical analogies, and to overlook or bury more sophisticated and scholarly pieces is a great disappointment. Instead of a historical "New York Times" we have to settle for a historical "National Enquirer."

There's a crying need for a more serious, more cerebral history news service.

Frank Lee - 11/1/2002

The trouble with total laissez faire weapons trading is that it can be very hard to know what the weapons will ultimately be used for.

Background checks don't prevent guns from being stolen or fired accidentally. The West gave Saddam his weapons and trained Osama.
At the time this seemed to some Americans a viable way to counter Khomeini and the Russians in Afghanistan. Now, like the cat in the hat, we have much bigger messes to clean up. We would all be better off if America had fewer guns and better schools and if the Mideast received fewer weapons deliveries and more frequent and forceful arms inspections.

Jim March - 11/1/2002

Seriously, I'm confused by your last post.

Does Bush have Saddam's best interests at heart when he advocates disarming him? Hell no. He's trying to prevent Saddam from giving a nuke to Osama Yo Mama's boys, one of which would eagerly float the damn thing up the Potomac to within sight of the Capitol, and hit the button while yelling "Allah Ak(BOOM).

In any case, my thesis still fits: you disarm somebody for YOUR benefit, not theirs. Which leads to a huge problem if it's the US government trying to disarm "We The People" - WHY would the US government act for their own best interests versus that of the people? Whoops, because the people aren't really in control any more.

The "gun control social contract" says that if I give up my self defense ability, I'll gain societal protection in return. But first, per the courts and laws the police have no duty to protect me and I cannot under ANY circumstances sue them if they fail to do so. And second, no such protection occurs as a RESULT of gun control. Alcohol prohibition doesn't work, drug prohibition doesn't work, gun prohibition doesn't work.

Hell, in 1999 the Petco pet supply chain sold over a million bucks worth of ferret supplies in Northern California alone, a 41% increase over '98. What's odd about that? California is one of two remaining states that ban ferrets as pets! Jesus, WEASEL prohibition doesn't work!

(Source: - check this out, esp. the picture at the top of the page...turns out the "Sacramento Weasel Lobby" is NOT the Trial Lawyers Association, those are another kinda weasel .)

And y'all wanna ban guns? Riiiiiight.

I'm not 100% convinced war in Iraq is a good idea, mind you. I'd like more data. But what always amazes me is that the one type of gun control MOST favored by the anti-self-defense crowd is the disarmament of the mentally ill. Yet they have no problem letting a total nutcase like Saddam have access to an entire *nation*.

Any of you knee-jerk peaceniks wanna explain this? 'Cuz it's got me utterly stumped.

Gus Moner - 11/1/2002

I hardly consider attacking people and / or nations “intellectual engagement” as you seem to do. If the topic is broader and deeper than you can handle, don’t try dulling it by turning it to pabulum, just drop out of the discussion, we’ll understand.

If others and I are to tolerate your ‘paranoid fantasies’, you could have the graciousness to tolerate what you describe as my “left-wing paranoid fantasies about a new Crusade”, no? Clearly you have missed the point, or cannot grasp it. Although it does seems clear that since you learned the word paranoia you use it on every comment to deride those who opine different to you. At least try to broaden the insult list a bit, it gets dull. Might I enquire as to why everyone who disagrees with you is left wing?

Now, then, to more thoughtful controversy, please. I’ll plead stupidity and ask for clarification of the comment on beating Holocaust survivors, as I not recall promoting the “beating (of) Holocaust survivors”. One concept on which we agree (on paper at least) is to engage Muslim people in debate. You say without explanation or reason, that Iraq must be confronted in a literal sense. Knowing your opinions on Iraq, I cannot but assume you mean militarily. Sorry, as you so perceptively pointed up, my grasp on reality is slipping. Why is this a must? In fact, you, the reincarnation of Richard Lion Heart want to engage them on the battlefield. If you cannot see how the US is moving strictly against Muslim terrorists, disregarding others, even US ones, then it is you who needs to visit the optometrist. Even the retrograde Muslim clerics were able to sort that one out in a brief period.

Middle Eastern despots and their fellow religious travellers want to eradicate western political and cultural influence and interference in their region. I propose we withdraw said efforts to manipulate them and let them stew. They’ll find their own way back to the Age of Enlightenment they did so much to bring to Europe before their return to the womb. What will be their rallying cry against us after we leave them to rot in their own backwardness? Stop propping up their unpopular regimes and cease supporting settlers in their region. They’ll come to us for our goodies and to sell us their oil.

I do not believe that one religion is less dangerous than another, for they all require blind faith. I believe sects of Judaism are as dangerous as those Muslim sects we both abhor, Mr Lloyd, the same as with Christian fundamentalists of numerous flavours. Where we differ is on our approach to the problem. And my approach is not to bury my head in the sand as you claim. I’d be pleased if you do not misinterpret or misrepresent what I write, as you have done with this and the Iraq small pox comment.

I no more want to be attacked by chemical or other weapons than you. Unlike you, it seems, I do need a bit of evidence and logical reasoning prior to attacking a nation, where ultimately I’d be hurting its innocent citizens more than the culprits and turning an already unstable region into a disaster. The overall result would be catastrophic, for the mad Mullahs would be able to say that they were right, we are the evil doers just as they had been saying all along.

Anyhow, I still fail to see how using descriptions given by a supposed eyewitness was racial profiling. What if the killer had been white, as in Texas and Arizona? It anyway seems a ridiculous point to batter. If you were looking for a white woman would you arrest a black woman, just in case?

I cannot condemn one sort of lunacy and let another one get the wink, no; amazingly, you have actually seen that! Well done. Radical Eastern Orthodoxy also has chemical and nuclear weapons (and they just used them last week). Radical Hinduism and Zionism also have these weapons, as radical Communism does in N. Korea, (suddenly almost a member of the Axis of Good). It’s not just Islam, and a pity for you that, like a mule, you do not seem capable of removing your blinders to view the entire horizon.

Mr. Lloyd, paraphrasing the song: paranoia strikes deep and into your heart it has seeped. Now Mc Veigh is a tool of Muslims. Please, see a doctor.

PS. If its ‘grown ups’ like you who’ll ‘make everything better’ whilst I sleep, I’ll courteously decline the dream you offered; for it’s a nightmare.

Gus Moner - 11/1/2002

Who cares why Daddy Bush (victim of big bad Saddam) resigned membership in a violent gun club? The real question, considering all the harm done by weapons, is why are all sorts of these weapons legal to own in the first place? I am surprised no one wants to mention this sacred cow.

I have never felt the need to own a weapon. I have never had to use one in society. Seldom, if ever, is a weapon a deterrent to a criminal in a crime situation. It is, however, a useful tool to kill at a distance, making it easier for a criminal to kill. If all the enraged gun owners had to go out and kill with, say knives for example, many wouldn't have the courage.

Nations who control the sale of weapons have much lower weapons-related crime and murder rates. If every kook in Kook Land can get a gun effortlessly, it's no wonder schools, universities and entire regions can be terrorised by a lone madman. Who needs al Quaeda, we well enough terrorise ourselves!

Now, you’ll all be tempted to howl about the right to bear arms, defending yourself and the logistical difficulty of disarming an entire nation, the farmers without ready protection and all that. However, it’s been done before. After WWII, Europe disarmed the civilian population. This would eventually make it harder for kooks to get weapons.

These matters can be sorted out. If you like target practice, your weapon can be kept in an armoury. When the urge strikes, go there and shoot. Hunters can also have weapons but not armouries. It’s time we realised that weapons are dangerous tools in the hands of everyone. Collecting weapons may be fun, but dangerous for society.

We control things like access to many drugs, alcohol sales, highway speed, use of fireworks, tractors and other heavy machinery which, when improperly used, could be harmful to others. We control pornography. Cars are better regulated than weapons, and most deaths and injuries with them are real accidents, given that few people are determined to crash into another vehicle.

Why not weapons, which are the most frequently used tool in killing or to intimidate in order to commit crimes?

Gus Moner - 11/1/2002

Who cares why Daddy Bush (victim of big bad Saddam) resigned membership in a violent gun club? The real question, considering all the harm done by weapons, is why are all sorts of these weapons legal to own in the first place? I am surprised no one wants to mention this sacred cow.

I have never felt the need to own a weapon. I have never had to use one in society. Seldom, if ever, is a weapon a deterrent to a criminal in a crime situation. It is, however, a useful tool to kill at a distance, making it easier for a criminal to kill. If all the enraged gun owners had to go out and kill with, say knives for example, many wouldn't have the courage.

Nations who control the sale of weapons have much lower weapons-related crime and murder rates. If every kook in Kook Land can get a gun effortlessly, it's no wonder schools, universities and entire regions can be terrorised by a lone madman. Who needs al Quaeda, we well enough terrorise ourselves!

Now, you’ll all be tempted to howl about the right to bear arms, defending yourself and the logistical difficulty of disarming an entire nation, the farmers without ready protection and all that. However, it’s been done before. After WWII, Europe disarmed the civilian population. This would eventually make it harder for kooks to get weapons.

These matters can be sorted out. If you like target practice, your weapon can be kept in an armoury. When the urge strikes, go there and shoot. Hunters can also have weapons but not armouries. It’s time we realised that weapons are dangerous tools in the hands of everyone. Collecting weapons may be fun, but dangerous for society.

We control things like access to many drugs, alcohol sales, highway speed, use of fireworks, tractors and other heavy machinery which, when improperly used, could be harmful to others. We control pornography. Cars are better regulated than weapons, and most deaths and injuries with them are real accidents, given that few people are determined to crash into another vehicle.

Why not weapons, which are the most frequently used tool in killing or to intimidate in order to commit crimes?

Frank Lee - 11/1/2002

Or maybe Jim March really is against President Bush when he says,
as he did on the radio yesterday, "We will disarm Saddam Hussein."


"No gov't that does disarmament has the well-being of the people being disarmed at heart. Gun control can only disarm the law-abiding because by definition, crooks that won't obey laws on assault or robbery or murder won't obey gun control laws".

Jim March - 11/1/2002

Mr. (or professor?) Murphy:

First point, you've got to be aware that a nation's level of violence is more deeply tied to cultural factors than weapons availability?

Mexico has gun control laws every bit as strict as you could possibly ask for, and a murder rate 3x the US rate. South Africa has weapons laws similar overall to the US, with a murder rate somewhere past FIFTY times the US rate (I've seen stats as high as 80x higher, but hard numbers are difficult to come by). The Swiss have weapon ownership rates at or above US rates, with shooting the national sport, and murder rates far below US rates (and somewhat below British rates).

So there's more to it than just weapons laws.

2) You must have figured out that drug prohibition hasn't worked in any nation. If you can't keep drugs out of Australia just as we can't keep 'em out of the US, how do you expect to keep guns out?

3) Criminals gain more from their guns, economically speaking, than honest citizens do from theirs. So every time efforts are made to make guns harder to get and harder for criminals to get, it backfires. The net result is to disarm the honest at a greater rate than criminals are affected. The result is what engineers call a "feedback loop", where gun control *causes* violence, which leads to more gun control, which leads to more violence. The higher the basic societal violence level, the faster this loop operates. At current rates of murder increase in the UK and decreases in the US, the UK will surpass US murder rates inside of 10, 15 years tops. The UK already leads the US in every type of violent crime other than murder.

4) Why is the UK murder rates rising? Banning self defense was a factor, but a bigger issue is immigration from cultures that are, you guessed it, more violent...particularly Pakistan and Jamaica.

5) Which leads us to the element of the US murder rate that nobody wants to talk about for fear of being labeled racist: if you exclude crimes committed in the US by blacks, the US murder rate is otherwise right down near European rates. Why is this? Well lesse, what group in the US has consistently been inflicted with the most stringent gun control? Often the ONLY gun control? Hint: Clayton Cramer's 1995 thesis paper. Yes, THAT Clayton Cramer, the one Emory basically just got finished saying was right in some other recent matter:

Gun control applied stringently to the black community ensured that black criminals had ready access to unarmed black victims in the same segregated communities. Racist law enforcement prior to improvements starting in the 1960s meant that black-on-black crime wasn't taken seriously - see also the original form of the term "Saturday Night Special" as a referencee to a cheap handgun.

The net result was a "culture of violence" assisted to this day by racist patterns of gun control administration:

In conclusion, self defense is a basic human right. No gov't that does disarmament has the well-being of the people being disarmed at heart. Gun control can only disarm the law-abiding because by definition, crooks that won't obey laws on assault or robbery or murder won't obey gun control laws.

Gun control is a classic example of being in a hole, and refusing to quit digging.

Chris Murphy - 10/31/2002

I love your logic.

Nope. No rise in crime. No rise in gun deaths.

So America, a supposedly "civilized country", remains one of the most violent in the world, give or take a few insignificant deaths here and there. Armed to the teeth amd very angry.

Meanwhile, your gun manufacturers and those who lobby for them, do everything in their power to hoodwink the American people into believing that hiding a gun or two in your trousers is the ticket to freedom and civil rights.

No wonder the rest of the world thinks you're all a lot of masochistic losers, with minds and morals twisted by big money, big media, and a culture of violence.

We really don't mind if you wipe yourselves out with such self-delusion, but you keep insisting on imposing your violent ways on the rest of us. First it was the native Americans, then the blacks, then poor. Now it's the Muslims, and next it will be "non-Americans".

Time to put up a barbed wire fence around the United States. You'll be happy -- you love jails -- but we'll be so happy we'll be ecstatic! (Not to mention safe!)

Chris Murphy

Orson Olson - 10/31/2002

"If we want capitalism, western-style government to triumph in these lands, it’s got to be a grass roots movement."

Agreed. Not that Muslim's aren't natural traders--they flourish everywhere outside of authoritarian rule--they are. Their history of enjoying the Silk Road trade and trade over the Arabian Sea is, of course, famous.

A year ago and last winter the notion of a Peace Corps for Pakistan was booted about--have the federal government organize the return of Americanized Pakistanis to go home for a period of a year to teach useful skills and expand the ultra narrow Maddrassas curriculum beyond indoctrination into the Koran--this, two goverments ought to be able to get behind, especially when the recipient is endangered by Islamist insurgency!

What's happened? As far as I know, nothing. And Dr. Roham Gunneratna states that such educational reforms are needed throughout many Muslim countries like Egypt--breeding grounds for future Jihadi.

So--again--there are reams of arguments to counter the Bush fixation on Iraq--plenty of other reforms going undone in a long-term War Against Terror.

But the Antiwar Party won't even get clue over the debate about what to do about the terrorist threat where most of The People are already committed. What do they say about the la Belle indifferance? In a long war, there's still time to wake up, as events in Moscow, Washington, D.C., and Bali remind me.


OrsonOlson - 10/31/2002

Gus Moner writes:
"You are all heading down Intolerance Avenue...
To speak of the need to reform any religion seems pompous and paternalistic. Who gave anyone the power or right to ‘reform’ any religion? Do you feel deputised to root out only Islamic believers or is this generalised?"

CAN YOU doubt that had Islamic clerics NOT rejected Ishtihad some seven centuries ago--the doctrine of interpreting the Koran according to the lights of Raason--that Muslim civilization would have modernized in the very ways now so painfully resisted but needed?

Perhaps these notions you ascribe to our "intolerance" was the natural way for Islam to have gone but for a cabal of entrenched reactionary clerics?

After all, the period of Islam's height as a civilization preceeds this rejection of Reason. DO you not see a correlation here or is this infernal skeptic missing the *&$#*@! obvious?


John Jacobsen-Smith - 10/31/2002

Alec Lloyd's approach seems to be: when logic fails, reiterate the illogical assertion anyway.

He writes: "Bullet ballistics are not worthless. The[y] are [a] useful tool in solving some crimes". Nevertheless, he insists that somehow a "national database" of gun sales and bullet ballistics "would be worthless as a crime-fighting tool."

Why is this ? Apparently because Daddy Lloyd says so.

Obviously statewide databases are of limited value because a crook can buy a gun in one state and use it in another. This sounds like exactly the sort of deficiency best remedied by a NATIONWIDE record-keeping system.

I am not an expert on guns or crime, but I can tell the difference between rational reasoning and arrogant propaganda.

Since we are supposed to believe that the NRA is nothing but a club for law abiding duck hunters, can one of the posse which ever-vigilantly circles this website explain why George Bush Senior resigned his membership ?

Alec Lloyd - 10/31/2002

I was about to make a post with a similar point. Michigan adopted a shall-issue law more than a year ago and even the liberal Democrat candidate for Governor, Jennifer Granholm, now says the she supports the law. This is the same woman who led a petition drive to block the law from going into effect.

Why the flip-flop?

Because the law worked. No rise in crime. No permit holders going on shooting sprees.

Try again.

Oh and do try to separate suicides from murders. The US has a fairly low suicide rate. If anything, there is a reverse correlation between gun ownership rates and suicide.

Just a little intellectual honesty would be nice (though it would utterly undercut your cause).

Alec Lloyd - 10/31/2002

Mr. Madison writes: “If bullet ballistics are as worthless as the expert gunsmiths here maintain, the police and crime officials coast to coast who support them must be highly incompetent as well as being racist.”

Bullet ballistics are not worthless. The are useful tool in solving some crimes. Did you not read my reply? I did not say ballistics are of no use. I simply pointed out that a *national database* would be worthless as a crime-fighting tool. It is one thing to match a murder weapon to a bullet recovered from the scene. It is another thing entirely to think that you will magically be able to solve crime simply by looking up the address of the owner from whose gun the bullet supposedly came. It doesn’t work that way.

Would you like more information? California, hardly a bastion of gun-rights policy, determined that a statewide ballistics database would only waste money. Read the report. New York and Maryland have such databases and they have solved NO CRIMES.

This is why many law-enforcement agencies are NOT on board.

Indeed, I have a question of my own: given that this proposal has not a single example of success and threatens to take resources away from proven crime-fighting tactics, why would a rational person support its expansion?

Mr. Madison continues: “Might other factors be involved ? A gun industry which has infiltrated and co-opted a citizen group perhaps ?”

Ah yes, all 4 million members of the NRA are mindless dupes of the gun industry, including the many law-enforcement officers. Perhaps you should do something about that paranoia.

Richard Kurdlion - 10/31/2002

I will answer the question posed several times by Thomas Gallatin but not yet addressed in any other comments below.

To reprise:

1. Fanatical Islam is a clear and serious threat to America, to western democracy and to basic human rights. It is a more significant problem than that presented by any of the many other extreme cults and delusions plaguing our world.

2. This threat calls for a forceful but careful and non-hypocritical response. Several good ideas are discussed in the postings on this page.

3. Daniel Pipes, supposed Mideast expert, pays only lip service to any such consideration of tangible solutions to the problem of Moslem fanaticism.

The question is WHY ?

In various forms the Daniel Pipes phenomenon has occurred before, usually in periods of stress when people are disposed to irrationality.

A slick sounding speaker, with a narrow mind and a large ego, makes it his sole ambition to build a career based on fear and hatred of a particular identifiable subgroup of human society.

(Of course, the targeted scapegoat is "only radical Moslems not all Moslems" or "only unAmerican socialists, not all socialists" or "some of my best friends are Jews").

The speaker starts with a few grains of truth, and prospers when those grains sprout. Relevancy and a modicum of validity thus help cloak a basically blind and vile prejudice.

Soviet Communism was indeed a real threat to the West in the 1940s and 50s, was aided and abetted by a tiny but notorious minority within the U.S. government then, received wider sympathy amongst U.S. intellectuals, and was underestimated by most Americans for many years. Ergo Joe McCarthy.

Today we have even more diffuse and frightening enemy in the form of a suicidal strain of Islam. And, again, a government and establishment which for various reasons is unwilling to confront the financial and intellectual sources of the problem (for example in Saudi Arabia). Thus Daniel Pipes. (Though why this non-historian is so frequently featured on something calling itself “HISTORY News Network” remains a bit of a mystery).

The LAST THING a McCarthy or a Pipes ever wants to do is to engage in a serious and intelligent discussion about sober, rational, focused and effective ideas for how to reduce the threat he thrives on.

Gus Moner - 10/31/2002

From Professor Pipes’ article and O’Brien and March’s additional insight we can easily reach a conclusion. Religious profiling is a non-starter. For ‘starters’ how many of the thousands of murders are committed by members of each religious sect in the USA? What percentage is Islamic in belief, sect aside? We’d be chasing down Christians of every sect till judgement day, just as we are now, without profiling them as such.

One could say the Taliban are the Islamic Crusaders, a la the inquisitorial Catholics of the Dark Ages. The Shiites in Iran are actually turning out to be the least radical of the lot, with more women in universities than men, for example, although radical or barbaric elements of their religious laws (amputation, lapidating, death penalty), drawn up as a response to conditions 1,300 years ago, continue to be enforced today. It’s all vastly complex, much more so than GWB and his team’s intellectual capacity to comprehend.

Best to judge people by their actions, not their skin colour, preferences or faith.

Jim March - 10/31/2002

I've recently started tracking mainstream news reports from states that put in "shall issue" gun carry systems. Under "shall issue", as long as you can pass the background check, training, fingerprinting and other such "objective standards", you'll get a permit to pack a loaded, concealed defensive firearm.

Michigan just converted to "shall issue" from the older "discretionary" system where there's no objective standards and a strong tendency towards elitism and even corruption.

Here's three recent media reports on what happened when MI converted a year and a half ago:

Kinda screws up your thesis some.

Jim March - 10/31/2002

Chris points out that NOI isn't considered a variant of "Islam" by any others. It's an excellent point.

We should also be paying attention to the differences between Wahhabism and the more moderate forms of Sunni, how the Sufis have (so far as I'm aware) been utterly blameless, how the Sikhs (who have Islamic influences) have not done anything anti-American, and how the Shi'ites wouldn't have been an issue if the CIA hadn't installed the Shah .

It's pretty dang complex out there, folks...slapping the term "Islam" around randomly is...well, poor scholarship and can lead to screwy target selection.

Chris Murphy - 10/31/2002

Nearly thirty thousand Americans die each year from bullets and gunshot. Ten of these died recently at the hands of a madman who was a convert to Islam. But he was also a Gulf War veteran and a black, and he had two sneaky eyes and a high powered rifle or ten. So, clearly, the problem is that converts to Islam are a threat to the American public.

Come on, America!

The National Rifle Association says it's commendable that every American carry a gun. The President supports them. The Congress trembles in fear of the Association's wrath. But -- hey! -- the NRA is a patriotic American body, ain't it!

Now, why does the rest of the world think the U.S. is twisted?

Daniel Pipes manages to, once again, set the cat amongst the pigeons and divert attention away from real problems to promote his inane assertion that Islam is the enemy.

What is this man's real agenda?

Chris Murphy

Gus Moner - 10/30/2002

I prefer your response to Lloyd over mine.

It seems surprising to me that no one has yet come up with a 'solution' that addresses the problems we so often identify, (except to attack Iraq, that is). There are many prongs with which to prick this radical Islamic monster.

In many comments throughout the Western world, everyone seems to agree and lament that radicalism has a certain appeal to impressionable or disaffected youth, and that it is fuelled through the Madrasses school system and other clergy-run educational centres. Concurrently, people marvel at the dichotomy of the appeal of Western culture, dress, music and values to many Muslim youth.

So, might not the failure of western backed governments in Muslim nations to address education and basic social services be one of the core causal factors for so many young Muslim people turning out to be radical, Western hating suicidal martyrs? ‘Attacking’ the failure of our puppet regimes in the Muslim world to provide proper, laic and basic education to the growing number of Islamic youth could well be a place to start turning the tide.

Madrasses and other clerical-led education as well as other social services are growing in the Islamic world precisely because these corrupt, western propped governments are failing to provide and expand these basic services to the growing populations of these nations. Instead of giving thousands of millions of dollars to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and other Muslim states for ‘defence’, how about redirecting the cash to train laic teachers and build laic schools, and to provide non-faith based health and social services?

If we want capitalism, western-style government to triumph in these lands, it’s got to be a grass roots movement. What was life like in the USA and Europe in 1750? Education and social services in the hands of the churches gave the mullahs of the period incredible power and control over life and values.

It was in large measure the promulgation of education and social services by the state at the expense of dogmatic Christian ‘mullahs’ who controlled everything some two centuries ago that began our rapid socio-economic development, and initiated or assisted in the decline of religious control over our lives and values.

Chris O'Brien - 10/30/2002

Professor Pipes has been writing on this topic entirely too long to so readily comingle what he dubs "normative Islam" with the Nation of Islam. The religions are distinct and, in many ways, antithetical. The Nation of Islam believes that a Messiah returned to the United States to lead the Lost and Found People to a higher spirtual realization. Known as the Mahdi, he trained Elijah Muhammad as his Prophet to continue his works. Along with the Qu'ran and, often, the Bible, additional prophecies and revealed text comprise the core documents in the NOI. "Normative Islam," by which I understand the worldwide religion of some nearly one billion adherents, believes the Prophet Muhammad is "the last and greatest" of the prophets. Since he preceded Elijah Muhammad by some 1300 years, my math says that most of the world's Muslims would not accept that NOI is simply a "sect" of Islam. Conflating the two does little to add to the clarity of the discussion.

The reports on John Allen Muhammad's religious beliefs have been a bit tortured in the news media. I remain unsure if he was a convert to "normative Islam" that drifted to the NOI, or perhaps vice versa. Some reports seem to have him floating between the two. In nearly all reports, he seems to have been a regular drinker-- not an accepted practice by the faithful in either camp.

Finally, if Pipes is right that we need to look to one's religious beliefs, perhaps we should begin with John Muhammad's upbringing. He was Baptist. I'm thinking of calling the FBI and recommending some surveillance.

C. O'Brien (and heaven knows there's never been a terrorist with that moniker)

Gus Moner - 10/30/2002

You ask us: How about confronting reality? Whose reality, sir ‘their’ reality or yours? To me, reality is that i we are trying to ‘defeat them’, it’s best to understand ‘them’.

Saying that religion is the root cause of a sniper’s madness seems far-fetched and alarmist fear mongering. Why aren’t the same demands for reform made when Jewish settlers murder Arabs, Hindus murder Muslims or Catholics murder Protestants and vice versa. Do you ever advocate rounding up all the IRA supporters and funding sources and training areas here in the USA? How about Christian religious fanatics, common in the Western USA? You are all heading down Intolerance Avenue nearing the Intersection with Intimidation Boulevard with this madness of hate and revenge.

To speak of the need to reform any religion seems pompous and paternalistic. Who gave anyone the power or right to ‘reform’ any religion? Do you feel deputised to root out only Islamic believers or is this generalised?

Forget not, sir, that religious ‘extremists’ sent packing due to intolerance and other prejudices you now advocate as required for Islam, founded the USA. So far, we have you on record as needing to attack Iraq ‘for peace’ but leave N Korea alone for they may bite back, whilst we now need to go about reforming Islam. You were ‘born too late’; out of time and in the wrong era. The Crusades started 1,000 years ago and ended nearly 700 years ago.

People who intimidate speakers are reprehensible. Yet you want to do just that. If people are joining crackpot religious cults, as they have a history of doing in the USA, why not seek the cause of such disaffection and right the ills that are fertile ground for these extremist views?
Why were there no Islamic fanatics 100 years ago and there are so many now? Might Christian nation’s manipulation of their land, societies and cultures have anything to do with it? What has happened in the world to fuel their disaffection against us? Has the Christian world done anything to revive this antagonism? These are the real policy questions that need addressing, not your instant combustion theory. These people did not just awaken one day and say, let’s go after the Christians and Jews anymore than you have.

If freedom of religion only means Christendom, then your fellow travellers are taking us on the path to another Crusade. Your 3-point programme sounds bizarre, although without further detail it would be hard to enter into discussion on them. Nevertheless, two immediate questions come to mind. How do we ‘reassert’ the core values of ‘Western Civilisation’? Are we to mete out similar head-on treatment to Christian, Hindu and Jewish fanatics, or just Islamic? Well, make it three. Where, (and how) exactly, do we ‘reassert’ Western values?

How can one “defend the secular pluralistic values of our society” without sorting out why they are under attack? Is it not best to know your enemy in order to defeat them? It is much to our advantage to understand the root causes of problems BEFORE jumping to provide the solutions, even if they are caused by “far-off historical events”. That’s anyway a strange comment reflecting a curious attitude towards history from someone using a History web page. Is history only relevant when the facts suit your point of view?

Otherwise you are unfortunately giving us simplistic, erroneous and already failed solutions that will bring more troubles. Israel has failed, in five decades, to defeat the Palestinians Muslims because they have failed to address the root causes of disaffection. Do you buy a new battery before finding out why the battery is dead? What if the alternator is faulty? You’d be buying batteries forever… without solving the problem.

When one tries to put things in perspective and explain the reasons certain event5s may be taking place, one is not “find(ing) excuses for every act of terrorism”. It is merely trying to gain perspective and understanding of the causes in order to find a solution. No one that I have read so far is ‘defending’ terrorism, merely trying to give us his or her perspective on why this is happening. The idea, Mr. Lloyd, is to find the cause of the battery going dead, so we don’t keep buying batteries aimlessly. No one says there is no threat from Islamic, Hindu, Jewish and Christian fanatics. It’s just that some of us believe we need to fight them more intelligently and not drop down to their level.

If you don’t see ‘takers’ for your superficial solutions on your horizon, perhaps it’s best to reconsider. As Jane Austen said, “where so many hours have been spent in convincing myself that I am right, is there not some reason to fear I may be wrong?”

Bob Greene - 10/30/2002

Regardless of one's occupation to advocate violence is
the equivalent of crying fire in a crowded thater.
To equate Israel and Saudi Arabia is idiotic. Israel has a elected parlament with Arabs as members. There are no Jews in Arabs parlaments, hell there are no Arab parlaments. There is a vocal and active Israeli left. There are revisionists historians like Benny Morris who are free to publish their lunatic ideas.
Is Israel a perfect Jeffersonian democracy, of course not. But to the perfect is not the enemy of the good. Compared to any other state in the Middle East its record is pretty good.

Albert Madison - 10/30/2002

If bullet ballistics are as worthless as the expert gunsmiths here maintain, the police and crime officials coast to coast who support them must be highly incompetent as well as being racist.

Might other factors be involved ? A gun industry which has infiltrated and co-opted a citizen group perhaps ?

Meanwhile, the mindboggling machinations of blind justice are quite a sight, as different prosecutorial jurisdictions tie themselves in knots trying to maximize the likelihood of the death penalty.

It strikes me that if Ashcroft & Co really gave a hoot about protecting us against Islamic fanatics craving death, he and his Washington buddies would not be so hell-bent on trying to give those suicidal fundamentalists what they want.

Would justice and national security be any less served if GI John Mohammed, instead of being executed, were to spend the rest of life at hard labor, with an occasional day off whenever is able to write an essay, on for instance "Why Jihads are a Betrayal of Morality" or "Why other Muslims Should Stop Their Blind Hatred", acceptable to a committee of representing his victims ? There are probably legitimate arguments each way, but surely the first priority ought to be a swift and cost effective conviction, not a prolonged and convoluted legal wrangling.

Here an ounce of prevention is worth a TON of cure. Instead of
gloating over the few small fry we've caught, we should instead place much greater emphasis on doing something to stop the processes by which many more new monster fish are now being spawned.

Orson Olson - 10/30/2002

Mr. Gallatin is quite right: reasserting core values of Weatern Civilization is good, but would it be effective?

The Bush Administration proposes to do more public diplomacy than has been done in a long time in the Middle East. Raising the status of Public Diplomacy among the Diplomatic Corps is but a first step. Then what shall it teach?

Unfortunately, many in the Middle East see the West's history as a failure with nothing to teach Muslims. They point to the great waste of humanity during the 20th century's two World wars. How do we reply?

Re-assert the Englightenment--its openess to the new, its curiosity, its embrace of adventure and of reform of humanity.
Next, teach the history of the Soviet Union. The parallel's with Islam are too stark to be neglected, even though mass death isn't comparable. Finally, show how the US won the Cold War and its political and economic values have since spread worldwide.

Is that so hard?


P.S. Gallitin asks "Is George W. Bush bound and determined to start a war against Saddam Hussein for some OTHER cause than defending our core values (life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, etc.?" Yes--to promote revolution in the Islamic world. However, to fail to see that this aims to defend the US and the West from terrorism through defeating it is to be, perhaps, blind; read Bill Keller's profile of Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz in NYTimes Magazine (September 8, 2002), and then tell me otherwise.

A Good debate over War wiith Iraq would start there and then propose alternatives to meeting the saime goal, i.e., defeat the appeal of terrorism in the Muslim world by instituting mechanisms of popular consent and promoting job growth through capitalism.

My opinion? It's cultural and secular--not imperial--overreach. The Antiwar side has much better arguments than they use. They rely way too much on irrelevent pacifism, caracature, and innuendo (e.g., "No Blood For Oil!"--it ain't about the oil, Virginia)!

Thomas Gallatin - 10/29/2002

We can skip over Alec Lloyd's first "first step", anyone one wasting time on this website probably enjoys escaping from reality more than confronting it.

Nor would any non-fanatic in his/her right mind after 9-11 argue that the U.S. does not face a serious "threat" from "radical Islam". Another non-issue.

Lloyd's three numbered proposals are probably uncontroversial but whether they would be effective is quite another matter.

"Reasserting core values of Western civilization" (assuming the definer thereof is not, for instance, Louis Farakhan) is certainly an improvement over mere griping about the failing of other civilizations, but will this suffice to win the hearts and minds of millions of impressionable young Muslim minds now falling prey to brainwashing mullahs from Sudan to Saudi Arabia to Indonesia ?

Furthermore, how can stepped-up assertion of our core values make a decisive difference unless we are somehow massively failing to do so now ? Is that really the case ? Is George W. Bush bound and determined to start a war against Saddam Hussein for some OTHER cause than defending our core values (life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, etc. ) ?

All of this is an aside, however. The real question, which Alec Lloyd has completely ducked, is this: Why is HE, and not Islamic expert Daniel Pines, coming up with action programs ?

T. Gallatin

Bill Heuisler - 10/29/2002

Mr. Bartlett,
Traffic stops are recorded on radio, MI cards and activity reports handed in at debriefing. Evidence of nonfeasance by DC and Maryland police supervisors will soon be public record.
The Washington Post reported the morning after the arrest that the 1990 Caprice the pair had been driving was checked several times and its license plate researched as many as 10 times by tri-state police during the ordeal. They kept showing up in the neighborhood of the crimes yet, though police questioned Muhammad on more than one occasion, they sent him on his way each time. "We were looking for a white van with white people," admitted D.C. police chief, Charles Ramsay.
Look it up.
That's only one of a half-dozen similar stories written the day after the arrest. But now papers are more interested in covering up than covering faulty profiles and Muslim connections.

Using ballistic databases to investigate murders would be like using baby pictures in robbery line-ups. Each bullet - like each year - degrades. How many times must this be repeated?

Michael Moore is a petulant worker's advocate without a work-record or the common dignity to shave for TV interviews. Why would his opinion about rifles be of interest to anyone?
Bill Heuisler

Alec Lloyd - 10/29/2002

How about confronting reality?

Both with the LAX shooting and this DC sniper, terrorism was the obvious cause, yet officials fell over themselves to shoo it out of sight.

The dismissive response given to Mr. Pipes shows that the need to reform Islam is *not* considered to be a given. Make one remark about Islam on campus and watch the *often violent protesters show up. The first step, therefore, is to aggressively take the Islamofascists head-on. You want a program of action?

1. Punish people who *really restrict free speech by beating up and intimidating speakers rather than rewarding them as in Concordia and SDSU;
2. Firmly denounce flagrant acts of anti-Semitism; and
3. Reassert the core values of Western civilization.

This last point is key. Instead of digging for root causes and blaming contemporary troubles on far-off historical events or indulging in bizarre self-flagellation, we have a duty to defend the secular pluralistic values of our society. Criticizing a hate-filled worldview isn’t censorship.

One thing we should NOT do is find excuses for every act of terrorism, nor should we turn blind eyes on the very real threats lurking in our midst. Right now the operative idea seems to be “better dead than rude.” Enough already. Simply admitting the threat of radical Islam and its American followers would be a huge first step. Sadly, I don’t see many takers on this site.

Alec Lloyd - 10/29/2002

Mr. Bartlett, allow me to clear up this “ballistic fingerprint” myth for you.

In the first place, the very name is a misnomer. A fingerprint is a unique trait shared by every human being. Ballistics, on the other hand, are severely limited and are generally useful only in determining the type of weapon. Getting an “exact match” is unlikely.

There are ballistic databases (Maryland has one, I believe) and they have NEVER solved a crime. There are several reasons for this:

1. You are assuming that a criminal will lawfully register his weapon before committing a crime. Dream on.
2. You are further assuming a criminal won’t use a stolen weapon, which would make registration useless.
3. Finally, you are assuming that ballistics are fixed, like DNA or a fingerprint. This is utterly false.

The Bushmaster has a chrome-lined barrel. Over time, the barrel’s ballistics CHANGE. After the first 1000 rounds or so it is “broken in,” that is the friction of the bullet’s passage smoothes the barrel and changes the marks it would impart on the bullet.

The same is true with all firearms, save smoothbores (which I will deal with below). Ordinary use and routine maintenance will alter both bullet ballistics and shell casing markings. In order to keep a database current, there would have to be a constant stream of guns being “re-printed.”

Finally, it is easy to purposefully alter ballistics. Simply run a file down the barrel. It’s that easy. Swap out the firing pin or the whole bolt carrier assembly. Replace a worn barrel. You do not need a gunsmith to do any of this. It’s easier than changing a car tire.

Of course, weapons without rifling (smoothbores) have no fingerprint. So shotguns could be used with impunity.

California considered adopting this plan and after reviewing the facts, rejected it. It would consume vast amounts of police resources for no purpose other than to buttress an anti-gun agenda, which is clearly what its proponents want.

J. Bartlett - 10/29/2002

"Did racial profiling cost lives ?"

Unlikely. At least, I don't recall news stories about police searches for "non-black" suspects.

The lack of an effective bullet ballastics database may have cost lives, however. See "Yes, it was a Bushmaster" for more on this:


James Jefferson - 10/29/2002

I don't really think trying to censor college professors amounts
to the same thing as preventing shouts of fire in a crowded theatre.

Gallatin has a good point. After crying wolf for years, and now that a few wolflets have actually shown up, isn't it time to move on to practical, nonhysterical anti-wolf measures ? What is so hard about promoting tolerance and freedom of expression, and insisting on this in countries we support financially, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia ? Do we have to adopt the mind-numbing methods of Islamic terrorists in order to defeat them ?

Maybe for some the first step is to wake up from Pipes dreams.

Bob Greene - 10/29/2002

There is nothing like grossly distorting someones writing in order to make cheap debaing points or advance your own agenda. Reread Pipe's article and pay attention this time. To point out that someone who urges others to resort to violence is NOT a call to repeal the first amendment.Perhaps you believe people should be allowed to cry fire in a crowded theater,say so and defend that position.
If you still do not get Pipe's point , it is quite simple, there is an element, a minority of Muslims in this country who are radical Islamists. They hate this country, not for its foreign policy, but because it is rich, powerful and influential and not Islamic. They hate our western, secular, liberal, moderm, whatever you want to call, outlook. Futher they think it is their reason for being, to destroy us . They will not rest till they succeed and we ignore them at our peril. No Pipes did not give a long litany a policy proposals , that was not the purpose of this article but before any problem can be solved you must know what the problem is . After all if there is a wolf out there going out with rabit traps and flyswatters and digging up weeds will not do any good. Crying wolf is a useful service if there is a wolf

Thomas Gallatin - 10/29/2002

Embedded within his cryptic rant, Mr. Olson seems to have three modest and tangible proposals, easily implimented over a bag of pretzels in the White House, perhaps. My question remains: In his piece on this website, why did Daniel Pipes not propose any solutions to the problem he raises ?

Orson Olson - 10/28/2002

I hardly think that Pipe's "only suggestion" results in "vague intolerance, stupefying fear and unfocused hatred." Speak for yourself, Thomas.

First, Islam can overcome their rejection of Ishtihad--the 700 door-slamming of interpreting the Koran in the light of reason.

Second, the doctrines of Jihad (in its classical and typical sense of war upon the Infidel) and Martyrdom can be rejected.

But reform will never come without reflection and the development of a critical culture--something the PoMo's and Middle East Studies Association types neither practice nor spread.

Third, the West could reinvigorate Enlightenment values by rooting out its own dung-holders like the above.


Thomas Gallatin - 10/28/2002

So some Muslims are violent fanatics, including the DC sniper ?

What do we do ? According to Daniel Pipes, nothing, except perhaps repeal the First Amendment ("to curtail their rhetoric").

Pipes has been studying Islamic movements for decades and this is the only suggestion he can up with ? A kind of vague intolerance, stupefying fear and unfocused hatred ? Alarm bells about symptoms, but no proposed treatments of underlying causes ?

Israeli soldiers fire on ambulances. Shall we therefore hate Judaism while ignoring the Mideast ?

Catholics and Protestants terrorize each other in Northern Ireland. Should we thus live in perpetual fear of Christian extremists and forget the Mitchell plan ?

Buddhist money tried to corrupt the 1996 election. Do we therefore loath Buddhism reflexively and do nothing against the growing avalanche of idiotic attack ads financed by special interest ?

There are plenty of reasonable steps that could be taken against the problem of Islamic fanaticism. We could support efforts at secular education in countries where Islamic schools are brainwashing pupils. Our president could publicly call for separation of church and state in countries such as Saudi Arabia (although this might seem inconsistent if America is simultaneously whittling away at her First Amendment). We could try something other than mindlessly funding an Israeli government whose only policy appears to be tit for tat forever.

This list of possible actions could be extended in many directions. Pipes discusses none of them. I wonder, why not ?

Bill Heuisler - 10/28/2002

Mr. Pipes' questions will be answered when/if the police uncover the source of Muhammed's money and the reasons for his Caribbean travel. Any faith in the tri-area police may be hopelessly optomistic, however, in light of the sniper investigation. Why?
Chief Moose left a Portland Oregan Department after a racially motivated problem. He seized control of the sniper investigation and held it - bungled it? - until a truck driver dropped a dime.
Did this Chief Moose and racial profiling - cost 4 or 5 lives?

Imagine a police bulletin describing a murder suspect this way:
"These murders were probably committed by a young black male, probably a loner, and possibly a member of a black power group."
Imagine a police chief who refused to consider white profiles and, instead, instructed his men to ignore four out of five eyewitness accounts of "a white-complected" suspect.
Imagine a police department that searched databases for black men who owned rifles and used several hundreds of police-hours making these listed black men produce alibis.
Now imagine various area police departments had stopped two white males in an old out-of-state car four or five times during a tri-state murder spree, but had released them because "we were looking for black men".
The National Press, the ACLU and the NAACP would cry racist and call for wholesale beheadings.
But Chief Moose did exactly that - reverse the race. Data searches for Arab or black males were discouraged by Montgomery County's police chief and five people were killed since the first Muhammed traffic stop. Why no inquiry? No protest?
Unfortunately Mr. Pipes and I may wait a long time for answers.
Bill Heuisler

Alec Lloyd - 7/13/1996

Mr. Moner once again wants to change the subject. For some reason, he confuses intellectual engagement with establishing a new Inquisition. Spare us your left-wing paranoid fantasies about a new Crusade.

If you cannot tell the difference between engaging Muslim scholars in an open and critical debate and beating Holocaust survivors, your grasp on reality is more tenuous than I thought.

Radical Islam must be confronted in a philosophical sense, just as Iraq must be confronted in a literal one. Is this too hard for you to understand? Muslim reformers who speak out against extremism risk death. The Koran prescribes the death sentence on all who convert, a far cry from the ice cream shop approach of the West (now with 31 flavors of salvation).

I fully agree that the theological despotisms in the Middle East need to be reformed and dealt with. How does Mr. Moner propose to do that short of military action? Does he think Saddam Hussein, Bashar Assad, the Mullahs and Saudis will go gently into that good night?

Thus my assertion of the need for common sense. Terrorists are far more likely to be Muslims than Presbyterians from Des Moines. Even Timothy McVeigh, poster child of the Left, had links to Iraq and spoke out repeatedly of the injustices visited on the Iraqi people. Why has this not been explored more fully? Could it be that, having found their right-wing boogeyman, the feds lost interest in what promised to be a far more complex issue? I’m no conspiracy buff, but there are a lot of loose ends that have yet to be tied up. (And, for the record, I see nothing sinister about the speed of his execution. McVeigh wanted to die and the feds merely obliged him.)

No, Mr. Moner would simply bury his head in the sand, pretending that the Nation of Islam is no more dangerous than the Shriners and that religion can only motivate Christian and Jewish zealots to kill, but never home-grown American Muslim converts.

Mr. Moner isn’t at all alarmed to learn that the police stopped John Muhammed, only to let him go because they were looking for a white man in a white van. How’s that for racial profiling?

Mr. Moner extends his blindness to Iraq. Unless Saddam Hussein sends a personally engraved box of smallpox with the return address clearly marked, he can’t be a threat—and even then, Mr. Moner would assume it is a CIA plot.

This is why he can’t bring himself to condemn radical Islam without also bashing the fringe lunatics of the other religions—ignoring the fact that radical Islam controls resources and followers that are orders of magnitude more dangerous.

Keep on dreaming, Mr. Moner. The grownups will make everything all right.