“Why Don’t Muslims Condemn Terrorism?”





Mr. Khawaja is adjunct professor of philosophy at The College of New Jersey and Montclair State University.

As I write, my part of the country is on “Orange Alert,” waiting more or less fatalistically for a repeat performance of September 11, 2001. We all hope that it won’t happen—that it’s a false alarm, or an attack averted by foreknowledge—but bluffing aside, no one knows what will happen, or if anything will, when it will. And there is a sense in which an attack is, and always has been inevitable: Al Qaeda is not defeated, and has not given up. Given all that, it may be worth revisiting an old question, unresolved since 9/11 itself: Why is it, Americans invariably ask, that Muslims have been so reticent about criticizing terrorism?

William Bennett makes the complaint succinctly in his book Why We Fight: Moral Clarity and the War on Terrorism (2003):

It is no doubt a measure of how adroitly Muslim Americans have adapted to our general ethos of entitlement that they and their representatives should so uninhibitedly denounce even the most timid expression of concern about the Islamist danger as ‘Islamophobia’ or as an infringement of their ‘rights.’ But they do, and this has proved an effective tactic of intimidation. Considering the lengths to which our country has gone to accommodate Muslim requirements, it is also sheer effrontery. (p. 108)

If, as we have been assured, moderates really do outnumber extremists in the Muslim world…then they will have to stand up and begin the arduous work of reconstruction from within by criticizing, criticizing, criticizing: wresting the souls of their children from the clutches of self-pity and resentment, taking on the extremists at every point, defining their patrimony anew, and trusting to their convictions, their faith, and the God of history for a vindication that may yet be theirs. (p. 111).

I have a certain sympathy for Bennett’s complaint (though not for his book as a whole). But what explains the attitude he criticizes?

The answer, in my view, lies in the psycho-politics of civil war. It’s an underappreciated fact that the current terrorist episode is most fundamentally a civil war, a war of Muslim against Muslim over the soul of Islam, which for a variety of reasons has spilled out of the Muslim world and into the rest of it. Wars of this sort lead inevitably to euphemism, reticence, and rationalization intended to paper over the reality of the conflict: brothers find it hard to admit that they really are making war against each other. It’s a futile, inexcusable pretense, but Americans ought to stop pretending to incomprehension of it, as though they themselves were innocent of the vice. To see what I mean, consider some ways in which the same denial crops up in American attitudes toward the American Civil War, the one that supposedly ended at Appomattox Court House some 140 years ago.

Start, for instance, with the place where the war began: Fort Sumter, and turn to the website of the National Park Service’s Fort Sumter National Monument, where you’ll find the following account of the fateful events of April 12, 1861:

History provides us with defining moments from which we judge where we are with where we have been. The Civil War provides the United States with one of its critical defining moments that continues to play a vital role in defining ourselves as a Nation. Fort Sumter is the place where it began.

America's most tragic conflict ignited at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, when a chain reaction of social, economic and political events exploded into civil war. At the heart of these events was the issue of states rights versus federal authority flowing over the underlying issue of slavery.

Fueled by decades of disagreement and confrontation, South Carolina seceded in protest of Lincoln's election and the social and economic changes sure to follow. With Fort Sumter as an unyielding bastion of Federal authority, the war became inevitable.

A powerful symbol to both the South and the North, Fort Sumter remains a memorial to all that fought to hold it.

Reading this, one find oneself wondering: does it describe a historical event or a chemistry experiment gone awry?

The first paragraph starts out unassailably enough: history, it tells us, provides us with defining moments that it is our obligation to judge. But we can only judge individuals who, being responsible for their actions, make decisions of their own free will. And oddly enough, every subsequent paragraph in this passage occludes who those individuals were, how they decided, what they did, what the consequences were, and who was to blame for the aftermath. Instead, the conflict “ignited.” A “chain reaction…exploded.” The fuse was lit. The stage was set. Mistakes were made. Snap, crackle, pop: and the war came.

Granted, we get the unavoidable one-line reference to moral and political issues: states rights, federal authority, slavery. But no sooner are these issues mentioned, they are blotted out, and we revert once again to mechanistic metaphors: South Carolina, gassed up on a contention-causing “fuel,” more or less drove into secession like a driver who’s lost control of his vehicle, quite possibly hydroplaning on the issues that were “flowing over” slavery.

Reflecting on this mealy-mouthed abdication of moral judgment (paradoxically issued in the name of moral judgment), consider what Abraham Lincoln had to say about the same situation in his first Inaugural Address of March 4, 1861:

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to "preserve, protect, and defend it."

Agree with Lincoln’s interpretation or not, here at least we return to the scene of history as made by human agents as opposed to “chain reactions.”

The contrast between the nineteenth century speech and the twenty-first century website couldn’t be clearer. The website treats the aggression against Fort Sumter as though it were a chance event that just happened to happen. Despite the pro forma references to judgment, its narrative is an act of evasion: it goes as far out of its way as possible to avoid, even to subvert, the task of judgment by pretending that we can somehow understand what happened at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861 in a value-neutral way, standing outside all judgments about what should have happened. But Lincoln—in line with the contemporary school of moral philosophy known as “moral realism”—knows better. The what of a human event is inherently tied to its could have, would have, and should have. Dissociate the one from the other and you cease to understand what the event was about.

Now, you could say that a national park is a park for all Americans, Unionist and Confederate alike, and thus ought to respect all opinions about the war, pro-Lincoln or pro-Davis, pro-Anderson or pro-Beauregard. But that’s precisely the cheap “inclusive” thought that facilitates the Muslim whining that Bennett opposes.

Imagine that we apply the preceding “inclusive” logic not only to Fort Sumter but to the memorial which is to be erected at the site of the new World Trade Center. In fact, most Americans regard what happened at the WTC on 9/11 as an unmitigated act of aggression by Al Qaeda. But not all do. According to the Washington Post (quoting the Jersey City Police Department), some Muslims in my hometown of Jersey City, New Jersey celebrated the 9/11 attacks from their rooftops (see Serge F. Kovaleski and Frederick Kunkle, "Northern New Jersey Draws Probers' Eye: Many in Area Feel Wrongly Targeted," Washington Post, September 18, 2001, p. A6).

Let me emphasize, as I have on previous occasions, that these celebrants were a tiny, tiny minority even of the Muslims of Jersey City, and that by far the majority of rumors about Muslim American celebrations of 9/11 have been false and malicious hoaxes. But the fact remains that if the Jersey City PD and Washington Post are to be believed, those handful of Muslims did celebrate 9/11, and if they are a minority, so are Confederates. If the National Park Service can placate the Confederates, why not placate Muslim American celebrants of 9/11 to the following tune?

History provides us with defining moments from which we judge where we are with where we have been. The 9/11 attacks provide the United States with one of its critical defining moments that continues to play a vital role in defining ourselves as a Nation.

The conflict ignited when a chain reaction took place that led several jet planes to careen toward the Towers, crashing into them, knocking them down, and leading to a tragic loss of life—killing thousands in the towers, hundreds of rescuers, the passengers and crew on the aircraft, and nineteen others caught in the maelstrom.

A powerful symbol to all, the World Trade Center remains a memorial for all involved in the events of that day—those who mourned, and those who cheered; those who fell victim, and those who victimized them.

Is the comparison of Al Qaeda to the Confederacy really so far off? Al Qaeda managed to kill a few thousand Americans—certainly more than bad enough. But if Lincoln was right about whose “hands” led to the Civil War (and I agree with him), Jefferson Davis, P.T. Beauregard, Robert E. Lee & Co. were responsible for starting and conducting a war that killed 600,000 Americanstwenty times what Al Qaeda has so far managed. And yet a taxpayer-funded national park devoted to the “memory” of the Civil War is willing to manufacture excuses for the Confederates that no one would dream of manufacturing for Al Qaeda. Meanwhile, Lincoln’s “divisive” take on the events is for official purposes to be relegated to the memory hole. Can people who play such games with their own history really demand that others make assiduous judgments about theirs?

Consider a second, initially trivial-sounding example. Not long ago, I was driving down the Pennsylvania Turnpike, when I decided to stop for a snack at a service plaza near Gettysburg. Browsing the postcards on sale there, I had trouble believing my eyes. Here I was, a few miles from Gettysburg—site of the most climactic battle ever fought on American soil, site of a Southern offensive stopped by the tenacity and heroism of Northern arms, and site of carnage that for the length of the casualty list, simply dwarfs 9/11 by comparison. So how did the postcards depict this battle?

I’m looking right now at one of those postcards. It depicts three Gettysburg monuments with a Civil War cannon superimposed over them. The cannon is flanked on its right by an American flag, and on its left by… the Confederate flag. Looking at this juxtaposition, you get the impression that Gettysburg was some kind of friendly football scrimmage between rival schools— Union U. versus Confederate State. You also get the lamentable impression that the game ended in a tie. Since it obviously wasn’t a military tie, the implication seems to be that it was a moral tie. And the lesson is that both sides fought as “bravely” as the other, so that both sides deserve our respect.

That suggests another fruitful Pennsylvanian analogy. If what happened at Gettysburg was just a friendly—if competitive—scrimmage, why not say the same of United Flight 93? Our side won the scrimmage, to be sure, but Al Qaeda, our worthy adversary, played good and hard—and you have to respect that. Maybe someone can start marketing postcards with a crashed plane surrounded by an American flag and an Al Qaeda logo.

If you think that’s an outlandish analogy, you’ve probably forgotten that Pickett’s charge was after all a suicide mission, differing only by degrees from Mohammed Atta’s. And if you find yourself nauseated and bewildered at the Muslims who cheered 9/11 from the West Bank and Gaza (or Jersey City), maybe you’ve forgotten William Faulkner’s description of Pickett’s charge from his 1948 novel, Intruder in the Dust:

For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it's still not yet two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it's all in the balance, it hasn't happened yet, it hasn't even begun yet, it not only hasn't begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances.…This time. Maybe this time with all this much to lose and all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago....

The operative words are “desperate and unbelievable.” No one could reasonably have believed that Pickett’s charge could have succeeded at any earthly goal. Nothing was going to be gained by it, except in a notional and fantasized universe essentially indistinguishable from the Islamist paradise of the “72 virgins.” But if Faulkner is to be believed, a whole generation of Southern lads grew up admiring Pickett to the point of interiorizing and wishing to emulate his suicidal desires. How different is that, really, from the kids in Pakistan or Nigeria or wherever touting their Osama bin Laden T-shirts?

Examples of this sort should make us pause to think about the ways in which the iconography of the Confederacy lives essentially uncontested in the American landscape and imagination. Drive west or south across the country—or for that matter, down into south Jersey (since southern Jersey is debatably south of the Mason-Dixon line, southern Jerseyans fought for the Confederacy, and New Jersey was the only northern state Lincoln didn’t carry in 1860)—and you see the Stars and Bars defiantly littering the landscape. No one is ostracized for flying it or sticking it on anything, as they certainly would be if they painted or stuck “Go Al Qaeda!” on the side of their barn or the back of their pickup.

In Richmond, you can visit the Museum of the Confederacy; in New Orleans, there’s the Confederate Civil War Museum. Nothing untoward about either place, right?

And why should there be? Not long ago, the Stars and Bars fluttered proudly over the South Carolina statehouse (as it did in Georgia and I believe, still does in part in Mississippi), and it took the longest and loudest of protracted battles to induce its champions to take it down. A blast from the past of the nearly-forgotten South Carolina conflict reminds us of its tenor:

Inflammatory remarks by state senator Arthur Ravenel made national headlines in Jan. 2000 when he defended the flying of the Southern Cross, referring to the NAACP as the "the National Association of Retarded People." He then apologized to "retarded people" for associating them with the NAACP. At the time of the February Republican presidential primary, party differences on the issue were thrown in sharp relief: the Republican contenders declined to take a stand except to say that the issue was a state matter; the Democrats were outspokenly against the flag remaining.

They call it the Party of Lincoln.

But then, we have in the Republican Party an Attorney General who admires the “heritage” of the Confederacy in Southern Partisan magazine, praising the “patriots” Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. And Ashcroft was in good Republican company there, appearing in Southern Partisan alongside such moral luminaries as Trent Lott, Jesse Helms and Dick Armey. It’s funny how conservatives never seem to notice the cultural relativism involved when Southern traitors magically become “patriots” and when their treason is justified in the name of specifically “Southern values.”

Meanwhile, we have state forests devoted to the loving memory of Nathan Bedford Forrest (a founder of the Ku Klux Klan), schools named after Robert E. Lee, honor societies named after Jefferson Davis, and a historical society devoted to the praise of the mass murderer William Clark Quantrill. And don’t get those Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy mad by suggesting that we do away with any of these embarrassing archaisms. That would hurt their feelings, and when Confederates climb aboard the multiculturalist bandwagon, that’s the last thing you want to do.

As various right-wingers manufacture increasingly desperate and embarrassing excuses for the “right to secession,” Lincoln-bashing has come back in vogue. And while people are willing to debate whether Ronald Reagan belongs on Mt. Rushmore, no one much cares to remember that Mt. Rushmore was itself the creation of an ardent member of the Ku Klux Klan (see Simon Schama’s Landscape and Memory). As for Reagan’s views on the Botha government in South Africa, or on the ANC or apartheid generally, let’s not go there. Why should we try to remember what his eulogists have so assiduously induced us to forget?

Reflecting on all this, I think I have an answer to the “Why don’t Muslims condemn terrorism?” question that is snappier than most. Let’s try it in Letterman format.

Muslims don’t condemn terrorism for the same reason that:

10. Americans can’t condemn the firing on Fort Sumter 140 years after the fact.

9. Americans think Gettysburg was a tie.

8. So many Americans proudly fly and defend the Stars and Bars.

7. Americans open museums in praise of the Confederacy.

6. Americans have an Attorney General who is an admirer of the Confederacy.

5. Members of the so-called Party of Lincoln defend a flag of treason and spit in the face of its founder.

4. Americans still admire Confederate traitors and outlaws like Lee and Quantrill.

3. Mt. Rushmore still exists.

2. Ronald Reagan was able to find excuses for apartheid in “African tribalism,” while his eulogists have now chosen, en masse, to forget that moment and dozens like them.

But the real #1 reason that Muslims don’t condemn terrorism is that moral evasion is not a uniquely Muslim trait, but a human capacity practiced everywhere by everyone--especially by those at war with themselves, unable to admit it, and unable to come to resolution about it. If Americans looked harder at their own Civil War, I suspect, they might see that more clearly. But, despite the vast profusion of books, articles and pamphlets on the topic, despite the popularity of Ken Burns’s Civil War film, despite the pious lectures we hear about the evils of racism and the value of “multiculturalism,” Americans cannot seem to stare the facts of the Civil War (what to speak of Reconstruction) directly in the face even after 140 years, without swathing it in euphemism, rationalization, and outright lies. That is why their criticisms of Muslim euphemism, rationalization and dishonesty ring so hollow.

“There was a right side and a wrong side in the late war,” said Frederick Douglass, thirteen years after the fact, on “Decoration Day” (what we now call Memorial Day),

which no sentiment ought to cause us to forget, and while to-day we should have malice toward none, and charity toward all, it is no part of our duty to confound right and wrong, or loyalty with treason. If the observance of this memorial day has any apology, office, or significance, it is derived from the moral character of the war, from the far-reaching, unchangeable and eternal principles in dispute, and for which our sons and brothers encountered hardship, danger, and death. [“There Was a Right Side in the Late War,” speech delivered at Union Square, New York, May 30, 1878, in Frederick Douglass: Selected Speeches and Writings, ed., Philip S. Foner, abridged and adapted by Yuval Taylor, p. 632.]

It’s futile to expect Muslims to come to terms with their past if we can’t come to terms with ours. We can’t demand “the arduous work of reconstruction from within” (William Bennett’s phrase) from a position of moral ambivalence about our own Civil War and Reconstruction. Nor is there any sense to blustering about “taking on the Muslim extremists at every point,” when the Attorney General of the United States holds his office after literally confounding “right and wrong” and “loyalty with treason.” Ultimately, “the moral character” of our Civil War and theirs is the same: The key to understanding why Muslims don’t criticize terrorism is to ask why we don’t criticize the historical equivalent; the key to understanding why we fight is to understand why we fought.



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John Olerud - 9/7/2010

I read a headline today on CNN "Woman facing stoning in Iran has been whipped." It is futile to expect a society that fosters such medieval cruelty on women in the modern age to criticize mass murder. Their is no moral equivalence between Islam and the west because their is no moral equivalence between civility and barbarity.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Thanks, Mr. Khawaja, for not trying to revive the foolish and historically unsupportable notion that contemporary American attitudes towards Pickett, Fort Sumter, and the Confederacy, in the 1860s, are in any substantive way relevant to a discussion of contemporary Moslem attitudes towards Bin Laden, 9-11, and suicidal mass-murder, in 2000-04. All hypocrisies are not alike.




Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


If I were posting on a Philosophy website, I would pay attention to what people more knowledgeable about that discipline than I have to say. But I am not. I am instead an American and a historian defending my country and my field against some very flaky thinking on a oft twisted website that purports to be about history but is not. In my humble opinion that end justifies a FEW means that go slightly beyond normal polite exchanges of opinions.

What one of the most important and influential persons of all human history had to say about a contemporary event is not comparable to what a lower echelon museum assistant wrote about an event 140 years ago before his time. This is matter of apples and oranges. It is matter of historical perspective vs contemporary observation, something about which college history students used to learn and about which some supposed college professors are evidently incapable of learning.

A apples to apples comparison, on the other hand, might be the position taken by Thomas Jefferson against his CONTEMPORARY enemies versus Bin Laden's stance against what he sees as his CONTEMPORARY adversaries.

In the American Declaration of Independence Jefferson wrote: "The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations...He has kept among us, in times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our legislatures...quartering large bodies of armed troops among us...He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign mercenaries to compleat the works of death...”

Bin Laden’s principal and oft-repeated grievance is the presence of foreign military forces in his home country. For him to work against this can hardly be considered unjust. If it were, Jefferson could be regarded as even more unjust, since his “country” was in fact only an objective in 1776, not an internationally recognized sovereign entity. While Jefferson is certainly not considered today as having been just, for example, in his personal dealings with African-American slaves, most Americans would take umbrage at having their Declaration of Independence regarded as an unjust cause.

Furthermore, I think even most American 10 year olds could tell you why Jefferson’s just cause in 1776, and the somewhat similar just cause of the attackers of Fort Sumter in 1861, as well as the more similar cause of Bin Laden after 1991, do not mean that all the various means used in the pursuit of those three just causes are morally sanctioned simply by virtue of their serving just causes.

With self-appointed spokesmen like Mr. Khawaja, is it any wonder that American Moslems are reticent to speak up as Moslems ? While I would certainly not endorse any kind of Daniel Pipesian collective guilt by association, I will remember “The College of New Jersey” and “Montclair State University”. There are standards below which even lower tier institutions ought not to sink.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I would agree with the basic proposition that combating hypocrisy starts at home. One of the best, and probably the most ignored, ways to prevent further recruitment of Islamic suicide fanatics is to stop coddling the pretense that mass murderers are warriors or that terrorism, kidnapping, and cold-blooded murder of civilians is war.

That said, it is also worth noting a few distinctions between Philosophy, History and Arithmetic:

1. History is based on facts, not just opinions or judgments. The fall of Fort Sumter is an important fact probably best understood without making sure that every sentence in a commemorative exhibit on it passes a litmus test of simplistic moral rectitude.

2. Historians seek to put episodic evidence into a plausible context. It makes no more sense to evaluate Moslems on the basis of few crackpots celebrating 9-11 from rooftops in New Jersey than it does to evaluate Christianity based on the actions of David Koresh. Nor can any historical insight be expected from by apples and oranges and fruit bats comparisons between what a few dozen crazed individuals do today and either the opinions of billions of Moslems about the U.S. today or the opinions of millions of Americans today about a war fought 140 years ago.

3. 600,000 / 3,000 = 200, not 20. Always. Regardless of ethnicity, religion, departmental affiliation, or degree of proof-reading.

4. If Lincoln had spent his time worrying about the fact that Jefferson had slaves or that Washington became “first in war” though the military support of a despotic regime in France, he would never have had time to lead the country through the Civil War, let alone achieve victory in it.

5. Pickett wore a uniform and did not slaughter civilians.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Your first point, Mr. Khawaja is based on a misunderstanding. I did not say that Lincoln or anything he ever said was simplistic. I said that micro-analyzing the wording on a museum plaque in order to see if it matches a simplified notion of what someone else said 14 decades earlier was simplistic. As I think my original point 4 made clear, Lincoln himself had little time for such sophomoric pseudo-history. I will, however, leave to others to judge which of us was trying to "score cheap points" with faulty arithmetic, and which one was simply exposing such sloppy tactics.

Your final point suggests that hundreds of years of western civilization and international jurisprudence are worthless "cosmetics". What good are Geneva conventions on the rules of war, in that case, if all forms of war are not only identical to each other but identical to terrorism as well ? All is fair if the cause is just ? All is foul if the ultimate objective is unjust ? The ends justify the means ? This is the logic of Bin Laden.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Well, it is indeed a relief to learn that Mr. Khawaja is not a Moslem. I obviously leapt to an incorrect conclusion there. Since he offers us no information as to his religious background or other connection to, or reason for, a claimed familiarity with Islam, we are left only with the evidence on this page of a very weird and certainly unAmerican system of beliefs (despite his reverence for Lincoln with which I have no quarrel.) In light of the many news reports recently (due to the 9-11 anniversary) about Moslems forthrightly condemning the terrorism committed in their name, it is reassuring that they are are not being discredited here in even the remotest fashion due to even the slightest relation to ridiculous and ignorant notions that Pickett was a suicide terrorist or Robert A Lee no better than Osama. If Mr. Khawaja would bother to study history rather than simply and very stubbornly abuse the living daylights out of it, he might arrive at the ten-year-old's obvious truth: legitimate grievances can be pursued by very illegitimate and horrific means, and that all historical examples of such hypocrisy are not identical. By the way, nowhere I did I ever say that Al Qaeda's cause is just, but I guess that someone quick to accuse others of "cheap shots" can be equally quick to indulge in such tactics. I must object however to the use of outright lies. Americans, despite their many faults, are, incidentally, less tolerant of lies than other peoples. As for Princeton, it is a very fine and brilliant place, most of the time, but I am reminded now of the interesting transcript of Brooke Shields (who was awarded a BA from that humanly fallible institution without a single course in math, science, any of the social sciences, humanities, literature, or history, or some approximation of the preceeding list).


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


I meant Robert E. Lee


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Thanks. Nice to hear from someone with a decent respect for and knowledge of history, for a change.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Good, Mr. Khawaja. Then please drop your absurd and ahistorical attempts to draw parallels between mostly symbolic American hypocrisy about the immoral but not murderous Confederacy of 140 years ago and the indiscriminate monsters of contemporary Islamic terrorism, which nobody, even on this weird website, is buying. Confederate flag-wavers and Islamic mass-murderers are both very much in the wrong, on that basic point you are right, but they have very little else in common. They are basically two separate items for discussion.

Why not stick to what you know best ? Just because other non-historians make ridiculous analogies here all the time, that is no reason why you have to do likewise.


John Edward Philips - 9/19/2006

Then what is this?


andy mahan - 9/19/2006

Irfan, How can you withstand the constant threat of an orange alert? I am so very sorry that you must live under that kind of perpetual pressure. Wait a minute I'm living under an orange alert too...Hey, I aughta...

Regardless, I think Udi's post that, "Terrorism is a real threat for all of us, not just an academic plaything for you to practice your postmodernism 101 on." has merit. Many academitians DO discuss terrorism from the comfort of their campuses when they couldn't possibly know the terror of those that are experiencing the violence.


andy mahan - 9/19/2006

It is obvious why Muslims don't condemn terrorism. They are afraid to break with their brothers and potentially weaken the perceived theocentric strength of Islam. Currently Islam has provided the only cohesive common bond in the Middle-east (a circumstance that the middle east has a long history of failing to achieve). Secondly, those that would express the immorality of terrorism are afraid that they might induce some wacko who misunderstands the prescriptions of the Koran and believes that they are doing the work of Allah, to kill the misdirected heretic.


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

You may not have found the condemnation, but it's there. Read harder next time.

I don't see why terrorism is more of a threat to you than it is to me. The first line of my essay mentions that my part of the country is under Orange Alert.

Having first mistaken me for a Muslim, you've now mistaken me for a postmodernist. Actually, in the essay itself I describe my position as "moral realism," which is the polar opposite of postmodernism. Get serious!


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

I don't think my first point is based on a misunderstanding. Lincoln's statement makes the Confederates responsible for Fort Sumter. The website tries desperately to avoid an ascription of responsibility for Fort Sumter. The two things are simply incompatible with one another, and significantly so. You keep talking about an "oversimplification," but I have yet to learn what it's supposed to be. Some things are straightforward, and this is one of them.

As for the "cheap point", I am waiting to hear your answer to what I actually said about it. Recall that you didn't quite stop with the claim that I had misdivided 600,000 by 3000 (which, though immaterial to my argument, was a fair enough criticism, and which I readily accepted). You then added: "Always. Regardless of ethnicity, religion, departmental affiliation, or degree of proof-reading." I'm curious to hear your explanation of the purpose of that latter addition. Had I said something to suggest that I thought the rules of mathematics don't apply universally?

As to your latter comment, I wouldn't quite say that ALL is fair if the cause is just, but all is fair so long as it is genuinely required for the success of the cause. As to your more specific questions:

Do the "ends justify the means"? Yes. What else justifies a "means" but the end to which it is a means?

Is "all foul" if the cause is unjust? Yes.

What good are the Geneva Conventions or rules of war? No good if one takes them to be absolutely binding prohibitions that override strategically-required tactics. But generally speaking, they do some good: they prevent our soldiers from being brutalized by the enemy, and they prevent our soldiers from brutalizing the enemy for its own sake. Again, generally the Conventions do bind us, because it is rare that any just cause calls for strategies that would require their violation. But I would not have wished the Geneva Conventions on someone staging a slave revolt, for instance, where the nature of the cause requires the targeting of civilians. And if anyone thinks that, say, Hiroshima or Nagasaki were immoral because they violated "the rules of war," my response is that I regard that as a reductio ad absurdum of the absoluteness of the "rules of war."

I didn't say that all forms of war are identical to each other or to terrorism. You'd only get to that conclusion if you somehow had ignored the difference between just and unjust causes. Not a minor difference. Wars can be differentiated by the justice of the cause for the sake of which they're undertaken. Do so, and you see rather large differences between them.

As for its being "the logic of bin Laden," if Osama bin Laden would like to affirm what I've said here, I will not for that reason deny it. But then, if Osama bin Laden had told me that I'd misdivided 600,000 by 3,000 I wouldn't have denied that, either. The only problem Osama bin Laden has is that his cause is unjust. I'm happy to agree with him on anything else.


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

I don't recall disowning my "foolish and historically unsupportable" notion. I don't recall your successfully explaining what was foolish and historically unsupportable about it, either.


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Another relevant article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/09/international/middleeast/09arabiya.html


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

The mosques we were discussing in the thread were American. The ones that the National Review article discusses are not American. So the article provides no counter-evidence to what I was saying.

I know that many non-American Muslims believe that 9/11 was perpetrated by Jews or Israelis. But only a tiny and insignificant minority of American ones do. If you have any evidence to back up your claim that I'm wrong about that, feel free to provide it. But the fact is, there is a significant difference between the attitudes of the American and non-American Muslim populations, as I've said elsewhere in this discussion--something that I think I know a little more about than you, since I've lived in the relevant communities, speak or understand some of the relevant languages, was brought up in the relevant religion, have worshipped in the relevant mosques, and have friends and relatives who still do. Take any mosque anywhere on earth: I think I'd blend in and you wouldn't, regardless of my "ivory tower" affiliations. So I don't think you're going to get very far calling me "insulated from the facts." I'm in touch with the facts in a first-hand way that neither you nor Stalinsky are, and have been in touch with them for decades, long before 9/11 ever took place.

As for "denial," to the best of my knowledge, I am the only person at HNN who has ever dug up the obscure Washington Post reference to Muslim celebrations of 9/11 in Jersey City, and made a point of drawing attention to it. I'm one of a tiny handful of people who has made a point of doing the legwork to study the rumors about Muslim celebrations of 9/11 in the US and write about it. I'm also one of a small handful of ex-Muslims who's loudly and repeatedly drawn attention to the problem of Muslim anti-Semitism in my writings. So what is it that you think I'm in denial about?

I have no problem admitting facts. I do have a problem with mythologies, whether anti-Muslim or otherwise.


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

To address what you regard as the outstanding issue: I sympathize with the fear of moderate Muslims partly because some of them face physical reprisal, but even where that is not at issue, because it's such a gigantic, thankless job. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be done, but I can sympathize with someone who dreads the prospect of doing it. This article indicates what has to be done. For instance, I would hate to be Javed Akhtar, even if the threat against him is a bluff:

http://www.newstatesman.com/nscoverstory.htm


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Mr Martin--

Sorry to take so long to reply to you. You raise some reasonable issues, and I do intend to respond. For now I'll respond to criticisms I regard as legitimate. In a separate post, I'll rebut what I disagree with.

On two-and-a-half of the points you raise, I have to admit to some mistakes:

Re Nathan Bedford Forrest, you are right; I should have described him as an early leader of the Klan, not a founder.

Re item #5 on my top ten list, you are also correct in your criticism; I meant to say "namesake," not "founder."

That's two concessions, and the half concession concerns your point about the "Stars and Bars." I'll admit your factual point, but I don't really consider it a criticism. Whatever the strict differences between the Confederate battle flag and the "Stars and Bars," I was using "Stars and Bars" loosely to refer to all flags resembling the Confederate battle flag, in the way that this site does, and as has now become common.

http://www.usflag.org/confederate.stars.and.bars.html

I don't know any other word or phrase for "all flags resembling..." so that's why I used "Stars and Bars." No, it is not technically correct, but it gets the meaning across.

I don't accept any of your other criticisms, but I'll get to that later.


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

To Peter Clarke--

1. Yes, history is based on facts, but historiography is also based on moral judgments, which are themselves based on facts. The relevant moral judgment in this case is Lincoln's, and your description of what he said in his Inaugural Address of 1861 as "simplistic" is a textbook case of the fallacy of begging the question. I don't think it's "simplistic"; I think it's right.

2. I am not sure anyone intentionally puts facts into an "implausible" context, and your little homily on this subject tells me nothing about any implausibility in my analysis. My point is that while most Muslims are not particularly sympathetic to terrorism--as most Americans are not particularly sympathetic to the Confederacy--Muslims, like Americans, are equally susceptible to moral evasion and moral complacency, and both things explain their incapacity to offer consistent moral judgments of phenomena that demand such judgments.

3. Yes, you are right about the math, but if you rise above the need to score cheap points, you will quickly grasp that my mathematical error actually strengthens my thesis. If the Confederacy was responsible for 200 times the casualties of Al Qaeda, that makes them worse than if they were responsible for 20 times the casualties. And the worse they are, the worse it is to make excuses for them.

4. I do not see the relevance of this point to anything I said, unless your point is that we should cease to think about the intersection of history and justice altogether.

5. Contrary to the consensus view on such things, I do not regard Pickett's wearing a uniform as a morally significant fact. The people that Lee's army killed were civilians before they had to fight Lee. The fact that they were all wearing uniforms at the time is a cosmetic fact, not a morally significant one. The essential fact is that Lee's cause was unjust, as is Osama bin Laden's, and it doesn't much matter whether the people they kill are "civilians" or "soldiers." The overriding fact is that they are human beings unjustly killed, a fact not mitigated in any way by the clothes they were wearing when they met their deaths.


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

I don't disagree. My point is that the underlying explanation for both reasons you give is the reason I give: the civil war taking place within Islam about the nature of Islam.


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Ephraim--

Thanks. I don't really disagree with what you're saying; we're just addressing slightly different issues.

One distinction worth making is that between Muslims in the "Muslim world" and Muslims outside of it. What you say in your first paragraph (following Taheri) applies to the first category, not the second. Muslims in the US do not face issues of excommunication, death penalties, or central theological authority in any serious way. And yet the complaint is often made that they don't go far enough to condemn Islamic terrorism. There is a grain of truth to that complaint, and my point is that the underlying dynamic involved is similar to that involved in the Confederate case. The real explanation is a psycho-political one, not a purely political one. (Historians may shy away from discussing psychology, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't play a role in motivating what people do.) Taheri's point is truer for Muslims in the "Muslim world," but even there, I am a slightly skeptical. Things are not so far gone even in Muslims countries that condemnations of terrorism should raise questions of excommunication, death penalties, and the like. I think the explanation lies elsewhere.

You're right that Confederate nostalgia is less *dangerous* than Islamist extremism. Fair enough. But my point is that dangerous or not, there is something odd (and hypocritical) about American attitudes toward Muslim complacency toward terrorism. Muslim complacency about terrorism is not the sui generis phenomenon that Americans have made it into; it is continuous with the analogous *American* phenomenon vis-a-vis the Confederacy. Americans expect Muslims to make unequivocal moral judgments about Islamic doctrine, Islamic history, and the relationship between those things and terrorism. The standard complaint is that every Muslim condemnation of terrorism is accompanied by an "if" or a "but." OK, but the very same Americans are themselves incapable of making the same sorts of judgments in the case of American history and its relation to the American present. They are asking of Muslims a form of moral discernment that they have not themselves been able to deliver on in 140 years. (By the way, I think this is related to the excessive optimism with which Americans have thought they could "liberate" Iraq. Only someone who forgot that the liberation of African Americans took 100 years, from 1865 to 1965, could think that Iraq could be liberated by the sheer appearance of the US military.)

Last point: I think you're somewhat understating the influence of Confederate nostalgia and iconography in American life. You mention "subcultures," but the Attorney General is not merely the member of a subculture, and the fact that state parks and public schools are named after Confederate "heroes" indicates more than the mere prejudices of a small subculture. So does the vehemence of the Republican Party's willingness to defend the Confederate flag. What these things indicate is an overall normalization of the Confederacy in American discourse. There is a similar phenomenon among Muslims. And while I agree that there are differences between the two cases, the similarities still seem striking to me.


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

To belabor the point slightly, consider this article in today's Wall Street Journal about Beslan:

http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110005577

I perfectly well agree with what the Journal is saying about Beslan and Muslim reticience on that score. But now consider this passage from it:
---
Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, explained the Administration's effort to de-legitimize terrorism in a speech last spring at the University of Chicago. "The world should view terrorism as it views the slave trade, piracy on the high seas and genocide," he said, "as activities that no respectable person condones, much less supports."
---

Feith is right, but you cannot successfully delegitimize terrorism in the way he has in mind if the Attorney General of your country has kind (and unretracted) words to say about the Confederacy. There is in Feith's remarks an assumption that "we" have long since completed the task that the Muslims have yet to embark on. That is what I'm contesting. We haven't completed it; we're much more complacent about it than we realize, and it is facile to make demands of Muslims without realizing how ruthless and confrontational one has to be in practice to bear them out.


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Oh come now. Is it really so hard to find my publishments? Actually, in America, I think they call them "publications," but as a foreigner in this land, I'd be the last to know what to call them, so I'll take my cue from you.

For my condemnation of 9/11, go to http://publicleaders.tcnj.edu, click "Events and Publications," then go to "Forum on the Current Crisis," where you'll find my Nov. 1, 2001 talk, "How Not to Explain Sept. 11." I thought it was pretty unequivocal.

When you're done with that, please go out and buy this book:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1591020689/qid=1095199144/sr=8-1/ref=pd_ksr_1/002-3964021-3781631?v=glance&;s=books&n=507846

My essay in it talks about 9/11. I rather like it, and hope you will, too. We're trying to increase sales.

As for criticism of other instances of Islamic terrorism, you could read any one of these:

http://www.secularislam.org/articles/khawaja9.htm
http://www.secularislam.org/articles/khawaja18.htm
http://www.muslimworldtoday.com/divest.htm

Here's an article of mine that attacks every form of terrorism I can think of:

http://www.solohq.com/Articles/Khawaja/No_Such_Link_Domestic_Political_Protest_and_Terrorism.shtml

Did I leave anything out?

If what you want are criticisms of the ideology behind Islamic terrorism, you could read these:

http://www.secularislam.org/articles/khawaja13.htm
http://www.secularislam.org/articles/khawaja14.htm

How about an attack on the Taliban? Try this:

http://hnn.us/articles/5245.html

Is your criticism that I'm not tough enough in the war on terrorism? Well, at least I'm tougher than Michael Ignatieff:

http://hnn.us/articles/4997.html

Now, don't you feel silly saying that my condemnations of terrorism are so hard to find?

And don't you feel silly speculating about my biography when it turns out that (a) I was born in Jersey City, NJ [you would have grasped this if you had read my essay since I mention it] and have lived my whole life in the US, (b) I'm not an Arab, (c) the sum total of the time I have spent in an Arab country is a week?

To Andy Mahan: I never said that I was living in great dread about the Orange Alert. But if the criticism is supposed to be that Khawaja is not aware of the terrorist threat, why is Khawaja any less prone to it than anyone else would be? If an Orange Alert indicates a threat, and I'm in it, I'm as much or as little subject to the threat as anyone else is. "Academics discuss terrorism from the comfort of campuses." Since when are college campuses immune to violence or terrorism? I can't speak for other academics, but I can certainly point out that as far as I'm concerned, Mr Mauzner has no idea what he's talking about.


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Actually, I know that you're wrong. I also know that you're doing exactly what the "blame it on the Jews"-Muslims do when confronted with unpalatable facts: they invent conspiracy theories in the hopes that the facts will go away.


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Thanks. I couldn't get your "Insight" link to work, but I don't doubt the main point there, which is the Wahhabi influence on American mosques. Saw it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears growing up.


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Wow. I couldn't have said it better myself (in the literal sense of lacking the capacity to do so). Thanks to you, I don't have to.


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Well, Mr Clarke, I must say that I'm gratified by your response. What would otherwise have been a tedious and masochistic exercise on my part has been made worthwhile by your extraordinary admission that you regard the cause of Al Qaeda as "just," along with that of the Confederacy, and that you regard both causes as being on par with the American Revolution. There is something comical about your claim to be defending "your country" against me after having made such assertions, and something actually hilarious about your ascription to me of "the logic of bin Laden" after explicitly signing on to the justice of his cause. But if there is anything funnier, it is the sight of you trying to construct an argument, to which (abortive) attempt let me now turn.

In your second paragraph, you claim that Lincoln's 1861 address is not comparable to the claims of the Fort Sumter website. The first reason you give is that Lincoln was a contemporary of the event, whereas the website author is a contemporary of ours.

Correct. But so what? The point is that both Lincoln and the website author were writing about precisely the same event, and both were stressing the need to make a moral judgment about them. The question of who was responsible for the aggression against Fort Sumter does not change with time; the answer is precisely the same whether you raise it in 1861 (Lincoln), 1878 (Douglass), or 2004 (me). So your tiresome claim about what I "have not learned" indicates only that you have not grasped the rather obvious fact I've just identified.

You then say that Lincoln was prominent whereas the website author is obscure. This wouldn't really change anything even if it was true, but scrutinized more closely, it turns out to be false. The website author may be obscure, but the website is not: it is an official National Parks Service website, which itself has the imprimatur of the US Dept of the Interior. If you knew anything about how official US website content was generated--and you clearly don't--you would realize that such content does not simply come from anonymous authors and then find its way immediately to a live site. It is vetted by the relevant agency, and responsibility for all content devolves on the head of that agency, in this case on Secretary Gale Norton. The Fort Sumter content is there only because Ms. Norton agrees with its being there. If she had an objection to it, it would not be there. I cited that example, incidentally, because I've had a few years of experience as an editor for a US Dept of Education website (http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/), and I know from first-hand experience how the vetting process works and how controversial website content can be (cf. the recent "charter schools" controversy which involved virtually every principal in the relevant agencies).

As for your comparison of the cause of the American Rev to Al Qaeda, it fails twice over. I personally do not think the Am Rev was entirely justified (given its perpetuation of slavery), but in principle it aimed to create a free republic. Al Qaeda aims to create a theocracy. So there is no coincidence of justice in aims.

Similarly, the American Revolutionaries had legitimate grievances against the British Crown. Al Qaeda has no legitimate grievances whatsoever. The only superficial similarity in their "grievances" is the presence of foreign troops in both America and the KSA. But the troops were in each place for vastly different reasons, acted in vastly different ways, and the complaints against them were vastly different as well. The US troops in the KSA are in any case either gone or leaving, and yet Al Qaeda remains unmollified--which suggests that when you describe the presence of foreign troops in KSA as their "principal" grievance, you have simply swallowed their propaganda hook, line, and sinker. If that were really their principal grievance, it would already have been addressed. Why then do Al Q still want to kill 4 million Americans? Not exactly a minor question, I'd say, but one to which your attempted analysis offers nothing resembling an answer.

Earlier on, you offered a wearisome lecture about how you are a historian concerned only with facts. You might want to reflect on that as you ponder your fatuous assertion that I am a "self-appointed spokesman for Muslims." As it happens, I am neither their self-appointed spokesman, nor a Muslim; indeed, I've never said that I was a spokesman for Muslims, and have explicitly said in various fora that I'm neither. I wouldn't expect you to have read everything I've written on the subject, but I would expect someone speculating out loud about my biography in a pejorative way to know what the hell he was talking about.

As for your comment about "lower tier institutions," apart from the fact that I do occasionally teach at Princeton, I think the preceding discussion should suffice to explain what "tiers" of discourse we each occupy, regardless of institutional affiliation.



Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Actually, you really are an imbecile and I should have said so...unequivocally. The passage you've ascribed to me is a claim that I am refuting in that article, not one I am endorsing. Any honest reader would have seen that, assuming that they were reading rather than skimming. But since I'm clearly dealing here with a complex combination of dishonesty and illiteracy, I bid you adieu at this point.


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Actually, so as not to leave anything to implication, let me quote the few sentences just after the one Mr Mauzner quoted above which by themselves should demonstrate his ineptitude and dishonesty:

"Despite its popularity in certain circles, I think this explanation [the one Mauzner quotes] is an abject failure. It's morally confused, factually unwarranted, and both politically and militarily disastrous in its consequences. What I'll do tonight is to present some of the more obvious objections to it in a nutshell."


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

I genuinely like the first part of your post. Translated, it says: "Khawaja gives no information on his religious background--that's why I felt free to speculate about it, and use my speculations as the basis of various ad hominem attacks on him. The speculations turned out to be false, and I never managed to answer any of his claims, so now I've decided to dredge up the claim that he's not a real American and appended that to the charge that he is liar."

As to your claim that Al Qaeda's cause is just, here is what you said:

"Furthermore, I think even most American 10 year olds could tell you why Jefferson’s just cause in 1776, and the somewhat similar just cause of the attackers of Fort Sumter in 1861, as well as the more similar cause of Bin Laden after 1991, do not mean that all the various means used in the pursuit of those three just causes are morally sanctioned simply by virtue of their serving just causes."

Three causes are named, three are described as just; one of them is Bin Laden's. Your words, not mine, Mr. All American.



Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

THIS is the discussion I really wanted to start.

I agree with Laura Nichol's general point but not her examples. I do think that rank-and-file Muslims have by and large condemned terrorism, including Muslim terrorism. There is no shortage of evidence of this, but you can find innumerable statements by mosques, Islamic groups, journalists, etc. etc. condemning this or that act of terrorism from 9/11 on. But I don't think we can take Hezbullah seriously on this issue. They'd have to start by condemning their own existence and raison d'etre.

Jeffrey Imm is conflating two different points, one legitimate, one not so. He is right to say that moderate Muslims generally have not seen the need for a WAR against radical Islam. But that is different from not CONDEMNING terrorism. That they have done. They have been content to condemn discrete acts without grasping the larger principle, namely that the radicals want to RULE them by force and that they have fight back.

This is why I like my analogy. The Union did not realize the nature of the threat they faced from the Confederacy until very late in the game--until Fort Sumter. But some northerners did grasp it earlier, and some Muslims are starting to grasp it now as well. There are any number of examples, but my own votes would go to Irfan Husain of the Pakistani newspaper "Dawn" followed by Najjam Sethi of the Pakistani newspaper The Friday Times, and Ahmed Rashid (author of "Taliban"), also a Pakistani journalist. (I named Pakistani journalists because I happen to know that milieu best, not because it's the only one I could have chosen.)

I don't fully agree with any of them, but they certainly see the issue as I have described it. The "civil war" I am describing is very much on display in Egypt, Iran and Pakistan (it would be obvious to any observer of politics there), and also seems to be getting slowly under way in some of the Arab countries.

Getting to Ephraim's post, I wouldn't quite put it the way he has. I actually think that most rank-and-file Muslims really do conscientiously condemn terrorism. They are in la-la land, however, about the next step. They think they've done their job if they stand up every time a bomb goes off and wag their fingers, saying "Bad! Bad!". But that's just not going to cut it at this point. We're in a war--THEY're in a war. They have to figure out whose side they want to FIGHT on. That's why I think it's a waste of time to criticize Muslims for not condemning terrorism. They've done that. That also happens to be the easy way out.

But at the same time, I wanted to stress that it's not easy to do what they ought to be doing--it's a lot harder than some facile criticisms of Muslims would suggest, as a look at our own scene suggests. To get a sense of it, imagine working full time against Confederate nostalgia right here (try starting a campaign to change the name of a high school, or to stop the Confederate flag's waving over the state house). It's not a particularly rewarding vocation. In the case of Muslims, the reward is just an unremitting lifetime of abuse. That, in my view, is the real reason why Muslims don't condemn terrorism in the war-like way that's required. They haven't yet seen that it's better to endure an unremitting lifetime of abuse than to do nothing and watch the Islamists take over. It's not an easy realization to make.


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Yes, I do agree with this, though I don't think it really acknowledges what would be required of someone who decided to take the lead. Ruining his life, is the answer.


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Here is a relevant example of the sort of thing I was referring to:

http://www.dawn.com/weekly/mazdak/20040807.htm


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Mr. Battle,

I think you're suffering from a bit of selective memory. Americans tend to remember the Muslims who celebrated 9/11, but they quickly forget the 200,000+ who protested it:

http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/rminiter/?id=95001243

As far as the US is concerned, I can't think of a single mosque or religious group that didn't condemn 9/11, and that doesn't condemn terrorism in some way. I was criticizing Muslims in my essay *despite* my recognition of these facts (see my conversation with Mr. Imm). You seem to be criticizing Muslims but insisting on *not* recognizing them.


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Actually, I did condemn Islamic terrorism in the article, and I've condemned it dozens of other places besides. That should answer all of your other questions.

By the way, I am not a believing Muslim. Neither is my brother.


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Mr. Clarke--

I don't see anything remotely resembling an argument in your just-preceding remark, so I'm afraid there's nothing in it to respond to, except to say just that. The fact that no one "buys" an analogy tells us nothing about the analogy; it's consistent with the possibility that the "buyers" are lacking in discernment. The criteria for good analogies are at any rate different from those of a popularity contest.

I'll respond to your other comment when I get the chance. Not being omnipotent, I haven't gotten to it yet. If your tone is an indication of your impatience on that score, rest assured I will get to it when I can manage.


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Ephraim--

We're not disagreeing on that issue, then.


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Mr. Imm--

A couple of clarifications. First, you're preaching a bit to the choir here (of which I'm a member). I'm AGREEING with you that Muslims have been deficient in recognizing the stakes in the fight against terrorism, fundamentalism, etc.

Second, I'm not making excuses for Muslims. I'm not a believing Muslim and have no incentive to do so. On the contrary, if you go back and read my essay, the third paragraph describes Muslims as practicing "rationalization," and as engaged in a "futile pretense." In the penultimate paragraph, I describe those engaged in the pretense as being "dishonest." Somewhere in there I accuse them of "moral evasion." The article from Irfan Husain that I pasted says more of the same.

But as for moderate Christians, I don't share your view. What have moderate Christians done to rid us of John Ashcroft? This is a man who has explicitly lauded the Confederacy in a pro-Confederate magazine, and I meant what I said when I described that as confounding right with wrong and loyalty with treason. There is no other way to describe it. If moderate Christians had the principles you described, they would have been in the forefront of demanding his removal from office. They not only have not done that, they have lined up behind him. When he begins meetings with "No king but Jesus," I don't hear Christians saying, en masse, "This man does NOT represent us." Why not? Because so many of them think he does. It really is hypocritical for such people to pile on Islam. (It is not hypocritical for the rest of us, but it is for them.) They have a mess of their own to clean up, and that is the Republican Right.

As for the Christians' political agenda, you have mischaracterized it. It is not merely the defensive one of protecting Christian rights, but an offensive one (in both senses of "offensive") of Christianizing the country (or "Judeo-Christianizing" it, if need be). The attacks on gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research, and the insistence on "intelligent design" as replacing evolutionary biology in the classroom are all evidence of that. Moderate Christians have done little or nothing, as a group, to stop any of that. It's not terrorism, true. But it's an attack on our rights, and Christians as Christians have done practically nothing to protect us against it. (Your claim that "Christians" vanquished the Nazis, the Klan, etc. is simply ahistorical. If you were talking about the original defeat of both, I'd say that the Allies were not a Christian army, and neither was the US Army led by Grant. If you mean the current fight against them, that is hardly an exclusively "Christian" affair. And if the latter is at issue, let me simply direct your attention to the Pakistani soldiers, police officers, and jurists who are on the front lines of the fight against Al Qaeda--fighting and dying to destroy them. I have yet to see an American newspaper do a human interest story on the survivors of, say, a Pakistani police officer or soldier killed in the fight against terrorism.)

As for my point about "ruining lives," there is a sense in which you are right. People who really believed in an afterlife shouldn't be worried about such things. But that brings us to the rather odd mentality of moderate Muslims themselves. They profess to believe in an afterlife, but what makes them "moderate" is that they don't act that way. (What makes the radicals radical is that they really do.) And that, I think, really does get to the heart of the issue. Moderate Muslims are people who are torn between the demands of Islam and plain old secular life. That is why such people really are motivated by fear of "ruining their lives." Since I don't believe in an afterlife, I sympathize with their fear. It's a fear that any sensible person would have. But I don't sympathize with it enough to want to make excuses for it. And I haven't. My point is that they should stop doing so, too.


Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

To skip to what you're saying on Pakistan, I haven't made up my mind on Aziz. But you're exactly right that Pakistan is ground zero in that respect you describe, and that we have to start treating it that way. One thing we have to do is to stop "maintaining the delicate balance"--exactly as you say. We have to identify specific groups and people in Pakistan as our ideological allies and throw as much of our support behind them as it consistent with their degree of support for us. And yes, whatever his flaws, Musharraf is one of them.

But part of engaging in such an endeavor is to recognize that you can't successfully bring it off if you don't practice what you preach to a *much higher degree* than the people to whom you're preaching. If you point out to the Pakistanis that they have jihadist-friendly people in their government, you can't give them the opportunity to turn around and say, "Well, you've got Bible-thumping Confederate sympathizers in yours!" Right there, you've lost the game, and lost it by your own hand, which is what the US Government seems to excel at doing.


Terry Lenick - 2/7/2006

Dear Mr. Irfan Khawaja:

I must admit that I was quite happy to find your article because it was written by a person brought up in the Muslim faith, albeit in your words “not a believing Muslim”, and with the credentials of a philosophy professor. So that you understand my position or bias, as we all have, I am an American lawyer trained in the judeo-christian democratic culture of the common law. I am also a Christian who wishes no ill on any person or group of persons but believe that defending oneself is Christian in behavior. If I were trying to “win” an argument I would not have told you this. Nevertheless, I believe it is important for us to understand one’s bias. I truly believe all men are created equal and that one may chose and practice one’s religion, be it Christian or otherwise, without interference by the government unless that practice harms another. Do Muslims in Muslim countries believe this?

I was seeking an answer to why most Muslims do not voice an abhorrence to the violence that some Muslims are imposing upon the world. I found your article. Your argument is historical and is based upon America’s Civil War. As an American I have always felt pulled in two different directions by the Civil War. I am against slavery but doesn’t a State have the right to choose if it wanted to remain in the Union? In my own mind I came to the conclusion that the South was legally right but morally wrong. In my own mind I have also come to the conclusion that the North in fact did “invade” the South. Nevertheless, the South’s primary basis for the separation was slavery and the primary basis for the invasion in Lincoln’s mind was anti-slavery. Yes, at the beginning of the war Lincoln hid behind the argument of “union” but it was the moral issue of slavery that kept the Union together for the fight against the South. So, if you lived in the South prior to Martin Luther King you were taught the “legal” theory of the war of states’ rights. If you lived in the North you were taught the “moral” theory of anti-slavery. Today, we are merely trying to sooth the wounds by the current historical rhetoric.

Reference to today’s rhetoric about the Civil War is misleading. It is a discussion about a past event through the eyes of those who did not actually live it. The comparison should not be what people are saying after the war but rather what people were saying during the Civil War. During the Civil War, the rhetoric was intense by those who were against slavery and intense by those who were in favor of “states’ rights”. (The truth be known that states’ have powers not rights. People have the inherent rights.) Nevertheless, it was intense and at least three times before the Civil War, compromises were made to avoid war. Now, let’s view the war during the time that it occurred.

John Brown is an excellent example of terrorism. He is the most analogous example to today’s terrorists. I believe slavery is wrong. Yet the Union jailed and hung John Brown for his attempted terrorism of assaulting a southern town to “free” the slaves. Morally right but legally wrong he employed violence and was hung for it. Should John Brown have been hung? In my opinion, yes. Was he morally correct? Yes. Did his moral ends justify his means? No Did Americans at that time stand up and say it was wrong? Both Northerners and Southerners were against him for his violence, the means that he employed. Likewise, both Northerners and some Southerners were for him in so far as his goal to eradicate slavery from U.S. soil. I would suggest that more Northerners spoke openly against the goals than Southerners who agreed with Brown’s goal of anti-slavery. One could be lynched in the South during those tumultuous years for saying that one was in favor of the North’s anti-slavery position, i.e. the goal or ends sought.

You state that there is a civil war among Muslims. Why do we not hear from the Muslims? What is the Muslims’ ends that they are seeking? In America’s Civil War the South wanted slavery and the North did not. Regardless of the political argument asserted for leaving the Union, such was the true reason for the separation. What is it that the Muslims who attacked us want? What is there goal and do most Muslims agree with that goal? I ask this in all sincerity. Are we not infidels who must be excised according to the Koran? If this is an agreed upon “ends” or goal of all Muslims (Please note that I truly do not know what the goal is for Muslims), aren’t Muslims merely talking about differing means to agreed upon ends. Such a view would beget silence.

Was not John Brown morally correct but the means chosen wrong? I believe so. Would I have rallied around the flag and wanted him to be hanged in those days. No. If I were in the north I would probably say that such an action was done by a religious zealot and did not help the moral cause of freeing slaves. However, I would announce my agreement with his goal, i.e. to free the slaves. I would say that I agreed with the goal but not the means. I would also attempt to alienate myself from his actions and try asserting more peaceful means. Only in defense would I assert force. Such was done in Fort Sumter but only after the Union was attacked. This caused the war with both sides believing that it had a justifiable goal to defend, one moral and one legal.

Mr. Khawaja, what I believe is happening in the Muslim world is that there may be a civil war but it is not over the goal to be achieved, that is the ends, but the means chosen to get to the ends. I believe that unless Muslims talk about the goal sought and expressly state that this goal is wrong then the Muslims’ silence is deafening. For example, if I had lived in the South would I have spoken up against the means but not the goals of John Brown? In other words, would I have acted in the same manner as I described my actions living in the North, that is, say I am against slavery and only disagree as to the means. Of course not. If I had announced in the South that I agreed with the terrorist/John Brown’s goal of ant-slavery during the war, I could have been lynched. So I would have remained silent. Do Muslims agree with the goals of the terrorists? Are they silent because they agree with the goal of the terrorist to make it a Muslim world and treat those who reject the Muslim faith to subservient status or worse? This would be a logical inference from the silence.

What is the goal of the Muslim faith? It is clear that the terrorists want to impose by force a Muslim view on all. As to these terrorists, are Muslims only talking about the means employed and not the goal sought? As to other non-violent Muslims are they not analogous to me living in the South just prior to Civil War, wanting to be silent about John Brown’s improper means but agreeing with his goal, i.e. anti-slavery. Simply put do Muslims agree with the terrorists goals AND their means OR do Muslims agree with the terrorists goals BUT NOT their means? Either way their silence as to the goals of the Muslim faith shows agreement with the terrorist goals. If the goal to change all persons to the Muslim faith or treat those who reject it as infidels or subservient people, then silence backs that pattern of behavior. Like an anti-slavery view in the South during the Civil War years is the antithesis of the Southern viewpoint at that time such an anti-equality view by Muslims in America is the antithesis to everything we as Americans believe. Silence would be the rational approach followed by blaming the action on American policy in order to avoid the truth.

Mr. Khawaja, if the non-terrorist Muslims’ goal of creating a Muslim world are not the identical goal of the terrorists then why do they not stand up and shout that the terrorists are wrong both in their goals and their means? ….or at the very least the means? Your answer may be historical and point to the Crusades of the Christians or the pointing of a finger at another group who may have done a wrong to Muslims or even assert erroneous American policy. However, a historical wrong(depending upon which Crusade) or a bad policy doesn’t make the silence of the Muslims correct. It only attempts to vindicate the wrong, a reprisal for the wrong committed. Lincoln understood this and did not want vengeance on the South after the war. Such was not followed and the immoral action of a few Northerners only caused the strife to continue for a hundred years and delayed the eradication of the moral wrong that Lincoln fought so hard to end: slavery and its venomous basis of pride, i.e. believing one is better than another. I am very much afraid that the Muslims’ reaction to the terrorists is that contained in the adage “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Are Americans who reject the Muslim faith the enemy of Muslims? Are they considered in the Muslim faith to be infidels and unequal? They are if you believe everyone must become Muslims and if they do not then they are to be treated differently and as subservient persons. I am fearful that all men are not created equal under Muslim eyes. In America the goal has always been to assert that all men are created equal no matter how bumpy the means have been to aspire to that goal.

Unless you can prove to me otherwise, I am led to the conclusion that Muslims are silent because their goal is not to treat all men as equal unless they embrace the Muslim faith and that the propagation of the Muslim faith depends upon this inequitable treatment between Muslims and non-Muslims. It forces people to be Muslim in a Muslim country or suffer the consequence of inequality. A Muslim world order is also the goal of the terrorists. If you are honest with yourself I believe that you will have to admit that this goal is one of the goals of Muslims and may be the reason for the Muslims’ silence. If it is not the reason for the Muslims’ silence, then what is? In other words, what is it in the Muslim mind that makes them silent about the terrorists’ goals and the means used to achieve it? Are the terrorists the enemy of my enemy and thus are friends to the Muslims or are they simply friends? The silence of the Muslims is no silence of the lambs. It is an intentional silence brought about for a reason. What is that reason? Prove me ignorant of some fact or facts as will support your proposition that Muslims do not agree with the terrorists goals of creating a Muslim world and are against these goals AND the violent means to achieve these goals. I make this challenge looking at the TV and watching the violence which has erupted over cartoons characterizing Mohammed in an unholy light. I agree with protest only if it is nonviolent but such seems not to be the character of the Muslims involved. I agree with the goal, i.e. to protest the cartoons, but Muslims seem to have a penchant for violent means of achieving their goal. Why? Do Muslims preach that Jews and Christians are infidels and in a Muslim society lesser beings? Mr. Khawaja, what is going on in the mind of the common Muslim when he sees these terrorist acts? What is the goal of the Muslim faith and does it include equality among Jews, Christians and the like? If not, isn’t the silence of the Muslims consistent with this view of the world? Isn’t it the true reason for the silence of the Muslims?


Sincerely,

Mr. Terry Lenick



Terry Lenick - 2/7/2006

Dear Mr. Irfan Khawaja:

I must admit that I was quite happy to find your article because it was written by a person brought up in the Muslim faith, albeit in your words “not a believing Muslim”, and with the credentials of a philosophy professor. So that you understand my position or bias, as we all have, I am an American lawyer trained in the judeo-christian democratic culture of the common law. I am also a Christian who wishes no ill on any person or group of persons but believe that defending oneself is Christian in behavior. If I were trying to “win” an argument I would not have told you this. Nevertheless, I believe it is important for us to understand one’s bias. I truly believe all men are created equal and that one may chose and practice one’s religion, be it Christian or otherwise, without interference by the government unless that practice harms another. Do Muslims in Muslim countries believe this?

I was seeking an answer to why most Muslims do not voice an abhorrence to the violence that some Muslims are imposing upon the world. I found your article. Your argument is historical and is based upon America’s Civil War. As an American I have always felt pulled in two different directions by the Civil War. I am against slavery but doesn’t a State have the right to choose if it wanted to remain in the Union? In my own mind I came to the conclusion that the South was legally right but morally wrong. In my own mind I have also come to the conclusion that the North in fact did “invade” the South. Nevertheless, the South’s primary basis for the separation was slavery and the primary basis for the invasion in Lincoln’s mind was anti-slavery. Yes, at the beginning of the war Lincoln hid behind the argument of “union” but it was the moral issue of slavery that kept the Union together for the fight against the South. So, if you lived in the South prior to Martin Luther King you were taught the “legal” theory of the war of states’ rights. If you lived in the North you were taught the “moral” theory of anti-slavery. Today, we are merely trying to sooth the wounds by the current historical rhetoric.

Reference to today’s rhetoric about the Civil War is misleading. It is a discussion about a past event through the eyes of those who did not actually live it. The comparison should not be what people are saying after the war but rather what people were saying during the Civil War. During the Civil War, the rhetoric was intense by those who were against slavery and intense by those who were in favor of “states’ rights”. (The truth be known that states’ have powers not rights. People have the inherent rights.) Nevertheless, it was intense and at least three times before the Civil War, compromises were made to avoid war. Now, let’s view the war during the time that it occurred.

John Brown is an excellent example of terrorism. He is the most analogous example to today’s terrorists. I believe slavery is wrong. Yet the Union jailed and hung John Brown for his attempted terrorism of assaulting a southern town to “free” the slaves. Morally right but legally wrong he employed violence and was hung for it. Should John Brown have been hung? In my opinion, yes. Was he morally correct? Yes. Did his moral ends justify his means? No Did Americans at that time stand up and say it was wrong? Both Northerners and Southerners were against him for his violence, the means that he employed. Likewise, both Northerners and some Southerners were for him in so far as his goal to eradicate slavery from U.S. soil. I would suggest that more Northerners spoke openly against the goals than Southerners who agreed with Brown’s goal of anti-slavery. One could be lynched in the South during those tumultuous years for saying that one was in favor of the North’s anti-slavery position, i.e. the goal or ends sought.

You state that there is a civil war among Muslims. Why do we not hear from the Muslims? What is the Muslims’ ends that they are seeking? In America’s Civil War the South wanted slavery and the North did not. Regardless of the political argument asserted for leaving the Union, such was the true reason for the separation. What is it that the Muslims who attacked us want? What is there goal and do most Muslims agree with that goal? I ask this in all sincerity. Are we not infidels who must be excised according to the Koran? If this is an agreed upon “ends” or goal of all Muslims (Please note that I truly do not know what the goal is for Muslims), aren’t Muslims merely talking about differing means to agreed upon ends. Such a view would beget silence.

Was not John Brown morally correct but the means chosen wrong? I believe so. Would I have rallied around the flag and wanted him to be hanged in those days. No. If I were in the north I would probably say that such an action was done by a religious zealot and did not help the moral cause of freeing slaves. However, I would announce my agreement with his goal, i.e. to free the slaves. I would say that I agreed with the goal but not the means. I would also attempt to alienate myself from his actions and try asserting more peaceful means. Only in defense would I assert force. Such was done in Fort Sumter but only after the Union was attacked. This caused the war with both sides believing that it had a justifiable goal to defend, one moral and one legal.

Mr. Khawaja, what I believe is happening in the Muslim world is that there may be a civil war but it is not over the goal to be achieved, that is the ends, but the means chosen to get to the ends. I believe that unless Muslims talk about the goal sought and expressly state that this goal is wrong then the Muslims’ silence is deafening. For example, if I had lived in the South would I have spoken up against the means but not the goals of John Brown? In other words, would I have acted in the same manner as I described my actions living in the North, that is, say I am against slavery and only disagree as to the means. Of course not. If I had announced in the South that I agreed with the terrorist/John Brown’s goal of ant-slavery during the war, I could have been lynched. So I would have remained silent. Do Muslims agree with the goals of the terrorists? Are they silent because they agree with the goal of the terrorist to make it a Muslim world and treat those who reject the Muslim faith to subservient status or worse? This would be a logical inference from the silence.

What is the goal of the Muslim faith? It is clear that the terrorists want to impose by force a Muslim view on all. As to these terrorists, are Muslims only talking about the means employed and not the goal sought? As to other non-violent Muslims are they not analogous to me living in the South just prior to Civil War, wanting to be silent about John Brown’s improper means but agreeing with his goal, i.e. anti-slavery. Simply put do Muslims agree with the terrorists goals AND their means OR do Muslims agree with the terrorists goals BUT NOT their means? Either way their silence as to the goals of the Muslim faith shows agreement with the terrorist goals. If the goal to change all persons to the Muslim faith or treat those who reject it as infidels or subservient people, then silence backs that pattern of behavior. Like an anti-slavery view in the South during the Civil War years is the antithesis of the Southern viewpoint at that time such an anti-equality view by Muslims in America is the antithesis to everything we as Americans believe. Silence would be the rational approach followed by blaming the action on American policy in order to avoid the truth.

Mr. Khawaja, if the non-terrorist Muslims’ goal of creating a Muslim world are not the identical goal of the terrorists then why do they not stand up and shout that the terrorists are wrong both in their goals and their means? ….or at the very least the means? Your answer may be historical and point to the Crusades of the Christians or the pointing of a finger at another group who may have done a wrong to Muslims or even assert erroneous American policy. However, a historical wrong(depending upon which Crusade) or a bad policy doesn’t make the silence of the Muslims correct. It only attempts to vindicate the wrong, a reprisal for the wrong committed. Lincoln understood this and did not want vengeance on the South after the war. Such was not followed and the immoral action of a few Northerners only caused the strife to continue for a hundred years and delayed the eradication of the moral wrong that Lincoln fought so hard to end: slavery and its venomous basis of pride, i.e. believing one is better than another. I am very much afraid that the Muslims’ reaction to the terrorists is that contained in the adage “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Are Americans who reject the Muslim faith the enemy of Muslims? Are they considered in the Muslim faith to be infidels and unequal? They are if you believe everyone must become Muslims and if they do not then they are to be treated differently and as subservient persons. I am fearful that all men are not created equal under Muslim eyes. In America the goal has always been to assert that all men are created equal no matter how bumpy the means have been to aspire to that goal.

Unless you can prove to me otherwise, I am led to the conclusion that Muslims are silent because their goal is not to treat all men as equal unless they embrace the Muslim faith and that the propagation of the Muslim faith depends upon this inequitable treatment between Muslims and non-Muslims. It forces people to be Muslim in a Muslim country or suffer the consequence of inequality. A Muslim world order is also the goal of the terrorists. If you are honest with yourself I believe that you will have to admit that this goal is one of the goals of Muslims and may be the reason for the Muslims’ silence. If it is not the reason for the Muslims’ silence, then what is? In other words, what is it in the Muslim mind that makes them silent about the terrorists’ goals and the means used to achieve it? Are the terrorists the enemy of my enemy and thus are friends to the Muslims or are they simply friends? The silence of the Muslims is no silence of the lambs. It is an intentional silence brought about for a reason. What is that reason? Prove me ignorant of some fact or facts as will support your proposition that Muslims do not agree with the terrorists goals of creating a Muslim world and are against these goals AND the violent means to achieve these goals. I make this challenge looking at the TV and watching the violence which has erupted over cartoons characterizing Mohammed in an unholy light. I agree with protest only if it is nonviolent but such seems not to be the character of the Muslims involved. I agree with the goal, i.e. to protest the cartoons, but Muslims seem to have a penchant for violent means of achieving their goal. Why? Do Muslims preach that Jews and Christians are infidels and in a Muslim society lesser beings? Mr. Khawaja, what is going on in the mind of the common Muslim when he sees these terrorist acts? What is the goal of the Muslim faith and does it include equality among Jews, Christians and the like? If not, isn’t the silence of the Muslims consistent with this view of the world? Isn’t it the true reason for the silence of the Muslims?


Sincerely,

Mr. Terry Lenick



Andre Zantonavitch - 9/19/2004

Why don't Moslems condemn terrorism? Because they're slime. That's it. That's all you have to know.

No doubt many or even most are quasi-decent individuals -- at least on some level. It's hard to say. It depends what you mean. But there's NO doubt that they come from a grossly inferior society and culture.

Islam is a very different religion than judaism, christianity, mormonism, and moonyism. The first two, for instance, were created in order to destroy reason and philosophy. As such, they had to incorporate many elements of the hugely civilized, truly virtuous, highly RATIONAL culture of Greece and Rome. Otherwise they wouldn't have been plausible and competitive intellectually.

Islam, on the other hand, was created out of the Dark Age. It was a product of the horror and terror of church "doctors" Tertullian and Jerome. It was the raw evil of "saint" Augustine raised to a whole new level (heavily aided by fanatical jews).

But it's even worse than this. Moslems never had a Reformation in response to the Reasonist ascent of the Renaisssance and Enlightenment.

And it's even worse than this. Virtually all moslems live in dictatorships. This lets them put the most uncivilized, destructive, and terrible elements of their belief-system first.

So islam is three orders of magnitude -- three massive levels of evil -- worse than the judeo-christian West. Whenever George Bush and Tony Blair say that moslems are normal-type people and have a normal-type religion -- they're lying.

Ten or twenty years ago, insightful and high-integrity people used to observe the nightmare of Iran and say "The problem in that part of the world isn't radical islam -- it's islam." We in the West need to regain this insight -- and then some.

It's not as if they don't make their nature abundantly clear. We Westerners just prefer to look in the mirror and then lie thru our teeth about this. This is a head in the sand approach which is morally depraved and doomed to failure.

Ultimately, the problem here is political correctness. It's the Western evil of multiculturalism, diversity, inclusion, and identity politics. It's moral equivalency writ large. The reason moslems don't condemn terrorism anything like the way jews and christians do is because, relatively speaking, they are cultural, intellectual, and moral SLIME.


David C Battle - 9/17/2004

Kawaja, Udi,

brilliant! very entertaining indeed. You had me in tears!


David C Battle - 9/16/2004

and by the way, I very much enjoy your writing.


David C Battle - 9/16/2004

Khawaja,

ok, I'll concede, especially because I'd rather believe you're right. But here we have a respected islamic scholar who says the wahabi strain has infected American islam, and that it's a threat:

http://www.insightmag.com/main.cfm?include=detail&;storyid=273232

just for your information


David C Battle - 9/16/2004

It doesn't matter whether I'm "doing exactly what the blame the jews" muslims do; I happen to be right, and they happen to be wrong. And you're in denial, like them.

You know for a fact that there's a large minority of muslims who don't even believe muslims perpetrated 9/11. Do I have to google it for you? I can't even believe you've not even caught wind of this? Does the ivory tower insulate you from this kind of information?

Start here; from the mouth of an Arab:

http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/stalinsky200405060835.asp

No wonder they condemn 9/11. They think Jews did it!


Steven L. Frank - 9/16/2004

If one was to speak out against Islamofascist terrorism while living in a Muslim country he would be killed.


Udi Mauzner - 9/16/2004

Good one mustafa, you really are an american, you know ?


Udi Mauzner - 9/15/2004

No, I don't feel silly at all. If you present yourself as an Arab (Khawaja sounds very NJ, almost like Springsteen), don't be surprised that people take you for one.

Actually, I've skimmed several of your references (I think that condemnation should be obvious, even from just skimming). The common thread, in your own words, is:

"Since the attackers were Arab Muslims, we need to ask what we might specifically have done to inspire such rage in them. As it turns out, there are such things, and since there are, while we should condemn the attacks, we should also admit that our policies are partly responsible for their having taken place."

Indeed, an unequivocal, unambiguous condemnation if I ever saw one.

As to saying that I have no idea, well, that's just a step away from calling me an imbecile, and three steps away from blowing up in my face. But, I'd be partly responsible for that, so condemnation of your act should be a-priori half-assed, to say the least.


Don Adams - 9/15/2004

I have followed your comments throughout the various threads which have developed in response to your article, and while I appreciate the arguments you present, what I appreciate even more is the tone in which you present them. Not all of the postings in response to your article have been respectful -- or even relevant -- but you have maintained your dignity and composure. The more Peter Clarke and those like him engage you, the more ridiculous their juvenile insults appear.


Udi Mauzner - 9/14/2004

OK, lets get serious. Why is it so hard to find condemnation in your (and other Arab Intellectuals) publishments ?

Get serious. You are not an American. You're playing the typical Arab Intellectual game: you flee to a democratic country, and use freedom of speech to delegitimize that democracy. When someone tries to respond - you wave that same freedom you are trying to destroy as a shield. A perfect self-destructing mechanism, just like suicide bombers.

Newsflash: the arab/muslim countries are not pluralistic, diverse, open-minded democracies. Arab Terrorism is not an inevitable result of internal cultural debate. It is a reflection of the Arab vision for the world: a primitive, tradition-centric society where the strong rule and oppress the weak, women, animals, and basically anything that threatens their dynasty of force.


Don Adams - 9/14/2004

One need not agree with all of the line items in an analogy between Al-Qaeda and the Confederacy in order to accept its broader merit. Indeed, Mr. Khajawa makes several detailed comparisons with which I disagree, and I noted earlier that there are profound differences between Al-Qaeda and the Confederacy. But they, and the Third Reich along with them, are alike in that each is organized around an ideology of racial or religious superiority, and each has engaged in historically significant campaigns of hatred and violence. It seems to me that these elements by themselves are more than enough to serve as the basis for certain useful analogies.

More to the point, as I have noted before – and as Mr. Khawaja has confirmed – this is but a component of his thesis, not the thesis itself. The ultimate point of his article was that it is a complicated and difficult thing to condemn those to whom one feels culturally or otherwise connected. The arguments put forth by both you and Mr. Lamovsky confirm this rather neatly. You, for example, argue that we should not judge the Confederacy by our standards, but rather by theirs. They didn’t think what they were doing was evil, so why should we? This is interesting in two ways. First, it simultaneously acknowledges and excuses their barbarity. Why refrain from judging them by our standards, if not because they will be found morally or otherwise deficient? Second, you conveniently ignore the fact that neither Al-Qaeda nor the SS think (thought) of themselves as evil, and both are (were) vigorously supported by many of their cultural kin. If we are going to judge the Confederacy by its standards, why not judge Al-Qaeda and the Third Reich by theirs? This kind of double-standard is exactly the kind of thing I meant when I referred to in-group bias, and I truly could not have come up with a better example than you have provided.


David C Battle - 9/14/2004

Khawaja,

it's quite likely that many of those mosques which condemned 9/11 are the same mosques which deny muslims were even involved in that attack, and instead blame it on jews and zionists. You know I'm right.


Andrew Pine - 9/14/2004

While I do agree with the assertion that there is an element of forgiveness given to members of one's own group that would not be given to an outsider, I, like Mr. Lamovsky, cannot abide by the comparison of the Southern Confederacy to Islamic terrorists.

Most importantly, by applying today's standards of morality to the Confederates and their position on slavery you make it sound as if the Confederacy was fighting for something that the majority viewed as evil. Even the people in the North did not view slavery as evil, nor did they view Blacks as equal to whites. This distinction is important, as it colors the very nature of the conflict. As with other ideas and ideologies that we now view as evil, you cannot apply those standards to a people living hundreds of years ago – even dozens of years.

The Nazi comparison to the Confederacy is even worse. The Nazi’s aren’t viewed as evil because of their antiquated Fascist ideology, nor for waging a war. They are viewed evil because they committed genocide. They killed 6 million innocent non-combatants including women and children. This part of their legacy has much more in common with the Islamic terrorists than any convoluted connection to the American Civil War. Confederate soldiers fought for their states, regardless of the moral implications of the political ideal, they fought for their perceived rights, and they fought as soldiers. Only the politically ignorant would have the nerve to say that every Nazi foot soldier was an evil minion of genocide. Saying that every Confederate soldier was similarly evil is just as foolish. But, it is fair to say that every person who straps explosives onto themselves and walks into a crowded shopping center, or airplane, or grade school is nothing less than evil and cowardly. This is the distinction that should be made.

I think it is unfair to lump every act of insurrection associated with Iraq or Palestine or Chechnya as terrorism. I know there are those who do fight with honor - those who attack the soldiers who they view as their oppressors. That is war. That is honor. But attacking civilians with no goal other than fear and bloodshed is terrorism.

The terrorists, who use religion as a guise for hatred, cannot claim a different moral code. They live today. Their acts and goals go against the very religion they espouse. They are killing innocents not for military or political gain, but rather for the purposes of revenge and fear. And in this revenge other Islamic people, mainly those in the Middle East, do take a certain amount of pleasure. They have been oppressed and exploited by Western countries and their puppet governments for most of the century, and probably deserve some revenge.

But, this revenge has nothing to do with Islam. Muslims around the world should denounce these acts as the perpetrators have hijacked their religion and are using it for their own personal vendettas. A more fair comparison would be if a small group of Southern fanatics were to kidnap a group of Africans today in the name of the U.S.A. or the Confederacy for slavery. Would Americans remain quiet? Would we not speak out against them because of some perceived kinship we have with others from our country?

Apparently, if we did, that would be understandable, even acceptable according to Mr. Khajawa.


Udi Mauzner - 9/13/2004

Sorry, I couldn't find that. Try harder next time - sounds like you are condoning it, not condemning it.

Terrorism is a real threat for all of us, not just an academic plaything for you to practice your postmodernism 101 on.


Udi Mauzner - 9/13/2004

Is it because of Reagan ? Mt. Rushmore ? Derrida ? Multiculturalism ? or maybe its simply because you don't condemn terrorism as a method of settling disputes (especially among the muslim brothers) ?

-Udi


Stephen Davis - 9/13/2004

Forgive me for jumping in--but what Ohio bombing?


David C Battle - 9/13/2004

Of course, your comparison to "militia" terrorism is silly. For one, it was an isolated incident and hardly requires that kind of response. And secondly, what constituency do you suggest should come out and protest them?

A better comparison is the KKK; they are quite regular in their hate marches (or used to be), which always brings out white protestors to denounce them so them. Would it be too much to ask muslims to denounce en masse their own "KKK"?

But allow me to answer my own question. Yes, it would be too much. Because islamic terror isn't limited to a fraction of a percentage as white supremacy is. Islamic terrorism represents a very large minority of muslims, and I suspect most of them, even those who aren't terrorists, feel as you do: that the U.S. had it coming to us.

And that's why there are no muslim million man marches.


Don Adams - 9/12/2004

What I find most interesting about your argument is that you are so willing to separate the Confederacy from its cause. Consider the following words:

“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.”

It has become fashionable to downplay the role of slavery in the Civil War, but this is the opening paragraph of Mississippi’s secession statement. Your comment that “There is zero comparison between naming streets in Virginia after Lee and Jackson and naming German streets after generals who fought a war of aggression and conquest dreamed up by a genocidal psychopath” is underwritten by the notion that it is possible to honor Confederate generals without endorsing the regime for which they fought, but not possible to do so for German generals. (This is a particularly interesting element of your argument, because German generals were held in much the high same regard by their American (and British) counterparts as were Southern generals by theirs. Apparently you believe we should take our moral cues from Joshua Chamberlain, but not from George Patton). Perhaps it is possible for you to dissociate the Confederacy from it cause, but I wonder, do you believe it is possible for an African-American to do so? Would an African-American view a statue of Jefferson Davis or the flying of the Confederate flag differently than a Jew would regard a tribute to the Nazi military?

Your more charged comment that “The difference between honoring Confederates and tacitly supporting Islamic terrorists is the difference between honoring dead soldiers and supporting living murderers” is similarly underwritten by a willful disregard for cause and context. The average souther soldier was surely not a murderer on par with the 9/11 hijackers, but he was nonetheless fighting in the name of a cause which was every bit as depraved as radical Islam. The fact that you are willing to compartmentalize southern soldiery from southern ideology is exactly the kind of evasion Mr. Khawaja was referring to in the first place. There is no suggestion here that you support slavery, but that is exactly the point: Muslim reticence regarding terrorism does not by itself confirm that they “support living murderers” any more than your admiration for southern soldiers confirms that you are in favor of slavery.

I realize that your argument is that because Confederate tactics were different than Al-Qaeda’s there is no way to compare the two. My argument is simply that however profound their differences, each ultimately represents a facet of evil, and yet there are those who find it difficult to condemn one or the other depending on group affiliation. That is precisely the nature of in-group bias, and even after some considerable thought since our exchange began, I believe it is a fair characterization of the dynamics involved in comparing Muslim responses to Al-Qaeda and American treatment of the Confederacy.


Arnold Shcherban - 9/12/2004

Somehow, I didn't see even 100 man anti-militia march converging on Washington mall, after Ohio bombing that
killed hundreds of children, not mentioning men and women.
They can do as much about islamic terrorism, as you,
Mr. Battle could do about domestic non-Islamic terrorists, as Mc'Viegh, KKK, anti-abortion ones, anti-something else, etc.

The long-sustained US and UK imperial foreign policy is mostly (though, of course, not exclusively) responsible for the modern wave of Islamic terrorism, which, by the way, when it is targeting not this country itself, or its allies, don't invoked even remotely close furor among
Washington bosses.
Russia, before Chechen's war didn't have any problems with Islamic terrorism. So, if Islamic fundamentalism was/is in the culture war with modern civilization, why
the Chechen and Arab terrorists didn't attack Russian civilians before?
Stop interfere with Third World couintries internal affairs, let them handle their natural and human resourcers the way they want to, and in a short time
you will see zero level of terrorist activity against
the Western world.
That' is the only and the most effective way, provided
this country really want to eliminate terrorism.
The main problem, as I see it, lies in the fact that the
planners of American geopolitics (both, Republican and Democrats), as controvercial and anti-American, as it may sound, desperately need some level of terrorism/threat coming from anywhere!
Otherwise, they cannot sustain their imperial and hegemonistic designs and high corporate profits.


David C Battle - 9/12/2004

When I see a muslim million-man march converge on the Washington mall, then I'll believe it. Heck, I'd settle for a thousand-man march. Until then, they seem more concerned about those "nasty stares" than they do about islamic terrorism.


Brian Martin - 9/12/2004

Concerning your problem with the account at the Fort Sumter Web site, can you give us an example of what would you have written instead?

I also have problems with some NPS web sites. Those sickos list the Sand Creek Massacre as a Union victory in the Civil War? http://www2.cr.nps.gov/abpp/battles/co001.htm

[Is the comparison of Al Qaeda to the Confederacy really so far off?]

Let's work this out now: Did Al Queda send diplomats to attempt a peaceful solution before their assault on the WTC and Pentagon? The Confederate commissioners attempted to meet with Lincoln, but were rebuffed. Did Al Queda give those on the planes, WTC, and the Pentagon a chance to evacuate before the assault began? The Confederates did at Fort Sumter. Al Queda murdered 2800+ Americans. The Confederates killed no one in the assault, the 2 Union deaths were a result of a cannon bursting as the Union was in the process of firing a 100 gun salute after the surrender. The Al Queda attackers died in their assault. The Confederates suffered no deaths. I could continue in this vein, but for the sake of brevity will not.

Yes, in my opinion the comparison is really far off.

[Jefferson Davis, P.T. Beauregard, Robert E. Lee & Co. were responsible for starting and conducting a war that killed 600,000 Americans]

At the time of Fort Sumter, Robert E. Lee was still a member of the U.S. Army and is in no way responsible for starting the war.

[Pickett’s charge was after all a suicide mission,]

Perhaps to your line of thinking...not to mine. Do you also consider the assaults at say Normandy Beach and Iwo Jima to be "suicide missions"?

[the Stars and Bars fluttered proudly over the South Carolina statehouse (as it did in Georgia and I believe, still does in part in Mississippi),]

Actually it was the Confederate Battle flag that flew over the capitol at South Carolina, was a part of the Georgia flag and still is part of the Mississippi flag. The Stars and Bars is a completely different flag. It can be seen at: http://www.ruffinflag.com/S&;Bpoly.jpg

[Meanwhile, we have state forests devoted to the loving memory of Nathan Bedford Forrest (a founder of the Ku Klux Klan),]

The KKK was founded several months before Forrest became involved. The actual founders were: John C. Lester, Major James R. Crowe, John D. Kennedy, Calvin Jones, Richard R. Reed, and Frank O. McCord.

[As various right-wingers manufacture increasingly desperate and embarrassing excuses for the "right to secession,"]

I've seen debates concerning the legality/illegality of secession in debate groups and Civil War magazines. (not sure if they were "right-wingers" or not) What about the article linked to would you describe as "desperate and embarrassing"?

Concerning your "top 10 list", #9 I've never met anyone who considers Gettysburg a tie, have you? #7 Are not both The Museum of the Confederacy and the Confederate Museum in New Orleans over 100 years old, how many have opened recently? #5 How many Americans have even heard of Alvan E. Laboy, much less spit in his face? #4 Lee followed in the footsteps of the man he admired. He fought for one gov't and then later against them, just like George Washington.


Jesse David Lamovsky - 9/11/2004

I understand the sociological arguments here, Mr. Adams. But the analogy still does not hold even on this basic level, because of the fundamental nature of the Confederacy, and the Confederate war effort, versus that of Islamic terrorism, as well as the nature of Confederate nostalgia itself. The Confederates fought with a certain amount of honor, they fought generally within the rules of civilized warfare, and one does not have to be within the in-group to respect their effort, the justice or injustice of their cause aside (certainly U.S. Grant and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain did not support the ideals of the Confederacy, but they had no qualms about honoring the men who fought for those ideals). The whole Lost Cause mythology centers around the Confederates as sacred losers- they lost, it is a good thing they lost, but they gave it the old college try, and should be respected for that. This is a different dynamic than that of the perceived widespread Muslim silence in the face of Islamist terrorism. The former has little or nothing to do with moral evasion regarding the rightness or wrongness of the Confederate cause, whereas the latter has everything to do with moral evasion in the face of mass murder. Am I being overly literal in making these distinctions? I certainly don’t think so. I have no quarrel with Mr. Khajawa’s assertion that Islamic terrorism is a component of a civil war within Islam itself. But 9/11 has no parallel in the Civil War (even on Quantrill’s worst day, he did not target women and children). The difference between honoring Confederates and tacitly supporting Islamic terrorists is the difference between honoring dead soldiers and supporting living murderers. I do not think I am nitpicking when I reject this analogy.

If Mr. Khajawa wants to make foolish statements like "Americans think the battle of Gettysburg was a tie", or that Pickett’s Charge was in effect a 19th century suicide bombing, he should get called on them. There is zero comparison between naming streets in Virginia after Lee and Jackson and naming German streets after generals who fought a war of aggression and conquest dreamed up by a genocidal psychopath. And a battlefield is a place to honor soldiers, period. It is not, nor should it be, an arena for political proselytizing.







Don Adams - 9/11/2004

Your efforts to distinguish Al-Qaeda and 9/11 from the Confederacy and Fort Sumter are puzzling, to say no more, and your comparison of Union conduct to Confederate conduct is simply irrelevant. Mr. Khawaja did not argue that Al-Qaeda and the Confederacy are precisely analogous, nor did he make any claims about the conduct of Union forces. His suggestion was simply that even to this day many Americans have difficulty condemning either the cause of the Confederacy or its terrible consequences in unequivocal terms. His analogy only "strains supportability" if one incorrectly identifies its central elements (and, for that matter, if one is so literal as to require every detail of an analogy to match up in precise terms in order to accept its validity). The essence of his analogy is not between Al-Qaeda and the Confederacy, but rather between the moral, social, and cultural response of many Americans to the Confederacy and that of many Muslims to Islamic terrorism. His point is that condemning even the radical fringe of a group to which one belongs is an exercise in ambivalence for everyone, not just moderate Muslims. He is right to say so, and there is both documentary and theoretical evidence to support his position.

Sociology provides the well-established theory of “Social Identity Theory.” According to this theory, human beings are essentially programmed to notice differences between themselves and others, and to use these differences as the basis for favorable or unfavorable estimations of one another. That humans tend to look unfavorably upon those they perceive as different is self-evident. What bears mentioning here is that there is empirical evidence which confirms that humans are far less judgmental of those in their “in-group” than they are of those in an “out-group” even under substantially similar circumstances. As noted by one sociologist, “The main empirical findings of SIT (social identity theory) refer to what is called in-group bias. This observed pattern refers to the tendency to favor the in-group subject over the out-group subject in evaluating behavior. Put in other terms, individuals who belong to the same group will be judged better than individuals of another group given the same characteristics. This kind of benevolence for fellow has been shown to be quite robust.” (https://mail.sssup.it/~ploner/groups/node7.html). This is as direct a confirmation of Mr. Khawaja’s underlying premise as one is likely to find.

As for the validity of the analogy itself, the ambivalence and tentativeness he says are at the heart of certain Civil War memorials goes far beyond those he mentions in his article. Fredricksburg and the Spotsylvania National Military Park are a tour-de-force in moral evasion. Start with the fact that there are major streets named after Lee, Jackson, and others southern generals, and dozens of local businesses unashamedly attached to the war (“Battlefield Insurance”). This kind of thing apparently lacks a moral dimension for you, but if Germany were to begin naming streets after Runstedt or Mannstein, or if a German business called itself “Blitzkrieg Housekeeping,” I suspect you would not find such associations to be morally neutral. More to the point, you can spend as much time as you would like in the National Park Service facilities attached to each of the major battles fought in Spotsylvania County, you will find essentially no references to slavery. What you will find are memorials dedicated to “all the heroes” who fought on both sides, shrines to the military genius of Lee and Jackson, and countless other instances in which the purely martial aspects of the war are entirely dissociated from the economic, cultural, and yes, moral issues which gave rise to the war. You will even find that the museum bookstores are divided into “north” and “south” sections, suggesting there are still two distinct bodies of thought on this matter, even two regional cultures not yet fully merged.

To an outsider, or a historian of the future, such signs would serve as evidence that Americans are still unable to fully denounce the excesses of their past and organize around a common moral center. Mr. Khawaja argues that this is true of Islam as well, and that this dymamic is at the heart of the apparent tepidity of Muslim responses to terrorism. I agree with both his analogy and its sociological underpinnings.


Jesse David Lamovsky - 9/10/2004

All those &#8220s and &#8221s are supposed to be quotation marks and apostrophies. For some reason, my PC isn't translating them into text when I copy-and-paste from Word. My apologies.


Jesse David Lamovsky - 9/10/2004

There are plenty of reasons why Mr. Khajawa’s analogy, though not completely unsupportable, at least strains supportability.

Fort Sumter wasn’t an act of terrorism. It was a military assault, on a military target. It had been anticipated for several months (Lincoln’s promise in his First Inaugural to “hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the government, and to collect the duties and imposts” was a fairly direct reference to Sumter, and Major Anderson had moved his command from Fort Moultrie to Sumter in December, citing the defensibility of Sumter compared to Moultrie), so it lacked the deadly spontaneity of a terrorist attack. The attack was also nearly bloodless- one casualty, a man killed by an exploding powder magazine after the assault had ended.

The portion of Lincoln’s First Inaugural quoted above puts a different spin, I think, on Mr. Khajawa’s assertion that the Confederates have 100% of the responsibility for Sumter, and thus the war itself. Lincoln had decided to resupply the fort’s garrison over the objections of a majority of his cabinet, who had preferred the fort be evacuated, as were many outposts of Federal control in early 1861. Lincoln, it can be argued, wanted to force an armed confrontation over Sumter, giving him an excuse to seize the kind of power he felt he needed to crush the rebellion. The events that followed Sumter- Lincoln’s call for 75,000 troops, his assumption of nearly dictatorial power- speak for themselves.

Whatever one thinks of the tactical merits of Pickett’s Charge, it was decidedly not intended to be a “suicide mission”. To be sure, it was an assault that, in retrospect, had very little chance of succeeding, but General Lee intended the attack to succeed, there is no doubt about that. He had ordered frontal assaults before Gettysburg (notably at Gaines Mill, a success, and Malvern Hill, a failure). Five months after Gettysburg the Union Army of the Cumberland broke the siege of Chattanooga with a successful frontal assault that, on paper, had less chance of succeeding than Pickett’s at Gettysburg. Pickett’s Charge was not delivered as some kind of nihilistic act of self-abnegation; it was delivered with the intent of breaking the Union center and winning the battle. Besides, George Pickett himself apparently had no “suicidal desires”- he survived the charge.

And it should be pointed out that the conduct of the Union Army in the South came a lot closer to the level of state terrorism than did that of the Confederate Army in its two forays into Northern territory. General Lee, who Mr. Khajawa insults as an “outlaw”, gave strict orders forbidding destruction and mass expropriation of the property of Pennsylvanians during the Gettysburg campaign. To be sure, such expropriations did take place, and to assert that the Confederates were simon-pure throughout the war would be a lie (Fort Pillow, the burning of Chambersburg, the kidnapping of free blacks in Pennsylvania, etc.). But the atrocities inflicted by Federal troops in Georgia, in the Shenandoah Valley, and elsewhere were sanctioned by the Lincoln administration. William Quantrill’s depravations, though horrifying, should be discussed in the context of war as it was fought in Missouri and Kansas- and in that region, both sides had bloody hands indeed.

Mr. Khajawa also assumes secession= treason. The Confederates sought not to forcibly overthrow the Federal Government; they sought to replace its authority in their native region. The distinction matters. Before the Civil War, secession was a concept that had been bandied about fairly often, and not just by Southerners. The mainstream consensus that secession= treason was one that didn’t exist until after the war, and even then the Federal government didn’t bring Jefferson Davis to trial on treason charges because it feared an acquittal, from a Northern jury, on the grounds that secession was not unconstitutional. And it is overstating things to claim that Confederate flag-boosterism is part and parcel of the GOP. It was a Republican governor who ordered the Battle Flag brought down from atop the Statehouse in South Carolina a few years back.

In short, I think Mr. Clarke is right- I don’t think the Al Queda/Confederacy is a proper analogy. In the mainstream, moral judgments on the dominant issues of the war have long since been made. To deny this just because people fly the Battle Flag (and they have their own reasons for doing so; it is typical progressive arrogance that claims to know their reasons), and people look up to Lee and Jackson is stretching things. Like the Religious Right, contemporary “Confederate sympathizers” are more a liberal bogeyman than a political movement with actual power, unlike Al Queda and its tributaries.




James E. Thornton - 9/10/2004

How do Muslims counter the literalist interpretations of the Quran and Hadith? I have posted "the Sword Verse" and the Hadith about killing Jews. My understanding is that the radicals follow the Hanbali school of Islamic jurisprudence and reject Qiyas and Ijma. How do you fight that ideologically? I believe that the terrorists know more about the faith than most Muslims.


Jeffrey Imm - 9/10/2004

<Now - this is the type of group we need to see more of, and more activity like Pakistan's Air Force. Americans respect people who fight back against violent extremists.>

Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism

http://www.freemuslims.org/news/article.php?article=148

We are so Sorry for 9-11
September 11, 2004
By Kamal Nawash

This September 11 marks the third unforgettable anniversary of the worst mass murder in American history.

After September 11, many in the Muslim world chose denial and hallucination rather than face up to the sad fact that Muslims perpetrated the 9-11 terrorist acts and that we have an enormous problem with extremism and support for terrorism. Many Muslims, including religious leaders, and “intellectuals” blamed 9-11 on a Jewish conspiracy and went as far as fabricating a tale that 4000 Jews did not show up for work in the World Trade Center on 9-11. Yet others blamed 9-11 on an American right wing conspiracy or the U.S. Government which allegedly wanted an excuse to invade Iraq and “steal” Iraqi oil.

After numerous admissions of guilt by Bin Laden and numerous corroborating admissions by captured top level Al-Qaida operatives, we wonder, does the Muslim leadership have the dignity and courage to apologize for 9-11? If not 9-11, will we apologize for the murder of school children in Russia? If not Russia, will we apologize for the train bombings in Madrid, Spain? If not Spain, will we apologize for suicide bombings in buses, restaurants and other public places? If not suicide bombings, will we apologize for the barbaric beheadings of human beings? If not beheadings, will we apologize for the rape and murder of thousands of innocent people in Darfour? If not Darfour, will we apologize for the blowing up of two Russian planes by Muslim women? What will we apologize for? What will it take for Muslims to realize that those who commit mass murder in the name of Islam are not just a few fringe elements? What will it take for Muslims to realize that we are facing a crisis that is more deadly than the Aids epidemic? What will it take for Muslims to realize that there is a large evil movement that is turning what was a peaceful religion into a cult?

Will Muslims wake up before it is too late? Or will we continue blaming the Jews and an imaginary Jewish conspiracy? The blaming of all Muslim problems on Jews is a cancer that is destroying Muslim society from within and it must stop.

Muslims must look inward and put a stop to many of our religious leaders who spend most of their sermons teaching hatred, intolerance and violent jihad. We should not be afraid to admit that as Muslims we have a problem with violent extremism. We should not be afraid to admit that so many of our religious leaders belong behind bars and not behind a pulpit. Only moderate Muslims can challenge and defeat extremist Muslims. We can no longer afford to be silent. If we remain silent to the extremism within our community then we should not expect anyone to listen to us when we complain of stereotyping and discrimination by non-Muslims; we should not be surprised when the world treats all of us as terrorists; we should not be surprised when we are profiled at airports. Simply put, not only do Muslims need to join the war against terror, we need to take the lead in this war.

As to apologizing, we will no longer wait for our religious leaders and “intellectuals” to do the right thing. Instead, we will start by apologizing for 9-11. We are so sorry that 3000 people were murdered in our name. We will never forget the sight of people jumping from two of the highest buildings in the world hoping against hope that if they moved their arms fast enough that they may fly and survive a certain death from burning. We are sorry for blaming 9-11 on a Jewish or right wing conspiracy. We are so sorry for the murder of more than three hundred school children and adults in Russia. We are so sorry for the murder of train passengers in Spain. We are so sorry for all the victims of suicide bombings. We are so sorry for the beheadings, abductions, rapes, violent Jihad and all the atrocities committed by Muslims around the world. We are so sorry for a religious education that raised killers rather than train people to do good in the world. We are sorry that we did not take the time to teach our children tolerance and respect for other people. We are so sorry for not rising up against the dictators who have ruled the Muslim world for decades. We are so sorry for allowing corruption to spread so fast and so deep in the Muslim world that many of our youth lost hope. We are so sorry for allowing our religious leaders to relegate women to the status of forth class citizens at best and sub-humans at worse.

We are so sorry.




Jeffrey Imm - 9/10/2004

Irfan -
I see your point of view, and do not claim that Moderate Christians are perfect. However, there is a HUGE difference between any comments by Attorney General (which may or may not be taken out of context) and Islamist Terrorists who are killing people EVERY DAY.

If this is the "worst" that one can find in lack of Moderate Christian response, it speaks volumes. It makes an unconvincing comparison at best.

I think the point that is not addressed, however, and which may be more relavent and to this specific topic is to the reasons WHY you "sympathize with <the> fear <of Moderate Muslims>".

While I may have a web site attacking Nazis and Christian Extremist groups, and a news group attacking their actions every week (http://www.againstnazi.com and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/againstnazi/), with my name, and indications of where I live, I don't expect KKK or Christian Identity to come shoot me tomorrow. Not saying they won't, mind you. It's just not an expectation.

The questions are "who is at the fringes" - or perhaps "how large are the extremists"? I am incentivized to create a new site to focus on Christian Identity here and make them more prominent in my attacks as a Moderate Christian.

I also am aware that percent-wise few real Christians think these groups are even remotely "Christian". These groups and Nazis may allege some involvement in Christianity but only a very small fraction of Christians believe this. Therefore, I would have no fear of going to any Christian church and publicly denouncing and ridiculing them - and by the way, I have done so here - and in other parts of the country.

Perhaps the issue is different with Islam, because the radical Muslims have too much weight now? They represent too much of the population or at least sympathizers?




Jeffrey Imm - 9/10/2004

Irfan -
Very good dialogue on this posting in general on every side, good to hear the different opinions.

I also believe that Pakistan is the "Ground Zero" (hopefully, not literally - but it could easily come to that) as to the struggle is Islam between Radical and Moderate Muslims. The attack on the international terrorist base by the Pakistan Air Force is exactly what I am talking about. Real force to fight terrorism. And certainly there is a huge struggle behind the scenes to see who will win in controlling Pakistan - Moderate Islam or Radical Islam.


chris l pettit - 9/9/2004

Your last questions and point about bin Laden are spot on...this is the logic of poor Irfan as well...

CP
www.wicper.org


Jeffrey Imm - 9/9/2004

An article on CAIR - there are plenty of others out there like this. I am not attesting to the validity or invalidity of this. But Moderate Muslims have to realize that this is out there, and yes considered truth by "reaasonable people". Again Jihadists keep defining Islam due to the lack of aggressiveness by Moderate Muslims, so who can be surprised? This is just a minor example of what the perception is of CAIR-like organizations. Americans respect people who really are there to fight extremists. The USA and the American people have a long history of supporting those aggressively fight against violent extremists. And the Moderate Muslim groups that are actively doing that are: ..... ?

=================================================

Preaching violence

March 17, 2004

By Joel Mowbray

http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/20040316-085118-1135r.htm

Appearing on Fox News recently, the spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Ibrahim Hooper, said that in 20 years worth of trips to mosques, "I've never heard violence preached; I've never heard anti-Semitism or anti-Americanism preached."
When asked in a subsequent phone interview with this columnist if his statement also holds true for any Muslim events, conferences and rallies he has attended, Mr. Hooper said it did and added, "In fact, if I had heard that I would have called them on the carpet and asked them why they're saying such hate-filled, divisive things." (In a follow-up conversation, Mr. Hooper said he did "not include rallies.")
Mr. Hooper's claims, however, are somewhere between disingenuous and just plain dishonest.
At a now-infamous Washington rally on Oct. 28, 2000, then-president of the American Muslim Federation Abdurahman Alamoudi shouted to a cheering crowd, "We are all supporters of Hamas." In the second phone interview, Mr. Hooper acknowledged being there but claims he did not hear Mr. Alamoudi.
In the media frenzy that followed, though, neither CAIR nor Mr. Hooper publicly criticized Mr. Alamoudi's avowed support of the terrorist organization.
Less than a year later, Mr. Hooper joined roughly a dozen leaders of various Muslim groups in staging a "sit in" in front of the State Department in June 2001. During the event, American Muslim Council Director Ali Ramadan Abu Zakouk "preached violence" by labeling the mass murder of innocent civilians in suicide bombing attacks as a "God-given right."
"The question of resistance to occupation is a God-given right. And the occupied people can use any means possible for them. They have no limitation," Mr. Zakouk explained. Mr. Hooper was listed as the contact person for the press release sent out in advance of the "sit in," though he first claimed he "did not remember" and later that he "did not hear" Mr. Zakouk's defense of suicide bombings.
Videotape footage of the event (provided by the Investigative Project), however, clearly shows Mr. Hooper standing barely a few feet behind Mr. Zakouk as the comments were made.
Without video or a published record noting his participation, it is impossible to know what other pro-violence, anti-American or anti-Semitic propaganda Mr. Hooper has personally witnessed. But there are plenty of examples of reprehensible rhetoric spouted either by CAIR officials or at CAIR co-sponsored events — any of which Mr. Hooper, as longtime CAIR spokesman, would almost surely be aware of.
At the Islamic Association of Palestine's third annual convention in Chicago in November 1999, CAIR President Omar Ahmad gave a speech at a youth session praising suicide bombers who "kill themselves for Islam." "Fighting for freedom, fighting for Islam — that is not suicide. They kill themselves for Islam, " he said.
The executive director of CAIR's New York chapter has made similar comments that would likewise fall under the heading of "violence preached." At an interfaith event shortly after September 11, CAIR-NY's Ghazi Khankan started with the obligatory disclaimer that "those who attack civilians are wrong," but then he explained that any Israeli adult was a "soldier" and thus not a civilian.
Mr. Khankan rationalized as follows: "Anyone over 18 is automatically inducted into the service and they are all reserves. Therefore, Hamas, in my opinion, looks at them as part of the military." Driving home the point that it's OK to blow up any Israeli adult, Mr. Khankan added, "Those who are below 18 should not be attacked." (When asked about this speech — but not being told who gave it — Mr. Hooper said, "I condemn it.")
CAIR co-sponsored a May 1998 New York conference titled, "Palestine: 50 Years of Occupation," where one of the guest speakers taught participants a song that included lyrics: "No to the Jews, descendants of the apes."
Mr. Hooper insists that CAIR was not a co-sponsor of the event and added, "I don't even know if that happened." But an e-mail sent out to a Muslim e-mail list the day before the event clearly identifies CAIR as one of the 11 co-sponsors — and audiotape of the conference (provided by the Investigative Project) recorded the anti-Semitic song.
Even when given the opportunity by journalists to "call on the carpet" designated terrorist organizations, Mr. Hooper demurs.
When asked by The Washington Post in November 2001 if he would condemn Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Mr. Hooper responded, "It's not our job to go around denouncing." Asked by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in February 2002 to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah, Mr. Hooper called such questions a "game" and explained, "We're not in the business of condemning."
Asked in an America-Online-sponsored chat in August 1998 who was responsible — the terrorists or America — for the East Africa embassy bombings, Mr. Hooper wrote that, although he condemned the bombings, "a great deal of what happened is responsible due to misunderstandings on both sides."
When it comes to "misunderstandings," though, Mr. Hooper's record leaves none as to whether or not he has heard or directly knows of plenty of violence and anti-Semitism preached by Muslim leaders.

Joel Mowbray occasionally writes for The Washington Times.


Jeffrey Imm - 9/9/2004

Ifran -
Think about what that means - "ruining his life". Isn't it "ruining" one's life, and worse than their live, abandoning their soul to do other than to fight religious terrorists?

I do like your Confederate example, as many Christians have and continue to fight the Ku Klux Klan, at great personal risk. They also fight the Christian Identity movement and other Christian extremist terrorists: yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

What do you think those Christian moderates who would fight the Ku Klux Klan, Nazis, etc., would be willing to do if the KKK slammed jet planes into the World Trade Center, or the Capital building (more likely)?

Do you think Moderate Christians would shrink from a fight against Christian terrorists for fear of "ruining our lives"? I think most Christians would laugh at such a concept. Seriously.

I would hope that God and Allah gives us more courage and conscience than that to pursue the beliefs that we claim to have.

How would Muslims feel having to corral and fight the terrorist Ku Klux Klan on a global basis - while Moderate Christians sat back and sent out paper airplane memos of our tut-tut-tut condemnations as they burned Mosques and lynched Muslims in the street, chopped off innocent heads of Muslims, and slaughtered little Muslim children?

(And instead we concentrated on holding fund raisers to ensure that Christian civil rights were protected.)

The Moderate Christians I know have more courage than that. We have shown that. We have put the KKK in jail. We have gone after Christian Identity. We have crushed Nazis. And we will do so, again, and again, and again. How could we LIVE with ourselves, how could we respect our covenant with God almighty if we did not?

This from the religion of turning the other cheek, not the great "warriors" of Islam.

Think about how non-Muslims feel as Moderate Muslims keep "pondering" what they should do against Jihadists.

Fear of "ruining his life"... that is poor salve for losing one's soul and losing one's religion to maniacs.

Wasn't it the USA that stood up for Muslims:
-- with Turkey over Greece in Cyprus
-- with Afghanistan over the Soviets
-- with Kosovo over Yugoslavia
-- and numerous others

Outside of Israel/Palestinian conflict, hasn't US Christians frequently defended (and with our lives protected) Muslims in foreign lands?

It is the role and the duty of Moderate Muslims to stand up and defend their religion - not from "conservative talk show hosts" - but from Jihadists.

Moderate Muslims would be surprised to see how understanding and supportive the American people would be of this.

But the lack of a REAL ACTION by Moderate Muslims - only leaves the Jihadist to DEFINE who and what a Muslim is. And they are convincing the world that THEY are the definition of Islam - more and more every day.

Allah help you if that continues.


E. Simon - 9/9/2004

Thanks Irfan - just want to be clear in case I was misunderstood about conscientious condemnations... I'm referring to politically oriented religious organizations much moreso than individuals or populations as a whole. At least in the U.S.; poll after poll in the West Bank however, disputes this.


E. Simon - 9/8/2004


Do you really want to get into this one?

I have no doubt that various factions will have no problem publically condemning terrorism when it suits them politically. But that is miles behind doing so as a matter of conscience. That is a big portion of what Irfan's piece is all about.

As a primer, you might do yourself a favor by reading Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qureia's statement yesterday and comparing it to the P.A.'s previous pronouncements.


Jeffrey Imm - 9/8/2004


Per the Ottawa Citizen (of all places)

"After Sept. 11, many people insisted that militant Islam despises Americans and other westerners for what we do rather than for what we are. The idea that Islamic terrorists hate us for what we are was too disturbing to contemplate, for it means there’s no way to appease the enemy. If our foreign policy were the problem, we could change it. If the problem is our pluralism, secularism and modernism — the fact we don’t organize our societies according to principles of Islamic law — then we’re in trouble."

Therefore, there is only one way to truly win a war against Islamist Terrorism. It must be fought by Moderate Muslims, and it must be won by Moderate Muslims.

As long as non-Muslims are fighting against Islamist Terrorists, then the world will at best remain at an impasse. Non-Muslims can not do the fighting for Moderate Muslims here. Moderate Muslims have a responsibility to themselves and to Allah to choose sides, and decide how they will take on their responsibilities.

Until Moderate Muslims actually battle Islamist Terrorist and LEAD this war (rather than watch from the sidelines and issue memos indicating their condemnation as innocents are killed), then the Non-Muslim world will continue to be suspicious as the actual loyalty and commitment of Moderate Muslims to a peaceful and civilized world.

3 years later... we are still waiting.


Jeffrey Imm - 9/8/2004

Actually, I have visited CAIR's website. I suggest everyone visit it for themselves at:
http://www.cair.com/default.asp

Is that "the other side" of a **CIVIL WAR** in Islam?

I would interpret it as the "NAACP" of Islam, which is concerned with Muslim Civil Rights in the United States, and providing education to ensure that people understand their view of Islamic beliefs. That is great.

On the CAIR Web Site, there is a:
"Hate Hurts America Campaign" as a prominent part of this; note - this is not talking about Jihadists - but "This campaign is based on the premise that the increasing attacks on Islam by conservative talk show hosts nationwide is not only offensive to Muslims and other people of conscience, but also harms the United States by creating a downward spiral of interfaith mistrust and hostility."

For example, "CAIR is calling on the nation's largest radio network to apologize for anti-Islam remarks by talk show host and comedian Jackie Mason, who recently called "the whole Muslim religion" a "murderous organization" that teaches "hate, terrorism and murder." and "How to Challenge Anti-Muslim Hate on the Radio".

There is the CAIR 2004 Election Update, Join CAIR, Donate to CAIR today, "CAIR Condemns School Killings in Russia", "11 Members of Congress Sign 'Fire Boykin' Letter", "Who Gets Muslim Vote Isn't Done Deal", "Racist Note Left on Arizona Muslim's Vandalized Car", etc.

Outside of the SINGLE item condemning school killings in Russia - CAIR's web site has nothing obviously to do with a war against Jihadists and Islamist Extremists. It has to do with fighting their perceived enemy "conservative talk show hosts", and addressing Islamic Civil Rights in the USA.

CAIR has the right to do that, of course. However, that is not the topic of this discussion thread or the author's posting here, which is "Why Don't Muslims Condemn Terrorism?"

Where is the WAR against Islamist extemism?

Peaceful disagreement in paper memos that takes exception to slaughtering children and innocents?

Honestly, if you think asking that very fair question is bigotry against Islam, you need to revisit history. There have been real wars between factions in religions, and they have not been fought with paper airplanes.

Given the 1000s of deaths in this country by those claiming to represent Islam, the hostility against Muslims has been remarkable minimal and restrained. But that does not answer the question posed by the author: "Why Don't Muslims Condemn Terrorism?"

The author does not claim that CAIR is fighting Jihadists. They may be, but I have not seen this. And after 3 years, why haven't we?

When will the silence be broken?

Or will there only be paper airplanes by the Moderate Muslims (read mostly by people who wrote them) in the civil war against Extremist Jihadists?


Laura Nichol - 9/8/2004

I am so sick and tired of western pundits and pontificators sitting in self-righteous judgment over Muslims who supposedly "don't condemn terrorism." Anyone who's on the mailing lists of the many Muslim organizations in the US, Canada and Europe constantly receives their official press releases and statements adamantly condemning all acts of terrorism. My mailbox is full of these instant press releases with vehement condemnations of the recent atrocity in Russia by Chechens (incl. links to deeply outraged reactions from Muslim members of these groups), the kidnapping of two French journalists in Iraq, the killing of 12 Nepalese workers in Iraq. The beheading of Nicholas Berg alone flooded my inbox with these press releases, which included links to articles and online public forum discussion boards from the region itself and from the various Muslim groups in the West with strong language decrying the act. Reports of condemnations by the leader of Hezbollah, the leading clerics of the preeminent Sunni group in Egypt, pronouncements by the Muslim gov't of Pakistan and Malaysia routinely are published on al jazeera and the news pages of Muslim online publications. I regularly look into Muslim women's websites, the Muslim section of beliefnet.org, al-fatiha (the gay Muslim group) and several others from different parts of the world and I always see these condemnations.

But the anti-Muslim bigots in the West have selective ears -- they don't listen, no matter how many times such condemnations occur, nor how loud they are. One of the FIRST public condemnations of the 9/11 attacks came from Lebanon's Hizbullah (naturally, since they hate the Al Qaeda group). None of these condemnations are ever publicized. In France, Muslim groups have all united actively and publicly (attending demonstrations, going on news shows) IN SUPPORT of the government's refusal to rescind the headscarf ban in defiance of the demand by the hostage-takers holding two French journalists in Iraq. This, despite these groups' opposition to the ban. But--again--none of this is ever noticed by western pundits. If you don't bother to pay attention or to listen, then you won't know what they're saying. Go on the website of cair.net or the Islamic North American Association or the Islamic Council of Britain and see it all for yourself.


Jeffrey Imm - 9/8/2004

This is very interesting from a theoretical perspective. However, there is one gaping hole (in the perception of most Americans, and much of the world) in this theory:

Where is the other side (e.g., Moderate Muslims) in the Civil War?

Or how can you have a Civil War in Islam with only one side fighting? That is the true problem facing Islam and its defenders today. The analogy would ring true if the public viewed two sides truly fighting for control, but they don't. They only hear and see the Jihadists.

To use Ifran's analogy, for example, if the Jihadists represent the "South", where are the Moderate Muslims representing the "North"?

I have made an effort to try to find those Muslims who are actively fighting Jihadists. It has been hard to do. What I find are an individual here and there, where I see (literally) mobs shouting "Death to America" and they have been doing so for the past 20+ years. There are untold books, films, etc. on those who represent Radical Islam.

Where is the Moderate Muslim voice?

Here is what I have found:

-- Irshad Manji, Canadian author of The Trouble With Islam. Great book, great author, powerful individual for moderate Islam. Going around the world to promote her cause and the rediscovery of "ijtihad". I think she is great. However, she is one person. Just ONE. Look at her web site and the many hateful responses that she is receiving from Muslims: http://www.muslimrefusenik.com/

-- Small Group in Arizona organized by Zuhdi Jasser had a rally at the end of April 2004. "Hundreds of residents from across the Valley gathered Sunday night at Phoenix's Patriots Square Park to join what is believed to be the nation's first Muslim rally against terrorism." However, "The majority of the estimated 250 in attendance Sunday night were not Muslim."
Story is at: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/0426terror-rally26.html

-- Saudi Arabia Government individuals have finally condemned some terrorist actions (while still claiming they are inspired by "Zionism"), but only because the Jihadists are killing other Muslims. I will never forget the words of one Saudi interviewed after an attack - this is not jihad - there were not even any Americans here...

-- Now I am certain that if one really looks long and hard for weeks at a time, you can also find some additional obscure, unknown moderate Muslim denouncements of violence (kept very quiet - why?)

As one writer, Robert Spencer, asks:
"Oh Moderate Muslims, Where Art Thou?"
http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Printable.asp?ID=10665

One is left then wondering who is on the other side of the Civil War that Ifran references in his analogy. How can you have a war if only one side shows up?

In everyone else's view, when only one side shows up to fight - that is a "victory".

The American people really are very deeply disturbed by the situation. We are innately very fair people, and very much believe in freedom of religion. George Bush, painted as a Nazi by much of the far-left, even has defended Islam as a religion of peace.

But how long will the silence continue?

I personally empathize with Moderate Muslims.

My original religion, Presybterian Christian, had been taken over by far-left radicals who have an axe to grind against Israel. I created Web Sites, traveled across the country to speak out against such Presbyterians, and had mass letter writing efforts condemning the Presbyterians antisemitism. I did acheive getting a public apology from the Presbyterian Peacekeepers in having a radical Palestinian represent the Presbyterian religion, which I also widely publicized. In the recent actions at Richmond where the Presbyterians decided to pull out funding from Israel organizations, I spoke directly with the Chief Clerk of Presbyterian Church Government. Now, to be candid, I am a Reformed Presbyterian, not a member of the Presbyterian Church of USA. But I knew that the layman would know no difference and I aggressively fought PC(USA). I have not won. But I will no longer represent myself as a Presbyterian and I have very publicly left the Presbyterian Church.

The majority of those here in the USA, which is a mostly Christian nation, just barely understand the difference between Sunni and Shiite Islam. So they would understand my story, but to understand a message from a moderate Muslim group, that group has to work 500% harder and get 500% more publicity to be understood.

I think to myself - can you imagine what you would have done if a Leftist Presbyterian group would have flown planes into the World Trade Centers? (Just that - and not all the 1000s of threats and terrorism around the world - just that one single terrorist action).

I will tell you. Moderate Presbyterians would go with axes, sledgehammers, crowbars, and they would TEAR DOWN EVERY SINGLE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH by hand as a blasphemy to God. They would denounce and probably end the Presbyterian religion. Moderate Presbyterians would loudly and vehemently protest against Leftist Presbyterians in the street, in Washington DC, in every city in America. In all probability, there would be bloodshed. I would be very surprised if some outraged Moderate Presbyterians did not physically attack Leftist Presbyterians.

OK - what is my point? That I would encourage violence? No.

My point is that if this were my (old) religion, there would be no question that there was a civil **WAR** literally between two factions of the Presbyterian Church. No one would wonder what Moderate Presbyterians thought, because they would know and see. There would be no articles titled: "Oh Moderate Presbyterians, Where Art Thou?"

So as Ifran has made his analogy between the US Civil War and a "Civil War" within Islam, I am fairly asking "where is the other side fighting?"

That is the question that non-Muslim Americans have been asking for 3 LONG SILENT YEARS. What is the answer?




E. Simon - 9/8/2004

Irfan,

I regret the distress you feel with regards to Mr. Ashcroft's obviously hypocritical and selective condemnations as they relate to his own personal affections. We have come nowhere near ultimately and unequivocally resolving the cultural implications of the Union victory on a geographically universal level within the U.S. I do think, however, that it is important to accept that the socio-political implications, at the federal level, of such sentiments will not translate into a reversal of previous trends and lead toward greater injustice toward Black Americans, for instance -- at least not at this time. Certainly at other times in our history (the Civil rights era, for instance - which was not so long ago), we could not afford to be assured that this was the case. It is easy to lose faith that, given his sentiments, he will uphold his oath of impartiality in prosecuting the law, but as with most other attorneys I know personally, I think it is entirely possible that he views his professional obligations as even more sacrosanct.

I am not knowledgeable enough to concede that this is exactly the case with Aziz's mildly(?) pro-jihadist sympathies within the Pakistani government, for instance, and my uncertainty would stem from a shorter history of political stability in this case. It is opportune that the discussion brings me to Pakistan, since along the lines you note, Pakistan is ground zero when it comes to honestly and introspectively accepting the inevitably of how truly ruthless its government must be in order to have a fighting (pardon the pun) chance at successfully confronting this problem. I think the current U.S. administration, by and large, appreciates this fact as well as the overall precariousness of their situation.

But perhaps that dovetails with the point you were trying to make all along. We do ourselves no favors by accommodating a false need to sense a “delicate balance” between the Jihadist movements and the efforts aimed at their destruction. In this respect, perhaps Musharraf is quite a bit more “enlightened” than the Arab leaders. Unfortunately the Middle East is putting itself in the position of having to play catch-up on multiple levels, and they are only compounding.

Hopefully this response will come across as somewhat sensible. I regret the handicap of not having completed the registration on this computer at this time in order to read the article in its entirety. If, after getting the chance to do so, my perception of the context changes, I'll respond with a modified post.

Regards-


James E. Thornton - 9/7/2004

"The hour [Judgment Day] will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them. A Jew will [then] hide behind a rock or a tree, and the rock or tree will call upon the Muslim: 'O Muslim, O slave of Allah! There is a Jew behind me, come and kill him!" - Sahih No. 5203 and Ahmad ibn Hanbal's Musnad, No. 9029

"And when the forbidden months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever you find them and take them captive, and beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they repent and observe Prayer and pay the Zakaat, then leave their way free. Surely, Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful." - The Quran, Sura 9, Chapter 5


E. Simon - 9/7/2004

(to borrow Jonathan Dresner's term...)

Good piece, Irfan - as usual.

I do think I'd like to point out some interesting distinctions between Confederate nostalgia, (and unfortunately - I would assume - in some cases, activism) and Islamic extremism. I recently read an article in the WSJ by Amer Tahiri, written shortly after September 11, 2001. In it he briefly outlines three reasons that make it difficult to confront extremist ideologies within the religion - including the inability to excommunicate, the tradition of death penalty for ex-conversion or blasphemy, and a lack of a centrally recognized theological authority whose judgment and pronouncements would supercede those of anyone else who might issue a fatwa. When taken together, it seems it would make for a politically difficult challenge in confronting or purging the dangerous ideas that might be put into practice.

So while we cannot yet get the entire nation to come to terms psychologically with the implications of accepting the Union victory, especially as regards what some see as their heritage, we do (and did) have a centralized legal and ideologically legitimated authority, who is unafraid to speak with the moral appeal that a Caliph or modern dictator wouldn't. Using force of arms in fighting on behalf of the Confederate cause is not much of an issue nowadays. Nor does talk of reinstituting slavery seem to go far - even, I would imagine, in Southern Partisan magazine. Lynchings (and cross-burnings) have remained a problem despite their decline, but we have legal legitimacy in dealing with them, and the last bastion of rebel-specific inequality, the institution of segregation, has been struck down. So the nostalgia I see as a bit less dangerous as a means for translating ideology into a more insidious daily scenario.

As far as ex-conversion, there is currently no legal penalty for rejecting a personal appeal to Confederate heritage, and certainly not a death penalty for doing so. And as for the last pillar of excommunication, well those who would exercise a deprivation of rights of Southern blacks (through lynching, etc.) would end up in jail today. Purging any remaining beliefs (the excommunication analogy), remains more challenging, but for reasons I've already touched on, less pressing. Over time it would be my hope that these societies and American subcultures would find a better way to come to terms with their more nefarious attributes of times past, but the most important problems no longer vex the majority of us. And once the naked iniquities of political Islamic extremism are similarly vetted out, I'm sure Americans will respond to analogous lingering expressions not so much with the outrage they currently display, but with the same exasperated sighs of an ever so slightly more complacent sense of resignation.


Irfan Khawaja - 9/6/2004

In a passage of this essay, I wrote:

"...Lincoln-bashing is back in vogue and openly promoted by think-tanks supposedly claiming inspiration from the Declaration of Independence."

The link I provided goes (correctly) to the Independent Institute, but I said (somewhat confusingly) that the Independent Institute claims inspiration from the Declaration of Independence.

In a general way I'm sure it does (as this article suggests: http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?ID=228), but at the time I wrote the essay, I was clearly confusing the "Independent Institute" with the "Independence Institute" (http://i2i.org/), which is more explicit about claiming inspiration from the Declaration of Independence.

So my criticism should be understood as aimed at the Independent Institute (of Oakland, CA), not the Independence Institute (of Golden, Colorado). Apologies for any confusion.

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