Americans Wake Up to Islamism





Mr. Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. This piece originally appeared at Mr. Pipes's website, www.danielpipes.org.

The furor over the Islamic center, variously called the Ground Zero Mosque, Cordoba House, and Park51, has large implications for the future of Islam in the United States and perhaps beyond.


An artist's rendering of the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero.

The debate is as unexpected as it is extraordinary. One would have thought that the event to touch a nerve within the American body politic, making Islam a national issue, would be an act of terrorism. Or discovery that Islamists had penetrated U.S. security services. Or the dismaying results of survey research. Or an apologetic presidential speech.

But no, something more symbolic roiled the body politic – the prospect of a mosque in close proximity to the World Trade Center's former location. What began as a local zoning matter morphed over the months into a national debate with potential foreign policy repercussions. Its symbolic quality fit a pattern established in other Western countries. Islamic coverings on females spurred repeated national debates in France from 1989 forward. The Swiss banned the building of minarets. The murder of Theo van Gogh profoundly affected the Netherlands, as did the publication of Muhammad cartoons in Denmark,.

Oddly, only after the Islamic center's location had generated weeks of controversy did the issue of individuals, organizations, and funding behind the project finally come to the fore – although these obviously have more significance than does location. Personally, I do not object to a truly moderate Muslim institution in proximity to Ground Zero; conversely, I object to an Islamist institution being constructed anywhere. Ironically, building the center in such close proximity to Ground Zero, given the intense emotions it aroused, will likely redound against the long-term interests of Muslims in the United States.

This new emotionalism marks the start of a difficult stage for Islamists in the United States. Although their origins as an organized force go back to the founding of the Muslim Student Association in 1963, they came of age politically in the mid-1990s, when they emerged as a force in U.S. public life.

I was fighting Islamists back then and things went badly. It was, in practical terms, just Steven Emerson and me versus hundreds of thousands of Islamists. He and I could not find adequate intellectual support, money, media interest, or political backing. Our cause felt quite hopeless.


Richard H. Curtiss in 1999 predicted American Muslims would follow Muhammad's path to victory.

My lowest point came in 1999 when a retired U.S. career foreign service officer named Richard Curtiss spoke on Capitol Hill about"the potential of the American Muslim community" and compared its advances to Muhammad's battles in seventh-century Arabia. He flat-out predicted that, just as Muhammad once had prevailed, so too would American Muslims. While Curtiss spoke only about changing policy toward Israel, his themes implied a broader Islamist takeover of the United States. His prediction seemed unarguable.

9/11 provided a wake-up call, ending this sense of hopelessness. Americans reacted negatively not just to that day's horrifying violence but also to the Islamists' outrageous insistence on blaming the attacks on U.S. foreign policy and later the election of Barack Obama, or their blatant denial that the perpetrators were Muslims or intense Muslim support for the attacks.

American scholars, columnists, bloggers, media personalities, and activists became knowledgeable about Islam, developing into a community, a community that now feels like a movement. The Islamic center controversy represents its emergence as a political force, offering an angry, potent reaction inconceivable just a decade earlier.

The energetic push-back of recent months finds me partially elated: those who reject Islamism and all its works now constitute a majority and are on the march. For the first time in fifteen years, I feel I may be on the winning team.

But I have one concern: the team's increasing anti-Islamic tone. Misled by the Islamists' insistence that there can be no such thing as"moderate Islam," my allies often fail to distinguish between Islam (a faith) and Islamism (a radical utopian ideology aiming to implement Islamic laws in their totality). This amounts not just to an intellectual error but a policy dead-end. Targeting all Muslims conflicts with basic Western notions, lumps friends with foes, and ignores the inescapable fact that Muslims alone can offer an antidote to Islamism. As I often note, radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the solution.

Once this lesson is learned, the new energy brings the defeat of Islamism dimly into sight.

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N. Friedman - 9/19/2010

If you say so, Arnold.


Elliott Aron Green - 9/18/2010

Israel did not steal its historical, ancient homeland. As to x% of the territory of the mandate west of the Jordan designated for Israel by the UNSCOP partition plan versus the fact that Jews made up only y% of the population, recall that that whole area --plus Transjordan-- formed the Jewish National Home. So the Arabs got more than three-quarters of the Mandated territory, the Jewish National Home, for themselves [that is, including Transjordan].

Furthermore, speaking about percentages of population, according to the terms of the League of Nations mandate, Britain was supposed to "facilitate" Jewish immigration into the country [article 6]. Britain violated that condition for its rule in the country. Likewise, the Arabs had demanded an end to Jewish immigration, that is the Jewish return to their homeland, which even the Quran endorses. I hope that you, as an Irish patriot, do not view Britain as acting in good faith.

Most Jews in the country in 1947, before the UN GA vote to recommend partition, were living there before WW2. They were not just off the boat. Of course, if the UK had obeyed its mandate [article 6 above] then millions of Jews could have been saved from the Nazis and would have been an overwhelming majority in the country before 1947. So both the UK and the Arabs share a moral guilt in the Holocaust. Moreover, don't forget the Holocaust role of Haj Amin el-Husseini.

As to interests, I hope that you realize that you supported my point against Arnold. You agree implicitly that the UN is not a body concerned with doing justice, upholding truth, being truthful, etc. So UN bodies, especially the UN"human rights" council, are actually opposed to human rights.


james joseph butler - 9/17/2010

Elliott you're certainly correct regarding the wisdom of the majority. However you seem to object to voting "on the basis of interests". Are you serious? Who doesn't vote "on the basis of interests"?

Israel can thank US and European "interests" for its existence if the UN's 1947 vote had anything to do with its birth. This is a state that received 56% of Palestine with only 33% of the population which, as you and I both know, was largely "off the boat", thanks to UN resolution 181. The US, the UK, and Truman, paid heed to Jewish constituencies, the Europeans, from Paris to Moscow, exported their Jewish problem and guilt, and the third world did what they were told because of their "interests".

E, don't insult my intelligence or yours with what drives politics, self-interest is #1.

If you're really concerned about truth and justice you are not a partisan citizen of religion or sovereignity or affiliation of any sort. I know America is guilty of myraid sins. America and Israel share an original sin; we stole the land we live on.

E, you either speak up or shut up when state that truth and justice are your primary concerns. Therefore, Israel is just as guilty as America regarding its indigenous people. True or False?


Elliott Aron Green - 9/17/2010

Israel (whom overwhelming majority found guilty in war crimes on multiple occasions). . .

Arnold, do you mean to tell us that truth and justice are matters of majority vote, maybe in the ultra-corrupt UN "human rights" council? How about in the UN general assembly, most members of which violate human rights?

Isn't it possible that a majority can be wrong? In science, we know that Copernicus and Galileo and Giordano Bruno were right and the majority of expert opinion was wrong. In politics, the situation is even worse because UN member states take positions and vote not on the grounds of concern for justice or truth but on the basis of interests. The ultra-hypocritical European Union does that and is not to be trusted. And you use the asinine rhetorical device of appealing to authority, the authority of majorities --which we know do not give a damn for truth or justice.

gmar hatimah tovah l'kulam


Elliott Aron Green - 9/17/2010

So Arnold, you don't hate Israelis, but only their govt's policies. All of them I presume.

Now, you ought to go further to prove your non-hatred. You ought to specifically denounce Hamas, which, by the way, has some friends in the foreign policy establishment, for openly advocating the genocide of Jews. Otherwise you would appear to be an auxiliary to the pro-Hamas voices in Washington.


Arnold Shcherban - 9/16/2010

I'm sorry Mr. Friedman, I thought you're smarter than throwing around such
accusations as the hatred towards Israelis. I guess, I was mistaken: you're the same ultra-Zionist zealot, as Pipes and Greens, and other of your ilk.


Arnold Shcherban - 9/16/2010

That's again, not true.
My position is balanced and fair, since I (and many others, though admittedly far from majority)do accuse NATO in war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.
(The both wars are nothing more than the wars of aggression, regime change, and factual occupation.)
You on the other hand, invariably give absolution to similar actions of Israel (whom overwhelming majority found guilty in war crimes on multiple occasions) while accusing other countries (some of whom Israel owes its continuing existence) - obvious double standard and total absence of conscience!
But of course, I know, I know: Israel has not done and cannot do any wrong, etc.
Therefore, I wrap this discussion up.


Elliott Aron Green - 9/15/2010

Arnold, Hamas openly declares that it is justified to slaughter all Jews. Israel does not make any such declaration about Arabs or Muslims or Palestinian Arab Muslims or any group.

Nor does Israel practice state terrorism. You may make that claim based on your own ignorance. Israel's retaliation against the Hamas terrorists in Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009 was not a case of state terrorism but of rightful defense. Most of those killed were Hamas terrorists and armed men of other terrorist factions. Israel also struck weapons storage places which were sometimes located in school [ie, the Islamic Univ of Gaza] and in mosques. The fool Desmond Travers who was on the UN"human rights" council's "Fact Finding" mission to Gaza claimed that the Hamas wouldn't have hidden weapons in mosques. He knew this because his "insurgent ancestors" would not have hidden weapons in a church. But Muslims in fact do put arms in mosques, as the American troops in Iraq found out.

So I believe that your charge of "state terrorism" made against Israel is unfounded. You ought to watch out whose words you are echoing.

Now Russia's war against Chechen rebels got a lot of civilians killed, and many are being killed in the war in Afghanistan. But it is quite curious that those who are so quick to accuse Israel have so little to say about the civilians killed by Russia in Chechnya and by NATO in Afghanistan. Is that reticence to accuse NATO a new look for anti-imperialists in the 21st century?


Arnold Shcherban - 9/15/2010

Mr.Green,

I express my views as clearly and non-ambivalently as anyone on these boards.
If you're unable to comprehend
that my "any religion" clause, means that I deplore and ridicule ALL the religions and therefore, their fanatical followers, then you and me operate on different intellectual levels, and most likely will never agree on virtually anything.

Along the same venue: my position on terrorism that certainly deplores and condemns acts of terrorism against unarmed civilians, including Hamas' terrorists and acts of state terrorism by Israel, versus your one-sided accusations against Hamas and total apology for IDF and Mossad,
unambiguously illustrates my intellectual integrity and YOUR (and the others in your camp) hypocrisy.

This has always been and still remains
the main difference in Zionist and unbiased approaches to the analysis of
the Palestinian/Arab-Israeli conflict and the ways of its resolution, in general.


N. Friedman - 9/15/2010

Mr. Hamilton,

Jewish law is not based, as you assert, on the view that the Almighty "is the only proper source of law." Jewish law recognizes that man is an important source of law, which is why Jewish law has substantially evolved over the years.

For example, at one time, Jewish law permitted polygamy. That changed a great many centuries ago. At one time, Jewish law permitted slavery. That also changed.

In some instances, procedural tricks were added to eliminate older interpretations. For example, the Torah, taken as written, allows for capital punishment. However, the Rabbis who were charged with interpreting the law, decided many, many centuries ago that one needed four witnesses to inflict such a penalty. Hence, they, by man made rule making, substituted their preferences for what appeared in the Torah. And, capital punishment basically disappeared from Jewish law.

So, I think your statement is really way off base.

I am not even sure that what you state about Islamic law is really fully correct. Islamic law has room for change by such changes - called customs - being accepted by the community of scholars. Changes sometimes followed the approach taken, in some instances, in Judaism, where judges created their own procedural and interpretative rules to effectively eliminate harsh edicts. Such was most particularly the case - and this goes way back - in the area of slavery, where judge made interpretations of Shari'a lightened the harshness of slavery (relatively speaking, of course).

Jewish law, of course, eliminated slavery entirely. Islamic law has not eliminated it and, given that Shari'a is closer to your statement than Judaism is, there are still Muslim scholars who advocate slavery and slavery is still practiced officially (e.g. in Sudan) and unofficially (in many Gulf region states).

In any event, I think your statement is not correct.


Elliott Aron Green - 9/14/2010

Arnold, you deplore "the fables of post-mortal paradise and/or the Judgment Day..."

Now, Hamas believes in all that and indeed believes that young men should kill and be killed in jihad, in holy war. A Hamas leader just announced that 2.5 million virgins await the mujahidin who die in jihad, that is, "martyrs" by Islamic definition [shuhada]. See link:

http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/2605.htm.

The Hamas charter also states in Article 7 that at Judgment Day the Muslims will kill the Jews who will hide behind rocks and trees. According to Muslim tradition of which this fable is part, the rocks and trees will then cry out: O Muslim, O slave of Allah [=`abd allah], a Jew is hiding behind me. Come kill him.

Now Arnold, this fable does several things that you say are bad: war, slaughter of civilians, afterlife in paradise, Judgment Day. Are you going to denounce the Hamas, which is usually very gently treated by the UK govt and other Western govts, despite its contempt for humanity and for international law [incarceration of Gilad Shalit without red cross access to him]?? Are you going to stand up for your own supposed principles, Arnold, and denounce Hamas?? Or are you just another hypocrite?


Elliott Aron Green - 9/14/2010

one of the troubles with the 2008 election was that too many people were going with their "feelings" and prejudices and not looking at the present POTUS realistically, as a flesh and blood man, indeed, a politician, rather than some Jesus on his second coming walking on water.


N. Friedman - 9/14/2010

Arnold,

My view is that your statement has nothing to do with the article and everything to do with your hatred of the Israelis.


Arnold Shcherban - 9/14/2010

I'm sure as intelligent person as you're
can. However, if you're wrong (or pretending to be so) in your interpretation, it will a logical consequence on you being wrong v. me on
the article's main issue.


N. Friedman - 9/14/2010

Elliott,

The issue in 2008 was Iraq so people, most likely, his supporters did not tune-in to Obama's statements on Afghanistan or did not believe them or agreed with his position.


Arnold Shcherban - 9/14/2010

is a religion - any religion!
It is religion that proclaims the supremacy of some alien, unknown, but omnipresent creature over peoples' minds and lives, thus sanctifying the most totalitarian and dogmatic teaching of all.
Even Communist doctrine (considered by many as the most anti-humanistic and evil) has been evolving and has actually changed more than significantly over the short period of its existence, but religious myths have not changed a bit over several millenniums of their existence.
It is simultaneously a screaming shame, greatest challenge, and greatest obstacle to individual and societal development that in the 21st century the majority of human civilization still consoles itself with the fables of post-mortal paradise and/or the Judgment Day...


Elliott Aron Green - 9/14/2010

speaking of belligerent propaganda, Arnold, how about Hamas' constant incitement to war?

you don't want to criticize Hamas, do you Arnold? How about if I told you that prominent members of the US foreign policy establishment were sympathetic to Hamas? Would that change your mind?


Elliott Aron Green - 9/14/2010

NF & Marja, just because Americans may have become more suspicious or concerned about Islamic or Islamist influence does not logically mean that they ought to support the war in Af-stan. If NF is right in saying that that war is a fool's errand, then others too may think it cannot be won or that Islamism is being fought there in a way that will not defeat Islamism.

What I do not and have not understood is how the "anti-war" could have supported Mr Obama for president in view of the fact that he and his helpers openly called for sending more troops to Af-stan. When Obama was in Berlin in the summer of 2008, he told the huge crowd that came to hear him: The Afghan people need our troops and your troops. And indeed he did send more troops to Af-stan. That is one of the few promises that he kept.

So why did the "leftist" "anti-war" crowd vote for him despite his promise to expand the war in Af-stan??


Arnold Shcherban - 9/13/2010

than the public in all other major countries/co-aggressors, like UK, Italy,
Spain, Australia, etc.
The reason is political and social ignorance, bad knowledge of history, and the most powerful belligerent propaganda in the arrogant superpower nation (based on deep-seated racism and religious myths.)


Arnold Shcherban - 9/13/2010

<... nor to arm battlefield terrorists with public defenders and try them in U.S. courthouses.>
Who are those "battlefield" terrorists?
Taliban fighters or Iraqis who fought US/UK aggression?
And any captured militant, except PROVEN
terrorists, has to be prosecuted according Geneva conventions, as any other soldier.


N. Friedman - 9/13/2010

JJB,

What is his tribe?


N. Friedman - 9/13/2010

And, Arnold, the connection of your view to the article is what, exactly?


N. Friedman - 9/13/2010

Maarja,

You write: "If there were a sudden and genuine, data-based and education related shift in how Americans view Islamists, as opposed to how they feel about Park51, wouldn't support for the war in Afghanistan be rising dramatically?"

That is possible but certainly not certain. For example, I am, as you know, rather concerned about the Islamists and, in fact, know quite a bit about that movement. (Of course, I am not an expert, but that is a different matter.) However, my view is that the Afghanistan war is a fool's errand. I think we have no real chance of success. So, spending people's lives to accomplish what cannot, as I see things, be accomplished at this point is, to me, wrongheaded.


N. Friedman - 9/13/2010

I see my post posted oddly. So, I am re-posting it in its entirety below. And, the reason for the look inside was that I wanted to be sure I had the entire name of Goldhagen's book, so I pasted from Amazon, which serves me right!!!

Here is my post again, with corrections:

Maarja,

You write: "... I haven't studied the corollation, if any, between economic anxiety and nativisim or susceptibility to chest thumping feel good rhetoric ..."

Some of what we see is akin to nativism (e.g. the minister who wants to burn copies of the Koran). Some of it, however, involves real questions, like the Cordoba House. Of course, some of those opposed to that project hold nativist views. Most, I suspect, do not, which is why there is widespread opposition to the Cordoba project but, so far as I know, not for burning a religion's holy books.

Again, and this cannot be emphasized enough, the Islamist movement is a real movement with a real agenda. That movement is, by far, the most successful totalitarian movement since the Nazi and Communist movements. That movement really does look at projects like the Cordoba Center as having strategic significance. And, those pushing the project really do have records which are not wholly consistent with the publicly stated intention to heal wounds. And, clearly, the US, having been attacked (and attempted attacks) by Islamist lunatics - at this point, repeatedly - and being in wars in Muslim lands, the public is not unreasonable to be wary.

Which is to say, the characterization of such people as nativist or, as some have alleged, racist is just not appropriate. Such people may be wrong but being wrong - if they are - does not make such people evil.

I would, if you do not mind a book recommendation, highly recommend Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's recent book, Worse Than War: Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity. The book is, I might add, a very depressing read and Goldhagen, I think, casts his views on eliminationism too wide - bringing in things that, to me, do not fit his pattern. Still, it is a monumental piece of scholarship and analysis. And, as he notes: the thing that Islamism is about is eliminationism including genocide, which Islamists overtly advocate.

I mention the above book because I think that you may perhaps be thinking about the reaction to things like the Cordoba House in a vacuum, divorced from considering what Islamism is about and the trail of misery and death it imparts on everything it touches. In that you are a refugee from the communist horrors, you are certainly in a good position to understand totalitarian thinking and its consequences. Think about it.


N. Friedman - 9/13/2010

CORRECTION:

Strike: "That agenda is, by far, the most successful totalitarian in nature of any movement since the Nazi and Communist movements."

Substitute: "That movement is, by far, the most successful totalitarian in nature of any movement since the Nazi and Communist movements."


N. Friedman - 9/13/2010

Maarja,

You write: "... I haven't studied the corollation, if any, between economic anxiety and nativisim or susceptibility to chest thumping feel good rhetoric ..."

Some of what we see is akin to nativism (e.g. the minister who wants to burn copies of the Koran). Some of it, however, involves real questions, like the Cordoba House. Of course, some of those opposed to that project hold nativist views. Most, I suspect, do not, which is why there is widespread opposition to the Cordoba project but, so far as I know, not for burning a religion's holy books.

Again, and this cannot be emphasized enough, the Islamist movement is a real movement with a real agenda. That agenda is, by far, the most successful totalitarian in nature of any movement since the Nazi and Communist movements. That movement really does look at projects like the Cordoba Center as having strategic significance. And, those pushing the project really do have records which are not wholly consistent with the publicly stated intention to heal wounds. And, clearly, the US, having been attacked (and attempted attacks) by Islamist lunatics - at this point, repeatedly - and being in wars in Muslim lands, the public is not unreasonable to be wary.

Which is to say, the characterization of such people as nativist or, as some have alleged, racist is just not appropriate. Such people may be wrong but being wrong - if they are - does not make such people evil.

I would, if you do not mind a book recommendation, highly recommend Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's recent book, Share your own customer images
Search inside this book
Start reading Worse Than War: Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity. The book is, I might add, a very depressing read and Goldhagen, I think, casts his views on eliminationism too wide - bringing in things that, to me, do not fit his pattern. Still, it is a monumental piece of scholarship and analysis. And, as he notes: the thing that Islamism is about is eliminationism including genocide, which Islamists overtly advocate.

I mention the above book because I think that you may perhaps be thinking about the reaction to things like the Cordoba House in a vacuum, divorced from considering what Islamism is about and the trail of misery and death it imparts on everything it touches. In that you are a refugee from the communist horrors, you are certainly in a good position to understand totalitarian thinking and its consequences. Think about it.


Elliott Aron Green - 9/13/2010

Arnold, first of all, many Jews stayed in the Land of Israel after the Roman defeat of the Jewish Bar Kokhba Revolt in 135 CE. Anyhow, that defeat marks the beginning of the exile from Jerusalem and it took place not 2000 years ago but only 1875 years ago. That is, the exile from Jerusalem [I say Jerusalem since most Jews stayed in the country outside Jerusalem] started 1762 years before Herzl founded the Zionist Congress in 1897. No 2000 years.

The Jews in Israel and Diaspora countries were in constant contact and some who could afford it had their remains transferred for burial to Beth Shearim &#1489;&#1497;&#1514; &#1513;&#1506;&#1512;&#1497;&#1501; in Israel. The Jews remained a substantial part of the country's population into the Arab period. Unfortunately, Jewish numbers were severely reduced by the Crusaders who slaughtered most of the Jews in the country [see Moshe Gil]. The Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099 and the massacres went on for about another dozen years throughout the country although many Jews survived. So the country remained without a sizable Jewish population from about 1110 to about 1850, when Jews became an absolute majority of the Jerusalem population. That is, only 740 years of the absence of a sizable Jewish population. You say that Jews don't have a right to return from the Diaspora to which Jews remained attached even after 1110. Jewish migration in and out of the country continued, even during the later Crusader period when the Crusaders had calmed down.

The Arabs claim a "right of return" after 62 years since 1948. If we accept the principle of a "right of return" when does it run out? When does it or did it run out for Jews? How long does it take to run out?

As to the historic, ancestral homeland of a people, it is a historic fact that is not subject to the passage of time. Albeit you may or may not agree with the principle of a right of return. But does it ever run out for Arabs who rejected the Jews' right of return [except in limited numbers] during the Holocaust? More importantly, we ought to ask why the major world powers kept the 1948 Arab refugees in their refugee status till today, when much larger groups of refugees in the same period of time [post-WW2] have been long ago resettled?? Think of the ten million or more refugees who moved between India and Pakistan, of the 15 million ethnic Germans driven out of Eastern Europe after WW2. Of the several million Greeks driven out of Anatolia by Ataturk in 1922, and the 400,000 Turks later driven out of Greece in an agreed exchange of populations negotiated by Fridtjof Nansen who went on to win the Nobel Prize for arranging international approval for ethnic cleansing already accomplished and for peaceful ethnic cleansing yet to come.


Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 9/12/2010

The U.S. public's recognition of what the radical muslims intend for us has been gradual, not sudden. So has the public's recognition of the difference in approach taken to it by George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama.

Much of the decline in Obama's popularity has been the result of this slow public awakening in the United States. It is not popular with the vast majority of us to allow a triumphal mosque to be built at Ground Zero, nor to arm battlefield terrorists with public defenders and try them in U.S. courthouses.

Furthermore, President Obama looked very bad when, at first, his people--including Gen. Casey-- said that the Christmas bomber and the Fort Hood killer were acting alone. Americans are frightened to learn that the leadership of these 8th century maniacs is more determined than their own, which often looks very stupid. They know there are thousands of maniacs trying to kill us, and they suspect the current leadership is failing to provide for the common defense.


Arnold Shcherban - 9/12/2010

There is no "historic, ancestral home" for any nation after 2000 years not living at that home, period.
If all tribes/ethnic groups begin to return to their "historic, ancestral" homes, this world will go mad!


R.R. Hamilton - 9/12/2010

I know that is a provocative question, but it has to be asked.

We Americans are now learning about "Sharia (Islamic) Law" and are reacting to its inhuman and un-American aspects. But does Sharia law have a different foundation than "Talmudic (Judaic) Law"? No, it does not. Both postulate that their deity is the only proper source of law. We recognize this concept to be un-Christian ("render unto Caesar what is Caesar's") and un-American ("governments (and, therefore, laws) are instituted among men", not "by God"). We should use our growing awareness of the dangers of all forms of alien and anti-American legal doctrines.


Maarja Krusten - 9/11/2010

Hmm, it doesn't look as if I will be buying Hamilton book, American Caesars. I looked through the Nixon chapter in the bookstore and found it wanting. I just looked to see what some of the reviews have said about it. These two reviews from the Boston Globe and the Statesmen suggest other chapters may be problematic as well, at least if one is applying the types of standards I like to see in historical assessments:

http://www.newstatesman.com/books/2010/07/bush-hamilton-rove-war

http://www.boston.com/ae/books/articles/2010/09/08/caesars_sizes_up_power_of_the_presidency/


Maarja Krusten - 9/11/2010

Hah! My "I'm withholding judgment" may be misconstrued, since I followed it by saying W seems a decent man who might have done better with a different team of advisors. The public face of his administration, in the form of most of its surrogates, wasn't very effective. I meant I was withholding judgment on the thinking that went into the Iraq war. As I've noted previously, I'm very interested in information flow, confirmation bias, staffing, the extent to which leaders are or are not aware of their vulnerability to becoming caught in a bubble, etc. Little is known about that yet for the previous administratio.


Elliott Aron Green - 9/11/2010

NF, if Jews return to their historic, ancestral homeland, then jjb calls them "colonialists." He also calls the Jews in Israel in 1945 "Europeans." In view of the Holocaust that did not end until May 1945, it is absurd to call Jews "Europeans," whatever the newsreel may have done. The Europeans showed during the Holocaust that the Jews in Europe did not belong to their group. As for the Arabs, the chief leader of the Palestinian Arabs, Haj Amin el-Husseini, collaborated in the Holocaust, spending most of the war years in the Nazi-fascist domain. Other Arab nationalists also collaborated with Hitler. Several leaders spent the war years in Berlin along with Husseini.


Elliott Aron Green - 9/11/2010

`Umar, la habibna, you might be interested in reading the new book, The Arab Lobby, by Mitchell Bard. Since you are so seemingly concerned about alien influences on US foreign policy, Bard's book might enlighten you.


Maarja Krusten - 9/11/2010

I'm withholding judgment on G. W. Bush until I have a chance to read his memoirs and to see what is disclosed from his White House records. And yes, like every president, from the first one to the present, I do think there are areas where historians will find that he showed courage.

As to partisanship, the issue isn't whether people hold certain views but how they handle partisanship. In his new book about American presidents (American Caesars), Nigel Hamilton has a quotation from Nixon in which he said that Eisenhower liked everyone and that he didn't hate those who disagreed with him, he simply just thought they disagreed with him. (Hamilton doesn't capture Nixon effectively in the chapter he devotes to him, in my view. Too cartoonish.) What Nixon attributed to Ike was a benign or serene form of partisanship. Another type is the version in which people hate or fear those who disagree with them. Or link it to self esteem ("I can only be somebody if I consider you to be nobody.") That's the type for which the origins can be difficult to suss out.

With a different team around him (a Bob Gates type VP rather than a Dick Cheney, for example, and a more astute political advisor than Karl Rove) who knows what he might have been able to do. I think W was a decent man. With different advisors and surrogates, I think W might have been able to avoid some of the hyperpartisanship and negative images about dissent that emerged during his administration. But, of course, he chose that team. I'm very interested to see what he says in his memoirs about the rapid erosion of the strong, strong sense of unity in the nation after 9/11. I was working in my office in a federal building in Washington, DC, not far from the Capitol, on September 11, 2001. I thought about that day a great deal this morning.


james joseph butler - 9/11/2010

His


james joseph butler - 9/11/2010

"It's the economy stupid" could be recited daily as the answer to every problem in America and you'd never be wrong when it comes to the impact of the pocketbook on everything, and that includes xenophobia. When times are tough you dance with the one ya brung, not a bunch of foreigners, whether they're busboys in Arizona or Muslim millionaires in Manhattan.

Maarja, W and public opinion? You're not really suggesting that W showed political courage regarding Iraq war #2? Seventy one percent of Americans thought invading Iraq was a good idea in March 2003, so the numbers dipped, W had been reelected, what did he have to lose? This is a man who commingles Jesus and the Pentagon. He was fighting EVIL, he believes in heaven and hell, what's a Pew poll?!

Pipes and partisans, of course he's partisan. I am, N is, and I dare say if we "drill down" you are as well Maarja. (jjb and nf are deep water horizons and you're a tidal pool)

President Obama's response to Wendell Goler's desire for him to, "weigh in on the wisdom of building a mosque a couple of blocks from ground zero," was perfect because he connected the past, our founders' desire to treat all religions equally, to the present, the majority of Americans desire to discriminate based on religion regarding the construction of a house of worship. This is simple.


Maarja Krusten - 9/11/2010

Here's another area where Pipes provides no support for his assertion that Americans' eyes have been opened. If there were a sudden and genuine, data-based and education related shift in how Americans view Islamists, as opposed to how they feel about Park51, wouldn't support for the war in Afghanistan be rising dramatically? Instead, it's been dropping, with more and more people saying, "let's bring home our troops not just from Iraq but also from Afghanistan." The logical outcome of a realization of an existential threat would be to cry out for robust counter moves to combat it. I've seen nothing in polling data that shows support for greatly increased defense spending (with a concurrent decrease in domestic spending to avoid a larger deficit) or bringing back the draft so that the burden of fighting enemies abroad is borne by more citizens. And certainly none of the spirit of sacrifice embodied in "my family and I can do with less so our country will be more safe" which one might expect in wartime. Heck, it's not even there in the rhetoric of the demagogues, which is why it is hard to distinguish between posturing and calculated actions and genuine concerns among some of the best known demagogues on this issue.


Maarja Krusten - 9/11/2010

I can't brush off the economic angle without data. We just don't have the data. Also, although I've studied aspects of American history, I haven't studied the corollation, if any, between economic anxiety and nativisim or susceptibility to chest thumping feel good rhetoric.

Pipes never addresses why polling has shifted a bit since 2001. It's not as if Americans reacted to 9/11 nine years ago by attacking their Muslim neighbors or rejecting service by Muslim doctors or tradesmen or service workers. Or picketing or attacking their places of worship. It served the U.S. well that for the most part, the general population vaguely distinguished between those who attacked us and adherents of a faith different than theirs who lived here peacefully in America and kep0t their cool. There are many countries and cultures where that would not have been the case. I don't see that anything has changed in those 9 years to change that.

A few demagogues seized on the Park51 issue but mostly used emotivist arguments such as those related to "hallowed ground." That doesn't really prove anything much about understanding extremists except the age old ability of people to stir up others by appealing to emotions. I don't see the education about Islamists or opening of eyes going on that Pipes implies.

Pipes's piece seems to just express how he feels. Did you read his links? Look at the link in the paragraph which reads, "The energetic push-back of recent months finds me partially elated: those who reject Islamism and all its works now constitute a majority and are on the march. For the first time in fifteen years, I feel I may be on the winning team." It goes to an article about GOP rhetoric which describes a "shift [that] plays to a hostility toward Islam among many Republican voters, and it fits with traditional Republican attacks on Democratic weakness on security policy." In other words, partisan blather or calculated political attack. Such links undermine what Pipes says about teams, because they suggest he's speaking as a partisan, not as an American. If he didn't mean to do that, he should have linked to another article or more clearly defined his use of the word team. All in all, an awkwardly written essay.


N. Friedman - 9/11/2010

Maarja,

My wife is also a refugee so I am with you on that. So far as the Cordoba House is concerned, I really do suspect that the public is more right than not in thinking that there are serious questions about the Imam, about the impact of the project, etc., etc. It certainly is not going to help, as the Imam says he wants, to heal wounds. It, more than likely, has opened very real wounds and drilled into them.

As for what the President says, I rather doubt that he is correct. But, of course, I have not seen polling. Then again, I rather doubt that polling could get to the bottom of the issue. I think there are, as I noted, a whole host of factors involved, some real concerns and, likely, some crazy ones as well. Economics is, if it is involved, merely one minor aspect that is cited by the President because it allows him to continue his approach to governing and dealing with the world's problems.


Maarja Krusten - 9/11/2010

N., I know of no drill down polling data that illustrates why members of the public feel about this issue as they do. And of course, anyone who studies the presidency knows that presidents don't always do what was or is popular. Think the Iraq war, which public opinion turned against but Bush still held the course.

The President in his press conference suggested that economic anxiety was a factor in the Park51 polling. Perhaps someone will study the issue in depth to see if that is the case. Hard to do, however, as it requires a certain level of self awareness. I certainly know of nothing that supports Pipes's contention that "the American people" have woken up.

Let's see how they react to the President's view that "it's just us." That has been the American vibe up until now. As the child of war refugees, I naturally focus on that aspect of the issue. I wouldn't be here, living in freedom and safety, if America had not been welcoming of war refugees after World War II.

See
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/10/AR2010091005452.html?referrer=emailarticle






N. Friedman - 9/11/2010

JJB,

You write: "I was about to respond to Pipes' tribalism"

What tribe are you referring to?


james joseph butler - 9/10/2010

I was about to respond to Pipes' tribalism with a typically hormonal male vent, till I read you Marja.
Which may cap my Friedman response.

I like Mad Men too, apart from the male fantasy aspects(Which of course I enjoy.)it's really well done. "Management science long ago moved beyond the Mad Men age" Sorta. Isn't the current recession Exhibit A in the case against progress in "management science"? Sure managers and executives are more politically correct but how is Don's #1 concern, $, different from Donald's or Bill's or Warren's? Money trumps science.

Pipes, "coulda been a contender", for what? Terry Jones with a brain? Pipes' portrait of the Arab world is the 19th century American picture of the Indian world; violent and ignorant.

TCM showed a December 1945 newsreel on Palestine, 9/5th, the "Time Marches On" series, great stuff. I highly recommend it. Anyone with any sense of cultural or historical relativity will see it for what it was and is, a racist justification of colonialism. Look at the nice Europeans, even if they are Jews, fixing those pesky swamps and deserts.


N. Friedman - 9/10/2010

CORRECTION:

Strike: "I think you underestimate that the general public lacks a sufficient perceived understanding of Islam and Islamism."

Substitute: "I think you overestimate that the general public lacks a sufficient perceived understanding of Islam and Islamism."


N. Friedman - 9/10/2010

Maarja,

I think you misread Pipe's when he writes: "Americans reacted negatively not just to that day's horrifying violence but also to the Islamists' outrageous insistence on blaming the attacks on U.S. foreign policy and later the election of Barack Obama, or their blatant denial that the perpetrators were Muslims or intense Muslim support for the attacks." Pipes is saying that Islamists blamed attacks on America on President Obama. Of course, I think you are correct that Pipe's sentence was not well crafted.

I do agree with you that further investigation into the causes of American concern about the Cordoba Center is needed. On the other hand, I think you underestimate that the general public lacks a sufficient perceived understanding of Islam and Islamism. I think the public has, in fact, formed views on the matter and are not merely following demagogues.

An anecdote - which occurred last evening - might give you a sense how well the public gets things: My wife and I were dinner guests at a friend's home. At some point, a discussion of the mosque came up. The statement was made by our host that it is part of Islam to build a mosque at the cite of a conquest.

I did not respond. On the other hand, I know that building such a mosque is certainly not a religious obligation. However, building a mosque or converting another faith's religious institution into a mosque is, indeed, a custom that has occurred with quite a number of conquests by Muslims. Among them, in Cordoba and in Constantinople (conversion of the cathedral of Constantinople into the Blue Mosque), etc., etc. And, it is, quite clearly, something that Islamists would be expected to advocate.

I think what my less than well studied host was trying to say is that, for those Muslims who side with the Islamists, the building of the Cordoba Center will be perceived as a victory marker/symbol by Islamists and their fellow travelers. That is rather likely. And, it is that about which people worry.

So, while there is no general expertise by average Americans about Islam and Islamic history, I think people do have some understanding - enough to be rather hostile towards anything that smells of Islamism, which they have had enough experience with to understand it as being a bad thing (whatever the Cordoba Center/Park51 is really about or not about). The question is why now and, I suspect, there are a whole host of things that have impacted on the public.

My guess: (a) the fact that the US has troops fighting Muslims, (b) the fact that newspapers continue to report each horror or attempted horror committed by Islamists as unexpected or an aberration and to question the motives of religious fanatics who state unequivocally that they are motivated by religion and (c) that the government - perhaps, for good strategic and/or tactical reasons or not - has chosen to elide the Islamist religio/ideology from public discourse and, (d), also perhaps for good strategic and/tactical reasons or not, embrace the appeasement approach to dealing with the Muslim regions. And, of course, a bad economy tends to focus the mind, especially when we have troops fighting and arguable incompetence by the government.

And, lastly, I think the President has made things worse, with the public thinking he does not stand with them. (The GOP has, of course, done its best to sell this concept but, I think, the President has been salesman in chief for the GOP - not the other way around.) I think the President began hurting his own credibility with the public when he, many months ago, jumped into the Sgt. Crowley/Professor Gates matter, which the public perceived as the President siding with the elite - and doing so even before there was any investigation, thus exposing his own biases.


Maarja Krusten - 9/8/2010

Hah. The History News Network is fast becoming a site for “Feelings, nothing more than feelings! Lemme Tell Ya How I Feel!” Why are we so awash in emotivism here? Doesn’t anyone believe in scholarship any more?

First there’s the title (which Pipes may not have chosen but he hasn’t shown up here to object): “Americans Wake Up to Islamism.” No, dude, Americans haven’t woken up. You have to look at why Park51 became an issue in 2010 in a way it might not have in 2005. It isn’t because people have woken up. Many of them don’t know the first thing about Islam any more than they understand terms such as socialism or fascism that chest thumping but inherently cowardly blowhards on cable tv and radio throw around. The number of people who understand the distinction between what is an Islamist and how that differs from a believer in Islam is tiny. And the biggest loudmouths aren’t among them. Or if they do understand, they’ve made a calculated decision to stoke fires in a tinderbox setting of economic anxiety and moral confusion.

Steve Pearlstein asserts in a column today that the economic issues the U.S. faces are structural. He also explains that “The reason there were 8 million additional jobs back in 2007 is that demand for goods and services was artificially - and unsustainably - inflated by cheap, plentiful credit. Between 2002 and 2007, household debt was increasing at the torrid pace of more than 10 percent annually, while business debt and the debt of state and local governments was growing at an average of 9 percent. Much of that money was used to finance present consumption.” As some Americans retreat into saving more – the rate has increased recently from 0 to 5% -- they may have an inchoate sense of how their earlier living beyond their means contributed to the recent bubbles. But it’s tremendously hard to say, “well, I contributed to the economic collapse, I’ll have to man up.” Better to blame Washington (government) or New York (Wall Street). Or to lash out at whatever seems scary.

So the blowhards on talk radio have a ready-made audience for some of their whining. That doesn’t mean people have woken up to anything or suddenly become educated about national security and foreign policy. Show me the number of people who could have a serious convo with SecDef Gates about Islam or the correct balance of hard and soft power. Not many. They may be worked up but many of them just are scared and anxious and primed for scapegoating. Why not try to work with them – most of them are good, solid citizens – rather than work with the blowhards to wreck more mischief?

OK, so the blowhards seem to have decreed that any polemic by a writer on the right must contain a screech about apologies. Check. Done. Pipes worked on in to this essay. Never mind that management science long ago moved beyond the Mad Men age where Don Draper tells Peggy Olson “that’s what the money is for!” (Sunday’s episode, “The Suitcase,” was the best of the new season so far.) While those of us out in the working world have embraced the idea that it’s ok to talk about strengths and weaknesses and that owning one’s weaknesses can be a sign of strength, moving out of the era where “Father Knows Best” is tough for some. I get that. Control, top down communication, and the myth of infallibility provide a comforting sense of strength, even if it’s only aluminum foil over a marshamellow. Whatever. If you want to understand the modern management model, look at what my former employer, the U.S. National Archives, is doing now in terms of acknowledging problems:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/07/AR2010090706869.html?referrer=emailarticle

Finally, why are we subjected to such garbled sentences as this in Pipes’s essay: “Americans reacted negatively not just to that day's horrifying violence but also to the Islamists' outrageous insistence on blaming the attacks on U.S. foreign policy and later the election of Barack Obama, or their blatant denial that the perpetrators were Muslims or intense Muslim support for the attacks.” Is he saying Americans reacted negatively to the election of Barack Obama? It may well be that some of them did, as a minority reacted badly to W being elected, but most still believe in the democratic model that has served the nation so well for over 200 hundred years. Rejecting or trying to take down a president elected by a majority of the American people just because “OMG I can’t cope with democracy” is inherently un-American. If Pipes is applauding cry babies, he’s encouraging sissification of Americans. And if he means Islamists blamed 9/11 on the election of Obama, well, sorry dude, while a lot of political discourse is written on the level of comic books, with cartoon characters, we don’t live in a sci-fi world of time travel.

Meh. Another guy who coulda been a contender in leading on issues of serious import but choose another path. Next!


omar ibrahim baker - 9/8/2010

Whether Pipes is, or is NOT, aware that his words, each and every one, go against what the USA has been presuming and, with some, sincerely working at in the domain of religious freedoms IS, to Pipes, unimportant!

What is important to him is that a state of constant and irreparable alienation between Moslems, Islam, and the USA shall always prevail.

That is the cause to which he has seemingly devoted his life and pen in the service of Israel.

Absolutely nothing is surprising here since his prime, and only (?), commitment and loyalty resides outside the USA!
He can go on praising bias, glorifying bigotry and doing his utmost to preach and foment Arab/Moslem-American eternal enmity EXCEPT that that presumes :
-a blind and unpatriotic American majority that relegates USA interests to a secondary position
AND
-that American majority will go indefinitely tolerating and harbouring presumed Americans whose primary allegiance and loyalty resides outside America.

Is that not the old syndrome that devastated his community not long ago?

What Pipes advocates, expected and allowed for as they are, are neither harmful nor of interest to the Arabs and Moslems as much as it is, and should be, to the Americans!


Arnold Shcherban - 9/8/2010

<While Curtiss spoke only about changing policy toward Israel, his themes implied a broader Islamist takeover of the United States. His prediction seemed unarguable.>
Whaaat?


Meredith Bixby - 9/8/2010

The word is not unambiguous. Replace it with "terrorist" and you'll have truer communication. And it will be plain to see that smearing all adherents of Islam as criminals is just silly.
This para is nonsense - get an editor:
"9/11 provided a wake-up call, ending this sense of hopelessness. Americans reacted negatively not just to that day's horrifying violence but also to the Islamists' outrageous insistence on blaming the attacks on U.S. foreign policy and later the election of Barack Obama, or their blatant denial that the perpetrators were Muslims or intense Muslim support for the attacks."

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