There is nothing phobic about being concerned over this. And although Islamist ideology is undeniably a mainstream interpretation of Islam in many Islamic countries, that is not the case in the United States — or, for that matter, in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world by population. Contrary to the Brotherhood smear that the Left blithely retails, justifiable anxiety over the Brotherhood’s designs is not a generalized fear of Muslims.
Naturally, this does not stop the CAP report from liberally applying the “Islamophobe” smear to Horowitz, Spencer, and other conservative commentators. I’m also mentioned in the report, something I learned about only a couple of days ago, when the castigation of Horowitz and Spencer was brought to my attention. Ordinarily, I’d sit through an Obama speech on Solyndra’s solar-bright future before I’d waste my time reading a Soros-funded report about a Soros hobby-horse. But David and Robert did read it, and responded forcefully. That prompted a reply from CAP’s Matthew Duss, a co-author of the “Fear, Inc.” report.
Duss’s screed is the CAP report in small compass: long on character assassination, short on substance, disingenuous in relating its targets’ position on Islam (as opposed to Islamist ideology), and woefully incomplete on Islamic scripture. That’s to be expected, and I’m sure it will be a big hit at the many confabs where Islamists and leftists gather. More offensive is CAP’s plea that National Review
go lefty and turn Horowitz and Spencer into non-persons. CAP is basically the Obama administration’s brain — where could NR and the Right possibly get more well-meaning advice about who should have credibility in our movement?
As precedent, Duss purports to rely on Bill Buckley’s famed ejection of the Birchers. The comparison is noxious, but typical. It was only a few years ago that a CAP offshoot (“Campus Progress”) absurdly slandered Horowitz as a racist because he, like the vast majority of Americans, was opposed to the notion that Americans who had nothing to do with slavery should pay slavery reparations to people who were never slaves, 137 years after the abolition of slavery. (CAP might have considered stepping up to the plate for those still living in slavery in Saudi Arabia and Sudan, Islamic countries where the Koran’s express approval of slavery enables the institution to endure.)
Horowitz, of course, is a former radical leftist who became a conservative of singular eloquence. With his intimate knowledge of how the progressive project works, David is his era’s most consequential detractor of the Left, which has only slightly less contempt for its apostates than does Islam (on which more momentarily). Spencer, the longtime director of the invaluable Jihad Watch, is a scholar of sharia who works tirelessly to expose the global Islamist threat and to track the sundry collaborations of Islamists and leftists. To equate their carefully documented, amply supported critiques of Islamism to Robert Welch’s lunatic claim that Dwight Eisenhower was a closet Communist is contemptible.
It is not my burden to refute what Duss has said about Horowitz and Spencer. As one would expect, they have done that ably, here and here. Nor is there benefit in spending much time on what Duss claims is “the actual argument made in ‘Fear, Inc.,’ which is that they, along with a small cadre of self-appointed experts and activists, promote the idea that religiously inspired terrorism represents true Islam.” I have said any number of times that I do not presume to say what “true Islam” is, or even if there is a single true Islam. What the true Islam may be is irrelevant to U.S. national security; what matters is that Islamist ideology — which fuels both the terrorist threat and the Muslim Brotherhood’s multi-faceted civilizational jihad — is a mainstream construction of Islam to which many millions of Muslims adhere. If they believe it and act on it, it is a threat regardless of whether it is an authentic expression of “true Islam.”
I’ve pointedly and repeatedly observed that our government could not have thwarted terrorist attacks without the assistance of patriotic Muslims who’ve worked against the violent jihadists. And, like Horowitz and Spencer, I regularly use the term “Islamist” rather than “Islam” to draw a distinction between the ideology of the enemy and Islam as it is practiced by most American Muslims, and by millions of Muslims throughout the world. We can make a sober concession that Islamist ideology draws on Islamic scripture without leaping to the conclusion that it is the only legitimate interpretation of Islamic scripture.
The most risible aspect of CAP’s Islamophobia smear is that it cavalierly sells out the Muslims it pretends to defend. As the commentators CAP vilifies are wont to point out, among the most persecuted victims of Islamist ideology are Muslim women, Muslim homosexuals, and patriotic American Muslims who, in the tradition of E Pluribus Unum, want to empower their fellow Muslims to assimilate and enjoy Western civil-rights norms — in sharp contrast to Islamists, who regard encouraging Muslims to assimilate in the West as a “crime against humanity.” Duss, however, tells us not to worry about sharia’s compatibility with “a modern society,” because its more unsavory features are not reflected in the practice of Islam by most American Muslims, whom Duss describes as “Sharia-adherent.”
Of course, the problem is that American Muslims are being encouraged (and in some cases, coerced) into fundamentalist sharia — to which most of them are certainly not adherent — by Muslim Brotherhood organizations such as IIIT, which CAP is abetting, whether knowingly or not. (See, e.g., the signatures of IIIT and CAP, along with various other organizations, on this 2009 letter advising President Obama on democracy promotion in the Middle East, also available on the Muslim Brotherhood website, here.) That brings us back to Dr. Alwani and the English translation of Reliance of the Traveller.