The Corner

Islam v. Islamism … again

My column over the weekend undertook to defend my friends David Horowitz and Robert Spencer against the allegations of “Islamophobia” leveled at them by the Center for American Progress, an influential Leftist think-tank. In the column, I pointed out that I make a habit of using the term “Islamist” (or “Islamism”) to distinguish the aggressive and often violent sharia agenda of America’s enemies from “Islam” as it is practiced by millions of Muslims — in America and elsewhere — who are not Islamic supremacists and who do not seek to impose Islamic law on civil society. I added that Messrs. Horowitz and Spencer also draw this distinction. In making that claim, I was quite certain that I had seen the term “Islamism” in the essay they jointly wrote for NRO a few weeks back. In fact, the word appears in the title of that essay, “Rational Fear of Islamism” — although, for all I know, the title could have been written by the editors rather than the authors.

Robert emailed me over the weekend. While he seemed to agree with most of what I’d written, he offered this correction: He does not use the terms “Islamist” and “Islamism.” In his view, the “Islam/Islamism distinction is an artificial one imposed by the West, with no grounding in Islamic history, theology, or law.” Coincidentally, I now see that, at Jihad Watch, he posted a piece called “Islam and Islamists” on Friday (i.e., the day before my column was published), fleshing out his views on this subject. 

I respectfully disagree with Robert (which will come as no surprise to readers of my last book, The Grand Jihad). I think it would be worthwhile to explain why, and I will do that in an upcoming column. The point of this post is to provide a clarification: Robert Spencer does not use the terms “Islamist” and “Islamism” for the reasons explained and elaborated on in the Jihad Watch post I’ve cited, above. I regret saying otherwise.

The error does not alter my contention that CAP’s charge of “Islamophobia” is without merit. Again, there is nothing phobic about fearing the nexus between Islamic doctrine (as classically rendered in, for example, the sharia manual Reliance of the Traveller) and the threat Muslim terrorists and stealth jihadists pose to the West. Moreover, the fact that Robert sees the Islamic doctrine in question as Islam rather than as one credible interpretation of Islam (which I call Islamism) hardly makes his concerns irrational.

Most Popular

Elections

Elizabeth Warren Is Jussie Smollett

Elizabeth Warren has a moving story about being fired from a teaching job because she was pregnant, a story that perfectly complements her political narrative that she is the tribune and champion of those who have been treated unfairly by the powerful. Joe Biden has a moving — and horrifying — story about his ... Read More
Culture

The Origins of the Transgender Movement

Editor’s Note: This article has been adapted from remarks delivered at a Heritage Foundation summit. I’ve been asked to talk about the origins of transgenderism and how it relates to children and their exploitation. But first, I would like to start with a little story. Yesterday I was wandering around ... Read More
World

Kurdish, Syrian, and Turkish Ironies

Outrage met Donald Trump’s supposedly rash decision to pull back U.S. troops from possible confrontational zones between our Kurdish friends in Syria and Recep Erdogan’s expeditionary forces. Turkey claims that it will punish the Syrian Kurds for a variety of supposed provocations, including aiding and ... Read More
PC Culture

Defiant Dave Chappelle

When Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special Sticks & Stones came out in August, the overwhelming response from critics was that it was offensive, unacceptable garbage. Inkoo Kang of Slate declared that Chappelle’s “jokes make you wince.” Garrett Martin, in the online magazine Paste, maintained that the ... Read More
Sports

LeBron James Looks Like a Fraud

So, LeBron James claimed that Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey was simply “misinformed or not really educated on the situation” when he tweeted his support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. “I don’t want to get into a feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at ... Read More