Friday, 12 March 2010

The Unbearable Wrongness of Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer is a political commentator who has been a pundit on Fox News, and who generally has some interesting things to say when it comes to the War on Terror and the conflicts in the Middle East.

He doesn't always get it right, however, as is evident in his recent comments published at the National Review "Corner".

Krauthammer writes of Geert Wilders:

What he says is extreme, radical, and wrong. He basically is arguing that Islam is the same as Islamism. Islamism is an ideology of a small minority which holds that the essence of Islam is jihad, conquest, forcing people into accepting a certain very narrow interpretation [of Islam].

Is it really "extreme, radical and wrong" to argue that "Islam is the same as Islamism"?

According to Krauthammer's definition of "Islamism", the two are certainly interchangable. As I demonstrated at this blog last year, fourteen centuries of Islamic theological and legal tradition demonstrates that orthodox Islam DOES teach that the Muslim community has a divine obligation to wage war upon non-Muslim nations in order to forcefully subject them to Islamic law. This is not something that only a few "radicals" believe - it is an idea that enjoys widespread support in the Islamic world today, both at the clerical level and among lay Muslims. Does this mean that all Muslims agree with this particular interpretation of the Islamic religious texts? Of course they don't, for a variety of reasons, but unfortunately, these Muslims are not representative of any kind of accepted, coherent form of Islam that can be documented as comprehensively and easily as the jihadist Islam, the "Islamist" Islam. Some Muslims, such as Tawfik Hamid, are doing what they can to fashion an authoritative version of Islam that truly rejects jihad violence, but they are so few and far between that it seems they have no hope of succeeding at this point in time.

Charles Krauthammer also goes on to provide this asinine assessment of Islam in the West:

The untruth of that is obvious. If you look at the United States, the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the U.S. are not Islamists. So, it's simply incorrect. Now, in Europe, there is probably a slightly larger minority but, nonetheless, the overwhelming majority are not.

Here, he is just being naive. First of all, as Robert Spencer notes in his rebuttal of Krauthammer's statements, the fact that most Muslims aren't waging jihad attacks or outwardly showing any hostility to Western freedoms or nations does not mean they disapprove of such attitudes at all. For "[t]here may be any number of reasons why someone is not doing something, and it would be silly to assume that anyone who is not doing some particular thing is refraining because he believes that to do it would be wrong."

In any case, the claim that "the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the U.S. are not Islamists" may be belied by the investigative findings of counter-terrorism researcher Dave Gaubatz, who discovered during a tour of over two hundred American mosques and Islamic centres that "[t]he vast majority teach the worshippers ‘Apostates should be killed’ because it is a major sign of disrespect to Allah, the family of the Apostate is dishonored, and it may lead others to leave Islam." As for Europe...keep your eyes and ears open.

Finally, even if we were to take it as given that the number of "Islamists" in Europe and America constitutes a tiny minority, should we really take comfort from this? After all, the 9/11 attacks, which claimed over 3000 innocent lives, were carried out by no more than nineteen Muslims. It may seem unlikely that a minority could take over and transform an entire society, but history proves otherwise (the rise of the Bolsheviks is a prime example), and in any case, minorities are still capable of causing enormous amounts of damage in pursuit of their goals...even if they never achieve those goals in totality.

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