Monday, August 30, 2010

Neoconservatism flayed

Long operating as a kind of stealth force, the neoconservative movement began to take shape in the 1970s. At that time a number of intellectuals, originally leftists or liberals, began to doubt the effectiveness of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society initiatives and those that arose in its wake. They held that some programs, such as affirmative action and public housing, were actually worsening the situation they purported to help. Neoconservatives also favored a vigorous, proactive foreign policy, at first with regard to the Soviet Union, then in the Middle East. Unlike libertarians and paleoconservatives, neocons are comfortable with the welfare state, though they seek to bend it to their ends.

The late German-American political philosopher Leo Strauss ranks as the magus of the movement. though most of the actual organizing has been done under the aegis of the New York editor and journalist Irving Kristol, who excelled in popularizing the ideas. Other influential neocons include Irving’s son Bill Kristol, David Brooks, Norman Podhoretz, Charles Krauthammer, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Allan Bloom, and Harry V. Jaffa. The leading neoconservatives organs have been Commentary, The Public Interest, (founded by Daniel Bell and Irving Kristol) and The Weekly Standard (edited by Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes). Several think tanks, including the Project for the New American Century, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), and the Henry Jackson Society, serve as incubators for neocon ideas. Collectively, these institutions function as a kind of “invisible university,” communicating laterally and externally to advance the cause.

Although it tends to align itself with the Republicans, neoconservatism is not an organized political group or faction of one. Somewhat disingenuously, its adepts like to term it a “persuasion” or “mood,” denying that it is an ideology. Yet neoconservatism most certainly is an ideology, in some ways an insidious one.

Now comes “Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea” (Paradigm Books, 2010). C. Bradley Thompson, the principal author, has been assisted by Yaron Brook. Since Thompson (an academic who teaches as Clemson University) was formerly a foot soldier in the neocon army, this is a “breaking-ranks” book, somewhat reminiscence of the Cold War classic “The God That Failed” (1949).

As the authors acknowledge, the obituary is somewhat premature, but with the debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan, both heavily backed by the neocons, they are clearly losing ground. “Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea” seeks to expose what the neocons call their philosophy of governance--their plan for governing America. Studying the texts with great tenacity, the authors provide the most subtle analysis I have seen of the complex connections that link the neocons with their guru, the University of Chicago professor Leo Strauss, who died in 1973. Thompson and Brooks believe that the claims of the neocons to support American interests are a sham, and that the movement is actually a species of anti-Americanism. In fact, the supporters of the trend show little enthusiasm for the traditions of the American founding. In this vein they ridicule the aspirations to limited government that libertarians and many paleoconservatives derive from this heritage. Instead, they favor big government, providing that, in their wisdom, they can somehow pull the levers of power. In this aim they do not shrink, according to Thompson and Brook, from advocating the deployment of fraud and force. Despising the masses, these elitists believe that the herd of ordinary folks, who are incapable of any philosophical dimension, must be controlled by propagating “noble lies” among them, especially those rooted in religion. Although many, probably most of the neocons are of Jewish extraction, they are typically nonobservant.

Because of their elitism and deviousness, Thompson and Brook conclude that the neocon program is crypto-fascist. This is a serious charge, but the writers support it by showing Leo Strauss’s connection with Carl Schmitt and Martin Heidegger, both later implicated with Nazism, and his admiration for Mussolini.

Largely absent from the book is any discussion of the pronounced turn of the neocons towards defending the state of Israel, even when its interests diverge from those of the United States. The authors do not discuss the key neocon paper of 1998, “A Clean Break,” produced for Benjamin Netanyahu and urging an invasion of Iraq. Having infiltrated the Bush administration, the neocons were able to implement this disastrous idea in 2003. The omission of the Israeli connection is curious, because Yaron Brook is in fact an Israeli, though he has lived in the US for a good many years. Evidently, the omission of this major theme reflects a deliberate decision on the part of the authors.

Early on in the book, the authors make a significant blooper when they relocate the famous Alcove One (in a cafeteria where a number of individuals met who were to become key neocons) from City College in Upper Manhattan to Brooklyn College (p. 16).

More worrisome, though, is the fact that both authors profess to be followers of Ayn Rand. Yaron Brook in fact serves as the executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute. (He must not be confused with the neocon journalist David Brooks, who receives many hard knocks in the course of the volume.) On the whole, however, Thompson and Brook keep their eye on the ball, and the Randian element is not obtrusive.

These criticisms notwithstanding, this book appears to be the weightiest analysis of neonconservatism yet published. Regrettably, this noxious movement is not dead yet, but incisive interventions like this one should hasten its demise.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

The terms "homophobia" and "Islamophobia"

Those who are concerned with the care of language often assert that standards of accuracy and awareness of word origins are declining. The prevalence of texting and other electronic means of communication seems to be accelerating this trend.

Twenty-five years ago when I published my little book entitled “Homolexis” I was gratified to note that there was considerable interest in exploring our inherited stock of words to describe (and often, sadly, to excoriate) same-sex behavior. Yet when I released an improved version on the Internet (“Homolexis Glossary”) it attracted little attention. Such is the nature of the vast empire of Babel known as the Netosphere.

The word homophobia is formed from the Greek words homo meaning "the same" and phobos meaning "fear." However, it was used from 1920 to mean "fear of men, or aversion towards the male sex" (Oxford English Dictionary), using the Latin meaning of homo, "man." This meaning is obsolete.

From 1969 onwards it has used with its current denotation, first appearing (in print) in Time magazine for October 31, 1969. Kenneth Smith first used the term in a professional context in a 1971 article in a psychological periodical. A little later George Weinberg popularized the expression in his book “Society and the Healthy Homosexual” (also 1971). He claims to have conceived the term several years earlier; this claim cannot be verified. At all events, the term is a shortened form of homoerotophobia, coined by the late Wainwright Churchill in his “Homosexual Behavior among Males” in 1967.

Critics, including those sympathetic to gay people, have observed that the term homophobia is problematic because empirical research support is weak for the claim that heterosexuals' antigay attitudes constitute a phobia in the clinical sense. Most heterosexuals who express hostility toward gay men and lesbians do not manifest the kinds of physiological reactions that are associated with disorders like agoraphobia and ailurophobia.

For better or worse the term “homophobia” has thrived for almost forty years. It has withstood the test of time.

More recently, the term has engendered several siblings in the sexual realm, including biphobia, lesbophobia, and transphobia. While these terms have proved less popular, their intent of describing opposition to bisexuality, lesbianism, and trans people is clear.

In addition there is a larger class of words to describe aversion or hostility to ethnic groups and nations. These include Anglophobia, Francophobia, Germanophobia, Indophobia, Islamophobia, Italophobia, Japanophobia, Polonophia, Russophobia, and Sinophobia. The possibilities are limitless. As far as I know, the term Brazilophobia has not been used. But as Brazil is coming to play an increasingly important role nowadays in world affairs, resentment will be bound to grow (as it already has in some neighboring South American countries), so that the term is likely gain traction.

These days the epithet “Islamophobia” is ubiquitous. It is freely employed to excoriate anyone who offers any criticism of the behavior of Muslims or particular doctrines of Islam. Much of the popularity of this term is due to Leftist multiculturalists, especially in Western Europe. All too often these politically correct individuals choose to look the other way when it comes to Muslim aggression and violence against women and gay people.

Historically, Islam has been savage in its treatment of Hindus and Buddhists. (By comparison Christians and Jews in Muslim lands have “benefited” from the dubious protections of dhimmitude.)

Today, those who hurl the reproach of “Islamophobia” show little if any interest in bringing Muslims to the bar of world opinion for their Indophobia and Homophobia. These atttitudes and the cruel behavior associated with them must be ignored or excused. Today India, with its Hindu majority, is a powerful country and it is not prepared to tolerate Muslim violence, which is rare--though not absent as seen in the recent attack on the Mumbai hotel.

It is high time, it seems to me, for gay people, at the risk of being charged with Islamophobia, to focus on Muslim crimes against us. If one form of -phobia is reprehensible, then the others must be as well. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. We must brave the accusations of "Islamophobia," in full awareness that these accusations are made in bad faith.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Government expansion, anyone?

I have long favored limited government. In so many areas of our lives things seem to be going the other way. In some localities, for example, renters are required to allow inspectors in to see if there are any violations. The last time these snoopers showed up at my door, I refused to let them in. "We’ll be back,” the vowed. But they haven’t been. So there are some intrusions that one can stand up to--but not many.

Moreover, there doesn’t seem to be any universal rule in these matters. In his most recent piece in Mother Jones, Kevin Drum (a leftist with sanity) puts it this way.

“If you can find liberals who favor charter schools, less regulation of small businesses, and an end to Fannie Mae, that's well and good. But that's 10% or less of my world view. I also favor high marginal tax rates on the rich, national health care, full funding for Social Security, more spending on early childhood education, stiff regulations on the financial industry, robust environmental rules, a strong labor movement, a cap-and-trade regime to reduce carbon emissions, a major assault on income inequality, more and better public transit, and plenty of other lefty ambitions that I won't bother to list. If we could do all that without a bigger state, that would be fine. But we can't. When it's all said and done, if we lived in Drum World I figure combined government expenditures would be 40-45% of GDP and the funding source for all that would be strongly progressive. 'Statist' is an obviously provocative (and usually puerile) way to frame this, but really, it's not all that far off the mark. It wouldn't be tyranny, any more than Sweden is a tyranny, but it would certainly be a world in which the American state was quite a bit bigger than it is now.”

I wouldn’t make as many concessions to big government as Drum does. Teachers' Unions are the biggest single obstacle to educational reform; they need to be curbed, not strengthened. Cap-and-trade has pretty much been abandoned. Unless it is very carefully targeted, pouring more money into public transit is probably a waste. As regards increasing income equality, that is easier said than done. Social Security is in fact fully funded: we just have to keep people's hands off it (including Leftists) who want to divert the money for their pet projects.

We are unlikely to adopt the night-watchman concept of minimalist government. Government is not likely to undergo any significant shrinkage. It would be reasonable, however, to require that those who seek to expand the scope of government in one area agree to a compensatory shrinking in another. Reasonable, though unlikely to be adopted. Hardly anything that is desirable can be effected in Washington nowadays, which probably means that national decline is inevitable.



In a slow news cycle the controversy about the Park51 Islamic center rumbles on. Those who question the project are commonly said to be suffering from Islamophobia. Muslims and their defenders like this term because it suggests that any and all criticism of Islam and Muslims is irrational.

It seems that they never bother to ask about the origins of this neologism. "Islamophobia" is clearly cognate with "Homophobia." Neither is really a phobia--at least not necessarily--but never mind. There is an irony in Muslims seizing on a concept that was originally devised to protect a group of people who are condemned, in some cases lethally, under sharia law.

If Imam Abdul Rauf and his colleagues at the Park51 project were sincere in their effort to achieve harmony and reconciliation they would set aside a room for gay and lesbian Muslims in their center. Gay marriages could be solemnized there. I'm sure that Irshad Manji and other out Muslims would be glad to help out. Of course, this will never happen. Anything of this sort is contrary to sharia law, and sharia law is immutable,

European Muslims are by and large virulently antihomosexual. Mainstream US Muslims are said to be different. In this respect, as in others, they are not so different.

Btw, Imam Abdul Rauf says that the US already is sharia-compliant. Its principles of humanity and equity (sic) are said to be identical with ours. These seems odd, because I haven't noticed any adulterers being stoned in the country, not to mention unbelievers and apostates being beheaded and homosexuals placed where walls will fall on them.

Sharia is not simply some vague set of abstract principles as some now misleadingly assert. There is a broad consensus among the four schools of Sunni jurisprudence. While the main (Ja'fari) school of Shi'a law is different, it generally comes to the same results, which are based on the Qur'an and the hadith. This consensus is upheld by the ulama (body of Muslim jurists) in every country in which there are significant numbers of Muslims.

UPDATE (Aug. 26). We keep hearing from the PC establishment that controls most of our media that we mustn't have this debate because it is destroying our credibility in Muslim-majority countries. According to a story in today's NY Times that is not generally so. Many Muslims in other parts of the world are impressed by our free exercise of a spectrum of opinion. In their own countries their authoritarian government does not simply restrict itself to limiting the rights of the Christian and Jewish minorities, but prescribes w h i c h f o r m of Islam will be allowed. Once again our craven PC punditry is spreading misinformation.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mission Accomplished, NOT

The Wall Street Urinal, in unison with much of our idiotic MSM, is trumpeting the propaganda claim that the "Last US Combat Brigade" has left Iraq. Bullshit.

We are still planning to keep 50,000 troops in that beleaguered country. Casualties among the Iraqis are mounting, not decreasing. And of course in addition to the remaining troops, there are an unknown number of brutal mercenaries, known as contract employees. The vast US Embassy in Iraq is apparently second only to the Pentagon in size and influence.

I am old enough to remember when our first troops in Vietnam were termed "advisors." Heaven help any poor person in the countries that we are "helping" if he or she gets in the way of their "advice."

These two appalling, unnecessary wars are now Obama's responsibility. They will mark his presidency as surely as Vietnam marked that of LBJ. Together with the dismal state of the economy, that means that Obama's is a f a i l e d presidency.

UPDATE. John McCain tweets: "Last American combat troops leave Iraq. I think President George W. Bush deserves some credit for this victory." That tangle of absurdities says it all.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"The Mosque"

One would think that the controversy about the Cordoba Initiative ("the Mosque") would remain a New York matter, to be settled locally, Yet, exacerbated by President Obama's ill-advised remarks, it has morphed into a national issue. Extensively aired in the media, the project has garnered a negative assessment of some 60% in the nation as a whole.

Why has this negativity developed? One reason is that people in the heartland see the defenders of the Mosque as mostly members of the liberal punditocracy. Distrust of these privileged folks, which has long been rife, has intensified because of the general alienation from our political and institutional structure. And of course the blogosphere provides a more varied perspective, with many contributors, I would assume, speaking out against the Mosque.

More important, I think, is that ordinary people notice a disconnect between between the defense of this Muslim facility and what they view as attacks on long-standing Christian features of our society--creches, saying "Merry Christmas," crossses in certain public places, and so forth--attacks that seem to reflect an effort to de-Christianize our society. Why don't these bien pensant pundits and politicians (e. g., Mayor Bloomberg) subject public displays of Islam (we just had a dinner in the White House) to the same withering criticism that they normally accord observances of Christianity? The reason, of course, is not their determination to drive "religion" from the public square--but that they want to drive the C h r i s t i a n religion from the public square.

The love affair of the liberal-left spectrum with Islam ("moderate" Islam, of course) has many roots. It is particularly prevalent among the people I call Euro-polyannas. In his two books Bruce Bawer has thoroughly exposed these fools. The background of all this is--that there is no background. Everywhere, a tremendous lack of knowledge of Islam, and its supremacist history, prevails, This willful ignorance makes it easy to regard these mosque-builders as "just folks." Of course the liberal pundits detest the folks, so that ploy is an obvious instance of bad faith.

In newsrooms, apparently (I have never worked in one), an atmosphere of ridiculing religion prevails, so that those who profess a religious faith are well advised to remain in the closet--not unlike the gay journalists of yore. Unless, that is, one is writing a religion column, where the writer nonetheless has to be careful not to offend the atmosphere of militant secularism that reigns among his colleagues.

Among the many ironies is that former President Bush--that consummate bungler and idiot--is being asked to come out of retirement so as to defend the mosque, in keeping with his earlier polyannaism regarding Islam. In a bizarre era in which a Glenn Beck says gay marriage is fine, one can, I suppose, expect anything.

As devoted readers know, I have written a torrent of words in an attempt to expose the deceit and fabrication that infest all three Abrahamic religions. I am not defending religion. But I am curious to know why this mosque has elicited so much favor--and so much hostility.

Perhaps the Mosque might have received a more uniformly positive reception if it had been presented as part of a larger project for implanting religious centers, including Christian and Jewish ones, near Ground Zero. But the punditocracy wouldn't like that at all. They hate all religion--except for Islam.

Oh, I forgot: the Dalai Lama is always OK.

UPDATE. In an interview with a San Francisco radio station House speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she joins "those who have called for looking into how is this opposition to the mosque being funded." She added: "How is this being ginned up?"

This is truly bizarre and outrageous. Those who dare to question the Mosque will now have their "funding" questioned. This is the tactics of a police state, and stands in direct contradiction to the First Amendment protection of freedom of speech.

By way of personal declaration, my own funding comes exclusively from my pension. Is Pelosi going to have Social Security go after me? Give me a break!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Cordoba Center controversy

I take no position on the proposed Islamic Center in lower Manhattan near the World Trade Towers site. Still, I like Greg Gutfeld’s idea of creating a gay bar next door. Since the developers of Cordoba Center say they favor tolerance and understanding, they should welcome their new neighbor. This proposal may encounter some problems, though, because of zoning regulations. A better idea would be a Gay Marriage Center, in which weddings would be performed by an interdenominational staff, including a gay imam.

A torrent of comment has appeared regarding this controversy. I haven’t read much of it, since my concern with Islam focuses more on the faith’s foundations--in the seventh and eighth centuries CE. I do not take a current-events approach to religion.

As far as I can tell, though, no one has cited an interesting parallel. In 1984 Roman Catholic nuns of the Carmelite Order opened a convent near Auschwitz in Poland. Some Jewish groups called for the removal of the convent, and representatives of the Catholic Church agreed in principle in 1987. Two years later the Catholic Church ordered the Carmelites to move, but they remained until 1993, leaving behind a large cross. The cross had originally been erected at the time of the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979.

This led to further protests by Jewish groups. Catholics countered that considerable numbers of Polish Catholics, including the sainted priest Maximilian Kolbe, had died at Auschwitz.

The controversy was further inflamed by the erection in August 1998 of some hundreds of additional smaller crosses outside the Auschwitz site, despite the opposition of the country's bishops. Government efforts to resolve the situation through the courts by revoking the lease on the land met with little success. Eventually, local authorities removed the crosses to a nearby Franciscan monastery, sealing off the site to prevent the erection of further crosses. For the time being, though, the large cross remains.

One can offer several reasons for keeping the convent (which is now gone) and the cross or crosses. It is not simply that Catholics died at the site, but the convent at least could be regarded as an act of atonement.

Nonetheless these Christian religious intrusions are acts of almost unbelievable insensitivity. There are plenty of other places where the convent and crosses might be set up. Sometimes what one c a n do is not what one s h o u l d do.

I would apply the same yardstick to the proposed Cordoba Center. Yes, it can be done legally. But to do so would be a major act of insensitivity. The facility would stand as a continuing focus of controversy, going against what we are told would be the chief purpose of the Center, to promote harmony and understanding. For this reason, the sponsors would be well advised to find another site in Manhattan.

POSTSCRIPT. The television personality Greg Gutfeld has proposed, quite sensibly, that a gay bar be opened next to the Center aka mosque. His own name for the bar is "Heaven and Halal." Some others that have been proposed seem better:

Homo-hammad's Hamlet; Saddam's Spider Hole; Jihad Judy's ("We're not in Mecca anymore, Toto"); The Naughty Saudi; The Camel's Hump; Osama's Oasis; Faghdad's; Pray and Play; Between the Sheikhs; Ba'ath House; Sodom Who's Sane?; My Cave or Yours?; You Mecca Me Feel Like Dancing; Khomeini Men, Kholittle Time.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Where the Islamo-pollyannas go wrong

The clash between the anti-jihadists (such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer) with those who may be called Islamo-mitigationists (for want of a better term) is a prominent feature of the intellectual landscape these days. In this posting I concentrate on the latter group, citing the view I hold to be mistaken first, then commenting on it.

1. No fault detected among Muslims may be admitted without immediately citing a similar fault found among adherents of some other religious tradition. -- This is the principle of moral equivalence first identified by William James in 1906. A familiar example stems from the Cold War era. When students of Soviet affairs pointed out that Pravda purveyed many lies and distortions, others were quick to point out that there are lies and distortions in the New York Times. Yes, there were and are; I notice them on a daily basis. But the two problems are on an entirely different order of magnitude. So there is an error of proportionality here. Moreover, in other cases where one might expect moral equivalence to be invoked, it is not. For example, when the noxious views of a Rev. Fallwell or a Rev. Hagee are invoked, it suffices to indict these views for what they are. In fact, that is what should be done. As G. E. Moore is reported to have remarked: “A thing is what it is, and not another thing.” So too with Muslim crimes and excesses; they deserve to be examined in relation to Islamic history and doctrine, without trying to change the subject.

2. The unrest and violence of Muslims, especially in the diaspora, is due to imperialist incursions. Absent such interventions, Muslims would be essentially peaceful. Therefore it is the West that is at fault. -- Ironically, this view represents a new version of the Orientalist concept that the peoples of the East are inherently inert and passive.

3. In al-Andalus and the Ottoman empire, religious minorities led harmonious and productive lives, protected by their wise Muslim rulers. -- Today, most historians have dropped the slogan of convivencia, recognizing that the situation of non-Muslims in al-Andalus was blighted by the jizya and dhimmi status. In the Ottoman Empire things were worse, because of the Janissary raids, countless military incursions in the Balkans, and a general atmosphere of corruption.

4. The Prophet was a model citizen who led a blameless life. -- This is nonsense. Allowing his followers only four consorts, the historical Muhammad had at least eleven wives, one of whom (Aisha) he violated when she was nine years old. In at least one case, Muhammad ordered the massacre of all the males in a Jewish group that had opposed him, even after they had surrendered.

5. The Qur’an is a unitary document, emitted by the Prophet over a 21-year period. -- In fact scholarship has shown that the Qur’an consists of at least three strata: a pre-Islamic foundation, partly of Syrian origin; the elaborations of Muhammad himself (and not of course of the angel Gabriel); and later additions and subtractions. As we have it today, the Holy Qur’an was not put together until at least 150 years after 632, when the Prophet died. Therefore he could not have authorized the totality of it. To this day, there is no critical edition of the Qur’an.

6. Muslims created the first universities. -- In fact, these institutions were only madrasas, limited to teaching the “Islamic sciences.” Only the West invented liberal-arts universities.

7. Women flourish under Islam, reveling in their protected status. -- In fact, many women do not. Those who claim to be happy in their state of servitude, are probably victims of the Stockholm Syndrome.

8. Today's Muslim hostility to homosexuals is matched by Christian hostility. -- The orders of magnitude are entirely different. Uganda is discussing--discussing--a bill making homosexual conduct subject to the death penalty. Yet capital punishments is on the books in six Muslim-majority countries. Actual executions of gay men are taking place in Iran, Iraq, and the Palestinian territories, often under horrendous conditions.

9. There is a bright-line distinction between violent jihadists (or Islamists) and “moderate Muslims.” -- In fact, members of the latter group often slide over into the former. Even “moderate” mosques in Western Europe are typically funded by Saudi (Wahabi extremist) money.

These are but a few points, taken from my more extensive studies.


Sunday, August 08, 2010

Islamic expansionism

Regular readers of this blog are aware of my determined opposition to our disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We should never have invaded those countries. Having made that appalling mistake, we should have withdrawn at the first opportunity. We have not done so. Instead, President Obama has intensified the war in Afghanistan and seems determined to retain control in Iraq, through one means or another. Some things are very hard to change.

At all events, in my opposition to our current wars I have found myself in agreement with my friends on the left, but this accord prevails only up to a certain point. In particular I am mystified by their embrace, which seems unshakeable, of a particular meme. That meme goes as follows. In our disputes in the Middle East and elsewhere in the Third World, it is always the West, particularly the US, that is at fault because of our obstinate interference. This interference takes place under the banners of imperialism, neo-colonialism, nation building, “development aid,” and other nefarious endeavors. If only we would maintain a hands-off policy, it would appear, these countries would surely return to the peaceful tranquility that is deeply ingrained in their nature.

Abundantly falsified by history, this contrast between the aggressive West and passive East denies those Others any agency of their own. The claim is that they only respond when we act. Ironically, this contrast of active West and passive East ranks as an ectopic avatar of Orientalism. One of the tenets of Orientalism, as analyzed by the late Edward Said, is that the East is stagnant and inert; while the West is energetic and progressive.

I have found it very difficult to get my leftist friends to separate themselves from their one-note samba which blames Western imperialism for pretty much all the troubles that the world is experiencing.

One of my correspondents has proffered a more specific version. This observer asserts that fifty years ago people in Muslim countries were essentially quiescent. We should have let sleeping dogs lie but, foolishly, we riled them up.

History does not bear out this assumption of a pervasive Islamic passivity some fifty years ago. Let us first take the case of Turkey, which is particularly revealing because we are so often told that Turkey is the very model of a moderate Islamic state, a pattern that should be emulated elsewhere. Before reviewing the facts, which are not pleasant, I should state that I have visited Turkey twice and have profited from the experience, Turks have retained a kind of old-world courtesy that makes dealings agreeable. The following paragraphs then are not so much about Turkey, or other nations, but about the libido dominandi, the dominance-fixation of Islam. which is definitely not a “religion of peace.”

In 1915, with the distraction of World War I serving as a cover, the Ottoman authorities initiated the genocide of the Christian Armenians. Some scholars have sought to implicate imperial Germany, Turkey’s ally, in instigating the massacres. This view has been generally rejected. While it is clear that the Germans could have done more to stop the actions, they were clearly “made in Turkey” and not the product of imperialist machinations. To this day, Turkey is trying to deny the facts of the Armenian genocide.

In 1923 the Greek and Turkish governments agreed to an “exchange of populations,” with the Greeks in Turkey being sent to Greece, and the Turks in Greece to Turkey. These relocations involved some two million people. While the expulsions were ostensibly done on the basis of nationality, religion was actually the deciding factor, for some of the Orthodox deportees from Turkey spoke only Turkish, while some of the Muslims removed from Greece spoke only Greek. This was the first instance in modern times of ethnic cleansing on a major scale.

These two events--the Armenian genocide and the ethnic cleansing of 1923--are infamous. A further incident is not so well known. During World War II the Greek, Armenian, and Jewish citizens who remained in Turkey were conscripted into labor battalions, where harsh conditions prevailed. From 1942 to 1944 the government collected the Varlik Vergisi, a capital tax levied exclusively from the non-Muslim population, i.e. Christians and Jews. Those who went through these travails got the message, and most of them left the country as soon as they could.

Today, according to the CIA World Fact Book, Turkey is 99.8% Muslim. This result has been achieved not through natural causes, but by means of a series of actions undertaken in accordance with specific policies. Despite its secular character, Turkey has ended up demographically in the same condition as Saudi Arabia. Achieved by very different means in the two countries, this demographic accords with the primordial Muslim vision that the whole world must by one means or another be made to convert to Islam. So much for the “religion of peace.”

Let us look at a couple of other examples. The first concerns the African nation of Sudan, which is religiously divided between the Muslim north and the Christian and animist south. Since independence the southern region has been devastated by two civil wars. First, the Sudanese government fought the local Anyana group from 1955 to 1972, and then SPLA/M after the founding of the group in 1983. The second conflict lasted twenty-one years, resulting in serious neglect, stunting of infrastructure development, and major destruction and displacement. In these conflicts more than 2.5 million people have been killed, and more than 5 million have become displaced, becoming refugees as a result of the civil war and war-related impacts. Whatever the complexities of this conflict, and they are many, the following point must be stressed: it is the Muslim north that has been trying to repress the Christian and animist south, and not vice versa.

For many years Malaysia has been undergoing a process of radical Islamization, even though only 60% of the population is Muslim. The situation has become bizarre. As defined by the constitution of Malaysia, Malays m u s t be Muslim, regardless of their ethnic heritage; otherwise, legally, they are not Malay. Consequently, apostate Malays must forfeit all constitutional privileges, including their Bumiputra status, which entitles them to affirmative action policies in university admissions, discounts on purchases of vehicles and real estate, together with other benefits. It is legally possible to become a Malay if a non-Malay citizen with a Malaysian parent converts to Islam. However, the convert must "habitually speak the Malay language" and adhere to Malay culture.

In this way Islam in Malaysia is closely linked with the Malay people. One Islamic scholar has dryly pointed out that Malaysian Islam is "still clothed in communal garb; . . . Muslims in Malaysia have yet to understand what the universal spirit of Islam means in reality."

I have cited examples from three regions: western Asia, Africa, and southeast Asia. Local conditions differ. Yet what is constant in the advance of Islam by genocide, expulsion, warfare, and legal manipulation is the dualism that underlies Muslim policies. In this view--according with the "universal spirit of Islam"--the world is divided into the Dar al-Islam (the abode of Islam) and the Dar al-Harb (the abode of warfare). With the advance of the former, the latter must constantly shrink. That is the dynamic of the Islamic world today, which has not changed in essential respects since 632.

NOTE. For the historical and theological background of Islamic expansionism, see my magnum opus, Abrahamica, Chapter Six at: