Monday, May 26, 2014

Daniel Pipes' "Can Islamism Evolve Into Democracy?" Engenders Heated Debate

Daniel Pipes, that cockeyed optimist, sees a scintilla of a glimmer of hope that such an evolution may indeed be possible (it's in today's NatPo). The NR's Andrew C. McCarthy, however, is far less sanguine:
I can think of no worse choice we could make, and thus none more likely for the current administration to make, than to see a small ray of hope that Islamism could improve as a rationale for further collaboration with and concessions to Islamists. Islamism is the ideology of our enemies and the bane of the reformist and pro-Western Muslims who are our real friends. It needs to be defeated, not brought around.
Meanwhile, Diana West has had it up to here with the "Islamism" palaver, and has harsh words for McCarthy:
About a decade of self-imposed confusion on "radical Islam,"  "extremist Islam," or, lately, "sharia-ism" when the threat is simple Islam. The simplicity eludes us in exercises that are endlessly Baroque. That's what I take away from Andy McCarthy's response today at NRO to a piece by Daniel Pipes.

Andy writes:

His column is about “Islamism,” which is the ideology I (among others) call “Islamic supremacism” — a.k.a “radical” or “extremist” Islam, or even “sharia-ism” in the recent coinage of my friend Joy Brighton . . . all of us, it should be conceded, grappling for the pitch-perfect term that (we hope) justifies sidestepping the gnawing question whether Islam itself inevitably breeds aggressive Muslim groups even if it is otherwise widely construed, or at least practiced, benignly. (Italics in the original.)

To me, this paragraph is deeply depressing. I think it's the egg-shell-delicate emotionalism with which Andy and his peers ("all of us")  are still  "grappling" with this simple, simple subject of Islam -- the "pitch-perfect term," after all. Why such angst? Why such nonsense words ("sharia-ism")? That there are people in this world who see fit to follow the totalitarian and supremacist precepts of the Koran and the rest of the authoritative Islamic texts is not a cause for Christian or Jewish or Zoroastrian embarassment. That there are people in this world who consider Mohammed, the first jihadist who "married" a six year old, their model is not a cause for agonizing guilt among those who follow Jesus Christ, Moses, Pan or the wind.

Our era's seemingly eternal conversation about the "ists" and "isms" that mainly Christians and Jews like to cloak Islam with continues here.
I use the words "Islamist" and "Islamism" not to obfuscate but to connote those Muslims who take the supremacist/triumphalist teachings of Islam--that "jihad is the way, sharia is the goal" stuff--seriously (because there are many Muslims who do not, and who have no interest in it).

Update: I left this comment on the NatPo site:
Another big problem--every time Islam "evolves" it does so by going backwards and looking to the example of purer men in purer times (which is to say the time of Muhammad and the so-called rightly-guided caliphs who succeeded him). Every movement that's gained traction, including the Muslim Brotherhood, seeks to make Muslims "better" by making them hew to the religion's supremacist/triumphalist teachings, the ones embedded in Islam's core religious texts and codified by all schools of Islamic jurisprudence. To expect that "Islamism" can evolve into something distinctly Western and infidel is to ignore history and to succumb to a pointless--and deadly--optimism.


Pierre said...

Shakespeare said "a rose by any other name would still smell the same".

You can redefine "Islamist, radical Islam, extremist Islam, sharia-ism" any way you want. But the underlying fact remains. Islam as a system, trains and incites a small percentage of its most devout followers that it is OK to commit violence in the name of Islam.

These devout followers are responsible for all the violence associated with Islam. These devout followers may work on their own – like Mohammed Bouyeri the killer of Theo Van Gogh. Or work in groups – like the 19 men on 9/11. Or they may get together in larger groups such as Al Queda.

They all are following Islamic theology. What you decide to call it – does not matter. The different names only give cover and plausible excuse to Islam (as a whole.)

The core problem is really simple: The Koran, Haidith, Suna and other Islamic theological documents incite independent Muslims to commit violence in the name of Islam. After that – it is simply numbers. And obviously – for 1,400 years – the number of Muslims willing to commit violence in the name of Islam has been high enough to keep Islam just the same as its “core teachings” (Koran, Haidith, Suna and others.)

Well-meaning non-Muslims waste time trying to isolate the “real” problem within Islam. Because the “real” problem is Islam as a whole. Without significant Islamic reformation (enlightenment) this problem will continue.

I document in detail how this works in my thesis “Islam is Fear” which can be found at:

scaramouche said...

To paraphrase Gertrude Stein and more or less quote Artie Erdogan: Islam is Islam is Islam.