Muslim Brothers

By Eliza Griswold
The New Republic, June 9, 2010

Edited by Andy Ross

A Mosque in Munich
by Ian Johnson
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 318 pages

America's efforts to use the religious and political fervor of Islam to its own ends followed a Nazi program intended to do much the same thing during World War II. In the eastern regions of the Soviet empire, the Third Reich mobilized Muslims and other ethnic minorities to fight for the liberation of their homelands. The Nazis plucked Muslims from German prisoner-of-war camps: some became German soldiers, some joined the SS, and some worked as propagandists.

Once World War II ended, many of these men were employed by the United States. The CIA used Radio Liberty to broadcast anti-Soviet propaganda into Eastern Europe. To reach the millions of Muslims in the Soviet Union, the Americans turned to the former Nazi workers. The idea was to use Islam to undermine the Soviet system. Islam, American officials mistakenly believed, was the ideal antidote to godless communism.

Ian Johnson tells us: "Islamists differ from traditional Muslims because they use their religion in pursuit of a political agenda, via either democracy, or violence. ... Implicit in Islamism is a rejection of Western society and its values." Americans continue to misunderstand that much of Islamism is born out of opposing the West.

America continues to support groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. American bureaucrats and foreign policy-makers turn to the best-looking business-suited Islamist leaders as allies. Many are tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is a proponent of radical Islam. The United States finds it easier to turn to self-appointed spokesmen for Muslims than to reach out to Muslim groups that are organized by ordinary people.

Johnson interviewed members of the European branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. One day in Köln, Johnson rode along with Ibrahim El Zayat, a young Islamist who leads many German Muslims, in his BMW. Zayat is controversial, and it is hard to know whether or not he condones the use of violence. At the end of the ride, when Johnson asked Zayat about his alphabet soup of radical affiliations, Zayat replied: "I don't deny that I'm in these groups. ... When I'm asked clearly, then I answer." We must ask the right questions.

AR  I'm shocked, shocked at the perfidy of it! Americans took over not only Nazi jets and rockets but also Nazi spies and agents! As for the Muslim Brotherhood, who ever doubted that it has a political agenda that sets it on a collision course with the West?

Guilt and Surrender

By Geoffrey Wheatcroft
National Internest, April 30, 2010

Edited by Andy Ross

The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism
By Pascal Bruckner
Princeton University Press, 256 pages

The New Vichy Syndrome: Why European Intellectuals Surrender to Barbarism
By Theodore Dalrymple
Encounter Books, 160 pages

Pascal Bruckner argues that Europe's crisis is even worse than it appears. He is concerned with a collapse of self-confidence manifested by:
— A drop in the birthrate so drastic that populations are no longer growing
— A reflexive hostility to the United States and Israel
— A self-hating narrative of national and continental history
— A perverse refusal to take seriously the threat from militant Islam.

Bruckner mocks the notion of Islamophobia as it is now used by the softer-headed European liberal Left to deflect any criticism of Muslims as a form of bigotry supposedly akin to racism. The willful elision of religion and race is an obvious category mistake. Criticizing a religion is not racism.

Some on the left seem to find it hard to admit that too many Arab states are corrupt autocracies at best and murderous theocracies at worst. European confusion about how to deal with Muslims is further complicated by the question of Israel. Just as reasoned criticism of the Muslim religion isn't Islamophobia, so too reasoned criticism of Israel cannot be dismissed as anti-Semitic.

The West's position had been compromised by a loss of nerve, or by a bad conscience about the injustices of capitalism and colonialism.

Theodore Dalrymple is a provocative conservative commentator. His targets are multiculturalism, political correctness, moral relativism, the culture of complaint, the substitution of rights for civic and social obligation, the catastrophic implosion of the underclass, and whatnot.

Dalrymple's father was a Communist, his mother a Jewish refugee from Germany. He has spent his life as a doctor and psychiatrist working some of the grimmest English prisons. He is no armchair warrior.

Dalrymple writes that "Western Europe is in a strangely neurotic condition, of being smug and anxious at the same time," wanting "as of right, both security and luxury in a world that neither can nor wants to grant it either." But does that mean that Europe is dying or that it will succumb to internal decay and a demographic revolution?

Islamophobia is one problem, another is the fear that Europe is under threat of Islamization. Europe has acquired a large Muslim population but made no serious effort to assimilate it. Given the respective birthrates, Muslims can only become an ever-larger minority, many of whom will not consider themselves citizens of Europe.

The Continent needs to think how it can absorb its new Muslim citizens. Even liberals can't be happy about arranged marriages and "honor killings" of girls who choose the wrong boy. But Dalrymple's mordant spirit can carry him away. He tells us that Muslim youths "regard young white women in Britain, not without good reason, as vulgar sluts." And he writes that the British defeat of China in the nineteenth-century Opium Wars "must surely be applauded by all those who believe in man's inalienable right to intoxicate himself with anything he pleases."

Europe must recover the old self-confidence with which it once fashioned the world. Europe and America should reconnect. But it takes two to tango.

AR  See my new book for a proposed renewal of the background ideology of the Western world.

Women and Islam

David Rothkopf, Foreign Policy

Edited by Andy Ross

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton argues that the women of Afghanistan are one of the reasons we are there. The fundamental human rights of women trump the teachings of any religion. To denigrate, abuse, or devalue in any way the majority population of the earth is either an affront to God or an affront to decency.

Should we be providing aid of any sort to any nation that doesn't honor the most basic tenets of the universal declaration of human rights? What is going on in these countries is a disgrace every bit as grand and incomprehensible and awful as the Holocaust.

We need a new international understanding on these issues, one that will produce a coalition of nations that will strictly enforce a ban on aid to countries that abuse women. No one has been more tireless or vocal in pursuit of these goals than Clinton. We can't be a moral society and turn a blind eye to this.

AR  Sure — we must condemn Islamic gender politics.

Muslim Grrrls

Rafia Zakaria, Guernica

Edited by Andy Ross

I grew up in Pakistan. Since I migrated to the United States, I felt that a clean line could be drawn between the legal secular world in which I was being trained and the gray area of women’s rights and responsibilities in Islam.

Practising law, I saw the battle to define equality as far from the realities of everyday lives of ordinary Muslim women. The American legal system allowed them a level of equality and self-realization that was not yet available in Muslim countries.

In the vast majority of Muslim countries, Islamic law, interpreted for centuries by men, is being used as a tool to enslave women. If things are to change, the recipe lies not in eliminating faith from the legal sphere but rather redefining it.

"Islam is like a drug"

Hamed Abdel-Samad, Der Spiegel

Edited by Andy Ross

I predict the downfall of the Islamic world. In almost all countries with a Muslim majority, we see the decline of civilization and a stagnation of all forms of life. Islam has no convincing answers to the challenges of the 21st century. It is a doomed religion.

Islam is like a drug. A small amount can have a healing and inspiring effect, but when the believer reaches for the bottle of dogmatic faith in every situation, it gets dangerous. Islam divides the world into friends and enemies, into the faithful and the infidels.

My dream is an enlightened Islam, without Sharia law and without jihad, without gender apartheid, proselytizing and the mentality of entitlement. A religion that is open to criticism and questions.

The terrorists invoke religion. And the perpetrators invoke the Koran more often than not. That's why we urgently need heretics who question everything about this religion.

Most so-called reformers of Islam remind me of the band on the Titanic. The underlying problems are not addressed. The Koran itself is never questioned. Reformers and conservatives alike continue to be obsessed by the holy book.

The dangers posed by Islamists are real, and many Muslims' unwillingness to integrate in Germany is a serious problem.

Muslims: I'm Sorry

By Nicholas D. Kristof
The New York Times, September 19, 2010

Edited by Andy Ross

Extremist Muslims have led to fear and repugnance toward Islam as a whole. Many Americans believe that Muslims are prone to violence.

I've seen some of the worst of Islam: theocratic mullahs oppressing people in Iran; girls kept out of school in Afghanistan in the name of religion; girls subjected to genital mutilation in Africa in the name of Islam; warlords in Yemen and Sudan who claim to be doing God's bidding.

But I've also seen the exact opposite: Muslims in Afghanistan who risk their lives to educate girls; a Pakistani imam who shelters rape victims; Muslim leaders who campaign against female genital mutilation; Pakistani Muslims who stand up for oppressed Christians and Hindus; Muslim aid workers in Congo, Darfur, Bangladesh and other parts of the world who risk their lives to help others. Those Muslims set a standard of compassion, peacefulness and altruism that we should all emulate.

To them and to others smeared, I apologize.

AR I fear that Nicholas Kristof is doing some Christian grandstanding here. He can grovel all he wants, of course, but there may not be much future for primitive faiths. We need compassion that rises above Christian or Muslim orthodoxy and finds its faith in secular harmony. Only by leaving the prejudices of priests and imams behind can we meet the challenges of this millennium. Our science and industry have given us a world beyond the ideas of the old prophets. We don't believe in alchemy or write on papyrus. I say it's time to update the business model of faith, hope and charity.


By Bruce Bawer
City Journal, September 2010

Edited by Andy Ross

The plan by Terry Jones to burn copies of the Koran on September 11 caused President Obama to express the hope that Jones would call off his "destructive act." We were so scared of Muslim reactions that the president himself weighed in. You could burn a stack of Bibles or any other non-Muslim religious text without causing a ripple. One report showed Muslims in Kabul burning an American flag. We’ve grown used to seeing the revered symbols of Western values routinely desecrated in the Muslim world. But when a nut decides to burn a few Korans, everybody from the president on down begs him to reconsider. This is obscene.