Friday, November 23, 2007
Hugh Fitzgerald: A Misunderstander of Islam?
In a post-Thanksgiving post on Jihad Watch, Fitzgerald: Misunderstanders of Islam, Fitzgerald, as usual, gets most everything incisively and musically right—with one significant exception (which I have seen him repeat many a time over the years):
Making mention in passing of a Muslim reformist, Ed Husayn—whom Fitzgerald rightly (and dryly) mocks for his delusions of douceur (i.e., his apparently earnest wish to “de-radicalize” his Islam through exploring “different interpretations” of its textuary nature and traditions)—Fitzgerald then slips in his faux pas:
. . .a Jihad perhaps conducted by non-violent means, to spread Islam until it everywhere dominates, and Muslims rule everywhere, still would give us the bleak result we wish to avoid.
Of course, Fitzgerald is patently correct: if Islam everywhere came to dominate, that would be a “bleak result we wish to avoid”. But the clear implication in his words leads his reader—were he to agree with Fitzgerald—to conclude that Islam could actually come to dominate in the absence of violent means.
Now, perhaps this could be so in the primitive and palmy fishing villages of the archipelago of Southeast Asian islands in the 9th century—think the penetration of Islam throughout the Insulinde, including Indonesia and somewhat later the Philippines. However, although most historians continue to argue the prevailing paradigm about that Southeast Asian spread of Islam—that it was largely a “peaceful” Islamicization almost by osmosis, I continue to have my doubts. That paradigm seems to be a construction of revisionist historiography, ultimately based upon the towering scholar of Dutch Indonesian history, Snouck Hurgronje (1857-1936), and his decision to ignore local traditional Indonesian histories—which in fact described a good deal of physically violent actions taken by Muslims and Muslim converts during the period of its transition from Hindu kingdoms to mostly Islamic societies (see for example C. C. Berg, ‘The Islamisation of Java’, Studia Islamica, No. 4, 1955; though he too, for somewhat different reasons, tows the conventional historiographic line). Hurgronje and others have chosen to ignore the historiographic value of the traditional fables and royal court traditions, deeming them to be outlandish and mythotypic, and therefore unreliable. It is about time for some new historians of that period to reassess this paradigm which has for the most part determined the conventional view of the Islamicization of Indonesia. This conventional view was, after Hurgronje, buttressed even further by the discovery in 1937 of the writing of a Portuguese travelogue, Tomé Pires, whose personal experience and anecdotal evidence about how peaceful the Muslims behaved in the islands in the early 16th century tended to confirm the need historians seem to have to view the Islamicization of Indonesia as largely peaceful and voluntary. Aside from the PC MC psychology that nourishes this need, perhaps it is also indicative of a simple-minded understanding of what constitutes a “violent” spread of Islam, versus a “non-violent” spread, and the assumption that the former must only be in the form of major military invasions—and that the latter, therefore, has nothing to do with the actual presence of lower-level tactics of violence, ranging all the way from paramilitary razzias (literally “raids”, or the pre-modern Islamic equivalent of “terrorism”) down to localized death threats, intimidation and thuggery. From repeated statements he has made, Fitzgerald seems to fall into this camp.
Example, a later statement he made on the above-mentioned Ed Husayn:
Then there are those whom Ed Husain absurdly calls “Islamists,” failing to realize that their goals are nothing but standard Islamic doctrine, even if their currently chosen means are, it seems, exclusively violent. (That in itself is strange, given that there are so many other instruments of Jihad—the Money Weapon, campaigns of Da’wa in the Bilad al-kufr, and of course slow and inexorable demographic conquest of those Lands of the Infidels.)
But the idea that Islam could come to dominate the most spectacularly sophisticated civilization in all world history, the modern West, is astonishingly simplistic. While the modern West suffers from rampant Politically Correct Multi-Culturalism—as I have hammered home again and again on this blog and my other blog, The Hesperado—and while this Politically Correct Multi-Culturalism will continue to make us vulnerable to horrific attacks from Muslims in the coming decades, this blindness of ours only represents the superficial crust of our civilization. Our progress, our mores, our institutions, our culture, our infrastructure, are all too vast and complex to succumb to such a primitive system as Islam. Although Islam might have been able to insinuate domination by more or less “peaceful” means over simplex island cultures (see above), it nowhere, in all its 1,400-year career of expansion, was able to come to dominate over more sophisticated polities (think the Graeco-Roman / Judaeo-Christian Middle East and North Africa, Iberia, the Balkans and Byzantium, not to mention the Persian Empire and the Hindu kingdoms) without violence—and not merely violent terrorist attacks (formerly known as razzias) here and there, as the modern West has sustained over the last few decades, but massive military assaults, repeatedly waged in successive waves for centuries.
Fitzgerald has elsewhere slightly (though no less vaguely) amplified this idea of a “non-violent” Islamic conquest of the modern West, by reminding us (as, indeed, his and Spencer’s Dhimmi Watch does daily) of all the various permutations of the complex stillicide by which Muslims throughout the West are trying to insinuate various flavors & ingredients of Sharia Law. This massive, albeit amorphous and still rather atomized and debilitated, movement of insinuation, however, would not be proceeding apace, as it is, were there not two factors in play:
1) the West—particularly post-911—has been continually battered with successful terrorist attacks and mortally menaced with many more luckily foiled terrorist plots;
2) the West labors, and limps, under the framework of a dominant and mainstream paradigm of Politically Correct Multi-Culturalism.
The effect of #1 upon the West is to instill fear and inhibition about doing anything that might agitate Muslims, ranging from merely “hurting their feelings” to actually provoking their truculent anger.
The effect of #2, meanwhile, erects the effect of #1 into a major and indefinitely unassailable posture of fainthearted and deferential response to anything bad that Muslims say and do.
Without #2, of course, #1 would pose little problem, and the problem of Islam as it stands, thrives and burgeons in our era, would have been nipped in the bud a long time ago.
It is arguable that without #1, our #2—the West’s official and unofficial sociopolitical expression—would probably still be hospitable and receptive to the various tentacles of Sharia Law insinuating themselves into the West to the degree they have been doing and continue to do. However, this could not last forever, and the day of reckoning would slap the face of even the most idiotically PC supporters with the cold and harsh reality of the profoundly anti-liberal nature of Sharia Law.
#2, as insanely myopic and idiotic as it is, will dissolve once it becomes clear to the PC idiots what Sharia Law actually is. Only a tiny minority of Westerners are so viscerally self-hating and so profoundly indoctrinated in modern gnostic ideologies that they would consciously support Sharia Law. The remainder—the millions of PC idiots in the West—are simply mentally constrained by the box of their PC paradigm, and will wake up—not in time to save millions of lives, probably, but certainly in time to shut down the menace of Islam long before it could ever actually come to dominate us.
Even with #1 and #2 in play, then, Muslims will not come to dominate the West. They will most likely continue to try to come to dominate, and they will as a consequence, in the coming decades, likely inflict horrific casualties and damage to infrastructure in various places throughout the West. But they will not conquer the West. The only way Muslims could actually conquer the West would be through colossal military invasions, and even the Communists and Fascists of the 20th century, who were even then light years ahead of Muslims today in terms of possessing sociopolitical cultures of scientific and technological sophistication, were not able to conquer the West after massive attempts at actual military assaults.
Why Fitzgerald seems to misunderstand such a key component of the strategy of Islam; why he could think that Islamic Sharia Law could come to dominate the West in abstraction from the violence that not only is its perennial modus operandi but also is part of its current reality; and why he supposes that any inroads it has made thus far are not necessarily and psychologically linked to the terrorist attacks the West has incurred thus far in addition to the growing unease and fear that scores of other unsuccessful and often more deadly terrorist plots have sown among us—concomitant, as we argued above, with our Politically Correct Multi-Culturalist paradigm—, is a mystery from the Man of Mystery.