Frontpage Interview's guest today is Andrew G. Bostom, the editor of the highly acclaimed The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims and of The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History. He has published articles and commentary on Islam in the Washington Times, National Review Online, The New York Post, The New York Daily News, Frontpagemag.com, American Thinker, Pajamas Media, The Daily Caller, Human Events, and other print and online publications. He is the author of the new book, Sharia versus Freedom: The Legacy of Islamic Totalitarianism. Visit his blog at andrewbostom.org/blog/.
FP: Congratulations on your new book, Sharia versus Freedom: The Legacy of Islamic Totalitarianism. What inspired you to write this book about Sharia Law and how is it different from other books?
Bostom: Thanks Jamie! I became fascinated (if alarmed) by some excellent polling data reported in the Spring of 2007 resulting from a collaboration between the University of Maryland, and World Opinion Dynamics (and wrote about it here). The survey sample was quite extensive (encompassing some 4000 individuals) and comprised of face to face interviews in local languages of Muslims from Morocco, Egypt, Indonesia, and Pakistan. Data from two questions jumped out at me. The first asked about the strict implementation of Sharia law in Islamic countries. Sixty-five percent of Muslims were moderately or strongly in favor of this proposition. The second was about desire to establish/re-establish the Caliphate (i.e., a transnational Muslim superstate, consistent with the borders established by the jihad conquests across Asia, Africa, and Europe, from the 7th through 17th centuries). Again, 65% of the Muslim sample was supportive of this goal. I began to ask myself a series of questions. How has the idea of the Caliphate been actualized in the past? Why has it survived to this day? Why is the notion of a Caliphate so popular among Muslims, and what are implications of its popularity, for Muslims, and non-Muslims? These questions lead inevitably to Islam's quintessence, and at the same time far reaching set of guidelines, the Sharia, or Islamic law.
Thus I began to research and write additional essays on many broad themes related to the Sharia, which, when combined with other introductory materials written specifically for the book, including Andrew C. McCarthy's elegant Foreword, eventually became Sharia Versus Freedom--The Legacy of Islamic Totalitarianism. But the final and perhaps most important inspiration proved to be a patient, careful reading of Whittaker Chambers' autobiographical opus, Witness. I discovered that much could be gleaned from Chambers' witness-martyrdom in the struggle against Communism, sacrificing himself, as he put it, "a little in advance to try to win for you that infinitesimal slightly better chance," and applied to the modern threat of resurgent Islamic totalitarianism. As described in the book, Chambers' own brief 1947 comparison of Communism and nascent Islam comported with more extensive, independent contemporary characterizations (i.e., made from 1920-2001) by Western scholars and intellectuals who similarly juxtaposed these ideological systems. I also elucidate in Sharia Versus Freedom Chambers' understanding that faith in the Judeo-Christian God was conjoined to Biblical freedom. The antithetical conceptions of modern atheistic totalitarianism--epitomized by Communism--and equally liberty-crushing Islamic doctrines are compared. Specifically, with regard to Islam, I discuss "hurriyya," Arabic for "freedom as perfect slavery to Allah," and how the God of Islam, the unrelenting autocrat, Allah, engendered, in Palgrave's words, Islam's "Pantheism of Force."
Unlike other treatments of the Sharia, per se, the book moves well beyond a few illustrative "shocking" examples of these ancient Islamic doctrines applied in our era. Sharia Versus Freedom weaves together a very detailed, living tapestry which elaborates the unbowdlerized doctrinal elements of Sharia, while demonstrating the contemporary popularity of Sharia mandates (i.e., via copious polling data from representative Muslim population samples, as well as numerous examples from the legal codes of Muslim societies, and the mainstream Muslim jurists associations advising Muslims who reside in non-Muslim societies), and the consequences of its application across space and time, through the present. The book also elucidates how jihadism, as well as Jew- and a more general non-Muslim infidel-hatred, are intrinsic to the Sharia, while dissecting modern Sharia apologetics, which span the political spectrum. In a final section, the book offers concrete examples of strategies to combat Sharia encroachment, and concludes with a discussion of what Whittaker Chambers' apostasy from Communism--and the shared insights of contemporary apostates from Islam--can teach the West.
FP: What is Sharia and why is it relevant to US foreign and domestic affairs?
Bostom: According to the most authoritative twentieth-century Western Islamic legal scholar, Joseph Schacht (d. 1969), the Sharia, or "clear path to be followed," is the "canon law of Islam," which "denotes all the individual prescriptions composing it." Schacht traces the use of the term Sharia to Koranic verses such as 45:18, 42:13, 42:21, and 5:48, noting an "old definition" of the Sharia by the seminal Koranic commentator and early Muslim historian Tabari (d. 923), as comprising the law of inheritance, various commandments and prohibitions, and the so-called hadd punishments. These latter draconian punishments, defined by the Muslim prophet Muhammad either in the Koran or in the hadith (the canonical collections of Muhammad's deeds and pronouncements), included: (lethal) stoning for adultery; death for apostasy; death for highway robbery when accompanied by murder of the robbery victim; for simple highway robbery, the loss of hands and feet; for simple theft, cutting off of the right hand; for "fornication," a hundred lashes; for drinking wine, eighty lashes. As Schacht further notes, Sharia ultimately evolved to become "understood [as] the totality of Allah's commandments relating to the activities of man." The holistic Sharia, he continues, is nothing less than Islam's quintessence, "the Sharia is the most characteristic phenomenon of Islamic thought and forms the nucleus of Islam itself." Schacht then delineates additional salient characteristics of the Sharia which have created historically insurmountable obstacles to its reform, through our present era.
Allah's law is not to be penetrated by the intelligence . . . i.e., man has to accept it without criticism…It comprises without restriction, as an infallible doctrine of duties the whole of the religious, political, social, domestic and private life of those who profess Islam, and the activities of the tolerated members of other faiths so far as they may not be detrimental to Islam.
Additionally, Schacht elucidated how Sharia--via the uniquely Islamic institution of jihad war--regulates the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims. These regulations make explicit the sacralized vulnerability of unvanquished non-Muslims to jihad depredations, and the permanent, deliberately humiliating legal inferiority for those who survive their jihad conquest, and incorporation into an Islamic polity, governed by Sharia.
Thus Sharia, Islamic law, is not merely holistic, in the general sense of all-encompassing, but totalitarian, regulating everything from the ritual aspects of religion, to personal hygiene, to the governance of an Islamic state, bloc of states, or global Islamic order. Clearly, this latter political aspect is the most troubling, being an ancient antecedent of more familiar modern totalitarian systems. Specifically, Sharia's liberty-crushing and dehumanizing political aspects feature: open-ended jihadism to subjugate the world to a totalitarian Islamic order; rejection of bedrock Western liberties--including freedom of conscience and speech--enforced by imprisonment, beating, or death; discriminatory relegation of non-Muslims to outcast, vulnerable pariahs, and even Muslim women to subservient chattel; and barbaric punishments which violate human dignity, such as amputation for theft, stoning for adultery, and lashing for alcohol consumption.
Following violent Muslim reactions to the amateurish "Innocence of Muslims" video, which depicted some of the less salutary aspects of Muhammad's biography, international and domestic Islamic agendas are openly converging with vehement calls for universal application of Islamic blasphemy law. This demand to abrogate Western freedom of expression was reiterated in a parade of speeches by Muslim leaders at the UN General Assembly. The US Muslim community echoed such admonitions, for example during a large demonstration in Dearborn, Michigan, and in a press release by the Islamic Circle of North America.
Previously, the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (subsequently renamed the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC])--the largest voting bloc in the UN, which represents all the major Muslim countries, and the Palestinian Authority--had sponsored and actually navigated to passage a compromise U.N. resolution insisting countries criminalize what it calls "defamation of religion." Now the OIC--via its Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu--is calling for a specific ban on speech allegedly impugning the character of Islam's prophet, which he termed "hate speech." Ihsanoglu accompanied his demand with a thinly veiled threat of violence should such "provocations" recur:
You have to see that there is a provocation. You should understand the psychology of people who revere their prophet and don't want people to insult him,…If the Western world fails to understand the sensitivity of the Muslim world, then we are in trouble…[such provocations pose] a threat to international peace and security and the sanctity of life.
Though the language of the OIC "defamation of religion" resolution has been altered at times, the OIC's goal has remained the same--to impose at the international level a Sharia-compliant conception of freedom of speech and expression that would severely limit anything it arbitrarily deemed critical of, or offensive to, Islam or Muslims. This is readily apparent by reading the OIC's supervening "alternative" to both the US Bill of Rights and the UN's own 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, i.e., the 1990 Cairo Declaration, or Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Islam.
The opening of the preamble to the Cairo Declaration repeats a Koranic injunction affirming Islamic supremacism (Koran 3:110, "You are the best nation ever brought forth to men . . . you believe in Allah"); and its last articles, 24 and 25, maintain [article 24], "All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Sharia"; and [article 25] "The Islamic Sharia is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification to any of the articles of this Declaration." The gravely negative implications of the OIC's Sharia-based Cairo Declaration are most apparent in its transparent rejection of freedom of conscience in Article 10, which proclaims:
Islam is the religion of unspoiled nature. It is prohibited to exercise any form of compulsion on man or to exploit his poverty or ignorance in order to convert him to another religion, or to atheism.
Ominously, articles 19 and 22 reiterate a principle stated elsewhere throughout the document, which clearly applies to the "punishment" of so-called apostates from Islam, as well as "blasphemers":
There shall be no crime or punishment except as provided for in the Sharia.
Everyone shall have the right to express his opinion freely in such manner as would not be contrary to the principles of the Sharia.
Everyone shall have the right to advocate what is right, and propagate what is good, and warn against what is wrong and evil according to the norms of Islamic Sharia.
Information is a vital necessity to society. It may not be exploited or misused in such a way as may violate sanctities and the dignity of Prophets, undermine moral and ethical values or disintegrate, corrupt or harm society or weaken its faith.
Existing mainstream Islamic institutions and their ongoing efforts in North America are facilitating this global Sharia agenda, as evidenced by the following:
Data (compiled here) from an April 2001 survey performed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) revealed that 69 percent of American Muslims in America affirmed that it was "absolutely fundamental" or "very important" to have Salafi (i.e., fundamentalist Islamic) teachings at their mosques, while 67 percent of respondents agreed with the statement "America is an immoral, corrupt society." Another poll conducted in Detroit-area mosques during 2003 found that 81 percent of the respondents endorsed the application of Sharia law where Muslims comprised a majority of the population.
The trial involving the Texas Holy Land Foundation's funding of terrorism revealed an internal Muslim Brotherhood statement dated May 22, 1991. Written by an acolyte of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi -- the Brotherhood's major theoretician, lionized Qatari cleric, popular al-Jazeera television personality, and head of the European Fatwa Council -- the document, entitled "An Explanatory Memorandum On the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America," is self-explanatory: "The Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and "sabotaging" its miserable house by their hands and by the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions."
A scholarly study by Mordechai Kedar and David Yerushalmi published in The Middle East Quarterly, "Sharia and Violence in American Mosques," looked at 100 mosques randomly selected across the U.S. in order to test the hypothesis that Sharia adherence within mosques (including, among many other factors, gender separation, clothing, male facial hair, jewelry, strictness on shoulder-to-shoulder alignment during prayer, etc.) would correlate with incitement to jihadism. This key summary finding was highlighted by the authors: "51 percent of mosques had texts that either advocated the use of violence in the pursuit of a Shari'a-based political order or advocated violent jihad as a duty that should be of paramount importance to a Muslim; 30 percent had only texts that were moderately supportive of violence like the Tafsir Ibn Kathir and Fiqh as-Sunna; 19 percent had no violent texts at all." Thus, 81 percent of this statistical sample representative of U.S. mosques were deemed as moderately (30 percent) to highly (51 percent) supportive of promulgating jihadist violence to impose Sharia.
A provisional inquiry, "Shariah Law and American State Courts," evaluated 50 appellate court cases from 23 states that involved conflicts between Sharia and American state law. There were examples of American judges accepting "input" from Sharia in rendering judgments, included an odious, widely publicized New Jersey ruling that upheld Sharia-sanctioned marital rape. Appellate court intervention was required to reverse this ruling in July 2010: Western legal norms prevailed over Sharia -- with the presiding judge soberly concluding that the Muslim husband's "conduct in engaging in nonconsensual sexual intercourse was unquestionably knowing, regardless of his view that his religion permitted him to act as he did." Completely ignored at the time of these New Jersey proceedings was the fact that marital rape is not recognized as criminal, but rather is sanctioned by a fatwa of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America. (see below) Moreover, David Yerushalmi provided another clear, didactic example of the need for American Laws for American Courts (ALAC) legislation to block such efforts. He described in brief an appellate court decision from Maryland, cited in the Center for Security Policy Study, where:
The court enforced a Pakistani Sharia court's judgment of custody in favor of the father even though the mother had argued that she was not provided due process because had she gone to Pakistan to contest the case, she could have been subject to capital punishment for having a new relationship with a man not sanctioned by Sharia.
Yerushalmi then summarized the salient facts of the case and appellate court ruling*, as follows:
The Maryland appellate court ruled that since the woman could not prove she'd be executed had she gone to Pakistan to litigate custody in the Pakistan Sharia Court, which is a national-state court in Pakistan, her failure to go to Pakistan and take the risk of execution precluded her from making the void as against public policy argument. ALAC would have provided the Maryland appellate court the legislative clarity to have reversed the lower court's outrageous decision (emphasis added).
Investigations of textbooks widely used in the New York City area Islamic schools, as well as the Islamic Saudi Academy of Fairfax, Va., discovered the promotion of Sharia supremacism, including sacralized disparagement and hatred of non-Muslims, especially Jews. When questioned for a New York Daily News story in 2003, Yahiya Emerick, head of a Queens-based non-profit curriculum-development project for the Islamic Foundation of North America, defended the language in these books, denying they were inflammatory. Emerick opined, "Islam, like any belief system, believes its program is better than others. I don't feel embarrassed to say that. . . . [The books] are directed to kids in a Muslim educational environment. They must learn and appreciate there are differences between what they have and what other religions teach. It's telling kids that we have our own tradition."
The Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America's mission statement maintains that the organization was, "founded to provide guidance for Muslims living in North America. . . . AMJA is a religious organization that does not exploit religion to achieve any political ends, but instead provides practical solutions within the guidelines of Islam and the nation's laws to the various challenges experienced by Muslim communities. " It is accepted by the mainstream American Muslim community, and regularly trains imams from throughout North America. Notwithstanding this mainstream acceptance, AMJA has issued rulings which sanction the killing of apostates, "blasphemers," (including non-Muslims guilty of this "crime"), and adulterers (by stoning to death); condoned female genital mutilation, marital rape, and polygamy; and even endorsed the possibility for offensive jihad against the U.S., as soon as Muslims are strong enough to wage it.
Finally, as reported by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), one of the largest mainstream U.S. Muslim organizations, in its 2010 ICNA Member's Hand Book, openly acknowledges being the American branch of a global jihadist phenomenon referred to as the "Islamic Movement." The 2010 Hand Book observes that branches of this movement "are active in various parts of the world to achieve the same objectives. It is our obligation as Muslims to engage in the same noble cause here in North America." These efforts will culminate in the (re-)creation of a transnational Islamic superstate, the Caliphate, under Sharia law -- the united Muslim ummah (community) in a united Islamic state, governed by an elected khalifah in accordance with the laws of Sharia.
FP: Tell us about Sharia courts in the United Kingdom and their significance.
Bostom: A December 2, 2010 Pew poll documented strong support for hadd punishments in Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, and Nigeria:
About eight-in-ten Muslims in Egypt and Pakistan (82% each) endorse the stoning of people who commit adultery; 70% of Muslims in Jordan and 56% of Nigerian Muslims share this view. Muslims in Pakistan and Egypt are also the most supportive of whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery; 82% in Pakistan and 77% in Egypt favor making this type of punishment the law in their countries, as do 65% of Muslims in Nigeria and 58% in Jordan. When asked about the death penalty for those who leave the Muslim religion, at least three-quarters of Muslims in Jordan (86%), Egypt (84%) and Pakistan (76%) say they would favor making it the law; in Nigeria, 51% of Muslims favor and 46% oppose it.
Ominously, such irredentist attitudes are shared to an alarming extent by an important Muslim immigrant community in the West--British Muslims. For example, a poll of six hundred British Muslim college students revealed that one-third support killing in the name of Islam, while forty percent want to the Sharia to replace British law.
And Sharia indoctrination of British Muslim youth begins well before college entry. A BBC Panorama investigation has revealed the presence in Britain of forty "weekend schools" attended by some five thousand Muslim children aged 6--18. These schools teach the British Muslim youth who attend them, for example, traditional Islamic motifs of Jew-hatred and mutilating Sharia punishments--as per the Saudi National Curriculum--under the rubric of "Saudi Students Clubs and Schools in the UK and Ireland."
The BBC revelations validate prescient warnings made almost two decades earlier by the late respected British scholar of Islam, Dr. Mervyn Hiskett, in Some to Mecca Turn to Pray (the title deriving from the poem Hassan's Serenade by James Elroy Flecker [d. 1919]). Hiskett noted then (i.e., in 1993) the prevailing opinion among leaders of the British Muslim community that unless Muslim immigrants to Britain were allowed unrestrained access to Islamic law, Sharia, in all aspects, Britain was to be regarded, Dar-al-Harb, or the House of War, that is, the target of jihadism. Citing what he characterized as "a more urbane but some may consider ominous statement of the Muslim intention to brook no opposition," Hiskett quoted Zaki Badawi (d. 2006), a Muslim scholar and former director of the Islamic Cultural Center, London, who was made an honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE) in 2004, and also appointed by the Duke of Castro as a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Francis I. Incidentally Badawi, an Egyptian Muslim, never became a British subject although he had lived in the country for more than thirty years and had received all manner of honors there. Badawi opined,
A proseltyzing religion cannot stand still. It can either expand or contract. Islam endeavors to expand in Britain. Islam is a universal religion. It aims at bringing its message to all corners of the earth. It hopes that one day the whole humanity will be one Muslim community, the "Umma."
The "urbane," "moderate" Muslim Badawi's "vision" for British society--so recently deemed unthinkable--now seems eminently plausible, as Britain appears well on its way to full integration into the obscurantist Muslim umma, rife with traditional Islamic Jew-hatred, and all other aspects of Sharia-sanctioned, totalitarian barbarity.
Hence 16-years later (circa 2009), there were sixteen main Sharia courts around Britain, located in Birmingham, Bradford, and Ealing in West London. These institutions were "complemented" by more informal Sharia-based tribunals--the think tank Civitas asserting that up to eighty-five tribunals currently exist in Britain.
A window into the mindset of these Sharia courts and tribunals was provided during a public discussion of the issue of marital rape. Crowing with pride (in a March 2010 interview), president of the Islamic Sharia Council in Britain, Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed, maintained,
No other Sharia council can claim they are so diverse as ours because other Sharia councils, they are following one school of fiqh [Islamic jurisprudence]. Ours is diverse--we are hanafi, shafii, hanbali . . . we have Bangladeshi . . . we have Pakistani, we have Indian, we have Palestinian, we have Somali scholars on our board.
Of course since Koran 2:223 states that women are "tilth" to be "cultivated" (or "plowed") by men, contemporary mainstream, institutional Islam sanctions marital rape. Not surprisingly then, as reported in the UK Independent (October 14, 2010), Sheikh Sayeed, affirmed this view during his March 2010 interview with The Samosa. Sheikh Sayeed was in fact responding to an inchoate effort at modernizing the contracts which govern Muslim marriages in Britain. The good sheikh, representing Britain's main Islamic Sharia court, promptly published a rebuttal of the contract, which included a statement on sexual abuse. He opined in the March interview:
Clearly there cannot be any "rape" within the marriage. Maybe "aggression," maybe "indecent activity."
He further rejected both the characterization of nonconsensual marital sex as rape, and the prosecution of such offenders as "not Islamic." Sheikh Sayeed, who came to Britain from Bangladesh in 1977, also brazenly expressed his Sharia supremacism and accompanying disdain for Western, that is, British law, stating "to make it exactly as the Western culture demands is as if we are compromising Islamic religion with secular non-Islamic values."
Sayeed reaffirmed these sentiments to the UK Independent: "In Islamic Sharia, rape is adultery by force. So long as the woman is his wife, it cannot be termed as rape."
Michael Nazir Ali (1949--) was the first bishop of Raiwand in Pakistan's West Punjab (1984--1986), who emigrated to become the first non-white diocesan bishop in the Church of England. During September 2009, he gave up his English Bishopric to work full-time in defense of beleaguered Christian minorities, particularly within Islamdom. Nazir Ali commented aptly (during August, 2011) on this dangerous proliferation of Sharia courts in Britain from his unique, firsthand perspective on the impact of the Sharia in the Indian subcontinent, and now in his adopted British homeland with its burgeoning population of Muslims émigrés from that vast region:
To understand the impact of Sharia law you have to look at other [i.e., Islamic] countries. At its heart it has basic inequalities between Muslims and non-Muslims, and between men and women. The problem with Sharia law being used in tribunals [in Britain] is that it compromises the tradition of equality for all under the law. It threatens the fundamental values that underpin our society.
But for those (like Bill O'Reilly) who naively--and smugly--proclaim such phenomena are absent within the Muslim communities of North America, consider the mainstream Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America's (AMJA's) response to the specific query, "Is there a such thing as Marital Rape?" AMJA opining on this question, issued fatwa number 2982 on May 30, 2007, by the AMJA Online Jurisprudence Section, which stated:
In the name of Allah, all praise is for Allah, and may peace and blessing be upon the Messenger of Allah and his family. To proceed: For a wife to abandon the bed of her husband without excuse is haram [forbidden]. It is one of the major sins and the angels curse her until the morning as we have been informed by the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). She is considered nashiz (rebellious) under these circumstances. As for the issue of forcing a wife to have sex, if she refuses, this would not be called rape, even though it goes against natural instincts and destroys love and mercy, and there is a great sin upon the wife who refuses; and Allah Almighty is more exalted and more knowledgeable.
An ocean apart from Britain--now a recognized Western hotbed for "Islamic fundamentalism"--the same Sharia-sanctioned misogynistic bigotry prevails in a mainstream North American clerical organization openly advising US and Canadian Muslims.
FP: Why the denial about Sharia amongst Islamic Studies professors, the mainstream media, the Left in general, etc? How do you explain it?
Bostom: Unfortunately, denial about the Sharia is not confined to the Left, or the Left-dominated academy, and includes conservative luminaries--from well-known journalist "pundits," to policymakers and academics. But the academic Left is particularly illustrative of this ubiquitous problem.
Wael B. Hallaq, former James McGill Professor of Islamic Law at McGill University (and currently the Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University), has acknowledged that a "fundamental feature" of traditional Islam's resurgence,
is the constant and consistent popular call to restore the Sharia (which he identifies as "the religious law of Islam"). . . . The call dominates the discourse of modern Muslims, and the tracts, pamphlets and books expounding this call are legion.
Hallaq further maintains that,
During the past two and a half decades, this call has grown ever more forceful, generating religious movements, a vast amount of literature, and affecting world politics. There is no doubt that Islamic law today is a significant cornerstone in the reaffirmation of Islamic identity, not only as a matter of positive law but also, and more importantly, as the foundation of a cultural uniqueness. Indeed, for many of today's Muslims, to live by Islamic law is not merely a legal issue, but one that is distinctly psychological.
However, being a champion of the "postcolonial," pseudo-academic drivel popularized by the late Edward Said, Hallaq, as an axiom, of course blames Western imperialist bogeymen, almost exclusively (if mindlessly) for this intrinsic Muslim--and Islamic--Sharia "revival" phenomenon. When also lamenting the extent to which such an Islamic revival could adopt "indigenous modernism," Hallaq, rather perversely, again indicts so-called Western colonial "hegemony"--not the intrinsic totalitarian nature of the Sharia itself.
How does one explain the persistence and breadth of Hallaq's mindset, which extends, albeit less commonly, to those on the political Right? Robert Conquest, the preeminent scholar of Soviet Communist totalitarianism, in his elucidation of Western vulnerability to totalitarian ideologies, wrote that democracy itself is "far less a matter of institutions than habits of mind"--the latter being subject to constant "stresses and strains." He then notes the disturbingly widespread acceptance of totalitarian concepts among the ordinary citizens of pluralist Western societies.
Many in the West gave their full allegiance to these alien beliefs. Many others were at any rate not ill disposed towards them. And beyond that there was . . . a sort of secondary infection of the mental atmosphere of the West which still to some degree persists, distorting thought in countries that escaped the more wholesale disasters of our time.
But Conquest evinces no sympathy for those numerous "Western intellectuals or near intellectuals" of the 1930s through the 1950s whose willful delusions about the Soviet Union, "will be incredible to later students of mental aberration." His critique of Western media highlights a cultural self-loathing tendency which has persisted and intensified over the intervening decades, through the present.
One role of the democratic media is, of course, to criticize their own governments, draw attention to the faults and failings of their own country. But when this results in a transfer of loyalties to a far worse and thoroughly inimical culture, or at least to a largely uncritical favoring of such a culture, it becomes a morbid affliction--involving, often enough, the uncritical acceptance of that culture's own standards.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich delivered a singularly astute and courageous address July 29, 2010. Reactions to that speech across the political spectrum (here, here, here, and here) whether immediate or delayed, illustrate the contemporary equivalent of what Conquest appositely characterized as mindslaughter--a brilliantly evocative term for delusive Western apologetics regarding the ideology of Communism and the tangible horrors its Communist votaries inflicted. What did Newt Gingrich have the temerity to discuss? In defiance of our era's most rigidly enforced cultural relativist taboo, Gingrich provided an irrefragably accurate, if blunt, characterization of the existential threat posed by Islam's living, self-professed mission--to impose Sharia, its totalitarian, religio-political "law," globally.
With vanishingly rare intellectual honesty and resolve, Gingrich
Coptic Solidarity is a U.S. public charity organization under section 501 (C) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions are deductible under Section 170 of the Code.