My hat's off to Andrew McCarthy at NRO for taking on those on the right, Charles Krauthammer, Jonah Goldberg, Paul Mirengoff and, by extension, Glenn Beck (on Wilders), who are not as smart or informed as they think they are.
Their fundamental misunderstanding of Islam and the leftist Islamic alliance is dangerous. The leftist/islamic alliance could well lead to national suicide. Who is going to fight the bad guys if there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the bad guy's ideology by the historical "good guys"? And when Jonah Goldberg laments that he doesn't "fully agree with those who argue that Islam is the problem ….because that strikes me as a blind alley," that's wrong. His premise is false. Wherever the facts take you, no matter how problematic, they must be dealt with, because the facts are going to take you there anyway, whether you like it or not.
Goldberg goes on, "to say that Islam is the problem is not to say that we have to be at war with
Islam. Rather, we need to put the focus on Islam so it can expedite internal
reform." Again, Goldberg shows his ignorance. The Koran is uncreated (unlike the bible.) According to Islam, it is the word of allah — uncreated. How can any Muslim "reinterpret" or "reform" the word of allah? It is a crime in Islam to "reinterpret" the Koran. It is the crime of hypocrisy, and like apostasy, is punishable by death.
And while every Muslim does not engage in jihad, they are sympathetic. Not every American enlists in the army, but good Americans support our troops.
There is much more I can add to misunderstanders of Islam, but the back and forth between Jonah Goldberg and Andrew McCarthy is very instructive. I am grateful McCarthy and taken it on. And while I think McCarthy's use of Islamism is a useless term — it's Islam, pure Islam — McCarthy gets it.
Until then, I think you are misstating my argument — as is
the excellent Paul Mirengoff, who also has a very thoughtful post at
Powerline. I have argued that the Islamist agenda and even the al Qaeda
agenda are much broader than just terrorism. They are anti-American,
anti-Western, anti-capitalist, anti-individual liberty, pro-totalitarian,
pro-collectivist, etc. They hold that American interventions in the Middle East
and elsewhere, especially our military interventions, are exploitations of the
Muslim world aimed at robbing its natural resources and spreading Western
principles that are anathema to the indigenous culture. Leftists (including
leftist lawyers) can easily sign on to much of that without signing on to all of
Along these lines, I respectfully suggest that by focusing on
Islamist (and, frankly, Islam's) hostility to homosexuals, consignment of women
to second-class status, and promotion of Islam in the schools, Paul misses the
big picture. Islam and the Left are not perfectly aligned, but they are
substantially aligned, much more so than most people realize. And as I said in
the issue isn't so much whether, in a vacuum, Leftist lawyers are pro-al Qaeda
or pro-Islamist. It is where their sympathies lie as between two opponents: the
United States as it is and Islamism. I disagree with John McCain on a number of
issues that are of great importance to me — more issues than Paul cites as
divergences between Islamists and Leftitsts. Yet, I supported McCain for
president. Could you say I was pro-McCain? I suppose. But I wasn't dealing with
McCain in a vacuum; I was dealing with a choice between McCain and Obama, and on
that it was no contest.
The Marxist Center for Constitutional Rights has aggressively
advocated for al Qaeda for years. CCR is the backbone of the Gitmo Bar,
coordinating the representation of al Qaeda detainees by the legions of
volunteers from our country's major law firms. While doing so, CCR has pushed
for the indictment of Bush administration officials for war crimes and bragged
that its recruitment of lawyers effectively shut down interrogations, depriving
the United States of vital wartime intelligence. What more does CCR need to do
to prove that, as between the United States and the Islamists, CCR is with the
Paul and Jonah also discuss the Gitmo Bar, and the DOJ
lawyers therein, as if they were a monolith. Clearly, they are not. That's the
reason many of us have been arguing for disclosure and
political accountability not for disqualification.
Take Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal, for example. He
was the chief counsel for Qaeda operative Salim Hamdan, and ultimately convinced
a sharply and ideologically divided Supreme Court to invalidate the Bush
military commissions. Further, he did more than just represent Hamdan's legal
position, he advocated on his behalf — publicly portraying him as a low-ranking
nobody who was excluded from al Qaeda's high-level decision-making. In fact,
Hamdan was Osama bin Laden's personal driver and confidant who had missiles
(intended for firing at U.S. forces) in his possession when he was captured.
Now to me, it was a very bad thing to volunteer for Hamdan
during wartime and under circumstances where the commission rules guaranteed him
competent military counsel (i.e., he didn't need volunteer private counsel).
Neal could have done a lot better things with his time and talent, so I think
it's a mark against him. But it's not the total picture. Hamdan, after all, was accused or war crimes and therefore was entitled to counsel (most Qaeda detainees are
challenging their detention and are not entitled to counsel). In representing
him, Katyal was performing a necessary function (even if it wasn't necessary
that he do it). What's more, Katyal is a serious,
pro-American scholar and national security thinker who has proposed
(along with Jack Goldsmith) the creation of "a comprehensive system of
preventive detention" under the auspices of a national security court — an idea
I've been harping on for six years.
Let's contrast Jennifer Daskal, another of of DOJ's former
Gitmo lawyers. She is a left-wing extremist recruited by Attorney General Holder
for DOJ's National Security Division despite a complete lack of prosecutorial
experience. What is her experience? Well, in 2006, she campaigned for the UN
Human Rights Committee to condemn
the United States for its waging of the "so called 'war on terrorism,'" for
what she portrayed as our serial violations of international law obligations,
for our "cloak of federalism" (which she described as the means by which the
U.S. defies international governance at the state and local level); for our
purported infliction of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment on
Muslim detainees at Gitmo and on all prisoners held in U.S. "supermax" prisons,
Moreover, when al Qaeda operative Omar Khadr murdered an
American soldier on the battlefield, she tirelessly championed his cause,
arguing that his prosecution violated his rights as a child (he's now 23), that
our detention of him transgressed various international law obligations, and
that the United States was to blame for the Omar Khadrs of the world (see the
YouTube clip, here).
When Khalid Sheikh Mohammed wanted to plead guilty in his military commission
proceeding, she was claiming that his confession was suspect because he'd been
tortured even as he couldn't stop bragging to anyone who would listen about all
the atrocities he'd committed against the U.S. and about how Islam would
ultimately vanquish the U.S.
Here is where the Obama administration's stonewalling on the
Gitmo lawyers is truly infuriating. Why should Americans not know all these
facts? If there was transparency, most people would find Daskal's role at DOJ
frightening. On the scale of lawyers as ideologues, she seems to be about where
CCR is. On the other hand, I sleep better at night knowing Neal Katyal is at
DOJ. I don't agree with him about many things, and he'd never be Deputy
Solicitor General in a conservative administration. But President Obama won the
election, and he has the right to fill the slots with progressive lawyers.
Katyal is a progressive lawyer who doesn't think we should be using military
commissions to try terrorists. I disagree, but so what? That's what a the policy
debate is about, and our side doesn't hold people ineligible because we disagree
with them on policy. Meantime, Katyal accepts that terrorists are a major threat
to the United States and that we have to have a system for detaining them even
if we can't convict them of crimes. He's right — and one wishes more people in
the Obama Justice Department saw it that way.
Finally, if Jonah and I have a disagreement over the
distinction between Islam and Islamism, it's awfully hard to find. I didn't make
"an argument for getting rid of the labels"; I made an argument for having them.
I said I'm not sure there's any substantive difference between Islam and
Islamism, but that there are hundreds of millions of Muslims who do not want to
impose or live in a sharia society, and that we need to encourage those people
so we need a separate designation for them. Even if we're convinced that the
root problem is their religious creed (as I am), many of them are trying to
reform it, and we don't help them by telling them their belief system is
Jonah says he thinks Charles Krauthammer's distinction
between Islam and Islamism is not only a practical necessity but "valid on the
merits." Respectfully, I don't think either Dr. K or Jonah has made a case for
how Islam and Islamism differ on the merits. I think they are making a deductive
case that (a) because Islamists include terrorists and (b) because most Muslims
are not terrorists, (c) Islam must therefore be different from Islamism. But
that doesn't tell us how the tenets of Islamism supposedly differ from those of
Islam. And although one need not be a Muslim to study and understand Islam, it's
worth pointing out that while Charles and Jonah are not Muslims, many of the
world's leading Islamists are Muslims graduated with doctorates in Islamic
jurisprudence from al-Azhar University, the seat of Sunni learning. I think
non-Muslims who propose that the true Islam is different on the merits from the
belief system espoused by scholars who have been steeped in Islam for their
entire adult lives have a very steep mountain to climb. That we want Islam and
Islamism to be different — and I do — does not make it so.
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