Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Goldberg on D’Souza

Jonah Goldberg reviews Dinesh D’Souza’s new book in what "formerly" was "my favorite magazine I’d never written for." He’s just a little nicer to D’Souza than other conservative critics, appreciating, for example, D’Souza’s rhetorical twist in using the court of world public opinion. But he nevertheless notes this about that tactic:

For example, D’Souza’s claim that when it comes to "core beliefs" he has more in common with the Grand Mufti of Egypt than with Michael Moore, simply won’t hold. Which beliefs? Sure, Ali Gomaa is against gay marriage, but he also thinks sculpture should be banned and believes Jews are "bloodsuckers." D’Souza would have to keep the conversation pretty constrained for him to stay eye-to-eye with the Mufti.

And then there’s this, which is just about my favorite line in the review:

Ted Kennedy may or may not be a Caligulan carbuncle, but if the jihadists want to behead him for it, they’ll have to get through me first.

Read the argument around it for the serious context in which Goldberg makes this hilarious claim, which I think goes to the heart of his deep disagreement with D’Souza.

Indeed, read the whole thing.

   

Discussions - 10 Comments

Andrew Sullivan also has a serious review in TNR, though he takes D’Souza to be symptomatic.

There is a serious debate among theologians, philosophers, political scientists, historians etc. about whether Jihadism is an aberration or the natural product of Islamic theology/world view. This debate should be had. But the problem is that the case either way is usually made most strongly by people with a dog in the fight. Maybe Spencer and Trifkovic (one of my own) make a good case and maybe they don’t, but they are not disinterested parties. This debate seriously needs some level heads.



I have not read D’Souza’s book, but I am basically aware of the issues because of the conversation here and for an article I wrote. He is contending that there is a "traditionalist Islam" and the modern militant version is the historical aberration. Who knows? Were Muslim conquests in the past motivated purely by a desire to spread Isalm by the sword or was it mostly just another war for territory and power like those that have plagued mankind since the beginning.



But I don’t see how Islam could have always been entirely genocidally belligerent. The Middle East has always been the great gateway from East to West. Trade routes have been going through there forever. The Muslims of the Middle East were always considered good merchants. You can’t make any money if you are killing all your potential customers.



This question is serious business. I used to throw around the accusation of neocon when arguing with supporters of the Iraq War. But I have come to realize that that is giving a certain subset of War supporter too much credit. There is a group whose position seems to be that Islam is an always will be our mortal enemy and must be essentially wiped off the planet. They have no interest in democratizing anybody. Think I’m overstating? Take a look at some of the madness that is written on the web.



If you determine that Islam is inherently Jihadist, then the "kill ’em all" strategy makes a certain amount of sense. It is barbaric and one I would never endorse, but it is not illogical. So again. This is serious business. The arguments of D’Souza and others need to be carefully considered instead of him being run out of the movement because he colored outside the lines.



In the meantime, the very illiberal solution of controlling immigration seems like a wiser strategy than does democratizing the Middle East.

I haven’t read deSouza’s book either. But, I have read quite a bit "about" it.

Let me say that generally, a small percent of a population/group can affect current and future behaviour by the overall population/group. I don’t believe that Muslims should be wiped off the map, but I do believe that the 1% of the billion plus Muslim population need to disappear. 1% of nearly one and onehalf billion has been affecting the behaviour of nations for quite some time by killing and with their intrusion into the internet, they can now feed the hatred of various groups towards various groups, all the while assisting themselves to achieve their ultimate goal: Middle East domination and ultimately the world. Is this not afterall what all "jihadists" of any stripe want?
Liberal/Leftists/Conservative/Traditionalists,
all want their world to be just like them. Sigh.....

That certainly is a very charitable review.

I do not suppose we could start dropping Locke’s Letter Concerning Toleration around the Mideast?

Does anyone know why Christianty learned to tolerate its different sects while Muslims sects are still blowing each other to pieces, and other religions to pieces as well? What happened in the 1600/1700s to make Christianty peaceful?

Religious toleration came about in the West after nearly 150 years of almost continual religious warfare among the various sects of Christianity. It arose from the recognition that no sect was strong enough to eradicate the others, so they had might as well live and let live. Originally the concept applied only to Christians, but the force of the logic led to the implication that, if it’s not okay to kill Christian heretics for their beliefs, it’s probably just as wrong to kill Jews, Muslims, and unbelievers.

My knowledge of Islamic history is extremely limited, but can it be that the problem is that there has not been enough internecine bloodshed among Muslims (as opposed to between Muslims and non-Muslims) to lead their scholars to a similar conclusion? Perhaps, then, what we need to do is let the Sunnis and Shi’ites to slaughter one another for a while longer....

John Moser - The content of the battling religious views made some contribution, no? The emergence -- within Protestant societies, if not exactly within Protestantism -- of the remarkable idea that religion is a matter of opinion. . . this idea promoted liberal toleration, and eventually promoted religious indifference. Which in turn triggered the rediscovery of religious faith, a faith insisting that it is not mere opinion!

I don’t think we should drop Locke’s letter because the fundamentalist Muslims won’t translate it or read it like they don’t for nearly all Western ideas. They are at war with those ideas anyway and so don’t bother trying to understand them.

Steve, I suspect you’re right. Christianity in its doctrines preaches peace, among believers as well as toward non-believers. Sure, in practice there was a long history of violence associated with the faith, but it always had to be justified or explained away. Ultimately I suppose it’s not difficult to see how Locke’s view developed more or less naturally. By contrast, while Islam calls for peace within the faith community, it does not demand peaceful treatment of outsiders. Hence even a growing sense of "live and let live" between Sunni and Shi’a wouldn’t necessarily lead toward beliefs in freedom of religion.

By the way, a speaker from CAIR came to Ashland a couple of weeks ago, giving the old "Islam is a religion of peace" line. Jihad, he informed the audience, did not mean "holy war." It was, he said, "the most beautiful word in the world."

John, I hope the people at Ashland gave the CAIR flackster a piece of their mind. I hope they didn’t just sit there and let him get away with demonstrable falsehoods.

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