The Official Blog Of Edward Cline

An Encomium for an Unsung Writer

Greenfield, the Sultan Knish columnist and frequent contributor to FrontPage’s
The Point Blog, is one of the most perceptive, objective, prolific, and ruthless
observers of contemporary politics and culture in the country. He writes things
Charles Krauthammer would be hesitant to publish, and says things no one on Fox
News would dare utter.
is because he is an intellectual, a thinker in fundamentals, and so he has a
far wider perspective on things Islamic than has any newspaper pundit or TV
anchor or teleprompter reader.
of the first tasks I perform when returning to my computer after a night’s
sleep is to hunt up and read his latest pieces. I do not know how he keeps up
the pace and the output. I’ve often kidded him by asking him if he has a time
warp device that allows him to vanish into a timeless realm to cover and
produce as much copy as he does, and then emerge from it to have a bite to eat
and take a nap. That way he could keep to the twenty-four hour day with the
rest of us.
will only admit that it is “like racing along a treadmill manned by
Marxist clowns.”
often than not his Sultan Knish columns are evocative of H.L. Mencken at his
best: wryly ironic, sometimes bitter, always contemptuous of politicians and
activists who suffer from foot-in-mouth disease or who have been lobotomized by
political correctness, or who are just plain morally and/or politically corrupt.
Regardless of his mood, he will make an unforgettable point. A few times he
might over-write, and occasionally a grammatical error might creep in, but such
lapses are so infrequent it would be picayune to dwell on them. Given the
caliber of his intellect and his bare-knuckles honesty, readers are getting a
has a devoted and growing readership. He has been writing “Sultan
Knish” since 2005 and for FrontPage since 2011. His FrontPage byline
reads: “… a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center… a New York
writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international
challenges America faces in the 21st century.”
example of his thinking is his latest Sultan Knish column, “The
Gang Religion of Islam
,” written on the occasion of the attack on the Westgate
in Nairobi,
Kenya over the weekend. While the attack and massacre of non-Muslims (and
perhaps of a few Muslims who weren’t lucky enough to be asked to recite an
Islamic prayer or name Mohammad’s mother) has been claimed by Al-Shabab, a
faction of the Somalian jihadist gang of the same name, Greenfield points out
that the particular umbrella name of the killers hardly matters. The attack
could’ve been planned and executed by any other jihadist outfit: Hamas, Hezbollah,
Al-Qa’ida Central, the Muslim Brotherhood, or any one of numerous units of the
“Free Syrian Army.”
short, Greenfield did not use the notion of “gangs” as a mere
metaphor. He identified Islam’s core modus
: kill for the sake of killing.  
one reader of “Gang Religion,” who commented on Islam’s “Golden
Age,” Greenfield replied:
Islam is not conducive to philosophy. You can’t read
it and gain a larger sense of the world. There’s no room for speculation
afterward. It’s a series of badly cribbed scriptures and the narrative of
Islam’s present, past and future wars.
short, Immanuel Kant had a philosophy (with which Islam and modern Western
culture are largely copasetic). Hegel had a philosophy (which let loose today’s
Marxists and Progressives and other totalitarians). Martin Heidegger had a
philosophy (which sanctioned Nazism). Christianity and Judaism have their
has no philosophy that pursues the meaning of life. In it, speculation is
prohibited. As such, it can only obsess with the meaning of death, without
page-long Kantian paragraphs that explicate its death-worship.
at bottom is imbecilic and it attracts recidivist imbeciles. Passive Muslims
are those who religiously go to mosque and question nothing. Activist Muslims
are the killer imbeciles who fly planes into skyscrapers, prey on non-Muslim
women in Britain and Europe, and invade shopping malls, guns blazing.
“Golden Age” is based on Greek and Roman texts which invading Arabs
might have discovered and preserved, but which they did not originate and which
were subsequently disdained as un-Islamic.
Islam, if it can be called a philosophy, is a philosophy of nihilism and death.
Islam, as Greenfield describes it (and too few others critical of Islam), is a
manual for conquest, submission and self-immolation cobbled together from other
creeds, chiefly from Judaism and Christianity, while Allah was originally a
pagan moon god. There is no system or structure to it. It is an arbitrary,
unwholesome porridge of assertions, sayings, anecdotes, and dicta, a disparate
potpourri of statements of dubious authorship whose central theme is “conquer
them, convert them, or kill
them.” It appeals to psychopaths and
sociopaths – the jihadists – and to the morally rootless and selfless rank-and-file
Muslims, that “silent majority” of manqués who refuse to think. But
its overall thesis is explained by Greenfield in his opening paragraph:
Killing non-Muslims is the point of Islam. To the
extent that it has any point. That isn’t to say that Islam doesn’t preach the
virtues of charity and love for one’s fellow Muslim. It does. But its virtues
are not original. Like most of the rest of the framework of it, they are lifted
from existing religions.
a day passes anymore without news of another spate of Muslim honor killings,
rapes of child brides, or of mass murders of Muslims by Muslims of either sect,
or of the targeting of Westerners and others not of the Islamic suasion for
slaughter or rape. All of it done in the name of Allah, or for the sake of
being a “good Muslim.” Since 9/11, nearly 20,000 acts of Islamic
terror have been committed. Perhaps more. Someone is
keeping count.
Greenfield asks the question: If these crimes were instead committed by men for
no ostensive or alleged religious reason, would we not deem them crimes,
regardless of the upbringing or religious background of the perpetrators?
Charles Manson, Richard Speck, Aaron Alexis and other mass murderers committed
their crimes without benefit of religion or ideology. They were psychotics,
sociopaths, or simply nihilistic. Still, we hold them responsible for their
crimes. What difference to the victims should it make that they have been
slaughtered in the name of a deity? What difference should it make to us that
they were slaughtered for a religious reason, or in the name of a deluded
vision or for no comprehensible reason at all?
leads into his thesis:
Islam may have become a religion, but it began as a
code. Like the Pirate Code or the Thieves Law of Russia, it was a set of rules
that allowed a select group of bandits to choose leaders, plan attacks and
divide the loot.

The code invested their actions with meaning, it kept order in their ranks and
allowed the members to believe that dying for the gang was more than a martial
ethos, but also contained a spiritual element. Similar attempts to invest gang
life with spirituality can be found in the tattoos, rap songs and graffiti
memorials of every street gang in America. 

what are street gangs notorious for? Violence. Killing. Terrorism. With guns,
with tire irons, baseball bats, knives, or anything else that is proven to be
Imagine the Kingism of the Latin Kings street gang,
which has its own prayers, crude theology and philosophy becoming the religion
of the gangs ruling over a Post-American civilization. In the 80s, the Chicago
gang Blackstone Rangers realized the benefits of becoming a religion and
declared itself the El Rukn tribe of the Moorish Science Temple of America.

Despite the elaborate mythology, the Latin Kings is a gang first and a religion
second. In time it might become a full religion, stranger things have happened,
but it will never be able to escape its origins. It will at its heart always be
a gang code with an emphasis on providing a spiritual overlay for gang

And that is the case with Islam.
nothing new. Let’s go back to the early 20th century, and the
Chicago of that era, and to the St.
Valentine’s Day Massacre
of February 14th, 1929. In a reprise of
the event, John O’Brien of the Chicago Tribune wrote:
On this frigid morning, in an unheated brick garage at
2122 N. Clark St., seven men were lined up against a whitewashed wall and
pumped with 90 bullets from submachine guns, shotguns and a revolver. It was
the most infamous of all gangland slayings in America, and it savagely achieved
its purpose–the elimination of the last challenge to Al Capone for the mantle
of crime boss in Chicago.
was the prize? The undisputed monopoly of distributing prohibited liquor to the
city and its surroundings.
The victims, killed outright or left dying in the
garage, included Frank “Hock” Gusenberg, [George “Bugs”] Moran’s
enforcer, and his brother, Peter “Goosy” Gusenberg. Four of the other
victims were Moran gangsters, but the seventh dead man was Dr. Reinhardt
Schwimmer, an optician who cavorted with criminals for thrills. Missing that morning
was Capone’s prize, Moran, who slept in.
gangs have attracted hangers-on who are fascinated by the power gangs enjoyed
with near impunity. Another hanger-on who cavorted with gangsters was Saul
, whose mentor, Al Capone’s gang “manager” Frank Nitti,
helped him to formulate his “rules for radicals
and “community organizing” techniques.
there really any difference between the mob wars of the 1920’s and 1930’s, and
the conflicts between the Sunnis and the Shi’ites? Except for the religious
coloring, both sects seek uncontested dominance over the other, preferably by
extinction of the other.
one say more about “gangster government”? In attacking the Obama
seizure of the auto industry, Michelle Bachmann must have done her homework on
the origins of President Barack Obama’s policies, as well. She called the whole
phenomenon “gangster
is the attraction of Islam to psychopaths, sociopaths, and nihilists? As
Greenfield explains:
After over a thousand years, after its own empires and
conquests stretching around the world, after endless religious schools, reform
movements, theological debates and splinter groups, Islam is not able to leave
its gang roots behind. It is still at its core a gang religion. That is why it
appeals so well to convicts who recognize that they are interacting with
something far more ancient than Kingism.

That is also why Islam, like most street gangs, degenerates so readily into
internecine violence. No matter how much its devotees dream of conquering the
decadent West and planting the black flag of Islam everywhere, they can’t help
turning their guns on each other, because gangs are naturally primed to fight
amongst themselves. The gang code never suffices to settle disputes among men
who live by violence. They may fight to impose Islamic law on the world, but
they can’t live by it.

are we witnessing in Syria, in Libya, in Egypt, in Kenya, in Nigeria? Only the
Capone and Moran gangs tricked out in ghutras or shemaghs or keffiyah masks and
wearing suicide vests or carrying AK47’s and grenades.  Just as Capone’s and Nitti’s Chicago Outfit
couldn’t keep the truce with other gangs, so the Sunnis and Shi’ites and other
Islamic sects can’t unite permanently, only temporarily, when they gang up on
non-gang members. Non-Muslims.
Syria is Islam at its most primal with gangs fighting
over the ruins of cities, small groups joining up, Shiite and Sunni militias
killing each other, Free Syrian Army and Al Nusra Front gangs fighting over
bakeries and pipelines, an endless stream of recruits from around the world
rushing to join up in a gang war that has claimed over 100,000 lives.
even America’s bootleg and drug gangs and modern organized crime families can
top that figure. And that figure is only the tip of a mountain of corpses that
began growing in the 7th century.
And the question was how do you keep a band of bandits
from stabbing each other over the loot while convincing them that if they die
while stealing a goat or raping someone’s third wife, they’ll go to a magical
place full of goats and virginal third wives with skin of the color of bone

As the holy warriors of the Syrian Civil War killing each other over control of
bakeries while fighting to impose the perfection of Islamic Law on everyone can
tell you, it’s not a very good answer even to that question. It’s an even worse
answer to any larger social problem that doesn’t involve twenty men trying to
divide the profits from one raid on an abandoned university.

But when a religion is based on gang violence and because of that inevitably
reverts to gang violence, it’s an answer that keeps coming up again and again.

The answer of Islam is the answer of violence. It’s
the answer of uniting the various gangs around killing non-Muslims. Sometimes
that answer even works.
Muslims can deal with the conundrum. Raheel Raza, for example, in his September
25th Gatestone column, “The Danger in
Our Midst
,” addresses it. His article is fundamentally an overture to
repudiation. Writing about the recent violence in Nairobi, he asks:
Is it because there are verses in the Qu’ran that can
be, and have been, used to justify violence against non-Muslims? If this is the
situation, then it is time for us to lift our heads out of the sand, and
understand that the enemy is within.
is a prisoner of its own rationalistic Möbius strip. It can’t escape its
nature, writes Greenfield. It is congenitally doomed by its defective,
anti-life purposes and ends. It can’t be “reformed” without
repudiating its core premises and therefore obviating it. Its metaphysics is
impossible and the stuff of Looney
, and its epistemology is intrinsically blood-red.
“ideal” Islam, writes Greenfield, isn’t Muslims butchering each other
in Syria.
Islam finds its meaning from fighting and killing
non-Muslims. It is the only meaning that it can ever have. The exercises of its
devotees who memorize countless Koranic verses, who debate the fine points of
laws and prepare for their pilgrimages to Mecca must inevitably converge on the
violent core that gives the whole thing purpose.

The historical dynamic of Islam has never left behind its gang origins. Its
future is measured in terms of conquest and more conquest. The manifest destiny
of Islam is an eating contest as its holy warriors cram more and more territories
and people into an expanding Caliphate that falls apart vomiting up the
conquests into chaos. The lessons are never learned. The holy warriors fall to
fighting each other.

congenital condition can be likened to the steel pin ball that will always roll
towards the bottom, no matter how furiously the Islamic scholars work the
flippers. No matter how many times they send the ball back up to score on one
of the buttons, the ball’s ultimate and only destination is the black hole of
lessons can’t be learned, because Muslims have a vested interest in the
impossible metaphysics and feel naked without flaunting their blood-soaked
epistemology in reams and sound-bytes of taqiyya
and practiced dissimulation. Greenfield writes:
Every fourth gang hip-hop song is about how hard it is
to leave the gang life. The other three are about how everyone else out there
is a pretender and not a real gangsta. That is Islam in a nutshell. Islamic
civilization can’t leave the gang life and insists that every other
civilization and even most other Muslims are pretenders and that only the
Salafiest of the Salafists are the real Gangstas.
one, not even the most authoritative, articulate, and well-read
“Islamophobes” in the blog realm can inveigh against Islam as
Greenfield can and does consistently and with haunting prose. He goes to the
core issue of Islam and reveals its fetid, dank nature. He finds no redemption
in its diseased leprosy. It’s unfortunate that his work is confined to the blog
realm, because more people concerned with Islam would profit by imbibing it.
knows there are no such things as “moderate” Islamists or
“radical” Islamists or even “militant” Islamists. The adjectival
terms are merely evasions indulged in by men who have their own mental problems.
In Islam, there are only the passive dullards, and the disconnected
“activists.” He knows that jihadists are simply being consistent with
their gangster code, adhering to the whole panoply of Koranic ideology in
pretend exercises in “spirituality.” Being consistent means killing,
either the heretical other, or the “People of the Book.” That is the
nature of any terrorist organization or creed.
that is Islam. Even run-of-the-mill criminals need a philosophy of life, even
if it is unarticulated or founded on paranoia or schizophrenia or on some
Rosicrucian-like delusion.
however, articulates a philosophy of death.
you want a powerful guide to the unabridged, naked hell that is Islam, Daniel Greenfield
is your Dante.  


Equal Opportunity for the Ugly


Maturity Deferred: The Death of the Grown-Up


  1. Daniel Greenfield

    That may be too kind, regarding me at any rate, but regarding Islam, transcendence is the missing element

    even flawed ideas can allow for it, but Islam does not

  2. Edward Cline

    Kindness has nothing to do with it. It was a matter of justice. And people call me "cold-hearted"!

  3. truepeers

    Daniel, you are basically right but you can deepen the analysis by recognizing that transcendence is not optional but is a human universal. All language and religion is transendent – it cannot be reduced to any physical reality. When a Jihadi cuts up his victim and shouts "Our God is Greater" that is transcendence, albeit in primitive form. Nihilism may at times look like a lack of transcendence but the nihilist can't help but seek transcendence of mundane mimetic rivalry even if in suicide or crude violence. Hence the appeal of the Jihad to those who have trouble accessing the forms of transcendence, intellectual or economic-material, common to modern civilization.

    We should reognize our common humanity with the Jihadist enemy the better to reveal his failure to recognize ours.

  4. Edward Cline

    About the "spirituality" of the "Gang Religion of Islam," this is more like the kind of "transcendence" that Islamic killers, such as thought who invaded the Nairobi mall, have in mind. I see no difference. The criminal derives a "spiritually" from pure destruction. And Ayn Rand, whom I am glad did not live long enough to see the scale of evil that men are submitting to, had a strong notion of the anti-values of the nihilist, when she had James Taggart in Atlas Shrugged, during the Galt torture scene, say, "I want to hear him scream!" And to the killers in Nairobi, and Bali, and Ground Zero, and London, Indonesia, and elsewhere, this is the nature of their "transcendent spirituality."

    And the killers in Nairobi heard their victims scream.


  5. truepeers

    Heh i'm not saying human sacrifice is a welcome form of transcendence today (though historically it would not have emerged as an institution if it didn't "work" to save the community from unravelling itself), just that it makes no sense to say that those who kill in the name of a god have no sense of transcendence.

    What do you think of this critique of Rand:

  6. Daniel Greenfield

    It may well be transcendence as a subjective experience, but it does not bring him, let alone the group he is part of, any further along, except in conquest

  7. truepeers

    That's true, there is only one trdition that moves us beyond human sacrifice. Sorry to misread you.

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