Earlier this month author and former Federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy gave a terrific, informative, and comprehensive address at The Center for Security Policy at the National Press Club. It was principally an answer and a rebuttal to the criticisms of a group of five House representatives who called for a multi-agency investigation into the backgrounds of numerous Muslims now employed in various capacities in those agencies. One of those letters went to deputy inspector general of the State Department, and one of the persons named in the letter was Huma Abedin, Secretary Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff.
McCarthy was the point man in the prosecution of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the “blind sheik,” over the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He is a Republican conservative with a libertarian bent who writes for National Review.
Abedin, it seems, has very close family ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist supremacist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the conquest of the United States (if not its destruction, as well). The Mainstream Media and its allies on the Left immediately charged Michele Bachmann, representative from Minnesota, with alleging that Abedin is an operative or spy for the Brotherhood. McCarthy and others have countered with the facts: that Bachmann, based on knowledge that Abedin especially has had family connections with the Brotherhood, suggested that perhaps she had not been as thoroughly vetted as a possible security risk. Bachmann and her colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee were requesting an investigation of the vetting of Abedin and other individuals. And nothing more.
The ensuing attack on Bachmann gave Senator John McCain of Arizona a chance to grandstand in Congress in Abedin’s defense. Abedin and McCain, apparently, are friends. However, he committed the same error as the mainstream media made, and interpreted Bachmann’s request for an investigation as an allegation of “guilt by association.”
McCarthy not only deflated such a charge in his Center for Security Policy speech, but provided ample evidence that the Brotherhood has indeed infiltrated the highest ranks of government for the purpose of influencing American foreign policy. During his speech, he said he could not now say how many Muslims were in positions of influence or even had access to security-sensitive documents.
However, there was a reservation in McCarthy’s depiction of the Islamic peril. That reservation compromises and qualifies everything else he had to say. These are the troubling paragraphs. The non-bolded Italics are mine:
Now, let me be clear about what I said and what I didn’t say. I said Islamist influences, I did not say Muslims.
I don’t know how many Muslims work in the U.S. government, but I feel pretty safe saying there are thousands. As a federal prosecutor on terrorism cases, I had the privilege of working with several of them. These were patriotic American Muslims, and a number of Muslims who may not be Americans but who have embraced America and the West. Without them, we could not have infiltrated jihadist cells in New York and stopped terrorists from killing thousands of people.
Without them, we could not have translated, understood and processed our evidence so it could be presented to a jury as a compelling narrative. Pro-American Muslims serve honorably in government, in our military, in our intelligence services, and in our major institutions.
We are lucky to have them because they have embraced the culture of individual liberty that is the beating heart of Western civilization. They have accepted the premise of our society that everyone has a right to freedom of conscience and equality before the law. They have accepted our foundational principle that free people are at liberty to make law for themselves, irrespective of the rules of any belief system or ideology. They construe Islam’s spiritual elements and its laws as a matter of private conscience, not as a mandatory framework for society. (Italics mine.)
Those Muslims are not Islamists.
What is troubling is that this is a common sentiment among virtually all well-read, knowledgeable, and actively out-spoken anti- and counter-jihadist writers and observers. The only Muslims I would completely trust with my life would be apostates: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Walid Shoebat, Wafa Sultan, and a handful of others. These individuals have repudiated Islam in its entirety, discarded it as a moral code, and warned that there can be no such thing as a moderate Islam. They have acknowledged that there is no such thing as a “moderate,” peace-loving Muslim, either, that there is no halfway point between obeying Allah’s commands and the laws of man-made governments, which Allah decreed, through Mohammad, were an “abomination.”
Parenthetically, the concept of a conscience is strictly religious in nature, by which one’s explicitly held moral principles are at variance with the more pragmatic or “practical” actions one must take to pursue one’s ends. As such a dichotomy, a conscience serves more as a leash rather than as a guide to moral action.
Let us for the moment take McCarthy’s statement as true – that these “patriotic” Muslims are not security risks and who sincerely do not wish harm on the United States – and pose some important questions:
Which parts of the Islamic doctrine do “moderate,” peace-loving, “patriotic” Muslims reject, or object to, or claim have been misinterpreted by “extremists” and “radicals”? To my knowledge, this question has never been answered, neither by any “moderate” Muslims, nor by any non-Muslims such as Andrew McCarthy or Robert Spencer or Daniel Pipes. It would be interesting to know which parts of that doctrine do not call for death, destruction, enslavement or conquest – that is, the later, abrogating Koranic verses.
And if one could identify those parts, and segregate them from the belligerent, violent parts, could the remainder be justly called “Islamic”? Could a Muslim who adhered to those non-violent parts, and eschewed the violent ones, still be called a “true Muslim”? Would he be any kind of “Muslim”? Would “conservative” or “extremist” Muslims regard him as one, or label him a slacker, or an apostate?
If one has serious reservations about one’s beliefs, yet steadfastly holds onto them in the face of the choices of rejecting them, compromising them, or of being consistent with them, is this a matter of faith, or of a congenital psychological or epistemological disorder? If a private conscience is a personal matter, characterized by a belief in an all-knowing, omnipotent deity who commands one to be moral (without any demonstrable, perception-based, reality-grounded proofs), where would one’s strongest loyalty lay? With the belief, or with secular law? In a crisis, would a Muslim’s personal ‘belief system” trump his purported belief in the “foundational principle that free people are at liberty to make law for themselves”?
Islam’s basic tenets reject any kind of individualism. Islam is inherently hostile to such concepts of individualism and political liberty. Islamic ideology seeks to extinguish those things. To wit, as cited in the Journal Huma Abedin worked on for twelve years:
The Western habit of reducing religion to the function of a residual force, separating it from the state and relegating it to personal and individual affairs, places a deep gulf between the West and other traditions, especially the Islamic. (p. 6)
The Islamic world sees the West as arrogant, materialistic, repressive, brutal, and decadent with a lack of human moral values. The domains of Islam perceive Western culture as threatening because of its materialism, imperialism and its championing of unfettered individualism at the expense of the common social good. These hallmarks of Western culture are seen as the source of all troubles. (p. 9)
Muslim intellectuals believe that Western modernity is based on a metaphysical foundation of immanence that denies transcendence. Sayyid Husayn Nasr describes, “The embodiment of the Divine Will, as a transcendent reality which is eternal and immutable, as a model by which the perfections and shortcomings of human society and the conduct of the individual are judged….”
Sayyid QuÏb described it [modern Islam] as “a disastrous combination of avid materialism and egoistic individualism.” (p. 9)
The war that has been declared against Western modernity now seeks a new modernity, and, unlike Western modernity, it is not based on a revolution of rising expectations and infinite progress, but, rather, on the idea of a human mind at peace with itself, committed to the sanctity of man and of nature. The search for this new modernity in the Islamic world gives a high priority to the ideal of justice and the balancing of individual human rights with the rights of the human community as a whole. (p. 11)
The most common notion of freedom in the West today is to do, be or say whatever one wishes without intervention. A substantial range of actions by individuals or groups cannot be questioned. But in the Islamic notion of freedom, an individual’s or group’s freedom is restricted if fellow human beings complain of sentimental or sensual feelings as a result of those actions. (p. 11)
All Italics are mine. Need I point out the inherent hostility of Islam to individualism? Islam requires the unquestioning submission of the individual to Islamic authority.
All non-Islamist or non-supremacist Muslims are faced with such a contradiction and the attending problematic conflict of conscience. If they refuse or are unable to question their faith, what then? If one could demonstrate to them that their faith is incompatible with their purported patriotism and loyalty, what would they do about it? Repudiate Islam, or continue to profess double and irreconcilable commitments?
It is likely that McCarthy’s “patriotic” Muslims subscribe to the same subjectivist notion of individualism that the Left does, that all truths are “relative” and that one has a “right” to believe in anything one wishes, especially in the realm of religion, which is somehow sacrosanct and protected from any degree of critical examination (or is likewise exempt from mockery, satire, or parody).
“Radical Islam” is as much a redundancy as is the term “radical Nazism” or “radical Communism.” In his books and columns, McCarthy recognizes “extremist” Islam as chiefly an ideology, and not a religion. What, then, is that ideology based on? The Koran. The “Mein Kampf” of Islam, as Dutch politician Geert Wilders characterized it. The testimony, struggle, and Fitna of Mohammad.
Now, Christianity is of such a nature that it could suffer numerous schisms which in the past divided Catholics from Lutherans, Quakers, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Baptists, and other sects, yet all meet the definition of being “Christian.” There are fundamental doctrinal differences in these sects, such as a rejection of the Trinity, or of the Eucharist, or of Papal authority, but they are all Christian.
Islam at first glance also features divisions or schisms between the Sunni and Shi’ite sects, between the Wahhabist or Salafist sect (which upholds the literal and puritanical doctrine of the Mohammad’s immediate descendents or successors) and the Sunni sect, which disagrees with the Shi’ites only on picayune matters, such as who really succeeded Mohammad.
But whichever brand of Islam one examines, one sees a blueprint for a totalitarian society that commands unquestioning faith in the truth of Allah’s injunctions. Based on the Koran, Islam, its internal divisions to the contrary notwithstanding, is a single, unified monotheist creed governed by Sharia law. Some commentators have even claimed that there is such a thing as “secular Islam.” This is an oxymoron, a contradictory package deal. No religion can be “secular,” that is, on one hand, based on a belief of a commandment-giving deity, but on the other, based on non-deity-derived, man-made law. Either the man-made law is derived from a commanding deity, or it is not.
“Moderate” Muslims and Islamists would be the first to agree. That is their commonality of belief and goal. The more consistent Muslims – the “radicals” and “extremists” – do the dirty work that more fastidious, laid-back, “tolerant” Muslims choose not to. They wage violent war on the West with self-sacrificing suicide bombers and the like, and with cultural and political jihad taken up by CAIR and other Brotherhood-connected “civil rights” organizations.
But because Islam is a “religion,” conservatives refuse to condemn it. However, an ideology can also be a religion to its promulgators as well as to its rank-and-file adherents. Our experience with Nazism and Communism should have taught us that lesson. All forms of totalitarianism are primarily faith-based, grounded in a belief in the divinely-inspired infallibility of its iconic leaders. But religion is a multi-faith chapel conservatives refuse to criticize. Therein lies the conservatives’ Achilles heel when the subject is Islam.
When push comes to shove in the so-called “war on terror,” which side will these “patriotic” Muslims take? The question should be unnecessary. No Muslim should be employed in “government, in our military, in our intelligence services.” Not even in local law enforcement. The defense of this country from its dedicated enemies should not be an exercise in “equal opportunity.” The exclusion of Muslims from government employment should not be regarded as an act of “discrimination” or “bigotry,” but rather as a policy of self-preservation. For all their other ideological faults, neither Woodrow Wilson nor Franklin D. Roosevelt invited “moderate” sympathizers with the Kaiser or Nazism to be on their advisory teams, nor employed them in any government agency during the two wars, nor extended hands of friendship to their waffling, excuse-making, taqiyya-trained apologists.
McCarthy asserts that we would not be able to wage an effective war against Islamic jihad or the “war on terrorism” without the help of Muslims. This is balderdash. As far back as the 19th century, there have been enough credible and clear translations of Islamic texts and documents that we need not employ battalions of Muslims to help us understand them, regardless of any Muslim’s purported loyalty to the preservation of this country. All one need do is acknowledge that Islam is root-and-branch a form of totalitarianism, eminently compatible with the Left’s secular brand, and treat it as an enemy.
As things stand, we are not waging an effective war against Islam. President Obama’s “outreach” to Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood is not the worst development. What is equally perilous is the conservative refusal to examine and excoriate Islam, as well.
The only trustworthy Muslim is an ex-Muslim. And that is something Huma Abedin is not.