Saturday, April 29, 2017

#119 / That Dawa Danger

It appears that Ayaan Hirsi Ali (pictured above), like President Trump and his "Strategic Advisor," Steve Bannon, believes that Western Civilization is engaged in a life or death struggle against "radical Islam." Let's compare and contrast: 


Here is what Bannon said, in January of this year, ridiculing a statement by former President George W. Bush, who was quoted as saying that Islam is a religion of peace: 

Islam is not a religion of peace. Islam is a religion of submission. Islam means submission. I mean, the whole thing is just, he is the epitome, he's a Republican version--not a conservative--he's a Republican establishment, country club version of the Clintons. That's all they are. It's the baby boomer, narcissistic, he wants to feel loved.

This next-to-incoherent statement makes clear to me why Bannon and his boss (our current president) are so close. They "speak the same language," as it were, if you want to call that farrago of strung-together words a language. 

Focusing on what Bannon is clearly trying to say, though, and his critique of former President Bush, it seems to me that our current president is right up there where narcissism and wanting to feel loved is concerned. Trump is not, in other words, all that different from Bannon's characterization of Bush. And our current president also spends a lot of time at country clubs (and particularly when he owns them). Again, Trump tracks pretty closely with what Bannon says is bad about Bush. 

Bannon is undoubtedly right, however, to say that our current president is quite a bit different from former President Bush with respect to what President Trump thinks about Islam. The BBC News, for instance, outlines various statements, some of them contradictory, made by the president and his advisors: 

Mr Trump has repeatedly warned of the dangers of "radical Islamic terrorism" - a line viewed as a direct rebuke of Barack Obama, who while president had pointedly refused to use the term. 
He slammed Mr Obama and Hillary Clinton for being "founders" of the so-called Islamic State. He publicly feuded with the parents of a Muslim US soldier killed in Iraq. He has, at times, advocated a temporary ban on Muslims entering the US and instituted a "watch list" for those already in the US.  
These policies and actions, critics say, reveal an anti-Islamic animus that lies at the heart of Mr Trump's politics. 
"From start to finish, the 2016 presidential election vividly revealed that Islamaphobia is alive, and potent and politically resonant as ever," writes University of Detroit Professor Khaled Baydoun. "Scapegoating Islam and vilifying Muslims was far more than merely campaign messaging; for Donald Trump it was a winning strategy." 
"I think Islam hates us," [Trump] said during an interview in March 2016.
At other moments, [Trump] struck a more measured tone, drawing a distinction between the more than 1.6 billion who follow the Islamic faith and the smaller subset of "bad and dangerous people" who happen to be Muslims. "I love the Muslims," Mr Trump said in September 2015. "I think they're great people." 

While Trump, Bannon, and Hirsi Ali all share a powerful antagonism towards Islam, I think Hirsi Ali makes Bannon and Trump look "moderate." 

As described in a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald, Hirsi Ali is a former Somalian refugee, now a U.S. citizen, who is the author of a powerful 2006 memoir, Infidel, in which Hirsi Ali detailed her experiences of female genital mutilation and forced marriage. The Morning Herald calls Infidel "a forceful polemic which argues Islam is a misogynistic religion with war at its heart." The Morning Herald article also suggests that Hirsi Ali cancelled out a scheduled appearance in Australia to avoid confronting her critics.

Hirsi Ali is now affiliated with the Hoover Institution, and, as the Morning Herald says, "makes a living as a public intellectual ... and has made many controversial claims about her former faith, including that Muslim women are 'slaves' and that Islam – as opposed to Islamic terrorism – is a 'destructive nihilistic cult of death [which] legitimates murder.'"

I read Infidel long ago, and I seem to recall having had a pretty positive reaction to the book. Now, though, I am incredibly uncomfortable with what Hirsi Ali is proposing, having read about her current views in  the April 8, 2017, edition of The Wall Street Journal. Her colleague, Tunku Varadarajan, wrote about "Islam's Most Eloquent Apostate," and outlined a dire warning by Hirsi Ali, who wants to alert the American people to "Dawa."

"Dawa," says Hirsi Ali, is not a "religion," but "the ceaseless, world-wide ideological campaign waged by Islamists as a complement to jihad." "Dawa" is integral with Islam, and because of that, Islam must be seen "not just as a religion, but also as a political ideology."

Hirsi Ali says that "the West has made a colossal mistake by its obsession with 'terror' in the years since 9/11." The error, in her eyes, is "overconfidence." 

According to what The Wall Street Journal article says about Hirsi Ali's views, she thinks that the West erroneously believes that terrorism is "the way of the weak." We tell ourselves that once we take out the leaders, and "bring down al Qaeda or ISIS," the followers of these organizations will "stop their jihad." Not true, says Hirsi Ali. Dawa is “conducted right under our noses in Europe, and in America. It aims to convert non-Muslims to political Islam and also to push existing Muslims in a more extreme direction.” The ultimate goal is “to destroy the political institutions of a free society and replace them with Shariah.” It is a “never-ending process,” she says. “It ends when an Islamic utopia is achieved. Shariah everywhere!”


Hirsi Ali's view of Islam, combined with the "Dawa" she warns us of, is breathtakingly extreme. According to Hirsi Ali, the religion is a "nihilistic cult of death," which "legitimates murder." It is a "misogynistic religion with war at its heart," and it is coupled with a "political ideology" (Dawa) that is "never-ending" in its commitment to the destruction of everyone who does not conform. As Varadarajan tells it, it is Hirsi Ali's contention that "when we say the Islamists are homophobic, we don't mean that they don't like gay marriage. We mean that they want gays put to death."

As I say, Hirsi Ali makes our current president look "moderate" in his opposition to Islam. It is her suggestion for what we ought to do about Islam, though, that most concerns me. 

Hirsi Ali believes that we should meet "the danger of Dawa" by denying tolerance to the intolerant, and this means we need to "give the president - this year, because there is no time to lose - the tools he needs to dismantle the infrastructure of dawa in the U.S."

Islam is really only "pretending" to be a religion, in Hirsi Ali's view, so it should receive no protection from those constitutional provisions that guarantee "freedom of worship." Apparently, the constitutional protections that are also provided to political action and advocacy should be summarily swept aside. The danger is too real! There "is no time to lose."


I do not want to minimize the claim that certain political/religious programs can be dangerous to our civil life. They can. The danger I see, however, is that our current president might decide that he should step forward to implement the kind of steps that Hirsi Ali wants. This could well lead, as we know from the example of Germany in the 1930's and 1940's, to a genuine totalitarianism that will prosper, most effectively, when there is some ethnic enemy to extirpate.

Hysteria and the Hoover Institution have always been friends. It used to be, according to the "public intellectuals" for which Hoover Tower provides a home, that "international communism" was the life-threatening challenge to our civilization. Now, it's "Dawa." 

My advice? Let's send Hirsi Ali back to the Hoover Tower, and continue on with the approach provided in our Constitution. The Constitution recommends that we deal with dangerous political programs by focusing on deeds, not words.

And for those who do see a genuine "Dawa Danger," here is a link to a website that presents some evidence that Islam is a lot more like the religion that George W. Bush talked about than the religion that Hirsi Ali is describing. 

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