Archive for Daniel Pipes Watch

Robert Wright: The Myth of Modern Jihad

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2010 by loonwatch

An excellent article, and a must read. (hat tip: Justin)

The Myth of Modern Jihad

by Robert Wright

It would be an understatement to say that Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square bomber, pleaded guilty last week. “I’m going to plead guilty a hundred times over,” Shahzad told the judge. Why so emphatic? Because Shahzad is proud of himself. “I consider myself a Mujahid, a Muslim soldier,” he said.

This got some fist pumps in right-wing circles, because it seemed to confirm that America faces all-out jihad, and must marshal an accordingly fierce response. On National Review Online, Daniel Pipes wrote that Shahzad’s “bald declaration” should make Americans “accept the painful fact that Islamist anger and aspirations” are the problem; we must name “Islamism as the enemy.” And, as Pipes has explained in the past, once you realize that your enemy is a bunch of Muslim holy warriors, the path forward is clear: “Violent jihad will probably continue until it is crushed by a superior military force.”

At the risk of raining on Pipes’s parade: If you look at what Shahzad actually said, the upshot is way less grim. In fact, at a time when just about everyone admits that our strategy in Afghanistan isn’t working, Shahzad brings refreshing news: maybe America can win the war on terrorism without winning the war in Afghanistan.

As a bonus, it turns out there’s a hopeful message not just in Shahzad’s testimony, but in Pipes’s incomprehension of it. Pipes exhibits a cognitive distortion that may be afflicting Americans broadly — not just on the right, but on the center and left as well. And seeing the distortion is the first step toward escaping it.

Once you decide that some group is your implacable enemy, your mind gets a little warped.

Here is how Shahzad explained his role in the holy war: “It’s a war,” he said. “I am part of that. I am part of the answer of the U.S. terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people, and on behalf of that, I’m revenging the attacks.”

Now, for a Muslim holy warrior to see his attacks as revenge runs counter to Pipes’s longstanding claim that Islamic holy war is about attack, not counterattack. Roughly since 9/11, Pipes has been telling us that jihad is “unabashedly offensive in nature, with the eventual goal of achieving Muslim dominion over the entire globe.” This notion of “jihad in the sense of territorial expansion has always been a central aspect of Muslim life” and is now “the world’s foremost source of terrorism.” That’s why you have to respond with “superior military force.”

Now we have Shahzad suggesting roughly the opposite — that the holy war could end if America would stop using military force. He said in court, “Until the hour the U.S. pulls its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan and stops the drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan and stops the occupation of Muslim lands and stops killing the Muslims and stops reporting the Muslims to its government, we will be attacking U.S., and I plead guilty to that.”

Should we really take this testimony seriously? It does, after all, have an air of self-dramatizing grandstanding. Then again, terrorism is a self-dramatizing, grandstanding business, and there’s no reason to think this particular piece of theater isn’t true to Shahzad’s interior monologue.

Indeed, it tracks the pitch of jihadist recruiters, notably Anwar Awlaki, the American sheik in Yemen who inspired not just Shahzad but the Fort Hood shooter and the thwarted underwear bomber. The core of the pitch is that America is at war with Islam, and the evidence cited includes Shahzad’s litany: Iraq, Afghanistan, drone strikes, etc.

Of course, this litany amounts to pretty severe terms for peace. Shahzad says terrorism will continue until we end two wars and all drone strikes? And quit “reporting” suspicious Muslims to our government? Anything else we can do for him?

But as a practical matter, taking any of these issues off the table weakens the jihadist recruiting pitch. (Different potential recruits, after all, are sensitive to different issues.) And if we could take the Afghanistan war off the table, that would be a big one.

At least, that’s my view. This isn’t the place to fully defend it (e.g., address the question of whether I’m “blaming” America for terrorism or whether ending the war would amount to dangerous “appeasement”). My point is just that, if you take Shahzad at his word, there’s more cause for hope than if Pipes were right, and Shahzad’s testimony were evidence that jihadists are bent on world conquest.

Now on to the second cause for hope: Pipes’s confusion itself. For these purposes, it doesn’t matter whether Shahzad was telling the truth, because Pipes certainly thinks he was. Pipes applauds Shahzad’s “forthright statement of purpose,” adding, “However abhorrent, this tirade does have the virtue of truthfulness.”

So then why doesn’t it bother Pipes that Shahzad’s depiction of Islamic holy war as defensive counter-attack is the opposite of the depiction Pipes has peddled for years? How can he possibly hail Shahzad’s comments as confirming his world view?

It’s only human nature. Once you decide that some group is your implacable enemy, your mind gets a little warped. Virtually all incoming evidence is thereafter seen as consistent with that model. (In fact, there’s a more specific finding from social psychology that also helps explain Pipes’s world view, as laid out by blogger Dan Drezner in this little video clip.)

This cognitive distortion reared its head in America’s previous cosmic struggle. Just about all cold war historians agree that Americans bought into the “myth of monolithic communism.” Once we decided that the communist menace was a single, vast, implacable force, we failed to appreciate, for example, tensions between Russia and China that in retrospect seem obviously important. We had our model, and we were sticking to it. Pipes has his model, and he’s sticking to it. He needn’tdismiss evidence inconsistent with it, because he can’t really see the evidence to begin with.

This same tendency may now be impeding America’s ability to conduct the war on terrorism wisely.

If you ask people — right, left or center — why we can’t withdraw from Afghanistan, they start talking about the catastrophe that would ensue: The Taliban would take over, provide bases for al Qaeda, and suddenly it’s 9/11 again. Now, the consequences of withdrawal would certainly be messy and in some ways bad — and this subject is way too complicated to deal with in my remaining few paragraphs. But enough holes have been poked in standard catastrophe scenarios (by, for example, Paul Pillar, former deputy chief of the C.I.A.’s counterterrorism center) without much reducing the grip these scenarios have on people’s minds that you have to wonder whether our fears are grounded in something other than pure reason. You have to wonder whether we’re doing what Pipes is doing: taking a genuinely pretty scary bunch of enemies and making them much scarier — attributing so much unity and relentlessness and cunning to them that it’s hard to imagine beating them without military victory.

To be sure, there is always an ostensibly logical argument that catastrophists summon. (Pipes isn’t wrong to say that there is a doctrine of offensive jihad — he’s just wrong about how it has played out historically and how it plays it out today.) But the reason people accept these arguments so uncritically is that they have a fear of Islamic radicalism that dwarfs the actual threat.

The analogy with communism is worth dwelling on. People warned that if Vietnam fell, the dominoes would keep falling until America itself was under communist control. After all, Russia and China — the sponsors of our Vietnamese enemy — would join with the Vietnamese government to use Vietnam as a forward base if we were chased out. You know — kind of the way al Qaeda would join with a Taliban that controlled any chunk of Afghanistan to torment America.

Well, four years after Saigon fell, Communist Vietnam and Communist China were at war — not with us, but with each other. And a decade after that we had won the cold war.

I’ve been kind of hard on Pipes — in parts of this column and in an earlier column. So I’m glad to have the opportunity to emphasize that he’s just an example of the human mind at work, albeit a particularly revved up example. It’s only natural to attribute to your enemy more cohesion and menace than is in order. We used to do this with communism, and now we do it with radical Islam — and radical Muslims, for their part, do it with us. It’s a temptation we all have to fight. Maybe if we fought it as hard as we fight other enemies, we’d have fewer of them.

 

Daniel Pipes Equates Keith Ellison to Hitler

Posted in Feature, Loon Sites with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2009 by loonwatch
The Moral ContortionistThe Moral Contortionist

On November 25th, we wrote about a wacky article that the failed academic and full time Likud apologist, Daniel Pipes wrote for the Jerusalem Post, in which he argued that US CongressmanKeith Ellison, intellectual Tariq Ramadan and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan were a greater threat to Western Civilization than Al-Qaeda.

We wrote at the time,

According to the illogic of Pipes the greatest threat doesn’t come from Al-Qaeda, Ayatollah Khomeini or Nidal Hasan but rather from people like Dr. Tariq Ramadanand Congressman Keith Ellison. He accuses the two of being part of something he terms “Islamism 2.0.” This ridiculous term translates essentially into what Islamophobe Robert Spencer calls “Stealth Jihad,” or the subtle takeover of the West by peaceful, law-abiding Muslims who have a secret, sinister (stealth) goal to takeover the West and replace Democracy with Shariah law: in other words it’s aconspiracy theory.

Ayatollah Khomeini, Osama bin Laden, and Nidal Hasan represent Islamism 1.0, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (the prime minister of Turkey), Tariq Ramadan (a Swiss intellectual), and Keith Ellison (a US congressman) represent Islamism 2.0. The former kill more people but the latter pose a greater threat to Western civilization. (emphasis mine)

That Erdogan, Ramadan and Ellison can even be mentioned in the same sentence as equivalent to, or even more dangerous and threatening to the West than Bin Laden speaks volumes about Pipes’ preposterous agenda. Would Bin Laden have Turkey make peace with Armenia as Erdogan did? Would Bin Laden affirm Democracy as the way forward to better governance and equal rights as all three do? Would Bin Laden pledge to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America on Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an as Keith Ellison did?

We never imagined Daniel Pipes would offer a response, as he usually isn’t too keen to get into a debate with anyone who challenges his weak and biased arguments. However, it seems this time Pipes couldn’t hold himself back. Prompted by a reader of his website, Aliya, who alerted Pipes to our rebuttal of his article, he responded by bringing the all too familiar response of those who have no arguments: comparing your subject to Hitler.

Submitted by Aliya (United Kingdom), Nov 27, 2009 at 06:49

Dr Pipes

Loon Watch, the Islamist Jewish/Eurabian (apparently George Soros and Saudi funded) website which wrote about your report

Daniel Pipes says Keith Ellison is a threat to Western Civilization

http://www.loonwatch.com/2009/11/daniel-pipes-says-keith-ellison-is-a-threat-to-western-civilization/

They’re asking, because Ellison is a Westerner, and Turkey will join the EU soon, Turks are European, Westerners already, so how can you say theTurkish President and Congressman Ellison are enemies of the West when they are westerners?

What would be your response to this?

Kind Regards

Aliya


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened for relevance, substance, and tone, and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome, but comments are rejected if scurrilous, off-topic, vulgar, ad hominem, or otherwise viewed as inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the Guidelines for Comments. For informational purposes, we identify countries from which comments are sent.

Daniel Pipes replies:

Hiitler was a Westerner too, and he arguably did more to destroy Western civilization than anyone else in history.

The questioner sounds like another loon that we know, Pamela Geller who surmised that Loonwatch was a George Soros funded website, but she takes it a step further and includes all the possible conspiracy theories she can think of, not only are we George Soros funded but we are an, “Islamist Jewish/Eurabian (apparently George Soros and Saudi funded) website.” I love these loons, if half of what they said were true (Alas, my meager pockets) we would be rolling in the dough!!  Soros and company we are still waiting on our checks!

Notice that Daniel Pipes really didn’t answer any of the arguments or questions in our article, my guess is he probably didn’t even read it. He looked at the way Aliya framed the question and answered it by equating Keith Ellison, Tariq Ramadan and Recep Erodogan, all fierce proponents of Democracy to the greatest mass-murderer of the 20th century. Quite despicable, and it seems to have become Daniel Pipes’ forte to side on the side of the despicable.

The real question however is, if Pipes is truly interested in “protecting Western Civilization,” why is he as silent as a mouse on the real threat: the new little Hitler’s springing up all over Europe? Why does Pipes ignore neo-fascist Geert Wilders who calls for the deportation of Mooslims, banning of the Quran, taxing the hijab, etc? Why does he not speak out against the fascist Northern League, why does he give his tacit approval of the minaret ban in Switzerland which he charachterizes as a vote against “Islamization?”

The new amendment also validates and potentially encourages resistance to Islamization throughout the continent.

The reality is ever clearer, Mr.Pipes doesn’t give two hoots about Democracy, for him Democracy is convenient when it fits his agenda but should be discarded the moment it is no longer of use.

 

Daniel Pipes says Keith Ellison is a threat to Western Civilization

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2009 by loonwatch
Daniel PipesDaniel Pipes

Daniel Pipes, the academic who dropped academia long ago to pursue anti-Islam polemics and apologia for Israeli policy is at it again. In a Nov, 24, 2009 article in the Jerusalem Post, Pipes writes about his favorite topic, “the Muslim threat to Western Civilization.”

According to the illogic of Pipes the greatest threat doesn’t come from Al-Qaeda, Ayatollah Khomeini or Nidal Hasan but rather from people like Dr. Tariq Ramadan and Congressman Keith Ellison. He accuses the two of being part of something he terms “Islamism 2.0.” This ridiculous term translates essentially into what Islamophobe Robert Spencer calls “Stealth Jihad,” or the subtle takeover of the West by peaceful, law-abiding Muslims who have a secret, sinister (stealth) goal to takeover the West and replace Democracy with Shariah law: in other words it’s a conspiracy theory.

Ayatollah Khomeini, Osama bin Laden, and Nidal Hasan represent Islamism 1.0, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (the prime minister of Turkey), Tariq Ramadan (a Swiss intellectual), and Keith Ellison (a US congressman) represent Islamism 2.0. The former kill more people but the latter pose a greater threat to Western civilization. (emphasis mine)

That Erdogan, Ramadan and Ellison can even be mentioned in the same sentence as equivalent to, or even more dangerous and threatening to the West than Bin Laden speaks volumes about Pipes’ preposterous agenda. Would Bin Laden have Turkey make peace with Armenia as Erdogan did? Would Bin Laden affirm Democracy as the way forward to better governance and equal rights as all three do? Would Bin Laden pledge to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America on Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an as Keith Ellison did?

All of the above are of course rhetorical questions because there is an obvious wide gulf that separates the likes of a Bin Laden and a Keith Ellison. Keith Ellison, is an American whose family history in the Americas goes back centuries, longer even than Pipes’ family history. He is a liberal Democrat who believes in Democracy, the rule of law, universal suffrage and equal rights for all. That is why his district in Minnesota overwhelmingly voted for him.

The most condescending aspect to the vile piece from Pipes and what he ignores or fails to mention is that Erdogan, Ramadan and Ellison are Westerners. In fact, they represent all that is good about the West, they are consistent on their values, are educated, active and participatory citizens: one doesn’t have to agree with their beliefs or ideas to see the common values in that. They call on their fellow citizens to be active and educated and they foster understanding between different communities while also being self-critical; that is more than we can say for Daniel Pipes.

Pipes goes on to state that “lawful Islamism” is growing in the West and may be worse than “violent Islamism” which is retreating,

Other once-violent Islamist organizations in Algeria, Egypt, and Syria have recognized the potential of lawful Islamism and largely renounced violence. One also sees a parallel shift in Western countries; Ramadan and Ellison represent a burgeoning trend.

In conclusion, only Islamists, not fascists or communists, have gone well beyond crude force to win public support and develop a 2.0 version. Because this aspect of Islamism undermines traditional values and destroys freedoms, it may threaten civilized life even more than does 1.0′s brutality.(emphasis added)

Instead of bizzarely bemoaning the fact that these once violent organizations have renounced violence, Pipes should see it as most sensible people do, a positive development which brings these groups into the system and opens them up to the scrutiny of checks and balances and eventually the electorate. Also notice the highly disingenuous way in which Pipes again lumps these once violent organizations onto the same wavelength as Ramadan and Ellison who, yes, are proud Muslims (not a crime by the way) but at the same time are staunch Democrats who are the fiercest and most affective opponents of the violent ideology that motivates groups such as Al-Qaeda.

Ellison and Ramadan stand as a strong counter example against Bin Laden and his cohorts for Muslims, especially young Muslims. They see two Muslims, strongly grounded in their faith, belonging to their society and giving back on various levels from the social to the political; instead of deriding them Pipes should be encouraging them. As more examples such as theirs increase in the West it will enable Muslims to better fight those minority elements within their faith that seek to cause chaos and violence and that is what really threatens Daniel Pipes who seems to be motivated by the paranoid fear that the “enfranchisement of American Muslims…will present true dangers to American Jews.”

So what does Daniel Pipes propose? How do we stop this “stealth Islamism 2.0?” Do we restrict the free speech of Tariq Ramadan and deny him entry into the US? ( Pipes does support that) Do we disallow Muslims such as Keith Ellison from holding public office? Do we not allow Muslims to enter into the military? Do we watch Muslim peoples’ every move? What practical solutions is Pipes proposing from this highly opinionated and doomsday scenario article?

We can only assume that he is in league with other believers in these conspiracy theories who do put forward pratical solutions to the “stealth Muslim problem.” Believers like Geert Wilders whose solutions include: no religious freedom for Muslims, banning the Quran, taxing Muslim women who wear the Hijab, deporting Muslim citizens etc.

One must ask Daniel Pipes, does he agree with such a program? Some of his colleagues and friends such as Robert Spencer have already given their backing to Wilders, where does Pipes stand? Does he stand for Democracy, equal rights, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion or is he a hypocrite cloaking himself as a champion of Western civilization when in reality with every word he undermines it?