The Myth of the “Moderate” Muslim

May 20th, 2010

By Brianna Aubin

Islam - The Religion of PeaceI recently exchanged some correspondence with a Columbia classical liberal named Andrew Mellon (pseudonym).  The subject was Islamic extremism.  I had made a comment on one of his blog posts saying that I believed the majority of Muslims just wanted to go about their daily lives, just like the majority of most humans anywhere, and that while taking our troops out of the Middle East might not solve the problem, it would almost certainly at least reduce the frequency of terrorist attacks and decrease potential terrorists’ motivations to commit those acts.  In return, he wrote back (in a private email):

Are all Muslims terrorists?  Of course not.  But my argument would be, for the large percentage who will not carry out violent acts, what percentage support CAIR and Muslim Student Associations (proxies for the Muslim brotherhood) and other institutions that support the practice of taqiyya and also more violent means of Islam coercion, what percentage donate to mosques with imams that preach violent jihad, what percentage support Sharia law but its implementation through democratic means, what percentage are against assimilation into non-Muslim countries, what percentage want to live side by side in peace with Jews and Christians, and what percentage who are against the tyranny of Islam are willing to stand out and speak up against the religion?  All of the apostates for example have fatwas on their heads because the religion commands it.

Well, Mellon was right after all.  Mosab Yousef, the son of a high-ranking member of the Palestinian group Hamas who turned spy for the Israeli Shin Bet, called Islam a ladder in his book Son of Hamas:

Islamic life is like a ladder, with prayer and praising Allah as the bottom rung.  The higher rungs represent helping the poor and needy, establishing schools, and supporting charities.  The highest rung is jihad….  Traditional Muslims stand at the foot of the ladder, living in guilt for not really practicing Islam.  At the top are fundamentalists, the ones you see in the news killing women and children for the glory of the god of the Qur’an.  Moderates are somewhere in between.  A moderate Muslim is actually more dangerous than a fundamentalist, however, because he appears to be harmless, and you can never tell when he has taken that next step toward the top.  Most suicide bombers begin as moderates.

Later on he describes his father as an example of such a torn moderate:

…my father lived his life as an example of what a Muslim should be.  He reflected the beautiful side of Islam, not the cruel side that required its followers to conquer and enslave the Earth.  However, over the ten-year period that followed my imprisonment, I would watch him struggle with an inner, irrational conflict.  On the one hand, he didn’t see those Muslims who killed settlers and soldiers and innocent women and children as wrong.  He believed that Allah gave them the authority to do that.  On the other hand, he personally could not do what they did.  Something in his soul rejected it.  What he could not justify as right for himself, he rationalized as right for others.

As for the Muslims in the United States, here is your “moderate” American Muslim:

MSA member: Good evening, I just wanted to say thank you for coming to campus tonight and presenting your point of view, its always important to have two sets of, ah, views going on at the same time. Um, very useful.  My name is Jumanah Imad Albahri and I’m a student here at UCSD. Ah I was reading your literature, I found that much more interesting than your talk, and I found some interesting things about the MSA, which is an organization that is very active on campus and is hosting our annual “Hitler Youth” week, you should come out to those events. Um, if you could clarify the connection between the MSA and Jihad terrorist networks, because last time I checked, we had to do our own fundraising, and we never get help from anyone.  So if you could clarify the connection between UCSD’s MSA or if you don’t have such information, if you could connect other MSA’s on UC’s, because the connection wasn’t to clear in the pamphlet, just if you could clarify.

Horowitz: Okay.  Will you condemn Hamas, here and now?

MSA member: I’m sorry, what?

Horowitz: Will you condemn Hamas?

MSA member: Would I condemn Hamas?

Horowitz: As a terrorist organization.  Genocidal organization.

MSA member: Are you asking me to put myself on a cross?

Horowitz: So you won’t.  I have actually had this experience many times.  You didn’t actually read the pamphlet, because the pamphlet is chapter and verse. The main connection is that the MSA is part of the Muslim Brotherhood Network as revealed…

MSA member: I don’t think you understood what I meant by that.  I meant if I say something, I am sure that I will be arrested, for reasons of homeland security.  So if you could please just answer my question.

Horowitz: If you condemn Hamas, Homeland Security will arrest you?

MSA member: If I support Hamas, because your question forces me to condemn Hamas.  If I support Hamas, I look really bad.

Horowitz: If you don’t condemn Hamas, obviously you support it.  Case closed.  I have had this experience at UC Santa Barbara, where there were 50 members of the Muslim Students Association sitting right in the rows there.  And throughout my hour talk I kept asking them, will you condemn Hizbollah and Hamas. And none of them would.  And then when the question period came, the president of the Muslim Students Association was the first person to ask a question. And I said, ‘Before you start, will you condemn Hizbollah?’ And he said, ‘Well, that question is too complicated for a yes or no answer.’  So I said, ‘Okay, I’ll put it to you this way.  I am a Jew.  The head of Hizbollah has said that he hopes that we will gather in Israel so he doesn’t have to hunt us down globally.  For or Against it?

MSA member: For it.

Horowitz: Thank you for coming and showing everybody what’s here.

The clip is on YouTube.  The scariest part of it is the tone of her voice when she says that she is for the idea of having Jews gather in Israel to make it easier to exterminate them.  She comes off as quite reasonable and intellectual — until that last sentence, when the tone of her voice makes it quite clear that her conviction in her genocidal beliefs is absolute.

Of course, this is not the only example of overt racism in the form of anti-Semitism that can be seen today, both on the modern Left and among supposedly moderate Muslims.  Evidence for this assertion abounds, for those with the eyes to see:

I had assumed that most people, given a choice, would just want to go on with their lives because it is insane to seek death for any other reason than to defend that which makes life possible.  What I forgot was that the ideals which give rise to totalitarianism are not the ideals of life.  Only those people who believe in freedom would choose (assuming they are given a choice) to go on with their lives and live in peace with their neighbor.  People who believe in totalitarianism, whether Nazi or Islamic, do not just want to get on with their lives.  Their ideology will not permit it, because a free and peaceful life is not the goal of their ideology.  Just as the Nazis diverted vital wartime resources to exterminating the Jews even as they were losing the war, so the Islamists will divert their very lives to fighting freedom in the name of their ideology despite the fact that there are absolutely no winners in such a game, least of all themselves.  And the Left will never acknowledge the truth of what is going on, because the only alternative to believing that they are doing it out of a sense of righteous injustice is to believe that it is either a bizarre homicidal cult, an unjustified act of aggression, or both, just as the Nazis’ irrational wartime behavior was both.

In Reflections on the Revolution In Europe Christopher Caldwell made the observation that Muslims have gotten as far as they have in part by playing on European guilt after the Holocaust and explaining the new rise in anti-semitism there with the sentiment that, “If the Muslims were the new Jews … then the Jews were the new Nazis.”  But I never expected to hear anyone say it literally.

The ironic thing is that by Malik Ali’s logic (see link above) of saying that the Jews would never sit down with the Nazis and try to negotiate with them, the Jews in Israel should just say, “screw it,” with regards to negotiating some sort of peace settlement and wipe the Arabs — the people who, as far as I can tell, really are trying to emulate the Nazis — off the map and be done with it.  After all, by Malik Ali’s own words, why should Israel just “sit down and have tea and crumpets” with the Arabs when all the indicators are that the Arabs would be quite happy to wipe Israel off the map?  For that matter, why should Americans?  If Malik Ali’s sentiment is one that we should take to heart, why not just send in our military and crush the Middle East right now?  If there is no such thing as a “civilian” Jew as far as Arabs are concerned, why should we act as though there is such a thing as a “moderate” Muslim — especially when large piles of evidence can be found to the contrary?

“Moderate” Muslims should ask themselves what would happen to them if the West ever came to the conclusion that there’s no such thing as a “moderate” Muslim.  And if it’s true that terrorists are anomalies who subscribe to a radicalized, non-mainstream form of Islam, then those moderates should start speaking up against those who are supposedly perverting their faith — preferably while the modern West is still around to protect them from potential reprisals from their own supposedly “moderate” compatriots.

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6 Responses to “The Myth of the “Moderate” Muslim”

  1. Crethi Plethi |

    You’re making a very important point here at the end of your article.

    The so-called “Moderate” Muslims can show their moderacy (and honest beliefs) by speaking up against radical Islam and Islamism (political Islam), by starting discussing Muhammad’s sayings and Quran, and it’s fatwas, honor killings, jew-hatred, Islamic terrorism, taqiyya, women’s rights, child abuse, islamic slavery, dhimmitude, Islamic dictatorships in the Middle East, condemning terrorist groups and their ideology as Hamas, Hizballah, Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, etcetera and to start a process of reform in Islam as religion, but also in Islamic countries as well.

    But they don’t… apart from a “good willing” minority, who are mostly apostates themselves having a fatwa hanging around their necks.

    In fact, if a muslim kills a jew (or a non-muslim), they mostly don’t care. Because, Muhammad the prophet said himself that the Jews (and non-muslims) are enemies of Islam.

    So, let’s face it: the source of Islam is radical, violent, militant, oppressive, intolerant, murderous, and humiliating to women, non-muslims and minorities. Every Muslim who lives literally to what Islam says (Quran, hadith, sura) and follows in the footsteps of Muhammad the Prophet is (or will become) a radical Muslim, or at least a Muslim with radical ideas. And that is not moderate.

    In the eyes of a radical Islamist… a moderate muslim is an apostate himself and needs to repent and turn back to Allah or face death as an enemy of Islam. Try and live as a moderate (and modern) Muslim in Hamas’ Gaza Strip, Ahmadinejad’s Iran, Taliban’s Afghanistan, Al-Bashir’s Sudan, Indonesian Atjeh, King Abdullah’s Saudi Arabia, Assad’s Syria and Nasrallah’s Hizballah movement in Lebanon for example. That’s the reality we (you) live in.

  2. d |

    Remember,it’s draw Mohammed day. Wish I could draw in a public forum.Lighten up,Muslims. I do not believe all Muslims believe in this,but are afraid to speak out. Theirs is not a public society and their fear of retribution,is overwhelming their opinions. Their lives are private and they do not speak out against outrageous behavior by extremists. They are,however very charitable and take care of their parents,unlike us, whose parents are mostly in nursing homes,or dead.

  3. Tom Carter |

    I read the linked articles and watched the videos. Depressing stuff, really. Sooner or later, we’re going to have to face up to the fact that Islam is a threat to all of us — meaning everyone who is part of Western culture and everyone who agrees with our values. Already some countries in Europe are seeing their societies begin to disintegrate and their cultures under relentless attack. This is a result of the influx of Muslims into their countries, either as guest workers or as legal or illegal immigrants.

    It’s true that the vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists and are not personally violent. However, they live in a religious culture that spawns violent terrorists, and a very large number of them actively or passively support the goals of islamic terrorism. The great majority are strongly anti-Semitic, share the goal of the destruction of Israel and the expulsion or killing of Jews, support primitive Sharia law, agree with the idea that women are lesser members of society, and share a broad lack of tolerance for other forms of belief and the principles of human rights. As a matter of preservation and self-defense — not prejudice or racism — advanced cultures must resist the presence of the primitive culture of Islam. But that won’t happen, of course, and as we watch the disintegration of other Western societies and the growing presence of Islam in the U.S., we will never be able to say that we didn’t see it coming.

  4. Ibrahim Syed |

    “Horowitz: If you don’t condemn Hamas, obviously you support it. Case closed.”

    Very simplistic and dishonest argument. I don’t support Hamas. But I don’t condemn it either. Why? Because I know Hamas wouldn’t exist if the persecution of the Palestinians by the Israelis for the last 6 decades didn’t exist. Hamas is Newton’s Third Law – a reaction to Israel’s long history of actions.

    And what evidence is there that justifies saying the MSAs are associated with the Muslim Brotherhood? In college I knew students who were members of the MSA. The MSA was nothing but the campus Muslim club. I was about organizing prayers and other religious meets and events, not supporting any political agendas, much less terrorism.

  5. Brianna |

    “I don’t support Hamas. But I don’t condemn it either.”

    That’s like my saying, “I don’t support this man’s criminal acts, but I won’t throw him in jail either.” If you don’t put the criminals in jail when you see them, by default you have left them free to commit more crimes. If you do not condemn Hamas, by default you have granted them a certain degree of moral legitimacy and influence on the world stage. If you say that they do not have to drop their position that the state of Israel is illegitimate and that all Jews should be driven into the sea before you will deal with them, then you have implicitly condoned that position and Hamas’s moral right to make that demand. I’m sorry if you don’t understand that, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

    “Hamas wouldn’t exist if the persecution of the Palestinians by the Israelis for the last 6 decades didn’t exist.”

    You mean back in the 1920s when the Arabs started attacking the Jews and the Jewish settlements, well before there was an Israeli state? You mean back during WWII, when the Muslim world was a willing participant in Hitler’s final solution? You mean when the Israelis were willing to accept a 2-state solution, back in the days of the War of Independence, but the Palestinians were not? This could all have ended in 1947 before it even began, but it didn’t because the problem goes deeper than the evil Israeli actions against the hapless Palestinians, it goes deeper than the creation of the Jewish state, and to say otherwise is to display an appalling ignorance of history. A history directly connected to yourself, no less, if your name is anything to judge you by.

    “And what evidence is there that justifies saying the MSAs are associated with the Muslim Brotherhood?”

    MSA was founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. This does not mean that all of the MSA’s money comes from the Brotherhood, or that all members of the MSA are also members of the Brotherhood. But it does mean that they have legitimate, demostrable ties to each other, even if they are only ties of ideology.

    Islam is a system of what I think of as “franchise totalitarianism.” It is not a rigid hierarchy, but rather a group of loosely connected organizations funded largely by Saudi oil money, with the more respectable organizations such as the MSA serving as a front for the advancement of the ideology through peaceful means even as organizations like the MB seek to advance things through more violent means. I am sure there are many honest and decent people in the MSA, just as there were undoubtedly many honest and decent people in the socialist and communist groups that existed during the cold war. That doesn’t mean the groups aren’t connected and it doesn’t mean that the more honest and decent members’ main job is to serve as an unwitting front for the more extremist ones.

  6. Tom Carter |

    You’ve got it exactly right, Brianna. Thanks for a great comment; I wish I’d written it myself.

    There are some issues that one logically can’t be moderate on. Support for the existence of the state of Israel is one of them; unequivocal condemnation of islamist terrorism is another. Both are absolutes of right and wrong, good and evil.

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