Read an Excerpt
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusaders)
By Robert Spencer
Regnery Publishing, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Robert Spencer
All right reserved.
Chapter OneISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY: EQUIVALENT TRADITIONS?
* Most modern-day presentations of the Crusades are politically motivated, ahistorical nonsense.
* The problem the world faces today is not generalized "religious fundamentalism"-it is Islamic jihad.
* We will not be able to resist jihad without recovering pride in Western civilization.
"It's not like a stupid Hollywood movie," said French actress Eva Green about English director Sir Ridley Scott's Crusades flick, Kingdom of Heaven.
That's true. It's, like, a stupid English movie.
"Muslims," gushed the New York Times after an advance showing of the new blockbuster, "are portrayed as bent on coexistence until Christian extremists ruin everything. And even when the Christians are defeated, the Muslims give them safe conduct to return to Europe." Sir Ridley, according to the Times, "said he hoped to demonstrate that Christians, Muslims and Jews could live together in harmony-if only fanaticism were kept at bay." Or, as Green put it, the movie is intended to move people "to be more tolerant, more open towards the Arab people."
By now it should be clear: The idea that Muslims were "bent on coexistence" with non-Muslims until the Crusaders arrived is historically inaccurate-unless by "coexistence" Ridley Scott means the coexistence of oppressor and oppressed that was the dhimma. Both he and Eva Green make the PC motivations behind this movie clear: to show that what interferes with peaceful coexistence between Muslims and non-Muslims is "fanaticism," not any element in a religious tradition. The film is also intended to make us intolerant racist Westerners nicer to Arabs.
But the movie is just one part of a much larger campaign to convince Westerners that Islamic civilization is equal or superior to Western civilization.
The whitewash of Kingdom of Heaven
Kingdom of Heaven is a classic cowboys-and-Indians story in which the Muslims are noble and heroic and the Christians are venal and violent. The script is heavy on modern-day PC cliches and fantasies of Islamic tolerance; brushing aside dhimmi laws and attitudes (of which Ridley Scott has most likely never heard), it invents a peace-and-tolerance group called the "Brotherhood of Muslims, Jews and Christians." But of course, the Christians spoiled everything. A publicist for the film explained, "They were working together. It was a strong bond until the Knights Templar caused friction between them." Ah yes, those nasty "Christian extremists."
Kingdom of Heaven was made for those who believe that all the trouble between the Islamic world and the West has been caused by Western imperialism, racism, and colonialism, and that the glorious paradigm of Islamic tolerance, which was once a beacon to the world, could be reestablished if only the wicked white men of America and Europe would be more tolerant. Ridley Scott and his team arranged advance screenings for groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, making sure that sensitive Muslim feelings were not hurt. It is a dream movie for the PC establishment in every way except one: It isn't true.
Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith, author of A Short History of the Crusades and one of the world's leading historians of the period, called the movie "rubbish," explaining that "it's not historically accurate at all" as it "depicts the Muslims as sophisticated and civilised, and the Crusaders are all brutes and barbarians. It has nothing to do with reality." Oh, and "there was never a confraternity of Muslims, Jews and Christians. That is utter nonsense."
Professor Jonathan Philips, author of The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople, also dismissed the idea of the film as a true depiction of history and took issue with its portrayal of the Crusader Knights Templar as villains: "The Templars as 'baddies' is only sustainable from the Muslim perspective, and 'baddies' is the wrong way to show it anyway. They are the biggest threat to the Muslims and many end up being killed because their sworn vocation is to defend the Holy Land." Saladin is, according to a film publicist, a "hero of the piece." No mention, of course, is made of his massacres at Hattin, or his plans for more of the same in Jerusalem.
Yet despite Kingdom of Heaven's numerous whitewashes of history and strenuous efforts to portray the Muslims of the Crusader era in a favorable light, Islamic apologist Khaled Abou El Fadl, a professor of Islamic law at the University of California, is in a froth about the film: "In my view," he raged, "it is inevitable-I'm willing to risk my reputation on this-that after this movie is released there will be hate crimes committed directly because of it. People will go see it on a weekend and decide to teach some turbanhead a lesson." Of course, this is less an indictment of the film than of the American people.
In any event, Kingdom of Heaven cost over $150 million to make, features an all-star cast, and is being touted as "a fascinating history lesson." Fascinating, maybe-but only as evidence of the lengths to which modern Westerners are willing to go to delude themselves.
PC Myth: The problem the world faces today is religious fundamentalism
Is every religious tradition equally capable of giving rise to violence? This notion, widespread as it is, would have a lot more credibility if Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell were writing articles defending the stoning of adulterers (as did the Switzerland-based Muslim writer Hani Ramadan, who published an article in the French journal Le Monde in September 2002 doing just that), or calling for the killing of blasphemers (blasphemy is a capital offense in Pakistan and elsewhere in the Islamic world), or flying planes into the iconic buildings of those they considered enemies.
That evangelical Christians do not commit these acts is one clear indication that not all "fundamentalisms" are equivalent. Contrary to the deconstructionist views that prevail on college campuses today, religions are not simply raw material that can be fashioned into absolutely anything by believers. There is considerable overlap in the behavior of religious people in all traditions. For example, they pray, meet together, and perform certain rituals. Sometimes they even commit violence in the name of their religion. But the frequency and commonality of such acts of violence-and how close they are to each religion's mainstream-is determined to a great degree by the actual teachings of each religion. Islamic apologists like to point to Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph as examples of Christian terrorists, but there are three reasons why McVeigh and Rudolph are not equivalent to bin Laden and Zarqawi:
* They did not even attempt to justify their actions by reference to Christian Scripture or tradition. * They were not acting on mainstream Christian teachings. * There are not large Christian groups around the world dedicated to implementing the same teachings.
The difference between Osama bin Laden and Eric Rudolph is the difference between aberrant acts and aberrant teachings. Any human being with a belief system can do abominable things. But abominable acts are more likely to come in greater numbers and frequency when they are encouraged and perpetuated by religious texts and those who teach from them.
But surely you're not saying that Islam is the problem?
What is the alternative to the Ridley Scott view that "fanaticism" is causing all our troubles today? It's a view that PC types just can't understand: The problem is within Islam and will not go away, or be neutralized, until this fact is recognized.
To say that the problem is within Islam is not to say that every Muslim is the problem. As we have seen, many who identify themselves as Muslims have only a glancing acquaintance with and interest in what Islam teaches. No, to admit that global jihadist violence indicates a problem with Islam is simply to be honest: There are groups around the world that believe that it is their responsibility before God to wage war against non-Muslims and impose Islamic law, first on Muslim states and then on non-Muslim states. This is a core motivation behind terrorist violence today, and it is rooted in the teachings of the Qur'an and Sunna (Islamic tradition).
Some analysts fear that if Western authorities begin to acknowledge that America's foe in the War on Terror is not a bunch of hijackers of Islam, but people who are working from core Islamic teachings, we will soon be embroiled in a war with the entire Islamic world. This will certainly make it harder to perpetuate the sham alliances that now exist with the Saudis, the Pakistanis, and the Egyptians. But it would also allow the United States to call those putative allies to account for their allegiance to the global jihad and to give real substance to President George W. Bush's post-September 11 announcement to the world that "you're either with the terrorists or with us."
Others have shied away from admitting the deep crisis in Islam today on the pretext that it will demoralize and anger moderate Muslims. If they are genuine moderates, there is no reason why this should occur. No problem can be solved unless its source is identified. A doctor who treats persistent headaches caused by brain tumors with aspirin will not escape malpractice suits for long. If any moderate Islam project is to succeed, it will only do so by identifying the elements in Islam that give rise to violence and terrorism, and working in whatever way possible to change Muslims' understanding of those elements so that jihadist recruiters can no longer convince young men to join them by appealing to their desire to live out "pure Islam." Whether moderate Muslims can actually succeed in changing millions of Muslims' understanding of Islam is an open question. But it has no chance whatsoever of happening unless they acknowledge why Islam creates people like bin Laden and Zarqawi.
That makes sense. Why is it so hard for people to accept?
Part of the reason why the PC establishment finds this so hard to accept is because, in their simplistic and reductionist view of the world, Westerners are "white" and Muslims are "brown." The brown peoples of the world, goes the PC myth, cannot be guilty of wrongdoing; they are forever the wronged and eternal victims. Any violence they commit is a reaction to the egregious provocations of the white man.
The most outrageous example of this may be radical lawyer Lynne Stewart, who was convicted in February 2005 of smuggling messages for the jailed Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Why did Stewart become an errand girl for bloodthirsty jihad terrorists? She explained, "To rid ourselves of the entrenched, voracious type of capitalism that is in this country that perpetuates sexism and racism, I don't think that can come nonviolently." How did Stewart get the idea that Omar Abdel Rahman, a traditionalist Muslim who no doubt believes that women exist to serve men and that disobedient ones should be beaten (as per Qur'an 4:34), was a champion of the fight against sexism and racism? Well, he's fighting the "white man," isn't he?
Recovering pride in Western civilization
"Look, Dr. Yeagley, I don't see anything about my culture to be proud of. It's all nothing. My race is just nothing.... Look at your culture. Look at American Indian tradition. Now I think that's really great. You have something to be proud of. My culture is nothing."
A white American student, "Rachel," spoke these words to American Indian professor Dr. David Yeagley in 2001.
Clearly Rachel had imbibed deeply of the mindset Jesse Jackson memorably articulated in 1985: "Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Western Civ has got to go!" And it is virtually certain that she considers the Crusaders to have been the ultimate Dead White Males, and the Crusades to be an inexcusable exercise in Western imperialism, racism, and probably genocide. If she attended a school with "Crusaders" as its mascot, she would have been among the first to want it changed. The way the Crusades are presented in most schools these days, that's perfectly understandable. But most of what the average student today knows about the Crusades, and other topics like them, is false. Those who teach such falsehoods have a vested interest in creating Americans who speak like Rachel. She believes all these falsehoods due to decades of anti-American, anti-Western, and anti-Christian conditioning in our schools and universities.
Why the truth must be told
This is why the truth must be told about the Crusades and other elements of the historical interaction between Christianity and Islam. Americans and Europeans-as well as Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere-need to stop apologizing for past sins and recall past heroism, and recognize what Judeo-Christian civilization has brought to the world. We must look honestly at Islam and Christianity and recognize how they differ. PC censors must no longer be allowed to make it taboo to note that although human nature is everywhere the same, and people have justified violence in the name of every faith, religions are not the same.
Christianity is at the heart of Western civilization. It has formed who we are as Americans, and influenced Europeans and others around the globe for even longer. Like it or not, it has even formed those who reject the Christian faith. Christianity also shares key moral principles with Judaism-principles that pervade the West but do not universally carry over into Islam. These principles are the fountain from which modern ethicists have drawn the concept of universal human rights-the foundation of Western secular culture.
Yeagley observes, "The Cheyenne people have a saying: A nation is never conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground.... When Rachel denounced her people, she did it with the serene self-confidence of a High Priestess reciting a liturgy. She said it without fear of criticism or censure. And she received none. The other students listened in silence, their eyes moving timidly back and forth between me and Rachel, as if unsure which of us constituted a higher authority.... Who had conquered Rachel's people? What had led her to disrespect them? Why did she behave like a woman of a defeated tribe?"
Why indeed? The ultimate end result, as Yeagley points out, is defeat: People who are ashamed of their own culture will not defend it.
That's why telling the truth about the Crusades, Christianity, and the West is not a matter of cultural cheerleading or religious apologetics. It's an essential element of the defense of the West against today's global jihad.
Bertrand Russell on Islam:
"Bolshevism combines the characteristics of the French Revolution with those of the rise of Islam. Marx has taught that Communism is fatally predestined to come about; this produces a state of mind not unlike that of the early successors of Mahommet. Among religions, Bolshevism is to be reckoned with Mohammedanism rather than with Christianity and Buddhism. Christianity and Buddhism are primarily personal religions, with mystical doctrines and a love of contemplation. Mohammedanism and Bolshevism are practical, social, unspiritual, concerned to win the empire of this world."
Muhammad vs. Jesus
"And when those who were about him saw what would follow, they said, 'Lord, shall we strike with the sword?' And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, 'No more of this!' And he touched his ear and healed him."
Jesus (Luke 22:49-51)
"Narrated Abu Qilaba: Anas said, 'Some people of 'Ukl or 'Uraina tribe came to Medina and its climate did not suit them. After they became healthy, they killed the shepherd of the Prophet and drove away all the camels. The news reached the Prophet early in the morning and he sent (men) in their pursuit and they were captured and brought at noon. He then ordered to cut their hands and feet (and it was done), and their eyes were branded with heated pieces of iron. They were put in Al-Harra and when they asked for water, no water was given to them.' Abu Qilaba added, 'Those people committed theft, murder, became infidels after embracing Islam and fought against Allah and His Messenger.'"
A Book You're Not Supposed to Read
How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.; Washington, DC: Regnery, 2005. Here is a book that everyone in the Western world-non-Catholic as well as Catholic-should read. It vividly illustrates how many features of Western life and thought originated in the Catholic Church, and puts to rest the PC notion that all religious traditions are morally equivalent.
Excerpted from The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusaders) by Robert Spencer Copyright © 2005 by Robert Spencer. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.