There is a new form of jihad to fear—one that threatens the very values on which our freedom rests
Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept sounded the alarm about the dire impact of Muslim immigration in Europe. Now, in Surrender, he reveals that a combination of fear and political correctness has led politicians, intellectuals, religious leaders, and the media—both in the United States and abroad—to appease radical Islam at the cost of our most cherished values: freedom of speech and freedom of the press. And the cost could ultimately be even higher—the imposition of sharia law in places where liberty once reigned.
In Surrender, Bawer writes of a new form of jihad that began with the fatwa against Salman Rushdie in 1989, a death sentence born of Muslim outrage over a work of literature. It marked the dawn of an era of pressure and intimidation designed to crush the ability of non-Muslims to resist Islamic encroachments on Western freedom. In a sweeping survey of recent history and current events, Bawer traces a pattern of heightened sensitivity to Muslim reactions and a reluctance to look honestly at the human-rights deficiencies of the Muslim world. This pattern can be seen in the widespread denunciation of the Danish cartoons and of the editors who printed them; in the glowing media coverage of the supposedly moderate Muslim icon Tariq Ramadan; in the decision of major newspapers to ignore or soft-pedal terrorist “dry runs” on American airplanes; in the international uproar over a single sentence about Islam in a lecture by Pope Benedict; and in attempts by certain parties to silence criticism of Islam by suing writers who have dared to speak forthrightly about the religion.
Bawer argues that people throughout the Western world—in reaction to such events as the Danish cartoon riots and the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh—are surrendering to fear. And he observes that Muslim extremists have found unexpected allies: non-Muslims who, motivated by the misguided doctrine of multiculturalism, refuse to criticize even the most illiberal aspects of Islamic culture. The resulting accommodation undermines the values of individual liberty and equality on which our nation was founded.
Fearless and excoriating, Surrender is an essential wake-up call for everyone concerned about the preservation of our most fundamental freedoms.
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Bruce Bawer is one of our leading cultural critics. Described by Kirkus Reviews as “a literary essayist for the ages,” he has published several volumes of criticism, including Diminishing Fictions, The Aspect of Eternity, and Prophets and Professors, as well as one of the most influential books ever written about homosexuality, A Place at the Table, and Stealing Jesus, which Publishers Weekly called “a must-read book for anyone concerned with the relationship of Christianity to contemporary American culture.” His most recent book, While Europe Slept, was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
"Send him to hell"
We in the West are living in the midst of a jihad, and most of us don't even realize it--because it's a brand of jihad that's barely a generation old.
Islam divides the world into two parts. The part governed by sharia, or Islamic law, is called the Dar al-Islam, or House of Submission. Everything else is the Dar al-Harb, or House of War. It's called the House of War because it, too, according to the Koran, is destined to be governed by sharia, and it will take war--holy war, jihad--to bring it into the House of Submission.
Jihad began with Muhammed himself. When he was born, the lands that today make up the Arab world were populated mostly by Christians and Jews; within a century after his death, those areas' inhabitants had been killed, driven away, subjugated to Islam as members of the underclass known as dhimmis, or converted to the Religion of Peace at the point of a sword. The Crusades of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were not wars of conquest by Europeans but attempts to take back what had once been Christian territory. America's very first foreign conflict after the Revolutionary War was with the Barbary pirates, who, sponsored by the Muslim governments of North Africa--just as terrorist groups today enjoy the sponsorship of countries like Libya, Iran, and Syria--had for generations been preying on European ships and selling their crews and passengers into slavery. (Between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, over one million Europeans--including people like Cervantes, Saint Vincent de Paul, and French playwright Jean Francois Regnard--became chattel in North Africa, a minor detail that rarely makes it into Western history textbooks, perhaps because it would compel textbook writers to accord jihad a major role in their narratives of Western history.)
In 1786, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, then the U.S. ambassadors to Britain and France respectively, met in London with the Tripolitanian envoy to Britain and asked him why his pirates were preying on American ships; he explained, as Adams and Jefferson reported afterward to the Continental Congress, that the pirates' actions were "founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise."
In their own eyes, in short, as well as in the eyes of the Muslim governments of the day, the Barbary pirates were engaged not in criminality but in jihad (or, more specifically, al-jihad fil-bahr, "the holy war at sea"). For a time the young United States of America joined European governments in shelling out "tribute" to the pirates--that is, paying them off--to keep them from plundering ships and enslaving sailors. But once America had built up seagoing forces that were up to the job, it sent in the Navy and Marines to put an end to this brigandage in what became known as the First and Second Barbary Wars (1801-05, 1815)--thus the line in the Marine Corps hymn about "the shores of Tripoli." (These wars, too, fail to merit a mention in many American history textbooks.)
After their defeat in the Barbary Wars, the pirates left U.S. vessels alone. But the spirit of jihad, like a hardy virus, survived--quiescent, yet lethal--only to manifest itself, in later generations, in different forms. Today, piracy; tomorrow, terrorism.
In the late 1980s, a brand-new mutation of the virus appeared. The news came, most famously, in the form of an announcement made on Valentine's Day 1989 by the Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ruhollah Khomeini. Khomeini, who in 1979 had succeeded the overthrown Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi as Iran's supreme leader (thereby earning a nod as Time's Man of the Year) and promptly subjected that country to sharia, was a mufti--an Islamic scholar who is qualified under sharia law to issue a fatwa, an authoritative opinion that settles a question of faith. In this case the question was whether the British-Indian novelist Salman Rushdie should be killed for having insulted Islam in his recently published novel The Satanic Verses. Khomeini's answer? Iranians heard it over the radio: "I inform the proud Muslim people of the world that the author of The Satanic Verses book, which is against Islam, the Prophet and the Koran, and all those involved in its publication who are aware of its content are sentenced to death. I ask all the Muslims to execute them wherever they find them." Days later, Iran officially put a bounty on Rushdie's head. The author went into hiding. He has been guarded day and night by British police ever since.
Nothing quite like this, it's safe to say, had ever happened before.
Khomeini's fatwa reflected the recognition that jihad's proper targets don't just include Western vessels and buildings. They also, and more fundamentally, include Western freedoms--above all, the foundational freedom: freedom of speech. What has emerged from this recognition is a new phase of jihad whose advantages include not requiring jihadists to engage in combat to the death but only in such low-risk activities as the writing of letters of complaint to government officials, participating in "intercultural dialogue," and the occasional rally, march, riot, flag-burning, or act of embassy vandalism. Not only do the participants in this modern brand of jihad take virtually no chances (there is little likelihood of arrest and even less of conviction), but they also enjoy the assistance of non-Muslims who, when not supporting these New Age jihadists out of a misguided sense of sympathy or outright fear, are motivated by ideology--namely, the pernicious doctrine of multiculturalism, which teaches free people to belittle their own liberties while bending their knees to tyrants, and which, as we shall see, has proven to be so useful to the new brand of cultural jihadists that it might have been invented by Osama bin Laden himself.
In Khomeini's singling out of Rushdie, there was no little amount of irony. A son of Muslims, Rushdie was born in Bombay (now Mumbai) and educated at Cambridge. More to the point, though he resided in Britain and lived essentially as an Englishman, he was no knee-jerk critic of Islam or defender of the West. Far from it: at the time of Khomeini's fatwa, Rushdie's politics could be fairly described as more or less standard-issue British literary intellectual leftism. "It was ironic," the Islam expert Martin Kramer has noted, "that Rushdie, a postcolonial literary icon of impeccable left-wing credentials, should have been made by some Muslims into the very personification of orientalist hostility to Islam." Indeed, Rushdie had opposed the Shah and supported the Islamist revolution that brought Khomeini to power. Anyone familiar with his books at the time of the fatwa would have said that he harbored considerably less animosity toward Islam, radical or otherwise, than toward America and Britain, which he tended to identify not so much with freedom and human rights as with colonialism and imperialism. He was particularly hostile to Britain's then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher--upon whose government's protection, after the fatwa, his well-being entirely depended. (Rushdie's positions on Western values and Islamic revolution, to be sure, would shift somewhat as a result of his post-fatwa experiences.)
The Satanic Verses was Rushdie's fourth novel. Its title was taken from the commonly used name for certain passages that had supposedly been inserted into the Koran at an early date and later declared inauthentic and removed. Long, muddled, often surrealistic, and consistently overheated, the novel (which, like most of Rushdie's fiction, I personally find all but unreadable) was meant to be understood as a reflection on the experience of South Asian immigrants in the West. As Michiko Kakutani wrote in her New York Times review, it "deals only incidentally with Islam." Yet Khomeini and others managed to convince the Muslim world otherwise.
Khomeini was the most powerful person to charge Rushdie with blasphemy, but he wasn't the first. Three months before the fatwa, in October 1988, the New York Times ran an article about India's ban on The Satanic Verses, and published an open letter from Rushdie to that country's prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, charging that the prohibition was meant to mollify "two or three Muslim politicians" who hadn't even read the book. Yet Khomeini's fatwa was the decisive act, persuading Muslims worldwide that killing Salman Rushdie would be a holy act of jihad. The Union of Islamic Students' Associations in Europe, for example, declared its solidarity with the ayatollah. Mellow-voiced pop singer Cat Stevens, who had converted to Islam and changed his name to Yusuf Islam, said that if Rushdie turned up at his door, he'd call Khomeini personally "and tell him exactly where this man is." British Muslim leader Iqbal Sacranie, who would later be awarded a knighthood, said of Rushdie: "Death, perhaps, is a bit too easy for him . . . his mind must be tormented for the rest of his life unless he asks for forgiveness to [sic] Almighty Allah." On May 27, 1989, Rushdie was burned in effigy at a gathering of at least fifteen thousand Muslims in London.
The Satanic Verses was banned in India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sudan, South Africa, Kenya, Thailand, Tanzania, Singapore, and even Venezuela, but not in any North American or European countries. There were those in the West, however--some of them in positions of enormous influence--who would doubtless have forbidden its sale if they had the power to do so. When asked about the fatwa, for example, former president Jimmy Carter didn't call for greater Muslim sensitivity to other people's ...
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