Tags: Muslim | Guilt | Association

Muslim Guilt by Association

Monday, 20 November 2000 12:00 AM

The column by Lawrence Auster seems to suggest that there are no really moderate Muslims and that, down deep, all Muslims are little more than potential terrorists poised to undermine the nation.

That this appeared on Election Day was ironic, as I was preparing to wander out the door, coffee in hand to carry out my democratic duty and vote. In my case, as for most Muslims that I know, this vote would be for conservative values and the candidates who can best embody them.

Mr. Auster’s article was designed to throw a net of suspicion over the entire Muslim population of the U.S. and was meant, in tone as well as in content, to be a wake up call to some sort of fifth column growing in our midst.

Mr. Auster is certainly entitled to his opinion but, as expressed, it goes beyond the bounds of fairness and wrongs the majority of Muslims in this country. It needs a contrapuntal response.

First, let us look at his source of information and those figures that he has chosen to represent American Muslims. Steven Emerson, who wrote the documentary "Jihad in America,” seems to be the major source of Mr. Auster’s information. Emerson went way over the top in his xenophobic little film, but in the more accountable milieu of testimony before a Senate subcommittee, his statements are considerably more reserved and are sharply at odds with Auster’s thesis that Islamic moderates are, basically, closet terrorists who support groups like Hamas.

Emerson stated in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Feb. 24,1998:

"In any discussion of the threat of radical Islamic fundamentalists, it is imperative to point out that militant Islamic extremism is not synonymous with mainstream Islam. Those who engage in extremism today are simply practicing their totalitarian interpretation of a religion. The vast majority of Muslims do not support in any way the actions of the extremists. …

"Extremists in Islam are no different than other religious extremists, whether it be a Jewish terrorist who shot the Israeli prime minister because he believed that he was commanded to do so by God …

"A religious extremist differs only in the religion he invokes to commit the crime.”

These nominally Muslim extremists take their rightful place among our homegrown crazies and their corresponding international brethren. Emerson mentions the Christian Identity Movement, the Aryan Nations and the neo-Nazis as examples before mentioning the Islamic ones.

As we can see, Mr. Auster was either not aware of the more grounded beliefs of his primary source or chose, for reasons of his own, to ignore them.

Guilt by association is a tricky business. The fact that moderates and extremists share the same religion or may even know the same people is no indication of sympathetic views. Can we construe that Mr. Auster is somehow in league with the apparent Nazi association Noontide Press, which promotes his books and tapes? Can we assume that they embody the sense of moderation that Mr. Auster urges us toward? Of course we can’t.

Has he spoken out against this venomous philosophy that Americans died by the thousand to oppose? Has he withheld his materials from them? By Mr. Auster’s rules and anecdotal reasoning, he is inextricably connected to this cause and to those who embrace it. We, having more intellectual honesty, cannot make such a leap. Even as a rhetorical stunt, it doesn’t feel right.

Mr. Auster’s further assertion that Muslims in this country don’t meaningfully speak out against the extremist evils is pure claptrap.

Had he actually researched a bit further into the depths of Steven Emerson he would have come across Emerson’s expressed admiration for Sheikh Hisham Kabbani, head of the Islamic Supreme Council, who spoke passionately and eloquently on the subject before the U.N. and the State Department. Those Muslim factions more worthy of Mr. Auster’s attentions went ballistic, but the words were said.

On April 19, 1999, Sheikh Kabbani was quoted at a U.N. conference in Switzerland condemning such wrongdoers: "such behavior is not Islamic and is not supported by the traditional teachings of Islamic scholars throughout the world.” He named numerous groups such as Hamas and Bin Laden, vehemently denied their validity and cautioned them to stop their activities.

I also wonder at Mr. Auster’s fascination with Alamoudi and his readiness to have him represent the views of all Muslims. Alamoudi does not represent Islam; he represents the Clintons and their agenda.

The AMC, which Mr. Auster seeks to vilify, represents only a portion of their membership and, ironically, gave their support to George W. Bush in the recent close election. Since the collapse of the Caliphate at the hands of secular Turkish authorities, no single person can speak for Islam, or proclaim anything like a jihad for that matter.

What religion can be trashed on the basis of the character of a Clinton appointee? Does Hormel speak for all Americans? Do Clinton's appointed judges? Do we trash Christianity or whatever because of Joycelyn Elders? Does Strobe Talbot speak for all of our views on national sovereignty?

A Clinton appointee, almost by definition, can be an iffy commodity. Perhaps this is Auster’s straw man designate. Auster then bases further criticism of Muslims on the basis of some ill-referenced statements made by supposedly moderate panelists on the Charlie Rose show. Auster really needs to upgrade his choices and not draw such rash and distorted conclusions.

If Mr. Auster wishes to level criticism at people doing evil under the guise of religion, I am in his camp. We must, however, do so precisely and fairly and not cluster bomb the subject. His technique of distilling bad behavior from a particular instance and using it to form universal judgements is a dishonest one. Try substituting Jew for Muslim and Kahane for Alamoudi throughout Auster’s article and see how it sounds. Muslims are presented as no more than caricatures in Mr. Auster’s propaganda poster. He then questions whether such people are worthy to be Americans and if they will ruin the country.

We at last come to Auster’s own real objection to Muslims in America that may be inferred from the title of one of his previous works, "Immigration and the Assault on White Culture.” His contempt for political correctness, though laudable, offers no license to run verbally amok. Oddly enough, I am in sympathy with some of Mr. Auster’s views on agenda-driven immigration policies and illegal immigration, but I can’t find it in my heart to go where the tone of that title would lead us. There is the distant tinkling of Kristalnacht here, and I resent Auster’s irresponsible attempt to introduce the concept of a "Muslim Question” into the American mind.

Perhaps my own radar for conspiratorial intent is as sensitive as Mr. Auster’s, but I suspect that the total of 6 million Muslims in America is a wistfully nostalgic number for those who deal in Mr. Auster’s materials and for many of those who would buy them. Whatever secret, unpleasant sentiments one harbors are one’s own business. It is regrettable that they appear in articles in conservative venues of growing importance, which represent the voice of truth amidst the distortion that is evident in so much of the press.

If Mr. Auster is looking for the true face of moderate Islam, he need look no further than those whom Charles Schultz of "Peanuts" fame once described as the lawn-mowing, family-raising types who keep the world running. The family-oriented Muslim that one is apt to encounter in everyday American life is embarrassed and repulsed by the behavior of violent extremists.

Those who espouse bigotry and intolerance on all sides should put those feelings where they belong - out of their hearts. Such things are un-American and profoundly un-Islamic. When the demagogues who afflict Islam and practically every aspect of these troubled times are gone, it will be a universally happy day.

Muslims have much to give America and vice versa. Future Audie Murphys and Abraham Lincolns may well come from our ranks. I, a moderate Muslim, yield to no one, God willing, in my love for this land, and I pray that God, the Beneficent, the Merciful will bless us all with continued freedom and peace. I am not alone in this.

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The column by Lawrence Auster seems to suggest that there are no really moderate Muslims and that, down deep, all Muslims are little more than potential terrorists poised to undermine the nation. That this appeared on Election Day was ironic, as I was preparing to wander...
Monday, 20 November 2000 12:00 AM
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