“Jihad”, the Forbidden Word

On this site, we have argued that the West’s unwillingness to dispassionately describe Jihadi Islam as it is, and not as our culture allows us to discuss it, fundamentally weakens our ability to combat it. This problem is especially apparent in the media,where a set of rules have developed to frame the discussion. Blaming the actions of the West, especially the United States and Israel, is always acceptable, but investigating whether dominant Islamic movements and organizations today are inherently violent and racist is not. The West is unable to understand its enemy, and is therefore unable to effectively combat it.

Not mentioning the word “Jihad” when discussing Islamic terrorism renders the whole debate impotent. Jihad is what the terrorists are involved in when they act. Omitting the word “Jihad” is like talking about passes, rushes, and blitzes while discussing the Patriots, but not using the term “football”.

Robert Spencer, Director of Jihad Watch, recently discussed the absence of “Jihad” in our political discourse, specifically in the presidential campaigns and in our media.

Presidential Candidates and the “Forbidden Word”

by Winfield Myers
The Bulletin
December 17, 2007

Whether from a desire to avoid being labeled as racist, from cowardice when confronted with the PR machine that is the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), or from slanted coverage in the mainstream media, presidential candidates of both parties take great pains to avoid commenting on jihad (Islamic holy war), even as they blame the West for terrorist acts committed against it, according to noted expert on Islam Robert Spencer.

Mr. Spencer, who runs the web site Jihad Watch and is author of seven books, most recently Religion of Peace? Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t, called jihad “the forbidden word” in the ongoing presidential campaign.

Speaking on Tuesday at a Center City luncheon sponsored by the Middle East Forum, a Philadelphia-based think tank headed by Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes, Mr. Spencer lamented that the majority of candidates in both parties go to great lengths to avoid naming America’s enemies, lest by stating that a link exists between terrorism and Islam they find themselves pummeled for their frankness.

The dilemma, said Mr. Spencer, is that while any candidate would want to avoid being called a racist, anyone speaking the truth on this matter will most certainly find himself tarred with that term. When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney used the word “jihad” in a television campaign commercial, Saturday Night Live parodied it simply by inserting a laugh track into the otherwise unaltered tape, as if using the term “jihad” was self-evidently absurd. The Wall Street Journal attacked Romney in a news article for speaking the unspeakable.

Moreover, CAIR’s media guide warns that some unnamed non-Muslim writers suggest the Quran teaches violence. Yet, said Mr. Spencer, none other than Osama bin Laden quoted Quranic verses that call for violence against non-Muslims in his latest video, as did on many occasions the late Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran. “There are hundreds of passages in the Quran and the Hadiths [commentaries on the Quran] that call for violence,” Mr. Spencer said, and refusing to speak of this historical fact puts the West “at a disadvantage in understanding the enemy in order to defeat them.”

Although denial on this matter does presidential candidates no good, most of them act as if it does, Mr. Spencer argued. But to voluntarily refuse to examine the causes of the war is self-defeating, he said, adding that while Rudolph Giuliani and Romney are more willing to identity our enemies by name than other candidates, every candidate needs to face the problem more fully. Yet some voters, Mr. Spencer said, first adopt a policy toward terrorists and then ignore facts that contradict it. “No number of future terror attacks will shake these peoples’ beliefs that Islam is a religion of peace,” he said, adding that such Americans prefer to flock to candidates who won’t address the real issues.

Stating that “cowardice plays a tremendous role” in the problem, Mr. Spencer said that the media share much of the blame for our silence in the face of the most dangerous threat of our time. He recounted the unwillingness of most American media to show the Danish cartoons of Mohammed that caused worldwide rioting among some Muslims when they appeared in a Danish newspaper in September, 2005. Mr. Spencer said that “essential to a free press and a free society is the right to offend and to be offended.” But in the wake of the rioting, in newsrooms “the test became, could the Muslims in Denmark be offended?” When Western papers said they didn’t want to offend Muslims by reprinting the cartoons, they proved themselves politically correct cowards, Mr. Spencer said.

A corollary of presidential candidates’ care not to give offense is that they behave and speak as if terrorism was the fault of the West (America, Israel, and Europe) rather than actions by Muslims against the West. Candidates will recite a litany of Western sins-the CIA’s overthrow of Mohammed Mosaddeq of Iran in 1953, America’s support for Israel, or Abu Ghraib-as explanations for terrorist acts. The implication, Mr. Spencer said, was that, with the proper initiatives on the part of the West, “the problem will go away,” as if it’s “something we can fix.” Such an approach fails to grasp that the problem stems from “ideological imperatives within Islam,” Mr. Spencer added.

Those imperatives mean that, from Indonesia to America, there is a movement that appeals to peaceful Muslims to become exponents of “pure Islam” and calls on them to “rise up and wage war to subjugate unbelievers under Islam,” Mr. Spencer said. While it’s true that most Muslims are not involved with this movement, it’s also true that “they’re not objecting to it, either.”

Mr. Spencer said that while there are indeed moderate Muslims, there is no moderate Islam, which is “not a sect or a school of jurisprudence,” since every school of Islam teaches warfare and subjugation. There exists, he said, a “huge spread of beliefs within Islam, just as there is with Jews and Christians. The Islamic world is not hermetically sealed against Western influence.”

But Mr. Spencer warned against wishing for a widespread “Reformation” in Islam modeled on what the Christian West experienced in the sixteenth century under the leadership of Martin Luther and others. A rallying cry of that movement was a return to what the reformers believed was a purer, more ancient form of Christianity. Yet in Islam, that has already happened under the leadership of the eighteenth century writer Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab, the founder of the Wahhabi sect of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia. The severity of this strain rests on reliance on the earliest works of Islam, and yet, Mr. Spencer said, the ancient works of Islam are more violent than later works, which Wahhabis, following the movement’s founder, regard as mere “accretions.”

Mr. Spencer closed with a few policy prescriptions. He said that the U.S. government should undertake a new “Manhattan Project” to find alternative energy sources by putting the best brains in the nation to work on the problem. He also argued some of America’s massive foreign aid budget is misspent, saying that in particular we should tie aid to Egypt and Pakistan to their willingness to work against the jihadists in their countries. Otherwise, Mr. Spencer said, “we’re financing our own destruction.”

7 Responses to “Jihad”, the Forbidden Word

  1. Eliyahu says:

    one reason why many Americans cannot accept the reality that Islam is a warlike religion is that for many many years journalists, “leftist” activists, and Establishment academics [ie, Wm R Polk et al.], have been presenting an edulcorated or embellished version of Islam and of Islamic and Arab history. And this despite all that has been known over the centuries by Westerners and other non-Muslims [ie, Indians] about Islam and its treatment of non-Muslims [dhimmis within the Islamic dominions and harbis outside those dominions, in the Dar al-Harb]. Think of how ARAMCO publications and Life & Time magazines were prettifying Islam and the Arabs back in the 1950s. The Petro-diplomatic complex [to use I L Kenen’s term] has produced the kind of indoctrinated public opinion in regard to Islam and the Arabs that they wanted.

  2. Rich Rostrom says:

    There is a dilemma here. On one hand, denying the ingrained militancy and violence of Islam is ignoring a real problem.

    On the other hand, openly attacking those qualities tacitly confirms the Jihadists about what the Koran says and what “real” Islam is. It is in effect saying to all Moslems that they should follow bin Laden, unless they choose to abandon Islam completely.

    Maybe it is necessary to fight Islam as Islam; but that means forcibly suppressing the religion of a billion people: a step hardly anyone wants to take.

  3. davidka says:

    yes i am starting to believe that indeed the “petrodiplomatic elites” are the main forces that have manipulated the progressive leftists into beatifying Islam, demonising Israel and breaking down the moral culture of our society.To prepare the ground for islamization of the west.
    It has been a kind of false flag operation in which the aims of the political and business elites have been fulfilled by their own enemies.
    When one considers how little time it took to turn Israel from a heroic tiny democracy into a pariah quasi Nazi state, one is flabbergasted by the invisible power behind the dupe activists.
    Both Israel and the west are at war not with “terrorism” but with Islamic Jihad. Neither Israel nor America uses the term because the conclusions are too painful to consider.
    Namely that the struggle is eternal and no permanent peace possible. It matters not what Israel does or does not do. It is the duty of every Muslim to work to return it to the control of the ummah.
    However long that might take.
    THE shame and insult to Islam is intolerable that a dhimmi people originally conquered by the prophet himself should have achieved independence .
    And of course in the same way that Jihad cannot be allowed to be named as the root cause of Israel’s troubles, neither can it be said in America . It is the world war that cannot be named.

  4. fp says:

    that’s why it is the world war that is being lost.

  5. Eliyahu says:

    The French Middle Eastern specialist, Pierre Rondot, pointed out in 1955 that Arab anti-Zionism had been primarily motivated by Islam from the beginning. And I believe that Rondot was pro-Arab nationalist and anti-Zionist himself. He cited this to explain why Christian Arabs [or Arabic-speaking Christians] had to take a back seat in the anti-Zionist movement’s leadership.

    Pierre Rondot conveniently explains that before the Middle Eastern countries of Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq were ruled by Western powers under the mandates given to France and Britain, the non-Muslims suffered an inferior legal status:

    “The principle of equality of the various communities, affirmed by the mandates, totally contradicted the previous rules. Up till then in fact [up to the start of mandatory government ca. 1920], Muslim primacy had remained unchallenged. [Rondot, p 127]”
    “Le principe de l’égalité des diverses communautés, affirmé par les mandats, contredit entièrement les règles antérieures. Jusqu’alors, en effet, la primauté musulmane était demeurée incontestée. [Pierre Rondot, Les Chretiens de l’Orient (Paris: Peyronnet 1955), p 127]”

    Rondot goes on to point out that the Muslim Arabs were not pleased with this new dispensation of equality in the several countries under mandate, including Israel, which the Western powers and the League had given the territorial name “palestine,” not traditionally used by the Arabs.

    “But it involved for the Christians [Arabic-speaking Christians] only a secondary role there [in the Arab nationalist and anti-Zionist movement]; Islamic sentiment formed, behind the national idea, the most powerful motive to bring into play against the Zionist invaders. No Christian could nor did claim the role that little by little circumstances let fall as by right upon Haj Amin Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. [p 129]”

    “Mais il ne peut s’agir là [dans le mouvement arabe nationaliste et antisioniste] pour les Chrétiens, que d’un rôle secondaire; le sentiment islamique constitue, derrière l’idée nationale, le ressort le plus puissant à faire jouer contre les envahisseurs sionistes; nul Chrétien ne pouvait prétendre et n’a prétendu au rôle que peu à peu les circonstances ont dévolu à Hadj Amine Husseini, grand mufti de Jérusalem. [p 129, voir aussi pp 233-234]”

    Rondot is saying that the Arab anti-Zionist movement in the Land of Israel and elsewhere in the Arab-dominated countries, was motivated by Muslim bigotry, which also needed to keep Arabic-speaking Christians subordinate in the movement.
    Rondot is coy about admitting what “Muslim primacy” meant specifically. He avoids describing the whole dhimmi system [dhimma, dhimmitude] (see here & here too), and notably as applied to Jews. He is also coy about the career of Haj Amin el-Husseini, who was an eager Nazi collaborator and took part in the Holocaust, urging the Germans to kill more Jews.

    Nevertheless, I believe that the Arabs would have been more accomodating to Zionism and Jewish settlement if the British authorities, starting as early as Allenby’s rule in 1918, had not encouraged Arab anti-Zionism. One way in which they [British officials] did this was to organize Muslim-Christian Associations throughout the country in order to oppose Zionism jointly.

    The Christians may have been something like 15-20% of the total population in the country at that time. In my opinion, as a minority, they would have been willing to cooperate with the Jews rather than the Muslim Arabs, if the British authorities had encouraged them in that direction, albeit other Western Christians powers and interests may have also encouraged them to join the Arab Muslims against the Jews/Zionists. Be that as it may, I don’t think the British did the Christians in the country any favors since they are now about 1 or 2% in the PA zones and maybe 3 or 4% in Israeli-governed territory. It wasn’t only the birthrate.

    Again, I think that even the Muslim Arabs could have been induced to be more accomodating to the Jews/Zionists if the British had encouraged that or told them that they had no alternative. After all, the Qur’an endorses or foretells a Jewish return to the Land in some verses [contradicted to be sure by others]. So they could have persuaded on those grounds too. Arabs and other Muslims recognize superior force like anyone else, and usually, in the past, worked to placate that superior force.

  6. fp says:

    the BRITISH to convince the arabs to accept the JEWS?
    you gotta be kidding!

  7. Eliyahu says:

    fp, what I said was an IF. A big IF to be sure. I understood that when I wrote it. I know what the UK policy was, the real policy, not the usual platitudes that the Foreign Office and/or Colonial Office gave out.

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