I got an email alert from CAMERA about an offensive (and misleading) interview with Brigitte Gabriel in the NYT by Deborah Solomon. Solomon is a classic representative of the liberal cognitive egocentrism that makes people easy dupes of demopaths. What’s fascinating and (still) astonishing is to see how openly Solomon embraces her (for me) peculiar point of view (the Politically Correct Paradigm — PCP) as if it’s the simple truth, and that Gabriels’ paradigm (the Honor-Shame Jihad Paradigm — HSJP) is from Mars. And of course, coming from the audacity of arrogance, she readily tries to cubby-hole Gabriel as a right-wing nut and Islamophobe.
If there’s anything irrational about this interview it’s how the interviewer isn’t even aware that there is something to be worried about. As CAMERA points out, “Islamophobia is an irrational fear of Islam.” Gabriel’s own experience has taught her to fear radical Islam and its easy spread within Muslim circles. The use of the accusation “Islamophobe” to shut down rational discussion has become one of the most irrational dimensions of current public discourse. (Here’s a place where one might expect a consistent “leftist” to paraphrase the classic attack on Israeli self-defense, “Not all criticism of Islam is Islamophobia.”)
Gabriel’s responses are dignified and to the point… indeed they remind me of some of Boulton’s responses to an equally aggressive and self-assured interviewer at al Jazeera.
This might not be Solomon’s work, but the interview is announced on the front page of the Sunday Magazine as follows:
The best-selling author and radical Islamophobe talks about why moderate Muslims are irrelevant, the lessons we should have learned from Lebanon and dressing like a French woman.
Now that’s an amazingly nasty attack designed to discredit her from the start. I especially like the use of the adjective “radical,” since it turns the tables on Gabriel, whose target is real “radicals” — i.e., Islamists. Robert Spencer has some particularly pointed remarks on this specific point.
The implication is that “Islamophobes” have some irrational prejudice against Muslims, a prejudice which is probably racially motivated — so in other words, their resistance to Islamic jihad activity cannot be characterized as a legitimate stand in defense of human rights, but is rather simply an expression of “hate.” Of course, if Muslims would stop committing violence and justifying it according to Islamic teachings, and stop pursuing a supremacist agenda to replace Western pluralistic systems with Sharia, “Islamophobia,” both as an intellectual critique of and expression of resistance to that agenda, and also as any actual victimization of innocent Muslims, would melt away — but the Times, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and CAIR, and the rest of them are not going to tell you that.
Was this nasty dig at Gabriel the NYT editor’s way of apologizing for even running the interview in the first place? “Hey, all you Muslims with a short fuse out there, don’t blame us for this interview, we told everyone what we thought of it right up front.”
Note that Solomon (whose questions are in bold), actually talks more than Gabriel. That’s not by acccident. This interview is more about Solomon than Gabriel.
QUESTIONS FOR BRIGITTE GABRIEL
Interview by DEBORAH SOLOMON
Published: August 15, 2008
As a Lebanese-Christian immigrant who spent her girlhood amid the bloody devastation of the Lebanese civil war, you have lately emerged as one of the most vehement critics of radical Islam in this country. Are you concerned that your new book, They Must Be Stopped, will feed animosity toward Muslims? I do not think I am feeding animosity. I am bringing an issue to light. I disapprove of any religion that calls for the killing of other people. If Christianity called for that, I would condemn it.
Not a question on the content of the book? It’s as if Solomon were so alarmed by the contents — i.e. how they might anger Muslims — that she has to immediately attack the author. At least she admits that Gabriel is attacking “radical Islam.” Of course the real question here is, “are you suggesting that the public should be protected from hearing alarming stuff about radical Islam lest they draw conclusions at variance with your ecumenical and irenic values? Are you willing to by a false peace at the price of ignorance?
What about all the moderate Muslims who represent our hope for the future? Why don’t you write about them? The moderate Muslims at this point are truly irrelevant. I grew up in the Paris of the Middle East [Beirut], and because we refused to read the writing on the wall, we lost our country to Hezbollah and the radicals who are now controlling it.
I know Solomon’s column is supposed to be concise, but she might help the reader by pointing out that Gabriel is talking about a 7-12 year-long civil war in which Lebanese Arabs of all Christian and Muslim denominations killed about 150,000 of each other, mostly civilians, often deliberately.
But the most shocking part of this question is: What about all the moderate Muslims who represent our hope for the future? Solomon could have put it: “who some say represent…” But for her, this is so obvious a truth that she doesn’t even feel the need to relativize it as an opinion. On the contrary, it’s just “the truth” which Gabriel has violated, and therefore, endangered the moderates.
Why? Why shouldn’t the moderates be able to say to those Americans who read Gabriel’s book, “yes, this is a problem, and this is what we’re doing about it, and you can help us,” rather than, “shut up, Islam is a religion of peace and you’re offending me by calling my co-religionists war-mongers, you Islamophobes”? The idea that Solomon couldn’t tell a real moderate from a demopath in most cases, and that that situation is dangerous for everyone including the real moderates, apparently has not occurred to her.
There’s another fallacy embedded in this question. Not only are Muslim moderates “our hope for the future,” but you, Brigitte Gabriel, undermine them by denouncing their enemies, the Islamists. That’s a truly bizarre perspective, almost the opposite of the real situation where, without support, moderate Muslims in the US and Europe are everywhere being pushed out of leadership positions in mosques and communities. Perhaps, Solomon’s not interested in the real situation, but how things look: as long as she and her “bien pensants” can pretend we’re all one happy family of moderates — bring down the walls between religions — then things are fine, right?