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?
In your new book, you write about the Muslim presence in America and bemoan the rise of Islamic day schools and jihad summer camp. Is there really such a thing? Yes. Instead of taking lessons on swimming and gymnastics, the kids are listening to speakers give lectures titled “Preparation for Death” and “The Life in the Grave.”
Shades of Gaza now in the USA. That Solomon even needs to ask the question shows how out of it she is — she must only read her own newspaper.
You also lament the public foot baths that have been installed at the University of Michigan and elsewhere to accommodate Muslim students. I lived in the Middle East for the first 24 years of my life. Never once did I see any foot-washing basins in airports or public buildings. So why are they pushing them down the throats of Americans?
It’s a different Middle East. When Gabriel first came to Israel in the 1970s, Muslim women went around largely unveiled. Today, if you see an Arab woman whose head is uncovered, it’s a good guess that she’s Christian. Which doesn’t change the issue. This is a wedge issue.
I can’t get upset if people want to wash their feet before they pray. This is the way they are taking over the West. They are doing it culturally inch by inch. They don’t need to fire one bullet. Look what is happening in Europe. Do we want to become like “Eurabia”?
Gee, Deborah, aren’t you just the slightest bit curious about what that term Eurabia means? Guess not.
It’s about a slow and steady imposition of Muslim norms on non-Muslim cultures by exploiting Western commitment to religious diversity. Today it’s foot washing — an accommodation the likes of which no Jews ever dreamed of demanding, even though keeping kosher is far more exacting than ceremonial footwashing — and then it’s Muslim cab drivers not picking up people with dogs or alchohol, Muslim checkout workers not handling packaged pork, and eventually, as already in England, no pictures of pigs (like Piglet), no eating publicly during Ramadan, etc… all out of “respect” for a religion that considers infidels with supreme contempt.
But relatively few Muslims live in this country — about three million, or 1 percent of the population, whereas Amsterdam, for instance, has been estimated to be as high as 24 percent Muslim. They started as guest workers in Europe; they grow at a much faster rate than any other religion.
Your last book related the story of your childhood in southern Lebanon, where you hid out in a bomb shelter for seven years after your house was destroyed by a Muslim militia. Were you surprised it became a best seller? No, I was not surprised. Anyone can relate to a story about human suffering inflicted by radicals.
Are your parents still in Lebanon? I became an orphan at the age of 23. Both my parents are buried in Israel, on Mount Zion, with Oskar Schindler.
Why did you bury them in Israel? I wanted to honor my parents. After all, it is the Holy Land. And I wanted to ensure that both my children will know where my loyalty lies — with Israel, because Israel for me represents democracy, respect and human rights, something that no other country in the Arabic world offers.
Are you an agent of the U.S. government? No.
lol. Apparently, for Solomon, any Arab who’s transcended the demands of honor-shame solidarity with a thuggish political culture and shows genuine recognition for the good Israel has done for her, must be a government agent or something. Shades of the way French officials treated Karsenty in France — are you a Mossad agent? It’s actually a sign of having one’s mind colonized by the Arab point of view. This can’t be real.
Are you underwritten by the C.I.A.? No. Are you kidding? In 2000, I voted for Al Gore.
Me too. Of course that was 2000. Some of us have grown up since. Solomon’s persistence is truly a thing of wonder. For Solomon, this lady does not compute.
But I see that R. James Woolsey, a former director of the C.I.A., serves on the board of American Congress for Truth, your educational foundation. We also have John Loftus, a staunch Democrat and former Justice Department prosecutor. We are not Red or Blue.
I’ve met and talked with Woolsey. Unlike some former directors of the CIA, he is one of the smartest people around today. The narrow-minded cubby-holing that Solomon reveals here is worth a serious meditation. How much of her work is pervaded with this juvenile and uninformed approach?
Where do you live? I do not share that information because of the death threats I receive.
Threats from anyone we know? Al Qaeda mentioned my name on their top Internet sites and recently sent a press release about my work.
If you are worried about death threats, why would you put a glamorous photograph of yourself on the cover of your new book? In Lebanon, we were raised to be glamorous, feminine and sensual. It’s the only good thing we inherited from the French.
An amazing question. As if the sexually alluring (i.e., for Neanderthal testosteronic males, “provocative”) picture would be the problem – rather than the stark revelations about the dark side of Islam, as if women who know what’s good for them cover up, as if somehow either Gabriel isn’t really worried, or if she is in danger, she’s asking for it…
Pamela at Atlas Shrugged has some choice words on this particular aspect of the problem.
INTERVIEW CONDUCTED, CONDENSED AND EDITED BY DEBORAH SOLOMON
Nothing to be proud about Deborah. This interview tells us more about your mental deficiencies than the contents of Gabriel’s book or mind.
To paraphrase Bernard Lewis again, this is a croquet announcer interviewing a survivor from world extreme cage fighting.
UPDATE: Letter to the editor by Mike Cohen of the Galilee Institute:
To The Editor,
Your August 17 interview with Brigitte Gabriel showed your true colors once again – honest journalism be damned – only our opinion counts. Instead of an unbiased, journalistically pure article, you labeled her with words that show your distaste for her positions and opinions with hostility and malice towards her at every turn.
I am not aware that you have ever called anyone a “leftist communist radical” or “dangerous radical peace monger” when politicians or pundits make grave errors in their foreign policy; errors that prove time and time again to cost innocent people life and limb.
But heaven forbid (I guess that reference eliminates any chance of this letter being published) that someone should hold an opinion you disagree with – that makes them “radical” and “phobic” and “dangerous” and simply bad.
I propose “hostilty and malice towards all who disagree with me” as the new motto for the New York Times.
Dr. Mike Cohen