BOOK REVIEW: “The Grand Jihad - How Islam and the Left Sabotage America” (Andy McCarthy)
by Aziz Poonawalla
The trend of increasing Islamophobia on the conservative right continues. The latest is a new book by Andy McCarthy, called The Grand Jihad - How Islam and the Left Sabotage America. The conflation of political enemies with religious enemies is nothing new for the far right, but it is worth highlighting these examples of how entrenched the bunker mentality of conservatism has become.
RedState has some excerpts from the book that really illustrate the degree of hostility towards not just extremist, but mainstream islam:
...It’s fair to say we are confronted by a horrifyingly large pool of potential terrorists. But the terrorist threat pales beside a lurking reality: the massive fundamentalist pool is churning out legions of activists who wish to end our way of life and who believe that there are plenty of avenues besides mass-murder for pursuing that goal.
In common parlance, someone is a “radical” Muslim only if he is a practitioner of jihadist terrorism, as if it were perfectly normal to want exactly the sharia state the terrorist wants as long as one refrains from terrorist methods in seeking it. The U.S. government, as well as our states and municipalities, clings to this connotation. At all levels - administrations of both political parties, intelligence agencies, law-enforcement, members of Congress, the federal bench, state and local authorities - officials would rather stick pins in the their eyes than grapple with the incontrovertible nexus between Islamic doctrine and the savagery committed by Muslims throughout the world for decades. We are led to believe that the only real “radicals” are the terrorists. Any other Muslim, no matter how supportive of terrorist goals, is deemed a “moderate” so long as he doesn’t seem, right this minute, to be plotting the next Armageddon.
Dawa is the missionary work by which Islam is spread. But don’t be fooled by the term “missionary.” Dawa no more resembles the Western connotation of “missionary work” than Islam resembles the Western notion of religion. Just as Islam aspires to domination rather than a place at our ecumenical table, dawa is not mere proselytism but… the key to “victory.”
Mr. McCarthy uses quotes to imply that his interpretation of Islamic terms is authoritative, but these are really just his own fevered imaginings, readily and eagerly swallowed by his gullible and paranoid audience.
McCarthy argues that there is a “large pool” of terrorists, but even after including the Times Square and Fort Hood incidents the total number of muslim Americans who have engaged in violent behavior remains far less than that of violent rightwing Christian extremists - all hailing from the Right, not the Left.
But McCarthy’s broader argument is that the larger threat is the non-violent one, of activism by muslims to end the American way of life. But if you look at the demographics of muslim Americans, the overwhelming majority are people who came to America believing in the American Dream of hard, honest work, and the pursuit of happiness. The rapid integration of muslims into American culture is a process that is unstoppable - as the example of Miss USA, Rima Fakih shows (which provoked a collective freak-out from the Islamophobic right, and genuine debates about feminism within the female-muslim blogsphere).
The proposal to build a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center in New York is probably the more visceral stimulus to which the Islamophobes are reacting. To McCarthy, it is just evidence of Dawa - and Dawa must also be redefined as something sinister. But what, exactly? McCarthy cannot provide any examples of specific threats, because he has none - the entire argument rests on, Islam is not Christianity (true), America is Christian (debatable), therefore anyone who converts to Islam is no longer American (false). In order to support this risible line of pseudo logic, he is required to throw every ordinary muslim American citizen under the bus as a “radical” and deny that we are equal participants in civic society.
This is what sells books in conservative circles. It truly is a GOP War on Muslims.
Unfortunately, there’s no refuge on the Left either, because of the innate secularist hostility towards faith (see this comment thread at DailyKos for example). So muslims are still stuck between secularists to our left and polemicists on the right. We have to articulate our own political identity that exists independently.
Visit Aziz Poonawalla’s site City of Brass
Burkas, Bikinis, and Bigotry, Sheila Musaji (on Miss USA incident) http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/burkas_bikinis_and_bigotry/
Cordoba House: Hope From the Ashes of Tragedy, Sheila Musaji (on planned cultural center and mosque in NYC) http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/muslim_cultural_center_and_mosque/0018074
Fort Hood Tragedy, Islam, and America, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/fort_hood_tragedy_islam_and_america/
Times Square Attempted Bombing and the Muslim Community, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/times_square_attempted_bombing/