Daniel Pipes could use a little common sense

Sheila Musaji

Posted Sep 22, 2012      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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Daniel Pipes could use a little common sense

by Sheila Musaji

Daniel Pipes is an educated man.  He has a Ph.D. in history from Harvard.  But, like my grandpa used to say “some educated people are ignorant, and could use a little common sense”.  Pipes latest article makes this point very well. 

Pipes published an article on A Muhammad cartoon a day in which he says:

...  Any Westerner can now buy a Koran for a dollar and burn it, while any Muslim with a platform can transform that act into a fighting offense. As passions rise on both sides of the divide, Western provocateurs and Islamist hotheads have found each other, as confrontations occur with increasing frequency.

Which prompts this question: What would happen if publishers and managers of major media outlets reached a consensus—“Enough of this intimidation, we will publish the most famous Danish Muhammad cartoon every day, until the Islamists tire out and no longer riot”? What would happen if Korans were recurrently burned?

Would repetition inspire institutionalization, generate ever-more outraged responses, and offer a vehicle for Islamists to ride to greater power? Or would it lead to routinization, to a wearing out of Islamists, and a realization that violence is counter-productive to their cause?

I predict the latter. A Muhammad cartoon published each day, or Koranic desecrations on a quasi-regular basis, would make it harder for Islamists to mobilize Muslim mobs. Westerners could then once again treat Islam as they do other religions – freely, to criticize without fear. That would demonstrate to Islamists that Westerners will not capitulate, that they reject Islamic law, that they are ready to stand up for their values.

So, this is my plea to all Western editors and producers: Display the Muhammad cartoon daily, until the Islamists become accustomed to the fact that we turn sacred cows into hamburger.

Pipes is joining Daniel Greenfield (aka Sultan Knish) who published an appeal on David Horowitz’ Front Page Magazine Is It Time for ‘Make Your Own Mohammed Movie Month’?.  And, both are following in the footsteps of such luminaries as Pamela Geller, who promoted just such a plan back in 2010 with her promotion of Draw Muhammad Day, even after the cartoonist who drew the first cartoon and suggested the idea, Molly Norris apologized to Muslims and asked for the day to be called off, and American Muslims had issued a defense of free speech. 

I agree with Pipes on one statement in this article - “Western provocateurs and Islamist hotheads have found each other, as confrontations occur with increasing frequency.”  True enough, extremists on both sides are feeding off of each others hatred.

His analysis and solution to this problem, however, is irresponsible and beyond the pale.  The solution to escalating violence and hate speech is not more hate speech.  The solution to violence is not more violence.  Some extremist Muslims react violently to hate speech directed at Islam and the Prophet (and all Muslims are hurt and offended by such hate speech), so Pipes is encouraging a collective punishment of all Muslims by increasing the attacks on Islam and the Prophet.

As Nick Lowes of Hope Not Hate said “We are entering a very dangerous period where ‘Counter-Jihadists’ and Islamist extremists are feeding off each other’s extremism to justify their own activities.” 

The “solution” Pipes is proposing seems to be the solution many Islamophobes are proposing.  In just the past two months we have seen a series of inflammatory provocations:  First we had the Innocence of Muslims film Titanic, a German satire magazine plans an “Islam” cover article to be published later this month.  Charlie Hebdo, a French satire magazine published an issue with inflammatory cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.  (It is curious that a few years ago, the same Charlie Hebdo magazine fired the cartoonist Maurice Sinet after he refused to apologize for cartoons considered anti-Semitic.)  Newsweek published their ‘Muslim Rage’ cover.  Terry Jones publicized that he would hold a “trial of Prophet Muhammad” on September 11th.  Stop the Islamization of Nations publicized that they would hold a “global” gathering in NYC on September 11th.  A group in Toronto publicized a “walk your dog at the mosque” day. 

We have seen members of the Islamophobia industry actively promote such anti-Muslim hate.  For example, both Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller reprinted the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.  This is curious since Geller is Jewish, and her double standards are showing since her reprint of the cartoons does not include the cover cartoon that is definitely anti-Semitic as well as anti-Muslim. 

We have seen members of the Islamophobia industry take the position, based on a false premise, that any condemnation of the content of speech, ads, cartoons, films, etc. is an attempt to limit their freedom of speech or undermine their First Amendment rights.  For example, David Horowitz is concerned about the “persecution” of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula who was picked up for questioning, not for making the film but for possible parole violations,  This is curious since Horowitz is Jewish, and Nakoula is the man who pretended to be Sam Basile and told the AP and others that he was an Israeli Jew who had raised funds for the film from “100 Jewish donors” thus creating a possible anti-Semitic backlash.  See Freedom of speech does not include freedom from condemnation of that speech for a discussion of this issue.

We have seen members of the Islamophobia industry add fuel to the fires by using the opportunity to defame other minorities.  For example, Debbie Schlussel wrote a bizarre article The Copt/Wall St Journal Blood Libel Against the Jews – the anti-Mohammed Movie & Nakoula/Bacile in which she blamed Copts in general, not just the individuals responsible for the false claim by Nakoula that he was an an Israeli Jew and raised the money for the film from “100 Jewish donors”.  She even expressed doubt that the Coptic churches public denunciation of the film was genuine, and made the disgusting statement that “the Copts hate Jews”.  As if that weren’t enough, she doubled down on her bigotry “Because that’s what Copts do–they defame and attack Jews. They use us. They are not our allies. And they are not the allies of legitimate Christians.”  This is curious since Schlussel is Jewish and should be well aware of the terrible consequences that can result from such generalized defamation of an entire religious group.

To paraphrase what I said in a previous article about stirring up a hornet’s nest of bigotry: “Their Islamophobia is clouding their judgement about how closely anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and all other forms of bigotry are linked.  Encouraging and condoning bigotry towards any minority ultimately can come to hurt all minorities.  Ravings against Islam and Muslims are appealing to a certain segment of the population who need to have someone to blame and to look down on.  It is if they were taking a stick and poking it into a hive of hornets and shaking it around and hoping they can control who those hornets sting. 

When they oppose halal slaughter of animals and call it “cruel”, it isn’t going to be long before their audience notices kosher slaughter.  When they oppose not only particular interpretations of some specific aspects of Sharia, but all of Sharia, it isn’t going to be long before their audience sees the similarities between Halakha and Sharia.  If it’s alright to take away Constitutional protections from Muslims, or any other particular minority, then it isn’t going to be long before their audience realizes they can take them away from others who they were never that fond of in the first place.  When they generalize the actions of individuals to a whole religion, particularly a religious minority, then history shows us that terrible consequences are possible.”

This vicious cycle has got to stop.  Extremists of every stripe use either provocations or the response to the provocations of “the other” as “proof” of whatever form of bigotry they espouse.  They engage in rabble rousing to stir those who listen to them to “fear” or be “enraged” by the bad behavior of “the other”.  All of the extremists, whether political, religious, or ideological have put forth various reasons why their actions make sense, and all of them are specious.

Extremists want to inflame passions, provoke a response, incite people to hatred of “the other”, damage the reputation of “the other”.  All of the extremists have an agenda, and think they are furthering it by their actions.  And, the truth is that they know that ordinary human beings are going to suffer and even die because of those actions.  And, none of them care - It is a price worth paying as long as it is someone else doing the suffering and dying. 

Those who have gone beyond hateful rhetoric and participated in violence or murder are criminals and deserve to be captured and punished.  Those who have agitated and incited violence may not have broken the law, but they are responsible morally for fueling the flames.  Those who are participating in protests and destruction of property are being used by all sides.  Reacting to provocation is exactly what the extremists on all sides want.  And, reacting to Islamophobic provocation just encourages them.  Like schoolyard bullies, as soon as they sense that they are “getting to” their targeted victim, they increase the pressure. 

And, now that all of these extremists have stirred up an International crisis, rather than attempting to defuse the situation, some totally unethical individuals continue throwing coals on the fire. 

I’m certain that the Islamophobes counterparts, the extremists of al Qaeda, and the extremists of whatever persuasion that think they can continue to profit in some way from this crisis, or the next crisis, are also issuing their propaganda designed to stir up some particular group.  These extremists need each other, they feed off of each others hatred.  And, those who continue to act out with violence are only helping to perpetuate the vicious cycle of violence that the extremists need to survive.

It really is time, for the sake of humanity for the rest of us to find some way within the law to marginalize all of these voices of hate.  At the very least we need to speak out loudly and clearly in every language and let them know that what they are doing is totally outside the bounds of any religious or ethical teaching. 

In an article A spiritual jihad against terrorism I wrote: “Individual commitment, idealism, if you will, is a powerful force. We can make a difference. Individuals don’t have to be merely pawns. Most individuals may be merely carried along by the forces of history—but the forces that shape history are also the product of individuals. Whatever reforms are made, however our systems are redefined, whichever ideology will dominate and shape the future, whatever movements develop - will be started by individuals.”

“We may choose not to make a stand - to play it safe - but that choice at this moment in history. will only mean that we will be carried along with whatever movements and systems are now developed or redefined to fill the current vacuum. And, that vacuum will be filled. Because some individual or collection of individuals will step forward to guide and lead society in one direction or another from this crossroads. Whether or not that force will be for good or for evil depends on who steps forward and what they stand for.”

“Our various paths have led us to the crossroads where we now stand and where we now have to face our future together. Whether or not you participate, or watch from the sidelines, you will be effected by the direction history moves from this crossroads.”

It is time to amplify the voices speaking against the hate:

The Cherokee tell a story about a battle between two wolves.  One wolf is EVIL - it is anger, envy, jealousy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.  One wolf is GOOD - it is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.  The wolf that wins the battle is the wolf that you feed!!  I pray that we begin to feed the good wolf.

St. Francis of Assissi taught a prayer:  “O Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace!  Where there is hatred, let me sow love;  Where there is injury, pardon;  Where there is discord, harmony;  Where there is doubt, faith;  Where there is despair, hope;  Where there is darkness, light, and Where there is sorrow, joy.  Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;  to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive;  It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.”

Muhyi’d-Din Ibn al`Arabi wrote: “There was a time when I took it amiss in my companion if his religion was not near to mine;  But now my heart takes on every form; it is a pasture for gazelles, a monastery for monks,  A temple of idols and a Ka`ba for pilgrims, the tables of the Torah and the holy book of the Qur’an.  Love is my religion, and whichever way its riding beasts turn, that way lies my religion and belief.”

Rabbi Michael Lerner said: “Most people want to live in a different world, but most are very skeptical that such a world is possible. They have been so deeply indoctrinated into a depressive belief that no one else will ever respond to the vision of the good to which they themselves resonate, they have become so deeply committed to the alleged truth that everyone else is either too stupid or too evil to ever transcend the materialism and selfishness that governs this society, that they effectively remain cheerleaders for the very cynical realism that they simultaneously despise. It is this duality in people, the desire for spiritual transcendence and the despair about its possibility in the case of “the Other”, that presents the central challenge for a Politics of Meaning. Undermining that depressive resignation will take incredible levels of creativity, psychological sensitivity, spiritual awareness, and political courage.”

Azizah al-Hibri said: “What we need today is more positive models and less conflict-ridden ones. We need healing, justice and forgiveness, both globally and at home. We need to put forth restorative concepts of justice. Restorative justice aims at healing the victim, the family of the victim and the community at large. It requires, for example, reparation and participation. It does not focus only on the offender or on retribution. It is this kind of justice that our faiths advocate. (3) Unfortunately, we have fallen short of this kind of justice and consequently ended up with a world full of conflict. So, we need to change.”

Daniel Pipes is asking us to “feed the EVIL wolf”, and I pray that most people will choose to “feed the GOOD wolf.”

And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel evil by that which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity will become as though he was a devoted friend.  Qur’an 41:34