Moderate Islam is answer to militant Islam

Posted: Aug 04, 2003 12:00 AM

It may not exactly be harmonic convergence, but the coincidence is still worth flagging. Last week, just about the time a Senate committee was failing to muster the quorum necessary to vote on Islamic terrorism expert Daniel Pipes' nomination to the United States Institute of Peace (thrilling the Islamic groups that apologize for such terrorism), the Pew Research Center was releasing a new poll finding that 44 percent of Americans now believe that Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers. This number is up sharply from the 25 percent who, in March 2002, had begun to notice jihadis in Sudan and Nigeria and Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and the Philippines and the Palestinian Authority and Malaysia (and Italy, France and Lackawanna) poking out from behind the smoother ranks of the "Islam is peace" p.r. professionals.

What does kicking the Pipes nomination under a Senate rug have to do with an eye-opening Pew poll?

Pipes, a scholar and prolific author steeped in the history and languages of Islam, is a knowledgeable and trenchant voice on Middle Eastern affairs -- one of a handful of experts, incidentally, who, long before Sept. 11, identified the grave threat that militant Islam, or "Islamism," posed to the United States. An advocate of Islamic reform and modernization, Pipes is nothing like the "Islamaphobe," bigot, or bogeyman his most virulent detractors, led by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), like to depict. In fact, when Pipes tells us "militant Islam is the problem, and moderate Islam is the solution," I'd say he's being not only reasonable, but also more than generous considering the absence, to date, of religious movements of moderation within Islam worth writing home about.

But back to the Pew poll, which indicates that more Americans may now be wondering why some of the flags flying over Islamic nations include scimitars. (And, if they're really paying attention, maybe also why CAIR tries to pass itself off as a mainstream group with, as Daniel Pipes noted in a recent New York Post column, a chairman, Omar M. Ahmad, who says suicide bombers are not terrorists; an executive director, Nihad Awad, who supports Hamas; and a spokesman, Ibrahim Hooper, who is not at all averse to an Islamic government in the United States.)

Just as more Americans are starting to understand that unreformed Islam and, by extension, the law (sharia) that flows from it, are indeed more likely to encourage violence than other religions, a serious scholar who has long applied himself to devising ways to defuse such deadly fanaticism is slowly being undermined and even marginalized in the United States Senate.

Based on what? The CAIR-led anti-Pipes blitz would seem to have scored some direct hits. With the words "provocative" "highly controversial" and "decidedly one-sided," Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, dismissed Pipes' careful scholarship and reasoned analysis, in the end belying the senator's own ignorance of, let's say, the provocative and highly controversial centuries of jihad Pipes has studied.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., denounced the nominee because of a 1990 phrase Pipes has said he wrote about European attitudes toward the massive influx of Muslim immigrants onto the continent -- "brown-skinned people cooking strange foods and not exactly maintaining Germanic standards of hygiene."

Whether this is or was a European attitude, it is objectionable to political correctionists not because it isn't true, but because it is indicative of difference, of foreignness, which, in today's world, is about the only thing left that dares not speak its name.

Are peoples all the same? Are religions all similarly inspired? I hope Harkin and Kennedy -- and their committee colleagues, including fellow Democrats Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Patty Murray, Christopher Dodd; Independent James Jeffords; and Republicans Judd Gregg, Bill Frist, John Ensign, Lindsey Graham, John Warner and Sam Brownback -- take note of the Pew findings. They indicate that a growing number of Americans may finally be seeing through the political correctness that blinkers so much of the government's perspective on Islamic militancy. This is the same political correctness that searches my 75-year-old mother-in-law or Al Gore as much as it searches young male Arab or Muslim airplane passengers; it is the same political correctness that, as retired FBI special agent Don Lavey recently told, still inspires "the continued reluctance on the part of the entire FBI to ever use 'Islamic' and 'terrorism' in the same sentence."

And it is the same political correctness that Pipes, through serious study and forthright truth-telling, has long labored to debunk. Which is all the more reason that Daniel Pipes should be confirmed without further delay once Congress reconvenes in September. Anything less is nothing less than a victory for our deadliest enemies.