Self-denial at the White House

Posted: Oct 24, 2005 12:05 AM

Big week for Uncle Sam. First, there was the referendum on the new Iraqi constitution, which, by the way, contains all provisions necessary for a Sharia-ruled state. Then, at the president's by-now annual Ramadan dinner, Bush announced, "For the first time in our nation's history, we have added a Koran to the White House Library."

Anything wrong with this undoubtedly historic picture? Freedom marches on in Iraq, and tolerance expands its reach at home, or so they say. But I would put it this way: Democracy marches on in Iraq, and the Koran expands its reach at home.

Same thing? Not at all. But no one is supposed to consider the difference. So what if Article 2 in the Iraqi constitution states, "no law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established"? If people participate in an election for anything -- including Sharia, including Hamas -- it's the Spirit of '76 all over again, or so our leaders say. Never mind that worried Iraqi Christians, concerned for religious freedom, say they're likely to ask Pope Benedict XVI to intervene. Meanwhile, according to the "Bush Happy Face Doctrine," if any religious book goes onto the White House shelf, including one that's uniquely venomous toward "infidel" non-believers, it's a Hallelujah moment.

Is it just me, or does the president's gesture of inclusion sock the rest of us in the head? Peaceful Muslims aside, the Koran is indisputably the favorite book to twist for the extremist agendas for Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the killers of Daniel Pearl, Hamas bus bombers, London Underground bombers, and anyone who has ever hidden an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on an Iraqi road to kill or maim an American soldier -- none of which is the best recommendation for White House honors.

But maybe the president meant he would now be reading the Koran. He could start with Chapter 5, Verse 32, which he's taken to quoting as, well, chapter-and-verse evidence of Islam's aversion to bloodshed -- always skipping the fatal exception. Bush will say: Killing an innocent human is like killing all of humanity, and then leave it at that. My translation of the Koran says: "... whosoever kills a human being, except (as punishment) for murder or for spreading corruption in the land, it shall be like killing all humanity." Easy guess that among Bush's Ramadan guests were a few who consider Americans guilty of murder, Israelis innocent of nothing, and both, as non-Muslims, complicit in "spreading corruption in the land" -- and thus deserving death, dismemberment and banishment as outlined in Chapter 5, Verse 33.

But back to Bush's jarring gesture of inclusion, one unlikely to be reciprocated in Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia where Bibles are verboten. What does it mean? No known religious book besides the Koran seemingly inspires a religious vision of world political domination -- which, of course, includes America. Daniel Pipes, writing in Commentary magazine in 2001, reported on specific Muslim efforts to turn America into a Sharia-ruled caliphate. More recently, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) tells us, Ahmad Dewidar, the prominent imam of the Islamic Center in New York and a lecturer at Manhattan University, referred in an interview to mosque-talk of how the White House -- "through the domination of Islam and its ideas" -- would become the "Muslim House." Bush has begun to acknowledge such designs, as when in a recent speech he mentioned jihadists' goal of "totalitarian empire." But the president is still distorting history, both recent and ancient, by denying links between jihad war and Islamic teachings, derived in large part from the Koran.

After 9/11, Bush declared "Islam is peace." Now, he insists that "extremists" "distort the idea of jihad" into a rationale for terrorism. Maybe Bush will read his new Koran and discover that the idea of jihad is itself extreme. Better still, maybe Bush will go so far as to add another book to the White House collection: "The Legacy of Jihad" (Prometheus Books, 2005) by Andrew G. Bostom, MD. This extraordinary compendium of primary and secondary source material, much of it translated into English for the first time, elucidates the theory and practice of jihad over 1,400 years. With its chronological span across the centuries, "The Legacy of Jihad" goes a long way toward bridging the void in Western understanding of the institutional role of jihad within Islam.

The White House may have its own Koran now, but the president's reckoning with the legacy of jihad is still overdue.