Dinesh D’Souza’s new book, "The Enemy At Home," claims that “the cultural left in this country is responsible for causing 9/11” by spreading around the world “a decadent American culture that angers and repulses traditional societies, especially those in the Islamic world that are being overwhelmed with this culture.”
In response, D’Souza urges social conservatives to build a coalition with what he calls “traditional Muslims.” He acknowledges, however, that these Muslims have no theological differences with jihadists. Throughout his book D’Souza shows no awareness whatsoever of the jihad ideology. In fact, he asserts that “despite the religious enthusiasm of many suicide bombers, Islam has been around for more than a thousand years, and for most of its history it produced neither suicide attackers nor terrorists. It is only contemporary Islam that provides an inspiration for suicide missions and attacks on civilians.”
This is comforting, but false. Today’s suicide attacks are a matter of technological progress: It does not represent a theological divergence from traditional Islam. Suicide attack recruiters today point to Koran 9:111, which guarantees Paradise to those who “kill and are killed” for Allah. This was not added into the Koran by contemporary Muslims, and has been acted upon by Muslims in the past: John Paul Jones encountered suicide attacks by Muslim Turks in 1788.
As for attacks on civilians, they are not forbidden in all cases in Islamic law. And in Islamic history, attacks on civilians are numerous. Muslim raiders, who, from the 17th to 19th Centuries, kidnapped thousands of British men, women and children and sold them into brutal slavery in North Africa, believed they were warriors of Islam engaged in a jihad. In 1148, Muslim commander Nur ed-Din ordered the killing of every Christian in Aleppo. Terrorism? Certainly. Moreover, this was part of an imperialistic pattern that even D’Souza acknowledges. “Inspired by Islam’s call to jihad,” he observes, “Muhammad’s armies conquered Jerusalem and the entire Middle East. . . .”
And in light of statements by Muhammad enjoining warfare against unbelievers, D’Souza’s assertion that blaming Muhammad “for the pathologies of radical Islam” is tantamount to blaming Martin Luther King “for the pathologies of inner-city black America” is absurd. For while drug dealers and pimps cannot quote King to justify their actions, jihadists routinely invoke Muhammad to justify theirs. At the beheading of American hostage Nicholas Berg in May 2004, al-Zarqawi declared: “The Prophet, the most merciful, ordered [his army] to strike the necks of some prisoners in [the battle of] Badr and to kill them. . . . And he set a good example for us.”
Yet despite the fact that D’Souza is aware that “traditional Muslims are not ‘moderates,’” and that there are no theological differences between them and the jihadists, he recommends that conservatives ally with them. He says that “the right” must stop producing “Islamophobic tracts” such as my books "Islam Unveiled" and "The Myth of Islamic Tolerance," along with Serge Trifkovic’s superb "Sword of the Prophet." Such books turn “traditional Muslims” into jihadists. But when he assumes that peaceful Muslims will have a greater sense of solidarity with jihadists than with non-Muslims, he destroys his entire thesis. For if these peaceful Muslims truly abhor jihadism, they should have no reason to object to critical presentations of the elements of Islam that foster jihadism. But if a few books will be enough to drive them into the arms of the jihadists, then how committed could they really have been to peace and moderation in the first place? Shouldn’t violence in the name of their religion make them angrier than a few books — even offensive books (which these aren’t)?
Throughout his book, D’Souza makes moral equivalence arguments about the Judeo-Christian tradition and Islam. At one point he even asserts that the Islamic moral code of stonings and beheadings amounts to Old Testament morality (but doesn’t bother to explain why no Jews and Christians practice stoning or beheading). Yet Christians have never embraced violence in reaction to innumerable insults to their faith in recent years. Why should we ask or expect less of Muslims when confronted not with insults, but with calls to reform?