Saturday, March 15, 2008

Watching Dhimmiwatch

I have been keeping track of the website "DhimmiWatch" for so long that I forget when or how I first found it. Now I have it bookmarked, just as if I were some sort of computer whiz. Consulting it for the latest news on the incremental spread of supremacist Islam has become a part of my morning routine, along with coffee, toast, and getting the kids off to school.

DhimmiWatch is run by Hugh Fitzgerald, vice president of the board of JihadWatch, which sponsors a site of that name, too. These sites are the offspring of several parents, among them the newspaper Human Events ("Reagan’s favorite newspaper" and "home of ‘HillaryWatch’ " as well) and David Horowitz’s Freedom Center. DhimmiWatch and "Jihadwatch" were both founded on the same day, October 28th 2003, and both are under the governance – which is not meant to sound sinister – of Robert Spencer, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam, The Truth About Mohammed, Religion of Peace? Why Christianity is and Islam is Not, and many other books. Both sites link not only to Fitzgerald’s and Spencer’s writings but to Gregory
M. Davis’ "Islam 101" and Spencer’s own "Quran blog." Confusingly, Gregory Davis has also written a book titled Religion of Peace? (subtitled Islam’s War Against The World). All three of these men have appeared, I take it, as if out of a trap to do their work.

They do a Herculean job making topics that no one ever used to have to bother about, making news stories that never used to happen, available and at least somewhat digestible. It is all on one theme: Islam, always unique in its insistence on the physical subjugation of all inferior faiths and indeed everything non-Muslim (who knew?), is muscling in on every continent but especially on a bewildered West, especially a bewildered Western Europe. Through massive population increase, through violence and the shrill insistence that failure to accommodate Islam is "intolerance," the fogbanks of imperial Islam are slowly surging in, not only into faraway cultures but into every Western nook and cranny, and beginning to smother all. They are transforming the practice of Western freedom itself, in ways Westerners literally can’t believe is happening. DhimmiWatch accumulates evidence.

It comes from European newspapers and Malaysian church spokesmen and Israeli broadcasters. The news is sometimes of national scope and sometimes concerns personal tragedies, but it is always grim. Parisian "youths" riot, and this time they have big guns. A British bishop complains of "no go" areas in Britain where non-Muslims dare not show their faces, and he receives death threats for saying so. Christians in Gaza, Egypt, and Malaysia are afraid to worship. Muslim teen girls in Canada, Texas , and Britain have been murdered by their fathers for having a boyfriend or not wearing hijab. The archaeological treasure of Persepolis in Iran is to be flooded by a dam built by the mullahs, apparently not so much because Iran needs the dam as because Persepolis is pre-Islamic and therefore worthless. A jihadist will vet delegates to the Democratic National Convention (February 2, 2008). The Archbishop of Canterbury thinks sharia in Britain is unavoidable. Muslims demand separate Muslim-only days at public swimming pools in the United States, so that Muslim women can swim in modesty. Muslim students turn state college "meditation rooms" into mosques where unbelieving students dare not go. A minaret is almost finished building in St. Louis – closer than Canada, closer than Texas – presumably for a muezzin to sound the call to prayer to the large community of Bosnian Muslim immigrants there. The minaret happens to be ten miles from the mosque, Islamic law allows that, so perhaps the call to prayer will have to be amplified through loudspeakers, for all of St. Louis to hear.

This last is not technically wrong. Church bells ring, too. Water towers are tall, which is apparently the argument that won the mayor of St. Louis over when he was applied to for final permission to build the minaret. But it does help create a new world one piece at a time, everywhere and anywhere. A very different world, which is what DhimmiWatch is warning us about.

You can easily get lost in this site for the length of a morning, if not an entire day. The archives alone are huge. And this is not to speak of the scores of links to the side of the page, especially the JihadWatch page. My goodness, but people are worried, and they are blogging away. They collect comments from the same handfuls of readers again and again. Some are real haters, and do not trouble to use capital letters or punctuation marks. Some are obviously decent and aware souls, intelligent and able to phrase things so shrewdly that I wish they held public office, or at least were not completely anonymous. Some, Fitzgerald thinks, are provocateurs seeding the comment board with vulgarity to discredit the whole enterprise. A few of the blogroll links go to
recognizable names like "Little Green Footballs" and "Andrew Bostom," many do not. I had never heard of "Infidels are Cool," "Gates of Vienna," "God Help Britain," or "Northern Virginiastan."

Thanks to all who sent this in is the acknowledgment after many and many a DhimmiWatch alert. Those thanks leave me with the impression that lots of people know what is happening, and are philosophically arming themselves against an onslaught that is of course not launched by every Muslim, but that could be launched by any of them, because the reasons for it are enshrined in a holy creed. Who knew? But no one that I know talks about DhimmiWatch. When I emerge from a morning spent with it, I find to my surprise that the sky is not falling, and that there are new books on the bestseller lists, and new plays in the theaters.

It seems that thoughtful, calm, open-minded liberals, busy with progressive things, are also not too concerned with DhimmiWatch. Searching the word on The Nation’s webpage turns up nothing. Its editors did recently touch, as if with a carefully clean fingertip, a story about David Horowitz’s organizing of the first "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" on college campuses last fall. But they disposed of it nicely. Harvard and Princeton would not allow it to take place, of course. Elsewhere, "some student groups felt that subtle, non-confrontational responses would best take the wind from the sails of Islamo Fascism Awareness week." There were interfaith prayers and the handing out of "satirical flyers" (remember, in Manhattan, Woody Allen’s distrust of satire’s effect on guys in shiny boots?). Some young thing, offended by intolerant connections drawn between Islam and violence, questioned Robert Spencer, after a speech, about the violent parts of the Bible.

And as to sources beyond The Nation, neither National Public Radio nor USAToday nor Newsweek nor the New York Times has ever, in the four years of DhimmiWatch’s existence,
apparently had any reason to mention it. The curious thing is that posts to DhimmiWatch often come from reputable (I assume) foreign newspapers, like Britain’s Telegraph and Daily Mail. The editors of the American "msm" – mainstream media, in blogger talk – must have heard of the Telegraph, and must ignore it for a reason.

To avoid mucking about with hate, perhaps. I don’t want to hate, or be taught by sources run on hate. Each blogger only opens one window on his world, his own, and you cannot be sure when was the last time he cleaned it. "God Help Britain" at one time planned to take down her blog, because "Lionheart" had been arrested and she feared for herself. For all I know, "Lionheart" may have been arrested because he robbed a grocery store to support a crystal meth habit. Not being on the spot with them, I lose trust in them when they become desperate, sarcastic, and snide. Even Hugh Fitzgerald, who rides herd on comments that are "off-topic, offensive, slanderous, and annoying," tends to interrupt his posts with editorial comment of the "gee, ya think?" tone, a technique I find ham-fisted and unprofessional. What makes him do it? Rational outrage spurred by witness, or the panic of the blinkered and the obsessed?

Over and over again, these bloggers insist that they are warning all of us and that something must be done. But it is awfully hard to judge what to do, when one’s few Muslim neighbors - and one’s many Muslim doctors, for that matter – have done nothing wrong, nor has one’s own ox been gored. September 11th qualifies as a national goring. But it exemplifies a paradox also, if I may speak so daintily of mass murder. An attack not launched from a nation-state, but from warriors of a religion which has no official spokesmen, still leaves me as yet unassaulted personally by duplicitous demands for tolerance from others in the fold. And, from a distance, it still looks like their demands, when they come, are hard to face down because they are never technically wrong. A commentator who calls himself Alarmed Pig Farmer put it well: "Incrementalism works. Always [operate] a hair’s breadth beneath the Infidels’ threshold for action ..." (May 1, 2007).

Besides, people blogging on other things, food and wine for instance, open different windows. The sky is not necessarily falling on other people’s oxen – so to speak – either. It looks like the vineyards of Europe are still being worked and harvested, even though alcohol would be a problem in a swiftly changing "Eurabia." It looks like the restaurants are still running, and still serving pork cassoulet. To flip through Harper’s Bazaar is to see that Dior and everybody are still putting on fashion shows in Paris and Milan, complete with racily, spectacularly clad young women. If Paris had truly changed, then I would not expect to see that. I would not expect even to see women on the streets for too much longer in bewildered western Europe, except in flowing robes and with a man.

(An aside: to take the specter of Eurabia seriously is to foresee the day when, among other things, that glorious creature, the Frenchwoman, disappears from Western vision. The Frenchwoman, the heroine who loves fashion and wine and millefeuilles, who takes the trouble, with her perfume and her scarves, to make herself deliberately scrumptious as an act of will, must vanish from a new continent where only men, poverty, and Allah matter. What a pity. I wonder if I could prove the fancy that American women buy all those books about French style in an attempt to encode her into ourselves, before it’s too late.)

Not being able to double-check, personally, what the blogs report, I go on reading. I’ve read Bruce Bawer, Ibn Warraq, Andrew Bostom, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Brigitte Gabriel, whose book Because They Hate did bring back memories of, and new information on, the evening news stories from Lebanon of my teen years. Then I look at the authors’ photographs and biographies and I get cynical. Some of these newly minted celebrity authors, descanting on radical Islam, are either distractingly unique types – gay American expatriate translates from all the Scandinavian languages – or glamorous-looking women. I smell marketing. I’m a complacent dhimmi ....

Dhimmi is one of those words I’ve learned from DhimmiWatch. It means the subdued and chastened infidel living on sufferance under Islamic law after Islamic conquest. I’ve also learned the words jahiliyya (pre-Islamic ignorance), shaheed (martyr), and jeziya (the tax paid by dhimmis for being allowed to live under Islam). Many readers probably incorporated jihab, sharia, and burqa into their vocabulary about as long ago as I found the site, and about as unwittingly. I remember when the term chador, for Iranian women’s black robes, was new. When I was in seventh grade, a girl brought a political cartoon into class, showing a floating black chador clothing only an empty skull. I wonder if it would be published now.

From further exploring the books of the marketable expatriates and the glamorous-looking women, I’ve also learned about taqiyya (deceit for the sake of Islam), naksh (the principle of abrogation, that later, often violent verses in the Koran supersede early, pacific ones), and kufur or kaffir (unbelief). Yesterday I came across a new word, shahada, which I will have to look up, and today fitna (the dreadful tumult of pre-Islamic religious pluralism, which must end when Islam conquers). I know, further, that it’s the ninth chapter of the Koran which really wails on unbelievers, and it came after chapter 2 with its oft-quoted "no compulsion in religion" verse, so naksh may apply to that one. Even if naksh didn’t apply, omitting to enforce conversions still allows the imposing of dhimmi status on kaffir until they or their descendants convert "freely," through da’wa (persuasion). So it goes, and see how fluent even a complacent Westerner can become.

I find I am getting tired of DhimmiWatch, or rather, I’d like to be tired of it. It fascinates the way a car wreck does – a commentator from Britain said the same thing about Britain itself recently – but I resent having to be concerned with it. Maybe I want to study the frescoes of Andrea Mantegna instead; maybe I want to blog on food and wine. It occurs to me that, for all the warnings from the bloggers that we must know this and we must do something, having to keep up with DhimmiWatch and all its background information amounts in itself to a kind of dhimmitude. One chapter of the Koran was enough. I’ve got better things to do with my time. "This book is not to be questioned, know believers, the unbeliever shall go to hell," and so on, and hadith and sira should not my problem either. I am a Westerner. I am free.

Read over these previous pages, if you please, and note what they are. What a whine. Note that I am actually breathing a small sigh of relief and reassurance when I find proof that the vineyards of Europe are still being harvested, and fashion shows full of strutting women still being staged in the capitals. Thirty years ago even an essay like this, just something private from me who am nobody, would have been incredible. Has the world changed so completely, or is DhimmiWatch, and the absurd connections to anonymous strangers inherent in the internet, impelling me to see mountains where there are molehills? "They can’t really take over, can they?" my daughter asked at the dinner table one night. "Of course not," I said.

It would be reassuring to think that They cannot take over because Western civilization is too complex and gives too much good to too many people for it to unravel at anyone’s behest. Modern finance, medicine, the internet, are only parts of a whole structure which is at once too vibrant, too fast-moving, and yet too ossified with prosperity, the individual prosperity of millions, for it simply to be crumbled by people who think their way is purer. But, perhaps the ancient Romans thought the same thing when faced with Goths and Vandals – not necessarily Goths and Vandals hammering at the gates, but Goths and Vandals who just wanted tolerance, who just wanted separate and kindly accommodations for their houses of worship, their way of treating women, their worldview DhimmiWatch, the panicky blogs, Ali, Bawer, Gabriel, all say yes they can and they have before. It is commanded them and they enjoy it. Do something.

I am not sure what there is to do, but I do think that the present situation – let’s just call it one in which I who am nobody know more Arabic than I ever would have foreseen necessary thirty years ago – is speedily teaching Westerners what to think. Thirty years ago, the late novelist Walker Percy was much respected as an artist and a seer of contemporary America’s problems. He was concerned with religious emptiness, especially in young people’s lives, and with a smarmy and violent popular culture. In one of his novels he wrote of the disappearance of the concept of sin from American life. People cannot be decent if they do not tolerate the idea that sin can exist, that sin can be done. I suppose in those days we were all fresh from the "I’m OK – you’re OK" decade.

Anyway, I suspect that Percy was on to something. There is a concept missing from American and maybe Western life, but it’s not sin, it’s malice. The possibility of sheer malice existing in another worldview, worse, another religion, is what the rise of radical Islam is teaching Westerners, and this is what we nonplused readers of DhimmiWatch will have to take away from all the anxious posts, until our own ox is gored and we are forced into more than just thinking and wondering what to do.

We can recognize malice peering from an individual ne’er-do-well’s mug shot, of course, or maybe in the idea of invaders from outer space. Of course, we are all schooled to recognize malice in the West, in colonialism and war and so on. Malice in a foreign religion, stemming from the religion’s sacred scripture and its founding personality, is something different. It requires some effort to absorb the idea of a holy man telling his flock that proof of the kaffirs’ contumacy lies in their not loving death – if they truly believed their own idiotic faiths, they would want to die and go to heaven. Wanting to live proves the fear of hell and the guilty acknowledgment that the Muslims are right (chapter 2:94). This book is not to be questioned.

That core of malice also makes old stories and former wisdoms seem strangely current. Charles Martel stopping the Moslems at Tours, 732 A.D., is a sunny but lifeless medieval tableau, until we imagine Martel fighting screaming, green-flagged hordes willing, if they were anything like their descendants now, to cut off women’s genitals to keep them "pure." Did he know? Dante put Mohammed in the eighth circle of the Inferno, Canto XXVIII, among the sowers of religious discord. What did he know? At the turn of the 17th century Shakespeare wrote Othello, and made his hero a Moor whose murder of his innocent wife now looks simply like an honor killing. People say he knew everything. Turkish armies were only beaten back from their assault on Vienna in 1683; Harvard University had already been founded fifty-seven years before. When Gibbon wrote The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in 1776, he recorded pronouncements that, thanks to DhimmiWatch, are no longer remote: " ‘We require of you,’" said Abu Obeidah to the people of Aelia (Jerusalem), " ‘to testify that there is but one God, and that Mohammed is his apostle. If you refuse this, consent to pay tribute, and be under us forthwith. Otherwise I shall bring men against you who love death better than you do the drinking of wine ...’ " (Modern Library, Volume 3, chapter LI, p. 161). Samuel Johnson mentioned in passing "the Turkic contempt for women." How did he know? Muslim beys were still enslaving Christian sailors, including Americans, because they were infidels and Islam permits slavery, in the early 1800s.
Then, it seems, came a short period of quiescence and colonialism; then oil money and rage; now, jihad. Along with an appreciation for the capacity for malice of another civilization, the current age is also teaching Westerners, or at least it should, that indeed there are objective truths, and in fact some civilizations are better than others, warts and all. Ours is.

And so, what to do? DhimmiWatch and the blogs and the glamorous successful authors all say "do," they all say "know." I want to know how to balance the need to learn DhimmiWatch’s lessons – naksh, taqiyya, jahiliyya, malice – with the need to distinguish eyewitness reality from panic, and the need not to have all my time enslaved to a study habit which chips away at one’s Western-ness anyway. Keeping in mind that most people are not aware of DhimmiWatch at all and that the progressive types wouldn’t dream of touching it with a clean finger, I think the balance is struck when we put on, as a kind of simple interior armor, a few simple attitudes. These are attitudes that have not required to be explained or even though through for a long time now. They should help the individual recognize and act when his ox is finally gored.

One is that free people are not obliged to help create a Muslim environment from a public space. Even that is a negative freedom, notice; Westerners should also know that they have the positive freedom to say and write anything they like about any religion or ideology whatsoever. But our memories are poor, and it has been a long time since we dealt with a malice that treats its own supremacy as a kind of etiquette challenge for the low-born. And that is before it pulls out a gun. But the simple understanding that Muslim practice needs are not the public’s problem should take care of any bleatings for Muslim-women-only days at public swimming pools, or at the gym at Harvard. That is already a done deal, by the way (February 25, 2008). Anyone who quarrels with this simple assessment, even if he mentions the sacred word tolerance, is saying yes they are obliged.....

Another simple attitude, good I think for politicians to adopt and to announce, is that Islam has no right to subjugate non-Muslim populations. Anyone who quarrels with this is saying, oh yes it does.

Beyond remembering and voicing if need be these two simple attitudes, which harm no practicing Muslim except in the realm of his ego, I think the Westerner who cares about civilization’s future is best off returning to the frescoes of Andrea Mantegna, and such like. Hugh Fitzgerald and Robert Spencer agree: "Start with Shakespeare," one of them advised in a recent post. Know the shoulders on which you stand. Know the whole body, even the – well, even the smarmy hedonism that Walker Percy hated, which has its place. I wish we all enjoyed minds too lofty to care what Britney Spears is doing, but a universe of freedom, technology, leisure, and art stand behind her. So does the entire concept of the free and accomplished Western woman. Let’s think before we diss poor Britney.

Predictions for our future run all over the road, from Theodore Dalrymple’s quiet belief that a faith more than one billion strong is actually too weak at its core to endure more than a few generations, to Bernard Lewis’ and Ba’at Yeor’s agreement that Europe will be an utter Eurabia in less than that same time frame, to the desperate bloggers signing off their posts, "Goodbye, Britain" now. I don’t look forward, as if out of sheer spite, to a day when Islam does not exist. I don’t relish the idea of people of another religion being in constant, suicidal pain because the world is not as their holy writings say it should be. Any devout Muslim could point to Western troops in Baghdad and ask whose civilization is slowly being smothered. But I will keep on consulting DhimmiWatch with my morning coffee, because to be a Westerner now is to come back around to an old concern, after a sort of long historic holiday from it. Malice, truth, freedom and slavery are not abstractions. Neither is diversity. As our ancestors knew, some people and some cultures really are as diverse as hell. Depressing – makes one a bit whiny at times – but there it is. It makes for a strange little thrill in driving to my job at a wine shop. I think, wow ... this wouldn’t be allowed, would it. A strange perspective to have, suddenly. Thanks to all who keep sending stuff in.

The End

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