I was recently perusing an article in Arts & Opinion
when I found David Solway's "Confronting Islam," –
a reposting from Frontpage mag. I wondered at first
if he had read his own article on victimhood, "A Culture
of Losers," because from the logic he was espousing it
sounded like he was playing into it. To bring up the Medinese,
a tribal war that went on in Islam's early history would be
like me bringing up a pre-Islamic battle between Egyptians and
Sumerians to illustrate why Iran is the way it is. He goes through
considerable lengths of equate modern Islam with Meccan Islam,
even coming up with his own word for non-Muslims who offer objective
views on the religion, labeling them "shmoos" as Solway
blasts Karen Armstrong, one of the worlds celebrated interfaith
writers and herself a devoutly spiritual person. This interview
suffers from number of ailments, hypocrisies and dishonest representations
but overall is harmful to the conditions of peace and understanding
because it leaves the reader with a sense that Muslims are devising,
plotting and planning to take over the world. This is typical
of a cartoon or serial rerun from long-ago era. It is a replay
that we see in articles of the same ilk again and again.
For starters, Solway (who represents many like-minded)
regards Islam as an anti-Semitic force against him and the West.
Islam and Muslims can never be assimilated. There is no middle
ground; "moderate Muslims" are simply wolf in sheep's
clothing saying we see things through ". . . rose-tinted
cataracts" and "share a bed . . . with terrorists
. . . filled with explosives." This is an extremely xenophobic
if not totally fascist worldview. It's flat out dangerous to
have this type of verbiage utilized to describe the middle-ground
because it allows no breathing room for discourse, understanding
or dialogue. His reasoning on why Muslims are awful, horrendous
and riddled with flaws is a series of historical inaccuracies
and regurgitated pieties on the Qur’an and Hadith which
have all been thoroughly responded to by Muslims for years.
In my view, what Solway suffers from is 'inherited
loss' or learning from your parents, or ethnography, or your
religious practice about some cataclysmic event in the distant
past you are supposed to relive as if you were there.
I was born in Dallas, Texas but I can't escape
the stories of the Crimean-Tatar genocide where my ancestors
perished. This is an event that happened in the last century
like the Jewish holocaust just as non-Arab Muslims have been
being killed, deported and destroyed since the days of Medinese.
However the fact is that I am American, above all. Do I look
back and blame Islam, the Russians or the Nazis? The difference
is I don't look back, because like Lot's daughter you might
turn to salt or in the case of Solway, a bit salty.
I can understand the position taken by my grandparents
and parents referring to a century ago but when you rely on
CENTURIES ago, like Solway in his examples, that Islam is "invasive"
and "savage," his point is lost in the pillar of salt
he has become. Solway establishes himself as "victim"
and poet-martyr for the West, citing cruelties inflicted by
Saracen heathens, but disregards recent current events from
the collateral damage videos recently released and other examples
of Western nations and their allies bombing, crushing and showing
no compassion whatsoever towards Muslim countries.
There is so much historical distance and nuance
between Arabs, Mongols, Turks, Mughals and Africans in the history
of Islam, Solway’s technique of "pick and choose"
fact bending is clearly meant to manipulate the reader to feel
this sense of inherited loss at the expense of solid data. Of
course, when approaching Islam from his point of view, there
was one holocaust and it was his. Unfortunately there have been
many throughout history. Man kills man and religion is used
to control. It's just silly, nearly ten years after 9/11, the
length certain intellectuals like Solway will go to degrade
Islam under the self-proclaimed position they are educating
people. I also wondered if he had read my response to Phyllis
Chesler’s article in Arts & Opinion, "Secular
Islam on the Rise" wherein I succinctly demonstrate that
her original title was demeaning (she subsequently changed it)
and I also described the situation Muslims in the U.S face.
Allow me to repeat what I wrote:
"Why, as a moderate Muslim, is my view kept bottled
up, and when I do speak or send letters, why are they either
not printed and/or ignored? Why are there not opposing Op-Ed
columns by an actual American Bred Muslims like myself to
counter the regional and local weekly hate speech in newspapers
and other media?
I propose a simple answer to the rhetoric;
If Islam were accepted, as are other religions, without being
under the scrutiny of a Judeo-Christian lens, it would mean
a change to our whole foreign policy -- in particular, the
Palestinian-Israel situation. It would mean accepting 9/11
was carried out by a fringe group of "Political Terrorists,"
not Muslim Terrorists that used the Qur’an and certain
Islamic ideas to motivate themselves. However, the ideas they
used to motivate themselves exist in every religion. All religions
designate in the negative the non-believer. The idea of eye
for an eye, tooth for a tooth, is popular with the West and
also with Islam. These ideas will undoubtedly motivate the
future of domestic terrorists in America: we already have
the Virginia Tech shootings, Waco and other massacres on our
Right. That was years ago.
Since I've written that response we've seen a
rise is what I like to call the "Business of Bashing Islam,"
from a multitude of books intended to miseducate and misinform
as well concerted efforts from lobbyists in Congress to prevent
any interfaith/incultural dialogue between Muslim and American
organizations. Since I wrote that response, a bevy of domestic
terrorists acts on our own soil have taken place, most recently
the Hutaree Christian Militias whose sole purpose is to "decimate
the anti-Christ" or rather kill Obama, a plan that would
begin by killing innocents at a police funeral. These people
were never referred to as terrorists, nor was the lone pilot
who flew into the IRS building several months ago. As a matter
of fact a clear line was drawn in the media and these evens
have been swept under the carpet. Chances are we'll never hear
about the Hutaree again, but the forces that created this phenomenon
are still writing, blogging and reciting their hate-speech all
over America. Solway belongs to this category albeit a more
subtle and refined version a la Daniel Pipes and even a Rush
Limbaugh. He would like to see Muslims nuked and/or put in detention
camps to prevent as he calls it, a "War of the Worlds."
Really? Last time I checked, the Taliban had AK-47's from 1960,
Palestinians were throwing rocks and Iraqis ran away the second
a bomb fell. Where's the war David Solway? Yours is the collective
hallucination of a very frightened, very racist, and extremely
dangerous intelligence trained to ritually hate Muslims and
Islam. From my perspective, the next big thing will be a rebellion
against the Pipes and Robert Spencers and Solways as people
decide to learn about Islam from legitimate sources. The future
is about exploring and exposing the ritual reruns these purveyors
of hate rely on: the Muslim Punk band, The Kominas, have done
it with their song "Sharia Law in the USA," which
makes a farce out of Solway's perverted view of Muslims.
And when the next crazy American does something
the news will enjoy two days of headlines before it is dropped.
Who remembers the Christian Terrorist who shot up the Holocaust
museum? It's a vague memory from 2009 the world has forgotten.
Why don't we "never forget" that? Only when it comes
to Islam do we “never forget.”
If the negative articles on Islam and terrorism
were flipped, they would be considered anti-Semitic or anti-American.
It’s a gross double-standard that Arts & Opinion
stands by. For instance, David Solway's "Confronting Islam"
is a divisive title for an article filled with historical inaccuracies
and opinions from a pro-Israeli pundit and a right-wing publication
loaded with illogical rationalizations used to manipulate the
unsuspecting reader. Imagine writing an article in response
to Solway entitled "Confronting Judaism" and the subsequent
vitriol I would have to endure from the American-Jewish community.
Solway writes, "they break treaties."
Last time I checked Israel had broken numerous treaties, but
that doesn't matter according to Solway because in the 13th
century . . . It seems at face value the rational he is presenting
is unbiased and just a warning but his goal is to inspire hatred
of the Muslim. In my view, Solway and his clique of writers
are idol worshippers posing as Jews and their idol is hate.
They should be writing on the margins in their own hate-zones,
not on public op-ed forums like Arts & Opinion.
I think Arts & Opinion has to take
some kind of stand on the rhetoric of so-called intellectual
analysis of Islam by non-Muslim self-proclaimed Zionist writers
who lay out streams of nonsense and racism. They write from
a hardened-salty perspective without soul.
I will continue to observe and read the great
articles from your contributors and but will be very weary when
seeing the word "Islam" in an article title by a non-Muslim
whose body of work can be whittled down to refined racism.
"Sharia Law in the USA" can be heard
Kaan is a filmmaker and writer. His forthcoming book Halal
Pork and Other Stories will come out in Fall 2010. http://www.cihankaan.com