Islam By Any Other Name…

I am convinced, based on the evidence I’ve seen, that there is nothing that rises to the level of an ideology that is held by those self-labeled Muslims who do not wish to destroy us and our way of life.

This weekend I attended David Horowitz’s Restoration Weekend in Florida. One of the panel discussions was entitled “Islam vs. Islamism,” the purpose of which was to discuss the ongoing debate between Andrew McCarthy and Robert Spencer regarding the terminology we should use to refer to those who, today, pose a threat to us and our way of life, along with the ideology that motivates them.

Over the years we have seen the enemy’s ideology referred to using a variety of terms: “Islamism,” “Radical Islam,” “Militant Islam,” “Political Islam,” “Islamic Totalitarianism,” and “Islamic Supremacism,” among others. The primary motivation for using such terms, instead of just saying “Islam,” is to acknowledge the fact that only a minority of those who call themselves Muslims wish to kill us or destroy our way of life.

I’ve discussed the issue off and on, over the last few years, with Bosch Fawstin, who wrote this essay about it. After hearing the panel presentations by Robert Spencer, Andrew McCarthy, Bosch Fawstin, and Baroness Caroline Cox this weekend, followed by a couple hours of discussion with Bosch Fawstin and Robert Spencer, I’d like to explain the issue as I currently see it and invite your input.

The goal is to use only terms that will help us to think about the issues ourselves, and to communicate the truth to others. The focus should be on the facts of reality — what actually needs to be identified and conceptualized — and, as a secondary consideration, whatever is required for clarity in communication. In choosing terms, we must not sacrifice honesty or accuracy. The context here is that of war, where we need to properly identify the enemy so that we will take those actions necessary to eliminate the threat.

With respect to the terminology that is motivating our enemies, I agree with Bosch Fawstin and others who think it is best to just say “Islam.” The reason for this, as Fawstin has argued for years, is that whenever you use another term, like those listed above, you are implying something about Islam itself that is not true: you are implying that Islam is either not supremacist, or not militant, or not totalitarian, etc. From Fawstin’s essay:

Imagine, if during past wars, we used terms such as “Radical Nazism”, “Extremist Shinto” and “Militant Communism”. Those who use terms other than “Islam” create the impression that it’s some variant of Islam that’s behind the enemy that we’re facing.

The only plausible counter-arguments I’ve heard to using “Islam” as the term have to do either with (1) the necessity of communicating with others who don’t share your context of knowledge; or (2) as Andrew McCarthy and others have argued, that such terms would give would-be-moderate or non-Muslim Muslims some “rhetorical space,” and that this is something that we either should give them, or even that we somehow owe them.

As for (1), a term like “rational self-interest” is an example of a term used by Objectivists to communicate to those who do not share our understanding of “self-interest”. Same with “individual rights.” Objectivists do not believe in a self-interest that isn’t rational, or rights possessed by groups or parts of individuals, and yet we use these terms to communicate with others who are under the (we think mistaken) impression that these things do exist. Because I think the terms other than “Islam” have not served us well in the ten years since 9/11 (and perhaps before that), I am starting to question even the use of these Objectivist terms, so I’d love to hear any input on that issue in general as well.

The reasons I’ve heard for giving would-be-moderate or non-Muslim Muslims some “rhetorical space,” are either that we want to do this to encourage moderation, which might, e.g., encourage them to help us in fighting the enemy, or because of an altruistic motive: we want them to have a nice religious life, to not think their religion is bad, etc. When I hear these arguments, I tend to wonder how much help we will actually get from these individuals anyway, and I certainly don’t think that we owe them this as a duty. We may choose to do this, as a matter of charity, but, particularly as an atheist, I worry that there will almost always be self-sacrifice involved. I also agree with a point made by Robert Spencer at the panel this weekend: of what value is “rhetorical space” if it is based on a lie?

The second issue is what term(s) you use to refer to Muslims, in order to distinguish those Muslims that wish to kill you and destroy your way of life from those Muslims who have no such propensity or desire. While there is not, in reality, a distinction between Islam and the ideology that motivates our enemies (see Robert Spencer’s work), it is true that only a small minority of Muslims are actively trying to kill us or destroy our culture. The majority do not seem to be rejecting this minority, unfortunately, but I think we still need to have terms to distinguish these groups of individuals.

The problem, then, is this: What term can we use to distinguish these two groups from each other, without whitewashing the nature of the ideology, Islam?

As for the terms I’ve heard, I like “Islamist” the best, simply because it adds no content to Islam. “Islamist” would refer to those self-described Muslims who are actively working to achieve the dominance of Islam and thereby destroy us and our way of life. But Robert Spencer thinks the majority in our culture already understand this term to imply that there are two different Islams and only one wants to destroy us. Spencer has sometimes used the word, “Islamic Supremacist,” which can be interpreted to mean the same thing, and other possible candidates are “Organized Islam,” which Fawstin prefers, and also “Fundamentalist Muslims,” which I believe I’ve heard from the Sultan Knish.

One might argue that any old term will do, because really the only concern in choosing a term to distinguish the people from one another, as opposed to the ideology, is that we might be worried that the use of such a term would mean to imply there is a separate ideology corresponding to each of the groups of people. But I am not: I am convinced, based on the evidence I’ve seen, that there is nothing that rises to the level of an ideology that is held by those self-labeled Muslims who do not wish to destroy us and our way of life. For more on that, I refer you to the writings of Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch. The only problem, then, is that most people (not even most Muslims, per Spencer) have not read the Koran, much less the writings of Spencer and other experts. For the sake of communicating with those who do not have this context of knowledge, I would want to use a term that conveys that there is a distinction, but that does not imply that there really are two essentially different, identifiable types of “Islam.”

My favorite, then, would be “Islamist,” because it draws a distinction without conveying additional content. Runners up for me would be “Organized Islam” (which refers to people) and “Fundamentalist Muslims.” Finally, while I owe much to Robert Spencer in terms of my knowledge of Islam, I myself would want to avoid using the term “Islamic Supremacist,” as use of the term might imply that there is something called “Islamic Supremacism” and that, therefore, Islam as such is non-supremacist. (To my knowledge, Spencer has not used the term “Islamic Supremacism.”)




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95 responses to “Islam By Any Other Name…

  1. proxywar

    “I am starting to question even the use of these Objectivist terms, so I’d love to hear any input on that issue in general as well.”

    RATIONALISM is the master virtue of all the other corollary VIRTUES. Without rationalism how would you know the proper meaning of selfishness? Did Rand not define it? Are you saying it doesn’t exist? Islam is what it is not what some muslim wishes it was. Same goes for Objectivism no matter how many people corrupt it, including you. If you’ve read the Qur’an you’d know the correct word for these terrorist is MUSLIM. Now if you want to make a distinction between the Non-violent/non-sharia law and violent/sharia law muslim advocates then label the ones who don’t follow Islam as strictly as something else like Westernized Muslims or non-practicing Muslims. It’s clear to me that according to Islam the non-violent/non-sharia law non-practicing muslims are muslims in name only.

    • “Same goes for Objectivism no matter how many people corrupt it, including you.”

      Backfired cheap-shot by someone trying, and failing, to corrupt the point of this post. Objectivism can’t be corrupted by Objectivists just as Islam can’t be purified by MINO’s (Muslims in Name Only). Individuals who adhere to an ideology understand it accurately and live up to it or they don’t, their failure to do so doesn’t corrupt the ideology, and those who think so need to do some more thinking.

      I referred to these non-Muslim Muslims, (those for whom Islam is not in any way part of their life) as post-Islamic Muslims the other day in the “Islam vs Islamism” debate. Western Muslims, Non-Practicing Muslims are also terms one can use. Even non-devout Muslims, Lax Muslims…(though we need to worry when the $#!+ hits the fan and they go ex-lax). And though I’m loathe to use any term other than Islam when naming the enemy’s ideology, when it comes to distinguishing its consistent practitioners – the jihadist’s, mullahs and imams to Muslims who don’t engage in but support jihad, to every single last organization that’s involved in Islamizing the rest of the world – I think Organized islam is a good way to keep individual non-Muslim Muslims clear from paying a price for the actions of their more consistent co-religionists. Even though it’s tough to find out who they are until it’s too late, which is why I refer to this challenge as Muslim Roulette. Of course, if we waged a proper war in our self-defense right after 9/11, many Muslims would have been given great reason to loudly proclaim which side they’re on, the civilized world or the Muslim world.

      • garret seinen

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but I understand that by definition, a Muslin is one who accepts Islam and Islam is the ‘one true religion’ as stated by the prophet Mohammad. From that I can only conclude that full acceptance of the Koran is a necessity for all Muslims. That said, the true believers can be nothing but dangerous to nonMuslims is the Koran pulls no punches in denouncing infidels. The moral code of the Koran recognizes no other morality.
        While there are some mistaken individuals trying to be Objectivist by substituting the bible with Ayn Rand, an accurate study of Ayn Rand soon shows one how lowly she consider blind following of anything. Independent rational thought is the characteristic at the apex of Objectivism, despite the understanding of numerous misguided critics of Objectivism.
        And in that way it’s easy to see there will always be danger from those who do not think for themselves, be the followers of Islam or some other unreasoned belief.

    • Do you mean RATIONALITY? Or maybe you’re saying I’m a rationalist? I’m trying not to be, of course, so if you can point out where the rationalism is, or how it is that I’m “corrupting” Objectivism, I’d appreciate it.

      Thanks for the suggestions of “Westernized Muslims” or “non-practicing Muslims”. Oh, and of course I’ve read the Koran. This is why I do not want to make distinctions with respect to the name of the ideology, only with respect to the people who refer to themselves as Muslims.

  2. Scot_L

    Good question folks.
    I agree all the other PC names just confuse the issue. The “Moderate Muslim “is a myth; Mohammad forbids a moderate version of Islam. Muslim Extremist is impossible; Mohammad requires Submission of the entire planet and he literally requires unlimited violence to get it.
    That is the very, very short version of Islam.
    I would argue that the best media name for Muslims is “Orthodox Muslims”. There is only Orthodox Islam in the sense that anything less than literally behaving as Mohammed did will be condemned as being insufficiently Islamic and thus punishable by death. There is only Islamic reward for Islamic violence so no downside there.
    Orthodox Muslim makes Islam (Mohammed) responsible for the behavior of Islam. The more Imams talk about being true to Mohammed the more they are classed as Orthodox Muslims. The more devout and burka wearing they are the more Orthodox they are. This makes it easier to say that all that violence was caused by those darned Orthodox Literalists and have it be factually correct.
    This also gives the rhetorical space for the “I was raised as a Muslim, but don’t really know anything about it” groups something to call themselves. (Not Orthodox) It is also a media term that has been used to imply disagreement with those violent Orthodox people. This might encourage the very slight possibility of that small group that wants a truly reformed Islam to have a transition name until they are strong enough to call themselves reformed Muslims. It might also help start the argument between Muslims of who is more Non Orthodox. (No I do not believe there can be a reformed Islam; but if folks want to try good luck).
    In short.
    Orthodox Islam = Mohammed = Sharia = Submission = Treason.

  3. proxywar

    “Backfired cheap-shot by someone trying, and failing, to corrupt the point of this post. Objectivism can’t be corrupted by Objectivists just as Islam can’t be purified by MINO’s (Muslims in Name Only). Individuals who adhere to an ideology understand it accurately and live up to it or they don’t, their failure to do so doesn’t corrupt the ideology, and those who think so need to do some more thinking.

    Bosch, I think you are agreeing with my point but don’t realize it. My point was Objectivism is Objectivism and Islam is Islam no matter who trys to change its original meaning/intent. By corruption I meant why is Amy questioning Objectivist terms like she is questioning Islamist terms either she’s following objectivism or trying to open it up to reevaluation. I didn’t understand her line of reasoning because the master virtue RATIONALITY is attached to all other subsequent virtues. What about Objectivism is she questioning?

    “I think Organized islam is a good way to keep individual non-Muslim Muslims clear from paying a price for the actions of their more consistent co-religionists.”

    But Islam is not Organized and hasn’t been since the Islamic caliphate was dissolved. The focus should be on renaming the non-violent/non-sharia advocates.

    “if you can point out where the rationalism is, or how it is that I’m “corrupting” Objectivism, I’d appreciate it.”

    Sorry, I meant rationality. My point was to make a comment like “questioning Objectivist terms” comes off as a rationalization. You’re coming off as trying to make reality fit your emotions instead of specifically explaining exactly what you mean by that.

    • Well, then it seems you and I are somewhat agreeing. My only point in questioning those terms is that, according to Objectivism, they are redundant, just as is, e.g., “Totalitarian Islam.” So, given that I’m denying the usefulness of terms like “Totalitarian Islam,” I am similarly wondering why we should use technically redundant terms like “rational self-interest” or “individual rights.”

      Someone on Facebook suggested “Muslims in Name Only” (“MINOs”) to refer to those Muslims who do not wish to destroy us and our way of life. I like the idea of giving the modified term to those who, whatever else they believe, are not following Islam. But the problem is that they are a hodgepodge with no fixed ideology. So it seems that you have to name them according to what they aren’t, instead of what they are.

  4. proxywar

    What would “self-interest” “individual rights” mean without the rationality? It would mean anything goes if it’s in your individual self-interest. That’s not redundant it’s a base virtue from which subsequent virtues are judged on. Objectivism would make sense without rationality.

    “But the problem is that they are a hodgepodge with no fixed ideology. So it seems that you have to name them according to what they aren’t, instead of what they are.”

    You could call them Literalist Muslims, but I don’t think you should have to label them anything other than Muslim. Totalitarianism is implicit in Islam already. The label should be applied to those who don’t strictly follow Islam by supporting terrorism and sharia law.

    • I’m obviously not talking about trying to remove rationality from Objectivism! And of course “rational” is implicit in “self-interest” according to Objectivism. All I’m saying is that the term, “rational self-interest,” is redundant. Something cannot be in your self-interest unless it was rationally determined to be so. So why don’t we just say “self-interest”? The answer I’ve heard is the one I discuss, above: the necessity to communicate with others who do not share your context of knowledge, or who have allowed into their thinking erroneous understandings of certain terms.

      • Bryan

        The use of the term Rational Self Interest in Objectivism IS indeed redundant, but I do see the need for this form of expressing it. I believe it sometimes has to do with the English language and how sometimes our own morality becomes attached to meanings without our “thinkng” about it. Self Interest has for some individuals become synonomous with Narcissism, hence giving it the connotation that self interest is bad. How this “distortion” has occurred may be due to specific dictionary definitions . For example, even the Oxford definition states “…especially without
        regard to others.” I believe with such definitions many individuals immediately place a negative value judgement on that phrase by virtue of their Judeo-Christian upbringing. And even without outright exposure to Judeo Christian ethics there exists the altruistic meme that permeates our society saying we need to be considerate of others. What is obviously missing for a lot of people is under what circumstances it’s ok to focus just on yourself. So when discussing Objectivism I often find it necessary to clarify that self interest for objectivism means to be rationally self interested. It is not till I mention this clarifier that people then realize there are times when it is “good” to think just of yourself.
        In this regard I would agree that when others don’t have the same context of knowledge as you, there will be a need for additional redundancy. At least until such time when the current culture begins to see this particular idea the same thruout.

  5. proxywar

    Meant to say “wouldn’t”.

  6. Bill Enlow

    It could be the name of the enemy is religeon. G.W. Bush said his favorite philosopher was Jesus Christ. Randian Capitalists (Objectivists) voted for him in droves when their favorite philosopher scoffed at such notions as love your enemy, judge not, yet ye be judged, turn the other cheek, and money is the root of all evil. I don’t know if this blantant hypocracy is why Muslims hate our guts. But it’s sure why I hate Objectivist Christian guts. Our problems with the Muslim nations stem from our alliance with Isreal. It’s that simple. I’m not anti-Isreal, nor anti-Semetic. But if the holocaust justifies driving people off some turf and making it their own turf, well…Did the holocaust happen in a Muslim land? or a Christian land? Answer: A Christian land. So who should give up the turf? If the Jews want to prove they area rational people living in the modern world, then quit clinging to a promise made by a God you don’t even believe in. Move it to Texas and the Muslims will be as peaceful as they were during the middle ages. Move it to Texas and you’ll see the neocons are just ducking under the Jews to hide their own facism. Move it to Texas…that’s where I live, so I won’t mind…I’ll go Occupy Wall Street. But move it to Texas and it will simply be a matter of separating good people from bad people.

    • Bill Enlow

      meant to say are a rational people instead of area rational people. Sorry.

    • “Our problems with the Muslim nations stem from our alliance with Isreal. It’s that simple.”

      That is ignorance of history, utter failure to even look into the problem and likely abominable failure to make an effort to think. It’s that simple.

      When everything you say is a personal attack, misinformed or just false…don’t expect respect for your “ideas”.

      • Bill Enlow

        I don’t see where I’ve made any personal attack. Who would call themself an Objectivist Christian? And I’m thinking some of you think too much about it or look to deeply into it, when if you just step back and look at the big picture, the reason is as plain as the nose…or that hat…is that a Davy Crockett hat on your head?.

      • Bill Enlow

        What point was that? And how would a typo prove it twice over.

    • Bill, have you read the Koran? Or the history of Israel? Here’s some information on Israel:

      The Koran tells Muslims that, no matter where they move — even to Texas — that they are inferior, that they betrayed Allah, and that they are deserving of all sorts of punishments. Earlier verses say Allah will mete out the punishment. Later verses say that Allah’s messengers here on Earth might do the job.

      We have many great reasons to be allies of the Israelis, including their relatively free country and their tremendous advances in medicine and weapons technology. For the latest example of the former:

      • Bill Enlow

        I’ll look over those websites more carefully tomorrow Amy. It’s getting late. But don’t get me wrong. I am pro-Isreal and I think the U.S.- Isreal alliance is not just a good thing, but essential to the meaning of the United States. Sorry I can’t articulate the meaning of my last statement better than that right now. Thanks for putting up this blog.

  7. --Rick

    “The context here is that of war, where we need to properly identify the enemy so that we will take those actions necessary to eliminate the threat.” With respect to this statement, let me state that my belief is that it was a mistake for the United States to enter into the Geneva Convention as a signatory in agreeing to a limited war. War is not nice. It is not polite. It is not clean. It is not benevolent and it certainly is not merciful. War is man’s worse expression of his rational nature. It is never in one’s best interest to start a war, but it is also never in one’s best interest to lose a war.

    If a nation is going to war, it should be in response to an attack by an enemy, and that attack should be met with an all out response taken to the enemy regardless of where they fight, where they hide or where they live. Once the bombs stop falling and the last bullets are fired, only then is it appropriate to try to sort the saints from the bastard murderers.

    If one believes the practice of one’s faith and loyalty to one’s faith is a higher value than respecting human life; then, dying holding onto their faith is a gift greater than they deserve, but one that should be delivered in the most vengeful, non-empathetic and relentless form to bring about a quick victory and relatively fewer casualties. Those who attack us are our enemies. Those who harbor them are our enemies. Those who will not turn on our enemies are also our enemies.

    If one is committed to peace, then, practice peace. If one is committed to God, then, let them pray to God for their comfort and salvation. If one believes less in the value of life than one believes in some dark faith, then, let them perish into the night of their own creation.

    From my perspective, I agree that Islam is just that; Islam. Just as Italians are Italians and Scots are Scots or Jews are Jews. Once attacked, I don’t want to get inside the heads of those who are Italian, Scottish, Jewish, or Islamist; I only want to end their attack by responding as brutally as possible to all who resist and burying as many as necessary to secure victory and restore a state of peace to my nation, my people, my friends and my family. Anything less is immoral and a betrayal of the responsibilities that come with being the vanguard and protectors of liberty.


    • Bill Enlow

      OK Rick. But what sense did it make to go into Iraq? One of the reasons your side gave for toppling Saddam was he likes to kill his own people.Uhhhh…I never heard anybody from the right say, so what? What I’m hearing on this blog is a Muslim is a Muslim and the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim. So Saddam liked to surround himself with Christian henchmen and kill his own people. Big deal! That’s why Ronald Reagan liked him. Isn’t that the kind of guy we need after 9/11? It was the elder Bush who decided we shouldn’t like him anymore because he invaded Kuwait. We went to war over that, but that was a different war. Saddam lost that war, but he did put a contract out on old man Bush. That failed. If I didn’t know better, I would say our invasion of Iraq was nothing more than a personal vendetta the Bush family had on Saddam. But everyone knows Cheney and Rumsfeld were wanting to go into Iraq before 9/11. So that makes us ask a bigger question.

      One more thing. Another reason for going into Iraq was WMD’s. We must enforce the U.N. mandate, remember? But the U.N. didn’t want us to enforce the mandate with an armed invasion. Your side responded to the U.N. by telling them to take a hike. Do you remember Bush officials walking out of the meeting? Do you see anything wrong here?

  8. proxywar

    “I’m obviously not talking about trying to remove rationality from Objectivism! And of course “rational” is implicit in “self-interest” according to Objectivism. All I’m saying is that the term, “rational self-interest,” is redundant. Something cannot be in your self-interest unless it was rationally determined to be so. So why don’t we just say “self-interest”? The answer I’ve heard is the one I discuss, above: the necessity to communicate with others who do not share your context of knowledge, or who have allowed into their thinking erroneous understandings of certain terms.”

    Alright, that makes sense. I thought you were trying to say there was no reason for rationality to be apart of self-interest. I was like what the hell is wrong with Amy. In that case, just explain to people what you mean by Muslims and MINOs. When you call it Totalitarian Islam you give the impression that there is a totally separate violent islam from the peaceful one which is just not true. There is no such thing as peaceful islam. Just as there is no such thing as self-interest without rationality.

  9. Pingback: Does Islam Have Many Faces or Just One « Let's Get Political

  10. Edward Cline

    The usage of terms like “Islamist supremacist,” “radical Islam,” “Moderate Islam,” and “Moderate Muslims” and other softening denotations has always troubled me, especially when they are employed by knowledgeable and reputable critics of Islam and Islamic ideology. I agree with Bosch that to qualify the term “Islamic” is as absurd and perilous as qualifying “Nazism” with a term that segregates or distinguishes it from its root ideological meaning. It’s an invalid and illogical construction. After all, what would you call Fascism (the Italian, corporatist brand, often confused with Nazism) that seemed to be benign, didn’t beat up as many people and didn’t jail as many for violating its collectivist edicts, and got the trains running on time? “Moderate Fascism”? “Limited Fascism”? Would it not be as objectionable as just pure, thuggish, coercive Fascism without the smile buttons? In any tautological sense, Nazism is what it is, Fascism is what it is, Shintoism is what it is – and each is a brand of totalitarian collectivism, which in turn is a species of statism. Islam, stripped of its religious garb, is totalitarian.

    I see no point in qualifying the term “Islam” except for reasons of style and clarification. Islam ostensibly is a religion, but it is rooted in a primitive, tribal collectivism that must in its paramount application be a political system, as well. There’s no getting around that fact. It dictates, governs, and defines every aspect of an individual’s life, and has a variety of punishments for a variety of transgressions. And if it can punish, it means it has the power of the state, the power to employ force. That makes it a political system, and its sanction is its ideology. Islam is the state. One submits to it, entirely, with no qualifications or reservations. The ideal Islamic state is a state of total Islam, and that can only be enforced and sustained with political power and force.

    One might argue that “moderate Muslims” – that is, those not actively engaged in jihad against those it wishes to conquer or kill – are a different breed of “Islamist” and are essentially blameless. But, from my perspective, a Muslim who does not bother to question his creed, and whether or not he’s read the Koran or the Hadith, must accept the bed he’s chosen to sleep in. He is not blameless or beyond judgment. That bed obviates his individuality. He tolerates that annihilation. It is a passivity for which I hold deep contempt. Yet, he’s considered to be a non-aggressive, non-hostile, “moderate” Muslim. But when atrocities are committed in conformance with Islamic ideology, and in the name of Islam, most Muslims are silent. The silence, whether they intend it or not, is a sanction of the atrocity – whether it’s flying planes into the World Trade Center or a father killing his daughters to protect the family “honor.”

    Frankly, granting “moderate” Muslims “rhetorical space” is telling them that they can have their cake and eat it, too; they can have their Allah and Thomas Jefferson; they can have their irrationality and their reason, too. But any “moderate” Muslim imbued with any intellectual honesty qua his creed, must ultimately come down on the side of unqualified Islam, an Islam that demands unqualified faith and obedience. Islam is answerable to no one. Nor is Allah answerable to man for his alleged actions. (Nor, for that matter, is the Christian God; no theologian has ever been able to answer the question of why God, working his “mysterious ways,” causes or allows to occur catastrophic natural disasters that wipe out millions.)

    Allow me to ask this question: As there are “Objectivist Christians” out there, are there any Objectivist Muslims? If not, why not?

    • “Islam, stripped of its religious garb, is totalitarian.”

      Must it be “stripped of its religious garb” first? Or do you mean only that it’s totalitarian, with fancy clothes on?

      Can you give examples of qualifying the term, “Islam,” for purposes of style and clarification? Can this be done in a way that does not also distort the truth about it? Would you do the same thing with the term, “Nazism”?

      When you say, “moderate Muslims”…are a different breed of “Islamist,” what do you mean by “Islamist”?

      Your point about those Muslims who remain silent in the wake of atrocities committed by their fellow Muslims is a good reminder. The fact that we divide Muslims into those who are actively trying to destroy us and our way of life, and those who are not, does not mean that the latter group is entirely blameless. It’s just that we’ll be using our firepower on the former.

      Thanks for your contribution to the discussion.

  11. Amy, I take a different approach.

    > “A political ideology is a set of principles aimed at establishing or maintaining a certain social system; it is a program of long-range action, with the principles serving to unify and integrate particular steps into a consistent course. It is only by means of principles that men can project the future and choose their actions accordingly.” (Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, as quoted in The Ayn Rand Lexicon:

    I think Islam, like Christianity, is a WORLDVIEW (specifically a religion), which means it is universal in applying to everyone, everywhere, at all times. It includes a metaphysics, an epistemology, an ethics, a politics, and maybe an esthetics. Objectivism too is a worldview, the other kind, called philosophy.

    By contrast, an IDEOLOGY (somewhat redundantly but informatively sometimes called a “political ideology”) is an _application_ of a universal worldview to a particular milieu, as Ayn Rand suggests above. Examples of particular Islamic ideologies are Al Qaeda, which is transnationalist, and ash-Shabaab (in Somalia), which is nationalist. Likewise, not all Objectivists agree on an ideology in the sense of applying Objectivism to our time to establish capitalism.

    I think your idea of using “Islamist” is excellent but as a generalization of the many particular violent _ideologies_ which are based on Islam as a _worldview_. In this sense, “Islamist” refers to the duplicitous, violent approach to bringing Islam to the world. Islamists, then, are the military (external) and legal (internal) enemies of Western Civilization. Islam, the worldview, is the philosophical enemy (just as Christianity and Buddhism are).

    The burden of proof of their ideology, ethically, is on Muslims who claim not to be Islamists.

    P. S. — I have found that defining such terms and then posting them publicly in an updatable post is very helpful to me, and maybe to others, whether they agree or not:

    You may find in your activist career that you will be defining more terms. You can add them as you need.

    • Thanks for this, Burgess.

      What if you believe that any ideology consistent with Islam as a worldview would entail either violent or stealth Jihad “approach[es] to bringing Islam to the world”? Your comment seems to imply that there either are, or plausibly may be, other ideologies based on Islam.

      Would you use a corollary term, “Islamism,” defined accordingly per your comment?

      I’ll check out your glossary, and thanks again!

      • 1. “Your comment seems to imply that there either are, or plausibly may be, other ideologies based on Islam.”

        Yes, I do, based on what I have read and what I have heard in speaking to Muslims at a local university years ago. I do not know of a particular name for this Islamic ideology. It is the sort of ideology that Imam Rauf, of New York, espouses, as in this popular book:

        (Be forewarned: He uses many sleight-of-hand tricks in his writing.)

        I recommend reading it (especially Ch. 6, “A New Vision for Muslims and the West”) if you want to see his view. (He calls it a “vision.”) I would call it “democratic” or “progressive” Islam because that is the guise that Rauf presents. Non-Muslim supporters of democracy and progressivism respond kindly to it.

        Is Rauf personally honest in saying he disavows violence? Probably not. But that doesn’t change the nature of his ideology as he publicly states it. Do his _followers_ honestly believe they are disavowing violence? Yes, I am convinced that some, perhaps most, are. They are naive. Also, they are not logically connecting this ideology of a democratic Islam to Qur’anic Islam. That is no surprise. I have no expectation that anyone who values mysticism will be coherent in their worldview and ideology. The same happens in Christianity. Some follow a theocratic ideology and some follow an “anarchist” ideology. They are both still Christians but with very different ideologies.

        2. Yes, I agree with your suggestion that “Islamism” would name the ideology (-ism) of “Islamists.”

        3. Finally, as you know, but it deserves explication here: No matter what terms any of us use, we must not only be prepared to define them when challenged, but, further, we should frequently define them even before being challenged. It is the meanings, not just the terms, that need to be broadcast.

        Thank you for starting this discussion!

        • Hi Burgess,

          I read the part of your review dealing with the book itself. Does he discuss his interpretation of the Koran’s violent passages? I assume that’s in Ch. 5? Do you know what sort of following he has?

          • > “apeikoff
            November 21, 2011 at 10:03 pm
            Hi Burgess,

            I read the part of your review dealing with the book itself. Does he discuss his interpretation of the Koran’s violent passages? I assume that’s in Ch. 5? Do you know what sort of following he has?”

            (There was no REPLY button immediately following the comment above.)

            Rauf’s book has no Index Locorum. You might search on Spencer’s site for references to Rauf.

            The index of Rauf’s book lists many entries for “Quran.” Only a few of the identified subjects deal with violence. E.g., “prohibition on religious violence and fighting except in defense, 129-131.” There are also perhaps 50-70 individual citations of Q passages listed but without subjects identified. E.g.: “2:61, 26.” You would have to decide which passages you are interested in and look them up in that index entry.

            There are about 20 entries under “terrorism.” Most seem to refer to pages in Ch. 4 (“Where the Devil Got in the Details”). The entry for “jihad” refers mostly to pp. 135-138 (“Aren’t Muslims required to wage jihad?”) and pp. 138-143 (“Dying to Kill”), both also in Ch. 4.

            I don’t know how large his following is. His book is identified as being on the NYT best seller list, but I haven’t verified that. Certainly not all Muslims in the US agree with him. He has been severely criticized by some as diluting Islam. You might do a search for “Muslim criticism of Imam Rauf” or something similar. Rauf is not the leader of an organized movement. Rauf is a networker. He has contacts with many organizations. Like Toohey he is mostly a floater among the various Muslim, Christian, and Jewish “progressive” circles in New York.

  12. proxywar

    Well said. Mr. Cline. You obviously get it. The Islamic religion is a sociopolitical ideology snice it dictates everything muslims should do right down to which hand they should wipe with. I was not aware there were christians who consider themselves objectivists. That sounds like an oxymoron to me.

  13. I think that “committed Islamist” versus “non-committed Islamist” leaves Islam alone as the “loaded ideological-gun” it is while making a distinction between those few purists that’re fanatically murdering innocent-Americans in Islam’s name and those many average-folk who peacefully co-exist with us as civilized-neighbors while going through Islam’s basic, “hand-me-down” religious-motions (e.g., “The Five Pillars”). What the “non-committed Islamists” need to remember is that their “committed Islamist”-kin will do them harm, too, once their numbers increase amid wiping us “infidels” out (a reminder that might scare them out of that ideology and/or cause them to be our staunchest allies).

    • Hi Jim,

      If I were to use the modifier, “committed,” then I’d just use “Muslim” as the word it modifies. What is gained by saying “committed Islamist”? To me that term would reinforce the idea that there is a viable form of Islam that’s peaceful, which isn’t true, even though there are many peaceful individuals who call themselves “Muslim.”

      • Please forgive my groping for the exact words, Ms. Peikoff. My only point is that there is one Islam (which is bad) but many degrees by which its adherents can choose to go before crossing a line into incivility (an inevitability if one chooses to follow Islam consistently). If such adherents of Islam choose merely give charity, pray, visit Mecca and otherwise do what every other American essentially does (e.g., work, pay taxes, watch football on TV, etc.), then I fail to see how labeling their inconsistency negates the premise that there is only one Islam (which is bad). But I will always consider your thoughts because you are a very intelligent, highly educated person whom I greatly respect.

        • My whole post can be described as groping for the exact words 🙂

          My goal is to find the term(s) that allow us to think and communicate properly about this enemy, which is why I’m challenging and questioning the various proposals offered. And with respect to your proposal, my only point was that I might use “Committed Muslim” or I might use “Islamist,” but would not use “Committed Islamist,” because it seems that two modifications are not necessary where one will probably do the trick.

  14. Thanks. Now I see your point. Happy groping…

  15. Hussein

    Thanks, Amy, for the thoughts. I have been studying Rand’s works and read almost all of it, including Atlas Shrugged twice.

    I grew up in a Muslim country and am a practicing Muslim. I am an individualist and a rationalist. These two supersede any “belief” not based on reality and rational analysis. My practice emanates from my sense of individual choices, for I whatever I do or however I behave is is based on individual choices I make not because others say I should. That individualism and belief in free-will doesn’t conflict with my faith.

    I disagree with individuals like Spencer on his understanding of what “Islam” is. The Quran is full of verses emphasizing choice, free-will and individual judgement as preconditions to to everything in Islam. Those who wish to kill us ignore or completely dismiss these preconditions. To me they are *not* Muslim, but I am. That is “Islam”. Spencer have simply not studied Islam well enough, or, worse, choices not to study it well enough.

    That’s also why I take issue with Fawstin’s statement: ‘Imagine, if during past wars, we used terms such as “Radical Nazism”, “Extremist Shinto” and “Militant Communism”. Those who use terms other than “Islam” create the impression that it’s some variant of Islam that’s behind the enemy that we’re facing.’ There is *no* variant of Islam that’s behind the enemy that we’re facing. The enemy took a creature that has nothing to do with Islam and called it “Islam”.

  16. Edward Cline

    I had to retire for the evening and left the discussion; it was nearly midnight here on the east coast.

    “Stripped of its religious garb” was another way of saying: Islam examined in its fundamentals is totalitarian. One could just as well say: Shriners, minus their rituals and fezzes and costumes, are just a bunch of Americans, or Masons, stripped of their rituals and aprons and hocus pocus, are just a collection of clubbers. One could just as well substitute Allah in Islam with the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy; it’s still mysticism. The religious element of Islam, because it is mystical, discourages examination by most Muslims. They’re not permitted to examine it, but must accept any and all assertions in the Koran on faith. Only mullahs and imams are permitted to “examine” Islamic doctrine to develop their sophistry. Yes, basically, I meant that Islam stripped of its religious garb is a totalitarian ideology. One can’t take Allah out of Islam and the creed still remain Islam; one would be left with a generic system of faith and any deity could fill Allah’s place. But it would still be totalitarian and still require belief without evidence, and also require force to compel conformance. What was it that Toohey said to Keating in The Fountainhead? Fight the system that slaughters the individual with the system that slaughters the individual? Heads the totalitarians win, tails the totalitarians win.

    I can’t give an instance of qualifying the term “Islam.” As a rule, I don’t qualify Islam or grant it any reservations or exceptions. It is such an insidious and complete system for subjugating the individual that it deserves no qualification. Nor do I grant Communists or Progressives any reservations. If I use the term “Islamist” it’s just a shorthand way of referring to a proselytizing Muslim.

    “Moderate Muslims” are potential “Islamists,” that is, potential activist Muslims. That is, they don’t go door to door like Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses soliciting conversion to their faith, but they are prepared to advance the faith through violence or taqiyya. As I emphasized in my first comments, a “moderate Muslim” is a contradiction in terms, just as a “moderate Nazi” is a contradiction in terms. In that respect, I agree with Bosch. As with Nazism and Fascism, in Islam one can’t pick and choose which tenet or plank in the ideology one will observe and respect to the cost of other tenets or planks. It’s all or nothing.

    One can’t credibly meld rationality with mysticism without producing gibberish. One or the other element of such “moderation” must in the end win out over the other: reason or mysticism. In the meantime, before that happens, mysticism benefits from being temporarily allied with reason. Reason certainly doesn’t benefit from being allied with non-reason. For instance, look at Ron Paul and his son Rand Paul, who claim to be admirers of Ayn Rand’s philosophy but who are anti-abortionists and who make outrageous statements about foreign policy. I cringe every time one of them opens his mouth, because they both give Ayn Rand’s philosophy a bad name. They aren’t exemplars of Objectivism; rather, they are prime examples of “moderation.”

  17. The book, “Satan’s Trinity: Hitler, Stalin & Muhammad, is available at For the first time in history “HSM” appear together on a book cover. The idea behind the book is to make headway against the ludicrous idea that Muhammad should be conjoined with any religious leader/founder. This book uses the specific names of Hitler and Stalin to efficiently identify the nature of Muhammad and by extension Islam. It compares the personalities and approach of each man to such categories as; war, peace, sex, torture, slavery, women, their respective childhoods and deaths, the critical affects of geography and timing, each man’s anti-social and narcissistic personalities.

    • Anything to add to the discussion of the topic of this post? True, Mohammad was probably the worst religious leader/founder ever, but that doesn’t mean Islam isn’t a religion, or religious worldview, as Burgess would say.

  18. John C. Barile

    The ideology of orthodox Islam is totalitarian and essentially unitary. One Supreme Legislator and Sovereign, one deen, one umma. Translated into practice, this belief-system is expressed either by the Muslim at your throat, or by the Muslim at your feet, so to speak–this is heterodox Islam. One expression or praxis is dominant and dominating; the other is acquiescent and accommodating. Orthopractic, Salafic Islam is our enemy in this cosmic, all-or-nothing war; this struggle; this conflict; or this jihad if you will.

    The counter-jihadist’s task is to set the terms for this engagement, to enlist the help of Muslim self-interest, and to discredit, shame, and disarm orthodox Islam itself.

    As I see it,

  19. John C. Barile

    As I see it, the key to the resolving this never-ending war, Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations, is to break Islam down by its own miserable hand, to shatter its brittle shell of seeming unity and strength by internal dissolution; by the force of reason acting upon ossified Islam’s self-contradiction; by proving Islam false, irrational, and repellant.

    I think I’m stating something obvious, or at least intuitively grasped.

    . . . thus proving Islam false, irrational, and repellent.

  20. Bill Enlow

    If what most of you are saying is true, then the Jews would have flocked in droves to Europe during the middle ages. At that time most of them thought they were better off in a Muslim land than a Christian land. And if you knew your history, you would know why. They are having more trouble in Muslim lands today than they are in Christian lands these days because of the new state of Isreal. But even as we speak, there are still Jewish communities in Iran and Iraq and probably a few other Muslim nations though I admit I haven’t checked into it too closely. So to equate Islam with Nazism is pure bunk.

    Amy asked me, do I know the history of Isreal? Well it’s a long history and it goes back a long way. But here’s a brief outline…I know that after the Romans demolished the last of ancient Isreal, the Jewish leadership at the time vowed never to return to Zion. No effort was made by the Jews to return until around the 19th century when a French Jew by the name of Dreyfus (not sure if I spelled that right) founded Zionism. (not sure if I got his name or his nationality right). But the point is Zionism orginated in the western Christian lands and not the eastern Muslim lands. Why? I won’t go into that here, but the reason is sort of already here. Palestine was a British colony then and as the Jews began their trek back to Zion the Brits were…well were they happy about it or not? It’s hard to tell, but the officer corp of the British military seems to have sided with the Arabs. The Arabs suddenly began to hate Jews more than the Brits. So the Brits may have just done that to help them get along with the majority of the native population. But even after World War Two, the bitterness and hatred felt by the Zionist toward the British exceeded that of their hatred toward the Germans and the Nazis. It seemed to me that way anyway after reading books like Exodus.

    Now Hitler gave something to the Jews that they were going to need to establish the new state of Isreal. JUSTIFICATION. Why would Isreal need that when no other nation has to justify itself? Well, it has something to do with that deal the ancient Jewish leadership made back after the Romans sacked ancient Isreal for the last time. Such justification is something Christians understand or should understand, but it’s understandable why Muslims have trouble understanding this. It’s been noted by their critics that they still live in the past. For us moderns, the ancient world is as dead as Hitler. So the Jews were going to need something else to get that state and that was a vote from Stalin. He gave it to them thinking Isreal was going to be a Marxist state. He had good reason to think it was going to be a Marxist state. He probably felt a little betrayed by them toward the end of his life and that’s why he ordered a purge. But God wouldn’t allow a second holocaust so Stalin died before it really began. Today, the modern Isrealis have turned their back on their Marxist roots. They see where the power comes from.

  21. Keenan Nichols

    I don’t think it is really proper to come up with a new term. The description I use is Muslim-In-Name-Only. There are not any would-be-moderate or non-Muslim Muslims. They either are Muslims or they are not. I don’t see it morally proper to give any “rhetorical space.” Islam teaches “kill Keenan.” A Muslim is a person who believes in Islam; Islam teachs to conquer and kill. A Muslim-In-Name-Only does not believe in Islam.

    A Muslim-In-Name-Only is either with us and becomes an apostate, or against us. By remaining Muslim-In-Name-Only they continues to support Islam and Muslims. They are not innocent.

    ( I look forward to reading all the previous comments. I have not done so yet. )

  22. At first I thought I preferred “Fundamentalist Muslims” because it matches the term “Fundamentalist Christians”, and has the same essential meaning. To those outside of Christian fundamentalism, a “Fundamentalist Christian” is a Bible-thumping, literal-interpreting nutcase who wants to take over America and impose his beliefs on all of us, whereas a non-fundamentalist is a more enlightened, modern person who takes his Bible verses with a grain of salt. Also, the Left (correctly) loathes fundamentalist Christians, so some of them might come to understand that they should feel the same way about fundamentalist Muslims. However, the danger I see here is that the reason people hate fundamentalism has nothing to do with the ideology in question, but the fact that the ideology (ANY ideology) is being held to steadfastly and consistently; the fundamentalist is considered a nutcase not because of his beliefs, but because he is certain of his beliefs. So perhaps using “Fundamentalist” is reinforcing something we don’t want to reinforce.

  23. Talal

    how many of you have read the Quran, Hadith, and Sira? and by which authors? (I mean all 3 not just one of them). Robert Spencer’s literary works don’t count.

  24. Edward Cline

    Talal: I detect a note of hostility in your query. I’m certain that many who post on the subject of “Islam by any other name” have read all three. Others have read the Koran, as I have, and sampled the Hadith. In fact, a copy of the Koran sits on my reference shelf next to a King James Bible, together with books on astrology, theosophy, and other tomes of mysticism. Also on that shelf is a copy of Mein Kampf and the works of Houston Chamberlain, a noted American racist and proselytizer. But you seem to be implying that if one hasn’t read the Koran and its companion documents, and by authors you approve of, then one shouldn’t venture a position or an opinion on Islam.

    I will point out that most of the commentators here lead productive, time-consuming lives, and cannot devote fulltime careers to studying Islam or any other nefarious ideologies. They rely on others to distill those ideological systems. This is a division of intellectual labor. There is no good reason to disregard Robert Spencer’s works, or the works of any other pro-freedom critic of Islam. When nothing but bad or negative news reaches one’s ear about Islam, it is natural for others who don’t have the time, to then read Spencer or Ali Hirsi or Ibn Warraq. And freedom of speech includes going out and purchasing the Islamic documents they and others refer to. Factor in also the time spent on following and critiquing other political and cultural trends in this country that have little or nothing to do with Islam, and the typical reader and poster here has a full plate of concerns. If one has a grasp of the essentials of Islam, is there any reason to become a certified authority on the subject? No. None of us is seeking a chair in Islamic Studies with any university.

    So, what’s your point?

    I daresay I have been studying Islam since at least 1980, when I wrote a novel about the Islamic incursion in the United States, “We Three Kings,” long before such terms as “Jihad,” “kaffir,” and “taqiyya” entered anyone else’s lexicon, and so am probably the oldest student of the subject here.

    • Talal

      My point in asking if anyone here has read all 3, is that the Quran is not in context like other religious writings, the Hadith and Sira together provide the context. My issue with Robert Spencer is that he distorts the religion to quite a degree. After reading all three I’ve come to the conclusion that the religion is empty.

      • Edward Cline

        Talal: What do you mean, that the Koran “is not in context like other religious writings”? From my reading of the Koran, it is a jumble of anecdotes (some bloody, some boring, some banal), of belligerent injunctions, a grab-bag of fire-and-brimstone moral imperatives from a tribalistic and primitive perspective, and the idolization of a brutal barbarian, Mohammad – among other things. That’s a pretty big context, and it doesn’t differ much from the Old Testament in content and style. The Koran itself is a playbook for conquest. Sharia law is derived from its alleged “principles,” and it’s Sharia law that poses the danger to Western culture and freedom. So, the Koran isn’t quite empty. One could just as well say that Nazism is “empty” – but there was enough emotional appeal in it to launch conquest, the murders of millions, and a world war. I recently watched “El Cid,” and early in the film Ben Yosuf (played by Herbert Lom), the Berber leader who wished to re-conquer Spain, delivers a speech to the “moderate” Muslims who had begun to investigate science, develop medicine, create literature – in Spain – the so-called “golden age” of Islam. (This is historically accurate.) He exhorted them to forget all that and “turn poets into warriors” for the glory of Allah, and urge doctors to develop poisons with which to kill Christians. First Spain must be conquered, he shouted, then the world. Whoever wrote the screenplay (I forget his name at the moment) understood Islam back in the 1950’s. What do we hear today? The same thing. And it all comes from the Koran.

  25. I was raised in a very strict fundamentalist christian household. Given the mystic bent of my family and community, I was interested in religion in general having always had the question: how do I know that this religion is true as opposed to another? Do not all these one-god religions condemn one another as false? Even while young, I was able to reason that, if any one were entirely true, the others must be false since they claim exclusive truth. Therefore, the majority of religions would be false any way one looks at it…if modern human belief is the standard.

    The fundamentalism of our religion prescribed daily reading of the Bible and we gathered multiple times a week for study. The violence in the Bible was extremely disconcerting and I asked myself how the god of the Bible, seeming so much like a petty and petulant child who commits murder every time he is offended, could possibly be the creator of the universe? The Bible is a disgusting and offensive work: slavery, infanticide, genocide, must I go on? But many christians seem blissfully unaware of the vileness in their “holy book”. The reason is that many churches focus on other passages more suitable to their liking and avoid passages of extreme lunacy.

    Consequently, I looked into other religions and read some portions of their books. Since this conversation is about Islam, I will limit myself to that topic which is not to say that they are the only religion that promotes violence. I have read much of the Quran and parts of the Hadith. Then I threw them in the trash (that same place my Bible went). To deny that the Quran and Hadith promotes violence against non-Muslims is just untrue. Granted, many muslims might go to mosques that gloss over the violence or focus on other texts. So that possibility must be considered. Others choose to interpret their religion in different ways (much as christians have done).

    That having been said, I do not believe in blood guilt. Muslims and christians should not be held responsible for what their ancestors have done, just as I do not hold against christians the historical facts which stand against their ancestors. After all, to hold it against them would be dreadfully close to racism, I say that it essentially IS racist (many popular ideas are based on blood guilt). HOWEVER, if a person chooses to promote the evil actions of their ancestors, then they become guilty…though, I repeat, they are not guilty by virtue of their being born to a perpetrator or the great grandson of a perpetrator twenty times removed. Therefore, we must look at the situation from the view of “now”: those who are alive and that which they choose to do.

    Modern christians do not promote crusades, they do not organize military action from within the church, they do not control the levers of power in government and they do not support fellow christians who kill their neighbors. Accusations that the United States is run by the religious are ridiculous (at the moment, at least). That is truly grasping. I am familiar with all of the arguments, but to debate that is outside the scope of this comment.

    On the other hand, many muslims do promote jihad, many organize military action from within mosques, they do control the levers of power in certain countries and where they don’t, that is because there are secular dictators to stop them. Behold the rise of militant Islam in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya. Is the average Muslim against the rise of militant Islam? Many openly support it…MANY. And others say they are against it but on further questioning, it becomes obvious that they are just not for it, but they are not against it either. In other cases, they justify it by pointing out all the deeds of their opponents (an egregious case of blood guilt) and haughtily declare that they must support it to defend themselves from aggressors. There are a few against it. But they are afraid to speak out for fear of their lives. The few who do speak out (precious few) DO live in fear of their lives.

    The difference between the western christian world and the muslim world is that, in the christian world, if a lunatic or group of lunatics gets it into their head to assault or kill another person, our secular law enforcement swoops in to arrest them (kill them if necessary) and the people CHEER IT ON. In the muslim world, if a lunatic or group of lunatics does the same, they get money from the government, their family gets a house, they get their face on a billboard, the people celebrate their murder…and all those who are against it: the can’t say a damn word because too many of their neighbors support it, their government supports it and if they dare come out against it, they do so at risk of their lives.

    So for us living our comfortable relatively free lives in the west who decry muslims, before we do that, we might want to consider the impossible position of the innocent muslims (and there are many many innocent muslims, largely women…but again I digress)…we must consider the impossible position of those innocent muslims and refrain from condemning them for they are the most miserable victims of all. Consider the draconian system in which they live and ask yourself how cautious you should be in making sure that we do not victimize a victim (if we can help it).

    That having been said, we must confront the enemy, which is Islam. I often do so, and I have friends who are muslim. What is true of the group is not necessarily true of the individual and I do condemn Islam but I do not condemn an individual muslim until I see that they intentionally promote those evil actions which I abhor. The real enemy here are the political regimes in those countries and the enemy is Islam.

    Unfortunately, I see that the people in those countries, when they have democracy, seem to be too much in favor of murderous Islamists. If the young cannot put them down (and they are trying!), those countries will fall under Islamic tyranny and I expect that they will foment a massive world war. And in such a context, innocence is no longer a consideration: all that remains is war.

    That is how I see it.

  26. How about “westernized Muslims” for those that aren’t trying to kill us, or better yet, “westernized ‘Muslims'”? That way “Muslim”, is the word for those that truly believe in Islam, and the peaceful believers get a qualifier, just like “pseudo-intellectual” or “holiday Christian”.

  27. Bill Enlow

    It looks like it’s going to be a matter of separating good people from bad people. 9/11 was committed by a few dozen guys with box cutters. So the perpetrators could have been associated with any number of groups, including Randian Capitalist. The perpetrator of the anthrax attacks that soon followed 9/11 was likely an adherent of Rand. He aimed his attacks at postal workers, and other government employees, as well as liberal politicians. A highly competitive dog eat dog capitalist society where the slower more thoughtful introspective types are eliminated requires constant war. You don’t want thoughtful introspective types in the slave class, because obviously they can stir up trouble. You need a coordinated, physically fit group of people to make up your slave class. As one commentator noted concerning the disproportionate numbers of African Americans in the NBA. “Looks like we created a master race.”

    • Any evidence for your assertions re: the anthrax attacks? More importantly, have you read Atlas Shrugged and the Koran, to figure out which one actually calls for or condones violence? According to Objectivism, the initiation of force is evil. The later verses of the Koran, by contrast, say the initiation of force is permissible or even encouraged, if necessary to spread Islam. One more comment like this and you’re banned, Bill. You should know better.

      • Bill Enlow

        Yes, I’ve read Atlas Shrugged and a number of other of Rand books. I haven’t read the Koran and probably never will. I tend to agree with what Brian said in the first half of his last post concerning ancient religious texts. As for as the anthrax attacker, his targets were those your group would like to see disposed of. So he was something of a surrogate for your cause. The inflammatory rhetoric against big government and high taxes sets people like that off and they go on a murderous rampage. Your side doesn’t have to take responsibility for it.

        • That is a bumbling attempt to censor your opponents and smear their character. Was that rant intended as an argument or a character assassination? Speaking of assassination, if you want to argue in that manner, then so-called liberals would have to take responsibility for the assassination of Pim Fortuyn.

        • From what I gather, the anthrax attacker sought to profit from his patent on his anthrax vaccine and was otherwise not politically motivated.

          Even if he was politically motivated, simply because two groups have the same opponent and one acts violently, does not mean that the “rhetoric” of the other group is somehow responsible.

          On what basis is objectivism being blamed for the anthrax attacks? There is no argument here. The sentences are so twisted up, I am unsure which fallacy has been committed: fallacy of composition, fallacy of division, a mixture of both? Is this a violation of the law of identity? It is hard to conceive even what you might mean? Can you offer some evidence that objectivism is responsible for the anthrax attacker’s actions? Or have you stated it all with that loose correlation (which could be said about anything and actually represents no evidence at all).

          This latest round of leftists shrieking things like “the debate is over” and pronouncing their enemies guilty of crimes as a consequence of their rhetoric is the most damning evidence of their intent to impose their will on others by force. When “the debate is over”, when “rhetoric” leads to crime, then nothing remains except a fist. And THAT is not only uncivil but it is unworthy of respect in civil society.

        • Where does this come from? “…his targets were those your group would like to see disposed of.”

          That assumption is a bit unnerving, given that objectivism never talks about “disposing of” anybody. Can you provide any evidence to justify that comment?

          At minimum, this argument looks to be an equivocation on the phrase “disposed of”.

          Bill: prove me wrong with actual evidence and explain why, if your line of reasoning is true, liberals should not be held responsible for their inflammatory rhetoric leading up to the assassination of Pim Fortuyn.

  28. Bill Enlow

    I have read Atlas Shrugged, The Fountain Head, We The Living, Anthem, and a number of her other books. I know what Ayn Rand said. I have not read the Koran and have no plans to read the Koran. I’m sure there are probably a number of places in the Koran where God says to kill all the heathens. It’s in our Bible too, both old and new testament. Please don’t ask me to look it up. I have read the Bible and it’s a tedious read: Unlike Atlas Shrugged, which I do admit was a lot of fun. But I would have done just as well to read The Little Red Hen, if I had wanted to save time and get the main gist. As to :”Any evidence for your assertions re: the anthrax attack?” Well, just look at who his targets were. They’re the same as yours. True, he probably never read Rand and probably didn’t even know who she was. But you can be a Christian without ever having picked up a Bible. Ask a fundamentalist Christian. So there is no doubt that violent man was your surrogate. Your side whips people up into a frenzy with hysterical rhetoric about big government and income taxes, knowing that this is going to cause some poor sod, who just wants to be your hero, your John Galt, to go pick up a rifle and kill a bunch of people at the post office, or the abortion clinic. I know what Ayn Rand said about abortion, but there is a reason I have included it here and I think you’re smart enough to know why. But the main point here is, nobody but the poor sod has to take responsibility for the violence. He’s done your dirty work for you by evoking terror into the hearts of those who have the audacity to call themselves liberal. And like Ponchus Pilot, you get to wash your hands clean of the whole affair. Now I’m enjoying this so I hope you don’t ban me from the blog. I try to be careful not to offend anyone. But if you want to censore me, that’s your call.

  29. (That was a response to Bill)

    • Bill Enlow

      Right Brian, you are not responsible for the crimes of those who I merely perceive to be your surrogates. I wouldn’t want you to go to prison for what are clearly their crimes. But I hope you can understand why I do perceive such criminals to be your surrogates. Self preservation was not created by the intellect. It’s just there. Animals have it and as an Atheist it shouldn’t be hard for you to see that you are part animal. If you feel threatened enough you are going to get violent, no matter how much you may hate violence. My biggest problem with Randian Capitalism is it causes incredible desperation in people whose only crime is they can’t score at what amounts to a stupid game, a game that depends on government to make the rules and enforce them. The safety nets which you people despise are designed to keep good people from descending into animals. If the government gets to decide that people are bad just because they can’t jump over somebody else’s silly private sector hurdle, you’ve got National Socialism on your hands. I’ve got to go here in a minute and I won’t be back for a couple of days. Hope I’m still on the blog when I get back. Very interesting discussion. Like your hat.

  30. Joe D

    The term radical muslim is redundant; and the term moderate muslim is an oxymoron.

  31. I prefer the word “criminal” (singular), or “organized criminal gang” (plural), for those intent on resorting to the violation of individuals’ life, liberty, or property.

    For the rest, I prefer: peaceful morons.

  32. I want to add that I am friends with a number of “muslim” women form Iran. It might be useful to make a distinction because they are often nothing like their male counterparts and nothing like their culture. The women tend to be smart and resentful of the men, but terribly abused to the point where they find it difficult to function while at home. But while they are away from the influence of the men, things change and they get angry. The situation is very complicated.

    I fear over-simplification of the situation. There ARE differences between groups of muslims and those differences must be exploited if we intend to win an ideological war. Rhetoric can be useful, but if we want our words to reflect reality, we should make distinctions.

    My experience in the company of muslims has shown me (implicitly) that there is one thing that the entire muslim world fears: their women getting self-esteem.

  33. How about the term “Applied Islam”?
    “I am convinced, based on the evidence I’ve seen, that there is nothing that rises to the level of an ideology that is held by those self-labeled Muslims who do not wish to destroy us and our way of life.”
    I would say that there is nothing that rises to the level of an ideology that is held by most people alive today. I can’t recall where, but didn’t Ayn Rand once write that in the battle of ideas most people are ballast. Some of these people are worth trying to communicate with, so terms like rational self-interest are useful; especially when, following the use of the term, one quickly points out that it is, in fact, redundant.
    I like the term Applied Islam. Islam is a wrong set of ideas. Our enemies are those spreading these ideas who we can fight by spreading the right ideas. Our enemies are also those attempting to apply these ideas to the real world who we should fight by answering their force with overwhelming retaliatory or preemptive force.

    If Islam went away tomorrow we would still be stuck with Christianity. We have the “church on Sunday” folks who are ballast leaning the wrong way, but many of whom are worth communicating with. We also have the “Applied Christianity” folks who would initiate violations of Individual Rights (a redundant but useful term).

  34. Talal

    what about traditionalists vs the rationalists

  35. Paddy Turnipwagon

    How about orthodox islam? Or orthodox muslim?

  36. (Because the comment box will not allow italicized words, I have used capital letters instead to denote emphasis).

    The adjectives CONSISTENT and INCONSISTENT are adequate qualifiers to differentiate between Muslims who are actively working to destroy life, liberty, happiness, the good, and America from Muslims who are not—I see no reason to create a new concept (separate from ISLAM or MUSLIM) or add a qualifier like “Fundamentalist” to denote either category. A CONSISTENT Muslim is one who lives in accordance with the dictates of Islam (i.e., uses force against infidels). An INCONSISTENT Muslim is one who accepts some decrees of Islam, reject others, and—most importantly—refrains from using force against infidels (i.e., is civilized and able to coexist among free men).

    Because Americans were never betrayed by their political leaders during the Nazi threat and made to believe that Nazism was a “German workers’ party of peace” (as they have about Islam), there was no need to differentiate between the consistent and inconsistent practitioners of Nazism: the threat and the proper response was uncontroversial. It is only because America has been deceived about the true nature of Islam that the issue of identifying consistent and inconsistent practitioners arises. If Islam was properly understood by the culture at large as a movement that requires the killing of infidels, there would be no need to explain the phenomenon of Muslims who do not initiate force against others: it would be obvious to any observer that said Muslims are not true practitioners of Islam (as it is obvious to anyone who understands the connection between faith and force). Because it has become necessary to underscore the fact that being Muslim demands the use of force, so have these qualifiers—they restore the term‘s objective meaning.

    Observe that the term CONSISTENT to qualify Nazis during the Second World War would have been redundant: Americans understood—at least implicitly—the propriety (i.e., objectivity) of calling Nazis by their known name WITHOUT acknowledging those who adhered to, but were inconsistent with, the movement. In other words, even if one finds inconsistent Nazis who do not shove Jews into gas chambers and do not seek world domination by force, this fact is irrelevant when identifying Nazism as a threat—the inconsistent practitioners do not represent the NATURE of the movement. (The same applied to Shintoism—there was never a need to differentiate between kamikaze pilots and inconsistent practitioners of Shinto.)

    In short, ISLAM or MUSLIM are valid terms when referring to the threat America faces and, if one finds it necessary to differentiate between those who are faithful to the ideology from those who are not, their appropriate qualifiers (CONSISTENT or INCONSISTENT) are sufficient—this is the only way to prevent whitewashing of the terms. Never let inconsistent Muslims evade the fact that Islam demands the use of force by pretending—as they do—they believe in a religion of peace.

    I believe a similar (although reverse) process occurs with the concepts of SELF-INTEREST and RIGHTS: because their objective meanings had been adulterated by bad philosophy, Ayn Rand found it necessary to qualify each concept with the words RATIONAL and INDIVIDUAL respectively. Moreover, I disagree with the notion that Ayn Rand primarily added these qualifiers to facilitate clear communication with those who were unfamiliar with her philosophy (although this is a secondary benefit). From her writings, I surmise her fundamental motivation was to reclaim these concepts and restore their objective meaning.

    Finally, I question the legitimacy of attempting to create a new concept (or adding qualifiers that evade the issue of CONSISTENCY) for the sake of granting “rhetorical space” to inconsistent Muslims: if one wants to give “rhetorical space”—in any true sense of that phrase—to inconsistent Muslims, it is sufficient to invite them to participate in blog posts, attend panel discussions, take part in interviews, etc.. In other words, free speech gives as much “rhetorical space” as anyone needs or deserves—granting “rhetorical space” cannot be achieved by, nor does it justify, the creation of a new concept or the adulteration of valid ones.

  37. Amy,

    Thanks for taking the time to analyze this issue. My two cents: when one chooses to associate with a certain ideology, one lends it considerable moral and practical support through that simple association, even if no overt actions are taken afterwards to further its cause. All individuals who, in spite of the evidence of its evil, choose to continue to call themselves Muslim are our enemies just as much as those who strap on bombs to themselves and try to blow us up. Without the former, the latter wouldn’t be possible.

    Fernando Villamar

  38. I echo the agreement with the term “Islamist” in preference to other terms that appear to segment the Muslim community into different sects, but I disagree that Islam isn’t an ideology as well as a religion. I think you’re defining the term too narrowly. Quoting Ayn Rand as Burgess did,

    ““A political ideology is a set of principles aimed at establishing or maintaining a certain social system; it is a program of long-range action, with the principles serving to unify and integrate particular steps into a consistent course.”

    Or even quoting any dictionary like Wiki,

    i·de·ol·o·gy/ˌīdēˈäləjē/ Noun:
    A system of ideas and ideals, esp. one that forms the basis of economic or political policy: “the ideology of republicanism”.
    The ideas and manner of thinking of a group, social class, or individual.

    I’m at a loss to understand how Islam isn’t an ideology. Doesn’t it prescribe a set of principles aimed at establishing and maintaining a certain social system? Doesn’t it advocate long-range action? Yes, it weaves in a strong religious element, but I think Islam can only be understood as both religion and ideology, however anti-conceptual and disintegrated that ideology is. A religion doesn’t define a social system per se, though many do provide existential guidance (Ten Commandments, etc). The focus is on the supernatural and spiritual. So when you encounter a religion which advocates a social system, right down the the details of how you subjugate the Kafir in all its gory detail, what term do you use? I think “ideology” has to be that term.

    • Edward Cline

      I second Robb’s observation. And to emphasize the AR quotation:
      ““A political ideology is a set of principles aimed at establishing or maintaining a certain social system; it is a program of long-range action, with the principles serving to unify and integrate particular steps into a consistent course” – I would stress the role of force in that “program of long-range action.” The Islamic religion is the “moral” foundation or “social system,” the caliphate or state is the vehicle of force or enforcement of Sharia. Islam can maintain its hegemony only with force. That makes Islam an ideology first, a religion second, quite the opposite of capitalism, also an ideology, but whose political nature governs the use of force by the state.

    • Paddy Turnipwagon


      Of course it’s an ideology. It’s a totalitarian ideology wrapped in a religious facade: more dangerous than communism or nazism. Because it wraps itself in religion, this totalitarian ideology becomes a veritable wolf in sheep’s clothing. (Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves (Gospel of Matthew 7:15 – King James Version))

  39. Paul Blair

    I’ve heard the phrase “cafeteria-Christians used by some to delineate those who wear the label Christian by choice, but aren’t true adherents to all the dogma in the ‘Book’.

  40. I’m a little late to the party a week after you posted your essay, but I’m wondering if we need a special term for Islamic dominance at all, if this idea is part of Islam in its preachings. Personally, I prefer “Islamic Totalitarianism” for those Muslims wanting to take over the world by force, but I certainly do not mean to minimize the evil of Islam by putting that modifier after the term. I think any single term, like “Islamicism” or “Islamists” seeks to detract from the actual ideology of Islam, whether or not it is consistently practiced by most Muslims or not. Maybe not all Germans and may even not all Nazis wanted to kill us during World War II, but the ideology had to be killed off, and so calling it something else is ineffective. Similarly, calling it anything other than Islam seeks to defray from the fact that it is an evil ideology that needs to be defeated — by reason and by force so long as they seek to kill us.

  41. factsnotwishes

    Consider that “selfishness” is a concept of the good that is widely regarded as evil within the culture. It’s much the same with “rights,” except that the term is not necessarily well understood (examples: New Deal-era characterization of “freedom from fear”; the non-concept of “human rights”; the non-concept of “civil rights.”). It could be argued that adding modifiers to distinguish selfishness and rights is an attempt to draw out what Objectivism holds to be the good. And this would be a legitimate educational effort in this culture.

    I think that effort is to be distinguished from “___ Islam.” Islam is a virulent form of totalitarianism. To try to identify some concept of “moderation” or even (more narrowly but perhaps more meaningfully) “non-violent form of” within Islam is to invite some dumbing down of a concept that is, wholeheartedly, the evil. To the extent that there are non-violent Muslims to whom we wish to address ourselves, it can only be because they reject Islam. Period. If they don’t, then the best that can be said for those folks is “non-violent … up to now.” Islam is far, far too rabid an ideology to be reconciled to something better. We should then stick with “Islam” and “Muslims” and not try to find the good where it isn’t.

    • Someone named Bill Enlow just tried to post a reply, and in it said that Objectivism calls for “non-systematic extermination” of people who don’t share the same ideas. Of course Objectivism says that the initiation of force is evil, so how you “exterminate” someone without initiating force, I have no idea. He also threw in some anti-semitic remarks. Spammed.

      • Edward Cline

        Amy: Enlow’s remarks came to my email automatically and I was practically floored by the malice in them, their utter irrationality, and, as you remark here, their virulently anti-semitic tone — which is odd, because he obviously equates Objectivism with Nazism, and disapproves of both. Go figure. Or not. Well, Gail Wynand didn’t have time to examine bedbugs, either.

      • His remarks landed in my email box as well. Amy’s quote very well sums up what he said. No misquote there!

        Thank you for blocking him. You were more than gracious and gave him the benefit of the doubt repeatedly. I would not have wanted to continue getting messages like that in my email.

        That was the worst vitriol I have seen in years.

  42. Edward Cline

    I just received what is probably the last response from Enlow, who said that he won’t be posting here anymore, and that Amy misquoted him. and that he didn’t mean what he wrote. Well, there’s the psychology of a bedbug for you. He also didn’t understand the term “spammed.” How can one work on a computer and not know the meaning of that term? Anyway…on to more important things….

  43. Edward Cline

    Thank you, Amy.

  44. Talal

    how about cultural muslims or muslims by name only (MBNO)

  45. factsnotwishes

    I think my avatar and bill enlow’s were somehow mixed up. I am not nearly so octagonal, pink, cranky, and nearsighted. Okay, well, cranky maybe.

  46. My avatar is the most frightening of all.

  47. I‘ve concluded that a term like “fundamentalism” is an anti-concept created to smear and destroy the valid concept “integrity” (similar to the anti-concept “extremism“). “Fundamentalism” stands for a package-deal whose (approximately) defining characteristic—“strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles” (—is non-essential: it evades evaluation of the principles it refers to in its definition. Observe that a “Fundamentalist Muslim” is not denounced for the ideology he accepts (Islam)—he is instead primarily criticized for his strict adherence to it. But consistency to principles is good or evil depending on the nature of those principles—the term “fundamentalist” evades this fact.

    This is another reason why a qualifier like “Fundamentalist” should not be used when referring to an ideology that demands faith (and, therefore, force). It is best to call consistent adherents of religious ideologies by their proper names (e.g., Muslim, Christian, Catholic) and add the qualifier “inconsistent” when referring to individuals who are not faithfully committed to their own ideals (i.e., those who do not initiate force against others in the name of their religion).

    In the case of Islam (as I stated previously): a Muslim is one who lives in accordance with the dictates of Islam (i.e., uses force against infidels). An inconsistent Muslim is one who accepts some decrees of Islam, reject others, and—most importantly—refrains from using force against infidels (i.e., is civilized and able to coexist among free men).

    In contrast, using the phrase “Fundamentalist Muslim” (when referring to Muslims who use force against others) smears the concept “integrity” and sanitizes the concept “Muslim” by deceptively implying that Islam is a peaceful ideology that has been corrupted by “fundamentalism” (i.e., strict adherence to principles)—the alleged cause of the initiation of force. In fact, it is the nature of the principles of Islam that demands the initiation of force.

  48. Paddy Turnipwagon

    Muhammad told his followers before he died that Jihad was universal and eternal. In other words, there will never be peace until everyone submits to Islam. The liberal media classifies the Muslim Brotherhood as “moderate”. And they claim that Al Qaeda is “extremist”. Nevertheless, the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda share the same goal: Islamic domination of the entire earth, whether by violence or by immigration and overpopulation. Therefore, those actively involved in violent Jihad as their means of transforming society could be properly regarded as “aggressive Muslims”; and those who want to transform society by gradually overpopulating the non-Muslim population could be termed “passive/aggressive Muslims”. The term “moderate Muslim” is an oxymoron (because if you disagree with the Koran and the Sunna you are an apostate); and the term “radical Islam” is obviously redundant.

    • Edward Cline

      Paddy: It’s so nice to see that somone agrees with me without reservation or mincing words. Islam is Islam, and needs no qualifiers. “Radical” and “fundamentalist” Islam and similar terms are indeed oxymorons, or, put another way, redundant terms. Like the term, “free inquiry.” The venom of a brown recluse spider may be more toxic than that of a black widow, but does anyone differentiate between the consequences? Islam is venom to any individual, whether he is murdered in its name, or faithfully submits to it and thus short-circuits his mind.

  49. Pingback: “Hold Back the Rain,” TOMORROW at 3 p.m. ET (12 p.m. PT) | Don't Let It Go

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