A View From the Cheap Seats

August 27, 2008

Prophetic Truths – Part 2


By Rich Trzupek

It is often said, by opponents of America’s intervention in Iraq, that if we weren’t there, then Al Qaeda would not be fighting us. These critics are close to right, although they get the “there” part wrong. The answer, not surprisingly, can be traced back to Muhammed and the Quran.

As Robert Spencer points out in his book, “The Truth About Muhammed”, the prophet of Islam considered the Arabian peninsula God’s special place, the holiest of holies. He instructed his followers to expel non-believers (i.e., pagans, Hindus, Bhuddists – everyone who was not “of the book”) and to allow Christians and Jews to stay, but only if they agreed to be subjugated and pay a special tax to their Muslim masters.

Having spent some time in the desert kingdom, your humble correspondent can personally attest to the fact that westerners (along with Filipinos, Pakistanis, Indians, Africans – basically all non-Arabs) are looked down upon by many (but not all) Saudis in a way that would shock the sensibilities of genteel America.

What infuriated bin Laden, and his cronies in Al Qaeda, was the fact American soldiers, including shamelessly unveiled women for crying out loud, were hanging out in the holy kingdom, as part of the first war with Iraq. This was, according to the Quran, a sacrilege. This is why it became necessary to attack America. This is why airliners had to be flown into the World Trade Center. Because God said so. Because Muhammed told Muslims that God said so.

If one strictly interprets the Quran and Muhammed’s message, there is really no arguing with bin Laden’s point. From that point of view, it was justified. If the Quran is the word of God, then God unquestionably told Muslims to keep the Arabian peninsula “pure”, and America had unquestionably defiled it, according to the prophet’s definition.

If the Quran is the word of God, then God unquestionably told Muslims to fight and kill those who would defile Islam or question the words of its prophet. The plain truth is that bin Laden was not being unfaithful to Muhammed’s vision of Islam – he was following it, to the letter.

So no, Al Qaeda would not be fighting us – in Iraq – if we had not invaded that country. But they would be fighting us – somewhere – so long as we maintained a presence in Saudi Arabia. The question that critics of the Second Iraqi War find uncomfortable is a simple one: if they (Al Qaeda) are determined to fight us, would you rather have that fight in Iraq, or somewhere else?

Those of the Jewish faith are particularly reviled in the Quran, as the Prophet appeared to grow more and more frustrated with his inability to convert them. He enjoined his followers to fight with the Jews, to kill Jewish leaders who had insulted him, and cosign them to hell.

Is it any wonder, therefore, that Muslims in the Middle East are so violently anti-Semitic? Their founder set the stage. His is a unique, “divinely inspired” level of hatred and mistrust that is without parallel in the history of mainstream theology. When Hamas carries terror into the heart of Israel, they are not defying the Quran or Muhammed, they are rather being faithful to the teachings of God, as they believe those teachings to be.

Few, if any, of our leaders understand this. Few, if any, of our leaders have the courage to ask Muslims – be they “mainstream” or “maniacs” – whether or not they are willing to repudiate the most chilling parts of their holy book. They prefer not to discuss the issue, and it’s difficult not to believe that the reason why is that the answers would be too troubling.

The reason most often given for not answering such questions is something akin to “we don’t want to fan any flames”. This, Spencer asserts, is a policy at once dishonest and counter-productive. The flames already exist. By ignoring them, by pretending the key issues are not related to the core of the religion, we cast reform-minded Muslims adrift.

It is true that there are many Muslims who renounce terror privately, and even some who renounce it publicly. But how many Muslims dare renounce those portions of Islam that are – to western eyes – violent, bigoted, intolerant and sexist?

There is a significant difference, Spencer says, between a religion that challenges he who is without sin to cast the first stone, and one that calls for stoning as a punishment for adultery. (Stoning, as a punishment for adultery, is not proscribed in the Quran itself – which calls for whipping instead – but it is part of one of the most important hadiths).

Along with the “cowboy tradition” of American culture, there is another more humanistic, empathetic element of our culture that suggests, even demands, tolerance of other beliefs and systems of values. I would not decry this tradition. Indeed, I celebrate it. It is one of our strengths.

We have, historically and today, bent over backwards to extend this olive branch to a religion (Islam) that is, at its fundamental core, substantially (at best) and violently (at worst) opposed to the democratic, libertarian principles upon which this country was founded. We can not continue to ignore this simple, undeniable, truth.

Spencer’s book is not, as his critics assert, a call to arms. It may come to that, but it must not be so. Spencer’s book is an appeal for an honest discussion of what is necessary to make the peace that we all desire, with a religion that – at its core – demands surrender before peace is possible.

The sooner we come to grips with this simple truth, the better we all will be.

(For more information on this topic, may we suggest: www.jihadwatch.org, and, if you wish to support Muslims trying to break free of the fundamentalists and extremists: www.freemuslims.org).



  1. Brzezinski spawned Zia al Haq, Khomeini, and bin Laden. Carolignian Brzezinski wants to break up the superpowers using Aztlan and Kosovo. Brzezinski and Buchanan are winking anti-Semitic votes for Obama, deliver USA to Pope’s feudal basket of Bamana Republics. Talal got Pontifical medal as Fatima mandates Catholic-Muslim union against Jews (Francis Johnson, Great Sign, 1979, p. 126), Catholic Roger Taney wrote Dred Scott decision. John Wilkes Booth, Tammany Hall and Joe McCarthy were Catholics. Now Catholic majority Supreme Court. NYC top drop outs: Hispanic 32%, Black 25%, Italian 20%. NYC top illegals: Ecuadorean, Italian, Polish. Ate glis-glis but blamed plague on others, now lettuce coli. Their bigotry most encouraged terror yet they reap most security funds. Rabbi circumcizes lower, Pope upper brain. Tort explosion by glib casuistry. Bazelya 1992 case proves PLO-IRA-KLA links.

    Comment by Nikos Tanrousses — August 28, 2008 @ 4:46 pm | Reply

  2. Mr. Trzupek,

    I disagree with your and Spencer’s premise that we need to demand of Muslims “whether or not they are willing to repudiate the most chilling parts of their holy book.” If a Christian terrorist murders an abortionist because he feels compelled to do so by his religion we don’t demand that Christians repudiate the more blood-thirsty, violent passages of the Bible; we punish the terrorist because of his actions.

    The right to hold whatever beliefs you wish is central to the tradition that you – and I – celebrate. The question you propose, however, confirms the worst fear of many Muslims, that the war on terror is actually a war on Islam. In your column Tolerance (July 18, 2007) you made the excellent point that criticism or even ridicule of a set of beliefs does not equate to a lack of tolerance for those beliefs. In my opinion espousing the point of view that Muslims must change their beliefs – intead of only their behavior – steps over that line into intolerance.

    Mike Pajeau

    Comment by Mike Pajeau — August 28, 2008 @ 8:36 pm | Reply

  3. Let’s see here. The author claims to have visited Muslim lands. He’s also more than 6 years old; I can tell from his picture. No one would have the gall to dress their kid like that. Yet he only figured out now that he read some book that Islam is about as hate-filled as say the Klan (defend their belief system too Mike?)? Way to be the caboose on the clue-in train. Let’s hope no one tips him off on the non-existence of the Easter Bunny, or we’ll soon be suffering thru a five-part expose…

    Comment by Pubicus — August 29, 2008 @ 7:39 am | Reply

  4. I’m not defending the Muslim belief system (or the Klan’s, for that matter). I’m defending Muslims’ right to hold their belief system whether I agree with it or not. As soon as a Muslim or Klan member takes violent action he is liable – for the action, not for the belief. We don’t prosecute thoughtcrime.

    Comment by Mike Pajeau — August 29, 2008 @ 9:17 am | Reply

  5. Fair ‘nuf. But I can condemn the thoughts…and would be wrong not to. And what’s more, a big connection between the Klan and the allahites, besides the horrendous sense of fashion, is that their beliefs call for action. And it’s usually not pretty action.

    As for Christian terrorists; I’m glad you brought it up. You may note in the rare cases of Christian terrorism (discounting drunken Irishmen with explosives) that actual Christians will investigate, prosecute and punish the sick outsiders. Islam IS the religion of sick outsiders – is why you don’t see much self-policing there; compared to high-fiving in the streets when they successfully strap some explosives to a fellow followers child.

    Comment by Pubicus — August 29, 2008 @ 10:29 am | Reply

  6. And don’t be so quick to say thoughtcrime isn’t prosecuted. Go back a few weeks’ worth of columns and see what some of our neighbors to the north do when they aren’t good enough to play hockey.

    Comment by Pubicus — August 29, 2008 @ 10:31 am | Reply

  7. Mike, I appreciate the comments, first of all. Secondly, I don’t think anybody – even Pubicus – is suggesting that we prosecute thoughtcrime. Much the opposite in fact. I think that when writers like Mark Steyn, Robert Spencer, Danish cartoonists etc. point out the troubling things in the Quran and Islamofacsists respond with death threats and violence, our reaction should not be “we need to be more understanding”. If Muslims want to write nasty letters, or call for boycotts, etc. – fine. But when Ayatollahs issued fatwahs to kill Salmon Rushdi, they did so because that’s what the Quran demands. This is not OK, and more of us have to say that this is not OK.

    The Vatican issues encyclicals every three or four years telling Catholics that the Bible is not too be taken too literally. Is there any parallel in Islam? I have no problem with denouncing “an eye for an eye” in the Bible, and many other troubling passages. I can, because I don’t have to take the Good Book literally. I get to use my brain and my heart to figure it out. Islam does not give believers that option, and that’s a problem. Steyn, Spencer (and host of others, including me) are suggesting that we need to have open discussions – discussions, not arrests. What is wrong with that?

    Comment by trzupek — August 29, 2008 @ 10:37 am | Reply

  8. Pub — Off topic, but I posted your exchange with Poindexter at dirtyharrysplace.com (a beautiful flame is a terrible thing to waste). It was much appreciated, and one commenter opined that you had come up with the greatest handle in the history of handles.

    Oh, yeah. Regards, “Way to be the caboose on the clue-in train.”: pblllltttttt.

    Comment by trzupek — August 29, 2008 @ 12:19 pm | Reply

  9. Robert Spencer is an expert on Islam in the same sense that Adolf Hitler was an expert on Judaism.
    “It is often said, by opponents of America’s intervention in Iraq, that if we weren’t there, then Al Qaeda would not be fighting us.” No Cheap, that is not exactly what opponents of the Grand Oligarch Party’s invasion and occupation of Iraqi. Al Qaeda was not in Iraq before the oil industry proxy army invaded and what “often said” is that they would not be there at all if “we” were not there.
    Meanwhile the maniac who did orchestrate the attack on the US is still on the loose.

    Comment by Poindexter — September 11, 2008 @ 11:20 am | Reply

  10. First of all, I apologize for delaying my response for so long – home- & work-life intervened. Secondly, I agree that criticism of Islam should not be met with death threats & violence. I see nothing wrong with discussions about how to resolve our differences. Condemning beliefs that you feel are wrong or harmful must be allowed. I had interpreted the two Prophetic Truths columns and Pubicus’ comments as saying that Muslim beliefs should not be allowed to continue without forced modification. I withdraw my objection.

    To respond to a question in comment 7: I don’t know if there is an Islamic parallel to the Vatican’s encyclicals. While it couldn’t hurt, it scares & saddens me that it might be necessary. Mr. Tzrupek wrote, “… I don’t have to take the Good Book literally. I get to use my brain and my heart to figure it out.” Was it truly necessary for the Pope to say it was OK before Catholics could think critically about their faith? Is it truly necessary for some Islamic authority to say it’s OK for Muslims? That type of blind devotion to any dogma sounds dangerous to me. Would Catholics around the world be stoning disobedient children if the Vatican hadn’t issued those encyclicals?

    Comment by Mike Pajeau — September 11, 2008 @ 2:05 pm | Reply

  11. Mike P,

    I greatly appreciate the reasoned, thoughtful response. And I would say “you’re right”: it should not be necessary for an authority figure to declare what – to my mind and yours – should be self evident. No matter what the Vatican says or doesn’t say, I’m not going to stone my disobedient children. I may lock them in the garage till they’re 18 and then kick their asses out, but I won’t stone them! 😉

    But, the flip side of that coin is that there are certain countries (eg; Iran, Saudi Arabia) where fundamentalist religious viewpoints are reinforced by the rule of law. That’s bad enough, but – as Spencer points out – the fundamentalist religious viewpoints that are given the weight of secular law in such nations are fanatic and hateful beyond anything that we, in the west, have encountered.

    It is our duty to confront these ideas. And when I say “ideas” I mean ideas. We can’t make fundamentalist Islamic theocracy go away by ignoring it. Nor does confronting it mean we have to bomb anyone into the stone age. We should, however, be brave enough to address these issues plainly, and to have enough faith in our fellow man to believe that we can win a battle of words while having the prudence to avoid a war with weapons whenever we can. The liberal paradigm is to avoid confrontation at all costs, because confrontation will surely lead to war, and war is bad. I believe, fervently, that it’s important to honestly wage the war of words because that is the means to best avoid – not enhance – wars that involve RDX and TNT.



    Comment by trzupek — September 11, 2008 @ 9:12 pm | Reply

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