The Myth of the 'Moderate' Muslim
Why 'moderate' Islam doesn't exist and why the
West refuses to admit it
[February 9, 2006]
acquaintance asked me recently, in response to a statement of mine in a
past article on the Danish cartoon crisis, if it was not possible for
Islam to undergo the same "taming" process that Christianity underwent.
Wouldn't most Muslims see the differences between the freedom of Western
nations and the tyranny of Islamic nations? I had written: "Fundamentally,
there is no such thing as a 'moderate' Muslim or a 'civilized' Islam, not
when the core beliefs of the Koran and commands of the Hadith sanction the
murder and enslavement of non-Muslims in an on-going jihad that will end
only with the establishment of a global caliphate."
My answer was two-fold: In dozens of injunctive
instances, the Koran sanctions murder and conquest. For example, the
Koran 2:191 commands, "And slay them wherever ye catch them" -- "them"
being any and all unbelievers in Allah. It is not necessary to cite any of
dozens of similar commands to be found in the Koran and Hadith; they are
all equally homicidal in nature, competing in lunacy with the ravings of a
Charles Manson. To believe they can be interpreted as non-belligerent and
pacific modes of serene tolerance is a gross evasion of the fact that
words mean what they mean. No prism of interpretation, not by Western
non-believers, not by Islamic scholars, can change the literal meanings of
"slay," "kill," "terror," "smite," "cut off" and all the other gory verbs
The second part of my answer addressed my
acquaintance's concern with the "moderate" Muslims. Surely they outnumber
the "extremists" and "fanatics" among them, and could play a role in
My answer was that this was unlikely, given the
nature of the creed and what it demands of its rank-and-file adherents,
which is intellectual torpor and unquestioning "submission." I replied
that every Muslim I had encountered personally, or had observed in the
press and the news media, did not seem to care about the differences
between the West and Islam; that, in fact, it was the wealth and freedoms
enjoyed in the West that are regularly condemned as "decadent" by their
mullahs and imams.
"Moderate" Muslims choose not to question that
official estimate of the secular West. They are taught from day one never
to question the wisdom or statements of their "experts" or "holy men,"
that to do so would amount to questioning or doubting Mohammed himself.
Depending on the mood of a Muslim judge, this could be deemed either
blasphemy or apostasy. Either way, it would earn the transgressor the
death penalty, the loss of some of his limbs, or some other bestial
retribution, with no chance of repentance. Here I cite the
Koran 2:39: "But those who reject Faith and belie our Signs, they
shall be companions of the Fire." That is, murdered or banished, and
presumably destined for Hell.
I wrote to my acquaintance: "This is an instance of
being caught between a rock and a hard place. The man who would extricate
himself from that dilemma would no longer be a Muslim. He would be quite
extraordinary." Not to mention brave. He would have earned and deserve our
respect for such a soul-wrenching feat. I ended my answer with the
observation that it took Christianity about 1,500 years to leave barbarism
behind, dating, say, from the murder in 415 of Hypatia, the pagan
philosopher and mathematician by Christian monks outside the Alexandrian
Library in Egypt. The instigator of that atrocity was St. Cyril,
archbishop of Alexandria. How long would it take Islam to abandon its
jihadist agenda and relegate its saints and prophets to the dustbin? Could
the West survive such a wait?
Islam can be "reformed" only by surgically removing
its homicidal injunctions. What, then, would be left of Islam? Perhaps a
"belief system" that would be as truly pacific as that of the Amish or
Quakers. But then it would no longer be Islam.
The foregoing is in the way of broaching the subject
of the craven behavior of the Western press in its frantic scramble to
hide behind the aprons of "moderate" Muslims to wiggle out of its
responsibility to unequivocally and proudly assert the paramount
importance of the freedom of speech.
To date, only two American newspapers have published
one of the cartoons, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Austin, Texas
American-Statesman. Of the broadcast giants, ABC showed the Mohammed in a
bomb turban cartoon once, then pleaded "sensitivity" and refrained from
further display of any of the cartoons. CBS and NBC anchors reported on
the cartoons and demonstrations, as well, but with unconvincing sanctimony
announced they would not show the cartoons out of "respect" for the
beliefs of Muslims. Fox News, however, had the moral spine to show some of
the cartoons. About two dozen American Muslims picketed outside the
offices of the Inquirer. Editor and Publisher on February 8th
reported an imam claiming that the cartoon run by the Inquirer was
"disrespectful to us as a people. It's disrespectful to our prophet to
imply that he's a prophet of violence."
That assertion, certainly not as suavely
fork-tongued in delivery as the protestations of some Islamic scholars and
Mideast studies professors in American and European universities, surely
deserves an award for dissemblance. First, it stresses the equation of
Islam with race; second, it ignores the homicidal injunctions that pepper
Editor & Publisher also quoted USA Today deputy
foreign editor Jim Michaels's denial that it was fear that was stopping
his paper from running the cartoons. "It was made clear that it is
offensive," he said, neglecting to mention by whom. "I don't know if fear
is the right word. But we came down on the side that we could serve
readers well without a depiction that is offensive."
Why have other newspapers and broadcast media
refrained from running any of the cartoons? A better question is: Why have
they not upheld their First Amendment right to run them and proclaimed
loudly and clearly that they would assert such a right, and not be
browbeaten by Muslim bellicosity and threats?
In my original article on this subject, "The
Muslims' New Program for Thought Control," I named the reason: fear of
retribution, of the kind of threats of violence that are rife in Europe
and the Arab world. But no news organization is going to concede such
cowardice. Instead, they have retreated behind the apron of the
"moderates," and claimed "sensitivity" to their beliefs. But even that is
not substantive enough an excuse. They would need some authoritative
reference for not defending their right to free speech.
Daniel Pipes provided it on February 7th in a
National Review Online article, "The
Clash to End All Clashes? Making sense of the cartoon jihad." The NRO
solicited the views of some experts on Islam and the Mideast on if it was
"a clash of civilizations." Pipes, a respected authority on Islam who has
condemned its jihadists and who is certainly no mouthpiece for Osama bin
Laden, answered in his article, "It certainly feels like a clash of
civilizations. But it is not."
After citing a handful of Muslims who condemned the
fatwah on Salman Rushdie for The Satanic Verses in 1989, he concluded his
article with this statement:
"It is a tragic mistake to lump all Muslims with the
forces of darkness. Moderate, enlightened, free-thinking Muslims do exist.
Hounded in their own circles, they look to the West for succor and
support. And, however weak they may presently be, they eventually will
have a crucial role in modernizing the Muslim world."
So, where are these "enlightened, free-thinking"
Muslims? A Muslim by definition can be neither "enlightened" nor
"free-thinking," not if he conscientiously subscribes to the tenets of
Islam and is not inclined to risk losing the approbation of his fellow Muslims.
If he attends Muslim services and practices the required rituals, but
plays golf and the stock market, drinks alcohol, lingers over Victoria's
Secret ads, reads Shakespeare and is fascinated by the longevity of the
Mars rovers, then he must be a counterfeit Muslim, as counterfeit as are
many model Christians. Fire-breathing mullahs and imams would be the first
to point that out. So, how much of a "crucial role" then could he have in
"modernizing" the Muslim world?
None. Rank-and-file Muslims do not "interpret" or
"sanitize" the Koran and Hadith. Their duty is to discuss its contents,
seek clarification, and obey. Interpretations and meanings are left to
their ordained holy men. More "liberal" interpretations might surface if
it were not for the existence of the equivalent of Mafia hit squads and
enforcers: Hamas, the Glory Brigade, and other gangs of theocratic
killers. What average, law-abiding Muslim or imam is going to risk their
wrath by committing what the "faith police" would regard as blasphemy or
In short, how much "reforming" influence can we
expect of a cowed congregation of Muslims? Has any American newspaper
troubled itself with these questions, or made these observations? It is
doubtful. Political correctness, that poisonous mantra of non-judgmental
egalitarianism, has enfeebled the minds of most editors and journalists.
Britain has a more vitriolic population of Muslims
than has the U.S. To date, no British newspaper has reprinted the Danish
cartoons. Again, fear of retribution has caused the British press to take
cover behind the apron of "respect" for Muslim beliefs.
In the London Sunday Telegraph story of February
2nd, 2006, it was reported, "Muslim
protests are incitement to murder, say Tories." Many of the placards
carried by Muslim protestors outside the Danish embassy read, "Whoever
insults a prophet, kill him," "Massacre those who insult Islam," and
"Behead those who insult Islam." Can anyone credibly claim these
injunctions are open to "interpretation"?
The question is: Who, hypothetically, is being
incited to murder? The sign-carriers? Those who are the intended victims
of massacres, beheadings, and killings? Or are the sign-carriers guilty of
"inciting" others to commit those crimes? The concept of incitement as it
is used in this circumstance is ambiguous.
David Davis, the British shadow home secretary,
stated in the article, "Clearly some of these placards are incitement to
violence and, indeed, incitement to murder -- an extremely serious offence
which the police must deal with and deal with quickly....Certainly there
can be no tolerance of incitement to murder."
The authorities are trying to pin the blame for the
inflammatory placards on "extremists" among the Muslim demonstrators,
while excusing the rest of the chanting mob as their right of legitimate
protest. However, just how blameless are those "moderate" chanters? They
where there, and if by chance the "extremists" broke through the police
cordon and set fire to the Danish embassy, would not the "moderates" have
joined in the destruction and arson or shouted "God is Great" in
encouragement, celebration, and triumph?
If "law-abiding" moderate Muslims are so "peaceful,"
why are they so silent when their brethren promise death, destruction and
vengeance? Is not such a silence a sanction of the violent actions of the
"extremists"? Who gives leave to the "extremists" to speak and act in
their name? Those "moderates." They are not as guiltless as one might
suppose. Their creed demands mental passivity, and they comply.
The same London Daily Telegraph, in an editorial on
February 6th, under the heading, "Why
extremists treat us with contempt," posed the question after
recounting the London demonstrations and questioning the wisdom of the
police in arresting two men who counter-protested with placards bearing
cartoons of Mohammed, but did not raise to finger to arrest Muslims
carrying the inflammatory signs. "Might there be a connection between this
cowardice and the contempt some Muslims feel for us?"
Good question, but the Telegraph itself provides the
grounds for Muslim contempt. Three paragraphs later, it "submits" to Islam
with this cowardly, craven genuflection to the West's mortal enemy:
"This newspaper has a deep regard for Islam, that
purest and most abstract of the monotheistic faiths, to whose tenets we
recently dedicated a series of color supplements. We share the
admiration of Rousseau, Carlyle and Gibbon for the Prophet, which is
why, on grounds of courtesy, we have chosen not to cause gratuitous
offence to his followers by reproducing the cartoons at the center of
The Telegraph prepared the reader for that kowtowing
in another article on February 5th:
"This newspaper would not have published the
cartoons of Mohammed at the center of this controversy, images which we
regard as vulgar and fatuously insulting."
If freedom of speech is abridged in deference to
religious "sensibilities," it will be implemented or enforced for the sake
of the sacrosanct "moderates," in this instance, "moderate" Muslims. They
are the ones climbing into the belly of this Trojan horse of censorship by
degree. The answer is not to open the gates and pander to their emotional,
non-reasoning "sensitivities." But the Western press is opening
them, and we
shall all suffer the consequences.
The only solution to "modernizing" the Muslim world
is its complete collapse, and the first thing in it to be discredited and
discarded is Islam as a "religion of peace." It is, after all, the "moral"
basis of that culture. Where is the "Muslim" intellectual who would light
the fuse that would demolish Islam? He might possibly step forward if the
Western press, as well as Western politicians, displayed the Churchillian
courage to speak out against our latter day Hitlers. It is indeed a clash
of civilizations, and the one with the most confidence in its own value
will be the one to triumph.
Edward Cline is the
author of First Prize
and Whisper The Guns,
and has written for a variety of publications including the Colonial
Williamsburg Journal and Marine Corps League. His essay on John Locke was
reprinted in the college textbook Western Civilization II, published by
up for CAC's Newsletter
Keep up with the latest news—type
in your e-mail address and click Go!
You ask the
tough questions and we answer them.
The Moral Basis of Capitalism
the only moral social system. Learn why.
The Moral and the Practical
practical for the same reasons that make it moral.
Capitalist Book Club
Purchase the essential
texts on capitalism.
Learn about the
News mentions, press releases and speakers.
Send us a comment or
ask a question—we want to hear from you!