Category Archives: Religion

ISLAM THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS

The latest volume of J.B. Kelly’s essays shows how little we’ve learned about the Middle East.

by Bruce S. Thornton // Defining Ideas 

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

From the 1960s to the late 1990s, John Barrett Kelly was one of the most influential advisors, writers, and commentators on the Middle East. In 1980 his book Arabia, the Gulf, and the West was prophetic in its analysis of the strategic importance of the Middle East and the need for a Western “forward policy” in the Gulf in order to protect U.S. and European interests, particularly oil and its transport, against both Soviet adventurism and the greed of Middle Eastern potentates. Like all his writing, his advice was based on an intimate knowledge of the region and its culture, especially the tribal mentality intertwined with Islam, a faith historically hostile to Western civilization.

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The Postcolonial Rot Spreads Beyond Middle East Studies

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

middle-east-scholarshipsIn theory, Middle East Studies programs are a good idea. One of the biggest impediments to countering modern jihadism has been the lack of historical knowledge about the region and Islam. But even the attention and urgency that followed the terrorist attacks on 9/11 have not led to such knowledge. The result has been policies pursued both by Republicans and Democrats that are doomed to fail, as the current chaos in the region attests.

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The First — and a Half — Amendment

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

The Failed Tactic of Flattering Islam Won’t Go Away

Why admiring the Muslim world won’t stop the bloodshed.

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

The recent attack in Texas against a “draw Mohammed” event ended up with two dead jihadis and widespread criticism of event organizer Pamela Geller for “inciting” or “provoking” the assault on our First Amendment right to free speech. The hypocrisies and ignorance behind such criticism have been amply documented [2], including by some on the left [3]. But there’s another argument against actions and events like Geller’s that needs dismantling. This is the received wisdom that we should avoid criticizing Islamic doctrine or Mohammed because it will alienate moderate Muslims who otherwise would help us against the so-called “extremist” jihadists.

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L. Ron Obama and the Church of Progressivism

by Bruce S.Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

The HBO documentary about Scientology, “Going Clear,” is a must-see. Not so much because it exposes Scientology as a moneymaking, totalitarian cult, something most people already have known for 50 years. More useful is the film’s description of Scientology’s ideas, techniques, and tactics, for they bear an eerie resemblance to contemporary Progressive belief and practice.

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It’s Not Just Islam, It’s the Tribal Mentality

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

The “nothing to do with Islam” mantra took a hit recently in one of the premier organs of liberal received wisdom, The Atlantic. Many have greeted as a revelation Graeme Wood’s article on the Islamic doctrines behind ISIS’s atrocities. Regular readers of FrontPage and Jihad Watch will not be as impressed. For years they have understood the link between jihadism and Islam. In 1994 Andy McCarthy made this connection when he prosecuted the perpetrators of the first World Trade Center bombing the previous year, a connection that the FBI ignored or discounted at the time––a failure, by the way, that has become a pernicious tradition for those charged with protecting our nation’s security and interests. For everyone else who has been paying attention to the rise of modern jihadism, Wood’s article is a dog bites man story.

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The Administration’s Adolescent Rants about ISIS

by Victor Davis Hanson // NRO- The Corner

More Delusional Apologetics for Islam

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

It’s pretty embarrassing when the on-line comments about an article are more logical and knowledgeable than the article. Such is the case with a Wall Street Journal op-ed last week that argued Muslim violence does not reflect traditional Islamic doctrine, but is merely a case of arrested historical development. The whole argument is a tissue of logical fallacies and historical ignorance.

The author, a professor of history at Harvard, starts by explaining that Christianity was once violent and intolerant, but changed over time, and thus can provide an example for “modernizing Islam.” But most of his catalogue of Christian violence and persecution is little more than the tu quoque fallacy. It ignores the fact that Christian violence was typical of the whole pre-modern world, a sad banality of human existence like plagues, war, torture, and famine. The comparison of premodern Christian violence to today’s Islamic terror is as irrelevant as rationalizing modern torture and executions, like the mutilation and beheading regularly practiced in Saudi Arabia, by bringing up the hanging, disemboweling, beheading, and quartering the English used to punish traitors in the 14th century.

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What Are the Metaphysics of Islamic Denial?

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media

Photo via PJ Media

Photo via PJ Media

After six years, it is no surprise that the Obama administration does not see the Taliban as “terrorists” or that it will not associate “violent extremism” with radical Islam or just Islam.

After all, when Maj. Hasan murdered U.S. soldiers it was nothing more than “workplace violence,” as if he were a disgruntled post office employee of the 1970s. Our two top intelligence chiefs assured us that the Muslim Brotherhood was “largely secular” and that jihad “was a legitimate tenet of Islam.” Add in “workplace violence” and the old “overseas contingency operations.” Do we remember that Ms. Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security warned us about right-wing returning veterans as the most likely to terrorize us? When someone blows up people at the Boston Marathon, beheads a woman in Oklahoma, or puts a hatchet in a NYPD officer’s head, he is not a terrorist or proselytizer fueled by Islamic hatred of non-Muslims as much as mentally confused. (I suppose in a way that a Hitler or Stalin was not.)

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Untrue Truisms in the War on Terror

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media

mia_farrow_charlie_hebdo_1-13-15-1In the current tensions with the Islamic World, pundits bandy about received wisdom that in fact is often ignorance. Here are a few examples.

1)  The solution of radical Islam must come from within Islam.

Perhaps it could. It would be nice to see the advice of General Sisi of Egypt [1] take root among the Islamic street. It would have been nice had the Arab Spring resulted in constitutional republics from North Africa to Syria. It would be nice if an all-Muslim force took on and defeated the Islamic State. It would be nice if Iran suddenly stopped stonings and Saudi Arabia ceased public whippings. It would be nice if Muslims dropped the death penalty for apostates.

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