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Jewish World Review Nov. 25, 2002 / 20 Kislev, 5763

Diana West

Diana West
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Something to contemplate this Ramadan | Part of me wanted to let Ramadan, Islam's month-long holiday of contemplative fasting and Thanksgiving, slide. Sure, there has been a mini-surge in published musings by American Muslims on the cruel and unusual punishment of airport security, but, some things, as they say, never change. More intriguing is a scheduled flurry of administration-sponsored Ramadan dinners. Even this inspires only minor head scratching over the specifically Islamic whirl of events to be hosted by the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department -- unmatched, of course, by any consciously Christian, Jewish or even Druid soirees. No point wondering what makes Islam so special. I haven't understood the Bush push to console and placate Muslims over 9/11 since 9/12. This round of Ramadan outreach looks like more of the same.

Yet, maybe things are a little different now. The president's rhetoric on Islam (see hasn't changed much since his "Islam is peace" line of last year, and his "Islam is a peace-loving faith" line of this month, but in the repetition over the long haul, some almost-Orwellian echoes may be heard. "Islam is a faith that brings comfort to people," Mr. Bush said last month, one day before the world shook from a blast in Bali set by Islamic jihadists (one of whom was nabbed when his motorcycle was spotted outside a local mosque). October was also a month, the New Republic reports, in which American law professor Khaled Abou El Fadl, an outspoken liberal Muslim who's received death threats since 9/11 and required 24-hour security to attend a debate in Qatar where he contested the morality of suicide bombing. None of which is to say, of course, that Islam doesn't bring comfort to people, but maybe that's not all it brings.

"It's a faith based upon love, not hate," Mr. Bush said in September, a month in which a Palestinian Muslim suicide bomber took the lives of 19 Jewish Israelis on a bus in a by-now common act of premeditated mass murder sanctioned -- indeed, encouraged -- by some of Islam's most senior religious authorities. "Islam is a peaceful religion, a religion that respects others," Mr. Bush said last week as headlines told us a man in Iran and a woman in Nigeria stood condemned to death under sharia (Islamic) law, he for "apostasy" (renouncing his faith), she for the capital crime of adultery.

While our president surely doesn't see himself as defender of the faith, his inexplicable tendency toward the slogans of boosterism have caused him to gloss over crucial pieces of the big picture. Which hasn't gone unnoticed, by the way, in the deeper reaches of the Islamic world. As reported by the Washington Post last year, Abu Qatada, a British-based imam with links to Al Qaeda, put it this way: "I am astonished by President Bush when he claims there is nothing in the Quran that justifies jihad violence in the name of Islam. ... Is he some kind of Islamic scholar? Has he ever actually read the Quran?"

Thanks to, among other things, the separation of church and state, it's not in the president's job description to be an Islamic scholar; but neither is it incumbent upon him to take up the pom-pom for old Islam. This seems particularly clear now that Mr. Bush has decided to weigh in on the blunt critiques of Islam offered by several conservative Christian leaders who have voiced their reactions (negative) to the violence at the core of Islam's unreconstructed traditions of jihad. Islam is violent, said one. Islam is evil, said another; and besides, said another, Mohammed was a pedophile. Historic truths or baseless slanders? If the president has his way, we'll never know. Such remarks "do not reflect the sentiments of my government or the sentiments of most Americans," Mr. Bush noted pointedly last week. "Ours is a country based upon tolerance ... and we welcome people of all faiths in America. And we're not going to let the war on terror or terrorists cause us to change our values."

But what if terrorists believe in terror -- for the sake of Islam? Not only does a willful official blindness to the militant Islamic-ness of the terrorist foe undermine our war effort, a point columnist Daniel Pipes has most recently made, it is also a detriment to any peace that follows.

Just think: If the President of the United States -- the Great Satan's great Satan -- believes, as this one has variously and repetitively stated, that unreformed Islam is already the ultimate in peace, comfort, charity, compassion, honesty, inspiration, love, mercy and justice, then you have to wonder what on earth would possess Islam's liberals to undertake the arduous and even dangerous work of forcing the religion out of the Middle Ages and into the 21st century. Something to contemplate this Ramadan season.

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JWR contributor Diana West is a columnist and editorial writer for the Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

11/08/02: Does Eminem now fit in?
11/04/02: No time for gloating
11/04/02: What's in a name when the name is Muhammad?
10/28/02: Jihad as a First Amendment right
10/21/02: When speaking out isn't allowed
10/14/02: Terrorism in Maryland and abroad
09/30/02: So long urgency, hello indulgence
09/24/02: That one, sturdy, missing word
09/17/02: Fingerprinting, finally
09/09/02: When 'healing' overshadows reality
09/04/02: Tales from the Techno Valley and Forest
08/16/02: Elvis shall rise again
08/14/02: War with Iraq won't harm war on terror
08/06/02: Clinton snaps over Somalia
08/01/02: 9-11 anniversary shouldn't come with apology
07/27/02: An unstable common ground
07/25/02: Hillary fights hard for soft money
07/12/02: Goretheus unbound
07/10/02: Rosie takes a shine to Republicans
07/08/02: Are you still shocked, Sami?
07/02/02: Can Britney win hearts of the Middle East?
06/28/02: A war on terror or Islamists?
06/25/02: Blame the murderer, and the messenger
06/21/02: Up front and personal with Atta
06/18/02: Terrorism at the United Nations
06/11/02: Who's policing the INS?
06/07/02: Spa Gitmo
06/04/02: Can rock gods save the queen?
05/31/02: Hillary's war
05/29/02: Have you forgotten we're at war?
05/24/02: An antiquated luxury of the past
05/21/02: From terrorists to tourists
05/19/02: Hate U.
05/07/02: Western self-loathing numbs us to violence
05/03/02: Pioneering television
05/01/02: Western self-loathing numbs us to violence
04/29/02: It's the misconduct, stupid
04/24/02: Medal of diss-honor
04/17/02: Holy sanctuary or terrorist shield?
04/12/02: Egyptian clerics solicit martyrs for murder
04/09/02: Defining terrorism down
04/05/02: The Wilder life
04/02/02: Acting, equality and the Academy
03/31/02: Speeding to conclusions
03/25/02: Hard to remove blood (libel) stains
03/21/02: The tale of Nixon's tapes --- again
03/19/02: The Big Lie lives on
03/15/02: The tunnel vision of '9/11'
03/13/02: The American Auschwitz?
03/08/02: Hating the indoctrination of hate
03/05/02: Clinton and Enron: Old friends
03/01/02: Pickering doesn't polarize, the process does
02/26/02: Destiny's prefabricated child
02/22/02: The White House heist
02/20/02: Making the grade
02/11/02: Studying student visas
02/06/02: Understanding arrogance
02/04/02: The professor's war
01/29/02: Disconnected dialogue
01/23/02: Anti-Indiscrimination
01/18/02: How much is enough?
01/15/02: Oh brothers, where art thou?
01/10/02: Air on the side of caution
01/04/02: Blacks seeing red at Harvard
01/02/02: Clinton's campaign continues
12/26/01: A tale of two exhibitions
12/24/01: Taliban Idyll
12/19/01: Right is right
12/17/01: Hillary strikes out
12/13/01: Lost files, lost presidency
12/10/01: Revolutionaries never grow up
12/05/01: Immigration reform talk is not just for 'haters' anymore
12/03/01: A new symbol of justice
11/30/01: Beyond morality
11/26/01: Can't keep a good man down
11/20/01: Tough talk at the United Nations
11/19/01: Hollywood's other battle
11/14/01: What's the matter with Sara Jane?
11/09/01: A beef with bin Laden's Beef Noodles
11/07/01: Facing up to the FBI's past mistakes
11/02/01: A school that teaches patriots to shutup
10/30/01: The gap between Islam and peace
10/26/01: The ties that bind (and gag)
10/24/01: This war is more than Afghanistan
10/22/01: The fatuous fatwa
10/19/01: Left out
10/16/01: Whose definition of terrorism?
10/11/01: Post-stress disorder
10/08/01: How the West has won
10/01/01: Good, bad or ... diplomacy
09/28/01: Drawing a line in stone
09/21/01: Prejudice or prudence?
09/14/01: When our dead will finally rest in hallowed ground
09/07/01: We want our #$%^&*() audience back!
08/24/01: The transformation from Green Mountain State to Green Activist State is all but complete
08/17/01: Enlightenment at Yale
08/10/01: From oppressors to victims, a metamorphosis
08/03/01: Opening the dormitory door: College romance in the New Century
08/01/01: How-To Hackdom: The dubious art of writing books about writing books
07/20/01: Hemming about Hemmings
07/13/01: Justice has not been served in the Loiuma police brutality case
06/22/01: When PC parades are too 'mainstream'
06/22/01: When "viewpoint discrimination" in our schools was not nearly so gnarly a notion
06/15/01: Lieberman flaunts mantle of perpetual aggrievement
06/07/01: Is graciousness the culprit?
06/01/01: The bright side of the Jeffords defection
05/29/01: Campus liberals should be more careful
05/18/01: 'Honest Bill' Clinton and other Ratheresian Logic
05/11/01: Dodging balls, Bugs, and 'brilliance'
05/04/01: Foot in mouth disease and little lost Tories
04/20/01:The last classic Clinton cover-up
04/20/01: D-Day, Schmee-Day
04/06/01: For heaven's sake, a little decency!
03/30/01: The sweet sound of slamming doors and clucking feminists
03/23/01: America's magazines and the 'ick-factor'
03/09/01: Felony neglect
03/02/01: Who's sorry now?
02/23/01: 'Ecumenical niceness' and other latter-day American gifts to the world
02/16/01: Elton and Eminem: Royal dirge-icist meets violent fantasist
02/12/01: If only ...

© 2001, Diana West