Friday, March 15, 2013

Can we discuss Jihad?

Is C.W. Nevius being obtuse or is he playing the role of a Devil's Advocate with this?
It seems impossible that San Francisco can't compel Muni to remove the offensive anti-Muslim ads paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative. Among other images, the posters appearing on city buses include a photo of Osama bin Laden and an alleged quote from "Hamas MTV" that says, "Killing Jews is worship that brings us closer to Allah." It isn't just insulting. It is race-baiting. Surely a progressive city like San Francisco can find a way to take the ads down.

Of course Osama bin Laden can be accused of baiting Jews, but then he was a homicidal anti-Semite---which is part of the point the ad is making, not to mention that Jews are not a race per se. Judaism is a religion, and people who are not genetically Jewish can be Jewish in a religious sense.
Surely Nevius isn't challenging the accuracy of the quotation by bin Laden, who didn't try to hide his hatred for Jews---or Americans, for that matter. A quick web search turns up similar  bin Laden quotations:
I advise the youth to jihad as they are the first of those who are meant by this religious duty nowadays and know that targeting the Americans and Jews by killing them throughout the globe is one of the greatest duties and leading righteous acts to Allah, the Almighty.

Nevius then quotes a recent New York court decision, a law professor, a MTA mouthpiece, and even a lawyer with the Asian Law Caucus on the legal futility of challenging the posters in court. Nevius is undeterred: "I would like to see this nasty fringe group get its legal comeuppance." Hard to believe that a long-time journalist doesn't understand the First Amendment and prior restraint:

There's also an argument to be made that the media should ignore these actions because it gives the fringe group the publicity it wants. Bargzie disagrees. "It does need to be talked about," she says. "If nobody reported on it, Arabs and Muslims would still be exposed to it. We need to raise the message so that more and more people reject it, and it leads to discussion." In that case, mission accomplished. It may be messy, confusing and unsatisfying, but there's another way [Professor]Lee describes it. "Democracy in action," he says.
Yes, indeed. But what the discussion should be about is the nature of Jihad---the ads are about the unconvincing attempt to redefine Jihad---and the history and traditions of Islam, which are clearly marred by violent anti-Semitism, both in the Koran and other Islamic texts.

Below is an excerpt from an interview with Andrew Bostom, who rejects the attempt to redefine Jihad and sanitize Islam's history and sacred documents. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism:
Alan Johnson: Let’s talk about denial. You have argued that denial of Islamic antisemitism runs wide and deep in both Muslim and non-Muslim communities. Why is denial so prevalent?

Andrew Bostom: The worst audiences to address about Islamic antisemitism, quite frankly, are Jewish audiences! One of the reasons for this, I believe, is almost primal. As physicians we deal with denial as a strategy all the time. Denial is one of the most profound psychological mechanisms by which patients try to ignore their own disease status, because potentially fatal illnesses are terrifying. And who does not get a chill when they sit down and watch the sermons at the MEMRI website, whether they come from the Palestinian Authority, or from Saudi Arabia, or are recorded surreptitiously in a mosque in the UK? These are terrifying things, Alan, for a Jewish audience to hear. People are openly calling for their annihilation in a religious context. Who wouldn’t want to pretend that ‘they can’t really mean that?’ Fear is a major factor.
It’s also human to perseverate upon things we have already understood, and for which we have developed strategies of response. I am referring particularly to the deicide allegation, the Protocols, and the standard racist Nazi propaganda. We have agencies that are constantly vigilant for these familiar antisemitic themes, and rush to the fore whenever any real or imagined example of these hatreds emerges. But there are precious few groups, other than MEMRI, who are highlighting hatemongering antisemitic sermons based on Islamic motifs. It’s more comfortable dealing with familiar and, at this point, better tamed enemies.

Alan Johnson: And how about the denial of intellectuals in the West?
Andrew Bostom: I think it has to do with the western left’s sympathy for third world cultures, and its extreme tendency toward self-flagellation. The West has an imperialistic past, and many wrongs were committed, yes, but that baggage has led many to ask ‘Who are we to comment on this Islamic phenomenon?’ What follows is the rationalization of Islamic jihadism and Jew hatred etc., as coming from the ‘oppressed third world,’ and therefore somehow (perversely) liberating, or at least understandable and acceptable. Also, a vicious circular argument comes into play: Islamic antisemitism really derives from Europe, being nothing but the detritus of the western colonial enterprise.So responsibility is always laid at the doorstep of the West...
Andrew Bostom's blog
Rob's comment: Unlike Pamela Geller, I don't think Islamic extremists are likely to impose their version of Islam on the US. But it was disturbing several years ago when the local media, with few exceptions, refused to publish the Danish Muhammad cartoons or to even write about them. The Bay Guardian justified its silence by saying that it didn't want "to add gratuitous logs to the fire." Except for an  editorial in the Chronicle, the rest were simply silent on the issue, which means that the Islamic fascists' attempt to intimidate the media was successful in San Francisco.

Robert Spencer on the significance of the semantic argument over Jihad.

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