Iraq

Victor Davis Hanson vs. D'Souza

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Over at National Review, Victor Davis Hanson takes a classical liberal war club to Dinesh D'Souza's argument that real conservatives should "give up on leftists in America and Europe who will never join our side and instead find common cause with the traditional Muslims who share many of our values and can actually help us defeat radical Islam."

Replies Hanson:

What does "give up on" really mean? I am no big fan of a Russ Feingold or a Howard Dean, but as fellow Americans I find more resonance with them than with conservative Muslims abroad who, at least currently, do not approve of religious tolerance, or an equality of women, or freedom of speech and expression. Personally in this war I prefer to make "common cause" with the atheist leftist Christopher Hitchens or Al Gore's former running mate, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, or a liberal Tom Lantos (also named as a "domestic insurgent" on the D'Souza list) than with someone abroad who embraces sharia law.

More here.

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  1. Does this mean we can bring back “Taliban Wing of the Republican Party?”

  2. There is actually the germ of a responsible idea there: Despite Western stereotypes to the contrary, even culturally conservative Muslims overwhelmingly oppose terrorism.

    Of course, there’s a hugely irresponsible idea there as well: The notion that Americans who don’t see eye to eye with D’Souza are actually supporting terrorists.

  3. So let me see if I can follow this. Conservative Islamists, who share a political philosophy with Islamist terrorists, are not responsible for or even connected to the philosophy that produces terrorism.

    However, secular western liberals, who have a political philosophy that is diametrically opposed to religous conservatism like that endorsed by Islamist terrorists, are responsible for and connected to terrorism. And not only that, but it is their very political philosophy that makes them responsible for terrorism.

    Sure. Makes perfect sense.

  4. There is actually the germ of a responsible idea there: Despite Western stereotypes to the contrary, even culturally conservative Muslims overwhelmingly oppose terrorism.

    Against whom? Probably against their own government and fellow Muslims.

    Show me some evidence that culturally conservative Muslims overwhelming oppose terrorism against the US or (especially) Israel.

    And some of us would consider sharia law and female genital mutilation a form of terrorism too.

    And if D’Souza’s book says what Hanson says it says he’s a sick fuck.

  5. I would just like to say that this is D’Souzas argument is among the more absurd I’ve read in a long time. It reeks of Coulterian sensationalism to sell books. There is no content.

    Here is a conservative who is actually arguing that it doesn’t matter what you are trying to conserve. By arguing that conservatives in the US have more in common with conservative muslims than liberal americans, he is separating from the american conservative movement founding fathers, classical liberalism, and even apple pie. What is really important, he suggests, is keeping the hippies in line.

  6. Two things:

    1) There’s a big difference between sexism and bombs.

    2) D’Souza is crazy.

    That’s all.

  7. I don’t know that D’Souza is saying that American leftists support terrorists; rather he’s implying that they aren’t useful allies against terrorism because (says he) they oppose the war in Iraq, want to preserve civil liberties even if it means giving law enforcement less tools to fight terror, etc.

    Of course, I don’t agree with him on that, but I think joe is charicaturing his position a bit.

  8. “Show me some evidence that culturally conservative Muslims overwhelming oppose terrorism against the US or (especially) Israel.”

    Show me an American citizen who is a conservative Muslim that has ever committed an act of terrorism.

    No, weirdo converts like John Lindh don’t count. D’Souza’s thesis is about people raised in and attached to a conservative culture, the Muslim equivalent of the inward-looking, small-town God-fearing communities found throughout America. We’ve got hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of such conservative Muslims in America. They don’t blow stuff up.

  9. crimethink,

    I know it’s tough to believe that anyone would make that argument, but D’Souza actually is. What you just described is Hanson’s position. D’Souza’s position is…well, find some excerpts from the book. It’s really as JasonL describes it.

  10. Joe, how would the fact that no conservative American Muslims have committed an act of terrorism prove that conservative Muslims oppose terrorism? Presumably there are people who don’t commit terrorist acts yet support terrorism.

  11. “…find common cause with the traditional Muslims who share many of our values and can actually help us defeat radical Islam.”

    Shortly after 9/11, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell both announced that this was a punishment from God, because America allowed godless people and drugs and gays and porn and whatever else.

    At first, I couldn’t believe they would sink so low, but really, they are little different in mentality than the people who committed the atrocity. If these “traditional” Christians, here in America, could justify terrorism, the idea that “traditional” Muslim would have a problem with it is ludicrous.

  12. Show me an American citizen who is a conservative Muslim that has ever committed an act of terrorism.

    Who said American citizens?

    Anyway, I don’t care. Culturally conservative Muslims, if you allow me to generalize for argument’s sake, are deplorable people for what they do to their daughters if nothing else.

  13. What is really important, he suggests, is keeping the hippies in line.

    I think the past four decades have conclusively demonstrated that that’s true for all American Conservatives. They might talk a little about, taxes, trade, regulation, but armed men with guns, kicking in doors, is always top priority.

  14. parse,

    We’re not talking about a population in the hundreds or even thousands, but in the hundreds of thousands, possibly millions. And there are no cases of terrorism attributed to them.

    No, this does not do the impossible and prove a negative – no conservative Muslims support terrorism – but it’s pretty strong evidence.

  15. Does this mean we can bring back “Taliban Wing of the Republican Party?”

    I think it means we are supposd to bring back the E.R.A.

  16. Grand Chalupa,

    I think you vastly overestimate the prevalance of FGM among Muslims.

  17. No, weirdo converts like John Lindh don’t count.

    Do you consider his fighting for an insurgency as “terrorism?” Or did he allegedly do something more?

  18. Shortly after 9/11, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell both announced that this was a punishment from God, because America allowed godless people and drugs and gays and porn and whatever else.

    replace Pat and Jerry with Dinesh, and replace from God with from Terrorists and there you have it. For all the hubub its really a lazy thesis. Sells a few books though.

  19. joe,

    Conservative Muslims by definition are going to have loyalties that are closer to the global jihad than to America. They are called conservative because their views are traditionalist, not wishy washy, throw out what you don’t like beliefs. Islamic scripture is replete with examples of exhortations to violence against non-believers, something that other religious scriptures lack or condemn. When a conservative Christian attacks you for not being a Christian, he is going against Luke 9 and Matt 10. When a conservative Muslim attacks you for not being a Muslim, or supports someone who does, there are a plethora of Koranic verses in support of that.

    Perhaps American Muslims are less prone to violence or supporting it. That’s great. It doesn’t change the fact that many Muslims around the world subscribe to views of the world which can be best described as barbaric to the point that they have no business ever setting foot on a first world nation’s soil, and which nation it is, America, to any european one, to Israel, to Japan.

    If conservative American Muslims are very supportive of their country, opposed to the global jihad and all that, that would make them an exception to the rule. Unfortunately, the European experience with Islam has not been even close to that in recent years.

  20. If conservative American Muslims are more sympathetic to Al Qaeda than America, why do they live in America?

  21. Why do we have to give up on Latin America in order to focus on conservative Muslims? Is there only room for one group of brown, foreign talking people?

  22. What D’Souza illustrates is the hysteria infecting our political debate now. I just visited an peace rally (or anti-US rally, whatever) in Hollywood and the people there evidently hate our government so much that they support any and all of its enemies. Maybe I am misremembering but it seems that in the past people could debate without vilifying.

    As far as the argument about american muslims go, I’m not privy to what’s going on behind the walls of my local mosque but I have had the opportunity to attend any Muslims against Terrorism rallies lately. Maybe somebody can alert me to the last one that was held.

  23. joe, my point is that “individuals who commit terrorist acts” could well be a very small subset of “individuals who support terrorist acts.” And “conservative Muslims who are American citizens” are almost certainly a very small subset of “conservative Muslims worldwide.” If both of those are true, the failure of an American conservative Mulism to commit a terroist act doesn’t tell you much at all about whether most conservative Muslims support terror or not.

    I don’t think that it’s true that there is overwhelming support for terrorism among conservative Muslims, but I have to admit I don’t have much evidence to support a claim in either direction.

  24. Minaret of Freedom

    Khwaaja-i-Jahaan Mahmuud Gawaan, “Those who, of their own free will and without any compulsion,
    act according to the Qur’an and the Sunnah wear the turban of freedom.”

  25. Mike T,

    Have you ever met a Mulsim?

    Or read the Hebrew scriptures?

  26. parse,

    “If both of those are true, the failure of an American conservative Mulism to commit a terroist act doesn’t tell you much at all about whether most conservative Muslims support terror or not.”

    True enough, but it does tell you that Muslim conservativism is not coterminus with supporting terrorism.

  27. Since they hate us for our freedom, it makes sense to have less of it!

    – Josh

  28. “Culturally conservative Muslims, if you allow me to generalize for argument’s sake, are deplorable people for what they do to their daughters if nothing else.”

    didn’t you once say that a preponderance of compassion was a kind of mental illness?

    what the hell do you care about the genitals of people in faraway lands?

  29. didn’t you once say that a preponderance of compassion was a kind of mental illness?

    what the hell do you care about the genitals of people in faraway lands?

    Who ever said Grand Chalupa was consistent?

    That aside, I think D’Souza is an idiot.

  30. VM,

    Cool link.
    This is not as germane, but another organization that can be pointed to when one hears “why don’t Muslims speak out against terror?” or some other such blather is the American Islamic Congress.

  31. Ooh, I know how this game is played:

    OK, but why don’t they speak out more?

  32. “OK, but why don’t they speak out more?”

    They do. It’s just that the little green footballs who sometimes post here deliberately ignore those voices.

    Do you honestly imagine MikeT engaging in discourse with AIC or Minaret people? Right. 🙂

  33. joe, I guess you got me with the “coterminous” thing. You really do have compelling evidence that something Grand Chalupa DIDN’T say isn’t true.

  34. OK, but why don’t they speak out more?

    Fair enough, but is the AIC a fundamentalist Muslim organization? They appear to me to be a liberal group.

  35. There is actually the germ of a responsible idea there: Despite Western stereotypes to the contrary, even culturally conservative Muslims overwhelmingly oppose terrorism.

    They do? Sure, they’re not terrorists themselves, but I haven’t exactly seen a big global movement of conservative Muslims actively and vocally opposing, on principle, the various militant strains of Islam that are setting off bombs.

    Maybe they are, and its just not being reported.

    My impression is that the vast majority of Muslims range from mildly supportive to indifferent to intimidated.

  36. My impression is that the vast majority of Muslims range from mildly supportive to indifferent to intimidated.

    Don’t forget happy, sad, angry, wistful, lively, loving, hateful, wet, dry, purple, orange…

  37. doc grumpy bashful sneezy sleepy happy dopy

  38. In the Peloponessian War, that is the war amongst the Hellenes, the Spartans made common cause with the Persians in order to defeat the Athenians. This was one of the factors which allowed outside powers to eventually undermine the independence of the Hellenes (Sparta’s expensive efforts to lord it over other Greeks following the Peloponessian war being another factor). While this historical event isn’t really analagous to the “rift” between liberals and conservatives in the U.S. (after all, the Hellenes were never organized into a centralized state, etc.) it does indicate the dangers associated with drawing on groups outside of a polity in order to solve internal problems.

  39. There used to be a nifty little word for folks like D’Souza, before it got horribly misused.

    “Idiotarian.”

  40. 27 points for 1/2 a B!

    Well challenged, Sir!

  41. I think you vastly overestimate the prevalance of FGM among Muslims.

    According to the US State Department…

    91% of Sudan
    78-97% of Egypt
    90-98% of Somalia

    practice FGM in some form.

    According to Wikipedia, its practiced in secret in many places over the Middle East or Africa.

    Do a majority of Muslims practice fgm? Probably not. Do a majority of conservative Muslims practice it? I guess it all depends on where you draw the line between moderate and conservative.

    And FGM is not the entire story. I know middle eastern families where it is generally accepted as natural law that women shouldn’t have the right to come and go as they please and that death is a suitable punishment for adultery.

    I don’t know the percentage of Muslims who are like this. I don’t know if anybody’s ever polled Muslims and asked them if they fit my definition of scum. But I’d say that a big enough portion of Muslims are horrible people (25% being a low estimate) to say that Islam is a foe of all decent humanity.

    Not all Muslims blow themselves up, not all nazis throw jews in concentration camps and not all communists work in gulags. But a big enough portion of them do, and it doesn’t take that many, to say that the ideology itself is evil. “Moderate” Muslims, like “moderate” Nazis or Communists are the enablers to evil.

  42. Let me sum for you, Grand Chalupa.

    Some Muslims do things I don’t like. I don’t know how many of them do, but I’m sure it’s enough that I don’t like any of them.

    Is that a fair summation?

  43. Let me sum for you, Grand Chalupa.

    Some Muslims do things I don’t like. I don’t know how many of them do, but I’m sure it’s enough that I don’t like any of them.

    Is that a fair summation?

    Enough do for me to hate the ideology behind it, yes.

    I’m sure a higher percentage of Muslims do things I don’t like than nazis or communists. If I said I hate those beliefs nobody would think twice.

    But because Islam is a religion its not nice to state the obvious.

  44. If anybody remembers when Joe Sobran was a prominent voice at National Review, before getting too obnoxiously anti-semitic, this may have a similar effect on D’Souza’s career, albeit for being nutty in a different way.

  45. I’m sure a higher percentage of Muslims do things I don’t like than nazis or communists.[Emphasis added]

    I got nothing.

  46. The abuse and oppression of women in many muslim countries goes far beyond FGM. In many of these countries women are treated as chattel.

    We have things like the gang rape of women in Pakistan ordered and sanctioned by tribal elders in pakistan. These rapes were ordered as punishment for offenses to the social order by the woman’s relatives.

    There is gender apartheid in Saudi Arabia, and the sorry spectacle of honor killings throughout the world.

    Acknowledging and publicizing the abuse of women and the appaling human rights conditions in many muslim countries is the correct stance. It is in fact the very basic, first step to allowing reform to occur. It is something libertarians should be cheering on.

    The fact that so many on the thread don’t acknowedge the problem or worse insult those who point it is disgusting.

  47. Back to the topic of the article.

    The conservative press and blogs utterly savaged Dinesh and his book. It was a pleasing thing to have happen.

  48. Acknowledging and publicizing the abuse of women and the appaling human rights conditions in many muslim countries is the correct stance. It is in fact the very basic, first step to allowing reform to occur. It is something libertarians should be cheering on.

    The fact that so many on the thread don’t acknowedge the problem or worse insult those who point it is disgusting.

    Oh my god! The “why don’t Muslims speak out against terror?” argument was just turned on libertarians.
    First they came for the Muslims…
    I think I’m safe. I spoke up when they used it against Muslims. Someone, maybe the Democrats, is due to stand up and defend me, right?

  49. “I’m sure a higher percentage of Muslims do things I don’t like than nazis or communists. If I said I hate those beliefs nobody would think twice.”

    “Not all Muslims blow themselves up, not all nazis throw jews in concentration camps and not all communists work in gulags. But a big enough portion of them do, and it doesn’t take that many, to say that the ideology itself is evil. “Moderate” Muslims, like “moderate” Nazis or Communists are the enablers to evil.”

    think about this for three or four seconds…isn’t this, in a nutshell, why certain people felt justified in flying two planes into buildings about two miles from where i’m typing this?

  50. question for those older than i: was d’souza always a fuckface, or is this one of those niche market post 9/11 things that made ann coulter famous?

    i get the impression that before he lost his shit that he wasn’t widely seen as a nutjob.

  51. dhex,
    How much older? 😉

    I don’t think he was always so hysterical. His book, “The Virtue of Prosperity” had some interesting points. I actually remember his first brush with fame as he was in college the same time I was. He was part of the gang of new young Reagan style conservatives that started up alternative newspapers on their college campuses in response the the general leftist tilt of most college newspapers at the time. It was also in response to some of the hysteria coming from the other side; the new feminist studies programs were taking off, the ones that demonized men and anything smacking of objective oriented empiricism as “Dead White Male” bias. In line or in sync with them were other left-oriented cultural crusaders demanding, and sometimes winning, consessions to their agenda – such as required courses in ethnic studies to replace or add on to traditional courses in philosophy (dead white male stuff) or the traditional canon in great literature.

    This cult, which is still powerful, shouted down people in classes who questioned their premises or would frequently pull out the race card. I was told in one linguistic class that to even raise the question of any sort of a possible link between mind, culture, and the language system was racist in itself – it could not be discussed. In another class, I was told that the term “Black Comedy” was racist and should be replaced with “tragicomedy” even though the latter term was already in existence to explain another kind of comedy. And the feminists rejected and demanded the use of terms like ‘seminal’ for being male words. Cries of anything not conforming to their world view was often called ‘hate speech’, ‘racist’ ‘sexist’ or worse.

    In this chilling environment, D’Souza and his gang were actually something of a breath of fresh air and a welcome counter to the authoritarians on the left. Now they are the asshole authoritarians.

  52. No, weirdo converts like John Lindh don’t count.

    To be fair to Lindh, he took up a gun and fought American soldiers in Afghanistan. That may very well make him a traitor, but he’s certainly no terrorist.

  53. I was told in one linguistic class that to even raise the question of any sort of a possible link between mind, culture, and the language system was racist in itself – it could not be discussed.

    Jesus, where did you go to school, Andrea Dworkin University? Did you major in hyperbole?

  54. No, Shem, I majored in English literature. The examples I gave were real. I’m not exaggerating. The reason the linguistic professors at my school made this claim is that they were all under the spell of Noam Chomsky. Chomsky’s view was that formal aspects of the language systems – syntax, phonology, morphology – were autonomous and universal on a ‘deep structure’ level. This ‘racist’ charge was a reaction to the Whorfian hypothesis that culture determined language and mind and vice versa. I also came to believe that Whorf was wrong, at least the strong version was wrong. But I found a weaker version – that culture and language washed back and force and had *some influence* on each other to be interesting and worth investigating. But at my university, in the linguistics department, any sniffing around this theory, no matter how tentatively put, could get you labeled a racist: either we’re all human and equal in our species specific abilities or we’re not, basically, and if the latter, that must be hingting at racism.

    This was the mid-eighties. I don’t know what the climate is like now.

  55. re: the atrocities perpetrated in Islamic societies in the name of religion, remember that our own Christian civilization doesn’t exactly have hands free of blood.

  56. think about this for three or four seconds…isn’t this, in a nutshell, why certain people felt justified in flying two planes into buildings about two miles from where i’m typing this

    Yet more proof that there is no more of a natural political marriage then between masochistic liberals who hate Western civillization and sadistic Muslims who do the same.

    Thankfully, the majority of people aren’t filled with that much contempt for life and your type is a demented minority.

  57. “Yet more proof that there is no more of a natural political marriage then between masochistic liberals who hate Western civillization and sadistic Muslims who do the same.”

    yup that’s me, masochistic liberal!

    ok, try this: not all americans support kleptocracies in the middle east; not all americans truck with dictators; not all americans interfere with the governments of sovereign countries.

    but enough do to prove the ideology of “americanism” is evil.

    [cue planes flying into buildings]

    even more simply:
    this is a dumb way to view the world.

  58. also, that has to be the most hamfisted way of calling someone a pussy ever invented.

    man up, dude.

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