“Islam Is Islam, And That’s It”

AFLC Advisory Board Member Andrew C. McCarthy penned a compelling piece in National Review (January 23, 2012 – Volume LXIV, No. 1) entitled, “Islam Is Islam, And That’s It”: The Arab Spring was not hijacked.

In the article, McCarthy astutely observes, “The tumult indelibly dubbed ‘the Arab Spring’ in the West, by the credulous and the calculating alike, is easier to understand once you grasp two basics.  First, the most important fact in the Arab world — as well as in Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other neighboring non-Arab territories — is Islam.  It is not poverty, illiteracy, or the lack of modern democratic institutions.  These, like anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, and an insular propensity to buy into conspiracy theories featuring infidel villains, are effects of Islam’s regional hegemony and supremacist tendency, not causes of it.  One need not be led to that which pervades the air one breathes.

The second fact is that Islam constitutes a distinct civilization.  It is not merely an exotic splash on the gorgeous global mosaic with a few embarrassing cultural eccentricities; it is an entirely different way of looking at the world.  We struggle with this truth, which defies our end-of-history smugness.  Enthralled by diversity for its own sake, we have lost the capacity to comprehend a civilization whose idea of diversity is coercing diverse peoples into obedience to its evolution-resistant norms.

So we set about remaking Islam in our own progressive image: the noble, fundamentally tolerant Religion of Peace.  We miniaturize the elements of the ummah (the notional global Muslim community) that refuse to go along with the program: They are assigned labels that scream ‘fringe!’ — Islamist, fundamentalist, Salafist, Wahhabist, radical, jihadist, extremist, militant, or, of course, ‘conservative’ Muslims adhering to ‘political Islam.’

We consequently pretend that Muslims who accurately invoke Islamic scripture in the course of forcibly imposing the dictates of classical sharia — the Islamic legal and political system — are engaged in ‘anti-Islamic activity’ . . . .  The main lesson of the Arab Spring ought to be that this remaking of Islam has happened only in our own minds, for our own consumption. . . .

McCarthy concludes as follows: “The Arab Spring is an unshackling of Islam, not an outbreak of fervor for freedom in the Western sense.  Turkey’s third-term prime minister Recep Erdogan, a staunch Brotherhood ally who rejects the notion that there is a ‘moderate Islam’ (‘Islam is Islam, and that’s it,’ he says), once declared that ‘democracy is a train where you can get off when you reach your destination.’  The destination for Muslim supremacists is the implementation of sharia — the foundation of any Islamized society, and, eventually, of the reestablished caliphate.”

AFLC Senior Counsel David Yerushalmi, an expert on Islamic law, commented, describing McCarthy’s article as “the most concise and accurate summary of the Arab’s spring toward sharia’s tyranny written to date.”