The David Horowitz Freedom Center held its annual spring conference this past weekend. I was there to speak on cultural matters and will post or link to the video when I can (it’s supposed to go up on the center’s website at some point).
One of the highlights of the weekend for me was a spirited, sometimes even fierce, debate between two great American patriots moderated by a third. The question on the table was: “Can Islam Be Reformed?” On one side, was Robert Spencer, the Freedom Center’s courageous scholar of the international jihad against humanity and civilization. On the other side was the equally courageous American Muslim reformer Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, who runs the American Islamic Forum for Democracy dedicated to reforming Islam from within. Moderating was the terrific Andy McCarthy, the former US Attorney who successfully prosecuted the Blind Sheik for the first World Trade Center bombing and who now writes brilliantly on the subject of jihad at NRO and elsewhere.
Dr. Jasser, a devout Muslim, is working to build new Islamic institutions that will counter those of the Sharia Imperialists currently creating a nightmare of violence and oppression in so much of the world. He’s optimistic about bringing reformation to Islam but knows it’s a long, hard road. Spencer believes much of the ugliness emanating from Islam is inherent in the Koran and other sacred writings. While he says he’s in favor of reform, he clearly believes the prospects for it are very dim indeed.
The moment in the debate that captured the dilemma all people of good will face was when Andy asked the debaters for solutions to the problem of international jihad. Dr. Jasser pushed his reform agenda and rightly pointed out that other solutions – the conversion of one quarter of the world, for instance – were completely unrealistic. Robert lucidly detailed the depth of the problem and pointed to the move toward more oppression and sharia coming out of the current turmoil in the middle east – but proposed no alternative plan.
My own opinion – still a work in progress – is that, yes, Dr. Jasser is right, reform can and must happen but that it won’t happen without a muscular reassertion of western values specifically from America… which itself won’t happen as long as Jeremiah Wright’s spiritual pupil remains in office.
But more important than what I think – than what anyone thinks – is that the debate itself is hardly being held at all on a national level. In the mainstream media we get nothing but condemnation of ordinary Americans for their “Islamophobia” whenever they raise the issue. At the government level, we get approval for lowlifes and Sharia Imperialists like CAIR and the Cordoba Mosque crowd, who are paraded dishonestly as “moderates.” Indeed when representative Peter King held hearings on the issue (at which Dr. Jasser testified) he was demonized and mocked. From most of our popular artistic community – movie makers, novelists, comedians and so on – we get silence or, worse, self-righteous preening. Our political and cultural leaders seem to think we can wish the problem away.
Islamism is the danger of the age. Islamists are the enemy all free people face. Sharia is the vulture waiting to consume constitutional liberty if we let it grow too weak to fight back. Honest debate by good people and true is the only way to find solutions. Where is it?