In pointing out recently that Geert Wilders confounds Americans with his fearless clarity, one of the incidents I had in mind was an interview he sat for in May with The Daily Caller's Jamie Weinstein (photo above).
Because it so perfectly encapsulates the point at which sparkly-brittle delusions about Islam crack up against obdurate reality, this interview is well worth revisiting, if only to bear witness to the plight of the determined delusionist as he gathers his shards of fantasy and retreats to a vaccuum where he will reassemble them, far from the buffeting facts.
The interview starts off smoothly enough with Geert Wilders' basic story and goals for his book Marked for Death: Islam's War Against the West and Me. Geert goes on to explain why Islam "should not be compared so much with other religions like Christianity or Judaism" but rather "to other totalitarian ideologies like Communism and Fascism. If we acknowledge that fact then you don’t have to treat it like a religion and a lot of problems can be solved far more –"
This a provocative and instructive point but Weinstein cuts him off, deflecting conversation to Israel, which doesn't have a more ardent supporter than Wilders ("Israel is a canary in the coal mine...a beacon of light in total darkness.. I believe we should all support Israel ... in this "jihad against us all"....), to Islam and, at Weinstein's cue, Muslims.
Talking about "people" is one way to steer the debate away from ideology, history and political theory -- dangerous territory for the Islamic apologist-cum-fantasist -- and toward a more squishy, personal, emotional level. It is here where the appalling, anti-humanity imperatives of Islamic doctrine are supposed to recede among visions of ordinary, every day folks, people, kids -- "women of cover" and "Muslim moms and dads," to recall some of George W. Bush's memorably awkward invocations.
Geert states his basic position: that he has nothing against people, that the majority of Muslims in our society are law-abiding. He makes the distinction, a la Ibn Warraq, that there are moderate people who are Muslim, but, getting back to the concrete subject at hand, there is no moderate Islam. "Don't let anybody fool you who says Islam can be moderated," Wilders says. "There are not two Islams; there is only the Islam of the Koran, the Islam of the life of Mohammed, and the Islam of sharia law."
Wilders goes on to declare that we should de-Islamize our societies, "which doesn't mean that we have to make trouble with the Muslim people" so long as they assimilate in our societies, take our values, our constitutions, our rule of law "as the dominant one."
If that's not generous and liberal, I don't know what is. Wilders' position is that Muslim newcomers who accept Western law and values as supreme are welcome in the Judeo-Christian-humanist West. Wilders, however, does not concede to Islamic newcomers the right to regard Islamic law and values as supreme in the West, thereby establishing bastions of Islam that will expand until there is no West.
Such an uncompromising dedication to self-preservation disturbs those Westerners who have chosen the Two Islams approach. This approach is not the result of analysis of the Islam of the Koran, the life of Mohammed, and Islamic law, as Wilders likes to put it, but rather an emotional reaction to Muslim people -- or, at least, to one particular Muslim person, Zuhdi Jasser. Jasser represents to Weinstein and so many other conservatives the poster boy of what they, as Westerners, fancy as An Islam We Can Live With. Islam. This Islam -- call it Islam No. 2 -- is totally and completely separate, they fervently believe, from Islam No.1 -- the Islam That Wants to Detroy Us. The only problem is that No. 2 doesn't exist, not in the Koran or any of the other sacred writings and traditions of Islam.
But, as Weinstein makes clear, that doesn't matter a bit.
WEINSTEIN: And here’s an area a lot of conservatives in the US may differ with you …You're taking, in essence, the bin Laden view of Islam. You’re kind of excommunicating those who don’t adhere to the strict form of Islam that’s prescribed by Qutb and the Wahhabist vision. Why not – you know, you re not a scholar of Islam, you studied Islam -- but why not take those, in the states like Zuhdi Jasser, and say well, you know, I’m going to stand behind them and if they believe there’s a moderate Islam, and if there’s plenty of Muslims who believe that they’re Muslims, I’m going to stand behind them and not take the bin Laden view of excommunicating, takfiri, excommunicating people from the Islamic faith.
It is an extraordinary statement. Let's break it down.
WEINSTEIN: And here’s an area a lot of conservatives in the US may differ with you …
... [subtext] because Wilders has confronted the facts about Islam and drawn the conclusion that Islam poses a danger to liberty. That's so extreme. What Weinstein and his fellow conservative fail to appreciate is that Islam is extreme. Such innate extremism, as codifed by mainstream, classical Islam, is simply beyond their ken. Their brains seem to short-circuit. Taking Islam at its word, then, becomes something only an extremist would do. Hence, he continues:
WEINSTEIN: You're taking, in essence, the bin Laden view of Islam, you’re kind of excommunicating those who don’t adhere to the strict form of Islam that’s prescribed by Qutb and the Wahhabist vision.
Never mind that bin Laden's Qutb's and the Wahhanist "view" and "form" of Islam conforms perfectly to the view and form of the Koran, the life of Mohammed and the sharia!
WEINSTEIN: Why not – you know, you re not a scholar of Islam, you studied Islam -- but why not take those like in the states like Zuhdi Jasser and say well, you know, I’m going to stand behind them and if they believe there’s a moderate Islam, and if there’s plenty of Muslims who believe that they’re Muslims, I’m going to stand behind them and not take the bin Laden view of excommunicating, takfiri, excommunicating people from the Islam faith.
Wishing, sadly, doesn't make it so. Nor does blaming bin Laden for what is written in the Koran, the life of Mohammed and the sharia.
But wishing -- fantasy-- is the state of conventional political thought today regarding Islam. In imploring Wilders to "stand behind" the placebo-Islam of Zuhdi Jasser, Weinstein is asking him also to reject the reality-Islam of Mohammed -- just as Weinstein and Co. have rejected it as something extreme, like bin Laden. But as Geert replies crisply, it isn't his or anyone's else's place or role to create or validate some do-it-yourself Islam of one's own concoction or choosing.
WILDERS: I’m not excluding anyone. Who am I? The one who is excluding Muslims who don’t adhere to the holy book and the life of Mohammed is the Koran. ... If [Muslim moderates] assimilate to our society they are as equal as anybody else and they should be treated with respect, but don’t let anybody fool you that there is a moderate Islam; there is not. If moderate Muslims call themselves Muslims, I’m happy with that, but according to the Koran they are not Muslims, they are renegades, they are apostates.
And apostates, according to Islamic law, must be killed. Indeed, as Geert points out a little later in the interview, a recent poll in Egypt shows that 84 percent of Egyptians want apostates from Islam to be killed.
WEINSTEIN: My question is, Why do we need to get into the textual elements of this? If Zuhdi Jasser -- and as you said most, many, most Muslims around the world are not, you know, trying to start a holy war with the West, and they think they’re Muslims and they believe that they’re adhering to the faith -- why not say let’s get behind those and fight for that interpretation? You know, you may be right in your interpretation, bin Laden might be right, but why as outsiders why don’t we get behind those who interpret it some way else?
Odious comparison between a democratic politician living under an Islamic fatwa and a jihadist murderer of infidels sitting at their desks aside, the crucial point here is Weinstein's acknowledgment that reality, facts, truth, are all so many extraneous details next to the importance of "getting behind" the fantasists -- the truly tiny band of extremists.
This is a bizarro attitude on many levels, not least of which is the reflex not to protect the liberty of the West -- doable -- but rather, as "outsiders," to mix into and imagine it possible to reshape Islam to our own uses -- impossible.
WILDERS: It’s not me, once again, or bin Laden -- you can mention me in the same sentence with bin Laden you are allowed to do so [Weinstein interjects that he is not comparing Wilders to bin Laden] but it’s the Koran who does it ..… it’s not bin Laden or Geert Wilders or anybody else, it’s the Koran who does it.
If Islam becones stronger in a society – and we experienced it in the last ten years and it’s the difference between Europe and America -- … even though the majority [of Muslims] are moderates as you rightfully said, we se see honor killings, we see female genitial mutilation, we see forced marriage, we see sharia banking, we even see – and a lot of Americans don’t know this -- sixty active sharia courts in the UK, active today, where the word of a woman is worth half of a man, this is already implemented in Holland. So you can say and defend that there are many moderate Muslims, but the reality proves and shows that in European countries where Islam becomes more dominant, where the perecentage of Muslims rises from 5 to 10 sometimes 15 percent, that people who [criticize] Islam are being threatened by death, like myself, people are taken to court, there is, like I said, sharia implemented, and this all goes against our perception of how a free society, how freedom of speech, and how equality between men [should be].
Wilders believes that the answer -- the longterm, down the line, best possible answer -- is for Muslims to renounce Islam altogether.
But, but, but -- what about that valiant Saudi woman who was determined to drive a car, Weinstein asks, interpreting her important rebellion as coming from within Islam. Geert has a different interpretation. He sees the woman, whom he writes about in his book, as showing that "the love of freedom is stronger than the ideology itself." That's when he mentioned the post-Mubarak poll indicating overwhelming support among Egyptians for the Islamic penalty for leaving Islam: death. "This proves my point," he said. "If you really want freedom, equality of women, others, you have to get rid of the ideology of Islam."
Weinstein's comment? "Saw that poll; it was very troubling." Moving right along ...
Now he wants to turn to the labels Wilders has used to describe Mohammed -- a matter of far more urgency to Weinstein, apparently, that the popularity of the Islamic death penalty that Mohammed invented for apostates!
WEINSTEIN: You’ve called Mohammed a devil, a terrorists, a barbarian, a mass murderer, a pedophile … Beyond whether it’s true or not, is it helpful as a politician to do that? Is it useful to call someone who is beloved by even moderate Muslims – you don’t believe in moderate Muslims -- by Muslims who aren’t violent, as a prophet?
WILDERS: I believe in the truth. ...
And so should we all. See the rest of Geert's answer here.
What this whole exchange underscores is the terrible danger we have exposed ourselves to: We in the West have become so estranged from the truth that we have no relationship with facts; they have become foreign objects to be spurned. Our main goal now is to build our walls high against them, and woe to anyone who brings them into the citadel-psyche of pretend.