Wrath of Con?

Wrath of Con

Yesterday (12/31//07) FrontPage Magazine.com published Matthias Kuntzel’s discomfiture over my review-essay on his recently published short book “Jihad and Jew Hatred,” together with a reply I wrote to Kuntzel’s statement.
A correspondent who is a culture critic, accomplished author-essayist, and one of our foremost public intellectuals, sent me the e-mail, below, in response to my original November 30, 2007 review-essay. His observations, I believe, explain the allure of Kuntzel’s shallow, comfort-food like “analysis”:
Hans-Georg Gadamer makes an interesting point in his book Truth and Method. He says that when we evaluate another person’s statements we can approach them in two ways.
First, we can ask is the statement true or false, what evidence is there for the statement and what evidence is there against us. Is the statement coherent, or full of inconsistencies.
Second, we can scratch our heads and ask ourselves, “What on earth would make a person make such an outlandish statement?” In this case we must examine the psychological motives that could explain the utterances, without troubling ourselves to refute it through facts, etc. It is very important to discern the difference here. If someone is guided by wishful or delusional thinking, there is no point in marshalling facts against his position, because his position is not based on facts, but on his will to believe.
When Kuntzel argues that the Muslims were not antisemitic before the Nazis came along, I can only conclude that [such] people truly want to deceive themselves. Their status comes not from the fact that they are experts; they are regarded as experts because they are saying what people want to hear. If there wasn’t a huge audience in the West that desperately wanted to deny the threat Islam poses, no one would pay any attention to Kuntzel.
It’s like a folie a deux, except that the madness is shared not by two, but by a multitude.
And a commenter at Frontpage found this article about the views of Kuntzel’s lone source for his ahistorical claim regarding the “sui generis” 20th century jihad ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Awaisi.
A renowned writer has said the Muslims’ first conquest of Islamic Jerusalem established a multicultural society identifying and recognising diversity and plurality.
Professor Abdul Fattah Al Awaisi, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the Al Maktoum Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies in Scotland, discusses the issue in his new book, Introducing Islamic Jerusalem.One of the chapters, Islamic Jerusalem as a Model for Multiculturalism, examines the Muslim vision for Islamic Jerusalem and infers that in the absence of this vision, there will never be peace and stability.

Al-Awaisi’s reductionist “narrative,” like Kuntzel’s, is characterized by gross omissions, and distortions. I presented an overview of the jihad conquest of historical Palestine in this essay, and more details can be found in both “The Legacy of Jihad”, and the forthcoming “The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism.” The following is a summary of the devastating consequences of the Arab Muslim conquest of Palestine during the fourth decade of the 7th century, directed by the first two Caliphs, Abu Bakr and Umar b. al-Khattab.
The entire Gaza region up to Cesarea was sacked and devastated in the campaign of 634, which included the slaughter of four thousand Jewish, Christian, and Samaritan peasants. Villages in the Negev were also pillaged, and towns such as Jerusalem, Gaza, Jaffa, Cesarea, Nablus, and Beth Shean were isolated. In his sermon on the Day of the Epiphany 636, Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, bewailed the destruction of the churches and monasteries, the sacked towns and villages, and the fields laid waste by the invaders. Thousands of people perished in 639, victims of the famine and plague wrought by this wanton destruction. The Muslim historian Baladhuri (d. 892 C.E.), maintained that 30,000 Samaritans and 20,000 Jews lived in Caesarea alone just prior to the Arab Muslim conquest; afterward, all evidence of them disappears. Archaeological data confirms the lasting devastation wrought by these initial jihad conquests, particularly the widespread destruction of synagogues and churches from the Byzantine era, whose remnants are still being unearthed. The total number of towns was reduced from fifty-eight to seventeen in the red sand hills and swamps of the western coastal plain (i.e., the Sharon). Massive soil erosion from the Judaean mountains western slopes also occurred due to agricultural uprooting during this period. Finally, the papyri of Nessana were completely discontinued after the year 700, reflecting how the Negev also experienced the destruction of its agriculture, and the desertion of its villages.
Elsewhere, I have also summarized in brief, the “Model for Multiculturalism”—pace Kuntzel’s main source on the Muslim Brotherhood’s conception of jihad, al_Awaisi—imposed following this brutal jihad conquest of historical Palestine, and the neighboring lands:
Umar Ibn al-Khattab (d. 644), was the second “rightly guided” caliph of Islam. During his reign, which lasted for a decade (634-644), Syria [i.e., Syro-Palestine, which included modern Judea, Samaria, Gaza, Israel, and Jordan], Iraq and Egypt were conquered. Umar was responsible for organizing the early Islamic Caliphate. Alfred von Kremer, the seminal 19th century German scholar of Islam, described the “central idea” of Umar’s regime, as being the furtherance of “…the religious-military development of Islam at the expense of the conquered nations.” The predictable and historically verifiable consequence of this guiding principle was a legacy of harsh inequality, intolerance, and injustice towards non-Muslims observed by von Kremer in 1868 (and still evident in Islamic societies to this day):
It was the basis of its severe directives regarding Christians and those of other faiths, that they be reduced to the status of pariahs, forbidden from having anything in common with the ruling nation; it was even the basis for his decision to purify the Arabian Peninsula of the unbelievers, when he presented all the inhabitants of the peninsula who had not yet accepted Islam with the choice: to emigrate or deny the religion of their ancestors. The industrious and wealthy Christians of Najran, who maintained their Christian faith, emigrated as a result of this decision from the peninsula, to the land of the Euphrates, and ‘Umar also deported the Jews of Khaybar. In this way ‘Umar based that fanatical and intolerant approach that was an essential characteristic of Islam, now extant for over a thousand years, until this day [i.e., written in 1868]. It was this spirit, a severe and steely one, that incorporated scorn and contempt for the non-Muslims, that was characteristic of ‘Umar, and instilled by ‘Umar into Islam; this spirit continued for many centuries, to be Islam’s driving force and vital principle.
During the jihad campaigns of Umar’s Caliphate, in accord with nascent Islamic Law, neither cities nor monasteries were spared if they resisted. Thus, when the Greek garrison of Gaza refused to submit and convert to Islam, all were put to death. In the year 640, sixty Greek soldiers who refused to apostatize became martyrs, while in the same year (i.e., 638) that Caesarea, Tripolis and Tyre fell to the Muslims, hundreds of thousands of Christians converted to Islam, predominantly out of fear.
Muslim and non-Muslim sources record that Umar’s soldiers were allowed to break crosses on the heads of Christians during processions and religious litanies, and were permitted, if not encouraged, to tear down newly erected churches and to punish Christians for trivial reasons. Moreover, Umar forbade the employment of Christians in public offices. The false claim of Islamic toleration during this prototype “rightly guided” Caliphate cannot be substantiated even by relying on the (apocryphal?) “pact” of Umar (Ibn al-Khattab) because this putative decree compelled the Christians (and other non-Muslims) to fulfill self-destructive obligations, including: the prohibition on erecting any new churches, monasteries, or hermitages; and not being allowed to repair any ecclesiastical institutions that fell into ruin, nor to rebuild those that were situated in the Muslim quarters of a town. Muslim traditionists and early historians (such as al-Baladhuri) further maintain that Umar expelled the Jews of the Khaybar oasis, and similarly deported Christians (from Najran) who refused to apostasize and embrace Islam, fulfilling the death bed admonition of Muhammad who purportedly stated: “there shall not remain two religions in the land of Arabia.”
Umar imposed limitations upon the non-Muslims aimed at their ultimate destruction by attrition, and he introduced fanatical elements into Islamic culture that became characteristic of the Caliphates which succeeded his.
Please read in full “Debating the Islamist-Nazi Connection,” which includes my reply, “The Wrath of Con?”

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism ” (Prometheus, November, 2008)

You can contact Dr. Bostom at @andrewbostom.org

4 responses to “Wrath of Con?

  1. Great going Andy, you masterfully handle Kuntzel in the very same way Jamie Glazov took care of Dinesh D’souza in “Did the Cultural Left Cause 9/11?”.

    http://www.frontpagemag.com/articles/Read.aspx?GUID=A62BDD6C-49FF-4A8B-BA43-093A57DC9BB4

    So I must ask the following logical question, is Matthias Kunztel as much a public masochist as Dinesh D’souza, and do they keep a running tally on how much abuse they plan to dish up for themselves? Just asking.

  2. “Second, we can scratch our heads and ask ourselves, “What on earth would make a person make such an outlandish statement?” ”

    I am amazed that Küntzel’s political affiliation wasn’t discussed much, so far. Küntzel is a member of the “Anti-German” political left. The Anti-Germans appeared as a distinct political group in the early Nineties as a response to the racist attacks on foreigners and general chauvinism following German reunification. The basic creed of the Anti-Germans includes solidarity with Israel and American foreign policy and a critique of mainstream left anti-capitalist views, specifically the anti-globalisation movement, which are (rightfully, I believe) thought to be structurally antisemitic. Antisemitism is considered to be deeply rooted within the German culture and all their political views are focused on fighting this phenomenon. To put it simplistic, they believe that capital and labour overcame their antagonism and focused their mutual efforts on destroying the group historically identified with the “greedy side of capitalism” (“raffender Kapitalismus”) — i.e. the Jews. By destroying them they allowed capitalism to survive. And because capitalism is by definition in a permanent state of crisis, it is trying to save itself through antisemitism and antisemitism is thus a permanent given.

    This means, of course, that the working classes can’t be trusted anymore and the Anti-Germans close that gap by a bit of early Marxist theory, whereby first more capitalism is needed until we can get to communism, specifically in underdeveloped Arab/Islamic/fascist regimes, which, lo and behold, resolves the problem of “Western imperialism” as well: More of it is needed because antisemitism emerges primarily under conditions of stunted capitalist development and Western capitalism (i.e. the USA and their allies in their “war against terrorism”) therefore deserve support.

    My own take on that is, that, while some of the historical analysis of the Anti-Germans has merit, for example that antisemitism is an integral part of German (and European) culture, their conclusions are extremely weird and speak of a self-hatred I find disturbing. As an example: while it is true that, as the Anti-Germans say, mourning for the dead of WWII in Germany is only too often turned into revision of history and relativism of German guilt, mourning itself is natural and legitimate and should not be, as the Anti-Germans do, denounced. A look at this will maybe illustrate what I mean.

    Of course, “Anti-Germanism” is an ideology with a lot of allure for those Germans who are decent enough to see antisemitism for the evil it is, yet who can not face giving up their leftist positions. However, it should not be overlooked that here we have a totally fixed world-view, almost bordering on the cult-like (as anybody who had an argument with one of them will come to see), and if Küntzel blames, in that spirit, the age-old Arab antisemitism on the Germans and gets acclaim for it, historians have a credibility problem.

    The fact that Hitler and the Muslims were quite adequate in their genocidal Jew hatred, even that the Mufti might have influenced Hitler more than vice versa, is quite well documented. This blog entry contains a lot of information and further serious sources, all of which must have been available to Küntzel as well. But if one considers such a fact as something that might be used to relativize the German guilt (and it might indeed), one might easily, consciously or subconsciously, overlook it and then historiography has lost any credibility and its place in academia and can consider itself a preventive political tool to balance injustice.

  3. I forgot: In that light, Irene Lancaster’s fawning review of Küntzels book is not so amazing anymore, the most fatuous passage of which is:

    “In my view, only a German can really understand the links between fascism and Muslim revolutionary movements”

    by which she has placed the academic work of historians firmly, but considering the above, not too surprisingly, into the field of politics. Whereas politics are certainly never ‘pure’, academic work should — at least — strive to be. So I can’t help asking what exactly does Küntzel’s “Germanness” has to do with all this if we don’t accept fuzzy mentality and “he has been there” reasoning on roughly the same level as “when I was growing up our family doctor was a Muslim.” But if we put an “Anti-” in front of the “German”, Lancaster’s statement suddenly makes sense, albeit in a warped way.

  4. KGS pointed out at his blog, where I posted some of the above as well, that one of my sentences doesn’t make sense. Of course he is right. Much too many pronouns!

    Here it is again:

    “To put it simplistic, the Anti-Germans believe that capital and labour overcame their (capital’s and labour’s) antagonism and focused their (capital’s and labour’s) mutual efforts on destroying the group historically identified with the “greedy side of capitalism” (“raffender Kapitalismus”) — i.e. the Jews. By destroying them (the Jews) they capital and labour) allowed capitalism to survive. And because capitalism is by definition in a permanent state of crisis, it is trying to save itself through antisemitism and antisemitism is thus a permanent given.”

    I hope that make more sense now. Not the “Anti-German” creed, but my attempt at explaining it.