1/17/2005

ends and means

In a nod to the pre-LGF civility of the past, Joshua left a thought-provoking comment:

In his previous post, Aziz takes the position that no matter how flawed the leaders of CAIR are, their work is needed and so CAIR must be supported. And in these posting I'm taking the position that no matter how flawed Daniel Pipes is, his work is needed and so must be supported.


I can certainly see how my position can be interpreted thusly, but it's not exactly a parallel analogy. CAIR's leaders are flawed, but in harmless ways. There is absolutely no way in which CAIR's leadership can endanger the national security of the United States in a metrial sense, or undermine the fabric of a free society that we take all too much for granted (all the more fragile in the wake of the Bush Administration's various stances on domestic political propaganda, secrecy, torture, and arbitrary incarceration of "enemy combatants"[1]). For all theirfaults, the CAIR leadership is primarily a civil rights organization, and this places them on the side of the Founders.

Pipes, with his advocacy of a strongman in Iraq rather than a freely elected government, and his apologia for Japanese internment[2], stands firmly on the other side. Even his attempt to define the "good guy muslims" required that muslims such as myself eschew the basic tenets of our belief - a standard whose ludicrousness is self-evident when applied to Christianity[3].

Are Pipes' writings useful? No. They paint a one-sided picture of a non-existent fifth-column threat, and thus undermine liberty not just for muslims but for all citizens. Is CAIR a useful organization? Yes, because they defend those liberties (and not alone - they have even fought alongside the ADL in common cause). There is a line in the sand, and I choose my side without hesitation. Pipes can stand upon the other side with the likes of Mubarak and Putin.

[1] A term that can even be applied to US citizens without due process. At least Lincoln formally suspended Habeus Corpus, on the record. The present Administration prefers subvert civil liberties via more indirect means.
[2] Pipes has repudiated the concept of muslim internment, and distanced himself from even the mandatory registration issue - but remains in denial that such policies are the natural policy extension of his own arguments.
[3] The argument that only Islam is responsible for terror is nonsensical. The Oklahoma City bombing and the anthrax attacks were borne of the fabric of the culture of right-wing "Christian Identist" white supremacy, a proto-fascist movement whose rise David Neiwert has ably chronicled in his landmark essay on fascism. McVeigh's ties to the Identists are well-documented and thus refute the claim that his "atheism" can be separated from these groups' ideologies.

2 comments:

Joshua Scholar said...

My problem isn't really with CAIR isn't their work at all, but with a Muslim community that honors Hamas veterans with it's deepest trust instead of shunning them as terrorists (there are a few in the CAIR leadership).

I can find flaws with Pipes all day. I read an article by Hitchens the other day where he catches out Pipes and comes to the conclusion that Pipes is too angry to be trusted. My support for Pipes stems (at this point) almost entirely from his drive to expose pro-fascist appologists in academia - that's work that someone has to do, and I don't see other volunteers as ironic as it may be for Pipes to lead it.

Anyway, American Muslims acceptance of terrorist veterans among them, near universal support for terrorism in Israel etc. points out to me EXACTLY why we need a someone doing Pipes work. If CAIR's ties were a deep embarrasment rather than a plus, my attitude would be different.

You linked to an article claiming that there has been no 5th column - well I'm greatful that there has been no second 9/11, but I do remember a segement on "This American Life" where the reporter went down to a Mosque in New York city that had been collecting money for Al Qa'eda and interviewed a number of Al Qa'eda supporters. I can't judge whether such people are rare...

Joshua Scholar said...

Perhaps I should have said "I can't judge whether such people are rare, but I did notice that they found no reason to be shy."