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Thursday, 11 October 2007
Intellectual, Not Physical, Toughness Is Needed

"'...he [John McCain] apparently is not tough enough to sit down and read, and begin to think clearly, about the tenets and attitudes and atmospherics of Islam.' -- [quoted from my earlier posting here]

I don't like McCain's politics and style a little [sic] bit, but I think that it is a little silly to say that a man who endured five years in a communist prison is "not tough enough" to read a book.

If someone has not taken the time to read the Carolingian Divines (if he ever even heard of them), is it fair to say that he isn't tough enough to wade through Richard Hooker? If you want McCain to read some books, send them to him."
-- from a reader

But that was my whole point. There is physical and emotional toughness, and much is made of it, in McCain's case. But there is another of toughness that is, in the counter-Jihad, much more important. It is intellectual in nature.

The deep belief that "toughness" in the physical sense is what is needed, and that McCain, or anyone else, deserves support, and should be listened to, because he is "tough" should be put paid to, for they endanger us. In the same way, in another country menaced more obviously, and for much longer, by a Jihad, Israel, skeptics were constantly told that the ignorance about Islam, and geopolitical folly of Sharon, could be overlooked or ignored because he was a "tough old soldier" --- and the same phrase used for the even more egregious Rabin when he committed his earlier, similar acts of folly and appeasement. There are generals who are intellectually alert, and capable of realizing that something is going on, as in Iraq, that requires something a bit more complicated than a "Counterinsurgency Manual" based on the notion that Islam need not be factored in because "all counterinsurgencies" are alike, and that comes to such curious conclusions as "in general insurgencies last about ten years" which is an absurd remark, and anyone who does not see why it is absurd should be forever banned from making policy, about insurgencies or anything else.

McCain may be "tough enough to read a book" but his statements show no signs that he has read any books on Islam. Why not? Why hasn't he? Isn't that the first thing that you or I, in his position, would have started to do, round about the twelfth of September, 2001? Wouldn't we have started, perhaps, with the sly apologists, say Esposito, or his downmarket equivalent, Karen Armstrong, but soon enough detected the false notes, the absurdities, and put away those childish things, and then gone on to, say, Bernard Lewis, but then, too, discovered that there was something unsatisfactory about him, not through boots on the ground, but through the widespread understanding of Islam among the world's Infidels, who will then be able to, and understand the need for, take the most elementary measures to ensure their own present and future security, both physical and civilizational.

You suggest that it is unfair to blame McCain (and McCain is only an egregious example of a widespread problem, for who among the present candidates has decided to learn about, shows signs of having learned about, Islam? And how few of those now in the Administration and in Congress, not running for office, or in the nation's press or radio or television, show signs of having studied, and thoroughly grasped, the texts and tenets of Islam?).

You further mention the Carolingian Divines and Richard Hooker. Do you really think that the failure of someone to have read "The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity" is comparable to, is on a par with, the failure at this point in the world's history to have read the Qur'an, with appropriate commentaries by non-apologists, such as that now being composed, week by week, by Robert Spencer? Or to find out what the word "Sunnah" means and then to become acquainted with a few hundred of the relevant Hadith that are the written records of that "Sunnah," the few hundred that are ranked as the most authentic in the collections of Bukhari and Muslim?

And when you suggest that somehow I have only myself to blame, for why the hell haven't I sent the books to McCain I think he should read, and otherwise stop complaining, can you be serious? I know perfectly well what happens to books sent to members of Congress. They are sent thousands of pieces of mail, and all kinds of books. How many of them do you think actually are brought to their attention? And why am I to take on that responsibility? Shouldn't McCain's advisers, shouldn't McCain himself, take time out from his busy schedule, of making winsome jokes on Jay Leno, and shouldn't all the other candidates, in both parties, do the same, and sit down, for god's sake, and start learning?

I wrote about McCain, but he is only one of the targets. Save for Tom Tancredo, who knows, I have reason to believe, a bit more about Islam than the others, who has done his homework? What can Berger, what can Madeleine Albright (see her idiotic remarks on Islam, reminiscent of Bush's "hijacking a great religion" stuff, in her new, and worthless, book), what can even Richard Holbrooke, who is still basking in the glory of Dayton, alas, and therefore in a view of the world in which it is Muslims who are the victims -- Holbrooke never understood the rational fears of the Serbs over Izetbegovic's declared plans to impose Shari'a law in the areas he controlled, and had no sense of the weight of the Ottoman cruelties, including the devshirme -- does Holbrooke know what the word "devshirme" means -- meant that caused Serbs to support, briefly, someone like Milosevich? No, it is not McCain alone; it is all of them, and their advisers too. So far the only adviser listed whose name inspires some confidence is that of Martin Kramer, among those said to be consulted by Giuliani. I hope he does indeed advise Giuliani, and that his understanding of Islam prevails, even if at times he remains a bit too loyal -- it's hard not to be, for Lewis is so kind, so good to his old students, so impressive in so many ways -- to Bernard Lewis, and to others who should not be immune to intelligent criticism -- prevails especially over the non-comprehension of Norman Podhoretz, given to large, misleading, ill-informed pronouncements, and to unswerving support for the folly of Tarbaby Iraq.

Why don't you take the responsibility and send them all a book? No, make it a dozen books apiece. And throw in "The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity." It can be obtained in a cheap Penguin edition.

Posted on 10/11/2007 3:08 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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