Two days ago, on my own blog, I posted a defense of Allen West against some "friendly fire" from the wonderful conservative columnist Diana West (no relation), who in turn was disappointed with Allen West's response to some criticism he'd gotten from a group of liberal religious leaders -- you know, the type who probably sport "Coexist" bumper stickers on their cars.
As you may know, Allen West caught some flak for making critical comments about his fellow Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) in an interview a couple weeks ago. The "Coexist"ers rebuked Congressman West for being so critical of Islam and so uncivil toward a colleague. West responded to them with a letter containing some very harsh words about CAIR, an organization that Ellison has been very buddy-buddy with. CAIR is, as Ben Howe points out in his front-page post today, a front group for Hamas. West criticized Ellison's involvement with CAIR, which he called one of those "organizations that masquerade as peaceful moderates" while having
long histories of supporting violent anti-American and anti-Israel terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood. These organizations operate within our borders, and as an elected official, I have the obligation to speak the truth and educate my constituency on the threat they pose. I spent 22 years protecting the United States in uniform and I will continue to do that in the House of Representatives.
The "Coexist" bunch was not mollified, to no one's surprise.
However, the letter also disquieted some in the anti-Islamist community -- for very different reasons. That's because, in the same letter, West also said the following. (But notice the phrases I've boldfaced, which might vindicate West somewhat in the eyes of those who fear that he's softened his stance):
I am neither anti-Muslim nor anti-Islam. I respect every religion, and the right to practice that faith in a peaceful manner.
In a town hall meeting... Nezar Hamze, Executive Director of the South Florida chapter of [CAIR], asked me a question about my stance on Islam.
I told Mr. Hamze... that "I will always defend your right to practice a free religion under the First Amendment." I want you to know that I will always support religious freedom practiced in a way that is peaceful for all Americans. Throughout my more than 22 year career in the U.S. Army and working for the government, including 43 months serving in the Middle East, I befriended many who practice the Islamic faith, and have known these people to be peaceful, patriotic Americans.
Let me be clear. It is the extremist, radical element that has hijacked Islam that presents a dangerous threat to both our country and our allies throughout the world. This radical jihadist movement has no place in the United States of America or anywhere on earth. I've seen firsthand the vicious hatred that stems from their radical interpretation of the Koran, and I condemn it fully.
After the comments about CAIR mentioned earlier, and some sober words about the grave dangers we face as shown by the 1998 embassy bombings, the U.S.S. Cole bombing and the 9/11 attacks, West ended the letter with this:
I certainly will take your concerns to heart, and hope that we can work together to continue to educate the American public on the importance of both understanding the threats we face, and exercising religious tolerance. It appears to me that you have the very same goals as I do -- to keep our freedom intact and ensure that the foundations on which this country was founded are never jeopardized.
I emphasized certain phrases in the paragraphs above because those should be kept in mind as we consider the critiques of Congressman West's letter by those on the other end of the spectrum from the "Coexist" bumper sticker crowd. Diana West wrote a whole article at Big Peace about it, concluding with this:
The extremist, radical element — jihad — has not “hijacked” innocent passenger Islam; such radicalism steers the plane — or, more to the point, charts the flight path. Would that the Congressman’s reply have noted instead that his comments were directed at the Islamic faith in jihad, in the Islamic intolerance, indeed, negation of other faiths, and that the respective holy men ought to consider engaging in some serious study of sharia, jihad and dhimmitude and joining this most vital debate — not suppressing it.
Even more hard-hitting is a critique by Ben, an anti-Islam activist who runs the blog Islam Exposed and is apparently a longtime Allen West fan. Yesterday, Ben posted a piece called "Why I Must Reject Rep. Allen West." Ben is not just disappointed, as Diana West was; Ben feels betrayed. Since I am quite impressed with Ben's knowledge of Islam, and his commitment to defeating it, I think he deserves to be heard. Here are his rebuttals of each of several phrases and sentences in West's letter.
"I am neither anti-Muslim nor anti-lslam"
If any seeker or holder of high office is not against Islam, then I am against him. Once you know what it is, you must be opposed to it if you have any morality.
"l respect every religion"
Islam is not a religion, it is a way of life: intra-species predation. Respect is given where respect is due, Islam is not owed any.
"practice that faith in a peaceful manner"
Islam's faith component serves as a troop motivator and camouflage. It promises Muslims eternity in a celestial bordello if they wage jihad and threatens them with eternal torment in the fire if they refuse. If it is a religion, it must be peaceful and beneficent.
War is a required part of Islam, ordained by 2:216. It is not like "cafeteria Catholicism" it is all or nothing: ..."Then do you believe in a part of the Scripture and reject the rest? "...2:85. Islamic law requires a minimum of one military expedition against disbelivers in every year, if it is not performed when possible, all who know of the obligation are in sin.
"right to practice a free religion"
Islam is slavery, not freedom. Believers are Allah's slaves, purchased to fight his wars; 9:111. Is there a right to engage in world conquest? In 8:39, Allah orders Muslims to fight until only Allah is worshiped, "alltogether and everywhere". 3:110 tells Muslims that they are "the best of peoples". Bukhari's collection of authentic hadith informs us that the expression means: "the best of peoples for the people, as you bring them with chains on their necks till they embrace Islam."
Islamic law informs us that when women and children are captured by Muslims, "they become slaves by the fact of capture, and the woman's previous marriage is immediately annulled".
Religious freedom is for legitimate religions, not crime syndicates. Islam's mission is mercenary and its method is martial. Islam does not reciprocate, it demands a monopoly.
The Qur'an contains eight verses which prohibit friendship with disbelievers. Tafsir Ibn Kathir sheds some light on this issue in "The Prohibition of Supporting the Disbelievers"; "We smile in the face of some people although our hearts curse them.''
"radical element that has hijacked Islam"
Islam has not been hijacked, it is evil by design. Terrorism is not a modern innovation, it is a foundational sacrament in the core of Islam. I refer doubters and dissenters to a previous post: "What's Wrong With Islam/Muslims?" for the disgusting details.
"their radical interpretation of the Koran"
The interpretation belongs to Islam's founder; what he said and did while not engaged in revelation shows us how he interpreted what he revealed. In the last decade of his life, [Muhammad] started a war on the average of every six weeks. A glance at the table of contents of The Life of Muhammad will tell you what you need to know about Islam.
These are good points, in my opinion. I would only point out that if one reads West's letter in its entirety, as a unified whole rather than in the bits and pieces presented here, the overall impression is one of firm resolve.
I'd like to close with a perspective from David Gaubatz, an incredibly brave man who went undercover with CAIR, and afterward, co-authored an exposé of what he'd found, titled Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That's Conspiring to Islamize America. Gaubatz was also the first U.S. civilian Federal Agent deployed to Iraq in 2003. It's probably safe to say that Gaubatz loathes radical Islam as much as anyone out there. But ponder his words in a FrontPageMag interview that he gave when his book came out in 2009:
I owe my life to Muslims from Iraq who risked their lives for me and many Americans in 2003. The family of Mohammed Rehaief (Iraqi lawyer who rescued Private Jessica Lynch in Nasiriyah, Iraq) are examples of Muslims who truly represent the Islamic people. They saved my life on several occasions and I had the opportunity to rescue their family from Al Qaeda who had threatened their lives.
Further I have always advised all children are innocent and I (like many American troops) would have given my life for them in Iraq. During many of my lectures I have informed people they should not fear the Islamic people, but have every right to be an "Islamic Scholar Phobe"....
So, here's the question.
Has Allen West buckled under, like so many other politicians -- has Washington already "gotten to him"?
Or is he "picking his battles" as Sun Tzu, the intellectual mentor he frequently cites, might advise?
To put it another way: As the phrases I boldfaced in his statements might suggest, is he choosing his words carefully for tactical reasons, while remaining just as fully committed to the battle?
Or is it unrealistic to expect any politician to really be that clever?