Alex Knepper, an American college student who has recently made headlines around the U.S. by challenging reigning ideas about “date rape,” agrees to a telephone interview with a columnist for a major Dutch newspaper – only to find himself represented in the resulting column as a bigot and ignoramus on the subject of Islam. Never mind that he is, in fact, a student of Islamic history who plainly knows a good deal more about Islam than his interviewer. But in the mainstream Western media these days, with few exceptions, the knowledge he possesses is forbidden knowledge, and, through a weird Orwellian alchemy, is magically transmuted in the pages of politically correct newspapers into ignorance and bigotry.
By Alex Knepper, for Human Rights Service
The West’s primary conceit about religion is the idea that any legitimately-practiced faith must necessarily be a force for good. This noble lie is what causes Westerners — particularly those weaned on a diet of multiculturalism and cultural relativism — to imagine Islam as a kind of exotic version of Christianity: that is, not necessarily pure, but basically benign.A reporter for a major Dutch newspaper recently interviewed me by telephone for her regular column, which is devoted to recent developments in Washington, D.C. Her article was originally meant to be about a controversial piece I had written about date rape for the college newspaper at American University in Washington, where I am a student. But the subject of our conversation quickly turned to Dutch politics — specifically, Islam and Geert Wilders.Although the reporter’s piece, as it turned out, treated me gently enough in regard to the controversy over my date-rape column, when it came to Islam I was stunned by her sheer dishonesty and misrepresentation. In line with the almost consistent effort by the mainstream Western media to depict critics of Islam as sputtering caricatures, my views of Islam and Mr. Wilders were presented as essentially narrow, ill-informed, and based on crude stereotypes.You would never have known from reading the Dutch journalist’s column that I am, in fact, a student of Islamic history and that the journalist, who presented our interview as a brief and shallow chat, had in fact conversed with me for nearly an hour – and that during that hour, far from spouting shallow, ignorant comments about Islam, I had informed her about details of Islamic history of which she was manifestly unaware.
For example, she mentioned nothing in her column about my explanation of the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, a pact Muhammad made with the state of Medina. This treaty was intended to be a ten-year truce between the two warring camps, but Muhammad broke it as soon as he had amassed enough power to conquer the city. (Incidentally, this episode contributed significantly to the rise of the Muslim practice known as taqiyyah – lying for the sake of the faith.)
I also suggested to the Dutch reporter that she read any randomly chosen sura of the Qur’an word for word, and explained that this was the fastest way to understand just how ghastly the Muslim faith is. I also cited Muhammad’s farewell speech, in which he declared that he had been «ordered to fight until all men say ‘There is no god but Allah.'» Then there was the small matter of Islam’s institutionalized pedophilia: Aisha, Muhammad’s child bride, had sex with the purported prophet, the perfect Muslim, when she was just nine years old. And these are just starting points. Because of all of this, I maintained, Islamic values are antithetical to Dutch pluralism.»But that’s just it,» the reporter objected. «We’re a pluralistic society. Shouldn’t they be allowed to live out their cultural values in Holland?»I said that it was not tolerant to tolerate the intolerant.»That’s what Wilders always says. He’s always saying things like that to the West. But then he turns around and defames Muslims in Parliament. Not Islam, but Muslims.»She brought up a nasty statement that Wilders allegedly made that the Western media supposedly refuses to cover (the specifics escape me, unfortunately), and asked me if I knew that he tried to ban the Qur’an.»No, he didn’t,» I replied. «He was making a point about hate speech laws. He said that if Mein Kampf can be banned for its hateful language, then the Qur’an can, too. And he’s right. The point of what he did is that religion should not be above criticism. He doesn’t want either of them banned.» (If this is spun as «trying to ban the Qur’an,» how reliable can one assume her statements about Wilders’ «demagoguery» to be?)In her article, the Dutch journalist raised my point – a solid fact – that gay men can no longer walk hand-in-hand in the city of Amsterdam as safely as they once could, only to dismiss it cavalierly as an absurd falsehood that had been fed to non-Dutchmen like me by Dutch demagogues like Wilders. «Come to Amsterdam. You can walk with your boyfriend,» she assured me. What could I say except, «No, I can’t»? I mentioned the attack on gay American publisher Chris Crain, who was assaulted by a group of Muslim youths in an Amsterdam street. But she waved it away it as a non-story.
Disturbingly, the Dutch reporter may in fact be something of a prophet. For it is not unlikely that attacks on gay men will decrease as they increasingly self-censor their behavior. There may not be many more Chris Crain incidents, in short, simply because gay people will be more and more aware of the risk factors. The Dutch article quoted my comment that I would hesitate to hold another man’s hand in certain parts of, say, Mississippi. It simply isn’t safe, so gay people just don’t engage in the behavior. Is Amsterdam – the capital of the country that first granted marriage equality to gay couples – tomorrow’s Mississippi?On the phone, the reporter actually contended that Ayaan Hirsi Ali was essentially a media whore who lied on multiple occasions about her life being threatened. Before the famous incident involving Theo van Gogh, she insisted, Hirsi Ali had tried to provoke radical Muslims into threatening her life so that she could become a media critic of Islam. Hirsi Ali’s life had never been threatened before then, the reporter claimed, but she knew that if she provoked radical Muslims, then she could become famous. Hirsi Ali’s father, according to the reporter, had confirmed this to her.What can one say about such repulsive nonsense? Even a bare-bones outline of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s life reveals nothing but bravery and integrity. She both understands and accepts the risks inherent in speaking out against the totalitarianism of Islam, and she soldiers on even as she is obliged to live a guarded life. In a sane world, she would be universally commended as a shining example of intellectual heroism. Women like my Dutch interlocutor, however, look at Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s courageous life and actually – incomprehensibly – see Muslims as the victims of the story.The Dutch reporter and her relativist kin like to imagine themselves as enlightened elites who have moved beyond the bourgeois morality of yesteryear. That’s all well and good. But the trouble with this postmodern nihilism is that everyone else, including the Muslims, has to follow the same path to enlightenment and transcendence – or else the postmodernists will simply get crushed. Islam has responded to all this foolishness by correctly diagnosing it as a symptom of a moral and cultural vacuum in Europe, and it’s rushing to fill that void. Even as my Dutch reporter and her colleagues, those maggots eating away at the corpse of Old Europe, cheerfully reassure everyone that we have no basis by which to judge the cultural values of others, Dutch values are being swept away. Dutch people are being fed the bizarre line that Sharia law is no better or worse than the Dutch constitution, and that the Qur’an is no better or worse than the Nicomachean Ethics. Imperialism? Pedophilia? They’re just fine, as long as they’re committed by «people of color» in the name of traditional religion.Perhaps what the postmoderns really admire Islam for is how alien it is. Existential dread has not found its way into the Muslim consciousness. Allah’s not dead; Islamic culture is still cohesive. There’s no Allah-worshipping Michel Foucault because there’s no Allah-worshipping Nietzsche. Islam still retains its essential sense of cultural unity – it’s a throwback to a world before our relativist, contemporary life, before anyone ever conceived of the need for cultural relativism, postmodernism, or critical theory. The Islamic world believes in something, the elite journalists of the Western world think – why rob them of it and drown them in our dreary modern world, where we’re «condemned to be free»? In a certain sense, the postmodernists are right: we don’t believe in anything. But one thing is clear: we have to start believing in something again, if we’re going to recover what made Europe the towering force it once was.