Fractures on the Right

“Recently, I hosted a dinner for a few conservative friends, well-known and influential people in the political community and doing much good work in promoting freedom, justice, national security, sane immigration policy, Zionism, the sovereignty of the individual, and resistance to tyrannical ideologies. And yet, as the evening progressed, basic divisions began to be exposed, especially with respect to the axial distinction between Islam and Islamism — a necessary differentiation, according to my friends. The equation of Islam and Islamism, they argued, arose from ignorance. In fact, it conceded ground to the radicals and extremists, as one of my cherished friends put it in a subsequent letter to me, “by accepting the Islamists’ view that they are the sole representatives of Islam.”

Islamists, from my friend’s perspective, are barbarians, Bedouin outriders to the faith, marginal entities who “clothe themselves in the texts of Islam” instead of recognizing, as do their “moderate” brethren, that a renewed and “open reading” of the Koran is perennially possible and that the more offensive passages can be historicized and legitimately abrogated. Like any other religion, on this view, Islam is not “immune to the dialectics of history,” and can be reinterpreted and brought into a productive relation with the current era. All people of good will should therefore support these moderates and must be on guard not to alienate them through loose talk about the dangers of Islam.

David Solway will be speaking in Toronto at a JDL event soon, will keep you posted.