I like Mitt Romney as a person. But some of his statements about Islam are beyond odd. They show a shallow, misinformed understanding of the nature of that ideology and the threat we face from Islam. One misinformed sounding quote is “Jihadism is no part of Islam.” Most recently he called Lebaonon “a democracy” and praised Hezbollah for its health care program.
Desiring clarification of the statement that “Jihadism is no part of Islam,” and understanding that Walid Phares is a national policy advisor to Governor Romney, I emailed Dr. Phares and asked if he would straighten out my rather unfavorable understanding of Romney’s statement.
Beth Malik, on behalf of Dr. Phares replied. She provided a link (below) to an American Thinker article that elaborates Romney’s position which, in essence, is that Jihadism is the national security threat, and not all of Islam.
I replied that my concerns were not resolved by her answer but in fact were confirmed.
Beth replied once again, and again confirmed that Romney’s concern is limited to Jihadism, not Islam –they only consider Jihadism as the threat and not the ideology (Islam) that promotes that threat. She further stated that Romney’s position is “very sophisticated” and “very advanced”, especially in comparison with the other candidates who only use the term “radical Islam” without defining it.
Unfortunately that comparison is NOT true. Here is a quote from the New York Times on one of Newt Gingrich’s views on the Islamic Threat:
Long before he announced his presidential run this year, Newt Gingrich had become the most prominent American politician to embrace an alarming premise: that Shariah, or Islamic law, poses a threat to the United States as grave as or graver than terrorism.
That doesn’t sound like an ill-defined comment on “radical Islam.” It is a statement that defines the real threat of the political essence of Islam: Sharia Law.
The facts surrounding Islam’s founding, doctrine, historical practice, and statements of Islam’s leaders today lead me to believe that the Romney campaign is grossly out of touch with the Islamic threat to our way of life.
Read through the sequence of emails, below, and then let me know, with your comments, if you believe Romney’s position on Jihad and Islam are adequate to address the threat.
My Original Message…
Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2012 5:05 PM
Subject: internet visitor
Are you still an advisor to Mitt Romney (Ihope)?
If so, is he listening to you?
I ask this because of an occasional quote I hear from him such as this one:
“Jihadism is not part of Islam.”
That may as well be Barack Obama saying this. And we don’t need that kind of ignorance in the White House.
Please straighten out my understanding of this.
From: Walid Phares [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2012 10:19 PM
Subject: Re: internet visitor
I have forwarded your message to Professor Phares who indeed is a Senior Advisor to Governor Romney
He asked me to forward this article to you, which he recommends. He believes these notions are somewhat explained in the piece
From what I understand the Governor meant that Jihadism is the actual national security threat and it is not all of Islam. Meaning it is the doctrine that openly threatens the US. One can still debate any religion theologically in a free society but the component that is a direct menace is Jihadism. It targets non Muslims and moderate Muslims aliek. That's my reading of the Gov.'s position
Don't hesitate to contact Dr Phares in the future.
Can you send us your web site, blog or your CV to have it on file?
To: 'Walid Phares'
Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2012 11:46 PM
Subject: RE: internet visitor
Thank you for your reply.
I understand the essence of the American Thinker article, that Mr. Romney does not dwell on the literalist interpreters version of Islam, that he thinks Islam itself is benign, that there is a radical element that has attached itself to Islam that is the problem.
It is exactly that position with which I whole-heartedly disagree. The historic Islamic doctrine, as taught and promoted by the dominant Islamic leaders today, is what informs and serves as the basis for Islamic intolerance and hatred toward the west today. Yes, there are Muslims who are uninformed about their faith, nominal Muslims who prefer western values just as there are “nominals” of every religion. But unlike Christianity, devoutness of Muslims increases what we call the “radicalization of Muslims.” The more devout Muslims tend to be the more radical Muslims become, do they not? Doesn’t that inform us at all about the nature of Islam?
I’m sorry to say that the answer you offer only adds to my concern about Mr. Romney’s position on Islam.
From: Walid Phares [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, January 20, 2012 12:33 AM
Subject: Re: internet visitor
Let me try one more time to explain a notion that is very sophisticated.
I don't think Governor Romney is saying that Islam is benign or not. These are your words. There are some in town who state that either one would take a position on all of Islam and Muslims based on texts or not.
In theological debates one can proceed in religion and philosophies analysis. You are free to base your theological or political judgement on your understanding of it. There is no quarell.
But the Governor and decision makers do not state their position based on theological grounds. They look at the threat and defines it. The threat that actually targets and organize, and is moving forward is not theological texts. It is made of networks, finances and political forces. He coins them as Jihadists. If you have noted he didn't say Islam is a religion of Peace or Islam is a religion of war. He said a majority of Muslims are peaceful, and that is a reality. And said the organized force that is targeting us are the Jihadists (including regimes and groups) and that too is a fact.
Reaching that point in national security is very advanced. The other candidates said the threat is "Radical Islam" thinking they made an advance. In fact they aren't able to define what it is.
Now, if you as a citizen wish to declare that the threat is a theology in the absolute, that is your view not the one of Governor Romney, not even the other ones, as they make a distinction between 'radical Islam" and Islam
I do respect your views and hope you success in your debates
Thank you again for your reply, Beth.
Many believe it is foolhardy to isolate the tactics (Jihadism) from the ideology (Islam). Such separation squanders potential understanding of the motivation behind the Jihadism that we are fighting. It results in us not knowing our enemy as well as we need to.
In fact, here is something more advanced than separating the tactics from the ideology: Consider Islam as (primarily) a political ideology using “religion” as a protection. Think “Communism or Fascism cloaked in religious zeal.”
After all, as many point out (Warner, Spencer, and others), the Islamic holy books devote most of their space to how Muslims should think and act with regard to the “infidel”, “unbeliever”, and “apostate.” Their ideology is political also because their belief system is mandatory/coercive, not optional, e.g. Sharia Law. It is enforced through force – I’m certain you know all this.
This raises a question: Do Walid or Mitt believe the attempt to impose Sharia law in this country is either part of Islam or part of Jihadism?
Ignoring the texts of this ideology is like ignoring Mein Kampf or the Manifesto. There is little difference. The only reason for ignoring this parallel that makes any sense to me is perhaps in the mind of some ignoring these similarities may be out of fear of offending or inciting Muslims predisposed to hate us. If we persisted with such fears with regard to the other two cited ideologies, we would be speaking Russian or German. I hope that is not the thinking of the Romney advisors.