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Wednesday, 7 November 2012
Fitzgerald: Ayatollah Khomeini And Fethulleh Gulen Bookmark and Share
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[Re-posted from April 8, 2010]

The Ayatollah Khomeini was forced to leave Iran by the Shah, but he found refuge in Iraq, and lived there for years until Saddam Hussein booted him out. Saddam considered him a potential threat to the Sunni despotism that, disguised as "Ba'athism," had reigned, more and less harshly depending on the ruler and the outside circumstances, in Iraq for decades. And when he had to leave Iraq, it was not clear where Ayatollah Khomeini could go. He couldn't return to Iran. But he also couldn't or wouldn't be taken in by any other Muslim Arab state, for they were all ruled by, dominated by, Sunni Arabs. They would not likely give refuge to a fanatical Shi'a Muslim who might hearten local Shi'as (in such countries as Bahrain, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen). In any case, he would be regarded with natural hostility and distrust, not unmingled with contempt, by Sunni Arabs.

But there was one country that was wiling to take the Ayatollah Khomeini in. And that country was not a Muslim state, but France. Famous for offering refuge to all sorts of revolutionaries and dissidents in the nineteenth century, the French government, or some in it, no doubt were moved by the Morality Play that was artfully constructed. According to it, the Shah, being vainglorious (he was that), and his court, being corrupt (it was that), and the regime, being allied to the Americans (it was that), was certifiably on the side of the Devil. And therefore Khomeini must have been a brave, tiers-monde debout-les-damnés-de-la-terre fighter for freedom, with - who could expect otherwise? - a special fondness and interest in Islam. But why not, and what was wrong with Islam anyway?

So he settled down, did this fanatic, into a comfortable existence at Neauphle-le-Chateau. And there he was not prevented from acting, not prevented from receiving visitors, not prevented from recording tapes full of calls for the violent overthrow of the Shah. Those tapes were then smuggled back to Iran, re-recorded by the tens of thousands, and then sent all over Iran to be listened to by others, including the rural poor and the urban bazaris. They were eager to listen to this fiery orator who was also a learned Shi'a theologian, and could appeal without any effort to the texts and tenets of Islam for support as he painted the Shah as an enemy of Islam because the Shah was a friend of, and defender of, Infidels.

Thirty years of the Islamic Republic of Iran have passed, and the hell is there for all to see. The hell of Khomeini, no sooner coming to power than reducing the marriageable age of girls to nine years, because that was good enough for Muhammad. And the hell of the execution of many of the members of the former regime, including people who were not wicked at all - such as Amir-Abbas Hoveyda - but the very best of the ancien regime, to be supplemented, later on, by the killing of some of the best Iranians in exile, such as Shahpour Bakhtiar, who had during World War II joined the French Resistance, and who, as a member of the Iranian resistance to Khomeini, having escaped the Gestapo, was many decades later murdered in Paris by Khomeini's agents.

It is amazing to me that no one in France has seen fit to utter a mea culpa (much less a mea maxima culpa) for this idiocy. For despite all his faults (and they were many), the Shah was, compared to what followed, practically Winston Churchill. And if there was one thing that characterized the Shah and the ancien regime of hoveydas and tabatabais, it was francophilia, French education, the French language. The Shah himself had attended Le Rosey in Switzerland. French lycees flourished in Teheran. The Shahbanou herself was part of the francophilia that in Iran was as notable a feature as it had been of pre-Revolutionary Russia. England was always, in Iranian eyes, the suspect, the enemy. England was the country of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. But France offered the "perfected civlisation" of Chamfort.

And yet it was France that, in offering the Ayatollah Khomeini what he could not have obtained anywhere in the Muslim world -- that is, asylum -- made possible the rise of Khomeini and the founding of the dangerous Islamic Republic of Iran. In Neauphle-le-Château Khomeini recorded those tapes which were then smuggled back into Iran and tens of thousands of copies made, and those copies sent all over Iran. The lessons of the Great Leader and Learned Theologian (an ayatollah, forsooth) Khomeini were listened to, with attention, with rapture, with fanatical faith by those sharpening their knives for the Shah, and those hoveydas, and those tabatabais.

Whoever, in the French government, had the bright idea of granting asylum to the Ayatollah Khomeini, helped to bring down the country where la francophonie and francophilia were kept alive. It was madness. And it should have been foreseen, for it was all utterly predictable, save for one thing, the other development so necessary to the resistible rise of Khomeini.

And that was the fact that from January 1977 to January 1981, during the period when the Shah's regime toppled and then fell, the people in charge of the American government, the ones most concerned with foreign policy and, specifically, with policy in Iran, were simply not up to the task.

There was Jimmy Carter, whose ostentatious piety, his treacly holier-than-thou aspect, led him even to write to the Infidel-despising Khomeini and appeal to him, ludicrously, as a "fellow man of faith." There was Zbigniew Brzezinski, harboring his resentments against those who had always been more obviously intelligent than he -- the worldly success Henry Kissinger, and even the young Stanley Hoffman, who stayed in Cambridge but was always, and obviously, to everyone from Carl Friedrich on down, intellectually superior to Brzezinski. This came out in Brzezinski's anti-Israel theme which, of course, naturally made him far less alarmed about Islam -- why, to this day he is not alarmed about, and completely ignorant of, Islam.

And the third person in this witches' brew or grim galere was the "Iran expert" Gary Sick, an Iran expert who knew nothing about Khomeini, could not read what Khomeini had so clearly set out in his own writings, and who, furthermore, was animated by the same animus toward Israel as was Brzezinski and Carter, and that always and everywhere somehow has a way of playing itself out, expressing itself, in not wanting to understand the threat of aggressive Islam. For if one were to truly understand that, then perforce one would have to be, antisemite or not, a defender of Israel as a key ally and obstacle to what is, after all, a worldwide Jihad that does not stop with Israel, or India, or even with Western Europe.

It was Carter, Brzezinski, and Sick who did not respond adequately to the appearance and challenge of Khomeini, but abandoned the Shah, vainglorious as he was, when the ancien regime, under someone more enlightened -- say, Shahpour Bakhtiar or someone of that illustrious ilk -- could certainly have survived. The fall of the regime, the rise of Khomeini, was not inevitable.

But two Western powers -- France and the United States -- helped Khomeini, the first in a sin of commission (that asylum, that refuge, at Neauphle-le-Château) and the second in a sin of omission (what the American government failed to do early on to help the Shah's forces suppress, not least by understanding and disseminating that understanding, what Khomeini was all about, not least to the Iranian left and its foreign supporters).

Why go over this business of how France so helped Khomeini by giving him refuge?

Because right now in the United States, beginning in 1998, there is a Turkish version of Khomeini. Trying to escape possible prosecution in Turkey for his assault on the secular state, he fled to the United States. He was taken in. He was allowed to remain, and he settled outside Washington, D.C. Now he has moved to a very large compound in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. And from there, surrounded by dozens of Turks who are his followers and who act as his private retinue, he plans his course, his Muslim schools. He has founded these schools in Turkey, in Germany (aimed at the local Turks), in the United States (for example, in Minnesota, the Tarek Ibn Ziyad Academy (named after the Muslim conqueror of Spain), which has gotten into such hot water for what it preaches and teaches that even the ACLU has filed a brief against taxpayer support for such a place), and indeed, all over the globe. Now you might think of him as simply a pedagogue, a regular Jules Ferry or Maria Montessori or Rudolph Steiner, but I'm afraid that would leave out the sinister side of this man, who is perhaps more important to the Islamic revival in Turkey than either Erdogan or, before him, Erbakan. You can find out more about him by googling his name, or putting "Fethullah" or "Fethulleh" followed by "Gulen" (there are various spellings of the name) into the search box at Jihad Watch. And Paul L. Williams wrote about him in an article that fills in some details.

And among the other articles that mention Fethullah Gulen, I found one I put up at JW on July 23, 2007, and which contains a quote from him - the only change I made to the article, in the hope that you will pay special attention to those words, is to have now put them in bold:

Fitzgerald: Ataturk's legacy "Ironically, the far-right nationalists are now vehemently against the Islamists, and that's some good news. Because the Turks are fiercely nationalistic, there may be a way to resurrect nationalism and get rid of the Islamists once more."-- from a posting at Jihad Watch by a citizen of Turkey

Not sure why it should be "ironically" that the "far-right nationalists are now vehemently against the Islamists," because that was always the case, wasn't it? That has been true since the initial flourish of laws in the time of Ataturk himself -- to limit the power of Arabs, Arabic, and arabization by providing a Qur'an in Turkish and with a Turkish commentary, to make an end for Turkish of the Arabic script and adopting the Latin script, to give women the right to vote, and to create a ministry of religious affairs that would monitor or even write the sermons. In the armed forces those who gave signs of deep belief (such as frequent reading of the Qur'an) would be cashiered, and higher education was strictly secular. It was put in the hands of those who were leery of Islam. (Surely one of the first things that the new regime will attempt to do will be to take on again the universities and those who still control them. It will attempt to discharge those, especially certain brave Rectors, who have so far remained firm in keeping Erdogan and others of the Islamist line from gaining control in the Wars of the Rectors.) And of course there were new laws regarding clothing -- the banning of the hijab in government offices or on official business (see the wife of Abdullah Gul, see the wife of Tayyip Erdogan), and the forcible imposition of Western dress on men, with such measures as the Hat Act. It is much harder to pray five times a day with a Western visored cap or hat than with a fez.

The steady and relentless pressure of such laws, and of the attitude of suspicion and hostility toward Islam -- recognized as the very thing that was holding Turkey down and out -- helped create the class of "Muslim-but-secular" Turks who are a much greater proportion of the Muslim population than in any member of the O.I.C. save, possibly, Kazakhstan. (Kazakhstan registers the best results among the five stans possibly because of its large non-Muslim population -- Russians, Jews, and many other "nationalities," including, even, Koreans.)

But those laws were not end of it. Dealing with the primitive masses, the Kemalist Turks in control developed an alternative narrative to the narrative of Islam. It went like this: the "best of people" were no longer the Arab Muslims (for the Turks, like the Iranians contemptuous of the "desert" Arabs, also dimly recognized that Islam was a vehicle for Arab supremacism), but the Turks themselves, the "Sun People." Inonu worked on this. It offered the myth of "the Turk," a category that both appeared to exclude non-Muslims (Christians and Jews could be citizens of Turkey, with theoretical legal equality, but they were not "Turks.") At the same time, it backdated the claim of the Turks, back through the Osmanlis and the Seljuk Turks, back through Byzantium, all the way to the Hittites, so that everything that happened in Anatolia seemed to be appropriated into the "history of the Turk."

But more important than this has been the cult of Ataturk: the books about him, the formerly omnipresent pictures of him, the warrior at Gallipoli, the wise lawgiver pondering his nation's course at Dolmabahce Palace, the all-knowing all-wise never-to-be-questioned leader who ended up -- unsurprisingly -- as a replacement for Muhammad, uswa hasana, al-insan al-kamil.

In the end, the secular Turks didn't do enough. They complacently relied on the army to protect them, the army that would stage a coup and come to their rescue. But an army can stage a coup only when Islam is still in a state of weakness. Now the same infiltration that has gone on in many parts of Turkish society has also been going on, still at the lower levels, of the army. And given the way in which the Islamic forces have so cleverly used their time in office to appear, quite wrongly, as a "moderate" force, a "new kind of Islam" -- the kind of thing that the defeated secularists and Western governments all want desperately to believe because the truth is too unpleasant, too hard to take -- one wonders if the army can indeed stage another coup.

Why didn't those secularists, all these years, for the past half-century, work and work and work like madmen to change the minds of men, to continue the work of Ataturk, to substitute not a crude cult of "the Turk" and the "Sun People" and Ataturk as the Great Man, but to steadily create a class of Western men, encouraging skepticism and a spirit of criticism and self-criticism, that could exist with a reasonable patriotism? Why didn't they, long ago, begin to discuss, for example, the Armenian question? Instead of shunning the issue and trying to shut down all discussion inside and outside Turkey, they could have studied those mass murders as being prompted -- as indeed they were -- not by "the Turks" engaged in ethnic warfare, but by Muslim Turks (and Muslim Kurds too) against Armenians because they were Christians, as the detailed first-person memoirs, with the shouts of "giavour" and the fiendish glee with which the pregnant wives of priests were immolated, help to make clear. Why not, in other words, blame Islam-maddened Turks and Kurds, and not "Turks and Kurds"? That is, why not blame Islam for what happened, since it is clearly to blame?

And why did secular Turks not look closely at the example of Iran, where secular, leftist Iranians were snookered into helping overthrow the Shah by Khomeini and the True Believers, and then destroyed? (Yes, the Shah was corrupt and vainglorious, but compared to what followed, he and his court, those hoveydas and tabatabais, look better every day.) It will always be that way. The Muslims will use, as they are now using some among the secularists, to deplore the army, to deplore the laws that the threat of Islam makes necessary. And those secularists, not having studied carefully the example of Iran, fall for it. For god's sake, what happened to the elegant Bakhtiar? To Bani-Sadr? To Ghotbzahadeh? What happened to all those Iranian intellectuals? Who was jailed? Who went mad in jail? Who was tortured, who was murdered, who -- along with his wife --was decapitated, and their heads carefully placed at each end of the mantelpiece in their house, the grimmest of book-endings? Haven't the past nearly thirty years of the Islamic Republic of Iran right next door taught the Turkish secularists, the ones who think that Turkey can be just as solicitous of civil rights as the United States, what they needed to know?

The Turkish secularists let the army be their final protection. They accepted Kemalism and the benefits it brought. It made their own existence possible. But they were not grateful enough. They did not continue to work to weaken the power of Islam over the minds of men. They were not sufficiently relentless and ruthless. They did not stress or even make the connection between all the failures of Turkish society and Islam. That includes its political and economic failures: Turkey's current boom deflects attention from the high permanent unemployment rate, and may also be partly the consequence of the giant sums being expended in Iraq by the Americans, and dislocations in Iraq that redound to Turkish benefit. It also includes its social and intellectual failures: the bookstores of Istiqlal Caddesi are one thing, the Islamic bookstores quite another. Then there are its moral failures: the refusal to discuss the mass-murder of Armenians, or the treatment of the Jewish refugees on the Struma, or the massacres in Smyrna, not to mention the Varlik Vergesi (a special, confiscatory tax imposed during World War II on Jews, Armenians, and Greeks), and the attacks on the Greek community of Istanbul in 1955 (see "The Mechanism of Catastrophe" by Spyros Vryonis). All that was part of the continued discrimination and persecution that has helped to reduce the non-Muslim proportion of Istanbul's population from 50% in 1914 to 1% today.

Surely these things need to be written about, studied, discussed in Turkey -- and not only intermittently, and then by Orhan Pamuk of or someone of similar protecting fame, but continually, as part of the accepted daily fare, as openly as in Western countries their historic misdeeds are analyzed and discussed. For Turkey's secularists should wish to imprint on the collective mind the importance of study, investigation, analysis. That includes what, in the history of such mistreatment of non-Muslims, is owed to the promptings of Islam and not to some "ethnic" conflict as, at times, one is lead to believe: that "the Turks" made war on "the Armenians" when in fact it was Muslims, Turks and Kurds who made war on Christian Armenians and for reasons having to do with their being Christians more than their being Armenians.

In the schools, beginning with higher education, secularists need to insist that this subject -- Islam and its influence on Turkish behavior -- be discussed. Along with this, why should there not begin to be open discussion of how a land completely un-Muslim became Islamized, and how, indeed, so many of those who proudly call themselves Turks would discover, if they could or would investigate, that they are in fact the descendants of forcibly converted, or seized, Christians and Jews? How many fiercely nationalist or Islamic Turks, for example, were Armenians two or three generations ago?

The problem of the Turkish secularists is that they represent, at most, perhaps 25% of the population. After 80 years of Kemalism. That isn't enough. It won't be enough to withstand a cunning, tireless, relentless enemy of secularism. The Islamic side knows how to wait, and work, steadily, for their ends. For one startling example of this, see Fethullah Gulen's counsel of cunning and patience (recently translated by the scholarly Samaritans at www.MEMRI.org). Here is the most telling part:

"You must move in the arteries of the system, without anyone noticing your existence, until you reach all the power centers... until the conditions are ripe, they [the followers] must continue like this. If they do something prematurely, the world will crush our heads, and Muslims will suffer everywhere, like in the tragedies in Algeria, like in 1982 [in] Syria... like in the yearly disasters and tragedies in Egypt. The time is not yet right. You must wait for the time when you are complete, and conditions are ripe, until we can shoulder the entire world and carry it... You must wait until such time as you have gotten all the state power, until you have brought to your side all the power of the constitutional institutions in Turkey... Until that time, any step taken would be too early - like breaking an egg without waiting the full 40 days for it to hatch. It would be like killing the chick inside. The work to be done is [in] confronting the world. Now, I have expressed my feelings and thoughts to you all - in confidence... trusting your loyalty and sensitivity to secrecy. I know that when you leave here - [just] as you discard your empty juice boxes, you must discard the thoughts and feelings expressed here."

One thing the secular Turks can now do is make sure that all the Westerners they know, those long resident in Istanbul (of the Freely sort), those who come to study or trade, those whom they will continue to meet abroad, Western politicians, military men, academics, journalists, are made fully aware of their plight, and warned about the dangers of taking this "moderate Islamist" (as the BBC is now calling it) victory as anything other than a danger, a menace. The secularists should work away among the thinking portion of the Turkish population abroad -- for example, among the millions in Western Europe -- to enroll them in a campaign that can be billed as "upholding the legacy of Ataturk." (If the secularists ever manage to return to power, chastened, they must do much more than merely "uphold the legacy of Ataturk" but extend it, far beyond what they have done so far.) And those Turkish secularists who once looked to the army to rescue them in case of need, and now think that they can be rescued, or at least the problem shared with others by having Turkey admitted into the E.U., should instead realize that Turkey will not be, and should not be, admitted into the E.U., and that they will have to rely mostly on themselves, and that they cannot expect the menaced Infidels of Western Europe to share their danger in quite so immediate and menacing a way.

They should understand this rejection of Turkey's application -- understand it sympathetically. Would they, were they the citizens of Italy or France, want a Muslim country, with a population of 80 million, to become part of the E.U.? Would they want Muslims from Turkey, or other Muslims who could far more easily move into the E.U. from Turkey, moving freely about, visa-less, what would be one big Schengenland? (Think of the security problems as Arabs and Iranians -- hard for the Westerners to distinguish from Turks -- would try to enter the E.U. as "Turks.") Of course they wouldn't, and any resentment at the West for not wishing to share the problem of Islam more than it already does, is misplaced.

The Turkish secularists, like the Iranian secularists, did not realize that the primitive masses will always return to Islam -- or rather, that the hold of Islam is so great, that they will not have left it in the first place. And what happens in the capital (Istanbul,Teheran) is not what happens elsewhere. Never have the secularists, or "leftists" as they are often crudely and inaccurately called by the Western press, managed to outfox the upholders of Islam. It is always the other way round.



You don't necessarily have to see Gulen as the "most dangerous figure" etc. in the world, nor need you accept as true the more sensational claims made about him. But you know enough. You know that he is not up to any good, that is, good for us Infidels. And you know that for a dozen years he has been living safely in the United States, and even travels back and forth to Turkey. You know that when he first came here, he might have been in danger from Turkey's secularists, but now it is they who live in danger, and he could if he wished move back to Turkey. Why doesn't he?

Because here he is comfortable. Here he is entirely safe. Here the rule of law protects him. Here he can also plan and plot his moves, moves that will affect the future of Turkey, the future of Germany, and - by now you understand this - the future of the United States.

He has been extended every courtesy, provided with everything that a well-run non-Islamic polity can give - a well-run and safe and secure polity because it is non-Islamic, though Fethullah Gulen would be reluctant ever to recognize that. And all that courtesy, that generosity, that tolerance, has had no effect on him, and on his implacable desire to further the Cause of Islam. He can do no other. And that is why when he was addressing Turks about the future of Turkey - these words bear repeating, so you don't forget them -- he told them:

"You must move in the arteries of the system, without anyone noticing your existence, until you reach all the power centers... until the conditions are ripe, they [the followers] must continue like this. If they do something prematurely, the world will crush our heads, and Muslims will suffer everywhere, like in the tragedies in Algeria, like in 1982 [in] Syria... like in the yearly disasters and tragedies in Egypt. The time is not yet right. You must wait for the time when you are complete, and conditions are ripe, until we can shoulder the entire world and carry it... You must wait until such time as you have gotten all the state power, until you have brought to your side all the power of the constitutional institutions in Turkey... Until that time, any step taken would be too early - like breaking an egg without waiting the full 40 days for it to hatch. It would be like killing the chick inside. The work to be done is [in] confronting the world. Now, I have expressed my feelings and thoughts to you all - in confidence... trusting your loyalty and sensitivity to secrecy. I know that when you leave here - [just] as you discard your empty juice boxes, you must discard the thoughts and feelings expressed here."

He is not speaking about Turkey alone. He is speaking about every country where Islam does not yet dominate, where Muslims do not yet rule. It makes no difference, in the end, whether that country is now a Muslim country but with a regime that constrained Islam, as Turkey did as long as the system Ataturk put in place held, or is a country that has scarcely known any Muslims until the last few decades, and certainly has no historic connection to Islam, and was founded and developed by people who would not have lasted a minute under Islam. I mean, of course, the United States.

It is not Turkey for whom Fethullah Gulen represents a threat. In Turkey, those pressing for more and more Islam, an Islam unchained, are already winning. No, it is elsewhere that Fethullah Gulen is more of a threat, and that may explain why he chooses to continue to live, surrounded by a vast security apparatus at a compound in the Poconos, and doing, planning, plotting, scheming, about his next school, his next venture, his next move.

That should not surprise anyone. Tariq Ramadan preaches his message of an Islam that is non-threatening, and by choice does it in the Western world, addressing unwary and ignorant Infidels. Tariq Ramadan has no need to tell, and no interest in telling, fellow Muslims, whether within or without the Muslim lands, how tolerant and peaceful and splendid Islam is. They know better, and he knows they know better, and besides, he has never preached this to Muslims - it's what he preaches or teaches to non-Muslims only. They, after all, haven't read the Qur'an, the Hadith, the Sira. And they are eager to believe.

Now that Turkey is going just as Fethullah Gulen wished, you may ask why he doesn't fly home to a hero's welcome. And the answer is that he now has other, and bigger, fish to fry. He has the entire Western world to help conquer from within. He has fellow Muslims to guide. And what he says in the quote - repeated twice above -- shows that he is cunning, clever, and very very sinister.

Khomeini was given refuge at Neauphle-le-Château by the unthinking French government when he had nowhere else to go. And from that refuge, he was able from there to conduct his war against the Shah, one of the most francophilic of political leaders, with a court that looked to France for cultural guidance and inspiration. The French lycees have closed down in Iran, copies of French newspapers, access to French television, no longer available as under the bad old days of the Shah, which in France back in 1978 was seen only as consisting of "Savak, Savak, Savak." But on the other hand, in Tehran you can now find a street named, in honor of that French period of Khomeini's existence, Neauphle-le-Château.

And Fethullah Gulen was given refuge in the United States from the secular class of Turks who were, supposedly, the people who in Turkey, our "ally" and fellow member of NATO Turkey, were closest to us, and to our ways of thought and of living and of governing ourselves. And he has used his time here to support Erdogan, an enemy of the United States who is systematically undoing Kemalism and weakening those who would protect it, who were its guardians - the army, the judiciary, and the academic establishment of Turkey.

But he's not going home. He's staying here. To do what? To what end? You know what. You know to what end.

During the Cold War, a charge made against American businessmen who were willing to make commercial deals with the Soviet government was that they were doing as Lenin said capitalists would do: be willing "to sell us the rope with which we -- the Communists -- will hang them."

But in the case of Fethullah Gulen and the American government, as thirty years ago the case with Ayatollah Khomeini and the French government, is not a case of "selling them the rope with which they will hang us."

Rather, it is a case of establishing of building a whole series of brand-new rope factories, manufacturing rope that is then sold at rock-bottom prices to Muslims, and that they will understand is being sold to them so that they may do what they want with it. And what the deep and true believers in Islam necessarily have been inculcated to want to do with it is, of course, to use it to hang us and all the other ungrateful Infidels who were born Muslim (as we all are) but somehow fell away from the One And Only Truth. And even when Muhammad, the Messenger of God, arrived with that message, they refused to accept it, refused to believe. So they deserve that rope, they deserve to have that sudden drop, or that footstool kicked out from under them.

The Chinese may be out-producing us in many things. But in the production of rope for our enemies, so that they may use it to hang us, the Western world is still far ahead of China. I will even predict that no matter how they try, the Chinese, in this area, will never catch up.

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Posted on 11/07/2012 8:51 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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