Friday, 4 January 2013
The Muslim Enemy -- Only An Idiot Could Continue To Think Otherwise- Within

From FoxNews:

Trial begins for Muslim cleric, son accused of funneling thousands to Pakistani Taliban

 January 04, 2013

| Associated Press

Prosecutors say an elderly Muslim cleric and his son in South Florida funneled thousands of dollars to the Pakistani Taliban to fund crimes in that country and the U.S.

The trial of 77-year-old Hafiz Khan and 26-year old Izhar Khan began Friday with opening statements. Both have pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy and material support to terrorism. Each count carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Shipley Jr. says the father and son sent more than $50,000 to the Pakistani Taliban.

Defense attorneys for the men argued prosecutors are misinterpreting thousands of phone conversations, as well as intercepts and bugged conversations of an informant.

The trial is expected to last about two months.

Posted on 01/04/2013 1:31 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
4 Jan 2013
Irfan Khawaja

So is your point that we should dispense with trials for Muslims, and dispense with the presumption of innocence for them, too? Or is it that when two people are charged with a crime, we should use their presumptive guilt as a rule for how to deal with the other couple of million people "like them" who haven't been charged with anything? Or is it both? This idiot wants to know.

4 Jan 2013
Hugh Fitzgerald

Your leaps of logic no longer surprise.  I wrote nothing about the upcoming trial.

But let me add some extra, just for you. The Muslim enemy, in my view, can be defined as anyone who takes Islam to heart or who, though he may think he no longer takes Islam to heart, indeed regards himself as a free thinker -- possibly like Irfan Khawaja himself-- out of filial piety or some other impulse that needs to be pondered continues to defend those who take Islam to heart, against the growing number of those who, like me, cannot stand Islam nor those who take it to heart, and wish those who did so would just leave us alone, go quietly but go.

And one more thing. Muslims who come from such hell-holes as Pakistan and have the incredible good fortune to be allowed (or have been born here because their parents were allowed), by a naive and ignorant INS bureacracy, to settle within this country (whose history, whose works and days have nothing to do with Islam) should feel, deeply and constantly, an overwhelming sense of gratitude for their unbelievable luck in living here and not in a Muslim land. Any other attitude is, in my view, ungrateful and intolerable and infuriating.

4 Jan 2013
Irfan Khawaja

So was the title of your post not about the trial mentioned in your post? Or was the title of your post not written by you? I guess you were just free associating, and the title happened to get somehow conjoined to the subject of the post without your intending any connection. Logic really does seem a commodity in short supply in these precincts. But I don't expect it when I come here. I come in a diagnostic spirit to gauge how far illogic has come since my last visit. And I'm never disappointed.

But I always find you clarifying, Hugh. Because now I'm (possibly) the enemy. Oh dear. Well, I suppose I knew that from the start, but I like hearing things put as plainly as you put them.  Or, well, sort of plainly. Since you just throw words together in a fundamentally ad hoc way, there's no telling what you really mean. But that in itself is diagnostic.

You always like to personalize things in my case, but the funniest thing is how far off base you are always are about my biography. I'm not really from Pakistan, I'm afraid. Everyone over there makes fun of my accent, even the little kids. I'm from a different hell hole, called "New Jersey."

And they didn't "allow" my parents to come here. They begged them--and paid them rather handsomely, at least by Third World standards. When a nation has no qualified physicians to serve in its inner city hospitals--this was Newark and Jersey City in the late 60s--what else can it do but fall to its knees while facing East and call on those willing and able to do the job (and of course capable of passing the ECFMG)? Which is what happened. Considering how many American lives my parents have saved lo these past 40 odd years, surely the question is who owes the greater debt of gratitude to whom at this point.  When the NYFD sent its firefighters to the ER on 9/11, they were cared for by Paks like my father. Consider the incongruity of their calling for assistance on someone like you. 

But that's all water under the proverbial bridge. I'm not one of those people who feels the need to atone for my good fortune, or for that matter, dwell on the debts that we model immigrants are owed by virtue of being the productive model immigrants that we are. We're all here by dint of good fortune--who earns their birthplace?--and if cheerful acceptance of that fact be treason, then make the most of it. 

Oh, by the way, if you do end up making the most of it, just remember that the relevant bureaucratic entity for doing so is now called Immigration and Customs Enforcement--ICE, not INS. 

5 Jan 2013
Hugh Fitzgerald

Only one question: Are you still a devout Randian?

5 Jan 2013
Irfan Khawaja

"Devout" isn't really the right word for a Randian, but if you're asking whether I'm committed to the basic principles, the answer is yes. "Devout" describes what I was as a Muslim a few decades ago. The benefits package of the latter belief system was out of this world, but that was precisely the problem with it. So I made a few necessary adjustments--reason for faith, this world for the hereafter, rights-based constitutional gov't for sharia, etc.--and now each passing day brings a new reason for gratitude, mostly to myself.

But to others, too. Ultimately, I do feel some modicum of the gratitude to our great nation that you so insistently demand. Indeed, on some days, especially after I visit NER, I often feel a peculiar gratitude for Eric Holder's DOJ, and Roman Stolzer's RLUIPA juggernaut. Nor am I so dogmatic as very greatly to resent the taxes I pay to my Uncles Sam and Chris for the services they render (Chris being the one in Trenton). I may be a Republican, but I've never been a Tea Partier.

But once I write those checks each spring--or once I glance briefly at my pay stub, my rent check, or any sales receipt--I'm immunized  from further demands for free-floating gratitude. (The rent check pays for a portion of my landlord's ample property taxes.) In that respect, I'm even grateful to the IRS. I get the moral equivalent of ongoing flu shots from them every year, even more efficacious than the one I get at CVS each fall.  So there's gratitude there. It just doesn't induce me to feel the need to go back to Pakistan. On the contrary.

5 Jan 2013
Hugh Fitzgerald

One final question, not needing to be answered publicly  but, rather, to be pondered in private, or perhaps you will decide to share the query with your parents from Pakistan: 

Under what circumstances, what blend of force and fear, did your ancestors, a long or short time ago, somewhere in fabled and bejeweled Bharat, convert from Hinduism (or possibly Buddhism, or Jainism) to Islam? Does this ever cross your mind?   Do you ever wonder about how it happened, and to so many people, and do you ever imagine what the subcontinent would look like had Arab Islam not arrived, to see Shari'a justice done? 

5 Jan 2013
Irfan Khawaja

I honestly don't know the answer to either of your latest questions, and can honestly say that I haven't not given much thought to either of them.

First question: My ancestors were from Kashmir. If I know my family at all, our ancestors probably converted to Islam for better cash flow. But in the end, I don't know. It's hard enough to keep the names of my currently-existing second cousins straight, so an inquiry that takes me back to what my ancestors were doing in the time of Mahmud of Ghazni seems a lost cause.

Second question: My answer is that I think such questions --complex counterfactual conditions about the distant past--are in principle unanswerable. No one can know what would have happened in India had it not been conquered by the Muslims. Maybe it would have become a secular republic much earlier. Or maybe it would have been ruled by theocratic Hindus or Sikhs. Or maybe someone else might have conquered it, better or worse than the Muslims. I have no idea, and neither does anyone else. You might as well ask what Jesus Christ would have said about the Google antitrust case, or what would have happened if Hitler had been killed in World War I. Too many variables, most of them unknowable.

What I do know is that the Khawajas were forced out of Amritsar at gunpoint by Sikhs in 1947 after being expropriated of home and business and herded into detention camps. And herded from there onto the "train to Pakistan," to use Khushwant Singh's phrase. Those events took place a little more recently than Mahmud's conquests, and  took place in the way they did because the Khawajas were Muslims who lived in a Muslim haveli in Amritsar. I may have rejected the Islamic faith, but see no reason to pretend that anti-Muslim animus is harmless, or a figment of Muslim imagination.

I also happen to know that my grandfather was at Jalianwala Bagh on the fateful day in April 1919, and escaped General Dyer's bullets by the skin of his teeth--an escape causally relevant to my own existence (a much easier counterfactual to comprehend than the ones you've been asking about). So I have no illusions about how easily the reigning NER attitude--"let us be tough at long last, for we have hitherto been too lax with them"-- easily justifies or leads to mass death of the innocent. 

Finally, I know enough about McCarthyism to know what it looks like under new and different guises: take a real threat--Communism, Islamism--and note that it has conceptual roots that are deeper-than-the-ostensible ones (in leftist thought generally, in Islam as such). Then embark on an indiscriminate witch hunt ostensibly intended to root out the cause, insinuating that any objections to the witch hunt come from people insufficiently strong-minded to grasp the relation between surface phenomenon and underlying roots. Generate as much hysteria as possible until eventually the effort collapses under the weight of its own hysteria. Again, something more relevant to American law, politics, and culture than the doings of Muhammad bin Qasim, Mahmud, or Aurangzeb--however bad they were.

5 Jan 2013
Hugh Fitzgerald

Passing over the solecisms in silence, I'll note only that your remark about never having given much thought to how, when, where, by what means, your ancestors were forced to convert, or felt themselves forced to convert, to Islam amazes me, especially since for a while you were in full-throated free-thinking skeptic's mode, until you found Ayn Rand and Objectivism, and a substitute certainty for the previously jettisoned Islam. How curious your incuriosity.

5 Jan 2013
Irfan Khawaja

You're entitled to your amazement, but not to that chronology. It doesn't work. I discovered Objectivism in college and was more or less committed to it by early grad school. Call the relevant year 1991, the year I graduated college and entered grad school. But my writing on Islam all post-dates 9/11, a decade later. In fact, the bulk of it dates to 2004-2007. So whatever phase you're describing as my full throated skepticism is some 15 years into the Objectivist phase. It's not compatible with a supposed skeptical phase preceding my discovery of Objectivism.

No, the explanation of my current attitude toward NER (along with Jihad Watch, Phyllis Chesler, Pam Geller, etc. etc.) is different, but ironically related to Objectivism. By the later 2000s--call it 2008--I had come to the conclusion that the Objectivist movement and the professional anti-Islam movement had something in common: a desire, despite contrary professions, to subordinate independent thinking to stale (often dangerous) dogmas. Eventually, I decided that I'd had enough of both movements, despite never really being a part of either. So the erstwhile sympathy-at-a-distance became antagonism-at-a-distance. And that's where it remains.  

6 Jan 2013
Great comment exchanges. One reason NER readers stay NER readers (including Mr Mr Khawaja).

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