Dinesh D’Souza, a man that I have often disagreed with on a variety of issues ( most notably on the issue of race in America), but have always found to be one of the most thoughtful voices on the American-right, recently debated Robert Spencer on C-Span and D’Souza did a better job of defending Islam than most Muslims could ( D’Souza is a Christan American Desi).
For the record I was scheduled to debate Spencer in 2005 on radio but it never happened for some reason and I debated Craig Winn instead and according to the conservative producers of the program, who were obviously on his side, I “cleaned his clock”. Having said that I could not have done what D’souza did for a variety of reasons nor do I have the credibility to the American elite that he does.
D’Souza makes the assertion that people such as Spencer are letting Usama bin Laden and the extremist element within Islam to define the entire religion and he draws on the history of Islam to illustrate that Islam is not the enemy and the enemy are those extremists within Islam who are not only enemies to the West; but enemies of ordinary Muslims trying to live their lives. He also counters the arguments made that non-Muslims will always be second-class citizens under Muslim rule by noting the historical oppression of the Church towards religious minorities and how those attitudes evolved. His arguments are worth reading and can be used as a reference when debating those at your schools and jobs who are influenced by the likes of Spencer.
To go further there are two things that D’Souza discusses and deals wit that I have seen no one else do and these are very important issues; the role that the secular-liberal media, academia, and entertainment complex has had in projecting a hedonistic image of America to the world and how this is a main source of the hostilities between Muslims and the West and the American idea as it relates to the rest of the world and immigrants in this country.
To address the first, D’Souza is spot on, in the Muslim World the image of America is that of a place of mindless sex, orgies, homosexuality, scantily-clothed women, men who are less than men, absent of family values and solid families, and the land of corporate crooks where everyone steals to get what they want and need and people have not earned their positions ( all of these are true in some situations and exist but are not the rule).
Unfortunately, many Muslims in this country, who have ideologically ghettoized themselves, even buy into this narrative, and think that Muslims are the only holders of virtue when that is far from the reality. I grew-up in an America where people worked hard, trusted in G_d, stayed away from the major sins, were loyal to their families, and were able to live a decent life even if they had problems ( which all people have in any society).
This is the America that the Muslim World does not know about because they are getting their information on America from Brokeback Mountain and Desperate Housewives and they are saying if this is what embracing the West means then let us fight until the last drop of blood to prevent this and if this were the case I would agree with them. If all America had to offer was haram and cultural and moral decay I would join the jihad; but that is not all America has to offer, nor does America have to be imperial in nature. There is another America of hard-working families whose stories normally go untold in Hollywood and if their story was told to the Muslim World the masses of Muslims can see that there is a moral America. This would not only help America in the sense that less homicidal enemies would be created; but it would help the Muslim World as those Muslims who think they have to accept everything Western would no longer feel the need to reject faith and embrace moral decadence.
The last thing I will talk about in regards to D’Souza is his idea that embracing America is embracing the ideas of the Founding Fathers. In the modern education system many are taught that these men were just a bunch of white slave masters and they held no virtue. As Muslims I do not see how we could negate the virtue of someone because they were involved in something that was common to their time. If you are going to throw the baby out with the bath water because many of the Founding Fathers owned slaves then you will have to do the same for many of the Sahabah of the Messenger of Allah ( s.a.s.) who were slave masters, but nonetheless, were loved by Allah and His Messenger ( s.a.s.).
The ideas that these men had were revolutionary and reshaped the world and on an intellectual-level give being American a powerful component. It will also give something to those Muslim immigrants, particularly Desis, who may not be culturally ( or even physically suited) to integrate into traditional American masculinity and gives them something to grab on to in their attempts to forge a new life here.
More by D’Souza here.