"What about the many Muslims who have served and now the 20,000 who currently serve in the armed forces, those that fought and died in Afghanistan and Iraq? Are they influenced by their religion in their willingness to serve, fight and die for their country? Courageous Muslims like Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, praised by Colin Powell in his endorsement speech of Barack Obama, gave his life for his country, and was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and the honor of being buried in Arlington cemetery." -- from a piece by John Esposito in The Huffington Post
John Esposito would have you believe that one of a handful of examples, the example of Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, is merely one of many. I think perhaps he is the only example of a Muslim (not Nation-of-Islam, but honest-to-goodness real Muslim) soldier who died fighting in the American army, not in the ranks of Muslims being fought. It is the very same example that was used by Colin Powell when he wanted to make his silly, because ignorant-of-Islam remarks, in defense of Muslims.
Well, you will find those remarks, and comments by me on them, as well as on other aspects of the ability of Muslims to exhibit loyalty to an Infidel nation-state and to take part, as all others are expected to take part, in the military efforts of that Infidel nation-state, in the following excerpt from an article I posted at Jihad Watch last year:
Fitzgerald: Colin Powell and Jihad: A dereliction of duty
In evaluating the threat of Islam and Jihad, for the colin-powells of this world what counts is the flimsiest of anecdotal evidence. He takes the sentimentalism of our depraved politics at face value: "and then there is Mary, who lives in Sioux City, Iowa and makes $13.42 an hour." In this he recalls Bush at one of his State-of-the-Union farces, pointing to an Iraqi woman, who had been deliberately seated next to the parents of a Marine killed in Iraq. He asks her to stand up and acknowledge the applause of the crowd, applause presumably due her because she is "an Iraqi woman" who has not tried to kill Americans, and may even support what they are doing, or think they are doing, in Iraq -- which makes her, of course, a hero.
In an interview yesterday, Powell reached new heights or depths (they are the same in this case) of anecdotal absurdity. He offered up this:
"I'm also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say, and it is permitted to be said. Such things as 'Well you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.' Well the correct answer is 'He is not a Muslim, he's a Christian, he's always been a Christian.' But the really right answer is 'What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?' The answer is 'No. That's not America.' Is there something wrong with some 7-year old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she can be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion he's a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.
"I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo-essay about troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave. And as the picture focused in you can see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then at the very top of the headstone, it didn't have a Christian cross, it didn't have a Star of David. It had a crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Karim Rashad Sultan Khan. And he was an American, he was born in New Jersey, he was 14 at the time of 9/11 and he waited until he can go serve his country and he gave his life."
So, on the basis of having seen a picture of a Muslim mother of a Muslim son who had been killed in Iraq, Colin Powell uses his (apparent) prestige to tell the interviewer and all of America, that there is nothing wrong with Islam, nothing wrong with the ideology of Islam, nothing to be concerned about in Sharia supremacism, nothing wrong with the idea of a Muslim president. His irresponsibility astounds.
So let's go back, after this excursus on Colin Powell, the man who originated this rhetorical reliance on the single case of Karim Rashad Sultan Khan, to the latest exploiter of the story of that Muslim serviceman, John Esposito. Esposito is the once-humble junior professor (at Holy Cross) and now sole proprietor of his Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, which is still allowed to be connected to Georgetown despite the warnings of Catholic convert Magdi Allam, despite the wariness expressed by James V. Schall, S.J., despite the civilisational worries about the threat of Islam that Pope Benedict feels so keenly - doubts and wariness and worries shared by every Catholic who has bothered to fully inform himself about Islam, and is not, like John Esposito, on the take or on the make.
In the Huffington Post, Esposito tries to make sure that his unwary non-Muslim readers will not begin to examine any of the texts of Islam. He doesn't dare to quote a single relevant passage, not one of the Qur'anic passages quoted by, relied on, by Nidal Malik Hasan himself in his lectures and rants to fellow soldiers. For John Esposito is engaged not in pedagogy but in sinister propaganda. He ought really to be called before Congress, or at least made the subject of Congressional (and other) inquiry, into how within our government some have come to rely on such venal people as John Esposito, with his long and easily examined record of misleading both the public, and those in government, about Islam. It is a scandal that he was ever relied on, as he apparently has been in the past, by some in the government, particularly during the Clinton Administration, as an "authority on Islam. "
Esposito is not the only apologist for Islam who for too long has been treated with quite-unnecessary respect. He should, by those who understand these matters, be treated in a manner more befitting an enemy agent. For he is, as a Protector of Islam, akin to those who during the Cold War defended the Soviet Union and its policies, or those - far fewer - who during World War II continued to make excuses or even identify with the Germans, the Nazis, until such books as John Roy Carlson's influential "Under Cover" exposed these enemy agents, and the FBI really went to work, unhesitatingly rounding them up. John Esposito need not be among those rounded up, but he should clearly be seen for what he is, and for a long time, has been.
Though John Esposito is billed as "scholar of Islam" - a non-Muslim equivalent of that Muslim apologist for Islam, the soft-spoken, not unclever, hissingly colubrine Tariq Ramadan, whom terminally naïve Tony Blair once appointed to a committee established "to examine ways to root out extremism in Britain." One can well imagine all the "ways" that Tariq Ramadan would, on that committee, have suggested be considered, in order to "root out extremism." Yes, he would certainly have recommended sympathetically portraying Muslims in the media, or rewriting textbooks so that they gave credit - as Tariq Ramadan has insisted be done - to Muslims for being those really responsible, in his view, for the Renaissance. And no doubt he would have recommended many other things - permitting the burqa even for passport photos, changing British foreign policy to be forthrightly on the Muslim and Arab side, providing prayer rooms in schools and offices, banning any criticism of Islam -- these are just some of the ways that Tariq Ramadan could think up to "root out extremism in Britain."
Esposito offers the usual sentimental appeal, by referring to all the Muslims who have served so loyally in Iraq and Afghanistan -- let's not mention the various akbar-hassans rolling grenades, or deserting their posts, or offering to supply naval secrets from right on board an American warship. And he refers to one " Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan" -- the very same Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan whom, more than a year ago, the egregious, Jaguar-from-Prince-Bandar Colin Powell used as his lonely example of a loyal Muslim. His loyalty presumably a sure thing, proven beyond a reasonable doubt, just because he was in the American military and was killed (which does not prove anything about his interior thoughts).
Now Colin Powell's reputation has been, among those who have been paying attention, tarnished by that Jaguar-from-Bandar incident, and also by his insensate pursuit of money on the lecture circuit, and the usual boards of directors on which he serves. We are all disgusted, I trust, with the spectacle of so many of our former rulers who, once they leave office, cash in, and how, on what they like to call, so archly and mincingly, "public service." There is Clinton, there is Blair (a non-American entry into the public-private grabbing-the-dough competition). They have each reaped, if we are to believe reports, a cool 100 million since leaving office. They disgust most of all. Also high in the running for disgust, it turns out, is Al Gore, who has parlayed his sermonizing on global warming into his own 100 million.
And then there's Colin Powell. He's enjoyed decades in which he has been untouchable, never-called-to-account, always held up as an example of rectitude, one of those Washington "wise men" with whom we are supposed to be so impressed. He's a man everyone is careful not to criticize, but to join in offering acclaim. He now basks in this "elder-statesman" reputation similar to that of another "wise man" (another term for roughly the same thing is "an old Washington hand" which is also supposed to impress), that Washington fixer, Clark Clifford, "wise man" and "old Washington hand" of vast experience and grave mien - that is, until he, Clark Clifford, had his blushing comeuppance when he was discovered waist-high in BCCI-engendered mud.
In a speech in 2008, though he clearly had never read the texts of Islam, never given any thought to the doctrines of Islam or the long history, some 1350 years, of Muslim conquest and attempted conquest, and subjugation of a great many non-Muslim lands and non-Muslim peoples, Colin Powell asserted that Muslims had been loyal, had served this country loyally in war. His example, his sole example, was that of Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan. Now why did John Esposito choose that example to adduce? Was it only because Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan was the example mentioned by Colin Powell? Or was it because - save for some homegrown members of the Nation of Islam, whose Islam is not, we all know, orthodox Islam but rather a vehicle for a kind of black separatism given a farrakhanesque twist of resentment - there may be no other examples of real, orthodox Muslims whom John Esposito can name?
And does John Esposito know whether or not the soldier Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan has been made much of, has been honored, by the Muslims in this country? If they were all so loyal, wouldn't they be celebrating this soldier, instead of letting the name Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan be invoked by John Esposito and Colin Powell, that is, exploited to insist on something that is hardly proven by the death of a single (or even a dozen) Muslim soldiers - that is, the assumed loyalty to an Infidel nation-state, the putative patriotism, of Muslims, Muslims who are real, believing, taking-Islam-seriously Muslims? During the two world wars, some Muslims fought, were drafted into, the French army. So what? Did they do so out of loyalty to France or to make far more money than they otherwise could have made? Does the fact that some fought - and some must have died - in Italy fighting German soldiers mean that they were impelled by hatred of the Nazis, by loyalty to the French state, or that, in the circumstances, it was a job for which they were relatively well-paid, compared to their poverty at home in North Africa, and they did it? When Muslim Turkish soldiers fought with NATO forces in Korea, were they doing so because they believed deeply in opposing the Communist threat to civil liberties, or did they participate because Turkey received a lot of benefits from being a member of NATO?
If, as Esposito and Powell imply, the case of Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan is one that is not exceptional and his own example not controversial among Muslims, then shouldn't CAIR, a group that John Esposito I am sure has no quarrel with, be establishing a prize, or perhaps a series of prizes, in the name of Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, of perhaps making sure that little boys in madrasas and mosques are told his tale, in the hope that they will emulate his example, and "fight for their country"? But there is nothing like this. In World War Ii, to prove their loyalty, the Japanese-Americans joined the famous 422nd Regiment. It fought up and down Italy, and was the first or second most decorated regiment in the entire army. And in Little Italies all over this country, and in Yorkville and other centers of German-American groups, windows of barbershops displayed pictures of the local boys in uniform, and if someone died in the war, much was made of him. Anything similar going on among Muslims? Do you think a Regiment consisting only of Muslims, just as the 442nd consisted entirely of Japanese-Americans, could be formed, Muslims determined to fight in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Saudi Arabia or Iran if need be? (Well, perhaps Shi'a Muslims would be willing to fight against the Saudis, and Sunnis would support the bombing of Iran's nuclear project, if they thought it would knock out or weaken the Shi'a, a variety of "Muslim" that they thought was not the real thing).
Esposito was once a sly apologist for Islam. He remains a sly apologist for Islam, but men and events have caught up with him. He can no longer explain away or justify all of the things he for so many years used to explain away and justify with far greater success. He can't do it any longer, not in the same way. He is coming to be regarded with disgust, a disgust he earned long ago. As long, however, as he continues to earn the only thing that matters to him - the money that keeps piling in, and piling up, from Arab donors who wish to keep him living in the style to which he has grown accustomed -- he really doesn't care.
But we do.