Note: A number of media that have reported on the US Army War College’s capitulation to CAIR — most recently Breitbart and the College Fix — have asked me questions, many of which I answered at length. As there was not enough space to publish my full responses, I post them below, the questions I was asked, and my (RI) complete response, for full context:
Question: In the CAIR letter, your work is deemed filled with “inaccurate conclusions and inflammatory and dangerous rhetoric.” How do you respond to those allegations?
RI Answer: My primary concern, whether in writing or in speaking, is that my words convey the truth. As such, the burden of proof is on CAIR to show—methodically and with documentation, as I do—how my words are filled with “inaccurate conclusions.” It is because they cannot—history is history, documented and sure—that they resort to hyperbole (complaining about alleged “inflammatory and dangerous rhetoric”) in yet another attempt to shut down free speech deemed offensive to the Muslim community.
Question: You’ve wrote in 2018 that “Sword and Scimitar … sets the much-distorted historical record between the two civilizations straight, and, in so doing, demonstrates once and for all that Muslim hostility for and terrorization of the West is not an aberration but a continuation of Islamic history.” In response, a Muslim-American US Army veteran I spoke to claimed that such a statement is comparable to defining Christianity by the actions of the KKK. What’s your response to that analogy? And how do you account for experiences like his?
RI Answer: My response is that the KKK is an obvious aberration in and particularistic expression of Christianity, whereas groups like the Islamic State comport well within mainstream Islamic history. For instance, my book—the book in question, Sword and Scimitar—has about a thousand endnotes to primary sources and other authoritative scholarly works; together they make abundantly clear that, for over a millennium, leading Muslims—caliphs, sultans, emirs, ulema and jurists of the highest order—have said to and done in Europe the same exact things the Islamic State says and does to non-Muslim “infidels” today, including proclaiming jihad against—followed by massacring or enslaving—all who resist Islam.
This is a literal point: When the Islamic State and others proclaim that “American blood is best and we will taste it soon,” or “We love death as you love life,” or “We will break your crosses and enslave your women,” virtually no one in the West understands that they are quoting verbatim — and thereby placing themselves in the footsteps of — the original Islamic conquerors of Syria, for example, Khalid bin al-Walid (d. 642), the “Sword of Allah.”
Question: The US government seems convinced that the Global War on Terror cannot be won militarily. Is it potentially problematic to then teach senior military leaders that Islam will always strive to dominate the West? What does an actual solution to the Global War on Terror look like?
RI Answer: This is the problem: everyone is trained and eager to find the “quick fix.” It is for this reason that so many “analysts” and talking heads of all kinds insist that if we fix this or that “temporal” issue affecting the Islamic world—from economics and education, to land and other grievances—the “war on terror” would come to an end. Unfortunately, that is not how reality often works. Again, as the book makes clear, from the seventh century until the nineteenth century, Muslim army after army invaded and attacked Europeans and other non-Muslims—not in the name of “grievances” but in the name of jihad. Finding fixes is admittedly rather limited in this dismal—but honest—context.
Here for example is another, relevant anecdote: The United States of America’s first war—which it fought before it could even elect its first president—was against Muslim from North Africa (“Barbary”). After Thomas Jefferson and John Adams met with Barbary’s ambassador to learn why his countrymen were enslaving American sailors, the hitherto confused Americans wrote the following in a letter to congress dated March 28, 1786:
We took the liberty to make some inquiries concerning the grounds of their pretentions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation. The ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Musselman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.
Question: What major takeaways can senior military leader take from your research when addressing issues of Islamic extremism?
RI Answer: That, contrary to popular opinion, and like it or not, “Islamic extremism” is nothing new, nothing aberrant, and not predicated on this or that grievance. It has been around and on open display since the inception of Islam nearly fourteen centuries ago; it has had a dramatic impact on the shaping of the world; as much as 90 percent of what is today called the “Muslim world” was taken through violent conquest; three-quarters of the Christian world of the seventh century was permanently conquered in the name of jihad (see map here); some five million Europeans—some from as far as Iceland—were abducted and sold into Muslim slavery just between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries.
All of this used to be common knowledge. As late as the early twentieth century, the European historian Hilaire Belloc made a rather prescient observation that may have seemed exaggerated at the time:
Millions of modern people of the white civilization—that is, the civilization of Europe and America—have forgotten all about Islam. They have never come in contact with it. They take for granted that it is decaying, and that, anyway, it is just a foreign religion which will not concern them. It is, as a fact, the most formidable and persistent enemy which our civilization has had, and may at any moment become as large a menace in the future as it has been in the past.…. The whole spiritual strength of Islam is still present in the masses of Syria and Anatolia, of the East Asian mountains, of Arabia, Egypt and North Africa. The final fruit of this tenacity, the second period of Islamic power, may be delayed —but I doubt whether it can be permanently postponed.
Today, however, and thanks to political correctness—not to mention certain Muslim advocacy groups that have worked hard to whitewash the history of Islam as taught in schoolrooms—the true history between Islam and the West has not only been forgotten, but rewritten in a way to demonize the West.
Although cliché, it needs repeating: those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it; covering it up or whitewashing it to spare anyone’s feelings will not do. As such, it has been my interest to set the record straight, which is precisely what I tried to do with the book, which (as discussed in this interview) I spent two decades doing research for.