Friday, December 11, 2015

The Republican Party Divides Over Trump. By Matthew Continetti.

The Party Divides. By Matthew Continetti. Washington Free Beacon, December 11, 2015.


The speed with which prominent Republican officials and conservative spokesmen condemned Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States revealed the true stakes in the 2016 election. The future of the GOP as we know it is in question—not the party’s political future but its ideological one. Donald Trump’s candidacy is already intensifying party divisions. Nominating him would alter the character of the Republican Party in a fundamental way.

GOP voters understand this possibility. A majority backs candidates other than Trump. But the huge Republican field splits the anti-Trump vote and gives him double-digit leads in national and state polls. And while it is possible those polls overstate Trump’s support, it’s equally possible that they understate it.

Trump may not even need a majority of traditional Republican voters to win. His unusual candidacy could bring in voters new to the party or even to the political process. Whether Trump wins or loses a general election against Hillary Clinton is less important in this analysis than the effect his nomination would have on the composition and philosophy of the Republican Party. That effect would be profound.

Political parties are not static. They are born, they grow and change, they shrink and die. There is no Mosaic commandment stipulating that a party must hold to one platform over another, no natural law governing the ideology to which the party subscribes. A party is a reflection of its membership. And when the identities or character of that membership is altered, the party is too. The clearest sign that such a transformation has occurred is in the selection of a party’s nominee.

Three examples. Modern conservatism was born in 1955 with the founding of National Review, but the movement did not find political expression until the GOP nominated Barry Goldwater in 1964. The Arizona senator may have been defeated in a landslide, but the conservative activists and journalists and thinkers associated with his candidacy and cause did not disappear. They grew in numbers and in influence, and prepared the way for Ronald Reagan.

The Democratic Party was once the party of the white working class—of trade unionists, Catholics, Cold War hawks. Things changed with the nomination of George McGovern in 1972. The South Dakota senator was also defeated in a landslide, but his coalition of the highly educated, minorities, and liberal antiwar activists was the beginning of the “emerging Democratic majority” you read about today.

Reagan’s nomination and election in 1980 was itself a transformation. It confirmed that the GOP was pro-life, shifted the emphasis of economic policy from deficit reduction to supply-side tax cuts, and signaled the defeat of the Kissinger wing in foreign policy. Reagan drew support from new constituencies: evangelical Christians who had been politically quiescent for decades and urban ethnic voters in revolt against liberalism. This new ideology and social base set the terms of American politics for decades.

It’s possible we are at the beginning of another political recalibration based on national identity. Already center-right parties in Japan and Russia and Israel have lurched in a nationalist direction. And where nationalists do not enjoy outright control, as in Hungary and Poland, they split the center-right coalition, as in France, the U.K., and Germany.

The tendency in Washington is not to take Donald Trump seriously. To describe him as a clown, as someone who will drop out, as someone whose beliefs are non-ideological. I believe that to dismiss him is a mistake. Since declaring his candidacy in June, Trump has been consistent on issues of immigration and trade and security. He has not deviated from building a wall on the southern border, slapping tariffs on imports, criticizing the 2003 Iraq war, praising Vladimir Putin, describing Ukraine as Germany’s problem not ours, and saying Middle East peace depends on Israeli concessions.

Trump’s nationalism has far more in common with the conservatism of Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front, than with the conservatism of Ronald Reagan. Support for a “Muslim ban” is par for the course among European nationalists—by calling for it here all Trump has done is confirm how closely American politics resembles European politics. Reagan was an immigration advocate who signed the 1986 amnesty law.

Indeed, Republican nominees since Ronald Reagan have been internationalist in outlook. They have been pro-free trade and pro-immigration, have supported American leadership in global institutions, and have argued for market solutions and traditional values. A Republican Party under Donald Trump would broadly reject this attitude. It would emphasize protection in all its forms—immigration restriction, trade duties, a fortress America approach to international relations, and activist government to address health care and veterans’ care. Paeans to freedom and opportunity and equality and small government would give way to admonishments to strive, to fight, to win, to profit.

Trump’s rise has been aided by world events from the rise of ISIS to President Obama’s immigration policies to the shrinking of the middle class to the growing importance of religious and ethnic and sexual identity. But it has also been helped by the split between conservatives and Republican politicians amenable to bipartisan cooperation and gradual reform on the one hand, and conservatives and Republicans eager to make polarizing stands and wholeheartedly reject liberal premises on the other. Trump has exploited masterfully these anxieties and this disconnect, as well as disappointment with the previous Republican administration and the current Republican Congress, as he accelerates the Republican move toward nationalism.

So atypical is Donald Trump’s profile that it is impossible to say where the party will find itself when caucuses are held in Iowa on February 1. It is very possible, even likely, that the party will reject him and retain its identity as the party of Reagan and Bush. But the 2016 election has been, to say the least, unusual. And the crises of international order and domestic governance that give Trump strength are real.

Homegrown terrorism, demographic panic, racial tension, income stagnation, and Trump’s persona may catalyze a political realignment along the lines we have seen before in our politics and see currently in Europe’s. Have conservatives and Republicans thought through what would happen next? What choices we might have to make? Or are we too afraid to acknowledge the possibility that the movement and party to which we belong is no longer our own?

I Am a Muslim. But Trump’s Views Appall Me Because I Am an American. By Fareed Zakaria.

I am a Muslim. But Trump’s views appall me because I am an American. By Fareed Zakaria. Washington Post, December 10, 2015. Also at Investor’s Business Daily,


I think of myself first and foremost as an American. I’m proud of that identity because as an immigrant, it came to me through deep conviction and hard work, not the accident of birth. I also think of myself as a husband, father, guy from India, journalist, New Yorker and (on my good days) an intellectual. But in today’s political climate, I must embrace another identity. I am a Muslim.

I am not a practicing Muslim. The last time I was in a mosque, except as a tourist, was decades ago. My wife is Christian, and we have not raised our children as Muslims. My views on faith are complicated — somewhere between deism and agnosticism. I am completely secular in my outlook. But as I watch the way in which Republican candidates are dividing Americans, I realize that it’s important to acknowledge the religion into which I was born.

And yet, that identity doesn’t fully represent me or my views. I am appalled by Donald Trump’s bigotry and demagoguery not because I am a Muslim but because I am an American.

In his diaries from the 1930s, Victor Klemperer describes how he, a secular, thoroughly assimilated German Jew, despised Hitler. But he tried to convince people that he did so as a German; that it was his German identity that made him see Nazism as a travesty. In the end, alas, he was seen solely as a Jew.

This is the real danger of Trump’s rhetoric: It forces people who want to assimilate, who see themselves as having multiple identities, into a single box. The effects of his rhetoric have already poisoned the atmosphere. Muslim Americans are more fearful and will isolate themselves more. The broader community will know them less and trust them less. A downward spiral of segregation will set in.

The tragedy is that, unlike in Europe, Muslims in the United States are by and large well-assimilated. I remember talking to a Moroccan immigrant in Norway last year who had a brother in New York. I asked him how their experiences differed. He said, “Over here, I’ll always be a Muslim, or a Moroccan, but my brother is already an American.”

In an essay in Foreign Affairs, British writer Kenan Malik points out that in France, in the 1960s and ’70s, immigrants from North Africa were not seen as or called Muslims. They were described as North Africans or Arabs. But that changed in recent decades. He quotes a filmmaker who says, “What, in today’s France, unites the pious Algerian retired worker, the atheist French-Mauritanian director that I am, the Fulani Sufi bank employee from Mantes-la-Jolie, the social worker from Burgundy who has converted to Islam, and the agnostic male nurse who has never set foot in his grandparents’ home in Oujda?” His answer: “We live within a society which thinks of us as Muslims.”

Once you start labeling an entire people by characteristics such as race and religion, and then see the whole group as suspect, tensions will build. In a poignant article on Muslim American soldiers, The Post interviewed Marine Gunnery Sgt. Emir Hadzic, a refugee from Bosnia, who explained how the brutal civil war between religious communities began in the Balkans in the 1990s. “That’s what’s scary with [the] things that [Donald Trump is] saying,” Hadzic said. “I know how things work when you start whipping up mistrust between your neighbors and friends ... Ive seen them turn on each other.

I remain an optimist. Trump has taken the country by surprise. People don’t quite know how to respond to the vague, unworkable proposals (“We have to do something!”), the phony statistics, the dark insinuations of conspiracies (“There’s something we don’t know,” he says, about President Obama) and the naked appeals to peoples’ prejudices.

But this is not the 1930s. People from all sides of the spectrum are condemning Trump — though there are several Trump-Lites among the Republican candidates. The country will not stay terrified. Even after San Bernardino, the number of Americans killed by Islamist terrorists on U.S. soil in the 14 years since 9/11is 45 — an average of about three people a year. The number killed in gun homicides this year alone will be about 11,000.

In the end, the United States will reject this fear-mongering and demagoguery, as it has in the past. But we are going through an important test of political and moral character. I hope decades from now, people will look back and ask, “What did you do when Donald Trump proposed religious tests in America?”

John Rhys-Davies: Islamic Civilization Very Likely to Supplant European Christianity.

John Rhys-Davies: Islamic Civilization Very Likely to Supplant European Christianity. Video. PoliticKING with Larry King. Ora, December 4, 2015. YouTube.

John Rhys-Davies: “There Is Something in Islam That Is Belligerent, Offensive, Insidious.” By Paul Bond. The Hollywood Reporter, December 4, 2015.


While speaking with Larry King, the actor accuses Muslims of enslaving others: “If you’re a black person in this country, and you are not outraged about this, then a lot of your ancestors would be wringing their hands.”

As news networks and some Hollywood celebrities are tiptoeing around the notion of Islamic terrorism, Lord of the Rings and Raiders of the Lost Ark actor John Rhys-Davies is criticizing Muslims for turning a blind eye to violence and slavery committed in the name of their faith.

“There is something in the nature of Islam that we are not prepared to recognize, and this is our own political fear,” Rhys-Davies said on PoliticKING With Larry King. “There is something in Islam that is belligerent, offensive, insidious and ideologically opposed to the values that we believe.”

As he spoke, King appeared to squirm a bit uncomfortably before interrupting to ask: “In the whole faith?”

Rhys-Davies made a few exceptions, particularly those who practice Sufism — “an extraordinary bunch of spiritual people” — then added: “There are contradictions in the whole faith. If Muhammad is the last prophet and nothing that he says or does can be contradicted … then you’re always going to have people coming back, like these ISIS people, and saying, ‘But, in fact, slavery is justified.'”

Rhys-Davies said radical Islamists are enslaving Christians and others in some parts of the world, and accused leaders in the U.S. and Europe of doing little to stop them.

Even Muslims he knows and likes “don’t dare to say” that slavery is wrong, he said.

“I tell you, if you’re a black person in this country, and you are not outraged about this, then a lot of your ancestors would be wringing their hands, and weeping in shame. Come on!” said Rhys-Davies.

“If your faith in anyway can justify slavery, then I don’t think there’s a place for you in my society. I do not want to share society with you,” he said.

“I’m damned if I’m going to sit around in a world that will sort of turn its eye to a new form of slavery of the worst sort," continued Rhys-Davies. I’m outraged when I see published on the Internet Islamic justifications for slavery.”

The actor was interviewed by King prior to the murder of 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., this week, a crime that the FBI is investigating as an act of Islamic terror, but the interview was posted on Friday.

Rhys Davies was promoting Return to the Hiding Place. Recently released on DVD, the film tells the true story of Christians in Holland hiding Jews from the Nazis.

The 26-minute interview also touched on political correctness, which Rhys-Davies asserts has hamstrung free speech, especially in the media and at universities.

“We have to risk saying things that will upset people,” he said. Paraphrasing Machiavelli, he said: “Our princes do not understand that there is a beast … some problems cannot be solved by gentleness.”

“There is something about Christianity that offers hope,” Rhys-Davies told King. “From early Christianity, we got the right of free speech, the right of the individual conscious … the jewel in the crown is the abolition of slavery.”

“My country is pretty morally vacuous,” the Welsh actor said. “There are still moral arguments in the United States. They have almost vanished from Europe.”

Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez: “Between 5 And 20%” of Muslims Willing to Use Terrorism to Institute Caliphate.

“We know that there is a small group, and we don’t know how big that is — it can be anywhere between 5 and 20%, from the people that I speak to — that Islam is their religion and who have a desire for a caliphate and to institute that in any way possible.” UPDATE: In a statement, Sanchez said, “I strongly support the Muslim community in America and believe that the overwhelming majority of Muslims do not support terrorism or ISIS.

California Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez said on Wednesday that “between 5 and 20%” of Muslims “have a desire for a caliphate and to institute that in any way possible,” including the use of terrorism.

“But certainly, we know that there is a small group, and we don’t know how big that is — it can be anywhere between 5 and 20%, from the people that I speak to — that Islam is their religion and who have a desire for a caliphate and to institute that in anyway possible, and in particular go after what they consider Western norms — our way of life,” Sanchez said on “PoliticKING with Larry King.”

Sanchez, who is running for Barbara Boxer’s open Senate seat, added that this group of Muslims was “willing to use and they do use terrorism.”

“They are not content enough to have their way of looking at the world, they want to put their way on everybody in the world,” she said. “And again, I don’t know how big that is, and depending on who you talk to, but they are certainly — they are willing to go to extremes. They are willing to use and they do use terrorism.”

Sanchez added that they were using terrorism “in the name a very wrong way of looking at Islam.”


In a statement, Sanchez said, “I strongly support the Muslim community in America and believe that the overwhelming majority of Muslims do not support terrorism or ISIS. We must enlist the voices of the Muslim community in our fight against ISIS instead of alienating them through fear-mongering and discrimination.”

Glenn Beck: There Is a Disease In Islam, and It Must Be Addressed.

Beck: There Is a Disease in Islam, and It Must Be Addressed. Glenn Beck interviewed By Megyn Kelly. Video. Fox News Insider, December 10, 2015. YouTube.

Fox News Insider:

On The Kelly File tonight, Glenn Beck told Megyn Kelly about his recent trip to Iraq, Slovakia and Sweden, where he was helping the Mercury One Nazarene Fund bring Iraqi Christians out of the Middle East.

He said it is incredibly volatile right now for Christians in the region, so they aim to relocate them to new countries where they can rebuild their lives.

Beck added that they’re having extraordinary success at vetting refugees – even catching several Muslims who were pretending to be Christians.

He asserted that the Obama administration is not having similar success vetting the Syrian refugees that are coming to the U.S.

“It’s not that hard to figure this out,” Beck said. “You just have to have a willingness to say, ‘It is about Islam.’ There is a disease in Islam. And it must be addressed and it must be spoken.”

“If you’re not willing to say it, you’re not going to win a war.”

Why We Can’t Defeat ISIS. By John Daniel Davidson.

Why We Can’t Defeat ISIS. By John Daniel Davidson. The Federalist, December 10, 2015.


If ISIS is going to be defeated, Muslims themselves must do it.

The mass shooting in San Bernardino last week should have confirmed what many Americans still refuse to accept: we can’t defeat ISIS.

That doesn’t mean we couldn’t destroy ISIS as an organization. A modest deployment of troops and materiel in Syria and Iraq would be sufficient. President Obama, in his determination to secure a legacy as the president who got us out of Iraq, refuses to do this. But it could be done.

That still wouldn’t solve the real problem, which isn’t ISIS’s territory but its ideology. ISIS would give way to another group, perhaps a resurgent al-Qaeda or maybe something worse. From the many-headed hydra of Islamic extremism would come a new threat, aimed at the West and at moderate Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere, and we would once again be debating whether to deploy troops abroad.

The violent interpretation of Islam that animates groups like ISIS—and individual Muslims like Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik, the San Bernardino shooters—is not going away simply because we defeat ISIS on the battlefield, or proclaim, as Obama did Sunday night, that it “does not speak for Islam.” Our president is no more qualified to decide which Muslim groups espouse a correct interpretation of Islam than is our Secretary of State John Kerry, who on Sunday called members of ISIS “apostates.”

No. American political leaders, like pundits, are not in a position to weigh the doctrinal merits of ISIS. If ISIS is going to be defeated, Muslims themselves must do it—not just with bullets and bombs, but with a version of their faith that rejects political Islam and jihadist violence once and for all.

Many Muslims Aren’t Moderate

That won’t be easy, because the virtue of radical Islam, and ISIS, is disputed among Muslims across the world. True, the vast majority of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims might reject Islamic supremacist ideology of the kind ISIS preaches, but there are tens of millions (perhaps far more) who embrace some version of it.

One recent poll from Pew illustrated the enormity of the challenge facing moderates. The poll asked Muslims in eleven countries with significant Muslim populations their opinion of ISIS. While majorities in every country except Pakistan had an unfavorable view of the group, a significant portion of respondents expressed favor (Turkey, 8 percent; Malaysia, 11 percent; Nigeria, 14 percent). Turkey, a country of nearly 75 million, is 98.6 percent Muslim, which means about 6 million Muslims in Turkey have a favorable view of ISIS.

In Pakistan, which is 96.4 percent Muslim, the results were even more shocking. Nine percent expressed a favorable view of ISIS, while 62 percent responded, “don’t know.” That means more than 70 percent of those polled, in a country with more than 175 million Muslims, were unwilling to express an unfavorable view of ISIS.

These poll numbers fit with a 2013 Pew poll of Muslim attitudes on a range of issues. In Egypt, 29 percent agreed that suicide bombing in defense of Islam is “often/sometimes justified.” That share represents more than 23 million people.

Islam Is Not a Monolithic Religion

Obama claims ISIS does not speak for Islam, but no one body or institution speaks for Islam. Muslims do not have the equivalent of a Catholic Pope or a Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to settle doctrinal disputes.

But it’s hard to believe the president when you hear about men like Maulana Abdul Aziz, chief cleric of Islamabad’s Red Mosque. Last December, Aziz, who has no direct connection to the leadership of ISIS, made it clear that he and his followers respect ISIS and that “we support the organization which wants to implement the Islamic system.”

As it happens, authorities now believe Tashfeen Malik had some connection to Aziz’s mosque in her native Pakistan, where last November students at Jamia Hafsa, the mosque’s female seminary, released a video declaring their support for ISIS and asking Pakistani militants to join up with the group. On December 2, around the time of the attack, Malik posted a similar message on Facebook declaring her allegiance to ISIS and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

All of which to say: Malik and Farook were not “self-radicalized,” they were radicalized by a specific Islamic doctrines that are compelling to millions of Muslims worldwide. The struggle against ISIS is therefore much more than a question of military tactics. It’s a question of ideas, of what the best version of Islam is, or is going to be in the future.

Certain ideas about Islam, after all, led Farook and Malik to stockpile thousands of rounds of ammunition, amass the tools and wherewithal to build pipe bombs, legally purchase semiautomatic rifles, leave behind their infant daughter, and launch an attack on unarmed Americans at a holiday office party. Those ideas can’t be dismissed lightly by political leaders with an agenda; they’re stronger than politics because they strike at the heart of how a person understands the world, God, and the purpose of his life.

Right Now, Muslim Leaders Aren’t Standing Up

Alas, moderate Muslim leaders in America don’t appear to be up for engaging in a war of ideas about their faith. Almost immediately after the attack in San Bernardino, Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in the greater Los Angeles area, expressed bafflement about the shooters’ possible motives, surmising it could be anything from a workplace grievance to mental illness to some kind of “twisted ideology.”

He didn’t mention that perhaps Farook and his wife—along with the Pakistani cleric Aziz, Michigan-based cleric Ahmad Musa Jibril, and dozens of Saudi Arabian clerics—support ISIS and believe its version of political Islam is correct. But if moderate Muslims hope to discredit the “twisted ideology” of ISIS among their fellow Muslims, they’ll need to start talking openly about the doctrines and worldview that accompanies it.

They will have to explain, to other Muslims and to a candid world, why political Islam and its various strains of apocalyptic teachings are a thing of the past. They will have to articulate what Islam’s future should be. This will be a generational, global struggle among Muslims—and it won’t be accomplished during the tenure of any one American president.

One might compare what faces Islam today to what Christianity faced in the fourth century in the form of Arianism, a teaching that denied the full divinity of Christ and held that Jesus was not God by nature but a creature susceptible to change. By denying the Trinity and positing a rational relationship between the Father and the Son, Arianism had a certain political appeal for a string of Roman emperors who were more concerned with preserving the unity of the church—and therefore the empire—than with theological distinctions about the nature of Christ.

It would take centuries to purge Christianity of the Arian heresy. At one point, it officially dominated the Roman Empire. But in the end, Trinitarian theology prevailed, in part because Christian leaders knew the Arian teaching that Christ was merely an exalted creature would ultimately destroy the gospel. The opponents of Arianism, in other words, knew they were fighting for the very soul of their religion.

So too with Muslims today. ISIS isn’t just fighting for territory, it’s fighting for Islam’s future. If moderate Muslims have a different and better vision for their religion, they’d better start fighting back.