It is a token of the farcical times in which we live when an agenda-driven “scholar” with a track-record of attacking his “subject matter” should feel entitled to be taken seriously.
Daniel Pipes is as much a scholar on Islam and Muslims as David Duke is a scholar on Judaism and Jews. He does not seem to know where scholarship ends and where political advocacy begins. He does not initiate his research by asking questions for which he seeks answers, but by providing answers for which he cherry-picks evidence.
Pipes is wedded to his personal political agenda to such a point that it dominates his worldview invalidating his ability to act as a neutral scholar on Muslim-related topics. Concerned with the interests of Israel above all else, he consistently defines Muslim-Americans exclusively as a function of their position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
For Pipes, a “bad” Muslim is a Muslim who challenges his views on Israel and a “good” Muslim is one who agrees with them; in his “scholarly” lingo, the code terms are “Islamist” and “moderate” respectively.
The fact that Pipes is taken seriously by anyone is an indication of how low the bar of discourse on Islam is today (see M.T. Akbar: “We are not done with racism – yet”). With fear and suspicion clouding reason and critical thinking, it is not difficult for a Harvard graduate with a grim face and a set of intriguing theories to wrestle some media attention.
The type of racism espoused by the likes of Pipes is not the usual banter. There is raw racism and then there is sophisticated racism, and Pipes is a sophisticated man.
Raw racism is where you, for instance, attribute miscreant behavior to blacks as a group. Sophisticated racism is where you come up with a new term like, say, “blackists” and then:
a). Readily state that you do not attribute negative behavior to blacks, but to “blackists”.
b). Turn around and define the great majority of blacks or grassroots black leaders as “blackists”.
So you are back to square one, and hopefully no one noticed.
That is precisely what we are seeing with the “Islam and Islamists” rhetoric. Pipes did not invent the term Islamist, but abusing it as per step (b) above is his trademark contribution to the discourse on Islam in the West. Today, there are many others who have jumped on the bandwagon; there is even a documentary film entitled – you guessed it – “Islam vs. the Islamists” that falsely portrays most Muslim-Americans as “Islamist.”
The film’s producer, Frank Gaffney, is a fellow contributor to that sham bastion of critical thinking and intellectual rigor that Daniel Pipes pontificates on regularly, David Horowitz’s notorious “Front Page Mag.”
But back to Pipes.
Pipes is quick to parrot that radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the solution.
That is all very well – until you realize that his raison d’etre is to claim that every Muslim individual or group of mentionable influence is a conveyer of radical Islam – particularly if they are outspoken against the illegal Israeli occupation.
On the other hand, everyone upon whom he bestows the “moderate” badge is either a lone wolf with no credibility in the Muslim mainstream, an apologist for Pipes’ own radical views on the Middle East, or both. It is even plausible that Pipes would refer to a Muslim who leaves Islam altogether as a “moderate” Muslim, as he has in the case of Wafa Sultan.
Pipes constantly whines about influential Muslim groups like MPAC, CAIR and ISNA, mustering up the audacity to call them “Islamist” despite the fact that these groups do not advocate Shariah-rule in the US; they not only accept the US constitution, they are at the forefront of those advocating for the full application of all its codes. Hardly the ethical journalist, Pipes will shamelessly quote questionable sources like the virulently anti-Muslim Pipeline news website to prove his point. A megalomaniac, he is one stop short of quoting himself.
As more and more Americans have come to realize that Daniel Pipes is a one trick pony who never lets facts get in the way of fables, his attacks against CAIR and other critics have sounded more and more desperate.
My advice to Mr. Pipes: pack up and move your tired anti-Muslim conspiracy theories to paid late-night cable programming – there maybe a spot right before Minister Jack Van Impe’s apocalyptic hour.