This post plain confuses me. It opens with a lament:
Having worked for a very long time with moderate Muslims, I can tell you it’s disheartening to be called an Islamophobe.
Then demonstrates that that epithet, along with a few others, is well-deserved:
I have long argued that: (1) Islam is not a moderate doctrine; (2) Islamists who practice terror and are otherwise aggressive toward non-Muslims (and toward Muslims who disagree with them) are not twisting or perverting Islam; (3) this does not mean that the Islamist interpretation of Islam is the only possible viable interpretation; but (4) a concrete theology of “moderate Islam” does not exist (even though there are plenty of moderate Muslims) and therefore it will have to be created; and (5) because it will have to be non-literal and reformist, it will have a tough time competing with Islamist ideology which, however noxious it may be, has the advantage of being firmly rooted in Islamic scripture. Nevertheless, (6) Islamist ideology is anti-constitutional and anti-freedom in many of its core particulars, so that (7) if, instead of letting them pretend to be “moderates,” we force Islamists to defend their beliefs, we will marginalize them—at least in our society, which (8) will empower true moderate Muslim reformers and—maybe—give them the space they need to solidify a coherent, moderate Islam that embraces the West, and in particular the separation of secular public life from privately held religious beliefs.
If “Islam is not a moderate doctrine,” how is it that he has “worked for a very long time with moderate Muslims”? How can McCarthy distinguish between “moderate Muslims” like his coworkers and those Muslims who merely “pretend to be ‘moderate’”? Where does he believe these “moderate Muslims” come from? Are they Amabo—secret Christians pretending to be Muslim—whose moderate views are the result of never reading the Koran or attending services at a mosque or keeping halal? McCarthy attempts to dismiss such questions in a parenthetical of dubious explanatory power:
a concrete theology of ‘moderate Islam’ does not exist (even though there are plenty of moderate Muslims) and therefore it will have to be created[.]
Granting their existence in an aside is purely strategic—if he fails to do so, he will be disheartened again, so he grants their existence, then explains all the many ways in which people like them can never come to exist.
It’s the political equivalent of holding up a duck and beaver; explaining that no matter how much you coax them, they refuse to fuck; then astonishing the crowd by pulling a duck-billed platypus out of your hat. You have no idea how that strange beast came to be, nor are you interested—all you want to do is prove that ducks never fuck beavers. Which is an admirable goal, I suppose, if you want to tell the world that your lack of intellectual curiosity is matched in its profundity only by the pride you take in being ignorant.
The ultimate irony, of course, is his claim that this new moderate Islam “will have to be non-literal and reformist.” McCarthy openly and unselfconsciously confesses that religious beliefs based on one-thousand-year-old books—or, for that matter, political beliefs based on two-hundred-year-old documents—might be obsolete, if not outright dangerous, when the people who possess them interpret their sacred texts literally. His opposition to literalism as an interpretive mode is to be commended, or would be, if it extended to the Old Testament or the Constitution. But neither of those texts are “anti-constitutional and anti-freedom,” at least not in the Platonic form in which they exist in the minds of people who have never read them.