Being an apostate – someone who leaves a religion, ideology, political party, etc. – is rarely easy. You can lose friends and family, often a job. But for those who abjure Islam the problems are on a whole other level. You can lose your life. That is why Islamic apostates are some of the most courageous people on Earth.
One of the bravest of the brave whom I have met is a man who goes under the name “Ibn Warraq.” He is the author of Why I Am Not a Muslim, first published in 1995, that demonstrates how Islam is incompatible with “individual rights and liberties of a liberal, democratic, secular state.”
Warraq has just published a new book Sir Walter Scott’s Crusades and Other Fantasies, largely a collection of Internet essays previously published on Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch and other sites. I highly recommend it. But be warned: Warraq is a true intellectual. These essays are serious and detailed, not the breezy stuff you’re used to reading online.
Nevertheless, they are extremely timely. The choice of Walter Scott, an often slow-going author most of us brushed up against briefly in school via a mandatory reading of Ivanhoe, as the principal object of Warraq’s interest is far from accidental. The real subject is the Crusades and how to interpret them – and the ensuing false equivalency between Christianity and Islam that exists to this day and is continually manipulated by leftist multi-culturalists. (As Warraq points out, the Crusades were violent, but they were a reaction to over three hundred years of intense Muslim violence against non-Muslims.)
Warraq’s main ideological adversary here, as it is in most of his work, is the late Edward Said, the Columbia professor who so identified with the Palestinian cause that he stood at the Lebanon border and personally threw stones across into Israel.
This is all the more important because Edward Said is one of the intellectual fathers of Barack Obama. Indeed, when Said died, Obama’s close personal friend Rashid Khalidi replaced Said as the chairman of Columbia’s Middle East department. (The suppression of a tape of Khalidi’s Chicago going away party with Obama in attendance by the Los Angeles Times remains one of the more interesting cases of censorship in our times.)
So contemporary echoes are not buried far beneath Warraq’s analyses of Walter Scott and, later, George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda, the first work by a major novelist sympathetic to Zionism.
Not surprisingly, Warraq segues from literary explication into direct confrontation with contemporary affairs. He accuses our media and publishing world of appeasing Islam via a venal form of self-censroship. He has particular scorn for Yale University Press that, a few years back, published a book on the famous 2005 Danish Mohammed cartoons without reproducing the cartoons themselves for fear it would be too incendiary. Besides trampling on the First Amendment, this is almost comically absurd.
In this collection, Ibn Warraq shows again that he is personally an intellectual institution – a necessary man. We should all support him by buying his book. And we should also support ourselves by reading it.
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