Robert Crane, an Islamic convert who founded the Center for Understanding Islam, has written a two part article dealing with the subject of “Marginalizing Extremists.” The thrust of Part I is that Muslims are caught between two poles of extremism consisting one the one hand of “Muslims throughout the world who commit monstrous crimes and purport to act on behalf of Islam” and on the other hand by “professional muslim bashers.” Dr. Crane appears unwilling to identify any of the Islamic extremists by name although he does concede that 911 “appears to have been planned and carried out by Muslims” suggesting that come uncertainty about this remains. Although he does take the Islamic community to task for not “speaking out” against Islamic extremists, he reserves the bulk of the article for attack on Robert Spencer, a well-known and vocal critic of Islam. Dr. Crane spends a great deal of time attempting to refute what he calls the “demonic lies” of Spencer about the nature of Jihad. This follows the pattern of many Muslim Brotherhood denunciations of terrorism which while condemning violence, devote the bulk of their time to attacking their critics.
In Part II, Dr. Crane discusses what he sees as the major issue for our times:
The greatest challenge to civilization today is how to address the cycle of demonization and counter-demonization gaining ascendancy among extremists in all religions, with spill-over effects, both constructive and destructive, in official government policies.
Once again, after briefly asserting that after 911 the Muslim community responded by tackling extremism, he identifies the real problem as “muslim bashers”:
A preliminary issue in grand strategy is always to identify the enemy, and, if there are many such, to prioritize one’™s efforts against them. Immediately after 9/11, the thrust of the general Muslim response was to target extremist Muslims, epitomized by Osama bin Laden, as a threat not only to other Muslims but to America. Unfortunately, the general non-Muslim populace, egged on by professional Muslim bashers, gradually shifted away from reaching out in sympathy to Muslims and instead came to view all Muslims as inherently extremist.
He then goes on to posit a moral equivalence between terrorism and counter-terrorism for which he conjurs up a new characterization – “terroristic counter-terrorism” alluding to the actions of Western governments:
Based on the principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, are not the Muslim bashers functionally friends of Muslims. The common enemy is the diverse movement of extremist Muslims who resort to terrorism for whatever purpose and thereby, in an unending cycle of cause and effect, precipitate the logical, but equally immoral, response of terroristic counter-terrorism.
What follows is a long, theological treatise which is somewhat hard to follow but appears to suggest that the means to combat this threat is to engage an “intercultural and inter-faith” alliance based on a common religiously-based world-view. First, he takes to task what he calls the trend “to define a good Muslim as a ‘moderate’ who is basically disassociated from both Islam and the political process.” He then suggests an alliance based on those who hold a religiously based world-view in common:
This initiative to develop a new discipline of knowledge on the phenomenon of cultural invasion and on how to gain and maintain objectivity independent of any single culture may be considered to be part of the ‘Islamization of thought’ as an inter-cultural and inter-faith effort, with Islam understood in the Qur’™anic sense as incorporating all persons and people who recognize the existence of the transcendent and of justice and who do good works.
Finally, Dr. Crane suggests that ultimately, critics of Islam can be brought into this alliance if they adopt his view that “Muslim terrorists” are acting outside the bounds of Islam:
The task of grand strategy is to make alliances with those who are concerned about the Muslim terrorists but do not yet understand the power of Islam as a religion to expose them as muharibun. The Islamic civilization has always had its own means to inoculate itself against the virus of extremism. As the resurgent civilization of Islam revives to play a major role in world affairs, one of its major tasks must be to combat extremist threats from within. This effort, however, can succeed only if both Muslims and others learn to differentiate between Islam the religion and Muslims as adherents who may or may not understand and practice their own faith. Only in this way can those who now profess to be enemies of Islam understand and embrace the grand strategy of cooperation with committed Muslims who share their concerns and are better situated both to plan and take effective action.
According to his resume on Islam Online, Dr. Crane has numerous ties to organizations associated with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood network. He was a director of publications for the International Institute of Islamic Thought as its Director of Publications (IIIT), helped to found the American Muslim Council, and since 1996 has been a board member of the United Association for Studies and Research (USAR) and Managing Editor of its Middle East Affairs Journal. USAR is generally associated with the Hamas infrastructure in the U.S. Dr. Crane’s article points to what has been to date an unrecognized strategy by the Brotherhood which is to make common cause with others who see “secularism” as the true enemy and who can be persuaded to join Islamists on that basis. This subject will be taken up in a later post.