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An American in Search of the English National Character

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 23, 2021  •  The Critic

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"The English are the most remarkable of any people that perhaps ever were in the world" wrote Scottish philosopher David Hume in 1748.[1] Prompted in part by this observation and in part by England's recent re-emergence as a distinct political entity, I wondered, "Who are the English?"

In search of an answer, I located groaning shelves of books and articles on the English national character, many written by distinguished figures. Sadly, though, their combined wisdom amounts to a massive contradiction.

The eminent historian Mandell Creighton got me started with the observation that "the English were the first people who formed for themselves a national character." He then defined its dominant motive "to have been a stubborn desire to manage its own affairs in its own way, without any interference from outside."[2]

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"Republican Mob" Was Once an Oxymoron, Now It's a Reality

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 15, 2021  •  Newsweek

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The world is fascinated by Donald Trump, but I am not. Trump is Trump, a hyper-well-known, mostly transparent and utterly mundane personality. I am fascinated by his supporters, those astonishing Republicans who chose a sketchy and flamboyant real estate developer to be president of the United States in 2016, then stuck close by him through thick and thin, and now endorse his claim of an international plot to steal the 2020 election.

As the Trump presidency ends, it is clear that a majority of Republicans have abandoned their party's historic policies and temperament.

Policies: As then-House speaker Paul Ryan put it, Trump won in 2016 because he "heard a voice out in this country that no one else heard." Trump rejected significant elements of the previously dominant movement conservatism in favor of a folk nationalism in the tradition of Andrew Jackson. Nicholas M. Gallagher explains in National Review: "Jacksonians characteristically emphasize anti-elitism and egalitarianism while drawing a sharp distinction between members of the folk group and those outside it."

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Welcome, Conservatives, to Pariah Status

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 4, 2021  •  Washington Times

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Conservatives did not realize how good they had it in the twentieth century. Now, the walls are closing in on them.

To appreciate this change, consider five venerable and prestigious institutions selected by the father-son team of Leonard and Mark Silk in their 1980 book, The American Establishment: Harvard University (founded in 1636), the New York Times (1851), the Brookings Institution (1916), the Council on Foreign Relations (1921), and the Ford Foundation (1936).

Already, forty years ago, all five favored Democrats, progressivism, social experimentation, high taxes, and change. But, back then, Harvard hired outspoken conservatives to teach, the Times often published them, Brookings included them in events, the CFR invited them to chair meetings, and Ford funded them. I know, because I personally did all that. Back then, liberals had passionate and acerbic differences with conservatives, but they no more imagined canceling conservatives than twenty-first century conservatives imagine canceling liberals.

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2020's Biggest Hits at DanielPipes.org

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 2, 2021

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Traffic statistics at DanielPipes.org indicate that the following ten articles are my most read writings published in 2020, in ascending order. (Gary Gambill of the Middle East Forum kindly provided the tabulations and summaries.)

10. How Fares Western Civ? (Fall 2020)

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Bibi for Prime Minister? No, For President

by Daniel Pipes  •  December 29, 2020  •  Newsweek

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From the moment I met Benjamin Netanyahu, I liked him. On a personal level, we have had sporadic but good relations over nearly forty years. We first met in 1983, when he was deputy chief of mission at the Israeli embassy in Washington and I worked at the State Department. Over the decades since, I came to admire him for his many accomplishments.

But it's time for him to go.

Netanyahu became Israel's youngest-ever prime minister in 1996. His tenure had its ups and downs. Visiting him a month into his first premiership, I wrote appreciatively that he "glowed and looked to the future." That glow dimmed during his weak and amoral first prime ministry, to the point that in 1999 I wrote an exposé of his failed Golan Heights policy and reluctantly rooted for his opponent to win the election.

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Are Israeli Arabs Finally Moderating?

by Daniel Pipes  •  December 23, 2020  •  Washington Times

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That four Arab states in four months normalized relations with Israel is a remarkable development that opens the possibility that the Arab states' war with Israel, which began in 1948, is winding down.

But there is more good news, less visible and also potentially momentous: a change taking place among the people who constitute Israel's ultimate enemy, its Arab citizens. This sector may finally begin to end its self-imposed political isolation and recognize the Jewish state.

First, some background: About 600,000 Arabs fled as Israel came into existence, including most of the educated, leaving 111,000 behind, mostly peasants. That rump population then multiplied many times through the decades, supplemented by a steady influx of immigrants (in what I call "Muslim aliya"); Israel's Arabs now number 1.6 million, or about 18 percent of the country's population.

That population long ago escaped its rural confines, having become educated, mobile, and connected. By now, it has included a supreme court judge and a government minister, ambassadors, businessmen, professors, and many others of distinction.

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"Godless Saracens Threatening Destruction":
Premodern Christian Responses to Islam and Muslims

by Daniel Pipes  •  Winter 2021  •  Middle East Quarterly

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In a conversation that apparently took place on July 13, 634, just two years after Muhammad's death, an old man was asked what he made of "the prophet who has appeared among the Saracens?" He replied that Muhammad "is an imposter. Do the prophets come with swords and chariot?" Another person agreed, noting, "There is no truth from the so-called prophet, only bloodshed." Several months later, in a sermon on Christmas Eve in 634, the patriarch of Jerusalem referred to the Muslims as "the slime of the godless Saracens [that] threatens slaughter and destruction."[1]

Thus, the Christian reaction to Muslims inauspiciously began at a moment when religious passions ran highest and receptivity to new influences lowest. This hostile response then stayed largely static over the next millennium, 634-1700. Only in the past three centuries did attitudes evolve, mixing that old hostility with something startlingly different.

The following pages sketch the Christian responses to Islam and Muslims over the millennium. Why did Europe[2] for so long view Muslims negatively? Part II will ask why this partially changed and what the current situation is.

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The IDF Opts for Victory

by Daniel Pipes  •  November 25, 2020  •  Jerusalem Post

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There's been much talk over the past two years of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and victory. What does it mean in practice?

In August 2018, then-Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced that the IDF's next chief of staff will be someone who talks "in terms of decisiveness and victory." That turned out to be Aviv Kochavi. He, indeed, affirmed at his January 2019 swearing-in ceremony that the army "is all about victory." Also speaking at that ceremony, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concurred; all recent efforts, he added, focused on making the army "ready for a single goal – victory in war."

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Trump's Need to Concede

by Daniel Pipes  •  November 10, 2020  •  Spectator

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The political and emotional climax of U.S. presidential elections comes when the losing candidate, accompanied by a teary spouse, tersely but gamely concedes defeat and wishes the victor well. I worry what might happen if this little-noted but critical ritual fails to take place in 2020.

No law requires a concession speech, no agreement demands it; but this informal ceremony has an essential role in confirming the paramount rule of democracy, that the losing candidate has heard and accepted the voters' verdict. After a hard-fought, even vicious, campaign, the vanquished assures the victor he accepts the results, permitting the country to move forward. Sure, political wrangling will immediately resume, but once the key step of accepting the voters' will has been established, the country is whole, the body politic healthy, and the next round can begin.

The alternative has dire consequences, as Víctor Hernández-Huerta of the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas in Mexico City shows. His study of 178 presidential elections in democracies in the period 1974-2012 found that in 38 of them, or 21 percent, when the runner-up candidates or their parties disputed the results, this "set off violent unrest, constitutional crises, and even civil wars." Hernández pointedly notes that the United States is "not immune" to this danger.

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The Fatal Fear of Being Accused of Racism

by Daniel Pipes  •  November 3, 2020  •  Critic (UK)

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Recent evidence suggests that a major act of violence could have been averted had a security guard not feared being called a "racist." This incident raises questions about the West's ability to protect itself from jihadi attacks.

That act of violence was the bombing of a concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande at England's Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017, killing 22 and wounding over 800. The bomber, Salman Ramadan Abedi, 22, was born in Manchester to refugee Islamist parents just arrived from Libya. Those who knew him described him as being very religious and none too bright.

An Al-Qaeda sympathizer, Abedi constructed a home-made bomb with thousands of nuts and bolts, placed it in a large rucksack, and made his roundabout way by foot to the arena. There he awaited the conclusion of Grande's "Dangerous Woman" performance while sitting on steps in the public foyer. At 10:31 p.m., he stood up, crossed the foyer toward the audience exiting the hall, and detonated his device.

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Why I'm Voting for Trump
We Elect a Team, Not a Person

by Daniel Pipes  •  October 20, 2020  •  Boston Globe

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Faced with the choice between voting for Donald Trump or Joe Biden, Gallup finds that one-quarter of Americans say "neither would be a good president." Unsurprisingly, some are inclined to vote for a third-party candidate. I understand that urge, having voted for Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson in 2016. But the vast policy differences in 2020 make it imperative to vote for a major-party candidate.

When electing a president – our four-year demi-king – Americans tend to focus primarily on the candidate. Personal appearance, health, self-presentation, stamina, priorities, common sense, articulation, personality, accomplishments, credentials, family, policies – every element is scrutinized and assayed. And rightly so, for even minor details about the person at the top can have vast ramifications, directly affecting the destiny of 330 million people and indirectly the whole globe.

It makes sense to focus intensely on those issues in the primary, when one has a choice among two or more candidates with a roughly similar outlook. In the general election, however, the candidate's superficial qualities matter much less in deciding whom to vote for.

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Is Israel Victory Still Needed?
Yes, it offers the only path to end Palestinian rejectionism

by Daniel Pipes  •  October 7, 2020  •  Jerusalem Post

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Where does Israel Victory stand in this era of Arab-Israeli peacemaking? Slightly diminished, but not by much. To understand why requires starting with a step back in time.

The 1993 Oslo Accords sidelined the Arab states and focused on Palestinian-Israeli relations, expecting that this exclusivity would ease a compromise to bring each side what it most sought: security for Israelis and political fulfilment ("Palestine") for Palestinians.

Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership turned this hopeful "peace process" into a "war process," exploiting the opportunities it provided to attack the Jewish state in new ways, thereby undermining diplomacy and fostering greater violence.

In response to Oslo's failure, I developed the Israel Victory concept in early 2001. It accepted the sidelining of Arab states (even though I preferred to include them) and focused on Palestinian-Israeli relations. It rejected the peace-process absurdity of Israel making concessions even as the Palestinians sought its elimination. Instead, it called for Israel to take advantage of its overwhelming economic and military superiority to compel the Palestinians to accept defeat, setting the stage for their eventual acceptance of Israel.

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review of The Princess and The Prophet: The Secret History of Magic, Race, and Moorish Muslims in America

by Daniel Pipes  •  September 29, 2020  •  Wall Street Journal

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Thanks to Iran's Islamic revolution, 9/11, large-scale immigration, and much else, Americans have learned a great deal about the Islam of Muhammad and the Qur'an over recent decades. Terms such as Ramadan, shariah, and jihad, for example, have become widely familiar.

Fewer, however, know about an indigenous American form of Islam, the black folk religion that began about a century ago in cities like Newark, Chicago and Detroit, and the inspiration behind Louis Farrakhan and the Million Man March.

America's indigenous version of Islam contains key tenets that deeply contradict those of normative Islam, most prominently by adding prophets after Muhammad, viewing whites as evil and restricting membership to persons of African heritage. Noble Drew Ali's Holy Koran of the Moorish Science Temple of America (1927) contains no overlap with the normative Qur'an but derives from such books of "esoteric wisdom" as The Aquarian Gospel of the Christ (Los Angeles, 1908). For these reasons, Muslims generally reject MSTA's claims to be Islamic.

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Nasser Died Fifty Years Ago: He Lives on in Egypt

by Daniel Pipes  •  September 28, 2020  •  Washington Times

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Gamal Abdel Nasser, the charismatic ruler of Egypt, died 50 years ago today. During his eighteen years in power, 1952-70, he dominated the Middle East and, even now, he remains an intense topic of interest.

According to Google's Ngram, the word "Nasserist" has steadily appeared more often in English-language books since 1970. A Lebanese newspaper article announced last week that "Nasser is the future," called him the "immortal leader," and proclaimed that he remains "a necessity to face current challenges even as his ideas and choices provide a solid bridge to deal with the future."

Reporting on Nasser's death, headlines in the New York Times succinctly conveyed both the benign, positive coverage he enjoyed among Westerners and their belief in his universal popularity among Arabs: "Blow to peace efforts seen," "U.S. officials see period of instability in Mideast," "The Arab world is grief-stricken." The real story, however, was quite different, with Nasser's rule bringing disaster to Egypt in the form of political, economic, and cultural decline.

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How Fares Western Civ?

by Daniel Pipes  •  Fall 2020  •  Academic Questions

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Eliminating courses on Western civilization ranks as one of the many radical changes in the American university over the last few decades. Symbolically, the shift began in January 1987, when Jesse Jackson led Stanford University students who, in a farcical demonstration with deep implications, shouted "Hey-hey, ho-ho, Western culture's got to go."

And go it did. Those students, writes Stanley Kurtz in The Lost History of Western Civilization, not only succeeded "to dismantle Stanford's required course on the history and great works of Western Civilization ... but [they] helped set off a 'multiculturalist' movement that swept away Western Civilization courses at most American colleges and set the terms of our cultural battles for decades to come."

Western civ courses matter because they help the intelligent citizen and voter understand three topics: how things came to be; what works and what does not; and where one fits into the world. Their abandonment leaves tomorrow's leaders less capable.

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For a listing of original stories concerning non-Muslim women with Muslim men, starting in September 2019, please click here.

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