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More Vanished American Words

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 9, 2022

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I recently published 25 "vanished American words" that someone born around 1950 would understand and those born after 1960 would probably not. I asked for additional suggestions and got many. Selecting out the best of them, here is a new list, now over four times longer. Some are very obscure (Gestetner) and others not so much (telephone booth).

As an aside, two readers protested the inclusion of "party line" as a vanished phrase. No, one replied, it "is still alive and well," as in the example, "the MSM follows the Democrat party line." Yes, but I meant a telephone party line; the readers' unfamiliarity with this phenomenon neatly confirms my point. (January 9, 2022)

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Fellow Conservatives, Please Reject Conspiracy Theories

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 6, 2022  •  Substack

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Two conspiracy theories have damaged the American conservative movement during the past year, diverting its attention, derailing it from enduring principles, and diminishing its popular support. To get back on track, the time has come to stop alleging that the 2020 presidential election was a "fraud" and that COVID-19 vaccinations are "dangerous."

The election conspiracy theory goes back to 2016, when Donald Trump implied that, should he lose to Hillary Clinton, he would reject the election results. He put the country on notice with statements like "I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election – if I win." Trump reiterated this threat during the 2020 campaign. As the election results soured for him, he made it dogma, specifically by turning on Fox News for projecting Joe Biden to win Arizona, a state Trump expected to carry.

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2021's Biggest Hits at DanielPipes.org

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 5, 2022

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Traffic statistics at DanielPipes.org indicate that the following ten articles are my most read writings published in 2021, in ascending order. (Gary Gambill of the Middle East Forum kindly provided the tabulations and summaries.)

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

This two-part manuscript, published in the Winter 2021 and Spring 2021 issues of Middle East Quarterly, examines the evolution of Christendom's relationship to the Muslim world from the birth of Islam to the present.

Part I discusses the "uniquely hostile nature of European views toward Muslims" during the pre-modern era, when Muslims were "medieval Europe's only persistent rival" and enjoyed military superiority or parity.

Part II examines the period from roughly 1700 onward when Europeans enjoyed such primacy that they conquered nearly all Muslim-majority areas of the globe. Combined with a reduction in Christian religiosity, this permitted "more varied and nuanced views" of Islam and Muslims to prevail. However, the emergence of Islamism as a global threat and the upsurge of Muslim immigration in recent years are leading some in the West to again see Islam as a civilizational threat.

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Vanished American Words

by Daniel Pipes  •  December 31, 2021

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As New Year's approaches, I wonder what words and concepts familiar to an American born around 1950 have disappeared to the point that they puzzle most of those under 60 years of age?

Here is a list complied with help from my contemporaries and from younger folk. Further suggestions are welcome.

(December 31, 2021)

Jan. 9, 2022 update: For many more vanished American words proposed by readers, click here.

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The Religious Roots of Turkey's Currency Crisis

by Daniel Pipes  •  December 29, 2021  •  Wall Street Journal

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As Turkey's economy heads into a tailspin because of the collapse of its currency, the lira, investors and economists wonder why President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has continued the eccentric economic policy that caused this crisis. He has made clear that his motivation is primarily religious.

Mr. Erdoğan has dominated Turkish politics for nearly 20 years in a variety of roles—head of the Justice and Development Party, prime minister and president. Two notable features marked the first half of his rule: constant worry that the fervently secular military leadership would stage a coup, and extraordinary economic growth. ...

[Please refer to the Wall Street Journal for the complete text.]

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What to Make of Éric Zemmour?

by Daniel Pipes  •  December 2, 2021

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What to make of Éric Zemmour, the just-declared candidate for president in France in 2022?

His last name in Arabic means, perhaps suitably for an intellectual, honking, as what geese and car horns do.* His parents fled Algeria and he openly identifies as a Jew but presents himself as the representative of traditional Catholic Deep France and the scourge of immigrants and Islam. He adopts positions on Jewish issues so extreme that France's Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia called him an antisemite. He's been twice found guilty of hate speech and wears these condemnations proudly. His anti-feminist positions are antediluvian. He's pro-Russian and anti-American.

I experienced this last first-hand in Budapest in March 2019, when he and I attended the same conference. Seeing him a couple tables away at the breakfast room, I approached him and introduced myself in a decent French. With the classic Parisian disdain of a café waiter dealing with a boorish foreign customer, he snubbed me, quickly ending the conversation and leaving me slighted.

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review of Islam, Jews and the Temple Mount

by Daniel Pipes  •  Winter 2022  •  Middle East Quarterly

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Reiter and Dimant survey over a millennium's worth of major Muslim sources – histories, geographies, literary works, Islamic texts – on the topic of the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount (Arabic: al-Haram ash-Sharif). Unsurprisingly, they find that Muslims prolifically, consistently, and uncontroversially agreed not only on the validity of that tie but on its foundational importance for the Islamic connection to al-Haram ash-Sharif. "Islam sanctifies Jerusalem and the Temple Mount Compound ... primarily because they were originally sacred to Jews and later to Christians." Accordingly, "contemporary Muslims who engage in the discourse that denies any Jewish bond to the Temple Mount or to Jerusalem are ignoring and deliberately overlooking, at times even rejecting, fundamental sources of Muslim culture."

Then they contrast that with the prevalent arguments since 1967, when Israeli troops took control of that sanctuary. Only after that date, it turns out, did the Palestinian priority to delegitimate Jewish control trump the Islamic need for legitimation. Only then did a vast heritage get dumped for the sake of tactical convenience. Only then did the Big Lie find an international audience as, for example, governments of Muslim-majority countries pressured UNESCO and other international organizations to adopt the Palestinian narrative.

Finally, Reiter and Dimant document the few recent authors who have stayed true to the Islamic truths.

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Islam's Surprising Impact on Daily Life

by Daniel Pipes  •  Winter 2022  •  Middle East Quarterly

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Islam's "flavor is unmistakable on whatever it touched."
Gustave von Grunebaum

The Qur'an forbids Muslims to eat, drink, smoke, or engage in sexual relations during daylight hours in the month of Ramadan. But the Qur'an says nothing about aspects of twenty-first century Ramadan: shortened office hours, parties through the night, holiday pastries, special television programs, vacations in countries with less-strict regimens, or escapes to cooler climes with shorter daylight. The Qur'an knows even less about "the Ramadan effect on retail" on health. Fasting, notes the head of the Emirates Diabetes Society, causes observant Muslims to exercise less, and festive nights mean they "tend to overeat upon breaking their fast," usually consuming "heavy, fatty foods that are high in calories." Sixty-percent of respondents in a Saudi survey reported excessive weight gain after Ramadan.

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review of Tolerance and Risk: How U.S. Liberalism Racializes Muslims

by Daniel Pipes  •  Winter 2022  •  Middle East Quarterly

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If the subtitle, "How U.S. Liberalism Racializes Muslims," confuses, that is because it originates in an unfamiliar far-left academic outlook. Here is the clearest explanation of Rastegar's muddy thesis: "Whereas empathy and identification operate to mark some Muslims as civilized 'like us,' others are pushed further into the categories of not simply uncivilized but also incomprehensible, inhuman, and monstrous." In other words, by praising some Muslims, liberals are in effect condemning others. This, in turn, racializes Muslims.

The author, a "clinical associate professor of liberal studies" at New York University, makes her point through "an analysis of broadly circulating media discourses about tolerating and sympathizing with Muslims." She finds that "articulations of liberal values create lines of distinction ... as they put forth only some Muslims as worthy of tolerance or sympathy." Indeed, worse than that, "They more broadly function as a policing and disciplining discourse that casts Muslims as tolerable only if they exhibit particular characteristics."

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review of The Rowman & Littlefield Handbook of Christianity in the Middle East.

by Daniel Pipes  •  Winter 2022  •  Middle East Quarterly

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"This is a book about Christianity as it existed and does exist in the Middle East" write the editors in the preface, adding that this story "is nothing less than a surviving jewel." Philip Jenkins writes in the foreword that the Handbook "constitutes a treasury on which scholars will be drawing for decades to come. This is a magnificent contribution." Heather J. Sharkey adds in her introduction that the volume at hand "attests to the vibrant state of scholarship on Middle Eastern Christianity" and predicts that it "will become a reference for scholars and a touchstone for readers."

With such self-praise, the work of a reviewer would seem to be rendered superfluous. But studying this massive volume finds that while the entries are predictably uneven, in their totality they do provide a helpful Handbook, one emphasizing facts over ideas, covering many oft-overlooked topics of Middle Eastern Christianity. The forty-six chapters divide into five sections: sociohistorical, religious encounters, contextual expressions, sociopolitical influences, and country by country. Putting aside the jargon, most readers will probably find a chapter on whatever it is that interests them, from "Missionary Movements in Nisibis, Armenia, and the Silk Road" to "Christian Music and Worship in the Middle East."

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review of Prisoner of the Infidels: The Memoir of an Ottoman Muslim in Seventeenth-Century Europe

by Daniel Pipes  •  Winter 2022  •  Middle East Quarterly

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Osman of Timișoara (c.1658-c.1731) began life as a privileged Ottoman living near the border with Christendom, fell captive to the Hapsburgs as a young soldier, spent about twelve years as a prisoner and a slave, rising through the ranks due to his diligence and intelligence. Eventually, he escaped back to Ottoman lands, where he became a translator, and ended his career as a distinguished diplomat. In a unique document of its type (and the first-ever Ottoman autobiography), Osman in 1724 wrote down his tale of adventure and accomplishment.

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review of Moving In and Out of Islam

by Daniel Pipes  •  Winter 2022  •  Middle East Quarterly

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In an unusual combination of topics, van Nieuwkerk, an anthropologist at Radboud University in the Netherlands, has assembled sixteen empirical case studies of conversion to and deconversion from Islam in Europe, North America, and the Middle East. Given, however, the multitude of studies on "moving into" Islam, the "moving out of" chapters offer more original information and hold greater interest.

Looking at Britons who became Muslim, then left the faith, Mona Alyedreessy notes that they "found many Muslim cultural practices, attitudes, and behavior to be incompatible with [both] Islamic and British values," a damning assessment. Further, they complained about "hypocrisy" and "contradictory behavior" among heritage (i.e., born) Muslims. The pressure to be "good Muslims" caused many converts to rebel and abandon Islam. Worse, one complained that "Islam didn't want you to enjoy your life at all." Women might celebrate their deconversion by dumping their hijabs and other Islamic paraphernalia at a mosque – or even burning these garments.

Simon Cottee suggests that leaving Islam compares to divorce, then discards that analogy in favor of a homosexual "coming out." He sums up the experience as "one of trauma and suffering ... a prolonged and psychologically costly process."

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review of Midnight in Cairo: The Divas of Egypt's Roaring '20s

by Daniel Pipes  •  Winter 2022  •  Middle East Quarterly

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On arrival in Cairo in 1971, this reviewer threw himself into the life of the city, including the faded, somewhat sad music halls in the Ezbekiya district. Fifty years later, reading how those establishments were founded precisely fifty years earlier and then prospered both brings back memories and puts them into their rightful perspective.

Cormack, who has a Ph.D. in Egyptian theater (who knew such a degree program existed?) from the University of Edinburgh, has thoroughly researched a topic one would have expected lost to archival inquiry: the women at the center of Ezbekiya's demi-monde of nightclubs, dance halls, cabarets, and theaters. They were a diverse lot, coming from a wide range of backgrounds but sharing both an artistic ambition and outsized resolve.

Take the artiste Rose al-Yousef who arrived in 1912 from today's Lebanon, 14-years-old, penniless and alone. Through dint of "struggle, mystery, hard work, determination, and more than a little mythologizing," she became a successful actress, then a publisher. The weekly magazine she founded and named after herself (Ruz al-Yusuf) still publishes ninety-five years later. In addition, her son (Ihsan Abdel Koudous) and her grandson (Yussef El Guindi) are both significant writers. Thus does her legacy live on.

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review of Christian Martyrs under Islam: Religious Violence and the Making of the Muslim World

by Daniel Pipes  •  Winter 2022  •  Middle East Quarterly

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Sahner, associate professor of Islamic history at Oxford University, makes innovative use of a familiar but usually ignored source of information on early Islamic history: the hagiographies of around 270 Christians who lost their lives due to their opposition to Islam in the two-century period 660-860 c.e. These "new martyrs" divide into three main categories: born Christians who converted to Islam and then reverted to Christianity; born Muslims who converted to Christianity; and Christians who slandered the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Sahner devotes much attention to the tricky process of interpreting sacred writings to elicit information about history. He argues convincingly that this is possible and that it helps elucidate the process "whereby the predominantly Christian Middle East of late antiquity became the predominantly Islamic region of today."

He concludes from his research that the rate of conversion of Christians to Islam was distinctly slower and more convoluted than sources written by Muslims suggest; "if the great Muslim annalist al-Tabari were all we relied upon to understand the shape of Middle Eastern society in the post-conquest period, we would come to the erroneous conclusion that nearly everyone in this world had already converted [by 923 CE]. Yet this was not the case." Nor was the conversion of Christians to Islam inevitable; rather, it was "a fragile, contested process."

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review of A Culture of Ambiguity: An Alternative History of Islam

by Daniel Pipes  •  Winter 2022  •  Middle East Quarterly

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By the "history of Islam," Bauer eccentrically means not a chronicle of the religion of Islam nor of its adherents, but a contrast between the outlook of Muslims in two long periods of time, 900-1500 and 1800 to the present. Bauer, a professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies (not history) at the University of Münster in Germany, has a simple thesis that he grinds away at in myriad ways over hundreds of pages: Pristine Islamic culture celebrated ambiguity in the form of sometimes frivolous amatory poetry or multiple ideas about Qur'anic exegesis. Then along came Western influence to smash that frail and gentle outlook, replacing it with a monomaniacal, persistent, humorless mentality.

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