Against Satanic Panics > Recent scaremongers > Dawn Perlmutter > "war on Islam"



Dawn Perlmutter and her "war on Islam"


by Diane Vera



Copyright © 2006 by Diane Vera. All rights reserved.



In addition to claiming to be an expert on "ritualistic crime," Dawn Perlmutter claims to be an expert on terrorism too. The most recent "Internet publication" listed on her website is Mujahideen Blood Rituals: The Religious and Forensic Symbolism of Al Qaeda Beheading, published in Anthropoetics, Fall 2005.

Since I'm no expert on terrorism myself, I won't comment on most of what she says in this paper. I'll just highlight a few parts which display what looks to me like very unsound reasoning.

In the first paragraph, she says:

Beheadings, suicide bombings, and ritual mutilation are not just strategies of war but time-honored warrior traditions that are theologically sanctioned. To relegate these acts to mere terrorist tactics is not only strategically unwise but diminishes the true nature of the threat. Similarly, to designate enemies as religious fanatics, Islamic extremists, insurgents, or radical militants who have corrupted the peaceful religion of Islam is a politically correct fallacy that is undermining every aspect of the war on terrorism and resulting in the death of American soldiers. In this paper, apparently inexplicable violent acts committed during the Iraq war will be presented as the sacred blood rituals of Mujahideen warriors. It will be established that ritual beheadings have been prevalent throughout Islamic history and are theologically prescribed and communally sanctioned. As I have argued throughout my research into new religions and ritualistic crimes, it is my contention that the most reliable method of understanding ritual violence is found in the symbolism, aesthetics, and blood rituals of the participating community. Consequently, in this paper I present a detailed symbolic analysis of numerous ritual beheadings that reveal "beheading signatures" specific to the al-Qaeda network. Finally, I will argue that continuing to analyze the violence from a Western perspective, sugarcoating by the media of violent aspects of the Islamic religion, and failing to recognize that we are in the midst of a century-old Holy war will only serve to perpetuate a never-ending cycle of reciprocal violence.

Indeed it's good to understand how the terrorists themselves think. However, this does not mean that the terrorists and their supporters aren't fanatics or extremists. There are many different kinds of Muslims, who interpret the Koran (Qur'an) and the Hadiths in a wide variety of ways, in much the same way that there are many kinds of Christians who interpret the Bible in a wide variety of ways. Islam has been without any centralized authority (a caliph and his Grand Mufti) for almost a century now, ever since Turkey, the former Ottoman empire, acquired a Western-style secular government after World War I. The many kinds of Muslims include both moderates and extremists, and Dawn Perlmutter doesn't give us any good reason not to think of them as such.

What she describes as the "politically correct fallacy" of the "peaceful religion of Islam" is an attempt by Western governments to (1) side with moderate Muslims against the extremists and (2) prevent mob violence against Muslims here in the West.

I have my own criticism of this "politically correct fallacy," which is that, in my opinion, people who are neither Muslims themselves nor in-depth scholars of the Koran and Hadiths don't have any business making any pronouncements whatsoever as to which brand of Islam should be considered the "true Islam." We should leave it up to the Muslims themselves and the Koran scholars to argue about this question; anyone else who presumes to pontificate about it will succeed only in making oneself look like a fool in the eyes of knowledgeable insiders. Dawn Perlmutter commits her own version of this same fallacy, albeit from an opposite point of view, by claiming, in effect, that the extremists are the true Muslims and that the moderates have a corrupt form of Islam.

From an outsiders' perspective, all that really matters about Islam is the following: (1) Some Muslims are our determined enemies, to the point of being willing to kill themselves for the sake of destroying us. (2) Other Muslims are at least potentially our friends, at least provided we don't piss them off too much. (3) In order to win against the extremists, we will need at least a little bit of help from the moderates. At the very least, we need to avoid pissing off the moderates so much that they end up siding with the extremists against us. That is, of course, unless we're willing to go so far as to nuke 'em all. Is that what Dawn Perlmutter thinks we should do?

It certainly is true, as Perlmutter points out throughout her paper, that the terrorists are extremely dangerous enemies, and that "Their religious devotion is what makes them such dangerous and committed enemies." She is also correct that it's a good idea to try to understand their actions from their own point of view. Knowing one's enemy is always a good idea. However, that's not a good reason to pronounce that they are the true Muslims.

As I said, I don't think most non-Muslims - including myself - have any business taking a stand one way or the other as to which Muslims are the "true Muslims." However, if the U.S. government and mass media are going to presume to take a stand on this question, then it would be not just "politically incorrect" but suicidally stupid to side with our worst enemies against our potential friends!

I'm not saying our government should kiss the asses of moderate Muslims either. For example, our government should not restrict the freedom of speech of private citizens just to kowtow to Muslim sensibilities. But, at the very least, our government itself should refrain from insulting Muslims without very good reason.

And it would greatly behoove us to try to understand the perspectives of the moderates, as well as the perspectives of our enemies. Has Dawn Perlmutter made any serious study at all of moderate Muslim interpretations of the Koran?

I personally am not at all fond of Islam of any kind, moderate or extreme. Nevertheless, the reality is that it would be just plain stupid for our government to declare war upon all of Islam. Doing so would also be an unconstitutional establishment of religion. Therefore, our government is right to say that we are not in a war against Islam.

Back to Dawn Perlmutter's paper. After the first paragraph is a section on the meaning of the word "Mujahideen." After that is a section on "Religious Symbolism" in which she talks about the Koranic and historical significance of beheading, as seen by the terrorists. She also talks quite a bit about terrorist-made videos of beheadings and the distribution of those videos and other terrorist propaganda on the Internet. After that is a section on "Al-Qaeda Network Beheadings," which contains the following:

In 1998 bin Laden organized an alliance of terrorist organizations called the "International Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders," and declared war in an edict that called for attacks on all Americans. It is significant to note that this was not just a political declaration but a religious decree (fatwa), a call to arms quoting the Quran as justification for violence, specifically proclaiming that it is the duty of Muslims around the world to wage holy war on the United States, American citizens, Christians and Jews. (A transcript of bin Ladenís fatwa may be found at http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/docs/980223-fatwa.htm.)

Many Muslims would argue that Osama bin Laden is not qualified to issue a fatwa. A fatwa is not just any "decree" which is issued by Muslim leader and which quotes the Koran. A fatwa may be issued only by a mufti, a recognized Muslim scholar of the Koran and the Hadiths.

Perlmutter then goes on to talk about various beheadings by terrorist groups in the Al-Qaeda network. She has a chart listing a little over fifty individual beheadings in 2000-2005. She also gives URL's for some of the terrorist-made videos of beheadings.

After this is a section on "Forensic and Symbolic Analysis of Beheading." This section begins:

Beheadings in the Al Qaeda network videos meet all the criteria to be designated ritualistic crimes, more specifically ritual murder in the category of holy war. ... Some reporters have claimed that the beheadings are a form of human sacrifice, hence the terrorists committing these crimes are not true Muslims but have returned to pagan pre-Islamic practices that are prohibited in the Quran (editorial in USA Today, "Nothing Islamic about human sacrifice," http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2004-11-16-peters-edit_x.htm). The practice of human sacrifice is a form of idolatry that is prohibited in all the monotheistic religions, specifically in reference to the worship of other gods; however, referring to these beheadings as human sacrifice is inaccurate. There are subtle and important distinctions between ritual murder and sacrifice. In its simplest terms, human sacrifice is ritually murdering someone as an offering to a god; ritual murder is ritually killing someone for other reasons. The mujahideen are not beheading victims as offerings to Allah; they are ritually murdering the enemies and apostates of Allah to preserve Islam as theologically proscribed in the Quran. The Mujahideen are not creating a cult of human sacrifice; they are returning to a pure form of Islam, as they consistently claim. These subtle but important distinctions are what prompted me to propose a ritualistic homicide typology in my book Investigating Religious Terrorism and Ritualistic Crimes.

She is correct that the beheadings are technically not "human sacrifice." However, Muslims do have a variety of opinions as to what kind of war constitutes a proper jihad. Muslims have a variety of opinions as to when war is justified and how it should be fought. Many would say, for example, that a call for jihad is justified only for purposes of defense against outright persecution of Muslims for their religion. Many would also say that the Koran forbids the killing of innocents and forbids various other things that the terrorists have been doing.

Once again Perlmutter spits in the faces of moderate Muslims and blithely agrees with our worst enemies that theirs is a "pure" form of Islam. In her paper, she has quoted some of the Koran verses that the terrorists quote to justify their actions. However, the moderates base their views on the Koran and Hadiths too. Dawn Perlmutter's paper contains no indication that she has even looked at the Koran passages or the Hadiths cited by the moderates, or at the moderates' interpretation of the verses cited by the terrorists. Instead, it appears that Perlmutter has simply taken our worst enemies' word for it that their interpretation is correct and that their brand of Islam is "pure."

Next is a section titled "Ritual / Signature" which discusses various commonalities among the beheading videos. After that is a section on "Victimology," about the various categories of people whom the terrorists have been beheading. After that are sections on "Weapon" (usually an 8-10 inch serrated knife) and "Body Disposition / Mutilation." (In the latter section she mentions that the Fedayeen Saddam are more traditional and use a sword rather than a knife.)

Next is a section on "Tanzim Qa'idat Al-Jihad in Bilad al-Rafidayn Beheading Signature," about the methods of one guerrilla group in Iraq. In this section, Perlmutter complains about the religious aspects of one beheading video were downplayed in the Western mass media. She writes, "The result of the suppression of the sacred language in the media is a secularization of the most dangerous aspect of the war on terrorism, the religious imperative to kill us." Perhaps she's right that the Western media don't sufficiently emphasize the religious aspect. However, the point that should be made would be the dangers of religious fanaticism, not that the terrorists represent "true Islam." Any presentation of the religious views of terrorists should be counter-balanced by the views of more moderate Muslims. Otherwise, the Western media would be acting as propaganda mouthpieces for the terrorists.

The next section, "al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya Beheading Signature," is mostly about the murder of a family of Egyptian Coptic Christians here in the U.S.A., in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 2005. Perlmutter believes that they were killed by members of the Egyptian terrorist group Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, whereas, she says, the police claimed they thought the primary motive was robbery. She says, "The Coptic community continuously argued that due to political pressure the religious aspect was not thoroughly pursued." I don't know enough either about this particular incident or about Jersey City politics to comment on this claim.

Next is a section on "Fedayeen Saddam Beheading Signature," about an Iraqi guerrilla group whose "ideology is primarily paramilitary rather than religious; however, their violence, although secular, has ritual characteristics and is evocative of Islamist symbolism."

Throughout her paper, Perlmutter either complains directly or repeats other people's complaints that the Western mass media have not been paying enough attention to the details of various terrorist acts. However, detailed mass media publicity is precisely what the terrorists themselves want. In my opinion, the mass media should not reward the terrorists by giving them what they want. The general public does need to be informed that the terrorists are out there and dangerous, and does nee be warned about specific possible danger signs to keep an eye out for (e.g. unattended packages on a bus or subway). But the general public does not need to hear all the gory details of every terrorist incident and does not need to hear all the terrorists' propaganda. Those who are really interested can find it on the Internet, after all.

We now come to her "Conclusion: 21st-Century Holy War: A Return to the 7th Century." She writes:

As disturbing as the beheading and torture videos are, they provide an enormous amount of information and constitute documented records of contemporary ritual murders. More significantly, they prove that ritual murder in the name of religion persists in the 21st century. The contemporary existence of ritual murder and human sacrifice has been the subject of many scholarly debates. The argument against the existence of ritual murder is based on a behavioral science theoretical perspective which claims that perpetrators of these crimes are suffering from some form of psychopathology. The argument that attempts to prove that ritual murder occurs is based on a religious cultural perspective that claims that the perpetrators are making rational choices to engage in a violent ritual that is religiously required of that group. I am the leading proponent of the latter argument, and throughout my career have witnessed a pervasive denial of the existence of premeditated group sanctioned ritual murder. That denial was also prevalent when the first beheading video became public.

There were an abundance of conspiracy theories claiming that Nick Berg was not beheaded by Islamic Fundamentalists, that the beheading was forensically inaccurate, and that it was a hoax perpetrated by the CIA to cushion the blow from the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. There has always been an extreme denial of ritual murder in the United States, particularly when it is in the context of New Religious Movements, Fundamental Extremists, or Contemporary Satanism.

She is jumbling together unrelated issues here. The reasons for skepticism about the first beheading videos were completely different from the reasons for skepticism about the "Satanic Ritual Abuse" (SRA) scare. In neither case was the skepticism due solely to "a behavioral science theoretical perspective which claims that perpetrators of these crimes are suffering from some form of psychopathology."

The main reason for skepticism about the first beheading videos was a justified wariness of our own government's war propaganda. Remember, the U.S. government's main pretext for invading Iraq - the alleged "weapons of mass destruction" - turned out to be completely false. So it was only natural for alert citizens to wonder what other lies we might have been told about the war too. Even if the videos turned out to be real, an initial wariness was still justified.

As for the reasons for skepticism about the SRA scare, see my pages on "Satanism" scares and their debunking: A brief introduction and The "Satanic Ritual Abuse" scare of the 1980's and early 1990's. As Perlmutter did in her Fall 2003 paper on "The Forensics of Sacrifice: A Symbolic Analysis of Ritualistic Crime," she is still completely ignoring the larger child sex abuse panic, of which the SRA scare was a part, and she is still completely ignoring key issues pertaining to the methods of both psychotherapists and social workers back in the 1980's. (See my comments on her 2003 paper.)

Back to her 2005 paper on "Mujahideen Blood Rituals: The Religious and Forensic Symbolism of Al Qaeda Beheading." She goes on to say:

Ironically, the public has no problem accepting the fact that secular ritual murders are enacted by individual serial killers, in fact there is a fascination with them. This is because serial killers are viewed as aberrations and it is plausible to regard one individual as a psychopath. It is much more difficult to comprehend ritual murder committed by several offenders who are respected by their communities and whose violence is theologically proscribed by their religious leaders. There has always been a movement to deny the existence of satanic ritual murders by attributing heinous homicides to individual psychopaths and claiming that "satanic panics" were perpetrated by the media.

Again she is completely ignoring most of the reasons why skeptics regarded the "Satanic crime" hysteria of the 1980's and early 1990's as completely unfounded.

The same denial is taking place by designating these beheadings as a form of psychological warfare. We do not want to acknowledge that in the civilized 21st century people are ritually murdered in the name of God or Satan.

Actually, not many people would deny that the activities of Muslim terrorist and guerrilla groups do have a religious aspect as well as a military strategic aspect. What a lot of people do disagree on, however, is whether or not the terrorists' activities are consistent with "true" Islam, whatever a given commentator thinks the latter is. By claiming that people are "in denial" over the mere fact that many terrorist groups have a religious aspect, she is making a straw-man argument. Everyone knows that Osama bin Laden's followers are religious fanatics. However, for whatever reason, Perlmutter wants us to agree with Osama bin Laden that he's a quintessential true Muslim rather than a fanatic.

It is difficult to remain in denial when there is actual proof of ritual murders and not just remnants of the crime scene. The American public is all too familiar with images of violent murder. What the public cannot accept is the fact that these beheadings are communally sanctioned and religiously justified. These are not violent crimes committed by psychopaths or a form of group hysteria; beheading, suicide bombing, and ritual mutilation are the sacred blood rituals of the Holy warriors of Islam.

Note: She refers to the "Holy Warriors of Islam" - not just of some kinds of Muslims. Never mind the fact that many Muslims interpret the Koran as forbidding suicide, including suicide bombing, as well as the killing of innocents.

We are not going to be defeated by terrorism but we will be defeated by political correctness unless we stop sugarcoating the sacred nature of this war. There are many people who recognize the implications of this religious threat; however, not one politician will acknowledge that we are involved in a holy war. It would be political suicide to announce that this is not a war on terrorism but a war on Islam.

Does she really wish politicians would "announce that this is not a war on terrorism but a war on Islam"??? Does she really want the U.S. government to declare a "war on Islam"?

We are in a war with some Muslims; we are not in a war with the entire Muslim world. Therefore, we are not in a war on Islam. Does Dawn Perlmutter want us to be at war with the entire Muslim world? Is she completely nuts? To declare a full-fledged "war on Islam" wouldn't just be "political" suicide; it would be suicide - or, at least, worldwide mass slaughter.

Anyhow, hardly anyone denies that the terrorists are fighting what they believe to be a "holy war." By claiming massive denial of this, she is again making a straw-man argument. (At the very least, hardly anyone in the West denies that the rank-and-file terrorists believe that they are fighting a "holy war," although many Westerners might suspect that the leaders are being more Machiavellian.)

She quotes Richard D. Connerney as saying:

It is no secret that representative democracy does not take well in the Muslim world. Liberal democracy of the American variety requires the embrace of tolerance over truth, the relinquishment of any binding central religious truth or ideology in government. . . . Islam has never existed without the Islamic state, the Caliphate, and it would be hard-pressed to do so now.

Glaring exception: Turkey. And Turkey is by no means an insignificant exception. Turkey was the hub of the Ottoman Empire, the seat of the caliphate until that office was abolished after World War I.

Dawn Perlmutter says:

Jihadists consistently claim that they are traditionalists who restrict themselves to literal and traditional interpretations of their sacred texts. The media have perpetuated an erroneous idea that Islamic terrorists have corrupted the peaceful religion of Islam, when in fact it is moderate Muslims who have altered the religion and actually practice a Westernized, watered-down version of Islam. Acknowledging the documented history of the Islamic religion should not be viewed as an insult to Modern Muslims or deemed slanderous of contemporary Islam. Every major religion has evolved and adapted to new technologies and cultural changes.threat.

Would Dawn Perlmutter use the word "Christian," without any qualifiers, to refer specifically to whatever she might dislike about the most reactionary types of Christians, implying that they are the truest, purest Christians? Would she blame "Christianity" as a whole for any tendency she disliked on the part of either traditionalist Catholics or fundamentalist Protestants? Somehow I doubt she would do so, especially when writing a paper for Anthropoetics. Yet she equates Islam per se with al-Qaeda's style of Islam, even going so far as to complain about politicians' unwillingness to say things like, "this is not a war on terrorism but a war on Islam."

The danger occurs when revisionist history promotes a fallacy that denies the violent origins of the Islamic faith and undermines the publicís perception of the seriousness of the threat.

Hardly anyone denies that Islam had "violent origins" in the sense that Mohammed and his followers fought wars with non-Muslims. What the different kinds of Muslims do disagree on is the significance of those wars in terms of when war is justified and how it should be conducted.

The Mujahideen are nothing if not consistent; they practice what they preach, they have retained Islamís original tenets for centuries and their children are raised as true believers.

No, they don't have a continuous, unbroken tradition of practicing the exact same tenets for centuries since the beginning of Islam. In Dawn Perlmutter's 2001 Anthropoetics paper "The Religious Practices of Modern Satanists and Terrorists" (reviewed here), she herself said that "Osama bin Laden and nearly every devout Muslim terrorist" belong to the "Wahhabi" (Salafi) sect, an ultra-strict form of Islam which was founded only as recently as the eighteenth century, albeit claiming to restore an older, purer form of Islam. Furthermore, according to The Wahhabi Myth, a website by a Salafi, even they do not approve of many of Osama bin Laden's activities and do not consider him to be one of their own. This site contains a page titled What Sect Does Osama Bin Laden Really Belong to? arguing that bin Laden and most other terrorists-in-the-name-of-Islam are followers of Sayyid Qutb, who was influenced heavily by Western ideologies such as Marxism.

No one in the world today can completely escape being influenced by the West in one way or another, to at least some degree. Therefore, no Muslim sect today is a 100% pure unadulterated reflection of the Koran and the teachings of Mohammed. But almost every Muslim sect thinks of itself as being truer to the Koran and to the spirit of Mohammed's teachings than all the other Muslim sects. So, which form of Islam is truly "purest" and "truest" to Islam's roots? That's a complex question, without any immediately obvious cut-and-dried answer. Any answer to that question depends not just on historical facts and on the words of the Koran (the entire Koran, not just the verses that could be seen as favoring the terrorists), but also on which aspects of Islam's roots one considers to be most important - and that's a matter of subjective opinion.

I strongly doubt that Dawn Perlmutter has studied the Koran and the Hadiths in their entirety, in even greater depth than the average mufti has studied them. In that case, she is not qualified to act as a referee in the intra-Muslim contest over which form of Islam is "purest" and "truest" to Islam's roots. Neither am I. So, to avoid making fools of ourselves, she and I both should simply acknowledge that there are different opinions and not presume to take sides with any Muslim sect on the question of who is truest to Islam.

In the last paragraph, she writes:

True believers are the most dangerous enemies. You may be able to get a soldier to fight and die for his country in battle, but you would be hard pressed to find one willing to strap on C-4 attached to a vest full of nails and ball bearings and commit suicide as a walking claymore mine. Mujahideen are lining up for this duty. These holy warriors are willingly blowing themselves up because they have faith.

The above is certainly true - and almost everyone would agree, despite her claim that we're all in denial about it.

As a consequence of our Western view of the world and standard behavioral science analysis of crime, we fail to see the nature of these true believers. Al-Qaeda has already won the most important strategic battle; they know their enemy, but we are in denial of their religious imperative to annihilate us. Our worst opponent is not the Mujahideen, it is our refusal to acknowledge that we are fighting soldiers of God in a centuries-old holy war.

Her favorite straw-man argument again. After what happened on September 11, 2001, hardly anyone on the West is still unaware that the terrorists think of themselves as "soldiers of God in a centuries-old holy war." The points on which she actually disagrees with many people are that (1) she wants us to see the terrorists as the purest Muslims, truest to their roots, and that (2) she does not want us to see them as fanatics.

Ironically, I've gotten into analogous arguments with some immature young Satanists who say that they "hate all Christians," and who dismiss the more tolerant kinds of Christians as "not true Christians." Most kids who say this sort of thing grew up in the Bible Belt and, apparently, have just accepted, without question, the locally prevailing fundamentalist/evangelical Christian notion of what a "true Christianity" is. I can think of plenty of good reasons why a kid brought up in the Bible Belt might hate Christians and Christianity. However, more tolerant kinds of Christians do exist and are, in at least some cases, sincere in their beliefs. If they didn't exist, then the First Amendment would long ago have been repealed or replaced by another constitutional amendment limiting religious freedom to Christians, or something. Since the overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens are Christian, we simply couldn't have religious freedom here if at least some Christians didn't support the idea of religious freedom for all religious minorities, even very unpopular religious minorities like Satanists. We Satanists may still have strong disagreements with even the more tolerant kinds of Christians, but that's not, in itself, reason enough to hate them. It's in our best interests not to hate the more tolerant Christians, because we can't defend our own religious freedom without at least a little help from some of them. It is also in our best interests not to take sides in any intra-Christian debate over what a "true Christian" is. Rather, without making pronouncements as to who is or isn't a "true Christian," we ahould simply recognize that there are many kinds of Christians, only some of which are inherently our enemies.

Anyhow, although I don't think outsiders should be making pronouncements on which branch of a religion is the truest form of that religion, there are other judgments that I think outsiders do have every right to make about a religion's adherents. For example:

  1. Serious, longterm, knowledgeable, committed adherents of a religion should be taken more seriously, as representatives of their religion, than mere dabblers.
  2. People who are known to be adherents of a given religion should be taken more seriously, as representatives of that religion, than people who are not yet known for sure to have ahd any involvement in the religion at all.
  3. Adherents who are known to exist should be taken more seriously, as representatives of their religion, than adherents whose very existence is at best debatable.

The above judgments would seem only to be common sense. Yet Dawn Perlmutter, for all her eagerness to make judgments about which sect of Islam is the purest and truest, nevertheless refuses to make even the above common-sense judgments about Satanists (and alleged Satanists). In her two Anthropoetics papers about Satanism (reviewed here and here), her characterization of Satanism as a whole is based largely on the activities (or alleged activities) of people (or alleged people) in the following two categories: (1) dabblers, and (2) the alleged generations-old conspiracy of child molesters, torturers, and murderers (who, as far as I can tell, exist only in "recovered memories" and the statements of children questioned by overzealous social workers; they did not appear even in anti-Satanist propaganda before the publication of Michelle Remembers in 1980). By the criteria I've suggested above, people (or alleged people) in both these categories only barely qualify as "Satanists" at all, and should certainly not be considered representative of Satanism itself.

If my suggested criteria are applied, then the vast majority of "serious" Satanists are law-abiding - or at least not prone to the kinds of crimes that the scaremongers accuse us of. And that, of course, is the most likely reason why Dawn Perlmutter has chosen not to make these judgments. It seems to me that, when examining any non-Christian religion, Dawn Perlmutter either will or won't choose to judge some adherents as "truer" or more representative than others, and will make her decision on this matter not on the basis of whether a given set of criteria makes any intrinsic sense, but rather on the basis of whether it does or does not help her to inspire popular panic about the religion. Thus, on the basis of highly questionable criteria, she does judge some Muslims to be truer to Islam than others, and more representative of Islam itself, apparently because those criteria make it easier for her to present Islam in general as inherently prone to "ritual murder." On the other hand, she does not apply a far more sensible set of criteria to deem some Satanists to be "truer" or more representative than others, apparently because applying those criteria would interfere with her presentation of Satanists as the ultimate human bogeymen. Of course, only non-Christian religions get this kind of treatment from her. She seems to regard "true Christianity" (whatever she thinks that is - she doesn't specify) as an unalloyed good, even though, through the centuries, plenty of "ritual homicide in the category of holy war" has been committed in the name of Christianity too, as well as Islam.

Incidentally, I'm inclined to agree that many of today's Muslims tend to be, on the whole, more likely to be prone to "holy war" than many of today's Christians, and that there are various historical reasons for this. But that's no reason to say or insinuate that Muslims who aren't especially "holy war"-prone aren't true Muslims.



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