For years, the Soviet Union benefited from those Vladimir Lenin is said to have dubbed "the useful idiots of the West" — reporters, scholars, leftists, and assorted romantics who said the Soviet system of totalitarianism was not so bad.
Leading its own charm offensive, another evil empire, the Muslim Brotherhood, has assembled its own enablers among the West's august institutions during the last few years.
On May 2, the Wall Street Journal glossed over Prime Minister Erdogan's program of Islamizing Turkey. The editorial page of America's weightiest conservative newspaper instead criticized Mr. Erdogan's secular opponents and warned the deeply secular army against considering a coup.
In an April 29 New York Times article, James Traub wrote as though there was no question mark in the "Islamic Democrats?" headline that ran over his embarrassingly obsequious piece, which sang the praises of a reborn democratic Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
The current issue of Foreign Affairs carries a propaganda piece by Robert Leiken and Steven Brooke, "The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood," that is so lacking in inquisitiveness it is being used as a calling card by the Brotherhood's Politburo. Even the enormously level-headed Economist has argued that maintaining "democracy is more important" for Turkey than the fundamentalist threat, "even if it means enduring a bad, ineffective, corrupt or mildly Islamist government."
"Mildly Islamist" is as oxymoronic as "chilly fire." Once politicized, a religion becomes a weapon rather than a spiritual pursuit, and Islam was politicized instantly upon the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632. For 14 centuries, its legacy has been an unbroken series of violent expeditions against non-Muslims, endless conquests, and internecine wars between its Shiite and Sunni factions.
The first successor to Muhammad, Abu Bakr, whose caliphate lasted just two years (632–634), was a brilliant military commander who made his first task waging war against those Arabian tribes who refused to pay the "zakat," or Islamic tax, accusing them of "ridda," or apostasy. After Abu Bakr's death, rivalries lead to the assassinations of the next three caliphs, including Uthman and Ali, which led to the historic Shiite-Sunni rupture.
There is nothing new here. All religions, including Christianity, have had violent phases when they dominated entire societies; one infamous example is the Roman Catholic Church's Inquisition. But over the centuries, more and more countries have adopted constitutional reforms, separated religion from state, and followed evolving standards of democratic thought. They have firmly corralled faith into a privileged spot within a generally secular sphere.
Islam is going in the opposite direction — and its attempts to form a new evil empire are largely presided over by the Muslim Brotherhood. Officially created in Egypt in 1928, the Brotherhood conjured the specter of jihadist Islam with its evergreen slogan, "Islam Is the Solution." It has since spread its thought and principles throughout the Arabian Gulf region, particularly in Saudi Arabia, and today struggles for power in Muslim nations from Egypt to Pakistan.
The Brotherhood's program has remained largely unchanged for seven decades: scrapping civil laws in favor of Shariah law, spreading the faith globally to Africa, Europe, and America, and taking power wherever it exists.
A French Islamic scholar, Gilles Kepel, is one of many in Europe who have painstakingly documented how every Islamic movement, from Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda to Hamas and Hezbollah, and those as far away as Pakistan and Indonesia, has found its origins and its leaders among the original Brotherhood. Backed by Saudi money, the Brotherhood has taken over all of Islam's major religious institutions and is replicating exponentially. From Afghanistan to the mosques of London and storefront "worshipping shops" in Brooklyn, there will be an "Ikhwani" preacher in charge.
The heart of the Brotherhood remains the working manifesto written by Sayed Qutb while he was in jail in Egypt, which is venerated by all Muslim Brotherhood chapters to this day. His life's work comprised two messages: jihad against all infidels and "takfir," the act of declaring another Muslim an apostate. In "Milestones," published in 1964 and the source of charges used to justify Qutb's 1966 execution, he crystallized the logic of fighting national governments to create the Ummah, one nation for all Muslims. According to Qutb, there is no room for "mild Islam"; the only solution is for each nation to be united with all the others under one Islam through jihad.
To the Muslim Brotherhood, "Milestones" is what Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf " was to the Nazi movement: the foundation text for its desired revolution. So Westerners looking into the tenets of the Brotherhood must avoid being ensnared by its seductive side.
However, Messrs. Leiken and Brooke of Foreign Affairs seem to have fallen for an old trick and, in their article, express regret that a top Muslim Brotherhood leader in Britain, preacher Kamal El Helbawi, was banned from a flight to America because his name appeared on a terror watch list. What was the basis for their regret? Mr. El Helbawi is, they said, a "London-based admirer of Shakespeare," and so could not be a terrorist.
If proclaiming a love for Shakespeare is all the Brotherhood has to do to get a free pass, the West is in trouble.