Thursday, March 02, 2006
Must Reading To Avoid Bleeding
I met with a young man whose thought and behavior exemplify this phenomenon, in order to hear his views, the justifications for his behavior, and his understanding of the basic principles of the religion... I discovered that he was not familiar with even the basic principles of Islam... and that in matters of Islamic thought and teachings he knows by heart only a few verses from the 'Al-Anfal' and 'Al-Tawbah' chapters [of the Koran] - in particular, the verses concerning jihad, takfir, infidels, striking terror into the hearts of the enemy, and the establishment of a [Muslim military] force.That about sums it up. Those are the precepts which have been taught by certain imams in certain schools. Any Muslim who doesn't agree with their interpretation of the religion is considered to be an apostate. That's how they justify actions against other Muslims. That's what I mean personally mean by fascist Islam, which is less a religion than a cult. The purpose of that cult is to obtain cannon fodder. I think the whole thing started in Saudi as an attempt to shore up their own society and gain the advantage over Egypt. Then it mutated into a monster threatening the powerful in their own society.
"He insisted that the fundamental obligation of every Muslim in his life is to fight against the infidels - both Muslim and non-Muslim. When I asked him how he defines an infidel, he answered without hesitation: whoever fails to fulfill the obligation of jihad. When I asked him against whom the jihad should be directed, he answered, again without hesitation: the jihad should be directed against the infidels. When I tried to understand who, in his opinion, are infidels, he said: Everyone who does not believe in the truth that I believe in.
All the power structures of Muslim societies have as much to fear from this as we do. You really ought to read the whole post. I'm sure there will be some good comments. It is possible to be a very devout and dedicated Muslim without buying into the mindset that the author discusses. It's not possible to be a very devout and dedicated Muslim and buy into the mindset described.
So it is not "moderate" Islam which we should seek to defend. It is true Islam.
You can hang the name of any religion upon any perversion of it. It does not negate the true religion. One of the hallmarks of all real religions is that they are seated in the hearts and minds of their believers constantly demanding painful change from the individual. True religions instill self-doubt and self-checking at the same time that they increase our confidence in an external moral order. Cults slice away at the complexities of life and instill terrifying internal anxieties in the believer. Eventually, those anxieties are used to create a break with reality; unmoored, the agonized victim becomes a bullet shot at the heart of reality.
Note that the boy described above has been taught that everyone else needs to change. He and the few who are like him are the keepers of the true flame. All they need do to be justified is stay exactly the same and continue to attack those who would question their ideas - and if they do not continue to attack, nothing else can ever redeem their own lives. Furthermore, any petty little sins will be washed away in an instant and glorious transition to Paradise at the moment of their martyrdom - so they are probably tacitly encouraged to hang out at a strip bar or fool around with each other. It merely cements their commitment to die for the cause.
Of course, that's very similar to the mindset described in this excellent article about feminist professors in US universities who seem to adore terrorists. But then, the basic idea is the same; an individual questioning their professorial teachings is an infidel upon whom the sins of the world are to be blamed. Destroy the questioner, and you have saved the world:
Cooke's hyperbole is on display in her statement that Campus Watch "is the Trojan horse whose warriors are already changing the rules of the game not only in Middle East studies but also in the US University as a whole." She warned that "They threaten to undermine the very foundations of American education," and compared CW's goals to Nazi "tailoring of education for specifically national purposes."That is the basic doctrine of the la-la leftists. As Tommy puts it, the moment you disagree the question becomes "What is wrong with you?" There is no discussion about ideas, really. It is all propaganda. Principles are stated with great and passionate fervor, but are always, in practice, subverted when necessary to the ultimate necessity of attack. And they take a passionate pride in this ideological war.
The fulminating anti-Semitism of the ME is another problem altogether. I am not sure how far it is possible to amend the cultures themselves. The sickness is running pretty deep in some of them. They will have to fix it themselves, and it will be a long slow process best accomplished by pressure of competition from within the Muslim world itself.
The only two possible strategies, however, are to attack with the intent of killing over 100 million people (which I do not find morally possible but is technically feasible for us) or to keep confronting the culture with reality and let change come from within. We cannot adopt the appeasionist stance the west took with Hitler. That was the worst of all possible behaviors.
My guess is that many of the ME regimes are secretly very glad to pass the US intelligence. They are almost all under siege from the mindset described in the article. The end purpose of that mindset is to gain power within the Muslim world - the attacks in the west are merely a recruiting and fundraising drive. So then read SC&A's post about JFK freight companies, and think. The time when idle political foolishness could have been safe is long past.
We can attempt to raise the barricades, but the cost to us and to our society will be high and we will lose the ability to influence the culture itself. We cannot prevent nuclear proliferation over there, so in the end our barricades will be futile. Or we can strive for the correct balance of internal security and overseas influence and we will face many difficult choices demanding careful thought and debate. I'm not sure we have the capacity for that in our culture any more. Both our press and our academic world has itself been corrupted by absolutist influences.
One fact Shrinkwrapped has pointed out with great force is that we do hold the cards, if we will only play them. See this, this and this. See also Dr. Sanity's post discussing the grim reality of the choice we face, and the fallacy of seeking some pie-in-the-sky victory. And see this by SC&amp;A; there is indeed a process here. The thing about democracy is that it forces accountability into a culture. So does economic freedom.
Over and over again I keep waking up to Golda Meir's words "We can forgive you for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you for making us kill yours." We, I think, are not forced into that choice yet, if we can only keep cool heads.
I really liked your post. It digs deep into the roots of terrorism, and helps identify key areas we can focus on to avoid terrorism in the future.
I'm doing a week-long examination of terrorism, and would like to include your post. If you have any objection, feel free to post it here (I'll check before going live) or email me. Otherwise, I appreciate your insights, and look forward to reading more from you in the future.
For other readers, Scottage's blog is Perspectives of a Nomad.
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