Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Omeed Aziz Popal
Can you imagine, if someone had (God forbid!) driven a car into 14 gay people, how quickly the press would have managed to cover the story? Can you imagine that Mayor Newsom would call it “road rage” and suggest that there really probably wasn’t a “hate crime” attached to the action?Whether you agree with her or not, another couple of these incidents and right-to-carry laws are going to gain in popularity even more quickly than they already are. A free society doesn't have any way to defend itself against this except an armed populace.
I know that somewhere in the minds of these movers and shakers they think they are protecting Muslims-in-general from reactionary prejudice, distrust and bias from us unruly, racist, mouth-breathing Americans (because we went nuts and burned down mosques after 9/11, right? We took to the streets and rampaged and lynched anyone named Abdul back then, right?) but the truth is, by their incessant downplaying, their knee-jerk move to protect-and-explain perps like this, they’re just making some people very resentful, and in the end, I think that’s going to do more to foment prejudice and bias, distrust and hate toward decent Muslim persons than would simply acknowledging the fact that when these Fundamentalists DO this crap, it is what it is - an act of aggression, hate and terror - and not some “mistake” that can be cooed away.
For years, SC&A has been blogging about the cultural abyss into which the ME has fallen, and it might be time to read that. Or perhaps, read Ali Etarez, who writes on a shooting of a reformist in Pakistan:
As we speak, as you sit in your chair, connected to the vast outside world something immense, and like all immense things, something uncontrollable, is happening in Pakistan. The setting is a combustible South Asian nation. The battle is for the equality of Muslim women and simple human dignity. The war within the Law of God has become a war between Violence and Reason. One speaks with the authority of bullets and flame; the other through the authority of pamphlet and humility.I think there is a war here, but it is not a war between religions, but as Ali says, between Violence and Reason. Violence has a theology, but so does Reason. And coming back to the Anchoress' point, I think that failure to confront and examine the "war within the Law of God" will leave people in the US with the impression that this is a different war, and that all Muslims are prone to go off like popguns in Jewish neighborhoods. I think it's time to come to grips with what Violence is truly saying in order to let Reason prevail.
I want to reiterate this: for every act of violence in the west, there are ten in the Muslim world. The ideology of Violence must be defeated, because it will never surrender - but that need not mean that Muslims must be outcast, or that being Muslim is at all incompatible within being humane and just. What we should do is speak and live reason, even if we have to carry a gun to do this. I must, in the end, have a radical addiction to freedom, because I would rather live in an armed society than in one which carried out pograms against innocent Muslims.
Our society doesn't fail to criticize and examine the violent Christian teachings which occasionally arise, and I think we now must confront openly the violent Muslim teachings without fear or favor. Unless we do this, it will end in pograms.
That assumes, M-o-M, that you're in a state or county or city where you can carry. I can't where I am, and you know the Party Line for politicians, media, and all other Comrades: Guns Cause All Violence and Total Gun Control Is The Cure-All.
What I mean by "violent at it's core" is *not* that every Muslim is violent. I mean the heavy violence condoned and justified by the Koran which is taken by true Muslims as infallible/perfect.
And by review of Mohammed's life as a violent warrior. And by review of Muslim societies, both historical and current.
For these reasons, I think your quest to separate violence and Islam is naive and will be fruitless. But it is clearly goodhearted.
I must say what you post has some truth in it as to certain portions of Islam but I still think it is limited. I think what we are missing is a historical perspective as to ISLAM. It is indeed dangerous to the Christian faith. History has shown that. But were not other things.
I think that there must be a effort to truly engage Islam especially since so many of our fellow citizens profess that faith. The muslims I know are not the same breed as those that are committing this unholy violence. Also, one must honor and recognize that Thousands of Muslims in lets say Iraq that are paying with their lives to fight this horrid movement. I am a tad troubled why we don't seem to do that.
In the end to understand Islam we must recognize what it is. It is not something foreign. It is in reality a Cathoolic or if you prefer a Christian Heresy. It is only its dominance and power that make it appear other wise. In a sense Islam is simply taking the logical consequence of the Early Christian Heresy of Arianism and in fact the worst excess's of radical Calvinism. The similarties are at a time quite striking.
Those movements at times were just as irrational as todays Islamic Fundamentalist in some places. I am not trying to equate Islam with full Historic Christanity. Needless to say Historic Christianity in its various factions did not endorse Sucide bombings and needless to say did that have such a military tradition that was a part of its ethos. But it is important to understand what we are dealing with and it roots so as to engage it constructively.
Many Muslims are being killed in an effort to oppose this. In light of that reality, can't we acknowledge that Muslims are human beings and capable of virtue, just as other people of other religions are capable of the worst behavior?
This is not a goodhearted attempt to smooth over the truth, but an embrace of MLK's "the content of their character" principle, which is a principle fully consonant with and deeply embedded in the founding principles of the US. I look around the world, and I can find no better principles.
I'm saying I'm willing to take the risk of preserving those principles. To seek absolute safety at this point would be highly destructive of them. When the founders separated conduct from sect, they did religion a profound favor and society a profound favor. They also gave us something priceless. Don't sell your birthright for a mess of pottage.
PS: States keep passing right to carry laws. The movement is gaining.
By the way, I've been reading you for a while now and really find your blog refreshing and interesting, even if I don't agree with all your conclusions.
Re: "They would not agree that they are bad Muslims. Are you going to decide that they are?"
No, not me. More power to those who see themselves as fighting to redirect and eliminate the violence embedded in the past and present of Islam.
However, it is pretty clear from monitoring the words of the leaders of Islam (e.g., at Memri.org), that those Iman, etc. that teach the broad Islam community *do* consider Muslims bad if they:
* have tolerance for Christians and/or Jews practicing their religion
* believe in the equality of all men (and women)
* accept freedom of speech and therefore thought
I am willing to believe that there are influential Muslim religious leaders who struggle against these principles. In fact, I read about one recently (in SF, if I remember correctly). But that is one voice amongst the many. That being the case, we should recognize that we have limited or no ability to steer the direction of Islam; only Muslims can do that and the overwhelming majority of influential religious leaders are either rabidly anti-West/anti-freedom/jihad-enabling, or silent on the topic.
If that ever changes, I might be able to see things your way. Until then, I think Muslims who take their religion seriously should find a country where their beliefs do not present an imminent threat. I.e., far from here.
Well in reality that is not going to happen. Especially since ISlam is growing so fast they will pick up converts here. Again I know in this current climate it is tempting to push away. But to be honest that will just create a disaster. In the end assimilation is the key. That starts from having Muslim kids play on our Football teams and Baseball teams to which they already do to having Muslim men and women in our Lions clubs, Kiwanis, Jacyees etc. That migh sound simplistic but it is a important part of the process.
That does indeed appear to be our only option available today given our society's passivity. Available evidence (failure of Brit Muslims to assimilate despite appearances, spotty evidence of Muslim rage in the US, etc.) leads me to doubt it will work enough to reduce the threat but we can hope I am wrong.
At this point, that hope/wish is all we appear to have.
The fact is Popal was reported to be mentally unstable, had been having recurring nightmares about someone coming to kill him and had been taking medication. Does that mean he was taking headache, cold or flu medication? No. It means he was most likely taking an antidepressant which puts him in the same class of people as Andrea Yates who was on Effexor when she drowned all her children, Eric Harris who was on Luvox when he went on a shooting and bombing rampage at Columbine, Jeff Weise the young Native American who was on Prozac when he killed ten and wounded many others at Red Lake High School in Minnesota and thousands of other Americans of many races and backgrounds who became violent and only had being on antidepressants in common.
Popal's actions as reported in the media clearly go to a state of mind, not a state driving an SUV or being of Muslim descent.
Road rage, "going Postal," senseless school shootings, Iraq war veterans being treated for post traumatic stress disorder and who shoot family members and fellow soldiers usually all have one thing in common--they were on antidepressants or similar-acting psychiatric medications.
The FDA has finally mandated a Black Box warning for all antidepressants to say that they cause suicidal ideation and suicide. Effexor, the antidepressant Andrea Yates was on, now carries the warning that if can cause Homicidal Ideation. That means that some people taking this antidepressant are going to feel the urge to go out and kill people. That sure sounds like the state of mind Omeed Popal was in to me. And by the way those side-effects are not just limited to people driving SUVs or of Muslim origins. Look around, this scenario is playing out in every city in America everyday.
The real enemy here is the pharmaceutical lobby that has kept a lid on this much like the tobacco industry kept a lid on the fact that smoking causes cancer. Maybe when another 50,000 or so Americans are killed or injured in this manner, someone in the media will have the courage to look under that lid and print what they see.
I would say that your speculation makes a lot of pragmatic sense, but I will also say that people are being no less pragmatic in observing that a rampage in an SUV that included trying to run over two people right by a Jewish center sounds like other recent stories in the press. There was the SUV renter who deliberately drove into the crowd at the college, and the Seattle situation. And Popal just got back from Afghanistan.
I still think the Anchoress was extremely reasonable in remarking that the failure to openly discuss what many people are thinking makes the situation worse, not better.
"I still think the Anchoress was extremely reasonable in remarking that the failure to openly discuss what many people are thinking makes the situation worse, not better."
The interesting thing to me is the motivation structure behind the last anonymous poster, and so many others. People are desperate to conclude as he or she does. He is confident as he declares _what is in the killer's mind_, although it's not known to him. He compares Islam to Christianity, despite there being no parallel savage message in Jesus teaching. This man had the calm after his crime of one who feels he has acted rightly. Because his act of Jihad against infidels was Islamically righteous, Islamically justified. He is calm perhaps because Allah promises the Jihadi who kills infidels a place in paradise. And the shadow of eternal hell haunts most pages of the Koran (unlike the bible) and this fear is a disturbing constant companion.
We liberal Westerners can't seem to confront that the Koran requires (yes, requires) violent jihad against the infidel of the true Muslim. It's too great a chasm from our own thinking. I mean, how could this really be so? Surely no one really thinks this way, except maybe a nut or two. Right?
That any human being harbors such violent intent is one of the greatest shocks to our sensibilities. We keep it at bay.
We can maintain that because we haven't studied the Koran, the Hadith, the Sira.
The principle of Jihad is a shock indeed.
Then 2+2 gets put together.
Then we start to recognize why, for example, "My Jihad" by Adolf Hitler (That's "Mein Kampf" in German)is a perenial bestseller in muslim lands. It resonates with Islam, being filled with poison and hatred, like so much Hadith, and many many Koran passages.
Read these things (Koran, Hadith, Sira), anonymous, Pondering, and you will understand how a Muslim can be prone to go on a murder rampage. Why it seems to be a growing pattern.
Read a few of the Chinese forums on Boxun, and get scared. Get very scared. Mein Kampf is becoming an underground classic in some areas there.
When under pressure, attack! That is the default setting for humanity unleavened with the enlightened philosophies, and enlightened philosophies in the end rest upon what are essentially religious principles. Our western world has totally forgotten what we are and so cannot confront cultural realities elsewhere.
Pondering is correct that the only true weapon we have to alleviate this is cultural (and the values and beliefs underlying that culture). We should reflect the purposes and principles of our deeper culture. If these waves of destructiveness can be contained, they will discredit themselves. If they can't, a new barbarism will overwhelm the world.
When under pressure, attack! That is the default setting for humanity unleavened with the enlightened philosophies,
The above statement reminds us to check ourselves from embracing "the dark side."
Anon - there is a huge wave of destructive fervor rising from the street in a large area of the world. It's not just Islam.
Read a few of the Chinese forums on Boxun, and get scared. Get very scared.
And this statement reminds us that the dark side is on the march. Can we change that by our own "being open" to them? You can't change other people, is the problem.
And that's the trick of the "inclusion solution" from Pondering American, ie
it is tempting to push away. But to be honest that will just create a disaster. In the end assimilation is the key.
And if they don't want to assimilate? (As most in Europe seem not to.)
Yes there are many persons born into Islam who are moderate, decent, kind, inclined to goodness. But they share this with non-muslims in spite of Islam, even against it. And the jihading haters within islam are SO MUCH LOUDER and intimidating to the "moderates" that they set the tone of the whole umma.
But you may have a point, and it does not make the picture any prettier, but it is a point. That combating such darkness, as you feel is spreading all over the place (China, etc), does require a pulling back into the decency of the heart. Not just kneejerk defensive action.
However, we must treat determined enemies as such, or the war is much lengthened. Myself, I believe we should enact a policy of worship as you like (naturally) but Jihad impulses will be shown very determined response. Spine deters Jihad. Then they get the message, and they invoke Darura (necessity) and cease waging jihad. Maintain this indefinitely, but especially for the next 50-75 years until the the oil runs out. That may be enough. Not so complicated.
ps. couldn't find boxun forums you mentioned. (Not sure I want to. China is a very dark place, and what you say doesn't suprise me much. Like a dark cloud that oppresses the soul hung over it, when I was there. As soon as I left, I could breath again. It's really something.)