It’s so easy to confuse them these days…
Archive for the ‘Islam’ Category.
It’s so easy to confuse them these days…
I’ll admit I’ve been a bit mystified why the Left supports the misogynistic and homophobic religion of Islam, attacking Libertarians and Conservatives who question the religion as being “extremists” and “Islamophobes”. Benjamin Wiker, writing for Human Events, explains that modern liberalism has its roots in and defines itself against Christianity. As a result…
Liberals therefore tended to approve of anything but Christianity. Deism was fine, or even pantheism. The eminent liberal Rousseau praised Islam and declared Christianity incompatible with good government. Hinduism and Buddhism were exotic and tantalizing among the edge-cutting intelligentsia of the 19th century. Christianity, by contrast, was the religion against which actual liberal progress had to be made.
So, other religions were whitewashed even while Christianity was continually tarred. The tarring was part of the liberal strategy aimed at unseating Christianity from its privileged cultural-legal-moral position in the West. The whitewashing of other religions was part of the strategy too, since elevating them helped deflate the privileged status of Christianity.
The problem is that Christians aren’t the threat to that Muslims are today, and so the Leftist view of the world has a huge blind spot that prevents it from seeing the threat Islam itself poses to the liberal ideals of women’s equality and the rights of homosexuals. As a former liberal myself it took the al Qaeda attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania to force me to question my beliefs, and the 9-11 attacks and the celebrations that erupted throughout the Muslim world to forever change them, but neither these attacks nor the many that have followed seem to have drawn many away from the self-defeating ideology at the heart of modern liberalism. So liberals will continue being blind to treatment of women and homosexuals, and the intolerance that lies at the heart of Islam.
Arm both sides.
The optimal goal is stalemate, to create a quagmire that bogs down both sides, sucking up resources and destroying men and material for however long this state can be maintained. The idea is to encourage both sides to use up what they have against each other so that neither can threaten you after the conflict is resolved.
In a conflict where there are no good guys, where the civilians have been brainwashed through their religion to hate us and suspect us as being the cause of their suffering, there is nothing to be lost by actually making it so. In Syria we have an Iranian-backed Shiite regime fighting a Saudi funded, al Qaeda manned Sunni insurgency. None of the players in the conflict are freedom fighters believing in the establishment of a secular based, peaceful regime in Syria, and nothing will be gained by the United States committing itself to one side or the other.
Obama’s indecisiveness is actually accomplishing this goal. Iraq, a country whose government the US established, is allowing overflights of weapons and munitions from Iran to resupply the Assad regime in Syria. At the same time the US encourages the Saudis and Gulf states to provide arms and material to the insurgents attempting to overthrow the Assad regime.
To put it bluntly, every dead insurgent or Syrian regime soldier is one less insurgent or soldier dedicated to fighting the United States and its allies. The suicide bombers that attack Assad’s regime will not kill American soldiers at checkpoints in Afghanistan, just as the Iranian special forces captured and executed by jihadis will not kill Israeli soldiers in the West Bank.
While this may strike some Westerners as morally repugnant at first, consider the alternatives. If the Assad regime emerges from the civil war victorious, the hand of Iran will be much stronger throughout the region. Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Syria would be in a much better position to threaten America’s only true ally in the region, Israel. A positive conclusion to the conflict would embolden Iran and provide an end to the drain of resources the current conflict draws from the regime, allowing it to refocus on its nuclear program which not only threatens Israel but Europe and in the long term, the United States. On the other hand, if the Alawite Assad regime is overthrown in Syria, what follows will make the Libyan Afterparty in north Africa look like a juice party at a geek fraternity by comparison. The victorious rebels would make Syria into a terrorist training camp, exporting instability and violent attacks throughout the Middle East, but particularly against Israel and Europe. Syria would become the new Afghanistan, run by Wahhabi fanatics dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the assimilation of the West. When viewed from a purely utilitarian American perspective, a successful overthrow of the regime may in fact be worse, forcing the US to intervene militarily with boots on the ground and repeating the errors of the Iraqi occupation.
Neither situation is palatable from the American perspective, so the only option is to support both sides indirectly until they are thoroughly weakened to the point where they cannot threaten the United States or its allies. Turning Syria into a Vietnam-like quagmire for both Iran and al Qaeda is an opportunity that has fallen into Obama’s lap, which when combined with his terrible leadership skills, may be the best luck America has had in its foreign affairs since Mikhail Gorbachev became the premier of the Soviet Union.
So contrary to the hopes of some on the Left, the bombers of the Boston Marathon are not white tea party types like myself but Muslims from Chechnya. Dzhokar A. Tsarnaev, 19, and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, had been in the country for several years. One of the assumptions made by liberals about Islamists is that they misunderstand us, that if they only got to know us better (and if we stopped blowing them up in their homeland and supporting the evil Jews) they’d like us and wouldn’t want to harm us. Attacks like 9-11, the thwarted Time Square bombing, and the Fort Hood Shooting are in the eyes of liberals based on ignorance just as much as they are on misguided foreign policy.
This thinking has its roots in the writings of Erasmus, something that I covered here a few years back.
From the Machiavellian perspective, the struggle between Islamic terrorists and the Free World is a zero-sum game of winners and losers whereas Erasmus’s humanists view it as a game where everyone can win. Once the Islamic terrorists are educated to understand that America isn’t anti-Islamic, they won’t seek to destroy it. Terrorists and Americans can coexist in peace – all that’s necessary is a few apologies and a worldwide media campaign showing the terrorists how much we love Muslims.
Cases like the Tsarnaev brothers undermine the “they don’t understand us” argument originally put forward by Erasmus 500 years ago, as do the inconvenient facts that all of the 9-11 hijackers as well as the plotters including Osama bin Laden himself spent years studying in the United States and the West. These men are not ignorant, and to imply that they are shows an elitist and racist arrogance that liberals would abhor if they could see themselves from a perspective other than their own. A photo narrative by Johannes Hirn notes,
Tamerlan says he doesn’t drink or smoke anymore: “God said no alcohol.” A muslim, he says: “There are no values anymore,” and worries that “people can’t control themselves.”
Let’s consider that a moment. I don’t believe I am stuffing a straw man when I write that to a greater degree an American liberal believes the following:
1. Atheism is the sign of an enlightened mind.
2. All religions are the same, based on ignorance, and the enemies of knowledge.
3. Women are the equal of men and should be treated as such in all spheres both public and private.
4. Western culture is inferior to other cultures, or at best, equivalent.
5. Sexual freedom is the only expression of freedom that must be protected at all costs.
In the US there are no doubt several protestant denominations of Christianity that would agree with at least some of these propositions. The most liberal sect of Islam I know of is the Ismaili sect, and even that sect would disagree with all of the propositions. Do you think Tamarlan Tsarnaev believed in any of those propositions with the possible exception of western inferiority (or rather did, evidently blowing himself up before capture)?
My abhorrence of Islam isn’t based on fear or ignorance. I’ve read the Koran and more importantly, the Hadith, or interpretations of the Koran in the centuries following Muhammad’s death. I’ve lived in a Muslim country, eaten halal food and have celebrated Muslim holidays. I have studied Islam and its history and although do not consider myself an expert on either I know my way around the religion well enough so that I can confidently say that I know what I don’t know. How many liberals have done the same? A liberal looks at the Muslim community and blames American conservatives for Islamic extremism. I look at the Umma and wonder why, based on the teachings of Muhammad and the interpretations found in the Hadith, all Muslims aren’t Islamic extremists. Muslims have a pretty good idea of what American life and life in general in the West is like, and the truth is that a sizeable minority of them don’t like it.
These Muslims find the idea of a government without G-d just as abhorrent as liberals find a government with G-d. Islam makes it clear that all law derives ultimately from Allah through his prophet Muhammad, which is why the Hadith sprung up to handle legal questions that Muhammad himself didn’t address while alive. By this logic Western society and the Shi’a heretics who accept a limited separation between religion and state is heretical by its very existence, and lacking Allah’s support, weak and Evil. In Islam there is no freedom in the Western sense of the word; instead there is a freedom that comes through submission, a type which any pre-Enlightenment European, fundamentalist Christian married woman or perhaps any dedicated servant or slave could relate to, but a concept which would be completely alien to most raised in the post-Enlightenment West. What liberals refuse to understand is that the message of Islam, of complete submission to Allah, can be appealing on its own. The idea that a man like Osama bin Laden, born of wealth, educated in the finest schools in the West would choose a philosophy where women have few rights, homosexuality does not exist, and unbelievers are allowed to live only as future converts to Islam over the Leftist paradise of sexual and economic equality must rankle the liberal, if she would only allow herself to be rankled. I suppose it is possible. After all, Charles Krauthammer, David Horowitz and are ex-liberals as am I.
Charles Krauthammer once wrote Conservatives think Liberals are stupid, whereas Liberals think Conservatives are Evil. What’s ironic is that libertarians and their conservative allies feel towards Liberals the same way Liberals feel about Muslims, that they are ignorant and misguided, that if they just understood us better they’d like us. But unfortunately Liberals see us the way we see jihadists, as enemies meant to be crushed. How else to explain the vain hope by the Left that the bombers turned out to be white men from the Right? And how sad?
It seems 2013 is starting out to be The Year of the Sucker as CurrentTV staffers learn that their old boss, Al Gore wasn’t that different after all from their new boss the emir of Qatar.
“Of course Al didn’t show up,” said one high placed Current staffer. “He has no credibility.
“He’s supposed to be the face of clean energy and just sold [the channel] to very big oil, the emir of Qatar! Current never even took big oil advertising—and Al Gore, that bulls***ter sells to the emir?”...
“Al was always lecturing us about green. He kept his word about green all right—as in cold, hard cash!”
The new channel promises to “Inform! Inspire! Entertain!” and an old buddy of mine in the State Department forwarded me a copy of proposed programming that will start airing in the US in April.
The Big Bang Theory – a sitcom about a Ali, a wanna-be suicide bomber and his overbearing wife Fatima, played by Rosanne Barr. For some reason known only to Allah, Ali’s bombs never go off, a fact that his wife never stops criticizing him about, “You can’t blow up a balloon let alone a zionist bus stop.”
The Cave – a reality show starring 15 male jihadis competing for a chance to win 72 virgins in paradise. Each week contestants are kicked out of the cave for homosexual or bestial acts with a herd of unusually attractive goats kept nearby to tempt the contestants. The last surviving member gets a pair of explosive sneakers and a one way plane ticket to New York.
The Jews - A prime time drama about the Goldberg’s, an uber-rich family that along with other Jewish families runs the world. Pilot focuses on the patriarch Bernie whose wife nags him for spending too much time at the office helping to run the banking system. Bernie’s son Johah, who works in the weather control divison, schemes with his brother Jacob, who helps control the media, to take over the father’s empire by creating Hurricane Sandy. The scheme fails when Jacob’s employees fail to make much of the disaster for fear of hurting President Obama, who like all the world’s politicians is owned by the Old Man.
Arabia’s Top Model – Which one of these burka clad beauties will take home the prize – a day pass to drive the streets of Riyadh without a male relative? Watch the titillating show that everyone in the mosque is sure to be talking about to find out.
All in the Umma – A rapid-fire comedy about the struggles of a small-time cleric, Abdallah, in New York City whose wife can’t cook and his daughter can’t shut up. Pilot episode has the daughter marrying his brother’s son Fadi who then moves in to torment with crazy western ideas like women’s equality and religious tolerance.
In the final weeks before the election I’ve been thinking long and hard about what the outcome could mean for the future of my country. Regardless of who wins, he will face a China that is bullying its neighbors into American arms, a Middle East that has become more radicalized not less, an Iranian nuke or a war started by Israel or the United States but blamed on the Great Satan regardless of which flag is painted on the bunker busters. The November winner will face a crumbling Europe, a soaring American debt that has become so big no one knows how to tame it, and a catatonic domestic economy. American education spends more than any nation in the world on its students yet they learn less. The weight of the pensions of Baby Boomers threatens to crush public spending, turning cities and states into mob enforcers who shake down the working, relatively poor young and pass the cash to the retiring relatively wealthy elderly.
I will leave the economic issues aside for the moment to focus on foreign policy. In my view with the exception of China, Obama has made all of these problems worse. But looking at these issues over the long-term, say through the remainder of this decade, would an Obama loss be really a victory for those of us who have opposed him every step of his way to the office he now holds?
China stands as perhaps the only issue I agree with the administration on. I’ve studied China and East Asia for decades, and recognize that handling a rising superpower is never easy, especially one with a 4,500 year history and cursed by a long, often twisted, memory. The Obama administration has attempted to encourage the rise of a peaceful, prosperous China that would take its place as an equal partner in the Pacific, but at the same time has worked to support our allies such as Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. It is an art more than a science, and while mistakes have been made by the Obama administration, they are to be expected in such a long-term important endeavor. The Chinese cannot understand why the United States would welcome a peaceful, prosperous and powerful China that is integrated with the rest of the world, and instead sees every American move through paranoid eyes and zero-sum calculations. We can’t do much to change this view of American policy in the Pacific, except by doing what this administration has done, setting policies that reassure our allies while encouraging the Chinese to play nice with others in the Pacific’s playground.
Unfortunately the tact, intelligence and real-politic shown by the Obama administration towards China has not been manifested anywhere else in the world. In the same way the reality of Iraq showed the folly of the neocon dream, the murder of our diplomat in Libya and the virulent anti-American nature of the “Arab Spring” has put paid to the dreams of Obama and his liberal eggheads. Obama believed that he alone could solve the Middle East problem with a grand speech in Cairo and apologies and bows to Arab leaders. He thought he could strong-arm Israel to make peace with the Palestinians, and that the Muslim world would see the wisdom of the Nobel committee’s awarding him his Peace Prize. He believed that once free from Iraq, he would be able to exit Afghanistan gracefully without fear of the Taliban taking it over and turning back the clock to 2000.
Nearly four years later America is even more hated than it was under the Bush administration. Iraq is becoming a satellite of Iran, allowing its Shiite neighbor unrestricted flights over its territory to resupply the Assad regime. Pakistan has degenerated into a pit of vipers that protected a man personally responsible for more American deaths than anyone since Ho Chi Minh and allowed Chinese to test a piece of top secret American gear left behind after its forces aired out his skull. Vast swathes of North Africa have been lost to al-Qaeda affiliated radicals including half of its most populous nation, Nigeria. Women are being secreted behind closed doors in Cairo and Tunis, as Egyptians copts are raped and terrorized out of their homes, putting an end to communities that date almost to the time of Christ. Liberals laughed when a man threw shoes at George W. Bush; they are oddly silent as they see Obama burned in effigy by crowds throughout the Middle East. Americans once were able to visit the Pyramids and Valley of the Kings; today members of the Egyptian government call for the destruction of the Pyramids and the State Dept warns Americans to avoid Egypt.
Hope and change.
The murder of the Libyan ambassador proves the Obama administration has failed to learn the lessons of 9-11. The average rapper has better security in Los Angeles than the Libyan ambassador. Threats against American interests there were ignored just as Bin Laden’s declaration of war against the US was in 1998. Many on the right including myself have given a pass to the Clinton administration for failing to imagine the attacks of 9-11 and stop them; today the Obama administration has no such excuses.
And speaking of silence, where is Code Pink, Cindy Sheehan and the other anti-war Left? Where are the anti-war drums that sounded for every dead Muslim civilian or American soldier arriving at Dover Air Force base in Delaware in the middle of the night? Where is the anger, the spiteful commentary of lost wars, the Vietnam comparisons that flowed thick through every mainstream news outlet during the Bush administration? As Walter Russell Mead notes, “If George W. Bush were president now, and had ordered the surge and was responsible for the strategic decisions taken and not taken in Afghanistan over the last four years, the mainstream press would be rubbing our noses in his miserable failures and inexcusable blunders 24/7. The New York Times and the Washington Post would be treating us to pictures of every fallen soldier. The PBS Newshour would feature nightly post-mortems on “America’s failed strategies in the Afghan War” and every arm-chair strategist in America would be filling the op-ed pages with the brilliant 20/20 hindsight ideas that our pathetic, clueless, failed president was too dumb and too cocky to have had.”
After his election I feared that Obama would weaken the position of the United States in the world. I envisioned Obama to be a pacifist who would gut our military, anger our friends and embolden our enemies. I was wrong about Obama’s pacifism; he may be a pacifist at heart but he has shown a willingness to kill America’s enemies that would make Dick Cheney offer him a high-five. Unfortunately he has succeeded in doing what I feared. Our alliances with our closest friends Australia, Canada and Great Britain are ignored. Our long-standing friendship with Israel rebuffed. A deep relationship with Egypt lost. Meanwhile Iran, North Korea and the socialist states in South America continue on as before, confident that the US lacks the resources to challenge them. As Machiavelli wrote “if one cannot be both, it is better to be feared than loved.” Obama should play less golf and read more because he has failed to do either.
The only solace I can take is that the Obama administration has shown a willingness to kill our enemies. Bin Laden is crab food, and drone strikes and special operations continue worldwide. The administration avoids calling it by its name, but the Global War on Terrorism continues using the same methods and tactics that the Bush administration developed and supported. What Obama has not done is use his speech giving abilities to provide an explanation to the American people why the war continues, and show that he and his administration understand the existential threat posed by radical Islam. It is a shame because it is possible that a liberal like Obama could do more to protect and advance freedom in the world for the same reason that a cold warrior like President Nixon could open up to China: his base trusts him.
And this is what concerns me about a Romney victory. If Romney wins I would expect that the Democrats would stoke the flames of their anti-war brothers at a critical time in our history. War is Not the Answer bumperstickers would sprout on foreign cars. Colleges would be wracked by anti-war protests. We need a coherent strategy explained to the American people while continuing the fight against terrorists around the world. There is the potential for Obama to do that, and for his allies to keep their anti-war instincts at bay. Likewise I suppose it’s possible that Obama, having achieved his goal of reelection would simply allow his own pacifist instincts to rule the day, putting American in even more danger. But I would hope that four years of at least occasional Angry Birds free Intelligence Briefings would have convinced Obama the threat to our nation is real.
So it is possible that the best outcome is an Obama victory for those of us who believe in the primacy of the war against radical Islam. The continued media silence at dead terrorists may be worth the price of four more years of Obama. This of course will not change my vote in November, but it has given me something to think about.
Daniel Pipes has a great idea: Teach Muslims the ideal of freedom of expression by publishing a cartoon of Mohammed everyday until their rage subsides and they understand that cartoons don’t offend God as much as killing non-believers does. After all, aren’t non-believers potential members of the umma in Allah’s eyes? It’s a lesson the French have taken the lead on, and one proving their mettle. Yes, I just said a nice thing about the French.
The New York Times provides an interesting perspective on Muslim Rage that’s worth noting (h/t Walter Russell Mead):
(Protesting the film) was also a demand that many of them described with the word “freedom,” although in a context very different from the term’s use in the individualistic West: the right of a community, whether Muslim, Christian or Jewish, to be free from grave insult to its identity and values.
Mead places this in the context of Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations thesis, noting:
In the world of Islam, the film is often seen as a direct and intentional act of blasphemy and evil, part of a larger, concerted effort to humiliate, weaken and destroy Islam. The defense of the ‘right to free expression’ comes across as hypocritical and self serving. The wave of revulsion in the west against what are seen as crazed violent bigots is neither fully understood nor respected.
I’m not sure how much I agree with Mead’s assertion that the protests are about a “freedom from blasphemy,” coming from a region that has shown little respect or tolerance for other religions or even other Islamic sects. While the NYT quotes protests in Egypt against the DaVinci code in 2006, they were nowhere near as organized or widespread as those we are seeing in Egypt today. If Muslims have become the protectors of faiths everywhere, why are they destroying the graves of Sufi saints in Mali and shrines in Libya (note that Sufism is itself a sect of Islam)? Why are Coptic Christian girls being raped and forced to convert to Islam? Why are Copts being driven out of their ancestral homes in Egypt where they have lived since the time of Christ? IF you believe that Muslims have become the guarantors of freedom of religion I have some lovely intact Buddhist statues in Afghanistan I’d like to sell you.
But Mead and to a lesser degree the NYT are correct: this is fundamental difference between Islamic and Western civilization as exemplified by the United States. Either religious laws trump freedom of expression or they don’t. Either the laws of God or the laws of Man are supreme. While there are many grey areas in the world, this particular issue is binary – at least to secularist westerners. Under Islam there is no such thing as the laws of Man only the rule of God so the issue is condensed even further.
Mead believes that the apparent consideration by the PC newspaper of record of such a thing as a Clash of Civilizations is a good thing, and I tend to agree. We need to stop deluding ourselves by accepting canards such as “Islam is a religion of peace” that are based more on our own ignorance of the faith and faulty assumptions than facts. We need to see Islam for what it is, a political force that shares some religious characteristics familiar to us yet is a unique among religions and political movements in the world today. Only then can we begin to craft policies that work to minimize conflict with the religion while at the same time protecting our own God-given freedoms.
US Identifies Murderers of Diplomats and Instigators of Embassy Attacks.
I’m often amazed at how ignorant journalists are of history. I get frustrated when one shows his or her ignorance for a complex issue, falling back on conventional wisdom instead of historical truth to provide the background for a story. Case in point is this New York Times piece. I’m not sure how old the writer is, but he should Google “1979” and “Iranian Revolution.”
In late 1978 and early 1979 the Shah had ceded power to Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar, a member of the liberal opposition. Bakhtiar hoped to share power with the Ayatollah Khomeini and allowed the Ayatollah to return to Iran from exile. Khomeini arrived in Teheran to a crowd of millions and promised to “kick their (liberal regime’s) teeth in.” He appointed his own government and drained support away from the liberal opposition movement. Iran then sought to export its Islamic revolution throughout the Middle East, and spread terrorism around the world.
“I would say people should not be too alarmed by the anti-American rhetoric,” said Stephen McInerney, executive director of the Project on Middle East Democracy, based in Washington. The end last year of the Mubarak rule in Egypt, he said, “is an important step in combating terrorism in the region and undermining its appeal.” “People can freely vent their frustrations and go to the polls to vote,” he added.
By this logic Bakhtiar should have succeeded in Iran, and the Palestinian Authority would still be running Gaza. The problem with this thinking is that it assumes the causes of terrorism are due to the lack of democracy and a say in a people’s own governance. This is looking at Islamic terrorism through the lens of leftist and nationalist terrorism as conducted by guerrilla movements such as the IRA, Red Army, and FARC. Islamic terrorism has nothing to do with people’s frustration of not being in control of their own destiny. If it did they wouldn’t replace secular dictators with religious dictators as the Iranians, Lebanese Shi’a, and Palestinians in Gaza have, and Iran wouldn’t be sponsoring Hezballah, Islamic Jihad and a dozen other Israeli and American-killing outfits.
Islam is not a nationalist movement, it is a religious one. While executive directors of projects and their New York Times’ interviewers might see the world as nation states whose citizens dream of controlling them, a Muslim sees the community of believers (umma) and non-believers. Earthly power derives from God, and only those He has appointed are able to lead. It’s a simple concept that is even baked into the meaning of the term “Islam.” It means “submission” to God’s will, and democracy where people lead themselves is as heretical to Islam as Scientology is to Roman Catholicism. New York Times reporters and their think-tank sources don’t get that because they haven’t studied Islam except through the narrow lens of their own political and philosophical assumptions.
They will be shocked when Egypt follows in the footsteps of Iran and travel to visit the Valley of the Kings and the Great Pyramids become a distant memory for American passport holders just as trips to Teheran and Qom are to older American Asia-hands. Already the calls have begun for the destruction of the Pyramids, just as the Taliban destroyed the Buddhist statues in Afghanistan and Egypt’s first Muslim rulers destroyed the Great Library in Alexandria.
Mark Steyn had a good piece about Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician that is living under threat of death by various peace loving Muslims. Steyn pointed out something that I’ve often noticed with anyone who dares to question Leftist orthodoxy, the usage of adjectives such as “far” and “extreme” to describe them by reporters. Steyn noted, “the determination to place him beyond the pale is unceasing: “The far-right anti-immigration party of Geert Wilders” (The Financial Times) . . . “Far-right leader Geert Wilders” (The Guardian) . . . “Extreme right anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders” (Agence France-Presse) is “at the fringes of mainstream politics” (Time) . . . Mr. Wilders is so far out on the far-right extreme fringe that his party is the third biggest in parliament. Indeed, the present Dutch government governs only through the support of Wilders’ Party for Freedom. So he’s “extreme” and “far-right” and out on the “fringe,” but the seven parties that got far fewer votes than him are “mainstream”? That right there is a lot of what’s wrong with European political discourse and its media coverage: Maybe he only seems so “extreme” and “far-right” because they’re the ones out on the fringe.”
I’m a fan of Geert Wilders, as I was of another noted Dutch politician, Pym Fortuyn. Like Wilders Fortuyn was tarred with the extremist label, probably the first and only openly gay man ever slandered by the Left as a far right anything. Fortuyn didn’t see himself that way, likening himself to center-left politicians of the day, and was an ardent admirer of American President John F. Kennedy. Like Kennedy Fortuyn paid the ultimate price for his views, gunned down in broad daylight by Volkert van der Graaf, a self-described environmental and animal rights activist who acted in defense of Muslims and “weak members of society.” Wilders has yet to pay this price, but has to move discreetly between safe houses to avoid it.
As Steyn notes, Europe’s multiculturalism that has allowed Islam to thrive without any push back has resulted in a society where gays are hunted without fear of persecution, women and children are raped, and Jewish children are legitimate targets living on borrowed time. Muslims are free to exercise their intolerant views on everyone as they see fit, and those who dare fight back are labeled as Islamophobes and far-right extremists by the very people under greatest threat. When the editor of DC’s gay newspaper the Washington Blade and his boyfriend get beaten up in Amsterdam by 7 Moroccans, and Muslim apologists explain away the attacks as kids unsure of their own sexuality, you know something has gone terribly wrong in Holland.
Islamophobia is an irrational dislike of Islam. There is nothing irrational about refusing to tolerate a religion that views women as less than property, all other religions and political institutions as invalid and heretic, and homosexuality as an abomination punishable by death. There is also nothing irrational about despising a religion whose adherents have called for your death. Yet this is exactly what has happened with Fortuyn and now Wilders.
Throughout world history Europe has been a place where ideas, ideologies and civilizations mix and occasionally clash. Like all complex problems, there is more going on in Europe than just the spread of Islam.
Europe had a long history of Jewish pogroms and persecution long before Adolf Hitler came to power and instituted the Final Solution. Deportations and massacres of Jews were common on the continent well before then, so in a sense Europe’s default state is anti-Semitism. The aftermath of World War 2 changed that briefly as local Europeans were paraded through the concentration camps to see what their hatred wrought, and the guilt caused by the Holocaust swung the elites behind the Jews and the nascent Jewish state of Israel. For decades after it’s founding Israel’s primary supporter was not the United States, it was France, and the ties went beyond the love of socialism that Jews share with Europeans, there was guilt as well. It wasn’t until de Gaulle himself switched sides and backed Israel’s Arab enemies starting in 1967, setting a policy that has continued since. The return to its innate anti-Semitism was complete when French ambassador Daniel Bernard stooped to scapegoating the Jews for all evil in the world, saying in 2001 “All the current troubles in the world are because of that shitty little country Israel.” The problem with guilt is that it’s not static. It gets old and begins to change and when it does it easily changes into hatred. One can only feel guilty for so long before the pain of guilt turns to jealousy towards those in whom the guilt is directed at. It’s a short step from that emotion to hatred, and it’s a step that Europeans all over the continent have taken.
James Oberg, a NASA scientist and engineer once quipped, “You must keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out.” The origins of multi-culturalism lies in cultural relativism, the belief that all cultures are equal. In order to achieve that equality multi-culturalists downplay the success and achievements of the dominant culture, criticizing its success as originating from the exploitation and domination of weaker cultures while exaggerating the latter’s achievements. Multi-culturalism became possible after the one culture took a dominant position in the world, and after World War 2 that culture was Western civilization based on Greco-Roman democratic ideals with Judeo-Christian morality supported by Anglo-American capitalism. Multi-culturalism attacked all three of these aspects of western culture in the post-war world. Having become entrenched in academia and to a lesser but substantial degree in non-elected governmental bureaucracies, multi-culturalists pushed for an end to the assimilation of immigrants into a country, viewing it as state enforced cultural genocide. As the western economies in Europe grew, they drew in millions of immigrants from around the Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Middle East. Because these immigrants were not forced let alone encouraged to assimilate, they found themselves at the fringes of their host societies, unable to speak the host nation’s language or participate in its civil life. Multi-culturalists quickly blamed the racism for this failure, unable to understand that contrary to their philosophy there are significant differences between western and Islamic culture, and that saying the two are alike shows an ignorance of both in the same way that Emerson took issue with the fallacy that all men were the same: “The wise man shows his wisdom in separation, in gradation, and his scale of creatures and of merits is as wide as nature. The foolish have no range in their scale, but suppose every man is as every other man.” Multi-culturalists now find themselves trapped by their ideology, defending the gender inequality and intolerance of Islam while unleashing its fury on any one who challenges it. They continually side with and condone the actions of wife beaters and gay bashers and murderers, the very people they are supposed to represent and in many cases are. In short their brains have fallen out.
These two changes in Europe, the return to its default anti-Semitism and the development of multi-culturalism that prevented assimilation of Muslim immigrants, would not have together ended the liberal freedoms that come with Western culture. The dollars spent by Western nations on cheap oil from the Middle East was recycled by the Saudis and other adherents of Wahhabi Islam around the Persian Gulf and used to fund mosques throughout Europe and North America. These mosques spread Wahhabi Islam, one of the strictest and least tolerant forms of Islam, across the West and throughout the Islamic world, replacing moderate and liberal forms that had arisen in the centuries after Mohammad’s conquering of the Arabian peninsula and nearby Levant. This “replacement” was often violent in places (e.g. in Pakistan, Thailand, Egypt) where internecine strife broke out between Wahhabi Sunni’s and followers of other Sunni sects or Shi’a, but happened quietly in the West, as other forms of Islam simply couldn’t compete with Saudi money to gain converts.
It is this toxic combination that Geert Wilders and his supporters recognize as a threat to their freedom, and by choosing to make a stand against it Wilders and those like him have found themselves condemned by the Left and hunted by Islamists. Their voices are few, but sound an alarm that warns the return to Europe of another of its default states: war.
If you don’t read Walter Russell Mead, then by all means do so immediately because you are missing some of the best writing and analysis around. There are very few pundits I will sit through bad commercials to see, and even fewer writers that I will drop everything to read. Brit Hume and Charles Krauthammer are two pundits that stop me in my tracks at dinner time, and PJ O’Rourke and Walter Russell Mead are two writers that instantly overcome my ADD and allow me to focus on their essays. Unlike the others, Mead is actually a registered Democrat and centerist, so if you are expecting Conservative fire and brimstone, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Still, or perhaps because of his level-headeness his writing is persuasive and compelling. In short he’s just fun to read.
Two recent pieces worth reading: Top Saudi Cleric Issues Fatwa: Destroy Churches and Palestinian PM: Don’t Use Us to Justify Your Anti-Semitism. In the former, Mead imagines a dialog between a Christian and an Islamist that captures the zero sum nature of Islamism. The latter uses a dissenting voice on the Palestinian side to show that some Palestinians aren’t anti-Semites while many Europeans and Americans are.
I’m becoming increasingly amazed at how deluded Obama’s supporters are. They call those of us who oppose him sheep of the Koch brothers or racist troglodytes waging a war on women, and think the “Rethuglicans” are a corrupt party of big business. They pride themselves on how tolerant and open-minded they are even as they wage an ideological war to silence anyone who questions what Obama & crew have done. Honestly I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a blatant display of self-delusion exhibited by a group since the Jonestown Massacre of 1978. These people aren’t just drinking the kool-aid, they are bottling it, advertising it and selling it as champagne.
Obama has always acted in the best interests of the groups he represents. Everything he has done has been to feed one leftist interest group or another. His close friends and golf buddies hail from the largest companies in the country including banks such as Chase and Goldman Sachs. I’ve even stopped thinking of him as a socialist since that would require him to adhere to something bigger than himself and I don’t think he believes anything is. His ego knows no bounds. He’s more in line with 3rd world dictators who take power and immediately set about making their friends and family rich. The only differences between him and Hugo Chavez is that the source of Chavez’s wealth is oil and for Obama it’s taxpayer money, and at least Chavez really believes in socialism whereas Obama only believes in himself.
Does a liberal question his or her beliefs? There isn’t a day that I don’t wonder if I’m wrong, that I’ve somehow gotten caught up in some kind of right-wing hysteria, so I try to be objective. I work hard to recognize my biases and question my assumptions. I try to listen to alternative opinions and not dismiss them without due consideration, thinking critically about facts and opinions regardless of source. I’m just as skeptical about claims by the Right as I am over claims by the Left. It’s the way I was educated, first by a no-nonsense mother and later by the Jesuits. The result of this is that over the years I have changed my opinions on issues. The only consistency I’ve found is I maintain a strong populist streak thanks to my upbringing by extremely poor parents. That’s not an exaggeration; my parents often went without food to feed my siblings until the mid 1950’s, saying they weren’t hungry while the kids ate dinner.
I look at liberals and I’m amazed at how closed minded they are. Instead of thinking of them as “progressive” I’ve begun considering them as “regressive” because that’s how they are increasingly appearing to me.
Take the “war on women” meme that has exploded in the blogosphere. No one is banning birth control. No one is demanding that women be paid less for doing the same job as a man or expecting her to stop working, return home and raise children. It’s all a straw man. The Left knows it can’t win the argument that the Catholic church shouldn’t fund contraceptives. So they start this attack, and the idiot Rick Santorum just makes it all that much easier for them by dancing to their tune.
Some of my liberal friends will shake their heads and say, “Scott, you’ve got this all wrong. There is a war on women and you’re just as blind as you claim we are.” And I’ll ask, where’s the proof of that? They’ll claim Santorum wants to ban contraception. Two points to this. First, where did he say that? Second, you realize you’re ignoring the GOP front runner, a man who has more than double the amount of delegates than Santorum? Regarding the second point, a recent liberal commenter from abroad on this blog thought Rick Santorum was “batsh*T insane” yet made no mention of Romney. Either the commenter wasn’t aware that Romney was the front-runner or didn’t understand the primary process (for this I hold the RNC partly to blame.) Evidently while Santorum is getting the press, Romney is getting the actual delegates. Given my dislike of Santorum that’s just fine by me.
As to the first point, liberals such as Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews have claimed Santorum wants to ban birth control. Okay, so show me where Santorum himself says that. What Santorum actually has said is that the states should decide contraception laws for themselves. I watched the CNN debate where he said that and he was booed by the Republican audience and attacked by the other GOP candidates. His point was a constitutional one, that there is no right to birth control in the constitution and federal laws on the subject are an example of federal overreach. The constitution is clear that powers not outlined in the document fall to the people and the states. It’s a constitutional argument but a narrow one and nowhere near a “ban” that the Left claims.
They could then bring up Sandra Fluke’s testimony in front of Congress and how Georgetown, a Catholic Jesuit-run institution, must offer to offset the cost of contraception for her and other women. A war on women? Seriously, this is the best you’ve got? Fluke’s perjured testimony ignores three fundamental tenets of Roman Catholicism that has been at its core for hundreds of years if not longer. First, only those married should have sex because the purpose of sex is procreation. Second, that procreation is a process controlled by God Himself and should not be interfered with by humans. Third, that life begins at conception and current birth control techniques such as the morning after pill and some IUDs destroy early stage embryos. These three tenets are not negotiable in the eyes of the Church.
Catholics themselves struggle with these tenets and most probably break them, but just because they have sex before marriage or use the Pill doesn’t mean the institution’s foundations need to be rebuilt. No, it means Catholics must strive to live up to their Church’s teachings. If they can’t do this then they must leave it. I understand this because as a man born and raised Roman Catholic and trained by the Jesuits I decided that I could no longer accept the Church as it is, so I left it. It wasn’t an easy decision for me and it’s one that I continue to question at times but I knew that I personally could not accept the Church’s teachings anymore so instead of trying to destroy the Church or undermine it in any way possible, I simply left it in my heart as well as my head. I am not a Catholic, and I have very good reasons for my leaving the Church of Rome. But they are my reasons and even though I am no longer a Catholic I still have a deep respect for Roman Catholicism and those who practice it. They are good people and don’t deserve the hatred that has been flowing their way.
What hatred? This hatred.
Liberals have gone beyond the pale and I have to ask myself, is this what you want? Is this the hope and change you voted for in 2008? Today the “progressive” movement advocates religious intolerance by attacking Catholics and Christians. Progressives are behind efforts to silence opposing voices and points of view through boycotts, legal threats, slurs and even violence. It supports censorship through hate speech laws and anti-pornography crusades. It infantilizes women by turning them into victims that are incapable of defending themselves and who are so weak they swoon like some Victorian Lady of the House over a single word, forcing the State to step forward like some chivalrous knight to defend their honor. And for what? A poorly written health care bill that’s possibly unconstitutional and does nothing to curb health care costs or access?
There is a war on women just not the one progressives think. All over the Middle East and Europe the freedom of women is being curtailed or destroyed completely by Islam, a religion that Progressives have allied themselves with. While they have gone, to quote my liberal commenter “batsh*t crazy” over the Catholic church’s stance on contraception, they have completely ignored the increase of assaults on women in Europe by Muslim immigrants, the rise of honor killings in the West, and the complete rollback of basic human rights throughout the Islamic world. What access to contraception do women have in Pakistan, a place where women are discouraged from walking without a male “minder,” or to pursue a career in post “Arab Spring” Egypt? When people like me raise these issues we are immediately attacked as being “islamophobes” because liberals are blinded in their politically correct belief that all cultures and people are the same, ignoring the comments of a true Progressive nearly two centuries ago, Ralph Waldo Emerson who said ““The wise man shows his wisdom in separation, in gradation, and his scale of creatures and of merits is as wide as nature. The foolish have no range in their scale, but suppose every man is as every other man.”
The progressive movement has become exactly what it fought against. Intolerant of dissenting opinions. Bigoted. Uncompromising. Anti-intellectual. Pro-censorship. Anti-freedom. In fact it’s the same movement I fought against a generation ago when I protested against the Religious Right. Perhaps I haven’t changed as much as I thought. I’m still fighting against dehumanizing forces, only the names of these forces have changed.
Throwing Snowballs at the Arab Spring
In 2002 the Turkish people elected an Islamist party to power, Justice and Development Party. In 2006 Palestinians held elections and Hamas won. In 2008 Pakistani Islamists drove Pervez Musharraf out of power. The Arab Spring of 2011 has seen Tunisia conduct its first free and fair election in decades, and the winner is the Islamist party. Just this month Islamists have stormed a university for enacting a veil ban on campus and planned an attack on a TV station after attacking a theater in July for screening a film about secularism. The Muslim Brotherhood is expected to win Egypt’s November 2011’s elections, the first since deposing Hosni Mubarak. And just over the weekend of October 22, 2011, Iraq kicked out all US troops from the country, Afghan president Hamid Karzai promised Pakistan that Afghanistan would side with Pakistan in any armed conflict between that nation and the United States, and Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Council and de fact president of the new Libya, declared Sharia is the basis of law in Libya and immediately lifted the ban on polygamy to prove it.
Neocons supporting the liberation of Iraq believed that people would always choose freedom when given the choice between freedom and dictatorship. All year people on both sides of the political divide have spoken hopefully about the “Arab Spring” uprisings in the Middle East, expecting the Egyptians and Libyans to embrace liberty after dropping their shackles of tyranny. This belief is rooted in the Enlightenment which assumed Man was rational, and that when presented with the choice would always choose freedom over tyranny. The Founding Fathers of the American republic wrote at the beginning of the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Are these inalienable rights always self-evident? How do we explain the statement “I am the enemy of democracy,” by Egyptian Salafist leader and tailor Hesham al Ashry? Al Ashry knows how to make a man look his best yet is blind to the value of liberty?
We live with the conceit that everyone in the world is like us, they just have different colored skin, wear different dress, pray differently, and speak different languages. It is a fanciful notion based on our superficial knowledge of the world. Some people may be like us, if by “us” you mean Americans who value liberty. Canadians are like us, as are Australians, Brits, Germans, and anyone who traces their intellectual foundation to the Enlightenment philosophers, particularly the ideas of Immanuel Kant and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
Everyone else, however is different. Their values aren’t the same as ours, and some even prefer it that way. Think everybody loves their children like you do? Ask a Palestinian in Gaza how they feel about their son or daughter strapping on a suicide bomb vest. Osama Bin Laden expressed a common belief among Islamists that they would eventually defeat the West because the West embraced life while they chose death. It wasn’t for lack of education that he and elites of the Jihadist groups believe this. Many have been educated in the West and understand our values; they just don’t accept them. It doesn’t matter whether liberty and freedom are self-evident to men who believe that God’s will requires submission. In fact in their view these values are heresy since they were accepted by the Koran nor by the Ideal Man, Mohammed.
After being defeated in World War 2 the Japanese people had no tradition that included Enlightenment ideals like freedom and liberty, but instead of recognizing Japanese culture as superior to Western culture in some ways equal in all the rest, the leaders of the occupation forced freedom and liberty onto the population. The Japanese took the opportunity and immediately ran with it, forming trade unions and political parties that were immediately infiltrated by Communist groups supported by the KGB. By 1948 trade unionists were striking and rioting against the occupation authorities as Europeans were doing in central Europe. The Truman administration could have said “We have to listen to the will of the Japanese people,” and allowed the protests to undermine the occupation. Instead the Americans colluded with the Japanese government to ban the trade unions, jail the unionists and enact parliamentary rules that prevented the communist party from winning seats in the Diet. Within three years the Japanese people had gone from tyranny, to liberty, and were on the verge of returning to tyranny albeit of a new type, forcing authorities to use undemocratic means to protect the nascent democracy. The Japanese were given liberty, just within limits. Eventually even the communists were allowed back into the Diet but only after the Liberal Democratic Party had established itself as most powerful party in the country.
So if liberty wasn’t self-evident to the Japanese after the War, why do we expect it to be to the Palestinians in Gaza, the Iraqis in Iraq or the Libyans in Libya? We can’t expect people to be liberated by our actions or through our support and expect them to suddenly begin to respect the rights of women when their culture lacks such a tradition. Neocons seem to think that such a right is self-evident, while liberals blinded by political correctness might not even believe that any culture could lack such a basic, fundamental human right. They will claim Islamic law does grant rights to women, yet women are not equal with men according to the Koran nor under Sharia law. And religious freedom or equal rights for minorities? Ask an Egyptian Copt.
The US State Department has followed a program of cultural non-interference and has gone from promoting universal human values to exposing others to “American values” and hoping that the values will speak for themselves and that other will adopt them on their own merit. This cultural equivalence has spread to the US military which has been tasked with nation-building but without the replacement of core values that undermine its mission. How successful has the anti-corruption effort been in Afghanistan, where corruption is as endemic to Pashtun culture as the chain-of-command is in US military culture? How can you expect to develop a professional military, police or civil service when everyone believes that power gives one a license to steal? The only way to stop corruption is to teach that it is wrong, but that requires a moral judgement that could be interpreted as cultural imperialism, so nothing is done. We just teach and hope that the locals will see the benefits of clean government – that these benefits are self-evident.
It’s a hell of a way to run foreign policy, and it wouldn’t make sense to our fathers and grandfathers who fought in Japan or Germany. We made it clear with our victory over those nations that their values were abhorrent, and we had the confidence in our own values to occupy these countries and force our values upon them. Today we show none of that confidence; instead we ring our hands and hope for the best but the best that happens is that the governments are no longer threats to us or their neighbors even as their people are worse off than before.
The American Left, drowning in a morass of moral equivalence, would bristle at these suggestions, but there are some absolutes in its philosophies; it just hasn’t figured out how to respond to them. Back to the Japanese. Whaling is has been embedded in its culture for at least a thousand years. Immediately after the War, the occupation authorities struggled with feeding the Japanese people and specifically, with providing them with enough protein. So the authorities turned to whaling, and whale meat was a common dish served to school children until the early 1960s. Since then whale meat consumption has been in decline, although the Japanese government has been continually pushed by the domestic whaling industry to expand the practice. The cultural tradition of Whaling in Japan hasn’t stopped the Left from forcing its own value that whaling is bad on the Japanese. Is the protection of whales a universal value? If not then what is the Sea Shepherd doing in the ocean around Antarctica? Are the Left cultural imperialists? And if so, is it such a bad thing if imperialism means spreading freedom, women’s rights, gay rights, religious tolerance and respect for minorities around the planet?
The West needs to shake off the moral relativism that leads to the tolerance of human rights abuses around the planet. Freedom, liberty, equality – all these values of the Enlightenment shouldn’t be limited to those of us in the West; they are universals that apply to everyone. If we are willing to spend our money and risk our lives to help others, we should be just as willing to impose our values on them. Yes, impose; they shouldn’t have a choice when it comes to female circumcision, the separation of religion from politics, killing homosexuals, allowing slavery or persecuting Christians and Jews no matter what holy book says it’s okay.
We in the West must decide whether these values are indeed universal. If we decide that they are, then we must act when people in other societies disrespect them. Either women are equal, or they are not. Either religious freedom applies in Riyadh Saudi Arabia as it does in Cairo, Illinois, or it’s not a universal and the Enlightenment philosophers were wrong.
Simply stated the choice is between personal liberty versus submission to God. This choice reverberates throughout our society and the West’s relations with Islam, presenting it with an unsolvable dilemma laying at the core of its relations with Islam, whether the Islamic nations in the Middle East, Africa and Asia or the integration of Muslims within Western society.