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.