Sunday, November 25, 2007
The Litmus Test for the Intelligent Infidel
This litmus test is designed to clearly and simply determine whether a given Infidel (non-Muslim) is at the acme of the LCPOI (the Learning Curve for the Problem of Islam), and therefore grasps the essential core of the Problem of Islam. Remember: this is a test on the Problem of Islam, not on Islam itself per se nor on its bewilderingly fecund complexity in literature, history, culture and the news.
The litmus test would form the very first step in the graduated phalanx of the intelligent Infidel’s levels of intelligence with respect to the LCPOI.
The litmus test requires only Yes/No answers. The actual questions will be presented in a simple form. Each one will be followed by a more fleshed-out, nuanced form for explanatory purposes. Then we provide discussions that illuminate, among other things, how avoidance of a Yes or No answer, or how subsequent comments by the answerer meant to qualify his answer, serve to vitiate even correct answers.
The Litmus Test:
1. Are there too many Muslims endangering the non-Muslim world?
Expanded Question: Are there too many Muslims, disparately and unidentifiably spread out over the globe, endangering the non-Muslim world through physically violent attempts at spreading an Islam that is inimical to modern Western values?
Discussion: The nodal point of the question is the qualifier “too many”: this avoids the canard that we are targeting “all Muslims” as well as the related, unfounded dogma of the “tiny minority of extremists”. This also indirectly highlights the problem of inadequate statistics, as well as the irrelevance of that problem given certain other conditions—including the randomness of terrorist attacks, the unpredictability of the attacks, the widely disparate and unknowable target areas of the attacks, the fanatically indiscriminate hatred and suicidal zeal of the attackers, the sociocultural fungibility of the attackers with their Islamic matrices, our difficulties in sufficiently vetting the so-called “moderate” Muslims, and the probable horrific nature of the attacks. If the answerer balks at the nodal point—our qualifier “too many Muslims”—then the answerer has betrayed his unfitness, even if he answered “Yes”, and certainly if he refuses to answer, let alone answers “No”.
2. Can any given Muslim who seems moderate and harmless be trusted?
Expanded Question: Is the distinction between “moderate Muslim” and “dangerous Muslim” a distinction that has any pragmatic value, or should we, in our various measures of self-defense, operate on the basis of no meaningful distinction, with exceptions expected to be rare, and subject to rigorous and special criteria?
Discussion: This of course highlights the problem of statistics alluded to in Question #1, and illuminates the context in which statistics become irrelevant: whenever and wherever we cannot tell the difference between the “moderate Muslim” and the “dangerous Muslim”. And since we can neither predict the time or place of this inability of ours, the problem of Islam is de facto a problem of “all Muslims” even if we concede that, de jure, it is a problem even of only a relatively small minority. Because of the numbers of total Muslims at 1.2 billion, a small minority would turn out to be millions; e.g., the pipe dream of Daniel Pipes, which would fix the problem at approximately 15% or 180 million Muslims—the precise problem being, again, that we cannot sufficiently identify this 15% physically, sociologically nor ideologically; so its value is limited to a rhetorical assurance, with little practical application, that we are not slip-sliding into a Hitlerian racism and genocide, let alone toward an apocalyptic war against a totality of 1.2 billion enemies. At best, this rhetorical function of the “small minority” helps to assure those who would charge us with “Islamophobia”, etc., that we are not, in fact, on the Hitlerian and/or apocalyptic “slippery slope”; but at worst, it can serve to perpetuate potentially dangerous policies that would hamper a generalized vigilance and suspicion whenever these are essential to our safety and security.
3. Is Islam itself a major source of Islamic terrorism?
Expanded Question: Can it be said that, after all supposedly non-Islamic factors contributing to Islamic terrorism are accounted for and bracketed out (even if such a delicate surgical operation could be successfully performed), there remains a source for it in Islam itself—defined as the combination of the foundational texts (the Koran and Sunna for Sunni Islam, the Koran and Shia traditions in Shia Islam), the juridical literature of this profoundly legalistic religion throughout the centuries, and the historical behavior of Muslims?
Discussion: Though we reminded the reader at the top that “this is a test on the Problem of Islam, not on Islam itself per se”, this does not mean that questions about the etiology of terrorism in Islam itself are off limits; it only means that this test is not meant to measure a knowledge of the staggering jungle of minutiae about Islam. Not only is this question perfectly acceptable; the very asking of it highlights one of the main problems the West faces today, internally: its own Politically Correct Multi-Culturalism and the foremost tenet of its paradigm, forever forbidding this question from being asked in the first place, through its apodictic axiom that Islam itself per se cannot possibly be the source of any significant injustice or menace.
4. Is Islam itself religiously extremist?
Expanded Question: Is Islam itself by nature “fundamentalist”, “extremist” and “radicalized” ; or are these phenomena more or less aberrations—“hijackings”—of the broader mainstream and essence as a whole of Islam, aberrations to which all religions are liable?
Discussion: This question measures the test-taker's ability to resist the temptation or reflex—all too prevalent today due to the Politically Correct Multi-Culturalist paradigm—to superimpose upon Islam and its followers what we Westerners experience and know about our religious culture in its various permutations in history and into the continually, dynamically evolving Western present. Chief among these, as I have argued in another post here, is the idea that “fundamentalism” and “radicalism” in religion tends to be a fringe factor—and it is, indeed, in the West: that, in fact, is part of the ongoing development of religion in the West, the working out of the idea that a return to roots (“radicalism”) and to the foundations (“fundamentalism”) is, in fact, a reactionary ossifaction, a resistance to inevitable change, and inevitable change is part of the nature of religion because religion is a part of imperfect life which continually changes and grows. Now, of course, this work-in-progress idea in the West of its own religiousity, in all its permutations, does not proceed in a blithely calm and harmonious way; rather, this process has been attended by, and continues to entail, much tension and friction and disagreement. But that too, of course, is part of the healthy life of any organism, physiological or cultural. At any rate, the test-taker is being tested for his ability to step outside the paradigm of his own civilization and resist the reflexive temptation to superimpose what we take as a given about Religion, upon Islam—as though all Religions must have the same nature and historical behavior. If the test-taker has done his homework, he will have come to the disquieting and sober conclusion that Islam is itself essentially fundamentalist and, therefore also—since the fundaments of Islam (the Koran and Sunna) are extreme—extremist; and that in fact it is the reformist Muslim, whose expressions and comportment seem comfortable with modernity, who represents the aberration in Islam.