Wednesday, December 31, 2008
“Frontpage Watch”: Exhibit Three: Kathy Shaidle
An article by Kathy Shaidle yesterday on Frontpage starts out well, in its first three paragraphs providing little indication of the PC MC “undertow” that weighs down her asymptotic analysis as the article unfolds: in those initial paragraphs, she describes a revival of Islam (which she calls “Islamic extremism” which at least does not employ the annoying, Pipesian “-ist” suffix, “Islamist”) throughout the central Asiatic “Stans” of the former Soviet Empire.
Paragraph four lurches downward into PC MC analysis when, without a shred of critical care, Shaidle draws upon the supposed expertise of a “Russia expert”, David Satter, who puts all this “Islamic extremism” into the proper—that is PC MC—perspective. According to Satter as quoted by Shaidle, this revival (which Shaidle calls “Islamic radicalism”) “is often fueled less by religious fervor than by the corruption of the local pro-Russian authorities and the brutality of the police...”
The message telegraphed here is that Islam per se is not the cause of this “extremism” and “radicalism” spreading in a revival across central Asia, but rather political factors, with the strong implication that extraneous, non-Muslim evils are the root cause, and the Muslims undergoing revival are only responding to those political evils.
As Shaidle apparently paraphrases Satter: “The Russians like to depict their battle with Islamic groups as part of the war with international Islamic extremism. At the same time, they foster this extremism with their own lawless behavior.”
So there is no real problem with Islamic extemism; and if there is, it’s caused by the evils actions of the non-Muslim Russians. Gotcha.
Then Shaidle goes on, adding to Satter’s “expert” analysis by reporting on the rise of “anti-immigration and anti-Muslim sentiment among ordinary Russians”. It is difficult to tell why Shaidle is reporting this. The apparent link comes soon thereafter, when she cites another “expert” who contextualizes all these Muslim problems in the region as due to a recent rise in “wahhabism”. Thus, what is being telegraphed here is that the concern of these “ordinary Russians” is not as sufficiently nuanced and sophisticated as is the knowledge of Shaidle’s “experts”: for, if these “ordinary Russians” only knew that it is not Muslims per se that are the problem, but only “wahhabists” who are trying to “hijack” Islam, then those “ordinary Russians” wouldn’t be so “xenophobic”.
Furthermore, this uncritical recourse to the “wahhabist” explanation is part of the low end of asymptotic analysis, fraught with the PC MC undertow, since it locates all or most of the problem of Islam in a historically recent movement that is attempting to “hijack” an otherwise geopolitically peaceable Islam. The “expert” that Shaidle cites is Russian “islamologist” Roman Silantyev who, according to his quoted remarks in the link Shaidle cites, implies that these “wahhabist” Muslims causing trouble in the region are not, as many (apparently non-Muslim Russian) people think, indicative of the general Muslim population. And on what does he base this sweeping generalization? We cannot tell from the link. Perhaps this “expert” needs to brush up on his “islamology”.
Shaidle exacerbates this citation with another from one of the schizophrenic Muslims who belong to that organization of ineffectual unicorns, Muslims Against Sharia, whose quoted statement heavily implies that Islam got along fine before this recent “wahhabization”. This second expert fails to mention the significant fact that Muslims were on relatively better behavior when they had to live under the brutal and tyrannical iron fist of the Soviet state. (This, incidentally, undercuts the thesis of the aforementioned “experts” Satter and Silantyev—that this recent “extremist” revival is due to the oppressive “lawless behavior” of Russian authorities: for, if that were the case, we should have seen many more attempts at “extremist” revival among central Asiatic Muslims (and their supporters from elsewhere in the international Umma) during the many decades that the Soviets were treating Muslims and disrespecting Islam far worse than the Russians are now. In fact, the Islamic revival now is far more likely due to the fact that the Soviet iron fist has been taken away—indicative of the principle we should learn about Muslims: they are better behaved when they think they are weak and/or when they are aggressively suppressed; and they get worse when they are given more latitude and when they thus perceive the Infidel to be relatively weaker.)
The PC MC implication here is that when we see waxing and waning of Islamic revival from generation to generation, we must conclude that each cycle of waxing is only due to factors extraneous to Islam (usually the ineptness, corruption, and/or evil of various forms of Western “intrusion” into the peaceable ecosystems of those precious animals, the Noble Savage Muslims), while the cycles of waning are axiomatically assumed to be normative for the true essence of Islam. And it is this PC MC implication that exerts its drag on Kathy Shaidle, pulling her down from her already vulnerable low end of the asymptotic depth where she shouldn’t be swimming the first place.
I could go on with the flaws of Shaidle’s article—such as her citation of another “expert” who strongly implies that the recent revival of Islam in the region has much to do with the Russian Revolution and Bolshevism, and that all or most of the disorderly tactics and behaviors of Muslims in the region were learned by them from the Russian Bolsheviks; a theory that mimics the similar thesis that “Islamofascists” indicative of the Islamic revival in the Middle East and Europe learned all or most of their bad behaviors (including their anti-Semitism) from the Fascists and the Nazis—but we have seen enough. It seems safe to assume that her initial avoidance of the “-ist” suffix is not indicative of sufficient knowledge of the danger of Islam itself; and that, therefore, the “-ism” adjuncts (i.e., Shaidle’s “extremism” and “radicalism”) to the otherwise appropriate “-ic” suffix (viz., in “Islamic”) should be strong indicators of the sharks of PC MC in the water.
The only question now is: Why is Frontpage publishing this tripe? It is precisely the wrong kind of analysis we need (and it does not bode well that Robert Spencer hails Shaidle as “blazingly magnificent”). As I indicated in my previous recent essays on this, I have been seeing more and more of this tripe on Frontpage in the last year. It is a disturbing trend, and perhaps it was there all along and I was just being less observant. If it does reflect a change, it is a change in the wrong direction.