Monday, September 20, 2010
Yet another asymptotic analyst: John Schindler
For a definition of asymptotic, I am still working on refining and crystallizing it, but for now this will have to do:
Asymptotic: the psychological and intellectual retention of PC MC in the heart and mind of the anti-Islam analyst, resulting in (among other things) the inability to condemn Islam in totality, along with the closely related inability to condemn all Muslims who enable or support Islam.
A Jihad Watch reader recommended a book titled Unholy Terror: Bosnia, al-Qa'ida, and the Rise of Global Jihad, by John R. Schindler.
I took a look at the Introduction to that book (preview available at Google Books). Already in the first paragraph, one notes the asymptotic identification of "radical Islam" as the problem:
[The] purpose [of this book] is to tell an untold story... as America faces a protracted struggle against radical Islam.
Immediately in the next sentence, Schindler defines the global jihad as:
...the extended campaign to spread a virulent strain of Islam worldwide by propaganda, by force, by terror.
So the problem is "a virulent strain" of Islam -- not Islam itself! Noted.
No underreported aspect of that Balkan war would prove more consequential than the role of radical Islam in Bosnia's disaster.
And he describes the Balkan Muslim ruling party as:
...Islamists of a radical bent...
A little later, we see that Schindler cannot resist that PC MC spasm that seems to remain in many asymptotic analysts -- the spasm that assuages our anxiety that our spotlight on the ugly side of Islam may be tarring "all Muslims" with a broad brush:
...it is undeniably true that the majority of Bosnia's Muslims consider the mujahidin unwanted foreigners and dangerous lunatics too...
I have not read the entire book yet, but I doubt Schindler will be able to provide evidence of this grandiose and sweeping claim -- other than typically anecdotal evidence of nice and friendly Bosnian Muslim shopkeepers and farmers and bakers and candlestick-makers he became acquainted with during his years in Bosnia -- ordinary Muslims who may have expressed their desire for "peace" and their distress at what "radical Islam" has wrought in their land but who, at best, were unaware of the deep connection between the Islam they practice and the sociopolitical disease that was ruining their lives and destroying their society. Such lack of awareness can only be explained, at best, as a manifestation of a kind of Stockholm Syndrome so profound and so schizophrenic, it does not bode well for a demos who would be the social basis for a healthy regeneration of any society let alone Bosnia. Indeed, it is precisely one of the major factors that has enabled the "radical Islamist" destruction and continued poisoning of the Balkans -- not to mention the disease of every society of Muslims anywhere in the world.
But Schindler, in his sentimentalist regard for the ordinary Muslim and his pure Islam, remains apparently willfully blind to this pessimistic reality.
He goes on to ask of his PC MC-blinkered colleagues in academe and journalism:
How had they missed the enormous role played by radical Islam and its awful terrorist fringe?
His rhetorical question contains another rhetorical question he himself has apparently missed: How could a "radical Islamism" that is "fringe" have such an "enormous role" in a region where "the majority of Muslims" consider that fringe to be "unwanted foreigners and dangerous lunatics too?" Schindler must adequately answer and solve this paradox before he proceeds in his analysis -- or else he should discard this last sentimentalist hangover from his naive days in college (and further back, as we shall see, his naive days of boyhood).
And when Schindler describes --
...the presence of thousands of holy warriors among the Bosnian Muslims, imported at Sarajevo's request from across the Islamic world to wage jihad in Europe...
-- he doesn't think, apparently, to wonder why the "majority" of the "moderate" Bosnian Muslims would allow this -- much less why they apparently countenanced it and even enabled it in myriad ways.
In the same vein, when Schindler notes that --
To mujahidin across the Muslim world, Bosnia beckoned: they came, they saw, they killed, they networked...
-- does he think to wonder how so many thousands of Muslims from so many different regions around the world would be so fanatically supportive of "radical Islam"? Does not the fact of this international groundswell, so apparently easy to muster -- not only for the Jihad in Bosnia, but also for numerous other Jihads around the world, in Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Philippines, East Africa, Algeria, Sudan, etc. -- point to a deep affinity, a deep connection, between normative Islam, and "radical Islamism"? This is the kind of probing question Schindler seems psychologically incapable of -- perhaps because it would reveal the disease beneath the skin of those nice friendly Muslims he befriended in his boyhood and kept ever after in his heart.
About that, Schindler provides some personal details that may illuminate his asymptotic tendency:
Neither am I a congenital Islamophobe. I grew up in a typical postmodern American suburb, beloved of progressives, where all religions were held to be equally (in)valid. My liberal Protestant parents were so theologically open-minded as to be anything but horrified when, at the age of ten, I made best friends of our Muslim neighbors and professed a desire to pray with them; for a time I had my own prayer rug. Islam didn't stick with me, but I was left with a deep respect for aspects of the religion -- unlike the Episcopalians I knew, Muslims actually meant what they said, and lived it -- and [I] therefore found the criminal misuse of Islam in Bosnia that I witnessed as an adult especially tragic. I have spent long hours with Bosnian Muslims recounting the human toll of the recent past, I have sojourned with them at cemeteries overfilled with needless dead, and with them I share an ardent desire for Bosnia to leave behind the criminality, mendacity, stupidity, and fanaticism of the last decade-and-a-half.
Back to the particulars of Bosnia, Schindler makes no bones of the fact that he believes in the "moderate" bona fides of certain Bosnian Muslims -- among them Adil Zulfikarpasic, whom at the beginning of Chapter One of his book he calls a "devout Muslim" but "nevertheless a firm believer in secular politics and the need for Bosnia's Muslims and Christians to coexist peacefully." Notice the term: "coexist peacefully". Classical dhimmitude also claimed to provide "peaceful coexistence" between Muslims and Christians (or Jews). But it did not, and could not, provide indefinite equality under the law -- a crucial distinction apparently lost on Schindler's starry eyes. I bet he never thought to ask Zulfikarpasic the tougher question (God forbid a journalist ask a tough question of a moderate Muslim!) of what "peaceful coexistence" means, precisely.
Schindler goes on to recount how Zulfikarpasic had joined the Communist Tito briefly to fight the fascists near the end of WW2, then fled Yugoslavia for Switzerland because he became disenchanted with Communism, then returned to Bosnia during the years when Communism was collapsing, and participated in the beginnings of an independent Bosnia. When Zulfikarpasic returned to Bosnia upon the collapse of Communism, in 1989, to join the "radical Islamic" leader Izetbegovic as they participated in what Schindler calls "the largest gathering of Muslims in Bosnia" (300,000 to possibly a half million), Schindler reports that Zulfikarpasic was deeply disturbed to see among that vast crowd signs and symbols of "radical Islam" (including shouts of "long live Saddam Hussein!").
But it is enlightening (apparently unintentionally enlightening for the rather benighted Schindler) when Schindler reports on what Zulfikarpasic said at that juncture to Alija Izetbegovic who as a "radical Muslim" was apparently responsible for this show of mass "Islamism":
"By God, Alija, why are you doing this? Don't you know that in a half-hour these pictures will be shown around the world?"
Of course, as Schindler and many of us know, the "radical Islamist" origins and nature of the Bosnian war that unfolded soon thereafter would remain largely unknown to the myopic West throughout the 90s and right up to today -- so Zulfikarpasic had nothing to worry about. More importantly is that what he was worrying about. Apparently, it was not the "radical Islamism" on display before him in that crowd of nearly a half million Muslims that worried Zulfikarpasic: What seemed to preoccupy him with anxiety at that crucial juncture was only a matter of image: it was bad PR for Bosnian Muslims.
Schindler apparently also never thought to ask himself, or Zulfikarpasic, why Zulfikarpasic ever supported and partnered with Izetbegovic in the first place, if Zulfikarpasic was such a "moderate" and Izetbegovic was such an obvious "radical". The answer might be seen in the above quote: If Zulfikarpasic's objections to Izetbegovic were largely a matter of pragmatic PR, then the "radical Islamism" of Izetbegovic only superficially differed from the "devout" yet "secular" Islam of Zulfikarpasic.
Moreover, Schindler unintentionally uncovers the depth and breadth of the "radical" influence over Bosnian Muslims in general when he reports that:
Adil Zulfikarpasic hastily began a campaign trying to warn Bosnians that the party's program and leadership were charting a road to ruin [by pursuing a "radical Islamist" agenda]. No one listened.
Perhaps they didn’t listen because they knew they could get away with it.