Wednesday, December 15, 2010
A little thorn in the rose
Today, by chance I discovered an excellent writer and observer of the scene of the problem of Islam, one Angela Thorne, from Australia, and a contributor to the Australian Islamist Monitor (yet another acronym homonymous with what should become the overarching one, the Anti-Islam Movement).
I spent a good two hours swimming along reading two very long articles by her : one an acerbically devilish review of Paul Berman's The Flight of the Intellectuals, and the other a fascinating in-depth report of her experience participating in a "workshop" for Australian educators orchestrated by an obviously sly taqiyya artist, a Muslim named Eeqbal Hassim (though apparently it doesn't require all that much cleverness these days to hoodwink eager-to-please Westerners).
My impression on reading these essays was that Ms. Thorne seems to have a sure handle on the problem of Islam, and her autodidactic pedagogy seems to have advanced impeccably on the learning curve.
However -- alas, there's that fated conjunction -- I regret to inform my readers that among the roses of prose in Angela Thorne's essays, there was one little thorn. In fact, it was nestled deep among the comments to her essay on Eeqbal Hassim, where she responded to one of her readers, and my eye might not have been stung by it had I breezed a little less meticulously through the thread. In that comment, Thorne mentions how she approached Hassim after the workshop, then she reveals an asymptotic spasm:
Strangely - perhaps not so strangely - I felt closer to him [Eeqbal Hassim] than I did to the foolish teachers. Perhaps because of the Muslim friends I have made in a Muslim country, who are brainwashed and trapped in Islam, but often are nice people. The teachers, so hostile to me, have no excuse for their ridiculously defensive attitude towards Islam. Useful idiots, indeed.
The asymptotic psychology is a wonder to behold. For all her astute insights into Paul Berman's inability to connect the dots (or even, at times, to see clear lines of meaning under his nose) leading from pathologies among various innumerable Muslims to Islam itself -- instead, seeking at every turn some explanation that will exculpate and inoculate Islam itself -- at the end, she does the same, only where her buck stops is one step past Islam, at Muslims: Muslims can't really be willing, knowing believers and proponents of all the outrageous hatred and violence in Islam; why, they must be brainwashed and "trapped" by Islam! And while we're at it, if we can only figure out how to save all those trapped Muslims, maybe we can save ourselves from this same impersonal entity that traps them -- Islam! A common cause with Muslims, to help them help us from their own Islam! The Pipes Dream all over again.
Perhaps I am being unfair to Ms. Thorne. Perhaps this little spasm of hers was just that: a fateful, but ultimately tangential tic, normally smoothed away out of practical existence by her otherwise astute instincts about Islam. To be fair to my own misgivings, however, I cannot be sure of this unless she were to delve more thoroughly into various implications that logically radiate out from her extemporaneous opinion about the psychology of the Muslims she has known, and any extrapolations she might be liable to pose.
And even if Angela Thorne were to object to the sweeping implications of my characterization -- "I didn't say all Muslims were brainwashed and trapped," she might demur, "nor did I say that we should save all of them..." -- this would only forestall inevitable questions: If not all Muslims are brainwashed and trapped, how many are? A number and dispersion around the world sufficient to lessen the dangers we face from Muslims? And even if we concede that there must exist some Muslims who are brainwashed and trapped, how do we know which ones really are, and which ones are only feigning such out of taqiyya?
I.e., such a hypothetical belief is, even if ontologically true, on a pragmatic level useless for our primary priority -- the safety of our societies against the various threats posed by Muslims. This little thorn quite possibly does not impinge upon Thorne's otherwise superb analyses; though it hasn't really been tested, as far as I know. Nevertheless, it, and all the other thorns like it that riddle the analytics of the A.I.M. (the broader Anti-Islam Movement, of which the Australian Islamist Monitor is a part, even if that whole remains inchoate) must be carefully teased out, in order to refine and clarify exactly what it is we stand for, and stand against.