Monday, November 28, 2011

One anonymous civilian cuts through the "Counter-Jihad" horsefeathers

Robert Spencer today at
Jihad Watch put up a round-table he and three others (the glaringly asymptotic Andrew McCarthy, as well as Bosch Fastwin and Baroness Cox) had about the issue of the "moderate Muslim".

For all their intelligence, these Four Muzzketeers could have spared themselves much time and oxygen (and intelligent, albeit unintentional, obfuscation -- particularly from the sincerely confused Andrew McCarthy) by simply stating what one lone commenter wrote in the comments section:

Sorry, but I don’t accept that this widely-assumed-to-exist sub-category of supposedly non-problematic Muslims exists at all, regardless of what labels we use. Even the most genuinely nominal, congenial, peaceful, cooperative Muslims out there are still, in some small way, contributing to the problem that we face simply by identifying themselves as Muslim at all. Their chosen self-identity alone contributes to the momentum of the Sharia agenda on a broader level.

Think about it this way: If you knew that the ideology that you were identifying yourself with taught all these horrible and destructive things, and you genuinely felt that they were horrible and destructive, and you could see that there were many people all over the world that shared your ideological label carrying out these horrible and destructive instructions every hour of every day, causing misery everywhere, why on Earth would you continue to identify yourself with the ideology at all? Would we not have considered a “nominal” Nazi, or a “nominal” State Shintoist during World War 2 to be problematic no matter how genuinely casual they might have been about it?
We need to stop kidding ourselves. It’s perfectly legitimate to hold people responsible for the ideologies with which they associate themselves, no matter how casually they do it. Casual, cooperative Muslims don’t need “space,” they need to be held to account.

The commenter's pseudonym de plume is "out of context (TM)" -- and frankly, he should be getting paid more than Spencer or McCarthy.

For I doubt that Spencer would agree with this commenter on the precisely, exquisitely crucial comparison of the
nominal Muslim with the nominal Nazi. Indeed, Spencer effectively rejected that comparison some five years ago on his blog, in a discussion he had with readers who took sincere issue with his eely gingerliness on avoiding frank condemnation of Islam and Muslims.

Spencer is supposed to be better than McCarthy; but at the end of the day, for our intellectually articulated position in the (still inchoate) Anti-Islam Movement, we may have to rely on the simpler, blunter civilians among us who can translate the mountain of data about Islam and Muslims -- data which Spencer is otherwise so good at organizing and reporting -- into a no-nonsense platform he (and other quasi-leaders) seems incapable of, or unwilling to endorse.


Sagunto said...

Yep, telling discussion. The way Robert Spencer used the "reformation" analogy was also telling a story about his cultural Christian frame of reference.

Take care,

Hesperado said...


I noticed your comment there at Jihad Watch, after I had posted this essay. While I like the way you phrased the problem of Islam, as you know, I do not agree with your framework for explaining the problem of the problem -- namely, the West's myopia to the primary problem.


If you're reading this, I was a little surprised to read you writing that --

"What I do think is that while a majority of muslims may be ignorant about islam, once they learn about what islam is and how it grew from being an asterisk in Medina to one of the world's largest empires stretching from Spain to the East Indies, far from being appalled @ it, they'd be filled w/ pride @ these conquests of islam and strive to make it even more powerful.

I don't think we can know that a majority of Muslims are ignorant about Islam. It's simply a hypothesis, which would seem to have its sole function in finding a way to absolve the majority of Muslims from conscious, willing, informed evildoing. As I have argued before, I think Islamic culture provides many different ways to enculturate and to inform its members, other than ways that a Westerner might be familiar with. Surely, you can't tell me that uncouth mobs in remote islands of the Indonesian archipelago who demonstrate Islamic evil are "ignorant" of Islam. How did they learn the necessary building blocks of Islamic supremacism by which their worldview, psyche and emotions are formed? I don't think "school" or "going to the mosque" (much less actually studying books including the Koran etc.) are the sole ways by which Muslims learn the sufficient rudiments of an evil & dangerous Islam. There are many other cultural ways they learn it which, from the outside, might seem to be "osmosis" but which would include family and the street.

Sure, perhaps the majority of Muslims don't know as much about Islam as Robert Spencer does; but they know enough to make them sufficiently fanatical supporters of an ideology that desires to subjugate all Mankind and to kill all those who would resist this grand plan. The only reason Muslims have not succeeded in this milliennial desideratum of theirs is because, ironically, their culture impairs them on a variety of levels, rendering them endemically fractious and unsophisticated. Surveying Muslims at any given slice of time in history, or considering their entire history, one is reminded of a very large and powerful vehicle that rages and sputters and churns the dirt beneath its gears and wheels -- and manages to destroy property and run over untold numbers of people -- but which, for a multitude of factory defects, so to speak, can't really succeed in doing what it was built to do.

Sagunto said...

"The problem of the problem" is of course a misrepresentation of my views.

Our different perspectives result from the fact that you are, by your own qualified description, basically still a progressivist statist, whereas I am strongly in favour of Austrian economics and the abolition of the managerial welfare state, in order to set ourselves back on the road to freedom. You defend the current political system, I wish to get rid of it.

With regard to the Islamic threat, you point to the roof of our house being on fire. While I see that even more clearly than you do (living among Muslims in a densely populated Western city), I am also not in denial about the foundations of our house having been eroded and undermined this past century.

I suppose it's no use for me to try and correct your false impression as if I'd claim Islam to be the lesser, subordinate problem, but that's okay.

Doesn't mean we can't have some meaningful discussions, right?

Kind regs from Amsterdam,

Nobody said...


I don't know that a majority of Muslims are ignorant of Islam or not, which is why I said 'may be'. Honestly, I don't think there is a reliable way of knowing.

I do assume that every Muslim who indulges in jihadi activity does know what Islam preaches. The only people who are ignorant about it are a subset of the Muslims who don't do jihad, don't do honor killings, and seemingly just go about their daily business. These people are mainly the ones in countries like the ex Soviet republics like Kazakhstan, as well as a few West African countries. Statistically, that would be miniscule. But in their case, I don't think they've imbibed fanaticism from the get-go in the same way that their comrades in other Muslim countries have.

I don't think the bulk of Muslims located in the East Indies, Indian subcontinent and the Arab and Turkic countries are at all ignorant of Islam - in that sense, I misspoke when I said that a majority of muslims are ignorant of Islam. Actually, I should have been more explicit in qualifying that as a majority of Muslims who don't practice jihad and who live in relatively non-Islamic Muslim countries, like the ex-Soviet republics.

Hesperado said...


I think there are two misunderstandings you might have concerning my conception of your views:

1) I agree that you appreciate the magnitude and urgency of the problem of Muslims, pretty much as I do (at least, that's my impression; I've seen no reason to think otherwise thus far). That's a separate issue from what we need to do about it. Which leads to #2.

2) I may or may not misconceive your description of the Western myopia that is disabling us vis-a-vis #1, but while I may not grasp all the historico-economic factors that constitute it, I think I know enough to conclude that you cross the line (as nearly every anti-Islam analyst does, when they direct their attention to this facet of the issue) to imputing evil to the West, or to its leaders and influential "intelligentsia"; and by extension imputing mass sheep-like ignorance and/or passivity to the masses.

You may not intend to do this, but that's the logical conclusion of your position. Others do the same, but in a sloppier and less coherent fashion, when they vaguely, but logically, imply that certain Western leaders and influential people are in effect aiding and abetting their society's mortal enemy for reasons of greed or power. If that isn't evil, then I don't know what is. You have a more sophisticated analysis that broadens the scope from random "leaders" to a systemic problem. But the same logical conclusion applies, to the actual human beings who enable the system, and who would be similarly aiding and abetting their society's mortal enemy for reasons that no one in his right mind would indulge.

The only way out of this logical impasse is to then add on to the explanation complex theories of "ignorance" on the part of both leaders and the People, combined with a mass sheep passivity on the part of the latter, along with incoherently implied Macchiavelian malevolence (evil) on the part of some (or most? or all?) of the leaders and some cabal of influential people; etc. All this becomes necessary to sustain the logic -- unless one stops, takes a step back, a breath, and reconfigures.

The only way to explain the West's myopia must preserve

1) the relatively dominant goodness of its leaders and influential people

2) the relative intelligence and dignity of its masses of "the People", such that they wouldn't permit being led by the nose to such a massive danger if they knew it was happening.

At worst, my explanation suffers from having to get a bit into knots positing, and describing, the paradox of intelligence and refusal to process bad data about Muslims. But in order to preserve #1 and #2 above, there has to be some sort mechanism operating here that has those paradoxical features.

And it's not merely a matter of what the hypothesis needs -- I also see innumerable indications of it in various ways put into words and action: the "PC MC Template", as I have called it; or alternately, "Quantum Ignorance" -- whereby a relatively intelligent civilization (the most sophisticated and intelligent and benevolent and enlightened civilization in all world history, in fact) paints itself into a corner through its own virtues taken to mistaken excess.

(Continued next comment)

Hesperado said...

(Continued from previous)

This isn't a complicated mystery: the crux of the entire phenomenon is the Western virtue of Respect for the non-Western Other, based on the virtue of Universalism (which the West uniquely has developed), which morphs into the virtue of Anti-Racism, which then when confronting masses of Brown (and Black) Muslims triggers virtually automatic mechanisms of sincerely held ethical axioms in the hearts and minds of the Evolved Westerner. These mechanisms and their axioms are then strengthened by

a) the sheer numbers of these Brown and Black (and Yellow) Others

b) the violence and intolerance which innumerable numbers among them perpetrate and communicate.

As I've pointed out many times before, (b) is a paradoxical effect, but quite logical, in that Muslim violence and general bad behavior arouses in the PC MC Westerner a semi-conscious awareness that their own virtues are being seriously challenged, but their strong and sincere commitment to those virtues causes them to dig in their heels to stubbornly redouble their defense and maintenance of those virtues, rather than readjust them in the face of new data -- the new data being that yes, a non-Western People and its Culture can actually be an unjust, evil and dangerous thing, and must be opposed, and it's not "racist" to do so. The PC MC is, however, too deeply committed to his anti-racism to readjust; and emotionally he is afraid to do so, for he fears he will let out the Inner Western White Monster he feels is inside himself, which he must suppress, the Monster who will round up Brown/Black/Yellow people and put them in camps and exterminate them.

All this I say may be more accurate than your analysis, and yet the "Statist" system can still be bad for the West. You don't have to give up your opposition to the Welfare State; but to try to argue that it is the very crux explaining the Western myopia and enablement of the problem of Islam is, I think, going too far.

Hesperado said...


On the hypothesis that most Muslims are ignorant of their Islam sufficient to render them not actively unjust and dangerous, of course we can't know for sure either way, due to the sheer numbers involved, and their demographic dispersal all over the world -- not to mention the obstacles most of their own backward societies might present to efforts at sophisticated data-gathering (poll-taking, etc.).

Analyzing this hypothesis and its pro and con, we may say that:

1) On the pro side, the apparent fact of most Muslims simply not doing or saying anything "Islamic" (in the dangerous and unjust sense) would be the best one could adduce; and it's not necessarily to be dismissed out of hand.

2) On the con side, we have the following facts:

a) various polls of various Muslim countries find that 70% or higher support various unjust and evil Islamic laws such as public flogging for puritanical religious laws, on up to capital punishment for religious blasphemy and apostasy, etc. These beliefs furthermore are not merely unjust and evil, but also reflect a fanaticism that can easily serve to enable, if not actively support, the more dangerous dangerous aspects of Islam

b) we see random "spontaneous combustion" of Muslims in various areas of the world, where large crowds gather to either communicate dangerous intolerance and hatred (e.g., mass demonstrations in various countries calling for Rushdie's death), or to actually perpetrate violence in various types of mass lynchings, etc. The randomness factor serves to strengthen the factor of large numbers and the factor of wide dispersal of this phenomenon, such that it becomes less likely that the majority is truly ignorant of a sufficient enculturation in Islam to motivate such behaviors.

c) we have seen a long history of Muslims not only doing (b) in various ways, but also showing the ability and willingness to network (long before the radio or television, much less the Internet) internationally for violent jihad. As I pointed out in a previous essay written in 2008, I found an interesting old article on Islam and Western colonialism in Africa, which indicated a glimmer of the "networking" capacity of Muslims:

It was an article by an historian of Islam in Africa: “Sub-Saharan Africa and the Wider World of Islam: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives”, by John Hunwick, Journal of Religion in Africa, Vol. 26, Fasc. 3 (Aug. 1996), pp. 230-257.

As I wrote:

"I shall now quote the salient part of Prof. Hunwick’s article:

The colonial period, not surprisingly, was a time during which West Africa was perhaps more cut off from the rest of the Muslim world than ever before. Colonial authorities, British and French, were ever watchful for signs of what they perceived as the dangerous phenomenon of pan-Islamism and were able to keep an eye on the movements of Muslim leaders from both ends of the lines of communication—sub-Saharan and Mediterranean Africa including Egypt.

I went on to write:

"One can reasonably assume that this Colonial concern and control of Muslims was not limited to Africa, but more or less prevailed (with perhaps occasional exceptions here and there) throughout the various areas where Western powers had encroached upon Muslim lands, from the Philippines, through Southeast Asia, to India and into the Middle East.

"Thus, the effect upon Islam of Western global superiority through its Colonialism was not merely vague and amorphous—it was conscious and concrete: Western Colonial powers, to one degree or another—and without a doubt immensely more so than today in our PC-dominated West—took measures to isolate Muslims from each other, out of the rational awareness and concern for the ever-present tendency of Muslims to network internationally in the interest of a subversive Pan-Islamic movement."

(Continued next comment)

Hesperado said...

(Continued from previous comment to Nobody):

Given all my points, I think the "con" is more persuasive than the "pro". In addition, given the high degree and wide range of the danger posed by Muslims, it would be reckless of us to presume the pro and base policy upon that presumption -- and, I would go further to add, it would be reckless of us to equivocate with an agnosticism about this pro and con.