Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Is Islam an "existential threat"?
The fashionable phrase "existential threat" has been used about Islam (either in agreement or disagreement with its application). Something that is a threat on that level does not threaten merely our material existence, but our way of life. It implies nothing less than a threat to destroy our civilization. This kind of threat transcends the merely material, and also threatens the spiritual level (in the non-literalistic sense).
I think it's a big mistake to think of the threat of Islam in these terms. Not only would I argue that the threat itself does not rise to that level, but I also would maintain that to think of it in those terms becomes distracting from keeping our eye on the ball -- which should be first and foremost protecting the citizens of our societies from Mohammedan terrorism (which includes a whole constellation of things that do not appear to be directly connected to such terrorism).
Three types of people think about Islam in "existential" terms:
1) opponents of Islam
2) opponents of the opponents of Islam (i.e., PC MCs and, of course, Leftists)
Taking the last first, of course Muslims see Islam in "existential" terms, through their fanatical conviction that Islam and all the rules its Sharia entails is the Absolute Answer to the mystery of existence. And part of that Absolute Answer, of course, involves the "enemies" which perennially surround the paranoid Mohammedan, enemies which constitute for the Mohammedan mind the raison d'être of jihad.
Then taking the first second, most opponents of Islam (whether or not they, like Robert Spencer, fastidiously decline to speak in terms of being "anti-Islam") seem to see the conflict between Islam and the free world as some grand epochal event or process to be characterized, and fought, in existential terms.
Meanwhile, their PC MC (and Leftist) opponents have their own existential fish to fry -- seeing their defense of Muslims and of Islam in grandiose liberal Civil Rights terms.
The terms of the opponents, and of the opponents of the opponents, are virtually the same: both think they are on the side of the angels, and both think they are defending liberal values of freedom, liberty and respect for the Other. The relatively fewer anti-Islam folks who frame their opposition to Islam in Christian terms are also elevating the fight to an existential level -- specifically a Christian existential level (and the PC MC Christians who oppose them sometimes similarly think their Birkenstock-wearing Hippie Jesus would counsel them to defend poor Muslims from the hatefully bigoted and "racist" Islamophobia).
Then the anti-Islam folks keep noticing these PC MC opponents of theirs, and when the former start to wonder why the latter keep defending Muslims, the former start weaving and spinning explanations that veer toward the conspiracy theory -- what I have termed the "Real Problemers" -- another tendency derived from the existential perspective.
All this is quite distracting in its grandiosity and in the gigantically straggling, oblong and clunky furniture it seems intent on dragging into the conversation. The main point, I say, is that Islam has a fanatical and massively influential blueprint for deadly subversion and sedition which seems to inform innumerable minions of Muslims whom we have no reliable way to distinguish from the larger demographic sea of Muslims who seem to be not at the moment planning or promoting or even enabling our death. And, because of this, based on a mountain of data and an ocean of dots that scream for reasonable connection, we need to protect the citizens of our societies from being killed and maimed, and our infrastructure from being damaged or destroyed.
I think the sheer massiveness of this purely pragmatic problem begins to impinge on people's minds and creates an optical illusion that the problem somehow transcends the quantitative dimension, and attains a qualitative dimension. Certainly, Mohammedans would like to think this is an existential struggle. But we don't have to play along, in order to defend ourselves from them.
In fact, I think we will be able to defend ourselves better if we keep this whole thing strictly on the pragmatic level. But first, of course, we have to restore our society's basic culture of reason so that it can see what's pragmatically in front of its own nose.
No one has a Monopoly on Conspiracy Theory