Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Over the past decade or so, various Western analysts and pundits have generated several subspecies of the Muslim in order to:
a) pretend to distance themselves from the term "Moderate Muslim" so they can look tough and no-nonsense about the problem of Islam,
b) retaining a functional equivalent of that very same term, as a sweeter-smelling rose by another name.
Since 911, a needlessly complicated taxonomy of Muslims has developed. This taxonomy is predicated on the claim that harmless Muslims exist. How many? Usually it's a lot -- enough to make a difference. Often it is assumed that the vast majority of Muslims are harmless. If not a vast majority, surely a majority -- at least enough hundreds of millions to help the person making the claim feel ethically better about himself, knowing he isn't "bigoted" or "racist", or at the very least, that he's not a kook.
The most common taxonomic designator of the harmless Muslim is the Moderate Muslim. This subspecies may be identified by its conspicuous lack of Islamic garb, it's often clean-shaved face (usually when male), and when female, the lack of a hijab (or only a token Jackie-Onassis-style scarf, often of multiculturally diverse colors), and generally a constellation of subtle behaviors that seem "secular" (seemingly hip laxity about sexuality, an amorphously liberal-seeming disposition, a nod in the direction of music appreciation, even ostensible feminism). Since this term has come under severe derision over the years -- even on the outskirts of the PC MC Maintream -- and when the starry-eyed Softie of the Counter-Jihad Mainstream thinks he can get away with it, other concepts have been generated to replace it:
the Lax Muslim
the (relatively) Non-Observant Muslim
the Muslim Ignorant of His Own Islam
the Tragically Heroic Muslim Victim who wants to leave Islam, but can't or otherwise give us any signs he or she actually belongs in this category, for fear of violent reprisals from his or her Muslim brothers and/or sisters.
There may be other permutations, but they all have the same function: to take the place of the increasingly embarrassing term Moderate Muslim -- not in order to scrap that ridiculous term, but rather to retain its deficient uselessness as a pleasantly smelling rose by another name. Why would people (even many in the Counter-Jihad) do this, the reader might ask? Well, it reflects a desperate need -- a need to believe that there must exist Muslims we don't have to be "bigoted" against. This need is based on a dread that, if one really faced the horrible prospect which the ever-growing mountain of data about Islam opens up, one would be forced to condemn 1.3 billion people. Even worse, one would have to condemn at least one billion non-white people who, furthermore, reflect a wonderful multicultural diversity.
From such a prospect, the modern white Westerner recoils, for he has been deeply inculcated in a revulsion of anything remotely hinting at "bigotry" and "racism" (along with its part-and-parcel: an irrational degree of self-criticism of his "shameful" white Western history and its horrible treatment of non-whites, far worse, so the modern white Westerner has been told and tells himself, than any other culture in history).
Aside from this Autophobia the modern Western has (the irrational fear of himself, his own West, going down the slippery slope toward rounding up all those Brown People, putting them in camps, and exterminating them), there is also the related personal dimension whenever any modern Western has any personal encounters, even fleeting, with nice Muslims. A typical comment I encountered on the Gates of Vienna blog capsulizes this neatly:
I work for a couple of days a week in a charity shop (“goodwill”, I believe, in the US) in London. At the end of Ramadan a few weeks ago, one of our female regulars (I think Turkish; headscarf, no burka) brought in some cakes she’d made for Eid; my (also female) manager exchanged kisses with her in thanks.
The cakes were rather scented for my taste, but I find it hard to believe this woman was practising any kind of taquiya; she gained nothing by the gesture.
If there has to be a violent showdown to preserve our civilisation, I’d hate for people like her to be victims. Don’t know the solution, just wanted to say it.
(My commentary on that comment may be found here.)
One way out of this dilemma, whether it's felt personally or is thought conceptually (or more likely a more or less incoherent amalgam of the two) is to develop a taxonomy which magically transforms the Mohammedan Umma into a wonderfully diverse multi-cultural Stir-Fry which is never "monolithic" whenever you want to criticize or condemn any Muslim word or deed that is flamingly hateful and violent, but which suddenly becomes quite monolithic whenever you want to praise Islam and its Muslims.
My interest in this mytho-political taxonomy has moved from a fascination at the way Leftists indulge in it, and then the broader somewhat subtler ways in which PC MCs purvey and perpetuate it, on to the maddening habit of those who should know better -- those in the Counter-Jihad. Thus was born my term asymptotic, to denote the person who makes a big show of being politically incorrect and who claims to disdain PC MC, and who therefore claims to be oh so tough on Islam -- but when the rubber meets the road, he suddenly manifests a telltale tic of PC MC himself.
In a recent essay by Baron Bodissey over at the Gates of Vienna blog, "Moderate" vs. "Dormant", he tackles this very issue, but in so doing, ironically, he seemed to have had an asymptotic tic, reflected in a couple of places. The title itself flirts with the asymptotic equivalency, though at least it also suggests the uncomfortably temporary nature of such an equivalent: "dormant" implies that, while the Muslim is deemed to be "lax" or whatever, he may become "activated" at an unpredictable time and place.
More directly, Bodissey thinks that labeling all Muslims as "toxic" is "not a good idea". Why? Because, says Bodissey, Muslims are "various". Bodissey is here confusing seeming with knowing. Sure, Muslims certainly seem various. But our exigent and more pertinent problem is that we cannot tell which variation gives us knowledge of whether any given Muslim is harmless. Given our utter inability to discern this important feature of "variation", this feature becomes not only useless to us, it becomes positively counterproductive -- a term Bodissey used in fact for the "labeling" of all Muslims as "toxic". I.e., Bodissey has the problem precisely backwards. The rest of his asymptotic tic builds upon this. When, in the comment section, I pointed out that his locution that it is "very, very hard to tell the difference between a lapsed Muslim and a dormant Muslim" should be scrapped because, in fact, it is impossible to tell this difference, not simply "very, very hard" -- Bodissey agreed with me. Had I not pointed this out, however, his asymptotic locution would have apparently stood as it was. And note the assumption of the existence of the "lapsed" Muslim -- yet another subspecies we can add to our mulitplicating taxonomy; and yet another one that is pragmatically useless (even if theoretically it make seem to make sense, and even though it may make us feel ethically better for us to know that we have such a refined and sophisticated ability to discern differences among Muslims and avoid the uncouth and simplistic faux pas of the Monolith.