Sunday, January 19, 2014

Our Learned Analysts

Exhibit A today is Jerrold M. Post, Professor of Psychiatry, Political Psychology and International Affairs and Director, Political Psychology Program, The George Washington University, Washington, D.C.  Prof. Post styles himself (and is styled by the mainstream) as an Expert in the problem of terrorism.

Six years ago, there was a rather lively debate going on in the comments field of a Jihad Watch article (unfortunately, no longer available because for some baffling reason Robert Spencer and/or his genius tech advisor "marc" decided in their infinite wisdom to trash the vast majority of the archive caches; and even the Wayback Machine doesn't seem to have it). The article in question concerned a possible locus for a broad international Islamic conspiracy to influence Western academe and political matrices of cross-cultural analysis. I won't go into this here, since the lively debate in the comments field concerned a different topic, only indirectly related.

Among a cluster of connected questions, the debate touched on the analysis of terrorism by one Jerrold Post, a professor of "political psychology", whose expertise was touted by one reader. Initially, that reader cited Prof. Post for his opinion that, due to "psychiatric necessities", "a theocracy **MUST** manufacture an enemy."

Another reader perspicaciously smelled an equivalencist rat, whereby the singular features of Islam tend to be subsumable by, in this case, an amorphous generality of "theocracy". That reader then posted a comment where he subjected a particular analysis by Prof. Post to a provisional critique, demonstrating convincingly that Prof. Post, in his "political psychology" focus on Intifada terrorists as well as the 9/11 commando unit, was for some reason bracketing Islam out of his analysis. The very first Commandment of the Politically Correct Multi-Culturalist paradigm, in fact, is just this: to bracket Islam out of any explanation of bad behaviors and expressions we notice Muslims are doing and saying. Such bracketing-out lays the groundwork for the aforementioned equivalencism: for, once Islam is axiomatically bracketed-out, its singular (if not unique) features are not noticed and processed, and one can treat all bad behaviors and expressions by Muslims as pretty much equivalent to bad behaviors and expressions by other "extremist" people and movements, religious and otherwise.

The above-mentioned defender of Prof. Post then brusquely and childishly dismissed the second reader's provisional critique without offering a shred of a counter-argument, and reiterated the defense of Prof. Post's supposedly pioneering work in developing a "prosoprofile" of terrorists -- one that, according to this defender’s magnanimous omniscience, "every person on this board would wholeheartedly agree with." The defender then proceeded to stress emphatically that "Dr. Post has NEVER, EVER failed to mention Islam" -- heedless of the crucial distinction between the Islam of texts and traditions, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, some special "extremist" construct of our incompetent analysts who over the past few years have been developing a linguistic industry out of coming up with some other, truncated "radical Islamism" that represents the "tiny minority" of said "extremists" trying to "hijack" the Islam that is axiomatically elevated to the status of a "noble religion of peace" before it is solemnly bracketed out and protectively cordonned off from all criticism.

As the second reader who had offered his provisional critique of Prof. Post then put it aptly:

Of course Dr. Post knows that "Islamic extremism" exists. But is it due to Islamic teaching, or is it just coincidental that suicide bombings etc. happen in Islamic countries? Is there a causal correlation in his mind, or could it just as easily happened with Baptists in North Carolina?

Another reader appropriately added:

Analysis like Dr. Post's, that fails to identify the root cause of jihadist ideology found in Islamic teachings and tenets, have us in the dilemma we are in today.

Dr. Post's defender proffered a link to another paper by him: Killing In The Name Of God: Osama Bin Laden And Al Qaeda. In the light of my observations above, I now submit this paper to a brief critical analysis.

Of the total 35 pages of this paper, only a few are relevant to the question of whether Prof. Post's analysis of the causes of terrorism are adequate, since the bulk of the paper concerns peripheral issues (e.g., the structure of the al Qaeda organization).

The three-page introduction is concerned with presenting the fact of 9/11 as an ostensibly baffling puzzle, less explicable than the motivations of the Muslim terrorists against Israel, since to the author those are largely marginalized youths whose socioeconomic desperation makes them vulnerable to being "brainwashed" and thereby recruited for suicide bombings. No links to Islam itself are proffered by the author, only superficial links which he dutifully labels "the ethos of radical Islamic terrorism". And all the onus on explaining why these youths would so readily provide themselves as cannon fodder to the cause is placed on their being passive pawns to be manipulated by nameless people the author calls "group members". A typical example of his ineptness with regard to the religious symbolisms that in fact motivate Islamic suicide bombers is his description of what this "brainwashing" constituted -- namely that "by carrying out a suicide bombing, they would find an honored place in the corridor of martyrs, and their lives would be meaningful..." This is a singularly anodyne description, not only irresponsibly ignoring the very rich symbolism of Islamic Paradise which tempts these suicide-bomber recruits and the pathological nature of the eschatology involved whereby this life and its meaning are denigrated and replaced by a psychological investment in the next life as the locus of all meaning; but also substituting patently non-Islamic terms (the ridiculous "corridor of martyrs" sounding more like something out of the Norse myth of Asgaard) for the ones in fact used by Islamic suicide bombers and their exegetes drawing directly and explicitly from Islamic texts and traditions.

It is in the chapter entitled "Al Qaeda: Ideology and Philosophy" where we see the First Commandment of the PC MC paradigm in operation. Prof. Post bases much of his application of this paradigm on his study of what he calls "the" al-Qaeda operations manual (I am not sure why he inserts a hyphen there). As we have discussed elsewhere on this blog, the effect of the PC MC paradigm on a person's mental faculties usually makes data irrelevant: no matter how much damning data about Islam is presented to the person who is in thrall to the PC MC paradigm, it doesn't really matter, for all that data is processed in such a way as to result in interpretations which preserve the prejudicial axioms upon which the paradigm is built -- including its First Commandment: Thou shalt never condemn nor even criticize Islam itself.

Even Prof. Post cannot help notice that this al Qaeda operations manual contains "elaborate justification, citing suras (verses) [sic] from the Koran, scholars who have provided commentary on the Koran, or hadiths (tradition)."

Prof. Post blatantly errs when he helps the reader know what suras are. They are not, as he parenthetically translates, "verses". They are equivalent to "chapters". The appropriate word for "verses" would be ayat. Elsewhere, Prof. Post mistakenly writes murtid to mean "apostates" in the plural, when the actual plural is murtadeen. Such elementary mistakes add to the reader's discomfort about Prof. Post's purported knowledge of that one giant elephant in the room -- Islam -- which he is so careful to exclude as an explanatory factor for terrorism and for the terrorist psychology.

When he gets to the meat of the matter, describing the Islamic content of this al Qaeda operations manual, Prof. Post fares no better. These elaborate justifications (from the aforementioned Islamic texts) are offered especially when the instructions recommended seem to contradict Islamic teaching. Prof. Post does not clarify, however, whether the "seeming" contradictions he is referring to are those that "seem" so to him, from his comparative study of those Islamic texts, or those that "seem" so to the writer(s) of the manual itself. If it's the former, he does a poor job of demonstrating that. If the latter, he does not offer any evidence of it.

The first chapter, "Osama bin Laden: A Political Personality Profile", has precious little of significance regarding the peculiarly Islamic nature of bin Laden -- for it is mostly preoccupied with bin Laden as a generic cult figure able to inspire followers.

The above may be supplemented with this good analysis by a Jihad Watch commenter in a post on Post (alas, that useful comment has also vanished into the Internet ether because of the apparent decision by Robert Spencer and his tech Einstein "marc" in their infinite wisdom consigning untold thousands of comments, many of them containing useful information and analyses, to Internet oblivion).

It is helpful, when reading such blithering nonsense as that proferred by professors of the likes of Prof. Post, to remind oneself of the basics, including what Robert Spencer has stated time and time again:

Writing about the four major schools of Islamic law, Spencer notes that "all -- not just one, or a few, but all -- the orthodox sects and schools of Islamic jurisprudence teach that it is part of the responsibility of the Islamic community to wage war against unbelievers and subjugate them under the rule of Islamic law... There is no sect or school recognized as orthodox that rejects this. "
(Spencer provided his references here.)

P.S.:  A couple of gold nugget turds deposited by our learned analyst Prof. Post:

1) "The assertion that the Prophet says, 'Islam is supreme and there is nothing above it' can not be found in the Koran.  The singular in the statement [sic?] is discordant with many suras in the Koran, which while advancing the truth of Islam, do not imply that Islam is superior, nor are they meant to suggest that previous religions were intrinsically untrue."

2) Dr. Post testified for Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, the terrorist facing execution over the 1998 bombing of the American Embassy in Tanzania. Post met with Mohamed four times and found him to be a "remarkably unquestioning person" who was remorseful and felt that "there are no circumstances that justify taking innocent victims." Indeed, he attempted to gain sympathy from the jury for the defendant. This is a man who was responsible for the terrorist bombing deaths of 10 innocent people and the injuring of 74 others.

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