Tuesday, August 23, 2016
The two Mainstreams: talking past each other
The CJM (Counter-Jihad Mainstream) continues to avoid the main focus of the Western Mainstream: Muslims, not Islam. Meanwhile, the CJM persists in focusing on Islam, not Muslims.
All the while, they both share the same presupposition -- that not all Muslims are waging jihad against us. The numbers may vary between the perspectives of the two Mainstreams (no doubt a vast majority for the broader Mainstream, and perhaps a minority for the CJM, though because they avoid the subject, we can't say for sure). Nevertheless, they both exonerate large swaths of Muslims from condemnation. And this is the important part: they do this for essentially the same reason -- an anxiety to avoid "tarring all Muslims with one brush" out of "bigotry".
So if they share the same presupposition and the same reasons for having that presupposition, why do they continue to talk past each other? Curiously and ironically, the fault lies more with the CJM than with the broader Western Mainstream. At least the Western Mainstream is up front about its motive of wanting to avoid "racism". The CJM's psychologically suppressed anxiety not to be bigoted against all Muslims has the effect of torturing its logic into an incoherent impasse, because of two opposing forces of logic:
1) the increasing, horrifying awareness of the problem of Islam
2) the anxious need not to be bigoted against all Muslims.
This is what I have called the asymptotic dilemma. The first vector is a reasonable result of learning more and more about Islam -- in the news of current events and in the history of its career and of its founding holy texts. This learning curve, in turn, develops in an individual as part of the process of freeing oneself from the prevailing cultural force-field of Politically Correct Multi-Culturalism (PC MC).
Once a person has broken free of the thrall of PC MC, he can approach the data of the problem of Islam with a relatively open mind, and the growing horror of it all begins to dawn on him. However, that isn't the end of the story. There is an opposing force to this journey of the open-minded learning curve, if PC MC remains lurking in the heart and mind of the person who has otherwise embarked upon the alarming journey of the open mind assessing the data of Islam.
To the degree that traces of PC MC remain in the person's heart and mind, he will remain asymptotic -- which means, he will be unable to complete the journey to the realization that leads to Zero Tolerance against All Muslims. The force of the data, however, in all its horrifying quantity and quality -- including the devastating data of taqiyya -- pulls the person toward that Zero Tolerance. There thus grows in the person a tension between these two forces: his own latent vestiges of PC MC, nagging at him that he will become an evil bigoted, racist, neo-Nazi "hater" if he succumbs to the force of the data; and his open mind and reason knowing, deep down, that the data cannot be suppressed forever and that it is increasingly becoming a matter of the survival of Western civilization. Most in the CJM, it seems, are stuck in a kind of limbo, where their sheer denial of this internal dilemma allows them to remain passively and irresponsibly suspended this way. When someone comes along and prods them with provocations that shake up their irrational non-position by exposing their incoherent logic, they often react in a hostile fashion (e.g., long-time commenter at Jihad Watch "Philip Jihadski", who externalizes his inner turmoil into a neo-Nazi racist scapegoat, at which he lashes out), and/or they double down into a position strangely resembling the PC MCs they otherwise spend all their time attacking, in effect defending innumerable Muslims from condemnation.
When a CJMer defends Muslims, he does it on a negative basis, not a positive basis. When a PC MC defends Muslims, it's the reverse. The positive defense of Muslims in PC MC is the classic meme of the Moderate Muslim. There exists out there a viable mass of Muslims, no doubt the majority, perhaps the vast majority, who believe in a good Islam that is their cultural identity and that can get along with the modern world as a "diverse" contribution to the wonderful cultural family of diverse cultures around the world living in Kumbaya harmony, and this mass of Muslims and their Islam are distinct from the Tiny Minority of Extremists who are trying to hijack the good Islam of all these nice, diverse, modern and moderate Muslims. It is our duty as non-Muslims to help these nice Muslims oppose the Tiny Minority of Extremists: this in fact is the proper way to respond to the problem of Islam.
The negative defense of Muslims in the CJM doesn't posit any positive ideological Islam forming the Muslims we should defend: rather, it posits a baseline humanity of decency and ascribes this axiomatically to an indeterminable mass of Muslims (the CJM never gets around to telling us how many Muslims fit this amorphous category). The Muslims which the CJM is concerned to defend are decent people in spite of their culture of Islam, not because of it. That's how the CJM perspective differs from that of the broader Western Mainstream. Nevertheless, the two views share the same presupposition that there exists a viable mass of Muslims who are to be defended from a comprehensive intolerance. The decent Muslims, in the view of the CJM, are decent for various reasons (which I have explored in a few essays): they are ignorant of their own Islam; they are afraid of getting killed by their more extremist co-religionists; they are "Muslims In Name Only"; etc.
So, along comes Sally Kohn, reiterating the basic presupposition of the PC MC Western Mainstream she belongs to -- the same presupposition shared by the CJM. And yet, when one examines the comments of the CJMers in the Jihad Watch articles about Kohn, one sees not a trace or hint of any cognitive dissonance. And naturally, they attack her every which way -- except on the one point they share with her: namely, that there exist innumerable decent Muslims out there.
At least Kohn is up front about her view: she contends that there are innumerable decent Muslims who are capable of assimilating in the modern world (who even march in gay pride parades!) who also happen to support sharia law. Her conclusion from this ostensible fact is that sharia law cannot be necessarily Draconian and barbaric -- that in fact sharia must be "diverse", with some extremist flavors on the fringe promoted by the Taliban, al Qaeda, ISIS, Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc.; while mostly, there flourish moderate flavors supported by all the innumerable, decent Muslims out there she believes in.
The CJM, on the other hand, doesn't forthrightly contend that there are innumerable Muslims capable of assimilating in the modern world; but when backed into a corner, they will defend that supposition. And generally speaking, their unwillingness to guide their Counter-Jihad by the principle of zero tolerance against all Muslims exerts a force on their analyses of the problem. Indirectly, passively, and tacitly they end up defending Muslims just as much in principle as a Sally Kohn does. For the CJM, the amorphous demographic of decent Muslims may support sharia, but they must be doing so out of their ignorance of Islam, or out of the deadly peer pressure they find themselves in as Muslims. I.e., for the CJM, the toxicity of sharia remains, on principle, a constant. Therefore, in order to salvage Muslims they must tinker with Muslims, not with sharia.
Sally Kohn and the PC MCs, by contrast, do not consider sharia to be a toxic constant; they assume that the sharia of all those decent Muslims must also be decent itself -- because they make the reasonable assumption that all those Muslims must know enough about their Islam not to stupidly support something that is evil (and remember, they are assumed to be decent moms and pops like the rest of us). Thus there is assumed to be a diversity of flavors of sharia -- each flavor just as authentic as the next. More generally, Sally Kohn and PC MCs make the same assumption about Islam. There are multiple Islams out there -- the "extremist" variety, and more moderate flavors.
The CJM, however, maintains there is only one sharia and one Islam -- deadly, evil, and toxic. Once they establish this as a non-negotiable principle, the only way they can explain the existence of innumerable decent Muslims is to assume those Muslims either don't know their own Islam, or they are afraid of coming out of the closet and so continue to pretend to be Muslim.
If the CJM became aware of what they are doing, and engaged the Sally Kohns of the West directly on it, we might get somewhere in our general Conversation on this problem. For then, the CJM might suddenly realize to its chagrin that it's not so different from the PC MCs they otherwise spend all day bashing.
I see no signs of this kind of coherent self-awareness happening any time soon, however.