Friday, October 14, 2016
The TMOE™ meme in the Counter-Jihad
The TMOE, of course, is the "Tiny Minority of Extremists" meme -- namely, that the problem of Islam is really only that of a tiny minority of extremists (or "Wahhabists" or "Salafists" or "political Islamists" or whatever other fashionable term non-Muslims have cooked up du jour), while the vast majority of Muslims just wanna have a sandwich.
I've noticed, and tried to document when I can over the years, how the Counter-Jihad Mainstream (CJM) out of one side of its mouth implies strongly that the TMOE meme is ridiculous, while out of the other side of its mouth it basically reinforces it in subtle ways.
One of those subtle ways I have noted in my essays on the permutation of the "Moderate Muslim" meme, where the typical CJMer mocks that meme, then turns around and uses an equivalent.
Another way has been the subtler, and even more complicated rhetoric I have analyzed in dozens of essays over the years, rhetoric used by various luminaries and/or leadership of the still disorganized Counter-Jihad where often they let slip, perhaps not even consciously, their what I have called "asymptotic" tendency -- by which I mean, getting close to the realization that all Muslims are the problem, but never quite getting there (and often recoiling from the logic of that vector to a safer, softer position). A small sampling of my essays in this regard may be had on this Google page.
At any rate, I was reminded of this yet again by an asymptotic burp or spasm in a long essay by a French historian, Barbara LeFebvre, reproduced in full in two parts by that luminary of the Counter-Jihad Mainstream, Hugh Fitzgerald, on that bastion of the Counter-Jihad Mainstream, Jihad Watch.
What Do French Textbooks Teach about Islam? is the essay, and ostensibly it is an indictment of the French public education system's routine whitewashing of Islamic history and culture. So far so good, for the anti-Islam cred of the Counter-Jihad Mainstream.
Then, a little ways in, we find this claim by LeFebvre:
How history is presented in the schools is a sensitive area on which we can have an effect, and though the fire has been simmering since 2000, with the attacks of 2015 and the grotesque business of the burkini, the pressure-cooker is really beginning to whistle. The tension is due to the pressure exercised by a tyrannical minority of political Islamists, some of whom who are being presented as “moderates” and thus legitimized by the government, who treat with opprobrium a silent majority of Muslims who are often non-observant or even non-believers, but who are used for political ends.
[That is Hugh's translation of this: L'histoire scolaire est un espace sensible sur lequel on peut agir, et si depuis les années 2000, le feu couve, depuis les attentats de 2015 en passant par le grotesque épisode du burkini, la cocotte-minute siffle. Cette tension tient à la pression des tenants d'un islam politique, minorité tyrannique dont certaines figures recyclées sous l'expression de «modérés» sont légitimées par les pouvoirs publics, qui jettent l'opprobre sur une majorité silencieuse souvent non pratiquante voire non croyante mais que tout le monde essentialise à des fins politiques.]
The TMOE meme is quite visible here: The problem, according to LeFebvre, resides in a minority of extremists, while the "silent majority" of Muslims are "often non-observant or even non-believers" (I would render the French as: "often not practicing or even believing" Islam). These multitudes of French Muslims, then, are basically the permutation of the "Moderate" formulated variously as "Muslims who don't know their own Islam" -- or the "lax" Muslims who are, we are supposed to suppose, as insouciant about their Islam as most modern Westerners are about their Christanity.
Hugh's translation has one particular, subtly artful massage which slightly tends to soften it:
Cette tension tient à la pression des tenants d'un islam politique, minorité tyrannique...
he renders as:
The tension is due to the pressure exercised by a tyrannical minority of political Islamists...
Incidentally, this isn't the first time I've spotted Hugh translating French a bit too artfully (see my essay, A quibble? Or the quiddity?)
LeFebvre's original clearly adverts to a "political Islam", and its promoters, a "tyrannical minority" -- which & whom LeFebvre pretty much blames for the problem Islam is causing France, while, with sympathy implied, letting off the hook the "silent majority" of Muslims who are being intimidated and manipulated by this "tyrannical minority" and are thus, it is understood, victims of the extremists. Hugh's "a tyrannical minority of political Islamists" tends to shift the "political" category onto the group of extremists, thus implicitly preserving an Islam entirely problematic -- though not entirely coherently, since if Islam itself is problematic, why would this "tyrannical minority" have to be "political" about it? LeFebvre's formulation at least is somewhat more coherent, but at the price of splitting Islam into two: an unproblematic mainstream religion, and its extremist offshoot, "political Islam". Hugh, in typical asymptotic contortion, is protecting the insight that all of Islam is problematic, but at the price of incoherence. I've analyzed this phenomenon before, and have tentatively concluded that this kind of asymptotic analysis in the Counter-Jihad Mainstream seems motivated, perhaps semi-consciously, by an anxious disinclination to "tar all Muslims with one brush", apparently out of a fear of being "bigoted" if not "racist" -- the fear that motivates the entire broader Western mainstream besotted by PC MC. (There is one wrinkle of incoherence in LeFebvre's formulation: namely, that if the only problem is the "political Islam" of the "tyrannical minority", why does she feel the need to say that the "silent majority" of Muslims are "often non-observant or even non-believers", since even if they were "observant" and "believers", this would only pertain to the presumably unproblematic mainstream Islam, not to the smaller, problematic truncation, "political Islam".)
At any rate, both LeFebvre and Hugh seem to need to believe in this amorphous mass of Muslims who are "often not practicing or even believing" Islam.
In my recent essay -- Which Muslims are not Islamic? -- I noticed Hugh doing this before:
...at many various odd moments, a CJMer will blurt out formulations that reflect some kind of taxonomy of Muslims, whereby not all Muslims are "extremists" or "radical" (or whatever other of the many terms one uses to distinguish among Muslims -- Hugh Fitzgerald, for example, writing for that bastion of the CJM, Jihad Watch, seems to approve deeply of Jean-Louis Harouel's taxonomy of Muslims into "deeply convinced or merely docile").
The qualifier "tiny" in the TMOE meme may be as itsy-bitsy as the proverbial spider, or may be adjusted and enlarged to allow for a larger number. An example may be the remarkably soft Counter-Jihadist, Daniel Pipes, who has been bold enough to go so far as to say "a Small Minority of Extremists" (and because he allows himself to be worried about a few million, he has become part of the Anti-Islam Movement by default, still defended over at that other bastion of the Counter-Jihad Mainstream, Frontpage Mag, helmed by those solid Softies, David Horowitz and Jamie Glazov).
However the meme is adjusted, the principle remains the same: It's a way to truncate the problem, isolate a diseased branch (or twig), and thereby spare, and save, the main trunk or tree of Islam. Perhaps more importantly, it is calculated to salvage an undefined majority of Muslims from the horrors of our "bigotry" and "racism" (or, rather, to salvage the ethical narcissism of our egos). Because Hugh Fitzgerald is intent to damn all of Islam and not indulge in the anxious taxonomic subdivisions and particle physics so many of his peers in the Counter-Jihad Mainstream do, he manifests the asymptotic paradox perhaps the most acutely: as he mercilessly presses his damnation of all Islam, we notice (if we are looking closely) that out of the sides of his rhetoric are squeezed innumerable salvaged Muslims.
The only problem with the TMOE meme (in any of its flavors) is in the thousands of pieces of information -- a growing mountain of data, and a rising ocean of dots screaming to be connected -- we have learned over the years which indicate that the Muslim masses are not so innocent, and partake of a culture which encourages lying and deception -- yea, false assimilation -- in order to advance Islam while they still perceive themselves as too weak vis-à-vis their stronger enemy (the West).
Barbara LeFebvre may not have familiarized herself with this mountain and this ocean, but Hugh Fitzgerald has no such excuse.