Sunday, December 17, 2017
Brother, can you spare a paradigm ...?
In a recent essay on Jihad Watch, Hugh Fitzgerald ably defends the Old Paradigm against Daniel Altman (any relation to the famous Leftist film director?), the editor for the solidly mainstream Foreign Policy magazine, who attacked Trump's re-tweets linking videos of, so to say, Muslims Gone Wild, branding Trump's action as a foreboding of Another Holocaust -- this time against the New Jews, the precious Muslims of the world.
As I say, Hugh performs his task of defending the Old Paradigm in an admirably by-the-numbers manner. The only problem is that, to anyone who has thought long and hard about why the broader Western Mainstream persists stubbornly in defending Islam, it has become clear that the issue is not really Islam per se, but Muslims collectively. The broader Western Mainstream instinctively recognizes this, while the considerably smaller Counter-Jihad Mainstream is still stuck going after Islam while avoiding the implications this has for Muslims in general.
Both Mainstreams have their flaws and incoherent weak spots. The broader Western Mainstream indulges in a quasi-willful denial of the systemic, metastasizing proportions of the problem of Islam; while the Counter-Jihad Mainstream indulges in a curious denial of how its own horrifying knowledge of the problem of Islam logically leads to the alarmingly open-ended problem of Muslims.
This latter flaw is implicitly present in the structure of Hugh's entire essay, but becomes increasingly clear as one reads along and, towards the end, bumps into this series of rhetorical questions brimming with frustration:
What is unfair about showing what some Muslims — a not inconsiderable number — are capable of doing? Would it be better not to show these things, in order to protect the image of Islam? Why do we want to protect the image of Islam? How does that promote a real, and not a dangerously illusory, peace?
We can see Hugh trying to juggle a prevarication of the systemic problem of Muslims with vague waves of the hand -- "...some Muslims -- a not inconsiderable number..." -- essentially trying to have his cake of an implied problem of Muslims and eat too a simultaneous attempt to whittle the problem down so that one may not be accused of leading to the very thought crime with which the editor of Foreign Policy is charging all who would defend Trump's re-tweets.
Now, it's not that the broader Western Mainstream denies there is a problem of sorts with Islam and with Muslims. They don't deny it; but they leaven their concession with a tortured mess of incoherence and denial. Just how bad is this problem of Islam? How deep does it run? So it only reflects a relatively minor vein of "conservative fundamentalism" (which -- wink, wink -- "all religions have")? And this in turn only produces the effects of a marginal number, a Tiny Minority of Extremists who are "twisting" Islam? How "tiny" is Tiny? One palpably senses the Western Mainstream responding to this problem of Islam like someone who insists on sitting on the lid of a giant cauldron which they know is threatening to bubble over with a fiery broth that will ruin the kitchen, if not the house, hoping that by trying their damndest to keep the lid on, the problem will remain just barely deniable, rather than explode into full view, destroying all chances of any further denial. Meanwhile, the Counter-Jihad Mainstream continues to scratch its collective head in bafflement at this behavior of the broader Western Mainstream; but it's not that mysterious. The broader Western Mainstream is anxiously, almost frantically one senses, trying to avoid the implications the problem of Islam increasingly reveals -- that an indeterminately vast number of Muslims are hateful, dangerous fanatics.
As I've argued before, the only plausible reason why the Counter-Jihad Mainstream avoids tackling this issue head-on is one of two things: 1) either the Counter-Jihad Mainstream individual in question is afraid of being condemned by the broader Western Mainstream for being a "racist" and an "Islamophobe", or 2) the Counter-Jihad Mainstream individual himself agrees with the broader Western Mainstream, that the problem is not all Muslims but only "...some Muslims -- a not inconsiderable number..."
The key difference at that point between the two Mainstreams revolves around how many Muslims are the problem. Since we can never know the answer to this question, and since the danger of assuming any given vague number of Muslims are harmless traps us in a deadly game of Muslim Roulette, this difference of Mainstreams amounts to a kind of tango between two sides, each trying to outdo the other in its untenable Denial of the actual problem while at the same time pretending to be grappling with that problem more effectively than their dance opponent.