I can claim no expertise on the matter; except that of a moderately informed American citizen trying to keep up…
Key points: ISIS clearly represents a form of radical Islam; one with fascistic and Western elements, yes, but Islam-inspired nonetheless. To my knowledge, there are no non-Muslim, nor non-Muslim-aspiring converts and self-radicalizers joining this fight, nor seeking to advance ISIS aims.
I do not believe people in the West are at war with Islam, perhaps that’s not as obvious as it should be in certain quarters, but in other quarters it should be just as obvious the West has been in a form of warfare with radical, guerilla-style, Islamic-inspired terrorist groups for some time. These groups keep emerging out of Islamic societies, capable of attacking Western societies, and even radicalizing a few Muslims within Western societies.
Some of these radicals have been forged (supported even) out of direct contact with American military engagement in the past and present, and also other Western/Russian engagement, too. Some such radicals can even be born within, or travel freely to and from, Western societies and the front lines of their ordained battlefield, as many Muslims are voting with their feet; seeking more freedom, opportunity, and security than their own societies can provide, becoming immigrants, economic migrants, and in some cases, benefit-seekers, and in a few, rarer cases…radicalized terrorists and murderers.
Deeper down, though, it seems these radicals are being born out of the conflict within Muslim societies and those societies’ contacts/conflicts with both the West and what is generally called ‘modernity.’ Islam and Islamic societies are having a pretty rough time with so much change, and most Muslims’ view of how society ought to be, and what the good society is, and what will happen in the future, differs greatly from what many in the West live and propose.
So, how does the West respond, and according to which leaders and ideas?
Here he is in a VICE interview on the same subject:
As to the American response, I’m quite sympathetic to viewing the President thusly: Take the easy path of blaming your ideological enemies at home when the fruits of your foreign-policy decisions are borne. Elide over the radical Islamic nature of the threat which can cost people their lives and likely prohibits reasonable policy-making. Gloss over the humanitarian disaster Syria’s become, largely on your watch.
If necessary, double-down on your own policy positions and political coalitions (climate change is the real threat, peace is next, the Syrian mess will be solved by humanitarian means alone, that’s what ‘good’ people do).
‘From the standpoint of American interests and of the well being of the Syrians, the primary responsibility that the United States has toward the people of Syria is not to offer asylum to something like 0.25 percent of its refugee population. The primary duty of this country was to prevent such a disaster from happening and, failing that, to support in-country safe havens and relief operations. No doubt President Obama and the unthinking press zealots who applaud his every move prefer a conversation about why ordinary Americans are racist xenophobes to one about why President Obama’s Syria policy has created an immense and still expanding disaster.’
Now that Pamela Geller (plenty of conspiratorially inclined content and some truth at the link) has become an Islamist target, perhaps we can say the following: Islam still has a large following. Radical Islam still has a smaller but significant following, and through IS, Al Qaeda, social media, questionable imams, online chat rooms etc. is still able to radicalize followers to action. The debate in the U.S. has drifted more multicultural (Left) recently, and so Pam Geller might likely find many fewer Americans standing up for her right to speech, no matter her views.
You may recall hearing about Lars Hedegaard, former Marxist, admirer of our 1st amendment, and founder of Denmark’s Free Press Society. He’s still under police protection, having written on many occasions that Islam itself is part of the problem. Naturally, he’s become a target for costly legal battles on charges of racism. He’s also been marked for death by some Islamists, joining a long list of those who have become targets of righteous Islamist anger.
“The assassin came to his home dressed as a postman. When the historian and journalist Lars Hedegaard opened his front door, the man — whom Lars describes as ‘looking like a typical Muslim immigrant’ in his mid-twenties — fired straight at his head. Though Hedegaard was a yard away, the bullet narrowly missed.’
Our own ‘beloved’ NY Times, begrudgingly supportive of Hedegaard’s cause, ran a story calling him an ‘anti-Islamic provacateur.’
‘However, as Mr. Hedegaard’s own opinions, a stew of anti-Muslim bile and conspiracy-laden forecasts of a coming civil war, came into focus, Denmark’s unity in the face of violence began to dissolve into familiar squabbles over immigration, hate speech and the causes of extremism.’
Having read many of Hedegaard’s articles, I can say he is highlighting uncomfortable truths upon a factual basis with an historical outlook. I can’t say I agree with the idea that Islam is entirely incompatible with Europe, nor entirely with his outlook, but it’s a no-brainer to stand up for his right to speak. Here is a good response to the Times article.
There’s no doubt the multiculturalist orthodoxy too easily allows what Christopher Hitchens’ termed ‘one-way multiculturalism:’ The apologetic European’s invitation to recently arrived Muslims to go full Muslim or join the perpetually aggrieved; isolating themselves in growing enclaves, loosely tethered to their host countries with vague notions of human rights and soft Marxist solidarity. Many young men remain underemployed, some in and out of criminal activity, drifting on the margins, looking for someone to be. Many of the Islamic enclaves have people in them quite attuned to the old ways back in Pakistan, Algeria, Syria etc.
Here, some feel emboldened to adopt increasingly Islamic dress and identity, while maintaining higher birth rates as their populations grow steadily. Suddenly, the well-meaning, less-fecund Europeans are confronted with face veils, full burqas, and claims for Sharia law. Their brows furrow. Their hearts race. What happened?
The most dangerous scenarios unfold when some of those young, Muslim men join up with radical Islam as a global cause, or go to join IS, then come back unemployed, radicalized and with a horrific new skill set and commitment to action.
If someone like Hedegaard comes along, they stow him uncomfortably away. He’s upset the apple-cart. If he’s lucky, he can drum up public support enough to censure the Islamists who come calling.
The celebration of all faiths and all tribes equally under an expansive liberal State fighting for social justice, equality of outcome, and multicultural inclusion is not necessarily a desired outcome. A class of professional journalists, social scientists, academics and cultural critics who will oversee the forward march to peace and progress under the banner of multiculturalism has downsides.
R.I.P. Nathan Cirillo. Thoughts and prayers to his family, as he was the Canadian soldier killed by a lone gunman likely motivated by that gunman’s recent conversion to Islam.
Just a few doors away from the gunman’s path was today Canada’s Wednesday caucus, apparently including the Prime Minister and his party in a room on one side, and the opposition in a room on the other.
It’s a small world after all. Crazed, possibly self-radicalizing morons seeing themselves as part of a global ideological and religious struggle just need to be included in the ‘community’…
‘In its response to my column on my relationship with the Federalist Society’s speakers bureau, the Federalist Society claims that it continues to host events on the same topic that got me dropped from their list—challenging hardline feminist doctrines on “rape culture” and rape legislation—and speakers who share the same “basic perspective” as mine.’
This blog tries to focus on feminist ideology and its discontents; the warmed-over and mainstreamed activists, the utopians (flip-side totalitarians as you can bet there’s a moral framework and human nature under all the power theories and bad incentives)…the radicals who keep doing radical things.
I think there ought to be a more honest brokering of the costs to having such folks drive debate, as well as more sunlight disinfecting what is often just re-hashed critical theory, an ideology celebrating victimhood and denigrating its capitalist oppressors.
The personal ain’t political, and let’s face it, much of this logic doesn’t often lead to liberal places, even if it has meant more freedom for some, and likely, many women, in many cases.
Such people, similar to religious zealots and various other true-believers, need to be put continually into their proper context.
The jihadis from the West probably feel pressure to prove they’re not ‘soft,’ and various other mostly younger men from around the Muslim world probably have as many reasons as there are jihadis: Glory, honor, boredom, slave women, bloodlust, adventure etc.
‘At least Marxism had a patina of rationality, and most of its adherents (in the West at any rate), while not averse to violence in the abstract, were willing to postpone the final, extremely violent apocalypse to some future date and did not believe that by blowing themselves up or cutting people’s throats they would ascend directly to the classless society or meet Marx in his pantheon. You could be a martyr in the Marxist cause, but only on the understanding that death was final. The best you could hope for was that, after the final victory of the proletarian revolution, you would have a postage stamp issued in your memory.’
From another piece of his on many a Western intellectual (many multiculturalists are leftover ideologues with no place to go, and so can have a very difficult time seeing some of the connections between their ideology and that of the jihadis, always claiming the moral equivalence and evil of all religions of their ideological enemies, while they claim all the light, right, and progress).
Here’s a sentence you don’t come across every day:
‘Clearly the example of a transsexual Muslim airline pilot was meant as a reductio ad absurdum and not as a real or actual concern.’
And just to frustrate matters more, because the goal is often to think, and then act, if one must. Samuel Huntington was a previously loyal FDR Democrat who often thought for himself:
“The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.”
–Samuel Huntington (wikipedia). The quote is from The Clash Of Civilizations and is fairly well known, and I’m sure intelligently disagreed with.
Political Order In Changing Societies info here, a book likely worth your time.
‘If the U.S. government can organize itself to devise and propagate the right message, from the right voices, to the Islamic and Arab worlds, while at the same time diminishing al-Qaeda’s voice in cyberspace, then there is a good chance we can end al-Qaeda’s recruiting success. As things stand today, voices for moderation and non-violence are still being drowned out by the overwhelmingly larger number of militant voices in cyberspace and elsewhere’
Our authors claim that public support in the Muslim world is low at the moment, as Al-Qaeda tended to kill a lot of Muslims in Iraq. Sure, there’s sentiment for Al-Qaeda’s cause in the Muslim world, but it’s a fanatical fighting force that can turn on anyone.
Our authors argue we should use this bad PR against them in a change of strategy, especially in the hothouse chat rooms of Islamist solidarity and righteous vengeance.
I wonder if this Isn’t a re-hash of the ‘moderate’ Muslim argument?
Even if so, does it line up with what’s going on on the ground and can it work?
How do we best meet our objective of preventing attacks on our soil, and further, on our interests and allies?
Addition: A friend says we’re writing checks we can’t cash in the Middle-East. Islamism thrives when there’s so much discord in the region.
‘I decided to try an experiment: I would spend seven days creeping through the Internet using disposable IP addresses, inhabiting the milieu of radical sites and Facebook pages. In Manhattan coffee shops, on subway platforms, between tasks at work, I would take up residence in the darkest corners of the Web—and see what I could learn about the fetid swamps where self-made jihadists are allegedly born.’
Lots and lots of photos of violence from the ‘front lines.’ One of his conclusions:
‘After my week among the online jihadists, it seemed unlikely to me that their corner of the Internet could immediately capture an undamaged soul. There were no appeals to reason here, and the content seemed intended for the already converted.’
Hopefully, this is what blogs are for, to get ideas out in the open where they can walk, or crawl their way along:
Interestingly, one of the few policy issues Washington and Moscow agree upon is terror. Moscow has been cracking down hard, and the Chechen uprising has been striking back. Many Russians are all too familiar with this bloody conflict.
Addition: Well, of course Putin’s going to exploit this for his own ends, but on balance, there’s very little else on which we find agreement with Russia. Musharraf played us too, and paid the price in Pakistan.
This blog would like to focus on two issues surrounding the bombing: The limits of secular humanism, multiculturalism, diversity and their political and ideological interests regarding the Marathon bombing, and a suggestion for how reasonable people could think about Muslim immigration to the U.S (a bit differently than other immigrants).
1. Clearly, from the facts being gathered, the elder Tsarnaev, Tamerlan, was increasingly embracing his Muslim faith, refraining from alcohol, converting his wife, and seeking to live an increasingly Muslim life. This increasingly isolated him from much of life in America. A good Muslim man expects his wife to act accordingly, and I’ve had experiences with two other Muslim men in the U.S. estranged from their wives, and charged with assault against them (both minor assaults, not beheadings).
Muslim societies place high emphasis on male honor and duty, both in the home and in the public square where the mosque dominates. Men meet with shame in the ‘community’ if a wife, children or other members of the family stray too far from the faith. There are a series of social norms and traditions stemming from the faith. It’s not up for debate if your wife wants to drive, get a job, or leave the house uncovered. It’s law in many countries. That law comes from God.
Men call most of the shots and enforce this law, and expect a certain amount of submission. Beyond this, it’s also not up to any of them whether or not they will have sex outside of marriage, drink, smoke or go to strip-clubs, especially amongst the hard-liners (of course, people still do, but can be punished severely, especially if the hard-liners make and enforce the law). This is law from God, also. It begins in submission. There is an Islamist resurgence going on in much of the Muslim world.
Living in Western societies makes it very difficult indeed to maintain the faith, customs, norms and traditions for many Muslim men, especially those traveling back and forth. Something often gives. They have to stay flexible.
I see Islam as a platform from which further radicalization can occur in a small percentage of Muslim men. In the Tsarnaev case, I speculate that his being Chechen, and the Chechen role in places like Syria and joining the Islamic resurgence played heavily into the Marathon bombing. It wasn’t just Islam, but it was Islam combined with his ethnic identity, his homeland and his cause.
Radical Islam was a further avenue to be explored in his case. Al Qaeda (everywhere and nowhere) is more like a franchise, and the siren call of those radical videos echoes in certain ears. There are thousands of others who hear this song and activate at some point, joining the front lines, ready to murder. They can be well-educated, intelligent, and quite familiar with the West. Al Qaeda provides them with practical training, videos, equipment and sends them off to their deaths.
Now, in a multiculturalist society aiming for secular human ideals, simply expecting Islam to fit neatly on the shelf next to Christianity and Judaism and other religions isn’t satisfactory, as this event highlights, especially in a globalized world.
You’d think we would learn from Great Britain’s example.
I see ‘tolerance’ and ‘diversity’ as bounded concepts, which function like ideologies in our public square, creating political and cultural identities and allegiances. In turn, adherents demand loyalty against common enemies beneath ideas presumed to be universal.
As someone who routinely stands up against collectivist principles which I believe have troubled relationships with the individual and with liberty, it’s become a common theme on this blog to highlight such folks (many on the Right have authoritarian impulses and can degenerate into wanting to control everyone else through mostly bad laws too, and like the Weather Underground and animal rights nuts can resort to terrorism and violence as well, but that’s for another discussion).
Islam itself is a religious and political project based on tribal and sometimes even nomadic life. Many Muslims identify most strongly with other Muslims, and there’s fellow-feeling in the Muslim world for the cause of other Muslims. We should keep in mind that Islam hasn’t undergone an Enlightenment nor a Reformation. There’s a lot of tribalism out there. There’s no central authority like Rome. Apostates aren’t tolerated. Some Muslims shift like the sands to new fronts, defending the faithful, taking up arms amongst outnumbered locals. Al Qaeda is sometimes the most organized, well-trained group among them. Some places like Somalia, Yemen, Mali, Afghanistan, the FATA region of Pakistan, harbor these terrorists who plan attacks on our soil. That’s why we are essentially at war, using our military, security and intelligence agencies and violent force, if necessary.
We’ve got to make deals with the most stable Muslim countries out there.
Sure, there are ‘moderate’ Muslims, with families, who want jobs, who have daily lives, who are generous and hospitable. Sure, they can be worth knowing and befriending. Sure their religion has deep wisdom and traditions worthy of respect. Sure, they have a long history, and legitimate grievances. Sure there are injustices and perceived injustices to rail against.
Eventually though, there is conflict between their faith and the modern world and the West. They resolve this conflict in many ways, and I believe the context of a multicultural society is obviously insufficient for these resolutions to occur without glossing over the violence. We want to still maximize and maintain our freedoms and defend ourselves first.
This connects to point number two:
2. I think the American right and the American Left get a lot wrong about this state of affairs. This is by no means a call for any sort of incitement against Muslims in America, as most of them are assimilating fairly well, which I credit to having a more open and dynamic economy and a Constitutional Republic which has no specific religious test for office, among other things. I also credit Muslims adopting the principles and ideals of America and the daily sacrifices we all make for each other, living alongside one another. There’s never a shortage of ignorance.
That said, only a fool would ignore the threat to our public square which a few Muslims are posing, and which a steady stream of radicalized and radicalizing Muslims will likely continue to pose. We are at war with a small, but active portion of the Muslim world who take their fight to our streets. This needs to be fought against as effectively as possible (a task at which we often fail, and will likely fail again). This threat can come from within our society, or at least from those quite familiar with it, living among us. It can come from far away.
I’m not sure what the best way forward is, but I’m pretty sure I know how some people will react, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be sufficient.
Any thoughts and comments are welcome.
Addition: An interesting post here utilizing Bayesian statistics. A very small percentage of Muslims radicalize. In the wake of a terror attack, and more generally, we want as many people as possible against terrorism, including Muslims, especially those living in America:
‘People, being more suspicious of Muslims in the many, many situations when they don’t need to be, are also more suspicious in the few situations where they actually do need to be. If only we could keep those appropriate suspicions, lose the inappropriate ones, and somehow figure out how to flag white supremacists as well, we’d be in business.’
Of course, there is a rational defense of a position which has political implications. Yet, the people most likely to know if a Muslim is radicalizing are other Muslims around him, after all.
The point I wanted not to lose in the multicultural fog is that there is a path for Muslims to radicalize, and their faith plays an important part. Some may call it a bastardized version of Islam, but even Islam itself has not created a separation of church and state, free speech, and a broad platform of individual liberties. It’s not called ‘radical Islam’ for nothing. The actual numbers, however, may not warrant blanket suspicion.