Almost every day there is an article by some academic, journalist, or blogger on how to defeat the ISIS. Many attempt to understand the appeal of the ISIS to Muslims, ( or try to convince the reader that they have some new in-depth knowledge of the Islamist threat.)Most take great pains to differentiate political Islam or Islamism, Jihadism, or especially the ISIS, from Islam the religion. There is a great deal of confusion on this point and sometimes the difference becomes diffuse and an academic minefield. The danger of equating the two is to risk destroying one’s academic credentials within the academic or scholarly world. Being labeled an “islamophobe” in the ultra politically correct world of academia is the kiss of death, at least if you want to be invited to the academic galas and forums. For certain you will not be on the main stream media short list for “experts.”
Andrew Mc Carthy is a writer for the National Review. He was previously a prosecuting attorney for the southern district of New York. As such he was the prosecuting attorney in the World Trade Center Bombing conspiracy trial in i993. Ironically I was a defense witness (under subpoena, of course, by the defense attorney for Elie Nosair, one of the 10 defendants) I have written about this trial in a previous blog so will not elaborate here. (see my earlier blog) McCarthy is often labeled as an Islamophobe because he basically believes that Islam itself is the problem. I disagree with him in this sense; In my experience, over the years in the Arab world, it was not always that way. I never really viewed Islam as a threat to the West. It was rampant aggressive Arab nationalism or communism, but not Islam. Arab nationalism of the sixties and seventies was always inimical to U.S. interests and Islam was seen as a basically anachronistic relic of the past.
But in viewing the current environment, I do agree with McCarthy in the context of Islam as it is being taught promoted and inculcated today. It does constitute a threat to the Western concept of a civil society. Singling out the ISIS or “Jihadism” or Al Qeaeda as the threat is highly misleading and dangerous. It dilutes the more menacing threat. More menacing in that it is not violent and much more insidious.
Today apparently the more liberal see the fact that most Muslims oppose the violence of the ISIS as proof that all is well, but that is highly misleading. The same polls indicate that tolerance or respect for other religions is always lower among Muslims. Many view the weak responses of the West to atrocities and expulsion of non Muslims from the Their native lands in the Middle East as proof of their God -given superiority. This is supported by the illogical ultra left that seems to take great pleasure believing ” Christian America ” is dying. It is an ultra racist view but finds currency today in intellectual circles.
The main threat today is the Islamist supremacists. They are everywhere , the percentage I do not claim to know but they are numerous, sometimes including your Muslim neighbors who seem friendly and have the mom and pop food stores , or work in the medical profession. They are law abiding, work hard, pay their bills, take care of their families. But in too many of their homes it is a different matter. At home they are Islamic triumphalists and supremacists. They demand their children conform to strict outwardly Islamic customs, especially girls, inculcating the current Islamist belief that their American neighbors are immoral and corrupt. The children are constantly exhorted to keep a certain distance to avoid contamination. The young are taught ( at home and in that Mosques) that their American neighbors, however friendly they may seem, are unbelievers and must be regarded with vigilant suspicion. The father demands that the sons constantly spy on their sisters to ensure no occasions of impropriety. Any protests from the girl is met with accusations of being a slut, and threats of being expelled from the family. In the close knit Arab Muslim family such a threat is worse than death. Family is everything. Even if the girl has the courage to make the break she will, on occasion be overwhelmed with guilt. In some countries honor killings still happen and in the Islamic world, the perpetrators are socially applauded and the civil authorities only punish with a slap on the wrist.
These modern day patriarchs inculcate a disdain for all things un Islamic …. other religions, secular living Muslims, or Muslims , such as the Ahmadiyas , anything different from the traditional concept of Islam. Within the family the patriarchs use mind conditioning to create a sort of pavlovian response to anything considered to be “un Islamic.” Especially that relates to the outward appearances, particularly dress for women and habits that many would Western secularists often regard as comically hypocritical and false. This includes girls wearing hijabs but wearing the tightest of jeans imaginable. ( Go check out the Galleria in Tyson’s Corners some evenings). It is all predicated, not so much on morality and certainly not spirituality, but rather “what will our friends think”?
The hypocrisy particularly includes the male oppression or domination of women while demanding very little of themselves. On the beaches of the Arab counties one observes men in disgustingly immodest speedo bathing trunks while their women are covered head to foot. Some Muslim women would say that they prefer it way. No doubt that is true but in many ( if not most) cases it is a matter of avoiding harassment by Muslim men. I saw that in Cairo. Men demand their women wear the hijab, not because they are particularly religious, but because they will be taunted by their male relatives as being weak. Mostly I think it is consequence of the mind conditioning mentioned earlier, or in many cases, It has a similar effect as the Stockholm syndrome. You begin to agree with your oppressors. For many young men in the West, making the hijab mandatory for their women has become sort of a middle finger to Western civilization.
As a very sharp Muslim lady expressed it to me, the Hijab has become more of a social custom than a religious garment but not wearing it exposes a woman to harassment and denunciations as a whore. It has become just another device to “keep women in their place.”
In Egypt this has become particularly severe. It is an outward facet of Muslim Fundamentalism, wrapped around the issue of Sharia, or Islamic law, which has a number of inherent issues at odds with a secular civil society. Muslim fundamentalism is not intrinsically violent, but it goes far beyond the relatively trivial issue of women’s headgear. It governs every aspect of human life. At best it would require two systems of law; One for Muslims, and one for everyone else. At worst, in a Muslim dominated society, would require non Muslims to revert to the status of Dhimminis (second-class citizens) as they were for centuries. It has become a threat to almost every concept of personal freedom and a civil society. The Sharia, as it is being expressed from many mosques, is not a harmless concept of law that can be melded into a multi religious or secular society. It is antithetical to the very idea of equality and democracy, particularly in protection of the rights of religious or ethnic minorities, (or mute majorities) The application of the Sharia demands application of religious law that makes a civil society impossible. Without a civil society democracy has no chance.
What I found particularly disturbing to me all these years, is the apparent Muslim insensitivity to other peoples religious sensibilities, There is a term for Islamophobia but is there one for Christianophobia.? As an example, when I lived in Jordan my Jordanian army officer buddies would bring their girlfriends to my house to be safe from prying eyes. These girls were always introduced to me as being from Madaba, a subtle way of telling me they were Christian (which was by no means certain). At that time Madaba had a large Christian population, but like Christian all over the Islamic world they have mostly fled to the West). There was never a thought that implying “loose” girls had to be Christian would bother me. I can only imagine entering a Muslim home and doing the same with a Muslim girl.
Basically it exists because there is a real sense in The Islamic world that Christianity is an inferior system of beliefs centered around worshiping idols and statues. Moreover Christians who come into contact with Muslims generally fail to defend their Christian beliefs, especially these days in which devout adherence to religious beliefs in the West has largely disappeared; A huge problem for another blog posting. It is extremely ironic that the most liberal media, who attack any hint of Christian beliefs in the market place of ideas, are the most supportive of Islamist supremist ideas. They would be the first to suffer persecution in an Islamist environment.
I know many “Muslim intellectuals” and their numerous facilitators in the Western Academic community would disagree with me (if they read this, which of course they will not) . Writing this would put me in the “Islamophobe” category even though I know many Muslims are being silenced by intimidation and would agree with me, especially the educated women. I always vet any article I write with my Muslim friends to ensure I do not go over the top.
The irony of today’s politically correct government, media, and academia is that forward looking Muslims are not supported in the West. This entails a tacit surrender to extremism in the forlorn hope of appeasement. There are many Muslims who look for Western support for a more enlightened Muslim leadership but do not find it, especially in the current administration in Washington.
Unless there is a major reformation of Islam, especially within Sunni Islam, but also among the Shi’a to reject the Iranian totalitarian approach to Shi’ism (and their clerical establishment), any progressive change is doomed. The Sunni clerics have been bought or influenced by Wahhabi fundamentalism and the Shi’a clerics by Iranian threats and cash. Until these insidious movements are challenged and stopped. I see no possible change in the current increasing Islamic totalitarianism among the Muslims in the Islamic communities, and more dangerously, in the Western world.