Thursday, February 03, 2011

Knowing the enemy

From American Thinker:

Philosopher and historian of science Thomas Kuhn is among the more notable proponents of the view that "facts" are always laden with theoretical presuppositions.  This may be an exaggeration, but there is nothing like commentary on Middle Eastern affairs to show that it is not devoid of truth. 

Almost everyone on the left, and some on the right, insist that Islamic hostilities toward America stem from America's support of the state of Israel; That is, ultimately, it is the existence of Israel that accounts for why Muslims throughout the Middle East (and elsewhere) hate us.  For the leftist, however, Israel is just the latest chapter in a long history of "oppression" that Muslims -- "people of color" -- have experienced for over a millennium. 

The conventional wisdom among establishment Republicans is that Islamic aggression toward America is due solely to "the radical Islamists'" contempt for "our freedoms," a disdain born of an ignorance to which "the democratization" of the Islamic world would be an antidote.  Within recent days, much of the Republican commentary on Egypt has reflected this bias.

These competing positions on the question of the West's relationship to Islam are as long on ideology as they are short on reality, for they each fail to take seriously the elephant in the room: Islam. 

It isn't that they are wrong, necessarily.  There can be no question that legions of Muslims resent the existence of Israel -- and the support that the latter receives from the United States.  It is also doubtless correct that similar numbers of Muslims despise the cultural and political arrangements of America and the West.  But because neither view recognizes the other, what truth each possesses is obscured.

It doesn't require much familiarity with the Islamic tradition, and the Quran in particular, to discover that Islam is an intrinsically militant religion.  It demands even less familiarity with the contemporary experience of Muslims throughout the world to realize that true Islam calls on its adherents to conquer, or destroy, all non-Muslims. 

I will not embark upon the enterprise -- well-accomplished by now, thanks to such brave souls as Robert Spencer, Brigitte Gabriel, and others -- of quoting the many passages from the Quran that substantiate this point.  But however unpleasant a thought this may be, it is a reality. 

Anyone seriously concerned with coming to terms with "the nature of our enemy" must give up all of this silly talk of "Islamofascists," "Islamonazis," "Islamists," "radical Muslims," and "Islamic extremists."  The "enemy" -- and anyone who looks upon me as an "infidel" to be converted or killed I do indeed consider my enemy -- is the orthodox Muslim.  America and the West are in conflict with "Quranic literalists" -- or "Islamic fundamentalists," if you will -- and no one else.

Interestingly, in refusing to take the Islamic fundamentalist at his word, the leftist betrays his own "Eurocentrism" -- those parochial proclivities that he deplores in others -- for he judges Muslims not by their own standards, by his own.

Self-avowed "conservatives," on the other hand, are no less guilty of contradicting themselves.  In staunch contrast to their leftist counterparts, conservatives have always been keenly aware of the fact that culture is fundamentally, ultimately more important to human life than politics. To borrow the Marxist's idiom, culture is "the substructure," politics "the superstructure."  Yet in ignoring the "second nature" with which the religion of Islam has clothed the inhabitants of the Islamic world, in treating the problems of the Middle East as if they were primarily a matter of political arrangements, "the conservative" has betrayed his own position.

If we really want to take our situation seriously, it is high time that we left ideology behind.

I have made this point myself.  Osama bin Laden is a "better" Muslim - if we define "better" as taking the Koran seriously, believing it literally and obeying the commands of the founding prophet - than any Muslim "moderate".

This is why genuine reform in Islam is going to be nearly impossible.  When Martin Luther and the other Christian reformers confronted the Roman Catholic Chruch of their day they had the advantage of the fact that the Bible was on their side.

Luther, Calvin and the others were working to strip away centuries of human tradition that had become attached to the Church and was very often in contradiction to scripture.  The Muslim reformer, on the other hand, must convince his fellow Muslims to adopt an interpretation of the Koran and other Islamic scripture which is flatly contradictory to its plain meaning and at serious odds to the example set by the "prophet" Mohammad.

Frankly speaking this is probably an impossible task.  At least as things stand now.

Too many people in the West, conservatives included, believe that if we can just raise the Muslim standard of living they will forget about jihad.  If we can just introduce them to iPods, flat screen TV's and premium movie channels that, along with a good secular education and a good paying job, will turn them into clones of modern Americans or Europeans.

Of course people who hold that opinion are at a loss to explain the Ft. Hood shooter who had an excellent American education and access to all the cultural blandishments America has to offer and still chose to murder as many fellow Americans as possible while shouting "god is great" in Arabic.

They also have trouble explaining how the 19 9/11 hijackers were able to live in the US for years and have plenty of money to throw around, and even spend the evening of 9/10 in a strip joint getting lap dances, and still go forth to fly planes into buildings.

How could spending years immersed in American society with all of our freedom and affluence, not to mention leggy blondes who put out at the drop of a hat - this was Florida after all - not have turned these men into supporters of American culture rather than blood enemies?

The fact is that there are many Muslims, some who live in poor Middle Eastern nations and have only the education they received in mosque, and some who live in the Middle East but who have traveled extensively in the West and have high quality Western educations and some who live lives of affluence in the West itself, who take their religion seriously enough to do what it commands. 

And the command of the Islamic religion is to wage jihad against the infidel, killing those who will not convert.

That is how the prophet lived his life and that is how the Islamic caliphate became a great world empire in the years after Mohammad's death and it is that era which a great many Muslims look back upon as a golden age and wish to recreate.

Until the West comes to grips with the fact that it is Islam itself which is the enemy we will be fighting the current war blindfolded and with one hand tied behind our backs.