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Fundamentalism Trumps Moderation. That is Islam’s Problem.

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By Walter Donway

November 17, 2015

 

–In any sustained debate the most consistent side will win…

 

“Is ISIS Islamic?”

Wait, don’t go away. I don’t intend to add to the growing library of comments on that topic. But I do have to address it, at least briefly, to get on with what I want to discuss: What is the appeal of ISIS?

Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail.

Or, more broadly, what is the appeal of the Islamic fundamentalist movement stirring in the Middle East—what is called the Salafi movement, the ultra-conservative orthodox movement within Sunni—majority—Islam? This is the movement that in Saudi Arabia is called “Wahabism” and aspires to emulate the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers, rejecting all religious innovation and supporting implementation of sharia or Islamic law. This is, in short, what is causing all the trouble.

Long before the coldly subhuman massacre in Paris two days ago, the issue of Islam at large versus its extremist break-away groups was shaping European debate over admitting tens of thousands of Muslim refugees fleeing the war in Syria. Was Europe admitting a tidal wave of adherents to a religion that in its most basic tenets rejects the free, democratic, largely secular, and multicultural society that European nations embrace?

The debate became pointed, to say the least, when the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, claimed “credit” for the atrocity on the streets of Paris.

As I see it, there are three positions on the question: Is ISIS Islamic?

  1. Yes, the tenets of ISIS have scriptural roots in the Koran and in the writings of Mohammad’s followers. This position is represented in perhaps the most widely read and cited contemporary commentary on the topic, an article in The Atlantic on March 15, 2015, by Graeme Wood, entitled “What is the Islamic State?” Reportedly, the article is now the most read and cited article in the history of The Atlantic. Wood made this statement:

The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.

Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it.

 

  1. No, ISIS has virtually nothing to do with Islam. The most prominent proponent of this view is U.S. President Barrack Obama, who argued that ISIS betrays the “true peaceful nature of Islam,” representing only a deformed version of the religion. But Mr. Obama has plenty of scholarly support. In September 2014, more than 120 scholars of Islam wrote a letter to ISIS, expounding on the many ways the militant group defies the laws and obligations of Islam. Unfortunately, that does not refute the assertion that ISIS is Islamic because the scholars, being scholars, cite interpretations and modifications of Islamic doctrine over the centuries. But interpretations and modifications are exactly what ISIS rejects in the name of fundamental, “pure” salifism.

 

  1. Asking the question is irresponsible. On March 18 of this year, Elizabeth Bruenig, writing in the New Republic, entitled her article “Is ISIS Authentically Islamic? Ask Better questions.” She asks a question that many who cite the Koran and then proclaim “You can’t take the SLAM out of Islam”—that is, argue that obviously ISIS is pure Islam—should ask themselves: “What makes a literal, ahistorical reading of religious texts more authentic than a reading that incorporates context and historical consideration, as well as the readers’ sense of spiritual guidance?” Did you hear that? When you go in search of “true Islam,” what makes reference to the Koran, written more than 1500 years ago, a more reliable guide to the “real Islam” that what hundreds of millions of Muslims all over the world today profess and practice?

 

Bruenig’s entire article is worth reading. Consider just one more statement:

After all, even if ISIS is ‘Muslim’ because they use Islamic texts and incorporate some elements of Islamic history into their political practice, isn’t it possible they’re bad Muslims, heretical Muslims, or some sort of ‘lapsed’ Muslims—still Muslim, but without the broadly damning consequences of less qualified labels?

I’m going to go with this final statement. Scholars of Islam, including the most academic and respected, like those at the Middle East Forum, arrive at the conclusion that, yes, ISIS statements and practices are rooted in and regularly cite the accepted historical ideas of Islam. They even did so when they burned alive, at the stake, a Jordanian pilot who fell into their hands.

Which is most useful for dealing with Muslims today: the 1500-year-old historic roots or how Islam is practiced worldwide today?

Yes, ISIS is rooted in fundamental ideas and scripture of historic Islam, but those ideas and texts no longer shape how 1.4 billion Muslims around the world view and practice their religion. Which is most useful for dealing with Muslims today: the 1500-year-old historic roots or how Islam is practiced worldwide today?

But most of us, say in the United States, in particular, but even in France, with its significant Muslim population around Paris, have little familiarity with the beliefs and practice of Islam in our communities.  Living in New York City, where there are many mosques, I know not a single Muslim in the sense of being able to hold a simple conversation. They are invisible because like most of us they go about their day, and the practice of whatever religion they follow—if they follow any—and never impinge on our lives.

What we do know about is fundamentalist Islam. If we didn’t already, we do after this weekend. But we know not even about all of fundamentalism, because many Wahabists, for example, practice what is called “political quietism,” the rejection of involvement in politics. What we know about Islam is that there are groups like al Qaeda and ISIS and that their militant adherents are committed to jihad against the West and the Western way of life.

It has been said that Muslims worldwide reject in horror the actions of these groups, which is true. And that the masses of refugees fleeing Syria for Europe are fleeing ISIS and its ilk. And yet, we are left with the question: To what extent do Muslims at large share the fundamental premises of ISIS? Why do a few thousands of young Muslim men and women from France and other parts of Europe leave behind their lives to go to join the ISIS jihadists? What possibly could move them to risk everything to join the new Islamic caliphate in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Libya committed on doctrinal grounds to murder, torture, rape, enslavement, and theft?

The question that since this weekend has lit up the Internet is how many of the non-militant Muslims already in Europe or now surging into Europe, sympathize at some level with the jihadists, the ISIS killers acting on the letter of law from the Koran? Will the ISIS thugs and killers move through a medium of their co-religionists who tacitly support them—wish them well without wishing to choose the path they have chosen?

That is the argument of those in Europe who would stop immigration, slam shut their borders to Muslim refugees, on the grounds that the threat is Islam as such—militant, quietist, or otherwise.

I do not have the answer, but I have an observation. Every religion, today, including Christianity and Judaism, has a big “fundamentalist” problem. Look at the rise of Christian fundamentalism in the United States—its growth and political power in recent decades—as well as Christian evangelical sects that are sweeping parts of America and much of South America. In Brazil, Christian evangelists are now shaping all laws concerned with religion, birth control, abortion.

The problem for Judaism? In America, where the Jewish fundamentalists are a minority of Jews—but the most rapidly growing sect—and are concentrated heavily in parts of New York City—there is as yet little or no assertion of political claims.

Exactly the opposite, however, is true in Israel, where the Jewish fundamentalists by whatever name are by far the most rapidly growing segment and now dominate Israeli politics. They are the mainstay of the electoral power of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They are the chief force for illegally settling the West Bank—the proposed future Palestinian state—and so foreclosing a “two-state solution.” And they are the political force advocating a “greater Israel” that would absorb the West Bank, all of Jerusalem, Gaza, and even, eventually, Jordan, which once was part of the British Palestinian mandate. When there are shootings of Palestinians, revenge killings, it usually turns out to be the fundamentalists.

What, then, is the appeal of the fundamentalists—Muslim, Christian, or Jewish—that draws away those raised in “reformed,” “liberal,” “moderate” religious sects? You know, the nice civilized ones.This is a philosophical question about how ideas over the long term compete with one another.

What, then, is the appeal of the fundamentalists—Muslim, Christian, or Jewish—that draws away those raised in “reformed,” “liberal,” “moderate” religious sects? You know, the nice civilized ones. Much has been written about the appeal of ISIS to young Muslims growing up in France or the United States. Writers appeal for explanation to poor opportunities for education, economic hardships, discrimination, and the search for “meaning.”

But what is the dynamic at work when one version of a religion’s core principles are competing with another version? For example, modern Islam versus ISIS?  Reformed Judaism versus Hassidic? Liberal Congregationalism versus Evangelicalism?

This is a philosophical question about how ideas over the long term compete with one another. The philosopher Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and originator of the philosophy of Objectivism offers us some extraordinary guidance in an essay entitled: “The Anatomy of Compromise.”

Isn’t this what concerns us? In the case of the major religions, first set forth many centuries ago—Judaism the oldest, Christianity next, and Islam most recent—we have seen long-term adaptation to the modern world, an adaptation over centuries. But periodically, and today, we see in all three religions a militant revolt against adaptation—against compromises with the modern world. That reaction is fundamentalism, a summons to return to basics, the roots, the fundamentals of a belief system.

Ayn Rand set forth three principles for understanding the dynamics of “compromise.” “In any conflict between…two groups…who hold the same basic principles, it is the most consistent one who wins.” And that is one explanation—an epistemological explanation.

In her essay, Ayn Rand set forth three principles for understanding the dynamics of “compromise.” I will quote all three for the sake of context, but focus on the first.

  1. In any conflict between two men (or two groups) who hold the same basic principles, it is the more consistent one who wins.
  2. In any collaboration between two men (or two groups) who hold different basic principles, it is the more evil or irrational one who wins.
  3. When opposite basic principles are clearly and openly defined, it works to the advantage of the rational side; when they are not clearly defined, but are hidden or evaded, it works to the advantage of the irrational side.

I submit to you that Islam, Christianity, and Judaism each embody “basic principles,” but, in each case, the modern version, today’s version, represents a compromise, an adaptation, a toning down vis-à-vis that religion’s fundamental historical principles. Does this position need to be argued? We all know that the Christian, Jew, or Muslim practicing his religion today—perhaps once a week, perhaps only on religious holidays—typically has shed many of commandments, duties, and beliefs that defined the religion when it was closer to its origins.

“In any conflict between…two groups…who hold the same basic principles, it is the most consistent one who wins.”

And that is one explanation—an epistemological explanation, rooted in the nature of knowledge and its demand for consistency, elimination of contradictions—for the powerful appeal of fundamentalism. By definition, “fundamentalism” goes back to the fundamentals, the core principles of a religion. And, in any sustained confrontation or debate with the modern “liberal,” “moderate,” “adapted” versions of the religion, the fundamentalist are most consistent. And, of over the long term, as the ideas and debates sort themselves out, the fundamentalists win.

This is one dynamic by which ISIS—and salifism more broadly–appeal to young Muslims. It is the appeal of evangelical fundamentalism to Christian youth; it is the appeal of strict Jewish orthodoxy to Jewish youth.

For it is the young, when they enter early adulthood, who most avidly challenge the beliefs of their upbringing. Challenge the creed of their parents. They are, as Ayn Rand said, “shopping around for a philosophy,” and they are sensitive to any hint of hypocrisy—e.g., any compromise with the basic principles their parents confessed.

Add to this another consideration: When any person feels he has lost his way in life he asks himself if he has been true to the ideas he has accepted. Parents and teachers who themselves practice a highly compromised version of their religion, nevertheless, when they turn to teaching the young, typically go back to the basic texts. They teach the fundamentals but practice them in a moderate, highly compromised version.

This makes fundamentalism a problem inherent in religion, religion as such. As long as we adhere to a religion, which, as a belief system, is defined by its fundamentals, we put ourselves in the position of competing with the fundamental version of what we may profess and practice in a highly liberalized form. And in that competition, we are fated to lose the argument to the fundamentalists. The only alternative is to give up the religion entirely and argue against the fundamentalism on other grounds—say, reason and science.

This leads to my final point. Why has Islam, today, had a crisis caused by its youth turning to fundamentals while Christianity and Judaism have not—at least to the same extent? Why do Muslim parents see their children run off to don explosive suicide vests, pick up rifles, and join the “army of God”?

Consider that both Christianity and Judaism passed through a historical period Enlightenment, an era, especially in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, when philosophy and science gravely and confidently challenged faith in the name of reason and science. Faced with that challenge, and unable to respond effectively, Christianity and Judaism survived by making concessions to reason, science, and the secular worldview. Today, in countries dominated by Christian and Jewish traditions, the choice presented to the young is not solely between the moderate/compromised and the fundamental versions of religion. These societies and their educational systems offer another well-established, respected, and well-represented choice. That choice is to adopt the worldview of reason, science, and secularism—and then, perhaps, make the choice about where religion, church going, may or may not fit into that secular worldview.

Islamic countries, as scholars have pointed out repeatedly, never experienced a modern era of enlightenment when reason and science dominated learning and intellectual life and openly and persistently challenged faith. Thus, with some exceptions—Turkey was touched by the French Enlightenment—Islamic countries do not offer the young the choice of reason, science, and the secular worldview versus religion. Many Islamic countries, especially in the Middle East, don’t teach secular philosophy and science that challenge Islam. Nor do they publish, or even permit, books on those subjects and other secular matters.

I submit that this is one compelling explanation why thousands of young Muslims are choosing “true religion” such as Wahabism over the compromise that is modern Islam. Where that is the only choice that is real to them, fundamentalism may appear to be the path of consistency and integrity.

In the end, this is a twisted tribute to man’s reason, his demand for internal consistency in his ideas, which favors the uncompromising “purity” of ISIS doctrine. The only way to save societies slipping toward religious fundamentalism is to stop arguing from the losing position of moderate, compromised versions of belief. Only by rejecting the fundamentals of all religion—faith, revelation, and projection of a separate spirit world superior to ours—can we defend the secular, scientific society—the society of reason—against the encroaching darkness of which ISIS is but the harbinger.

 

 

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  • Sally Jane Driscoll

    One might respond: “Don’t bother to examine a folly—ask yourself only what it accomplishes”: power over others.

  • Tallulahdahling

    A most valuable article. I’ve put it in my favorites and will likely share the link many times in my discussions about Islam.

    The greater trouble with Islamic fundamentals is that, unlike Judaism and Christianity, they demand the subjugation of *all the world* under Islamic rule, and this rule is to be achieved by Muslim action, including brutal warfare when necessary.

    • http://www.thesavvystreet.com/ Vinay Kolhatkar

      Thank you, Tallulahdahling.

  • Ed LeCore

    Agreed, so called “moderate” Islam is so incoherent, that it is only laziness, ignorance, cowardice or hypocrisy on the part of most Muslims that keep it going, and only then barely, as there is a vast middle ground where large percentages of the population of Muslim majority countries agree with many brutal Shariah edicts, (according to polls). All the spin and apologetics for “moderate” Islam can be debunked very easily by how clear and explicit the Koran and the Sunnah are on Jihad war and the draconian practices, but the real silver bullet is the example of Mohammed himself.

    There is no spin for that, cherry picked the parts where he isn’t massacring and raping his way across Arabia does nothing to negate the majority of the time he is. Such an example makes any attempt to interpret Koranic passages in a more benevolent light futile, given who and what he was, if it seems to be advocating violence, then it probably is. Mohammed is the gold standard, and it is the consistency this article highlights that must forever doom all of Islam, for there can never be a version where Mohammed is not present.

    Jefferson cut out all the supernatural parts from the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, but you can’t make such a line to separate out one set of earthy acts from another, just because some appall you. Evil deeds cancel out the good through mere citation, and arbitrary selection is easily spotted by the public. Add to that the doctrine of abrogation that makes the later, more violent passages in the Koran more authoritative than the earlier ones, and you always need significant external cultural pressures to avoid the marginalization of the few good elements of the religion. The moment such pressure of mostly western values subsides, 7th century bandit values will return. The worst part of this cycle, seen over the last 1400 yrs, has begun.

  • Elisheva Hannah Levin

    Altough Donaway gives an Objectivist explanation, his understanding of the basic history of Judaism as such is flawed. Judaism departed from the Israelite Temple Cult not during the European Enlightenment, but at the time of the three wars with Rome circa 65-135 CE, during which time the growing ideas of Rabbinic Judaism became the only Jewish movement due to the destruction of the second temple by the Romans. Rabbinic Judaism in all its forms is not fundamentalist and relies on the interpretation of texts that include not only the Torah, but several others, the most important of which is the Talmud. The Talmud itself is a document that preserves all opinions and encourages argument over meaning, arguments which have allowed Judaism to adapt to changing circumstances differently in the shifting centers of Jewish civilization. In this way, The Jewish intellectual tradition out of the West partakes of Western thought but is different from it. There is no orthodoxy in Judaism in the sense of Christian orthdoxy which requires right belief. Rather, Jewish orthdoxies (there has never been just one) relies on right practice. This is possible because there is less univeralism in Judaism than there is particularism. Although Jewish thought does include some univeral statements, in general, Judaism does not apply its ideas to all of humankind. For example, Jews do not look forward to a time when all humanity will follow Jewish law. In fact, the spectacle of non-Jews pronouncing the blessings over Torah, for example, is meaningless within Judaism, because non-Jews are not required to the commandments.

    I could say much more, but bottom line, Donaway’s lack of knowledge about Jewish history and self-understanding make me wonder if he got either Christianity or Islam right. Fortunately, his whole argument does not fall apart, but some of it is suspect because he has not studied the intellectual traditions of either Judaism or Islam, nor does he recognize how much the Westerrn Enlightenment depended on certain trends in The intellectual tradition of Western Christianity, and where It departed from Judaism. I think he is onto something here, but his stereotyped view of religion causes him to create a straw man he calls religion, and weakens his argument.

    • Ed LeCore

      Yes his model of Judaism lacks understanding of the post bar Kokhba mind set, but the overall thesis is correct psychologically, greater care needs to be taken on differentiating between the three Abrahamic monotheisms, its so common to want to make them too similar. The Left keep trying to whitewash Islam by assuming parallels with Christianity, while ignoring major differences like Islam’s explicit legal and political systems, and polar opposite implications from the examples of their respective founders.

      • Michael Philip

        there are plenty of parallels with Christianity. to suggest otherwise is pretty ignorant. Judiaism is not a pretty thing either.

    • http://www.thesavvystreet.com/ Vinay Kolhatkar

      Thank you for the comprehensive post, Elisheva. The Ashkenzi Jewish IQ is an unsolved riddle of humanity, but we have some clues it looks like. I read that Zoroastrianism was the father of the Abrahamic religions. I once spoke extensively with a Zoroastrian priest (baed in Dallas) who insisted that, outside the rituals, his religion was all about human progress, science and achievement. Their rituals seem similar to Judaism, and they did originate in Persia. Now I also spoke with a Hindu scholar, who insists that it is a monotheistic religion (the other Gods are manifestations of Brahman) and it too has nothing vile to say about departures and other religions (as in each is on his/ her quest for “moksha”, therefore there can be no scripture-based fundamentalism).

  • Elisheva Hannah Levin

    I was unable to continue typing for some reason.

    I conclude thus: Judaism had its enlightenment at its inception, when it departed from the Israelite Temple Cult and became able to adjust to the changing fortunes of the Jewish people in its travels throughout the world. There is a reason that the Jewish people, though small, movexso well through Western Civilization and posess a huge influence on its science and arts. It is no accident that such a small people have earned such a large proportion of Nobel Prizes, for example.

    Judaism is what I know about, and it is not merely a religion. But the mischaracterization, and ahistorical stereotypes of it in Donaways’s argument make me wonder if he knows enough about either Christianity or Islam to make the comparisons he makes.

  • Walter Donway

    I do not how one can dispute that Jews went through a major period of “Enlightenment” in Europe. Or that there is Jewish fundamentalism. Those are the only premises of my argument on that score. I understand that the Jews in Babylonian captivity developed a great base of theory and knowledge, which certainly might be called Enlightenment, and then brought it back to part of Palestine. But that really doesn’t affect my argument. I am not a scholar of Judaism, but I have studied Jewish history.

  • RobertBidinotto

    I want to question, at least mildly, the form of Rand’s first claim: “In any conflict between two men (or two groups) who hold the same basic principles, it is the more consistent one who wins.” I used to believe that. Now, I would say: “Not necessarily.”

    It is true that fundamentalism — or what I would call “textual literalism” — usually offers a more logically coherent and consistent interpretation of a dogma’s fundamentals than does any liberal or moderate adaptation — or what I would call “contextualist application.” In every religion and most philosophies and ideologies one finds interpretative disputes between the literalists, who accept as true the literal words of the basic texts, and the contextualists, who believe that the texts offer instructive parables and metaphors that must be adapted to the circumstances of actual life. The eternal interpretive battle, in essence, is between those who see their doctrines — the abstract principles — as ends in themselves, to which individual believers must submit and sacrifice themselves, and those who see (sometimes only tacitly) life as an end in itself, and view the doctrines and abstract principles as practical guides to better living. It is a battle between those who see the sacred texts themselves as their entire world — and those who see the sacred texts as self-help guides to navigating the world around them.

    These two worldviews are less the product of systematic thinking than they are core psychological and emotional commitments: either to the world of abstractions, or to the world of concretes. “Conversions” between the two types of believers usually arise from deep dissatisfaction with one’s current position in either camp, and are often facilitated by the influence of family and friends. Logic seldom has much to do with those conversions and commitments, except to provide ex post facto rationalizations.

    For those reasons, I have little doubt that many moderate or “contextualist” Muslims would never be attracted to militancy and violence. They find meaning and purpose living in the world. They cling to their religion from a sense of its self-help utility and the community it affords them — not due to the logic of its abstract theology. The latter tends to appeal to souls adrift in society and searching for meaning, purpose, and identity. Fundamentalism — textual literalism — appeals to them because it offers clear, simple answers, a feeling of certainty, and a sense of identity.

    Rand herself was a woman alienated from the society in which she was born and raised. A genius, she had formidable powers of abstraction and a well-honed talent for logic. To the hammer, everything looks like a nail. To a philosopher, everything looks like an idea. It’s natural, I think, that she would lay emphasis upon the primacy of ideology as a motivational factor in people’s lives because, introspectively, she probably thought everyone else was like her: motivated primarily by ideas.

    So I disagree with her, and thus with Walter here, in stating that in any conflict between those professing the same principles, the most fundamentally consistent will win. That sounds to me to be a kind of philosophical determinism. The fact is that individuals possess volition. Most people often choose to reject the full logical implications of doctrines and dogmas to which they pay lip service, if they find that those implications threaten some deeply held value or clash with a life they enjoy. People are frequently inconsistent by choice, and they rationalize away their inconsistencies. They also rightly regard the fundamentalists in their midst as a personal threat. That’s because they realize, at some level, that in a world filled with dangerous ideologies and destructive religions, inconsistency can be a life saver.

    Our aim, I believe, should be to wage war with the violent fundamentalists, while extending an open hand of friendship and cooperation to those whose core commitment to life outweighs their commitment to their ideology. It’s not always easy to tell the difference. But the latter can be our most valuable allies in our war against the former.

    • http://www.thesavvystreet.com/ Vinay Kolhatkar

      Thank you for the comprehensive and considered response, Robert. I read it as Walter drawing from two distinct hypotheses here. The first is that the Randian principle (“who wins?”) is true. AS you say, it may not always be true. The second is that Rand explains the attraction of “pure” ideology to the young, i.e. why are at least some youth attracted to a consistent ideological framework as against what they see as a sell-out by their peers, parents, colleagues? The latter, I think, does have a powerful explanatory power. When tens of thousands of recruits, even from those who were born and bred in liberal societies (Belgium, France, England, Australia, the U.S. etc.), and not just young males, even females, run away from it all to martyrdom, it behooves us to check all the explanatory hypotheses about that silly media word–radicalization. The West has not only failed to consistently articulate what it stands for, thereby diminishing its magnetic power for the young, but it has even shied away from openly discussing the purity of Mohammad’s raping, pillaging, murderous past, making apostasy difficult even in western countries. Therein lies the solution, I think. To use your phraseology–‘if they find that contradictory implication’—there is an immense contradiction between pure Islam and “love of life” and we should be shouting it from the rooftops, not hiding it behind political correctness. Can “the latter be our most valuable allies” as you say at the end? Well…it’s the premise of my second novel.

    • Dale Netherton

      The Two Prong Attacks of Islam

      A false dichotomy is afoot. The notion that Islam is only composed of “Radical” extremists and the other Muslims are simply peaceful is actually a two prong effort to instill Sharia law by two methods of infiltration. First ,the one that gets the most attention is the bloody acts of killing and maiming witnessed most recently by the attacks in Paris. Here the suicidal fanatics demonstrate to the innocents and the muslim population at large how dedicated and ruthless they can be. Willing to blow themselves up to instill terror in the hearts of the innocents they simultaneously instill that same terror in the Muslims passively going along who dare not speak up against their fanatical brothers acting out the atrocities of Mohammad. This method of spreading Islam has been the strategy of Islamists from the first days of this religion. The objective of creating Sharia law and the killing of infidels, the worldwide conquest of all nations, and the establishment of a caliphate drive this movement.

      Once the terror is established by the fanatics the road is clear for the passive Muslims to make their move by infiltration and non-assimilation into countries primarily of another persuasion. Relying on the altruism and fear of their victims, mobs of Muslims take over by majority as in the town of Poleville Michigan. It is equivalent to a mopping up operation after the blitzkrieg of the fanatics. This follow up movement must be reinforced by periodic acts of violence and terror to reinforce the followers belief that the movement is inevitable.

      Americans and many others have not wised up to this approach and have excused the followers as deserving of innocence. The taking over of pockets of formerly non-muslim areas proves otherwise.

      If you couple this approach with a willingness to lie to promote Islam you have a potent objective that can only be stopped if it is recognized as the devious monstrosity it is. The intellectual defense of claiming islamaphobia when “innocent followers” are accused of compliance to this spread of Islam works well in a country willing to give the benefit of the doubt and turn the other cheek .

      This war is a different war than those of the past. It is not a war of identified enemies with uniforms and national loyalty. It is a war of subversives willing to connive and infiltrate, perform suicidal carnage and simultaneously slither into the population of the unsuspecting in two different forms. One is the fanatic and one is the follower but both have the same objective and only perform differently to obtain this goal.

      The term radicalized has real meaning when the follower becomes the fanatic. Passively infiltrating and avoiding assimilation is a more subdued method so those who want to speed up the process and inspire the followers to comply become who we call “ radicalized” which means they are now of the fanatic class and will do violence to intimidate and strike terror.

      So what is to be done in such a war? First identify the strategy for what it is and realize how attitudes and mores are affecting our ability to counteract the movement. Calling the followers innocent is a major mistake. When the followers do not denounce the fanatics you can be sure they are being compliant. How many Muslims did you see condemn the killings in Paris?

      This logically leads to the need to identify and root out those who are plotting against the people who are innocent. The source of propaganda is wherever the notion of a caliphate and Muslim dominance is taught. These centers whether in America or the Middle East or the Far East must be targeted as seeds of conquest and infiltrated and monitored and/or destroyed. Hiding behind the “sacredness” of a religious temple or sanctuary is only another tool the true Muslims hide behind just as they hide behind women and children in battle.

      Once the enemy knows we are onto their game, the game is over. When they talk we know they lie. When they seek peace we know they seek dominance. When they claim innocence we know they only use a different method to overtake us. When they cry discrimination, we simply tell them we discriminate against all criminal behavior. We need to give no quarter to this enemy that is doing everything it can to overtake us. They think they are being clever but the identification of their methods and connivance puts us in the position of strength they fear. Once they know that we know what they are up to, trepidation will begin, doubt will spread and the cleverness they were sure was undecipherable will disappear. Know your enemy is the first requirement of victory.

  • Walter Donway

    Naturally, Ayn Rand’s claim that in any sustained debate between two groups that espouse the same basic principles, the group espousing them most consistently will win, has a context. And she provided it in another statement. At any given time, only perhaps 10 percent of people are potential intellectual leaders, who actively grapple with philosophy and its implications–and, especially, the role of ideas in the world, in life. The rest, she said, are “ballast,” shifting according to the intellectual climate created by the 10 percent. This would imply that the great majority of believers in any creed, religion, will more of less passively accept what they were taught or have absorbed from their parents and the culture, what their “church” taught. They are not the ones who actively challenge beliefs and so are respond to the consistency of competing viewpoints; they are the ballast. So, in discussing Ayn Rand’s principle of “who will win” in a sustained disagreement, we are talking about competition for the 10 percent. Win the majority of them to your viewpoint and the ballast eventually will shift. That, of course, is why she put all her hopes for success of Objectivism on eventual change in the colleges and universities, where the young “shop” for their philosophical worldview, then go on cruise control for the rest of their lives. It is why she appealed over and over again to the “intellectuals,” because only the 10 percent count in the direction of the world. Any active advocate of Objectivism knows, or learns soon, that the majority of people he meets in life are seemingly deaf to the whole world of abstract ideas. Indeed, I have known people who like novels to read “Atlas Shrugged,” finish it, and say, “Wow, that was an exciting story. Really love Francisco and Dagny.” “Oh, great…and um…?” No response to the ideas. No agreement or disagreement. Deaf. And thus we read that the leaders of ISIS are intensely obsessed with doctrine and the purity of Islam by the measure of the Koran–rejecting any scholarship, reform, or interpretation that followed in centuries since. They are violently shaking awake the mass of Muslims from their sleep of passive acceptance of modern practice and summoning them to ideological purity, the true way, the path of righteousness. They are the Bolsheviks in the sea of moderate “democratic” socialists–and when the Bolsheviks won, they eliminated the socialists first–the competition. It goes without saying that 100 percent of recruits to ISIS, including from Europe, are young, in their early 20’s, the age of shopping around, the age at which many of us discovered Objectivism and made it a lifelong commitment. When Hitler came to power, all the Nazi leaders were in their 30’s; Hitler was the old man in his early 40’s. It is notable that those who become committed to an extreme, fundamental worldview–like Objectivism, Bolshevism, the Wahabism of ISIS–are willing to follow it wherever it leads–to destinations the mass of men either reject in horror or view as just unrealistic idealism. And that is true of Objectivism as the Salafist doctrines of ISIS. The CONTENT of extremist ideas counts a LOT–indeed, in the end, shapes the direction of the world.

  • Texian36

    Walter, interesting discussion and thanks for including me. My takeaway is that some religions clearly are better than others, and that the proof can be seen in the societal pudding. Some religions foster a culture that respects individual rights and the rule of law. Their societies are innovative, productive, and prosperous. Meanwhile, other religions foster cultures that grossly violate individual rights. Their societies are ridden with violence, stagnation, misery and poverty. Christianity and Judaism exemplify the former, and Islam the latter.

  • Houx

    Christian evangelists are now shaping all laws concerned with religion, birth control, abortion, but isn’t this saving lives? Instead ISIS is just out for killing. Your thesis is stupid to compare the two. You lose and may ISIS get you too.