Saturday, October 02, 2004
Snapshot of Islam
They say a picture is worth a thousand words.
Everyday, we are inundated with a barrage news of pictures, so perfectly edited and contrived, that we instinctively know how to emote. We see beyond the pictures, or so we think, and we are able to comprehend the issues that surround the photos and film.
Of course, nothing is further from the truth. News is no longer an honorable profession, it has it's own agenda. We think of news as slanted to either the Right or the Left- and if the news is reported accurately, someone is there to tell us it's really biased.
Some politicians, too, think a few glib words and catchphrases can provide the answers, or can reduce issues of the day to a simplistic slogan.
In this piece, I want to address the reality of of the challenge of our times, Islam and the impact it is having on our lives. There are no pictures, no images and I will not quote any news reports. No filters, no airbrushing. I want to present a snapshot of Islam as I see it.
Before I go on, as usual, I have a few people to acknowledge. I readily admit I learn much from them and what they write. In no particular order, they are: Paulie et al at The Commons, Bunker Mulligan, Marvin at Little Red Blog, Sherry at Bittersweet, Chrenkoff- to whom I owe an apology- I usually forget to acknowledge his influence, and The Discerning Texan, and everybody else on Homespun whom I read daily.
This is a long post. I have been working on a few others, off and on, about Australia, Canada and other issues. I wrote this because in my research (such as it is), a common thread seems to be matters of perception- the perception of Islam being that common thread.In addition, before I address the issue, there are a few things that need to be remembered:
America and Israel are not the problem in the Islamic world, despite the nightly newscasts.
Iraq and Iran fought a war that resulted in the death of over a million people, many of them children, used as fodder by the Iranians.
What is happening in Darfur, the massacre of Christians and Animists by Muslim militia, was not brought on by America or Israel. It has been going for years and and over 2 million have been butchered.
In Algeria, the GIA did not rape and dismember thousands of children because of America or Israel.
Saddam did not invade Kuwait, or threaten Saudi Arabia because of America or Israel.
Churches and Mosques in Pakistan are not set afire with worshippers inside because of America or Israel.
Poison gas was used in Yemen, in the 1960's. The perpetrator? Our friends, the Egyptians.
Syrian President Haffez Assad butchered tens of thousands in Hama, on his own. Neither America or Israel were in sight.
The list goes on.
After September 11, it has become clear that Western World does not yet understand exactly what it is we face.
We do not understand terror.
In real numbers, terror is a statistical blip. The World Trade Center, the bombing in Bali, Beslan, and the victims of suicide bombings in Israel all together, don't total up to human causality toll of major earthquake causalities in Mexico or China. Victims by the thousands die every day, falling to the dreaded AIDS disease.
Nevertheless, it is Islamic terror that threatens each of us, personally.
Terror creates headlines and horrible images. It is spectacular. It is frightening. It is a very cruel death with bodies dismembered and horrible severe lifelong injuries to many of the wounded. It is always shown on television in great detail. One such act of terror, with the help of hysterical media coverage, can destroy the tourism industry of a country for quite a while, as it did in Bali and in Turkey.
The real fear of terror and the potential for terror, is the undeniable realization that there is no magic blanket defense and there are no proactive measures that can succeed against a determined suicide murderer.
This truth has been to date, our weakness. We still refuse to acknowledge what is staring us in the face.
In simple terms, the Arab Islamic world is broken. It doesn't work. There is no standard of measurement that would indicate that is does work. Even the much vaunted and often touted Islamic 'culture of modesty' and enlightened treatment of women, is in reality, a paper thin veneer of self delusion. Ongoing FGM by the millions, honor killings, executions and the relegation of women as little more than disposable chattel makes moot the lofty ideals proclaimed by the Muslim world.
Universal laws no longer exist in the Arab world.
The civilized world understands the rule of law. The ideals of human rights are meant for all, rights that include free speech, a free press, and the need for rules that cross borders and languages.
The fact of the matter is that today, we face an enemy that that uses hospitals and schools to shield terrorists, and Houses of Worship are used as armories. Children become a means, used human fodder, to throw in front of an enemy, as they are in Israel for propaganda purposes as they shield gunmen, or they become disposable chattel, as they were in Beslan.
Beheading is celebrated with joy and the mutilation of corpses takes place within view of frenzied, dancing mobs.
Terrorists and rogue regimes are racing to develop weapons of mass destruction.
The Nazis attempted to hide their evil and deny it.
The Islamists can't be bothered.
In plain view, they proudly pronounce their aims and intent. They want to subjugate us or destroy us. Officially appointed Arab government clerics reiterate these goals in mosques and on television. School curriculum educates from an early age, the Islamic destiny, to be fulfilled by a never ending Jihad.
These aren't matters of debate or issues. They are facts.
In facing these realities, it is not enough to discuss them or even understand them. They must be dealt with. In doing so, we must be prepared not only to ask the questions, but to answer them clearly and unequivocally.
Do we extend equal civil rights to those who's stated aim is to destroy us?
Do we respect the sanctity of a Holy Shrine if it is being used to as a military base from which to shoot and bomb?
Do we target schools and hospitals used by terrorists and hiding behind children?
Do we refrain from searching women, knowing that terrorists have used pregnant women to smuggle explosives?
In a time and place where ambulances are used to transport murderers and ammunition, should we respect the universally accepted 'hands off,' Geneva Conventions?
These questions and a thousand questions like them aren't an exercise in the hypothetical. They have to dealt with everyday by Coalition troops in Iraq and in Israel.
There are no laws dealing with issues like these, because in the history of civilized mankind, those practices and issues have never been defended by a civilized society.
What used to be the unthinkable, is now a reality and sanctioned by governments and religions.
No international law deals with people who sends children to throw stones and then standing behind them, fires at an enemy that will not return fire. They are not arrested because he is sheltered by a Government.
International law does not yet know how to deal with a terror leader who is safe from prosecution and comfortably hosted by a country which pays lip service to fighting terror but refuses to condemn his acts. With utter hubris (and laughing at our gullibility), these terrorists and terror planners and leaders, demand protection under international law. Any attempt to bring them to justice or to demand their extradition, are met with outrage and refer to all those who attack them as war criminals, with some Western media repeating the allegations.
Our response has been less than stellar. It has been reactive.
We, in the U.S. and Europe are engaged in in creatively improving defenses against the last attack, not the next one. After 9/11, airport security was the priority- after the fact.
The reality is, suicide bombers don't need planes. Any and all security protocols can be sidestepped by simply shifting targets. If we guard planes, they will blow up trains, as the Spanish well know. If trains are better protected, there are buses. If that is not an option for the suicide bomber to complete his murderous intent, there are supermarkets and malls, hospitals and schools.
How all this came to pass is clear.
Firstly, let's be clear once again. That Israel, a democracy like that of the United States, is a tiny island in the region with a population of 6 million, is of no consequence to the problems found in the Islamic world. The population of Arab League countries is over 300 million, roughly equivalent to that of 'Old Europe', prior to EU expansion.
The land mass is greater than the US or all of Europe.
Arab League countries, with all their oil and natural resources, have a combined GDP smaller than that of Netherlands and Belgium, together.
Arab leaders and a few wealthy individuals made their money through exploitation and corruption. The Arab world, outside the well filmed capital cities, is wallowing in poverty. Birth rates are high and the prospects for a better life remain slim.
The Muslim world is more than almost a millennium away from it's Golden Age.
In truth, the Muslim world has regressed- despite having wealth in natural resources than can only be described as near obscene.
Money and wealth have done in alleviating suffering in the world. There is so much potential for doing good works in the Arab world and yet it is being squandered by a few and used to pay for the repression and murder of so many. This isn't an anomaly. It is the result of a deliberate policy, masqueraded as religiosity. It is hard to measure the breathtaking scope of this crime against humanity.
While many in the liberal community decry religious movements in this country as being evil and subversive, it is stunning to hear absolutely no outcry against societies and cultures that openly preaches, pays for and celebrates the death of non believers, and calls for their persecution, subjugation and even the rape of non believers.
The previous remarks aren't conjecture or exaggeration. They are repeated daily by government appointed and opposition religious leaders, members of the Arab 'press corps,' such as it is, and it is taught in schools in the region, every day.
Funds are directed to religious, educational and social welfare organizations that educate and brainwash generations of children, with hate and the vision of the glorious Jihad restoring Arab supremacy over the evil and inferior 'dhimmi,' the infidel.
The hierarchy status of the shahids, the martyrs, is determined by how many innocent civilians have been slaughtered by their despicable and murderous acts.
This is how the Arab world spends it's money in defining it's religion and culture.
'Moderate Arabs' can not make those realities disappear, nor is there a moral equation that can be drawn to the Judeo-Christian ethic.
There are no political rationales that can justify the deliberate self inflicted destruction of a whole culture and society and there is no outside influence causing this reality.
Technology, used by governments, mosques, and schools has provided electronic and digital outlets for the curriculum of hate. Electronic media provides an instant dissemination of conspiracy theories, and daily reinforces the subjugation of women, hatred of all things democratic and the ever constant barrage of victimization and blamelessness.
The complete failure and breakdown of Arab society in the modern world are by themselves, the breeding grounds for discontent.
Terror networks, religious fanatics and ruthless tyrants aimlessly blame the US, Israel, Western Civilization, and place the blame on Judaism and Christianity for their failures.
In their self centered myopia, they see themselves as blameless. There is a general sense of disconnect between their reality and the dictators, terror networks, fanaticism, incitement, and terrorists in their midst.
They and their supporters in the west claim desperation and powerlessness as the justification for the failed societies and acceptance of terror.
It is a lie.
There are desperate and oppressed people the world over, with different cultures found in different cultures, countries and continents.
Desperation is not the magical elixir that makes weapons, explosives and rockets appear out of nowhere. Neither does despair turn a whole society into one that supports and rejoices at the death of innocents.
Africa has had centuries of despair, and there are no suicide bombers. Tibetans, long under China's iron boot, have not resorted to suicide bombers. The same can be said for many societies living under cruel circumstances.
Suicide bombers are calculated, cold and vicious. They are cruel, well funded terrorists, with no regard to human life, including the life of their fellow countrymen. These behaviors are taught.
They do not come naturally or spontaneously.
Terrorists leaders and their enablers, however, care a great deal about themselves and are entirely focused on their own power, control and wealth.
This is not, and has never been about a religious endeavor. It is the misuse of a religion, a calculated attempt to realign a religion to serve the needs of a few evil men. It is an effort that is succeeding, largely because of the backwardness of a people, and their willing, desperate search for an escape from their dark medieval prisons.
As has often been repeated, there are no sons or daughters of Arab religious or political leaders to be found among the legions who claim to want to blow themselves and others up, in the name of Allah. The promise of heavenly sexual delights and pleasures apparently, is a message that does not get passed on to some. The promise of the respect and recognition by a grateful Ummah, is also not enough to inspire the children of religious and political leaders.
Those to whom the message is passed, are the easily influenced, the poverty stricken (the promise of money for the shahid's family has been referred to more than once as a motivating factor), children or women somehow disgraced and are offered redemption instead of 'honor killing.'
There are millions of good people in the region-- there are devout Muslims and there are many who are not very religious, but grew up in Muslim environments. It may be compassionate to say that they victims as well, of a religion and culture gone wild, but that isn't entirely true. Through their silence and and inactions, they too, have become enablers and apologists for the Islamist agenda. Crying 'Islamophobia' will not yield the changes they may wish for- it has only exacerbated the problem. They continue to deny the real problem, the 'arabaphobia'- the fear of looking into a mirror and seeing what is really there.
The Islamists and their apologists, are heirs to Joseph Goebbels. "If a lie is repeated often enough, it will believed"
There are no precursors to death and destruction that are more effective than words. Words are the equivalent of a rifle scope, targeting before death. There have been millions of words written blaming 9/11 on the CIA and Israel. Many more millions of words have been written describing fantastic conspiracies and justifying violence against innocents. Words are used everyday in the attempt to equate our free society with their repressive ones.
Arab news media feeds these conspiracy theories with the same seriousness they discuss the daily stock market trends. Not so incredibly, these fantastic theories and convoluted justifications are repeated ad nauseum, by religious leaders, politcal leaders. diplomats and 'intellectuals.'
The western media reports on these outrages, taken at face value, as 'news.'
Further, what is said in English is not the same as what is said in Arabic, so we dream on, simply because they speak our language. Thus, we assume they share our beliefs as to right and wrong.
We still don't get it.
Terror organizations and terror supporters are using our own language to defeat us.
Suicide bombers and terrorists are now 'military factions,' while those that plan and pay for the crimes are now referred to as 'political factions'- as if patterning themselves after the IRA will somehow camouflage their identity and objectives. Ever dutifully, the media parrots these ridiculous assertions as credible.
Unlike the murderous IRA, however, Islamist objectives are global and will not recede after a military victory over Israel or the exodus of US troops from the Gulf.
We are still working on the premise that we in the west are somehow contributory to the problems.
We have allowed ourselves to be 'dumbed down,' in an attempt to negotiate our way out of an impossible situation.
Sooner or later, we're going to have to deal with reality and deal with the problem clearly and substantively-- and we're not going to be able to talk our way out it.