Since the Charlie Hebdo attack I wrote about previously, it’s been my experience that both Left and Right continue to get it wrong about Islam, though obviously in very different ways. Not just in the sense of what they get wrong, but how they get it wrong; I think that when the Right gets it wrong it’s out of lack of sufficient information and understanding on the subject coupled with a natural fear/anger-reaction at attacks from a perceived external threat. But people on the Right who make the wrong conclusions about Islam genuinely believe in those conclusions.
On the other hand, when the Left gets it wrong I have serious trouble imagining that they actually believe what they are saying; rather, they’ve managed to convince themselves that they must pretend that Islam is a religion of peace that has no serious internal issues that weren’t caused by European or Zionist “oppression,” and that there’s only like five actual terrorists in the entire religion, and it’s just because they’ve “misunderstood Islam.” They’ve convinced themselves of this because to admit that Islam is a religion with a very serious problem would ruin the rest of their “narrative” about the West being the worst civilization of all time (rather than the best, fairest, freest and most successful of all time).
Leftists want to portray the Right as “Islamophobes” or even racists. I think some people on the Right might technically be Islamophobes in the sense of being afraid of what a world ruled by Islam might look like, so fair enough; but as for racist, I would suggest that while there certainly might be some people on the Right who conflate their personal hatred of people with different skin color than their own with Islam (stupid, since Islam is a religion, arguably a culture, but there are people of every race on earth who are Muslim), the Left is to me just as ‘racist’ about Islam. Theirs is the racism of the absurd myth of the “noble savage,” which wants to imagine that people from the third world and of darker skin than their own are all poor innocents who can do no wrong, and any wrong they do commit must be the West’s fault. That Extremist Muslims cannot be held accountable for their actions because it’s their “culture” – as if to suggest that they couldn’t possibly do any better. Some people on the Right don’t believe there is such a thing as a moderate Muslim; but on the Left I think they find moderate Muslims, and by that I actually mean Muslims who are pluralists or rational Muslims seeking to fight against the extremist forces who have hijacked their religion and culture, tremendously inconvenient and just wish they’d go away, because they ruin the whole ‘story’ by annoyingly asking the Left for help against extremist Islam.
I think the Left is beyond help in this matter. So I’m going to try to address my friends on the Right today (and maybe hope that those people on the Left who actually still believe in true liberal values like free speech might tag along for the ride), and try to explain just what the real deal is with Islam and why if you’re someone who believes in and defends the values of Western Civilization, you really ought to want to rethink a position that is universally dismissive of Islam as the enemy.
Remember first, as I said previously, the real ‘enemy’ to our civilization is not Islam. Islam is just the occasionally noisy neighbor who sometimes involves us in their internal squabbles (more on that later). They can’t really do anything to us. The issue of our civilization’s survival is not “Islam vs. The West,” it’s Collectivism vs. Individualism. Whether that Collectivism is from Al-Qaeda and the Mujahaddeen Boko Haram Youth Martyr Brigade, or the Social Justice Action Committee for Censoring Intolerant Thought, or the Catholic League, they’re all authoritarian assholes. They’re the enemy.
If you’re a Catholic, or an Atheist, or a Rastafarian, and you’re saying “the murders aren’t really justifiable, but Hebdo should still have been censored,” then you’re arguing for the same world as the ISIS/Taliban-crowd are. Just with a slightly different flavor, but still a world where a tiny group of elites should get to tell us all what to do (in the name of God, Social Justice, or Jah, or what-have-you).
If there’s one thing Charlie Hebdo did it was create a watershed moment, where there’s no hiding which side you’re on anymore. “Je suis Charlie” doesn’t mean you like Charlie Hebdo’s content, it means you defend to the death their absolute right to publish it. That’s the ENTIRE POINT. Free speech means defending the publication of ideas you do not approve of. So this is an absolute line in the sand: you either “are Charlie” or you “killed Charlie.” If you don’t believe in the inalienable right to free speech, you are helping to murder our civilization.
Now, back to Islam. Some people on the Right are of the opinion that Islam is a religion of violent extremism. It’s not. It is, however, a religion with a very serious Violent Extremism Problem.
To explain the difference, I’m going to give a little example in a form I suspect most of you will have experienced or at least seen, at some point or another: Let’s say you’re on the internet, having a good old argument about politics. You’re a conservative, you’ve done research, you’re pointing out facts, you’re using skillful rhetoric and everything is going well. You’re arguing with your opponent(s) but respecting them.
All of a sudden, some little buttwipe chimes in; his profile says he’s 17.5 years old, and he has a big Stars & Stripes logo for an avatar, and he starts talking all this ridiculous bullshit; it’s incoherent, devoid of facts, filled with racial slurs, talking about the Founding Fathers but he can’t name even one of them, and he starts talking about how every Democrat should be shot and anyone he doesn’t like get round up and put into camps. He talks about Leave It To Beaver, and doesn’t seem to realize that was a TV show and not real life. He literally wants to recreate the world of Leave It to Beaver by violent force, and then keep it that way, also by violent force, forever. He does not represent you in any way, but now everyone is entangling your argument with his, and using him against you. Meanwhile, Little Buttwipe has been sending real-life death threats to the forum moderator, and keeps making reply-posts to stuff you wrote making it sound like you’re best friends because you’re a “fellow patriot.” Now everyone is pissed off at you and assuming you’ve condoned his actions.
Now assume that about 22% of all conservatives are just like Little Buttwipe, and that in spite of their minority numbers they’re the moderators of every forum, run every news website, own all the major media, are in charge of the political parties, and have worked their way into control of every school board and church in your area. The liberals are all claiming that all conservatives are just like Little Buttwipe. Meanwhile, the Little Buttwipes are now sufficiently in power over the conservative movement and culture that they’re looking over at you, and your friends who are like you, and accusing you of being “traitors”, “RINOs” and “fake conservatives” because you’re not “patriotic” enough. You don’t even dress right for them, and they question your taste in music. You or other friends have started to be physically threatened by the Little Buttwipes, while all the media interviews them, and makes out like they’re the spokesmen of ‘true conservatism’, both denying your existence and using them against you in the process. You know they’re not. You know maybe one in five conservatives are Little Buttwipes; but ten years ago it was maybe one in ten. And now they’ve taken over the Boy Scouts and church youth groups, teaching them all how to be Little Buttwipes too, and you see that this is going to get a lot worse.
That’s the situation for Islam right now. The “you” in the story is the average Muslim; while the Little Buttwipes, in this case, are the extremist sect, the Wahabi/Salafist movement, that have taken over the religion. Even though, as I said above, percentage-wise they’re only a minority in Islam. And I made them 17.5 years old because if Islam was 100 years old, that’s about how long Wahabism will have actually existed in it. But of course, like any good insane reactionary sect, they try to pretend like their ignorant dumbass version of Islam was the way it was done in the good old days. It’s the Wahabist’s version of Little Buttwipe’s Leave It to Beaver obsession. They don’t believe in facts, they believe in a fairy-tale version of a world that never existed. And as Salman Rushdie brilliantly said in his latest appearance on Bill Maher‘s show (one of the good liberals, who isn’t afraid to stand up for free speech), the extremists in Islam are literally at war with the flow of time. They want to freeze the world in their deluded religious fantasy of how things were in the past.
Now, almost all of the extremist violence in Islam comes out of that one sect, the Wahabis (excepting that there are some Shiite Muslim groups, who despise the Wahabis, like Hezbollah; those are pretty well the Shi’a equivalent; only the Wahabis are much worse in terms of actual death tolls). So other than the Iranians and their deal, pretty much all the terrorism you’ve heard about in the last 50 years of Muslim terrorism has been from this one sect in Islam.
The Taliban? Wahabi.
Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden? Wahabi.
Boko Haram? Wahabi.
The US National Counterterrorism Center report at the state department points out that in 2011, out of a total of 10,283 terrorism attacks (that killed 12,533 people, and injured 25,903), 8,886 of those deaths were at the hands of Terrorist attacks by “Sunni Extremists”, but in point of fact they should have just said Wahabists, because all Sunni Extremists are Wahabists.
So this is a little bit like saying that Christianity is a violent extremist religion when pretty much every single act of extremist violence was being done by Methodists.
But Kasimir, you ask, if this is all just largely the doings of one minority sect, why does it seem like this is an endemic problem in all Islam? The answer, my friends, is that the Wahabi movement has done a very organized job over the last four or five decades in infiltrating every other area of the Muslim religion and culture, and ‘radicalizing’ it.
Check this out:
The above picture is what Afghanistan looks like today. Those are women crossing the street.
This is what Afghanistan looked like in the mid 1970s. I don’t need to tell you that those are women, obviously.
Was Afghanistan not Muslim in the 1970s? It was. Very Muslim. But 50 years ago, most of Afghanistan was not Wahabi Muslim but rather Sufi Muslim. Some of the greatest Muslim mystics, poets, philosophers and esotericists came out of that region. And Afghani Islam was tolerant, progressive, and contemplative, with room for the acceptance of liberal values imported from the West.
What changed was that Wahabism expanded aggressively into Afghanistan; it did so there by taking advantage of the war with the Soviet Union, but in many other places in the world, Wahabism has expanded through infiltrating peaceful societies. Indonesia, for example, has an enormous Muslim population that has been known to be tolerant, liberal and generally peaceful, and has in the last 10 years or so become increasingly intolerant and violent.
Turkey, which has prided itself since the end of WWI on being secular and democratic, and whose Islam (also largely Sufi) has always been liberal and tolerant, is becoming an increasingly dangerous place to be a woman, an unbeliever, or a non-conformist. It got this way because a fundamentalist religious president was elected to run this secular country, a president who has recently said things like that women are not men’s equals, has engaged in considerable repression of journalists and tightened controls over the internet, repressing protesters, and most recently he and members of his party have claimed that the Charlie Hebdo attacks were a conspiracy orchestrated by the French Government and carried out by the Mossad to try to malign Muslims.
Turkey! This was a country solidly in the modernist and secular camp for 80 years, but Wahabism’s rise has been creeping slowly in, turning it into just another Extremist Theocracy in the making. The secularists in Turkey have held large protests, but they just don’t have the votes, because the Wahabists have mobilized the least educated sectors of the population with decades of propaganda about their ‘true Islam’.
Wahabism has gained the opportunity for such a meteoric takeover largely by sheer dumb luck. The movement’s core was in the oil-rich area of the Middle East; and in particular in the case of Saudi Arabia, it radicalized the region early and very effectively. Now, the House of Saud that governs there is forced to give them billions of dollars in assistance, and to help them expand their brand everywhere, just to keep themselves from being overthrown. And with those billions, the Wahabis have very cleverly created a media empire; on the internet and YouTube, and have subverted the leadership of most Muslim schools and a sizable percentage of Mosques.
Now obviously, not all Wahabi Muslims are terrorists or violent killers, but they do create the kind of extremism that encourages that violence. They take every aspect of Muslim culture and belief and interpret it in the most reactionary and extreme way possible, encouraging the mindset of the fanatic. But they are not all of Islam. There are movements, hopelessly outnumbered, being outpaced (and needless to say outgunned) by the Wahabis, that are fighting to try to preserve the some of the original values in Islam itself (things like the duty of every Muslim to understand Islam through their own reasoning and ‘diligence’ or ijtihad, not by the blind adoption of dogma), or that are fighting for Western values being integrated into Islam, that are at present completely bereft of Western allies. This is unfortunate, because these anti-extremist Muslims, along with a great many Muslims throughout the world, love many of our Western values, and resent the religious extremists that have taken over their cultures and religion, that indoctrinate their youth and that impose their ideas on everyone else.
Here’s the really big thing: just like the real threat to Western Civilization is not Muslim Terrorism but our own postmodernist rot, the real goal of the Wahabis is not to attack us, but to take over the Muslim world. Yes, they talk about ultimately spreading Islam to the entire planet, blah blah blah, but they can’t do that and even they know that’s just a pipe dream they use for propaganda to stir up the base. Their real goal is to take over the entirety of Muslim religion and culture. Even when they attack us, that’s their real goal. Even when they kill Westerners, it’s to manipulate the West into attacking them to get more Muslims radicalized. Again, as Salman Rushdie put it: we are the sideshow. The main event for Wahabism is what’s happening in the Muslim world. Ultimately, that means it’s a battle that Muslims in that world have to fight for themselves. But considering that those Muslims who value Western ideals and who oppose violent extremism in the Islamic world will be getting no help at all from our spineless post-modernist progressives, who would rather be ‘outraged’ about how a scientist who made a breakthrough in human space exploration was wearing a sexist shirt than about the brutalities that Muslim Extremists inflict on women and girls, it sure would be nice if the freethinking conservatives who value Western civil and human rights, liberties and ethics would recognize a potential ally when they see one, and stand up for those people who actually still believe in fighting and often dying for the principles that so many Westerners have willingly abandoned.
Kasimir Urbanski doesn’t write on a specific subject; he’s EveryJoe’s resident maniac-at-large. A recovering Humanities academic and world-traveler, he now lives in South America and is a researcher of fringe religion, eastern philosophy, and esoteric consciousness-expansion. In his spare time he writes tabletop RPGs, and blogs about them at therpgpundit.blogspot.com.
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