Today, at the Atlantic, they are hosting a game where they give you four or five quotes and you try to guess which ones Osama Bin Laden said and which ones Newt Gingrich said. This reminded me of something. A couple of weeks ago I was at a Public Library and came across a book entitled “They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It” by one of the Islamo-fascism right wing crazies named Brigette Gabriel. What I mean by Islamo Fascist right wing crazies are those people like Robert Spencer (and probably Sarah Palin to a lesser extent) who only refer to the Global Jihadists as Islamo Fascists and are determined to paint Islam and anyone who follows it as blood thirsty demons who pose an existential threat to the United States, which I believe is why they use the term Islamo-Fascism, to summon up thoughts of Hitler. (quick note I’m not putting Gingrich in this group, although I was appalled and puzzled by his speech I’ve always respected him even if I’ve not agreed with him on issues. This proved a rare exception but we all make mistakes.)
In any case, I was looking through this book and it occurred to me that Gabriel’s arguments, and from what I’ve read of her peers, have some important similarities with Bin Laden’s (UBL), Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the Global Jihadists’ own logic, worldview and reasoning.
1. Both seem to lack a concept of time. As has been often noted by those who study the Global Jihadists, they seem to be unable to differienate between things that happened centuries ago and those that are happening today. UBL often seems to be just as mad at the West for the Crusades as he is for say, the plight of the Palestinians in the occupied territories. To him, its all one big grand conflict the West has been waging on Islam since around the 7th century. So too with Gabriel. In making the case that Islam (and anyone who follows it) was an evil religion bent on world domination, she spent some pages outlining the conquests of Islam under the Prophet Muhammad and how he made Jews and Christians pay tributes (although they could still practice there religion in peace) before fast forwarding 13th centuries to the Iranian Revolution.
Using this logic, Christanity and Catholism are evil religions too. Let’s just outline uh lets see the Middle ages where the Church violently suppressed art and sciences and ruled over an entire continent of people who, if they weren’t engaged in the endless warfare, then they were enslaved on a small farm plot to which they were tied to for life. Even if we give them a pass on those couple hundred years where they colonialized the converted most of the world and come to modern times, using Gabriel’s formula we get to a Church Hierarchy that has rather systematically molested boys for decades, a religion who uses children to fight for ideological wars in places like Uganda, and has waged a terrorist campaign against the U.S. including blowing up a Federal Gov’t building in Okalahoma City. See the fallacy in this?
2. Inherent in this, is that both refuse to acknowledge the evolution Islam has gone through since its founding, or the diversity of its different sects. Both pervert the concept of short Jihad, which really has minimal importance in Islam, and place it at the top of Islamic values. In this sense these Americans seems to vindicate the twisted ideas of Islam that the Global Jihadists harbor.
As noted about UBL above, and obvious from the title of Gabriel’s book, both of these groups are religiously adhere to the late Samuel Huntington’s concept of a Clash of Civilizations. As expanded upon at length below, for Gabriel and her peers, UBL and the greater movement pose nothing short of an existential threat to the character of American society. Just as UBL refuses to acknowledge that Westerners can co-exist alongside Muslims in Muslim lands, the Islamo-Fascist camp seems to believe that Democracy and Liberalism must engulf most of Islam.
Finally, and in some ways most importantly, both sides vastly exaggerate the power of the Global Jihadists, as well as their threat to the Western world. UBL and the Global Jihadists have always liked to think their more important than they are (don’t we all). In the 1980’s-early 1990’s, for example, they sat in air conditioned houses in Pakistan occasionally firing weapons at the sky and during the decade they spent there, holding their ground in one of the a handful of battles in which they actually fought the Soviet forces. Nevertheless, when the Soviet Union collapsed UBL and the Afghan Arabs, as they were called, graciously proclaimed nothing short of having single-handedly taken down the Soviet superpower. Similarly, in UBL’s final speech to his followers before abandoning them for Pakistan in order to escape U.S. and Northern Alliance forces in late 2001, UBL claimed that America was nearing collapse, presumably thanks to the 9/11 attacks. For most people, this is just more evidence (of which there is a lot of) of how out of touch these people are with reality. Take the Saudi Intelligence forces and parts of the regime, for example. They basically laughed in UBL’s face when he confidently predicted he and the Arab Afghans could protect the Kingdom from Saddam’s military who had just invaded Kuwait. Instead, they called up the American and Western forces. But despite admiring the Kingdom’s policies on religious freedom, the Islamo-Fascist Right Wingnuts are inclined to agree with UBL’s predictions of his own power, not the Saudis.
No to these people the small fringe element that makes up the Global Jihadist movement poses a threat comparable to Nazi Fascist Hitler, who came as close as anyone to conquering Europe (save perhaps Napolean) while slaughtering around 10 million of his own people. Or Stalin and his Communist Fascists, who possessed something like 3-6 million soldiers in the army alone during the entire Cold War, armed with sophisticated technology (at least until the 1980’s) and enough nuclear weapons to blow up the entire world many times over and slaughtered tens of millions of their own people simply because Stalin was paranoid. In the past this supposed extestinal threat that the Global Jihadists pose is due to the fact that if they acquired a nuclear weapon, they couldn’t be deterred since they have no home address. While a very very scary scenario it is very very very very unlikely to occur, and despite the tragedy that would entail, it isn’t an existential threat. Yet for those like Gingrich, the threat to our society is not purely of a military nature. Comparing it with Westerners adopting Communism during cold war, it is the salafist ideology itself that also constitutes a threat to the American system. In his words,
“Let us be clear. This is not a war on terrorism. Terrorism is an activity. This is a struggle with radical Islamists in both their militant and their stealth form. The militant form believes in using military power in one form or another. The stealth form believes in using cultural, intellectual and political but their end goal is exactly the same”
Let’s us be clearrrrrrrrr. What Gingrich is proposing is that the United States, which as he himself has written books on, has its roots in a Judio-Christan culture, with a strong tradition of separation of church and state, and a thirst for material gain that is unmatched in human history, but whose masses are potential converts to a political system based on Pre-medieval religious principles, from a religion that only a very small majority actually practice. Suddenly, the Birthers don’t sound as crazy.
Not only do I find this more ridiculous than the idea of a zombie war, I find it offensive. Although I know Gingrich is a respectable man, an admirable Patriot and a commendable public servant; this view, however unconsciously it may have been to Gingrich himself, puts so little faith in the American system. And yet, as the debate over the Islamic Cultural Center near Ground Zero shows, faith in the American system and its liberal identity may be in short supply recently.