Terry Jones and Salafist Jihad

September 8, 2010

Haven’t had a lot of time to post since the school year started. Tonight is no different, but I did just want to make a quick post. One of my early posts was a comparison of what I compared the Islamofaciest camp-which is basically those people who are mostly anti-Islam who decry Salafi terrorists as comprising the views of Islam in general- with the Salafi terrorists themselves.

The recent controversy over Terry Jones and his Florida Church’s Korean Burning event is another case in point. This story has been gaining some traction after Gen. Petraus, among other commanders in Afghanistan, has said that it undermines our objectives in Afghanistan and puts our troops in more danger. All that aside, University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole, writing on the issue at his blog informed comment, makes the point that what Terry Jones is trying to do with the Koran burning is exactly what Bin Laden was trying to do by provoking us to invade Muslim countries. In Cole’s words:

“Terry Jones, the Dove pastor, appears to want to prove Muslims are intolerant by provoking them to attack ‘Christians’ over the burning of their scripture. I.e., he thinks just like al-Qaeda, which wanted to provoke Christians to attack Muslims so as to demonstrate Christian imperialism.”

In my opinion at least, this proves that the biggest danger is not Islamic extremism per se, but rather just extremism in general. To be sure, Islamic extremism has recently been much more violent, but really it is not much different from Christian extremism, as I’ve discussed to some degree in other posts. An example that is worth bringing up given the recent peace talks is the Oslo Accords in the early 1990’s. These were fiercely resisted by both Jewish and Islam extremists and their failure to bring peace, in large part, was due to the success of both these groups. Especially, the murder of of PM Rabin by the Jewish extremist, and the Palestinian terror which led to the election of Bibi as PM the first time.

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The Mosque debate heats up, the precedent for the case is still ignored, Conservatives continue to have our party highjacked, and a poll

August 16, 2010

Note: haven’t had chance to proofread/edit yet. Will update later.

Since President Obama defended the “Ground Zero” Islamic Community Center, the debate has heated up considerably, mostly thanks to the GOP. My sister got married this weekend so I’ve been busy and only found time to read second hand accounts of this development. Still, a few comments are in order.

First, according to Ben Smith at Politico, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the recruitment chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee said, “It’s [the election] going to be about jobs. But this is just another example: Why isn’t the president spending the time debating about jobs instead of moving into New York?” This seems like an odd talking point considering that most of the Politicians who have been hyping this issue have been from the GOP, i.e. Rep. Peter King, Sarah Palin, and Newt Gingrich, while the Democrats have avoided it because of low public support for the Mosque. In fact, both of the possible GOP candidates for Governor in my home state of NY, Carl Palidino and Rick Lazio, have (from what I can tell) decided to ignore the endless problems facing the state and decide to run solely on this issue (whereas Andrew Cuomo released a whole policy book). True, they’re at least from NYS, but NYS has a tremendous amount of problems facing it, all of which deserve far more discussion than this debate; and, as the GOP themselves have pointed out since Obama’s comments, this is a local (not state or federal) issue.

Next, according to Maggie Haberman also at Politico http://tiny.cc/10r04, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) appearing on Fox News Sunday argued that, “This [the building of the Mosque and the debate around it] is not about the freedom of religion.” Simply put, this argument is absurd. Even those disagreeing have to argue (mistakenly, in my opinion) that the Freedom of Religion clause of the Constitution doesn’t extend to protecting the rights of Muslims near an area that deranged Terrorists who really have nothing to do with actual Islam staged an attack upon. You can’t attempt to repress the free practice of a religion and then say it has nothing to do with religion.

Next, if the opposition is to be accepted we would presumably have to do something about the thirty churches within a mile from the site of the bombing of a Federal building in Oklahoma City by Christian Identity adherent Timothy Mcveigh and his accomplice. As scholars such as Mark Juergensmeyer and countless others have pointed out, the Global Jihadists and the Christian Identity / Reconstruct movements have countless things in common, including: the Orthodox view of their respective religions, and extreme hostility towards moderate and tolerant forms of their religions; their hatred of liberalism, secularism, and western ideas, which they believe are bent on obliterating their religion; their hope that their terrorist attacks will cause their co-religionists to, in large numbers, realize that their religion is under attack by Western values and rise up in mass revolt; and their ultimate objective to force their midevil and erratic beliefs upon large sways of the world’s population in the form of societies being governed by their crazy religious interpretations; to name but a few. Of course, despite this whole debate garnishing way more attention than deserved, nowhere have I seen this precedent brought up…. Nor do I believe that many of the opponents of the Islamic Cultural Center near Ground Zero would have similar concerns about the Churches.

Third, although I am a moderate that is far more Conservative than Liberal (more on this in a future post), I must say that whatever criticisms I and others may have against President Obama, we certainly can’t fault him for lack of leadership. In direct contrast to the last Democrat President, Obama has often gone against public opinion when he felt it missed the larger picture. The GOP likes to paint this as evidence that Prez O is out of touch with the American people, which is true but also (usually) a necessary component of leadership. Being a leader is not giving into every whim of public opinion but rather understanding the larger picture and steering the people in that direction b/c its in their interest even if its politically unwise. Certainly this was demonstrated by FDR first in dealing with the Depression and then with WWII. The same can be said of many other professions. For example, a doctor isn’t going to not telling you your dying or not insist on having surgery you desperately need because he fears it will upset you and you’ll change practices. As a conservative its sad to see that the mainstream Republican party seems incapable of mustering any of this courage.

Fourth, this issue is part of a larger fiasco within the higher levels of the GOP party. (Unfortunately for us Conservatives) What they have seemed to take away from getting clobbered at the polls in 2006 and 2008, is not that they had become too homogeneous and far right to be a successful party nationwide, but rather that they hadn’t drifted far enough to the right during the Bush administration (Newt Gingrich, a man who I have tremendous respect for, took this the farthest when he seemed to conclude that since we failed to bring democracy to the Middle East we should instead adopt the domestic policies of the Middle East Autocrats at least in regards to religious tolerance). The party continues to lack viable leadership, instead being represented by entertainers like Glen Beck and Rush, or Sarah Palin. This would be like the Democrats being portrayed by the views of Rachel Madow and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt). Undoubtedly, the GOP’s radicalization is only likely to increase after the November elections where the Democrats will lose some seats due to their failure to revive the plagued economy fast enough but most Republicans will mistakenly conclude they had won them on their own merits. The only hope for most sensible conservatives is that after the Primary in 2012 our party can gain some sense of normalcy.

To end, I would just like to offer up a poll question (I actually got a couple views I noticed). What is more of a threat to the Constitution: the handful of crazy fringe element American-Muslims (that might exist) who want to institute Shar’ia Law in a Judeo-Christian Nation with a strong tradition in Secularism; or those who have decided that it is necessary to preempt Shar’ia Law by usurping our Constitution in order to safeguard it from Shar’ia Law?


Islamo fascist American right wingnuts and Global Jihadist alliance

August 6, 2010

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.