Sunday, July 16, 2006

A distinction with a difference

I'm at a bit of a loss. I believe that the state of things worldwide breaks down into a few categories: Western capitalism-of-sorts against (largely) Eastern collectivism, though I'm not sufficiently versed in Asian culture to understand why collectivism should have so much persistence (albeit in corrupted form) there when it's clearly failed everywhere else; national wealth through general adherence to a code of fair play that we, at least, inherited from the British in the form of common law, versus national poverty and degradation through kleptocracy and rampant open corruption - I discount tribalism in this equation not because it doesn't exist, but because I believe it can coexist with common law; and finally, liberalism versus fascism, which at present means "liberalism versus Islamism." Not that there are no other fascists around; I'm certain that there are. But only Islamists marry the elevation of a central leader to a far-flung organization with enough coherence to coordinate attacks against the West and Westward-looking others, yet enough "looseness" to defy rounding up and fencing in.

Because to my horror, that option - fencing in the Islamic fascists - keeps occurring to me. "Circumscribing" might be a better term: I'm not talking about concentration camps here (God in His mercy forbid that we ever relive those days again), but about limiting the scope of their actions, financially, politically, and socially, not just by not preferring them under the law (see for instance last year's debate in Canada about whether to look to Shari'a as a source of legal precedent, a debate that fortunately ended correctly - for now), but by forbidding them to do certain things that we in the West take for granted, such as starting a school, without significant oversight. But as I said, it can't be done; the Islamists are too scattered, too independent whenever they choose to be, for even circumscription to work.

Point is, the struggle is existential, as I've said before, even if it's going on at a low level at the moment. I urge you to read all of this before you scoff:

“Asian youths,” a British euphemism for Pakistanis and Muslims from South Asia, in parts of Oldham are trying to create no-go areas for white people. One of them told: “There are signs all around saying whites enter at your risk. It’s a matter of revenge.” However, it’s not just the white natives that are targets of Muslim violence, but other non-Muslims, too. A report on Hindus being driven out of the English city of Bradford by young Muslims was described by some Hindus as “ethnic cleansing.”

...

Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post noted that some Muslim leaders explained that what they wanted was autonomy in their ghettos: “They seek to receive extraterritorial status from the French government, meaning that they will set their own rules based, one can assume, on Sharia law. If the French government accepts the notion of communal autonomy, France will cease to be a functioning state.” Following three weeks of unrest, the police said 98 vehicles torched in one day marked a “return to a normal situation everywhere in France.”

...

A researcher for the Netherlands Ministry for Immigration and Integration found that 40% of young Moroccan Muslims in the Netherlands rejected Western values and democracy. Six to seven percent were prepared to use force to “defend” Islam, and the majority were opposed to freedom of speech for offensive statements, particularly criticism of Islam.

...

In Denmark, the nation-wide organization of Women’s Crisis Centres claims that a number of taxi drivers with immigrant background are spying on female immigrants who are in hiding, sending information about their whereabouts to their families. It was a group of taxi drivers who informed a Pakistani man where he could find his sister. He murdered her in broad daylight outside a train station because she had married a man from Afghanistan against her family’s orders. 80% of the women seeking help at crisis centres in the city of Oslo, Norway, are from immigrant background.

...

A secret high-level UK police report concluded that Muslim officers were more likely to become corrupt than white officers, with complaints of misconduct and corruption against Muslim officers running 10 times higher than against their colleagues. “Asian officers and in particular Pakistani Muslim officers are under greater pressure from the family, the extended family [...] and their community against that of their white colleagues to engage in activity that might lead to misconduct or criminality.” The report argued that British Pakistanis live in a cash culture in which “assisting your extended family is considered a duty” and in an environment in which large amounts of money are loaned between relatives and friends. It recommended that Asian officers needed special anti-corruption training.


So. Is it possible to distinguish between a Muslim of a generally liberal bent and an Islamist? As a practical matter, walking down the street - no, just as it's impossible to distinguish between, say, me, and a granola-crunching (I love granola) Birkenstock-wearing (OK, my Birks just got "retired," but I'm in Tevas or barefoot six days a week anyway) Bush-hating (you've got me there) hippie in her middle years (no bifocals yet, but gray roots). However, there is a difference, and we must distinguish it. The challenge is in drawing the distinction without going all racist, though the people we, the liberal West, need to watch and guard against often share some physical characteristics that could invite cries of "racism!" How do we do it?

Heck if I know. But here, from a post entitled "Marx and Muhammed":

In many ways, there was a basic premise inherent in the policy of containment taken against the communist world: Wait long enough and the truth of the superiority of liberal societies will become apparent to the world. But a policy of containment against Islamic imperialism cannot hope for such eventual success. Since Islam does not make any ambitious proposal to improve the lot of its followers in the real world, but only in an imaginary [I'd say "an unobservable," but the point is taken. -ed.] afterlife, no amount of waiting can undermine its claim to truth.


There's my circumscription idea and yet another reason why it won't work against Islamism. What it points up is the necessity of figuring out ways to convince people fixed on the hereafter that the here is also worthy of attention, and not just the kind of attention that results in blowing it up in order to hasten the journey to the -after. So perhaps the solution is just to bombard everyone, all of society, with the superiority of life under a liberal banner; the people who already experience and accept that superiority will roll their eyes, order another latte or lassi or lager, and ignore it, while the unconvinced may - possibly - be drawn in against their will. It means rejecting multiculturalism, or at least that part of multi-culti that begins from the premise that all cultures are equally good and sufficient for their adherents.

8 comments:

Gahrie said...

Just read your latest over at PW.

God I love you Jamie.

But apparently we could never have gotten married.

Jamie said...

It's been a while... which "latest"? (And hey, man, you had your chance!)

Frankly, the only comment I've made over there that I can ever remember is when I tried to convert the infamous Mona of Greenwald-sycophant fame. <blush> It was not my finest hour.

jc said...

"Whites" enter at your own risk? Lord love a duck, when I fill out the endless forms required in seeking employment I never see an "Arab" or "Muslim" box to check. Maybe there are still forms that have a space for "wog"?

Cobra said...

Jamie writes:

>>>"But only Islamists marry the elevation of a central leader to a far-flung organization with enough coherence to coordinate attacks against the West and Westward-looking others, yet enough "looseness" to defy rounding up and fencing in."

But that is what one must do as the underdog...adapt and develop a strategy that will allow the movement/group/organization to survive against an opponent with superior weaponry and technology.
Domination is what is at issue here, as your friend Steyn puts it.
Simply put, some folks just don't want to be "dominated" by the West.

--Cobra

Jamie said...

It's a moral equivalency argument you appear to be making, Cobra - that simply the *fact* of being an underdog, regardless of why you're an underdog or whether you may be wrong, is sufficient to justify whatever you have to do to get out from under.

Cobra said...

Jamie writes:

>>>"It's a moral equivalency argument you appear to be making, Cobra - that simply the *fact* of being an underdog, regardless of why you're an underdog or whether you may be wrong, is sufficient to justify whatever you have to do to get out from under."

But that's often the root cause of the world's great conflagrations. EVERYBODY thinks they are "right." EVERYBODY's "god" is the one true "god." EVERYBODY's sect or denomination has the right interpretation or philosophy.

It also depends on perspective. To King George III, George Washington was a "terrorist." The American Revolution was certainly a minority movement, as most of the colonials were loyalists to England.

The Minutemen were guerilla warriors. They didn't line up in order across from their adversaries like "civilized" European armies. Oh no, they hid behind trees and rocks taking sniper shots, and running off into the woods to avoid direct conflict.

Religeous zealotry and fanaticism you ask?

>>>"We are not weak if we make a proper use of the things which God has placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of victory in this country are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave."

--Patrick Henry,
from the "Give me liberty..." speech, 1775.

It's not a question of moral equivalency, but that of critical thinking and analysis.

Right now there's a furor in the Iraqi government over the Coalition Provisional Authority Order #17 that states:

>>>"1) Unless provided otherwise herein, the MNF, the CPA, Foreign Liaison Missions, their
Personnel, property, funds and assets, and all International Consultants shall be
immune from Iraqi legal process."

President George or King George

But back in Patrick Henry's day, the Colonists were in a furor about this edict from England:

>>>"The Administration of Justice Act granted British officials virtual immunity in all of the colonies. They could not be tried in local courts for capital offences, but were rather to be extradited to Britain and tried there."

King George or President George

One doesn't have to morally equate to see the profound similarities of the actions of two occupying armies.

--Cobra

Jamie said...

Long break between comments - sorry, Cobra.

Quibble: it's true that the Continental Army used unorthodox tactics at times - but they also did one heck of a lot of drilling and fought in lines more often than not. (We live minutes from Valley Forge, where the Continental Army became an army as popularly understood, rather than a bunch of raggedy militias.) And one of the "unorthodox" tactics was the addition of "aim" to the phrase, "Ready, fire!" in those lines, because the Continentals had too little ammunition to fire volleys without actually trying for a target.

Onward. You say, "EVERYBODY thinks they are "right." EVERYBODY's "god" is the one true "god." EVERYBODY's sect or denomination has the right interpretation or philosophy." Yes. That's right. So how do we decide how to act? Do we wring our hands, frustrated (or perhaps released in responsibility) by the fact that our opponent - our enemy - also believes he's right? Or do we look at the foundations of each side's motives and do our best to decide which side we can live with aligning ourselves with? (Tortured sentence structure, but I'm too tired to fix it. Good luck!)

In other words: here's Saddam's Iraq, where a minority dominates, oppresses, and all too often tortures and murders huge numbers of a majority and a different minority; where the minority in power arrogates to itself all political power, all resources, all freedoms; where the leader of this minority claims for himself leadership of the entire country and declares his intent to wipe out not just his enemies within his own country but his enemies outside as well. OTOH, here's the United States, where less than 200,000 armed troops, operating under strictures that include their being subject to military discipline and/or court-martial(which is not a picnic!) if they're caught doing anything remotely bad, are apparently the occupiers and controllers of a nation of tens of millions, in spite of the fact that we still pay market price for oil from there, the president is not of our choosing or even our preference, and even the U.N. has failed to find that we had any role in influencing any election. Which side is the good guys?

I'm incoherent... but the point is that if you can never decide who the good guys are, if you have no sense that there can be one side with the right of it, then you're paralyzed. Worse, you're in essence an apologist for the other side, because you - by which I mean "one," not you personally - don't have the moral courage to say, "No, you, the one with the dull sword sawing through a journalist's neck on video, you are the evil one here. Panties on the head, even fake electrodes on the genitals, don't actually compare."

Critical thinking is exactly what I'm asking of you. Are the Islamists right, or is their cause ideologically neutral to liberalism, or are they wrong? Where are they on that spectrum? And where are you?

Cobra said...

Jamie writes:

>>>"I'm incoherent... but the point is that if you can never decide who the good guys are, if you have no sense that there can be one side with the right of it, then you're paralyzed. Worse, you're in essence an apologist for the other side, because you - by which I mean "one," not you personally - don't have the moral courage to say, "No, you, the one with the dull sword sawing through a journalist's neck on video, you are the evil one here. Panties on the head, even fake electrodes on the genitals, don't actually compare."

Critical thinking is exactly what I'm asking of you. Are the Islamists right, or is their cause ideologically neutral to liberalism, or are they wrong? Where are they on that spectrum? And where are you?"

First, as far as Abu Ghraib goes, the media only released photos that were fit for "public consumption", so to speak. The report from General Taguba has some more "interesting" violations.

>>>" (S) I find that the intentional abuse of detainees by
military police personnel included the following acts:
a. (S) Punching, slapping, and kicking detainees;
jumping on their naked feet;
b. (S) Videotaping and photographing naked male and
female detainees;
c. (S) Forcibly arranging detainees in various
sexually explicit positions for photographing;
d. (S) Forcing detainees to remove their clothing and
keeping them naked for several days at a time;
e. (S) Forcing naked male detainees to wear women's
underwear;
f. (S) Forcing groups of male detainees to masturbate
themselves while being photographed and videotaped;
g. (S) Arranging naked male detainees in a pile and
then jumping on them;
h. (S) Positioning a naked detainee on a MRE Box,
with a sandbag on his head, and attaching wires to his
fingers, toes, and penis to simulate electric torture;
i. (S) Writing "I am a Rapest" (sic) on the leg of a
detainee alleged to have forcibly raped a 15-year old
fellow detainee, and then photographing him naked;
j. (S) Placing a dog chain or strap around a naked
detainee's neck and having a female Soldier pose for a
picture;
k. (S) A male MP guard having sex with a female
detainee;
l. (S) Using military working dogs (without muzzles)
to intimidate and frighten detainees, and in at least
one case biting and severely injuring a detainee;
m. (S) Taking photographs of dead Iraqi detainees.
(ANNEXES 25 and 26)

http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/library/reports/2004/800-mp-bde.htm

Apply this treatment to the statements of Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld when Americans were being held in Iraqi custody in 2003:

>>>"The Geneva Convention indicates that it's not permitted to photograph and embarrass or humiliate prisoners of war," Rumsfeld said.

http://www.slate.com/id/2080616/

Hypocrisy? Of course. One can't make a claim of holding the moral high-ground while losing his or her own grip on morality.

Now, the Taguba report goes on, with worse claims, and takes names:

>>>"8. (U) In addition, several detainees also described the
following acts of abuse, which under the circumstances, I
find credible based on the clarity of their statements
and supporting evidence provided by other witnesses
(ANNEX 26):
a. (U) Breaking chemical lights and pouring the
phosphoric liquid on detainees;
b. (U) Threatening detainees with a charged 9mm pistol;
c. (U) Pouring cold water on naked detainees;
d. (U) Beating detainees with a broom handle and a
chair;
e. (U) Threatening male detainees with rape;
f. (U) Allowing a military police guard to stitch the
wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed
against the wall in his cell;
g. (U) Sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and
perhaps a broom stick.
h. (U) Using military working dogs to frighten and
intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one
instance actually biting a detainee.
9. (U) I have carefully considered the statements provided
by the following detainees, which under the circumstances
I find credible based on the clarity of their statements
and supporting evidence provided by other witnesses:
a. (U) Amjed Isail Waleed, Detainee # 151365
b. (U) Hiadar Saber Abed Miktub-Aboodi, Detainee #
13077
c. (U) Huessin Mohssein Al-Zayiadi, Detainee # 19446
d. (U) Kasim Mehaddi Hilas, Detainee # 151108
e. (U) Mohanded Juma Juma (sic), Detainee # 152307
f. (U) Mustafa Jassim Mustafa, Detainee # 150542
g. (U) Shalan Said Alsharoni, Detainee, # 150422
h. (U) Abd Alwhab Youss, Detainee # 150425
i. (U) Asad Hamza Hanfosh, Detainee # 152529
j. (U) Nori Samir Gunbar Al-Yasseri, Detainee # 7787
k. (U) Thaar Salman Dawod, Detainee # 150427
l. (U) Ameen Sa'eed Al-Sheikh, Detainee # 151362
m. (U) Abdou Hussain Saad Faleh, Detainee # 18470
(ANNEX 26)

http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/library/reports/2004/800-mp-bde.htm

Now, here's why to me, it isn't a moral equivolency argument.

The "good guys" shouldn't resort to behavior usually associated with "bad guys".

The stuff that went on at Abu Ghraib was reminiscent of the KGB at some gulag, and it was done in the name of the United States Government. What went on at Gitmo and the other "secret prisons" we'll probably never know, which is even more frightening. Tragically, most of these "detainees" were eventually RELEASED, meaning...why were they there, being tortured in the first place?

There are dictators, gangsters, terrorists, thugs, warlords, drug lords, pimps, slavetraders and all sorts of loathesome miscreants throughout the world. When I hear of attrocities committed by these types, it doesn't shock or surprise me in the least, because for the most part, there's no confusion as to what they are, and what they're about.

If the United States government, as an alleged symbol of freedom, democracy and human rights carries itself in a manner similiar to theirs, what distinguishes us in the minds of the citizens of the world? When the President goes on worldwide television proudly boasting of secret prisons, torture, coerced testimony and the circumventing of 60 year old Geneva Convention articles, you can't ask for a better recruitment commercial for radical groups who've been preaching hatred of America for years.

As Americans, most I would assume would "root for the home team", but asking for blind trust and unquestioned obeisance in dubious policies, activities and programs is NOT what the Founding Fathers intended.

--Cobra