The Daily Demarche
Friday, July 15, 2005
Islam and the Great Debate
I was going to post today on our relationship with Mexico vis-a-vis terrorism, our porous border and the largely unknown illegal population in the United States, based on this article:


Mexico's help with terrorists? Not unless U.S. enacts reforms Ex-foreign minister testifies before senators, says cooperation will come at cost of amnesty.

On Tuesday, former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing: "No border security is possible without Mexican cooperation" and "there can be no cooperation [from the Mexican government] without some sort of immigration reform package."

I'll definitely address this issue at some point in the future- but today our good friend Marc Schulman at American Future has asked us to join in on a conversation he has been having with a few readers related to Tom Friedman's current NY Times piece: A Poverty of Dignity and a Wealth of Rage. The key to Friedman's piece is this exchange:

Why are young Sunni Muslim males, from London to Riyadh and Bali to Baghdad, so willing to blow up themselves and others in the name of their religion? Of course, not all Muslims are suicide bombers; it would be ludicrous to suggest that.

But virtually all suicide bombers, of late, have been Sunni Muslims. There are a lot of angry people in the world. Angry Mexicans. Angry Africans. Angry Norwegians. But the only ones who seem to feel entitled and motivated to kill themselves and totally innocent people, including other Muslims, over their anger are young Sunni radicals. What is going on?

Schulman, on his blog, responds to Friedman with a "thank you":

How refreshing it is to read someone as widely influential as Friedman who dares to puts the blame squarely on Islam itself, instead of on the Bush- and Blair-blessed nostrum that Islam is a peaceful religion that's been hijacked.

That is where the fun begins. If you have not yet clicked over to American Future to read the post please do so now, I'll wait. The comments are well written, well reasoned and incredibly far reaching, covering every topic from the resurrection of Whabism in Saudi Arabia, possible collusion between the Saudis and the U.S. government, the lack of a credible leader of the anti-Jihad Muslims and the need for the Muslims of the world to stand up and solve this problem themselves. I am not going to try to address all of these issues here, but will offer my two cents on a few of them.

First, I am glad to see the Friedman piece. I agree wholeheartedly with the following sentiment contained in that piece:

Some of these young Muslim men are tempted by a civilization they consider morally inferior, and they are humiliated by the fact that, while having been taught their faith is supreme, other civilizations seem to be doing much better," said Raymond Stock, the Cairo-based biographer and translator of Naguib Mahfouz. "When the inner conflict becomes too great, some are turned by recruiters to seek the sick prestige of 'martyrdom' by fighting the allegedly unjust occupation of Muslim lands and the 'decadence' in our own."

I have long argued that the favorite leftist mantra that poverty causes terrorism is easily proved wrong by the vast preponderance of amazingly poor people who do NOT blow themselves up on a regular basis in order to seek a better life for their people. I am glad to see an Arabist promote this idea. Shame and humiliation coupled with religious indoctrination are easily forged into hate.

The Muslim world has often decried extremist acts of terror, often, but not loudly or for a prolonged period of time. Many of the refutations of these attacks have been feeble, or pro-forma. No strong leader has stood up and said "This is wrong, it has to stop." A few days ago I posted on the Ku Klux Klan and al Qaeda. The Klan ceased to be a viable terrorist organization in the U.S. when the harsh spotlight of public scrutiny made it impossible for them to recruit and to operate. No such condition exists in the Muslim world today- images of a lone cleric or two speaking out against terror, juxtaposed with scenes of people dancing in the street in celebration are hard to square. There are no Muslim "freedom riders", no marches in the streets of Londonstan, there is no Muslim dream to equal that of Dr. King's.

Finally, as Marc indicates in his response comments, the war on terror is not being waged as a long term large scale global war- there has been no call for sacrifice in the U.S. If you do not have a family member or a close friend in the military either in the Middle East or about to deploy there, the war hardly touches your life. You might buy a ribbon decal, or fly the flag in front of your house, but beyond that it is all "Desperate Housewives" and Splenda. It is hard to take the Color Code terrorist warning system seriously. Until your bus blows up on the way to work, that is.

The great debate will continue to rage, at least in the blogosphere, thanks to bloggers like Marc and his readers (and you- our readers). The question is, will this argument- is our battle against Islam or is it limited to an extremist subset- ever see the light of day in our overly PC world? Why are we not calling, loudly and repeatedly, for the Muslim world, who loves to claim that their peaceful religion has been hijacked, to solve this problem? When the KKK was terrorizing blacks (primarily) in the U.S. the black population of America did not depend on Tanzania to help defeat them. The outrage came from non-racist whites (and of course black Americans), and it was this white outrage that finally destroyed the Klan.

We can fight Islamic terror until the end of time, and without strong Muslim internal dissent, without a destruction of the recruiting base that OBL and his ilk draw from, we just might end up fighting them forever. Mr. Friedman's Bahraini friend wants to know "why are we [Muslims] in every story." I want to know why Tom's moderate friends aren't in more stories- and why they consider themselves part of the "we" that kills Russian school children, London commuters and anyone else they consider to be "other".

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dé·marche 1) A course of action; a maneuver. 2) A diplomatic representation or protest 3) A statement or protest addressed by citizens to public authorities.

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