Monday, December 14, 2015

Why Can't Muslim Haters See They're Playing Into ISIS' Hands?

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gives newly arrived Syrian refugee Sylvie Garabedian, centre, a winter jacket as her mother, Anjilik Jaghlassian, right, looks on at Pearson International airport on Friday. Trudeau's photo-ops with refugees are cause for optimism, not cynicism, Martin Regg Cohn writes.
Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau greets Syrian refugees Friday morning in Toronto "to show the world how to open hearts and welcome people.”

The Wall Street Journal's Yaroslav Trofimov hit it squarely on the head when he wrote ('Islamic State Tries To Forge Divide in the West', Dec. 11, p. A9):

"The group's objective is clear: To bait Western societies into an indiscriminate backlash that, if successfully provoked, would disrupt these Muslims' bonds with their countries of citizenship and residence - and as it happened with Iraq's Sunnis- validate Islamic state's claim to be their only protector"

That means every anti-Muslim wag of the tongue from a blithering idiot like Trump, every off the cuff social media insult, and every hurling of the epithet "raghead" on a blog or FB post  is another promotion for ISIS' agenda.  Quoting an expert from the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London (ibid.):

"ISIS thrives on polarization. They want people to say they hate Muslims. This is the foundation of their success"

Thus, by stupidly invoking Muslim hatred Trump and his Trumpites are playing directly into ISIS' hands by disrupting the very Muslim bonds with their nations of citizenship  to validate the Islamic State's insidious claim as their only protector. Also, as a recent article pointed out  - the incessant shaming of political correctness (in trying to contain his anti-Muslim diatribes) is merely fashioning an excuse to spew hate. It isn't really about attacking "PC" at all but trying to justify hate speech.

This take is further reinforced in the Dec. 12-13 WSJ Review article, 'How to Beat This Enemy' (p. C1), noting:

"The theocratic ideology of Islamism thrives on division, polarization and claims of Muslim victimhood.. Islamic State's leaders insist that the U.S. and the rest of the West  are waging a global war against all Islam and Muslims.  This is obvious nonsense but by a combination of provocation and self-fulfilling prophecy  Islamic State is doing everything possible to make it a reality  - helped along, alas, by Donald Trump and his call for complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."

That, along with directing hateful epithets at Muslims on social media, or tossing severed pigs' heads on the doorways of Mosques (as recently happened in Texas) propels the very polarization that ISIS wants. By contrast, as shown by Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau - when one welcomes Syrian refugees one shows he transcends being a puppet for the polarizers or ISIS. Trudeau also made clear in The Toronto Star that "We get to show not just a planeload of new Canadians what Canada is all about, but we get to show the world how to open our hearts and welcome people.”

As The Star explained:  "there is much to be said for a nation-state self-consciously showcasing its treatment of stateless refugees. Far from being empty symbolism, it serves as a defiant testament of Canadians coming to the aid of people a world away." Indeed, so why aren't American politicians or more of our people able to show such generosity? I suspect because the 'lizard brains' of too many have been triggered by lizard-brained politicos.

This is why too many Americans - say on seeing the image at the top of this post- will  think Trudeau is "pro-terrorist", unhinged, or simply a gullible dope for his welcome of the first of up to 25,000 refugees - in a nation of barely 12 million. But Trudeau is, in fact,  showing the rational way to respond for any Western nation that really wants to subdue ISIS. The videos showing the Canadians in Toronto welcoming Syrian refugees effectively amounts to an educational video for Americans on how to deal with ISIS.

Another, lesser aspect dealt with by author Maajid Nawaz is that both liberals and Muslim- hating pro- Trump conservatives are making critical errors in the interpretation of ISIS in relation to Islam.

The liberal error is the fear of "calling Islamist ideology by its proper name". Thus, too many liberals fear the Muslim community and religiously intolerant "will hear the word 'Islam'  and simply assume all Muslims are being held responsible for the excesses of the Jihadist few"

In other words, liberals fear the word use will be an example of the fallacy of composition.  But as Nawaz notes:

"It is as disingenuous to argue that Islamic State is entirely divorced from Islam as it is to assert it is synonymous with Islam. Islamic State does have something to do with Islam. That something is the way in which Islamists justify their arguments using Islamic scripture ."

As I pointed out in my December 8 post, while it's true the Qu'ran contains outlandishly extreme passages in terms of  "jihad" and  "infidels",  it is also true that most Muslims today don't literally accept those statements any more than  Christians literally accept the extreme sanctions such as stoning homosexuals or adulterers to death as seen in Deuteronomy or Kings. For instance, 2 Kings 2, 23:24 allows children to be slain by wild animals ("she bears")  if they insult their elders or any authority  (in this case a prophet).  Similarly, by Deut. 22:22 both John Edwards and his former girlfriend (Riele Hunter) would have been stoned to death.

The point is that enlightened followers of a religion do not mindlessly follow its every admonition, phrase injunction or prescription. Even most Catholics I know no longer follow the idiotic anti-birth control dogma. (Which to be fair, is nowhere in the Bible anyway.) I've also met Catholics that no longer believe in papal infallibility but they still remain nominal Catholics.

Why can't the same be true for Muslims? Just because certain sections of their book says "slay the infidels" doesn't mean all Muslims will feel compelled to act like zombies or robots and obey it any more than most Christians will feel the need to follow an injunction from Leviticus to slay homosexuals.

We have to give all religious people- including Muslims -  a modicum of credit for common sense, sound judgment and temperance.  It is baseless then to inveigh against and vilify an entire religion based on what a minor subset of radical fundamentalists (who adhere to every word) do.

Thus, the term "radical Muslims" ought to be used in the same way we might use the term radical right wing Christians - say like Kevin Swanson- who last month convened a National Religious Liberties Conference and invoked Leviticus 20:13  as well as Romans 1, to stone homosexuals to death. (He later said we "didn't have to do this yet" because "there was still time for them to change")

In either case - radical extremist Christian or radical extremist Muslim-  we are looking at an unhinged segment that seeks to justify heinous acts using arguments selectively based on their more primitive textual references - interpreted literally. Since both Bible and Qu' ran contain such passages then it stands to reason not all members of the respective belief system can be guilty. Only that subset that believes in taking the words literally and acting out.

To fail to make that distinction, namely in the case of radicalized Muslims like Tashfeen Malik,  is to commit two gross errors: 1) to fail to name and call out the Islamist extremists who adopt the jihad aspects of the Qu'ran literally ("the Voldemort effect" according to Namaz), and 2) the failure to distinguish rational Muslims who do not take jihadist passages literally from the radical fundamentalists who do.

On a solidly good note, our local Islamic Society here in the Springs is now holding weekly open houses to explain the basis of their faith to locals. This includes the clear separation of passages that today's Muslims do not take literally, according to organizer Arshad Yousufi. As he noted over the weekend:

"There are a lot of misconceptions about Islam which I think harms the American attitude toward Muslims."

The purpose of the open houses and question sessions - which have seen 'full house' attendance, is o clear the air and reduce these hostile attitudes which only serve to feed ISIS propaganda.

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