Monday, August 28, 2006

The disproportionate response of the West...

Hat tip to Cox and Forkum for the cartoon.

Why is the West so ineffective in coping with Islamic Jihadists? In a must-read article in the Opinion Journal today, Shelby Steele maintains that we in the West completely misunderstand the Jihadists nature and misinterpret their motivations, and are therefore incapable of responding effectively.

Life and Death:
Western guilt blinds us to the nature of Islamic extremism.

...Israel can do nothing to appease the Muslim animus against her. And now much of the West is in a similar position, living in a state of ever-heightening security against the constant threat of violence from Islamic extremists...

...the anti-Semite comes to a chilling place: He easily joins himself to evil in order to serve God. Fighting and even killing Jews brings the world closer to God's intended human hierarchy. For Nazis, the "final solution" was an act of self-realization and a fulfillment of God's will. At the center of today's militant Islamic identity there is a passion to annihilate rather than contain Israel. And today this identity applies the anti-Semitic model of hatred to a vastly larger group--the infidel. If the infidel is not yet the object of that pristine hatred reserved for Jews, he is not far behind. Bombings in London, Madrid and Mumbai; riots in Paris; murders in Amsterdam; and of course 9/11--all these follow the formula of anti-Semitism: murder of a hated enemy as self-realization and service to God.

Hatred and murder are self-realization because they impart grandeur to Islamic extremists--the sense of being God's chosen warrior in God's great cause. Hatred delivers the extremist to a greatness that compensates for his ineffectuality in the world. Jews and infidels are irrelevant except that they offer occasion to hate and, thus, to experience grandiosity. This is why Hezbollah--Party of God--can take no territory and still claim to have won. The grandiosity is in the hating and fighting, not the victory.

And death--both homicide and suicide--is the extremist's great obsession because its finality makes the grandiosity "real." If I am not afraid to kill and die, then I am larger than life. Certainly I am larger than the puny Westerners who are reduced to decadence by their love of life. So my hatred and my disregard of death, my knowledge that life is trivial, deliver me to a human grandeur beyond the reach of the West. After the Madrid bombings a spokesman for al Qaeda left a message: "You love life, and we love death." The horror is that greatness is tied to death rather than to achievement in life.

The West is stymied by this extremism because it is used to enemies that want to live

The Western Political Left sides with the Jihadists, and muddies the waters further by interpreting the Jihadists actions as stemming from the same causes and grievences the Western Left embraces:

...Islamic extremists don't hate the West because they are oppressed by it. They hate it precisely because the end of oppression and colonialism--not their continuance--forced the Muslim world to compete with the West. Less oppression, not more, opened this world to the sense of defeat that turned into extremism.

But the international left is in its own contest with American exceptionalism. It keeps charging Israel and America with oppression hoping to mute American power. And this works in today's world because the oppression script is so familiar and because American power cringes when labeled with sins of the white Western past. Yet whenever the left does this, it makes room for extremism by lending legitimacy to its claim of oppression. And Israel can never use its military fire power without being labeled an oppressor--which brings legitimacy to the enemies she fights. Israel roars; much of Europe supports Hezbollah.

Over and over, white guilt turns the disparity in development between Israel and her neighbors into a case of Western bigotry. This despite the fact that Islamic extremism is the most explicit and dangerous expression of human bigotry since the Nazi era...

(bold emphasis mine) Steele hits the nail on the head with this one, it was hard to choose excerpts; it's not a very long article, and the whole thing is worth reading.

Hat tip to Tammy Bruce for the link, via her post:

Western Guilt and Our Islamic Enemy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Chas, you have arrived at a profound understanding of the problem--those who want death versus those who desire life!
We all know how charismatic near-death experiences can make people. A failed suicide once told me that just the attempt had been a huge boost to his previously-failing ego.
Imagine the feeling had he succeeded!
That's no joke! If you are a martyr when you blow yourself up, if SOMEHOW you survived you would be--A MESSIAH!
And that, in the end, is what all these madmen desire!