Monday, 26 November 2012
[Re-posted from January 16, 2010]
Many continue to believe that if we argue that Islam itself is the problem, this will leave the West with no solutions.
The word "solution" leapt out at me. I have written about it many times before, in regards to those who speak of a "two-state solution" to the Arab Muslim Jihad against Israel. I have written many times about what a foolish idea it is to believe that further Israeli surrenders, of claims, legal and moral and historic, and of tangible assets, especially the supreme asset, as it is viewed in the Muslim world, of land, would somehow change the immutable and uncreated words of the Qur'an, or somehow change the Hadith -- that is, change either the contents, or the rank of "authenticity," assigned to the Hadith (the written records of the words and deeds of Muhammad) more than a millennium ago by the most authoritative Muhaddithin.
I noted that Americans, unlike Europeans, are used to identifying situations that are troublesome or difficult or unpleasant as "problems," and, as problems, they are assumed to be susceptible of solution and therefore can be "solved." In some ways it is an attractive attitude. It testifies to a certain strain in the national character, a belief that may come from the encounter in this country with Nature, that the settlers in order to survive had to learn to subdue. And they felt, in a different way (a way we find not quite so unobjectionable today) it was felt necessary to subdue the indigenous Indians. Nature could be overcome, other men could be overcome. And when there was a need for something to be invented, born of necessity that invention would emerge. Yankee know-how and stick-to-it-iveness, the attitude that there is "no problem in the world that cannot be solved" if we just put our minds to solve it, may seem to some comically naïve, but for many it reflects an attitude that will not disappear, and of which many of us apparently cannot be disabused.
How many times have you heard someone call in to one of those NPR Talk Shows (where the host invites one and all to "join the conversation" and then has his call-vetters carefully keep out any of those well-informed callers whose questions would throw a spanner into the whole party-line works)? The callers who are allowed on the air say that "in the Middle East those folks have been making war on each other for thousands of years" and "apparently we Americans have got to get on in and bash some heads together to solve their problems if they can't do it for themselves." It never occurs to those who make these suggestions, or those who run the shows and hear them, to ask if it is merely a question of a "problem" to be solved, where the Americans come in because the parties in question have lost all sense of perspective or are unaccountably stubborn, and "solve" the problem by a little common-sensical solution - say, that "Two-State Solution" when it comes to the Arabs and Israelis. We already know it is a solution because otherwise, why would everyone in both parties who has been working on such an outcome call it a "Two-State Solution"? Q. E. D.
And what, even for Roger Fisher, he of Harvard Law, who once galumphed all around the world peddling his made-for-television series on "Arabs and Israelis," has been one of the biggest rackets and profit centers in para-academic life? It's "Negotiation." You can learn the craft and art of "Negotiation." You can buy books, you can take courses, you can hire consultants who will help you, help anyone and everyone if the price is right, to Getting To Yes. Many of those who first worked with Roger Fisher now have their careers, and their consulting centers, and their fat, fat fees. It never occurs to anyone that you can always "Get To Yes" if one side can be pressured to giving up what it needs for its survival (see under "Israel"). And it never occurs to anyone that sometimes life is a zero-sum game - very often in fact - and that one side may not wish to listen to Sweet Reason and Get To Yes, because recovery at once of any lands once possessed by Muslims, and then slow but inexorable domination by Muslims of the entire world, is more important than any Getting To Yes could ever be (unless of course "Getting To Yes" is merely a way to weaken the Infidel enemy, a variant on the Treaty of Al-Hudaibiyya).
There is no "solution" to the war being waged on Israel. Nor is there a "solution" within Israel to the presence of those, Muslim Arabs, who do not and cannot feel loyal to the state of Israel, and wish the Jews and the State of Israel ill.
But the same thing is true in the case of Muslims all over Western Europe and, to a much lesser extent, in North America. In a few decades of criminal negligence, elites in these places allowed in many Muslims who regard the countries they have settled in as places of great comfort, stability, economic opportunity, and also as places where they must work to establish Islam. They work to increase its power and the numbers of its adherents, inexorably, to expand Muslim political power and, in addition, the power of Muslims, to intimidate outside the political system. And they work against the legal and political institutions, such as the American Constitution, that flatly contradict the spirit and letter of the Sharia. There is a way to handle this, but there is no solution.
Many begin with the idea that there is a "problem" and that, therefore, there is a "solution" or must be, and if we analyze Islam and conclude that there is no "solution" to that perceived "problem," then we shall all have to let loose the dogs of war, and everything will be terrible, and nothing good can come of it.
Those who think this way are using the wrong terms. They are using, as so many do, the language of problem-and-solution, the language of political Mr. Fixits, a language that misinterprets reality.
Is world poverty a problem? Is there a "solution" to this problem? What about human greed? Radix malorum cupiditas est, saith the Schoolmen. The desire for money is the root of all evil. Is that a "problem" to be "solved"? Or is it a condition to be recognized, and warned about, as are all the other Seven Deadlies? What about the innate inequality of intelligence among individuals? Is such inequality a "problem" to be "solved," or simply a condition to be recognized, and one not necessarily to be deplored? Is war (the permanence of) a "problem" to be "solved," or a condition to be dealt with, a threat to be made less rather than more dangerous?
The ideology of Islam cannot be changed, cannot be transformed. None of those who tried, in the early part of the 20th century, to "reform" Islam managed to succeed. And indeed, the only reason they wanted to "reform" Islam was in order to make Muslims stronger, because in the early 20th century it was clear that Muslims all over the world were weak, and the Infidel West was strong. And so some changes were entertained by a few "reformers" because they correctly perceived that Muslim weakness and wished to address its causes, not because they wanted to modify the claims of Islam, or the hold of Islam, on its adherents.
Kemal Pasha, Ataturk, was someone who sensed deeply the connection between the disorder and decadence of the Turkish state, and the political, economic, social, intellectual, and moral failures of Turkish Muslim society, and what Islam inculcated, what atmospherics it naturally gave rise to. He was not a "reformer." He knew that there was no way to change the Qur'an, the Hadith, the Sira. What he wanted to do, and systematically did do, was to curtail the power of Islam, as a political and social force, over Turkish Muslims themselves, and thereby to allow room for the development of a secular class. The tragedy of modern Turkey is that many of those who were the beneficiaries of Kemalism did not continue to work to extend its reach and its effects, and did not attain a majority in Turkey, and those who had remained faithful to Islam bided their time, and then helped bring Islam back, and it is they - Erdogan and his associates - who are in the ascendant in Turkey. Those who thought that Kemalism was forever, turned out to be wrong. It is Islam that is forever.
Apparently, some find recognition of a permanent threat too upsetting an idea. But why? Fascism, in its Nazi variant, and Communism remain political ideas that will always attract some adherents. Antisemitism, a pathological mental condition, has not been, and never will be eradicated even with the most potent of vaccination programs. But the numbers of Nazis and Communists and antisemites, relative and absolute, and their positions close to or far from power, and their consequent ability to do harm, or to influence others - all this is in the realm of what can be effected.
We can divide and demoralize the Camp of Islam. We can make some Muslims aware, even keenly aware, of all the ways that Islam itself explains the failures, political and economic and social and intellectual and moral, of their societies. We can prevent Muslim states and groups from acquiring major weaponry. We can halt Muslim immigration to the West, and make conditions such that the conduct of Muslim life becomes more and more subject to review, critical scrutiny, open discussion. Instead of extending a dangerously naïve welcome, we can make clear that we now understand the texts and tenets of Islam, and as a consequence, we feel justified in viewing those who still call themselves Muslims with suspicion and alarm.
That isn't a "solution" to a "problem." That is something much more complicated and, for those who think we can achieve an identifiable "victory" over the ideology of Islam, or over the bearers of that ideology, a "victory" that will end the matter once and for all, no doubt this view is unsatisfying. Unsatisfying perhaps it may be. But as a way to deal with the never-to-end threat of Islam, it is the one that, being based on the truth, will prove to be the most effective.
And that is the only thing that counts.
Posted on 11/26/2012 1:45 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
2 Dec 2014