The “others”

A few things caught my eyes yesterday:

First this chart, posted on social media by Ian Bremmer, CEO of the Eurasia Group and a regular commentator on world affairs …


… I have not double checked the data; the original source, New America, seems reputable and I expect the secondary source, The New York Times, did its fact checking. What struck me was Ian Bremmer’s added comment: he noted that fully half of the deaths from “extremist” attacks, Post 9/11, in the USA were caused by Muslims who make us just 1% of the population. I don’t doubt his facts, either, but it helps  to focus attention on the nature of the “other” in our society. Like it or not, for many, probably most Americans and Canadians, too, this …

… is far more different from this …

… than many of them (us) are ready and, I daresay, able to accept. And let’s not call it racism or Islamophobia or some other sort of prejudice, let’s call it what it is: fear. It’s fear of the unknown, of the foreign, of the strange … of the “other.” Muslims are the “other” ~ not the only “other,” to be sure, but a visible and, for now, a worrisome “other” in our society.

51b6YKbnkjL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_That led me to this article in the Wall Street Journal, “Islam’s Jihad Against Homosexuals: The rise of modern Islamic extremism has worsened an institutionalized Muslim homophobia,” by well known Muslim scholar (she is a fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government) and apostate Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who says:

The Orlando massacre is a hideous reminder to Americans that homophobia is an integral part of Islamic extremism .. [but] …Not all Muslims are homophobic. Many are gay or lesbian themselves. Some even have the courage to venture into the gender fluidity that the 21st century West has come to recognize. But these LGBT Muslims are running directly counter to their religion … [and] … In his 2006 book “Crime and Punishment in Islamic Law,” the Dutch scholar Rudolph Peters notes that most schools of Islamic law proscribe homosexuality. They differ only on the mode of punishment. “The Malikites, the Shiites and some Shafi’ites and Hanbalites are of the opinion that the penalty is death, either by stoning (Malikites), the sword (some Shafi’ites and Hanbalites) or, at the discretion of the court, by killing the culprit in the usual manner with a sword, stoning him, throwing him from a (high) wall or burning him (Shiites).”

I do not doubt that what Ms Ali says, either, not even when she concludes that “This is not primarily about guns or immigration. It is about a deeply dangerous ideology that is infiltrating American society in the guise of religion. Homophobia comes in many forms. But none is more dangerous in our time than the Islamic version.

What bothers me is that we ~ the big we, which includes the 99% of Muslims who aren’t “extremists” and who don’t go around killing people ~ do not have a “plan” to 290562counter the “extremist” narrative. I am persuaded that we are facing a very clever adaptation of an old idea. I think Da’esh/ISIL/ISIS and similar groups are doing very well at fermenting a “revolution for the hell of it” sort of ideology that, still, appeals to young people but is far older than 039-039-The-Sermon-On-The-MountAbbie Hoffman or even Mao or Lenin … it is, I think,  thousands of years old. Anyway, Da’esh/ISIL/SIS provides a narrative of Western “bullying’ of poor Muslims and then invites people to become “lone wolves” and to take “direct action” for the greatest of all possible causes … and then to announce that it is doing so on behalf of the Islamic Revolution, or something equally silly, and then, after the fact, Da’esh/ISIL/ISIS takes credit for the actions of a deranged young person. But, as I said, it’s an old idea and it has been wildly attractive.

Somehow, it seems to me, we have to propagate (sell) a better, even more attractive narrative to all Canadians (and Brits and Americans, and, and, and …) that tells them that all of this …

… is qualitatively better than all of this …

… no matter who or what is the source of the hatred.

I can almost imagine the eyes rolling now …many so called ‘realists’ will, simply, want us to reload the bomb racks on the CF-18s and go back to bombing Da’esh/ISIL/ISIS in Syria and Iraq; but when the enemy weapon of choice is an idea, as I think one of our enemy’s more effective weapons is, then I believe it needs to be fought using better ideas. I am certainly not suggesting that we want politically correct CBC dramas … we want to enlist the services of the people who persuade us that a certain kind of soap will make us more attractive to the opposite sex or that Toyotas are better than Fords and so on.

Kansas-Topeka-Westboro-Churchabu-bila-ismail-makes-his-berlin-sermon-youtubeThere are some other, more direct, actions we should also be taking: we should listen to what is being said by opinion leaders in many communities ~ in mosques and temples and churches ~ and we should be prosecuting people who incite others to violence, even when they do it from pulpits, and churches and synagogues shouldn’t be immune to such scrutiny.

I am convinced that most (certainly 99%) of the Muslims I know came here for a better life: they already know that Canada is better than Pakistan or Iraq or Bangladesh or Indonesia or Saudi Arabia. Even those who are devout Muslims know that religion and democracy can co-exist as long as each respects the boundaries. I suspect that many of the Muslims I know would welcome a concerted propaganda campaign that aims to counter the Da’esh/ISIL/ISIS lies and inducements.

Anyway, that also led me to thinking about how the “other” factors in to the Brexit debate, in the post just below.

5 thoughts on “The “others””

  1. I, personally, divide Muslim states into East of Pakistan (more peaceful)and West of Pakistan (more violent). It’s just a rough division. Cultures create the foundation for religion and, therefore are more important as a base for the religion. Original Judaism and Islam are more computable with the Middle Eastern and North African cultures, who have a different and more primitive division of societal structures as in family/clan/village/neighbors etc. These areas are still very sparsely populated and didn’t have a chance and time to properly adapt to the Weaten structure and culture of city/state/nation. On such smallyscale, the concept of “honour” and respect of power of brute force and domination carries more weight. In hard environment of the Middle East, starting agriculture and domestication of animals created need for the protection from the “others” to defend your family’s possessions and food. Marrying out of the family and clan enhanced your family/clan influence. Everything is on very simplified and primitive level. This culture is being imported to the West and encouraged not to assimilate, preserve their own culture and languages and live together for mutual assistance. They do it very successfully. Some assimilate to a degree, some adapt their culture, like the Jews. At the end, the State has an interest in preserving the concept of “nation and culture” to perpetuate or allow self contained racial and cultural/linguistic enclaves (like in France) and totally lose the cohesion of the population. But that’s just my humble opinion for whatever it’s worth. Thank you

  2. I share the view that it is culture, not religion, that matters, and I, too, see East Asian Muslims (Malaysians and Indonesians, mainly, as different (more ‘enlightened’) than their Central and West Asian and Middle Eastern and African confreres. I also agree that we, the state, have a vital interest in preserving our adaptation of the European cultural model.

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