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Whose Broad Brush And Bright Ideas?

With the widespread unpleasant response to Geert Wilders' film on Islam, "Fitna," I'm finding myself thinking about the "big picture" thing again. And, as usual, I'm making myself angry.

Muslims around the world are calling on all governments to get behind censoring the film. And make no mistake -- it's censorship, plain and simple. Whether it's being done as an "appeal to understanding" or naked threats of violence, the end result is the same -- they are getting their way and suppressing a film that says things they don't like.

Their biggest target is the Dutch government. After all, Wilders is a Dutch legislator, so his government should be held accountable for his actions.

I find it remarkably similar to the hysteria a couple of years ago when a Danish newspaper published those cartoons of Mohammed. In both cases, whole nations and governments and societies were held accountable for the actions of a few of its members. There were attacks on Danish embassies, threats of boycotts of Danish products, and demands that the Danish government apologize and suppress the offending newspaper.

This, of course, was in addition to the demands for the heads of the cartoonists, publishers, and everyone else involved in the mess.

So, we see that the idea of a whole being responsible for the actions of a few is a very strong element of Islamist thinking. (If that isn't too much of an oxymoron.)

But on the other hand, what is the response when a few Muslims commit atrocities? "Why, you cannot blame all Muslims for their actions!"

Why not, I ask? Are they not saying that they are acting in the finest Islamic traditions, fulfilling their Muslim duties, citing Koran passages and hadiths and fatwas and Shariah law, while they are doing it? Are they not claiming to act on behalf of all Islam?

Yes, but that doesn't count.

On the other hand, where does Geert Wilders say that he is acting on behalf of the Dutch government and Dutch people? When did he say that his actions are representative of anyone but himself?

Or when did the Danish newspaper say that it was the official publication of the Danish government? That it was acting not on its own, but with the full backing of the Danish people?

The difference, it seems to me, is the defense offered. To the West, it's a simple matter of saying "they are individuals, and individuals have the right to freely express themselves in our traditions and under our laws. The government does not have the authority to repress them."

That simply doesn't wash with the Islamists. They cannot grasp the fundamental nature of Western governments -- that all governmental power derives from the consent of the governed. That the governments have certain restraints laid upon them, and the people have certain rights that are guaranteed.

More fundamentally, those rights are not guaranteed by the government, but merely recognized. They didn't come from any earthly government, so no earthly government can take them away.

Conversely, the Islamic defense for not tainting all Muslims with the actions of a few is... um...

I might need some help here.

As far as I can tell, it boils down to "you can't blame all of us because we don't want you to." They don't make any efforts to purge the radicals from their midst, they don't cooperate in isolating and defeating them, and they show a remarkable concern for their welfare and well-being. They need to be treated with respect when captured, they get terribly bent out of shape if their bodies are not given a full Muslim funeral service, and so on.

To the average Muslim, all Westerners are interchangeable. George W. Bush is the same as Howard Dean as Cynthia McKinney as Ron Paul to Kos to Charles Johnson to Keith Olbermann to Roger Clemens. Any misdeed by any American is grounds for retaliating against any other (or all other) Americans.

I think Glenn Greenwald might be able to explain that one for us. Or, if he's too busy, perhaps he can have Rick Ellensberg or Thomas Ellers or Ellison or any of those other people who write in his voice and post from his IP fill us in.

Or, perhaps, it is because of our freedom. We take such pride in declaring and asserting our freedom. Maybe it is that that so aggrieves them -- "if you're going to keep insisting that those people are free to do that, then you're going to be responsible for how they use that freedom you give them." They don't recognize that we don't GIVE ourselves that freedom, we RECOGNIZE it in our selves and in others.

They, on the other hand, are under no such delusions. They are slaves to the will of Allah ("Islam," it must be remembered at all times, does NOT mean "peace," it means "submission") and therefore they are exempt from being judged for their actions -- they don't choose to do such things, it's all "in'shallah," or "Allah's will."

Or, as a born-again agnostic, I could be completely off base with that one. I find all religions have, at their core, something nutty. Most of them I view as mostly harmless; only a few (Islam, Scientology, the Westboro Baptists, Heaven's Gate, Aum Shinrikyo, Branch Davidians, Jonestown) strike me as actually malignant.

Like most double standards, it's delightfully self-serving. It fulfills the need of the Muslim community to distance itself from its more radical elements when convenient, yet allows itself to assert its monolithic nature when that better serves its purpose.

Conversely, the West must be portrayed as monolithic and unified whenever possible, to not only tar the vast majority with the deeds of the few, but to heighten the "oppressed minority" argument they have learned to trot out at every opportunity. The disparate elements of the West are only brought up when a portion of them need to be singled out for praise -- the "good dhimmis" and the like.

And like most double standards, once it's recognized for what it is it utterly guts the arguer of any moral credibility or reputation for honesty.

At least, it ought to. Unfortunately, we have too many "good little dhimmis" who are more than eager to keep up the pretense on the Muslims' behalf.


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Comments (15)

First rate analysis Jay. Ex... (Below threshold)

First rate analysis Jay. Excellent perspective.

Very good JT. My thoughts e... (Below threshold)

Very good JT. My thoughts exactly. Islam religion is based on fear. ww

Remember when the Jews prot... (Below threshold)

Remember when the Jews protested against the showing of The Passion of the Christ because it portrayed them in a negative light? Yeah, those Jews sure do have a religion based on fear and suppression. Oh wait.

I suppose that all Muslims ... (Below threshold)

I suppose that all Muslims are not interchangeable to most non-Islamists? My reading of the posts to "God help us they're learning" suggests otherwise.

Not that I don't agree it would be wise to send the all packing before the Second Caliphate emerges from behind its current curtains. It seems its going to take more than a little dog's barking and tugging at the curtain to get an appropriate reaction to the evil Wizard of Umar.

Jay,Great post. I... (Below threshold)


Great post. I am always amused by the radical islamist labels, when the supposed moderate muslims only speak up when it is their ox that has been gored. The Jordanians were quick to yelp when their wedding parties get blown up not so quick when it is somebody elses. I do believe there are individually moderate muslims, on a personal basis, but as a group, no. At best the moderate muslims are just waiting to see if the radical islamists are going to pull off world conquest, then they will share the spoils.

I believed you missed one good comparison. As Muslims, they have no will but to be muslim, allah offers no other choice (at least as they see it). One of the great freedoms of Christianity is the we have a choice of acceptance or not. God gave us a free will to accept his divine gift, or to refuse it. He was even so kind as to give us Christian believers to share his word, so we can have detailed knowledge of what we are being offered. Islam is the anti-thesis of Christianity.

What kind of choice is it, ... (Below threshold)

What kind of choice is it, Matt, when certain Christians believe that a failure to accept Christ as their saviour is tantamount to condemning oneself to an eternity in Hades? Threatening infidels with execution unless they convert to Islam is immoral coercion, to be sure, but how would you describe the threat of eternal torture, especially when we're talking about children? You might say that one threat is easier to ignore, but I find it just as easy to ignore some douche bag with a sword in Saudi Arabia as I do the glassy-eyed weirdos who come knocking on my door bearing gifts of salvation through acceptance of their circular argument.

Islam is crazy, sure, but that doesn't require us to understate the craziness of all religions, except maybe Judaism--all that wackiness in the Torah and Talmud is actually harmless because they never proselytize. Unitarians might also be an exception, though I don't know anything about them.

So... what you're saying i... (Below threshold)

So... what you're saying is

'If the hundreds of attacks by Islamofascist terror bombers are NOT representative of the "Religion of Peace" how is it we are collectively responsible for a film by a single Dutchman that illustrates the fact that hundreds of Islamofascist terror bombers are killing in the name of the "Religion of Peace"?'

Yeah. I've noticed that too.

Umm... sane Muslims ... (Below threshold)

Umm... sane Muslims don't think we're collectively responsible for the film, Dane.

To preempt any accusation that there's no useful way of delineating sane from crazy within Islam, how's this for a starting point?: crazy = called for jihad following the cartoons/this movie/whatever other perceived offense; sane = did not.

To preempt any accusatio... (Below threshold)
Mike G in Corvallis:

To preempt any accusation that there's no useful way of delineating sane from crazy within Islam, how's this for a starting point?: crazy = called for jihad following the cartoons/this movie/whatever other perceived offense; sane = did not.

Matthew, you left out "crazy and quiet."

matthew, it's quite simple:... (Below threshold)

matthew, it's quite simple: if a Christian threatens me with eternal damnation (and some have), I just shrug and say "we'll see."

A Muslim, on the other hand, will make the same threat, and then more than likely help me find out if it's true or not right then and there.

And what do I call the Muslims who don't call for the heads of the infidels? The phrase "unindicted co-conspirators" comes to mind. Or "accessories after the fact." They not only don't do anything about the crazies, they get royally pissed when we do try to do something about the crazies.

Witness CAIR.


Yes, some non-interventioni... (Below threshold)

Yes, some non-interventionists are certainly apologists, but not all of them, unless you're willing to hold every Catholic responsible for the stupid things that tend to fall out of Benny the Vampire's mouth, right?

As for a Muslim threatening to kill you, and then following up on it, has this ever happened to a single person you know? AIDS has killed more people I know than Islam has, to say nothing of cancer or car accidents. I'm sure there's a ton of anecdotes from around the world that buttress your concern--I've read some, and they're horrible--but of the millions of Muslims living in North America, it seems to me that the vast majority are more concerned with making a buck and living decent lives than transforming the cultural landscape of the planet through violence or, more hilariously, through intentionally shifting the demographics by having kids and (gasp!) raising them in the same religion as themselves. Now I can think of lots of reasons not to force a religion onto one's kids, and to allow them to decide for themselves at a certain age (14? 16? I dunno...), but those reasons could be (should be) applied to any faith, not just the Islamic variety.

By the way, do you know any Suffi Muslims? I think you're more likely to be killed by a sword-wielding Tibetan Buddhist than a Suffi.

Some four years ago, James ... (Below threshold)

Some four years ago, James Lileks hit the nail on the head ...

There are five reactions one could have to such acts [of terrorism], committed by a coreligionist: Endorsement, Indifference, Denial, Rejection, Participation.

Denial: I'm sure you've heard this before: "Islam is a religion of peace." But those people committed horrible violence in the name of Islam. "Then they are not true Muslims. No Muslim could do this." Rinse, repeat. It's the theological equivalent of putting your hands over your ears and humming loudly.

Rejection: This would be speaking out singly or in concert with fellow Muslims, denouncing the acts without making the entire peroration an elaborate plinth on which to place the word "BUT."

Indifference: I'm a Muslim in Indonesia. I work in a bank. I'm not particularly devout. I like a beer on a hot day, and you know what? They're all hot days. Some guys slit someone's throat in Iraq. I think that's wrong and I think that's stupid. And what do you expect me to do about it?

Endorsement: I'm not sure what constitutes endorsement - silent pleasure among others not of the faith, chortling delight when you're with friends. Or perhaps nothing more than thanking Allah when you hear certain things have been done in Allah's name, and never acting or speaking a way that supports the jihadist's cause.

Participation. It's obvious what this means.

Here's the crux: of these five aspects, four assist the jihadists in one form or another, and the fifth - Rejection - all too often takes a passive form. Hugh [Hewitt] had a Somali Muslim on his show from Minneapolis; they spoke for almost 40 minutes, and the guy's heart was in the right place. He sounded like a decent fellow. He said the Imam of his mosque regularly preached against the nutball Islamists. One hundred million more like him, please. But where are the rallies and marches outside the Saudi embassies demanding an end to funding extremism?

The rest is still HERE

I would think that the acts of terrorism and atrocity committed in the "name of Islam" would be just as offensive to peaceful and peace-loving Muslims as any cartoon or film would be, yet there are no protests or marches or rallies, or even calls for the deaths of the offenders when such acts take place.

Now why is that?

How many anti-extremist ral... (Below threshold)

How many anti-extremist rallies have YOU been to, Lissa? Why are you any less responsible for the actions of crazy f*ckers with bizarre interpretations of the Qur'an as normal people who go to mosques on the weekend?

Well, gee DUH Matthew. That... (Below threshold)

Well, gee DUH Matthew. That would be due to the fact that I am NOT a Muslim. I do not adhere to the teachings of the same book that Islamofascist terrorists use as their guidebook to murder and mayhem. Those Splodeydopes are not acting in the name of MY religion, I have no need to speak out, other than to state unequivocally that they are nothing more than chicken-shit retards that are a complete waste of oxygen.

Put your brain in gear before posting, would you?

I'm not a Scientolo... (Below threshold)
Angela Gupta Nina Reyes07 Bruce Benson:

I'm not a Scientologist but maybe it could help the people who are attacking it with their crimes.






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