Monday, December 28, 2015

Two Myths

Andrew McCarthy has an insightful piece at NRO in which he challenges two myths, one Republican, one Democrat, about ISIS and moderate Muslims. He begins with the Democrats' myth:
Let me ask you a question. Let’s say you are an authentically moderate Muslim. Perhaps you were born into Islam but have become secularist. Or perhaps you consider yourself a devout Muslim but interpret Islam in a way that rejects violent jihad, rejects the concept that religious and civic life are indivisible, and rejects the principle that sharia’s totalitarian societal framework and legal code must be imposed on the state.

Let’s just take that as a given: You are no more inclined toward terrorism than any truly peaceful, moderate, pro-democratic non-Muslim. So let me pop the question: Is there any insulting thing I could say, no matter how provocative, or any demeaning video I could show you, no matter how lurid, that could convince you to join ISIS?

Mind you, I am not asking whether, upon my insulting and provoking you, you would ever want to have anything to do with me again. I am asking whether there is anything that could be said or done by me, or, say, Donald Trump, or Nakoula Basseley Nakoula — the video producer (Innocence of Muslims) whom Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama tried to blame for the Benghazi massacre — that could persuade you to throw up your hands and join the jihad? Is there anything so profoundly offensive to Islam that we could conjure up that would make a truly moderate, peaceful Muslim sign up for mass murder? Torching and beheading? Killing children? Participating in systematic rape as a weapon of war?

I didn’t think so.

Yet, understand, that is what Washington would have you believe. Whether it is Barack Obama sputtering on about how Guantanamo Bay drives jihadist recruitment, or Hillary Clinton obsessing over videos (the real one by Nakoula that she pretended caused terrorism in Libya, and the pretend ones about Donald Trump that she claims have Muslims lined up from Raqqa to Ramadi to join ISIS), you are to believe violent jihad is not something that Muslims do but that Americans incite.
It's ludicrous, of course, to blame Americans and American policies for ISIS, but that's the Left's knee jerk response to whatever is wrong in the world. If it weren't for us evil Americans global peace and love would reign and the lion would lie down with the lamb. It's the bedtime story Barack Obama's mother told him when he was a child and other liberals imbibed from their university professors in the '60s.

Democrats do not hold a monopoly on the mythologizing, however. Republicans fault President Obama for not intervening sooner in Syria on behalf of the rebels, and allege that had he done so ISIS would never have gotten off the ground there. McCarthy thinks this is nonsense, and I, for what it's worth, agree.

McCarthy's point is that ISIS has a broad appeal throughout the Muslim world not because Americans insult Muslims, or because we imprison them in Guantanamo Bay, or because we avoided making the same mistake with Assad that we made with Libya's Qadaffi and Egypt's Mubarak, but because ISIS' violence strongly appeals to many Muslims who embrace a religion whose founder and holy books give ample justification for it.

In other words, the much heralded "moderate Muslim" is not nearly as common as we in America would like to think. If this seems exaggerated I recommend an article by David French at National Review Online in which French presents a compelling argument, backed up by data, in support of this claim with which he opens the essay:
It is simply false to declare that jihadists represent the “tiny few extremists” who sully the reputation of an otherwise peace-loving and tolerant Muslim faith. In reality, the truth is far more troubling — that jihadists represent the natural and inevitable outgrowth of a faith that is given over to hate on a massive scale, with hundreds of millions of believers holding views that Americans would rightly find revolting. Not all Muslims are hateful, of course, but so many are that it’s not remotely surprising that the world is wracked by wave after wave of jihadist violence.
There's much more in French's essay worth reflecting upon.