There are two essential errors of thought that stand in the way of eradicating terrorism—or, simply relegating it to the back of the bus, as just part of the low-level, incidental evil that will probably always measurably unsettle humanity.
The idea that’s it’s somehow not ideologically tied primarily to the religion of Islam.
Hand wringing over collateral death and destruction, leading to the tying of hands in terms of effective and lasting action.
I aim to give you reasonable cause to dismiss both of those.
First of all, understand that the entirety of the schtick that goes ‘terrorists aren’t true Muslims’ is actually an informal logical fallacy known as No True Scotsman. Definition:
No true Scotsman is an informal fallacy, an ad hoc attempt to retain an unreasoned assertion. When faced with a counterexample to a universal claim (“no Scotsman would do such a thing”), rather than denying the counterexample or rejecting the original claim, this fallacy modifies the subject of the assertion to exclude the specific case or others like it by rhetoric, without reference to any specific objective rule (“no true Scotsman would do such a thing”).
In practical parlance, it takes this form:
- Person A: “No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”
- Person B: “But my uncle Angus likes sugar with his porridge.”
- Person A: “Ah yes, but no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”
You can find it all the time, even amongst communists who assert that the USSR and China weren’t truly communist countries, or even libertarians who assert that we don’t have true capitalism. The latter charge has merit, and has been well differentiated by decent libertarians and anarchists, but I’ll save that digression for another post someday.
I’ve already dealt with the perfectly valid claim that most Muslims are peaceful. They’re simply pathetically irrelevant, because their chief concern is to draw meaningless distinctions, and not to condemn terrorism within their religious ranks.
Islam is not a “religion of peace.” Christianity is not a “religion of peace.” Judaism is not a “religion of peace.” The No True Scotsman applies to all, because whenever someone does something evil in the explicit name of any of these religions, the first thing everyone does is to define them out of the religion. Ever purused EvilBible.com? Basically, you can find Godly authority for any atrocity you want, and it’s applicable to both Christians and Jews.
Mark Steyn has a good piece on this topic: The Week in Nothing to do with Islam.
Quite. Secretary Kerry doesn’t care what you name it as long as you don’t name it “Islam”. Because the not-naming of Islam is more important than the actual naming of whatever it is. Even the qualification that many have been careful to make over the years – of course, most Muslims aren’t terrorists but an awful lot of terrorists unfortunately happen to be Muslim – will no longer suffice. As President-in-waiting Hillary Clinton assures us:
Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.
So not only is terrorism nothing to do with Islam, but Muslims have “nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism”. She said this a few hours before yet another US citizen was killed by terrorists shouting “Allahu Akbar!” – this time in a mass slaughter at the Radisson Hotel in Bamako, Mali. Hostages were given a stark choice: if they could recite from the Koran, they would live; if they were incapable of reciting from the Koran, they would die. So whoever these terrorists were – “you name it” – they knew enough about Islam to be able to recognize quotations from the Koran. Yet they can’t be Muslims because Muslims have “nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism”.
It continues, but the penultimate paragraph is where I gleaned the title to this post.
And so now we have the considered position of Kerry, Clinton and Obama: Terrorism is to do with everything except Islam.
In the end, all this hand waving amounts to nothing more than methinks thou dost protest too much.
…Now to take on the 2nd error, there can be no true war against this stuff—in order to really, really defeat it into annihilation forever—until people come to grips with #1, realize that ISIS or ISIL now presides over territory and calls itself a state, and that there are innocent people there. Now, yes, I just used a tongue-in-cheek version of the aforementioned fallacy but note the difference. I’m not using it to define “war,” but rather to characterize it. So, most true Muslims aren’t terrorists is a characterization, not a definition. See?
Allow me to show you a bunch of innocent children. This will take 30 minutes of your time, but there’s no way around that. If you’re a human like me, your heart should ache at what you will see. We’re talking 3-5 year old kids being indoctrinated daily with hands-on instruction in the use of Kalashnikov, hand grenades, and hand guns.
The indoctrination of the children is actually patient and kind, making it all the more heartbreaking. You can imagine what a waste it is, that the guy featured in those kids’ indoctrination isn’t a well compensated teacher of wholesome values almost anywhere else, in almost any other circumstance.
It’s a PBS Frontline piece that just came out a couple of days ago, and is very remarkable: ISIS in Afghanistan.
What’s remarkable is that heroic journalist Najibullah Quraishi managed to get in, conduct interviews, shoot footage, and get back out with his life intact. Again, it ought not be that surprising, had you read The Atlantic piece I previously wrote about.
It’s against this backdrop that Najibullah Quraishi returned home to Afghanistan this past summer to report on the recent emergence there of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
“I’ve been embedded with the Taliban many, many times,” Quraishi says in his new FRONTLINE documentary, ISIS in Afghanistan. “But when I first heard about ISIS in Afghanistan, I was shocked. I was thinking, ‘Why ISIS in Afghanistan? What are they doing in my country?’”
What he witnessed was as disturbing for him as it was confounding — former members of the Taliban joining ranks with militants waiving the black flag of ISIS in multiple districts across eastern Afghanistan and training a new generation of jihadis.
In the district of Shaigal, Quraishi found ISIS fighters living among the locals, who told him local children are educated by the Islamic State from the age of three. At one school he visited, he filmed an instructor showing children how to shoot a Kalashnikov, how to throw hand grenades and preaching to them about the ways of jihad. In Chapa Dara district, a commander introduced him to two teenagers who he said were trained to be ISIS suicide bombers.
I took this screen clip during the documentary for the sole purpose of reminding you of my post, The Walking Dead And The Metaphysics of ISIS.
I dunno, folks. Some in comments are telling me I’m descending into madness. What do you think? Before you answer, though, at least understand how I really think. This explains it, and I’ve been a practitioner for just about 20 years, and I’d already been exposed to Yasuhiko Kimura for a few years before that.
Basically, I understand that some paradigms are better for some things, at some times, than others. I’m paradigm agnostic, though with principled qualifications.
In the case of collateral damage, what can you possibly do when the whole society is involved in the war effort, as the Frontline video makes clear? They are literally forming a whole top-to-bottom society with the explicit aim of the domination and destruction of all we value. We literally have nothing to offer them, as the utter destruction of anything and everything we could offer is their stated aim.
Consider the ‘Al-Hayat’ Editor: The World Must Launch World War Against Terror; Arab, Muslim World Must Examine Itself. Of Charnel and Al-Hayat, Reason writes:
“Charbel is the editor-in-chief of the Saudi-owned daily, which has been described in the past as ‘far and away the best and most intensely read Arab newspaper,’ certainly among Arabs living outside the Middle East.”
Charbel writes (translation by MEMRI):
“Do not say your country is far [from these events]. Do not delude yourself that your capital is well-protected. This is a war unlike anything we have previously experienced or read about. This is a world war [declared by ISIS] in order to clash with the entire world: with anyone who does not adopt its inflexible and closed-minded thought patterns and anyone who does not drink from the same fountain. Its objective is to take countries back to the Stone Age and transform [the members of] the Muslim diaspora and Muslim minorities into [living] bombs. [This war] is an comprehensive plan to eliminate the right to differ [in opinion or belief], as well as any possibility of coexistence and progress. This war is a pitch black night that is trying to extinguish the lights of liberty and dignity.
“In a war of this kind you have to choose sides. Don’t evade and don’t wring your hands. There is an urgent need to understand the origins of this predatory dinosaur. But take care not to justify the murder with the excuse that Muslims in Europe are marginalized and frustrated, and suffer from poverty and oppression here or there. Oppression does not justify the spreading of darkness. Nothing permits this itinerant slaughter.
Clear enough? Let Andrew Neil both raise your ire and inspire.
In closing, I hope you watched that Frontline piece and saw the faces of all those boys and girls. I saw this wonderful NatGeo video this morning and the first thing that came to my mind is how their faces and eyes might look if they were being exposed to this.
We’ll get past this, once men and women of good conscience man and woman the fuck up and stop worrying about hurting feelings or killing those who refuse to get out of the way or simply exist as part of the social support mechanism.
I’m on board now.