We’re told that ISIS violence in the Middle East (threatened here in the U.S.) is because of an arbitrary, almost accidental and thoroughly causeless propensity for violence. It certainly has nothing whatsoever to do with religion, our leaders insist.
Yet consider the latest beheading, this time in Oklahoma. Associated Press reports that FBI officials are investigating a beheading at an Oklahoma food distribution center after co-workers said the suspect tried to convert them to Islam after his own recent conversion. A spokesman for the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City even admits, “They have this ISIS thing on their minds and now this guy has brought it to America.”
Actually, Jihad hasn’t just arrived in America. It has been here awhile. Consider another example.
Ahmad Abousamra was recently reported to be running the social media operation for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (also known as ISIS and ISIL), a designated terrorist organization. That operation is reportedly helping to attract hundreds of fighters to ISIS from across the world — including from the U.S., Britain and Canada. Abousamra is reportedly wealthy and is one of ISIS’ primary supporters in Western countries. Abousamra [reports pjmedia.com] is 32 years old, and he is the son of a Boston doctor. He is young and he is not poor, and he is not ignorant. He is also not unacquainted with western notions of individual freedom. He just rejects them.
The conventional “wisdom” of our leaders and officials is that the United States has been arrogant, and we fail to understand the wishes and needs of people (Arabs, not Israelis) who live in the Middle East. If we simply left them alone, then there wouldn’t be any ISIS-type violence. Yes, we might attack them in Syria and Iraq, but that’s simply because these are instances of random violence that have to be punished.
The truth of the matter? ISIS is not only an overseas issue; it’s imported and even homegrown. It’s not only pro-Islam; it’s explicitly and unabashedly anti-American.
What does it mean to be “anti-American”? Like others — Nazis, Communists — who have tried to defeat America in the past, anti-American means to be against the essential values that have historically distinguished America from other civilizations: Freedom, liberty, private property, individual rights, free speech and separation of church and state.
We’re dealing with an ideology that is built inside a religion. So reform the religion, right?
Not so fast. In the jihadists’ point of view, the religion does need to be reformed. And they are the reformation.
They are the ones who are bringing Islam back to its roots, reforming and reviving it, restoring it back to what Muhammad intended. They see and reject our freedoms as fundamentally halal. They see our freedoms as an affront, an attack, on Islam. The Koran gives examples of what to do when one perceives that he is “defending Islam.”
They also see their fellow non-jihadist Muslims — the vast majority — as decadent, compromised, dead in their faith. [Source: pjmedia.com 9/26/14]
This passage is an unusually eloquent description, not just of jihadists, but of the psychology of hatred. “Hatred” is a concept and word thrown around casually nowadays. What does it actually mean?
Hatred occurs when a person holding a different point of view cannot tolerate the presence of someone who doesn’t hold that point of view (or status, such as race or other characteristic). It’s not that somebody is trying to force that view on you, via coercion or terror. The mere fact that they hold it — or are in some way different from you, however peaceful — leads you to wish to eliminate them.
In other words, if you’re a jihadist, you cannot tolerate the idea that there’s a separation of church and state. It’s not enough to be left alone to practice your own beliefs. You want other people to be forced to adopt and live by your ethical code and dogmas. The fact that others refuse to do so makes you anxious, rageful and wildly angry.
When hatred in one meets unearned guilt in another, you have a recipe for disaster — even catastrophe. This is what’s happening. Many Americans feel unearned guilt for having been too successful. They feel that their country, including their big oil companies, has ruined the Middle East and, in a way, the United States is getting at least some of what it deserves. Our elected officials, clergy persons and intellectuals are all too ready to place the blame on America for all these problems. Just the other day, Obama again apologized for America at the U.N., saying we never live up to our ideals, because our police are supposedly all racist. He might as well be saying to the world, “Bring it on ISIS. We know we deserve it.”
But people like this man beheading an innocent woman in Oklahoma, or this American-raised FBI-wanted terrorist doing social media work for ISIS, have not been the victim of anything. Such people are motivated by hatred. They cannot stand the fact that others choose or want to live in radically different ways than they do; and for that, they must be punished.
A guilt-laden and slightly ashamed America (led by people, right now, who don’t even like America all that much themselves) are no match for the unfettered, unyielding and uncompromising hatred of jihadists.
I don’t know how the jihadists could make it any clearer. Every word, every action — every beheading, every blow up — makes it crystal clear: “We don’t like how you live. We’re not prepared to live in a world and tolerate people who think and live differently from us. Therefore, we will do everything we can to blow you to pieces, and destroy your morale in the meantime.”
Nobody but a guilt-laden people could be victimized by such hatred. We’re victims, and we don’t need to be. The problem is, many of us don’t see ourselves as vulnerable to losing what we have. We imagine ourselves to be living in a world that has always been, and always will be, free and rational. It’s almost as if everything America has created over the generations were accidental, causeless or magical.
Instead of seeing freedom as the rare, unusual — and fragile — exception that it always has been, we assume it will go on forever, and that surely nobody as nutty as these jihadists could ever put a stop to it.
In a way, that’s true. Freedom, when defended in a principled and equally unyielding way, can defeat the irrationality of jihad in a New York minute. However, we can’t stand up for ourselves so long as we keep apologizing, or feeling badly about, who we are.
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