Words To Consider

Russell J. Suchy, a retired Air Force colonel and former chief of security operations for the Strategic Air Command, wrote in the foreword to Woosley’s book: “One of the most basic premises of successfully fighting a war remains: ‘Know your enemy.’

“The American psyche does not comprehend the concept of Jihad, where merely saying ‘kafir’ (infidel) reduces any non-Arab man, woman or child to something akin to a mosquito to be swatted without so much as a momentary regret.” So we are learning.

When Suchy wrote those words in 2000, we were coming up on the 10th anniversary of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. At the time, Suchy wondered whether we’d be ready for the terrorist attacks sure to come, and whether America would be successful. His answer now seems a mandate for America:

“Not,” he said, “if we do not understand what drives such primitive levels of human destruction.”
-from Kathleen Parker

The topic of the issues more and more needs to shift to defining who we are dealing with in this War on Terrorism. We still are vague in our understanding of Islamic mindset. We still do not have insightful explanation for what drives the huge portion of the worlds population under the Muslim appelation. We are not sure how they function as a group.

This seems a grave weakness and a lack of discretionary judgment on our part in the West. And the Left ought to be engaged on whether they consider it reasonable to accept that Islamists may be excused in their killing for the sake of offended sensibilites about their book or whether there should be world wide hunts for such a Rushdie because of words that were considered worthy of death.

The Left needs to be engaged. They need to be pressed on their rationale.

3 thoughts on “Words To Consider”

  1. Hi Ilona,

    This is not a hugely complex issue, to my way of thinking. I don’t know anyone on the Left who would defend attacks on Rushdie for his book. (Maybe I don’t get out enough). There is a clear difference between “someone wrote something I didn’t like” and “someone bombed my city/bulldozed my house”. Also, explanations do not equal excuses.

    Secondly, I think you are falling into a trap with such analysis of “Muslims” “the Muslim mindset” “Islamists” and the trap is shown in the writings you quote. You’re working from the assumption that they are so unbelievably different and primitive compared to you that an “American” literally cannot understand a “Muslim”.

    It might be interesting to remember the rhetoric over Kosovo and that the same things were said about (Christian) Serbs – they were products of “a diseased culture”, of an “Old World” which was radically different from “modern” “humanitarian” and “American” ways of thinking. Before that, the same things were said about the Japanese, and the Russians during the Cold War. We can go all the way back to writings about Native Americans and hear the same tune being played. It says more about the player.

    v.

  2. I understand what you are saying ( and btw-good to hear from you!), especially since I have read some who do truly hold “the assumption that they are so unbelievably different and primitive compared to you that an “American” literally cannot understand a “Muslim”.”

    That is not what I think nor what I am trying to say, although I am not strongly clarified in my writing. What I believe is that the religious mindset of the Muslim *is* very different, not in the way of “primitive”, but in the way of tenets of faith. Americans tend to get all fuzzy on differences in religion. They tend to believe that all “civilized ” people think in basically the same way, but the Muslim, as well as many Eastern forms of thinking are very different in approach. we cannot understand them through ‘projection’. They’re not coming from the same premises.

    “the rhetoric over Kosovo and that the same things were said about (Christian) Serbs – they were products of “a diseased culture”, of an “Old World” which was radically different from “modern” “humanitarian” and “American” ways of thinking.”

    Exactly. You are right. It is again the singular view that what we have in our society is an evolved form. I think it is a different form -not evolving from just anything, the “Old World” had more distinctions between cultures and history with each other. America did not have this and formed something altogether different. It is something that seems better suited to freedom, so when a populace decides it wants more freedoms it goes towards a democratic form.

    What you notice in the writings you denote as about Native Americans, etc. are the attitudes that come from a mix of Christian Evangelism and Anglo-Saxon Imperialism. There is a patronizing tone, but there is also a belief in the essential good of the goal.

    Again it comes down to different ideologies, and whether one is better than another. Islam has a different ideology than Christianity, or the Christian offspring ( even including humanism-which borrows much from Christian values and is reactive to them, as well).
    And that is a different type of thinking.
    ====
    “I don’t know anyone on the Left who would defend attacks on Rushdie for his book. ”

    Essentially, if you align with radical Islamists and support their agenda, you are supporting them in things such as their man-hunt with intent to kill of Salmon Rushdie. They do ithat within the tenets of their religion. That is what the Left does not see. It is a common blindspot.

  3. Always a pleasure visiting here. 🙂

    “Americans tend to get all fuzzy on differences in religion. They tend to believe that all “civilized ” people think in basically the same way, but the Muslim, as well as many Eastern forms of thinking are very different in approach. we cannot understand them through ‘projection’. They’re not coming from the same premises.”

    This is undoubtedly true, but material conditions form religious shapes too. The religion leads to the conditions less than the conditions lead to the religion.

    I’m wary of attempts to “mystify” the other guy. A lot of (especially US) writings I’ve read seem to suggest Muslims are operating from something completely “other”. It’s not a view I subscribe to.

    “America did not have this and formed something altogether different. It is something that seems better suited to freedom, so when a populace decides it wants more freedoms it goes towards a democratic form.”

    It would depend on your definition of “freedom”. Probably this is too large a topic for a comments box, though. 😉

    “Again it comes down to different ideologies, and whether one is better than another. Islam has a different ideology than Christianity, or the Christian offspring ( even including humanism-which borrows much from Christian values and is reactive to them, as well).”

    Islam is in some ways very OT, but the OT is also part of the Christian tradition, eh? Plenty of smiting and blood and guts.

    I’ve sometimes wondered whether Islam is going through the throes of development like Christianity did and something entirely new and different will emerge from it. After all, Muslims believe God has to be approached through logic and reason, IIRC, and there have been many fine Muslim scientists. But I don’t really know enough about the topic to comment.

    This is where I point out that Marxism has been described as a “Christian heresy” too…;)

    “Essentially, if you align with radical Islamists and support their agenda, you are supporting them in things such as their man-hunt with intent to kill of Salmon Rushdie. ”

    How does the Left do this, in your view? I’ve heard the criticism made before, but in both a broader sense than you probably mean it and also in a far narrower sense (dealing specifically with UK left politics). So I’m not sure how you mean it.

    *scratching head* Ah, I know what I mean….

    “They do ithat within the tenets of their religion.”

    They do, and so does Fred Phelps. Both are choosing the bits they like of their religion and ignoring the other parts.

    “That is what the Left does not see. It is a common blindspot.”

    We have an inclination towards the underdog, but I don’t think it blinds most of the Left to fanatics in any religion.

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