Op-Ed: The Pretense of Moderate Islam
Jeffrey LudwigThe writer is a Harvard University Master Teacher who has taught at Harvard,...
We are to presume that Islamics are the same as we are. We supposedly share the same ideals and dreams.
The big news of the week is that Sunnis in yet another murderous onslaught are attacking the Shi’ite dominated government of Nuri al-Maliki in Iraq. The attacking organization, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), now controls entire sections of Syria and Iraq, including the major city of Mosul as well as Tikrit, Fallujah, and Kirkut.
After worldwide display of photos taken by ISIS purporting to show them machine gunning to death some of the 1700 prisoners who had surrendered to them, presumably former members of the Iraqi army, the brilliant media pundits have described them as barbarians who were even too savage for al-Qaeda.
Under this description of events, al-Qaeda assumes the role of “moderate”, and, in fact, this new group, now advancing on Baghdad, is so savage as to warrant our speaking with Iran about possibly working together to eradicate it. Thus, not only is al-Qaeda projected as “moderate,” but Iran is also being projected as more moderate than they might normally be considered (“the enemy of our enemy is our friend”).
Add to this that the new coalition government of Palestinian Arabs combining the good offices (sic) of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas will continue to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid, despite the illegality of that aid being provided (88 of 100 Senators have protested and have been ignored). Thus, Hamas is now to be treated as more “moderate” despite the fact that it is on our official State Department list of terrorist organizations.
Three fine young men have been kidnapped as the first public outrage by Hamas since the unification government was formed, and the U.S. and Israel are seeking the cooperation of the Palestinian Authority in finding those young men. This search for cooperation also implies that the P.A. is sufficiently “moderate” to cooperate just at the time when they have become more extremist in their goals and methods.
Prior to this sequence of events, the Muslim Brotherhood was being portrayed as moderate and even democratic compared to the dictatorial government of Hosni Mubarak. Also, the rebels of al-Qaeda and other jihadist organizations in Libya were considered sufficiently moderate to warrant overthrowing that extremist anti-American Muammar Gaddafi.
Also the U.S. government is reportedly supplying weapons to rebel extremists in Syria, but is claiming that the weapons are going to rebel moderates, although whatever moderate factions there may have been were already obliterated.
Then add to this picture that 19 jihadists were quietly released during the past week from prison camps in Afghanistan, that five Taliban leaders (we have been fighting the Taliban for 11 years) were set free in Qatar, and that the perpetrators of 9/11 have still not been sentenced and we begin to see that the actors that were considered dire, mortal enemies of the USA during the War on Terror are now being minimized in terms of their existential danger to our lives and well-being.
This orgy of pretend moderation is only the tip of the iceberg of an epic public relations and policy shift in United States’ relations with the Middle East. This policy shift began with President Obama’s landmark speech in Cairo where he accepted U.S. responsibility (sic) for tensions between the U.S. and the Muslim world, especially the Arabs. Implied in that speech was that defense of U.S. interests in the Middle East over many decades has not been as defensive as it purported to be, but that our defense masked an aggressiveness and hostility towards the Arab world that right thinking people – i.e., people like himself – need to be sensitive to and reject.
Even leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, over the objections of Pres. Mubarak, were allowed to sit in the front row during the speech as evidence of our new “openness.” Using the Presidential bully pulpit, Pres. Obama gave his own sophisticated version of Rodney King’s classic question when the Watts riots erupted in Los Angeles, “Why can’t we all just get along.” Thus, our President began his radical policy shift not with a clear vision of the future, but by enunciating a fundamentally ignorant premise.
One other development needs to be understood. The present power struggle in Iraq is typically described as between Shi’ites and Sunnis, two different branches of Islam. In portraying this conflict as a division within Islam, journalists and politicians are acknowledging the powerful influence of religious ideology in the Muslim world. Yet, when speaking about terrorism in the U.S., the association of terrorists with Islamic beliefs has been purged systematically, even from government documents dealing with terrorism.
The report on Col. Hasan’s murderous rampage at Fort Hood purposely excluded any mention of Hasan’s religious views in its efforts to depict him strictly as a deranged individual. Additionally, the religious dimension of the terrorist mindset has been almost entirely expunged from FBI training manuals.
Thus, Shi’ites and Sunnis throughout the Muslim world are literally fighting to the death over the question of the proper line of succession to Mohammed in terms of Qu’ranic authority; yet in their dealings with Western infidels (that’s us), we are being told to totally discount the religious significance of the threats, riots assassinations, kidnappings, bombings, rocket-firings, street knifings and beheadings, raping, and church burnings going on all over the non-Muslim world.
We are told that these people are bad, but they do not represent Islam. Why? Because Islam is inherently moderate.
Thus not including the religious belief system of Islamics in explaining Muslim immorality outside of the Muslim world, plus a conscious attempt to project an image of the Muslim world as moderate, is the endgame of the Obama presidency. If Islamic terrorists bomb us, kidnap and/or kill the children of our allies, curse us at public meetings, and plot mayhem and murder wherever it can be achieved, that is all to be seen as negative or even criminal behavior only, not as religiously motivated activity.
We are to presume that Islamics are the same as we are. We supposedly share the same ideals and dreams. To the extent that we do not accept that, our posturing is just defensive and reactive. If we persist in seeing the Islamic world as alien and hostile, we brand ourselves as hateful and intolerant. Our reaction in that mindset causes us to become victims (because we are projecting unnecessary hostility). Thus when we become victims, we deserve it.
This is why the “war on terror” as a rubric has been dropped.