In Its Their Nature I discussed how the character of a culture can fail when its elites adopt impossible standards for the societal ego ideal. An example from the life of George Soros, a man who has devoted himself to increasing freedom but has evolved into believing that West Civilization, exemplified by Israel and the United States, is the greatest danger to freedom in the world today, sparked a fair amount of discussion. It is clear that our character is being tested by the current times in fundamental ways. What of our enemies?
The people who speak in the name of Sharia supporting Islam, whether radical Sunnis in al Qaeda or Hamas or radical Shia in Iran or Hezbollah, have summed up their Cultural Ego Ideal in a simple statement:
We love death more than you love life!
In the bizarro world of radical Islam, murdering one's enemies while killing oneself is reason for eternal glory and acclaim. The highest aspiration of a Palestinian child is to be a Suicide murderer and the highest aspirations of his parents are attained when he blows himself up killing infidels, whether Americans, Brits, Israelis, Hindus, et al. (Their list of enemies of Islam are very long and often include those who follow a version of Islam of which they disapprove.)
Sadly, most Americans remain woefully ignorant of the beliefs propagated throughout the Islamic world: (Report courtesy of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.)
During a meeting with the Egyptian press in Cairo at the beginning of August, Mahmud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, and the man on whom the United States and Europe have placed all of their hopes for peace, revealed what was at the back of his mind with regard to the Jews and the nature of the regime he plans to set up in the future State of Palestine. The official demands of the Palestinians for a settlement are known: Israel’s agreement in advance to withdraw to the borders of 1967, a freeze of construction in the territories including Jerusalem, the division of this city, including the Old City, which must become part of the Palestinian Authority, the solution of the problem of the “refugees” in conformance with Arab demands and Resolution 194 of the General Assembly of the U.N.).
When considering the possibility that a third force, such as NATO, could be given the responsibility of overseeing the implementation of the planned agreement, Mahmud Abbas imposed a condition: that there should not be a single Jewish soldier and any Israeli. “I am ready to accept a third party which supervises the implementation of the agreement, NATO forces for example, but I will not accept the presence of Jews in these forces or a [single] Israeli on the Land of Palestine.”
Anti-Semitism is the Mother's milk of Islamic radicals:
The International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) has said the only solution for the Arab- Zionist conflict was “comprehensive resistance against the Zionist enemy with the aim of liberating all of the occupied Palestine,” local Arabic newspapers reported.
IUMS chairman Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, who opened the Union’s permanent headquarters in Doha, expressed gratitude to HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani for granting the facility.
The IUMS warned of sectarian and doctrinal conflicts among Muslims, which it said would serve “only the Zionist and American interests”.
The Union described Palestinian issue as the central problem of the Muslim Nation and as the most dangerous against its future, Rohama reported.
Here is the actual statement of the IUMS.
Qaradawi is possibly the most influential Sunni religious figure in the world.
Although anti-Semitism is the apotheosis of Islam's hatred, fear, and genocidal rage at the other, we cannot take comfort in the knowledge that so much of their discourse is directed at Jews. Their hatred of Christians is only marginally less, as witnessed by the ethnic cleansing of Christian communities that go back over a thousand years in Lebanon, Iraq, and the Palestinian Territories, or the current straits in which the Egyptian Copts find themselves.
Islam's love of death is complicated by our fecklessness; since Islam is a "perfect" system, any problems with the world must be due to external forces arrayed against it. There is no tradition of self reflection or self criticism in Islam and as a result there is an extremely limited potential for self correction:
Sometime back, I noted that Muslims have been projecting the worst aspects of Islam(ism) onto the Copts, Egypt's Christian minority. This raised more questions: Is Islamist projection onto the Copts a unique phenomenon? Do Muslims project against other non-Muslims? Is there a trend?
To answer this question, it seemed logical to begin with how Islamists approach their archenemy: Israel and the Jews. Thinking this may be difficult to prove—it is one thing to hate your enemy per se, another to project unconsciously your worst traits onto them—I expected this might require some research. I went to MEMRI and, lo and behold, in mere minutes, came across three blatant examples. Consider the following excerpts, especially the italicized portions:
On September 7, Egyptian cleric Abdallah Samak made the following remarks on Al Rahma TV: "The Jews are known for their merciless, murderous, and bloodthirsty nature… The number one characteristic of the Jews – which appears in the Bible – is that they are always prepared for combat. They believe that it is their fate and destiny to be in a state of perpetual war. This is not what we want. We are seekers of peace and security. We seek to spread love. But we are dealing with a people, a society, that believes that its destiny is linked to war. The number one characteristic of the Jews is that they are a people that believes that its destiny is linked to war. They cannot live without war. They can only live if they attack others. They can only live through annihilation, revenge, and mercilessness."
In fact, the notion of "perpetual war" is straight out of Muslim doctrine and history—best recognized by the word "jihad"—and has no corollary in Judaism or any other religion. Even temporary truces are permissible only when Muslims are weak and incapable of going on the offensive: according to sharia, once Muslims are strong enough and have proper leadership (e.g., a caliph), they are obligated to expand the realm of Islam through offensive jihad until, in the words of the Koran, "all religion belongs to Allah" (8:39). History unequivocally attests to this approach. Moreover, while the Old Testament certainly contains many allusions to violence, these are of a historical, as opposed to doctrinal, nature. Conversely, Koranic verses dealing with violence have been codified in sharia and thus have a juridical and perpetual quality (note the word "until" in the most violent passages of the Koran, e.g., 9:5 and 9:29; see here for more on the differences between Judeo-Christian and Muslim violence). Finally, by quickly adding that Muslims "do not want" perpetual war, but instead seek "to spread love," Samak reveals that, immediately after evoking "perpetual war," Muslims naturally came to his mind, betraying a rather telling train of thought.
Raymond Ibrahim's article is well worth your time; read the whole thing.
In my series on The Arab Mind I wrote at length about the elements that led to the kinds of skewed developmental pathways that summed easily to an Honor-Shame paradigm. An Honor-Shame culture can take two different pathways. In the Japanese approach, one accepts responsibility for faults and pays for one's transgressions against the people's Honor. In Japan failure can lead to suicidal despair but does not threaten the entire Group (family/clan/religion/ethnic group) with a calamitous loss of Honor. The Muslim Honor-Shame paradigm went in a different direction. In the Muslim version no man of power ever accepts responsibility for failure; it must always be assigned to others, in part, because a loss of Honor by the Leader puts the entire family and clan at risk of destruction. Once the failure is disavowed and projected (Externalized, or when done on a more pathological level, Projected) the resolution is to destroy the one who now bears the dishonor. In this way a woman who has been raped is seen to have dishonored the family and must be killed to restore Honor. In this system, Israel and the Jews, with the help of the Americans who they control, contain all of the disavowed hatred and dishonor of the Palestinians and thus a monster who murders children is a hero.
It took a hundred years and more, and a great deal of bloodshed, before the West understood the value of self reflection and self correction. There is no indication that the Arab world will voluntarily take on such a difficult process, a process necessary for them to undergo if they are to join the modern world as anything more than spoilers. When a people are committed to externalization and projection, only the force of inimical reality can redirect their attention inward. In the Psychiatric Hospital we can administer powerful drugs which help the patients give up their compensatory delusions; there is no such treatment for sick cultures. Either the Islamist trend in the Muslim world will burn itself out in the next two or three generations as Islamism confronts and fails in the modern world or one of two outcomes is likely.
1) As time goes on the Muslim world will be increasingly walled off and kept away form the civilized world.
2) A great enough atrocity (would it require losing a Western city or two?) would up the ante to such an extent that the Arab World would face an ultimatum that would force them to begin the difficult task of reformation. Such an ultimatum could include mostly words but may also include demonstration projects less welcome, more intense, and of shorter duration than the current projects in Afghanistan and Iraq.
I suppose a third outcome is possible, but unlikely: we could simply surrender.