Saturday, January 20, 2007

Things Better Left Unsaid

When in the course we find ourselves, that is civilians living in modern civilization, there comes a time when we can ignore the status quo -- whether that be politics, human rights, or any other number of ills that pervade our modern world -- or we can actually focus on those things which we each, on some level, feel need to be said.

For a while now -- especially (but not simply) since 9/11, I've been, in the back of my mind, contemplating modern geopolitique. Before four planes leveled the World Trade Center, this "terrorist" problem was far from nonexistent. Having recently watched Steven Spielberg's "Munich" (an excellent re-dux of George Jonas' book "Vengeance"), I was reminded that this problem -- ie radical Muslims empowering themselves by blowing themselves up and killing everything in their paths is nothing new -- just ask the families of the Israeli athletes that were indiscriminately murdered in 1972 simply because they were representative of Israel.

So essentially, each time I come across something in this realm -- a news item, an essay, or coverage that lends credence to someone supporting al-Qaeda's brand of "Death by Islam," I don't recoil in horror or disgust; on the contrary -- if anything, I inevitably conclude "See? I knew it." Each time I come across stories, accounts and/or personal confessions of Muslims who proclaim that Islam is a peaceful religion that means no harm to anyone whose goal is to simply coexist peacefully on this planet with its non-Islamic fellow humans, I scoff. I know it's wrong, because I know plenty of Muslims who would rather shake my hand than cut it off, and I've had some intellectual discussions about what the differences between radical and modern Islam are (some within these very pages), yet I still scoff. In fact, since I'm being honest, I completely, utterly and totally find it immensely difficult to believe that the "peace-loving" brand of Islam should even be considered the same as the Islam projected by Omar Brooks, a British-born radical Muslim who believes Mohammad's message is "I come to slaughter all of you." As per the linked article, Mr. Brooks continues with:

"'We are the Muslims,' said Omar Brooks, an extremist also known as Abu Izzadeen. 'We drink the blood of the enemy, and we can face them anywhere. That is Islam and that is jihad.'"

I understand there are varying degrees of religious belief within each of the main world religions (those being Catholicism, Judaism and Islam), but that's a pretty wide berth. Those interested in peace, line up on the left. Those interested in slaughtering an entire race or planet of people and drink their blood, line up on the right. Those undecided, be careful of the people on the right.

If you continue reading the previously-linked article, it continues thusly:

Anjem Choudary, the public face of Islamist extremism in Britain, added that Muslims have no choice but to take the fight to the West. "What are Muslims supposed to do when they are being killed in the streets in Afghanistan and Baghdad and Palestine? Do they not have the same rights to defend themselves? In war, people die. People don't make love; they kill each other," he said.

It occurred to me, at least at some point, that here, in the "modern" world, there is a widening gap between rational, sane Islam and the extreme kind that dictates suicide bombing, killing infidels to go to heaven and targeting women and children in lieu of soldiers. The problem is that the rational, sane brand of Islam gets no press because -- rightfully -- people whose beliefs aren't cancerous and dangerous don't make the front pages. People who proclaim that all non-believers should die in as fiery and visible a manner as possible do get press.

Each time this type of discussion arises -- questioning what nations should do with their cancerous, extremist Muslim populations -- those Muslims on the non-radical front regularly point to foreign policy as being the catalyst for these factions within otherwise cohesive societies. In modern-day America, we've witnessed Bush Jr. tossing out privacy in favor of questionable wiretaps and surveillance. In Britain, laws are being enacted and redacted which protect individual rights and permit the government more leeway in surveilling its citizenry. In both cases, and in the face of this kind of internal cancer, what is the answer? I'd like to believe that Bush's wiretap program is unnecessary and excessive, and on some level I do believe that, but I understand why he has pushed that particular program as hard as he has. We're not in the position of disposing of the Constitution; but when we permit entry to people whose sole objective is to destroy this nation, there's not much in the way of solution beyond crossing lines of privacy and individual protection. Obviously, the answer is to insure people gaining entry into this country (and to other Western nations) are not here under false pretense.

Does that mean closing our borders? Does that mean barring student and extended-visit visas for people of Arab descent? I'm not sure how fair that is, but I think that's one option. The interesting thing is that, in the US, there is a sizeable Muslim population but thus far that population has not demonstrated its interests are anti-US. In Britain, however, it's a different story. Aside from the aforementioned Omar Brooks (who advocates drinking infidel blood), there's Anjem Choudary, another extremist who despises democracy and predicts Britain will be ruled by Sharia, Islamic law. How the West has inherited these people -- people who accuse the West of cancerous, aggressive behavior and advocate the same behavior they claim is the strategy of their enemies -- is beyond me. Personally, I am increasingly supportive of the expulsion of people like Brooks (aka "Abu Izzadeen") and Choudary to whatever nation will have them. They cannot be deported because they were born in Britain and are thus citizens of the UK. But that doesn't mean they can't be forced to leave the country. What baffles me is that their bile, vitriol and fervor against democracy and the West should inspire them to leave, yet they live among us and preach hatred on the very soil they hope to one day possess. Britain under Islamic law? What planet are these people on? I'd (rhetorically) ask whether they're actually serious, but we all know, unfortunately, the answer to that question.

I apologize to those Muslims who believe I am disparaging Islam. I am not -- I am disparaging people who -- through fervor, obsession, and/or mental illness -- have corrupted and distorted Islam and transformed it into something sick, twisted and evil. One day, when the TV's broken and I have plenty of free time, I'll make the comparison between Hitler's Nazism and modern-day fascism in the case of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and other jolly characters like Sadr in Lebanon and the various warlord factions on the Afghani-Pakistani border who exercise their murderous, bloody power in the name of religion. In the meantime, however, I believe, based on what I've been digesting with respect to this situation, that the burden of proof -- proof that Islam is not a cancer or a blight on the Western nations of the world, or the world itself -- lies with the moderate Muslim population of the world to temper and to destroy the radical factions which propose to consume the rest of the planet (either in Islamic law or fire). I use the term "cancer" to describe radical Muslims; as detestable as that term may be, ask any Iraqi civilian what he thinks of the radical Muslims whose sole goal in Iraq these days is to kill as many of his kind as possible before starting an open civil war. I would wryly suggest that the average Iraqi civilian who faces the prospect of being dismembered by a car-bomb does not share his brethren's taste for explosive political statements.

The real puzzle is that we have a world in which many Arabs -- Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world in general -- describe Israel as an agressive cancer in the Mid-East. But unfortunately, based on the news each day -- whether from Iraq, 9/11, the London train bombings from 2005, etc. -- we know that the real cancer is extreme Islam. The problem is now, how do we -- Western nations, civilized people, and modern societies -- solve that problem?

I think, as indicated above, reviewing and revising our immigration and visa policies is a good place to start. I also think that some measure of increased surveillance should be tolerated -- albeit with an expiration date. And I think, at some point, the obviously distasteful notion of expulsion and "suggestive" police tactics has to be broached. Put another way, I think people who openly call for and whose objective is to educate others similarly to destroy a nation should be invited to leave, politely or otherwise. In my USA, an American-born version of Omar Brooks would not be here for very long. Free speech is something to be cherished and protected, but when that speech encourages the destruction of the nation, that speech has to be checked. Like shouting fire in a crowded theater, there are times when free speech -- ie the rights of the individual -- must be negated in favor of the rights of the many. Mr. Brooks, and others like him, are entitled to their beliefs; but if they openly call for the destruction of a nation and/or a government -- even the nation/government which protects their right to proclaim their beliefs -- isn't that behavior an attempt to incite a riot, or at least the action of a traitor to one's country? Imprison or evict or otherwise; but to permit that type of speech is mystifying to me. Granted, we have to determine what line not to cross; if I stand on a corner and shout I want to dump a bucket of shit on the President, that's not necessarily actionable, but if I stand on a corner and shout I want to shoot the President, that might be. But what we're discussing here is obviously, and clearly, in another category. These are people who are openly encouraging and preaching the destruction of a nation, and they are doing so with the protection of the very nation which they have targeted their hatred and beliefs. I understand the Catch-22 we've inherited here, but my personal belief is that when you discover a cancer, you don't debate -- you cut it out, you remove as much of it as quickly as possible, and you throw it away.

And you keep doing so until there is no more cancer.

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