Wednesday, September 13, 2006

It’s Not A Holy War!

I have to say that the rhetoric out of the White House right now is a little frightening. It seems that when Bush used the term “Crusade” back in 2001 when talking about the “war on terra” he said exactly what he meant. There is no logical basis for promoting this unending war on a feeling, so might as well revert to the old standby of whipping up religious fervor and framing this “new struggle” as one of good versus evil in the most religious of terms. It’s what they do best, herding sheep using the prod of God.

I believe in coincidence and synchronicity, but it’s hard not to notice that when it comes to the relationship between traditional media and this administration, much of what appears coincidental is actually manufactured. Take for example the story that ran in The Washington Post yesterday, detailing a study that purports that Americans are more religious than previous polls suggest. The study out of Baylor University concluded that because one out of ten people that checked “no religion” also listed a place of worship, they must in fact be religious. Never mind that people attend church for all kinds of reasons that don’t necessarily include a belief in God, such as social networking, business networking, or simply to keep a spouse happy or a neighbor’s prying questions at bay. Why is it that “no religion” has to be explained away as if it’s simply too unbelievable that more and more people are choosing that option?

On the same day that this story appears in the Post, George Bush starts talking about “The Third Awakening” referring to a newfound devotion to religion in this country. He bases this on such sound evidence as, “he notices more open expressions of faith among people he meets during his travels.” Well then, that’s all the proof I need that we are indeed in a “clash of civilizations” and we can’t let the terrorist win because this is a Holy War, and damn it, our God is better! Bush sounds more and more like Osama bin Laden every day. Maybe he’s jealous of bin Laden’s recruitment numbers and has decided to use the same kind of religious rhetoric to boost his numbers.

Just because a group of Islamic Fundamentalist fanatics have turned this into a Holy War, doesn’t mean that we should allow the Christian Fundamentalist fanatics to engage as if it is. This President has wreaked havoc on the world with his war of choice, his economic and foreign policy that have made us all less safe and less secure, and even God can’t save his sorry ass now. “They” don’t hate us for our freedom or because our women walk around uncovered or because we worship a different God, that is simply ridiculous. The bin Laden’s of the world use those things to recruit and to promote anti-Americanism, but we hand them so many more reasons all by ourselves.

When we turn poor countries into client states, when we build permanent military bases on their soil, when we preemptively invade sovereign nations that pose no threat to us, when we fail to act as an honest broker for peace and when we antagonize the world with macho rhetoric and then follow it up with bombs, we are turning the “they” of a small group of religious fanatics into the “they” of citizens of entire countries. Bush is trying to retroactively sell this war as a religious one, and we shouldn’t let him get away it.

11 Comments:

Anonymous geocrackr said...

heh heh -- "the prod of God." That's a little naughty...

If you'll permit me to digress from the point a little further: I don't think "For the love of God! Get ahold of yourself!" or "Jesus H Christ on a crutch, are you insane?" should really count as "open expressions of faith among people he meets..."

2:53 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Good point GeoCrackr!

4:12 PM  
Anonymous kindlingman said...

The best analysis on the War on Terror I have read so far is from Anna Simons, Associate Professor in the Department of Defense Analysis at the Graduate School of Operational and Information Sciences located in Monterey, California. She is an anthropologist by education and has written six books related to the military, leadership, women, and war. The Graduate School is for exceptional military personnel from all the branches of service.

Let me quote her:
"..my premise,again,is this: Westernization is an endemic threat to any group wishing to retain its non-Western and often pre-modern corporate identity.This threat produces reactions shaped by demography (un- or under-employed adolescent males), by factionalism, by political circumstances, and by the cultural predicates of religious belief."

She goes on to say that policy implications occur when we try to Westernize this identity and imperil their wish to preserve their own vision of themselves. So when we promote individual rights and freedoms, they react. She also says that these policy implications have three main thrusts: first, Islamists will react with violence if we promote the rights and freedoms of individuals because it will be seen as an attack on Islam; second, some Islamists see this as a religious war whether we agree with their opinion or not; and third, appealing to the moderates to hold the extremists under control will not work.

Just as Christians in the US believe they are under attack by secularists, the Islamic religious see themselves as being under attack by Western cultural forces. They are resisting this Westernization strongly and violently. Some Islamists feel they are morally superior to the West the same way some militant Christians believe they are morally superior to other Americans. Some Islamists may feel it is better to fight and die as a Muslim than to accept becoming something other than Muslim. Both Christians and Muslims dislike liberal cultures and they both do not accept each other.

She comments that the key to success in this conflict may be to develop and encourage a national identity rather than a religious identity. A national identity may help to support the idea that this is not a war on Islam, not a Crusade. It may help the religion of Islam to develop control over the assimilation of Western cultural forces through the creation of their own political control over their territory. (I am unclear on evidence of this and I would point to Iran and Syria as countries who contradict this)

I think there is merit to these ideas. Yet there are problems in creating a secular political government with the popular power that mullahs have. I do not see mullahs giving up their power to a secular government without a struggle.

Perhaps Italy is a model to look into. With religious and political elements vieing for power for two thousand years, maybe we should study how Italy works. We might just find some clues there.

I am sorry that I do not have a link to give on this. The full article can be read currently in a magazine called 'The American Interest', a slightly right-of-center publication that gives more than sound bites to a topic.

6:07 PM  
Anonymous david said...

Well, Kindlingman, that's the most racist piece of nonsense I've read in a long time. First, what exactly is this "Westernization" being discussed? It sure isn't liberal democracy which is dying in all English-speaking countries. And it's not human rights --oh, pardon me, you said "individual" rights & freedoms --which many see is a subversion of human rights. (Remember: Wal-mart objects to Unions because they extinguish "individual" rights & freedoms.)

Don't kid yourself. Westernization, Globalization, Americanization, or whatever name it goes by is simply the Religion of Consumerism in a Corporatist State. And you'll find many "Westerners" object to it too. And its waste products are killing the whole planet.

Muslims might be angry at the West for betraying them at the end of World War I. They might be mad at the West because it subverted every attempt at democracy. (Hello! Who put the Shah of Iran back on the Peacock Throne? And who endorsed the Saudi coup back in the 1920s?)And Bush declared in front of the King of Jordan that Iraq's torture chambers were now closed when he knew full well they were simply under new management.

I'm sick of this racist American crap about Muslims and the Arab World. Perhaps it would help if Americans actually met some Egyptians, Lebanese, Palestinians, Iranians, Iraqis, or Syrians. Their countries have a wide spectrum of beliefs, just like America. They are not any more "mediaeval" than Kansas.

Westernization is the Enemy. It's the philosophy of bribing foreign governments to betray their people. And, if the government can't be bought, overthrowing it and replacing it with one that can. But you won't find Anna Simons, associate professor military-industrial bullshit, telling you that Truth. No, you've got to go to her doppelganger, Ann Coulter.

Sorry to be so angry. But I think enough Muslims have died to make this president look heroic.

7:41 PM  
Anonymous kindlingman said...

Maybe I was not clear. Ms Simons is saying that the "democratization" of the ME is not likely to be a successful strategy in the War on Terror. The pursuit by the US of womens rights and individual freedoms in Muslim countries will not be embraced within the tenets of the faith. The factionalism of the faith itself (i.e., the sects)and the religious relationships (within the society between government, religion, and citizens) will be obstacles.
She indicates that perhaps if nationalism can be developed among the people that US efforts in the War on Terror may not be seen as a religious crusade.
The President, of course, does not read anything except The Book so he continues along with his fundamentalist view of the world and says things like he did the other night.
I don't think that defining the characteristics of a faith under pressure is racist. There are examples of anti-Western religions in the US, the Amish and the Mennonites, for example. These groups are not anti-American and also non-violent so we do not see thousands of them shouting "Death to America" and trying to gain political control over the country. Fundamental Islamists will actively thwart any attempts to Westernize their beliefs but they will not likely do this through a democratic structure.

4:11 AM  
Anonymous david said...

kindlingman, don't give me any BS about nationalism. Did you never hear of Gamal Abdel Nasser? Is that the kind of nationalist Prof Anna "Coulter" Simons wants?

Of course this stereotyping of the Muslim faith is racist. If I said Jerry Falwell was the typical American Christian, it would be equally offensive.

"Death to America" equals "Yankee Go Home". And this Westernization that's being rammed down the throats of the world is not about women's rights (Gosh, didn't the Sultan of Kuwait promise to give equal rights to women in exchange for his country's liberation?), or individual rights (What? the right to have one's water polluted my an American corporation or have some Agri-biz force one off the land?). Whatever happened to the right of self-determination? Ask any Native American that and you'll get the real deal on the West and how it was won.

The War on Terror is a crock. It's an attempt to morph Cold War ideology so the Military-Industrial Complex can go on bilking US taxpayers. There are no Arab terrorists trying to take over America. There are, however, dispossessed, defeated, and defiant people with genuine grievances willing to take the law into their own hands. (Hello, Boston Tea Party!)

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Kindlingman said...

David, you are well read on one side of the aisle and not on the other.
You have confused The War on Terror with taking over America. They are not the same thing.
You have confused a permissive liberal culture with Big Business crimes. They are not the same thing.
While I believe that the greivances some nations and peoples have with us are real, I also believe that refusing to acknowledge that people wish to do us harm is myopic.
If you agree that people do wish to harm us, then you would be foolish to do nothing.
If you believe that we must do something to protect ourselves then you must take active measures.
If people have malice in their hearts due to our past injustices, that does not change the fact that we need to protect ourselves and those we love.
The President's measures are lacking in the War on Terror if he thinks that ME democracy will save the US. That was my whole point. My point was triggered by the post on a Holy War. And I was citing a person who agrees that a Holy War and democracy in the ME is the wrong thing to do.

However,from your point of view: At what point in time would the US have had enough "comeuppance" for you to realize that there is a threat to those you care about?

If you think there is no longer a threat to anyone, when did it end?
Of course, if it never starts, it cannot ever end, so if it has not yet started, please name who is responsible for the acts of violence we have experienced?

I think you care about America and the principles it stands for; I think you feel betrayed by the machinations that have led us to this point; but I also think you do not wish harm to come to anyone, not even ourselves.

The milk has been spilt.

What do we do to clean this mess up?

4:20 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Church attendance has been going down for the last 30 years, there are the occasional up ticks in attendance, but the over all trend is downward.

Sometimes media screw up and say the growth of mega churches indicates a growth in church attendance, but that’s market segmentation, not market growth. The mega churches are getting a bigger and bigger chunk of a smaller and small market (Fox News in the same leaky, sinking boat).

10:38 PM  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Criticizing a religion or culture is not racist. Muslims can be of any race. There are no important differences between races, but there are huge differences between cultures.

Islamic countries are no more medieval than Kansas? How common are honor killings and clitorectomy in Kansas? When was the last time people in Kansas rioted and burned buildings because they were offended by some cartoons?

The important difference isn't between Islam and Christianity but between Islam and secularism. The era when Christianity was really dominant in Western culture was called the Dark Ages, and with good reason (and it would not have been "racist" to point this out at the time). In most of the Islamic world, religion still holds that kind of dominant position in the culture.

If Western meddling and colonialism were the real causes of terrorism, we'd be facing just as many Latin American, black African, Hindu, and southeast Asian terrorists as Muslim ones.

Notice also that Islamist violence targets Russia, India, Darfur, southern Thailand, etc., etc., etc., not just the West.

I disagree with Bush on 90% of the issues, but there's no point in pretending that Islamic aggression isn't a threat.

7:25 AM  
Anonymous david said...

Islam is not a threat. If Americans are too slow to ask who did this and why, they'll never know that this was a crime and not an act of war.

"IT'S NOT A HOLY WAR!"

And there are plenty of honour killings in America. If you feel your masculinity is threatened by a gay man, shoot him. You'll rarely be charged. Kill a person of colour in an all-white neighbourhood, you were acting in self-defence.

I hear plenty of generalizations offered about Muslims without actual numbers. Or without any credible context given. This is racism. Perhaps you'd prefer "bigotry", but since most Muslims are persons of colour, I think racism will do fine.

Islam is not coming after America. Nor do they hope to destroy America. Their real objective is self-determination. This is their War of Independence. And America is in the role of the British Empire with Bush as George III. Don't kid yourself, America is the Imperial power in the Middle East.

I'm sorry, kindlingman. Your convoluted argument in favour of pre-emptive war or "Do unto them before the do unto us" attitude disgust me. And I don't really understand what these principles are that America stands for.

Infidel753, you don't seem to know your Latin American, African, or Asian history. And just how many Muslim terrorist have attacked America? It's not a great number. And why has America murdered so many Latin Americans, Africans, and Asians? Take that log out of your eye, neighbour, and stop talking about the speck in mine.

8:49 PM  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Yes, Islam is a threat. See September 11, Beslan, Bali, the London and Madrid and Bombay subway bombings, murderous riots in northern Nigeria, genocide in Darfur, the ongoing terrorist campaign in southern Thailand, and so on. Then you have Ahmadinejad ranting that Israel should be destroyed and trying to build nuclear weapons to carry out the threat. We do NOT have groups from Latin America, black Africa, India, or southeast Asia committing similar atrocities, despite a similar history of Western interference in those places. And as I said Muslim aggression also victimizes non-Western societies. Almost everywhere on earth where Muslim and non-Muslim societies are in contact there is Muslim violence against the non-Muslims. Islam has been waging wars of aggression against non-Muslim societies ever since it was founded 14 centuries ago.

Comparing bigoted murders of homosexuals in the US -- which are so rare that a case such as the Matthew Shepard murder makes headlines -- with the routine honor killings of women by their own families in the Islamic world is ridiculous. Same with comparing Islamist aggression with the War of Independence. George Washington never sent suicide bombers to Britain to blow up random people in the street. His men never seized a British school and shot hundreds of children, nor blew up British office buildings full of thousands of civilians.

David seems to belong to that odd school of thought which holds that only Westerners can initiate evil -- that if some evil is committed by non-Westerners, it must somehow ultimately be the fault of Westerners. This could even be considered a racist attitude, if you wanted to stretch the meaning of the word. Westerners and Muslims are not biologically different. If you believe Westerners can commit evil without provocation, why is it so hard to believe that Muslims can do so?

Calling this a "war on terror" was always stupid. Terrorism is a tactic, not an entity. The enemy is Islamist aggression. Racism has nothing to do with it. I don't care what color their skin is, I care about the fact that they want to destroy our civilization. Some Muslim terrorists have been white Westerners who converted to Islam. Race is not the issue. Islamist aggression and intolerance is the issue. Liberals should understand this better than anyone. The Islamist vision of how society should be leaves no room for any of the values liberals support.

4:25 AM  

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