Monday, December 12, 2005

Can the Left Face the Threat?

Last week’s New Republic’s article, claiming America has no fear from jihadists within, is a fiction so divorced from reality it should have been obvious even if one only gets one’s information from the mainstream media. The New Republic was so proud of this article that it cited the publication of this fantasy as a reason to subscribe in a recent promotion. I criticized the article last week; now Daniel Pipes totally demolishes the TNR’s thesis.

Why does the Left go on such flights of fantasy? There seems to be a complete lack of regard for reality. The TNR article made no attempt to deal with the literature or even common knowledge. I’ve noticed a pattern on the Left since 9/11, where any criticism of Islam immediately results in expressions of horror and moral condemnation. I had hoped everyone across the political spectrum could face the threat of Islam; but it seems the Left is fading as some on the Right begin to wake-up. Will the Left do nothing more than define itself in opposition to America and side with our enemies?

14 Comments:

Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Will the Left do nothing more than define itself in opposition to America and side with our enemies?

They wouldn't be the Left otherwise.

12/12/05, 1:59 PM  
Blogger LASunsett said...

The left can't do anything, because they stand for nothing. They only stand in opposition to something.

The reason? There is no leadership in the Democratic Party. They couldn't lead a group of starving Ethiopians to a free all-you-can-eat buffet table. They are disoriented, disorganized, and dysfunctional on their best days.

I would be hardpressed to register any kind of bet that will they ever win another national election, until they solve their problems with who they are and who they want to be.

12/12/05, 4:16 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

You're both right. Next time I'll ask a hard question. I like the graphic description by lasunsett.

12/12/05, 4:39 PM  
Blogger beakerkin said...

More complicated is the PC version
that all relgions are equaly valid.
Does this include ones with human sacrafice and widow burning. If all relgions are equaly valid then those are cultural variants and there is no evil.

Thus a religion that has a 1300 year colonial history and Jim Crow laws on the books is no different then the Society of Friends.

PC is a direct path to barbarism as there are no standards.

12/12/05, 5:13 PM  
Blogger Baron Bodissey said...

I'm being picky, but I believe the New Republic is commonly abbreviated TNR, and NR is reserved for the National Review. We wouldn't want to slander the latter, would we?

That aside, I'm glad you're reading and fisking TNR. Somebody has to.

12/12/05, 7:41 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Thanks, Baron. I welcome editorial help (and made the changes.) I also corrected another embarrassing error: I wrote treat of Islam instead of threat of Islam. Now, most of my readers know me better ... but I always welcome help from my friends.

12/12/05, 7:51 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

I am not a regular reader of the New Republic (registration required although I did register to read the article when you first posted it -damn if I recall my ID or password) but pardon me for my misunderstanding. I obviously didn't realize that TNR is a leftist paper. I am not familiar with Ackerman but when I read the article originally, it struck me as more of a conservative apolology for Islam, primarily based on the quotes used which implied that the US is a religion-friendly country whereas Europe and cosmopolitan America are more secularist and that would explain the difficulties of Islam in Europe (and also, as I indicated in my previous comments, why presumably New York was bombed on 9/11 and not "Bush country").

Well, I guess the overall thrust of the article still reads to me as an example of the kind of obtuseness re Islam I would expect from a conservative, rather than a leftist paper. My misunderstanding, though, obviously.

That said, I do have one problem with Pipes’ argument. He says:

“In short, Ackerman’s premise is flawed from the start; and so, unsurprisingly, is the analysis that follows, namely his claim that better social and economic opportunities open to American Muslims as well as “America’s ability to accommodate Islam itself” account for the supposedly benign situation in the United States. Rather, the differences between U.S. and European Muslims have less to do with their respective social virtues than with their Muslim populations. America’s Muslims tend to be engineers and doctors; Europe’s tend to be factory hands and street sweepers.”

I must be missing something here but he seems to be totally reinforcing the “flawed” premise that Ackerman is making. He says that Ackerman claims that better social and economic opportunities for Muslims account for the difference. He then dismisses that idea but attributes the difference to the fact that American Muslims are more educated than European Muslims (engineers and doctors vs factory hands and street sweepers). What’s the difference there? Isn't the latter (Pipes' explanation) merely the RESULT of the former (Ackerman's explanation)?

But as you Jason have pointed out many times and as others have noted repeatedly, most prominent terrorists HAVE come from the educated classes. So obviously the explanation does NOT lie with class differences or opportunities for economic mobility. No – the main difference between us and Europe at this point lies in the overall percentage of Muslims. It’s a pure numbers game. Could that thesis be disproved? Possibly. But who really wants to roll the dice on that one?

12/12/05, 7:54 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Beak makes an important point about the relativism (also known as moral equivalency) that’s part of today’s multi-culturalism. It makes it necessary to overly criticize Christianity while at the same time look for good things to say about Islam. To really make these two disparate belief-systems seem equal, one has to become completely gushing about Islam’s meager achievements and occasional positive passages while dismissing the painful truth so obvious from the daily events that one ultimately becomes an inadvertent apologist for the crudest most barbaric religious/policial ideology on the face of the earth today, i.e. Islam. Soon one is writing articles like the one in The New Republic!

12/12/05, 7:59 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

My impression of TNR is that it is slightly left of center (it was far left in the 1930s but that’s long ago.) They seem to welcome articles from several points of view so you may be right about this particular author. I don’t remember the article exactly and it is not important enough to read again. I’m glad Pipes has pick-up the ball.

But you’re right about Pipes. The education level would tend to increase the jihadist involvement and Pipes himself documented this activity in the past. Perhaps the un-educated become motivated to commit crimes without the full planning or the spectacular results (unlike a Mohammad Atta.) We also have activity like that here in our country: the attack of July 4, 2002 on the passengers waiting in line at the El Al counter in Los Angles, the murder of people at the top of the Empire State Building by a lone Arab terrorist. These types are driven by the ideology and their hate; but they don’t create and test an involved plan.

Pipes sometimes contradicts himself or wavers; but he gets the main points right and often says them forcefully - in many mainstream newspapers. Plus, he backs up his arguments with many details and examples.

Nevertheless, you’re right. That’s a good critical analysis. And you’re right about the numbers and concentration. That creates a more in-bred community where all the faults get reinforced. Thus, true Islam emerges and is undiluted by other factors.

12/12/05, 8:22 PM  
Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Caroline,

Join the uprising - you don't have to submit your email and password to the spam listers that run registration pages on their websites. Go to BugMeNot to find a proxy that works.

12/12/05, 9:49 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

LA makes an excellent point and had me laughing as well: They couldn't lead a group of starving Ethiopians to a free all-you-can-eat buffet table. They are disoriented, disorganized, and dysfunctional on their best days.

Jason, I've noticed the same thing: a pattern on the Left since 9/11, where any criticism of Islam immediately results in expressions of horror and moral condemnation. I had hoped everyone across the political spectrum could face the threat of Islam; but it seems the Left is fading as some on the Right begin to wake-up. Will the Left do nothing more than define itself in opposition to America and side with our enemies?
So many causes the Left otherwise takes up are offensive to Islam.

I, too, see the Right waking up, albeist slowly and incompletely. Christians still want to protect Islam under freedom of religion. They just don't seem to grasp that Islam is less a personal faith than a totalitarian political ideology, one with religious trappings.

Education won't solve jihadism. In fact, the more educated Muslims often move toward jihadism, whereas many of the "average" ones are just trying to make their way in the world. I'm not saying this very well, but I think you know what I mean.

Caroline,
Some astute analysis there! I noticed the same flaw but couldn't have stated the contradiction as clearly as you did.

12/12/05, 11:05 PM  
Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Actually AOW, I have no idea what you mea.

You seem to be saying that you have a very concrete and sophisticated grasp of muslim demographics. Can you elaborate? It would be useful if Daniel Pipes weren't your only source.I can understand why Beamish is easily led by thenose but I suspect you know that the situation isn't going to yield to simple aphorisms.

Educated muslims where? Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia? Where?

12/13/05, 11:50 AM  
Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Still waiting for Ducky to elaborate past "you're wrong" and get into "why you're wrong."

Of course, that would require honest debate and active brain cells on Ducky's end, so we may just be wishing for the impossible.

12/13/05, 12:56 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Ducky - Why don't you do your own homework and google the relationship between education and terrorism yourself instead of asking other people to do the work for you? And instead of taking potshots at other posters and asking them to elaborate, why don't you elaborate and give us your actual reasoned (and civily spoken, if that isn't asking too much) thoughts on the topic at hand?

Plenty of articles have been written debunking the notion that terrorists come from economically deprived backgrounds or that they are uneducated. Rather, there is plenty of evidence that they are driven by ideology rather than socioeconomic factors and that many Muslims who wind up in the upper echelons of the global jihad have had ample exposure to western ideas and have complete and utter contempt for them. That isn't to say that many of these folks are not adept at pulling the strings of the truly uneducated Muslim masses and getting them to riot in the street and inciting them towards mob violence - we've seen plenty of examples of that around the world (and any infidel obviously has a great deal to fear from that mob capacity in demographic terms). But it most certainly suggests that upward mobility and opportunities to travel in even the most rarified circles of the west - politics, academia, medicine, and so on - does nothing to mitigate the draw towards jihad.

I concluded a long time ago that westerners are really and truly arrogant. But I see that arrogance as very very strong particularly among the left in their assumption that everyone in the world would obviously choose their enlightened liberal values if only white western racists didn't put up socioeconomic obstacles in their way. No. That turns out to be the height of arrogance. Money isn't everything (but tell that to the Marxists - who seem to me to be totally obsessed with money, rather ironically!). I think ideas are ultimately far more important to people. Which is all the more reason that as Jason has argued repeatedly, we have to fight this in the realm of ideas. We have to discredit the ideology that drives the terrorists and which is far more of a motivating factor than socioeconomics. And actually, I don't think the basic principles involved require all that much of an education to grasp. It's less a matter of Muslims getting a whole lot of education than it is a matter of ordinary people daring to point out the obvious to them, without apology. Ali Sina knows that. Just keep hammering, in the simplest of language, that the emperor obviously has no clothes.

12/13/05, 7:26 PM  

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