Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Woolwich - Chickens Coming Home to Roost.

Whenever an atrocity is committed by radicals of either Western or Islamic civilization, there's a subconscious nod in both populations to the concept of a 'clash of civilizations’ - the belief this planet cannot accommodate two global peoples supposedly innately disposed against one another, and that eventually, they will clash in some existential conflict, leaving one supreme victor. The notion of a 'clash of civilizations’ was popularized by Samuel Huntington in his 1993 book -'The Clash of Civilizations'- published after the collapse of the USSR and served as a counter narrative to Francis Fukuyama’s cringe-worthy ‘The End of History’. I've read Huntington’s book, and throughout his argument is a self-righteous superiority complex; with the final objective for the West being to militarily subjugate the rest of the world. His argument is laden with assertions and quite frankly isn't convincing, rightfully being dismissed by most contemporary analysts[1]. However this has not removed its allure as an apocalyptic meta-narrative to world events for gullible individuals with an ever increasing plethora of idiosyncratic beliefs, trying to find certainty in an ever more fluid world. Before commenting on recent events, this metanarrative has to be deconstructed for us to clearly view the killing in Woolwich.

The historical nervous-point radicals in the Islamic side point to - of the West’s desire to conquer the Muslim world - is the Crusades of the 12th and 13th centuries (anyone having watched an al Qaeda propaganda video can attest to this); thus giving a wink and a nod to the idea that they are the modern equivalences of Saladin, the great Muslim commander who fought Richard the Lion-Heart to a standstill; famously retaking Jerusalem without shedding a drop of blood. The facts are the crusaders of the 12th and 13th centuries never penetrated deeply into the Islamic world nor did they have any intention of laying siege to Mecca, Medina or Baghdad, or any place outside of their own area of interests. In fact, the only Frankish unit which ever penetrated further from modern Palestine was considered renegade and dismissed[2].

Modern Islamic radicals paint the West, for its acts of aggression against Muslim countries and Muslims worldwide, as white robe wearing ‘crusaders’, launching an existential conquest against the entire Muslim world, in knowledge the crusades release dormant shudders in the collective Muslim consciousness. The radicals play to primordial fears locked deep in the Muslim psyche of Crusader atrocities committed in Muslim lands - we have early Frankish sources openly boasting they were killing and grilling Muslim children, eating them and spiking their feet for all to see once a city was taken[3]. But importantly, the crusaders were, at times, fighting with Muslim factions against other Muslim factions. At no point was there a desire amongst either side to exterminate one another as historical entities - everyone was just out for their own interests; and, barbarities aside, didn’t mind working with one another to achieve shared goals. It was not an existentialist all encompassing dance to the death. The Muslims at the time, from remaining records, did not make as much of the crusades as extremist groups do today, nor did they give any credence to a clash of civilizations. What they saw were barbarians sent upon them as a punishment from God; and according to Muslim historian Tamim Ansary, ‘no one seemed to cast the wars as an epic struggle between Islam and Christendom’, or in a secular modernist context, Islam and the West.[4]

The historical nerve which radicals in the West point to as a textbook example of both civilizations being unable to co-exist, is the early Islamic expansions from the 7th to 16th centuries, when Muslims took control of vast swathes of areas populated by people of other religions; and, as orthodoxy suggests, these people were forced into becoming Muslim or were slaughtered. Thus, giving credence to the idea Muslims are hardwired to being unable to live in a pluralistic society. The demagogues of the American (and growing European) Right perpetuate contemporary Muslims will only repeat this historical occurrence again in the West, given the growing Muslim populations in Western Europe. Indeed, the Pew Research Centre estimates Europe’s Muslim population will increase from 5.8% of the total population in 2010, to 7.8% by 2030, and the Americas’ Muslim population from 0.6% to 1% in the same time period[5]. Not exactly a takeover, by any means. The demagogues of the American (and growing British) Right are entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts. Zachary Karabell summarizes modern historical scholarship on this matter, which states: 'scholars have long since disposed of the image Islam being spread by the sword, but that has not altered popular imagination... Muslims left such a light footprint (when moving to a new area)...it took more than a century before many of the people...figured out what had taken place...The interaction between the separate faiths- sometimes friendly, often competitive...ignited a cultural renaissance'[6].

The world’s largest Arab country, Egypt, remains a key American partner, sent billions in military aid every year on condition to keeping the status quo with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Turkey is a member of NATO, Pakistan is a key non-NATO ally of the United States, the despotic rulers in Saudi Arabia and the authoritarian Gulf States are provided billions in arms by Western governments to maintain ‘stability’ in the Arabian Peninsula (a catchphrase which means control) to maintain oil supplies. The ‘Clash of Civilizations’ has no contextual basis historically or in contemporary geo-politics, but was propagated once again following the Woolwich attack by the far right, that Muslims and Westerners are forever destined to clash and any aversion to peaceful co-existence is self-illusory.

From my perspective, there have been three different responses from the Muslim community to the murder in Woolwich. The minority one is megaphoned by Anjem Choudary, who refuses to condemn the attack, using the killing of innocents in Muslim countries by Western governments as a way to sidestep condemning the killing of an innocent human being; an act which the Quran could not be clearer on: ‘if anyone killed a person…it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.’ The remaining two positions which the majority of Muslims (as far as I can tell) hold to, fundamentally agree on outright condemning the killing, but differ in cosmetics. In one view are Uncle Tom Muslims who, unwilling to puncture an orgy of self-righteous, hardnosed, self-assurance act as lapdogs for the British establishment and argue this attack had absolutely nothing to do with British foreign policy. In his own words, Michael Adebolajo stated after the attack ‘the only reason we have killed this man today is because Muslims are dying daily…we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone…you are the ones that when you drop a bomb you think it hits one person? Or rather your bomb wipes out a whole family?[7]’ Opposed to this view are Muslims who feel the entire Islamic community should not have to come out to collectively apologize whenever individuals commit heinous acts. Which on the surface, seems reasonable, given there are never calls for the ‘white community’ to come out and condemn a Raoul Moat or Derrick Bird or Adam Lanza; for ‘community leaders’ to ‘do more’; nor are ‘experts’ deployed onto national news, to find out what is fundamentally ‘wrong’ in the white community and if MI5/FBI are doing enough. The Southern Poverty Law Centre has a database of every attempted act of far right terror going back to 1995. In 1997, the KKK almost succeeded in killing an estimated 30,000 people,[8] bombing a national gas refinery. As the SPLC is careful to point out, that is ‘10 times the number murdered on Sept. 11, 2001.’ Ask yourself, if the entire white or Christian community needs to have come out and condemned the attack, as though to reassure society whose side it’s on. Now if radicalized Muslims had attempted it, ask yourselves the same question. If you came to separate answers, then the seedling of stereotyping has been firmly rooted into your subconscious.

I do not speak for anyone but myself and this is where I stand:

A survey of 50,000 Muslims in 2008 came to interesting conclusions:

‘About 93 percent of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims are moderates and only seven percent are politically radical…Meanwhile, radical Muslims gave political, not religious, reasons for condoning the (9/11) attacks, the poll showed. . .But the poll, which gives ordinary Muslims a voice in the global debate that they have been drawn into by 9/11, showed that most Muslims -- including radicals -- admire the West for its democracy, freedoms and technological prowess.’ John Esposito, a scholar of Islamic Christian relations stated ‘Muslims want self-determination, but not an American-imposed and defined democracy. They don't want secularism or theocracy. What the majority wants is democracy with religious values’[9].
First and foremost, I reject the notion of ‘moderate Muslims’, since it pre-disposes Muslims are extremists until proven ‘moderate’. Pick any other stereotype and see if you find it acceptable. Moderate blacks and criminal blacks; moderate Jews and scheming Jews; moderate whites and racist whites. But to the point, of the 7% estimate of Muslims around the world who are ‘potentially radical’, they gave ‘political, not religious, reasons’ for their opinions. Unless the fundamental causes which breed motivations to commit actions the likes of which we saw in Woolwich are not honestly debated, then the failed post-9/11 path will only repeat itself; be it on buses in London, or a marathon in Boston, or an off duty soldier in Woolwich. Western aggression abroad is directly responsible for radicalizing ordinary Muslims. This is the unanimous opinion of the Joint Intelligence Committee, the Ministry of Defence, the CIA, the National Intelligence Council, the former chief of the CIA's Bin Laden tracking unit, the Brookings Institution, Australia's Office of National Assessments, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), London foreign-affairs think tank Chatham House, al-Qaeda experts Rohan Gunaratna & Peter Bergen and Professor Robert Pape, the Chicago University political scientist who has studied every known case of suicide terrorism since 1980.[10] The disrupted Times Square bomber, NY Subway bomber, Underwear bomber, Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hassan all directly cited Western aggression in Muslim countries as the reason behind their acts, as did Michael Adebolajo [11] The murder of the off duty soldier in London was, to paraphrase Malcolm X, Britain’s chickens coming home to roost. For the BBC and mainstream media to lay broad hints this is a product of Anjem Choudary is dangerous and dishonest. For Uncle Tom Muslims to rally to their cause is shameful. For experts listed above to not speak out at the media circus is disgraceful (note, some experts did speak out against the orthodox view of the press, only these views were sidelined).

The most important event in recent days has not been the murder in Woolwich. It was the statement by Michael Sheehan, the assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations in the Obama administration, who revealed the War on Terror will last 'at least 10 to 20 (more) years.'[12] A war against a tactic, which has no possible end, since its ongoing occurrence ferments the tactic it intends to disrupt; a perpetual cycle of death and destruction, which continues and will continue to bleed out across the Western world, and destroy the Islamic one.  Until the swamp is even acknowledged, let alone drained, the flies will continue to persist. And innocent human beings will continue to be attacked and groups of people will be stereotyped in ways unacceptable in any other instance of people. Western foreign policy is the direct cause of politically motivated acts the likes of which we saw in Woolwich. Unless we collectively reject the narrative of the press, stereotyping and acknowledge the elephant in the room, then we leave no choice but to convince ourselves we are inevitably hurtling towards a clash of civilizations as the cycle of perpetual death continues - when neither side is going anywhere.

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ud4mYP5JYBY The Clash of Civilizations & Perpetual War | Interview with Dr. John Trumpbour

[2] Tamim Ansary Destiny Disrupted pp.149
[3] Ibid pp. 139
[4] Ibid.
[6] Zacharay Karabell People of the Book pp.30

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