The February 13, 2012 issue of Newsweek was brought to my attention by a friend over the weekend. Its cover story, written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, is The Global War on Christians in the Muslim World. (The image is clickable, too.)
Ms. Hirsi Ali presents a series of cases that shows a disturbing trend: Christian minority populations are increasingly being brutalized throughout the Muslim world. She summarizes:
It should be clear from this catalog of atrocities that anti-Christian violence is a major and underreported problem. No, the violence isn’t centrally planned or coordinated by some international Islamist agency. In that sense the global war on Christians isn’t a traditional war at all. It is, rather, a spontaneous expression of anti-Christian animus by Muslims that transcends cultures, regions, and ethnicities.
In other words, this trend goes beyond politics, deeper than ideology. Rage does that. She suggests:
As for what the West can do to help religious minorities in Muslim-majority societies, my answer is that it needs to begin using the billions of dollars in aid it gives to the offending countries as leverage. Then there is trade and investment. Besides diplomatic pressure, these aid and trade relationships can and should be made conditional on the protection of the freedom of conscience and worship for all citizens.
Notice: no hint of force as an option. What a curiously non-western approach!
Ms. Hirsi Ali’s article paints a vivid picture. We all know that trouble is brewing. I doubt that we yet comprehend its depth or ferocity. In the Islamic mind, West = Christian and the Devil, America, is Leader of the Devil’s Pack. But look: they’ve got some little devils right there with them. Raging against those few where they are is easier than crossing an ocean or a continent or two, but it solves nothing. This isn’t a concerted attack serving an agenda. It’s frustration-driven pressure relief, like idiot adults that batter babies after their bosses or their spouses or life itself abuses them.
Whether we live with advanced technology or in primitive, impoverished circumstances, human spiritual and emotional behavior hasn’t much changed since the Dark Ages, not when it comes to threat and conflict. When trouble erupts, our minds still reel with terror, sinister enemies, and the holy indignation of self-righteousness. I wonder if we can unlearn such knee-jerk hysteria?
When I worked in IT, the buzz phrase was “root cause.” Fixing symptoms doesn’t help in the long run. If you want to solve a problem, you have to uncover its primary causes. However, if you want to perpetuate a problem, fixing symptoms is precisely what you burn your time doing. Just ask any consultant.
Muslims the world over have been reacting badly for some time. We can obsess over their reactions, or we can look for what provoked them. We can fix symptoms or we can uncover root causes. The focus we choose indicates our true agenda: perpetuation or solution.
The root causes of the Islamic “menace” are not simple, but most of us are in staunch denial about a glaring, aggravating factor: western narcissism. Just like a schoolyard bully, the West acts surprised when our victims finally start fighting back. Our bullying only set a few of them off, at first. Bullying them for decades set off some more. We passed it off to ourselves as our stand against communism, spread of democracy, liberation of the downtrodden, and creation of a “free” global market. Meanwhile, something has become quite clear to the rest of the world. They haven’t had delusions about our corporate and government leaders for some time, but now they realize something about us.
We the people of the West have no intention of reigning in the sociopaths who lead our nations and terrorize theirs.
Our callousness is now setting off all but profiteering collaborators and the indifferent. If it were you–if you and everyone you knew had lost someone dear to the Devil–how much indifference would you have left?
Just one example:
- World Trade Center disaster body count: 3,000-4,000
- Iraqi citizen (non-military) body count since 2003: 105,000 – 114,000
That’s the equivalent of a WTC disaster once every four months since 9/11 until now. One on September 11, 2001. Then, when we’re just starting to recover from that one, another in January. Two attacks on American soil in only three months. Then a third in May. That’s three Ground Zeroes, three recovery efforts, three times the horror and loss, and it hasn’t been a year yet. And we’re just getting started! The next September, another one, and another in January, and another… Imagine THAT: a twin towers attack three times a year for ten years.
Of course, gnat-straining camel eaters might object to those fatality numbers. To them I say: No problem, choose your own numbers. Go ahead; I dare you. I’ll even let you weight your data in favor of your argument. Any way you mix it, your ratio will end up worse than 1:20; more like 1:30 or 1:40. Choose your poison and swallow hard. Then realize that you strained your gnats and swallowed the camel, dimwits. The numbers have nothing to do with the primary issue, an incontrovertible fact: we invaded them.
An attack every four months for a decade would merely catch us up to even, and Iraq is just one front. What would be the equivalent average rate of disastrous attacks on American soil if we tallied up all of the civilian casualties that the US was and is responsible for in every conflict it provoked or supported since Korea, our test case that proved the financial profitability of foreign aggression to industry and military decision-makers? Add in Korea, Taiwan, Haiti, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Grenada, Honduras, Guatemala, Libya, Panama, Philippines, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, and East Timor. That’s just the short list.
This isn’t about good against evil, right against wrong, or freedom-fighters against tyrants; it’s about inability to do simple math and emotionally register the significance of the answer. It’s an empathy deficiency, a humanity deficiency. Patriotic sociopathy.
According to Noam Chomsky in What Uncle Sam Really Wants, the pattern is clear, consistent, and damning. The United States does not act globally in the interests of freedom, democracy, and human welfare; just the opposite. It acts in the interests of U.S. corporations and their exploitative agendas, without regard for human rights and international law. U.S. media has enabled this for decades by upside-down reporting and selective news blackouts. Chomsky and others demonstrated this, and we the people have ignored them for decades. Now we face the consequences. And we’re surprised.
How many invasions would Americans tolerate on our turf before we gave the green flag to carpet bomb entire sectors of “enemy” territory–men, women, and children–simply because we suspected that “terrorists” were holed up in the vicinity? Take a guess. Two, three, four? Five? Please! That’s really stretching it. But wait–that’s right! Been there, done that, and it didn’t even take one.
We’ve been napalming and carpet bombing ever since Viet Nam, shocking and awing long before any “war on terror” bullshit. But I must admit, we’ve made improvements. Now we send in drones and keep “collateral damage” down to a 20:1 ratio–20 hapless men, women, and children–mostly women and children–blown to shit for every “terrorist” we “eliminate.” Over here, our criminals get treated with more consideration: presumed innocent until proven guilty. Over there, innocence is irrelevant; human rights are irrelevant; life itself is irrelevant. Any brutality that promotes “economic growth” and keeps western investors happy is good business. Any lie that keeps us the people thinking we’re golden is good reporting.
Over here, over there, we do just what we want, everywhere… (Sung to the tune of George M. Cohen’s “Over There.”)
Our military leaders tell us that “civilian casualties” (i.e., mass murders) are tragic, but unavoidable and justified. After all, everyone knows that “the enemy” is just a bunch of primitive, uneducated “ragheads.” In Viet Nam they were “gooks.” To the average, decent American, they are just a few digits of print with a bunch of trailing zeroes in a news report that we read while sipping coffee and munching pig and sugar breakfasts in air-conditioned comfort.
Who are the real terrorists in the global picture? Hmmm… Wait… Give me a sec, it’s coming to me…
Violence is not the real problem; not the violent reactions of invaded, exploited, decimated people, anyway. Given our history, retaliatory violence shouldn’t surprise us a bit. (If anyone thinks I’m arguing that violence is OK, please enroll in a remedial logic class, then read that again.) What should surprise us is the restraint of the people we’ve terrorized. Compared to American “tolerance” for aggression on our soil–hmm? Wha? Where? You saw some? Damn! I missed it!–they are SAINTS.
Our greedy, morally bankrupt, lying, sociopathic leaders aren’t even the real problem.
Patriotic narcissism is the problem. Mindless “America: Love It or Leave It!” is the problem. Dumb-fuck “It’s My Country, Right or Wrong!” is the problem. The perverted, brutal logic of the bully and the abuser–themselves severely abused–is the problem. The real problem is the behavior of global tyrants, not their victims. David C. Korten, in Agenda For a New Economy, pulls no punches about who the thugs are:
Capitalism is the institutional embodiment of greed, and Wall Street is its contemporary institutional manifestation. It operates by the moral code of an organized crime syndicate and subverts the values and institutions of both markets and democracy. Far from being ashamed of its ways, it champions them as virtues.
— David C. Korten, Agenda For a New Economy, “Globalizing the Seven Deadly Sins,” p. 119
No one with eyes, ears, and something in between them thinks that Wall Street is innocent. No informed person doubts that Wall Street behavior is sociopathic. Profit = greed, period. No regulatory, social, or moral inhibitor interrupts that equation. And what are we to make of their minions in government and their cronies elsewhere–choir boys and saints? And what are we to make of western media–intrepid guardians of truth? Why do Americans cling to the ludicrously deluded faith that their business and political leaders are interested in the general welfare? Maybe they really are lacing our water supply with hallucinogens. (Ever see a CEO drink tap water? Hmm? :))
Our patriotic narcissism has two key characteristics:
- Colossal levels of derelict callousness. We turn blind eyes while our governments and militaries terrorize the “developing” world, so that our corporations can exploit both foreign resources and people; and then we don and consume their slave shop products and combust away their oil.
- The juvenile arrogance of dumb denial implied by our surprise over the reactions we provoke around the world, as if we expect “ragheads” and “gooks” to take our feigned innocence seriously and ignore our hypocrisy. That would insult their intelligence even if they weren’t smarter than we are.
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Overlooking the provocation or pretending it didn’t happen doesn’t change a thing.
Provocation can be measured by the reactions it gets times a factor of three or four. Most normal people don’t retaliate after a first or even a second strike (but sociopaths do.) Normal people hope that the first strike was a mistake. Even after a third or fourth strike, they pray it won’t happen again. Normal people are relatively timid and hopeful. They don’t strike back until they realize that it isn’t going to stop. When retaliation finally comes, it seems out of all proportion to the brutes who provoked it, thanks to bestial stupidity and dismally short attention spans. Oowww! Duhr… What did ya go and did that for? In fact, the retaliation usually is disproportionate: disproportionately small.
We the people of the West can look at the whole picture, or we can declare self-righteousness and…
Treat ’em like the devils and raving heretics they are, by God! It’s a dangerous, horrific wasteland out there in the Evil Axis of Terroristan, among the sulfur, brimstone, toxic smoke of foreign animus, and hordes all dressed in funny clothes. Demented, fanatical spirits prowl and pounce, infecting minds and driving them mad with inexplicable rage, provoking them to commit incomprehensible acts of evil against us! The Devil himself must be behind it, because we are blameless… as far as we can remember.
So, build the walls! Make ready the defenses! Man the battlements!
Oh, yeah, that’s right… I forgot. THIS IS AMERICA AND ITS ALLIES!
Let’s just bomb the shit out of ’em, ha ha!