Wednesday, January 14, 2015

No, Tom

From Brainless Tales.
Uh-oh, Friedman's off his meds again. Not just because the president didn't go to Paris, although he disapproves of that, but
it is typical of American politics today that we focus on this and not what would have really made the world feel the jihadist threat was finally being seriously confronted. And that would not be a march that our president helps to lead, but one in which he’s not involved at all. 
Wait, he was involved in the one he didn't go to but he should have not gone to the one he wasn't involved in?

No, it's like Reza Aslan said, if you think Muslims don't oppose Wahhabist terrorism not just in France but in Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan and Pakistan and Yemen and Nigeria and the fucking Philippines then you don't own Google, and Friedman doesn't own Google, or else his Google is just not working right: he wants them opposing it out in the street where he can see them next time he's in Rabat or Masqat or Karachi looking out the hotel window:
That would be a million-person march against the jihadists across the Arab-Muslim world, organized by Arabs and Muslims for Arabs and Muslims, without anyone in the West asking for it...
Too late, Tom, you just asked for it!

Which is in effect the whole problem. Sorry, Muslims, my friend can't help himself, he's suffering from Post-Traumatic Noodginess...

Muslims are deeply divided on many fronts around the world, but there's one thing they can agree on, Sufi to Salafi: if you, Thomas P. Friedman, better known as Thomas L. Friedman, Mystax Orientalis, ask them to do something, that doesn't count as a reason in favor of doing it. Million-person marches may just not be their kind of thing anyway, but if they're ever going to take them up, it's not going to be in order to please you. If anything, you may be holding them back.
We fool ourselves when we tell Muslims what “real Islam” is.
Never mind, you don't fool anybody else.
Because Islam has no Vatican, no single source of religious authority, there are many Islams today. The puritanical Wahhabi/Salafi/jihadist strain is one of them, and its support is not insignificant.
Unlike Christianity, which has a Vatican, so all Christians are in lockstep with each other, Pat Robertson arm-in-arm with Al Sharpton and Pope Francis in his white kippa and our own Bill Donohue, and when I tell Christians what "real Christianity" is they all get really polite and quiet and look shyly downward, unless they're just looking at their phones.
Ever since jihadists took over Islam’s holiest shrine in Mecca in 1979, proclaiming that Saudi Arabia’s rulers were not pious enough, Saudi Arabia has redoubled its commitment to Wahhabi or Salafist Islam — the most puritanical, anti-pluralistic and anti-women version of that faith.
Incidentally, you know who was renovating the Grand Mosque at the time of the seizure? A Jeddah construction firm known as the Saudi Binladin Group with very close connections to the royal family, and owned by the father of you-know-who. I never heard that before. But I knew where Osama bin Laden was at the time. That was the year he maybe got his business degree at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah and went off to Pakistan to work in the project of US Operation Cyclone with the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence where they created a jihadi militant movement in Afghanistan after that other thing happened in 1979, the Soviet invasion of its gnarly South Asian neighbor.

In Friedman's version of this history, Salafi militancy was an unintended consequence of the seizure of the Mecca Grand Mosque, which inspired the Saudi royals to get religion and build madrasas all over Egypt and Yemen and Pakistan, creating a worldwide generation of Sunnis who preferred sexual segregation, illiteracy, and killing people to the more relaxed lifestyles of their parents—
This Saudi right turn — combined with oil revenues used to build Wahhabi-inspired mosques, websites and madrassas across the Muslim world — has tilted the entire Sunni community to the right. Look at a picture of female graduates of Cairo University in 1950. Few are wearing veils. Look at them today. Many are wearing veils.
—but I don't think he has it quite right there. There was certainly a good deal of successful missionary activity (I remember veiling appearing suddenly here and there in Malaysia and Singapore in the 1980s under what must have been the influence of Saudi-sponsored "Dakwah" movements, generally one girl in a group of three or four in normal clothes, and nobody there was taking up arms at the time), but it never took hold of anything like a majority, and it didn't have an aspect of practical violence.

Salafi militancy got its start at the Pakistani-Afghan border, with Saudi finance combining with US arms and Pakistani intelligence. And to a lesser extent in the occupied Palestinian territories, where Israeli intelligence and Saudi funding worked to create a counterforce to the leftist, godless anti-occupation resistance—they grew the militant organizations known as Hamas and Islamic Jihad and so on. And having created it, as the USSR lost the war and dissolved, the US and Pakistan and KSA found they didn't like it much, but didn't know what to do. Salafi militancy as we know it was a byproduct of the Cold War. It spread with the foreign fighters from Arabia and the Maghreb and the north Caucasus and East Africa and western Europe coming back to their homes when fighting subsided—one American college student, Anwar al-Aulaqi, was radicalized on a visit to Afghanistan in 1993. And of course it flooded into Iraq and Syria after the 2003 US invasion. You built that, Tom. "Suck on this."
The French terrorists were born in France but were marinated in Wahhabi-Salafi thought through the web and local mosques — not Voltaire.
But the Web is from the mountains of Yemen, where Egyptian and Saudi veterans of the Afghan war found a haven. And the local mosques are being shaken by young men coming back from visits to Afghanistan like the killer of Toulouse in 2012 or Yemen like Said Kouachi, not long before Aulaqi, who may have given him some instruction, was killed. And now they'll be coming back from Syria too. It's not even necessarily about religion as much as it's about frustration and alienation and unemployment—can't find a decent job? You can make some money in Syria and they'll look after you a bit when you get back. It's something boys have always done when they're angry and have no future. Nobody was saying it was Voltaire.
jihadist zeal is easy to condemn, but will require multiple revolutions to stem — revolutions that will require a lot of people in the Arab-Muslim world and West to shed their ambivalence and stop playing double games.
Okay, Tom. And you can quietly flush that Million-Muslim March thing (forgot it already, Tom? For Christ's sake, it was only nine paragraphs ago!) down the toilet, now that you got your column done. There are a lot of double games out there, too. Maybe before we go around telling everybody else what to do we need to sit down and ask whether we've been playing one of them. Why don't you go first?

Advantages of Wearing Muslin Dresses! James Gillray, 1802 (suggested by Mrs Tsk)

No comments:

Post a Comment