Monday, August 30, 2010
Obama's Fictitious "Moderate Muslim Majority"
August 30, 2010 - Joel Gilbert
Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “story” as ‘an imaginary account of real people and events’ and ‘a yarn’. President Barack Obama has long dispensed the following fiction to Americans: the Muslim world is divided between “radicals” and “moderates.” Unfortunately, this narrative is at the forefront of US foreign policy, and its lack of basis in reality is leading to the failure of US efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, while raising a false sense of security at home. President Obama’s “story”goes like this: adherents of Islam are comprised of two groups, "radical Muslims" and "moderate Muslims.” The "radical Muslims" believe in the use of violence, because they are “against freedom.” Fortunately, "radical Muslims" represent a very small minority, while the “vast majority” of Islam’s one billion Believers are "moderate Muslims.” According to President Obama, "moderate Muslims" and Americans have “shared values and common aspirations.” Obama also preaches that “moderate Muslims” wish to join America’s fight against “radical Muslims.” The President assures America that its human and material sacrifices in Iraq and Afghanistan will succeed due to the partnership with "moderate Muslims" in those countries. Meanwhile at home, "moderate Muslims" should make Americans feel safer, as “moderates” will report “radicals” to local authorities.
Television news provides daily graphic depictions of "radical Muslims." However, if they really exist, where are the "moderate Muslims" that President Obama speaks of so often? Americans are left to imagine what "moderate Muslims" look like, where they might be located, and whether they have organizations with websites they can visit. And, if there are "radical Muslims" and "moderate Muslims,” mustn’t there also be "liberal Muslims? Why doesn’t CNN cover those “liberal Muslim” pro-Israel street demonstrations?
In fact, there are no such groups as “radical Muslims” or “moderate Muslims.” These designations do not exist in the Islamic world. These terms were invented in recent times only because Islamic goals and values are not understood or shared by the West. From the very inception of Islam, the Christian West has had difficulty understanding Islam as a different religious phenomenon than Christianity. When Muslims conquered the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century, Christians referred to Muslims arriving from North Africa as “Moors.” Over the centuries, Spaniards continued to refer to Muslims as Moors, even if they were from India or Indonesia. In the rest of Europe, Muslims were referred to as “Turks,” after the group of central Asian nomadic invaders who converted to Islam and governed the Islamic Empire in the Middle Ages. In Asia minor, Christians referred to Muslims as “Tartars,” an ethnic name. When Europeans finally understood that Islam was not an ethnic group, they mistakenly perceived it in terms of a Western religious group. In the early 1900's, Europeans began referring to Islam as “Muhammadism,” and Muslims as “Muhammadans,” incorrectly assuming the Prophet Muhammad had the same role in Islam that Jesus did in Christianity. To this day, misunderstandings continue: Westerners describe the mosque as a “Muslim church,” equate the Muslim Friday to the Christian Sunday, refer to the Koran as the “Muslim Bible,” and believe sheiks to be “Muslim priests.”
Westerners also incorrectly group Muslims politically, using Western terms such as “moderate,” “conservative,” and “radical.” So different are Western and Muslim world views, that identical words can have two different meanings. In the West, “freedom” is the right of individuals to participate in the formation, conduct, and lawful removal of governments from power - the basis of constitutionalism and parliamentary government. For the Islamic world, “freedom” means “independence”from foreign rule, which they equate with “tyranny.” In the West, the opposite of tyranny is “freedom.” In Islam, the opposite of tyranny is “justice.” For Muslim thinkers, “justice” is the ideal, and justice distinguishes good leaders from bad leaders. For the majority of Muslims, bad leaders are those who have Western values and are allied with the West. The rise to power of Islamist political parties everywhere free elections are held in the Middle East speaks volumes.
Because the West considers its development of “separation of church and state” and "secularism" as the highest evolution of humanity, those not sharing Western values are dismissed as “radical,” or essentially “nuts.” Though lacking a shred of evidence, President Obama insists there exists a “vast majority” of “moderate Muslims” who do share Western values. After all, part of the “story” is that "radical Muslims" are just a small group of former "moderate Muslims" who have been "radicalized," as one can become a "radical Muslim" only through brainwashing.
A more accurate description of political loyalties in the Islamic world is that the majority of Muslims are either active or passive supporters of the movement of Islamism. The movement for Islamic Revival or “Islamism,” is an indigenous, grass-roots movement championed by both poor and educated Muslims throughout the Muslim world. "Islam is the solution!" is the Islamist call to action against Westernization and secular governments in the Muslim world, which provide the masses with little hope or future. Islamists do not consider themselves to be revolutionaries, in the sense of revolution changing society in a new way. Rather, Islamists strive to rebuild internally by applying traditional principles to reestablish the past strength and glory of Islam. A return to success necessitates the purification of Islamic society from secular government systems, legislation, and institutions borrowed from or imposed by the West. For Islamists, political upheaval, if needed by the sword, is a necessary part of the purification of their society, hundreds of years in the making. Islamism advocates the implementation of Shari’ah (Islamic law) and the restoration of the Koran as the sole authority for government in Muslim countries. Meanwhile, Western military presence in Muslim countries constitutes an affront to Islamists. Islamists believe that dominance by unbelievers is blasphemous, as it can lead to abasement of faith, immorality, and violations of Holy Law. Islamists view Israel as the center of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy, whose purpose is to infiltrate Muslim countries, destroy Islamic values, and instill the germ of Westernization, with the ultimate goal of eradicating Islam. Despite wishful thinking in the West, Islamism is the only serious alternative to secular forms of government in the Middle East, and does represent the aspirations of the majority of Muslims across the Islamic world.
Discarding President Obama’s fictitious “story” of “moderate Muslims” and “radical Muslims,” the true reality emerges with regard to Iraq and Afghanistan: America has no real allies in these countries, and there is little or no support for secular, Western democracy. Following a US withdrawal, its only a matter of time before the US backed governments collapse and Islamist forces seize power, leaving the American public to ask “what happened to our allies, the moderate Muslim majority?” The answer is that this was only a “story,” a yarn composed by politicians due to their lack of understanding. This misunderstanding has been the basis of US foreign policy failures for years. Jimmy Carter was guilty of it when he withdrew support from America’s ally, The Shah of Iran, believing Western secular democracy would break out in Iran. Its the very same misunderstanding that led President Bush to believe that once the Taliban and later Saddam Hussein were toppled, that “moderate Muslims” in those countries would establish Western democracies. Yet the “story” continues with President Obama, that a “vast majority” of Muslims are “moderate Muslims,” and are America’s allies. Absent any evidence, this “story” should be relegated to Saturday morning cartoons where such imagination is not fatal.
© 2010 Joel Gilbert
Joel Gilbert is an Islamic history scholar and writer/director of two recent documentary feature films on the Middle East. His newest release is the award winning ATOMIC JIHAD: Ahmadinejad's Coming War for Islamic Revival and Obama's Politics of Defeat.