Cheap Seats 2016
Reality Check - Part 1 - 06/29/16
By Rich Trzupek
It’s an election year and people get especially stupid during election years, conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican. It’s always been that way in America and I’m sure it will always be so. But, there is stupid and then there is Stupid. America and the rest of the western world is under attack, but a political party and roughly half the populace refuses to even consider the possibility that the root cause of the problem is ideology, not access to a particular kind of weaponry.
Since I strongly suspect the Shiite is about to hit the fan, a thorough review of the situation is in order. As I said in last week’s column – though I won’t present myself as the world’s ultimate expert on Islam – I do believe that my personal experience traveling to and working in the Middle East makes me more knowledgeable about the Muslim world than 99.9 percent of the non-military American populace.
Accordingly, Professor Trzupek is going to spend a few weeks lecturing y’all about the Radical Islam problem. Those of you who desperately want to believe that there is no Radical Islam problem will be annoyed. That’s cool. That kind of denial actually makes me smile in some sort of sick kind of way.
Radical Islamist deniers fervently want us to believe: a) violent jihadists like the idiot Orlando shooter were not motivated by Islam, b) they would have engaged in violent acts whether or not radical Islam’s call to vengeful, holy and divinely-dictated violence that actually exists in the Quran factored in, and c) they jumped on radical Islam at the last possible moment as the most convenient explanation available at the time to excuse their insane behavior, rather than being the actual cause of their insane behavior.
Let’s start here: who are Muslims?
That’s a nuanced question, and there is no universally-applicable answer that serves in the case of Islam any more than could serve in the case of Christianity. In so far as we interact with nations with a significant Muslim investment among their populace, we can consider several distinct types of Muslim states.
First, we have those Muslim-influenced states that more-or-less openly side with us and the western world in the battle against radical, fundamentalist Islam. Morocco (the first country to recognize the sovereignty of the then newly-formed United States of America by-the-by), Jordan, Egypt, Oman, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Let’s call them “allies” without qualification.
Next, there are those Muslim-influenced states that may or may not want to openly side with us and western world in the battle against radical, fundamentalist Islam, but whom are not willing to openly express their opinion on the issue because they believe doing so would endanger their grasp of the ship of their particular state. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Pakistan, Turkey, Algeria, Libya (or at least today’s even more screwed-up version of what passes for government in Libya) are our “reluctant” allies.
Moving on, we have those Muslim-influenced states that are openly, proudly hostile to western, Judeo-Catholic principles in general and to the manifestation of such that is the United States of American in particular. Openly hostile states include Iran, Syria, Palestine, Brunei and Lebanon. The last has effectively become an Iranian client-state, hostile de facto if not de jurie. (That’s “in practice” as opposed to “officially” for those of you who didn’t have to suffer through four years of Latin under Jesuit tutelage in high school).
These are nations where sharia law is prominent: homosexuality and illegal drug use are punishable by death; fathers have the “right” to torture and/or kill their daughters for any reason what-so-ever, like for holding hands or – Allah forbid – kissing a young man not approved of by dad; a woman cannot make the case that she was raped unless she can produce four witnesses to the rape as the Quran dictates and, as a bonus, if she does make an accusation of rape and is unable to produce four witnesses to the act, then sharia law says that she has thus admitted to adultery and can therefore be stoned to death.
Next we have nations where the government officially rejects sharia law, but fundamentalist rebels control substantial amounts of territory and enforce it nonetheless. Examples of this sort include Nigeria, Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, etc.
We also have those nations that are trying to figure out where they fall in the Muslim spectrum: Iraq and Afghanistan. I appreciate George W. Bush’s attempt to coax these nations into the twenty-first century and I understand Barack Obama’s decision to abandon W’s Quixotic efforts. Neither, I am convinced, really understood the complexity of the problem nor its many nuances.
Finally, there are those nations that fall under the categorization of “other”, countries that pay lip-service to the sort of orthodoxy that the Quran demands, but pretty much let things slide in practice, while simultaneously not being so bold as to openly side with America or the west in the battle against religious intolerance. “Other” Muslim-influenced states include Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, the various “stans” that emerged after the break-up of the USSR and Bosnia and Herzegovina. And, while India should not be defined as an “other” state, it should be noted that India has a substantial and largely petulant Muslim minority.
If this all sounds like a hot mess – it is. Liberals want to dodge the actual issues here by conflating all of the above into a simple, easily-understood thing that they call “Islam” as if the divisions described above do not exist and, ergo, prevent anyone from identifying the worst of bunch with a qualifier like “radical”, since the use of that qualifier must necessarily insult all Muslims, because – you know – no Muslim on planet earth can possibly be aware that there are different interpretations of their own religion.
More next week.
There will be a quiz.