Price Of Moderation

In the days leading up to this week’s ghastly attacks in Paris – which are, justifiably but inevitably, inescapable in the media – there was an event that, in the great scheme of things, might have been more important.

But you’d never know from the American media.

We’ll get back to that.

Between Two Hungry Dobermen:  It’s said that the most dangerous thing to be in the world is a moderate Arab.  For the past eighty years, the first line of tactics among the extremes in Muslim thought – which are a minority among the Islamic community, but which surely do command a disproportionate share of Muslim and Occidental mindshare, pro and con – was to obliterate the “moderates”; those who sought accomodation with the West, those who spoke for reform among the dictatorships and oligarchs and petty monarchs and warlords that had divvied up most of the Muslim world, and especially those who sought to bury the hatchet with the Jews someplace other than in the Jews’ heads.

Going back to the thirties, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem – an ally of Hitler, and the first “Palestinian” extremist – didn’t much bother with attacking Jews; most of his energies went into purging Arabs who sought ethnic cleansing with insufficient ardor.

So successful has it been among Palestinians in particular that Al-Fatah, Yassir Arafat’s old group, a group tied to a river of Jewish blood in the seventies and eighties, is considered a “moderate” Palestinian group.

But it’s not just Palestinians.  In 1981, after stepping far out of the ideological box to meet with Jimmy Carter and Menachem Begin (himself, not to mince words, a former terrorist) and design a peace with Israel that still stands almost four decades later, Egyptian dictator Anwar El-Sadat was murdered by extreme Islamist elements in his own Army.

Speaking moderation in the Islamic world is extraordinary – and, outside a few enclaves, the US and to a lesser extent India and a diminishing extent Western Europe, extraordinarily dangerous.

Talk Like An Egyptian:  And so Egyptian President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi’s speech on New Years Day (which coincided with Mohammed’s birthday this year) is more than a little notable.  Not “revolutionary” as some have suggested; he’s not a Muslim Calvin or Luther or Knox.

Still, in a community that is rightfully petrified by eighty years of brutal suppression of moderate opinion, it’s energizing to hear:

“I say and repeat, again, that we are in need of a religious revolution. You imams are responsible before Allah. The entire world is waiting on you. The entire world is waiting for your word … because the Islamic world is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost. And it is being lost by our own hands,” el-Sisi said.

“We need a revolution of the self, a revolution of consciousness and ethics to rebuild the Egyptian person — a person that our country will need in the near future,” the President said…“It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire Islamic world to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible that this thinking — and I am not saying the religion — I am saying this thinking,” el-Sisi said.

He continued: “This is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world! Does this mean that 1.6 billion people (Muslims) should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants — that is 7 billion — so that they themselves may live? Impossible!”

As many in the West ask the hitherto-rhetorical question “when will a moderate Muslim speak out against the madness”, here’s  a short answer.

Or it might be.  Naturally, the extremists behind the carnage in Paris ignored Al-Sisi, although they were hardly the audience he was addressing.

Al-Sisi – a former general, at the head of a large, relatively sophisticated and reliable military (although so was Sadat), may be one of few Muslim leaders who could get away with such an affront.  And Islam is hardly monolithic; the rift between Shia and Sunni is just one of many that ensure that there can be no one spokesperson for all, or even most, of Islam.

The speech was no “95 Theses” – but then, that event didn’t resolve its contemporaneous conflict, either – but it’s as close as we’ve seen from the Muslim world in a long, long time.

16 thoughts on “Price Of Moderation

  1. On the the one hand, I wouldn’t make much of this. Al-Sisi is not an influential imam.
    On the other hand, Al-Sisi is contradicting the Left’s non-sensical “this has nothing to do with Islam!” bullshit.
    I wonder just what Lefties think the terrorists are committing terrorist acts for when they shout “Alahu Akbar!” and start slaughtering people? A higher minimum wage? If they are extremists or radicals, exactly which extremist or radical ideology are they pushing?

  2. The Anarchists waxed and waned for 30-40 years, killing kings and presidents. They objected to the monarchies, elite capitalists, and widespread inequality of the turn of the 20th century. Then one killed archduke Franz Ferdinand, we had WWI, and the world they were a part of disappeared, along with them.

    Islamic extremism will continue for some time yet, probably decades. At some point, the Islamic world will change, and the extremists will lose their relevance and disappear. Until then they will be with us. It matters a great deal how the Islamic world will change, and how fast.

  3. Anarchists weren’t around for very long. They were a product of 19th century politics and economics.
    Islam has been around since the eighth century. For most of that time it dedicated itself to the destruction of the West. The Ottoman Turks laid siege to Vienna as late as the 1680s. The decline of Islam as a military and cultural power, 1700-present, was probably due to religious conservatism ( as was Spain’s decline in the same epoch).
    The current version of aggressive Sunni Islam is Wahabism. The Wahabi’s have been closely allied with the Saudi’s for a few hundred years. The Wahabi’s are very bad. They are the Muslim equivalent of the Westboro Baptists. Even the other crazy strict Muslims think the Wahabi’s are too crazy and strict.
    Unfortunately, when the Saudi tribe has supported the Wahabi’s, the Saudi’s thrived. When the Saudi’s withdrew their support from the Wahabi’s, the house of Saud waned. Saudi leadershipe is conscious of this. It is a very bad situation. Best to steer clear of that madness by creating our own petroleum.

  4. ISIS scares the shit out of Saudi and Qatari princes. ISIS may have a lot of Saudis in it, but it wasn’t started by the Saudi government (Did their method of governing lead to it by accident? A better question). A strong ISIS and a weak price of oil are about the only forces that might lead to liberal reforms in the Arabian peninsula.

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  6. ” It’s said that the most dangerous thing to be in the world is a moderate Arab. For the past eighty years, the first line of tactics among the extremes in Muslim thought – which are a minority among the Islamic community, but which surely do command a disproportionate share of Muslim and Occidental mindshare, pro and con – was to obliterate the “moderates”; those who sought accomodation with the West, those who spoke for reform among the dictatorships and oligarchs and petty monarchs and warlords that had divvied up most of the Muslim world, and especially those who sought to bury the hatchet with the Jews someplace other than in the Jews’ heads.”

    Rubbish. That is said only by those who fear monger intolerance and ignorance.

    The largest Muslim nation in the world is Indonesia. The whole country is full of perfectly safe and moderate Muslims, who actively condem extremism, including Muslim extremism.


    Sorry Doggone, but in God we trust, all others must provide data. Data provided, your claims have (once again) been found wanting.

    And speaking as someone who has been to neighboring Malaysia, the big reason that these things don’t happen there is because both nations depend on foreign investment for work and money–foreign investment that will disappear if people get hurt by terrorists. There is a difference between the dynamic in the oil-rich Middle East, and the rest of the world here.

  8. 02 Bali Bombings, terrorist attack involving the detonation of three bombs on the Indonesian island of Bali on October 11, 2002, that killed 202 people. At 11:05 pm a suicide bomb exploded in Paddy’s Bar, a locale frequented by foreigners, especially Australian youth. The bar’s patrons, some of whom were injured by the explosion, evacuated into the street. Within seconds, another, more powerful car bomb exploded in front of the Sari Club, near Paddy’s. A third bomb was detonated in front of the U.S. consulate on the island of Bali, though no one was injured in that attack. While the majority of the victims were Australian (88), Indonesian (38), and British (28), people from at least 21 different countries were killed in the attack. A week later, Indonesian police arrested the first of more than 30 terrorists suspected of planning and executing the bombings.

    The investigations that followed the terrorist attack—undertaken not only by the Indonesian authorities but also by Australian and British task forces—identified the terrorist organization Jemaah Islamiyah (an Islamic group) as responsible for the bombings. Suspected of having carried out several other terrorist attacks in the past, Jemaah Islamiyah was also linked by the Indonesian government to al-Qaeda, the international terrorist network founded by Osama bin Laden.
    Again you have the signs typical of Islamist terrorism. The perpetrators were in no way victims of the West, or of Jews, but they felt a close affinity with their fellow Muslims half a world away — they thought the US military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq were an assault on their own religion, Islam.

  9. Look! More real data!

    8. Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden Consistent with their rejection of attacks on civilians, majorities or pluralities say they oppose al Qaeda’s attacks on Americans. But many say they share some of al Qaeda’s attitudes toward the US and substantial majorities endorse many of al Qaeda’s goals. Views of Osama binLaden are quite divided, with many expressing uncertainty. Views of al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden may be complicated by the widespread disbelief that al Qaeda committed the September 11 attacks.

    According to this scholarly study, 15% of Indonesians support al Qaida’s attacks on Americans and share al Qaida’s attitude towards the US. Another 24% of Indonesians reject violence towards Americans, but still share alQaida’s attitude towards the US.
    This analysis was put out by a Lefty university department. The authors have a different take on the results than I do. Where they say that a majority or plurality reject reject terrorism, I would say that a significant minority support terrorism in the name of Islam. These are very populous countries. There are over 150 million Muslims in Indonesia. that means around 22.5 million support al Qaida’s attacks on Americans — and remember, the US has not attacked or invaded Indonesia.

  10. What I’d like to know is why does DG (and by extension, the entire leftysphere) so fervently defend and support Islam and Muslims, when they are BLATANTLY anti-feminist and homophobic? Do they thrive under the misguided notion that extending political sympathy to them will excuse the left from the blade if (probably when) they try to overwhelm the west and spread the caliphate? It may not happen soon, but Western (caucasian and mixed race) populations are decreasing because modern society has made producing children expensive, and undesireable to many. Islam, on the other hand, teaches that large families are desireable (all the better to increase their population and spread the word/convert the infidels) and will become the majority of European population in 30-40 years. What happens when more than 50% of France is Muslim and their representatives in French legislature start re-writing French law with Sharia principles? Who will be there to stop it?

    Why is there no outcry from the left over the fact that under Sharia law, women are not allowed to drive, they are not allowed to work, they are not allowed to leave the house without a male relative, and they must cover themselves from head to toe? Western Muslim women are usually allowed to at least have their face open. In Saudi Arabia, women can only look thru a small slit in their burqa.

    Women in Islam are treated like property, barely better than a pet. And they kill homosexuals, for being homosexual. DG and the left are awfully forgiving of those problems.

    On a related note, Howard YEEEEAAAAGGGGGH Dean said that the terrorists who killed the Charlie Hebdo folk in Paris are NOT Muslim, they are merely a cult. Never mind that they are a cult that screamed Allahu Akbar and said they were avenging the Prophet….but they were just a cult. I’d like someone to ask him if he also feels that the Westboro Baptist Church is not Christian, but merely a cult. And if he says “Oh, no, they’re definitely a Christian church!”, then can Clubber Lang put him down with a nice right hand gut punch?

  11. Dog Gone: Most of the terrorists in the world are Muslim, but most of the 1.6 billion Muslims are not and will not be terrorists, nor do they express support for individual acts of terrorism. Although a significant and large proportion of the Muslim population in their countries of origin and in Europe do, however, express support in general for the aims of for ISIS and/or Al Qaeda; that tacit support gives life to terrorist organizations, and provides a steady flow of recruits, from majority Muslim countries and from European and American Muslim minorities.

    PM: After the fall of Rome, the Catholic church was very powerful relative to the many petty kings and rulers throughout western Europe. This competition for power helped lay the ground for liberalism and the rule of law. Because the power of otherwise absolute monarchs was held in check by powerful popes and bishops, the monarchs had to act politically, gaining support of minor nobles and eventually the bourgeoisie. Monarchs were subject to the rule of law because it was God’s law. That interplay eventually led to successful liberal reform. Conversely, the secular rulers, forced to gather legitimacy in order to battle the power of the church, in turn fought against the power of the church. Luther survived his protests because his survival helped Germanic princes to battle the over-mighty Catholic church. The balance between church power and secular power in western Europe is what allowed the Reformation to happen, and why it both reformed the church and led to limited, secular government and rule by law.

    Islam is not ready for a reformation in part because Islam does not have a powerful clergy. There is no authoritative council or pope figure to hold rulers and extremists to account when they claim to be acting in the name of Allah. There is no powerful church to lay down God’s law and hold otherwise absolute monarchs to account. Iran is the exception, but in that case the clergy went beyond the medieval Catholic church and seized secular power rather than acting from a distance. That secular power has corrupted and compromised it. Islam can be exploited by extremists and rules because it is decentralized and weak. Only a strong church which balances strong states can lead to a Luther-type reformation.

  12. Emery-
    What do we mean when we ask for an Islamic Reformation?
    Reformation was schism. These schisms became identified with nations. The years 1500-1700 were some of the bloodiest in European history. Despite the advance — even the invention — of the scientific world view, the years 1500-1700 can be seen as regressive. In the 13th century being accused of witchcraft meant doing penance. In the 16th century it meant torture and death at the stake. Reformation was the cause of more violence, not more peace.
    When people say that Islam needs to be reformed, what they really mean is that Islamic society needs to be secularized. This is not the same as a reformation.

  13. When liberal democracies are beacons of freedom and opportunity, the support for Islamists will whither away. That is not a short term solution, but in the end the Islamists can only be defeated like the Anarchists of 100 years ago and the violent left and right wing radicals of the 1960s-1990s. We win by showing them why our way is best. So govern better; people are watching.

  14. I wish it were that simple, Emery.
    At a time when when the choice was clear between freedom and slavery (the 1950s-1960s), many Arab and Islamic countries aligned themselves with the USSR and China. America and the West were clearly wealthier, and its citizens enjoyed immense political freedom compared to communist countries. It didn’t matter.
    Countries that did align themselves with the West, like Saudi Arabia, did not become free of religious intolerance. Iran regressed from the twentieth century to the 13th century, deliberately and with popular support.

  15. Emery, you may want to re-read about the Reformation. It was (Wytcliffe, Hus, etc..) held in check by powerful clergy until the Reformation greatly reduced the power of the clergy. You’ve got it exactly backwards. It was the power of ideas, not a powerful clergy, that led to it.

    And the last time I checked–Wahhabi leaders in Saudi Arabia, Ayatollahs in Iran–Islam does have a powerful clergy. It’s nowhere near as monolithic as that of the Medieval Catholics, but to argue they don’t have a powerful clergy is nonsense.

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