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Monday, November 9, 2009

Let's Worry About the Lash More Than The Backlash

In the wake of an unspeakable murder spree on a U.S. military base, new evidence has emerged that the killer had contact with Al Qaeda, a fact known to the CIA. Also, "investigators want to know if Hasan maintained contact with a radical mosque leader from Virginia, Anwar al Awlaki, who now lives in Yemen and runs a web site that promotes jihad around the world against the U.S.."

What is our government's response?

Our Homeland Security secretary is "working to prevent a possible wave of anti-Muslim sentiment..." and "the Army has also partnered with the National Institute for Health on a $50 million study of suicide, and has a $125 million program aimed at giving soldiers and their family members the 'resilient skills they need to make it through these tough times'." Meanwhile, the President's own adviser on "Muslim Affairs", Dalia Mogahed, recently went on British television and advocated the imposition of Sharia law in Muslim majority communities.

I am sure the families of those murdered would agree that we should be worried about lash, not backlash. More generally, the behavior of the Obama regime demonstrates how much the left is disconnected from reality. The self-induced fog of ethical relativism renders them intellectually incapable of connecting actions and ideas. The inability to define and name our enemy ideologically is what is causing the failure of our military effort in the Middle East and now, the inability to protect our soldiers even on domestic military bases.

While radical Islamists overtly call for our annihilation, the relativist says, in effect, we can not pass judgement. They lecture we naive simpletons that no ideology is better than any other, except, of course, any ideology that favors freedom and capitalism, which is surely evil. As our enemies build nuclear bombs, send arms to destroy our allies, and call for jihad, our leftist government admonishes us to tolerate anything while encouraging psychological counseling on how to be "resilient" and "make it through these tough times."

Rather than spending $125 million on "resilient skills" and submitting to the "tough times" caused by the enemies of reason and individual rights, I suggest we spend that money on courses in logic, history, and Objectivism with some extra thrown in for some bullets and bombs.


madmax said...


The anti-Jihad conservatives will argue that bold, offensive war against the main muslim countries is not enough. They will argue that muslim immigration needs to be stopped and that Islam itself needs to be seriously scrutinized. Some will even argue that it needs to be banned entirely.

I am somewhat sympathetic with these arguments even though I have no sympathy for conservatism. But it does seem to me that Islam itself is hostile enemy ideology and that anyone that takes it seriously is a potential enemy to America and the West. But I realize that there are philosophic problems with banning a religion. I am curious as to your thinking on this subject. Its not an easy one for me.

The Rat Cap said...


Thanks for the comment and good question. Here is how I think about this problem:

No one has the "freedom" to plot the murder of innocent people. Obviously, such a case is not a first amendment issue since conspiracy to committ murder, properly, is a crime.

When does an ideology, religion, philosophy, etc. itself cross the line where it is no longer a matter of free thought and becomes a "conspiracy" so to speak, or "subversive" in the sense that it threatens the government or the rule of law?

I wrote a post a while back that discussed just this issue although in a different context:


I quoted an article that discussed the "imminence" standard in the United States which I think is reasonable:

The imminence requirement [set by the US Supreme Court] sets a high hurdle. Mere advocacy of violence, terrorism or the overthrow of the government is not enough; the words must be meant to, and be likely to, produce violence or lawlessness right away. A fiery speech urging an angry racist mob immediately to assault a black man in its midst probably qualifies as incitement under the First Amendment. A magazine article - or any publication -aimed at stirring up racial hatred surely does not.

I agree that in a free country, the hurdle should be set very high in terms of what constitutes a real threat and I think the imminence requirement is valid. Therefore, unless an Imam, for example, is inciting his followers to immediately rise up and overthrow the government or commit some act of violence, I would not advocate a ban of some kind.

I would advocate a ban for any organization who's stated goals were the violent overthrow of the rule of law like the old communist party.

So, the problem here is not really one of "banning" anything. I think the bigger problem is acknowledging the nature of Islam as it is practiced, certainly in the Middle East, and especially in countries that are governed by theocratic dictatorship under Sharia law.

Number one, we have to recognize that Sharia law is objectively antithetical to freedom and human rights. This is a claim that the multiculturalists would reject since they can not state anything objectively. Sharia upends even the most basic tenets of a civil society which include rule of law, jury trial, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, property rights, voting rights, among others.

Second, the radical Islamists that seek not just to practice their religion but to subjugate those in the West and/or to annihilate the infidels under global jihad are not just expressing an opinion but are openly declaring war on the West. This should be taken seriously and must be fought with force where there is a real threat.

The mere advocacy of implementing Sharia in the West probably does not constitute a threat under the imminence requirement unless you were plotting actual violent action.

Of course, Sharia by its nature is rights violating so any organized effort to seriously implement it politically could be considered a serious and imminent threat. I certainly would consider it an absolute affront to the Bill of Rights.

Again, in this case, it is more important philosophically to acknowledge the nature of religion as such and this particular religion and to objectively oppose it as an ideological enemy of the West. The more we sanction it with calls for "tolerance" or "religion of peace", the more we relax needed pressure for Muslims to undergo a sort of reformation where they learn to practice their religion within the rule of law.

"Tolerance" does not mean refraining from criticizing an evil ideology that poses an existential threat. However, unless there is a direct and imminent threat, it is still a philosophical battle not a legal one.

Let me know if this helps.

madmax said...


The "imminence" standard is a good one. I think that does make it conceptually easier to know when those muslims are just talking as to when they are taking action designed to overthrow secular rule. I think much of what all the muslim civil rights do today would be considered enemy activity under a rational standard. And of course, Jihadists like Hassan would have been spotted and prosecuted immediately in a non-egalitarian, non-relativist culture.

I think that the Conservative arguments are too heavily influenced by their Christian apology. Anti-Jihad Christians are in a tight spot. They have to attack one Abrahamic faith while defending another one. Of course they have all types of very sophisticated arguments to show that Christianity is the religion that made peace, reason and science possible whereas Islam is pure barbarism (no joke, this is a common argument from Christian Traditionalists). I think getting Islam banned might be one way to get favored treatment for Christianity.

Bottom line, I am going to be very distrustful of any Christian commentary on Islam, even if it is anti-Jihad. Islam must be fought according to principles in line with the defense of individual rights. Thank you for reminding me of that.

The Rat Cap said...


I agree with your point that Christians are not in an ideal position to condemn Islam. In fact, Christians were at one time, way more vicious than today's fanatical Muslim's (if that's possible). The more fundamental epistemological problem is the issue of reason vs. faith. Once you adopt faith, how can you criticize someone else that receives a differing revelation?

Practically speaking, however, I think that Muslim's must at least transition to the post-Reformation state of many Christians where they can practice religion in the broader context of a civil society governed by rule of law, free speech, etc. To the extent that Muslims insist on merging state and religion, it constitutes a grave threat to freedom and individual rights and such a movement requires an intellectual and, perhaps, military battle if it comes to that.

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The Rat Cap said...

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