Monday, March 13, 2006


You may have noticed the ferocious attitude I cultivate against islamism (oh, say, here, here, here, or here, for instance). Grrr. Let's git 'em, boys! It must be a cliche by now, that this is a civilizational struggle - or, as I self-righteously declaim, a struggle between civilization and barbarism. There will be no apology forthcoming, for the severity of my opinion or the clarity of its statement.

I understand their point of view. They think we're evil and need to be destroyed. What's not to get about that? If we were just wrong, we might be convinced, somehow, to be right like them. But we're beyond wrong. We're evil. So they believe. For my part, I don't care if they're evil or not. They are, but so what. I care about what they do. And what they do is bring war to us. What's that you say? - we brought war to them? Well, yes, eventually we did. But first things first. What we originally brought to them was technology. And medicine. You know - civilization. And then we had the affrontery to buy their oil.

Well, not their oil. I mean, did they make it? Earn it? Deserve it? It is what's known as a legacy resource. You don't even mine oil. Like a rich boy who inherits grampa's billions, they sit on top of it and wait. Not a situation designed to encourage a strong work ethic. But, like it or not (all you socialists), it is an inheritance. So oil is the unearned legacy of the Middle East. Problem is, I actually heard, through translation, His Excellency the President of Iran rant about how the West stole their oil. Somebody must have torn that page out of my history book. It's the tactic of every demagogue, be it the Ayatollah Khomeini or the "Reverend" Jackson: race baiting and phony grievance-mongering. They owe us! We was wronged! "We" owe you nothing. "You" owe us two Trade Center towers and the attendant dead. ... I'm waiting...

With such an enemy, there is no negotiating. I've dealt with scum, and suffered for it, and this finally taught me, I hope, about the real world. Maybe not, but one lesson I have internalized is that there is no reasoning with the irrational. There is good news, though. Very good news. "They" are not all scum. Turns out that most people are just normal people. They've been socialized according to the norms and mores of their culture - and let's not misunderestimate the power of that - but they love their families, and want to be happy. It's that Family of Man thing.

We do not point fingers at them because their religion has been pirated by scum. We have scum enough of our own, and we aren't scum. We don't become immobilized with dismay because they have mass demonstrations for unworthy causes - they have been propagandized, and believe lies. That the spirit of Hitler possesses the desert lands is a despicable reality, but all that fact says about, say, the Arabs is what it said about the Germans: a people suffers the consequences of having evil rulers. We in the English-speaking world have been uniquely blessed in the quality of our national leaders. No evil name comes to mind - outside the works of Shakespeare, that is. But the monsters of Asia, and Africa, and South America, and Continental Europe - there should be another Flood, to cleanse the shame of it.

But even in such a corrupt world, there are bright spots. And, weirdly, the UAE is one of them. Perfect? Certainly not. A liberal democracy? No. To this I say, so what. We are not so parochial that we imagine every society must ape our own. We have flaws enough, that we need not demand perfection in others. An individual who cares about absolutes may very well be a principled man. Governments that care about absolutes are called tyrannies. Protect us from the ruler who has all the answers. As for the UAE, Greg Dobbs of the Rocky Mountain News today writes from Dubai on its moderate nature:

"Maybe the best answer came from Fatma, a fresh young graduate at Zayed University. Covered head to toe in black, only her full face peeking through, she almost pleaded with me to understand that just because she is a Muslim, that doesn't mean she is a terrorist, or supports terrorists, or even understands terrorists. She said what everyone says: Terrorists have hijacked Islam for their own evil purposes, but the whole Islamic world should not be condemned for their wicked behavior. She wanted Americans to understand that her morality is merely a reflection of her spirituality, her clothing a reflection of her modesty."

The appurtenances of a culture are incidental, and actually meaningless. That American women wax their groins and display the very highest part of their inner ... ahem ... thighs ... uh, inner ... um ... oh, excuse me - my mind was wandering. What was I saying? Something about the fact that some woman choose to cover themselves up from head to toe, and this affectation is actually meaningless in any ultimate sense. Societies are allowed to be different. What is important is that we understand that behind the, as it were, veil - which we all wear - is just a person, with opinions that motivate actions. Opinions don't matter. Actions do. The actions, and even the opinions, of the people of Dubai seem generally quite moderate, quite reasonable, and, indeed, friendly to the West.

Hope is a small bird. If you squeeze it, it dies. It cannot save you, it cannot bear you aloft. It is weak. But when you're starving, you can eat it, and it keeps you alive. In this, it shows itself to be a phoenix. So I think we would not be wrong, to hope that the UAE continues to have decent rulers, continues to have a moderate populace, and continues to look favorably upon our cause.


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