The media and effete powers-that-be have been twisting themselves into Halal pretzels Islamsplainin’, rationalizing how a given Muslim terrorist attack isn’t really “Islamic” or isn’t significant. These contortions can become quite ridiculous, such as suggesting that recent Allahu Akbar-shouting Munich shooter Ali Sonboly might somehow have had “right-wing” motives because, among his violent passions, was an interest in Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik.
A more common (un)intellectual contortion is the minimizing tactic of claiming, as is politically correct authorities’ wont, that a given jihadist attacker “has no ties to IS” (the Islamic State), as if there’s nothing to see here if a man doesn’t provide notarized evidence of allegiance to the boogeyman du jour. Yet this is much as if we’d claimed during the Cold War that a Marxist terrorist attack wasn’t really a Marxist™ terrorist attack because we couldn’t find a connection to the Soviet Union. The issue and problem wasn’t primarily the Soviet Union but communism (Marxism birthed the USSR, not the other way around), an evil ideology that wreaks havoc wherever it takes hold. Likewise, the IS didn’t birth Islam; Islam birthed the IS.
Nonetheless, moderns will often use the misdirection of focusing inordinately on national or group associations when discussing terrorism. This is a dodge, one designed to help us avoid uncomfortable truths and which relegates us to playing an eternal game of whack-a-mole. The USSR is gone but communism is still a problem (witness North Korea and Cuba), and insofar as it’s less of a threat, it’s largely because its ideas have been discredited. Bad ideas’ standard bearers will change. But as long as the bad ideas remain tolerated and credible, they’ll always win converts.
In fact, the reality that today’s terrorists are diverse makes the point. They may be Iranian, Afghani, American, Albanian, German or from any nation whatsoever; they may be part of Hamas, IS, al Qaeda, the U.S. Army (Maj. Hassan), some other organization or no organization; they may be of any race or ethnicity, be rich or poor, and male or (occasionally) female. They only have one truly common thread: being Muslim.
The point is that, ultimately, this is a battle not of nations or organizations but of ideas, and ideas are powerful. Beliefs matter. Every action begins with a thought — or, at least, with a reflex response reflecting a world view that has shaped one’s thoughts and emotions.
Yet there’s more to understanding Muslim violence. A comprehensive German study of 45,000 immigrant youths, reported in 2010, found that while increasing religiosity among the Christian youths made them less violent, increasing religiosity among the Muslim youths actually made them more violent. Not more violent “if they join Islamic State” — but more violent, period. And while the study authors had their own, mostly politically correct explanations, I think I know a major reason why.
Becoming serious about a faith and digging into it generally means getting closer to its actual teachings. A lukewarm cradle Catholic may have little knowledge of even the Bible, but a devout one will likely have read that and the Church’s catechism. Likewise, an indifferent nominal Muslim (you know, the kind they call “moderate”) may not know much of the Koran, nine percent of which is devoted to political violence. Yet a pious Muslim may scour that book — and more. He may also imbibe the remaining 84 percent of the Islamic canon, the two books known as the Hadith and Sira.
And, respectively, 21 percent and 67 percent of their texts are devoted to political violence.
That’s what you call a full dose. Also note that while access to these two more obscure Islamic canonical texts was once limited, the Internet age places them at everyone’s fingertips. Couple this with the violent preaching of immigrant Imams and that Muslims consider violent warlord Mohammed “The Perfect Man” and thus the ultimate role model, and the German study’s findings are no mystery. Speaking of mysteries, though, the true effect of Islam will remain one unless we delve further — and break ourselves of certain misconceptions common to our times.
In the grip of religious-equivalence doctrine, many moderns have a habit of painting all faiths with the same brush; militant secularists hiss that they’re all bad while many conservatives will behave as if all “real” religions are good; consequently, conservatives sometimes reconcile dislike for Islam by insisting it is “not a religion.” But like ideology, “religion” is a category, not a creed; it contains the good, the bad and the ugly. So while religion isn’t bad, there is bad religion.
Now, most belief sets that have been embraced by man — whether we label them “ideology” or a “faith”; be they Nazism, communism, the Aztec religion involving mass human sacrifice or something else — have been what we today would call lacking to awful. This understanding lends perspective:
Islam is not an anomaly, historically speaking.
Rather, it aligns more closely with man’s default for belief sets: violence-enabling/tolerating wickedness. It is Christianity that is anomalous — as a real religion of peace.
Why does grasping this matter? The common assumption that a belief set labeled “religious” must involve generally peaceful injunctions is a result of projecting our own historically anomalous Christian standards onto other, often historically normal belief sets. This understanding can break us of the emotional reluctance to accept that what we call a “major religion” could be destructive. Instead of wrongly believing we must place Islam in a lonely, sparsely occupied “abnormal” category, we realize we merely have to accept that it’s closer to that oh-so tragic, bloody human norm. Now, there’s yet one more thing to consider about the impact of Islam.
When analyzing the effect of a religion, people understandably focus on its injunctions. What does it dictate? Yet such an analysis is insufficient because man’s default is not to be saintly but uncivilized; people will naturally display many if not all the Seven Deadly Sins and be generally barbaric unless some civilizing agency tempers their fallen nature. Thus, as with a person, the true measure of a religion is not just what it does but what it fails to do — its faults of omission, not just of commission.
It is clear to me that while Islam may be better than the Aztec and some other pagan religions, it nonetheless does a relatively poor job taming the beast. In fact, it apparently gives great license to our sinful nature. Considering greed, lust and sloth, why is it that many Muslims believe it’s licit to rob, rape and leech off kuffars (non-Muslims)? Does Islam do much to temper the envy and pridefulness inspiring so much anti-Western hatred? What of the officially approved bearing of false witness called taqiyya? Then there’s that father of violence, wrath. Danish psychologist Dr. Nicolai Sennels, who worked for years with incarcerated Muslim youth, points out that anger is highly accepted in Muslim cultures; moreover, the ability to intimidate, he writes, “is seen as strength and source of social status.” He concludes, “Islam and Muslim culture have certain psychological mechanisms that harm people’s development and increase criminal behaviour.”
Also note that the West’s foundational faith, Christianity, and its root, Judaism — the two faiths Westerners are best acquainted with and whose norms they may reflexively (and unwisely) project onto Islam — have as the basis of their moral law the Ten Commandments. Islam’s moral law is Sharia. And ne’er the twain shall meet.
In other words, even if given Muslims aren’t mindful of their canon’s violent injunctions, even if jihad is the furthest thing from their minds, they will as a group still be more prone to violence. That is, as long as their hearts and minds embody what Islam does, and what it fails to do.