Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What Nurtures Peace and Tolerance? What Destroys Peace and Tolerance? The relationship between Islamic triumphalism and Islamophobia.

What gets in the way of peace and tolerance in the world today ?

How is this played out in the Islamic world's internal conflicts in places like Syria, Nigeria and Pakistan/Afghanistan, and in the issues of Muslims in the West, including Islamic terrorism and Islamophobia?

The following is an excerpt from an interesting and extensive analysis which offers many points for further exploration, disagreement and pondering.

"Right now, the core element of the jihadi impulse is triumphalist: “We are the warriors who, in conquering for Islam, prove that Allah is the most high God and Muhammad his true prophet.” The greatest appeal that they exercise on the larger Muslim Ummah is precisely in terms of this assurance that Islam is destined to rule the world, this psychological comfort that Islam is the true faith, despite its apparent lowliness in the modern world. And when people speak of the radicalization of mosques in the West, they mean the introduction of an aggressive triumphalist Islam.

The triumphalist Muslim motto: Where there was Dar al Harb (Realm or Abode of the Sword or of War), there shall be Dar al Islam. This religiosity informs a wide range of attitudes, particularly visible in the widespread acts of contempt and disdain that triumphalists show for infidels. This behavior runs the gamut from everyday forms of intimidation and scorn, to the programmatic rape of infidel women, and the slaughtering those who “insult” the prophet.

In Paris in 2015, jihadis began with attacks on blasphemers and Jews and ended with attacks on the nightlife scene. Some puzzled about why. Whence this hostility? It seems less incomprehensible when one realizes that triumphalists find any independent infidel, especially those who are enjoying their (immoral) freedom, intolerable. While different believers have different thresholds at which they will become violent, all triumphalists are susceptible to the Jihadi temptation. When people warn of the negative impact of insults on moderate Muslims’, they refer, often without acknowledging it, to this tipping point at which triumphalists find the behavior of insufficiently deferential infidels unbearable.

Culturally, triumphalism is at the intersection of two powerful social forces: a tribal warrior ethos that appeals especially to the youth, and an imperial, millennial ethos that mobilizes the drive for world conquest. Together they constitute a powerful recruiting device urging hormone-riddled young people to join the apocalyptic global battle to implement Allah’s plan for a global Caliphate. And as victorious warriors, to them go the spoils of holy war.

The ability to identify this behavior and the attitude underlying it, constitutes a critical element in the defense of free and tolerant societies. One of the most significant dimensions of this problem manifests itself in a key dimension of the triumphalist Muslims’ war on the West: the matter of honor, disrespect, and hurt feelings. By insisting on the hurt feelings of the community, Muslim triumphalists have pressured Western harbis into making extensive concessions on the cognitive battlefield.

In the world of victimization discourse so prevalent on campuses today, for example, triumphalist Muslims have learned that, when attacking the West, they can lead with their glass chin: How dare you offend us so? They can, thereby, maneuver a conflict-averse Western culture into conceding and placating them. The widespread consensus that one should not hurt the feelings of “marginalized and underrepresented minorities,” has been an enormous boon to triumphalist Muslims.

As a result, there’s a significant and troubling overlap between Western sensitivity to minority feelings, and Muslim triumphalist attitudes toward infidels. When our intellectuals distance themselves from Charlie Hebdo, insisting on the importance of not offending Muslims, or our publishers reject things Muslims will find provocative, they insist that this is a show respect and consideration. But while westerners think they’re being generous, triumphalist Muslims see them complying with their demands, behaving as proleptic dhimmi, who submit without even being conquered.

And when Westerners committed to these displays of “respect,” attack as “Islamophobes” fellow infidels who do criticize Muslims as “Islamophobes,” they are, from the perspective of the triumphalist Muslim, behaving like dhimmi leaders have always behaved: silence any dissent within the ranks before it goes public and brings retaliation to the whole community. In modern parlance: stigmatize critical discourse about Muslims as “essentialist … racist … xenophobic … Islamophobic.” This unspoken dimension of the problem explains the stridency with which Western liberals assault critics of Islam: They are afraid to insult triumphalist Muslims and view those who do, as the problem. Thus when women dress provocatively, or Jews wear kippas, they provoke triumphalist Muslim violence.

By failing to ask for even minimal reciprocity, we have systematically diminished our own democratic public sphere, where we now see a wave of tragi-comic mobilizations of this culture of offense that have strange and (should be) unwelcome echoes of both brown shirts and Maoist “struggle sessions.” These represent the epitome of what a modern, free and tolerant society cannot abide, and they offer triumphalist Muslims an ideal opportunity to demand submission to their insistence that their sensibilities not be offended. Until we understand the magnitude of triumphalism’s deep atavistic wells of desire, the libido dominandi from which it draws its strength on the one hand, and the magnitude of the accomplishment that democratic polities have achieved in pruning it back on the other, we cannot begin to deal with the challenge we face.

And yet, by confronting it, we might begin to figure out what to do. Among other things, an appreciation of the power of raw, pre-modern triumphalism in Islam allows us to grasp how small the differences that separate the “right” from the “left” in Western democracies. The split between progressive and conservative that looms so large in the current public sphere, becomes nearly indistinguishable when mapped on terrain that includes open triumphalist religiosity. Only when “left” and “right” leave off our narcissism of small differences, and start to act in coordination in the defense of our common values, can we begin to defend democracy and freedom. Only then can we begin to shape substantive citizens capable of tolerance, of granting others the dignity we wish to receive, but also capable, in return, of demanding basic reciprocity, which begins with the struggle against triumphalism. Only that way, can one imagine a relatively peaceful and tolerant 21st century."

For the full article with historical introduction and context see: