Friday, November 19, 2004

Nothing new under the sun

As the WWII generation ages, fewer and fewer people know just how alarmed to be after reading a piece such as Joseph D'Hippolito's Comparing the Rhetoric of Jihadism and Nazism.

D'Hippolito extensively uses quotations from Muslim leaders, some presented at and even published by universities on our own left coast.

Here is his lede:

In the twentieth century, genocidal, imperialist totalitarians wore swastika armbands, herded members of supposedly inferior races into concentration camps and shouted, "Heil Hitler!" In the twenty-first century, they wear black coveralls and hoods, decapitate civilian contractors, shoot children in the back, plow hijacked airplanes into buildings and shout, "Allahu Akbar!"

Jihadism is this century's equivalent of Nazism in more than just barbarity. The Osama bin Ladens and Abu Musab al-Zarqawis are the violent face of a coherent, ruthless ideology that imitates the Nazi method of winning popular support. Jihadists—whether terrorists, imams or intellectuals—exploit collective frustration by converting it into a pervasive sense of victimization, then offer the solution: embrace an inherent superiority, seize entitled power and destroy all opponents.

The "collective frustration" he mentions is key for westerners to try to understand. Arabic culture is so far removed from our own that it may be impossible for us to fully grasp, and realizing that fact is vitally necessary for us as we try to defeat the threat of militant Islam.

What we are undertaking here in Iraq and in Afghanistan is attacking the root of the problem. Oppressive regimes, no matter their leaders or official policies, create collective frustration. That frustration grows into desperation, because humans need to have hope in something.

Militant Islam is not attractive to Americans (even American Muslims) because (quite simply) we have better things to do with our lives.

Not the case with a 20 something year-old Iraqi man under Saddam's rule. Even though Saddam was not a militant (I believe he was completely self-absorbed - no need for religion) what other choices did the young men not privileged enough to get a state job have under him? Not many.

Joining the jihad gave him brotherhood, superiority (at least over women), and hope for some eternal reward, plus, what was he really missing out on by blowing himself up? Another 40 years of trying to stay on Saddam's good side with little hope of bettering himself or his family? No thanks - I'll take the 72 virgins.

Stopping militant Islam before it picks up any more steam in the Middle East, or even reaches the oppressed masses of North Korea and China is essential. We need to fight this war right now, and by the way, as Victor Davis Hanson said, it isn't a war on terrorism. That's like calling WWII the war on panzer tanks. We don't declare war on a method, we declare a war on a group of people.

It's the war on islamofacism.