Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Almost a year ago, when Charlie Hebdo happened, I nearly went ballistic. I very nearly lashed out, calling out all Muslims as evil for simply being Muslim. It didn't matter how peaceful or moderate a Muslim might be, I nearly said, because the beliefs themselves provide fodder for extremism, which they - the peaceful of Islam - then don't bother doing anything substantive to stop. If you're peaceful and loving, and happen to be a Muslim, you have but one choice, as I argued then. LEAVE! Because only the abandonment of Islam will make terrorism stop! Only empty houses of worship make religious leaders change!
Well, I was right about that last part, as far as it goes. Fortunately, I was talked off the ledge by some very kind and intelligent friends who reminded me of what it's like for a peace-loving Muslim who upholds Western democratic values. They get reviled, insulted, spat upon, ostracized, all because of something they had nothing to do with and openly condemn. That's not fair! That's not reasonable! And yes, it's part of why people who are treated that way get radicalized.
I understand that part of the natural reaction to an event such as 11/13 (we might as well give the Paris attack 9/11 and 7/7 status, right?) is for people to become extra xenophobic. They want to yell at people who wear the hijab or burqua. They tell Arab-looking people to "go home!" They shout profanities at men who unroll prayer rugs in the park. But I'm also aware that this is part of what the terrorists want. They want us to be Islamophobes! They want us to lash out.
Just as I nearly did almost a year ago. It radicalizes the moderates, and the cycle continues forever.
I suppose I can't blame people for lashing out. I'm a pretty anti-war guy, generally speaking, and back then I was tempted to say "outlaw the creed and burn every Mosque and minaret." Today, I, even I, am tempted again to say we should simply drop two or three nukes on Daesh (ISIS) held territory and win the war by making the entire area a radioactive wasteland. After all, it certainly seems odd that a nuclear power is getting pushed around by some Kalishnikov-waving imbeciles driving Toyota pickup trucks, doesn't it?
And yet - no. Islam really can be a religion of peace - if given the chance. It proved so back in the Christian Dark Ages when the ancient classics of Plato, Aristotle and Pythagoras were nearly lost. The Islamic culture, not yet radicalized like it is today with Wahabiism, was able to preserve those works of learning, paving the way for the Enlightenment and what we today call Western values of freedom and democracy. How ironic that same culture has now transformed into something which gave birth to a terrorist philosophy which is trying to destroy the very democracy Islamic culture once helped create! Today, Islam is not a religion of peace anymore. But it once was, and could be again. How? I'll get to that in a minute.
Muslims point out that condemning all Muslims for the acts of a few among them is like blaming all Germans for the rise of Adolf Hitler. Good point - almost. The only problem I have with that line of thinking is, I do blame all Germans for Hitler! At least, the Germans of that generation. And I don't merely say so as an American of German descent. I say so because it is an historical fact. The Nazi loyalists never did achieve a working majority among the German populace. They didn't need to. The remainder of Germans, those opposed to the Nazi regime, were simply too afraid to speak out. They were scared of reprisals to themselves, and more importantly, to their families. As the Nazi party flourished, they looked the other way for the sake of their own personal well being, and for prosperity. That was to their eternal discredit. They should have had the courage to speak up and derail the Nazi regime before it threatened to bring the world crashing down into fascism. They didn't. Nazis, and their leader, Hitler, came to prominence largely because the peaceful majority of Germans did almost nothing to stop them.
Just as peace-loving Muslims do now.
Oh, I get it. Speak out against Jihadism, and you put the risk of your wife and children being knifed down in the middle of Brussels in broad daylight. Yeah! Who wouldn't understand that kind of threat? But isn't that level of evil even more reason why we should find some way of standing up to it? Can't there be some solution that allows us to dig in our heels, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, and say with one voice, "Enough of this shit?!"
Up until now, the approach of peaceful Muslims has been to let the largely Christian military powers attempt the futile effort at exterminating the terrorists through the use of their military superiority. They feel that not speaking out against this is enough. Well, I doubt that. It hasn't worked so far. I mean, short of dropping several nukes between Syria and Iraq (and I still privately wonder why the hell we don't!) military might really isn't going to achieve much.
So what can we do? Shit, we have to do something!
And here's where my science-fiction writing ability comes to the forefront, because as a writer of tales, I can see strange strategies and plots where most don't. And what do I see?
I see a story - a grand tale about a secret spy organization whose sole purpose is to root out terrorism from within. Secretly funded by Muslims and Muslim-world governments, it finds the terrorist cells and then kills them before they strike. It is acting out on the realization that Islam's greatest P.R. challenge is terrorism, and that it cannot survive as a religion unless it is stopped. And so this organization goes forth, battling terrorism behind the lines, gaining intel that most spy organizations miss, killing the terror cells in their caves and their hovels, and keeping the world safe for religious freedom and democracy. Think of it as INTERPOL meets S.H.I.E.L.D. blended together with the Free Muslims Coalition and Muslims Against Terror. I intend to call this fictional super-spy organization the "M.P.K." for "Muslim Peacekeepers," and I think the story line would best be published as a graphic novel. I've never tried a graphic novel before, but I like the prospect of trying.
You see, Muslims could support something like this without fear of reprisal because it's a secret organization! Fuck, I'm a genius!
And here's my challenge to the peace-loving Muslims of the world: While I write about this organization in fiction, you should make it reality in fact - or at least enact something which makes a similar stand against terror. No, it doesn't have to be a super-spy organization with secret decoder rings and fancy exploding pens, but it does have to be making a stand - and a strong one. The way I see it, you have two choices if you want to live in Western democracies without hanging your head in shame. 1.) Fight terrorism with every fiber of your being, or 2.) leave Islam! Those are your only two choices. Because ever right-thinking Muslim prays the same prayer when some act of terror is first reported on the news. That prayer goes like this: "Oh, dear Allah, please let it not be a Muslim!" And I say that it's high time you did something about that prayer!
Hands that help are better than lips that pray, as Ingersoll once said. Ben Franklin once put it, "God helps those who help themselves." In other words, Allah says, "Answer your own damned prayer!"
Yes, conspiracy to commit terrorism should be punishable by the death penalty. France should probably bring back the guillotine and Germany should get over it's scruples regarding capital punishment. But otherwise, the only thing we can do is let Muslims stand against terrorism, or watch terrorism slowly destroy their religion forever. Why? Because Islam is radicalizing, and also growing somewhat, but it is also setting the stage for it's own destruction. Christianity did something similar before its current demise. It's coming, Muslims, unless you stop terrorism now.
People don't leave radical religions for any sort of outside threat. Believe me, I know, being a rare escapee from such, and knowing well the mentality. They only leave when their conscience is pricked, and that can only happen when we turn the other cheek, as Jesus is said to have recommended. It's not easy, but the best way to fight terrorism is to let the Muslims fight the physical fight, while we win the war of words, and defeat radical Islam (and Islam itself, I might add in my atheism-promoting moment) in the free marketplace of ideas.
In the meantime, go M.P.K.! I'm going to have so much fun writing this!