“The end of the matter, everything having been said, is…”

…that there’s always something more to be said.

Particularly in a matter with a very long, very complex history.

And I got an email this morning from an old and very valued friend of the blog, gently taking me to task for something important I left out of yesterday’s diatribe. In my defense, I was only addressing the very narrow issue of whether it makes sense to fear Islamic influence in this country, and whether “giving offense” is synonymous with “inciting violence.”

But he is quite right to remind me of two things: first, the things we’re told about what’s going on in Islam aren’t necessarily true. That shouldn’t ever go without saying, but often does. Second, there are a great many reasons why Arabs in general and Muslims in particular have no particularly compelling incentive to love westerners – particularly Americans.

With permission, the whole message is below the fold.


I thought about it overnight before writing this. I was struck by your essay “And now a word from the other side.” If I may brutally summarize it, “Failure to ‘understand your sensitivity’ is not a provocation to violence.”

No argument there. However, I think the particular situation(s) you refer to, regarding Muslims expressing hostility to the US, has a bit of context and history that are all too often ignored.

I for one don’t buy the story that a 5th-rate film with CIA fingerprints all around it has set the Muslim world alive with US hatred. I doubt that you do, if you stop to think about it.

The US government and its various puppets has been installing and supporting murderous thugs in Muslim countries for 60 years.

I have walked in the ruins of mud huts bombed into rubble by jet fighters. There were RAF pilots at the controls, but the people who ultimately caused those pilots to be dispatched were Americans interested in oil. The people in the mud huts objected to being forced from their 3,500 year-old homes, lands, pastures, and public structures because some American oil company found them inconvenient.

These people stood up for their property, their livelihoods, their wives, and their children. They died, never seeing the faces of their killers. They had rifles, and they knew how to use them, and had used them to ventilate a few targets who desperately deserved it. Hence the escalation to jet fighters.

In other words, they did nothing that you or I wouldn’t do. Like us, they didn’t seek trouble, trouble found them.

The people who walked me through these ruins were the relatives and direct descendents of those who were murdered. Those of us who don’t live in tribal societies have a hard time appreciating the depth and breadth of the bonds. I met with perhaps a dozen people. Every one of them, without exception, had close ties to many dead. Some of the people I met were grandchildren of the dead. Many were cousins of various degrees. Others were related by marriage. A few had generations-long business associations.

An aside, just to give a tiny glimpse of the magnitude of the carnage and its repercussions. A few of the people who ever so gently explained to this ignorant gringo what I was looking at, were tiny, literally 4 feet tall. Their tribe maintains the fulaj. These are an amazing system of underground aqueducts constructed in the time of King Solomon. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falaj The tunnels are small, and big people can’t do the work. Breed for 3,000 years and you get very tiny people.

The tiny ones talked to me about the precision of the bombs dropped on their workplace and their only means of earning a living. They had a grudging admiration for the skill of people who could hit a target from thousands of feet in the air, a target conveniently marked with stone cairns marking access shafts every few hundred yards. But they also talked wistfully of the people killed inside the tunnels, and the slow, agonizing deaths of the wives, children, camels, and thousand-year-old date groves killed by the ensuing loss of all water. Many told amazing tales of courage and hardship as they attempted to relocate families and entire villages across a landscape that makes the moon look friendly.

Warriors on camels can learn to cross these wastelands, most of the time, with careful planning and lifetime of training. Women and children don’t fare so well.

These people were incredibly nice to me. They were poorer than you. They took me into their tents, offered me camel’s milk still warm from the animal, dates from their ancestral groves, cheese from their goats. They knew I was American. They didn’t seek to rebuke me. They didn’t try to shame me. They realized I had no part in what had happened, and that I knew nothing about them and their history. They just told me the plain story of the pitiful ruins I had come to visit.

It burned, Joel. It burned deep.

The US government gives billions of dollars worth of weapons to both sides of a conflict that has raged for thousands of years. They’ve murdered 400 Muslims for each North American killed in the 9/11 attacks, including 500,000 children, but still the bloodlust is not sated.

For every American killed in the 9/11 attacks, over 1,000 Muslims have been maimed, driven from their homes, and/or driven from their land, their jobs, and their families. The infrastructure of a modern secular society was systematically destroyed, creating a vacuum that was all too easily filled by people skilled in exploiting and harnessing the powers of hatred and righteous anger.

The notion that a crude put-up job like the video could cause violence while decades of murder, rape, and mayhem would not is beyond stupid, beyond pathetic. It is evil. It reflects acceptance of “them” as sub-human, incapable of responding as any and every one of us would respond in similar circumstances. It is the mindset of a slave owner.

When democracies succeed in de-humanizing their enemies, ghastly atrocities always follow. Every time. I will not countenance this evil mindset any longer, and I am rapidly approaching the stage where I will refuse to associate with anyone who indulges in this animalistic barbarism.

With all that as prelude, I’d invite you to consider the possibility that Muslim “sensitivity” to insults may have more to do with dead kin and raped women than with defiling a holy book or criticizing a religion. Consider carefully how you know what you know: Who told you that those Arabic words coming from those angry people said “We hate you for insulting the prophet?” How do you know they weren’t chanting “Revenge to those who have killed our wives and daughters?”

And even if you learn, after a great deal of effort, that a Muslim who was able to control his rage and shame after seeing loved ones killed and maimed for a few decades, a man who was attempting to go about his business, that this man finally lost his temper when confronted with a new form of torment and calculated insult, even if that should be what actually happened: Would you cut him a little bit of slack?

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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7 Responses to “The end of the matter, everything having been said, is…”

  1. kdzu says:

    Whoever this person is…….they make a good argument.
    It took a long time for this old warrior to accept the evilness of our government, despite having seen plenty of evidence in RSVN, and raging about it for many years. Are the Islamists blameless? No! But neither are we!

  2. Matt says:

    Thanks for sharing your friends view point. I believe it is a very valid argument. Other than mayhem for the sake of it, which I don’t totally discount, I am still working on what the real reason for the misadventure in the mideast is. I often wonder of the whole region would of been better still under the Ottoman Empire.

  3. Tony says:

    That was a very well written and emotionally appealing argument. It also fails to compute. Okay, so the U.S. is teh ebil. But when a newspaper in Denmark prints a picture of Mohammed, the reaction is… Another violent rampage. Did the Danes also oppress the innocent muslims with their worldwide military machine? Salman Rushdie wrote a book, and an order was given to kill him. I kind of doubt most authors can afford even a single combat aircraft…

    The muslim reaction to ANY perceived slight, criticism of their religion, or anything else they don’t like is always the same, regardless of whether the person seen as having insulted them is an American film director or a little girl from India. You can’t explain all that away with “blame Aaaameeericaaa!”

  4. just waiting says:

    I apologize, but there might be one more thing that needs to be said. I wish I was eloquent enough to express my thoughts more clearly, but unfortunately, I’m not, so I’m just gonna wing it.

    I agree with everything both you and your friend have written Joel, and don’t mean to argue your points. However, I’ve always thought that expression specifically intended to inflict injury or insult is not artistic or humorous, its just plain bullying. And when someone gets bullyed too hard we’ve all seen and read the news about what can and has happened.

    So what do we do? We either stop the bullying or await the consequence.

    And since we’ve been forwarned of what the consequence might be…

    Back when I was a kid, a friend had a big dog that had bitten people in uniform (3 bad cops (good dog) and 1 mailman), people in hats, people with red hair, and people who tried to nuzzle it nose to nose looking to be licked. One night a bunch of us were sitting around, a new kid comes over. He sits and the dog walks up to him. He starts rubbing its head with both hands, and starts to lean in to nuzzle with it. 3 of us yell “DON”T DO THAT, you’ll get bit”. He lifts his head and says “no I won’t dogs love me” and starts to bend again. Again we scream “NO”. He looks up, continues to bend, NO we cried again and snap, the left side of his upper lip was gone. Just like that.
    Fast forward 1 year, the lawsuit comes to trial. A bunch of surgeries have done little to repair the aethetic damage. There was still a speech impediment. His lawyer makes his very sympathetic case. Then the defense starts. First John, then Dave, then Jim all tell the judge that he was warned that if he put his face down the dog would bite him. 6 others in the court were also going to relate the same truth, he was warned and did it anyway.
    The judge didn’t even have to leave the bench. His words were something along the lines of “The law does not permit me to award you for stupidity. If 3 people scream at ME 3 times that a dog will bite me if I do something, well son, I’m damn sure NOT going to do it.”

    I can’t help but think this is somehow the same.

  5. Joel says:

    Welcome to the tragedy of the blood feud, where after a while it doesn’t matter who does what to whom. All that matters is that it gets done, generation after generation. Arabs are good at it. So are Irish, some Hindus, some eastern Europeans, and I don’t know who else. They’ve had lots of practice.

    I don’t have any answers. The only thing I can control is myself, and I choose not to be a part of it. If the American government wants to keep constantly inserting itself into these things, keeping them stirred up, I can’t stop it. If some Americans want to egg it on in the name of “exceptionalism” or something, I can’t stop that, either.

    People in the government thought they could be the policemen of the world. We see clearly, now, where that’s leading. Lots of graves, more to come, and no peace at all. Some say the problem is all those “others” who cry “Blame America.” Somehow they think if they only drop enough bombs and missiles, make enough rubble jump, it’ll all be okay in the end. History doesn’t support them, but they’re blind to history.

    In the end the only winner is the feud.

  6. Tony, respectfully (seriously):

    I think the reason it “fails to compute” is that you misunderstand the point. What if “The muslim reaction” is itself a complete fabrication by the very same people that bring us the ridiculous response to it?

    All protection rackets operate in exactly, precisely the same way: they need you to fear so that you will clamor for their “help”, and if you are not sufficiently fearful, the requisite amount of fear will be manufactured to fill the void. The most obvious recent example might be the Gunwalker atrocity, but I sure know that the more I learn, the more it seems that nearly everything I am supposed to fear–most certainly including “Islam”–has been at least artificially enhanced* by the very people who want me to buy into their self-serving solution.

    How many times had I quite reasonably thought “well shit, they seem to have found the most illiterate gun owner in the world, after a rigorous six-week search, and who turns out to be a CI for the Feds on the side, to represent ‘gun owners’ for this TV segment”? Or, how about “just remember, the documents the government leaked in this case, as damning as they are, represent what they want me to see…just what is it that they’re not leaking, that they want me focused on this instead?” More simply, how many times had I noted that traditional media is little more than an Establishment puppet which can be trusted only slightly more than Pravda?

    Well. So, too, “The muslim reaction” may be a whole lot more than accurately representative of a billion people.

    Certainly there are some noisy people around the world, whooping it up with various team colors and doing some nasty things. I don’t think anyone denies this. But…since there is a world-wide profession of people (not just ‘murica, but certainly not excluding ‘murica either) who are incented to exploit both sides of such sound and fury for their own gain, it would seem more prudent than usual to be a bit harsh on the question of “that man behind the curtain”.

    At home, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the more telegenic the “domestic terrorism” threat makes on TV, the more likely it is that the instigators are on the public payroll somewhere, leading to quite reasonable questions about both the mechanics and the payoffs for manufacturing enemies. Why should we expect it to be any different “over there”, where most of us know even less detail and could even more easily be misdirected?

    I spent way too much of my own life misunderstanding the point, but ultimately I had to admit that if my betters were willing to lie to me about one thing, then they were willing to lie to me about everything. Including “look, you can see it with your own eyes, so you have to believe me” video.

    I think Joel’s friend point is very nearly the point entire. (I suspect that’s why Joel treated it the way he did, too.)

  7. Incidentally, that topic reminds me of the Iain Pears novel An Instance of the Fingerpost. I found it a staggering treatment of perspective, and I’m not sure if it’s possible to better the imagery of how government and power really works. Joel, if you’re not familiar with that book, I think it would be worth your time. 🙂

To the stake with the heretic!