Monday, August 27, 2007


Theodore Dalrymple writes in National Review about complacency and Islamism, and this paragraph caught my eye:
"The problem for the complacent, however, is that not only have a small number of Moslem fanatics already blown themselves up, unlike the Chinese, Jews, Poles, and Hindus, but they seem to have received widespread understanding, to say no more, from their coreligionists. It is no consolation to the worried that 90 percent, 95 percent, or even 99 percent of Moslems do not support terrorism. In Britain, that still leaves 200,000, 100,000, or 20,000 who do support terrorism, if only intellectually. There may be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over 99 just men, but in the security services and the population at large there is more concern over 20,000 supporters of terrorism than over 1,980,000 peaceful men. This is not wholly irrational."

Anyone who by now has not realized that Islam has given carte blanche to the fanatics in its midst is either completely out of touch with reality, or living on another planet

Muslims in Europe claim they are justified in rejecting Western society for a variety of reasons:
(1) oppression;
(2) poverty;
(3) the Iraq War; and/or
(4) the institutionally "racist" culture of the West, which "forces" Muslims to accept the values of the countries they choose to imigrate to. Interestingly, Muslims seem to expect that those countries should be forced to abandon their own traditions and adopt Muslim values.

Lately, of course, we have been witness to numerous charges of "islamophobia", thrown out by orgainzations such as CAIR quite regularly as the "victimhood" card is played even for avowed religious fanatics who act in Islam's name.

Actually, I think I have a healthy, rational fear of a religion which has millions of adherents aggressively seeking my submission or death.

For most of my life, it seemed reasonable to ignore Islam, and I liked it that way.

If I had thought about Islam at all (and I didn't) it is likely that I would have been completely turned off to it; as opposed to being indifferent to it. Once, while I might suffer mild disgust when stories of the extremism of some of its believers would make headlines; frankly, I never understood enough about the religion to place the responsibility for such behavior onto the teachings of its priests or leaders.

After 9/11 and becoming aware of organizations like Al Qaeda; ideologies like Wahhabism and its spread; and suddenly recognizing the Palestinian issue for the red herring it was, I could no longer permit myself to be ignorant of the core "Muslim values" they exemplified.

In an ideal world, I shouldn't even have to say it, but Islam has forced me to explicitly and loudly state that I absolutely, thoroughly and unequivocally reject Islam as it is currently practiced. What follows is not an exhaustive list, but let me touch on some of the highlights that form the basis of my rejection:

1. If we are going to talk about oppression, shall I begin with the ubiquitous institutionalized oppression and humiliation of women in Muslim society? Detractors claim that the Quran does not foster this attitude, but witness the devaluation of women; the sexual fear of women; the incarceration of women; the infantilization of women; the social marginalization of women, etc. etc.

2. The overt and institutionalized anti-semitism in Islam, that is frankly paranoid and of psychotic proportions.

3. The assumption of the victim role while actively victimizing other religious groups. This is the entire psychological manipulation involved in the cries of "Islamophobia !"

4. The hypocritical call for tolerance, while promoting intolerance and bigotry among its own adherents.

5. The glorification of death rather than life.

6. The fostering of mindless obedience and punishment of independent thinking.

7. The poverty of ideas and rational thought among its leaders.

8. The inability to condemn unequivocally the barbaric acts done in the name of Islam.

9. The fact that Islamists would force their religion on me, if they could.

As I said, the list is not exhaustive. There are many more reasons why I have come to my intense rejection of this particular religion. As stated in a previous post::

I DON'T CARE ABOUT ISLAM except insofar that people of that faith want to destroy me, my family, my country and my way of life. For more than 50 years of my life, Islam and I got along famously. I completely ignored it; and praise be to Allah, it completely ignored me.

After September 11th, I could continue to live in a state of denial and ignorance about the fact that Islam had come to represent values that are incompatible with human life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Or, I could face reality and recognize Islam as a serious threat to all I hold dear and value in the world.

No; a rational, healthy fear of Islam and its aggressive desire to subjugate the entire human race under the yoke of its god by any and all means (including using freedom and democracy to facilitate its totalitarian policital agenda) is perfectly appropriate and continually justified by the fanatical behavior of millions of Muslims everywhere on the planet.

This is not Islamophobia; this is common sense.

Hannah Arendt once said, " Fear is an emotion indispensable for survival." So, let's review the rational role of emotions like fear; which, as Dalrymple suggests is "not wholly irrational" at all.

These days, "fear" is often used as if it were a dirty word; when in fact, fear is a perfectly normal emotion that we are (thankfully) hardwired to experience. One notable aspect of fear, as opposed to terror, is that the fear mobilizes the person experiencing it (physiologically to fight or run away from that which is threatening), while terror immobilizes.

In other posts, I have explained how destructive it is to rely solely on one's emotions as a strategy for living one's life. But is equally irrational to completely ignore feelings and pretend that you don't feel what you do.

In other words, fear may be an extremely rational response to a dangerous situation that threatens the survival of the individual.

Emotion can be an important source of information about reality; or at least, an important source of information about one's internal reality --which sometimes has to be understood, challenged and compared with the external world to ascertain whether what is being felt is a valid guide for action.

Animals do not have an intervening rational process between emotion and action. When they feel fear, they react.

Humans, when necessary--i.e., when in imminent danger--will react the same way as animals because we share a similar physiology. But humans are (hopefully) able to understand and appreciate fear in a way that other species cannot: we possess a rational faculty that when used correctly can expand and refine (or consider and discard when appropriate) the information emotions give us about potential threats. Thus, humans are able to deliberately plan and anticipate for future threats--a flexibility not available to most animal species, except where it is already programmed.

But in order to do that, we must still be able to experience fear and listen carefully to what our fear is telling us about reality.

The person without fear tends to achieve death far more quickly than a person who understands what he is feeling; why he is feeling it; and acts on the feeling, when appropriate and necessary.

Now, it is true that fear may indeed drive out reason. But that occurs when fear replaces reason, instead of augmenting or enhancing it. The normal course of events--for humans anyway-- is that a person experiences the fear and then determines (sometime very very quickly) what the best response to the emotion is. Again, thankfully, through a series of reflexes, we are programmed to jump out of the way of attacking rhinos without much reason or intervening thought.

The less imminently threatening scenarios where fear is likely to "drive out" reason is exactly when our psychological defenses distort an unpleasant reality and make us inclined to pretend that something dangerous isn't really so. In other words, when fear goes underground and is covered up, the blissfully ignorant are merely waiting patiently for the slow-moving rhino to strike.

One common response to to Islamic fanatacism and terror activity is to completely ignore or discount the fear that it can generate in any reasonable person, and pretend that it is perfectly normal and understandable--even appropropriate and reasonable!-- for Islam to demand our submission and constant sensitivity to their beliefs , without any corresponding sensitivity on their part to anyone else's beliefs.

That response is called psychological denial in my business; and the sheer number of strategies our psyches can use to deny reality is amazing.

Two of the healthiest psychological responses used to cope with fear include anticipation and humor (see this link again, and then think about the Danish cartoon fiasco).

We all feel the emotion of fear. And it is good that we do so. Fear and all our other emotions are the software "shortcuts" that encourage our mind and body to act. An emotionally mature individual tries to understand his or her fear--i.e., he or she uses the rational faculty and reason-- because in doing so, one may determine the appropriate course of action for countering a perceived threat to youself or your loved ones.

Pretending that you aren't afraid; displacing or minimizing your fear; ignoring the slow-moving rhino heading in your direction or other dangerous realities; are hardly effective strategies to deal with the many threatening things in the world today.

In an earlier post, I discussed the defense mechanism of denial:
Denial can be thought of as a complex psychological process where there may be some conscious knowledge or awareness of events in the world, but somehow one fails to feel their emotional impact or see their logical consequences.

Denial is an attempt to reject unacceptable feelings, needs, thoughts, wishes--or even a painful external reality that alters the perception of ourselves. This psychological defense mechanism protects us temporarily from:

-Knowledge (things we don’t want to know)
-Insight or awareness that threatens our self-esteem; or our mental or physical health; or our security (things we don't want to think about)
-Unacceptable feelings (things we don’t want to feel)

Think of it this way. Every one of us has at one point or another in our lives had to face an unpleasant reality or painful truth and at the very least probably desperately wished it would go away.

This is psychotic denial; completely out of touch with reality. A similar defense mechanism of dissociation -- or, neurotic denial as it is sometimes called-- allows us to replace painful ideas and affects with more pleasant ones that are not disturbing. (e.g., "Oh, isn't it nice that those people are chanting Allah Ackbar in the cabin of my flight?" or Ahmadinejad is a reasonable person. Surely he does not want to destroy Israel!")

With this defense, our consciousness is dissociated from our self. This defense is notable because it is one of the only psychological defenses that can be voluntarily and consciously deployed.

There are many ways to alter our consciousness and to separate it from reality--through drugs, alcohol, meditation, self-hypnosis, lying to ourselves; acting etc. etc. We can pretend to be happy, when we are not. We can pretend to not be afraid, when we really are. The opportunities are endless.

So are the potential destructive consequences.

Both psychotic and neurotic denial are methods of eliminating unwanted feelings, thoughts or knowledge. It is remarkably sane and rational to be afraid of the many insane and irrational Islamic psychopaths who are out there and who are planning to indiscriminantly kill as many Americans as possible. Being afraid of them is the first step. Rationally deciding how to productively manage that fear is the second.

Let me be clear. If you pretend that the many and daily Islamofascist threats both here and around the world up to and including Iran's goals of obtaining nuclear weapons and of wiping the US and Israel off the map--are nothing to be afraid of and have nothing to do with Islam, then it is doubtful that you will be able to take evasive action from that charging rhino--no matter how slowly it narrows the gap between you and its horns.

The proper role of emotion is to be an "early warning system" that alerts us that something good or something bad is on the way. We ignore our feelings at our peril; and alternately, if we rely only on them as a method of determining reality, we are equally screwed.

But, when emotions are used in concert with reason, we are able to optimally deal with the real world.

Contrary to what CAIR repeatedly suggests as it tries to brand all such incidents as "Islamophobic", the emotion of fear is not synonymous with prejudice or stereotyping; nor does "succumbing" to it necessarily involve irrational, histrionic, or some sort of overreaction to reality. Rather, fear is always an essential emotion that must be appropriately listened to by a rational mind because it is absolutely necessary for survival.

Only the very foolish and the very dead do not experience fear.

No comments: