Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 9, No. 4, 2010
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Robert J. Lewis
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Leon Wieseltier
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward





It is beyond our power to choose
what we stand in need of.

-- A Muslim is a believer in or adherent of Islam.
-- Islam is the monotheistic Abrahamic religion articulated by the Koran
-- An Islamist espouses orthodox Islamic beliefs.
-- The Arab league defines an Arab as a person "whose language is Arabic, who lives in an Arabic speaking country, who is in sympathy with the aspirations of the Arabic speaking peoples."


Only days prior to his rendezvous with 72 virgins in Islamic heaven, Mohamed Atta, before piloting his plane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, was reported to be seen drinking and gambling. Some of the other hijackers spent their last hours on earth in strip clubs paying for lap dances; others sought solace in the arms of sex workers. And while much ink has been spilled analyzing the political underpinnings and psychological profiles of the hijackers, very little attention has been paid to their whol(r)esale embrace of Western decadence just prior to takeoff. Could it be that what they did and why they did it in the hours leading up to their suicide mission are of more significance than the death and destruction they wrought?

What are we to read into their decision not to pass their final hours in the mosque of their choice and receive blessings from the Prophet, but to spend them in the (naked) bosom of the culture they would attempt to bring down in the following days?

Letting the facts on the ground -- that is from the boudoir -- speak for themselves, they were observably not concerned that their earthly desires and subsequent fulfillment would compromise their good standing with the Almighty. More likely, they had long since ceased believing in Him in the name of Whom thousands were brutally murdered. To state the obvious, the hijackers were manifestly inner conflicted, just as the transference of their humungous self-loathing onto the West is the necessary red herring that unites the brotherhood of jihadists and terrorists everywhere in the world.

For Westerners endeavouring in good faith to understand the meaning and implications of what Samuel Huntington has termed “the clash of civilizations,” the lifestyle choices of the hijackers before bringing down the Twin Towers offer a telling example of Islam’s growing inability to hold sway over its flock, and the growing incommensurability of Western and Islamic values. Which reveals jihad and its terrorist operations as desperate, last-ditch efforts to hold on to a way of life that is being undermined by Western (global) culture. Islam, as an all-embracing ethos conceived to provide for the spiritual, psychological and moral well-being of a people, is on its way out because, in the words of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, from Nomad, “Islam is built on sexual inequality and on the surrender of individual responsibility and choice. This is not just ugly; it is monstrous.” She argues convincingly that millions of Muslims, despite their reluctance to enter their apostate views into the public domain for fear of reprisal, have already signed on to that declaration.

Before the entire world, the hijackers laid bare their radical estrangement from Islam as well as their twisted, schizophrenic mindsets. Where actions speak louder than words and prayers left unsaid, the Koran was no match against the consolations of the flesh: Islam’s heavenly heights could not compete with the high guaranteed by the triple Scotch. Well aware of the publicity and scrutiny their lives would generate following their voluntary demise, they couldn’t be bothered to wait even a day or two for the promise of 72 heavenly houris because the promise was a lie that had been drained of purchase. Prior to and a condition of their hatred of the West was manifest self-hatred. The big lie they foisted on themselves was to hold the West culpable for their pathologically alienated selves when in fact their religion and culture -- de facto prisons -- kept them locked out and strangers to their nature which, incidentally, flowered upon contact with the West. What sustains and propagates the big lie is that the terrorist believes defeat of the West will resolve his inner conflict when in point of fact there are only two practical solutions: to recognize and embrace the baseball-capped person he sees when he looks into the mirror -- or Paradise Now.

Small wonder Islam designates the West as The Great Satan, the great temptation. Islam’s spiritual leaders are rightfully concerned that once exposed to the virus of Western values the good Muslim can never be as good as he once was. For sure, the hijackers succeeded in bringing down the Twin Towers in spectacular fashion, but the West had already won the day just as the West is winning the great clash. Like all the major religions before it, Islam is an idea whose best days are long gone. The age of secularism, whose reach is global, is upon us and the new god in the starless, byte-bright sky is the Internet whose infatuated faithful are legion.

Never has the relationship between Islam and the West been so asymmetrical. And so much so the West can’t even be bothered to introduce an equivalent demonizing moniker for Islam (how about The Great Cous Cous) because there is nothing in the latter’s ethos that tempts or appeals to the Western mind. If it weren’t for their oil, the West wouldn’t give the Arab world and Islam the time of day – and they know it. And even though it dare not be thought, much less whispered, the West regards much of the Muslim-Islamic way of life (its systematic debasement of women, its barbaric judicial system) as infra dig (beneath one’s dignity). Hirsi Ali writes: “My Muhammad says my husband can beat me and that I am worth half as much as a man. Is it I who am being disrespectful to Muhammad in criticizing his legacy, or is it he who is disrespectful to me?”

Which isn’t to say that when we allow ourselves to think outside the box we can’t sympathize with the Muslim father who shudders when his ten-year-old daughter announces she wants to go shopping for a g-string, or he learns that his 12-year-old son has witnessed every kind of sexual act imaginable on a computer screen and there’s a 70% chance that his children will experiment with drugs before they turn 15.

As to our sexual mores, manner of dress, religious conduct and Western law versus Sharia, the divide (breach) between the West and Islam is gaping – and there is no middle ground, just as there is no such thing as moderate Islam -- or moderate any religion for that matter. When it comes to the Gods and Their commandments, you either believe or you don’t, that is you either comport yourself as if there will be theological consequences to your actions or there won't. And if you don’t believe, you’re a heathen, and Islam rightfully regards the West as a haven for heathens, and that includes lapsed Muslims who wear that secular badge with pride and without prejudice. The moderate Muslim or Islamicist is a fiction the West has invented in order to conceal its hidden agenda: to have Islam turn upon itself, to cajole the apostate (presumed moderate) Muslim to undertake the West’s bidding. We’re now seeing that long-term objective begin to bear fruit as more and more westernized Muslims, especially women, are speaking out against Islam. The Western Front is comprised of millions of Muslims who have been told they are moderate when in fact they have already been co-opted by the West but are in denial for as long as it takes them to resolve their inner conflictedness, at which point they come to recognize that their shame and rage against what is ‘tyrannical’ in Islam is authentic, and that they are uniquely qualified to speak comparatively and confidently of new found values they deem more commensurate with their own

Take away his language and what remains of the Arab or Muslim who has made his love of basketball, gambling, late night cable TV, mini-skirted women, wine with his meal and pre-marital sex his permanent abode, for whom the Koran is just another book on a reading list, and prayer, even once a day, a downright noose-ance? There will come a day when Islam will be defined by its political objectives and grievances and there will be no clash of civilizations (culture). There will come a day when Muslims will eat, dress, think and get mad at their computers like everyone else. In this godless future, enmity will be based on the usual suspects: economic disparity, race, colour and geo-politics.

For much of its history and prior to the world-transforming revolution in communications, Islam was geographically vaccinated against the ways of the West. But with the introduction of the Internet all of that has changed – forever. Mere exposure to the West is all that is required to collapse Islam’s once indomitable pillars of faith. Nowadays, we hear much of stealth jihad, a term introduced by Robert Spencer in his book of the same title. It outlines Islam’s not so secret agenda to overthrow the West and establish an imperial world state.

What we don’t hear about is Western jihad, the West’s purposeful strategy to overwhelm Islam with its culture. Not only is Western jihad more insidious than any Islamic stealth equivalent, it is working so well the response to it, of necessity, has been radical and fraught with violence. But even the terrorist, who in good faith has volunteered to fight for the honour and integrity of his culture and religion, knows that once exposed to the ways of the West there’s no going back home. The West has to merely enter a single aspect of its culture (its freedoms, gender equality, music, decadence) into the Islamic sphere and the good Muslim becomes instantly vexed, exercised, even tormented – and, alas, in some instances, radicalized. In especially large urban centers, from Tehran to Sanaa to Mecca, there are democratic reform movements which have necessitated desperate, totalitarian responses. But if history is a reliable indicator, those measures, however brutal, will fail since it is a law of human nature that we would all rather be free (no matter what the consequences) than not.

Any system or ideology that undertakes to regulate human behaviour but ill considers human nature in its calculus does so at its own peril. Communism, flouting the DNA-writ territorial imperative, collapsed because it short shrifted man's basic makeup. Islam, steadfast in its refusal to lend an ear to the cry of freedom, has similarly prepared the ground for its own demise, the fact of which does not excuse the West for what until now has been a meek and propitiatory response compared to its relentless and methodical denunciation of communism that was ganged up on until its walls came tumbling down in 1991. Are the protocols of political correctness such that we are afraid to offend even as our hard-earned values wither thin in compromise? Hirsi Ali writes: “The thin fingers of self-censorship begin to tighten around individual minds, then groups of people, then around ideas themselves and their expression. When free speech crumbles in this way, when Westerners refrain from criticizing or questioning certain aspects of Islam, they abandon those Muslims who seek to question them too. They also abandon their own values.”

Since the effects of terrorism and suicide bombings cannot begin to compete with the Internet as a hegemonic tool, the spectre of the development and launching of a terrorist nuclear attack is debatably the most pressing matter of our times and human history. And even though the writing is on every screen, we’re not staying on the page. Islam is imploding from within. Radical Islam recognizes that the conventional terrorism it sponsors will not bring about a new world order, which makes the apocalyptic solution -- if I’m going to go I’m going to take everyone with me -- an option the West must begin to take more seriously. Is Iran’s nuclear program an on-going development that should be allowed to be brought to completion?

What we learn from the 9/11 hijackers is that once exposed to freedom there is no turning back and that the real infidel is the Muslim who cannot refuse Western values, which makes the great "clash of civilizations" an inner conflict that has been outed and unleashed on the world.

I have no doubt that in the not too distant future we will all be living in a secular, homogenized world, sharing alike in a culture whose salient features will be shaped by communications technology. If you are among those for whom pluralism is the most effective response to that future scenario, for whom ideas are only as good as the competition, you may very well find yourselves looking back with nostalgia to the golden age of ‘the great clash’ -- and the ferment, fervour and commitments that characterized that exciting period.

Here’s looking at you, Abdul.

also by Robert J. Lewis:
Death Wish 7 Billion
My Gypsy Wife Tonight
On the Origins of Love & Hate
Divine Right and the Unrevolted Masses
Cycle Hype or Genotype
The Genocide Gene




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