Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Friday, July 15, 2016

Power In Weakness

As Richard Mayhew notes, terror attacks are fundamentally attacks borne of weakness.  ISIS has no armored divisions massed on the Turkish border.  ISIS is not and never has been a fundamental threat.  The absolute horror of the Nice attacks derives from the chaotic unpredictability of it.  More Americans will commit suicide today than died in Nice. And the day after that.  And the day after that.  But suicides are personal and private (usually) and their audience is limited, if it exists at all.

Terrorism is grisly theater.  It is intended for public consumption.  And mostly, it is intended to create a reaction.  Sadly, Trump and the current GOP is making C+ Augustus look like B+ Augustus.  Dubya never equated 9/11 with Islam.  He made a conscious effort to divorce the acts of terrorism from the religion of the perpetrators.  Trump and his minions and fellow travelers are falling over themselves to initiate new bans on Muslims.  Gingrich latest emetic offering is to round up all Muslims and then ask them if they believe in Sharia law.  If they do, deport them.

Basically, Gingrich wants to recruit for ISIS.

If I am a radical or angry Muslim American, I simply lie about Sharia (permitted in Islamic tradition) and then shot up a shopping mall at Christmas.  Secondly, Sharia law isn't Islamism, and certainly not radical, Salafist Islamism.  Sharia is simply religious rules for daily life.  What constitutes Halal food?  Who gets what in a divorce?  Can I charge interest on a loan to a non-Muslim?  Yes, there are parts of Sharia that we rightly consider barbaric - chopping off the hands of thieves, flogging rape victims for adultery.  Most of the awful aspects of Sharia are tied up in the unique religious-political system of Saudi Arabia.  No one in the US is using Sharia law to flog an adulterer.

The Right Wing fixation on Sharia is the sort of mind-numbingly stupid oversimplification of issues that should reasonably disqualify Republicans from being allowed to make complicated decisions from the Oval Office.  Republicans are no longer capable or allowed to make complicated and nuanced decisions.  They have been reduced to reflexive tics that come out like Tourettes: BENGHAZI!  SHARIA!  EMAILS!  FAST AND FURIOUS!

This is how Trump was able to takeover the Republican Party. Either by design or by accident, he tapped into the stupidity - and that's the word, sorry if that's elitist - of a Republican base that is incapable of holding contradictory ideas in its head.  "You hate these people, I hate these people."

The Nice attacks are a horror show.  But they are also an example of the fundamental weakness of ISIS and their strain of Takfir violence.  ISIS has lost Fallujah.  They are losing Ramadi and Mosul.  They are being rolled back in Syria.

But their strain of anti-Western nihilism is still laying there for any angry Muslim to pick up and use.  The solution is to stop alienating Muslims who live in the West and discredit ISIS by destroying their "caliphate" but to destroy it without invading another Arab country.  It is not to give in to fear and hatred.

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