SEARCH BLOG: ISLAM
There is a thought that "you're not paranoid if they are really out to get you." Another way of saying that is fear is not irrational if someone says they are out to kill you... and acts on it.
Americans have always had a parochial view of the world. "There is America and those stuffy Europeans and then a bunch of backward nations... well, Australia and New Zealand are okay maybe, but they're off in some remote corner. The Middle East? Mainly living in the past with a weird religion and always trying to kill Jews. We put up with them because they have oil we need, but we'd rather not."
For the most part, Americans only heard about the Middle East when there was an oil price spike or one of the countries surrounding Israel had launched another ineffective military action against it. We liked the food... shish kebob, pilaf, hummus, baba ganoush... and the few Iranians, or Chaldeans, or Iraqis, or Lebanese that we met all seemed like friendly, likable people... and we consider them welcome friends and acquaintances.
There were the nutball Iranian clerics who attacked the American embassy and held Americans hostage while an ineffectual President Carter got glassy-eyed. Then American troops were attacked by some crazy Middle Easterners who blew up the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon killing 241. But as terrible as that was, it was somewhat seen as an attack against the military, not so much an attack on America by many Americans.
The image of Middle East Muslims began to change for most Americans. They were seen as having some sort of irrational antipathy for Americans. What had we done to them? Sure, we supported Israel... a nation carved out of the wilderness that was their homeland thousands of years ago. Yes, we had supported some Middle Eastern leaders who turned out to be unpopular. But we didn't invade their countries. We didn't go out of our way to wage war on them. Obviously, our world view and their world view was radically different.
Still, we viewed the Middle East as an annoyance. A bunch of "towelheads" running around babbling excitedly, gesturing insanely, and making as much sense as The Three Stooges.
This was getting serious and people started listening to the rantings of these madmen. Now they were acting out their threats in America.
For the millions of Americans who never met a Muslim or had never even heard of Islam, this was something like monsters from Mars attacking. What was all of this talk about "infidels?" Who is this "Mohammed" guy and why are all of these people doing these things in his name?
They made their point. They were willing to die for their "cause", whatever that was. And at that point, Americans almost universally decided that we would accommodate their wishes.
The rest is history and becoming history.
Islamic "nutcakes" now have the full attention of the U.S. and Europe. Joint "military exercises" have been held in various Middle Eastern countries. Those who thought it might get rid of the Islamic insanity didn't really understand the depth of the insanity. It was insanity grounded in a distorted, malevolent religious belief reinforced with cultural barbarity and misogyny that really didn't care what military actions were taken against it or innocent people around them. They had the "truth." God, Allah, was on their side. The ultimate religious fanaticism combine with a political fantasy of the past... the worst mixing of religion and politics possible.
The present U.S. administration has no stomach for all of this. Its goal is to get out of the Middle East as fast as possible. There is an economy to fix and an election to fix. We've bombed the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan and killed some of the perpetrators of the 2001 WTC attack. Good enough.
There are two parts to that thought that are incorrect. Given the past three decades of attacks on Americans and America by those calling themselves Muslims and true believers of Islam, any concerns toward these people are not irrational. Given the response already given and likely to be given again, the response is not fear.
If a word had to be coined to describe the feelings that most Americans have toward these true believers and their faith and their cultures, it would be Islamaversion.
aversionThis is not a feeling most Americans want, but it is one that has been reinforced too often. We still have our friends and neighbors and acquaintances from the Middle East and we consciously separate them in our minds from the groups and forces who have attacked us. We know them. But we're not sure if we can ever know or want to know those others. There will have to be a lot of reconciling for that... and that won't happen as long as we remain "The Great Satan."