Monday, February 06, 2012

Islamaversion Not Islamophobia


Over the past decade, the word "Islamophobia" has crept into our lexicon.  Strictly speaking, that means an "irrational fear of Islam or Muslims."  This notion has been picked up by the egalitarian left when describing any negative reaction to actions committed by those who call themselves Muslims and done, supposedly, in the name of 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.

Then some of those crazies, led by a blind guy who called himself an "imam", actually came to the U.S. and tried to blow up the World Trade Center with a truck full of explosives.  What was their problem?  Who were these people who wanted to "kill the Jews" and called us "Satan?"  Were they members of some cult?

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?

Then the unthinkable.  September 11, 2001.  The world had officially gone insane.  These "towelheads" were flying airplanes into the World Trade Center in New York City... and the Pentagon... and had other targets, too.

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.

Those who continue to see the Middle East as the potential source of the next great world conflict are simply not being realistic, or so says the U.S. Eastern Intelligensia.  Iran?  It doesn't have any nuclear weapons.  It has no plans for nuclear weapons.  Iraq is now a peaceful country and Afghanistan will no longer be our concern.  We can go back to ignoring the Middle East except when Israel is attacked and then our President will call for peace talks.  Those who point out that this might not be a judicious course for America are called Islamophobic... having an irrational fear of Islam and Muslims.

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.

  1. A strong dislike or disinclination: "an aversion to exercise".
  2. Someone or something that arouses such feelings.
This 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."
[Time Magazine covers]

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SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)