Sunday, November 15, 2009

L. Neil Smith talks about the Fort Hood massacre

He has some good thoughts, in my not-so-humble opinion.

Much — almost everything, to be precise — has been made of the fact that Hasan had an Arabic name, was the son of immigrants from the middle east (for all that they were living the American Dream and he was American born and raised) and was a practicing Muslim. Even worse (or possibly better), he objected out loud to this government’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. All this became proof positive (to those with holes in their heads, from radio talk show hosts with audiences in the tens of millions to the lowliest xenophobic scrapings at the bottom of the Internet) that he was a jihadist, a conspirator, and that the entire Muslim world exists only to kill, cook, and eat Christian babies.

“Onward Muslim soldiers, marching as to war — ”

Oops, that’s a Christian hymn, isn’t it?

I’d be equally justified saying that Hasan’s crimes simply confirm certain suspicions that I’ve had about psychiatrists for more than 40 years.

For a long time, I have wanted to say, clearly and unmistakably, that all human institutions are born, develop, grow, evolve, and die. This is the year 1430 in the Muslim calendar, duly commemorating the beginning of their religion in Mohammed’s Hejira, his pilgrimage from Medina to Mecca, a sacred event to all Muslims everywhere, and a journey each and every one of them aspires — and is required — to emulate.

Did you get that date? It’s important: 1430 A.D., or C.E., as those afflicted with political correctness have it. Some 579 years ago.

So what was our civilization — western European civilization — doing in the 1430th year since its main religion, Christianity, was founded?

To begin with, the Holy Inquisition was a going concern and had been for about 200 years. Individuals who happened to disagree with a nasty, Europe-wide, theocratic dictatorship over something as trivial as interpretation of the Bible or the punctuation in the Common Book of Prayer, were burned with coals, poked with various sharp objects, some heated to a yellow glow, got put into various kinds of machinery that crushed their extremities or stretched their bodies until they were hopelessly crippled or dead. Sometimes they were burned at the stake.

At about the same time in northern France, a completely untrained and entirely self-appointed — but charismatic — young warrior heard voices that were attributed to one Catholic saint or another, gathered a huge, armed gang together, and went on a deadly rampage against the legitimate local authorities, sacking towns and murdering tens of thousands on behalf of those whose wish was to become the new local authorities.

The only reason Joan of Arc isn’t recalled in the annals of history as a terrorist is that she didn’t have pipe bombs. Eventually she was sold out to the enemy by her own side, and burned at the stake.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

All of that was in our year 1430. Today, in the Muslim year 1430, there can be little doubt that Islam could benefit from an additional 579 years in which to mature. The Muslim world, comprising some 1.6 billion individuals, a little more than a quarter of the population of the Earth, many of them under the thumbs of tyrants and fanatics we helped put in power, needs to develop a healthy and dynamic secular culture, or to stop trying to suppress the one it already has, and hold religion to its proper station, as America’s First Amendment has done.

It only took us 1787 years.

All of that to one side, I seriously doubt that Hasan’s religious views or opinions about foreign policy had very much to do with his religion. (Although my wife asks, what would the Taliban or Al Qaeda have done to Hasan, an American Muslim, if they’d captured him?) That guy in Cleveland with all the bodies — Anthony Sowell — did anybody ask him what religion he practices? How about Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold?

Put another way, would you like it if the west were judged by the actions and attitudes of a Jerry Falwell, a Cotton Mather, or a Savonarola?

The problem with Hasan was Hasan. If he’d been Irish, he’d have shouted “Erin go bragh!” as he shot his victims. If he were Hispanic, it would have been “Viva la Raza!” And none of that would have been important — nor would it have reflected on the Irish or the Hispanic – because the whole point was just to kill and kill, no matter the excuse.

Hasan was so miserable he wanted to die, and misery loves company.

When Columbine happened, I said don’t ask why it happened. There wasn’t any reason that would make sense to a rational human being. I say the same thing now about Fort Hood. But more than that, don’t let politicians get away with “dancing in the blood” of Hasan’s innocent victims.

There's more at the link. Highly recommended reading.



Anonymous said...

What was Western culture's fix? Moveable type.

It seems that pushing knowledge out is probably the best way forward.


robnrun said...

Quite interesting, thanks for the link.
As a medievalist by training, I do have one not so small quibble. The medieval church is never a theocratic dictatorship as we understand the phrase. Right from the rise of the papacy as a political power in the 800's, the church was always in negotiation with the secular powers. This meant that the accusation of heresy was used only when that secular ruler found it politically expedient. Heretics pop up almost only when the person (or group) is seen as a threat to the secular ruler. Otherwise they were let alone since the church was incapable of any action (beyond excommunication) unless the local secular power also felt it useful which, granted they often did since it permitted them to seize the property of the accused.

Consider the followers of Wyclif who move to Galloway from London in this period. The Scots were happy to let them, as they irritated the English, that the English thought they were heretics didn't particularly matter to the Bishop of Glasgow, one of the leaders of Scotland at the time. Besides between 1370 and 1418 both the Scots and the English accused each of heresy, as they were supported by opposing popes...

The Inquisition (which really gets going at this time) is almost entirely a Spanish affair, created by the twin issues of expelling the Muslims and silencing dissent as Spain was formed into one kingdom, rather than three very distinct kingdoms.

Northern Europe really picks up on the idea of torture with the rise of accusations of witchcraft in the early modern period. Which is a rather different issue, as it doesn't have the political cast that heresy does. However, it starts a little later (1470 is the first time witchcraft is a frequent accusation).

Not to say that torture wasn't a part of the system in medieval Europe, but to much lesser extent than we might imagine.

raven said...

So are we expected to wait 500 years for them to "catch up"? I do not buy this explanation, not at all- we had to INVENT the enlightenment,and every bit of progress to go along , spiritual, mechanical, medical, etc- Islam has a role model if they want it- they do not seem to be in any haste to depart the 1200's.(anno Domeni) (except in weaponry).
I mean, come on- If Japan could go from a feudal society to modern world power in 40 years , one would think Islam could get a clue.
What I find interesting is not that everyone seems to think this is a case of instant Jihad syndrome, but that every MSM outlet seeems to be falling over backward to AVOID the question.
This sort of thing happens way too often to pretend Islam has nothing to do with it- perhaps Islam was not the first motivating factor, but it sure provided a convienient justification for him spiritually.

Alan Alexis said...

I don't buy it.
I like L. Neil, and have followed his thinking for years.
He is a great guy, but off base on this one.

AS they say in Ole Blighty, "Go On now, pull the other one"

Billll said...

In 1430 most people couldn't read and the fastest form of communication was a crier on horseback. Ideas traveled very slowly then.

Admittedly the Ummah is in general one of the most backward parts of the world, but even the sticks have satellite TV by now.