Oh my gosh! Apparently Iran is not a monolithic monster whose entire energies are united in destroy all that's good and holy and can be sold at Wal-Mart.
It looks like there are serious and deepening divisions in the ruling elite there, with the Ayatollah Khamenei slowly tightening the noose around the neck of President Ahmadinejad. How confusing this all is! For one thing, whom are we supposed to demonize in the usual cartoonish rendering of reality favored by our own noble leaders and our leading organs of information, where there must be, always, everywhere, "good guys" and "bad guys" to help or hinder?
Ahmadinejad has been one of the more durable "new Hitlers" of our era, always good for a scary headline or a boost in military spending or a reason for continuing the war crime in Iraq. But now he is being attacked by the Ayatollah, the black-robed center of Islamic extremism and "state-sponsored terrorism" in the popular -- and political -- mind. (It's likely that a great many people think Khamenei is the same Ayatollah who served as the all-powerful bin-Ladenish bogeyman of American nightmares after the Iranian hostage crisis.) How can we support an Islamic bogeyman against a secular leader? But if that leader is the new Hitler, then how can we...???
It is a dilemma, but I'm sure our media massagers will work out the proper line soon enough. After all, look how adroitly they have handled the many metamorphoses of Moamar Gadafy's official reputation down through years: long-time boogeyman turned newfound good buddy -- and now a "new Hitler" once again! Gadafy himself didn't change much over that time -- just his relative usefulness, or degree of hindrance, to the agenda du jour of our great and good. If Khamenei cracks down harder, look for a "softening" or some sudden "nuance" in Ahmadinejad's media portrayal. Why not? He can always be fitted with horns again soon enough, as the need arises.
Mention of monolithic depictions of Islamic boogeyman calls to mind a couple of other pieces on the subject that I wrote some time ago. The first was a post based on a penetrating analysis by Pankaj Mishra ("The Culture of Fear") which set out the true situation of the "Muslim demographic" in Europe: miniscule and powerless. The intro to that piece is here:
A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post dealing with one of Mark Steyn's hate tracts about the Muslim "takeover" of Europe. Steyn, like his ardent admirer Martin Amis, displays a remarkably transparent psychosexual panic at the thought of big Muslim bucks breeding holy warriors to cast the white man down. (As an American Southerner, I am all too familiar with this "Mandingo Syndrome.")
Oddly enough, of all the articles I've written over the years, the Steyn piece has produced the longest-lasting reaction. To this day, I still get hate mail and indignant comments from Steyn's little sycophants, denouncing my ignorance of Islam's relentless, monolithic devouring of European "civilization." (I would highly recommend Mark Mazower's magisterial work of history, "Hitler's Empire," for anyone interested in seeking how very civilized Europe has been within living memory.)
Given that I live in one of the nations that the psychosexual panickers seem most exercised about -- Great Britain -- and in a neighborhood where at least every third person is a Muslim, or of Muslim background, I always find these condemnations of my "ignorance" on the subject of Islam in Europe pretty funny. I live among Muslims, work alongside Muslims, trade with Muslims, my children go to school with Muslims. I can reports from years of my own experience the astonishing fact that Muslims are actual, individual human beings like everyone else: a unique combination of disparate, changing, often conflicting elements, with wildly varying beliefs and behaviors. (What's more, a great many "Muslims" are not really Muslims; that is, they are about as "religious" in their actual behavior as, say, the countless millions of American "Christians" who have made pornography one of the Homeland's largest industries.)
But you would never know any of this from our best-selling Islamophobes. Or, given the ethnic and linguistic origins of Islam, should we not call them by their true names: anti-Semites? For indeed, their own rhetoric and ideas are indistinguishable from those of the anti-Semites of the early 20th century, who also wrote of dark, barbaric hordes of religious fanatics breeding and wheedling their way into dominance over a weak, flaccid, overly "liberal" white Europe. Substitute "Muslim" for "Jew" in the scared-stiff (or is it scared-flaccid?) screeds of Steyn, Amis, and others, and you will hear an exact replica of the anti-Semitism that was so rife throughout Western "civilization" in the pre-Holocaust years....
The second post was a response to the response the first piece provoked from one of the leading race-based sexual panickers of our day: Mark Steyn. Some excerpts from the second piece are below:
In that august forum of serious, respectable conservatism, "The Corner," Mark "Mandingo" Steyn has responded to the post here yesterday taking him and his fellow Islamophobes to task for the "psychosexual panic" they evince in the face of their self-concocted vision of a "takeover" of Europe by prodigiously breeding Muslims. It goes without saying that Steyn (and a few of his fanboys in the comments section here) make no genuine reply to the substance of the piece, which drew heavily on a long, detailed essay on Islamophobia by Pankaj Mishra in the Guardian.
Instead, Mandingo comes up with what he obviously believes is the "smoking gun" to prove that a monolithic, undifferentiated, hive-minded Muslim horde is procreating its way to domination over the cowardly "pantywaists" of white Europe. And what is this killer evidence? (And "killer" is certainly the right term; for as we reported here yesterday, Steyn is on record as saying that Europeans will soon figure out how to "buck" the Muslim demographic surge: "If you can't outbreed the enemy, cull 'em.") Anyway, Mandingo's proof of Muslim overbreeding is -- brace yourself:
Lists of the most popular names for newborn boys.
Yes, Steyn -- the scholar's scholar, statistician extraordinaire -- has perused the popular names for babies in two whole European cities, and has discovered -- gasp! -- that they are headed by "Mohammed," and also have other Islam-derived names among the top ranks. This, he says, should convince "even the squishiest multiculti pantywaist" that there is sure enough an evil Ay-rab in the woodpile out there, and that, as he put it in one of his shaky-kneed screeds, it's "the end of the world as we know it."
Now, I would never put my meager learning up against an intellectual giant like Herr Professor Mandingo, but I would like to offer a few layman's observations on these earth-shattering revelations.
First, Herr Professor does not seem to realize that, as general rule, those of Muslim heritage tend to draw their children's first names from a small pool of historic Islamic names; and that variations of "Mohammed" are far and away the top choice from this small pool. Hence, in a list of baby's names, you will find a preponderance of a few Islamic monikers skewing the statistics.
At the same time, it is now the general fashion among those of Christian heritage in Europe (and the United States and Canada) to draw upon a far larger and more diverse pool of first names for their children. A few generations ago, most of these too would have come from a small pool of historic Christian names: saints, apostles, Biblical figures, etc. Now, they come from everywhere -- when they are not simply made up out of whole cloth. In other words, if it were the fashion today for Europeans of Christian heritage to name their children after, say, the four evangelists, then those same lists would be teeming with Matthews, Johns, Lukes -- and even Marks. I myself am a fairly prodigious breeder of offspring, and my four children have names drawn from Russian literature, Celtic myth, a Jane Austen novel and the Jewish scriptures. And this is typical of millions of other parents of Christian heritage.
Second, Professor Mandingo and his allies and acolytes also seem blissfully unaware that not every little baby named Mohammed is going to grow up to be one of the zealous, monolithic Muslims of their imagination. That boy is more likely to grow up to be a largely if not wholly secular guy, at home in the culture of the nation where he was born. (The same goes for girls too, of course, but as Steyn's little two-city lists deal only with boys, we'll confine the discussion to males.) And if he does grow up to be a practicing Muslim, again he will not be a member of some mythical zombie-like monolith, but will have to find his own individual path in a faith that is every bit as variegated, diverse, fractured and conflicted as Christianity, if not more so. But Mandingoism blinds its adherents to the fact that Muslims are actual, individual human beings, with all the inherent complexities and conflicts thereof. They can only see a dark, undifferentiated mass spreading like an oil slick over the pristine marble surface of European "civilization."
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