By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
January 9, 2007
Many people in the Muslim world are known for their gullible acceptance of rumors, superstitions, old wives tales and the like.
Here's a typical example: Charles Paul Freund wrote in "Reason Magazine" on October 17, 2001, that according to a conspiracy theory sweeping through the Islamic world, "Israel plotted the September massacres to make Islam look barbaric, deflect attention from the intensifying Palestinian problem, and manipulate the U.S. into a war against all Muslims. The major supporting 'evidence' for this crackpot belief is a report originating in the Arab press about Jewish employees at the World Trade Center. Supposedly, 4,000 Jews were forewarned of the coming attack and stayed home on Sept. 11. According to a familiar piece of paranoid ratiocination, 'only the Mossad' could have carried off such an operation."
Call it "truthiness." If you haven't heard this word, it came from Comedy Central satirist Stephen Colbert, who defined it as "truth that comes from the gut, not books." "Truthiness" was the 2005 Word of The Year according to the American Dialect Society.
Some Arabs put a lot of stock in truthiness; and none in the truth.
Combine this deeply seated "wild-eyed" lack of rational analysis with this: what these Islamic extremists do with their warped sense of reality often quickly translates into action and action quickly mandates martyrdom.
So who leads these gullible souls? Guys like Osama bin Laden and Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They just love it that they find themselves in a position to vector all this stupidity, hate and irrational behavior in the direction of their choosing. And that direction, my friend, is right at you and me. Believe it.
The same week that saw the rumor that Jews caused September 11, The Washington Post ran a page one story by Pamela Constable about the shifting Muslim response to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. One of those interviewed and quoted by The Post was a young MBA student.
Ms. Constable met the student, took down his words and wrote, "'If [President] Bush and his monkeys want to destroy Islam, we will chase them to their grave,' vowed Shayar Khan, 23, a business student at a protest Friday in Peshawar, who said he had recently traveled to Afghanistan with several hundred other students to sign up to fight. 'If they send in troops, I will abandon my MBA and go for martyrdom,' he said. 'Now I am ashamed that I speak English, because the American policies are shameful.'"
By the way: those "monkeys" referred to include you.
This, unfortunately, is not some isolated example of a visceral reaction to conjured up "news" that quickly becomes an incendiary in the minds of the citizenry of Islamic nations.
This guy is the norm. He's the average cross-section from which men like bin Laden and Ahmadinejad gather toward them the "freedom fighters."
Because if he is not, where is the Islamic leadership telling the small minority of extremists that they are out of line and others should be ashamed to listen? Where are the enlightened and rational and peace loving Imams?
We have not seen one western reporter comment on what we believe to be the really chilling outcome of Saddam Hussein's botched execution by his Iraqi hangmen. After Saddam died, a rumor swept through Muslim nations that Saddam's face appeared on the moon. This kind of psychic apparition was seen by perhaps millions of true believers. To them, Saddam was great.
Now, in death, Saddam is positively super-natural.
These kinds of beliefs may be hard for westerners to accept; but whether you accept this kind of tribal folklore or not you should know that it is out there and it is a very powerful factor, in fact a force, to Muslims who follow Saddam and other evil doers.
The rumors and beliefs people adhere to can become the annealing agent, the "fixer" in a two chemical epoxy if you will, that quickly leads to a blind-eyed ferocity of hate and danger. To an already accepting mind pummeled by extremist messages for years if not decades, the rumor that everyone else believes without hesitation followed by some perceived "apparition" or some other forces, becomes an incendiary mix impossible to resist for the "true believer."
So, next time you see video of the aftermath of some suicide bomber or some improvised explosive device, ask yourself, "What goes on here and how should we respond?"
We point all this out because only about 1% of the American population is actually engaged in the fighting, suffering and dying in this war which is being waged for all of us.
And I know many readers will say, "Well, nobody is fighting in MY BEHALF because I didn't want this war in the first place."
True enough. But none of us did. Nobody that was in the World Trade Centers or the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, wanted to become a statistic in a world war. But they were brought into the scheme nonetheless by a rag-tag group of terrorists not afraid to die for their cause. It was these very extremists, the terrorists, who used commercial airliners to attack symbols of American greatness: the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon.
Then some will respond, "But now we have been beaten in Iraq, and the justification for the war was wrong anyway, and we are taking too many casualties so we need to get the troops home."
O.K. So if we bring the troops home everything will be O.K.? Right?
I sure don't think so.
Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has frequently and repeatedly made bold and ugly assertions once thought completely unacceptable in the world diplomatic community. His rantings remind one of the likes of Idi Amin and Adolph Hitler, two dictators allowed to germinate their evil for far too long.
But Ahmadinejad makes those two look like rodents. He has real power: long range missiles already demonstrated and the potential to reach the sought after climax of all second string dictators wanting the status of a superpower: nuclear weapons.
Ahmadinejad's Iran has had a cozy relationship with North Korea for years. When Iran tests a missile, North Koreans are on hand to learn. When North Korea tests missiles or bombs: there you'll find Ahmadinejad boys.Ahmadinejad stated that "Israel must be wiped from the map," that the Holocaust was an "Invention of the Zionists," and that the "Zionist state is illegitimate."
He has also made no secret of his nuclear ambition.
Frankly, I take this guy at his word. He feels confident. That means to me that he is completely around the bend or that he has reason to believe his own rhetoric. And I think it may be the later.
When President Bush announced that Admiral William Fallon is his nominee to replace General John Abizaid as the Commander of the Central Command, my first thought was to applaud. The president and his team have signaled that Iran is now on the radar scope, as military people say.
Moving a second U.S. navy aircraft carrier battle group to the region also signals resolve and the rightful willingness to deter Iran. And should deterrence fail; the U.S. Navy and the other military services have the wherewithal to respond.
And on Wednesday night when the President goes before the American people to make his case, whatever that case will be, I will listen. I am not like others such as Senator Biden from Delaware who has his mind made up already (as he himself has said). I WANT to hear the president out and I WANT the national debate to continue, so long as it is reasoned, and rational and conducted as we might have expected from our Founders: men like Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin and Hamilton. If we make our minds up without listening to the arguments and if we lower ourselves to name calling and vindictive rhetoric, one wonders how we might achieve an enlightened answer?
Because the situations we are facing now may call out for enlightened thought and even more enlightened answers.