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Terror and Liberalism
October 5, 2001 3:00 PM   Subscribe

Terror and Liberalism I have found this piece in The American Prospect to be one of the most balenced pieces I have yet come across. It considers all aspects of the terrorist groups--Israel, American policy, poverty, Iraq, fundamentalisim, history of the area, westernization, etc and finds the rights and wrongs in each, offering finally a way to cope with things in the future while at the same time dealing with present needs. In other words, it avoids the overly simplistic formulas offered by so many stalwarts of the far Right or far Left.
posted by Postroad (12 comments total)

 
Meh... the comparision of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy to Iran and Iraq is an inordinate amount of tripe. A mediocre read, not very poignant of anything IMO.
posted by Aikido at 4:02 PM on October 5, 2001


I don't see how the parallels can be cavalierly dismissed as "tripe." The article explains the similarities, citing the opposition to liberal, pluralistic societies as the common thread.

Oppressors need an rallying cause and need an external enemy in order to keep the power which they crave. Remember the 2-minutes hate from Orwell's 1984?

For the Bolsheviks, the cause was workers' Utopia, and the enemy was the capitalists. For the Nazis, the cause was a Aryan super-nation, and the enemy was the Jews and other "lesser people." For the Islamic oppressors, the cause is the expansion and protection of Islam, and the enemy are all the unbelievers.

We are particularly offensive to them because we export memes of individual freedom. The Islamic oppressors simply can't have that.
posted by marknau at 4:17 PM on October 5, 2001


Even if many of the leaders of terrorist movements could be eliminated and more moderate leaders listened to by the Islamic people, there would always be that seed of hate lurking somewhere. I feel this applies not only to this situation but others, not limited to, but including the Nazi movement, the Fascist movement and Communism.
posted by bjgeiger at 4:54 PM on October 5, 2001


i cannot say what the Islamic oppressors find particularly offensive about us.
a seed of hate may well lurk around from time to time, but it is only when people are desperate that they do desperate things. even then, some persecuted muslim people do not resort to terrorism.
maybe utopia isn't available yet.
i suppose i'd better read the article now.
posted by asok at 5:11 PM on October 5, 2001


Someone might reply that murdering several thousand people in the United States cannot be compared in sheer numbers to other massacres--Saddam's gassing of the Kurds, for instance. Yet nearly everyone seems to grasp intuitively that if the anti-American terrorists were to get their hands on a nuclear bomb, they would use it at once, and may perfectly well be planning such a thing even now.

Remember this excerpt each morning when you wake up and reach for the radio to hear what happend over night. And remember it when Ariel Sharon is acused of being an extremist, rather than someone in touch with reality.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:55 PM on October 5, 2001


I really don't think you need Nazi-like pathology to explain the intensity — to the point of easily crossing over into "irrationality" — of Palestinian anti-Zionism. I dunno...could it be all the ethnic cleansing? I'd say, the traces of dignity are more perplexing than the degree of the rage.
posted by Zurishaddai at 6:03 PM on October 5, 2001


I just want to say that I find bjgieger's comment disturbing. He seems to suggest that no matter who leads them, Muslims will always be an evil, fundamentalist religious group that hates the United States.
Sorry, bj, but this simply isn't true. You forget that the Nazi and "Facist" movements (and communism as practiced by the Soviets) were built around the idea that they were superior in some way, and that everyone else had to be wiped out. It you actually look at Islam as a religion, it says nothing like this. Islam is peaceful; extremists twist it into saying what they want, just as extremists throughout history have done with other belief systems (including Christianity.)
There is no "seed of hate" inherent in anything, except in the hearts of manipulative extremists
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 6:23 PM on October 5, 2001


I just want to say that I find bjgieger's comment disturbing. He seems to suggest that no matter who leads them, Muslims will always be an evil, fundamentalist religious group that hates the United States.

I think you misunderstood his post: it's pretty clear he was making a statement about social systems in general, as he provided three good examples of other movements which still have a 'seed' of hate lurking around.
posted by skyline at 7:25 PM on October 5, 2001


We are particularly offensive to them because we export memes of individual freedom. The Islamic oppressors simply can't have that.

I think the argument is more nuanced than that. This isn't so much the exportation of liberty (really, there hasn't been much of an export market in recent years) so much as the association of liberty with an imported privilege. And while it's easy to see the inherent privileges of liberal society from the inside -- its capacity to reward talent, to encourage personal growth, to maintain domestic stability -- it's possible for that to be refracted into something that it's easy to hate, from the position of the self-declared outsider.

The financial hub of the US economy is, by degrees, caricatured: at one end of the spectrum -- "fat cat CEOs" -- there's a valid internal critique; at the other end, it becomes "the Jewish banking conspiracy" or some other grotesque delusion. The federal government, deserving to be held responsible for some horrendous acts at Waco, is refracted into the "oppressive state" that Timothy McVeigh came, irrationally, to associate with the working mothers and their children in the Murrah building. The beautiful girl walking down the street in New York City becomes the object of fantasy for a stalker, who sees in her, simultaneously, everything he desires and everything he wants to mutilate. And isn't there something about the events of the 11th that smacks of a vastly magnified rapist's mentality: that desire to possess and destroy?

Remember this excerpt each morning when you wake up and reach for the radio to hear what happend over night. And remember it when Ariel Sharon is acused of being an extremist, rather than someone in touch with reality.

Then dig out some pictures of Sabra and Shatila, just to distinguish what really happened one day in 1982 from such predictions of future horrors.
posted by holgate at 7:29 PM on October 5, 2001


I just want to say that I find bjgieger's comment disturbing. He seems to suggest that no matter who leads them, Muslims will always be an evil, fundamentalist religious group that hates the United States.

I don't think that is what I implied. I made a general statement about systems used to manipulate large blocks of people. I do not feel the the terrorist represent the true beliefs of the Islamic people. The extremists use their version of the Islamic religion the same way the leaders of the Nazi movement, the Fascist movement and the old line Communist used their belief systems, to control and manipulate.

BTW the bj stands for Barbara Jean
posted by bjgeiger at 8:40 PM on October 5, 2001


holgate: Great analogies, 'cept the first two actually happen or have happened in their specifics, the second has not actually happened to the subject of the NY Times story. At all. Can't put my finger on exactly why that sounded a bit off-key, but I think it has something to do with trivializing the crime of which you speak. I'm not sure anyone wanted to "possess" the US here either anyway. Control it, all the while still envying and wanting the best of what it has? Sure, that's more like it. That the hijackers visited strip joints in Vegas puts a strong element of patriarchy in there, along with the envy, but it's still only one variable among so many others, the most significant of which appears to be religion.

Nietzsche summed the whole thing up better, I think, in talking about the concept of "ressentiment" in "Beyond Good and Evil." Totally blame a powerful external source for your troubles, be a slave rather than a master, have that whole attitude reinforced and even encouraged by religion (although he addressed Christianity of his times), etc. Pretty basic human psychology, and directly applies in the 9.11 case. Some other insight may be found in this 1990 V.S. Naipaul speech (via kausfiles.com) regarding fundamentalist Islam.
posted by raysmj at 9:10 PM on October 5, 2001


And isn't there something about the events of the 11th that smacks of a vastly magnified rapist's mentality: that desire to possess and destroy?

‹Cheerleader post›
You never cease to impress me, holgate. Rewarding insight, I think.
‹/Cheerleader post›
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:11 PM on October 5, 2001


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