Is It a War on Terrorism, or Something Else?

November 18, 2011

A friend sent me a link to a YouTube video showing Muslims burning the American flag in front of the American Embassy in London, this year on Sept. 11th.As I watched the video, I became upset. How dare they burn the American flag, and how dare they choose that sacred day on which to do it?But then I listened to a demonstrator, dressed in typical Muslim garb, as he spoke through a loudspeaker with a perfect Oxford English accent.Here is what he said (I am paraphrasing):“Hello Britain, America! How many of your children have to die for you to realize this is a religious war? A war YOU are waging AGAINST US.”Wait! We are waging against them? Are we not defending ourselves from them?Let us go over his message carefully in the spirit of mutual respect.Please note: I do not in any way support or condone what Muslim terrorists did on Sept. 11th, or any other act of terrorism. But the demonstrator’s remark made me think: If we reframe our democracy, our laws, and our justice system as “our sharia,” in contrast to their totalitarian religious practice and their religious laws––“their sharia”––then their accusation that we are trying to impose “our sharia” upon them makes sense.We are.We object to how they treat their women. But put yourself in their shoes: How do you think they feel about how we treat our women? They see our women dressed seductively in public. They see that our women are frequently divorced or unmarried, and that most people in this country think abortion is morally okay.Why would they want to adopt our way of life?We do not want their women to come to school with a head scarf covering their hair, although Muslim women wear the hijab not only for modesty but also because it allows them to be judged by their morals, character, and ideals instead of their appearance. Our women come to school in clothes that reveal their legs, their arms, and often their cleavage. In our culture, that is normal, but in their society, only promiscuous women – whores – dress and behave like that. They do not want to see their daughters or wives become western in dress or behavior.What we call freedom of choice may well look to them like brazen contempt toward the social values they hold sacred. Why would they embrace “our sharia” any more enthusiastically than we are willing to embrace “their sharia”?We object to them trying to bring their sharia laws into our country, but think it is legitimate to go to their country and by force impose our “sharia” on them. Granted, it is appropriate to take action to prevent our enemies from developing weapons of mass destruction or conspiring to attack us in any other way. But is that the reason we are still in Iraq? Afghanistan?We believe their values are from the Stone Age. But do we have the right to use force to change their values?And think of it. We are using the wrong tools to bring our sharia to them: Arms. Mortar. Bombing. Killing. None of which change minds. Only a mind can change a mind. Did the Arab spring, toppling dictators, happen by us invading Egypt with our tanks and army or it happened through exposure to mass media, our mass media?Did the Berlin Wall fall because we invaded Russia or was it the result of our TV programs being watched across the Wall, creating expectations for change, changing minds and thus behavior?Today’s wars are not conducted with rifles, or machine guns. They are conducted with small, easy to carry video cameras. Broadcast by You Tube and Facebook.It takes two to tango and if we believe it is right and moral to change their sharia to ours, fighting to do it, might be aggravating the problem rather than solving it.

Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes