The Muslim Threat?
The Western world has developed a serious case of Islamophobia. The reasons are obvious: Terrorist attacks by radical Muslims have become a regular occurrence; added to that, Western Europe is starting to grasp the possibility that, because of immigration and the high birth rate among Muslims, Europe’s population will soon have a Muslim majority.
Is the fear justifiable?
I suggest that it is not necessarily so. Not all Muslims are now, or even potentially, the “enemy.”
I, for instance, owe my life to a family of Albanian Muslims, who hid and sheltered me and my parents during World War II.
There are peace-loving Muslims, with strong family values and high morals.
So, what, exactly, is the problem?
My insight is that we are not engaged in a religious war, or a cultural war. This isn’t about Muslims against Judeo-Christians.
This is an ageless struggle between those who support and nourish diversity, and those who believe in only one right way to do everything––whether it is politics, religion, or sex––and would like to outlaw or eliminate every other alternative. This was the source of the conflict between Sparta and Athens in the 5th century B.C. Fifteen centuries later, the same conflict drove both 20th-century world wars: The allied nations on one side believed democracy was the least flawed form of government, while those on the opposing side wanted a single-party system, enforced by a totalitarian regime.
The Taliban are not the first or only zealots: Think about the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th century. Weren’t the Inquisitors a Christian version of the Taliban? The only difference is that now it’s 500 years later, and the zealots are Muslim.
Every religion attracts a certain number of fanatics, people who focus obsessively on promoting and defending their own rules, while prosecuting or purging anyone whose beliefs happen to differ. In their view, persecuting these “others” is not only virtuous, but also obligatory.
Fanatical belief systems inevitably reach a point at which terrorism seems like a logical next step. So, they terrorize: rioting in the streets, burning down other peoples houses of prayer.
What to do?
Wars won’t fix this; you cannot effectively fight hate with hate. I believe I have figured out how democratic forces can win this war.
Here is my insight: The way to prevail against those who believe in one and only one way, is to use their own belief system against them.
Think of a society or culture as a large, amorphous, encompassing shape. When you exclude everybody who is unlike you, you create a boundary line, a circle. Now, everyone inside the circle is one of the faithful, and those outside the circle are infidels, to be exploited in whatever ways are deemed useful, or simply eliminated.
But this circle is not fixed. It is dynamic: As soon as you take the position that the few inside the circle are superior, and the many outside it are insignificant, the larger group becomes a moving target.
For example, look at Jewish religious fanatics. First, they excluded “the goyem,” i.e., anyone not born to a Jewish mother.
Then they excluded Jews who pray with a different intonation, such as the Sephardim. Then they even started to exclude each other based on how each interprets the Torah. And within each small sub-cult, there began to be more exclusions. The circle just keeps shrinking …
Instead of fighting exclusionists, we ought to isolate them and hermetically seal their borders. Without a convenient “enemy” population on which to concentrate their blame and fear, they will soon start arguing among themselves: “Who is the most religious?” “Who is the most faithful?” It will end in violence, as usual, but this time they will be fighting and killing each other, and their society will collapse in on itself, as all rotten things eventually do.
Meanwhile, the media ––radio, TV, Internet, books––which do not recognize borders, can be used by democratic forces to speed up the disintegration process. In addition, democratic forces can offer financial aid to those inside these countries who support democracy.
But it is equally essential that pro-diversity countries protect their diversity. They must enact strict laws that outlaw any and all efforts to foster non-diversity.
This is a war between different philosophies, different outlooks on life. It is a war of styles, not of religions.