Skip to comments.Mark Steyn: Preaching to the reverted
Posted on 07/30/2006 6:28:46 AM PDT by Clive
Preaching to the reverted
Non-Muslims everywhere are ditching multicultural nullity and making the jump to jihad
Mark Steyn - July 31, 2006
In May 2005, a reader in Asia sent me an e-mail link: "Canadian Converts To Islam Being Recruited By Al-Qaeda." It was from the Press Trust of India. If it appeared in any Canadian paper, I didn't see it. But lo and behold, a year later there were "Canadian converts to Islam" among the 17 Toronto arrests. They're not the only "converts to Islam" in the news--or "reverts," as Muslims call them, taking the view that everyone is born a Muslim but some of us don't yet know it. Here are some notable reverts from the last half-decade:
- The Miami cell plotting to take down the Sears Tower in Chicago.
- The shoebomber, Richard Reid.
- The July 7th London tube bomber, Germaine Lindsay.
- The Washington sniper, John Allan Muhammad.
- The Belgian lady, Muriel Degauque, who blew herself up in a suicide attack on U.S. troops in Baghdad.
- The Australian factory worker, Jack Roche, sentenced in Perth for plotting to blow up the Israeli Embassy in Canberra.
- The founder and members of the Rajah Solaiman Movement, a Filipino Muslim group believed to be responsible for a ferry bombing that killed over a hundred people in 2004.
And on, and on. It would seem obvious that the use of reverts is a conscious strategy. The only question I have over that Press Trust of India headline--"Canadian Converts To Islam Being Recruited By Al-Qaeda"--is the implication that their Muslim conversion predates and is separate from their jihadist recruitment. It would seem more likely that the two processes are simultaneous--that they are converted precisely in order to be jihadists. That's just plain operational good sense: the most gung-ho Pushtun yakherd may be hot for martyrdom but he's going to stand out at the US Air check-in in a way that a third-generation Canadian Muslim isn't or--better yet--a revert of non-Arab appearance and a name that isn't going to set off any flags in the computer--"Steven Chand," "Richard Reid," "Jack Roche." By some accounts, 80 per cent of the imams in Canadian mosques are said to be "extreme." So what kind of converts would they be looking for and what kind would be likely to respond to their rhetoric?
At this point it's customary to throw in the usual "of courses": "Of course" most Canadian Muslims aren't terrorists and "of course" most have no desire to be terrorists. One gathers anecdotally that they're secure enough in their Muslim identity to dismiss the firebreathing imam down the street as a kind of vulgar novelty act for the kids--in the same way that middle-class suburban white parents sigh and roll their eyes when Junior comes home with "Slap Up My Bitch" or "I'm Gonna Shoot That Cop Right After I F-- His Ho" or whatever the latest popular vocal ditty is. But, insofar as there are moderate Muslims, they seem to be in a state of denial. A couple of weeks back, a poll in the United Kingdom found that only 17 per cent of British Muslims are prepared to believe there was any Arab involvement in 9/11--just as, in the fall of 2001, the Ottawa Citizen's coast-to-coast survey of Canadian imams found all but two insistent that there was no Muslim involvement in 9/11. To put it at its most charitable, these are not fellows one can reliably expect to identify extremists in their own midst.
So the broader society needs to understand the phenomenon of "conversion to Islam." How many Canadian newspaper columns have you seen on that subject lately? Me neither. In response to plots to behead the prime minister or demolish the Sears Tower, the media are wont to scoff: What a bunch of joke losers, how pathetic that the authorities need to ballyhoo them into some awesome conspiracy in order to maintain the Bush neocon reign of fear. But, if you'd nabbed the July 7th bombers while they were still conducting their peroxide experiments in Yorkshire, they would have seemed a joke, too. So would half the 9/11 crowd, whooping it up in lap-dance clubs but too stingy to tip the gals. The scoffers have a point: these fellows are losers and a generation or two back they'd have had to make do with a local gang. But today, thanks to the Internet and the Saudi-funded international mosque-and-madrasah network, the coolest gang is global. Steven Chand may be a schmucko no-hoper on welfare but the plot he was a part of had conspirators in Atlanta and in Dewsbury, a Yorkshire town in the tube bombers' neighbourhood. To get a quote from a pal of Chand's, another Canadian convert called Muhammad Robert Heft, Maclean's had to track him down by phone in Mecca. For a bunch of losers, these fellows get around the planet.
In 2002, I asked a Muslim in Paris why Islam was the fastest-growing religion in the West and he said four out of five converts in Europe were women, positing therefrom that, aside from spousal conversions, significant numbers of western females found the feminist notion of womanhood degrading and unworthy. But, whether or not that's true, it doesn't seem to be the whole story. In Britain, there are high-profile celebrity conversions--star footballers, Asquith's great-granddaughter, the son of the BBC director-general, and the Earl of Yarborough, who now goes by the name Abdul Mateen, though whether Burke's Peerage will list him as such remains to be seen. This makes Islam sound like the Brit equivalent of Richard Gere Buddhism. It's not. It's bigger. Over on the other side of the world, about 200,000 Filipinos in the Manila area are estimated to have converted to Islam. This is in addition to the four million Filipino Muslims in the south of the country. The raw math is quite impressive: aside from its surging birthrate, Islam has managed to increase its population by five per cent just through conversion.
I wonder what the equivalent numbers would look like for Norway or Belgium--or Ontario. Taking the prize for chutzpah (if they'll forgive the expression), the Canadian Islamic Congress has conceded some young Muslim men may have assimilation issues but feels the best solution is if the government hands over a big pile of cash so it can run some research on "integration." I think that money could be better spent identifying the types of imams these young chaps are attracted to. But the problem goes beyond the Muslim community and cuts to the heart of what Canada is, or believes itself to be: "Radical Islamism," wrote Fouad Ajami recently, "has come to mock the very principle of nationality and citizenship." But is that really so hard to do? Contemporary Canadian, British, Dutch and Swedish nationality is to a large extent self-mocking. In 1997, you may recall, the federal government marked the 50th anniversary of Canadian citizenship with the usual maple boosterism, in this case posters showing people of every conceivable hue with their hands circled around the globe. That's Canadian citizenship as the state sees it: there are no Canadian people, only whatever people from whichever spot on the planet happen to be in Canada at any particular moment. Alleged "conservatives" like Joe Clark spoke favourably of a "nation of nations," meaning First Nations, the Quebec nation, the Ukrainian-Canadian nation, et cetera, with nary a thought for what other forces might set up shop in such a dead husk of a concept.
The jihad is everything the multiculti left's flopped at. The left talked up sappy Benetton-ad one-worldism, while the pan-Islamists got on with their own particular strain of one-worldism, fierce, implacable and slipping across borders with ease.
Meanwhile, the UCC and other post-Christian churches long ago decided the Gospel was a bore and if they could no longer convert the unbelieving to Christ, they could at least convert them to the boggiest of soft-left political clichés. Yet if the purpose of the modern church is to be a cutting-edge political pacesetter, it's Islam that's doing the better job. The contemporary mosque or madrasah is not the place to go for spiritual contemplation so much as political motivation. The Muslim identity of those gold-toothed Punjabi yobs in northern England or Berber pseudo-rappers in French suburbs may seem spiritually vestigial but it's politically potent. Pre-modern Islam beats postmodern Christianity--and, for young men in search of an identity, transnational jihad beats multicultural nullity. There's no amount of taxpayer money you could throw at the Canadian Islamic Congress that would satisfactorily explain just what it is in contemporary Canada Steven Chand is supposed to identify with.
Steyn stomps 'em again.
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Human beings are a flexible lot, and can be convinced of anything in the world, except nothing. Liberalism, ultimately, is a path to nothing. It's a tool to fight perceived injustice, in a long, lonely, never ending battle.
Militant Islam IS justice. Victory, security, and one's place in the world are all there for the taking.
Why would any sane person choose militant Islam over peaceful liberalism? Easy. It's not how they appear, it's what they really are. Liberalism is a philosophy that holds a very dark world view, but couches it in bright language and pleasant euphemisms. Militant Islam is menacing and dire, but it promises a life (and afterlife) of order, justice, and calm. It's a world view self confident enough to slit throats in order to survive.
They're both self deceptions, really, but one is ultimately far more in tune with human nature. In their hearts, most humans fear the uncertainties of freedom, and long for an iron fist to guide their lives.
Hey, Mr. Steyn! Quit making fun! I wrote the lyrics for that song based on a personal experience I had. It moved me deeply, to the point that I felt compelled to share it with others.
A Steyn column short of snappy one-liners (unless I missed them :-), but long on serious content.
I agree with the concept, but I think "iron fist" may be too strong. I think humans need guidelines, discipline and then punishment if they can't live a correct life. They also need forgiveness once they acknowledge the error of their ways. Perhaps we are all teenagers all the time -- until we grow up, of course.
I thought it was free nationalized healt care.
I know an evangelical minister who got his black belt in Tae Kwon Do (martial art, no Buddhist flavor to it)
There's a Christian who can kick a** if he has to.
The best priests I have known have been very masculine.
Christianity can offer a model of manhood, but often it doesn't. You have strong men and the women will follow.
I've never been remotely interested in any form of totalitarianism, but, I understand some of the reasons for conversion. Western culture detests men, at least heterosexual men. The high number of female converts is both surprising and intriguing to me. I know that many of the technological advances of the west are incredible, but the self-absorbed epicureanism of the west is ultimately unfulfilling. I still think of Andy Warhol as the ultimate 20th Century man. He was rich, and indulged in every sensual vice, bedding both male and female celebrities, followed by an adoring throng, and ultimately, he was totally bored. Life, to him, seemed to be a mildly amusing television program. There was probably nothing he found worth fighting for, or living for.
The real contrast between Islam and post-modern Christianity is how appealing Islam is to male nature. Liberal Christians have feminized religion to the point where men don't want anything to do with it. Islam is a lie, but it's a lie that is far more appealing to men and in tune with male aggression. A return to muscular, robust Christianity requires affirmation of male leadership and masculine virtue -- and a reacknowledgement of the old masculine virtue of chivarly: the strong protecting the weak, a uniquely Christian concept. We've done nothing in this society except denigrate and mock men for the last 40 years, then we're really surprised how men, especially men in prison who have been raised by single women without fathers, flock to Islam. Evangelical churches, with their emphasis on male leadership, are growing by leaps and bounds, not surprising to me, they are an antidote to our society.
Perhaps that's because he couldn't "get over himself."
I believe that as long as an individual lives and believes that he is the center of universe, his universe will become as small as he really is.
In connection with my previous comment, once an individual has achieved failure and salvation, he will find meaning only outside of himself. Only then will life be worth living and dying for.
That shouldn't be surprising. Islam is a rich man's religion. Take some time to read through the Koran, and you'll realize that Muhammed set up Islam as a way to organize society under the control of wealthy males, and supported by warrior males and subservient females.
Men have pride in Islamic society, and women have value. We may consider their male pride barberic, and female value as akin to property. I know I do. But nevertheless, men want to feel good about themselves, and women want to feel prized. Islam merely entices men to feel greedy without guilt and violent without remorse. It allows women to be passive and powerless cattle, but without shame.
I agree, and I definitely don't mean 'anarchy' when I say 'freedom'.
My point was that while most Americans are, theoretically, glad that they're in a country that is free, many would rather have a benevolent guiding force organize their lives and the lives of everyone else. Real freedom is scary, messy, and unpleasant, and I think that, push comes to shove, a large segment of humanity feels they aren't up to it. Others feel that they know better, and that their views should be mandatory and undebatable.
I suppose my point is that individuals anywhere may be ready for freedom, but societies need to be raised for it. A society lacking a firm belief in the inherent supeiority of liberty tends to gravitate towards strong leaders or visionary religions.