A very important poll from Gallup was resulted recently. I will comment in detail later on when I pick up where I left off in the Understanding Jihad Series (soon, I promise).
For the record, I purposefully worded the title of my post in a somewhat provocative way; as has been my style in the Series, I tend to show how we can turn the tables on anti-Muslim Jews (i.e. Pamela Geller) and Christians (i.e. Robert Spencer)–as well as anti-Muslim ex-Muslim atheists/agnostics (i.e. Faith Freedom International) who claim that Islam and Muslims are more violent than Judaism and Christianity. These anti-Muslim elements would have worded the title this way, had it been the other way around.
Perhaps a more sensitive and appropriate way to word the title–had I not been trying to make a point–would be to say “Muslims Least Likely to Condone Targeting and Killing Civilians.”
* * * * *
The comic above is absolutely wonderful and really depicts the utter hypocrisy of the United States and Israel. This hypocrisy is born out in the poll results, which show that many (a majority of?) Americans are opposed to small, weak, and largely irrelevant groups like Al-Qaeda killing civilians but are perfectly fine with the powerful, mighty, and hyper-ultra-mega-super power that is our military targeting and killing civilians on a much larger scale.
Here, it would be appropriate to understand the difference between what I call Professional Terrorism (“state terror”) and Amateur Terrorism (Al-Qaeda style). Professional Terrorism uses the military-industrial complex to kill tens of thousands of civilians, whereas Amateur Terrorism uses untrained amateurs without the help of state resources to kill a handful of people (or which actually more commonly results in a failed bombing).
In American and Israeli society, Professional Terrorism is acceptable, whereas Amateur Terrorism is absolutely the world’s greatest evil. Amateur Terrorism provides the justification for Professional Terrorism (this even though it is usually almost always the case that Professional Terrorism started the cycle of violence). Those who have the capability to carry out Professional Terrorism have absolutely no need to resort to Amateur Terrorism since the former is so much more effective in killing civilians than the latter. To this effect, Max Blumenthal has published an excellent article (which is worth reading in its entirety) in which he explains why more extremist Jews and Christians don’t need to rely on Anders Behring Breivik’s form of terrorism (Amateur Terrorism):
Many of the American writers who influenced Breivik spent years churning out calls for the mass murder of Muslims, Palestinians and their left-wing Western supporters. But the sort of terrorism these US-based rightists incited for was not the style the Norwegian killer would eventually adopt. Instead of Breivik’s renegade free-booting, they preferred the “shock and awe” brand of state terror perfected by Western armies against the brown hordes threatening to impose Sharia law on the people in Peoria. This kind of violence provides a righteous satisfaction so powerful it can be experienced from thousands of miles away.
And so most American Islamophobes simply sit back from the comfort of their homes and cheer as American and Israeli troops — and their remote-controlled aerial drones — leave a trail of charred bodies from Waziristan to Gaza City. Only a select group of able-bodied Islamophobes are willing to suit up in a uniform and rush to the front lines of the clash of civilizations. There, they have discovered that they can mow down Muslim non-combatants without much fear of legal consequences, and that when they return, they will be celebrated as the elite Crusader-warriors of the new Islamophobic right — a few particularly violent figures have been rewarded with seats in Congress. Given the variety of culturally acceptable, officially approved outlets for venting violent anti-Muslim resentment, there is little reason for any American to follow in Breivik’s path of infamy.
Before exploring the online subculture that both shaped and mirrored Breivik’s depravity, it is necessary to define state terror, especially the kind refined by its most prolific practitioners. At the dawn of the “war on terror,” the United States and Israel began cultivating a military doctrine called “asymmetrical warfare.” Pioneered by an Israeli philosophy and “practical ethics” professor named Asa Kasher and the former head of Israeli military intelligence, Lt. Gen. Amos Yadlin, and successfully marketed to the Pentagon, the asymmetrical warfare doctrine did away with traditional counterinsurgency tactics which depended on winning the “hearts and minds” of indigenous populations. Under the new rules, the application of disproportionate force against non-combatants who were supposedly intermingled with the “terrorists” was not only justified but considered necessary. According to Kasher and Yadlin, eliminating the principle of distinction between enemy combatants and civilians was the most efficient means of deterring attacks from non-state actors like Hamas and Hezbollah while guarding the lives of Israeli soldiers.
Asymmetrical warfare has been witnessed in theaters of war across the Muslim world, leaving tens of thousands of civilians dead in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gaza Strip. The strategy was formalized in the Dahiya district of southern Beirut in 2006, when the Israeli military flattened hundreds of civilian structures and homes to supposedly punish Hezbollah for its capturing of two Israeli soldiers.
From the ashes of the Israeli carpet bombing campaign emerged the “Dahiya Doctrine,” a term coined by an Israeli general responsible for directing the war on Lebanon in 2006. “IDF Northern Command Chief Gadi Eisenkot uttered clear words that essentially mean the following,” wrote Israeli journalist Yaron London, who had just interviewed the general. “In the next clash with Hezbollah we won’t bother to hunt for tens of thousands of rocket launchers and we won’t spill our soldiers’ blood in attempts to overtake fortified Hizbullah positions. Rather, we shall destroy Lebanon and won’t be deterred by the protests of the ‘world.’” In a single paragraph, London neatly encapsulated the logic of state terror.
While Israel has sought to insulate itself from the legal ramifications of its attacks on civilian life by deploying elaborate propaganda and intellectual sophistry (witness the country’s frantic campaign to discredit the Goldstone Report), and the United States has casually dismissed allegations of war crimes as any swaggering superpower would (after a US airstrike killed scores of Afghan civilians, former US CENTCOM chief David Petraeus baselessly claimed that Afghan parents had deliberately burned their children alive to increase the death toll), the online Islamophobes who inspired Breivik tacitly accept the reality of Israeli and American state terror. And they like it. Indeed, American Islamophobes derive frightening levels of ecstasy from the violence inflicted by the armed forces against Muslim civilians.
Blumenthal notes that “state terror” and “asymmetric warfare” has been perfected by extremists the mainstream establishment in America and Israel and accepted unquestioningly by fringe elements the vast majority of citizenry. Killing civilians has become so much a part of the norm and we have internalized it to such a great extent that we don’t even recognize it as inherently wrong any more. This is clearly reflected in the Gallup poll.
* * * * *
On the relative irrelevance of Al-Qaeda’s violence, see here where Glenn Greenwald correctly comments on “the puny, broken, absurd state of Al Qaeda.” As for America being a hyper-ultra-mega-super power that wages so much war on so many different fronts that it may have set a new standard for all of history, check out this article here. And of course, there’s this from Prof. Stephen Walt showing the great imbalance in civilian deaths between the two sides.
Naturally, terrorism in the minds of most Americans is by definition violence committed by Muslims (see here).
As I stated before, I will include a more in-depth discussion of this poll on some other day.
Update I: I published a follow-up article here.