If one is going to go after sacred cows, one should really go after sacred cows. Most of the people in our society who get credit for "going after sacred cows" are just going after unfashionable ones. At least ones that are unfashionable in the circles they want to appeal to. We live in a world of iconodules posing as iconoclasts.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Politics and the Arabic Language

Musing a bit further on this article, particularly this section:

Next, our counterterror adviser evokes the perverse logic behind the administration’s recent decision to censor words offensive to Muslims (which I closely explored in this PJM article):
Nor do we describe our enemy as “jihadists” or “Islamists” because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community, and there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children.
Inasmuch as he is correct in the first clause of that sentence — “jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community” — he greatly errs in the latter clause, by projecting his own notions of what constitutes “holy,” “legitimate,” and “innocent” onto Islam. In Islam, such terms are often antithetical to the Judeo-Christian/Western understanding. Indeed, the institution of jihad, according to every authoritative Muslim book on Islamic jurisprudence, is nothing less than offensive warfare to spread Sharia law, a cause seen as both “legitimate” and “holy” in Islam. As for “innocence,” by simply being a non-Muslim infidel, one is already guilty in Islam. Brennan understands the definition of jihad; he just has no clue of its application. So he is left fumbling about with a square peg that simply refuses to pass through a round hole.
Until the recent "troubles" it wasn't just Islamic jurisprudence that properly understood what the term Jihad meant; it was universally understood throughout not just Islam but all cultures that had contact with Islam to mean warfare, specifically directed at non-Muslims or those declared heretics and thus deemed to be un-Islamic.

In recent times Muslim spokesmen working in conjunction with the usual suspects of PoMo intellectuals/pseudo-scholars and progressives have attempted to re-define the term. But one needs only to pick up any book from the previous era that even tangentially touches on the subject to see the term used in its proper historic meaning. As a student of ByzantinoRoman history I know this full well. Thus Ibrahim is actually wrong when he says, almost reflecting the thinking of Edward Said, that his "dual Middle-East/Western background gives me the advantage to understand both the Islamicate and American mindsets equally." Previous generations of Westerners also understood the term Jihad properly. The ethnocentric projection Ibrahim rightly condemns is actually a post-modern and multiculturalist phenomenon, and thus a rather recent innovation. This might seem like a minor quibble, but it's critical to our understanding of the problems we face.

It would be more proper to say that the word "Crusade" has transformed from its original meaning than it is to say "Jihad" has. After all, we have such things as "crusades for peace" and "The Billy Graham Crusade," neither of which involve mobilizing armies to recover1 lands from Islam by military means. Jihad has never ceased to mean what it means, however, up through the mobilization of Arabs to fight in Afghanistan against the Soviets and down through the present, though we are asked to believe otherwise. But we are told we cannot use the word "Crusade" because it is inflamatory, while also being instructed to re-conceive our understanding of calls for Jihad. This is a form of mental manipulation inflicted upon us not by our enemies, but by ourselves - or at any rate one wing of our own civilization.

And of course many young people, knowing little, having come of age in this era of degenerate pseudo-scholarship, educated by the instructors they have been educated, sincerely believe Jihad does not mean what it means. This is one means of intellectually disarming us, and leading people into accepting the received wisdom of progressivism on the sources and causes of this conflict, rather than connecting it to history. It helps open them to the conclusions of a Said or a Fisk or even their slightly-less-radical imitators: That we are to blame.

Redfining terms by those with an ideological axe to grind is almost invariably aimed at controling the thinking of others.

1Yes, recover: Crusades, aweful as many Crusaders behaved, were launched as counter-attacks. To call any but the 4th aggressive is akin to calling D-Day agressive. But, in this degenerate age, that history, however bad it was even told "straight," has been corrupted for ideological ends.

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Blogger MlR said...

The problem as I see it, Porphyrogenitus, is that we have running our society a bunch of people who have dominated political discourse in this country to a large extent by slowly but surely manipulating the traditionally understood meanings of words and ideologies.

They are now attempting, in a much shorter time frame, to pull many of the same rhetorical and linguisitc cons with the word jihad. The same is truth regarding their attempts to rewrite and massage, with the aid of similar minded people within the Islamic world itself, Islamic theology to make it more Western/secular friendly.

Unfortunately, they are entirely out of their depths, because as you note, it is extremely difficult to carry out such a whitewash in the face of such great historical precedences, and widespread/eager contemporary audiences. In the worst cases, they find themselves in theologic debates (if you can even call it that) with fundamentalist muslims operating on their 'home territory' so to speak, who have no compunctions about referring directly to unambiguous primary texts. And, the more observant among them, wonder why the fundamentalists seem to get the upper hand.

May 30, 2010 at 8:45 PM  
Blogger MlR said...

How's the Linclon quote go go, "you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the some time, but not all the people all of the time?" Or something like that?

Well, it's even harder to fool anyone when you have nothing but a cursory, and self-interested knowledge of a topic, while your opponent literally lives by it.

I enjoyed your and TGGP's recent posts at Mencius's place. Cheers.

May 30, 2010 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

I basically agree with the first part of your first comment. I hope the 2nd part is true, but while it's acually fairy easy to at least momentarily convince most people of this, the sad thing is that a fair proportion of them (ones who tend left without being part of the movement, just sort of people who think it's what nice people support while the other side is nasty) will wake up the next morning and the next time you talk to them it's like the conversation never happened; you need to roll the boulder up the hill again and they'll never actually *do* anything; they'll just say yeah, they see your point, they understand. They might revert to the shopworn "everybody does it" but when you convince them that one side has the preponderance of it, and it is the very side that claims to be the good guys, above all that, the better sort of people, and how invidious it is, they'll nod and say they'll think about it...then promptly return to their simple lives and forget...For-get, to quote Officer Barbrady.

As for the other part of the potential majority of people who recognize this, the other part of the 70% of the population that holds one set of views, and actually the biggest chunk of that 70% of the population that supports this or that and is contrary to Progressivism, Transnational or otherwise, and is able to get irate over it, ~40% of the country, I am unfortunately doubtful they'll be really committed to the sustained effort necessary, though completely within their power, to do what the 10-plus-20, the 30% of the country that is part of The Movement (of which one third, 10% of the country, are fully committed and fully understand), in undergoing the long march that will be necessary to get their way.

They'll certainly...probably (depending on what happens to the voter rolls over the next couple years) win some elections and thus blow off their steam, but probably then go back to sleep like they do each time, convincing they've finally achieved something by changing who is in this or that elective office.

We'll see; I never give up hope. But on the other hand my fading hopes that conventional poltics and using the tools of protest and issue-outrage mobilization will make any real difference in the end has both made me more reactionary over time and less willing to do much, since I understand what would *probably* be necessary to really roll this back (a purge of the civil service, universities, and K-12 education, and not necessarily a gentle one, for *one* - it's possible to build alternative institutions; media/information, but it's also possible for the Enlightened Progressives to do such things as they aim to do in he proposed/outlined new regulations; yes, they probably won't get more than a couple of slices of that loaf this time, as with health care {where they actually got more than a couple slices, since, as those who know understand, as long as this is in place and not repealed, it ultimately leads to the whole loaf}, but if they get key slices and remain committed to the cause in a way "we" really aren't, the rest can follow.

Of course in the end the whole house of cards comes crashing down, and the effect will be worse the longer this process is allowed to unfold. Thus there is something to MM's idea of letting the USG become what it wants to become...sooner the better. I don't like that conclusion, but I have nothing better to offer.

June 1, 2010 at 8:18 PM  
Blogger Porphyrogenitus said...

Bill Whittle does - as he says it's really a very simple matter. MM is both right and wrong in a sense, and so is Bill Whittle, the committed democratic restorationist who insists all we have to do is go to the polls and vote in the right people and out the wrong people. Even as horribly gerrimandered as many districts are, and as corrupt as some already are, a movement that basically boils down to 30% of the country couldn't resist the electorial power of the 70%, or even 60% that opposes them - if that 70% or 60% was as committed as they are, or at *least* as committed as the people who voted in Harding/Coollage and a "Return to Normalcy" would. The 70-60% could elect enough people to change any law necessary, redirect any funds necessary, choke off grant support for any person, NGO, or institution necessary and re-direct the funding elsewhere, put the boot on the other neck as it were if they had to.

But the "nasty party," the nasty people are ultimately too nice to do to the opposition what it has done over time to the country and theirby the world (irony of ironies, all is irony...well, not really, because the Progressive Movement is master of projecting its methods and motivations onto it's opponents, because it's what they know and do, and fearing what the nasty people might do if the nasty people were ever permitted to be fully in power instead of simply in office, because it is exactly what they themselves have done - as their own "internal" manuals/texts/theorists lay out rather candidly but the majority of the country, or at least that 20-30% "Forget...for-get" squish, refuses to really understand the implications of, as they are intended to; heck even the 20-of-the-30 that forms the core of The Movement practices doublethink on this. As for the "committed" 40% that opposes the movement? They claim to understand and oppose the implications of these manuals/texts/theorists...but if they reall did they would act with more sustained determination of their own, rather than flashes in darkness).

Btw, this Iowahawk post comes to mind; I mean, even most of the 40% undersand the party we back is a sham-party, a sham-opposition, hasn't been a really effective means of doing or undoing, but in the end what will be done about it?

Some one tell me. I still search for a solution that is not itself...problematic.

June 1, 2010 at 8:18 PM  

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