So, religions do not only matter as generators of rituals and doctrines, they also matter in the way they deeply influence moral sensibilities, attitudes to time, ways of looking at the world; and do so even without regular attendance to the rituals or strong adherence to doctrines. The sensibilities, temporal orientations and other framings can remain after belief and participation has departed.…Of the existing civilisations sharing this planet, only one is prominently having an extended temper tantrum about modernity; an extended temper tantrum with a distinctly homicidal edge.
The West essentially invented modernity, Japan has long since embraced it; China et al are very much up for it (the Beijing regime would just like to indigenise a congenial-to-it version); Russia et al ditto; Latin America is trying to get there (despite an unfortunate institutional legacy and outbreaks of really bad policy ideas); sub-Saharan Africa is struggling under bad boundaries and poor institutions but is also trying.
It is only Islam that is producing significant murderous insurgencies against modernity (and especially against the egalitarian cosmopolitanism which is such a strong strain within modernity--there is nothing like attacking schools, universities, cafes, soccer matches, rock concerts, along with beheadings, crucifixions and killing bloggers while re-introducing slavery to say "we hate modernity").…One needs to be aware the Salafism comes in various flavours (quietist, activist, jihadi) which overlap with Saudi Wahhabism but are not identical (pdf). Moreover, its "quietist" tradition is quite hostile (pdf) to Islamism (especially its takfiri tendencies) and its prioritisation of political engagement. While Islamism--political Islam--has Salafist versions. Islamism also comes out of the later C19th but does not reach much in the way of organised form until the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928. This confusing welter of responses is itself a sign of the difficulties modernity poses for Islam as religion and as a source of normative framings.
…A reasonable estimate for Islamists is about 10-15% of Muslims. There are about 1.6bn Muslims, so that suggests 160m to 240m Islamists (most of whom are Salafis, Wahhabis or Deobandis). Thus, Christian revivalist movements have considerably more adherents than Muslim revivalist movements (revivalism whether as purification or as political activism). But the Christian revivalism goes largely unremarked and un-newsworthy because Christian revivalism does not have remotely the homicidal edge Islamic revivalism does. For what one is attempting to return to, makes a difference.…The jihadis are the most dramatic manifestation of the tension between Islam and modernity, yet they are far from the only manifestation thereof. The grounding of morality so thoroughly in revelation creates a profound gulf between believers and non-believers; between those who accept the revelations which are the only true grounding of moral judgement and those who do not. This is the basis of an Islamic supremacism or triumphalism that has seeped into the moral sensibilities of Muslims over the centuries. It is why, for example, there is so much persecution of religious minorities across the Muslim world; persecution which follows recurring patterns.
Attitudes that do not magically disappear simply by migrating to the West. Particularly when migration to the West cuts people off from the various evolved mechanisms for softening the harsher elements of Islam.…The US and Australia are unlikely to experience similar problems because their Muslim minorities are less than 2% of the population: at that level, it is rational for Muslim communities to cooperate with local security forces. There are still the problem of "lone wolf" attacks, as there is significant jihadi social media activity aimed as recruiting and grooming such. But, as the US in particular already has a home-grown mass shooter problem, that is a comparatively minor law-and-order issue.
Once Muslim minorities start heading towards 10% of the population, then enclave problems are much more likely to develop and cooperation with security forces is likely to be much patchier and resistance to the agents of the state is likely to develop. Accepting a Muslim minority of that sort of size is also, effectively, a decision to export one's Jews.…The notion that there are no issues specific to Muslim migration is nonsense on stilts. Of course there are: it is very different, religiously-defined civilisation with very different presumptions and framings. Yelling "racism" does not change that, although it does close down debate: so is precisely the sort of shouting polarising that is not in any way helpful.
No, it is not merely a matter of Islamic doctrine, though that has plenty of problematic aspects. It is also the effects of centuries (indeed, over a millennium) of Islamic doctrine, ritual and teaching on the moral sensibilities and framings, the cosmological outlook, of Muslims, of people of Muslim heritage: the notion that their religious identity is at once terribly important to people of Muslim heritage yet has no problematic content is nonsense--it is turning people into abstractions for moral points-scoring between Westerners.
As the experiences of Europe in its various difficulties with Muslim migrants and migrant communities demonstrate, you cannot just wish that heritage away and shouting at people because you don't wish it to be so may be satisfyingly childish but does not change anything except to make the development of intelligent, well-grounded responses that much harder and leave far more ground for political entrepreneurs to garner support from frustrated, concerned and angry voters left with nowhere else to go.
Even if a majority of Muslims are not supremacists there are still good reasons to take the matter seriously. The search for identity and meaning are very powerful human motivations:
It's a commonplace to anyone who's studied the rise of fascism, of which Islamofascism is the most recent variety. The main problem with democratic capitalism is that it's so successful, and therefore very boring. A generation or two of European intellectuals bemoaned the great triumph of science and industry, which they portrayed as relentlessly stifling the human soul, burying us under a hill of material things.This problem is likely to be with us for a long time. Military action may be appropriate at some points, aiding others such as the Kurds may also help. Our screening process needs meaningful improvement:
The 20th-century fascists were largely secular, substituting their own rituals for traditional religious ones; Islamofascism turns it around, substituting religious rituals and beliefs for the largely secular ones that defined the "modern world."
Our screening system is badly broken, and we have an administration that is more concerned with enforcing political correctness than protecting the American people. We know that terrorists use social media to spread propaganda, recruit operatives and plan attacks. Yet MSNBC reports that in 2011, officials in the Department of Homeland Security proposed a policy of scouring social media of visa applicants to look for terrorist ties. The proposal went through a year-long review and was about to be issued as official policy — when it was quashed by senior officials.
According to a retired DHS employee, efforts to possibly prevent attacks were thwarted:
During my 13 years at the Department of Homeland Security, I worked tirelessly to identify and prevent terrorism in the United States. As a recognized “founding member” of DHS, it was among my responsibilities to raise concern, not only about the individuals primed for imminent attack, but about the networks and ideological support that makes those terrorist attacks possible.
I investigated numerous groups such as the Deobandi Movement, Tablighi Jamaat, and al Huda as their members traveled into and out of the United States in the course of my work. Many were traveling on the visa waiver program, which minimizes the checks and balances due to agreements with the countries involved. But the scrutiny we were authorized to apply was having results. This investigation could possibly have prevented the San Bernardino jihadist attack by identifying its perpetrators, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, based on their associations with these groups.
Almost a year into this investigation, it was halted by the State Department and the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. They not only stopped us from connecting more dots, the records of our targets were deleted from the shared DHS database. The combination of Farook’s involvement with the Dar Al Uloom Al Islamiyah Mosque and Malik’s attendance at al Huda would have indicated, at minimum, an urgent need for comprehensive screening. Instead, Malik was able to avoid serious vetting upon entering the United States on a fiancé visa and more than a dozen Americans are dead as a result.
The investigation was not stopped because it was ineffective, it was stopped because the Administration told us the civil rights of the foreign nationals we were investigating could be violated. When did foreign nationals gain civil rights in the United States, especially when they are associated with groups we already know are involved in terrorist activity? Based on what I have seen in the Department of Homeland Security, I no longer have the confidence this administration can adequately vet or screen refugees or immigrants from Islamic countries.
That same retired employee, Philip Haney, provided a very good interview at The Daily Caller:
With nowhere else to turn, he went to Congress to see if they would listen. He became a “whistleblower” facing further consequences and investigations. Consequences he promises to tell later. He is optimistic that investigations in the House and Senate appear poised to be launched, and he stands ready to help in any way he can to protect this nation, and take the handcuffs off law enforcement.
Asked whether the motivation to stop his work was political correctness or something more nefarious, Haney said, “I think the players are pretty obvious at this point. Islamic-based influence groups definitely play a role in controlling the narrative. The administration side definitely plays a role in submitting to that narrative. And combined together they create a potent force that has shattered our ability to do our job.”
The administration and their supporters have complained about the irrational fear of terrorism voiced by some people in this country. I would suggest that if they really wanted to quell those fears that they should take their national security responsibilities seriously. Is that really asking too much?