The only chance Islamist terrorism has of defeating the West is exploiting our weakness.
So says David Goldman and his view is persuasive, to me at least. Surely, he is right to call out the Jews, including rabbis, who are excoriating Israel for defending itself in the recent Gaza war.
Hamas did everything in its power to force Israel to kill innocent civilians because it knew that some Jews would naturally sympathize with the victims, not the victors.
In that way, Islamists exploit Western weakness. What is our weakness? It consists in our humanity, our compassion, our love for our fellow human beings, our empathy.
Islamists are proud of the fact that they lack such delicate sensitivities. And they believe that, being more brutal, they are stronger.
Since 9/11 I have argued that the strategic plan of Islamist terrorism is to poison the Western soul with horror, by setting in motion atrocities too grim for the Western mind to bear….
At some point, the Western mind will say that it is easier to reconcile with these forces than to fight them. Since they know no fear, they become, in Western eyes, an invincible warrior.
Goldman is also at pains to point out, as he did in 2001 that today’s Islamist terrorist has more in common with yesterday’s Nazis than he does with yesterday’s Muslim conquerors:
This is not simply the brutality of the pagan world employed by the Romans with their mass crucifixions as much as it was by Muslim conquerors of the Middle Ages: it is a refined and exquisite sense of horror learned by modern Muslims from the Nazis, whose example inspired the Muslim Brotherhood as well as the Ba’ath Party. Strictly speaking, the Muslim Brotherhood is nothing more than the Arab-language wing of National Socialism, and movements like ISIS a more radical version of the same thing, something like Ernst Roehm’s Sturmabteilung.
We have seen this throughout, and most recently in Gaza, where Hamas used every means possible to maximize its own civilian casualties in order to horrify the world. Whatever the circumstances, one should not rejoice in the death of civilians, but it is necessary to harden our hearts against an enemy who detects weakness in our delicate sense of humanity.
In October of 2001, in the shadow of 9/11, Goldman expressed the same thought:
The West confronts not a throwback to medieval Islam, but a Westernized version of Islam transformed into a totalitarian political ideology. Although it draws upon Islamic sources and overlaps with some strains of Muslim belief, the ideology of Al-Qaeda has greater kinship with Nazism, another synthetic pagan religion, than with traditional Islam.
Like National Socialists, Islamists are driven by ideology. In particular they are enacting an ideology of destruction for the sake of destruction. Whether their motives are purely sadistic, as Goldman suggests, I will leave to others to decide.
As it happens, destruction for the sake of destruction reminds us of the agenda of the critical reading method called deconstruction. Of course, practitioners of deconstruction tend to limit themselves to texts, but the progenitor of this movement was a Nazi philosopher named Martin Heidegger. The French and English term deconstruction derives from Heidegger’s concept of Destruktion. Keep in mind, Heidegger joined the Nazi Party in Germany at time when the Storm Troopers of Ernst Rohm were beginning their pogroms against German Jews.
Goldman explained the difference between today’s Islamist terrorists and past Islamist conquerors. Being purely amoral Islamist terrorists have gotten beyond good and evil, to the point where they can show off their power, not by building anything, not by uniting peoples, not by creating community, but by destroying same.
In his words:
No traditional society destroyed for the pleasure of destruction; at least none of which we have had reports. The Islamic conquerors of the past raided for identifiable goals. They wished to rule new territories and bring new peoples under their sway. Whether greed or missionary zeal drove them on, let historians argue.
Al-Qaeda wants no territory, no conversions, no loot, no slaves. It wishes to destroy the West and happily will sacrifice millions of Muslim lives in order to do so.
Evil for its own sake becomes imaginable only when the Christian civilization of the West abandons Christianity and stares into the abyss of its own destruction.
Of course, Islamists do want the West to submit to Allah. They want to impose Shariah law on everyone. Their goal would seem to be the triumph of their faith… and yet, if Goldman is correct, and if the project is as nihilistic as he makes it out to be, Muslim civilization is dying out and believes that it can only save face by making the West’s victory Pyrrhic.
After all, if Islam conquered the West, it would have to produce. It would have to show that it could produce peace and prosperity. Thus, it makes more sense that it wants more to destroy than to conquer.