Saturday, May 9, 2015

Cultural Sensitivity and the War Against Terror

We Americans pride ourselves on our cultural sensitivity. We would rather denounce Pamela Geller than condemn the jihadis who want to kill her.

Recently, many important writers refused to honor Charlie Hebdo because they believed that drawing a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed was completely beyond the pale.

Following the lead of an American president who declared in Cairo that the future does not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam, these intellectuals insist that no one should ever hurt the feelings of Muslims… or of any other disadvantaged or oppressed group.

When these groups commit acts of violence, the pusillanimous left is quick to explain that they are legitimate acts of political rebellion. The only real criminals are the agents of oppression, the police. One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

College students apparently have nothing better to do with their time than to put up trigger warnings, lest the delicate sensibilities of their friends and colleagues be hurt by a discouraging or disparaging word.

Clearly, the enemies of free speech have gained a foothold in America.

Some Americans believe that sensitivity will help us to win the war against Islamist terror. As you know, good peace-living Muslims become terrorists because privileged white Westerners insult their religion.

Even some members of the military hope that sensitivity will help us to win the hearts and minds of Muslims.

David French summarizes the rationale for this attitude:

Those who argue against publishing Mohammed cartoons — like the ones featured in Pamela Geller’s now-famous “Draw Mohammed” contest — often claim that the cartoons don’t just provoke terror, they also alienate Muslim friends and allies. Thus, even if one wishes to be defiant in the face of jihadist aggression, publishing the cartoons is still foolish because of the effect on our friends.

For example, writing in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo killings, Gregory Aftandilian, a senior fellow for the Middle East at the Center for National Policy, wrote that “the decision [to publish Mohammed cartoons] is counter-productive to the fight against Islamist extremists, as such depictions alienate many mainstream Muslims — the very allies we need to discredit the extremist ideologies of ISIL and Al-Qaeda.” Responding to Geller, Haroon Moghul, a fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understandings, claimed that Mohammed cartoons “alienate Muslims, who are American citizens and often first in line to report planned terrorist attacks.”

The America media quivers in fear when it comes to discussing Islam. French continues:

No western combatant in the history of the Middle East warfare has worked harder to be sensitive and responsive to cultural and religious concerns than America and its NATO allies. Our leaders compliment Islam at every opportunity. Our soldiers are deluged with cultural-training sessions that go beyond extolling the virtues of Middle Eastern culture to downplaying or denying its many flaws – providing a distorted picture of reality. Our mainstream media is far more careful to avoid offending Muslims than any other religious group in American or European life. Their only regret is that they can’t do the impossible — they can’t browbeat everyone in the United States into perfect, politically correct compliance.

Cultural sensitivity is promoted as a winning tactic in the war on terror.

And yet, it is the reason why we withdrew from Iraq. It is the reason why we have been trying to extricate ourselves from Afghanistan. It is the reason why we have refused to take sides in Syria.

How’s it working out?

Not very well, French explains. It’s making us look weak and cowardly:

In a world where strength matters, our incredible insistence on sensitivity is often seen as head-scratchingly weak. As Bing West has ably written, the Surge turned the corner in Iraq when local allies realized that we were the “strongest tribe,” not the most sensitive tribe.

For having spent time in Iraq himself, French can share an observation about how cultural sensitivity costs lives during a war:

Local tribal leaders provided reliable intelligence about the meeting time and location of a particularly deadly terrorist cell. The catch? The cell met in a local mosque, during Friday prayers, and its leader just happened to be the imam. They begged us to raid the mosque. They pleaded with us strike the terrorists who had killed so many villagers and made their lives a living hell. But we couldn’t do it. Permission denied. So the cell kept meeting, and kept planting deadly IEDs, and was finally wiped out only when our soldiers were ambushed from the mosque — triggering a more than day-long firefight that destroyed much of the village. Our sensitivity cost lives.

He concludes:

Abandoning the Kurds until ISIS was on the outskirts of Erbil is far more dangerous than ten thousand Mohammad cartoons. Our precipitous withdrawal from Iraq alienated potential allies — driving them straight into Iran’s arms — far more than did Terry Jones (or anyone else) burning a Koran. Did we send a message of sensitivity or stupidity when we armed Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government, then suspended support for the el-Sisi regime, a stalwart enemy of jihad?

Of course, there are other ways to deal with homicidal Muslim fanatics. Witness what is going on in China.

Recall that after China suffered several terrorist attacks, it responded by instituting a series of repressive policies.

China says foreign religious ideas — often propagated over the Internet— have corrupted the people of Xinjiang, promoting fundamentalist Saudi Arabian Wahhabi Islam and turning some of them towards terrorism in pursuit of separatist goals. It also blames a radical Islamist Uighur group — said to be based in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areasand to have links to al-Qaeda — for a recent upsurge in violence. In March, a gruesome knife attack at a train station in the city of Kunming left 33 people dead, while in May, a bomb attack on a street market in Urumqi killed 43 others.

In September, for example, Chinese authorities decided to ban Ramadan:

China’s campaign against separatism and terrorism in its mainly Muslim west has now become an all-out war on conservative Islam, residents here say.

Throughout Ramadan, police intensified a campaign of house-to-house searches, looking for books or clothing that betray “conservative” religious belief among the region’s ethnic Uighurs: women wearing veils were widely detained, and many young men arrested on the slightest pretext, residents say. Students and civil servants were forced to eat instead of fasting, and work or attend classes instead of attending Friday prayers.

Reporters and commentators, in the Washington Post and other media outlets have declared that this repression was breeding resentment and rebellion.

Of course, this same crowd confidently predicted that the Tiananmen massacre in 1989 was going to provoke a revolution against the ruling Communist party.

Now, Chinese authorities are attempting to forestall the movement toward jihad by forcing Muslim-owned business in Xinjiang to sell alcohol.

Before a Muslim community gets into Jihad mode, the first thing they do is call on all Muslims to repent from alcohol, pork and tobacco….

What the west needs to learn, and they will, slowly, is that Islam is the antithesis to western ethics: the more you have repentant Muslims, the more they are prone to violence while in the Judeo-Christian ethics, it is usually that the repentant gives peace and also finds peace.

The Shoebts explain that this difference helps us to understand the latest Chinese attempt to crack down on radical Islam:

So in China, unlike the west, they get it. The Chinese authorities launched a series of “strike hard” campaigns to weaken the hold of the drug of Islam in China’s western region. So they have ordered Muslim shopkeepers and restaurant owners in its troubled Xinjiang region to sell alcohol and cigarettes, and even promote them in “eye-catching displays,” as Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported. Alcohol and tobacco, while it is a problem, to the Chinese is the lesser of the two evils. So now establishments that failed to comply were swiftly dealt with and were threatened with closure and their owners with prosecution.

Government employees and children are also barred from attending mosques, lest they consume the drug [of radical Islam] and are even prohibited from observing the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. And in many places, women have been barred from wearing Hijabs and the men are discouraged from growing long beards.

The Shoebats predict that if America and the West become increasingly under attack by Muslim extremists, similar methods will arrive on our shores:

The Muslims in China prove one thing, that certain situations require and demand taking certain measures. Measures that the U.S. would not consider, until of course, Muslim violence escalates.

There is no doubt that the west will eventually take drastic measures as we see in China. It was Benjamin Franklin who once said: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” yet Obama wants us to believe that a pound of cure is worth the ounce of Muslim contribution to western society.


Chris Mallory said...

"We would rather denounce Pamela Geller than condemn the jihadis who want to kill her."

America would be better off condemning both. Geller and the Muslims are both nutcases.

A Christian should have nothing to do with Geller's shows or the "artwork". Jesus Christ commands us thusly: "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." Matthew 7:12. These shows do nothing to Glorify Christ or bring people to a saving knowledge of his grace. They are only about enriching Geller.

Sam L. said...

Chris, is murdering people more or less heinous that drawing pictures of Mohammed?

Ares Olympus said...

re: So in China, unlike the west, they get it. The Chinese authorities launched a series of “strike hard” campaigns to weaken the hold of the drug of Islam in China’s western region. So they have ordered Muslim shopkeepers and restaurant owners in its troubled Xinjiang region to sell alcohol and cigarettes, and even promote them in “eye-catching displays,” as Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported. Alcohol and tobacco, while it is a problem, to the Chinese is the lesser of the two evils. So now establishments that failed to comply were swiftly dealt with and were threatened with closure and their owners with prosecution.

This is an interesting story, and shows when "state authoritarianism" is necessary, whether or not it helps reduce "religious fundamentalism" I don't know.

I remember recently some Muslim Cabbies in Minneapolis wanted to refuse to take people with alcohol or dogs(!?).
A large number of taxi drivers in the area of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport are Muslim Somali immigrants. Many say they feel the faith's ban on alcohol consumption includes transporting anyone carrying it.

The new rules cover any driver who refuses a ride for unwarranted reasons, including those who refuse to take short-haul passengers in favor of more lucrative longer trips. They can still refuse fares for certain reasons, including threats to their safety.

Under the new regulations a first offense would result in a 30-day cab license suspension and a second in a two-year taxi license revocation.

The current penalty only requires that cab drivers who refuse a fare to go back to the end of the taxi queue, costing them time and money.

Its also to issues of "Pharmacists To Refuse Birth Control Because Of Religion"
The six states permitting refusal are Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri and South Dakota. The five states where the law is broadly worded include: Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maine and Tennessee.

A doctor prescribes birth control for a variety of medical reasons. It’s not always about preventing births. Those suffering from severe menstrual cramping, endometriosis and ovarian cysts often benefit and find relief when on the pill. Additionally, it is legal to take birth control for the sole purpose of not getting pregnant and it’s abhorrent that a judgmental pharmacist can impose a biased religious belief and deny anyone a medication prescribed by a doctor. Often, the pharmacists who refuse to provide contraception also refuse to help a customer find a willing pharmacy.

Ares Olympus said...

re: The Shoebats predict that if America and the West become increasingly under attack by Muslim extremists, similar methods will arrive on our shores.

There does seem to be governmental attention to the problem of "home grown" terrorists, including a Minnesota connection with our large Somali immigrant population.

It confirms for me that it seems better to consider this as a "mental illness" problem. Community level intervention is the first key, starting with the assumption that we're all on the same side.

Who knows, perhaps Muslim leaders might start their own "desensitization" process with their youth, identifying those who can't handle "dishonor" and show them how real men act in the face of shame.
A delegation from the state will travel to Washington next week to be part of a summit on countering violent extremism. The goal is to find ways to engage at-risk communities and to stop extremists from recruiting for terror groups. U.S. Attorney Andy Luger is spearheading the effort.
Minnesota is home to the largest Somali population in the country. It’s because of that distinction the Twin Cities is part of a pilot program, along with LA and Boston, aimed at turning around the cycle of recruitment for terror organizations overseas.

“It’s a good news, bad news situation,” Luger said. “The good news is we’re getting the attention we need and the focus and resources. The bad news is we need the resources.”

At the summit, Luger will present a two-part program to attendees. First, he advocates for community intervention teams so the Somali community has someone to turn to when they spot early warning signs of radicalization.

“The goal there is the earliest signs — community leaders, religious leaders can work with the young man or woman so it never gets to a law enforcement level,” Luger said. “We never hear about it and that would be a real goal.”

The second part of the program is to address the root cause of radicalization by bringing job opportunities, mentors and youth programs to young Somalis.

“Some of the basic crime prevention efforts that have been successful elsewhere, we’re going to bring to this community,” Luger said.

The program was developed with input from the community and fostered by the ongoing relationships between the community and law enforcement.

Luger recognizes there is a long road ahead, but says this summit is the first step towards keeping Somali youth engaged at making a positive impact here in Minnesota.

”We have to turn this around, it’s a problem in our community,” he said. “It appeared in 2007, 2008. It’s back again and we want to break the cycle so we’re not back again in a few years.”

Ares Olympus said...

On the topic of my comment here's a September 2014 12-minute interview/discussion with U.S. Attorney Andy Luger from a Somali YouTube channel (not english for first 1:34).

Looks like there are many people with the interviewer name, but I found a local article about him. He sounds like just the right person at the right time to help bridge Somali immigrants to their new land.

So his main issue must be to maintain himself as a voice of integrity, especially if he can make a living at this work.
March 31, 2013

A well-known face to Somali television viewers in Minnesota, Liban Hussein brings the community news stories unfolding both in the Twin Cities and in the war-torn Somalia he fled decades ago.

Hussein’s been hosting weekly “Mai TV,” a Somali-speaking program on Minneapolis Television Network (MTN), aired at 9:00 p.m. Fridays on channel 16.

He’s done it for 10 years — and without pay.

For the most part, Hussein serves as the cameraman, editor and presenter of the programs he releases.

“It’s a lot of work to do what I do,” he said, “but when I see the final product, I forget how hard the work is.”

Hussein plans to establish a large SNTV studio in Minneapolis, which will function as the center of program production in North America. He’s working on a fundraising event to raise money to rent a space and buy equipment for the studio.

“This is going to be a great project, a bridge that connects between Somalia and the Somali diaspora in North America,” Hussein said. “I ask that Minnesota communities and the Somali government support the project.”

Dennis said...

With all the talk about cultural sensitivity it seems that it only applies to other cultures, but not to our own. Unless one is saying that there is not a unique American culture.
One only has to spend just a small amount of time researching history of this country and its foundation to know that there is a unique American culture built on a unique set of freedoms and responsibilities that exist nowhere else on Earth. One of the most unique things about us is our Constitution and its enumerated rights. In the Bill of Rights we have one that stands as the true foundation of our uniqueness, the First amendment and its emphasis on freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the free exercise thereof, freedom of the press and the right to peaceable assemble.
Knowing this I then wonder why we have a certain segment of people who become all excited by what they call provocative speech and drawings when it applies to Islam and have no qualm when it applies to Jews, Christians, conservatives or others they "feel" are not like them? If I was more cynical it would seem a bigoted response no matter the justifications utilized especially since those very same provocations are utilized to marginalize others. Where is the equality of treating those who may disagree with others?
Having travel to many countries representing the United States I was always reminded how unique we actually are in how we are citizens vice being subjects. That does not mean that I was not aware of the cultures of the various countries I was in. Always tried to observe the cultural mores that were applicable. It is their culture and I was a guest. part of my job was to create a favorable impression of Americans and make friends.
It would seem that for many Americans it is our responsibility to be aware of theirs and they are not required to be aware of ours. Point in fact some seem to think we need to kowtow to theirs in our country. We are to accept their language use and not expect them to know ours. A requirement if one is expected to know what is going on and to be a true citizen. How can one make informed decisions that affect us all if one does not understand the culture and language?
This country was built on the idea of a "melting pot" and not on the idea of a coat of many cultures defined by a hyphen. Unlike many culture we are desirous of inculcating the best from everyone who wants to be an American. A fine "stew" that has been growing more favorable with each added ingredient. We are Americans first and everything after that is secondary.
Sam L,
Nicely stated. The desire to make murder and free speech equivalent. Sadly too many people, for one reason or other, fail to understand the difference.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Thoughts are not things. Thoughts become things, but that requires doing -- the action of life. In the West, we have traditionally protected thought (as long as it doesn't question ideological Climate Change) and held people accountable for their actions. As Stuart points out regularly, this standard is being challenged as people are ostracized for their thoughts, while their actions or non-actions are observed (in the case of self-congratulatory environmentalism). Thusly, we condemn the thinker who refuses to conform -- previously considered a heroic action in defying convention, like burning a bra -- so the monolithic intelligentsia can feel better while shopping for organic toothpaste at Trader Joe's, driving a Prius and practicing tantric sex. Such people are definitionally sensitive, claim to be cultured and are intolerant as hell in their own social practices... all the while feeding the organ of their "open mind." It's enough to make one vomit.