Bottoming Out: the Commonest Manifesto
posted at 2:01 am on September 10, 2010 by Dafydd ab Hugh
The title refers to three “bottoms” we may be about to reach almost simultaneously, involving the Koran-burning threatened for Saturday, September 11th, 2010; the “Ground Zero Mosque” (GZM) threatened for next September 11th, 2011; and what I call the Zeroth Principle of Real Reality:
- Many on both sides the aisle have described the threat by Rev. Terry Jones of the Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, to burn Korans during a self-proclaimed “International Burn a Koran Day” as a “bottom” of anti-Moslem bigotry and insensitivity; but is it really? Or does it mark the bottom of our willingness to be “sensitive” to Moslem feelings, even when those feelings are backed by blatant extortion and threats?
- On another front, when (if ever) do we reach the bottom of our own deeply held principles, such as religious tolerance and property rights, when actual national and cultural survival is at stake? Must we, as Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX, 91%) demands, follow our principles even to the point of extinction?
- Finally, we have the root-bottom axiom from which all other axioms, principles, and fundamental rights arise… the Zeroth Principle: The people will do what they must, no matter what law, religion, or creed demands, to survive as a people. Have we already reached that point, or is it far enough in the future that we needn’t worry about the cultural imperative just yet?
Until we confront these three bottoms, we’re just flibbertigibbets and whirligigs in the hurricane of the war against radical Islamism. So let’s take a look.
Nota bene: After mostly writing this post, I learnt that a “deal” was — or was not — cut to cancel the Koran burning in exchange for moving the GZM to… well, somewhere else: Rev. Terry Jones of the Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, who had threatened to burn the Korans, says “was;” the imam of the GZM, Feisal Abdul Rauf, says “was not.”
At first, I thought this tossed the entire post into a cockeyed hat; but then I reflected that, apart from the uncertainty of whether the deal is on or off, everything I have to say about it is universal and timeless (as always!)… so I have no reason not to plough right ahead. Excelsior!
In response to Rev. Jones vow (or threat) to lead a Koran-burning on Saturday, Moslems across the world have vowed to go on a mass killing spree; already, they’re burning American flags and chanting “Death to Christians!” in anticipation of a delicious round of international riot and ruin. President Barack H. Obama is alternately begging and ordering Jones to call it off (which he may or may not have done). Even Gen. David Petraeus chimed in, warning that the burning could result in our troops being attacked.
As to the latter, it’s a 100% certainty: After such a Koran burning, Moslem insurgents will attack our troops. But of course, it’s also a 100% certainty that if the burning is called off — Moslem insurgents will attack our troops. So it goes.
Shouldn’t we stop the Koranic holocause, somehow prevent Rev. Jones from disposing of his church’s private property via the incinerator? (Hm, what would Ron Paul say?) Or even if such interdiction is too destructive of our First Amendment, shouldn’t we at least redouble our efforts to persuade Jones to forbear, deal or no deal?
Before answering that question, let’s think a second and a third time; there are more reprecussions, no matter what path we choose, than the few we’re encouraged to obsess upon to the exclusion of all others. And let’s start with…
We’re told “we” can’t burn Korans — or even allow our soldiers to carry personal Bibles into Afghanistan — for fear Moslems will be offended. When offended, they lash out with bloodthirsty savagery, killing innocents. (The Bibles were burnt instead — burnt by American “military officials;” religious sensitivity, thy name is irony!)
But what behavior doesn’t cause Moslems to lash out and kill innocents? They riot, loot, slaughter, and burn in response to everything America, Israel, and the West do — from supporting freedom; to caricaturing some unnamed imam with a bomb for a turban; to allowing military guards at Guantanamo to touch the Koran with their “unclean” hands; to the continued existence of Jews; to attempts to end chattel slavery in Sudan; to allowing unshrouded females and schooling for girls; to the presence of Westerners on the “sacred” soil of Saudi Arabia; to the refusal of the West to “return” Palestine, al-Andaluz, Vienna, England, Africa, Europe, Asia, and eventually South America to the rightful grasp of the ummah; to Salman Rushdie writing the Satanic Verses; and to the presence of El Al at the Los Angeles International Airport. It all provokes the same violent reaction, including (inter alia) mass murders of Christians, Jews, and imperfectly conforming fellow Moslems. (See also this Emo Phillips routine, especially starting around 2:35.)
For that matter, if America were to crawl on its hands and knees and lick Ayatollah Khamenei’s and Ayman Zawahiri’s sandal straps, that too would spark an orgy of violence and slaughter. In fact, that would be the quickest route, since the real Moslem motivation for such rapine and atrocity is their perception that they are the strong horse, while the West is the weak horse; any action on our part that encourages this belief will (you guessed it) lead to riots and butchery of Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Animists, wishy-washy Moslems, and the like.
Do we not finally comprehend, at some point in this crisis, that Moslem “outrage” is a calculated political tactic deliberately ginned up by Moslem leaders to pressure the West to make concession after concession? It is a form of Dawa, “soft jihad,” playing upon our liberal guilt and conservative principles to gain for radical Islamism much of what they demand, without the radicals having to confront real armies that can actually obliterate them. When that revelation finally sinks in throughout the American people and their counterparts in the rest of the West, we shall abruptly find the bottom of our “sensitivity” to Moslems’ perpeturally wounded feelings.
And I think we’re just about there, judging from the polling on the so-called Ground Zero Mosque (GZM).
Freedom of religion and other farces
But to heck with Moslem sensitivity, which we all agree borders on hysteria. What about our own deep principles, such as “religious tolerance,” upon which our country was founded (according to President Obama)? Here, he says it directly:
Obama told ABC’s “Good Morning America” in an interview aired Thursday that he hopes the Rev. Terry Jones of Florida listens to the pleas of people who have asked him to call off the plan. The president called it a “stunt.”
“If he’s listening, I hope he understands that what he’s proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans,” Obama said. “That this country has been built on the notion of freedom and religious tolerance.”
Should such religious tolerance be absolute? If so, it would be the only fundamental right or deeply held tenet that is.
Contrariwise, America was not founded on generic religious tolerance; many American colonies had colonial churches and were pretty intolerant towards other sects; and many retained them as state churches, with special privileges including state monetary support, after the American revolution. And in any event, even today, we certainly do not blindly support “absolute religious tolerance”: We outlaw American Indian peyote rituals, religously based child abuse (beatings, clitorectomies, refusal of medical care, child rape), and of course, human sacrifice. Or animal sacrifice, for that matter.
What America was actually founded upon was religious freedom, among others; and those two, freedom and tolerance, can easily be antithetical. In particular, we cannot tolerate religion (radical Islamism) that cannot tolerate freedom.
This paradox is one specific instance of the the great fallacy of tolerance: You cannot, in the name of tolerance, tolerate those seeking to impose their intolerance upon the rest of us; to do so is to become a willing accomplice in bigotry and discrimination.
The controversy over Cordoba House, the putative “Ground Zero Mosque,” is a perfect example, a tar baby that has ensnared everyone from Obama to Rep. Ron Paul and many other libertarians, liberals, and conservatives who argue that our American principles of religious tolerance and property rights require us not merely to allow Feisal Abdul Rauf to build Cordoba House but to celebrate his doing so — since he assures us that, regardless of appearances, the GZM’s purpose is “interfaith outreach,” not Islamist triumphalism.
In particular, Paul issued an official statement that, in essence, insists we adhere to “principle,” even if it leads to the utter destruction of the culture that professess those very principles:
The debate should have provided the conservative defenders of property rights with a perfect example of how the right to own property also protects the 1st Amendment rights of assembly and religion by supporting the building of the mosque….
There is no doubt that a small portion of radical, angry Islamists do want to kill us but the question remains, what exactly motivates this hatred?
If Islam is further discredited by making the building of the mosque the issue, then the false justification for our wars in the Middle East will continue to be acceptable….
Defending the controversial use of property should be no more difficult than defending the 1st Amendment principle of defending controversial speech. But many conservatives and liberals do not want to diminish the hatred for Islam–the driving emotion that keeps us in the wars in the Middle East and Central Asia….
This is all about hate and Islamaphobia.
In other words, Rauf is a uniter, America is a hater, and we deserved what happened to us in 2001. And we need to apologize and make amends by offering the Islamist victory shrine at Ground Zero.
This is classic sophomoric libertarianism that runs afoul of the more general principle of freedom; for there is ample evidence that Rauf actually supports radical Islamism: He is a longtime member of the Muslim Brotherhood; he cannot admit that Hamas is a terrorist organization; he believes (as does Paul himself) that American foreign policy was complicit in 9/11; and Rauf wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times in 1979 — which he now refuses to repudiate — praising the totalitarian, theocratic, sharia state established in Iran by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Rauf knows very well the mosque will be seen by Islamists around the world as a “victory shrine” celebrating the great martyrdom at the World Trade Centers; and that he supports that mission.
So by insisting that the American people “tolerate,” or even applaud, Cordoba House in its present location, supporters of the GZM necessarily demand we tolerate those who express the ultimate form of intolerance against us: the mass butchery of Americans and others on September 11th, 2001. It is inherently paralogical — a state of cognitive dissonance that is no stranger either to Barack Obama or Ron Paul.
The Zeroth Principle
But there is a deeper bottom below even our own foundational principles in America and the rest of the West. Call it the Zeroth Principle which underlies all other axioms: In the end, people will do what they must to survive and to preserve their culture, no matter what other laws or principles may say. In other words, sometimes you just have to shoot the bastard first and apologize later for “violating his rights.”
Idealogues neglect to factor in the Zeroth Principle all the time, but they do so at their peril; we saw the Zeroth in action in Iraq, when the Sunni in Anbar and other provinces finally decided it was impossible to live under the insane and fickle rules of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Life was utterly unbearable, despite the Iraqi Sunni’s agreement (in theory) with al-Qaeda… so the former rose up and obliterated the latter, and to hell with the Koran, sharia, and Moslem solidarity!
Folks will do what they must to survive, they and their culture, and you can’t stop them. It doesn’t matter if you point out that the principles by which they live — sincerely live — require them to accept the unacceptable and endure the unendurable; they will reject it and drive it out, and principles be damned. They understand that the Zeroth Principle trumps all others: What you cannot endure you must change or destroy. Sometimes you just have to shoot the SOB and justify it later.
And that is where Barack Obama, Ron Paul, and Feisal Rauf just don’t get it; but the Rev. Terry Jones does. We have about reached the end of our collective rope anent Moslem bullying, extorting, whining, and special pleading; we have had enough. At this point, I think an actual majority of Americans is at the point of saying that religious tolerance is all well and good, but we want these radical jackasses out of our hair and out of our lives. It’s a tipping point: If the government won’t do it… then we’ll do it ourselves, and the powers that be won’t like how we do it.
In fact, we’ve hit a triple-whammy tipping point:
- You bureaucrats had better do something about the Islamist problem — or we will.
- You’d better do something about illegal immigration and fraudulent voting and Mexican drug wars slopping over into America — or we will.
- You’d better do something about government intrusion in our lives — or we will!
So Republicans and Democrats alike (and Libertarian loonies) had better start swimming, or they’ll sink like a stone. (I place my bet on the first over the latter two.) From now on, when Moslems (radicals or “moderates”) whine and threaten, we’re going to tell them to take a long walk on a short pier. Come November, Congressman Taxaholic and Senator Nannystate are going to be pounding the pavement looking for honest work. And one way or another, we the people will not allow an Islamist victory shrine on the ashes of the World Trade Centers.
This is what I’ve been yammering about ever since February in my post “What Makes Lefty Run?“: This is what a popular front for Capitalism, Judeo-Christian culture, and American exceptionalism looks like, up close and personal:
- If Moslems want to burn Bibles, fine; then they should shut their falafal holes when Americans burn Korans. And if they riot and kill and try to conquer the world, then don’t be surprised if we bomb their countries, kill their leaders, and convert their citizens to Christianity. (If we make plain that we are the strong horse, that last task won’t be so difficult!)
- As a small minority in the West, Moslems live and thrive at our sufferance; their job is to assimilate as much as possible — and shut up about the conflicts that remain. (Like Jews in America, who wouldn’t dream of insisting Congress enact laws forcing everyone to wear a yarmulke and keep kosher.)
- And if radical Islamists think we’re going to let them dance on the mass grave of 3,000 Americans and other Westerners, then it’s time to tell Imam Rauf to go pound sand down a rathole.
So to answer my own question from above — yes, I believe that if the Dove Outreach Center burns some Korans, Moslems will “retaliate” by killing some Christians and Jews in Pakistan, or Iran, or Qatar, or Indonesia, or France, and by attacking American soldiers who are keeping the peace in various Islamic countries. And yes, that is an enormity; but it’s not our enormity, nor even Rev. Jones’ enormity; moral guilt fully belongs to those who commit actual murder in response to mere symbolism.
And in the meantime, I’m glad Islamists suffer the humiliation of no longer inducing the terror they once wielded, and of seeing their own books burnt; and I really don’t give a hoot that some religious Moslems who don’t support jihad (or at least not much) also feel humiliated and maybe even a little frightened. It’s more urgent that the West finally rouse itself, stand up, and fight back, both physically, though our military forces, and especially symbolically, through such metaphors as burning Korans and driving the GZM off of GZ. Symbols are especially vital in rallying the people and stoking the flames of the popular front.
Sober conservatives cautioning against what Terry Jones wants to do may have the technical right of the argument… but those willing to stand up and fight, consequences be damned, have its heart and its soul.
Cross-posted on Big Lizards…