Meta-Blog

SEARCH QandO

Email:
Jon Henke
Bruce "McQ" McQuain
Dale Franks
Bryan Pick
Billy Hollis
Lance Paddock
MichaelW

BLOGROLL QandO

 
 
Recent Posts
The Ayers Resurrection Tour
Special Friends Get Special Breaks
One Hour
The Hope and Change Express - stalled in the slow lane
Michael Steele New RNC Chairman
Things that make you go "hmmmm"...
Oh yeah, that "rule of law" thing ...
Putting Dollar Signs in Front Of The AGW Hoax
Moving toward a 60 vote majority?
Do As I Say ....
 
 
QandO Newsroom

Newsroom Home Page

US News

US National News
Politics
Business
Science
Technology
Health
Entertainment
Sports
Opinion/Editorial

International News

Top World New
Iraq News
Mideast Conflict

Blogging

Blogpulse Daily Highlights
Daypop Top 40 Links

Regional

Regional News

Publications

News Publications

 
"Critical Mass" and Islam
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I think Tony Blankley touches on the concern many have about the possibility that the revolutionary form of Islam, more commonly referred to as radical Islam, can or will reach "critical mass" within the Muslim community.
It should be remembered that a majority of Germans never voted for Hitler. His high watermark was about four in 10 — and that probably over stated his true level of support. Indeed, only a minority of American colonists supported our noble revolution.

Anytime a revolutionary cause — and particularly one that is culturally and violently aggressive — reaches a certain critical mass, its target runs the risk of losing the support of the majority who are not revolutionary, but are susceptible to being intimidated by the revolutionary minority.
That's an interesting and important point. Blankley uses a recent poll to point out that while certainly not a majority, there is a large radical minority within that community which sees the use of terrorist tactics as justified based on their perceptions of what is happening in the world. For instance:
What percentage of the polled Muslims is in favor of terrorism attacks on civilians (and note the question doesn't say American civilians — which presumably would be more popular than attacks on even Muslim civilians — as the general form of the question suggests)?

To varying degrees, 27 percent of Moroccans, 21 percent of Egyptians, 13 percent of Pakistanis and 11 percent of Indonesians approve of terrorism attacks on civilians — and not just American civilians. Extrapolating those percentages to the world Muslim population, roughly 250 million Muslims may approve, under some circumstances, of terrorism attacks on civilians generally. One might reasonably guess a somewhat larger number would favor it if limited to American victims.

Of course, as the study points out, "Large majorities (57 percent-84 percent) in all countries oppose attacks against civilians for political purposes and see them as contrary to Islam." We must be grateful for such mercies. But when, to fairly extrapolate these numbers, about a quarter of a billion Muslims are in favor of civilian terrorist attacks, I think prudent people are entitled to be alarmed at the magnitude of the threat.
I'd agree. It sets an underlying floor for acceptability which allows for justification based in a perceived wrong, and in this case a perceived wrong based on their religion. Where the radicals have been successful is in the propaganda side of the war by convincing large parts of the Muslim community that it is their religion which is under attack:
From a low of 73 percent in Indonesia to a high of 92 percent in Egypt the Muslims believe that America's goal is "to weaken and divide the Islamic world." Fairly assuming that these four countries' populations represent worldwide Muslim views in Islamic countries, in other words, about 80 percent of the 1.4 billion Muslims or about a billion souls see America as hostile or an enemy to Islam.

Between 61 percent and 67 percent of the polled Muslims also thought that America's goal was to spread Christianity in the Middle East. Given that Islam teaches that Muslim converts to other religions must be executed, this purported American objective is probably not well received.

What do they think is our primary goal in the war on terror? Between 9 percent-23 percent believe it is to protect ourselves from terrorism. Between 53 percent-86 percent believe it is to weaken, divide and dominate the Islamic religion and people.
Now credible or not, as I continue to point out, in politics, perception is reality and people act on those perceptions. If, as the numbers show, the perception of the majority of Muslims in the world includes the belief (however unfounded) that their religion is under a purposeful and sustained attack, they are more likely than not to resist that attack. And, understanding the reality of their inability to resist militarily, the acceptance of terrorism, not matter how reluctant, is foreordained.

That brings us to Blankley's point of critical mass. But it also assumes that, given gross numbers, that the "Muslim community" is some sort of homogeneous group in which once such a critical mass is reached, the nominal radicalization of the entire community will happen.

I'm not sure I'm ready to accept that as true. I think, instead, that like the Christian community, some portions of the Muslim community are more susceptible to such radicalization than others. Viewing Islam as an undifferentiated whole, is, in my opinion, a mistake.

That's not to say Blankley's point about "critical mass" isn't correct at some level. His historical points are on target, but not, I believe, in the context of the entire "Muslim community". There are too many different sects, cultures and traditions involved in that broad community to assume that each and every culture will act the same, even if they believe as the cited poll says they believe.

The big job, as I see it, and one which has to be accomplished broadly, is to change the perception driving those beliefs. That's a daunting job, in and of itself. But I think it is also a mistake to view "Islam" as some common community which acts in a united fashion to perceived threats against it. To believe such a thing would lead to the development of a one-size-fits-all solution when in fact, any developed solution must instead have multiple variations which address the specifics of each different Muslim culture.
 
TrackBacks
Return to Main Blog Page
 
 

Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
Now credible or not, as I continue to point out, in politics, perception is reality and people act on those perceptions.
Not according to some others that post comments around here.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
" But it also assumes that, given gross numbers, that the "Muslim community" is some sort of homogeneous group in which once such a critical mass is reached, the nominal radicalization of the entire community will happen."


As Blankley points out, it is not necessary to radicalize or even have the support of the entire community. Once the percentage of radicals in the population reaches a certain critical level, the rest will go along, willing or not. As the old saying goes, "Grab them by the balls, and their hearts and minds will follow". Communists have a pretty good record of controlling and obtaining the nominal support of entire populations while being in the minority. At some point it becomes irrelevant what the majority actually believes if they are not willing to fight and die for their belief. To use the Nazi example, an anti-Nazi drafted into the Army was just as much an enemy as a rabid party member, and an anti-Nazi working in a tank factory was just as useful as a true believer. Had the rulers of the Soviet Union decided that the correlation of forces was in their favor, they might have attacked NATO, and the opinions of the majority of their subjects was irrelevant. What is needed is obedience, not belief.

"Anytime a revolutionary cause — and particularly one that is culturally and violently aggressive — reaches a certain critical mass, its target runs the risk of losing the support of the majority who are not revolutionary, but are susceptible to being intimidated by the revolutionary minority."
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
As Blankley points out, it is not necessary to radicalize or even have the support of the entire community. Once the percentage of radicals in the population reaches a certain critical level, the rest will go along, willing or not.
I’m not arguing that point, as I say in the article.

What I’m arguing is there isn’t a single ’critical mass’, but instead a multitude of them which would have to be reached before the entire "Muslim community" would be "intimidated into going along".

Or said another way, the broad existence of a "Muslim community" is as much a myth as that of a broad "Christian community" and it is a mistake to discuss them (and solutions) in that sort of a frame.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Or said another way, the broad existence of a "Muslim community" is as much a myth as that of a broad "Christian community" and it is a mistake to discuss them (and solutions) in that sort of a frame. - McQ
Agreed. I am tempted to take the Blankley article, substitute "Republican" for "Muslim community", substitute "right wing extremists", for "Islamic extremists", and develop the same argument to show that we need to be concerned when a critical mass of fear mongering, Islamo-phobic Republicans may begin to call for the wholesale overthrow of our constitutional freedoms and escalating to nuclear war to protect us from the threat.

An example would look like this (constructed from a quote in the Blankley article):

"To varying degrees, xx percent of Republicans approve of suspending habeus corpus at the pleasure of the Commander in Chief, warrantless monitoring of all communications by Muslims in the United States, and tactical nuclear strikes on Islamic countries harboring terrorists. Extrapolating those percentages to the Republican population at large, roughly XX million Republicans may approve, under some circumstances, of suspending the constitution and launching tactical nuclear attacks on civilians to insure the destruction of terrorists. One might reasonably guess a somewhat larger number would favor it if limited to Islamic victims.

Anytime a revolutionary cause — and particularly one that is culturally and violently aggressive — reaches a certain critical mass, its target runs the risk of losing the support of the majority who are not revolutionary, but are susceptible to being intimidated by the revolutionary minority.

Whether the radical percentages measured in this report constitute a critical mass or not is certainly conjectural (please see the full report online for other intriguing data that are generally in line with these samples)."
Last two paragraphs are verbatim from the article, the first is paraphrased. The idea, of course, is to show the absurdity of the argument in general, by giving it a different target and identical structure. That is the idea.

But then I read this column by Thomas Sowell, a conservative intellectual that I, in the past, had considered to be "libertarian leaning", as I consider myself ...
"When I see the worsening degeneracy in our politicians, our media, our educators, and our intelligentsia, I can’t help wondering if the day may yet come when the only thing that can save this country is a military coup."
... and I begin to wonder whether the argument does have some validity.
 
Written By: mw
URL: http://westanddivided.blogspot.com/
Between 61 percent and 67 percent of the polled Muslims also thought that America’s goal was to spread Christianity in the Middle East.
Given that the President and conservatives call our culture Judeo-Christian (including our democratic institutions and natural rights philosophy) and given that we are advancing these institutions in Islamic lands, we are, by implication, stating that our goal is to spread the Judeo-Christian ethos. It follows that their fear isn’t imaginary.

Of course, our culture is actually Greco-Roman. It is often packaged with a Judeo-Christian wrapping but it is Greek democracy and Roman law that we owe our greatness. Why not tell them the truth?
 
Written By: Jason Pappas
URL: http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/
Of course, our culture is actually Greco-Roman. It is often packaged with a Judeo-Christian wrapping but it is Greek democracy and Roman law that we owe our greatness. Why not tell them the truth?
Actually I’d say that it was English democracy and English law to which we owe our greatness, and that these evolved in a free-market England.

The Euros who speak Latin derivatives tend to have second or third rate nations.
I am tempted to take the Blankley article, substitute "Republican" for "Muslim community", substitute "right wing extremists", for "Islamic extremists", and develop the same argument to show that we need to be concerned when a critical mass of fear mongering, Islamo-phobic Republicans may begin to call for the wholesale overthrow of our constitutional freedoms and escalating to nuclear war to protect us from the threat.


Given that it was the Democrats who have been on the forefront of attacking constitutional liberty, that’s an odd argument.

I suppose you could just as well substitute "Quaker" for "Muslim".
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
I have to wonder what the results would be if the poll questions were flipped around.

What percentage of these Muslims polled believe that it’s Dar-el-Islam’s goal to weaken and divide the non-Islamic world (aka dar-el-harb)?

What percentage of these Muslims polled believe that it’s Dar-el-Islam’s goal to spread Islam in dar-el-harb?

And what would be the percentages if you asked Americans if those were Islam’s goals? What is American critical mass, the point at which Muslims had better start hoping that our approval rating for terrorist attacks on civilians stays way below 11%? (Note: That is not a point I’m looking forward to or approve of, but it’s an important factor that keeps getting drowned out in all the why-do-they-hate-us clamor).






 
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
Actually I’d say that it was English democracy and English law to which we owe our greatness, and that these evolved in a free-market England.
I’m quite sympathetic to that argument. But here we’re building upon and extending our Classical heritage. Tom Bethell’s Noble Triumph is a good read on the matter.
 
Written By: Jason Pappas
URL: http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/
I’m wondering what level of noise it’s going to take to get the Muslims rounded up and sent to camps until the war is over. Just like the Japanese-Americans.

The vast majority of them were loyal Americans, too.

It can’t happen here. Not until the next major terrorist attack in this country, anyway.

 
Written By: MarkD
URL: http://
Between 53 percent-86 percent believe it is to weaken, divide and dominate the Islamic religion and people.
We do all want this don’t we? The existance of any dictatorial, human rights abusing, closed economy state is a red flag to a bull to all parts of the Western political spectrum (except commies & facists). Just because theirs seems to have a religious foundation does not grant them a pass. We want them to have democracy, human rights, capitalism and freedom of religion - we have critical mass on these ideals.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
"There are too many different sects, cultures and traditions involved in that broad community to assume that each and every culture will act the same,"

The Soviet empire had the same problem, yet they managed to act essentially as a single entity. They even had a military that spoke different languages, yet if the order was given, all those disparate individuals and groups would have headed for the Atlantic coast. Identical actions or thoughts are not necessary, only obedience or neutrality.


"I am tempted to take the Blankley article, substitute "Republican" for "Muslim community", substitute "right wing extremists", for "Islamic extremists", and develop the same argument to show that we need to be concerned when a critical mass of fear mongering, Islamo-phobic Republicans may begin to call for the wholesale overthrow of our constitutional freedoms and escalating to nuclear war to protect us from the threat"

If a substantial or influential number of right-wing extremists did advocate such a course of action, why would it not be a valid concern? I think some would argue that the Democratic party has reached a "critical mass". Joe Lieberman might agree. The post about the netroots driving the political debate is on point, I think.



"Of course, our culture is actually Greco-Roman."

And the Jewish/Christian religion had no part in shaping our culture? Or the Angles, Saxons, etc.?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Great article, McQ. You have to remember that despite poll numbers such as this (and I’m at least a little skeptical of ALL polls), every major Muslim ethnic/tribal/political/theological group has a different goal. Sufis, for example, just want to be left alone. Baha’i and, to a lesser extent, Ahmadis and Qua’raniyyim, want to be accepted as the new Islam (the next logical theological evolution of Islam). Radical Shia want the world to end so the Twelfth Imam can come back. Even I can’t figure out what all of the groups want.

Achillea raises a good point, as does MarkD : at what point does the public perception of Muslims in America reach a critical mass that results in mass arrests and internments, deportations, or outright genocide? Think it can’t happen? Ask any Japanese American over 65.
They even had a military that spoke different languages, yet if the order was given, all those disparate individuals and groups would have headed for the Atlantic coast.
Ah, but the Soviets had a centralized power system with one (or a few anyway) giving the orders. The Ummah has no such thing. Heck even charismatic OBL couldn’t pull together more than a few hundred guys (maybe, MAYBE a thousand with generous estimates). Any radicalized Muslim legitimately interested in terrorist tactics would be drawn to him, instead of corrupt old Arafat and his PLO or the Hezbollah nuts (that outfit is to Al Qaeda what the Keystone Kops are to the NYPD).
We do all want this don’t we?
Um, begging your pardon, but no. We don’t all want this. I absolutely believe that free markets and constitutional democracy are the best path for the vast majority of the world. That has nothing whatsoever to do with attacking, dividing, etc. the world’s second largest religion or its adherents.

Just to add my two cents to the American cultural argument: we owe our legal system, as Don points out, more to English common law than Roman law (barring the state of Louisiana which, under the Code Napoleon, is more similar to Roman law). Our architecture is undoubtedly classical revival style (Greco-Roman). Our founders were certainly influenced by Plato and Aristotle as much as by Locke and Paine, but, despite the deist semantic pseudo-argument, they drew their moral principles from the Christian Gospels and, to a lesser, dispensationalist Protestant viewpoint, the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible. Putting the Judeo- in Judeo-Christian is almost intellectually dishonest, except from the dispensationalist point of view (which, not being Christian, I happen not to accept).
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
I love the differences in opinion on this venue and yes, excellent points. Let me just add that Omar omitted one of the most important influences on our founding fathers: Cicero. The founders read Cicero, not Plato. They studied Latin to get into college in order to read Cicero and other Roman authors in the original language. Here is Jefferson’s reading list for a young man’s education. Jefferson eventually read Plato’s Republic—because of Cicero—and was shocked at his communistic philosophy. Michael Pakaluk has the quote here.

Cicero’s treatise on ethics, De Officiis, (from which Ambrose of Milan based his De Officiis) was the canonic work of ethics in the liberal arts curriculum from ancient times through colonial times. His emphasis on property rights and natural rights is a foundational influence on our country’s culture by our founders directly reading De Officiis, or those influence by Cicero. John of Salisbury, who wrote the first political treatise in the Middle Ages, was influenced by Cicero as was subsequently Aquinas. The history of natural rights can be traced from Cicero to Jefferson by way of Locke, Grotius, Aquinas, etc. Of course, Cicero was influenced by Plato and Aristotle, but he advances many Stoic doctrines that are central to an individual rights philosophy. I can’t over emphasis the influence of Cicero.
 
Written By: Jason Pappas
URL: http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/
"Ah, but the Soviets had a centralized power system with one (or a few anyway) giving the orders."

And right alongside the Soviets would have been the E. Germans, Hungarians, Czechs, etc. The point is that any entity/group/organization can be broken down into various subgroups. They are not perfectly homogeneous, yet they can sometimes act as one to pursue a goal. The goal may even be contrary to a goal of individuals comprising the group. What is the centralized power system that constructed NATO and its goals?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I can’t over emphasis the influence of Cicero.
Apparently, lol. My list wasn’t meant to be exhaustine, but you’re quite right. I did fail to mention Cicero who is absolutely a key figure.
They are not perfectly homogeneous, yet they can sometimes act as one to pursue a goal.


I agree, the old Warsaw Pact was certainly not homogenous. Nor is the Ummah, but again I point out that there is no overall Muslim authority (like the Pope). The Warsaw Pact obeyed the commands of the Soviet Premier and Politburo. The worldwide Muslim community has no unifying figure or agency. The only things that can be said to (very loosely) unite us in our religious beliefs are the various schools of jurisprudence and even then we have 5 major classical schools (4 for Sunnis, one for Shi’ites) and numerous smaller ones. Hardly centralized.
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
"The worldwide Muslim community has no unifying figure or agency."

True, and I am sure this will come as a great relief to Israel and Jews worldwide. Be sure to tell them they have nothing to fear from a "critical mass" of Muslims, since all these sectarian and other differences will prevent them from uniting against Israel and the Jews. A unifying idea works as well as a figure or agency, perhaps better.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
True, and I am sure this will come as a great relief to Israel and Jews worldwide.
A good point, tim, but the problem here isn’t that Muslims rally around the idea of wiping Israel out (other than radicals, they don’t). Rather the 4+ decade problem of the Palestinians and their situation is the somewhat unifying idea. Until that is resolved, then yes worldwide Muslim attention is going to focus on Israel and its internal workings. The Palis biggest mistake was embracing Arafat, the PLO and violence. Had they adopted a non-violent strategy of civil disobedience (the Gandhi method), they would most likely have a permanent state of their own today. Instead of the media beaming pictures of blown up pizzerias and buses, they would be beaming images of peaceful, unarmed Palestinians being treated like civil rights marchers in the 1950’s-60’s US were. Although bad in the short term for the Palis, in the long term it would have worked. Look where violence and corruption has gotten them. And yet they still haven’t learned.

 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
"the problem here isn’t that Muslims rally around the idea of wiping Israel out (other than radicals, they don’t). Rather the 4+ decade problem of the Palestinians and their situation is the somewhat unifying idea"


Of course the problem of the Palestinians is the existence of Israel. You also seem to forget that the hate is directed not just towards Israelis, but towards Jews in general. Odd how pogroms in Palestine occurred before 1948. And, of course, anyone who supports them. Not that Muslims are alone in their antisemitism, which seems to be a unifying idea for many otherwise disparate groups.

In any case, the point is that their does exist a unifying idea which transcends nationality, etc. There is, at least in this case, a unified community. Critical mass.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Omar;

As the Democrats... and in particular, the FAR left, demonstrate here at home, as a matter of routine.... and as history around teh world has repeatedly proven, it’s always the radicals.. of ANY movement... that get the greatest amount of attention, and have undue sway on everything else.

Thereby, saying that the radicals are a small minority, while true, does not negate the danger... given the context of history, it merely points it out.


 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
"Thereby, saying that the radicals are a small minority, while true,..."

I might even argue with that. What is the definition of a radical and who has taken a headcount? If the definition of radical is limited to those who have engaged in active measures, perhaps. If the definition includes those who hold the same beliefs but restrict themselves to providing money or other indirect support, the numbers will obviously be larger. As you point out, you only need a minority to control the entirety. Lenin, etc. can testify to that.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

 
Add Your Comment
  NOTICE: While we don't wish to censor your thoughts, we do blacklist certain terms of profanity or obscenity. This is not to muzzle you, but to ensure that the blog remains work-safe for our readers. If you wish to use profanity, simply insert asterisks (*) where the vowels usually go. Your meaning will still be clear, but our readers will be able to view the blog without worrying that content monitoring will get them in trouble when reading it.
Comments for this entry are closed.
Name:
Email:
URL:
HTML Tools:
Bold Italic Blockquote Hyperlink
Comment:
   
 
Vicious Capitalism

Divider

Buy Dale's Book!
Slackernomics by Dale Franks

Divider

Divider