Shelby Steele, writing in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week on Western (white) guilt and Islam:
Hatred and murder are self-realization because they impart grandeur to Islamic extremists–the sense of being God’s chosen warrior in God’s great cause. Hatred delivers the extremist to a greatness that compensates for his ineffectuality in the world. Jews and infidels are irrelevant except that they offer occasion to hate and, thus, to experience grandiosity. This is why Hezbollah–Party of God–can take no territory and still claim to have won. The grandiosity is in the hating and fighting, not the victory.
And death–both homicide and suicide–is the extremist’s great obsession because its finality makes the grandiosity "real." If I am not afraid to kill and die, then I am larger than life. Certainly I am larger than the puny Westerners who are reduced to decadence by their love of life. So my hatred and my disregard of death, my knowledge that life is trivial, deliver me to a human grandeur beyond the reach of the West. After the Madrid bombings a spokesman for al Qaeda left a message: "You love life, and we love death." The horror is that greatness is tied to death rather than to achievement in life.
The West is stymied by this extremism because it is used to enemies that want to live. In Vietnam, America fought one whose communism was driven by an underlying nationalism, the desire to live free of the West. Whatever one may think of this, here was an enemy that truly wanted to live, that insisted on territory and sovereignty. But Osama bin Laden fights only to achieve a death that will enshrine him as a figure of awe. The gift he wants to leave his people is not freedom or even justice; it is consolation.
White guilt in the West–especially in Europe and on the American left–confuses all this by seeing Islamic extremism as a response to oppression. The West is so terrified of being charged with its old sins of racism, imperialism and colonialism that it makes oppression an automatic prism on the non-Western world, a politeness. But Islamic extremists don’t hate the West because they are oppressed by it. They hate it precisely because the end of oppression and colonialism–not their continuance–forced the Muslim world to compete with the West. Less oppression, not more, opened this world to the sense of defeat that turned into extremism.
Here is Karen Hughes, formerly President Bush’s image meister, being interviewed by al-Jazeera, last December….via The Corner at NRO:
"The U.S. acknowledged [after] the events of September 11 that our policies might have created feelings of frustration and hatred, [causing those individuals] to board those airplanes, [fly them into the twin towers], and kill people. We want to change these circumstances, and this is what we are doing today…. "
And, finally, again from The Corner…
From an interview with Pierre Rehov, a French documentary maker whose newest film, Suicide Killers, is based on interviews that he conducted with the families of suicide bombers and would-be bombers
Q – What was it like to interview would-be suicide bombers, their families and survivors of suicide bombings?
A – It was a fascinating and a terrifying experience. You are dealing with seemingly normal people with very nice manners who have their own logic, which to a certain extent can make sense since they are so convinced that what they say is true. … I hear a mother saying "Thank God, my son is dead." Her son had became a shaheed, a martyr, which for her was a greater source of pride than if he had became an engineer, a doctor or a winner of the Nobel Prize.
This system of values works completely backwards since their interpretation of Islam worships death much more than life. You are facing people whose only dream, only achievement goal is to fulfill what they believe to be their destiny, namely to be a Shaheed or the family of a shaheed.
They don’t see the innocent being killed, they only see the impure that they have to destroy.
Q – Are suicide bombers principally motivated by religious conviction?
A – Yes, it is their only conviction. They don’t act to gain a territory or to find freedom or even dignity. They only follow Allah, the supreme judge, and what He tells them to do. …
The main difference between moderate Muslims and extremists is that moderate Muslims don’t think they will see the absolute victory of Islam during their lifetime, therefore they respect other beliefs. The extremists believe that the fulfillment of the Prophecy of Islam and ruling the entire world as described in the Koran, is for today. Each victory of Bin Laden convinces 20 million moderate Muslims to become extremists. …
Q – How can we put an end to the madness of suicide bombings and terrorism in general?
A – Stop being politically correct and stop believing that this culture is a victim of ours. Radical Islamism today is nothing but a new form of Naziism. ..
There it is, in plain view. The duality of the War on Terror, in which the politically correct view is that we are somehow at fault, that the Muslims are reacting to something we have done in the past. The other view, based on close observation, empirical data, and a deeper understanding of Muslims and Islam, is that they are responsible for their feelings toward the West, that they are attacking the West not because of what we have done, but because of what we are.
Why can’t we say that out loud?