Exercises in Deduction
A few months ago, when a clip aired revealing that current Arab Spring president of Egypt Morsi had, before he was elected, maintained that the Jewish people are “apes and swine”, it became apparent to any rational observer of the mainstream media that the mainstream media’s knowledge of Islam is an inverse limit approaching zero. Like one of those horrendous calculus strings as things go from bad to worse, the media either didn’t report Morsi’s sentiments because it is salaciously inconvenient, or chose to obfuscate by appeals to western ignorance of the nuances of the region, alleged Israeli atrocities, and its flagship ideology, Islam.
Obfuscation is the latest and only tactic left for the media in all matters concerning Islam and Muslims, a tactic not afforded to any other group. It has hallmarks of an affirmative action mindset, where everything is reduced to grievance and historical justification, and causes are deduced from those grievances. And in so being, it is highly incoherent. Tangentially, as an easily accessible example, the conclusion that is often nimbly deduced from this mindset is that nationalism is bad because nationalism is the cause of the abuse of which Muslims have been subjected; whether it be the French, the British, Israelis or the Russians, a nation and their xenophobic national pride or colonial avarice is to blame. But without an idea of a collective nation or culture, what use is the argument of collective grievance? And if it is of no use in regards to the French, but in fact a source of great self-deprecation, why is it used in respect to the Chechens, the Palestinians, or, for that matter, the Tibetans?
Nobody bothers to answer these questions because nobody bothers to ask them. Rather, the western powers are subjected to the idiocy of a one David Sirota when its civilians are killed and maimed.
Even before the identity or ethnic origin of the Boston terrorists were obtained or known, David Sirota wrote a piece in Salon entitled “Let’s hope the Boston Marathon Bomber is a White American.” The reason for our triumphant urge to pray for a white American suspect is twofold. 1) Because it determines “which groups are — and are not — collectively denigrated or targeted for the unlawful actions of individuals;” and 2) because it determines “ how big and politically game-changing the overall reaction ends up being.” In all of this, Sirota declares, “the dynamics of privilege will undoubtedly influence the nation’s collective reaction to the attacks.”
He continues, unabated:
“This (white male privilege) has been most obvious in the context of recent mass shootings. In those awful episodes, a religious or ethnic minority group lacking such privilege would likely be collectively slandered and/or targeted with surveillance or profiling (or worse) if some of its individuals comprised most of the mass shooters. However, white male privilege means white men are not collectively denigrated/targeted for those shootings — even though most come at the hands of white dudes.’
Likewise, in the context of terrorist attacks, such privilege means white non-Islamic terrorists are typically portrayed not as representative of whole groups or ideologies, but as “lone wolf” threats to be dealt with as isolated law enforcement matters. Meanwhile, non-white or developing-world terrorism suspects are often reflexively portrayed as representative of larger conspiracies, ideologies and religions that must be dealt with as systemic threats — the kind potentially requiring everything from law enforcement action to military operations to civil liberties legislation to foreign policy shifts.”’
We expect as much from Mr. Sirota. He seems to have a fetish with white men. He writes about them constantly. And if it weren’t for the tragic circumstances under which the article was written it would be amusing. But it is not. It is a prime of example of deductive impotence and a fine example of the lengths to which the left will go to construct the political skirmish on a battlefield of its own choosing. Sun Tzu once warned that you should never fight an enemy on the field of its choosing, but choose your place and time and you will be victorious. Like a good liberal, Sirota has heeded the advice of sun Tzu and created a controversy and thus a battle on the grounds on which he chooses to fight. This piece was a strategic offensive written before the bombing suspects were identified in order to turn the conversation away from where it should empirically go. It was strategic brilliance, but tactical error. He cannot be victorious.
He cannot be victorious because the turf on which he chooses to wage rhetorical war is highly deductive and therefore highly vulnerable. A deductive argument is one in which axioms flow to conclusions without hesitation and hindrances. Socrates being a man, and men being mortal, leads to the conclusion that Socrates is mortal. The argument is entirely dependent on its premises, premises on inductive facts; Men are mortal is a conclusion only revealed by observation and induction. If one of these premises is suspect, the cards collapse and the conclusion becomes irrelevant. Having fired off the first salvos, we must respond to Sirota forthwith.
Sirota betrays his argument before the first sentence is even penned with the title itself. Let’s hope… the Marathon Bomber is a white American. There is no plurality here. The bomber is assumed to be a single white American bomber by the singular use of the verb “to be” and “bomber”. This elementary stuff, elementary stuff of which Sirota is ignorant. If he had wanted to make the argument that he advances, entitling the screed “Let’s hope the Marathon bomberS ARE white American neo-Nazis with intricate connections with a network of terror cells operating in the south,” would have been more effective. But in as much as it is elementary, it is also minutia, and merely serves to capitalize the fact that Sirota is an idiot.
The raw meat of his argument, however, is in this group of sentences: “This has been most obvious in the context of recent mass shootings. In those awful episodes, a religious or ethnic minority group lacking such privilege would likely be collectively slandered and/or targeted with surveillance or profiling (or worse) if some of its individuals comprised most of the mass shooters. However, white male privilege means white men are not collectively denigrated/targeted for those shootings — even though most come at the hands of white dudes.”
Here Mr. Sirota conflates ethnicity with motive without as much as the bat of the eye in the case of “white dudes” while condemning the same mental movement in the case of minorities. Whiteness is implicitly the cause of the mass shootings and is also referenced as evidence of white male privilege in the collective response to those shootings, while the non-white ethnicities of “minorities,” a highly ambiguous term the definition of which shifts depending on which way the winds blow in the Arctic, are in his schema the reason for alleged profiling. Mr. Sirota just profiled the entire nation for profiling minorities, a circumstance that suggest that we are not dealing with an intellectual argument but an ideological smear. Considering the fact that, if we assume white male privilege, the motive of white males when shooting up a school or a movie theater is never entirely clear because if a white male is raging against a society intoxicated by white male privileged their violent outburst is something of a bizarre masochistic aberration, while minorities that do so are implicitly raging against a white male dominated society and are therefore absolved of serious criminality. In this way, the argument works to refute its own claim and justify minority terrorism. Either there is white male privilege, these crimes being an aberration, or society needs to profile white males as well. His argument does nothing to mitigate his concern about ethnic profiling, but actually expands it.
Further, if the reaction of society to massacres committed by white male gunmen or terrorists is taken as evidence of white male privilege, then the conclusion is trivial. What needs to be accounted for is why white males find it necessary to kill masses of people when society is so richly organized for them. I can bet that it is not caused by white male privilege. And I can bet that if fielded such a question, Sirota would find a way to make it a nuance of white male privilege. In the end, nothing has been accounted for and nothing is seen. This, I suppose, is exactly how Mr. Sirota desired it.
Exercises in Empiricism
While a deductive refutation of Sirota is not going to get us to the conclusion “there is no such ephemeral quality of society as white male privilege as it regards terrorism,” neither is the conclusion “white male privilege accounts for why white males are not collectively denigrated as it regards terrorism.” An empirical procedure, however, will take us exactly to the former and refute definitively the latter.
The first empirical assessment that we need to make is to test the idea that white male terrorism has never been considered an existential threat. In 1871, Republican President Ulysseses S. Grant signed into law the Klu Klux Klan act. Unfortunately for Sirota, this was not a situation in which the former Commanding General of the Union forces was institutionalizing the ideology of the Klu Klux Klan, but specifically targeting as enemy combatants a group of white extremists racist terrorist, who happened to be citizens, on behalf of a minority recently set free by the sacrifice of nearly 300,000 union soldiers.
About a hundred years later, the FBI was tasked with finally crushing the Klan under Democratic President Lyndon Johnson. In pursuit of this task, the FBI considered the Klan to be the utmost threat to the integrity of the nation and all manner of profiling, infiltration, unconstitutional wiretapping, serial violations of due process, and other schemes were brought to bear on the inveterate racial ideology and its patrons. David Sirota’s notion that we generally conceive of white male terrorists as lone wolves is wrong in any objective historical examination.
When we do consider white male terrorist as lone wolves, it is generally because they are lone wolves. Timothy McVeigh had a specific grudge against the government for the Waco and Ruby Ridge incidents; few collaborated with him; he found martial spirit in The Turner Diaries, but abhorred its racism; and was on some days a Catholic and on other days he proclaimed to be an atheist. He was not consistent. His ideology was more left than right. His first ruminations about the evil of the American government was what he saw as the injustice of the Gulf war, and he wrote a scathing justification for his terrorism by comparing his attack to that of the alleged attacks on Iraqi civilians. All in all, he was a hard one to peg.
I could give historical examples until the heat death of the universe, but the assassin of President Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald, is highly instructive and will serve as the quod erat demonstrandum of our refutation.
Lee Harvey Oswald was a verified communist who absconded to the Soviet Union and then killed President Kennedy. He claimed he was innocent. And then he was killed. His death served as a catalyst for conspiracy theories that sought to brand him a right wing extremist working for the Klan or other extremist groups, and this frenzied speculation is what so unnerved the nation that the Klan is what was targeted when it should have been the Communist Workers party, a hotbed of terrorist and fringe activity. Even though Oswald was ideologically opposed to any right wing movement, this metaphysical white male privilege descended down upon the consciousness of the nation and forced many people to blame it on the white males in the south. The fact that a man who defected to the soviet union and then returned to kill the president was then bizarrely accused of conspiring with right wing groups is the final blow to the notion that the society of the United States has given a pass to white males for terror activity. This ends the discussion of white male privilege.
Moving from the inane to the absurd, Sirota’s claim that minorities are targeted and collectively denigrated by society when they commit an atrocity is false. The Virginia Tech shooter was extremely Asian, yet there was not even a small scale negative reaction to Asian people living in this country as a result. In fact, Asians, though a numerical minority, are fast losing their political minority status. In a case of reverse affirmative action, the California University system has now put quotas on the number of Asians allowed into their schools because Asians have the nasty habit of being good at being smart and are causing a lack of diversity on California campuses. It is conclusive: David Sirota’s entire thesis is incandescent horseshit when viewed under the microscope of empirical and historical reality.
The reason Mr. Sirota penned his piece when he did was to mitigate the fallout if the Boston terrorist turned out to be Muslims. One of them was a Muslim, and one Muslim is in custody awaiting a long and irritating trial. One was a U.S. Citizen, and one was a legal resident. The Russians tipped off the FBI about the elder former Muslim’s, now a Muslim corpse, extremist activity, twice. And yet white male privilege caused him not to be watched thoroughly enough to be apprehended before he had the chance to kill an 8 year old boy. In a circumstance dripping with horrid irony, one was a white male American Muslim. He is, as a point in fact, from the Caucuses, from which we derive the ethnic profile Caucasian. We will very soon see that profile bubble removed from our driver’s license applications and voter registration forms, our selective service cards and our tax forms to be replaced with the white male privilege option.
When the images of these two suspects were released by the FBI, I confided in a friend, my boss, as it happens. I told him that these two cretins were of one of three nationalities in descending order of probability: Chechens, Kosovars, or Bosnians. When it was affirmed that they were in fact Chechens, my boss demanded that I quit and apply to the CIA, half joking. “How the hell did you know that?” he demanded. I told him that when the entire world saw white males they racially profiled and determined that Muslims were not to blame, but for me it merely reduced the possible national origins from about thirty to three. I profiled as well, but not racially. I profiled an ideology.
And that is the difference between David Sirota and me. He profiles races and genders. I profile ideology. But the question remains: should we profile Islam in the same manner and afford it the same scrutiny as that of the KKK or neo-Nazi ideologies. There is not a doubt in my mind that we should.
At the beginning of this rather prolonged effort to show that Sirota is an ass, I mentioned President Morsi’s comments on the Jews. They are as apes and swine, he said. This is not a sentiment unknown to Muslims. He was, in fact, appealing to the mass Muslim sentiment. The Quran references Jews as apes and Swine in three different Suras and in three different contexts. The Quran has much to say about Jews. From the index of my translated Quran under Jews we will find that they (are) “became apes and swine, are cursed, enmity of (Muslims/Allah), greedy of life, slew prophets, took usury, unbelief and blasphemy, work iniquity, write the book with their own hands,” among other horrors. It does not require deep exegetical procedures to access this vile. It is printed in beautiful Arabic calligraphy, and boldly in English.
Muslim apologists will first claim that there are peaceful verses in their book of death that diminishes the importance of the violent ones. They will not tell you that the peaceful verses originate from the time when Mohammed was in Mecca and was virtually powerless and peace was the only way by which he could gain converts. But when he went to Medina, he became a tribal warlord, and according to the Hadith, and extra-Quranic text of Mohammed’s life, beheaded 700 hundred Jews, men, women, and children, with his own sword. According to the rule of abrogation in Islamic law, the later verses, the Medinic verses, the violent ones, abrogate the peaceful ones. This is information that is accessible to anyone who dares to look for it. It is by no means an inferential stretch to proclaim that if we are to compare Mohammed to Jesus or the prophets of Israel, we are comparing Hitler to mother Teresa.
And that is the next argument. Muslim apologist will point out a glaring red herring and have us chase after it by stating that the Biblical text is full of violence. And so it is. But the biblical text is a historical narrative as much as it is a spiritual guide, and those instances of violence were temporal concerns apart of the thatching that is the history of Israel. There are no Jewish commandments to kill non-Jews. Rather an admonition from G-d, “do not abuse the stranger, for you were strangers in Egypt.” Judaism was birthed out of a slave revolt, while Islam seeks to subjugate and enslave, to make dhimmis out of the non-Muslims, and to institute sharia law everywhere. The term itself, Islam, means surrender. The whole religion drips with tyranny and terror. Every Muslim, no matter his chronological station, is required to fight jihad and wage war against the Infidels, subjugate Jews, and maintain a mental disposition that divides the world in to the “house of war” and”the house of Islam.”
A glaring example of recently put into practice can be found in the Balkans. In the 90’s, we bombed the Serbs on behalf of the Bosnian and Kosovo Muslims. The reported genocide in Kosovo was found to be false. During the Serb’s battle with the KLA, 3000 people died, 1/3 of them ethnic Serbs, many beheaded by KLA Muslim terrorists. The United States Air force bombed soft targets in Serbia for weeks and killed as many as 4,000 Serb civilians. Yet two years ago, a Kosovar Muslim traveled to Germany and shot two American Servicemen at the Berlin airport while screaming Allah hu Akbar. By any conventional wisdom, we would expect Serb civilians to track down and murder American soldiers, but the Serbs aren’t Muslims, they are orthodox Christians. So amenable are the Serbs that the Serb gunner who shot down the F-117 stealth fighter over Kosovo contacted the American pilot after the war and apologized. There is soon to be a documentary released on their reunion. And so vicious are the Ethnic Albania Muslims that they will track us down to kill us even though we helped them commit genocide. There is rarely in human history such an illuminating empirical example of Islamic ethics than that of the Kosovar Muslims and their antithesis, the Serb Christians.
If it turns out that the Chechen butchers were lone Muslim wolves it will be just as damning, if not more so, than if they were a part of a grander Islamic terror organization. A neo Nazi in Oregon may not know a neo-Nazi in Arkansas, but if they both commit an atrocity, it will be the ideology that is the common denominator, and we will have very little issue saying so.
And so it is with Islam. A single Muslim who takes his book seriously is just as much a threat as a vast terror network. The verses of the Quran are what animated Morsi to spill his bile, and they are what animated the Chechens to kill in Boston. They animated the Chechen terrorists at Belsan, who killed 300 hundred children, and they are what animated the 9/11 hijackers. All roads lead to Mecca.
A Final Note
The final empirical assessment we must make is that people who kill are not necessarily mentally ill or insane. The Nazis were not. Unless someone is willing to argue that if the third Reich had had better access to Zoloft, the holocaust would not have happened, we must reconcile ourselves to the ancient but applicable and everywhere historically immanent notion that human beings are not inherently good and that ideology has the potential to influence everything from compassion to rage, to genocide, to rape, to blowing up the Boston marathon.
Without doing so we run the risk of a becoming functionally therapeutic whilst being murdered instead of identifying the ideologies most likely to persuade sane people to kill and destroying them either via argument, shame or defensive war, and uplifting and honoring those ideologies which create kindness and compassion and abhor violence.
In the immediate aftermath of the Boston atrocity, a general sentiment circulated that there are a great many number of good people and that this is evidenced by the fact that many people rushed to the scene to render aid to the victims without concern for themselves. This is surely a testament to the virtue of the individuals involved and their altruism. But what of the people who fled? Are they not good? I don’t know, and neither does the progenitor of this idea, Patton Oswalt.
Undoubtedly, sometime in 1944 an SS officer, tired from a day’s work killing Jews, still managed to rush to the aid of a fellow Aryan during the bombing of Dresden. He was likely celebrated in Der Sturmer, while a militant anti-Nazi German citizen ran from the bombardment. There is of course no comparison between a Nazi ss officer and a first responder on the Boston streets, but the action of rushing to save lives does not necessarily add evidence to the notion that humanity is good. This sentiment is entirely therapeutic and a reflexive response from an individual who cannot absorb the fact that humanity is a neutral moral object and the only way to defeat evil is not to appeal to the great ephemeral mass of “the good” but to have the courage to properly identify good and evil and destroy it, however unpleasant that may be. Oswalt was on the right track, he understood that killing civilians watching a marathon is bad, but failed to follow through with the moral urgency that the situation demanded.