Many of our intellectual elite keep (White House, others) keep repeating that Islam is “not the problem” behind the terrorism, violence and so on in the Middle East and elsewhere (France for example). What is not said in those pronouncements is, if Islam isn’t the problem, exactly then where does the problem lie? It seems likely that the statement Islam is not the problem is only half right. People who claim “Islam is the problem” (or not the problem) can be compared with people who claim “germs cause disease” (or that they don’t). Stating that Islam is or isn’t “the problem” isn’t useful. What are some more useful remarks or questions that might be raised instead? Such as, what does a more complete story/picture look like? What are useful ways of approaching this matter, not that the President and the left elite don’t have a useful way, they just are very very coy about what that way is, as “it’s not X” does not explain “it is Y”.
To say Islam and warfare/violence are not related is not correct. Islam arose in the early 7th century and was followed by centuries of conquest as it spread through the Middle East, Western Asia, North Africa and Spain. The genesis of Islam is inextricably linked with warfare and the rise and spread of the Arab speaking peoples into the greater international arena. This might rightly be noted is a shallow and perhaps not a relevant point, but as we shall see, it will return.
What then might be a more realistic notion of why al-Qaeda and ISIS and other Islamic linked groups are using violence to spread their message? What is the source of their complaint. It seems likely, that they, like other similar cultural groups in the past are feeling threatened. What similar groups and threatened by what? Well, most of the non-Western world are anthropologically speaking living in Honor/Shame based societies. In this context the Western European and US cultures are Individualistic/Wealth based society. In the past 200 years a gap, still growing exists between the wealth, military, and commercial capabilities of H/S vs I/W societies.
Who then are the extremists? They are those in H/S societies who most acutely feel the conflict that the surrounding ever-present I/W society/nations/cultures at large present to local H/S culture. Why do they turn to violence, after all the mostly Hindu India following Ghandi managed a non-violent separation from the UK. This is where the language of violence and the example of early Islam comes in. These individuals use common strong striking imagery and language from their home, which not unsurprisingly arises from their religious traditions. Early Islam with striking history and language of conquest and rapine gives them plenty of examples from which to draw. The Left elites are right (and wrong) to say “Islam isn’t the problem”. It is the cultural divide between I/W and H/S societies which fuels the conflict. At the same time, however, “Islam is the problem” because it provides such a rich tapestry of violent poetry and history from which to call to arms those who are angered by the divide.
Why then does the leftist elite not point to the H/S vs I/W anthropological stress as the cause. Well, the modern left is committed as well to value a thing called “multiculturalism”. A fundamental tenet of multiculturalism is that my society and my culture is not better than the others. No one culture is superior in any way. To point to H/S culture as “the problem” would be to admit that multiculturalism is founded on a fallacy. And apparently they can’t admit to that. So they are left with saying X isn’t the problem while being incapable of admitting that if X isn’t the problem, then what exactly is the actual problem in your eyes.