IT COULD be argued that since Ahmadinejad’s central message failed to register on his Western audiences that his visit to America was a failure. The fact that no media organs felt it necessary to analyze what he was talking about could be seen as a clear sign that no one is interested in buying what he is selling. But this is a dangerous argument, for it misses a basic truth.
Ahmadinejad is not interested in convincing the US government or even the majority of Americans to convert to Islam. He is interested in convincing adherents of totalitarian Islam and potential converts to the cause that they are on the winning side. He is interested in demoralizing foes of totalitarian Islam within the Islamic world and so causing them to give up any thoughts of struggle. In this goal he is no different from any of his Sunni counterparts in Saudi Arabia, al-Qaida, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas or their sister organizations throughout the Islamic world and indeed throughout the West.
[. . .]
The thing of it is that aside from blind narcissism, there is a reason that the West ignores the dangers facing it. The Western media ignored Ahmadinejad’s message, just as it has insistently ignored the messages of bin Laden and Fatah throughout the years, because Westerners have a hard time believing that anyone would want to abide by the Islamic world view which denies mankind’s desire for freedom.
But no matter how ugly an ideology is, in the absence of real competition it gains adherents and power. The only way to ensure that jihadists’ demonic views are defeated is by stridently defending and upholding the fundamental principles on which the Free World is based. And the West hasn’t even begun to take up this challenge.
As a result, it has handed its enemies two victories already. It has demoralized its potential allies in the Islamic world, and it has failed to rally its own people to defend themselves.
In spite of what the West would like to believe, Ahmadinejad and his allies from Ramallah to Waziristan, from Gaza to Kandahar to Baghdad, are not negotiating. They are fighting. Rather than ignore them or seek to find nonexistent common ground, we must defeat them – first and foremost on the battleground of ideas.
8 thoughts on “Quote of the Day”
People forget that when any leader travels overseas, he plays to two audiences, one in the places he visits and one at home.
We often stumble badly in dealing with non-Western nations because we have different cultural expectations in regard to the treatment of differing viewpoints. Our custom of giving almost anyone a platform and treating all envoys with respect is perceived in many other cultures as signs of acceptance or difference. When they see their leader standing up and speaking boldly in a hostile land they interpret that as a sign of great power.
Some claim that news images of protesters outside the whitehouse during the Shah’s last visit triggered his overthrow when broadcast back in Iran. The images seemed trivial to Western audiences but Iranians interpreted them far differently. In Iran, a violent protest in front of the seat of power indicated the final collapse of a regime’s power since no regime allowed protest. The Iranians thought that opposition to the shah in the US was massive when at the time it didn’t show up on most American’s radar.
We don’t take Ahmadinejad seriously and don’t mind giving him a platform because we think of him and his regime as pissant problem (as compared to say, the Soviet Union). Back in Iran, however, he seems huge.
I love Glick but I believe she is a b it off base here. Muslims, if ardent in their beliefs, are convinced that western values are decadent and not to be followed or allowed, and this is, for example, why the Iranian president never wears a tie, the symbol (he believes) of western values and decadence, though he wears a suit jacket etc…you can not merely posit your good values–if they aloso entail , say our pop culture–and expect that potential jihadists will toss over their beliefs to embrace Britney Spears as a new icon.
We can defend our values more effectively than we have done. Culture isn’t all-or-none. Western culture is no more all about Britney Spears than Muslim culture is all about fascism and jihad. The jihadists, a broad group of which Ahmadinejad is just one representative, do not hesitate to assert their vile values. We can be more confident in defending our values and culture — the most successful, productive and humane culture in history.
How Islam adapts to the western world is something over which we have limited control, but we can make clear that jihadism is a dead end. And we can make clear that we will support anti-jihadist Muslims against the jihadists. I think that Glick makes the case well.
That is really more of an excerpt than a quote … .
“The only way to ensure that jihadists’ demonic views are defeated is by stridently defending and upholding the fundamental principles on which the Free World is based. And the West hasn’t even begun to take up this challenge.” Only way? That is not right. Shooting the jihadists will also work. Even better, getting someone else to shoot them might work.
We are not losing any battles of ideas in the places that matter. Ahmadinejad’s performance in New York was so laughable that he is certainly no threat on the “ideas” plane over here. The proper response to stupidity is mockery, and the SNL parody of his “no gays in Iran” was a good example of that. Anyway, Ahmadwhateveribad doesn’t even have a lot of political power back home. He is a loudmouth, and little more.
“…the West ignores the dangers facing it….” On what planet? We have troops in all kinds of foreign locales, we see cops in various contries arresting people who want to blow things up. Hell, we even may pull some kind of break-even out of our Iraq adventure. Who is ignoring anything?
I cannot fathom what she is freaking out about.
I think it is important to remember that Communist, jihadist, Fascist and the like have always sought to exploit the existing divisions within free societies.
The apparent unwillingness of some Westerns to defend Western values springs in large part from our internal debate about what our values should be. Those debates would exist whether the enemies existed or not. Likewise, they don’t really stop just because a relatively minor enemy appears at the gate.
Our enemies study our divisions and sculpt their messages to fit them. For example, the message of the Jihadist holds that the problems of the developing world spring from western imperialism and exploitation just as Leftist in the West believe but they also hold that Western sensualism and hedonism pose threats to basic human well being just like social conservatives in the West.
Collectively, we can’t actually refute our enemies arguments because they hijack so much of our own internal debate.
I-Ran So Far Away
“Collectively, we can’t actually refute our enemies arguments because they hijack so much of our own internal debate.”
Exactly. The problem is not their arguments, such as they are. The jihadis could argue for the imposition of Sharia and the reestablishment of the Caliphate all day long in the USA. We have fringe groups that push for weirder things. I have no doubt they would get very little traction here if they restricted themselves to “arguments”.
The problem is, unlike most fringe groups, a big part of what they are all about is murdering people, pretty much at random, i.e. “terrorism”. The answer is not counter-argument, it is bullets and shrapnel, or where appropriate, arrest warrants. We are doing all that.
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