After the Kenyan Mall Attack: against anti-Islamic propaganda

Nothing can hurt Islam like the awful behavior of those who pretend they’re defending it.

That’s quite a general statement. Replace “Islam” with whatever else highly-held concept, and it works just as well. Nothing hurt Communism like Stalin. Nothing hurt Roman Catholicism like Torquemada. Nothing hurt Anthropogenic Climate Change like Michael Mann. Etc etc.

And yet that is a valid point mostly if not only from a propaganda point-of-view. There comes a point when one has to stand and state that the same awful behavior is no indication of there necessarily being anything intrinsically wrong with Islam, Communism, Roman Catholicism or Anthropogenic Climate Change.

The actual flaws, if there are any, must be discovered and argued for what they are. A simple labelling “Some of their supporters are up to no good” cannot demonstrate if Milwall is or isn’t a good team. Likewise the millions killed by Tamerlane have zero logical relationship with the standard of behavior of the average Muslim citizen. And the fact that France and Germany started a war 99 years ago that led to more than 100 million dead, does not necessarily mean there is something very wrong with France and Germany.

There could be, but we cannot know before finding a proper argument above and beyond the behavioral one.

The above is an introduction to a series of comments I have made in another blog, where the diffuse anti-Islam propaganda has unfortunately found some new victims. I’m posting most of the comments unedited or slightly so.

  1. The attack in Kenya is news – usually “Islamic” terrorists are busy killing Muslims
  2. Muslims didn’t do much killing for centuries (Ottoman Empire) and then only started recently, when hit by Modernity. In the meanwhile the followers of a guy who, as God incarnate, _commanded_ to love one’s enemy, destroyed their civilization with two World Wars.
  3. History IS history eg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gott_mit_uns – read also about the Sack of Magdeburg and the Sack of Rome of 1527. Then we have the Troubles in Northern Ireland. And so on and so forth.
  4. 20,000 killed to defend Christianity: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catharism#Massacre “put to the sword, regardless of rank, age, or sex”
  5. [For me] this is a simple point…people have used religion to kill other people INDEPENDENTLY FROM WHATEVER THE RELIGION’S FOUNDERS HAVE TOLD THEM TO DO. In other words, the exact words of the founders of any religion ARE FOREIGN TO THE DISCUSSION about which religions are more prone to inspire people to kill or not to kill. If Wikipedia is not enough reach out for the local library and ask a book about the “Piedmont Easter” of 1655.
  6. These sorry episodes, of which the Christian world has a neverending collection, TELL US NOTHING AT ALL ABOUT CHRISTIANITY PER SE…obviously, say, a crusader killing little children in Aleppo cannot be considered a follower of the most important Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40). OTOH the crusader killing little children in Aleppo was a representative of Christianity as of its time. Go figure.
  7. ANALOGOUSLY it is NOT possible to, say, blame Judaism as inspirer of terrorism because of the King David Hotel massacre, or because some idiot in the Irgun was the first to have the idea of placing bombs at bus stops. And the self-exploding Tamils of Sri-Lanka tell us ZERO about Hinduism.
  8. Likewise, if in contemporary times there are groups of Muslims trying to combat modernity by using weapons, we CANNOT blame that on Islam per se, even if those same people use Muslim symbols and words (most likely, they know of nothing else to rally for). There is always a political, societal, historical component, and (like in the children-killing crusaders) it inevitably trumps whatever precepts the religion provides.
  9. What do we know, the largest mass murders in the history of the world (both in absolute terms and in percentage to the local population) have been committed in the name of a bearded German philosopher who had some ideas on how to make people happier.
  10. If even Jesus, who killed nobody, and actually told people to love each other, ended up being carried around in crosses by mass killers convinced they were impaling people for the good of Christianity, it seems obvious that founders don’t matter.
  11. I’m not excusing anybody. The opposite, in truth. Homicidal Christians won’t find refuge in their founder’s good deeds.
  12. The Kenya attack was no “terrorism”. It is a direct military response to Kenya’s involvement in Somalia. The fact that civilians were the victims doesn’t make it automatically “terrorism” (otherwise all those drones…).
  13. It is terrorism when the aim is to terrorize the civilian population for political reasons. In Kenya the aim is to push the Government to get the troops out of Somalia, where the “al-Shabaab” is losing the war.
  14. You don’t terrorize anybody with a single attack. Terrorists in fact use bombs (or planes) and in multiple co-ordinated actions happening at the same time or at a certain rate, and/or attack people that cannot possibly expect anything. In Kenya, with Kenyan troops in Somalia, a single attack against a shopping mall is a military operation. If there will be a wave of attacks against malls, that will be more like terrorism.
  15. If a follower of Muhammad has to murder people to remain as such, then hundreds of millions of Muslims must be wrong.
  16. Nothing I have written can be interpreted as justifying any act of violence.
  17. I have seen these discourses built up against Christianity in the past. Now they are used against Muslims, and before WWII it was common (in Europe) to use them against Jews. I know what’s at the end of the tunnel, and that’s persecution against anybody holding any Faith. It happened already: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came_… – So I shan’t cooperate to the disparagement of any religion, thank you.
  18. I am not “rationalizing” anything. The Kenyan mall attack is a clear war atrocity. Unfortunately modern warfare is evolving towards having fewer military casualties and massive civilian ones (compare WWI to WWII, and see the popularity of the use of drones in populated areas increase just as politicians try to promise never again to put “boots on the ground”, ie combat troops in harm’s way). This can’t be good.
  19. As in Benghazi, we must be careful not to be taken advantage by those too quick to say the word “terrorism!” for their own gain. It is simply too easy to label everything and anything “terrorism”, something against which the only possible response is to rally around the Government, renounce yet more civil liberties, etc.
  20. In fact if you read the NY Times you will find at the same time talks of al-Shabaab losing ground in Somalia and somehow expanding its reach in the region. Obviously the two things can’t happen at the same time. However, if we get somehow convinced that crazied Somali teenagers can explode the local corner store at will in rural Alaska, there will come the NSA putting sensors and listening devices into everything including our waste pipes.
  21. There is a war going on in Somalia for 22 years. Untold numbers of civilians have been killed and are still being killed. Hardened by a million atrocities, one faction called al-Shabaab has committed another atrocity, this time in Kenya, whose Government is however participant in the same war. This makes the mall attack an episode of the Somali war, wholly different from the situations in Madrid, New York City and Washington, D.C., and London. And Bali.
  22. The fact that al-Shabaab is religion-based is easily understood considering those people have nothing else to rally for, now that Communism has collapsed, apart from tribal allegiance…but in the case of tribal allegiance, numbers and resources will be forever limited (by the size of the tribe). This is why, like in Afghanistan, a prolonged civil war ends up with the prevalence of religion-based movements, the only ones capable to cross the tribal boundaries and manage enough resources to take the rest of the country under their control. That’s what happened in Russia and then in China, where movements based around the “religion” of Communism once again took advantage of civil wars and scooped up the whole of the country. That’s what happened in the formation of Saudi Arabia too.