Do we suffer from “cultural blindness?”

When the news first broke of ISIS’s beheading of children, some those of my political persuasion took to social media to question the stories, eye-witness testimonies, and pictures.

Perhaps this is because if the lies told by the previous administration in its lead up to invading Iraq. However, there is another side…

Since 9/11 we have encountered the “Islam is a religion of peace” argument so as to insure we do not look at all Muslims as fundamentalists. This is accurate and needed but some think we have gone too far… so far in fact that we cannot see the dangerous history of Islam and how it is practiced, or preached with a hope of practicing.

I am led to wonder if we are not caught by surprise at the danger of fundamentalism of any stripe because we want to think better about people, or rather, we do not want to thank bad about an entire people. I’m with that – I do not want Christianity judged by oneness holiness sects – but on the other hand, we have dangerous elements and tendencies to evil that cannot be ignored.

That’s where this story comes in at.

Academics who ignored the facts of what happens to minorities in ‘jihad zones’ allowed ‘cultural blindness and intellectual amnesia’ to distort policy making in Iraq leaving minorities exposed to terror, claims a jihad expert.

I don’t know if I agree or not… But it is an interesting read…

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6 Replies to “Do we suffer from “cultural blindness?””

  1. Nice – until one comes to grips with the fact that what passes for Iraq was largely a creation of British imperialism.

    Like much of the colonial territories that fell under British rule, the geography of Iraq was designed to prevent a unified uprising and among the populace. After all, a previous mistake in that regard had cost the British Empire one of it grander possessions in an little rebellion more commonly known as the American Revolution!

    While this divide and conquer strategy momentarily served British interests, it’s bedeviled the world ever since. Moreover, when it came to Iraq, Britain favored the Sunni minority. This helps explain why a Sunni strongman such as the late Saddam Hussein could rise to power even after the British pulled out.

    Today, of course, the tables are reversed. Seeing themselves as the outgroup, the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) is comprised by Sunnis out to take revenge on what they believe to be a bunch of Shia usurpers installed by that Great Satan otherwise known as the United States.

    Caught in the middle of the present ethno-Islamic holy war is a Christian minority. Their claim to fame consists of being among the oldest continuous communities of believers on the face of the earth.

    Since the rise of Islam in the Middle East, this group of Christians has been the constant target of persecution. Likewise, there have been previous massacres.

    Meanwhile, halfway around the world, poor ol’ Barack Obama is caught in the middle. Although he is aware that almost of quarter century of off and on American air strikes haven’t accomplished a damn thing worth bragging about, he either has to come to the aid of the beleaguered Christian minority or, once again, he risks being falsely accused by half-baked Republican lunatics as being a closet Muslim.

    It is also worth pointing out that, despite the present paranoia concerning Islamic jihad, these violent movements eventually run out of steam. Half a century ago, Americans were expressing a similar fear over communist revolutions around the world. That’s precisely why, after the French lost their colonial possession, the United States got sucked into the quagmire of Vietnam.

    Today, again with the exception of half-baked Republican lunatics, communism has been largely forgotten. Islam has become the new communism in American life. Even the hunt for terrorists borrows from many of elements of previously discredited McCarthyism. Loyalty Oaths anyone?

    1. all good points – but the question is, first – do we not accept that people can be evil and that movements can be worse?

      And, yes, the middle east is our creation… and the current situation even more so the U.S.’s. But, does that mean we don’t do something if we see it going south?

  2. I agree with Know More Than I Should.

    It’s also good to note that the author in question is mostly a self-proclaimed jihad/Islam expert. How do you become recognized as an expert?
    – Credentials: he has a PhD in linguistics, which means that he has no formal training in Islamic theology or history. The track record of self-taught people revealing the ‘true’ nature of a religion is not so good (e.g. Richard Dawkins).
    – Publications: I could find only one scholarly article, in a business and law journal. His one scholarly book was self-published (he appears to own the company who published it). The author of the foreword is a borderline racist writer who thinks that European Muslims are a fifth column working to transform Europe into ‘Eurabia’.

    So Know More Than I Should parallel with red scares is very apt.

    1. Much the same mindset that spread communist paranoia is also peddling Islamophobia. Likewise, the same statistical cohort once in a panic over civil rights is now running around like a headless chicken because LGBTs wish to be treated like human beings.

      Live long enough, and some of this stuff becomes fun to watch because it is so predictable.

  3. I don’t believe that only because a movement eventually runs out of steam, which is debatable since they only change their methods, it means that everyone who feels their violence and sympathizes with their victims is a paranoid, and it doesn’t mean that while still within a faint blow of their steam they murder and plunder and should be stopped and having their steam eternally leak out.
    Also, communism has largely been forgotten? Perhaps in you zip code! It is still in full force and they only changed their methods for a while. In South America is still prevalent but, as Presbyterian Pastor told me in the middle 70’s in Brazil, communism and communists (as he is) don’t have to fight anymore, don’t have to war any longer and don’t have to exterminate its enemies because “it will be the natural end of all things…” In Brazil, and surrounding Latin American countries, communist ideology is finding a fertile ground, not only to be cultivated and grow but also to spread its roots everywhere in Latin America. The fact that they don’t kill anymore does not diminish its dangerous and freedom impairing ideology. A trip away from one’s zip code perhaps will be enlightening in this particular.
    Also, since I am from another culture and understand how strong is our ties with our “former” culture, it is not off the wall, not a far fetched remark from those who doubt that Barrack Obama wants all out involvement in a war where Muslims are involved, against the Muslims. Yes, I credit him for using drones, killing a few of them, but how much is that real commitment and involvement when a White House aid said the other day that he is not comfortable getting himself involved in Muslim’s affairs, which I admit, doesn’t make him a Muslim, but makes him someone who may not have the will to go against the culture that he declared openly to admire.

    Now, to the issue of Isis: During times like this we really find those who have a natural human concern for his fellow humans and those who love to wallow in the mud of history in an attempt to water down and sweeten the horrors perpetrated by these, still with a lot of steam, murderers! Are those pictures all lies? As both Republicans and Democrats, (not only Bush) who believed Sadam to be a monster and, yes, justified and approved the war in Iraq, only to find out today that the law of unintended consequences often comes back with a vengeance, are we now to close our eyes to the evidences coming from the middle east? Is it because it is this or another society creation that we will just comment about the beheading of children and discount it as “possibly” a lie as if it is past the murderous Islamicists and call Islamophobes all those who believe that it is a serious movement in the making since the period of Saladim? How comfortable is to be a human being proverbially shoulder shrugging everything because after all, it is someone else’s creation…
    At this time, whatever it is, whoever it is to blame, whomsoever has created the state of affairs we live in now, the question should be “What am I going to do about it?” The rest is just pure rhetoric, blaming history, self-aggrandizing elitism, and disrespect with the victims. I don’t care who created Iraq, Syria, Israel, ISIS, Al-Qaida, or the vicious dog in the neighborhood; the minute they begin to victimize others, it is time to act. I don’t have an army… but the USA does. I don’t believe using an army creates more of the bad guys, but I do believe that when the bad guys win and go unpunished for the evil deeds, and I use evil without relativism, then more of them will find a reason to fight!
    So, today Islamism is the new communism… we’re all crazy and none of these is happening… As a colleague told another yesterday making sure that I heard: “All these killings are Hollywood productions hired by the government to justify the next war”… Great, and so was the walk on the moon!

    1. Since the dawn of the 19th century, South America has been a hotbed of revolution. That’s why, although Brazil is a major firearms exporter – it is generally illegal for the average Brazilian to be in possession of a firearm outside his or her residence.

      Of course, another reason may be that Brazilians kill each other at a greater rate than even gunslingers in the United States. The situation in Brazil is so dire that church and state even tried a weapons ban about a decade ago. That didn’t go anywhere!

      The Southern Hemisphere’s penchant for revolution started with rebellions against Spanish rule. While most South American countries had achieved independence before Andrew Jackson was elected President of the United States, at least one took a while longer. Guyana didn’t break away from Britain until the United States was embroiled in Vietnam.

      After ridding itself of European colonialism, South America began taking out its furry on the Big Stick ideology espoused by Theodore Roosevelt and its predecessor – the Monroe Doctrine.

      Perhaps Uruguayan journalist José Rodó best encapsulated early 20th century South America’s frustration with North America when he politely compared the United States to an imperialist beast. A less gentile comparison from south of the Rio Grande equated the United States to a meddlesome octopus.

      Interestingly enough, the United States’ preoccupation with South American politics hasn’t been exclusively confined to communism. America became annoyed when Argentina seemed to be cozying up to rightwing Nazi Germany during World War II! Basically, the United States is opposed anything opposed to its whims of the moment. (Those disinclined to agree should review Regan era Middle Eastern foreign policy.)

      Since the defeat of fascism, perhaps because it was the only big threat left, the United States has tended to discourage communism south of the border.

      In 1954 the United States encouraged a coup d’état to unseat Guatemalan’s democratically elected president. A few years later, violent protests in Venezuela almost terminated then vice-president Richard Nixon’s political career! Then, a few years after that, the United States supported the military overthrow of Brazil’s president. A year later, the United States invaded the Dominican Republic.

      Among the more far reaching interferences occurred when the United States injected itself into the internal politics of Chile the year before Richard Nixon resigned as president of the United States. The ensuing coup d’état not only replaced a civilian government with a military junta, it paved the way for one of the most brutal dictators of the era!

      During this period, the United States also went after Salvador’s Marxist president.

      The presidential administration of Ronald Reagan become so preoccupied with Nicaraguan politics that it created a scandal that came close to sandblasting Reagan’s teflon-president image. Since then, of course, there have been various efforts to destabilize Venezuela.

      Underneath the overt actions, the United States Army’s School of the Americas (SOA and WHINSEC) was busy teaching “anti-communist counterinsurgency training” to rightwing dictatorships from Central and South America. When that proved ineffective, the United States launched Operation Condor in an effort to either eliminate or mitigate Soviet influences in the region.

      Superficially, while it may appear to the more politically myopic that there is a lot of communism is Central and South America, closer inspection reveals that much of radical politics is less Marxist than it is anti-American.

      A quote from Che Guevara is worth recalling. The Cuban revolutionary observed:

      “The United States hastens the delivery of arms to the puppet governments they see as being increasingly threatened; it makes them sign pacts of dependence to legally facilitate the shipment of instruments of repression and death and of troops to use them”.

      Note that Guevara didn’t praise Marxism. Instead, he condemned the United States for maintaining “puppet governments” through force of arms and export of death. In many ways, his sentiments echo the words of Thomas Jefferson when the distinguished Founding Father from Virginia wrote:

      “[King George] has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures [and has] affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.”

      In other words, Jefferson was saying, the king was running roughshod over the Colonies with Britain’s military presence. Interestingly enough, this is much the same thing one hears about the United States from the Middle East.

      Only in the rather insular politics of the United States is it infinitely more palatable to blame communism or Islam that it is to admit that American greed has overstayed its welcome in many parts of the world. In doing so, much like the British and French of previous generations, the United States has managed to create its own enemies on both sides of the globe.

      Meanwhile, what better way is there in Central and South America to stand against America’s Big Stickism than to spout a few Marxist-Lenin sound bites and nationalize American businesses? Regardless of which party in power at the moment, it is guaranteed to drive Washington absolutely insane!

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