From September 11th, 2001 to December 2nd, 2015 a number of very important events concerning the relationship between the Western and Islamic civilizations have occurred. During this interval the media have not described the facts, but have offered and accumulated, one above the other, countless narratives about facts. Now the layers of overlapping narratives are so tick that facts are hidden. The most recurrent interpretive narratives are essentially two: Marxist and Anti-Huntington. What is primarily needed at this stage is not propping forth another, supposedly better, narrative, but refuting those interpretive paradigms for the sake of uncovering and restating the factual reality.
Proponents of the Marxist narrative are the same persons that in the 1970s were openly on the side of Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot and everyone who was fighting against the United States, seen as the liberal-capitalist power par excellence. They systematically ignored (or pretended to ignore) or downplayed the magnitude of the crimes committed by the enemies the United States, or even attributed those crimes to the United States themselves.
For example, when it turned out that in Cambodia a genocide of vast proportions was occurring, many of them (including Tiziano Terzani – known for having authored a book against Oriana Fallaci in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks) maintened that the Cambodians were being massacred by CIA agents disguised as Khmer Rouge … (for the record, between 1975 and 1979, the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot, not agents of the CIA, killed about 2.5 million people). Today the kind of Marxists who were young in the 1960s, when they used to ‘occupy’ universities, seem unable to have much antipathy for terrorists, given that the terrorists are fighting against the United States. So, they try to reinvent the Islamic terrorists by describing them as “victims” of the so-called Western imperialism and that Al Qaeda and the Islamic States were established and financed by the US. So, in their opinion, the same terrorist groups which are fighting against the United States have been created by the Americans. Indeed, those former young Marxists do not seem very good at using the elementary logic.
To understand how it becomes possible to portray terrorists as “victims” to whom apologize, we must briefly review the fundamentals of Marxism. Marxism preaches that humanity is divided into two classes that fight each other without interruption (“class struggle”): the rich people (bourgeois-capitalists) and the poor people (workers-proletarians). The former have taken advantage of the latter, whom consequently have the right and duty to rebel with “revolutionary violence.” Yesterday the rich have exploited the poor within Western countries, today the Western countries (the rich and capitalists countries) exploit the countries of the Third World (the poor countries) and consume seventy-five percent of world resources. Over the last decade the Western countries, not yet satisfied, have sent armies to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria just to steal some other oil wells (the famous “oil wars”).
At the same time, right within the Western countries, the locals treat with contempt Muslim immigrants, forcing them to live art the margins of society. Tired of being mistreated in and out of their countries, some Muslims have chosen the path of armed uprising. Although they say they have only religious objectives, in reality the terrorists have only political-economic goals, the most important of which is to free the Muslims from the oppression of the West.
Every time the terrorists act somewhere in the West, the old Marxists seem unable to condemn them without any “but”, “if” or “however”. “The attacks in New York, Madrid, London, Boston, Paris and San Bernardino,” they say, “are consequences of the oil wars started by Bush.” So, from their point of view, not the terrorists but the victims are to be blamed. Consequently, the latter would do well to suffer in silence because they deserve it and because, if they try to react, they are to trigger the “spiral of violence”: “If we will respond to the violence of their attack on the Twin Towers with an even most terrible violence – now in Afghanistan, then Iraq, then who knows where – they will fatally respond wiht even more horrible violence and then our violence will follow and so on. Why we do not stop before this all happens?” (Tiziano Terzani, St. Francis and the Sultan, Corriere della Sera, October 7th, 2001).
To belie the Marxists arguments, you just need to confront them with a little bit of reality. First, it is true that the West consumes seventy-five percent of the world’s wealth but it is equally true that, before eating it, it produces it. In addition, every year the West pours rivers and mountains of aid onto African countries and buys oil from the Arab countries. Rather than helping the poor in their countries, the Africans satraps use the Western money to fatten their personal fortunes and finance their tribal wars (as African economist Dambisa Moyo reminds us). Instead to create jobs in Muslim countries, the Emirs use oil money to buy gold taps, open mosques and Islamic cultural centers in Western countries and finance terrorists.
On the other hand, Muslim immigrants in the West seem much less poor than many other immigrants: they fill the cities of minimarkets, Islamic butcher shops and takeaways. The salary he was earning in a centre for disabled, allowed Sayed Farouk – the author of the massacre of San Bernardino – to pay for a home loan and travel to Saudi Arabia. Brahimi Abdeslam, the terrorist who blew himself up in the Boulevard Voltaire on November 13th last year, ran an eatery in Molenbeek, the Arab neighborhood of Brussels. Amedy Coulibaly, the terrorist who attacked the Hyper Cacher in January 2015, had long worked in a Coca Cola factory (there are many indigenous Europeans who, in these times of crisis, would give a kidney to have the job he had).
To make things worse, the Western “exploiters” give to distressed immigrants public housing and subsidies of all sorts (the same indigenous Europeans, would give the other kidney to get a council house in a Parisian banlieue). Orphaned at an early age, the Franco-Algerian brothers Said and Chérif Kouachi – the infamous perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo massacre – had grown up in a family home paid for by french taxpayers. Many jihadists have learned to live at the expense of the “infidel taxpayer”. Sweden assists “from the cradle to the grave” Muslim immigrants who thank Swedes by regularly putting fire onto Swedish suburbs. By contast, the terrorist leaders do not need to work or receive any benefits, because their families are filthy rich.
So the Muslims seem to be anything but the victims of many or few social injustices. But even if were true that Westerners exploit Muslims, well even in that case it would be impossible to depict religious terrorism as an effect (superstructure) of economic and social injustices. The world is full of poor and oppressed people who do not choose the path of terrorism and it is full of terrorists who are neither poor nor oppressed by anyone.
To cut to the chase, the religious ideology (or pseudo-religious: take your pick) of the terrorists is strikingly similar to an ideology which was born and died in Europe in the last century: Nazism. Historians who state that the rapid growth of Nazism in Germany was a consequence of the economic and monetary crisis caused by the war debts and the stock market crash in 1929, must explain why the Great Depression of the thirties has devastated many other countries besides Germany but in none of them germinated something comparable to Nazism. And then, of what kind of social injustices were victims the members of the SS and the torturers of the extermination camps?
As regards the so-called “oil wars”, they have nothing to do with oil. The US and its allies did not intervene in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria to steal oil or to get new colonies. The only goal they had was to overthrow dictatorial regimes that appeared to collude (and perhaps in part they were really colluding) with terrorist organizations. Now we know that the masteminds of terrorism are hiding in the Arabian Peninsula, and that the regimes that were toppled were largely preferable to the terrorist regimes that have taken their place.
In conclusion, over the last fifteen years the US and its allies have been hitting the wrong targets in the Middle East. However, anyone who is attacked by enemies has the right to defend himself and fight back (considering that the best defense is robust offense). Why does not anyone ever remember 9/11? So one can ask Western nations to choose the right targets well before striking, but no one should not ask them not to strike back, not to react, but to suffer in silence.
Indeed, Marxists would like Westerners to suffer in silence. In fact, they think that Westerners deserve violence and by defending themselves they would trigger a “spiral of violence”. Probably, in 1939 Terzani would have advised the Allied Powers not to react to the ‘provocations’ of Hitler and make him other concessions, after having granted him the Sudetenland in a gift basket. Actually, I daresay, when the Allied armies razed Germany, they did not feed the ‘spiral of violence’: they interrupted it. It seems unlikely that, if tomorrow morning Western armies intervene in Syria, the day after tomorrow the attacks in Western countries would multiply. According to elementary logic, the more the number of terrorists decreases, the lower the number of attacks.
In hindsight, we can say that in the 1980s the US has done wrong to finance the Taliban and other Sunni organized group that fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan. At that time, Washington believed, naively, that “those who fight against my enemies are my friends.” They have yet to realize that those who fight against your enemies can be your enemies. They still have not come to terms with wath the historian Samuel Huntington (died in 2008) have called “clash of civilizations”. Signally, the vision of the eminent historian is not consistent with the Marxist view. In short, according to Marx a people’s culture and the religion is only the ‘superstructure’ of the economic and social ‘structure’. Allegorically speaking, it might be argued that in the Marxist view the ultimate end of a human being’s choices and actions is to satisfy his/her stomach.
If one assumes that the economy is the ‘structure’, one always has to believe that all wars between peoples, even those ‘of religion’ have only and exclusively economic and political roots and goals. Well, the American historian has dealt a blow to the Marxist view by showing that, in fact, the major wars of the last century had mainly cultural and ideological motivations. He warned us that, after the end of the Cold War, the confrontation between the Soviet bloc (the champion of the communist ideology) and the West (bearer of the liberal-capitalist standard) was to be followed by the clash between the Western civilization (which carries values that, directly or indirectly, stem from Christianity) and the other civilizations, particularly the Islamic civilization.
Huntington’s thesis unavoidably scandalize all the “intellectuals that count”, even the non-Marxist among them, since they unconsciously reason in Marxist terms. If history confirms even partly Huntington’s assertions, they will be forced to publicly admit that they have always being wrong in their life (and Western thought could finally get rid of the rancid remnants of derivative Marxism). More importantly, if Huntington is right, we have to expect a future of blood and tears. Out of fear, all those intellectuals and journalists therefore compete in proving the American professor wrong and silencing anyone who dares to even pronounce the words “clash of civilizations”. In short, they appear to think that it is enough to speak of “clash of civilizations” to make it real (“self-fulfilling prophecy”) and vice versa it is enough not to talk about it to avert its occurrence. I would like to ask them if, for not developing cancer, it is enough to forget that cancer exists and to silence the oncologists.
To confute the “clash of civilizations” theory, the aforementioned intellectuals and journalists keep chanting that Islam is not a single monolithic block, that there are many different Islams, that the true Islam is moderate Islam, that the majority of Muslims are moderate and that moderate Muslims can easily integrate into Western society. If they have to talk about the crimes against women committed by Muslim immigrants, the ‘enlightened’ intellectuals and journalists usually add that there are European men who abuse and kill women (the propaganda on ‘femicide’ is on full steam). And if they must speak of attacks by Islamist terrorists, they seek to remove the adjective “Islamic”, “Islamist” or “Muslim”. “Terrorists have no religion,” they say. Also, they remove the responsibility from the terrorists’ shoulders and they put it on the shoulders of Western society: “The fault is on the government, which has failed to introduce effective policies for the integration, and it is the fault of all those who criticize the Muslim culture. ”
Their thoughts on identity and Islamophobia are very confused. In their eyes, if a person utters some critical words against the Muslim community in which terrorists have grown, that person ceases being a human and becomes an evil “islamophobe”. According to them, in fact, criticizing Muslims is tantamount to “fomenting hatred” and “fomenting hatred” brings terrorism upon. According to this faulty logic, terrorism would be a product of the criticism of terrorism. Also, such intellectuals and journalists seem to think that the reason why numerous Muslims immigrants are attracted by violent fundamentalism is that they are disgusted and scared by the West’s cultural and religious identity. From this point of view, if we really want to be loved by the Muslims, we must strive to hate ourselves and we must dissolve our identity in the acid of multicultural nihilism (because multiculturalism is synonymous with nihilism: if all cultures are of equal value, their value is then equal to zero). In other words, to prevent that the prophecy of the “clash of civilizations” from eventuating, we should estinguish our civilization, since it is impossible to clash against nothingness. From that same point of view, based on a twisted logic, one has to commit suicide not to be killed.
It is quite easy to refute the arguments against the Huntington’s thesis. First, the scholars of Islam explain that “moderate Islam” does not mean “reformist Islam.” There are certainly some reformist intellectuals, who want to bring Western values inside the Islamic culture, but they are very few and they do not communicate with the masses of the so-called “moderates”, who do not adhere to fundamentalism and do not practice terrorism but, at the same time, do not condemn with conviction and do not fight either. The demonstrations of ‘moderate Muslims’ against terrorism that took place in the aftermath of the November 13th attacks have been anything but massive: in Paris just thirty Muslims showed up, and less than a thousand people in Italy, half of which were non-Muslims. At the same time, we heard that in Varese (Italy) some Moroccan students left their classroom during the minute of silence dedicated to the victims of Paris, that in a Turkish stadium thousands of Turkish spectators booed during the minute of silence dedicated to the victims of Paris, and that the Muslim inmates of the Cosenza’s prison (Italy) celebrated the success of the attacks in Paris, that a piece of dance music entitled “Allahu Akbar” began to climb the charts after 13 November, that twenty percent of Muslims in Italy does not condemn the attacks in Paris (according to a survey conducted by the Italian state TV) and, finally, that eighty percent of the Arabs root for the Islamic State (according to a survey conducted by Al Jazeera).
Let us look on the bright side: eighty percent of the Muslims in Italy condemn terrorism, albeit with little enthusiasm. But even if there weren’t any Islamic terrorism, an enormous problem would remain unaddressed: the vast majority of Muslims do not want to give up to values, customs and practices that are incompatible with ours. In other terms they do not want to become fully Western. We know that many Muslims marry more than one woman with impunity, beat and segregate their wives, infibulate and force their daughters to marry unknown old men and even kill them if they fall in love with ‘infidels’. We know that entire neighborhoods in many European cities are subject to sharia (the native Europeans can not even pass through those places without risking their incolumity). As violence against women, many sanctimonious intellectuals and journalists always forget to point out that in Europe the acts of violence against women committed by a few million Muslim immigrants, are far more numerous than similar crimes by many millions of indigenous Europeans. And they forget to specify that a European man, when does violence onto a woman, breaks European laws, while a Muslim man, when acting violently against a woman, does not break entirely his traditional laws. We may invent and experiment, one after another, all sorts of ‘integration policies’, but all those policies will be ineffective. The ultimate truth is that it is by definition impossible integrate in our society those who do not want to integrate.
Finally, one might think that our security is worth sacrificing our spiritual identity the same way some people before 1991 used to say: “Better Red than dead.” Today’s mantra might be: “Better nihilist than dead.” The only problem is that the multicultural nihilism cannot keep us safe. In fact, the countries where the Western-Christian identity has been annihilated more effectively are also the most Islamized ones. Just look at one of the countries that, in these months, have been in the spotlight: Belgium. Some of the November 2015’s terrorists lived in Molenbeek: a Brussels’ area which is now a small Islamic citadel within the Belgian nation. Ironically, last year a film with a telling title came out: God Exists, He Lives in Brussels, And He’s Kind of a Dick (Jaco Van Dormael, Luxembourg, France, Belgium, 2015). One critic defined it as a “politely blasphemous movie.” While the native Belgians enjoy politely deriding the Triune God, the believers in the one God occupy their cities. The space left empty by the Judeo-Christian identity, values and culture is destined to be filled by the identity, values and culture of someone else.
In conclusion, two dominant narratives that conceal the factual truth warrant examination. The Marxist narrative predicates that islamist terrorism stems from the economic and social injustices perpetrated by the West, while the anti-Huntington narrative posits that ‘Islamophobia’ and the arrogance of the West can turn moderate and peaceful Muslims into violent fundamentalists. These two narratives are based on an ideological axiom (which was denounced by Alain Finkielkraut a decade ago) according to which the Westerners ‘act’ while the non-Westerners ‘react’. If the former assume that the latter ‘react’, they will always try not to annoy them by acting as little as possible or not acting at all.
According to legions of intellectuals and journalists (with the exception of the few “islamophobes” among them), the Westerners should meet every need and desire of the Muslim immigrants. On the other hand, the apparently integrated Muslims have learned that, in order to get everything they want, they have to repeat the arguments they read on the leftist newspapers or hear from talk shows: “Some Muslims become terrorists because of the Crusaders, who attacked the Islamic countries in the Middle Ages; because of the European nations, which have colonized the Muslim nations in the nineteenth century; because of the Americans, who today bomb the Muslim countries; and also because of the xenophobic Westerners, who marginalize young Muslims and force them to live in suburban ghettos. And, finally because of the government, which prevents the Muslims from opening all the mosques they intend to have.”
Now, no one is without sin, but some people sin more than others. The West has certainly made many mistakes but has never threatened to destroy Islam. It is not true that Western nations exploit and oppress the ‘Islamic World’ and that Westerners mistreat Muslim immigrants. Also, it is false that the success of fundamentalism is a consequence of Western “Islamophobia” (actually, the so-called Islamophobia is a consequence of the virulence of Islamist fundamentalism). “We haven’t created this monster with our neo-colonial policies. We’re not paying for our crimes. […] The jihad is not an afterclap, but a project of conquest. The West must rid itself of the megalomaniac delusion that it’s the one always deciding and leading the dances” (Alain Finkielkraut, Republic, 22 November 2015).
If someone is trying to kill you, you do not start listing up your sins in thought, word, deed and omission from your childhood to the present day: you just try to stop the assassin. Ruthless enemies want to destroy us and our civilization. How much longer are we going to talk about Islamophobia, social exclusion, crusades, colonialism, neo-colonialism and oil wells before we start confronting those enemies seriously? Muslims in Western countries have never sincerely condemned Islamist terrorism and they have never handed the police even one of the many terrorists who grew up in their communities. When are we going to finally begin treating Muslim immigrants as responsible adults? When will we eventually start looking at what they do in words, deeds, and omissions? We cannot do anything to integrate them in our society: it is they who have to integrate. They have to condemn terrorism and flush out, one by one, the fanatics that lurk in their communities. It is they who must act.
*Giovanna Jacob holds an MA in Art History from the University of Milan (Italy). She is a freelance journalist who publishes extensively in several Italian conservative and Catholic online magazines, including “Tempi”. She also collaborates with Acton University in Grand Rapids, Michigan (USA).