The Islamic Narrative

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by hairymonster1006, Dec 2, 2009.

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  1. Here is an interesting article published by the NY Times by Thomas Friedman discussing the cultural narrative espoused by a large proportion of the Arab and Islamic world. Whilst I don't agree with all that he says he does make some interesting points.

    America vs. The Narrative
    What should we make of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who apparently killed 13 innocent people at Fort Hood?
    Here’s my take: Major Hasan may have been mentally unbalanced — I assume anyone who shoots up innocent people is. But the more you read about his support for Muslim suicide bombers, about how he showed up at a public-health seminar with a PowerPoint presentation titled “Why the War on Terror Is a War on Islam,” and about his contacts with Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni cleric famous for using the Web to support jihadist violence against America — the more it seems that Major Hasan was just another angry jihadist spurred to action by “The Narrative.”
    What is scary is that even though he was born, raised and educated in America, The Narrative still got to him.
    The Narrative is the cocktail of half-truths, propaganda and outright lies about America that have taken hold in the Arab-Muslim world since 9/11. Propagated by jihadist Web sites, mosque preachers, Arab intellectuals, satellite news stations and books — and tacitly endorsed by some Arab regimes — this narrative posits that America has declared war on Islam, as part of a grand “American-Crusader-Zionist conspiracy” to keep Muslims down.
    Yes, after two decades in which U.S. foreign policy has been largely dedicated to rescuing Muslims or trying to help free them from tyranny — in Bosnia, Darfur, Kuwait, Somalia, Lebanon, Kurdistan, post-earthquake Pakistan, post-tsunami Indonesia, Iraq and Afghanistan — a narrative that says America is dedicated to keeping Muslims down is thriving.
    Although most of the Muslims being killed today are being killed by jihadist suicide bombers in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Indonesia, you’d never know it from listening to their world. The dominant narrative there is that 9/11 was a kind of fraud: America’s unprovoked onslaught on Islam is the real story, and the Muslims are the real victims — of U.S. perfidy.
    Have no doubt: we punched a fist into the Arab/Muslim world after 9/11, partly to send a message of deterrence, but primarily to destroy two tyrannical regimes — the Taliban and the Baathists — and to work with Afghans and Iraqis to build a different kind of politics. In the process, we did some stupid and bad things. But for every Abu Ghraib, our soldiers and diplomats perpetrated a million acts of kindness aimed at giving Arabs and Muslims a better chance to succeed with modernity and to elect their own leaders.
    The Narrative was concocted by jihadists to obscure that.
    It’s working. As a Jordanian-born counterterrorism expert, who asked to remain anonymous, said to me: “This narrative is now omnipresent in Arab and Muslim communities in the region and in migrant communities around the world. These communities are bombarded with this narrative in huge doses and on a daily basis. [It says] the West, and right now mostly the U.S. and Israel, is single-handedly and completely responsible for all the grievances of the Arab and the Muslim worlds. Ironically, the vast majority of the media outlets targeting these communities are Arab-government owned — mostly from the Gulf.”
    This narrative suits Arab governments. It allows them to deflect onto America all of their people’s grievances over why their countries are falling behind. And it suits Al Qaeda, which doesn’t need much organization anymore — just push out The Narrative over the Web and satellite TV, let it heat up humiliated, frustrated or socially alienated Muslim males, and one or two will open fire on their own. See: Major Hasan.
    “Liberal Arabs like me are as angry as a terrorist and as determined to change the status quo,” said my Jordanian friend. The only difference “is that while we choose education, knowledge and success to bring about change, a terrorist, having bought into the narrative, has a sense of powerlessness and helplessness, which are inculcated in us from childhood, that lead him to believe that there is only one way, and that is violence.”
    What to do? Many Arab Muslims know that what ails their societies is more than the West, and that The Narrative is just an escape from looking honestly at themselves. But none of their leaders dare or care to open that discussion. In his Cairo speech last June, President Obama effectively built a connection with the Muslim mainstream. Maybe he could spark the debate by asking that same audience this question:
    “Whenever something like Fort Hood happens you say, ‘This is not Islam.’ I believe that. But you keep telling us what Islam isn’t. You need to tell us what it is and show us how its positive interpretations are being promoted in your schools and mosques. If this is not Islam, then why is it that a million Muslims will pour into the streets to protest Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, but not one will take to the streets to protest Muslim suicide bombers who blow up other Muslims, real people, created in the image of God? You need to explain that to us — and to yourselves.”
    Frank Rich is off today.
  2. The "myth" has roots going back further in history. It's not uncommon for ME newspapers to mention the Treaty of Versailles as the cause of all evil because it apparently crashed the dream of one united Arab state and is seen as prove of Western influence in the region. Also 1948 (and WWII) is widely regarded in the ME as "Europeans making their problems ours". Suez, Six-Day War, Lebanon, GW-I, Ahmadinedjad's third bollox have all been blamed as reasons why their countries are in such a shit state. Arabs regard their own history of the last 100 years as a string of humiliating defeats and repression by the West. It's never their own responsibility of course. Not aimed at you hairymonster, but I'm a bit fed up with this attitude. :roll:
  3. If we - the West - stopped acting in a manner that is entirely consistent with The Narrative it might be easier to argue that it was wrong.

    You see how the author slipped in that we invaded Iraq and Afg to 'save' the inhabitants from tyrrany?

    Oh really?

    And if you want a proper twisted one-sided view of world events try watching Fox News.

    It's the old terrorist/freedom fighter thing again but I'm getting a bit fed up of the ME going up in flames and the septics turning round going 'Whaaat?'
  4. Nehustan

    Nehustan On ROPs

    I guess they were drawn in by Lawrence, dashing chap that he was. Historically one wonders just how bad living under the Turk could have been?
  5. I guess nobody at that time realised as such they were living under the Turk.... I take it that's your point :wink:
  6. Nehustan

    Nehustan On ROPs

    On the contrary. I think they very much realised it. I did some readings around this some years ago, and while they were both Muslim, the Turks treated Arabs really quite badly, which stuck in the throat of the Arabs as they were the tribes from which the Prophet came.

    I think the Hashim (descendants of Muhammad) were treated better than most under the Ottomans, and allowed to continue as Shariffs of Mecca, until the Sauds chased them out of the Hijaz.

    I think much Arab bitterness is that they believed the 'great powers' of the time and as per the Arab rebellion. I actually tell my wife that in some ways Arabs and Americans can be quite similar in their ability to be naive, trusting, and suffering from positivity bias. What's that quote ' Trick Me Once Shame On You, Trick Me Twice Shame On Me'
  7. I see your point, except that in my experience this quote doesn't work in the ME. It reads: "Trick Me a Gazillion Times, Shame On You. You. You. Again and Again."

    I'm probably a cynic.
  8. Nehustan

    Nehustan On ROPs

    It's much easier to objectify/project anger with yourself onto others, especially when they are partly to blame...perhaps that is often the most fierce anger?