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An Outsider Looking In

Reader comment on item: Winning the Propaganda War [versus Radical Islam]

Submitted by John Rampton (United States), Jan 8, 2006 at 19:55

Mr Pipes,

I'm a little inexperienced as to what you will allow to be published on this blog. This is a little windy, some may deem it offensive, and it may be a little graphic for some, so I submit this with cautious optimism that it will be posted.

But sir, I feel that some of your dialogue about the region of the ME is a little more reduced to passé than I'd like. Maybe I am a bit on the fringe. Enduring an actual experience similar to that which encompasses our deployed troops seems to arouse a certain cynicism in you that your non-participatory contemporaries never seem to appreciate. I find that most of the servicemembers are very limited as to what they will, and won't advocate. I think the optimism necessary for them to carry out their mission in the region doesn't allow them much room for critical thought. If there is anyone reading this who returned from serving in the Gulf, I hope this speaks for them as well.

To start out; as a sort of redaction to my earlier comments, I'd like to add some of my experiences with middle easterners. I spent some time in the Middle East not too long ago, conducting business in various locales with the hospital workers there. I found some of the things they did to be very contradictory, until I understood a little better where they were coming from, and what their communication meant. It didn't do much to make the region more favorable in my eyes, but it did allow me some closure to this enigma. And we all need to stereotype what is largely unknown in order to function on a day-to-day basis.

In the Middle East, if someone were to come to me and ask me for a favor; no matter how inconvenient, obtuse or obscure it would be, I was expected to promise them that I would do all in my power to accommodate them. If in fact I honestly didn't want to, or if it was just too demanding, I would simply say this to that person when he came to collect: "I'm sorry my 'friend', Allah just did not 'will' me to honor your request". This is considered to be the most honest, and accepted etiquette in the region. By Islam's standards, it seems that an honest man is a very submissive man; submissive to Allah. In a society which espouses Islam, you can disguise apathy, disdain, or your disgust for someone in your submission to Allah.

A more personal anecdote was when I was sending a STAT medical specimen out to a local hospital, and asked them to hurry with it. Their assurances appeared sincere, and I felt at the time I didn't have to worry about this person's blood results not coming back too late, as he depended on the prompt response. Four hours later, they were long overdue, and I called the hospital to ask them what had happened. A different shift worker was on the phone, and again, I got the assurances that this would be done. Assuming that it got mixed up in the shift change, I let it slip. Several hours passed, and again I had to call. Again, I was promised that the problem would be rectified, but yet it still was not done. I went to bed that night, after the patient had been stabilized, and there was nothing else to be done.

The next morning, the results were still not in. I called again, and talked with the manager. He was very polite with what was a very irate customer, to put it lightly. He assured me this wouldn't happen again. And again, I found myself being shorted the necessary results. I began to notice a cruel, systematic hoax, in that I couldn't depend on anyone's word in that hospital. I called the manager again, enraged at the prospect that he'd been so dishonest and cavalier with my patient's life. And then it hit me: every time he or anyone else said In ‘inShah Allah, it was like saying Allah himself would have to come down and perform the tests. After he told me "Allah didn't allow it to happen", then I understood.

As an American, I was last on the chain of events, and therefore, so was my patient. It didn't matter that another patient was coming in for a routine physical, and my patient was having a myocardial infarction; that person's results would be performed before mine, and perhaps even the down time was looked upon as "a break willed by Allah" - any excuse not to perform the tests. I was last on the totem pole. His prejudice of me; all the workers there as well, placed my patient's life on the bottom of importance because I was an American. The only word I can come up with in the English language to describe it would be groupthink on a societal level, but even that seems severely inadequate.

I also observed something else that made me think twice. After the last invasion of Iraq, I took a bus to Um Kasr, and met a military convoy for escort into Baghdad. We ran by some of the camps that kept prisoners of the Republican Guard, and one of the troops pointed out that the reason they were sorted into different camps by size was because the smaller sized captive troops would not survive the inevitable rapings that the larger-sized ones would most assuredly commit. At least with same-size segregation, they had a fighting chance. I stared at the soldier telling me this. Another beside him nodded convincingly, "It's true. Homosexuality runs rampant in this culture."

Now, the last person that needed to be lectured on the rampant practice of underground homosexuality in a largely abjuring society was me, as my occupation awarded me the knowledge of their secret bedtime practices under the hospital lab microscope; whether I wanted to know about it or not. Judging by the data, a large percentage of the male populace practices it, almost as if it's a norm.

But upon this incongruent epiphany, I scratched my head, wondering how people so zealous in a religion that purports itself to be of peace could behave so violently in the face of a little adversity. Or was it simply the lack of social order? Was it simply due to semi-harsh circumstances, or maybe due to having to endure a short visage of defeat, as their government institutions came crumbling down?

I was aware of the circumstances in Islam surrounding any fornication with; or even rape of, a female. The culture made no bones about the fact that either would result in a ritual, barbaric termination the female's life by a member of her own family. And although I didn't agree with it, it made sense to me why they would do that. Even the fact that men, on the other hand, weren't held to that, didn't seem to bother me. Perhaps the Islam male's sexual identity in this society was bifurcated just as a result of a young man's raging hormones needing an outlet, and with none to be found in a female without marriage, it thereby cultured unwritten acceptance of a practice which westerners are largely stigmatized against. But for men to treat their fellow Muslims with such wanton disrespect was a little difficult to understand. I was never able to come to a full understanding of that, as I am not Freud Wannabe, mapping male sexual behavior.

Thinking on this a bit further, there were questions more troubling. For instance: what do these troubling behaviors mean for a male in this culture when such a culture actually has a governmental structure in place? Are males coerced into this unmentioned practice through other means, such as the loss of their job, perhaps? Are they perhaps coerced by the collective apoplexy of secret gay undergrounds refusing to do business with them? Or would Allah himself "simply not 'will' for them to rely on anyone else's promise of business", who they hadn't first slept with, perhaps relegating them skulking to the lowly position of begging on the street?

My uncle shared an experience with me which I also found troubling about the region. When he was running a clinic in Afghanistan during a humanitarian outreach, as a guest worker (a little higher on the totem pole than TCN), he hired servants at about $1.50 a day, which was about double what was the going market rate. This was a big mistake. When the native people in the area found this out, they were not just jealous of the servants, they were downright wroth with him as well. He left to avoid any lynching. There's no telling what the servants had to go through after he left. Apparently, the locals felt that those servants were placed in their position because Allah was punishing them for whatever it was he was punishing them for (my uncle claims no one really knew for sure what they had done to deserve punishment). In their eyes, my uncle wasn't just helping them out of a bad spot; he was elevating their social status without the blessing of the church. Apparently, only religious clerics are allowed to recognize an elevation outside extremely good fortune of impossible luck.

After reviewing my experiences over there, and the prejudices that people harbored, I came to understand there is an unspecified, even undefined caste system which pervades the region. It seems that Islam appears to place individual human life with no value whatsoever, as juxtaposed with regards to individual identity, individual intelligence, or individual accomplishment. It seems more to place value on the status of an individual's family, an individual's current position, and even wealth; indirectly, as it is assumed one who is wealthy and a Muslim must deserve it, and be highly honorable to Allah. After all, Allah willed that person to be rich. Although westerners find no meaning or influence in it, Christians and Jews fall at the bottom such a caste, as it seems solidified by perceptions of Islam by its members.

When a Muslim kills another Muslim, or treats one with disrespect, I suppose it can possibly be hidden under the veil of Islamic society. Or perhaps it could be sold to fellow Muslims as the "will" of Allah, especially if the victim enjoys less social status than the assailant. When an American, or even a Jew for that matter, kills a Muslim, it can be quite inflammatory, because an American or Jew is less than the beggar on the street. They do not take their place in Muslim society, and do not submit to a god who is; for the most part, abstract and elusive in his motives, or his will, thereby making it impossible for one man to judge another based on action alone, as Allah's definition of rewardable behavior is elusive to human understanding. Through hype and demagoguery, it seems many Muslims have come to understand the west as a horde of thieving jackals, because to them, there is no way Allah would will americans with riches.

Furthermore, I observed that it seems that it was rarely; if ever, the human's life that people are enraged over, but rather a perceived challenge of, and the ostensible removal of the religious structure that cages them. It seemed that making Islam seem less believable to many Muslims may very well give them a more rousing, uncomfortable dichotomy that those Muslims has probably ever experienced, or are used to experiencing: the idea that Allah doesn't exist. Therefore, it seems understandable that they might take it into their own hands to make sure that Allah does exist, by laying the dichotomy of violation of the caste to rest.

Could this dichotomy be laid to rest by killing another's religion, through the killing of another's family, community or nation? Is this why the killing of Jewish children and civilians is considered acceptable terms of eye-for-an-eye warfare to an Islamofascist terrorist? Even the very nature in which they broadcast it to the world, it seems to me, is more of an attack on the supposed caste system that Christian or Jewish nations are supposed to espouse, rather than an attack on, or response to any perceived military threat; they somehow rationalize that by killing Christians and Jews, they are "righting the wrongs" their enemies religion put upon them.

It also decodes the peculiarity that, while Muslims love to witness martyrdom, the actual job of suicide bombing is left to the dregs of their society. Some people are so desperate for acceptance and status that they are willing to do just about anything to get it, even if they don't live to enjoy it. If one can build up Islam in anothers eyes by putting back in order what was out of order, one is revered.

When considering the idea of human life being meaningless, is that why it is considered so dangerous, and unthinkable for an individual to question the Koran? Do humans not; will they never possibly have, the acumen to understand Allah's motives in a humanistic understanding, and thereby challenge what most see as a tradition as old as Islam itself? Is that the reason why questioning devices of religion in Muslim society is equally unthinkable, no matter how contradictory? Is this the reason why a violation of the caste is to them as unthinkable? And also, does their understanding of Allah bleed over into their political realm? If it does, is there any hope for a functional democracy amongst those who are at each other's throats to prove their version of Islam is the correct one?

Here in the west, we are exacerbated by rousing dichotomies all the time, which stem from abuse of power by a father, a politician, or an American president. It is as much of a routine as is traffic, and we tend to get over it and move on. Even another church's abuse will enrage us, where before we coexisted with that religion peacefully, or even a church we espouse as individuals will tick us off to the point of apaostasy. Some of us are even enraged by other social orthodoxies who use their power of persuasion to dominate us, but that is another can of worms I will not open here. But I only wish to demonstrate that religion in the U.S. has endured its fair share of scrutiny, and for the most part, we've cleansed what is not conducive to our survival as a nation.

But in the Middle East, since the region is largely cut off from outside influence until lately, it appears that Islam's facets have not yet endured contraindication. The dichotomies that cleanse haven't yet been allowed, as people themselves are not even allowed to have any personal dichotomies within themselves whatsoever. The act of worrying itself is strictly forbidden as Allah is expected to take care of whatever it is they should be troubled over. The communication of In ‘Shah Allah tells them not so much that they don't need to worry, but rather that they are commanded not to worry about themselves, and accept the will of Allah; however arbitrary, spontaneous, or unintelligible the cards life is dealing them might seem. They seem to accept their cage of prostrate submission and get used to it; generations of parents handing down to their children the practice of severe submission, and being rasied to understand it for what it is: a structure that for the most part will enslave them.

This is something communism failed to ever do, because it doesn't represent itself correctly. When you try and control people by selling them on the idea that it is beneficial for them personally; even as a people, to be controled, many people will inevitably balk at the inconsistency. But at least Islam is honest in showing their constituency the cage it gives them. These willing followers seem to be very aware of the cage they are in, and so are not conditioned to fight against tyranny which hides behind Islam. It's amazing the lengths of suffering they will endure for the trade-off that they receive. And what is it that they get in return for being caged in submission? These followers receive "peace"; or what I would more aptly coin as irresponsible, dangerous complacency.

When their religion is challenged, and this "peace" they receive is disturbed, or seems to disappear, the only observed emotion I can put into words is that they are very afraid, and act much like an un-caged animal that has been caged all its life; irrational, aggressive, even fearful; fearful of the level of discomfort that freedom from their self-constructed cage might bring. When a Muslim is killed by an outsider, it will have challenged not only this unspoken, inferred caste system, but their awareness of The Islam on which it is built as a whole, hence telling them that Islam, and Allah, are not real.

In response to this arousal; despite the fractured nature of Islam, they will collectively act, doing as a group everything they can to transform the "victims" into "martyrs of Allah", and turn this into a holy war, rather than using what most would consider more accurate context. After all, such harmony and unison of such a reactionary, emotionally capitulating culture can only originate from the exact same motivation, as I would certainly not call it concise self-control. Such a people, who rarely are exacerbated into the simple act of having to worry about anything outside the walls of their homes, are dangerous when they experience unfamiliar sensations that worrying will bring. Change is very uncomfortable, and this emancipation from a cage that a follower is very used to seems definitely to be no exception.

Although no one can honestly contend Islam's belief in its own honesty as hypocritical, I don't think the U.S. should be yoked with them, because such free practice of a lack of accountability seemed to deviate from what westerners would call honesty. And likewise, much of what we would call honesty would be sneered at by them as evil and contradictory. I'm not sure I am able to call Islam self-contradictory, because for the most part you get what Islam sells you in exchange for what may or may not be an illusion, if you truly wish to believe it. It is pointless to try and prove the existence of a god, and so therefore one cannot demonstrate which god exists. However, while Islam purports itself to be the religion of peace, most westerners should, by their very own standards of definition, rephrase it as the religion of sheer and utter complacency for anyone or anything outside oneself, if those westerners possess any ethic which includes strict, plenary honesty.

As a sort of coda to my illustration, I speculate that while most contemporary philosophers are more in love with existentialism than positivism; or Kantian philosophy, one can only wonder how these intellectuals of the day can value individual expression as a moral imperative, and yet not do all they can to shed light on Islam's true nature of individuality prohibition. I often wonder: could it be that the presence of Christianity might cause such a severe cognitive dissonance in these intellects, that they would do what even they would consider unthinkable in any other circumstance, just to relieve it? Might Christianity conjure up unpleasant images of past association with religion? Certainly, this idiosyncrasy of the self-purported intellectual community cannot be explained away in such simple terms. But what is truly the most important to such a person in this situation? Might they; perhaps, be secretly praying to their pagan gods that Islam will conquer Christianity, offering the oblation of individual freedom?

Perhaps what an intellectual truly longs to be free of is the suffering that motivates him to a posture of this intolerable thirst for knowledge. Some people just can't enjoy life when they are thirsty; I guess, as they equate thirst with human suffering, and discomfort. Socrates demonstrated that an intellectual needs his intellectualism as much as he needs air, as in the self-righteous, pious cajole, he attempted to drown a man who sought simple wisdom without the motivation to drown a dichotomy of the man's own. Without a dichotomy, the man was probably more comfortable than most of his contemporaries, thereby coming across as insincere in his request to Socrates.

Might a rousing inner conflict; which modern Christianity may exacerbate, be the entire reason an intellectual cannot breathe without existentialism? In thought, word, and deed, theirs is a long, drawn out dialogue of atheistic mantra, which atheists I've encountered invariably hide behind. I think motive is shown in the very nature in which the heirs of scholarship downplay this ostentatious, oblivious, obliquation of self-contradiction, and the motive is a very narcissistic one. It seems that Muslims are not the only ones in a cage.

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Reader comments (85) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
Media propaganda [195 words]Nenette GrunbergAug 16, 2006 09:5253046
re:spreading democracy [38 words]Robert mooneyJan 13, 2006 15:4231578
An Outsider Looking In [3488 words]John RamptonJan 8, 2006 19:5531296
not the same [84 words]joe roseJan 8, 2006 12:5031277
More reflection is needed [710 words]John RamptonJan 6, 2006 18:2731199
1Propaganda in the Indian 'Midday.com' [398 words]SonaliJan 3, 2006 00:4230954
1Reply to Sonali [91 words]KhalidJan 3, 2006 01:0530954
1Reply to Khalid [270 words]SonaliJan 3, 2006 10:5030954
Reply to Sonali, Media [141 words]KhalidJan 8, 2006 02:0130954
1Reply to Khalid [15 words]SonaliJan 9, 2006 12:5030954
Winning the Propaganda War [versus Radical Islam] [473 words]NonBelieverMay 4, 2006 10:0830954
Malaysia's Family Law Bill that grossly violates [254 words]SumitraDec 30, 2005 11:5330785
Cultural influence modifying harsh women oppressive laws [888 words]FauziJamalMar 12, 2006 14:5330785
winning war [67 words]brooklynbobDec 30, 2005 11:0030782
Let us be optimistic about propaganda [443 words]N. BhatnagarDec 30, 2005 03:0330763
To Mr. Bhatnagar [138 words]M. Saleem AkhtarDec 30, 2005 14:4330763
Let Us Be Optimistic About Propaganda: A comment [213 words]Seamus MacNemiDec 31, 2005 00:4130763
The quickest way to lose a war. [81 words]Seamus MacNemiJan 1, 2006 23:5730763
Values plus understanding will win [96 words]Geoff Brown, Deephaven MSApr 6, 2006 10:4230763
A dire situation in the making [449 words]Seamus MacNemiDec 30, 2005 02:4130762
Reply to MacNeni [201 words]sullyDec 30, 2005 18:0930762
Reply to Sully [98 words]Seamus MacNemiDec 31, 2005 18:1230762
reply - trying to please the co-conspirators at the UN is futile [257 words]sullyJan 1, 2006 17:0430762
Reply to Mr. Sully [282 words]Seamus MacNemiJan 1, 2006 23:4530762
Failure to Thrive [185 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
DaisyDec 29, 2005 17:5630747
three equally bad choices [117 words]yuval brandstetterDec 29, 2005 16:1830743
Mullahs control the press in muslim countries [190 words]NaziaDec 29, 2005 15:2330741
The strengths of Islamic "education" [92 words]Ed BrophyDec 29, 2005 13:2530738
Der Fuerher's Face [247 words]Yehoshua ZellerDec 29, 2005 13:2430737
The Strategic Uses Of Satire [135 words]Seamus MacNemiDec 30, 2005 18:3330737
Is It Possible To Challenge The Hold Of The Religious Clergy On The Muslim Mind? [544 words]Rakshas 10 AnanDec 29, 2005 11:5430732
To Rakshas 10 Anan [273 words]M. Saleem AkhtarDec 29, 2005 15:4430732
To M S Akhtar: Madrassas are a law unto themselves [17 words]Rakshas 10 AnanDec 30, 2005 09:4530732
Reply to Saleem Akhtar [83 words]Ram KrishnaDec 30, 2005 23:4630732
4the toungue has no bone [931 words]abdelFeb 26, 2006 15:2630732
Hindus in Sindh [59 words]SindhiFeb 13, 2008 02:0230732
how can we be sure from the References ?? [54 words]Najmat AljadiJun 5, 2011 01:2730732
Winning the war [162 words]SHmuel HaLeviDec 29, 2005 05:2830722
Reply to My. HaLevi [157 words]Seamus MacNemiJan 2, 2006 00:2330722
No way you can beat faith with propaganda [235 words]BorisDec 28, 2005 21:5930715
reply: Boris [224 words]Donald ODec 30, 2005 15:3530715
MUNICH [37 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Robert ArbetmanDec 28, 2005 18:0930711
The Education of Karen Hughes [221 words]Peter JonesDec 28, 2005 13:1430700
What will be won with our "message"? [123 words]Ed BrophyDec 28, 2005 13:1230699
Winning and envy [318 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
JamesDec 28, 2005 10:2730690
response to Dr. Pipes response to my letter, 'winning'. [411 words]JamesDec 28, 2005 17:5430690
"Propaganda" still needed [138 words]Dennis MurphyDec 28, 2005 10:0330689
Completely agree with Dr. Pipes.. [116 words]M Saleem AkhtarDec 28, 2005 09:5330688
Walk Softly But Carry A Big Stick!!! [136 words]RPaineDec 28, 2005 08:4630685
Further Research [82 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Samuel SchwartzDec 28, 2005 07:5930683
What is the practical implication of your solution? [156 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
N HordesDec 28, 2005 07:4130681
Good ONLY to the last drop/line [326 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Donald YoungDec 27, 2005 20:3130664
Losing the Propaganda War [362 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Reuben HorneDec 27, 2005 20:2130663
Winning the propaganda war [181 words]steven lDec 27, 2005 20:1530662
Is The Status Quo In The West's Best Interests? [484 words]Bill NarveyDec 27, 2005 20:0230661
We just don't understand them! [124 words]Nathan RosenblattDec 27, 2005 19:4630660
Hear Hear [65 words]Richard D. CritesDec 28, 2005 15:3630660
Reply to Mr. Rosenblatt [250 words]Seamus MacNemiJan 1, 2006 19:0430660
Influencing Muslim opinion [218 words]Donald W. BalesDec 27, 2005 19:3230658
Re: Propaganda war [92 words]Nena SariDec 27, 2005 19:1630657
Ayesha and Jaladhi are right [301 words]JaneDec 27, 2005 18:4230655
Broadcasting to the Muslim World [169 words]Leonard MarkowitzDec 27, 2005 18:0730654
How to win a war? [114 words]Behrouz AzarniaDec 27, 2005 17:0130653
What Values? [591 words]ddsDec 27, 2005 16:5130651
Islam will go down in ashes, literally [188 words]George SiterDec 27, 2005 15:2930648
Propaganda War - Lies, Lies and More Lies. [88 words]JaladhiDec 27, 2005 14:4430646
"Truth in news dispensing" laws needed? [284 words]Merry WhitneyDec 27, 2005 14:1530644
Muslims don't blame their culture for worldwide Islamic terrorism! [243 words]Nonie DarwishDec 27, 2005 12:5730638
Another form of terrorism [414 words]Kenneth S. BesigDec 27, 2005 12:5230637
Counter-strategy [100 words]VijayDec 27, 2005 12:3330635
Information in the Muslim World [207 words]Paul BowmanDec 27, 2005 12:2030632
3The Qur'an says: "Disbelievers are liars" (16.39) [124 words]AyeshaDec 27, 2005 14:4430632
They use lies , selective info and cover ups [385 words]N. KhanDec 28, 2005 15:1230632
Reply to N. Khan on "They use lies , selective info and cover ups" [95 words]Rachelle AssoulineJan 2, 2006 13:4430632
Response to Racchelle Assouline [196 words]N. KhanJan 5, 2006 13:2630632
Disbelievers are liars and fool non Muslims and Muslims [119 words]Adam KhanJun 6, 2019 17:4530632
2Our dear Adam Khan and "believers" are liars and fool non Muslims aka التقية! [232 words]dhimmi no moreJun 8, 2019 06:0530632
1Guiding the perplexed our dear Adam Khan al-tablighee and the Islamic doctrine of الجهاد في سبيل الله [150 words]dhimmi no moreJun 8, 2019 07:1130632
Our dear Adam Khan صلى الله عليه وسلم knows what the Qur'an says! Dear readers: read and laugh [114 words]dhimmi no moreJun 8, 2019 09:0730632
Guiding the perplexed our dear Adam Khan al-tablighee and the Arabic for today?:ومنكم نستفيد! [354 words]dhimmi no moreJun 9, 2019 07:0030632
Our dear Adam Khan صلى الله عليه وسلم tells us that the Qur'an says ان الكفار كذابين! Mashallah [43 words]dhimmi no moreJun 9, 2019 07:0530632
Our dear Adam Khan disagrees with his Allah استغفرالله! And the Islamic doctrine of القضاء والقدر! [196 words]dhimmi no moreJun 9, 2019 11:0330632
Adequate Solution Needed [170 words]David BaschDec 27, 2005 12:0630631
حملة العداء ضد الصحافة الغربية أقوى منها [341 words]mohamed.mDec 27, 2005 12:0330630
PropAganda [45 words]Barry WolfeDec 27, 2005 11:5930629

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