NEW YORK AND CHAOS
September 11, 2001
Chaos theory demonstrates that one event can trigger a cascade of subsequent events, leading, ultimately, to the complete disruption of a system. Regarding the terrorist incidents in America, the following is one possible cascade.
- The leaders of the faith of Islam pronounce that those who martyr themselves in the service of the faith ascend directly to heaven and sit closest to God.
- Zionist communities begin to move to Palestine in the years prior to World War I. Palestine at this time is under the control of the Ottoman Empire, via Syria. England wins control of Palestine in World War I. In subsequent decades Zionist immigration continues on a massive scale, leading to Arab unrest.
- In the later decades of the first half of the 20th century, large deposits of oil are exploited in Arabia and Iran. This leads to the transfer of great wealth to the local populations and the subsequent rise of well-financed Islamic power.
- Following World War II, and a Zionist revolt, the British pull out and the Zionists take control of Palestine, which then becomes Israel.
- More than a million Palestinians are subsequently displaced, thrown out of their villages and off their land, and turned into refugees.
- Some five decades later, the Israeli Prime Minister is assassinated by an extremist Israeli man, just shy of the completion of an unprecedented peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority.
- Subsequently, Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud Party is narrowly elected Prime Minister. He initiates a series of provocative steps towards the Palestinians, including a rapid expansion of Orthodox Jewish settlements throughout the West Bank, tunneling under an Islamic holy site from which the Prophet Mohammed reportedly ascended to heaven, etc.
- After an interim administration, Ariel Sharon, former Israeli Defense Minister, now on trial in Belgium for war crimes against the Palestinians while in that post, is narrowly elected Prime Minister. He embarks on an aggressive offensive against the Palestinians, leading to approximately 700 Palestinian deaths, and 200 Israeli deaths, so far.
- The United States Supreme Court rules for George Bush in the 2000 presidential election. The Bush administration assumes an isolationist stance and backs out of the Middle East peace process.
- Sharon, emboldened by the Bush administration passivity, increases his aggression.
- The U.S. does not, forcefully, speak out against this.
- Around the world a consensus develops that Israeli actions amount to state sponsored terrorism and ethnic cleansing. Discussion of this at the Racism Conference in South Africa leads Israel and the United States to withdraw from the conference.
- All Arab elements in the Middle East, even those which are moderate, conclude that the United States no longer has any pretensions of acting independently and promoting peace, that it fully supports Israel, and that it is therefore unequivocally and definitively the enemy of the Palestinians.
- Terrorists, Arab terrorists, attack the United States.
Extreme Islam considers America to be its primary enemy. While the avowed reason for this is our support of Israel, there are other, deeper factors at work:
- Islam is based on dictatorship. It is a dictatorial system that justifies the rule of the many by the few. Under Islam such oppression takes the worst forms: slavery, torture, the subjugation of women, and of other people with different faiths.
America, in principle, although regularly not in action, is pro-democracy.
- Islam, at least in practice, is based on violence. (Mullahs regularly call from their minarets for the violent overthrow of non-Muslim societies.) It motivates the most heinous, terrorist acts, acts unimaginable to reasonable people, using the supernatural fairy tale of martyrdom. Those who die in the service of holy war, the Islamic Jihad, immediately ascend to heaven and sit next to God (as if God, if such a being exists, would welcome the presence of such people). Indeed, if you kill a thousand, you get to sit closer than those who kill only a hundred, or ten.
America, although regularly itself a source of unethical violence, is the strongest power in the world. The proponents of Jihad have no answer to this strength other than petulance the sacrifice of brainwashed individuals in terrorist acts.
The hatred of America
The people of the United States should recognize that many people around the world hate us. However, within this overall group there are a number of subgroups, with different reasons for their emotion.
Some people hate us (1) because they are unethical and we oppose them. One might think of the Chinese dictators and their desire to invade Taiwan, which without our presence they would undoubtedly do. However, other people hate us (2) because of our own unethical actions, or (3) because of our support for other unethical parties.
For the first group, we should not change our behavior. Instead, we should be stronger, far stronger, in our opposition to them.
For those parties in the second group, we should recognize that the path to self-delusion is much easier to follow than the one to self-knowledge. We should look at ourselves very carefully in the mirror. We should think of, and confront, all of the characteristics and values that we have but which we ignore or evade, both as a nation and as individuals.
And then, we should change. We must recognize that if so many people hate us, they cannot all be unethical or brainwashed. There are probably some good reasons for their views.
For example, turning to the third group, there is our support of other unethical individuals and institutions. We should cut this support, and convert it into the strongest form of opposition; i.e., we should add them to the first group.
The opportunities of chaos
There is no better way to honor the dead than to confront and defeat the parties that are responsible. As the above description shows, there is no easy answer to, or even understanding of, the terrorist acts in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. Furthermore, political and media commentary, and, subsequently, public opinion, will center on only the most superficial of appraisals and responses. But at any point in time, and certainly following a trauma of this magnitude, there is the possibility to dig deeper and go after the source.
We cannot focus solely on the symptoms, in this case hate, and a small group of suicidal terrorists who acted on it, or even on those who helped organize and sponsor their terrorism. We are going to have to go further, much further, than that.
Terrorism is a symptom, not the underlying problem. Symptoms can only be treated; it is the problems that must be solved. (And if they are not, the symptoms will recur.)
Because of the terrorism, the following commentary must be made. (Such ideas should have entered the public debate a long, long time ago.) All religions have a variety of goals; those that derive from their founders, and those that are added, including via interpretations, by their subsequent leaders. Foremost among these is the goal of increased popularity, if not control and domination. The various organized religions have struggled throughout the ages to achieve dominance for their faiths. (This can be termed a religious monopoly.)
However, people need to learn to draw distinctions. All religions are not the same. They vary tremendously both in the fundamentals of their belief systemc and the specifics of their application. Also, such fundamentals and specifics are regularly in conflict between the religions. Modern interfaith services notwithstanding, the major organized religions remain longstanding enemies.
As an example of such a distinction, in the present day Islam and Judaism are the only religions that have substantial if any factions that preach holy war and bloody murder.
There is a very positive form in modern society that we should not discriminate on the basis of sex or race or ethnicity, or, religious belief. However, the last must be qualified. There is a subtle distinction here. The idea of nondiscrimination is that people should not be judged on the basis of a characteristic which they cannot help having; through birth being the member of a particular group. Instead, they we all should be judged as individuals: on this basis alone. The distinction here is that people cannot change their sex or race or ethnicity, but this does not apply to religion. While you may be born to a religion, you are not irrevocably tied to it.
Said another way, we should not blindly tolerate all religious practices. Many such practices are themselves discriminatory. We have no obligation to tolerate intolerance, and this extends to intolerant religions as well. For example, one might consider the opposition that would arise to a faith that practiced human sacrifice and cannibalism. Furthermore, if you are under attack, you must defend yourself, and your family, from whomsoever your attacker might be. Conventional wisdom, or political correctness, says that we cannot we are not allowed to fight a religion, any specific religion, regardless of its practices. This is not true. In such a case we can, and must.
Considering all of this, the following should be targeted:
- Extreme Islam, and, without the reform of the faith, Islam as a whole. As we just saw, religions do not automatically deserve our respect, or even permission from society as a whole to exist. If they behave unethically, they must be opposed. If their ethical flaws are systemic, and inseparable from the faith, then I leave it to you, the reader, to draw your own conclusions.
Regarding the Koran and Islam, one would tend not to conclude that this was the case (except regarding its treatment of women, witness the pronouncements in Surah 4 of the Koran, especially verse 34). But, given the conditions in Muslim populations worldwide, most of which have extremist factions, which, if not supported by the general populations, are certainly not the subject of great opposition, the question must be asked. Is Islam a legitimate form of spirituality, which form is enlightening and which offers many benefits to its adherents, and limited negative consequences for non-believers? Or, is it a social structure organized by its leaders its religious and political autocrats to further only their own selfish ends, even when this involves unconscionable effects both on such adherents and the general public of the world?
Extreme Islam, its supporting mythology, and its underlying power structure, starting with the extremist mullahs themselves, and beginning in Saudi Arabia, the home of Islam, must be fought, and there is no better time to start doing it than now.
- Extreme Judaism. Extremist Israelis are no better than extremist Muslims; really, they comprise two sides of the same coin. Zionism has evolved from the goal of establishing a Jewish homeland to a policy of ethnic cleansing, which is remarkable given all that the Jews have suffered historically, particularly under the Nazis. Extreme Judaism, starting with the belief that the Jews are the Chosen People, and extending through to their own form of holy war, against the Palestinians, and including such things as the establishment of Orthodox Jewish settlements in the West Bank; the practices of assassination, and the torture of prisoners; and the annexation of East Jerusalem, must be opposed, and with the greatest effort possible.
The opportunities of chaos that stem from the terrorism extend far beyond recognizing that barbaric religious practices must end, and then working to accomplish this. The public will has been marshaled, and this can be applied to the fight against dictatorship worldwide, in all its forms. The terrorists thought that the chaos they created would serve their purposes. In fact, not only can it be used to defeat them, it can be redirected, in numerous directions if we are quick on our feet to defeat much of what is reprehensible in the modern world. Planes crashing into buildings in New York are the symbolic expression of all extremism and dictatorship.
We have been given a catalyst, a horrible catalyst, which we would be irresponsible not to grasp. This can be a turning point in human history, and, if we respond correctly, it will be.
U.S. support of dictatorship
The U.S. government has a sordid history of sponsoring dictatorial regimes around the world, helping (e.g., through the CIA) to set many of them up, and fund them, and arm them, paving the way for their widespread perpetration of crimes against humanity. This sponsorship has extended to the present day, in such places as Indonesia and Israel. Support of dictatorship is still considered an acceptable government policy, if it can be used as a means to achieve U.S. goals. Such crimes and other travesties are merely collateral damage; to our political leaders, acceptable collateral damage.
With a reduction in open conflict around the world, this policy has been transformed to one of providing economic support. We wholeheartedly support political dictatorships through constructive engagement, and then turn a blind eye to their crimes. For example, we refuse to confront the Chinese dictatorship, and Saudi Arabia, in return for economic gains.
We must force our government to conduct foreign policy on the basis of principle, including foreign commercial policy. We must demand that the government vigorously oppose all of the dictatorships of the world. If you are unsure as to their identity or number, we refer you to Freedom House (www.freedomhouse.org), which has a list of some sixty countries and territories around the world that have been appraised Not Free.
The primary problem is that to grasp such an opportunity the general public must be energized. Political leaders will never act against repression unless they are forced to do so. The vast majority of Americans are as sheep, or asleep. If these acts of terror do not wake them up, nothing will.
Next, we must confront dictatorship in America itself, and not only from such things as the abuses of the police. American political leaders serve their own interests. Once elected, they divorce themselves from the needs of the public. American citizens, individual by individual, are ethical. We oppose dictatorship. We oppose extremism. But our leaders support it if not cultivate it. They must be called to account, starting with the demand for campaign funding reform.
Lastly, the problem extends far beyond religious and political dictatorship. All forms of dictatorship, including those of recent evolution, particularly corporate, financial institution, and media and advertising dictatorship (starting with their ubiquitous brainwashing) must be fought.
In summary, the powers that be - those elected by the people - the politicians in the U.S., and all the other democratic governments of the world (and supranational institutions), have refused to confront dictatorship, in its myriad forms, since such an effort would conflict with their own selfish desires (or, because they are cowards). They personally are complicit, if not criminally culpable, for this terrorism.
They will only be held to account when we, the members of the general public, personally, do it. Shall we? Are we up to it?
© Roland O. Watson 2001-3