In my last post I noted that we are indeed fortunate to this point that the people who want to kill us are, in general, a little bit dumber than we are. This has accorded us a certain measure of safety. They busy themselves detonating small charges in their private parts or leaving the keys to their "other car" in automobiles (to which they hold title) laden with unexplodable devices idling by the curb all of which amounts to the equivalent of a set of Mapquest directions to their homes. We, on the other hand, have distracted ourselves with pastimes fit only for overeducated, self-important, arrogant imbeciles: handicapping our security forces by applying the values and protections of our republic too broadly to the entire human race in general (regardless of whether they "buy in" to our system) We chronically, overestimate our own power, while underestimating the unalterable hatred and contempt our enemies harbor for us. Many of us refuse to understand that "they" simply do not share our values or dreams. On top of all that, we insure that we can't even talk or think directly about the danger we face from them because we have outlawed the very words that must be used if we are to define and measure it.
Here below is a nearly perfect example of how invincible and pervasive the stupidity of nuance is in our media and how seductive and Imbecilic its proponents are. The quote is a part of a panel discussion of the “Mystery” of Faisal Shahzad’s sudden jihad that was moderated by the exceedingly nuanced Robert Smith on NPR. Smith is seen here doing his most nuanced “I wouldn’t recognize an Islamist terrorist if he jumped out of a sewer, shouted Allahu Akbar and sawed my head off” interpretation of the evidence.
SMITH: ,… neighbors that actually spotted Shahzad in the last few months say he was acting strange, running in the dark, blasting a radio day and night, and apparently, according to investigators, assembling a car bomb from propane, gasoline and fireworks.
So what happened last summer to Faisal Shahzad to flip him from family man to suspected terrorist?
Bruce Hoffman is a professor of security studies at Georgetown University. He says that it's become a pattern in these kind of cases for the suspect to have recently traveled back to their homeland.
Professor BRUCE HOFFMAN (Georgetown University): And then either before that trip, during that trip, perhaps upon their return, are suddenly radicalized and become involved in a terrorist plot.
SMITH: And even before the trip to Pakistan there were signs that all was not well with Shahzad. The family had been falling behind in their home payments and trying to sell the house. They were being sued for not paying an energy bill. The Wall Street Journal quotes a real estate agent who heard Shahzad say that his father was sick and he needed to return to Pakistan to take care of him.
Hoffman says that it's also not uncommon for terrorists to leave a trail of debt behind them.
Prof. HOFFMAN: Many of these individuals believe it's entirely permissible to, in essence, defraud the Western societies they live in and to use whatever money they have to run up credit card debt, to take out loans that they have no intention of repaying.
SMITH: Still, neighbors say the turnaround in Shahzad's life seemed to happen so quickly. One day the family was holding a tag sale on their lawn and soon after that they were gone. Their foreclosed home in Shelton still has trash and forgotten items strewn inside and out. I found this music CD next to their yard.
(Soundbite of song)
Unidentified Woman: Be ready for a great journey (Singing in foreign language)
SMITH: Other reporters found Shahzad's old passport from Pakistan, discarded greeting cards, and a transcript from college that showed that Shahzad apparently had a 2.78 grade point average. Now that he's in custody, all of that discarded pass is catching up to him. Investigators spent yesterday removing evidence from Shahzad's former life.
(Soundbite of song)
Smith invites Hoffman into the discussion and then completely blunts the important information that Hoffman supplies. Hoffman identifies the pattern of these deadly killers. They go back to their homelands, they feel no compunction about violating the most basic values and responsibilities of American life, they are cynical users and (by our standards) sociopathic. They are different.
Without giving any sign that he even acknowledges the dissonance between Hoffman’s observation with his own bemused, self-inflicted blindness, Smith dances around Hoffman’s statement with random thoughts thrown out, no doubt, to be evocative of mystery “he had a 2.78 gpa”, “he left trash behind”, “he had greeting cards”, there was a song about a long journey found somewhere in the neighborhood of his house. It is as if he is answering Hoffman’s, point by appealing to the canard of “we all want the same things in life”.
He seems to be saying, “Oh, the poor confused man had a soul, and a family and a numerically verifiable participation in parts of our system. How to ever understand the things people do…”
Back in 2006, when I started this blog, my very first post was my account of the event in my own life that made it impossible for me to nuance away the awareness of the hideous monster (beast) of Caliphate Islamism. In retrospect I might have been too vague in putting my finger exactly what that monster is. I was vague intentionally because I felt that if I were too direct and specific, I would risk alienating people who might be on the cusp of awareness but wary of harsh language and un-nuanced thought. I am reposting that story below be cause it is still true.
So here it is, and I will only add that now I understand that nuance is the new stupid so I now renounce nuance entirely. The Beast is Islamism. It’s way through our walls is our own nuance.
My First Encounter With the Beast
We always get a warning that is clear and unequivocal when evil is stalking us. It is up to us to notice. Warnings are all too easy to dismiss. It is a grave responsibility to pay heed to real warnings. It seems so much easier to convince yourself that the warning is not for you, or that the danger is remote and small.
When Hitler, for example, wrote Mein Kampf, in 1925. He left no doubt as to his intentions. The world dismissed the book as the ravings of a mad man. When he got his opportunity to reach power ten years later, much of the world was surprised that he actually did what he said he would. If they had believed him in the first place and acted on that knowledge with resolution and intelligence millions of lives could have been saved.
The good news is that all you have to do is pay attention, believe what you see and hear and have the strength not to deny it. Evil will almost always inform you of its presence and intentions. I was given a very personal warning twenty-five years ago by a particularly profound form of evil. That evil presence has grown and prospered in the world since then. It has grown and become powerful and menacing and yet, even today, in spite of incontrovertible evidence of its existence many people find it altogether too easy to deny.
Back in the early eighties my young family and I lived next door to an Iranian family. They were nice, friendly people. Hamid (not his real name) was a physician who was just starting out in his own practice. His wife, Haideh was also Iranian born. She was a mathematician. She taught at a local college. We moved in to brand new houses just months apart and shared the rigors of nurturing lawns where there had been only bulldozer tracks. We cooperated in the planting of trees and shrubs to define the empty expanses between our new homes. We borrowed tools from each other. Hamid and I played tennis often and even discussed the possibility of building a tennis court in the flat spot where our lots met. Our children played together and his son, Amir and my daughter Amy became very close friends. The two of them were barely more than toddlers when they first met but were soon talking about getting married the way little ones sometimes do when they find a close companion of the opposite sex.
The next summer, they went back to Iran to visit with their families. We were afraid for our friends. We knew the country was in turmoil. They were gone for several weeks. For much of the time my Amy’s days were occupied with day camp but she still missed her friend. They finally returned a week before school. The two seemed to pick up right where they had left off.
It was a sunny Sunday morning and Amy went out right after breakfast and met Amir in his backyard. We watched as they began to play and turned away to read the Sunday paper. We were surprised when Amy came back inside a short while later. She walked by us with her head down and started up the stairs to her room. We had expected to have to call her in for lunch so it was odd that she came back so early. I called after her and asked her what was wrong. She told me how little 5-year-old Amir had matter-of-factly informed my innocent 5-year-old daughter that because she is a Jew it is his duty to kill her.
I went right over to talk with my friend and neighbor. Hamid was deeply embarrassed. He hastened to explain that: “Over there, the radio and TV were full of that kind of thing - you simply couldn’t avoid it. He assumed that Amir had heard this kind of thing on the radio or TV because no one in his family believed such things. He was sure, he told me, that now that Amir was back here he would soon forget it. He assured me that he would talk with Amir and was sure that the boy didn’t even understand what he was saying.
I could see how distressed he was and told him that I understood and that I appreciated his concern. We looked at each other and shook hands and patted each other on the shoulder. I was sure that it would not change things between our families.
Remember that this was twenty years before September 11, 2001. It was a few years after the fall of the Shah so, before they had left, I had actually wondered if his kids were going to be exposed to anti-American rhetoric and how that would sit with them. It had never entered my mind though to expect the anti-Semitic to be the dominant theme. Back then many of us believed the myth of the benevolent caliphate and the benign toleration of “Dhimmis” under Muslim rule. After all, I mused, Iran was at war with Iraq. And Israel had recently bombed the Osirac reactor thereby preventing Iraq from developing nuclear weapons.
In the light of everything that has transpired since then, it now seems hopelessly naïve of me but in the dim light of that historical moment I was amazed that what had surfaced first from this child’s sojourn in his homeland was genocidal anti-Semitism. As I lay awake in bed that night I found I couldn’t get the event out of my mind. The idea that a child could have such an idea in his head was staggering by itself. What kind of madness had he been exposed too? What infernal clatter of hatred and fear was there in the streets and media over there that could make it possible for a five year old say such a thing?
I recalled the pictures from the nightly news reports on the recently ended hostage ordeal that always seemed to show dense, agitated crowds of shirt-sleeved young men with posters and bullhorns. For all that it was fascinating, the violent rhetoric and the frenetic seemed somehow so unconnected to me – motivated by such an alien animus that I had watched them with the detachment of one who had every confidence that it had nothing to do with him. Now, as I lay awake, I could see- it was very personal.
It was frightening, it was unfamiliar, it was hateful and I had no idea how big or how close it was.
Was the family back in Iran so very different from Hamid? What kind of people thought nothing of exposing a child to this? What, I wondered, could have been the state of mind of Hamid and his wife that they did not think to talk to their son about this stuff- to “deprogram” him on the way home. The more I thought about it the more it bothered me. I lay awake thinking picturing not the house next door and the people in it, but the sweating, rioting crowds back in Iran and all of their squawking radios and televisions. The morning before, I had thought that all I had to do was talk to my neighbor about this thing. Now I saw clearly that this was very big and very ugly- beyond reach of a friendly neighborhood talk. I got out of bed and looked out the window toward their house, bathed in pale moonlight. The calm fall night was filled with a new shadow- the specter of an evil that had once been faraway and theoretical and was suddenly present and breathing quietly in the dark recesses of this soft night. Just then, it felt close enough that I thought I could feel its hot, humid breath on the back of my neck.
In my innocent, pre-9/11 American way I remember wondering how close we might have actually come to tragedy. A little boy of five might have kept harboring that thought and without comprehending what he was really doing, hurt or even murdered my little girl. God forbid that he might have gotten access to a gun with that in his mind. What kind of horror might have been averted because he spoke instead of acting? I walked down the hall and looked into Amy’s room. Her soft brown curls shone in the moonlight and she stirred and sighed.
I wandered back to my bed and lay down. What kind of society, I wondered, puts ideas like this into the mind of a (rather charming) little boys like Amir? How was it, with even parents like my friends Hamid and Haideh the racket and stink of genocidal hatred could so easily stick to him and be carried so quietly and so deep into the heart of our safe little suburban neighborhood.
Now that the images of Iran I had found it easy to view and dismiss were personal and immediate, I could never again feel quite so secure that all the “Death to America” and “Kill the Jews” rhetoric was empty and rhetoric or that it didn’t pertain to me. If it is said and sanctioned, how far away is it really from execution?
Over the next few years, the war with between Iran and Iraq dragged on; reports were heard in the west of human wave assaults organized by the Islamic army of Iran. Boys as young as fourteen were roped together to prevent desertion and sent out unarmed to try to overwhelm Iraqi positions by shear weight of expendable numbers. Sometimes I would catch sight of Amir in the street and shake my head – grateful that he was here but filled with dread for all of us.
Hamid and his family moved away after a few years. Since then, there have been so many experiences and images that have reminded me of that night when I realized how close the beast is.
I have stood in one of the great central squares of Kiev where there stands a huge statue of the national hero Bogdan Chemielniki who, before Hitler, was history’s greatest slaughterer of Jews. A few miles away I visited the memorial at Babi Yar. To stand at that monument I had to walk there over the half-mile long mound that is the mass grave of more than one hundred thousand Jews.
I have also been to Israel and visited the sites of three of the most infamous suicide bombings. I watched the airplane on which the wife of a friend perished smash into the North Tower of The World Trade Center. Then, I watched the towers crumble. I have downloaded and viewed the video of the slaughter of Daniel Pearl, which is still available on the Internet. I recognized them all as footprints of the same beast. Having lived with its shadow for so long, I am often shocked when I meet people who don’t believe that it is real that it is stalking us even as you read this.
What will it take for you to understand that what they are saying and doing is personal and you need to do something about it?