Smokers’ Corner: The not so sudden spring
Right after the tragic 9/11 episode, a series of books and debates (on TV) appeared in the US and Europe trying to figure out exactly what had happened.
One of the most common expressions reflecting the bafflement that gripped western societies during the testing period was, ‘why do they hate us?’
This is when a succession of authors and academics rose angrily to suggest that the answer to this question was always in front of western governments but they chose to ignore it. And no, the answer had little to do with American foreign policy, as such.
Because to authors and intellectuals like Christopher Hitchins, Walid Phares, Sam Haris, Brigitte Gabriel, Tariq Fatah, etc., and even to well-known authorities on Islamic politics and culture, Vali Nasr, Ziauddin Sardar and Madawi Al-Rasheed, the answer to the question lay in the West’s own self-imposed ignorance of what had been brewing and spawning right underneath its nose.
In a series of papers and books written after 9/11, these authors (and more) explained how in a two-pronged onslaught, oil-rich Arab monarchies bankrolled a destructive Islamist narrative that, on the one hand, gave birth to violent extremist and sectarian monsters in Muslim countries, and on the other hand, raised a stream of apologists within American and European intelligentsia.
It were these apologists — bred and buttered in some of the finest educational institutions in the west, regularly and liberally funded by ‘petro-dollars’ — who played a major role in keeping western societies ignorant of a growing social and ideological threat that eventually mutated into the horrors of widespread violence perpetrated by men and women in the name of faith.
Take for instance the reaction to 9/11 and to the extremist violence witnessed in Muslim countries amongst a large portion of Western academia after the WTC fell.
Established authors like Tariq Ali, Karen Armstrong, Tariq Ramazan, John Esposito, Akber S. Ahmed and a number of others indirectly linked 9/11 episode to the United States’ ‘pro-Israel’ foreign policies and ‘cultural imperialism’.
Such authors, especially to those living in lands that have become havens for murdering marauders and suicide bombers, must seem like ignoramuses. They should be reminded that this madness of ‘avenging the US and the West (supposedly) for its lopsided policies’ are NOT liberating expressions of defiance, but a show of utter hatred not only against the West (or the Jews), but also against Muslims as well.
Jihadist violence that is explained away by the apologists as an expression of a Muslim uprising against western imperial designs and injustices, has killed and maimed more Muslims than it has people of ‘enemy faiths.’
In the end, really, it’s just about hoards of fanatics out to attack humanity of any creed, colour and political disposition. And those who give such actions an apologetic and analytical ring are simply sounding silly.
Academics and intellectuals who rose to challenge the apologists, cited the year 1973 as the starting point of the creation of the modern-day ‘Islamist apologist.’ As the 1973 Arab-Israel War wound down, oil-producing Arab countries slowed down oil production triggering an unprecedented price hike in oil products that began filling the coffers of these countries like never before.
This was supposedly done to punish the US and western governments for their support to Israel. However, money began to be pumped into western educational institutions to influence the creation of a narrative within the West’s prime academic circles.
The narrative was not only critical of Israel but also of secular democratic movements taking shape in the largely dictatorial Arab countries.
All the while most of these rich Arab dictatorships remained in the ‘American camp’ and authors like Walid Phares suggest that the narrative was largely anti-democracy but in the guise of being anti-Israel.
Phares and Al-Rasheed go on to say that the recent Arab Spring was an evolutionary culmination of the kind of democratic dissent that was brewing in the Arab world ever since the 1970s. But the presence of such dissent was willingly ignored by a large number of western academics whose universities and departments were being bankrolled by the petro-dollar. The existence of democratic dissent in the Arab world was never mentioned seriously in their elaborate analysis of the Middle East.
The petro-dollars erected puritanical madrassahs and ‘Islamic Research Centres’ in developing Muslim countries eventually moulding a fanatical mindset that was not only repulsed by the West and the US but also by those Muslims who didn’t fall into the category of ‘true faith.’ In the West the phenomenon was subtler.
The funding in this respect grew two-fold after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. Seen as a ‘Shia uprising’, the Arab monarchies became more aggressive in their ‘educational ventures’ when Iran’s Islamist regime began to fund the proliferation of its own version of Political Islam.
In this war of funded narratives the truth got seriously muddled: Posing to safeguard Islam from the influence of atheistic communism and Jewish hostility, the truth was that the petro-dollar was being used more to safeguard the dictatorships and monarchies in the Arab world from western concepts such as democracy.
In the West and the US, the petro-dollar rolled out apologists from prestigious universities who (both consciously and at times otherwise), bypassed the atrocities of Arab dictatorships and monarchies against political dissent and human and women’s rights, to explain Islamist violence as some kind of a liberation movement against ‘Western/US imperialism!’
A decade after 9/11 and with the emergence of phenomenon like the Arab Spring, the western governments have now finally become aware of the intellectual charade exercised by the apologists present within the western intelligentsia.
On the other hand, this intelligentsia has begun to start sounding mighty silly for calling violent and anarchic Islamist militancy an expression of Muslim reaction to ‘US imperialism’ — especially in the wake of democratic uprisings in the Arab world that, instead, have held their own dictators and kings as the real culprits.