“The lights are going out in the enlightenment” Professor Barry Rubin told The Jewish Press in an interview this week. “Too many reporters have no interest in reporting accurately, too many professors have no interest in speaking accurately, and too many policy makers have no interest in promulgating responsible policy.”
Rubin was talking about the reluctance to name revolutionary Islamism – Rubin calls this the “mysterious motivation,” and he refuses to be cowed into playing that avoidance game.
Rubin wrote a very important article about this after he watched the mainstream media and Western politicos twist themselves into pretzels in an effort to avoid the obvious. Rubin explains that the West seems to believe that if we admit the ideology and movement of Islamism threatens Western society, that will have radical implications for our worldview.
As a result, Rubin points out, most current policy makers and opinion shapers prefer to avoid any policy that considering Islamism as the motive for terrorism would necessitate. The fear of short term pain is indulged at the expense of preventing the real danger that will follow. And we are being lied to – “albeit for virtuous reasons” – by the politicians and the mainstream press.
What is the fear which leads to the conclusion that “doing nothing has become better than doing anything”? The fear is that speaking the truth: that the Tsarnaev brothers acted in accordance with their (or at least the older brother’s) understanding, as well as that of many Muslims, of what Islam requires will lead to disaster. It will cause widespread hatred of Muslims to be unleashed, the specter of Islamophobia to spread, racism will again become rampant, and all the things that a hoped-for post-racist America tried to put behind it will again spread throughout the land.
But the failure to take Islam into consideration might be the very reason why, despite the warning the U.S. was given by Russia that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was “a radical Muslim and a strong believer” the U.S. nonetheless watched Tsarnaev leave the country for Russia and allowed the case file on him to expire during the time Tsarnaev was in a heavily radicalized Muslim territory of Russia, and why other terrorists have also been able to launch attacks.
In a telephone interview from his home in Tel Aviv, The Jewish Press spoke with Rubin, the director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. Rubin is the author of more than two dozen books on topics including terrorism, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, the PLO, Israel, the Middle East and Islam, which have been published by the most esteemed publishing houses including the Oxford, Yale, Harvard and Cambridge University presses.
First Rubin lists off and explains the many ways the Tsarnaev brothers’ “mysterious motive” to maim and murder Americans has been and continues to be aggressively obfuscated. The list includes fingers pointed at a troubled youth; the Chechen code of honor; immigrants’ malaise; and unemployment. Read his article, it is well worth seeing how he lays out this case.
Rubin then flips to the other side, and explores the justifications used to avoid saying Islamic extremism is a motivating factor in terrorism generally, and was so in the Boston Marathon Bombings specifically.
These reasons fall primarily into two groups; the first, that by linking the act of terrorism with Islam, even the movement of Islamism, it will unleash a wave of Islamophobic violence, and two, that such attacks are really our (that is, that of the U.S. and of the West) fault.
Rubin, an honest-to-goodness liberal (not “progressive”) finds these lists of false motivations and obviously flawed self-blame theories not just foolish, but dangerous.
A variant of the “you can’t link Islam to terrorism” problem is to insist that the only kind of Islamist strategic threat dangerous to the United States is the one that emanates from al Qaeda.
“If it isn’t al Qaeda, it supposedly isn’t our problem,” is how Rubin described to The Jewish Press this refusal to look directly at the problem. “In Syria, for example, up to three dozen radical Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, have received arms due to U.S. supported policies but only one – the direct affiliate to al Qaeda – is barred from this program,” Rubin said.
The connection between Islamism and terrorism has to be dealt with forthrightly – sometimes the motivation for a terrorist act will be Islamist terrorism, and sometimes it won’t be, but when it is and we avoid naming it, we are setting ourselves up for a continuation, a metastases of the problem.
AMERICAN MUSLIMS AREN’T COWED
Lori Lowenthal Marcus