There were at last count at least 643 ways to spell Muammar Gaddafi and I for one am very happy he is dead for that reason alone. The fact that he was the dictator of Libya for over forty years, funded the Lockerbie bombing of a Pan Am airliner and other terrorist acts also contributes to the good news.
These are proving to be bad times for dictators and it is easy to suggest that Basher Assad, a second generation dictator of Syria, will likely come to an equally bad end. So far this year the former dictator of Tunisia had to flee. Egypt’s Mubarak had to step aside, and Yemen’s president is under siege. Nobody knows who’s in charge of Somalia.
As I watched President Obama take a victory lap when he announced Gaddafi’s death, my thoughts turned to what Ted Belman, a widely-read blogger called the Israpundit, had to say. “Gaddafi wasn’t any worse than the barbarians that killed him and will replace him. There are no freedom-loving democrats in the entire Muslim world which consists of seventh century-minded brutes.”
The Israelis have had the misfortune of having had to fight off Muslims not only for the past sixty-plus years of statehood, but in the decades leading up to it. Unlike those of us in the West, they understand them in terms of the insane, fanatical hatred they have for Jews, Christians, and all other “infidels,” unbelievers.
“The way the jihadist-enabling mainstream media is reporting the death of Gaddafi,” observed Belman, “you would think that Libya will become some sort of western-style democracy rather than a sharia-ruled hell-hole that will become the latest haven for al Qaeda. So why are the same people who condemned Bush’s overthrow of Saddam Hussein celebrating this?”
Simply put, Muslims—particularly those in the Middle East—see the world in a way that is totally the reverse of how Westerners do. Ours is a pluralistic society. Theirs is a tribal society. We practice tolerance for other religions. They not only seek to drive out unbelievers, they regard apostasy as a death sentence for anyone who wants to leave Islam. Many have.
As Raymond Ibrahim, an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum, noted in a recent book review, “Last week Saudi Arabia’s religious police arrested an Indonesian housemaid for casting a magic spell on a local family and turning its life upside down. The maid ‘confessed’ to using sorcery and commission experts took the magic items to their office and managed to dismantle and stop the spell.” In the West we celebrate Halloween once a year. In the Middle East, it’s every day.
The book by Robert Reilly, “The Closing of the Muslim Mind,” a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, makes clear that such beliefs are common; magic spells, jins and genies. Reilly wrote of the different schools of Islam, showing how, by the 10th century, three hundred years after the death of Muhammad, the fatalistic schools had triumphed. The giants of Muslim philosophy, Ghazali and Ashari, “concluded that knowledge was unknowable, that moral truths can only be ascertained through revelation.”
This explains why so much of what occurs in the Middle East seems to defy logic to the Western mind. As Reilly noted about Islam, “All acts are in themselves morally neutral” and “Allah does not command certain behavior because it is good; it is good behavior because he commands it. Likewise, he does not forbid murder because it is bad; it is bad because he forbids it.”
The Ten Commandments forbid murder, adultery, and other acts because the acts themselves are bad, not simply because God instructed Moses that they were. The logic of good and evil is embedded in Judaism and its offshoot, Christianity. In Islam, any act can be justified if one can find a surah in the Koran and there is always one that will. Indeed, the Koran commands Muslims to kill for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is to extend Islam and to punish “insults” to it.
Any negative reference to Muhammad is enough to cause rioting in the streets and acts of retribution. It is very intimidating and the West is easily intimidated, unless, of course, you fly jet airliners into our skyscrapers and the Pentagon. Then, however, within a few years they begin to debate the probity of building a mosque within a block or two of where the Twin Towers once stood.
While the Western world is defined by the spirit of inquiry, Islam is indifferent to it. Reilly notes that, for Muslims, “the only thing worth knowing is whether a specific action is, according to Sharia: obligatory, recommended, permitted, discouraged, or forbidden. The rest is irrelevant.”
This suggests that the last ten years since 9/11 (and all that preceded it) have had a brief salutary effect on Middle Eastern and North African Muslims only because they know with some certainty that we shall kill them if we must.
When Arabs took hostages and demanded ransom during the administration of Thomas Jefferson he called on Congress to authorize a Marine Corps and warships. The first Barbary War (1801-5) was also known as the Tripolitan War, as in Tripoli, Libya; the same Libya that just rid itself of the most recent dictator after a long succession of comparable dictators stretching back forever.
At some point an American President is going to have to authorize a major, preemptive attack on Iran, a Shiite nation whose lunatic ayatollahs see themselves as preparing the way for the return of the Twelfth Imam, a mythical figure who lives at the bottom of a well. They will use nuclear weapons, i.e., weapons of mass destruction, to achieve this unless we stop them first.
As the Israelis keep telling us, these people are nuts.