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Friday, June 17, 2016

David Brooks, "Religion’s Wicked Neighbor": Insulting Our Intelligence

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Religion’s Wicked Neighbor," David Brooks takes President Obama to task for "refus[ing] to use the word 'Islam' in reference to Islamist terrorism." Brooks writes:

"Obama is using language to engineer a reaction rather than to tell the truth, which is the definition of propaganda. Most world leaders talk about Islamist terror, but Obama apparently thinks that if he uses the phrase 'Islamic radicalism' the rest of us will be too dim to be able to distinguish between the terrorists and the millions of good-hearted Muslims who want only to live in fellowship and peace.

Worst of all, his decision to dance around an unpleasant reality is part of the enveloping cloud of political correctness that drives people to Donald Trump."

Brooks goes on to say that religious terrorists act on their own behalf, not on account of God:

"For the terrorist, a sense of humiliation is the primary reality. Terrorism emerges from a psychic state, not a spiritual one. This turns into a grievance, the belief that some external enemy is the cause of this injury, rather than some internal weakness.

. . . .

For the religious person it’s about God. For the terrorist, it’s about himself. When Omar Mateen was in the midst of his rampage, he was posting on Facebook and calling a TV station. His audience was us, not the Divine.

Omar Mateen wanted us to think he was martyring himself in the name of holiness. He was actually a sad loser obliterating himself for the sake of revenge."

Islamic terrorists are "sad losers" acting from a "psychic state, not a spiritual one"? It's about themselves? It's about revenge? Sorry, but this is a grotesque oversimplification.

Brooks would do well to read "The Age of Sacred Terror," a 2002 New York Times "Notable Book," by Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon. Benjamin and Simon write in relevant part:

"Religious violence is typically different from any other kind of warfare - for the simple reason that for a true believer, there is no compromise about the sacred. Or, to put it in a more monotheistic key: One God, one truth. Tolerance is not an intrinsic part of any of the monotheistic religions. For some believers, the outcome of a conflict cannot be ambiguous.

When the issues are sacred demands, there can be no bargaining. The believer cannot compromise on the will of God. Killing becomes an end in itself, rather than one instrument arrayed among nonlethal instruments in a bargaining process. Such believers want a lot of people dead and may not care whether a lot of people are watching, as long as God sees what has been done in His name."

My advice, David: Take a flight from genteel Manhattan to the wilds of Guantanamo, arrange interviews with a cross-section of the Islamic terrorists being held there, and decide for yourself whether these monsters were acting for "themselves." You're apt to experience an epiphany.


  1. who is the enemy?
    "...The conceptual confusion was further compounded by President Barack Obama. He not only pointed out the obvious, which is that the United States is not hostile to all Muslims, but also tried to take the position that the terrorists’ proclaimed belief in Islam was incidental to their actions.

    Others who take this position have also pointed out that guns in the United States kill more people than terrorism. ..."

    and then there is the voice framer of Egypt's Arab Spring, Anderson Cooper, again turning distortion into whatnot:

    in other news, George Orwell was the shooter...

  2. The Orlando shooting in a nutshell:

    Terrorists: "We did this because our holy texts exhort us to to do it."

    Regressive Left: "No you didn't."

    Terrorist: "Wait, what? Yes we did..."

    Regressive Left "No, this has nothing to do with religion. You guys are just using religion as a front for social and geopolitical reasons."

    Terrorist: "WHAT!? Did you even read our official statement? We give explicit Quranic justification. This is jihad, a holy crusade against pagans, blasphemers, and disbelievers."

    Regressive Left: "No, this is definitely not a Muslim thing. You guys are not true Muslims, and you defame a great religion by saying so."

    Terrorist: "Huh!? Who are you to tell us we're not true Muslims!? Islam is literally at the core of everything we do, and we have implemented the truest most literal and honest interpretation of its founding texts. It is our very reason for being."

    Regressive Left: "Nope. We created you. We installed a social and economic system that alienates and disenfranchises you, and that's why you did this. We're sorry."

    Terrorist "What? Why are you apologizing? We just slaughtered you mercilessly in the streets. We targeted unwitting civilians - disenfranchisement doesn't even enter into it!"

    Regressive Left "Listen, it's our fault. We don't blame you for feeling unwelcome and lashing out."

    Terrorist "Seriously, stop taking credit for this! We worked really hard to pull this off, and we're not going to let you take it away from us."

    Regressive Left "No, we nourished your extremism. We accept full blame."

    Terrorist "OMG, how many people do we have to kill around here to finally get our message across?""

  3. Once again, 'The Editorial Board' at the NYT have managed to come up with a proposal to combat 'Extremists', without using the words 'Muslim', 'Terrorists', or 'Islamic' in the same sentence. The solution: Soccer!