Much has been made, in recent days, of the fact that most Muslims are not terrorists. This is true: the percentage of the world’s Muslims who engage in the active slaughter of civilians is so small as to be a rounding error. But in an open and generally unarmed society, in which the default stance is trust in the ‘social contract’, they punch, as President Obama is fond of saying, above their weight.
Back in 2008 I wrote the following, about a creature that punches far above its weight:
About forty years ago I read a science-fiction book called Wasp. I remember it only dimly, but as I recall it was a corking good read, and the central metaphor of the book has stayed with me: that a small insect, buzzing around the inside of an automobile, can so distract the driver as to cause an accident. A tiny animal weighing less than a gram can cause the destruction of an enormously massive machine and the deaths of its vastly more powerful occupants.
By the nature of its violence and drama, for terrorism is nothing more than an organized spectacle of violence, it is certain to stir emotions. Understanding the logic of terror, it is best to keep the attacks unpredictable, seemingly random. The first seed is sown by unbalancing the mind of the opposing commander. The terrorist act seems to warrant a strong response. In this case, strong replaces intelligent. To find this small group of radicals requires an oversized police force. The chain reaction effect is inevitably set in motion by the harsh reprisal. By entering their space with police or military presence, there are now more targets to hit, more waves of publicity to garner, making them seem larger, feeding their capacity to create the spectacle. Everything becomes imbalanced–society is polarized, disproportionate fear is stirred, more impatience and need for reprisals is manufactured. The desired avalanche is set off.
Returning to the present, it appears that the desired avalanche has indeed been set off once again. From today’s Times:
PARIS — Seeking to reassure a jittery and unsettled population after last week’s terrorist attacks, the French authorities said on Monday that thousands of police officers and soldiers would be deployed to protect Jewish schools and other “sensitive sites,” in one of the country’s biggest peacetime security operations.
The defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said that 10,000 soldiers would be deployed by Tuesday evening, in what he called “the first mobilization on this scale on our territory.”
My friend Paul Sheehan, columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald, posted an excellent piece about this yesterday. We read:
Surveys have found that between 16 and 21 per cent of respondents in France hold positive views of Islamic State. Given that France has more than five million Muslims, the social catchment of sympathy for jihad is about one million people.
This explains why France has 751 special security zones, an endless sequence of violent incidents involving young Muslim men, anti-Semitic incidents have become routine and Muslims represent 60 per cent of the prison population. Two of the three jihad killers in Paris had served time in prison.
…Obviously, if 220 Australian Muslims are known to have engaged in jihad or supported jihad, it follows that 500,000 Muslims, or 99.95 per cent, have not.
Equally obvious, the diverse Muslim diaspora cannot be treated as a dangerous monolith, given that Muslims are the primary victims of oppression by Muslims and the overwhelming majority of Muslims either prefer the peaceful precepts of the Koran or are not highly religious.
But the calculus of terrorism relies on the leveraging of small numbers. It only took three jihadists to occupy 90,000 French police and military personnel, at enormous cost to the state, with enormous global publicity. That will have been duly noted by jihadists.
The late Lawrence Auster understood this very well indeed. (If you aren’t familiar with Mr. Auster’s work, he was best known in recent years for daily social and political commentary at his blog, View From The Right. Since his death in 2013, his website has been preserved and carefully archived; if you would like to read some of the sharpest traditional-conservative commentary and analysis of the first decade of the 21st century, you should spend some time over there. His magnum opus on the topic of immigration was the widely disseminated pamphlet The Path To National Suicide, which you can read here.)
I cited one of Larry’s posts in the comment thread of our own post on the Paris massacre, but it deserves to be quoted again here:
This is the unchangeable reality I pointed to in my 2004 article, “How to Defeat Jihad in America.” We will have terrorist attacks and threats of terrorists attacks and inconvenient and humiliating security measures and the disruption of ordinary activities FOREVER, as long as Muslims are in the West in any significant numbers. The Muslim terrorists are part and parcel of the Muslim community. According to a survey reported in the Scotsman, 24 percent of Muslims in Britain (I never describe them as “British Muslims”) believe the July 2005 London bombings were justified. Imagine that. Not only do these Muslims in Britain support terrorism against Britain, they’re not afraid to say so openly to a pollster! The unchangeable fact is that wherever there is a sizable Muslim community there will be a very large number of terror supporters and therefore—inevitably—actual terrorists as well.
This is our future, FOREVER, unless we stop Muslim immigration and initiate a steady out-migration of Muslims from the West until their remaining numbers are a small fraction of what they are now and there are no true believers among the ones that remain. Travelers from Muslim countries must be tightly restricted as well. Muslims must be essentially locked up inside the Muslim lands, with only carefully screened individuals allowed into the non-Muslim world.
The enemy are among us, in America, in Britain, in the West, and will remain so until we remove them from the West and indeed from the entire non-Muslim world. As extreme as this sounds, it is a no-brainer. There is no other solution. All other responses to this problem add up to meaningless hand-wringing. The hand-wringing will go on FOREVER, along with the terrorist attacks and the threat of terrorist attacks, until we take the ONLY STEPS that can actually and permanently end the threat.
How realistic is this? It depends on two things.
First, it depends on our ability to keep before us the fact that no matter how large the percentage of Muslims who are docile and well-assimilated members of Western society, there will always be a significant fraction who hew to Islam’s literalist, expansionist, and totalizing traditions, and who consider Mohammed himself the perfect example — the sacred holotype, as anointed by God Almighty — of not just a religious, but also a political leader. To paraphrase remarks I made in a comment thread back in 2010:
In the view of much of the Muslim world, and of a great many influential Muslim scholars, such “moderate”, “Westernized” Muslims are heretics and apostates.
The problem for the West, and for “moderate” Muslims living here, is that Islam has a perpetual, self-renewing wellspring of fundamentalism at its core. That there may always be some more liberal and secular Muslims at the fringes of the Ummah, and rifts within Islam itself over who is an apostate and who isn’t, is irrelevant.
What matters is that due to the unique nature and origins of Islam there has always been, and will always be, a powerful and persistent gravitational pull away from modernizing reforms, and toward fundamentalism — and this will always be a source of tension and conflict wherever there are large communities of Muslims living in the West.
We must not overlook the essential fact that to stress the importance of bringing the entire world under submission to Allah is not some sort of fringe viewpoint held only by “radical Islamists” but is in fact the overarching, central mission of Islam, explicitly stated again and again and again throughout the Koran. (Indeed, the majority of the Koran is dedicated not to the practice of the faith, but to how to deal with the kuffar.) An expansionist attitude regarding the Muslim faith isn’t “Islamism”: it’s just Islam.
As made clear above by both Auster and Sheehan, what matters are the absolute numbers, in any Western society, of Muslims who understand Islam in this way. If a mere 5% of Muslims are of this kind (and the number is almost certainly higher), a population of five million Muslims living in your country means that you have within your borders a quarter of a million potential recruits for jihad. We have just seen how disruptive the actions of one group of four or five can be; their actions threw all of France, and indeed much of the civilized world, into a paroxysm of horror. That large Muslim populations jeopardize the peace and security of any non-Muslim nation is, therefore, simply an inescapable arithmetic truth.
Second, it depends on an awakening of our crippled ability to discriminate: to understand that of all the world’s religions and political ideologies, Islam, for now at least, poses a unique threat (not least because it is both of those things at once). That it does present a unique threat, and therefore requires a unique response, should be, one would imagine, almost completely self-evident at this point in world history — but so deeply infected are the good people of the West with what I have called the “cultural immunodeficiency” mind-virus that nothing short of a terrible, existential shock will make this happen. As bad as recent events have been, we have not yet received such a shock, I think.