L’erreur est toujours de raisonner dans les catégories de la « différence », alors que la racine de tous les conflits, c’est plutôt la « concurrence », la rivalité mimétique entre des êtres, des pays, des cultures. La concurrence, c’est-à-dire le désir d’imiter l’autre pour obtenir la même chose que lui, au besoin par la violence. Sans doute le terrorisme est-il lié à un monde « différent » du nôtre, mais ce qui suscite le terrorisme n’est pas dans cette « différence » qui l’éloigne le plus de nous et nous le rend inconcevable. Il est au contraire dans un désir exacerbé de convergence et de ressemblance. (…) Ce qui se vit aujourd’hui est une forme de rivalité mimétique à l’échelle planétaire. (…) Ce sentiment n’est pas vrai des masses, mais des dirigeants. Sur le plan de la fortune personnelle, on sait qu’un homme comme Ben Laden n’a rien à envier à personne. Et combien de chefs de parti ou de faction sont dans cette situation intermédiaire, identique à la sienne. Regardez un Mirabeau au début de la Révolution française : il a un pied dans un camp et un pied dans l’autre, et il n’en vit que de manière plus aiguë son ressentiment. Aux Etats-Unis, des immigrés s’intègrent avec facilité, alors que d’autres, même si leur réussite est éclatante, vivent aussi dans un déchirement et un ressentiment permanents. Parce qu’ils sont ramenés à leur enfance, à des frustrations et des humiliations héritées du passé. Cette dimension est essentielle, en particulier chez des musulmans qui ont des traditions de fierté et un style de rapports individuels encore proche de la féodalité. (…) Cette concurrence mimétique, quand elle est malheureuse, ressort toujours, à un moment donné, sous une forme violente. A cet égard, c’est l’islam qui fournit aujourd’hui le ciment qu’on trouvait autrefois dans le marxisme. René Girard
While it is critical that we don’t jump to conclusions by associating religious affiliation with militancy, there is no doubt that embracing an ideology of Islam that promotes extremism and violence has been a motivator for terrorism, from assassinated al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to Army Major Nidal Hasan. Did such an ideology influence the Tsarnaev brothers? Who or what compelled them to violence? What role does Muslim culture play in this type of radicalization? Rather than worrying about being politically correct, we have to be comfortable asking these difficult questions. And the collectivist-minded Muslim community needs to learn an important lesson from Tsarni: It’s time to acknowledge the dishonor of terrorism within our communities, not to deny it because of shame. As we negotiate critical issues of ethnicity, religious ideology and identity as potential motivators for conflict, we have to establish basic facts. (…) The bombing suspects, « put a shame on the entire Chechnyan ethnicity,” he said. (…) To me, the answer lies inside a culture shift where we honestly acknowledge the radicalization problems within our communities … Asra Q. Nomani
Nous ne savons pas si Hitler est sur le point de fonder un nouvel islam. Il est d’ores et déjà sur la voie; il ressemble à Mahomet. L’émotion en Allemagne est islamique, guerrière et islamique. Ils sont tous ivres d’un dieu farouche. Jung (1939)
Notre lutte est une lutte à mort. Ernesto Guevara (décembre 1964)
Il faut mener la guerre jusqu’où l’ennemi la mène: chez lui, dans ses lieux d’amusement; il faut la faire totalement. Ernesto Guevara (avril 1967)
Kidnapper des personnages célèbres pour leurs activités artistiques, sportives ou autres et qui n’ont pas exprimé d’opinions politiques peut vraisemblablement constituer une forme de propagande favorable aux révolutionnaires. ( …) Les médias modernes, par le simple fait qu’ils publient ce que font les révolutionnaires, sont d’importants instruments de propagande. La guerre des nerfs, ou guerre psychologique, est une technique de combat reposant sur l’emploi direct ou indirect des médias de masse. (…) Les attaques de banques, les embuscades, les désertions et les détournements d’armes, l’aide à l’évasion de prisonniers, les exécutions, les enlèvements, les sabotages, les actes terroristes et la guerre des nerfs sont des exemples. Les détournements d’avions en vol, les attaques et les prises de navires et de trains par les guérilleros peuvent également ne viser qu’à des effets de propagande. Carlos Marighela (Minimanuel de guerilla urbaine, 1969)
Je suis et demeure un combattant révolutionnaire. Et la Révolution aujourd’hui est, avant tout, islamique. Illich Ramirez Sanchez (dit Carlos, 2004)
Nous avons constaté que le sport était la religion moderne du monde occidental. Nous savions que les publics anglais et américain assis devant leur poste de télévision ne regarderaient pas un programme exposant le sort des Palestiniens s’il y avait une manifestation sportive sur une autre chaîne. Nous avons donc décidé de nous servir des Jeux olympiques, cérémonie la plus sacrée de cette religion, pour obliger le monde à faire attention à nous. Nous avons offert des sacrifices humains à vos dieux du sport et de la télévision et ils ont répondu à nos prières. Terroriste palestinien (Jeux olympiques de Munich, 1972)
Comme au bon vieux temps de la Terreur, quand les gens venaient assister aux exécutions à la guillotine sur la place publique. Maintenant, c’est par médias interposés que la mort fait vibrer les émotions (…) Les médias filment la mort comme les réalisateurs de X filment les ébats sexuels. Bernard Dugué
Il est malheureux que le Moyen-Orient ait rencontré pour la première fois la modernité occidentale à travers les échos de la Révolution française. Progressistes, égalitaristes et opposés à l’Eglise, Robespierre et les jacobins étaient des héros à même d’inspirer les radicaux arabes. Les modèles ultérieurs — Italie mussolinienne, Allemagne nazie, Union soviétique — furent encore plus désastreux. Ce qui rend l’entreprise terroriste des islamistes aussi dangereuse, ce n’est pas tant la haine religieuse qu’ils puisent dans des textes anciens — souvent au prix de distorsions grossières —, mais la synthèse qu’ils font entre fanatisme religieux et idéologie moderne. Ian Buruma et Avishai Margalit
Hors de la Première guerre mondiale est venue une série de révoltes contre la civilisation libérale. Ces révoltes accusaient la civilisation libérale d’être non seulement hypocrite ou en faillite, mais d’être en fait la grande source du mal ou de la souffrance dans le monde. (…) [Avec] une fascination pathologique pour la mort de masse [qui] était elle-même le fait principal de la Première guerre mondiale, dans laquelle 9 ou 10 millions de personnes ont été tués sur une base industrielle. Et chacun des nouveaux mouvements s’est mis à reproduire cet événement au nom de leur opposition utopique aux complexités et aux incertitudes de la civilisation libérale. Les noms de ces mouvements ont changé comme les traits qu’ils ont manifestés – l’un s’est appelé bolchévisme, et un autre s’est appelé fascisme, un autre s’est appelé nazisme. (…) De même que les progressistes européens et américains doutaient des menaces de Hitler et de Staline, les Occidentaux éclairés sont aujourd’hui en danger de manquer l’urgence des idéologies violentes issues du monde musulman. Paul Berman
Comme jadis avec le communisme, l’Occident se retrouve sous surveillance idéologique. L’islam se présente, à l’image du défunt communisme, comme une alternative au monde occidental. À l’instar du communisme d’autrefois, l’islam, pour conquérir les esprits, joue sur une corde sensible. Il se targue d’une légitimité qui trouble la conscience occidentale, attentive à autrui : être la voix des pauvres de la planète. Hier, la voix des pauvres prétendait venir de Moscou, aujourd’hui elle viendrait de La Mecque ! (…) Aujourd’hui à nouveau, des intellectuels incarnent cet oeil du Coran, comme ils incarnaient l’oeil de Moscou hier. Ils excommunient pour islamophobie, comme hier pour anticommunisme. À l’identique de feu le communisme, l’islam tient la générosité, l’ouverture d’esprit, la tolérance, la douceur, la liberté de la femme et des moeurs, les valeurs démocratiques, pour des marques de décadence. Ce sont des faiblesses qu’il veut exploiter au moyen «d’idiots utiles», les bonnes consciences imbues de bons sentiments, afin d’imposer l’ordre coranique au monde occidental lui-même. Robert Redeker
Des millions de Faisal Shahzad sont déstabilisés par un monde moderne qu’ils ne peuvent ni maîtriser ni rejeter. (…) Le jeune homme qui avait fait tous ses efforts pour acquérir la meilleure éducation que pouvait lui offrir l’Amérique avant de succomber à l’appel du jihad a fait place au plus atteint des schizophrènes. Les villes surpeuplées de l’Islam – de Karachi et Casablanca au Caire – et ces villes d’Europe et d’Amérique du Nord où la diaspora islamique est maintenant présente en force ont des multitudes incalculables d’hommes comme Faisal Shahzad. C’est une longue guerre crépusculaire, la lutte contre l’Islamisme radical. Nul vœu pieu, nulle stratégie de « gain des coeurs et des esprits », nulle grande campagne d’information n’en viendront facilement à bout. L’Amérique ne peut apaiser cette fureur accumulée. Ces hommes de nulle part – Shahzad Faisal, Malik Nidal Hasan, l’émir renégat né en Amérique Anwar Awlaki qui se terre actuellement au Yémen et ceux qui leur ressemblent – sont une race de combattants particulièrement dangereux dans ce nouveau genre de guerre. La modernité les attire et les ébranle à la fois. L’Amérique est tout en même temps l’objet de leurs rêves et le bouc émissaire sur lequel ils projettent leurs malignités les plus profondes. Fouad Ajami
Le problème de fond, c’est qu’aujourd’hui, en sus de cette crise d’identité des minorités hybrides, il existe une crise d’identité plus générale de l’Europe et des États-Unis. Une forme d’anxiété profonde face à l’afflux d’immigrants. En Amérique, un pays qui s’est bâti sur l’immigration, le sentiment général à l’égard des immigrés est en train de changer, se rapprochant de ce qu’il est en Europe. Depuis le 11 Septembre, les musulmans américains deviennent une minorité qui fait peur. Cette peur est le résultat de notre ère globalisée. Dans les pays musulmans, la peur de l’hybride croît également. De la même manière que l’Europe et l’Amérique se sentent physiquement menacées par une invasion musulmane, les populations conservatrices du Pakistan se sentent, elles, menacées par l’invasion du mode de pensée et de vie américain et européen. C’est la raison pour laquelle, l’an dernier, 3 000 personnes ont été tuées par les terroristes en terre pakistanaise. N’oublions jamais que la vraie bataille entre l’islam radical et le reste du monde se déroule là-bas. Mohsin Hamid
Humanity makes the gravest of errors and risks losing its account of morals, if it makes America its example. Sayyid Qutb
This is the very spirit in which the crowds visit the art museums, passing rapidly through the halls and the exhibits in a way that does not suggest any enjoyment or love of these works [of art]. In just the same way they go (individually and in groups) to get a rapid view of natural spectacles. Passing by places and spectacles at the cars’ top speed, they collect conversational material and also comply with the natural American inclination toward collection and enumeration. At the beginning of my stay in America, I would hear that one of them had visited X cities and countries and sights and spectacles and had gone X miles in his tourist journeys and knew X friends, so that I was astonished at this capacity for producing such things and wished that I were capable of any of it! Then I discovered afterward how all these marvels took place… One of them drives his car on a journey, alone or with his family or friends. He races it at top speed, taking it through cities and over distances, passing by sights and spectacles, while recording in his notebook the names and the mileage… Then he returns, and see! he has seen all of it, and he has the right to converse about it! As for friends, it is enough that one be invited to get-acquainted parties. There he encounters their faces for the first time, and the host acquaints him with the attendees one by one (men as well as women), and he asks whoever of them wish to do so to write down their names and addresses, and so they in turn do with him. After some time, his notebook is full of names and addresses. And see! he has a great number of friends (men and women), and perhaps he is even victorious in the competition undertaken in pursuit of this goal. How great, how strange are the competitions here! Thus your knowledge and your culture are often measured by how much you have read and watched and heard. It is the same as the way that your material riches are calculated by the quantity and amount of the cash and real property that you own: without any distinctions!
The only art in which the Americans are proficient—although there are other [peoples] who still surpass them in it as far as artistry goes—is the art of the cinema. This is natural and logical given the phenomenon that makes the American unique: the height of industrial proficiency combined with primitiveness of artistic feelings. In the cinema this phenomenon is very much manifest. By its nature, the cinematic art does not rise to the loftiest regions of the arts—music, drawing, sculpture, and poetry—nor for that matter to the [level of the] art of the theater, although in the cinema the possibilities for artistic craft and the possibilities of production are much greater. And in terms of originality, the art of production in the cinema has gotten only as far as the farthest point reached by the art of photography. Moreover, some distance remains between it and (for example) the art of the theater, just as some distance remains too between depiction by photography and depiction by a [painter’s] brush. In the latter is expressed genius of feelings; in the former, expertise of craft. The cinema is the popular art of the multitudes, so it is the art in which one finds expertise, proficiency, magnification, and approximation. By its nature it relies more on expertise than on the artistic spirit… in it the American genius can exercise creativity… yet despite this, English, French, Russian, and German film all remain superior to American film, although they are inferior to it in craft and expertise. In the great majority of American films, one sees manifestly primitive subjects and primitive excitement; this is true of police/crime films and cowboy films. As for high, skillful films, such as “Gone with the Wind,” “Wuthering Heights,” “The Song of Bernadette,” and such, they are few in comparison with what America produces. Such American film as does reach Egypt or the Arab countries does not resemble this family, since the majority of it comes from among the superior, rare American films. And those people who visit the regions of the land in America are those who reach that tiny family of valuable films. Sayyid Qutb
The core problem with the United States, for Qutb, was not something Americans did, but simply what America was—“the New World…is spellbinding.” It was more than a land of pleasures without limit. In America, unlike in Egypt, dreams could come true. Qutb understood the danger this posed: America’s dazzle had the power to blind people to the real zenith of civilization, which for Qutb began with Muhammad in the seventh century and reached its apex in the Middle Ages, carried triumphantly by Muslim armies. David Von Drehle
Qutb (…) judges Americans on a range of social and moral characteristics—including their sexual mores, their political history, and their attitudes towards religion, sports, art, and death—and generally finds them wanting. Most striking about the article is Qutb’s adherence to a standard of “human values” rather than specifically “Islamic values.” Qutb never elaborates this standard explicitly, but in general his theme seems to be that human beings should strive to attain high-minded, civilized, and spiritual values rather than bestial, primitive, and sensual ones. American society, in Qutb’s view, tends toward the latter. Daniel Burns
Ils ont tué des gens parce que l’Islam leur donne l’autorisation théologique d’utiliser la violence contre les infidèles dont l’existence menace l’hégémonie islamique légitimée par Allah. (…) Le manque d’éducation et d’opportunité économique existe dans le monde entier, mais les chrétiens africains et les animistes ou les hindous indiens, et les Bouddhistes ne commettent pas d’actes terroristes n’importe où et à la même fréquence que les musulmans. Beaucoup de personnes dans le monde vivent sous des dictateurs oppressifs qui violent régulièrement les droits de l’homme, et ils ne se tournent pas pour autant vers le terrorisme contre les étrangers, en réponse. Les Tibétains n’enfilent pas des gilets pour kamikazes et ne bombardent pas des marathoniens. Il y a des millions et des millions de pauvres partout dans le monde, ils ne tuent pas aveuglément des gens innocents dans les pays éloignés de leur domicile. Bruce Thornton
Alors qu’au lendemain de l’attentat aveugle et purement anti-civils de Boston suivi ou précédé, de la France à l’Espagne et au Canada, par plusieurs autres tentatives déjouées (dont une, signe encourageant, avec l’aide d’un imam) …
Comment ne pas voir, avec le chroniqueur américain Bruce Thornton, l’incroyable aveuglement de nos belles âmes devant l’évidence …
De ce nouveau ciment de toutes les violences (plus de 20.000 depuis le 11 Septembre) qu’est devenu, remplaçant le marxisme d’hier, l’islam ?
Et, depuis le voyage en Amérique d’un de leurs premièrs théoriciens, l’Egyptien Sayyid Qutb dans les années 50, de cette haine pure et simple, tout en profitant de ses largesses, de la civilisation occidentale incarnée par l’Amérique ?
Adapté en français par Hanna Lévy
21 Avril 2013
Malgré les vœux fervents des médias progressistes et du fantaisiste David Sirota, qui espérait que le coupable soit un « homme blanc », il s’avère que les terroristes qui ont bombardé le Marathon de Boston, n’étaient pas blancs, ni le Tea Party, ni des frondeurs amers haïssant les impôts, mais des Musulmans tchéchènes. Quelle surprise ! Comme disent les Français. Nous allons maintenant, commencer à entendre toutes les interprétations de justification pour leur acte, dont peu exposeront l’évidence : Ils ont tué des gens parce que l’Islam leur donne l’autorisation théologique d’utiliser la violence contre les infidèles dont l’existence menace l’hégémonie islamique légitimée par Allah.
Bien sûr, pour les matérialistes laïques et les experts de gauche, dont les esprits sont pourvus d’idées, de clichés banals, tels que le fait de dire, que c’est un discours de haine islamophobe. Que seul le christianisme et le judaïsme mènent à la violence, aux croisades et au sionisme. Que l’Islam est « la religion de paix et de tolérance », qui a créé la Renaissance et a traité les Juifs et les Chrétiens avec bonté. Que si les Musulmans agissent avec violence – plus de 20.000 attaques violentes depuis le 11 Septembre – c’est parce qu’ils doivent avoir été provoqué par le mauvais comportement de l’Occident : le colonialisme, l’impérialisme, l’avidité pour le pétrole, le soutien à Israël, le non-respect de l’Islam et de Mohammed, la guerre contre le terrorisme qui a diabolisé les Musulmans. Ou, parce que les terroristes sont créés par les inégalités et les coûts du capitalisme mondial, qui ne donnent que peu de possibilités éducatives ou économiques aux jeunes gens musulmans, créant chez eux frustration et désespoir, ce qui les poussent à se tourner vers un schisme déformé de l’Islam en soulagement. Ou, parce qu’ils sont les produits de régimes politiques oppressifs qui limitent leur liberté, violent leurs droits de l’homme et étouffent leurs aspirations.
Nous avons entendu toutes ces explications venant de gauche comme de droite depuis plus d’une décennie. Ce que nous n’avons pas vu, c’est la preuve que cela soit réellement le cas. L’histoire ne fournit aucune preuve que les prétendus péchés de la politique étrangère américaine prédominent sur les avantages tangibles démontrables de nos actions aux Musulmans. L’Amérique n’a jamais eu de colonie dans les terres musulmanes, et en effet, après la Seconde Guerre mondiale, a résisté aux tentatives françaises et britanniques de réaffirmer leur autorité sur leurs anciennes colonies, plus manifestement dans la crise de Suez de 1956. Depuis lors, les États-Unis ont armé les Afghans et les ont aidé à chasser les Soviétiques, ils ont sauvé le Koweït et l’Arabie Saoudite des griffes du sadique psychopathe Saddam Hussein, ils ont bombardé les Serbes chrétiens pour sauver les Kosovars et les Bosniaques musulmans, ils ont libéré les Chiites irakiens des mains de Saddam Hussein, ils ont libéré les Afghans de la brutalité des Talibans, ils ont versé des milliards de dollars d’aide à des régimes terroristes palestiniens, ils ont utilisé leurs avions pour aidé les Musulmans en Libye afin de les libérer du psychotique Kadhafi, et ils ont soutenu la parole et les inventions des djihadistes, des Frères musulmans d’Égypte, antisémites et haïssant l’Amérique, afin que les Musulmans puissent jouir de la « liberté et la démocratie ».
Et ce n’est pas tout ! Nous avons sans cesse manifesté notre respect pour la merveilleuse foi islamique, nous avons censuré nos communications officielles et nos programmes de formation pour supprimer toute référence au djihadisme ou à la théologie islamique qui justifie la guerre sainte, nous avons parlé avec pudeur des attaques djihadistes comme pour les meurtres de Fort Hood « violence en milieu du travail », nous avons invité de modestes Imams à prier à la Maison Blanche, nous avons rempli nos écoles avec des programmes faisant l’éloge de l’Islam et de ses contributions à la civilisation, nous avons sermonné et poursuivi des auteurs ou dessinateurs qui exerçaient leur droit au premier amendement, critiquer l’Islam, nous avons abandonné le « profilage » en tant que technique permettant d’identifier d’éventuels terroristes tentant de monter dans un avion ou entrer dans le pays, nous avons employé comme conseillers auprès du FBI, du Pentagone et de la CIA, des Musulmans apologistes, qui recyclent des mensonges éhontés et déforment les faits – nous avons fait tout ceci pour cette libération musulmane, pour eux, pour leur foi, et ils ne nous aiment toujours pas, ils veulent toujours nous tuer !
Cette déconnexion entre notre prétendu mauvais comportement et les motivations des djihadistes est particulièrement évidente dans le cas des terroristes de Boston. Si les Musulmans tchéchènes ont quelque chose à reprocher à quelqu’un, c’est aux Russes. Quand le terrorisme djihadiste est devenu un problème en Tchéchènie, il n’y a eu ni « cœurs, ni esprits » pour des campagnes de sensibilisation, aucune sollicitude, aucune aide de l’étranger, aucune excuse pour ses péchés passés, aucun respect scrupuleux des lois de la guerre, des conventions de Genève ou des droits de l’homme, aucun tribunal d’Imam pour donner un aperçu de la magnificence de l’Islam. Les Russes ont employé la torture, l’assassinat, les représailles collectives, et pour finir ont encerclé Grozny avec l’artillerie et l’ont laissé en ruines. Au cours des deux guerres de Tchétchénie, les Russes ont tué environ 150.000 personnes. En fait, la Russie a tué des Musulmans depuis le 18ème siècle et ont occupé des terres musulmanes en Asie centrale pendant 80 ans sous l’Union soviétique. Alors, dites-moi, M. le Sénateur Rand Paul ou M. le Secrétaire à la Défense Chuck Hagel, si notre mauvaise conduite de politique étrangère explique la haine djihadiste, comment se fait-il que deux siècles de violence russe contre les Musulmans soient ignorés, que tout notre sang et notre argent dépensé pour libérer et aider les Musulmans n’aient aucune importance ?
Les autres justifications de la violence musulmane ne sont pas plus convaincantes. Le manque d’éducation et d’opportunité économique existe dans le monde entier, mais les chrétiens africains et les animistes ou les Hindous indiens, et les Bouddhistes ne commettent pas d’actes terroristes n’importe où et à la même fréquence que les Musulmans. Beaucoup de personnes dans le monde vivent sous des dictateurs oppressifs qui violent régulièrement les droits de l’homme, et ils ne se tournent pas pour autant vers le terrorisme contre les étrangers, en réponse. Les Tibétains n’enfilent pas des gilets pour kamikazes et ne bombardent pas des marathoniens. Il y a des millions et des millions de pauvres partout dans le monde, ils ne tuent pas aveuglément des gens innocents dans les pays éloignés de leur domicile. Chaque excuse à la violence musulmane s’effondre sous le poids de ces faits. Pendant ce temps, la cause commune à tous ces tueurs – riches ou pauvres, instruits ou pas, politiquement opprimés ou non – est l’Islam, et préventivement le rejet de l’explication de la violence.
Cet « aveuglement volontaire », comme l’appelle Andy McCarthy, est devenu dangereux. Il reflète l’arrogance du matérialisme laïc, qui a écarté la religion comme un simple choix de style de vie, d’habitude bénin – à moins que vous ne parliez d’un criminel armé, d’un raciste, d’un misogyne, d’un chrétien évangélique homophobe ou raciste, de l’accaparement de terres par des Juifs sionistes. Non, il s’agit d’un traumatisme psychologique causé par la mondialisation ou l’islamophobie ou des insultes insensibles à Mohammed ou l’oppression des Palestiniens par Israël ou quoique ce soit d’autre que les passages dans le Coran, les hadiths et 14 siècles de jurisprudence islamique et de théologie, qui clairement et systématiquement définissent la doctrine du djihad violent contre les infidèles.
Attendez-vous donc, dans les prochaines semaines au même retour de flamme du vieux commentaire sur la politique étrangère ou à un soupçon d’analyses psychologiques personnelles ou des commentaires sur les péchés d’Israël et les guerres de Bush ou des commentaires sur l’intolérance et la xénophobie américaine ou sur notre besoin de « tendre la main » et de « s’engager » et de « respecter » et de « comprendre » les fanatiques qui ne veulent pas de notre aide, de notre tolérance ou de notre respect, mais nos morts. En bref, il faut s’attendre à ce que les djihadistes pensent que nous sommes faibles et corrompus et que nous méritons donc de mourir.
In Reef flip flops, blue jeans and a Calvin Klein polo shirt, Ruslan Tsarni, an uncle of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers, strode down the driveway of his Federalist-style home last week in Montgomery Village, Md., an upper middle-class Washington, D.C. suburb, past a ground cover of purple wisteria blooming in his front yard and pink tulips across the street.
In the next few minutes, the uncle to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, the alleged Boston Marathon bombers, accomplished something that 11 years of post-9/11 press releases, news conferences and soundbites by too many American Muslim leaders has failed to do on the issue of radicalization and terrorism: with raw, unfettered emotion, he owned up to the problem within.
Instead of being silenced by what they did, he openly said that his nephews had brought “shame” on the family with their actions. This is the same kind of “shame off,” as one admirer later called it, that protesters to the gang rape in India have to win: Are we shamed into silence? Or do we confront the serious issues that shame us?
Hands clasped tightly in front of him, Uncle Ruslan faced off against a pack of about 30 journalists, cameras pointing at him, microphones stuck in front of him, questions about his nephews thrown at him:
“When was the last time you saw them?” He answered: December 2005. Another journalist asked: “What do you think provoked this?” “Umm, being losers! Hatred to those who were able to settle themselves!” he shouted. “These are the only reasons I can imagine. Anything else to do with religion, to do with Islam, is a fraud, is a fake.”
As an American Muslim who has watched the radicalization of Muslims from Louisville, Ky., to Chatanooga, Tenn., to Chechnya, the ancestral ethnicity of the alleged bombers, over the last three decades, I had one question on my mind.
I asked softly: “Is your family Muslim?”
The uncle didn’t hear me well: “Huh?”
I repeated my question: “Is your family Muslim?”
The question was one other journalists later admitted to me that they wondered but didn’t dare ask, the proverbial elephant in the room, only at that moment, on a cul-de-sac with manicured lawns, playground sets and helicopters and Canadian geese overhead. In Washington, D.C., leaders of national American Muslim organizations filled a room at the National Press Club and issued their flat, blanket rebuttals: Islam doesn’t sanction violence, and it doesn’t allow terrorism. When the New York Post made the mistake of writing that a Saudi witness was actually a suspect, bloggers and others took advantage of the opportunity to chortle over the mistake as just one more horrible example of stereotyping.
While it is critical that we don’t jump to conclusions by associating religious affiliation with militancy, there is no doubt that embracing an ideology of Islam that promotes extremism and violence has been a motivator for terrorism, from assassinated al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to Army Major Nidal Hasan.
Did such an ideology influence the Tsarnaev brothers? Who or what compelled them to violence? What role does Muslim culture play in this type of radicalization?
Rather than worrying about being politically correct, we have to be comfortable asking these difficult questions. And the collectivist-minded Muslim community needs to learn an important lesson from Tsarni: It’s time to acknowledge the dishonor of terrorism within our communities, not to deny it because of shame. As we negotiate critical issues of ethnicity, religious ideology and identity as potential motivators for conflict, we have to establish basic facts.
So when I asked about his faith, Tsarni heard me. And he did something remarkable. He didn’t flinch.
“We are Muslims,” he answered clearly and steely-eyed. “We are Chechnyans. We are ethnic Chechnyans.”
Had the boys gotten radicalized, I wondered. The stories of so many—from Richard Reid, the “shoebomber,” to Faisal Shahzad, the alleged Time Square bomber–have included radicalization. The Boston area mosques haven’t been immune. “Do you think that they got radicalized in the mosques in that area?” I asked.
What I heard I couldn’t believe, I’ve become so used to the tactics of deflection. He looked me straight in the eye, and he said, “…most likely somebody radicalized them. But it’s not my brother, who just moved back to Russia, who spent his life bringing bread to their table, fixing cars, fixing cars.”
What happened when this Muslim American looked us in the eye and admitted the problem?
Tsarni became “Uncle Ruslan” to millions of Americans watching him on TV and later online, winning their respect, first, with apologies and then, with his hands clenched, fierce indignation, outrage and anger over the suspected role of his nephews as the Boston Marathon bombers. And there was his color too: Still using AOL when most don’t even know it still exits, scolding Dzhokhar to turn himself in.
The uncle stunned seasoned reporters, some of them veterans of the trials in Guantanamo Bay and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with his straight talk. First, he expressed his condolences to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings and, then, declared loud and clear that his nephews brought “shame” on his family and the people of Chechnya, the family’s ethnicity: “Yes, of course, we’re ashamed. We’re ashamed. They’re children of my brother, who had little influence of them!” Later on Dzhokhar: “He put a shame on the entire Chechnyan ethnicity!” According to public records, Uncle Ruslan shared the same last name as his nephews but shortened it .
With close-cropped hair, a strong jawline and fit physique, the attorney became an accidental spokesman, instilling confidence as a truth-teller.
Admirers have created memes, or images, of his face, contorted in rage, revealing just how effective he has been in instilling confidence.
One meme headline: “Uncle Ruslan. Mosque Board Chairman 2013.”
His effectiveness reveals that the best crisis management doesn’t require intellectual gymnastic but just plain, honest talk: We have a problem. We know it. And we want to do right. Another “Uncle Ruslan” meme reads, “If you can believe it I have had no media training.” Yet another, “First time public speaking. Nailed it.”
“Uncle Ruslan” proved that folks can handle nuance. “It was wild, dramatic, angry, over-the-top,” wrote Washington Post blogger Alexandra Petri. She added: “People like Uncle Ruslan remind us that it’s the apples, not the barrel.”
She concluded: “Thank you. This was a moment we all needed.”
In this family lies the dichotomy of cross-cultural communication patterns confronting Muslim communities, just like other traditional societies. Many parts of Muslim society hold to traditional cultures which are shame-based; people “save face” to hide “shameful” acts. That’s what we heard from the brothers’ parents and aunt, Patemat Sulemanova.
While her brother said the nephews had shamed their family, Sulemanova, in Canada, told reporters she didn’t believe her nephews were involved in the bombings: “Convince me,” she said.
In Russia, Zubeidat Tsarnaev said her older son got involved in “religious politics” five years ago, but she refused to believe her sons were involved in the bombings, saying the FBI had visited her years earlier, troubled about Tamerlan’s activities, but that the FBI was in “the control” her older son’s activities. “He never told me he would be on the side of jihad,” she said. Typical of the failure of this posture of denial and conspiracy theories, a CNN reporter called it “a rant.”
Also in Russia, the alleged bombers’ father, Anzor Tsarnaev, called his brother “a great attorney,” but said he couldn’t believe his sons were involved. “I’m always telling them study, study, study,” he said. “Someone framed them.”
But back in America, Uncle Ruslan was winning in the court of public opinion.
And it was stunning to see how he acknowledged the shame openly but didn’t allow it to silence his criticism.
The bombing suspects, « put a shame on the entire Chechnyan ethnicity,” he said.
Earlier, Tsarni had told the Associated Press: “When I was speaking to the older one, he started all this religious talk, ‘Insh’allah’ and all that, and I asked him, ‘Where is all that coming from?’” Insh’allah is the Arabic phrase that means “God willing.”
What Tsarni is admitting is something true but politically incorrect to talk about: the increasing use of these phrases of religiosity are code inside the community for someone who is becoming hardcore. It doesn’t mean that they’re becoming violent or criminal, but it’s a red flag. In 2004, when I spoke about women’s rights at mosques at the Islamic Society of North America conference in Chicago, a young Muslim man stood at the microphone during the Q&A and scolded me for not saying an honorific, “Peace be upon him,” whenever I mentioned the name of the prophet Muhammad. He later sent me an electronic death threat I turned over to the FBI. It’s a game of trying to out-Muslim a Muslim.
Instead of playing that game, Uncle Ruslan did something remarkable. He put his hands together as if in prayer, and he showed humility, not defensive arrogance, saying he’d prostrate himself before the victims of the Boston bombings.
Ameen, as “amen” is said in Arabic and Muslim culture, to Uncle Ruslan. I believe it’s time for us American Muslims to take collective responsibility, rather than issue collective denial. That’s the attitude that cultivates confidence and fosters safety—for all.
With his passions expressed, Uncle Ruslan begged his goodbyes. Journalists remained in formation on the street outside the house, one eating a quick Subway sandwich on the lawn outside, another dragging a wicker chair from a neighbor’s garbage, before a cop reprimanded him. Suddenly, Tsarni emerged. Coming down the stairs onto the driveway he turned to walk toward the end of the cul-de-sac. Reporters and camera crews hustled to catch up. He pleaded with them: “What are you expecting from me? I’m just going to my neighbors to apologize to them for the discomfort my family has caused them.”
Rather than waiting for an invitation to RSVP to a superfluous “interfaith” dinner, Uncle Ruslan did something simple but crucial: He extended an invitation, was a good neighbor and took responsibility for the trouble that emerged in his front yard. In short, he owned up.
Surely, the Tsaernev family story is complicated, and there is nobody without flaw.
But Uncle Ruslan showed us where to begin.
With reporters still camped out , he emerged from his neighbor’s porch, his arm around the older music teacher who lived there, leading her warmly into his house. Hundreds of miles away, Boston Police drew close to bringing his nephew into custody, leaving Uncle Ruslan, the rest of Tsaernev family and our Muslim communities to do some real soul-searching about how we lost these boys to the ideology of terrorism.
To me, the answer lies inside a culture shift where we honestly acknowledge the radicalization problems within our communities—so that no Uncle Ruslan has to step outside his home, confessing to something gone very, very wrong.
Asra Q. Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, is a mother and the author of “Standing Alone: A Muslim Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam.”
How an Egyptian student came to study 1950s America and left determined to wage holy war
David Von Drehle
Before Sayyid Qutb became a leading theorist of violent jihad, he was a little-known Egyptian writer sojourning in the United States, where he attended a small teachers college on the Great Plains. Greeley, Colorado, circa 1950 was the last place one might think to look for signs of American decadence. Its wide streets were dotted with churches, and there wasn’t a bar in the whole temperate town. But the courtly Qutb (COO-tub) saw things that others did not. He seethed at the brutishness of the people around him: the way they salted their watermelon and drank their tea unsweetened and watered their lawns. He found the muscular football players appalling and despaired of finding a barber who could give a proper haircut. As for the music: “The American’s enjoyment of jazz does not fully begin until he couples it with singing like crude screaming,” Qutb wrote when he returned to Egypt. “It is this music that the savage bushmen created to satisfy their primitive desires.”
Such grumbling by an unhappy crank would be almost comical but for one fact: a direct line of influence runs from Sayyid Qutb to Osama bin Laden, and to bin Laden’s Egyptian partner in terror, Ayman al-Zawahiri. From them, the line continues to another quietly seething Egyptian sojourning in the United States—the 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta. Qutb’s gripes about America require serious attention because they cast light on a question that has been nagging since the fall of the World Trade Center: Why do they hate us?
Born in 1906 in the northern Egyptian village of Musha and raised in a devout Muslim home, Qutb memorized the Koran as a boy. Later he moved to Cairo and found work as a teacher and writer. His novels made no great impression, but he earned a reputation as an astute literary critic. Qutb was among the first champions of Naguib Mahfouz, a young, modern novelist who, in 1988, would win the Nobel Prize in Literature. As Qutb matured, his mind took on a more political cast. Even by the standards of Egypt, those were chaotic, corrupt times: World War I had completed the destruction of the Ottoman Empire, and the Western powers were creating, with absolute colonial confidence, new maps and governments for the Middle East. For a proud man like Sayyid Qutb, the humiliation of his country at the hands of secular leaders and Western puppets was galling. His writing drew unfavorable attention from the Egyptian government, and by 1948, Mahfouz has said, Qutb’s friends in the Ministry of Education were sufficiently worried about his situation that they contrived to send him abroad to the safety of the United States.
Some biographical sketches suggest that Qutb arrived with a benign view of America, but if that’s true it didn’t last long. During a short stay in Washington, D.C., he witnessed the commotion surrounding an elevator accident and was stunned to hear other onlookers making a joke of the victim’s appearance. From this and a few offhand remarks in other settings, Qutb concluded that Americans suffered from “a drought of sentimental sympathy” and that “Americans intentionally deride what people in the Old World hold sacred.”
This became the lens through which Qutb read nearly every American encounter—a clash of New World versus Old. Qutb easily satisfied the requirements at the graduate school of the Colorado State College of Education (now known as the University of Northern Colorado) and devoted the rest of his time to his true interest—the American soul, if such a thing existed. “This great America: What is its worth in the scale of human values?” Qutb wondered. “And what does it add to the moral account of humanity?” His answer: nothing.
Still, Qutb’s contempt for America was not as simple as some people might now imagine. He did not recoil from political freedom and democracy, as, say, President Bush might expect from a jihadi theorist, nor did he complain about shades of imperial ambition in American foreign policy, as writers on the left might suppose. Regarding the excesses of American culture—vulgarity, materialism and promiscuity—Qutb expressed shock, but it rang a bit hollow. “The American girl is well acquainted with her body’s seductive capacity,” he wrote. “She knows seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs and she shows all this and does not hide it.” These curvy jezebels pursued boys with “wide, strapping chest[s]” and “ox muscles,” Qutb added with disgust. Yet no matter how lascivious his adjectives, the fastidious, unmarried Egyptian could not convincingly portray the church dances and Look magazines he encountered in sleepy Greeley as constituting a genuine sexual “jungle.”
The core problem with the United States, for Qutb, was not something Americans did, but simply what America was—“the New World…is spellbinding.” It was more than a land of pleasures without limit. In America, unlike in Egypt, dreams could come true. Qutb understood the danger this posed: America’s dazzle had the power to blind people to the real zenith of civilization, which for Qutb began with Muhammad in the seventh century and reached its apex in the Middle Ages, carried triumphantly by Muslim armies.
Qutb rejected the idea that “new” was also “improved.” The Enlightenment, the Industrial Age—modernity itself—were not progress. “The true value of every civilization…lies not in the tools man has invented or in how much power he wields,” Qutb wrote. “The value of civilizations lay in what universal truths and worldviews they have attained.” The modern obsession with science and invention was a moral regression to the primitive condition of the first toolmakers. Qutb’s America was bursting with raw energy and appetite, but utterly without higher virtues. In his eyes, its “interminable, incalculable expanses of virgin land” were settled by “groups of adventurers and groups of criminals” who lacked the time and reflection required for a civilized life. Qutb’s Americans “faced the uncharted forests, the tortuous mountain mazes, the fields of ice, the thundering hurricanes, and the beasts, serpents and vermin of the forest” in a struggle that left them numb to “faith in religion, faith in art and faith in spiritual values altogether.”
This portrait likely would have surprised the people of mid-century Greeley, had they somehow become aware of the unspoken opinions of their somewhat frosty neighbor. Theirs was a friendly town best known for the unpretentious college and for the cattle feedlots sprawling pungently on its outskirts. The founding of Greeley in the 1870s involved no ice fields, hurricanes or serpents. Instead, it began with a simple newspaper column written by Nathan Meeker, agricultural editor of the New York Tribune. On December 14, 1869, Meeker appealed to literate readers of high moral character to join him in building a utopian community by the South Platte River near the foot of the Rocky Mountains. More than 3,000 readers applied; from this list Meeker selected the 700 best qualified to realize his vision of a sober, godly, cooperative community. The town was dubbed Greeley in honor of Meeker’s boss at the Tribune, the quixotic publisher Horace Greeley, who died within weeks of his failed run for president in 1872, just as the project was gathering steam.
Poet and journalist Sara Lippincott was an early visitor to the frontier outpost, and later wrote about it under her pen name, Grace Greenwood. “You’ll die of dullness in less than five hours,” another traveler had warned her about Greeley. “There is nothing there but irrigation. Your host will invite you out to see him irrigate his potato-patch…there is not a billiard-saloon in the whole camp, nor a drink of whiskey to be had for love or money.” None of that made any difference to Qutb, who saw only what he already believed, and wrote not facts, but his own truth, in his 1951 essay, “The America I Have Seen.”
Sayyid Qutb cut short his stay in America and returned to Egypt in 1951 after the assassination of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the nationalist, religious and militant movement known as the Muslim Brotherhood. Over the next decade and a half, often writing from prison, Qutb refined a violent political theology from the raw anti-modernism of his American interlude. Virtually the entire modern world, Qutb theorized, is jahiliyya, that barbarous state that existed before Muhammad. Only the strict, unchanging law of the prophet can redeem this uncivilized condition. Nearly a millennium of history became, to the radicalized Qutb, an offense wrought by the violence of jahili “Crusaders” and the supposed perfidy of the Jews. And Muslim leaders allied with the West were no better than the Crusaders themselves. Therefore, Qutb called all true Muslims to jihad, or Holy War, against jahiliyya—which is to say, against modernity, which America so powerfully represents.
This philosophy led to Qutb’s execution in 1966. Proud to the end, he refused to accept the secular Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser’s offer of mercy in exchange for Qutb’s repudiation of his jihad. Nasser may have silenced a critic, but the martyrdom of Sayyid Qutb accelerated his movement. The same year the philosopher was hanged, according to journalist Lawrence Wright, the teenage al-Zawahiri formed his first violent cell, dedicated to the overthrow of the Egyptian government and the creation of an Islamist state. Meanwhile, Qutb’s brother Muhammad went into exile in Saudi Arabia, where he taught at King Abdul Aziz University. One of his students, an heir to the country’s largest construction fortune, was Osama bin Laden.
Others have taken Qutb’s ideas in less apocalyptic directions, so that M.A. Muqtedar Khan of the Brookings Institution can rank him alongside the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran as “one of the major architects and ‘strategists’ of contemporary Islamic revival.” But the last paragraphs of Qutb’s American memoir suggest just how far outside normal discourse his mind was wont to stray. After noting the stupidity of his Greeley neighbors, who failed to understand his dry and cutting jokes, Qutb writes: “In summary, anything that requires a touch of elegance is not for the American, even haircuts! For there was not one instance in which I had a haircut there when I did not return home to even with my own hands what the barber had wrought.” This culminating example of inescapable barbarism led directly to his conclusion. “Humanity makes the gravest of errors and risks losing its account of morals, if it makes America its example.”
Turning a haircut into a matter of grave moral significance is the work of a fanatic. That’s the light ultimately cast by Qutb’s American experience on the question of why his disciples might hate us. Hating America for its haircuts cannot be distinguished from hating for no sane reason at all.
Daniel Burns, Translator
November 18, 2009
Current Trends in Islamist Ideology vol. 9
The Egyptian Said Qutb was one of the leading intellectual lights of 20th Century Islamic radicalism when he was executed in 1966 for his involvement with the illegal Muslim Brotherhood. He is best known for his lengthy Quranic commentary In the Shade of the Qur’an and his book Milestones, in which he makes the case that allegedly Muslim regimes like that of Egypt should be understood as jahiliy (pagan) and therefore the proper target of military jihad.
Years before writing these radical works, Qutb spent two years studying in America (1948-1950). Upon his return to Egypt, he published the three-part article “The America That I Have Seen: In the Scale of Human Values” in the Egyptian journal Al-Risala (Vol. 19 ; no. 957, 959, 961; pp. 1245-7, 1301-6, 1357-1360). A translation of this article appears in the anthology America in an Arab Mirror (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000), but that translation is missing a considerable block of text for no reason that I can see. Here I have translated the section of the article’s third part that contains that missing block. All but the first three and the last three paragraphs below are therefore appearing in English for the first time.
The article as a whole contains Qutb’s observations on American life and chiefly on how American citizens rank “in the scale of human values.” He judges Americans on a range of social and moral characteristics—including their sexual mores, their political history, and their attitudes towards religion, sports, art, and death—and generally finds them wanting. Most striking about the article is Qutb’s adherence to a standard of “human values” rather than specifically “Islamic values.” Qutb never elaborates this standard explicitly, but in general his theme seems to be that human beings should strive to attain high-minded, civilized, and spiritual values rather than bestial, primitive, and sensual ones. American society, in Qutb’s view, tends toward the latter.
Wherever possible, I have translated a single Arabic word with a single English word. Words in [square brackets] are my additions or clarifications. I have used Qutb’s punctuation as a guideline but have not been able to reproduce it fully in English; in particular, I have used parentheses, long dashes, sentence breaks, and other means to translate the versatile Arabic particle wa. I have however retained the author’s strange use of quotation marks and ellipses.
Said Qutb: On the Arts in America
The American is primitive in his artistic taste, both in what he enjoys as art and in his own artistic works.
“Jazz” music is his music of choice. This is that music that the Negroes invented to satisfy their primitive inclinations, as well as their desire to be noisy on the one hand and to excite bestial tendencies on the other. The American’s intoxication in “jazz” music does not reach its full completion until the music is accompanied by singing that is just as coarse and obnoxious as the music itself. Meanwhile, the noise of the instruments and the voices mounts, and it rings in the ears to an unbearable degree… The agitation of the multitude increases, and the voices of approval mount, and their palms ring out in vehement, continuous applause that all but deafens the ears.
But despite this, the American multitude attends the opera, listens to symphonies, crowds together for the “ballet,” and watches “classic” plays—so much so that you will hardly find an empty seat. It will happen sometimes that you do not find a place unless you reserve your seat days beforehand, and that at the high price of the fares for these performances.
This phenomenon misled me at first; I even rejoiced at it, down to the depths of my soul. For I had been feeling constantly “begrudging” at the fact that this people, which produces marvels in the world of industry and of science and of research, should have no store of the other human values. I had also been terribly afraid on behalf of humanity that its leadership will pass into the hands of this people that is altogether poor in those values.
Therefore I rejoiced when I saw this phenomenon. For the public that takes an interest in refined art is not to be despaired of no matter what its faults may be, and when this window on its feelings has been opened, there is great hope that many other rays may diffuse from it.
The importance of this phenomenon pushed me to investigate everything about it, in different surroundings and in numerous cities. But when I tracked the expressions on faces, and conversed with a great many of the men and women who visit these places (those I knew and those I did not know), all this revealed to me—with regret—how wide a chasm still separates the spirit of such humane art from the spirit of the Americans. Indeed, their feelings about it are even concealed in all but rare cases; they only look at the matter from a purely social angle. For the cultured American must of necessity see these sorts [of shows] and go to these places in case there should be a conversation about them in any group of people taking part in conversation together. For it is a matter of the greatest shame in America that anyone should fail to take part in the conversation—especially in the case of young women, since what is demanded of them is that they should always find subjects for conversation. So if young women visit these places, they add new subjects to the perpetual American subjects [of conversation], i.e., ball games, names of films and of actors and actresses, cases of divorce and marriage, markings and prices of cars…
This is the very spirit in which the crowds visit the art museums, passing rapidly through the halls and the exhibits in a way that does not suggest any enjoyment or love of these works [of art]. In just the same way they go (individually and in groups) to get a rapid view of natural spectacles. Passing by places and spectacles at the cars’ top speed, they collect conversational material and also comply with the natural American inclination toward collection and enumeration.
At the beginning of my stay in America, I would hear that one of them had visited X cities and countries and sights and spectacles and had gone X miles in his tourist journeys and knew X friends, so that I was astonished at this capacity for producing such things and wished that I were capable of any of it! Then I discovered afterward how all these marvels took place… One of them drives his car on a journey, alone or with his family or friends. He races it at top speed, taking it through cities and over distances, passing by sights and spectacles, while recording in his notebook the names and the mileage… Then he returns, and see! he has seen all of it, and he has the right to converse about it! As for friends, it is enough that one be invited to get-acquainted parties. There he encounters their faces for the first time, and the host acquaints him with the attendees one by one (men as well as women), and he asks whoever of them wish to do so to write down their names and addresses, and so they in turn do with him. After some time, his notebook is full of names and addresses. And see! he has a great number of friends (men and women), and perhaps he is even victorious in the competition undertaken in pursuit of this goal. How great, how strange are the competitions here!
Thus your knowledge and your culture are often measured by how much you have read and watched and heard. It is the same as the way that your material riches are calculated by the quantity and amount of the cash and real property that you own: without any distinctions!
And this is not the mentality of the multitudes only, but it is also very much the mentality of the thinkers and the researchers. For it had occurred to the thinkers in America that it was not right that their country should be the richest country in the world, and their people the greatest people on earth in terms of industrial civilization and scientific civilization, while they should have no artistic wealth like that of poorer peoples such as the Italians and the Germans.
They have money—and money works wonders—so it was only a matter of years before they had museums of drawing and sculpture more magnificent and larger than those other peoples’. These museums have accumulated for themselves works of art from everywhere and have filled up with the rare and the costly among these works, which they have not been stingy about buying with money. These are all foreign works save a few, since American works are primitive and plain to the point of being laughable next to those splendid worldly treasures.
Likewise, [it was only a matter of years before] they had some performing orchestras and some dance troupes of the “ballet,” most of which [demonstrate] expertise and proficiency. And most of the conductors of these orchestras and the directors of these troupes [demonstrate] genius and originality…and all of them save a few are foreigners.
Thus there emerged precise enumerations that indicate what America possesses in the way of great artistic riches, purchased by money. But there remained one little matter: Does the American soul have any share in these riches? Does she even have mere artistic enjoyment of this costly human inheritance!
It occurred to me to examine these points in the art museums just as I examined them at the opera houses and such.
I went for the tenth time to the museum of art in San Francisco and made one of the picture halls of French art the subject of my examination. I distributed my attention over all the pictures inside it, but I concentrated on one outstanding picture named “Fox in the Chicken House.” There are no words that could relate to the reader the beauty of this ingenious picture, in which the artist depicted several profound, complex feelings in a painting where there is no human face to make it easy for the artist to depict those feelings… A fox is in the chicken house, the sky is suffocatingly dark, and the fox has just attacked a chicken, a nesting mother, who appears in distress and exhausted in the claws of the wild beast baring his teeth; her little ones are terrified and the eggs remaining beneath her are scattered; her fellow hens meanwhile are scattered throughout the space of the painting, and the rooster—the man of the house—stands helpless, at a loss to find any salvation for his spouse in distress, although he is her guardian! As for the other hens, one is anxious and taken by surprise, another is despairing and disgusted that there should be all this atrocity in life, while a third is at a loss, asking: “How did this happen?” And the entire sky and the colors in this ingenious painting depict that which words cannot grasp.
I took a rest on one of the seats that the halls do provide with singular courtesy for those visitors who are tired of looking and of walking around to rest on, and I rested, inspecting the features and expressions [of faces] and listening to the remarks and comments.
Four full hours passed over me in my seat, during which 109 persons passed by me, singles and couples and groups, of whom the majority were among the [many] young women and young men who make appointments to spend some time in the museum’s garden and then in the museum itself, since it is proper for the social young woman to share in conversation and to find subjects for conversation.
On [the faces of] how many of these 109 did it appear that they were feeling anything of what they were seeing? Only one lingered for about two minutes in front of the picture I had selected, and he lingered in the whole hall for about five minutes…then he flew off.
I repeated the experiment in the other halls of the museum, and then repeated it in other museums in several cities. Again I arrived at the point where [I could say that], out of the great mass of visitors comprised in my enumerations, only a rare minority comprehended anything of these tremendous artistic riches that the dollar has gathered from all the places on earth; all that remained for the dollar to do was to create artistic sensation, but apparently that does not respond to the dollar’s charms!
The only art in which the Americans are proficient—although there are other [peoples] who still surpass them in it as far as artistry goes—is the art of the cinema. This is natural and logical given the phenomenon that makes the American unique: the height of industrial proficiency combined with primitiveness of artistic feelings. In the cinema this phenomenon is very much manifest.
By its nature, the cinematic art does not rise to the loftiest regions of the arts—music, drawing, sculpture, and poetry—nor for that matter to the [level of the] art of the theater, although in the cinema the possibilities for artistic craft and the possibilities of production are much greater. And in terms of originality, the art of production in the cinema has gotten only as far as the farthest point reached by the art of photography. Moreover, some distance remains between it and (for example) the art of the theater, just as some distance remains too between depiction by photography and depiction by a [painter’s] brush. In the latter is expressed genius of feelings; in the former, expertise of craft.
The cinema is the popular art of the multitudes, so it is the art in which one finds expertise, proficiency, magnification, and approximation. By its nature it relies more on expertise than on the artistic spirit… in it the American genius can exercise creativity… yet despite this, English, French, Russian, and German film all remain superior to American film, although they are inferior to it in craft and expertise.
In the great majority of American films, one sees manifestly primitive subjects and primitive excitement; this is true of police/crime films and cowboy films. As for high, skillful films, such as “Gone with the Wind,” “Wuthering Heights,” “The Song of Bernadette,” and such, they are few in comparison with what America produces. Such American film as does reach Egypt or the Arab countries does not resemble this family, since the majority of it comes from among the superior, rare American films. And those people who visit the regions of the land in America are those who reach that tiny family of valuable films.
There is another art in which the Americans are skillful, because in it there is more of expertise in craft and production than there is of high, genuine art… It is the art of depicting natural spectacles in color as if [the depictions] were photographic, true and exact. This can be seen in the museums of land and water animals, since these animals or their embalmed bodies are displayed [there] in the likeness of their natural habitats, just as if they were real. The artist’s brush is skillful in depicting these habitats in cooperation with the spectacle’s artistic design; it reaches the point of creativity.
This translation of Qutb’s article appeared in Volume 9 of Current Trends in Islamist Ideology published by Hudson Institute.
Keywords: Qutb, Muslim Brotherhood, American Arts, jahiliy
 I am grateful to the Ernest Fortin Memorial Foundation for a summer grant that allowed me to work on this translation, to Michael Montalbano for his relentless editing, and to Prof. Martha Bayles, Prof. Nasser Behnegar, Dr. Hillel Fradkin, Prof. Dennis Hale, Prof. James Nolan, and Zander Baron for reading drafts.
 The word consistently translated “multitude” (jamhour) appears a few times in this passage and has political connotations: it is the root of the Arabic word for “republic.” It means something like hoi polloi.
 Here and elsewhere Qutb uses two forms, a masculine and a feminine, where Arabic grammar only requires one (since the masculine is taken to include both sexes). Literally this passage says “a great many [m.] and a great many [f.] of those who visit these places.” Qutb seems to want to emphasize that both sexes are included, perhaps because he finds this immodest or perhaps because his audience would not otherwise know whether the social events being described were single-sex.
 The nearest possible antecedent is “spirit,” but the earlier “this phenomenon” seems likelier. The gender of the pronoun makes it impossible that it could be “art”.
 Literally “one by one and one (f.) by one (f.).” See note 3.
 Literally “male-friends and female-friends,” or “friends and female friends.” See note 3.
 In the sense of “the state of being cultured,” not “cultural identity.”
 The gender of the pronoun means that it most likely refers to, not “museums,” but the antecedent from earlier in the paragraph: “Americans,” or possibly “the thinkers in America.”
 Since the entire paragraph is one sentence in Arabic, it is not clear whether this word refers only to the conductors and directors or to the performing groups’ members as a whole.
 This is a bit obscure, but Qutb seems to mean that these enumerations became easily available in the course of his own investigations.
 Jean-Baptiste Huet’s Fox in the Chicken Yard (1766) meets most of Qutb’s description. I can only see two “other hens,” though.
 The ambiguity is present in Arabic as in English: this may be a backhanded compliment.
 Literally “female-youths and male-youths,” or “female-youths and youths.” See note 3.
 The word is a recurrent theme in the entire article and has been translated “industry” or (as an adjective) “industrial.” From here on it will be translated “craft.”
 This phrase does not refer to particular American people that we would call “geniuses,” but to something more abstract, like the previous “artistic spirit.”
 The antecedents are hard to follow in this sentence, but the sense seems to me to require: “Such American film as does reach us in Egypt or the Arab countries does not resemble the (generally low-quality) family of American films as a whole, since the majority of what does reach us consists in those high-quality films that make up only a tiny minority of the whole family.”
 Qutb seems to mean this as something of a compliment, but on the other hand, that meaning would seem to be at odds with his disparagement of photography three paragraphs earlier.
Caroline B. Glick
The Jerusalem Post
It is the dominance of moral relativism in liberal institutions like the New York Times that make even the most apologetic expose of the Muslim Brotherhood a major event.
Two events happened on Wednesday which should send a shiver down the spine of everyone concerned about the future of the American Jewish community. But to understand their importance it is important to consider the context in which they occurred.
On January 13, The New York Times reported on a series of virulently anti-Jewish comments Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi made in speeches given in 2010. Among other things, Morsi said, “We must never forget, brothers, to nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred for them: for Zionists, for Jews.” He said that Egyptian children “must feed on hatred; hatred must continue. The hatred must go on for God and as a form of worshiping him.”
In another speech, he called Jews “bloodsuckers,” and “the descendants of apes and pigs.”
Two weeks after the Times ran the story, the Obama administration sent four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt as part of a military aid package announced in December 2012 entailing the provision of 20 F-16s and 200 M1-A1 Abrams tanks.
The Anti-Defamation League, AIPAC, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and other prominent American Jewish groups did not oppose the weapons transfer.
With the American Jewish leadership silent on the issue, Israel found its national security championed by Sen. Rand Paul. He attached an amendment to a budget bill that would bar the US from transferring the advanced weapons platforms to Egypt.
Paul explained, “Egypt is currently governed by a religious zealot… who said recently that Jews were bloodsuckers and descendants of apes and pigs. This doesn’t sound like the kind of stable personality we [sh]ould be sending our most sophisticated weapons to.”
Paul’s amendment was overwhelmingly defeated, due in large part to the silence of the American Jewish leadership.
The Times noted that Morsi’s castigation of Jews as “apes and pigs” was “a slur for Jews that is familiar across the Muslim world.”
Significantly the Times failed to note that the reason it is familiar is because it comes from both the Koran and the hadith. The scripturally based denigration of Jews as apes and pigs is legion among leading clerics of both Sunni and Shi’ite Islam.
It was not a coincidence that the Times failed to mention why Morsi’s castigation of Jews as apes and pigs was so familiar to Muslim audiences.
The Islamic sources of Muslim Brotherhood Jew hatred, and indeed, hatred of Jews by Islamic leaders from both the Sunni and Shi’ite worlds, is largely overlooked by the liberal ideological camp. And the overwhelming majority of the American Jewish leadership is associated with the liberal ideological camp.
If the Times acknowledged that the Jew hatred espoused by Morsi and his colleagues in the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as by their Shi’ite colleagues in the Iranian regime and Hezbollah is based on the Koran, they would have to acknowledge that Islamic Jew hatred and other bigotry is not necessarily antithetical to mainstream Islamic teaching. And that is something that the Times, like its fellow liberal institutions, is not capable of acknowledging.
They are incapable of acknowledging this possibility because considering it would implicitly require a critical study of jihadist doctrine. And a critical study of jihadist doctrine would show that the doctrine of jihad, or Islamic holy war, subscribed to by the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates, as well as by the Iranian regime and Hezbollah and their affiliates, is widely supported, violent, bigoted, evil and dangerous to the free world.
And that isn’t even the biggest problem with studying the doctrine of jihad. The biggest problem is that a critical study of the doctrine of jihad would force liberal institutions like the New York Times and the institutional leadership of the American Jewish community alike to abandon the reigning dogma of the liberal ideological camp – moral relativism.
Moral relativism is based on a refusal to call evil evil and a concomitant willingness to denigrate truth if truth requires you to notice evil.
Since pointing out the reality of the danger the jihadist doctrines propagated by the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood involves the implicit demand that people make distinctions between good and evil and side with good against evil, moral relativists – that is most liberals – cannot contend with jihad.
This is why the American Jewish leadership refused to join Rand Paul and his conservative Republican colleagues in the Senate and demand an immediate cessation of US military aid to the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Egyptian military even after the evidence of the Brotherhood’s genocidal Jew hatred was splashed across the front page of the Times.
It is the dominance of moral relativism in liberal institutions like the New York Times that make even the most apologetic expose of the Muslim Brotherhood a major event. And it is the dominance of liberal orthodoxies in the mainstream Jewish community that makes it all but impossible for Jewish leaders to speak up against the Muslim Brotherhood, despite the manifest danger its genocidal hatred of Jews poses not only for Israel, but for Jews everywhere.
It is bad enough that liberal Jewish leaders won’t speak out against the Koranic-inspired evil that characterizes the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. What is worse is what their own morally relative blindness causes them to do.
On Wednesday, we saw two distressing examples of the consequences of this self-imposed embrace of ideological fantasies.
First, on Wednesday, Yeshiva University’s Cardozo Law School’s Journal of Conflict Resolution gave its annual International Advocate of Peace Award to former president Jimmy Carter.
Carter’s long record of anti-Israel, and indeed anti-Semitic, actions and behavior made the decision to bestow him with the honor an affront not only to the cause of peace, but to the cause of Jewish legal rights. As an advocate of Hamas and a man who castigates Israel as an illegal “apartheid” state, Carter has a long record of outspoken opposition to both Jewish human rights and to viable peace between Israel and its neighbors.
For outsiders, the Orthodox Jewish university’s law school’s law journal’s decision to honor Carter was shocking, but as it works out, the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution confers its prize almost exclusively on people active in pressuring Israel to make concessions to Palestinian terrorists who reject Israel’s right to exist. Past winners include Dennis Ross, Bill Clinton, Richard Holbrooke, George Mitchell, John Wallach and Seeds of Peace and, perhaps most astoundingly, the outspoken Jew hater Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
In other words, Carter wasn’t chosen for the honor despite his anti-Israel record. He was selected because of his anti-Israel record.
In a similar fashion, New York’s 92nd Street Y invited virulent Israel hater Roger Waters to perform a concert on April 30. Given Waters’s outspoken opposition to Israel, his call for total economic and cultural warfare against the Jewish state and his leading role in the BDS movement, it is not possible that the 92nd Street Y was unaware of his radical, anti-Semitic sentiments.
And so, the only reasonable explanation for his invitation to perform at the Jewish institution is that the Y wanted to invite this openly anti- Semitic musician to perform. A public outcry by pro-Israel activists forced the Y to cancel his performance.
The day that Carter was embraced by the Orthodox Jewish establishment, Jewish author and activist Pamela Geller was silenced. Geller is the nightmare of the liberal Jewish establishment.
She is a beautiful and articulate speaker and writer who has risen to prominence in the US for her steadfast commitment to exposing the deadly pathologies of Jew hatred, misogyny and other prejudices inherent to jihadist ideology.
Geller’s website, Atlas Shrugs, is a clearinghouse for information on Islamic persecution of women, Christians and apostates and hatred of Jews. She also showcases the documented ties between mainstream American Islamic groups and the Muslim Brotherhood.
An indefatigable defender of Israel, Geller recently ran a highly controversial, and successful ad campaign in the New York and San Francisco public transportation systems in response to an anti-Israel ad campaign. Her billboards read, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel, Defeat Jihad.”
Geller was scheduled to speak on April 13 at the Great Neck Synagogue in Great Neck, New York. The topic of her talk was “The Imposition of Shari’a in America.”
Last month, after learning of her talk, a consortium of Islamic and leftist activists in Nassau County led by Habeed Ahmed from the Islamic Center of Long Island launched a pressure campaign to coerce the synagogue into cancelling her speech. Members of the group telephoned the synagogue and castigated Geller as a bigot, and likened her to the Nazis in the 1930s.
In short order liberal rabbis Michael White and Jerome Davidson took over the opposition to Geller and launched a media campaign attacking her as a bigot and demanding that the Great Neck Synagogue cancel her speech.
Rejecting the distinction Geller makes between jihadists and their victims – Muslim and non- Muslim alike, White and Davidson claimed that she opposes all Muslims and so her speech must be canceled. By hosting her, they intoned, the Great Neck Synagogue would be guilty of propagating hate speech. Liberal Christian and Jewish activists and their Muslim associates threatened to protest the speech.
On Wednesday the synagogue caved in to their massive pressure. Citing “security concerns” the synagogue board released a statement saying that while “these important issues must be discussed, the synagogue is unable to bear the burden” of the pressure campaign surrounding Geller’s planned speech. Her event was canceled.
Surveys of the American Jewish community taken in recent years by the American Jewish Committee demonstrate that the vast majority of American Jews are deeply supportive of Israel, and their views tend toward the Right side of the political spectrum in issues related to Israel, the Palestinians and the wider Islamic conflict with the Jewish state.
On the other hand, the AJC’s surveys show that for the vast majority of American Jews, Israel is not a voting issue. This state of affairs was reflected by a comment that Yeshiva University student Ben Winter made to the media regarding the absence of student protest against Carter on Wednesday. In Winter’s words, “While many students at YU feel strongly about their Zionism, few have the courage to publicly express their opinions.”
The danger exposed by the cancellation of Geller’s speech and the conferral of honors on the likes of Carter and Waters by mainstream Jewish institutions is daunting. If moral relativism remains the dominant dogma of the American Jewish establishment, the already weakly defended, but still strongly rooted, support for Israel among the rank and file of the American Jewish community will dissipate.