Friday, January 13, 2006

Sunni Arabs of Iraq

I've been trying to cast around for a useful metaphor to describe what I think of the Sunnis and their terrorist ways. Finally the idea of the Ku Klux Klan and the Reconstruction period after the American Civil War appeared to me. I've been reading about the Civil War lately (and neglecting my Middle East Reading Project) and the parallels between Southern Christian Whites and Iraqi Sunni Arabs struck me.

Both Whites and Sunnis had been the top class of society for centuries. Both had preyed upon, economically exploited, sexually assaulted, mass murdered, kidnapped, excluded, and in short dominated the lower-tier groups. Both White Christians and Sunni Arabs lost their utter dominance because they lost a war with the American Federal Government. Both were completely unwilling to accept their former victims as equal citizens. Both had a culture and a theology that told them that they were naturally superior, that they had a right to rule over their lessers, and killing their lessers in order to preserve their power was not a crime. The Sunnis have formed Al-Qaeda, Ansar Al-Sunna, and many other thug organizations to murder and terrorize their former subjects, in an attempt to keep their dominant position; The Southern Christians formed the terrorist Ku Klux Klan, to murder blacks, officials, police, schoolteachers, and so forth, in order to return to power.

Sadly, in the long run, the Ku Klux Klan was successful, in part because the American Federal Army and Government were sympathetic to whites-only rule. Northerners didn't want blacks to become equal citizens either. The Sunni Arabs don't have that advantage. But they do have numerous sympathetic neighbors, Sunnis who also don't want Shiites or Kurds or Christians or non-Arabs to acquire equal rights or political power. Arabs must rule and they'll kill anyone necessary to keep it that way.

I should say here that the Arabs I have met are the most racist people I have ever known. I used to think that the Japanese were the most racist and xenophobic people I knew, but then the Arabs dropped them to number two. Perhaps this is because practically every Arab I've met is a Saudi?

It took more than a century to break the power of the Ku Klux Klan as a terrorist organization. Those ignorant thugs are still around of course, but they have nothing like the power and prestige and legitimacy they had just forty years ago. I don't think the Sunni Arabs have that kind of time to come to their senses.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Muslims vs. Catholics

Where I live, I am surrounded by Spanish Catholics. A large, beautiful 19th Century Catholic Cathedral rises majestically not far from my home and twenty minutes down the road is the White Dove of the Desert, the original Spanish mission built in the 17th Century. My best friends are a Spanish Catholic and an Irish Catholic, and ironically the Spanish man married an Irish Catholic woman, while the Irish boy married a Spanish Catholic girl from Mexico.

Why is this significant? I'm an English-speaking man, baptised in a Reformed Church (or "Protestant" if you prefer) and I'm descended from the English, Scots, Dutch and Danish, violently anti-Catholic nations of the Reformation.

Four to five centuries ago, my friends would have tied me to a stake and set me on fire. All because I'm an English Reformist (although I have rejected Christianity long ago.) If I had awoken in 1606 to find myself surrounded by Spanish Catholics, as I did this morning, I would have had a desperate struggle to escape with my skin intact. It's really quite a remarkable fact that I can live among them safely. So common is peace between Catholics and other Christians that no one notices anymore, but it is really quite an amazing fact if you look at it with an historical viewpoint.

Why bring this up? Because I've been thinking about the old wars of religion and Muslims. The population of Muslims in Arizona grows. I can't help but feel uneasy about it. When I look at their behavior in Iraq, the way they murder each other over sectarian diffences, they seem like Sixteenth Century Christians, ready to kill anyone who doesn't follow their religion. When I look at Muslim-majority societies, at the way they treat each other, the way they treat their non-Muslim minorities (dhimmis, inferiors under the law, second-class citizens), I see a bunch of medieval Christians. I wouldn't want medieval Christians living in my neighborhood. I wouldn't feel safe. There would be no way to "negotiate" with such people, no way to compromise for mutual understanding. It couldn't be done; their inflexible religious dogma permitted only one solution: domination. Tolerance simply doesn't exist for those convinced of their superiority. I can live safely among Catholics, but if I woke up tomorrow surrounded by Muslims, I would move out.

I know this sounds "bigoted" and "prejudiced" but let me protest: I know perfectly decent Muslims of whom I am not afraid. But they're all either bloggers or professionals--English speakers, educated people. I don't think they represent the majority at all. The majority displays a violent intolerance of other religions. They are completely incapable of self-criticism or accepting criticism from others. Doubts about their doctrines are blasphemous and punished with death. Their so-called "peace" with the Peoples of the Book is the peace of the tyrant over the subject. Dhimmis lives and property are never safe. Crimes against dhimmis committed by Muslims go unpunished. A dhimmi lives a life similar to a black person in the old American South.

I don't want Muslims here until they undergo a major transformation into modern societies. I don't want Tucson to be subjected to the riots and murders we see in France. I don't want one of our artists murdered the way Theo Van Gogh was by a Muslim angry over "blasphemy." If I want to voice my skepticism, my doubts about Islam, if I want to say what I really think of Muhammad, I don't want to look over my shoulder for some lunatic with a gun. I am no fan of racism or bigotry or prejudice, but facts are facts. Every time I see a group of women plodding along in the heat in their hijab here in Arizona, I feel fear. A shadow passes over the sun. A medieval darkness gathers.