Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Shawarma Republics are Burning

Daniel Greenfield article

Link to Sultan Knish

The Shawarma Republics are Burning

Posted: 17 Jul 2013 10:19 PM PDT

Syria is burning, not because of the Arab Spring or Tyranny or Twitter, or any of the other popular explanations. The fire in Syria is the same firestorm burning in Iraq, in Turkey, in Lebanon and throughout much of the Muslim world. It has nothing to do with human rights or democracy. There is no revolution here. Only the eternal civil war.

Most people accept countries with ancient names like Egypt, Jordan and Syria as a given. If they think about it at all they assume that they were always around, or were restored after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. But actually the countries of the Middle East are mostly artificial creations borrowing a history that is not their own.

When Mohammed unleashed a fanatical round of conquests and crusades, he began by wrecking the cultures and religions of his native region. And his followers went on to do the same throughout the region and across the world.

Entire peoples lost their history, their past, their religion and their way of life. This cultural genocide was worst in Africa, Asia and parts of Europe. But the Middle Eastern peoples lost much of their heritage as well.

The Muslim conquerors made a special point of persecuting and exterminating the native beliefs and indigenous inhabitants they dominated. Israeli Jews, Assyrian Christians and Persian Zoroastrians faced special persecution.

Conquered peoples were expected to become Muslims. Those who resisted were repressed as Dhimmis. But those who submitted and became Muslims suffered a much worse fate, losing major portions of their traditions and history. They were expected to define themselves as Muslims first and look back to the great day when their conquerors subjugated them as the beginning of their history. Their pre-Islamic history faded into the mists of the ignorant past.

But Islam did not lead to a unified region, only to a prison of nations. The Caliphates, like the USSR, held sway over a divided empire through repression and force. Many of those peoples had lost a clear sense of themselves, but they still maintained differences that they expressed by modifying Islam to accommodate their existing beliefs and customs.

Islamic authorities viewed this as nothing short of heresy. It was against some such heresies that the Wahhabi movement was born. But these attempts to force the peoples of the region into one mold were doomed to fail.

Islam came about to stamp out all differences, to reduce all men to one, to blend state and mosque into one monstrous law for all. And it did succeed to some extent. Many cultures and beliefs were driven nearly to extinction. Jews, Christians and others struggled to survive in the walls of a hostile civilization. But Islam could not remain united and the divisions resurfaced in other ways.

Muslim armies did succeed in conquering much of the world in a frenzy of plunder and death. But they quickly turned on each other. Rather than conquering the world, they went on to fight over the plunder and the power. Nothing has really changed since then.

The fall of the Ottoman Empire brought in the Europeans to reconstruct the Middle East. The modern states are the work of their hands. A clumsy mismatch of borders and warring peoples. The USSR came after with its own line of coups and Arab Socialist dictatorships. Now the third wave of Islamist tyrannies is on the march. But none of them can solve the basic problems of the region.

Syria is burning not because of human rights, but because it's a collection of different peoples with different variants of Islam who don't get along. A handful are descended from the original natives. The rest are foreign Arab invaders, some more recent than others. The story repeats itself across the region. And across the world.

Iraq, Bahrain, Syria, Lebanon are just some examples of countries permanently divided by such a mismatch of peoples. Agreements and elections come to nothing because no group believes that they will be treated as equals if they aren't in power. And they're right. Equality doesn't just come from open elections, but from a cultural acceptance of differences. This simply does not exist in the Muslim world where gender differences mean you're a force of corruption or a slave, ethnic differences mean you are the son of a dog, and religious differences mean you're an enemy.

Had the forces of Islam not turned the Middle East upside down, the nation state might have evolved out of individual cultures, rather than as a strange hybrid of feudalism and Great Powers colonialism. For all their bluster and viciousness, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon are abandoned colonies. The Gulf states are even worse, backward clans of cutthroat merchants who are parasitically feeding off the West, even as they try to destroy it.

The rulers invariably marry Western women or women with a large dose of Western blood. Sadat married the daughter of an English woman. Mubarak married the daughter of a Welsh woman. For all that the Hashemites tout their descent from Mohammed, Queen Noor is more Anglo-Saxon than Arab. And the current Jordanian King's mother was originally known as Toni Gardner. Even when they do marry Arab women, they are usually Christian Arabs and British educated.

There's something pathetic about the sight of the post-colonial Arab leadership trying to gain some psychological legitimacy by intermarrying with their former rulers. As if pumping enough English blood into the veins of their offspring will somehow make them as capable as the Empire that ruled them and then left to attend to its own affairs.

But not nearly as pathetic as half of them claiming descent from Mohammed. Both reveal the underlying historical instability of their rule. These aren't nation states, they're hopelessly dysfunctional geographical divisions bristling with Western weapons and money, with interpretations of the Koran and texts on Arab Socialism, where everyone is a philosopher and a scholar-- but no government lasts longer than it takes to overthrow it.

Every colonel and general dreams of empire, and every cleric in his flea ridden robes theorizes on the Islamic state, but none of them can do anything but act out the same murderous dramas. Building their house of cards and then watching it tumble down.

Had Western shenanigans not raised the price of bread, while providing support to local leftists from wealthy families, the Arab Spring would not exist. Now that it has, it's only another excuse for locals to fight their civil wars and then erect another ramshackle regime on the ruins of the old.

This isn't 1848 as some have theorized. It's 848, over and over again. Worse still, it's 748. 

When you don't have a nation, but you do have an army, then what you have is not a state, but a Shawarma Republic. To keep the army from overthrowing the leader, he must find internal or external enemies. When a downturn occurs, and the mobs gather, either the army massacres the mob or overthrows the ruler. Or the rebels cut a deal with some internal elements and wipe out the loyalists.

This is an old regional narrative that has nothing to do with democracy, human rights, Twitter or any of the other nonsense flowing through New York Times columns faster than the sewers of Cairo.

The modern Shawarma Republic has some royal or military ruler at the top who receives money from the West or from its enemies to hold up his end of the bargain. Which to him means stowing the money into foreign bank accounts, sending his trophy wife on shopping trips to Paris and striking a fine balancing between wiping out his enemies and buying them off.

Naturally he carries on the ritualistic chant of "Death to Israel", and if Israel ever looks weak enough, or his new Chinese or Iranian allies kick in the money for a full fledged invasion, he may even take a whack at it. But mostly the chants of "Death to Israel" are a convenient way of executing his enemies for collaborating with Israel.

In Syria, Assad's Shawarma Republic (officially the Syrian Arab Republic, formerly the United Arab Republic, after a bunch of coups and one kingdom, the privately owned fiefdom of the dumbest scion of the clan) is on fire. Because the enemies of the regime, and some of its former allies, got around to exploiting Bashar Assad's weakness.

For now Assad's armies backed by his Iranian allies are in control of the Shawarma Republic of Syria but that might change. Especially now that Turkey and much of the Arab world have stepped into the anti-Assad camp. And when the fireworks die down, and the corpses are cleaned up off the streets, there will be another Shawarma Republic. This one may not be run by the Alawites. But it will be run by someone, and it won't be the people.

The irony is that after turning Lebanon into its puppet, Syria got the same treatment from Iran. And if a revolt succeeds, then it might get the same treatment from Turkey. The big dog bites the little dog, and the bigger dog bites it.

The process can't be stopped, because the Islamic conquests that wrecked the region, the Caliphates that tried to make it static, and the colonial mapmakers who turned it into a ridiculous puzzle of fake countries filled with people who hate each other-- make it impossible.

There was a brief window after the war when the exit of empires and the presence of a large Western educated class seemed as if they might lead to working societies. Instead they led to the pathetic imitations of the worst of the West, dress up generals and scholars cranking out monographs explaining how everything could be made right with their theory. Now it's leading back to Islamism and the bloody clashes in the desert that originated this permanent state of dysfunction.

The Islamic Caliphate as a panacea for the problems caused by Islamic caliphates is about as good an idea as pouring gasoline on a fire. Which is exactly what the Islamists financed by Gulf royals, who can't help cutting throats even when it's their own, are doing.

You can't build a country out of armies and billions of dollars. The reason that Israel works and the Arab world doesn't is very simple. The Jews retained their identity. The perpetrators and victims of Islam who surround them have no roots. Only the sword in their hand and the shifting sands under their feet.

Daniel Greenfield is a New York City based writer and blogger and a Shillman Journalism Fellow of the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

Fear of a Racist Country

Posted: 17 Jul 2013 07:27 AM PDT

For the last 150 years this country has been on a long strange trip and the one and only thing that we know about it anymore is that it's racist.

Racism has become an indisputable fact of the universe. When everything else is in doubt, racism isn't. It can't be. It's become the anti-weather, the thing we discuss because everyone knows that it exists and everyone knows that everyone is racist.

America is racist. Just look at Segregation, the Trail of Tears and whatever happened last week that is already being analyzed on Salon, broken down at Atlantic Wire, trending on Twitter, spun on Think Progress and then chewed and digested by the slower eaters on CNN, MSNBC and the surviving outposts of the print media.

Everyone and everything is racist. When the racism microscope is turned on or a racism signal is beamed to the giant orbiting racism satellite launched last week by that fortress of white extraterrestrial privilege, NASA, or a special racism submersible is dropped into the ocean, their enhanced analytical powers reveal that racism is everywhere in America.

That may seem unlikely to anyone who actually travels to any of the places in the world that still have slavery. They are much less concerned with media images of black people over in Mauritania which still has slavery. There's not a lot of interest in white privilege over in Sudan, where actual genocide is still taking place. And if you get a chance, stop by Papua, where Obama's friendly Indonesian step-folks are still killing black people.

But that's actual racism. We don't have real racism. What we have are cashiers writing insulting things on receipts, landlords who occasionally prefer not to rent to black people and the occasional drunken idiot who starts shouting slurs at a black man. It's not exactly up there with genocide, but fortunately the racism industry has supplemented it by denouncing every movie and television show ever made and every police or even non-police shooting involving a black man as racist.

A hundred years ago educated people subjected themselves to psychoanalysis sessions which proved conclusively that their fear of heights was caused by wanting to kill their fathers and rape their mothers. And if you didn't dabble in some amateurish psychoanalysis, the intellectual elites of New York or Chicago wouldn't even bother sneering in your direction.

These days racism is the new psychoanalysis. Educated people check their privilege and discover that they are the reincarnation of Simon Legree. They are horrified to find that they take it for granted that people in movies look like them and talk like them. They gasp as they realize that they actually manage to get through the day without thinking about race and weep in shame as they are told that black people are constantly thinking about race and their failure to do the same thing is a form of privilege that makes them no better than Jefferson Davis or Archie Bunker.

Black people don't actually spend all their time being racially conscious, much as factory workers in the 19th century didn't actually go around being class conscious all the time. That was just one of the things that Marxists successfully convinced the eagerly guilty elites of. About the only people who do spend all their time viewing everything through a toxic prism of race are MSNBC analysts, and like prostitutes and people who test dangerous cosmetics on rabbits; they only do it because they're paid to.

Our search for racism has become an inner spiritual search for the racist within. The new racism is an unawareness of racism, which says all that there is to say about the prevalence of this terrible threat. When the biggest issue with racism is that not enough people are constantly thinking about it, then the real problem is that there isn't a problem.

That candidly sums up the state of American racism, which is a problem searching for a problem. But that is different than the state of American race relations, which is characterized by suspicion, irritation, guilt and occasional explosions carefully stirred up and set off by an entire field of professional provocateurs in academia and the media.

One of the greater fallacies of racism is to assume that it equates to race relations. It does not. The problem of racism involved the way that governments and people behaved toward each other. That's different than how people see each other. That form of racism, like the monsters that began pouring out of the brains of patients lying cushioned on the psychoanalyst's couch, is not something that we can or should be dealing with.

If we look back at the countries that we all came from, we find that once upon a time we all hated each other. The English, the Irish and the Welsh, the Spanish and the Portuguese, the Norwegians and the Swedes, the French and well everyone else. And turning east, the Chinese and the Japanese, and over to Africa, where no one got along, resulting in slavery, and where no one still gets along, resulting in genocide.

Some of these differences were smoothed over by the melting pot. Some weren't. It might be nice if these things went away, but we can't make them go away without also making our histories and identities go away too.

For example, making black racism go away would require removing slavery and the civil rights movement from their history. That's not a price that they're willing to pay and with good reason. Everyone has their histories, their identities and their resentments. Those things are part of them. They explain how they got there and who ripped them off along the way and what scores need to be settled in some still undetermined future. It's not a problem so long as those scores aren't being settled on a street corner right now.

As multicultural countries go, we're doing pretty well. Especially compared to Africa where relatively minor differences between people that we would all lump together as African-American result in genocide. We're also doing pretty well compared to the histories of the English and the Irish or the Jews and the Russians and the endless number of similar ethnic historical time tombs in our backgrounds.

America works pretty well when it comes to the unofficial form of race-relations that involves people working and living together without killing each other. It would work even better without a racism industry whose entire reason for existence is to turn racism into the thing that we should always be talking about and always be conscious of at any time of the day.

Racial consciousness is grievance consciousness. Take any members of two ethnic groups with an ugly history and tell them that they constantly need to think about those old grudges and discover how those grudges lead to them being mistreated in the present and you would have the same perfect storm of outraged entitlement, racial paranoia and grievance theater that you do when it comes to race relations.

America does not have a racism problem. It has a problem obsessing about racism. The obsession isn't black or white, it comes out of the ranks of academics and activists who use it to disrupt society while profiting from the havoc. The Trayvon Martin case is only one of countless cases dug up and deployed by the racism industry to maintain this perpetual consciousness of grievance at the expense of social harmony.

Grievances don't go away when you constantly demand an absolute justice that no human being is equipped to provide. They go away when you let go of the grievances and try to live together. It may seem easier for white people to say that, but reducing the complex mix of identities and histories of the vast majority of the population, many with their own histories of oppression, to "white people" is exactly the kind of facile unthinking bigotry that the racism industry cultivates.

Everyone has their history of being oppressed and discriminated against either here or in their home country. Not everyone is still conscious of these grievances and these grudges. And that's a good thing and a bad thing. A little consciousness of their own history by the descendants of Jewish, Catholic and Protestant immigrants would prevent them from grasping at senseless post-racial shibboleths like White Privilege.

Forgetting isn't a privilege. Black people know that. When you forget, then you no longer know who you are. But there's a fine line between forgetting and hating. There's a difference between knowing your own history and insisting on overlaying it completely over the present because you lack the tools for dealing with the present.

America is a second chance. Not a place to forget who you are, but a place to discover who you might have become without that historical boot on your chest. That's not what it always was, but that's what it is today. It suffers from social dysfunction, but it is probably the least racist place in the world. Like its technological and cultural achievements, this social achievement is buried under a million tons of hate, denial and venom from a left that exists only to undermine America.

There is no bright future waiting for those who choose to become collaborators in fulfilling the self-fulfilling prophecies of the Anti-American left. The very cynicism and pessimism embodied in that worldview, the certainty of failure implicit in its obsession with racial consciousness, is pregnant with their doom. The morass of Detroit, the miasma of Newark and the wreck of Oakland isn't the labor of white racism; it's that same self-fulfilling prophecy that too many in the black community have chosen to collaborate in bringing about.

Faith in nothing but the power of racism leads to a hopeless future.

Daniel Greenfield is a New York City based writer and blogger and a Shillman Journalism Fellow of the David Horowitz Freedom Center.



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