Long ago, before I focused in on Rhode Island issues, I wrote more often on global terrorism and related topics. Such things don’t tend to be directly relevant to policies and politics in the Ocean State. Of course, national security is ultimately relevant to life anywhere in the nation, but there isn’t a whole lot that a local conversation can accomplish, particularly with Rhode Island’s hyper-partisan congressional delegation.
One common theme between handling global violence and addressing Rhode Island’s failed governing system, however, is the importance of being honest and allowing frank, open discussion. If the terrorism of Islamic radicals in ultra-tolerant Western Europe exposes any problem, it’s the problem of making certain topics and assumptions off limits.
As usual Theodore Dalrymple has relevant experience and clear insights:
… On my visit to that quarter of Brussels a few years ago, I could see the dangers clearly enough. People like Salah Abdeslam, the terrorist arrested there a few days ago, would swim like a fish in the sea there, to use a Maoist metaphor. Between the sympathetic locals, and the rest of the population—whom they could intimidate into silence—it would be easy for them to hide. This social world is impenetrable to the forces of the state. My informant told me that the Belgian government is unable to collect taxes from businesses there—though it is, apparently, able to distribute social security.
And on a related note, Nabeel Qureshi writes on the intrinsic problem of preventing Islamic radicalization when it’s written into the religion’s foundational texts:
As a young Muslim boy growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, it was impossible for me to look up a hadith unless I traveled to an Islamic library, something I would have never thought to do. For all intents and purposes, if I wanted to know about the traditions of Muhammad, I had to ask imams or elders in my tradition of Islam. That is no longer the case today. Just as radical Islamists may spread their message far and wide online, so, too, the Internet has made the traditions of Muhammad readily available for whoever wishes to look them up, even in English. When everyday Muslims investigate the Quran and hadith for themselves, bypassing centuries of tradition and their imams’ interpretations, they are confronted with the reality of violent jihad in the very foundations of their faith.
This doesn’t mean that no venerable strains of Islam exist that are entirely peaceful, or that scriptural literalists from ISIS are expressing “true Islam.” It does mean that the scriptural backstop for the religion isn’t going to be a ready lever for the former. Qureshi suggests, from his own experience, that the strongest reform alternative for peaceful Muslims may be Christianity.
Be that as it may, the West is only making matters worse by plugging its ears and shouting “Islamophobia” every time the topic arises for consideration.