Religious Cartoons and Cartoonish Religions
At least until the emergence of the modern left, America has never been a complaining country, but an action oriented one. It was considered weak and unmanly to complain, to whine, to blame others. Classical liberalism in no way resembled its modern leftist perversion, in that it emphasized individual liberty, following the rules, making one's way in the emporium of a free market, rising to the level of one's own abilities, and letting the chips fall where they may.
But more than differentiating between ideologies, I find that ideologies and political parties differentiate between "psychoclasses"--that is, different sorts of people reflecting different levels of psychological development. Of course, I am making a huge generalization, but the modern left is the party of complainers, while the modern conservative movement is the party of Doing Something About It. Importantly, the complainers are completely detached from the realm of solutions. No matter how much things improve, the improvement is never acknowledged. It is as if the original complaint is preserved in amber, like a sacred relic.
This applies to almost any issue you care to discuss--the environment (which has never been better), the economy (which is flourishing), the war, voting rights, whatever. Consider the civil rights movement. By all rights, it achieved its purpose 30 or 40 years ago, but it doesn't matter. It is now an institutionalized grievance department run by frauds, hustlers and race-baiters like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and other Democrats who are adept at exploiting and nurturing this limitless pool of human grievance and converting it into personal wealth and power. Think of the collective reservoir of bitterness and resentment as analogous to any other human energy. It is "fungible"--that is, able to be converted into valuable cash prizes, no different than positive and pro-social attributes such as personal initiative, creativity, ambition and drive.
Look at the feminist movement. It is based on so many demonstrable myths, lies and distortions, but the myths create a sort of energy through which many people are ironically able to make a nice living--for example, Justice Ginsberg, who parlayed her fierce and uncompromising female envy into a seat on the Supreme Court. Feminists still promulgate the lie that women earn 59 cents to the dollar that men earn in equivalent jobs, but this has been thoroughly debunked. It doesn't matter. If you are going to parasitically exploit the grievances of a class of people, you first must indoctrinate the "host" by peddling victimhood to them. Then the parasite is able to ride the wave of resentment all the way to the bank, the political office, the academic position, or the judicial bench.
In my local paper the other day, there was a remarkable but typical lead story with the headline "County Failing Latinos." It purported to be an objective academic study about all the ways government is supposedly failing Latinos around Los Angeles. For example, Latinos are more overwwight, less healthy, and less likely to graduate high school. But naturally, there wasn't a single statement as to whether any of these problems have to do with self-defeating beliefs and behaviors of Latino culture. It's okay to call people fat, stupid and lazy as long as it's a liberal saying it, because to the liberal, none of these things are your fault. You're a victim of the government, and the liberal is here to help you.
Why not a different headline: "Latino Culture Dysfunctional Compared to Asian Culture," or “Problems of Black Community Solved by Inculcating Mormon Values.” After all, elite California universities are vastly over-represented by Asian Americans, and Provo, Utah is the safest place to live in the country. On the other hand, our prison system is conspicuously underrepresented by Asians and Mormons. Perhaps someone should introduce an an affirmative action program to place more Asians and Mormons in prison in order to achieve diversity. After all, our prisons ought to "look like America."
Come to think of it, we rarely even hear much about Asian culture. They don't seem to complain much, despite a much greater history of real discrimination. In fact, it wasn't too long ago that they weren't even allowed to own property in much of California. Even with the W.W.II internment, by and large they simply took their lumps and moved on. On the other hand, there is a serious movement among African Americans pushing for reparations for slavery, as if that will solve any of their problems.
Isn't this what's going in in the Muslim world? It is a world of perpetual victims who literally don't know any other way to exist. In over half a century it has never even occurred to the so-called Palestinians that instead of foolishly trying to eliminate Israel, they might imitate her. But Job One for the Palestinians has always been and will remain the extermination of Israel. Once that is achieved, then they can think about schools, hospitals, roads, and anything else that creates a decent society. Yeah, right, just like every other Muslim paradise. There is no question that if Israel never existed, its current geographical area would be a squalid and undeveloped piece of generally worthless land, occupied by gang of idle complainers blaming Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon for their plight.
At Gates of Vienna there was a very illuminating discussion around a post by Ali Eteraz, who immigrated to the United States from Pakistan. He describes his experiences as a child in Pakistan, and the traditional fatalism of Islam that was drummed into him. He grew up in a place "where the harshness of life has made the exterior of its citizens tough enough to withstand the heat of the desert. The spirits of its people, on the other hand, are not as taut and unbending as their bodies suggest." Rather, the man living under the weight of Islamic indoctrination "welcomes sorrow, relishes pain, and exalts suffering. For him there is no value in the success of his relationships unless they add to one's misery; there is no value in tears because they would mitigate the sorrows — and that is not wanted. The irony is that even if one comes to realize the unhealthiness of such a way of life, the impracticability of always being life’s martyr, one dares not let go of it, because being happy now, in this life, means being damned tomorrow."
Despite transplanting himself to America, Mr. Eteraz has struggled to slough off these unhealthy attitudes: "I became fatalistic and apathetic... I remained within the folds of Islam because it gave me a framework in which to be submissive; and in being submissive, remain static. It let me believe that my inertness was tolerable, if not altogether ideal.... I always chuckle when I hear the political pundits calling people like me... the 'saving force' of Islam simply because we are not firebrands like Bin Laden.... Many pundits... have rested their hopes upon us muted ones. They expect us to free global Islam from the Tazirs and Bin Ladens of the religion."
"Somehow we cows, chewing on the cud of our paranoia-stricken life have been labeled 'moderate' as if we offer a counterweight to the extremists." But "One of the chronic conditions of Islam, moderate or otherwise, is to blame non-Muslims for the problems afflicting Islam. It’s like the alcoholic who blames his wife’s behavior for his drunken binges. It’s time for Islam to live with the hangover and sober up. And, perhaps, go to an AA meeting and start on the first of the Twelve Steps."
Amen. So now, throughout the world, Muslim jihasbeens-that-never-were are expressing their murderous outrage over some silly cartoons. Truly, they'd complain if they were on fire. Yesterday Egypt refused Israel's offer of assistance to help out with the stricken ferry boat. At least Muslims are a diverse lot. They can also complain while drowning.
*Interestingly, my father served in the British Army in occupied Palestine, back when it really was occupied--by the British Army. He didn't talk much about his experience, but he was impressed--if impressed is the right word--by the barbarism of the local Arabs. He didn't have a bigoted bone in his body, but I remember him casually mentioning that they had the ability to steal your watch while your arm dangled outside the window of a moving train. A prescient comment in light of the uniquely criminal and murderous culture that continues to flourish there. As Mark Steyn has observed, they are "the most comprehensively wrecked people on the face of the planet" through no one's fault but their own, but with big assists from the U.N. and their Arab neighbors. The Palestinians are the all-purpose complaint department of the entire Muslim world. All problems are somehow related to them.