Militarized Islam: The Problem of Demonization with a Few Suggestions

Someone who tells a Muslim business owner to his face that “Islam is rubbish” should hardly be shocked when barred from his place of business. This recently occurred in Belfort, France and was reported on as if the reader should be stunned by the Gatestone Institute.

If I were publicly known for intense anti-Christian vitriol and then planned a scheduled visit to view a self-identified ‘Christian business’ like Hobby Lobby in the U.S. towards a stated intent to look for Christian ‘deviance,’ should I then be surprised and shocked if the owners did not want me in their store? I probably wouldn’t want me if I were them, too.

With regards to individual Muslims both in European countries and Israel who spontaneously drive their cars into crowds of people, run into police stations with a knife to attack officers or start screaming ‘Allahu Akbar’ in public places; the above referenced commentary by Gatestone ridiculed references made to the likely presence of mental illness and/or mental health issues.

But since such acts are arguably not exactly ‘sane’ by their very nature, it certainly is not unreasonable to argue that such individuals have a greatly increased probability of having significant mental health problems. Then, the fact is that when such events do occur and the individual’s history is collected objectively, explicit mental health needs are, in fact, frequently documented.

There are, however, two highly relevant and applicable sides of this same coin.

One side is my agreement that simply dismissing militarized Islam (which is what I call it, by the way) as a direct potential trigger across such events risks both oversimplification and misrepresentation of a very serious, increasing and much larger social/religious and culture driven issue.

At the same time, using an agenda based filter which solely ascribes such behavior to the ‘scourge of Islam,’ or militarized Islam, can also and deliberately overlook social variables wholly irrelevant to religious fervor to include sustained impoverishment, isolation, unemployment, dramatic and increasing levels of economic inequality and the impact of aggregated discrimination among a number of others.

But the other very relevant side of that same coin is the invalidity and counterproductive nature of the increased tendency by the West to assign blame across Islam or everybody Muslim for even the highest profile actions by those who are Muslim to even include those times when the individual, him (or her) self makes such a declaration.

The increasingly generalized and intense vilification and demonization of a (any) huge swath of people for the actions of subsets within, whether individually OR in self-styled referenced groups, is unreasonable in itself.

Another point rarely, if ever, referenced by such commentaries and commentators in particular and the mainstream media overall is the fact that Islam – militarized Islam – has killed and brutalized exponentially more of their own than they are even remotely close to doing across all homicidal and otherwise violent actions taken under the flag of militarized Islam across all western nations combined to include the catastrophic event of 9/11 in the U.S.

But the episodic and truly infrequent overall occurrences of murder and violence by individual and/or very small numbers of Muslims in western nations suddenly gets massively bold headlines supported by dramatic and anguished, however decontextualized, commentaries.

The isolated beheadings of the several western citizens at the hands of ISIS falls into this same category. As horrific and barbaric this conduct was which only actually targeted less than a handful of western citizens, it instantly became a cause celebre in the West which then, and only then, finally triggered a level of consistent Western military response.

It remains in the general interest to separate those pursue militarized Islam based on ongoing ‘Islamic motivation’ versus those for whom militarized Islam may just provide a final aggravating factor – or misattribution relationship – towards acting out existing mental health problems; as a ‘rationale’ for irrational and not truly related actions.

We know that persons with a Borderline Personality Disorder, for instance, can routinely engage in misattributed behavior and may latch onto about anything to ‘blame’ for their actions to include when they are driven to more dangerous, harmful and at risk behavior patterns. In this way, misattributed behavior can latch onto about anything to very much include ill placed religious fervor whether Islamic, Christian, Jewish or otherwise.

Fortunately, the U.S. hasn’t yet been as more broadly impacted by such triggers and related homicidal behavior triggered by militarized Islam (9/11 and Boston excepted) as has France and other nations. At the same time, the U.S. has very directly been impacted by very active extremist White and ‘Christian’ Supremacist activity which uses its own self style ‘rationales’ and misattributions for irrational and sometimes, even, deadly behavior.

Yet, this dynamic is routinely ignored by outlets as the Gatestone Institute and the mainstream American media.

There has, in fact, been a huge range of examples of ‘Christian’ claimed extremism right here in the U.S. ranging from the Oklahoma City bombing to the cold blooded murder of either one or two rural Alabama police officers by a member of one of the self-styled Christian ‘Patriot’ leagues and his son.

For point, I’ve placed the term ‘Christian’ in single quotes here inasmuch as I no more consider these groups and individuals to represent Christianity or, even, to be ‘Christian’ than I do those similarly disturbed individuals who drive a car into a crowd, run into a police station shouting  ‘Allahu Akbar’ or, even, commit atrocities against school children to be representatives of global Islam.

There seems little doubt of the broader premise that militarized Islam poses a greater global threat than seems widely recognized (or is being acknowledged) and is a threat to which western governments continue to respond to in disorganized, purposeless and even dangerous ways.

But language does matter and the constant vitriol towards and demeaning verbal attacks on everything Islam and everyone Muslim based on the actions and activities of loud, however dangerous but much smaller elements within militarized Islam, will and likely has created its own range of wholly unnecessary triggers.

A key to a better western response to militarized Islam is not France’s National Front and Marine Le Pen, Britain’s Ukip or absurdist American state-based legislation to ban ‘Sharia’ law. More often than not, such misguided social dynamics and processes only continue to present far more triggers than they do solutions.

A key to a better western response to and understanding of militarized Islam is, I think, to better recognize that at its core is an increasingly borderless, self-sustaining geopolitical and military framework which, while using Islam as its own ‘rationale,’ hardly represents the global Islamic community.

With this comes several points of feedback and suggestions.

One is that targeting countries in a more direct military manner to even include those known to fund borderless militarized Islam does little in itself but, again, make the ‘triggers’ even hotter and more complex still.

Short of a 100% occupation of Iran, for instance, that nation would most likely continues in its attempts to fund selected militarized Islamist proxies and would likely do so even more if the West were to launch air assaults on that nation.

Qatar, a long time funding source for militarized Islamist groups has recently and effectively succumbed to focused and sustained geopolitical pressures to forgo their own range of these relationships and have recently disavowed their previously supported militarized Islamic networks.

And that happened without the need to bomb Doha or send in the 82nd Airborne.

Second is the need for western governments to engage in and very actively pursue the same geopolitics which had this productive impact on Qatar’s behavior across other state funding sources of militarized Islam.

A third more immediate need is towards a true international military coalition and more aggressive but highly targeted ‘boots on the ground’ intervention strategies against more pivotal militarized Islamic groups to very much include the current manifestation of ISIS.

Groups like ISIS are hardly the military gargantuan of skilled, highly disciplined and organized fighters and systems as is often identified in the western press. ISIS in particular, is brutal, wholly self driven and has shown itself wholly unable to administer regions under its control as per its previous promises.

The ability, then, of ISIS in particular but other pivotal militarized Islamic groups as well to withstand a coordinated confrontation and assault with and by a true professional military coalition to especially include American military would likely be very, very limited.

This also returns to point number two above.

That is, if borderless militarized Islamists are being allowed to root in and be supported by a given country, that country’s sovereignty would be forfeit as that same country will have to expect that a strong international military coalition will not hesitate to violate their self proclaimed sovereignty towards coordinated military action against militarized Islamists being given a safe haven.

A third more immediate point comes back to a theme of this commentary, itself.

It must be recognized that encouraging the proliferation of anti-Muslim vitriol and conduct simply for the sake of anti-Muslim vitriol and conduct is not a valid counter strategy but, in fact, becomes an active part of the problem in and of itself. It is not, or should not be, possible to ‘hate’ all Muslims all the time since there are so many Muslims in the global community and so very many of those who are not at all supportive of or aligned with militarized Islam.

Since there are so many Muslims worldwide, it subsequently becomes important to recognize that those of militarized Islam who routinely raise the ‘alert levels’ really are a much smaller core and overall percentage of this huge population.

The more the West chooses to irrationally attack all Muslims socially, verbally and geographically, the more the already noted individual triggers will actively flourish, be further enhanced and become further complex. At the same time, it would be expected that an increasing number of previously neutral Muslims will become unnecessarily alienated themselves and become targets for recruitment by and/or become more willing to support militarized Islam.

A key question to ask, then, is the degree to which the broad misrepresentation by the West of everything Islam to include non stop vitriol and demonization is directly harmful to the West. A closely related question to ask is if this campaign by so many in the West against everything Muslim is actually and inadvertently supporting militarized Islam’s agenda while helping to enhance their resources, activity levels and range of access.

The challenge to directly confronting militarized Islam to consider and understand far more deeply the counterproductive nature of activity by the West and whether the constant demonization of and assault on the global community of Islam has been effective. This author would argue most stridently, that based on observable data on the ground, the strategy of demonization and isolation has not seemed to be based on the observable data.

Only when this reality enters a state of functional awareness will a real, sustainable, coordinated and effective international – and a more broadly based Muslim supported – response to militarized Islam be possible.

And only when this realization occurs will the recently increasing numbers of individual manifestations when militarized Islam is used and/or misattributed by individuals who have commit homicidal acts in its name be more consistently reigned in.

About the Author
I was born in Baltimore, MD and have since had a wide range of experiences including a year plus in Israel. I've been a progressive organizer, writer/media spokesperson, coordinator and freelance. I am a PhD level Clinical Behavioral Analyst specializing in severe behavioral need in children (and adults) and their families. I write through no ‘agenda or special interest’ other than being a passionate supporter of Israel and Israel's future.