A Tale of Two Worlds
by PATRICK DUNLEAVY
March 23, 2012
How does an ideology founded on democratic principles such as freedom of speech, thought, and equal rights defeat a more radical ideology based on fear, oppression, and strict interpretation of the Koran…or can it? Where are the battles fought and how can they be won?
These are the questions facing the reader in author Abigail R. Esman’s book; “Radical State - How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy In The West”. From the title you get the feeling that the outlook is dim, but that is not the author’s proclamation. Ms. Esman believes that the final outcome can be changed if we are willing to face the hard cold facts of where we are and how we got here.
The first fact we must confront is that Islamists have a radical ideology with an agenda that is in direct opposition to democracy. That the ideology infiltrates all aspects of life including art, culture, and politics is seen through the author’s narration of events taking place in Europe and specifically the Netherlands. It would seem that the very strength of Holland’s democracy and tolerance became an Achille’s heel when it came to dealing with Muslim immigrants arriving from non-democratic, Islamic fundamentalist regimes.
The author believes that multi-culturalism has in fact produced cultural wars where those who spoke out about the closed mindedness of the Islamists, as in the case of Theo Van Gogh or Ayaan Hirsi Ali, were marked for death. Van Gogh was brutally murdered by Mohammed Bouyeri, the son of Moroccan immigrants and a member of an radical Islamic group known as the Hofstadgroep. Bouyeri, after shooting Van Gogh eight times with an HS 2000 semi automatic handgun on an Amsterdam street, then attempted to decapitate Theo. Failing at that he took another knife and plunged it into the victim’s chest, impaling a five page note to the body addressed to Ayaan Hirsi Ali and western democracies saying, in part “I surely know that you...will be destroyed”.
And what was the crime for which they were to be punished? Van Gogh had written a book in 2003 titled “Allah Knows Better”. The book criticized Islam. He also produced and directed a movie, “Submission”, written my Ayaan Hirsi Ali, regarding the subjugation and physical abuse of women by Islamists. Ali, born in Somalia, was granted political asylum in the Netherlands in 1992. She often spoke out on such topics as arraigned marriages and genital mutilation of Islamic women. Ayaan was elected to the Dutch Parliament in 2003. She has lived under constant death threats by various radical Islamic organizations for blasphemy.
Ms. Esman’s accounting of these two stories is not the cold forensic language of a terrorism analyst or law enforcement personnel. She knew both individuals personally and her telling of their stories is poignant and issues a greater indictment on the Islamic fundamentalists who either stood by and let the violence happen or secretly encouraged it.
By interweaving the violent incidents that occurred with the historical record on what had taken place in Dutch society in regard to the growth of an Islamic population that refused to assimilate into mainstream society, the author outlines the failure of political leaders to see the collision course on which the two ideologies were headed. The policy of acquiesce does nothing to appease the jihadist.
It is one thing to learn of a suicide terrorist bombing of a government building or a military station. It is quite another when the terrorist targets artists or cultural events as a way of sending a message that free thought and expression will not be tolerated in a Wahabbi/Salafist ideology.
Ms. Esman’s background is in art and culture. In fact, in her self description for Forbes which she writes for regularly, she states she is an “Author, writer, critic, humanist, chocoholic; I write about art, politics, and religion -- the things that people argue about at cocktail parties...”
Yet she makes the forceful case in her book that these are the very arenas where radical Islamists will attack. Sometimes openly, sometimes subtly, but the message is clear in jihad. No one is protected. At the very least if you write or speak out against us you will be branded an Islamaphobic. You may have a fatwa issued against you and be targeted for death as in the cases of Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and the producers of South Park TV Show.
Ms. Esman wrote in her book that she believed that radical Islamists had a two-pronged strategy for defeating the West. One was ideology and the other was violence. I asked her if she thought that we should also have a defense that addresses both and, if so, how would that be done. Her response was enlightening. She said, “Yes, there absolutely must be a two-pronged approach. I don't think law enforcement belongs in the ideological battle, but it can certainly have a role in where that ideological battle is played out - i.e., watching the mosques. But others must play an important role in the ideological aspect of this, from lawmakers (who can and must at times decide whether to permit certain behaviors and attitudes to continue or develop) to concerned citizens, particularly moderate Muslims. That there is no louder outcry in the U.S. among the moderate Muslim population against honor killings, lone-wolf Muslim terrorists, and so on, is shocking and unacceptable. They above all are in a position to affect what happens in this clash of civilizations. That they do nothing frightens me.”
As someone who has worked in law enforcement and counter terrorism I found “Radical State” to be quite unlike most books on Islamic terrorism. It gave me a fresh perspective on the ideological battle between two fundamentally opposed ways of governing, Democracy and Islamism. The ideology that wins will affect all aspects of life, including culture and art.
Wars are fought in many places other than the battlefield. Wars are also fought in the arena of public opinion. Ms. Esman’s book bears testimony to that.
Patrick Dunleavy is the former Deputy Inspector General for New York State Department of Corrections. He is the author of "The Fertile Soil of Jihad: Terrorism's Prison Connection," details of which can be found at his website, and he can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mr Dunleavy is currently a consultant for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He teaches a class on terrorism for the United States Military Special Operations School, "Dynamics of International Terrorism" and has testified as an expert witness before the House Committee on Homeland Security regarding the threat of Islamic Radicalization in the U.S. Prison System.