Friday, November 28, 2008

Ayman al-Zawahri's Islam and American Culture: Common Ground, Almost

Another message from Al Qaeda: Ayman al-Zawahri released another video today. Part of it, at least, seems aimed at Americans. The bottom line is pretty much the same as always: convert or perish.

That's a familiar offer. Considering what the loudest Islamic voices have been saying - and doing - it's very easy to assume that Islam offers non-Muslims a choice:
  • Convert to Islam
  • Pay taxes to Muslims if you're a Jew or Christian
  • Die
Rather broad-minded of them, in a way, acknowledging the other children and foster-children of Abraham.

Not quite the way the rest of us do things, though.

Ayman al-Zawahri had more to say, of course, including:
  1. America will fail in Iraq
  2. Those pesky Iraqi Awakening Councils won't be accepted
    1. They're Sunni, Iraq's Shiite
  3. The economic crisis is America's fault, for
    1. Being greedy
    2. "Wading in Muslim blood"
    3. Wasting money on war
  4. Al Qaeda doesn't kill innocent civilians
    1. That's western propaganda
  5. Americans should "embrace Islam" and live a life free of
    1. Greed
    2. Exploitation
    3. Forbidden wealth

Today's Message From Al Qaeda: Haven't We Heard This Before?

If that sounds familiar, it should. It's pretty much what al-Zawahri and others like him have said before.

If you're around my age, and think you heard pronouncements like al Zawahri's before 9/11: you're probably remembering your college years. Actually, judging from what comes out of places like Berkeley, anyone who's passed through the halls of ivy may find this familiar:
  • 1. America will fail (except maybe in civil rights and related movements)
  • 3. a. & c.Things are America's fault, for being greedy and wasting money on war
  • 5. Americans should reject greed, exploitation, and forbidden wealth
There are differences, of course: Zawahri, being a sort of ultra-Muslim, probably doesn't approve of hooch (I haven't confirmed that, though). In American culture, it's some of the super-conservative Protestant groups that regard drinking alcohol as a terrible sin, while booze is a rather central part of most American college campuses.

Except for that implied false note, though, I'd say that al Zawahri's message is in line with much of what's been said by American academia's best and brightest 1 over the last few decades. Just the same, if Al Qaeda succeeded in converting America, I doubt that they would tolerate having another group telling people what to think and believe.

In the news: Related posts, on censorship, propaganda, and freedom of speech.
1If you're not sure whether the liberal intellectuals are the best and brightest of all: just ask them.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.