Saturday, January 5, 2008
Second update on the firing of Stephen Coughlin
In the comments field of this Jihad Watch article has entered some person named “Jeffrey Carr” who espouses the view that Islam is not the problem, and that if we the West can encourage and use “moderate Muslims”, they in turn will help us stem the tide of the tiny minority of "extremists" who are threatening us.
Hugh Fitzgerald does an admirable job of describing the bankruptcy of Jeffrey Carr, but Fitzgerald errs grievously in making Jeffrey Carr out to be a “type”:
Isn’t the Whole Wide World just one big wonderful place where we are all diverse and yet also at the very same time we are all just exactly the same, and a can-do social-scientist like...oh, like Jeffrey Carr, come to think of it, doesn’t have to worry about those fusty old books like the Qur’an and Hadith and Sira because he “understands” Muslims on a “deeper” and "universally human" level. You get the type, the dreary type? Dreary, and grasping for the easy money, the government money, for those “studies” of the “4 stages”—the 4 goddam stages—of “radicalization” of Muslims?
Fitzgerald is making Carr out to be a certain “type” who is motivated by stupidity, a dreamy optimism, and greed (though later Carr denied that he was being paid as a consultant). While Fitzgerald describes the “type” excellently, his use of the “type” trope is the analytical problem here. He is making the one grave mistake of implying that, as a “type”, such characters as Carr are in the minority and that they are therefore going against the grain in plying their trade that depends upon this construct of theirs of a “radical Islamism” which, in turn, depends upon a studied avoidance of pursuing any thought critical of Islam itself. If such “types” as Carr are not, in fact, in the minority, but are in the majority, Fitzgerald would be hard pressed to explain such a massive phenomenon of mere “stupidity, timidity, rigidity, and cupidity”—those Esdrujula Elves he falls back on when the real dimensions of the problem begin to be glimpsed.
This leads us to the other grave mistake Fitzgerald makes: that of implying that only such elementary human flaws explain not only the fact of these “types” but also their prevalence and influence. By begging the question of explanation—i.e., how did all this “stupidity, timidity, rigidity, and cupidity” get to be so influential and prevalent?—Fitzgerald is thereby ignoring the elephant in the room: PC MC—the dominant and mainstream sociopolitical world-view which the entire West has adopted through a kind of sea change in consciousness over the past half century. It is this which explains the Jeffrey Carrs of the world; for they are simply going with the dominant mainstream flow. Fitzgerald would have it that they, as “types”, make and direct the flow, but no: while of course they are responsible for keeping the currents of the flow going by their participation in it, they are as far as their consciousness goes simply going with the flow , not causing it and not directing it against some other current out there.
Fitzgerald’s bitter mockery of Carr is exquisitely apt; but the premises from which he begins, and the foregone conclusions he draws, are inept.
The problem of PC MC is not so much the Jeffrey Carrs we have to put up with, but the dominant mainstream sociopolitical culture that makes them normal, and makes us abnormal.