Poisoning Islam

It’s one of the stock phrases we hear all the time in America’s dealing with the Muslim world: we must not provoke them. Our actions energize the radicals, and serve as recruiting tools. When we do things like invade Iraq or Afghanistan (overthrowing brutal regimes that killed a lot more Muslims than we have, by the way, but you don’t hear that mentioned), we’re playing into the terrorists’ hands. When we imprison and interrogate suspected terrorists and extremists, we’re giving the bad guys their most potent recruiting tool. Air strikes that kill terrorists (and, occasionally, the innocents they so much enjoy hiding behind) merely lead to more extremists. And so on.

It seems that, in some folks’ eyes, nothing we’ve tried will actually reduce the general hatred levels of the US in the Muslim world, and everything we do either inflames or empowers them.

So maybe it’s time to try some new tactics — and some of my time spent away from here is paying off.

I enjoy getting into tussles on other blogs. I’ve found it refreshing to occasionally venture out as a reader, challenging authors on their home turf (as well as their supporters), where I don’t have the advantages and responsibilities of being “the editor.” I like to think it helps me keep my edge.

One such place is Outside The Beltway, and one of my most frequent sparring grounds is in the postings of Doug Mataconis.

On one of Doug’s recent articles, commenter “Boyd” (who is an old friend of Wizbang’s, I believe) put forth a rather novel notion that really got me thinking:

I was pursuing a thought exercise on this subject earlier today. Is it possible that driving fanatics to these insane extremes is actually a good thing, in that it drives them out into the open to the point where the sane among them begin to separate themselves from the nutjobs, ultimately marginalizing them to the point that
they’re ineffective?

Again, this is just a thought exercise, not a call for more of Jones’ own version of insanity.

I’ve previously used medical metaphors for Islam. For example, the notion that “once a land is Muslim, it is Muslim forever” fuels a lot of Islamist imperialism for “restoring the Caliphate.” It’s what is behind the Temple Mount situation — where Jews are forbidden from entering their holiest site because after they conquered it, Muslims built two mosques atop its ruins (and now the Palestinians are busily trying to eradicate any signs that the site ever had anything to do with Jews.

In that sense, Islam is the real-estate version of herpes — once a land has been infected with the “Muslim virus,” you can’t ever get rid of it. It can be controlled, but never ever cured.

Likewise, as I read Boyd’s notion and considered it, it occurred to me that what he is discussing is a socio-political form of chemotherapy.

In chemotherapy, the patient is very carefully and very deliberately poisoned. But the poison is targeted — it is intended to kill the disease before it kills the patient. It’s a brutal treatment (it usually makes the patient feel considerably worse than the disease has up to that point), but it can be very effective.

To extend the model, if we — as a people, not as a nation, exerting our individual rights to act and not doing so as an official government policy — were to start committing more and more and more deliberate, targeted acts of blasphemy against Islam, such as burning Korans, drawing cartoons of Mohammed, decorating Korans with bacon, making provocative films about Islam, and so on, we will anger much of the Muslim world.

But the ones who will be most angered will be the extremists, who have shown that they can be triggered into fits of frothing, homicidal madness quite easily.

So, the theory goes, the non-radical Muslims will look at their psycho brethren and say “whoa, dude, way to overreact. I guess these guys really are dangerously crazy!” and stop supporting them — even tacitly. They will not like the provocations we inflict, but they will not see it as justifying the extremists’ homicidal rages that most often end up killing more Muslims than us <i>kafir</i>. And that just might lead to the moderate Muslims finally triggering the centuries-overdue Islamic “Reformation.”

Would it work? I dunno. But nothing else we’ve tried so far has worked, and this notion, as James T. Kirk would say, “has the advantage of never having been tried.”

And it’s not like the extremists could hate us any more than they do now. So, what the hell? Why not? Anybody got any better ideas that we haven’t tried already, and failed with?

Thanks for the idea, Boyd. Your little thought experiment just might be more valuable than you thought.

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