Thursday, November 06, 2003

Magneto theory

Dan Darling at Regnum Crucis has a recent post expanding on a previous post he wrote about a "Magneto theory" of bin Laden's appeal. Apparently, some people wrote in to him and perhaps misunderstood what he was trying to say. Dan is at pains to clarify points that might have been misinterpreted previously. Here's a snippet from the recent post:

Magneto's basic view, as I've noted before, is quite compelling when viewed from the mutant point of view: humans and mutants are involved in a zero-sum game in which one group must win and the other lose, it's simple Darwinism. Attempts at dialogue and the like have ultimately proved fruitless, they don't care about our opinions or rights and are planning to come and kill us all anyway. Better we kill them first. That is the basic summary of Magneto's argument.

Evidence from the Marvel Universe would seem to suggest that there is more than a grain of truth to Magneto's arguments. Certainly from a mutant perspective, there have been far too many anti-mutant groups operating with the backing of the US and other governments for one to believe any claims about human tolerance towards mutants, if anything the exact opposite seems to be true. Humans only like those mutants that they can control and want to kill all of those that they don't. I am not saying that this view is accurate, but rather that it makes a powerful appeal to evidence that would lead many mutants to the conclusion that Magneto's ideology is the only logical resort by which to obtain their own freedom in locations like Asteroid M, Avalon, or Genosha (after Magneto took it over) as well as to secure it for the rest of their bretheren.

Bin Laden's ideology is more nuanced, but basically he paints a picture in which the West is deliberately responsible for every failure that exists in the Muslim world. He sees us as having perpetrated the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire, turning what were previously the bastions of Arab culture into colonial puppets, turning a blind eye to oppression and massacres perpetrated against Muslims, viewing any kind of political expression of Islam as a disease to be exterminated, only trusting those Muslims who are either extremely nominal or else [wholly]-owned creations of the West, and seeking to subjugate or enslave all of Dar al-Islam.

To many Muslims living in the Middle East, South, and Central Asia (or educated immigrants living in Western Europe or North America), this also holds certain elements of truth. The colonialism that took place in the Middle East in the form of "mandates" after World War 1 was an Anglo-French project, and both the USSR and the US (remember, we're all the same here from bin Laden's perspective) sponsored any number of nasty governments during the Cold War, some of which are still in power. Bin Laden ties all of these themes together by focusing anger against these governments and policies towards a single foe - the US.

Finally, on the need for a counter-ideology, I agree that it has to come from within the Muslim world. People like Sheikh Kabbani or Ayatollah Sistani (or even Shiah Pundit and Muslim Pundit, in my opinion) help to make such changes come into being through their rejection of both Khomeinism and Wahhabism. This is one of the reasons that I don't regard Islam as needing a Reformation, a Counter-Reformation is more like it.

As to the Air Marshal's Matrix post (cf. below)... I just read the three reviews. Pretty harsh. I hope to see the flick soon, probably not this evening, as I've been "recruited" by my church to speak tonight about Korea, Buddhism, and interreligious dialogue. This being a Presbyterian gathering, there will be food. So of course I said yes when the pastor called.

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