Muslims and Westerners:
The War against Human Rights
Robert Gorter, Nicolai Sennels, Nancy Kobrin, et al.
It is disconcerting that present-day policy makers who did not know Stalin and Hitler are displaying the same old naÃ¯vetÃ© again. After all that has happened in the 20th century, they still do not know that you cannot build an utopia (like one world under Muslim / Sharia law) without terror, and that before long terror is all that is left.
Brainwashing people into believing or doing things against their own human nature, such as hating or even killing innocents they do not even know, is traditionally done by combining two things: pain and repetition. The conscious infliction of psychological and physical suffering breaks down the personâ€™s resistance to the constantly repeated message.
Totalitarian regimes use this method to reform political dissidents. Armies in less civilized countries use it to create ruthless soldiers and recruit children as they are easier to â€œprogramâ€, and religious sects all over the world use it to fanaticize their followers.
Sennel: â€œDuring numerous sessions with more than a hundred Muslim clients, I found that violence and seemingly endless repetition of religious messages are prevalent in Muslim families.
Muslim culture simply does not have the same degree of understanding of human development as in Western civilized societies, and physical pain and threats are therefore often the preferred tool to raise children. This is why so many Muslim girls grow up to accept violence in their marriage, and why Muslim boys grow up to learn that violence is acceptable (even preferable). And it is the main reason why nine out of ten children removed from their parents by authorities in Copenhagen are from immigrant families. The Muslim tradition of using pain and intimidation as part of disciplining children are also widely used in Muslim schools â€” also in the West.
Combined with countless repetitions of Quranic verses in Islamic schools and families, all this makes it very difficult for children to defend themselves against being indoctrinated to follow the Quran, even if it is against secular laws, logic, and the most basic understanding of compassion.â€
And as we know from so many psychological studies, whatever a child is strongly influenced by at that age takes an enormous personal effort to change later in life. It is no wonder that Muslims in general, in spite of Islamâ€™s inhumane nature and obvious inability to equip its followers with humor, compassion and other attractive qualities, are stronger in their faith than any other religious group.
Not only does a traditional Islamic upbringing resemble classical brainwashing methods, but also, the culture it generates cultivates four psychological characteristics that further enable and increase violent behavior.
These four mental factors are anger, self-confidence, responsibility for oneself and intolerance.
When it comes to anger, Western societies widely agree that it is a sign of weakness. Uncontrolled explosions of this unpleasant feeling are maybe the fastest way of losing face, especially in Northern countries, and though angry people may be feared, they are never respected. In Muslim culture, anger is much more accepted, and being able to intimidate people is seen as strength and source of social status. We even see ethnic Muslim groups or countries proudly declare whole days of anger, and use expressions such as â€œholy angerâ€ â€” a term that seems contradictory in peaceful cultures.
In Western societies, the ability to handle criticism constructively if it is justified, and with a shrug if it is misguided, is seen as an expression of self-confidence and authenticity. As everyone has noticed, this is not the case among Muslims. Here criticism, no matter how true, is seen as an attack on oneâ€™s honor, and it is expected that the honor is restored by using whatever means necessary to silence the opponent. Muslims almost never attempt to counter criticism with logical arguments; instead, they try to silence the criticism by pretending to be offended or by name-calling, or by threatening or even killing the messenger.
The third psychological factor concerns responsibility for oneself, and here the psychological phenomenon â€œlocus of controlâ€ plays a major role. People raised by Western standards generally have an inner locus of control, meaning that they experience their lives as governed by inner factors, such as oneâ€™s own choices, world view, ways of handling emotions and situations, etc. Muslims are raised to experience their lives as being controlled from the outside. Everything happens â€œinshaâ€™ Allahâ€ â€” if Allah wills â€” and the many religious laws, traditions and powerful male authorities leave little room for individual responsibility. This is the cause for the embarrassing and world-famous Muslim victim mentality, where everybody else is blamed and to be punished for the Muslimsâ€™ own self-created situation.
Finally, the fourth psychological factor making Muslims vulnerable to the violent message in the Quran concerns tolerance. While Western societies in general define a good person as being open and tolerant, Muslims are told that they are superior to non-Muslims, destined to dominate non-Muslims, and that they must distance themselves socially and emotionally from non-Muslims. The many hateful and dehumanizing verses in the Quran and the Hadiths against non-Muslims closely resemble the psychological propaganda that leaders use against their own people in order to prepare them mentally for fighting and killing the enemy. Killing another person is easier if you hate him and do not perceive him as fully human. This holds true for the Jihadist and the Nazi alike.
Terrorist organizations have been able to market mass murder under hysteriaâ€™s banner of alleged martyrdom. But when it comes to understanding Islamic suicide terrorism in particular, there is much more to it than â€œjustâ€ martyrdom. In this groundbreaking book, Nancy Kobrin dismantles the psychological dynamics of suicide terrorism to help the reader gain a new perspective on one of the most destructive forces the world has witnessed to date. Until now, no one has explained why the mother-child relationship is central to understanding Islamic suicide terrorism. â€œThe Banality of Suicide Terrorismâ€ exposes the very ordinariness of one of the deepest yet most poorly understood causes of the suicide bomberâ€™s motivation: a profound terror of abandonment that is rooted in the mother-child relationship. According to Kobrin, this terror is so great in the would-be suicide terrorist that he or she must commit suicide (and mass murder in the process) in order to fend off that terror of dependency and abandonment. Suicide terrorists seek a return to the bond with the mother of early childhoodâ€” known as maternal fusionâ€”by means of a â€œdeath fusionâ€ with their enemies, who subconsciously represent the loved (and hated) maternal figure. The terroristâ€™s political struggle merely serves as cover for this emotionally terrifying inner turmoil, which can lead down the path of ultimate destruction.
When I first read about Nicolai Sennelsâ€™ work concerning psychotherapy therapy with criminal Muslims in Denmark, I knew that it would be groundbreaking. I hope that any concerned reader will listen closely to what he has to say.
Nancy Kobrin had the opportunity to conduct prison interviews of Muslim detainees, which were not interrogations. Minneapolis has the largest diaspora of Somali Muslims outside of Mogadishu, and there was an overload in the county jail. Kobrin draw up a research project after receiving a death threat during one of the interviews, I decided against it.
Like Sennels, Gorter and many others, Kobrin came away with a similar sense that Western law enforcement and the general public did not understand why there was so much crime in the Muslim population. And why there has been this problem of jail house converts to Islam who then became radicalized through contact with other criminal Muslims during incarceration.
Islam is the perfect religion to give justification for those who feel under attack and to maintain the eternal â€œvictim” fantasy. Islam is also â€œhigherâ€ than Christianity because it comes last in co-opting the revelations of Sinai and the New Testament. What a perfect receptacle for projecting hatred. Islam incites, encourages and permits hatred of the Jew and Jihad. Itâ€™s perfect for a fragile personality that has the need to hate and the need to have an enemy. There are billions of people out there who share those sentiments and that profile. As an underdog religion, Islam provides great mass appeal, which even Eric Hoffer, the author of the True Believer, noted in 1951. It should come as no surprise that its numbers are growing. If one has a grievance, Islam will take care of it.
Eric Hoffer (1898-1983) was an American moral and social philosopher. He was the author of ten books and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in February 1983. His first book, The True Believer (1951), was widely recognized as a classic, receiving critical acclaim from both scholars and laymen
Sennels adeptly outlines the key problems of why Muslims are not able to integrate into Western culture. What he doesnâ€™t say, I shall name. We are dealing with nothing more than paranoia. Sennels stresses that the West must set boundaries because otherwise they will kill you. This kind of rage is malignant borderline behavior as in serial killing. We must come to understand such politically incorrect observations as Sennels does in order to connect the dots concerning criminal Muslims even though it is brutal.
Happy well-adjusted children do not become suicide bombers nor do they become murderers and other criminals. Western Society must deal with this increasing onslaught of its values (like the Bill of Human Rights) rather than bury oneâ€™s head in sand out of terror. Let us meet the challenge straight on as Sennels has. If the Swedes had intellectual fortitude, Nicolai Sennels, the Dane, should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for standing up and proclaiming that the â€œEmperor Has No Clothes.â€ But then again, that is a Danish tale and the Swedes are left with the world famous cineaste Ingmar Bergmanâ€™s melancholic and self-destructive dramas?
Sennels reports: â€œIt was February 27th 2008. On a cold and windy Wednesday (for cyclists like myself), I took a deep breath, grabbed the microphone and did something that changed my life. In front of the Copenhagen Mayorâ€™s Integration and Social Services Office there were gathered several journalists, a faithful Muslim musician from the famous MTV-band â€˜Outlandish,â€™ dozens of Imams and Muslim spokesmen and a couple of hundred social workers with Muslim and Danish backgrounds. I began to say what everybody already knew, but, what nobody either wanted or dared to say: that those who are referred to as foreign criminals, religious extremists, or terrorists in the making and who are the cause of lawless parallel societies (what the conference “Diversity and Safety in the City” was about) are all Muslim. I argued that we should stop talking about “criminal foreigners” and start using the more precise term, “criminal Muslims.” As a psychologist, having had more than a hundred Muslim clients, I told them that politicians and professional social workers need to understand the cultural and religious backgrounds of criminal foreigners. That is, if we want to come up with, at least, somewhat effective and targeted plans on how to reduce the social unrest, anti-democratic religious movements, the violent and anti-social forces among foreigners. I was met with strong criticism from all sides and no support at all!â€
Sennels:â€œJust as most soldiers in the front lines die in the first attack, many of those who attacked political correctness have experienced negative professional or social consequences. I was no exception. The Mayor of Social Services was clear.Â I should either refrain from using stigmatizing expressions or find myself another job. Actually I was trying to stop the so-called stigmatization of all the non-Muslim immigrants by focusing on the one group that creates all the problems. But you can’t fight City Hall. Our biggest national newspapers and radio news programs got hold of the story and the mayor was strongly criticized by the media experts on free speech and by the Danish blog-sphere. For about a month there was not a day when my name was not in one or more newspapers and the fighters for free speech took another round. I was no longer an anonymous psychologist. My name was known by everybody who read newspapers in Denmark and especially Islam-critical blogs on the internet put me in the spotlight.â€
Sennels continues: â€œInstead of keeping my mouth shut, I decided to write a book about my experiences with Muslims based on hundreds of therapy sessions. The whole circus that had happened concerning my case had already shown the necessity of breaking the taboos around criminal Muslims. Further, a serious discussion about the relationship between the Muslim culture and criminal, antisocial behavior is, indeed, very much needed. I managed to negotiate a deal that gave me four months severance pay. I am probably the first psychologist in Copenhagen who was offered $20,000 dollars for quitting his job voluntarily. I guess they just wanted to get rid of me, ASAP. I found a well-paying job as a military psychologist doing psychological screening of soldiers returning from the war in Afghanistan. I also started writing my book, in which I describe a psychological profile of the Muslim culture. The title of the book is â€œAmong Criminal Muslims: A Psychologist’s Experiences from the Copenhagen Municipality.â€ (Free Press Society, 2009).
Sennels: â€œAfter having consulted with 150 young Muslim clients in therapy and 100 Danish clients (who, on average, shared the same age and social background as their Muslim inmates), my findings were that the Muslimsâ€™ cultural and religious experiences played a central role in their psychological development and criminal behavior. “Criminal foreigners” is not just a generalizing and imprecise term. It is unfair to non-Muslim foreigners and generally misleading. (Robert Gorter: A similar trend exists in the UK where criminal Muslims are called â€œAsians.â€ Also criminal Muslims from Africa are called â€œAsiansâ€ doing great injustice to non-Muslim Asians and in The Netherlands, criminal Muslims are referred to as â€œallochtonesâ€).
Discussing psychological characteristics of the global Muslim culture is extremely important. Denmark and the EU at large have foreigners from all over the world and according to official statistics from Danmarks Statistik all non-Muslim groups of immigrants are less criminal than the ethnic Danes. Even after adjusting, according to educational and economic levels, all Muslim groups are more criminal than any other ethnic group. Seven out of 10 (70%) in Danish youth prison are Muslim.Â
The book by Sennels was reviewed in several magazines and newspapers and it kick-started the Danish debate on the relationship between cultural background and criminal behavior. The Danish magazine for professional psychologists reviewed it:
â€œâ€¦.Among Criminal Muslims is a provocative eye opener, convincing and well-founded with many concrete examples.â€
The professional magazine for teachers of teenagers wrote:
â€œSennelsâ€™ reflections and critical discussion concerning our efforts towards young criminals deserves to be widely known.â€
Â The largest Danish national newspaper Jyllands-Posten, that printed the Mohammad cartoons, wrote:
â€œThe book is an original piece of pioneer work by focusing on the responsibility of the individual and involving the impact of religion in the shaping of the young personâ€™s identity.â€
One can summarize various aspects of Islam and its effect on individuals and societies at large:
Muslim culture has a very different view of anger and in many ways opposite to what one experiences in Western societies.
Expressions of anger and threats are probably the quickest way to lose one’s face in Western culture. In discussions, those who lose their temper have automatically lost, and I guess most people have observed the feeling of shame and loss of social status following expressions of aggression at one’s work place or at home. In the Muslim culture, aggressive behavior, especially threats, are generally seen to be accepted, and even expected as a way of handling conflicts and social discrepancies. If a Muslim does not respond in a threatening way to insults or social irritation, he, not “she” (Muslim women are, mostly, expected to be humble and to not show any power of influence) is seen as weak, as someone who cannot be depended upon and loses face.
In the eyes of most Westerners it looks immature and childish when people try to use threatening behavior, to mark their dislikes. A Danish saying goes “â€¦Only small dogs bark. Big dogs do not have to.” That saying is deeply rooted in our cultural psychology as a guideline for civilized social behavior. To us, aggressive behavior is a clear sign of weakness. It is a sign of not being in control of oneself and lacking ability to handle a situation. We see peoplesâ€™ ability to remain calm as self-confidence, as Self-control, allowing them to create a constructive dialogue. Their knowledge of facts, use of common sense and ability in producing valid arguments is seen as a sign of strength.
The Islamic expression of “holy anger” is therefore completely contradictory to any Western understanding. Those two words in the same sentence sound contradictory to us. The terror-threatening and violent reaction of Muslims to the Danish Mohammed cartoons showing their prophet as a man willing to use violence to spread his message, is seen from our Western eyes as ironic. Muslimsâ€™ aggressive reaction to a picture showing their prophet as aggressive, completely confirms the truth of the statement made by Kurt Westergaard in his satiric drawing.
This cultural difference is exceedingly important when dealing with Muslim regimes and organizations. Our way of handling political disagreement goes through diplomatic dialogue, and calls on Muslim leaders to use compassion, compromise and common sense. This peaceful approach is seen by Muslims as an expression of weakness and lack of courage. Thus avoiding the risks of a real fight is seen by them as weakness; when experienced in Muslim culture, it is an invitation to exploitation.Â
Locus of (self-) control
There is another strong difference between the people of Western and Muslim cultures; their locus of control. Locus of control is a psychological term describing whether people experience their life influenced mainly, by internal or external factors. It is clear from a psychological point of view that Westerners feel that their lives are mainly influenced by inner forces â€“ ourselves. This is reflected in our points of view, our ways of handling our emotions, our ways of thinking, our ways of relating to people around us, our motivation, our surplus, and our way of communicating. These internal factors are what guide our lives and determine if we feel good and self-confident or not. Every Western library has several meters of self-help books. Every kiosk has dozens of magazines for both women and men that tell us how to create happier and more successful lives for ourselves. Our phone books have columns of addresses for psychologists, coaches and therapists. All these things are aimed at helping us to help ourselves create the life that we want. Some might argue that all this introspectiveness is too much and that just doing what is useful for oneself and others here-and-now would be more constructive, but this is how our culture is.
All these things do not exist in Muslim culture and countries. The very little psychiatry and psychology that is taught, in only a few universities in the Muslim world, is imported from the West.Â It is mostly taught by teachers educated at Western universities and does not have roots in the Muslim culture.
But Muslims have something else. They have strict external rules, traditions and laws for human behavior. They have a God that decides their life’s course. “Inshallah” follows every statement about future plans; if God wants it to happen. They have powerful Muslim clerics who set the directions for their community every Friday. These clerics dictate political views, child rearing behavior, and how or whether to integrate in Western societies.
â€œFree men are aware of the imperfection inherent in human affairs, and they are willing to fight and die for that which is not perfect. They know that basic human problems can have no final solutions, that our freedom, justice, equality, etc. are far from absolute, and that the good life is compounded of half measures, compromises, lesser evils, and gropings toward the perfect. The rejection of approximations and the insistence on absolutes are the manifestation of a nihilism that loathes freedom, tolerance, and equity.â€
The locus of (self-) control is central to our understanding of problems and their solutions. If we are raised in a culture where we learn that “â€¦I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul,” as William Ernest Henley wrote in his famous poem â€œInvictusâ€ in 1875; we will, in case of personal problems, look at ourselves and ask: “â€¦What did I do wrong?” and “â€¦What can I do to change the situation?” Individuals who have been taught throughout their entire lives that outer rules and traditions are more important than individual freedom and self-reflection, will ask: “Who did this to me?” and “Who has to do something for me?”
Thus, the locus of (self-) control is central to the individual’s understanding of freedom and responsibility. Even though our Christian based societies may, in certain situations, give too much emphasis on feelings of guilt; it also strengthens the individual’s sense of being able to take responsibility for, and change one’s own life. In societies shaped under Islamic and Quâ€™ranic influence there may be fewer feelings of guilt and thus, more freedom to demand the surroundings to adapt to one’s own wishes and desires. This may include demands to wear Islamic costumes which can result in more Muslim demands for Islamization of our Western societies, but it is also a powerful source of victim mentality and leads to endless demands on one’s surroundings. In a very concrete way this cultural tendency, shows itself in therapy, as a lack of remorse. The standard answer from violent Muslims was always: “â€¦It is his own fault that I beat him up. He provoked me.” Or: That I raped her was her fault as she did not cover her complete body.â€
Such excuses show that people experience their own reactions as caused by external factors and not by their own emotions, motivation and free will: their own feelings of any responsibility. Even though one’s own feelings, when experiencing an insult, can be moderated by one’s own point of view, this kind of self-reflection (self-criticism) does not happen to the same degree among Muslims as it does among Westerners. It only takes one person to beat up another: the guy who is doing the hitting. It also only takes one person to feel insulted. Being beaten and feeling insulted are thus strictly different social events. The latter depends on one self, while the former is solely caused by outer circumstances. Unfortunately, this fact is not considered in Muslim culture and apparently also not by the supporters of laws on hate speech, racism and defamation.
The difference in mentality is clearly stated by the old Indian proverb: â€œYou can walk around softly everywhere by putting on a pair of shoes, or you can demand that the whole Earth becomes covered by soft leatherâ€
Â It is a question of locus of (self-) control.
Self-Reflection versus Consequence
I have seen with Muslims, this cultural difference, concerning locus of control. It has been the source of countless failed social and integration projects. Besides the great support from our welfare systems, our state departments offer a variety of entertainment and guidance to criminal Muslim youngsters hoping that the thankfulness and trust that normally appears from such generosity will create a good relationship, respect and willingness to cooperate. But when the program of social events and appointments with patient social workers ends and the demands of mature behavior appear, the “mutual respect” often quickly evaporates.
Westerners feel that it is “our standards” that determine real consequences for people. We like to think, that if they get some guidance and a second chance most people will learn from that guidance and make use of their chance to improve. We are afraid to set strict boundaries because we do not like people to feel punished, even though our motivation is to stop people from destroying their own lives and the lives of others.
What we have to realize is that we need to be flexible to think outside of our own cultural boxes. I would like to quote from our Danish philosopher, SÃ¸ren Kierkegaard from his book â€œA Fragment of Life:â€
â€œIf one truly wants to help a person, we should first of all start by finding where he is. This is the secret to the art of helping. Anyone who cannot do this is arrogant.â€
European, Australian and North American politicians have spent trillions of Euros and Dollars in trying to avoid the apparently unavoidable; the failed integration of Muslims. Money has been spent on voluntary offers that our badly integrated foreigners can use if they want. They do sometimes try, but it very seldom works. What we have to understand is that we are dealing with people who grew up in cultures with an “outer – locus of control.” Self-reflection and self-responsibility have much less importance to them. These qualities are often considered as weakness.
During his years as a social worker, and later as a psychologist for antisocial individuals, Sennels realized that the only, reasonable way forward is to follow this three step procedure:
1) Provide guidance and help for integration. If this does not work, then,
2) Establish Boundaries and limitations. If this does not work, then set
What is pointed out here might seem to be more political than psychological. However, it is both the extensive experience of Sennels and Gorter in giving psychological or medical therapy to Muslims that has led us agree on the following statement:
â€œWe should not permit the destruction of our cities by lawless parallel societies, with groups of roaming criminal Muslims overloading of our welfare system and the growing justified fear that non-Muslims have of violence. The consequences should be so strict that it would be preferable for any anti-social Muslim to go back to a Muslim country, where they can understand, and can be understood by their own culture.â€
The mistake of politicians and the â€œpolitical correctnessâ€ is that we start with too long a permissive leash and as the antisocial youngsters make mistakes we slowly restrict their freedom. During this process these young people, very often, manage to destroy their own lives with bad habits, bad friends and bad criminal records. Our own experience, and that of many colleagues, is that the only functional way, is to start with a shorter leash. Then, as difficult people show that they can handle increasing amounts of freedom you can extend their options.
This way of starting with a short leash is actually very normal in our Western way of raising children. We start with strict expectations concerning school, doing homework, and behaving properly. Then, as children get older and more mature they will receive more freedom from their parents. When they are 21 years old they are expected to have learned enough to be able to handle life and are free to choose whatever education, partner, religion, life style that they want.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 -1832) was a German writer and statesman. His works include epic and lyric poetry; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an autobiography; literary and aesthetic criticism; treatises on botany, anatomy, and color; and four novels. In addition, numerous literary and scientific fragments, more than 10,000 letters, and nearly 3,000 drawings by him exist.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: â€œIf children grew up according to early indications, we should have nothing but geniuses.â€
In Muslim culture it is different – especially for the boys. They have lots of freedom in their early lives and as they get older more and more cultural/religious restrictions and expectations appear to support the family structure. By the time they are 20 years old, their parents often have already chosen their future wives or husbands. Other choices are also less free: the expectation, for instance, to either achieve high status in education or to work in the little family run shop, to support the family’s reputation by attending Friday prayers in the local Mosque. The “education pyramid” is standing upside down in the West; less freedom in the beginning, more self-responsibility as one gets older. In Muslim culture the pyramid stands with its wide end down; few expectations to follow civilized behavior as a boy, and less freedom as one grows more competent, to support one’s own family and religion.
From Sennelsâ€™ experiences with the 150 Muslims he had in therapy, only a handful felt themselves to be Danish. Most saw themselves as Somalis, Turks, Moroccans, Pakistanis, and Iraqis who now live in Denmark. Almost none of them saw themselves as an integrated part of the Danish society. They felt alienated and in opposition to Danes and the Danish society. They did not feel at home here: religious identity played an important part.
This was a real shock to Sennels. Many of his Muslim clients were second or even third generation immigrants, but, still they did not feel Danish. Actually it seemed that many of them were even more religious and hateful towards non-Muslims than their first generation immigrant parents. It was clear to Sennels that they saw themselves as quite different and even better than non-Muslims. Young Danes, who showed an interest in Islam, immediately received positive attention from even the non-practicing Muslims. So did the more hardcore Muslims. The power circles always appear around the more devout Muslims, fanatic, and powerful. The most popular among the Muslims were the true Islamists. The general picture of such an individual is a male with well-trimmed beard, elegant glasses, arrogant attitude, fine manners and clothing, the Qoran lying on their bed along with C.D.â€™s of Qoran readings. Typically, they learn a handful of conspiracy theories “proving” that the West, especially the US and the few million Jews left on this Earth, are the cause of all problems in the Muslim world.
Sennels did not keep statistics of any kind, but his overall experiences clearly reflected several research projects on Muslim identity in Europe. A French survey in Le Figaro showed that only 14% of the country’s estimated five million Muslims see themselves as “more French than Muslim.” Research made by the German Ministry of Interior shows that only 12% of Muslims living in Germany see themselves as more German than Muslim. A Danish survey published by the pro-Muslim pro-democratic organization Democratic Muslims led by the Danish PM and Muslim Naser Khader showed that only 14% of Muslims living in Denmark could identify themselves as “Democratic and Danish.” Naser Khader by the way also reviewed Sennelsâ€™ book:
The professional expertise that Nicolai Sennels has, whatever party he may belong to, is exceptional and with Nicolai Sennels’ clear practical examples throughout the book, the reader comes infinitely closer to understanding some of the integration problems. The book should be required reading for all school teachers, social workers and municipalities.
Why Islam creates monsters like jihadists?
The cultural and psychological cocktail of anger, low self-esteem, victim mentality, a willingness to be blindly guided by outer authorities, and an aggressive and discriminatory view toward non-Muslims, forced upon Muslims through pain, intimidation and mind-numbing repetitions of the Quranâ€™s almost countless verses promoting hate and violence against non-Muslims, is the reason why Islam creates monsters.
The teenagers Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni being prepared for execution by hanging for consensual homosexual activity in Iran (2005)
Also the feeling of justice and fairness, which is part of Western civilization, is not or hardly present. The Sharia law is dictated by Allah and therefore, valid till the end of time. Execution of children is a daily business as it is dictated in Sharia. And that a person must be guilty beyond doubt does not exist in these countries. Even a rumor can be enough to be stoned (lynched) to death.
The psychological problem within Islam
The problem with Islam and Muslim culture is that there are so many psychological factors pushing its followers towards a violent attitude against non-Muslims that a general violent clash is â€” at least from a psychological perspective â€” inevitable. With such strong pressure and such strong emotions within such a large group of people â€” all pitched against us â€” we are facing the perfect storm, and I see no possibilities of turning it around. For people to change they have to want it, to be allowed to change, and to be able to change: and only a tiny minority of Muslims have such lucky conditions.
Far too many people underestimate the power of psychology embedded in religion and culture. As we have already seen, no army of social workers, generous welfare states, sweet-talking politicians, politically correct journalists or democracy-promoting soldiers can stop these enormous forces. Sensible laws on immigration and Islamization in our own countries can limit the amount of suffering, but based on my education and professional experience as a psychologist for Muslims, I estimate that we will not be able to deflect or avoid this many-sided, aggressive movement against our culture.
We do believe that we, as a democratic and educated society can become focused and organized concerning the preservation of our values and constitutions, can win this ongoing conflict started by the often inbred followers of sharia. The big question is how much of our dignity, our civil rights, and our blood, money and tears will we lose in the process.
Gorter: â€œIt is the individual (the â€œI amâ€) only that is timeless. Societies, cultures, and civilizations (past and present) are often incomprehensible to outsiders, but the individual’s hunger, anxieties, dreams, and preoccupations have remained unchanged through the millennia. Thus, we are up against the paradox that the individual who is more complex, unpredictable, and mysterious than any communal entity is the one nearest to our understanding; so near that even the interval of millennia cannot weaken our feeling of kinship. If in some manner the voice of an individual reaches us from the remotest distance of time, it is a timeless voice speaking about (and to) ourselves. Here, the concept or reincarnation makes a lot of sense: an eternal being (I am) wanders through the various incarnations in the world of the senses.â€
Naser Khader (*1963) is Danish-Syrian and a member of the Parliament of Denmark for the Conservative People’s Party. He was first elected to Parliament representing the Danish Social Liberal Party in 2001. A leading proponent of peaceful co-existence of democracy and Islam, he established a new movement, Moderate Muslims (later renamed Democratic Muslims), when the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy began. Khader co-founded an association of Islamism critics in 2008, with the aim to promote freedom of speech and inspire moderate Muslims worldwide. Khader and the Conservative Party advocate a complete ban on the burqa as part of an integration initiative by the Conservatives’ parliamentary group, describing it as “un-Danish” and “oppression against women”.
Since Khader himself is a Muslim and even published a book about Muslim culture (â€œHonor and Shameâ€) this is a real compliment to my psychological conclusions.
Being a Muslim clearly overrules whatever national identity one has. Samuel P. Huntington – author of The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order – described a “U” analogy. My findings are very close to those of Huntington. The tops of the two “towers” of the “U” are where Muslims feel “belonging to the Umma” (the world wide Muslim community), and “belonging to the tribe” (sticking together with other Muslims in the same geographical area). At the bottom of the â€œUâ€ is national identity. For Westerners it is the opposite, our “U” stands upside down.Â Our feeling of obligation to the country where we live is stronger than our religion or group.
If integration just consists of learning the language and finding a job, it is not so difficult. But if integration also includes developing mental habits of equally respecting non-Muslims it is simply impossible for most Muslims. They see themselves as special, will always try to live together, create their own Muslim/Islamic parallel societies, feel separated and have less respect towards non-Muslims. True integration doesnâ€™t have to, necessarily, imply religious conversion. However, for Muslims it certainly presupposes cultural conversion. Clearly, very few Muslims have the will, social freedom and strength of personality to go through such a psychologically demanding process.
So, this is the paramount issue: â€œWill integration of Muslims happen, satisfactorily, to the extent necessary? If you think yes, then on what basis do you make the assumption? If no, then what will you expect the consequences to be?â€
Honor is a very central concept in the Muslim culture. Many Danish newspapers experienced mass rage from Muslims, when they published and re-published the Danish Mohammed cartoons. They have realized that Muslims are very easily offended: so offended that they are ready to kill for it.
What kind of honor needs to be protected by threats of terror and boycotts? Is this really honor?Â Maybe if seen through the glasses of a culture based on a book written 1400 years ago. However, when seen from the perspective of modern Western psychology, it surely is not. From our perspective such behavior is closer to being dishonorable.
Having to constantly keep up oneâ€™s appearances, becoming insecure and reacting aggressively when criticized is the result of low self-esteem. Unfortunately the Muslim culture tells its men that criticism must be taken completely personally and met with childish and violent reactions.
True self confidence would allow the individual the ability to think or say: â€œOk. You have your own opinion about me or my religion. I have another opinion, and as I trust myself, I will not let my view of myself, or my central values, be disturbed by you.â€ Knowing oneâ€™s own strengths and weaknesses and accepting them is the core and basis of good self-confidence.
If you had ever spent time in a Muslim community you experience this very clearly. You would find yourself constantly trying not to offend anyone and you would treat everybody like a rotten egg. Jokes, irony and, especially, self-irony is as good as non-existent. It creates a superficial social environment where unhealthy hierarchies appear everywhere because nobody dares to, for instance, point out the weaknesses of childish men and make fun of the powerful. There is an old Danish fairytale about a little boy that points out the nakedness of the emperor; “He has no clothes on!!â€ embarrassing the proud emperor wearing his non-existent magic clothes, which are only visible to “good people” (actually, the emperor was just naked – because the tailor had cheated him!). Such a story could never have been written in a Muslim culture.
Many young Muslims become assailants. This is not just because of the Muslim cultural acceptance of aggression, but also because the Muslim honor mentality makes them into fragile, insecure men. Instead of being flexible and humorous they become stiff and develop fragile, glass-like, steel-hard, narcissistic personalities.
Unfortunately, most journalists and media people use the term â€œhonorâ€ when describing cases of violence where the offender makes excuses for himself by stating that his honor was offended. Since the concept of honor is completely integrated in the social rules of Muslim culture, it is seen to be justifiable when honor is threatened. This extends to beating or killing women who want to claim such basic human rights as to choose, for themselves, their own sexual partners. By using this term, as used by the offender, the media automatically takes the perspective of a clearly psychopathic and narcissistic excuse for treating other people badly. Instead, we should take our own Western culture as a basis when describing such crimes. Terms like â€œfamily execution,” â€œchildish jealousy,â€ â€œcontrol maniacâ€ or â€œinsecureâ€ would be much closer to our cultural understanding of such behavior.
Consequences of failed integration?
The World Economic Forum published a report Islam and the West: Annual Report on the State of Dialogue 2008 in which they show the results of a survey conducted in 12 non-Muslim and 12 Muslim countries. The last point in the report concerned the question: “Do you think violent conflict between the Muslim and Western worlds can be avoided?” A majority of all 24 countries think that this conflict can be avoided. However, this is not the same as believing that such peaceful development will actually occur. Overwhelmingly, 22 countries out of 24, in the survey expected that the â€œinteraction between the Muslim and Western World is getting worse.”
This survey clearly showed that while there is widespread hope for a peaceful outcome between the tensions of Islam and the West, people are seemingly very pessimistic.Â
â€œTo most of us nothing is so invisible as an unpleasant truth. Though it is held before our eyes, pushed under our noses, rammed down our throats- we know it not.â€
Things are not going in the direction of peace.
Personally, these conclusions of Sennel and Gorter match those of the survey: a violent conflict can be avoided. However, the chances of achieving that are getting slimmer and slimmer every month. We passed the point of no return years ago when such a conflict could have been avoided without taking drastic measures. Draconian measures may have to include shutting down Muslim immigration; demanding reform of Islamic organizations and leaders in the West; tightening the thumb screws on integration; becoming less dependent on oil in the Middle East; providing incentives to extremely overpopulated, impoverished countries to have less children; creating an alternative to the UN exclusively for democratic countries; cutting the EU’s ability to force European countries to receive more Muslim immigrants and refugees; and perhaps even sending Muslims who proved themselves unable to adjust to our Western secular laws back to their countries of origin.
Such drastic measures are probably necessary. However, our politicians have decided to give the “long leash” first, then slowly and with much hesitation, to shorten it as things get worse and worse.Â With such politicians the Islamists can lean back and enjoy the show. The destruction of the “perverted,” free, non-Islamic West will happen by itself.
Since the Muslim world is already here â€“ in thousands of Muslim ghettoes in Europe, Australia and North America â€“ the possibility that violent conflict will happen in Western cities all over the world is very great; possible no longer preventable.
One needs to understand the Muslim culture much better if one wants to be able to stop such a catastrophe. One needs to understand that it is not possible to integrate masses of Muslims into Western societies. One needs to understand that the non-confrontational Western ways of handling conflicts make Westerners look weak and vulnerable to Muslim leaders. The West needs to understand that Muslim culture is much stronger and more determined than the guilt-ridden, self-excusing Western culture. One need to understand that Muslims will only feel at home in a Muslim culture and this is why their religious demands for Islamization of the West (and the rest of the world) will never end.
The moment when a popular Islamic cleric declares a Muslim area as Islamic (such declarations are the tradition of Islam, and are happening all over the world – in China, Thailand, ex-Yugoslavia, Russia, Africa etc.) and orders his followers to attack all non-Islamic authorities entering the area, there will be civil wars. No State can tolerate such an attack on its authority and will have to stop it from happening and stop it from growing. These â€œno-goâ€ self-governing areas are already full of violent criminals, weaponry and Islamic extremists. They will probably not give up either their guns or themselves to the authorities voluntarily. Such Islamic declarations have already happened on an unofficial level. All Western European countries have such â€œno goâ€ areas where policemen and authorities are met with threats and flying stones upon entering; all while Islamic authorities such as Imams and homegrown Sharia courts freely rule these â€œno goâ€ areas, creating Muslim ghettoes.
Gorter: â€œWhen cowardice becomes a fashion, its adherents are without number, and it masquerades as forbearance, reasonableness and whatnot.â€
After having heard the stories from Muslims themselves about their culture, religion, home countries, Muslim ghettoes, their views on non-Muslims, democracy, women and freedom, I have no hope that we can avoid â€œblood, sweat and tearsâ€ during this conflict. It will take many idealistic women and men many years before we reach a point where we can be sure that our freedom-loving culture will win such a conflict. As it stands now, such victory is not at all certain. I hope that many brave people will stand up for what we all believe in, and be mindful of how easily it can be lost. They could write letters to their newspapers, study the Quâ€™ran and the crime statistics (the only two sources you need to convince yourself that Muslim immigration is a very bad idea). Then they could present their opinions in a confident manner when conversation turns to the subject of Islam and Muslim immigration at lunch, work and at family dinners. A popular movement composed of average citizens standing up against the immature and psychologically unhealthy culture of Islam is the way and the goal. Nothing is more important than that.
The result of the “Diversity, and Safety in the City” conference on February 27, 2008 was a so-called â€œCatalogue of Ideas.â€ The Catalogue had more than 118 ideas concerning what the media, the police, the state, the politicians and the Danes could to do improve integration. There were virtually no ideas about what foreigners themselves can do to improve integration (sic).
Reza Varjavand is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management at Saint Xavier University in Chicago. In this short piece at Iranian.com, he asks a common-sense question that has been obscured by the fog of jihad-enabling propaganda pumped out endlessly by the likes of the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Reza Aslanâ€™s Aslan Media. His title, â€œIs Fear of Islam Unfounded?,â€ is of course prompted by the use of the term â€œIslamophobia,â€ which literally means fear of Islam; however, I think the best response to the atrocities he mentions is not fear, but resoluteness in the defense of freedom and human rights.
As a teaching and treating professor and physician, Robert Gorter lived in several Muslim countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa from 1998 through 2014.
Gorter would attempt to summarize his vision on his experiences with all levels of their societies as follows:
In general, Muslims live and die for honor
The importance of honor expresses itself in the cultural virtues of hospitality, generosity, community, and relational loyalty. Islamic cultures highly esteem the Qurâ€™an, Muhammad, ummah (community of believers) and even the Arabic language itself. Due to group identity, to insult one of them is to insult them all (for example, Charles Hebdo). To say honor is important to Muslims is an understatement. We must keep in mind that (Arab) Muslims believe the West has intentionally humiliated and shamed them throughout history. One reason young Muslims resort to terrorism is to regain honor. As an Iraqi jihadist phrased it, â€œWhen the Americans came, they stepped on our heads with their shoes, so what do you expect us to do? Westerners, therefore, who minister to Muslims must be cognizant of honor-shame dynamics.
Guilt and shame are two different cultural/moral systems
Collectivistic, or group-oriented, cultures use the carrot of honor and the stick of shame to control moral behavior. The community enforces morality externally (hence the importance of relationships and reputation!). When a person is shamed it affects his entire reputation as well as the family at large. Individualistic cultures, primarily located in the West, appeal more to legal notions of right and wrong to govern social behavior. Morality is internalized, so people experience guilt for misdeeds. Guilty persons become innocent when they are forgiven or justice is served.
While shame is more dominant in certain cultures, people in every culture deal with shameâ€”that crippling sense of deficiency, worthlessness, uncleanness and rejection. Ever since the Fall out of Paradise, Â Adam and Eve hid and covered themselves, shame has plagued the entire human family. Many subgroups in America are â€œhonor-shameâ€ orientedâ€”the military, immigrant communities, sports teams, gangs, and junior high young people. Social media (primarily Facebook and Twitter), with its ability to make private information public, are the new domains for shame and status in todayâ€™s culture.
The Bible is essentially an honor-shame book and speaks of sin in terms of shame, failure and dishonor.
The scriptures were written in cultures steeped in honor and shame. They were the pivotal social values for the Ancient Near Eastern culture of the Old Testament, the first-century Judean culture of the Gospels, and the Greco-Roman culture of the early church. Honor is a major theme throughout the entire Bible. In fact, â€œshameâ€ appears twice as often as â€œguilt.â€ Even the book of Romans uses â€œshameâ€ six times, â€œhonorâ€ fifteen times and â€œgloryâ€ twenty times in explaining the Gospel. Hence, we can expect the Bible to speak to the Muslim heart that longs for honor.
God cares about the honor of Muslims more than they do
God wants all people to experience and receive his honor through Jesus Christ who died to remove shame and restore honor. The cross was the ultimate â€œhonor death.â€ People no longer have to â€œmake a name for themselvesâ€ (Gen. 11:4) because God promises to make their names great (Gen. 12:1-3), and â€œWhoever believes in him will not be put to shame (I Pet. 2:6-7). Hence, honor comes to those who believe. When God would ever intervene in human affairs he would removes the shame and restores the honor of his people. He does not just forgive their sins, as shown by the stories of Moses, Joseph, David, Ruth, Job, Esther, Mephibosheth, and Daniel
Sin is not simply breaking a rule or law, but breaking relationship. When Israel failed to keep the Torah, they broke covenant with God and shamed him before the nations (Rom. 2:23). So God spoke of sinful Israel in shameful and shaming termsâ€”harlots and adulterers. Sin shames God and does not give him due honor. It fails to glorify him and belittles his worth. (Rom. 1:21-24; 3:23). Western cultures view shame as a private emotion rooted in psychological insecurities, but shame is ultimately a theologicalâ€“not psychological or culturalâ€“problem. It is rooted in disloyalty and separation from God.
Shame is a major reason why Muslims reject Western Culture.
This plays out in multiple ways. First, the idea of an incarnation is blasphemous, for Muslims say, â€œWhy would God defile himself by becoming a lowly human? The thought of God suffering utter humiliation on the cross and die in agony is repulsive. Muslims reject the cross for reasons of honor and shameâ€“not just on historical grounds. One Muslim put it this way: â€œWe honor (Jesus-Christ) more than you (Christians) do. . . . We refuse to believe God would permit him to suffer death in such a shameful way.â€ Moreover, since conversion shames oneâ€™s family, Muslims often reject Christianity for sociological reasons more than for theological reasons. Leaving Islam is a rejection of family, community and tradition.
Celebrating at the White House, Iftar is the evening meal after sunset that concludes the daily fasting during the month of Ramadan. Muslims who obey Ramadan gather with families, loved ones, and communities to break their fast together. Ramadan should be a time to reflect on humanity and to reaffirm commitments to helping the less fortunate. Unfortunately, Ramadan is also seen as a month where the jihad should be intensified as the rewards in heaven are 70 times greater than outside of Ramadan.
Sharing a meal is a great gesture for friendship and proximity
â€œI have a Muslim neighbor! How can I greet them?â€ The best answer is, â€œEat with them!â€ When Jesus-Christ wanted to honor people he would eat with them (Lk. 15:1). In honor-shame cultures, the people you eat with define both your community and identity. Table fellowship confers honor. This is why hospitality and meals are so significant in Muslim cultures. As a guest, therefore, be sure to graciously accept the honor given by your host. If a meal does not work, then at least arrange to have tea together. Around food and drink, you can sit, relax, and converse with Muslim friends. It is in such a context that cultural differences can be shared and hopefully overcome most effectively.
Is fear of Islam founded?
Genocide of Christians in Iraq
Once again, a violent attack by Muslim extremists astounded the world, they murdered a number of innocent students in Nigeria just because they were attending school and learning what their attackers called evil (haram) Western education! Is this the religion whose prophet allegedly said â€œSeek knowledge from the cradle to the graveâ€? I think the world have seen enough images of atrocities committed under the name of Islam: Blown-up buildings, burning cars, beheading, flogging, arresting innocent people for no reason, butchering of a British soldier in a street of London, Boston bombing, train bombing in Madrid and Brussels, killing indiscriminately at music festivals in Paris and London, the fatal shooting of 13 people by army major Nidal Hassan, public executions in street, death threat against, or assassination of, writers or those who express their opinions just to name a few.
Child soldiers being trained for the worst
One can ask oneself: â€œIs this what Islam is all about?â€
In light of all of these, Muslims, keep telling others how peaceful their religion is which reminds me of that famed Wendyâ€™s â€œwhere is the beefâ€ commercial. Arenâ€™t Muslim influential leaders guilty of implicit complacency by remaining silent and not publically condemning such atrocious acts or taking a firm position against them?
We may not be able to change this madness; at least we can say something about it. The world witnesses great terror but not to speak up is even worse.
Indeed: stopping the victimhood manipulation and working for serious, genuine reform would be a good place to start.
The Shame Culture
Â In 1987, Allan Bloom wrote a book called â€œThe Closing of the American Mind.â€ The core argument was that American campuses were awash in moral relativism. Subjective personal values had replaced universal moral principles. Nothing was either right or wrong. Amid a wave of rampant nonjudgmentalism, life was flatter and emptier.
Bloomâ€™s thesis was accurate at the time, but itâ€™s not accurate anymore. College campuses are today awash in moral judgment and polarization.
Many people then ever before carefully guard their words, afraid they might transgress one of the norms that have come into existence and can even oppose previous held virtues. Those accused of incorrect thought face ruinous consequences. When a moral crusade spreads across campus, like perceived the unclear concept of â€œIslamophobia,â€ many students feel compelled to post in support or against it on Facebook within minutes. If they do not post, they will be noticed and condemned.
Some sort of new moral system is coming into place. Some new criteria now exist, which people use to define correct and incorrect action. The big question is: What is the nature of this new moral system?
Andy Crouch wrote an interesting essay which starts with the distinction the anthropologist Ruth Benedict popularized, between a guilt culture and a shame culture. In a guilt culture you know you are good or bad by what your conscience feels. In a shame culture you know you are good or bad by what your community says about you, by whether it honors or excludes you. In a guilt culture people sometimes feel they do bad things; in a shame culture social exclusion makes people feel they are bad.
Ruth Fulton Benedict (1887-1948) American anthropologist whose theories had a profound influence on cultural anthropology, especially in the area of culture and personality.
Both Crouch and Gorter argue that the current omnipresence of social media has created a new sort of shame culture. The world of Facebook, WeChat, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and the rest is a world of constant display of exhibitionism, narcism and observation. The desire to be embraced and praised by the community is intense. People dread being exiled and condemned. Moral life is not built on the continuum of right and wrong; itâ€™s built on the continuum of inclusion and exclusion; of feeling being honored or dishonored.
This creates a set of common behavior patterns. First, members of a group lavish one another with praise so that they themselves might be accepted and praised in turn: â€œif you scratch my back, I scratch yours.â€
Second, there are nonetheless enforcers within the group who build their personal power and reputation by policing the group and condemning those who break the group code. Social media can be vicious to those who donâ€™t fit in. Twitter can erupt in instant ridicule for anyone who stumbles.
Third, people are extremely anxious that their group might be condemned or denigrated. They demand instant respect and recognition for their group. They feel some moral wrong has been perpetrated when their group has been disrespected, and react with the most violent intensity.
Crouch and Gorter describe how video gamers viciously went after journalists, mostly women, who had criticized the misogyny of their games. Campus controversies get so hot so fast because even a minor slight to a group is perceived as a basic identity threat. Examples are the organized boycott and disruption of speakers or university lecturers by organized blocking any discourse between people with different opinions, including physical violence and attempts to silence opponents by offering poisoned beverages.
The ultimate sin today, Crouch and Gorter argue, is to criticize a group, especially on moral grounds. Talk of good and bad has to defer to talk about respect and recognition (=honor). Talk of right and wrong is troubling when it is accompanied by seeming indifference to the experience of shame that accompanies judgments of â€œimmorality and a-morality.â€
Both authors note that this shame culture is different from the traditional shame cultures, the ones in Asia, for example. In traditional shame cultures the opposite of shame was honor or â€œfaceâ€ â€” being known as a dignified and upstanding citizen. In the new shame culture, the opposite of shame is celebrity â€” to be attention-grabbing and aggressively unique on some media platform.
On the positive side, this new shame culture might improve the social and communal fabric. It might reverse, a bit, the individualistic, atomizing thrust of the past 50 years.
On the other hand, everybody is perpetually insecure in a moral system based on inclusion and exclusion. There are no permanent standards, just the shifting judgment of the crowd. It is a culture of oversensitivity, overreaction and frequent moral panics, during which everybody feels compelled to go along or being ignored or condemned.
If we are going to avoid a constant state of anxiety, peopleâ€™s identities have to be based on standards of justice and virtue that are deeper and more permanent than the shifting fancy of the crowd. In an era of omnipresent social media, itâ€™s probably doubly important to discover and name your own personal True North, vision of an ultimate good, which is worth defending even at the cost of unpopularity and exclusion.
The guilt culture could be harsh, but at least you could hate the sin and still love the sinner. The modern shame culture allegedly values inclusion and tolerance, but it can be strangely unmerciful to those who disagree and to those who donâ€™t fit in. A good example is the vague concept of â€œIslamophobia.â€
Eric Hoffer: â€œA just society must strive with all its might to right wrongs even if righting wrongs is a highly perilous undertaking. But if it is to survive, a just society must be strong and resolute enough to deal swiftly and relentlessly with those who would mistake its good will for weakness.â€
A shame culture, as the dictionary defines it, involves a society putting â€œhigh emphasis on preserving honorâ€ and not being publicly disgraced.â€ People conform to societal norms, independent form the fact that those norms may be just social customs having little to do with ethics, for the mere fear of being shamed or dishonored publicly; re being (severely) punished (like under Sharia law).
In contrast to that we have a guilt culture which the dictionary defines as â€œthe internalization of a moral code.â€ This conformity to a moral code occurs through the free will of man rather than by the public approval of society.
For example, in Homerâ€™s epic â€œThe Iliad,â€ what is most valued is honor. To obtain it and the honor that goes with it one must do glorious deeds (such as fighting as a great warrior would), or, more intellectually, be a great orator, speaking well in the assembly and being highly skilled with words; or being a great philosopher like Socrates or Plato or Aristotle. Thus, one acquires goods and rewards that publicly signify and represent the honor conferred: medals, certificates, diplomas, honorary titles, etc., attesting to the merits and the superiority of one individual man over another.
In contrast, we can observe that in â€œThe Histories of Herodotusâ€ the social world is less dominated by aspects of shame; more emphasis is placed on guilt. Instead of being publicly shamed into following certain social norms, the individual compels a code of conduct or morality on himself, motivated by the guilt he feels for not observing societyâ€™s condoned behaviors. He may even observe such a code even where he is living in isolation from any kind of organized governed society, even absent punishments by the police, the justice system or aa religious codex for infractions of the law.
This difference can even be easily observed in the depictions of the gods within those two disparate societies: one based on shame and honor, the other based on guilt and duty to oneself and oneâ€™s human nature. For example, in Homerâ€™s Iliad the gods are present everywhere anthropomorphically, with all the weaknesses and defects of men, to be sure, albeit their powers and virtues are superior to man, idealized, so to speak. Itâ€™s the modern Nietzchean â€œUbermenschâ€ or the Freudian â€œSuperegoâ€ being actualized mythically and poetically. The gods are almost â€œbeyond good and evil,â€ above moral norms, transcending mere human customs and behavior. Hence the famous Platonic question: are the gods good because they observe the law, or are they good because they are above the law; are they obliged by the law and morality as humans are? But in Herodotusâ€™ Histories, the gods appear very rarely and, rather than being depicted as humans with extraordinary superpowers, are strangely portrayed in ways that would suggest human behavioral norms.
Giambattista Vico (1668-1744) was an Italian political philosopher and rhetorician, historian and jurist, of the Age of Enlightenment. He criticized the expansion and development of modern rationalism, was an apologist for Classical Antiquity, a precursor of systematic and complex thought, in opposition to Cartesian analysis and other types of reductionism, and was the first expositor of the fundamentals of social science and of semiotics.
Jumping now to modern times, Giambattista Vico in his â€œNew Scienceâ€ (1725) teaches us that a sign of a decaying civilization is the degradation and impoverishment of language, language being a sine qua non of any sort of civilization and indeed an integral part of being human. But there are two other important characteristics which are also part of human nature: the ability to laugh (Irony) and the ability to feel shame. Here too, when those two characteristics wane, so does civilization.
We would like to reflect briefly on the latter within the context of our present cultural predicaments. The initial inquiry is this: is shame natural to man or is it something acquired with culture? The answer to that question is crucial since it determines whether or not it is shamelessness that is the acquired trait. To put it another way: could it be that the beauty that we humans are capable of as we live with each other derives from the fact that man is naturally a blushing creature; the only creature in fact capable of blushing?
Plato for one, saw a connection between self-restraint (Self-control) and self-government or democracy, and therefore he saw a political danger in promoting the fullest self-expression or indulgence. That may explain his suspicions of artists in general. For Plato, to live together requires rules and a governing of the passions. Those who live without shame are unruly and unrulable. That is to say, they have lost the ability to restrain themselves by the observation of the rules they collectively have given themselves. One can easily extrapolate from The Republic that tyranny is the natural mode of government for the shameless and the self-indulgent; the government of those who have carried liberty beyond any sort of restraint, be it natural or conventional.
What the ancient Greeks were saying basically, was that democracy, more than any other form of government requires self-restraint to be inculcated through moral education and imposed through laws. Those laws include the manner of public amusement. Indeed, it would be enough to think of Rome under such tyrannical emperors as Caligula or Nero. Those emperors allowed the people to freely indulge themselves with bread and circus, for indulgence did not threaten their rule which did not depend on citizens of good character. The formula is here inverted: the more debased the citizenry, the more they are distracted by pleasurable activities, the safer the tyrantâ€™s rule is.
And here we come to what is obscene and offensive. What are we to make of the obscenity employed by some of the greatest of our poets or musicians, the likes of Aristophanes, Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare and Swift, Or Mozart for that matter, never mind the Marquis de Sade, just to mention a few. They wrote a good deal of obscenity. How do we account for that? Aristotle in his Poetics hints at a plausible answer: comedy makes us laugh at what is ludicrous in ugliness, and its purpose is to teach, just as tragedy teaches by making us cry before what is destructive in nobility. For Aristotle, they are equally serious and Shakespeare would agree, for he was both a comic and a tragic poet. Which is not to imply that both Aristotle and Shakespeare were unable to discern the emperor wearing no clothes, and performing unnatural acts to boot. Nowadays we have an emperor who goes around naked of any moral sensibilities but want us to believe that he is wearing splendid clothes. A few people, the more courageous among us, like the little boy in the fairy tale, have dare to yell â€œthe emperor is naked,â€
What artists such as Mapplethorpe have attempted in the brave new world of present day Western civilization is to aestheticize the obscene by deliberately choosing subjects that shock the normal sense of decency. Those artists count on and exploit a dual reaction: to create tension in the viewer so that what is indecent and immoral becomes beautiful and therefore especially disturbing. The pretension is that the emperor is not naked, that obscenity is not there; that it resides only in the dirty minds of the viewers who are unable to appreciate beauty. What those artists are doing in effect is to deny the viewers their right to be shocked when they try hard to do exactly that. Itâ€™s having the cake and eating it too.
The â€œenlightenedâ€ modern art connoisseur and practitioner will of course retort: but this is art and art is free of any constraints! Indeed, it is but let us be honest with ourselves and admit that indeed great art may be used immorally for the furtherance of an ideology or for propaganda purposes (remember the film about â€œHitler Triumph of the Willâ€?), just as a saint may produce banal art, for as Emmanuel Kant has taught us in his Critique of Judgment there is no strict nexus between the moral and the aesthetic and there is no need for morality to slavishly submit to the claims of Art. The public ought to remain free to subsidize or not to subsidize those â€œenlightenedâ€ modern artist without being branded â€œcultural philistinesâ€ by those who think that anything goes in art.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 -1832): â€œTrue works of art are a manifestation of the higher laws of nature and its beauty is everywhere a welcome guest.â€
The ancient Greeks were also aware that those aspects of the soul that makes man truly human require political life. Manâ€™s virtues and their counterparts, manâ€™s vices, require that he be governed and to govern. But the poet knows with Rousseau and the romantics that there is a beauty beyond the polity, the beauty of the natural order. The world of convention is not the only world. Here obscenity may play a part. Obscenity can indeed be used to ridicule the conventional. In the hands of a poet, obscenity can serve to elevate above the conventional order in which most of us are forced to live our mundane lives full of quiet desperation; lives who never dare ask that dreadful existential question: what is the point of it all, which the Greeks rendered with one word: the Logos. Which is to say, in the hands of a poet, obscenityâ€™s purpose becomes that of teaching what is truly beautiful, not what convention holds to be beautiful.
How to express a distinction between the justified and the unjustified use of obscenity in a rule of law is easier said than done. Certainly children are not capable of the distinction they cannot grasp irony, and need to be protected. One thing is sure though, there are dire consequences resulting from the inability to distinguish between the proper and the improper use of obscenity. When the distinction is forgotten, when we conclude that shame itself is unnatural, that we must get rid of our hang ups and give up the conventions devised by hypocrites, that there are no judgments to be made, that nothing that is appropriate in one place is inappropriate in another place (for just as a dog is not prevented from copulating in the market place, so it is unnatural to deprive men of the same pleasure were it only that of the voyeur in a theater) we will then also have forgotten the distinction between art (with its beauty) and trash; that is to say, we will have made ourselves shameless.
â€œUnless a man has talents to make something of him, freedom is an irksome burden. Of what avail is freedom to choose if the self be ineffectual? We join a mass movement to escape individual responsibility, or, in the words of the ardent young Nazi, “to be free from freedom.”
â€œPeople who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them.â€
â€œRudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.â€
â€œThose who see their lives as spoiled and wasted crave equality and fraternity more than they do freedom. If they clamor for freedom, it is but freedom to establish equality and uniformity. The passion for equality is partly a passion for anonymity: to be one thread of the many which make up a tunic; one thread not distinguishable from the others. No one can then point us out, measure us against others and expose our inferiority.â€
â€œThey who clamor loudest for freedom are often the ones least likely to be happy in a free society. The frustrated, oppressed by their shortcomings, blame their failure on existing restraints. Actually, their innermost desire is for an end to the “free for all.” They want to eliminate free competition and the ruthless testing to which the individual is continually subjected in a free society.â€
â€œPower corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many. . . . The resentment of the weak does not spring from any injustice done to them but from the sense of their inadequacy and impotence. They hate not wickedness but weakness. When it is in their power to do so, the weak destroy weakness wherever they see it.â€
â€œSelf-righteousness is a loud din raised to drown the voice of guilt within us.â€
â€œThe monstrous evils of the twentieth century have shown us that the greediest money grubbers are gentle doves compared with money-hating wolves like Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler, who in less than three decades killed or maimed nearly a hundred million men, women, and children and brought untold suffering to a large portion of mankind.â€
Â â€œA fateful process is set in motion when the individual is released “to the freedom of his own impotence” and left to justify his existence by his own efforts. The autonomous individual, striving to realize himself and prove his worth, has created all that is great in literature, art, music, architecture, sports, science and technology. The autonomous individual, also, when he can neither realize himself nor justify his existence by his own efforts, is a breeding call of frustration, and the seed of the convulsions which shake our world to its foundations. The individual on his own is stable only so long as he is possessed of self-esteem. The maintenance of self-esteem is a continuous task which taxes all of the individual’s powers and inner resources. We have to prove our worth and justify our existence anew each day. When, for whatever reason, self-esteem is unattainable, the autonomous individual becomes a highly explosive entity. He turns away from an unpromising self and plunges into the pursuit of pride — the explosive substitute for self-esteem. All social disturbances and upheavals have their roots in crises of individual self-esteem, and the great endeavor in which the masses most readily unite is basically a search for pride.â€
â€œTo find the cause of our ills in something outside ourselves, something specific that can be spotted and eliminated, is a diagnosis that cannot fail to appeal. To say that the cause of our troubles is not in us but in the infidels, and pass immediately to the extermination of the infidels, is a prescription likely to find a wide acceptance.â€
â€œIt is said that power corrupts. But it is perhaps equally important to realize that weakness, too, corrupts. Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many. Hatred, malice, rudeness, intolerance, and suspicion are the faults of weakness. The resentment of the weak does not spring from any injustice done to them but from the sense of inadequacy and impotence. We cannot win the weak by sharing our wealth with them. They feel our generosity as oppression. St. Vincent De Paul cautioned his disciples to deport themselves so that the poor “will forgive them the bread you give them.”
â€œThe unavoidable conclusion is that the unprecedented meekness of the majority is responsible for the increase in violence. Social stability is the product of equilibrium between a vigorous majority and violent minorities. Disorder does not come from an increased inner pressure or from the interaction of explosive ingredients. There is no reason to believe that the nature of the violent minorities is now greatly different from what it was in the past. What has changed is the will and ability of the majority to react.â€
â€œIt is hard to tell what causes the pervasive timidity. One thinks of video-induced stupor, intake of tranquilizers, fear of not living to enjoy the many new possessions and toys, the example of our betters in cities and on campuses who high-mindedly surrender to threats of violence and make cowardice fashionable.â€
â€œPride (honor) is a sense of worth derived from something that is not organically part of us, while self-esteem derives from the potentialities and achievements of the self. We are proud when we identify ourselves with an imaginary self, a leader, a holy cause, a collective body or possessions. There is fear and intolerance in pride; it is sensitive and uncompromising. The less promise and potency in the self, the more imperative is the need for pride. The core of pride is self-rejection.â€ It is true that when pride releases energies and serves as a spur to achievement, it can lead to a reconciliation with the self and the attainment of genuine self-esteem.â€
The central task of education is to implant a will to create and self-control, and a facility for learning; it should produce not learned but learning people. The truly human society is a learning society, where grandparents, parents, and children are students together. Like individuals, cultures should be ever evolving and an absolute â€œDevineâ€ law (Sharia) given for ever leads to the opposite.â€
â€œIn a time of drastic change the learners inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.â€
â€œThe hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.â€
â€œWhat monstrosities would walk the streets were some people’s faces as unfinished as their minds.â€
â€œCollective unity is not the result of the brotherly love of the faithful for each other. The loyalty of the true believer is to the whole â€” the church, party, nation â€” and not to his fellow true believer. True loyalty between individuals is possible only in a loose and relatively free society.â€
â€œIt is easier to love humanity as a whole than to love one’s neighbor. There may even be a certain antagonism between love of humanity and love of neighbor; a low capacity for getting along with those near us often goes hand in hand with a high receptivity to the idea of the brotherhood of men. About a hundred years ago a Russian landowner by the name of Petrashevsky recorded a remarkable conclusion: “Finding nothing worthy of my attachment either among women or among men, I have vowed myself to the service of mankind.” He became a follower of Fourier, and installed a phalanstery on his estate. The end of the experiment was sad, but what one might perhaps have expected: the peasants (Petrashevsky’s neighbors) burned the phalanstery.â€
â€œSome of the worst tyrannies of our day genuinely are ‘vowed’ to the service of mankind, yet can function only by pitting neighbor against neighbor. The all-seeing eye of a totalitarian regime is usually the watchful eye of the next-door neighbor. In a Communist state, the love of oneâ€™s neighbor may be classed as counter-revolutionary.â€
â€œNature has no compassion and accepts no excuses and the only punishment it knows is illness and death.â€
â€œWe lie loudest when we lie to ourselves.â€
â€œThe education explosion is producing a vast number of people who want to live significant, important lives but lack the ability to satisfy this craving for importance by individual achievement. Currently, we are being swamped with nobodies who want to be somebodies.â€
â€œThe weakness of a soul is proportionate to the number of truths that must be kept from it.â€
â€œHow much easier is self-sacrifice than self-realization!â€
â€œThe less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.â€
â€œObviously, what our age has in common with the age of the Reformation is the fallout of disintegrating values. What needs explaining is the presence of a receptive audience. More significant than the fact that poets write abstrusely, painters paint abstractly, and composers compose unintelligible music is that people should admire what they cannot understand; indeed, admire that which has no meaning or principle (yet).â€
â€œWe all have private ails. The troublemakers are they who need public cures for their private ails.â€
Mr. Sennels can be contacted at: email@example.com.
Nancy Kobrin is a psychoanalyst with a clinical specialty in trauma. Her Ph.D. is in romance and semitic languages, specializing in AljamÃa, Old Spanish in Arabic script. She did a two volume dissertation on Ahadith Musa. She began to study the perpetrators of terrorist attacks in the early 80s as the truck bombs went off in Lebanon. Residing in Minnesota for many years she was asked to teach Radical Islam to the Sheriff’s Deputies of Hennepin County. She is an expert on the Minnesota Somali diaspora and a graduate of the Human Terrain System program at Leavenworth Kansas and was slated to go into Helmand Province. Her new book is â€œThe Banality of Suicide Terrorism: The Naked Truth About the Psychology of Islamic Suicide Bombing.â€
Eric Hoffer (1898-1983) was an American moral and social philosopher. He was the author of ten books and was awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983
Former migratory worker and longshoreman, Eric Hoffer burst on the scene in 1951 with his irreplaceable tome, The True Believer, and assured his place among the most important thinkers of the twentieth century. Nine books later, Hoffer remains a vital figure with his cogent insights to the nature of mass movements and the essence of humankind.
Of his early life, Hoffer has written: â€œI had no schooling. I was practically blind up to the age of fifteen. When my eyesight came back, I was seized with an enormous hunger for the printed word. I read indiscriminately everything within reachâ€”English and German.
â€œWhen my father (a cabinetmaker) died, I realized that I would have to fend for myself. I knew several things: One, that I didnâ€™t want to work in a factory; two, that I couldnâ€™t stand being dependent on the good graces of a boss; three, that I was going to stay poor; four, that I had to get out of New York. Logic told me that California was the poor manâ€™s country.â€
Through ten years as a migratory worker and as a gold-miner around Nevada City, Hoffer labored hard but continued to read and write during the years of the Great Depression. The Okies and the Arkies were the â€œnew pioneers,â€ and Hoffer was one of them. He had library cards in a dozen towns along the railroad, and when he could afford it, he took a room near a library for concentrated thinking and writing.
In 1943, Hoffer chose the longshoremanâ€™s life and settled in California. Eventually, he worked three days each week and spent one day as â€œresearch professorâ€ at the University of California in Berkeley. In 1964, he was the subject of twelve half-hour programs on national television. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983.
Arnold Eric Sevareid (1912-1992) was an American author and CBS news journalist from 1939 to 1977. He was one of a group of elite war correspondents hired by pioneering CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow, and thus dubbed “Murrow’s Boys”. He was the first to report the fall of Paris when it was captured by the Germans during World War II. Traveling into Burma during World War II, his aircraft was shot down and he was rescued from behind enemy lines. After a long and distinguished career, he followed in Murrow’s footsteps as a commentator on the CBS Evening News for 12 years for which he was recognized with Emmy and Peabody Awards.
“America meant freedom and what is freedom? To Hoffer, it is the capacity to feel like oneself. He felt like Eric Hoffer; sometimes like Eric Hoffer, working man. It could be said, I believe, that he as the first important American writer, working-class born, who remained working class-in his habits, associations, environment. I cannot think of another. Therefore, he was a national resource. The only one of its kind in the nationâ€™s possession.â€ – Eric Sevareid, from his dedication speech to Eric Hoffer, San Francisco, CA, September 17, 1985