Violence begins with grievance. Grievance is the pretext for violence and the narrative for the violence. Liberals make a fetish of separating the grievance from the violence, emphasizing constructive means of resolving the grievance. But what do you do when the grievance and the violence are inseparable?
Grievance is the stories that Muslims tell themselves to justify their violence. To explain why they kill children and why they murder the innocent. The list of grievances is an endless as the violence. Every act of violence carries its own narrative. The endless Muslim conflicts throughout the world all carry their burden of history. But it isn’t a history that can be resolved with a tolerance session.
Muslim grievances are the frustration of conquerors, the broken teeth of predators who weren’t allowed to feed on the world until their stomachs burst. All the lands they couldn’t conqueror, the peoples who rebelled against their rule, the inferior civilizations that pushed them back and drove them off. The swine who build skyscrapers and enjoy the fine things in life.
The civil rights model of social conflict resolution accepts grievances as legitimate and then tries to ‘heal’ through them through social justice. And when that model is applied to Muslims, it turns into empty appeasement because the conflicts at the heart of Muslim violence cannot be resolved through integration or representation. Applying the word “justice” in any form to a conflict involving Muslims is wasted ink.
The problem begins with a clash of definitions. To a citizen of a secular Western state, “injustice” means a lack of representation. To a Muslim, “injustice” means a lack of Islamic jurisprudence. A Non-Muslim state is always unjust simply because it is not ruled by Islamic law.
The fundamental Muslim grievance is that they are not in power, not just in Israel where the world has accepted their demand to be in power as a wholly moral and legitimate demand, or throughout the Muslim world where Western governments have helped bring the Islamists to power with bombs and political pressure. The fundamental grievance is that they are not in power… everywhere.
If you believe that Islam is the fundamental law of mankind, that all mankind at one time were Muslims and that there is no true justice except through Islamic law– then it follows naturally that Muslims have been cheated of their rightful power, that they are forced to live under “atheistic” regimes and that “justice” demands that the world “revert” to Islamic rule.
It’s why the rhetoric of democracy falls notoriously flat when it comes to Islam. Muslims are not out for representation except as a preliminary stage to absolute power. They may route the guardianship of that absolute power power in various ways, through a dictator or some form of popular democracy, but these are only vehicles for the imposition of Islamic law.
The absolute power of Islamic law is justified by its origin in Allah and the unjust nature of non-Muslim law is equally proven by its lack of divine origin. If you take Islamic assumptions at face value, then this makes perfect sense. Therefore a devout Muslim cannot view a non-Muslim society as just. Equating an infidel code with Sharia is blasphemy. And so the logic of Islam dictates that Western Muslims must view themselves as oppressed.
Like the struggle with the left, this is a clash between the ideal and the real. Totalitarian idealists are always outraged because compared to their ideal every system is rotten, corrupt and unjust. Whether it’s the ideal of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat or the Guardianship of the Jurists, it all comes down to the tyranny of the ideal against the immorality of the real. The representational compromises that make the modern Republic work are anathema to people who believe that they have the perfect system which will be absolutely just… because it is perfect.
Muslim grievances justify endless war against the real, in the name of the ideal, without ever having to deal with the shortcomings of the ideal. The collectivism of the ideal disdains the individual except as a foot soldier, a martyr in bringing about the ideal. The infidels are unworthy of life because they are immersed in the grossness of the real. And the suicide bomber rejects the real for the ideal by disdaining his own life, much as he disdains the despised earthly women, but the demon virgins of paradise who represent another ideal.
The common denominator of the cartoon controversies, Muslim wars around the world and just about every other grievance, from their claim to Spain to their demand for more mosques, is an insistence on power at the expense of others. Everyone has to keep paying a price for Muslim grievance– either in rights and freedoms, or in blood.
Muslim violence is already a self-perpetuating grievance engine. If Muslims win a war, then they’re heroes. If they lose a war, then they were betrayed, undermined from within and had what was theirs stolen from them. The grudges will fester for a thousand years and touch off endless wars until they get what they want or they lose the ability to fight those wars.
The purpose of war is conquest. Islam treats Muslim conquest as a form of justice. A failed conquest is an injustice. Try applying social justice to a mindset like that and what you’re left with is Europe today.
Since no Muslim should ever have to live under the unjust rule of infidels, there is always a cause for war and a fifth column waiting to rise up and demand their right to rule over everyone else. And the war is endless– its origins written in blood on the pages of Islamic scripture.
Innocence is the root of grievance, the “I was minding my own business until he came up and hit me and then I had to burn his village, rape his daughters and spend a thousand years enslaving his descendants” narrative of Islam. First comes the innocence and then comes the genocide.
Legitimizing Muslim grievance means accepting their narrative of innocence. Their “I was minding my own business until this cartoon offended me, until I was hauled off to Gitmo for absolutely no reason, until people give me dirty looks on the street for absolutely no reason and then I just had to kill as many of them as I could” narrative.
That narrative of innocence is a lie. People are not innocent, and the conquerors and oppressors of much of the world are certainly a long way from innocent. Historical Islam was a brutal conquering ideology that fed off blood and human misery. No amount of revisionist history will make that go away and the revisionist history is a disgusting insult to the millions killed and the cultures wiped out for the greater glory of Islam.
A religion that has never stopped practicing genocide, slavery and repression as religious mandates is the worst positioned to act out the charade of innocence, to pretend that everything was fine until the Ottoman Empire fell and the British and French colonialists replaced the Muslim colonialists and gave the local minorities civil rights instead of a spiked boot in the face.
Legitimizing Islamic grievance is dangerous not only because it feeds the self-righteous violence of Muslims, but because it convinces well-meaning Westerners that maybe they have a point. Once we accept the grievance, then it becomes hard to resist the violence, except by calling for more peaceful means of resolution. And if those peaceful means of resolution fail… then the violence is justified.
The Israeli peace process is a case study of how this process operates, how the legitimization of Muslim grievance comes to justify its violence, and how its own obstruction of negotiations disproves the peaceful means of resolution, which then doubly justifies the violence.
Rejecting the grievance also rejects the violence, it prevents the narrative from getting its foot in the door, the mosquito whine that pitifully pleads even as it’s sinking its stinger into your neck. Fighting that narrative requires pulling back to see the sweep of history, the conquering armies of the Caliphs bringing slavery, destroying cultures, burning books and oppressing millions. And it requires that we see history repeating itself again.
Grievance was at the root of Mohammed’s conquests. His “I was minding my own business, preaching a totalitarian ideology that said non-Muslims are inferior dogs when someone made fun of me, so of course I had them killed and fought a war and enslaved their descendants for all time” narrative. Poor innocent me.
Muslims must believe themselves to be moral, or accept that they are mass murderers fighting wars and destroying civilizations. And they need us to accept their narrative, to view them as moral actors resisting oppression and injustice– rather than monsters spreading pain, hate and fear in formerly peaceful places. While we may not be able to prevent them from believing their lies, accepting their lies deludes us and them… and directly feeds violence.
When Americans keep repeating that Islamophobia is a major problem, Muslims treat this as an admission of guilt and a justification for violence. When Europeans accept that freedom of speech should take a back seat to Muslim sensitivities, then Muslims hold it up as proof that they don’t really believe in freedom of speech and that those who insist on it are not following principles, but are deliberately agitating against Muslims.
Everyone who shouts “Blood for Oil”, denounces Gitmo, rants about Israeli occupation and all the rest of it is legitimizing Muslim violence, whether or not they mean to do so. And when they perpetuate a myth of Islamic innocence, they are denying Muslims the opportunity to make a moral reckoning without which they cannot improve or change.
Wars begin as stories and end as stories. The Muslims have been telling their story for a long time. And these days we’re telling their story too.