by ANDREW C. MCCARTHY
The tumult indelibly dubbed “the Arab Spring” in the West, by the credulous and the calculating alike, is easier to understand once you grasp two basics. First, the most important fact in the Arab world — as well as in Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other neighboring non-Arab territories — is Islam. It is not poverty, illiteracy, or the lack of modern democratic institutions. These, like anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, and an insular propensity to buy into conspiracy theories featuring infidel villains, are effects of Islam’s regional hegemony and supremacist tendency, not causes of it. One need not be led to that which pervades the air one breathes.
The second fact is that Islam constitutes a distinct civilization. It is not merely an exotic splash on the gorgeous global mosaic with a few embarrassing cultural eccentricities; it is an entirely different way of looking at the world. We struggle with this truth, which defies our end-of-history smugness. Enthralled by diversity for its own sake, we have lost the capacity to comprehend a civilization whose idea of diversity is coercing diverse peoples into obedience to its evolution-resistant norms.
So we set about remaking Islam in our own progressive image: the noble, fundamentally tolerant Religion of Peace. We miniaturize the elements of the ummah (the notional global Muslim community) that refuse to go along with the program: They are assigned labels that scream “fringe!” — Islamist, fundamentalist, Salafist, Wahhabist, radical, jihadist, extremist, militant, or, of course, “conservative” Muslims adhering to “political Islam.”
We consequently pretend that Muslims who accurately invoke Islamic scripture in the course of forcibly imposing the dictates of classical sharia — the Islamic legal and political system — are engaged in “anti-Islamic activity,” as Britain’s former home secretary Jacqui Smith memorably put it. When the ongoing Islamization campaign is advanced by violence, as inevitably happens, we absurdly insist that this aggression cannot have been ideologically driven, that surely some American policy or Israeli act of self-defense is to blame, as if these could possibly provide rationales for the murderous jihad waged by Boko Haram Muslims against Nigerian Christians and by Egyptian Muslims against the Copts, the persecution of the Ahmadi sect by Indonesian and Pakistani Muslims, or the internecine killing in Iraq of Sunnis by Shiites and vice versa — a tradition nearly as old as Islam itself — which has been predictably renewed upon the recent departure of American troops.
The main lesson of the Arab Spring ought to be that this remaking of Islam has happened only in our own minds, for our own consumption. The Muslims of the Middle East take no note of our reimagining of Islam, being, in the main, either hostile toward or oblivious to Western overtures. Muslims do not measure themselves against Western perceptions, although the shrewdest among them take note of our eagerly accommodating attitude when determining what tactics will best advance the cause.
That cause is nothing less than Islamic dominance….
….Led by the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic parties have become expert at presenting themselves as moderates and telling the West what it wants to hear while they gradually ensnare societies in the sharia web, as slowly or quickly as conditions on the ground permit. They know that when the West says “democracy,” it means popular elections, not Western democratic culture. They know the West has so glorified these elections that the victors can steal them (Iran), refuse to relinquish power when later they lose (Iraq), or decline to hold further elections (Gaza) without forfeiting their legitimacy. They know that seizing the mantle of “democracy” casts Islamists as the West’s heroes in the dramas still unfolding in Egypt, Libya, and Syria. They know that the Obama administration and the European Union have deluded themselves into believing that Islamists will be tamed by the responsibilities of governance. Once in power, they are sure to make virulent anti-Americanism their official policy and to contribute materially to the pan-Islamic goal of destroying Israel.
We should not be under any illusions about why things are shaking out this way. The Arab Spring has not been hijacked any more than Islam was hijacked by the suicide terrorists of 9/11. Islam is ascendant because that is the way Muslims of the Middle East want it.