American Views On Islam: Ignorance Is Bliss

Why are people's views about Islam so screwed up ? Mostly because the only things they know about it tend to be the worst possible aspects of all.

Joel Achenbach has a post up today lamenting the latest manifestations of what you can only call public stupidity:

God help us. Could so many Americans really be that dumb, ill-informed, paranoid, gullible and goofy? It must be tricky being Barack Obama, winding down the U.S. presence in volatile Iraq, trying to keep Afghanistan from degenerating, pondering war with Iran, even as, according to the latest bulletin, one in five Americans thinks he is a Muslim.

Why not just believe he’s an alien from outer space? Or a Manchurian Candidate, programmed by, say, the Chinese to bring America to ruin?

Crazy times.

It’s also dismaying that so many Americans are opposed to the mosque near Ground Zero. In America you can worship wherever you want, regardless of religious belief. We protect religious minorities here. This isn’t merely the law: It’s a core value. This goes back to the Pilgrims, I seem to recall. The backers of the mosques are the good guys, the ones who preach tolerance. There should be no hedging on this at all from American leaders: If we can’t allow a mosque in lower Manhattan we might as well close shop for good and turn out the lights.

(…)

What this shows is that disinformation remains powerful and infectious, and that large elements of the country distrust the official story about anything. People assume, as the starting point on any issue, that they’re being lied to. Maybe they want to believe that because it offers an explanation, of sorts, for why the world isn’t the way we think it ought to be.

I think there’s a fairly simple explanation for all of this. It’s not merely Fox News/Limbaugh/Hannity/Beck brainwashing. It’s not necessarily racism or bigotry. It’s comes down to the simple fact that people tend to think the worst about things they’re unfamiliar with.

As I noted yesterday, for example, most Americans tell pollsters that they do not know any Muslims personally. At the same time, though, the same polls show that most Americans think they are at least somewhat knowledgeable about Islam:

Where are people getting this knowledge about Islam if they don’t know any Muslims ? Well, obviously, from the same talking head news culture that creates the culture of demonization. If you were to base your opinion on Islam solely on what is portrayed on Fox News and on radio shows hosted by people like Sean Hannity, then it’s not surprising that you’d be opposed to not just to construction of a community center and mosque in Lower Manhattan, but any mosque anywhere. It is, quite simply, ignorance fueled by demonization. I would submit that if some of these people had actual Muslim neighbors or co-workers, their opinions about the religion, and the rights of its adherents, would be much, much different.

And that, I think, is part of the problem that Muslims in America face. They are a very small part of the population — somewhere between 1.3 million and 7 million people depending on whose numbers you go by — but they are part of a religion of 1.6 billion people worldwide that is, because of it’s radical elements, suspicious to some people. It’s a PR problem, but one made more difficult by the fact that it’s very unlikely that most Americans will know much about Islam other than what they see on television from the Middle East, and most of that, quite honestly, isn’t very good (which is, incidentally, why many of the Muslims in America are here rather than there).  When it comes to Islam, Americans suffer from a lack of knowledge about everything other than it’s most extreme and radical elements, and until that changes I’m afraid that the public’s attitudes about Islam are going to remain as negative as they are today.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Islam, Politicians, Religion, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Brummagem Joe says:

    I thought ignorance was bliss was the majority American reaction to most issues that can’t be explained in 30 seconds.

  2. Yea you do have a point there

  3. Franklin says:

    Wait, wait, I’ll make the popcorn and then we can all sit down to hear Zels share his ignorance knowledge of Islam with us.

  4. I’ll save Zels the trouble: Doug, are you an American? Are you, or have you ever been, a member of al Qaeda and/or the Communist Party?

  5. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    “In America you can worship wherever you want, regardless of religious belief. We protect religious minorities here.”

    Really! Since when? Ask Glenn Beck about saying a prayer during his upcoming 8/28 event. Ask the Christians who were arrested on the streets of Detroit for passing out literature during a Muslim gathering. Ask the high school football teams who are prevented from saying a team prayer before a game. Need I go on?

    Mr. Achenbach criticizes ordinary Americans for their ignorance while displaying glowing ignorance of his own at the same time.

    And for all those who want to attack my comment I will state that I have an extensive knowledge of Muslims after having lived in the Middle East for 25 years.

  6. Herb says:

    “Need I go on? ”

    Please do. I love hearing about how Christians are discriminated against.

  7. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Taylor, do you understand what the letters FOAD stand for? Looks like I am not the only one here who thinks you and Mataconis are ignorant SOBs who take a stand against both popular opinion and what appears to be right by a majority of Americans. I do not know where you get the idea you know better than the rest of us your opinion is valuable. You cowards choose to hang out here where you have a platform to espouse your tripe. If you had balls, you would post your BS at sites where your educational equals would destroy you. If you knew anywhere near what you claim to know, you would open some enlightened site where you and your ilk could be alone with the BS you spead. When you are called on it, you mock those who try to enlighten you. I am both older and I suspect wiser than either of you two. I could be wrong, but there is no evidence presented here from any but left wing lops such as yourselves to indicated such.

    Patrick McGuire plainly states what has escaped both the author of the quoted article, Dougie, and you Steven. You must have gotten your degrees in a crackerjack box.

  8. Rock says:

    Everything I needed to know about Islam and Muslims became crystal clear to me on September 11th, 2001. My opinion has been reinforced almost daily sinus then. The latest example was the poor woman who had her nose chopped off for infidelity who was on the cover of Time Magazine.

  9. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Herb, go to the middle east, if you have the balls. How many Christian chruches are there in Saudi Arabia? Need some time to find out? Let me help. Zero. How many Christians are allowed to visit Mecca an Medina? Take your time on this one. Once again zero. Funny how you lefties will argue for Muslim rights yet howl when Christians ask for the same respect. Do you know, Herb, Muslims in Muslim nations would eliminate you in a most violent fashion? It is what they plan to do here too, just that they do not have the numbers to do it yet. That, unless you convert, or rather accept Allah as I am sure you have no faith except that of an Obama worshipper.

  10. Rock says:

    oops!

    My opinion has been reinforced almost daily since then.

  11. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Rock, don’t forget. In the 1600’s Christians burnt witches. But that has been a while. Still, you know they want to. Salvation Army, a Christian organization helps alcoholics and addicts. Muslims have a different way of helping.

  12. Tano says:

    “And for all those who want to attack my comment I will state that I have an extensive knowledge of Muslims after having lived in the Middle East for 25 years.”

    Huh? Nothing about your comment referred to Muslims or the Middle East. It was just an absurd whine about how Christians are supposedly victims of something or other, here in the US.

  13. So far, the comments from certain people — Hi there Zels and Rock ! — just seems to reinforce my conclusion……

    Also, I think it’s important to distinguish between practices that are part of the religion of Islam and practices that are based in Arab, African, or Afghan culture and which pre-date the introduction of Islam

  14. mpw280 says:

    American ignorance might be due to the poor job the “moderate” muslims do in portraying their religion as a religion and not a cult of death dealers. When the only thing you hear about the religion is that some percent (not that small either) believes in killing others because they aren’t muslim then you will have a distorted view of the religion won’t you. When you see the Somali muslims in Minnesota going and joining up in jihadi groups and muslims in the Detroit area talking about sharia law and English muslims getting sharia law installed piecemeal in England and honor killings in France and muslim youths out burning Paris around the ears of Frenchmen I can’t imagine how Americans might get a distorted view of muslim people. Then I also can’t imagine that you can divorce the “radical” element of muslim from the rest of it when very little of the rest of non-radical muslim isn’t very forceful in either keeping the radical part down or denouncing their actions when they happen. When the twin towers fell you had muslims all over the world out dancing in the streets, I can’t imagine why we would view muslim as controlled by the “radical” strain rather than the moderate side, can you? But the Americans are the ignorant ones, yeah right. Americans are always ignorant, loutish, morons. Not the people who believe in killing others not of their religion, building symbols of their religion next to the site of their worst slaughter in the US, honor killing your daughter or sister because she wants to date outside of her religion, keeping your women as chattel rather than as equals and lets not forget everyones favorite of genital mutilation on small girls. Yep we are the ignorant ones. Lets have all the liberals who want to defend muslim, live under muslim rules, then they can tell me how liberating the experience is and why they don’t want to leave it. mpw

  15. Ask the Christians who were arrested on the streets of Detroit for passing out literature during a Muslim gathering.

    Having seen the video referenced, they weren’t arrested for passing out literature. They were arrested for following a guy around demaning he “answer their questions” and then refusing to leave when security told them to leave because they were harassing people.

    Apparently trespassing laws are another one of the property rights that only Christians get to have in the US.

  16. Herb says:

    “Everything I needed to know about Islam and Muslims became crystal clear to me on September 11th, 2001.”

    Well, at least you can admit that you chose to be ignorant…sad that you make this same choice on a daily basis, but whatever…..

    “Funny how you lefties will argue for Muslim rights yet howl when Christians ask for the same respect. Do you know, Herb, Muslims in Muslim nations would eliminate you in a most violent fashion?”

    You know, Zels, do you ever say anything TRUE? Like, something that’s not punctured with holes?

    Lefties aren’t the only ones arguing for Muslim rights. What Christians are howling because they’re disrespected?

    Dude, some of you guys are on here saying “They discriminate in Saudi Arabia, so we’re gonna do it here.” And then you want to bitch about how no Christians can go to Mecca? How is that even logically consistent?

    And you know, most Muslims in Muslims nations are not evil suicide bombers. I know it’s inconvenient for you to hear this, but it’s factually accurate. Am I scared of them? No. Why should I be?

    I’m not even scared of terrorists.

  17. Michael Reynolds says:

    It’s not just ignorance. It’s a refusal to be educated. It is closed minds. An idiot like Zels has had ample opportunity to learn — indeed we’ve all tried to educate him. But many people are immune to education.

    This isn’t just a problem on this issue. It’s endemic.

    The effect of the Fox/GOP machine has not been just to make people dumber, it has been to convince dumb people that they are knowledgeable. They brainwash and they flatter and they ramp up the paranoia and succeed in building a coalition of the blockheaded, with every blockhead perfectly ignorant and entirely convinced of his own knowledge.

    It is time to stop downplaying the effect of this Fox/GOP propaganda.

    The Fox network is now a full-time hate group. They are different only in degree from Storm Front, or VDARE, or the old Pravda, or whatever passes for a newspaper in North Korea. They are in the business of spreading paranoia and fear and hate for profit. Goebbels for a new age.

    Republicans are playing with fire by embracing this. Republicans have profited in the past from racism and sexism and homophobia, and now they’ve moved on to religious bigotry and it is past time, way past time, for principled Republicans to do more about this than write blog posts.

    The GOP is sick. It is getting sicker. When will decent Republicans grow the balls to do something about it?

  18. G.A.Phillips says:

    ***Rock, don’t forget. In the 1600′s Christians burnt witches.***

    Don’t forget it was also Christians who used the Bible to stop the the witch burnings, It was not the liberals in congress……..

  19. G.A.Phillips says:

    And then there goes Harry using every stupid liberal boogeyman talking point all at once, as he calls people indoctrinated fear mongering propagandists lol……..

    Dude that crap is so over…..

  20. sam says:

    @mpw

    “When you see the Somali muslims in Minnesota going and joining up in jihadi groups and muslims in the Detroit area talking about sharia law and English muslims getting sharia law installed piecemeal in England and honor killings in France and muslim youths out burning Paris around the ears of Frenchmen I can’t imagine how Americans might get a distorted view of muslim people.”

    Golly, that’s bad. I had no idea. Advise me, please. There’s a Muslim family living 4 houses up the street from me. Should I

    1) Start a petition to have them evicted from their house? (What’s the legal thing here? The house has been in the family for 40 years.)
    2) Get my kids to beat the shit out of their kids? (This could be a problem — they get along fine and are on the same baseball team.)
    3) Ask the police to send a cruiser by their house daily (hourly, if I can swing it)?
    4) Key their cars?
    5) Poison their dog? (This could be a problem because when the family goes on vacation — to a jihadi jamboree, I’ll bet — we take care of the dog and my kids just love it.)
    6) Organize a daily protest in front of their house? (My next door neighbor is a strong Tea Party guy and I’ll bet he can come up with some neat signs. But this could be a problem because the Muslim guy’s a Tea Partier, too. He’s even a Republican.)
    7) Every night for two or three weeks pull the old shit-in-a-burning-paper thing on his front porch?
    8) His wife is a stickler for cleanliness and hangs the family wash on a clothesline to dry in sun (she told my wife it’s more healthy). Should I sneak over and steal all the towels off the line? (If I did that, he couldn’t go to his secret terrorist meetings in uniform, right?)
    9) Uproot his garden? (I’d rather not. He’s a great grower and shares his veggies with everyone on the street. Love his tomatoes.)
    10) Call the INS and report suspicious activity? (Another problem, though — his family’s been the country for five generations).

    What to do? Help me out here, mpw.

    Perplexed in Peoria.

  21. Rick Sincere says:

    As a gay man, I have been especially aware over the years that people who personally know gay individuals are more inclined to support efforts at promoting equal rights for all Americans and ending government discrimination — sometimes government persecution — of gay men and lesbians.

    Those who say they do not know a family member, co-worker, neighbor, or friend who is gay are the most likely to support discriminatory laws and penalties for gay and lesbian citizens.

    Ignorance often goes hand in hand with prejudice and bigotry. What we have seen for many decades in hostility toward gay Americans is now being transferred to Muslim Americans, most of whom are no more like Osama bin Laden than most Christians are like Torquemada.

    When ignorance begets animosity, it is a sad and unnecessary situation.

  22. sam says:

    Rick, don’t you come in here and be reasonable and stuff.

  23. Michael Reynolds says:

    Rick:

    The defining intellectual failing of conservatives is lack of imagination. They aren’t any less intelligent on average, but they are decidedly less imaginative.

    This may be why there are so few conservative creatives. You can count the conservative novelists, actors, directors, screenwriters, artists, dancers, fashion designers, musicians etc… on your fingers and toes.

    They never get it until it’s shoved right in their faces. They can’t imagine being bankrupted by illness, for example, until it happens to them or their immediate family. They can’t imagine having a gay child until they actually have one. They can’t imagine having a Muslim buddy until they end up forced to work with one.

    The capacity to picture something that is outside their immediate, personal experience, is not part of their intellectual package. If it hasn’t happened to them, it can’t happen at all. They do not have the ability to imagine themselves as anything other than what they are. Liberals often say it’s a lack of empathy, but conservatives are perfectly empathetic with people who are exactly like them. It’s just that they can’t make the leap beyond that.

  24. Steve Plunk says:

    Must a few of our hosts be so childish they put words into others mouths? There’s a reason I quit visiting your blog Dr. Taylor, you treat people like students meant to be demeaned before their peers. Save Zels the trouble? Ha ha. Academics are becoming too arrogant for my tastes.

    I suppose in a perfect world all Americans would go buy a few a books and educate themselves on what Islam was and is. I did it post 9/11 and firmly believe there are large enough segments of the Islamic world with violent theology to be a threat to western freedoms and human rights. I discovered in my reading that Islam is an intolerant religion even today. It was born in a harsh environment and teaches harshness when dealing with the enemies of itself. It’s intolerant nature has kept the Islamic world from the enlightenment that we in western civilization have embraced.

    Are all Muslims a threat? Of course not. Are some a threat? Yes. Since 9/11 we have stopped many terrorist attacks. It’s frustrating to hear Doug and Dr. Taylor basically trash the American people because they still harbor resentment and fear. Blaming Fox news doesn’t undo the attacks or the threats of future attacks. Blaming Fox is like blaming Bush, it’s a worn out excuse.

    Even if Americans answer a poll question about Islam that makes them seem ignorant or they oppose a mosque and seem like bigots how many attacks on Muslims in the United States have there been? Hate crimes? We are still a very civilized people. In fact I would venture (in total ignorance of course ) that more Muslims have perpetrated violence against Americans in America than they have endured.

    It has become a pattern that every poll that comes out our resident intellectual class uses it to show us how ignorant Americans are. So what? We don’t need people who feel holier than thou to tell us. The fact is we’re no less ignorant than any other country.

    I don’t see it as the average American’s responsibility to put aside 9/11, the Fort Hood massacre, the shoe bomber, the Christmas day bomber, or any of the other incidents and try and understand Islam the way our hosts would want. Here’s an idea, instead of just pointing out what ignorant hillbillies we all are how about explaining why we should not be concerned about the attacks or honor killings or any of the other things that make us uncomfortable with Islam. In the mean time quit being so disrespectful to your fellow citizens.

  25. sam says:

    Steve, are you aware of how so many of your comments are so obviously grounded in the “you’re looking down your nose at me” mode? It’s almost a constant. They fairly drip with resentment. I fear that resentment seriously impedes your ability to evaluate the posts you read.

  26. G.A.Phillips says:

    ***The defining intellectual failing of conservatives is lack of imagination. They aren’t any less intelligent on average, but they are decidedly less imaginative.***l

    lol, you mean we don’t fall for every single thing that some other liberal makes up?

    ***This may be why there are so few conservative creatives. You can count the conservative novelists, actors, directors, screenwriters, artists, dancers, fashion designers, musicians etc… on your fingers and toes.***

    Because they are in hiding for fear of being black listed?

    Plus it’s not that bad a thing seeing that the majority of liberal creatives create worthless crap.

    ***They never get it until it’s shoved right in their faces. They can’t imagine being bankrupted by illness, for example, until it happens to them or their immediate family. They can’t imagine having a gay child until they actually have one. They can’t imagine having a Muslim buddy until they end up forced to work with one.***

    lol we have had it shoved down our throats, chained to our future and we get it, you can’t have a gay child, and we are just about to stop you from forcing us to do things!

    ***The capacity to picture something that is outside their immediate, personal experience, is not part of their intellectual package. If it hasn’t happened to them, it can’t happen at all. They do not have the ability to imagine themselves as anything other than what they are. Liberals often say it’s a lack of empathy, but conservatives are perfectly empathetic with people who are exactly like them. It’s just that they can’t make the leap beyond that.***

    You are not very good at psychology, biology, politics, propaganda, or getting out of the way of your own previous thoughts a few post down Harry, go back to making fun of J.J, there you get lucky once in a while.

  27. mpw280 says:

    Hey sam I didn’t tell you to do anything, you projected and then implied I wanted to do those things. So sam, you projected doing all those things maybe you have the deep seated problem that needs to be looked at. As I stated it’s hard to get a view when the view you get is muslims blowing people up and then demanding their rights. That “moderate” muslims don’t stop the lunatic fringe, (with at least two national governments fostering anti west versions of muslim and sponsoring muslim terrorism in at least a soft way if not openly) doesn’t help the situation. You tell me who is the one to believe the Saudi Arabian trained Iman who says one thing in english and another in arabic and the people who sit there and listen to him but then claim to know nothing of his anti western/American views or his funneling money to Hamas. I don’t know and I am sure that there are a whole lot more out there in the same boat. But you can paint with a broad brush and call them morons and idiots, its the lefty thing to do. mpw

  28. Davebo says:

    I suppose in a perfect world all Americans would go buy a few a books and educate themselves on what Islam was and is. I did it post 9/11 and firmly believe there are large enough segments of the Islamic world with violent theology to be a threat to western freedoms and human rights

    Care to share with us which “few” books you chose there Steve?

    Honestly, I’ve never read a book on the subject. But I’d guess I’ve spent a lot more time in the “Islamic World” whatever that means to you based on the few books you have bought than you have.

    Some things you just can’t learn from books. Especially from books chosen from your echo chamber.

    But by all means, tell us books we should read.

  29. mantis says:

    When the only thing you hear about the religion is that some percent (not that small either) believes in killing others because they aren’t muslim then you will have a distorted view of the religion won’t you.

    Perhaps getting information from something other than wingnut blogs and talk radio once in a while would help.

  30. Davebo says:

    Hey sam I didn’t tell you to do anything, you projected and then implied I wanted to do those things. So sam, you projected doing all those things maybe you have the deep seated problem that needs to be looked at.

    Psychobabble attempt?

    Fail

    Horrific Grammar attempt.

    WIN!

  31. sam says:

    But mpw, you spoke so authoritatively about the Muslim threat, I thought, My God, if anybody knows how to save us, it’s mpw. I mean, you come across as the real deal, anti-Moooslim-wise.

    Oh, and

    “But you can paint with a broad brush and call them morons and idiots, its the lefty thing to do.”

    I am so fvcking tired of seeing this “oh, you lefties are always belittling us” bullshit. You guys have got to have the tenderest fee-fees in the known world. Whine, whine, whine. Suck it up and make better arguments.

  32. mantis says:

    I am so fvcking tired of seeing this “oh, you lefties are always belittling us” bullshit. You guys have got to have the tenderest fee-fees in the known world. Whine, whine, whine. Suck it up and make better arguments.

    Seriously. Why are wingnuts such whining delicate little flowers?

  33. Rock says:

    Doug said:

    Also, I think it’s important to distinguish between practices that are part of the religion of Islam and practices that are based in Arab, African, or Afghan culture and which pre-date the introduction of Islam

    Golly Doug, exactly which cultural practices should we in the west find distinguished or acceptable because they predated anything? Is hacking off noses and various body parts acceptable now because they may have predated Islam? Is the wholesale slaughter of innocent people in buses, schools, marketplaces, and tall buildings by suicide bombers part of Islam now or a cultural holdover from the dark ages? How about stoning people to death or hanging gays from mobile cranes? Cultural practices or part of Islam? How about raping a man’s wife or daughter as punishment for some violation of Islamic law or tribal culture? How about sentencing a woman who was gang raped to being whipped for having sex with men not her spouse? Insane! Honor killings? Do those practices predate Islam or what? Or is it a cultural thing?

    Am I afraid of Muslims? No. I served with Muslims in the Army for goodness sake. Am I afraid of Islam? No. Am I afraid of terrorist? No. Islamic terrorists kill more of their own people than they kill Americans. That’s the great shame here. Maybe Muslims who would speak out won’t because they are afraid of having their noses sliced off by their own brethren.

  34. Brummagem Joe says:

    “Plus it’s not that bad a thing seeing that the majority of liberal creatives create worthless crap.”

    Really? The movies of Billy Wilder, Frank Capra, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Stephen Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorsese are crap. The novels of Jack London, John Steinbeck, John Updike, Norman Mailer, Ernest Hemingway, Dashiell Hammett and Scott Fitzgerald are crap. The music of George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Johnny Mercer, Frank Mancini and Cole Porter is crap. The paintings of Norman Rockwell, Claude Monet, Childe Hassam and John Singer Sargent are crap. The buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Roe, Frank Gehry and Phillip Johnson are crap. Your artistic judgement is impeccable I must say.

  35. mantis says:

    I served with Muslims in the Army for goodness sake.

    What, you weren’t whipped, stoned, and had your nose cut off? How did you escape this fate being around the ruthless, evil, death-dealing Muslim monsters?

  36. Michael Reynolds says:

    Because they are in hiding for fear of being black listed?

    I don’t think that’s exactly why conservative actor/director Mel Gibson is in hiding.

  37. G.A.Phillips says:

    ***I don’t think that’s exactly why conservative actor/director Mel Gibson is in hiding.***

    lol, ya, talk about conseratives gone wild! Man was I the only one looking forward to a Lethal Weapon 5, oh well, some of us were just not meant for the sauce……

  38. Franklin says:

    Must a few of our hosts be so childish they put words into others mouths? There’s a reason I quit visiting your blog Dr. Taylor, you treat people like students meant to be demeaned before their peers. Save Zels the trouble? Ha ha. Academics are becoming too arrogant for my tastes.

    Let me guess, Dr. Taylor is violating Z-dorf’s First Amendment rights …

  39. anjin-san says:

    > a threat to western freedoms and human rights.

    I am less worried about Muslims as a threat to western freedoms and human rights than I am the right. Go talk to a gay who is being forced to live a lie while they stand ready to lay down their lives to defend America as a member of our armed forces. Go talk to a lesbian who does not have the legal right to be involved with the medical treatment of a long time partner when they are seriously ill.

    I guess fixating on Muslims is easier than taking a long look in the mirror and doing the difficult work of putting our own house in order.

  40. floyd says:

    Not one remotely unpredictable word… not even one. Ho-hum …

  41. Rock says:

    mantis says:

    “What, you weren’t whipped, stoned, and had your nose cut off? How did you escape this fate being around the ruthless, evil, death-dealing Muslim monsters?”

    Beer! It reduced cultural differences to drivel.

  42. matt says:
  43. mannning says:

    OK, I get it, all Muslims are fine fellows and gals; they adapt to our society; and really do keep a low profile, most of the time. Except for those who aren’t fine fellows. My problem is twofold: firstly, no one, including those who seem to have a handle on Islam here, or at least think they do; has given us any concrete idea at all of just how many of our Muslim residents in the US are from the bad side of Islam? The words small, and great minority don’t exactly convey the case very well. Would any of you knowledgeable people hazard a guess as to how many of those 2 to 6 million or so Muslims in America are closet Jihadists, and trained terrorists? If you will tell me this it would potentially help to calm the waters. Secondly, will you please tell me how you knew the bad Muslims, and told them apart from the good ones, so that I can keep a reasonable watch for the bad guys in the future? In short, just how do you separate the good from the bad?

    I suppose there is a third concern I have in this situation, and that is, how many of the good guys can be “turned” as it were into bad guys in a very short space of time by proper persuasion from Islamicist leaders, and thus create far more baddies later on when no one is looking? I would also ask you experts whether you have read both the Qur’an and the Hadith, and read any of the analyses of their contents, because I have read that Muslims have a duty to perform Jihad when called upon to do so. Is this right? I also read that Muslims consider Christians and Jews as dire enemies to be loathed and teated badly, even lying to them. Is this right? Or is the Qur’an not telling it like it is? I read in the Hadith that Muslims that migrate to a foreign land have dispensation to forego normal practices of Islam and to “fit in” until it is time for other actions. I would ask you scholars of Islam whether the Qur’an and
    Sharia, and the Hadith are to be considered the law and true words of Muhammed, to be revered and followed by all Muslims? Is this true? I ask whether leaving Islam is considered to be apostasy and is punishable by death? Finally, I ask you if these tenets hold for all or most of the major sects within Islam, especially those in the ME. Then, too, I have read that all of the above are true for the major sects in the ME, and further that most attempts to moderate Islam and bring it into a less militant stance have been stopped rather quickly, such that Islam practice and law is very much the same today as it was in 1200AD. There is a whole lot more in the Qur’an and Hadith that I could ask you about, virtually all of which are true abominations from a Christian perspective. But if you would give me your answers to these issues I have stated, I would be most grateful.

  44. sam says:

    Alright, Manning, what are your suggestions, keeping in mind that we do have a constitution that is pretty protective of individual liberties. If, as you say, Islam and its adherents, represent a mortal threat to us, and we have large Muslim population in this country, how should we deal with the threat? I want you to tell us what we should do. In your posts, you’re long on diagnosis, short on prescriptions. Tell us precisely what it is, in your opinion, we should do. You’re pretty good at mongering fear, now tell us what we can do to allay those fears.

  45. Brummagem Joe says:

    “My problem is twofold: firstly, no one, including those who seem to have a handle on Islam here, or at least think they do; has given us any concrete idea at all of just how many of our Muslim residents in the US are from the bad side of Islam?”

    A question to which there is no answer. You might as well ask for a concrete idea of how many Italian Americans are associated with the mafia, or how about Russians with organized crime, polygamous Mormons, murderous white members of extremist hate organizations like the Aryan nations. There are roughly 12,000 gun homicides a year in the US, a figure which dwarfs the 9/11 attack. How many of these gun homicides are committed by muslims?

  46. davod says:

    “I am less worried about Muslims as a threat to western freedoms and human rights than I am the right. Go talk to a gay who is being forced to live a lie while they stand ready to lay down their lives to defend America as a member of our armed forces. Go talk to a lesbian who does not have the legal right to be involved with the medical treatment of a long time partner when they are seriously ill.”

    The Right?

    Don’t ask don’t tell is the law of the land. Change it.

    It is my understanding there is a legal document you can have drawn up that gives another person the right to be involved in the medical treatment decisons of another.

  47. Michael Reynolds says:

    Alright, Manning, what are your suggestions, keeping in mind that we do have a constitution that is pretty protective of individual liberties.

    I’ve got five bucks says he never comes up with a coherent answer.

  48. Michael Reynolds says:

    Damn! I don’t think I closed italics.

  49. Grewgills says:

    Ragshaft is a spoof, why do you treat him as though he is serious?

  50. mannning says:

    @JB, MR
    Just now, I asked the questions as to some quantitative idea of what we face from Jihadists in the US. So far, it is a null answer, since what I recieved for an answer was , the question is unanswerable! so I am to assume that no one knows how many Jihadists are in the US. It could be zero, and it could be an appreciable portion of 2 to 6 million Muslims. Fine and dandy, Since you will not tell me what the threat level from Jihadists is, how can I, or anyone, assess what should be done to blunt it? Plus, I get the usual red herrings about what goes on in the US, without making any connection to the question at hand. Rather disingenuous, I’d say.

    But I asked for far more information than that, in order to contribute to the solution, since we must be faced with more than a few of these radicals and pseudo-radicals, and we need to know how to find them, among about a dozen other questions not given an answer. Is it
    because you experts don’t know the answers, or is it that your answers would reflect badly on Islam? I am leaning towards the latter.

    So, at this moment, we have an unknown threat of unknown dimensions, and with no information from you as to how to find any of the Jihadists, or how to assess the needs for security, or almost anything to proceed with. Yet we do know that there are this 2 to 6 million of these Muslim people in the nation, and, we do know that SOME REAL PORTION of them are dedicated, fanatic Islamacists, and more can be generated from the passive masses!

    The ball is most definitely in the court of you experts on Islam in the USA, and not mine. I have asked for your input, and you have failed to come forth with anything worthwhile. As far as I can see, you have been blowing smoke on this problem, because a few neighbors of yours are fine, upstanding Muslims, who, for all you know, the males in the families are indeed trained terrorists that are simply acting out their dispensation from Islam at this time to “fit in”. Or not!

    So you, RG, and you, MR, need to either come up with some of these answers or you haven’t a thing to contribute to the problem of Islam but smoke and wishful thinking.

  51. mannning says:

    Good try to put the ball in my court, and that includes sam as well. But I am not the well-informed and deeply knowledgeable person on Islam that you all have portrayed yourselves to be, so I return the ball to your court. Tell me about the real Islam, if you experts can. Tell me how to find them!

    Once a fair set of answers that can be tested somewhat for accuracy are forthcoming, I could possibly prescribe a few obvious things to allieve the problem a bit, that others have speculated about for years.

  52. mannning says:

    Oh, I do have one other observation to add. The number of mosques in the US have been variously stated as from 1,200 to 10,000 when you count all of the rented storefront meeting places and such that exist. They are usually staffed with imams from SA and Yemen, I am told
    so the daily and weekly messages to the faithful here from Islam are not homegrown in the USA., but come from the ME in general, especially Whabbists, and are funded by our erstwhile friends from SA.

  53. mannning says:

    Well, it is apparent that I do have one simple prescription to suggest!

    Know your enemy!

    Know how he thinks!

    Know what his main objectives are!

    Know how he operates!.

    These are some of the questions, if you will, that have to be answered, and for these answers, we need some real expertise on the subject. Hence, my questions to begin such a quest here.

  54. mannning says:

    RG = JB an error from a few posts back.

  55. G.A.Phillips says:

    ***Know your enemy!

    Know how he thinks!

    Know what his main objectives are!

    Know how he operates!.***

    Yup, just like Thomas Jefferson and why he owned a Koran……

  56. sam says:

    @Manning

    “The ball is most definitely in the court of you experts on Islam in the USA, and not mine.”

    No, no, no. I, for one, accept your analysis of our peril. It is mortal. All I ask is that you apply as much energy to the fashioning of a plan of action as you do the description of the peril. This, I’m saddened to say, won’t cut it:

    Know your enemy!

    Know how he thinks!

    Know what his main objectives are!

    Know how he operates!

    That’s the rhetorical equivalent of saying “Wash your hands after going to the bathroom” in the midst of cholera epidemic. Give us specifics. Wiretaps on all Muslim Americans? Ankle monitors? Weekly meetings with the FBI? You know, that kind of stuff. Surely someone with your energy and dedication can come up with some list of direct actions our government can take. Right?

  57. mannning says:

    Why sam, I thought you’d recognize the first baby steps in such an inquiry; it is what they teach the cadets early on when struggling with an S&T problem. But they are indeed essential questions to develop in depth answers to as the minimum before launching into questions of engagement. I have asked twice now for real experts to come here and fill in some of the necessary blanks we need. Tell me about the Sunni, the Shi’ia, the Sufi, the Whabbis, and quite a few others.that I know little about. Tell me about the tribes and their realms and customs, and how we might work to play off some of their aspects to gain an advantage. the questions I posed are unanswered, yet you say you buy into my assessment, which is really superficial, before these questions are answered! There are some such answers around, I am convinced of that, else we as a nation have spent 50 or more years in the ME with blindfolds on. Just recognize that I do not have any cogent answers, certainly not until I feel we are all on sound grounds to propose some solutions. right now, I see this as a diversion from gathering the facts and opinions of experts on the matter, asking me to propose some cockamamie solutions to difficult situations.

  58. sam says:

    ” yet you say you buy into my assessment, which is really superficial”

    But it’s pronounced apodictically. Howevr, I then read

    “Tell me about the Sunni, the Shi’ia, the Sufi, the Whabbis, and quite a few others.that I know little about.”

    Which pretty much encompasses the whole of Islam. How much, then, can we credit your identification of the threat when you profess ignorance of the main doctrinal divisions of Islam?

  59. mannning says:

    Geez, sam, this shows just how disinguous your so-called acceptance really was. I have so far merely stated what I have read from the Qur’an and Hadith. I then asked you or the rest to answer whether these statements about Islam were true or not. Not one of the commenters have answered, and you label it as my threat analysis! Nope! Just statements to be validated, but it is apparent that they will not be validated here because none of the commenters can do it, so far.

    There are quite possibly significant differences between the various sects regarding these core statements about Islam, and how they interpret them. I have not claimed any special knowledge about each and every sect of Islam. I know that such differences do exist, but not the details. This in turn would affect how the sects would conduct themselves in the US, and in the general push to install Islam worldwide.

    So, I really couldn’t care less whether you challenge a non-existent threat model of mine, or my knowledge of Islam. You are talking from your own perceptions, and they do not coincide with mine, or with anything I wrote. Read what I wrote more carefully.

  60. steve says:

    Manning- Let me recommend that you head over to Pat Lang’s place. On his Atheneum (sp?) he answers some of these questions. If you are unfamiliar with the basic tenets of Islam, he has two good starter level lectures. He is a decent speaker and puts things into political context. His view, to which I subscribe, is that our real concern is the isolated Muslim. Muslims have assimilated quite well for the most part in the US. Those involved in their communities present little risk. It is the isolated Muslim with no community, no mosque if you will, who is susceptible to radicalization, from internet sources especially. Lang is most definitely not a liberal. Saying so to his face could be dangerous to your health I suspect.

    Steve

  61. steve says:

    As to your other questions, I have read some books. I have spent some time talking with Muslims while deployed. I took a couple of courses on Islam as an undergrad. I still read on the Middle East and its politics. I still know nothing compared with someone like Lang. I do know enough to tell you that Islam is just not organized like most Western religions. There is no official hierarchy, though I guess some Shia might dispute that. I also have read enough to appreciate that much of what we ascribe to Islam is culture. You see the same things with Christianity.

    I can answer some of your questions about Sufis, Wahhabis, etc., but it is too complex to do quickly in a comments section. Yes, Sufis are mystics. Yes, Wahhabism probably started on the peninsula and has since spread. Yes, Muslim scholars are still debating the Hadith. Besides the groups you list, there are numerous other small groups throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan that dont quite fit traditional understandings.

    One thing I would note, is that every Muslim I spoke with while deployed, knew a hell of a lot more about Christianity than I did about Islam.

    Steve

  62. mannning says:

    I believe that is the current situation on this comment set. There seem to be no real experts commenting here that are able to answer my questions. So I will find answers elsewhere. There is a enormous literature on the subject, I find, and I have indeed found quite a lot of agreement with the statements I made earlier, which encourges me that I am on the right track.

    One interesting attempt has been to devise a questionnaire that would discover the latent Jihadists as they came into the US. That was amusing, because it is like asking someone “are you a criminal?” I believe this route has only a little virtue. It could set up a Jihadist to be charged with lying to the feds if he is caught, and it does make the point that the US is moving towards greater efforts to find and rid ourselves of people that plan to do us evil. But it will not be effective at all, I believe.

    Thus, I will sign off from this aborted attempt of mine to make a bit of progress in educating myself and others on Islam. There were no takers!

  63. mannning says:

    Steve, I was interested in Lang’s presentation, which I viewed this afternoon. It was informative. But just when it was getting down to the nitty gritty it was over. I found far more details in the Prophet of Doom site regarding the true nature of Islam. Then, too, I have gone to a number of other sites, such as Gates of Vienna, Hisperado, Jihad Watch, and quite a few others, and have seen what appears to be a concerted effort to get the right message out to us. Unfortunately, I cannot read either Arabic or Farsi, so those foreign sites are of no use to me. There is an incredible number of Islamic sites touting Jihad.

    My final comment is that the so very light and frothy treatment of Islam here by the host does the US and its people no good at all. The statements begin “with Islam is good and Americans are bad” and it goes downhill from there, with no real substance to back it up at all.

  64. mannning says:

    Lang made the point that Islam considers Jewish religion to be Religion 1, Christianity to be Religion 2, and Islam to be the final Religion 3 in a series of developments. That would argue for your experience that Muslims knew a lot more about Christianity, since it is to some large degree derived from Judeo-Christianity, but with a total Muhammad makeover.

  65. steve says:

    Yes, Lang’s posts are just a good starting point. I hope it gives you an idea how complex and foreign it is to Western thinking. Casual study will often just get you into trouble. If you decide to try directly reading the Koran, most people find it difficult (I did), so get one with good commentary built into it. If nothing else, I hope you come away with the idea that Islam is not really an organized religion, so that many Muslims really do not feel responsible for what others do in the name of Islam since they think that other is not practicing the correct form of Islam. Kind of like Protestants would not have felt responsible for the Inquisition. Lee Smith has a brief, contemporary take on sharia if you are interested.

    http://www.tabletmag.com/news-and-politics/42898/lawless/

    Steve

  66. sam says:

    @manning

    “Geez, sam, this shows just how disinguous your so-called acceptance really was.”

    Ya think?

  67. Mark says:

    @Manning You did a wonderful job of expressing many of the frustrations that I have encountered trying to deal with persons who have strong opinions about Islam and Islamic “religious” rights. Quotes due to the opinion that Islam is primarily a political system and structure with a veneer of religion to baffle the herders.
    @Sam your post regarding your neighbor made me laugh. It reminded me of the common discussion regarding layers…….”they are all no good, SOB’s, cheats, etc….But MY lawyer is great.” I will take you at your word, they sound like wonderful people. Can we assume that they do not strictly observe the Qur’an at this point?
    Finally Doug, there have been so many terrific posts on this topic alone, yet you single out Sams post I referenced above. Do I need to repeat the cocktail hour lawyer joke again?

  68. sam says:

    @Mark

    “@Sam your post regarding your neighbor made me laugh. It reminded me of the common discussion regarding layers…….”they are all no good, SOB’s, cheats, etc….But MY lawyer is great.” I will take you at your word, they sound like wonderful people. Can we assume that they do not strictly observe the Qur’an at this point?”

    The imagination quails as it tries to fathom this person’s thought processes.

  69. John Burgess says:

    I’ll pitch in to fill the JB slot and reply to Manning.

    I do, in fact, happen to know rather a lot about Islam, having read hundreds of books on the topic, and have lived most of my life in either Muslim majority or major-minority countries, about 30 of them all told.

    How many Muslim extremists in the US is indeed an unanswerable question. Unless one were to poll every single Muslim on every single aspect of Islam and politics, it is impossible to find an answer. Then you have to define ‘extremist’. Do you mean ‘A direct threat to America and American lives, based on religious belief?” Or do you perhaps mean ‘One looking to ‘purify’ Islam by bringing it back to its fundamental tenets?” Both are ‘extremist’. One is directly a threat; the other, an indirect threat, at least to American values.

    I’ll assume you mean direct threat. In that case, we’re probably talking about a couple thousand who could be talked into becoming dangerous. Those who are ready to act against Americans and the US? Probably a few hundred.

    As has been asked of Manning by others, how does he propose to eliminate the threat? That’s an unanswerable question, too, of course, It’s like asking how to eliminate deaths from drunk driving. They can’t be eliminated, they can only be minimized. We don’t arrest people on their potential for drunk driving, they actually have to do it first. It’s the same with ‘extremists’, no matter their religious, no matter their cause. I certainly think the US Congress would be improved by the removal of certain of its members. I’m extremist, I guess, if I do it through extra-legal means, but just an activist if I do it through ballots.

    The US does a pretty good job of minimizing the acts of Islamic-based terrorists in the US. There’ve been no major attacks since 9/11, after all. That doesn’t mean one could never happen, of course. It only takes one person with the will and the technology to create a bloodbath. Eliminating that risk to the 100% certainty level would require ditching the Constitution, not to mention any meaningful definition of human rights.

    Manning also makes logical category errors in assuming that ‘If X does this and X is a member of Y, then all Y do this’. Extremist Muslims (however defined) are not the same set as all Muslims. There is a huge variation in the reading of both the Quran and hadith. In fact, there are Muslim scholars who believe the hadith need to be scrapped in their entirety. Other, more gingerly, seek new interpretations of the Quran. Most Muslims, though, are too busy with their day-to-day lives to get wrapped up in theology and doxology. As Christians and Jews have, they tend to ignore the parts of their religious doctrine that don’t suit them. Not many Christians and Jews, for example, still consider Leviticus 18:22 the last word on homosexuality. Some do though. I guess they’re the ‘extremists’.

    I recommend, too, that Manning do some reading on Deobandism. It’s a S. Asian strain of Sunni Islam that is extremely politicized. The Taliban consider themselves to be Deobandi, not Wahhabi. Al-Qaeda, IMO, is a particular blend of Wahhabism, Deobandism, and political philosophy from the Muslim Brothers. That blend is unique to Afghanistan and, perhaps, the NWF of Pakistan. It’s extremely unlikely to be duplicated in the US.

  70. Finally Doug, there have been so many terrific posts on this topic alone, yet you single out Sams post I referenced above. Do I need to repeat the cocktail hour lawyer joke again?

    What can I say ? Sam’s comment made me laugh so I picked it

  71. mannning says:

    @John

    Thanks for the tutorial, it confirms what I thought when I listed some of the sects and asked for more info on their interpretation of the core Qur’anic beliefs. Since that time, I have managed a few books as well besides the Qur’an itself and some excerpts from the Hadith.
    I do agree with your analogy that we cannot prevent terrorism–it is similar to the drunk driver problem.

    Where I really cannot grab hold of your statements is when you confine the number of potential terrorists to a few thousand, worldwide, I assume, and a few hundred willing to attack America. This is your opinion, apparently, but it is not given any references to back it up.
    It does not account for the many, many thousands that Lang speaks of in Iran that are quite willing to commit suicide for their version of the cause of Islam, for example, and it doesn’t account for the hundreds of terrorist attacks over the past few months by Islamic groups that were listed in the website “Islam:Religion of Peace.”. Plus, it is my understanding that there is a significant push to form a united Islamic front to face the West, and in particular, America, (but I forget the title they adopted), though I have seen no reports of its effectiveness.

    Of course, it is obvious that we haven’t suffered a major attack of the 9/11 variety since then, but I would venture that statements of past performance bear little relationship to future performance. We have suffered some minor attacks and attempts, however in the recent past, most notably the Ft. Hood shootings by a single man. I am rather sure that we have not been forgotten by Islamic radicals.

    What I have come to realize, from my own reading, from you and Lang, and others, is that while there are a billion Muslims worldwide, they are not by any means all a threat to us, and they are not yet better organized to carry out more than somewhat isolated attacks on us by relatively small groups of fanatics such as AQ or some Whabbi fanatics, or some radicalized American/German/French/UK Muslims represent. Not that they cannot wreck havoc on us, but that the frequency and severity of attacks is most likely to be less than some have thought.

    Still, if one has to give a dimension to the threat, my own estimate is more in line with Lang’s–which could be many thousands, of dedicated Iranian Muslims here or infiltrated, which would require a major tipping point for them to start the Jihad against America in a larger way.

    As to such tipping points, an Israeli attack on Iran would quite likely produce one, possibly leading to attacks on the US worldwide. This has some real likelihood in the next months. Some say a 50-50 chance before the end of the year. What would be the general reaction of all Muslim sects to such an event? To come together to help Iran, or, to stay put? This I cannot devine. If they, some of the major groups, did join Iran to some degree or another, we have a much, much bigger problem, both in the US and elsewhere, don’t you agree?

  72. John Burgess says:

    Manning: Let’s take a look at Saudi Arabia. There are approx. 12 million Saudis, the vast majority of them Wahhabis–20% are Shi’a of at least three different sects and probably a million or two who are of non-Hanbali school jurisprudence. The Saudis figure they had something less than 5,000 extremists at the worst, both at home and seeking jihad abroad. That number has been cut down by actions of the security forces (probably 100+ extremists killed), by families turning in wayward members (in the thousands) and maybe a thousand being ‘re-educated’ upon capture or return from detention in Guantanamo or other states’ prisons.

    Five thousand out of 12 million comes to 0.04% of Saudis turning to violent extremism. It’s the violence we’re really concerned about; fire-breathing sermons are potentially dangerous, but not immediately so. But even the fire-breathers get fired from their jobs and sometimes jailed: free speech is not yet accepted as a virtue in the Kingdom.

    The Saudis strongly believe in a dawa or proselytizing effort. They have, in the past, sent preachers out to convert less-stringent Muslims to the Wahhabi form, though of course they saw it as merely bringing the wandering sheep back into the fold. It took a while, but the religious establishment and the government (not entirely the same thing) saw that this could be counterproductive.

    The government set up strict limits on charitable donations, requiring that they all be funneled through a government office which would be responsible for verifying the bona fides of the recipients. Careless oversight had been a real problem in the past, with well-intended donations going to individuals and groups with malicious intent. That kind of support has all but stopped, though individual Saudis are likely still transferring funds that don’t go through international banking systems.

    They’ve also toned down the missionary effort. For instance, they no longer distribute books and other texts to mosques and Islamic centers in the US or UK. Whether this has stopped in other countries, I just don’t know. I suspect that if a country pitches a beef, then they stop.

    Very few clerics are being sent abroad and those that are get a close vetting to cull out the extremists.

  73. mannning says:

    @John
    That is an excellent picture of the new SA posture that I hadn’t heard about. Last year, if my memory serves, there was a controversy in the DC area, specifically in Northern Virginia, concerning an Islamic school and the publications it was using. I assume that has changed too.

    I am still on the Iranian question since viewing Lang’s lectures. Do you have a similar insight into their potentials? Lang repeated his estimate twice that there were “thousands and thousands and thousands of Iranians” that were willing to become suicide bombers for the good of the cause. He described waves and waves of people running practically unarmed into the fire fields of the Iraqis during their war. This doesn’t strike me as being a small number of potential bombers available for the shouting today. All because they believe in the coming of the Mah’di, if I have that right. And while the President has no control over the army the Mullahs do. Is this organized as a kind of oligarchy? How powerful are the Revolutionary Guards? The other question of some importance is just how stable is the regime, and is a revolution even possible today, given the forces and methods they use to remain in power?
    Then too, would an Israeli attack solidify the power of the regime? I can think of many questions about Iran, but these will do for the moment!

  74. John Burgess says:

    Manning: the issue between Freedom House and the Saudi Academy isn’t a clear-cut one, other than that Freedom House wants to purge Islam of all comment critical of other religions. I’m not aware of any religion that has many kind words for other religions, especially those it sought to replace. Thus, I find Freedom House’s efforts to be illegitimate.

    Saudi textbooks had indeed been a problem. My office in Riyadh, in fact, collected copies of all primary and secondary school texts and sent them back to Congress (and thus Freedom House), back in 2003. Since that time, the Saudis have rewritten their texts, several times, to purge them. When Freedom House asked for more, they excised more. The Saudis have about reached their limit on this. Oddly, the Christian teachers at the Academy never realized they were teaching extremism, perhaps because they weren’t.

    I’m a bit confused about your use of the term ‘Mahdi’. That’s pretty much a Sunni concept, not a Shi’a one. The Shi’a are awaiting the return of either the 7th or 12th Imam (depending on sect). Similar, but not the same issue.

    Iran certainly has millions that it could arm and send to war, but that’s war, not terrorism. Those guys aren’t going to get on airplanes and invade the West. They might start marching into/through Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, but Iran’s military prowess is not markedly better than it was in the 1980’s Iran-Iraq War.

    Could Iran engage in international terrorism? Sure. It does have assets and allies (like Hezbollah) who are scattered all over the globe. They could wreak a certain amount of havoc, no question. But having shot that wad, it’s gone. That havoc could be deadly in particular locations and it would certainly be very expensive, but no more than in any other war.

  75. mannning says:

    @John

    “Iran certainly has millions that it could arm and send to war, but that’s war, not terrorism. Those guys aren’t going to get on airplanes and invade the West.”

    True, but is it possible that a significant number of these warrior-type Iranians have been selected by the government and allowed to emigrate to the US, or have infiltrated into the US via Mexico or Canada? This would concern me. I do not want their wad shot in the US!

    Prhaps I missed what Lang said about Mahdi, instead of the 7th or 12th Imam, he switched from English to Arabic several times in mid-sentence. Are you saying then, that the Imam’s coming has a very significant role to play in Iranian outlook on the world? What I remember is that this coming is the or an end-of-the-world marker, which colors everything dark thereafter.