We've got him now
Osama Bin Laden has threatened to attack Europe over the publication of the Muhammed Cartoons in a recent audio recording. The Washington Post reports:
The five-minute speech was the second time in four months that bin Laden has delivered threats to European countries. He made only one oblique reference to President Bush -- calling him "your aggressive ally . . . who is about to depart the White House" -- and instead addressed his remarks to "the intelligent ones in the European Union."
The al-Qaeda leader criticized European countries for joining in military campaigns in Muslim lands. Although he lamented those actions, he suggested that the Muhammad cartoons were even more immoral and that retaliation was coming.
The rule of thumb in a fistfight is when you land a blow which makes your opponent yell, hit him there again. And the louder he yells the more you hit him in that particular area. Osama Bin Laden has just said "ouch".
Doubtless there will be those who will argue that Bin Laden's warnings are a reason to suppress publication of the Cartoons, either to demonstrate our moral superiority or to manifest our sensitivity; every precept of political correctness argues to cease and desist. That would be a big mistake.
What makes the Mohammed Cartoon attack on radical Islam so potent that Bin Laden himself must oppose it, is two things. First, anyone can make fun of radical Islam. Second, the Cartoons are aimed at the weakest point of the Jihad: it's sources of authority. It is paradoxically true of all organized nihilisms that they rely upon their unquestioned authority to negate. For example, whereas Bolshevism could regard humans as expendable, dogma was sacrosanct. The real message of organized nihilism is that "everything is permitted" except to make fun of nihilism itself. Every act is lawful in radical Islam: to bomb markets, kill children, lie, cheat and steal. Everything: except to publish the Mohammed Cartoons.
I argued that the Islamic reaction to Geert Wilders converted every paintbrush, chisel and computer into a bomb. Islam has to suppress every affront to Mohammed lest Mohammed be shown to be impotent against affront. As in the pulp tales of travelers transgressing upon lost cities, death must follow the blasphemy of the local idol or the local idol, not the traveler, loses face. What Geert Wilders has done is draw a line in the intellectual sand which he invites everyone to cross. And Osama Bin Laden must on no account allow anyone else to cross for fear of what will follow: inflatable Mohammeds, Numa-numa Mohammeds, or Allah forbid, Gay Mohammeds.
Many pixels have been burned out arguing that the distributed Islamic insurgency is invincible. But what about distributed resistance? What about distributed blasphemy? How long will Osama Bin Laden's dogma survive that?
It's Radical Islam's worst nightmare: a Swarm directed against authority. Without the authority of Mohammed, not only Wahabism but the world itself falls to pieces. Spengler, arguing that radical Islam is a form of atheism or at best pantheism, quoted Benedict XVI's Regensburg assertion that in Wahabism's view, Allah is entirely arbitrary. Reality subsists on Allah's unknowable will; upon Allah's inscrutable authority.
For Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here [Professor Theodore] Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazm went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that "nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practice" idolatry.
It is this separation between reason and beauty on the one hand, and Allah's will on the other that permits Wahabists to describe mass-murder and outrage as "holy". It's holy because Allah commands it; and for the Faithful, Allah commands it because Muhammed says he did. Caricature Muhammed and the whole system falls to the ground. Spengler's commentary on Benedict XVI's observation is worth repeating:
Allah is no more subject to laws of nature than the nature-spirits of the pagan world who infest every tree, rock and stream, and make magic according to their own whimsy. The "carried-forward idea of the unity of God" to which Rosenzweig refers, of course, is the monotheism carried forward in outward form from Judaism, but dashed to pieces against the competing notion of absolute transcendence.
As Rosenzweig observes, "An atheist can say, 'There is no God but God'." If God is everywhere and in all things, he is nowhere and in nothing. If there are no natural laws, there need be no law-giver, and the world is an arbitrary and desolate place, a Hobbesian war of each aspect of nature against all. Contemplation of nature in Islam is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. It is not surprising that Islamic science died out a generation or two after al-Ghazali.
That's why Bin Laden focuses his ire upon the Muhammed Cartoons, leaving his criticism of Iraq almost as an afterthought. Bin Laden has laid down the line against the Cartoons because he has to. It's a threat to his power-core; and even within his fully operational Ummah Battlestation he feels a great distrubance in the Force. And by so doing, he's revealed the Jihad's greatest weakness. He fears freedom; fears individuals unrestrained by the bonds of political correctness. And he fears, as anyone who has noticed his dour mien should have guessed, scorn and laughter above all.
We've got you now.
We're coming for you in our tragedy and glory.
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