By Daniel Greenfield
Travelers across the vast stretches of the Arabian Desert have been known to get lost and, in their thirst and exhaustion, hallucinate oases with palm trees and flowing water. Western policymakers lost in the vast stretches of madness that define the Muslim world are even more wont to hallucinate the oasis of a moderate Islam to take refuge in. Whether you're dying for a drink or a way to reaffirm your reality, a mirage is sometimes the only way you can find it.
Moderate Islam is a mirage, a projection by desperate Westerners of their own values and culture onto an entirely different religion and culture. It is a mirage that many Muslims are eager to uphold, in the same way that desert merchants might sell goblets and bowls of sand to passing travelers foolish enough to confuse water with dust. And, like travelers who think they are drinking water, when they are actually swallowing sand, it is a deception that will eventually kill the deceived.
When the Western cultural elite look at Islam, they see what they have to see to avoid falling into crisis mode. Like the traveler who would rather choke on sand, than face up to the fact that he is lost in a desert, they would rather keep most things as they are, even at the cost of the extinction of the nations they preside over, than confront the full scope of the threat surrounding them. A threat that they had a hand in nurturing and feeding in the name of goals that seemed to make sense at the time.
It is easier to segregate a "Bad Islam" composed of a tiny minority of extremists from the generally "Good Islam" of the rulers of the Muslim world and the waves of Muslim immigrants washing up on their shores. This segregation has no objective reality, and is nothing but a psychological defense mechanism against experiencing the full reality of a disaster. From the Titanic to World War II, there are numerous similar situations in which the people in charge chose to ignore a growing crisis at a horrific cost.
The two primary paradigms through which Western political elites see Islam, are that of tyranny on the right, and that of the evils of Western foreign policy on the left. Bush employed the former when he defined the problem as being one of tyranny, rather than Islam. Having defined the problem in terms of a majority of "Good Muslims" oppressed by "Bad Tyrants", Bush tried to liberate the former from the latter, only to discover that there was a good deal of overlap between the two. Under Obama, we have seen the left implement its own construct of Islam, as popular resistance movements against colonial oppression, who are reacting to the evils of American foreign policy. This knee-jerk Marxist formula goes one worse than the Bush Administration by defining terrorists as "Good Muslims" and moderates as "Yankee Puppets".
But the only item of true significance to emerge from the contrast of these worldviews is the revelation that American political leaders from both sides of the spectrum still view Islam in terms of the old Cold War struggle between Communism and Capitalism. Like many generals who fight every war in terms of the last war, the political leaders of the West still see Islam in Cold War colors, which prevents them from seeing it for what it is.
While Islam shares some common denominators with Communism, as well as Nazism, it is also a quite different entity than either one. For one thing it is not Western in any sense of the word. It does not rely on a centralized leadership. It has had over a thousand years to seep into the culture of the regions it has conquered. That has made Islam into an identity in a much more profound way, than Adolf or Vladimir could have ever managed with their own crackpottery.
Islam predates the political movements such as Communism and Nazism that arose to fill a vacuum of faith in a secularizing West with dreams of racial and economic utopias. It is the original sin of the East, a ruthless religion based on stolen beliefs and stolen property. Its moment of religious transcendence was not that of the law or the spirit, but the sight of tribal rivalries uniting under a single green banner. The banner of Islam.