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Sunday, February 05, 2006

Why Arabs are so pissed off

A lot of the pundits that are analyzing the cartoon kerfuffle are missing the point.

The reality is inadvertently revealed in this bizarre but neat bit of psychological projection, courtesy of Arab News:
Let me step back for a moment to give a little background information that may help you make better sense of what is happening.

For a number of years now Western nations have suffered from a growing doubt; they fear that the global hegemony the West has enjoyed for the last couple of centuries is finally coming to an end.

This uncomfortable realization is by no means confined to Westerners; in fact most non-Western people have come to believe this as well.

So a gradual, but perceptible, fading of their global hegemony coupled with a growing fear of an uncertain future motivates Western society to intimidate weak nations in an attempt to keep their power unchallenged and intact.

A US neocon put it very succinctly when he said (I am not quoting exactly): “We must periodically find a weak country, hold it against the wall and slap it around to impress others”.

The ideal target for Westerners has been the Muslim world, due to its extensiveness and perceived weakness.

The current assault on our Prophet by the Danes and other Europeans must be seen within this context.
The deluded author subconsciously reveals the true roots of Muslim rage: it is Muslim impotence.

Centuries of the Muslim world consistently losing against the West in every field of endeavor that matters - scientific, military, cultural - coupled with an almost genetic Arab (not Muslim) sense of pride - brings an incredible dissonance between their beliefs that the world will inevitably become a Muslim ummah, and reality.

When someone who craves control finds that he is irrelevant, he will latch onto anything to make himself feel important.

Almost worse than the fact that the cartoons were published at all, from the Muslim viewpoint, the fact that they were published by a small irrelevant Danish newspaper - and they still couldn't control even that. They couldn't get the automatic condemnation that they expected. They couldn't call upon one of their perceived bases of power - their ability to control the European Left with impunity.

Every Muslim demonstration, with imams whipping up the crowds into a frenzy, is an attempt at relevance - if they can scare the Western world to move even a little bit, their sense of pride is somewhat restored and they can go to sleep with their delusions that they matter. Threats of economic sanctions or oil boycotts are nothing more than pathetic attempts to show that they have a little bit of control left in this world.

Terror serves exactly the same purpose. The very asymmetry of terror, where a small number of people can instill fear in a much larger population, is a way to show relevance for a people who cannot compete on a level playing field. This is why terror is celebrated by such a huge percentage of the Arab world, even as they pretend to denounce it - they are proud that they can still make a difference.

Unfortunately, this is not a problem that can be cured by counseling or self-esteem books.

There is an entire other dimension to this psychological history of the Arab (and to some extent the Muslim) world, but it will have to wait for another time.