- Politics and Social Issues
Trump and ISIS are not very different
Trump : a caricature of modern culture
I am never surprised after hearing any of Trump's historical moments, including his stance on Muslims. It's always a natural extension and culmination of all his "effort" so far. Nice choice too, the monotonic beat and the simple direct melody is exactly the reflection of the world we live in today. In this sense, Trump is a caricature of oversimplifications and easy-fixes inherent in today's culture. And with the rise of the nationalistic sentiment in the world,we see that Trump is just a symptom of a larger disease we may call Trumpism. I will attempt a diagnosis of this terrible virus and show that it's just a different mutation of the ISIS virus.
The Muslim as a complex character
Let's start by asking a simple question : what do we mean when we say "Bob is a Christian"? Well, hard to say really. He can be anything from Flanders to the lead singer of Slayer. Or he may spend his past time shooting abortion clinics to "save lives" because that's what Jesus would have done. In short, the adjective "Christian" is not enough to define the complex and usually contradictory carbon-based life forms we call humans. But for some reason people who suffer from Trumpism believe that the phrase "Ahmed is Muslim" gives you detailed psychological insights into the personality of Ahmed. In novelist terms they see Ahmed as a flat, predictable character and Bob as round character that is interacting, capable of change and most importantly where different ideas are in constant flux and battle.
Trump and ISIS meet : adjectives of destruction
But why this flattening of Ahmed? It's an illusion based on distance and perspective. When you are standing sideways and far enough, you'll see a cylinder as a straight line. And if the Media shows only that perspective, soon the third dimension of the cylinder becomes virtually non existent. This is why if a person knows a Muslim personally, they are less likely to have that flat perspective. They got closer and can see the cylinders, that is to say Muslims, with their complexity and variations in colors, shapes and extra dimensions. This illusion of distance is contagious, usually we invent expressions to create it. ISIS uses the term Infidel to group and separate everyone who's not a part of its agenda. And the Trumpists do the same thing by separating "The Muslims". The danger in an ideology starts when we reduce people to simple descriptive words. A simple adjective that provides the necessary incentive while keeping the simplicity that prevents thinking and questioning. It is an Orwellian reduction of language. A mantra of destruction.
What about the Qu'ran ?
But isn't the Quran a mantra of destruction too? What about the infamous "Quran 9:5" and the other numerous verses inciting to kill the infidels? Isn't that the same dangerous reduction? Yes and no. The whole "Islamic world" should be seen as a dynamic interplay of different ideologies where the textualists, that is to say people who adhere to the text fully and blindly, are a minority. The text provides, ideally, a framework for a continuous dialogue. There's certainly a lot of progress to be made in Islamic countries to wipe the dust off the old interpretations and follow some progressive scholars who are in touch with the world today. But at any case, It's misleading to see the Muslim as a mindless reflection of a literal interpretation of the religious text. Usually he just wants to live peacefully and watch his favorite Sunday game. What about ISIS ? Well, pinpointing a direct cause for ISIS is tricky, of course religion provides some kind of incentive, but it has been argued that Paul Bremer is more influential in the rise of ISIS than Muhammed. At any rate, raising the finger and pointing at the average Ahmed is not helping and may actually turn him into the monster you wrongly accuse him to be.
To further illustrate the point this video below of the Quran experiment shows that a lot of otherwise decent human beings can be prejudiced against the book. But the reaction when they find out that it's the Bible gives us the glimmer of hope that someday we'll all accept each other as complete human beings, with the flaws and harmless contradictions that come with the package.