Another tack: The chicken or the egg?

Did Syria radicalize Muslims from Europe or did they head for Syria precisely because they were radical to begin with?

THE GERMAN AMERICAN BUND parade on NYC’s East 86th St., on October 30, 1939. (photo credit: JERUSALEM POST ARCHIVE)
THE GERMAN AMERICAN BUND parade on NYC’s East 86th St., on October 30, 1939.
Britain is gobsmacked. Its TV screens feature seemingly stricken Muslim parents, from urban hubs like Cardiff, denying any responsibility for or knowledge of their sons’ escapades in bleeding Syria.
Their moaning is indispensable to a novel storyline that’s fast gaining resonance in Europe’s insincere political- correctness and Orwellian Newspeak. It’s subtle but nevertheless significant. It’s about “Europeans who have been to Syria,” who have emerged therefrom somehow tainted with extremism and might thereby become, a tad unexpectedly, dangerous.
Yes, a newfangled brand of terrorist seems to have suddenly surfaced in Europe’s pleasant lands but polished European manners prohibit us from characterizing him as Arab or Muslim.
This serves to clear the numerous Islamic radicals who are proliferating throughout the continent. The problem has thus been instantly dwarfed and quasi-sanitized. It involves only specific numbers of Syrian civil war combatants/ veterans, now identified broadmindedly, only by whichever European passport they carry.
Hence, conforming intuitively to the latest politically- correct diktats, news outlets worldwide had reported the attack on the Brussels Jewish Museum was perpetrated by “a Frenchman.” Presumably by regurgitating the same approach, correspondents everywhere couldn’t as much as get the victim-count right.
But who cares about dead Jews? It’s the rights of living Muslims that postmodern multiculturalism must uphold.
And so the perpetrator was described solely as French – not as an ethnic Arab with dual Algerian and French citizenship. Europe’s escalating Islamic fanaticism is expediently skipped over, disregarded, perhaps even imperceptibly camouflaged and condoned.
We’re left with just one niggling, nettlesome, negligible unresolved question. What impels supposed generic Europeans to go to Syria in the first place? What motivates their voluntary exposure to jihadist zealotry? If Europe’s expanding and increasingly aggressive Muslim presence is to be cleansed of any hint of culpability, we need to know what prompted unconscripted young men to enlist in the service of a holy war far away.
Without exerting indolent postmodern intellects too excessively, it ought to be readily recognized that we face a classic chicken or egg dilemma here. Did Syria radicalize Muslims from Europe or did they head for Syria precisely because they were radical to begin with? The blame-it-on-Syria cop-out is simply too facile for serious consideration. It fits hand-in-glove with the inclination to shower abundant moral-relativist goodwill on all cultures and religions. It behooves freethinking progressive sorts to regard them all – especially those exuding third-world allure – with humanitarian tolerance, no matter how much intolerance and inhumanity some creeds radiate.
Focusing on the visceral hate they disseminate is illiberal and therefore not to be countenanced in respectable society.
The West doesn’t merely limit its vision with self-applied blinkers. It puts on the psychosocial equivalent of virtual-reality eyewear that immerses the mind in an imaginary reality. Sensory and empirical evidence becomes irrelevant. We can, for example, view the Arab world’s internecine slaughter as a grassroots uprising.
We can arbitrarily choose sides (as in a computer game) and decide without any context (and often in flagrant defiance of context) who’s good and who’s bad.
With such goggles, westerners engrossed themselves in their own multimedia simulations and concluded that an Arab Spring had blossomed forth. Its offshoots included the Syrian conflict between all-around evil combatants. The Arab world, the chanted mantra reiterated, is ripe for democratization. It’s the people’s will.
Predictably, dissenting evaluations were denigrated as mean-spirited nay-saying.
Now of course it suits the same one-dimensional opinion- molders to point to Syria’s supposed insurgents as the source of a surprising contagion sweeping over Europe, for which Europeans have nothing to atone.
This is part and parcel of the aforementioned facile copout.
All the indicators were right there, in plain sight but European eyes refused to zoom in.
Muslim atrocities on Europe’s soil preceded the flocking of European-resident Arabs/Muslims to jihad’s cause in Syria. The high priests of political-correctness frown on our connecting the dots of all these incidents, but let’s violate their niceties and recall the bombings of public transit in Madrid (2004) and London (2005), the 2004 assassination of Theo van Gogh, the 2006 abduction and murder by sadistic torture of Ilan Halimi, the riots triggered by a Danish cartoon, the Paris rampages and the near-beheading of a British soldier a year ago in the heart of the British capital to the shrieked battle-cry of allahu akbar.
There’s plenty more but none of it can be ascribed to the Syrian infestation – not even the callous shooting of a Jewish teacher, his two toddler sons and a small girl at Toulouse’s Jewish school two years ago.
That said, all this and the noxious incitement in all too many mosques all across Europe aren’t disconnected from Syria and the big picture of the misnamed Arab Spring.
Had Europeans not averted their pluralist gaze from Muslim belligerence on their own turf, they’d have grasped that Western indulgence and enlightened refinement cannot be replicated on the Arab/Muslim scene. At play are antithetical mindsets – diametric and irreconcilable opposites.
It was tempting to claim that Arabs and other Muslims would naturally espouse democracy had they only been freed from oppression. It’s still tempting to ascribe all the many ills in Arab societies to the evil of despots like Bashar Assad, Muammar Gaddafi and even to the much milder Hosni Mubarak. But if that were so, why is there no democratic ethos among the host of Arab/Muslim communities that burgeon in even the unlikeliest corners of western Europe? According to trendy tenets, being removed from tyranny and surrounded by civil liberties, the migrants and their descendants would see the light and, unshackled, would move away from xenophobia and world-domination ambitions.
Not only has this not occurred but the reverse has taken hold. This gives the lie to notions that lack of democracy in the Arab world dooms it to benighted brutality. This is as patently false as were claims that Germans had been coerced to do the Nazis’ bidding. In fact they enthusiastically supported Hitler even from afar, even from where they were ostensibly safe from his predations.
Transplanted Germans promoted Nazism voluntarily and wholeheartedly in the Templar colonies of pre-state Israel even during WWII. Eventually the British Mandate authorities had no choice but to deport all the local-born Germans to Australia because they actively subverted the Allied war effort and abetted the Third Reich enemy.
Among their undertakings was providing munitions and Nazi finances to Haj Amin al-Husseini in order to bolster and bankroll his “great Arab Revolt” of 1936-39.
He later spent most of WWII as Hitler’s personal guest in Berlin where he recruited Muslim SS volunteers, cheered on the Holocaust and made sure that Hungarian Jewry would not be spared even in the war’s last months.
A similar scenario unfolded in the US, where newcomers from Germany (significantly allowed into America, while refugee Jews running for their lives were barred) organized in the pro-Nazi Bund, disseminated propaganda (virulently anti-Semitic), held marches and sponsored anti-Jewish boycotts on American soil. They were Nazis with American citizenship.
In 1933, German Nazi Party member Heinz Spanknöbel merged two forerunner outfits in America – Gau- USA and the Free Society of Teutonia – into The Friends of New Germany. This was done with the explicit support of Nazi deputy führer Rudolf Hess and the German consul in New York. The FBI regarded the Friends as a Nazi front. It was popular among German-Americans and hardly constituted a no-account curio. In time, Spanknöbel was deported back to Germany.
Then, in March 1936, the AV – German American Bund (Amerikadeutscher Volksbund) was set up in Buffalo, NY, to win hearts for Nazi Germany. It elected a German- born American, Fritz Julius Kuhn, as its chief (Bundesführer). Concurrently, the Bund established 24 training camps throughout the US, including Camp Nordland in Andover, NJ; Camp Bergwald, in Bloomingdale, NJ; Camp Siegfried in Yaphank, NY; Camp Highland in Windham, NY; Camp Von Steuben in Danbury, Connecticut and Camp Hindenburg in Grafton, Wisconsin.
The Bund held rallies with Nazi insignia and rituals such as the Hitler salute. It lashed out against then-president Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jewish associations, communists, “Moscow-lackey” trade unions and American boycotts of German goods. The Bund claimed loyalty to America, which was cynically expressed by hoisting the Stars and Stripes at Bund events and celebrating George Washington as “the first fascist.”
Kuhn and fellow Bund hotshots attended the 1936 Summer Olympics in Germany. That afforded Kuhn the opportunity to tour the Reich Chancellery, where he posed for photo-ops with Hitler.
The pinnacle of Bund success was its February 20, 1939 extravaganza at Madison Square Garden. No less than 40,000 German-American supporters cheered exultantly as Kuhn lambasted FDR, referring to him throughout as “Frank D. Rosenfeld,” dubbing his New Deal the “Jew Deal,” and shouting at the top of his lungs that America was under a Bolshevik-Jewish thumb.
Not only that – Bund boosters viciously beat up protesters outside Madison Square Garden.
Following the Nazi Party’s own regional administrative subdivisions, the Bund carved up the US into the three Gaue (regions): Gau Ost (East), Gau West, and Gau Midwest. Together these three had 69 Ortsgruppen (local subgroups). Gau Ost alone had 40 (17 of them in New York), Gau West had 10 and Gau Midwest 19. Each Gau had its own leader, a Gauleiter as per Nazi parlance, and staff to oversee Bund activities in keeping with the Führerprinzip (Hitler’s principles).
Such avid support for Nazism in both British and American domains decisively debunks the deception of dictatorial coercion to collaborate. Again it’s the chicken or the egg. Did stormtroopers terrorize Germans into compliance or did Germans create the Nazi monster? Are Arabs/Muslims terrorized by their tyrants or did they create these monstrous tyrannies? The answer can only be sought in situations where the purportedly coerced collaborators are free from coercion.
Their behavior in democratic settings is the touchstone.
It’s the ultimate test and today’s Muslim populations in Europe – like their German counterparts in prestate Israel and in prewar America – plainly don’t pass the test. In fact, they flunk it with flying colors.
Calling them “Europeans who have been to Syria” doesn’t change this one jot.
Debunking the Bull, Sarah Honig’s book, was recently published by Gefen.