Ralph Peters’s non-Islam theory of Islamic extremism—it’s about spoiled brats

Daniel S. writes:

I know you like to collect the assorted non-Islam theories of Islamic extremism and jihad terrorism, so I thought Ralph Peters’s latest thesis might interest you:

Most of our home-grown Islamist terrorists hail from middle-class families—such monsters as Maj. Hasan or the Virginia virgin-chasers under arrest in Pakistan (where jail conditions are a lot worse than at Guantanamo—can’t we just leave ‘em there?)

This isn’t a revolt of the wretched of the earth. These terrorists are the Muslim-fanatic versions of Bill Ayers and the Weathermen, pampered kids unhappy with the world. Al Qaeda’s big guns are rebelling against privilege. There’s a lot of Freud in this fundamentalism.

Spoiled brats remade their god in their own vengeful image. And we have to kill them. This one really is a zero-sum game.

So, in the mind of Peters, anti-Western jihad terrorism is merely the revolt of spoiled rich kids. Notice how he disconnects “home grown” (i.e. immigrant) Muslim terrorism from the wider jihad struggle that spans from North Africa to the Balkans to Central Asia to South-East Asia, which clearly aren’t being motivated by an excess of wealth or Ivy League educations. Also note the lack of any historical context. The Muslim ummah (nation) has been waging jihad against the West\Christendom since the time of Muhammad and the Battle of Mu’tah.

Exactly why is a lunatic like Ralph Peters take seriously by conservatives?

LA replies:

My first response is, the Peters column is not as bad as that. His “spoiled kids” point comes near the end of the piece and is not really what the piece is about. Before he gets to that point, he says that Islam is the source of the thing that threatens us, so that’s good. Unfortunately, he then makes that point incoherent by throwing in the spoiled kids idea. Which is exactly what mainstream Islam critics do. Even when they gather their loins and declare that Islam is the problem, they cannot stay with that statement, and immediately add some twist (spoiled rich kids) that contradicts the idea that Islam is the problem.

Peters shows a complete absence of any intellectual knowledge of or interest in Islam’s actual teachings. In his mind, it all comes down to some personal/neurotic problem. Which is also pretty much the way the equally laughably overrated Victor David Hanson explains both leftism and jihadism.

Dan S. replies:

His incoherence is one of his major problems (his nasty attitude and name calling is the other). He moves from one side of the spectrum to the other and then back again. At one moment he is trashing Robert Spencer and Andrew Bostom and saying that the Bible is equally as violent in content as the Qur’an, then he comes out saying that Islam itself motivates terrorism and we have to stop being politically correct, but then muddies the water by offering some baseless pseudo-Freudian explanation for jihad terrorism. Combine this with his demeanor in his media interviews and I must confess that the man strikes me as something of an unstable sort (intellectually and emotionally).

But the reason I singled out that quote is that I have seen it before offered by other conservatives as a non-Islamic theory for Islamic terrorism (and Peters has a long history of intellectual dishonesty on this issue). Peters, while acknowledging the truth about Islam, still will not embrace it entirely and thus resorts to non-Islamic theories to explain the phenomenom of the anti-Western jihad that are devoid of any historical or theological context. This clouds everything else that he had said earlier in the article.

Is Peters finally changing? Mugged by reality, as Robert Spencer today suggested? Possibly, and I hope he does abandon his assorted fantasies about Islam and the Muslim world, but I don’t know that this is the case and considering his lack of a coherent, intellectual center I don’t have high hopes. I expect that he will pull close to the truth in a state of righteous indignation about the recent attack (as he has done before), only to pull back from it at a later point and\or attack others for stating that same position that he elaborated. (You wrote about some of this here.).

As with Mark Steyn and John Derbyshire, I cannot take Ralph Peters seriously and believe him to have no credibility on this issue (though I’ll grant Peters that he has more sincerity then either of those two).

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 30, 2009 12:31 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):