Warning Labels: which one would you pick?

by Hesperado on January 23, 2011

in counterjihad, Hesperado (team member), Islam

warning label 1

warning label 2

By Hesperado

Readers of my blog (The Hesperado) know what my answer is to this question: obviously not the milder and more lenient warning label above. Unfortunately, there continue to be many even within the anti-Islam movement who tend to gravitate toward the milder warning label.

One reader of my blog a couple of years ago proposed an interesting analogy, which inspired me to write this essay. That analogy involved warning labels on foods, and the logic of such labels:

An analogy: A package labeled “Cereal” that contains mostly edible bits but also contains some toxic bits is more dangerous than a package containing the exact same mixture that is labeled “Danger! Toxic!”

Indeed, to all who can read, a package that contains 100% toxic material and is labeled as such is safer, by virtue of the warning label, than a package labeled “Cereal” that contains a lower percentage of the same toxin. (The latter is more likely to cause injury or death).

To which I responded:

Excellent analogy. The force of your analogy is further strengthened by two features of the “cereal” in question, Islam:

1) The systemically coherent nature of Islam, by which parts cohere unto the whole to a sufficient degree to be systemic. Robert Spencer, for example, seems to disagree that Islam is a systemic whole to a sufficient degree—else why would he bring up the exculpatory “millions of Muslims who are not interested in, or even aware of, the jihadist agenda”, and why did he affirm in no uncertain terms that he is “not ‘anti-Islam’ ” and that he is “not anti-Muslim”?. Spencer seems to subscribe to the notion that there is no Islam there, only multiple spheres, no one of which is coherent enough to be aggregately condemned: hence, in the Spencerian model, there is no box of cereal per se, and any attempt to apply a warning label to “Islam” is plain wrong (if not immoral perhaps in the context of his Christian humanism).

If even Robert Spencer may well be chary of affixing the bolder warning label onto Islam, it is no wonder that other analysts in the still inchoate anti-Islam movement (still inchoate in part because there is no consensus to be… anti-Islam!) are similarly, to one degree or another, soft on Islam—either dissolving the problem such that there is no Islam per se (only “extremists”), or truncating the problem into more palatably correct bite-sized chunks of extremist Isms (e.g., “Wahabbism” or “Qutbism” or the currently fashionable “Salafism”), while sparing from condemnation Islam qua Islam in its entirety with its billion plus enablers.

The soft approach (which may be called “Counter-Jihad Lite”) I maintain is perilously counter-productive—for it tends to lay the groundwork, on a theoretical analytical level, to reinforce the disinclination to use the more robust warning label. If we are reluctant to apply the stronger warning label, how then would that reluctance translate concretely in terms of our policy with regard to the dangers posed by Muslims inspired by Islam?

2) With Islam, we cannot tell (to continue the box of cereal analogy) which spoonful, or which box, is non-toxic, and which is toxic. It’s the same with any food product about which there is a general warning. When, for example, a few e-coli cases happen, the USDA shuts down all beef production and/or distribution for a time in order to sort out the problem & threat. The vast majority of beef products during such shut-downs are “innocent”—but, because the USDA doesn’t know which are harmless and which are toxic, they act on the pragmatic assumption to err on the safe side, and assume all are equally toxic.

In this perilous circumstance we find ourselves in today, what possible concrete relevance, then, does the protestation of Robert Spencer and others that there are “millions of Muslims who are not interested in, or even aware of, the jihadist agenda”? That would be like a consumer activist who otherwise spends all of his time documenting the dangerously lax standards of the beef industry also, out of the other side of his mouth, saying with reference to a beef shut-down to protect consumers, that there are “millions of beef products that are completely safe”. What’s the point in saying that, when there are times and situations when you have to treat ALL beef as a potential threat?

A second reader added:

[Hesperado] hits the nail right on the head when he points out that whenever there are problems with food items, be it beef, spinach, cauliflower or anything else, either all beef is quarantined, or all spinach from a certain maker is quarantined: nobody makes the argument of how a majority of the food in question is harmless.

To which I must add this caveat:

Only one problem remains, however. As is well known, “analogiae claudicant”—i.e., analogies are all imperfect in some way, if only because they by necessity cannot avoid being different, to one degree or another, from the thing they are illustrating.

The way that Islam differs from the cereal (or the recalled food) in the food warning label analogy is that Islam is sufficiently complex to allow people to exploit fudge factors by which there is no Islam there, per se, to target in a coherently comprehensive way (you know the mantra: “Islam is not monolithic; it is wonderfully diverse”). The exploiters of these fudge factors try to particularize the problem into more manageable and PC-palatable bite-sized chunks (the “tiny minority of extremists”) rather than the Whole Enchilada.

It is becoming direly imperative that we ask ourselves the questions: What is our enemy? Who are our enemies? Merely a minority (tiny or slightly less tiny) of extremists? Or is it Islam itself, the whole Islam, and nothing but Islam—and all Muslims who enable Islam?

Then that last phrase—”all Muslims who enable Islam”—logically arouses further rhetorical questions: How many Muslims don’t enable Islam? Where are they? How do we identify them? And even if we located some, how would we know they are not trying to deceive us?

Further Reading:

Readers of this essay might be interested in the very long and detailed discussion and debate that ensued in the comments thread between myself and the two readers mentioned above, after I originally published a somewhat different version of this same essay back in April of 2008.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 1389 January 23, 2011 at 9:33 pm

There is another reason why people these days refuse to put a name to the evil that is Islam: we all have been told over and over by our politically-correct self-appointed overlords how terrible a thing it is to be ‘judgmental.’

In other words, they (who are truly our enemies), in true Orwellian fashion, seek to deny us the right to use our own faculties of perception and cognition.

It is a gross distortion of Christianity to turn the reluctance to pass judgment on another person’s spiritual state into a refusal to condemn false teachings and a willingness to condone evil deeds. According to the Bible, that is not the way the Apostles dealt with false teachings or evil deeds.

See: Why modern liberals are 100% wrong about everything.

2 Always On Watch January 24, 2011 at 11:13 am

I guess that I’m hardcore as I approve the first label more than the second label.

One of the biggest advantages Moslems have over the West: Moslems are committed to their cause.

The West, for its part, isn’t sure of its core beliefs anymore.

Now, some of us are indeed sure of our core Western beliefs. But our leaders? Nope. Too many of them are trying to sing kumbaya with those sworn to our destruction.

3 Bob Dixon September 8, 2011 at 7:23 am

You’re are all nuts

4 Bob Dixon September 8, 2011 at 7:25 am

the bankers are destroying America, not muslims.

5 1389 September 8, 2011 at 8:20 am

The problem with the banks is only a symptom of what is destroying America, namely the leftist/pro-Islam axis. There is considerable Muslim ownership in our financial institutions. Maybe that’s why the federal grabbermint was so intent on bailing them out. They should have been allowed to fail.

6 1389 September 8, 2011 at 8:20 am

So is your grammar.

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