Month: June 2015
Myths of Radicalisation
Frank Furedi has a piece up in Spike.
Reports that three sisters from Bradford and their nine children are on their way to Syria show that British Muslims inspired to make the journey potentially to join the Islamic State are no longer unusual or unique individuals. Likewise, the response to the reports shows how bewildered and confused many now are when confronted with the so-called radicalisation of fellow members of society.
The very language used to discuss the sisters’ preference for life in Syria over life in Britain betrays a complete lack of comprehension of the social and cultural dynamics at work. Bradford West MP Naz Shah, who spoke with the families of the sisters, stated, ‘I asked them if there was any indication [as to what the sisters were planning to do], and they said, absolutely not – it was a shock to them, it came out of the blue’. That it always comes ‘out of the blue’ is testimony to a failure to understand the cultural chasm that separates the world of many young Muslims from mainstream society.
Others report that the women came from a ‘hardworking’ and ‘respectable’ family. Yet young people going to Syria invariably come from normal families. The fact that the parents’ respectability is remarked upon at all shows that commentators are fixated on a non-existent pathology…
..What Clarke identified was a symptom of a far more profound and difficult problem. Young people do not turn into suicide bombers overnight or ‘out of the blue’, unless they can draw on cultural and political resources that affirm their decision. They draw support for their conviction that theirs is a cause worth fighting for from their everyday experience.
..The myth of grooming
Anglo-American societies have become so obsessed with child protection that they often interpret a variety of social problems through the prism of paedophilia. The idea of online grooming, for instance, has mutated into a fantasy used to explain every disturbing example of homegrown jihadism. The model of perfidious groomers seducing otherwise innocent young Muslims turns what is a struggle of ideas, a battle between ways of life, into a malevolent act of deception.
No doubt there are some clever online jihadists who are good at attracting the attention of would-be supporters. However, no one is forcing people to go online or to enter chatrooms or visit jihadist websites. Most of the time, it is the so-called vulnerable youth who, in the process of searching for answers, actively look for the ‘groomers’.
…In reality, the term radicalisation captures only part of the story. The sentiments and behaviours associated with radicalisation are more accurately expressed through terms like ‘alienation’ and ‘estrangement’. The sense of estrangement from, and resentment towards, society is logically prior to the radicalising message internalised by individuals. In Europe, the embrace of a radical Islamist ideology is preceded by a rejection of society’s Western culture. Invariably, such a rejection on the part of young jihadists also reflects a generational reaction against the behaviour and way of life of their parents.
This double alienation – from parent and society – is not unconnected to normal forms of generational estrangement. What we see here is a variant form of the generational gap, except that, in this instance, it has unusual and potentially very destructive consequences.
The embrace of radical Islam is underpinned by a twofold process: an attraction to new ideas and alternative ways of life, and a rejection of the status quo. The radicalisation thesis, however, one-sidedly emphasises the so-called groomers’ powers of attraction…
My own comment: They are not rejecting their parent’s values completely. They are embracing their “formal values”, while rejecting their “lived values”. The Islam their parents taught them almost certainly included Jihadist and anti-infidel elements that, taken literally and taken to their “logical conclusion”, lead to Jihad in Syria, if not in Britain itself. Their parents failed to teach them how they selectively follow this “ideal” and compromise with reality. And I do believe that Western education is also to blame in the sense that Western cultures emphasize authenticity and honesty and “being true to yourself” while rejecting the notion of saying one thing while doing another as undesirable. Sure, there are hypocrites in the West just as there are in the East, but some kids will take their education more seriously than others…this is a failure of hypocrisy … a crisis of hypocrisy is upon us.
Ajmal Kamal Reviews Alakh Nagri: The Babas who really run Pakistan (and the world)
This is Ajmal Kamal‘s brilliant review of Mumtaz Mufti’s autobiography “alakh nagri”. It was published in Adabi Duniya but I think it deserves publication in as many places as possible. Unfortunately, those who cannot read Urdu will not be able to enjoy it, but those who can should not miss it. The second half is even better than the first, so don’t stop halfway 🙂
for those who don’t know Urdu, it is impossible for me to translate this, but a little of what it is about and the background to the book:
Qudratullah Shahab was a senior Pakistani bureaucrat who also dabbled in literature (and in the management of literary figures on behalf of the Martial Law regime of Field Marshal Ayub Khan). He later wrote a self-serving and intensely “Paknationalist” autobiography that remains a bestseller in Pakistan until today (the last time I was at Karachi Airport, it was near the top of the list of books the airport bookstall guy mentioned as “current bestsellers”). He cultivated (or was cultivated by) a group of “mystical-Islamist-Paknationalist” writers including Ashfaq Ahmed, Bano Qudsia and Mumtaz Mufti and over time these people all wrote books and articles that hinted (or outright claimed) that the other members of the cabal were spiritually enlightened and possessed some mysterious knowledge about the inner (real) workings of the universe…workings in which the creation of Pakistan and its rise as an Islamic power were the central issue of the age. The workings of this particular brand of Paknationalism are briefly reviewed here. For more, see here and here….. and some positive and “inside” views as well as a few skeptical reviews here. (the skeptical reviews are rather far down the page).
Anyway, Alakh Nagri has a lot of stories about Qudratullah (and his disciples) and how they are moving the cause of Islam forward. Even when they act so strangely that observers claim “the bastard is dead drunk”. They are not drunk, they are being visited..
btw, a less toxic and more pragmatic version of this “mystical babas of Pakistan” tradition is now in the hands of Professor Rafique Akhtar, who is, among other things, the spiritual mentor of General Kiyani and the hero of best-selling columnist Javed Choudhry. Professor Rafique is not as completely bananas as the Qudratullah Shahab party but even a relatively sane person has his quirks…he reportedly claimed to Javed Choudhry that he had the key that unlocks the 12 hard drives of the Quran and therefore had access to ALL spiritual AND temporal knowledge, from astrophysics to astral projection. I am not kidding..it’s in Javed Ch’s book.
ممتاز مفتی کی ’’الکھ نگری‘‘ بلاشبہ ایک نہایت غیرمعمولی کتاب ہے ۔۔ کم و بیش اتنی ہی غیرمعمولی جتنا اس کا مصنف ہے یا اس کا موضوع۔ اسے ممتاز مفتی کی خودنوشت سوانح حیات کے دوسرے حصے کے طور پر شائع کیا گیا ہے۔ اس سوانح حیات کی پہلی جلد، جسے ’’علی پور کا ایلی‘‘ کا عنوان دیا گیا تھا،۱۹۶۰ء کے عشرے میں شائع ہوئی تھی۔ ’’ایلی‘‘ کو بڑی عجلت میں شائع کیا گیا تھا تاکہ یہ کتاب اس سال کے آدم جی ایوارڈ کی حقدار ہو سکے۔ سرورق پر ’’آدم جی انعام یافتہ‘‘ کی سرخی کے ساتھ اسے ناول کا باریک نقاب اُڑھایا گیا تھا کیونکہ نوبیل انعام کے اس مقامی نعم البدل کو غالباً خودنوشت سوانح عمریوں کی کوئی خاص پروا نہیں تھی۔ یہ الگ قصہ ہے کہ آخرکار جمیلہ ہاشمی کے ناول ’’تلاش بہاراں‘‘ کو اس اعزاز کا زیادہ مستحق سمجھا گیا۔ دونوں کتابوں کے درمیان مقابلہ نہایت ولولہ انگیز رہا ہو گا، کیونکہ ادبی معیارکے لحاظ سے دونوں ایک دوسرے کی ٹکر کی تھیں۔ کچھ بھی ہو، موقع ممتاز مفتی کے ہاتھ سے نکل گیا اور ’’ایلی‘‘ کو ایک ایسے ناول کے طور پر شہرت حاصل ہوئی جسے، بقول ابن انشا، آدم جی انعام نہیں ملا۔ اس کے باوجود ممتاز مفتی کو ان نک چڑھے نقادوں کی رائے سے متفق ہونے میں تیس برس کا عرصہ لگا جن کا خیال تھا کہ ’’ایلی‘‘ ناول نگاری کے تقاضے پورے نہیں کرتا۔ ۱۹۹۱ء میں شائع ہونے والے ایڈیشن میں آخرکار یہ انکشاف کیا گیا کہ دراصل ’’ایلی‘‘ ممتاز مفتی کی خودنوشت سوانح عمری کا پہلا حصہ تھا۔
Transgender surgery. A civil rights issue?
Dr McHugh doesnt think so, and he has just said so in the WSJ.
Yet policy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention. This intensely felt sense of being transgendered constitutes a mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken—it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.
The transgendered suffer a disorder of “assumption” like those in other disorders familiar to psychiatrists. With the transgendered, the disordered assumption is that the individual differs from what seems given in nature—namely one’s maleness or femaleness. Other kinds of disordered assumptions are held by those who suffer from anorexia and bulimia nervosa, where the assumption that departs from physical reality is the belief by the dangerously thin that they are overweight.
At the heart of the problem is confusion over the nature of the transgendered. “Sex change” is biologically impossible. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women. Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.
Dr. McHugh, former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, is the author of “Try to Remember: Psychiatry’s Clash Over Meaning, Memory, and Mind” (Dana Press, 2008).
What do you think?
I think some, very few, people have such severe gender dysphoria that they really should change their own gender identification to the opposite sex. i.e., I think there are (and have seen, though not managed) patients who, as children, are completely and totally unhappy about their gender. There are young boys who endlessly dream of being a girl and young girls who desperately want to be boys. I assume some of the same carries over into adult life. If gender dysphoria is powerful and persistent, why not allow them to live as the opposite gender?
But I also think any surgery is cosmetic and is not a medical necessity and should not be done to children. I realize that this is a bit of a muddled position. It’s a muddled topic. I am wary of surgery because it is so hard to reverse and is such a “physical” treatment for what is, after all, a psychological issue… a problem that the patient may think will be helped by surgery, but that the data (and the surgical procedures themselves) suggest is not cured by surgery in the sense of “no more problem”.
The SJW community is fully committed to this cause and it has mainstream liberal support. But I am not sure the SJW community has thought it through. Just as an example, the same community is committed to the belief that sex roles are social constructs, not biological. That leads to obvious difficulties with this topic.
Anyway, I think civil rights for people who do opt to live like the opposite gender is not a bad cause (everyone should be free to live as they please as long as they dont hurt others, etc), but surgery for children may be a step too far.
I am open to being converted, one way or the other 🙂