For ten years Arkanuddin Yasin was a little known Islamic preacher in Kenya working for an also little known pan-Islamic political organization called Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT). Yesterday, he and his organization attracted lots more attention by calling on young Muslims throughout Africa to join the fight against the U.S. bombing the Levant.
Kenya has a vibrant, active press. This was not a top news story. Imagine how many more Arkanuddin Yassins there are in Africa much less the rest of the world.
There is a thin line between religious or ideological beliefs and armed revolution. We see it nearly every week at home in America. Cliven Bundy made it onto the national evening news, but there are hundreds more of his kind every single day.
The schism between Islam and Christianity is ancient, but it hasn’t really been elevated to all out war since the end of the Ottoman Empire with World War I. That’s changed. Just as vigilantes on the Texan border have illegally taken over much of the border patrol, there.
It’s not just illegal, but it’s wrong the way ISIS has taken over large swaths of the Levant. It’s not just illegal, but it’s wrong the way Cliven Bundy and the Vigilante Patriots fire their weapons at will.
But the response by the powerful to these groups’ illegal and often immoral actions has made things worse in several ways.
The first mistake by authorities is providing outright support. This is as obviously immoral as the actions the authorities purport to interdict. It includes Saudi princes sending millions if not billions of dollars to jihadists. And in the same vein it includes giving the Vigilante Patriots not-for-profit tax status.
The second mistake is providing tacit support. We learned today that ISIS is earning several millions of dollars daily by selling oil from fields it won in war. Who’s buying this oil? Don’t think it’s so obvious. We know from decades of black market precious metals in Rwanda and The Congo that the principal buyers were Apple and Motorola.
One could argue that poorly managed global capitalism is the second mistake.
The third mistake is over reacting. This occurs in big ways and small ways: It’s the reaction of the U.S. to 9/11 and Kenyan police “roundup” of suspects in Nairobi’s Eastleigh neighborhood following the Westgate bombing.
Overreaction might be understandable but it’s too reactionary to be helpful, and like grade schoolers, we should be taught to contain our emotions. It does nothing but fuel the flames.
There is also the over reaction of getting involved when it’s none of your business. It’s very hard for we Americans to watch someone beheaded on TV without responding, but the fact is that beheadings in Saudi Arabia are common and summary. So how come we’re not bombing Saudia Arabia?
Over reaction is also cowering in fear for no good reason. It’s sending the Dubuque city police to guard the Mississippi river bridge after 9/11. It’s cutting funding for libraries to give the police department armed personnel carriers. It is invading Iraq.
The reason Saudia Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and by the way, Israel, are not fighting alongside the U.S. right now is because their borders haven’t been violated. The reason Iraqis ran from the fight is because there really aren’t Iraqis: Their society has never been formed well enough since we Americans blew it to smithereens.
It’s time to call off the hounds. It’s not an easy thing to do, but how many times do we have to fail trying to do more and ending up making things worse?