This morning I read an article by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, which attempted to highlight the ambiguity of Islam’s interpretations, and its subsequent unavoidable by-proxy association with extremism. The article’s inference that Islam is the cause of islamist extremism cannot be denied, although I do have an aversion to the idea of Islam being the ultimate cause. It seemed that my own past, which has been devoid of islamic indoctrination, could have been swayed onto the path of extremism if I had met with sympathetic recruitment.
If in my late adolescence, when I was desperately raging against my disfranchisement, someone had promised me my utopia, and offered an informed means to achieve it, I would have found it very hard to resist its engagement. Likewise, now that I’m journeying into lonely old fartdom, it probably would not take much effort for a tangible promise of companionship to sway me onto another path. Though, this last example may not drive forth ideas of extremism, it seems the fantasy of promise and the actuality of manipulation can promote any desired response in any individual.
The extremist, the moderate, and the indifferent’s perception are all manipulated in much the same way. It is well-known to the psychologist, and the advertising executive, that human perception equates to only a small proportion of all the objective information that is available to the senses. This relatively impoverished information is significant because it is all we have to construct reality. If an unbalanced proportion of that impoverished information consists of bias; then it should come as no surprise that bias becomes significant to the point of perverting reality.
The real danger is surrounding ourselves with those who confirm and indulge in the fantasy. I would assume a lone fantasist may become frustrated. However, the confirmation of a complicit fantasist threatens greater actualisation. This may be fine if we are considering the generality of love, but dogmatic ideology seems less predictable in its consequences. I have no idea how prevalent islamism is in the homes of Muslims, just the same as I have no idea how prevalent fascistic politics are in the homes of the non-Muslim. I do not particularly want to know. I can only hope that if rejection of dogma isn’t leading the thinking, then it is altruism and progress.
Check out this excellent blog post about the construction of enemies.