Kommentar

Hvordan omgås mennesker som har helt andre oppfatninger enn oss selv?

Fouad Ajami deltok i en session på the Washington Institute nylig. Tittelen sier sitt: «How to Win the Battle of Ideas in the Middle East». Ajami har det formelle i orden: director of the Middle East Studies Program at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Men hans status skyldes fremfor alt en evne til å skjære gjennom, og si ting selv om de kjennes som ubehagelige brudd på politisk etikette. Slik sier man da ikke! Dette er et tungt trekk ved det mediale Norge, og personlig synes jeg det politiske paradigmet som ser verden med flagellantenes blikk blir stadig sterkere. Det motsatt provoserer derfor enormt. USA har denne debatten writ large. Det er grovt sett to leire: den ene spør: De hater oss – vi har da ikke gjort dem noe? Den andre spør: hva har vi gjort siden de hater oss sånn?

Ajami tilhører den første. Han mener antiamerikanismen er USAs problem i den grad den gjenspeiler en konflikt på hjemmebane. I Midtøssten er den arabernes problem. De blir consumed av deres USA-hat, som egentlig er et weapon of mass-distraction, en avledningsmanøvre fra lederne. De spiller bevisst på USA-hatet. Ellers ville det blitt stanset for lenge siden.

We just don’t know the Arab world. We don’t know these characters. We don’t know it when somebody is speaking to us. We don’t know what he says when he’s not speaking to us.

I’ll give you an example: Some of you may be familiar with a newspaper called al-Hayat. Al-Hayat, as we know, is owned by Prince Khalid bin Sultan, one of the House of Saud. Al-Hayat engages in the most malignant anti-Americanism, anti-modernism, and anti-Semitism.

So, when we look at al-Hayat, what people say in al-Hayat, the people who write in al-Hayat, they’re not going to come and volunteer to you their anti-Americanism and their anti-modernism. They are not going to do it. Why should they do you that favor? They practice a doctrine that I call the doctrine of taqiya or dissimulation, i.e., double-speak. They will engage in this double-speak, and they will get away with it. And we just don’t know them all that well. We don’t follow them all that well, and I think it’s a dilemma that we have.

The anti-Americanism in the Arab world is the anti-Americanism the ruling elites wink at, permit, and use; wink at, permit, and use and ride to power.

My hero, not an Arab in this setting, is none other than Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who had the doctrine called «for the people, despite the people.» Sometimes you have to give the people modernism. You have to tell them the truth about their condition.

Det er en splittelse i den vestlige verden, der en del er opptatt av/dyrker en skyldfølelse overfor mennesker fra andre kulturer: skyldfølelse for høy materiell levestandard, for kolonialisme, utbytting, handelsforhold, etc. Mens en annen del ikke liker denne skyldfølelsen, og reagerer på ulikt vis. Det er en splittelse som kan gå tvers gjennom mennesker.

Det interessant er at vi internaliserer de andres fortellinger: og får med en masse double-talk på kjøpet. Det blir rene labyrinten, umulig å komme ut av.

Ajami sier: Vær ærlig, mot deg selv og andre. Vis dem den respekten.

Ajami bruker den kjente imamen Yusuf al-Qaradawi som eksempel: Han som utstedte en fatwa om at det var OK å drepe sivile amerikanere.

Ambassador Ginsberg asked a question about what can we do. That’s a good question. I’ll give you one case, which was very interesting — Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who issued the fatwa [ruling] that it is permissible to kill Americans. Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, by the way, makes his home in Qatar. But he’s Egyptian, as many of the Muslim Brothers and these preachers are Egyptians. Egypt is the home of a lot of this. So, when Yusuf al-Qaradawi said what he said, the best response came to him from a liberal, enlightened Saudi, a courageous man by the name of Abdul Rahman al-Rashid, the editor-in-chief of al-Arabiyya and former editor-in-chief of al-sharq al-Awsat. What he said was «Shame on you, Sheik al-Qaradawi. Your kids are going to school in the west» — his daughter is in England; his son is in Florida — «and yet you issue these fatwas?!? You live in Qatar, the home of the Central Command, and then you issue these kinds of fatwas?!?» And that’s when these liberals joined the battle and said, «You can’t issue these fatwas. Who are you to issue these fatwas?»

So, I think where we err is when say, in our innocence, that the answer to the bad imam is the good imam. I don’t want to get involved in this kind of battle. I don’t want the U.S. involved in this, because maybe there will be people who will say the answer to a bad imam is a life of the secular path. And we shouldn’t be going around looking for people, anointing them, and saying «You represent the true Islam,» because we don’t know. After all, we may like this fatwa, but we won’t like the fatwa after this fatwa. And we won’t be around monitoring that fatwa.

Her synes jeg Ajami kommer inn på noe viktig: at ingen vet hvordan en fremtidig islam vil se ut. Det avhenger av tusen ting, indre og ytre, og det er tåpelig å antyde noen grenser.

Det er muslimenes kamp først og fremst, sier Ajami. Men for å forstå hva som skjer er det viktig å følge med.

So, it is their battle. We can help. We can also make sure we don’t get deluded. That’s why I think it’s very important to keep monitoring what people say. You have to monitor them. It’s very difficult. It’s very expensive. It’s very costly. We don’t have the linguists. We don’t have the training. We don’t have the skills. We can’t understand the language of winks, when people wink at one another. We’re not good at it. That’s why it is fundamentally their battle.

Der fikk han frem et viktig poeng: vi må følge med for ikke å bli deluded, ført bak lyset. Frankly er ikke det noe som ser ut til å bekymre norske medier.

Til sist kommer han inn på noe som virkelig gjør ham bekymret: At folk i dag sier ting som er helt hinsides fornuften eller logikk; utenfor årsak og virkning, som han kaller det. Det er også introdusert et slikt irrasjonalitetens element i vår debatt, og det møter svak motstand. Faren er at fordi man ikke er årvåken og analyserer, vil man reagerer med samme irrasjonalitet en dag. Kanskje.
Eller kulturen går under.

There is something in the world that I think is more important than politics, and this is beginning to become, for me, the fundamental problem about the lands of the Arab world today, and that’s why I began with the remarks of Ali Salem. It’s about cause and effect. That’s what I’m concerned about. It’s not what they say about America. It’s not what they say about Israel. It’s not what they say about Jews and neocons. It’s not what they say about everyday about Doug Feith and Paul Wolfowitz. It’s about cause and effect.

People are now beginning to say things in the Arab world about the material, objective world in which they live, which violate the principle of cause and effect. People are saying things in violation of the rules of reason, things that they knew in the 1920s and the ’30s about there being a scientific culture. People no longer are saying things that acknowledge the material world. And the connection between A and B, cause and effect, this deed and that deed, this is really where things are become dicey and dangerous.

And so, when I look for things to monitor in the Arab world today, they have nothing to do with anti-Americanism, about which I’ve written a long piece. I recommend to you. It is in Foreign Policy Magazine, called the Falseness of Anti-Americanism. What I look for now is the question of cause and effect, the basis for modern life. The thing that gets me completely bewildered, [are people who deny cause and effect yet] who are very practical in every other way: about their money, about their servants, about their life, about their cars and so on. But then they say the most amazing things. And they send the gullible on the most incredible errands.

That’s why Abdul Rahman Al-Rashid was heroic when he told Qaradawi «Hey, you say these outlandish things, but your kids are in England and America. And you are living in a benign country called Qatar and doing well. How could you speak this way?» That’s the dilemma. It’s not about what the Arabs owe America, and even it’s not even about what the Arabs owe Israel. That’s a different story. I concern myself with this only in a partial, marginal way. It’s about what the Arabs owe themselves by way of describing the daily life they live on a daily basis, when they wake up in the morning and describe their universe. And, believe me, in all my travels in the Arab world — I actually go to Egypt, to Saudi Arabia, to Kuwait, to Iraq — every single Arab I respect, man and woman, every single one of them tells me that the battle for cause and effect, the battle to establish the modernist basis of life, is what’s at stake in the Arab world today. And they all know that. . . .

«How to Win the Battle of Ideas in the Middle East»
November 10, 2004