My autobiography relating to "waking up" to the problem of Islam
Prior to 911, I did not take much notice of Islam. I was peripherally intrigued by "oriental" literature set amorphously in various Islamic ambiances -- mainly the fiction and travelogues of 19th century writers Théophile Gautier, Pierre Loti, and Gustave Flaubert, as well as the literally fabulous 1,001 Arabian Nights (most of which I pored through in its first Western translation, into French (Les Mille et Une Nuits), by the French Orientalist whose career straddled the 17th and 18th centuries, Antoine Galland) -- but part of the fascination was its far-fetched quality, both in space and in time: who knew such fanatical ardor and atavistic violence would make a concerted comeback in the 21st century? (Well, a few souls who knew Islam well predicted something like an Islam Redivivus: e.g., Snouck Hurgronje, even with his preposterous idealism about Muslims; and more grimly lucid, Hilaire Belloc.)
I recall in about 1999, nosing around in recondite books and dictionaries in the college library, my surprise when I saw essentially the same word for "foreigner" -- ferengi -- in an old Siamese-English dictionary and in a modern Kurdish dictionary. I recalled at the time from previous history classes that there was historically an "Islamic corridor" running from the Pacific to the Atlantic (a "corridor" both geographic and cultural), though I was only dimly aware of the militant expansionism that made that possible, and even less aware (thanks to my Western education) of the colossal scale of the violence and intellectually stultifying supremacism perpetrated by Muslims following their Islamic blueprint over the centuries.
A blueprint that we see, to our increasing alarm, has remained virtually unchanged into our own century.
For the first year immediately following 911, I participated in a discussion forum dedicated to the philosopher Eric Voegelin, where the comments were abuzz with the incident and its aftermath, as well as another philosophy discussion forum, "The Examined Life". When I reviewed those old comments of mine recently, I was struck (not to toot my own horn) at how fast I had progressed, so early, along the learning curve. Within six months of 911, I was already raising the question, "Is Islam itself directly related to this attack and other terrorist attacks around the world?" And I found a curious reflex among the other commenters for finding ways to intellectually shut down the directionality of the question, without even pursuing its implications with an open mind (let alone with actual research into mainstream Islamic texts).
At any rate, at some point -- probably late 2002 or early 2003 -- as I was surfing the Net, I kept coming across links to a website relatively new at the time. One thing that caught my eye was the format -- the presentation of one story or event after another relating to Islam, punctuated with salty commentary by someone, apparently the editor of the site, whom later I would come to know as Robert Spencer. Over time, I got hooked, and kept coming back.
Jihad Watch is like a running AP or UPI newswire -- bringing to readers one story after another relating to the dangerous pathology of Islam. For the first few years, it was divided into two "Watches" -- Jihad Watch and Dhimmi Watch: the former relating generally to the pathology of Islam, the latter relating generally to the pathology of Westerners who remain myopic to the former. A few years ago, Spencer merged the two into one.
What has dawned on me over many years of reading Jihad Watch (and actively -- yea, voluminously -- participating in its comments threads) is that it is more than merely a "running AP or UPI newswire": For the regular and attentive reader, it is a mountain of data about the pathology of Islam, in all its myriad grotesquely fanatical violence. Indeed, it is more than a mere mountain: its collective horror and terror which it documents grows daily, weekly, monthly. It is a veritable volcano of the evil lava of Islamic data from around the world, growing larger and taller as the years ago by, building upon the historical tectonic plates of its bloody conquests of yore, and those in turn growing out of the subterranean, chthonic madness of the Hellish cult spawned in the Arabian desert 1400 years ago.
At some point this metaphor of Jihad Watch as a "mountain of data" inspired me to write an essay on that aspect, followed by a subsequent essay:
Mt. Jihad Watch
More years of mountainous growth
Readers who are fairly new to Jihad Watch, or who are fitful readers only now and then, will not have not experienced the full catastrophe that impresses itself upon a person who assimilates a relentlessly daily diet -- over weeks, months and years -- of the gruesome, insane and outrageously alarming words and deeds of Muslims all over the world.
This dynamic or phenomenon of the experience of the sheer litany of Islamic horrors impressed me as a meme in and of itself; so I embarked upon producing a few essays cheekily modeled after Garrison Keillor's "Lake Woebegone" monologues (tweaking that to "Lake Mobegone"): I count seven essays I did on that theme, located on this Google page. That series began back in December of 2011 with an essay spoofing Keillor's "news from Lake Woebegone" -- and never knowing I would continue over the years with several more installments.
For those regular readers who stand on the ever-mounting peak of Mt. Jihad Watch, the full magnitude of the exigence of a zero tolerance of all Muslims is becoming increasingly clear, and we have grown wearily impatient with the various ways with which our fellow Westerners -- even many who claim to be something resembling "anti-Islam" -- try to avoid the rational condemnation of Islam itself, and of all Muslims who enable Islam.