"Worse than evil is invisibility," writes Shelby Steele, putting his finger on what makes Islamofascist leaders like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tick. Above at a press conference in Tehran last spring with a mural of his totemic animals -- "peace doves" -- projecting that "aura" he would later experience at the UN, the Iraqi President calls for the destruction of Israel as a "fake regime." (Kheirkhah photo)
"The dark achievement of bin Laden, Nasrallah and Ahmadinejad, names we know only because of their association to menace, is that they have used menace to make their people visible in the world, to bring them back into the scheme of history," writes Shelby Steele in an Opinion Journal essay, arguing that "America has gone to war not against Islam but against menace as a formula for power":
And yet the end of the Cold War has made these wars between the West and the Third World inevitable. When the world was clearly divided between the free West and the communist East, Third World countries could play the ingénue by offering their alignment to the most generous suitor. At the center of a market in alignment, they could extract financial support and enjoy a sense of importance.
But after the Cold War, these countries suddenly became crones without appeal or leverage in the West. And it was out of this sense of invisibility, this feeling of having fallen out of history, that certain Middle Eastern countries found a way to play the ingénue once again. They would not compete with or seduce the West; they would menace it.
Exactly the point we've been making here for years, with reference to Dr. Peter F. Rowbotham's 1992 essay "The importance of being noticed" [Full article available here -- scroll down]. As Rowbotham wrote:
We search for honor in favored venues and in chosen social institutions. We avoid those places and those social groupings which inhibit our search, which do not advance, and may even set back, our moral careers. As Harre (1980) has pointed out:
"Recent studies of adolescence have shown many young people to have an almost obsessive interest and preoccupation with the maintenance of dignity and the careful scanning of the social environment for occasions and acts of possible humiliation."
And as we commented in one of many posts on the subject:
In this context, the unorthodox bonding rituals of, for example, Hell's Angels and British soccer fans -- and now the deadly rituals of adolescent jihadi recruits -- may be seen as examples of a "system of honor that is an alternative to mainstream moral orders."
"And they are greatly loved for this," writes Steele of the princes of darkness who call us the Great Satan. "If their achievements follow from evil rather than from good, this is a small thing. Worse than evil is invisibility." As for the Great Satan himself, he asks rhetorically:
Could it be that our enemies are really paper tigers made formidable by our unceasing ambivalence? And could it be that the greater good is in both the idea and the reality of American victory?
Yes. And that is why, as Jedd Babbin wrote at Real Clear Politics yesterday, "Rumsfeld will be smiling when he takes his leave."
Vote daily now through December 15 for sisu in the 2006 Weblog Awards HERE!
Update: At the invitation of Jay of Stop the ACLU, we're linking and trackbacking to his Weekend Free For All. Jay's a top competitor for the same award we're campaigning for, "Best of the Top 250 Blogs" in the TTLB Blogosphere Ecosystem. Jay is a "Higher Being" at #7, while we are a "Large Mammal," #232 at the moment. But what the hey? We shamelessly headlined one of our recent posts "What Britney's Crotch Did To My Stats," after all, and the site meter is still soaring. Ann Althouse linked to said post this morning, and now we're enjoying a pleasant Annalanche on top of the Crotchalanche. Be sure to check out Ann's fascinating discussion -- with graphic links -- of the vagina dentata.
Update II: The estimable Professor Bainbridge puts in a good word:
Sissy Willis' post of that title manages to be both thoughtful and funny, as well as offering links to some must read news and blog items.