An engineer’s experience with a special bicycle explains why we are losing our global fight against Islamism—one that ultimately leaves us only one hope for defeating it.
As children, we learn to ride bicycles—a skill programmed into us so that, once mastered, is never forgotten.
Engineer Destin Sandlin had ridden bicycles for decades before being challenged by a welder friend to ride a special bike. The welder had modified the turning gears on it so when turning left, the front wheel would turn right, and vice-versa.
To his friend’s laughter, Sandlin was unable to ride it.
Sandlin explained, “I had the knowledge of how to operate the bike, but… not… the understanding.”
The problem, Sandlin recognized, was locked into his brain—for decades he, quite simply, had been programmed to ride a bike a certain way.
Sandlin observed, “Once you have a rigid way of thinking in your head, sometimes you cannot change that even if you want to. The algorithm that’s associated with riding a bike in your brain, is just that complicated…”
After spending eight months trying to learn to ride what he calls the “backwards brain cycle,” Sandlin finally did so.
He jubilantly observed, “One day I couldn’t ride the bike, and the next day I could. It was like I could feel some kind of pathway in my brain that was now unlocked.”
But, he pointed out, he can no longer ride a normal bike as we do.
Additionally, any small distraction while riding his special bike—such as a cellphone ringing in his pocket—causes him to revert back to his old thinking and lose control. He reported, it “would instantly throw my brain back into the old control algorithm and I would wreck.”
Sandlin hit upon the idea of having his six-year old son attempt to ride the backwards brain bicycle. He rationalized it would be easier for his son, who had only been riding for two years, to make the mental adjustment necessary to ride the special bike as his son’s brain was yet to be programmed so fully as to be resistant to change.
Astonishingly, it took his son only two weeks to ride the backwards brain bicycle!
So, what does this have to do with the global war against Islamism?
Consider the following:
A multi-year study by the Hudson Institute on the education system in Saudi Arabia has determined schoolbooks used in the K-12 education system indoctrinate children to practice intolerance towards other religions, sanctioning violence against non-believers.
Saudi children learn early on that “Jews and Christians are enemies of the believers” and the struggle against them will endure for as long as God wills. The books promote the holy war of jihad against non-Muslims.
Iranian school books prepare children for Islam’s Armageddon—one of death and destruction paving the way for the Mahdi’s return and Islam’s emergence as the world’s greatest religion to which all others are subservient.
An expert on Iranian textbooks, Professor Eldad Pardo, found they preach a “war curriculum” preparing an entire generation for global war based on “collective martyrdom.” The martyrdom theme is driven home in these books by praising the 500,000 Iranian children who sacrificed their own lives during the Iran-Iraq war, voluntarily walking through Iraqi minefields to clear a path for Iranian fighters.
Undoubtedly, some U.S. funding given to the Palestinian Authority makes its way to Hamas to produce its Mickey Mouse-like television character to teach violence to its young children.
We see videos now of ISIS programming the hate gene into children who have become executioners. Whether using an executioner’s gun or sword, children seem to perform the task without emotion—either due to being so programmed or drugged. This is why U.S. Army Chief of Staff Raymond Odierno’s recent statement saying that defeating ISIS could take ten to twenty years is generations off the mark.
As Western children watch cartoons, Muslim children are shown videos glorifying suicide bombers and teaching hatred of all non-believers.
The fuel for the educational systems in both Iran and Saudi Arabia—as well as numerous other Muslim countries—is hatred for the infidel.
Islamist educators are successfully teaching one generation of children after another to hate, to murder, to sacrifice their own lives in carrying out Allah’s will.
This is even occurring today in Western countries as one senior U.K. law enforcement officer warns, “Islamist propaganda is so potent that it is influencing children as young as five.”
Those unwilling to acknowledge such generational indoctrination of children in the art of hatred continues to occur today would be hard-pressed to explain the shocking results of an Al-Jazeera poll taken last May of its Arab audience. Asked if they supported ISIS victories in Iraq and Syria, an astounding 81% of 56,881 respondents said yes.
With such teaching ingrained upon a child’s psyche at an early age and continuing into young adulthood, this hatred becomes the norm—i.e., the acceptable algorithm—for the latter. They—like Sandlin riding a normal bicycle—are unable to adjust to anything different. For Sandlin, learning something different was riding the backwards brain bicycle; for Muslims, it is learning tolerance towards non-believers.
While the Obama Administration recently reported at least 10,000 ISIS fighters have been killed by the U.S. bombing campaign, this should not be taken as an indication we are winning the global war against Islamism. Because of the generational hatred nurtured by Islam, those 10,000 have already been replaced by 10,000 more. It is an endless cycle that cultivates a willingness to kill the infidel—whether he be a fellow (wayward) Muslim or Western non-believer.
Comparatively speaking, it is much harder to kill the Islamist ideology than it is to kill those feeding off of it. The reality is Islamism is the beast in need of slaying before it can inject its hateful poison into the minds of yet another generation of children.
This reality comes with another. We must accept the fact there is but one way to slay the beast and we in the West are powerless to do it.
The slaying can only begin with the reformation of Islam itself. This means acceptance of a belief that runs contrary to that which every Muslim is taught—the equanimity of all human life.
Islamism is predicated upon Islam’s belief in the superiority of its followers—who are entitled to life’s entitlements as such—and the inferiority of non-followers—who, therefore, lack any life entitlement. If there is to be any hope the vicious cycle of infecting yet another generation of Muslim children with hatred and intolerance will be broken, it must come from such reformation.
The challenge is that it must also come from within the ranks of Islam’s followers. To date, only one such leader has made a call for reformation—Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Not only did Sisi’s call meet with dead silence from the international community, Obama still refuses to support him, supporting instead a non-reform-minded Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt committed to ridding Planet Earth of all non-Muslims.
As Sandlin learned, it is extremely difficult to unlearn an algorithm once it is programmed into the human psyche as the norm. This is especially true of the Islamist’s hate algorithm—one contained in the Quran itself. Islamists incapable of unlearning it make the war against Islamism an endless one. Only by breaking the generational chain of hatred and intolerance—through reformation—is there any hope it will ever end.
Sadly, seventy generations of hate-filled Islamist programming does not bode well for a future that will ever witness such change.
Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.), is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of “Bare Feet, Iron Will–Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam’s Battlefields,” “Living the Juche Lie: North Korea’s Kim Dynasty” and “Doomsday: Iran–The Clock is Ticking.” He frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.