Indonesia’s government has declared that there is “no room” for gays in the country. This isn’t a surprise. It’s a Muslim country, and gays are starting to realize that they aren’t safe in any society where a majority of the citizens bow towards Mecca five times a day.
It’s not just gays either. Atheists, Christians, Jews, feminists, and any woman with a skirt higher than her ankles have reason to be afraid in societies dominated by Islam. In Indonesia, Christian Chinese citizens face regular persecution. The country is secular, but they’ve given part of their country to the crazies. Sharia Courts hold sway in the Aceh Region, where only this year a 60-year old Christian woman was caned for selling alcohol.
Indonesia is the largest Muslim country on earth. More than 200 million Muslims live there, representing 87% of the population. That’s an even higher percentage of Muslims than France!
Europeans should read about the demographic changes in Indonesia, and be afraid. The Wikipedia entry on internal migration in the country sounds like a beta test for Europe, where gays are now at risk too.
Internal migration has altered the demographic makeup of the country over the past three decades. It has increased the percentage of Muslims in formerly predominantly Christian eastern parts of the country. By the early 1990s, Christians became a minority for the first time in some areas of the Maluku Islands. While government-sponsored transmigration from heavily populated Java and Madura to less populated areas contributed to the increase in the Muslim population in the resettlement areas, no evidence suggests that the Government intended to create a Muslim majority in Christian areas, and most Muslim migration seemed spontaneous. Regardless of its intent, the economic and political consequences of the transmigration policy contributed to religious conflicts in Maluku, Central Sulawesi, and to a lesser extent in Papua.
The Muslim nations of southeast Asia are largely out of the public eye because of their troublesome cousins in the gulf. They have an unexamined reputation for moderation, but Indonesia provides a ready example for my thesis that the west’s problem isn’t just with radical Islam or Arab Islam or Pashtun Islam, but with Islam itself.
It is a religious ideology, and not a culture, that animates North Africans, Middle Eastern Arabs, Pashtuns, and Muslim Asians to oppress gays, women, and nonbelievers. The same ideology that animates British-born Muslims to join the murderous Islamic State is the same ideology that animates the Indonesian government.
The differences between their actions and those of the Caliphate in Syria are differences of degree, not of substance.
The west has grappled with an intolerant, globe-spanning ideology before: communism. Like Islam, communism crushed freedom at home, inspired violence abroad, and brutally repressed opposition. It was a utopian ideology, no less totalitarian than Islam. Its adherents’ efforts to erase the past and replace it with a cultural “Year Zero” was remarkably similar to Muslim attempts to destroy any historic monument that isn’t connected to their religion (in other words, most of them).
You might also be reminded at this point of campus activists, motivated by gender conspiracy theories or black grievance culture, who want to tear down statues of famous historical figures on vague, silly pretexts. Exactly the same thing is happening: political authoritarianss don’t like people to remember that culture existed before they arrived.
Islam, like communism, is an idea. Islam is a viral meme that infects the minds of everyone from lone suicide bombers to Islamic heads of state, inspiring them to murder, repress and control. If you were unfortunate enough to travel in a direct line from Mauritania to Indonesia, you’d encounter many different ethnic groups, but just one poisonous belief system.
Luckily, the fall of communism gives us a guide on how to fight an idea — and win.
There are still communists in the west, of course. But voting for Jeremy Corbyn and, bizarrely, supporting the European Union, isn’t quite the same as joining the Baader-Meinhof. Aside from a few isolated pockets around the world, the few remaining fragments of communism are docile and declining. So how did we do it?
Don’t get excited, neocons — it wasn’t with open military combat. Sure, there were proxy wars around the world, but they weren’t at the root of communism’s failure. Communism failed when its citizens lost faith in the governing ideology, grew fed up with its tyranny, and rose up to overthrow the Red Tsars.
Much of this was down to communism’s own structural failings, particularly in the realm of economics. Ordinary citizens in the Warsaw pact grew sick of driving Trabants, waiting in line at the supermarket for food, and not being able to listen to rock music.
But Muslim countries aren’t exactly prosperous either — and they could be made less so if America were less favourable to countries like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. So why, you may ask, hasn’t it been done already?
Unfortunately, there’s a good reason. When young Muslims grow dissatisfied with their current regimes, their answer is usually more Islam, not less. This was the case in the Arab Spring, where the Muslim Brotherhood replaced a secular dictator in Egypt, and where ISIS rushed in to fill the void in Syria.
The one inescapable argument for preserving brutal theocracies like Saudi Arabia is that whatever replaced them would likely be even more radical. If this is the Cold War, we’re in the 1960s — when communism was still embraced by wide swathes of young people as a viable alternative to western liberal democracy. If we want to roll back the current strain of Islam, we must place our hope in the next generation, not this current one.
But alas, progressives, it’s going to take more than wishing and hoping if we want the next generation to be less radical than the last. It was no accident that the Berlin Wall collapsed at the end of the 1980s. It was the end of a decade when America and, to a lesser extent, Britain had shaken off the malaise of the 1970s and recovered their national sense of self-confidence. Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan proudly walked the world stage, aggressively asserting the superiority, and, well, the greatness of their respective nations. In the increasingly backwards, increasingly poor Warsaw pact, the choice between the west and communism quickly became a no-brainer.
At the same time, western governments poured money into programs designed to undermine the idea of communism. With state funding, Radio Free Europe and Voice Of America ceaselessly broadcast news of anti-communist activities — as well as jazz and rock music — across the Iron Curtain. The propaganda campaign was so successful that KGB memos asserted that up to 80 percent of Soviet youth were listening to western radio broadcasts.
As Reagan and Thatcher were boldly asserting the superiority of western capitalism to communism, western radio broadcasts, offering tantalising glimpses of life and culture in the west, proved it.
That’s a long way from western leaders’ attitudes to Islam, isn’t it? Far from asserting the superiority of western liberalism to the theocratic east, they’re wearing headscarves, bowing to Saudi monarchs, and grinning stupidly in mosques. In the Cold War, there were some western leaders who advocated peaceful coexistence with the Soviet bloc, sure, but I don’t think any of them ever donned Mao suits or sang The Internationale.
Instead of drawing attention to the problems with the Islamic way of life – and the superiority of the west’s – our leaders harp on about “the religion of peace,” seeking to present the increasing violence of the religion’s followers — against gays, nonbelievers, and women — as the actions of a tiny minority who will soon be defeated.
But they won’t be defeated. The Islamic State may be on the back foot, but it represents a world view that is attracting swathes of young people. Because the west has done nothing to stand up for its own, superior values, an entire generation of young Muslims came to view muftis as their rock stars and mosques as their concert halls. Western leaders talk about challenging the radicalization of young people, and then turn around and talk about how wonderful Islam is. The results are inevitable and devastating.
It’s theoretically possible to peacefully coexist with Muslims, much like it’s possible to coexist with a Christian bakery that refuses to bake cakes for gay weddings. But that’s only possible if they keep themselves to themselves, and Muslims don’t. The current generation, regardless of whether they’re Indonesian, Pashtun, or Arab, insists on imposing their way of life on everyone else — or killing us, if we refuse.
And the muslims who don’t actively identify with the most poisonous end of their ideology are perfectly happy to turn a blind eye to its horrors, as poll after poll have demonstrated — to say nothing of the horrendously socially regressive attitudes of Muslims living in the west.
Like communism, we are dealing with a viral meme that needs to be fought head-on. The old talking points about “violent extremists” are no longer working. Indeed, they never worked to begin with. We’re fighting an idea, and the only way to beat it is to show that the west is the best. Western leaders need to talk about what makes our society great: freedom, tolerance, equality of opportunity. Like Reagan and Thatcher, they need to tirelessly assert their country’s greatness.
When America landed on the moon, the Cold War essentially ended. Russia gave up and ended its space program. We can’t yet know what the West vs Islam version of the Moon landings will be, but it is moments in culture like Neil Armstrong’s first steps which turn the tide of history and create the conditions for popular rebellion. Islam has to be made uncool.
They also need to champion the greatness of western culture and ask more strongly why there isn’t a single world-class university in the Muslim world and why there is no Muslim Shakespeare, Picasso, Mozart or Nietzsche.
This is a war of culture as much as it is a war of politics or faith, and we have to start fighting it now, in music, books, journalism, art and with every other means of creativity at our disposal, demonstrating as we do so what is possible with the free expression we so cherish in the west and which made America the greatest country in the history of human civilization.
But more than that — and this is what they really don’t want to do — our leaders need to talk about what makes Islamic societies bad. Perhaps they can start with Indonesia.
Allum Bokhari is a reporter for Breitbart. He can be followed on Twitter at@LibertarianBlue. Milo Yiannopoulos is a senior editor for Breitbart. He can be followed at @Nero. Email them at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org