Should Classical Music Die? A Calm Response to Nebal Maysaud

It’s Time to Let Classical Music Die.

That is the title of the article that popped up on the Band Director’s Facebook group of which I am a member.  There were lots of comments and lots of reactions to it, but I wanted to see for myself.  Why would anyone call for the death of classical music?

So, I read the article.  And then I read some more of Nebal Maysaud’s work.

I found myself disagreeing with the vast majority of what Nebal Maysaud writes in the “It’s Time to Let Classical Music Die,” but only on a logical, semantic level.  There’s so much hurt and hope and drive mixed all together in Nebal’s writing.  Nebal has a gift for weaving experiences and the creative process into a narrative form.

Before you read further, I’d encourage you to spend about 11 minutes and listen to Decolonized Arabesques with an open mind.  I find that listening to a composer’s music allows you to better understand a person.  It’s quite humanizing, in fact.

This particular piece was born out of Nebal’s experience of going through college and early adulthood grappling with issues of identity and cultural dissonance between the West and Nebal’s Lebonese family in Lebanon.  It is especially interesting as it results from Nebal’s long hard look into the music of his family’s culture and yet struggling to learn more.  I have a special place in my heart for Middle Eastern music as it is, and truly enjoyed the weaving of the quartertone aesthetic within the classical idiom (though in the article “I’m Learning Middle Eastern Music the Wrong Way“, Nebal states that the goal was to write a piece free from “unwanted Western influence”).

After reading and listening to Nebal’s work, I wanted to share some of my reactions and thoughts on the article calling for the death of Classical Music.

The Arguments and a Discussion

The article, in my opinion, starts off with a very interesting premise: that, metaphorically, classical music is the abuser in an abusive relationship in which musicians of color or the LGBT lifestyle inside the world of classical music are victims.  This is an intriguing metaphor, and is further fleshed out in the article “Am I Not a Minority?“.  In that article Nebal describes some aspects of that abusive, unspoken paradigm:

1. I am not allowed to be too “radical” in Western classical music.
2. I must depend on white funding and institutional support for my projects.
3. I must work within an institution, never against it.
4. I must never express anger or resentment at my treatment.
5. I must remain calm when harassed by a white individual.

I am not here to debate the merits of these specific arguments, so I will leave them for your consideration.  Suffice it to say that, from Nebal’s perspective, the abuse is real and should not be trivialized just because the calling for the death of classical music as an institution is anathema to many.

Nebal goes on to explain some reasons for calling for the death of this abuser.  The first is the declaration that Classical music is “inherently racist.”  Here is a quote from that section:

Western classical music is not about culture. It’s about whiteness. It’s a combination of European traditions which serve the specious belief that whiteness has a culture—one that is superior to all others. Its main purpose is to be a cultural anchor for the myth of white supremacy. In that regard, people of color can never truly be pioneers of Western classical music. The best we can be are exotic guests: entertainment for the white audiences and an example of how Western classical music is more elite than the cultures of people of color.

I’d like to discuss and refute some of these assertions.  I’d agree that music is not about culture… music is only about whatever it’s composer intended.  Music is about beauty or sharing an experience or emotion.  To label an entire genre of music about whiteness robs the intent and meaning of every piece of music inside that genre.  For instance, a classical piece I wrote (It’s Not Fine) is about abuse, coincidentally, not whiteness.

Also, I’d agree that whiteness does not have a culture; geographic areas and familial/ethnic collections of people have cultures.  However, I do think that some cultures are superior to others; I’d much rather live in the ancient Chinese culture that values honor, respect, and dignity than the ancient Canaanite culture which allowed and encouraged the sacrifice of babies on molten-hot statues while beating on drums so the mothers couldn’t hear their babies screams.  If you agree one culture is preferable to another, then you must agree that it is possible to have a single preferable culture over all others.

But leaving that aside, even if we grant Nebal’s premise that Western classical music’s main purpose is to be a “cultural anchor for the myth of white supremacy” (which I don’t), what do we do with the fact that there truly are pioneers of color in Western classical music? What do you do with Duke Ellington? What do you do with James Carter, arguably the best musician in the world right now?

Do we label them as token black artists just to make Nebal’s assertion work? Is James Carter just an exotic guest for my entertainment just because he’s a black man and I’m a white guy in the crowd? I should certainly hope not.  To do so would diminish their talent and hard work just because they’re black, and that would be racist.

  • (As an aside, this actually happened! Back in March, Carter played with the Boston Symphony Orchestra… I was there, and it was magical!! Anyway…)

I think Nebal realizes a fundamental problem with the argument deep down.

It’s not uncommon to love your abuser. I know the experience, and can understand how hard it is to leave. Despite all that classical music has done to me, I still can’t help but marvel at the religious splendor of Bach’s works for organ. Nor can I help but weep at Tchaikovsky’s raw expressive power.

I will forever love my favorite composers. It is possible to be critical about the way classical music is treated and to adore the individual works which inspire you at the same time. I am not making a judgment call on specific works in the canon, but instead their function in modern classical music institutions[.]

(emphasis mine)

So the argument here is not against classical music per se, but rather against its function in “modern classical music institution[s].”  The skills those composers have developed are passed down through the generations by institutions as others try to mimic and expand upon what made those composers and performers enjoyable to their ears.

But Nebal treats this passing on of knowledge and wisdom as analogous to the scars handed down by abusive parents.  I have two responses to this:

  1. A technique is independent of the person who uses it.  If this were not true, the concept of leitmotif would be just as anti-Semitic as Richard Wagner was.
  2. The beauty of Western culture is that you can choose not to use the tried and true methods and experiment.  The scientifically grounded concepts of consonance and dissonance is at constant odds with what an audience perceives as “good” or not.  That is the nature of art.  Having rules makes the bending or even breaking of the rules that much more effective.  Beethoven comes to mind!

These two things in turn make me excited for Nebal because of statements like these:

While most composers of color are responding to a calling, that calling is to create artwork in our own voices not to behold ourselves to the social construct of Western classical music.

Great!!”Classical music” is just a label.  New music like what Nebal writes is just as cool to me as David T. Little‘s work.  I’d still label it as “classical” music because, to most people in Western culture now, “classical” music is synonymous with “art” music.

But when Nebal says, “By controlling the ways in which composers are financed, it can feel like our only opportunities for financial success as composers are by playing the game of these institutions”, Nebal falsely equivocates the music itself with the institutions like record labels, publishers, and schools of music.  Yes, it’s hard to make it as a minority composer.  But do the capitalistic pressures that make it hard to succeed as a composer diminish the art that they create? Perhaps.  “Playing the game” by writing what people want (ie, what pays the bills) versus writing what’s in your heart is a constant struggle every artist faces, regardless of color or lifestyle.

So yes, I agree that there are not be as many classical composers who are minorities that make it big or get a lot of play.  And yes, it will take time and creativity to change that.  But what I as an educator and musician am concerned about is this:

Is it good music? 

Music is not good because of the color or lifestyle of the person who wrote it.

For instance, I LOVE City Trees by Michael Markowski.  I don’t love it because Markowski is a white male.  In addition, I love it independently of the fact that it was commissioned to celebrate a lifestyle with which I strongly disagree.  I loved it before I discovered the commissioned purpose, and it didn’t take anything away from the music after the fact; actually, I realized that that revelation enhanced it’s transcendent existence as a piece of art for me.

I’d also like to point out that this piece was shared with me by one of my students.  That’s how Markowski grew another fan; his art was good enough to share.  I discovered Nebal’s music through an article good/shocking enough to share.  One goal has been achieved in all this: one more consumer of music is now interested in Nebal’s compositions!

This is the power of the internet! In this brave new world, if a composer is good, they will be shared and performed and gain popularity not because of the color or lifestyle of the composer, but because of the content of their art!

Conclusions

Art comes from people.  People learn to make good art by developing their craft.  And unfortunately for Nebal’s arguments, developing craft require institutions.

Institutions (which include the institution of family, as Nebal discusses in “I’m Learning Middle Eastern Music the Wrong Way“) are precious since they preserve knowledge and tradition.  If Nebal laments the loss of Lebanon’s musical traditions and institutions because of colonialism, isn’t it hypocritical to call for the abolition of other musical institutions, even if they promote “whiteness?”

Wouldn’t that just be… revenge?

And what would we gain? Just more lost musical traditions, right?

In the end, it seems to me that Nebal doesn’t actually call for the abolition of Classical music at all.  Instead, the solution that Nebal espouses at the end of hte article seems to be for people of color and those engaged in the LGBT+ lifestyle to exit the system entirely and build a new one.  This is, I suppose, positive; it’s a proactive solution that takes advantage of what makes Western culture great: ingenuity, independence, hard work, and the freedom to go for it.  This surely worked for the Jazz and Hip Hop genres.  Serious musicians doing serious work operating outside the “system”.

But is this really what we need in the classical world? More division?

Don’t we have enough of that in society at large?

Instead, let us dispense with the militancy which divides our society and lead by example in the arts.  Minority musicians who produce good music, who work hard and advocate for themselves in creative ways, will individually become known and eventually successful, especially in lieu of the internet.  It may not be as easy for a black LGBT+ musician in poverty to make it as a rich white musician, sure, but difficulty does not inform or define what is possible.  Saying so disregards and disrespects the strength of character of people like Nebal who work their butts off every day to make it in this world.

Dizzy Gillespie is a great example of this.  A poor black man who taught himself how to play trumpet (no institution) rose to international stardom on the strength of will despite his color.  Eventually, he became an institution in and of himself.  And we look up to him and his memory because of that!

In other words, difficulty of success does not mean that we must tear the whole system down.

One last thing.  Disparaging me because I’m a white classical musician just because I’m white and lumping my whiteness in with jerk conductors, studio executives, and educators who also happens to also be white… well…

… doesn’t that sound kind of racist to you?

God bless!

 

A Hiatus… and a Recording Studio!

Hello everyone!

God has blessed me so much over the past several years, and you are part of that.  Several of you have reached out and let me know how much you appreciate my blog, and I can’t thank you enough for that encouragement.

One of those blessings is the opportunity to build a recording studio in the high school where I work.  I received a grant for $13,000 and have several students lined up to learn and build with me.  The problem with starting this recording studio, though, is…

…wait for it…

…I know nothing about recording studios! 🙂

hahahah… haha… ha…

Anyway, I found out about this grant a couple months ago.  I had fasted and prayed about what in the world to do about it.  I received some amazing and clear guidance from God almost immediately concerning the direction that I needed to take when it came to my priorities.

The downside to this re-prioritization is that I will be writing on this blog much less than I have been.  The goal had been weekly/biweekly posts; it will now drop to one every month or two, if at all.

On the bright side, the plan is to focus on learning how to record and write analog and digital music from the ground up, including developing a curriculum for a Music Industry class that will begin in Fall 2020.

I love writing, and I love being able to dig into various aspects of my Christian faith, and I especially love sharing those musings with others.  So I’ll be back.

Thank you all again! Pray for me in this new endeavor and that God will receive all the glory throughout this whole process.

Love you!

Rain on My Parade? PERFECT!

A couple weeks ago, I took my band kids to march in a local parade.  They’d worked really hard, had all kinds of cool choreography, and a great arrangement of a Bruno Mars tune that was done by one of my students.  Everyone was hyped to perform, as the parade was going to be a big one, with thousands of spectators.  One of the biggest parades on the East Coast.  Exciting!

Alas, it was for naught.

My band’s bus pulled up next to where all the other bands were parked next to an elementary school and my kids all got out, ready to go.  However, it was overcast and foreboding.  I was told by one of another school’s band parents that all the other band directors were huddled over by the school discussing whether they were going to march or not because of the weather. My wife and I headed over to join them.

The principals of each of those band directors’ schools eventually told them that because of school rules (no event held within 30 minutes of a lightning strike), and with the parade starting in less than that, and with the weather not clearing up on the radar, they were to pack it in and go home.

I decided to follow suit.  After all, the kids’ safety is of primary concern, right? Right.

So we told our kids to get back on the bus… we’re going home.  It ended up being a good call; there was hail later on and we would’ve been marching in it.

It was disheartening, though; the students were quiet on the way home, and some told me afterward that they were very disappointed… they wanted to show off what they’d accomplished.  I felt the same way.

But, as I reminded them, we had one more parade left to do… our hometown’s parade.  It was the one that all their parents and friends would attend.  It was by far the most important parade in their hearts and minds, as well as the community.

I hadn’t prayed much about that first parade, just some generic ones about the kids’ safety and that they’d do a good job.  But I really wanted my kids (especially the seniors) to have a fantastic experience out there.  So I prayed to God specifically for “perfect” weather for our hometown parade.

Yes, “perfect.”  What does that even mean, anyway? 🙂

Anyway, the big day arrived.  My family and I pulled into the parking lot of the high school to open the doors.

It was hot, muggy, and sunny.  The first day of real summer weather.

Ugh.

We did a one hour rehearsal around the track as is our tradition.  I gave them sectional time to review music and choreography inside or in the shade.  Then we went around the track a couple times and then went in.

Still hot, still muggy, and still sunny.

I gave them an hour to cool down, get dressed, eat a late lunch, and hang out.  I spent that time talking to kids about life and relationships and listened to them tell of their silly and often ill-advised escapades that most teenagers have in those years.  It was then was time to walk up to the staging area.

The walk to the parade route involves walking up a steep hill, followed by a winding trek through town in front of old houses with mostly well-kept yards on cracked sidewalks.  There’s some decent shade, but it was the hottest part of the day.  In full wool uniforms.  It’s not necessarily the most pleasant of strolls.

My students arrived at the line-up area for the parade.  They all sat down on the sidewalk (which I never allow them to do in uniform) and passed around spray bottles full of warm water.  I had them unzip their uniform jackets in public (which I also never let them do) and fan out.  Some kids went into the convenience store whose shade we were huddled in and bought bottles of water which they passed around.

Through all this, I was thanking God for the beautiful weather, since it wasn’t raining and that we would be able to do this parade at all.  I was excited and the kids were too.

At 15 minutes prior to step-off, I had the students suit up again to review the choreography and music before we began the parade.  It’s also a chance to perform in front of people since the other units around us have nothing to do but wait for step-off, too.  All the pageant queens in their floats and the girl scout troops and the fire fighters in their fire trucks sat and watched.  We’re typically the only band in this parade, so we’re a novelty.

As the kids were playing, suddenly, the sun disappeared.  My wife later said that she thought, “YES! Shade!” before turning to see what had caused our respite.

It was a huge, black cloud.

A huge peal of thunder rolled through the staging area.

But no visible lightning.

I was thinking about how upset I would be if we got rained out of yet another parade, the only parade, the last parade for my seniors.  I had visions, as I’m sure every band director does, of color guard members with 6-foot long lightning rods in their hands or tuba players with large metallic objects being struck from the sky.

My students sang their alma mater as is our custom.  It was emotional because it would be the last time for the seniors.  Some of my staff, who had been working with the kids for years, were also leaving, so it would be their last parade too.

A couple rain drops blipped on our shoulders and eye lids.

We started to line up.

The temperature suddenly dropped.

Now, for those of you who’ve been in this situation, there’s nothing like a good rain right before or during a performance to lift the spirits of a hot, sweaty marching unit.  My kids started laughing and talking and became giddy with excitement.

No lightning.  The parade was about to start.  I happened to see my pastor sitting in a car in the staging area.  He smiled, I smiled.  We both knew what was about to happen.

As the first wave of real downpour started while we waited to start, the kids cheered.  They became jubilant.  They broke out into chants and songs and began playing pep band tunes from memory.  When they were called to attention by their drum major, they roared in response.  It was incredible!

Off they went.  The wind hammered the kids and the rain blew in sideways as they pounded down the street.  They did their vocals and their dance moves in the pouring rain with flair and style.  The drumline sprinted their rotation choreography with no slips or falters.  The guard fought through the wind and manhandled the waterlogged silks into the correct positions even though they were 4 times heavier than usual.  It was beautiful to see.

And the crowds!!

From the groups huddled in the storefronts to the stalwarts sitting in their lawn chairs in the rain, they cheered those kids on more than I ever remembered them doing.  One of my staff came up to me at the end and said, “Did you hear them?!?!? They LOVED ’em!”

The sun came out again right as we turned the last corner and finished the parade.  They circled up as usual and they dismissed with such intensity that I teared up.  I talked with a couple kids on the way back and they all said that this parade was the best they’d ever had.  One kid called it a legend that will be passed down for years to come.

And as we passed by dripping trees and shimmering puddles reflecting the sunlight, students and adults giddy with their reminiscing on events of the past hour, the sounds of the parade still going wafting between the old houses, it dawned me.

God had answered my prayer…

Torrential downpour was, indeed, the perfect weather for this particular parade.

The (Im)Probability of Life Forming by Chance

Ever hear someone say that Life on Earth happened by chance?

That’s what materialists think… give it 4.6 billion years, and you’re bound to get some life.  Maybe even some outrageously complex bipedal primates that can fly to the moon and back when all is said and done!

And yet, the odds of that happening are actually ridiculously remote.  Like… we’re talking impossibly remote.   The word “astronomically” remote would be making light of the odds here, because it turns out the odds are worse than someone trying to randomly select one specific particle out of all the particles in the entire universe.

To see where I’m coming from, watch this short video before you read on… it’s crazy.

It has been calculated that there is only 1 chance in 10ˆ164 that a functional protein would form by chance.  And that’s if all the amino acids were available in a pool in perfect conditions where the acids were free to interact with each other for untold billions (and trilions… and trillions… ) of years.

Insanity.  To give you an idea of how big that number is, there’s only 10ˆ80 elementary particles in our entire universe!!

Here is a video that tries to help us wrap our heads around that number.

And this is for ONE PROTEIN! Not to mention the first cell here on Earth.

Darwin’s hypothesis of evolution is dying a slow painful death when it comes to accounting for origination of anything above “species” or “genus” in the taxodomic ranks.  Eric Metaxas interviewed Dr. Michael Behe recently discussing the current conundrum that materialist evolutionists face with their worldview.  I plan on doing another article just on this interview, but suffice it to say, it’s looking more an more like we owe our existence…

… to an intelligent designer.

Now, I will go out on a limb here.  I’m not convinced of the young Earth creationist arguments that our universe is only 6,000 to 10,000 years old.  I don’t think the Bible necessarily puts us into that box (for instance, see John Walton’s work or the BioLogos website).  But even given 4.6 billion years of Earth history… I mean, c’mon.  10ˆ164? C’mon.

Let’s apply the Occam’s Razor principle and throw in some Pascal’s wager.  If it’s far more probable that that the first protein was formed by design (we’ll call it 1:2…. after all, there either is a creator God or there isn’t one)… or that it happened by chance (1:10ˆ164… c’mon…), which one is the more reasonable conclusion?

I’m going to go with the God hypothesis.  🙂

 

 

 

 

Proposed Foreign and Domestic Policy Solutions to Combat Global Demographic Jihad – Part 2

To read Part 1, which focuses on the orthodox Islamic underpinnings of the jihadist worldview and strategies outlined by the ‘prophet’ Muhammad, click here.  


II.  The Weapon of Demographic Shift for Global Jihad

Islamic jihadists, using the three stages of jihad illustrated above as a doctrinal foundation for their actions (sunnah), are using shifting demographics as a quiet and extremely efficient way to enact large-scale jihad against the West.  The overarching strategy in the West seems to be in three parts that mirror the three stages of jihad.

  1. Plant small but devout enclaves of Muslims into a non-Muslim country, using taqiyya, taking advantage of Western compassion and acceptance, and pursuing a community policy of non-assimilation to establish a growing, independent Muslim community that is uninhibited by surrounding laws or cultural influences;
  2. Grow the political and cultural influence of those Muslims communities until Sharia law can be established legally and start to be enforced upon the outside populace (for instance, imposing and enforcing blasphemy laws on non-Muslims in the name of avoiding offense or upsetting Muslims through public shaming and even legal action);
  3. Continue growth of political power by sheer population growth (since Muslim women have much higher fertility rates than their Western counterparts) inside the country until local, state and even federal government can be controlled or at least heavily influenced by Islamic tenets.

Though clearly this non-violent jihad is not as physically dangerous initially as acts of terrorism that the West typically thinks of when they think of jihad, it is far more effective in establishing a worldwide Caliphate.  The goal of global jihad is to establish a worldwide Islamic State, and if every Western country eventually has an unassimilated Sunni Muslim majority in each of their populations, the West will be effectively neutralized as a cultural and military barrier to more violent subjugation of non-Muslims throughout the world.  Already, this strategy has been publically espoused by leaders like Erdogan and, though possibly not by design, has been demonstrated as effective in several countries throughout the world.  Below are some case studies to consider.

Russia – Putin has many problems concerning a rising population of Muslims.  Much of his current policy in the Middle East and Russia’s military involvement in Syria, as well as antagonism toward Israel, is geared toward appeasing Muslims and not just maneuvering for better control of oil in the Middle East.  Even as far back as 2006, [4] analysts had predicted that the Russian military will be a majority of Muslim men by 2015.  This sentiment is similarly echoed in Marlene Laruelle’s analysis “How Islam Will Change Russia” (paragraph 21). [5]  Putin has enacted schemes over the last decade to increase the fertility rates of Russian women and annexing additional territory like Crimea, but as investigated in an article by Joshua Keating in 2014, it’s too soon to tell if these tactics are working. [6] As a result of this reality and other factors, Russia will continue in its course of acting strong opposite Israel and will also build its ties to majority Muslim countries like Iran and Turkey.   

Syria and Iran – The utter destruction of areas where Sunni Muslims used to live in Syria has caused a huge outflow of refugees North toward Turkey and West toward Greece and the rest of the EU.  Taking their place, Shia Muslims are being settled in those vacated areas by Iran.  Iran is using Syria’s civil war to extend their influence all the way to the Mediterranean and Israel.  This is being widely reported in the news.

Turkish Strategy Against Europe – Meanwhile, Turkey is using these refugees as a cudgel against the EU.  Erdogan has already claimed that he aspires to be the world’s next Caliph in 2014. [7] As the majority Sunni Muslim refugees flee the Syrian civil war, he threatened the EU to open the refugee floodgates at Turkey’s border with EU countries if they did not maintain talks with him concerning Turkey’s eventual admission into the EU in 2016.  [8] If Turkey is admitted into the European Union, the balance of power in Brussels would shift abruptly toward Muslim influence.  In 2017, the total European Union population was 512.6 million.  [9] Turkey’s population is roughly 82 million in 2018, [10] the vast majority of whom are Muslim, according to its government.  [11] With the extremely high birth rates of Muslim families compared to the falling fertility rates of the rest of Europe, EU’s Muslim population with Turkey’s addition would grow very quickly from 15% over the next several decades. 

Blasphemy Laws in the West – Because of the rapid growth of the Somali population in and around Minneapolis, Minnesota, there are reports of growing Sharia-compliant enclaves and individuals that operate outside the laws and jurisdictions of Minnesota law enforcement, along with growing jihadist conversions.  [12, 13] There have also been individual people who have experienced run-ins with security personnel and police who seem to be enforcing Islamic blasphemy laws while infringing on the First Amendment rights of American citizens.  [14, 15] Meanwhile, in October 2018 the Associated Press reported that the European Court of Human Rights ruled against a woman who called Muhammad a pedophile; they said her right to free speech did not supercede “the legitimate aim of preserving religious peace.” [16] These are exactly the kinds of things that the above “Stage Two” of jihad would predict. 

III. Policy Recommendations to Combat Demographic Jihad

            Since global jihad comes from an orthodox interpretation of Islam, it is a fool’s errand to combat terrorism and jihadists with the preconception that Muslims will only be “radicalized” because of poverty, bad actors among imams, or other factors external from the religion of Islam itself.  Seeking a global Caliphate should instead be seen as a consistent doctrine of Islam that a small percentage of devout Muslims will subscribe to as a result of studying the sunnah.  Therefore, any strategy to combat global jihad in general and demographic jihad in particular should instead focus on pragmatic limiting of the spread of Muslim populations in Western countries as well as the spreading of cultural and societal pressures to choose non-violent interpretations of Islam.  What follows are specific policy recommendations that take these two ideas into account. 

  1. Abandon cultural relativism as a basis for foreign and domestic policy. Some aspects of Western culture are qualitatively and objectively better or at least more desirable than others within various other cultures.  Acknowledgement of desirable cultural traits as worthy of export to other cultures and insisting upon adherence on certain cultural expectations from global partners should be a central facet of foreign policy. 
  2. Cease use of “violent extremism” as a guiding principle in governmental agencies and instead focus on “Islamic jihad.” Because of the core foundations and divergent end goals of each ideology, law enforcement agencies must differentiate between Islamic jihadism and other types of terrorists (white supremacists, etc.).  Focus on motivation behind the use of terror rather than overuse of the label “terrorism” when describing un-desirable or even criminal activity must be instated.  For instance, Islamist global supremacy is a much clearer and more present danger than the anarchist movement in this country due to the ideological underpinnings and resources available to global jihadists.  The use of the term “violent extremism” is not helpful especially to the general public because lumping all violent ideologies with wildly varying visions of success and scope muddies the water politically for a coherent, targeted approach to each type of terrorism.  Pretending that all violent actions based on rational adherence to a belief system should be treated the same can eventually lead to rational adherents of any belief system becoming targeted because one member of their group became violent.  This is dangerous and should lead policy makers to focus on how to combat violence by focusing on each specific ideology that causes violence in target-specific methods.
  3. Consider informing the public of the contents of this paper. This can be done covertly for political expediency; however, it is important to note that understanding taqiyya, for instance, would greatly enhance public support for counter-jihad operations at home and abroad.  For instance, Western media articles like “The Distortion of Islam that Drives Terrorism” (Washington Post, August 1, 2018) [17] do not even mention Qur’an verses when discussing jihad, nor cite or explain obscure references to hadith to support their claims.  It is clear that with articles like this that the general public will not appreciate the orthodox Islamic ideology that jihadists espouse. 
  4. Take steps to reverse the falling birth-rate trend among Western populations to slow the progress of demographic jihad. Part of the reason Russia, China and Japan’s efforts to reverse their demographic time bombs is because there is already too few child-bearing age women in their ethnic populations.  That is not the case in the US and others, yet.  These steps might include, but are not limited to, tax incentives for growing families, eliminating abortions, de-incentivizing homosexuality in the culture, and a public advertising campaign encouraging population growth for economic benefits.  Some of these are obvious political non-starters; however, it is important to look any and all solutions and prioritize based on effectiveness and logistical feasibility.
  5. Discontinue any Syrian or other majority-Muslim country refugee resettlement programs and instead invest heavily in finding local solutions to refugee issues. If resettlement programs do continue, spread out refugees into culturally homogenous communities other than their own and then heavily incentivize assimilation into those communities/cultures.  This can only be done by communicating with local community and faith-based organizations that do not espouse jihadist ideology.
  6. Commit to withholding economic aid from countries that do not adhere to similar Western cultural values, including allies. Military aid would be considered as a separate issue, since some allies, though failing in certain human-rights aspects (like Saudi Arabia’s Prince bin Salman and the recent assassination of Kashogi) are still a preferable military partner in the check on the enemies of the US.  However, any funding for humanitarian aid to Saudi Arabia, for example, would be contingent upon their adoption of several Western-style policies like the outlaw of the outright killing of homosexuals, etc.  This has already begun, as several reforms have taken place in countries like Saudi Arabia as a tactic to gain Western partnerships in business and trade.   
  7. Ramp up rhetoric and increase trade policy aggressiveness concerning countries that persecute religious minorities around the world. The only way to combat radical ideological growth without interfering with the sovereignty of nations or the free will of men is to leverage the full economic and cultural might of the US Government to (a) deter any persecution of competing worldviews with strategic military and economic pressures that compete with orthodox Islam, while (b) aggressively reinforcing positive changes of policy within those governments.  In other words, if a country wants to do business in the Western world, they need to actively pursue the cultural attributes that made the thriving Western world possible. 

Proposed Foreign and Domestic Policy Solutions to Combat Global Demographic Jihad – Part 1

Introduction

At the very beginning of this paper, it is important to state that this paper is not an attack on Muslims.  The vast majority of Muslims worldwide is peaceful and most imams of most sects of Islam teach that Mohammad was a peaceful man who used violence as a last resort to protect family and community.  There are many tenets of Islam that are peaceful and socially positive such as giving alms (zakat), personal piety through daily prayer (salah) and fasting (sawm), and familial and cultural loyalty.  There are many Qur’an verses that are quoted by Muslims to defend the peaceful aspects of their faith, i.e. “There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion” (2:256) and to provide food for the needy, the orphan, and the captive without expecting gratitude or repayment (76:8-9).  Many Muslims are men and women of character, integrity, and incredible work ethics, and like most Christians in Western culture, do not study for themselves the inner workings of their holy books.

However, one cannot deny the existence of ISIS, al Qaeda, al Shabaab, and individual radicalized terrorists throughout the world and throughout history.  The question of whether the jihadi worldview comes from sound interpretation of Islam or not is debated endlessly on the internet and in social media.  The purpose of this paper is not to enter the debate of whether it is legitimate to interpret Islam in such a way to adopt a violent Islamic Supremacist worldview.  Rather, it is to explore what jihadi terrorists themselves claim as the justification for their ideology.

Afterward, this paper will examine one of the most effective, large-scale and long-term strategies of global jihad: demographic shift.  Using Muhammad’s life and how he approached the spread of Islam as a model, a few Muslim leaders are taking refugees from self-inflicted conflicts within the Muslim world and disseminating millions of Muslims throughout the Western world, taking advantage of Western governments’ lack of acknowledgement of the cultural tendency of Muslim families not to assimilate into the cultures of the host countries.  Erdogan and Rouhani, in particular, understand that birth rates of Western countries are low and dropping while the fertility rates of Muslim women around the world are significantly higher.  Once a country’s population has a large enough percentage of Muslims, the unassimilated Islamic culture in that country will politically demand that self-governance, using Sharia courts and law enforcement outside of the host country’s own jurisdiction, be allowed.  Once Sharia-compliant enclaves are established and grow while the population without continues to shrink, eventually a new Iran or Saudi Arabia is born.

Last is an examination of some possible domestic and foreign policy shifts that would keep at bay the growing influence of radical seeds that are embedded within Islamic culture and religion.  This commitment to (a) a type of Jeffersonian “Empire of Liberty” doctrine and (b) embracing strong stances on protecting Western culture around the world are crucial to keeping Muslim majorities from forming in the US and around the world.  Again, this is not an attack on any individual adherent to Islam nor is it an endorsement of any kind of internment program a la the Japanese following World War II.  This section of the paper simply takes a pragmatic look at the consequences of the growth of Muslim populations in the West and how to combat the subsequent growth of jihadi ideology within those communities.

I. Understanding the Islamic Roots of Jihad

The term jihad has many definitions, including “fight,” “holy war,” “struggle,” etc.  It is not necessary to discuss the specific word itself in this paper; rather, the key to understanding jihad comes more from understanding the mindset of those who claim to be waging Islamic jihad.

To begin, the Qur’an states that devout Muslims are to follow the conduct and character of Muhammad as their model (33:21, 68:4, 4:80, etc.).  This modeling of the Prophet, or sunnah, are taken from the hadith (recorded sayings of Mohammed not part of the Qur’an), the sira (biographies of Muhammad), the tafsir (early commentaries on the Qur’an), the Qur’an itself.  These documents provide historical, textual, and literary context for the Qur’anic surahs (chapters).

Looking at these documents that make up the sunnah, Muslim scholars have pieced together a comprehensive picture of what kind of life Muhammad led and how Islam grew from the very beginning.  Muslims looking to model their lives on Muhammad’s example are tasked with sifting through thousands and thousands of traditions, sayings, and laws, many of which are contradictory literally as well as the spirit.  The progression of Islam and Muhammad’s life demonstrates a clear trajectory toward more and more violent treatment of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.  However, for every violent verse or tradition you find in the Qur’an and the hadith, you can find just as many peaceful or diplomatic ones from earlier in Islam’s development.  To make sense of this, the Qur’an provides a doctrinal method to resolve these issues called abrogation.

The doctrine of abrogation (naskh) in classical Islamic scholarship is based upon a couple ayat (verses) in the Qur’an.  Qur’an 16:101 says that if something is changed in what is revealed to Mohammad, it is because Allah knows best and should be trusted with the change.  Additionally, Qur’an 2:106 says that when something is caused to be forgotten or changed, Allah provides Mohammad with a better revelation.  Abrogation then means that later Surahs or hadith are to be considered more authoritative than earlier ones if they provide conflicting instructions or doctrines.  The majority of classical Muslim scholars support the doctrine of abrogation, though modern scholars disagree on what extent abrogation is to be used and in what situations.  [1]

As an example, in Qur’an 109:1-6, Allah tells Muhammad to tell others that they will have their own religion and he’ll have his.  These ayat are quoted by apologists as proof that Islam is a religion of peace and that jihadists are distorting Islam for their own purposes.  However, Surah 109 is one of the earliest Surahs (#18 out of 114) and was from the Meccan period when Mohammad had few followers and not yet a military power.  Surah 9, the second to last surah, contains the ayah “And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush.  But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way.  Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”  (Qur’an 9:5)  This is referred to as the “verse of the sword” by Muslim scholars and clearly contradicts older, peaceful verses.

Once a devout Muslim learns of the concept of abrogation, he or she is then confronted with a difficult decision.  Either they will decide not to pursue further and stick to culturally accepted versions of Islam which focus mainly on the early teachings of Islam or follow the doctrine into the more violent, more authoritative version of Islam.  The vast majority of Muslims around the world choose the first option, as there are certain moral, cultural, and social pressures to do so, especially in the West.  However, to become more orthodox, which the West consider “radical,” some will follow Muhammad’s last marching orders found in the last surahs and hadith.  This is the source of violent ideology in Islam.

Continuing in the investigation of the sunnah that an orthodox Muslim will follow, they will learn that, based on the life of Muhammad and his progressive revelations of the Qur’an, there are three main stages of jihad in order to establish a Caliphate.

Stage One – When Muslims are in minority, proclaim message of peace (Qur’an 109 was from the beginning of Muhammad’s journey in Mecca when he had just 100 followers).  Based on early years in Mecca; they left because they were small in numbers and were being persecuted.

This is where taqiyya, or deception, is used the most in order to misdirect future foes’ concerns with claims of peace and tolerance.   Muslims have permission within Islam to use this deception to further their cause.  Qur’an 3:28 states, “Let not believers take disbelievers as allies rather than believers.  And whoever [of you] does that has nothing with Allah, except when taking precaution against them in prudence.  And Allah warns you of Himself, and to Allah is the [final] destination.” [emphasis added]  Also, in Sahih Bukhari 49:857 [2] records Muhammad saying “He who makes peace between the people by inventing good information or saying good things, is not a liar.”  Sahih Bukhari, the most respected hadith in Islam, records many other instances of Mohammad using deception and broken treaties to defeat his enemies.

One clear example of Muhammad planning the subjugation of his neighbors very early on while still living in Mecca as a young prophet can be found in The History of al-Tabari, Volume VI, on page 95 (or 96, depending on the edition).  [3] Muhammad was speaking to his uncle Abu Talib concerning what he wanted the elders of his tribe, the Quraysh, to do since they were upset with him for denouncing their pantheon of gods in public.  Muhammad said that if they but declare that Allah is the only God, they would see that “the Arabs will submit to them and they will rule over the non-Arabs.”  This is long before he ever had an army or even a large following, yet Muhammad clearly had designs for conquest of the Arabian Peninsula and beyond.

Stage Two – When Muslims increased in numbers or developed enclaves within a territory, Qur’an 22:39-40 allows for “defensive” jihad, allowing Muslims to fight back against any oppression or attacks on Islam.  This stage developed when Mohammad had 1000s of followers and alliances throughout Arabia.  Their home base at this time was in Medina and Muhammad’s political power had grown significantly.

Defense against attacks on Islam included speaking out against Allah or Muhammad, such as writing poetry, making jokes, etc.  As Mohammad’s power grew in Medina, his followers would brutally murder anyone who criticized Islam or the Prophet.  Eventually, the three main Jewish tribes that had initially helped him in his flight from Mecca were subjugated or killed.  Muhammad had conquered Medina from the inside out as he gained political power.

Stage Three – Once Muslims were in the majority, they were to engage in “offensive” jihad.  Surah 9:29 instructs Muslims to fight anyone who does not believe in Allah or hold to the teachings of Allah.  These last Surahs (5 and 9) were given to Mohammad when he’d conquered Mecca and was in firm control of the entire surrounding territory in the Arabian Peninsula.

The people that Muhammad conquered had few choices.  They were to be killed, pay the jizyah (submission tax), or leave.  Sahih Muslim 4366 indicates that Muhammad said, “I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will not leave any but Muslims.” As part of the sunnah which an orthodox Muslim is emulating, this model of behavior and governance is a clear indication that the goal of jihad is to establish a Caliphate under a supreme Islamic rule.

As indicated above, violent ideology to secure Islamic control of an area is acceptable and justifiable according to the doctrines and tenets of Islam.  The next section will explore one particular method of global jihad that is based on these three stages of Islam.

***

Part two to follow.

David Wood’s “Last Video” – Censorship, Passing the Torch, and April Fools!

Update (4/4/19): It was an April Fool’s prank! Thank God! Here’s today’s new video that he uploaded.  So glad David’s still kickin’!


I just watched Last Video (Working on Books!) by David Wood on the Acts17Apologetics channel.  While I’m still hopeful that this was an April Fool’s joke aimed at mocking his critics, it still speaks volumes considering the growing trend of censorship of many Christians and conservatives.  As we’ve seen in the news recently, conservative and Christian voices that won’t tow the line on current agendas favored by certain folks in power at big tech companies are beginning to succumb to malicious flagging of “inappropriate” content.  By inappropriate, they mean politically incorrect, or perhaps socially unacceptable to the elites.

This very blog had been chugging along at a growing average of 60 to 70 views per post.  That was, however, until after I commented on the seeming endorsement of infanticide by Virginia Governor Northam and made a case against abortion,  As soon as that article hit, I immediately dropped down to 5 to 7 views per post.  Not even my wife was receiving notifications that I had posted anything.  And she’s, like, my closest friend! (Love you, honey!) My content has been, as far as I can tell, “deboosted” by Facebook, just like those others detailed in this recent expose by Project Veritas.  

But, this is all to be expected.

The Bible says that as we approach the return of Christ, folks won’t tolerate sound doctrine.  (2 Timothy 4:3)

2 Timothy chapter 4 is a message from Paul to his protege and mentee Timothy, giving him marching orders to continue in his ministry.   Paul warns Timothy that there will come a time when men of the world and even the church will have itching ears, seeking teachers whom they agree.  In David Wood’s case, who was adamant in his work against the teachings of Muhammad and Islam, he spoke out against the hypocritical and inconsistent teachings of several imams and countered with the gospel of Jesus as the only way to God.

David mentioned handing off the torch to younger online apologists to spread the gospel.  This is similar to Paul’s words to not just Timothy, but all “men of God” (2 Tim 3:17) who’ve been instructed in the Scriptures (v. 14) who have gained the wisdom of Christ’s salvation.

I’ve watched and learned from David Wood’s videos and have read his exhaustive polemics against Islam for years now.  Though it is disheartening to see so many conservatives and Christians silenced online, and to experience that censorship myself in a small way, I must admit that I’ve been inspired.

I’ve decided to post a paper I wrote some time ago making a case for why jihad is of orthodox Islam and not “radical” at all, and some policy suggestions that, though a couple may not be necessarily pragmatic, would go a long way to avoiding what is called the Three Stages of Jihad from taking root in our Western Society.  I hope this will honor the contributions to the field of Christian apologetics that David has made over the years, and I pray he will find success in his new writing endeavors.

You can read this paper in the next several posts… assuming they show up in your feed.  😉


If you like this content, check out my Articles by Topic page.  God bless!