In 1895 French scholar Gustave Le Bon published his book «La Psychologie des Foules» – «The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind» – and only a few decades later it became a key inspiration for the infamous work by Adolf Hitler «Mein Kampf» (prohibited in a number of counties, but republished this year in Germany for the first time since 1945).
Le Bon postulated that once individuals came together to form a group, the individual’s will was surrendered to the will of the group. Their faculties of reasoning were impaired or destroyed, and they entered into a more suggestible state: «All feelings and thoughts are bent in the direction determined by the hypnotizer».
German Nazi propaganda was based on Le Bon’s crowd psychology theories, same as any other propaganda throughout the history of the 20th, and now the 21st century. The idea can be boiled down to a handful of points: keep the dogma simple; reduce concepts down into stereotypes which are black and white; speak to people’s emotions; find slogans; forget scientific reasoning; focus solely on convincing people and creating zealots. These are the main rules of the so-called «coercive speech».
Since the death of the multiculturalism was declared in 2010 by Angela Merkel, the world has started to learn a new word, familiar previously mainly to historians, but now rapidly becoming a slogan under which new zealots are created, new black and white are established, new simple dogmas emerge. It’s the Islamization. What was once an unacceptable set of views under politically correct multiculturalism, quickly becomes a new norm of life dictated by the propaganda.
For the US (where only around 1 per cent are Muslim) it all started with the 9/11 tragedy. Suddenly, a common enemy appeared. This enemy had no face, it had no nationality, no country of origin, only religion.
Almost immediately these new views were reflected by American moviemakers. In a 2006 movie «Inside Man» by Spike Lee we hear police shouting at an Indian hostage wearing a turban: «A f**king Arab!» In the commentary for the movie, Mr Lee said: «Arabs are the new boogiemen. The Russians supplanted the Nazis, now it’s the Arabs».
Paranoia is setting in. What if President Obama is a secret Muslim? That would be even worse than marrying a communist, one would suppose! Fear of getting married to a communist may seem to be a laughable historical specimen, but wait, there is a contemporary story used as a base for the currently running TV-series «Homeland»: my husband veteran is a «turned» Muslim, planning to assassinate American vice-president. At this point it’s not even funny anymore. In all rich history of political assassinations in the United States you could hardly find any example of the one carried out by a Muslim, even the Palestinian who killed US Senator Robert F Kennedy was a baptized Christian.
But it looks like the people behind that «Obama admits he is a Muslim» YouTube video can put all their fears to rest if the next POTUS comes from the Republican party. The extravagant GOP’s leading runner Donald Trump is certainly not a Muslim. Otherwise once he becomes a president, he would have to ban himself from entering the US. What is highly alarming about his bizarre idea of a «total and complete shutdown» of the country’s borders to Muslims, is that it didn’t cost him his leading position in the pools. That means, the public is approving of it. The public is so much in fear of the Islamic threat, that it is ready to support the idea of a limitation of particular human rights based on religion. I bet the people who founded the United States and wrote its Constitution would be shocked by their descendants’ actions.
Of course, there is a «factual basis» for the proliferating Islamophobia. The volunteers at the cleverly named Religion of Peace website are actually keeping score of people killed in «Islamic terror attacks» on American soil. At the moment, the number of victims listed on this website (excluding victims of 9/11) totals 358 people from 1972 to the present day, from which 8 were killed in 2013. To give you a reference point, in the same year a total of 16 121 people were murdered in the US. And last year the murder rate sharply increased, BBC reports.
Coming back to the Old Continent, not long after multiculturalism was pronounced dead, Deutsche Welle left us with an open question if nationalism was the next option for the European future. Three years later we watch the renaissance of far-right nationalism in Europe with some of it – ignited by the recent influx of refugees from predominantly Muslim countries torn apart by NATO operations and western political games – using Islamization as a slogan and calling for the total boycott of Muslim states. To avoid being accused of racism this time they had to do without following one of the rules of «coercive speech». Their motto is rather long and complicated: «Racism is the lowest form of human stupidity, but Islamophobia is the height of common sense». How a «phobia», which by definition is an irrational fear of something, can be «the height of common sense» remains to be a mystery.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands join anti-immigrant protests in Europe organized by Pegida – Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West – a far-right (not to say neo-Nazi) organization the leader of which, Lutz Bachmann, called asylum seekers «scumbags» and suggested that at the welfare office extra security was needed «to protect employees from the animals». One can only guess how Josef Wrimer, executed by Nazis, would have felt if he saw his flag used by Pegida protesters.
It could be at least partly understandable if those opposing «Islamization» would only want to protect the secularity of their countries (as if it was in any real danger with only about 4 per cent of EU population being Muslim). Yet, the main objection is, as always, that Islam is a religion that «promotes violence». Indeed, does Islam promote violence? Certainly it doesn’t, extremists do. But who cares? They all read books in unreadable languages and some of them even pray together to an unfamiliar god, blocking the streets. They are all scary aliens and have to be dealt with. That is how – at least in some European countries – the problem is seen, it seems.
Everyone remembers the barbaric attacks in London in 2005. Yet, when pointing out the «Islamic attacks» in Europe, one should keep in mind the results of a study conducted by the British MI5 service in 2008. The analysis «based on in-depth case studies on «several hundred individuals known to be involved in, or closely associated with, violent extremist activity» ranging from fundraising to planning suicide bombings in Britain» has shown that: «…those involved in British terrorism… are mostly British nationals, not illegal immigrants and, far from being Islamist fundamentalists, most are religious novices».
In other words, the terrorists knew very little about Islam itself: «a large number of those involved in terrorism do not practice their faith regularly. Many lack religious literacy and could actually be regarded as religious novices. Very few have been brought up in strongly religious households, and there is a higher than average proportion of converts. Some are involved in drug-taking, drinking alcohol and visiting prostitutes».
MI5 goes even further, saying that: «there is evidence that a well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalization».
But the Europeans are so scared of «Islamization», they are – much like their counterparts «across the pond» – ready to sacrifice the freedoms and benefits of the United Europe they’ve been so proud of. Following recent horrific attacks in Paris a state of emergency was declared, which gave additional power to the president and suspended some of the rights of the citizens.
Moreover, the president of the National Front party – one of the major political forces in France today – Marine Le Pen, known for her anti-immigrant rhetoric, immediately called for revoking the citizenship of French individuals «who are suspected of becoming terrorists», securing the borders and closing down the mosques.
Again, Muslims are blamed, as though Islam and ISIS are the same thing.
Here I would like to cite a head of a multi-confessional country once plagued with domestic terrorism – Vladimir Putin: «…Islamic State, a terrorist organization that – I want to stress again – has nothing to do with genuine Islam».
Some societies are based on «fear and consumption», because the «culture of fear» forms a perfect, easily controllable crowd and there are many reasons why you might need to control «your crowd». But if the word «terrorism» originates from the word «terror», and if your country uses fear to control you, who is the real terrorist, then?
(cartoons by rednblacksalamander.deviantart.com)