December 19, 2006
The Holocaust and Ahmadinejad's fantasy universeBy James Lewis
What do these episodes have in common?
A few years ago an Egyptian college professor wrote that subatomic particles must be the "jinns" or Arabian desert spirits that Mohammed wrote about in the Koran. As a devout Muslim this scientifically educated man was convinced that fundamental physics must have been completely known to Allah when he dictated the infallible Koran to the Prophet, fourteen centuries ago.
When Arab armies invaded Israel in 1948, the President of Syria said to a Palestinian Arab leader that
Over the last several years the outlandish Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a Tsarist fiction intended to bamboozle Russian peasants around 1900, has been turned into a TV soap opera for millions of slack-jawed viewers in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
What do these episodes have in common? All of them tell about millions of Middle Eastern men and women who are immersed in an imaginary world. Remember Baghdad Bob? He was the Saddam propaganda guy who was convinced that his fantasies were more real than the US armored forcees storming into Baghdad. The Baghdad Bob syndrome is not so unusual.
Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial conference in Tehran, a gathering of international misfits, proto-Nazis and religious zealots, adds another chapter to a bizarre kind of mass self-hypnosis. Ahmadinejad is a Khomeini-inspired hate monger, pushing a narrative that carries its believers ever farther away from the real world.
Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial is of a piece with this fantasy-prone mindset. For the mullahs, Hitler's murder of five or six million Jews can't have happened, no matter what the evidence, because it would give a moral and humanitarian basis for the State of Israel. It makes the people of Israel understandable, human and even sympathetic. Since Israel is the Little Satan, an object of fierce hatred inculcated from childhood onward, it cannot be allowed to have a reason to live.
Ahmadinejad is supposed to have a graduate degree in engineering, but he has a Seventh Century mind. It operates backwards, starting from a passionately desired answer to the imaginary evidence needed to prove it. Holding a Holocaust-denial conference in Tehran is as good as disproving the Holocaust; claiming uranium enrichment is equivalent to actually doing it; and saying that Israel is doomed comes close to making it so. Back in reality, of course, the effect has been to startle sane people into seeing what a dangerous gang of pre-medieval lunatics have now seized control of the strategic keystone of Iran. Ahmadinejad is his own worst enemy.
Historians, both Islamic and Western, have long noted that Muslim culture is more fantasy prone than modern cultures. Historically, Islam missed out on the Renaissance, the European enlightenment, and finally the scientific-technological revolution, all predicated on free thought and open debate.
Fantasy prone people can be found in all populations. They seem to be more suggestible than others, more able to hold contradictory beliefs, and are more vulnerable to group pressure. Two-thirds of fantasy-prone people show some signs of mental disorder, as assessed by the MMPI. That does not mean that victims of Islamofascist propaganda are mad; but they may be more vulnerable to drifting away from reality.
Skepticism and the search for evidence are keys to modern culture. In the fixed matrix of reactionary Islam, the power of endlessly repeated fantasies is simply awesome. Media technology makes it easy to drum the same story into millions of minds. The key is always to tell one, single narrative, with Good Guys and Bad Guys, and to shut out any competing ideas. That is how Rev. Jim Jones was able to make everyday people commit mass suicide in Guyana. It is standard cult indoctrination scaled up to millions of vulnerable minds.
Take a look at this report from a MEMRI translation.
It could be that Mr. Ramin is just singing for his supper. He might just be playing to his bosses in the mullahcracy. But his gullible victims are not cynics. They have never known anything but fantasy propaganda. They are true believers, programmed to die for their cause.
A bucket of ice water
The Tehran regime badly needs a bucket of ice-water thrown over its collective head. A great shock may be the only way to wake up a regime that is living in a boastful dream of butchering its enemies in a Second Holocaust.
The Muslim world has seen several great ice-water shocks of this kind. The first was Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798, when the Arabs, who had hitherto believed they were the most powerful culture in the world, woke up to realize how much the West had evolved while they were in stasis. The end of the Ottoman Caliphate after World War I was another great shock. And Israel's independence and military victories continues to shock the Islamic world into unpleasant realizations about its own relatively ignorance and backwardness.
Islam is an honor culture, in which public "face" (wajh) means everything. That is why women are routinely murdered when they are said by the neighbors to be unfaithful --- which can simply mean that teenage girls are attracted to boys. Face and public honor are the great motivators, and propaganda peddlers like Al Qaeda constantly accuse their enemies of having sold their women to the Crusader enemy.
For Ahmadinejad and his cult, nukes are a fantasy weapon, like Hitler's end-of-the-war fantasies about German super-weapons that would finally destroy the Allies. Hitler came within a decade or so of nuclear weapons. Ahmadinejad is now within a few years of an irreversible technical understanding of the manufacturing process. When a wild fantasy of revenge for all one's imagined humiliations meets nukes, real explosions are likely.
I have previous suggested that an Israeli warning shot --- perhaps underground, perhaps in the deserts of Iran or Saudi Arabia --- may be necessary to wake up the nuclear dreamers to the reality of mass murder-suicide, the "best" they can ever hope for. The powerful Israeli Left seems set against such an idea. At the same time, when their backs were against the wall, people like Golda Meir seriously considered using nuclear weapons more than thirty years ago.
Ultimately it doesn't matter what form the "bucket of icewater" therapy takes. At some point it will have to be done. Today Ahmadinejad's even Germany's Angela Merkel and Britain's Tony Blair are sounding like George W. Bush.
A few days ago, Chancellor Merkel said that
But words are not going to do shake the mullahs out of their fantasy revenge. Only deeds can do that. A united West could be a overwhelming force if it ever decided to act.
James Lewis blogs at Dangerous Times.