Islamists and ‘Wokeists’ have much in common

Islamists and ‘Wokeists’ have much in common, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

In the debates after 9/11, many people sought materialist explanations for the attacks.

American foreign policy in the Middle East was blamed, or lack of education and employment opportunities in the Arab world.

World tower center 9/11

I argued that none of these could explain the motivations of the plotters and hijackers, who in any case were far from underprivileged. Their goal was religious and political: to wage jihad against their kin if they didn’t accept a literal interpretation of Islam, to denounce Arab governments as corrupt and their Western allies as infidels, and ultimately to overthrow the established order in the Middle East and establish a caliphate.

American policy makers preferred the materialist explanations, as they implied actions to solve the problem: invasion, regime change, democratisation. It was unpopular to suggest that the terrorists might have unshakeable immaterial convictions.

Nineteen years on, we see a similar dynamic, only this time it is within our borders. Naive observers explain this summer’s protests in terms of African-Americans’ material disadvantages. These are real, as are the (worse) socio-economic problems of the Arab world. But they aren’t the main driver of the protests, which appear to be led mainly by well-off white people.

Their ideology goes by many names: cancel culture, social justice, critical race theory, intersectionality. For simplicity, I call it all Wokeism. I am not about to equate Wokeism and Islamism.

  • Islamism is a militant strain of an ancient faith. Its adherents have a coherent sense of what God wants them to achieve on earth to earn rewards in the afterlife.
  • Wokeism is in many ways a Marxist creed; it offers no hereafter. Wokeism divides society into myriad identities, whereas Islamists’ segmentation is simpler: believers and unbelievers, men and women.

Oh, but the similarities abound:

The adherents of each constantly pursue ideological purity, certain of their own rectitude.

Neither Islamists nor the Woke will engage in debate; both prefer indoctrination of the submissive and damnation of those who resist.

Both like burning the American flag.

Both believe that those who refuse conversion may be harassed, or worse.

Both take offence at every opportunity and seek not just apologies but concessions.

Islamism inveighs against “blasphemy”; Wokeism wants to outlaw “hate speech.”

Islamists use the word “Islamophobia” to silence critics; the Woke do the same with “racism.”

Both ideologies aim to tear down the existing system and replace it with utopias that always turn out to be hellish anarchies: Islamic State in Raqqa, the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle.

Both are collectivist: Group identity trumps the individual.

Both tolerate — and often glorify — violence carried out by zealots.

Both prefer force rather than persuasion. All those Islamic territories were won by military conquest followed by forced conversion. (Christianity, in contrast, spread mostly by proselytizing.) The woke always want to grab control of state power to force us to their will, because centuries of rebuffs and failures have taught them that we are not convinced by their nonsense.

Woke and Islamists see themselves as allies, in the sense that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. In both cases the enemy is us, western normals.