Obama, Kenya, Muslims and the English-Speaking Right on Epiphany Day.

One of the things that the idea of global ideological war between 'Western' states and the lands of Islam does is provide a certain amount of comfort to people when faced with the world's confusions. The appeal is of what psychologists call heuristics--easy rule of thumb processing codes by which a mass of information is made simple.

I have been struck by this point today in noodling around the web to see if there was any substance to the idea that the presidential candidate who was denied the office by electoral shenanigans in Kenya, Mr Odinga, had made a deal with fundamentalist Muslims.

The BBC is very keen to play down the idea. To read their report, there is no 'Muslim issue' in Kenya. Around ten per cent of that country are followers of the Qu-aran, and they are concentrated away from Kikuyu areas. Kikuyu are the majority ethnic group who are associated with President Mwai Kibaki.

Our home grown fatuous neoconservatives have reacted to an overheated Kenyan government manoeuvre. The relevant website in question, connected to a Christian newspaper, has actually reported differently since. It may be that there was a clear core of truth to their original report that an ill-judged decision was made in a memorandum of understanding that was not binding that a move towards Shariah law was a promise of Mr Odinga.

It's one of the few times that neoconservatives would praise evangelicals, if for their own purposes, since neocons spend most of their time drivelling on about how they hate christian faith. They claim (and the website from Stephen Pollard I've sent to you is representative) that Islamists have had a hand in creating the problem in Kenya, as they undoubtedly have elsewhere in East Africa and across the Indian Ocean.

Some of the more ferocious American right have gone even further though. One site, which is read quite a lot, claims that 'Barack Obama is a member of the same Kenyan tribe that supports Shariah law'. That's possibly factual, but racist by association as far as I am concerned since Mr Obama clearly has nothing to do with the contemporary views of that Luo group apart from a blood link. Blood does not carry with it opinions nor identity, necessarily, and Obama is a Christian. The attempt to associate Mr Obama, whose uncle lives in Kenya, with the Islamists, has now been reinforced by the New York Times.

So; we have the BBC desperately downplaying any Muslim behaviour out of a sense that the reporters don't want anything to do with the ongoing war between our lunatics and theirs, which is consuming braver men and women than the armchair warriors as I write in war after war. We have the Right spinning the Odinga agreement for Shariah (which is sad, I agree) into the opening of another fully-charged front with a Death Cult menace whose existence as an enemy gives their politics moral meaning.

And we have the Kenyans suffering within an Africa whose borders and imperfect or non-existent states and ruling classes are again the main fault here. I am more, as my reader knows, a supporter of the rule of law than of pure democracy.

Is what is going on in Kenya just a matter of democracy?

Can we just resolve our confusion as to what is going on by retreating to a story of a stolen election and a gallant but defrauded loser, and ignore all the other elements? Are we in any position to do so?

Quite apart from the fact that things on the ground are more dangerously complicated by what seems a real Islamist element, the west is in no position to do so.

Britain hasn't had a government for which the majority of people voted for sixty years or so, the last American President to have majority support was Nixon, and the most admirable state in Europe is the one that bans its people from voting in referendums or for all the members of parliament and which has 96000 tax laws, Germany. So no European is in a position to preach.

What are the pressures on people when trying to process the Kenyan situation?

But what we have in the English-speaking world, for want of a better term, is a sort of perfect storm composed of at least four elements. One element is represented by those who can be gathered under the broad term 'neoconservatives'. They are, Jewish, post-Christians or putative Christians, or Muslims or secularists who are in effect Calvinists for the Enlightenment. They think liberal democracy can be established everywhere, is in a monolithic form the solution to the problems of mankind and not just the least worst system of flawed humans, and that the world should be at war with Muslim death cults.

A second element is represented by those who would patronise the decolonised world, deny it modernisation or law, and ignore all the misbegotten behaviour of those who have discovered in the false prospectus of Islamism a way to elevate themselves. We all know them; those who would deny any association of those who claim to be Islamic with murderous trouble and with totalitarian behaviour. They are people for whom the environment is more important than human progress and comfort, except when they are pretending that a concern for people's health is a reason for restricting their freedom. For such people, the life affirming and ancient ideas of the Church, in its Catholic and Orthodox forms, are always to be knocked down, and Israel is always wrong.

A third element is represented by those vast corporate concerns, which do not operate in a deliberately coordinated fashion and which can be found in China and India as well as in Europe and America. Globalisation has its media class adherents whose creed is destructive of human society. Where it adopts 'communitarian' views, what is usually means is a sort of wishy-washy instrumentalism in which people use each other for their own happiness rather than sacrifice for the community. But the main thrust of this group is to find new markets for banks, for capitalism, and for the commodification of everything. It is associated with a really quite inefficient approach to resources, with periodic media panics, with the false presentation of choice, and with the idea that by falling into debt and investing sex or materials with happiness people can be free. A substantial element of it, and it is a ruthless process, involves a vast global defense industry that subsists on hot war.

And a fourth element is us. Ordinary people. Overworked, overtired, apathetic because we don't believe that we can change anything and because we owe bills. The vacuum into which these forces fall is left because most people cannot afford the time or money to engage politically and because a self-sustaining class of mediocre leaders won't allow people to question the rubbish about immigration, anti-nuclear environmentalism, or global warming as a product of industry that cannot be reversed except by ceasing science. We are fed rubbish (literally) and the real things that make life worth living, faith, food, love, family and the life of the contemplative mind are constantly undermined.

So, as a society, a political entity, we can't process what is going on in Kenya because we are in confusion ourselves.

The West must change and get away from these old pressures to a clearer vantage point if we are to protect ourselves. We require renewal.

Change can come. People want it. But it won't immediately.

The root of the challenge

The oil now seems to be running out and because new deposits will simply not be enough to fuel the west and China and India and the others in economic growth or the sort of economy to which the rich world has become accustomed. There are people in positions of power or mischief on both sides of the West and Islam who are out for war. Ordinary people cannot be expected to turn around and reject this mad order precisely because most people want a good life and want to pay their debts. But we need to get our house in order very very soon, and reject selfish destructive atheistic materialism and knee jerk opinions.

But change must come.

We need to discover our true freedom, by increments and by epiphanies.


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