Western middle-class rebel-girls are fashionably anorectic, more concerned with shedding inches from their own bodies than with changing history even by a few inches. (I in no way mean to mock or minimize the real epidemic of eating disorders among girls and women and am focusing here on the epidemic’s larger cultural dimensions).
Western rebel-girls are often drug addicts, alcoholics, self-mutilators, “cutters;” they dabble in “nervous breakdowns” and pen Memoirs about their asylum stays before they are 25. They also “slum” as a way of passing as rebels. Thus, unlike the children of poverty, girls with educations and high-income families, “act out” by becoming strippers, pornography stars, prostitutes. Or, they merely dress as if they had been trafficked into sexual slavery, and wear incredibly tiny skirts and blouses with plunging-necklines right down to their be-jeweled navels. (Yes, this is taking place in the West even as other girls and women are religiously modest, have joined the Armed Forces, or are running corporate entities. All these realities are taking place simultaneously.)
Their female counterparts in the Islamist world are quite different. On the one hand, some of the bravest freedom-fighters in the world today are Muslim and ex-Muslim anti-jihadists. But then, there are Muslim women jihadists, like twenty-three year old Samira Malik, who worked at London’s Heathrow Airport and who has just been convicted as a “lyrical terrorist” under under Britain’s terrorism legislation.
Police found documents in which Malik said she wanted “the opportunity to take part in the blessed, sacred duty of jihad.” She not only stashed manuals about hand-to-hand combat, bomb-making, and rocket-launching, she also wrote poems in which she praised “be-heading.” (“It’s not as messy or as hard as some may think/Its all about the flow of the wrist.”) And, on internet social networking sites, Malik described her favorite television shows as the “be-heading” videos, bin Laden videos, and “videos which show massacres of kaffirs (infidels).”
In America, Malik would be lauded as a warrior of “resistance.” First Amendment groups would protest her having been convicted merely for her words and ideas (or for “thought crimes”). She would become yet another instant hero, find a publisher, perhaps even land a job teaching poetry at an Ivy League university.
I can’t believe that I am actually praising Britain–but in this instance, they have forced my hand.
My good friend and colleague, Dr. Nancy Kobrin, views Malik as a “high functioning” sociopath, similar to the “high functioning serial killer mass murderer jihadi doctors who allegedly fit in on the surface but who lack empathy.”
She has a point. Malik is not using her literary skills to empathize with humanity. Au contraire. Perhaps the only aggression that a Muslim woman is allowed to exhibit is in the service of jihad and religiosity; perhaps this is the only career path to glory for otherwise subordinated Muslim women.
The interviews done with Palestinian women whose suicide killing missions were intercepted by the Israelis (and who have been written about by Dr. Anat Berko, and filmed by both Pierre Rehov and Shaun Beyer), confirm the nature of their culturally empowered hatreds. Yes, perhaps some of these women are “mentally ill” but this is not relevant. Their potentially murderous deeds have full cultural approval and they are treated (and view themselves) as religious heroes with moral agency.
Dr. Kobrin makes one other important point. Such jihadis “subvert” our common social norms. They turn their destructive thoughts into destructive deeds. “Just like flying planes into buildings, they subverted the globally accepted norm that planes are for transportation not to be turned into bombs.” In Samira Malik’s case, “so too do they seek even to destroy and strip language from us, throwing us back into a horrifying world similar to that of an autistic person.”
Thus, on our side , our civilian (not our warrior) icons include Britney Spears, Madonna, Paris Hilton, Courtney Love, and countless western wannabees. On the jihadi civilian team, we have young women who are ready to kill and die for Allah, for bin Laden, and for jihad.
What’s wrong with this picture?