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I’ve mentioned elsewhere that the often proposed division of Muslims into ‘Fundamentalists’ and ‘Moderates’ is unconvincing to me. The distinction is obviously political in origin and obscures more than it enlightens.
I would like therefore to propose a replacement theory, or rather definition, to explain the real difference between the believers who merely pray, and the believers who hijack airliners.
There are, I propose, two distinct types of Muslim in the world; Those who are Latent, and those who are Active. (*There will always be a minority who elude definition).
The Latent Muslim is in the clear majority, accounting perhaps for three quarters of the World Muslim population.
This kind of believer is typically serene and apolitical. He is opiated by his beliefs, rather than stimulated by them. Devout though they may be (and unlike Christians) they often have little curiosity for the battle of ideas.
The Active Muslim – by contrast – is someone whose experience has engaged the less sedating aspects of his faith. He is inclined towards the excitement of violence, death, punishment, procreation and conquest.
These Muslims will fight you until you believe exactly as they do, and possibly even afterward.
Crucially, (unlike with the false Fundamentalist/Moderate antonymy) the Latent Muslim can become an Active believer at any given time. The two conditions are not opposed, merely different, and the Active state is always quiescent in the Latent.
The signature fallacy of EU/US leaders has been to assume that extremism and moderation are real elements of Muslim self-identification; that they are innate, unchangeable and permanent. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
As Daniel Greenfield wrote:
“Politicians… wall off that vast majority of Muslims who did not actually come down to Woolwich and hack at a soldier with a machete and did not fly two planes into the World Trade Center from those who actually did. The hackers and pilots are extremists. The couch potatoes watching at home and cheering them on are moderates. That might be fine if we were discussing a gas station robbery in Cleveland. But to Muslims, Jihad isn’t an act of violence; it’s an act of faith.”
The Latent Muslim, as the name I have chosen implies, is not a moderate. He is unactivated. He lives quietly and habitually, enlivened only by foreign stimulus. It is this Foreign stimulus that tends to change the Latent into the Active. This explains for example, why those Muslims in 99% Muslim countries (Turkey, Saudi Arabia etc..) are largely Latent, whereas those in religiously divided lands (Lebanon, Egypt, Serbia/Kosovo, Britain, France) are more Active.
A more frivolous illustration would involve the mythology of Zombies.
Zombies (in some depictions) are unaggressive and docile among each other, but faced with a thinking human, become drones of monstrous conquest.
In the logic of Zombies, there is no ’friend or foe’, but simply ‘fellow or food’. And as wrong-headed as we would be to negotiate with the undead, perhaps we’d do better to reconsider our approach with Muslims based on the criteria described.