Monday, September 30, 2013

The Bible on Nairobi

If you want to understand what is going on with the Nairobi shootings, at the Westgate Mall and at the Gujba College of Agriculture dorm, then the first stop is Ayaan Hirsi Ali's coming-of-age memoir, Infidel.  Because she was there.

Born a Somali in Mogadishu during the Marxist rule of dictator Siad Barre, Ayaan's childhood took place on the cusp between the old tribe and clan world of her grandmother and the exploding Islamism in the cities, including Nairobi, where Ayaan spent her teenage years.

The complete meltdown of the Barre regime in the early 1990s meant that hundreds of thousands of Somalis fled to the border with Kenya, and many of them like Ayaan managed to get into Kenya.  If you want to know how quickly the everyday world descends into disease and hunger when people have to flee their homes for their lives, then read the book.

The refugees ended up in Nairobi, and the young 'uns went to school.  They might be Christian schools left over from the Brits.  Or they might be madrassas run by the Muslim Brotherhood.

The point that comes out of Ayeen's childhood and her book Infidel is not that the cynical Arabs are poisoning young minds with their mullahs and their money.  It is that the young minds, pitched out of the tribal world into a modern-ish metropolis, are eagerly looking for something to make sense of their lives.

Religion, whether transcendental or secular, is the way that humans make sense of their lives.

Marxism is a religion just like the rest.  It promises heaven on earth, if only we can liquidate the evil bourgeoisie and the capitalists.

Ayaan herself went through numerous religious stages, and being a girl, this involved constantly figuring out what to wear.  She designed for herself a shapeless garment that she calls a hidjab.

And Nairobi was full of proselytizing preachers.
The charismatic Christians were no less aggressive than the fundamentalist Muslims in those days.  The whole country [Kenya] was falling apart and perhaps people were grabbing for certainties... Shabby street-front churches began to sprout where once there were grocery stalls.
But at the same time, good Muslim girls like Ayaan were going to movies and reading English novels, everything from Jane Austen to trashy romance novels.

Of course there is violence and war in the streets in places like Nairobi.  That's what happened during the industrial revolution in the west.  And guess when Marxism reared its ugly head?  In the mid 19th century when "thousands [of Germans] were driven from their homes by unemployment and unrest."  It was obviously a big thing in Germany because the Germans are the most numerous ethnic group in the US.  They didn't up-sticks because they felt like a vacation.

In all the worry about Islam we easily forget that there is another religion that is spreading throughout the world like wildfire.  Christianity.  And its most virulent form is the Pentecostalism that began in 1906 in a street-front church in Asuza, California.

We don't hear too much about the Christian side of this partly because liberals aren't interested.  And partly because it is a girl thing.

Think about it.  Men are fighters and women are lovers.  Islam urges a global holy war against the infidels, and Christianity says that God loves you, and that God sacrificed his Son for you.  So who do you think would be attracted to Islam, and who would be attracted to Christianity?

We know about Ayaan Hirsi Ali because she ended up in Holland, ended up going to college, ended up the proximate cause of the murder of film-maker Theo van Gogh, and she ended up writing a book about it.  She also ended up marrying historian Niall Ferguson.

But there are hundred of millions of people emerging out of the tribal nomad world and the feudal agricultural world into the modern world, and their lives are not a fairy tale.  Ayaan's own sister, Haweya, just gave up and died.

The question is: what shall be done?  You can argue that the colonial era was a crime.  But then the Marxist dictators are an abomination.  And the mullahs are flying millions of innocents into a box canyon.

You can say that Bush was a fool to imagine that he could plant democracy in Iraq.  But then the Obama turn to the Islamists looks like pure liberal folly.

Maybe we should get back to basics.  Maybe we should get back to individualism, responsibility, limited government, civil society, and goodwill.  That's what we say we believe in, after all.

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