Rock the Kasbah

Through a Glass Darkly

What is a prophet, and what is the gift of prophecy? The ancients had it that prophecy was information, news of the future that had not yet happened, but which must happen. Perhaps the Fates or the Norns had decreed it, woven it into their tapestry, like the tapestry of Nephren-Ka that “precorded” every day of the future, rolled back by the priests of Nyarlathotep each new morning.. Or perhaps it was determined by the resolution of Jehovah who knew the future no more than we do but could decree and create it with ineluctable power that no lesser agency might resist. But either way, a divine entity had vouchsafed such knowledge to a mortal, and he reported on it. In principle it was no different than a teacher informing her students of what had happened in the past.

By contrast, I have much more respect for the powers of the futurologist, he who cannot see the future except as its unfolding seems to him implied in contemporary events. He can discern the signs of the times and infer where events are heading. What is a curtain to others, concealing the future’s great and secret show, is for the analyst a window through which he can see a shifting illusion of change. And if that mirage becomes real with the passage of time, we acknowledge that he had truly seen, that is, extrapolated, the future.

A prime example would be Russian political scientist Andrei Amalric. In 1970 he wrote a book called Will the Soviet Union Survive until 1985? (The American publisher got him to change the date to the apocalyptic 1984.) In it he took a long look at the Union of very disparate Soviet Socialist Republics and ventured that the union could not resist the centripetal force of competing and incompatible ethnicities, languages, politics, and traditions. It would unravel in a mere 15 years. Well, he was five years premature, but otherwise he was exactly right: little Estonia, followed by the other Baltic States, Then the rest, seceded, and nobody could do anything about it. I couldn’t believe it! How did Amalric know? Did some god or angel inform him, like Jehovah telling Abraham of his plan to destroy Sodom? No. Amalric had the wits to assess the relative weight of major factors and to discern the signs of the times. Precisely like Isaac Asimov’s character Hari Seldon in Foundation.

And, I may add, just like H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft’s racist and nativist views are well known, though at his best he was no more of a racist than Jimmy Carter with his talk of neighborhoods preserving their “ethnic purity.” He disdained “race mixing,” “miscegenation,” as illustrated in “The Shadow over Innsmouth,” where the text speaks of  hybrid Deep Ones but the subtext intends Polynesian Islanders, equally repulsive to Lovecraft. We are children of the 1960s and of its legacy. We categorically reject racism and embrace the wonderful, glittering diversity of the human race in all its variations. I know I do. I always have.

But we are cheating ourselves if we fail to hear some important news from Lovecraft, a warning, much like Andrei Amalric’s, of what HPL could see coming. What he saw impending on the historical horizon was the overthrow of Eurocentric, logocentric, that is to say rationalistic cultural hegemony. The battlements of the historic West, he said, would be assaulted by non-Westerners with creeds based on emotion and superstition, with reason their first casualty. Chaos should ensue. He saw a revolution not like the American, French, or even Russian Revolutions where the have-nots toppled the castles of the haves, but rather a Copernican Revolution, where the dominant worldview would crash and burn. In Nietzsche’s terms, it was not like the earth snapping the chains that bound it to the sun to soar freely through the universe. That metaphor stood for the death of God and of objective truth and the resultant freedom of Nihilism. Rather, what Lovecraft foresaw requires a different Nietzschianism: that of the danger of the Superman allowing himself to be stung and bitten to death by a horde of insects, taken down by a thousand threats and judgments one does not feel at liberty to defy. But the Superman must defy! He cannot be defeated unless he forgets who he is and lets his sword fall from sleepy, nerveless fingers. Yes, admittedly Lovecraft portrayed the carriers of this plague as Mediterraneans, Africans, Asians, and Arabs, mestizos and half-castes. That is the shrill voice of Lovecraft the racist. Let us turn a deaf ear to that. But not to the warning itself.

And, as Nietzsche’s Mad Prophet said, that warning has been a long time arriving at its destination. And the time is now. We now live in the time of the teetering of reason and Western Civilization that Lovecraft predicted. We do not see aberrant cultists committing ritual murder and human sacrifice. We do not hear of Yog-Sothoth or of the Necronomicon of  the “mad Arab” Abdul Alhazred. These, too, were fictional idioms in which the warning was conveyed. What we do hear and see, however, is religious zealots massacring thousands with airplanes, subway explosions, and suicide bombs. We hear of honor killings, people killed over hair styles, fanatical hatred of Jews and infidels. Instead of the Necronomicon, these poison winds flow forth from the Koran. It seems that Abdul Alhazred was the father of a multitude of mad Arabs. And, as the worshippers of the Old Ones sought to clear the earth of human life and prepare for the reign of their depraved gods, today’s “Islamism” is determined to raise up the worldwide caliphate, a regime of holy terror, scripture-quoting tyranny. Freedom is a vice to such madmen. And they are dedicated to extinguishing it in a rain of blood. It is for all the world like the dreams of the Cthulhu cultists who sought to hasten the day when they should reign and impose upon all unbelievers a jihad of bloody terror.


Bin Laden as Alhazred

Lovecraft describes Alhazred as only an indifferent Muslim, a closet worshipper of Yog-Sothoth. Thus he does not indict Islam as his civilization-threatening cult. And that is correct: it is only a minority of Muslims who are sympathetic to Jihad. A mere 10%. Of course that works out to a “mere” one hundred million! As for the remainder, they are singularly unwilling to take a stand against the fanaticism of their Jihadi brethren. They may constitute inert dead weight, but you can see which side of the scale they weigh on. In this case, I’m afraid Sam Harris is correct: the moderate majority serves to camouflage the deadly minority. You see this when oblivious Politically Correct liberals reject all criticism of Islamist terrorists as “Islamophobia.” They commit the Sweeping Generalization fallacy. Most Muslims are fine folks, so the same must be true, they imagine, of all Muslims. Thus for me to denounce Islamo-fascists is somehow supposed to be a vilification of all Muslims, so these PC fools bemoan timely warnings as hate speech. It is all quite sad.

If the amphibian Deep Ones stood for Polynesian Islanders, frightening to the paranoid Lovecraft, the Cthulhu cultists correspond in our day to Islamism, Jihadism. What makes Lovecraft’s fiction prophetic is that it is coming true as fact. And, as HPL intimated, we do not possess the decisive courage to turn back that assault. Whining Islamists demand and gain special treatment, for instance Shania law courts in the UK and USA and special exemptions from airport security measures made necessary by their co-religionists and no one else. Major publishers are already censoring themselves in order to avoid riling up Muslims. British schools are skipping teaching the Holocaust because it offends Muslim extremists who like to pretend it never happened, meanwhile planning to drive Israel into the sea—as they themselves constantly remind us.

Don’t you see the pattern here? Western civilization, the one that invented democracy, rationalism, religious toleration, equal rights for the races, the sexes, and for homosexuals, is being bullied into appeasement, “Finlandization.” What blithering, dithering fools we have become! How decadent and sententious, inviting our conquerors with an open door!

I am a New Testament scholar, and as such I cannot ignore the perilous parallel with the insidious logic of 1 Corinthians 8:9-13, whose author bids those Christians who enjoy freedom of faith, action, and thought, to forego these freedoms so as not to “offend” the “weaker brethren” who are bound by neurotic legalism. Well, he could never have imagined the neurotic legalism of those who declare fatwahs on infidel cartoonists or who want yodeling banned as an offense (somehow!) against Islam! Paul, or whoever may have written it, did not seem to realize that these “weaker brothers,” self-styled victims of offense, offended at the freedom of others, turn out to be the stronger brothers, before whose petulant whining all others must yield. Today, out of spineless politeness to the tender feelings of terrorists, we mute criticism of them. For fear of being called “Islamophobic,” we stifle criticism of Islamo-fascism.

Let no one accuse me of stirring up hatred for the sublime faith of Islam. I have studied it and appreciated it for decades. I love it now. I love it when Muslims proudly share the treasures of their culture with the rest of us. I have read the Koran four times in various translations and intend to read it again and yet again.

What shall we do? We must understand when we are being played for fools, our freedoms turned into tricks and traps against us. It is possible to turn swords into ploughshares and to have them be all the deadlier. We must stop tying ourselves in knots, disrupting our free travel and speech and commerce, allowing the mere possibility of Islamist threats to sacrifice our freedoms, bringing about precisely the result the terrorists seek. We must stop pretending that terror may as easily come from the stooped Italian grandmother in line for the airplane because we are afraid of being accused of “profiling.” We will perish from the same obtuseness exhibited by Wilmarth (in Lovecraft’s “The Whisperer in Darkness”) who just could not recognize his danger.

We face terror and murder and the slow erosion of freedom from people who proudly proclaim their love for death and martyrdom. Death is no deterrence to them.

What would be? What might count as a weapon against them? I have heard of two ideas, so loathsome to our enlightened sensibilities that we will not allow ourselves to consider them, though we must. First, we ought to alert every terrorist, every Islamist combatant, that if they are caught they will be executed with bits of pork stuffed into every orifice. According to their barbaric superstition, this should bar their entrance to the Playboy Club in the sky. That might make them think twice (or once).


Second, we ought to let it be known that if there is another terror strike against the West, or if the fanatics should, say, try to level the “idolatrous” Pyramids and Sphinx, as the Egyptian Salafist sect urges, we will not hesitate to unleash upon holy Mecca that monstrous nuclear chaos which Alhazred mercifully cloaked under the name Azathoth.

So says Zarathustra.

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