There is a peculiar tragedy to a religion which cannot escape its own destructive nature, each time it reaches for some form of redemption, its hands come up dripping with blood and it all ends in more bodies and petty tyrannies.
"Reform," of course, means to change oneself or some institution for the better, from bad and corrupt to good and pure, or at least to the unobtrusive benign. But, as Greenfield points out and stresses, the Arab Spring is in reality a continuation of an ongoing "Arab Winter." The "Arab Spring" was fueled by Islam, and Islam is, by its foundational nature, destructive and self-destructive.
Islam's only redemption is in establishing a theocracy. Its commitment to power and the indulgence of the earthly and heavenly paradise of loot, slaves and violence, led to its own degeneration over and over again. Having no other spiritual form than the exercise of power, it has corrupted itself each time, and then attempted to exorcise the corruption through more of the same.
Any theocracy must be totalitarian. It can become totalitarian by default or happenstance or by negligence, or it can become totalitarian according to an instruction manual written by clerics and intellectuals friendly to what they know in their minds are dystopias for the masses and paradises for the rulers. Islam has its instruction manuals.
Islam governs an individual's life from his sandals to his beard, from his diet to the number of times a day he must demonstrate fealty to his icons, to how he may lawfully (per Sharia law) treat his wives and children. It governs his social relationships with his friends and enemies, and his enemies are everyone who is not Muslim. The Koran, the Hadith, and the Reliance of the Traveler all command it. They are how-to manuals written chiefly in Arabic and translated into a dozen languages.
A Muslim accepts this state of submission – whether or not he's read all the manuals from beginning to end – for a variety of reasons, none of them complimentary and too often those reasons become a Molotov cocktail blend waiting to explode: a repressed, unacknowledged fear of the mortal consequences of not conforming; mental inertia, encouraged by an unquestioning faith in non-evidentiary assertions; a delusional sense of superiority (qua Muslim, and qua Muslim male); a sense of predestination; an attitude of privilege and expectation of deference; and a borrowed sense of omniscience.
After all, the propaganda goes, Islam will conquer men, neighborhoods, cities, nations, and the globe. It is written. Fealty to Islam gives a rank-and-file Muslim the comforting confidence that he's on the winning side. Why bother to think about it? Islam is like an advancing glacier, and he is but a lump of ice on it. He doesn’t mind. He knows that he's just dross, a grain of ballast that helps to keep the Islamic corsair upright and afloat and its sails taut in the wind.
Islam cannot be "reformed" unless its caretakers repudiate its instruction manuals. But their repudiation would necessarily entail the repudiation of Islam. When the manuals go up in flames, so will Islam.
Writing about the turmoil in the Middle East over the past two years, Greenfield bursts the balloon, which has mesmerized Western leaders and the Mainstream Media, that the turmoil represents a kind of weird "jihad" among Muslims to find "democracy" and stability and a just society.
Apologists for Islamism like to portray those groups as liberation movements, but there is nothing liberating about terrorist groups run by millionaires and billionaires, doctors and other degree holders, and funded by the ruling clans of Kuwait, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. These ruling families have the most to lose from modernization, and though they build skyscrapers in their cities, they also helped orchestrate the Arab Spring to topple more modern governments and replace them with parties affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Turkey, which seemed to be sliding towards Westernization, has succumbed to the intrinsic malaise that Islam inculcates in any culture, and has rejected the West. It now has a leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who announced his Islamic fealty long ago:
In a public gathering in 1998, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, leader of the ruling Islamist party and current Prime Minister of Turkey, recited: "The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers..." These words earned him a conviction and minor jail-term for inciting religious hatred.
He has made good on his poetry, and has accelerated Turkey's collapse into an Islamic polity.
After an interminable wait to be admitted into the European Union (a rather dubious benefit, given the shaky economic and political condition of the EU), Erdoğan has now spurned the chance and wishes to join a cabal of authoritarian governments dominated by China and Vladimir Putin's Russia, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Totalitarian or authoritarian states will not automatically move in the direction of "democracy" or Western values unless they renounce their obsession with power. The Mideast, however, is now a battleground for power between Islamic factions. The "Arab Spring," as Greenfield portrays it, was simply a rerun of past Mideast "rebellions" and "revolutions" and upheavals, only with different faces, mobs, slogans and weapons.
Islam in any country where it has reigned for decades will not let that country go. Like a tapeworm, it gnaws away at men's minds and the culture until the men and the culture submit and accept Islam as a parasite by right.
Let us imagine that a work-a-day, average, devout Muslim permits himself a secret, muffled chuckle about his conundrum and how deep a hole he has dug himself into by just "going with the Islamic flow," and is content with being a grain of ballast in the Islamic ship-of-state. He might laugh at himself, but what is it that he would really be laughing about when he's brought to the brink of doubt or bothers to entertain speculation, especially about Islam? The ludicrousness of his beliefs, of his unquestioned assumptions, and the ubiquitous banality of the evil they foster, when they are brought into the unforgiving sunlight of reason and rationality.
A Muslim who still retains a shred of repressed rationality would think in a surreptitious manner it would be hard for any normal person to imagine: What? Why do I suspect in the darkest corner of my heart that Allah is really a psychopathic, whim-worshipping deity whom I would not want for a parent?
What? Was Mohammed, our faceless poster boy of virtue and goodness, really a brigand who founded a religion to justify his sociopathic habits, such as murder, pedophilia, rape, betrayal, dishonesty, and plunder? What? If Islam is so benevolent and peace-loving and magnanimous, why does it promise eternal hell and the most agonizing torments of apostates and non-believers?
What? That man over there has his own deity, and I have mine, yet I am expected to slit his throat for not believing in mine, while he would never think to slit mine for not believing in his? What? What have these children done that they deserve to have guns put to their heads and murdered? What? Why are young girls tortured by clitirectomies?
What? What possesses parents when they conspire to murder their own daughters? Where is the "honor" in killing them because they wished to escape the suffocating ethos and burqas? What? How is beating one's wife for simple infractions or for disobedience an act of justice? How heinous a crime is it for a wife to glance at another man, and is it more heinous to murder her for it?
What? If infidel women who do not cover up are filthy whores, would it not make sense to not rape them, and not risk contracting their filth? What? If alcohol is evil, why does it make so many people happy? Is happiness evil? What? Why do I deny myself everything that seems to allow infidels and even Jews to enjoy living?
What? Can Allah be so pleased with having created so many unhappy, envious, and hateful beings – as we are?
Envy in a Muslim may not necessarily lead to crime. He would need to hide it from his fellows. Jealousy, another powerful emotion, however, can lead to hate and trigger the crimes and irrationality a Muslim may harbor doubts about. It's up to him which way he goes.
The Muslim who asks himself those questions, becomes an apostate. But there aren't very many of them running around, are there? That is because Islam is a nihilistic, totalitarian ideology, perfect for anyone who refuses to think. Those who choose to think are marked for a fatwa and termination. They know it. That takes courage and honesty, and a commitment to reality, actions possible only to an individual who chooses to think.
They, better than anyone else, more than any non-Muslim scholar who questions the morality and feasibility of Islam, know that Islam cannot be "reformed," not in its doctrines, not through revolution or régime change or rioting in Tahir Square or fighting each other in Syria.