Western Wahhabism entered the global arena in 1620 when a small band of pilgrims left England and sailed for North America. The Puritans amongst them were the most narrow, parochial, sectarian, violent, neurotic, fanatical, racist, sexist, self-justifying, perfidious, hypocritical, fundamentalist, insecure, and self-exonerating order you could find anywhere on the planet. Today this Western Wahhabism is at war with Eastern Wahhabism, founded in the 1700s by Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab; just like the Puritans, as a counter to cataclysm, bloodshed, civil strife, war, schism.
Western Wahhabism’s counter to difference – “Apache” Indian, African slave, imperialist competitor, communism, Islam, independent, secular, liberal, Chinese, Mexican, Russian, left, black, woman, young black man, whistleblower, democratic, free or wild (as in animals) – was to smallpox it, torch it, enslave it, cannon-ball shoot it, invade it, demonize it, obfuscate it, assassinate it, carpet bomb it, marginalize it, jail it, kill and capture it, or overthrow it, with a CIA poison or instigated revolt. With a religious, neurotic, incendiary zeal. Its hot gospellers are FOX, CNN, ABC, Voice of America, and less evangelical, but just as perfidious, the BBC.
What had kept Eastern Wahhabism in check is the rise of secular leaders, Nasser, Saddam, Gadhafi, Assad, and strong secularist elements in Lebanon, Palestine, Iran, Israel, and in Saudi Arabia itself; the House of Saud has used Wahhabism, protected and promoted it, since the mid-18th century.
What has kept Western Washington Wahhabism in check are also strong secular political and cultural elements: its writers (The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1950); artists (the emergence of a “Negro” aesthetic in the Harlem Renaissance at the beginning of the 20th century); rebels, John Brown, the anti-slavery martyr, in the late 19th century; conscientious objectors, Muhammad Ali, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Bradley Manning in our times; global movements and technology, the emergence of left wing politics, the internet, and grassroots movements that constantly attack forms of state and federal violence, corruption, hubris and overreach – for example, the Civil Rights, the anti-War and the Occupy Wall Street movements.
ISIS, or Da’ish, is the result of the attack of Western Wahhabism on the secular leaders and nations of the Middle East, notably in Afghanistan, beginning in the 1970s (from which Osama bin Ladin, a Saudi, emerged), Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Lebanon, Syria. ISIS, its tenets, ideology, is an opportunistic partner, and handmaiden, of Eastern Wahhabism. Whatever Wahhabism has pronounced, and perhaps not acted on, ISIS is attempting to do: it is narrow, parochial, sectarian, violent, neurotic, fanatical, racist, sexist, self-justifying, perfidious, hypocritical, fundamentalist, insecure, and self-exonerating: the counterpart of Western Wahhabism: Western Jihadism, the Western Hawks, the Western Radical Right, The Western Tea Party, the Western Washington Consensus, the Kissinger-Reagan-Bush Axis, the Trump-Hillary-Rubio Doctrine.
To put it simply, the guns of terror, racism and violence are being released simultaneously, with all their historical furore, in the West and the East. Secularism, the secular leader, cultural and political activism, which seemed to keep these forces in check, are being silenced, jailed, marginalized or thwarted by mainstream media and bankster-led consumerism. This is the world of 1914, 1939.
We in the Caribbean, Latin America, must not be fooled. We must not take medicine for other people’s sickness. We ought not to take sides. Terror by any name is terror. We must always call, fight steadfastly for peace, for non-violence. We must buttress, build our economies against global war. We must insist on non-alignment; reject, equally, the twins of terror, Eastern and Western Wahhabism. And build and continue to reform secular cultural and political institutions. When Muhammad Ali, the boxer, was drafted to go to fight in Vietnam, he refused to go. No “yellow man”, he said, ever done him anything wrong. No “yellow man” ever beat, enslaved or waged Klu Klux jihad against him.