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Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Mirage of Moderate Islam

Travelers across the vast stretches of the Arabian Desert have been known to get lost and, in their thirst and exhaustion, hallucinate oases with palm trees and flowing water. Western policymakers lost in the vast stretches of madness that define the Muslim world are even more wont to hallucinate the oasis of a moderate Islam to take refuge in. Whether you're dying for a drink or a way to reaffirm your reality, a mirage is sometimes the only way you can find it.

Moderate Islam is a mirage, a projection by desperate Westerners of their own values and culture onto an entirely different religion and culture. It is a mirage that many Muslims are eager to uphold, in the same way that desert merchants might sell goblets and bowls of sand to passing travelers foolish enough to confuse water with dust. And, like travelers who think they are drinking water, when they are actually swallowing sand, it is a deception that will eventually kill the deceived.

When the Western cultural elite look at Islam, they see what they have to see to avoid falling into crisis mode. Like the traveler who would rather choke on sand, than face up to the fact that he is lost in a desert, they would rather keep most things as they are, even at the cost of the extinction of the nations they preside over, than confront the full scope of the threat surrounding them. A threat that they had a hand in nurturing and feeding in the name of goals that seemed to make sense at the time.

It is easier to segregate a "Bad Islam" composed of a tiny minority of extremists from the generally "Good Islam" of the rulers of the Muslim world and the waves of Muslim immigrants washing up on their shores. This segregation has no objective reality, and is nothing but a psychological defense mechanism against experiencing the full reality of a disaster. From the Titanic to World War II, there are numerous similar situations in which the people in charge chose to ignore a growing crisis at a horrific cost.

The two primary paradigms through which Western political elites see Islam, are that of tyranny on the right, and that of the evils of Western foreign policy on the left. Bush employed the former when he defined the problem as being one of tyranny, rather than Islam. Having defined the problem in terms of a majority of "Good Muslims" oppressed by "Bad Tyrants", Bush tried to liberate the former from the latter, only to discover that there was a good deal of overlap between the two. Under Obama, we have seen the left implement its own construct of Islam, as popular resistance movements against colonial oppression, who are reacting to the evils of American foreign policy. This knee-jerk Marxist formula goes one worse than the Bush Administration by defining terrorists as "Good Muslims" and moderates as "Yankee Puppets".

But the only item of true significance to emerge from the contrast of these worldviews is the revelation that American political leaders from both sides of the spectrum still view Islam in terms of the old Cold War struggle between Communism and Capitalism. Like many generals who fight every war in terms of the last war, the political leaders of the West still see Islam in Cold War colors, which prevents them from seeing it for what it is.

While Islam shares some common denominators with Communism, as well as Nazism, it is also a quite different entity than either one. For one thing it is not Western in any sense of the word. It does not rely on a centralized leadership. It has had over a thousand years to seep into the culture of the regions it has conquered. That has made Islam into an identity in a much more profound way, than Adolf or Vladimir could have ever managed with their own crackpottery.

Islam predates the political movements such as Communism and Nazism that arose to fill a vacuum of faith in a secularizing West with dreams of racial and economic utopias. It is the original sin of the East, a ruthless religion based on stolen beliefs and stolen property. Its moment of religious transcendence was not that of the law or the spirit, but the sight of tribal rivalries uniting under a single green banner. The banner of Islam.

The powerful appeal of Islam has been rooted in that dream of unity, an idea that is hard for more civilized peoples to understand because they take unity for granted. Yet any European need only turn to the fierce struggle for an independent and united German nation in the 19th Century, or for an independent and united Italy around the same time. An eventual outcome in which both nations ruled by nationalist regimes faced off together against England and France during WW2 could be traced back to that false sense of destiny which papered over national insecurities with blood.

But nationalism requires meaningful national identities, while the Muslim world only has artificial borders drawn by colonial administrations, differences in Arabic slang and bitter familial rivalries. Despite the best efforts of Arab Socialist autocrats like Gamal Abdel Nasser or Saddam Hussein, the vaunted unity of the Arab nation failed to materialize. While Nasser admired Hitler and Hussein admired Stalin, neither was able to turn their respective countries into anything even as barely functional as Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia. Instead, Nasser got by on Soviet aid and Saddam Hussein on oil money.

Glance at a map, and you will see the Muslim world defined in terms of borders and politicians, but, as Allied troops along the Afghan-Pak border are discovering, the actual Muslims on the ground define themselves in terms of tribe and family, not nation. The Muslim world is a hodgepodge of dispossessed ethnic groups crammed into artificial nation states created by the UK and the UN. Nation states that have a vote at the UN, an embassy off Turtle Bay and little tangible reality.

If that sounds farfetched, consider that there is an actual debate among foreign policy experts over who really runs Pakistan. Many European observers of Turkey have a similar debate going there as well. Most of the Muslim world is run by families, like the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Some are run by dictators who took part in military coups and hold power using the military and the secret police. These are the only forms of stable government in the Muslim world that matter.

Without a dictator or a powerful ruling family, or clique of them, civil war follows. Yemen has been torn apart by such tribal civil wars for a long time now, the latest phase of the war is being conducted with the participation of Al Queda. Anwar Al-Awlaki, the infamous Imam, did not join Al Queda merely out of anger or ideology, he did it because his Awlaki family is allied with the local Yemeni Al Queda. Think about that for a moment, and you begin to see the byzantine maze of loyalties and alliances in the vast desert of the Muslim world.

Empires and kingdoms combined church and state in order to insure that there would be no contradiction between religion and the authorities, that the will of the king would also be the will of god. Mohammed tried to make the same leap in the multicultural environs of Mecca, eliminating all religions but the one he had newly created in order to glue together the warring families and tribes. That act was and is the essential basis of Islam. Everything else is borrowed glamor from the other religions that he had subjugated and destroyed to make way for Islam.

For Muslims, that initial bloody butchery is the only true act of religious significance that matters. Because for a brief shining moment, the internecine quarrels were brutally suppressed, and thousands of backstabbing desert tribesmen came to see themselves as something larger and greater. Of course that false unity collapsed back into warring families and tribes. Which has made it all the more of an unattainable dream. It is why Jihad is the ultimate religious act for a Muslim, and why the Caliphate is the great religious goal.

In the face of this understanding, any talk of a moderate Islam is nothing but a farce. To Muslims, Islam is what the Thousand Year Reich was to Nazis and a United World is to socialists. A perfect form of global unity that must be achieved at any cost.

A moderate Muslim might pursue such a goal "peacefully" through Dawa or missionary work, but successful Muslim mass conversions have taken place either directly or indirectly through the sword. Even Muslim missionary successes in the West take place in the context of Muslim terrorism. There is no Islam without the sword, because it has no meaning or identity without violence. A non-violent Islam is nothing but a collection of tribal mores and borrowed religious ideas. It quickly recedes to the secular and the cultural, driving the Islamists to revive its core ethos through acts of violence and terror.

This is what Western political and cultural leaders do not understand. The Right is correct that Islam, like Communism, can be weakened by capitalism, but it cannot be destroyed that way. Because Islam is not incompatible with business; it originated among merchants after all. The fruits of capitalism can help secularize Islam, but not without empowering the very same type of merchants who helped create it. That is why American capitalism has helped create the terrorist threat by enriching the new rulers of Mecca, the House of Saud, which has expanded its own power by funding a new Islamic invasion against its best customers in the West. And so history repeats itself again.

The Islamists have shown that they can quite effectively exploit Capitalism and Democracy to further their aims. Capitalism brought down the Soviet Union, but it could not give Russians a meaningful identity. Instead, it financed the rise of a new Russian totalitarian regime of KGB bosses and oligarchs who had grown wealthy on the profits from Western business. Even Communist China has shown that it can incorporate Capitalism and only become more of a threat by doing so.

The fundamental error conservative American political leaders made was to assume that Capitalism and Democracy were absolute forms of good, in reality they're simply tools and prisms which different cultures use to express their potential in different ways. The Bush Administration showed the limits of applying Cold War rhetoric to Islamic realities. Or treating 1.5 billion Muslims as the demographic equivalent of 1500 nuclear bombs, without ever admitting the attitude behind the diplomacy.

The Left, however, is even more wrong, falling back on its old habit of treating all enemies as resistance movements against capitalism, globalism and all the isms that they associate with First World nation states. If the Right is still echoing Ronald Reagan, the Left is still stuck on the Philippine–American War of the 19th Century. And while the Right has shown that it can learn, the Left has only shown that it can shout the same self-destructive thing even louder. The Obama Administration is an exercise in national self-hatred. A ritual purging for the sins of Western success similar to an anorexic vomiting after every meal.

If the Right has some ideas for dealing with Islam, the Left has decided that Islam is right. There is no logic behind this, but that of "The enemy of my enemy is my friend", along with unhealthy doses of orientalism and the fetishization of the Noble Savage.

American foreign policy triggers Muslim rage, as do cartoons in Europe, Jewish housing in Israel, Buddhist statues in Afghanistan, British female tourists in Dubai, a teddy named Mohammed in Sudan, and countless other "irritations". But none of these excuses is the true cause. The chief cause of Islamic outrage is that these displays of anger allow Muslims to feel a sense of power. Anger empowers small men, whether they are beating their wives or blowing themselves up in cafes. The excuses, "She made me do it", "She shouldn't have walked in front of the TV" or "She should have had dinner ready", are just that. Excuses. The real cause is the sense of power that comes with the anger. The sense of suddenly being larger than life. That anger is its own cause and its own reward. And that is what Islam gives to the Muslim. The Jihad. The Caliphate. Anger in the name of Allah.

In America, Democratic and Republican leaders primarily differ on how tiny that "tiny minority of extremists" really is, and who's to blame for their extremism. The reality that their entire view of Islam is based on a mirage is not something they are willing to accept. But to talk of the Taliban or Al Queda without speaking of Islam is as absurd as discussing the Gulags without mentioning Communism. It means that not only can the problem never be solved, but it can never even be addressed. Because we have never stated the cause.

Instead, we try to fight Islamic terrorism by cultivating alliances among the constantly churning factions of governments, militias, warlords and tribal elders, hoping to use them-- only to be used as pawns in their own games instead. That is what happened in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has happened among the Palestinian Arabs and the Yemeni government, in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and anywhere else we try to apply Western policymaking.

The Muslim world has technology, but no civilization. Western nations have given to the Islamic East, the appearance of nationhood and the fruits of industry, without ever acknowledging that they were tossing pearls before swine. A pig wearing a pearl necklace is still a member of the porcine family. Only now it is a well-dressed pig. We have dressed up the Muslim world, but underneath it is not so different from the warring tribes that Mohammed tried to glue together with Islam. And that is why Islam retains the power that it does. Islam does not have a separation of Mosque and State, because there is really no state, only the mosque. The great dream of over a millennium of a transcendent global Muslim unity. A Great Leap Forward across the chasm of tribal savagery and into a Caliphate, which will undo all the achievements of all other peoples, and demonstrate once and for all that the Muslim is supreme over all the rest of the world.




38 comments:

American Genie said...

I think this should be required reading by all of our so called representatives in DC, along with everything else you have ever written regarding Islam.

fsy said...


But to talk of the Taliban or Al Queda without speaking of Islam, is as absurd as discussing the Gulags without mentioning Communism.


To see exactly this, look at:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/11/20/statement-nsc-spokesman-mike-hammer-ukraines-holodomor-remembrance-day

Anonymous said...

But you would agree that there are moderate Muslims, just no moderate Islam. A moderate Muslim is someone who does not follow all the doctrines of Islam but may practice a form of ''folk Islam'' - some rituals, holidays, but not necessarily the theology.
I say this because I'm originally from an Arab country & knew many who practiced ''Islam lite'' so to speak.
Do you agree?

shortfattexan said...

"But you would agree that there are moderate Muslims..."
A moderate Muslim is someone who agrees with the beheadings, but doesn't carry them out himself.

Anonymous said...

: "fakestinian" would be the operative term or simply 'regional arabs'.

the insights here are helpful. the question is: how to stop islam.

Columba said...

"Anger empowers small men."...
In this trenchant phrase, I think you've tagged not only Islamists but Leftists.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

a moderate Muslim then is essentially secular or secularized anyway

Edward Cline said...

This is a very fine essay that chews up and spits out all the premises of Western leaders regarding the nature and aims of Islam, and demonstrates what fools those leaders are and what poisonous fruits the policies of pragmatism bear. Its most significant sentence is:

"Islam does not have a separation of Mosque and State, because there really is no state, only the mosque."

That is the defining character of Islam, and always has been.

Anonymous said...

Even in Turkey, there is no moderate Islam. What Ataturk did there was to impose LESS Islam, and NOT to invent some kind of moderate Turkish Islam. Many americans in the past made the mistake to describe Turkey as a "Moderate Islamic Country". Kemalist Turkey was not a "Moderate Islamic Country", but LESS Islamic, militantly Secular country.

René O'Deay said...

You put it together very neatly, but in fact, offer no real solutions.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

We can solve our problems, but we can't solve their problems. Muslims have to solve their own problems and until they do, we have to maintain physical and emotional distance, good fences will make good neighbors.

ToursLepantoVienna said...

When their oil runs out or the west has no further need of it, islamic nations will return to obscurity. I have little fear of them, in the long run.

Meanwhile we will have to deal with hundreds of millions of radical muslims, invited into our own nations, empowered by the rights and freedoms they despise, and defended by self-loathing leftists whose hatred of western civilization they share. I fear them greatly.

ToursLepantoVienna said...

It's too late for that. The muslim enemy is already in our midst.

Mass deportations or coerced assimilation are the only solutions I can imagine. The west has no stomach for that, yet, and demographic trends are not on our side.

Keliata said...

"It is the original sin of the East"

You hit the nail on the head right there.

Keliata said...

Sigh.

But how do we approach/understand/relate to the religious Muslims in the US who seem like us? They seem so ordinary--a Muslim woman on a bus reading from a pocket Koran, a xtian man reading his NT, me with a pocket siddur. All religious but living in the mainstream.

Are these new Muslim immigrants like us? Do they want to be like us?

Keliata said...

Moderate Muslim. Hmmm. How can they remain moderate when they know the truth of their religion? I imagine the only way a Muslim in the West could remain moderate is to not take their religion literally. That or abandoning it entirely are the only real options.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your columns every day, ever since Rush Limbaugh read out your Newsroom column on his show. I think you're one of the most insightful guys around, but I think you have missed something here.

I'm an atheist Chinese in South East Asia. The muslims that I know, don't really understand orthodox quranic Islam. They practice a simplified folk Islam. Most have no idea what is in the quran, they only know the five pillars of Islam, the way many Christians don't really read the bible. It is also similar to the way the local Chinese Buddhists have incorporated Taoism into their Buddhism (and still consider themselves Buddhists).

Ralph Peters, in 2002, presents the case for folk Islam as a moderating influence. He does write off the Arabs, so he's not 100 percent disagreeing with you, but I think you focus too much on the Arabs without being aware of the large world of folk Islam.

http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/parameters/Articles/02autumn/peters.pdf

Technically speaking, Indonesia may contain almost 200 million Muslims, but less than 20 percent of them—and that is a generous estimate—would begin to pass muster with the strict mullahs of the Middle East. Even Muslims who describe themselves as devout include a range of superstitions and religious borrowings in their practices, from a belief in saints and shrines (anathema to strict Sunni Islam) to the conviction in rural parts of Sulawesi that transvestites have an inside track with Allah. And then there is the Indonesian fondness for an occasional beer. One woman showing me about described her female employer (none of this sounds terribly Middle Eastern, does it?) as a “most devoted Muslim, very strict,” then added approvingly, “she doesn’t pray during the day or wear religious clothing, and she likes to drink a little bit, but she is really a very good Muslim.”

This is not intended to belittle the devotion of Indonesians. On the contrary, they are often profoundly religious (nowhere more so than on Hindu Bali, though). But they have adapted Islam to their own culture, rather than adapting their culture to Islam. Certainly, some Indonesians are more conservative in their beliefs than others. But despite the inevitable outbreaks of violence that punctuate every history and the increasing popularity of making the Haj to Mecca (a combination pilgrimage, holiday, and shopping trip for those with whom I spoke), Indonesians tend to take a live-and-let-live attitude toward faith. It is enormously frustrating to the extremists.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

K.A. A lot of them are like us. Muslims aren't aliens from another planet. The problem is that their belief system is supremacist and so are their politics. German Nazis were just like us, except again. Same problem.

Anonymous, you're correct to an extent, but Arab Islam is the defining form and the one that with oil money and determination sweeps away all the other ones. Folk Islam, like any lenient and deviant forms, is not a true belief system capable of protecting itself and is no match for the Wahhabis who are dedicated to clearing out adulterations from Islam.

mindRider said...

@ToursLepantoVienna Islam started overrunning other cultures long before oil played any part! The west has no stomach at all to defend itself any more, nobody in spoiled wealthy northern Europe is willing to risk his life for any cause except the import jihadists so who do you expect shall win? Bye bye liberty and reason!

Anonymous said...

Exceptionally brilliant, Daniel.

And in the end, the best defence is simply a good fence.

Anonymous said...

While this is an on-point and well-written article, it simply won't resonate with the Court Jews in the MSM, who seem to think that Muslim Brotherhood members all went to the Ivies, and are just intellectualizing their positions but don't really mean it. The very existence of those damn Israelis is interfering with our Media Court Jews assimilation acceptance, getting their kids lacrosse scholarships to college, and becoming part of the Social Registrar.Their "authenticity" is babbling about "tikkun olam" or having a bagel with a smear. It is time to turn out, exclude, and expose the traitors in our midst. Just convert already guys, you know that you want to!

Edward Cline said...

Daniel commented: "We can solve our problems, but we can't solve their problems. Muslims have to solve their own problems and until they do, we have to maintain physical and emotional distance, good fences will make good neighbors."

Unfortunately, Muslims don't recognize those problems as "problems." We are their problems, not their doctrines, not their Sharia, not their mosques. Just us, the unconverted, the un-subjugated, the unconquered. They don't want to be "good neighbors," nor do they believe in fences, unless it's a wire holding pen for uppity, unrepentant infidels. And any Muslim who says that his creed has problems, is going to get his head chopped by his "brothers."

Anonymous said...

American Genie wrote:
I think this should be required reading by all of our so called representatives in DC, along with everything else you have ever written regarding Islam.

Amen.

Keliata said...

Edward--you've got that right. So much for brotherhood of the Muslim Brotherhood. Strange how a religion can claim unity when it comes to fighting us infidels and yet lop off the heads of their brothers.

Keliata said...

I know they're not Martians Daniel lol. I think Anonymous explained what I meant better than I did.

Porky's2istan said...

The 'moderate' muslims are the ones who would be called atheists, agnostics, or 'spiritual' in the west. Or the muslim equivalent of a Christian that only goes to church for weddings and funerals (not even for Easter). You can't ever truly leave islam. In the middle east they murder or imprison you. In the west you get disowned and shunned by all your friends and family (if you're lucky).

Moderate muslims are actually NOT muslims, they just can't admit it on pain of death (sometimes even to themselves).

Anonymous said...

Dear Daniel
I'm portuguese and a great fan of the jewish people and Israel. I have read some of your articles and i do agree with the majority of the ideas espoused mainly the idea Islam it's a treath to the West and a cult of death. However I don't agree with some statments/words trying to insult and taunt the muslims as a whole. I think it's counterproductive and unreasonable. With the exception of that I sincerely wish the best for you and your people.

Luis C.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Luis, I'm sorry that the article offended you, but I have to deal with things as they are, rather than as they should be in a better world.

Anonymous said...

SK I thought a person like you could pick apart the bias in an article like this written by someone I think Jewish better than anyone http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/08/22/alleged-hate-crime-in-israel-part-of-larger-trend.html

Kenny Solomon said...

Hi:

Fine write up and I'd humbly like to add a bit.

Seems as if Turkey's good ol' PM Erdogan said it himself in 2007.

http://www.thememriblog.org/turkey/blog_personal/en/2595.htm

"These descriptions are very ugly, it is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.”

--- --- ---

I'll expand on his comments with the following:

There is no extremist Islam ; There is no radical Islam ; There is no moderate Islam ; There is no reformed Islam.

There is only Islam.

The choices for non-believers (a.k.a. ‘infidels’): Convert, submit, or die.

But not Jews.

No.

The ‘choice’ for Jews: Die – Violently.

It’s in Qur’an, Sira and Hadith. Look it up.

But…… But…… Can’t we all just get along ?

No. You do not negotiate with, nor fund, nor defend this.

Tool up.

It's coming.

You know...... "It".

--- --- ---

Kenny Solomon
Israel Survival Updates
The American Survival Guide

Anonymous said...

Greenfield has defined Islam and it's growing threat to the West, very insightfuly and eloquently, I might add. So, what do we do with this information? Do we file it away to be forgotten? Or do we take action to educate our elected representatives to; (1)stop Muslim immigration (80,626+ immigrated to the U.S. in 2011), (2) deport Muslims to their land of origin, (3) bar Muslim 'no go' neighborhoods, (4) stop the building of mosques in the West until churchs and synagogues can be built in Saudi Arabia, (5)manditory assimilation programs, (6)expose the 50+ Muslim front groups in the U.S., (7)remove the U.S. Peace Corps from Muslim countries, (8)stop foreign aid, including military funds and aid, to Muslim countries, (9)reduce or remove U.S. embassies in Muslim countries, (10)reduce or stop purchasing oil and other products from Muslim countries, (11)curtail student visas from Muslim countries, (12) reduce U.S. funds for the UN.

We must stop funding our demise! Stop funding and encouraging our slow suicide!

Chana said...

I used Cee Gee and don't understand why that was not accepted.

Then I used Chana which was also rejected.

Chana said...

How does one get the ishur?

Anonymous said...

As there is no moderate Islam and the moderate muslims allow the devout to do What Would Mohomet Do? What then is Obama?

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=tCAffMSWSzY#t=28

It is a montage of clips from Pharaoh, I mean Obama. Watch out though as you may get a different hoax version with annoying overlay.

Yes, AlQuaida actually means 'the base' which THEY say means the Qur'an also Taliban means Student so these students of the Qur'an are actually devout followers of their profit/god.

I think Mohamet defines Islam very well in his words and actions in the Qur'an and sunna - this ideology removes borders and as it is a belief system which trumps any other you just can't reason with them.

Sura 3:3 Mohamet himself says (Sahih International)
He has sent down upon you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming what was before it. And He revealed the Torah and the Gospel

NO IT DOESN'T on so many levels, Adam is made of Earth not sperm and in another place blood and sperm. Israel did not say about the decalogue "we hear and REBEL"

HOWEVER, Mohamet has got the land covenant right for Jews.......it's a pity he abrogated them:

2:106 Nothing of our revelation (even a single verse) do we abrogate or cause be forgotten, but we bring (in place) one better or the like thereof. Knowest thou not that Allah is Able to do all things?

.....one better? Is Allie Akbar not perfect, does he make mistakes? Yes, apparently - out of 114 suras ONLY 43 are not abrogated, now, that's a hell of a lot of mistakes!

http://www.inthenameofallah.org/Abrogated%20%20%20Mansookh%20Verses.html


kate b


Anonymous said...

"Islam is a rotting corpse that is poisoning our lives." –Kemal Atatürk

Anonymous said...

You are right to a degree. Muslims will defend and fight for their insane delusions at all costs, while we turn our backs on our legacy of hard-won rationalism. The (IMO) worthless culture of Islam fights to spread itself, while our culture, the greatest culture in human history, willingly surrenders itself to destruction.

Anonymous said...

The least we can do is give generously to the sultan knish, and I will as soon as possible. Lars

Anonymous said...

I never understood the preoccupation of the modern western mind with muslims up until now.
it is not that the modern western fascists have a problem with fascist muslims

it is that they have a problem with the idea that one day the muslims will establish a caliphate again. still a pipedream for a century or two.

well i believe the mental and emotional state of the muslims is so much stunted that they fail to rationalize their own shortcomings.

on the other hand, the west in its own myopic vision of the "free world" fails to recognize the muslims as people. these neo colonial fascists seem to propagate a distorted and at times a fanatical democracy that they see fit for the muslims.

i say let them decide how they want to live and how they want to be ruled.

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