Caliphate

(Caliphate, by Tom Kratman, Baen, 2008, 502 pp., $7.99)

reviewed by Zeke Teflon

With ISIS running amok in Iraq and Syria, committing mass murder in brutal, horrific fashion, it’s relevant to review probably the most direct sci-fi treatment of what a Muslim fundamentalist takeover would mean:  Tom Kratman’s Caliphate.

It’s in the form of a standard military/adventure sci-fi novel set a century in the future. But more than that it’s a political novel, concerned with a Muslim fundamentalist subjugation of Europe. Until recently, I’d have thought Kratman’s descriptions of the horrors inflicted by Islamic fanatics basically accurate but overdrawn. No more. Look no further than ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and Al Shabab, and the barbarities committed on a daily basis by the Saudi and Iranian regimes.

Kratman also rightly goes after politically correct multiculturalists/cultural relativists who decry “Islamophobia” as ISIS and Boko Haram commit mass murder, kidnappings, enslavement, and beheadings.  He rightly decries the multiculturalists’ willful blindness to the horrors of Islam. For instance, they routinely dismiss reports of the disproportionate number of Muslims involved in sex crimes in Europe as “Islamophobia.” It’s undeniable that some right wingers grossly exaggerate this problem–for instance, while googling the matter I found a page headlined “100 Percent of Rapes in Norway Committed by Muslims”–but it’s also undeniable that the more socially conservative and misogynistic men are, the more likely they are to commit sexual abuse. And no one is more socially conservative and misogynistic than a Muslim fundamentalist. (For instance, on August 27, 2014, an AP story by Danica Kirka reports the beating, rape, and sexual trafficking of 1,400 children between 1997 and 2013 in Rotherham, England by, primarily, Pakistani Muslim men.)

One other praiseworthy aspect of Caliphate is that Kratman illustrates his description of the horrors of Islam with quotations from Muslim writers, whose own words condemn them.

Where Kratman goes off the rails is in ascribing head-in-the-sand multiculturalism to the entire American and European left. This is simply wrong. In the U.S., especially, most atheists (notably Sam Harris and Bill Maher, and in England Richard Dawkins) almost certainly reject this cultural relativism; and a good majority of atheists in the U.S. are on the left side of the political spectrum. (I base this on decades of observing and at times taking part in what passes for the atheist movement in the U.S.) A hell of a lot of us reject cultural relativism and self-flagellating multiculturalism. (For example, see The World’s Second Most Offensive Question.)

To his credit, though, Kratman is not entirely uncritical of the U.S. His description of the public reaction to further Muslim terror attacks and the subsequent fascist takeover of the U.S. is all too believable, as are his descriptions of atrocities committed by both Muslim and U.S. soldiers in the war he vividly describes. But strangely, given the overtly religious, theofascist nature of virtually the entire American extreme right, the American fascist government he outlines seems largely or entirely secular, though it’s hard to tell because of the sketchiness of the description; Kratman almost entirely ignores America’s Taliban–the authoritarian fundamentalists, conservative Catholics, and Mormons who want to turn the U.S. into a theocracy, the Christian equivalent of Iran. He seems to blithely assume that secularism will endure, even following a fascist takeover.

It’s also unfortunate that in the Afterword he equates the in-part unassimilable, authoritarian, misogynistic Muslims in Europe with Mexican and other Latino immigrants in the U.S. This is a terrible, inappropriate comparison. For over 20 years, I’ve lived in a neighborhood that’s roughly two-thirds Mexican, with a great many people here being first-generation immigrants. They’re not trying to impose a religious ideology on anyone. They’re not trying to set up religious courts. They’re not murdering people for religious reasons. They’re assimilating as quickly as they can. Overall, they’re hard working and do the dirtiest, most dangerous jobs simply to support their families. To equate them with authoritarian religious fanatics is highly offensive.

Still, despite its faults, Caliphate is worth reading.

Recommended, with reservations.

* * *

Zeke Teflon is the author of Free Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia. He’s currently working on the sequel.

Free Radicals, by Zeke Teflon front cover

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Comments
  1. Tom Kratman says:

    Zeke, there’s a reason why every major character in the book, Moslem, US, whoever, at some point in time says, “What a shitty world,” or some variant thereto.

    For the rest, other than that it would make you happy, perhaps, why should I bother with “America’s Taliban” in a book about somebody else’s Taliban? Is there some chapter in the rulebook that requires even-handedness, even when it would do nothing to advance the story? Can you point that chapter out to me? Can you send me a copy of the rulebook?

    Also, can you find me some multiculti right wingers? Lotsa luck in that search. Why? Because it _is_ a phenom of certain groups on the left, which the right has nothing to do with. Everyone on the left? Doubt it. And when you find me the chapter than says I have to go out of my way to explain in a fairly short work of fiction that X = X-, show me that, too. Until I see that rulebook and those chapters that require even-handedness for its own sake, whether it adds to or detracts from the story, I’m frankly not going to bother. Not my job.

    Mexicans and other Latins….hmmm. Yep, hard working as hell. Maybe too hard working, in some sense. Can’t recall saying otherwise. And, again, can’t recall where I am obligated to say so in a work of fiction where saying so would not add to it, or in an afterword where it has no place.

    You probably aren’t aware of it, but my wife is Latin. I am quite sympathetic, really. That said, the numbers we are taking in and letting stay, with no mechanisms in place anymore to push assimilation, and multiculti maggots and the racial grievance industry working 24/7/365, hand in hand, to prevent assimilation, tell me we’re going to have a three-way ethnic war here, quite possibly in my lifetime. So the problem, if not quite the same, is similarly existential. (And the southern border was closed because certain Islamic groups and individuals can blend in with Latins too easily.) I see Yugoslavia in our future and I am not enthused.

    Otherwise, glad you sortakinda liked it. 😉

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    • Hi Tom,

      Thanks for replying. I basically did like the book, and you are right about the menace of Islam.

      First off, though, the reason to at least mention America’s Taliban, at least in passing, is that you present Christians in a completely favorable light. If you didn’t mention them at all, fine. But you did. Yes, in the Europe you portray they’re a persecuted minority, but your protagonist is American, and here the anti-choice, anti-gay, corporate-tool fundamentalists are much more of an immediate threat to our freedoms than the islamists. If a theocracy is forced down our throats here, it’ll be a Christian theocracy. So, it would have been interesting if you’d included some material about the projected religious nature of the U.S. in a hundred years, and your protagonist’s religious beliefs, if any.

      As for the idiot cultural relativists/multiculturalists, my problem was that you seem to present _everyone_ on the left side of the spectrum as holding such views, and that just ain’t the case. Also, I never implied that right-wingers fall into that particular trap. They fall into plenty of others, but not that one.

      And I never said or even implied that you should have dealt with the question of Mexican immigrants in the body of the book. Please don’t lay that on me. You brought the matter up in your Afterword, and I simply responded to your comments, which I considered ill informed and insulting.

      Finally, I think your fears about Mexican immigrants not assimilating are very much misplaced. As I mentioned in the review, I’ve lived in a primarily Mexican neighborhood for over 20 years, and have watched my neighbors and their kids assimilate as quickly as they can. This holds true for all of the immigrants I know.

      Anyway, please keep up the (overall) good work 😉

      –Z.T.

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      • Tom Kratman says:

        So those American Christians in the Philippines, rounding up Moslems and doing a fair imitation of an Einsatzgruppe are shown in a favorable light, are they? Who knew? Thing is, I hardly present Christians, qua Christians, at all, barring the Djimmis of Germany.

        This, for example, strikes you as a Christian sentiment?

        ‘‘Damn, damn, damn the stinking Mor-or-ros,
        Cross-eyed, kakiak ladrones.
        Underneath the starry flag
        Christianize ’em with a Slag
        Then return us to our own beloved homes . . . ’’

        In fact, Christ and Christianity are hardly mentioned in a US context. And whatever might be a threat to our liberties now, it wouldn’t appear to be necessary to the story told in 100 years.

        You haven’t exactly done this, but there’s a review from Amazon from what would appear to be a fairly rabid right winger (I’m conservative, which may look right wing to you, but that’s an optical illusion similar to my inability to see much core difference between a Bolshevik and a Menshevik) where the review wasn’t a review at all, but a speech. I told him that if he was upset that I didn’t write the speech he wanted me to write, in that book, that he should go write the speech _he_ wants in a book of his own.

        He never answered.

        In any case, I just wasn’t interested in presenting the Christian aspect of a society like that and I still feel no obligation to have done so.

        Hmmm…”the 98% of western leftists who directly or indirectly foister multiculturalism on us give the other 2% a bad name”? Something like that? Live with it, the multi-culti are a left wing phenom. That is no more redeemed by you than the Nazi Party was redeemed by John Rabe. Moreover, you’re in a better position to fight them than I am. So fight them.

        The problem with Latin immigration…there are a couple. On the plus side, yes, they appear to be learning English faster than any group of immigrants we’ve ever had. On the other plus side, someone who says, “Lazy Mexicans,” just hasn’t clue one. There is no harder working group anywhere. Also, we intermarry to a fair degree, and that is super important. However, we live in the society we have, not the one we might like. We have no really good plan to change that society for the better, and no really good prospects for doing so. In that society, Latin immigrants tend to end up in Latin communities, where learning English isn’t necessary. They deal with other Spanish speakers. They retain loyalties to the homeland and the culture of the homeland, quite despite that they left said homeland because said homeland is a hell hole. Unlike in past days, communication is easy; the ties with the old country do not break. Unlike in past days, we no longer have the system to force assimilation and to indoctrinate the kids to be Americans first and foremost. Unlike in past days, we have a large and intrusive racial grievance industry doing everything possible to make sure that they do no assimilate.

        That’s means we’re going to stay two people inside the same country or, rather, three. And remember that Blacks and Latins tend to detest each other and are in competition. Sometimes that can work out. More often, you get Yugoslavia, Rwanda, etc. Not really laying any blame here, except on the racial grievance industry and multiculti, but that’s war. That’s why I say we’re heading to a war.

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  2. Tom Kratman says:

    Zeke, in relation to this:

    Those of you who might have been following this thread might have missed Tom KIratman’s comments about his sci-fi novel, “Caliphate,” and my moderately critical comments about it.

    I thought there was a chance that anti-islamist atheists and right-wing Christians (T.K., apparently) could at least agree on at least about something. I was wrong

    There’s no such meeting of minds. As is very evident from this tread, Tom hates islamists (so do I) but he seems to have a soft spot for Christian theofascists;.

    I’m dead set against fasuism in any form.. Tom, apparently, wants an anti-Islamlist theocracy.

    * * *

    Come on Tom, what do you want? Seri0usly, what do you want? Let’s talk about ideas. Let’s get it on. This discussion could be a hell of a lot of fun. (And yeah, I do think Caliphate is worth reading–go buy it.)
    I very much look forward to hearing from you. I think you have the balls for it, so let’s get down to it.”

    My answer below:

    I have no idea what you’re talking about. If you’re upset, like that hyper right winger I mentioned, that I didn’t write the speech you wanted me to write, then write that speech yourself.

    As to wanting an anti-Islamic theocracy, save me some of that stuff your smoking, will you; it’ll be legal before long.

    Addendum: you do realize, don’t you, that “fascist” has long since lost any objective meaning

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