Saturday, September 16, 2006

Infantilizing Muslim "rage" 

Just about the entire world knows that that Pope Benedict XVI gave a speech on Tuesday condemning religious conversion by violence. The Muslim "street" did not respond until Friday, when the leaders of the Muslim religion called for their faithful to surge into the streets in an orgy of rage and violence. Not content only to burn Christian churches (neither of which follow the Catholic pope), they turned on themselves. Never in the history of Christianity has a pope been proven correct so quickly and demonstrably.

Predictably, the greatest beneficiaries of the Western enlightenment blamed reason, the true victim of Muslim rage through the ages. The editors of The New York Times said this morning, to the eternal discredit of that once great paper, that

[t]he world listens carefully to the words of any pope. And it is tragic and dangerous when one sows pain, either deliberately or carelessly. He needs to offer a deep and persuasive apology, demonstrating that words can also heal.

This is obscene. Apart from its factual inaccuracy -- there is no evidence that any of the enraged Muslims "listened carefully" to the words of the pope -- this is like blaming a beaten wife for provoking the bastard who throttles her. It is the leaders of prayers in the mosques of the Muslim world who call on their faithful to riot in the streets. It is they who sow pain and incite violence, and anybody unburdened by a loathing of Western civilization knows it. Pope Benedict has nothing to apologize for. The leading clerics of the Muslim world have a great deal to apologize for.

Neither the pope nor the Muslim clerics are the only actors here. Tens of thousands of Muslims chose to act in violence or condone violence yesterday. Millions more supported them in this, the evidence being that Muslim politicians jumped on the bandwagon. These millions of Muslims are hardly candles in the wind, helplessly manipulated by the imams. They chose their religion. They chose their mosque. They chose not to "listen carefully" to the words of the pope. They chose to take to the streets in rage, and they chose to burn and attack and kill perfectly innocent people, all on the say-so of one or another demagogue in a turbin. They are not children, however much the cultural relativists who absolve the rioters and their sympathizers infantalize them. I condemn these people for making bad choices; liberals, such as the editors of the New York Times, refuse to condemn them because they believe that Muslims are incapable of choices. I may deplore the choices of these rioting Muslims, but the New York Times holds them in contempt, regarding them as nothing more than wild animals. Just as we all blame humans who antagonize an animal into a violent response, the New York Times blames Westerners who "sow pain," as if Muslims have the free will of a cornered wolf.

For my part, I am sick of "Muslim rage." Whether inspired by the pope or Danish cartoonists or the clumsy use of the word "crusade" by a Western politician, there is simply no defense for the behavior of these imams and their followers. It is barbaric, and everybody who is not barbaric or an unreconstructed apologist for barbarians knows it. The Muslims who commit arson and mayhem in response to some Westerner speaking his opinion -- and the pope, as leader of the Roman church, is exactly that -- have chosen to act as enemies of reason, peace, and everything that is good in the world.

Now, perhaps this behavior is not inherent in Islam, but in other aspects of the culture in which these violent people live. Ralph Peters blames the milieu of the Middle East, by which I believe he means Arab culture, as opposed to Islamic tradition:
Islamist terror is a deadly threat we have barely begun to address. Yet religion-fueled fanaticism in the Middle East shouldn't surprise us: The tradition pre-dates the Prophet's birth by thousands of years.

Terrorists just have better tools these days.

What should amaze us isn't the terrorists' strength, which has limits, but the comprehensive failure of Middle Eastern civilization. Given all the wealth that's poured into the region, its vast human resources and all of its opportunities for change, the mess the Middle East has made of itself is stunning.

Beyond Israel, the region hasn't produced a single first-rate government, army, economy, university or industry. It hasn't even produced convincing second-raters.

Culturally, the region is utterly noncompetitive. Societies stagnate as populations seethe. To the extent it exists, development benefits the wealthy and powerful. The common people are either ignored or miserably oppressed - and not just the women.

Operation Iraqi Freedom wasn't so much an invasion as a last-minute rescue mission - an attempt to give one major Middle Eastern state a two-minutes-to-midnight chance to develop a humane, democratic government.

It may not work. But we'd better hope it does.

The Middle East's failure on every front enabled the rise of the terrorists - as well as the empowerment of other religious extremists, secular dictators and political parties willing to poison electorates with hatred.

The popular culprit for the mess is Islam. And there can be no doubt that the faith's local degeneration has been catastrophic for the region. By far the most numerous victims of "Islam Gone Wild" have been Middle Eastern Muslims.

But we can't be content with a single explanation for a civilization's failure, as powerful as the answer may appear. Yes, Islamist governments fail miserably. But so do secular Arab, Persian and Pakistani governments (whose leaders belatedly play the Islamic card).

Yes, the culture is Islamic, even in nominally secular states. But we have to ask some very politically incorrect questions that cut even deeper.

Many of the social, governmental and psychological structures at the core of Middle Eastern societies pre-date Islam. Authoritarian government; a slave-like status for women; pervasive corruption; labor viewed as an evil to be avoided; the relegation of learning to narrow castes; economies that rely on trade rather than productivity to generate wealth, even the grandiose rhetoric - all were in place long before Islam appeared.

The repeated failures we've witnessed go far beyond a religion on its sickbed. Instead of Islam being the Middle East's problem, what if Islam's problem is the Middle East?

Were Christianity and Judaism "saved" because they escaped the Middle East? Were these other two great monotheist religions able to master the power of knowledge and human potential because they were driven from their stultifying cultural and geographic origins? Did the Diaspora and the subsequent Muslim destruction of the cradle of Christianity ultimately save these two faiths?

The Middle East is a straitjacket that turns religions mad. We got away.

I'm not sure that I agree with Peters. Islam "got away" too, to the Balkans and Iberia. The Balkans have been a mess since at least the fall of Byzantine empire to the Muslims. The Muslim culture in Spain produced some of the umma's greatest accomplishments, but removal to Spain did not stop Muslims from devouring Averroes, who might have been the Islamic Aquinus. Both men tried to reconcile science and faith. The Christians canonized Aquinus, Iberian Muslims banished Averroes.

Whether Islam or pre-Islamic cultural institutions are the source of the problem, there is no escaping the fact that a huge proportion of the Muslim world is economically, scientifically, culturally and politically incompetent by the standards of the world. It has chosen to invent nothing since the Middle Ages, preferring to stew in the juices of decline than solve its own problems. It is so insecure in its faith that the slightest criticism from a non-believer propels thousands of clerics and millions of followers into paroxysms of rage. Yet Islam needs jihad, which I understand means "struggle." It needs a jihad against illiteracy. It needs a jihad against ignorance. It needs a jihad against sloth. It needs a jihad against corruption. It needs a jihad in support of women, without whom it cannot succeed in the modern world. It needs a jihad against the clerics who have -- allegedly, according to "moderates" -- perverted the truth of its religion. It needs a jihad against its governments -- secular and Islamic -- who have destroyed the future for more than a billion people. It needs a jihad against despair.

Until I see the arsonists and rioters among Muslims embracing these jihads, I will hold them responsible for the bad choices that they make, including the choice to reject secular education, the choice to destroy rather than construct, the choice to dwell in the past instead of dream about the future, the choice to obsess about Jews rather than wonder how they might emulate the Jews, and the choice to have so little confidence in the power of their own religion that they oppress and condemn and kill those who choose otherwise.

If Pope Benedict apologizes, I will resent him for the rest of his reign.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds rounds up more links on this topic, including to this post. In particular see John Hinderaker's post, in which he reminds us that Muslim extremists have designated this pope's predecessor for assassination. Michelle Malkin also has more this morning. All Things Beautiful examines the controversy from an artist's eye view.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 10:09:00 AM:

The Pope made a painfully obvious point that, as you say, was demonstrated as accurate not only quickly but in the way that has become habitual with these people.

I'm tired of hearing about all the contributions made to civilization by people that presently think beheading is acceptable. I'm especially tired of hearing about the oft quoted invention of the zero! It's too easy to retort that zero is the sum of their contributions since.

As for whether the source of the problem is Islam or pre-Islam cultural institutions, it is the perpetrators themselves invoking the name of Allah and I'm willing to take them at their word.

I doubt the Pope will apologize, he appears to be a man of his convictions. Wish we had more like him.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 10:22:00 AM:

Actually, the Indians invented the zero. The Arabs introduced it to Europe.  

By Blogger Robert, at Sat Sep 16, 10:28:00 AM:

Oswald Spengler, in "The Decline of the West", attributes the rise of the West in the first place to Roman Christianity, which escaped the "Magian" Middle East because of Paul's orientation towards Rome. Perhaps only the Jewish Diaspora enabled Judaism to escape the fate of the other Middle Eastern cultures. And the Diaspora occurred after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD - by the Romans!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 10:40:00 AM:

I realize you're painting with a broad brush. But the entire Middle East has not been utterly static. The different countries--some more than others--have promoted sciences with effect. Not all ME universities are worthless, either.

Saudi Arabia has advanced some medical technology, including the first uterine transplant (performed by a Saudi woman doctor in 2002). It is developing a center (as well as great expertise) in separation surgery for conjoined twins. It is doing basic research in addressing Lupus and a variety of congenital diseases.

Graduates of Saudi medical schools don't have problems in either getting jobs or futhering their education at other institutions. The King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals is considered a top-notch engineering school, by world standards.

Liberal arts education, though, is a disaster, with the focus having been primarily (i.e., 60% of the curriculum) theological studies. That's changing, though, due to pressures both from the top and the bottom. People don't want "Islamic dentists," they want "dentists"; they don't want "Islamic plumbers," they want efficient "plumbers". Equally, the government has to provide educations that lead to jobs, something it hasn't been doing for a long time.

I'm not attacking Benedict's statement, a quotation from the historical record. I do think it commonsensical, however, to understand that people in the Middle East--or Islamic world at large--are touchy about such statements. Many do believe that their religion is under attack. Yes, that's nonsense, but it's still the perception.

I don't think it excessively PC to take that into account. If you're working in an office with somebody who gets really upset when you criticize something they feel strongly about (say, vegetarianism or smoking or the Mets) it's just not good practice to provoke that person if one of the goals of the office is a harmonious working environment.

Sure, you can think that they're nuts, but you don't actually come out and say that to their faces, unless your point is to provoke. And yes, they may be "oversensitive" about it. But we make those sorts of accommodations daily, whether it's in the workplace or around the dining room table.

What Benedict said was grossly misunderstood, primarily because it was taken out of context, both of the moment and of his role as pontif. But he could have excercised just a little more care in his choice of quotations. While I don't doubt for a moment that he was not looking to provoke, in the end he did. That's unfortunate, for all concerned.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Sat Sep 16, 10:50:00 AM:

John Burgess,

The pope is not in an office, where employees subsume their personal views in the interests of shared enterprise (not to mention the avoidance of liability). The pope is the leader of a church, and in that regard he is speaking to his own faithful. Obviously, being the pope, he believes that Muslims are apostates. How could he not? Obviously, Muslims think Catholics are apostates. How could they not? Catholic prelates and Muslim clerics are not to be condemned for making remarks that distinguish their religion from the Other -- that is the essence of religious leadership. They are, however, to be condemned for advocating the spread or defense of their religion through violence. Make all the reasonable arguments you will through reason, but if you choose violence, you have also chosen its consequences.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 10:57:00 AM:

One can certaqinly see the reflection of who a person thinks their God is by their choices and subsequent actions. I think Judaism and Christianity have escaped the god of this world (Satan) who is the god of hatred and violence. Certainly we have our share of fools but as a rule we do not give up our personal responsibility to seek the one true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who created mankind and gave us free will. Obviously, Mohammed would not have included free will.  

By Blogger rhhardin, at Sat Sep 16, 11:05:00 AM:

Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote op-eds, or possibly eds, for newspapers, one characterizing Islam being

written in 1800. I don't know where he got his inclinations, but they don't seem wrong today.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 11:09:00 AM:

You mention Averroes, whose works on Aristotle did so much to advance Aquinas' thought, but no one in the West ever seems to mentions Averroes' more Platonic-minded predecessor and rival, Avicenna, and the plight of his followers.

For instance, the followers of Avicenna are among the most hated by Ahmadinejad and his Hojjatieh mentors. And why not? Following a more Platonic and gnostic line of thinking, an Avicennan treats his belief in the Mahdi, the 12th Shi'ite Imam, as a semi-metaphorical entity.

It goes without saying that Islamic idolators and fundamentalists would want to kill such people, a tradition which certainly predates Islam in the region!

I wish more Westerners were aware of Avicenna, whose mystical-minded followers are truly "moderate" Muslims, and are everywhere under threat throughout the ME.

(Thans for the S.T. Coleridge, rhhardin.)  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 11:47:00 AM:

Put another way, concerned Westerners ought to familiarize themselves with more of the names on that long list of murdered moderates in the civilization. We ought to make the education of Muslims of their own pathetic history central to our propaganda campaign.

I agree that individual Muslims need to own up to their behaviors, but we don't even know the history of like-minded people over there to force anyone to own up to.

For instance, check this guy out, Ahmad Kasravi. I think you'll all be pleased with him. And be sure to pay close attention to the details of his demise!


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 11:49:00 AM:

I agree with the thrust of your comments on matters theological and papal, TH. That said, these matters are playing out on a political stage, and for political purposes. Muslim and Christian "unity" both are convenient fictions, as adherents of the two highly fractured faiths know well.

The Muslim Turks sacked Constantinople, seat of the Byzantine Empire, with military help from the Christian Italians. The Italians sought to exploit Marco Polo's trade route to China without Byzantine interference, so they cut a deal with the Turks under which their eastern trade would be unimpeded under the Ottomans. This "unholy" alliance continued for some time.

My point is that self-interest trumps everything else. The extremist Muslims, sadists in their own right, have identified the masochism inherent in modern secular liberalism, and they feed off it to build their own credibility within their religious communities. Their ultimate ends are temporal power and domination. In this, they are no different from the Soviets.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 11:56:00 AM:

"Regarding the 'john burgess' comment, in which he opines that it is our duty to submit to a bully. ..."

I didn't understand that from the Burgess comment at all. Please be more specific in your references and arguments, lest we take you for another internet blowhard.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 12:16:00 PM:

It is a shame that muslims do not spend as much energy condemning the Islamic fascists beheading Jews and Christians as they do to speech that they find offensive.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 12:20:00 PM:

Maimonides ("Rabbi Moses"), the Jewish scholar who wrote Guide for the Perplexed, another source used by Thomas Aquinas, was also fled Muslim Spain when offered the choice of death, exile, or conversion to Islam.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 12:26:00 PM:

The Pope should be promoting peace and not inciting more hatred.

Now, the Muslim countries want nukes to deter attacks and invasions like Iraq and Lebanon.

The failed neocon plan is a disaster that grows daily.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 12:38:00 PM:

Anne Crcokett, don't forget that in the late 15th c. the Spanish government offered both Jews and Muslims the choice to convert to Christianity or to leave. The Inquisition later visited death upon some of those conversos it suspected of still harboring previous faiths and customs. Cervantes, among others notable figures, was probably a conversos.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 12:43:00 PM:

Charles Martel, you are as literal about the Koran and the Hadith as are our enemies, which is invaluable for knowing the enemy's mind but not much else.  

By Blogger pst314, at Sat Sep 16, 12:47:00 PM:

"If you're working in an office with somebody who gets really upset when you criticize something they feel strongly about...it's just not good practice to provoke that person"

If you're going to make that analogy, then your office worker is someone who feels free to criticize everyone else--and even assault those he disapproves of--but who gets violently angry when he himself is criticized for his intolerance. With a person like that the proper policy is not appeasement but termination.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 12:54:00 PM:

If you're working in an office...just not good practice to provoke that person if one of the goals of the office is a harmonious working environment.

Why would you even want to hire someone who looks like they could go postal over relatively innocuous comments?

I've walked away from jobs where people like that existed. In the most recent case, just two weeks ago, I stayed only one day before walking out.

As I've grown older, my tolerance for crazies has dimmed considerably. Screw'em, get someone else to do the job. I'm not your guy.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 12:56:00 PM:

What if all the uncomplimentary things that TigerHawk says are true? The Arabs, or Muslims, are floundering around in infantilism, have not accomplished anything, and are deeply insecure about their faith and everything else.

Whats an outside spiritual leader, an heir to the prince of peace, supposed to do?

Rub their face in it?

I really doubt that that was Benedicts intention. But that is certainly what it sounded like. The glee you hear from true Islam-bashers can confirm that.

The pope, any pope, is hyper-aware, on a moment to moment basis, of the impact of his words. He is, by definition, the supreme authority on spiritual matters for a billion or so people. He certainly examines every word before he utters it in public. His office has a couple of thousand years of experience dealing with, and hopefully understanding human nature and all its insecurities and foibles. (Lets face it, the history of the West was a crazy and violent, for almost all its history, as the Middle East seems today).

He screwed up big time with this. I do believe that his heart wants to build bridges of peace and understanding with the Isalmic world. And his words have had the opposite effect. And though you can rightly lay responsibility on those who react, you cannot ignore the responsibility that adheres to one who should absolutely have known better, should absolutely have thought things through more carefully.

Bottom line. He tried to do one thing and accomplished the opposite. Somehow I suspect he has enough integrity to recognize this, and to try to undo it.

I hope he does, and that by so doing he teaches a valuable lesson to those who think they are defending him today.  

By Blogger cakreiz, at Sat Sep 16, 01:03:00 PM:

It is a shame that muslims do not spend as much energy condemning the Islamic fascists beheading Jews and Christians as they do to speech that they find offensive. Yep. And the real shame is that Islam's leadership could easily steer its train-wreck of a religion in an entirely different direction- since they have control and dominance of the Arab Street.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Sat Sep 16, 01:08:00 PM:

What if all the uncomplimentary things that TigerHawk says are true? The Arabs, or Muslims, are floundering around in infantilism, have not accomplished anything, and are deeply insecure about their faith and everything else.

Whats an outside spiritual leader, an heir to the prince of peace, supposed to do?

Rub their face in it?

Pope Benedict hardly rubbed their face in it, as you say. And as for the rest of it, the answer to the problems of Muslims, from their economic backwardness to their insecurity and rage, is simple. Live for the future. Build, do not destroy. Allow women to develop their full potential. Encourage, rather than suppress, diversity in culture and ideas. Apply reason along with worshipping Allah. These are all choices. The verdict of history is clear: one set of choices leads to prosperity and relative happiness (recognizing that happiness is rare in the human condition). The other leads to rage and misery. Religion is suppose to give comfort; do the imams who preach rage rather than conciliation on Friday afternoons actually comfort their flock? Why do worshippers emerge from mosques with torches and fury in their eyes, instead of the contentment of the wise?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 01:10:00 PM:

Charles Martel, if I misunderstood you then I shall take another look. For the record, I'm not a monotheist of any stripe.

pst314, I agree with your comment, based as it is on the better analogy of officeworkers. But I understood the more important, albeit looser analogy of Burgess (above) in terms of the hoped-for outcome of any project.

To extrapolate from Burgess' professed criterion, that one of the goals of the office is a harmonious working environment, the most essential aim of every business and institution, even more than maximizing profit, is for its own survival.

The question then goes to our professed goals. If the goal is to step up the World War we're engaged in, then we should say that. We can then argue the strategic value of kicking wasp's nests at this particular moment (as opposed to say, a year from now). Personally, I want to 'step it up', but also be very careful about how we do it.

Since I'm not convinced that we will ultimately vanquish this foe, and because this war turns so delicately and hazardously on modern communications technology, widespread Islamic ignorance and its attendant propaganda (c.f. Rueters, AP, et al), I have to agree with Burgess that the Pope "could have excercised just a little more care in his choice of quotations."  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 01:15:00 PM:

This is the twenty first century people. Religion is a belief to show people how to live. It is not an instrument to kill others.

It is insane to have people who say their God told them to kill.

There are over one billion Muslims. People are going to have to accept living on this earth with each other and stop the insanity.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 01:19:00 PM:

Yes, 'rub their face in it', but knowledgeably and encouragingly. As a way out of their dilemma (which has become our dilemma), let them know what kinds of Arab, Persian, and Asian 'infidels' have suffered by their ignorance and murderousness.

I thought that one of the greatest contributions of the ABC miniseries, 'The Path to 9/11" was the introduction to most Americans of Massoud. I remember reading about this great man's death in the NY Times and thinking, "this is not a good sign". A few days later and ... Now, five years later and it's still rare that I come across anyone who's heard of him. Why's THAT?!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 01:31:00 PM:

Of course these outbursts of "Muslim Rage" are orchestrated. The interesting thing would be to explore how it's done. There is a sophisticated political media machine at work, here.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 01:42:00 PM:

Hmmm. The 'office' comment. What do you do if you are obliged to share an office with someone who is continually offensive and intolerant of your way of life, and yet takes vast umbrage if you make even the mildest comment -addressed at a third party about his way of life?

Do you kowtow and see how you can fit your life around his when he is totally unwilling to change, and responds to requests to do so as deadly insult? In the long term you cannot work like this, and either equal respect for the other needs to be established, or you must fight. We've been backing down and accomodating while Islam murders apostates, demands dress codes of our people in their and right to apply their codes in ours, burn our national symbols insult our cultures, deny our history. Enough. They want repect they must be told to give it.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 01:47:00 PM:

Pity for the radical Islamics that TH does not have a bigger megaphone. It would mean less work for them.

Yeah, because it's perfectly understandable that somebody would become a terrorist because somebody said something that offended them, right? Let's do away with that nasty 1st Amendment, lest we make Muslims made. Hmmm... I'm going to venture a guess that anyone who does so, wasn't "moderate" to begin with.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 02:08:00 PM:

From the ABC Online website (Australia)

Muslims demand apology for Pope's speech...

"Middle Eastern leaders and analysts have warned of a potentially violent backlash in the region to the Pope's remarks implicitly linking Islam to violence."  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 02:10:00 PM:

Actually, I understood you perfectly Charles Martel. After several unsuccessful attempts to ask whether you aren't spreading some bad medicine yourself I shall try one last time to post at this blog.

Don't misunderstand me though, if Islam is the most misunderstood religion in the world (and so says oj) then it's Muslims who seem to misunderstand more than anyone else. Frankly, I'm sorry that I have to be thinking about any of this at all. I hardly needed Islam to complete my picture of reality.

But as an aid to the misinformed, as well as to the all-too-educated posters here, may I refer you to the specifics of image-as-metaphor, as found in Ismaili Gnosis-and-angelology (see the works of Henry Corbin), and also to the more general Shi'a practice of ijtihad, which runs parallel to Aristotlean phronesis, or practical reason.


"As Men's Prayers are a Disease of the Will, so are their Creeds a Disease of the Intellect" - Ralph Waldo Emerson  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 02:29:00 PM:

When a billion and a half people don't function well in the modern world, a caring religious leader should be willing to engage those people in a thoughtful, hopefully effective way. But how does one say to the Muslim world, "there's a problem, and although you don't want to talk about it, it may have something to do with certain doctrines of your religion?" No criticism of Islam is allowed by Islam. So if it needs to be criticized, one must either stifle one's concern, or try to make the criticism as detatched and gentle as possible without rendering it useless. Such as merely quoting something a well-qualified expert said 700 years ago, as a tiny part of a scholarly and well-reasoned speech about faith and reason.
Now the Pope has reached out, and is predictably having his hand chewed off up to the elbow. Whether it is better to attempt a dialogue or continue enabling denial remains to be seen. I admire the Pope for daring to draw all this rage toward himself, and I do believe he risked it consciously in hopes of lancing this festering, life-threatening boil. If enough of us follow his lead, as delicately as possible and yet not yielding, there will be mayhem. If we go back to appeasing, the same, unless we all convert. But if there is a way to talk to Muslims about the violence and yes, compulsion, in their religion, then there is hope that it might even become a religion of peace. I know how unlikely it is, as I have Muslim friends with whom I find it extremely difficult to tread upon these eggshells. When and if we discuss the Pope's speech, they will be emotional, not rational. So now I tell them that he said unreasonableness is opposed to the nature of God, and we'll see if a discussion is possible.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 02:32:00 PM:


This is a fascinating discussion. Thank you.

Office workers - It seems to me that if one of your fellow workers is explosive, obnoxious, and abuses his fellow workers then I have three choices: Put up with it, terminate him, leave the office space. Talking reasonably to and about him assumes that he will be reasonable.

It seems to me that regardless oh how peaceful the majority of Muslims might be that they're not the one's were concerned with. Somehow, someway the unreasonable ones have to be delt with. It doesn't seem that either living with it or leaving the office is an option here.

And let's not confuse being polite with being a doormat.

Perhaps the idea of Political Correctness should be eliminated, then we can have some honest discussion?


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 02:56:00 PM:

The problem is religion, period.

It should be banned before it leads to the death of us all.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 03:38:00 PM:

Anonymous wrote:

'The problem is religion, period.

It should be banned before it leads to the death of us all.'

No. The problem is religion without ethics:

'This is ethical monotheism:
There is a God.
God's primary demand is ethics.
God without ethics leads to religious evil.
Ethics without God produces secular evil.'

Quote from Dennis Prager- Ultimate issues 1991  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Sat Sep 16, 04:05:00 PM:

"if Islam is the most misunderstood religion in the world (and so says oj) then it's Muslims who seem to misunderstand more than anyone else."

Are you serious? Because these people do not conform to behavior that you think their religion should promote then they must be misunderstanding their own religion? They are led by people who have dedicated their entire lives to the interpretation of Islamic holy writings.

They can look in a book and read, "Kill the infidels if they do not submit" in several contexts, in Arabic, with diacritical (pronunciation guide) marks that have been passed down unaltered for the last 1350 years precisely so that no one could alter the interpretation of that phrase. So can you, if you can read Arabic.

I haven't seen anything that Charles Martel has said on this thread that is wrong, excepting the motivation for the Christian Crusades. (new scholarship is revealing that there was a lot more religious fervor and a lot less realpolitikal thinking involved than usually believed, at least in the beginning; but that's irrelevant to this)

The truth is that the idea that Islam is a progressive religion in tune with Western values is a big fat myth propogated by Muslims who live here and like it here, and tip toe-ing politicians trying to avoid civil strife. They fit into our culture by de-emphasizing or ignoring certain precepts of their faith. Like jihad against non-Muslim government for instance, or practically ignoring female testimony in legal cases, et cetera. They have to ignore them because those ideas (which are inherent in Middle Eastern culture and put into practice in the more theocratic ones) are *not* in tune with Western culture.

But those precepts exist, and they are taken literally in large parts (that majority, easily) of the Muslism countries of the world.

Here is an analysis of the chronology of Quranic commands concerning violence, and thereby their progression over time.


They got more bold, general, and *violent* as time went on. It went from "Do not practice violence" to "Fight only when they attack you" to "Fight until all religion is for God." Almost no one in the West knows this because no one repeats it. It's not PC, and I'm sure they'd be accused of 'Islamophobia.' Which is assinine, because *it's there.* In writing, unaltered for more than a millenium.

But the terrorists know it. They are absolutely sure that they are in the right and will be rewarded in the afterlife for their efforts. Because those words exist. And all those people who aren't terrorist foot soldiers but who think positively of them, and think that when Americans and British who are tortured and beheaded in Iraq and broadcast over the Internet they are getting what they deserve, do so because those words exist.

Those words are God's will made manifest via the Angel Gabriel and the Prophet Muhammad. They are part of Islam, which is defined as submission to the will of God. i.e. they are part of Islam.  

By Blogger Michael McNeil, at Sat Sep 16, 04:10:00 PM:

one Anonymous said...
I'm tired of hearing about all the contributions made to civilization by people that presently think beheading is acceptable. I'm especially tired of hearing about the oft quoted invention of the zero! It's too easy to retort that zero is the sum of their contributions since.

another Anonymous said...
Actually, the Indians invented the zero. The Arabs introduced it to Europe.

In fact, the zero was invented by the Babylonians, a millennium before Mohammed, as part of their base-60, so-called “sexagesimal” positional numbering system. Moreover, when the Indians’ base-10 decimal system first arrived, much later, in the cognizance of the West (Arab and European, and as late as the 10th century AD), it had no zero, consisting of nine symbols only. Eventually, someone (we don't know who, might have been Arab, Greek, or Indian) hit on the bright idea of putting the already-known sexagesimal zero together with the base-10 system, and voila! — decimals had a zero, which in early manuscripts even looked exactly like the sexagesimal zero.

However, lack of a zero was not the principal drawback to the early decimal system — much more serious was the lack of capability for expressing fractions natively (so-called radix fractions; e.g., 3.14… for π) within the system, which hobbled decimals throughout most of their history, up until Western mathematicians (e.g., Francois Viète) extended the system to incorporate radix fractions during the 16th century [!] AD. By comparison, sexagesimals included notation for expressing radix fractions as early as 1800 BC! For that reason, sexagesimal numerals were used for serious scientific computations (astronomy, trigonometry) throughout the ancient and medieval periods, exhibiting basically the same utility as modern decimals. For instance, the trigonometric tables in Ptolemy's Almagest (c. 140 AD), the world-shifting computations of Copernicus (1540), were all executed and displayed using sexagesimal notation.

We still use sexagesimals, by the way, basically every one of us, every day: in the degrees-minutes-seconds of angles, but even more commonly in the hours-minutes-seconds of time. Thus minutes and seconds aren't some weird units, but rather are first and second order sexagesimal fractions, akin to the tenths- and hundredths-places in decimals, that Ptolemy (in Latin translation) called partes minutae primae and partes minutae secundae.

You can read more about it here.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 04:19:00 PM:

You wrote:
"It's interesting how we never see muslims in America reacting like this. Perhaps they're afraid that Americans would become the monsters they've accused us of being for so long."

Maybe... But I work in a very large sofware company, very politically correct in the Western US and there are many muslims employees there, from different areas (Bengladesh, North Africa, Egypt, Pakistan etc) and when something really bad happens to the country they can barely contain their jubilation, even in front of the "kaffirs".

There are more and more entering the country: I cannot believe the number of fully covered muslim women I see in the stores nowadays. Particularly in the last year or so. A very uncommon sight has become very common.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 04:19:00 PM:

'not RC', I like your comment best so far. Good luck with those acquaintances. Maybe you can still introduce them to more aspects of the theology of Islam than they are yet aware? If they're anything like this crowd though, I'd say you're in for some rough going.

Muslims the world over are primarily "educated" about their own corner of Islam only, which makes sense when you consider where they get their information from. Most of them can't even keep up with who's supposed to be an "infidel" or not among their own idiotic brethren.

It's my hope for our entire propaganda strategy that we coax AND TRAIN the so-called "moderates" in Islam back into public view (or maybe even back into existence). That is, after we've killed as many murderous extremists as we need to.

But the tone on this thread seems to lead us to a genocidal solution (even if we mean that in a civilizational, rather than a racial sense). If that's the idea, then the implication is as impractical as it is hideous.

Chalres Martel, you must have missed the "and also", when I wrote about Ismaili Gnosis "AND ALSO to the more general Shi'a practice of ijtihad."

I'm glad you looked the term up though, and so would Irshad Manji be pleased. There's more on that Shi'a principle online than can be found at Wikipedia though. Why not give this one a looksee:


By Blogger Nancy Reyes, at Sat Sep 16, 05:04:00 PM:

John Burgess discusses how wonderful Saudi medicine is, and how great is their medical schools, which produce fully qualified doctors...well, duh. So do a lot of third world countries..
Indeed, I agree with him that Saudi Arabia's hospitals are good...they should be. they are full of Pinoy (and other non Saudi) doctors and nurses...

As for "uterine transplants"...the fact it was done by a woman surgeon proves nothing, since technically a first year resident in surgery could perform it...the trick in transplantation is to stop rejection of the organ...

Organ rejection and the medicines to stop this are dangerous to the life and health of one receiving an organ, which is why ethically one does not do trivial transplants for non life threatening conditions, such as face or uterine transplants.

To transplant a uterus is ethically forbidden because it threatens the life of the mother...and to have a baby while taking these medications risks the life and health of the baby.

As a doctor and as a feminist, such a procedure merely proves the subjugation of women in a society that sees them as nothing but baby factories and slaves of their spouses.  

By Blogger Lanky_Bastard, at Sat Sep 16, 05:13:00 PM:

The pope says God doesn't want people to practice holy war.

People who believe in holy war get all upset.

Other people get upset at the people who believe in holy wars.

(ACT IV: reserved for holy war)  

By Blogger Georg Felis, at Sat Sep 16, 05:48:00 PM:

Once again Islam proclaims itself to be the Religion of Peace, and promises to beat up and murder all who opposes them.  

By Blogger peggy38, at Sat Sep 16, 09:41:00 PM:

I think the problem is Islam and not at all cultural and the reason why is as follows.

If Islam is the greatest and last of God's revealations of mankind, why has it completely and utterly failed to civilize the barbaric tribes of the ME (and Afghanistan etc too)after 1400 years? Why did it fail where Christianity succeeded in civilizing the barbarian tribes of Europe? Does anyone see Christians in Sweden or Norway still acting like pre-Christian Vikings????

How is that Islam failed to prevent the total degradation of the ME?

Why is the most supposedly backward and fanatical islamic country the very same one where Islam got its start? Are we really to believe that the islam we find on the fringes of the muslim world is more authentic??

And why is it also that the native pre-islamic cultures of so-called moderate islamic countries are at the moment also failing to resist Islamic radicalism? Previously moderate Muslim areas all over the world are rapidly sucuumbing. At the same time in these same countries there is an islamic revival going on in which people are taking their faith more and more seriously.

And if militant Islam is such a perversion of normative islam, why dont these folks recognize it as an imposter and reject it instead of welcoming it?

The problem is Islam. The problem may not be all muslims, but it is islam. The sooner these good folks face up to it the better for all of us. We confuse the issue and we do them lasting damage by pretending that islam can be reformed.

Look at its handiwork. It sucked dry the civilizations that it conquered and once these areas were almost entirely muslim, why didnt they become even greater and stay great until this day?? That will be us if we dont win the battle of ideas. We begin by telling the ugly truth without apology. If anyone needs tough love it is these people. We are certainly not loving them by minimizing the problem.  

By Blogger Mark in Texas, at Sat Sep 16, 10:56:00 PM:


Does anyone see Christians in Sweden or Norway ...

I don't think that there are any Christians left in Sweden and Norway or most anywhere else in Europe for that matter. The last Christian in Sweden or Norway was probably some 103 year old lady in Tromso who died last year.

And that is why Europe is going to be islamic within the next two decades. The Europeans are going to take Bill Maher's advice and make what they believe to be a meaningless conversion to Islam in order for the Muslims to stop setting off bombs.

After all, the Europeans don't believe that they have anything to lose and the unbelievers who will face restrictions under the sharia laws were just a bunch of religious fanatics and pains in the ass anyway. As for the religious instruction in the schools, well it is no secret that the Europeans have lost the knack or reproducing so most of those kids are from Muslim immigrant families anyway.

I think it's a shame because Europe was a nice place to visit, but see it quick because it is going to get real different pretty soon. The two questions that I wonder about are whether the UK will follow the rest of Europe and whether we will treat France's nuclear weapons arsenal like the French fleet in Oran.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Sep 16, 11:37:00 PM:

I think the pope's move is brilliant. The other side's weakness is to overplay the hand, a lack of nuance. So he gives them a bait that looks perfectly innocent to a thinking person, a quote from a medieval text, and some strong words in the quote so that they get reproduced in newsbites. The other side of course plays another chain of riots, but I think and hope that the general public is becoming more conscious of the warmongering that these mullahs and imams are engaging in, and the west's liberal multicultural allowance is getting strained, and more people will study mohammed's legacy. Hope by the time it's over we can avoid lobbing one on Mecca and one on Medina.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Sep 17, 12:19:00 AM:

Muslims offer the following:

1. Convert.


2. Die.

That's Islam in a nutshell (well, add sexual slavery, polygamy, female genital mutilation, general beheading, stoning to death women who were raped, killing poets, cartoonists, and authors they don't like, people of other religions, and the death penalty for leaving Islam).

Islam has left the Middle East in squalor, poverty, violence, and disease. While Israel is the home of Checkpoint Software, various mobile phone software companies, and leading edge biomedical and aeronautical companies.

WHAT exactly world class company has Islam produced? They can't even pump their own oil.

Muslims like Zawahari and bin Laden have made a clear offer: convert or die. Yes there's a billion of them. Since I have ZERO intention of giving up my booze, dog (Muslims hate dogs and often torture them to death, as bin Laden purportedly did to prove his holiness) or appreciation of women I offer an alternative to those billion plus Muslims who want me either dead or converted to their horrible, awful, sadistic religion.

You first.  

By Blogger peggy38, at Sun Sep 17, 12:28:00 AM:


As an aside, do you know why the Saudis wanted to do the uterine transplant in the first place?

Because Islam forbids surrogate mothers.

So they are driven to prove that it can be done so that they can say that the islamic way is better.

But as i heard, the transplant had to be taken out again because the woman began to have problems. As it was explained at the time, it is extremely difficult to connect the blood supply correctly.

In other words, as you said, the woman's life was endangered with an umedically necessary transplant procedure when a safer method was available but forbidden.

BTW it is forbidden because there can be no exchange of anything related to sex between unmarried people. So if a surrogate was not married to the man she could not have the product of his sperm, the egg, implanted in her body.

Apparently these folks were not in the market for a second wife. At minimum the woman was desparate for her own child because a woman cannot be fully muslim unless she is married and a barren woman could be easily divorced. She would be desparate to avoid being either divorced or being supplanted by a fertile second wife.

Its just sad. No word yet on whether the transplant was really successful. I havent heard if the woman actually has had a child yet. Who knows what might happen if she does.  

By Blogger peggy38, at Sun Sep 17, 12:37:00 AM:


There could be other explainations for Saudi medicine and engineering.

They are trying to prove something in reaction to Western success and they have more money than God with which to buy the best of everything. Engineering comes in handy if you are using your money conquer the world.

If there was no West to compete with and no oil billions, Saudi would be as backward today as they were at the start of the century. Money can buy a lot except a culture that truly values learning, invention and acheivement.

If the Saudis were so accomplished without the oil cajillions and if they were leading the way before the West put them to shame then we could talk about how islam is not a bar to acheivement. But that is not the case is it? Islam is the problem.  

By Blogger peggy38, at Sun Sep 17, 12:51:00 AM:

Re: the office analogy I have my two cents to put in.

An office is of a completely different and far smaller scale than a situation that involves cultures, religions and civilizations. You are comparing apples to oranges because we talking about two different things being at stake. In an office the worst that can happen is that money will be lost and people will lose their jobs. If office harmony prevails, people get to keep their jobs and make more money.

The stakes are not even close when we talk about the survival of whole civilizations. This is a battle of ideas on the grandest of scales and the penalty for us if we lose is nothing less than the loss of our culture and traditions not to mention a rational way of looking at the world using the objective standards of reason that have served us so well. If we lose, reason will be defined not by objective standards but by the koran. Nothing which contradicts it will be allowed.

when the stakes are high, a little provocation is in order if it gets reasonable and decent people to reconsider their position. If you think that muslims can only become more set in their ways and more violent when challenged then you think less of them than most of us here. I think that most of us here believe in the power of truth which is not sugarcoated. Muslims have never had the unvarnished truth before. They live in a lala land of sorts and the only way to get them to snap out of it is to paint them in a corner after demolishing all of their excuses and justifications. When there is no where left to hide, they will have to face up to the fatal flaws of islam. We do them no favors to pussy foot around their sensitivities. The roots of the problem must be exposed.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Sep 17, 01:02:00 AM:

Fair enough Charles Martel.

It must have been someone else who wanted to outlaw religion; the John Lennon fantasy is surely not mine.

I appreciate your attention to my "civilizational genocide" question, since you see that it can lead nowhere.

Yet I also agree with you that, "in a strict sense, [my] interfering with a Muslim's right to exercise his faith ... [is] just too damned bad" if that faith requires undermining my, and our existence.

Maybe the Europeans will eventually figure this out, but I agree with 'Mark in Texas' that it's late in the game for them (which in itself is worrying for us).

Tragically, there is a better way for Muslims from right within their own traditions. There are wise and beautiful Islamic thinkers from the past, but too few contemporary Muslims are encouraged to use their own minds to investigate them. There are far too many categories of infidel, and almost no centralized authority to guide or inspire them to anything but the most literal interpretations of their outwardly violent texts.

In that way they are not terribly unlike an earlier phase of Christendom, but today the world cannot tolerate such a situation as Europe knew during the counter-Reformation.

All I'm saying is, seek out the greatest figures in their history and make them aware of how badly they've fallen short of their own heritage. Now that would be a propaganda campaign: explain yourself to your own ancestors (whom WE understand better than you!).

[And I swear I'm not a Muslim, Christian, or Jew; I'm simply an educated American, and therefore have greater access to their own traditions than they do. Think of it as an interest in comparative mythology.]

The other option that you seemed in your writings above to prefer, the apocalyptic clash of civilzations, is frankly too horrifying to contemplate. It is also, mercifully, not necessary.  

By Blogger peggy38, at Sun Sep 17, 01:04:00 AM:

As for the muslim believer here who claims that islam is the most misunderstood religion in the world.

Has it ever occured to you that the reason why this is because of a flaw in islam? If it is so incomprehensible to other people, isnt there something wrong with it? Shouldnt the worlds greatest and most perfect religion be the easiest to understand? Isnt that in fact one of the selling points that islam is so fond of using to gain converts? If it is the most difficult to understand then the religion actually fails to pass its own test.

Whatsmore, muslims do blame the failings of the West on Christianity. Read any tract or book promoting islam and you will see the blame for all these things places squarely on Christianity. Christianity, in these texts, is in this way proven to be an incomplete and failed religion and Islam is advanced as the solution.

In fact, isnt it completely necessary to islams very existence to denigrate Christianity? If Christianity were not so denigrated then what would be the nned for islam? Your very beliefs about Christianity are an insult to us ie that it was never meant to leave Israel and that it is corruption and a denigration of the original teachings of Jesus designed his unethical followers to suit themselves. But islam's whole existence depended first of all on denigrating its only real competition in the universal himan religion league. It had to be defamed for islam to succeed.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Sep 17, 01:12:00 AM:

Tigerhawk: I beg to differ.

The Pope was making an excellent speech about the abuse of religion to foment violence.

I do not think it was necessary to provoke a particular audience which had already showed it was on a short fuse to make his point.

I don't blame him for quoting a Byzantine emperor, but question his staff in selecting such a quote.

I am not absolving the asshats who fly into a rage if Nike invents a new shoe design, if an ice cream cup has a "suspicious looking swirl", or a cartoon mocks them. They are asshats who confirm the stereotype.

My point is that the speech writer did not practice due dilligence in his reference materials. As a result, the world anger level is three degrees higher than it need be.

This distracts from far more important issues and sets back both what the Holy Father and moderate Muslims are trying to do. As a result, we all lose.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Sep 17, 01:13:00 AM:

10 Then the Angel of the LORD said to her, “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.”
11 And the Angel of the LORD said to her: “Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has heard your affliction.
12 He shall be a wild man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren....”
15 So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.
16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

***Genesis chapter 16 explains very well why Arabian culture has for 4,000 years been quick with the sword. Today's Islamic culture is rooted in the ancient Patriarch Ishmael's violent nature.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Sep 17, 01:15:00 AM:

"In fact, isnt it completely necessary to islams very existence to denigrate Christianity?"

No more than is customary in Christianity.

I once asked a Roman Catholic theologian how the Church categorized people of other faiths who were obviously and unmistakably "saintly"? He answered that the Church considered them "involuntary Christians".

Chew on that awhile.  

By Blogger peggy38, at Sun Sep 17, 01:19:00 AM:

Mark in Texas,

You wouldnt be "newbie" would you?

Just ignore me if you're not ;-)

But I have to correct you on something. You are most certainly right about Sweden but in at least one Nordic country Christianity is doing well, well relatively. I cant remember if its Norway or Finland but the Church there is condidered in good shape and counts young people and young families as a decent portion of its membership.

My point however was that even when Sweden and Norway were strongly Christian nations, they were not still practicing their bloodier and more savage pre-Christian Viking culture. They were among the most civilized folks ever in the history of Europe. They were peaceful, tolerant and greatly and wonderfully accomplished in every conceivable area.

Even if we swallow the notion that the MEs problems are to be blamed on pre-islamic culture then we also have to conclude that islam has abjectly failed to civilize these people. That is a pretty damning indictment of what is supposed to be the summit of all religion.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Sep 17, 01:26:00 AM:

I understood you all day John Burgess, and I agreed with every word. (I'm the guy who's been arguing for a more educated propaganda campaign).

A clash of civilizations is not inevitable, but seems more and more unavoidable. I'm sure there's a better way. I agree that the Pope has hardly advanced that possibility.

T. O'Connor  

By Blogger Lawrence 3X, at Sun Sep 17, 01:31:00 AM:

Respect for law, respect for the rights of other people, and responsibility for one's own actions . These are tactile lynchpins of Judeo/Christian philosophy. They have been the springboard for the advance (not always a straight line!) of civilization these last 2,000 years. That the Muslim world does not adhere - indeed, sneers - to these principles also, explains much of why it wallows in barbarity. One cannot debate with a barbarian. One can only fight, or give ground. Choosing the second only buys time until there is no more ground to give, and then fight. Best that the Muslim fanatics get a grip and stick to their knitting. Failing that (a foregone conclusion, if history is any judge), then better to fight now, while we're best able to do so. I support the Pope (though I'm not Catholic). And I will not submit, nor surrender.  

By Blogger peggy38, at Sun Sep 17, 01:37:00 AM:


You assume that I am claiming that Christianity and Christians can do no wrong. I said nothing about Christianity being innocent of hubris. I was speaking only to the completely erroneous claim that muslims dont disrespect Christianity and dont blame it for the flaws in Western society.

As for the quote you use, I dont consider it particularly damning although I understand your point in using it. What kind of religion doesnt believe that it is the better choice over all the others. All religions claim to understand the universe better and to behave better than all the others. It comes with the territory of ideas and belief. Yet in defense of most religions, including Christianity, a more nuanced position is taken than your single quote from a single guy would make it seem. Christianity, like other religions, has concluded that all other faiths have a degree of the truth. Some more. Some less. But since it believes in its own claims, Christianity, like most other religions, claims to have the fullest understanding of the truth. This is the official position of the Catholic Church as opposed to the unfortunate characterization of that position given by the priest that you quoted.

In addition, the Church teaches that God loves all of mankind and works in the lives of all who call on him regardless of their beliefs about him. We believe that he can and does answer the sincere prayers of all people. We also believe that the Holy Spirit does not discriminate and that it works in all human lives to bring them closer to God. The difference between us Christians and all the others is that we have a greater understanding and awareness of that loving activity and that through our informed consent and cooperation receive the full benefit of its power.

There are most certainly Christians who would disagree with the above but they have that right. But the official teaching of the largest body of Christians in the world is just as I have said.  

By Blogger peggy38, at Sun Sep 17, 01:56:00 AM:

One last comment before i go to bed.

While I'm as anti-islam as they come, I am not however anti-muslims.

I want to add my agreement that the worst possible outcome in this situation can be avoided and must be all costs. We will all lose if it comes to that.

We may differ on the methods to avoid this outcome. Some are for conciliatio. Some are for a better propaganda war. Myself, I am for a no holds barred confrontation approach in the still free realm of ideas to win the day. But I think many of us can agree that we must speak out against those who see the worst case scenario as an inevitability.

When people start talking nukes, it turns my stomach. Sorry. I'm just being honest. I trust in the power of ideas when coupled with the freedom and liberty of an open society. When people start talking about nukes that means that they have given up on the power of the truth and I refuse to do that.

BTW, Mecca and Medina are full of people. So are the cities of the ME. Its shameful to be so glib about destroying them.

I for one will never let a "nuke em" comment stand without saying something.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Sep 17, 02:08:00 AM:

"we also have to conclude that islam has abjectly failed to civilize these people"

From my very first post above, about the philosopher Avicenna, to everything I've said in support of Islam's capacity to reason since, I still must agree with that last estimate, Peggy.

Your considerations of Christianity are well taken. I am not a Christian, but neither am I a relativist. Our civilization is founded on Christendom, which has given rise to our notion of our own liberties and of our systems of self-government.

And yet I myself am quite willing to depart from questions of religion (which is my business of course). After a day on this thread, I would even recommend that people rely on philosophy and theology more than on their personal religious understandings, the language of which is usually unhelpful in a general dialogue.

The thread initially touched on the question of reason, correct?

Please do not think that I see much to value in contemporary Islam, especially as compared to Christianity today. But is it just possible that Americans, as the last survivors of the Western heritage (thinking ahead), must be even more than the "policemen of the world"? For our own survival, must we learn how to specifically inform Muslims about moving their own traditions forward?

Actually, that's George Bush's wager, and I'm still with him on that. They DO have a tradition of reasoning, as Tigerhawk and I have referenced in our mention of thinkers such as Averroes and Avicenna.

Another way to say it (and sell it) is "tradition is a process". But Muslims have that already in the principle of ijtihad. We just have to learn some new words and ideas which may be a bit of a nuissance, but there you have it.

And anyway, why shouldn't we wish to expand the limits of our reason? Do we think that philosophy is a done deal just because "post-modernists" say it is? When's the last time anyone here has dipped into Aristotle? Let's not pretend we're paragons of our own heritage just because we're willing to read more than a single book.

I must sleep now, but it's been nice speaking with you all.

T. O'Connor  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Sep 17, 02:43:00 AM:

You and I are probably very much in agreement on a good many things, Peggy.

Blogging is such a strange, new world, isn't it? It does hold much promise, if we'd only devote the appalling amount of time it takes to organize difficult thoughts and then to converse honestly about them! It's so often easier for people to unthinkingly post an exhortation to "nuke 'em". That can be pretty discouraging, and turns my stomach too.

I really wish Americans were more educated about our enemy, their ideas and their traditions. Essential to my own private propaganda war - and as a suggestion by way of a personal style - when I talk to Muslims about their faith I do so knowingly, finding that most don't know too much about the Islamic ideas and figures of my own choosing. Then I act all surprised as if everyone must know these things, and that anyone really has to know them if they want to consider themselves well-rounded human beings.

Well, it works every time. The only problem is that you have to know the ideas and figures in the first place. My interests are in philosophy and comparative mythology, through which I try to ease any conversation away from the language of a particular religion. I say that without being a cultural relativist. You just have to be quick on your feet.

T. O'Connor  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Sep 17, 11:29:00 AM:

As a biology wonk I see this from a different perspective; that of the evolution of the population located in the "Middle East". There is a demonstrated canon that in simple words says, that one must adapt to the changes in the environment or perish. This happens over time and does not occur in the space of a few hundred years. The islam influenced part of the population has been prevented from adaption to the changing environment, whereas that part of the population open to "adaptation" has prospered and survived. Turning to an economic perspective, it would seem that the aforementioned is demonstrated by the nature of the people; Limited societal innovation, an enforced stasis and a rejection of anything that would promote the long term survival. The current survival strategy of the population is to have high birth rates and to expand into other regions as opposed to being self sufficient and maintaining a sustainable population. Wait and see, the Islamic based societies will be gone in a thousand years. The question then becomes, will they destroy or kill off all other societies before then?  

By Blogger peggy38, at Mon Sep 18, 11:53:00 AM:

T O'Connor,

I couldnt agree with you more that the debate has to use the tools of reason and philosophy rather than have one side trying to out shout the others that their religion is right and the other is wrong.

However, I am a believer in making a philosophical defense not only of Western Civ but also of Christianity, which we both agree was a major contributor to the same.

I think that using by using the language of reason and philosophy to demonstrate what it is about Christianity that has led to success and what it is about islam that has led to failure, then we can make real progress. This is why I dont resort to what I call the duelling scriptures form of debate where scriptures are ripped from their context by both sides to try and discredit ones opponent. I talk in terms of ideas, objective standards and common sense. I look at concrete differences in outcome between us and them. I tell it like it is and work very hard to get folks to face the facts whenever an attempt is made to deflect blame from where it must be laid.

A religion is responsible for the outcomes, both good and bad, that its believers produce. I accept that there are things in the Christian tradition that had atrocious outcomes where either the Church instigated the bad outcome or failed to prevent it. I also credit my faith for the good it has accomplished. The same must be accepted by muslims about islam.

Unfortunately this will wreck havoc with their theology since they are taught that it is their religion that is perfect and penultimate whereas Christians are taught that only Jesus is perfect and penultimate and that our response to him, our religion, can, at times, go off the rails and be as flawed as we are as individuals. Personally I feel that muslims will not be able to make this transition without abandoning islam and its claims to being perfect. I believe that the best outcome of the project to engage muslims in a discussion based on reason will lead the decent and reasonable among them, the majority, to admit that their religion is composed of many failed ideas and that the good ones it contains are derivative. If they want to become agnostic, Bhuddist or whatever after that I dont care as long as the poisonous ideas of islam are rejected by Western and world society. This will be the best outcome for all. There will of course be die hards and fanatics that will hold out but when they are safely and clearly separted from the majority, they wont be very hard to take care of. Most muslims have a divided loyalty right now. We have to get tough with them to, I hope, force them to change. I truly believe as you do that most people are reasonable will make a choice for the best argument in the realm of ideas. I believe that the West, and so with it Christianity, has the best argument. We just have to stop being shy and apologetic about it and be honest even if that means coming across as being tough or harsh. Sometimes "nice" just doesnt cut it, does it?  

By Blogger peggy38, at Mon Sep 18, 12:07:00 PM:

T O'Connor,

I also wanted to mention how much I appreciate it when non-believers like yourself are reasonable enough to acknowledge the major positive contributions that Christianity has made to our society.

All too often there is a complete logical disconnect in the reasoning of Western non-believing relativists. They blame Christianity for every bad thing about our history and society and give credit for the good to any and everything else besides. These same people will talk about the total domination and control that Christianity once had over our society when it comes to blaming it for something and when it comes to something good about our society, then its all about those good ideas emerging from a Christianity-free vacuum and succeeding in spite of the Church due entirely to the efforts of thoroughly secular heroes who were alone willing to drive the all-powerful Christian beast away from decent society.

On the other hand these same folks will say that everything bad about islam can be blamed on pre-islamic culture while all the good things that muslims ever accomplished are due to the brilliance of islam alone and any pre-exisisting culture or civilization whether Christian, Jewish, Zorastrian, Persian, Hindu, or Bhuddist had nothing to due with that success in the least.

I, for just one, am absolutely sick of it.

Someone like yourself is a breath of fresh air. I admired Oriana Fallaci for the same reason. It gives me hope that we Westerners, whatever our stripe, can all come together to face the facts and deal with reality to save our great civilization.  

By Blogger peggy38, at Mon Sep 18, 12:33:00 PM:

Last comment.


The people who make me the most exasperated are the relativists who in addition to committing the logical diconnects that I mentioned above also give all the credit for the modern age to islam via Averroes and Avicenna etc. As if Christianity werent fundamentally Greek, as if we had completely and hopelessly lost all connection to Greek learning (The monks of Ireland would beg to differ) as if the resulting progress werent a case of a tradition coming home to its ideal environment and being returned to its best interpreters.

Europe was so primed and such a ready made environment because of the Greekness of Christianity. After all the field of Christian apologetics came about out of the efforts of Greek believers to reconcile their faith with their own tradition of thought and philosophy. This process began very early in our history, was profoundly influential on the faith, and continued with both good, bad and indifferent result up to and into the modern age.

Christianity has a long tradition of incorporating reason into faith which comes from our Greek hertitage. We may not always like or approve of the answers that come from that attempt but all reasonable people should be able to acknowledge that fact. The fact is that Christianity primed Europe for the modern age. Islam was just a courier.  

By Blogger peggy38, at Mon Sep 18, 12:54:00 PM:

Ok so I lied. This is my last post because something just occured to me that i feel the need to say.

You talk in terms of itdjitad (however thats supposed to be spelled) as the tradition within islam of reconciling faith and reason.

Yet I think there may be a problem in this approach. The tradition, if it is truly islamic, would lack objectivity. Islamic thought begins with the assumption that mohammed and the koran are correct about everything and the remaining task is justification the working out of proofs using the tools of reason to prove the faith is true.

So in Islamic tradition, we can say that believing muslims are using their heads to come up with reasons why islam is true working from an assumption that it is true. One example would be one of the reasons put forward for the veiling of women. Because islam teaches that men cannot control themselves unless women "help" them by covering, in order to prove that the teaching is correct, all the muslim apologist sees in the world are examples of men not being able to control themselves. See, they say, its true that it is better for women to cover up and a throughly reasonable sounding proof is created which excludes all other evidence to the contrary.

I think that one of the reasons that the Greek tradition was so remarkable and invaluable was because of its committment to the ideal of objetivity. No idea in that tradition was too sacred to examine or attempt to discredit. This is not to say that they were always objective. Perfect objectivity is a hard thing for anyone to acheive. But they were aware of its value of this ideal and it was something that they alone were committed to for a very long time before anyone else.

I think this is one of their very greatest gifts both to the West and to the Christian faith. We should be careful that we encourage muslims to be objective about their faith rather than just encourage them to do more of the same kind of "reasoning" that got them in the mess they're in in the first place. Its not enough to use one's brain. It must be used properly as well.  

By Blogger jinnderella, at Mon Sep 18, 10:26:00 PM:

tigerhawk, if i may.
here lies the body of john o'day
who died defending the right of way
he was right, dead right, as he sailed along
but he's just as dead as if he'd been wrong.
sure the pope is right.
but he did apologise, and said manuels thoughts were not his.

here is the real result of this foolishness.
Pope: Happy Birthday, Osama!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Sep 19, 12:09:00 PM:

Islam does not except terrorism not at all.

Ummm, what was that penalty for apostacy again? Refresh my memory.

Islam uses terror on its own faithful to keep them in line. The various christian and jewish sects gave up on that kind of medieval shit many many centuries ago.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Oct 28, 09:42:00 PM:

As a Muslim, is see 2 worlds of hate, one on the other side of the World that twists and distorts Islam to achieve their political agendas. And other in the form of neocons (such as peggy, for example, who oddly attempts to credit Christianity with the achievements of Secularism) who twist and distort Islam to support their own agenda.

As a Muslim, which do I speak out against? One on hand, my religion is being hijacked, with the unintential assistance of the media (whether it be CNN or Al-Jazeera), whereas I have people in my own backyard espousing ignorance, that will directly affect my rights here (which have been suffering since 9/11, ie. the right to legal council is denied to many American Muslims, as per the Patriot Act).

Both affect me, but one is more direct and apparent. Frankly I would love the ideal situation where I can use Islam to speak out against terror, hate, and ignorance that exists in a growing minority in the Muslim world. Unfortunately, as long as I'm being targetted by those in the West...that day will never come.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jan 14, 08:31:00 AM:

If anything invented by arabs and islamic world, it is - TERRORISM. i hope everybody agrees to it. yes, US is partially to be blamed for arming them and teaching them to use weapons and modern gadgetry.

recently i came across a website where it mentioned that everything that we use are the inventions of islam. this is the greatest joke i have ever come across till now.

its true that the problem of middle east, arabs and islam are interconnected. as a race arabs are filthy, crude and uncivilized. they still think they can dominate the world with oil. what they fail to understand is that world has gone pst them centuries ago. the middle ages mentality will not get them anywhere.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Feb 25, 01:05:00 PM:

With the growth of Islam in numbers, its influence will undoubtably grow in the coming decades. By the mid-century, it may be the largest religion in numbers, exceeding that of Christianity. Therefore, terrorist activity will grow as well. We have a lot to fear from them. That the West finds Iranian Mahmoud Ahmadinejad so abominable is hardly a surprise. He's merely carrying out the will of his revered hero, the Ayatollah Khomeini. Ayatollah Khomeini was extremely EVIL--a power hungry, murderous, American-hating meglomaniac. He sent a million of his own people to their deaths in the Iran-Iraq War, when he could have stopped that conflict. That entire Islamic regime in Iran is evil. Bush attacked the wrong country. He should have reserved his pre-emptive strike for Iran. If Ahmadinejad doesn't back down, we ought to bomb Iran before they bomb us.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Jan 10, 09:00:00 AM:



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