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Conservatives dispute Bush on Islam
November 30, 2002 1:43 PM   Subscribe

Conservatives dispute Bush on Islam Bush critics, we are told, though they support him believe his statements about Islam are basically political and that Islam is not a peace-loving religion. Though I am not sure on this issue, I do not think citing a passage or two in this or that holy scripture is sufficient to apply to any religion, since what it does (or has done) differs often from what it's stated position is. In this article I find myself torn between disliking in general anything that right-wing conservatives utter and also disliking anything that Bush has to say! My shortcoming, no doubt.
posted by Postroad (43 comments total)

 
There is a strong case that Islam is inherently more violent and dangerous than Christianity. Both religions have in their texts violent language toward the adherents of religions other than their own. The difference is that that the Old Testament is moderated by the New Testament. Deuteronomy's rough language is not to be found in the words of Jesus.

Islam on the other hand has its tolerant teachings in the early part of Mohammed's life when he was relatively powerless. His teachings became less tolerant as he became more powerful. In Islam, when two statements are in conflict the statement made later takes precedence.

So, it is not merely that both religions have hateful language but rather the directionality of these two sets of cultural values.
posted by paleocon at 2:20 PM on November 30, 2002


Tempting as it is (and I admit I've done my share), one shouldn't characterize a religion by its extremists. Christianity isn't all made up of wackos blowing up abortion clinics and televangelists grubbing for money.

Whether he's sincere or not, Bush knows he can't afford to piss off the moderate majority to appease the extremist minority.
posted by RylandDotNet at 2:20 PM on November 30, 2002


As an example of a passage or two to apply to an entire religion... Consider Mark 16:18

(Mark 16:15-18 NIV) He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. {16} Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. {17} And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; {18} they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."

Entire religions, mostly the serpent handling Holiness churches of the Appalachian US are based on this phrase, and do exactly what it says in that passage.

The rest of Christianity, is, to say the least, doubtful of that bit, and most dismiss it as having been poorly translated or added after the publication of the rest of the Bible. Consider being a Christian, and having some culturally-blinded politician base his judgement of you on that passage alone. Food for thought.
posted by whatzit at 2:21 PM on November 30, 2002


The difference is that that the Old Testament is moderated by the New Testament. Deuteronomy's rough language is not to be found in the words of Jesus.

I would argue that we're dealing with extremists (Christian, Islamist, what have you) who will use their religion to justify whatever atrocities they commit after the fact, rather than theologists who try to figure out what Jesus or Mohammed or whoever meant and then carrying out their mission based on their findings.
posted by RylandDotNet at 2:25 PM on November 30, 2002


Deuteronomy's rough language is not to be found in the words of Jesus.

Matthew 10, KJV:

[14] And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
[15] Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
...

[21] And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
...
[32] Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
[33] But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
[34] Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.


Similarly, Luke 12:

[49] I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I if it be already kindled?
[50] But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!
[51] Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
[52] For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.
[53] The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.


Maybe not quite as rough, but close.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:31 PM on November 30, 2002


There is a strong case that Islam is inherently more violent and dangerous than Christianity.

Wrong: This is simple minded and ignorant bullshit. Since the fall of communism, no international equivalent to the rallying point homosexuals have become domestically, had appeared for the Christian right until the attacks of September 11th. Now there is Islam. But Al Queda is no more synonymous with Islam anymore than the "Reverend" Fred Phelps of Godhatesfags is with Christianity.

I will make a post on this topic soon.
posted by y2karl at 2:32 PM on November 30, 2002


...But one thing that concerned me before September 11th and concerns me even more now is his administration’s constant promotion of Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance just like Judaism or Christianity. It is neither.”

I hate the "us against them" mentality! It ends up being a PR game on who can keep their past hidden while exposing the other's wrongdoings

Taken in isolation, Judaism and Christianity are both peace-loving in their teachings, though I wouldn't say tolerant. Just as Islam (as I studied it) teaches peace, though I found it taught much more tolerance than either of the other two(which I've been involved in also). Traditionally they have all been some of the more violent factors in history.

The difference between then and now is that in our current world Judaism and Christianity operate through "secular" governments. Essentially proxies for their violence. They appear clean but have much to do with the motivations of the government(s) where they hold influence. It's often the opposite with Islam. Many religious nations use radical factions of Islam as their proxy and Islam as a whole can therefore be demonized as a violent belief system by the "good" religions.
posted by a_green_man at 2:45 PM on November 30, 2002


The same story can be found here, with the hilarious quote:
Calling Islam a peaceful religion "is an increasingly hard argument to make," said Kenneth Adelman, a former Reagan official who serves on the Bush Pentagon's Defense Policy Board. "The more you examine the religion, the more militaristic it seems. After all, its founder, Mohammed, was a warrior, not a peace advocate like Jesus."

So, is anyone else worried that so many influential fundamentalist Christians with a grudge against Islam are working in the Whitehouse and the Pentagon?
posted by ToothpickVic at 2:53 PM on November 30, 2002


An interesting paradox in Islam are congregations that are essentially conservative, led by radical Imams. In Pakistan, there are numerous "Wahabi" sect schools that train radical clergy; otherwise, there is a shortage of Moslem clergy worldwide.
Wahabis are not loved by many of the other sects. Shiites, especially, hate and fear them.
In Pakistan, Wahabis first assassinated Shiite professionals, such as doctors and engineers; then foreigners; then even Wahabis less radical then themselves, who did not support assassination. A murderous lot, indeed.

So here is the paradox: do you attack the whole congregation, that may or may not be radical, or do you kill just their Imam who is trying to agitate them? And by doing so, do you radicalize the whole congregation?

N.B.: Iran is Shiite, very opposed to Wahabism; Saudi Arabia is half dominated by the Wahabi sect. Friends and foes?
posted by kablam at 3:01 PM on November 30, 2002


I find myself torn between disliking in general anything that right-wing conservatives utter and also disliking anything that Bush has to say!

Since when is bush not a right wing conservative?

But seriously, I think one of the main differences between Islam and Christianity is that Islam is the work of one man, while Christianity is the work of many over thousands of years. Many stories in the bible conflict, there's a lot of 'wiggle room'.

I have no doubt that Christianity in general was in a lot of ways as bad as Islam, but it's practitioners were able to wiggle out of that and adapt to our more modern world.

In addition, the separation of church and state in the bible allows for secular states like the US, (and supposedly Nigeria...)

--

Islam on the other hand does not have a separation of church and state, and it doesn’t the kind of wiggle room that the bible leaves.

I also don't buy the argument that the Al Quada only represents the extremists, the equivalent of abortion clinic bombers.

Al Quada is much, much larger and better organized then the violent anti-abortionists, for one, and for another they seem to enjoy support from large percentages of Muslims in the mid-east and near asia.

The real litmus for me is the legal systems in democracies like Iran and Pakistan. They may not be as democratic as the US, but certainly the laws represent the will of the people, and those laws stipulate the murder of people for 'harracy'. Dis Muhammad, get your head cut off. That's simply wrong, yet some of the largest Islamic countries have laws like that, despite being nominally democratic.
posted by delmoi at 3:03 PM on November 30, 2002


do you attack the whole congregation, that may or may not be radical, or do you kill just their Imam who is trying to agitate them?

Uh... If it's just speech, you let the Imams speak, since freedom of speech is a fundamental human right (even if the speaker isn't American, believe it or not). If you can prove that the Imam's speech has led directly to violence, you prosecute him for incitement of violence or conspiracy to commit whatever crime to which his speech has contributed. Parishioners who knowingly contributed to acts of violence (by, for example, making financial contributions) can also be prosecuted under conspiracy laws. You can't just go around killing people.

I think one of the main differences between Islam and Christianity is that Islam is the work of one man, while Christianity is the work of many over thousands of years.

Oh yeah, Islam hasn't evolved at all over the past 1200 years, and there have been no influential Islamic thinkers since Mohammed. Every Moslem is an exact intellectual clone of the Prophet, and they operate robotically under the clear and indisputable constraints set forth in the Koran.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:16 PM on November 30, 2002


Wrong: This is simple minded and ignorant bullshit

lovely. so much for open minded discussion in the presence of liberals obsessed with (ahem) other issues.
posted by paleocon at 3:19 PM on November 30, 2002


“The enemy has an ideology, and an hour spent surfing the Web will give the average citizen at least the kind of insights that he or she might have found during World Wars II and III by reading ‘Mein Kampf’ or the writings of Lenin, Stalin or Mao.”

In the same sense that godhatesfags.com and "The Nuremberg Files" represent mainstream Christian thought, I suppose. But since these guys are planning ahead enough to know what caused World War III, who am I to question?
posted by swell at 3:24 PM on November 30, 2002


In reference to the comment about Christianity and Homosexuality, I don't think it's fair to blame just them. Read and compare (there isn't much difference):
Islam, Christianity, Judiaism The Church of Scientology (I know it's not a big 3..)
I'd submit that in general most organized religons are anti-homosexual.
posted by abez at 3:33 PM on November 30, 2002


I'm reminded of this more thoughtful article from a year ago: Islam: Religion of the sword?

And on Saudi Wahhabism, there's this new report from the Saudi Institute and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies: Saudis Spread Hate Speech in U.S.
posted by homunculus at 3:34 PM on November 30, 2002


so much for open minded discussion in the presence of liberals obsessed with (ahem) other issues.

Interested that you don't seem (ahem) interested in open-mindedly discussing more detailed refutations of your assertions.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:47 PM on November 30, 2002


well, that first "interested" should be an "interesting". pretty interesting, no?
posted by mr_roboto at 3:55 PM on November 30, 2002


so much for open minded discussion?

FOTFL, considering the freepfreepfreepfreep source.

Attacks on a religion aside, there can be blame laid on the intelligensia and what middle classes there are in the Muslim world, as Salman Rushdie has noted. I would submit, though, that while the question he asks--where is the voice of moderate Islam?--is a valid one, the silence is due in part to fear of the same terrorists. That, and, the fact that our do nothing policy with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict isn't exactly encouraging anyone in the Islamic world to speak up. Just simply stating the obvious--the settlements have to go--would go such a long ways.
posted by y2karl at 4:01 PM on November 30, 2002


mr_roboto, sorry to not have replied specifically. I just didn't find anything malevolent in the quotes you provided.

The first implied God's anger at judgement day. The second spoke of how Jesus' teachings would divide people. That's relatively harmless stuff compared to endorsing murder, enslavement and taxes upon non-believers.
posted by paleocon at 4:28 PM on November 30, 2002


Another member of the Pentagon advisory board, Eliot Cohen of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, wrote an article on the Wall Street Journal editorial page arguing that the enemy of the United States enemy is not terrorism “but militant Islam.” “The enemy has an ideology, and an hour spent surfing the Web will give the average citizen at least the kind of insights that he or she might have found during World Wars II and III by reading ‘Mein Kampf’ or the writings of Lenin, Stalin or Mao.”

Um. If this is what passes for 'advanced' international studies, and this doofus somehow got a seat on the Pentagon's advisory board, we're all in a lot of trouble.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:32 PM on November 30, 2002


I think from what I know of Islam (having read a great deal of the Koran in translation, as well as looked into this sort of thing), it's not intrinsically any more violent than Christianity or Judaism. The problems with Islam tend to be rooted more in the historical facts of the matter than the theological ones, just as the current attitude of Christianity is due more to things like the Thirty Years War and the Enlightenment than intrinsically pacific messages in it.

Public education in the West is overwhelmingly a secular affair. I've seen home-schooling derided as being the domain of religious nuts in the popular press (I personally disagree, but that's another argument), and private religious academies accused of literally indoctrinating people in the faith and doing precious little else to stimulate their minds. If, for the sake of the argument, we accept this critique as being true to some extent, then it becomes apparent where many of the problems arise in Islamic society. Many Islamic countries are dirt poor and cannot fund public education to any significant degree, nor do they in many cases want a particularly well-educated populace (for fear of another Iranian revolution).

What happens is that the Saudi government and local private charities set up masdrassahs, which are religious/parochial schools. These schools are very much in line with the critique offered above, of doing little beyond indoctrinating those attending them. Having read documents from these schools in translation, I can verify that the curriculum is anti-Jew, anti-Zionist, anti-American and can be broadly construed as encouraging a violent rejection of the core values of the post-Enlightenment West. The children who attend are taught basic literacy and mathematical skills at least, but even here, the materials they learn on are intended to inculcate correct beliefs.

Unfortunately, because these masdrassahs are funded by the Saudi government, they put forth a "Wahabi" point of view more than any other. This link explains the historical ties between Wahabism and Saudi Arabia. These masdrassahs form the core of education in the Muslim world for the vast majority of the populace, and if they fail to produce terrorists, they at least predispose the populace of these nations towards attitudes which encourage terrorism against the West and Israel.

This is not to suggest that the Muslim population of the world is a set of fanatical robots marching in lockstep by any means. But, simply put, the abhorrence for acts of terrorism in the name of religion that exists in the West does not exist in the Muslim world, even when those acts of terrorism hurt other Muslims.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 4:48 PM on November 30, 2002


since what it does (or has done) differs often from what it's stated position is.

Ain't hypocrisy beautiful?
posted by rushmc at 4:51 PM on November 30, 2002


Video lectures of Ramadan around the world
This year, it's a Ramadan Thanksgiving
Body and Soul reflects on Islam - (Scroll up)
The emergence of moderate Muslim webloggers
How an atheist helps protect Islamists in Turkey
A Memo to American Muslims
"It is time the leaders of the American Muslim community woke up and realized that there is more to life than competing with the American Jewish lobby for power over U.S. foreign policy. Islam is not about defeating Jews or conquering Jerusalem. It is about mercy, about virtue, about sacrifice and about duty. Above all it is the pursuit of moral perfection ... I hope that we will now rededicate our lives and our institutions to the search for harmony, peace and tolerance. Let us be prepared to suffer injustice rather than commit injustices. After all, it is we who carry the divine burden of Islam and not others. We have to be morally better, more forgiving, more sacrificing than others, if we wish to convince the world about the truth of our message. We cannot simply be equal to others in virtue, we must excel. "
posted by sheauga at 7:02 PM on November 30, 2002


In this article I find myself torn between disliking in general anything that right-wing conservatives utter and also disliking anything that Bush has to say! My shortcoming, no doubt.

No ... a shortcoming would be not being able to separate the man/woman from the message.

In this instance, I think Bush is simply acting - correctly -presidential. It has nothing to do with whether Islam is or is not a peaceful religion, it has to do with understanding that one of leadership's responsibilities is to understand when there is large public emotion being released, and understand it has to go somewhere. After the attacks, and with very little really known about Islam on the part of the general population, there was rage. There was a rise in attacks on Muslims in America.

As President, Bush was absolutely right to (attempt) to make sure American rage was not simply pointed inward, at our Muslim neighbors. This has nothing to do with Republican or Democrat. While I do not personally care for Al Gore, I certainly hope he would have come out with the same general sort of statements that Bush did (and, in fact, believe he would have). The Taliban and al Qaeda definitely were legitimate targets at which to point American rage ... but the average American Muslim is not. In fact most Muslims in America do live as peacefully as anyone else in our society.

Bush wasn't making an intellectual statement about the nature of Islam, he was trying to govern - and I really hope any President in office would have done likewise. 2002 could have turned into an ugly scene of Mosques being torched and Muslims turned into outsiders ... but because of Bush (as well as, I might add, efforts made by many local community leaders and some Christian churches), this has been largely absent.
posted by MidasMulligan at 7:37 PM on November 30, 2002


Okay, after reading the article and reading several of the posts, I think some points need to be added:

First, I'm a college student taking a course in early Islamic civilization. Its quite interesting and I recommend that everyone should take a course dealing with Islam.

Second: In Islamic society, the ideal of a secular state never really came into being. The state and religion are tied hand in hand. An example of this is the early Caliphs, etc, that ruled as religious leaders and emperors of the Islamic empire.

Third: Islam, like Christianity and Judaism, has many different sects. For every catholic, baptist, protestant, there are sunni's, shiities, and sufi's. Sunni theology is considered to be the more orthodox, more mainstream while Shiite is different. In the Shiite belief structure, there are many more divisions. Saying that one view represents all of Islamic though is saying that the theology of the Shakers represent all of Christain thought.

Fourth: The conservatives and everyone else who says negative things are usually reading the Qur'an looking for specific verses that would be deemed negative towards Islam. This reminds me of how in the pre-civil war America, how people would use specific verses in the Bible to justify slavery.

Fifth: In Islam, the basis of Muhammad's revelations revolves around the idea that the Jews and Christians failed to maintain the correct word of God. The Qur'an and Bible, over time, were written wrong and the beliefs of the Jews and Christians are thus inferior to Islam. But Jews and Christians are following a version of the Word of God so they are allowed certain protections in the Islamic community. Thus, when the Christians of Europe in the Dark and Mediveal ages were busy waging genocide on the Jews, Islamic nations (with a few exceptions) did not have this type of religious genocide. Islam was more tolerate in the past and the Christians and Jewish tolerance has only been developed in the past hundred years or so.

Sixth: On a similiar note to the last post, because Islam says that the teachings of Judaism and Christainity are flawed because they changed over time, Islam has a strick policy of keeping the religion and the society the same. While this view might be conservative to some, it makes sense considering my pervious statement.

If I'm wrong about any of the above post, let me know.
posted by Stynxno at 8:29 PM on November 30, 2002


> Fifth: In Islam, the basis of Muhammad's revelations revolves around the idea that the Jews and Christians failed to maintain the correct word of God.

Supposedly they didn't keep the quaran the same over time. Supposedly they changed the punctation and brought in new punctation thus changing the quaran. For instance the "virgins in heaven" phrase which the suicide bombers love so much without the new puncation becomes "white raisins of clarity" (not an exact quote but very similar).

> Fourth: The conservatives and everyone else who says negative things are usually reading the Qur'an looking for specific verses that would be deemed negative towards Islam. This reminds me of how in the pre-civil war America, how people would use specific verses in the Bible to justify slavery.

Both the Quaran and the bible say those things! It is very valid to point out negative aspects of anything if you wish to criticize it.
posted by abez at 8:57 PM on November 30, 2002


Well spoken, Midas.

And, yes, Gore, would have done the same--and more. He's actually kinda cuddly and funny if you relax and give him a chance, despite the propaganda.
posted by y2karl at 9:28 PM on November 30, 2002


Thus, when the Christians of Europe in the Dark and Mediveal ages were busy waging genocide on the Jews, Islamic nations (with a few exceptions) did not have this type of religious genocide.

I must unfortunately take issue with this statement, as a matter of emphasis, more than its factuality. Those 'few exceptions' were unfortunately, quite bloody and similar in scale and scope to the various European efforts. Luckily (sort of), these efforts were mostly towards the beginning of Islamic civilisation rather than its full flowering, and thus weren't quite as systematic as they might've been had they occurred later. As well, it wasn't quite as one-sided as it was in Europe - many of the Jews in the area fought back, and in fact, fought Mohammed to a standstill on at least one occasion that comes to mind. Most of these were battles and purges were in fact, done during the life of Mohammed, as he fought various local tribes.

Nonetheless, to portray Islam, especially during its early crusading phase, as being particularly peace loving and tolerant isn't quite true. Tolerance came several centuries later, once the Caliphates were established enough that Christians and Jews in the area weren't a threat.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 9:38 PM on November 30, 2002


And, yes, Gore, would have done the same--and more. He's actually kinda cuddly and funny if you relax and give him a chance, despite the propaganda.

Actually, I'm still sorta torn about 9/11. On the one hand, I damn near had my ass blown to kingdom come, lost several people that were quite close, and take the event very personally. On the other, I've done a lot of business in the Middle East, and have a number of very good friends that are Muslims.

The only conclusion I've been able to come to is this: The most dangerous people on earth are those that identify first with some group (be it the Nazi or neo-Nazi party, or the Muslim, Hindu, or Christian religion, etc., etc.), and only secondarily with their own humanity.

I'm not blindly patriotic, but I do love America - because while it's messy and imperfect in practice, the ideals behind are some of the clearest statements of (what I believe really are) universal "self-evident" truths. The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I have to admit that after 9/11, I felt a level of rage that I've never experienced before, and may never experience again. I witnessed a body hit the ground - after a 100 story fall - a very few feet from me, and I still dream about it.

But I think I would have been more horrified if I had seen Mosques starting to burn, and all Muslims in general ostracized by our society ... because, as cynical as the phrase has become, that would have meant that "the terrorists had won".

I am certain that focusing on the religion itself, at the conceptual or theoretical level, is not the key to understanding what happened, or how to prevent it from happening again. "Islam" is not peace-loving, or non-peace-loving. People are.
posted by MidasMulligan at 10:03 PM on November 30, 2002


Nonetheless, to portray Islam, especially during its early crusading phase, as being particularly peace loving and tolerant isn't quite true.

When the Crusaders first conquered Jerusalem in the First Crusade, they put the entire population, 70,000, to the sword--men, women and children, Muslim and Jew. Knights on horse were spattered by the blood in which men at arms waded ankle deep. This is not forgotten in the Islamic world, believe me.
posted by y2karl at 10:18 PM on November 30, 2002


"Islam" is not peace-loving, or non-peace-loving. People are.

Best comment of the day. People are not infinitely malleable clay, and no system, however benevolent or corrupt, can transform someone into something that they did not carry the seeds for to begin with (similar to the longstanding claims that you can't be hypnotized into doing something like murdering someone if it's against your nature).
posted by rushmc at 8:36 AM on December 1, 2002


So, is anyone else worried that so many influential fundamentalist Christians with a grudge against Islam are working in the Whitehouse and the Pentagon?

In a word: no.

Your entire assumption that the US government is run by "influential fundamentalist Christians" is foolish, misinformed at best. First, literally hundreds of thousands of people run US Federal Government. Are we forgetting the non-political underlings that make up the AG's office, Department of Justice, Department of Defense, FBI, CIA, NSA, etc.? I highly doubt a few "influential fundamentalist Christians" can move bully the whole entrenched structure of the Federal Government. Anyone who has work in government or has dealt with government agencies knows it’s the people on the street that runs the show, not by figurehead politicians.

Even if your assumption is right (that the whole US Federal Government is run by religious nuts), there are four reasons why are I am not too worried.

1) The top Executive official (i.e. G.W. Bush) asserts that he does not believe that Islam is "evil." (This is one of the few Bush policy statements I agree with.) Given this, it would look odd and put Bush in a politically awkward place at change his rhetoric to this point.

2) The Federal Judiciary can exercise constitutional controls to strick down laws reflect an Islam is "evil" policy (given that the court's willingness to already review facially neutral laws that have been passed under the "Islam is not evil" policy, it makes it that much more likely that Federal Judges will hostile to laws enacted "Islam is evil" policy) I admit that only time will tell with this argument.

3) The religious nuts will have to convince Congress and get passed filibustering and other evasion tactics by Democrats.

4) Even if argument #1 fails, it would be to hard to convince the American people that Islam is "evil" when Bush (among others) have drilled into them "Islam is not evil." It would also make Bush look duplicitous and undermine his credulity, thus undermine his moral right pursue terrorism. (i.e. it’s ok go after the people who threaten use, but it’s not ok to attack people based on race)

Let's not over estimate the power of the far right or the ability of the executive branch to do what ever it wants.

We should be vigilant against the far right, not fooled by a single official’s quote.
posted by Bag Man at 4:08 PM on December 1, 2002


I think the article is slightly flawed because it doesn't distinquish between the West's idea of peace and Islam's vision. This piece discusses the difference.

The above link discusses current sentiment however, not some unchanging, monolithic law. There is always the possibility of interpretations changing in Islam, just as they have changed in Christianity over the years. Wahhabiism, that epitome of all that the West fears in Islam, proves this being as it is a product of the eighteenth century.

Important as the interpretation is for revealing current thinking, of greater interest for those wishing to halt extreme Islam is the study of those pressures that caused such exegesis. Yes, apologies to all the Mark Steyn fans I think America's handling of the Palestine/Israel issue and the subsidising of a host of obnoxious Arab states against the wishes of the populace has some responsibility. The challenge is to create the circumstances for moderate Islam to emerge. This isn't 'surrender to terrorism' - I believe that such a policy should go hand in hand with rooting out those irredeemable terrorists willing to kill civilians. No, it's facing up to reality.
posted by pots at 4:48 AM on December 2, 2002


Midas - (too late on this thread, doubt you'll read this, but...) "Actually, I'm still sorta torn about 9/11....The only conclusion I've been able to come to is this: The most dangerous people on earth are those that identify first with some group (be it the Nazi or neo-Nazi party, or the Muslim, Hindu, or Christian religion, etc., etc.), and only secondarily with their own humanity." I would also add "and people who identify so strongly with an ideology that they will do anything in it's service." - You know, there is a very old Chinese saying regarding ideologues. It goes something like
this: "Ideologues are like dangerous wild animals. They should be put in cages." I wish I could find the exact (translated, this is) quote. In determining ideological madness, I always look to the acts themselves.

posted by troutfishing at 5:36 AM on December 2, 2002


The way members of a religion behave tends to be entirely different from the theology. For example some of the wealthiest people in the West tend to be Christians yet don't seem troubled about that whole "eye of a needle" thing.

Similarly some of the most powerful people in the world are Christians yet many are quite happy to ignore problems in the rest of the world as long as it suits them.

Of course none of this means that all Christians are hypocrites or even bad people. I suppose it's just that when it comes down to the crunch people really don't give a shit what that dusty old book on the shelf tells them to do, they'll do whatever they please and worry about their salvation later.

Except for the extremists - they make good copy and will always be guaranteed air time. Somehow I don't think a muslim asking "Why can't we all just get along?" will get precedence in the news over the sabre rattlers. Similarly you won't see a Christian on the news saying "I'm against abortion but isn't killing people over it kind of stupid?"
posted by dodgygeezer at 6:26 AM on December 2, 2002


when it comes down to the crunch people really don't give a shit what that dusty old book on the shelf tells them to do, they'll do whatever they please and worry about their salvation later.

Um, that would be hypocrisy by virtually any measure.
posted by rushmc at 9:47 AM on December 2, 2002


When the Crusaders first conquered Jerusalem in the First Crusade, they put the entire population, 70,000, to the sword--men, women and children, Muslim and Jew.

I agree. And Mohammed put several fairly large Jewish tribes to the sword in his day, as a matter of the historical record. And the Jews in their hey-day proudly recorded raping and killing the populations of many a Canaanite city. My point was that Muslims neither stand out as being particularly bloody, nor as being particularly peaceful in the historical record. The positions that Islam is a pacific religion and that Islam is intrinsically bloody-hungry for a religion are equally false when evaluated on the facts of the matter.

pots> While I agree with the point you are making in regards to those Arab states, technically, Mark Steyn advocates non-cooperation with the Saudi and other Arab dictatorships. I recommend reading his most recent column in the Spectator, where he takes the US to task for ignoring the Saudi government's involvement in Islamic fundamentalism and related terrorism.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 10:32 AM on December 2, 2002


Whatever the reality of Islam, does it really matter? Is there anything which cannot be accomplished in the war against terrorism by assuming that the wackos are perverting a peaceful religion and going after them? If it turns out that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful, great: they'll be happy we're disposing of the Islamofascists, too. And if it turns out a majority want to destroy America, we'll discover that, and kill them first. If this sounds cold, complain to your local Imam (for having lousy PR)l; not me.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:43 AM on December 2, 2002


re: Christianity and homosexuality. For the sake of clarification, anti-gay sentiments have nothing to do with Christianity. Jesus never said a word about it, and one assumes that he was the expert on his own faith. Quite the contrary, Jesus' message was to love everyone equally and let God worry about who sinned where and when. For every godhatesfags.com, there are plenty of earnest, well-meaning Christians who are gay-friendly or gay themselves. They just don't go around putting up websites about how not prejudiced they are.

I'm just sayin'.
posted by vraxoin at 10:52 AM on December 2, 2002


Um, that would be hypocrisy by virtually any measure

Well there's two sides to Christianity - the Bible and the folk who run the church. The people who run the church are quite happy to tell their powerful and wealthy benefactors that what they do is right. So by that measure they're not hypocrites.

Still, you'd hope they'd be sufficiently self aware to realize they're only fooling themselves.

Whatever the reality of Islam, does it really matter?

I kind of agree with what you're saying however I think it does matter. When people who are in power come out with this atrocious nonsense you really have to wonder how many cocks they sucked to get where they are - because they didn't get where they are by using their brains.

I'm going to make an over simplistic point here (I'm tired so I apologise in advance). Virtually all the shitty things that happen in the world are because one collection of individuals are seen to be dangerous by another group. Extremist muslims versus Americans, the IRA versus the British, Israelis versus Muslims, (insert applicable group here) versus Jews. Pick your favorite groups too.

Until these people are seen as autonomous human beings with free will and not robot armies out to destroy us all we're doomed to making the same mistakes. 9/11 was caused by the humans who did it and planned it, but those people would probably have been terrorists if they had been Christians, Muslims, Moonies or just disenfranchised Americans.
posted by dodgygeezer at 3:20 PM on December 2, 2002


The people who run the church are quite happy to tell their powerful and wealthy benefactors that what they do is right. So by that measure they're not hypocrites.

I'm not sure who you mean by "they"--those who run the church or their benefactors--but either way, I just don't see how you can support your claim. Those who run the church claim that they follow the principles and ethics found in the Bible; when they deviate from this, they become hypocrites--worse, they then go on to preach what they do not themselves practice and so become hypocrites not merely once but twice over. The benefactors would only get off the hook if they claimed the leaders of their church as their ultimate religious authority; most would again defer to the Bible instead and so are tripped up in the same way--further, they do not hold these leaders to the Biblical standards they claim to follow and insist that they meet and preach them, so they, too, are doubly damned as hypocrites.
posted by rushmc at 7:39 PM on December 2, 2002


Rushmc - to be honest my main point still stands wether you personally consider them hypocrites or not - that people more or less do what they want and then fit they're religion around it. Wether they're hypocrites or not is down to your own judgement.

I say, and I may be overly charitable here, that they are members of an organization that endorses their gross accumulation of wealth and abuse of power. The organization (the church) interprets the book and that is the basis of the religion.

For example, the Bible is used as the central plank in (I think) all Christian religions - the only real difference between them is the organization and their interpretation of the Bible. Not all Christians behave like Fundamentalists, not all Christians hang on every word the Pope says, not all Christians believe that homosexuals should burn in hell. And just have a look at Northern Ireland if you want a good laugh: same book, same God, same prophet and they keep trying to fucking murder each other.*

None of these organizations claim to be the ultimate religious authority as such, but the Pope does have the power to say that God disapproves of condoms today, but tomorrow could change his mind and all the Roman Catholics can get shag-happy.

Anyway, in summary your view is logically correct but if you look around you can see that that isn't how it works. Stupidity always finds a way.

*yeah, I know it's a gross simplification
posted by dodgygeezer at 5:32 AM on December 3, 2002


Stupidity always finds a way.

And I shall continue to object to it wherever I happen to spot it. :)
posted by rushmc at 6:26 PM on December 3, 2002


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