Understanding Islamism: Still Unavailalble In Wishful Thinking Sound Bite Spin Formula
March 11, 2005 1:41 PM   Subscribe

Well, for a fact or two, The Beirut Wall Isn't Falling, Lebanon is not Ukraine and it is not democracy that's on the march in the Middle East. And while remembering all those arguments made 1,500 deaths ago--not to mention those so far uncounted but estimated at 100,000+ civilian deaths--let it be, all the while the Iraq War compels Pentagon to rethink Big-Picture Strategy, it is that American military intevention which makes America as a Revolutionary Force in the Middle East, according to some. Meanwhile, Kishore Mahbubani, author of Beyond the Age of Innocence: Rebuilding Trust between America and the World lists Five Strategic Mistakes the West has made which continue to destabilize the Islamic world. Along related lines, comes The Origins of al Qaeda’s Ideology: Implications for US Strategy. Sound bites, wishful thoughts and stage managed demonstrations aside, could it be something more thoughtful might be required? Say, like, Understanding Islamism ? (Now available in new slow acting convenient Word or pdf form) Say, Which War Is This Anyway ?
posted by y2karl (54 comments total)

 
I don't care.
posted by kjh at 1:55 PM on March 11, 2005


kjh, thank you.
posted by Stynxno at 1:59 PM on March 11, 2005


y2karl, what I think you are looking for is over here....
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:02 PM on March 11, 2005


Wow...Some people find only one or two things that are the best of the web in a year or so. y2karl found thirteen best of the web sites since yesterday!! So many excellent links that he can't even keep them in separate posts, they just gather together like Cheerios in a bowl of milk!!

/sarcasm
posted by Bugbread at 2:05 PM on March 11, 2005


Even if you had lived in Beirut for a year and a half (that'd be my brother), people there would tell you that you don't really understand what's going on with Syria.

I just don't have time to read all this right now. Sorry, y2karl.
posted by attackthetaxi at 2:07 PM on March 11, 2005


That's the S@L I love. Raising the quality of the discourse wherever he goes...
posted by felix betachat at 2:08 PM on March 11, 2005


He could probably quote it for you, if that saves time
posted by Bugbread at 2:08 PM on March 11, 2005


Lord forbid anyone should make an effort to understand the Middle East!

Anything which takes more than three minutes of television to grok isn't worth grokking. Right? Huh?
posted by tripitaka at 2:12 PM on March 11, 2005


y2karl, the first link actually prints the article... In case you wanted to fix it you can use this URL.
posted by krash2fast at 2:18 PM on March 11, 2005


Everyone got it all out of their systems? Excellent.

There *is* quite a bit to comment on here. I'll restrict myself to saying I applaud any pressure on the powers that be to count Iraqi casualties, even as I continue to doubt the once-guessed-oft-repeated 100,000 number.
posted by hackly_fracture at 2:21 PM on March 11, 2005


From Mahbubani:

"The second strategic mistake, which flowed from the first, was a policy — never articulated, perhaps never conscious, but nevertheless very real — not to share the successful policies of modernization with the Islamic world.

The United States had a Marshall Plan to develop Europe after World War II — even a plan to develop Japan. "


Last I checked, Saudi Arabia wasn't a major theatre of operations (or member of the Axis that got the bejesus blown out of them in WWII.)

I'm reading this as, "you damn Westerners better kick down or we're going to be really, really mean."

Mmm, no personal responsibility.

Yes, the US clearly has screwed the pooch in the past in terms of promoting democracy (hello, Southeast Asia.) Who's to say that we would have done any better by funneling money into the region back in the 40s?

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
posted by fet at 2:33 PM on March 11, 2005


y2karl finally does something right -- and takes shit for it. ¡Que rico é!
posted by davy at 2:34 PM on March 11, 2005


tripitaka, it's not as if I have no desire to understand the whole back story regarding Lebanon/Syria/Hezbollah and Israel. But there's middle ground between 3 minutes of television, and...the firehose approach.
posted by attackthetaxi at 2:37 PM on March 11, 2005


The most interesting link, if you have time to read just one today, is the LA Times story about the Pentagon having to rethink their strategy. I always find articles like that interesting not only for the comment, but the fact that they are written and published at all. Obviously someone inside the Pentagon is trying to send a message. But to whom?
posted by chaz at 3:01 PM on March 11, 2005


I'm tired of all this Bush bashing. I don't have time to read things I don't agree with. Why do you hate America....etc.

I will comment though that the U.S. has a long history of misunderestimating Islam.
Bush the Greater (as opposed to the current Bush the Lesser) when he was in office was challenged by someone named John Kerry over some weapons shipped somewhere - or something. Actually it was Regan. Bush was out of the loop. Yeah. (Although he later pardoned all those involved and Regan said he didn't know anything about it even though Poindexter...yadda yadda yadda).

Anyway during this thing that never happened (on Sunday, 25 May 1986 at Mehrabad Airport in Tehran), Oillie North and Bud McFarlane landed to cut a deal - real low profile like - in a real inconspicuous all-black Boeing 707 supplied by ISRAEL and parked it for an inconspicuous hour and a half in the middle of the airport in the mid-day desert sun.

For some reason no one would come and do business with them.
Apart from the fact there was political in-fighting over policy in the war with Iraq and in the economy - it was Ramadan. Fortunately our boys brought with them a peace offering: a chocolate cake (again - Ramadan) in the shape of a key.
Did I mention the cake was kosher?
Or that they had only 1/4 of the missles agreed on when the Iranians had expected half?
Or that the Hawk missles North had arranged to be delivered had the Star of David on them?

This is part of our history in our involvement in the Middle East. It doesn't look like some peoples understanding has gotten any better.

'Evil' I can stand, 'stupid' will probably wind up killing us all.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:05 PM on March 11, 2005


hey y2 and smedleyman ... check this out: http://www.islamicamagazine.com/ they dont offer online contents unfortunately... if you can find a copy - an excellent read on things from an islamic perspective - a very well informed and balanced islamic perspective. perhaps some of the yahoos from the right would be well served to spend some time learning about the islamic society and thought as well.
posted by specialk420 at 3:08 PM on March 11, 2005


Obviously someone inside the Pentagon is trying to send a message. But to whom?

Chaz, it's kind of like if your boss tells you you have to write a report. Then says "Use only your left hand." And later says "And put a tomato on your head" or some such surreal thing, and yet expects the work to be of the same quality and as timely as your previous work.
You casually mention to your collegues that those strictures are really messing up your writing and timelines, etc.
Eventually this gets back to your boss.

The guys doing the work typically don't let political considerations get in the way of the job. The Soviet style military was assed up because they had political officers making sure combat decisions were politicially in line with Moscow.
Same deal, except we've got the free speech.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:12 PM on March 11, 2005


That's interesting, fet. On the one hand, the whole "Americans and Europeans left us backwards on purpose" thing sounds totally absurd. But then, if that's what lots of people think & thinking that makes it easier for the few wackos who want to see us dead, then it might be worth understanding, absurd as it is. I mean, where does that come from?

Also, can everyone please lay off y2karl? This post is perfectly fine and if there were another name at the bottom, you wouldn't feel the urge. So go bitch in MetaTalk (again) or else leave it to the people who may want to discuss the post.
posted by dame at 3:13 PM on March 11, 2005


The CJR has an interesting note on the on-again off-again "Cedar Revolution".
posted by atchafalaya at 3:24 PM on March 11, 2005


...Osama Siblani: I came here in 1976. Actually I was there about a couple of weeks ago. When Hariri was assassinated, I was like about 300 meters away from him.

Amy Goodman: What did you do then? What happened? You heard the explosion?

OSAMA SIBLANI: Oh yeah. Not I heard the explosion -- actually, we had glass where I was. You know, the whole glass just shattered all over the people who were sitting, and I was away from the windows, you know. My chair just jumped like a couple feet. And I saw him just maybe 10-15 minutes earlier. I was supposed to meet with him the next day. Yes, I was in Lebanon. And, you know, Amy, I just rest my case. I think the professor made a very good presentation reflective of the situation in Lebanon and in the Arab world. Yes, he is right that Lebanese have had elections since 1948 and the 1950s, and every your years they had them. After the civil war in 1992, and then in 1996 and then in 2000, and now they're having them again. It's a parliamentary election, and it's not, you know, democratic 100%, but it's much better than what happened in Iraq, for example. Also, in Palestine, you know, that Mr. Bush is trying to claim credit for the election. There was an election in Palestine, in the occupied territory seven years ago. They elected the council of Palestine, the National Council, and also they elected a president at that time, who was Yasser Arafat. So, nothing really new is happening in the Middle East that the Bush administration could take credit for. And I think the situation in Iraq, the election in Iraq, was something made for television for an American audience, so Mr. Bush can claim credit for something that he really does not deserve. Yes, you can't fight, you know, back and say, you know, what is happening in Iraq is not a step forward in democracy. It's much better, you know, to have people have the right to vote under these circumstances, rather than having a dictatorship run by a brutal dictator like Saddam Hussein, but again, the situation in Iraq is not about democracy...


Juan Cole and Osama Siblani on Middle East Politics, U.S. Media Coverage of the Region, and the Arab American Landscape
posted by y2karl at 3:40 PM on March 11, 2005


Those were not very good links. And very superficial and cliche. To many "a pentagon official said" but never naming them, etc.

The second strategic mistake, which flowed from the first, was a policy — never articulated, perhaps never conscious, but nevertheless very real — not to share the successful policies of modernization with the Islamic world.

Riiiiiight. It's up to us to share. They'd do the same for us.

If only we'd given the Suad's a new puppy none of this would of ever happened.
posted by tkchrist at 4:01 PM on March 11, 2005


y2karl's protracted link flood tactics have overwhelmed Mozilla's Tabbed Browsing defenses. My "10 cups of coffee-30 open tabs-30 minutes per link" strategy is largely outdated. I need 4-dimensional flowchart browsing, an uninterrupted supply of Red Bull, and 3000 protracted low-intensity reading days just to keep up. I'll be right back in June, 2013 with an appropriate comment.
posted by techgnollogic at 4:21 PM on March 11, 2005


The major reasons behind the U.S. invasion of Iraq derived from Saddam's regime being a liability to U.S. and Western interests, in addition to the neoconservative vision of Iraq as an opportunity to foster long-term internal stability in Iraq and the region as a whole, to expand oil and gas exploration projects that would benefit the Iraqi population along with American and multinational energy companies, and the opportunity to turn Iraq into a bridgehead against established foes in the region, primarily Iran and Syria.

Yet, the United States ran into an immediate snag, and that was the development of a local insurgency which has had a strong enough impact to prevent U.S.-led forces from fostering stability. The continued failure to quell the insurgency has unraveled the bulk of the Bush administration's goals and has created problems of its own.

Now, with the conclusion of the January 30 elections, Iran stands to gain as a major winner. If the U.I.A. manages to improve relations with Iran, the United States may see the bulk of its objectives in Iraq go unfulfilled. More significantly, Washington could find itself sitting in a poorer strategic position relative to where it sat when it pursued its policy of containment.


Implications of the Iraqi National Elections Toward U.S. Strategic Interests
posted by y2karl at 4:37 PM on March 11, 2005


y2karl, like Steve_at_Linnwood and techgnollogic, while I regularly spout off about what US foreign policy should be, I'm honestly too lazy to read all your links and actually learn something about the region and its history.

Which is why my foreign policy prescriptions often read like talking points from "Free Republic.com" and end with "USA #1! Kill them all and let God sort them out! Hoo-rah!" (I add the "Hoo-rah" because, even though, like Jonah Goldberg and Dick Cheney, I'd never actaully join the volunteer military, much less the Marines, I nevertheless like to act macho and applaud those poor grunts, who having few other alternatives, join up and kill and die to keep the price I pay at the gas pump conveniently low. Hoo-rah, Marines, and Requiescat in Pace, too!)

Now let me insert a quip about how I'd need to study until 2013 in order to answer the serious issues you raise. Actually, it's not really a quip, it's true, but I'm far too addicted to posturing to spend the requisite time required to actually understand complex foreign policy questions. Ha-ha ha!

And having read on a partisan web site, "Little Green Footballs.com", detailed instructions on how to derail reasoned attempts to debate an issue, I'll use derailment tactic #31 and disparagingly suggest that you take your post to [insert name of left-leaning blog here].

Oh, and why do you libruls always act like we conservative pundits of the web are know-nothing blowhards? It's just not fair to so stereotype us. Oh, and why do you hate America, y2karl?

STFU libruls!
posted by orthogonality at 4:50 PM on March 11, 2005


Shhhh.. You're bursting their bubble giving away all their tricks...
posted by Balisong at 5:16 PM on March 11, 2005


With all this "Misunderstanding Islam" talk, you'd think Islam was a teenage girl into Dashboard Confessional, Sylvia Plath and cutting.

You just don't understand, alright!!
posted by ori at 5:53 PM on March 11, 2005


Oh, ortho! You've shown me the error of my ways! Why offer my own opinions about anything when I could just vomit quoted link dumps all over the front page and have you assume I understand a goddamn thing, just like y2kassandra!
posted by techgnollogic at 6:38 PM on March 11, 2005


like Steve_at_Linnwood and techgnollogic ... I'm honestly too lazy to read all your links and actually learn something about the region and its history.


Speak for yourself and ONLY yourself. You have no idea what I have read, and what I do read. Time has already shown that I have a better grasp of what is going on than our dear y2karl.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 6:40 PM on March 11, 2005


I read y2karl's links, and as dismal a picture as they paint (excepting the feel good notes provided by Mahbubani), what is missing from their generally backward looking perspective is the continuing hubris of the American administration, as expressed repeatedly by appointments of people like Cupcake Condi Rice at State, and Porter Goss at CIA. When political hacks like these are placed in positions where they can substitute their views of policy questions for the much harder work of collecting, analyzing, and presenting policy alternatives and world opinion fairly, if not objectively, the message the Administration sends to the rest of the world is obviously more important to them, than any they are prepared to receive.

Can anyone, anywhere, think Cupcake Condi is going to be readily engaged in policy discussions by anyone in leadership positions in the Middle East? Can she lead a long overdue renewal at State, or stem the loss of career foreign service personnel? At best, she's an academic and a student of foreign policy, with a heavy ideological bent, and no deep network of personal contacts in foreign governments upon which to call in tough times.

Goss is another ideologue, by many accounts, and his effectiveness in the long term will be even harder to judge than Rice's, by nature of the mission of CIA which he seems hell bound to overhaul.

The message of Bush II - The Sequel is clear: not only do W and his minions expect to push their world view on the rest of the world by main force, they intend to dismantle any relationships or institutions which could possibly affect that view for a long time to come.
posted by paulsc at 7:08 PM on March 11, 2005


They found the WMDs in Iraq?
posted by Iax at 7:55 PM on March 11, 2005


as expressed repeatedly by appointments of people like Cupcake Condi Rice at State, and Porter Goss at CIA

Don't forget the appointment of John "Death Squad" Negroponte and John "There is no such thing as the United Nations" Bolton as Ambassador to the UN!

You can't really blame Bush for the political aspects of it. He has never represented anything else than a unilateralist, warmongering, allies-alienating foreign policy. And he's on his second term (thanks, red states!), so he knows it's the end of the line for him. There just can't be a third term, so whatever he wants to do, he has to do now.

The recent appointments aren't a blip on the radar screen. They're merely a preview of things to come. Get ready for more, and worse.
posted by clevershark at 8:29 PM on March 11, 2005


Oops, I should specify that Negroponte was appointed Intelligence Czar.
posted by clevershark at 8:30 PM on March 11, 2005


Steve_at_Linnwood writes "Speak for yourself and ONLY yourself. You have no idea what I have read, and what I do read. Time has already shown that I have a better grasp of what is going on than our dear y2karl."

Ok, Steve, fair enough, I'll take you at your word: Which of y2karl's links did you read?

And which did you read before attempting to derail his argument with sophomoric ridicule by telling him to take it to DailyKos.com?
posted by orthogonality at 8:52 PM on March 11, 2005


"Understanding Islamism"?

The fundamentalist Islamists are fighting to keep half of their population in slavery, the female half. They understand what they will lose if they become part of the modern world.
posted by tgyg at 9:24 PM on March 11, 2005


we do not need to "understand" Islamism. What we do need is more moderate Islamic clerics to issue Fatwahs on Osama Bin laden's head and he must be destroyed like the vermin he is.
posted by zagszman at 9:36 PM on March 11, 2005


Steve_at_Linnwood writes "Time has already shown that I have a better grasp of what is going on than our dear y2karl."

Like your excellent grasp of foreign cultures shown here?

Oh... not so excellent.
posted by orthogonality at 9:43 PM on March 11, 2005


I think we should examine the reason we react the way we do.

Do we need to act out these same old patterns?

Will there ever be any reconciliation, or is it simply belief with no hope for accomodation?

if political views are multi-dimensional, is there a reason we consider particular issues in a linear fashion? orthogonality?

Steve_at_Linnwood? Feel free to to help me out here. I am feeling a little lost. But just keep in mind the first line of what I wrote-perhaps in the context of that, the bitterness can be confronted directly. Why hide behind the issue?
posted by kuatto at 10:01 PM on March 11, 2005


kuatto writes " if political views are multi-dimensional, is there a reason we consider particular issues in a linear fashion? orthogonality?"


I guess I'm just not "expansive" or "multi-dimensional" enough to "reconcile" with or "accommodate" or excuse or rationalize the torture of children.

In a way, though, I suppose there is some common ground: like many social conservatives, I believe that some things are just unequivocally evil.

Unlike many some conservatives however, I don't believe that those things include, nor do I reserve my strongest opprobrium for, gay marriage.

I suppose it amazes me that so many people can stand up, announce that they are devout followers of a man who was tortured to death over the course of three days on a cross, a man who preached in his Sermon on the Mount:
Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Verse 5)
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. (Verse 6)
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Verse 7)
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. (Verse 9)
Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Verse 10)
and then say that because they follow this man, they must condemn gay marriage but have nothing to say -- other than to rationalize it and make excuses -- about the torture of children.

About the torture of children as part of an official policy of the very men -- "let us pray for our President, George" that they open their benedictions with prayer for, every Sunday.

Do you really think your Jesus, who said (Luke 9:48) "Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great", smiles on a nation that makes it its official policy to torture children?

Jesus prophesied that his apostle Peter would, out of cowardice, pretend not to know to Jesus. How do you count yourself a good Christian when. merely for your own convenience, your turn your face from evidence of these tortures and pretend not to see them?

Recall, you Christians who call the prospect of gay marriage the greatest moral crisis this country faces, and who deny the overwhelming evidence that those you voted for made the torture of little children official policy, Matthew chapter 10, verse 33: "But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven."
posted by orthogonality at 10:36 PM on March 11, 2005


An interview with King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein, descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, the fourth ruler of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the great-grandson of his namesake, the kingdom's founder.
posted by semmi at 10:48 PM on March 11, 2005


And having read on a partisan web site, "Little Green Footballs.com", detailed instructions on how to derail reasoned attempts to debate an issue, I'll use derailment tactic #31 and disparagingly suggest that you take your post to [insert name of left-leaning blog here].

Funny the only site I've seen discuss debating tactics is Daily Kos (They have recurring "spin shops"). I don't visit FreeRepublic so they might discuss them there but I certainly haven't seen them discussed on Little Green Footballs. Maybe Conservatives aren't as Machiavellian as you give them credit for.
posted by drscroogemcduck at 11:15 PM on March 11, 2005


we do not need to "understand" Islamism.

From Understanding Islamism's Executive Summary

...Sunni Islamism -- on which most Western emphasis is today placed, and about which most fears are held -- is widely viewed as uniformly fundamentalist, radical, and threatening to Western interests. Yet it is not at all monolithic. On the contrary, it has crystallised into three main distinctive types, each with its own worldview, modus operandi and characteristic actors:

? Political: the Islamic political movements (al-harakât al-islamiyya al-siyassiyya), exemplified by the Society of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt and its offshoots elsewhere (including Algeria, Jordan, Kuwait, Palestine, Sudan and Syria) and by locally rooted movements such as the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi, AKP) in Turkey, and the Party for Justice and Development (Parti pour la Justice et le Développement, PJD) in Morocco, whose purpose is to attain political power at the national level. These now generally accept the nation-state, operate within its constitutional framework, eschew violence (except under conditions of foreign occupation), articulate a reformist rather than revolutionary vision and invoke universal democratic norms. The characteristic actor is the party-political militant.

? Missionary: the Islamic missions of conversion (al-da'wa), which exists in two main variants exemplified by the highly structured Tablighi movement on the one hand and the highly diffuse Salafiyya on the other. In both cases political power is not an objective; the overriding purpose is the preservation of the Muslim identity and the Islamic faith and moral order against the forces of unbelief, and the characteristic actors are missionaries (du'ah), and the 'ulama.

? Jihadi: the Islamic armed struggle (al-jihad), which exists in three main variants: internal (combating nominally Muslim regimes considered impious); irredentist (fighting to redeem land ruled by non-Muslims or under occupation); and global (combating the West). The characteristic actor is, of course, the fighter (al-mujahid).
All these varieties of Sunni activism are attempts to reconcile tradition and modernity, to preserve those aspects of tradition considered to be essential by adapting in various ways to modern conditions; all select from tradition, borrow selectively from the West and adopt aspects of modernity. Where they differ is in how they conceive the principal problem facing the Muslim world, and what they believe is necessary, possible and advisable to do about it.

Political Islamists make an issue of Muslim misgovernment and social injustice and give priority to political reform to be achieved by political action (advocating new policies, contesting elections, etc.). Missionary Islamists make an issue of the corruption of Islamic values (al-qiyam al-islamiyya) and the weakening of faith (al-iman) and give priority to a form of moral and spiritual rearmament that champions individual virtue as the condition of good government as well as of collective salvation. Jihadi Islamists make an issue of the oppressive weight of non-Muslim political and military power in the Islamic world and give priority to armed resistance.

Which of these three main outlooks will prevail in the medium and longer term is of great importance to the Muslim world and to the West. While the West in general and the U.S. in particular ought to be modest about their ability to shape the debate among Islamists, they also should be aware of how their policies affect it. By adopting a sledge-hammer approach which refuses to differentiate between modernist and fundamentalist varieties of Islamism, American and European policy-makers risk provoking one of two equally undesirable outcomes: either inducing the different strands of Islamic activism to band together in reaction, attenuating differences that might otherwise be fruitfully developed, or causing the non-violent and modernist tendencies to be eclipsed by the jihadis.

posted by y2karl at 11:50 PM on March 11, 2005


i heard there was some shit going on in iraq y2karl, keep us informed!!!!!!!
posted by angry modem at 1:28 AM on March 12, 2005


"Understanding Islamism"?

The fundamentalist Islamists are fighting to keep half of their population in slavery, the female half. They understand what they will lose if they become part of the modern world.
posted by tgyg at 5:24 AM GMT on March 12 [!]

we do not need to "understand" Islamism. What we do need is more moderate Islamic clerics to issue Fatwahs on Osama Bin laden's head and he must be destroyed like the vermin he is.
posted by zagszman at 5:36 AM GMT on March 12 [!]


You may not wish to "understand" Islamism, but you could sure do with a basic education on the issue before you pretend to know what you're talking about.
posted by tommyc at 6:31 AM on March 12, 2005


tgyg : " 'Understanding Islamism'?

"The fundamentalist Islamists are fighting to keep half of their population in slavery, the female half."


Ok, so you appear to understand one thing about one type of Islam. What about other aspects of it? What about other types of Islam?
posted by Bugbread at 7:20 AM on March 12, 2005


Orthogonality, I am not trying to imply anything of the sort, I imagine you and Steve-at_linwood,and every other partisan who posts regularly on metafilter are compassionate and generally decent people.

I am not talking about that at all. Yous good peoples.

I am just frustrated that these political arguments, more often then not , degenerate into everyone falling into their defensive postures.

Instead of everyone examining their perspective, it becomes a reflexive and rhetorical battle to the death. Take no prisoners.

I am not trying to point the finger at anyone, I thought your nick fit in well with my point on the linearity of argument style here on metafilter. To paraphrase GW, I appreciate it when anyone takes the argument in a direction orthogonal to the status quo bullshit.

But I still feel that we all fall prey to the same reflexive, kneejerk reaction, that isolates us from achieving any common ground. But maybe common ground is not the point.

All I am saying, is on these threads where it is blantently obvious that everyone's political buttons are being pushed, can we NOT do the obvious thing. Perhaps we could try posting something a little more introspective and less charged. Can we post comments and stories that encourarge careful and resesrved thought?

Steve_at_linwood? Whats your impressions? Frankly, I don't know if anyone cares or not, but I feel the level of antagonism is getting worse everywhere, not just here.
posted by kuatto at 12:43 PM on March 12, 2005


tommyc, bugbread, you miss my point. I am not disrespecting a religion.

We had a bloody and brutal war in the US a little more than a century ago and it had nothing to do with religion.
posted by tgyg at 4:36 PM on March 12, 2005


Right, and we understand that. But does that negate the need to understand Islam?
During the US Civil War, was there not a need to understand the motives and stance of southerners?
I think you're confusing "understanding" with "accepting". One can understand and accept, or not understand and accept, or understand and not accept, or, as most Americans have chosen, neither understand nor accept.
posted by Bugbread at 6:41 PM on March 12, 2005


Thank you kuatto. That was a great post in all seriousness. I can log onto metafilter on a daily basis and pretty well figure out what comments will be posted by exactly which people and where the lines will be drawn. These posts are just drawing a line in the sand: one side versus another, and no one bothers to consider the other side's point of view. This is exactly the problem today: vitriol thrown back and forth with no real point. Do the people who post this stuff expect that THIS post today is all of the sudden going to change people's minds?

Everyone does the obvious thing in these posts. We're not going to see a Bush impeachment, views are not really being considered here. Each person preaches to their side. Can we PLEASE try constructive discussion instead of essentially saying "You don't understand Islam/the Middle East!" "NO! *YOU* don't understand Islam or the Middle East." "Uh huh!" "Nuh uh!"

Can we try to find some new ideas or solutions? (I realize I'm not offering any in this post, other than to agree with kuatto's post..... I'll try to come up with some in the future).
posted by Drylnn at 7:13 PM on March 12, 2005


kuatto writes "Instead of everyone examining their perspective, it becomes a reflexive and rhetorical battle to the death. Take no prisoners."

I understand what you're saying, and I sympathize with your frustration. I honestly do.

But as long as my country is torturing innocents (or anyone, for that matter) and covering it up and rewarding the -- to use a favorite term of the administration's -- evildoers, how am I -- ethically, morally, humanly -- supposed to compromise with it?

As long as there are apologists for torture and people who would sweep reports of torture under the rug with the bland banality of "that's old news, I'm tired of hearing it" commenting here, how can I do anything but attempt to pound the point home?

In all honesty, I ought to end my every comment, no matter what the subject, with the words "Innocents are still being tortured in your name, and facilitators of torture still hold the highest offices in the land".

How an I supposed to reconcile myself to being "sweetly reasonable" about a policy of torture by my government?
posted by orthogonality at 9:27 PM on March 12, 2005


Thank you for continuing with the civil war analogy, bugbread. "Was there not a need to understand the motives and stance of southerners?"

The North and South spent decades "understanding" each other's positions. I think they understood each other very well. It made no difference. Certain cultural institutions (most notably slavery) were, in your words, unacceptable.

No amount of understanding makes unacceptable go away.

My objection is to the notion that if Americans had a better understanding of Muslims that the Middle East problems would solvable. I am suggesting that the fundamentalist Islamists know that some of their cultural practices are unacceptable to the modern world, no amount of understanding will smooth over those differences.
posted by tgyg at 9:45 PM on March 12, 2005


tgyg : " My objection is to the notion that if Americans had a better understanding of Muslims that the Middle East problems would solvable. I am suggesting that the fundamentalist Islamists know that some of their cultural practices are unacceptable to the modern world, no amount of understanding will smooth over those differences."

Ok. That seems like a fair, reasoned response. I wasn't picking up quite what you meant from your initial post. Sorry.
posted by Bugbread at 2:26 AM on March 13, 2005


Thank you, bugbread, my initial post was too brief to convey my point.

By the way, I think torture is also unacceptable to the modern world. I can't believe the American public / press is giving the higher ups a free pass on such barbarism. The US does have problems with its own fundamentalists.
posted by tgyg at 3:29 AM on March 13, 2005


yeah, I blame y2karl for the absence of WMD's, for the tortures at Abu Ghraib, and the current Iraqi civil war. somehow, it's got to be karl's fault.


Time has already shown that I have a better grasp of what is going on than our dear y2karl.

one day I'll be attacked, again, for picking on Stevie. I want to state for the record that I managed not to answer to this... thing. I just let it slide.
posted by matteo at 9:11 AM on March 14, 2005


S@L has a funny habit of disappearing when he realizes he's a fucktard.

Interesting.

Discuss.
posted by bardic at 9:49 AM on March 14, 2005


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