April 3, 2007

When is a Muslim not a “Muslim”?

Speaking of identity politics… Tman sends along a link to former Jemaah Islamiya member Tawfik Hamid’s “The Trouble With Islam,” published in today’s WSJ.  Writes Hamid:

Not many years ago the brilliant Orientalist, Bernard Lewis, published a short history of the Islamic world’s decline, entitled “What Went Wrong?” Astonishingly, there was, among many Western “progressives,” a vocal dislike for the title. It is a false premise, these critics protested. They ignored Mr. Lewis’s implicit statement that things have been, or could be, right.

But indeed, there is much that is clearly wrong with the Islamic world. Women are stoned to death and undergo clitorectomies. Gays hang from the gallows under the approving eyes of the proponents of Shariah, the legal code of Islam. Sunni and Shia massacre each other daily in Iraq. Palestinian mothers teach 3-year-old boys and girls the ideal of martyrdom. One would expect the orthodox Islamic establishment to evade or dismiss these complaints, but less happily, the non-Muslim priests of enlightenment in the West have come, actively and passively, to the Islamists’ defense.

These “progressives” frequently cite the need to examine “root causes.” In this they are correct: Terrorism is only the manifestation of a disease and not the disease itself. But the root-causes are quite different from what they think. As a former member of Jemaah Islamiya, a group led by al Qaeda’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, I know firsthand that the inhumane teaching in Islamist ideology can transform a young, benevolent mind into that of a terrorist. Without confronting the ideological roots of radical Islam it will be impossible to combat it. While there are many ideological “rootlets” of Islamism, the main tap root has a name—Salafism, or Salafi Islam, a violent, ultra-conservative version of the religion.

It is vital to grasp that traditional and even mainstream Islamic teaching accepts and promotes violence. Shariah, for example, allows apostates to be killed, permits beating women to discipline them, seeks to subjugate non-Muslims to Islam as dhimmis and justifies declaring war to do so. It exhorts good Muslims to exterminate the Jews before the “end of days.” The near deafening silence of the Muslim majority against these barbaric practices is evidence enough that there is something fundamentally wrong.

The grave predicament we face in the Islamic world is the virtual lack of approved, theologically rigorous interpretations of Islam that clearly challenge the abusive aspects of Shariah. Unlike Salafism, more liberal branches of Islam, such as Sufism, typically do not provide the essential theological base to nullify the cruel proclamations of their Salafist counterparts. And so, for more than 20 years I have been developing and working to establish a theologically-rigorous Islam that teaches peace.

—Or, to put it into terms I’m prone to use, Hamid is looking to challenge the orthodox narrative of Muslim identity—which right now uses the allowances of religious dogma to to justify the violence Islamists wield, often for purposes that are indifferent to religious devotion.

That is, the “word” provides cover for the deeds, and the punishment for rejecting the word is apostasy, which is itself a potential death sentence.  Quite a feedback identity loop Hamid is trying to break—something that needs to be done, but something that cannot be done, I don’t think, without destroying “Islam” itself.

And so the key is going to be to try to convince Muslims that what is essentially a refutation of Islam is in fact an Islamic reformation.  Or at the very least, to convince enough Muslims that it is in their best interest to eschew several of the defining aspects of their faith.  Because in addition to the violence allowed under Shariah (whether it’s wielded or not is immaterial; the permission is always latent), Muslim identity, too, is tied to a theocratic—as opposed to a purely theological—worldview, one that makes adherence to secular, national law potentially problematic.  (I’m aware that these charges were once leveled at Catholics, Japanese, etc—and are still leveled at Jews, who some presume are beholden to Israel—but the difference is that mainstream Islamic teaching does not separate religious and civil authority.)

Continues Hamid:

it is ironic and discouraging that many non-Muslim, Western intellectuals—who unceasingly claim to support human rights—have become obstacles to reforming Islam. Political correctness among Westerners obstructs unambiguous criticism of Shariah’s inhumanity. They find socioeconomic or political excuses for Islamist terrorism such as poverty, colonialism, discrimination or the existence of Israel. What incentive is there for Muslims to demand reform when Western “progressives” pave the way for Islamist barbarity? Indeed, if the problem is not one of religious beliefs, it leaves one to wonder why Christians who live among Muslims under identical circumstances refrain from contributing to wide-scale, systematic campaigns of terror.

Hmm.  Maybe it’s something in the blood

Politicians and scholars in the West have taken up the chant that Islamic extremism is caused by the Arab-Israeli conflict. This analysis cannot convince any rational person that the Islamist murder of over 150,000 innocent people in Algeria—which happened in the last few decades—or their slaying of hundreds of Buddhists in Thailand, or the brutal violence between Sunni and Shia in Iraq could have anything to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Western feminists duly fight in their home countries for equal pay and opportunity, but seemingly ignore, under a façade of cultural relativism, that large numbers of women in the Islamic world live under threat of beating, execution and genital mutilation, or cannot vote, drive cars and dress as they please.

The tendency of many Westerners to restrict themselves to self-criticism further obstructs reformation in Islam. Americans demonstrate against the war in Iraq, yet decline to demonstrate against the terrorists who kidnap innocent people and behead them. Similarly, after the Madrid train bombings, millions of Spanish citizens demonstrated against their separatist organization, ETA. But once the demonstrators realized that Muslims were behind the terror attacks they suspended the demonstrations. This example sent a message to radical Islamists to continue their violent methods.

This tendency toward self-criticism, of course, is dictated by the strictures of multiculturalist philosophy:  only those “authentic” to the group are presumed to level legitimate criticisms, making scholars like Bernard Lewis presumptuous outsiders whose study of Islam is never sufficient to overcome his ontological Otherness. 

Hamid concludes:

Western appeasement of their Muslim communities has exacerbated the problem. During the four-month period after the publication of the Muhammad cartoons in a Danish magazine, there were comparatively few violent demonstrations by Muslims. Within a few days of the Danish magazine’s formal apology, riots erupted throughout the world. The apology had been perceived by Islamists as weakness and concession.

Worst of all, perhaps, is the anti-Americanism among many Westerners. It is a resentment so strong, so deep-seated, so rooted in personal identity, that it has led many, consciously or unconsciously, to morally support America’s enemies.

Progressives need to realize that radical Islam is based on an antiliberal system. They need to awaken to the inhumane policies and practices of Islamists around the world. They need to realize that Islamism spells the death of liberal values. And they must not take for granted the respect for human rights and dignity that we experience in America, and indeed, the West, today.

Well-meaning interfaith dialogues with Muslims have largely been fruitless. Participants must demand—but so far haven’t—that Muslim organizations and scholars specifically and unambiguously denounce violent Salafi components in their mosques and in the media. Muslims who do not vocally oppose brutal Shariah decrees should not be considered “moderates.”

All of this makes the efforts of Muslim reformers more difficult. When Westerners make politically-correct excuses for Islamism, it actually endangers the lives of reformers and in many cases has the effect of suppressing their voices.

Tolerance does not mean toleration of atrocities under the umbrella of relativism. It is time for all of us in the free world to face the reality of Salafi Islam or the reality of radical Islam will continue to face us.

Identity politics defends identity politics.  But the irony is, should western identity politicians succeed in defending the Muslim identity politicians currently ascendant, those whom they defend will celebrate the victory by demanding that their defenders relinquish their own identities.

****

Tman offers his own thoughts here.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 3:07pm
100 comments | Trackback

Comments (100)

  1. Could Iraq be the Islamic equivilent to the Wars of Religion in France, or the Thirty Years War?

  2. “Progressives need to realize that radical Islam is based on an antiliberal system.”

    Big deal-so is modern leftism.

  3. It’s been said before that what Islam needs more than anything else is a Martin Luther. But what amazes me is that it seems like any muslim can go into a mosque, declare himself an Iman, and start preaching away. And more often than not he’ll find masses of people who’ll believe him uncritically. I know this sounds like what a lot of street preachers do, but these ‘Imans’ are treated respectfully, not like the clowns they are.

    One of the most positive forces in Christianity has been wat Pope Benedict called the conversation between Athens and Jerusalem. Over the centuries more and more christians started to apply logic to Biblical teachings. I don’t see anything like this taking place in Islam. I would be nice to see it happening. It would drain the power away from those who twist the Koran to justify sending their children off to blow themselves up.

  4. I’m becoming more convinced with each passing day that the Left believes it can coopt the Islamists, and hence the Islamic world, into it the anti-free market coalition, and that is what is driving their loose alliance with the sociopathic elements within Islam. 

    As VS Naipaul points out, that is what went on in Iran before the Shah was given the boot but, as he also notes, as soon as the radical Islamists had the levers of power, the commie Left was liquidated.  Today’s keffiyeh-adorned southpaw thinks he can ride the Salafist bull, but history is against him.

  5. Ali Eteraz just wrote on some progress on that front.

    Islam is slowly undergoing an Enlightenment.

  6. And so the key is going to be to try to convince Muslims that what is essentially a refutation of Islam is in fact an Islamic reformation.  Or at the very least, to convince enough Muslims that it is in their best interest to eschew several of the defining aspects of their faith.

    Good luck with that. There’s no way that devoted Muslims will accept criticism from non-believers, because the non-believers’ value system is, by definition, different from theirs. It would be the equivalent of our acceding to Wahabbi observations that yes indeed, Mr. Qutbb, many of our women dress like sluts, so we shall hasten to cover them to appease your morally superior eye.

    Many Muslims have ignored or eschewed the more violent parts of the Q’uran for many years, but the fact that those parts exist will always provide a temptation for those with the will to power and violence.

    I don’t think that Islam reformed is Islam at all. What, they’re going to slice out inconvenient parts of their scripture? Are you mad? The Christian reformation happened when people returned to the New Testament and insisted that previously ignored parts carry more weight. Unfortunately, Wahabbism and Salafism are the reformation of Islam.

    The only way you can convince people to give up their religion is to put a gun to their heads to “persuade” them that it’s in their best interest to cease and desist. It’s how the US gubmint got the Mormons to get rid of polygamy — it will take at least that much (and probably more) to rid Islam of its bloody borders.

  7. paraphrasing … Islam’s salvation will come from Islam’s destruction.  A highly charged statement that will no doubtedly draw the ire of the thruthers and PC police.  But undoubtedly one of the most compelling and important issues that needs to be discussed in the open.  Good post!

    As for the Arab/Israeli conflict being proported as the reason for Muslim ire at the Great Satan and mini-Satan, lets not forget that Arabs never will admit that Palestinians have suffered more humiliation and degredation at the hands of fellow Arabs than any Israeli government.

    I encountered recently (in an argument with an Arab) the claim that the West does not understand the affront to Arab sensitivities of the humiliation meted on Palestinians by the West, because we, in the West, don;t understand the weight place on pride and ego in the Arab psyche.  That we could never understand the rage and anger and what that will motivate people to do.

    To which I countered of my experience driving past the largest Palestinian refugee camp, south of Tyre, Lebanon, where Palestinians live in a squalid Arabian SOweto, with less than second class status, fenced off from Lebanese society by concertina wire and brutalized by thugs and crime lords within.  I also was struck by the image of a Lebanese Army armored personel carrier parked outside the gates of the camp, with its twin machine guns pointed right at the gates.  There was a stunned silence in response.

  8. A friend of mine recently returned from his thrid tour in Iraq, and we discussed many of these issues at length in terms of the underlying issues in the whole war itself.

    One of the most troubling aspects that he spoke about was the grand canyon-sized chasm of difference in cultures between the west and the near east. The biggest difference noted was the way in which tribal/family feuds are handled in terms of retribution. We here in the west get our panties in a bunch over gang warfare, which whilst being a huge problem for inner cities, is not necessarily an endemic issue for the greater communities. Granted I’m not planning on a vacation to South Central anytime soon, but they aren’t blowing up school busses in Los Angeles either. In the muslim arab world, it is the complete opposite. Honor and shame are a way of life, and killing an entire family because they “shamed” you isn’t really that unusual. The reality behind this that my friend was trying to explain is that the relative peace and prosperity we have in the US is not the norm for the rest of the world. We are the exception to the rule, the rest of the world is a very violent and non-peace-loving place.

    This is something we have to keep in mind when approaching this issue.

  9. That is, the “word” provides cover for the deeds, and the punishment for rejecting the word is apostasy, which is itself a potential death sentence.

    I would differ a little bit only – it is an actual death sentence, limited only by the ability of the Salafists/Wahhabis in carrying it out – logistically that is…

  10. We are the exception to the rule, the rest of the world is a very violent and non-peace-loving place.

    Try telling that to one of the women standing across the street from my office building in a “peace” vigil today.

    But the thought that haunts me the most is one that Steyn makes in America Alone (paraphrasing): The West is of a belief that Islam needs a Reformation to join the modern world. What if that Reformation is already underway and it’s…jihad?

  11. Identity politics defends identity politics.  But the irony is, should western identity politicians succeed in defending the Muslim identity politicians currently ascendant, those whom they defend will celebrate the victory by demanding that their defenders relinquish their own identities.

    Not too different from the Jewish lawyer who chooses to help a Neo-Nazi… oh, wait…

  12. Kelly,

    If it makes you feel any better, and believe me-this works for me, I take comfort in the fact that this isn’t the first time the west has been challenged by fascism or religious fundamentalism. We have been here before, and we will prevail. I know that there too many people like Major John and my friend who just returned from Iraq that aren’t willing to let this happen.

    The reality is that there are those among us who really really really really really really don’t get it, and the best example I can give recently is that picture of Pelosi in with the scarf over her head in Syria.

    Good job nancy! We’ve sure come a long way baby!

  13. Muslim identity politicians… will celebrate the victory by demanding that their defenders relinquish their own identities.

    Or their own heads.

  14. How to square this with the fact that half of all Iraqis have never set foot in a mosque in their lives?

  15. But the thought that haunts me the most is one that Steyn makes in America Alone (paraphrasing): The West is of a belief that Islam needs a Reformation to join the modern world. What if that Reformation is already underway and it’s…jihad?

    Sadly, jihad is, in a way, Islam’s reformation. Or, one of them. At the turn of the century, two new schools of thought existed in the Islamic word. One was the wahabi / jihad / Muslim Brotherhood type school of thought which is obviously still around today.

    The other was a very liberal minded school that believed shiria could and should be ‘interpreted’ for modern times, that wanted western institutions and values, and that believed that many superstitions that had come to be regarded as part of Islam had nothing to do with Islam. They also believed that science and Islam were completely compatible, and tended to regard conflicts between the two as misinterpretations of the Koran.

    The followers of the second school of thought, however, mostly ended up joining with the various nationalist movements (Turkish, Arab, Iranian, and Egyptian) which, for the most part, wanted the same things (ironically, the nationalist movements combined an opposition to the west with a love for all things western). Most of these movements fell apart (’cept the Turks), and the “liberal” school of Islamic thought fell with them. After that, the jihadi school was widely seen as the “true” Islam, and as the way for the Islamic world to return to power.

  16. And so the key is going to be to try to convince Muslims that what is essentially a refutation of Islam is in fact an Islamic reformation.  Or at the very least, to convince enough Muslims that it is in their best interest to eschew several of the defining aspects of their faith.

    Dicentra is right, that’s the crux of the biscuit, which is why it’s so mind-boggling and frustrating that Hamid can say this:

    And so, for more than 20 years I have been developing and working to establish a theologically-rigorous Islam that teaches peace.

    The problem is that if you somehow were able to reform islam, it wouldn’t be islam anymore. Wahabbism and salafism–and this is where I disagree with Dicentra–aren’t reformations of islam, they are islam in its basic, orthodox form.

    The people who think that there is or can be some version or form of islam that is or would be compatible with modern values are chasing their own tails.  Whenever I say this, I can almost hear the screaming about what a bloodthirsty bigot who is ignorant about islam I am (Hi, Dean), but here’s the truth, take it or leave it: The problem will never be solved until we’re willing to seal our borders, cut off all entry from muslim countries, remorselessly pursue and deport most if not all muslims, go into those countries who have or are trying to develop nuclear technology and destroy it, and then isolate them. Let them stew in their idiotic, childish, violent little world.

  17. Whoops, cut-and-paste/delete error. That should have read “deport all muslims with known or suspected terrorist connections.”

    Preview is your friend.

  18. Western feminists duly fight in their home countries for equal pay and opportunity, but seemingly ignore, under a façade of cultural relativism, that large numbers of women in the Islamic world live under threat of beating, execution and genital mutilation, or cannot vote, drive cars and dress as they please.

    I can’t help but think that’s partly because a Republican is in the White House, and we know how “feminists” feel about that.  The friend of my enemy is my friend, and all that.  Musn’t do anything that may be even remotely construed as supporting Bushitler, even if it may help save a few female lives along the way.

    </b>During the four-month period after the publication of the Muhammad cartoons in a Danish magazine, there were comparatively few violent demonstrations by Muslims. Within a few days of the Danish magazine’s formal apology, riots erupted throughout the world. The apology had been perceived by Islamists as weakness and concession.<b>

    Anybody else notice this very same pattern with the British hostages in Iran?  It seems to me that in the first few days of this, Iranians were quiet, but as more “apologies” from the soldiers were shown on TV and it became clear that the West is not going to swoop down on Iran, we are now seeing these violent demonstrations in the streets.

  19. The other was a very liberal minded school that believed shiria could and should be ‘interpreted’ for modern times, that wanted western institutions and values, and that believed that many superstitions that had come to be regarded as part of Islam had nothing to do with Islam.

    The problem is that when you have two movements — a peace-loving movement and a violent, bloodthirsty movement — the latter will inevitably win out unless the former is willing to take up arms to defend itself or to destroy the violent ones.

    And to be willing to be more violent than the violent ones; otherwise, they can’t prevail. It’s the side that is willing to use the most force that wins in an armed conflict, if the sides are evenly matched otherwise.

    Those billion and one peaceful Muslims don’t outweigh a few hundred thousand with bombs, weapons, and a passion for death.

    As for honor/shame culture, I’m persuaded that it’s developmentally more immature than a “guilt” culture (like ours) that values the truth over appearances. Dr. Sanity and Augean Stables have lots of good stuff on this topic.

    TW: For further27 reading…

  20. There’s some curious about this issue: those in the West who keep saying that Salafism and the like are the tru nature of Islam are in fact buying into the same narrative proposed by those groups, and more or less intentionally lending them a hand with estabilishing control.

  21. True, fabio.

    The same people also tend to equate any criticism of Bush with “hating America.”

    In a way, it’s our crazies vs. their crazies until the next election.

  22. FabioC,

    Would it be fair to draw a parallel between your observation and the assertion that domestic political backbiting in the US aids the cause of those who are opposed to us overseas?

    BRD

  23. FabioC.,

    those in the West who keep saying that Salafism and the like are the tru nature of Islam are in fact buying into the same narrative proposed by those groups, and more or less intentionally lending them a hand with estabilishing control.

    Whether or not this is true (FTR-I don’t believe that the majority in the west think that all muslims are salafists) is besides the point. The salafists are the ones that are blowing us up, thus they get our undivided attention.

    As Dicentra so eloquently put it-“Those billion and one peaceful Muslims don’t outweigh a few hundred thousand with bombs, weapons, and a passion for death. ”

    I’m not worried about the peaceful muslims. It’s the ones who scream “death to America” at every possible opportunity that I’m worried about. Say it enough times and sooner or later we’re gonna take you seriously.

  24. Who, exactly, is ‘defending’ Islamism?

    This Op-Ed is attacking a strawman.

  25. AJB,

    Could you be persuaded to flesh out the ‘strawman’ assessment of the Op-Ed a little bit, please?

    BRD

  26. I’m not worried about the peaceful muslims. It’s the ones who scream “death to America” at every possible opportunity that I’m worried about. Say it enough times and sooner or later we’re gonna take you seriously.

    Agreed. But there’s still a very large constituency in this country that don’t believe the “Death to America” types. These people intersect in Venn diagram fashion with another constituency that openly root for “Death to America” (as long as a Republican is in the WH.)

    Just ask alphoid Mary on these threads. Wait, better yet, don’t interact with the little douchebag. His pathelogical need for attention is annoying enough without feeding it.

  27. AJB,

    Here are a couple of outfits that might meet your definition of “defending Islamism”

    The schoolhouse.

    The mouthpieces.

    The boys in the field.

    And they can always count on a few ”charities” to help raise the $.

    Hope that helps.

  28. We believe in the bad guys, kelly.

    Just not in collective punishment.

    All that winds up doing is making the bad guys more powerful.

    And both sides know it, which is kind of sad.

    Islamic and Christian crazies joining together to gain power in their respective spheres?

  29. Alphie,

    There are a lot of people on the right who criticize Bush quite a bit, sometimes harshly.  For instance, we criticize him on illegal immigration, spending, and yes, the war in Iraq.  With regard to “our crazies vs. their crazies until the next election,” I’m not exactly sure who you mean.  For me, “our crazies” means our Congress, a member of which is currently in Syria, playing Statesperson and enjoying a lot of press.  This, despite the fact that the White House has made their position on relations with Syria abundantly clear. (Pelosi is also not the first Democrat to go over there and kiss up on behalf of the US.)

    I don’t understand why these Democrats want the Presidency so badly, disrespecting and undermining the office the way they do.

  30. To All:

    Apologies, I couldn’t pass this one up:



    “We believe in the bad guys, kelly.  Just not in collective punishment.  All that winds up doing is making the bad guys more powerful.”

    This is the primary reason that the Third Reich seized all of Europe after the 8th Air Force flattened German cities.

    Interestingly enough, this is also why the US Army is still fighting a massive Japanese insurgency in the streets of Tokyo today.

    BRD

  31. Islamic and Christian crazies joining together to gain power in their respective spheres?

    It’s like McDonald’s MCDLT, neocons just couldn’t handle having the cool side mixing with warm side

  32. BRD,

    That WWII flag is wearing a little thin.

    It helps if you get the raw data for calculations from a wide array of sources.

    That way, you don’t end up making bad predictions based on one-off occurances (like WWII).

    It’s like playing the same lotto numbers than won once years ago for the rest of your life and wondering why you haven’t won yet.

  33. mainstream Islamic teaching does not separate religious and civil authority

    If this is true, then it is very troubling.  The conflict in Iraq and the broader cause of eradicating Islamist terrorism becomes framed in a tar pit of competing interests.  The current assumption behind the campaign in Iraq seems to be that true stability in the region would be driven internally, with the establishment of a participatory government that all would recognize, respect, and accept as the primary authority.

    But if the religious dictates of violent, unequivocal jihad will not allow radical Islamists to submit to any other authority, then that becomes their national identity.  No one can force fanatic Sunni or Shia to consider themselves politial beings outside of their own sects.  And as others have pointed out, in the model of fundamentalist Islam, the strong prevail, so the dissident moderates are cowed, as is the tradition.

    I used to think that the Iraqis, as well as other Muslim populations in the world, didn’t stand up to these monsters in their midst because they had no self-interest; now I am beginning to wonder if that’s a Western filter that might not apply.  But if Islamist behavior is some kind of cultural conditioning imposed by Islam itself, I don’t know how to begin to change that.  I’m making wild suppositions merely based on what I’ve read, I know.

  34. There’s a word missing here, folks.

    EVIL.

    Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Osama Bin Laden, Stalin, and people who strap explosives to OTHERS to kill the infidel are not just harried bureaucrats, unenlightened theologians, or unloved inner children whose mother once swatted them with a rolled up copy of “Esquire.”

    They’re evil.

    However, those that seek “dialogue” and “understanding” with them are not evil–just deluded.

  35. Still way too kind to alphoid Mary, BRD.

    Despite pointing out those howlers, he’s already composing some stupid quatrain of non sequiturs in response. Better to ignore him.

  36. Alphie,

    To get back to your earlier point “[Collective punishment] … winds up … making the bad guys more powerful.”

    Isn’t a point, it’s a bad refried Star Wars hack with a GWOT Mod:

    Emperor Plapatine/ObL: Good, I can feel your anger. I am unarmed. Take your weapon. Strike me down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete.

    Or, if you prefer:

    Emperor Plapatine/ObL: Everything that has transpired has done so according to my design. Your friends, up there on the sanctuary moon/in Iraq, are walking into a trap, as is your Rebel fleet/Coalition of the Willing. It was *I* who allowed the Alliance to know the location of the shield generator/find links to terrorism in Iraq. It is quite safe from your pitiful little band. An entire legion of my best troops/jihadis awaits them.

    If you happen to think consider WWII to be a single data point, which is baldly stupid on its face, then I invite you to the entire history of warfare.

    And past that, boss, I have a bone to pick with your understanding of probability.  I made the observation in an earlier thread that the thinking of many of your ideological compatriots resembled magical thinking.  Your evident belief that choosing differing lottery number somehow affects the likelihood of a given number being drawn is magical thinking at its finest.

    Go kick a puppy or whatever else it is that you do with your time.

    BRD

  37. Nobody is saying you guys can’t go over and fight the evildoers on your own, kelly.

    Just that Uncle Sugar’s days of footing the bill and getting the blame are coming to an end.

    See: Abraham Lincoln Brigade.

  38. NO BLOOD FOR MIDICHLORIANS!!

  39. Just that Uncle Sugar’s days of footing the bill and getting the blame are coming to an end.

    This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever read.

    And considering the history involved–that’s saying something.

  40. Wishbone –

    In this one, how strong the Dumb is.

  41. Blow me, alphie.

    No one’s keeping you from joining the jihad, either. Hell, it’s not at all clear from your postings that you haven’t already.

    This is a media war above all else. If I want your opinion, I can get it from Al Jazeera without all the white noise.

  42. Thanks for the honor, wish.

    To tie it in with Jeff’s post, the people who consider all Muslims our enemy have lost their propaganda battle.

    Invading the wrong country on accident, then stayin’ to spread the peace anyway was a mortal wound to their cause.

    How do you become the official spokkkesman for a cause that dare not come right out and say what their official dogma is?

    That’s gotta be the toughest gig in all of identity politics.

  43. spokkkesman

    HAT TRICK !!!

  44. Kelley,

    This is actually kind of frightening.  I pulled up links to some of the better known dialog in Star Wars, and I swear to God, it’s like I’ve discovered the Secret Leftist ‘Ethics and Warfare’ Talking Point Depot.

    It’s uncanny, I tell you.

    BRD

  45. I’m confused.

    Was the whole Iraq thing a neocon oil grab or collective punishment for Muslims?

    In this one, how strong the Dumb is.

    Inconsistent, too.

    How to square this with the fact that half of all Iraqis have never set foot in a mosque in their lives?

  46. I love how the pro war crowd goes for teh funny when they’re outta bullets.

    If it weren’t for all the death & deficits, it would be kinda endearing.

  47. Obi-Wan Kenobi/Generic PW Commenter: Anakin/Alphie, Chancellor Palpatine/Osama bin Laden is evil!

    Darth Vader/Generic Moonbat: From my point of view the Jedi/Neocons are evil!

    Obi-Wan Kenobi/Generic PW Commenter: Well, then you are lost/a freakin’ loon!

  48. Alphie,

    When it comes to being out of bullets, you shoot more blanks than entire infertility clinic’s worth of mules.

    It’s not that I can’t argue with you.  It’s just that you haven’t been interested in debate, discussion, argument, exploration, engagement, or much of anything productive in the approximately 4,275 responses I’ve written to you.  I can only recall three times thus far you’ve ever linked anything that even remotely resembled supporting your case.

    You dodge and weave and hop and wiggle like a crack-addled weasel huffing a bag of glue while trying to manage coming off the DTs.

    Is there any particular merit in any of your responses that has made replying to you worthwhile?

    Seriously?  What is your objective in posting comments on this site?

    BRD

  49. If it weren’t for all the death & deficits, it would be kinda endearing.

    Are we talking Darfur, Somalia, the Solomon Islands, Algeria, Nigeria, Colombia, Zimbabwe, Cuba, North Korea, Thailand, Waziristan, or somewhere else here?

    Yeah, them deficits are pesky.

    When some Dumbs are out of bullets they resort to nonseqs and making shit up.

  50. I put a long comment together related to the actual post and saw when I was previewing it that the thread’s already been hijacked. Shame too, since it took some typing and that’s a chore for me. Fuck all point in submitting it now.

  51. I see alphie is reporting again from the alternate universe where Spock has a goatee.

  52. Please post it Just Passing Through; I am interested in your thoughts.  This topic rattles me.  Thanks

  53. Please post it Just Passing Through

    Second.

  54. And so, for more than 20 years I have been developing and working to establish a theologically-rigorous Islam that teaches peace.

    Yeah – it’s a dearth of the theologically-rigorous what’s been lacking. We just tweak the Islam here and here and everyone can just peace out. That’s ridiculous and it completely ignores everything the American muslim has shown us. What the Arabs have a dearth of is pop culture. It’s that simple. The kids are alright – just bored out of their freaking minds. They don’t need to have their “Muslim identity” recast – they desperately need to take an exploration of it into areas that have been closed to them by their repressive families and their repressive imams and their repressive governments and their repressive leftist apologizers.

    And here’s a place we could be superhelpful like. Why can’t we celebrate a new muslim supermodel on our catwalks and Vogue covers and websites? Why can’t we put together a hot little Iraqi boy band, put em on Letterman, and then market them back to the kids in Baghdad? Why can’t we imagine cool little muslim kids and create media vehicles for them that have appeal in the Middle East, and empower them to do the same? You’ll get a lot more mileage out of that than you’ll ever get with the “theologically-rigorous” business.

  55. JPT,

    I’ll third the sentiment.  You post, and I’ll ignore further jacking of this thread.

    BRD

  56. We just need to pay an awful lot less attention to the lazy, threadjacking dribble that gets posted.

    To answer the title of the post:

    When is a Muslim not a “Muslim”?

    I would suppose when he is an ethnic Tajik in Parwan Province, professes his love of Johnny Walker Blue Label, and wonder at the, uh, mature themes available on a satellite dish.

    I may have met a fella or two like that….

  57. Happy,

    As it happens

  58. I don’t know about threadjacking, JPT.

    When Jeff posts one of his Some person is trying to become the official spokesman of a movement by being mean to anyone who doesn’t spout the correct dogma posts, there isn’t really much to add, is there?

    Except maybe to point out that the “official spokesman” in question usually doesn’t really speak for very many people at all.

  59. Cool! – Was a BIG Bruce Sterling fan in the 90s and I’d kind of forgotten about him after the Matrix sort of drove the nail into the coffin of cyberpunk.

  60. Happy,

    If you haven’t read this one, I would highly recommend it.  It was strangely prescient for something published July 31, 2001.

    BRD

  61. the official spokesman of a movement by being mean to anyone who doesn’t spout the correct dogma

    amoeba rectum, do you read the stuff you write or are you channeling some sort of comic irony generator?

    Read the subject of the post again and then let’s talk about Salafism in light of your idiotic characterization of Jeff’s motives.

  62. I have read articles describing how much of the Iranian youth is savvy, disaffected, and irreligious.  That could be the catalyst for a change of some sort, what I don’t know.  I’ve also read there’s a drug addiction problem within the young population.  Could be a bad thing.  Maybe mind alteration and listless disengagement squares just fine with the jihadist agenda.

  63. I will – actually now that I think of it it was more when William Gibson’s stuff started getting too-dense-to-read-on-a-plane that I drifted away from that thinky science fiction genre.

  64. Well, wish.

    It’s my understanding that Islam has no official spokesman, like a Pope.

    Rather, it is a more democratic religion, where scholars that achieve certain levels of learning become more influential, but they only get to offer opinions, not official dogma.

    In other words, there is no “orthodox narrative of Muslim identity” to challenge.

    That doesn’t stop the offcial organ of the neocon movement from trying to spread the official dogma that there is one, though.

  65. Maybe mind alteration and listless disengagement squares just fine with the jihadist agenda.

    It’s a power thing, cynn.  Not unlike the Catholic church at the beginning of the capitalist era.  Or any Marxist for that matter.

    People with opportunities and access to information are dangerous to the mullahs (or any centralized authority for that matter).  So, keep them down and out with few options other than reliance on the state.  Even with that, Iran’s unemployment rate is 15% with a per capita GDP of less than $9000.

  66. I give up.  I’m going to clean out a drawer or something.

  67. Sorry, wishbone, previous comment not directed your way.

  68. Just that Uncle Sugar’s days of footing the bill and getting the blame are coming to an end.

    See: Abrahm Lincoln Brigade

    Alfoid, funny you should mention considering pro-slavery Copperhead ‘peace’ democrats were losers back then so too are you a loser pro-Jihadist Copperhead ‘peace’ democrat today.

    TW: lower75 alphie’s IQ after failing history

  69. Cynn – I think you might like this blog.

    For the record, these televised confessions that the Iranian government keeps showing on its Arabic channel Al Alam are a big joke and they only serve to make us look stupid. I, like other Iranians, know of many people who were forced into making confessions for television.

    People may form an opinion of us in ten minutes that it will take us decades to undo.

    I’m completely charmed, and it’s heartening.

  70. Women are stoned to death and undergo clitorectomies. Gays hang from the gallows under the approving eyes of the proponents of Shariah, the legal code of Islam. Sunni and Shia massacre each other daily in Iraq. Palestinian mothers teach 3-year-old boys and girls the ideal of martyrdom.

    Well, as long as it’s not

    official dogma.

    Fatwa, anyone?

    We have no arrived at the dumb singularity that lies at the heart of amoeba rectum’s “logic.”

  71. In other words, there is no “orthodox narrative of Muslim identity” to challenge.

    I wonder, does anyone have the patience or stomach to go back and see if alphie has ever gone out and attributed anything to Christians as a whole that only applies to a small subset?  It’d just be another stick to beat him with, but I like seeing him get beaten.  For example, I can spot half a dozen things wrong with the following analysis, plus something that makes an argument that goes against his whole point:

    Rather, it is a more democratic religion, where scholars that achieve certain levels of learning become more influential, but they only get to offer opinions, not official dogma.

    Will he ever get a clue and go away?  Can we take donations to buy him a clue?  Is that why he’s so against the war, he’s thinking that the money being sent might be enough to get him a small clue?

  72. Well, if this thread is going to succumb to threadjacking, I’m going to go make myself write a few more paragraphs about Guadalcanal for C301 of ILE-CC … GHORMLEY CRINGED, THE JAPANESE FLEET BINGED!!11!1

  73. Oh, great, the Japanese fleet has an eating disorder.  This place is the Night Gallery meets the History Channel.

  74. Rather, it is a more democratic religion, where scholars that achieve certain levels of learning become more influential, but they only get to offer opinions, not official dogma.

    When an Islamists’ “opinions” get innocent (Muslim!) men, women,and children killed, it tends to carry the weight of “official dogma.”

    In other words, there is no “orthodox narrative of Muslim identity” to challenge.

    That doesn’t stop the offcial organ of the neocon movement from trying to spread the official dogma that there is one, though.

    Again, you’re confused, alphie. If anyone’s trying to spread that there’s an Islamic orthodoxy, it’s Islamic terrorists, not us.  And wha the hell is the “official organ of the neocon movement?” I’d really like to know, if it’s official and all.  I’d hate to be one of those un-offical neocons-want to make sure I’m doing it right.

  75. Can we take donations to buy him a clue?

    We could, but he’d just smash it repeatedly over his own head.

    I was about to add, “…or shove it up his own ass,” but that would actually run the risk of exposing his brain to the clue—and he’d never do that.

  76. I hate Japanese fleets with eating disorders.

    And Pacific Island warfare.

    And malaria.

    And writing papers about Japanese fleets with eating disorders in Pacific Island warfare with malaria.

  77. Great, now wishbone has malaria and is engaged in Pacific Island warfare.  Aren’t we the drama queen.

  78. Cynn,

    If you’re back from cleaning that drawer, I’d be interested in the articles you read about the Iranian youth.  I’ve heard many of the same things, but haven’t read much about it.  Your post caught my eye because I’ve been hearing for years about how young Iranians are just itching for a revolution.  A revolution would be great, but I’m wondering how much longer…

    Alphie-still waiting for info on the “offical organ of the neo-con movement.”

  79. The official organ of the neo-con movement is Dick Cheney’s unnaturally malformed member.

  80. Are you saying that malformation is unnatural?

  81. Gail has a perfect Thomas Mann quote at Scribal Terror:

    “Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil.”

  82. michelle:

    Your post caught my eye because I’ve been hearing for years about how young Iranians are just itching for a revolution.

    You weren’t addressing me, but I think it’s easy to be overoptimistic about this.  Sure, you can read some sources and they are heartfelt in this desire, but how representative are they?  (I guess I’m arguing with Michael Ledeen, in absentia, here.)

    Making absolutely no moral equivalence whatsoever, I often wonder whether Islamists read reports of our farther-out antigovernment fringe and conclude that our own order is ripe for the toppling.

    Most Iranians I know are genial and extremely polite–I am speaking culturally, not racially–but with an occasionally touchy sense of nationalist pride. I know American citizens who love America, hate the mullahs with all their hearts, yet are still furious that in 1953 we helped overthrow a democratically elected socialist in favor of the Shah, “our sonovabitch” if ever there was one.

    I don’t mean to ramble.  My point is that I wonder pessimistically how many of those young Iranians itching for revolution would be firmly behind their government the moment we were perceived to be behind any unrest.

  83. For “Most Iranians I know,” read, Most Iranian emigres now quite gratefully living in America.  Which is pretty much every Iranian emigre I know–quite a different group, I realize, than those back in Iran.

    My point being that even these folks, glad to have left Iran behind and emotionally pro-American, can get retrospectively offended by American meddling there.

  84. Dan, isn’t that what evolution is about?

  85. It’s my understanding that Islam has no official spokesman, like a Pope.

    Rather, it is a more democratic religion, where scholars that achieve certain levels of learning become more influential, but they only get to offer opinions, not official dogma.

    In other words, there is no “orthodox narrative of Muslim identity” to challenge.

    That doesn’t stop the offcial organ of the neocon movement from trying to spread the official dogma that there is one, though.

    Posted by alphie

    OK, it seems to be an attempt to engage in rational discourse. Let’s test the proposition.

    There are two pricipal strands to Islam, alfi, the Sunni and the Shia’.

    The Sunni follow the teachings of the Quran, the sunna, or way, of the prophet Muhammad and the hadeeth, or sayings and actions of the prophet where they are substantiated by ‘isnaad’, or chain, meaning that the veracity of the hadeeth can be more or less assured through an unbroken chain of verbal history.

    Sunnis have no formal church structure in the sense of priests or bishops and are led in prayer and in opinion by sheikhs and imams, who are essentially educated and learned Islamic scholars of one of the 4 schools.

    The Shia’, who are the schismatics, come in varying degrees of eccentricity, with my personal favourites being the ‘alids who hold that Ali, the son in law of Muhammad, is superior to God. This is an interesting philosophical and theological concept which could see a civilised discussion through severall bottles of Black Bush.

    The Shia’ do have a structured church, culminating in Ayatollahs.

    There is an orthodox narrative, which is the Sunni one.

    Let me know if you have a genuine interest in learning more about any of this and I will try to help you.

  86. It’s like playing the same lotto numbers than won once years ago for the rest of your life and wondering why you haven’t won yet.

    Goddamnit!  You fucking dumb ass!:

    The same lotto numbers that won once years ago HAVE JUST THE SAME CHANCE OF WINNING THE LOTTO NOW AS ANY OTHER NUMBERS!

    Goddamnit.  Go away.  You don’t know anything about anything!

    Everytime I thing we have plumbed the depth of your fucking stupidity you swim just a little deeper into the turgid morass of feelings-based ignorance.

    Fuckin’ Idiot!

  87. I thought Islam and becoming an Imam was sort of democratic, equal opportunity and all that, except for women.  I liken it to those Famous Artist School deals they used to have on match books.  Isn’t all I need a diaper and a fan belt for my head to self declare myself an Imam and begin issuing fatwas, labeling people apostates, and meting out the cruel and unusual punishments demanded by the prophet for the slightest offenses (PBUH)?

    I may have a detail or two wrong.

  88. JPS –If you are in fact an Iranian refugee—you speak in a reconciliatory tone.  Why?

  89. sorry, I meant conciliatory.  I tend to put re- on everything these days.

  90. Lost what I had written earlier, but here’s a quick and dirty version.

    I don’t believe that a reformation of Islam is the key to freeing the faith’s adherents from the demands of jihad. Reason being is that I don’t believe it can be reformed.

    Reformations occur when religious hierarchies reinterpret dogma in response to secular pressures. That’s essentially what happened during the protestant reformation (a complex shift in the entire societal paradigm of the west at the time but it was evolution in society that drove it). There is no such religious hierarchy in Islam and there can’t be a reformation as the west envisions it without that hierarchy. No concord of religious leaders can form. There is no Baltimore Catechism. No one speaks for the faith except for a prophet who has been dead for 1500 years.

    Wahabbi and Salafi treatments of Koranic interpretation are at the core of Islamic fundamentalism. I’ve made the point in older discussions and it’s been made already in this thread that that Islamic fundamentalism does not recognize any distinction between secular and religious imperatives. None. There is no tradition in Islam to distinguish rendering onto Caesar from rendering onto God. Society must conform to the dictates of faith because faith and society are the same.

    Muslims are not God’s children enjoined to live a life in harmony with ten simple commandments like the mainstream Christian religions teach. Muslims are not God’s children according to their belief structure. They are God’s servants, each and every one of them. That is no subtle distinction either. It’s fundamental. Each and every Muslim has the same requirement to serve Allah – to live their faith is to carry it forward in the perfect form that Allah relayed to their prophet. And that makes Islamic fundamentalism even more impervious to reformation. Martin Luther could question the church in his belief that the church violated living in harmony with God’s will and further believe that in doing so he was doing God’s will. There can’t be a Martin Luther in Islam. To do Allah’s will is to serve Allah and follow his prophet. Servants serve, they do not question. To question Allah or his prophet is to be Apostate.

    So there’s no church to be reformed – the Caliphate is the church. The Koran guides secular life, so there’s no secular pressure for change.  There’s no good men to redefine faith as society matures – no Augustines, or Loyolas, or Benedicts, or Luthers. No saints, only martyrs.

    So, what to do? Well, I personally don’t give a shit. I don’t give a shit about root causes or Wahabbi and Salafi fundamentalism or reformation of Islam. They can stay in an 8th century society where the Koran as their guide for life is sufficient for all I care. Distance and geography made that work for hundreds of years.

    Unfortunately, planes, trains, and automobiles, weapons and WMDs – all available from the society that has matured (because they damned sure can’t make their own), and paid for by the oil that society needs, has changed that. Islam has determined that I should live in the 8th century too or die. I don’t agree, so they attacked me to underline their seriousness.

    So I’ll give them a chance to join the 21st century. I’ll indulge the martyrs first to clear the decks and then give then the chance to break the link between religious and secular imperatives (the strategy we’ve been following in the WoT – lots of treatment of that in the last 6 or so years in print and online) by promoting democracy and it’s associated distinction between church and state.

    Democracy IS the only force capable of reforming Islam. And if they don’t like it, it’s back to the 8th century they go by whatever other means necessary.

  91. Maybe you could take a medial class?

  92. I’d like to pull out my Official Organ of the Neocon Movement and pee on alphie….

  93. Democracy IS the only force capable of reforming Islam.

    Democracy PLUS boy bands and supermodels and anime where you can see all the girls’ underwear and knowing someone who at least knows someone who’s read a Bret Easton Ellis novel.

  94. Gray,

    The point being, of course, is that most people never win the lottery.

    Repeating WWII over and over won’t help with the Iraqi insurgency no matter how many times you say it.

    furris,

    Nice recap, but it seems to agree with everything I said.

  95. The point being, of course, is that most people never win the lottery.

    No.  The point being, of course, is that your understanding of probability is just as shitty as your grasp of politics, warfare and history.

  96. Thanks, Just Passing Through.  Looks like a great post, but too late tonight; I’ll address it tomorrow.  I tried to express my own concerns above but they got drowned out.

  97. Hi, cynn.

    JPS –If you are in fact an Iranian refugee—you speak in a [conciliatory] tone.  Why?

    (Been away from this thread for awhile.  “Work must intrude….”)

    I’m not positive I understand your question.  Conciliatory to whom?

    Let me put it this way, with apologies to all for the digression.  I think if Iran gets nuclear weapons, it will be a catastrophe for the world, one of such proportions that people will look back and wonder, “They [the West] had to know what was coming; why didn’t they do something?”

    I think the mullahs need to be stopped.  I also think a full-fledged war between America and Iran is a very ugly prospect, one that would make our troubles in Iraq look minor by comparison. So I’m very much interested in how we might get our way while avoiding war.  I would love to think that an Iranian revolution might solve our problems for us, but precisely because it’s such an appealing prospect I try not to count on it.

    Since you wondered, no, I’m not from Iran myself.  My father left Iran under no duress, well before the Islamic Revolution; he was an American citizen by the time I was born.  I was raised as a plain-ole American, and my dad (somewhat to my regret) wouldn’t teach me Farsi.

    I claim no more knowledge of Iran than any interested American without my ancestry would have.  The fact that I happen to know quite a few Iranian emigres is mainly because of time spent in LA, plus working in the academic world.  (Persians tend to place my last name, then look at me and say, “But you’re not….”)

    And if I sound conciliatory, it’s because I tend to be reflexively on my country’s side (it takes roughly five seconds of a foreigner running down the U.S. to bring out the Ugly American in me), and I try hard not to let that rule my thinking.

  98. Yes and No.

    There is a lot of weasel room in Islam as while what the Koran says is pretty much agreed upon, when to apply a specific passage is not.

    That allows liberal Muslims to use “no compulsion in religion” to deal with other relgions while conservative Muslims use it to mean you should not be allowed to compel a Muslim to give up Islam (i.e. used to disallow church building and other activities which might be considered missionary by other faiths.)

    The problem with being a liberal Muslim, of course, is that conservative Muslims feel free to kill you and frequently do.

    In that regard, Islam can not be reformed any more than Marxism – kill the wealthy and everyone who defends their right to life – can, but protecting the right to life of liberal Muslims removes the inertia of socialogical approval for conservative Muslims.

    When the freedom to kill the wealthy is taken away, most people gravitate toward being wealthy.

    However, in no Islamic country is the right to life ethic very strong.

  99. JPT:

    Nice summing up of the situation.  I agree with your conclusions (but not knowing Islam well can’t speak to the theology).

    One counterargument I’ve heard a lot is the claim that it is a tiny minority that are responsible for the violence.  Just as Christianity cannot be held responsible for an Eric Rudolph, Islam cannot be responsible for a UBL.

    Other than pointing out the obvious difference in scale, this is a difficult counter to get past because it is plainly true – there aren’t a billion jihadis out there.  Do Muslims have some obligation spelled out in the theology to put down “wrong” things being done in the name of the religion?  I can’t say I’ve seen that response among Muslims – it’s more resembled a circling of the wagons.

    As a practical matter, if someone were doing something claiming to represent me, the likely response to which being a JDAM through my living room window, I’d surely find some way of getting the message out that I want nothing to do with it.

    JPS:

    Might a simpler possibility for a conflict with Iran be something like: sink the Iranian navy, take Bushehr province and wait for the collapse?  Or don’t you see the Iranian government ripe for a Havel-style (or possibly Ceausescu-style) revolution?

  100. So, are you saying you don’t understand English, alfi?

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