1 of 3
1
Islam and Islamophobia
Posted: 13 March 2007 05:38 PM   [ Ignore ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  402
Joined  2003-09-24

[i:3174dc3b20]Here is an interesting essay about Islamophobia from a Marxist/atheist point of view (and fairly humanist, too).  It can be the antidote to Hitchens, Warraq, Harris and others…[/i:3174dc3b20]

[b:3174dc3b20]Islam and Islamophobia[/b:3174dc3b20]

By DEEPA KUMAR

OVER THE course of 2006, the attacks on Muslims and the vilification of Islam has been relentless. When Muslims protested the cartoons that caricatured Islam published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005, they were denounced for not appreciating Western values of ¤free speech.Ë When a United Arab Emirates company was to take over the running of six U.S. ports from a British company in early 2006, the Democrats and Republicans whipped up a xenophobic frenzy. After Hezbollah defeated Israel in the Lebanon war, Bush referred to Hezbollah as an ¤IslamofascistË organization, and stated that ¤Islamic fascismË was the biggest threat facing the United States.

http://www.isreview.org/issues/52/islamophobia.shtml

 Signature 

Barry F. Seidman
Exec. Producer of Equal Time for Freethought

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 March 2007 01:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  44
Joined  2007-03-04

I have to say I’m very unconvinced by these arguments, and I find the far left and Islam to be very strange bedfellows. The article contradicts itself in several places (for example, it says that sexism is part of all religions, then has the audacity to compare the experience of Western women to women in Islamic countries, and finally quotes an author who talks about women having very advanced rights in Arab countries before the ‘instituionalisation’ of Islam. Surely this means Islam is the problem!!!)

Near the end of the article she also asserts that the problems between East and West and within the Middle East are all political and economical and have NOTHING TO DO WITH RELIGION, which is ludicrous and patently false.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 March 2007 05:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4108
Joined  2006-11-28

There’s a great deal of misuse of the suffix “-phobia” in this context, and the article is a great example. A phobia is an irrational fear, judging something as dangerous without any evidence. There is certainly some of this in the U.S., but surprisingly less that I’d expect given we’re a bit of a provincial, ethnocentric culture. There is, however lots of criticism of Islam, and that’s not entirely inappropriate.

There are prominent muslims who identify themselves as spokespeople for “true” Islam, and then proceed to promulgate insanely xenophobic, sexist, and violence-friendly ideologies. I don’t know if there is anything fundamental about Islam that is more amenable to these ideologies than Christianity, though I doubt it. There has been plenty of similar craziness in Christianity, and there still is some. And do the majority of muslims support these ideologies? Again, I don’t know, but I doubt it. But the fact remains that the Reformation and Enlightenement happened, and they dramatically altered common ways of thinking in Western culture, including diminishing the popularity and importance of extreme or radical religion. The West is particularly amenable to naturalism and humanism. After all, it can be fairly said we invented them, and least in their most recent incarnations. These ideas are less well-receieved in Islamic cultures among the majority for logical cultural and historical reasons. There is a certain arrogance in assuming the ideas are universal and should be accepted by everyone. But it is not phobia to argue that Islamic cutlure is currently more xenophic, more sexist, and less open to scientific naturalism that even the U.S., and we’re miles behind Europe in this regard.

The cartoon fiasco is a perfect example. Mocking religion is never opular, but the mass outrage the clerics were able to generate in the slamic world over these cartoons would be hard to imagine in modern Europe, or even the U.S. (well, most of it, anyway). There’s nothing racist or phobic in acknowledging this. There are muslims working to change their own culture, so it would be wrong to say change is not possible for muslims, but on average the ideas we as humanists value are even more marginalized in the Islamic world than the are here, and we should not be afraid to say so just because such criticism can be misinterpreted, or misused as ethnocentric egoism or racism.

 Signature 

The SkeptVet Blog
You cannot reason a person out of a position he did not reason himself into in the first place. 
Johnathan Swift

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 March 2007 11:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  142
Joined  2007-03-11

Moderate Islam and puritan-extremist Islam are two different ideologies or approaches to interpretation and practice. Anyone can cherry pick the big 3 Abe faiths and come away with scriptural and doctrinal support for tolerance and moderation or violent bigotry and intolerance. It’s all there, the problem tends to be the selective interpretation of extremists not the actual religion per se and that comes from an atheist. All 3 religions teach much wisdom and morality yet there is also the intolerance, immorality and violence.

The cartoon fiasco is a different headache all together. The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published the 12 cartoons of Muhommad. 2 imams living in sanctuary there in Denmark travelled to Egypt with a dossier which was copied and circulated from there to the whole Islamic world. It contained falsehoods about the alleged maltreatment of Muslims in Denmark and the 2 imams added 3 additional images whose origin was unknown but certainly had no connection with Denmark.

A particularly offensive added picture by the imams was not a cartoon but a faxed pic of a bearded man wearing a fake pigs snout held on with elastic. This was implied to be the prophet Muhommad. These imam clowns stirred the pot with predictable results.

 

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”~ Voltaire

“Many people would sooner die than think. In fact they do.”~ Bertrand Russell

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 March 2007 07:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  402
Joined  2003-09-24

The responses so far seem to prove Deepa’s points for her!  Metaphor misses the points altogether, and the others miss the points about the cartoons. I think this is because folks in these forums are more concerned with atheism and religious isssues than even most religious people!  “It’s always the politics/economics, stupid!”

PS:  Deepa is a Socialist, which is on the Left but not the Far Left.  I see the spectrum a bit differently than some others (not counting pure social issues like sexual orientation, gender issues, “race” issues, etc.) 

RIGHT

Far Right - Fascism, Totalitarianism, non-benign Dictatorships, etc… such as Stalin’s USSR, Hitler’s Germany, Mao’s China, today’s North Korea, Saudia Arabia, etc.

Right - State Socialist-Capitalist (non-democratic) such as Cuba and today’s China, and Hugh Chavez’s style as he moves away from democracy (sadly)...  Also, the wishes of the Neo-Cons should they ever get their way (but they lean very much toward Far Right Fascism), and Ayn Rand/Milton Freidman styled free market capitalism, etc…

Conservative - More moderate free market Libertarianism, Reagan/Thatcher small government capitalism and more moderate conservatism a la Goldwater conservativism (the least destructive sort of conservatism)...

CENTER: Liberal - (more right leaning) New Deal capitalism and (more left leaning) Social Democratic capitalism (Swedish model of 1970s).

LEFT

Left - Socialism with democracy but no capitalism (and maybe no markets either). Classical Liberalism minus the capitalism.

Far Left: - Libertarian-Socialism (no markets, no capitalism), or most forms of Anarchism (no state).

PS:  “Problematic” leftists would be the “New-Age” unscientific leftists and the neo-luddites… And the postmodern relevatists.

 Signature 

Barry F. Seidman
Exec. Producer of Equal Time for Freethought

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 March 2007 08:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  44
Joined  2007-03-04

[quote author=“Barry”]The responses so far seem to prove Deepa’s points for her!  Metaphor misses the points altogether, and the others miss the points about the cartoons. I think this is because folks in these forums are more concerned with atheism and religious isssues than even most religious people!  “It’s always the politics/economics, stupid!”

PS:  Deepa is a Socialist, which is on the Left but not the Far Left.  I see the spectrum a bit differently than some others (not counting pure social issues like sexual orientation, gender issues, “race” issues, etc.) 

RIGHT

Far Right - Fascism, Totalitarianism, non-benign Dictatorships, etc… such as Stalin’s USSR, Hitler’s Germany, Mao’s China, today’s North Korea, Saudia Arabia, etc.

Right - State Socialist-Capitalist (non-democratic) such as Cuba and today’s China, and Hugh Chavez’s style as he moves away from democracy (sadly)...  Also, the wishes of the Neo-Cons should they ever get their way (but they lean very much toward Far Right Fascism), and Ayn Rand/Milton Freidman styled free market capitalism, etc…

Conservative - More moderate free market Libertarianism, Reagan/Thatcher small government capitalism and more moderate conservatism a la Goldwater conservativism (the least destructive sort of conservatism)...

CENTER: Liberal - (more right leaning) New Deal capitalism and (more left leaning) Social Democratic capitalism (Swedish model of 1970s).

LEFT

Left - Socialism with democracy but no capitalism (and maybe no markets either). Classical Liberalism minus the capitalism.

Far Left: - Libertarian-Socialism (no markets, no capitalism), or most forms of Anarchism (no state).

PS:  “Problematic” leftists would be the “New-Age” unscientific leftists and the neo-luddites… And the postmodern relevatists.

What point have I missed? I understand her arguments, I just disagree with them. There are lots of countries that are worse off than the middle east economically, but they are not breeding grounds for suicide bombers. In fact, the 19 involved in 9/11 were all middle-class, some of them with scientific degrees. What else could be the motivating factor for terrorism but the faith?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 March 2007 03:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15435
Joined  2006-02-14

So the communist Soviet Union and Maoist China are both “far right”? That amounts to a redefinition of the terms “left” and “right”.

Further, if we’re going to order things based on dislike of capitalism, then the USSR, Maoist China and Nazi Germany are pretty much on a par. All were founded on explicitly anti-capitalist platforms.

As for Metaphor’s point, there are a number of reasons behind terrorist suicide bombings; it isn’t only religion that is at issue. However, there is no doubt that religion is one very important issue. And whitewashing this sort of behavior is grotesque.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sue├▒o de la raz├│n produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 March 2007 04:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  241
Joined  2006-07-17

the problem tends to be the selective interpretation of extremists not the actual religion per se

Err… wrong.

All of the Abrahamic religions are steeped in violence and control and degradation of women, etc.

Those who engage in selective interpretation are the ones who only cherry pick the few good things that these religions say, while ignoring all of the obviously horrible things.

The so-called “extremists” are just the ones who take these religions at face value.

 Signature 

http://www.rationalrevolution.net

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 March 2007 10:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  142
Joined  2007-03-11

[quote author=“rationalrevolution”]

the problem tends to be the selective interpretation of extremists not the actual religion per se

Err… wrong.

All of the Abrahamic religions are steeped in violence and control and degradation of women, etc.

Those who engage in selective interpretation are the ones who only cherry pick the few good things that these religions say, while ignoring all of the obviously horrible things.

The so-called “extremists” are just the ones who take these religions at face value.

Although I totally agree with your legitimate criticism that the religions mentioned above do have corrupt and abusive elements of a patriarchal hierarchy, misogyny and violence the religions alone will not turn out the same kind of behavior in all people, in all societies, in all era’s of time.

There is an inescapable familial and cultural influence of how the religion is presented to people that greatly determines the beliefs and interpretations of the individuals practicing those religions.

What interpretation do you get when you take any of those religions at “face value”?

They all are a complex patchwork of beliefs and mythologies penned by many authors, over many decades and within many regions of the near and middle east under a variety of socio-political conditions. They all contain some common sense guidelines and wisdom yet the awful, archaic and undesirable behaviors are condoned and glorified as well. That much is undeniable.

To focus on only this or that is selective confirmation either way in the face of the fact that they all contain those good/bad attributes. “Face value” is higly subjective here.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 March 2007 10:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  142
Joined  2007-03-11

Researcher Laird Wilcox identifies 16 traits of a political or religious extremist in a 1987 article:

1. Character assassination
2. Name calling and labeling
3. Irresponsible sweeping generalizations
4. Inadequate proof for assertions
5. Advocacy of double standards
6. View of opponents and critics as essentially evil

7. Posses a Manichean world view
8. Advocate some degree of censorship and repression of their opponents and critics
9. Identify themselves in terms of who their enemies are
10. Given to arguments by intimidation
11. Widely use slogans, buzzwords and thought-stopping clich╗s

12. Doomsday thinking

13. Claim some kind of moral or other superiority over others
14. Tend to believe that it is justified to do bad things in the service of a supposedly “good” cause

15. Tend to place great value on emotional response

16. May claim some kind of supernatural, mystical or divinely-inspired rationale for their beliefs and actions

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 March 2007 01:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  44
Joined  2007-03-04

[quote author=“dougsmith”]So the communist Soviet Union and Maoist China are both “far right”? That amounts to a redefinition of the terms “left” and “right”.

Further, if we’re going to order things based on dislike of capitalism, then the USSR, Maoist China and Nazi Germany are pretty much on a par. All were founded on explicitly anti-capitalist platforms.

As for Metaphor’s point, there are a number of reasons behind terrorist suicide bombings; it isn’t only religion that is at issue. However, there is no doubt that religion is one very important issue. And whitewashing this sort of behavior is grotesque.

I did not mean to convey the only reason could be religion, merely that political and economic problems do not seem to be sufficient for a very particular kind of terrorism.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 March 2007 02:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15435
Joined  2006-02-14

[quote author=“Metaphor”]I did not mean to convey the only reason could be religion, merely that political and economic problems do not seem to be sufficient for a very particular kind of terrorism.

Yes, I understand. One point that Scott Atran made well is that there are some non-religious suicide bombers in Sri Lanka. So it is possible to suicidally murder innocents without direct religious reasons. However I am in general agreement with you that religions tend to be much quicker to get their believers to perform this sort of insane evil.

I expect, however, that a deep study of the issue would find that these non-religious suicide bombers are involved in quasi-religions that are only superficially about politics, economics or national issues. Basically, they sacrilize these issues. When politics, economics or nationalism comes apart from evidence it becomes mere religion; it becomes itself irrational.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sue├▒o de la raz├│n produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 March 2007 03:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  142
Joined  2007-03-11

[quote author=“dougsmith”][quote author=“Metaphor”]I did not mean to convey the only reason could be religion, merely that political and economic problems do not seem to be sufficient for a very particular kind of terrorism.

Yes, I understand. One point that Scott Atran made well is that there are some non-religious suicide bombers in Sri Lanka. So it is possible to suicidally murder innocents without direct religious reasons. However I am in general agreement with you that religions tend to be much quicker to get their believers to perform this sort of insane evil.

I expect, however, that a deep study of the issue would find that these non-religious suicide bombers are involved in quasi-religions that are only superficially about politics, economics or national issues. Basically, they sacrilize these issues. When politics, economics or nationalism comes apart from evidence it becomes mere religion; it becomes itself irrational.

As irrational as the Japanese suicide bombers of our own Pear Harbor.
Religion, patriotism, maytyrdom, self-immolation etc…...many, including Americans, have engaged in suicidal attempts to further a cause.

Call it what you will many, if not all, have done it.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 March 2007 05:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  402
Joined  2003-09-24

What point have I missed? I understand her arguments, I just disagree with them. There are lots of countries that are worse off than the middle east economically, but they are not breeding grounds for suicide bombers. In fact, the 19 involved in 9/11 were all middle-class, some of them with scientific degrees. What else could be the motivating factor for terrorism but the faith?

Religion may be used as one of many sorts of justifications for violence. There are differences between the many forms religion takes and fundementalism (which is not only about literalism, but about fanatic faith, hope, and a sense of righteousness.)  People can act in the ways some of you are mainly attributing to religion via political and social ideologies.  And it is not just because the ideology becomes very much seperated from evidence to support it, but because of very deep intelectual and emotional investments some make to ideas.. often in terrible times or while living bad lives. 

This is why I have never advocated for humanism to fit into this or that political mindset, but for humanism to give brith to ideas based on non-dogmatic scientific naturalism which will lend themselves a certain set of political, social and economic ideals which fit humanism itself.

Also, Atran is a good source for understanding the complex reasons for religious violence via terrorism, but not the only person.  If Atran says some terrorists are not religious, he is off track a bit (I assume Doug misread Atran instead).  Robert Pape has shown that MOST suicide terrorism stems from NON Muslim corners of the world and the largest of these - the largest of ALL such terrorists - are the Tamil Tigers.  Do they substitute some other political or social ideology for religion?  No doubt.  But what that may be may not be what some think.  Indeed, the Palestinians are the classic example of suicide terrorism, and it is quite clear that their cause is political, economic, and social… in response to the immoral, unethical and “evil” deeds of Neo-Zionist Isreal. 

And here’s something else… ALL the wars America has been involved in (most which it initiated) since WWII involved purposefull murder and thekilling of civilians.  Indeed, these acts were carried out by many who did not expect to come out of the battles alive, so they were indeed ‘suicide attacks.’  The violence of America onto the rest of the world is so overwelmingly more vicious and widepsread and numerous than any Muslim group can ever hope to acheive in 10 lifetimes, that it amazes me that Americans are so focused on them and not on ourselves. This plus the FACT that the main reason political Islam exists is because of US actions, I can rightly say that I have met the enemy.. and it is us!

Also, Deepa did not say economics were the only or even main reason for the violence she talks about in her essay… its deeper still (as I just said).  Again, religion is a sidestory here, but many of you are latching onto it because you can’t connect religion to social, political and economic life.. as it almost ALWAYS is society-wide.

 Signature 

Barry F. Seidman
Exec. Producer of Equal Time for Freethought

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 March 2007 05:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  402
Joined  2003-09-24

Doug said:

So the communist Soviet Union and Maoist China are both “far right”? That amounts to a redefinition of the terms “left” and “right”.

Further, if we’re going to order things based on dislike of capitalism, then the USSR, Maoist China and Nazi Germany are pretty much on a par. All were founded on explicitly anti-capitalist platforms.

No, no Doug.  That is not my reasoning. I am using the political compass here.  I think the further toward authoritarianism you go, the further toward the right you go.  Also, the less democratic you are, the less on the left you are.  Also, since capitalism is incompatible with democracy, and is an extremely unfair, non-compassionate, uber-competitive, wholly inequitable, oligarchic (etc, etc, etc) economic system—- when it is left alone as in free market libertarian capitalism (Rand, Friedman), it is rightist. 

This is why the Center is what it is.  New Deal and Social Democracy are to the Left of the authoritarian USSR, China, North Korea, and to the left of neo-liberal capitalism and neo-conservatism, etc ... while they are to the right of marketless, non-capitalist, socialist or inclusive democracies.

 Signature 

Barry F. Seidman
Exec. Producer of Equal Time for Freethought

Profile
 
 
Posted: 16 March 2007 04:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15435
Joined  2006-02-14

Not sure what any of this has to do with Islam, but somehow all your discussions end up at precisely the same place.

[quote author=“Barry”]I think the further toward authoritarianism you go, the further toward the right you go.  Also, the less democratic you are, the less on the left you are.

As you know, the communist ideal was to dissolve the state in a “democratic” worker’s paradise. The authoritarianism became necessary because—wonder of wonders—they found that nobody followed the script of throwing off the capitalist yoke and behaving like good stateless communists should.

So instead they got indoctrination, forced curricula, forced patterns of work, all in order to teach the people how they were supposed to behave.

When people published anti-communist stuff, or talked about it on the street, or attempted to disagree politically, they were hauled off to jail or liquidated. All of this happened because in fact many people disagreed with the aims they put forward.

You have already advocated the murder of innocents, I would hate to think of the sort of mechanism that would be put in place in order to coerce the mass of people to accept your so-called “inclusive democracy”. My own bet is that it would end up being just as totalitarian as the USSR or Maoist China.

Just to be absolutely clear here, there is a distinction between an “in principle” authoritarianism and an “in practice” authoritarianism. Communism and inclusive democracy are “in principle” non-authoritarian—that is, ideally, and following the strict dictates of their founders, they are totally democratic and just follow the free will of the people (or at least those people like “the workers” who are valued the most).

But in practice all these systems will lead straight to totalitarianism. Why? Because their in-principle aims are unachievable by peaceful methods of persuasion.

By your standards of the political spectrum, in practice inclusive democracy would be a far rightist political scheme. If humanism is incompatible with far rightist politics, inclusive democracy is anti-humanist.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sue├▒o de la raz├│n produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 3
1