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Claire Berlinski (and me) on Islam and Islamism

I like this, from Claire Berlinski:

My Muslim Brotherhood threads gave rise to a bit of confusion about which book I was talking about. Obviously, I made a mistake in assuming that everyone on Ricochet was reading every word I write, 24 hours a day. Now that I think about it, that’s more than a bit silly and self-involved. A beginner’s mistake, really. Sorry, I’m learning on the job. On the bright side, I’m not the President of the United States.

Nice writing. I read on, and learned about Ms Berlinski’s take on what I now believe to be the biggest debate in the world about how to see off Islam, namely: is “Islam” the enemy, or something more like “Islamism”?

I think that, difficult though this truth is to face, the enemy is Islam, the thing itself, and that all Muslims, simply by calling themselves Muslims, give aid and comfort to the enemy, Islam. “Good Muslims” must be persuaded to stop being Muslims at all, and to leave, in large numbers. Only when large numbers do start leaving, in numbers so large and so public that the very momentum of history itself starts to drain out of Islam, will the civilised world start to get on top of this problem.

But Claire Berlinski thinks differently:

McCarthy’s entirely correct that Islamism is mainstream, rooted in Muslim scripture and favored by many prominent Islamic commentators. No one who knows anything about the subject would disagree.

But there is also significant dissent from this view in the Islamic world. Those who dissent from it are our friends and allies. Why on earth should we pronounce categorically, say, that “In Islam, homosexuality and adultery are capital offenses,” if there are practicing Muslims who think otherwise? Are we truly saying that we’re more qualified to interpret the Koran and all of its associated scholarship than Muslims who have come to another conclusion? Why would we shoot ourselves in the foot this way?

Indeed. And there were a lot of Communists who significantly dissented from actually existing Communism. But still they helped actually existing Communism, big time, not least by supplying a veneer of apparent civilisation to spread upon this totally ghastly creed. They also spent much time moaning about civilisation itself, for also not being Communist in their preferred, virtuous way. Do I say that I had – and that I have – a better grasp of what Communism really meant than these dissenters from the Communist orthodoxy? Damn right. I did and I do.

The one big thing that “practicing Muslims” must do if they are on the side of civilisation and against Islam, is to damn well stop with their practicing, and – if straight atheism is too strong for them, too cold and too true – to find a civilised way of gratifying their religious impulses instead of the barbaric one that is Islam.

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100 comments to Claire Berlinski (and me) on Islam and Islamism

  • “if straight atheism is too strong for them, too cold and too true”

    Seriously? Brian, you know I adore you and your thinking and writing, but this sort of emotional expression is beneath you. Especially when you have previously written at length, and persuasively, on how irrational it is for people to think that those who don’t agree with them must simply be crazy or in denial of “the facts”.

  • Ain’t gonna happen.

    Dereligionisation of the West took centuries after the Reformation, it is still hegemonic (name an atheist president of the USA or prime minister of Britain) and vast swathes of America in particular are still acutely religious. Considering the powerful secular forces in the West, and the virtual absence of them in the Islamic world, the chances of a mass dereligionisation are extremely remote.

    The best one can hope for is a moderation. One possibility is the decanonisation of the hadith, which moderate muslims looking for a way out can argue are not Allah’s word and were bodged together long after Mohammed took dictation from Gabriel.

    It’s just not plausible to expect a billion muslims to all dump their faith though. Ain’t gonna happen.

  • John B

    Religious impulses would seem to me to be a waste of time. Unreal, untrue and pointless. As valid as endorsing ice cream management.
    If a person has found something to be true, such as breathing being a requirement for staying alive, then it makes sense to breathe.
    However.
    Any system that requires you to beat up on other people and kill them in order to fulfil a spiritual code is clearly intolerant and unacceptable.
    One can point to the Old Testament and violent acts, the justification for which I can only really say is that it was normality at that time. God was a real and integral part of life. He made water to flow from rocks, seas and rivers to flow uphill, city walls to fall down, the sun to go backwards. It was all far more intimate than we experience in the 20th/21st Century. Playing with His rules was a bit like a child, now, playing in an electricity sub station.
    However, Jesus came along and in the full authority of God confirmed another trend that is to be found in the Old Testament, which is based on love, mercy, forgiveness, preferring others above oneself, strength in meekness, gentleness, compassion.
    So for any spiritual code to exist now, the adherents of which engage in violence and physically defeating those who go against their code, and that claims to have authority from God, is clearly a total travesty and denial of the truth and has no justification.
    If people want to live a certain way then I have no right to tell them not to live that way as long as they don’t interfere with other people who do not want to.

  • People migrate from inferior cultures to superior cultures (unless there is some other attraction, as is the case where people migrate to warmer climes). I.e. inferior cultures destroy superior cultures, given the chance.

    One day some git who teaches sociology will tumble to this basic law of cultural mixing and write a long boring book on the subject.

    Oh no, wait a moment. The above idea is not PC. Writing such a book would not be adviseable for anyone who values their career and job security. Look what happened to Thilo Sarrazin, the Bundesbank official who wrote a book questioning the wonders of multiculturalism. Towing the official line is always adviseable whether you live in Nazi Germany, Stalin’s Russia or the U.K. in 2010.

  • John Galt

    You must remember that in most muslim countries the renounciation of Islam is defined in criminal law as Apostacy and punishable to varying degrees including execution.

  • For much of Christian history, apostasy was a capital crime. Michael Servetus was executed by Calvin just for questioning the Trinity.

    My previous comment awaits in the queue on Samizdata Olympus; in the meantime I’ll reiterate that hoping for a mass dereligionisation of the islamic world is a vain hope. Whether or not one thinks that desirable, it just isn’t going to happen. So we need to think up practical ways forward. At the state level, they can range from appeasement all the way to inventing a pretext for war and nuking the middle east.

    My own view as I’ve stated before is that the only problem we have is ourselves. We have no cultural pride. The Marxist part of the western hegemonic coalition has a deathwish upon us all. The puritan half is characterised by those inadvertent betrayers of western culture who say, “we must stop Islam, but who can blame them despising our culture, we’re depraved, full of drunks, watch the X factor, who can blame them?” and in so doing despise our culture too and hasten its end as much as the marxists do.

    Islam would be powerless against a confident West. But they smell blood in the water, and that is why they have power. They see a culture that desires its own extinction. “Freedom is the cancer, Islam is the cure”, one famous “demonstration” placard said.

    Indeed. If you don’t understand that sex, drugs and rock’n’roll is the western genius, you’re part of the problem.

  • Rob

    I do wonder what will happen.

    I had a market research report sent through on “future proofing” my business (Meat) because in 2025 37% of the population will be muslim (halal considerations). No political imperative in this report, just what will be.

    It is the speed of the change that is going to shock. 15 years is no time at all culturally but what a shift in a short space of time.

    Is it likely that muslims will leave Islam? No.

    Is it likely that White British will increase birth rates to match muslim rates? No.

    So I sat there trying to think of a way to save our culture and the only strategy I could think of with a chance of working was for us all to convert to “English Islam” and take control of Islam. Much in the same way that the Romans took control of Christianity.

    It is, unfortunately, as likely as muslims leaving Islam en masse.

    What options are there? Are the only options left unthinkable? Is our culture worth the unthinkable?

    I think if a plausible, effective policy was in place to save our culture it would be enough to prevent the rise of racist extremism. Without one I fear for what might rise to power.

    I have no answers, but we need more open discussion/debate in the mainstream media before the speed of the population change leads to serious conflict and the predicted rivers of blood.

    Time is running out.

  • PeterT

    Large scale migration to where exactly? Most places on earth have fairly restrictive immigration policies. I just saw a documentary on Channel 4 about how the UK is denying asylum to an Iranian family where the daughter is wanted by the Iranian authorities. Her crime was that she distributed copies of pages from the satanic verses to her class mates. My heart bleeds for these people.

    I do not think that it necessarily follows that intelligence and atheism goes hand in hand. People are strange and come with different characteristics that may seem contradictory. The people who would chose to leave the islamic states should be among those most likely to adapt to our cultures easily (although there may be many economic migrants too – hence Bradford) but that does not mean that there won’t be many capable nuclear engineers left in Iran (although maybe a few of these are Russian!).

    People are strange and so are cultures. In the West we have managed to combine science, technology, and religion with some measure of liberty. This was a gradual process. Maybe it has to be gradual to avoid some kind of mental breakdown. As rational individualists we may mock the non-rational make-up of our culture. My view is that the non-rational part must serve some purpose and that for this reason we should respect it at some level of discourse. The Islamist may say that social liberalism is incompatible with Islam. I don’t think we are doing any good saying ‘your right, its either or, and for good measure; sir, you are an idiot’. Not making any friends or advancing civilisation here. Rather we should promote the kind of double think that exists within the Anglican church as a model for modern Islam. Religion is irrational anyway, so there is no reason (ho ho) why it shouldn’t be seen as equally valid to fundamentalist variants.

    The C of E created more atheists than Dawkins ever did.

  • Gene

    Ralph Musgrave, please pardon me for being pedantic and for singling you out, but your use of “towing the line” is a mistake I see constantly. It should be “toeing,” not towing.

    On the other hand, this mis-usage does have some application: While us peons are expected to toe the line, our betters–the Pope, leaders of political parties and such–are in fact “towing the line” to which we must all conform.

  • RRS

    Largely unremarked in these kinds if discussions is the very interesting topic of the uses made by some for their own ends of the “religious impulses” of others.

  • John B

    Indeed. If you don’t understand that sex, drugs and rock’n’roll is the western genius, you’re part of the problem.

    No Ian. That belief is the problem. It’s as good as: civilisations come and go, and, oh yes, we’re in the going phase.

    Your point, Rob, that with current trends Britain will be 37% Muslim by 2025 is something that the British really need to take on board.

    PeterT. Whatever religion is, science should not join its ranks but rather explore the whole truth.
    Doublethink is also part of the problem and unnecessary if one can cope with reality.

  • No Ian. That belief is the problem. It’s as good as: civilisations come and go, and, oh yes, we’re in the going phase.

    No John, that’s not my point at all. It’s those who believe that “decadence” is a civilisation’s downfall who then come to believe they see it everywhere and that we are in the “going” phase. The only reason we’re “going” is those people who believe we’re “going”, and use a few drunk birds in the town centre on a Saturday night as proof to themselves of this civilisational collapse they believe in.

    Basically, there is a puritan-derived belief that “propriety” is an essential of civilisation. Well, the Islamic world has no shortage of such propriety; no beer, women shrouded and closetted, a strict moral code imposed by the mutaween. And just look at them. If anyone needs proof of why beer[1] should be legal, just take a look at the one civilisation that has successfully banned it.

    [1] As Ben Franklin said, “beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy”.

  • Jamess

    I struggle to see how atheism (with all its success in Russian, China, Cambodia etc) will be the sweet pill that cures the problem of Islam, or how anyone can decry Christians for executing Servetus (which I agree, was a wrong thing to do) and also advocate nuking the Middle East to solve the muslim problem.

    Atheism cannot get beyond the idea that we are essentially a cosmic accidence with no ultimate meaning. If that is so on what grounds can we say Muslims are wrong for wanting to remove those they dislike, and where do they get this standard from?

    Also, what are the grounds for an atheist to take pride in one culture over another? That I happen to like this culture more? Why should I project my personal desires on others and insist they follow them?

    I completely agree that Islam is a problem and that the problem derives from the very nature of Islam and not just a few muslims on the peripherals of Islam; but anyone hoping that atheism will solve this problem is betting against historical reality and is exercising the type of faith that rightly gives many religions a bad name.

  • John B

    Ian. I mean saying sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll is the genius, is the problem.
    I agree that happy, free spirited living, drinking is great. (Where free spirited living becomes turned into yet another discipline such as ‘trendy living’ it is a lie, of course.
    It’s one thing I don’t like about the UK. There seems to be this force to conform that results in falseness, and senseless violence.)
    I think we agree in the concept of freedom and being free to live.
    I think perhaps you have been negatively imposed on by the Puritanical, prurient morality which is actually just using an available value system to be judgemental and put down other people.
    And I agree with you. It is awful. And destructive.

    Where people (of Islam or any other system) seek to impose on other people it is, indeed, unacceptable.

  • Jamess

    Oh, and by the way, I agree that beer is one of the many excellent proofs that God loves us.

  • Thank you for pointing out Claire Berlinkski’s article. I think she is right and you are wrong.

    The analogy between Communism and Islam, though useful in thinking about the current struggle, does not hold true all the way.

    Communism only had power for about one human lifetime. There was very little to it. It made pretty well every country it touched wretched in in pretty short order, and the deeper the communism the deeper the misery.

    Islam has more to it. I do not think it is true, and much of it (particularly Mohammed’s later teaching) is not particularly edifying. But it can edify. It has produced viable civilisations.

    And as Ian B said – and you yourself said, Brian, soon after 9-11 if I recall correctly, it ain’t gonna go away.

  • But it can edify. It has produced viable civilisations.

    I’d like to challenge that notion, Natalie, and suggest that it might have been the case that those civilizations thrived in spite of Islam, not thanks to it. I could be wrong, but I think it at least possible.

  • Hit ‘post’ too early – sorry.

    Communism only had power for about one human lifetime.

    Wait, you ain’t seen nothin yet.

    There was very little to it. It made pretty well every country it touched wretched in in pretty short order, and the deeper the communism the deeper the misery.

    One could plausibly make a similar argument about Islam. In fact, when I look at my country’s neighborhood, that is exactly what I see.

  • Verity

    Brian is correct to note that the problem is islam. Not something daintily called “islamism”. It’s the islam, stupid.

    A start would be outlawing it in civilised countries. A murderous sect that denigrates and controls half their population – females – must surely grate on dainty leftist sensibilities. But, oddly, it doesn’t.

    The only solution is to outlaw it.

    Good luck with that.

    I think much more should be made of the apparent fact that Mohammad was not just a paedophile, but an epileptic at a time when, in a static, primitive society which didn’t have much exposure to the wider world, could have been viewed as a visitation from a god. Google mohammed and epilepsy.

    Anyway, there will be no cessation of violence until this whole murderous sect is outlawed and any sneak adherents punished severely. As being caused to be dead.

    As Brian says, the problem is islam. Not some rogue offshoot of it. Islam itself is antithetical to an ordered, creative society.

  • michael farris

    The problem isn’t Islam as such but interpretations of Islam.
    (warning: gross simplification ahead)

    Essentially there are to ways of interpreting a Holy Text:

    1. Literally (ie God created the Earth in 168 hours about 6000 years ago)

    2. Metaphorically, God talking to humanity in a way that humanity can understand (a day for God might be millions of years for human beings)

    I’ve read that back when Islamic civilizations were outpacing Europe that non-literal interpretations of the Koran were allowed. Eventually there was a struggle between metaphoric and literalist interpretations, the literalists won decidedly and that coincided with the Islamic world’s retreat into traditionalism and lack of progress where it’s still festering away.

    This is also one reason why Islam does a worse job at rooting out or ameliorating social pathologies like “honor killing” or face covering or female genital mutilation none of which are part of Islam but all of which are defended on grounds of tradition and the nothing-must-change mentality that religious literalism engenders.

    The Koran only movement gaining ground in some countries is basically a positive development. The really dysfunctional parts of Islam are mostly in the hadiths. Without those the Koran itself is obtuse and self-contradictory enough that it’s hard to apply literalism to it and newer, metaphoric interpretations could arise.

  • Kim du Toit

    Simple answer: you don’t require people to leave Islam (ain’t gonna happen).

    You just redefine it for what it is: as a political system and not a religion.

    And it is a political system, with its own legal code: shari’a requires standards of conduct, entrenched code of conquest, complete submission to authority, and unelected (and therefore unaccountable) de facto leaders. (That would make it a totalitarian political system too, by the way.)

    So we call it what ot is, and pass laws against it (just as we once did against Communism and Communists).

    This, too, is not going to happen. But at least it is doable, as opposed to everything else that’s been tried so far.

  • Verity

    Kim closes with “as opposed to everything else that’s been tried so far.”

    No one’s tried nuking Mecca during ramadan. That would be pretty depressing to worldwide islam, especially when “allah” didn’t do anything about it.

    No one’s tried annexing the Saudi oilfields (and ceasing to pay the Saudis for their oil, thus taking away their ability to fund Wahhabism, the most toxic stream of the belief system) and disabling their armed forces.

    No one’s tried mass deportation of islamics.

    No one’s tried legislating against the presence of islam in their countries and destroying the mosques.

    Instead, they’re coddled. Can anyone give me any idea why that is?

    The panty bomber who blew his own bits off, and the lieutenant at Ft Hood who committed mass murder on his military colleagues, are still being fed, clothed and sheltered in a federal pen in the US.

    I think the West has lost its will to live. Or at least, what we laughingly call its “leaders” have.

    Or they see a personal advantage in coddling the islamics.

  • newrouter

    denigration of dialogue is due to the demotion of reason that took place in the ninth-century struggle between the rationalist theologians, the Mu’tazilites and their anti-rationalist theologians, the Ash’arites. Unfortunately, for those who prefer dialogue, the Ash’arites won.

    The Ash’arites’ position was that reason is so infected by men’s self-interest that it cannot be relied upon to know things objectively. What is more, there is really nothing to be known because all created things have no nature or order intrinsic to themselves, but are only the momentary manifestations of God’s direct will. Since God acts without reason, the products of his will are not intelligible to men. Therefore, in this double disparagement, reason cannot know, and there is nothing to be known.

    (Link)

  • I still think my “stop hating ourselves” plan is the best one.

  • John B

    No one’s tried annexing the Saudi oilfields (and ceasing to pay the Saudis for their oil, thus taking away their ability to fund Wahhabism, the most toxic stream of the belief system) and disabling their armed forces.

    It’s worse than that, Verity.
    People in control in the West have deliberately blocked oil supply of the West from local sources, and have ensured that we are dependent on foreign oil.

    But.

    As to Islam.
    I guess we should be free to believe and think what we wish.
    We should be prohibited from exerting coercive force on any other person.
    We should be judged only and simply on behaviour insofar as it physically effects other people.

  • Hell’s bells, I’ve been the nicey nicey one on this thread, arguing that Islam was separable from Islam. But even if I were to take the opposite view that wouldn’t oblige me to believe in banning it, or in killing those who persisted in believing it for their mere thoughts.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    There will be no peace in the world until Israel admits that is behind every shark attack anywhere in the world, and it causes all natural disasters, and that man-made global warming should be truefully labelled Mossad-made global warming.
    Did you think we wouldn’t put all the pieces together, Alisa?

  • Alisa writes, “it might have been the case that those civilizations thrived in spite of Islam, not thanks to it. I could be wrong, but I think it at least possible.”

    Or you could be right. It is entirely possible. But even that worst-case scenario would demonstrate that Islam was not historically fatal to a thriving civilization.

  • Ian B writes, “I still think my “stop hating ourselves” plan is the best one.

    Basically it is, it is indeed. There do have to be some additional nuances to this plan, such as selective killing of people who are attacking us, but basically this is a cultural war.

    But I think you are barking up the wrong tree with thinking the puritans are a significant problem.

    A thought just before I retire: every now and then I see hints that quite a few people are leaving Islam. Not in public, of course, and they would have to be leaving in public for Brian’s desired loss of momentum to come to pass. But the repression could work against them: because the defections must be secret the gap is not plugged, so to speak, until it the dyke breaks.

    This is probably wishful thinking on my part. But Muslim sources themselves worry about this.

  • Verity

    NS says that islam wasn’t fatal to a thriving civilisation. But not for want of trying.

    Islam intended to be fatal to development and thought when it took over the Middle East and Turkey and was only stopped at the Gates of Vienna. It was due to the Crusaders that it didn’t manage to conquer Europe and Britain, not want of islamic intention.

    They’re still at it.

    An integral – indeed, critical, requirement of islam is that the entire world must become islamic.

    The word “islam” means “peace” – they tell us – but actually, “islam” means “submission” in Arabic. They arrive at the “peace” definition by preaching that when the whole submits to allah, there’ll be peace.

    Puts a different slant on it, eh?

    And until the whole world submits to the diety of the dunes, there will be no peace.

    Geert Wilders is the bravest man in Europe.

  • In my comment of 11.21pm the surreal “Islam was separable from Islam” was meant to be “Islamism was separable from Islam.”

  • Verity

    With respect, NS, “islamism” was created by the politically correct thought nazis to distract with a handy bucket into which nasty islam could be tipped, as though it wer separate from islam. It is not.

    The intention is to conquer the world for allah, and only then will there be peace.

    They’ve been at it since the 9th Century. They’re focussed.

  • newrouter

    “Islamism was separable from Islam.”

    it is not. if read jihadwatch for any amount of time what bin laden et al are proclaiming is islam.

  • Natalie:

    But even that worst-case scenario would demonstrate that Islam was not historically fatal to a thriving civilization.

    Or we could both be wrong, with that not being the worst-case scenario – after all, none of those civilization are thriving any longer. Again, just a semi-educated guess.

  • Verity

    Newrouter is correct. “Islamism” and “islam” are not two different things. The extra usage is a distraction. that is all. (“Islamism” used to be a term for academic study of the belief system. Thus, people who studied islam out of interest were called “Islamists”. It is not applicable today.)

    The point of this desert belief system is that the islamics have to conquer the world for allah.

    Another point – the “up to four wives, and more if you can afford them” had/has one purpose only. One man with four women (or more if they can afford them) can breed a lot of warriors and female producers.

    I heartily endorse Newrouter’s mention of jihadwatch. It is outstanding.

  • Well actually that wives thing is more down to economics of primitive agriculture/trade in different environments. Western european farming is more suited to monagamous couples, whereas when you grow sand as your primary cash crop, multiple wives are more useful to pick it. You get a lot of polygamy in Africa too, because there it’s an advantage to have a lot of women to do the weeding, which the major agricultural problem in much of Africa. Lots of weeds. Here in western europe, it’s more a big hunky men to plough and reap problem. A lot of things are cultural; like, if your landscape is mostly stones, you do a lot of stoning. If it’s trees, you build gallows and auto da fe.

    The number of warriors isn’t affected by polygamy, because it doesn’t matter whose sperm impregnates a woman. It’s the total number of productive wombs that counts, not who is married to them.

    Still, keep it up Verity. A few more posts and I’ll be quite excited enough for a jolly good pogrom.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Ian the B, one of the virtues of the West is self-criticism. Criticising a few problems is not automatically the same as hating all of it.
    As for Islam versus wrong interpretations of Islam- that problem has bedevilled Mohammedan history since Mo went to meet his maker. However, the examples he left have fuelled all kinds of fanatics. As some people have noted, a diligent muslim would become a jihadist, because that is in the Koran. Since the muslims themselves have never been able to agree on the perfect path, how can outsiders help them?
    (And my comment about sharks, earlier, was because one of the current muslim conspiracy theories is that the shark attacks in the Red Sea are caused by Mossad-trained animals! I’ll bet the X-files is the only American show that they all watch and believe!)

  • Verity

    No, Ian B, as blithe as you are, it is to breed warriors for allah, because it is so stated in the q´ran. Something along the lines of “Men, plough your wives as the camel ploughs the desert” and then goes on but I’d nodded off by that point. The q’ran is a real snoozeroo.

    (You may have noticed, there’s not a lot of agricultural land in the ME, so work opportunities for extra boys was limited.) Allah commanded men to have even more wives “if they can afford it”.

    This is how they envisaged themselves taking more populations for allah. Because the whole world has to think allah’s the akbar!

    Also, Ian B, I suggest you read a little about taqyya and kitman. Lying and deceit, which gets you points with allah as long as it is in the promotion of islam.

  • Andy H

    Ian the B, one of the virtues of the West is self-criticism. Criticising a few problems is not automatically the same as hating all of it.

    True.

    However, pointless criticism without suggesting alternatives is a favourite tactic of those who do hate it.

  • Verity, I’m sure I’ve read all the stuff you have. Maybe more. Your presentation is interesting though. For instance, you worry that muslims want everyone in the world to be a muslim. Well, that’s true. But so do most christians as well. That’s why Christianity has missionaries and had crusades. It’s hardly a novel desire for a religion.

    My ancestors were happy, contented pagans until the Christians turned up and started sticking churches everywhere and forced everyone to worship Allah, whoops, El, whoops, Yahweh, whatever, just call him God. I’d very much like to see us kick this god of Canaan out in all his forms, myself, and as such am primarily disappointed that we’re now suffering a fresh wave of aggressve evangelists. Ideally for me, the Archbishop Of Canterbury will get his heart’s desire and formally merge the Anglican Church with Islam, then they all fuck off back to the parched limestone crags of Palestine with their nasty violent god and leave us all in peace.

    Not much chance of that, but it’s as likely as most of the other plans presented in this thread so far as I can see.

  • Verity

    Ian B writes – “That’s why Christianity has missionaries and had crusades”.

    The Crusades were against the aggression of islam into civilised, Christian Europe and Britain.

    And don’t forget, the islamic punishment for aposty is death.

    BTW, you say that I “worry that muslims want everyone in the world to be a muslim.”

    Incorrect.

    I don’t give a monkey crap what muslims want. It’s the commie left that care, thinking, wrongly, that they can use islam as a method of repression of the indigenes.

    I was waiting for the touchy atheism to come out. All your arguments were headed in that direction. Atheism, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism (have I left anyone out?) are not the point. None of them try to force their beliefs down the throats of others at the point of the sword or the detonator of a bomb. None of them has the death penalty for aposty. And none of them has a diety they believe would think killing thousands of innocents was worthy of 72 virgins and rivers of wine.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    My inner pundit cries out,’The word you want is “Apostacy”, Verity, verily!!!”

  • “Touchy atheism”? Hmm.

    I think you’ll find that Christianity has done its fair share of point-of-the-sword stuff. It just doesn’t do it now because of the Enlightenment, which was the reaction against its oriental despotism. What you’re seeing when you look at Islam is Christianity as it was in its golden age. The “civilised, christian Europe” in which Charlemagne beheaded 4,500 Saxons for refusing to convert to Christianity. That one.

    It depends how you look at it. For me, these religions; Judaism, Christianity, Islam, are all just versions of the same oriental despotism that have assailed Europe for 2000 years. It took over a thousand years to fight back against the first one and make it moderate enough to live with, and that fightback was primarily triggered by the mountains of corpses generated by the 30 Years War- a war between different factions of God worshippers over which precise way God wants to be worshipped. Now we have another wave of this thing, in its raw historic boiling-out-of-the-deserts form. I’m no fan of it, really I despise it, just in case you think I’m being a relativist dhimmi.

    But the point is, we never rid ourselves of the first wave. It seems crazy to think we’re going to rid ourselves of the second wave. So like the first wave, this second wave is going to have to be moderated to an acceptable level somehow. I dearly wish that Theodosius had lost the Battle Of The Frigidus River, or even better Constantine had lost at the Milvan Bridge, then maybe there would have been no waves to contend with. But these things are with us, and have been for 2000 years, and we’re stuck with them.

    Anyway, you’ll find that there have been lots of Christians who thought their “diety” was worth killing lots of people for. The trick is to transform the religion into an acceptably weak form, as Christianity was transformed, and that is the hard part.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    You got a lot wrong there, Ian the B. For hundreds of years, Christianity was the religion of slaves, and the lower classes. It gave them hope for a better life. When Church and State combined, then Christianity became militant- but that was in the time of Constantine!
    Also, if anyone lived up to the maxims of Jesus, they would be considered a saint- But if you try to life up to the maxims of Mo, you would become public enemy number one!

  • Fleshpots.

    It worked (to an arguable extent) in Al-Andalus before the Reconquest. Along would come these successive waves of evangelising Islamists from N Africa, the Almohads, the Almoravids, expecting a good fight, and what did they find? Lovely fountains and courtyards. Running water everywhere. People ambling around the streets making up poems. Nard in abundance. Isabel Pantoja. Thenceforth, their letters to HQ became briefer and briefer, as they succumbed to the siren call of civilisation and learned flamenco strumming. Until the next lot burst in.

    The threat of Islamism is a consequence of the fact Socialism has made us all miserable. Muslims think, not unreasonably, that it’s better to be miserable with a promise of some virgins and stuff at the end, than just miserable tout court, with bggr all to look forward to. If anyone needs deporting, it’s the socialists who got us all poor and miserable in the first place. Once we’ve got rid of them and started being human again, Islam will discover its fluffier side, just as Xtianity did. OK, so it won’t be /that/ fluffy. But it might serve.

    There’s no joy in Islam, that’s why I think it can’t last in the face of real patios with real fountains. Even the fun of having submissive women sucking your toes on demand starts to pall when you consider that when women are wrapped up 24/7 they turn into whales. The whole thing just doesn’t work, in practical engineering terms. That’s why they need these mullahs and fatwahs. No sane person stays Muslim for long without threats and mental torture.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Verity writes:

    No one’s tried nuking Mecca during ramadan. That would be pretty depressing to worldwide islam, especially when “allah” didn’t do anything about it.

    Well, considering this a libertarian blog, it is unlikely that a policy of deliberate mass murder for no other reason than to kill adherents of a belief system is supported here.

  • I predict Islam will suffer from generations of educated, financially independent women who then raise children.

    Those boys and girls will find the dissonance in Islam unbearable. Throw in some Anglicisation, and allow to simmer.

  • John B

    Ian. Your true view of “Christianity” is a very hurt view.
    Factually it is incorrect so it would be good to separate the lies from the truth.
    Read the Gospels and find any indication, whatsoever, that Jesus recommended practising violence on anyone. Where He advocated actually using force to obtain conformity to a viewpoint or belief.
    Nuke’s comment:

    Also, if anyone lived up to the maxims of Jesus, they would be considered a saint- But if you try to life up to the maxims of Mo, you would become public enemy number one!

    is the truth of it.

    Sure, people were harangued to get up and go and fight in the name of Jesus: “Deus volte!” but it was the enemy at work again, I’m afraid.
    The Kingdom of God is simply not of this world. It has effects in this world. And it can bring victory if it is allowed to have influence.
    But we also have free will.
    And your view of pre-Christian Europe is romanticised.

    Islam is at the gates, indeed. But it is only entering because our leaders have flung the gates wide and said: “Come in”
    Why have they done that? Why is the West giving itself away? Why does Obama bow before the Saudi king but pats Queen Elizabeth on the back?
    Why do we insist on using foreign oil when the US, at least, could be self sufficient?
    Why is the global warming agenda being used to transfer the West´s wealth (and thus power) to the “developing” and less transparent or accountable world?
    Sometimes I feel the word “conspiracy” is not too far fetched.

  • To clarify and correct my comment of 12.01 AM:
    Puritanical disapproval per se is not a significant problem, whether religious, medical, or feminist.

    It’s all just part of the web of mutual loathing which, seriously, is the true genius of western society – that we can live together peaceably despite incompatible views on what constitutes the good life.

    Puritanism imposed by force is a significant problem. And the modern medical / good-of-society / feminist sort of puritanism got to its present position of power through the Marxist self-hating Westerner portal.

    Ian B is partially right.

  • Rob

    This subject is a real test of libertarianism.

    Just how do you solve this issue using libertarian means?

    I like Ian Bs”like ourselves” option. But should we also dislike Islam or muslims? It would be nice in the short-term, but it wont solve the longterm culture trend.

    Most other sugestions include outlawing, mass murder, forceful state interference with birthrates etc.

    The real issue here is time

    The often quoted moderate Immam who suggested that a liberal democracy is incompatible with Isalm and the question it raises about the opinions of Muslim leaders on how this integration might take place is now irrelevent.

    Immams and muslim leaders don’t even have to think about this issue because Islam has time on its side. In 50 years time muslims will be over 50% of the population (on current trends). When the demographics are on your side there is no need to even enter the debate as your ultimate goal of a muslim state will happen regardless of ineffective govt policy.

    Overall, this shows why we should be grateful for our liberal democracy. Maybe just that acknowledgement is enough to make us “like ourselves”. We definately have something worth protecting. It also shows the faults of democracy in allowing a future majority to opress a minority.

    Is our liberal democracy our property?

    If so, does that allow us to protect it with force just as we would protect our physical property with force?

    Is there a liberal, democratic solution to this when the enemies of a liberal democracy seek to use demographics to exert the tyranny of the majority?

    Do you suspend democracy to protect our birthright?

    In particular, seeing as libertarians are not usually wedded to the idea of democracy, how do we feel about its suspension considering all the other risks that brings?

    In my mind, as soon as I consider the suspension of democracy I start to think of its value as a check on power too.

    I find all this fascinating and worrying at the same time.

  • Andrew Duffin

    “only when large numbers do start leaving…will the civilised world start to get on top of this problem.”

    No. That is not the way it works.

    We either fight them, or we lose. It’s that simple.

    Those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it, and in this case there is ample history for us to understand.

    Perhaps we have lost the confidence and determination which once allowed us to do so.

  • David Bouvier

    There is an interesting debate to be had on this, but frankly there is too much ignorance and prejudice on display from a significant proportion of the posters, so that the overall conversation feels to me like one of closed minds in a closed conversation, rather like a discussion of angels on pinheads, or the SWP on how to forment revolution.

    I was particularly struck by the deterministic anti-individualistic suggestion that the absence of agricultural land in the Middle East led the bored youth of the area going invading, or something. Has the writer heard of the “fertile crescent”, the agriculture of the Nile flood plane, the complex irrigation schemes of Mesopotamia, or the ebb and flow of nomadic vs. settled lifestyles in North Africa. The Levant is one place that it is likely agriculture was invented.

    As for a civilisation that has “successfully banned alcohol” I am not sure if you mean Dubai on a Saturday night, a Saudi prince’s “farm”, or a basement “entertainment room” (not visible from the street) in a middle class Kuwaiti suburb? Despite the potential penalties, it is of a status somewhere between alcohol and cannabis in Europe. Where it is banned, many people do drink, everyone knows it, nobody says, and occassionally someone gets made an example of – probably for upsetting the wrong person.

    There a plenty of African Christians believe homosexuals should be killed, and who are actively supporting or passively condoning attacks on them, and many of our bishops refuse to strongly oppose them on a theological or political level.

    I assume the awful fascistic Verity is the same creature as spits out bile on Coffee House. Lets exterminate people for wrong-belief. Lovely.

    I assume she has no objections to Stonewall committing mass murder of people who don’t go on Gay Pride marches – since that is more or less equivalent to here view.

  • Rob

    David Bouvier,

    I’m afraid unless you put up with “ignorance and prejudice” you will not be having a debate at all.

    It is only through debate that these views are exposed for what they are. If you walk away from what is a very liberal forum here where do you have the debate?

    Next you’ll be wanting a right to not be offended.

  • ManikMonkee

    I recommend going to the west coast of Turkey to see how Islam could work out,
    Lots of people drinking beers, smoking pot, girls in mini skirts, yet they stop it for Ramadan and have a celebration on Eide, exchange gifts and kill a goat.
    I have a Turkish friend who informs me that Ramadan is a good way to clean out the system for a few weeks a year
    I once read about how many western people can be considered “Cultural Christians”, they may never go to Church but they still celebrate Christmas, think that Christianity has some basic principals that help get on with life and offer comfort for death.
    Anyone who takes the bible literally including the numerous capital offenses it advocates would be a psychopath and the same goes for Islam however I know there are a huge amount of people who just regard it as their ancestor’s culture, they are “culturally islamic”
    There’s a similarity between the psychology of people who embrace concepts such as anarcho-capitalism or libertarianism and people who take literal interpretations of Islam. Its an all or nothing attitude, libertarians derive all their principals from basic premises such as self-ownership or the harm principal. They will accept nothing that deviates from this. Likewise “Islamists” accept nothing that deviates from the words of the Haddith and Koran.
    Most people don’t think this way which is why I presume “cultural islam” will spread.

    I’m an atheist liberal and personally abhor all the Abrahamic religions. They’re primitive retarded shite but saying that you can’t be a Muslim and disagree with or Ignore the Koran is like saying that you can’t be a christian without believing in creationism or stoning people who collect sticks on a Sunday
    Its just not true

  • John B

    Manikmonkee, to repeat earlier comment, please show me where Jesus recommends killing or the death penalty?
    You are free to feel or think whatever you choose and that is not, or should not be, a problem for anyone else.
    But please for your own sake just be accurate.

  • Well, just to be awkward, Matthew 10:

    “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

    That particular part of Matthew can be easily interpreted to mean that believers should use violence against non-believers, even their own family.

    But of course it would be extremely peevish to claim that the general message of the Gospels is violent. You need to cherry-pick to find justifications. There are plenty of counter-examples. As you’re aware John, I’m a rabid atheist, but I would be lying if I said Jesus brought a message of violence to Earth. The Gospels are full of ethics and morals (I may not personally agree with them all, but that isn’t the point). The point in the end is what parts of a religious text persons choose to focus on. Jihadi muslims certainly can find justifications for violence in the Quran and Hadith, but we must also remember they’re focussing on those parts and ignoring many other parts of it. This is probably the classic mentality of the religious fanatic; clinging to one or two passages and building an entire belief system around those specific words and ignoring other parts they don’t like.

    This is the interesting problem with the “Verity School” of religious analysis. It ends up saying the fundamentalist muslims are correct, and any muslim who prefers a more moderate interpretation of their texts is wrong. It says that the 911ers were indeed being islamically correct in their actions. That’s not very helpful really, is it?

  • “We either fight them, or we lose. It’s that simple.”

    I would tend to agree, on the understanding that (a) “them” refers not to Muslims per se but to those who would attempt to gain and wield political power in order to implement restrictions on personal freedoms of non-followers (a predictable possibility if my and others’ suggestions of revitalising our own culture do not produce the hoped for switch in loyalties in time to meet the population bubble)
    and
    (b) That these will not be pitched battles on old fashioned battlefields, but exercises in civil disobedience leading to a kind of simmering urban guerrilla warfare accompanied by a hi-tech propaganda war. This should be happening already, against such monsters as the EU, the ALBA governments here in SAm, etc, but we are all too comfortable.

  • Sunfish

    Verity, Verity, Verity…

    Are you seriously suggesting that we should dress up as ghosts and ride through Muslim neighborhoods and burn giant wooden lower-case t’s?[1]

    That makes Ian’s forced examinations of Islamic mommy parts of two weeks ago look almost civilized.

    Endivio:

    Who cares if Islam never becomes dear and fluffy and embraces the Sermon on the Mount as delivered by the Prophet[2] Jesus? As long as its practitioners don’t run around killing or butchering people their faith is their problem. And any individual Muslim who steps out of line and starts doing that stoning or honor killing or FGM crap, we have cops and courts and prisons and gallows if we only have the sack to use them as needed.

    [1] Standing for “time to leave,” natch.

    [2] Their word, not mine. I’m pretty sure that Jesus outranks a mere prophet.[3]

    [3] And he too can hit a curve ball! Mohammed can barely do a sacrifice bunt!

  • Johnathan Pearce

    IanB: in talking about the strengths of the West, and of the post-Enlightenment West in particular, I think we need a better word than “decadent”; that word is too close to “decline” or “decay”.

  • A lot of things are cultural; like, if your landscape is mostly stones, you do a lot of stoning. If it’s trees, you build gallows and auto da fe.

    Not just ‘a lot’ – most things are cultural, Ian. The problem with Islam is not its religious parts, but its underlying culture, which happened to originate in the desert of SA. Both Judaism and Christianity have very different cultural origins.

  • Verity

    Sunfish, A rather,impenetrable, naive post … “dress up like ghosts” … oh, dear! What are “islamic mommy parts”? And something about hitting “a curve ball” …
    We’re talking about the sons of the prophet, not the Houston Oilers.

    ManikMonkey – If you like Turkey you would love “A Fez of The Heart” by Jeremy Seal. It’s enchanting and terribly funny.

    Some posting here don’t seem to have any familiarity with the q’ran, leading one to wonder what is their point in posting when they have no points of reference.

  • That makes Ian’s forced examinations of Islamic mommy parts of two weeks ago look almost civilized.

    As I clarified Sunfish, it was examinations of all children, not just Islamic ones. How would we know who is a muslim anyway? I just figured that it would be a good chance to finally civilise the Jews[1] at the same time.

    I did make it quite clear that point (10) wasn’t at all libertarian, although I have this theory that children have rights under libertarianism, so on that basis preventing child genital mutilation is really rather libertarian after all. The good thing about it is that it’s not risking giving public health wallahs an excuse for making shit up; either the bits are there or they aren’t, it’s very Boolean.

    [1] And Americans, who developed a perverse taste for young foreskin in, yes, you guessed it, Victorian Times. I had a helluva amusing argument over at Moonbattery a while ago with the massed ranks of American Conservatism, trying (and failing) to convince them that the idea of leaving a baby’s penis intact is not some kind of communist conspiracy[2].

    [2] Puritiism again, btw. It was supposed to stop boys touching themselves. Nowadays defenders of CGM in Yankeedom invariably extoll its virtues in puritist[3] terms- “cleaner”, “healthier”, “neater”, etc.

    [3] Modern puritism having entirely devolved to what a Freudian would call obsessive compulsive anal-retentitism, or something like that. Everything has to be clean, and neat, and just so. Even your cock[4].

    [4] Did you know that labiaplasty is on the rise in our new Puritan Age? Middle class[5] American women think their nether lips are messy and need tidying up. Seriously. This is a society on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

    [5] This is a euphemism for the modern bourgeoise. That is, Upper Class. Dave Cameron is called “middle class”. He’s worth 30 million quid.

  • Verity-

    Some posting here don’t seem to have any familiarity with the q’ran, leading one to wonder what is their point in posting when they have no points of reference.

    I think the problem here is that many of the people posting here are quite well read in matters of philosophy, religion, politics etc and thus have a more nuanced perspective than your parroting of Robert Spencer with an added whiff of crematoria smoke mixed in. As our more religious correspondents would no doubt point out, it’s possible for a critic to know every word of a religious text but not understand it theologically.

    I could sit here all day picking out nasty quotes from the Bible and, say, John B, would then point out that you can’t understand the Christian faith like that.

    The problem with the Spencerite analysis in its raw form is that it leads to a conclusion that there is no hope for Islam because it begins with that presumption and builds a case to make it unavoidable. It thus requires that every Muslim follow the wahabbi/islamist philosophy. Basically Spencer sets himself up as the divine authority on the Quran, like any mullah, declaring that no other interpretation is possible. We had that once in Christianity from Catholicism (Spencer is a devout Catholic, hmmm) until some people put their hands up and said “look, we don’t see our faith that way, we have this other interpretation”. It is thus ironic that Spencer constantly declares that the great difference between Christianity and Islam is that Christinaity is open to multiple interpretations and Islam isn’t, when he is a devout member of the very Church that denied divers interpretations for a thousand years.

    We’re interested in whether Islam can reform, and how that may occur. That is what matters. There seems to be serious mythmaking occurring in the anti-jihad community, the chief myth being that the Quran is everything extremist muslims claim it is; without contradiction, perfectly formed, indisputable in meaning. That is, it is the only indisputable writing more than a couple of words long in human history.

    Who gave you and Spencer the definitive interpretation of the Quran? The Archangel Gabriel?.

  • Sunfish

    Ian:

    As I clarified Sunfish, it was examinations of all children, not just Islamic ones.

    That makes it all better. At least your indiscriminate intrusion into the genitals of other peoples’ kids knows no religious or ethnic grounds. All the little ones can have their junk touched to keep out people who’s religion you think is icky, not just the children of parents with icky religions.

    Because, yes, children have rights. And one of them is to not be touched to protect you from the 5x-daily-praying monster under your bed.

    Verity:

    Some posting here don’t seem to have any familiarity with the q’ran, leading one to wonder what is their point in posting when they have no points of reference.

    Try “Some posting here could almost give a damn what’s in the koran.” I have enough keeping up with the stupidity inside my own religion without worrying about the stupidity contained within Islam. Meaning: I don’t give a damn. People who play by civilized rules should be left alone and people who don’t should be dealt with as the law provides and may Allah make them try and resist arrest.

    Their religion is not relevant to anyone other than them. And you, apparently.

    Why the fascination? Learning Arabic and getting a rug for Christmas, are you?

  • Verity

    Ian B – Your well-taken point No. 5 … Yes, this is a hoot and so inept that it can only have come from Dave himself.

    It’s not just the money – that’s the pounds sterling 36m – but I believe that both he and his wife are related to the royal family.

    Dave’s one creepy little pr guy if he thinks the British, who he’s never actually met, would be gulled by this. Next up, we’ll be told that his old grandad ran a whelk stall dahn Souffend.

  • Sunfish-

    That makes it all better. At least your indiscriminate intrusion into the genitals of other peoples’ kids knows no religious or ethnic grounds. All the little ones can have their junk touched to keep out people who’s religion you think is icky, not just the children of parents with icky religions.

    As I said, it’s a brief visual medical examination. I think every kid already gets poked and prodded by doctors and nurses, I know I was lots as a kid. I really don’t see any great harm in a visual inspection by a medical professional. I hate to break this to you, but doctors see nekkid people quite a lot. I think everybody’s just about used to it now. Mind you, i’m not an American. Are your good women still describing everything between neck and knees as “the liver”?

    Remember our devout Jewish commentator Gabriel who got banned? I remember in one thread that, on libertarian grounds, infant circumcision should be naturally treated as a serious assault. He then said, well if you ban it, all the Jews will have to leave. And I basically said, well, if you’re that obsessed with cutting up little boys’ cocks, I don’t much want you here frankly. The same goes obviously for the Mueslis. They can not violate their children, or they can fuck off. It’s a reasonable enough request, I think.

  • John B

    Jesus does not tell His disciples to use violence. He does not tell anyone to use violence against another person. He always, in every circumstance advocates His disciples to prefer others above themselves. To seek the advantage of others before their own advantage. He does not advocate subjugating other people by force. Jesus at every instance tells His followers to be physically peaceful and benevolent.
    The Qu’ran does directly instruct its followers to subjugate the infidel, and if necessary, to lie and deceive him into subjection or conversion.
    Jesus says that because He advocates a message and a way that is uttely opposed by the enemy of mankind, there will be battles and conflict and that His followers will find that they have enemies in their own households, etc.
    The whole chapter of Matthew 10 makes this very clear and to read it as a call to initiate violence would be dishonest.
    The chapter is about His disciples going out into the world and the sort of response they can expect.
    vs 16: “Behold I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. therefore be ye wise as serpents but gentle as doves.”
    Where truth meets untruth there will inevitably be conflict.
    I have never met such angry people as thwarted politicians / con men!

    Understand the “Christian faith”?
    It’s about encountering God. Not understanding a faith.
    Reality is the bottom line.
    Just what’s real.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    IanB, yes, I remember only too well the extraordinary email joust we had with Gabby. He played the cultural relativist card to the nth degree, and just would not accept that was what he was doing. He was a man who talked a good game about the need for rules and suchlike, but then became unable to realise how the idea of equality before the law applies to, well, everyone.

    By the way, I did some checks, and it turns out that G. is a 20-something year old associated with Oxford Uni with the surname of Martindale. I always suspected there was something was rum about him.

  • Jonathan: why disclose his personal info here, and how does his last name make him ‘rum’?

  • Paul Marks

    I believer there are two basic questions:

    Are the basic texts of Islam evil?

    And.

    Is it possible to be a believeing Muslim without following those texts?

    On the first question – I can not read Classical Arabic (or any form of Arabic), so I am in the hands of those who can.

    However, such people as Robert Spencer have convinced me that wickedness runs through the basic texts (not just the “sayings of the Prophet” but the Koran itself) – and that it is the nice sounding “tolerant” versus that are out of context or unusual (often early versus – dicated by the relative weakness of the Muslims at that time).

    An athiest does not believe the New Testiment – but a sensible athiest does not claim the New Testiment to be wicked. So the alleged wicked nature of the basic texts of the Islamic faith is a terrible claim – terrible if true.

    And I fully except that there are Muslims (good and brave people) who interpret the texts differently. But the terrible thing is that the main Islamic scholars (both of the Sunni and of the Shia) seem to AGREE with the interpretation of Spencer and other critics of Islam – they just do not like to be recorded saying so (for fear the infidels will hear and be warned).

    “But Paul most Muslims do not sit around reading the texts – mostly it is just background music to them, in a language they do not understand”.

    Which makes the Muslim an unexploded bomb – someone who might turn back to the doctrines (rediscover them – or have them presented to him by activists) at any time.

    When General Gordon first visited the Sudan he found a nominally Muslim population in certain areas – with bare breasted women, and wine drinking and so on.

    This gave him a false impression – for when he next visited the Sudan (only a few years later) he found not the handful of fanatics he expected, but a mass movement of what we have to call “Islamists” – busy trying exterminate Christians, Pagans, and “moderate” (i.e. not serious) Muslims. Certainly some Muslims were loyal to Gordon Pasha – but they died with him.

    I would argue that they were better men than their enemies – they were outnumbered, and their courage was a cool one. No rabid hatred or hopes of heaven (with virgins to use for all eternity) in return for killing – just a cool determination to be decent people and not betray friends (regardless of the cost). However, better people or not – can they be claimed to be better Muslims?

    And in France….. only a few years ago French people often said “our Muslims are different – the women dress in a Western way, the Muslims drink wine and act and think like any other French person”.

    It was a cruel illusion – it blow away on the wind. Secular France did not, after all, provide something that most Muslims wished to assimilate in to.

    However……………..

    There is a strain in Islamic practice that is not text based at all.

    The Sufi tradition are further away from Brian’s rationalism than mainstream Islam (both Sunni and Shia) is – indeed they are mystical to their core.

    But, of course, that is the very reason they are not text based.

    Those who go to study under a Sufi master (long enough to become one themselves) are NOT the sort of people who will murder women and children – indeed they are the sort who will lay down their lives to protect them (including infidel women and children).

    Their search for a “personal spritual relationship with God” may be utter rubbish (the athiest tradition would teach so), but if we are to judge people by their actions – they are good people.

  • Paul Marks

    Oh the insularity of the British.

    For the record (not that it will do the slightest good) infant male circumcision is quite normal among nonJewish Americans (not just Jews).

    No doubt that means that Christian Americans are almost as evil as Jews (and should leave….).

    I have only read a couple of comments above – I choose not to read the rest.

  • Duncan

    For the record Ian I’m not Jewish, (pretty much atheist from childhood really for lack of a religious upbringing, though I guess my family was Episcopalian..), and wouldn’t become “uncircumcised” if it were an option.
    Just ‘sayin.

    Other than that I think you are mostly right on.

  • For the record (not that it will do the slightest good) infant male circumcision is quite normal among nonJewish Americans (not just Jews). No doubt that means that Christian Americans are almost as evil as Jews (and should leave….).

    Yes Paul, I stated that quite clearly. Just cut out the “almost” there.

    It is really more understandable when primitive tribes carry out these practises. They do not know any better. But for people in advanced, educated societies to do so is unjustifiable, if you believe in the human dignity of self-ownership which, surely, is the basis of libertarian philosophy.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Ian B., do we really own ourselves, even when we are children? Do we not rather become self-owners as we grow up, and become adults? This might be a good discussion point for another thread.

  • Well, it’s a bit of a gray area. But we generally don’t allow parents indiscriminate ownership of children; you’re not allowed to murder them or saw their legs off for fun, or starve them to death in a cellar.

    If somebody decided to snip off their child’s little toes with bolt croppers, they’d be guilty of grievous bodily harm. I think the same principle applies.

    Basically for me there are some people unable to fend for themselves or make their own decisions- young children, the senile, the insane, the mentally handicapped. I don’t think that incapacity reduces them to the status of property. That’s an arbitrary moral judgement of course. But the alternative would allow such persons to be arbitrarily owned and inflicted upon at whim by their owners. I don’t think that would be a very good thing.

  • John B

    It is not an ideological issue to me but from what I have heard from researchers involved in infertility treatment, and others, the foreskin can conceal a wealth of bacteria of the type than can disable spermatazoa.
    So I guess one can find a health reason in there, too.
    For females ‘circumcision’ is obviously insane.

  • John B.: I heard this point too, and it does sound like health concern. OTOH, I do agree that circumcision is a violation of the child’s body. Problem is, it is such a minor violation – almost on par with clipping the child’s toenails (as opposed to his actual toes) against his will – that it makes me somewhat suspicious of anyone who brings it up as a serious issue.

    I am still at a loss as to why it was necessary to reveal Gabriel’s personal information here, especially after he has been banned quite some time ago.

  • John B.: I heard this point too, and it does sound like health concern. OTOH, I do agree that cir…..sion is a violation of the child’s body. Problem is, it is such a minor violation – almost on par with clipping the child’s toenails (as opposed to his actual toes) against his will – that it makes me somewhat suspicious of anyone who brings it up as a serious issue.

    I am still at a loss as to why it was necessary to reveal Gabriel’s personal information here, especially after he has been banned quite some time ago.

  • Rob

    Ian B makes a good point about little toes. If the foreskin is fair game then just what other levels of abuse can be justified by cultural norms.

    However, it is not just religions that get these cultural norms confused. I would add abortion to the list of abuses justified by cultural norms.

    I think this quote from Ian B sums up why:

    “I don’t think that incapacity reduces them to the status of property”

    I say that as an atheist (just to head off the predicatable at the pass).

  • Alisa stays “…it might have been the case that those civilizations thrived in spite of Islam, not thanks to it.”

    I think she has an excellent point. One suspects those Islamic cultures that were successful, to the extent that they were, were dominated by relatively tolerant versions of the creed. The less ‘fundamental’ they were the more successful.

    What success they currenty enjoy have is ‘piggybacked’ on western civilisation. Without oil…

  • ManikMonkee says “I recommend going to the west coast of Turkey to see how Islam could work out, Lots of people drinking beers, smoking pot, girls in mini skirts, yet they stop it for Ramadan and have a celebration on Eide, exchange gifts and kill a goat.”< ?i>

    He missies the point. Turkey is that way because of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Turkish Republic. He created Kemalism a series of modernising cultural and economic reforms to secularise the newly created Republic.

    The state he built kept Islam at a distance from power and unable to be too unreasonable. Without secular Kemalism turkey would be a very different place. Islamicists would overturn the Turkish constitution if they could and keep nibbling at it politically.

  • Looks like my comment on ManikMonkee got lost when it was fed in, here is the rest of it…

    He missies (MankiMonkee) the point.

    Turkey is the way it is because of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Turkish Republic.

    He created Kemalism a series of modernising cultural and economic reforms to secularise the newly created Republic.

    The state he built kept Islam at a distance from power and unable to be too unreasonable. Without secular Kemalism turkey would be a very different place.

    Islamicists would overturn the Turkish constitution if they could and keep nibbling at it politically.

  • Problem is, it is such a minor violation – almost on par with clipping the child’s toenails (as opposed to his actual toes) against his will – that it makes me somewhat suspicious of anyone who brings it up as a serious issue.

    Not half as suspicious as it makes me of anyone who’d use such a ridiculous comparison.

    The foreskin is a bodily organ, containing blood vessels and a rich supply of nerve endings. It serves a purpose, which is to protect the glans penis. Once you remove it, it is gone forever.

    Toenails, on the other hand, are a naturally replenishing material, which evolved to need trimming as they grow. That is why babies don’t go into clinicial shock if you trim their toenails.

    If you like, we could arrange for you to be strapped to a board and have your clitoral hood hacked off without anaesthetic, and then you could possibly appreciate the difference between flesh and keratin.

  • I would add abortion to the list of abuses justified by cultural norms.

    I’d be inclined to agree, Rob. I’ve said before here at Samzidata, including in a couple of very long threads a while back, I can’t find any libertarian justification for it, especially now that we have freely available reliable contraception. I’ve never seen a convincing argument for separating the pre- and post-born person in terms of rights.

  • It is not an ideological issue to me but from what I have heard from researchers involved in infertility treatment, and others, the foreskin can conceal a wealth of bacteria of the type than can disable spermatazoa. So I guess one can find a health reason in there, too.

    That’s basically the typical public health nutters’ post-hoc justificationism. Circumcision has been touted as curing virtually everything at some time, from diseases to mental illness to a whole host of imaginary “nervous” conditions that medicine no longer believes in. As usual we find the standard puritist obsession with the virtue of “cleanliness”. But it’s pretty obvious that if the foreskin reduces fertility, natural selection would have eradicated it long ago. That it is still there on every healthy baby boy is a strong indication of biological utility.

  • Re “It is not an ideological issue to me but from what I have heard from researchers involved in infertility treatment, and others, the foreskin can conceal a wealth of bacteria of the type than can disable spermatazoa. So I guess one can find a health reason in there, too.”

    If having a foreskin were any sort of disbenefit to reproduction you can be reasonably sure that evolution would have by now edited it out from the gene pool of not only mankind but many mammals. So I think that knocks at least a small hole in the ‘Health reasons’ theory.

    The sole surviving human forskins would be posessed by creationists 🙂

    who incidentally should probably preserve them on the basis that man is made in the image of God and it would be sacrilidge to deface that image in any way.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Alisa, let me explain: the only reason I mentioned G’s age at all is that just before he got booted off, he claimed, without a shred of evidence, that he had read far, far more than anyone else here (how you prove that?), which might be rather hard to prove if you happen to be in your 20s and the folk you are attacking are older. (I am 44). Also, he often made out, or gave the impression, that he was far older than he was, often going on about the wonderful moral values of the 1950s as if he was talking from personal experience. To find out that he was much younger came as a bit of a surprise.

    I don’t want to “blow the cover” of commenters or violate the desire for anonymity, but when a person makes assertions in the way that he did and in such an obnoxious manner, it seems fair enough to do what I did.

  • Jonathan, I am just a guest here, but since you were attentive enough to reply, I am sorry to say that I remain unconvinced. Many commenters make all kinds of claims of knowledge and wisdom, this is so common as to go almost without notice. As long as they don’t outright lie about their age (and even if they do), such claims warrant no intrusion into their privacy. The fact that you were surprised by Gabriel’s real age doesn’t warrant such intrusion either. And what bothers me even more is that you saw the need to publish his last name. What purpose was that supposed to serve? So that we can go and check his real age for ourselves? BTW, being young is no crime, and it is possible to be very young and still manage to read more than some older folks (of course, what one takes from such reading is a totally different matter).

    Anyway, this is just my opinion, FWIW. I mean no disrespect, but I was very unpleasantly surprised by this. I truly hope this is a one-off, as I would hate to see this blog to go down that path.

  • My comment has been held for approval by Samizdata’s editorial pantheon, and if I am not some odious spammer, loony toon conspiracy theorist, raving r…st buffoon or worthless troll (which I am not, last I checked), chances are my remarks will appear in due course.

    I am no longer puzzled, nor am I confused. I looked here a long time ago and all was explained. Sigh.

  • John B

    Sorry Ian.
    Like I said, I don’t really have any commitment one way or the other but your vehement Dawkinsian take on things will soon have you justifying eugenics.
    I mean, why not?

  • Anyway, for those who don’t think MGM is an issue, take a look at this-

    http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=88286

    That’s the UN, frantically mutlilating Africans, to prevent AIDS… a disease which first broke out among American, predominantly circumcised, males. This is a big issue. The public health movement, as we know, is largely a carnival of cranks, and one of the carnival is the circumcisers. The AIDS epidemic is bringing them much joy; a whole new pretext! It’s disgusting.

    I can’t remember precisely what was in my original comment, but to praesis it as a reply to Alisa’s typically boneheaded “clipping toenails” analogy, I would humbly suggest that anyone who can’t tell the difference between healthy, living flesh and redundant keratin is in a sad mental state indeed.

  • Oh, okay, figured it out. For some reason the filter doesn’t like a link to a UN website? Crikey.

    Editor: (1) no (2) do not discuss the filters in public, use e-mail.

  • Some odd stuff coming up.

    Paul, I’m bemused by your use of words like “wicked” and “evil”. As an atheist, I don’t think the New Testament is “wicked’, but I do think its morailty is incompatible with post-enlightenment ideals of freedom and individualism, and I tend to agree with Nietzsche that Christianity was, on the whole, bad news for Western civilization from the word go. However, that discussion probably belongs elsewhere.

    As for circumc-n, I too agree that it’s a violation of a child’s body, and that it’s utterly barbaric: personally I don’t think I could be friends with someone who did that to a child except where it was medically advised for some reason. Toenails, Alisa, grow back: foreskins don’t.

  • John B; I wouldn’t count myself as “Dawkinsian”. I believe the theory of evolution is correct, certainly. However, as I’ve stated here quite recently, I do not believe that science can be used as the basis of an ethical/moral system. (For Humean reasons). I do not support “scientism”. In fact, I think it is a profoundly dangerous thing; not least because it does indeed tend to lead to eugenics and other ghastly consequences.

  • Valerie

    Ian B,
    There are far more than “a few drunks in the town center” in both our countries, along with milliions of unwed mothers and their taxpayer supported children. Not to mention drug addicts who make the lives of many unbearable on a regular basis. Propriety makes life far more pleasant than the lack of it.

  • Ian, your link, as disturbing as it is, does not support your point. When I was in preschool, they forced us to drink chocolate milk – does that make drinking chocolate milk in general offensive? I don’t think so.

  • John B

    Phil A is correct.
    Turkey has been sliding quite quickly to a Islamic-fundamentalist outlook over the past few years.
    It is interesting that an organisations that has been promoting this over time has been one funded by George Soros. (“TESEV, the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, is a non-governmental organization sponsored by George Soros” – MEMRI Special Report October 10, 2006, Special Dispatch No.1313.)
    Now why would that be?
    Those heady days on the Turkey west coast will soon be very much a thing of the past, I fear.
    Freedom is drying up all around us.

    Ian. It sounds like you want to have your moral cake and eat it. Eugenics was just nice scientific people trying to do the right thing.

  • “When I was in preschool, they forced us to drink chocolate milk – does that make drinking chocolate milk in general offensive?”

    Alisa, did it hurt when you drank the chocolate milk?

  • Mike, I have already conceded in one of the comments above that c-n is an aggression.

    To your technical point: yes, it did hurt, although not in the same way and not to the same degree (it made me gag every time, and to this day I can’t touch the stuff). They also used to pull our teeth without anesthetics, which were unavailable there and then, but the teeth still needed pulling from a medical POV. None of that is relevant to the moral debate: an aggression is an aggression, pain or not.

  • Nuke Gray

    A lot of trouble occurs when local circumstances are taken as absolutes for all times and places. For instance, in the Middle East, male circumcision has health benefits, and it might have for other places. No-one has ever claimed that female circumcision is done for any health reasons, and I look forward to the day when stem cell technology will enable us to restore any and all organs.