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A cursory search of the soul

“France has an antisemitism problem – and not just from the gilets jaunes”, writes Cécile Guerin in the Guardian.

With a headline like that the obvious next question is where else is France’s anti-semitism coming from, besides the gilets jaunes?

France, like every nation in Christendom, has a long history of Christian hatred of Jews on religious grounds, which gradually morphed into the “traditional” anti-semitism of the far right, exemplified by Jean-Marie Le Pen. That tendency is by no means extinct. I had forgotten that despite his expulsion from the le Front National by his daughter, Le Pen père remains a serving Member of the European Parliament. But though it still has venom, that style of anti-semitism is clearly in decline and is not the source of the upsurge in recent years. So where is it coming from? To answer this question, it surely makes sense to look at the most serious manifestation of Jew-hatred: the murder of Jews. The following is a list of Jews who were killed for being Jews in France this century:

– In 2006 Ilan Halimi, 23, a Jewish mobile phone salesman, was kidnapped and tortured to death over a period of three weeks. The leader of the gang that killed him, Youssouf Fofana, arrived in court shouting, “Allah will be victorious”.

– In 2012 Mohammed Merah, shot and killed three French soldiers, two of whom were, like him, Muslims. He then moved on to the Ozar Hatorah Jewish day school in Toulouse. The Wikipedia article records that “Four people were killed at the school: 30-year-old Rabbi Jonathan (Yonatan) Sandler; his two oldest (out of three) children, Aryeh, aged 6, and Gabriel, aged 3; and eight-year-old Miriam Monsonego, daughter of the head teacher.” Merah said in a call to a TV station that the killings were done “to uphold the honour of Islam”.

– In 2015 Amedy Coulibaly, a supporter of ISIS and associate of the two brothers who had carried out the Charlie Hebdo massacre two days earlier, and who had himself killed a policewoman the previous day, entered a kosher supermarket in Paris and took hostages. He murdered four of them, all Jews. According to Wikipedia, “Coulibaly stated that he targeted the Jews at the Kosher grocery to defend Muslims, notably Palestinians”. It should be noted that during the seige a Muslim employee of the supermarket, Lassana Bathily, courageously hid people from Coulibaly in a cold storage room.

– In 2017 Sarah Halimi was killed by Kobili Traoré, a native of Mali “who shouted about religious ideas in Arabic during the murder”. One could argue that since her killer was not a French citizen her murder is not relevant to a discussion of French anti-semitism. But it is certainly relevant to anti-semitism in France, and by a cruel irony, Sarah Halimi was a relative of Ilan Halimi, the first entry on this list.

– In 2018 an 85 year old Holocaust survivor, Mireille Knolle, was murdered. The authorities have arrested Yacine Mihoub, a Muslim neighbour of Ms Knoll who she had known since he was a child and Alex Carrimbacus whom Mihoub had met in prison. Carrimbacus has claimed that Mihoub called out “Allah Akbar” after killing her.

My list was compiled from memory, backed up by the Wikipedia article on antisemitism in 21st century France. It may contain mistakes or omissions; if you see any please let me know in the comments. But whatever its deficiencies, it is doing better than the Guardian article on anti-semitism in France that I linked to at the start of this post. That has plenty about the far right and a little about the far left but omits mention of Islam entirely.

Cécile Guerin’s article ends with the words, “More soul-searching and longer-term solutions are needed”, but if she cannot bring herself to say the words “Islam” or “Muslim” in an article about French anti-semitism, when so far as I can judge every single anti-semitic murder in France during the 21st century had a Muslim as the sole or leading perpetrator and was proclaimed by the killers themselves to have been done in the name of Islam, then she is not serious about seeking a long term solution. Perhaps she should search her own soul a little harder.

60 comments to A cursory search of the soul

  • pete

    Natalie, you forget that all bad things done by people who claim to be Muslims are nothing to do with Islam because Islam is the religion of peace, and by committing crimes such as you list the perpetrators clearly demonstrate that they are not really Muslims at all.

    Please note that this reasoning is not a general rule. For example, when a right wing person commits a terrible crime it immediately brings all right wing people under suspicion and we must immediately vilify every last one of them.

  • George Atkisson

    As in the US, Muslims are considered an untouchable victim group, and they are without agency, striking out only in desperation at their oppressors. It is a philosophy that reduces Muslims to the level of sub-humans, but it gives those who follow it the opportunity to display their moral superiority as protectors of the downtrodden. There is a noticeable quirk, however. Violence by one Muslim must never cast aspersions upon all Muslims, who are blameless. As opposed to any violence by a white male, for which all white males are irredeemably guilty.

    The Red Queen had nothing on the torturous ‘logic’ of modern Progressives.

    Update: Pete – You noticed as well. Good to have confirmation.

  • terence patrick hewett

    More than 40 years ago, the late Conor Cruise O’Brien witheringly described the London popular press with its “cockiness, ignorance, carelessness, prurience, innuendo, and lip-service to the highest moral standards”. It was an excellent description, to which one would have to add that the words might now be used of all our papers, at any rate at their worst.

    He also said that anti-Semitism was a “light sleeper” He was certainly right. Bang the woodwork and out they crawl.

  • James Strong

    The comments here about mohammedans are all accurate.

    But what is the anti-semitism from the ‘gilets jaunes’. I am not aware of it yet. To what extent does it exist?

    There is a common form of reverse reasoning in contemporary political discussion: homophobia and racism are bad; Donald Trump and Nigel Farage are bad; therefore Donald Trump and Nigel Farage are homophobes and racists.

    ‘Gilets jaunes are bad (?) , therefore they are anti-semites’.

    In my case I loathe the EU. People then think that I hate French people, Italians, Spaniards etc. Nothing could be further from the truth.
    And I think my side could and should have made much more about our position that we have nothing against the peoples of Europe at all; we are opposed to non-accountable supra-national bureaucratic governments that cannot be removed from office by the ordinary voters.

  • It is well known that certain Germans saved Jews during the holocaust. It was in a book of Natalie’s that I read Bernard Levin’s remark:

    “Abraham’s plea that the city not be destroyed if 10 just men were found in it would certainly have saved Berlin.”

    I myself included in my poem the words

    … … in WWII
    (When, as you know, most Germans did not personally kill a Jew;

    However it is not common for people criticising German behaviour in WWII to be incessantly interrupted with cries of, “But some Germans were decent.” It is a fact worthy of being known, but so are other points well worth making and knowing and deserving to be heard respectfully in full – and when society talks about what the Germans did in WWII, they are.

    Churchill, in that passage one might be arrested for reciting in public, says that he knows admirable individual muslims. In many a past episode – in the massacres that accompanied Indian independence for example – one can find admirable individual muslims saving people from the rage of their co-religionists. And although, alas, the corruption of the media makes it only too sensible to suspect that some modern cases get exaggerated coverage (nor would some media be above mere invention), there are also real muslims who really do the right thing – or who say the right thing and get murdered for it, like the man in Glasgow.

    However it says something about our changed attitudes that interrupters are now common, aggressive and eager to silence those so-off-narrative ‘other points’.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Violence by one Muslim must never cast aspersions upon all Muslims, who are blameless. As opposed to any violence by a white male, for which all white males are irredeemably guilty. The Red Queen had nothing on the torturous ‘logic’ of modern Progressives.”

    True. Except that there are plenty of people who do the same thing vice versa. There are people who will condemn all Muslims guilty for the crimes of a handful of them, but treat all the white males as blameless when told of the crimes of a handful of those. Red Queen logic is not exclusively Progressive.

    My argument is always against collective guilt. The specific people who did the crime are guilty; people who merely share one or more characteristics with them (even strongly correlated characteristics) but who did not do the crime are not guilty. If there are 8-10 million Muslims in France, and 5 of them are reported to have murdered Jews, that leaves quite a lot who didn’t!

    It’s true to say that Islamic orthodoxy is anti-semitic, and that’s certainly at least part of the problem. However, I consider much of the modern animus against Jews is based on the dispute over Israel and Palestine. The Muslims see it as an invasion of Muslim lands and disposession of the Palestininians, and the anti-colonialist left see it as a case of modern Western colonialism, rich-versus-the-poor, among other things. (I don’t agree with their reasoning, but I do at least try to understand it.) They are then applying the same sort of guilt-by-association being discussed above to the sides in that dispute to cover Jews elsewhere in the world, and indeed anyone else who openly and vocally supports Israel.

    So I’d be very cautious about ascribing it to Islam per se. I’d see the root of the problem more in the politics of support for Israel/Palestine, which is a far more general issue. (e.g. UN resolutions condemning Israel.) It’s probably a harder problem to convert people away from hatred of Israel than it is to convert them away from Islam. The latter only needs the temptations of Western culture. The former is a much more personal vendetta, for many. But if you’re not addressing the correct cultural target, you’ll fail in your fight against anti-semitism.

  • bobby b

    “My argument is always against collective guilt.”

    As a moral position, it’s strong and admirable. As a practical position, it will guarantee that we lose every war and conflict in which we are ever involved, unless the other side also holds to that position.

    “Our side” has won every war that it has won by being willing to assign collective guilt to populations. Every failure to win a war in our history can be attributed to a failure to assign collective guilt.

    More and more, conflict moves away from so-called “Third Generation Warfare” (official force against official force) and towards the so-called “Fourth Generation Warfare” (official state force versus unofficial crowd scattered amongst populations.) In that latter model, the refusal to assign “collective guilt” becomes an untrumpable strength of the non-state force – all the non-state force must do is hide among the population. ISIS, Hamas, the VC, Boko Haram – all survive and continue their paths because their opponents refuse to assign collective guilt to their supporting populations. The Rohingya forces are losing because the Buddhists eventually realized that the population sheltering the Rohingya were not blameless. We defeated the WW2 Axis only through a willingness to assign collective guilt to populations and then firebomb and nuke them.

    What should we do when the moral position always completely handicaps us? I have no idea. Maybe this means that every conflict will always end up as a slogging, deadly decades-long torture. Can that possibly be the outcome of holding to a “moral” position?

  • Nullius in Verba

    “As a practical position, it will guarantee that we lose every war and conflict in which we are ever involved, unless the other side also holds to that position.”

    It depends what you’re fighting for. If you’re fighting for freedom and morality, you lose automatically once you give it up yourself. If you’re fighting to come out on top, and damn the morality, then of course that explains why every revolution replaces one totalitarian regime with another just as bad.

    “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” Different authoritarian groups fight over whose turn it is to wear the boot. If we fight for humanity to take off the boot, then your argument is arguing that we will *always* lose *every* war. The only way to ‘win’ is to become the enemy.

    But if all that matters is coming out on top, then not so much. Of course, it would be hypocritical to complain when the other side does the same as us, and assigns collective guilt to us ‘white males’ on the same grounds. But then, perhaps we cannot ‘win’ without hypocrisy, either?

  • If you’re fighting for freedom and morality, you lose automatically once you give it up yourself. If you’re fighting to come out on top, and damn the morality, then of course that explains why every revolution replaces one totalitarian regime with another just as bad.

    Can we use this to conclude that freedom and morality will never come out on top in a fight?

  • Paul Marks

    The “liberal” establishment elite in France, as in so many countries, is based upon lies. For example that the French Revolution got rid of the laws against the Jews – actually like torture and the laws against Protestants, the laws against Jews were got rid of (apart from in Alsace – which had autonomy), by Louis XXI years before the Revolution. But like the “liberation of the serfs” (what serfs?) the liberation of the Jews by 1789 is taught in France (and the West generally) to this day.

    For a “liberal” regime based upon lies, pretending that Muhammed was a good man and that Islam is a peaceful religion seems like just one more lie – but it is a very dangerous lie.

    Lying about the past (pretending that the Bastille in 1789 had innocent people in it – thanks for that bovine excrement Dickens, and pretending that France in 1789 was a land of serfs, religious persecution and torture and….) is one thing – but Islam is very much about the present and the future. There are more than one BILLION Muslims – of course they do NOT all follow the teachings and personal example of Muhammed (as Niall reminds us – Churchill made the point that there were many good people who happen to come from Muslim families), but Muhammed taught what he taught and did what he did. At some time or other people enter a serious time in their lives – a time when pop music and Association Football will not do, a time when they need meaning in their lives, answers to fundamental questions.

    And at such times of personal crises people turn to the great belief systems – for example people from Muslim families (or even NOT from Muslim families) may turn to see what Muhammed and Islam have to say about basic matters. And they will find that President Macron and the rest of the “liberal” establishment elite (such as our own Prime Minister) are LYING. Muhammed was not a good man – he was very far from good. And what he taught was most certainly not “peaceful and tolerant”.

    The basic Christian texts sometimes say some bad things against the Jews – for example the Gospel of Matthew. But they do NOT call for the murder of Jews. Muhammed not only called for the murder of Jews – HE DID IT HIMSELF he pledged peace and friendship – and then launched surprise attacks, killing people even after they surrendered (and personally selling women as sex slaves). So people who (in a time of personal crises – or even emptiness) turn to Islam have very clear teachings and the PERSONAL EXAMPLE of Muhammed (the “perfect model of conduct”) to follow.

    Just screaming “Islamphobe” (as the Frankfurt School of Marxism “liberal” establishment elite do) is no answer to the above. Muhammed taught what he taught and did what he did – and President Macron (or any other “liberal” leader) stamping their little foot and shouting “no, no, no, Islam is peaceful” is not going to change that.

  • Snorri Godhi

    there are also real muslims who really do the right thing – or who say the right thing and get murdered for it, like the man in Glasgow.

    In the Glasgow case and similar cases, i blame the British media, and British schools, much more than i blame Islam. In fact, i am not sure that Islam should be blamed at all.

    Imagine being subjected, as a Muslim, to a narrative of pervasive islamophobia. Would you not come to see every Muslim who fraternizes with infidels as a traitor?
    Not all Muslims would be willing to murder such a traitor, obviously; but when there are so many Muslims, the risk to the “traitor” becomes substantial.

    The BBC and the Guardian have blood on their hands.
    Not as much as the Duranty Times, however.

  • Snorri Godhi

    My argument is always against collective guilt.

    OK, but one (let’s call him Snorri) can reject collective guilt and still believe in collective punishment; that is, believe that collective punishment _might_ be the only solution to some otherwise intractable problems.

    Some time ago, i proposed Snorri’s Laws of Antisemitism.
    Let me follow up with Snorri’s hypotheses (not laws) on terrorism:

    1. Terrorism almost always ends, either with collective punishment of the mascots of the terrorists, or with the total annihilation of the targets of terrorism. Usually, it’s collective punishment.

    2. The more the collective punishment is delayed, the harsher it becomes.
    (Genocide is not out of the question.)

    If these hypotheses are correct, then the sooner we get the collective punishment done, the better.

  • My argument is always against collective guilt. (Nullius in Verba, February 24, 2019 at 12:20 pm)

    It will be clearer what you mean by this if you say whether you would or would not have authorised the fire-storming of Hamburg (specifically, would or not if having the same level of knowledge as those who did authorise it had in mid-1943, whether or not post-hoc knowledge could have changed your decision).

    Refusing to know there were Germans who felt opposed to Hitler, nor others who felt conflict between their desire for Germany victory and their dislike of some Nazi policies, would be wilful ignorance. Refusing to know that Hitler was wielding the effective power of the German nation in 1943, and that those who secretly disliked him still served him (so that, for example, the German generals plotting his assassination also competently commanded their troops, drew up plans to defeat the allies, etc.), would likewise be wilful ignorance.

    The analogy to our modern situation is not precise – for example, there is no caliph (as yet) – but that is why applying your remark to this more cut-and-dried, done-and-dusted case may be clarifying.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “OK, but one (let’s call him Snorri) can reject collective guilt and still believe in collective punishment; that is, believe that collective punishment _might_ be the only solution to some otherwise intractable problems.”

    Exactly. If ‘coming out on top’ is the otherwise intractable problem, then maybe you need to be the one wearing the boot.

    But of course, everyone else says the same thing. War on rape. War on racism. War on terrorism. War on anti-semitism. War on sin. War on unbelief. We defeat X only through a willingness to assign the collective – need for punishment? – to entire populations (but not others) and then firebomb and nuke them.

    The Red Queen shook her head. “You may call it ‘nonsense’ if you like,” she said, “but I’ve heard nonsense, compared with which that would be as sensible as a dictionary!”

  • Nullius in Verba

    “It will be clearer what you mean by this if you say whether you would or would not have authorised the fire-storming of Hamburg”

    You do what you must do to win the war and preserve freedom, while never forgetting to retain your own humanity.

    It’s not a punishment. It’s not about guilt. It’s not justice. It’s like letting the hostages die to prevent the terrorists getting away and killing hundreds more. You wouldn’t say the hostage was guilty. You’re not punishing them for anything. Their death is not just or good. It’s just less bad than all the alternatives.

    Personally, I’d fight for freedom. But other people have other causes they fight for. If we would see true, we must recognise that the other side see it much the same way as we do, and have the same sort of motivations for the things they do. But it’s hard to see your opponent as a human like yourself and still fight them.

  • Kevin B

    An additional problem with Islam is that they have an afterlife in which they are rewarded for murder, provided the people they murder are infidels. And this heavenly reward is built in to the religion in a way which isn’t true for, say, Christianity.

    Yes. organised Christianity has come up with things like the inquisition or even the concept of ‘Just War’ but these aberrations were not baked into the religion by it’s founder but were added in by various people as they used religion for secular power. But the ‘fundamentalist’ imams who preach violent jihad can call upon the basic texts of Islam as well as the words and behaviour of the prophet himself to justify their sermons.

    It maybe that a misguided priest or vicar could persuade a deluded parishioner to drive a truck loaded with explosives into a market and detonate it, but he would struggle to justify it using Jesus’ words. Yet such an atrocity is a regular occurrence in the Islamic world and the imams have no trouble finding justification, (or volunteers). The added irony of course is that the ‘infidels’ are usually Sunni being murdered by Shia or vice-versa.

  • Paul Marks

    Snorri – Muhammed taught what he taught and did what he did, and Islam holds Muhammed to be the “perfect model of conduct”, so Islam IS TO BLAME.

    The denial of objective reality (of what Muhammed taught and what he personally did) is no way to proceed.

    As for “British schools” and (MOST of) the “British media” – they are rabidly PRO Islam, pushing the absurd lies about Muhammed being a good man and his teachings being about tolerance and peace (I can not remember a single British television programme that was anti Islam), and the schools and universities nearly all teach the same utter nonsense.

    The BBC, the Guardian and the New York Times are all examples of very pro Islam sources (I doubt that any of them has attacked Muhammed in years – indeed they bend over backwards with pro Muhammed stuff) – and yet you single them out as examples of “Islamophobia”, are you being IRONIC Snorri?

    I must admit that I have trouble with irony and sarcasm – in spite of it supposedly being a great British tradition.

    Still you may be saying Snorri that the BBC, Guardian and NYT are spreading the narrative that there is an atmosphere of “Islamophobia” – as far as this term means anything (it is very much Frankfurt School of Marxism style), then the correct response would be “there is no such atmosphere – but there SHOULD BE”, given the nature of the teachings of Muhammed and his personal example.

    George Atkisson.

    On the agency point – no one (I hope) is claiming that leaving the thought tradition of one’s family and community is easy, but humans are indeed beings (we have agency – free will), so a Muslim can (with effort) reject the evil of the teachings and personal example of Muhammed and become an ex Muslim.

    As you know Sir – American churches used to attack each other’s doctrines (in the strongest language – truly savage stuff), indeed what is now called “Hate Speech” was the point of the 1st Amendment – it was precisely to allow the most savage attacks on the political and theological opinions of other people (to aim to “hurt their feelings” in order to shock them into thinking).

    Indeed I would argue that one can date the start of the decline of religion in America to the point where churches started to be polite about each other (and the decline came AFTER this), they stopped passionately debating theology, because they no longer really cared about it.

    I am reminded of the attack that founder of what is now Princeton made concerning the Church of Scotland (he came from Scotland) – “The Moderates are very polite, very tolerant – they will tolerate just about anything, apart from Holy Scripture and the opinions of the “common people”, these they will not tolerate at all!”.

    The same is true of politics – with the 18th and 19th centuries being marked by newspapers and journals that were totally open in their political loyalties and savage in their language concerning their political opponents.

    Then came “Schools of Journalism” (“this reporter” – referring to one’s self in the third person and other pretentious nonsense) with the horrible pretence of the Progressive movement to be “objective” and “unbiased”.

  • bobby b

    “Yes. organised Christianity has come up with things like the inquisition . . . “

    FYI:

    Estimated deaths from the entire history of the Inquisition appear to fall between 2000 and 3000.

    Just in 2015, the US State Department lists 28,328 deaths due to Islamic terrorism.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “An additional problem with Islam is that they have an afterlife in which they are rewarded for murder, provided the people they murder are infidels.”

    Yes, but it’s not a reward for killing infidels. It’s a reward for fighting to spread Islam to the world. Killing anyone outside of jihad and the application of justice is forbidden.

    “And this heavenly reward is built in to the religion in a way which isn’t true for, say, Christianity.”

    Christianity gives the heavenly reward for martyrdom. You’re supposed to let them kill you.

    But of course a lot of Christian rulings have been based on things in the Old Testament, which does of course have plenty of killing unbelievers and other sinners, holy wars, etc. Christians generally have no problems finding scriptural support for the stuff they were planning to do anyway when they want to. I think it would be agreed generally, pacifist martyrdom is much less popular as a doctrine nowadays than it was in the beginning.

    “It maybe that a misguided priest or vicar could persuade a deluded parishioner to drive a truck loaded with explosives into a market and detonate it, but he would struggle to justify it using Jesus’ words.”

    The IRA and their opponents in the Irish ‘Troubles’ had no problems at all justifying that as part of a so-called Catholic-Protestant war. Religion can be pretty flexible.

  • Schrodinger's Dog

    How can anyone possibly write an article about modern anti-semitism without mentioning Islam? And professional journalists wonder why “mainstream media” has become a term of abuse.

  • “An additional problem with Islam is that they have an afterlife in which they are rewarded for murder, provided the people they murder are infidels.” (Kevin B, February 24, 2019 at 6:58 pm

    Yes, but it’s not a reward for killing infidels. It’s a reward for fighting to spread Islam to the world. (Nullius in Verba, February 24, 2019 at 8:44 pm)

    For a second time this month, I find myself quoting Don Alhambra del Bolero, Grand Inquisitor of Balatario (bass-baritone), “That’s a very nice distinction”.

    A not-quite-so-subtle distinction is that Christ never killed anyone, nor ordered anyone killed (indeed, when Peter looked like he might, Jesus ordered him to stop). Mohammed killed and ordered killing often – sometimes for rather petty reasons, like the dancing girls who laughed at him.

    Few followers wholly live up to the one or down to the other. As Shaw has his characters say:

    “They’ll kill you. You see, my lady, the people here believe they’ll go to heaven if they kill an unbeliever.”

    “The people in England believe they’ll go to heaven if they give all they have to the poor – but they don’t do it!”

    However the direction pointed at does have quite an influence – as does the question of who must make the greater sacrifice when it is followed.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Nullius in Verba writes,

    The IRA and their opponents in the Irish ‘Troubles’ had no problems at all justifying that [bombings] as part of a so-called Catholic-Protestant war. Religion can be pretty flexible.

    This is a side issue but I felt I couldn’t let that go uncontested. History provides a million better illustrations of the point you are making than the “Troubles”. That conflict was about whether Northern Ireland would belong to Ireland or to the UK. Of course the religious difference was an exacerbating factor, but it wasn’t the issue being contested. The IRA in its most violent period was avowedly Marxist and hence formally atheist. A higher proportion of the Loyalist paramilitaries actually were Protestant, but the fundamental unimportance of religion to the conflict can be judged from the way it ended: nobody argued about transubstantiation or justification by faith alone when they had the talks that led to the Good Friday Agreement!

  • Nullius in Verba

    “For a second time this month, I find myself quoting Don Alhambra del Bolero, Grand Inquisitor of Balatario (bass-baritone), “That’s a very nice distinction”.”

    Of course. From the point of view of our moral system, it makes no difference. My point was simply that they too are operating on a ends-justifying-the-means basis: Killing is wrong, but unbelief is worse.

    Like “collective punishment _might_ be the only solution to some otherwise intractable problems”. Or “As a moral position, it’s strong and admirable. As a practical position, it will guarantee that we lose every war and conflict in which we are ever involved, unless the other side also holds to that position.” Are those not also nice distinctions?

    “A not-quite-so-subtle distinction is that Christ never killed anyone, nor ordered anyone killed”

    Sure. But as you point out, few Christians follow Christ’s teaching in this. The Christian martyrs would have turned the other cheek to the Muslims. They would refuse to convert, but take whatever penalty was handed out for that without resistance. That is *not* what is being proposed here!

    It’s a bait-and-switch to present Christ’s teachings to represent Christian/Western actions. Christians very often do not do what Christ said they should. Muslims are very often not orthodox in the sense of behaving as Mo did. We should judge people individually on the basis of what they do, not on what they claim to believe.

    But in any case, it misses the point. From the point of view of a Christian moral system, of course Jesus was a better and more moral man than Mo. If your moral position is that killing is wrong, then Jesus killing nobody is far better than Mo wading in rivers of blood. But if your moral position is that it is right to fight in defence of your beliefs, your way of life, your civilisation, your tribe, or at least as a “practical position” you think we ought to assign collective guilt or impose collective punishment on the innocent for the sake of the survival of your moral system, then Mo looks a lot closer to that ideal. Not quite there, but closer than Jesus was. And that, surely, should be disturbing to any of us.

    I’m not saying that pragmatism isn’t sometimes justified. I’m just saying that it’s something practiced by all sides, and we need to be very careful applying it not to fall into the same errors and hypocrisy we decry in our opponents. Red queen logic isn’t the exclusive province of Progressives.

  • bobby b

    “I’m not saying that pragmatism isn’t sometimes justified. I’m just saying that it’s something practiced by all sides, and we need to be very careful applying it not to fall into the same errors and hypocrisy we decry in our opponents.”

    I posted earlier:

    “Estimated deaths from the entire history of the Inquisition appear to fall between 2000 and 3000.

    Just in 2015, the US State Department lists 28,328 deaths due to Islamic terrorism.”

    I don’t think you’re wrong in the abstract. I just think that they’re so much worse in this area than we are that your point seems to satisfy this new label of “whataboutism”. If we kill one person in response to them killing 5000, sure, it’s bad that we killed that one person. But, c’mon, we need to survive too.

  • Paul Marks

    The Old Testament is a series of DIFFERNET books written by different people with different points of view.

    It is possible to find great cruelty and great compassion in the Old Testament – depending on whose book one is looking at.

    The Koran is, according to Islam, an eternal work written in Heaven before Muhammed was born or the world existed – “how can it be – as it is series of statements from Muhammed about what the angel has said?” MAINSTREAM Islam squares this circle by Determinism – Allah (God) knew what Muhammed would ask before Muhammed asked it (indeed before Muhammed exited). There was a point of view in Islam that held that free will existed and that the Koran did not exist before Muhammed recited the verses (the verses that were written down, from memory, some years after Muhammed died). However, this school of Islamic thought was defeated (in mainstream Sunni Islam) about a thousand years ago.

    The Koran is arranged in terms of the length of the verses (not in chronological order), but Islamic scholars know which verses came first and which later. It is well known in Islam that the Mecca verses (advising peace) come before and are ABROGATED BY the Medina verses – which command violent conquest. There is contradiction here – for Islamic scholars have always known that the Mecca verses were composed before Muhammed had his own army – so Allah commanded peace (knowing that Muhammed would lose a fight and be killed), when Muhammed had his own army the commands of Allah changed – or rather different commands became fitting for the new tactical situation.

    Mainstream Islam is very much “voluntarist” – to use a bit of theological jargon. In that it holds that what is morally good is just what God commands and what is morally bad is what God forbids. That the commands of God are the DEFINITION or moral good and bad – that reason can NOT decide matters of morality.

    Again there was a tradition in mainstream Islam that held that free will exists and that that moral good and moral evil can be found by human reason – but, again, this school of thought was DEFEATED in mainstream Islam about a thousand years ago.

    Islam REJECTED the idea of interpreting the Old Testament in the light of moral reason – hence the rejection of the TALMUD by Islam, and the call of Muslims to Jews (in the days of Muhammed) to “raise your hand”, this did NOT mean surrender (Muhammed murdered men who surrendered anyway – so “raising your hands” as a sign of surrender would have been pointless), “raise your hand” was a mocking call from Muslims to Jews for the Jews to take their hand off parts of the Torah (the law books) when reading them aloud.

    Talmudic Jews put their hand on parts of the Torah that were very brutal, when reading the Torah allowed in order to NOT read aloud those parts – this is because Talmudic Jews (Jews who followed the Talmud – by the time of Muhammed virtually all Jews) held that, for example, a woman taken in adultery should NOT be stoned to death.

    Christians have the New Testament – but also hold that the Old Testament must be interpreted in line with moral reason (otherwise it makes no sense – as the various books of the Old Testament contradict each other).

    Both Free Will supporting Jews (i.e. virtually all Jews by the time of Muhammed – and today) and mainstream Christians hold to the existence of moral reason (free will – human agency, the human BEING), this is what mainstream Islam REJECTS – hence “raise your hand”, read the bit (for example) about killing women taken in adultery and KILL THEM. Ditto the rest of the commands.

    For example the Catholic Scholastics famously maintained that “Natural[moral] Law is the law of God – but if God did not exist, Natural Law would be EXACTLY THE SAME”.

    Mainstream Islam REJECTS that view – like Thomas Hobbes and David Hume, mainstream Islam rejects moral reason (indeed rejects free will, human agency, itself). Mainstream Islam holds that what is “morally good” is what God commands and what is “morally bad” is what God forbids – (again) “voluntarism” to use theological jargon. For example if God commands betrayal (promising peace and then launching a surprise attack) then treachery is MORALLY GOOD. And if God commands rape and selling women as sex slaves – then rape and selling women as sex slaves is MORALLY GOOD. This is because what is morally good is BY DEFINITION what God commands – and what is morally bad is BY DEFINITUION what God forbids, there being (as with Hobbes and Hume) no moral reason, no free will (moral agency) to come to a different conclusion.

    But WHY? Why was the School of Thought in mainstream Islam that AGREED with moral reason (free will – moral agency) defeated a thousand years ago?

    The reason it was defeated is a central doctrine of Islam – i.e. that Muhammed is the “perfect model of conduct” – all the opponents of the moral reason faction within Islam had to do was to point out what Muhammed DID.

    The Koran, the Hadiths (sayings of Muhammed), and the Life of Muhammed (biography) all agree that Muhammed did certain things – promise peace and then attack, kill unnamed opponents, take women for himself and sell others into sex slavery, order that anyone who mocked him be killed, and on and on.

    Did Jesus Christ do any of these things – no he did not. But Muhammed did – indeed this is what he did MOST OF THE TIME – if one takes away the Muhammed who (for example) dealt in black slaves, called blacks “raisin heads” and said that Satan looked a black man, the Muhammed who enslaved and lied (promise peace – then attack) and murdered and sex with underage slaves, and on and on. Then there is no one left – because that is Muhammed (that is the sort of person he was).

    That is why the School of Thought that held that moral agency (free will – moral reason) existed was defeated in mainstream Islam a thousand years ago – because their opponents could say the following……

    “You claim that certain things are morally evil – but Muhammed did all these things, and Allah commanded him to do them, so are you saying that Muhammed and Allah are morally evil?”

    There are only two answers to that question – either “no” (in which care one has abandoned moral reason), or “yes” – in which case one has left mainstream Islam.

    That is the trap that Muslims find themselves in – it is the “Muhammed problem”, Muhammed was a bad man (Muhammed was an evil man) yet Muhammed is the “perfect model of conduct”.

    Judaism and Christianity do NOT face this problem – neither has an evil man as the “perfect model of conduct”.

    Thus neither Judaism or Christianity has to reject moral reason (free will), although some Christians do reject moral reason they do not have to do so.

  • Paul Marks

    Perhaps I would not have to write long comments – and say the same things over-and-over again (over many YEARS) if certain people would not keep making the same mistakes, if certain people did not keep showing the same wilful (and it is wilful – it is CHOSEN) ignorance.

    This applies to many questions – I will deal with something (something BASIC – something that is “hardly rocket science” as the saying is) only to find that the same basic mistake (the same ignorance) is shown again – and again – and again. Thus showing that the ignorance is not an innocent mistake – it is wilful (deliberate) ignorance – and NOT over some complicated matter, over some BASIC (fundamental) matter. So I have to deal with it again and again and again – which is very annoying. Still to return to this particular question.

    To take this particular question – Islam is a problem (Islam NOT ordinary people who happen to have been born into Muslim families) because Muhammed was an evil man (he did not just do evil things some times – he did evil things a lot, indeed this is central to what he was about) – and Islam holds Muhammed to be the “perfect model of conduct”.

    Thus whilst some forms of Islam (for example Shia Islam) do accept the existence of free will – they have trouble with the idea of moral reason as an independent yard stick (measuring stick) over human conduct. Because Islam holds that Muhammed is the Perfect Model Of Conduct – and that what Muhammed did was commanded by God. And that what God commands is morally good and what God forbids is morally bad BY DEFINUITION – without need for independent moral reason to judge these matters (i.e. what is morally good and what is morally bad).

    So whilst Shia Islam would hold (unlike the mainstream of Sunni Islam – which holds that actions are predetermined) that people do have a choice (a real choice) about whether or not they follow the example of Muhammed, it (like Sunni Islam) would REJECT the idea that one can sit in moral judgement of the actions of Muhammed commanded by God – that, for example, one would be correct to say “no Muhammed should not have ordered that people who mocked him be killed – this was an EVIL thing for Muhammed to command”.

    Finis.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I don’t think you’re wrong in the abstract. I just think that they’re so much worse in this area than we are that your point seems to satisfy this new label of “whataboutism”.”

    It depends on the choice of statistics. The Inquisition is commonly cited as an example not because the numbers were especially large, but because their methods were especially nasty, and because it was the Church doing it. (They are supposed to be the good guys!) A better comparison would probably be the Catholic-Protestant religious wars, and the colonialist era (I seem to remember the Conquistadors in central and southern America took up a lot of space in history classes).

    And 28,000 deaths is a lot, but the global murder rate is about 437,000, so it’s about 6%. It’s also a lot less in the West. In Great Britain there have been about 100 deaths from Islamic terrorism since 2001 – about 6 per year on average. That’s on the level of ‘deaths from bee stings’, and considerably lower than ‘deaths from falling down the stairs’. And it’s not because they don’t have the capability.

    However, I’m not trying to keep score. I’ve got no problem with the assertion that we’re morally better than them, and that our moral system is better than theirs.

    I’m asking a different question: – what are we actually fighting for? Freedom and morality? Or to come out on top? If we won the war on Islam by becoming worse than they are, liberty-wise, would we count that as a victory, or a defeat? Do we want to be the one wearing the boot in Orwell’s vision of the future? If our aim is to not live in a totalitarian system like Islam where collective guilt for crimes may be ascribed to us all on the basis of our religious beliefs, is that ‘survival’?

    Separately, I’d dispute whether our survival (in the ‘coming out on top’ sense) is seriously threatened by Islam. Militarily they’re a ragtag rabble. Economically they’re utterly dependent on us. Culturally they’re losing the war hands down. Most of their societies are liberalising rapidly – except where they can build high enough walls to keep our culture out. In the West, the bigger threat to our liberty I see is from the surveillance state being built to contain them than anything they would actually do. So what’s this ‘we need to survive’ all about, being used to justify us bending our own moral rules? The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. This one seems a classic case.

    And finally, I’d note what I always say about proposals for methods of social control – always, always, always think about what happens when your enemies get to use those tools on *you*. There are people who will condemn all Muslims guilty for the crimes of a handful of them, but treat all the white males as blameless when told of the crimes of a handful of those. Hence there will be people who will condemn all white males guilty for the crimes of a handful, while excusing Muslims. How can we seriously expect Progressives to refrain from picking up such tools, when we won’t?

  • Nullius in Verba

    “To take this particular question – Islam is a problem (Islam NOT ordinary people who happen to have been born into Muslim families) because Muhammed was an evil man […] – and Islam holds Muhammed to be the “perfect model of conduct”.”

    Yes, and most modern Muslims in the West don’t follow that orthodox form of Islam. They don’t believe in it. They don’t do it. They quite often don’t even know about it!

    Just as a lot of people today who are nominally Christian don’t live like Jesus. One church believes women vicars are OK, another church thinks it’s forbidden. But they *both* claim to be Christian. Jesus had only one set of teachings – they can’t *both* be right. I’ve met Christians who haven’t even read more than a few excerts from the Bible – ask them their opinion on the animal rights message in the story of ‘Balaam and his Amazing Talking Donkey’, they look at you as if you’re crazy!

    Modern Western Muslims are mostly not actually Muslims like Mohammed, like modern Western Christians don’t hold the same beliefs as the Borgia Popes. We don’t make a big deal of it – partly because there’s that whole death sentence for apostasy thing, partly because if you force them to acknowledge it they might stop doing it. But when ISIS tried to re-introduce orthodox Islam to the world, even the other Muslim countries helped us stomp on them.

    You’re right that orthodox Islam is a danger, and that those who say the cute-and-cuddly Islam is the genuine article are lying or deceived. But the Islam out there today is *not* that orthodox version. The strategy is to quietly neuter it, not confront it.

  • Paul Marks

    The Inquisition and so on.

    The Inquisition, and so on, was not ordered by Jesus Christ – so bringing it up is beside-the-point, but I will answer the matter.

    The Roman Inquisition seems to have been sincerely interested in theology, one can condemn (and I do condemn) its persecution of heretics – but it does appear to have been acting in line with what people actually believed, if someone really was NOT a heretic then the Roman Inquisition would let them go.

    However, the SPANISH Inquisition seems to have essentially a money making enterprise – founded under the influence of Ferdinand of Aragon (a man infamous for his LACK of belief – unlike his pius, if misguided, wife).

    The father of the present Prime Minister of Israel made his name as an historian of the Spanish Inquisition – pointing out that the Spanish Inquisition tortured people to confess what they did NOT believe, so that it could take their money and property for the Spanish Crown.

    In short many of the “Jewish” victims of the Spanish Inquisition were actually CHRISTIANS – in that they believed in Christianity (specifically Roman Catholic Christianity). The Spanish Inquisition did not REALLY care what they believed – it wanted their money and property. It is quite clear that many of the victims of the Spanish Inquisition were sincere Roman Catholics.

    It is worth remembering that under the unofficial doctrine of “blood guilt” (under which, for example, the Spanish Inquisition arrested the Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid), Joseph, the Virgin Mary, all 12 of the Apostles, and Saint Paul, would all have been arrested.

    Indeed under this unofficial doctrine of blood guilt – Jesus Christ would have been arrested by the Spanish Inquisition. Although they might not have interested if Jesus did not have money or property.

    In short it was NOT religious intolerance that ruined Spain (England could be just as intolerant religiously) it was a rapacious STATE (although the “Holy Office” was manned by Dominicans the Pope had no power over the Spanish Inquisition – it reported to the Spanish Crown) that wanted to rob people of their money and property, that helped ruin Spain. Although the endless regulations of the Spanish Crown (what came to be called “Spanish Practices”) were the main problem.

    Historically (16th and 17th centuries) conform to the established religion in England and the state will leave you alone. Conform to the established religion in Spain and the state may go after you anyway – for your money and property.

    By the way – in most of Europe the Reformation (where it won) led to a Church that was closer to Predestination than the Roman Catholics had been.

    The Anglican Church was the great exception to this rule – by the 18th century the Anglican Church was well known for its antipresdestinationism (for taking the free will position).

    The Karl Barth comment on this, essentially that it is a sort of folk memory of Pelagius, is flippant – I doubt it was meant seriously.

    But what is the solution? WHY was the Church of England (or Church in England) LESS Predestinationist after the Reformation (at least after all the dust had settled – which takes us all the way into the 1700s) than it had been before?

    In no where else in Europe was this so – so why in England?

    That would require a book – and at my age and state of health (the age and state of the brain) I am simply not capable of writing such a work.

  • Paul Marks

    Nullius, I have explained the matter – that Islam, both Sunni and Shia, holds Muhammed to be the perfect-model-of-conduct.

    And you, Nullius, choose to come back with the stuff you come back with.

    I am reminded of Snorri and moral agency (“free will” – although, like the late Ralph Cudworth, I do NOT like this “chopping up” of the human person, personhood, into different things “will”, “reason” and so on – as if the human person, the soul, can really be chopped up in this way) the claim of not understanding – and the repeating of false positions.

    I can not see into your soul (any more than I can see into Snorri’s soul) – perhaps I am WRONG, and you are not deliberatly repeating falsehoods, and actually believe the things you say.

    However, I have done the best I can – if you really do not understand then there is nothing more I can do. Which is MY failing, NOT a failing of yours.

    So I will say that both you and Snorri may be utterly sincere – but you are also both utterly mistaken.

    As for Islam – to say that Islam does NOT hold Muhammed to be a perfect model of conduct, is just wrong. Just as it is wrong to hold that Islam does NOT hold the actions of Muhammed (the murders, slaving, rapes and so on) to be commanded by God.

    To call someone who does NOT believe Muhammed to be the perfect model of conduct and who does NOT believe Muhammed’s actions to be commanded by God, a “Muslim” is absurd – such a person (who does NOT believe these central principles) is NOT a Muslim. They may be born into a Muslim family, but that does NOT make them a Muslim – unless one believes in “blood guilt”.

    As for how Muslims behave in the West – go away and research what happened in such towns as Rotherham or Telford (or any major town or city in England where there is a large Islamic community) – go and research for yourself. They, born and raised in the United Kingdom, treated infidel women just as Muhammed did – and justified their actions by (accurate) understanding of the Koran and reliable Hadiths.

    On your idea that one should NOT confront Islam – but what one should “quietly neuter” it.

    Such a view would qualify you to be a member of the “liberal” elite in dying Britain or the rest of the dying West.

    Such an attitude is WHY the West is dying. Our so called leaders will not fight for Western principles – because they do not really believe in Western principles.

    I am done with this thread.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Paul:

    So I will say that both [Nullius] and Snorri may be utterly sincere – but you are also both utterly mistaken.

    Speaking for myself: to say that i am mistaken, you’d first have to understand what i said; which you never have, and never will.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Nullius, I have explained the matter – that Islam, both Sunni and Shia, holds Muhammed to be the perfect-model-of-conduct. And you, Nullius, choose to come back with the stuff you come back with.”

    Yes. Because you’re repeatedly ignoring the point that most modern ‘Muslims’ don’t actually believe in orthodox Islam!

    “To call someone who does NOT believe Muhammed to be the perfect model of conduct and who does NOT believe Muhammed’s actions to be commanded by God, a “Muslim” is absurd – such a person (who does NOT believe these central principles) is NOT a Muslim.”

    Exactly! They’re not Muslims! That particular problem has already gone away!

    “As for how Muslims behave in the West – go away and research what happened in such towns as Rotherham or Telford (or any major town or city in England where there is a large Islamic community) – go and research for yourself.”

    What they did was in total breach of Sharia law – punishable by public flogging or death by stoning! Mohammed would have had them executed – he had specific rules against that sort of thing, both in jihad and out of it. They are *not* Muslims. They are members of organised criminal gangs who happened to be born into ‘Muslim’ families. They’re as much Muslim as the Kray twins or Al Capone were Christian.

    “Such an attitude is WHY the West is dying.”

    The West isn’t dying! It’s expanding and spreading ever more rapidly. Go have a look at Hans Rosling’s old talks on how the world is changing. The developing world is adopting Western ways, Western culture, Western technology, Western music, Western fashion, Western democracy, Western secularism, and Western economics. Saudi is changing it’s laws to let women drive, and vote. We’re not changing our laws to stop them. We’re winning!

    What I think you’re referring to is that the West is *changing*. It adapts. Fashions and markets change. It’s not perfect. There’s a long way to go. There are a few reverses and wrong turns. But nothing static can survive in the face of an opponent that adapts. If you define ‘The West’ as what it was back in the 1970s, then yes, that’s dying/dead. Our culture has changed. But the new culture is ‘the West’, too.

    You can’t stop the world moving, as Galileo pointed out. You can’t keep society frozen, like a static museum display. That’s what the Islamists are trying to do, and it’s why they fail.

  • Nullius, it would again be useful if you made your abstract distinction between ‘fighting for freedom’ and ‘fighting to win’ concrete by example. For example, I (and, I assume you, and everyone on this blog) know the double-standard in how the hate speech laws are enforced. After 9/11, Labour rushed them in (“a crisis is a terrible thing to waste”) on the plea that the terrorists’ words needed legal restraint, but the first conviction (August 2002 IIRC) was of a man who had dared to argue with a muslim who was expressing his intense approval of 9/11 and said that all americans deserved death. The muslim acted as witness for the prosecution and was never charged, though himself admitting his words on the witness stand. If I recite an opinion of Churchill on muslims, I must be ware of the law. A muslim need fear nothing when reciting some vastly more hostile and inciting historic text of some far lesser figure; only words suggesting a ‘clear and present danger’ require them to be ware of the law. Do you in fact suspect that I (or anyone on this blog) would be supporters of the hate speech laws if these laws were instead applied ‘fairly’, with lots of muslims and ‘minorities’ being prosecuted as aggressively as we? Or that we would think our country much improved compared to say, Thatcher’s days, if we had as many British citizens of muslim beliefs as we do and they were all being kept in order by being prosecuted aggressively for any self-justifying remarks while it was instead we who enjoyed the unfairness of partially-invoked law.

    (Clarification: Hitler planned to exterminate the Poles as soon as he’d finished killing the Jews. When Stalin replaced him as tryrant of Poland, it was, in a very dismal and minimal way, an improvement. Since Stalin’s plans did not require the swift extermination of the entire Polish race, there was the ‘happiness’ of “the lesser evil – but how evil it still is!”. In that sense, mere procedural honesty in administering the hate speech laws would be preferable to the current situation.)

    TRIVIAL POINTS

    The Inquisition is commonly cited as an example not because the numbers were especially large, but because their methods were especially nasty, and because it was the Church doing it. (They are supposed to be the good guys!).

    “their methods were especially nasty” – compared with whom? The Chinese judicial system (I mean the old Imperial/Mandarin one, never mind Mao)? The Lefortovo prison under Stalin? As you yourself might point out, in their minds, they were supposed to be the good guys. Or how about as compared with the interrogative procedures of a typical muslim state? (A key charge in Burke’s indictment of Warren Hastings was that Hastings had chosen to look the other way while muslim officials applied muslim interrogation methods to the men of business of the Begums of Oudh.)

    BTW, Paul is quite right that you seem to be thinking of the Spanish inquisition, not the Roman.

    One church believes women vicars are OK, another church thinks it’s forbidden. But they *both* claim to be Christian. Jesus had only one set of teachings – they can’t *both* be right.

    Yes they can both rightly claim to be Christians following Christ’s teachings. Jesus said nothing either to forbid or to demand female priests. St Paul said something, but St Paul also said in one of his church directions, “I have no commandment of the Lord but give my judgement.” and while he did not always state the distinction explicitly, a Christian might honestly think, and another as honestly doubt, that it applied to others of the practical church-management directions he gives. There is also the point that, at a time when on the one hand there were religions practising sacred prostitution, and on the other, the Roman state propaganda claimed that Christian ‘love feasts’ were in fact orgies, rules on sex roles in nascent churches might be ‘right’ in the sense of being prudent without be right in the sense of “I’m sure Jesus thought so too, I just can’t find the text.”

    This is trivia, but it seems to me your desire to illustrate your concern about some here not sufficiently “seeing oursels as ithers see us” is leading you into contrasting killing commanded by Islam’s founder with trivia from secondary Christian sources.

    A more useful debate would be your statement that Mohammed would have executed the Rotherham rape gang compared with Paul’s statement that he would not have, since here I think you indeed “can’t both be right“.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “For example, I (and, I assume you, and everyone on this blog) know the double-standard in how the hate speech laws are enforced.”

    I’m against hate speech laws. But my point is that whether you apply them or don’t apply them, it should make no difference which side is being hated. It is exactly as bad to prosecute Muslims and not Islamophobes as it is to prosecute Islamophobes and not Muslims.

    The issue I’m pointing to is that some would like to exile and exclude Muslims for hate speech, and simultaneously stand up for the free speech rights of Islamophobes, while pointing out the hypocrisy of Progressives in doing the reverse.

    I agree it’s a double standard. I’m against it. But I’m as much against it when *we* do it as when *they* do!

    Does that clarify?

    ““their methods were especially nasty” – compared with whom?”

    Compared with today’s morality. Compared with our mental images of what the church as guardian-of-morality is supposed to be. I’m not particularly interested in attacking the church – I don’t care what other people choose to believe. But it’s no use pretending it’s all happy Easter bunnies singing ‘Kumbaya!’, like in a Disney movie. Other people chose to try to contrast the spotless virtue of the Christian church with Islam’s irredeemable evil. I’m not having that. We have our share of rapists and murderers.

    “Yes they can both rightly claim to be Christians following Christ’s teachings. Jesus said nothing either to forbid or to demand female priests.”

    Then those who hold that it is forbidden by Christianity are wrong, yes?

    “A more useful debate would be your statement that Mohammed would have executed the Rotherham rape gang compared with Paul’s statement that he would not have, since here I think you indeed “can’t both be right“.”

    Happy to do so. What aspect would you like to debate?

  • staghounds

    America and England are full of Islamophobia and racism and hate crimes.

    True, I haven’t seen any in my own personal life, but the newspapers and television are full of them!

  • Julie near Chicago

    Mr Ed, I hate to disagree with you, but honesty compels. *g* Namely, you wrote

    …[A]t a time when on the one hand there were religions practising sacred prostitution, and on the other, the Roman state propaganda claimed that Christian ‘love feasts’ were in fact orgies, rules on sex roles in nascent churches might be ‘right’ in the sense of being prudent without be right in the sense of “I’m sure Jesus thought so too, I just can’t find the text.”

    and called the point “trivia.”

    I disagree that it’s trivial. As far as I can see, much as Jesus was a stout defender of God and of God’s wishes, and had a properly Jewish take on the importance of the Law (at that time, the O.T.); still I believe he was also a practical man and was interested in helping his followers to avoid the wrath of the Romans by giving them practical advice. Thus “Render unto Caesar, etc.” was advice to pay the Romans their bloody taxes; you can do this and still give God your whole-hearted love and do all that you can to live a “sober, righteous, and Godly life” (as the Catholics of my Dad’s era put it). (And other practical advice as well.)

    “Turn the other cheek” I have seen explained as advice given not to hit back at Romans or people who might be Romans if they slap you (open-handed, I think came into the explanation) because they might show their displeasure by retaliating in more, um, uncomfortable ways.

    I really think we need to see Jesus as a practical man and not just some ascetic itinerant preacher who inhabited a Higher Plane. And if I believed in Jesus as the Redeemer and the Son of God — as, actually, one of the faces of God — I would find his human practicality even more compelling.

    If, by the way, I am in error about any of that, I’d appreciate your correction. I may no longer call myself Christian, but at its best I don’t think Christianity is the worst philosophy to try to live by.

    * * *

    By the way. If we accept that the Spanish Inquisition ran for approximately 350 years, and the total death toll was between 2000 and 3000, that works out to 5.7 – 8.7 people/year.

    By the way. Ferdinand and Isabella helped to get the Spanish Inquisition started, although it was a project of the Catholic Church specifically. Dr. Henry Kamen says that in fact the Inquisitors tended to give people second chances, assign them community service or some other method of curing their sin of disbelief, and also that they generally avoided torture (15 minutes max, only one session, and no bloodletting) and where execution was the sentence there was some effort to make it humane.

    By the way. It’s important also to remember that at the time, Spain had just thrown off the yoke of Muslim rule, and the political leadership thought it important to root out remaining Muslims because of certain of their more unpleasant customs. This was also in line with the Church’s desire to instill or protect Christianity, of course, so unfortunately Jews were also in the line of fire.

    Rodney Stark and Henry Kamen have written a good deal about this, and I think Dr. Stark’s books are worth reading. (The one I read was God’s Battalions, about the Crusades.) Dr. Stark is a sociologist, and started out as an agnostic. Sometime within the past decade he threw in the towel and became an “independent Christian.”

    The information above is the result of my refreshing my memory with an article by Bill Muehlenberg, who is a Protestant and writes a good deal on current events and also on Christianity. In hope of staving off cries of “Revisionist History!” I quote part of Mr. Muehlenberg’s response to a commenter. Of course it’s perfectly obvious, but:

    There is a proper revisionism which is needed when historians have gotten things wrong, and others come along seeking to balance things out.

    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2015/01/20/on-the-spanish-inquisition/

    [I will say this. Mr. Muehlenberg has a “Why I’m Not a Randian” piece up that IMO shows he’s fallen for the Rand-bashers’ writings hook, line, and sinker. I got no whiff that he’s read any of her work himself, and if he did he surely didn’t come close to understanding it. Unfortunate, because it causes one to be extra-wary. Is he as gullible when he adopts the historical line of Drs. Stark and Kamen?]

    Henry Kamen has his doctorate at St. Antony’s College, Oxford. He taught at the U. of Wisc., Madison (that hotbed of Progressivism and general Leftiness — boo hiss) and then in Barcelona. His specialty is Spanish history.

    At its article on Dr. Kamen, the Foot of All Knowledge quotes the Atlantic:

    One of the most important living historians of Spain, Kamen has devoted his career, most famously in his revisionist books on Philip II and on the Spanish Inquisition, to taking on the so-called Black Legend, promoted by Spain’s opponents. That he has in many ways succeeded, thanks to decades of engaged scholarship, in fundamentally altering historians’ understanding of 15th- and 16th-century Spain is testimony to the force of his arguments and the depth and quality of his rigorous, archive-based research.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Kamen

    To round things out:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_Stark

  • Julie near Chicago (February 25, 2019 at 5:25 pm), I wrote the text you quote, not Mr Ed. The point (trivial or otherwise) was a point about the possibly practical reasons for St Paul’s direction to the early church, not about Jesus. My point (rebutting Nullius’ remark that two modern churches diverging on it “can’t both be right”, because Jesus “only had one teaching”) was that Jesus did not give direction on that.

    I only headlined those paragraphs ‘TRIVIAL POINTS’ to let Nullius ignore them if he wished only to engage with the paragraphs before. Having written a comment whose length was worthy of the Sage of Kettering’s 🙂 , I thought it wise to separate my main point from the others.

    As regards that point specifically, I think that compared to “Mohammed killed people. Jesus didn’t.” it is indeed very trivial. In lesser contexts it may have its importance.

    I agree that Jesus was practical in one sense. However the manner of his (foreseen) execution suggests to me that he was prepared to sacrifice the morally-compromising kind of practicality in toto when it came to asserting truths.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Niall, mea culpa to the point of sackcloth and ashes. I’m sorry. I have no idea how Mr Ed got inter me head.

    “Trivial”: I was trying to address the issue in a humourous fashion. A few years ago I had one of those flashes of brilliant insight that I occasionally receive (I believe they’re transmitted to me from an incorporeal pal of mine in the Crab Nebula), and I’ve been watching for an excuse to make the point. You provided it, and I carped the diem. No offense meant; just the opposite in fact.

    As to your final observation, presumably Jesus knew he was for it from the first, and as Miss R observed, “What is practical depends on what it is you wish to practice.” He came to save Mankind, and that was his overriding purpose. To choose to evade death would have made the whole thing an exercise in futility. So in allowing himself to be crucified, he was being utterly practical.

    It certainly shows the difference between Jesus’ idea of what is morally practical and Mohammed’s.

    I see your point, of course. But Jesus was trying to teach people how to go about choosing life as opposed to death. Practicality is one prong of that. Mohammed was (in the end) willing to spill all the blood necessary to satisfy his own thirst for it. A very different notion of what he wished to practice.

    I’m not arguing with you, but I do think that the practical is every bit as important as the moral (the ideal), because practice — doing, acting, or refraining from a certain action — is the only way to move toward the ideal and the only way to illustrate the moral. What’s worrisome about Nullius’s position is that it has the odor of moral equivalence. But defence of the innocent, including of oneself, simply isn’t the same as aggression against others. That is our moral code, which we have chosen (as Nullius himself pointed out in the “humbling” discussion I think it was), and which therefore provides our moral standards of conduct; which I think Nullius shares.

    Anyhow, thanks for pointing out my error and for clarifying your point, and also for giving me a chance to muse further. :>))

  • Nullius in Verba

    “What’s worrisome about Nullius’s position is that it has the odor of moral equivalence.”

    Indeed? I can see how it has a similar sort of effect, but I find it interesting that you put it that way. The choice of the word ‘odor’ suggests a degree of uncertainty about the judgement?

    I have very strong and uncompromising moral principles that I try to apply as strictly to what I would consider ‘my own side’ as I would do the other side. It’s a thing I do, and regularly get into trouble for! 🙂

    It’s an aspect of my personality that is probably related to my liking for mathematics – I prize logical consistency far ahead of what you might call political ‘practicality’, (although I do think that in the long run principle has a strongly defensive practicality of its own). But I’m well aware of how uncomfortable that can be. Bearing that in mind, you’re taking it a lot better than many of the people I find myself doing it with. I admire that!

    However, neither do I have any wish to strain any potential friendships, so point made, I’m not going to pursue it any further.

  • Julie near Chicago, February 25, 2019 at 7:31 pm, no problem. I was merely noting the point, and apologise if any tone of annoyance appeared in my text.

    I’ll mention in passing that I am suspicious of the revisionist history denying “the black legend”. I criticised Nullius’ invocation of the (Spanish, I assume) inquisition in a muslim/christian comparison discussion because it has no relevance to such a discussion that its methods were “especially nasty” if compared with “today’s morality” or “our mental images of what the church as guardian-of-morality is supposed to be”; comparison with non-Christendom cultures of the time could alone be relevant in that context. However I think the black legend does have content – that is, Spanish culture did in fact merit some of the legend compared with English and north-west Europe of the same date.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I criticised Nullius’ invocation of the (Spanish, I assume) inquisition in a muslim/christian comparison discussion because it has no relevance to such a discussion”

    I didn’t invoke it. Kevin B raised it first, bobby b followed up with the statistic on deaths, compared with the number from Islamic terrorism, then raised it again in answer to my point about us not using the same blame-the-innocent tactics as the Progressives. I responded to that by saying I didn’t think it was a very good example, but noted in passing that there are other reasons for it being such a common meme in our culture besides the numbers killed. Cunning devices with spikes tend to make an impression.

    However, as I said before I’m not trying to keep score. I’m asking a different question: – what are we actually fighting for? Freedom and morality? Or to come out on top? Is there really sufficient justification here for using collective guilt or collective punishment?

    And I’d add to that: does Freedom of Belief apply to Islam? Even the nasty version?

  • Julie near Chicago

    There’s a lot to be said about this whole topic and the positions taken, or apparently taken, by the discussants. Maybe later on I can engage some of the points properly, but for now let me say just a few things, short-form indeed.

    .

    Niall: I didn’t take you as being particularly annoyed — rather as noting a fact. But simple courtesy requires my apology, and so do my own feelings. :>)

    .

    Nullius: Without mentioning the numerous necessary caveats:

    In short: Of Course we understand that people are and ought to be free to say what they think. But that applies to others’ tolerating our speech and beliefs, just as much as to our tolerating theirs.

    And Of Course we are not in favor of using different standards for different groups when making moral judgments of them. But that applies to others’ standards for judging “us,” just as much as to our application of our own non-double-standards to other groups.

    Freedom of Belief: Nobody has a right to try to be Big Brother. People can hold evil beliefs, and as long as they don’t act on them in any way, it’s strictly their own business.

    Al Capone is welcome to have believed that by rights he should be King of Mob Hill, if he could just scramble up there. But the rest of us had every right to try to thwart his attempt. Same for the Communists … and the presently-Orthodox Muslims. They can believe what they want, but they have no right to attack people based on those beliefs, and we have no duty to pretend that they do.

    We have not only the right but the responsibility to our own individual selves to fight such beliefs tooth and nail.

  • Nullius in Verba

    Thanks Julie. It’s appreciated. It’s the caveats that are of interest, though. (There’s always a “but”. 🙂 )

    “But that applies to others’ tolerating our speech and beliefs, just as much as to our tolerating theirs.”

    Does your second word “that” refer to their beliefs and words, or only their actions? Do we tolerate them believing that people should not be able to believe/say certain things, and saying so?

    “People can hold evil beliefs, and as long as they don’t act on them in any way, it’s strictly their own business.”

    Was one of the necessary caveats “… so long as their actions do no harm, …”?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Nullius, I will restate.

    Of Course we understand that people are and ought to be free to say what they think. “That people are and ought to be free to say what they think” is one of the major statements of tolerance.

    We do ourselves and everyone else a disservice if we hold a double standard, even if that double standard allows others to show lack of tolerance for our speech and beliefs.

    We hold that we are in the right to expect others to tolerate our speech and beliefs, just as we tolerate the speech and beliefs of others.

    I don’t see any way to put it more clearly than that.

    .

    People can hold evil beliefs, and as long as they don’t act on them in any way, it’s strictly their own business.

    By “acting on an evil belief,” I mean doing whatever evil one’s “evil beliefs” allow or require.

    There may or may not be harm that’s immediately obvious from a given action. And one must be very careful about what one chooses to consider unacceptable harm. (When A and B are businesses competing for customers’ dollars, and one of them is out-competed, the other is “harmed,” at least in the short term or the narrow view; and possibly in the long term as well. But that harm is not the result of evil, assuming the “winner” is ethical and honorable, and any resulting “harm” is not evil in itself and is not the result of evil beliefs or practices either. So this is not the sort of “harm” we try to proscribe.)

    If you mean, do I subscribe to the prima-facie interpretation of the Harm Principle, I do not.

    I even have a problem with the Hippocratic Oath’s injunction: “First, do no harm,” if it’s taken in its prima facie sense. If you give the cancer patient chemo, you certainly are doing harm to the patient and perhaps he or she will die from the treatment if not from the cancer. But if in your best judgment as a doctor you think that with chemo there’s a chance at prolonging life and without it there isn’t, then you go ahead (with the patient’s consent, of course.)

    .

    In short, you wrote above:

    I agree it’s a double standard. I’m against it. But I’m as much against it when *we* do it as when *they* do!

    My point is that

    I agree it’s a double standard. I’m against it. But I’m as much against it when *they* do it as when *we* do!

    PS. To speak or write words is an action. When Jim Jones or somebody sells his vision of Heaven-on-Earth, he is acting on an evil belief. That’s one reason to be wary of people’s words, even though we allow them the freedom to say what they believe. it’s that the alternative of proscription is worse.

    Hope that helps. :>)

  • Nullius in Verba (February 26, 2019 at 7:04 am), people who feared Churchill was a warmonger in the 30s were in fact among WWII’s enablers. Churchill was the one whose robust recommendations were most likely to avoid full-blown war. The complaints that he did not sound unhappy enough about war were absurd. Because he was ignored, war happened – and, as wars do, created rational grounds for reducing some British freedoms. Churchill’s record in trying to minimise these reductions was better than his critics (especially the more left-leaning of them, who saw the war as opportunity) precisely because he had been pursuing rational foresighted ways of trying to avoid that situation, not cause it.

    You display an unreasonable and contra-evidential level of suspicion of ‘our side’. It should have been obvious to you long before this thread ever started that if the Colorado Uncivil Wrongs Commission announced that from now on they would victimise one muslim baker in parallel with each Christian cake-shop they persecuted, we (and I mean ‘we’ very broadly – all dominant and at-all-likely politics on our side of this debate) would not see that as an ideal situation. Even if they impose a moratorium on Christian persecutions in order to prosecute Muslim after Muslim until their disproportion in victimising those who had not expressed enough enthusiasm for gay marriage were wholly rectified, that would still strike people on our side of the debate as marking a sad decline in our civilisation’s state – though we would praise the greater procedural honesty of it (and you, by your principles of giving equal evaluations to actions of those on the other side, should also praise it – and therefore, in a very limited and sad sense, wish to see it if their more deep-seated bigotries delay the far better solution of returning to freedom).

    I quite see that your very great optimism about how muslim migrants will evolve long term means you think there’s little danger we will get into a situation where, as in WWII, some restrictions have rational arguments. I invite you to see that we are not arguing now for the left-echoing believe that our civilisation is best saved by discarding some of its most valuable elements provided they are targeted at Muslims (the excuse for imposing them back in 2002) instead of us. We foresee that importing and balkanising a different culture is best dealt with now, lest, like the run-up to WWII, the prevention of all earlier solutions ensures that one we are eventually trapped into following has a high price tag – in freedom as in other things.

    Your reiterated concerns strike me (and some other commenters, I think) as like the warnings against racism in the tea party struck tea party members – betraying a deep incomprehension of them.

    Please do not interpret this as hostile or wishing you to comment less. I have gained from thinking about why your comments strike me (and others) as ‘off’ in some way. As John Stuart Mill said,

    “He who knows only his own side of the argument knows little of that.”

    I hope you will gain a corresponding benefit from reading this.

  • Surellin

    I had no idea that the gilets jaunes are universally Moslem!

  • Nullius in Verba

    “You display an unreasonable and contra-evidential level of suspicion of ‘our side’. It should have been obvious to you long before this thread ever started that …”

    So I would have thought, and so I expected. It’s a bit of a mystery to me why we keep on finding ourselves arguing! 🙂

    The article at the top is about anti-semitism and draws out the association of anti-Jew violence with Muslims. My initial observation was that in my experience anti-semitism is more strongly associated with views on the Israel-Palestine dispute. The left, who are not Muslim, and therefore are not anti-semites because of Islam, are so because of Israel. The Muslims if you ask them why don’t say it’s because Mohammed said so or Allah’s will, or because the Jews killed/rejected the Prophets or betrayed Mo at Medina, they *all* talk about Palestine. Certainly, Muslims take Palestine’s side in the dispute because of their religion, and probably feel more strongly, but the *common root* of anti-semitism is opposition to Israel’s ‘occupation’, not Islam per se. From the point of view of fighting a war, it helps to aim your fire at the right enemy!

    It didn’t particularly surprise me to see Islam identified, but I didn’t expect my point to be controversial here. I expected a response more along the lines of either acknowledging the point, or arguing that Muslim anti-semites are more extreme in their anti-semitism because of their beliefs, which is valid, or something similar.

    Scrolling down to comment to that effect, I noted the comment “Violence by one Muslim must never cast aspersions upon all Muslims, who are blameless. As opposed to any violence by a white male, for which all white males are irredeemably guilty.” This is a particular bugbear of mine – I’m constantly getting into arguments with people elsewhere who cast unreasonable aspersions on all Muslims on the basis of a handful of so-called Muslims (who are usually doing something explicitly forbidden by Islam!), who when I point out that exactly the same reasoning could be applied to attack all white men on the basis of the crimes of a handful, they go apoplectic. Likewise, I didn’t expect that to be controversial here. I don’t often see it happen here, but I can’t believe I’m the only one to have noticed the phenomenon.

    Given that it also ties in to the head post about ascribing the anti-semitic crimes of violence of a few Muslims to Islam as a whole, I thought it worth noting the similarity. It serves as an example of how easy it is to slip into the error unintentionally (or at least giving the appearance of having slipped), without noticing. It’s worth noting that vulnerability to the fallacy is not exclusive to Progressives – we need to be careful about it too!

    So I was very surprised to get the response: ““Our side” has won every war that it has won by being willing to assign collective guilt to populations. Every failure to win a war in our history can be attributed to a failure to assign collective guilt.”! It appears to be agreeing with the Progressive Red Queen logic, arguing not that it’s valid or moral, but that such immorality is practically necessary to ‘win’. That wasn’t what I was expecting at all!

    Hence the conversation. I don’t see that it’s unreasonable or contra-evidential – I was addressing specific comments made here. I do see that in equating their use of the fallacy with ours, that it has the effect of a ‘moral equivalence’ attack – a “tu quoque” that could be seen as defending Progressivism’s use of it by saying ‘we do it too’. Nothing could be further from my intentions!

    Anyway, I’m happy that we’re all in agreement now. I’m still unsure how applying collective guilt (or collective punishment) fits into that, but I’m confident now that it’s some misunderstanding on my part. 🙂

    “I quite see that your very great optimism about how muslim migrants will evolve long term means you think there’s little danger we will get into a situation where, as in WWII, some restrictions have rational arguments.”

    I think it is entirely possible in the long term that we will get into another conflict with authoritarianism. I don’t believe it will be the Muslims that trigger it, though. They’re a spent force, on the decline. Authoritarianism will rise from *our* culture, when we start bending and then breaking the rules due to some perceived ’emergency’.

    There is an authoritarian streak wired into all humanity. And because we don’t know what it will look like yet – what particular set of beliefs it will enforce or hobgoblins it will oppose – it’s unwise to set our watchdogs to look only for the guises in which it arose in the past. Don’t fight Muslims (who just happen to be authoritarian) or SJWs (who just happen to be authoritarian) or racists (who just happen to be authoritarian). The next big threat might not be any of those. Fight authoritarians! Because they’re authoritarian.

    I don’t understand how we could have won all those wars by attacking the wrong target! Just lucky, I guess.

    “Please do not interpret this as hostile or wishing you to comment less.”

    Thank you! I won’t. And likewise, I hope you won’t stop arguing with me when you disagree with me – and will warn me when it goes from an entertaining debate (my intention) to actively upsetting. I learn a lot from these arguments, too.

  • bobby b

    NiV:

    Thomas Jefferson once said:

    “A strict observance of the written law is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to the written law, would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus absurdly sacrificing the ends to the means.”

    I envy you your experience that moral imperatives never clash – that one never needs to violate principle to serve a higher principle.

    In a vacuum, I can find no moral justification for dropping a 15-kt atomic bomb on a city full of non-combatants and killing 100,000+ people. But we only see such vacuums in philosophy classes and internet discussions. We destroyed Hiroshima in a context of competing and contradictory moral values.

    If I had to vote today on whether I would ratify the decision to drop that bomb, I would vote “yes”, and I suspect from what you’ve been writing that you would, too – that it would suffice in your mind if we all actively understood that doing so was a violation of the very moral code that we claimed the bomb served. It would suffice in my mind if you would go on to agree that we can sometimes only serve a larger moral requirement by violating other moral requirements.

    That’s why I used the word “practical.” Sometimes a bad act done for good reason becomes a less-bad act.

  • bobby b

    In hindsight, I should provide context for what I wrote above.

    You said:

    “My argument is always against collective guilt.”

    I said:

    “As a practical position, it will guarantee that we lose every war and conflict in which we are ever involved, unless the other side also holds to that position.”

    Then, you said:

    “It depends what you’re fighting for. If you’re fighting for freedom and morality, you lose automatically once you give it up yourself. If you’re fighting to come out on top, and damn the morality, then of course that explains why every revolution replaces one totalitarian regime with another just as bad.”

    Did we become as bad as, or worse than, the Germans and the Japanese when we bombed Hiroshima? Did we replace one set of murderous invaders with something just as bad? Or did we violate one moral precept in service to another, higher, goal?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Following up on Natalie’s posting, I note an interesting article on French anti-Semitism in an article by David Bell in the World Affairs Journal.

    http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/article/trapped-history-france-and-its-jews

    A few excerpts introduce France’s history of anti-Semitism greater and lesser, going back to Voltaire et cie [bold typeface mine]:

    Ilan Halimi was found tied to a tree, barely alive. Kidnappers had left him there naked, handcuffed, hooded, and gagged, after having cut off pieces of his fingers and his ears, stabbed him repeatedly, and burned much of his body. He died before reaching a hospital. The police soon arrested more than twenty youths belonging to a gang called “the Barbarians,” led by a 25-year-old Muslim immigrant from the Ivory Coast named Youssouf Fofana. They had targeted Halimi, and demanded a ransom of over $600,000 (which his family found impossible to raise), because of a vague belief that all Jews are rich.

    ….

    Ironically, these events have taken place just when anti-Semitism among French Christians has declined to its lowest point in modern history.

    ….

    …[W]ith the election of Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007, the most philo-Semitic government in French history came to power.

    ….

    Given this context, it is tempting to see little connection between the new anti-Semitic violence and the long-term history of French Jewry.

    ….

    Given that France has both the largest Muslim and the largest Jewish populations in Europe (5 to 6 million Muslims and 600,000 Jews), the recent violence may represent what Michel Gurfinkiel calls an “importation of the Palestinian conflict into France.”

    ….

    Yet there do exist deep continuities between the history of the Jews in France and the current wave of violence.

    ….

    The article then comes back to the 20th centure and the Vichy government.

    I suggest reading the whole thing.

    . . .

    “…[I]n my experience anti-semitism is more strongly associated with views on the Israel-Palestine dispute. The left, who are not Muslim, and therefore are not anti-semites because of Islam, are so because of Israel.”

    As the article shows, there’s a whole lot more to anti-Semitism than disapproval of Israel’s “treatment” of “Palestine” or the Palestinians. And that is true world-wide and not just in France.

  • As the article shows, there’s a whole lot more to anti-Semitism than disapproval of Israel’s “treatment” of “Palestine” or the Palestinians. (Julie near Chicago, February 27, 2019 at 9:06 am)

    I agree. The UN, the arabs and western lefties (and some not that far left) all focus on complaining about the behaviour of the Israeli state, which makes an effort to respect western norms, while downplaying worse abuses elsewhere. It was precisely by applying Nullius stated goal of ‘same rules for all cases” that I deduced these were excuses – that while some merely follow a party line once established, only a more fundamental hostility could cause that one-sided rhetoric to get established. The facebook experiment (in which a pro-Israeil group and a pro-Palestinian group ratcheted up the violence of their rhetoric in precise synchronism – no prize for guess which one got banned early and which one was never banned till the organisers informed facebook of their experiment’s results) is merely a particular experiment-constrained example of a widespread phenomenon. Thinking (in the way Nullius recommends) about this led me to know there was something deeper at work.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Above:

    “…[E]very revolution replaces one totalitarian regime with another just as bad.”

    There is surely one salient showing that as with most blanket rules, this one isn’t.

  • Nullius in Verba (February 26, 2019 at 9:18 pm), on my side at least this thread must now end – my day job (and a wish to use such time as I can spare from it to reflect on current UK politics) forbid my focussing more on it.

    I will close by noting that your belief that Muhammed would have executed the Rotherham rapists is open to challenge. While the jokes about the Rotherham councillors longing to submit to (and impose) dhimmi status write themselves, the community is not formally dhimmi. The rule of abrogation focusses Islam on the aggressively-expressed last phase of Mohammed’s life and soon after, where also we find rules for muslim behaviour in the dar al-Harb as opposed to the dar al-Islam, including many explicit statements regarding the taking of women in the former. So while you may be able to make your case under various technicalities, the Rotherham gang (who might claim to know islam at least as well as a westerner) might be able to abrogate those technicalities or otherwise escape them.

    Also relevant is that collective guilt is one concept and collective culture is another. Islam had rules protecting dhimmis, and ante-bellum US law said the killing of a slave was murder. However culture is in part a way of prioritising between the long list of things it is enjoined to do and not do. Statistically, ante-bellum US protection of the lives of slaves may compare favourably with the experience of certain dhimmi communities (never mind islamic slave communities), while still comparing unfavourably with an absolute standard.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “As the article shows, there’s a whole lot more to anti-Semitism than disapproval of Israel’s “treatment” of “Palestine” or the Palestinians. And that is true world-wide and not just in France.”

    Very true! And as the article shows even more clearly, there’s a lot more to anti-semitism in France and elsewhere than Islam!

    “So while you may be able to make your case under various technicalities, the Rotherham gang (who might claim to know islam at least as well as a westerner) might be able to abrogate those technicalities or otherwise escape them.”

    We don’t need to resort to ‘technicalities’ – sexual immorality (zina) is strictly forbidden by Sharia. They’re a lot more strict about that sort of thing than we are.

    Muslim men are not allowed to even look at women, other than wives and unmarriageable kin. The Hanafi school makes an exception for face and hands, in the course of business. But anything that leads to temptation is strictly forbidden. You can’t hold hands. You can’t kiss. You can’t touch. You can’t even shake hands.

    The only people you are allowed sex with are your own wives and your own slaves – and slaves are specifically those who have been captured in jihad, which is defined as open warfare against the unbelievers to establish Islam’s rule, after having given them sufficient warning and the chance to convert and/or surrender. The Rotherham rapists weren’t fighting a jihad. They did not give due warning, did not establish the religion, or make any effort to do so, did not capture and imprison anyone in the process of that war, and would not in any case be permitted to sex with anyone else’s slaves, so could not have shared them around.

    They took drugs and alcohol at wild parties committing debauched acts of fornication with multitudes of promiscuous unbelievers – it’s exactly the sort of depravity and sin that the imposition of Islamic rules on the sinful world of unbelievers was intended to prevent, and why they’re so strict about separating men and women. It’s also why they say Muslims shouldn’t associate with non-Muslims, because it tempts them to fall into unbelievers’ sinful ways.

    To say they did it because Islamic beliefs justify it is about as reasonable as complaining that the Muslims have stolen and eaten all your bacon butties and beer that you left in the fridge, because they consider you an unbeliever and therefore your sandwich is really their sandwich. No. They’re not allowed to eat bacon, and they cut people’s hands off for thieving. But if people don’t know what Sharia law actually says, then they’re naturally going to assume that because they don’t follow *our* rules, they don’t follow rules at all.

    As I’ve done before, I strongly recommend that anyone serious about debating Islam should get a copy of ‘Reliance of the Traveller’, which sets out authoritatively and comprehensively what the *actual* laws and practices of Islam are. Many of the things Islam allows/requires are nasty, but you cannot therefore deduce that anything nasty is allowed/required by Islam!

  • As I’ve done before, I strongly recommend that anyone serious about debating Islam should get a copy of ‘Reliance of the Traveller’ (Nullius in Verba, February 27, 2019 at 4:22 pm)

    I would rather recommend study (with a firm grip on the rule of abrogation) of the Koran and the Hadith (translated long long ago), to study of a 14th-century scholar’s opus (in a recent English translation?). I trust your ‘Reliance of the Traveller’ has a section on taqiyya. Keller’s translation has been accused of departing noticeably from Islam as practiced by the Prophet and the first Jihadists. I am wholly unfit to comment on Arabic-original-v-English-translation issues, but I certainly note differences between your understanding of what muslims may and may not do, gained from ‘Reliance of the Traveller’, and mine, gained from specific abrogation-winning Koranic versus and specific hadith (and also scholarly commentary on these). When time permits, I will return to my sources and perhaps post more in other threads.

    There is a difference of more than centuries between Islam in the decades after the Prophet’s death, when the expectation of continuous conquest until the whole world was Islamic was confirmed by much experience and very little checked by any failure, and Islam in the 14th century, when that world had experience of long periods of reverses, and was accustomed to periods of truce with the Dar al-Harb, to immigration and counter-immigration between it and the Dar al-Islam, and needed to evolve and interpret the rules for all that.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I would rather recommend study (with a firm grip on the rule of abrogation) of the Koran and the Hadith (translated long long ago), to study of a 14th-century scholar’s opus (in a recent English translation?).”

    Ideally, yes. The problem is that deriving a consistent body of law from the contradictory bulk of the Koran, Haddith, Tafsir, sunnah, etc. is more than a lifetime’s study. Everything has to be interpreted in context, there are as you say the rules of abrogation, the reliability of different chains of sources of haddith, the background customs of the Arabic tribes, the historical context, and matters of scriptural variation or peculiarities of Classical Arabic language. Most people don’t have the time or inclination.

    But Islamic scholars have spent centuries doing precisely that. ‘Reliance’ was one of the better summaries of their conclusions, and when Keller translated it in 1991 is was the first English manual on Sharia to get the endorsement of the theological college of the university of Al Azhar, probably the most respected centre of Islamic study in the world. It’s also endorsed (see the documents in the preface to the book) by senior scholars of all the schools of Sunni Islam. It includes al-Misri’s original text, and additions and commentary by modern experts in Islamic law to say where the different schools of Islam differ, and to bring it up to date with modern issues.

    You’re never going to get everyone in the Islamic world to agree, but it’s about as authoritative a source as a Westerner is likely to get, unless you want to spend 20 years studying it in a university.

    I first found out about it from Robert Spencer, who also strongly recommended it. If you don’t feel inclined to pay any attention to me, maybe you would be more willing to listen to him?

    “I trust your ‘Reliance of the Traveller’ has a section on taqiyya.”

    Of course. Section r8.2, if you’re interested.

    It’s also got the dirty on jihad, dhimma, forced marriage, wife-beating, and imposition of the death penalty for a wide variety of (to us) minor offences. Some of the stuff on slavery is left untranslated, but much isn’t. It’s not one of your modern apologetics.

    However, it makes clear in the section on marriage and courtship that Islam’s attitude to sex outside marriage (and slavery) is one of extreme prudery and many restrictive rules. If you think back to most repressive part of the Bible-bashing Victorian era of chaperones and not showing your ankles and corporal punishment, you get a better idea of the mindset. They have a ‘Mary Whitehouse’ attitude to ‘smut’. They’re highly authoritarian about it – social norms on sexual behaviour are strictly enforced.

    I don’t think it shows Islam in a good light. They’re certainly not very ‘liberated’, in the ‘swinging 60s’ sense of the word. But conversely, I think it shows that the behaviour of the Rotherham rapists is more like some adolescent male fantasy of sex slavery than anything in actual Sharia, and more likely the result of letting young men with no experience of socialising with the opposite sex off the leash for the first time after a lifetime of repression. If they never get the opportunity to learn how to deal with women as people, they’re more likely to treat them as sex objects when the constraints come off.

    It’s been noted that in countries where prostitution is tolerated, the incidence of rape drops. I think it may be a similar sort of effect. Because Islam forbids all sex out of marriage – pornography, masturbation, touching, kissing, even looking – men never get the opportunity to develop a mature attitude to it. When something is banned, people find illegal ways round the ruling, and their methods are usually far nastier and more dangerous than you’d get if it was permitted in a more controlled and open way. So I don’t think it’s good that Islam is so strict on sexual morality. However, given their strictness, I think the idea that Islam in any way endorses what they did is unreasonable, and we should look for explanations of their behaviour elsewhere.

    There are a lot of things we can rightly condemn Islam for. But I don’t think this is one of them.

    However, if you do dig out those other sources, I’m certainly interested. There’s always more to learn.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Thank you very very much, Niall. I too have read that Reliance of the Traveller is not entirely reliable, but links are lost and I haven’t been able to replace them.
    .

    Nullius, from my POV, a far better than the one you addressed to bobby at

    https://www.samizdata.net/2019/02/what-happens-when-a-stab-in-the-back-myth-isnt-a-myth/#comment-771023

    is this, addressed to you:

    “Where did you get that?”

    — although I know there are plenty of make-nice defenders of (current, at least) Islam out there. But so many of them seem either to pull Moral Equivalence, thus by implication excusing current abominations of people claiming Islam as their warrant, or to say that the actions are so few as not to matter, or to claim (as apparently you do) that Islam condones no such things.

    I really don’t care to get sucked into this issue, as I am certainly not a scholar of Islam, but I do take my cue from some serious students of Islam as Robert Spencer, Andrew Bostom, even Bernard Lewis to some extent; and to the real-life experiences of such people as Wafa Sultan, Ali Sina, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Brigitte Gabriel, Raymond Ibrahim, Theo van Gogh. Also from the examples of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the “Draw Mohammed” attack, and the experience of an online acquaintance of mine (and nobody’s fool), a gentleman who was personal friends with two dozen fine, upstanding Muslim fellows — all but two of whom danced round and chortled with glee when the Twin Towers and the thousands of lives within them were attacked and destroyed by Muslims specifically acting as part of Islamic Jihad.

    Then there is Rotherham, there are the Swedish Rapes, the experience of France, the London 7/7 and Mumbai subway attacks, and on and on and on.

    (Speaking of Rotherham, Niall linked to a pertinent BBC piece in the “stab-in-the-back discussion:

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-47413418 )

    And several, several smaller-scale attacks here in the U.S. — at the Boston Marathon, to name just one.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “although I know there are plenty of make-nice defenders of (current, at least) Islam out there. But so many of them seem either to pull Moral Equivalence, thus by implication excusing current abominations of people claiming Islam as their warrant, or to say that the actions are so few as not to matter, or to claim (as apparently you do) that Islam condones no such things.”

    Agreed. There are lots of people attacking Islam, lots of people defending it, and *both* sides claim the other side are lying or ignorant. I’m not going to take anyone’s word for it without evidence.

    Which is why I decided to research the original authoritative orthodox documents. ‘Reliance’ is the best and most compact summary I’ve found whose authenticity is endorsed by the Muslims, and which appears to contain very little in the way of modern apologetics. It’s quite open about topics like jihad, slavery, forced marriage, wife-beating, bag-wearing, drawing images, and death penalties for apostasy. It’s like the difference between reading legal textbooks or acts of Parliament, and listening to what some anonymous stranger on the internet says the law allows/forbids. I’d not want to assert that it’s perfect, but it’s a lot more reliable than ‘I heard it off some bloke in a bar / on the internet’.

    But I’m quite unusual in that I don’t even take people’s word for it when they’re politically on the same side as me. I won’t just accept arguments because I like their conclusions. I dislike the hypocrisy of lefties who will accept or reject evidence based on whether they confirm or dispute their prior political beliefs – my principles demand that I try to be just as critical about the arguments and evidence on ‘my side’ of the debate as I would want them to be about theirs. That doesn’t always help me make friends!

  • Julie near Chicago

    “But I’m quite unusual in that I don’t even take people’s word for it when they’re politically on the same side as me. I won’t just accept arguments because I like their conclusions.”

    Me neither, Nullius.

  • Nullius in Verba

    Since you mentioned Robert Spencer, you might be interested in noting the number of times he cites Reliance. Not that you should take his word for it, either! 🙂

    https://www.google.com/search?q=reliance+of+the+traveller+site:www.jihadwatch.org

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