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February 28, 2007

Reconciling Two World Views

In our morning reading, two items which could not more clearly underscore the deadly moral paralysis in which we find ourselves mired these days. Over at QandO, a clarion voice from the Arab world speaks freely of uncomfortable matters:

"When you discover that a woman is worth half of what a man is worth, or less – do not be surprised, you are in an Arab country...

"When you see that the authorities chop off a man's hand for stealing a loaf of bread or a penny, but praise and glorify those who steal billions – do not be too surprised, you are in an Arab country...

"When you are forced to worship the Creator in school and your teachers grade you for it – you can be sure that you are in an Arab country...

"When young women students are publicly flogged merely for exposing their eyes – you are in an Arab country...

"When a boy learns about menstruation and childbirth but not about his own [body] and [the changes] it undergoes in puberty – roll out your prayer mat and beseech Allah to help you deal with your crisis, for you are in an Arab country...

"When land is more important than human beings – you are in an Arab country...

"When covering the woman's head is more important than financial and administrative corruption, embezzlement, and betrayal of the homeland – do not be astonished, you are in an Arab country...

"When minorities are persecuted and oppressed, and if they demand their rights, are accused of being a fifth column or a Trojan horse – be upset, you are in an Arab country...

"When women are [seen as] house ornaments which can be replaced at any time – bemoan your fate, you are in an Arab country.

"When birth control and family planning are perceived as a Western plot – place your trust in Allah, you are in an Arab country...

"When at any time, there can be a knock on your door and you will be dragged off and buried in a dark prison – you are in an Arab country...

"When fear constantly lives in the eyes of the people – you can be certain that you are in an Arab country."

While in America, the land of the free, the same ideas are ruled off limits:

You can be an Islamophobe, or you can contribute to Dean's World. You cannot do both.

This is meant for front-page contributors, submitters, or even commenters. It is time for you to make a choice, and to live by that choice. Because I certainly intend to.

Simply put, you must agree with all of the following assertions:

1) Islam does not represent the forces of Satan or the Anti-Christ bent on destruction of the Christian world.

2) There is no 1,400 year old "war with the West/Christianity" being waged by Muslims or anyone else.

3) Islam as a religion is no more inherently incompatible with modernity, minority rights, women's rights, or democratic pluralism than most religions.

4) Medieval, anachronistic, obscure terms like "dhimmitude" or "taqiyya" are suitable for polite intellectual discussion. They are not and never will be appropriate to slap in the face of everyday Muslims or their friends.

5) Muslims have no more need to prove that they can be good Americans, loyal citizens, decent people, or enemies of terrorism than anyone else does.

Is this a test of "ideological purity?"

Why yes. Yes it is.

If you cannot accept, wholeheartedly, all of the above 5 assertions--without exception or weasel-wording--then if you are a front page Dean's World contributor you should turn in your keys and say goodbye. You can do it gracefully or ingracefully. You can do it by email or by posting whatever you want on the front page before you go. Your choice. But you need to do it: you need to leave.

Furthermore, I will accept no more debate upon this matter by commenters bent upon snarky, snotty, Islamophobic irrationality. You should either stop using your comment account, or you should be prepared to simply be thrown out without further ado.

It occurs to us that the 5 assertions listed above raise a number of interesting questions. Unfortunately, none of them will ever be debated at Dean's World. Is it just coincidence that women and minorities do not have anything even approaching equal rights in even a single Islamic state, or is that question off limits too? Is Islam, as Islam does? Or are the excesses of Islam mere perversions of an otherwise "inherently democratic" religion? Do words have specific, concrete, meanings or do they mean whatever we wish them to mean for the purposes of winning an argument?

It is stipulated that Dean has the absolute right to do as he wishes with his own site, and others have the right to discuss the merits of his decision, though not to expect him to change it. But what value can there possibly be in the suppression of discussion? If an idea is wrong, let it be openly debated and refuted by better ideas.

It is the refusal to entertain challenge and debate that has kept so much of the Arab world in darkness for decades. It is their increasing willingness to allow the exchange of ideas that is finally changing this for the better. It is not racism or Islamophobia to honestly discuss differences in culture, especially when they are causing major friction both domestically and in the foreign policy arena. In fact, some would view wrestling with the implications of these differences as a vital strategy if we hope to bridge the gulf between our two worlds.

Posted by Cassandra at February 28, 2007 08:17 AM

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As you say, it is up to "Dean Esmay" (whoever he is) as to what he wants to do on his site, and who really cares about that, anyways?
I don't quite know what he (Esmay) is driving at, but I also find it alarming, in certain ways, when I read certain commenters on the "Belmont Club" advocating genocide of hundreds of millions of Muslims as a "necessity" to securing our future. What kind of future that would be, who knows?
In any political debate, there will be people driven to desparation and the extreme polarity of viewpoints. Maybe that's what "Dean's World" is trying to forstall, in some way (or just heading for the obscurity of the trashcan, after a flurry of hits over this policy he is installing.)
Ayaan Hirsi Ali was on C-Span the other Sunday, speaking from AEI. I think that some may be too quick to idnetify with her, but I wonder how she would react to "#3" above? May Dean Esmay should read her book, "Infidel". Naw, that might confound his idealogical purity.

Who are "everyday Muslims"? The Muslims that are members of Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam, that stopped me in traffic about 10 years ago to slap handbills on my car? The expatriate Lebanese shopkeeper that sells Middle East delicacies at a store on North High St,. in Columbus, which I used to frequent with my former Iraqi-Kurd boss (who was a non-believer, by the way)?
Not being a scholar on the subject, just curious as to how we "know" these things. After reading a biography of Saladin last year, I was struck by how little things have changed in 900 years. Saladin was appalled, when living (as a hostage) with the Christians in lands that had been conquered and held by the Crusaders, that Christian wives walked alongside their husbands (not behind), and could actually speak to other men when their husbands were not around. 900 years ago. How things change.

I don't know whether Esmay wants to go back to September 10, 2001, or thinks he is going beyond the present debate and being progressive. But I think he lacks intellectual honesty in negating what has actually been said and done in the last "1,400 years". Constantinople was once the seat of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church. There are large historic mosques there that were once Christian churches. There are old churches all over the Middle East that are now mosques. Nothing to see here. Move along.
I wonder how the Hindus of India feel about the medieval rule of the Moghul Empire of India (Muslim rule). Nothing to see there. All to disappear down the memory hole of history.

I wonder how the Buddhist Thais of present day Thailand feel about the brewing civil war between them and the Muslims in the south. Sorry, can't talk about that at "Dean's World".

"Dean's World" has become a silly place. Let's not go there anymore.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at February 28, 2007 10:06 AM

I just find the efficacy of defending Islam from those who think it is characterized by inflexibility and the refusal to tolerate other points of view by... oh, I don't know, adopting inflexibility and the refusal to tolerate other points of view somewhat questionable.

But as you say, it's his site. It does seem a shame, though.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 28, 2007 10:19 AM

So, is Wajeha Al-Huwaider (the Saudi in QandO's post) an Islamophobe, embracing "fucking nutjob conspiracy theorist murderer logic?" (Dean's words, naturally.)

I have the overwhelming urge to comment there and advise him to learn Arabic quickly, because that's basically the language he'll have to learn to communicate effectively with the only people who'll be left there.
(Nah, I'm not going to. But it sure is tempting to toss in a bit of snark, since I have a login there that I never use anyway.)

thinks he is going beyond the present debate and being progressive.

Yep, that's it. He's a Defender of "the liberal tradition in history, science, and philosophy."


Posted by: Beth at February 28, 2007 10:34 AM

As you write, it is up to Dean to decide on his blog. But, it is funny how he finds that anyone who has those beliefs is an Islamaphobe. Quite frankly, sounds like how the Left debates: if you believe A, you must be a ....phobe. It is simply the use of a word to stifle debate on real issues.

The very fact is that the Koran states specifically what the duties of Muslims are. Those we call radicals are not really radical: they are following the words of Mohammed. Those who we think of as moderates are the real radicals, for not following the Prophets words.

As for Muslims not having to prove themselves, I can see his point, but, it is not Christians going around the world blowing themselves, and others, up on a constant basis. Sure, some do bad things in the name of Christianity, but it is very rare, and, those are really the extremists. Dean misses the point that Islam is inherently a violent religion, based on the Koran. Christianity stresses peace, based on the teachings of Jesus. When Christian missionaries go into areas, they do it peacefully. When Muslims do it, they kill. Witness Darfur.

Islam may not represent the forces of Satan, but, it sure represents something bad.

And, as you say, Islam is certainly incompatible with women's rights, and will be as long as people follow the Koran. It is inherent in the system. Same for minorities. It is an outdated philosphy, designed for male domination and control, as well as control of the world, mostly at the point of a sword.

All in all, he just wants to stifle debate, for whatever reason. He is entitled on his site, but, it is simply putting the liberal blinders on, ignoring the reality of the situation.

Posted by: William Teach at February 28, 2007 10:38 AM

As I said, in general I'm not terribly impressed by 'winning' arguments by disparaging your opponent :p

If you sincerely believe in your position, defend it with logic and facts, not ad hominems or refusal to discuss the matter further. That accomplishes nothing. In my mind, it is legitimate to question why there are no Islamic states where women and minorities have fully equal rights in practice. That doesn't equate to demonizing Muslims, frankly, because I continue to reject the notion that "those people" are incapable of democratic government. If I did not, I could not support the war as I do.

It's just that there is often a gap between our aspirations and reality. Ignoring this gap doesn't help us close it.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 28, 2007 10:51 AM

I know I am not above throwing some attacks out there, but, I generally try to back it up with some facts and figures. And, will refuse to discuss certain issues anymore, such as "was 9/11 an inside job?" I can see how Dean may want to reduce the sleaze, but to totally cut off debate when we have hard evidence that the Muslims do want to destroy western civilization if we will not submit, and, in particular, America, is ludicrous.

Muslim nations can move into the 21st century, if they can put aside old ways, particularly those regarding women.

Posted by: William Teach at February 28, 2007 11:37 AM

Do you think I might get banned for saying Islam is a plagiarized "religion" (ideology) invented by a psychotic pedophile, and that he got the name "Allah" from the then-worshipped god of the Moon (Al-Ilah)?

Sorry, I can't be reasonable like y'all are. This is just too funny. I might have to declare this week "Insult the Islamotards Week" or something in Dean's honor, just to be a really juvenile smartass.

Posted by: Beth at February 28, 2007 11:47 AM

If you sincerely believe in your position, defend it with logic and facts, not ad hominems or refusal to discuss the matter further.

What about snark?! You of all people, Cassandra!

Posted by: Beth at February 28, 2007 11:48 AM

On some sites I refuse to discuss the matter because no matter how much you can present an opposite POV, people will hold their cherished
ignorance as being inviolate, especially if they have a prejudice that they don't want to let go of.

Even after all this time, there are people who believe whole heartedly that US troops fired on that Italian journalist and her driver for the laughs and giggles of it, just because the stupid bimbo told her driver to run past the checkpoint.

No matter how many times this has been confirmed,
it comes down to hatred for an institution and anything that it represents.

The difference here is what Cass stated and for
someone to screech and whine about dissent being
disrespectful is cherishing his own delusions.
To the detriment of the whole.

Posted by: Cricket at February 28, 2007 01:10 PM

Snark is always appropriate!

Posted by: Snarkette at February 28, 2007 02:23 PM

One can be snarky and still use facts and logic to do it...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at February 28, 2007 03:35 PM

Well, I have found that if I am being snarky, I have either engaged in an ad hominem attack (though no names were mentioned and no names were called) or I am being a mean spirited poopyhead.

This of course, is at the discretion of one who
sez that the ROE are what they 'feel' they are.

In a nutshell, Marquess of Queensbury rules (aka Jesuit debating tactics).

I am underwhelmed.

Posted by: Cricket at February 28, 2007 04:10 PM

Sometimes, snark is all that is left. Long conversations with facts on topics such as global warming as caused by Man and Evolution v creationism and ID often lead to snark, as they will not listen to facts.

Then one has to go Pandagon :)

Posted by: William Teach at February 28, 2007 05:37 PM

I snark, therefore I am.

*brushing off hands and popping open a beer*

Posted by: Sly2017 at February 28, 2007 05:45 PM

Dean must have morphed into something else because he used to be what I considered a more common sense liberal.
He was usually fair and gave specific reasons why he agreed or disagreed with someone / thing.

Islamophobe? The word itself bothers me more than anything.

Islam: Religion. Phob(ia) - Fear (of).
Islamophobe: Fear of Islam

So I don't like Islam and disagree with it entirely and that makes me afraid of it?
I'm pretty sure that "fear of Islam" isn't what most of these people mean when they say or write it, but that's the literal translation.

An hour ago I just added my name to the list of DoD civilians who want to work in Iraq.
If I'd know ahead of time, that I was afraid of Islam, I would never have done that.

Posted by: Joatmoaf at February 28, 2007 08:45 PM

3) Islam as a religion is no more inherently incompatible with modernity, minority rights, women's rights, or democratic pluralism than most religions.

This is technically true, however sharia law is incompatible with freedom of religion, homosexuality and women's rights as practiced in Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Posted by: unaha-closp at March 1, 2007 06:52 AM

Joatmoaf- Cool! Truck driver, general contractor, specialist?

Posted by: Sailorette/Foxfier at March 1, 2007 03:58 PM

Don't know yet. I haven't seen the list of positions but it's more along the construction and repair of infrastructure type stuff.

It's supposed to be sort of a mix between military personnel and civil service employees under the direction of the State Dept.
Civilian contractors aren't a part of this program. Just the military and DoD employees.

No truck driving for me.

Posted by: Joatmoaf at March 1, 2007 05:07 PM

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