Proponents of the burqa ban do not propose to ban all these objectifying practices. Indeed, they often participate in them. (…) Once again, then, the opponents of the burqa are utterly inconsistent, betraying a fear of the different that is discriminatory and unworthy of a liberal democracy. The way to deal with sexism, in this case as in all, is by persuasion and example, not by removing liberty
Archive for the 'Islamophobia' Category
10news.com reports this:
A woman who wore an Islamic head scarf to a local bank said she was turned away and singled out, and is a victim of discrimination.
Amal Hersi and her family moved to the U.S. from Somalia in search of freedom. Hersi said she’s had the freedom she’s wanted, up until last Saturday.
“I felt like a criminal. I felt humiliated. I fell ashamed,” said Hersi.
Hersi said she was waiting in line at the Navy Federal Credit Union in Mission Valley when she said she was stopped by an employee.
“So she goes, ‘Ma’am, could you follow me?’ And at that point I was like what did I do wrong?” said Hersi.
Hersi said the reason was because she wore a traditional Muslim scarf.
Anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish feelings are rising in several major European countries, according to a worldwide survey released on Wednesday.
The Washington-based Pew Research Centre’s global attitude survey found 46 percent of Spanish, 36 percent of Poles and 34 percent of Russians view Jews unfavourably, while the same was true for 25 percent of Germans, and 20 percent of French. [...]
The figures are all higher than in comparable Pew surveys done in recent years, the report said, and “in a number of countries the increase has been especially notable between 2006 and 2008.”
Opinions of Muslims are also dimming compared to previous years with 52 percent in Spain, 50 percent in Germany, 46 percent in Poland and 38 percent in France having negative attitudes toward them. [...]
“There is a clear relationship between anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim attitudes,” the report said. “(Those) that view Jews unfavourably also tend to see Muslims in a negative light.”
Fêted writer Paul Verhaeghen writes
It’s just that the literature I care about sings in many tongues: It can be Brits with deep new roots in Japanese society, recovering Muslims investigating the human core at the heart of religion, women examining the true awfulness of masculinity, white Americans having a long hard look at our racism past and present, Jews writing about “passing”, Americans writing in French, Russians writing in English, or dying men turning back to stare unblinkingly into the void of life’s true evil.
Um, no. Since the books in question are David Mitchell Cloud Atlas, Salman Rushdie Satanic Verses, Donna Tartt The Secret History, Richard Powers The Time of our Singing, Philip Roth The Human Stain, Jonathan Littell Les Bienveillantes, Nabokov Pale Fire, Roberto Bolano 2666, the correct answer’s no, the “literature” you “care about” doesn’t really sing in many tongues, at least not in a nontrivial sense.
As far as that Rushdie phrase is concerned, that’s wrong on so many levels, I get bored just thinking about it. Dude, it’s almost like reading your novel.
In a recent post @ the “On Faith” panel at the Washington Post online, Eboo Patel starts off writing
Susan Sontag once wrote, “Whatever is happening, something else is always going on.” While newspaper headlines are dominated by stories of hatred and violence between Jews and Muslims, there is a quiet revolution taking place off the radar screen.
In the recent issue of Reform Judaism, the movement’s magazine, Yoffie writes: “The time has come to engage in dialogue with our Muslim neighbors and to educate ourselves about Islam.”
Professor Ingrid Mattson, the President of ISNA (an umbrella body for the millions of American Muslims) responded in kind by traveling to the URJ Convention and making these remarks:
“Muslims have instinctively turned to the example of Jews in America to understand how to deal with the challenges we face as religious minorities [...].”
There are other Muslim-Jewish efforts afoot. [...]
We might actually be at a tipping point on this seemingly impossible issue.
Was für ein Saftladen. Nicht nur wendet sich zuerst die Kölner CDU gegen einen Ratsbeschluß, die Bevölkerungsmehrheit und die Vernunft, indem sie einen bereits beschlossenen und abgenickten Moscheebau behindert, jetzt gibt es ein ganz ähnliches Schmierentheater um das geplante jüdische Museum. Liza schreibt
Die Reaktionen auf den Siegerentwurf fielen durchweg positiv aus, auch bei den Stadtoberen. „Dankbar und froh“ war etwa Oberbürgermeister Fritz Schramma, dass „an dem historischen Platz, wie es ihn in dieser Konstellation nördlich der Alpen kein zweites Mal gibt“, eine Lösung gefunden wurde. Auch Kulturdezernent Georg Quander („mir fällt mit der Entscheidung ein Stein vom Herzen“) und Städtebaudezernent Bernd Streitberger („genial, eine fast poetische Architektur“) zeigten sich sehr zufrieden. Es schien, als seien alle Hürden überwunden, zumal der Förderverein zuversichtlich war, die Frage der Finanzierung – laut Schramma „eine schwierige Aufgabe, aber eine lösbare“ – schnell und erfolgreich zu klären. [...]
Doch nur wenige Tage nach der Entscheidung wollten die politischen Verantwortungsträger Kölns plötzlich nichts mehr von ihrem ursprünglichen Urteil wissen. „Der Entwurf stellt einen Riesenkomplex dar, der so hoch ist wie das Rathaus“, klagte der Oberbürgermeister nun im Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.
This was writ in the Independent
Islamophobia – defined in 1997 by the landmark report from the Runnymede Trust as ‘an outlook or world-view involving an unfounded dread and dislike of Muslims, which results in practices of exclusion and discrimination’ – can be encountered in the best circles: among our most famous novelists, among newspaper columnists, and in the Church of England.
“Its appeal is wide-ranging. ‘I am an Islamophobe’, the Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee wrote in The Independent nearly 10 years ago. ‘Islamophobia?’ the Sunday Times columnist Rod Liddle asks rhetorically in the title of a recent speech, ‘Count me in’. Imagine Liddle declaring: ‘Anti-Semitism? Count me in’, or Toynbee claiming she was ‘an anti-Semite and proud of it’.
“Anti-Semitism is recognised as an evil, noxious creed, and its adherents are barred from mainstream society and respectable organs of opinion. Not so Islamophobia. (via)
Yes, not all assumptions here are good, but following the online bile of some bigots I know makes me somewhat stop caring for smaller details.
A Muslim-style turban is perceived as a threat, according to a new study, even by people who don’t realize they hold the prejudice, dubbed “the turban effect” by researchers.
Research volunteers played a computer game that showed apartment balconies on which different figures appeared, some wearing Muslim-style turbans or hijabs and others bare-headed. They were told to shoot at the targets carrying guns and spare those who were unarmed, with points awarded accordingly.
People were much more likely to shoot Muslim-looking characters – men or women – even if they were carrying an innocent item instead of a weapon, the researchers found.
“Whether they’re holding a steel coffee mug or a gun, people are just more likely to shoot at someone who is wearing a turban,” says author Christian Unkelbach, a visiting scholar at Australia’s University of New South Wales. “Just putting on this piece of clothing changes people’s behaviour.”
Just, y’ know. Food for thought. Generally speaking, yes, I distrust studies like these, but because it fits my own argument, I’ma turn a blind eye on this. Liberal bias. Yessir.
From an old-ish piece by Eboo Patel
The message was clear – Muslims need to place themselves at the heart of what is happening here and now, to conceive of themselves as citizens who contribute to matters at the center of things, not people who pass through on the margins.
In other words, it is time for the narrative to shift. American Muslims can no longer see themselves as primarily an immigrant group. We have to see ourselves as a community indigenous to America, a contributing member of a pluralist society.
It is a story that has the added benefit of being true. A significant number of the African slaves brought to America’s shores were Muslim. (See Unity Productions excellent film A Prince Among Slaves). Approximately 25 % of the American Muslim community today is African American, not immigrant, and includes some (actually, most) of American Islam’s most prominent members – Congressman Keith Ellison, comedian Dave Chappelle, hip hop artist Mos Def, and former boxer Muhammad Ali. And the children of the immigrant generation are coming of age, taking our places in professional life, buying homes, raising our own children. We have no dreams of returning to India or Indonesia. We are American. And Muslim.
I have been talking about these issues several times now, but still, I find it astonishing when smart people read a clearly aggressively xenophobic article like this one and find themselves nodding in time to the beat which is so obviously wrong in so many respects. The first sentence should ring several alarm bells
It seems too lunatic to be true. But here a hair salon boss reveals how she was driven to the brink of ruin – and forced to pay £4,000 for ‘hurt feelings’ – after refusing to hire a Muslim stylist who wouldn’t show her hair at work
It hits all the right buttons for its clientele. How the hairdresser is introduced, how the issue is both played up and played down, in all the right ways. It’s nauseating, right there.
And the smart people all readily jump to the flimsy excuse put forward by the woman, the rag that calls itself the Daily Mail and the BNP: of course, a hairdresser can’t cover her head. Bah. Has a person who agrees with this article never asked him- or herself, whether the scarf is just a marker of something alien and is not accepted because it represents, in a way, The Other? I know many, many bald hairdressers. I wonder if a white, plainly ‘British’ person, who wanted to wear a scarf for whatever cooky reason, would have similar problems? But the ugliness resides deeper.
Funny that even that hateful article cannot hide what, in many countries, is part of an ugly truth:
But, speaking last year, she admitted she had attended 25 interviews for hairdressing jobs without success.
But Sarah, she told the tribunal, had upset her the most.
She said: ‘I felt so down and got so depressed. I thought: “If I am not going to defend myself, who is?” Hairdressing has been what I’ve wanted to do ever since I was at high school.
No deconstructive reading necessary here, just openness, really. A certain anglocentric mindset might overlook it, but the situation described here is a common problem for Muslims and colored immigrants all over Europe. They have a tough time getting jobs. The job market has become selective, weeding out non-whites, people living in the wrong neighborhoods, ‘wrong’ unfailingly meaning an identification with an unwanted ethnic group. It’s become difficult to get a credit with a mainstream bank, CV’s are often rejected just because of the photograph. In France this situation has lead to the uprisings in the banlieues of Paris in 2005.
In other countries, too, Muslims are driven to the margins, to create their own networks to support those who are not supported elsewhere. These networks, then, appear to alienate a good portion of, for instance, the British electorate, making the situation worse and the networks more necessary. It’s a horrible situation and by making arrogant “ah what’s she complaining aboot” comments about it, comments that smack heavily of cynicism, no-one’s helping anyone.
So what is she complaining about? This hairdresser-in-the-making has had many rejections, and, as this article in the Guardian correctly points out, the reason why the poor white woman was sued, has had more to do with her honesty than with her being an exceptionally racist person. Probably more than 70% of those rejecting the girl share the hairdresser’s opinion, as I explained above.
Is that a reason not to sue? They’re all bastards, sue all or none? That’s daft, no? But, read the article again, the constant discrimination may have weakened the girl’s resolve, but being explicitly rejected because of her belief (and let’s not mince words here, please) has humiliated her. Would the hairdresser have been sued if she’d lied? Probably not. Should she have been sued? Yes. So why is it any argument to persist in saying that all this case ‘teaches’ us is to be dishonest? Do I hear a trace of a scornful Republican hizz “zzzzz it’s all that political correctness mumbo jumbo” here? Why would someone smart say that? I don’t know. It’s too lunatic to be true.
This @ Jezebel
Perhaps you have already let out a long woebegone sigh re the news of the two Obama volunteers who barred headscarf-wearing Muslim women from sitting near him at a rally in Detroit on Monday so as not to generate any more photographic fodder for the insane wing conspiracy. [...]
The biggest community of hijab-wearers I ever met worked with me at the phone sex call center, where I would regularly watch one habitually fiddle with her scarves as she regaled clients with detailed descriptions of her denim miniskirt and red lace thong and horny San Fernando Valley cheerleading squad’s locker room antics.
Obviously, one cannot bear witness to such a spectacle and emerge without entertaining thought: “God I love this country.” Which is, seven years on in this dumb Terror War, what makes this headscarf thing so infuriating: where K-Mart is free to peddle track pants that advertise abstinence from sex on their asses and the Secretary of State can don boots that look swiped from an S&M dungeon and pop culture celebrates bearded cross dressers…what does anyone give a shit about headscarves for? Where the perpetuation of conformity and envy is still the primary role of fashion, a lot more civilians will die at the hands of those who covet their Nikes than those who hate their “freedom” to wear them.
As a German, this short piece on the rise of the BNP sends shivers up my spine.
The party’s electoral success came after it began concentrating its attacks on Muslims. Since 9/11 and the Asian riots in the North of England in 2001 it has gained representation on local authorities from Burnley, Kirklees and Rotherham in the North to Stoke-on-Trent, Sandwell and Nuneaton in the Midlands and Epping in Essex.
A French court has fined former film star Brigitte Bardot 15,000 euros (£12,000) for inciting racial hatred.
She was prosecuted over a letter published on her website that complained Muslims were “destroying our country by imposing their ways”.
It is the fifth time Ms Bardot been convicted over her controversial remarks about Islam and its followers. This is her heaviest fine so far. [...]
The fine – equivalent to $23,000 – related to a letter she wrote in December 2006 to the then Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, which was published on her website, in which she deplored the slaughter of animals for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. [...]
She said she was “tired of being led by the nose by this population that is destroying us, destroying our country by imposing its acts”.
In a letter to the court Ms Bardot, who is a prominent animal rights campaigner, insisted she had a right to speak up for animal welfare.
The prosecutor said she was weary of charging Ms Bardot with offences relating to racial hatred and xenophobia.
I am so sick of all these dumb people “defending the West” against some phantom horde of turks or something, all these people who extol the virtues of ‘The West’ (what an irrelevant description of a place on a round planet!) and demand, yes demand, of immigrants (and they always, always mean Muslim immigrants) that they adhere to the high standards of tolerance espoused by ‘the West’. Yes, YOU, dirty Muslim, if you want to live here, YOU will have to accept and embrace our tolerance for all religions and minorities such as gays, for instance.
Apparently these staunch defenders don’t know their own countries. For example, people in ‘The West’ don’t like gays all that much. The most challenged book in the US is, once again, And Tango Makes Three:
A children’s story about a family of penguins with two fathers once again tops the list of library books the American public objects to the most.
And Tango Makes Three, released in 2005 and co-written by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, was the most “challenged” book in U.S. public schools and libraries for the second straight year, according to the American Library Association.
“The complaints are that young children will believe that homosexuality is a lifestyle that is acceptable. The people complaining, of course, don’t agree with that,” Judith Krug, director of the association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, said in an interview yesterday.
Neither, judging from voices in West Virginia, do they like blacks very much. Or, still the primary, women. But we’re not as bad as them rag heads, right? I hear them proclaim behind their beer hump. Yes there is a difference, even a fairly large one. But it’s a difference in degree, not a difference in kind. And it’s utterly despicable, and dishonest, that so-called cultural differences are played up as if they, in fact were differences in kind, to justify treatment that is unwarranted, racist and entirely unacceptable.
Interesting statement in the post:
“Western stereotypes surrounding the hijab – the scarf that covers the neck and hair of Muslim women – include the assumption that women are wearing it because of subjugation and religious indoctrination. Some argue that such coverage is used to make women subservient and invisible. But what really makes them invisible is assuming that the women who choose to wear the hijab, the abaya or anything else did not make the choice themselves.”
It does gloss over important issues, but the point is well worth making.
I have talked to people recently who extolled the virtues of disagreeing with academic opinion, regardless of the soundness of yr arguments against the old position. They appeared to be entirely unfazed by the fact that the argument in these books seems to rely entirely on common sense, not on thinking or careful reasoning (for example this book).
Last night it occurred to me that the funny thing about most of these ‘rebellious’ attacks against the academic establishment is that they only work for a reader who is rather roughly or not at all acquainted with the ‘facts’. While it is true that many of these ‘facts’ are created by academia (and I would be the very last person to defend something like ‘objective historical facts’, indeed I think that to posit the existence of knowable objective historical facts means almost always a shoddy methodological framework) and that there is a strong intolerance against alternative theories, the carefully reasoned book that would actually have an impact on the generally accepted theory is rare. The only thing it actually does is stir up the uneducated masses without educating them first. It’s pure demagoguery, and not in a nice way.
This is anti-intellectualism at its worst. It may not look like this sometimes but take a closer look at the premises and you’ll see it. And Common Sense, as the instrument of such arguments, appears to me sometimes to be downright evil. I am not very firm on English etymology, but the German equivalent, “gesunder Menschenverstand”, which, roughly, awkwardly, translates as “healthy human reasoning”, shows how Common Sense works. It attacks things which are outside of a given societal norm, which, of course, reflects strongly the dominant anti-emancipatory ideas of a given society. Small wonder then that, say, in the realm of philosophy, books, nay, pamphlets abound which are bashing Feminism and any strain of postmodern/poststructuralist thought that is not in agreement with the dominant norm. The sick elements of society, if you will, channeling Agamben and Foucault here.
Thus, Common Sense often surfaces in the most evil of contexts. Antisemitic, racist literature is built on a foundation of ‘common sense’. The whole insidious concept of political correctness is built on ‘common sense’ as well, the idea being that, if we were really honest, we would admit that what is perceived as ‘pc speech’ is really only pc mumbo-jumbo. There is, as to modern antisemitism, an aspect of down-to-earth, almost agrarian, simplicity to the whole thing. Small wonder that both concepts can often be found in nationalistic ‘Blut und Boden’-contexts and in anti-cosmopolitanist arguments. It does not, though, usually make an appearance in islamophobic contexts, as the stereotypes directed at that particular minority are others. Debauchery, decadence, yes, but Islam is so strongly identified with a particular ethnic group that the particular nexus described above is never really activated. Islamophobia is, currently, a rather obvious affair, and so widely and fundamentally accepted, that it has had no need to hide behind a rhetorical veil yet.
The strangest aspect of this, though, is that even intellectuals, and those who are very much in favor of emancipatory movements, tend to view ‘common sense’ and the gesture of rebellion as an acceptable ally in the battle against orthodoxy and then proceed to attack nilly-willy those who work within orthodoxy, who urge others to try to read and understand what you are criticizing before you go off on a 200page commonsensical rant (or at least to be open to arguments from orthodox academia). Happened to me once here and several times in person. And no, this is not about left-wing antisemitism (think anticapitalism, think usury). And no, I have no answer to this, really. It baffles me, honestly. Did I mention that they are all really, really smart, some of them way, way smarter than this blog’s dim-witted excuse for an author? They are. You see me throwing my hands up. I have no answer. Do you have one? I’d love to hear it. A book you can direct me to?
Have a great week, btw., folks.
Found this on openDemocracy
A comprehensive FBI report published recently has highlighted the threat from domestic, home-grown extremists from a variety of groups, including those on the “extreme fringes” of social movements such as the “Animal Liberation Front” (classified as “special-interest terrorism”) to far right groups which often take “racist and racial supremacy and embrace antigovernment, antiregulatory” platforms.
The toD verdict: Since 9/11 and the inception of the “war on terrorism”, the threat posed by “domestic terrorism” has been conflated with Muslims residing in the US. Yet, an astounding 23 out of 24 terorrist attacks domestic terrorist attacks that took place between 2002-2005 were carried out by ‘special interest’ terror groups. As the report points out, the greater threat arises from fascist, right wing groups.
On Helen de Witt’s wonderful blog I found this
Urvoy points out an oddity which he calls the paradoxe du bouquiniste. Anyone who spends a lot of time at secondhand bookstalls finds an image of the history of French thought in the 18th century quite different from what he was taught. In his studies they would have talked only of thinkers who were opposed to established religion, above all to religious orthodoxy; but in the bookstalls one finds a vast army of defenders of the faith, names one has never heard of, or heard of only as someone who criticised Rousseau… Since the Renaissance, he suggests, we have placed emphasis on originality, on individualism, so our intellectual history devalues whatever was typical of its time, rates highly whatever was at least self-proclaimed as original. Books offer us chapters on great individuals, with perhaps a dutiful chapter on background which the reader feels free to ignore.
In the history of Arab thought, on the other hand, the opposite is true. It has been written not by philosophers but by historians, and they privilege “representative” authors. The Arab philosophers who drew on the Greek philosophical tradition have just about managed to get taken seriously because of their immense influence on Scholasticism – but many Islamic scholars regard them askance as marginal thinkers. Attention was concentrated on the religious apologists, who were seen as expressing the essence of Arabic-Islamic thought. [I am writing this awkward English because paraphrasing DU, something I do very badly.]
Urvoy comments: the enterprise of setting out a collective structure of thought, with occasional detailed studies of individuals, is entirely legitimate. But isn’t there something odd about this radical antithesis between the study of Western and of Arab thought? Can it really be right for the Arabist to concentrate solely on writers whose equivalents he would despise if he were a specialist of the 18th-century in France?
More on the Pope’s outrageous behavior. Susan Jacoby wrote last week
Benedikt has taken less trouble [...] to conceal his dedication to a theology that regards other religions (not to mention secularism) as inferior. The pope’s personal baptism, at a widely publicized Easter vigil service, of an Egyptian-born Muslim, Magdi Allam [...] is a case in point. Allam, in a column discussing his conversion, wrote in his newspaper that the “root of all evil is innate in an Islam that is physiologically violent and historically conflictual.” [...]
Allam, who once attended a Catholic school in Egypt, is persona non grata not only to most Muslims but to a great many secular Italians, who tend to view his conversion as an exemplary “out of the frying pan, into the fire” move. [...]
Does anyone seriously think that the Vatican finances mission schools around the world because it does not hope to gain converts? In this regard, it should be noted, the Catholic Church does not differ from other proselytizing Christian churches that offer a wide variety of social services along with a strong dose of religious indoctrination. [...]
The Catholic emphasis on conversion has remained remarkably consistent throughout history. Pope John Paul II’s canonization of the Carmelite nun Edith Stein, a German Catholic convert from Judaism who died in Auschwitz, is a prime example. Stein was sent to Auschwitz for one reason: she was born a Jew, and for the Nazis, no religious conversion wiped out the “racial” stain of Jewishness. Yet the church considers her a Catholic martyr–a position as offensive to many Jews, and as impervious to the fact of who was targeted for extermination during the Holocaust–as some of Benedict’s statements about Islam have been to many Muslims. Stein was murdered by the Nazis because of her Jewish “blood,” not her Catholic faith.
Of course, Benedict can get away with offending Muslims more easily at the moment than he can with offending Jews. Much of post-Christian, secular Europe is terrified of the Muslim immigrants in its midst and would probably love to see a population of Muslim converts to Catholicism.
Kakutani on Amis’ new book
Equally offensive are the eruptions of anti-Islamic vituperation [...].
In this book Mr. Amis says that, going through airport security with his daughters, he wants to say something like: “Even Islamists have not yet started to blow up their own families on airplanes. So please desist until they do. Oh yeah: and stick, for now, to young men who look like they’re from the Middle East.”
Reviewing Mark Steyn’s controversial book, “America Alone” — which forecasts a dark future in which Old Europe falls under the influence of Islamic fundamentalism — Mr. Amis writes that “not a single Western European country is procreating at the ‘replacement rate’ of 2.1 births per woman,” adding: “A depopulated and simplified Europe might be tenable in a world without enmity and predation. And that is not our world. The birth rate is 6.76 in Somalia, 6.69 in Afghanistan and 6.58 in Yemen.”
Mr. Amis writes of an Islamist “death-hunger,” comparable “outside Africa” only to what existed in Nazi Germany and Stalinite Kampuchea. He suggests that the Islamist war on the West is “a kind of thwarted narcissism,” rooted in sexual frustration and anger at Islam’s impotence on the world stage (completely ignoring the experts like Michael Scheuer, the former C.I.A. officer and Qaeda specialist, who argue that Osama bin Laden’s declaration of war is a reaction to specific United States foreign policies like support for Israel and an American presence in Muslim lands). And while he writes that “we respect Muhammad” (just not “Muhammad Atta”), he makes gross generalizations about the “extreme incuriosity of Islamic culture” and the differences between Sunnis and Shias (“The Sunni are more legalistic. The Shia are dreamier and more poetic and emotional.”)
As for civil war between the Shia and the Sunni, Mr. Amis glibly declares: “We can say, with the facetiousness of despair, that it’s just as well to get this out of the way; and let us hope it is merely a Thirty Years’ War, and not a Hundred Years’ War.”
Many of the arguments in this book are deeply indebted to other writers. On Islam, Mr. Amis leans heavily on the works of Bernard Lewis, the Middle East scholar who influenced the thinking of some members of the Bush administration. And on the irrationality of religion, he leans heavily on the work of Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. Mr. Amis adds nothing illuminating to these writers’ thinking, while blindly accepting some of their more debatable assertions.
Hm. In der Dutch News dies
Entertainment entrepreneur Harry de Winter has taken out a page-wide advert on the front page of Monday’s Volkskrant newspaper accusing MP Geert Wilders of racism.
‘If Wilders said the same about Jews and the Old Testament as he does about Muslims (and the Koran) he would have been long picked up and sentenced for anti-semitism,’ the advert reads.
Zusammen mit der überwältigend negativen Berichterstattung von Publikationen wie Spiegel Online, die sonst eigentlich recht zuverlässig das Abendland verteidigen, es scheint, als ob Broder mal recht hat? Er schreibt nämlich
Geert Wilders mag vieles sein – selbstbewusst bis an die Grenze der Eitelkeit, borniert bis an den Rand der Selbstaufgabe. Ein “Rechtspopulist” ist er nicht. Erstens ist er ein radikaler Liberaler, zweitens ist das, was er gerade macht, extrem unpopulär.
Das und das was folgt, muß Broder natürlich schreiben, damit er sich selbst eine Rechtspopulismusfreiheit bescheinigen kann. Aber trotzdem: hat er nicht recht? Selbstverständlich hat er nicht recht, denn, wie eine von Broder selbst verlinkte Besprechung des Films feststellt:
Doch wie soll sich ein westliches Publikum, das mit den aufwendig inszenierten Bilderwelten Hollywoods groß geworden ist, mit dieser dilettantisch inszenierten, antiquierten Hauruck-Ästhetik politisch mobilisieren lassen, die Wilders in “Fitna” bietet?
Es ist die Form des Produkts, die Geert Wilders Film auf solche zurückhaltende und -weisende Reaktionen treffen läßt. Längst gibt es populärere und besser gemachte filmische Formulierungen der selben haßerfüllten Idee, etwa Edward Zwick’s Film The Siege. All das ist längst ein gängiges und beliebtes Element der Populärkultur und nur das dumpfe Vorgehen Geert Wilders ist es, das die Leute zurückstößt. Inhaltlich liegen sie voll auf seiner Linie, und es ist keine wilde Zusatzannahme, daß Wilders, wie schon beim Streit um den EU Beitritt, diese ‘Volksmeinung’ seinen Parolen zugrunde legt. Das würde ihn tatsächlich zum Populisten machen, ob Herr Broder das glaubt oder nicht. Der andere Aspekt, das mit dem Rechtspopulisten, da liefert Broder selbst die besten Gegenargumente und ich kann nur auf den werten Herrn zurückverweisen.
heute fitna ansehen wollen. das hier gefunden.
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Nicholas D. Kristof in a recent column pointed something out which should be pointed out time and again, but strangely enough isn’t:
Much of the time, blacks have a pretty good sense of what whites think, but whites are oblivious to common black perspectives.
This is applicable not only to blacks and ‘whites’ in America, it’s of course something that describes most majority/minority constellations in the West. An interesting area where this is applicable, as Archbishop Williams has pointed out in his thoughtful speech, is in Western discussions of Islam, terrorism, the Enlightenment etc. The sheer refusal to view an issue from the minorities’ point of view has taken on an aggressive shape when it comes to talking about Muslims.
The passive ‘not listening’ has slowly but surely turned into an aggressive droning on and on over increasingly loud voices of protest. This is not simply speaking: it’s preaching. It’s applying ideas such as ‘secularism’, freedom of the press, etc., which could be applied to many different disquieting events, to only this single religious group: Muslims. It appears as if something needs to be talked out of existence, something so alien that the usual rational discourse doesn’t appear to be appropriate any more.
The vehemence with which this version of ‘not listening’ is carried out is shocking sometimes to the humble writer of this blog. Yes, as a reasonably well read person, one is used to racist diatribes, but the fact that, these days, these diatribes, hateful in content and righteous in tone, are coming from educated, smart persons, sends shivers down my spine. These are the people who, for better or worse, make politics. If they are conquered by hate, where is this society headed? I’m worried.
This is always a fun game. Look at the truth and tweak it so it still looks like the truth, sharing most facts with it but is actually a malicious lie. People like Daniel Pipes, Oriana Fallaci and Henryk Broder are adept at this tactic when writing their hateful screeds against Islam. A case in point is Daniel Pipes’ treatment of the Westerhoff affair. While Angry White Man/columnist Christopher Hitchens uses the expression “alleged plot”, Daniel Pipes indulges in a bit of his usual hate informed tweaking and describes the affair thusly:
This month, Denmark’s police foiled a terrorist plot to murder Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist who drew the strongest of the Muhammad pictures, prompting most of the country’s newspapers to reprint his cartoon as an act of solidarity and a signal to Islamists that their threats and violence will not succeed.
Nice. By the way, this is a different way to look at the affair
Virtually the entire media in Denmark reprinted the notorious caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed on February 13.
The decision to re-print came just one day after three men, two Tunisians and a Danish national, were arrested for an alleged plot to kill one of the cartoonists, Kurt Westergaard. At least 15 papers across Denmark reprinted images of the cartoons, in what can only be described as a calculated provocation. Despite having no evidence regarding the guilt of the three detained, since the security service claimed it moved on suspicion and did not have enough grounds to charge the men, the Danish media raced to be first to print the cartoons, supposedly to underline their defence of “free speech.”
Funny, how the second statement fits in better with reports like amnesty international’s which claimed
In its report on Denmark, published in May, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) expressed deep concern at worsening intolerance and xenophobia against refugees, asylum-seekers, minorities in general and Muslims in particular. ECRI noted with concern legislative provisions disproportionately restricting the ability of members of ethnic minorities to acquire Danish citizenship, to benefit from family reunification, and to access social protection. ECRI also highlighted an atmosphere of impunity, created by the low rate of prosecutions for incitement to racial hatred despite, among other things, inflammatory statements by some politicians and the media.
Funny, eh? Ah, it’s always the same. It’s just redundant to write about the likes of Pipes. So predictable (as I am, eh?). In contrast even someone like Hitchens, the “football hooligan of rational thought”, is refreshing in that he bashes Muslims but also bashes Christians, Jews etc. and he is not afraid of clobbering those who hold opinions close to his own.
Here’s a fitting exemplification of this. After digging around a bit I discovered this 2003 essay by Hitchens on Pipes and found it described the man well:
I am not myself a pacifist, and I believe that Islamic nihilism has to be combated with every weapon, intellectual and moral as well as military, which we possess or can acquire. But that is a position shared by a very wide spectrum of people. Pipes, however, uses this consensus to take a position somewhat to the right of Ariel Sharon, concerning a matter (the Israel-Palestine dispute) that actually can be settled by negotiation. And he employs the fears and insecurities created by Islamic extremism to slander or misrepresent those who disagree with him.
[...] To put it bluntly, I suspect that Pipes is so consumed by dislike that he will not recognize good news from the Islamic world even when it arrives. And this makes him dangerous and unreliable.
On more than one occasion, Pipes has called for the extension of Israel’s already ruthless policy of collective punishment, arguing that leveling Palestinian villages is justifiable if attacks are launched from among their inhabitants. It seems to me from observing his style that he came to this conclusion with rather more relish than regret.
You see? That’s why I’m suddenly beginning to like Hitchens. People like Pipes and Broder show me how much worse hateful polemicism can get. Hitchens isn’t racist, unlike Pipes et al. He’s just a wee bit daft, but I tell ye, I’ll take daft over racist anytime. If that were the choice, I’d say thank God for daft people.
Persons and actions of this story are invented. If the description of certain journalistic practices shows ressemblances to the practices of the Bild newspaper, that’s because these ressemblances are not intended nor accidental, they are inescapable
The Unknown Terrorist, Richard Flanagan’s novel, is, as he himself says at the back of his forgettable new book, a modern take on Böll’s Verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum. And it is basically the same story. Woman fucks stranger, stranger is suspected of terrible crime, woman is suspected of being an accomplice. And I really like the Böll novel. Must be my favorite novel of his. So why was The Unknown Terrorist such a mess of a novel?
Can’t be the writing. Heinrich Böll is not a great stylist. What success his novels and stories have, style has nothing to do with that. Flanagan is, if anything, a better stylist. Much of the novel drags and much is functional at best, but there are outstanding passages as well. Can’t be the writing? Characters, maybe. That, actually, is the first problem. Although Böll’s characters are cliché characters, they need to be for the story to work in the little space that is allotted to them and Böll is a master in making even cliché come alive. Not so Flanagan. For one thing, he overdoes the cliché, adds many more layers of schlocky details. And then he just lets his characters get away with this. He doesn’t even try to make the characters believable. No Sir. When he slips his characters into the pockets of the story, he adds just the most necessary characterization. He sticks to the dolls (ironic, eh?) he constructed. Interaction between characters is unbelievable, as a rule.
Personen und Handlung dieser Erzählung sind frei erfunden. Sollten sich bei der Schilderung gewisser journalistischer Praktiken Ähnlichkeiten mit den Praktiken der Bild-Zeitung ergeben haben, so sind diese Ähnlichkeiten weder beabsichtigt noch zufällig, sondern unvermeidlich.
(Persons and actions of this story are invented. If the description of certain journalistic practices shows ressemblances to the practices of the Bild newspaper, that’s because these ressemblances are not intended nor accidental, they are inescapable). Lots of misguided governmental policies in his time, too. However, that’s plainly not his point. It’s about how the mass media distorts something if it conforms with certain bourgeois stereotypes.
This would have worked fine with The Unknown Terrorist, too. Slutty woman? Check. Arab terrorist? Check. Etc. And these stereotypes are seen to be at the basis of the journalist’s doing the story the way he does. However, it stops at this point. Richard Cody. And he does know better, but his greed for money and fame blinds him. Böll exposed the stereotypes that govern the press. Maybe a ‘real’ Richard Cody would not need the incentive of greed. The stereotypes alone are more than enough. This would have made an incisive commentary on the state of our nations. Look at the inane and inherently racist coverage of the remarks of Archbishop Williams, or check out the coverage in Danish newspapers of the alleged plot to kill the damn cartoonist. Or German newspapers covering that. Hell, mainstream coverage of muslims by privately owned media. Daily Express, anyone? Henryk M. Broder? Broder writes the stories Cody would write had he Broder’s erudition or style. Or check out how much of a deal it is that a photograph was published with Barack Hussein Obama wearing a turban.
No, The Unknown Terrorist is not tidy nor subtle. It doesn’t have to. It’s an angry book, wearing its moral indignation on its sleeve. But it is on this account, the political sphere, that it fails first and foremost. It attacks a government who uses a Patriot Act-like legislation to exert pressure on people. But the main protagonist’s life is not destroyed by that. It’s destroyed the hateful discourse taken up and whipped up by the press. Böll’s novel got him into a pickle with the press which launched a spite-and hateful campaign against the little indignant writer, a campaign that lasted years. No such chance with Flanagan, I presume. The boring little antepodean shit.
Republication of the cartoon has reignited anger
At Friday prayers this mistrust of the media is bubbling close to the surface. One furious man comes and tells the people I am interviewing not to trust journalists. This was after Danish intelligence said they had uncovered a plot by three Muslims in Denmark to kill one of the cartoonists. “We were all punished by the printing of those pictures,” says the imam in his sermon.
He is angry that none of the men accused of masterminding the plot are being put on trial – the Danish intelligence services say revealing their evidence would compromise their intelligence network. Instead, they are expelling two of the suspects who do not have Danish citizenship and freeing the third who does. “How does it make sense that a person who is trying to kill somebody is being arrested, charged, interrogated and then released and yet still we should feel that he’s a terrorist?” asks Imran Hussein, who runs Network an advisory body for Muslim organisations in Denmark. Like many Muslims here he was appalled by the discovery of the plot to kill the cartoonist but now he is more sceptical.
“A lot of people are afraid of Islam today in Denmark and when they are afraid of Islam it means they are afraid of me too,” says Sofian, who was born in Denmark but feels he no longer has a future there.
“I am hurt, as I was the first time,” says Feisal, who works in marketing and was also born in Denmark. He believes the problem is not Danish society but the media.
Feisal says he cannot understand why the media keeps focusing on the idea that Muslims are trying to take their freedom of speech away from them.
“I will never feel one hundred percent accepted here in Danish society,” says Imran Hussein, who has tried hard at integration, getting involved in local politics. He says the cartoons were just part of a bigger picture. “It’s just getting worse and worse because the daily spoken language about immigrants and the portrayals of Muslims specifically are getting worse worldwide, so of course that’s had an effect in Denmark as well,” explains Imran.
Radical Islamist parties have been quick to channel this sense of alienation. Hizb ut Tahrir in Denmark organised a protest against the reprinting of the cartoons. Hundreds of demonstrators marched through the streets of Copenhagen shouting “God is Great!” and “Freedom of Speech is a plague!” Some Danes looked rather surprised.
Outside the cafe, under the guidance of Hizb ut Tahrir, Danish Muslims were chanting “Khilafat” – supporting the party’s demand for the creation of a caliphate to unite Muslims worldwide.
So far Muslims in Denmark have been talking about discrimination and the need for more respect. But the more they feel nobody is listening to their anger the more susceptible they will be to the message of radical political Islam.
[I thought of doing an longish explanation of the Archbishop's speech, but in the end I scrapped that post and decided to let his words mostly speak for themselves, with a slightly critical remark at the end]
The Archbishop of Canterbury held an interesting speech on February 7, 2008, which provoked an incredible backlash by the usual islamophobic suspects and many others. People, that’s my guess, largely didn’t read a transcript of the speech or at least listen to the damn thing at least once or twice before lashing out at his alleged endorsement of an introduction of Sharia (read: multiple wives, wivebeating, female genital mutilation, honour killings, ah, you know the drill) into British law.
As always, one should be wary reading such driveling assessments of vaguely pro-Islamic persons. Experience should teach one as much. But, upon reading the transcript, I was really shocked, because the Archbishop’s speech was considerate and thoughtful. Not only did he explain what he meant by Sharia:
something that has to be ‘actualized’, not a ready-made system. If shar’ designates the essence of the revealed Law, sharia is the practice of actualizing and applying it; [...] there is no single code that can be identified as ‘the’ sharia
he also explained how in his and other theoreticians’ view, “law” as in “British law” should be understood, and what problems arise in connection with the current interpretation of it: “
If the law of the land takes no account of what might be for certain agents a proper rationale for behaviour [...] it fails in a significant way to communicate with someone involved in the legal process (or indeed to receive their communication), and so, on at least one kind of legal theory [...], fails in one of its purposes.
This is, in a nutshell, where he’s heading. The law should not exclude whole communities from public communication. There is a disadvantage that these communities have, as far as power or status is concerned, and secular courts, which do not consider some communities’ “rationale for behaviour” will alienate these communities further:
a communal/religious nomos, to borrow Shachar’s vocabulary, has to think through the risks of alienating its people by inflexible or over-restrictive applications of traditional law, and a universalist Enlightenment system has to weigh the possible consequences of ghettoising and effectively disenfranchising a minority, at real cost to overall social cohesion and creativity.
Look close. Here, as everywhere else in the lecture, he tells us that we as a society may have to choose between one and the other. Do we want to have “social cohesion” or do we want to eject these communities from our countries? Because that’s the choice really. A ghettoised minority is likely to become more and more radical. Here in Germany that’s remarkably obvious. Driving these communities out might be, in a few decades, the only choice left. Plus, it’s possible that the imbalance of power and status has had a hand in creating these communities in the first place. We know how these things happen, there are multiple studies showing how communities and images are created and dissolved, one of the most readable accounts being Roediger’s Wages of Whiteness
However, in discussions with friends I usually, at one point or other, hear the word “enlightenment” and the phrase “the law is the law”. That the uncritical use of both these terms can be problematic is adressed by Dr. Williams as well: “
So much of our thinking in the modern world, dominated by European assumptions about universal rights, rests, surely, on the basis that the law is the law; [...] so that recognition of corporate identities or, more seriously, of supplementary jurisdictions is simply incoherent if we want to preserve the great political and social advances of Western legality.
There is a bit of a risk here in the way we sometimes talk about the universal vision of post-Enlightenment politics. The great protest of the Enlightenment was against authority that appealed only to tradition and refused to justify itself by other criteria [...]. The most positive aspect of this moment in our cultural history was its focus on equal levels of accountability for all and equal levels of access for all to legal process. [...] But this set of considerations alone is not adequate to deal with the realities of complex societies: [...] Where this has been enforced, it has proved a weak vehicle for the life of a society and has often brought violent injustice in its wake.
So far we have only looked at Dr. Williams’ criticism of the jurisprudence as it is practiced and of the ideologies that support said practice. What, we might ask, about the dangers of introducing what he calls “supplementary jurisdiction”? He does see these dangers, especially
the effect of reinforcing [...] some of the most repressive or retrograde elements.
He talks amply about the
risks of any model that ends up ‘franchising’ a non-state jurisdiction so as to reinforce its most problematic features and further disadvantage its weakest members.
He makes clear that however this supplementary jurisdiction might look like in practice, it cannot be allowed to become a “communal legal structure which can only be avoided by deciding to leave the community altogether”. The fact that he emphasizes what he calls “ground rules”, together with the fact that he continually speaks rather vaguely of the practicality of his propositions (“if”, “appears”, “seems”, see also the log’s take on this), may mean that the system he envisions may never see the light of day.
However, the practicality of Dr. Williams’ proposals presupposes the universal principle that he, by the way, explains thusly:
‘human dignity as such’ – a non-negotiable assumption that each agent (with his or her historical and social affiliations) could be expected to have a voice in the shaping of some common project for the well-being and order of a human group.
This presupposition hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Archbishop who goes on to write “
if my analysis is right, the sort of foundation I have sketched for a universal principle of legal right requires both a certain valuation of the human as such and a conviction that the human subject is always endowed with some degree of freedom over against any and every actual system of human social life.
(something which I would deny emphatically), and concludes this thought by saying that
both of these things are historically rooted in Christian theology.
Indeed, indeed it is. It is fundamentally dishonest of muslim-bashing commentators to praise the judeochristian tradition and denounce the bishop because of his alleged break with it, when all he does is abide most closely by exactly that tradition.
Personally, I believe that this is exactly where his theory goes wrong. I think that, by giving communities as ideologically bound as religious communities usually are, the “freedom” to adhere to their religious/cultural principles, by giving them the freedom of choice, you take away or deny them the freedom to adhere to secular laws, especially the weaker parts of the community. I believe that a religious culture is like a dangerous trap. An insignificant example is Bavaria in Germany, where, even after the German supreme court has ordered the state to take down the crosses in classrooms if even a single student complains, few crosses have been taken down, because even those who feel uncomfortable are pressured into silence. And this is a small, small example. Nobody gets hurt. Can the government run the risk of intoducing legislation that leads to even a single person being severely disadvantaged just because he or she is caught in the religious trap? And we don’t even have to imply pressure from the community. Far from being in “a conscious relation with God”, as Dr. Williams asserts, devout people, in any religion, are, well, devout, which means that they are, as Merriam-Webster’s has it “ardently dedicated and loyal”. There is room for freedom there but not enough, possibly, to justify such a legislation.
Excuse me for indulging in my dislike for religion. That was highly polemic and even wrong. For one thing, secular ideologies don’t leave their own devout followers more wriggle room, as the maddening attacks on Dr. Williams (or Richard Dawkins’ or Christopher Hitchens’ recent writings, for that matter) demonstrated many times over. Second, in view of the fact that I approve of Dr. Williams’ analysis of the problem, my approach was not very constructive. He says, correctly, that “
the important springs of moral vision in a society will be in those areas which a systematic abstract universalism regards as ‘private’ – in religion [...], but also in custom and habit.
No, I am with Nagel and his socks, I don’t think that being religious and being moral is correlated. But the fact remains that moral vision emerges from that which is private, and we as a society cannot afford to shut out sizable minorities and their private lives. The fact that religion plays a vastly more important role in these communities is something that we have to come to terms with. IF we want a harmonious society. If we want disadvantaged minorities to be given a voice. For as long as we silently suppose law to “of course” be just for everybody, we are effectively silencing those communities who have cultural loyalties which sometimes clash with their loyalties as citizens.
Coming to terms with that does not mean introducing “special legislation”. But these minorities are already seeking religious advice. Why not incorporate that into the practice of law we have. It is a dangerous and tough task but a necessary one. Turning away from these communities and denouncing them as a whole is not helpful, nor is turning away from them in a gesture of tolerance. As Dr. Williams said:
It is always easy to take refuge in some form of positivism
and indeed it is, especially so-called sceptics can be found in hiding whenever asked to engage with religion. Supplementary jurisdiction might not be the best way to solve our problems (if it is not, the Archbishop himself provides the reasons why it may not be, this cannot be stressed enough, as he tells us what the precondition to such a solution would be.) , but solve them we must. And we must be thankful for the likes of Dr. Williams for pointing them out the way he did.
I mean, yes, racism, abomination and all that. But something is to be said for honest racism in mainstream publications or by mainstream politicians. Witness the Daily Express:
the leaders of British Islam still don’t appreciate the degree to which their behaviour is despised by the majority of the public.
There you go. A good essay on Islamophobia and an even better one on Homophobia at the same time. Highly recommended.
Islamophobia has, at least in this country, its relevance not as a mass phenomenon, but as an elite discourse, which, shared by considerable numbers of leftist, liberal, and conservative intelligentsia, makes possible the articulation of resentments against immigrants and anti-racists in a form which allows one to appear as a shining champion of the European enlightenment. What Islamophobes accuse people of Turkish and Arabic heritage of would not even be understood as a reproach by the majority of Germans: opposition to Jews and Israel, dislike of gays, and the sexist degradation of women — all established forms of German everyday practice, which in Islamophobic discourse are construed as special qualities of Muslim immigrants which should disqualify them as members of German society.
Bitteschön. Ein sehr ordentlicher, man möchte euphorisch rufen: ausgezeichneter! (was er dann doch nicht ist) Artikel über Islamophobie und zugleich ein noch besserer eigentlich über Homophobie. Sehr sehr lesenwert.
Islamophobie hat, zumindest hierzulande, seine Bedeutung nicht als Massenphänomen, sondern als Elitendiskurs, der es beträchtlichen Teilen der linken, liberalen und konservativen
Intelligenz ermöglicht, Ressentiments gegen Migrant_innen und Antirassist_innen in einer Form zu artikulieren, die sie zugleich als glühende Verfechter_innen der alteuropäischen Aufklärung erscheinen lässt. Was Islamophobe türkisch- und arabischstämmigen Leuten zum Vorwurf machen, ist etwas, das die Mehrheit der Deutschen vermutlich gar nicht als solchen begriffe: gegen Juden und Israel zu sein, Schwule nicht zu mögen und Frauen sexistisch herabzustufen – alles gängige Formen der deutschen Alltagspraxis, die im islamophoben Diskurs aber als spezielle Eigenschaften muslimischer Einwanderer konstruiert werden und sie als Mitglieder der deutschen Gesellschaft disqualifizieren sollen.
It’s just…well. How…? I sat down to comment upon her insipid article she wrote in the NY Times (a review of Lee Harris’ new book) because it’s so wrong in parts and contradictory in others, but I started to prepare quotes just now and I just don’t have the time to comment on every other sentence of her. So I won’t comment. I’ll quote some parts and leave the laughing to you.
Each Muslim is a slave, first of God, then of the caliphate.
But what makes America unique, especially in contrast to Europe, is its resistance to the philosophy of Hegel with its concept of a unifying world spirit. It is the individual that matters most in the United States. And more generally, it is individuals who make cultures and who break them. Social and cultural evolution has always relied on individuals — to reform, persuade, cajole or force. Culture is formed by the collective agreement of individuals.
The problem, however, is not too much reason but too little. Harris also fails to address the enemies of reason within the West: religion and the Romantic movement. It is out of rejection of religion that the Enlightenment emerged; Romanticism was a revolt against reason
Moral and cultural relativism (and their popular manifestation, multiculturalism) are the hallmarks of the Romantics.
Many of the Westerners who were born into the law of the jungle, with its alpha males and submissive females, have since become acquainted with the culture of reason and have adopted it. They are even — and this should surely relieve Harris of some of his pessimism — willing to die for it, perhaps with the same fanaticism as the jihadists willing to die for their tribe.
You see me grinning. Have a nice and hilarious sunday. Do it my way. Don’t get mad. Laugh. Today it worked. See? No rant. Maybe it’s listening to Jefferson Airplane. Works wonders.
Eboo Patel’s Washington Post Online post of today is nice. It resonates with some things I was thinking about since reading that odious article by Mr. Broder weeks ago and it, while replete with strange and invalid assumptions, makes an important point. I will quote the bulk of it here, just to raise the chances of it being read by those too lazy to follow up on the links
My wife was at a dinner party last week and someone asked about the English woman in the Sudan [...] My wife’s friend asked: “Does Islam really say that she should be punished?” “I don’t want to talk about it,” my wife responded.
[...] But her friend still wanted an answer to her question. And if my wife wasn’t going to provide one, then she would have to find someone who would. In this case, it was Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who wrote an OpEd in The New York Times effectively stating that Islam requires Muslims to severely punish teachers who name teddy bears Muhammad (Sudan), rape victims who are accused of being in the presence of a man who is not a family member (Saudi Arabia) and female writers who criticize Islam (India).
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is right on two important points. The first is that all of these punishments are appalling and brutal. The second is that moderate Muslims should be louder about these matters. There are some things that are true even if Ayaan Hirsi Ali believes them.
[...] Hirsi Ali and people like her are widely-read because they offer a theory of the problem: they tell the world a convincing story of why Muslims keep popping up on the front pages of newspapers in negative articles. Hirsi Ali’s theory, and the theory of other Islamophobes, is that Muslims have dirty laundry because the body and soul of Islam are dirty. [...]
A lesson for mainstream Muslims: Whenever you don’t offer a theory of the problem, someone else will. When there is a vacuum of information about a hot topic and you don’t fill it, other people will aggressively move in.
Too many mainstream Muslims believe they have only two options in the face of the current discourse on Islam: angry indignation or stony silence.
I believe there is a third way. It is what University of Michigan Professor Sherman Jackson, one of America’s leading scholars of Islam, calls ‘Islamic literacy’.
Here is how someone literate in Islam, Muslim or not, might have responded to Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s contention that Islam and compassionate conscience are mutually exclusive. First, by saying that there should be no excuses made for those who sought the punishments in any of the three cases she named. They were indeed brutal, and as such, were in conflict with the core ethos of Islam – compassion and mercy, which are enshrined both in the Muslim tradition and in the human conscience.
Compassion and mercy are the two most repeated qualities of God in Islam, best illustrated by the most common Muslim prayer, “Bismillah Ar-Rahman Ar-Rahim” – In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the most Merciful. As they are qualities of God, they are attributes that Muslims are required to emulate.
Compassion and mercy are also enshrined in the first lesson that classical Muslim scholars would teach their students, what came to be known as the Tradition of Primacy in Islam: “If you are merciful to those on Earth, then He who is in Heaven will be merciful to you.”
Islam, like other traditions, has internal contradictions. The Qur’an and Muslim law say different things in different places. That is precisely why compassion and mercy play such an important role in Muslim interpretation and practice. When in doubt about how to deal with a particular situation, a Muslim should always be guided by compassion and mercy. [...]
Khaled Abou El Fadl, one of America’s most important scholars of Islamic thought and law, believes that people are required to bring their God-given compassion to the reading of the text of the Qur’an. “The text will morally enrich the reader, but only if the reader will morally enrich the text.,” he writes in a remarkable essay called The Place of Tolerance in Islam.
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, the most prominent Muslim scholar and preacher in the West, wrote in a piece for this website, “Unfortunately, millions of Muslims all over the globe are humiliated and betrayed by the ignorance and lack of basic humanity that a small minority of Muslims too often exhibits.” [...]
In such a short interview with the NYTimes that one is tempted to invent a different term for it, McEwan says the following
Your fellow novelist Martin Amis is being shredded in the British press after criticizing various aspects of Islam. He was attacked in The Guardian, in a shrill manner. All religions make very big claims about the world, and it should be possible in an open society to dispute them. It should be possible to say, “I find some ideas in Islam questionable” without being called a racist.
Which ideas do you mean? Well, the idea that any apostate should be punished is revolting. This is completely hostile to the notion of free thought and everything we hope to stand for. I think Martin has suffered terribly at the hands of The Guardian.
Yes Ian. Veeery smart. One is tempted to describe this with a sentence of his own, from just before, in the same interview:
You were probably already a nonbeliever. No, I was just beginning to see through it all, but not quite.
Not quite. Well, if that isn’t a nice way to put it.
Ha. Well, Eboo Patel’s shortish texts in the online edition of the Washington Post are never very strong, even though his ideas are mostly on point, in a screaming teenager sort of way. Even in today’s text, the basic point is good. The way he’s expressed it, not so much. However, this part of it is funny and memorable. Enjoy:
The main issue for Rudy is how to exploit the current fear of Muslims into a winning presidential campaign. Pat Robertson will offer his insights on that issue alongside America’s most prominent Islamophobes, including Norman Podhoretz, Peter King and Daniel Pipes. Here is a taste of what these four Giuliani advisers have said before about Islam and Muslims:
Norman Podhoretz told the New York Times Magazine’s Matt Bai that Al Qaeda was a reasonably clear window into mainstream Islam. Peter King once said that Muslims are “an enemy living amongst us.” Daniel Pipes has advanced multiple crackpot theories about Muslims and violence, including “sudden jihad syndrome”, by which the Muslim mom sitting next to you at the PTA meeting suddenly whips out a gun and takes out the whole room.
Robertson’s unabashed claim that Islam is “satanic” and “motivated by a demonic power” fits right in.
This is from a NY Times review of John Updike’s most recent collection of nonfiction by Christopher Hitchens. It’s nicely written, informative and all that. We also learn that Hitchens writes “Yuck” and ticks in the margins of his books, but, as I said in a German text on this blog, certain minds seem to be unable to refrain from mentioning Islam in a stupid and self-revealing way. I wonder if a get-together of Hitchens and his editor looks like Fawlty Towers all over again, just this time nobody cries: DON’T MENTION THE WAR but DON’T MENTION ISLAM, however, given the frequency of Hitchens’s Islambashing this is improbable. Though I must admit, he does kinda remind me of John Cleese’s character. Here’s the fun part of his so-so review
Discussing Grass’s rather recent discovery that Germans had also been the victims of atrocities, Updike asks:
“Can a nation war against a regime without warring against the people the regime rules? Is the very concept ‘war crime’ tautological, given the context of determined violence? As Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general, said a few weeks ago, ‘War is always a catastrophe.’ Are discriminations possible between appropriate and excessive bombing, between legitimate and atrocious ship-sinkings, between proper combat of armed soldiers and such tactics as using civilians, including children, as human shields or disguising an ambush as a surrender? An American soldier recently wounded in such an ambush, when interviewed on television, shrugged and, with striking dispassion, conceded that, given the great imbalance of firepower between the Coalition and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, he could hardly blame his attackers for their murderous ruse.”
This is evenhandedness taken almost to the point of masochism. (What of the “imbalance” between the jihadists and the girls’ schools they blow up?) And Updike doesn’t choose to answer any of the questions — familiar enough at a sophomore level, as is Annan’s affectless remark — that he poses. I have the suspicion that he is overcompensating for the rather lame defense of the war in Vietnam that he mounted in his memoir “Self-Consciousness.”
For balance (?) here’s Kakutani’s good review of Mr. Updike’s most recent novel, Terrorist.
And now, in comes Basil Fawlty (yes, any review of a book an Islamism will mention Islam, several times, but read on, you’ll see what I mean)in his own review of that book
Indeed, Updike continues to offer us, as we have come to expect of him, his grueling homework. The sinuous imam of the local mosque (Shaikh Rashid) does not try to impress the half-educated and credulous Ahmad with the duty to fight the enemies of the Prophet. Far from it. He prepares him for stone-faced single-mindedness with some intricate Koranic hermeneutics, designed to shake his faith. And guess which example is adduced? The theory of the German Orientalist Christoph Luxenberg, who has argued that the “virgins” promised to martyrs in Paradise are actually a mistranslation for “white raisins.” Bet you never heard that! My feeling — call it a guess or an intuition — is that this is not how madrassas train their suicide bombers. My other feeling is that Updike could have placed this rather secondhand show of his recent learning in some other part of the novel.
It sorta makes me wonder whether he’s drunk when he’s writing his essays. Or high on some very damaging drugs.
Prompted by a new piece by Eboo Patel who tends to make mostly correct statements in ridiculously short postings in his portion of the great Washington Post On Faith blog (a treasure trove)on Islamofascism awareness week, this. First the quick definition of the wiki entry
Islamofascism is a controversial neologism suggesting an association of the ideological or operational characteristics of certain modern Islamist movements with European fascist movements of the early 20th century, neofascist movements, or totalitarianism.
The word is included in the New Oxford American Dictionary, defining it as “a controversial term equating some modern Islamic movements with the European fascist movements of the early twentieth century”. Critics of the term argue that associating the religion of Islam with fascism is offensive and inaccurate.
Second the relevant portion of Patels text
What would you think if I told you every high school kid in baggy pants was a drug dealer?
Or every woman wearing lipstick was a prostitute?
How about that every black man on the street was getting ready to rob you?
Or every Italian guy was a mobster?
Then you should be equally offended by IslamoFascism Awareness Week because it employs the same twisted logic as the revolting statements above and its objective is equally ugly: every time you see a Muslim, the organizers of IslamoFascism Awareness Week want you to think “terrorist”.
One of the founding fathers of my country, Thomas Jefferson, had enough respect for Islam and Muslims that he owned a copy of the Qur’an. Another one of my founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, declared that the pulpit of a hall he helped build in Philadelphia would be open to a Muslim preacher.
The America that I love faces real threats from terrorists. Too many of those terrorists call themselves Muslims. Victory requires that we focus like a laser beam on these enemies.
Third, here’s a link to a good article against Islamofascism Awareness Week.
Finally, as the warped idea of Islamofascism seems to take hold mostly in the poor minds of those who think that nowadays it’s valid to equate Islam with Islamism I recommend READING. Books would help but they are often difficult to come by in dumbland, so the Internet can be of help as well. Daniel Pipes in particular, who has defended highly questionable ideas such as racial profiling, offers nice bits of counterargument against embracing the benighted idea of islam=islamism.
For instance here
“Moderate Unicorns,” huffed a reader, responding to my recent plea that Western states bolster moderate Muslims. Dismissing their existence as a myth, he notes that non-Muslims “are still waiting for moderates to stand and deliver, identifying and removing extremist thugs from their mosques and their communities.”
It’s a valid skepticism and a reasonable demand. Recent events in Pakistan and Turkey, however, prove that moderate Muslims are no myth.
In Pakistan, an estimated 100,000 people demonstrated on April 15 in Karachi, the country’s largest city, to protest the plans of a powerful mosque in Islamabad, the Lal Masjid, to establish a parallel court system based on Islamic law, the Shari‘a. “No to extremism,” roared the crowd. “We will strongly resist religious terrorism and religious extremism,” exhorted Altaf Hussain, leader of the Mutahida Qaumi Movement, at the rally.
Also, for those who can read french, it’s an option to consider Mohamed Sifaoui, writer, journalist, muslim and declared secularist who writes books against forms of radical Islam, who fought for Charlie Hebdo’s right to print the damn caricatures (I still think printing them in Germany was unconstitutional but well, trust German courts to uphold the flag of whiteness, er, free speech), but who’s a rather stupid man, well that doesn’t change much, does it.
Today, in a lucid review of The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism by Norman Podhoretz, Kakutani (whom I tend to criticise from time to time) wrote something which, as does Mr. Podhoretz’ book, relates to this posting’s topic
For that matter, Mr. Podhoretz lumps together Muslims opposed to the United States, a “two-headed beast” of “Islamofascism,” whose objective he says is “to murder as many of us as possible” and destroy “the freedoms we cherish and for which America stands.” Such characterizations not only try to draw parallels between radical Muslims and the Nazis, but also gloss over the many schisms and conflicts within Islam that have pitted Shiites against Sunnis, Iranians against Iraqis, religious fundamentalists against more secular Baathists.
It has been online for awhile, but it’s so perfect a phrase that I can’t resist pointing it out to anyone who hasn’t read it yet. Associate Professor Berlinerblau from the University of Georgetown, in a rare stroke of genius, called the writers spearheading the recent wave of dumb atheistic writers “the football hooligans of rational discourse”. Such a perfect phrase, isn’t it?