TCS Daily


The Pen, the Sword and the Pontiff

By Lee Harris - September 26, 2006 12:00 AM

Madeleine Bunting, writing in The Guardian, has sharply attacked the Regensburg address of Pope Benedict XVI. Among the points that she makes, there is one that deserves special attention, because it expresses the sentiment of all those who have criticized the Regensburg address for being inflammatory and provocative.

"An elderly Catholic nun has already been killed in Somalia, perhaps in retaliation for the pope's remarks; churches have been attacked in the West Bank. How is this papal stupidity going to play out in countries such as Nigeria, where the tensions between Catholics and Muslims frequently flare into riots and deaths? Or other countries such as Pakistan, where tiny Catholic communities are already beleaguered?"

"Papal stupidity" is strong language. But a few paragraphs before this harsh phrase, Madeleine Bunting has prepared us for it by arguing that "even the most cursory knowledge of dialogue with Islam teaches...that reverence for the Prophet is non-negotiable. What unites all Muslims is a passionate devotion and commitment to protecting the honor of Mohammed." A Pope who did not know that "reverence for the Prophet is non-negotiable" must, therefore, be guilty of egregious stupidity.

The argument underlying this attack may be summarized as follows: Morally responsible speech or writing must take into account the consequences that such speech or writing may have on others. If it is bound to inflame certain groups, to cause the death of innocent people, to increase tensions, and to endanger whole communities, then it is morally wrong to engage in such speech or writing, and anyone who does so deserves to be attacked by all morally responsible people.

The ethical issue that is raised by Madeleine Bunting is no trivial one, and it should gravely concern us all. Morally responsible human beings should always be aware of the consequences of both their words and their actions on others. Yet morally responsible human beings also have another duty, and it is an equally solemn one -- it is the duty that they owe to their intellectual conscience. For example, when Charles Darwin published The Origins of Species, he was painfully aware of the consequences that his revolutionary theory would have on other people. Indeed, this awareness led him into delaying the publication of his theory for many years, and his moral seriousness does him no dishonor. Yet, ultimately, Darwin knew that he also had a duty to his own intellectual conscience. He could not simply suppress his theory, because in his mind that would be suppressing the truth.

This leads me to the question that I would like to pose to Madeleine Bunting and all those who have attacked Benedict for his lack of moral responsibility in making the Regensburg address. Suppose that the eminent English biologist Richard Dawkins delivered a speech at the University of Regensburg in which he attacked supporters of Creationism and Intelligent Design theory as "ignorant boobs" -- words that he has already applied in them in a written article. Now, let us imagine that Christian fundamentalists all over the United States, outraged by this inflammatory language, went on a violent rampage. Suppose that they lynched an elderly professor of biology, and attacked biology departments at several universities. Suppose that teachers of high school biology went about in fear of their lives, while many simply quit their jobs.

What kind of article would Madeleine Bunting write about such a hypothetical incident? Do you think she would violently condemn Richard Dawkins, writing something along the lines of:

"Even the most cursory knowledge of dialogue with Creationists teaches...that reverence for the Biblical account of man's creation is non-negotiable. What unites all Christian fundamentalists is a passionate devotion and commitment to the inerrancy of the Holy Bible."

Would Madeleine Bunting refer to Dawkins' speech as illustrating professorial stupidity? Would she imply that he was personally responsible for the death of the elderly American professor of biology, and describe the brutal murder as having been done "in retaliation" for Dawkins' remarks?

What fools the American Creationists have been to write books, give speeches, and attend the tedious meetings of School Boards, when by rioting, murdering, and running amok, they could have earned the sympathy and respect of enlightened intellectuals like Madeleine Bunting. Instead of being ridiculed as "ignorant boobs," even such prestigious left-leaning papers as The Guardian would rally to their defense, reminding us all that for Christian fundamentalists the teaching of creationism is "non-negotiable."

In the European past, many men were given the choice between death and speaking the truth. Socrates was given this choice, and chose death. So did Giordano Bruno, Michael Servetus, and many others. Today, however, those who wish to speak the truth about Islam, as they see it, are confronted by a far more wrenching choice. A man who is prepared to die for his convictions may be effectively silenced by the thought that if he speaks his mind some unknown innocent may be killed in Nigeria or in Somali "in retaliation" for his words. Those who blame the man who speaks the truth as he sees it, instead of the man who commits murder in retaliation, would be wise to ponder well the moral consequences of their own words.

The author is a TCS Daily Contributing Editor and author of Civilization and Its Enemies..

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48 Comments

Group Identity, Apologists, and Why the West Needs to Stop All Shipments of Vaseline to Jesse Jackso
Minority groups who have been able to cast themselves as victims of oppression are traditionally given a pass for violating the rules of civilized behavior by much of the Western media and the left. The rationalization that leftists apply is that they are simply responding to the centuries of oppression and degredation that they have suffered at the hands of White, Christian males of European descent.

Let us not forget the Rodney King Riots of the early 1990's. Blacks across America were excused for robbing from their neighbors, assaulting and murdering White people and burning down entire neighborhoods because those Blacks felt oppressed. None of these rioters had actually been kidnapped from Africa (in large part by Muslim or African slavers,) and sold to White, Christian slaveowners. Few, if any of them had lived through Jim Crow. They were largely young, Black males who had lived their lives in a state of legal equality, if not superiority over their White fellow citizens. Leftists across the United Staes excused lawlessness, theft, assault and murder because these thugs belonged to a group that was once oppressed by White people.

I hope that nobody is surprised that lunatics like Madeline Bunting can publish articles accusing the Pope of provoking Muslims with thoughtless words (when totally stripped of their concilliatory and friendly context, that is...) and be considered a reasonable people by the modern left. The MSM has spent decades acting as apologists for the shooting, bombing and many more creative deaths of Israeilis, Europeans and Americans at the hands of Islamic thugs because of their special status as Oppressed People of Color. Of course OPC's are excused for burning down Kentucky Fried Chicken restarants in Pakistan, and rioting across the globe in response to CARTOONS suggesting that Muslims might be engaged in violence against the West. Check your sense of irony at the door, these are Oppressed People of Color! The Catholic nun who was recently shot in the back four-times by OPC's in Somalia had never engaged in a Holy Crusade against the Caliphate. In all likelihood, she had never shown the slightest disrespect for Mohammed. However, those OPC's were entirely justified, because OPC's cannot be expected to follow the rules of civillized society.

Well, call me a racist, sexist, bigoted homophobe for saying so... but each and every member of that international brotherhood of the Oppressed Peoples of Color who draws their justification for murder, rioting, rape and theft from the past can take that justification and stick it directly where the sun does not shine. Preferrably, without the aid of lubricant. Every leftist who acts as an apologist for this sort of behavior can do the same. Until people start holding OPC's to the same standards as we hold Christians of European descent, OPC's are going to keep murdering, raping and robbing, and they are going to keep blaming it on the West. Furthermore, leftist nuts are going to keep writing articles to help OPC's evade responsibility for their barbarous actions. Do as the author does, and point out the hypocrisy!

Don't yell "Mohammed!" in a crowded cinema.
All speech is not good, according to American law. Speech that endangers lives in the circumstances it's given due to those circumstances is bad, constitutional jurisprudence teaches. So be it.

But Muslim violence has turned our world into a crowded cinema daily depicting Islam's truest believer's grisly acts, terrorizing the rest of us so much that shouting "Mohammed!" is enough to cause a panic to break out. And in our panic we trample to death everything we believe in, such as moral certainty, personal accountability and free speech.

This is why I've come to believe that the Pope's comments targeted us - the Milquetoast West - rather than Islam. And true to form, some of us panicked and in so doing trampled the very ideas that propelled the West's ascendency and still secure our priviledged and prosperous way of life.

Finally, I think the Pope wanted to show us one more thing: In panicking at the first sight of trouble and trampling our own ideas, we're doing the terrorists' work for them.

Faith
The Pope seemed more concerned that the west has no faith and will be overwhelmded by those who do.

Silence of the Lambs
So if a violent group commits morally reprehensible acts the morally responsible person should walk away? You condemn them with your silence?

If actions do indeed "speak louder than words" what does slinking silently away say? I think "coward" is a better descriptor than "morally responsible".

Our Post-modern Faith
The West has plenty of faith, just in the wrong things, like moral relativity instead of moral certainty, programmatic victimhood instead of personal accountability, and politically correct speech instead of free speech. And it's these articles of post-modern faith that pose the greatest threat to the West because they threaten to take our weapons away from us before we really get a chance to let 'em rip.

"We have met the enemy, ...
and they is us.", Pogo Possum (Walt Kelly)

faith
We used to believe that God was omnitient and omnipotent.
We are now taught to believe that govt is onmitient and omnipotent.

Who is Mad Bunting?
It should be no surprise that Mad Bunting comes from the Marxist U.K. think tank Demos described in Wikipedia as follows:

Demos is an influential think tank based in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1993 by journalists from Marxism Today, the theoretical journal of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). In the run up to the 1997 UK general election it was seen as being close to the Labour Party, in particular the current leader Tony Blair. It is however, independent of any political party.

Its co-founder and first Director was Geoff Mulgan, who went on to work inside Downing Street in 1997. At that time Demos was seen as central to New Labour's vision for Britain.

Between 1998 and 2006, under Director Tom Bentley, it moved away from being just a think tank and an increasing part of its workload was described as 'public interest consultancy'. It also did an increasing amount of work internationally.

Madeleine Bunting, previously a columnist at The Guardian, was appointed Director of the organisation in 2006.

Demos has an open access policy which means that all publications are available to freely download under a Creative Commons licence.

Demos works with a number of partners including government departments, public sector agencies and charities.

On August 9th, 2006, British Home Secretary Dr John Reid gave a speech at a Demos conference stating that Britons may have to modify their notion of Freedom, citing that freedom is being misused and abused by Terrorists. [1]


Amen!
After praying for forgiveness for my sins, I used to ask God to make me a better person because I didn't want to put in the required work myself. Today we're encouraged to believe that govt can make us better people in return for one quick vote, and as a one-time-only offer, make the world all better, too! And none of us have to lift a finger beyond voting!

What a charming lot we are, huh?

MAN MADE RELIGIONS ARE CURSE TO MANKIND
all man made religions makes this earth as a hell.All three religion are man made, Muslim, jew, and christian.
They hate each other, fight with each other, destroyed very ancient marvious civilasations.Killed thousands of inocent people.FOR GOD SAKE PLEASE NOW STOP THIS NONSENSE AND LET PEOPLE LIVE WITH PEACE.

Lemme get this straight ....
At an academic lecture, the speaker cites a 700-year-old document which expresses concern about Muslim violence.

Muslims around the world respond with violence, and threaten continued violence until the speaker apologizes ... apologizes for what?

I would say that...
the biggest destroyers of people and cultures in the 20th century have been based on godless ideaologies rather than religion.

I also love the way you invoke the almighty right after proclaim such invocations to be the root of all human misery. Nice touch.

as opposed to the atheists, who have killed more than all religions combined?
I can only conclude that you are as ignorant of religion as you are about econonics, politics, science, etc.

What Religion would you say is...
Divinely authored or inspired?

Was it these very ancient "marvious civilasations" that had an incorrupt interface with the Almighty? Which ones?



This is nuts
Those responsible for the death of the innocent nun are her killers, not the Pope. Those who killed her had a choice and the chose wrongly.

A couple of thoughts spring to mind..
First of all, I like it when Mr. Harris writes with moral certainty like he does in this article. It is his strong suit, akin to the marvelous writings which came out directly after 9/11, in particular the piece about the radical muslims' having a 'fantasy ideology'. Also, the 'World Historical Gamble' piece - they should be required reading for all.

The first thought that comes to mind is simply this: The terrorism has already worked. It's fulfilled its intent. What is the purpose of terrorism after all? It is to change the way the targeted peoples think and behave. This has worked magnificently well. The synergy which now exists between the leftists in the West and the terrorists of the middle east is undeniable. People are now 'terrified' of angering murderous muslims, and have changed the way they think and behave accordingly.

And what has been the result? As far back as the mid-70's, we heard occasional tales of 'arab terrorists' and their zany hijinks. We never gave them much thought, except when they managed something particularly heinous, such as killing Israeli athletes at the Olympics, or hijacking the Acchille Lauro, or attacking a few of our embassies in the Middle East. But by and large, all they got for their efforts was a little bit of attention and then were quickly back out of everyone’s' minds.

We had yet to see the rise of the despotic 'Political Correctness Fascism' which has taken hold over the last decade and a half or so. Certainly no one was worried about offending muslims. Any of them who might be offended by the occasional slight, such as a movie like 'Ishtar', well, they were just dismissed as easily-offended kooks, and rightly so. Nobody really gave them a second thought. I know I never gave a rat's behind about them until after 9/11.

But somehow during the mid 80's, perhaps because they saw their precious 40-year-long stranglehold on power being almost single-handedly obliterated by the strong and charismatic Ronald Reagan, the leftists in this country came upon a new tactic - they would foster a social mindset designed to remove our freedoms more effectively than even the most devout marxist (such as queen hillary) could have dreamed: They gave us the rigid doctrine of 'Political Correctness', whereby our freedom of speech could be legally curtailed, and even prosecuted, merely because someone might possibly take offense.

It has been masterful - it has simultaneously raised up any and all groups who are NOT white male Christians, while at the same time mandating the desecration of anything and everything any white male Christian may hold dear: his values, his religion, his family, his prosperity, and even his most basic Constitutionally-guaranteed rights.

Lenin couldn't have dreamed up a better scheme.

So now, you take a murderous, intolerant group of nuts like the wahhabis, make the poor 'palestinians' the lightning-rod darling of the leftists of the west, and you prop them all up under the protection of 'political correctness', and you see the results. In britain, the government there has completely given up any thoughts of dealing with the issue, as they officially refuse to even consider the possibility that terrorism and muslims might possibly have something in common.

In America, it is almost beyond belief. The news media is hell-bent on doing everything they can to bring us where britain is now - utter defeat by the mere threat of rampaging mobs of angry muslims.

Now look at what has happened. With the exception of the very unfortunate existence of the largest oil reserves in the world sitting directly underneath the most despicable people on the planet, and therefore providing a false prosperity and affluence to the anointed few in their countries, islam has never brought anything by poverty, despair, and backwardness to wherever it has touched. It has rightly been seen as it truly is: a backwardness-inducing, hate-spewing, murdering blight on humanity. But now, with the amazing power of 'Political Correctness', today, in 2006, if anyone anywhere, even the single most vaunted Christian individual in the world, the Pope himself, may be called to task by the leftists of the world merely for some passing remark quoting some emperor from 600 years ago. Murderous thug muslims rampage and riot the world over, and the leftists of the world give them a pass, and blame the words of the Pope for the violence, rather than the sick dogs who commit the acts. AND THE POPE APOLOGIZES. Islam has been raised into a position of world prominence and importance it has never earned. Simply being aggressively reproductive does not automatically lend legitimacy.

Marx only dreamed that God could be diminished by the State, but Political Correctness has actually DONE it. Even the Pope bows down before the mighty god of PC.

It's a dark, dark hole we are in, and the only way out of it I can see always ends with large mushroom clouds over the bulk of the middle east. Kind of depressing, really.

Couple thoughts (pt 2)
(sorry for the length, got on a roll ;)


The other thought which comes to mind is something a bit simpler: the Golden Rule. In the West, we are taught from our first moments as children to obey the Golden Rule: Treat others in the manner in which you yourself would like to be treated. This is not a Christian doctrine, as such, as much as a simple distillation of the bulk of Western thought and philosophy over the last thousand-plus years.

And it works well. The West has become the most prosperous, advanced society in the history of the world primarily because of our ingrained adherence to this simple, common-sense rule by which to live: 'Treat other people well.' If most everyone follows this rule, then by and large, our society will manage to function quite well.

But it has become clear that those inhabitants of the middle east have been raised on no such rule. Islam demands its followers to believe in only one this: that all that is necessary to live a proper life is contained in the koran. Anything that is not in the koran is therefore excluded from consideration, including such alien concepts as the Golden Rule. It is therefore highly resistant to change, and growth, and consequently it is increasingly less and less compatible with the rest of the world.

To us, in the West, it is patently absurd for a people to be obliquely accused of having a religion which promotes violence to take such offense at the remarks that they riot, rampage and murder because of them. They appear childish and stupid to us. But this may only be because our thinking is necessarily conditioned by such niceties as the Golden Rule, and therefore we are not capable of processing the apparent disconnect between their words and their actions (when I say 'we', I am referring to normal intelligent people; leftists and liberals long ago abandoned their sanity and subsequent silly notions such as the Golden Rule.)

This is how such people are able to say, straight-faced, that theirs '...is a religion of peace', while at the same time screaming for the blood of anyone who might have said something, or drawn a cartoon, or anything at all which might have something negative to say about their beloved murdering pedophile.

This is a basic incompatibility which exists at our very cores. The muslims who buy into the 'death to, essentially, EVERYONE' could not be more alien if they had come from an entirely different planet.

This problem is not something that can be 'fixed'. It's not a leaky faucet, which can be repaired with the right application of knowledge and tools.

This problem is an aggressive and deadly cancer. It will either destroy, or be destroyed.

THEY know it, and have known it for a long long time. WE here in the West still refuse to see it.

Hasn't anyone ever stopped to wonder exactly WHY those people are doggedly pursuing the ability to kill people on a massive scale? It's because every last one of us who does not bow down and pray in the direction of their big rock is marked for death.

And the absurd notions of political correctness and multiculturalism are going to shepherd us out and them in.

I just hope we will be faster on the trigger than them when the time comes.

More than simple 'choice'...
When a Pope discusses an ancient piece in the context of using 'reason' in a search for God, and when the response to it is killing an old nun in a hospital and burning churches and calling for the murder of the 'messenger' we have a perfect example of 'res ipse loquitor". (The thing speaks for itself).
Their acts are intrinsically evil.
If and only if and when the MSMMs (mainstream moderate Muslims) I hear are out there put together something like a Million Muslim March will I begin to think I am wrong that the vast majority of muslims are either too cowed or cowardly to protest or are in fact a part--perhaps THE part-- of the problem.

Civilization and Its Enemies
This book is as important and engrossing as anything else I've read in at least the past 10 years.

Ah YES!!!!
TO: raghunath1
RE: The Voice of "Reason"

"all man made religions makes this earth as a hell.All three religion are man made, Muslim, jew, and christian." -- raghunath1

I can understand your 'ignorance'.

Please don't compound your problem with 'pride'.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[Stupid: Ignorant and proud of it.]

Apologizes for what?
I realize this might get me on an Islamic hit list, but here goes anyway.
http://www.west-melbourne.com/images/PapalReaction20060921.jpg

Universality
Universality is a characteristic of a correct moral system and also a characteristic of Christianity. Sadly, it is not part of Islam.

I think you are right on wesley
I have always been puzzled by PC and multiculturalism. I simply cannot accept it. I am hoping the people of this country will wake up to this sickness. I believe messages such as yours should be placed in the public arena for discussion. It would shake the foundations of the news media and academia. Thanks for the message.

Economic, politics science are spreading less illusion then religions,
Man made religions spread more illusion, and they killed more people. If you think over entire history of world these ******* religions are more harmful and most cruel they are the curse to mankind.

tosh
The example given is more to do with cultural and social attitudes then anything else. There was now rioting in Australia by Muslims over this issue. Some fundamentalist go to peoples funerals yelling god hates fag's if someone got angry and hit them who's to blame.
Sure some thing's need to be said but there are many ways to go about it. When your wife asks if she looks fat in a new dress do you tell the truth?

re Wesley's
great comments and also don't forget that those same american liberals who thought up the scheme of being PC, are the same ones who want to keep you beholden to the mid east oil, viz. they are the ones who don't want to drill for oil anywhere in the US and thus bring down the reliance on foreign sources. They are the fifth column trying to destroy your country.

What a Bunch of Whooie
TO: raghunath1
RE:

".... religions are more harmful and most cruel they are the curse to mankind." -- raghunath1

Considering in your earlier demonstration of ignorance you specifically mentioned Christianity, you're ignorance is showing....again.

RE: But Then Again

Communism is a 'man-made religion'. So is secularism.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[God builds his temple in the heart, on the ruins of churches and religions. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson]

No
Just wondering which one raguntha1 considers the real deal.

Apparently he considers no religion to be divinely ordered, or won't answer.

What illusions
We have thought over the entire course of history.

Stalin alone starved out 10-40 million in the Ukraine alone in the harvest of despair. That doesn't count the purges and gulags. Hitler's ovens took something like 6
million, but that might be low. They'd still be counting Mao's deaths if they cared and Pol Pot killed well into 7 figures.

Evidence not rants count here.

your the one with delusions
economic religions tell people that they can get rich with no effort, if they just vote in the right politicians.

Communism has killed something like 100 million people in the last century, and it is not done killing.
Socialism has led to the deaths of millions as it crushes the economic growth that could have saved them.

You desperately want to believe that all religions are man made. But that is your delusion. You can live with it, if that is what you want.

the geek really can't see the difference, can he?
...

PubliusJr I could not say it better myself
I hope people such as yourself continue to pound on the subject till someone pays attention. It needs to be placed right into the center of the political arena with all Democrats and Republicans. If they do not get the message, hopefully a new party could be constructed. Thanks again.

Ihate all ism
I hate communism, All man made effort, who claim to bring peace ,prosperty, all are spreading illusion ,that is my firm thinking.Ilove ancient greek ancient hindu philosophy, they are more natural and most benevolent to mankind.

Ach Tso!
TO: raghunath1
RE: Ihate all ism

Obviously an anarchist. And, since you hate all 'isms', you must, therefore, hate yourself for supporting anarchISM.

You got serious 'issues', compadre.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
[What a maroon. -- Bugs Bunny]

I love myself,prude myself, my self esteem is very strong
Because I believe in creative living,adventurious life,free from any ism,Those who believe any ism they are blind followers ,true believers.they hate wholeheartly to non believers, some time killed them.

Doing the terrorists' work for them
rb: You say "I think the Pope wanted to show us one more thing: In panicking at the first sight of trouble and trampling our own ideas, we're doing the terrorists' work for them."

But if by "our ideas" you mean the idea that Muslims, unlike Christians, are fundamentally warlike, and we must destroy them as being members of an inferior faith, you are indeed doing the terrorists' work for them. You are inflaming the passions of billions of people in an irresponsible manner, and indeed yelling "fire" in a crowded theater.

The mission of Al Qaeda is to provoke exactly such dissensions, and to inflame them to the point that people can no longer think calmly but are compelled by outrageous events to go to war. We've seen that in every move they've made against American and Western interests. And we have also seen it in every move they've made in Iraq.

Zarqawi's bombing of the Askariya shrine in Samarra was Iraq's Twin Towers incident, and it plunged the nation into a civil war. The motivation is to plunge the entire world into a war. And such a war, in which Islams entire 1.3 billion members are enraged at America, is one we cannot win. Why then, would we do their work by further polarizing the two religions?

Finally, there is nothing singular about Islam's early injunction to spread the faith by the sword. By way of a single example, I would point out a picture of Matthew of Ajello, a significant figure in the politics of 12th century Norman Sicily, soaking his feet in the blood of a decapitated Muslim child. He holds the child's head while his manservant pours out the blood from the spouting neck.

The picture is not meant to indicate that there was the occasional rogue who felt that way. Matthew was a very prominent figure, and his gesture indicated the climate of the time in Christendom. Sorry I couldn't have gotten you a better likeness. The one I've seen is from a book, and is quite explicit.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_of_Ajello

Interesting to note, in the panel above the one depicting his pious ablutions, that Matthew enjoyed the favors of two wives.

My point: Times have changed. Neither Islam or Christendom have an exclusive reputation for religious violence. We serve only the cause of the worst extremists when we advocate spreading the fire of hatred further than it has already been spread.

Would you disagree?

I disagree
Great essay passion-wise, rb. Sense-wise, though, it indulges one fatal error: The Muslim world hates us for who we are, which means that all we have to do to whip up the flames of their smoldering hatred is to be ourselves. Is this kind of hatred the effect of reasonable cognitive processes, or is pure insanity, do you suppose?

Do you want us Westerners to stop being ourselves, rb? Is that it? Shall we cancel free our speech, lock our women up during the day, take their car keys and careers away, burn our books, stop having new ideas, shoot our scientists (unless they specialize in weapons technology), bury our textbooks and teach only the Torah, the Bible, and the Koran in our schools, etc. etc. etc.? "Only over our dead bodies," is the reply I expect from Americans who understand and value their liberty and heritage.

See, I don't give a rat's red rump what Matthew of Whatever Bunghole did back in The Bad Old Days. Our western way of life is not about guys like that - it's about guys like Bennie speaking their minds and guys like us talking about it instead of cutting each others' heads off. We've got a new and better MO than they do, rb, or have you been falling behind on your Al-Jazeera viewing lately?

Do you really want to give that up for Friday prayers at the townhall-mosque, with the cold, hard muzzle of an AK-47 jammed against the back of your neck?

The unified, lockstep Muslim world
"Great essay passion-wise, rb. Sense-wise, though, it indulges one fatal error: The Muslim world hates us for who we are", etc.

I would have to say the same for your response. Allow me to suggest that a great curative for imagining the existence of millions of menacing Muslim legions, all bent on your destruction, might be to actually get to know some real, flesh and blood Muslims, and to be frank about asking them questions as to what makes them tick. You would find there is no more unity in their thinking than can be found among "all" Mexicans, or "all" Americans or even "all" Republicans. People once imagined exactly the same about the Chinese-- those "yellow hordes" that so overwhelmed and inflamed the Edwardian imagination. Remember Fu Manchu?

I have not spent a lot of time in Europe, but I have noticed that despised populations within that continent tend to be surly, inward-dwelling and sinister in the face they choose to show the majority ethnics. If you just walk the streets in any sizable town in the East, for instance, you will come to the conclusion that the Gypsies are all low, dirty thieves who cannot be trusted. May I suggest that your personal experience with Muslims in the ghettos of northern Europe has been the same?

Get to know some. Use your detect-o-meter to determine whether they are lying when they tell you how they feel about living among the post-Christian whites of their adopted countries. Maybe you will grow in the scope of your knowledge. I would hope you can readily go beyond your present limited view, and come to realize the variety of man.

"Do you want us Westerners to stop being ourselves, rb? Is that it? Shall we cancel free our speech, lock our women up during the day, take their car keys and careers away, burn our books, stop having new ideas, shoot our scientists (unless they specialize in weapons technology), bury our textbooks and teach only the Torah, the Bible, and the Koran in our schools, etc. etc. etc.?"

These are the ravings of racist obsession. You're displaying absolutist thinking, where if one gives a single inch in recognizing the humanity of the Other, one must necessarily give up one's own existence. Best to get beyond this stage.

I bring up Matthew of Ajello precisely becaue he was a hater, and because it was as natural to him to dehumanize the Muslim as apparently it is to you. In his case, the irony is lost on him that he himself indulges in the same bloodthirsty hatred he accuses the Muslims of having. The reason he gleefully murders them is the mirror of his own violent inner thoughts. And he is typical of his time, as the Matthews of the present day are of our own.

"Do you really want to give that up for Friday prayers at the townhall-mosque, with the cold, hard muzzle of an AK-47 jammed against the back of your neck?"

I think you need to take a cold, hard look at yourself. You are a hater. Watch how others respond to you.

Cowboys & cattle
Oh come, now, rb. You needn't call me a racist, a hater, an absolutist, or a closet member of the master race just because I disagree with you. Perhaps I've used harsh words to convey harsh judgments, and perhaps I've been clumsy in justifying them. I'll try again out of the respect I have for you, which is a pleasure to have reflected back at me.

How does one tell the difference between cowboys and cattle? The cowboys have all the herding gear. To extend the analogy, how does one tell the difference between human cattle and its herders? Same answer; they've got all the herding gear, such as political power, media channels, schools, social & religious leaders, and compelling ideas.

Now, unlike you've charged, I don't believe all Muslims are racists, baby killers, or haters of Jews, Christians and other Muslim sects. Rather, I can see them being driven toward the casual commission of such evils by skillful herders with herding gear, which I'll list again for you, this time providing examples: Political power (the Sauds, Hezbolla, Hamas, Chirac); media channels (nearly the entire Arab media and much of the western media); schools (Muslim schools all over the world teaching Islamism K-12); social & religious leaders (UBL, thousands of radical Mullahs); compelling ideas (the resurrection of the Umma).

So while you make a compelling "look into the individual hearts and minds of Muslims, you murderous, warmongering hater" argument (such disappointingly knee-jerk leftist stuff, rb), you ignore how humanity really works. This is something I pointed out to you regarding respect, but it seems not to have found purchase between your ears, rb, probably because as a socialist, you must ignore how humanity really works in order to envision its future recreation in some other image.

"If you just walk the streets in any sizable town in the East, for instance, you will come to the conclusion that the Gypsies are all low, dirty thieves who cannot be trusted. May I suggest that your personal experience with Muslims in the ghettos of northern Europe has been the same?"

No. Swedes brought Muslims to Sweden for cheap labor and as political refugees to testify to their own status as a moral hyper-power. Swedes throw money, mosques, jobs, concilliatory words, and a blind eye at their Muslim fellows, only to be hated, despised and shunned as moral apostates and infidels. Worse, the vast majority of Muslims sequester themselves in huge apartment blocks outside Sweden's major cities, practicing a self-imposed apartheid.

Now and again a Muslim Kurd or Iraqui will murder his daughter or sister because honor requires it, a Somali mother will pack her daughter off to Somalia for a summer meet-the-kin vacation and a quick snip-snip castration, or a Syrian father will pack his daughter off to Damascus for whirlwind forced marriage to dirt-poor goatherder. Problem is, they're all Swedes except for the rustic kin.

What human rights should my murdered, mutilated, and kidnapped countrymen have against their Muslim families, religion and heritage, rb? Can you put aside your self-righteousness a moment and answer me that?

Simple racism?
It's unavoidable that what I'm saying to you comes across as mere name calling. But I'm trying to point to your basic mindset (eloquestly delineated, I might add) in support of the notion that people who think like you have an innate superioroty to those who think differently. And that idea is fundamentally opposite to what I'm trying to point out.

It doesn't matter that your guys are so much better than everyone else-- it really doesn't. What matters is the means you employ to get along with other people. Once you come to the conclusion that you're not going to be able to kill every last person whose beliefs you despise, I think you have to admit that some breeding stock will still remain, and you're going to have to make friends with their children if you're going to get any peace. And you're just going for vengeance:

"What human rights should my murdered, mutilated, and kidnapped countrymen have against their Muslim families, religion and heritage, rb? Can you put aside your self-righteousness a moment and answer me that?"

Look at the historical record. When has the approach you point toward offered any kind of lasting peace? The Serbs, Croats and Bosnians offer a sterling example of where you end up when you fixate on your poor "murdered, mutilated, and kidnapped countrymen". You're an intellectual. You should be able to figure your way out of this paper bag.

In any event, I'm curious. If the Muslims have treated your people so badly, who are they? They certainly can't be ordinary Americans. Are you perhaps descended from Iraqi Jews? Or Iranian Zoroastrians? Those are groups that indeed might have an understandable grudge. But Americans?

Finally we come to my "self-righteousness". I find it hard to imagine that you've been able to carefully read through everything I've had to say, and can still say that is my motivating force.

Hasn't it rather been directed toward a non-judgmental, practical means of getting along with one's neighbors, regardless of the supposed incorrectness of any of their beliefs or opinions? Wouldn't it be apparent to anyone who can read written English that self-righteousness is an innacurate summation of my anthropological approach? Please explain what you are thinking.

Some people are indeed more primitive than others. You don't have to rub shoulders with them if you don't want to. I would suggest avoidance, rather than going the route of trying to annihilate them. The Germans once thought the world would be a better place if they got rid of everyone they didn't like. And what did it get them? Heed their example, bro.

The $64 question
"So while you make a compelling "look into the individual hearts and minds of Muslims, you murderous, warmongering hater" argument (such disappointingly knee-jerk leftist stuff, rb), you ignore how humanity really works."

This, of course, is not a quote but a paraphrase. And not a good one. So as a matter of protocol, I think such characterisations should not be in quotes. I do think whenever we meet a stranger we should look into his heart and mind, so we know who we are working with. But maybe that just comes from my experience as a manager of people.

I didn't get off on the "you murderous, warmongering hater" tangent because that sheds more heat than light. I'm trying to point out where your POV rests on a basis of one culture being superior to another. And that you are making inferences from that understanding that I just don't think are useful in our present circumstances. It matters not in the slightest to me *who you are*. But it matters a great deal to me *what you do* that might jeopardise my ability to live in a peaceful world.

I would therefore ask you to be a bit more explicit about what you would do-- if you were the king-- about the Muslim problem in Europe.

Objection! The witness can't reliably testify as to what's in someone else's head.
"But I'm trying to point to your basic mindset (eloquestly delineated, I might add) in support of the notion that people who think like you have an innate superioroty to those who think differently."

How can you possibly know what's in my head, rb? Ponder that one for a minute.

Now back to reality. Here's the gist of what I've always said: There's a simple human psychological foible known as projection. If I feel I'm superior to a short guy, then I'll project that feeling onto him, interpreting his acts as evidences validating my own feelings. Similarly, if a short guy feels he's inferior to me, he'll project that feeling onto me, interpreting my acts as evidences validating his own feelings. To me it seems thou dost protest too much at this line of reasoning, Ophelia.

But what if it's only the short guys who are feeling inferior while all the tall guys are oblivious to the entire set up and just want to live their lives in peace?

"It doesn't matter that your guys are so much better than everyone else-- it really doesn't. What matters is the means you employ to get along with other people."

How do tall guys who don't feel superior to short guys get along with short guys who feel inferior to tall guys?

Your assignment, should you decide to take it, is to stave off the War of Civilizations by finding reliable and relevant answers to the above quesion. This world will self destruct in 50 years ... tick ... tick ... tick

"Once you come to the conclusion that you're not going to be able to kill every last person whose beliefs you despise, I think you have to admit that some breeding stock will still remain, and you're going to have to make friends with their children if you're going to get any peace. And you're just going for vengeance:"

More melodramatic blood-talk, rb. Where's your cool head got off to?

"Look at the historical record. When has the approach you point toward offered any kind of lasting peace? The Serbs, Croats and Bosnians offer a sterling example of where you end up when you fixate on your poor "murdered, mutilated, and kidnapped countrymen". You're an intellectual. You should be able to figure your way out of this paper bag."

What do Croats and Bosnians have to do with my victimized Muslim countrymen, rb? What does a historical record that is not even remotely approximate to the causal nexus of the crimes in question have to do with my victimized Muslim countrymen, rb?

I object, this time on the grounds of the obvious irrelevance of your answer. Now answer my question.

"In any event, I'm curious. If the Muslims have treated your people so badly, who are they? They certainly can't be ordinary Americans. Are you perhaps descended from Iraqi Jews? Or Iranian Zoroastrians? Those are groups that indeed might have an understandable grudge. But Americans?"

I'm an American WASP, rb, through and through. I'm also a Swedish citizen (two passports for the price of one; now maybe I'll finally get value for money from govnerment). Better yet, I'm an adopted WASP with no good clues of his heritage other than what my underwear line tells me: my biological parents were probably both white. Now plug all that in your assumption machine and tell me what you come up with.

Regardless of all that nonsense you projected onto my statement (did I mention projection's more famous brother, the Freudian slip?), I spoke of my countrymen - my fellow Swedish citizens. I want to know what human rights you believe these mixed bag of tricks are entitled to.

It's a nasty question, rb, which is why I suppose you avoided it. Do human rights (1) attain to individuals such that they (2) transcend international boundaries, social and cultural norms, and local laws, regardless of whether they're of a religious character? In other words, does a Swedish 11 year old girl have the right to retain her clitoris even when she's in Somalia?

"Wouldn't it be apparent to anyone who can read written English that self-righteousness is an innacurate summation of my anthropological approach? Please explain what you are thinking."

Moral relativism is not anthropological, and it does no one any favors. Groups of humans establish cultures and societies based on agreements. These agreements determine what is right, but also what is wrong. Moral relativism undercuts the validity of these agreements, leaving culture impoverished and societies in discord.

It's often said that Islam fostered a great civilization. Relative to what, rb? If all civilizations are equally great, who's to say that Neanderthal's "merely different" humanoid civilization didn't match up to Islam in it's golden age. And don't you think Muslims would find your anthropological, relativistic answer offensive?

What are our rules a measure of, rb?

Metrics
"I do think whenever we meet a stranger we should look into his heart and mind, so we know who we are working with."

Back to how people work, then. When you want to look into the hearts and minds of strangers, what exactly do you look at, and what are the metrics you use to interpret what you see? Are these metrics universal, that is, do they work on any human no matter what his background is? And if you answer "yes" to the preceding question, why is this so?

What are our rules a measure of, rb? (Warning: You're being herded.)

"I'm trying to point out where your POV rests on a basis of one culture being superior to another. And that you are making inferences from that understanding that I just don't think are useful in our present circumstances. It matters not in the slightest to me *who you are*. But it matters a great deal to me *what you do* that might jeopardise my ability to live in a peaceful world."

Bennie talked and Muslims murdered nuns and burned churches in response. Other Muslims also talked, ordering their more enterprising followers to kill Bennie, or convert him to Islam at the point of sword. Nevertheless, contrary to your accurately quoted and not paraphrased words above, you don't seem to care about what the Muslims did, only what Bennie did.

Please explain what you mean if you don't mean what you say. Is it really true that you care more about *what people do* as opposed to *what they are*, or more appropriately, what you've adjudged them to be (convinced of their own superiority)? If so, then your belief tracks with none of what you've said.

"I would therefore ask you to be a bit more explicit about what you would do-- if you were the king-- about the Muslim problem in Europe."

If were king of Europe, I'd immediately sign unilateral free trade agreements with every Muslim nation. Then I'd flush the Common Agricultural Policy down the drain. Then I'd throw open my borders to any Muslim who wanted to immigrate to Europe, but only if the immigrant has a job waiting for him.

Then I'd start a war on your cultural relativism, rb. I'd issue licenses to bordellos catering exclusively to customers of a Middle Eastern persuasion. Indeed, I'd build red light disctricts in or around every Muslim neighborhood, Amsterdam style, complete with coffee houses serving the hash du jour to adult theaters putting on live sex shows.

Then I'd order porn broadcast along with every satelite package. I'd also order sex education in all madrassas, and before long 8-year old Muslim boys would be wrapping Trojans around bananas right after their morning Koran class. And last but not least, I'd outlaw circumcision and castration of every kind, on public health grounds.

My relentless pounding on Muslim culture would continue unabated until it succedeed in separating the sheep from the goats. Then I'd deport all of the goats who hadn't had the good sense to deport themselves.

What do you think about that?

Increasing annoyance
"How can you possibly know what's in my head, rb? Ponder that one for a minute."

You're not inarticulate. The contents of your mind are an open book.

However you seem to be working overtime on developing the theory that I'm projecting my own attitudes onto others. And, keeping in mind that we are still talking about the problem of how to deal with Muslims in the West, specifically Europe, I don't think this theory can be perfected.

Mangling my tall guy-short guy analogy, you imply that the Christians hold no contempt for or fear of the Muslims, and that the whole thing is just a figment in the Muslim imagination. I don't think that interpretation holds up.

Next, you comment "Your assignment, should you decide to take it, is to stave off the War of Civilizations by finding reliable and relevant answers to the above quesion. This world will self destruct in 50 years ... tick ... tick ... tick"

This one is inane.

And from there you descend further into obfuscation. Really, I don't think the point of this discussion is just to befuddle your opponent while covering your tracks. We're talking about something important. We should at least try to be open and honest.

You appear to be advocating a ratcheting up of the latent hostilities between European Christians and Muslims, by means of positing that they started it first, so it's not our fault. Please correct me if I'm wrong. You have been saying this over and over quite explicitly in all your posts on the subject.

And my response was "Look at the historical record. When has the approach you point toward offered any kind of lasting peace? The Serbs, Croats and Bosnians offer a sterling example of where you end up when you fixate on your poor "murdered, mutilated, and kidnapped countrymen". You're an intellectual. You should be able to figure your way out of this paper bag."

Your reply is wholly inadequate: "What do Croats and Bosnians have to do with my victimized Muslim countrymen, rb? What does a historical record that is not even remotely approximate to the causal nexus of the crimes in question have to do with my victimized Muslim countrymen, rb?"

You know full well I'm not talking about your "victimized Muslim countrymen" but rather your breast beating over the injustices done to Christians. Now please tell me-- what is the word we use for people who twist an argument inside out and then accuse the other party of projecting?

You're just playing with words. I find our conversation to have gotten off to an interesting start, but can't maintain my interest when you offer up little logical Moebius strips like "It's often said that Islam fostered a great civilization. Relative to what, rb? If all civilizations are equally great, who's to say that Neanderthal's "merely different" humanoid civilization didn't match up to Islam in it's golden age. And don't you think Muslims would find your anthropological, relativistic answer offensive?"

To top things off, you say "Moral relativism is not anthropological, and it does no one any favors." This misrepresents me gravely. Cultural-- not moral-- relativism is in fact THE basis for anthropological observation. It's the sign of a devious mind to twist someone's statement into something more easily refuted, and then to refute it.

Please either do a better job of addressing my issues without these debating tricks, or let's just let the matter drop.

Who wants to be Rip Vanwinkel?
"Mangling my tall guy-short guy analogy, you imply that the Christians hold no contempt for or fear of the Muslims, and that the whole thing is just a figment in the Muslim imagination. I don't think that interpretation holds up."

"And from there you descend further into obfuscation. Really, I don't think the point of this discussion is just to befuddle your opponent while covering your tracks. We're talking about something important. We should at least try to be open and honest."

Is it really time for honesty, rb? OK, as you wish, for if you're still capable of honesty, then you'll admit you've been avoiding the following question, which goes to the heart of the issue we're debating and which I've asked you to answer before:

A Swedish 11-year old girl, born and raised in Sweden, accompanies her devout Muslim parents to Somalia for a summer meet-the-kin vacation. While there she's forced down on an unsterile table by her kinsmen while one of them saws her clitoris off, according to Muslim custom and law.

(1) What are the Swedish 11-year old girl's human rights in this situation, if any, and (2) if she has any such rights, what are her claims and remedies and (3) in which jurisdictions can she pursue them, and (4) having successfully pursued her claims, what are the obligations of said jurisdictions under international law?

I know you're not a lawyer rb, particularly because I've observed in the past that you're capable of honesty. But parts (1) and (2) of the question above are explosive - enough so to demolish your peacock-like primping and preening over cultural relativity.

To answer this question you've got to take a side, rb. Whose side will it be? As all lawyers know, the real world doesn't line up in nice, neat academic lines that can be sorted and resorted over afternoon tea. This is a real case brought by and against real, live, flesh-and-blood people, and it's a mess.

So tell me, rb, whose side do you come down on? For if you don't have an answer and solid arguments to back it up, I suggest to you that the mess of cultural relativism you've been swallowing is worthless, dehumanizing crap.

"You know full well I'm not talking about your "victimized Muslim countrymen" but rather your breast beating over the injustices done to Christians."

I really do mean my fellow Swedes, who in the cases I cited really are Muslims. I refer specifically to two nationally known cases of honor homocide (male kin murder female kin because female kin won't obey male kin), several cases of forced femal circumcision (könstympning, if you care to look it up and can read Swedish), and several abductions and forced marriages, all in accordance with Muslim custom and law, and all in violation of Swedish law.

Who's been talking about crimes against Christians? Just you, rb. Besides, only 6 Swedes in 100 say they truly believe in God, and that includes the Jewish and Muslim ones! So I think the only way to explain your comments is to once again (I hate beating a dead horse) suggest that you're projecting.

(By the way, I love the irony of me having to sound like the ACLU, whom I despise, just to rub your nose in the glaring contradictions of cultural relativism when introduced to moral certainty, that is, law;)

"This misrepresents me gravely. Cultural-- not moral-- relativism is in fact THE basis for anthropological observation. It's the sign of a devious mind to twist someone's statement into something more easily refuted, and then to refute it.

Please either do a better job of addressing my issues without these debating tricks, or let's just let the matter drop."

Now perhaps you can see where I was herding you with my "debating tricks", rb. Observe other cultures as an outsider all you like. Write insightful articles about their "rights of passage", such as female circumcision, their "mating practices", such as forced marriages facilitated by kidnapping, and their "family bonding customs", such as murdering female family members who won't toe the line.

Your relativism's all fine and dandy in that universe of intellectual ejaculation, rb. But that universe sometimes collides with my universe, the one in which there certainly are "rights" and "wrongs" which are written into lawbooks interpreted by courts, who abhore the idea "it's all good".

So wake up out of your intellectual utopia, rb, and answer my question, parts (1) through (4), or as many as you can. Or go back to sleep. It's up to you.

Time for honesty
I know you're tired of my "peacock-like primping and preening over cultural relativity" so I'll be as brief as I can. The case you cite is egregious but not uncommon. It happens to tens of thousands of African girls each year. In this case the fact that the subject held Swedish nationality would be of interest to a lawyer, but the fact she was a young girl would be of concern to any human being.

Several years back we had a refugee from, I think, Burkina Faso who fled from a clitoridectomy and planned marriage, and had come to America under false papers. When found, she applied for asylum only to have it turned down as the harm she was fleeing was not included in their guidelines. It was a famous case and I don't know how it turned out. When last I saw it was going badly, and she was most likely going to be returned.

Two cases out of millions. Yes, it's a horrible custom, as is our own custom of sending young men (and now women) off to make war on strangers in strange lands. We do not cut off their clitorises. But we do cause the deaths and grievous injuries of many tens of thousands of people, either guilty of defending their country against us or guilty of just living there.

So should I condemn the Somalis? Perhaps. Let's while we're at it condemn the Americans too.

If you have cleverly concealed parts of your hand to lead me down some blind alley by offering the impression of a bigot, I will confess that your little deceit worked. I was convinced. I'm not sure what the exercise served, though. You painted a convincing picture of a person who hated everything Islamic.

As you now claim something else, I have no idea what, I will abstain from further comment and shun the conversation as something unclean.

Nice to see you're human
I don't hate everything Islamic, rb. What I despise is the notion that everything Islamic is worthy of our utmost respect without subjecting any of it to some regime of standards. The same goes for any other religion - even my own.

Without a regime of standards to measure what various customs are good for and who pays their cost, one can only ape the judgments of others while discerning nothing for himself.

Of course, there's plenty to condemn in everyone, rb. Even so, be careful about judging others, for you'll be judged by those very same standards you judge others.

The rules you apply to measuring the conduct of others reflect your beliefs, rb, particularly in the utility of the conduct to the purposes motivating it. I threw the case of the 11-year old Swedish Muslim girl at you because I wanted to smash your theoretical beliefs in cultural relativism against your humanity by showing you that the utility of the Muslim custom of female castration is negligible while the cost of it is enormous.

I also wanted to show you that Swedish laws, which are the most progressive and secular on the planet (just like you like them to be, I assume), acknowledge this despicable and unjust cost distribution and thus ban forced female castration.

Finally, I wanted to show you that when civilizations mix, their customs collide, people get hurt, and either the law moves in to settle and clear the injuries, or the troops do. But the law couldn't do its thing if it had no standards to measure conduct, which is why it abhores your, "It's all good, man," relativistic approach.

Consider whether the arguments for war aren't more in line with cultural relativism than your arguments against it, rb.

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