Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Where the Islamo-pollyannas go wrong

The clash between the anti-jihadists (such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer) with those who may be called Islamo-mitigationists (for want of a better term) is a prominent feature of the intellectual landscape these days. In this posting I concentrate on the latter group, citing the view I hold to be mistaken first, then commenting on it.

1. No fault detected among Muslims may be admitted without immediately citing a similar fault found among adherents of some other religious tradition. -- This is the principle of moral equivalence first identified by William James in 1906. A familiar example stems from the Cold War era. When students of Soviet affairs pointed out that Pravda purveyed many lies and distortions, others were quick to point out that there are lies and distortions in the New York Times. Yes, there were and are; I notice them on a daily basis. But the two problems are on an entirely different order of magnitude. So there is an error of proportionality here. Moreover, in other cases where one might expect moral equivalence to be invoked, it is not. For example, when the noxious views of a Rev. Fallwell or a Rev. Hagee are invoked, it suffices to indict these views for what they are. In fact, that is what should be done. As G. E. Moore is reported to have remarked: “A thing is what it is, and not another thing.” So too with Muslim crimes and excesses; they deserve to be examined in relation to Islamic history and doctrine, without trying to change the subject.

2. The unrest and violence of Muslims, especially in the diaspora, is due to imperialist incursions. Absent such interventions, Muslims would be essentially peaceful. Therefore it is the West that is at fault. -- Ironically, this view represents a new version of the Orientalist concept that the peoples of the East are inherently inert and passive.

3. In al-Andalus and the Ottoman empire, religious minorities led harmonious and productive lives, protected by their wise Muslim rulers. -- Today, most historians have dropped the slogan of convivencia, recognizing that the situation of non-Muslims in al-Andalus was blighted by the jizya and dhimmi status. In the Ottoman Empire things were worse, because of the Janissary raids, countless military incursions in the Balkans, and a general atmosphere of corruption.

4. The Prophet was a model citizen who led a blameless life. -- This is nonsense. Allowing his followers only four consorts, the historical Muhammad had at least eleven wives, one of whom (Aisha) he violated when she was nine years old. In at least one case, Muhammad ordered the massacre of all the males in a Jewish group that had opposed him, even after they had surrendered.

5. The Qur’an is a unitary document, emitted by the Prophet over a 21-year period. -- In fact scholarship has shown that the Qur’an consists of at least three strata: a pre-Islamic foundation, partly of Syrian origin; the elaborations of Muhammad himself (and not of course of the angel Gabriel); and later additions and subtractions. As we have it today, the Holy Qur’an was not put together until at least 150 years after 632, when the Prophet died. Therefore he could not have authorized the totality of it. To this day, there is no critical edition of the Qur’an.

6. Muslims created the first universities. -- In fact, these institutions were only madrasas, limited to teaching the “Islamic sciences.” Only the West invented liberal-arts universities.

7. Women flourish under Islam, reveling in their protected status. -- In fact, many women do not. Those who claim to be happy in their state of servitude, are probably victims of the Stockholm Syndrome.

8. Today's Muslim hostility to homosexuals is matched by Christian hostility. -- The orders of magnitude are entirely different. Uganda is discussing--discussing--a bill making homosexual conduct subject to the death penalty. Yet capital punishments is on the books in six Muslim-majority countries. Actual executions of gay men are taking place in Iran, Iraq, and the Palestinian territories, often under horrendous conditions.

9. There is a bright-line distinction between violent jihadists (or Islamists) and “moderate Muslims.” -- In fact, members of the latter group often slide over into the former. Even “moderate” mosques in Western Europe are typically funded by Saudi (Wahabi extremist) money.

These are but a few points, taken from my more extensive studies.



Blogger Stephen said...

Why doesn't #1 cut the other way: Israel is arguably an apartheid state, but what about Egypt, let alone Iran or Saudi Arabia.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Dyneslines said...

Israel is an apartheid state because the people live under its rule are divided into three major castes:

1) The Jews, who are the Herrenvolk. Their civil existence is strictly controlled by the bigoted Orthodox rabbinate, which determines the conditions for citizenship, marriage, divorce, and other vital matters.

2) The so-called "Israeli Arabs," descendants of those who somehow managed to remain behind in the face of the ethnic cleansing and massacres that blighted the foundation of the nation of Israel. They are citizens in name only.

3) The Palestinians confined to the Occupied Territories, who have no rights at all

Each of these categories, of course, is divided into subgroups. The Ashkenazim, many of whom have no demonstrable genetic connection with Eretz Israel (as Shlomo Sand has shown), always rule the roost. The Oriental Jews form the restless underclass. Particularly anomalous are some 500,000 recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union, most of whom are no more Jewish than I am. But they are white people, needed to preserve the European dominance of the country. Among the "Israeli Arabs," the Druze have special privileges. The Palestinians are divided into the West Bankers, ruled by a puppet government, and the Gazans who had the nerve to vote the "wrong way" in a democratic election.

This stratification is apartheid, pure and simple.

There are many problems with authoritarian Saudi Arabia and pseudo-democratic Iran and Egypt, but I don't think that they qualify as apartheid states in this sense. The status of the Copts in Egypt shows some characteristics, but Egyptian society is not structured in this way.

2:38 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home