Friday, May 14, 2004

Response to Annika, and Response to Response To Annika

Couple of thoughts

From Reading Lewis and Armstrong, I get the feeling that Islam traditionally had a three way view of religion. Islam, Jews and Christians, and everyone else. I also get the feeling that this view has streamlined into Islam, and then Everyone Else. Since "The West" (and we're not talking Valinor here) refers to a heterogenous conglomerate of many views and religions, it is essentially "not Islam". What defines "The West"? lots of stuff, and it's difficult to summarize, but one could say that a certain ammount of tolerance, and a respect for inherent rights and liberties are part of the mix.

So if this is in fact a religious war, from the Islamist fundamentalist point of view, it would be Islam against "Not Islam", which is trying to entice the true believer with ideas of religious tolerance, freedom for women, freedom of speach etc.

Now we get to the point of Islamic fundamentalism vs. "Moderate" islam. So far, the fundies have been doing all the talking and taking all the action. If, in fact, "Moderate" Islam exists, it's been silent. If it's silent, then it's irrelevant. If the Fundies are the only voice we hear, and no other Muslim voices oppose them, then the fundies essentially speak for all Islam.

So what's the POV from the West? I don't know. I'm not a religous person. The Declaration of Independance and the Constitution of the U.S. are the closest things I have to scripture. But I do know many Westerners tend to view Liberties and Freedoms of various forms almost with a religous bent. Annika views this as a religous war. I would venture to guess that a great many westerners do to. At the very least, this represents open hostilities in a great war of ideologies.

I make no bones about it. We're right in this war. Sure we've made mistakes in Iraq... some horrible... but that doesn't change the fact that we're right. What do we stand for in the end? Human Rights. Freedom of Religion. Freedom of Speach. The ability to pass on hope for a better life to our Children. Freedom to Work, to Learn, to Live where we choose. Self determination in government. What do the Islamists stand for? Worshiping only the word of the Koran. A grossly Missogynistoc world view. Anti Semitism. An almost complete absence of Human Rights. Terrorism as a legitimate tool for diplomacy. and on and on.

The sickening part of this is that from our point of view, we're fine with Muslims worshipping however they want. We don't care how they worship, or what they believe. They, however, appear to be grossly offended by our belief system, our tolerance of Jews, our Freedoms, and the fact that we don't subjegate women or let girls burn alive in schools.

I will concede to BigHominid that I don't see Islam, the religion, as the only cause of the problem strictly speaking. I'm a practical guy, though. Given his academic view of religion, BigHominid may want to divorce the effects of culture and religion. They are however, intricately coupled. So I'll say this; The problem is the whole culture in the Middle East. Oppressive corrupt governments, Abject poverty for the masses, and no cultural history of freedoms or self determination. Throw in a medieval faith, a tribal mindset, and a skewed world view, and you have the mess we're in today. Hell, Liberty and Self Determination are almost completely foreign concepts.

Is it all due to Islam, the faith? Probably not. A lot of it has to do with the mess that France and England made in the post Colonial period. A lot of it has to do with stupid US foreign policies. But a lot of it has to do with the Arab/Islamist mentality too.

BigHominid's UPDATE: I'm certainly not divorcing the effects of culture and religion-- Lord, no. I don't see these phenomena as absolutely distinct. My point was to address the issue of the dehumanization of the terrorists by affirming that they do what they do as free human beings. They can choose not to act as terrorists; it is possible. If we assume such things are impossible, we're one step closer to condoning genocide-- after all, if there's no hope they'll change, there's no reason not to treat them and their associates like roaches. Steven Den Beste has already talked about this as a possible solution should our collective survival be at stake. I'm not quite at that point yet... but I'm also not taking that option off the table.

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