Cost of Islamophobia 3 – Islamism and Modernity

John asked for me to address the following point:

[N]otwithstanding all the sects and interpretations of Islam that evolved in the agrarian age, all the relatively peaceful local practises mediated by saints, shrines, and the pragmatic needs of Islamic societies, the interaction of Islam and modernity, especially since the collapse of the cold war imperial order, is one, as many have noted, that is increasingly mediated by a radical Islamism.

Precisely because John has stated his general agreement with me – that it is “foolish and dangerous” to seek “a war against all Muslims” – I find his formulation all the more interesting. 

Even in his carefully written and concession-laden sentence, semantic drift defeats coherent interpretation:  For John, Islam involves “all the sects and interpretations… local practices… pragmatic needs of Islamic societies,” but it is also something that can somehow be funneled into a singular mediating process. 

In my reading, John’s observation is valid only as a description of symbolic transfers at relatively high levels of abstraction, at specific privileged points of social or political contact.  In this mode, Islam will always be rendered as a radically reduced Islamism – whether it’s in the mass media, in a theoretical or historical discussion conducted person to person, or even in a seemingly neutral classroom exercise (see next post).

To give a concrete example from one critical sphere, the 9/11 terrorists seized the mass “mediating” high ground – the mass media, globally – for a particular Islamism, their rendition of the meaning and message of Islam (very different from John’s, I would suspect) even if materially they achieved very little through the attacks themselves.  Through other actions, largely by design, with the cooperation of self-conscious abettors as well as would-be opponents, radical Islamists have succeeded in commanding a specific and, we presume, important kind of attention for themselves, their aspirations, and their discourse.  Any consumer of mass media – in effect everyone, Muslim and non-Muslim alike – has received powerful, multiply reinforced inducement to associate “Muslim” with “terrorist” – that is, with the specific form of radical Islamism symbolized by the terrorist act.  That is, after all, at bottom the main purpose of terrorist acts.

But it’s not “Islam” interacting with “modernity.”  It’s self-identifying Islamists interacting with modern media culture (and some number of direct victims).  The real, manifold economic, social, and cultural interaction of Muslim individuals, groups, cultures, and nation-states – “all the sects…” – with the modern world takes place independently of whatever latest antics or depredations by Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whatever “Islamic Rage Boy,” or whatever Islamophobic demagogue in the news.  The concrete interaction between the whole of Islam and the whole of modernity is not and cannot be mediated solely or even mainly through communications media – and even less through selected, privileged points of political contact. 

We have no objective standard for declaring unitary and abstract mediation – televised terrorism or high-level political negotiations – as more authentic or more important than countless, polymorphous “mediations.” We have only the criticizeable and resistible assertions on the part of variously qualified specialists of their own primary importance.  It is not given to us to know whether, materially and over the longer term, the murder of 3,000 civilians on 9/11 and the declarations of 3,000 TV imams are more significant than the countless intimate and lived symbolic and material exchanges between the world of Islam (whatever that is) and the world of non-Islam (whatever that is) – just as we do not and cannot know whether the most important interactions from the side of the West are the transportation of expensive but relatively small expeditionary armies to Afghanistan and Iraq, or the dissemination of Western popular culture, or uncountable direct personal and economic transactions, or even harder to define transactions conducted over centuries, in cultural evolutionary if not biological evolutionary time.

None of this means that changing relations, perceptions, and possibilities will not show up as more or less discrete expressions in the funhouse mirror of the television screen or computer monitor.  Nor does it mean that there’s nothing to be done today, in political time.  I’m also not trying to argue that mirroring, transmission, and reception of imagery and information are irrelevant – that they do not themselves constitute mirrorable, transmissable, and receivable events sometimes of great material import – though, even then, there is no way to measure the comparative significance of an international news event like the “Gaza Flotilla” versus the filtration of secular humanistic values and discourse via Arab Idol, a border-crossing Turkish Soap Opera, or the democratic capitalist lyric poetry of the television commercial.  Similarly, we don’t really know that the format and implicit stance of a news channel like Al-Jazeera will be less influential over the long term than its incidental content.

More important, these media events merely stack up next to all of the other events and conditions that finally amalgamate as “modernity,” which is itself an all-embracing and heterogeneous phenomenon that, rather than standing at the other end of Islam, always already includes all “modern” manifestations of Islam, even and especially the most “fundamentalist” ones.  All interactions knowable to modernity are internal to modernity.  In most of these, the radical Islamists must struggle at least as hard to keep up as everyone else.  In many critical respects the response they represent puts them at an extreme material disadvantage.  In other, perhaps even more basic respects, these material disadvantages are the original conditions calling forth the Islamist response.

Returning to John’s original argument, radical Islamism is defined for and by, is effectively a function of, certain roles and performances on the world stage – including the particular “mediation role” that John identifies, but in my view mis-locates.  I intend for my next post to turn to John’s anecdote of the Muslim classroom as another object lesson in the formation of Islamism as an inevitable social identity within modernity, and will (probably briefly) address the role of fundamentalism-literalism in Islamist and Islamophobic discourses.  Strategic implications and practical applications may have to await the promised reply to Christian Zionist.


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69 comments on “Cost of Islamophobia 3 – Islamism and Modernity

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  1. This is nonsense.
    the hirgabi killed innocents.
    they are not muslims, no matter what they call themselves.

  2. That’s very silly Kate, there has been a propensity toward violence, in much of the early Surahs as much as you want to deny it, the assault
    on Khaybar and Yathrib, ‘the first occupied territory’ one might say is an indication of this, the annexation of everything South of Gaul woul
    refute that, unless you argue they were all combatants. The widespread practices of slavery, the taking of the Zanj, those were
    all aberrations.

  3. sheesh.
    look, more democracy in MENA doesn’t mean more secularism. It means more Islam. Iraq is an islamic state with shariah in the constitution and religious political parties. Hamas was democratically elected in a UN-observed fair election. And now Turkey is evolving from a quasi-secular Kemalist dictator/military junta to a representative islamic republic like Iran.
    more democracy in MENA–>more Islam.
    its what the people want. ;)
    Islamophobia just guarantees an infinite supply of spare parts for the Reaver Factories in MENA.

  4. Ck, have you ever known matoko/strangelet/wheeler’s cat, to really
    address a point, honestly. Now Islamism is a counter to modernity, as the original Wahabs were to the Ottomans, Qutb was to post colonial Egypt and Nasserism, et al

  5. @ strangelet:
    It’s clear you don’t understand it, yes. But, then again, you are entering a conversation very late in the day, apparently with your own set of hardened pre-conceptions.

  6. Islamism has nothing to do with al-Islam. People that kill innocents and other muslims cannot be muslim….the Prophet said.

  7. Ah Matoko, you wannabe Alliance apparatchik, you forget that the Reavers were the failure of an attempt to re-engineer aggressiveness
    out of the human condition, in that case put me with the fighters of
    Serenity Valley

  8. @ strangelet:
    Largely irrelevant to the thesis, which is not about Islam per se, but about taking issue with what the earlier commenter, John, defined as the interaction of modernity and Islam.

  9. @ narciso: the reavers were men who lost their humanity…and the Alliance were Meddlers.
    narcisco, you are a meddler. Meddling is the driver for the whole mess in MENA. holocaustguilt ridden euros carving up Israel…..crippling Iraq by mashing warring tribes and sects together….big white christian bwana and the British Raj, Operation Ajax and the Epic Fail of the Grand Misadventure of the Manifest Destiny of Judeoxian Democracy in MENA (aka the Bush Doctrine)….Islamism is a nationalist pushback, not a religion.

    Teacher: Earth-That-Was could no longer sustain our numbers, we were so many. We found a new solar system, dozens of planets and hundreds of moons. Each one terraformed, a process taking decades, to support human life, to be new Earths. The Central Planets formed the Alliance. Ruled by an interplanetary parliament, the Alliance was a beacon of civilization. The savage outer planets were not so enlightened and refused Alliance control. The war was devastating, but the Alliance’s victory over the Independents ensured a safer universe. And now everyone can enjoy the comfort and enlightenment of true civilization.
    Young River: People don’t like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don’t run, don’t walk. We’re in their homes and in their heads and we haven’t the right. We’re meddlesome.

    the west sowed the dragonsteeth.
    An infinite supply, since we can’t seem to stop.
    more dragonsteeth in the graveyard of empires everyday.

  10. @ strangelet:
    And furthermore impertinent. The position you now seem to be attempting to advance, about some authentic version of Islam distinct from Islamism, is presumed within the larger argument. The radical Islamist bid to “represent” Islam is itself at issue. The Islamophobes and radical Islamists jointly accept and validate it. Individuals like “John” worry about their potential success, about the radical Islamist bid for domination gradually eclipsing alternative perspectives at least within the critical sphere of “interaction with modernity.” Your main argument is with them, presuming you’re capable of mounting a coherent counterargument.

  11. There is a deep and abiding cynical arrogance, you think you can rewrite the genetic code, you think man is greater than nature, that is the arrogance of the Alliance, the Wahhabs arose against the Ottomans, one particular tribe in the mix was described by Doughty more than a hundred years, in terms not unlike we would use for the REavers. The Brits took over from the Mogul Empire, BP’s earlier incarnation, AngloPersian, helped facilitate the alliance of bazzaaris
    and mullahs that forced out Mossadeq

  12. See that was one lilypad of foolishness, too far, Eh Frog, interestingly
    Imam Rauf styles himself a Sufi but hangs around with the openly
    Hambali Hamas affiliated IHIH,

  13. Imam Rauf styles himself a Sufi but hangs around with the openly
    Hambali Hamas affiliated IHIH

    “Hangs around with”? What exactly does that mean? Please be specific.

  14. I think I’ve made that point quite clear, CK, over the last six threads, I would like to see that Manji and a whole host of others, would more directly confront the Islamist current, but what we get is more like Fenton and Levick, whitewashing the Hambali strains of the movement, along with promoting the AGW fraud, which includes locking up our own resources, disarming our nation, and dumbing down
    the next generation

  15. @ narciso:
    You can think whatever you like, but to my mind you haven’t made anything “clear.” What do you mean by “Rauf hangs around with IHIH”? It’s a simple question.

  16. (if you addressed it clearly in a comment or comments on one or more of the last six threads, and I somehow missed it, I apologize. You can always try linking the comments themselves – but I figured it would be easier just to explain your statement.)

  17. Hamas is not a terrorist organization, is that such a tough question, it should be an easy one, if he weren’t so invested in the outcome, if
    Perdana were actually a peace organization, instead of ‘being on the other side” as Glenn Reynolds describes it.

  18. Yeah, pretty scary language:

    Our goal must be living together harmoniously. Our goal is freedom of conscience.

    Enough to make any man’s blood boil with rage.

    Our model should be the Prophet Muhammad when he worshipped in Mecca before Islam had taken hold. He did not pray the noon and afternoon prayers in a loud voice lest that would incite anger of the unbelievers.

    And like him, we should all practise our religions in a way that does not provoke others.

    Wow! And this demagogue walks free! Incredible!

    Can you back up your earlier statement or not?

  19. @ narciso:

    My message to the Christian community in Malaysia is that using the word Allah to mean the Christian God may be theologically and legally correct, but in the context of Malaysia, it is socially provocative. If you want to have influence with people in Malaysia, you must find a way to convey your message without provoking this kind of response.

    If you want to reach the Malays, then use the Malay word for God, which is Tuhan.

    Is that what you find to be incitement to violence? That’s about the only thing I could think you might mean.

  20. @ narciso:
    Seen it. We could take that interview line by line if we felt like it – but none of this comes close to backing up your original statement. I didn’t even mean to be especially provocative in my question. I honestly wanted to know what you were referring to. It makes me wonder what you think you meant when you said “Rauf hangs around with IHIH”? It’s beginning to look like pure calumny.

  21. No, it’s been everything since the Lappen article that I RecBrowed seemingly eons ago, they firebombed churches and that is his answer,

  22. I don’t enjoy this seemingly endless argument in which Colin seems to make up an imaginary predominant Islam which is peaceful. In spite of much evidence to the contrary, and in spite of a resounding silence among Muslim majorities, periodicals, media outlets, organizational charters in response to the entitled and dogmatic cruelty, brutality, bigotry and rejection of the very idea of tolerating those outside the Muslim sphere, Colin continues to maintain that any who sound the alarm about this obvious and growing threat are some kind of intolerant provocative bigots.

    I reject any who callously and cynically pull the race card to silence dissent. Now it seems that a new Islamophobe card is being played to dismiss any who see the need to address a very real threat.

    It seems doubly strange to me since our common roots on this site seem to nurture and arise from a desire to not be credulous saps, or self deluded ga ga heads, oblivious to reality. We, for the most part have agreed that much of what is wrong with the world results from fuzzy thought and wishful thinking.

    This simply does not make any sense to me. How much evidence is required? As the murders and other incidents of brutality and intolerance mount up and as brave woman appear to testify about their subjugation, and as the majority of Moslems continue to either silently cower or passively enable their most bloodthirsty co religionists, it seems to me that anyone who insists on ignoring all of this must have some kind of intellectual tic, or perhaps a chronic need to argue over every word or concept, even when reality clearly overwhelms abstract words and concepts with very real blood and terror.

  23. narciso wrote:

    No, it’s been everything since the Lappen article that I RecBrowed seemingly eons ago, they firebombed churches and that is his answer,

    “Fire bombing churches? From the beginning of Islam, the Prophet said our faith requires us as Muslims to protect houses of worship of all other faith traditions. Islam was able to spread throughout the world, not only because of its own ideas, but also because it protected people’s rights to practise religion freely.”

    Is there a problem with his answer?

  24. “Most recently that anger has surfaced in Malaysia, where 60% of the people are Malays. The High Court’s ruling that Allah is not exclusive to Muslims led to the fire bombing of some churches and protests among Malays, who fear Catholics are trying to manipulate the word to win Malay converts.”

    This should not be.

    Does this seem like a proper response, to such an act??

  25. @ narciso:

    narc, he wrote something that says that the Christians were running an obnoxious trick, they have a legal right to do so and a moral obligation to refrain from doing so and that firebombing their churches is forbidden by the religion that people were saying they were defending.

    But if you are determined to find something to be offended by in what he wrote, feel free.

    Personally I think that he should have himself gone around, found the firebombers and crucified them, burned twice as many mosques,
    and changed water into wine.

  26. If someone did a similar thing in your fair city, and a major religious figure gave such a mealy mouthed response, well we’d never hear
    the end of it

  27. @ narciso:
    narc, my city is chock-full of “major religious figures”

    we had Meier Kahane, we have Rev Sharpton.

    when a “major religious figure” says something that isn’t a full crock, I’m pretty much surprised.

  28. Yes you have Al Sharpton, who did provoke a riot that killed people at
    Freddie’s Fashion Mart, who did slander local law enforcement personnel, yet keeps getting invited as arbiter, commentator, et al.
    You’re making my point for me,

  29. @ narciso:
    YOUR POINT IS PROVEN!!!

    yes,narc, yes!!!!! every time Al Sharpton lies, it proves that Islam is nothing but crazed killers!!!!!!

    the men who raped Tawana Brawley were all Salafists!!!

  30. No, my green scaly friend, it would indicate that folks shouldn’t pay attention to him, yet they do, sadly, as with other characters too
    numerous to discuss

  31. yes, into a komodo dragon, or possibly that bulbous creature outside Jabba’s palace. Pamuk’s “Museum of Innocence” is a good read, btw

  32. CK,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond at length. In general, I share your understanding that a religious revelation can only be well understood by compiling multiple (emic, etic) perspectives, by attending to all the forms of representation that it generates. But it is just this sensibility, I think, that led me to wonder why you were (or, more to the point, why this is a common instinct of much liberalism) so dismissive of the “Islamophobes”. I hardly take Robert Spencer & Co. to be a sufficient guide to Islam, but then who is? My question was along the lines of why make the claim that their approach is useless or dangerous to understanding the complex that is Islam and modernity? Especially if you claim that they are the mirror image of the Islamists, I would think we should take them seriously in an age when, whether it is singular or multiple, Islamism is on the rise. This is not to say we should not re-present, supplement, change, etc., their conclusions. But you seem to imply that we could somehow better understand the complex of Islam by absenting those who are proving successful in drawing warring lines. Why? Why simply take it on faith that Geller & Co. are either A) a sideshow of little importance to understanding what history will reveal about Islam in the long run, or B) an important, but dangerous force with potential to corrupt what history will/should reveal? Why assume that the “Islamophobes” are only fostering a hopeless dead end; why not think that Islam has come, in its historical evolution, to a major roadblock and only by taking seriously the terms of the Islamist/Islamophobe conflict can we hope to join and broaden the debate and find a way around to a point where a religion truly compatible with liberal society can grow in various forms freed by a radical revelation of what was truly a dead end? If we go looking for another, more expert, more liberal, center of opinion around which to discuss Islam and the West, just what is it about the present situation that makes our quest likely to succeed? How come all the liberal and “moderate” Islamic experts have so far done little in way of focussing the debate? Is it really because Pamela Geller (etc.) keeps getting in the way?

    I don’t quite understand why you think my statement implies that Islam can be funneled into a singular mediating process. No doubt any mediation is something of a funnel; how could I begin to discuss Islam without some such device? But yes, there are many scenes on which questions of Islam and modernity are being mediated.
    Nonetheless we have to make bets, if we are to make political choices (a point you make but whose implications remain unexamined). And, as a non-expert with a rather modest understanding of Islam, it’s not satisfactory simply to be told that we must wait some time for history to show what are and aren’t the more powerful trends. While it is more important for us to focus on what we love and to advance its claims for renewal over our desires to express resentment of others, attending to the latter is necessary to help clarify the former and create terms for alliances and honest enemies.

    CK:

    We have no objective standard for declaring unitary and abstract mediation – televised terrorism or high-level political negotiations – as more authentic or more important than countless, polymorphous “mediations.”

    This evolution cannot be televised: That doesn’t mean, of course, that changing relations, perceptions, and possibilities will not show up as more or less discrete expressions in the funhouse mirror of the television screen or computer monitor.

    -historical evolution is not the product of hidden “material” forces, howevermuch biological forces must be taken into account, but rather a question of what can, at any point in time, be represented/organized. The evolution may not be televised but if something can’t appear on some kind of screen somewhere it’s not really happening because it is quickly forgettable.

    You are right that modernity includes all manifestations of Islam. But it is just this ready “screenability” that the Islamists and terrorists contest: their aim is to destroy the world, with its decentralized capacity endlessly to stage scenes within scenes, in order to return the world to the kind of “classical” scene in which there is but one public scene on which everything politically knowable and memorable takes place.

    The question of what Islam is is perhaps the question of how readily the scenes of Islam can be multiplied or differentiated. As Roger Scruton notes (http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/3826):

    ASSOCIATION TAKES a very different form in traditional Islamic societies, however. Clubs and societies of strangers are rare, and the primary social unit is not the free association, but the family. Companies do not enjoy a developed legal framework under Islamic law, and it has been argued by Malise Ruthven and others that the concept of the corporate person has no equivalent in shari’ah [2]. The same is true for other forms of association. Charities, for instance, are organized in a completely different way than are those in the West: not as property held in trust for beneficiaries, but as property that has been religiously “stopped” (waqf) [made non-negotiable]. As a result, all public entities, including schools and hospitals, are regarded as ancillary to the mosque and governed by religious principles. Meanwhile, the mosque itself is not a corporate person, nor is there an entity which can be called “the Mosque” in the same sense as we refer to the Church—that is, an entity whose decisions are binding on all its members, which can negotiate on their behalf, and which can be held to account for its misdeeds and abuses.

    As a result of this long tradition of associating only under the aegis of the mosque or the family, Islamic communities lack the conception of the spokesman [3]. When serious conflicts erupt between Muslim minorities in Western cities and the surrounding society, we have found it difficult, if not impossible, to negotiate with the Muslim community, since there is no one who will speak for it or take responsibility for imposing any decision upon it. If by chance someone does step forward, the individual members of the Muslim community feel free to accept or reject his decisions at will. The same problem has been witnessed in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries with radicalized Muslim populations. When someone attempts to speak for a dissident group, it is very often on his own initiative, and without any procedure that validates his office. Like as not, should he agree to a solution to a given problem, he will be assassinated, or at any rate disowned, by the radical members of the group for whom he purports to be speaking.

    Is it a stretch, CK, to say that your objections are but a variation on the problem of there being no legitimately representative figures in Islam? But if so, aren’t we already on the road to intuiting what is and isn’t going to be possible in the name of Islam, when it comes to liberalizing, or not, the ways this religion is represented?

    For Ibn Khaldun, Islamic history was a great cycle between the claims of established political orders that inevitably grew decadent as their Islam came to terms with all manner of worldly and pragmatic realities, and the eventual return at the behest of angry tribesmen from the margins of the urban or imperial world of a more radical or literal or simplistic reading of the Koran, until the new order that any successful tribesmen established in turn faced the need to compromise with worldly realities and in turn face up to to its own “reformers”. Can Islam now invent a quite new breed of reformers without developing the kind of representative figures on which Western civil society is based? The latter would seem to require some kind of fundamental shift in Islamic self-understanding, perhaps one that will require us fully to engage and not withdraw from present battle lines.

    CK:

    there is no way to measure the comparative significance of an international news event like the “Gaza Flotilla” versus the filtration of secular humanistic values and discourse via Arab Idol, a border-crossing Turkish Soap Opera, or the democratic capitalist lyric poetry of the television commercial.

    -Maybe, but so what. First, if we are concerned with the survival of Israel, and the values it represents, we can hardly be nonchalant about what is unknowable about the future: we have to take seriously the apparent fact that what so many of the “polymorphous mediations” of the Islamic (and non-Islamic) world presently share is a desire or need for a “Zionist” scapegoat. Second, to return to Scruton, while soap operas are very popular in much of the Muslim world, and while they will change Muslims in varius ways, just how can they ever change how Islam can be represented by figures with more or less legitimacy to do so?

    CK:

    All “interactions” knowable to modernity are internal to modernity. In most of these, the radical Islamists must struggle at least as hard to keep up as everyone else. In many critical respects the response they represent puts them at an extreme material disadvantage. In other, perhaps even more basis respects, these material disadvantages are the original conditions calling forth the Islamist response.

    -I’m not sure about this; let’s remember the Muslim Brotherhood is known as the Engineering Brotherhood in Egypt – Islamism seems to be relatively more attractive to people in the West or with with feet in the global economy and knowledge sectors than it does to people still in the world of the village. So what are the relative disadvantages calling forth their response (you don’t believe terrorism is the tool of the poor do you?), and just how much of a material disadvantage vis a vis Western powers should make us feel safe? Their project is to undermine and destroy modernity from within, to return the world to the kind of simplified place that can be ruled by Sharia and Caliphate. Destruction is much easier than production and requires far fewer resources. In any case, there seem to be many people unsatisfied with their modern lives willing to fund things like the Gaza flotillas that promise ultimately to be destructive of those same modern lives.

    In short, if we are to defeat the more nihilistic forms of contemporary Islam, and if we are to avoid alienating all Muslim potential allies, can we really avoid the fight between Islamists and Islamophobes, instead of engaging it to represent it in ways that help push our fight along? The problem with Spencer, Geller, et. al, is that they are weak when it comes to articulating the faith that makes liberal society compelling. We should try to work on that without denying the necessity of at least some of their resentments.

  33. What is clear from here, in the big scheme of things, that wahhabism isn’t even the natural state for the Arabian Peninsula, so why would
    we want it dictating the character of Islam, and social relations, in this, or any other country:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=kQN6q16dIjAC&pg=PA231&lpg=PA231&dq=doughty+%3B+wahhabi&source=bl&ots=xo5WmSDtfL&sig=AS5gW6ulOpfeFDLImImM-SMgVIU&hl=en&ei=TwgeTNfNFYH68Ab_36CLDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CCQQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=doughty%20%3B%20wahhabi&f=false

  34. From the inside cover of Al Aswani’s Yacoubian Institution, some interesting selections from the Koran

    “It may happen that you hate a thing, that is better for you”
    11, 216

    “A monstrous word it is, issuing from their mouths, they say nothing but a lie”
    XV11, 5

  35. @ Zoltan Newberry:

    I’m way past trying to justify myself to people whose mischaracterizations of my arguments imply no apparent attention to them, much less an honest effort to understand them, and who rest on an insistence that I stop saying mean things about all the good people who know that Muslims are scary and evil – then ask me to get back on the team. I’m not on that team, I never have been, and anyone who says I ever was is looking for a fight.

    And I’m not sure why you wrote your note in the third person, but, after all this time, it comes across to me as creepy, distancing and unnecessarily personal at the same time.

    So, happy Father’s Day and go fish.

  36. @ George Jochnowitz:
    IGNORED IT????

    Taliban hang 7-year-old boy accused of being a spy, suicide bomber …‎
    New York Daily News – Corky Siemaszko – Jun 10, 2010
    Twisted Taliban militants took terror to a new low by accusing a 7-year-old boy of spying – and hanging him high. That outrage drew immediate condemnation …
    Video: David Cameron in Afghanistan ITN NEWSTaliban allegedly executes 7-year-old boy: British PM Cameron …‎ – Dscriber (blog)
    Taliban Aim at Officials in a Wave of Killings‎ – New York Times
    TimesNewsline.com – Los Angeles Times
    all 4365 news articles
    4365, 4365,4365,4365, 4365, 4365,4365,4365,4365

  37. @ fertilizing treefrog:

    Thank you. I didn’t find the story in the NYTimes print edition, and I don’t regularly read the Daily News.
    And thank you for giving the story an extra bit of publicity.

  38. @ George Jochnowitz:

    I spent a fair bit of time sticking that story in the eyes of my pals who can’t stop crying over America’s inhumane treatment of other people….

    and BTW, the outcry against that outrage was quite universal in every part of the world, George, including those parts that you think wouldn’t spare a second to interrupt their Israeli-hating.
    the Taliban had to have a wave of “spokesmen” deny that it was they who murdered that boy.

  39. Good to hear the news, fertilizing treefrog. Thank you.
    Here’s a new story that echoes old stories. Two car bombs killed people in Baghdad.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/21/world/middleeast/21iraq.html?hp

    Is there a single soul in the world who benefits from these tragedies? I don’t understand what good this could do to anyone’s cause.
    As is the case with the 7-year-old who was hanged, this is an opportunity for moderate Muslims to express their views.

  40. @ fertilizing frog:

    I have never met a Jew who was not critical in some way of different aspects of Judaism or Jewish culture. Most Jews oppose the policies of the Ultra-Orthodox. Joining them would be boring. I, on the other hand, always say unexpected things.

  41. @ fertilizing treefrog:

    I am grateful to you for your comment. I always enjoy the originality of your language and thoughts, but I have never been able to understand how such an innovative writer can support the most hackneyed, powerful political force on earth: anti-Zionism. Who are you to jump on the bandwagon?

    Perhaps you feel you are not supporting anti-Zionism but merely being critical of Israel. Critical shmitical. There isn’t a soul in the world who hasn’t been critical of Israel. It’s easy to be critical of the most hated country on earth. Frogs shouldn’t jump on bandwagons.

  42. As I pointed out, earlier, the Koran has some beautiful language, like Yacoubian chose to illustrate his novel, it is so sad that one particularly
    noxious strain, has chosen to hijack the discourse, and unlike nearly two hundred years ago, it seized the seat of authority, which originally
    dispatched it, Ottoman Turkey

  43. Sorry, for the distancing, Colin, my frem.

    There has been so much good discussion, creativity, humor and good cheer around here since Commentary banished us that it pains me to see endless semantic debate regarding abstract ideas such as progressivism or Islamophobia.

    It’s just friggin boring, beating dead horses, Colin, and I see no purpose served.

    For instance, today’s Philly Inquirer discusses Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s latest book, Nomad. Reading that brief review and analysis, would you say that she is Islamophobic?

    She comes right out and says that the religion is different from all others in its embrace of violence and intimidation, and she comes right out and decries those in the west (like you?) who avoid carrying out a critical dialogue with Islam for fear of somehow missing legitimate cultural differences, and appearing to be bigoted or intolerant or just plain unwelcome on Park Avenue or in Georetown’s most lovely salons.

    Christopher Hitchens wrote the intro to her original book, Infidel , in which he also criticizes vague western defenses of Islam such as W’s religion of peace twaddle. He gets very specific in mentioning Tariq Ramadan, a Moslem many westerners think of as the ideal moderate, when he really is not very moderate at all.

    So moderate Islam may be a lovely theoretical concept for those who studiously ignore reality, but aren’t you defending a notion of moderate Islam which is absent from the real world?

    What is the purpose of dat, my frem?

    Why all the columns of words. Certainly, tens of thousands of Moslem families live in peace with the rest of us in London, Toronto and Chicago. I get the sense that most of them live very secular lives in which their religion is practiced mostly at home. Probably the vast majority want nothing to do with ‘charities’ which fund jihad and mosques which sell “Mein Kompf.” Is this enough? Should they also form organizations to defeat the jihadists? Are they able to speak out without too much fear of being murdered? If not, how can we entertain the notion of a peaceful and tolerant Islam for a split second?

    Because we want to? Because we have some kind of stubborn adherence to an abstract ideal?

  44. @ Zoltan Newberry:
    I picked up a copy of NOMAD at the library the other day, and plan to read it as soon as I’m done with the book I’m currently reading, THE EVOLUTION OF GOD, which traces the history and pre-history of monotheism alongside a close reading of sacred texts. I’ll reserve comment on Ali until later on – though I’ll note for now that having a professional religious bigot like Christopher Hitchens write the intro for her prior book doesn’t fill me with great confidence.

    Your own comment contradicts itself. First you say there is no “moderate” Islam, and then you describe living peacefully with moderate Muslims. (I’m not really sure that “radical” vs “moderate” is the right opposition either.)

    I think the only thing that should concern us is how much materially aggressive Islamism there is, with that concern also extending to oppression within nominally Islamic societies, though we need to be careful on that score, too, lest we enter unprepared into the glass house syndrome. There’s a lot that’s less than ideal in our wonderful Western ways, too, and, though it disturbs conservatives to acknowledge the fact, there’s a lot in the way that we interact with the rest of the world that directly or indirectly empowers or agitates the worst elements of societies like the one that Ayaan Hirsi Ali escaped from.

    If you find this discussion boring, then find something else to bring up. I consider this discussion essential, I find the concerns that it touches on and the struggle to discover a sound intellectual framework for discussing them to be fascinating, and I find people’s reactions revelatory – though I’ve also frequently found them disheartening and alienating.

  45. @ George Jochnowitz:

    But I love it when they let me hop up and down on that big bass drum atop the bandwagon.

    Now stop being such a nudnik. No country on this earth is above criticism and no nation is weakened when people look to correct that nation’s flaws.

    I remain a rather patriotic American and never an anti-Zionist, George.
    I’ll leave some words from Katherine Lee Bates.

    America! America!
    God mend thine every flaw,
    Confirm thy soul in self-control,
    Thy liberty in law!

  46. I liked Robert Wright’s exegisis on Darwin, I’ve found everything he’s written since unpalatable, it might have been written by a different
    person all together. It’s intriguing how Ali comes from a country so
    proximate to the Arabian peninsula, so this might particularly condition
    her particular response. Now this comes as Adam (Pearlman) Gadahn
    issues his oh so reasonable demands for AQ’s hudna, Abandon Israel
    and “give up on landing on Europa”, i mean, stop attacking targets in the Moslem world, what could possibly go wrong??

  47. Thanks to our prevailing pee cee over eager insistence on not too harshly judging what may simply be legitimate differences of culture and opinion, 12 innocents were murdered at Fort Hood.

    And Major Hassan, who had no bidness being a major, is a hero in much of the Islamic World.

    Would it have been too Islamophobic to drum his miserable ass out of our military as soon as he started spouting smack about how we were slaughtering innocents in his neck of the traditional woods?

    He got to shout allah akbar, 12 people got to die before their time, and our progressive wishful thinkers got to ignore yet another example of a dedicated enemy bleeding our strength away.

    Or was the Army correct to promote his funky ass and look the other way?

    We can’t risk offending these people in our wonderfully diverse little village, right? The diversity nazis might demote us, right?

    No wonder Vladimir Putin sneers at us, and no wonder OBL called us a weak horse.

  48. Zoltan Newberry wrote:

    Thanks to our prevailing pee cee over eager insistence on not too harshly judging what may simply be legitimate differences of culture and opinion, 12 innocents were murdered at Fort Hood.

    Zolt, it night be more thanks to our system of law that requires people to be allowed their freedom until they break the law…..

    And Major Hassan, who had no bidness being a major, is a hero in much of the Islamic World.

    how much of the Islamic World considers him a hero?
    or is that just a guess or a rhetorical point or a bunch of banana cream?

  49. @ fertiziling treefrog:Tell it to the ACLU, Froggie. (but don’t Mister Peanut and his handmaiden, Big Sis, have very special plans for our internet freedom?)

    They incite in their mosques and associations while you dither and tut. In Barry 0’s brave new world, sites like this will be illegal, but organized Islamists who incite and spread hatred and violence will be a ok.

  50. Supremacist lines from the sand,
    Parsed as anything but,
    Sense consumed by the flames,
    As age old hatreds are fanned,
    The world sinks into a rut,
    While some dither and tut,
    Playing logic parsing games.

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "Cost of Islamophobia 3 – Islamism and Modernity"
  1. […] John asks (all further blockquotes will be from the linked comment): [W]hy make the claim that [the Islamophobes'] approach is useless or dangerous…? […]

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