Pharyngula

…but there is a good argument against it: many religions are sickening.


Wow, that set you guys on fire. Just to clarify: I think Wilders is a flaming nutcase; I deplore his racist angle and his desire to exclude and oppress rather than educate.

However, here is the problem: when people ask me if we should keep religion away from kids, I say no: I think comparative religion classes are an excellent idea. Think about this, though. Would such a class show beheadings? How about voluntary crucifixions in the Phillipines? Jim Jones? Suicide bombings? I think we know the answer. Even here, where there is little sympathy for religion, people are horrified at the idea of showing the worst of religion — “oh, that’s not real Islam,” they say, but I have to reply that yes, that’s the reality of faith. Of course not everyone favors violence and it’s only a minority that commit the real atrocities, but the oppression is there.

Anyway, my point was that if we did teach comparative religion, it would be weak tea that favored faith by censoring out the worst of it, or it would be a class tainted with such appalling horror that all of us liberals would be yanking our children out of it.

(But no, Wilders’ film would not be appropriate as educational material either — it’s too dishonest. Some of the elements in it, including some of the most shocking bits, are genuine, though.)

Comments

  1. #1 Glen Davidson
    March 29, 2008

    Just for interest’s sake, here’s UD’s screed trying to make make evolutionists into the jihadists.

    By the way, has it ever occurred to the framers that IDists would be nowhere without being offensive and dishonest? We need to be offensive, and have the tremendous fortune of being able to be honest.

    Glen D

  2. #2 Glen Davidson
    March 29, 2008

    And just to clarify, the link in my post above is in regard to the “Fitna” video.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  3. #3 steve
    March 29, 2008

    dear pz thank you for the courage to post that!

  4. #4 Nullifidian
    March 29, 2008

    Getting one’s information on Islam from Geert Wilders is a bit like getting one’s information on Reconstruction from D.W. Griffiths.

    Not only is he a bigot, he’s a pretty stupid and doctrinaire one from everything I can see.

  5. #5 Rav Winston
    March 29, 2008

    Hey– Nullifidian! Here’s MY ad hominem attack–

    Fuck you, fuck Mohammed, and fuck Allah; up your arses, with a pig’s dick.

    The religious fundamentalists who revel in death, and those who allow them succor and shelter in society are not fit to live in the company of civilized men and women. Crawl back into the thirteenth century and leave the rest of us alone.

    (This applies equally to Christians, Jews, and whoever else would sacrifice human life and dignity on the altar of “god.”

  6. #6 Sastra
    March 29, 2008

    People will of course point out that not all Muslims take the same approach: there are many Islams, just as there are many Christianities — and even many forms of atheism. And so there are. A fair number of Muslims have incorporated humanistic principles into how they understand Islam, and they denounce the violence. But it becomes hard to explain how the words written in the Quran are meant to be metaphors or symbols when Mohammead himself went out with a sword.

    We need moderate Muslims and Christians making arguments that this is all a misinterpretation — God meant something else, and fallible human beings have misunderstood. And we need atheists making arguments that the biggest misinterpretation was to take sacred texts as anything other than the work of fallible human beings in the first place.

    What we do not need is any culture beating the drum, over and over again, for faith as a virtue, and doubt as a vice.

  7. #7 Nullifidian
    March 29, 2008

    He has several…interesting quotes in his background, one of which came in a letter in De Volkskrant accompanying his push to have the Qur’an banned.

    “I am fed up with Islam in the Netherlands: no more Muslim immigrants allowed. I am fed up with the worship of Allah and Muhammad in the Netherlands: no more mosques.”

    In case you were wondering what would happen if you changed Jew for Muslim and synagogue for mosque, someone at an anti-Wilders rally did just that and was arrested for hate speech. Some of the revised slogans, all taken from Wilders’ public comments, were “No more Jews allowed to enter the Netherlands, remove many Jews, de-naturalisation of Jewish criminals, immigration of Jews must be stopped.”

    A hint of the quality of fact-checking for the film comes from the fact that Wilders played an audio clip of Moroccan-Dutch Mohamed Bouyeri, the killer of Theo van Gogh, over a picture of Salah Edin, a Morrocan-Dutch rapper! I guess all those Moroccans look alike, don’t they?

  8. #8 Jack Rawlinson
    March 29, 2008

    Yes, Nullifidian, Wilders is a nasty right wing arsehole. That doesn’t alter the fact that Islam is a vile, ugly, evil creed that needs to be attacked.

  9. #9 Rav Winston
    March 29, 2008

    Alright, then; you have a point. I apologize for my outburst. But only in that it seemed to be directed solely at Muslims.

    Really, though– What else can happen when the “extremists” are the ones allowed to speak for the community at large? How do you excuse this?

  10. #10 Nullifidian
    March 29, 2008

    Hey– Nullifidian! Here’s MY ad hominem attack–

    Fuck you, fuck Mohammed, and fuck Allah; up your arses, with a pig’s dick.

    Boooooooring! Why don’t you try something more vibrant and with a tad bit more ingenuity? Reviewing curses from the Russian may help if such a task overtaxes your primitive brain stem.

    The religious fundamentalists who revel in death, and those who allow them succor and shelter in society are not fit to live in the company of civilized men and women. Crawl back into the thirteenth century and leave the rest of us alone.

    (This applies equally to Christians, Jews, and whoever else would sacrifice human life and dignity on the altar of “god.”

    So the whole object of “civilized men and women” should be to ban people for holding to religious belief, and establish a commuinity of ‘superior’ Stepford atheists?

    You’re coming to the defence of a man who wants to ban mosques, religious texts, and deport Muslims. Is that what a civilized state would do?

    If so, your ideal of a civilized state must be equivalent to Stalin’s Russia. Bad luck with the Khrushchev Thaw, because dear old Nikita even made Soviet planes available to take Muslims to Makkah.

  11. #11 rrt
    March 29, 2008

    I don’t excuse it, Rav. In fact, a lot of us share that view. The extremists are enabled far too much by the “nice” theists.

  12. #12 Marcus Ranum
    March 29, 2008

    You’re coming to the defence of a man who wants to ban mosques, religious texts, and deport Muslims. Is that what a civilized state would do?

    A civilized state would offer psychiatric care for all the victims of religious insanity, regardless of what type it was.

  13. #13 flame821
    March 29, 2008

    Nullifidian,

    Are you stating that the views (and videos of Imams) are in error? That someone faked the video clips? Are you stating that those horrific words did NOT come out of the mouths of Imams and followers of Islam? That those words are NOT written in the Koran?

    As for the ‘replace Muslim with any other minority name’ game. If that minority is calling for death, destruction and terror. YES. I will agree that they need to be controlled for the safety of the general populace and I would NOT rule out deportation or a suspension of immigration to reach that end.

    Allow the law abiding ones to stay and to become part of the established society: after all if they liked the rules and comforts of their homeland so much WHY did they decide to immigrate into mine?

    Multi-culturalism can be a wonderful, wonderful thing when both sides give and take. But that isn’t what’s happening across the board and since the moderates are either unwilling or unable to speak out against it, the Muslim society as a whole will have to bear the burden.

  14. #14 Jim Harrison
    March 29, 2008

    Fitna uses every imaginable propaganda technique to lump all Muslims together and invent a novel form of racism. I don’t have any more use for Islam than I have for any religion–less in fact–but it simply isn’t the case that all these people are thirsting for blood or seriously planning to reimpose the Caliphate.

    By selective quotation from the Bible or the Talmud, one could easily make a similar hate movie about the Jews or the Christians. Indeed, it has already been done many times. Aside from the dubious morality of the methodology, it has the additional disadvantage of promoting a fundamentally erroneous notion of the relationship between scriptures and practices. Scriptures simply are not analogous to DNA. They determine very little by themselves. By all means let us fearlessly criticize and thwart the practice of Islam where it abuses human rights and endangers the world, but let’s not do so in the fashion of the Triumph of the Will or Jew Suss. We don’t need to.

  15. #15 Meng Bomin
    March 29, 2008

    PZ, why are you promoting a piece of right-wing anti-immigration work from the Netherlands? I thought I was going to get a substantive criticism of Islam and instead I got a short film that has a basis in quote-mining, using images from the World Trade Center and Madrid attacks as fear fodder, and quotes from radical clerics and Ahmadinejad, tactics not lost on our own Republican Party.

    I am certainly not one who approves of Islam as a religion, but I would think a reasoned approach to understanding it would be the way to go. To think that you are discouraging the teaching of comparative religion on the basis of this film is, I can’t think of a word other than, appalling.

    I would think that you would check your sources before posting any old crap.

  16. #16 Sue Laris
    March 29, 2008

    I support Geert Wilders being able to produce this, and have only one point of contention with it being on this site: it doesn’t point out that Geert Wilders is a fascist, racist fuckwit as well, and not someone trying to make his country, much less the world, a place where rational debate directs government policy.
    PZed offered, on the “Expelled” clip (as best I can recall), his desire to see religion reduced to the status of a hobby, like knitting.
    I saw this as both an exaggeration (if he was sincere, and I think he was) and a bit of a pipedream. I believe we will see religion made into more and more just a set of customs and practices people apply as mechanical demonstrations of one’s culture* rather than as applied superstition. Practicing moslems I know (some, not many, and all British) are effectively like ordinary, basically reasonable Christians and Jews, who I see as slowly moving away from belief in the sillier claims of their religion and toward creatively respecting and applying the deeper, and also more superficial (not eating pork, etc.), and very reasonable tenets of their religion, discarding their “faith”.

    * I must say I expect most other Americans here to simply not understand what I mean by this. There is no even vaguely unifying “American religion” and barely an American culture – though there was an exclusionary “American culture” that meant white protestant-ism – in this sense at all (witness the range of what exists here, from the often charming absurdities of New Agers, to the bizarre half-business cults like Scientology, to the brutally empty fascism of American Nativist Xians). Brits may be able to, as the CoE is by every first-hand account I’ve heard effectively un-religious to even the people who utilize, even offer, its services.

  17. #17 Mark B
    March 29, 2008

    Unfortunately, I’m going to have to disagree with you here, PZ. Geert Wilders’ nasty little screed is just as much propaganda as Expelled is. The juxtaposition of Koran verses with footage from the 9/11 terror attacks is just as manipulative (maybe more so) as intercuttng footage of Nazi death camps with interviews with scientists.

    Yes, all of the terrorists were adherents of Islam, but an extremist brand which is not mainstream. You can no more damn all Muslims for the acts of a few than you can damn all Christians for the Crusades. Or for the acts of George W. Bush, for that matter. Far be it from me to defend religionists, as I am an atheist, but I think this film steps over the line to hate speech. I’m personally glad that it was banned.

  18. #18 Daniel
    March 29, 2008

    It’s really easy to let your emotional chain get yanked, especially when you already agree with the yanker.

    After that, I need to calm down and remember to fight with cold reason. Panicked people aren’t good fighters. Unless they’re berserkers.

    I had a point.

  19. #19 flame821
    March 29, 2008

    So the whole object of “civilized men and women” should be to ban people for holding to religious belief, and establish a commuinity of ‘superior’ Stepford atheists?

    Strawmen aside, the whole object of civilization is to enable humanity to work together without killing one another. To work together for a common good or a common goal. Bombing, terrorizing, mutilating and psychologically damaging each other isn’t exactly conducive to that end.

    And as a woman I particularly abhor the way women and children are treated by most religions. And lets not even get started on genital mutilations and how easily a woman can lose her life in such backwards, religiously driven countries. Should I want to feel the sun on my skin: death. Should I fall in love with someone my family objects to: death. Should I wear the wrong color, the wrong style of clothing: death. In SOME areas just appearing outside my own home’s doorway without a husband, father or brother at my side opens me up for brutal rape and death.

    So I have to agree with Rav, and add sideways with a broom.

  20. #20 Mark B
    March 30, 2008

    Scriptures simply are not analogous to DNA. They determine very little by themselves. By all means let us fearlessly criticize and thwart the practice of Islam where it abuses human rights and endangers the world, but let’s not do so in the fashion of the Triumph of the Will or Jew Suss. We don’t need to.

    Well said, Jim Harrison

  21. #21 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    Jack Rawlinson:
    Yes, Nullifidian, Wilders is a nasty right wing arsehole. That doesn’t alter the fact that Islam is a vile, ugly, evil creed that needs to be attacked.

    I would like to see a great deal more evidence for this claim than has been presented before I jump on the bandwagon. Islam is a religion of so many different strains that you’ll actually find more agreement between Jew and Pentacostal than you will between certain of the traditions. For example, certain thinkers in the Sufi tradition have gone so far in identifying God with all that exists that they’ve come close to affirming pantheism, a view which doesn’t sit well with the Wahhabism of bin Laden, and Wahhabism doesn’t sit comfortably in the Islamic tradition itself. Mohammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab was denounced in his own time and subsequently for “doctrinal mediocrity and illegitimacy” (Abdelwahab Meddeb, Islam and its Discontents and for generally being a dangerous, crazed fanatic.

    Ray Winston:
    Really, though– What else can happen when the “extremists” are the ones allowed to speak for the community at large? How do you excuse this?

    *snort*

    You are truly the master of self-referential irony.

    I could just turn the matter around by saying that I’ll answer that when you shut up and let sane atheists speak up, but it deserves a better answer.

    Namely, that there’s nothing to excuse. The extremists are not being “allowed” to speak for the community at large; it’s just the only voice that the Western media wants to hear. Muslims are put in an absurd position of decrying the actions of fellow members of their faith and when they do, their criticisms are waived away. For example, I’ve had conversations with people who were staunch bigots against Islam which went along the lines of demanding why none of “these people” ever criticized terrorism. But they have, and frequently, and when I linked to the statements and juridical rulings, they dismissed them because they didn’t specifically address 11/09!

    I guess it’s not enough to be against terrorism on principle.

    The problem is that hardly anybody in the West who is non-Muslim speaks Arabic, and with this comes a necessary level of ignorance. There have been internal criticisms of the religion since it began. An analogy may be to Judaism both with its emphasis on an educated, scholarly class addressing religious issues and in its notorious inability to agree on practically anything. You ask two Jewish scholars for an opinion, and you’ll get three, as the joke goes.

    For example, was anyone paying attention to the Eid sermon of the Grand Mufti? It goes out to hundreds of millions of Muslims worldwide, making it one of the most-watched and best-known public statements by a Muslim religious leader. And what did he say in that sermon for Eid al-Adha?

    Well, he condemned terrorism as un-Islamic, that every Muslim should reject them and that he calls on Muslims to not allow people with evil and sick minds to create chaos and confusion in their countries. It was, in fact, the most stern anti-terrorist message ever to appear in an Eid sermon, and it is just as clear that nobody in the West was interested.

    It’s not a matter of “allowing” the extremists to set the dialogue; it’s just that this is the way that the West prefers to see the dialogue.

  22. #22 AlanWCan
    March 30, 2008

    Sastra, I agree with most of what you said but: and even many forms of atheism

    At what point when writing that did it make sense? That’s an ID talking point. How many forms does not believing something unlikely take? The atheism/theism thing is binary: you do believe in a god or you don’t. The many forms thing only happens on the left side of that equation: if you do believe in a god, do you believe in one or more than one? Which one(s). etc.
    With lack of god belief, that’s it. Unless you want to muddy the waters a bit and point out that xtians are all atheists wrt all gods but ywh, muslims are atheist wrt all except allah, etc.

    How many forms of not believing in fairies are there? How about celestial teapots? Santa Claus? That Ted Haggard is actually completely heterosexual now?

  23. #23 BobC
    March 30, 2008

    “You can no more damn all Muslims for the acts of a few than you can damn all Christians for the Crusades.”

    Why not? Don’t they all believe in a sky fairy? Don’t they all believe in heaven which made 9/11 possible? Are moderate muslims and moderate christians any less insane than the terrorists and creationists? Don’t the terrorists and the creationists need moderate religious people to justify their idiotic beliefs? All religious people are at least indirectly responsible for religious terrorism and religious attacks against science education.

  24. #24 nqdrstu
    March 30, 2008

    I don’t agree with the film and find it pretty offensive but I applaud anyone willing to post this publicly for the benefit of free speech, given the controversy surrounding its release.

  25. #25 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    Are you stating that the views (and videos of Imams) are in error? That someone faked the video clips? Are you stating that those horrific words did NOT come out of the mouths of Imams and followers of Islam? That those words are NOT written in the Koran?

    No, I am not stating that, for the simple reason that I haven’t the foggiest damn clue what is you’re babbling about. You’re going to need to provide specific references before I can start addressing anything in this tirade.

    As for the ‘replace Muslim with any other minority name’ game. If that minority is calling for death, destruction and terror. YES. I will agree that they need to be controlled for the safety of the general populace and I would NOT rule out deportation or a suspension of immigration to reach that end.

    Great. Well, then Americans had better get cracking on deporting all the Christians, because they have members who do call for “death, destruction, and terror”. Robertson, Falwell, La Haye and Jenkins (through their snuff books, especially Glorious Appearing), numerous Christian terrorists who bomb abortion clinics and kill doctors, the Christian Reconstructionists, etc.

    I would have to say that normal people wouldn’t read a Christian Reconstructionist screed and then start agitating that we should deport all the Episcopalians, Methodists, Quakers, Lutherans, and Catholics, but the equivalent stance in regard to Muslims is being defended here.

    Allow the law abiding ones to stay and to become part of the established society: after all if they liked the rules and comforts of their homeland so much WHY did they decide to immigrate into mine?

    I would respond to this, but the rampant xenophobia I’m reading has completely overwhelmed my powers of snark.

    Multi-culturalism can be a wonderful, wonderful thing when both sides give and take. But that isn’t what’s happening across the board and since the moderates are either unwilling or unable to speak out against it, the Muslim society as a whole will have to bear the burden.

    Yet another ignoramus who thinks the fault lies with the ‘moderate Muslims’ rather than his or her own ignorance and the highly debateable standard for what makes a ‘moderate Muslim’.

    There’s an excellent article on that appeared a couple years back called “The Con of Moderate Islam”.

  26. #26 Doug
    March 30, 2008

    Hey, the Iman waving a sword around threatening to cut heads off Jews, I think I saw him buying a Barbara Streisand CD at the mall.

  27. #27 Mark B
    March 30, 2008
  28. #28 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    Why not? Don’t they all believe in a sky fairy?

    No, they believe in God.

    Don’t they all believe in heaven which made 9/11 possible?

    No. In fact, most Muslims believe, based on the Qur’an, that taking any innocent life is wrong and weighs as heavily as if they had taken the life of the whole world (5:32).

    Are moderate muslims and moderate christians any less insane than the terrorists and creationists?

    No, simply because being a terrorist or a creationist is not a sufficient diagnostic criterion for mental disease.

    Don’t the terrorists and the creationists need moderate religious people to justify their idiotic beliefs?

    No, they don’t, in fact moderate religion is a hurdle in that case.

    This has been another installment of Short Answers to Stupid Questions. Join us next week as we take on “Ten Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher”.

  29. #29 flame821
    March 30, 2008

    I wish American WOULD get cracking on the rabid, hate-mongering, murder inciting hoohaas that participate in the Christian faith. If you think I’m xenophobic, you are mistaken. And please do NOT be so arrogant to assume you know who I am and the background I am coming from.

    And guess what, I am just as entitle to MY opinion as YOU are to yours. AS for specific reference, since you apparently have NO IDEA what I’m referring to, watch the effing clip that was linked.

    And while you’re at it, tell me why you think criminals should NOT be deported? I believe MOST countries allow for this option.

    And YES, I absolutely blame moderates (of all the Abrahamic religions) for not speaking out forcefully against the extremist in their midsts. History has shown over and over that when good people don’t stand up against bad people or bad ideas things go from bad to worse for the human race.

  30. #30 LisaJ
    March 30, 2008

    Just disgusting. I’m going to have nightmares again from seeing that beheading. It’s all so apalling to me, but seeing beheadings is just such a shock to the system. I can’t believe this is the world I live in! I can’t believe there are so many people in the world who believe this (and related) shit! I’m going to TRY to sleep now.

  31. #31 Anne Nonymous
    March 30, 2008

    I’m not what you’d call a fan of the terroristic extremist branches of Islam, or of the non-terroristic extremist branches, or even of the non-terroristic non-extremist branches. But I gotta say that film strikes me as broad-brush, emotionally manipulative, xenophobic fearmongering. So I’m a little surprised PZ linked to it with apparent approval.

    Yes, terrorism is bad. Yes, modern-day Islam’s got some all-too-prominent ugly strains in it which, like nastiness-inclined subgroups of pretty much any text-based religion, can find ample “justification” for their actions in their holy book. And, yes, religion is, in general, a groaning load of hand-waving mystical horseshit teetering precariously atop a rickety foundation of outdated fables. But this kind of “zOMG SCARY EVIL MUSLIMS!!!1ONE!” nonsense, not to mention the related juvinility of “Neener neener, we can publish lame caricatures of Muslims in the papers and they can’t make us stop,” isn’t exactly an intelligent cultural critique.

    I like reading Pharyngula because generally when Prof. Myers criticizes religion he makes sharp, insightful, focused arguments which are often pretty damn funny. Sometimes I even learn something new by thinking about what he’s said. And I don’t think either this “Fitna” movie or the Jyllands-Posten cartoons everybody’s so gleefully publishing again really measure up to such a standard. “Fitna” in particular spent so much time lovingly savoring the horrifying results of terrorism and then crudely belaboring the Koranic connections that it actually succeeded in making shocking violence tedious. It was like watching a really crappy horror film. I eventually started fast-forwarding just so it would be over sooner, and I kind of felt like even watching it that way was killing brain cells.

    On top of being deadly boring, the whole thing also seemed to me rather an insult to the victims of terrorism, the way it used their images for that kind of manipulative hatemongering. Terrorists parade their dead as if those deaths justify xenophobia, but those of us who support secular democracy are supposed to do better than that. Instead of looking for excuses to hate, we ought to be seeing in the horrors of religious violence reasons to renew our commitment the creation of local and international conditions conducive to the practice and spread of our secular democratic ideals. I’m sure Prof. Myers sees things this way, but the movie makes me doubt that Geert Wilders does. Or if he does, he sure doesn’t have any idea how to go about expressing it.

    So I don’t see any reason to cheer this thing. I think it’s just another example of inflammatory nonsense that retards rather than enhances progress on the whole clash of civilizations/religious terrorism/oil/western imperialism/etc. issue. Obviously Wilders has the right to speak his mind freely, but it’s discouraging to me to see people applauding what he has to say.

  32. PZ, you should know better — this movie is clearly one-sided propaganda, meant to serve the agenda of the creator, who is a politician actively trying to ban the Quran from being sold in the Netherlands! This is insane. I am on board with pointing out that virtually all religions have sickening (not to mention irrational) aspects, but this is silly extremist right wing bullshit propaganda. It’s a lame scare tactic (replaying the airplanes crashing into the twins from 911 followed by some extremist Islamist yelling stupidities? Give me a break.)

  33. #33 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    And as a woman I particularly abhor the way women and children are treated by most religions. And lets not even get started on genital mutilations

    Oh, lets. For example, let’s point out that genital mutilations are, in fact, wrong according to Islamic canon law.

    Let us further point out that genital mutilations are a cultural commonality, not a religious commonality, and are practiced largely in North Africa, not in the Middle East or in the Asian Muslim states (Indonesia currently has the largest absolute number of Muslims of any one country).

    Let us further point out that this tradition of genital mutilation also occurs in the animist and Christian communities, and that there are even Coptic priests who will refuse to baptize a girl unless she’s had a cliterodectomy.

    and how easily a woman can lose her life in such backwards, religiously driven countries. Should I want to feel the sun on my skin: death.

    Except in the Comoros, Bahrain, Tunisia, even Iran (what do you think they do on the “Persian Riviera” on the Caspian Sea?), and so on.

    Should I fall in love with someone my family objects to: death.

    ?!?!?!

    Should I wear the wrong color,

    ?!?!?!?!

    the wrong style of clothing: death.

    ?!?!?!?!?!?!

    In SOME areas just appearing outside my own home’s doorway without a husband, father or brother at my side opens me up for brutal rape and death.

    ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

    That’s hard luck on those unmarried women with no brothers and a dead father, then. Of course, since the claim is absurd on its face, I don’t think there’s anyone in that situation that we need to worry about.

  34. #34 Dutch Delight
    March 30, 2008

    Ok, I’m guessing some “left” leaning Dutchies have problems containing their hatred for Wilders here.

    I don’t think i’ll vote for him, i actually vote for a party thats considered left of centre usually, but, that doesn’t mean halting immigration of islamic immigrants and working out integration issues before we think of accepting more is stupid, racist or evil. I never understood why some on the left would want to continue bringing more people in when the quality of the so called better future we are offering from the depths of our humanitarian hearts is deteriorating so rapidly.

    It’s clear we have huge problems with the immigrants that are here already. Current politics continue to marginalize secular oriented muslims and seem intent on talking to muslims through their imams and religious institions. If stopping immigration based on religion or nationality turns out to be unconstitutional then just stop accepting everyone or raise the bar for everyone. Fine by me, we can think about opening up in a decade, maybe two again. It is pants-on-head idiotic to keep trying to clean up the mess we are in while the tap is still running.

    But thats me.

  35. #35 Jeffery Wang
    March 30, 2008

    Okay, seriously, why is the condemnation of Islam labeled as racist? I am highly suspect of, even prejudice against, the Islamic faith but it is a faith, a religion, not a race. Perhaps there are people out there legitimately against the immigration of peoples of Arabic or Persian descent—and, yes, they could be labeled racist—but I feel the vast majority of the objection is aimed at the Islam itself and, honestly, bollocks to their ethnicity.

  36. #36 mothra
    March 30, 2008

    @13- exactly right.
    @ Nulifidian #20- I believe you have set out a false dichotomy- that religious moderates are speaking out and ignored by western society and media as the opposing view to much of the western world is prejudiced against Islam. It is not just media, or western culture that dismisses the ‘moderates’ the moderates are still delusional and ARE in fact a very small voice. Two possible reasons include: The societies in which they live lacks the rule of law such that speaking out against extremists can get you killed. Moderates are required to criticize their own religion when taking on extremists.

    My rationale for not suscribing to your viewpoint that moderate religious views are ignored by western culture and media is my own experience when dealing with ‘moderates.’ In the upper midwest of the U.S. the moderate christians are the wackos- actively preaching anti- science, anti-intelluctualism, anti- reason and the extremeists are those who would kill others in defense of those views- both groups are abhorrent and detrimental to society. the only difference is the speed of the collapse.

    I think a comparative religions course should be part of a secular education. Use Pascal Boyer’s book: “Religion Explained” as the text. Since moderates fail to speak out (hold rallies against, activly campaign against) extremists- a public ‘innoculation’ against the pitfall of religion would have long term benefits.

  37. #37 BobC
    March 30, 2008

    #26, God, sky fairy, what’s the difference? Whatever religious people call their magic man, they need psychiatric help.

  38. #38 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    I wish American WOULD get cracking on the rabid, hate-mongering, murder inciting hoohaas that participate in the Christian faith.

    If you look 37 degrees to your left and about 97 degrees off the horizon, I think you might see my point zooming by at Mach 2 over your head.

    I wasn’t talking about cracking down on the far-right fundamentalists, but cracking down on the liberal to moderate religionists who share a common faith with the far-right fundamentalists.

    If you think I’m xenophobic, you are mistaken.

    Then stop making such xenophobic comments.

    And please do NOT be so arrogant to assume you know who I am and the background I am coming from.

    No, I should have only the proper amount of arrogance due a person, namely the degree of arrogance to condemn all the practitioners of a 1.2 billion person-strong faith because of its fundamentalist elements.

    And guess what, I am just as entitle to MY opinion as YOU are to yours. AS for specific reference, since you apparently have NO IDEA what I’m referring to, watch the effing clip that was linked.

    So you want me to respond to the images that appear in an inaccurate (witness the confusion over Mohammad Bouyeri), biased, propaganda film. Tell you what, before I do, why don’t you respond to my statements that this is the only face that’s made visible by the West?

    And while you’re at it, tell me why you think criminals should NOT be deported? I believe MOST countries allow for this option.

    I don’t believe that “MOST countries” allow for their deportment procedures to be biased according to religious faith.

    Now, if you want to understand my views on criminology, I would say that prisons, immigration detention centers, etc. are where the power of the state is manifested most nakedly and therefore ought to be opposed on both general and specific terms. For further information, please see:

    http://www.anarchistblackcross.org/content/index.html

    And YES, I absolutely blame moderates (of all the Abrahamic religions) for not speaking out forcefully against the extremist in their midsts. History has shown over and over that when good people don’t stand up against bad people or bad ideas things go from bad to worse for the human race.

    Except that they have been, and you haven’t been listening. So whose fault is it, really?

  39. #39 Sam K.
    March 30, 2008

    “Oh, lets. For example, let’s point out that genital mutilations are, in fact, wrong according to Islamic canon law.

    Let us further point out that genital mutilations are a cultural commonality, not a religious commonality, and are practiced largely in North Africa, not in the Middle East or in the Asian Muslim states (Indonesia currently has the largest absolute number of Muslims of any one country).”

    False. According to the hadiths of Sahih Al-Bukhari, the prophet Mohammed himself was circumcised. Since Muslims view their prophet as uswa e-hasana (the perfect man), whose example they are each obligated to follow, it is easy to see why many of them would condone or even promote genital mutilation.

    Even though female circumcision has no basis in the Qur’an or most hadiths, Islamic tradition tends to be inordinately obsessed with the chastity of Muslim women, thus allowing the promulgation of misogynistic practices such as the forced veiling of women and clitoridectomy.

  40. #40 Anne Nonymous
    March 30, 2008

    If you look 37 degrees to your left and about 97 degrees off the horizon, I think you might see my point zooming by at Mach 2 over your head.

    Nullifidian, am I misunderstanding this, or could flame821 see your point equally well by looking 143 degrees to her right and 83 degrees off the horizon? You’re making my coordinate-system-related sensibilities twitch here — IMO the altitude oughta be in the range [-90 deg, 90 deg]! ;-)

  41. #41 BobC
    March 30, 2008

    “moderate religion” These two words don’t belong in the same sentence. What’s moderate about believing in an invisible man who hides in the clouds?

  42. #42 Sam K.
    March 30, 2008

    BTW, Nullfidian, why do you grow so belligerent whenever anybody criticizes the “religion of peace”? I don’t recall you displaying any indignation whatsoever whenever PZ Myers made derisive comments about Christianity.

  43. #43 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    It is not just media, or western culture that dismisses the ‘moderates’ the moderates are still delusional and ARE in fact a very small voice.

    Really? I don’t even have enough knowledge to make that sort of judgment on a 1.2 billion strong faith. Of the living languages, I only speak French, German, Arabic, English, and a smattering of Russian. I don’t speak Urdu, Punjabi, Pashto, Persian, Bahasa Indonesia, Mandarin, Uyghur, Kazakh, Uzbek, Kyrgyz, etc. etc. So on what basis are have you established that the moderates are “in fact a very small voice”?

    I believe you have set out a false dichotomy- that religious moderates are speaking out and ignored by western society and media as the opposing view to much of the western world is prejudiced against Islam.

    I’d suggest that you learn what the word “false dichotomy” means. That religious moderates are speaking out and ignored by Western society and media is hardly in opposition to the view that much of the Western world is prejudiced against Islam.

    In fact, I would argue that this prejudice exists and informs an astonishing degree of ignorance about the region, since the whole Western world seems wrapped up in its Orientalism. As someone who spent some of his undergraduate years pursuing Arab history (mainly through the history of science angle, after I gave up on a Classics career, then deciding that if I were interested in science I should do science), I can affirm that most of the texts in English, especially prior to the publication of Said’s seminal book, Orientalism, are utterly worthless.

    There is such an astonishing blind spot even today, although the current scholars in ME Studies are doing much to rectify this, and it shows itself not only in scholarly texts but in the way Islam is mishandled even when Americans are trying to reach out. For example, in Afghanistan, one of the “hearts and minds” things that they did was to drop footballs/soccer balls for the Afghan kids to play with. They also thought it would be a nice gesture of reaching out if they put the flags of the Muslim countries on this footballs. So they did, including the Saudi flag with its statement printed on the flag, “la ilaha ill-Allah Muhammadun Rasul Allah” (“there is no God but God, and Mohammad is his Prophet”).

    Naturally, this was used by the Taliban to stoke up resentment in the Afghan Muslim community, along the lines of “See! See! This is what they think of the religion of the Prophet!”

    That’s a kind of idiocy that I see on an almost daily basis, because I actually follow the Arab-language papers. So when something like this crap from Wilders comes out, I cannot help but see it as symptomatic of the same damn shit.

  44. #44 BobC
    March 30, 2008

    Don’t they all believe in heaven which made 9/11 possible?
    No. In fact, most Muslims believe, based on the Qur’an, that taking any innocent life is wrong and weighs as heavily as if they had taken the life of the whole world (5:32).

    #26, I think you misunderstood me. I asked do religious people believe in heaven. The answer is yes. They do believe in heaven. Without this belief there would have been no 9/11. My point was, everyone who believes in heaven helps the terrorists think they are normal, which makes all religious people part of the problem.

  45. #45 lolife
    March 30, 2008

    Okay, seriously, why is the condemnation of Islam labeled as racist?

    Because the majority of the white, western world is Christian and the majority of the non-white mideast world is Muslim. It’s like when some white cowboy says that rap music sucks. Their opinion is based by their lack of understanding of urban black culture. If you do understand urban black culture you’d be less likely to dismiss the entire genre, even if it didn’t suit your personnel taste.

    I don’t think that is what people are doing in this case but I do think it is a thin line that gets crossed a lot. Your average right wing redneck doesn’t like “them god damn towel heads” and it is akin to racism in that case.

  46. #46 bacopa
    March 30, 2008

    I came to this late. I had to work tonight. Google video won’t show me the movie. Doesn’t matter anyway. Muslim immigration to Europe should be halted without delay. Europe has largely shed off its previous invasive middle-Eastern superstition, Christianity. It does not need to take on another.

    Harass them within the law until they quit coming. If you need cheap labor, Mexico’s a good source. It works for us.

    As for those who suggest that European anti–Islamism is just a rehash of anti-Seitism, please note there was never a Jewish threat to Europe akin to what Islam presents today.

  47. #47 Sue Laris
    March 30, 2008

    A wonderful topic! Kudos, PZed!

    It is always a wonderful thing to have the opportunity to realize that there are rabidly stupid shits, when some issues are raised, even among those I normally have the most agreement with.

    People here who are excusing, much less lauding, this piece of shit, uselessly inflammatory video dreck are people whose more reasonable opinions I can now evaluate with a clearer eye, knowing their reasoning is, at least on some issues and to some degree, tribal and situational.

    Nullifidian is far closer to expressing rational views here than even one of his/her critics, but all but one of them hasn’t got the cool judgement to read those posts as they are written.

    ** To help put this fire out with some gasoline, the anti-muslim shits who made this would find allies among the worst America has to offer, and likely will be lauded by British tabloids and the Telegraph as well. Those are your allies on this, so why doesn’t it make any decent atheist uncomfortable enough to leave the room?

  48. #48 Engineer-Poet
    March 30, 2008

    Quoth Nullifidian:

    He has several…interesting quotes in his background, one of which came in a letter in De Volkskrant accompanying his push to have the Qur’an banned.

    And why not? The Quran is more outrageous than other things which are banned as hate speech in the Netherlands. It calls for genocide of the Jews, so why should it be treated any differently than a neo-Nazi tract saying the same thing?
    Haven’t WE, of all people, had fucking enough of special pleading for religious dogma?

    “I am fed up with Islam in the Netherlands: no more Muslim immigrants allowed. I am fed up with the worship of Allah and Muhammad in the Netherlands: no more mosques.”

    So you’re saying that the seething hostility of Muslims and mosque teachings toward the hard-won tolerance and freedoms of the Netherlands shouldn’t be acknowledged as a threat? Even after murders and multiple death threats?

    There are plenty of places on earth where women are chattels and Jews are non-persons. Why should the Netherlands become another one?

    In case you were wondering what would happen if you changed Jew for Muslim and synagogue for mosque, someone at an anti-Wilders rally did just that and was arrested for hate speech.

    And rightfully so, because there is no moral equivalence. As Hugh Fitzgerald said so eloquently:

    A Jihad Watch reader asked me: “If the Israel/Palestinian conflict were exactly the same as it is, only the roles of the two warring parties were exactly reversed, would you then switch allegiances to the Palestinian side?”

    Let’s see.

    If there were 22 Jewish states, and only one tiny Arab state, and if in those 22 Jewish states every other group was denied anything like equality (see the various groups of Christians all over the Muslim Arab world, or for that matter see the various groups of non-Arab Muslims — such as Kurds, Berbers, and black Africans in Darfur), and if those 22 Jewish states also possessed fantastic oil reserves and the one tiny Arab state possessed nothing but the intelligence of its populace, and if those 22 Jewish states were the size of the 22 members of the Arab League, with 14,000,000 square miles of territory, and the one tiny Arab state had less than 1/1,000th of that, or about 10,0000 square miles, and if those 22 Jewish states were possessed of an ideology that required them to move heaven and earth in order to eradicate that one tiny Arab state….

    Read the rest there.

  49. #49 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    Even though female circumcision has no basis in the Qur’an or most hadiths, Islamic tradition tends to be inordinately obsessed with the chastity of Muslim women, thus allowing the promulgation of misogynistic practices such as the forced veiling of women and clitoridectomy.

    Your conflation of male circumcision with genital mutilation was absurd and insulting, especially in context. Cliterodectomies often result in lifelong pain and severely impacts the ability of the woman to have a satisfying sexual life. Circumcisions, on the other hand, do not typically have such a result. Some sensitivity is lost, but it doesn’t impact one’s ability to have a full sexual life.

    Or in brief, stop thinking with your prick.

    Now, as to cliterodectomy, it is wrong according to canon law, and babbling on about an “inordinate obssess[ion] with chastity” is not going to change the fact, nor does it change the fact that cliterodectomies are regionally and culturally bound traditions arising from North and Central Africa and do not come from Islam. For that matter, male circumcision is not required by Islam either in the way that it’s a requirement of Judiaism. It represents no covenant and there’s no command in the Qur’an itself.

    BTW, Nullfidian, why do you grow so belligerent whenever anybody criticizes the “religion of peace”? I don’t recall you displaying any indignation whatsoever whenever PZ Myers made derisive comments about Christianity.

    And I don’t recall you at all (and you’re stupid enough that I would have remembered you). So what?

  50. #50 Feast on the Lake
    March 30, 2008

    I took a comparative religions class in high school. We had weekly speakers throughout the trimester on the different major religions, and we had a couple of folks from the U of M’s atheist group come speak. Of course, we had the obligatory rude Christian kids in a huddle on one side of the room, throwing stupid questions at them and acting like the mere existence of people who don’t believe in their god is a personal insult. I couldn’t believe it; I mean, why take a comparative religions class if you aren’t willing to learn about the viewpoints of others?

  51. #51 Susan
    March 30, 2008

    LisaJ:

    I’m going to have nightmares again from seeing that beheading.

    Thank you for warning me, Lisa! I wouldn’t have been able to sleep for a week.

  52. #52 pcarini
    March 30, 2008

    This equivocation between the Abrahamic religions needs to stop. It also needs to stop at the right place: the texts.

    The people who are currently taking these words as justification for doing horrendous things come, to a great degree, from the Muslim religions. Remember, we’re talking about the very recent past and the present, not the crusades or the genocides in the Bible.

    Even if the translations in the film are completely false, even if the director is completely biased (wasn’t his friend killed by a death squad for making a movie that was offensive to Muslims?), the fact remains that the horrible, stomach churning atrocities in the film were actively praised as having been done in the name of Islam.

    Agree or disagree with the conclusions of the film (It’s obviously propaganda and I can never agree with banning speech or books) but actions speak louder than words. It’s just not possible to unfairly portray a beheading.

  53. #53 Sue Laris
    March 30, 2008

    {sigh} A last post to Engineer-Poet and his ilk.

    I surrender this thread to you bigots, and I’ll stay away from this laundry list of self-aggrandizing hate speech.

    I hope you all become real boys (or girls) one day, but may we never meet in real life until then, little woodenheads!

  54. #54 Stanton
    March 30, 2008

    And why not? The Quran is more outrageous than other things which are banned as hate speech in the Netherlands. It calls for genocide of the Jews, so why should it be treated any differently than a neo-Nazi tract saying the same thing?

    I hate barge in on this party, but, specifically where in the Quran did Mohammed state that the Jews need to be annihilated?

    Last I checked, the Quran said that genocide of anyone was a very bad bad thing, and history showed us how there were plenty of Jewish communities thriving in numerous Muslim cities for hundreds of years.

    Hell, there’s still a Jewish community in Iran, and the Ayatollah has yet to utter any fatwahs to have the Iranian faithful exterminate the Iranian Jews.

  55. #55 MB
    March 30, 2008

    Geez, PZ, Geert Wilders is a shitbag and makes most of your targets look like, well, I don’t know what but I’m not sure why you would post his short without some kind of disclaimer. I’m all for free speech, but I expect to have to see that on Liveleak, not here…

    Nullifidian, a different kind of shitbag than Geert, (apparently arguing for the sake of arguing or simply trolling) was doing ok with #4 and maybe even with #7.

    Defending religion because not every adherent is completely batshit crazy is kind of like, well, getting one’s information on Reconstruction from D.W. Griffiths – only worse.

    Yes, we live in a racist, xenophobic country and wingnuts attack Islam (and any non-Christians) for their own agendas. That makes the religion ok?

    While most Muslims, like most “fill in the blank,” don’t believe in taking innocent lives, the Saudis that flew the jets into the buildings DID believe in heaven, and THEIR beliefs did make 9/11 possible, as well as the feuding Null alluded to in his posts. Which of course the Saudi government, our tax dollars and oil habit continue to promote in Saudi Arabia and Mosques throughout the world.

    Why doesn’t Null explain why he thinks any religions are true/useful/necessary/good?

  56. #56 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    And why not? The Quran is more outrageous than other things which are banned as hate speech in the Netherlands. It calls for genocide of the Jews, so why should it be treated any differently than a neo-Nazi tract saying the same thing?

    How to phrase this succinctly and accurately?

    Bullshit!

    I guess that was easier than I thought.

    There is no such verse, and anyone who claims there is is not just mislead, but saying something to absurd on its face that they can be regarded as a liar as well.

    Haven’t WE, of all people, had fucking enough of special pleading for religious dogma?

    Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve had fucking enough of ignorant twits lambasting something that they know absolutely sod-all about. Apparently, that’s to be condemned when creationists do it, but not when the ‘Brights’ attack religion.

    So you’re saying that the seething hostility of Muslims and mosque teachings toward the hard-won tolerance and freedoms of the Netherlands shouldn’t be acknowledged as a threat? Even after murders and multiple death threats?

    Considering that there is no such “seething hostility” towards the hard-won freedoms of the Netherlands on the large part of Dutch Muslims, I would say no.

    And rightfully so, because there is no moral equivalence. As Hugh Fitzgerald said so eloquently:

    A Jihad Watch reader asked me: “If the Israel/Palestinian conflict were exactly the same as it is, only the roles of the two warring parties were exactly reversed, would you then switch allegiances to the Palestinian side?”

    Let’s see.

    If there were 22 Jewish states, and only one tiny Arab state, and if in those 22 Jewish states every other group was denied anything like equality (see the various groups of Christians all over the Muslim Arab world, or for that matter see the various groups of non-Arab Muslims — such as Kurds, Berbers, and black Africans in Darfur), and if those 22 Jewish states also possessed fantastic oil reserves and the one tiny Arab state possessed nothing but the intelligence of its populace, and if those 22 Jewish states were the size of the 22 members of the Arab League, with 14,000,000 square miles of territory, and the one tiny Arab state had less than 1/1,000th of that, or about 10,0000 square miles, and if those 22 Jewish states were possessed of an ideology that required them to move heaven and earth in order to eradicate that one tiny Arab state….
    Read the rest there.

    There’s no need, because this man obviously understands as little of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as he does of Islam.

    It certainly isn’t the case that Israel is the poor little country beset on all sides by Arab bullies. In fact, quite the reverse.

    In 1948, the state of Israel was created, and the dispossession of Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim, began. In seaside locales like Jaffa, many drowned as the Jews pushed the Arabs into the sea (which makes the cynical inversion of the identities as an argument for Israel very telling). In Deir Yassin, the Irgun, Tsel, and Hagana terrorist organizations massacred over two hundred people. Many of these people would then go on to starred political careers. It would be as if bin Laden not only was given safe passage through Afghanistan, but became the president.

    This process of ethnic cleansing occured throughout the year. In the Christian villages of Iqrit and Biri’m, the inhabitants were ordered out due to “security concerns” and told that they could return soon. Sixty years later, and their decendants are still waiting in exile, many in refugee camps clinging on to marginal survival. Later, Iqrit and Biri’m would be the code name for the Palestinian operation that led to the capture of the Israeli Olympic team.

    Israel further stretched its muscles in the Six Day War and then attempted to install a literally fascist dictator and admirer of Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco, Bachir Gemayel, on Lebanon in the first Israeli-Lebanese War. This was the when the towers of Beirut were leveled, which bin Laden claims gave him the idea behind the September 11 attacks.

    Today in Occupied Palestine, the IDF has been known for indiscriminately bombing refugee sites, torturing its ‘detainees’, bombing inhabited areas with anti-personnel devices like flechette shells, and leveling whole city blocks to allegedly get at ‘terrorists’ who live in only one building out of the two blocks leveled (I personally witnessed this one).

    In addition, members of the Palestinian diaspora can be expected to be stopped at Tel Aviv and forbidden from traveling back home if they refuse to sign away their internationally-recognized right-of-return. Palestinians have their land stolen or divided by a apartheid wall which is manned by members of the Israeli forces who have a habit of going on break for hours at a time, ignoring the critical needs of Palestinians to farm their land on the other side of the wall, or to take sick and injured people to the hospital, etc. etc.

    Currently, an entire region is being slowly starved to death for voting the ‘wrong’ way in an election and then having the temerity to actually retain power when the Israel-backed and utterly appalling Abbas tried to organize a putsch. Electricity is cut off for hours at a time, making being on a respirator or on dialysis a risky proposition. The Karni crossing, the only one capable of handling the amount of goods to sustain Gaza economically, is closed for the foreseeable future.

    Palestinians are also required to drive from and to designated Palestinian areas, so that there are Palestinian-Israeli Freedom Rides in protest. They are also forced to do so with a designated Palestinian license plate, and it is illegal for a Palestinian to drive a car with an Israeli license plate. Even though hundreds of thousands live in Israeli controlled areas, they are not allowed to vote in Israeli elections nor are they allowed to have Israeli citizenship.

    In South Africa, this was called apartheid. In Israel, it’s the Middle East’s Only Democracy.

  57. #57 Sam K.
    March 30, 2008

    Nullifidian,

    I believe I already mentioned that circumcision has no basis in the Qur’an. Thank you for annihilating that strawman. I did, however, explicitly mention that the Hadiths of the prophet and his sahaba (companions) are accepted by most Muslims as guidelines for proper Islamic behavior.

    There are also no verses in the Qur’an or hadiths that condemn clitoridectomy. The closest verse I can find that amounts to an open condemnation is this:

    ‘Um Atiyyat al-Ansariyyah said: A woman used to perform circumcision in Medina. The Prophet (pbuh) said to her: Do not cut too severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband’.”

    There you go. The prophet refuses to condemn clitoridectomy, either!

    This happens to be my first time commenting on any of PZ Myers’ posts, and I truly appreciate your politeness and self-restraint. Next time, Nullifidian, why don’t you judge Muslims by the holy texts they venerate, not by hilarious excuses you read in your local Socialist rag.

    BTW, I almost choked on my dinner when you mentioned Edward Said. Now I am nearly certain that you have no fucking idea what you’re talking about. You’ve never actually read the Qur’an or any of Sahih Al-Bukhari’s hadiths, have you?

  58. #58 MB
    March 30, 2008

    I thought genocide wasn’t a word until WWII – you should be able to quote the Quran on that if it’s true…

    But don’t the Bible and Quran both have plenty of excuses for violence, war, the subjugation of women, slavery – you name it!

    Didn’t waterboarding come from the Spanish Inquisition (what a thrill!)…

  59. #59 Sam K.
    March 30, 2008

    p.s. English is not my first language. I apologize for any spelling or grammatical errors I may have made.

  60. #60 pastormaker
    March 30, 2008

    I don’t really understand. Pamela Oshry over at < ahref="http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/">Atlas Shrugs is an ideological twin of Geert Wilders, and she’s been posting stuff like this about Muslims for years, but PZ never links to her. Why not?

  61. #61 Anony Mice
    March 30, 2008

    @ Nullfidian. Thank you for your comments.

    So many people in their anger and fear over islamic terrorism have allowed themselves to co-opt xenophobic, racist and insulting language. I am a black, british, atheist, feminist with a muslim father and christian mother. It offends me to see people associate muslim culture solely with terrorism.

    Muslim culture is not a monolith, there are different schools of thought, there is poetry, there is architecture, there is cinema, there is literature, there are muslim blogs (look up Iran and sex in the city – there are muslim feminist postings out there) – there is a whole world out there with different languages and cultural varieties and you ascribe one sole intent to them ALL? To have predominantly white middle class people want to change and erase their culture and make it what? A copy of their own? And you wonder why people call some criticisms if islam racist? Is white Anglo-Saxon culture superior (because that’s what I hear when I hear people bleating about how multiculturalism took away their specialness)?

    There are caucasian muslims, black muslims, asian muslims, arabic muslims, persian muslim and many others whose voices you have not heard, or if you have, you choose not to hear. Even so, it is the height of arrogance for you to assume that you know best for another people and how to change their culture, doncha think?

  62. #62 Dutchgirl
    March 30, 2008

    PZ,

    Did you post this so we could “point an laugh” like you encourage us to do at Expelled?

    This is as much an explanation of Islam as Expelled is of biology.

  63. #63 Sam K.
    March 30, 2008

    Anony Mice-

    Yes, certain cultures are DEFINITELY superior to others. It is hardly racist to point out this painfully obvious and easily demonstrable fact.

    Islamic culture was certainly superior to Western Christian culture throughout the Dark Ages in Europe, and historians in Europe generally have no problem admitting this in their publications. Religion is a lifestyle choice, NOT a genetically determined trait like skin or hair color.

  64. #64 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    Nullifidian, a different kind of shitbag than Geert, (apparently arguing for the sake of arguing or simply trolling) was doing ok with #4 and maybe even with #7.

    Or arguing for the sake of promoting some sort of understanding above and beyond the completely fucking superficial.

    Dumbfuck.

    Defending religion because not every adherent is completely batshit crazy is kind of like, well, getting one’s information on Reconstruction from D.W. Griffiths – only worse.

    Well, you haven’t demonstrated that it’s worse than a completely racist jeremiad (I’m not sure you even caught the reference), but it’s moot in any case because that’s not what I’ve been arguing.

    Yes, we live in a racist, xenophobic country and wingnuts attack Islam (and any non-Christians) for their own agendas. That makes the religion ok?

    No.

    While most Muslims, like most “fill in the blank,” don’t believe in taking innocent lives, the Saudis that flew the jets into the buildings DID believe in heaven

    They also wore Western suits, but I don’t consider that a reason to condemn someone’s sartorial choices.

    Why doesn’t Null explain why he thinks any religions are true/useful/necessary/good?

    Well, it’s so simple that I am embarrassed for you to have to explain it: humanism. Real, authentic humanism. Religion is a human activity. It therefore, represents all aspects of humanity. Some of it is dangerous, self-destructive, and tribalistic because humans are sometimes dangerous, self-destructive, and tribalistic. However, it also represents, at its best, striving for connectedness, society, reconciliation, forgiveness, yearning for answers, warmth, egalitarianism, and all the characteristics one associates with what’s best about humanity.

    We shouldn’t be blinded by the good to ignore the bad, and that’s certainly not what I’m arguing here. I am merely arguing what I see as a converse blindness: a too hasty willingness to condemn wholesale where nuance is what’s required. The responses I’m seeing evince tribalism, pettiness, ignorance, hierarchism, and xenophobia. In short, they represent what’s worst about humanity in the name of upholding what’s best.

    You may take my Donne, Blake, Milton, Attar, Lao Tzu, etc. when you pry them from my cold, dead hands.

  65. #65 Dave
    March 30, 2008

    Glen D (#1):

    Incredible. My favourite comment is #8 by Deep Design:

    I just hope ID is right. Won’t we look silly.

    One is always right when one assumes what one sets out to prove. I daresay that they will never appear silly; at least not in their own eyes.

  66. #66 Anne Nonymous
    March 30, 2008

    Seems to me like all this back and forth about how much does Islam suck and are these various hideous things truly Islamic or not and did Muhammad wear boxers or briefs and who’s got the greater right to push the other guys into the sea, the Israelis or the Palestinians, is kind of a diversion from the fundamental points here, which ought, IMO, to be:

    1) Fuck terrorism.
    2) Fuck insane fundamentalist religion.
    3) Fuck all religion.
    4) Fuck Geert Wilders.

  67. #67 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    There you go. The prophet refuses to condemn clitoridectomy, either!

    First off, it’s not even clear that the verse is about cliterodectomy, secondly the ‘verse’ doesn’t exist in the Qur’an.

    This happens to be my first time commenting on any of PZ Myers’ posts, and I truly appreciate your politeness and self-restraint.

    Thanks. I felt the degree of politeness was a suitable response to your tone.

    Next time, Nullifidian, why don’t you judge Muslims by the holy texts they venerate, not by hilarious excuses you read in your local Socialist rag.

    My local “Socialist rag”? Would that be the right-wing San Diego Union-Tribune, which I haven’t read since high school?

    I prefer to evaluate Muslims individually by what they do. I find it leads to less judgmentalism that way.

    BTW, I almost choked on my dinner when you mentioned Edward Said. Now I am nearly certain that you have no fucking idea what you’re talking about. You’ve never actually read the Qur’an or any of Sahih Al-Bukhari’s hadiths, have you?

    I’ve read the Qur’an in the original Arabic. I have several Arabic editions, some of which I picked up while travelling in the ME and N. Africa. Of course, you don’t have to go so far as I did, since Penguin Books prints a very handsome dual-language edition. I’d almost be willing to take up a collection to send you one, if it weren’t for the fact that you’d probably as readily burn it as read it.

  68. #68 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    @ Nullfidian. Thank you for your comments.

    You’re very welcome.

    Muslim culture is not a monolith, there are different schools of thought, there is poetry, there is architecture, there is cinema, there is literature, there are muslim blogs (look up Iran and sex in the city – there are muslim feminist postings out there) – there is a whole world out there with different languages and cultural varieties and you ascribe one sole intent to them ALL? To have predominantly white middle class people want to change and erase their culture and make it what? A copy of their own? And you wonder why people call some criticisms if islam racist? Is white Anglo-Saxon culture superior (because that’s what I hear when I hear people bleating about how multiculturalism took away their specialness)?

    Brava!

    It’s unfortunate that your thoughtful question prompted such a thoughtless response.

  69. #69 Dave
    March 30, 2008

    The meta-narrative of this movie was: extremist ideologies are dangerous, dishonest, divisive, disruptive, and – at the risk of killing the alliteration – retarded. It doesn’t matter whether it is extreme right-wing ideology or radical Islam; they both lie and misrepresent the demons opposing them, and foment fear and hatred for the ‘other’.

  70. #70 Sam K.
    March 30, 2008

    I should not have used the word “verse”, since the word hadith alone would have sufficed, but that is irrelevant to our discussion.

    Generalizations are probably our most useful tool for making sense of the chaotic world around us. There are plenty of Americans (such as Dr. PZ Myers) who are incredibly intelligent and well-educated, but I don’t think it would be a too much of a stretch to decry the majority of the American populace as ignorant or scientifically illiterate.

    I see no reason why we cannot apply these same standards to Muslims, Christians, Cantonese farmers, or any other demographic group throughout history. Historians use the same tools to describe the culture of numerous civilizations throughout history. Of course, it is wrong to discriminate against people on the basis of their race or color, but as I mentioned earlier, Islam is a lifestyle choice, and not a phenotypic trait predetermined through an accident of birth.

    (BTW, I try not to discriminate against people on the basis of their religion as well, but I would never make friends with a Reverend Fred Phelps or a Sayyid Qutb, and I’m sure you wouldn’t, either.)

    Tell me, Nullifidian, since you claim to have read the Qur’an in Arabic, what do you make of the numerous contradictions between violent and peaceful passages throughout the Qur’an? What is the significance of the fact that the violent verses were revealed after the prophet’s hijra in 622 ACE, as is claimed by most Muslim scholars?

  71. #71 Sam K.
    March 30, 2008

    What else would the hadith have referred to? Gentle masturbation with a pair of metal forceps? Female circumcision inevitably involves genital mutilation of some sort, and it nearly always accompanies the partial or total excision of the clitoris.

  72. #72 TW
    March 30, 2008

    Islam isn’t so much a religion as it is a political ideology that is masquerading as a religion. An ideology specifically designed to confer upon its leaders the divine right to rule. An ideology, like communism, that deserves to be confronted, defeated and thrown back onto the trash heap of history’s bad ideas.

  73. #73 Justin
    March 30, 2008

    Fitna is a hate-mongering, disgusting, and bad movie. It doesn’t really deserve to be watched by anyone.

    But anyone who tries to silence speech with violence ought to have their efforts nullified. It is for this reason alone that I would love to see links to this horrid thing on every blog in the world.

  74. #74 MB
    March 30, 2008

    Actually, dumbfuck Null, you can have your Donne, Blake, Milton, Attar, Lao Tzu and throw in Marx, Hitler and Coulter – I wouldn’t take any speech (or book) away from any adult – Null or Geert. Activities, on the other hand…

    I actually agree with Sue in #44 (except the part about Null), who’s apparently already left the building…

    So Null defines humanism by religion? Real, authentic humanism cannot be secular? Actually, by definition the “real” humanism would be secular because religion is by definition pretend. Unless Null is going to show us that one of these religions has proven that they are not make believe and everyone else (including the atheists posting here) is wrong in their beliefs and non-beliefs?

    Null, I’m being snarky with you not only because you’re a dumbfuck (see – from shitbag to dumbfuck) but because my world view is that religion has proved to do much more harm than good. Yes, I’m ignoring the racist xenophobe dumbfucks and calling you a dumbfuck. Defend religion somewhere else.

    Now, if all you had done was call Rav a dumb, xenophobic, racist piece of shit I wouldn’t have typed a word. But you told Jack you need more evidence – and I’m pretty sure Jack would have said the same thing about Christianity. If not, well then, Jack, you’re a xenophobic, racist piece of shit.

    And maybe I am a dumbfuck (but nowhere near as big a dumbfuck as you), but your reference to clothing simply tells me you understand that you were wrong about them not believing in heaven. And that you have no evidence that MOST Muslims believe anything, but you assume, as I do, that most people on the planet don’t want to harm innocent people.

    So, double dumbfuck to you! You’re really smart, I can tell, part of that Ben Stein intelligentsia, aren’t you!?! Snark! And was Dutch Girl right? Point and laugh?

  75. #75 Wazza
    March 30, 2008

    This video is obviously propaganda, but our culture isn’t one that accepts propaganda blindly. Look at the discussion above. That, and not any moral or technical superiority, is why our culture works best: We discuss things, we allow all viewpoints so long as they remain merely viewpoints and not actions, and we try our very best to base everything on actual evidence.

    And that, and not any kind of terrorism or extremism, is why Islam and Christianity will ultimately fail.

  76. #76 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    Tell me, Nullifidian, since you claim to have read the Qur’an in Arabic, what do you make of the numerous contradictions between violent and peaceful passages throughout the Qur’an? What is the significance of the fact that the violent verses were revealed after the prophet’s hijra in 622 ACE, as is claimed by most Muslim scholars?

    I make of it what scholars make of it, namely that it is contextualized in the struggle between the Quraysh and Muhammad for dominance. The first Hijra technically took place in 615 CE, when Muhammad counselled a group to escape persecution in Makkah and travel to the Kingdom of Axum. So the increasing martial air of many of the verses reflects this growing conflict and is limited to that conflict.

    It is, however, false to imply that all verses for toleration are only in the Makkah rather than the Madinah verses. There are numerous verses supporting general toleration from both periods of Muhammad’s life, although they do take a hard line on the Quraysh who were persecuting adherents of the new faith.

    And, lastly, the Hadith is inauthentic, so it really doesn’t matter in the least what it’s referring to.

  77. #77 pcarini
    March 30, 2008

    nullifidian:

    While most Muslims, like most “fill in the blank,” don’t believe in taking innocent lives, the Saudis that flew the jets into the buildings DID believe in heaven

    They also wore Western suits, but I don’t consider that a reason to condemn someone’s sartorial choices.

    Are you truly suggesting that their faith was as immaterial to their decisions as their choice of clothing was? Or that perhaps that all aspects of a person’s life (including their clothing decisions that day) are equally responsible for actions as extreme as the WTC attacks? It’s rare I see something so blatheringly, mind-numbingly stupid written anywhere.. I mean, the bathroom stalls at the local fast-food joint don’t have anything quite this dumb scrawled on them.

    Say what you want about whether they were making a perversion of Islam or not (that’s really an argument for Muslims to have, not us), but it’s absurd to even hint that their religious beliefs weren’t THE primary motivation.

  78. #78 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    Actually, dumbfuck Null, you can have your Donne, Blake, Milton, Attar, Lao Tzu and throw in Marx, Hitler and Coulter – I wouldn’t take any speech (or book) away from any adult – Null or Geert. Activities, on the other hand…

    I actually agree with Sue in #44 (except the part about Null), who’s apparently already left the building…

    So Null defines humanism by religion? Real, authentic humanism cannot be secular? Actually, by definition the “real” humanism would be secular because religion is by definition pretend. Unless Null is going to show us that one of these religions has proven that they are not make believe and everyone else (including the atheists posting here) is wrong in their beliefs and non-beliefs?

    Null, I’m being snarky with you not only because you’re a dumbfuck (see – from shitbag to dumbfuck) but because my world view is that religion has proved to do much more harm than good. Yes, I’m ignoring the racist xenophobe dumbfucks and calling you a dumbfuck. Defend religion somewhere else.

    Now, if all you had done was call Rav a dumb, xenophobic, racist piece of shit I wouldn’t have typed a word. But you told Jack you need more evidence – and I’m pretty sure Jack would have said the same thing about Christianity. If not, well then, Jack, you’re a xenophobic, racist piece of shit.

    And maybe I am a dumbfuck (but nowhere near as big a dumbfuck as you), but your reference to clothing simply tells me you understand that you were wrong about them not believing in heaven. And that you have no evidence that MOST Muslims believe anything, but you assume, as I do, that most people on the planet don’t want to harm innocent people.

    So, double dumbfuck to you! You’re really smart, I can tell, part of that Ben Stein intelligentsia, aren’t you!?! Snark! And was Dutch Girl right? Point and laugh?

    This says it all, doesn’t it? 316 words to say absolutely nothing coherent and sensible. I mean it. There is literally less than nothing for me to deal with in this post. It’s like reading TimeCube.com.

  79. #79 Russell
    March 30, 2008

    Pandering is pandering PZ- this way lies madness as well as Oscar nominations, for some folks would lap up a rap video of the last priest knitting the bowels of the last king into a hair shirt.

    Why is this stunt better than a collage of Tamil Tigers gnawing raw Buddhist liver with excerpts from the Mahabharata and the smiting and firstborn slaying bits of the Good Book ,set to a syncopated version of Handel’s Messiah played on a Dutch organ, with the _vox humana_ stops pulled flat out ?

  80. #80 Gary SF
    March 30, 2008

    There is nothing wrong with the video. But there is something wrong if the producers don’t endeavor to take on other religions, starting with Christianity and its foundational document, the Bible.

    Religion played a big part in Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. We will have to live with that legacy for at least 50 years.

    I suppose that those who defend Islam and these violent passages from the Quran are similar to those Christians who pick and choose from the Bible. Note to both groups – your foundational documents need to be updated. Otherwise, people of ‘faith’ can continue to kill each other, because their books agree and their leaders say it is OK.

  81. #81 Jim Harrison
    March 30, 2008

    Muslims have argued for centuries over the interpretation of the Koran and especially of some of the more aggressive passages such as the famous “sword verse” mentioned in the Wilders movie as contrasted with the equally famous verse “there is no compulsion in religion.” Whether jihad primarily referred to a literal war against the infidels or a moral struggle against human weakness is also a perennial debate in the Islamic world. The spiritual understanding of holy war is not something recently cooked up to mollify Western critics; it has been competing with the military version since the beginning of the religion. Again, there is certainly hostility towards the Jews in parts of the Koran; but the Jews are also clearly identified as people of the book who must be respected. You don’t have to be a great scholar of comparative religion or know how to read Koranic Arabic to understand that Islam is a very complex phenomenon. Reading three or four serious secondary sources should suffice. Unfortunately, scientists are often as ignorant of history as non-scientists are of biology or physics.

    More generally, all religions are riven with internal contradictions. Despite recurring themes, metaphors, and images, they simply don’t have integral, unchanging essences. You’d think that folks familiar with post-Darwinian biology would be little more suspicious of the essentialism one encounters in these counter-jihads.

  82. #82 flame821
    March 30, 2008

    Russell @ 76

    I honestly think PZ posted this as a way to get a discussion started, not as pandering to one side or another.

    I believe Wazza @ 72 has the right idea; we need to be able to freely discuss ideas and exchange information, it is how we learn.

  83. #83 pcarini
    March 30, 2008

    [nullifidian]And, lastly, the Hadith is inauthentic, so it really doesn’t matter in the least what it’s referring to.

    I’ll let “Anony Mice” answer that, from a post that met your approval:

    Muslim culture is not a monolith, there are different schools of thought, … there is a whole world out there with different languages and cultural varieties and you ascribe one sole intent to them ALL?

  84. #84 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    Are you truly suggesting that their faith was as immaterial to their decisions as their choice of clothing was?

    No, I’m saying that if two people share a single commonality, I’m not going to demonize both simply because one of them does something one would consider bad. I’m not going to demonize all people who believe in an afterlife simply because it’s the case that these terrorists allegedly believed in an afterlife (I’m not sure if they did or not, since they’re beyond my ability to quiz them).

    I think that’s easy enough for even an overcooked head of cabbage to get.

    It’s rare I see something so blatheringly, mind-numbingly stupid written anywhere..

    Good. When you encounter it again, perhaps you’ll consider the possibility that the stupidity is in your reading.

    I mean, the bathroom stalls at the local fast-food joint don’t have anything quite this dumb scrawled on them.

    You read them often to be able to evaluate something like that? What are you, the janitor?

    Say what you want about whether they were making a perversion of Islam or not (that’s really an argument for Muslims to have, not us), but it’s absurd to even hint that their religious beliefs weren’t THE primary motivation.

    Really? That does rather seem to conveniently let the U.S. off the hook, wouldn’t you say? Oh, it’s just their way crazy beliefs, not any aspect of Western foreign policy (e.g. the United State’s unreflective, but reflexive, support for Israel, even when it was levelling Beirut, an event to which bin Laden has referred).

    Telling ourselves the myth that 19 people were willing to give up their lives for a deranged religious vision is not going to halt terrorism, which is after all a tactic and not a sacrament. Disaffectedness and anger are far more powerful motivators for terrorism than a vision of paradise, however tempting, and until Americans realize that then they’re just going to fail to address the root cause again and again.

  85. #85 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    [nullifidian]And, lastly, the Hadith is inauthentic, so it really doesn’t matter in the least what it’s referring to.

    I’ll let “Anony Mice” answer that, from a post that met your approval:

    Muslim culture is not a monolith, there are different schools of thought, … there is a whole world out there with different languages and cultural varieties and you ascribe one sole intent to them ALL?

    Muslim culture is not a monolith, but it’s not going to make an inauthentic hadith magically become authentic. There is a serious, lengthy, and scholarly process to go through for authenticating ahadith, and none of the ahadith assumed to refer to female genital circumcision have been confirmed.

    What is it with you people? Are you so married to your misconceptions that you cannot let even the smallest part of it go?

  86. #86 Andrew
    March 30, 2008

    Thanks for posting this P.Z. I do appreciate it as I had not seen it before now. I hope though that it was in the interests of free speech rather than supporting Wilder’s right-wing racist arsehole propaganda.

    Sure – these extremists need to be dealt with, but Islam is not the only source. Once that is done (and I’m not sure it can ever be completed) then we can get back to holding rational discussions with those who may not yet realise they believe in a fairy-tale.

  87. #87 MB
    March 30, 2008

    Ah, but dumbfuck, you not only read the words AND responded, but pasted them, and someone will probably inadvertently read them again.

    You take yourself way too seriously – perhaps you’ll get lucky and won’t when you get older. Snark!

    But you’re REALLY REALLY smart!

    And, lastly, Null is inauthentic, so it really doesn’t matter in the least what it’s referring to.

  88. #88 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    So the right way to show that I’m not taking myself too seriously is to ignore what you say?

    I’m willing to try that.

    *plonk!*

    Gotta love the Firefox killfile.

  89. #89 Wazza
    March 30, 2008

    Null@75+

    you’re not making rational arguments anymore. 75 in particular seemed to me to be quoting someone who was saying something you knew you’d look kind of stupid dealing with, so you dealt with it ad hominem and by saying the whole thing was nonsense. You’re allowed any view you like, so long as you can actually argue it.

    “Are you so married to your misconceptions that you cannot let even the smallest part of it go?”

    Yeah, null, are you?

  90. #90 Engineer-Poet
    March 30, 2008

    Sue Laris: I’m sorry this stuff offends you, but this isn’t something you can just cram down the hole of history while there are people demanding that the whole world return to the 7th century AD and convert, submit or die.

    Quoth Nullifidian:

    The extremists are not being “allowed” to speak for the community at large; it’s just the only voice that the Western media wants to hear.

    It might be easier to hear them if the community did things to distance itself from the extremists:
    — If their rallies against bombings and murders were larger than the extremists’ in praise of them.
    — If their pickets outside of fiqh councils and other instruments of theocracy were as disruptive as hecklers who prevent those whom the left dislikes from speaking.
    — If they had networks of safe houses for converts, women hiding from families trying to kill them for “honor”, and other elements of Islamic barbarism.
    But there are no Islamic extremists, didn’t you know?  “There is no radical Islam. There is no moderate Islam. There is only Islam.”  This is often enforced by killing those deemed heretics (like Salman Rushdi and Ayaan Hirsi Ali).

    Oh the Sunni hate the Shi’a
    And the Shi’a hate the Sunni
    And the Sufi hate the Alawites
    And everybody hates the Druse!

    I’ve had conversations with people who were staunch bigots against Islam which went along the lines of demanding why none of “these people” ever criticized terrorism. But they have, and frequently, and when I linked to the statements and juridical rulings, they dismissed them because they didn’t specifically address 11/09!

    You have to be careful about your interpretations, because there’s a Humpty Dumpty use of words going on there.  “Justice” doesn’t mean equality under the law, it means Shari’a.  “Innocent life” excludes all non-Muslims, because they are guilty of rejecting Allah.

    A good-faith rejection of terrorism has no reason to exclude specifics like 9/11, 7/7, Madrid or even the Sbarro bombing in Israel.  If you don’t see specifics, ask for them.  If you get equivocation or rejection, you’ve been had.

    As a matter of fact, you have indeed been had (or you’re practicing taqiyya):

    In fact, most Muslims believe, based on the Qur’an, that taking any innocent life is wrong and weighs as heavily as if they had taken the life of the whole world (5:32).

    If you examine Sura 5, you’ll see that Muhammad is addressing “the Children of Israel” (and “the people of the book” in general), not his own.  Start at 5:19 and follow along in that all-so-often-ignored “context”.  Pay extra attention to 5:33:

    The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter;

    For those who might wonder, that group “waging war” includes us atheists.

    The problem is that hardly anybody in the West who is non-Muslim speaks Arabic, and with this comes a necessary level of ignorance.

    This ignorance lets the terrorists and their enablers and supporters say one thing to the West and another thing in Arabic.  MEMRI tries to do something about this.

    MEMRI is fascinating.  You have brave folk arguing for secularism in Muslim countries, and while Westerners like the Archbishop of Canterbury argue for acceptance of Shari’a in Britain, Muhammad Al-Houni says that it would reverse the Enlightenment.  This, BTW, refutes your claims about bias in the media.  These people exist, and they do speak.  They are also in more danger than accused witches in Salem in the last 300 years.

    I’m all for a ban on immigration of anyone adhering to a faith or philosophy calling for overthrow of the Constitution – regardless of the specifics.  The only problem with calling for blanket deportation of all of them is that the Christians have nowhere else to go.

    Let us further point out that genital mutilations are a cultural commonality, not a religious commonality, and are practiced largely in North Africa, not in the Middle East or in the Asian Muslim states (Indonesia currently has the largest absolute number of Muslims of any one country).

    You say this just weeks after The New York Times Magazine (no bastion of anti-Islamism) showed quite the opposite?

    Wittingly or not, Nullifidian is little more than an apologist for Islam (and this looks more and more like taqiyya as it goes on).  His use of revisionist history (there are about 25% Arabs citizens in Israel, but the only Jews in the West Bank live in armed enclaves) and outright falsehoods is sufficient to impeach him.

  91. #91 Engineer-Poet
    March 30, 2008

    Reference-filled response showing Nullifidian’s revisionist history and selective quotations was held for moderation because of links.

    How the hell do we exercise intellectual rigor around here if our cites are effectively censored?

  92. #92 mothra
    March 30, 2008

    About your false dichotomy Nullifidion- the argument that I responded to was couched in a complex sentence and so my response, tracing your argument to its bifurcation point was also a complex sentence. Your more recent post arguing for religions as they are part of the human experiance is much the same argument expressed by Winston Smith in his book: The World Religions where he terms religion the worlds ‘wisdom traditions.’ This argument which has some validity, is still untennible as religion is no more a source of wisdom than it is a source or morals. Societies have decided on moral codes independent of religons. Folkloric ‘wisdom’ like morals can and has been coopted by religion for the purpose of legitimization of said religions. I am not erecting a strawman here, I am trying to put your argument in the best possible light because defending religion because it is a uniquely human activity is not good enough. Also, give me an example of a religion ‘searching for answers.’ What are the questions? How can we separate answers of higher explanitory power from those of little or no explanitory power- to do this, we must drop the cloak of religiosity and take up the mantle of science.

    Religion is a ‘past’ human activity. It existed before science. To argue for any religion is to argue for a type of irrationality that is innimical to the advancement of cival law and rights.

    I hope you noticed I am painting religions equally- Islam is no better than Christianity, which is no better than Judism, Hinduism or Buddhism, etc (60000+ times) each with a streak of irrationality at their respectived cores. The closest I can come for an argument in favor of religions is the Aldous Huxley reasoning: keep them around because possibly they might, as they did in the neolithic past, have some survival value. My second best argument is that irrational views might, on occasion, result in unique thoughts and creativity- but religion is no better than fantasy in this regard.

  93. #93 Engineer-Poet
    March 30, 2008

    Here’s the comment with the links removed (you can follow them when the original finally gets posted):

    Sue Laris: I’m sorry this stuff offends you, but this isn’t something you can just cram down the hole of history while there are people demanding that the whole world return to the 7th century AD and convert, submit or die.

    Quoth Nullifidian:

    The extremists are not being “allowed” to speak for the community at large; it’s just the only voice that the Western media wants to hear.

    It might be easier to hear them if the community did things to distance itself from the extremists:
    — If their rallies against bombings and murders were larger than the extremists’ in praise of them.
    — If their pickets outside of fiqh councils and other instruments of theocracy were as disruptive as hecklers who prevent those whom the left dislikes from speaking.
    — If they had networks of safe houses for converts, women hiding from families trying to kill them for “honor”, and other elements of Islamic barbarism.
    But there are no Islamic extremists, didn’t you know?  “There is no radical Islam. There is no moderate Islam. There is only Islam.”  This is often enforced by killing those deemed heretics (like Salman Rushdi and Ayaan Hirsi Ali).

    Oh the Sunni hate the Shi’a
    And the Shi’a hate the Sunni
    And the Sufi hate the Alawites
    And everybody hates the Druse!

    I’ve had conversations with people who were staunch bigots against Islam which went along the lines of demanding why none of “these people” ever criticized terrorism. But they have, and frequently, and when I linked to the statements and juridical rulings, they dismissed them because they didn’t specifically address 11/09!

    You have to be careful about your interpretations, because there’s a Humpty Dumpty use of words going on there.  “Justice” doesn’t mean equality under the law, it means Shari’a.  “Innocent life” excludes all non-Muslims, because they are guilty of rejecting Allah.

    A good-faith rejection of terrorism has no reason to exclude specifics like 9/11, 7/7, Madrid or even the Sbarro bombing in Israel.  If you don’t see specifics, ask for them.  If you get equivocation or rejection, you’ve been had.

    As a matter of fact, you have indeed been had (or you’re practicing taqiyya):

    In fact, most Muslims believe, based on the Qur’an, that taking any innocent life is wrong and weighs as heavily as if they had taken the life of the whole world (5:32).

    If you examine Sura 5, you’ll see that Muhammad is addressing “the Children of Israel” (and “the people of the book” in general), not his own.  Start at 5:19 and follow along in that all-so-often-ignored “context”.  Pay extra attention to 5:33:

    The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter;

    For those who might wonder, that group “waging war” includes us atheists.

    The problem is that hardly anybody in the West who is non-Muslim speaks Arabic, and with this comes a necessary level of ignorance.

    This ignorance lets the terrorists and their enablers and supporters say one thing to the West and another thing in Arabic.  MEMRI tries to do something about this.

    MEMRI is fascinating.  You have brave folk rguing for secularism in Muslim countries, and while Westerners like the Archbishop of Canterbury argue for acceptance of Shari’a in Britain, Muhammad Al-Houni says that it would reverse the Enlightenment.  This, BTW, refutes your claims about bias in the media.  These people exist, and they do speak.  They are also in more danger than accused witches in Salem any time in the last 300 years.

    I’m all for a ban on immigration of anyone adhering to a faith or philosophy calling for overthrow of the Constitution – regardless of the specifics.  The only problem with calling for blanket deportation of all of them is that the Christians have nowhere else to go.

    Let us further point out that genital mutilations are a cultural commonality, not a religious commonality, and are practiced largely in North Africa, not in the Middle East or in the Asian Muslim states (Indonesia currently has the largest absolute number of Muslims of any one country).

    You say this just weeks after The New York Times Magazine (no bastion of anti-Islamism) showed quite the opposite?

    Wittingly or not, Nullifidian is little more than an apologist for Islam (and this looks more and more like taqiyya as it goes on).  His use of revisionist history (there are about 25% Arabs citizens in Israel, but the only Jews in the West Bank live in armed enclaves) and outright falsehoods is sufficient to impeach him.

  94. #94 Jim
    March 30, 2008

    I am uncomfortable watching this knowing many Americans are in the same league. Groups of barbarians who want to kill each other. Any group that gives power, especially absolute, to idiots is beyond me. PZ: Thank you for posting this.

  95. #95 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    you’re not making rational arguments anymore. 75 in particular seemed to me to be quoting someone who was saying something you knew you’d look kind of stupid dealing with, so you dealt with it ad hominem and by saying the whole thing was nonsense

    If you think that’s the case, then feel free to recast in some way that it makes some syntactic sense.

  96. #96 bad Jim
    March 30, 2008

    Nullifidian, accept my heartfelt thanks for the yeoman work you’re doing in combating the religious bigotry that ought not to exist – at all – in a godless comment thread. We seem to have no shortage of it, though. Tant pis.

    I think you deserve a Molly for your stalwart defense of tolerance and open-minded sanity.

  97. #97 wazza
    March 30, 2008

    Null, you did it again. Only this time you did it to criticism of the last time you did it.

    Are we stuck in a loop here?

    I’m just trying to point out an unnecessary weakness in your argument, so that you can sort it out and we can get down to the real weaknesses in your argument.

  98. #98 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    It might be easier to hear them if the community did things to distance itself from the extremists:
    — If their rallies against bombings and murders were larger than the extremists’ in praise of them.
    — If their pickets outside of fiqh councils and other instruments of theocracy were as disruptive as hecklers who prevent those whom the left dislikes from speaking.
    — If they had networks of safe houses for converts, women hiding from families trying to kill them for “honor”, and other elements of Islamic barbarism.
    But there are no Islamic extremists, didn’t you know? “There is no radical Islam. There is no moderate Islam. There is only Islam.” This is often enforced by killing those deemed heretics (like Salman Rushdi and Ayaan Hirsi Ali).

    Both of whom seem to be…well…alive.

    You have to be careful about your interpretations, because there’s a Humpty Dumpty use of words going on there. “Justice” doesn’t mean equality under the law, it means Shari’a. “Innocent life” excludes all non-Muslims, because they are guilty of rejecting Allah.

    And of course you’re the best person to judge this, because you’ve read it on MEMRI.

    A good-faith rejection of terrorism has no reason to exclude specifics like 9/11, 7/7, Madrid or even the Sbarro bombing in Israel. If you don’t see specifics, ask for them. If you get equivocation or rejection, you’ve been had.

    Or you’ve had someone who is sick of the will-you-condemn-athon (for a definition of the term, see the Decentpedia).

    As a matter of fact, you have indeed been had (or you’re practicing taqiyya):

    A term which you obviously do not understand.

    If you examine Sura 5, you’ll see that Muhammad is addressing “the Children of Israel” (and “the people of the book” in general), not his own. Start at 5:19 and follow along in that all-so-often-ignored “context”. Pay extra attention to 5:33:

    For those who might wonder, that group “waging war” includes us atheists.

    No it doesn’t. It refers to the Quraysh.

    This ignorance lets the terrorists and their enablers and supporters say one thing to the West and another thing in Arabic. MEMRI tries to do something about this.

    No, MEMRI exploits this so that they can manufacture fabricated quotes.

    MEMRI is fascinating.

    Yes, it’s astonishing that an organization headed by a former Israeli spook has managed to achieve any sort of credibility at all.

    Remember when they tried to influence the elections by claiming that bin Laden vowed to attack states that voted for Bush, but not those which voted for Kerry?

    See: “MEMRI’s Disgusting Partisanship”

    Dr. Juan Cole called them on their bullshit, and in response they tried threatening him with a SLAPP suit.

    You have brave folk rguing for secularism in Muslim countries, and while Westerners like the Archbishop of Canterbury argue for acceptance of Shari’a in Britain, Muhammad Al-Houni says that it would reverse the Enlightenment. This, BTW, refutes your claims about bias in the media. These people exist, and they do speak. They are also in more danger than accused witches in Salem any time in the last 300 years.

    I’m not saying that no people are given face time by the media, merely that the media’s choice of who is given face time is highly biased towards extremists or Islamic Stepin Fetchits.

    You say this just weeks after The New York Times Magazine (no bastion of anti-Islamism) showed quite the opposite?

    Yes, because I don’t regard the New York Times as in any way reliable or even readable. A good friend of mine is an editor there, and he thinks even less of the paper than I do.

    Wittingly or not, Nullifidian is little more than an apologist for Islam (and this looks more and more like taqiyya as it goes on).

    Oh yeah, I’m part of the Big Muslim Conspiracy comin’ to getcha! Booga booga booga!

    His use of revisionist history (there are about 25% Arabs citizens in Israel,

    I think I noted that there are Arabs in Israel in the context of their not being allowed to vote or hold Israeli citizenship.

    but the only Jews in the West Bank live in armed enclaves)

    And I referred to “armed enclaves” precisely nowhere in any of my posts.

    and outright falsehoods is sufficient to impeach him.

    What about yours? Are your outright falsehoods sufficient to impeach you? Are MEMRI’s outright falsehoods sufficient to impeach it?

  99. #99 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    Null, you did it again. Only this time you did it to criticism of the last time you did it.

    Are we stuck in a loop here?

    Tell you what. I’ll break the loop by plonking you. How does that sound?

  100. #100 Wazza
    March 30, 2008

    Also, Null, in 93 you’re basically ridiculing this guy for using information other than what you provide. That’s a really bad mistake in an open forum like this, particularly as we can’t check on your credentials. You have to actually disprove what he’s saying, not just say that he can only prove it by matching it to what you’re saying.

    Really, man, if you don’t tighten up they’re going to win this debate by default. It’s hard to take someone seriously when they don’t make any sense.

  101. #101 JMero
    March 30, 2008

    A good one, PZ.
    But wouldn’t it be nice if there was something similar about the American lunatics as well?
    Something to show the moderate ones of all religions that they have to stand up to the extremists, and not let them get away with it.
    That religious cults of all kinds are taxed and have to be fully accountable.
    That they have to be open for scrutiny by all.
    That they will be prosecuted for inciting hatred, violence, and any other anti-social behaviour.
    That they will be held accountable if their practices are abusive or neglectful towards those that cannot defend themselves or speak for themselves.
    That threats or/and scare tactics to make members of the conform are criminal acts.

    If half-decent religious leaders and followers start to understand that their window to society as a whole is what the extremists present, because the moderate members haven’t the guts and integritiy to stand up to the lunatics.

    This of course is even more an appeal to the American public, because under the leadership of gwb and morons, the US is , as shown in Iraq and by Israel, a bigger threat to reason and peaceful co-existence than even Islam.

    So maybe Michael Moore has one more job to do?

  102. #102 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    Nullifidian, accept my heartfelt thanks for the yeoman work you’re doing in combating the religious bigotry that ought not to exist – at all – in a godless comment thread. We seem to have no shortage of it, though. Tant pis.

    I think you deserve a Molly for your stalwart defense of tolerance and open-minded sanity.

    Thank you for your kind words, bad Jim. It’s disturbing that I can be having the same conversations I had four years ago, three years ago, two years ago, and so on. I just found a blog response of mine from August 2006 which could be cut-and-pasted in here without anybody noticing.

  103. #103 Wazza
    March 30, 2008

    Great idea JMero… but I’ve been amongst these people. If you showed even moderate christians the statements of, say, our dear friend Oral (that name always cracks me up – I guess it speaks to my inner child), they won’t see anything wrong with it. It makes more sense to them than secular pronouncements of tolerance, because it acknowledges true authority rather than falling back on fallible human logic. It might go too far, but it goes too far in the right direction.

  104. #104 joe
    March 30, 2008

    The Residents in Wormwood pretty well summed it up. Take a listen.

  105. #105 pcarini
    March 30, 2008

    null:

    Muslim culture is not a monolith, but it’s not going to make an inauthentic hadith magically become authentic.

    My bad there, null, I misunderstood your “And, lastly, the Hadith is inauthentic” to mean that the entirety of the hadith were inauthentic, not those specific writings you had issue with. That seemed a bit unusual, even to my very poor understanding of the religion. Doesn’t the same reasoning still apply, however? I imagine interpretation and belief in the legitimacy of certain writings would vary among different sects..

    null, in re: my assertion that 9/11 attacks were religiously motivated:

    Really? That does rather seem to conveniently let the U.S. off the hook, wouldn’t you say? Oh, it’s just their way crazy beliefs, not any aspect of Western foreign policy (e.g. the United State’s unreflective, but reflexive, support for Israel, even when it was levelling Beirut, an event to which bin Laden has referred).

    Since when did the U.S. need to be let off the hook for the 9/11 attacks?

    Telling ourselves the myth that 19 people were willing to give up their lives for a deranged religious vision is not going to halt terrorism, which is after all a tactic and not a sacrament. Disaffectedness and anger are far more powerful motivators for terrorism than a vision of paradise, however tempting, and until Americans realize that then they’re just going to fail to address the root cause again and again.

    1) Your right, of course, people would never give up their lives for a deranged religious vision.
    2) Yes or no, did Al Qaeda recruit in mosques?
    3) Bin Laden referenced Allah all those times in his recordings by mistake then?
    4) Shall we start calling Martyrdom Videos by a different name, say “Going to Explode Myself And Innocents for my Secular, Rational, and Totally Legitimate Disagreements With Your Government” Videos?

    While an act of terrorism isn’t of itself a religious act, I’d be willing to bet a fair amount that suicidal terrorist attacks are disproportionately carried out by people who are religious. Someone who doesn’t believe that he goes to heaven to receive his reward (and doesn’t believe that his innocent victims get theirs in hell) has much less motivation to commit suicide. A non-suicidal person who wanted to damage the U.S. as much as possible, and generate as much terror as possible, would ascribe to the “live to fight another day” mindset.

  106. #106 Brandon P.
    March 30, 2008

    When it comes to the subject of Islam, I dislike two major camps:

    * Muslim fundamentalists
    * Xenophobic Westerners who wish to demonize all Muslims by lumping them with Muslim fundamentalists

    I think that Islam, bought as the whole package, is a violent, misogynistic and intolerant religion. However, it has been my experience that most people who profess to practice any religion do not “buy the whole package” and believe every single word in their holy books, but instead pick and mix which teachings they like and which they reject. Few Jews or Christians in modern Western countries stone adulterers or go on infidel-killing rampages despite the commands in the Torah and Bible, and I have met more than one Christian who accepted evolution. Even though many Muslim countries tend to be more conservative about their religion at the moment, I am sure that the majority of Muslims engage in similar pick-and-mixing and do not behave like Muhammed or Osama bin Laden.

    So, in a nutshell, I hate Islam, but I don’t hate Muslims, and I do hate bigoted Westerners who assume all Muslims act like the fundamentalists.

  107. #107 MB
    March 30, 2008

    bad Jim, Null isn’t talking to me or Wazza any more (I can understand not talking to me, but Wazza was very polite), so I’ll ask you.

    You want to see a defense of religion here because some people here are xenophobic and racist? Null isn’t simply saying don’t be xenophobic, he’s saying don’t throw out the bad with the good as it relates to religion (unless you can explain #61 in another light when he responds to “Why doesn’t Null explain why he thinks any religions are true/useful/necessary/good?” with “Well, it’s so simple that I am embarrassed for you to have to explain it:…”

    Gee, let’s defend religion because this can be a pretty sexist blog to visit!

    Are you agreeing that those “moderate” (fill in the blanks with Christians, Muslims, Scientologists etc.) are ok, it’s just those damn extremists…?

  108. #108 pcarini
    March 30, 2008

    I hit the spam filter with this post so I’m reposting it without the offending links. Apologies in advance for the eventual duplicate post, I didn’t want to let the topic get too far ahead of me.. This will make point 1) below seem a bit strange, just imagine that several of the words are links to wiki entries on Jim Jones, Heaven’s Gate, Order of the Solar Temple, etc., etc.

    null:

    Muslim culture is not a monolith, but it’s not going to make an inauthentic hadith magically become authentic.

    My bad there, null, I misunderstood your “And, lastly, the Hadith is inauthentic” to mean that the entirety of the hadith were inauthentic, not those specific writings you had issue with. That seemed a bit unusual, even to my very poor understanding of the religion. Doesn’t the same reasoning still apply, however? I imagine interpretation and belief in the legitimacy of certain writings would vary among different sects..

    null, in re: my assertion that 9/11 attacks were religiously motivated:

    Really? That does rather seem to conveniently let the U.S. off the hook, wouldn’t you say? Oh, it’s just their way crazy beliefs, not any aspect of Western foreign policy (e.g. the United State’s unreflective, but reflexive, support for Israel, even when it was levelling Beirut, an event to which bin Laden has referred).

    Since when did the U.S. need to be let off the hook for the 9/11 attacks?

    Telling ourselves the myth that 19 people were willing to give up their lives for a deranged religious vision is not going to halt terrorism, which is after all a tactic and not a sacrament. Disaffectedness and anger are far more powerful motivators for terrorism than a vision of paradise, however tempting, and until Americans realize that then they’re just going to fail to address the root cause again and again.

    1) Of course people would never give up their lives for a deranged religious vision. [Jim Jones, etc..]
    2) Yes or no, did Al Qaeda recruit in mosques?
    3) Bin Laden referenced Allah all those times in his recordings by mistake then?
    4) Shall we start calling Martyrdom Videos by a different name, say “Going to Explode Myself And Innocents for my Secular, Rational, and Totally Legitimate Disagreements With Your Government” Videos?

    While an act of terrorism isn’t of itself a religious act, I’d be willing to bet a fair amount that suicidal terrorist attacks are disproportionately carried out by people who are religious. Someone who doesn’t believe that he goes to heaven to receive his reward (and doesn’t believe that his innocent victims get theirs in hell) has much less motivation to commit suicide. A non-suicidal person who wanted to damage the U.S. as much as possible, and generate as much terror as possible, would ascribe to the “live to fight another day” mindset.

  109. #109 James Haight
    March 30, 2008

    Yeah, I’m sorry, but that shit don’t fly. Others have made the point before, but let me just add my voice to the side who this video is a particularly vile piece of propaganda.

    The Muslim faith might be a bunch of screed, some of its believers may be utter wackjobs, countries where Shariah law rules some of the worst hellholes on the planet – all that still doesn’t excuse one from judging people and movements within Islam individually, on their own merits and flaws, instead of just slapping the “Muslim” label on everyone, and holding them collectively accountable for the deeds of a few.

    The imam of my local mosque might’ve fallen to the God delusion, he might hold some funny views on sexual morality and the role of women, but he’s far removed from this stuff – he has, so far, utterly failed to blow me up in a suicide bombing attack, genitally mutilate my girlfriend, or bathe his children in the blood of unbelievers. Instead, he sent me a Christmas card last december. His failure to be even remotely like the worst dregs of Islam displayed in the Fitna pamphlet is shared by the overwhelming majority of Muslims in my country.

    Followers of the many varieties of Islam may all be wrong, but that doesn’t mean they all support this crap, and to claim so is highly disingenious.

  110. #110 bad Jim
    March 30, 2008

    A little of Omar Khayyam, with an excellent prescription:

    Would you forget a woman, drink red wine;
    Would you remember her, then drink red wine!
    Is your heart breaking just to see her face?
    Gaze deep within this mirror of red wine.

    If thou wilt keep my head well filled with wine,
    I care not if the whole round world be thine;
    O fading kingdoms and forgotten kings,
    I know a better kingdom–drink red wine.

  111. #111 wazza
    March 30, 2008

    but, bad Jim, alcohol is against the precepts of Islam…

    Which I guess proves that they don’t follow the Qu’ran to the letter, since the famed Shiraz varietal is Persian in origin, for instance…

  112. #112 Engineer-Poet
    March 30, 2008

    Quoth Nullifidian:

    I think I noted that there are Arabs in Israel in the context of their not being allowed to vote or hold Israeli citizenship.

    And it was another one of your lies; Arabs are full voting citizens in Israel:

    Jerusalem – In the struggle for the leadership of Israel’s oldest political party, it was the non-Zionists and the pioneers who determined the outcome. The Arab and kibbutz vote in the Labor Party primary handed the chairmanship to Ehud Barak, who defeated Ami Ayalon Tuesday, 51.3% to 47.7%.

    Next thing you’ll be telling us that “Mein Kampf” isn’t a best-seller in the Arab world, or that the Mufti of Jerusalem wasn’t in cahoots with Hitler (for which there is photographic evidence).

  113. #113 Peter Lund
    March 30, 2008

    #27:

    And YES, I absolutely blame moderates (of all the Abrahamic religions) for not speaking out forcefully against the extremist in their midsts.

    That has actually been one of the very positive consequences of the cartoon crisis in DK: the sensible Muslims, who by far are the majority here, have started to organize. They speak out loud and clear and say that the insane imams do NOT speak for them.

  114. #114 bad Jim
    March 30, 2008

    Just by the way, the idea that it takes religion to make an ordinary jerk commit atrocities, no matter how many grey eminences bend their heads in agreement, is simply wrong.

    Zimbardo’s Stanford experiment and others show that nearly anyone will invent atrocities so long as their peers support them. It doesn’t take anything special. Maybe we’re more chimpanzee than bonobo.

  115. #115 j.t.delaney
    March 30, 2008

    Like so many others have already said here earlier, Geert Wilders is a racist bigot, and this has more to do with racism than anything. Having recently moved from Holland, I’m all too familiar with Geert Wilders, Rita Verdonk, the VVD, Trots op Nederland, and all the other assholes making life difficult for immigrants to earn short-term political points. This has nothing to do with some sort of high-brow art project to cast light on the plight of the defensless; it’s really all about pushing buttons of an ethnic group they don’t like. Really PZ, this wasn’t the best thing to link to.

    It’s hard for people outside of the Netherlands to understand what’s going on, or how much racial tension there is there. Wilders and his followers couldn’t care less about Muslim women and their children. Much like the segregationists in the American South in the 60’s, they will tell you with a straight face that they “just want to protect their culture”. They are actually batshit insane enough to think that they are in imminent danger of falling under the control of Dhimmitude. Right now, it’s the Moroccans that were threatening the fabric of Dutch society, but before it was the Turks, and before then it was the Surinamese, and before then it was the Indonesians. For an allegedly forward-thinking, progressive society, they really have a hard time with applied pluralism.

    Nullifidian,

    Thanks for taking the time to post what had to say. You have more patience than me.

  116. #116 Muffin
    March 30, 2008

    The fact that many religions are sickening is a reason FOR teaching about them, though, isn’t it? Just like you need to teach about nazism, stalinism, maoism and all that.

  117. #117 bad Jim
    March 30, 2008

    Yeah, the great Persian astronomer, mathematician and poet, Omar Khayyam, wasn’t exactly the most devout of Muslims. Funny how that works. (Checks glass: still not empty. Zinfandel? Okay, empty now.)

    When Spain, in 1492, sent Columbus to America and expelled the Jews, where did they go? Many of them wound up in Persia. There wasn’t a lot of tolerance at the time in the rest of Europe.

    It’s hard, in the light of history, to argue that Muslims are uniquely bad.

  118. #118 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    And it was another one of your lies; Arabs are full voting citizens in Israel:

    Whose voting rights in East Jerusalem exist at the whim of the reigning prime minister, or have you forgotten that so soon? If a prime minister can refuse to allow me to vote, then I wouldn’t say that I’m a fully enfranchised citizen.

    Next thing you’ll be telling us that “Mein Kampf” isn’t a best-seller in the Arab world, or that the Mufti of Jerusalem wasn’t in cahoots with Hitler (for which there is photographic evidence).

    This would be the one who was so unpopular that he fled the popular uprising during the waning period of the British Mandate for Germany?

    Besides, if you want to talk collaboration, Zionists collaborated with Hitler too, with the aim of establishing a Jewish homeland. It is a subject interesting only to historians, because it’s totally irrelevant to life today.

  119. #119 Ian Gould
    March 30, 2008

    “Getting one’s information on Islam from Geert Wilders is a bit like getting one’s information on Reconstruction from D.W. Griffiths.

    Not only is he a bigot, he’s a pretty stupid and doctrinaire one from everything I can see.”

    Next you’ll be saying Henry Ford’s The International Jew doesn’t deserve to be praised for its unflinching criticism of Judaism.

  120. #120 Ian Gould
    March 30, 2008

    “What else can happen when the “extremists” are the ones allowed to speak for the community at large? How do you excuse this?”

    The extremists aren’t “allowed” to speak for the community – they’re the only ones the western media pays any attention to.

    The frequent statements by mainstream Muslim leaders condemning them are ignored.

  121. #121 Richard Harris
    March 30, 2008

    Why is classical music always used to accompany horror scenes in movies? It ain’t fair.

  122. #122 MB
    March 30, 2008

    Let’s see, replace Muslim in #114 with science and you could have a quote from Nesbit about Dawkins and Myers.

  123. #123 wazza
    March 30, 2008

    @MB:With the difference, of course, that Dawkins and Myers hardly ever advocate suicide bombing their enemies. Not much at all, really. I mean, you’d hardly notice it.

    :P

  124. #124 Ian Gould
    March 30, 2008

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    « Point and laugh | Main
    I generally favor the idea of teaching comparative religion…

    Category: Religion
    Posted on: March 29, 2008 10:41 PM, by PZ Myers

    …but there is a good argument against it: many religions are sickening.

    Send this entry to: del.icio.us icon StumbleUpon Toolbar Slashdot Digg icon Reddit icon Newsvine icon Searchles icon

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    Comments
    #1

    Just for interest’s sake, here’s UD’s screed trying to make make evolutionists into the jihadists.

    By the way, has it ever occurred to the framers that IDists would be nowhere without being offensive and dishonest? We need to be offensive, and have the tremendous fortune of being able to be honest.

    Glen D

    Posted by: Glen Davidson | March 29, 2008 10:59 PM
    #2

    And just to clarify, the link in my post above is in regard to the “Fitna” video.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

    Posted by: Glen Davidson | March 29, 2008 11:01 PM
    #3

    dear pz thank you for the courage to post that!

    Posted by: steve | March 29, 2008 11:10 PM
    #4

    Getting one’s information on Islam from Geert Wilders is a bit like getting one’s information on Reconstruction from D.W. Griffiths.

    Not only is he a bigot, he’s a pretty stupid and doctrinaire one from everything I can see.

    Posted by: Nullifidian | March 29, 2008 11:13 PM
    #5

    Hey– Nullifidian! Here’s MY ad hominem attack–

    Fuck you, fuck Mohammed, and fuck Allah; up your arses, with a pig’s dick.

    The religious fundamentalists who revel in death, and those who allow them succor and shelter in society are not fit to live in the company of civilized men and women. Crawl back into the thirteenth century and leave the rest of us alone.

    (This applies equally to Christians, Jews, and whoever else would sacrifice human life and dignity on the altar of “god.”

    Posted by: Rav Winston | March 29, 2008 11:22 PM
    #6

    People will of course point out that not all Muslims take the same approach: there are many Islams, just as there are many Christianities — and even many forms of atheism. And so there are. A fair number of Muslims have incorporated humanistic principles into how they understand Islam, and they denounce the violence. But it becomes hard to explain how the words written in the Quran are meant to be metaphors or symbols when Mohammead himself went out with a sword.

    We need moderate Muslims and Christians making arguments that this is all a misinterpretation — God meant something else, and fallible human beings have misunderstood. And we need atheists making arguments that the biggest misinterpretation was to take sacred texts as anything other than the work of fallible human beings in the first place.

    What we do not need is any culture beating the drum, over and over again, for faith as a virtue, and doubt as a vice.

    Posted by: Sastra | March 29, 2008 11:24 PM
    #7

    He has several…interesting quotes in his background, one of which came in a letter in De Volkskrant accompanying his push to have the Qur’an banned.

    “I am fed up with Islam in the Netherlands: no more Muslim immigrants allowed. I am fed up with the worship of Allah and Muhammad in the Netherlands: no more mosques.”

    In case you were wondering what would happen if you changed Jew for Muslim and synagogue for mosque, someone at an anti-Wilders rally did just that and was arrested for hate speech. Some of the revised slogans, all taken from Wilders’ public comments, were “No more Jews allowed to enter the Netherlands, remove many Jews, de-naturalisation of Jewish criminals, immigration of Jews must be stopped.”

    A hint of the quality of fact-checking for the film comes from the fact that Wilders played an audio clip of Moroccan-Dutch Mohamed Bouyeri, the killer of Theo van Gogh, over a picture of Salah Edin, a Morrocan-Dutch rapper! I guess all those Moroccans look alike, don’t they?

    Posted by: Nullifidian | March 29, 2008 11:26 PM
    #8

    Yes, Nullifidian, Wilders is a nasty right wing arsehole. That doesn’t alter the fact that Islam is a vile, ugly, evil creed that needs to be attacked.

    Posted by: Jack Rawlinson | March 29, 2008 11:29 PM
    #9

    Alright, then; you have a point. I apologize for my outburst. But only in that it seemed to be directed solely at Muslims.

    Really, though– What else can happen when the “extremists” are the ones allowed to speak for the community at large? How do you excuse this?

    Posted by: Rav Winston | March 29, 2008 11:34 PM
    #10

    Hey– Nullifidian! Here’s MY ad hominem attack–

    Fuck you, fuck Mohammed, and fuck Allah; up your arses, with a pig’s dick.

    Boooooooring! Why don’t you try something more vibrant and with a tad bit more ingenuity? Reviewing curses from the Russian may help if such a task overtaxes your primitive brain stem.

    The religious fundamentalists who revel in death, and those who allow them succor and shelter in society are not fit to live in the company of civilized men and women. Crawl back into the thirteenth century and leave the rest of us alone.

    (This applies equally to Christians, Jews, and whoever else would sacrifice human life and dignity on the altar of “god.”

    “So the whole object of “civilized men and women” should be to ban people for holding to religious belief, and establish a commuinity of ‘superior’ Stepford atheists?

    You’re coming to the defence of a man who wants to ban mosques, religious texts, and deport Muslims. Is that what a civilized state would do?

    If so, your ideal of a civilized state must be equivalent to Stalin’s Russia. Bad luck with the Khrushchev Thaw, because dear old Nikita even made Soviet planes available to take Muslims to Makkah.”

    Yes but North Korea still enforces absolute atheism.

    Maybe people who support Wilders should move there.

    I’m sure it’s a veritable earthly paradise.

  125. #125 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    I think the best response to this nonsense is by Ali Eteraz:

    I just watched Dutch right-winger Geert Wilders’ film, Fitna, The Movie. He had promised it would be too shocking, too frightening, too disturbing – and much of the world was holding its breath in a morbid, anxious wait for its release. The media feared rabid violence by those Muslims.

    My initial reaction is a yawn. I blame production. The soundtrack is Tchaikovsky’s mellow classical piece called “Arab Dance”. Quick tip to future demagogues: when trying to incite riots, try not to use musical pieces that are based on Georgian lullabies. Quick tip to future Islamophobes: when trying to demonise Islam, try not to use elements of western culture that are inspired by Arabs and Muslims as that reveals that Muslims have contributed positively to the world.

    What I’m really wondering: is Wilders protesting against Islam or the monopoly extremists already have over grainy, low-budget, YouTube videos?

    What the film really shows to me is that Wilders doesn’t know the difference between Islam and Islamism – and when it comes to the latter he is completely lost. This is his major attack against Islamism? He reminds me of those socially-awkward, marginalised, introverted children in a schoolyard whose solution to persecution at the hands of a bully is to write the bully’s name in his notebook and then rip up the page.

    If Wilders really wanted to expose Islamism – the entire legacy of 20th century ideological Islam – he would start with how the French Suez Canal Company funded the Muslim Brotherhood’s first mosque. That fact is casually mentioned in Hasan al-Banna’s autobiography (which I am certain Wilders never bothered to consult). Or Wilders would have tried to begin some criminal proceeding in the international criminal courts against those men who came up with the genius idea of encouraging disaffected Arab youth into going into Afghanistan and then gave them $1 billion in machine guns, bombs and stinger missiles to play with. Or Wilders could have expressed some outrage over the drafters of the new Iraqi constitution – drafted in consultation with western lawyers – which makes sharia the law of the land (a fact bemoaned by Iraqi feminists, among others). Had he bothered to show some serious thinking he would have even found support among the millions of Muslims around the world who oppose Islamists.

    But Wilders isn’t actually serious about challenging Islamism. He is concerned only about multiplying the number of times his name is pinged on Google. Couldn’t he have taken solace in the fact that his name is pinged more than mine?

    Brilliant!

  126. #126 Ian Gould
    March 30, 2008

    “Great. Well, then Americans had better get cracking on deporting all the Christians, because they have members who do call for “death, destruction, and terror”. Robertson, Falwell, La Haye and Jenkins (through their snuff books, especially Glorious Appearing), numerous Christian terrorists who bomb abortion clinics and kill doctors, the Christian Reconstructionists, etc.”

    This is terribly unfair to Christians.

    By focusing solely on the US you ignore the sterling work done by the Catholic priests who incited the Rwandan genocide; the right-wing death squads “defending Christianity from communism” in Colombia; the Serbian Orthodox priests still sheltering Bosnian Serb war criminals.

    Oh and let’s not forget the wonderful work of the Catholic church (amongst others) in working with youth.

  127. #127 Ian Gould
    March 30, 2008

    “Okay, seriously, why is the condemnation of Islam labeled as racist?”

    It’s not. It’s religious bigotry.

    I’m sure the Chinese secret police currently torturing Tibetan Buddhists are motivated primarily by anti-religious rather than racial bigotry. After all, they go after the Han Chinese practitioners of Falun Gong with equal enthusiasm.

    I doubt it makes much difference to the victims.

    But I’m sure no poster here wants to torture or kill Muslims – they just want them all to … go away.

  128. #128 Ian Gould
    March 30, 2008

    “BTW, Nullfidian, why do you grow so belligerent whenever anybody criticizes the “religion of peace”? I don’t recall you displaying any indignation whatsoever whenever PZ Myers made derisive comments about Christianity.”

    Maybe he’d feel differently if a Muslims-majority country with a leader who claimed to be following the explicit and direct orders of Allah invaded a Christian-majority country and caused the deaths of over a million Christians.

    Similarly, I kind of suspect that back in the 30’s he would probably have taken particular offence at rants about the dirty money-grubbing Yids.

  129. #129 ignus
    March 30, 2008

    I think eveyone who posted here should listen to Scott Atran’s talk on the Beyond Belief conference:

    http://tinyurl.com/3dk9gm

    And here are some of his articles:

    http://tinyurl.com/2cqx5z (List of articles on terrorism)

    http://tinyurl.com/3xso95 (Presentation to U.S. State Dept)

    It’s extremely interesting stuff. The points he makes are roughly that religious indoctrination or brainwashing don’t happen; terrorists radicalize on their own, and then go in search of Al Qaida. Also, mosque attendance is inversely correlated to radicalization.

  130. #130 Ian Gould
    March 30, 2008

    #”26, I think you misunderstood me. I asked do religious people believe in heaven. The answer is yes. They do believe in heaven. Without this belief there would have been no 9/11.”

    And without airplanes there would have been no 9/11.

    Ditto for paper cutters.

    Incidentally, suicide bombing was invented by the avowedly Marxist and Atheist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the LTTE have killed far more people using this tactic than Muslim fanatics.

    But hardly any of THEIR victims were Americans so I guess they don’t really matter.

  131. #131 Wazza
    March 30, 2008

    Well, Ian, yes he probably would have – and his ad hominem attacks and dismissiveness might have driven more people to join in the holocaust just to prove him wrong. I don’t disagree with his position, but I do disagree with the tactics. You can’t bully people into agreeing with you.

  132. #132 Ian Gould
    March 30, 2008

    “(there are about 25% Arabs citizens in Israel, but the only Jews in the West Bank live in armed enclaves)”

    Not true, there are Palestinian Jews living openly and peacefully amongst the other Palestinians there. They’re descendants of the Arabic-speaking Jews who lived in Palestine prior to the Zionist movement.

    Sorry to disappoint you.

  133. #133 Ian Gould
    March 30, 2008

    “Islam isn’t so much a religion as it is a political ideology that is masquerading as a religion. An ideology specifically designed to confer upon its leaders the divine right to rule. An ideology, like communism, that deserves to be confronted, defeated and thrown back onto the trash heap of history’s bad ideas.”

    Atheism, as it is represented by some posters here, isn’t so much a philosophical position as it is a rationale for killing Arabs and stealing their oil.

  134. #134 Ian Gould
    March 30, 2008

    “But wouldn’t it be nice if there was something similar about the American lunatics as well? ”

    How about a post on Hitchens support for the Iraq war?

    Had Hitchens attended the Iranian Holocaust revisionism conference, he’d be considered utterly contemptible and would be reviled by his fellow Atheists.

    Instead he spends what seems like a couple of years more or less cheer-leading for mass murder full time and nobody says boo.

  135. #135 Ian Gould
    March 30, 2008

    “Next thing you’ll be telling us that “Mein Kampf” isn’t a best-seller in the Arab world…”

    Got any proof that it is?

    How do its sales there compare with the western sales of tomes like “Age of Reason”?

  136. #136 Ian Gould
    March 30, 2008

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mein_Kampf#Current_availability

    Funny, Mein Kampf is available on-line in 10 European languages (including two different Russian versions and four English versions) but not in Arabic, Turkish, Urdu or Bahasa Indonesia.

  137. #137 BobC
    March 30, 2008

    “But I’m sure no poster here wants to torture or kill Muslims – they just want them all to … go away.”

    It would be nice if all muslims (and christians) became atheists. Then there would be no more suicide bombings. No more heads cut off for allah. No more attacks against science education for jesus.

  138. #138 HP
    March 30, 2008

    ALICE KRAMDEN: I know your atheism is very important to you, Ralph, but why are you spending time with a grade-A jerk like Geert Wildens?

    RALPH KRAMDEN: Because, Alice, ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’

    ALICE: What about the enemy of the enemy of your enemy?

    RALPH: [thinks for a minute] Norton? No, the enemy of the enemy of my enemy is also my friend.

    ALICE: Does the enemy of the enemy of your enemy know this?

    RALPH: Oh, he knows, Alice, he knows. And his enemies know that. And I know that they know. And they know that I know that they know. And I know that.

    ALICE: Well, I would’ve thought you’d have learned something from that time you went around with Chris Hitchens. Honestly, Ralph, sometimes I don’t know why I married you.

    RALPH: One of these days, Alice, one of these days…

  139. #139 Nick Gotts
    March 30, 2008

    Well, I hadn’t come across much full-on atheist bigotry before – very eye-opening. Looks to me like a lot of the posters here will be lining up with the Dominionists if the latter happen to find that Muslims are an easier first target than atheists. Given his introductory sentence, I wonder if PZ Myers will be among them. Nullfidian, bad Jim, Ian Gould, James Haight and a few others – thanks for standing up for rationality and human decency while I was asleep.

  140. #140 laserboy
    March 30, 2008

    Holy post-post rationalization batman.
    In history classes I learned of worse stuff than beheadings and genital mutilation before I even got to high school. Overall we already learn some pretty horrific stuff
    The crusades were not pretty
    The pogroms were not pretty
    The killing fields of Cambodia were not pretty
    Mao’s, Stalin’s, and Hitler’s acts of madness were not pretty.
    The reaction to the civil rights movement(s) were not pretty.
    We learn a lot about this before we are 15.

    Yet you seem to think that Gert’s pathetic effort demonstrates that a comparative religious class would have to be watered down.

    I think you need to reset the critical thinking part of your brain and own to up to an absolutely stupid post.

  141. #141 PZ Myers
    March 30, 2008

    You’re a perfect example of my point, Nick. No, I’m not going to be lining up my Muslim neighbors to have them shot…but if you actually read the full sentence you find troubling, what disturbs me is the fact that many people don’t even want to acknowledge that violence and hatred is a part of most religions.

  142. #142 Carlie
    March 30, 2008

    Why is it that when there’s a post condemning the bad parts of Christianity, someone always pops up demanding to know why we pick on Christianity to the exclusion of all other religions, but as soon as there’s a post condemning another religion someone pops up and says we’re being racist? You can’t have it both ways.

  143. #143 laserboy
    March 30, 2008

    Carlie, the difference is that PZ’s posts on Christianity usually use a single example of a single person espousing some vile principle (e.g., Jerry Falwel and homosexuality). I have absolutely no problem with him pointing out individual acts of bigotry and I also don’t have a problem with these being extended through more general comment as “and where are all the moderate Christians condemning him?” Because that is relevant question to ask and doesn’t tar by association. I don’t mind the more general comments that are applied equally well to all religions.

    This falls under neither of these cases.

  144. #144 wazza
    March 30, 2008

    laserboy, it actually does fall under those cases, thus:

    1. There are real people out there beheading other people in the name of religion
    2. This film contains pictures of them
    3. By posting this film, he can show lots of things that are even worse than discrimination against our brothers and sisters of teh ghey, and do it all in only one post. That’s economy, man.

    And it makes even more sense to say that the mainstream muslims should be doing something about this, because unlike Jerry Falwell’s comments, this is really truly throw-away-the-key illegal everywhere in the world.

  145. #145 Marcus Ranum
    March 30, 2008

    Ian Gould writes
    Yes but North Korea still enforces absolute atheism.

    What a load of bullshit. The state, in North Korea, has replaced traditional religion with leader-worship. In fact, Kim Il Sung is still the official leader – in spite of being dead, and the official doctrine is heavily mysticized to the point where it’s starting to sound like the catholic trinity all over again: Il Sung, Jong Il, and the holy spirit of leadership.

    Many totalitarians broke new ground by replacing old religions with the religion of the state. That’s how you get ridiculous bollocks like Soviet agriculture and Soviet anti-jewish pogroms, and the Chinese “great leap forward” and cultural revolution. If you look at the underlying behaviors, they are not government – they are worship.

    mjr.

  146. #146 Dorid
    March 30, 2008

    Wow. I have to say I was rather surprised at the response here, and was glad you took the time to clarify your position, I don’t know whether you had done it below the fold or you edited this post, but the first time when I clicked the link and saw you were linking to Fitna I was pretty disgusted.

    It seems a lot of people I know have been posting this racist propaganda trash, then defending it. Of course on most blogs no one wants to hear that their religion also has such hateful text in their scripture and a bloody history.

    The thing that surprised me, however, is that even here, where I expect a higher level of intelligence, I’m reading narrow minded, bigoted comments.

    It seems the biggest comment across the web is “if Muslims weren’t hateful, they’d do something about extremists” well, again, we could say the same about every religion. The answer is, “they do” but it just doesn’t make news any more than Christian condemnation of Fred Phelps does.

    Instead, sheep look at videos like Fitna and start bleating about how dangerous the others are.

  147. #147 Guido
    March 30, 2008

    I went to UD to see the comparison between Islam and ‘Darwinism’. I almost puked. I stopped when I read that Islam, unlike Christianity, is not a religion of peace and social justice. Social justice in the USA, yeah right. Enough hypocrisy to ruin a Sunday morning.

  148. #148 Nick Gotts
    March 30, 2008

    PZ, you did not say what you are saying now: that violence and hatred are part of most religions. That is of course true – in fact it is difficult to find a religion of which the accusation is false. What you said was:

    “I generally favor idea of teaching comparative religion… but there is a good argument against it: many religions are sickening.”

    That is all you said. Not “parts of many religions”. And then you linked to a film which is quite clearly intended to stir up hatred against those practising one particular religion. No disclaimer about Wilders’ vileness. At the very least, you did something extremely stupid. Your subsequent explanations are all too reminiscent of the “Oh I didn’t mean…” you get from a racist or homophobe when you object to them assuming you share their bigotry.

  149. #149 laserboy
    March 30, 2008

    wazza: Name the person who passed sentence and criticise them for all you are worth. Name the *specific* law and criticise that for all you are worth. That wouldn’t bother me in the slightest. I would love to see PZ putting up videos of individual Immans preaching hate and condemning them for it, but since they are not in English it is difficult for him to do that.

    Putting up posts supporting the civil rights movements that are operating in Muslim (and non-Muslim) countries would be even better, since then we would get an impression of what is actually happening inside muslim countries.

    As for the “where are the moderate muslims?” that was answered earlier in the thread. They are there, they are commenting, and the west is not listening at all.

    As for the video itself, you cannot take it at face value. I could use similar techniques to make a similarly damning film about secularlism, where every image and “fact” in it was the absolute truth, but it would not be representative of secularlism. I would be damned by everyone here for doing it, and anyone using the video in a positive way would similarly be damned. yet, here you are faced with a video from a known right-wing racist and somehow it is all right to take the story it tells as the whole story. Perhaps you should also turn on your critical thinking skills and come to the conclusion that a right-wing racist wanker is unlikely to be truthful in his representation of a group he hates?

  150. #150 Sander
    March 30, 2008

    Geert Wilders is revolting, petty, pus-filled buboid of a political opportunist who’s trying to ride the bandwagon of fear that’s been going around this country (I’m Dutch) since van Gogh’s murder. He doesn’t care a bit about the consequences of his rabble-rousing as long as he scores some points.

    I’ve been trying to ignore him and his vile propaganda piece for so long, only to be confronted with it here. I was kinda hoping nobody on your side of the pond would care about the excretions of a wingnut from the ass end of Europe. No such luck.

  151. #151 Martin
    March 30, 2008

    Just chiming in to say that if the first line was all PZ wrote when he first submitted this news item, I disagree with him and that’s fine too.

    But what he added to the post says something completely else. No objective reader could come to any other conclusion.

  152. #152 genewitch
    March 30, 2008

    yeah, pz, what the fuck is wrong with you?!!!!
    stick to posting pictures of octopuses.

    :-p

    (ps, i’m not serious)

    i have nothing to add to the thread, just that i’m not surprised to see so many hot headed people posting.

    Man i’m sleepy. :-(

  153. #153 laserboy
    March 30, 2008

    @Martin: so when you learned “Comparative governments,” you didn’t hear about the holocaust, the purges, the reaction to the civil right(s) movements or anything like that?

    Because the only evidence we have the comparative religion would be watered down is by looking at other classes and my history classes were certainly not watered down.

  154. #154 PZ Myers
    March 30, 2008

    Weird. I’m pretty sure I knew what I intended, and my addition explains it further, without contradiction.

    Many religions are sickening: Dominionist Christianity, televangelism, cults, the radical Islamists in that film. It’s a problem for teaching comparative religion, a problem I see in vivid display here: many would advocate cutting that out of such a course. I don’t think that’s right — show it all. Show Bach and show the Inquisition.

    Scott Atran was mentioned. Atran is really good at what he does — he gets right down to the raw data and reveals that a lot of ideas people have about Islam are wrong. He convinced me that it isn’t the mosques aren’t at the center of terrorism; when religion gets institutionalized, it does become more cautious and conservative. But the weird thing is that he shows all this evidence that it’s marginalized males meeting on soccer fields who are doing the terrorism, that they go off in cheap, crowded flats, stop bathing, read the Koran obsessively, start praying 5 times a day with great fervor, and decide to start blowing up their enemies…and that’s not religion? Of course it is. It’s the religion people actually practice, rather than the religion theologians talk about.

    It’s also the religion I really worry about. The chatterers are apologists and enablers. It’s the guy on the street who thinks he is filled with the words of Jesus or Mohammed who is the real danger, and that’s religion, too.

  155. #155 Beowulff
    March 30, 2008

    The PVV (Party For Freedom) is the biggest misnomer ever as far as party names go: they have so far only tried to ban things – among others the Quran. The only exception I can think of: Wilders wanted to have it written in the constitution that the Netherlands has a Judeo-Christian tradition.

    While Fitna is cheap propaganda, going over the backs of the 9/11 victims, among others, of course some of the issues Wilders addresses are real. However, Wilders would have more of a point with Fitna if he
    1. Would not single out the Muslims all the time.
    2. Would actually promote freedom of religion and freedom from religion, as well as separation of church and state
    3. Would offer other solutions than “ban it!”
    4. Would look at the bigger picture

    I hope by the time the next elections are up, people will understand that Wilders is a nut-case who has little else to offer than political incorrectness.

  156. #156 waterrocks
    March 30, 2008

    Anyway, my point was that if we did teach comparative religion, it would be weak tea that favored faith by censoring out the worst of it, or it would be a class tainted with such appalling horror that all of us liberals would be yanking our children out of it.

    This amazes me. Do you guys in the US really not teach comparative religion at all? Here (UK) it’s compulsory, in some form, between the ages of five and sixteen. And what better way for children to notice the unfoundedness of the particular set of religious beliefs they’ve been brought up with than by learning about the similar-but-different and equally (and more obviously) unfounded beliefs of others? And that’s all aside from the fact that religion is incredibly relevant to understanding history, human geography, how societies work… all sorts. Comparative religion is useful.

    By the way, I think we strike the balance about right between your two extremes, at least in the classes I’ve sat through… most of it is pretty watered down, but then most religious people are moderate, so that’s fair enough. And we got the occasional exposure to something more extreme, such as Christian neo-Nazi rallies… *shudder*

  157. #157 aratina
    March 30, 2008

    I don’t know about how it was at your schools, but my primary/secondary school educators seemed to have no problem discussing and illustrating the Holocaust, gulags, civil wars, slavery, and international conflicts in all their gory detail. I remember seeing photos of a motion-stopped Chinese beheading, the infamous journalistic photo of a Vietnamese being shot in the head, the emaciated bodies of Jews in the death camps, and the wounded on battlefields scattered throughout several of the textbooks I was taught from. In fact, the story of Jim Jones was in a history text we used. Not to mention, if you have a parent that takes you to a Xtian church, you are regularly exposed to murder and torture in illustrated writings with a tinge of supernatural intervention (like resurrection or what have you). So, no, I do not think it would be a problem at all to show the worst side of religion, and I think it already happens, at least in some communities in the US, to a large extent.

    I would doubt, for instance, that suicide bombers or al-Qaeda are not mentioned in modern history textbooks aimed at children (tokkotai pilots and the Rape of Nanking are in the older texts after all).

    I think we need to keep in mind that irrational, murderous people exist at every level of human civilization and are not simply a product of the military, religions, facist states, or totalitarian regimes. And given that past behavior is the best predictor for future behavior, do we really need to pick apart religious silliness, like God sending bears to eat hateful children? That piece of religious dogma is not a predictor of how a Xtian would behave. Nor should the teachings of Islam be used to predict a Muslim person’s future behavior.

    I think the way to go is to show history in a compressed form but to hit the high notes, which means leaving out a great deal of detail and letting those with curiosity dig deeper as they like. Seeing the details is all too easy for children who have access to the Internet.

  158. #158 PZ Myers
    March 30, 2008

    Comparative religion courses in the US are offered in school districts that are fairly enlightened and tolerant, but elsewhere, they’re a big problem. If you think teaching kids about evolution gets parents fired up, you should see what happens when the schools try to teach kids about those evil heathenish Buddhists in any way other than “idol-worshipping Buddhists are inferior to the Babtists, who are God’s chosen people.” They’re also generally taught as electives, so the people who need it most can easily avoid it.

  159. #159 rijkswaanvijand
    March 30, 2008

    To be completely frank.. I just don’t understand why and how this film got worldwide attention.

    Even long before it was finished half the muslim world was protesting against it, our government tried to censor it before it even had contents(not implying it has any yet).
    While it’s just as I expected, an empty shell..
    Didn’t history teach us on how theists tend to result in violence against non-believers as well as against sheep of another shepherd?
    Thinking is obsolete in the realms of belief, that’s the real danger we’re facing.

    After all the premature commotion I wasn’t planning on seeing it, safe to say you tricked me into it!

    post scriptum
    I myself was taught comparitive religion of some kind in school, it increased my scepticism on the entire matter of religious belief.

  160. #160 laserboy
    March 30, 2008

    Many religions are sickening: Dominionist Christianity, televangelism, cults, the radical Islamists in that film. It’s a problem for teaching comparative religion, a problem I see in vivid display here: many would advocate cutting that out of such a course. I don’t think that’s right — show it all. Show Bach and show the Inquisition.

    Except you don’t actually present any evidence that comparative religion is watered down, but rather you make an assertion. Please link to a curriculum document to support your point.

  161. #161 j.t.delaney
    March 30, 2008

    “Why is it that when there’s a post condemning the bad parts of Christianity, someone always pops up demanding to know why we pick on Christianity to the exclusion of all other religions, but as soon as there’s a post condemning another religion someone pops up and says we’re being racist? You can’t have it both ways.”

    The reason why Fitma is racist has to do with the context of current events in the Netherlands. I’m sorry, but Geert Wilders is not a deep thinker, and this has much more to do with Geert Wilders and his political followers trying to bait a marginalized ethnic minority by pushing some buttons. Most African immigrants I know are hard-working, family-oriented people, who trying to get by and make do with their lot in life the best they know how — just like everybody else. For a lot of different reasons, integration hasn’t really worked out always to everybody’s satisfaction, and urban ghettos of immigrants have developed, and there is a lot of hostility between the ‘autochtoon’ and ‘allochtoon’ communities (i.e. people who can identify that all their grandparents are born in the Netherland, versus… well, the rest of us who lived there.) Those of us in the allochtoon community, unless they belong to the right social class, are obligated to undergo ‘inburgering’ (integration) classes — even if they’re born in Holland! Even Surinamese and migrants from the current Dutch colony the Western Antilles fall into this net.

    Being a Western allochtoon with a knowledge migrant visa, I wasn’t required to go through this (or even learn Dutch, but I did), but you can imagine what kind of sentiment this creates for everybody. Being of slightly darker skin tone than most Dutch people and having a funny accent, I still managed to get lumped in with the rest on the street.

    Geert Wilders could have made a movie about Christian terrorists in the Maluku Islands, and the role the Netherlands has in enabling the leadership from the Maluku Sovereignty Front in ethnic clashed that have killed thousands. Closer to home, the are still parts of Zeeland that are under an anachronistically extreme form of Dutch Reformed protestantism, where people can have the property vandalized for drying their clothes on clotheslines on a Sunday… or being catholic. But instead of taking on religious extremeism in all it’s forms, he decided to tap into a deep well of cultural animosity… in a juvenile and stupid way.

    The problem with linking to this is that PZ is siding with an unreconstructed bigot, whether he knows it or not. Sure, we may as atheists strongly disagree with the precepts and tenants of Islam, but I think it’s important to pick allies more carefully.

  162. #162 PZ Myers
    March 30, 2008

    You know, the last time I weighed in on European Islam, I got accused of being pro-Islam and unfair to Christianity. Now I get accused of siding with bigots.

    I have a feeling that what we really have going on here is a set of presuppositions that conspire to make both sides of the argument strain to silence any discussion of Islam.

  163. #163 BadMA
    March 30, 2008

    Comparative religion courses in the US are offered in school districts that are fairly enlightened and tolerant, but elsewhere, they’re a big problem.

    I’m afraid PZ is right. There was nothing offered from elementary school through high school in my small corner of the US. I think comparative religion is a much more effective way to diminish the power of any religion. I would very much like to get it taught in school, and I wonder why it hasn’t been pursued by rationalists to a greater extent.

  164. #164 laserboy
    March 30, 2008

    No, PZ, what we are saying is that your uncritical use of a video about Islam that was made by a well known racist was stupid and that we expect someone who values critical thinking skills to actually make use of them.

  165. #165 Cheezits
    March 30, 2008

    What does “comparative” religion mean anyway? Comparing religions to see which one is better? I don’t think we have comparative history or art or literature.

    But whatever form the teaching of religion takes, I *don’t* think ID has any place in it, as some have suggested. ID is not a religion, there are no ID churches or ID holy books (outside a few crackpot works). What it is, is a pseudoscientific disguise to sneak in a religous idea. It’s “holes in evolution”, weasel words like “strengths and weaknesses of evolution”, “academic freedom”, etc. etc. ID is nothing but a textbook sticker.

  166. #166 Gregory Earl
    March 30, 2008

    All those bleating about how this movie misconstrues Islam, answer two simple questions:
    1. Are the citations is the move from the koran?
    2. Are the news images worked into the movie authentic?

    The answer to both questions is a simple Yes. So who cares about the political motives of the movie’s maker?

    Who cares whether Christians, Jews or any other religious group has said and done similarly disgusting things in the past or whether there are lunatic fringe Christians saying similar things today?

    The people in the movie are neither from the past nor from the fringe — they are all current religious and political leaders, saying and doing these things AS WE SPEAK.

    Let’s not let our dislike for religion in general lead us to pretend that all religions are the same. Most religions are based on hating non-believers, but Islam is a particularly nasty piece of work in this respect.

  167. #167 RobW
    March 30, 2008

    Seems to me like all this back and forth about how much does Islam suck and are these various hideous things truly Islamic or not and did Muhammad wear boxers or briefs and who’s got the greater right to push the other guys into the sea, the Israelis or the Palestinians, is kind of a diversion from the fundamental points here, which ought, IMO, to be:

    1) Fuck terrorism.
    2) Fuck insane fundamentalist religion.
    3) Fuck all religion.
    4) Fuck Geert Wilders.

    5) Fuck imperialism.
    6) Fuck rewriting history.
    7) Fuck pretending that people who commit violence after seeing their homes destroyed and their relatives killed, or seeing that happen to others, are enraged by some religious text and not by recent events.

    “Marginalised” – that’s a hell of a euphemism.

    Oh, and,
    8) Fuck climbing into bed with crusadis and “Clash of Civilisations” nutbars, and lionising war-mongering liars like Christopher Hitchens, and publicising any right-wing rag’s “aren’t mooslims stupid” story that passes through your in-box.

  168. #168 Nick Gotts
    March 30, 2008

    “You know, the last time I weighed in on European Islam, I got accused of being pro-Islam and unfair to Christianity. Now I get accused of siding with bigots.”

    So: “I’ve been attacked from two opposite directions, therefore I’m right”.

  169. #169 RobW
    March 30, 2008

    Oh, and I’m thinking of making a short film juxtaposing current US military operations with choice quotes from America’s founding fathers advocating genocide and excusing slavery, maybe throw in some footage of Klan rallies, lynchings, photos from My Lai and so on. Clearly there’s something pretty fucked up about Americans and America in general, right?

    Or wuld that be bigoted and inflammatory?

  170. #170 Brian Macker
    March 30, 2008

    “Yes, all of the terrorists were adherents of Islam, but an extremist brand which is not mainstream. You can no more damn all Muslims for the acts of a few than you can damn all Christians for the Crusades.”

    In case you weren’t paying attention it’s about more than the terrorism. Pick up one of the many books by Muslim apostates and read it. Islam is in fact one of the most repressive and violent ideologies on the planet, even without suicide bombers. Massive immigration to a free society by Muslims would tend to destroy the culture.

  171. #171 RobW
    March 30, 2008

    And fuck commenting systems that turn off formatting codes at the end of a paragraph rather than at the off code.

  172. #172 ngong
    March 30, 2008

    Why is classical music always used to accompany horror scenes in movies? It ain’t fair.

    It’s mostly “Death of Aase” in the video. Elegiac. Somewhat relevant.

  173. #173 falterer
    March 30, 2008

    Thanks for clarifying your position on the movie, PZ. I worried.

    In England, basic Religious Education is compulsory. During my school years, race hate against Muslims and Asians was common; our classes aimed to curb intolerance. I was given the opportunity to visit a gurdwara and met some Sikhs who explained common misconceptions. Hinduism and Buddhism were also briefly explained. Then we studied Christendom in the same detached, objective manner.

    To show some sensitivity, historical criticism of the Bible was introduced as Religious Education; otherwise, the reality of religion—the blood and gore—was taught as History, a separate compulsory class. Religious Education informed us of ideologies. History taught us their effects.

  174. #174 laserboy
    March 30, 2008

    Massive immigration to a free society by Muslims would tend to destroy the culture.

    Ooooh that is why Britain is now smoking hole in the ground…. Oh wait it isn’t. Neither is the Netherlands (despite Gert’s efforts), nor Germany. France has had some problems but they are economic rather than religion (though you can bet that the right wing will try and sell it as a Moroccan problem rather than a 17% unemployment and all of them are Moroccan problem).

    All of these countries have had (and still have) substantial immigration from Muslim countries and what do you know, they are still standing.

  175. #175 Kirsten
    March 30, 2008

    In rural America where I live, few residents have the opportunity or take the time to learn about other people’s values and religions. Also they have very little opportunity to meet and interact with “out” atheists/agnostics and theists other than Christians. This lack of information allows negative stereotypes to thrive. And those in the minority are often uncomfortable coming out because they know there are so many negative stereotypes about their groups. It seems circular. Any ideas how we can go about changing this? Community events?

  176. #176 j.t.delaney
    March 30, 2008

    PZ,

    If this was intended as a thread about virtues of comparative religion classes, then why did you link it to the Dutch equivalent to “The Birth of a Nation”? You want to say that comparitive religion will benefit children by promoting skepticism, but the material you link to is blatant racist horseshit? Come now — how is your message NOT going to be muddled by that? Surely, youtube is chock-a-block with videos which are better suited to your purported thesis than this one (i.e. videos showing the negative side of Islam.) Using a video produced by a politician that wants to ethnically purify Holland, whose sole production purpose was to inflame racial animosity, is just asking for misinterpretation. Hell, even Fox News is a more reliable source than this blockhead.

    I suspect that really wasn’t your original intention. It just looks like you you were looking for an excuse to shoehorn this salacious bit of high-profile trash in, and “comparative religion” is the quirky little angle you took with it. So be it. Still, you really ought to be a little more careful with this; the *last* thing we need is to be associated with these intolerant cretins.

  177. #177 Richard Harris
    March 30, 2008

    laserboy, you are naive. You say, “All of these countries have had (and still have) substantial immigration from Muslim countries and what do you know, they are still standing.”

    I don’t know why they are still standing. Maybe it’s because a ‘critical’ number of Moslems hasn’t yet occurred? What trouble there has been so far is from fringe fanatics who just haven’t the patience to wait for the critical number. When the critical number does occur, presumably the real trouble will start. And don’t forget, the Koran says that it’s okay to lie if it’s to promote Submission (the religion of the prophet Muhammad, piss be upon him).

    This religion has significant active elements that are antithetical to democracy, women’s rights, & personal freedom. In the West, we must resist it, because population demographics are on the side of these enemies of reason.

  178. #178 TW
    March 30, 2008

    PZM: Just to clarify: I think Wilders is a flaming nutcase; I deplore his racist angle and his desire to exclude and oppress rather than educate.

    I think it’s a cowardly tactic on the part of those who are trying to make the connection between the widespread opinion that “Islam sucks”, and racism. It’s a tactic designed to shield a nasty political ideology under the protection of anti-racism. PZM, I’m surprised that you would also make that connection. It’s a connection that Hitchens has also addressed, most notably (that I’m aware of) here:

    http://onegoodmove.org/1gm/1gmarchive/2007/03/free_speech_6.html

    Islam is not ‘just’ a religion. It’s a political system designed to crush the human spirit. It is the worst of religion combined with the worst of totalitarianism.

    Confront, defeat, discard.

  179. #179 CalGeorge
    March 30, 2008

    The first half, featuring sayings from the Koran, was fine.

    The last half leaves a lot to be desired.

    One more person playing the racist fear card to get people to react viscerally and unintelligently to a complicated subject.

  180. #180 pastormaker
    March 30, 2008

    Once again, PZ, I’ll remind you that Pam Oshry at http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/ is an ideological twin of Geert Wilders. She’s been posting stuff comparable to Wilders’ video for years.

    Why link to Wilders’ video? Don’t you believe in selling American?

  181. #181 Gregory Earl
    March 30, 2008

    @Rob W. (#169)

    Oh, and I’m thinking of making a short film juxtaposing current US military operations with choice quotes from America’s founding fathers advocating genocide and excusing slavery, maybe throw in some footage of Klan rallies, lynchings, photos from My Lai and so on. Clearly there’s something pretty fucked up about Americans and America in general, right?

    Or wuld that be bigoted and inflammatory?

    No, it would be a Michael Moore movie.

    Look, even if there were something “pretty fucked up about Americans and America in general”, how would that excuse the atrocities that are committed as we speak in the name of Islam?

    And, yes, there is something pretty fucked up about the current government of the US, esp. about its foreign policy. But we can point this out without fear of being publicly executed. That is the difference between neocon and Islamist fantasies of world domination. I don’t know about you, but for me it’s a crucial difference.

  182. #182 Gary SF
    March 30, 2008

    Oh, and I’m thinking of making a short film juxtaposing current US military operations with choice quotes from America’s founding fathers advocating genocide and excusing slavery, maybe throw in some footage of Klan rallies, lynchings, photos from My Lai and so on. Clearly there’s something pretty fucked up about Americans and America in general, right?

    Or wuld that be bigoted and inflammatory?

    Posted by: RobW | March 30, 2008 10:18 AM

    As long as the documentary also included the facts – that the Constitution has been amended to eliminate slavery, that the number of Klan rallies has decreased, that Native Americans now have their own ‘countries’ inside the US, etc.

    You are mixing apples and oranges. Show me the updates in the Quran or Bible. You can’t because they don’t exist. Both books are filled with violence and hatred. Yes, those adherents who ‘pick and choose’ can find beautiful philosophy within, but they have to wade through a river of shit to find it.

  183. #183 BadMA
    March 30, 2008

    What does “comparative” religion mean anyway? Comparing religions to see which one is better? I don’t think we have comparative history or art or literature.

    I’m sure that the term “comparative” does offer some form of leeway for people with agendas. However, whatever you call it, in my school virtually *nothing* was taught about other religions. As another commenter said, in some parts of the rural US, people are exposed to practically nothing else, and this is an environment that creates stereotypes. Teach religion as history. That’s what it is. I think it’s meaningless to talk about which religions are better, or try to say which religions are peaceful and which aren’t. Several students in high school thought it was either Christianity or nothing. Their worldview was so closed that when anyone mentioned religion, there was only one to talk about. At least teaching religion as history, or whatever it’s called, would broaden their worldview.

  184. #184 PaulG
    March 30, 2008

    You’re confusing “weather” with “climate”.

  185. #185 Nick Gotts
    March 30, 2008

    “And, yes, there is something pretty fucked up about the current government of the US, esp. about its foreign policy. But we can point this out without fear of being publicly executed. That is the difference between neocon and Islamist fantasies of world domination. I don’t know about you, but for me it’s a crucial difference.” – Gregory Earl

    It’s been made perfectly clear by the Bush regime that it considers itself entitled to seize anyone, anywhere outside the USA, and do whatever it likes to them. It has also quite clearly targeted missiles at al-Jazeera offices, killing journalists in the process. So for a non-US citizen, that “crucial difference” is moot. That’s quite apart from US support for various outright dictators and mass murderers, which has been pretty much a constant over the past few decades.

  186. #186 j.t.delaney
    March 30, 2008

    I think it’s a cowardly tactic on the part of those who are trying to make the connection between the widespread opinion that “Islam sucks”, and racism. It’s a tactic designed to shield a nasty political ideology under the protection of anti-racism.

    Wow, you’ve got that completely backwards: petty nationalists are using the cowardly tactic of thinly veiling their racism as “protecting European values”. Clearly, you’re not familiar with what’s going on here in Europe. In the Netherlands, they’ve passed laws that create a multi-tiered system of Dutch citizenship, based on who their grandparents were. If you’re family is working class and wanted to immigrate (highly paid and/or science-related immigrants are exempt), you can expect mandatory pedantic classes on Dutch culture (mostly designed to shock social conservatives, but invariably to alienate anybody unfortunate to watch it.) Regardless of pay-scale and social class, you can also expect months (or longer) of red tape to get basic things like the right to buy normal health insurance, the ability to get a monthly cell phone plan, and even a bank account. This is all done very intentionally, by politicians ranting about protecting their culture and way of life — just like segregationist good ‘ol boys of the American South.

    This has very little to do with stamping out “political Islam”, and everything to do with keeping uppity workers who sweep floors, cut flowers, and pick tomatoes in line. T

  187. #187 Scott Hatfield, OM
    March 30, 2008

    Anyway, my point was that if we did teach comparative religion, it would be weak tea that favored faith by censoring out the worst of it, or it would be a class tainted with such appalling horror that all of us liberals would be yanking our children out of it.

    Yeah, but that’s a pretty mild point, PZ. High school history courses, high school science courses are also ‘weak tea’. We tend to filter out what others regard as horrific in order to reduce resistance to the broader curriculum. That tends to privilege certain groups.

    In fact, I have been repeatedly dragged through the coals of late as a hypocrite simply because I’ve defended the NCSE-approved strategy of drawing attention to the fact that there are a diversity of religious viewpoints where evolution is concerned—some cozy, some not-so-much. I do this in part with the episode from PBS’s ‘Evolution’ series called ‘What About God?’ which prominently features Ken Miller—and Ken Ham.

    Anyway, my critics have argued that the mere fact of presenting Miller (the author of our textbook) in a favorable light, as religion-friendly, inherently privileges his views and amounts to the establishment of religion. I don’t agree, because I’m not endorsing Miller’s views, and I’m certainly not endorsing Ham’s views. The bottom line is I want to make that point about a diversity of views, but make it in as inoffensive way as possible.

    That leads to a certain tension, and I think a certain ‘weakening of the tea.’ There are some places I’m just not going to go, even though it might be legal to do so. I am certainly not going to go out of my way to that evolution must lead to atheism, though it is certainly a possible conclusion.

    Does that constitute a bias the other way? I don’t know, but I think that giving my students the historical and present context where religion is concerned is a good pedagogical strategy to break down prejudices or conceptual barriers to fairly considering evolutionary theory on its merits. To get to that ‘happy place’, I have to weaken the tea—or, at the bare minimum, give it to them in easily-managed doses.

  188. #188 Carlie
    March 30, 2008

    Instead, sheep look at videos like Fitna and start bleating about how dangerous the others are.

    But that’s not what happens here. People here scream about how dangerous they ALL are. Just because PZ qualified his first comment by saying “many” rather than “all” doesn’t mean he was secretly defending any of them. He belongs to no religion and defends none. If you go through the archives of this site, you will find posts lambasting every religion out there. I think it’s a knee-jerk reaction to see criticism of Islam and say “Ooo, racist”, especially since it’s a religion that crosses many cultural boundaries.

  189. #189 The Wanderer
    March 30, 2008

    There is no doubt (and no argument at all) that religion, whether the worship of Deity or worship of the State-as-Deity, has managed to result in some of the most horrific excesses in human history.

    It also must not be denied that religion has resulted in architecture, music, art and philosophy. Like the old Roman god Ianus, it has two faces.

    Just my two centavos.

  190. #190 Brian Macker
    March 30, 2008

    “By selective quotation from the Bible or the Talmud, one could easily make a similar hate movie about the Jews or the Christians. Indeed, it has already been done many times. Aside from the dubious morality of the methodology, it has the additional disadvantage of promoting a fundamentally erroneous notion of the relationship between scriptures and practices. Scriptures simply are not analogous to DNA. They determine very little by themselves.”

    Oh, I see a better fit to DNA than you do.

    Not every piece of DNA has an effect on the phenotype either. There are ways to tell which genes are active and which not. Even when not active such dormant there is a danger with slight modification they could be active again.

    Certain verses might be dormant. However this is certainly not the case when you can show that the verses are active, being used by clerics in their speeches, effecting the attitudes of individuals, showing up in polls, being expressed in judical decisions, being cited by politicians, being transcribed into law, being yelled during incidents of “street justice”, being claimed as the motive by criminal suspects, and being used as the philosophical basis of criminal organizations.

    Many of the biblical quotes that you find objectionable to quote are dormant for most Christians, and have been for a long time. With slight mutation they can become active again. Think “God hates fags” and “Christian Reconstructionism”. The latter wishing to bring back stoning. Hell the Puritans were as bad as the Taliban.

    Those bad passages in the bible were virulent for centuries. It would ebb then some religious leader would get it in his mind to interpret dormant passages as they are actually written. It was only the fact that the human fetish of Christianity was mostly a pacifist that eventually lead to those bad passages going dormant.

    Mohammed was a much more “complex” figure in that he was a pacifist when it suited him and worse than Charles Manson when he had the upper hand. When the founder of the religion actually used the religions evil verses to justify his own acts of robbery, wracking, slavery, sexual molestation of minors, rape, torture, mutilation, assasination, violation of treaty, pillage, sexual slavery, and forced marriage.

    I think your position is a hell of a FUCKING lot weaker than you think it is, you pompous moral idiot.

    I get perturbed by the kind of overuse of “racism” guys like you do. If you too dense to figure out why there needs to be concern over a religion that happens not to be practiced by many whites, well that doesn’t automatically mean that the hidden reason is racism.

    It’s especially annoying when guys like you don’t do their homework and then cry racism. Many of the quotes you claim are “out of context” read worse in context. In fact many of the cherry picked “peaceful” quotes of the Qur’an are actually horrible in context. Your lack of research on this before opening your mouth to condemn is an ethical vice as far as I’m concerned.

    Just thought I’d express a little of my moral outrage at you since you feel free to do the opposite to people like me who don’t share your rosy view.

    I’ve read the The Quran and explored the Hadiths and have thought long and hard about the ethics of all this, and it’s quite valid to quote the evil passages of religions to critics them, and predict behavior.

    Violent and defamatory passages are endangering the same way that storing explosives is. When the dangerous passages are taught as being part of an infallible whole then that is especially wreckless and negligent. Furthermore, when these objectionable passages are being actively taught it is direct defamation and incitement to violence.

    So yes I think people who tend to act criminally like this should be denied immigration. Why should someone who is actively practicing defamation or is a member of a group doing so be allowed freedom of immigration until and unless they desist.

    I’m in favor of tightening up the laws on defamation and on negligence to be much harsher on religious speech that meets certain criteria.

    You, for instance, should not be able to claim a book is infallible that contains defamatory statements, incitements to violence and the like. Doing so should be treated exactly as if you were negligently defaming and inciting violence. Furthermore, directly citing the passages to others should be treated more harshly as direct defamation and incitement.

    Notice here that this is not a thought crime. You can believe whatever you want about other people. What you are not allowed to do is express unfounded and groundless and false charges, nor incite other to act on such claims. You can think “homos should be killed” but you shouldn’t be able to teach your children that, or shout it from the pulpit.

    Individuals who are members of organizations that defame and incite in this manner should also be held to be responsible for the actions of other members based on these claims. Thus if you are a member of an mosque whose leaders and/or known members are defaming and inciting then you should be charged with conspiracy to commit these crimes. Furthermore should these incitements lead to the harming of individuals you should be charged with consipracy in those crimes. Incitement to murder that leads to murder should be treated more harshly.

    This is precisely how we treat white supremacist groups when their teachings lead to crimes. Both the organization and the individuals involved need to be punished. Make the coffers of the church pay the victims who were harmed as a result of the defamations and incitements.

    So if your pastor is screaming “kill the fags” from his pulpit which leads to a group of underage children in the congregation beat up or murdering a homosexual then the entire congregation should be up on lesser charges of negligent contribution to the crime based on their conspiracy in the incitement. The church itself, and it’s members should have to cough up restitution and punative payments.

    We need laws like these. With such laws the “one eyed cleric” and his minions would not have had such an easy time preaching the hate that allowed them to recruit and establish the religious cell that committed the first world trade center bombing. I had become aware of this group prior to their crime because of their intolerant teaching (and the fact they conspired in the murder of the Egyptian president).

    Yet our laws still were insufficient to prevent their entering the country, inciting, defaming, and conspiring. All due to the very false notion that religious freedom trumps such concerns. The opposite is true.

    Such laws would also allow us to round up the “God hates fags” members when they protest at funerals, charge and punish them, and furthermore prevent them from spreading their hate to impressionable children. They would be legally enjoined from commiting further defamations and incitements to violence.

    No this is not ‘hate crime’ legislation. No it is not thought crime legislation. No it is not a violation of anyones “religious rights”. I’m quite familiar with natural rights theory and the kinds of activities that I’m advocating be outlawed are in fact trespasses. That is they fall outside the boundaries of what is protected by natural rights.

    Viewed correctly, what many people consider “restrictions” on free speech are not truly restrictions at all. Natural rights only extend to the point where you are not trespassing against others. You have property rights but that does not extend to stabbing “your” knife into someone elses body. You have freedom of speech but you cannot use that to interfere with other pooples freedom of assembly and bodily rights by fraudulently screaming fire in theater (crowded or not).

    Defamation is itself a crime in that it is fraudulent interference in peoples right to association. If you lie and claim that “Joes theater is a fire trap” when it isn’t then you are in fact interfering with Joe and his customers right of freedom of association.

    Likewise when you make wholesale and gross overgenralization about entire groups then you are interfering with each members freedom of association. It’s one thing to claim that Islam is an evil ideology and quite another to claim that Muslims are all greedy. Those Muslims who in fact you have no reasonable cause to believe are greedy have in fact been defamed by such a statement.

    You can further aggravate the crime by claiming that a infallible diety has made this charge, and then teach it to impressionable individuals, (or worse yet enact it into law. An aside here, yes, I think that their are meta-legal crimes. Enacting slavery into law is in fact criminal. Although my current argument does not rest on this.)

    Take this quote in the Quran as an example:

    2:96 And thou wilt find them [the Jews] greediest of mankind for life and (greedier) than the idolaters. (Each) one of them would like to be allowed to live a thousand years. And to live (a thousand years) would be no means remove him from the doom. Allah is Seer of what they do.

    This is a baseless charge that defames every Jew who is not greedy. It is based on a gross overgeneralization about an entire group and a reasonable person test would show that it’s unreasonable to believe every Jew is greedy.

    This directly harms Jews by interfereing in their freedom of association with the individuals being brainwashed with this garbage. There are other and worse passages that say not to befriend Jews, and even incite the crime of extortion against Jews, Christians and others. After all the Jizya is “protection money” a kind of extortion, as in, “You Jews wouldn’t want anything to happen to you. Not paying the Jizya would nullify our agreement to protect you against well, our own actions”.

    I own several copies of the Quran and they contain the prior passage, other defamations, and incitements. Doesn’t that mean I’m a criminal according to my views? Aren’t I, like Wilder, into book banning? Well, NO.

    You see, I treat this like any work of fiction. My having this book is no different than me having Mein Kampf, the Communist Manifesto, or a violent work of fiction. Because I treat it as fiction and not fact, and do not advocate the criminal activities or defamations described in the books I’ve commited no crime.

    In fact I think it important that we have access to the Quran in order to criticize it. By doing so I am fighting crime.

    Just as I would not be responsible as the owner or author of a work of fiction for third party crimes committed on account of reading those works. In fact, claiming something is fictional is the opposite of defamation. In defamation the untruthful is claimed to be true. So no my proposed laws would not hold authors accountable in any way for copycat crimes committed on the basis of reading a work of fiction.

    Nor would it apply to non-fiction books that are factually accurate. Part of the requirement of defamation is the the statements must be false.

    Defamation also includes the criteria of malice and I think it quite clear that the “God hates fags” crowd has malice. Malice being established not only by direct expression but by continued financial and other support for malicious statements.

    Nor do we need to strap people down and do mind probes to find out what they really think. The crimes are all based on physical acts such as communication.

    So no this is not a violation of free speech rights, religious rights, rights to assembly, or any other rights. No it is not about thought crime, or book banning.

  191. #191 Brian Macker
    March 30, 2008

    Actually that passage I quoted also defames Jews who are greedy since it alone cannot be used as the basis for a reasonable belief that any particular Jew is greedy. Making such potentially harmful claims is negligent even in the case where they just happen to turn out to be true in specific cases.

  192. #192 laserboy
    March 30, 2008

    #176:
    So after 100 years of militants attempting to radicalise Islam and after 50 years of immigration and no fallen countries, I am supposed to quake with fear or run round waving a pitchfork?

    After 100 years, radical Islam an claim exactly two victories: Iran and Afghanistan. And both of those required that the west play stupid games.

    Forgive me if I am unswayed by your evidence free assertions

  193. #193 Nick Gotts
    March 30, 2008

    Carlie, no-one is complaining about “criticism of Islam”. We’re complaining about linking to and (initially) apparent approval of a film by a notorious bigot, which film is clearly aimed at increasing inter-communal tensions in the Netherlands. That does not mean the film should be suppressed (little danger of that given the nature of the Internet), but we still haven’t had anything close to a reasonable explanation of why PZM felt it appropriate to link to it in the way he did. If he wanted to say “I doubt if comparative religion classes would cover the worst parts of religion”, why not just say so; and perhaps give us examples covering more than one religion? After all, if we’re talking about the USA, which religion’s worst aspects are most likely to be downplayed in comparative religion classes. Hint: the answer is not “Islam”.

    I don’t think PZM is a racist, though I couldn’t say the same for some of those posting here, but I do think he made a big mistake, and has real problems admitting to error. Perhaps some of the rather excessive adulation for him I’ve seen from posters on this blog in the few days I’ve been following it, has gone to his head?

  194. #194 Brian Macker
    March 30, 2008

    #190:
    Well actually it’s been 1400 years and every single Muslim country is a fallen country. Who said it would only take 50 years in the first place? It’s not like there is completely open immigration.

    “After 100 years, radical Islam an claim exactly two victories: Iran and Afghanistan. And both of those required that the west play stupid games.”

    Depends on your definition of radical Islam. I think Saudi Arabia is pretty damn radical. Egypt, Syria, and on and on. Even the ones that are held as shining lights of moderation are no better than apartheid states.

    Even by your milqetoast definition. Radical Islam has claimed more than just Iran and Afghanistan. Are you forgetting the power of Hamas (and previously Fatah) in palestein. What about the effect radical Islam has had on Lebannon, and many other countries.

    Would you be satisfied if your countries government didn’t fall but we had the kind of social havoc that has been practiced in those countries.

    I guess all the flaming cars in France, rapes of non-muslim women in the Scandinavian countries, murders of film makers, legal terrorism in Canada, and religious accommodation (nay accommadation of religious bigtry) doesn’t bother you.

    Color me unconvinced by your ability to pay attention.

  195. #195 Beowulff
    March 30, 2008

    People here have pointed out that it would be easy enough to make a similar movie with quotes from the Bible. Actually, the Arab European League made a movie just like that in response to Fitna: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9z7-PXnGqM
    After the bible quotes, the next few minutes seem like a pretty accurate description of Wilders, but then it gets a bit weird with Zionist conspiracy theories. Too bad they don’t have anything constructive to offer either.

  196. #196 Brian Macker
    March 30, 2008

    “… aimed at increasing inter-communal tensions in the Netherlands.”

    Yeah, like those damn Yankees who had the audacity to speak up for the rights of Blacks in the south. Hell that might even lead to an increase in lynchings. Wouldn’t want that, would we.

  197. #197 campa
    March 30, 2008

    Teach religion separately as both History and Philosophy(amongst all other major and academically accepted philosophies).

    Examples of religion-incited shock-violence should be the last thing on the curriculum what with enough doctrine and politics to study so as to *actually* learn something about these religions and their place in the history of humanity and one’s life. Any gore shown would be a implicit negative bias and only teach to a “gonzo tabloids circus” level mentality that mass media is diseased with today. Why have young minds focus on loony-bin hi-jinks with so much to learn? Or are we trying to make “voters” instead of “thinkers”?

  198. #198 Brian Macker
    March 30, 2008

    Beowulff,

    They’ve been spewing that kind of hate since before I was born. Hell they have childrens programs where Mickey Mouse teaches racism, hate, and violence. Nothing new their.

    In fact they are practicing tu quoque, a fallacy.

    Furthermore they are wrong. Those passages are NOT being treated by Christians in the same way that Muslims treat their vile passages.

  199. #199 Richard Harris
    March 30, 2008

    laserboy, you reply, “Forgive me if I am unswayed by your evidence free assertions.”

    Just because it hasn’t happened so far, well, not for a few centuries, doesn’t mean Submission can’t take over swathes of Europe again. Not by military conquest, perhaps, but by attacks from within. Within decades, Moslems will become the majority of the population for younger age groups in some European countries, if present birth rates continue.

    As the Submissionists gain political clout, their demands, supported by threats against free speach, will almost certainly erode our freedoms.

  200. #200 OMM 0190
    March 30, 2008

    Great video! I am a recent convert to the idea that Islam is a totally backwards religion with little redeeming value that is more than offset by its deleterious elements.

    Allah sucks, Mohamed was a backwards ignorant child molester and Moslems themselves are bound in mental chains by a retrograde medieval book that offers no value to the world.

    Except in very isolated pockets, fundamentalist Christianity has nothing on moderate Islam.

  201. #201 1of63
    March 30, 2008

    @#154

    But the weird thing is that he shows all this evidence that it’s marginalized males meeting on soccer fields who are doing the terrorism, that they go off in cheap, crowded flats, stop bathing, read the Koran obsessively, start praying 5 times a day with great fervor, and decide to start blowing up their enemies…

    See, that doesn’t really surprise me.

    I’d expect the real trouble to come from marginalized young males who gather quietly in small groups to nurse a festering sense of grievance. It gives them a sense of purpose, makes them feel big. It’s probably not so different from what drives the school shooters.

    The rabble-rousing preachers and their fired-up congregations are not going to be the real trouble. They’re able to vent their resentment as hot air.

    It’s the nice quiet, polite, smiling, helpful guys who go home to their dingy little apartments to whip up a batch of explosives, build bombs and plot where they can be planted to cause maximum casualties.

    Is religion the cause or is it like gas thrown on the glowing embers of a pre-existing sense of grievance, explaining it in terms of a war against Evil and justifying the extreme measures they use to fight it?

  202. #202 Nick Gotts
    March 30, 2008

    “”… aimed at increasing inter-communal tensions in the Netherlands.”

    Yeah, like those damn Yankees who had the audacity to speak up for the rights of Blacks in the south. Hell that might even lead to an increase in lynchings. Wouldn’t want that, would we.” – Brian Macker

    What the hell do you think you are trying to say? In case you missed it, Wilders is a member of the white majority in the Netherlands, who has made a political career out of whipping up hatred against the largely dark-skinned Muslims. A bit different from “speaking up for the rights of Blacks”? He may use crimes against women and gays in his propaganda, but expresses his commitment to “Judeo-Christian values” (he was raised a Catholic) – which suggests a degree of opportunism. He claims to support free speech but wants to ban the Koran. He proclaims his libertarianism, but advocates introducing administrative detention (i.e. locking people up without convicting them of any crime) in the Netherlands. Admire him, do you?

  203. #203 Beowulff
    March 30, 2008

    Brian Macker: of course it’s a tu quoque, and didn’t I mention that they don’t have anything constructive to add? But please be careful with your use of “they”: sometimes you seem to just mean the movie makers, other times it sounds like you just refer to “Them Muslims”, maybe even in a “Us Vs Them” kind of way.

    The fact that most (but not all) Christians don’t seem to take those parts of the Bible literal anymore is noted, but you paint Muslims with too broad a brush if you think all of them take the Quran literally. But does it matter? How do modern Christians and modern Muslims know which parts they should take literally, and which not? Clearly everybody picks and chooses. How they choose is probably far more influenced by cultural economical and political circumstances than religion.

  204. #204 Jim Harrison
    March 30, 2008

    Mr. Macker is obviously a pretty marginal character so it hardly matters what he thinks. Still, it is interesting to watch him tie himself into a pretzel as he types eight-seven paragraphs to claim that his proposed denial of freedom of speech and religion is “not a violation of free speech rights, religious rights, rights to assembly, or any other rights,” presumably because he says it isn’t.

    For the record, I think of these anti-Muslim screeds as racist because they create an artificial group as an object of hate and fear and then assign it a fixed essence. The ascription involved doesn’t have to be biological. People who hate Jews or Muslims may imagine that they are despising their enemies because of their evil nature or their evil culture. After all, even the paradigm case of negritude isn’t really biological since the people who are identified as black, at least in the U.S., typically have mixed ancestry–if “blood” were really what we are talking about, after all, it would be as logical to call Malcolm X a white man as a black man.

  205. #205 tsig
    March 30, 2008

    This whole comment section shows why religion is such a vile idea.

    None of Islam’s defenders deny that beheadings, amputation and and mutilations take place, yet they only say it’s the work of extremists. What continuum has that as an extreme?

    If I were to form a group today and declare that We were supposed to rule the world and the way to do it was the kill or enslave the rest of humanity and that god told me to do it I would be arrested as criminally insane…or hailed as a prophet if I won.

  206. #206 Brian Macker
    March 30, 2008

    Nick Gotts,

    “Admire him do you”.

    Not particularly.

    “In case you missed it, Wilders is a member of the white majority in the Netherlands”

    What does that matter. In case, you missed it often slavers were in the minority in the communities they operated.

    Also, in case you missed it I am referring to this video and not anything else Wilders does or does not have to say. I don’t speak his language, and I in case you missed it you can be with someone on one issue and against him on another.

    The video in fact was largely a protest against Muslim violence and intolerance. That’s what I’m “trying to say”. I’m sick of apologists trying to paint every objection to Islam as some kind of racism or phobia. It doesn’t wash.

    Nor does bundling one set of ideas with another work to discredit them. Islam is apartheid and of course white racists aren’t going to like that. Doesn’t mean that protesting and controlling Islam is wrong.

  207. #207 Beowulff
    March 30, 2008

    Brian Macker: protesting Islam is fine, controlling it is wrong.

  208. #208 Brian Macker
    March 30, 2008

    Jim,

    “Mr. Macker is obviously a pretty marginal character so it hardly matters what he thinks.”

    Yeah well, being an atheist, I’m used to ignorant and fallacious thinking like that. Mind telling the rest of the atheists here that what they think doesn’t matter because their “marginal”.

    “For the record, I think of these anti-Muslim screeds as racist because they create an artificial group as an object of hate and fear and then assign it a fixed essence. ”

    Didn’t happen, liar. It wasn’t an anti-Muslim screed either. It applies to any group, including white christians and if you paid a modicum of attention you would have noticed that I explicitly used them as a specific example.

    You apparently have no sense of intellecutal honor or ethics, and don’t care about precision in your thinking.

    Do you use speed reading methods and only absorb random words that trigger your emotions? Seems that way.

    When you have a credible statement to make about what I actually said get back to me. Until that time I’ll treat you like every other race baiter here.

    “People who hate Jews or Muslims may imagine that they are despising their enemies because of their evil nature or their evil culture.”

    I don’t despise muslims. I’ve even helped Muslims who live here in the US and have sent charity via the Red Cross to the tsunami victims.

    Do you always jump to conclusions like this?

    “After all, even the paradigm case of negritude isn’t really biological since .. blah .. blah”.

    Spare us your marginal theories.

    “Still, it is interesting to watch him tie himself into a pretzel as he types eight-seven paragraphs to claim that his proposed denial of freedom of speech and religion is “not a violation of free speech rights, religious rights, rights to assembly, or any other rights,” presumably because he says it isn’t. ”

    Probably because you are uneducated in rights theory. I was merely explaining in detail. Probably lost on someone who imagines that Islam is a race and confuses criticism of religion with hatred for members of said religion. Confused much are you? Muslims don’t have the right to call for my murder from the pulpit and claim “religious freedom”. Only someone like you would think that.

  209. #209 Ian H Spedding FCD
    March 30, 2008

    Actually, it really pisses me off when people get all preachy about racism. I start from the premiss that we’re all racist at some level. Anyone who thinks they’re truly free of it is not being honest with themselves.

    We make sense of the world by classifying it – me/not-me, Us/Them, North/ South – you name it. At some levels, it’s instinctive. Racism is just a form of classification. It’s morally wrong for all the reasons that people have given but that doesn’t stop it happening. It’s a distortion, if you like, of a natural ability that otherwise serves us well.

    People call Darwin a racist and by our standards he was. But so are the people who call him that. He was a human being with all the frailties of our species and he was a man of his times. He couldn’t have been anything else. Neither can the people who slander him.

    All we can do, as Richard Dawkins pointed out, is use our conscious minds to try and override or at least moderate our instinctive drives.

    We have religious groups who use guns and bombs to kill members of other religious groups. Hell, we have gangs of thugs who hate and fight other gangs of thugs simply because they “support” a different soccer team.

    We have Muslims hating Christians, Christians hating Muslims, different Christian sects and denominations hating each other, all religions hating atheists and atheists hating the lot.

    Here we have the evolutionists hating the creationists and the Paleyists and vice-versa. What’s the difference between that and racism apart from the fact that, in our society, one is marginally more acceptable than the other?

  210. #210 Hank Fox
    March 30, 2008

    Some of us need to calm down. PZ didn’t post the video here. He posted a LINK to it. Among people who value the free exchange of information and ideas, this is not out of order.

    PZ, it’s not only commenters here unhappy with this video, though:

    Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist of one of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons of Muhammed, has expressed concerns because his cartoon is used in the film without his permission, a violation of copyright.The Danish Union of Journalists has said it will file a lawsuit on Westergaard’s behalf as he is still in hiding from the death threats against him.

    Too funny, huh?

    I don’t like Christianity. I think it’s one of the worst things ever to happen to humanity, and the planet Earth.

    But considering that I live in this time, long after the Inquisition and such, Islam actually scares me more.

    I can’t get away from the fact that it was Muslims – not Christians or Buddhists or Jews or even Scientologists – who flew those planes into the Twin Towers.

    All this talk about the film being made by a notorious bigot, or the use of propaganda techniques, I can take that into account and I’m still left with film clips of real atrocities.

    Beheading women?? Shee-it, you don’t get THAT act in western religious freak shows. It doesn’t matter who brought it to my attention, or how bad a person he was. The act itself, the fact that it happened at all, is completely disgusting.

    Yes, yes, yes, there are millions of wonderful people who also happen to be Muslims. But me being an atheist, I’m pretty sure they’re wonderful people because they’re wonderful people, and NOT because they’re Muslims.

    Just as Christianity is good stuff mixed in with poisonous shit, Islam itself is good stuff mixed in with poisonous shit. As it stands today, the poisonous shit in Islam is scarier than the poisonous shit in Christianity.

    The fact that lots of people can swallow small doses of the poisonous shit and still function, even still be wonderful people, is testament to the people themselves, and not to Islam, or Christianity.

    My dream is that we can have a world in which we recognize that the main goal is GOODNESS itself. And not Goodness arrived at as an accidental byproduct of Religion A, Religion B or Religion C, all with unhealthy helpings of poisonous shit.

    Shy away from it as you will, bend over backwards to generously allow for respect for other peoples’ culture, it’s still a mistake to not notice the poisonous shit.

    Scream at me as loud as you like that I shouldn’t be afraid of gentle, well-meaning Islam. I still am. Because I can’t help seeing the poisonous shit, and the real-world results of it.

    Some of us here don’t seem to understand the difference between “our” religious radicals and “their” religious radicals.

    Given their own country, I really believe people like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson would have public executions less than five years after taking over, and it would be for stuff like adultery, or being gay.

    The difference is this: In the west, we don’t let them.

    In the west, it’s not just the common Christians who have to be nice people. In the west, even the radical fundamentalist Christians have to be nice. We place sharp limits on their hate speech, on their hectoring others to go out and kill. Falwell and Robertson said some ugly stuff in their time, but neither of them dared actually encourage people to go out and murder unbelievers.

    Yeah, we’ve had some rogue Christians who’ve shot doctors at women’s health care clinics. And you know what we did? We put them in prison.

    We have Christian parents killing their sick kids by praying over them instead of getting them to doctors. That act inspires almost universal horror here, and triggers the intervention of doctors, police and judges. It gets reported as shock news – news stories that are framed from the get-go as “Here’s something REALLY nasty.”

    Islamic radicals committing acts of violence are inexcusable. Unacceptable. Intolerable. And yet, we seem to be laying an argumentative groundwork in which they are in some ways excused, accepted and tolerated: That’s only the violent lunatic fringe!

    Sure, they’re the violent lunatic fringe of Islam. But I still can’t help but notice that Christianity has no such violent lunatic fringe equivalent. And that makes me think there’s something wrong with Islam itself.

    Until Islamic radicals are transformed into the mouthy-but-nonviolent equivalent of Falwells and Robertsons, I’m going to continue to be concerned about, wary of – scared by – Islam.

    A first necessary step to dealing with all this is a surgical focus on the radical speakers.

    Every religious leader inciting followers to deadly violence against others has to be arrested and sent to jail. Every one, every time, everywhere. This includes Islamic imams.

    This is not a matter of disrespect for culture, or deliberately offering insults to innocent Muslims, it’s a matter of “Here’s something a peaceful multicultural society can’t tolerate.” It’s something that has to be fixed, no matter whose nose gets out of joint over it.

    As yet, we don’t have it. I fancy an official making such a statement in public would spark massive protests and probably no small amount of violence.

    I also fancy it wouldn’t be Christians doing the rioting.

  211. #211 Brian Macker
    March 30, 2008

    Beowulff,

    Be specific about an instance in which I was using “they” in a way you felt was improper. I’ll clue you into who I was referring to. It should be obvious from context.

    I’m sick of this kind of “throw the bone” prognosticating about other peoples inner states of mind based on misreadings of their writings, fishing for signs, and the like. Is use of the word “they” now a sign of racism.

    I was owning some other commenter here named with a Greek male sounding handle once and assumed it was a he. She feinged or worse actually was offended that I had made the assumption and was all ready to pounce on me for being a male chavanist bigot, or something.

    Myers even chimed in, trying to work the ad homenim to fruition. I at first didn’t even realize why I assume she was male and thought it was due to male soundingness of “Bear” as a handle. Thurs out it was the greek ending of “os” which is male that triggered my truly unimportant mistake.

    It’s tiresome to have to deflect ad homenim attacks based on PC paranoia all the time. Or attacks like Nick Gotts based on total failure to properly interpret the point being made.

    Here’s a clue for a few of you here, make an minimal attempt to try to interpret what is being said in a reasonalbe manner and try not to always select the least charitable one. Like thinking that someone is my hero because I happen to agree with only part of what he had to say.

    In fact I went out of my way to point out how I disagree with Wilders. I don’t think the Quran should be banned, and to further clarify I don’t think Muslims immigration should be halted nor should there be forced emigration. In fact, I actually have helped a Muslim with his immigration into the US, and was for completely open immigration prior to 9/11 (except for criminals).

    I’ve changed my mind since then.

    I can and have used the same type of philosophical arguments to argue against the burning of crosses on your own property. This I have argued against libertarians who felt that if you own the property, the cross, and have the proper fire controls in place then why shouldn’t you be able to burn a cross.

    It’s actually pretty simple. The metrics in this case is the question of whether “cross burning” is a threat and if a reasonable person should take it as such. Of course it counts as speech, but what kind, and is it protected by free speech rights. Well it’s already established law that certain types of speech is not protected (for those who are ignorant and think it marginal).

    Now I could write quite a few paragraphs laying this out by I wouldn’t want to confuse intellecutal luddites who might take it as twisting myself in knots.

  212. #212 Jim Harrison
    March 30, 2008

    Objecting the current anti-Muslim rhetoric on the grounds that it is racist is not some academic point. The American right wing, with the help of the mass media, are turning Islam into a monolithic enemy; and a large part of the public is buying this line. The Republicans routinely speak of any Muslim group not positively subservient to U.S. interests as subhuman monsters. Do you think this way of speaking doesn’t have real-world consequences? There are an appreciable number of people around who actually think that dhimmitude is in our future if we don’t bomb Iran next Tuesday. John McCain is infinitely more dangerous than a handful of extremist nuts sitting around a motel.

    I’ve been an atheist for a very long time because I noticed that the universe is not haunted. I don’t feel that recognizing this unsurprising fact obligates me to ritually denounce religion. It was enough to discover that that religious ideas are false. Since religion is pretty much coextensive with humanity, it shares in both the good and bad that men do. Like Atran and many others, I don’t see that the evidence supports the theory that religion is the root of all evil, which is a good thing since it is probably not going away. Islam isn’t going to disappear either.

  213. #213 Brian Macker
    March 30, 2008

    “Yes, yes, yes, there are millions of wonderful people who also happen to be Muslims. But me being an atheist, I’m pretty sure they’re wonderful people because they’re wonderful people, and NOT because they’re Muslims. ”

    Yes, and I’m pretty sure there are plenty of members of the Nazi party back in Germany when hitler was in power that one could have a nice stein of beer with. I’m not being sarcastic here. Many nice people conform when the social pressure is beyond what they have the power to change.

    I don’t blame those who really have no choice but to go along. There are plenty of secular muslims, atheist muslims, ignorant muslims, etc. How can you blame someone who has been essentially kept in forced isolation from the truth.

    On the converse, pointing out all the nice muslims (or Nazis) has no bearing on how evil the ideology is.

  214. #214 j.t.delaney
    March 30, 2008

    The video in fact was largely a protest against Muslim violence and intolerance. That’s what I’m “trying to say”. I’m sick of apologists trying to paint every objection to Islam as some kind of racism or phobia. It doesn’t wash.

    You really don’t have a clue — not about life in the Netherlands, not about Muslim immigrants, and certainly not about Geert Wilders. Wilders’ agenda is *all* about racism, and this movie was made with every intention of inflaming ethnic tensions in a part of the world you don’t really know the first thing about. He writes laws that make inodrinately life difficult for taxi drivers, housewives, students and janitors — not politicians, imams, or militants. I’m not a Muslim apologist — not by a long shot. I’m an atheist, through-and-through. This isn’t a case of just *any* objection to Islam, rather, it’s a very specific case of a very overtly racist politician making a movie specifically designed to be very antagonistic to a scapegoated ethnic minority that has no real political voice.

    What does that matter. In case, you missed it often slavers were in the minority in the communities they operated.

    Wow, WTF.

    PZ, this is why playing with islamophobe-bait is nothing but firewater. Do you really want to attract stuff like this? Really, this belongs in Little Green Footballs — not scienceblogs. I mean, you gotta do what you gotta do, but these are the folks that will come out of the woodwork.

  215. #215 Steve_C
    March 30, 2008

    Geeze. You really are a tool.

  216. #216 Brian Macker
    March 30, 2008

    Ian,

    “Actually, it really pisses me off when people get all preachy about racism.”

    I’m with you here. It’s a pet peeve of mine. Especially when it’s coupled with a double standard. The racist rants of Jeremy Wright coming to mind, or his replacement Rev. Moss, or the Reverend who called Obama a Mac Daddy and criticized his maternal parentage. All hypocrites.

    You sort of lost me however when you said this:
    “Here we have the evolutionists hating the creationists and the Paleyists and vice-versa. What’s the difference between that and racism apart from the fact that, in our society, one is marginally more acceptable than the other?”

    I personally don’t hate creationist but I have seen evolutionist expressing such hatred. It doesn’t amount to racism for many reasons. Creationist, in their behavior, are practicing willfull ignorance, and are attempting to force their religious beliefs on others politically.

    They are being “hated” precisely for a bad attribute, and not for some uncorrelated one like black skin. Furthermore, there is little likelyhood that this “hatred” is going to bleed into other areas like refusing them housing, redlining, lynchings and the like. There is no history of force and persecution to go along with the “hatred”.

    Being excluded from a professorship in biology because you don’t understand evolution is not done for bigoted reasons. The reasons are relevant to the job. Just like we don’t hire the blind as crosswalk guards.

    In fact, there is a long legacy of persecution of scientists by the religious that runs in the other direction.

    So, none of the things that attach to racism apply here.

  217. #217 Brian Macker
    March 30, 2008

    “Wow, WTF.”

    Owned.

    “You really don’t have a clue — not about life in the Netherlands, not about Muslim immigrants, and certainly not about Geert Wilders.”

    Why should I care about a marginalized fellow like Geert Wilders.

    I think you need a little perspective here. The Dutch (and Wilders) aren’t stabbing notes into the chests of Muslims. Get a clue.

    What exactly do you think the Muslims are being “scapegoated” for, precisely?

    I’ve heard all your other crap before. It doesn’t impress me. It goes under the heading “I had to rape the non-Muslim girl because, well, she deserved in and besides, whaaaa, their persecuting us.” It’s the open meat in front of cats defense.

    The reality is that there is no reciprocity here. One side is truly far worse than the other. How many of the native British are commiting honor killings. On, and on.

    Remember too that the Dutch are equivalent the aborigines of their country. Polls show that Muslims are very much about getting outraged about Jews moving into Israel (they originally were buying the land from the Arabs). What a double standard. Liberals buy this garbage also.

  218. #218 Djur
    March 30, 2008

    Beheading women?? Shee-it, you don’t get THAT act in western religious freak shows.

    No, Americans prefer a more sophisticated approach to their mass murder.

  219. #219 Nick Gotts
    March 30, 2008

    “The video in fact was largely a protest against Muslim violence and intolerance.” – Brian Macker

    Crap. It was a deliberate attempt to incite hatred against Muslims, and to provoke Muslim extremists to violence. That’s Wilders’ whole aim. I’ll give you the benefit of assuming you’re too ignorant about European politics to know better.

    “Islam is apartheid and of course white racists aren’t going to like that.”

    Well, that sentence looks like it’s written in English, but since it makes absolutely no sense, I guess it’s in Mackerese. Could we have a translation please?

  220. #220 Ichthyic
    March 30, 2008

    I’ll give you the benefit of assuming you’re too ignorant

    that’s a good assumption in Macker’s case. All you have to do is search for his previous “contributions” to support your assumption.

  221. #221 Brian Macker
    March 30, 2008

    Nick,

    “It was a deliberate attempt to incite hatred against Muslims, and to provoke Muslim extremists to violence.”

    Bullshit back. Most people are commenting that it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as what they expected from a racist like Wilders.

    “Islam is apartheid and of course white racists aren’t going to like that.”

    That means that Islam is a religious apartheid system. If you were “in the know” then you’d realize that. Non-muslims are treated as second class citizens. Which of course a bunch of racists who think they are superior to non-Dutch are not going to take a liking to. No right thinking person should, but it hardly makes pointing out the flaws of Islam into “racism”.

    I known that Wilders is potentially a racist for quite a while. It’s not important to me or to any of my arguments. I know and don’t care what his motivations are.

    What these particular Muslims are doing is wrong. We need as many people as possible exercising their rights to free speech in a way that provokes them so that they have less targets for their hate. Muslims can’t just lynch people because they criticize their religion.

    Yes, he’s “provoking” them, and that’s a good thing. More people need to “provoke” them. I put the scare quotes because as far as I can tell the provoking merely consists of exercising an individual right to criticize an supremacist ideology.

    Instead of attacking the messenger here why don’t you concentrate on the message. Precisely and specifically what did you find racist in the message?

  222. #222 Jeffery Wang
    March 30, 2008

    Well said Hank Fox. Very well said. I’d love to think logic like yours could be universal. From the comments that have shown up here—on a rationalist, scientific site, no less—it’s obvious we have a long way to go to divorce ourselves from the apologists and the extreme political correctness that asserts all culture exists as equals (as if anyone could be in their right mind to consider female genital mutilation morally relative).

  223. #223 bargal20
    March 30, 2008

    “(But no, Wilders’ film would not be appropriate as educational material either — it’s too dishonest. Some of the elements in it, including some of the most shocking bits, are genuine, though.)”

    You’re full of shit, PZ. You didn’t have to link to a wingnut’s hate propaganda to get your message across. Your anti-Wilder comments were added much later to the original post and link to his film, a point you don’t “clarify” for latecomers.
    The footage you needed for your otherwise valid message was available in numerous other places.

    Al Qaeida motivational training films contain genuine bits about US war crimes. Do you think it would be sensible or moral to link to them when talking about US military action in the Middle-East?

    You screwed up. You know it.

  224. #224 Brian Macker
    March 30, 2008

    Smart of Ichtyic to keep his post short as it’s highly likely if he wrote more than one sentence he make some ridiculous error.

    Oops wrong. Despite his tiny post he in fact made the wrong assumption. I’m not so ignorant on European politics. Not being a fan of Wilders, and him not being on my reading list, I don’t particularly care what the hell he has to say on the issue of race, immigration and the like.

    Since Ichtyic, that not such a deep thinker, decided to chime in with approval for this sentence I’ll address it directly.

    “That’s Wilders’ whole aim. I’ll give you the benefit of assuming you’re too ignorant about European politics to know better.”

    Well first off, Nick, how do you know what his “whole aim” is. I see multiple aims and some of them are quite respectable. Which is precisely why Prof. Myers linked to it.

    I was aware long ago that he was being claimed to be a racist and I think it quite a reasonable assumption, based on what I’ve read about him. I haven’t read his stuff first hand so, of course, there is a possibility I’m wrong in my assumption. Racism is a charge that is freely used in some circles. That and calling people Facists (as you might recall I had objected to the overuse of the term here before).

    Secondly, I’m well aware of many differences between the way the Europeans treat Muslim immigrants and we do. That’s part an parcel with the expected effects of socialism.

    You are aware that unionization was used as a tool by racists to exclude blacks not only in the US but in South Africa. Hell, the unions in South Africa screamed for equal wages for blacks knowing full well the economic result, lower black employment. Read some Thomas Sowell, he’s a black economist, to ken what’s going on here.

    In short, the economic point being, that socialism makes the economic costs of racism fall on people other than the racist. Under a free market the businessman has to pay for his discrimination through his pocketbook.

    So Muslims are facing economic hurdles in Europe that they don’t face here.

    It’s the very thing, socialism, some here find so brilliant about Europe that is one of the contributing factors in the problems the are having there with Muslims. Ignorant that you are, you instead think libertarians are “the debil”.

    There is no reason that Muslims could not integrate into European society but they need to be acculturated. Which requires public schools. How un-libertarian of me (just twisting the knife in Icky for some of his assumptions about my politics).

    Furthermore it requires that hate speeches given from the pulpits of their Mosques be monitored and outlawed. It may even require a reduction in the influx of Muslims to a rate at which assimilation is possible.

    I take a lot of the other excuses for Muslim violence as bullshit because that is precisely what they are. There is absolutely no reason for the antisemetic attacks being perpetrated by Muslims in Europe. No reason for the many other things I won’t bother to go into detail about.

    One other thing Europeans and the British need to do is to lose their antisemitism. It’s absolutly unbelievable what I hear coming out of the mouths of educated Europeans and Brits. They are totally ignorant on the history of Israel and believe every faked up story out of Palliwood they see. The are entirely oblivious to the fact that the news media is even more biased that that of the US.

    Perhaps if they’d stop feeding into the Islamic racism about Jews, and Israel the Muslims would be more reasonable like the Jews.

    In many cases European media organizations are state run. It doesn’t help when the run false stories like the Al-Dura affair.

    I don’t keep track of every European racist but I am aware of a few Le Pen and Filip DeWinter. I know about the Vlaams Belang.

    Pardon me for my ignorance of any deep knowledge of the political machinations of any particular state in Europe. Especially, one so tiny as the Netherlands. Hell the US
    poops states bigger than that. I’m sure if I went to the Netherlands the average fellow wouldn’t know much about the politics of New York, California, or Florida. I don’t really blame them.

    What’s really funny is that some of you guys claim to be scientists and yet you also seem to be into mind reading. Ichthyic in particular. Please refrain from reading motives into other peoples writings that aren’t there. You certainly don’t have one clue about what I do and don’t know about anything till I make an error.

    I don’t recall ever claiming Wilders wasn’t a racist. I think it immaterial.

  225. #225 Sonja
    March 30, 2008

    I enjoyed the Grieg (Death of Ase from Peer Gynt) in the film, one of my favorites.

  226. #226 Brian Macker
    March 30, 2008

    Bargal20,

    Are you a Democrat? I’m sure that with your sensitivities you’ve ripped up your membership card and mailed it back to headquarters. What with the protege of a racist being the frontrunner and all.

    I’m sure you’ll agree the twenty foot pole you want Prof. Myers to use needs to be applied first in your own home.

    I also hope you’ve cancelled your subscription to cable too. I understand they have a comedy channel with Chris Rock on it. If you’ve ever heard is routines on “Crackers” or that one where he talks about “N____s” you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

  227. #227 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 30, 2008

    #26, I think you misunderstood me. I asked do religious people believe in heaven. The answer is yes. They do believe in heaven. Without this belief there would have been no 9/11.

    And that’s simply not the case.

    Belief in an afterlife helps kamikaze attacks, but it isn’t necessary. Witness the PKK and the LTTE, who conducted lots of suicide bombings not very long ago. The LTTE are nationalists who worship, if anything, their leader, and the PKK are Stalinists (complete with personality cult). To get yourself killed for a cause, you don’t need to believe in an afterlife. All you need to believe is that that cause is worth dying for.

    There are plenty of places on earth where women are chattels and Jews are non-persons. Why should the Netherlands become another one?

    And what on the planet makes you think there is even the slightest danger that it would ever become one, no matter what any religious moron preaches?

    Really, what are you afraid of?

    The meta-narrative of this movie was: extremist ideologies are dangerous, dishonest, divisive, disruptive, and – at the risk of killing the alliteration – retarded.

    Why not “dumb”? :-)

    So maybe Michael Moore has one more job to do?

    “One”? :-)

    Yes but North Korea still enforces absolute atheism.

    That’s really stretching it. Kim Il-Sung is the only communist to ever have got an afterlife (he’s still president of the DPRK),

    and the official doctrine is heavily mysticized to the point where it’s starting to sound like the catholic trinity all over again: Il Sung, Jong Il, and the holy spirit of leadership.

    LOL! I’d rather say the holy spirit of Juche ideology… BTW, it is official dogma that the Son was born on one of Korea’s traditional holy mountains, when in fact he was born in Siberian exile.

    What does “comparative” religion mean anyway? Comparing religions to see which one is better? I don’t think we have comparative history or art or literature.

    Huh? My sister is studying “comparatistics” — comparative literature. It is possible to compare without trying to show that one is better.

    And fuck commenting systems that turn off formatting codes at the end of a paragraph rather than at the off code.

    Did you preview? Correlation: I never do and never have this problem.

    France has had some problems but they are economic rather than religion

    A few suburbs have had problems, not all of France or even of Paris.

    In the West, we must resist it, because population demographics are on the side of these enemies of reason.

    — The birthrates of immigrants drop to the country’s average after a generation or two.
    — Ignorance is not inheritable, especially in countries where homeschooling is forbidden and the schools are actually funded to the point that they actually work.

    Islam is not ‘just’ a religion. It’s a political system designed to crush the human spirit. It is the worst of religion combined with the worst of totalitarianism.

    Which religion is “just” a religion?

    “… aimed at increasing inter-communal tensions in the Netherlands.”

    Yeah, like those damn Yankees who had the audacity to speak up for the rights of Blacks in the south. Hell that might even lead to an increase in lynchings. Wouldn’t want that, would we.

    If you really believe in this comparison, you are paranoid.

    Within decades, Moslems will become the majority of the population for younger age groups in some European countries, if present birth rates continue.

    Evidence, please. Also evidence that the present birth numbers will continue. Lastly, evidence that Islam can’t bleach out like Christianity has done — and as Islam is already doing in secular countries, including Albania and Bosnia where a secular attitude has a long tradition.

    Sure, they’re the violent lunatic fringe of Islam. But I still can’t help but notice that Christianity has no such violent lunatic fringe equivalent. And that makes me think there’s something wrong with Islam itself.

    Four and five paragraphs above this, you already answered this question: in the West, the Enlightenment has taken place. That’s a question of politics and philosophy, not of religion. As you say yourself: given their own country, the Foulwills of this world would have public executions within a few years, too.

  228. #228 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 30, 2008

    #26, I think you misunderstood me. I asked do religious people believe in heaven. The answer is yes. They do believe in heaven. Without this belief there would have been no 9/11.

    And that’s simply not the case.

    Belief in an afterlife helps kamikaze attacks, but it isn’t necessary. Witness the PKK and the LTTE, who conducted lots of suicide bombings not very long ago. The LTTE are nationalists who worship, if anything, their leader, and the PKK are Stalinists (complete with personality cult). To get yourself killed for a cause, you don’t need to believe in an afterlife. All you need to believe is that that cause is worth dying for.

    There are plenty of places on earth where women are chattels and Jews are non-persons. Why should the Netherlands become another one?

    And what on the planet makes you think there is even the slightest danger that it would ever become one, no matter what any religious moron preaches?

    Really, what are you afraid of?

    The meta-narrative of this movie was: extremist ideologies are dangerous, dishonest, divisive, disruptive, and – at the risk of killing the alliteration – retarded.

    Why not “dumb”? :-)

    So maybe Michael Moore has one more job to do?

    “One”? :-)

    Yes but North Korea still enforces absolute atheism.

    That’s really stretching it. Kim Il-Sung is the only communist to ever have got an afterlife (he’s still president of the DPRK),

    and the official doctrine is heavily mysticized to the point where it’s starting to sound like the catholic trinity all over again: Il Sung, Jong Il, and the holy spirit of leadership.

    LOL! I’d rather say the holy spirit of Juche ideology… BTW, it is official dogma that the Son was born on one of Korea’s traditional holy mountains, when in fact he was born in Siberian exile.

    What does “comparative” religion mean anyway? Comparing religions to see which one is better? I don’t think we have comparative history or art or literature.

    Huh? My sister is studying “comparatistics” — comparative literature. It is possible to compare without trying to show that one is better.

    And fuck commenting systems that turn off formatting codes at the end of a paragraph rather than at the off code.

    Did you preview? Correlation: I never do and never have this problem.

    France has had some problems but they are economic rather than religion

    A few suburbs have had problems, not all of France or even of Paris.

    In the West, we must resist it, because population demographics are on the side of these enemies of reason.

    — The birthrates of immigrants drop to the country’s average after a generation or two.
    — Ignorance is not inheritable, especially in countries where homeschooling is forbidden and the schools are actually funded to the point that they actually work.

    Islam is not ‘just’ a religion. It’s a political system designed to crush the human spirit. It is the worst of religion combined with the worst of totalitarianism.

    Which religion is “just” a religion?

    “… aimed at increasing inter-communal tensions in the Netherlands.”

    Yeah, like those damn Yankees who had the audacity to speak up for the rights of Blacks in the south. Hell that might even lead to an increase in lynchings. Wouldn’t want that, would we.

    If you really believe in this comparison, you are paranoid.

    Within decades, Moslems will become the majority of the population for younger age groups in some European countries, if present birth rates continue.

    Evidence, please. Also evidence that the present birth numbers will continue. Lastly, evidence that Islam can’t bleach out like Christianity has done — and as Islam is already doing in secular countries, including Albania and Bosnia where a secular attitude has a long tradition.

    Sure, they’re the violent lunatic fringe of Islam. But I still can’t help but notice that Christianity has no such violent lunatic fringe equivalent. And that makes me think there’s something wrong with Islam itself.

    Four and five paragraphs above this, you already answered this question: in the West, the Enlightenment has taken place. That’s a question of politics and philosophy, not of religion. As you say yourself: given their own country, the Foulwills of this world would have public executions within a few years, too.

  229. #229 James Haight
    March 30, 2008

    I’m seeing the word “Racism” appearing amidst much hysterics on all sides, hm. I’d say it’s not entirely the right word for the situation, but I can see why people reach for it in the heat of the moment.

    I suppose it must be very easy for some to see Islam as an amorphous mass of “inferior culture.” I’d like to remind the folks making that error that when we talk about “Islam”, we’re ultimately talking about people. You know. You, me. Your mother.

    A lot of people self-identify as Muslims. A lot of those people wouldn’t even dream of doing anything even remotely like the acts portrayed in Wilders’ Fitna pamphlet, or mentioned in this thread. I suspect they’re actually in the majority, and in a great majority in the Western countries Geert Wilders seems to worry so deeply for. The newspapers and newsreels show us the ranting imams, the excesses, the terrorists, and the angry mobs – but not the people who stay home and think it’s all a load of bull, but don’t say so for fear of reprisal. Or mention the fact that many of them emigrated to said Western countries specifically to escape those excesses. Nor do they, as has been mentioned, even pay much attention to the moderates who are condemning the hatred and violence.

    All these people are innocent. Or at least not guilty of any wrongdoing that warrants tarring them with the same brush as the al-Qaeda network, or the clitoredectomy cultists. You do them a severe disservice when you fail to distinguish them from the unsavory extremists. They get upset when you do, and rightfully so. What kind of baffling quirk of thought makes people think they’re one and the same kind? What person in their right mind would, when someone says “I am a Muslim, but I condemn and lament these things”, answer with “No you don’t!”

    I think people grasp for the “racism” word because a similar fallacy lies at the heart of it; when you call a racist on his bullshit, they’ll always have a few anecdotes about bad apples at the ready – and they expect you to share their firm conviction that bad apples really do spoil the bunch; that if some black persons steal, they must all be thieves. It’s a denial of individuality, of personhood, where it’s not warranted. (You can substitute Muslims and, say, flying planes into buildings where necessary to elucidate the connection.)

    Even if ninety-nine out of a hundred Muslims turn out to be rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth fanatics ready to take out as many Western pig-dogs as they can, you still have a moral obligation to distinguish them from, say, the remaining girl whose only crimes are having some vague ideas about Allah, prays five times a day because that’s what everyone else does, and doesn’t eat pork.

    ‘Cause if you don’t, you’ll have condemned someone who’s innocent. And that’s a sin; the real kind, not one dictated by fairies up on high, but inflicting real harm on someone who’s done nothing to deserve it.

    If you want to call that “cultural relativism” or “defending Islam”, then fuck it, I AM a cultural relativist and a staunch defender of the Five Pillars of the Faith. I, however, like to think it’s more about avoiding depersonalization like this, and avoiding hasty generalizations when it comes to assigning blame, and, you know. Rational thinking.

  230. #230 TW
    March 30, 2008

    tsig: This whole comment section shows why religion is such a vile idea.

    None of Islam’s defenders deny that beheadings, amputation and and mutilations take place, yet they only say it’s the work of extremists. What continuum has that as an extreme?

    If I were to form a group today and declare that We were supposed to rule the world and the way to do it was the kill or enslave the rest of humanity and that god told me to do it I would be arrested as criminally insane…or hailed as a prophet if I won.

    This is the bedrock problem. It’s also where atheists go off the rails. The question of whether or not there is a god/creator/buddy-in-the-sky is a completely different question of whether or not religion is good or bad. Religion is a culture induced shared delusion. Combine it with a political system, as Islam does, and the end result is predictably bloody. The cure isn’t fighting a specific religion, it’s fighting the mental illness that allows religion in the first place.

  231. #231 James Haight
    March 30, 2008

    Eurgh. I apologize for a few bent sentences and wrong tenses in the above, #226; it’s late here, and I hit “Post” just a little too quickly for a rant of this length and content.

  232. #232 Clutch
    March 30, 2008

    Just wanted to say, first, well done to Nullifidian for his thoughtful and determined interventions — in the face of stupidity and bigotry, by and large.

    And second, how clueless does one have to be, to post a vicious paean to racism and group guilt by a rightwing lunatic, and only issue a qualifier as an afterthought?

  233. #233 Brian macker
    March 30, 2008

    Engineer-Poet,

    The following interchange is why you need to be precise and accurate in your claims. You had a valid point but screwed it up by making a minor factual mistake.

    Nullfidian,

    You made a masterful use of the minor mistake to deflect a valid point. Which doesn’t say good things about you.

    Here’s the interchange:
    Poet:

    And why not? The Quran is more outrageous than other things which are banned as hate speech in the Netherlands. It calls for genocide of the Jews, so why should it be treated any differently than a neo-Nazi tract saying the same thing?

    Nullfidian:

    “How to phrase this succinctly and accurately?

    Bullshit!

    I guess that was easier than I thought.

    There is no such verse, and anyone who claims there is is not just mislead, but saying something to absurd on its face that they can be regarded as a liar as well.

    The mistake here is the claim that the Quran calls for genocide of the Jews. It doesn’t. It does however call for program of genocide against other groups, the idolators for one. Muslims are told to put them to the sword if they don’t convert. There is no time limit or scope placed on this message either.

    Even for the Jews we need only downgrade our objection from being against genocide to being against conquest, subjegation, and second class citizenship. Plus it has all kinds of derogotory things to say about Jews and others. Jews being claimed by the Qur’an to be the greediest of all humans. Sounds rather like what Hitler would say. There are plenty of other nasty quotes but I won’t bother as we’d be here all day.

    So I now amend Poet-Engineers statement:

    And why not? The Quran is more outrageous than other things which are banned as hate speech in the Netherlands. It calls for genocide of the Idolators and those who are not of the Abrahamic religion including atheists, so why should it be treated any differently than a neo-Nazi tract saying the essentially the same thing?

    So the question stands.

    Of course I’m against banning either but that’s not the question. Given one, why not the other. How is Wilder any worse on this one issue than what has already been accepted.

    Just like with the holocaust there was, in fact, genocide practiced upon idolators using this text as the pretext. This isn’t taken as fiction.

  234. #234 James Haight
    March 30, 2008

    I think it’s not so much clueless as a common slip-up – the “same page” assumption, expecting that the audience knows exactly what you mean even if you don’t explain it carefully and literally.

    Works in a lot of cases, but hoo boy. As you can see, it can fail horribly when the topic’s complicated and controversial, and there’s more difference of opinions and lines of thought on it.

  235. #235 SC
    March 30, 2008

    Some here might be interested in this

    http://www.ssrc.org/blogs/immanent_frame/2008/03/02/who-speaks-for-islam

    or in a new book by Sherene Razack – Casting Out: The Eviction of Muslims from Western Law and Politics.

  236. #236 Jack Rawlinson
    March 30, 2008

    I would like to see a great deal more evidence for this claim than has been presented before I jump on the bandwagon.

    Then I suggest, Nullifidian, that you start by reading The Koran and the Hadith, and perhaps noting the existence of veiled women in any reasonably-sized Muslim community, pretty much anywhere in the world.

  237. #237 Jack Rawlinson
    March 30, 2008

    MB: “I’m pretty sure Jack would have said the same thing about Christianity. If not, well then, Jack, you’re a xenophobic, racist piece of shit.”

    Yes, MB, I would indeed have said that about Christianity too. Phew! I guess I’m not a xenophobic, racist piece of shit!

  238. #238 Bargal20
    March 30, 2008

    Brian Mackers,

    You’re an idiot. I can’t put it any more politely.

    How is the Democratic Party even remotely analogous to a far-right dutch politician’s very own piece of hate propaganda?

    And, no, I’m not a democrat, and I barely know who Chris Rock is, although I do know various white wingnut bloggers have recently been invoking his name whenever they get called out for calling black people “niggers” or linking to other wingnuts bloggers who call black people “niggers”.

    Now, go win a Darwin Award by mutilating your own gentials.

  239. #239 CalGeorge
    March 30, 2008

    Koran:
    “And do not kill any one whom Allah has forbidden, except for a just cause, and whoever is slain unjustly, We have indeed given to his heir authority, so let him not exceed the just limits in slaying; surely he is aided.”

    See? Muhammad understood that there are limits to the amount of death and destruction one ought to inflict on other human beings.

    Credit where credit is due.

  240. #240 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    Then I suggest, Nullifidian, that you start by reading The Koran and the Hadith,

    You mean ahadith, right? I’m sure you don’t want me reading just a single hadith. The failure to use accurate plural nouns is one of the dead giveaways I encounter in discussions like these.

    And, as I said upthread, I’ve read al-Qur’an in Arabic. It doesn’t present the evidence for any sort of unified front, let alone a malign unified front, simply because the traditions which derive from al-Qur’an are so varied. I notice that you blithely skipped past that point.

    and perhaps noting the existence of veiled women in any reasonably-sized Muslim community, pretty much anywhere in the world.

    And perhaps you should note the existence of non-veiled women in many reasonably-sized Muslim communities, and not just in the Western world (e.g. Detroit), but also Bahrain, Tunisia, Lebanon, Syria, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, etc. etc. And you can further note that beyond the vague requirements for modest dress for both men and women, al-Qur’an has nothing to say about veiling.

    Another further note might be that it’s really none of your fucking business. Women shouldn’t be forced to adopt the veil, but they certainly shouldn’t earn your scorn if they choose to. It’s a cultural tradition which some women are more comfortable adopting, and some do it at considerable risk to their safety in countries which are American client states like Tunisia, and eager to prove their secularism.

    There’s an enormous and thriving tradition of Muslim feminism, and the last thing they need are cruise missile feminists saying that we have to destroy the village in order to save women.

  241. #241 CalGeorge
    March 30, 2008

    More common sense from the Koran:

    [2.190] And fight in the way of Allah with those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits, surely Allah does not love those who exceed the limits.

    Paraphrasing: you have my blessing to kill other humans (but there is to be no killing in the sacred month – “Fighting in it is a grave offense”), but do try to keep the level of violence to a minimum.

    What good advice! What a great book!

    (Hmmm. Any way we can somehow declare the eleven others months sacred? That might solve a lot of problems.)

  242. #242 Jack Rawlinson
    March 30, 2008

    You mean ahadith, right? I’m sure you don’t want me reading just a single hadith. The failure to use accurate plural nouns is one of the dead giveaways I encounter in discussions like these.

    No, I meant the Hadith. I used the widely accepted anglicised term. Do a little Googling and you’ll see what I mean. It is extremely common to refer to “The Hadith”. I, unlike you, am not a speaker of Arabic. That doesn’t mean I’m going to let you use a crass, playground fallacy to attempt to devalue my words.

    And, as I said upthread, I’ve read al-Qur’an in Arabic. It doesn’t present the evidence for any sort of unified front, let alone a malign unified front, simply because the traditions which derive from al-Qur’an are so varied.

    Precisely why they’re so dangerous. For exactly the same reason the equally varied Christian and Jewish religious traditions are so dangerous: because their variety and openness to varied interpretations is so huge.

    And perhaps you should note the existence of non-veiled women in many reasonably-sized Muslim communities, and not just in the Western world (e.g. Detroit), but also Bahrain, Tunisia, Lebanon, Syria, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, etc. etc.

    Oh, I see. Because not all Muslim women bow to the the inherent patriarchal sexism and oppression of Islam, we’re okay? How nice of you to be so tolerant of the oppression… sorry, partial oppression of women in societies other than the one you actually live in.

    And you can further note that beyond the vague requirements for modest dress for both men and women, al-Qur’an has nothing to say about veiling.

    So tell me, where does the huge and undeniable prevalence of veiled women in Islamic societies come from? Perhaps from teachings such as these? (Source: http://www.jsri.ro/old/html%20version/index/no_3/maria_boariu-articol.htm)

    The schools teaching Koranic law elaborated the “law of the veil”, a very strict prescription whose validity is still recognized. Features such as the veil and face masks were subsumed under this law. The analysis of hijab as it appeared in these regulations would entail an extensive discussion. I will limit it to several citations:

    The Prophet said: “The worst among women are those who freely leave their homes without hijab. They are hypocrites and few of those will enter paradise.”
    (Hadith – Sunan Baihaqi)

    Prophet said: “What has been allowed to be shown is the hands, bangles and rings but the face must be covered.
    (Hadith – Aisha)

    “Jilbaab should fully cover the women’s body, so that nothing appears but one eye with which she can see.”
    (Hadith – Tafseer Al-Qurtubi)

    Another further note might be that it’s really none of your fucking business.

    Oh, right. I see. The treatment of my fellow citizens is none of my business. I’ll remember that next time I see your daughter being raped. And don’t swear at me, you cocky little cunt. It doesn’t help the discourse.

    Women shouldn’t be forced to adopt the veil, but they certainly shouldn’t earn your scorn if they choose to.

    Firstly, are you seriously so naive as to believe that all of the women who wear the veil are doing so out of unfettered choice? Get real. Secondly, where did I express scorn for them? I said that I thought the veil was abad thing. Don’t ascribe statements to me that I did not make. Okay?

    There’s an enormous and thriving tradition of Muslim feminism,

    Really? Could you provide some links and sources? You know, since you’re so very au fait with this stuff. I’m always happy to be educated.

    and the last thing they need are cruise missile feminists saying that we have to destroy the village in order to save women.

    And where did anyone say anything like that?

  243. #243 Neil
    March 30, 2008

    I’m just glad Hank Fox decided to drop in. I actually read all 200+ comments, and it was like a belt sander applied to my brain. Then comes Hank with some tea and aloe cream, and a few thoughtful words. I needed that.
    Lots of valid points from all sides. Lots of people who are sick and tired of trying to be reasonable dealing with beheadings, honor killings, and suicide bombers. Also lots of people sick of seeing westerners treat muslims as some kind of monolithic boogeyman.
    Somebody mentioned Little Green Footballs earlier. I threw up in my mouth a bit, thanks! As a response, I will take it in the opposite direction. I argue that we have a liberal responsibility to the muslim world, and not one that can be fulfilled by our military. I am no fan of american
    imperialism or our general bribe, kill or steal policies in the middle east. I think it is obvious that our own foreign policies have earned us distrust and even hatred, and helped fuel the rise of radical islam. We have benefited tremendously from middle-eastern oil while the people living above it are subject to tyranny from their own governments, and bullets&bombs from us. We pick sides and provide weapons for their civil wars. We disrespect their religion, but offer nothing to replace it.
    The biggest surprise to me is that they still fight each other more than they fight us. It’s fucking pathetic, really. There should be a half-billion middle-eastern muslims gearing up to kick our collective white ass, but instead they remain fractured by the forces of competing religious sects. I guess that is good for us, but the bill has to be paid. We can’t force the radicals through their own enlightenment. But we can punish the grievous offenders and do our best to set an example for the rest.
    I have no better or more relevant input, but I am glad for the discussion. I don’t care if the video is racist. This discussion has to go on and on, because there is one hell of a long road in front of us.

  244. #244 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    You made a masterful use of the minor mistake to deflect a valid point. Which doesn’t say good things about you.

    Like I give a damn what you think of me. Normal people not deranged by a reflexive and unexamined xenophobia would say that libelling an entire religion with the false claim that its main text calls for the genocide of the Jews is more than a “minor mistake.”

    Even for the Jews we need only downgrade our objection from being against genocide to being against conquest, subjegation, and second class citizenship.

    Islam, for the most part, didn’t spread by conquest; it spread by conversion. The largest absolute population of Muslims in any one country is found in Indonesia. That’s carrying the notion of conquest a bit too far, literally. The reason that Indonesia has a significant Muslim population has to do with trading routes rather than forced conversion.

    Plus it has all kinds of derogotory things to say about Jews and others. Jews being claimed by the Qur’an to be the greediest of all humans.

    Nope, actually that’s what your translation claims. Even without knowing your reference for it, I can guess by the number of brackets and paragraphs in that single verse alone that it’s put out by the publishing houses in Saudi Arabia, which twist the original Arabic into a pretzel. The actual Qur’an says of the Jews in that very same sura that “Those who believe [in Muhammad], those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabeans, whoever believes in God and the Last Day and does righteousness, they shall have their reward with the Lord; they will have no fear, neither will they grieve” (Sura al-Baqarah: 62).

    And why not? The Quran is more outrageous than other things which are banned as hate speech in the Netherlands.

    If you consider that outrageous, you’ve got to be absolutely scandalized by the writings of Hosea Ballou.

    It calls for genocide of the Idolators and those who are not of the Abrahamic religion including atheists, so why should it be treated any differently than a neo-Nazi tract saying the essentially the same thing?

    Probably because it doesn’t. For one thing, it doesn’t call for the genocide of atheists. When it refers to those who do not believe in God, it means the polytheists. It doesn’t say that atheists are going to be free from the threat of hell, but neither do many Christian traditions.

    Nor does it even call for the genocide of the Idolators. What it calls for is to fight the Idolators, the Quraysh and others, until they convert or submit. Now that might be frightening for some people, but consider that there was a pitched battle going on between the polytheist Arab community and Muhammad’s faith. Basically what he’s saying in those verses is that they should fight until they are clearly victorious. I don’t know of many generals who advocate fighting until they’ve left their enemies enough time, means, and manpower to regroup and become a major threat again.

  245. #245 Nullifidian
    March 30, 2008

    Precisely why they’re so dangerous. For exactly the same reason the equally varied Christian and Jewish religious traditions are so dangerous: because their variety and openness to varied interpretations is so huge.

    So the whole thing is dangerous because some of the interpretations might be dangerous? Is that what you’re saying?

    In that case, I have to say that atheism is clearly dangerous, because it’s open to manipulation in the form of state-sponsored atheism, as in Stalin’s Soviet Union, and it’s clearly open to the kind of Clash of Civilizations rhetoric which leads to mass murder of civilian populations.

    Oh, I see. Because not all Muslim women bow to the the inherent patriarchal sexism and oppression of Islam, we’re okay? How nice of you to be so tolerant of the oppression… sorry, partial oppression of women in societies other than the one you actually live in.

    This comment will become relevant later.

    So tell me, where does the huge and undeniable prevalence of veiled women in Islamic societies come from? Perhaps from teachings such as these?

    It comes from a uniform cultural belief in the virtue of veiling which crosses religious traditions and geographic areas. See my discussion of 1 Corinthians 11 which you blithely skipped past.

    Oh, right. I see. The treatment of my fellow citizens is none of my business.

    Your fellow citizens in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and so on? If you have the right to speak up for women in areas of the world where you’ve never been and would probably never set foot, then I have an equal right to speak on “societies other than the one [I] actually live in”, perhaps more of a right since I’ve actually taken the time to learn about them, read their news, and visit their shores.

    I’ll remember that next time I see your daughter being raped. And don’t swear at me, you cocky little cunt. It doesn’t help the discourse.

    Ah, the noble feminist using rude terms for women’s anatomy in order to imply that I’m somehow an inferior person. No misogyny in that, is there?

    Firstly, are you seriously so naive as to believe that all of the women who wear the veil are doing so out of unfettered choice?

    I didn’t say that, did I?

    Get real.

    Stop lying.

    Secondly, where did I express scorn for them? I said that I thought the veil was abad thing.

    That’s expressing scorn for them. The poor dears who choose to adopt hijab just don’t know what’s good for them.

    Really? Could you provide some links and sources? You know, since you’re so very au fait with this stuff. I’m always happy to be educated.

    I doubt that very much.

    For starters, you could check out the Wikipedia entry on Islamic Feminism, and blogs like SunniSister, WriteousSisterSpeaks, etc.

    Here’s an article you might be interested in:
    http://writeoussisterspeaks.wordpress.com/2006/11/03/why-i-wear-the-muslim-hijab-a-discussion/

    Then you might check out books like Fatema Mernissi’s Beyond the Veil and The Veil and the Male Elite, Qasim Amin’s The Liberation of Women, Asma Barlas’ “Believing Women” in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur’an, Amina Wadud’s Qur’an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman’s Perspective, Inside the Gender Jihad: Women’s Reform in Islam, etc.

    and the last thing they need are cruise missile feminists saying that we have to destroy the village in order to save women.

    And where did anyone say anything like that?

    All over the place in the run-up, during, and aftermath of the Afghanistan War, and, incidentally, in the run up to the Bosnian War (see, for example, Catherine MacKinnon’s writings).

    This kind of paternalistic feminism is the velvet glove surrounding the iron fist of empire, and it has been for decades.

  246. #246 wazza
    March 31, 2008

    Null, he used both male and female terms, for equivalent organs… and cunt’s been reclaimed, my man

    Basically, you’ve gone beyond civilized discussion to really nasty, word-twisting, ad hominem attacks. It doesn’t help your cause. And the more you speak, the more extreme you sound. Yes, islam is being derided unfairly in the media, but it’s also sprouting terrorists and intolerance. Just like all religions.

  247. #247 DingoDave
    March 31, 2008

    Nullifidian wrote in post #28
    “…In fact, most Muslims believe, based on the Qur’an, that taking any innocent life is wrong and weighs as heavily as if they had taken the life of the whole world (5:32).”

    Dear Nullifidian,
    You need to read the entire verse and perhaps one or two of the verses which follow it, before using this passage as a disavowal of violence in the name of Islam.
    For your consideration I am posting the tiny snippet you quoted in it’s proper context. I think you’ll find that those words when put into their proper context, belie the message which you are attempting to convince us is the verse’s true intention.
    Please notice that amongst other things, the snippet you quoted is directed, not towards Muslims, but to ‘the children of Israel’ ie. it was directed at the jews.
    The passage then goes on to endorse the mutilation, crucifixion, general execution, or forced exile, of anyone who opposes Allah or his messenger.
    Here is the entire passage in it’s proper context. I think you’ll find that doesn’t even come close to being a condemnation of violence in the name of Islam, as you implied.
    I’m afraid that you’re another person who has been successfully decieved by the dishonest tactics of the Muslim spin doctors.

    Sura 5: 32-35
    32. On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.
    33. The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter;
    34. Except for those who repent before they fall into your power: in that case, know that Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
    35. O ye who believe! Do your duty to Allah, seek the means of approach unto Him, and strive with might and main in his cause: that ye may prosper.

  248. #248 Nathanael Nerode
    March 31, 2008

    Regarding Scott Atran:
    “The points he makes are roughly that religious indoctrination or brainwashing don’t happen; ”

    This is strictly in reference to how semi-adult people become religious extremists or terrorists, of course.

    It’s well known that religions use indoctrination and brainwashing on their *young children* as a matter of course; otherwise the Catholic Church wouldn’t be so obsessed with “raising your children Catholic”. The indoctrination in most branches of Christianity is focused on three ideas: the Church’s belief system has all the answers; people who don’t believe the Church’s belief system are bad; and people who don’t believe it will be miserable. It’s very effective circular reasoning, because it means that when doubting or trying to leave the “faith”, people feel miserable, because they still feel like leaving the “faith” was bad, and then they take that as confirmation that the church was right.

    The indoctrination in Judaism seems to be slightly different, focusing on the idea that if you leave the community or stop practicing the rituals, you are bad and will be miserable. It’s not quite as effective as the Christian version because it doesn’t make disbelieving into an “evil” act; so there’s a slightly easier path out (first disbelieve, then once you’re used to that, stop the rituals and leave).

    From my limited knowledge, the indoctrination in Islam is reasonably close to the Christian version.

    Now, this is best understood in terms of natural selection. This sort of closed-loop belief system, which makes it emotionally difficult for people to get out of it, makes a very successful self-reproducing meme. Add “evangelism” to the belief system and it reproduces (slowly). Add “brainwash your children into it” and it reproduces somewhat more effectively. Add “You must have lots of children as soon as possible” to it and it reproduces quite quickly. Adding “Kill the unbelievers”, or better “Kill those who refuse to brainwash their children”, to it and this may help. Another reproductively useful meme is “Obey the church authorities and let them tell you what to believe”.

    Quite a few different strains of this type of self-reproducing belief system have evolved, with random extra beliefs stuck in, often even meaningless nonsense beliefs, and sometimes what seem to be deliberately abusive beliefs (“You should give all your money to the Church of Scientology / 10% to your mosque / 10% to your church”), and those beliefs are hard to remove due to the self-reinforcing, self-reproducing nature of the system.

    Then these belief systems fight each other, purportedly because they disagree on the random extra nonsense beliefs.

    Not all religions fall into this category. However, the ones which don’t — the healthy, honest religions — are *less successful* because they are lacking the evolutionary advantages provided by the “If you leave, you are bad and will be miserable” meme, the “evangelism” meme, the “brainwash your children” meme, and so on. It’s interesting that some of the most popular forms of Buddhism and Hinduism have evolved into “place your faith in the Lord” nonsense which looks much like Christianity. Nevertheless, non-brainwashing or low-brainwashing variants have evolved from very-high-brainwashing religions. Perhaps because the high-brainwashing religions often render people substantially nonfunctional in everyday life, unless they are extremely hypocritical and practice extensive cognitive dissonance?

  249. #249 Grammar RWA
    March 31, 2008
    What does that matter. In case, you missed it often slavers were in the minority in the communities they operated.

    Wow, WTF.

    PZ, this is why playing with islamophobe-bait is nothing but firewater. Do you really want to attract stuff like this? Really, this belongs in Little Green Footballs — not scienceblogs. I mean, you gotta do what you gotta do, but these are the folks that will come out of the woodwork.

    Seriously. Racists with poor punctuation are that much worse. You really don’t want to attract that element.

  250. #250 Nick Gotts
    March 31, 2008

    “That means that Islam is a religious apartheid system. If you were “in the know” then you’d realize that. Non-muslims are treated as second class citizens. Which of course a bunch of racists who think they are superior to non-Dutch are not going to take a liking to.” – Brian Macker

    You’ve explained at tedious length that you don’t consider religious hatred equivalent to racism, because religion is something you can choose to change, and race isn’t. Now you make an equivalence between the (unfair and unjust) discriminatory treatment of non-Muslims in Muslim states, and apartheid, a system designed and run by and for white racists. A non-Muslim can convert to Islam (and in many historical cases the “conversion” was undoubtedly nominal). Do you think a black person could “convert” to being white in apartheid South Africa?

  251. #251 Nick Gotts
    March 31, 2008

    “You certainly don’t have one clue about what I do and don’t know about anything till I make an error.” Brian Macker

    Well, you make so many it’s hard to keep up. Perhaps the most obvious in the screed I took this from is your belief that Europe is socialist. Typical of ignorant US rightists.

    “Pardon me for my ignorance of any deep knowledge of the political machinations of any particular state in Europe. Especially, one so tiny as the Netherlands. Hell the US
    poops states bigger than that.”
    The population of the Netherlands as of July 2007 was estimated (CIA World Factbook) at 16,570,613. That’s larger than 47 of the 50 states in the USA. If you meant area rather than population, why is that relevant? But I know very well you didn’t.

    You assert that you don’t care about Wilders’ racism. Right-populist parties like his (they are prominent in at least in Italy, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and to a lesser degree UK), have over the past decade helped to normalise coded racist discourse – hatred for “immigrants”, “asylum seekers” etc. These parties are not fascist or anti-semitic (unlike the parties you mention), and largely avoid the cruder types of hate speech that could get them prosecuted, but xenophobia is their central rationale, and they thrive on inter-communal conflict, whether expressed in racial or religious terms. Wilders’ party is typical in this; I quote from Wikipedia’s article on him:
    “In polls released following the assassination of Theo van Gogh, it was estimated that Wilders’ party could win as many as 29 (out of 150) seats in the Dutch parliament (Tweede Kamer). With the uproar over the killing of Van Gogh subsiding, this number declined to a low of one in October 2005. In February 2006, after the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy, it rose again to three seats.”
    Hence Wilders has a clear motive to provoke Muslim extremists to violence. Of course such violence is criminal and should be prosecuted and punished; and Wilders has the right to make and distribute his film. That does not mean it is not a disgusting thing to do.

  252. #252 Nick Gotts
    March 31, 2008

    [MB: "I'm pretty sure Jack would have said the same thing about Christianity. If not, well then, Jack, you're a xenophobic, racist piece of shit."

    Yes, MB, I would indeed have said that about Christianity too. Phew! I guess I'm not a xenophobic, racist piece of shit!

    Posted by: Jack Rawlinson]

    Doesn’t follow. From “If Not A then B”, and “A”, you cannot validly derive “Not B”. This is Logic 101.

  253. #253 RobW
    March 31, 2008

    the number of Klan rallies has decreased

    Now that’s comedy gold!

  254. #254 Andreas Johansson
    March 31, 2008

    Having had several years of obligatory comparative religion classes, I have to say that PZ has a point about “weak tea” – there was a strong tendency to focus on the positive and the abstract.

    I what I however disagree with, and am surprised no-one else has objetcted to, is this part:

    Anyway, my point was that if we did teach comparative religion, it would be weak tea that favored faith by censoring out the worst of it, or it would be a class tainted with such appalling horror that all of us liberals would be yanking our children out of it.

    Parents should yank their children out of school classes because they show the world as it is?

    I might agree for very young children, but, where I am from at least, comparative religion classes are for teenagers. If it’s wrong to show them people being shot or beheaded in religion class, it was equally wrong for my high-school history teachers to show us pictures of, say, piles of skulls from Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Vietnamese being burned alive by napalm, or, Godwin be damned, dying KZ inmates. I cannot accept that. Reality is often horrible, but sanitizing history is worse.

  255. #255 Sue Laris
    March 31, 2008

    PZed, thanks much for the clarification of your meaning and aims in linking to the video, which I believe needs to be seen, pointed at, and laughed into obscurity for everything in it – except the one point you agreed with it.
    I thought it very likely you were thinking along such lines.

    I still do not forgive or forget the assholes who used this as an excuse for hatred instead of criticism. There are several people who should fess up and apologize for some of the things they said (unless they actually are fucked-up enough to believe them.)

    Me, I don’t aim to be right, but to be as honest as possible about what the world is, and happy within the limits of that reality and our collective imagination.

  256. #256 Gralgrathor
    March 31, 2008

    It’s all a bit weird though…

    The Dutch government is uninterested in standing up for democracy and civil rights, and bend over backwards in order to remain politically correct.

    Meanwhile, Wilders proposes to protect the western way of life by promoting fascism.

    They’re *all* idiots. Man, I hate people.

  257. #257 Ian Gould
    March 31, 2008

    “All of these countries have had (and still have) substantial immigration from Muslim countries and what do you know, they are still standing…”

    Ah, next you’ll be pointing out that the two most populous Muslim countries on the planet (Turkey and Indonesia) are democracies.

    Personally I think we need to ban Catholics otherwise they’ll take over; abortion will be banned; non-Catholics dragged off and tortured by the Inquisition and rampaging hordes of pedophile priests will roam the countryside buggering every child they find.

    Sure it hasn’t happened YET but that just means they haven’t reached a sufficient percentage in the population yet.

    (Anti-Catholic views such as this were quite popular up until somewhere in the middle of the 20th century. Present-day anti-Muslim hysteria will seem just as absurd in a couple of decades.)

  258. #258 Ian Gould
    March 31, 2008

    “I don’t know why they are still standing. Maybe it’s because a ‘critical’ number of Moslems hasn’t yet occurred? What trouble there has been so far is from fringe fanatics who just haven’t the patience to wait for the critical number. When the critical number does occur, presumably the real trouble will start.”

    Replace the word Muslims in the above with the word “Jews”, “Blacks” or “Gays”.

    What would your opinion of the author be?

  259. #259 Ian Gould
    March 31, 2008

    “This is the bedrock problem. It’s also where atheists go off the rails. The question of whether or not there is a god/creator/buddy-in-the-sky is a completely different question of whether or not religion is good or bad. Religion is a culture induced shared delusion. Combine it with a political system, as Islam does, and the end result is predictably bloody.”

    Actually one of the main tenets of Shia Islam is precisely that religion must NOT be combined with politics. The only righteous government is one run by a descendant of senior male line of descent from the Caliph Ali and until the Imam returnd all other governments are wicked and impure and Shiites should have no part of them.

    Khomeini broke with centuries of shia teaching when he took over Iran and continues to be criticised for it by most non-Iranian Shia.

  260. #260 Ian Gould
    March 31, 2008

    “Well actually it’s been 1400 years and every single Muslim country is a fallen country.”

    Turkey and Malaysia seem to have landed rather comfortably after their falls.

    But then “fallen country” is a rather meaningless term, isn’t it?

    Is it like a fallen woman?

    Or fallen arches maybe?

  261. #261 Ian Gould
    March 31, 2008

    “Yeah, like those damn Yankees who had the audacity to speak up for the rights of Blacks in the south. Hell that might even lead to an increase in lynchings. Wouldn’t want that, would we.”

    No actually like the KKK members drawling “Y’all just wait ’til them nigras takes over up north like they’s doin’ down here. Won’t no white woman be safe.”

  262. #262 Ian Gould
    March 31, 2008

    “This whole comment section shows why religion is such a vile idea.

    None of Islam’s defenders deny that beheadings, amputation and and mutilations take place, yet they only say it’s the work of extremists. What continuum has that as an extreme?”

    One made up of human beings.

    Like the Atheist spectrum that incorporates Stalin and Kim Il sung.

  263. #263 Ian Gould
    March 31, 2008

    “Many of the biblical quotes that you find objectionable to quote are dormant for most Christians, and have been for a long time. With slight mutation they can become active again. Think “God hates fags” and “Christian Reconstructionism”. The latter wishing to bring back stoning. Hell the Puritans were as bad as the Taliban.”

    Take a look around the developing world – for example in South Africa were Christian mobs regularly kill people accused of witchcraft – and it will be apparent that this is simply false.

    Arguing that because Charles Taylor was a Christian and used Christianity to justify his atrocities in Liberia that Christians in the west are likely to start imitating him tomorrow and you’ll be looked at as a nutcase.

    Make the equivalent claim about Islam and any number of self-described liberals will clap you on the back for your good sense and honesty.

  264. #264 Nick Gotts
    March 31, 2008

    “Ah, next you’ll be pointing out that the two most populous Muslim countries on the planet (Turkey and Indonesia) are democracies.” – Ian Gould

    Ian, while agreeing with your general point that a majority Islamic population and democracy are compatible, I note that Pakistan and Bangladesh are both more populous and institutionally more Islamic than Turkey, and that none of these four are without severe blemishes so far as democracy is concerned (of course, the same is true of most states normally described as democracies, including the USA and UK).

  265. #265 IvanI
    March 31, 2008

    I have to say I don’t think there is such a big problem with showing if not the worst then at least the pretty bad parts of religion. I spent a year in belgium when I was in the last grade of middle school and studied in a private school that had a religious class. They showed Schindler’s list and it’s pretty much the only thing I remember from the class, since it is of course a rather shocking movie (it was probably a somewhat edited version though). Now maybe schindler’s list is a bit too much for pampered middle school kids, but certainly in high school something like that shouldn’t be such a big deal.

  266. #266 Ian Gould
    March 31, 2008

    ‘In short, the economic point being, that socialism makes the economic costs of racism fall on people other than the racist. Under a free market the businessman has to pay for his discrimination through his pocketbook.”

    Thank you for thuis – it was the best laugh I’br had in ages.

    We may need to develop a new form of mathematical notion to describe both the depths of your stupidity and the sheer multiplicity of the different aspects of it.

    We can start by noting that the hey-day of racism and discrimination coincided rather neatly with the hey-day of laissee faire capitalism in the latter half of the the 19th century.

  267. #267 j.t.delaney
    March 31, 2008

    “… aimed at increasing inter-communal tensions in the Netherlands.”

    Yeah, like those damn Yankees who had the audacity to speak up for the rights of Blacks in the south. Hell that might even lead to an increase in lynchings. Wouldn’t want that, would we.

    Jesus, you seriously flat-out suck at analogies. What is this supposed to even mean? Are Dutch xenophobes supposed to be equivalent of Southern slaves, and Geert Wilders is supposed to be the Union Army, liberating them from… what?

  268. #268 Ian Gould
    March 31, 2008

    “You need to read the entire verse and perhaps one or two of the verses which follow it, before using this passage as a disavowal of violence in the name of Islam.”

    No he doesn’t – because he’s talking about the commonly accepted interpretation of the verse – not the “correct” interpretation of the verse as per yourself and Osama bin Laden.

    all the he needs to demonstrate is that the majority of Muslims accept his interpretation rather than yours and Osama’s.

  269. #269 Ian Gould
    March 31, 2008

    “The Dutch government is uninterested in standing up for democracy and civil rights, and bend over backwards in order to remain politically correct.”

    Yes, I’m sure the Dutch need to be lectured by Americans on civil rights and democracy.

    How’s the President-SWelect’s campaign to deny the Gitmo inmates access to the US courts going?

  270. #270 Ian Gould
    March 31, 2008

    “There is absolutely no reason for the antisemetic attacks being perpetrated by Muslims in Europe.”

    Agreed, now let’s talk about the much larger number of anti-semitic attacks being conducted by Caucasian Christian European neo-nazis.

    do you think we should respond by banning the bible?

  271. #271 Ian Gould
    March 31, 2008

    Nick Gotts, I take your point.

    On the other hand, let’s take note that millions of Bangladeshis and Pakistanis have risked their personal freedom and even their lives fighting for democracy – unlike certain posters here who probably think that fighting for freedom means shoving dog-shit through the mail slot of that suspiciously dark-skinned and therefore Muslim family that just moved in down the street.

    Oh and Nigeria, also a democracy (however troubled) and majority-Muslim also has a larger population than Turkey.

  272. #272 Nick Gotts
    March 31, 2008

    Ian Gould,

    I agree. In Pakistan, a large proportion of right-wingers on the BBC “Have your say” site were saying shortly before the recent elections in Pakistan that free elections there would bring Islamists to power, so Musharraf must be supported whatever. Given the chance, the Pakistani people voted overwhelmingly against both Islamist parties, and the effective continuation of military rule, and Pakistan now has at least a slim chance of making progress. In the recent Turkish elections, if I had been a voter I’d probably have voted for the AP, despite its Islamist roots, simply to give the finger to the Army, who were trying to interfere.

  273. #273 DingoDave
    March 31, 2008

    Ian Gould wrote in post #267:
    “No he doesn’t – because he’s talking about the commonly accepted interpretation of the verse – not the “correct” interpretation of the verse as per yourself and Osama bin Laden.all the he needs to demonstrate is that the majority of Muslims accept his interpretation rather than yours and Osama’s.”

    Dear Ian,
    What part of

    32. On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.
    33. The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter;”

    don’t you understand?

    Do you agree that it’s OK to slay people for the crime of murder, or “causing mischief in the land”?
    Please go back and re-read the entire passage. I’m afraid that quoting only part of a single verse (out of context), and then claiming that this is an accurate interpretation of the entire passage just doesn’t wash with me. It’s just typical of the dishonest spin doctoring which we are constantly bombarded with, in a vain attempt to remake what is essentially a violent and intolerant book into something that it isn’t.

  274. #274 Ian Gould
    March 31, 2008

    Dingodave, as I said, interpreartion of thi versec fallse into two camps.

    That preferred by about 99% of the world’s Muslims.

    And that preferred by yourself and Osama Bin Laden.

    Less facetiously, I will say that as someone who trained as a Japanese.English translator that translations from virtually any non-Indo-European language into any Indo-European language involves vast amounts of latitude.

    You might want to look at the widely variant translations of the Zen koan “Iisshinai,wakaranai. Wakaranai, Iishinai.”

  275. #275 Ian Gould
    March 31, 2008

    I suppose I should disclose a personal interest here: as a Jew, I haver vested interested in the Bin Laden/Dingo Jack “Kill the Jews” interpretation not becoming generally accepted.

  276. #276 Ian Gould
    March 31, 2008

    “In the recent Turkish elections, if I had been a voter I’d probably have voted for the AP, despite its Islamist roots, simply to give the finger to the Army, who were trying to interfere.” – Nick Gotts.

    Nick, it was highly instructive for me in the immediate aftermath of the AK victory to see an interview on BBC with three young female AK supporters – not one of whom wore the Hejab.

  277. #277 faux facsimile
    March 31, 2008

    In principle, a more realistic approach to comparative religion would be welcome.

    The problem is that whereas most people have enough experience with Christianity to understand that not every (or even most) Christian is a Jim Jones or Jerry Falwell, the same is not true regarding Muslims (or even Jews) in many places. All you accomplish is reinforcing existing prejudices, which is of course the point of Wilders’ film.

  278. #278 Nullifidian
    March 31, 2008

    I’m afraid that you’re another person who has been successfully decieved by the dishonest tactics of the Muslim spin doctors.

    Apparently, DingoDave, these “Muslim spin doctors” must have tentacles reaching back hundreds of years to also include commentators. The Qur’an is not just a book which you can open up and discern its “plain meaning” anymore than you can open up the Bible and discern the “plain meaning” of the text, because there is no such thing as a “plain meaning” of it or any text. Every reading is informed by the level of background knowledge, assumptions, definitions, etc. etc. which is why commentaries are such a significant portion of Quranic scholarship. In those commentaries, much is disagreed with, but one thing they do agree on is that it’s not a good thing to run around killing innocent people. Wartime, self-defence, etc. are the contexts in which killing is excused, much as in the same vein as the the major monotheistic community. I know that the xenophobes run around like Chicken Littles whenever anyone points to the warlike verses, but the fact is that you can find even worse stuff in the WWI sermons preached by Anglican religious leaders, or indeed in the children’s songs taught to Israelis.

  279. #279 Gingerbaker
    March 31, 2008

    There appears to be a lot more Islamic extremists than most people think.

    At least according to the Pew Global Attitudes Project, which seem to have (perhaps the most?) relevant data on the subject. The survey, co-chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, made use of many tens of thousands of interviews.

    http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?PageID=830

    => I am going to list the worst yearly number (one to four year range) for any geography from the section of the survey that dealt with popular support of suicidal bombings.

    The question was “Violence against civilian targets in defense of Islam can be justified….”

    I will list the percentages of the Muslim populations of various geographies who did NOT feel that terrorist bombings are never justified.

    French Muslims – 36%

    Spanish Muslims – 31%

    British Muslims – 30%

    German Muslims – 17%

    Jordan – 89%

    Egypt – 55%

    Turkey – 39%

    Pakistan – 65%

    Indonesia – 46%

    Nigeria – 72%

    I think these numbers mean that we can not assume that many Muslim communities would have the same ration of extremists/moderates we (westerners) might expect. At all.

    And I think the results of the study – even though the report’s authors attempt to show that the numbers are actually improving – are very troubling indeed.

  280. #280 Nullifidian
    March 31, 2008

    I will list the percentages of the Muslim populations of various geographies who did NOT feel that terrorist bombings are never justified.

    That, of course, is not the question that they answered. The question was about support for terrorist acts, not “terrorist bombings” or even less “suicide bombings” which is what Pew decided to head their survey numbers with. The fact that they also collapsed “often” into “sometimes”, making it impossible to disentangle those numbers, and your own addition of “rarely” to the “often/sometimes” numbers means that the results are practically worthless as a tool for working out what is actually going on inside the heads of members of these communities.

    The question is vague enough already. It’s really an exercise in imagination: can you imagine a situation in which you would accept a terrorist attack in defense of something you believed in? Then it asks them them to subjectively rate how often they would accept it. One person’s “rarely” may be another’s “sometimes” (which probably accounts for the roughly even breakdown). And, of course, it doesn’t define “terrorism”. In America, the term “terrorism” has become broadened to include property damage and arson for political purposes. In some of those cases, I would see the value in “terrorism”. Just as a for-instance, on this blog several months ago, someone was complaining that the ELF torched his advisor’s trees, which he was breeding for fast growth as an ‘alternative’ to cutting down forest trees.

    That poster said that he could see no justification in it, because it wasn’t genetic engineering and it seemed to operate against their interests. However, there’s a very good reason for monkeywrenching that research, and anyone faintly familiar with evolutionary biology would know it: if you introduce fast-growing monocultures into an environment, then they will outcompete the native trees, disrupting the complex web of interrelationships between the trees and the rest of the living creatures and destroying the habitat. This isn’t just academic–it’s a fair description of what has already happened in many locales, including the Scottish Highlands.

    By ignoring the plain facts of evolution, this professor showed himself to be an monumental idiot. How does one speak sweet reason to idiots who are driven by remunerative grants from large timber companies? I would submit that one cannot, and that the ELF’s actions in this case were a perfectly legitimate and defensible last-ditch effort to stop an irresponsible line of research. According to the U.S. Justice Department, this is an act of “eco-terrorism” and I, thereby, am a terrorist supporter.

    So if any polling organization came by and asked me if I saw terrorism as a legitimate tactic, depending on what my definition was, I might have to say yes. I might even say “sometimes” because who knows the distinction between “sometimes” and “rarely”? It all depends on one’s own subjective idea about how often a particular tactic of asymmetrical warfare will be necessary.

    A proper bit of research into the subject of suicide bombings and the subject of extremism would have to, at some point, ask people if they would themselves be willing to give up their lives as suicide bombers, their readiness to do so, and if they think it is necessary, probably necessary, and so on in their present context, rather than asking them to imagine vague hypotheticals.

  281. #281 Jeffrey Wang
    March 31, 2008

    #257 Ian: “Replace the word Muslims in the above with the word “Jews”, “Blacks” or “Gays”. What would your opinion of the author be?”

    No, no, no. I am going to take a tremendous risk here but I trust we are all capable of understanding the analogy without resorting to a, “Ha ha, Godwin’s Law, you lose!”-mentality.

    Your rebutal was against some sort of “critical mass” of Muslims causing—what many would consider—a negative shift in the culture or policies of Western Civilization. Muslims, here, is absolutely not to be replaced by terms of racial or sexual minorities, rather political ones such as Fascist Dictatorships or Nazism (Ooo, ooh Godwin!). In which case, yes, there exists a critical mass that takes a fringe political party and produces a terrible war.

    Furthermore, with the interpretation of Islam, let me beg your indulgence for my analogy one step further—again with mature eye to the concept. Cast, say, bin Ladin and other zealous Islamic clerics in the role of Hitler and his chief staff. Call the suicide bombers and adherents to militaristic dogma the SS and Auschwitz personnel. The general populace of Muslims are, thus, the German people united under the banner of Nazis.

    Did eighty, ninty, ninty-nine percent of German Nazis actually believe that Jews should be brutally, torturously exterminated? I would assume, wishing some hope for humankind, that they did not. Perhaps humiliated, tossed out and exiled, but not butchered. Ditto for the average Muslim. He is not a vicious brute, he will not interpret his faith as declaration of war on the non-believers, he simply wants to protect his beliefs and be able to practice his religion without some oil-hungry Capitalist gumming things up. Live and let live.

    The problem, however, is that Nazism is judged on the merit of Hitler and its consequences. The 1930s German thinks, “Ah, Nazism is great! I can serve and protect the Fatherland, my family, and my culture.” But Hitler used this, brought the Germans together, and galvanized them in the direction of his goals—the true interpretation of Nazism. The true interpretation of Islam—given that it is—is of deadly importance as it is the dogma used by the brutal leaders and vicious clerics.

    The average Muslim may abhor the evils of suicide bombing and savage intolerance and, great, he has found that moral high ground, but he is still fighting under the flag of bin Ladin (et al) until he pulls a von Stauffenberg and fights, yes fights, for peace as did the Allies against the Axis.

    And thank you ahead of time for focusing on debating concepts and ideas, and not resorting to childish name calling or dismissals. And, for the record, I find all religion as ridiculous as Islam, it’s just abortion clinic bombings are simply a far cry from global terrorism.

  282. #282 Dianne
    March 31, 2008

    I will list the percentages of the Muslim populations of various geographies who did NOT feel that terrorist bombings are never justified.

    How many Americans would argue that terror bombings are never justified–when it is the US doing the bombing? Consider the “dehousing” bombings of WWII. Definitely state sponsored terrorism: their stated purpose was to decrease civilian morale and disrupt civilian life. I’d call them unjustified, but I suspect that I’m in a minority. Or another scenario: suppose Saudi Arabia or Iran took over the US. Never mind probability, just accept it as a given. Would you then say that (for example) IEDs could never be justified as a technique for destabilizing the occupiers? And is saying that torture is ok in some situations really any better morally than saying terrorist bombings are ok?

    The point being that the question is so broad that you don’t know if 89% of Jordanians think that bombing your neighbors because you don’t like their looks is ok or if they feel that there might be extreme situations in which the only option is terrorist bombings and that if that worst case scenario came along they’d be ok with it?

  283. #283 Dianne
    March 31, 2008

    Did eighty, ninty, ninty-nine percent of German Nazis actually believe that Jews should be brutally, torturously exterminated? I would assume, wishing some hope for humankind, that they did not.

    FWIW, the best the Nazis ever did in a contested, popular election was about 30%. Which, unfortunately, was a plurality and put them in a power position. But they never had anything close to 80-90% support.

  284. #284 Nick Gotts
    March 31, 2008

    Re #280 Jeffrey,
    You are using exactly the same type of argument as those who point out that Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot etc. were atheists. One could also point out that George W. Bush, who has been responsible for far more deaths than bin Laden, and has his hands on far more dangerous weapons is (or at least, regards himself as) an American patriot. I would argue that “Americanism” (the belief that the USA is divinely ordained to lead and save the world) is the most dangerous religious doctrine that has ever existed – and it already has control of the world’s greatest power. Now that’s really scary – and unfortunately, the most dangerous aspects of the belief-system often survive even among atheists.

  285. #285 Gingerbaker
    March 31, 2008

    Nullifidian #279 said:

    “That, of course, is not the question that they answered.”

    Wrong. Here is the exact question that they answered:

    ASK MUSLIMS ONLY:
    Q.29 Some people think that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets are justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies. Other people believe that, no matter what the reason, this kind of violence is never justified. Do you personally feel that this kind of violence is often justified to defend Islam, sometimes justified, rarely justified, or never justified?

    Remember, they are asked whether suicide bombings are justified “to defend Islam”.

    Your previous post seems way off target. I still maintain that the results of this survey question are surprising, troubling, (and since you ask), meaningful.

  286. #286 Dianne
    March 31, 2008

    Gingerbaker: Just to be clear, would you say then that suicide bombings and other acts of violence against civilians are never justified under any circumstances? Would you further say that it is immoral to take any other position?

  287. #287 Nullifidian
    March 31, 2008

    Right, so what? How does the bolded part of that quote make any difference at all?

    Does it make it worse if it’s to defend Islam rather than, say, Palestinian nationalism or forest habitat?

    It’s still asking people to invent hypotheticals rather than judging the support for concrete examples of terrorist incidents (say the 11/09 or 07/07 bombings), judging their willingness to partake in terrorist attacks, and asking their opinion if they think terrorism is necessary in their present context to defend Islam. Something like that would be meaningful. The current survey tests little more than one’s ability to invent hypothetical situations.

  288. #288 Grammar RWA
    March 31, 2008

    It’s still asking people to invent hypotheticals rather than judging the support for concrete examples of terrorist incidents (say the 11/09 or 07/07 bombings), judging their willingness to partake in terrorist attacks, and asking their opinion if they think terrorism is necessary in their present context to defend Islam. Something like that would be meaningful. The current survey tests little more than one’s ability to invent hypothetical situations.

    Well said.

    The US Army defined terrorism as “the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain political or social goals through instilling fear, coercion or intimidation.”

    Nearly all people use utilitarian thinking in some of their moral calculations. I would be surprised if a majority of US citizens did not support much hypothesized terrorism, and even some actual terrorism, such as the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    But wait. If we use the correct definition of terrorism, “any violence that Gingerbaker doesn’t approve of,” then the moral ambiguity is easily resolved.

  289. #289 Beowulff
    March 31, 2008

    I’d like to offer a little perspective and background from the Netherlands.

    One of the reasons Wilders says he had to make his movie (and one of the fears he has been feeding, and feeding off), is that Muslims will take control of the Netherlands and create a state under Muslim law unless we stop them.

    But how likely is this really?

    First, of course there are a few extremists who would like to instate Sharia law in the Netherlands. They could be dangerous, and I imagine they’re being watched by authorities, but all in all they are not very influential.

    Second, the Netherlands now has a substantial Muslim minority. Combine that with a proportional representation voting system, and in theory, there is the possibility of a Muslim party getting a sizable representation in Dutch parliament.

    No such party exists. I personally find it very telling that the vast majority of Muslims in the Netherlands are quite content to vote for or run for one of the many existing parties.

    And even if such a party would be formed? We’ve had rather conservative Christian parties with representation in parliament here for a long time now, one of which has even gotten itself into trouble in recent years for not allowing women to have official positions within their party. And yet, abortion is legal in the Netherlands, and so is gay marriage.

    So is the Netherlands in any grave danger, danger so large that Wilders needed to scare people with 9/11 imagery? Large enough we should ban the Quran, close all mosques and close our borders for all Muslims, as he suggests? I highly doubt it.

  290. #290 DingoDave
    March 31, 2008

    Ian Gould wrote in #273:
    “Dingodave, as I said, interpreartion of thi versec fallse into two camps. That preferred by about 99% of the world’s Muslims. And that preferred by yourself and Osama Bin Laden. Less facetiously, I will say that as someone who trained as a Japanese.English translator that translations from virtually any non-Indo-European language into any Indo-European language involves vast amounts of latitude.”

    and #274:
    “I suppose I should disclose a personal interest here: as a Jew, I have a vested interested in the Bin Laden/Dingo Jack “Kill the Jews” interpretation not becoming generally accepted.”

    Dear Ian,
    First of all, I don’t ‘prefer’ this interperetation of the pasage in question, I am simply pointing out the plain meaning of the text. The rabid Imams who foster hate and animosity towards non- Muslims are certainly aware of the plain meaning of the text and gleefully teach them to their followers. I can’t see that burying your head in the sand, and hoping that the words will somehow go away, will ultimately do any of us any good in either the long or the short term. I certainly don’t condone such sentiments. In fact it’s just the opposite, I hate them, as I hate any rhetoric which advocates violence against other people in the name of religion.

    Allow me to offer you some comparative translations of these Koranic verses. There is simply no room for honestly interpreting them any other way than I what have already pointed out.

    005.032
    YUSUFALI: On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our messengers with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.
    PICKTHAL: For that cause We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Our messengers came unto them of old with clear proofs (of Allah’s Sovereignty), but afterwards lo! many of them became prodigals in the earth.
    SHAKIR: For this reason did We prescribe to the children of Israel that whoever slays a soul, unless it be for manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he slew all men; and whoever keeps it alive, it is as though he kept alive all men; and certainly Our messengers came to them with clear arguments, but even after that many of them certainly act extravagantly in the land.
    005.033
    YUSUFALI: The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter;
    PICKTHAL: The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom;
    SHAKIR: The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement,

    Concerning your other point about ‘killing the Jews’, I’m afraid it’s too late. It IS generally accepted among a vast number of Muslims, and it needs to be exposed for what it is, ie. bigoted hate speech. And it’s not the only example of such sentiments, either in the Koran, or the Hadiths.

    Take for example these little gems.

    Sahih Bukhari Hadith Volume 4, Book 52, Number 176: Narrated by ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar: Allah’s Apostle said, “You (i.e. Muslims) will fight with the Jews till some of them will hide behind stones. The stones will (betray them) saying, ‘O ‘Abdullah (i.e. slave of Allah)! There is a Jew hiding behind me; so kill him.'”

    Sahih Bukhari Hadith Volume 4, Book 52, Number 177: Narrated by Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. “O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.”

    These are the kind of passages which are taught to millions of Muslim children from kindergarten onwards. Please wake up and smell the coffee.

  291. #291 Gingerbaker
    March 31, 2008

    Nullifidian said:

    “Right, so what? How does the bolded part of that quote make any difference at all?”

    Because assumptions were voiced that the survey answers may have been based or understandable if the respondents were considering their answer dependent whether they were defending their family or homeland during war. Clearly, that is not the case. The respondents were willing to use suicide bombing merely to defend their religion.

  292. #292 Gingerbaker
    March 31, 2008

    Dianne said:

    “Gingerbaker: Just to be clear, would you say then that suicide bombings and other acts of violence against civilians are never justified under any circumstances? Would you further say that it is immoral to take any other position?”

    You bet. In fact, I am incredulous that you would make an argument that suicide bombing against civilians under any scenario to be a moral act.

    Do you actually believe that there currently exist conditions in the world that justify suicide bombings?

  293. #293 Dianne
    March 31, 2008

    Gingerbaker: Just wanted to make sure I had your argument clear. So you would say that the American Revolution was immoral since it involved acts of terrorism including both murders of civilians who did not support the revolution and destruction of property? Or that the North was the immoral player in the Civil War because of Sherman’s march through Georgia, the main purpose of which was to terrorize civilians? Or the bombings of cities in WWII by both sides? Or are all these acts ok because they didn’t involve suicide bombings and only suicide bombings are immoral?

  294. #294 Dianne
    March 31, 2008

    So is the Netherlands in any grave danger, danger so large that Wilders needed to scare people with 9/11 imagery?

    No. The US has gone through multiple panics about immigrants from X (or of religion X) taking over and it’s never happened. I doubt it’ll happen there. Just keep educating everyone in the Dutch world view and the kid’s will eventually be indistinguishable from people whose ancestors have been there since time immemorial.

    Large enough we should ban the Quran, close all mosques and close our borders for all Muslims, as he suggests?

    A country a bit to the east of where you are tried that once, albeit with a different religion. It didn’t go so well. Just led to worse things in a few years. They weren’t right in blaming all the ills of their society on the minority in question either. I strongly suggest you don’t follow their example.

  295. #295 Tulse
    April 1, 2008

    So you would say that the American Revolution was immoral since it involved acts of terrorism including both murders of civilians who did not support the revolution and destruction of property? Or that the North was the immoral player in the Civil War because of Sherman’s march through Georgia, the main purpose of which was to terrorize civilians? Or the bombings of cities in WWII by both sides? Or are all these acts ok because they didn’t involve suicide bombings and only suicide bombings are immoral?

    Um…so…you think these acts were moral, Dianne? “Murder of civilians”, “terrorizing civilians”, bombing of civilian populations?

    Man, maybe the creos are right about God being necessary for morality…

  296. #296 Anton Mates
    April 1, 2008

    I would be surprised if a majority of US citizens did not support much hypothesized terrorism, and even some actual terrorism, such as the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    It’s not terrorism when we do it, silly. It’s Shock and Awe.

  297. #297 Nick Gotts
    April 1, 2008

    I agree that it is very troubling that so many Muslims feel that attacks on civilians are justified under some circumstances. However, throughout the cold war, and since, NATO doctrine has included a preparedness to use nuclear weapons, and not just in retaliation for their use by an enemy (which would still involve the mass murder of civilians), but to use them first. Some of us, both religious believers and atheists, have tried to get this policy changed, but I believe majority public opinion in the US, UK (and France, which has its own nukes, not assigned to NATO and I believe takes the same line) has not supported us. Some of the reported sayings of Jesus the Nazarene are rather neat – or maybe they just seem that way because of cultural conditioning; I’m thinking in particular of one about motes and beams.

    As for the suggestion that it’s somehow worse that the approval related to attacks on civilians “in defence of Islam” rather than anything else (a) That is what they were asked about, we don’t know whether the results would have been different, and if so in what direction, if they had been asked about their country, family or whatever and (b) It is Islam as such which many Muslims feel is under attack. Looking back through these comments, is it really that difficult to understand this feeling?

  298. #298 Tulse
    April 1, 2008

    It is Islam as such which many Muslims feel is under attack. Looking back through these comments, is it really that difficult to understand this feeling?

    And that justifies approval of terror tactics? Anti-abortionists feel under attack in the US — does that justify the murder of doctors and blowing up of clinics?

    I cannot believe we are actually having a discussion about justifications for terrorism. In any context (including the US Revolutionary War, the US Civil War, WWII, and today), such actions are obscene and reprehensible, no matter the pretext. To think otherwise is to abandon the notion of civilization itself.

  299. #299 Gingerbaker
    April 1, 2008

    Agreed, Tulse.

    I am also dumbfounded that some refuse to see the difference between a nation at war using its military, and the actions of a group of zealots whose intention is to murder children.

    Call me unsophisticated, I guess.

    I just hope that a good hard agenda-free look at the Pew study results can at least put a stop to assuming that we can make predictions about Muslim extremism based upon our observations of Christian radicalism.

  300. #300 Nick Gotts
    April 1, 2008

    #297 “”It is Islam as such which many Muslims feel is under attack. Looking back through these comments, is it really that difficult to understand this feeling?”

    And that justifies approval of terror tactics?”

    Would you care to read the first sentence of my comment?

    #298 “I am also dumbfounded that some refuse to see the difference between a nation at war using its military, and the actions of a group of zealots whose intention is to murder children.”
    If it is known that use of the military is certain, or highly likely, to lead to the death of children, I see no morally relevant difference. I am not a pacifist, sometimes evil must be done to prevent greater evil, but I do not see what difference it makes to the argument in a particular case, whether those doing the killing belong to the armed forces of a state or not. Explain it to me.

  301. #301 Dianne
    April 1, 2008

    Um…so…you think these acts were moral, Dianne?

    Nope. But I am unusual by American standards. Tell most people in the US that their Patriot ancestors engaged in terrorism and they’ll freak on you. I was making the assumption, possibly unfounded, that Gingerbaker was a more typical American. Furthermore, Gingerbaker seems to me to be making the case that Islam is a particularly evil religion because it leads people to terrorist acts. No, it isn’t. All religions and indeed all beliefs can lead people to commit atrocities and acts of terrorism. Anti-abortionists kill in the name of “life”. The Vietnam War was fought in the name of “peace.” Suicide and non-suicide bombings of civilians or soldiers are immoral no matter what the excuse. But the fact that a society has engaged in such does not make it a degenerate, immoral society without any redeeming features. On the contrary, it makes it typical. (Can you name any countries that have never fought an unjust war? Any religions or ideologies whose followers have never engaged in oppression of the heathen?)

  302. #302 Dianne
    April 1, 2008

    I am also dumbfounded that some refuse to see the difference between a nation at war using its military, and the actions of a group of zealots whose intention is to murder children.

    Care to explain the difference for the slower of us out here? Use small words. Because I can’t see that it makes so much difference whether the people killing civilians wear a uniform and answer to a government or are doing it for their own reasons.

  303. #303 Dianne
    April 1, 2008

    I just hope that a good hard agenda-free look at the Pew study results

    The Pew Foundation may not be the best source for agenda free results I hadn’t realized who they were earlier. I think you can put as much trust in their results as you can on tobacco company internal research results on smoking and the risk of lung cancer.

  304. #304 Grammar RWA
    April 1, 2008

    I am also dumbfounded that some refuse to see the difference between a nation at war using its military, and the actions of a group of zealots whose intention is to murder children.

    And just what the fuck is the difference, Gingerbaker?

    A nation is a bunch of people. So you’re saying it’s wrong if twenty people commit murder of innocent civilians. But somehow it’s “more right” if a million people do it.

    Tulse did not make this distinction, so in fact you two are not “agreed.” Tulse condemned Muslim suicide bombings and American nuclear bombings for the same reason. That is a consistent position, shared by Dianne, Nick Gotts (to a somewhat different but still consistent degree), and myself. You, Gingerbaker, are guilty of special pleading.

    You’ve been trying to make some point about how Muslims can’t be trusted because lots of them support terrorism. At the same time you’ve completely ignored the fact that many or most United States citizens support terrorism. And you want to ring the alarm bells over the Muslims, but not the Americans. There is no excuse for being a crazy bigot against Muslims while ignoring the actions of terrorist states like the USA.

    I’m not oblivious to terrorism in the name of Islam. But what are the body counts here? How many have been killed by terrorism in the name of capitalism in the last century?

  305. #305 Grammar RWA
    April 1, 2008

    Suicide and non-suicide bombings of civilians or soldiers are immoral no matter what the excuse. But the fact that a society has engaged in such does not make it a degenerate, immoral society without any redeeming features. On the contrary, it makes it typical.

    More gracefully said than I could have mustered, Dianne.

    I repeat the above quote because honest conversation cannot continue unless it is acknowledged. So don’t just mosey on past, Gingerbaker.

  306. #306 Gingerbaker
    April 1, 2008

    Diane said:

    “The Pew Foundation may not be the best source for agenda free results I hadn’t realized who they were earlier. I think you can put as much trust in their results as you can on tobacco company internal research results on smoking and the risk of lung cancer.”

    I suggest you read the article you just offered as rebuttal a bit closer. I think you might find it enlightening.

  307. #307 Gingerbaker
    April 1, 2008

    Diane #300 said:

    “Furthermore, Gingerbaker seems to me to be making the case that Islam is a particularly evil religion because it leads people to terrorist acts.”

    I have no idea why you think I tried to make such a case. I did not.

    What I said was that the best source of information that I could find – please feel free to provide a better source – indicates that the percentage of Muslim extremists in many geographic areas is higher than one would think based on out western experience with the percentage of extremists in Christian populations.

    I presented this because it seemed half of the posts in this thread claimed that the number (ratio) of Muslim extremists would be the same as Christian extremists. The data appear to indicate this is not likely.

    I also said that I found the absolute numbers of suicide bombing approving Muslims to be shockingly high and troubling to me. Please don’t put words in my mouth. Thanks.

  308. #308 Gingerbaker
    April 1, 2008

    Grammar RWA #303 said:

    “And you want to ring the alarm bells over the Muslims, but not the Americans. ”

    Where in the world did that come from?? Calm down, take two aspirin, and try, really try, to read what I wrote.

    I never said that the loss of innocent life by a military power was moral, just that it was a different proposition than suicide bombings.

    I never said anything about atrocities ascribable to Americans.

    And I am not convinced that pointing out research results about Muslim extremism makes me a “crazy bigot”, although bigoted I likely am. Just like everybody else in this world.

  309. #309 Nick Gotts
    April 1, 2008

    #303 gingerbaker: “I never said that the loss of innocent life by a military power was moral, just that it was a different proposition than suicide bombings.”

    Assuming you actually meant “I never said a state military force killing innocent people was moral, just that it was a different proposition than suicide bombings.”, rather than the garbled nonsense you wrote, why is it different?

  310. #310 Grammar RWA
    April 1, 2008

    I never said that the loss of innocent life by a military power was moral, just that it was a different proposition than suicide bombings.

    Yes, and you keep “just saying.” These are called unsupported assertions. Discourse calls for slightly more.

    I never said anything about atrocities ascribable to Americans.

    Don’t make me get my cluebat.

    My whole point has been that you gave us supposedly “very troubling” numbers of “Islamic extremists” while at the same time you never said anything about how similar numbers of Americans support the wholesale slaughter of civilians.

    It was your exaggeration of the relative threats that outed you as a bigot, if you’re still wondering.

    For the reasons that Nullifidian gave in #286, I’m surprised that the numbers are so low in western Europe. They are going to do just fine.

  311. #311 Anton Mates
    April 1, 2008

    And again: shock and awe. In the Iraq invasion, our military officials expressed the explicit goal of terrifying and demoralizing the Iraqis into a rapid surrender, via the use of overwhelming force on both military and civilian targets.

    Most Americans did not seem particularly opposed to this tactic in principle.

  312. #312 Gingerbaker
    April 2, 2008

    Grammer RWA said:

    “For the reasons that Nullifidian gave in #286, I’m surprised that the numbers are so low in western Europe. They are going to do just fine.”

    LOL. But I thought the Pew survey numbers did not relate to potential violence? I guess the western European Muslims just don’t have as much “ability to invent hypothetical situations” as the Jordanians.

  313. #313 Grammar RWA
    April 2, 2008

    Le sigh. You dumbass. It means they perceive little threat to Islam from western democracy, submerged in it as they are. Fewer threats, fewer hypotheticals.

  314. #314 J
    April 4, 2008
  315. #315 Kseniya
    April 4, 2008

    And again: shock and awe

    I think it would have been more honest to simply call it what it was: “Lightningwar”.

  316. #316 Engineer-Poet
    April 8, 2008

    Quoth Ian Gould:

    Atheism, as it is represented by some posters here, isn’t so much a philosophical position as it is a rationale for killing Arabs and stealing their oil.

    Except you’re talking to someone whose position is to displace oil in our economies and make it worthless.  And the best-seller status of “Mein Kampf” in Islamic countries is documented in places like Japan Times [1] (hardly a hotbed of American atheism).

    Quoth laserboy:

    As for the “where are the moderate muslims?” that was answered earlier in the thread. They are there, they are commenting, and the west is not listening at all.

    Yes, they are commenting.  Their comments condemn us for daring to speak ill of their co-religionists, instead of condemning their co-religionists for their inhumanity.  And every time we point to some element of their theology which supports the atrocities and is used by the murderers and their “spiritual leaders” in the mosques, we’re told it’s “out of context” or “not reliable”.  This is obfuscation and deception, aka “taqiyya”.

    Before we can expect reform, we have to have lots of people saying that there is something seriously wrong.  Where’s the Islamic equivalent of Martin Luther and his 95 theses?  There are the apostates like Ibn Warraq and Wafa Sultan, but like Ayaan Hirsi Ali I’ll bet that most of them are either hiding behind pseudonyms (Ibn Warraq) or hiding from those who would kill them (like A.H. Ali and Abdul Rahman[2]).

    As for the video itself, you cannot take it at face value. I could use similar techniques to make a similarly damning film about secularlism

    As a rough estimate, how many hijacked airliners, murdered film producers and beheadings would you be able to document as attributable to secularism?

    One in four American muslims polled approves of suicide bombing in at least some circumstances [3].  13% of UK muslims polled believe suicide attacks against the USA are justified [4].

    Quoth Nullifidian:

    Whose voting rights in East Jerusalem exist at the whim of the reigning prime minister…

    Maybe that’s because the people in question aren’t Israeli citizens, and claim to be part of some other polity called “Palestinians” (which seem to have arisen since the 1967 war, before which “Palestinian” meant the land but the non-Jewish people were “Arabs”).

    This is one more example of the Muslim apologists re-defining words to mean whatever will let them take what they want, whether it’s money, land or other people’s lives.

    Zionists collaborated with Hitler too, with the aim of establishing a Jewish homeland.

    If you call “running for their lives” collaboration.  The British refused them visas to go to Mandatory Palestine, the US refused them visas to come here, and so forth; eventually Hitler decided on The Final Solution.  Such is the distant acquaintance Nullifidian has with truth; his “blame the West for everything” is of a kind with the rest.

    One “inconvenient truth” for Nullifidian which shows the utter evil of Islam:  a little interview in which a British imam says, and I quote:

    When we say innocent people, we mean muslims.  As far as non-muslims are concerned, they have uh, they have not accepted Islam and as far as we are concerned that is a crime against God.

    [emphasis added].  That enough for you, laserboy?

    Islam is a crime against humanity.

    Footnotes with links in next response (because this comment will get held indefinitely if I include them in-line).

  317. #318 Nullifidian
    May 2, 2008

    I missed this the first time around because I thought the thread had died…apologies for revisiting it, but it just popped up on an internet search.

    This is obfuscation and deception, aka “taqiyya”.

    Everything old is new again in the world of tribal hatreds. Here we are simply revisiting the anti-Catholic bigotry of the early Protestant period, when “equivocation” was the Jesuit concept being malformed and misattributed to Catholicism as a whole to suggest that one could never trust a ‘Papist’.

    Here, it’s taqiyya, which is a concept much like the Jesuit conception of “equivocation” and for the same purposes, and only applies to the Shi’a community (and even some Shi’ites reject it). Again, it’s being applied to whole communities who do not propose it (in case it’s escaped your attention, most Muslims are Sunni) and being misdefined to defame them.

    Before we can expect reform, we have to have lots of people saying that there is something seriously wrong. Where’s the Islamic equivalent of Martin Luther and his 95 theses? There are the apostates….

    Yes, there are the apostates, and it really says something that this is the only community you can think of who is addressing the ‘problems’ of Islam. The reason that is is because you regard Islam itself, no matter how liberalized, as the problem. From a conservative Wahhabist to a near-pantheist Sufi, the differences don’t matter to you. The fact that they’re still Muslim is enough for you to reject whatever they have to say. This is a position ignorantly taken up by the current U.S. administration by, among other things, refusing Tariq Ramadan’s visa to teach in the U.S.

    As a rough estimate, how many hijacked airliners, murdered film producers and beheadings would you be able to document as attributable to secularism?

    As far as hijackings go, quite a few. FARC is a secular institution, and has been responsible for the hijackings of commercial airliners coming into and out of Columbia. And murdered film professors…well, there’s the whole imprisonment or killing of scores of intellectuals, including filmmakers, behind the Iron Curtain.

    Whose voting rights in East Jerusalem exist at the whim of the reigning prime minister…

    Maybe that’s because the people in question aren’t Israeli citizens, and claim to be part of some other polity called “Palestinians” (which seem to have arisen since the 1967 war, before which “Palestinian” meant the land but the non-Jewish people were “Arabs”).

    So it’s permissible for the Israeli Prime Minister to interfere with the voting rights of people who are not Israeli citizens? Wow. I’d love to see whatever justification you get from that.

    The rest of the statement was gobbledygook. Completely incoherent. One might as well say that “England” simply refers to the land and that the native peoples we call English ought to actually be considered “whites”. It’s nonsense, and, as nonsense deployed to deny people the rights to land which was stolen from them, immoral nonsense at that.

    This is one more example of the Muslim apologists re-defining words to mean whatever will let them take what they want, whether it’s money, land or other people’s lives.

    If you want to look at who was taking land from whom, I suggest you examine the massacre at Deir Yassin and other places where people had the will to resist Irgun, the Stern Gang, etc.

    If you call “running for their lives” collaboration.

    No, I call active collaboration collaboration, starting from the very first in 1933, when the German Zionist Federation sent a memo to the Nazis arguing that a satisfying solution to the “Jewish question” would be to assist them in their own nationalist aspirations. Even as late as the period of 1940 and 1941, after the “German firm” stickers came out and Krystallnacht occured, Avraham Stern, Yitzak Shamir, etc. were proposing the “establishment of the historic Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, bound by a treaty with the German Reich” and that Israeli “National Military Organization” (Irgun Zvai Leumi) would undertake to fight for Germany if Germany supported them in their efforts to secure a homeland in Palestine.

    Such is the distant acquaintance Nullifidian has with truth; his “blame the West for everything” is of a kind with the rest.

    Such is the distant acquaintance that Engineer-Poet has with truth that he claims that I’ve ever expressed a view which “blames the West for everything”.

    One “inconvenient truth” for Nullifidian which shows the utter evil of Islam: a little interview in which a British imam says, and I quote:

    When we say innocent people, we mean muslims. As far as non-muslims are concerned, they have uh, they have not accepted Islam and as far as we are concerned that is a crime against God.

    To which I say, who cares? I haven’t been denying that there are people with dangerously deranged, fundamentalist visions of Islam and its holy books. I have merely argued that these visions are not normative, and a single interview with someone who is barely more of a religious expert than I am is not evidence. It would be like using Francis Schaeffer to establish the danger inherent in Episcopalianism.

  318. #319 RMM
    April 1, 2009

    What about basic human psychology as motivating factor? Religion is just a language people use to discuss core existential issues. Delusion is a psychological state founded in fear, not ‘language’.

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