Melanie Phillips Discusses the Unspeakable

I recently attended a conference in Budapest, where I made the mistake of saying that Europe was in danger of “going under” to Islam. It was something like passing loud and smelly wind in public. Not too many people wanted to talk to me after that, and no one wanted to talk about my remark. What’s so appalling is that it’s precisely that failure to face the problem that makes it so likely. Here Melanie Phillips pulls no punches.

Sleepwalking Into Enslavement
The Spectator
MONDAY, 7TH JANUARY 2008

Step by remorseless step, the free world continues in its trance-like state to attack, disable or paralyse its ability to defend itself against the global Islamic jihad.

In other words, a form of auto-immune deficiency. Here, not only can the system’s “brain” not recognize the nature of the invasive forces, but it actively attacks any anti-bodies that spontaneously form… as in the “Canadian Human Rights Commission” in its prosecution of Ezra Levant for publishing the Muhammad Cartoons.

First, the ineffable UN has condemned not Islamic terrorism but the identification of and defence against it. As Robert Spencer reports:

    The Organization of the Islamic Conference, the largest voting bloc at the United Nations, has succeeded in pushing through the UN a resolution condemning the ‘defamation of religions.’ That’s ‘religions,’ not ‘religion’ – yet according to Cybercast News Service, ‘although the resolution refers to defamation of ‘religions,’ Islam is the only religion named in the text, which also takes a swipe at counter-terrorism security measures.’ …The resolution denounces ‘laws that stigmatize groups of people belonging to certain religions and faiths under a variety of pretexts relating to security and illegal immigration.’ Muslims, it says, have suffered from ‘ethnic and religious profiling…in the aftermath of the tragic events of 11 September 2001.’ This is the fault, in part, of ‘the negative projection of Islam in the media.’ The UN voices its ‘deep concern that Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism.’

Perish the thought. Next, the western liberal mind now presents such a mortal threat to life and liberty that a group of anti-jihadi Muslims has been driven to denounce an American Reform rabbi, Rabbi Yoffie,for his sanitising of Islamic extremism and grotesque moral equivalence. In a column in The Jewish Week, they said they viewed with dismay a ‘partnership’ between the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) which they said was not a legitimate representative of mainstream Islamic believers in the West.

    Rabbi Yoffie was cited by the Post in a number of statements with which we disagree. He said, ‘As a once-persecuted minority in countries where antisemitism is still a force, we [Reform Jews] understand the plight of Muslims in North America today.’ We are Muslims concerned to protect the rights of our communities in non-Muslim societies, but we consider absurd any attempt to equate the situation of Muslims in Western Europe and North America today with historic anti-Jewish prejudice and oppression. Muslims in Western Europe and North America have not been subjected, in recent times, to wholesale denial of civil rights. Free discourse about Islam in the Western democracies is occasionally abrasive, but has never resembled the wholesale libels directed against Jews — including by latter-day Islamists — and has not been embraced by or institutionalized by any government in Western Europe or North America.

When I made my remark about Europe possibly going under to Islam, the chair of my panel rebuked me: “It’s like accusing the Jews of wanting to take over the world, a new version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” The statement is deeply ironic. It’s an attempt to dismiss the awareness of an Islamic imperialism that does threaten Europe by pretending it’s as false as the forged and destructive fantasy of Jews wanting to take over the world. “Lest we end up being like the Nazis, let us not go down that paranoid path,” it seems to say.

And yet, no Jew ever claimed they wanted to take over Europe or the world; the Jews never had the demographic weight to conceive of a population take-over; and finally, the Jews’ power came from their genuinely playing the rules of the game of civil society. In the current scene, Muslims openly declare their desire to take over; they have effectuated a stunning demographic shift over the past generation which is accelerating; and they act precisely as the Jews are accused of doing in the Protocolsusing democracy to destroy freedom.

    Rabbi Yoffie continued, ‘Islamic extremists constitute a profound threat. For some, this is a reason to flee from dialogue, but in fact the opposite is true.’ We do not understand the intent of this statement. It appears that Rabbi Yoffie believes dialogue is possible with extremists. We do not agree. We believe that dialogue between mainstream Muslims, Jews, and Christians is necessary, but that the defeat of Islamist extremists is necessary for such interfaith efforts to succeed. We do not support ‘dialogue’ with Islamist and other apologists for violence, or proponents of restrictions on freedom under the pretext of religion.

To which one can only say ‘Bravo’ to these courageous Muslims for reasserting truth and sanity in the face of a lethally deluded Jewish liberal.

Next, an intensely disturbing development in, of all places, the Pentagon. One expects the State Department to grovel to illegitimate force, but the Department of Defence has been assumed to be more robust. No longer. It has fired Stephen Coughlin, its most knowledgeable specialist on Islamic law and Islamist extremism — because he committed the crime of identifying that extremism. The Washington Times reports that Hasham Islam, a key aide to the Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, tried to get Coughlin to soften his views about Islamic extremism.

    Misguided Pentagon officials, including Mr. Islam and Mr. England, have initiated an aggressive ‘outreach’ program to U.S. Muslim groups that critics say is lending credibility to what has been identified as a budding support network for Islamist extremists, including front groups for the radical Muslim Brotherhood.

    Mr. Coughlin wrote a memorandum several months ago based on documents made public in a federal trial in Dallas that revealed a covert plan by the Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian-origin Islamist extremist group, to subvert the United States using front groups. Members of one of the identified front groups, the Islamic Society of North America, has been hosted by Mr. England at the Pentagon.

So much for America’s role on the battleground of ideas.

In Britain, one man does get it. The Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, himself the Pakistani son of a Muslim convert to Christianity, created a storm when he wrote in the Sunday Telegraph that Islamic extremists have created ‘no-go’ areas across Britain where it is too dangerous for non-Muslims to enter. Already separate communities, he says, have been turned into areas where adherence to this ideology has become a mark of acceptability.

Those of a different faith or race may find it difficult to live or work there because of hostility to them. In many ways, this is but the other side of the coin to far-Right intimidation. Attempts have been made to impose an ‘Islamic’ character on certain areas, for example, by insisting on artificial amplification for the Adhan, the call to prayer. Such amplification was, of course, unknown throughout most of history and its use raises all sorts of questions about noise levels and whether non-Muslims wish to be told the creed of a particular faith five times a day on the loudspeaker. This is happening here even though some Muslim-majority communities are trying to reduce noise levels from multiple mosques announcing this call, one after the other, over quite a small geographical area.

There is pressure already to relate aspects of the sharia to civil law in Britain. To some extent this is already true of arrangements for sharia-compliant banking but have the far-reaching implications of this been fully considered? It is now less possible for Christianity to be the public faith in Britain.

The Roman Empire fell in part because the Germanic kingdoms carved out autonomous regions from the Empire’s living body politic.

For uttering these truths, the Bishop has been denounced by both Islamists (with the ever-more preposterous Inayat Bunglawala proving the Bishop’s point by asserting that church bells are just as much of a public nuisance in Britain as the muezzin’s call to prayer) and Nick Clegg, the new centrist Gramscian leader of the more mature infantile Liberal Democrats.

Clegg described the Bishop’s comments as

    a gross caricature of reality.

Once again, however, it was a Muslim who showed up both the idiocy and the arrogance of the western liberal. Manzoor Moghal, chairman of the Muslim forum, wrote of the Bishop in the Daily Mail:

    He has been condemned for making ‘inflammatory’ remarks, distorting the truth about our inner cities and ‘scaremongering’ against the Muslim population. But, paradoxically, this reaction from the politically-correct establishment is an indicator of the weight of his case. If our ruling elite were not so worried that his views would strike a chord with the public, it would not have been so anxious to condemn him.

    His statement about the dangers of the rise of radical Islam matches the reality of what people see in our cities and towns, where the influence of hardliners is undermining harmony and promoting segregation…However much his critics may sneer at his accusations, the fact is that the determination of some of my fellow Muslims to cling to certain lifestyles, customs, languages and practices has helped to create neighbourhoods where non-Muslims may feel uncomfortable, even intimidated.

Indeed.

It is encouraging that Muslim voices are now being heard more and more speaking up against Islamic extremism. Their task is made infinitely more difficult, however, by western liberals determined to do the extremists’ work for them.

It has been a longstanding argument that only moderate Muslims can save Islam. Given our idiocy, it may be that only courageous moderate Muslims will save the West.

54 Responses to Melanie Phillips Discusses the Unspeakable

  1. [...] post by Augean Stables and software by Elliott Back This entry is filed under Human body. You can follow any responses [...]

  2. fp says:

    rl,

    i’ve been saying this much earlier than phillips. yet you argued that I am too pessimistic. isn’t phillips?

    fp
    http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/

    RL: you got me. what can i say. there’s a difference between dire warning and writing off. does MP warn without giving up? i’m not sure. i haven’t given up, and in conversations with MP, i certainly don’t think she has, altho she’s very pessimistic. still, i don’t have a good answer to your challenge, fp.

  3. The unspeakable: Richard Landes and Melanie Phillips

    “I recently attended a conference in Budapest, where I made the mistake of saying that Europe was in danger of ‘going under’ to Islam. It was something like passing loud and smelly wind in public. Not too many people wanted…

  4. Lorenz Gude says:

    Wonderful post. Anbar tribesmen can call al Qaeda Godless thugs, but you get silenced for mentioning the obvious. This post makes it even clearer to me that we are involved in two wars – the one against religious fanatics on the outside and the war against those within our own culture that deny there is an external threat. I’m an optimist-if folks like you and me and fp are just paranoid,then there is no problem.If we are right,then the fanatics will persist until they wake the West’s cultural immune system up. That’s what they did to the people of al Anbar who are now doing what is necessary – defeating them.

  5. fp says:

    lorenz,

    don’t compare anbar to the west. the former come from the same culture and religion and both understand who they’re dealing with and have no inhibitions how to deal with them. the latter come from a culture and social mechanisms which leave them ignorant and able only to appease.

    the immune system seems to be affected by aids and it’s entirely not clear that a cure will come in time to save whatever is left, which, as phillips documents and I’ve been arguing for years, is already imposing sharia law on itself.

  6. Abu Nudnik says:

    The Roman Empire fell in part because the Germanic kingdoms carved out autonomous regions from the Empire’s living body politic.

  7. Abu Nudnik says:

    The Roman Empire fell in part because the Germanic kingdoms carved out autonomous regions from the Empire’s living body politic.

    Oh I don’t know about this one Richard. The opposite argument could hold much weight: that the Roman Empire’s longevity was due in part to the autonomy it afforded conquered peoples. It was the turning of the Romans from martial and practical matters to pacifistic Christian monasteries that led young men to desert the fields of planting and battle, thus forcing the Empire to hire those barbarians to farm and fight. Alaric learned the arts of war as a mercenary for Rome. The lack of faith of Romans in Rome is what led to its fall. That is the proper parallel: the lack of faith the West has in the West. This is the real enemy: were it vanquished, Islamist could gain no foothold here.

    RL: I agree with much of what you say, although i don’t think it’s a mutually exclusive issue. affording autonomy to conquered peoples and allowing them to come into the core areas of the empire (like Gaul) and establish autonomous polities that suffocate Roman culture is another matter. the lack of faith in Roman civilization made it impossible for the romans to absorb and “civilize” the barbarians (see the failed attempts of Theodoric). i agree that the lack of faith in the west has made the west especially vulnerable, and willing to allow this cannibalization of the west. as for the sentence in question, it is not mine, but Peter Heather, The Fall of Rome.

  8. [...] Melanie Phillips Discusses the Unspeakable Next, an intensely disturbing development in, of all places, the Pentagon. One expects the State Department to grovel to illegitimate force, but the Department of Defence has been assumed to be more robust. No longer. … [...]

  9. Abu Nudnik says:

    I should add the obvious irony. After quietistic Christianity failed and the barbarians sacked Rome, Islam made its great rise. It was against this rise that a new form of Christianity took root. The Church Militant created the Empire of Charlemagne and from that time on the Church and State perfected themselves and each other, each the stop to hone the other: an effective separation of powers that led the West to surpass Islam (and embarrass it) until the religious wars of the West (comparable to Islam’s internal war today in which we in the West get caught in the crossfire or used as target practise?) led to a spiral of doubt, leading the the erosion of the relationship of church and state, the abolition of the divine right of kings and a bloody search for new modes of government from the USA’s brilliant constitution to the appalling horrors of fascism and communism. We still search, from “Artistic moral perfectionism” to “Science’s perfect rationalism” and other even more loopy ideas to some Nirvana of political thought. Meanwhile the threat gathers as the West tries to get to some core sustainable values. Militancy when necessary is clearly a necessity in the mix and its rejection by huge chunks of the West very much resemble the earlier quietistic Christianity so instrumental to the fall of Rome.

  10. Bishop says:

    Western militancy in response to Muslim predations will arise eventually, just as Islamic militancy (in it’s current form) arose in response to perceived threats. The operative term here is “perceived” (the Islamofascists use of western technology and products in their war of “liberation” is a great irony); the threat the west faces is far more real than that which the Muslims have concocted.

    There are no shortage of irregular forces and third-state actors who would be more than willing to visit upon Muslim lands the sort of violence they themselves have opted to use, indeed that violence could include the most terrible of weapons.

    Every attack by Islamic terrorists simply cement the stereotypical view that they can only be dealt with through violent means. If the silent and peaceful Muslim majority actually exists, they had better start talking, before the west decides that option is no longer viable.

  11. Canada: Freedom of Speech succumbing to Kangaroo Courts of the Human Rights Commission

    Proceedings against Ezra Levant are nothing short of ridiculous, but let’s consider the implications for moderate Muslims. This “investigation” will further divide Muslims and non-Muslims in Canada. It will give credence to radicals’ claims that the West is at war with Islam. It will antagonize non-Muslims and moderate Muslims will be pushed towards radicalization. Regardless of the outcome, once again Islamists skillfully manipulated Dhimmi justice system and came out as clear winners. Thank you, Human Right Commission!

    Muslims Against Sharia are proud to be the first Muslim group to publicly support Ezra Levant and denounce HRC inquisition
    http://muslimsagainstsharia.blogspot.com/2008/01/canada-freedom-of-speech-succumbing-to.html

    Sign Free Dominion Against the HRCs Petition
    http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/a-free-dominion-against-the-hrcs.html

  12. fp says:

    nudnik, you seem to imply that scientific rationalism is a “loopy idea”. if so, THAT’s a loopy idea.

    the problem of the west is NOT reason, but lack thereof. it’s when it BECAME rational by coming out of religious rule that it built a civilization and came up with the best of contributions. before it was producing things like popes and inquisition, much as islamism produces today. and now it is descending into the same crap, via collapse of education and discarding knowledge and reason. that’s why it’s losing.

  13. Lorenz Gude says:

    Reply to fp – comment 5 above

    I do compare Anbarese to Westerners simply as humans because, regardless of the real cultural differences you allude to, I really do believe that the fanaticism of al Qaeda and their ilk will be their undoing. I’m being an ‘optimist’ only in the sense that I have faith in unbalanced extremists eventually bringing the world down around their head. (I did aim that at you hoping to raise a smile.) I absolutely agree with you and RL that the cultural immune system of the West has an aids like problem. I think it is about 15% of Americans want to see us defeated in Iraq. I found myself thinking about RL’s post today far less ironically and realized that the outrageousness of the chairman’s rebuke comparing Richard’s warning to the Protocols caused me to miss the striking resemblance between current Eurodenial and the tragic belief among Jews, even on the way to the camps, that nothing untoward would befall them. It looks to me that the error in both cases is projecting rationality on non rational thugs.

  14. Abu Nudnik says:

    Dear fp: I didn’t say that scientific rationalism is a loopy idea, I said that as a POLITICAL idea it was one of a number of loopy ideas (Fascism, Communism, Artistic moral perfectionism, the “soft power” of the soft-brained Lloyd Axworthy) to compete since the fall of the old Church and State arrangement. Scientific rationalism is not in itself enough to lead ANY culture anywhere. The engineers were able to produce atom bombs out of great scientific insights. They could have and did produce other things but the things they produce are a reflection of the vision of the culture. The cultural vision, the mythos of a culture, and its ethos is not something that can be created by mere scientific rationalism which begins with the given and tries to understand it to order the facts of experience in the most economic possible way, to paraphrase Whitehead. Humans are FEELING beings and their aspirations are not necessarily rational. Yet without them there would be no wonder in living. Or no living at all. That doesn’t make me anti-science nor is science at its most rational when it denies many facts of human life: that people have bodies of unfulfilled aspirations which theologists call souls.

    I don’t believe Europe was ever “under religious rule” as you put it. The situation was more complex, as I believe I described above. The Church gave its support to the State, the State protected the Church. Their labour was divided. Nor can the achievements of Europe before the Enlightenment be accurately described as the production of nothing but popes and inquisitions. If someone were to say that science only brought us the two most bloody wars in history and a looming nuclear and/or environmental apocalypse I would tell him what I’m telling you: your focus is too narrow. Scientific principles are neutral and religious feeling can be the source of tremendous moral behaviour and great self-sacrifice and service to mankind as a whole. The suicide bomber is a better example of a moral pervert than a religious man.

    Dear Richard: Thank you for your response and for pointing out that the line I responded to isn’t yours but Heather’s and recommending his book. I’ll look it up at the library. Other than that I’ll say in agreement that no-go areas are certainly a threat to national sovereignty as are special dealings with groups (the suit against Ezra Levant of one). I don’t disagree with that but only a culture sadly without faith in itself would sue its own people for living in the ways of its own culture (freedom of speech and the press).

  15. Richard,

    The very first time I spoke to Bat Ye’or was to ask her a question. She had just presented her Eurabia thesis and it was shortly after the start of the French uprising when the giant car-B-Q was well and truly alight. I asked her what she would do if she was the President of France.

    I’ll quote her answer verbatim:

    “Emigrate to America”

    I would have thought she was joking except that I’ve met and spoken with her quite often since, and I know she was deadly serious.

    Brian of London (of Shire Network News)

  16. igout says:

    No surprise about your chilly reception in Budapest, RL. An academic conference, was it? You won’t find many fighters there, and anyway most of them never met a damnée de la terre they didn’t love. When their ungrateful protegés put a most Koranic butcher knife to their gullets, will they finally sober up?

    I bet not, judging from the politically correct gasbags in Israel that you often write about.

  17. fp says:

    nudnik,

    there are so many problems with your facts, reasoning and interpretation that corrections would be beyond the time and inclination I have. The sheer putting of communism, fascism and scientific rationalism in the same sentence dissuades me from it.

    science is neutral, a tool. how it’s being used — for what purposes — is a completely separate matter, it can be used for bad or good purposes. if the former, the fault is not with knowledge and reason per se.

    fascism, communism and organized religions have all deviated to various degrees from knowledge and reason, which is in large part what ultimately brought them down. islamism is winning precisely because the west has now discarded knowledge and reason. that’s not the whole cause, but it’s a huge part.

  18. fp says:

    brian,

    emigrating to america would be only a temporary solution, methinks. it will take more time for the same problems to reach america, but the process has already started.

  19. fp says:

    igout,

    i’m with you.

    they MAY get it at some point, but it’ll be too late.
    after all, the jews ultimately got it at the camps, but by then what could they do about it?

    RL: to Igout and Brian. The only real difference is that by the time it becomes a really serious problem in the USA, the fate of Europe will make the drivel our MSM and talking heads hand out about how it’s racist to think Islamists want to take over, and they’re a tiny minority anyway, will not longer work.

  20. “It was something like passing loud and smelly wind in public. Not too many people wanted to talk to me after that, and no one wanted to talk about my remark.”

    I know the feeling.

  21. davidka says:

    ‘the latter come from a culture and social mechanisms which leave them ignorant and able only to appease.’
    from FP
    there is a strong probability that the above were put in place within our institutions so as to facilitate the Islamic immigration and the soft coercion of our mindset.
    in the last millenium Islam conquered Persia because they attacked it at the very time it was at its weakest state for centuries.
    Is european civilisation also now at its weakest point and ready to br ingested?

  22. fp says:

    davidka,

    you have to ask?

  23. davidka says:

    ‘You have to ask’ do you not if civilisations are often destroyed from within and the opportunist barbarians arrive to feast on an already decomposing corpse.

  24. Abu Nudnik says:

    fp: Anyone can say there are too many problems with your facts and reasoning without mentioning a single instance of mistaken fact or reasoning. That’s easy. I can’t understand the animus. You and I agree on many important things, I think.

    Certainly science is not comparable to any political system. I didn’t say it was. On the contrary, I said that science in itself cannot provide political leadership. Of course science and its applications are different: I said so myself. I believe you’re not really reading me but jumping to conclusions.

    Your own argument suffers from that criticism you level at me. “Organized religions” (are there unorganized ones?) are NOT political systems nor are their “deviation from reason” surprising or even “deviations” since reason is not “natural” but created by man’s genius. Religions are not about reason. they are about faith: they are metaphoric and poetical. Their way of telling the story of man is not reasoned but poetic.

    I don’t know if reason alone can save us is what I mean. It is reasonable to allow Muslims the same equal treatment under the law in the USA, sure. But if that right means not having your face uncovered for a driver’s license that goes against the whole purpose of the photo, to see if you’re qualified to drive, then that reason becomes unreasonable. There are lots of examples of reason going awry.

    There is no large purely secular community that can fight Islamism and so we can be devoured piecemeal or we can try to understand each other. I am a more or less secular liberal democrat of conservative bent regarding separation and distribution of powers though with a certain “irrational” faith in the fact that I am pretty small in the universe. Somewhere out there might be some nut mind capable of understanding all this: I call such a poetic invention God.

    “Toasters were invented but THEY exist.” (David Goorevitch, photographer)

  25. fp says:

    davidka,

    if you reread your question, that’s not what you asked.

  26. fp says:

    it may be easy, but it’s the only practical thing to do relative to the effort involved in corrections. and that applies to your latest too. sorry.

    other than the fanatic fringe in the non-islamic religions do you see any organized religion fighting the islamists? and those fringes are as lunatic as the jihadists. I see appeasement and ass-licking and cowardice and dhimmitude from the christian churches for example. the pope made a mild statement about an historical fact then put his tail between his legs and went apologizing and praying in a mosque converted from a cathedral and reversed his position on turkey in the EU. they all ignore the oppression and murder of christians in the ME and blame israel for it. some fight.

    science is only one application of knowledge and reason. the latter can also be applied to social systems. the west has until recently relied on them and developed a civilization. the the arab world has not and remained backwards and barbaric. had it not been for the western knowledge and reason they would have amounted to nothing.

  27. Michael B says:

    In some critical respects “reason alone” is not unlike a “quietistic Christianity,” they are both over-proud and overly leveraged truncations of something more vigorous and at the same time more restrained, more singularly disciplined and focused. They have also developed reactionary and usurping strains against one another, reflecting a critical, indeed a central aspect of the West’s corrosives. Articulating that is a first step, in a more positive sense, in overcoming those crises. Negative critiques are necessary (and all late moderns are analysts, proud analysts), but they are inadequate in providing that which can supplant current corrosives.

    RL: can you elaborate on the “truncated” elements?

  28. fp says:

    mike,

    whatever truncations they are, would you prefer to live in medieval times or under sharia, or in modern times in the west?

    the west would have been today in a state similar to the arab states had not knowledge and reason overcome religion as the foundation of society.

    reason is not perfect but it beats superstition any time.

  29. Abu Nudnik says:

    Science is not an application of knowledge and reason. Science is an attempt to order the facts of experience in their most economic order (Whitehead).

    It is unfortunate that you cannot discern the difference between the behaviour of people who are or claim to be religious and religion in itself.

    It is especially regrettable that you are so consistently uncivil and insulting. I will no longer respond to your comments.

    Thank you Michael B. for your post above which is timely in this thread.

    [RL: AbuN, don't take fp's incivility personally, even when it's meant that way. and don't give up replying to him. he consistently comes up with interesting comments when he's not repeating himself and alienating other commentators. you're both making impt points. and anyway, his last comment was hardly what i'd call uncivil and insulting. if he can get your goat, imagine what someone defending islam as a religion of peace can do?]

  30. fp says:

    you are a nudnik.

    you want to teach a scientist specialized in the philosophy and methodology of science and 30+ years of experience what is science? and you want to be taken seriously? ordering the facts of experience IS an application of knowledge and reason. suggest you stick to religion.

    if they are foolish enough to base their behavior on weird superstitions that religions are, why exactly should I make the distinction? on what basis does OBL kill infidels — knowledge and reason? he is acting based on islam.

    truth hurts, I am only exposing it. too bad you can’t handle it. can’t say I am surprised.

    fp, relax. there’s a legitimate issue at stake here. don’t reach for your guns at the drop of a comment. OBL doesn’t kill infidels purely on the basis of faith. he has a perfectly legitimate understanding of power politics. nothing in reason says all men are created equal. for that you need religious stuff like the monotheistic creation myth. address the issue without vituperation. reason in the west, the kind of thinking that produced a modern world that produced civil society, is part of a larger discourse about freedom and its responsibilities. mere reason can give you nazis. if i’ve misunderstood, explain how.

  31. Abu Nudnik says:

    What I can’t take is completely unnecessary incivility and bullying. Like I said, I do not intend to respond to such UNREASONABLE behaviour, a behaviour which puts me more in mind of the ruthless bullying of men like OBL with whom you have much more in common that you want to face. Have I bullied you? Have I forced you to accept my views? Have I criticized a single idea without an argument, right or wrong, when you have instead dismissed mine without argument? Which one of us resembles the religious fanatic whose ideas rest on violence and blind belief?

  32. fp says:

    >Have I forced you to accept my views?

    Have I?

    >Have I criticized a single idea without an argument

    It’s the quality of arguments that’s the problem. As I explained, to correct the errors would take too much time and effort and I do not believe it’s a productive endeavor on my part. however, I did want to alert others, because lack of response should not be interpreted as acceding to the correctness on your part.
    I am sorry, but when you tried to teach me what science is, there was no way I was going to engage with you.

    bullying my foot. i simply told you that I think you’re wrong and that I don’t care to correct you. that’s neither uncivil nor bullying, it’s a statement of fact.

    if you want to engage in public exchanges develop a thicker skin.

    RL: If this is what you think is “merely stating the facts” fp, then we’re in trouble. your tone is unnecessarily curt. and i do think it’s worth replying to these issues. treat us as students who need explaining.

  33. Abu Nudnik says:

    It’s the quality of arguments that’s the problem. As I explained, to correct the errors would take too much time and effort and I do not believe it’s a productive endeavor on my part. however, I did want to alert others, because lack of response should not be interpreted as acceding to the correctness on your part.

    That’s precisely what you didn’t do. You merely dismissed them and set yourself as judge. What kind of alert is that? It alerts readers to your arrogance and that’s all.

    I am sorry, but when you tried to teach me what science is, there was no way I was going to engage with you.

    That’s a baldfaced lie. You decided not to engage me when you realized my ideas were beyond your narrow paradigm above, in post #18 which was in response to my post #15.

    By the way, OBL uses reason too, that Holy of Holies: He reasons that attacking America with enough terror will bring down the US after he (so he thinks) brought down the Soviet Union. See? It’s the paradigm that counts and his is pretty dumb. Reason is no magic bullet. By the way, you have a lot of faith in your reason. These are not mutually exclusive universes in the human soul.

  34. Michael B says:

    I didn’t denounce or even question reason as such, I elevated it; reason is a prince. I denounced a hyper-rationalism that forgets its foundings.

  35. Abu Nudnik says:

    Dear Michael

    I hope you aren’t addressing me. I have no argument with you and thanked you for your last post. My argument is with fp

    Thanks.

  36. Abu Nudnik says:

    #

    mike,

    whatever truncations they are, would you prefer to live in medieval times or under sharia, or in modern times in the west?

    the west would have been today in a state similar to the arab states had not knowledge and reason overcome religion as the foundation of society.

    reason is not perfect but it beats superstition any time.

    What makes you think reason is opposite to superstition? Superstition posits that my cow won’t milk if I don’t spit on the ground the right way. That is a mistaken cause and effect but no conception of cause and effect, no matter how wrong can be arrived at without the use of reason. The opposite of reason is passion.

    Nor does superstition stand still. Scientists once believed in the spontaneous generation of life, lacking the instruments to observe microorganisms. Religion has similarly progressed from superstition toward a body of principles concerning the soul (the subjective world) just as science is a body of inter-accommodative principles that together explain the physical (objective) world.

    By the way, the West has not overcome religion as the basis of society: it has merely provided a free market for ideas, religious ones and all others. Our penal codes and sense of justice as represented in the Constitution are more than just reasoned arguments, though they are reasonable. They spring from passionate beliefs in justice which have their root in religion.

  37. Michael B says:

    Abu, no, was not addressing you. Thanks.

  38. fp says:

    mike,

    both you and nudnik seem to confuse reason and reasoning — they are not the same.

    when I refer to knowledge and reason I exclude belief in the supernatural, such as in god. the notion that you should not eat pork, you should pray on a regular basis, or decapitate infidels in order that some god will send you to paradise IS superstition whether you like/realize it or not. the religious do reason about this, but they are fundamentally out of reason.

    RL: you have quite a hodge-podge here. the first two — not eating pork and praying regularly — are disciplines. reason and experience both indicate that discipline is good for people (indeed, i’d argue that without significant levels of self-discipline a society cannot possibly have freedom and order). decapitating infidels sending you to paradise — now there’s a loopy idea. why use a shotgun rather than a laser?

    I ask the faithful my favorite test question: what would be the ideal evidence you would accept to stop believing that christ has arisen? or that the qoran is the word of god? is there ANY evidence on the basis of which you would stop believing? the answer has always been no such evidence exists. after all that’s the having FAITH is all about, no?

    and what do you make of the equally powerful and provable idea that there are phenomena that exist beyond the reach of reason. or are you superstitious about reason’s ability to explain everything?

    i have no idea what hyper-rationalism is. can you give an example?

    as to the roots of justice in religion, it’s quite obvious as so many distinguished secular-humanists have demonstrated, that ethics/morals (which underlie the concept of justice) precede religion and have a darwinian rational basis. religion has incorporated some of those in order to be effectively sellable, but it also has a large component of control and exploitation, by taking advantage of people’s fears of mainly death and pain. that’s why you must pick and choose morality out of religion and to do that you gotta have some independent criterion as to what is moral and what is not. that’s reason.

    what’s the darwinian rational basis for morality? to my mind, the way in which “secular humanists” have take religious ideals (like no death penalty, or turning the other cheek, or the messianic notion of peace in our time) and pretended that this is all logical and rational and therefore should be pursued to the limit, is one of our disasters. have you read Harris’ Suicide of Reason? i really think you over-value reason if you think it can lead people to be “moral.”

    incidentally, note that to such criterion the concepts of god, christ, allah, etc is completely irrelevant. it has a relationship because it was invented when our knowledge and reason were underdeveloped and that was the best we could do.

    i think i’m beginning to understand here. you may be able to come to a reasoned definition of morality — that’s what Kant wanted to do, if i’m not mistaken. but the motivation to be moral comes from passion, empathy, concern for others. and as far as i can make out, reason will not manage to overcome the passions which are part and parcel of being human.

  39. Michael B says:

    fp,

    How would you know whether or not I’m confusing anything? I’ve spoken only in the most general terms.

    I’m not going to get into an extended discussion with you, but there are all manner of examples of what might fall under the rubric of hyper-rationalism. (Indeed, the fact you cannot so much as imagine what a hyper-rationalism might be is telling itself.) Forms of scientism (i.e. “science can explain all human conditions and expressions,” as one analytic phil. put it) or positivisms would constitute one subspecies. An illustrative example would be Auguste Comte’s positivism, one of the original articulators of this ideology cum faith. Comte, to note a particularly amusing expression of the creed, looked forward to the day when the earth’s elliptical orbit could be changed to a circular one in order to attenuate extreme climate changes and conditions. Marxism – and despite his more laudable, individually tailored insights – reflected such a presumptive, hyper-rationalism as well.

    That begins to get to the subject of reason per se, outside of any more encompassing rationalism as an ideological expression. Reason does not work in the world on the basis of some Platonic ideality, it always works or expresses itself in a reified manner, the “conduit” being individual human minds – “all too human,” as the expression goes. Thus the question to ask is not reason, yea or ney? Rather the question to ask becomes whose reason? Marx’s? Lenin’s? Rorty’s? Dawkins’? Or Madison’s? Jefferson’s? Etc.

    “Reason” as such is a word, not a real-world praxis and expression. The individual and corporate/communal expressions a reified reason takes is the issue. Certainly so when it comes to social/political expressions thereof. But even when it comes to expressions of science – which is more given to disciplined forms, practices, expressions, etc. – it nonetheless comes down to whose reason or what reason is in the ascendency, not Reason regnant from some immaculate Platonic throne. Prejudicial forms of reason become decidedly less of an issue the “harder” or the more pure the science (e.g., mathematics, physics), but even there some philosophical issues may well begin to enter the overall calculus. Hence herein, Abu was entirely right to note Whitehead’s definition of science: “Science is not an application of knowledge and reason. Science is an attempt to order the facts of experience in their most economic order.”

    We disagree that Darwin, or certain expressions of neo-Darwinism, successfully founds a rational basis for morality, indeed I find your expression in this vein more than a little quaint, reflective, for example, of your own positivist faith and creed, which you no doubt would place under a different rubric altogether. Neo-Darwinism, as a set of hypotheses or templates (Whitehead’s expression comes to mind here prominently), certainly points to some issues, but the notion it’s succeeded in the manner suggested is quaint at best and reflects the type of circular reasoning you too often rely upon.

  40. fp says:

    mike,

    I also lack the inclination to argue with you because of your tendency towards over-abstraction and pompous terminology in what are exchanges mostly about reality and current events.

    Typical are your reply about hyper-rationalism: i thought that we were talking about current expressions of it, not in the history of philosopy. Anyway, I consider positions like “science can explain everything” as out of knowledge and reason too. I do not hold it and in the context of what is being discussed here, that’s a straw man.

    So I am not gonna bother with the rest of your stuff because I don’t much care about that level of discussion.

    That you think one cannot infer confusion from one’s writings is amazing from somebody who is constantly immersed in such high-language and terminology. Perhaps if you came closer to the earth you would understand.

  41. fp says:

    btw, i am not a positivist. and the fact that you disagree about darwinian roots of morality does not refute it. people more knowledgeable and smart than you have written about it and i suggest you read them.

  42. Michael B says:

    Never tire of yourself, do you?

    1) I didn’t say I proved or refuted anything. I didn’t so much as suggest I did in even a remote sense. Then again, you did nothing more than assert yourself.

    2) Re, the positivism, I specifically said you’d place whatever it is you do believe under an entirely different rubric. I don’t even hold myself to that statement with much earnestness in the first place since you rarely – indeed, never that I’ve seen – indicate what you do believe excepting in the most general sense, i.e. reason and knowledge. Woo hoo. Whenever you have been caught in a corner, you throw out something like “reason and knowledge” as your defense, arrogating it all to your cause.

    3) Whatever, Mr. Non-Pompous.

  43. fp says:

    >Never tire of yourself, do you?

    Some of us try to think for ourselves about current events while others do long abstract treaties on philosopy. I’ll let others judge who isn’t tired of himself.

  44. Richard Landes says:

    i think this exchange is a tremendous missed opportunity. getting it back on line to deal with the problems we’re facing is strikes me as a far more productive approach than the name-calling and pissing contests that mar this valuable discussion. i really would like to hear what you all have to say.

    the sail of thinking keeps trimmed hard to the wind of the matter.

  45. Eliyahu says:

    I don’t agree with fp that Christianity and Islam have been equal/the same/ in regard to reason and science. Far be it from me to defend Christianity but I think we can see a progression in Western, Christian societies towards reason and science over the centuries. Moreover, Byzantium never degenerated into a primitive economy and a dark age as did the Western part of the Roman Empire. On the other hand, Islam wrecked the ancient civilizations of the Orient, Oriens in Latin, what is now called the Middle East. This occurred in Egypt, Israel, Syria & Lebanon of today, Transjordan, Babylon [= Iraq], Persia, North Africa, etc. True, there was a certain flowering or brief renaissance of culture in the Islamic domain after Islamic rule had become firmly established, yet while there were still sizable non-Muslim communities in those countries. How much of the Muslim cultural renaissance was due to the dhimmi communities and to those recently converted to Islam [which point Hugh Fitzgerald discusses]? Now, Muslim states did much to suppress philosophy and reason and knowledge in their own domains, such as the execution of Averroes [Ibn Rushd] in the 13th century, and the destruction of his books. Moreover, Muslim scholarship showed, on the whole, little interest in other cultures [in contemporary non-Muslim cultures, whether dhimmi or harbi] or in pre-Islamic culture [jahiliyyah] in the Muslim domain. The Israeli historian Yosef Tobi points out that very few Muslim scholars bothered to learn Hebrew, which would have been fairly easy for them given that Hebrew and Arabic are cognate tongues, and should have been of interest to them since the Torah is mentioned in the Quran several times. After Ibn Khaldun died in 1406, are there any Muslim names significant for the progress of world culture and civilization??? So there must have been something about Islam that kept knowledge and reason from developing. Moreover, you have to compare Islamic culture, such as it was, to the pre-Islamic cultures in the Fertile Crescent which were the equals of Rome and in no way backward for their time.

    Abu N mentions that the Church Militant only developed as Islam became a threat. I am not sure that I agree with this, given all the wars of Franks and Byzantines and Visigoths, etc. before Islam. However, there seems to have been an Islamic influence on Western Christianity in regard to holy war. Carlo Panella points out [in "Il Complotto Ebraico"] that the popes changed several Christian principles in order to cope with the Islamic threat. For instance, participation in a Christian holy war [= Crusade] would earn a warrior foregiveness or absolution from his sins, thus picking up brownie points for salvation, for eternal life. Panella points out that this is not altogether different from the Muslim notion that the holy warrior [mujahid, ie, the participant in a jihad] goes to Paradise and his 72 maidens if he dies in the jihad [as a shahid = the Muslim version of a martyr, so different from the Jewish & Christian notions of martyr].

  46. fp says:

    eliyahu,

    >I don’t agree with fp that Christianity and Islam have been equal/the same/ in regard to reason and science.

    I did NOT say they have been equal!!! What I said was that had the middle ages continued as was, the west might have not progressed beyond the middle ages. the sheer fact that western religions were tamed indicates that they were different, but before that they had similar problems as islam. but that does NOT mean that they were identical. islam was developed by a CULTURE different than judaism and christianity.

  47. fp says:

    rl,

    dk if you noticed, but that’s what I was trying to tell mike.

    most of the subjects posted convey, at least for me, the same problem over and over again: the west is collapsing in front of barbarism. there is so much that can be said without repeating oneself and long historical or philosophical treaties or over-intellectualizations are not necessary to interpret current events.

  48. fp says:

    rl,

    >i think i’m beginning to understand here. you may be able to come to a reasoned definition of morality — that’s what Kant wanted to do, if i’m not mistaken. but the motivation to be moral comes from passion, empathy, concern for others. and as far as i can make out, reason will not manage to overcome the passions which are part and parcel of being human.

    1st, I am not at Kant’s level and cannot presume to have the capacity to define morality. I’ve just got some speculations on the subjects, based on what others, much more knowledgeable and smarter than me argue.

    2nd, passion empathy and concern for others could have easily developed in a darwinian survival mode: once this was internalized, such feelings helped in social settings. some societies could have reached that stage and some not, just like some organisms succeeded and other failed. note that unlike organisms, societies which did not reach that stage can exploit those who did and not decay. i think this is what happens now.

    3rd, I include reason as part of what makes us human. if and when we lose that, we lose our humanity. it is not by chance that all secular-humanists rely on reason, even if not all those who subscribe to reason are not secular-humanists.

    4th, I don’t believe a society which is based exclusively on passion and empathy without reason can survive unless it can piggyback on one that does include reason.

    5th, the passion and empathy that’s included in religion has the same dual edge that science has: it can be used for good and for bad. In any case, no supernatural god is necessary for the former.

  49. fp says:

    incidentally, some insight into the darwinian/rational roots of empathy/cooperation can be found in game-theory. interestingly, the theory started with selfish assumptions that were affected by consideration of actions by others other than the self.

    it’s not impossible to infer empathy and even passion via such mechanisms over time.

  50. fp says:

    oops, one not too many. I did not mean:

    “even if not all those who subscribe to reason are not secular-humanists.”

    but rather

    “even if not all those who subscribe to reason are secular-humanists.”

  51. [...] and petty moral Schadenfreude, and its consequent politics of resentment, Europe may well be committing suicide. Not coincidentally, the core of this idea — the interchangeability of perspectives — keeps [...]

  52. What is wrong with today’s Jews?
    A perspective of a moderate Muslim.

    When Muslims criticize Jews chances are it’s Islamists. You rarely see moderate (an I do mean real moderate, not Islamists like CAIR who claim to be moderate) Muslims saying unflattering things about the Jews. So, normally, when I see the Jews do dumb things i.e., supporting an Islamist congressional candidate because of partisanship (American Jewish World’s support for Keith Ellison) or providing utilities to a terrorist enclave (Gaza), I try to keep my mouth shut. For obvious reasons. But not this time.

    I thought I’ve seen everything: Cuban missile crisis, fall of Berlin wall, 9/11. Until recently, I thought that the father of modern terrorism getting awarded a Nobel Peace Prize was the most peculiar event in my lifetime. But a recent, largely unnoticed event, could take the cake in peculiarity contest.

    Read more: http://muslimsagainstsharia.blogspot.com/2008/01/what-is-wrong-with-todays-jews.html

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