So what if, by 2020, Rotterdam is a majority Muslim? We already have an answer.

In October of 2004, David Pryce-Jones, whose book on Arab honor-shame culture, The Closed Circle was to be a major player in my new course, “Honor-Shame Cultures, Middle Ages, Middle East,” came to BU to speak. Commentary published a formal draft of the talk in December of that year, “The Islamicization of Europe.” In the question and answer period, Pryce-Jones told the story of turning the tables on a Dutch reporter who was interviewing him.

“You’re from Rotterdam,” he commented, “are you aware that, by 2020, Rotterdam will be a majority Muslim?

“So what?” the reporter shot back.

Well, it’s not even five years later, and we have a pretty good answer, and it’s not very pretty.

Of course, the reporter was just being “politically correct.” After all, Muslim immigrants, according to the prevailing paradigm, were just like any other immigrant, and to suggest otherwise, was to reveal one’s racist prejudices, one’s Islamophobia. Of course there were some of us, even back then, who felt that anyone who wasn’t afraid of Islam was a cretin.

You be the judge of the reporter’s remark:

Eurabia Has A Capital: Rotterdam
Here entire neighborhoods look like the Middle East, women walk around veiled, the mayor is a Muslim, sharia law is applied in the courts and the theaters. An extensive report from the most Islamized city in Europe

by Sandro Magister

rotterdam sharia styles

ROME, May 19, 2009 – One of the most indisputable results of Benedict XVI’s trip to the Holy Land was the improvement in relations with Islam. The three days he spent in Jordan, and then, in Jerusalem, the visit to the Dome of the Mosque, spread an image among the Muslim general public – to an extent never before seen – of a pope as a friend, surrounded by Islamic leaders happy to welcome him and work together with him for the good of the human family.

What planet are they on? What were the European media reporting from the Holy Land.

But just as indisputable is the distance between this image and the harsh reality of the facts. Not only in countries under Muslim regimes, but also where the followers of Mohammed are in the minority, for example in Europe.

In 2002, the scholar Bat Ye’or, a British citizen born in Egypt and a specialist in the history of the Christian and Jewish minorities in Muslim countries – called the “dhimmi” – coined the term “Eurabia” to describe the fate toward which Europe is moving. It is a fate of submission to Islam, of “dhimmitude.”

Oriana Fallaci used the word “Eurabia” in her writings, and gave it worldwide resonance. On August 1, 2005, Benedict XVI received Fallaci in a private audience at Castel Gandolfo. She rejected dialogue with Islam; he was in favor of it, and still is. But they agreed – as Fallaci later said – in identifying the “self-hatred” that Europe demonstrates, its spiritual vacuum, its loss of identity, precisely when the immigrants of Islamic faith are increasing within it.

Holland is an extraordinary test case. It is the country in which individual license is the most extensive – to the point of permitting euthanasia on children – in which the Christian identity is most faded, in which the Moslem presence is growing most boldly.

Here, multiculturalism is the rule. But the exceptions are dramatic: from the killing of the anti-Islamist political leader Pim Fortuyn to the persecution of the Somali dissident Ayaan Hirsi Ali to the murder of the director Theo Van Gogh, condemned to death for his film “Submission,” a denunciation of the crimes of Muslim theocracy. Fortuyn’s successor, Geert Wilders, has lived under 24-hour police protection for six years.

There is one city in Holland where this new reality can be seen with the naked eye, more than anywhere else. Here, entire neighborhoods look as if they have been lifted from the Middle East, here stand the largest mosques in Europe, here parts of sharia law are applied in the courts and theaters, here many of the women go around veiled, here the mayor is a Muslim, the son of an imam.

This city is Rotterdam, Holland’s second largest city by population, and the largest port in Europe by cargo volume.

The following is a report on Rotterdam published in the Italian newspaper “il Foglio” on May 14, 2009, the second in a major seven-part survey on Holland.

The author, Giulio Meotti, also writes for the “Wall Street Journal.” Next September, his book-length survey on Israel will be published.

The photo above is entitled “Muslim women in Rotterdam.” It is from an exhibition in 2008 by the Dutch photographers Ari Versluis and Ellie Uyttenbroek.

In the casbah of Rotterdam

by Giulio Meotti

In Feyenoord, veiled women can be seen everywhere, darting like a flash through the streets of the neighborhood. They avoid any sort of contact, even eye contact, especially with men. Feyenoord is the size of a city, and there are seventy nationalities coexisting there. It is an area that lives on subsidies and residential construction, and it is here that it is most obvious that Holland – with all of its rules against discrimination and all of its moral indignation – is a completely segregated society. Rotterdam is new, having been bombed twice by the Luftwaffe during the second world war. Like Amsterdam, it is below sea level, but unlike the capital it does not enjoy an image of reckless abandon. In Rotterdam, it is the Arab shops selling halal food that dominate the cityscape, not the neon lights of the prostitutes. Everywhere are casbah-cafes, travel agencies offering flights to Rabat and Casablanca, posters expressing solidarity with Hamas, or offering affordable Dutch language lessons.

It is the second-largest city in the country, a poor city, but also the economic engine with its huge port, the most important in Europe. Most of the population are immigrants, and the city has the tallest and most imposing mosque in Europe. Sixty percent of the foreigners who arrive in Holland come here to live. The most striking thing when one arrives in the city by train are the enormous and fascinating mosques framed by the vibrant green, luxuriant, wooded, watery countryside, like an alien presence compared to the rest. They call it “Eurabia.” The Turkish Mevlana mosque is imposing. It has the tallest minarets in Europe, even higher than the stadium of the Feyenoord soccer team.

Many of the neighborhoods in Rotterdam are captive to the darkest, most violent form of Islamism. Pim Fortuyn’s house stands out like a pearl in a sea of chador and niqab. It is at number 11 Burgerplein, behind the train station. Every now and then someone comes to put flowers in front of the home of the professor who was murdered in Amsterdam on May 6, 2002. Someone else leaves a card: “In Holland everything is tolerated, except for the truth.” A millionaire named Chris Tummesen bought Pim Fortuyn’s house so that it would remain intact. The evening before his murder Pim was nervous, and had said on television that a climate of demonization had been created against him and his ideas. And his fears came true, when he was shot in the head five times by Volkert van der Graaf, a militant of the animal rights left, scrawny, head shaved, eyes dark, dressed like an environmental purist in a handmade shirt, sandals, and goat’s wool socks, a strict vegetarian, “a guy impatient to change the world,” his friends say.

Not long ago in downtown Rotterdam, funerary photos of Geert Wilders were placed under a tree, with a candle to commemorate his upcoming death. Today Wilders is the most popular politician in the city. He is the heir of Fortuyn, the homosexual, Catholic, ex-Markist professor who had formed his own party to save the country from Islamization. At his funeral, only the absence of Queen Beatrice kept the farewell to the “divine Pim” from becoming a funeral fit for a king. Before his death they made a monster of him (one Dutch minister called him an “untermensch,” an inferior man in Nazi parlance), afterward they idolized him. The prostitutes of Amsterdam left a wreath of flowers in his honor beneath the National Monument in Dam Square, a memorial to the victims of World War II.

Three months ago, “The Economist,” a weekly publication far from Wilders’ anti-Islamic ideas, spoke of Rotterdam as a “Eurabian nightmare.”

This is actually a misleading quotation. Having fisked the Economist on Eurabia, I was surprised to read that it had used this expression seriously. The full comment reads:

    Or take Rotterdam, where Ahmed Aboutaleb, a Muslim from Morocco, will take over as mayor at the start of 2009. On the face of things, Rotterdam has the ingredients for a Eurabian nightmare. Its Muslim population (at least 13% of the total, some say more) huddles in a few poor districts; there is a big white working class; and this is the home of Pim Fortuyn, the Islam-bashing gay politician who was killed in 2002. A group set up by Fortuyn—Liveable Rotterdam—remains active, though it lost control of the city hall to a Labour-led coalition in 2006…. And yet for now the public mood in Rotterdam is one of compromise…

For most of the Dutch who live there, Islamism is now a threat greater than the Delta Plan, the complicated system of dikes that prevents flooding from the sea, like the flood in 1953 that killed two thousand people. The picturesque town of Schiedam, part of the greater Rotterdam area, has always been a jewel in the Dutch imagination. Then the fairy tale glow faded, when in the newspapers three years ago it became the city of Farid A., the Islamist who made death threats against Wilders and Somali dissident Ayaan Hirsi Ali. For six years, Wilders has lived under 24-hour police protection.

Muslim lawyers in Rotterdam also want to change the rules of the courtroom, asking to be allowed to remain seated when the judge enters. They recognize Allah alone. The lawyer Mohammed Enait recently refused to stand when the magistrates enter the courtroom, saying that “Islam teaches that all men are equal.” The court of Rotterdam has recognized Enait’s right to remain seated: “There is no legal obligation requiring Muslim lawyers to stand in front of the court, insofar as this action is in contrast with the dictates of the Islamic faith.” Enait, the head of the legal office Jairam Advocaten, has explained that “he considers all men equal, and does not acknowledge any form of deference toward anyone.” All men, but not all women. Enait is well known for his refusal to shake hands with women, and has repeatedly said he would prefer them to wear the burqa. And there are many burqas on the streets of Rotterdam.

This is rank hypocrisy. Islam demands a whole range of acts and gestures of deferrance from infidels. On women, see Ramadan’s comments about having their eyes averted in the street, below. This isn’t about the equality of man (even gender-restricted), it’s about the superiority of Islam. Why are the infidels so stupidly ignorant?

The fact that Eurabia has arrived in Rotterdam has been demonstrated by an episode in April at the Zuidplein Theatre, one of the most prestigious in the city, a modernist theater proud of “representing the cultural diversity of Rotterdam.” It is located in the southern part of the city, and receives funding from the municipality, headed by a Muslim, the son of the imam Ahmed Aboutaleb. Three weeks ago, the Zuidplein Theatre allowed an entire balcony to be reserved for women only, in the name of sharia. This is not happening in Pakistan or in Saudi Arabia, but in the city from which the Founding Fathers set out for the United States. It was from here that the Puritans disembarked in the Speedwell, which they later exchanged for the Mayflower. This is where the American adventure began. Today, it has legalized sharia.

For a performance by the Muslim Salaheddine Benchikhi, the Zuidplein Theatre agreed to his request to have the first five rows set aside for women only. Salaheddine, an editorialist for the website Morokko.nl, is known for his opposition to the integration of Muslims. The city council has approved this: “According to our Western values, the freedom to live one’s own life by virtue of one’s convictions is a precious possession.” A spokesman for the theater has also defended the director: “It is hard to get Muslims to come to the theater, so we are willing to adapt.”

I actually don’t see this as so much of a problem. As long as the entire theater isn’t divided, I don’t see why people who want to segregate seating shouldn’t be allowed to sit with others of their gender. Front row seats? I don’t think so. On the other hand, what are the contents of the theater productions?

Another man who has been willing to adapt is the director Gerrit Timmers. His words are fairly symptomatic of what Wilders calls “self-Islamization.” The first case of self-censorship took place in Rotterdam, in December of 2000. Timmers, the director of the theater group Onafhankelijk Toneel, wanted to stage a performance about the life of Mohammed’s wife Aisha. The play was boycotted by the Muslim actors in the company when it became evident that it would be a target for the Islamists. “We are enthusiastic about the play, but fear reigns,” the actors told him. The composer, Najib Cherradi, said that he would withdraw “for the good of my daughter.” The newspaper “Handelsblad” gave the story the title “Tehran on the Meuse,” the name of the gentle river that passes through Rotterdam. “I had already done three works about the Moroccans, so I wanted to have Muslim actors and singers,” Timmers tells us. “Then they told me that it was a dangerous issue, and they could not participate, because they had received death threats. In Rabat, an article came out saying we would end up like Salman Rushdie. For me, it was more important to continue the dialogue with the Moroccans, rather than provoke them. For this reason, I see no problem if the Muslims want to separate the men from the women in a theater.”

Let’s meet the director who has brought sharia to the Dutch theaters, Salaheddine Benchikhi. He is young, modern, confident, and speaks perfect English. “I defend the decision to separate the men from the women, because here there is freedom of expression and organization. If people can’t sit where they want to, that is discrimination. There are two million Muslims in Holland, and they want our tradition to become public, everything is evolving. Mayor Aboutaleb has supported me.”

One year ago, the city was buzzing when the newspapers published a letter by Bouchra Ismaili, a Rotterdam city councilman: “Listen up, crazy freaks, we’re here to stay. You’re the foreigners here, with Allah on my side I’m not afraid of anything. Take my advice: convert to Islam, and you will find peace.” Just a walk through the streets of the city, and you know right away that in many neighborhoods you are no longer in Holland. It is right out of the Middle East. In some schools, there is a “room of silence” where Muslim students, who are in the majority, can pray five times a day, with a poster of Mecca, the Qur’an, and a ritual washing before the prayers. Another Muslim city councilman, Brahim Bourzik, wants signs placed in various parts of the city showing the direction to Mecca.

Sylvain Ephimenco is a Franco-Dutch journalist who has been living in Rotterdam for twelve years. For twenty years, he was the “Libération” correspondent in Holland, and is proud of his leftist credentials. “Even though I don’t believe in that anymore,” he says, welcoming us to his home overlooking one of Rotterdam’s little canals. Not far from here is the al Nasr mosque of the imam Khalil al Moumni, who when gay marriage was legalized described homosexuals as “sick people worse than pigs.” From the outside, it can be seen that the mosque is more than twenty years old, having been built by the first Moroccan immigrants. Moumni has written a pamphlet that is circulating around the Dutch mosques, “The path of the Muslim,” in which he explains that the heads of homosexuals should be cut off and “hung from the highest building in the city.” Next to the al Nasr mosque, we sit down at a cafe for men only. In front of us is a halal Islamic slaughterhouse. Ephimenco is the author of three essays on Holland and Islam, and today is a famous columnist for the leftist Christian newspaper “Trouw.” He has the best perspective for understanding a city that, perhaps even more than Amsterdam, embodies the tragedy of Holland.

“It is not at all true that Wilders gets his votes from the fringes, everyone knows that, even though they don’t say it,” he tells us. “Today educated people vote for Wilders, although at first it was the lower class Dutch, the tattoo crowd. Many academics and people on the left vote for him. The problem is all of these Islamic headscarves. There’s a supermarket behind my house. When I arrived, there wasn’t a single headscarf. Now it’s all Muslim women with the chador at the register. Wilders is not Haider. His positions are on the right, but also on the left, he’s a typical Dutchman. Here there are even hours at the swimming pool set aside for Muslim women. This is the origin of the vote for Wilders. Islamization, this foolishness with the theater, has to be stopped. In Utrecht, there is a mosque where they provide separate city services for men and women. The Dutch are afraid. Wilders is against the Frankenstein of multiculturalism. I, who used to be on the left but am no longer anything, I say we’ve reached the limit. I feel the ideals of the Enlightenment have been betrayed with this voluntary apartheid, in my heart I feel the death of the ideals of the equality of men and women, and freedom of expression. Here the left is conformist, and the right has the better answer to insane multiculturalism.”

One of the professors at Erasmus University in Rotterdam is Tariq Ramadan, the famous Swiss Islamic scholar who is also a special adviser for the city. Some of Ramadan’s statements against homosexuality were uncovered by Holland’s most famous gay magazine, “Gay Krant,” directed by a talkative journalist named Henk Krol. On a videocassette, Ramadan calls homosexuality “a disease, a disorder, an imbalance.” On the tape, Ramadan also has comments on women, “they should keep their eyes on the ground when they’re on the street.” Wilders’ party asked for the city council to be disbanded, and for the Islamic scholar from Geneva to be sent packing, but instead he was renewed in his post for two more years. This was happening while across the sea, the Obama administration was confirming the ban on Ramadan entering United States territory. The tapes in Krol’s possession include one in which Ramadan tells women: “Allah has an important rule: if you try to attract attention through the use of perfume, or your appearance or gestures, you do not have the correct spiritual orientation.”

“When Pim Fortuyn was killed, it was a shock for everyone, because a man was murdered for what he said,” Krol tells us. “That was no longer my country. I’m still thinking about leaving Holland, but where can I go? Here we have been criticized by everyone, by the Catholic Church and by the Protestants. But when we criticized Islam, they answered us: you are creating new enemies!” According to Ephimenco, the street is the secret of Wilders’ success: “In Rotterdam, there are three enormous mosques, one of them is the largest in Europe. There are more and more Islamic headscarves, and an Islamist impulse coming from the mosques. I know many people who have left the city center to go to the rich, white suburbs. My neighborhood is poor and black. It is a question of identity, on the streets Dutch is not spoken anymore, but Arabic and Turkish.”

Let’s meet the man who inherited Fortuyn’s column in the newspaper “Elsevier.” His name is Bart Jan Spruyt, a robust young Protestant intellectual, founder of the Edmund Burke Society, but above all the author of Wilders’ “Declaration of independence,” and his coworker from the beginning. “Here an immigrant no longer has to struggle, study, work, he can live at the expense of the state,” Spruyt tells us. “We have ended up creating a parallel society. The Muslims are in the majority in many neighborhoods, and are asking for sharia. This isn’t Holland anymore. Our use of freedom has turned back against us, it is a process of self-Islamization.”

Spruyt was one of Fortuyn’s close friends. “Pim said what the people had known for decades.” He attacked the establishment and the journalists. It was a great relief for the people when he went into politics, they called him the ‘white knight’. The last time I spoke with him, one week before he was killed, he told me he had a mission. His killing was not the act of a lone madman. In February of 2001, Pim announced that he wanted to change the first article of the Dutch constitution, on discrimination, because in his view it kills freedom of expression, and he was right. The following day in the Dutch churches, which are mostly empty and used for public meetings, the diary of Anne Frank was read as a warning against Fortuyn. Pim was truly Catholic, more than we think, in his books he spoke out against modern society without fathers, without values, empty, nihilist.”

Chris Ripke is a well-known artist in the city. His studio is near a mosque in Insuindestraat. Shocked in 2004 by the murder of director Theo Van Gogh by an Dutch Islamist, Chris decided to paint an angel on wall of his studio and the biblical commandment “Gij zult niet doden,” thou shalt not kill. His neighbors at the mosque found the words “offensive,” and called the mayor of Rotterdam at the time, the liberal Ivo Opstelten. The mayor ordered the police to erase the painting, because it was “racist.” Wim Nottroth, a television journalist, camped out on the spot in protest. The police arrested him, and his film was destroyed. Ephimenco did the same in his own window: “I put up a big white sheet with the biblical commandment. Photographers came, and the radio. If you can no longer write ‘do not kill’ in this country, then you are saying that we are all in prison. It is like apartheid, whites living with whites and blacks with blacks. There is a great chill. Islamism wants to change the structure of the country.” For Ephimenco, part of the problem is the de-Christianization of society. “When I arrived here, during the 1960′s, religion was dying, a unique event in Europe, a collective de-Christianization. Then the Muslims brought religion back to the center of social life. Aided by the anti-Christian elite.”

Let’s go for a stroll through the Islamized neighborhoods. In Oude Westen there are only Arabs, women clothed from head to foot, ethnic foods shops, Islamic restaurants, and shopping centers with Arabic music. “Ten years ago, you didn’t see all these headscarves,” Ephimenco says.

Important point. When the Muslims first came to Europe (1975-2000), they blended in, assimilated to some extent. After 2000, and especially after 9-11, they became far more assertive, both vis-à-vis the infidels and their own women. With stories designed to incite — Al Durah — or to inspire — 9-11 — the populations became weaponized. The assassinations, the open aggression, all dates to after 2000. (Corrections please if I am mistaken.)

Behind his house, in a flourishing middle class area with two-story houses, there is an Islamized neighborhood. There are Muslim signs everywhere. “Look at all of those Turkish flags, over there is an important church, but it’s empty, no one goes there anymore.” In the middle of one square stands a mosque with Arabic writing outside. “That used to be a church.” Not far from here is the most beautiful monument in Rotterdam. It is a small granite statue of Pim Fortuyn. Beneath the gleaming bronze head, the mouth saying his last words on behalf of freedom of speech, there is written in Latin: “Loquendi libertatem custodiamus,” let us safeguard the right to speak. Every day, someone places flowers there.

So what. Who needs freedom to speak?

99 Responses to So what if, by 2020, Rotterdam is a majority Muslim? We already have an answer.

  1. Michelle Schatzman says:

    I completely agree that dechristianization has opened the way for the rise of Islam in Europe. Not that christianity is my cup of tea, but it did set up some values with which I can identify. For instance a certain level of philosophical sophistication, of which I shall give an example.

    Present day catholics in France, especially on the left, do not understand much about the “thou shalt not kill”. And if one objects that in hebrew, the commandment is “thou shalt not assassinate, I am God”, and that this has a much more complicated meaning than the naïve interpretation, then you are just accused of manipulating texts.

    The folk catholic theory is exactly this : do not defend yourself, it is better to be killed than to kill.

    I do not know how the catholics of old used to justify armed action. But it is pretty clear that they did, and “le sabre et le goupillon” is a good old french expression describing the alliance between church and army.

    Not that it has not been used only for good purposes – this would be a foolish claim.

    But the treatment of agressive enemies is definitely gone out of the understanding of many of my fellow european citizens. This stupid idea that if you love the agressors, they will become better and understand you is appalling. On the other hand, everybody wants to lower crime rates, and needs police to do that…

    The catholic church has a healthy reputation for being hypocritical. Too bad that they do not know anymore how to be hypocritical, which was probably one of their greatest values.

  2. obsy says:

    Sorry for posting something of topic, but this is such an important peace of new information about “recent” history and I didn’t find much about it in English speaking media:

    The story so far:
    1967 a West-German policeman shot a demonstrator and was found innocent in a doubtable law case. That let to radicalization of the left in West-Germany.
    The left rebelled against the “suppressive” (aka: fascist) state and sympathized with the East-German socialist Dictatorship.
    Leftwing terror groups were formed who worked together with Palestinian terrorists. The only terrorist groups in all of German-Speaking Europe (about 100 million people) after WW2 that were really successful in spreading terror.

    Now the news:
    That policeman worked for the East-German Secret Service!

    http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,4270326,00.html

    http://ibloga.blogspot.com/2009/05/day-that-changed-germany.html

    And here a video for anyone who understands German:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5AUxej8WlU

    The question that won’t be asked is whether East-Germany had used its extensive network to shift the law case.

  3. obsy says:

    I tried this comment before, but it didn’t show. Third try:

    Sorry for posting something off topic, but this is such an important peace of new information about “recent” history and I didn’t find much about it in English speaking media:

    The story so far:
    1967 a West-German policeman shot a demonstrator and was found innocent in a doubtable law case. That let to radicalization of the left in West-Germany.
    The left rebelled against the “suppressive” (aka: fascist) state and sympathized with the East-German socialist Dictatorship.
    Leftwing terror groups were formed who worked together with Palestinian terrorists. The only terrorist groups in all of German-Speaking Europe (about 100 million people) after WW2 that were really successful in spreading terror.

    Now the news:
    That policeman worked for the East-German Secret Service!

    http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,4270326,00.html

    http://ibloga.blogspot.com/2009/05/day-that-changed-germany.html

    The question that won’t be asked is whether East-Germany had used its extensive network to shift the law case.

  4. obsy says:

    I tried to post this comment three times already without success. I try again. This time I have removed one of the links.

    Sorry for posting something off topic, but this is such an important peace of new information about “recent” history and I didn’t find much about it in English speaking media:

    The story so far:
    1967 a West-German policeman shot a demonstrator and was found innocent in a doubtable law case. That let to radicalization of the left in West-Germany.
    The left rebelled against the “suppressive” (aka: fascist) state and sympathized with the East-German socialist Dictatorship.
    Leftwing terror groups were formed who worked together with Palestinian terrorists. The only terrorist groups in all of German-Speaking Europe (about 100 million people) after WW2 that were really successful in spreading terror.

    Now the news:
    That policeman worked for the East-German Secret Service!

    http://ibloga.blogspot.com/2009/05/day-that-changed-germany.html

    And here a video for anyone who understands German:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5AUxej8WlU

    The question that won’t be asked is whether East-Germany had used its extensive network to shift the law case.

  5. oao says:

    I completely agree that dechristianization has opened the way for the rise of Islam in Europe.

    nonsense.

    it’s the collapse of education and therefore, knowledge and reason that is the root of the problem.

    today’s residents of europe no longer know or remember how they got to be free and they need to be taught to fight for freedom and human rights again. this will either happen when they are subjugated, or won’t happen at all, in which case they don’t deserve anything better than living under sharia.

    something similar happened during the nazis: initially they all appeased. then they had to fight for their lives. i don’t recall christianity or judaism doing any better than the secular forces which ultimately defeated the nazis and in fact, the most shameful response was that of the church.

    enough with the religious crap.

  6. ichannel says:

    From our bulging ‘So what if City X turns majority Muslim?’ files…

  7. obsy says:

    Wow, my comment came through!
    I tried bigger comments three or four times before.

    So here three other links to the imho most import peace of new information on “recent” history:

    http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,4270326,00.html

    And for anyone who understands German:

    http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/0,1518,626236,00.html

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5AUxej8WlU

    I haven’t found much in English media – shame on it!

  8. Kursk says:

    There are Canadian soldiers rolling over in their graves seeing what the Dutch have done to their precious gift of liberty…

    As the Muslim population reaches a tipping point and becomes the majority, there will be no critical, historical memory of the Dutch people… able to remember who they are, and how they came to be.

    Questions are being asked in my country..will Canada for the third time in just over 100 years, be forced to restore sanity where none now exists?

    We can stop it now, or try later at greater cost.

  9. obsy says:

    Somehow my comments are not shown.
    Next try. This times without links:

    This is such an important peace of new information about recent history and I didn’t find much about it in English speaking media:

    The story so far:
    1967 a West-German policeman shot a demonstrator and was found innocent in a doubtable law case. That let to radicalization of the left in West-Germany.
    The left rebelled against the “suppressive” (aka: fascist) state and sympathized with the East-German socialist Dictatorship ever after.
    Left terror groups were formed who worked together with Palestinian terrorists. The only terrorist groups in all of German-Speaking Europe (about 100 million people) after WW2 that were really successful in spreading terror.

    Now the news:
    That policeman worked for the East-German Secret Service!

  10. TrueNorth says:

    Excellent post.

    The problem as I see it is that the Left, as usual, has an incomplete understanding of reality. They foisted multiculturalism on us and now it is devouring western civilization, including everything that the Left holds dear.

    Multiculturalism was built on the erroneous Leftist idea that all cultures are of equal worth. Believing this nonsense has had an effect on our civilization that is analogous to the effect the HIV virus has had on the human immune system. The weakened immune system of the West is now being exploited by the Islamist bacteria.

    A self-confident western country of fifty years ago would have had no difficulty in proclaiming that Islamic civilization was inferior. Indeed, it would hardly have seemed to be hardly worth mentioning since it was so obvious. Such a country would have never have tolerated the insulting arrogance that present day Islamists have displayed. They would have shown them the door in short order.

    It seems odd to say it, but the Islamicization of the the West is primarily the result of a mental disease. It is not the strength of Islam but rather the weakness of the West that is the culprit. Remove the bad meme from the Western mind and I am confident that dealing with the childish and borderline insane Islamic troublemakers in our midst should be a piece of cake. They are hopeless, inept, medieval lunatics. Recognizing this fact is the first step towards defeating them.

  11. E.G. says:

    I just started reading Christopher Caldwell’s “Reflections on the REVOLUTION in Europe” (can Europe be the same with different people in it?), Allen Lane 2009.

    From the chapter titled Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism:
    “Like anti-Americanism and anti-racism, hatred of Israel is a means of joining a European culture without having to assimilate into it – of joining Europe on a footing of permanent opposition.”

  12. E.G. says:

    “I, who used to be on the left but am no longer anything, I say we’ve reached the limit. I feel the ideals of the Enlightenment have been betrayed with this voluntary apartheid, in my heart I feel the death of the ideals of the equality of men and women, and freedom of expression. Here the left is conformist, and the right has the better answer to insane multiculturalism.”

    The Left is not only conformist. It (unconsciously?) is getting trapped in it’s own discourse, perverting its principles so as to fit the latters’ original sense to the totally opposite Sharia-compatible one.
    Many episodes in the paper look as if taken directly from “Animal Farm”. All animals are equal, but some are more equal…
    There’s a lot of freedom to praise Sharia-chic, none to even wonder why the weirdly costumed figures, avoiding (eye)contact, send (via some kind of body language, physical posture) a message of defiance and contempt.

    Michelle “The folk catholic theory is exactly this : do not defend yourself, it is better to be killed than to kill.”
    That’s the basis of the (Christian) notion of martyrdom. Incorporated in a post-modern doctrine, you get Rachel Corrie.

    You see, I’m not sure it’s dechristianization per se. It’s the appropriation of some basic Judeo-Christian values/principles by the more progressive ideologies, and their (re)interpretation. So dying for your principles is noble, but dying for your country is stupid.

    oao it’s the collapse of education and therefore, knowledge and reason that is the root of the problem.
    Why? The Church wasn’t what you call an educational enterprise. And until very recently, it played a predominant role on the European masses. Are you claiming that the replacement of the Christian/Catholic Church by other, “secular” Churches (i.e., the reliance on faith rather than on reasoning) is the problem?

  13. Ray in Seattle says:

    Michelle: I completely agree that dechristianization has opened the way for the rise of Islam in Europe.

    oao: nonsense. it’s the collapse of education and therefore, knowledge and reason that is the root of the problem.

    I realize that you fancy yourself as the final word on all matters of truth in this forum and that any opinions that differ from your own must necessarily be attacked and their authors insulted. However, some of us are here to politely discuss ideas that are not our own and such boorish behavior as characterizing someone’s opinion as “nonsense” makes that difficult. I’d suggest a little humility. You can disagree with someone’s opinion without the insults. Try it.

    Also, when you offer an opinion of your own it would help to provide some support for it. I will note that you have offered your opinion that ” . . it is the collapse of education and therefore, knowledge and reason that is the root of the problem” several times now and this seems to be a cause celebre for you. fair enough. However, even though I have asked for some scientific support for that assertion it has not been provided. I have offered counter-examples that you just ignore. That’s not debate on your part. That’s just blowing smoke out some orifice or other.

    oao: “enough with the religious crap”

    How about – enough with the pseudo-intellectual posturing?

  14. oao says:

    I feel the ideals of the Enlightenment have been betrayed

    looks like it was the betrayal of the enlightenment — and thus that of secularism’s win over religion — that’s the problem, just as i argued.

    Why? The Church wasn’t what you call an educational enterprise.

    at its most strong it was anti-education. and while it was ruling there wasn’t much education. only when it lost its grip education flourished. now it’s collapsed and it does have something to do with some comeback of religion. think intelligent design.

    I realize that you fancy yourself as the final word on all matters of truth in this forum and that any opinions that differ from your own must necessarily be attacked and their authors insulted.

    i’m afraid that despite what many americans think, not everything is just a matter of opinion. you can stand on your head and you’re not gonna convince me that religion is not nonsense.

    i do not subscribe to harmony and politeness in intellectual discusssions. if i think that somebody produces nonsense, i am supposed to withhold that even when i explain why? sorry, no. if you got it in your head that there is no truth i am supposed to respect it even if i got it into mind that there is? just to make it pleasant for you? that’s the mechanism that is used to appease islam.

    you have no idea how many times i was treated much worse than have my arguments dismissed and it has never occurred to me once to complain or ask for politeness. i either demonstrated the flaws or ignored the nonsense or called it what it was.

    this is for big boys who ca handle it.

  15. oao says:

    So dying for your principles is noble, but dying for your country is stupid.

    yes, but michelle is saying that unless you’re dying for your god, it’s no good.

    Are you claiming that the replacement of the Christian/Catholic Church by other, “secular” Churches (i.e., the reliance on faith rather than on reasoning) is the problem?

    i assume this is a rhetorical question, because you know that i used the term secular religion to equate communism and fascism to religion and, therefore, you cannot possibly think i believe that’s the problem.

    any reliance on faith rather than on empirical truth — which our friend ray denies — will lead to terrible crap. communism and fascism had no results different than catholicism and islamism and they certainly inhibited and fought education. otoh, i’m unaware of secular humanism and science being responsible for the kind of atrocities and inhibition of free thought that were produced by faith of all kinds.

    the so-called judeo-christian values you refer to are cherry picked from religion. to do that you must have some criteria that tell you which to select and which to ignore. this means that (1) the supernatural is not necessary (2) the criterion for selection is external to religion. at the time religion was invented knowledge was extremely limited and only some of the survival values were known and their utility understood. religion was an attempt to fill in for what people did not know and had it not incorporated some survival values it would have been useless and therefore it would have failed, particularly in controlling the masses. ditto for communism and fascism.

  16. oao says:

    re my #16: correction:

    instead of “you cannot possibly think i believe that’s the problem” i should have said “you cannot possibly think that I believe secular faiths are not the problem too”.

  17. Michelle Schatzman says:

    Hey, oao, you are so predictible, that I could as well push a button. I do not mind being called names because, as a matter of principle, I never answer this kind of speech in the same style. So go ahead, call me whatever you like, and keep imagining things I certainly never said.

    You read my post so fast that you did not read the reason I gave when I praised the catholic church. I praised it for its hypocrisy, OK? Not for its god or for how it spread christianity. For good old hypocrisy, which is one of the ways our world can still hold somewhat together. What Beaumarchais called «l’hommage du vice à la vertu» (the praise of vice to virtue).

    And I never pretended that one should die for God – read me, dear, read me! If you are at war with an enemy, you must know that you put your life in danger, and once you are aware of this detail, you have to live with it. But, you should do the most to stay alive, as long as it does not contradict the aims of your war.

    I know that on this web, describing “religion” in any kind of positive light makes a few of you nervous. That’s OK, guys, we are here to discuss real questions. My claim is that religion has had an enormous rôle in the creation of modern western thought, and the proof is that wars of religion gave the incentive to the european peoples to criticize religion. If they had not thought that religions were important, they would not have criticized them, isn’t that clear?

    But there is also more to religion, if you look at history : in many cases it has been the cement that held national identities together. People who lose their national identity have lots of trouble identifying what is worth defending, and what is worth dying for. An ideology of “better be killed than kill” is the obvious recipe for defeat.

    Finally, religion has forged some social behaviors, such as trust. Our gracious host here has an interesting paper on “Economic Development and Demotic Religiosity: Reflections on the Eleventh-Century Takeoff”, where he hypothesizes a relation between economic development and the Pax Dei movements in the 11th century.

    Not being Voltaire, I do not identify religion and superstition, and I do not have a uniformly negative view of religion, nor a uniformly positive view of it either. We are hitting here on a big problem in the development of the human child : it is a selective advantadge for a human child to believe what a grown-up will say, such as “keep away from the stove”, or “do not cross the road without me”. So we are born credulous. We do have to abandon part of that credulity when we grow up, and I think that we have to retain some of it, namely the part saying : “I believe in such and such system of values, though I certainly cannot prove that it has a rational foundation”.

    Pretending that we can be without an irrational choice of fundamental values seems false to me. The idea that values are obvious and can be deduced from the observation of nature and societies is really very nineteenth-century (think of Auguste Comte). As a matter of principle, if someone says that something is obvious, I tend to question this on philosophical grounds. Why is it obvious? If the answer is “indeed, it is obvious”, I probably have hit onto one of these fundamental values which we have to choose without rational foundations. Or call them “first principles”, or whatever more appropriate term you could find.

  18. E.G. says:

    Michelle,

    I for one haven’t read that “dying for God is OK” in what you wrote.

    And I agree that the Church (the institution) shaped many social behaviours. Less sure about the Church’s (of all things) role in shaping national identity.

    My claim is that religion has had an enormous rôle in the creation of modern western thought, and the proof is that wars of religion gave the incentive to the european peoples to criticize religion. If they had not thought that religions were important, they would not have criticized them, isn’t that clear?

    No, it isn’t clear.
    Wars of religion may have given place to questioning the clergy/Church and their respective motivations to encourage and support war while preaching peace. So did the institutions’ corruption cases. The hypocrisy became more evident.
    Then came Voltaire and the Enlightenment. And the French revolution (the King was strongly associated with both religion and the religious establishment). But although many churches were robbed and some even demolished, most people kept their religious faith.

    Pretending that we can be without an irrational choice of fundamental values seems false to me.

    We’re all “indoctrinated” with our milieu’s values from childhood (and the credulity age). So that’s obviously (oops! ;-)) not a rational choice. But some of us become less credulous – if only about what you’d call less fundamental values. After all, they shape one’s self-identity. Others (e.g., Nonie Darwish) get to question even their most deeply set values. They often convert.

  19. oao says:

    Hey, oao, you are so predictible, that I could as well push a button.

    and you’re not? btw, it’s predictAble.

    can you enlighten us as to what is wrong with predictability? as long as one has valid and consistent –internally and externally–arguments, predictAbility necessarily follows and it would be a problem if it did not.

    I do not mind being called names because, as a matter of principle, I never answer this kind of speech in the same style. So go ahead, call me whatever you like, and keep imagining things I certainly never said.

    can you point out where i called you names? i only said that some of your arguments don’t make sense and i explained why.

    have you heard of inference and logical consequences?
    you may have not said certain things, but in the context of the exchange, there were implications to what you did say.

    My claim is that religion has had an enormous rôle in the creation of modern western thought

    that’s a trivial fact not anybody with half a brain would deny. the issue was whether (a) the role was positive (b) the demise of the role was what dooms the west today. my response to that is that had the church continued the same role to its present, we would live under sharia, but still under inquisition. it was knowledge and reason which got rid of the role — good riddance — and only adherence to them can protect from encroachment of the role of another religion.

    We’re all “indoctrinated” with our milieu’s values from childhood (and the credulity age).

    it is faith — religious or secular– with which one is indoctrinated and one pays a heavy price for exiting it.

    indoctrination and irrationality attributedto what are survival values is an example of when the term nonsense is justified.

  20. oao says:

    incidentally, michelle: respect should be accorded to you, but not to what you say. that’s how we respond to complaints by muslims that they are offended when their prophet or religion are critisized.

  21. Sophia says:

    I think 9/11 was a watershed date also.

    The Iraq and Afghan wars, Durban and the Intifada, Lebanon, Gaza, provocation from Iran and violence in Pakistan have influenced both immigrant and local populations.

    My neighborhood is totally multinational, people from all over the world live here and that’s one of its attractions for me.

    However, only in the past few years have I been seeing chadors and burkas, and I doubt the population balance has changed much. So it’s an assertion I believe.

    Interestingly the main east-west street is famous for its Indian, Pakistani, Assyrian, (former) Yugoslavian of all types, Orthodox Jewish, and Israeli populations, and the main cross street features many Asian neighborhoods, shops and restaurants, a Swedish enclave, Germans – Greeks – there is a large Latin American population too – African-Americans – everybody lives here.

    It’s a model of diversity and peaceful interaction.

    But in the past few years, synagogues have been attacked and also the office of a Jewish city representative and there is ugly graffiti; a little painting on a park bench had its Israeli flag painted out.

    There have been firebombings and other defacements of Jewish organizations and now we’re seeing the women in full hijab.

    I don’t think this is a failure on the part of the West or of my city, where we enjoy living precisely because of its international flavor.

    I think it does represent a change among the Muslim population.

    And, I think the local population has changed vis a vis Jews and Israel. Antisemitism is not only rising it is becoming fashionable.

    There’s a Palestinian flag in a window across the street, with a sign “Yes we can. Free Palestine.” This is very near a Jesuit university, a stone’s throw from the cathedral. Young people, unarmed with knowledge or experience, are perhaps reacting against their parents and their culture simply because it’s what young people do.

    And, they seek justice for the perceived underdog.

    But in the past university elites and their prejudices have also infected political discourse and I think that is a potentially dangerous aspect of post 9/11 politics.

    So: more religiously assertive Muslim population, more attacks on Jews, more proPalestinian, anti-Israel graffiti – this is a very specific type of problem and not one relating to “multiculturalism” in general.

    The other really obvious change in recent years is the almost bilingual, English/Spanish flavor we’re assuming nationally. I think this has different implications though and I don’t see it as a conflict with our essential values though some people do.

    And, there is multiculturalism as in lively diversity within a primary (American or European) culture and there is multiculturalism as in the “salad bowl” model in which various groups do not intermingle, and in some models of the latter perhaps there is a definite goal to dominate the extant culture.

    So – I think we need to separate the discussion about multiculturalism per se from the discussion about the assertion of political Islamism in the West.

    Here’s a discussion about immigration in Britain, people were apparently afraid to even discuss it as long as by “immigration” one meant “Asian”, but when Polish immigrants became an issue the subject was “safe” to discuss.

    http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/05/23/towards-a-reasonable-discussion-on-immigration/

    In Britain as on the Continent, all white, far right political parties are establishing themselves in reaction – that to me is upsetting in itself but the situation in Rotterdam – where people can’t even write “do not kill” – cannot be desireable.

    I had had no idea – obviously this has gone way too far because human rights are being infringed upon.

    The rights of a religious group – any religious or political or racial group – should not – especially in the West where human rights are a bedrock principle – supercede those of the individual, and apparently in Rotterdam this principle has been forgotten.

    I also think the Archbishop of Canterbury is flirting with this when he asserts that sharia law should be implemented in Britain, or that it may be inevitable.

    Naively, I had supposed that people came to the West to escape repressive laws and mores, not to implement them here.

    I think that is still true to a large extent – for example I think there are many Muslims (in Britain for example, and here) who came West to escape oppression. There are women who have fled to America, for example, to escape genital mutilation or forced marriage, gays who face death in the East.

    What will happen to them if sharia becomes law in the West? I think we have to consider not only Western culture and people here but also the immigrant population and its sons and daughters.

    Do they not also inherit our rights? Should the rights of the religion itself supercede that of the people?

    Interestingly, parties in the UN want to protect Islam itself from challenge – they wish to vest an ideology with human rights.

    Perhaps the way to unravel this conundrum lies in seeing the difference between human beings and their rights and an ideology and its rights?

    Does an ideology have rights?

    If not then why are we treating it and its trappings as if they had human rights?

    ***

    A few more thoughts:

    As far as those who single-mindedly blame “the Left” for this situation – please think again.

    That is just dumb and it belies history – at its best the Left has tried to defeat religious oppression.

    And, as I tried to mention in various discussions about Israel – much of this is simply the result of migration. It’s human behavior, to move and to bring cultural artifacts along.

    As people now being affected by a large migration (immigration), we have choices as to how we should react to our new neighbors.

    I would hate to see us treat them the way the Jews were treated in the Mandate.

    I do think well-meaning people of all religious and political stripes, hoping to be kind to everybody and care for our fellow man, might be walking into a trap if we confuse the rights of people with the rights of a religion or a political ideology.

    It’s a challenge to maintain our identity as Westerners, remain tolerant and open to others, respect other minorities and other cultures and still be safe from being oppressed by them or any other religious or political group.

    What if we assert this principle: no local or national laws should be used as a mechanism to help ANY group take the rights of others including those of its own members.

  22. Michelle Schatzman says:

    @oao,

    I apologize for stating that you called me names. You just called my posting “religious crap”. Fine with me, as I explained above.

    Predictåbility : thanks for correcting my english.

    Now, serious questions : I do smile at your predictability, because you are not trying to ask me to substantiate my claims, you just sweep them away.

    For instance, when you write, first quoting me :

    I completely agree that dechristianization has opened the way for the rise of Islam in Europe.

    nonsense.

    it’s the collapse of education and therefore, knowledge and reason that is the root of the problem.

    this is not much of an argument.

    Next natural question should be “why did education collapse?” and “how to repair it”.

    I have a complex feeling re. education. It is pretty clear in France that the level of teaching in school has dropped with respect to what it was, say, 15 years ago. Not to speak of what it was 45 years ago. But the system has also deeply changed. It used to have several tiers, everything has now been fused together, but since this is a big lie, private schools are much better regarded than they used to be. What is interesting is that “the solution is through education” has been a communist mantra in France for as long as I can remember. As a consequence, one of the standard demands of the extreme-left has been “more positions in education” while the level of education was going down and the working conditions were turning from bad to worse.

    What can be seen rather clearly now, is that the number of people in education is so large that nothing can be really changed in that sector, even when it functions very badly ; they simply became a very large lobby.

    I find it always very interesting when any reform proposal increases the number of years young people must stay in school for the same amount of learning. This kind of proposal means “more positions in education for people who won’t take any kind of serious criticism, and who confuse public service with self-service”. Pardon me, I am very harsh, but we have some interesting applications of these principles right now in France.

    If education could be improved by hiring more educators, I would believe that education has to be revamped. However, I think that the problem is much, much deeper. It is our opinion of education, excellence, equality and free criticism, which is in trouble.

    Everybody agrees that in sports you can have rankings, you can win or lose during a game, and you should play in your league. On the other hand, an even remotely approximate application of sports criteria to intellectual pursuits is deemed undemocratic and is vigorously fought against.

    I am full of doubt about simple solutions. I am more interested by dynamical questions, say, how and where do we start things so that they can get better?

  23. oao says:

    Now, serious questions : I do smile at your predictability, because you are not trying to ask me to substantiate my claims, you just sweep them away.

    there are arguments which do require substantiation and there are arguments which do not. defense of religion in any kind of sense is one of the latter.

    this is not much of an argument.

    an argument it sure is, you mean it’s not substantiated. 1st, i and others here have provided plenty of evidence for it over time. that you missed or ignored it is not my fault. 2nd, it’s rather difficult to miss the collapse of education, bearing in mind that i distinguish between what we have today — at best schooling — and what i have defined as education in earlier threads, which we had in the past.

    i do not disagree with your comments on education. i just don’t think they are the core of the problem, which is that people are now schooled rather than educated. and schooling involves telling students WHAT to think rather than teaching them HOW to think.

    as to why that is, there are various factors involved, some of which i specified in earlier threads.

    I am full of doubt about simple solutions.

    on that we agree. blaming dechristianization for islamization is a shaky argument on at least two grounds and i consider it the very simplicity you doubt.

    I am more interested by dynamical questions, say, how and where do we start things so that they can get better?

    understandable, except when it comes to systemic problems which require collective actions there are powerful inherent factors–thoroughly explained in game theory–which defy solutions.

  24. oao says:

    That is just dumb and it belies history – at its best the Left has tried to defeat religious oppression.

    only to replace it with its own religion. then it became a sore loser and went into absurdity.

    What if we assert this principle…”

    assert to your heart’s content. it’s the willingness to pay the price of defending it against its enemies that counts and it is that which is lacking.

  25. oao says:

    And, I think the local population has changed vis a vis Jews and Israel. Antisemitism is not only rising it is becoming fashionable.

    it always does in crisis.

  26. oao says:

    michelle,

    http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/33737_Video-_Skewed_Views_of_Science

    a good description of the consequences of the collapse of education

  27. E.G. says:

    An edited extract from Caldwell’s “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West”

    Postwar Europe was built on an intolerance of intolerance and a downplaying of national tradition—a mindset praised as anti-racism and ridiculed as political correctness. It has often made integrating newcomers hard
    Christopher Caldwell

    http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=10749

  28. Michelle Schatzman says:

    oao, I saw the video you linked. The authors are right (and I have absolutely nothing against evolution or the big bang), but their video is unfortunately lousy; boring, very little in the way of illustration. Nice english voice, by the way. Better and faster to read an article in a newspaper than to listen to this.

    It turns out that I was personnally raised on the material provided in this video. My father used to identify himself as a rationalist, and advocated brilliantly his views. He used to work as an atrophysicist, so I also learnt lots of science at my father’s table. I am an applied mathematician, so that, in contrast with my pure math colleagues, I also know professionnally about experimental science.

    As long as I can remember, my father would spend lots of time battling woo, psychics, astrologers, and so on. I am sure that his intentions were right. It is pretty clear that he did not succeed into decreasing the amount of woo in our societies. He was also a dedicated marxist, and at some point, I found out that marxism was plain wrong. This helped me to see the limits of his rationalist philosophy. He was the guy who thought indeed that values could be founded on science. There was simply no alternative.

    I have no friendship for woo and for manipulating my fellow humans by feeding them lots of lies. I found out, with the help of the writings of old Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz that values cannot be founded. They are chosen, in word or in fact. Leibowitz died fifteen years ago. I certainly do not agree with all Leibowitzian thought. Nevertheless, he was a great rationalist and a great believer.

    You certainly do not have to agree with me. You are grown up and I am grown up – so much so that I am a grandmother. I was just trying to let you see that sometimes, things are slightly less obvious than they seem, and in fact, I am going to give you an example of where I believe some of your arguments fail.

    understandable, except when it comes to systemic problems which require collective actions there are powerful inherent factors–thoroughly explained in game theory–which defy solutions.

    The vision which lets you think that nothing can be done is spatially homogeneous. But if you know a bit about phase transitions, you might have heard about nucleation and fronts in phase transitions. Things can transform locally, thanks to fluctuations in conditions, and then a nucleus of a different phase develops, can be stabilized and even expand.

    Aren’t we pretty sure that the neolithic revolution crossed from the middle east to Europe and most of Asia as a front, stopping at the large deserts before China, so that China had it neolithic revolution on its own?

    What do we know about the propagation of techniques and tools? Also a front – it’s quite well documented, I believe.

    What am I doing here? Trying my ideas, so that if they are worth something, they can be added to a common pool of ideas, and they can nucleate and propagate. This is intellectual technology, and it travels much slower than material technology, because of woo and counterproductive thinking. It is not enough to popularize the blueprints in order to explain new intellectual technologies.

    I am just trying, and I like to tackle non trivial problems. No certainty I will succeed, but all my life was spent in trying to solve problems. And not always succeeding :-)

  29. Ray in Seattle says:

    I appreciate the elevation of the discussion but I also apologize if my reactive response previously has caused us to more completely stray from the original topic of what happens when a city in Holland becomes Islamized. But then, this is all related at some level and now I am thinking about what has been recently said.

    You said “What am I doing here? Trying my ideas, so that if they are worth something, they can be added to a common pool of ideas, and they can nucleate and propagate. This is intellectual technology, and it travels much slower than material technology, because of woo and counterproductive thinking. It is not enough to popularize the blueprints in order to explain new intellectual technologies.”

    Well said. There are useful ideas being expressed in this blog. That’s why I’m here I think. To participate in that process. That’s why I get a bit angry when someone repeatedly says things in a way that’s dismissive and impolite. Not because I shy from a good knock-down – but because such rancor impedes the flow and creates a distraction, especially in a public forum like this. It’s what I expressed in an earlier comment about the difference between an ideologue and an ideophile, the latter being the only useful stance IMO when complex ideas are flying about.

    Michelle, you also say – “The vision which lets you think that nothing can be done is spatially homogeneous.”

    Could you take a minute to restate that in some way that I could understand it? I think you are saying something useful about the validity of one’s visions so I’m frustrated that I can’t comprehend it ;-)

  30. Michelle Schatzman says:

    OK, Ray, you have spotted my bad habit of mathematically terse language, and I’ll try to give an experimental setup and a description of what is going on.

    There are lots of examples of phase transitions. The simplest ones are freezing/thawing, boiling/condensing. It is known that if you take very pure water and cool it slowly, then it is not going to freeze at 0 degress Celsius or 32 degrees Farenheit. It can remain liquid below freezing temperature, but if you throw into it a minuscule crystal of ice, or a minuscule fleck of dust, this water is going to crystallize into ice almost instaneously. What happens is that in order for water to crystallize, ice has to nucleate somewhere. With very pure water, there are no impurities where the crystal network can start, and so, it does not freeze. The lower the temperature, the smaller the impurities needed in order to start nucleation. I do not know how far into freezing temperatures this experiment works.

    What is more interesting is that phase transitions can occur in solids.

    A number of metals and alloys can cristallize into different forms, and the transition between one form and another one takes place at a given temperature.

    Let us say for simplicity that the crystal of some alloy is in form A at high temperatures, in form B at medium temperatures, and in form C at low temperatures. There is a critical temperature, call it T1, at which the transition from A to B should occur, and another critical temperature T2 at which the transition from B to C should occur. So, suppose that you have an alloy at a temperature above Tc, which is made out of the A crystalline form. If you cool it slowly below the critical temperature, at the inevitable impurities in the crystal, islands of B crystal are going to take over the A crystal. But, if, instead, you cool your alloy very fast, it will move to the C crystal form.

    This may be useful for two reasons (1) the atoms of the alloy will not move and separate (2) When crystals change phase, they often change volume. If it happens that form C is less dense than form A, the properties of the bulk metal will be changed, and they may be more interesting than if you let the alloy go slowly from crystalline form A to crystalline form B and then to crystalline form C.

    I just described what happens when you make steel (an alloy of iron and carbon) and the process called quenching.

    That quenching makes for harder steel has been observed by the first workers who made steel : the original and simplest way of quenching is to drop the steel into water.

    Now, we should not believe that steel is going to remain hard forever. In fact, quenching tricks the steel into forgetting that it had to go through form B, which is undesirable. Nevertheless, very, very slowly, the crystalline structure evoles, even at normal temperature, and steel loses very slowly its hardness. This very low evolution is called metastable evolution. Metastable refers to the fact that the state of the alloy is almost stable, but not quite, so it is going to evolve. According to general principles in thermodynamics, the colder your object, the slower it will evolve. It is quite well known that metal which is often heated wears much faster than metal which remains at normal temperature. The reason is that under heat, the crystalline structure changes much faster.

    Lots of interest has been given to phase transition in crystals, because it is a key to the durability of certain industrial objects. There are several mathematical models of phase transition, and lots of papers publisehd in this area.

    In particular, the language of phase transition can be used to describe specifically spatial phenomena.

    So let me give another intuitive description of what is going on. Suppose that we have a medium which has two stable states, called A and B. It does not like to be away from A or from B, and it likes equally A and B. Moreover, this medium has to behave continuously. If initially the medium is uniform, and its state is not at equal distances of states A and B, it will evolve to whichever state is closer.

    Now, suppose that the medium is not initially uniform. For instance, it fluctuates around the state which is equidistant of A and B. Then, we figure out that the at the points where the medium’s state is closer to A, it is going to evolve to A and the points where the medium’s state is closer to B, the medium is going to evolve to B. And we will hae transition zones between areas where the medium was on the A side and on the B side, with walls getting steeper and steeper.

    Now add something : information exchange between neigbors (in technical terms, some sort of diffusion). Then interesting things happen, because, this time, there cannot be any more arbitrarily walls between A regions and B regions. The thickness of these walls can be estimated, and it cannot be less thant some fixed distance. There is more : a small island of A in a sea of B is going to disappear, and conversely. If you have a bean shaped region of A inside a region of B, the bean shape is going to get rounder and rounder.

    It is also possible to impose extra constraints – such as the relative proportions of A and B, the type of information exchange, and many more.

    What I was thinking about in my post was that, if information can be exchanged, what appears as an impossible task due to metastability can become possible due to nucleation and front propagation.

    In other words : suppose that we are in a situation where some kind of benefic social change could occur but does not, due to social inertia. Say everybody chooses to defect in the prisoner’s dilemma. Then, if somewhere in the society there is a subsociety which by cooperating gets better economic results than by defecting, this behavior can propagate.

    I am perfectly aware of the difficulty of using scientific metaphors in social thought. At least, I have an advantadge here, since I participated in some of this science, so I guess or hope, that, at least, I understand the relevant science.

  31. Ray in Seattle says:

    Michelle, Thanks for the very interesting overview of what you mean by spatial homogeneity among molecules, nucleation, crystallization, etc. I think that’s a vivid metaphor to describe how ideas could spread through a society. My formal education and career was in engineering but now that I am semi-retired I have had the time to read some very interesting books and papers in the social sciences and psychology – so I have no problem making the connection. These are complex topics and I really appreciate it when someone (like you and Sophia) takes the effort to really think about their comments and explain themselves well.

    What I was more interested though, is why you chose to apply that particular metaphor (spatial homogeneity) to oao’s vision that “nothing can be done” to save the West or slow the spread of Islam – which he repeatedly states. Spatial homogeneity seems to imply that everyone accepts it in the West – that we are doomed. I hardly see much evidence for that with large parts of the left actually welcoming it.

    I think I see now that you were simply using that sentence to introduce your idea that beliefs that seem homogeneous in a population can be displaced by new ideas that start as a small nucleus that grows – i.e. you were not using it as a general metric for the quality if a visions. In any case please don’t spend more time on this for my sake. It is a small issue among the far more important ideas swirling about in this forum.

    In fact, I’d say that the process within human minds that allows ideas to spread through populations and become part of the identity of that population – such as Islamism has done in the ME and SE Asia is one of those far more important ideas. Do you have any ideas on or about that?

  32. oao says:

    but their video is unfortunately lousy; boring, very little in the way of illustration. Nice english voice, by the way. Better and faster to read an article in a newspaper than to listen to this.

    what papers? the nyt? the lat? even that garbage is disappearing because they are not read anymore. instead of the boring stuff about science they all read the exciting material by greg felton and andy sullivan.

    there is no better evidence of the collapse of education than this.

    I am just trying, and I like to tackle non trivial problems. No certainty I will succeed, but all my life was spent in trying to solve problems. And not always succeeding :-)

    well, then perhaps you should familiarize yourself with the material on the logic of collective action and game theory. that will help you determine whether your ideas will work or not.

  33. oao says:

    Michelle, Thanks for the very interesting overview of what you mean by spatial homogeneity among molecules, nucleation, crystallization, etc. I think that’s a vivid metaphor to describe how ideas could spread through a society.

    there is a whole period in which social scientists have strived to apply natural science concepts and methods to human behavior, without much to show for it. it’s only geizers like me who still remember it.

    the collapse of education means that this is no longer remembered and may reemerge, alas, with the same result.

  34. Michelle Schatzman says:

    Geezers, oao, geezers!

    Ray, I took the time to talk of some of my old interests in science, probably muddying the subject.

    What I have in mind is a metaphor founded on an almost true mathematical result : take a dynamis with two possible different asymptotic limits, put space parameters and diffusion (which is basically exchange of information between neighbors), then spatial structuration emerges.

    In fact, nucleation phenomena are probably named differently, but from what I know, they have been observed in history. For instance the progress of agricultural techniques, or the diffusion of tools.

    oao, again : I am afraid that I did not make myself clear enough. I was thinking of combining a game situation with a partial differential system description, as in equation depending on space (multidimensional) and time. I gave a little look to the data base, this does not look like something classical.

    What are the references on the logic of collective action that you would recommend? I know probably enough game theory to teach it to undergraduates, and I also know where to find extra info.

  35. Michelle Schatzman says:

    typo in my last post : take a dynamics

  36. oao says:

    Geezers, oao, geezers!

    touche.

    Oh, Texas, this guy runs your school board? (video)
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/05/21/oh-texas-this-guy-runs-your-school-board/

  37. oao says:

    apropo today’s so-called leftism:

    How to Become an Accidental Conservative: Growing up Among the Leftist Bourgeoisie
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,626346,00.html#ref=rss

    and it’s not just rotterdam:

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2009/05/24/jailed-islamic-extremists-want-ban-on-women-prison-officers-115875-21384258/

  38. E.G. says:

    Dear Michelle, Ray, and many others,

    oao is not very polite, nor is he as pedagogic as Michelle. But he sure knows what a totalitarian system is, and what damage it can cause.

    The discussion is very instructive, both for the ideas Michelle introduces and elaborates on, and for the shift it’s taken. Regarding the latter, I can’t avoid thinking that there’s some willingness to discuss anything but an unpleasant reality. Namely, that knowingly or not, Europeans are prone to set themselves into a totalitarian system.
    I’m lucky to have only been born in one, not to have lived in it. But I’ve heard enough first-hand testimonies of what life under such a system can be like to be alerted.
    I don’t like playing the chairperson’s role (especially here, not having been designated or elected), nor do I find myself non-guilty of off-topic remarks, but could we please get back to the topic?

  39. oao says:

    oao is not very polite, nor is he as pedagogic as Michelle. But he sure knows what a totalitarian system is, and what damage it can cause.

    i was polite and pedagocic for most of my life and it did not help any.

    in fact, i suspect i know better than most if not all people here, as i lived in the most totalitarian state until 13 and in which the consequence is almost complete destruction.

    Namely, that knowingly or not, Europeans are prone to set themselves into a totalitarian system.

    they already have, on the new “left”. and the reaction comes from the radical right.

  40. oao says:

    incidentally, eliminating knowledge and reason is one sure way totalitarianism can win power.

  41. oao says:

    What are the references on the logic of collective action that you would recommend? I know probably enough game theory to teach it to undergraduates, and I also know where to find extra info.

    try THE LOGIC OF COLLECTIVE ACTION by Mancur Olson. it may seem it has a narrow scope, but the implications are quite broad. you’ll have to infer them yourself, though.

  42. oao says:

    oao’s vision that “nothing can be done” to save the West or slow the spread of Islam – which he repeatedly states.

    even if islam did not spread the decline of the west is not only unavoidable, but has actually occurred. islam only accelerates it.

    this is not a vision but an inference from evidence with the aid of knowledge and reason. incidentally, the election of obama is one indicator.

  43. E.G. says:

    oao #42

    I made a behavioural observation, not expressing my attitude towards that behaviour.
    Un peu de rigueur, s’il vous plait ;-)
    I confess I too question sometimes the necessity/utility of being polite.

    The reaction is starting to come from the centre. More people realise that the radicals were “on something” – but too often offered unacceptable solutions (for which they were pilorried).
    So people ask “what can we do?” And at the same time, media helping, opine that Lieberman and his “loyalty vow” proposal is racist.

  44. Ray in Seattle says:

    EG, There are few areas in life where a little discipline is not in order. And we all feel that constraint and violate it at times. What I object to is during discussion, especially of difficult subjects and in a forum that itself does not permit nuance easily, the continuous emotional expression of disdain for others’ ideas – i.e. ideas that are not one’s own.

    To be sure, it is not disagreement I object to. There’s nothing more boring than a discussion where everyone agrees on the topic. Good and spirited disagreement is what makes discussions like these worthy of participation IMHO.

    The problem is that such consistent expressions of disdain for others’ ideas, unless very carefully crafted, also carry messages of contempt for the person holding those ideas. When someone continuously says that certain groups of people, such as liberals, Arabs, Christians, etc. are stupid, uneducated and don’t have the ability to think clearly or rigorously – and then in a reply to you says that your ideas are “crap” – then the loud and clear message is conveyed to all that you are stupid, uneducated and don’t have the ability to think clearly or rigorously. Invariably, the target of such an insult, feels a natural urge to insult back, one better than the first. And soon the topic, which was probably quite interesting, is buried under tons of invective and bullshit.

    Of course, the person is careful never to insult too explicitly. But let’s be honest here. Having spent many hundreds if not thousands of hours on forums such as these over the last 6 years or so, it’s no secret that this deceptive method of insult is a well-practiced art. I’m sure they’ve been kicked off boards in the past until they learned the more devious ways of making their insults without arousing the ire of the moderator.

    As far as staying on topic, I am willing to read whatever thoughts someone takes the time to type in to their keyboard – as long as the topic is not blatantly off topic. I am an ideophile and find ideas all pretty interesting even if only on the level of wondering why someone would take the time to express it. It always tells you something about a human mind on the other end of the internet and adds imperceptibly to one’s personal human nature data-base. No-one has to respond here unless they are so motivated. More people will be inspired to join in if they don’t feel they will be ridiculed for minor offenses and I assume RL appreciates the interest.

    ******************

    Re: More people realise that the radicals were “on something” – but too often offered unacceptable solutions (for which they were pilorried).

    Did you mean “On to something”? Or were you referring to their personal drug habits? ;-)

  45. oao says:

    I made a behavioural observation, not expressing my attitude towards that behaviour.
    Un peu de rigueur, s’il vous plait ;-)

    likewise, please: did i claim anything else?

    I confess I too question sometimes the necessity/utility of being polite.

    there’s 2 problems here: 1st, that using terms like nonsense or bs are equivalent to calling names, or cursing or offending, when in reality it is a description of what one really thinks of the ARGUMENTS, not the person. 2nd, it is certainly ok to use the terminology when you also back it up with evidence and reason.

    now, there is a limit to 2: you have to be careful not to care too much about it when you deal with the greg feltons, because by sheer sustaining of a dialog with them you create the impression they are worthy of a debate, which is what they strive for. so you gotta be very selective and smart in choosing how to employ 1 and 2 and with whom.

  46. oao says:

    the continuous emotional expression of disdain for others’ ideas – i.e. ideas that are not one’s own.

    it is such statements that deserve disdain.

    in fact, you are guilty of disdain without realizing it. you have come up with some hypothesis about emotions which you believe to be a theory, but to which others may not subscribe for substantive reasons. and you apply it to them to dismiss their arguments as “emotions” and thus deprecate them.

    when you live in a glass house, don’t throw stones.

    when I say “nonsense” emotion is only in your head and that’s your problem. i am simply stating my opinion on the arguments stated.

    could it be that YOU respond emotionally to such terms–can’t handle them–and project on everybody else?

    i have decades of participation in arguments and debates online and in person and i have acquired a very thick skin. you will never see me asking somebody to be polite even when they use the most foul language, which i have not. i suggest you check out my technical website and see how i’ve been treated and how i responded. who knows, it may even change your mind on your theory (though the chance is almost nil: you are emotionally vested in it).

  47. Ray in Seattle says:

    Finally, you debate.

    oao: in fact, you are guilty of disdain without realizing it. you have come up with some hypothesis about emotions which you believe to be a theory

    I don’t consider it a theory. Hypothesis only.

    . . but to which others may not subscribe for substantive reasons.

    I have yet to see any substantive reasons from you. A substantive reason would be one against which I could argue or agree. Saying that it is not scientifically rigorous is not an argument I could refute. In fact I have yet to see that you even understand my hypothesis.

    If you really think scientific rigor is a requirement for a public discussion board like this (I doubt you do) then show why this lack of rigor is a flaw. Show why it caused me to arrive at some conclusion that is wrong on its merits. I think the reason you have not done this is because you haven’t taken the time to understand what I’m saying and therefore couldn’t possibly offer a substantive criticism.

    My hypothesis is probably as rigorous as RL’s honor/shame hypothesis BTW. There really have been no psychological experiments done on the H/S hypothesis as a driver of behavior either although I have read some essays about it that delve into psychology and philosophy as well as politics, history and religion. All interesting and enlightening.

    . . and you apply it to them to dismiss their arguments as “emotions” and thus deprecate them.

    And this proves that you don’t understand it. I see emotion as the non-conscious force in minds that drive all behavior. All animals, certainly all mammals show emotion and also exhibit behavior. Only humans show any significant consciousness. Conscious reasoning is a source of behavior alternatives for humans that animals do not have. My hypothesis is that we choose to follow our reasoning (or not) based on the emotional strength we attach to that choice when we come up with it. We very often follow stronger emotions that come from existing beliefs in our mind, especially when we don’t have high confidence in our logical conclusions. (Did 3 or 4 bears go into that cave?)

    So, in my view all behavior is a result of emotional forces in the mind. That includes my own so I would hardly use that do criticize yours. What is important is where those emotions originate; they could come from instinct, habits, previously established beliefs or in some cases, if those sources don’t provide solid direction we’ll try to use reason to figure out what to do.

    In most cases adults use the emotions of their previously established beliefs. Maturity is the process of creating those in the mind. The difference then in minds is mostly whether they are populated with carefully edited beliefs that are based on constant reassessments of objective reality or if they are selected by what makes the owner feel good. And that usually comes down to social / peer pressure.

    That’s why in places like Gaza, for example, honor / shame emotions are such strong drivers of behavior. Children grow up there learning to find acceptance by showing how well they learn to trade in the honor / shame currency of Arab social interactions. They develop an elaborate belief system that feeds them the emotions that drive their behavior – to humiliate those who have less power than you, to defer to those who have more, to hate Jews, to seek revenge for Palestinian humiliation at the hands of Jews and even perhaps to martyr themselves to gain the ultimate honor payoff available to them.

    The Dutch of Rotterdam have grown up on a diet of tolerance for others. When someone becomes angry enough to kill, they assume there must have been a great wrong done by the target to justify such rage. They can not imagine that someone would kill people only because they were Jews who immigrated to “Arab” land. So they tend to believe the memes of Jewish brutality and displacement of Muslims from their land that justify the endless ME antisemitic wars.

    ***********

    Now, if you want to critique my hypothesis, please do. But try to understand it first and criticize its flaws. Don’t criticize it because it makes you uncomfortable because it isn’t something you’ve thought about before.

    One of the predictable effects of this hypothesis is that ideas that live in one’s mind for a while gain strength. That is, as we use them to guide our behavior over time and they pay off for us by giving us a greater sense of well-being by following those emotions, then they become a more trusted source.

    That’s why new ideas make most people feel uneasy, no matter how reasonable they may be. Few people have the ability to always be open to new ideas. It takes a lot of energy and usually only young people whose minds are designed by evolution to do that are capable of it. It’s very hard for geezers like you and me.

  48. Ray in Seattle says:

    oao, BTW I don’t disagree that a good education consists of learning to properly assess objective reality (critical thinking). Another way to say that is learning to always question your existing beliefs. Getting locked into one way of thinking (one metaset of beliefs) is a huge problem in our society and in the world. When people get locked in like that they lose the ability to even discuss new ideas. New ideas are threatening because they are unfamiliar. Their response is often anger and insults.

  49. oao says:

    i did not intend my post to debate, i don’t think it’ll be productive. i just posted my reaction to your comments.

    Another way to say that is learning to always question your existing beliefs. Getting locked into one way of thinking (one metaset of beliefs) is a huge problem in our society and in the world.

    as a scientist i’ve always done that. i find that most people (including many academics) declare this but don’t practice it because it is psychological difficult. insistence on the hypothesis that the west has not collapsed and refusing to reject the counter hypothesis is a good example. neither it is clear that you are questioning your hypothesis.

    but unlike you i don’t think everything is belief. i consider belief as a position for which evidence is not yet available, is impossible or is uncollected. which you hold on faith.

  50. Ray in Seattle says:

    oao: . . but unlike you i don’t think everything is belief. i consider belief as a position for which evidence is not yet available, is impossible or is uncollected. which you hold on faith.

    That’s good. You are pointing out where we see things differently. But are you sure about that? Don’t you believe that 2 X 2 = 4? That’s the way I am using the term.

    In scientific discussion, if differences exist in the use of terms, it is customarily settled by explanations of how they are used by each person. These are then taken into account by the other. Just because a person uses a term differently does not make them wrong.

    oao: neither it is clear that you are questioning your hypothesis.

    Science has established a method called peer review. This blog is not a peer reviewed journal but that’s exactly what I’m doing by explaining it to doubters like you. I may have trouble seeing its weaknesses but you don’t. Since it’s unfamiliar to you your brain is primed to reject it. If it’s important to you to tell me I am wrong then I’m just looking for a better argument from you – not agreement.

    But, I’m not here to convince anyone. I only offer it as a possible way to understand the causes of human behavior, especially conflict such as in the ME. RL has provided an important concept toward this end – the honor / shame paradigm. When I saw that I realized that someone was seeing the emotional underpinnings of behavior and was on the right track. Since then I have become more convinced that honor / shame is the most important behavior-producing force in the minds of many Arabs. Also from reading Salsman’s anthropology studies of Mediterranean and ME peoples. My hypothesis only offers a possible explanatory framework for how honor / shame (or other cultural emotional forces) are processed by brains to produce behavior.

    BTW – as I understand it, in psychology, theory has the same general meaning that hypothesis has in the physical sciences. I suspect that’s because everything that is supposedly known about how the brain works, above the level of neurobiology, is really just an hypothesis. Much of neurobiology is still in that category too. In any case, I certainly am not claiming that this hypothesis accurately describes how brains produce behavior. I am saying that it might provide a model that serves to better explain conflict between groups of humans than other views which are used.

    In psychology a theory is judged on its ability to predict and describe human behavior under certain conditions. Scientific proof for these theories is really not possible at present. And that isn’t usually the goal of those who work them out. It is to provide predictive models that work better than existing models. It’s an incremental process.

    If you have had a chance to get into Damasio’s “The Feeling of What Happens” you will notice that he makes many conjectures about what is going on in brains and testing the conjectures to see if they get him closer to describing causes of behavior. He’s not trying to prove anything. He’s trying to find a better model. That’s also my interest. Whatever value my hypothesis holds is in its explanatory / predictive ability – not in any scientific proof of it, which for hypotheses like this, is impossible.

  51. oao says:

    Just because a person uses a term differently does not make them wrong.

    the logical conclusion of this proposition is that there is no such thing as somebody being wrong. everything is right by sheer use of his own definitions. which is exactly what you claimed at one point. it is obvious that this implication is absurd and, therefore, something in its assumptions or derivation is wrong. however, this subject requires more than an online exchange.

    theories in social science are quite soft and flexible. unlike the natural science theories so are the concepts, the definitions, the assumptions and the derivations. their power of prediction is rather limited to rather trivial phenomena. i can easily provide a dozen of explanations for the same phenomena.
    on this we seem to agree.

    but that does not mean that one with a deep and broad background in social systems and behavior cannot make judgments on various hypotheses.

    i never said your hypothesis is wrong, because i don’t even know if i understand it and to me it seems rather imprecise otoh and overreaching otoh.

    my argument is with your notion that one cannot and should not dismiss arguments if they seem wrong.

  52. E.G. says:

    Ray #47

    Of course it’s on to sthg. Sorry about the unfortunate omission, thanks for correcting it.

    Disdain (or anything else) is what you read between the lines. Not necessarily what their author had in mind when writing them.

    then the loud and clear message is conveyed to all that you are stupid, uneducated and don’t have the ability to think clearly or rigorously.
    It isn’t clear to me at all. This is not the message I got.
    (yes, the chain/loop of invectives that you describe fits my limited experience/observation of fora)

    As far as staying on topic…
    This is the 1st time (I think) that I intervene with such a request. I share your opinion and in many ways your ideophilia. Following your argument about people’s motivation(s) to post, one can interpret my comment as presenting my virtual self as a generally disciplined person.
    But that – self presentation – was not what I was aiming at, nor was it on my mind. I think that attacking a subject from as many different angles as possible is a fine way to deal with it. But at some moment, the different approaches need to be re-centred back on the problem at hand. Maybe my request came too early? I probably didn’t state it clearly enough.

  53. Michelle Schatzman says:

    Just because a person uses a term differently does not make them wrong. (posted by Ray in Seattle)

    the logical conclusion of this proposition is that there is no such thing as somebody being wrong. everything is right by sheer use of his own definitions. which is exactly what you claimed at one point. it is obvious that this implication is absurd and, therefore, something in its assumptions or derivation is wrong. however, this subject requires more than an online exchange. (posted by oao)

    oao, what I am reading here in Ray’s argument is : suppose that there is a substance called “yaeen” by someone and “vin” by someone else. We can check whether these two people refer to the same substance or not by comparing their respective definitions. If they both say that they refer to the fermented juice of pressed ripe grapes, the difference in name is a pure matter of translation.

    Could you please explain how you can infer from Ray’s statement that “there is no such thing as someone being wrong”?

    What I understand is that you may have added, somewhere in the course of your internal reasoning a step of the kind “using different meanings for the same words implies that the meanings are always fitted in an appropriate way, and the instability of definition is the ground of monstruous intellectual sprouting”.

    Did you use this kind of step or an analogous one here?

  54. E.G. says:

    oao,

    but unlike you i don’t think everything is belief.
    Neither do I.
    But has Ray clearly stated that?

    i consider belief as a position for which evidence is not yet available, is impossible or is uncollected. which you hold on faith.

    I guess I’m more orthodox than you. A position based on a ratio of newly acquired evidence over prior evidence.(The veracity and relevance of the evidence is a related but different issue)

    i never said your hypothesis is wrong, because i don’t even know if i understand it and to me it seems rather imprecise otoh and overreaching otoh.

    Same for me. And I’ve already advanced the most plausible (for me) hypothesis: some boundaries acquired through training. A certain discipline.
    I’m aware it can get one narrow-minded. Well, you “broke” the politeness boundary, and Ray(#47) describes quite well the internal conflict of staying within – going beyond. You’ve made your respective choices and live with their consequences. Maybe you’re both better-off than me (still undecided, in many ways well “within”). Maybe one day I’ll get over my limitations and grasp the sense of Ray’s fuzzy set of hypotheses.

    Ray,
    1.It looks fuzzy now.
    2.I did my best self-inquiry and report in all honesty: no threat felt. IOW, it’s not a defensive un/conscious reaction to novelty.
    3. My best guess is that your original use of conventional terminology is a constant source of misunderstanding. Now, that is destabilizing. Because my understanding of your text is automatically “sent” to one sense, but then you tell me that you mean something different.

  55. Michelle Schatzman says:

    Back to the subject of islamization in Rotterdam and the rôle of religions.

    We have a problem with the word “belief”.

    As Ray pointed out, we all believe that two times two is four. If I were my most pedantical mathematician, I could tell you that this is, in fact, a theorem, which can be inferred from Peano’s axioms.

    I use the term “beliefs” in a rather philosophical acception. I consider as beliefs statements which cannot be proved. I could also have called them axioms, but I did not, since I would not like to draw the debate toward logics, since I am not competent either in philosohical or in mathematical logics.

    Ray uses the term “beliefs” in a psychological acception, very much related to the system of emotions.

    oao uses “beliefs” in an acception close to mine: [he] consider[s] belief as a position for which evidence is not yet available, is impossible or is uncollected. which you hold on faith.

    I guess that the penultimate full stop should have been a comma.

    My claim about beliefs is that, in order to live, we need statements for which evidence is unavailable and will be forever.

    A proof of this statement would be as follows : Consider the “it is forbidden to steal” law. Is this law an obviously natural law? OK, we know that in society that makes principles of equality of people before the law, due process, and freedom, the “do not steal” is a result of symmetry considerations: if I want my property to be protected in such a society, and if I want people to be equal before the law, then I must agree to prohibit stealing, and to have courts of law who will judge transgressors.

    Is equality before the law a natural phenomenon, or is it a philosophical construct?

    If there is a society where everyone steals from everyone, this society is very unstable, and will probably change fast or disappear. So forget this case. But there might as well be, and there has been societies, where one class of people could lawfully steal from another class of people. They lasted quite a few centuries : think of medieval ages.

    If you look at dictatorships such as Birmany, it is quite clear that the military elites who rule the place steal the revenue of oil and keep in utter misery the rest of the population. Birmany is extreme. Nevertheless, there has been a number of societies where the ruler and the dominant class would stesl from the rest of the population in the most established and stable way.

    One might object : Pharaoh did not steal, he lived from excessive taxes, it was not called stealing. If we were transported to the time of Ancient Egypt, but kept our 21st century mind, we would call the kingdom of Egypt a gigantic con operation, with multitudes of slaves building useless pyramids as tombs to their god-kings.

    We simply cannot keep our 21st century mind if we are transported back to Ancient Egypt.

    Ok, so we do not like the law “it’s forbidden to steal”, because it appears as a consequence of our three previous laws : equality of people before the law, due process and freedom.

    Now, how can we say that “equality before the law” is natural? Who is equal? Well, obviously people are all different, some are smart, some are dim, some are fast, some are slow, some are buddhists and some are not buddhists, some are Italian and some are not Italian, how can they be equal? What does equal mean? OK, it is not equal, it is equal before the law. But we do not have common laws, how can one speak of “the” law?

    This can go on and on, and I figure out that it does not stop. I am not a philosopher and cannot prove it philosophically, but maybe, someone here knows about these matters and will be able to find a source and references for this kind of statement.

    A metaphor for this argument comes from a story told by Carl Sagan, maybe in “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark”. A lady comes up to him, objecting to how he represented the universe, and she explains to him that he is wrong, and the earth is in fact sitting on a big turtle shell. So Carl Sagan asks, “and the big turtle shell, on what is it sitting?” “On another big turtle shell,” answers the lady. “And this other turtle shell?” asks Sagan. etc…

    I am just stating that we base our behavior and we construct our societies on a partially arbitrary set of principles, which cannot be deduced from evidence. These principles are chosen, not inferred. This is what I call beliefs.

  56. E.G. says:

    Michelle,

    I hope your health is better today.

    The trouble is beyond the significance of “belief”, and in only one language.

    I am just stating that we base our behavior and we construct our societies on a partially arbitrary set of principles, which cannot be deduced from evidence. These principles are chosen, not inferred. This is what I call beliefs.

    Call them anything you like. They’re commonly known as rules.
    One adheres to them, deviates from them, thinks they’re adapted to a specific case – or not, and behaves more or less accordingly. And they have a more or less normative status.
    Beliefs cannot be imposed. Rules can.

  57. Michelle Schatzman says:

    Hey, E.G. I agree only half with you!

    There are social rules, there are also the beliefs from which we can theorize their production.

    “stealing is forbidden” is a rule, which we try to impose ; “equality before law”, “due process” and “freedom” are closer to principles or beliefs. Individually, we may or we may not subscribe to these three principles. The social fact that “stealing is forbidden” can be imposed on a society depends essentially on the belief by the majority of the adult population in the above three principles.

    If they did not believe in the three principles, then individual interest and lust for power would fast turn the society into a self-serving jungle, which would evolve into the stabler kick ass/kiss ass societies.

    You know, E.G., you make me work! I am really out of my depth. I have no education in social sciences at college level. I am self-educated by reading, travelling and doing, but I certainly lack the background and the readings that any social sciences major would have had. Or in philosophy!

    Do not worry too much for my health. It’s been bad for five years, with highs and lows. When my head can work, my mid-section may agree to cooperate by letting itself be forgotten.

  58. Rich Rostrom says:

    Sophia: Interestingly the main east-west street is famous for its Indian, Pakistani, Assyrian, (former) Yugoslavian of all types, Orthodox Jewish, and Israeli populations, and the main cross street features many Asian neighborhoods, shops and restaurants, a Swedish enclave, Germans – Greeks – there is a large Latin American population too – African-Americans – everybody lives here.

    This sounds very much like the far north side of Chicago, where I live: Devon Avenue (a/k/a “Gandhi Marg”), Clark Street, Lincoln Avenue, etc. Jews, Indians, Pakistanis, ex-Yugoslavs, east Asians, blacks, and Latinos may be found together in several places, but Assyrians, Germans and Greeks (Lincoln Square), and a “Swedish enclave” (“Andersonville”?) are unusual.

  59. Ray in Seattle says:

    Thanks all for your interesting comments on this. I just want to add a couple of things. My purpose here is not to champion this hypothesis although I often find myself defending it. I’m happy to discuss it as long as others are interested. I developed this view as a result of reading about the psychology of behavior (mostly LeDoux and Damasio). I was reading them to help me understand why some human problems are so intractable – such as the ME conflict. Also I was saddened as over the years I slowly watched liberals and progressives becoming antisemitic. I wanted to know how such beliefs that violate almost all the evidence and history of the ME conflict can germinate and blossom in otherwise intelligent minds.

    My view, which is a possible explanation, is that adult human brains become organized around a expansive set of beliefs that provide emotive force to direct behavior. These are arranged in a hierarchy whereby a few very important beliefs are at the top and others below must support them.

    When selecting behavior, brains first go to this trusted belief hierarchy and in most cases will find an answer that worked in the past. If no direction is available (the problem is too novel) human brains will try to use intellect to come up with something. It may come up with a candidate (a temporary belief) that it may try to use if it has enough confidence in its guess (an emotion) and if there is not too great a danger for a wrong guess. (Did all those bears leave the cave?)

    The key to understanding this is that these belief forces operate non-consciously. It is the emotional force of beliefs that allow them to direct behavior. The logic or truth or elegance of a belief or the lack of those or how its owner describes a belief in words has no relevance to the behavior that a belief advocates when it is aroused by the context of events as they unfold. I define these very strong beliefs at the top of the hierarchy as identity beliefs because they actually determine “who you are” in a behavioral sense – what makes you different from persons with other beliefs at the top. Also, because one will defend those beliefs just as they defend their life. In any discussion about politics for example, you can see when someone’s identity beliefs have been threatened. They respond defensively with anger and insults.

    In the case of the ME conflict I propose that Arab children grow up learning a set of strong consistent Arab cultural beliefs that reside near their top of their hierarchy. These are beliefs that define strong honor / shame rewards and penalties within Muslim Arab culture.

    (Once more, when I say “they learn those beliefs”, I mean that they develop a reliable set of emotional forces that direct their behavior throughout their lives according to those beliefs. This has nothing to do with logical or philosophical belief.)

    I just read “Six Days of War” by Michael Oren. You can vividly see Arab leaders such as Egypt’s Nasser, Syria’s Hafez al-Assad or Jordan’s King Hussein making behavior choices during this crisis very much subject the forces of the honor /shame beliefs in their minds. Nasser’s decisions, which were singularly instrumental in causing the war, were exceptionally outlined by those beliefs.

    You can also make reasonable speculations about the decisions made by Moshe Dayan and Levi Eshkol and understand the kinds of top level beliefs in their belief hierarchies that caused them to make those choices. Actually Dayan’s choices seem more enigmatic compared to the other Jewish leaders at the time. I don’t know how his beliefs differed in the details but I am sure that’s where the answer lies as to the choices he made such as refusing to defend the Golan at all and then reversing and conquering the whole thing in the last 48 hours of the war. I’d now like to read his biography. Those decisions by all those actors still reverberate loudly throughout the ME and even in Europe and America.

    In any case, it is a tool and it helps me deconstruct people’s actions and opinions in a way that seems to make sense to me. It also offers some hints of solutions to conflict. Arab intransigence viv a vis Israel is certainly a result of this very characteristic Arab honor / shame belief paradigm that RL and others have identified. However, I see this as far more than something interesting to note about Arab society or something that allows us to say we are different and better than they are. I see it as the very reason that Arabs do what they do and think what they think and react to Jews and Westerners as they do.

    Unless those beliefs can be changed their individual and collective behavior has zero chance of changing. That’s unlikely since they were laid down via a rigid and consistent and repetitious set of rewards and punishments endemic to Arab society throughout the years they grew from early childhood to adults.

    Since changing such entrenched beliefs (emotional forces that direct behavior) is not really possible there is the chance that the West can provide alternatives that allow Arabs to conform to those behavioral drivers so that peace is the result. I would hope so. If not, I believe that either Israel or the Palestinians along with Hisb’allah and a few other Islamist dragons will have to be completely destroyed.

  60. oao says:

    But at some moment, the different approaches need to be re-centred back on the problem at hand. Maybe my request came too early? I probably didn’t state it clearly enough.

    if there are methodological problems regarding the problem at hand that cause problems, than discussing them is centered on the problem.

    I could tell you that this is, in fact, a theorem, which can be inferred from Peano’s axioms.

    it was my instinct to say that, but then we always reach axioms which must be believed to be true without evidence except the power of their usefulness.

    My claim about beliefs is that, in order to live, we need statements for which evidence is unavailable and will be forever.

    well, i think that this causes humans to come up with statements for which evidence will become available over time, but they don’t want it; or with statements for there is no evidence but they persuade themselves there is.

    for those of us who think that morals have a darwinian basis knowledge and ability to reason will minimize those phenomena. without that survival and progress are not possible and the evidence seems to support us.

    I am just stating that we base our behavior and we construct our societies on a partially arbitrary set of principles, which cannot be deduced from evidence. These principles are chosen, not inferred. This is what I call beliefs

    yes, but only in the short run. in the long run unless they are useful for survival and progress, they will doom us. we seem to have had some very useful ones since enlightenment but we became decadent and lost them and we are paying the price.

    I have no education in social sciences at college level. I am self-educated by reading, travelling and doing, but I certainly lack the background and the readings that any social sciences major would have had. Or in philosophy!

    doesn’t this validate my argument about education?
    and even those who get into these subjects, it’s limited, shallow and often wrong. they don’t get the methodology so that they can see the difference between natural and social science.

  61. oao says:

    oao, what I am reading here in Ray’s argument is : suppose that there is a substance called “yaeen” by someone and “vin” by someone else.

    if you read my comments carefully you will see that i referred to this as a problem in the social sciences relative to the natural sciences.

  62. oao says:

    i am offering the following as an example of the difference between the (rare) application of knowledge and reason vs. the lack thereof.

    can you tell either side?

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/05/donald_rumsfeld_threat_or_mena.html

  63. Michelle Schatzman says:

    #65 if you read my comments carefully you will see that i referred to this as a problem in the social sciences relative to the natural sciences.

    ?

    #66 i am offering the following as an example of the difference between the (rare) application of knowledge and reason vs. the lack thereof.

    ??

    OK, I will have to work harder to understand finnish.

  64. oao says:

    How Can Israel depend on those who have Proven Undependable?
    By Barry Rubin
    http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/2009/05/how-can-israel-depend-on-those-who-have.html

    somewhere in there there is validation for my argument.

  65. E.G. says:

    Michelle,

    The social fact that “stealing is forbidden” can be imposed on a society depends essentially on the belief by the majority of the adult population in the above three principles.

    How about compliance to the rule? Do we really believe that stealing is bad? Or do we (more or less) conform?
    Google Dan Ariely, you’re likely to find his site first (I’m sure you’ll enjoy) and a paper titled “Dishonesty in Everyday Life and Its Policy Implications” with Nina Mazar. Enjoy!

    #67 – No, plain English. It’s not the language, it’s the meaning assigned to terms. Conventions, you know.

  66. oao says:

    OK, I will have to work harder to understand finnish.

    since i don’t speak finnish, it looks like it seems finnish to you.

    working harder may or may not help.

  67. Michelle Schatzman says:

    E.G., oao, maybe it is not finnish, but japanese. Wikipedia says that in modern japanese, it is possible to make a sentence without a subject. You just know what is being talked about, so you don’t need a subject.

    I am fascinated by the japanese language, but I have only wikipedia knowledge :-)

  68. E.G. says:

    Michelle,

    Gambatte Kudasaï!

  69. Ray in Seattle says:

    oao says: somewhere in there there is validation for my argument.

    As I understand it your argument is that “education has collapsed” and therefore people no longer have the ability to think properly or critically about problems and come so they can not come to “correct” conclusions, or at least conclusions you would agree with and therefore Western civilization is doomed – or something to that effect.

    I hope you realize that I agree that far too many people are coming to conclusions about the ME conflict that I deem to be incorrect and dangerous for Western civilization and enlightenment values.

    I disagree with your theory that the cause of this is the “collapse of education” in the West which I see more as a symptom of an underlying problem that is common to today’s relatively poor quality education as well as a general shift toward indifference and in many cases antagonism toward traditional Western values.

    The essence of my disagreement regarding the “collapse of education” thesis is that I believe that the ability to come to objectively correct conclusions depends on the nature of one’s identity beliefs. For example, Michelle is obviously a somewhat educated and articulate person even though she gained much of it on her own. I propose that her mind harbors an identity belief that sees herself as an educated person. I will guess that she gained this belief from childhood experience whereby she had contact with and admired someone who also had those beliefs, perhaps her parents or others.

    Those beliefs, or rather the emotional force behind those beliefs, which she internalized caused her to make behavior choices in her life that resulted in her acquiring some higher level of education than she could have received otherwise through institutions of learning.

    This is Michelle’s belief driven result – a better education and a learned outlook.

    A corresponding experience for a Palestinian Arab child might perhaps result in her learning to make explosives and how to become a Shahid.

    In both cases it was the result of the forces of beliefs they acquired that caused their behavior to learn certain things – things that would satisfy their desire to fulfill a particular identity.

    That is what I think lies behind the large numbers of relatively uneducated people graduating from college. These people have what I would call an inadequate identity goal. They didn’t see themselves as having an identity as an educated person in the sense that you (and perhaps Michelle and I) did. They therefore did not make behavior choices to acquire that level of education. They instead made behavior choices in life to become a different kind of person – to seek an identity that does not incorporate being that kind of person.

    I propose that children are designed by evolution to acquire an identity, to populate their minds with a particular set of identity beliefs and the corresponding emotional drive to be that person. Once they can envision themselves as an adult having a certain identity it is very difficult to prevent them from getting it. They will exert incredible physical and mental energy to do it. The question is about what identity do they seek. What models are we providing as a society for them to emulate and what incentives do we offer them?

    I think the educational establishment fifty years ago still knew instinctively the importance of providing worthy role models for students to emulate and college hiring was focused in that direction. I think much of that has been lost as post modernist values have crept in and in some departments, permeated higher education.

  70. oao says:

    ray,

    you accuse me of not understanding you, but you don’t understand me either. the education i am talking about is not the education that is currently available. even i did not get that kind of education that i am referring to. and i know how badly i miss it.

    even ignoring that, it is hard for me to not consider the extension of identity beliefs to the ‘educated identity ad absurdum. not to mention this is neither a belief, nor emotional. by that everything is identity emotional beliefs by definition and therefore a tautology, hence my methodological reservations.

    and with that i am getting out of the subject.

  71. oao says:

    You just know what is being talked about, so you don’t need a subject.

    one of the drawbacks of online exchanges, which require typing. as a writer there is a limit to my expressive ability when i key in online exchanges. if we could talk, i would be much better and it would be easier.

    I am fascinated by the japanese language, but I have only wikipedia knowledge :-)

    perhaps you would enjoy learning it.

  72. Cynic says:

    Michelle,

    Now, how can we say that “equality before the law” is natural? Who is equal?

    I think one should rephrase that to be: “Before the law everybody is equal” to be judged.
    That’s why the lady holding the scales of Justice is blindfolded.

    Alibama seems to be abrogating this in favour of judges applying empathy.

    Ray,

    Arab children grow up learning a set of strong consistent Arab cultural beliefs that reside near their top of their hierarchy. These are beliefs that define strong honor / shame rewards and penalties within Muslim Arab culture.

    One needs to consider the tribal/clan part of this culture, and the family structure where marriage between cousins from the paternal side (two brother’s children) is more sought after than between cousins creating a paternal/maternal mix which from with respect to property is much weaker.
    This all adds to the piquancy of the honour/shame aspect.

  73. Cynic says:

    E.G.,

    WRT #30
    It has often made integrating newcomers hard

    Has Caldwell considered that this might have been the case earlier on that immigrants were agreeable to integration but that from a certain point on many were sent and have no intention of integrating?

    Part of the problem in the West is that they automagically assume that all those immigrants came for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.
    A belief system based on disinformation.

  74. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    Where hath thou been?
    At last someone refers to my Caldwell-ref!

    I’m not sure Caldwell considers the 2 modes of arrival(maybe he does in the book, but I haven’t yet reached such a statement). He certainly states that there’s no intention to integrate. And shows it.

    He draws an interesting comparison with Latino-American immigrants to the US.

  75. Ray in Seattle says:

    Cynic: One needs to consider the tribal/clan part of this culture, and the family structure where marriage between cousins from the paternal side (two brother’s children) is more sought after than between cousins creating a paternal/maternal mix which from with respect to property is much weaker.

    I’m not sure in what respect you are suggesting that one needs to consider it – but I’ll guess it has to do with my comment about growing up learning (internalizing) Arab cultural honor / shame beliefs. If so, I’d agree. I see these as part and parcel of the same thing and mutually reinforcing.

    Part of this is that upon marriage, the wife moves into the husband’s extended family orb. She enters as a low level person with little honor and is expected to go through a long period of humiliation at the hands of the older women in her husband’s family – who she must obey and who often delight in humiliating her. (What mother in any culture thinks a women is good enough for her son?) It could take years of such humiliation before she earns enough status to be considered a member of the family and gets to humiliate new young wives brought into the fold by marriage.

    The husband’s position is elevated within the family as he is bringing a wife to bear children (and work) and add more men (hopefully) to the family structure which becomes more powerful.

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s biography had some interesting insights about this from a female pov. Also, Salzman studied this extensively. Male family members (brothers, uncles, cousins) are the closest alliance one has in life. They are required by custom to assist and defend you if you ask, even at the risk of their life. If they decline they lose all honor and the ability to ask for assistance from the family in the future. They are cast adrift. In Arab society that means they become defenseless since the state provides little or no civil protections – and what they do provide must be done by bribing officials. You become a choice target for humiliation from anyone. From what I have read honor / shame is as much about humiliating the weak as it is about deferring to power. A male cast out like that might become a shahid as one of the only ways he could regain personal honor.

    I suspect that these traditional arrangements are still a powerful motivator in the more rural areas and small villages but in larger cities the code breaks down somewhat. The resurgence in Islamic values and practices is bringing it back to the cities I think but I have yet to see anyone write about this specifically. I’d like to know more about to what extent these forces operate currently say in Palestinian families in Gaza or the WB.

    It seems possible that Palestinians have responded to their position as the tip of the Arab spear aimed at Israel by seeing themselves (identity again) as part of a special Arab family and have assumed the role of having the greatest hate for Jews and the greatest willingness to martyr themselves to destroy them. Please let me know if you come up with something that deals with this.

  76. Ray in Seattle says:

    Along these lines:

    Bangladeshi single mother caned over paternity row

    1 day ago

    DHAKA (AFP) — A 22-year-old unmarried Bangladeshi woman who was caned 39 times for alleging a neighbour was the father of her son is fighting for her life in hospital, police said.

    The case has shocked the impoverished Muslim-majority nation, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ordering the woman to be shifted from her village home to the capital for proper medical treatment.

    Local police chief Moshiur Rahman told AFP that the woman, from Comilla, 70 kilometres (43 miles) east of the capital Dhaka, had angered Islamic clerics when she told friends that a neighbour had fathered her six-year-old son.

    They called her and the alleged father to appear before a makeshift Islamic court, but the man denied the paternity claim, Rahman said.

    “He held a Koran in one hand and swore to the village clerics that he was not the father of the boy. The village court found him not guilty,” he said.

    “They also issued a fatwa that the woman should be caned 39 times for lying.”

    The woman, seriously injured after the caning, was admitted to a local hospital but was later shifted to the country’s largest hospital in Dhaka on the orders of the Prime Minister, Rahman said.

    Two of the clerics have been arrested for repression of women, he said, and DNA testing had been arranged to determine the father of the child.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iJpwr6G0Cq5Y0Kti87BFDN3aGE3w

    ****************************

    Bengladesh is about 90% Islamic.

  77. oao says:

    A belief system based on disinformation.

    an interesting concept in the context of ray’s theory of beliefs and my theory of knowledge and reason, wouldn’t you say?

  78. E.G. says:

    Ray,

    The resurgence in Islamic values and practices is bringing it back to the cities I think but I have yet to see anyone write about this specifically. I’d like to know more about to what extent these forces operate currently say in Palestinian families in Gaza or the WB.

    It’s brought (not back!) to European cities and suburbs.
    A few months ago, a civil marriage was annulled by a French civil court, that considered the husband’s claim that the motive for annulling was that wife was not a virgin on the wedding night (hence breach of contract – the bride’s virginity was a sine qua non condition for the match/marriage) recievable.
    Only after this case was published in the Natl. press (and was even discussed at parliament) was the court’s decision revoked. I think it was settled under divorce terms (which the husband had initially refused, because a divorcee has a lower status than a bachelor in the islamic society, in France).

    Polygamy is not only present but also perversely encouraged, since each wife and her children are entitled to a whole array of state/region/ city welfare allowances, as well as other benefits (e.g., housing, healthcare) in GB, Belgium, France…

    There are more and more examples of Sharia laws being imposed on Europe and its native, Judeo-Christian population, having been absent (chased) from that continent in the past 500-1400 years (depends where).

  79. Eliyahu says:

    Michelle, in your #1, you write “Thou shalt not assassinate.” In English we usually say “murder”, not assassinate, which in English usually refers to a political killing. It is unfortunate that the traditional Christian translation is “thou shalt not kill.” This interpretation or understanding of the Hebrew word “tirtsahh” in the commandment does not ordinarily stop wars.

    By the way, in his book “Il complotto Ebraico,” Carlo Panella argues that the popes were influenced by their Muslim rivals/enemies. Before the Crusades, the popes began to promise indulgences to those who fought in the holy war [crusade]. This is somewhat like the Muslim promise that those who die in a holy war [jihad] will go to paradise and get their 72 virgins or boys or white raisins or whatever turns you on. Thus, in order to combat the Muslims, the Christian leadership [the popes] began to imitate that enemy.

  80. Michelle Schatzman says:

    Eliyahu : point taken on “assassinate” vs. “murder”. In french, “assassinat” means “murder with malice aforethought”. Now, does “lirtsoach” mean that exactly? Or just “murder with intent” (which would be “homicide volontaire in french law”).

    It is plain that this commandment does not stop wars. But I would appreciate if you’d give me a reference to the jewish why.

  81. Michelle Schatzman says:

    correction : not “murder with malice aforethought”, but “premeditated murder”.

  82. oao says:

    This is somewhat like the Muslim promise that those who die in a holy war [jihad] will go to paradise and get their 72 virgins or boys or white raisins or whatever turns you on.

    methinks that was a rather a mundane need (and greed) for funds, which, in a religious context, is much worse than the muslim practice.

  83. E.G. says:

    Michelle,

    Eliyahu says that even when (wrongly) interpreted as “kill” the commandment doesn’t stop wars.

    As far as I understand it, assassination is an instance of the larger category “murder”. They’re both forbidden by Hebrew law. But killing in self-defence is definitely authorised.
    When this, basically civil law is extended to laws of war, there are refinements and specifications (e.g., armed/unarmed, civilian/combatant distinctions) to the general commandment.
    I think the basic idea is “kill if and only if you have no other choice to preserve your own life”.

    Babylonian Talmud, tractate Brachot 62b:
    Rabbi Elazar said, David told Sha’ul: From the Torah – you have the status of one who should be killed, for you are a Rodef [a person attempting to murder] and the Torah said: “He that comes to kill you, rise up earlier to kill him”.

    (The episode the above relates to – I Samuel chapter 24 – is instructive)

  84. Cynic says:

    E.G.,

    Where hath thou been?

    Unfortunately indisposed for various reasons, and when making it to the site, finding it at times difficult to focus and understand some of the rather esoteric discussions here sufficiently to ease my conscience with regard to the increased emission of CO2 needed for a reasonable comment.
    Also the topics up for discussion seem to direct one to the realms of study I never entered. So I have to admit a certain reduction of honour and increased shame that I have nothing substantial to offer apart from personal observation and a belief that my logic is rational. :-)

    Ray,

    I’m not sure in what respect you are suggesting that one needs to consider it – but I’ll guess it has to do with my comment about growing up learning (internalizing) Arab cultural honor / shame beliefs.

    As part of the causes of the honour/shame culture.
    From what I can gather, not professionally, the tribal/clan system has evolved over the eons from security needs and anything which detracts from it, no matter how imagined is a threat.

    From what I have read honor / shame is as much about humiliating the weak as it is about deferring to power. A male cast out like that might become a shahid as one of the only ways he could regain personal honor.

    From what I have observed there is a constant war of nerves to impose a slight on the other thus increasing one’s imagined security against the other’s increased shame and so improving one’s imagined strength and thus security (belief?).
    I may have mentioned this some time ago on some post here about the driver of a car who was unable to pass another car, which had left a few seconds earlier, on the narrow road to the highway. For some neuronic and synaptic reason he took this as an affront and instead of turning left onto the highway to go to work he turned right and chased the other car many miles out of his way and managed to pass it on a winding dangerous incline.
    I got to know of this because the driver lost some pay for arriving rather late at work, and the discussions afterwards of how his family celebrated his feat of honour that night.
    The other driver suffered the shame not from friendly mocking but having his car dirtied and being taunted in the street to the extent where the only opening left to him to stop it all was to resort to violence as he could not just move to another village and another clan.

  85. E.G. says:

    Shame on you, Honourable Cynic!

    How can an honest-to-Bayes commentator rely on anything but thy ex-machina intervention to get the esoteric flow back to Mother-Earth with His Scrupulousness having a sudden(?) modesty attack?

    Beware, Cynic of Bedouinia, next time I’ll post early on at least one of those definitions we know your so fond of.

  86. oao says:

    So I have to admit a certain reduction of honour and increased shame that I have nothing substantial to offer apart from personal observation and a belief that my logic is rational. :-)

    you noticed that too, huh?. cynical minds seem to be thinking alike: logically :).

  87. Ray in Seattle says:

    Cynic said From what I have observed there is a constant war of nerves to impose a slight on the other thus increasing one’s imagined security against the other’s increased shame and so improving one’s imagined strength and thus security (belief?).

    Thanks for the first hand account. I am very interested to hear any such accounts of life in the ME from those who actually experience it, like you. This helps me factor out the BS from what I sometimes read and the reality.

    Right now I’m into a very interesting book on this topic which, so far, seems quite accurate, meshing with what I’ve read from other reputable authors like Bernard Lewis. It is “The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs” by David Pryce-Jones. It was originally published in 1989 but he’s just released this 2009 edition.

    I just started it but the whole of Chapter 2, which is as far as I am, is on “Honor and Shame”.

  88. oao says:

    pryce-jones is good. i have not read his books, but all his comments that i read is quite accurate and perceptive.

    lewis, otoh, is uneven.

  89. Ray in Seattle says:

    oao: pryce-jones is good. i have not read his books, but all his comments that i read is quite accurate and perceptive. lewis, otoh, is uneven.

    I only read a couple of Lewis’ essays and thought they were well done. What do you see as his weakness?

  90. oao says:

    What do you see as his weakness?

    the turks, for one. he’s way too close to them and has a blind spot.

  91. Joanne says:

    Just two small points:

    1. I think that the term “Eurabia” may have been coined in the 1970s. I read (I’m sorry, I don’t remember where) that there was an academic journal in France with that exact name, and the journal was devoted to the cultivation of the closest ties possible between Western Europe and the Arab world. So “Eurabia” in that instance was meant in a positive light, though many even then would not have regarded it so positively. It may be the new derogatory meaning that Ye’or originated.

    2. Is the Biblical command “thou shalt not kill” or “though shalt not murder”? I heard that it may actually have been the latter, since killing was presumably allowed in battle; also, I imagine, in self-defense.

  92. E.G. says:

    Joanne,

    It’s “though shalt not murder” in the Hebrew text.
    see #87 for a bit more (if you wish).

    Come to think of it, even killing animals is codified in Jewish law.

  93. [...] So what if, by 2020, Rotterdam is a majority Muslim? We already have an answer. Augean Stables – PeopleRank: 6 – May 22, 2009 In October of 2004, David Pryce-Jones, whose book on Arab honor-shame culture, The Closed Circle was to be a major player in my new course, “Honor-Shame Cultures, Middle Ages, Middle East,” came to BU to speak. Commentary published a formal draft… Cited people : Geert Wilders  Oriana Fallaci  Sandro Magister  [...]

  94. [...] I think I’ll just introduce it with an anecdote: In 2004, David Pryce-Jones spoke at BU. He recalled an interview he had with a Dutch reporter from Rotterdam. “Rotterdam,” Pryce-Jones commented, “by 2020 that city may be a [...]

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