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Sunday, May 04, 2008

The European/Muslim Discussion

I am sorry I didn't get back to this over the weekend. The problem is that I am in a course of therapy, and last week I shifted from the mind-boggling pain stage to the exercise-until-you-puke stage. There is no way out but forward, so that's what I did. The problem is that it takes hours to get to the puking point, because I am not allowed to exercise to the point of being short of oxygen, so it's pretty much taking all my time.

SW followed up his original post with this one. However I believe you should start with SC&A's post about the controversy the original Gates of Venice post spawned, and the resulting exclusion of GOV from other blogs. There will be a second SC&A post on the subject on Monday, so check for that one as well. As SC&A notes, many Americans don't understand the restrictions on free debate in most of Europe.

My only quibble with his post is that he might have gone further. It is the tolerance culture which is preventing the societies of Europe from effectively confronting the dysfunction in their midst. The effects are very widespread. For example, most of Europe has adopted the therapeutic ideal of dealing with criminals, in which criminality is considered to be a symptom of societal dysfunction rather than an individual choice. The results are, as I tried to address in my original post on the topic, fueling the worst breed of criminals. For example, an anger/impulse management program offered to British criminals had to be curtailed after follow-up studies showed that many of the graduates left on early release to be more functional and efficient criminals. In short, anger and impulsiveness was not the root cause of their criminality - these characteristics only made them incompetent criminals. A callousness toward other human beings was the root cause, and had not been addressed by the program. The only way to deal with a human being governed purely by self-interest is to make it very, very unattractive to be a criminal. Failing to do so is not a violation of the criminal's human rights - it is a violation of the human rights of the functional citizens who are the criminal's prey.

Ignoring the moral lack in many criminals does not give society an advantage in dealing with them!

Thus, the belief of citizens in Europe that Muslims cannot function within European society emerges from their environment, and the belief that the only option is to get the Muslims out of Europe follows logically from their environment. Several of the commenters on my original post pointed out precisely that fact, such as this by Anonymous:
In the UK, a feminist play based on a true event, the rape of a Sikh woman at a Sikh temple by a Sikh man aroused anger within the "Sikh community. The play was writen by a Sikh woman. The "Sikh community" began to riot and prevent the play from being performed. The Chief Constable requested that the theatre cease performing the play, because he could not prevent a breakdown in public order. The "Sikh community" therefore, by actual and not merely threatened violence, successfully abolished the right of freedom of expression in the UK. The alleged right to freedom of speach is now subject to the approval of violent "minority communities". Hayek said that freedom is seldom surrendered suddenly, but is gradually eroded. The coal -miner's strike of the early 1980's was very polarised, but Margaret Thatcher authorised thousands of police to uphold the "rule of law" at the picket lines. The only reason that the "Sikh community" was successful in its use of violence and intimidation to remove a traditional British right, is that the British leadership has lost the will to defend liberty in the UK. The refusal of the UK government to allow publication of the Danish cartoons was a similar example of appeasement. The existing race relations act renders illegal, any material likely to incite racial hatred. On this basis, the q'ran should be evaluated and its possession or publication be evaluated in the same manner as any other written work.
And this Anon has an excellent point. The laws are not applied as they are written. The laws are used for the purpose of appeasing angry groups - the angrier a group, the more likely it is that individual rights will be set aside to appease that group. Of course in this case it was a non-Muslim group. Heck, in some of the Scandinavian countries there was literally a woman's rights movement agitating for the removal the urinals from men's rooms on the theory that it just wasn't fair that men didn't have to sit down to pee. It should surprise no one that such an environment would provide a cradle for the worst sort of everything.

SC&A may go on in his next post to point out that by censoring Gates of Vienna, the other bloggers are just reproducing the European error which is producing much of the Muslim problem. Europeans are not allowed to point out the obvious - that they have groups within their midst who do not share the fundamental ethos of Europe. They are mostly not allowed to point out the crime arising from some Muslim communities. In such an environment, a radical solution appears to be the only correct solution. This is what censorship produces - an environment in which no moderate solutions are to be found.

In fact, there have been several incidents in the UK when politically correct establishments attempted to ban things like Christmas decorations, and Muslim groups protested. The PC crowd is extreme indeed.

The very last thing Americans should be doing is to emulate the procedures that have gotten Europe into this fix. The US works because even though we are a remarkable ethnic and religious hodge-podge, a relatively open dialogue exists and laws are generally equally applied. It is the openness of the dialogue which allows the moderations of true democracy to evolve. The Wiccan has a stake in defending the freedom of the Catholic, the Catholic has a stake in defending the freedom of the Baptist, and the Baptist (while often believing that the Catholics are not even Christian and are going to hell) defends the freedom of the the Catholics out of self-interest. Over time, the majority of the people have absorbed the idea that the laws under which you want other people to live are the laws under which you yourself will have to live. Provided that one has the freedom to go one's own way, it makes nothing but sense to defend the freedom of others to go their ways.

So while I agree utterly with Shrinkwrapped's observation:
...discussions of genocide have the effect of alienating potential allies, both within the West and within Islam. It does us no good for the MSM to label the anti-Jihadis as extremists, an appellation likely to stick if they can use our own words as examples against us. Further, it does us no good to hand our enemies a weapon which they can use to increase their reasonable sounding grievances (after all, if you are threatened with genocide, even if meant as a cautionary tale, such threats will do more to enhance Islamic solidarity with the extremists than to fight it.) A war that involves killing ands marginalizing that small fraction of the Islamic world ready, willing, and able to actively take up arms against us is a much easier war to win than one that involves an ever escalating portion of the Umma convinced we have genocidal aims against Islam.
I also agree with SC&A and SW that it is foolhardy to attempt to bar the discussion itself. We all have the freedom to dissent from the conclusion, and the appropriate thing to do is air that dissent.

There were many excellent comments on my original post. I will try to address them individually with the detail and respect which they deserve.

My belief is that Europe will kill itself if it succumbs to the idea that it must ban those who belong by name to a certain religion. Modern Europe's humanist genesis was in the Enlightenment concept of respect for the individual, which is of course fully consonant with Judeo-Christian beliefs. Step away from that so thoroughly, and Europe will regress to tribalism quite rapidly.

And Europe would have to step away from that principle if it were to somehow attempt to remove Muslims based not on individual criminal or treasonous behavior, but based on an individual repeating a few words. Because that is the definition of a Muslim. A Muslim is a person who repeats the profession of faith before witnesses - no more and no less. PLEASE READ THE LINK.

Nor is Islam in practice one religion - there are huge differences in schools of teaching. Muslims are quite correct when they state that the radicals committing most of the violence are un-Islamic. The problem is not that these radicals do not follow the Koran. They follow only a few select bits of it which they twist to their own ends, and they ignore the rest. Many of them are very ignorant people, and many of them are being paid to fight. Just as the ratings firms had a vested interest in declaring securities built from questionable mortgages to be investment grade, those who are paid to fight will generally find a way to justify it.

As an example, Muslims are shooting each other down in Palestine right and left, even though it is one of the cardinal sins to kill another Muslim. That is the reason why those reporters who were abducted in Palestine a while back ended up becoming Muslim - it constituted life insurance. Nonetheless, the factional murders between Fatah and Hamas continue, and in at least one case, an imam who preached against it was shot in the street the following week.

Believe me, when the imams are being shot for quoting the Koran, you are rapidly going to get imams promulgating different ideas on violence. All extreme movements kill themselves in the end.

Are there humanistic strains of Islam? Yes there are. I will expand on this more later, but for now, I suggest that doubters read this (pdf) sermon given in Germany in a mosque. Although this is from the Lahore school, it is relatively typical of Muslim teaching that is not of the fanatic variety. Note the limitation to war in self-defense, the prohibition against compulsion in religion, the recommendation supported by a quote from the Koran to live in kindness and peace with non-Muslims who are willing to live in kindness and peace with Muslims, and the limitation of fighting against even pagans to those who have first attacked Muslims. All of these are supported by Koranic text.

It is not translated into English in the above link, but indeed the Koran does say that monotheists who do the right thing (even if they are not Muslims) have nothing to fear from God and will receive the reward of their actions in the hereafter. There are many parts of the Koran which are remarkably open toward other religions. The German quote on page 12 is Surah 2:62:
Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.
The Koran also claims that God sent prophets to every nation speaking the truth. The closing German quote from the Koran in this sermon is Surah 22:40 (in context):
[22.40] Those who have been expelled from their homes without a just cause except that they say: Our Lord is Allah. And had there not been Allah's repelling some people by others, certainly there would have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques in which Allah's name is much remembered; and surely Allah will help him who helps His cause; most surely Allah is Strong, Mighty.
[22.41] Those who, should We establish them in the land, will keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate and enjoin good and forbid evil; and Allah's is the end of affairs.
[22.42] And if they reject you, then already before you did the people of Nuh and Ad and Samood reject (prophets).
[22.43] And the people of Ibrahim and the people of Lut,
Note the idea that Allah (God) uses some of his believers to defend the others, even if they are not Muslims. This sequence continues on to:
[22.67] To every nation We appointed acts of devotion which they observe, therefore they should not dispute with you about the matter and call to your Lord; most surely you are on a right way.
[22.68] And if they contend with you, say: Allah best knows what you do.
[22.69] Allah will judge between you on the day of resurrection respecting that in which you differ.
It is easy to create a school of tolerant, humanistic Islamic teaching from the Koran. The recommendation to leave the final judgment to Allah recurs in multiple contexts. Allah is conceived to be the universal one God who mandates certain behaviors to all mankind. Islam is an Abrahamic religion and the defining characteristic of Abrahamic religion is that there is one God and one Law for all mankind, and that failure to follow the Law will create its own punishment.

Many of the surahs dictating tolerance, justice, respect and kindness toward non-Muslims appear to have originated from the period when the first Muslims were living in a multi-cultural society in which they had taken refuge from persecution in their homeland. Therefore it is not surprising that imams should quote these verses as patterns for correct behavior in a modern multi-cultural society which allows Muslims to be Muslim. It is not a corruption of the "real" Islam. It is the real Islam.

The other fundamental texts of Islam are the Hadith, which are collections of stories about the way Muhammed and his first followers applied the Koran. There are several versions of the Hadith and multiple schools of interpretation of those texts.

Given the above, I repeat SW's admonition:
...it does us no good to hand our enemies a weapon which they can use to increase their reasonable sounding grievances (after all, if you are threatened with genocide, even if meant as a cautionary tale, such threats will do more to enhance Islamic solidarity with the extremists than to fight it.)
It does indeed hand radicals the weapon by which they can Koranically justify waging war in Europe. But it is also a betrayal of the founding principles of European society. To deny a citizen the right to live in your society when he or she is no enemy to it out of suspicion returns Europe to its pre-Enlightenment state. A shariah of tolerance Nazis is not a particularly entrancing vision of a European future.

Comments:
You touch upon the problem with the above lines, and yet you fail to mention the problem completely.

The above verses are ... invalid. Why ? Well you say the reason for that, but you stop halfway (presumably to not defeat your own point yourself ?).

Many of the surahs dictating tolerance, justice, respect and kindness toward non-Muslims appear to have originated from the period when the first Muslims were living in a multi-cultural society in which they had taken refuge from persecution in their homeland...

And then you stop. One wonders why. It seems to me unlikely in the extreme that you read islamic history up to this point, and then stopped dead in your tracks. Somehow that doesn't seem very typical of you.

So let me complete this portion of islamic history for you ...

And then what happened ? Well simple : once their need for tolerance in medinah (the "multicultural" society you speak of) was not necessary anymore they ...

... massacred all non-muslims ...

-> they did not obey peace treaties (in fact they knowingly violated them)
-> they did not spare children
-> they kidnapped and raped women
-> they commited dozens of religious massacres under direct guidance of their "prophet", under direct orders of their "god"

All under guidance from the prophet. They thoroughly and utterly destroyed this multicultural society they lived in, and their tolerance turned out, for the citizens of medinah, to be a fatal mistake.

Please explain why muslims, as soon as they get the chance, won't switch to "part 2" of their "tolerance" ...
 
Tomcpp - no, those verses are not invalid. It is one of the fundamentals of Islam that nothing in the Koran can ever become invalid.

In an Islamic society, the rules are different. However the rules do dictate non-compulsion in religion. They also dictate that minorities pay special taxes, but that's another matter.

As for what various Muslims have done and now do, the question is whether it is dictated by their religion. Everyone knows of societal atrocities committed by the adherents of other faiths.

Do I want to live in a Muslim-dominated society? No. For one thing, it's not my religion. For another thing, I do not want to live in any theocracy, because they do not work well.

The question I was addressing here is just whether there is any support for the idea that a faithful Muslim could be a loyal and functional citizen of a western country. There is.

Now this does not surprise me, because indeed I have known quite a few Muslims who were both religious and very comfortable living in a secular country.

You might consider the question of Turkey, which is a Muslim nation with a relatively secular expression.

If you say you don't want a big Muslim minority in Europe, then one crucial necessity would be for Europeans to start having children. If you don't, it's just a question of who will be the people who supplant you, not whether you will be supplanted.
 
"You might consider the question of Turkey, which is a Muslim nation with a relatively secular expression."

Yes, for now. I believe you read recent history and keep up with current events well enough to see the trend there (from strongly secular to religiously-motivated government), and project the likely outcome not so long from now.
 
Frank, I am not sure that IS the likely trajectory for Turkey. I noted that the religious party swept the last election (on prosperity). The first major initiative - privatizing utilities.

A little bit of Frank Lloyd Wright might be in the mix here. Muslims do not desire to live in poor and violent societies.
 
"Frank, I am not sure that IS the likely trajectory for Turkey."

Ah well, then, let's agree to wait and see together. I enjoy reading and thinking through your analyses enough that as long as you write 'em, I'll be reading them!

And as a wise woman (well, OK, attractive-in-a-tomboyish-way woman) sang, "the future's not ours to see".

For the record, I hope that you are right and I am wrong since a Turkey that does not head down further toward theocracy could offer hope for coexistance between West and Islam. Sadly, however, I think that in Turkey, deep-seated religious imperatives (and voices) will win out over a thin layer of secularism imposed and long-maintained by military force.

Anyway, we'll see.
 
Tomcpp - no, those verses are not invalid. It is one of the fundamentals of Islam that nothing in the Koran can ever become invalid.

You think like a western philosopher based in positivism. That works for the bible, it does not work for the quran.

Let's take a closer look at some relevant verses of the quran :

"No change can there be in the Words of Allah (Sura 10:64)
"There is none that can alter the Words of Allah (Sura 6:34)
"When We substitute one revelation for another, - and Allah knows best what He reveals, - they say 'Thou art a forger: But most of them understand not. Say, the Holy Spirit has brought the revelation from thy Lord in truth."
"None of our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar--Knowest thou not that Allah hath power over all things?....Would you question your Apostle as Moses was questioned of old?" (Suras 16:101 and 2:106,108).

It is not ONE of these that is true, ALL are true, despite being directly contradictory.

However all schools of islam, including btw, sufism and ahmadi (in fact they're even more dependant on it than mainstream islam) depend on the concept of abrogation.

All medina verses are abrogated by more recent verses. And even the mecca version of the punishment for adultery is abrogated - by a hadith no less.

There isn't a SINGLE imam that doesn't accept these abrogations. Without these abrogations muslims would pray 3 times per week (because that's what the quran specifies, and theere would only be 2 pillars of islam (even the shahadah is based on abrogation btw).

All schools of islam accept both these abrogations (know any muslims that pray 3 times a week ?), and that the medinah peaceful verses have only applicability if muslims are in a weak position.

Nice try though. I hope you will answer the questions in my original post now.

And let me make a second argument. Even if you don't accept the above statements (even though every muslim does), you'd still have to admit muslims must ALSO listen to the verses I've quoted. They cannot be ignored. Muslims must always fight (2:213), and fight to kill (9:111). Ignoring these direct commands is ignoring islam. It's that simple. The fight can be in the form of "peacefully" multiplying to become stronger (a "hudna"), but it has to be a fight, always.

Unless you want to claim muslims are free to ignore parts of the quran.

But you want to believe muslims are inherently peaceful, so you won't accept either of these arguments. You're also right - the PEOPLE muslims are inherently peacefull (or so should any christian believe), islam, however, is not, nor is anyone under the influence of islam.
 
Tom, I don't believe that any humans are "inherently peaceful". I think we are driven by our cultures to adopt non-natural behaviors and that the mechanism is social pressure.

As for comment on abrogation, that is not the normal understanding. I have read a bunch of Arab columnists discussing this stuff - even Saudis tend to be more liberal than you assert here. The usual way of putting it is that one commandment is for one circumstance and one for another.

Finally, I have known quite a few Muslims who were religious, and this was their understanding.

It is absolutely true that there are extremely strident schools of Muslim teaching which you are accurately describing.

Remember, the question I was addressing in this post was "Are there humanistic strains of Islam"? There are. That is obviously a relevant question to the rights of Muslim citizens in the west. If to be a Muslim is ipso facto to be a criminal, then the criminality can be addressed by law. If it's not, then the west must retreat from its modern birth principles to accomplish what you seek.

Do you believe that will work? Do you believe that there would in effect BE a Europe if that Europe decided to throw out all Muslims?

It's surely a germane question.

Maybe you postulate that Europe MUST become a Muslim society if any Muslims are permitted to remain. You will have to justify that contention if that is the real basis of your argument.
 
Mama, I am sorry that you are not doing well at the moment. I hope you will be feeling better very soon!

This topic remains extremely interesting and I find the comments always very thought provoking.
 
As for comment on abrogation, that is not the normal understanding. I have read a bunch of Arab columnists discussing this stuff - even Saudis tend to be more liberal than you assert here. The usual way of putting it is that one commandment is for one circumstance and one for another.

Exactly. That's the way they think. That's how you should arrive at the conclusion medina (peaceful) verses are for when the muslims are weak and/or persecuted.

Mecca verses (demanding unceasing religious genocide, theft, rape, ...) verses are for when the muslims are strong (e.g. in the majority, or have the guns, like in Sudan, or ...)

If you assume this, that they will behave "nice" when under direct threat of massive retaliation, and attack whenever they can overpower anyone (even a single individual), then you will find that this modus operandi fits the events of our world VERY well.
 
This is the second question that I think should be answered :

Do you believe that will work? Do you believe that there would in effect BE a Europe if that Europe decided to throw out all Muslims?

I fully realise that Europe's problems are ideological problems, and muslims are neither the cause, nor the cure. There isn't any strong ideology here. That's the real problem, and America seems (currently) to largely escape that. Muslims are no threat to a largely believing Christian society, but they will infiltrate and obliterate any atheist society very quickly.

And to answer your question : any action (including, or perhaps especially "lessening" the welfare state will cause massive violence) of ours will lead to large amounts of violence. This won't stop until the numbers of muslims goes down. Therefore is forcibly removing them so much worse than just waiting for disaster to strike ?

I *want* to believe that action is better than inaction.

I think that if atheist Europe, the one that currently exists, is to be saved, it will take a war to do that, a war that nobody wants to fight that war.

I don't know if the outcome will be a thoroughly islamized europe, it might just as well be a thoroughly christianized Europe. But atheist Europe *will* die in the next 30 years, unless Europeans decide to defend it, and I see very little signs of that happening. Certainly in Italy and Spain I see the church, not the muslims, gaining power.

The big question is, what will happen once the welfare state starts to falter ?
 
But Tom, if Muslims aren't the source of the problem, removing the Muslims won't solve the problem. It would serve to mask the problem, but it might, and I suspect would, doom Europe. It would be the final break with Europe's underlying ideology. After that the whole thing would break under its own weight. The next step would be the Polish influx - OUT! Toss the Sikhs! These things never occur in a point fashion, because if society becomes willing to condemn those who are innocent, society adopts a mob ideology.

In other words, it would be akin to a person taking large doses of drugs to dampen an exceedingly bad stomach ache when in fact the pain is a symptom of appendicitis, and the appropriate treatment is surgery. I do not like the odds. Almost no one survives acute appendicitis without an operation.

Let me think a bit about this. I fear that too many Europeans see the problem, but want to opt for a solution which will be self-destructive.

I don't believe that changing parts of your welfare state will cause violence. It has not here. It has improved the lives of the people. Mind you, we have some people who are ill or very mentally dull who get lifetime welfare, but there's nothing wrong with that. But most people just get a few years of help, job training, etc, and then get integrated into society. And over time, they are much more prosperous than they would be without it.

Also, one of the things many communities have done is to try to split up public housing so that recipients are scattered in communities that have better economies. This increases their chances of getting jobs and is a much better outcome for the children.

There have been suicidal, nutcase sects of Christianity in the past. I believe there have been some similar groups of Jews, and certainly we see that in the Old Testament. Granted, the suicidal, nutcase versions of Islam are incredibly widespread - but that is because of societal problems.

It's not whether Europe adopts an ideology - all societies form their own ideologies. It's whether Europe adopts and sticks with a GOOD ideology.
 
It's not whether Europe adopts an ideology - all societies form their own ideologies. It's whether Europe adopts and sticks with a GOOD ideology.

First I don't agree with your stance that islam isn't necessarily bad. The prophet was himself an evil bastard, no good can come of following him. A bad tree does not carry good fruits - ever. It has to be cut down.

At the very least kicking out this problem would provide Europe with time to get itself sorted out - time it doesn't have right now.

I agree that if some external force came in and did it for us (like in WWII), that would push Europe over the edge. Europeans doing it themselves would not do so.

About your remarks on the consequences of lowering the welfare state - I live here. My father helped build these things. Besides, lessening it even a little bit would literally cause a famine in Brussels, and therefore it would start war. I'd invite you to come down and take a little tour of the city, and trust me you would have little doubt left that this would be the consequence. You cannot stop a welfare system once it gains critical mass. Currently the state is the only income of about 40% of Belgians.

You cannot cut that income without massive reactions.
 
it would be akin to a person taking large doses of drugs to dampen an exceedingly bad stomach ache when in fact the pain is a symptom of appendicitis, and the appropriate treatment is surgery. I do not like the odds. Almost no one survives acute appendicitis without an operation.

Actually, this analogy fits Islam rather well, if one compares appendicitis with Islam. Obviously, sane people will suggest an operation as the only sensible way to deal with appendicitis, whereas, if we compare the way people deal with Islam and apply this to appendicitis, most people today will claim that appendicitis is mostly benign, and that only the rare condition of "radical appendicitis" is the problem. Of course, in reality there is no "radical appendicitis" as distinct from appendicitis itself, and the people contributing to this confusion by spreading such falsehoods cause situations where a patient with appendicitis will not get correct treatment, with the patient's condition worsening to the point where he is most likely die. This situation can be prevented if the actual facts about appendicitis are taken into account, and not simply denied, and one could argue that those who contribute to the confusion about the actual danger of appendicitis in such cases are responsible for the death of such patients.
 
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