14 June 2016

Take it from a Muslim ....

Earlier today the President was griping about some people's insistence that acts of terrorism like the Orlando massacre be attributed to "radical Islam." He mocked the idea that giving the enemy a particular name would help defeat them, and he seemed to resent more than usual the implication of Donald Trump that he was soft on Islam. "There’s no magic to the phrase, 'radical Islam.': he said, "It’s a political talking point; it’s not a strategy." The Washington Post helpfully explains that "the president has refused to use ["radical Islam'] because he believes it unfairly implicates an entire religious group for the acts of militant extremists. If that's his reason it's pretty silly. He seems to assume that no one appreciates the presence of a modifier in the epithet. His assumption seems to be that if you say "radical Islam," dumb Americans will instantly assume that all Muslims are radicals. On this occasion it looks like the President, not his critics, is playing word games, and it's just such games that frustrate Maajid Nawaz, a British Muslim who renounced extremism and for his trouble has been accused of being a "native informant" and neocon toady. He posted an op-ed at the Daily Beast today lambasting American liberals for refusing to talk about Islam when talking about terrorism."The killer of Orlando was a homophobic Muslim extremist, inspired by an ideological take on my own religion, Islam." Nawaz writes. Reminding readers that jihadists have still killed more Muslims than non-Muslims worldwide, he lashes out at "Liberals who claim that this has nothing to do with Islam" when "The problem so obviously has something to do with Islam. That something is Islamism, or the desire to impose any version of Islam over any society. Jihadism is the attempt to do so by force....It is a theocratic ideology, and theocracy should no longer have any place in the world today." To deny that Islamism has anything to do with Islam -- to argue that Islamism is motivated entirely be secular phenomena and thus can be dealt with without talking about Islam -- is a betrayal, so Nawaz claims, of the multitudes of Muslims that are fighting Islamists with words and/or weapons. Worse still, from his perspective, liberal refusal to engage critically with Islam in order to show how it doesn't have to be theocratic surrenders the rhetorical field to those Islamophobes who assume (on a fundamentalist reading of the Qur'an) that Islam is irredeemably theocratic. In short, if liberals won't talk about radical Islam or Islam itself, only Donald Trump will.

So what's the matter with liberals? Trump may have his vague suspicions about the President, but in most cases he'd attribute this reticence to "political correctness." That's often understood as an unwillingness to offend -- or an obsession with being offended -- but the sort of liberals who flinch at "radical Islam" probably are less worried about American Muslims getting offended than about worse happening to them. In any case, they're individualists on this front (if not on the economic front) and above all don't want many to suffer for the crimes and plots of a few. The easiest way to prevent that is to dissociate whatever jihadists are up to from whatever the essence of Islam is. The problem with that approach is that the jihadis themselves have a very clear idea of what the essence of Islam is, and that idea inspires whatever they're up to. Therefore you can't seriously argue that terrorism committed by Muslims has nothing to do with Islam unless you define Islam and do so in a way that shows the Islamists are wrong. Liberals probably would define Islam according to the "five pillars" they learned in school while rejecting the takfiri claim that jihad is a sixth pillar, equal in importance to the others. I suspect that liberals are less interested in such a project than in defending innocent Muslims against an Islamophobia that itself probably has little to do with Islam in the liberal imagination. From a "politically correct" standpoint jihadi terrorism has only provided the eternal white bigot with an excuse to indulge in his irrepressible hatred of the Other. Whether the subject is Trump's temporary ban on Muslim immigration -- which he's modified to focus on countries with terrorist activity -- or any suggestion of surveillance of mosques, madrasas or community centers, some liberals can't see any motivation for such measures but bigotry. Never mind that Islamists are bigots by any standard -- and the Orlando shooter seems to have been a hypocritical bigot on top of that -- some Americans can't help seeing white bigotry as the greater, permanent threat to the U.S. For such people Maajid Nawaz has some advice:

Just as we Muslims expect solidarity from wider society against anti-Muslim bigotry and racism, likewise we must reciprocate solidarity toward victims of Islamist extremism. Just as we encourage others to actively denounce racism wherever they see it, so too must we actively denounce Islamist theocratic views wherever we find them. Enough with the special pleading. Enough with the denial. Enough with the obfuscation.

Nawaz is talking to fellow Muslims but others should heed his message. 


Anonymous said...

1) If a person - right or left - has not familiarized themselves with islam by reading the holy scripture of islam, then that person has no basis for an opinion on islam.

2) Regarding muslim-on-muslim violence. I have to wonder if Nawaz is lumping all such violence and claiming it as extremism, or does he separate the violence that occurs between the various sects or the violence against kurds from that of ISIS or al Qaeda against other muslims.

3) Nawaz - and other muslim and non-muslim apologists still have not dealt with the issue of taqiyya and jizya.

4) Until there is a major and public reformation of islam, as there was with christianity, in which the koran itself is reformed, there will be no solid basis upon which any sane, reasonable non-muslim can fully trust a muslim.

That is why I suggest the only way for muslims to live in peace with the West is for all muslims to leave the West. The very root values of their culture, which are also the root values of islam, are in opposition to the root values of the West.

Samuel Wilson said...

1. That's the minimum basis for an informed opinion, but depending on scripture alone ignores the history of scriptural interpretation, which is arguably more relevant to how believers behave than what the scripture itself says. Otherwise it's like expecting Jews or Christians to execute their children for disobedience.

2. That's a tricky question but there's no disputing that the Muslim casualties specifically attributable to the Taliban, ISIS and various Islamist terrorist organizations (e.g. the Algerian civil war back in the 1990s) add up to a pretty big number.

3. How exactly would you like muslims to address taqiyya (or the religious tax) so that you would not interpret their comments as taqiyya? And in what way is Nawaz an apologist in the Daily Beast article?

4. Just to be clear, do you fully trust Christians and Jews? You may not expect them to kill you on the street, but can you say honestly that you don't think they're making trouble for the nation or the world?

5. It'd be easy for me to say that past nativists made the same incompatibility arguments about Catholics, Slavs, Asians, etc., but to be fair "once wrong, always wrong" would be a fallacy. And while this doesn't really challenge your main argument, I do wonder whether the Western values you prioritize are those others (e.g. Trump voters) would see as "root" values.

Anonymous said...

1) Since just about every muslim has their own interpretation, just as ever christian has their own interpretation, we are left reading the actual words and the actual definitions of those words. And there have been cases, albeit rare, where jews and christians have done exactly that.

2)No surprise - since the terrorists are generally headquartered in muslim lands, there are simply more muslims that they have access to. If ISIS were in the US, there'd be a lot more dead non-muslims.

3)What I would like for muslims to do regarding taqiyya is leave the West. If there are no non-muslims around them, they'll have no one to lie to.

4)As far as being willing and able to live among them? Yes. Except the Hassidic and other extreme jewish sects. Because their bibles don't specifically order them to kill atheists.

5)Well, since my root value is to live as long as possible, that possibility lessens with muslims around.

As I've said before, the only proof muslims can give that they are truly peaceful is to leave the West and live in peace somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

Insofar as "root values", I am speaking of freedom vs. submission.

Samuel Wilson said...

Anon 8:57 - Regarding point 3, your prediction is wrong. From what I've read the concept of taqiyya was popularized by Shiites who thus entitled themselves to hide their true affiliation from Sunnis, many of whom, then as now, love killing fellow Muslims whom they see as idolators. So unless Muslims segregate themselves by sect the lies will continue, while you can safely trust everything everyone in America says to you.

8:58 - I appreciate the clarification. I take it that for you "the West" means Athens more than Jerusalem, though as you well know many westerners think differently. One fight at a time, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

3) wasn't a prediction. You asked what I want muslims to do about taqiyya and I answered. I want them to leave. It's that simple. I don't mind sharing the country with most other people, but not muslims. There religion is anti-freedom. There is no logical reason for them to be stay here if they are truly peaceful. There is no reason they can't go back to the middle east and practice their peaceful religion among other muslims and make money over there, rather than here. If the economies aren't up to par, then let them put the hard work in to raising the economies. Or let them starve to death. I simply don't care what happens to them, as long as they are not HERE. I am not obliged to respect any religion that demands my death for not believing their superstitions. Nor should I have to live in fear of being shot, beheaded or blown up by some lunatic for refusing to believe their stupidity. And that is the bottom line. Their religion is intolerant of me, hindus, of buddhists, of homosexuals, of equality for women. There is no logical reason I should not be equally intolerant of them.

I think of the West as Europe and its descendents. Jerusalem is not part of Western culture. The christianity practiced now is more Greek than Jewish.

Anonymous said...

"Anon 8:57 - Regarding point 3, your prediction is wrong. From what I've read the concept of taqiyya was popularized by Shiites who thus entitled themselves to hide their true affiliation from Sunnis, many of whom, then as now, love killing fellow Muslims whom they see as idolators. "

The problem, of course, is that the koran specifically spells out details in which it is laudable for a muslim to lie to a non-muslim. That has nothing to do with the conditions set under which a muslim may lie to a muslim - none of which has anything to do with Sunni/Shiite infighting, since that did not exist when mohammed (piss be on his name) created islam. Any ideology that says it is quite okay to lie, especially in order to spread that ideology, is NOT an ideology anyone truly seeking Truth would waste time with.

And any god that sets man against man; that spreads divisiveness through deceit; that does not condemn slavery; that does not condemn the exploitation of man by man is not a "good" god and is worthy only of contempt. (Assuming "gods" existed) So as far as I'm concerned, the "abrahamic tradition" is pure excrement, with islam being the stinkiest turd in the pile.