"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Help! The Kiwanis Club Just Hijacked My Airliner!

Our newish and welcomed commenter Francis W. Porretto quoth essays from his excellent blog, Eternity Road, here and here as to the nature of Islam and particularly Islamicism. (Those quoted in turn include at least one actual Muslim.)


Mr. Porretto illustrates why Islam, conceptually and historically, is a rare---indeed unique--- bird. It is both a religion and a politics---a comprehensive divine plan for mankind, according to its adherents. Just ask them. We appreciate the contributions of our other commenters, but one cannot discuss Islam and its relation to the current crisis without actually learning of Islam, and so we must. It is not the Kiwanis Club. We, the children of Rousseau (and the materialist Marx, let's face it), have been under the impression that one size fits all.

As human truth, that may be true at its most basic, and we hope it is, that human nature is universal and not, say, racial and particular. But as Aristotle points out (and even Rousseau would admit), acculturation and habit help create the human being, too. There has been a concentrated effort in the Muslim world over the last 50 years, both Sunni (the Saudis' evangelization of Wahhabism) and Sh'ia (the Iranian Revolution), to inculcate the worldview that I attempted to describe in my original essay below, if we can remember back that far.

(I'm fascinated by the etymology of the word "inculcate"---to put your foot on someone's throat. I believe it's accurate and probative in this case.)

It cannot be merely the luck of the draw that there were no Hindus arrested recently with a grand plot to bring down 10 airliners---Pakistani and Indian alike suffered identical indignities at the hands of the British raj. And the history of the United States is full of visiting like indignities on Central and South America, yet still they don't conspire to mass murder to any observable degree. Even Hugo Chávez just wants to tweak our noses (and perhaps we have it coming), not kill our wives and children.

The challenge of the present age is not a question of politics or economics---the answer must lie elsewhere. We must begin to look for it.

8 comments:

Tlaloc said...

"Mr. Porretto illustrates why Islam, conceptually and historically, is a rare---indeed unique--- bird. It is both a religion and a politics---a comprehensive divine plan for mankind, according to its adherents."

And that is unique, how exactly?

Communism declared that the state was god and god was the state and certainly had a plan for all mankind.

Christianity ran europe for centuries and the Catholic Church is both a church and a nation state. It certainly believes it has the mandate of a divine plan. At least they;ve mostly forsworn the violent methods they previously used.

Israel claims divine origin according to Judaism.

Seems like the conflux of religious and political thought is the NORM not the exception. That is part of what does (or maybe at this point, has) made America rather special. It is/was one of a handful of truly secular nations where politics was supposed to be married to reason rather than faith.



"It cannot be merely the luck of the draw that there were no Hindus arrested recently with a grand plot to bring down 10 airliners---"

Well gosh the Tamil Tigers are back in operation. They aren;t Muslim. Nor are the Basque and Corsican separatists in France. Nor are the Liberation Front of Quebec. In fact we find that the muslim terrorists form far less than a majority of all terrorist organizations.

Terror has no inherent connection with Islam, what it has is an inherent connection with people who feel oppressed and have no other means to fight back. The Middle east breeds terror groups because it is an area of rampant native corruption and abuse by foreign powers.



"Pakistani and Indian alike suffered identical indignities at the hands of the British raj."

The difference being the Pakistanis continued to be dealt with poorly while the Indians managed to gain a great degree of respectability.



"And the history of the United States is full of visiting like indignities on Central and South America, yet still they don't conspire to mass murder to any observable degree."

Good god! Have you looked at the history of South America? It's absolutely stuffed full of terrorist groups including no small number of anti-communist paramilitary groups we've backed.

James Elliott said...

"The challenge of the present age is not a question of politics or economics---the answer must lie elsewhere. We must begin to look for it."

I must profoundly disagree. A far more accurate statement would be that it is not only a question of politics or economics. But neither is it only a question of ideology or religion. History plays a role, as Tlaloc and Devang have attempted to illustrate. Politics, economics, and, yes, religious belief - by far the gravest danger to man's survival, ever - all play their roles. It's a tangled skein.

Tom Van Dyke said...

And I have attempted to illustrate, and I believe I have with my examples of the Hindus and Latin Americans, James, that we cannot discuss the current situation regarding Islamicism with actually discussing Islam and the Muslim worldview. If people choose not to discuss Islam on its own terms but on the west's inadequate account of it, I understand; the prospects are frightening.

Neither to I see the point of responding to a post about Mr. Porretto's essays without addressing what is contained therein.

Mr. tcoloc's account of world history is insufficient as a base for further discussion. Pakistan was part of India until after the end of the colonial period. The Christian church did not run Europe for any lengthy period, in fact the papacy's attempts at temporal power were one fiasco after another. Israel has no evangelical commission, to go forth and make the world Jewish. Neither Christianity nor Judaism (nor Buddhism or any other religion besides Shinto) claim to be a comprehensive political system, as does Islam. Communism has no god. We are speaking of Islamicism here, not solely terrorism. That the Tamil Tigers share tactics with Islamicism is immaterial: their goals are completely dissimilar.

The burka is not because of Mossadegh. I do not fear the Liberation Front of Quebec.

Tlaloc said...

"Pakistan was part of India until after the end of the colonial period."

And? That in no way changes the differences in the two countries experiences post colonialism.



"The Christian church did not run Europe for any lengthy period,"

well gosh you could start the period of what is called "christendom" at 392 when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. And it ran strong at least until the Reformation in the 1500s.

To me 1100 years constitutes a "lengthy period" in human events.



"Israel has no evangelical commission, to go forth and make the world Jewish."

True but they do have a mysitical dogma regarding Erzats Israel and the expansion of their state. Besides which evangelical tendencies are hardly the point. You argued that the combination of religious and political thought was unique to Islam, clearly it is not at all.



"Neither Christianity nor Judaism (nor Buddhism or any other religion besides Shinto) claim to be a comprehensive political system, as does Islam."

Really? Gosh i sort of thought the Catholics ran Vatican City (a Nation unto itself) with the Pope as both religious and state leader. I furthermore thought that the entire system of divinely appointed kings in europe was a christian invention. Silly me.

Wait, isn't it your side that constantly claims this is a Christian nation and that our constitution derives from Christian thought? Wouldn't that kina sorta imply a christian political system?

As for other religions- well maybe you've heard of the Dalai Lama?



" Communism has no god."

Wasn't militant atheism supposed to be another form of religion?



" We are speaking of Islamicism here, not solely terrorism."

You were speaking of both and trying to draw a connection that does not exist, as my examples were hopefully going to help you see.



"That the Tamil Tigers share tactics with Islamicism is immaterial: their goals are completely dissimilar."

Yes they are, which isn't the point. Both use terrorism hence showing your thesis to be flawed. It IS luck of the draw that the alleged (and now it looks like it was ANOTHER false accusation) plane bombers were muslim. Were we Indian rather than American they would have been Tamil.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Please, man, this is getting painful. Just google a little before hitting enter, please? Tibetan Buddhism is a sect, not the whole religion. The Papal States were insignificant, Vatican City even more so. The concept of the divine right of kings was largely from Luther, who didn't appear until the 1500s, and it was wiped away in short order by the Enlightenment. You might have a point about the Byzantine Empire, but that would require knowing there's a difference between the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Churches, and that the Byzantines were only a blip on the map after 1000 CE. "1100 years" is not accurate. We do not require you shoot bullseyes, but the darts must at least hit the board.

Tlaloc said...

"Please, man, this is getting painful. Just google a little before hitting enter, please?"

I've been completely accurate so far, Tom.



"Tibetan Buddhism is a sect, not the whole religion."

Oh, so then Islam doesn't count because it's only certain sects that have political asperations, not the entire religion, huh? Please tom, which of us needs to do some research?



"The Papal States were insignificant, Vatican City even more so."

Wow. Running Europe is insignificant? You do realize that through the middle ages the Catholic church was the single most powerful force on earth, right?



"The concept of the divine right of kings was largely from Luther, who didn't appear until the 1500s, and it was wiped away in short order by the Enlightenment."

Um...
actually the concept of Divine Right to rule goes all the way back to the apostle Paul. He predated Luther by a few centuries.



"You might have a point about the Byzantine Empire, but that would require knowing there's a difference between the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Churches,"

Not really no, since both were chirches and hence either is an effective counterargument to your thesis.
I can't believe that you didn;t know the church's influence on medival europe. How do you possibly begin to understand the history of Europe without first acknowledging the pivotal role of the Holy See?
Maybe I'm answering my own question.

Devang said...

Missing from all of this is the simple fact that we (any muslims readers aside) will always be outsiders, no matter how much we learn of Islam, trying to change the religion. Something loathed by most religions in the world. As much as I appreciate this line of thought, I'm unconvinced the answer lies there. We must find out why they are doing what they are doing and it's clear it's more than practice of islam as an all-encompassing-ideology.

The question in the past week has gone from disarming Hezbollah to how many more Hezbollah's are going to be popping up in Iraq and elesewhere in the middle east which will have mastered guerrilla tactics, be funded by oil revenues and draw upon hatred of our and Israel's policies. We have given them everything. We have treated them with disdain that comes with colonialism. We have given them money and certainly continue to do so. We have given them a big enough cause, and it is us who had plans of going after civilian infrastructure in Lebanon since the spring. They have Islam, and rampant corruption, but which developing nation doesn't have the later.

We have to take away some combination of those 5 things away as best can. Any more use of military force will be seen as opression--as it was by the Lebenese when Israel attacked their infrastructure. We can't change history and we can't take away Islam, and taking away corrupt leaders arguably does little without more military, economic and political help. We can't seem to stop the misinterpretation of Islam without enflaming it further (atleast in the past 6 years). So we're felt with stopping the money and a change in our foreign policy. They believe in deterrance as much as we do. I think congress should talk to the Syrians if the president is unwilling to. We absolutely aren't winning any wars without diplomacy and buying mucho expensive weapons.

*sarcasm*

We're not oppressed and we'll fight this non-oppression with all our might. It all began with this book written a while ago interpreted by the one, the few and the many. Government and religion united, and breaking a law became sin. A smell of blasphemy arose like smoke around any questioning of governmental edicts.

I'm sorry, as a Daily Show and Colbert Report viewer I have resorted to hopefully poignant sarcasm. Bonus, well not really, to anyone who finds out where I plagarized the last part of that from.

Tom Van Dyke said...

That's OK, Devang. Except for a total lack of relevance to the original post and Mr. Porretto's essays, this has been a good discussion. It's no mean feat to eradicate the Islam from Islamicism, but we have succeeded. That -icism sure has killed a lot of people, tho.

The -ic Republic of Iran continues to finance the slaughter and destruction of Israel, but I'm sure it's because of all those bad things Israel did to Iran, although they escape my memory just now.