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Thread: Anti-Arab/Muslim sentiment in the United States

  1. #41
    Senior Member Syme's Avatar
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    Sorry, you're right, when I read what you initially posted I thought you were saying that sharia is applied to all Malaysians (i.e. all persons living in the nation of Malaysia), not to all ethnic Malays. I misread your post and somehow overlooked the word 'ethnic' in there.

    gwahir: I'll try to respond to your questions ASAP, I've been a bit busy so far this week (churning out papers about Islam and Middle Eastern governments, in fact).
    Last edited by Syme; 11-12-2009 at 09:27 PM.

  2. #42
    Senior Member Syme's Avatar
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    Okay:

    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir View Post
    True. I'm saying that it is used by political leaders to spur their countrymen to violence in a way that other religions are not "used". Anti-religion kids often cynically claim that religion is a tool for the rich, powerful or clerical to control the masses. That's doubtful, because in almost all cases, those doing the "controlling" believe just as much as the masses. But in the case of Islam and the Mid East, I'm suggesting there are very cynical people pulling very terrible strings quite purposefully and in a way that suggests they are not such true believers themselves.
    Hrmm alright... I don't necessarily disagree that Islam today is seeing more of this than other religions, but I don't think it stems from anything inherent to Islam either. It's just another part of the phenomenon I’ve been discussing: Of angry/disaffected people, who are open to the idea of using violence to resolve their grievances, having their anger channeled and directed via religious justifications for violence. Part of this process is of course the emergence of opportunistic or pragmatic religious/political leaders who actually do the channeling.

    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir
    Alright, you can convince me if you answer me this: would these fights have been as massive (and in some cases, would they have happened at all) without religion?
    Well obviously I think so, and if me simply answering that question in the positive is enough to convince you, then hey! I’m glad we agree now! But I suspect you actually want a bit more elaboration…

    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir
    Would the butchery of the Crusades have gone down in history?
    Do you mean, would the Crusades themselves have gone down in history as famously, or would the associated atrocities in particular have gone down in history? In the first case, yes, I think it’s certain that they would have—their geopolitical significance was MASSIVE, as was their social/political significance in both Europe and the Middle East, irrespective of the religious factor. In the second case, I’m not sure—part of the way in which these atrocities have been remembered (while many similar events throughout history, absent the Christians-vs.-Muslims aspect, have been less well-remembered)—does stem from the religious angle, and in fact stems precisely from the fact that keeping alive the memory of X religion committing atrocities against Y religion is one of the ways that manipulative leaders use religious differences to justify violence. Anyhow, I don’t know whether or not the massacres and such of the Crusades would be as well-known today if not for the religious angle, but certainly I’d feel comfortable arguing that they still would have happened. There was definitely nothing done in the Crusades that wasn’t also done in Christian-on-Christian warfare back in Europe (or in warfare throughout the Middle East and Asia), or else clearly motivated by non-religious factors (e.g. cannibalism at Maraat).

    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir
    Would the Spanish Christian monarchs have wanted an otherwise homogenous kingdom? Did they?
    Not necessarily, but saying that religion is therefore to blame for the Inquisition is confusing the issue, IMO. The fact is that in Spain at that time (as in much of the rest of Europe, but to a particularly strong degree in Spain), religious affiliation was the primary source of social unity and political loyalty. This was before nationalism was ‘invented’, remember, and before the emergence of political parties or anything like that. To a large extent, religious homogeneity was political/social homogeneity. So yes, the monarchy’s main focus was on religious homogeneity, but it’s because in their society, that was the particular sort of homogeneity that mattered the most when it came to political concerns like “do we enjoy the loyalty of our subjects?” and “does our kingdom contain internal elements that are unfriendly to its rule?”

    If you want to get into why religion rather than anything else was the main social/political unifying factor, well, that goes all the way back to the social/political situation that came out of the Western Roman Empire's collapse.

    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir
    Would there be land conflics over the very glorious Iraqi landscape without religion?
    Absolutely. I presume that by calling it “very glorious”, you’re actually suggesting that there isn’t much worth fighting over in real terms, but this is an unrealistic way to look at it. It may look like a patch of shitty desert to us, but to the people who have been living there for thousands of years (and feuding with their neighbors over the good farming/grazing land, water access, local political/economic preeminence, etc.), it’s their home and its land, politics, and economic arrangements are what they care about. You can’t seriously claim that there’s no non-religious reason to fight over it just because it’s not as green and pleasant as whatever landscape you see out your back window. If you look closer at the ‘sectarian’ (Sunni-Shiite) violence that Iraq has seen recently, you will find that underneath the sectarian divisions are clan divisions and other non-religious divisions—some of them going back to before Islam even existed—which became aligned with the Sunni-Shia divide at a later date (just as the Sunni-Shia divide was itself originally a political one). These conflicts and feuds didn’t originate with religious differences even though those differences have been ‘painted’ onto them. So when these Sunni or Shiite militias go out and kill people from the opposite sect, or try to drive the opposite sect out of a given city or region, they are really carrying on a tradition of inter-community warfare that has non-religious origins but has more recently become identified with religious divisions.

    And the existence of oil has of course only exacerbated these inter-community conflicts, because under that shitty desert is (at current prices) at least nine trillion dollars worth of crude. If you think that the ‘sectarian’ violence in oil-producing areas in particular is really about religious differences, I have a bridge to sell you.

    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir
    Would anyone care what happened to the little tiny scrap of land that forms what's known as Israel?
    Okay, this is an interesting one and I have to admit that the answer isn’t so clear-cut as it is for, say, violence in Iraq. Obviously, yes, the Palestinians would care just as much about being kicked off their land and treated like dogs even if Jerusalem wasn’t considered holy and even if the people doing it to them weren’t of a different religion. So I think it’s clear that you’d still have Palestinian militancy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict even if those religious factors weren’t a part of the current situation. But of course the question we then have to ask is: Would the Palestinians have been treated in that way at all—would the Jews have come and done it to them in the first place, and thus would the situation even exist—if there hadn’t been this religious idea in the heads of some Jews that this particular scrap of land is where Jews should have their homeland? I.e., if not for the religious concept of a Jewish homeland belonging in Palestine, would political Zionism have emerged with its ambitions focused on Palestinian land. Tricky question. Obviously neither I nor anyone else can answer it conclusively. And my knowledge of the history of Zionism (and the specifics of pre-1948 Israeli history) isn’t as good as my knowledge of some other parts of Middle Eastern history. However: As I understand it, groups such as the WZO and the ZF—which bear primary responsibility for setting up the situation that led to the establishment of Israel in mandatory Palestine—were actually dominated by the voices of secular-nationalist and labor Zionists rather than the Mizrachi crowd. Chaim Weizmann, Walter Rothschild, and so forth. My understanding is that these sort of people also made up the largest part of Irgun and similar groups. And that their input was the main Jewish influence on the specifics of the partition decision, since it was mainly their groups that provided testimony to UNSCOP. In fact, as I’m sure you must be aware, the biggest bastion of Jewish anti-Zionism is (and was then) in the Orthodox branch’s more conservative elements, Haredim and so forth. Obviously I’m not denying that religious Zionism played a role, but as I understand it, they can’t claim to have provided the biggest impetus.

    I guess we could then get into the question of whether secular Jewish nationalism, secular though it was, would have emerged in the same way in the 1800s and 1900s if the religious dimension hadn’t been present. Whether the Holocaust and pogroms would/could have happened if the religious dimension hadn’t been present. It goes on and on. But I will say (again, based on my limited knowledge of this area of history) that I think there is at least a decent chance that Israel would have been founded in mandatory Palestine even if religious Zionism as a force hadn’t emerged at all. In other words, the idea that the Jewish homeland belongs in Palestine is/was not purely, or even mostly, religious, and the forces behind it's application weren't either.

    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir
    Why would there be fights over oil or refugees if the land itself wasn't so god damn holy?
    You’re joking, right? You can’t seriously believe that competition for control of valuable mineral resources, or people being kicked out of their ancestral homes and subjected to terrible treatment, will only spark conflicts where there’s also holy land involved?

    Also, I’m sure you realize that the entire Middle East isn’t ‘holy’. Most of the oil reserves that have played a role in causing conflict, for instance, are not sitting under any land that any religion considers holy. The “holy land” angle doesn’t even begin to make sense as an explanation for conflict in the Middle East, because it doesn’t even apply to most of the Middle East.
    Last edited by Syme; 11-12-2009 at 09:33 PM.

  3. #43
    feel like funkin' it up gwahir's Avatar
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    Where did my reply go? I wrote like three paragraphs in response to this big Syme post.

    Fuck!

    Well, anyway. My point was that I wasn't managing to ask the right things, and was therefore appearing stupider than I was. My point was that I doubt there'd be a land rights issue over Israel/Palestine because nobody would be fighting over it, nobody would have been unjustly or otherwisely relocated for any reason I can see. You say "Jewish nationalism" would have emerged -- WHAT Jewish nationalism?! I said "without religion". The Jewish nation is founded on a religion -- it's barely even an extension thereof. I'm not saying "without the religion aspect there's nothing worth fighting over", I was saying that byproducts, direct and indirect, of religion have led to there being reasons for violence in the Middle East. Of course I know most of the Mid East isn't holy -- I was being cute. There's oil in other parts of the world that don't see war, is what I'm saying. Yes, oil is a major reason e'rybody's all worked up.

    By the way, Coq, I think nationalism and religion are similarly dangerous. But whatever.

    Syme, another question for you. No doubt you are at least cursorily knowledgeable about Scientology (as you are everything else ). Do you think the violence committed by its (believing) followers is independent of that religious belief and religious pressure?

  4. #44
    Senior Member Syme's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir View Post
    You say "Jewish nationalism" would have emerged--
    Well, actually what I said was that the Zionist movement which led to the creation of Israel was a largely secular movement, based on secular Jewish nationalism. On the question of whether this secular Jewish nationalism would have emerged at all in the absence of the Jewish religion, I didn't state an opinion one way or the other. I left that question unanswered, because I can't answer it with any confidence. So no, I don't say that secular Jewish nationalism would have emerged without religion. I don't know whether it would have or not. I say only that the people responsible for the creation of Israel WERE largely secular Jewish nationalists.

    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir
    --WHAT Jewish nationalism?!
    Surely you know that the Zionist movement had a huge secular wing which didn't care too much about Jewish religious ideas as they pertain to the establishment of a Jewish state in Israel, and drew it's ideas about Israel from non-religious thought and Jewish ethnic/national identity? Revisionist Zionism? Labor Zionism?

    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir
    I said "without religion". The Jewish nation is founded on a religion -- it's barely even an extension thereof.
    Well, the secular Zionists who played a huge role in the creation of the Israeli state would disagree with you. To them, the Jewish nation is NOT founded on the Jewish religion, it's founded on Jewish historical ethnic/national identity. Again, this brings us to the question of whether this identity, secular as it, would have emerged without the Jewish religion. That's a question I haven't given an answer to, contrary to your accusations. But Jewish national identity is, or can be, quite discrete from Jewish religious identity. Certainly it has been so in the minds of many of the people responsible for creating the state of Israel. Secular Jewish nationalists base their Jewish nationalism not on religion, but on the fact that Jews are a people, an ethnic group, with a shared language and culture and history.

    That sort of shared background has been more than enough basis for numerous other groups to construct national identities independent of any religious identity, which is probably the closest I will come to a definitive statement about whether Jewish nationalism could have emerged in the absence of the Jewish religion,

    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir
    Syme, another question for you. No doubt you are at least cursorily knowledgeable about Scientology (as you are everything else ). Do you think the violence committed by its (believing) followers is independent of that religious belief and religious pressure?
    Actually, I know very little about Scientology; I really don't have the interest to read about it, or pay attention when it pops up in the news. I would, however, say that any violence committed by it's followers is going to fit the same profile as other religious violence: The individuals carrying out the acts (at the 'sharp end', so to speak) may have spiritual motivations in their heads, but the reasons for the emergence of the phenomenon in the first place will be non-religious.

    This question makes me suspect that you have somewhat misunderstood what I'm saying about religious violence. I don't deny that when an individual carries out an act of religious violence, they are sometimes being earnestly motivated by ideas that were placed in their head by religious teachings and religious pressure. This can be true when a Muslim suicide bomber blows himself up on a bus because he thinks that his reward will be Paradise, and it can be true when a Scientologist wing-nut commits whatever acts of violence Scientologist wing-nuts commit. I'm not necessarily saying that every individual who commits an act of religious violence is actually, in his own head, personally and knowingly driven by a non-religious motive. What I'm saying is that the factors that give rise to the phenomenon of religious violence, on a broad or collective level, are not rooted in the religions themselves. Non-religious sociological factors are what cause the emergence of religious groups which encourage people to commit violence. The actual individuals at the 'sharp end' may well be quite credulous towards the violent creed of their religious group, if they are predisposed towards such credulity for some reason (desperation and resentment in the case of a suicide bomber, and I suspect mental issues in the case of people who commit violence in the name of Scientology).

  5. #45
    windmills of your mind Think's Avatar
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    i like you sororitychic you cut to the heart of an issue
    stick around babe x

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