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

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    Senior Member jack burden's Avatar
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    Default Anti-Arab/Muslim sentiment in the United States

    It has been particularly bad since the 70s, but there seems to be a lot of anti-Arab/Muslim people in the US. They are the one ethnic group one can racially deride and stereotype without being called a racist. Then you have crazy know-it-alls saying they've read the Koran and that it "proves" Islam is violent, and that that somehow justifies condemning whole different cultures and societies because they don't understand them. These kinds of people are coming out of the woodwork right now because of the shooting at Fort Hood.
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    feel like funkin' it up gwahir's Avatar
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    Is there a question?

    My question is: if the Koran is supportive or encouraging of violent, does that make Islam a violent religion?

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    Senior Member Syme's Avatar
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    The Qu'ran has some content that seems to justify religious violence, and other content that quite clearly rejects it. I'd say it's overall message on violence is 'mixed' or perhaps even inconsistent. I think calling it a religion of violence on the basis of the content that seems to justify violence is dishonest, because it cherry-picks the passages that support violence and defines the religion by them, while ignoring the parts that reject violence and call for peace, tolerance, and non-violence. I could just as easily do the opposite, cherry-picking the peaceful parts and ignoring the rest, and thereby claim that Islam is a religion of peace. The reality is more complex than either of these characterizations; Islamic scripture contains messages that can be used to support both violence AND non-violence/peace/tolerance, and which of these messages a given interpretation emphasizes are going to depend on extra-scriptural factors. That doesn't make a very good smear line for some right-winger's anti-Muslim website, though. "Islam is a religion of violence" is a lot snappier than "Islam can be used to rationalize violence by people who are already inclined towards violence for other reasons, just like all other religions".

    Also, the Tanakh contains plenty of violent and bloody-minded passages where people are told to kill others for religious reasons (often quite horribly), but no-one uses this as a basis to accuse Judaism of being a "religion of violence". So the fact that people try to label Islam a "religion of violence" has more to do with stereotyping, contemporary prejudices, and the current politico-cultural climate than with the actual content of the Qu'ran. If these people were honestly trying to identify "religions of violence" on the basis of scriptural content, they'd be denouncing Judaism right along with Islam. The fact that they're not proves that they're really trying to grind an axe against Islam, not honestly and objectively determine which religions are "violent" in their scriptural message.

    Plus, bear in mind that a religion's scriptural content apparently does very little to guide the behavior of many of it's putative adherents; because Christianity's scriptural message is unambiguously pacifistic, yet the history of Christianity is drenched in the blood of religious warfare and persecution. So obviously a religion doesn't have to be even slightly violent in it's scriptural content in order for people to commit hideous acts of violence in it's name. I have to roll my eyes when people, often Christians, assert that Islamic violence/terrorism stems from the violent message of the Qu'ran; don't they realize that their own religion has acted just as violently despite having a completely non-violent message? The human ability to twist and rationalize is unlimited, scriptural content is almost totally divorced from how people actually act. The violence comes from non-religious sources.
    Last edited by Syme; 11-06-2009 at 09:00 AM.

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    Merry fucking Christmas Atmosfear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Syme View Post
    Plus, bear in mind that a religion's scriptural content apparently does very little to constrain the behavior of it's putative adherents; because Christianity's scriptural message is unambiguously pacifistic, yet the history of Christianity is drenched in the blood of religious warfare and persecution. So obviously a religion doesn't have to be even slightly violent in it's scriptural content in order for people to commit hideous acts of violence in it's name. I have to roll my eyes when people, often Christians, assert that Islamic violence/terrorism stems from the violent message of the Qu'ran; don't they realize that their own religion has acted just as violently despite having a completely non-violent message? The human ability to twist and rationalize is unlimited, scriptural content is almost totally divorced from how people actually act. The violence comes from non-religious sources.
    Justifying violence in the name of one's religion (The Crusades, abortion clinic bombings, etc) is a far cry from carrying out violence because it is prescribed in religious texts (modern Jihadism.) The Christian violence stands in stark contrast to the teachings of the religion; the Muslim violence may stand in contrast to some teachings, but it honors other teachings to the letter.

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    Senior Member ephekt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jack burden View Post
    They are the one ethnic group one can racially deride and stereotype without being called a racist.
    Stereotyping or deriding Islam is not racist. Anecdotally, I rarely hear anyone rail against 'arabs' - it always seems to be Islam. That said, there is definitely an aspect of racism and politicized xenophobia. But there is a valid argument for Islam-in-practice being violent, if only due to Sharia and the whole kill the infidels/apostates thing.
    Last edited by ephekt; 11-06-2009 at 09:19 AM.

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    Senior Member Syme's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Atmosfear View Post
    Justifying violence in the name of one's religion (The Crusades, abortion clinic bombings, etc) is a far cry from carrying out violence because it is prescribed in religious texts (modern Jihadism.)
    This one of the common misunderstandings that leads people to think of Islam as violent. Modern "jihadism" is usually going to be motivated by non-religious root causes, and cloaked in the veneer of religion to justify it and rationalize it (just like the Crusades were). They may not be obvious on the evening news, but they are there. There's no "far cry" seperating Christian religious violence from Muslim religious violence, they are fundamentally the same--motivated by non-religious factors, dressed up in the clothes of obedience to religious duty. The fact that some passages in the Qu'ran do actually prescribe violence might mean that Muslims don't have to engage in as much mental squirming to dress their violence up in those clothes, but those passages aren't the reason for the violence (and it's not like Christians who want to commit violence have ever had trouble justifying it to themselves despite the fact that they should theoretically have to engage in more of that mental squirming to do... again, the human ability to twist and rationalize is infinite). Anyhow, the anti-Muslim bigot's imagined scenario, where Muslims commit violence simply because the Qu'ran tells them to and they wish to obey Qu'ranic commandment, is ludicrous and unrealistic. Something else has to make people want to commit violence in the first place, then they get their religion into it.

    I pretty much guarantee you that you can't cite instances of Muslim religious violence (or Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, etc. religious violence) that don't have underlying non-religious causes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Atmosfear
    The Christian violence stands in stark contrast to the teachings of the religion; the Muslim violence may stand in contrast to some teachings, but it honors other teachings to the letter.
    This is kind of my point, the teachings of the religion are totally divorced from the actions of the actual people. It doesn't matter whether the religion prohibits violence or encourages it, people will act violently if they are inclined to do so by other factors, and they won't if they aren't. Yet again, the ability of humans to twist and rationalize is literally unlimited. A religion with non-violent teachings is, in practice, just as susceptible to religious violence on the part of those who wish to do violence as one with teachings that permit violence. So it's absurd to try to and pin religious violence on scriptural content.

    I appreciate that, on a theoretical level, Christianity universally prohibits violence in a way that Islam doesn't. What I'm saying is that this has no reflection in the real world and in the practical question of which religious groups behave more violently. When people say "Islam is a religion of violence", they are trying to suggest that Islam's scriptural content makes it more violent and makes Muslims more inclined to violence... not simply that it is theoretically more permissive of violence than say Christianity, but that in practice many other religions are just as violent.
    Last edited by Syme; 11-06-2009 at 09:53 AM.

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    Senior Member ephekt's Avatar
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    Terrorism is obviously political in nature, but what are the non-religious motives for killing apostates and infidels? Or the non-religious basis for Sharia? Oppression of women?

    I think it's fair to say that some of this comes from underlying causes, but it's just as likely that, for example, women are oppressed in Islamic states due to fundamental adherence to scripture.
    Last edited by ephekt; 11-06-2009 at 10:07 AM.

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    Senior Member Syme's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ephekt View Post
    Terrorism is obviously political in nature, but what are the non-religious motives for killing apostates and infidels?
    What is the specific situation you are referring to? What I'm saying is that Muslims don't just go out and start killing apostates/infidels purely because they read it in the Qu'ran. If they are out there killing people, and claiming it's because they are obeying a Qu'ranic commandment to kill apostates and infidels, then there is something else at work, something underlying this surface-level rationalization.

    Quote Originally Posted by ephekt
    Or the non-religious basis for Sharia?
    I'm not saying that Sharia law isn't religious in character, I'm saying that when Muslims resort to violence in attempts to institute Sharia law (or carry any other putatively religious task), or even just try to push the issue in a strong way, there are underlying non-religious causes at work. There is a very good reason, for instance, that calls for the implementation of Sharia law have been numerous and loud in Europe's population of Islamic immigrants, but practically non-existent in America's population of Islamic immigrants.

    Quote Originally Posted by ephekt
    Oppression of women?

    I think it's fair to say that some of this comes from underlying causes, but it's just as likely that, for example, women are oppressed in Islamic states due to fundamental adherence to scripture.
    This is ESPECIALLY wrong, because 99% of the ways women are mistreated in various Muslim societies have absolutely zero basis in the scriptural content of the Qu'ran. Just off the top of my head, the following things are NOT derived from Qu'ranic scripture:

    Prohibiting women from driving cars
    Prohibiting women from traveling alone
    Prohibiting women from going into public alone
    Prohibiting women from obtaining education, or from having the same educational access as men, or from becoming scholars
    Prohibiting women from activity in the political/public spheres, or from employment in general
    Prohibiting women from initiating divorce against their husbands
    Forcing women to wear burqas or similar garments
    Forcing women to marry against their will
    Obliging women to walk behind the man they are with when in public
    Honor killings!
    Female genital mutilation!

    I certainly don't deny that all of these things (and more) go on in some Islamic societies, though they are far from universal, and many of them are not exclusive to Islamic societies either (e.g. honor killings and FGM). I don't disagree with your core assertion that "women are oppressed in Islamic states"; that is certainly true in many cases. Nor do I disagree that many Islamic societies have a long way to go on women's rights in general. BUT, it's important to realize that very little of this mistreatment of women is based on "fundamental adherence to scripture". If Islamic societies adhered fundamentally to scripture when it came to the treatment of women, then the situation of women in most Muslim societies would be far far better than it is today. People look at women being mistreated in the Muslim world and say "oh it's because of Islam's scriptural content regarding women," but it's really not. This mistreatment stems mostly from non-Islamic cultural roots and from the activities of conservatives/extremists pushing ideas that aren't in the Qu'ran.

    I don't even disagree that in some respects, the Qu'ran itself does ascribe unequal rights to men and women (like most other things written during the 7th century, it fails to incorporate the ideas of womens rights/equality which largely originated in the 19th century). But again, if Islamic societies/states treated women in accord with whatever is written in the Qu'ran, most of the complaints that people make against Islam's treatment of women wouldn't exist.
    Last edited by Syme; 11-06-2009 at 10:41 AM.

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    λεγιων ονομα μοι sycld's Avatar
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    People look at women being mistreated in the Muslim world and say "oh it's because of Islam's scriptural content regarding women," but it's really not. This mistreatment stems mostly from non-Islamic cultural roots and from the activities of conservatives/extremists pushing ideas that aren't in the Qu'ran.
    First of all, I respect your opinions, and by and large I agree with them. As for the original post, the shootings at Fort Hood seemed to have nothing to do with the soldier's religion at all and probably were the result of unresolved emotional issues because of the shooter's tour of duty. I agree that Islam is being unfairly pointed to as a cause for this crime; it's too bad that idiot had to scream "Allahu akabar" before opening fire.

    That said, I don't know the contents of the Qu'ran, so I will not comment on it but give you the benefit of the doubt, especially considering how violent the Tanakh (more specifically the Torah) can be as you pointed out above. However, as you say, the common conduct of members of a religion is just as much a part of the religion as strictly what is canonical or doctrinal.

    Regardless of what is stipulated in the Qu'ran or whether Jihad is defined as a more metaphysical struggle rather than a truly military one, there is something fundamentally wrong with modern Islamic culture. Unfortunately, the reality is that Muslims with moderate attitudes regarding their faith, tolerance of other religions, and who believe in non-violent resolutions to conflicts are in the minority.

    That's not to say that there aren't perverse practices justified through religion amongst adherents to other faiths. But none are so widespread as they are in Islam.

    Just take a look at countries ran by Muslims. Most of them cannot separate church and state. As my father said who taught English in Saudi Arabia for a year, there the Christian Bible is (or at least was) treated the same way as pornography. Turkey is secular through a rather brutal enforcement of social secularism. Even Malaysia, the largest Muslim state with a rather religiously diverse population, forces all ethnic Malayas to submit to Shrariah law, and the Shariah courts rulings can countermand any ruling from a secular court.

    The latest "Islamic state" is Chechnya, where a Muslim was elected as president of this constituent state of Russia. At first the Kremlin was quite supportive of him, as they looked upon him as someone who could bring peace to the region and solidify Russian control of the region. Now, he's forcing all women to wear Hijab, supports honor killings, and is otherwise stripping Chechnyans of their human rights in the name of Islam.

    Sure, in India, there are Hindu extremists. There are Hindu terrorists. There was even some legitimate cause for concern when a party with Hindu fundamentalists leanings had controlled the central government for a time. But India is still at its heart a secular democracy, with free religious expression and an open society. The current prime minister is, in fact, a Sikh and not a Hindu (and by and large a very good leader). Pakistan, on the other hand, is a hotbed of Islamic extremism with an small educated population under siege by a larger population of poor uneducated people leaning towards extremism and a military that often supports militant fundamentalism against the wishes of its civilian government. There is little tolerance for practice of any religion other than Islam. Pakistan is poorer than India, yes, but before the partition of these two states Lahore was a cosmopolitan and diverse city.

    So in sum, there is something undeniably and systemically wrong with modern Islamic culture. We're far from the days of the highly enlightened Moghul court that had both practicing Muslims and Hindus among its members (though officially Muslim itself).


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    Merry fucking Christmas Atmosfear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Syme View Post
    This one of the common misunderstandings that leads people to think of Islam as violent. Modern "jihadism" is usually going to be motivated by non-religious root causes, and cloaked in the veneer of religion to justify it and rationalize it (just like the Crusades were). They may not be obvious on the evening news, but they are there. There's no "far cry" seperating Christian religious violence from Muslim religious violence, they are fundamentally the same--motivated by non-religious factors, dressed up in the clothes of obedience to religious duty. The fact that some passages in the Qu'ran do actually prescribe violence might mean that Muslims don't have to engage in as much mental squirming to dress their violence up in those clothes, but those passages aren't the reason for the violence (and it's not like Christians who want to commit violence have ever had trouble justifying it to themselves despite the fact that they should theoretically have to engage in more of that mental squirming to do... again, the human ability to twist and rationalize is infinite). Anyhow, the anti-Muslim bigot's imagined scenario, where Muslims commit violence simply because the Qu'ran tells them to and they wish to obey Qu'ranic commandment, is ludicrous and unrealistic. Something else has to make people want to commit violence in the first place, then they get their religion into it.

    I pretty much guarantee you that you can't cite instances of Muslim religious violence (or Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, etc. religious violence) that don't have underlying non-religious causes.
    How is this a misunderstanding at all? The Crusades were justified by reclaiming the holy land, furthering the true religion, etc. There was no passage in the Gospel that said, "Those who disrespect Christianity by non-believing must die at the hands of the true believer," nor were their promises of rewards in the afterlife for those who die for the jihad. You can manipulate any system of belief to ignoble ends if you so desire, but the Islamic texts don't even require manipulation; they require quoting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Syme View Post
    This is kind of my point, the teachings of the religion are totally divorced from the actions of the actual people. It doesn't matter whether the religion prohibits violence or encourages it, people will act violently if they are inclined to do so by other factors, and they won't if they aren't. Yet again, the ability of humans to twist and rationalize is literally unlimited. A religion with non-violent teachings is, in practice, just as susceptible to religious violence on the part of those who wish to do violence as one with teachings that permit violence. So it's absurd to try to and pin religious violence on scriptural content.
    It's no less absurd to reject it. You're not providing a counter-example, you're providing a red herring. The violent nature of Islam/Muslims must be measured not against other religions, but against the entire population (I'm hardly so crass as to suggest there is enough variability based solely on outward physical characteristics to try to compare Muslims to Arabs, etc.) Christians don't provide a control group; all people provide the control group.

    Quote Originally Posted by Syme View Post
    I appreciate that, on a theoretical level, Christianity universally prohibits violence in a way that Islam doesn't. What I'm saying is that this has no reflection in the real world and in the practical question of which religious groups behave more violently. When people say "Islam is a religion of violence", they are trying to suggest that Islam's scriptural content makes it more violent and makes Muslims more inclined to violence... not simply that it is theoretically more permissive of violence than say Christianity, but that in practice many other religions are just as violent.
    This is a furthering of the Christian violence red herring. And even if it wasn't, you don't have any real data to support your conclusion that religious teachings have no impact on the behavior of either groups or of individuals.

    I don't actually disagree with you, but you're making an inane argument.

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    Senior Member Syme's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Atmosfear View Post
    How is this a misunderstanding at all? The Crusades were justified by reclaiming the holy land, furthering the true religion, etc. There was no passage in the Gospel that said, "Those who disrespect Christianity by non-believing must die at the hands of the true believer," nor were their promises of rewards in the afterlife for those who die for the jihad. You can manipulate any system of belief to ignoble ends if you so desire, but the Islamic texts don't even require manipulation; they require quoting.
    Right, that's exactly what I was saying when I said that Muslims have less theological squirming to go through when they decide to justify violence in religious terms. So, you have just restated what I already said.

    My point isn't that Qu'ranic verse can't be used to justify violence (some of it can), but that this verse isn't what CAUSES the violence. And even if Qu'ranic verse didn't sometimes endorse violence, that wouldn't inhibit people who are inclined towards violence from using it's passages to justify their violence. Because Christian history very clearly demonstrates that even a 100% peaceful religion is readily seized upon by those who want a justification for violence. Yes, if Qu'ranic content was totally non-violent, violent Muslims would have to "creatively" interpret instead of simply selectively quoting it; so what? That doesn't make it harder for them.

    The common misunderstanding I referred to was the idea that Christian religious violence has been motivated by non-religious causes but committed in the name of religion to justify it, whereas Islamic religious violence is actually religious in it's root causes (i.e. performed out of obedience to Qu'ranic scripture). That seemed to be what you were saying in your "far cry" post. If that's not the idea you were defending, then you're not guilty of this misunderstanding.

    Quote Originally Posted by Atmosfear
    It's no less absurd to reject it. You're not providing a counter-example, you're providing a red herring. The violent nature of Islam/Muslims must be measured not against other religions, but against the entire population (I'm hardly so crass as to suggest there is enough variability based solely on outward physical characteristics to try to compare Muslims to Arabs, etc.) Christians don't provide a control group; all people provide the control group.
    I'm not sure what you're getting at. I wasn't trying to provide a "counterexample" to anything, I was stating that history makes it abundantly clear that religions with uniformly non-violent scriptural content are just as prone to violence as religions with mixed scriptural content. So your earlier argument--that Christian religious violence violates Christian scripture whereas Muslim religious violence doesn't violate (some) Muslim scripture--may be correct but it isn't meaningful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Atmosfear
    This is a furthering of the Christian violence red herring. And even if it wasn't, you don't have any real data to support your conclusion that religious teachings have no impact on the behavior of either groups or of individuals.
    If I was unclear, I'm sorry: I'm not necessarily saying that religious teachings have no impact on human behavior, I'm saying that the root causes of Islamic violence/terrorism aren't in the Qu'ran even though Qu'ranic content is sometimes used to justify them.

    I don't have data supporting the conclusion that religious teachings have no impact on the behavior of human groups or individuals, but we do have a huge amount of evidence that religions with non-violent scripture are as prone, or more prone, to religious violence than religions with partially violent scripture. So while the contents and teachings of religious scripture certainly have an impact (many impacts, actually) on human behavior, one impact they clearly DON'T have is to make religious violence more difficult or less common by virtue of being pacifistic.


    Sycld, you have some interesting things to say, some of which I agree with and some of which I don't. I'm busy for the rest of the night but I'll try to address them at some point this weekend.
    Last edited by Syme; 11-06-2009 at 03:54 PM.

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    Merry fucking Christmas Atmosfear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Syme View Post
    Right, that's exactly what I was saying when I said that Muslims have less theological squirming to go through when they decide to justify violence in religious terms. So, you have just restated what I already said.

    My point isn't that Qu'ranic verse can't be used to justify violence (some of it can), but that this verse isn't what CAUSES the violence. And even if Qu'ranic verse didn't sometimes endorse violence, that wouldn't inhibit people who are inclined towards violence from using it's passages to justify their violence. Because Christian history very clearly demonstrates that even a 100% peaceful religion is readily seized upon by those who want a justification for violence. Yes, if Qu'ranic content was totally non-violent, violent Muslims would have to "creatively" interpret instead of simply selectively quoting it; so what? That doesn't make it harder for them.

    The common misunderstanding I referred to was the idea that Christian religious violence has been motivated by non-religious causes but committed in the name of religion to justify it, whereas Islamic religious violence is actually religious in it's root causes (i.e. performed out of obedience to Qu'ranic scripture). That seemed to be what you were saying in your "far cry" post. If that's not the idea you were defending, then you're not guilty of this misunderstanding.
    Uh are you kidding? Are you meaning to say that no Islamic religious violence is actually religious? Are you under some sort of impression that no one reads scripture, takes it at face value, and becomes a warrior of the jihad? Because if there is even one such individual, then Islam as a belief as well as a practice causes more violence than Christianity... as though comparisons to Christianity were relevant at all.



    Quote Originally Posted by Syme View Post
    I'm not sure what you're getting at. I wasn't trying to provide a "counterexample" to anything, I was stating that history makes it abundantly clear that religions with uniformly non-violent scriptural content are just as prone to violence as religions with mixed scriptural content. So your earlier argument--that Christian religious violence violates Christian scripture whereas Muslim religious violence doesn't violate (some) Muslim scripture--may be correct but it isn't meaningful.
    Then you are making a blanket generalization based on a single, questionable example. Again, if you look at population-wide (and historical) examples, you'll find far more violence present in religions that promote religious violence than those that don't. Even the most refined societies of antiquity were predicated on religious-sanctioned violence (Rome, Greece, all of major South Americans.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Syme View Post
    If I was unclear, I'm sorry: I'm not necessarily saying that religious teachings have no impact on human behavior, I'm saying that the root causes of Islamic violence/terrorism aren't in the Qu'ran even though Qu'ranic content is sometimes used to justify them.
    If you accept that religions were created by men in order to create mutually beneficial rules for society, explain the natural world, and define man's place in the natural world, then your argument is meaningless. Humans are violent and created a religion to justify the violence; does it matter a thousand years later?

    Quote Originally Posted by Syme View Post
    I don't have data supporting the conclusion that religious teachings have no impact on the behavior of human groups or individuals, but we do have a huge amount of evidence that religions with non-violent scripture are as prone, or more prone, to religious violence than religions with partially violent scripture. So while the contents and teachings of religious scripture certainly have an impact (many impacts, actually) on human behavior, one impact they clearly DON'T have is to make religious violence more difficult or less common by virtue of being pacifistic.
    Do you? Do you really? You're already on thin logical ice using "Christianity" as a blanket term, so I would love to see this data. I think if you looked at actual data, you would find that religious traditions (including certain Christian sects) that condone violence are prone to widespread violence, either within members of the tradition or toward outsiders. Likewise, I think you would find that religious traditions that advocate pacifist and/or peaceful conduct are prone only to relatively isolated violence. Historically speaking, I think you would find that violence in the name of Islam is relatively rare when compared to other violent religions (probably in part because it's watered down and because, frankly, the world is smaller.)

    Of course, I'm not the one who made the suggestion, so I'm not really inclined to find real numbers... but rest assured, you would have been looking for the wrong ones anyways.

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    Ghost Poaster Woofness's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Syme View Post

    My point isn't that Qu'ranic verse can't be used to justify violence (some of it can), but that this verse isn't what CAUSES the violence.
    I could be wrong here but I think you have completely missed or ignored the point Atmosfear was trying to make...

    Quote Originally Posted by Atmosfear View Post
    You can manipulate any system of belief to ignoble ends if you so desire, but the Islamic texts don't even require manipulation; they require quoting.
    The idea being that it is the verses themselves which are a cause. I would say that it is a fair enough argument to make as some verses from the Qu'ran can be seen as explicitly inciting the reader to violence.

    Even a quick scan through can reveal this, some examples can be found here. // http://www.submission.org/suras/sura9.htm

    Obviously these are mixed in with an almost equal amount of peaceful messages and contradictions, however I am not trying to argue that it can't be cherry picked to suit a persons actions, I am merely supporting the argument that it can be seen at face value as a violence inducing text.

    I don't want to argue any point too strongly as I have no great knowledge of the Qur'an or Islamic beliefs, but I felt that blatantly ignoring or denying the meaning of certain parts of it seemed foolish.

    (apologies for any mistakes or incoherency, this was written in great haste)

    EDIT: and before reading the above post
    Quote Originally Posted by <JANE> View Post
    This post was quite an effort to make, I hope it wont get lost.

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    Merry fucking Christmas Atmosfear's Avatar
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    Also let me clarify that people who make a point of using non-common alternate spellings for anglicized words are all 100% fucking cunts and this applies to the majority of Arab words

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    Quote Originally Posted by Atmosfear View Post
    Also let me clarify that people who make a point of using non-common alternate spellings for anglicized words are all 100% fucking cunts and this applies to the majority of Arab words
    I don't get this.

    You never see Pastafarians going into holy war
    lik dis if u cry evertim
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    yes
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    Quote Originally Posted by Syme View Post
    Also, the Tanakh contains plenty of violent and bloody-minded passages where people are told to kill others for religious reasons (often quite horribly), but no-one uses this as a basis to accuse Judaism of being a "religion of violence". So the fact that people try to label Islam a "religion of violence" has more to do with stereotyping, contemporary prejudices, and the current politico-cultural climate than with the actual content of the Qu'ran. If these people were honestly trying to identify "religions of violence" on the basis of scriptural content, they'd be denouncing Judaism right along with Islam. The fact that they're not proves that they're really trying to grind an axe against Islam, not honestly and objectively determine which religions are "violent" in their scriptural message.
    Yeah, this is where I was going with that, but you've beaten me to it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Atmosfear View Post
    Also let me clarify that people who make a point of using non-common alternate spellings for anglicized words are all 100% fucking cunts and this applies to the majority of Arab words
    what? are you talking about Koran vs. Qu'ran vs. Quran?

    i use all of those spellings interchangiably without giving it any thought...


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    Quote Originally Posted by Woofness View Post
    The idea being that it is the verses themselves which are a cause. I would say that it is a fair enough argument to make as some verses from the Qu'ran can be seen as explicitly inciting the reader to violence.
    I think I agree with this.

    The Tanakh, as Syme pointed out, is similarly violence-inciting in many places. Disturbingly so. And yet, it seems that adherents to the Tanakh are not inclined the same way as adherents to the Koran. That's not to say that the Tanakh is never used to justify or incite violence, because absolutely it is, but it doesn't seem to be in the same league. I don't believe there is the Jewish or Hebrew equivalent of "Jihad".

    Which leads me to the point I was eventually going to make only the thread went elsewhere when I was sleeping thanks a lot guys.

    If two religions' religious texts are equally as bloody, but the members of one religion are more adherent to that bloodiness, more violent, warring, insular and so on, then it is not just to call the religions "equally as violent". A religion is more than its founding texts -- a religion is the people who make it up and what they believe. Syme, I think your claim that religion is not a fundamental part of the violence is dubious and naive. In certain parts of the world, Islam has become weaponised -- it is used, mostly by political leaders, to motivate its constituents to terrorism and hatred. Not because of the more bloodthirsty verses in the Koran (though they certainly make things easier) but because of its power as a religion, and one which is very much a fundamental part of people's lives (in the way that, for isntance, the Church of England isn't).

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    Quote Originally Posted by sycld View Post
    what? are you talking about Koran vs. Qu'ran vs. Quran?

    i use all of those spellings interchangiably without giving it any thought...
    I'm not sure where Qu'ran or even Quran ever came from. I know they are the "more correct" ways of spelling it, but it's a transliterated word and does not sound at all like "Qu'ran".

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    I'm just going to point out that, in regards to Christianity being a religion devoted to pacifism, the Old Testament (although more related to Judaism than Christianity to be fair) encourages violence against rulebreakers, with the most egregious examples in Leviticus. Considering that there are the kind of people who take the Qu'ran literally and use quotations to excuse and encourage their violent tendencies, it's important to note that the same can be found in Christianity using the Bible in its place. I'm relatively certain that this is the point Syme was making earlier.

    Atmosfear, you say that there's no basis for comparison with Christianity, but there is. Culturally, North America has vast roots with the religion - look at how frequently the current vice-president refers to his faith, as well as George W. Bush's open stance about his religion. Because the culture here is steeped in the Christianity, regardless of sect (we can use it as a blanket term in this context because the differences dividing the various sects, extremist sects notwithstanding, are irrelevant to the point being made), it does stand as a paralell to Islamic Arab states. Considering that the original post referred to the negative view that America has on Islam in general, it's perfectly fair to make an assessment of America on the same terms as you would Islamic states.

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    I am sure many other cities have similar fervent folks so I won't link to any particular story, but I was pretty disgusted today to read the comments section of the local newspaper's online articles about the Fort Hood deal. Many comments were about how all (ALL) Muslims should be killed or deported, and that the religion as a whole is to blame. It's pretty sad that we're supposed to be the melting pot here in America but we've become as a whole more outcasting than most other countries in the world. I hope when we have our civil war it is the bigots vs. the libertarians because that will truly be an epic moral battle for the ages.

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    Senior Member Syme's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir
    Syme, I think your claim that religion is not a fundamental part of the violence is dubious and naive.
    That's not really what I said. I said that Islam's teachings aren't the root cause or motivation for the violence. That they have become wrapped up in it very closely is obvious and I don't deny it. But there wouldn't have been anything for them to get wrapped up in if non-religious factors hadn't disposed people in Muslim societies towards violence in the first place.

    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir
    In certain parts of the world, Islam has become weaponised -- it is used, mostly by political leaders, to motivate its constituents to terrorism and hatred.
    This is very true and integral to what I'm talking about! It certainly doesn't mean that Islam causes violence. It means that it's used to provide a framework or guide for the expression of violent 'potential' that exists already. No amount of fiery jihad-preaching is going to stir up terrorism and hatred in people who don't have anything to be deeply angry about to begin with. Extremist Islam is used to harness, direct, and control the anger of people who are already deeply disgruntled. So again, the violence doesn't actually come from Islam. It comes from people's anger over the Israelis kicking them out of their homes and treating them like sub-humans, or the Americans propping up a dictator that throws them in jail and kills them for demanding less corrupt government, or the British robbing their country blind of it's oil wealth for fifty years, or whatever else. The religion just forms provides the mold into which that anger and inclination towards violence are poured, and if the religion wasn't there, a different mold would be used.


    Oh yeah, atmosfear: Qur'an (sometimes minus the apostrophe) is the common spelling and the one most often identified as correct. I don't know whether you are suggesting that "Koran" is the proper spelling for anyone who isn't a cunt, but "Koran" is outmoded in the same way as "Moslem".

    I'll respond to the rest tomorrow or maybe Sunday.
    Last edited by Syme; 11-07-2009 at 03:00 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ephekt View Post
    Stereotyping or deriding Islam is not racist. Anecdotally, I rarely hear anyone rail against 'arabs' - it always seems to be Islam.
    You've never heard anyone use the word towelhead? One can deride a religion but, in many cases, like with Judaism, people use the guide of criticizing a religion to also condemn a whole ethnic group/culture/society.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nermy2k View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Scarf View Post
    I hope when we have our civil war it is the bigots vs. the libertarians because that will truly be an epic moral battle for the ages.
    I swear to god there better be a third side because libertarians are fucking idiots.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nermy2k View Post
    it's been 8 months since i posted in this thread and ayn rand is still dead

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    Quote Originally Posted by Atmosfear View Post
    Also let me clarify that people who make a point of using non-common alternate spellings for anglicized words are all 100% fucking cunts and this applies to the majority of Arab words
    Its a shame that you can make a half decent argument then follow it up with such an ignorant and pathetic statement.
    Quote Originally Posted by <JANE> View Post
    This post was quite an effort to make, I hope it wont get lost.

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    The Quran does indeed pretty much mandate violence, as does the Bible, Tanakh, etc. The only real difference is the time and place in which said holy book is used to justify things. The Quran itself, as Enver Hoxha noted, is theologically superior to both the Bible and especially the Tanakh. Its contents are just about fully fleshed out both in the realm of the metaphysical and in the realm of government. For that reason it will be far more "violent" than either the Bible or Tanakh. It is simply a reflection of progressive versus reactionary in religious form, and the struggle between the two.

    As far as debate over "violence" via mandated in the Quran goes, you generally get types like the Ahmadi, for example, who are materialists and believe that most Quran discussions dealt with situations of the time, and are not to be taken as always acceptable, but only acceptable under certain conditions. The Nation of Islam, Five Percenters, etc. follow this line of reasoning and it works well. "Extremist Islam" is simply using the Quran's logical conclusions, which are accepted by all Muslims who take their faith seriously, in a certain time or place in which violence is seen as necessary.

    The logical conclusion of Islam is a society ruled by the Quran as interpreted through whatever governmental structure (in the Middle East and such, generally a Caliphate versus an Imamate). Just like the logical conclusion of Calvinism in some cases is that society is ruled by the elect who establish God's Kingdom on earth. To what extent one attempts to achieve this though, and of course the obvious interpretations that shift it towards liberalism, are highly varied. But Muslims are required to achieve an Islamic lifestyle, which does include having a government that serves Allah (or at least being protected from degeneration from a Pagan state). In the US, most Christians don't really take their faith seriously (and theologically Protestantism is lame), and religion takes on an essentially secondary (or just cultural) importance. Even the Christian fundamentalists have it take on a secondary nature, whereas types like Rushdoony and Van Til wanted it to be of primary importance in all walks of life.

    As far as Jihad and such goes, it is simply a normal part of Muslim life. It calls for the defense of the faith against aggression and paganism, and to better oneself through the devotion to Allah. Interpretations vary, but it's generally accepted that preserving Islam and the piety of Muslims is the key component of that, which is what both "defensive" and "aggressive" (Qutbist) Jihad stress.

    Hoxha wrote about the foundations of Islam (as he himself had been brought up in a devout Bektashi home) and on government in Islam: http://redrebelde.blogspot.com/2008/...ddle-ages.html
    Last edited by Husein; 11-07-2009 at 11:07 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jack burden View Post
    I swear to god there better be a third side because libertarians are fucking idiots.
    To clarify, I was referring to those who believe in liberty and personal freedoms over government controls, not necessarily the political party of the same name... I'm talking about those that believe our country has strayed from its roots vs. those who think we're on the right track.
    I think there are plenty of strong feelings in the air but neither side is ready to mobilize and get aggressive. I wouldn't be surprised though if there were a series of polarizing events that became the tipping point and initiated a fight-or-flight response from the general population. This one would be much nastier because it wouldn't be North vs. South (geographic separation) but neighbor vs. neighbor depending basically on if you watch Fox News or read Huff Po. The leaning media will be the driver for all of this of course, because most people are too stupid to keep their TVs turned off and introspect for a moment. (it would start out as left vs. right but as the war waged on it would become the constitutionalists vs. status quo I mentioned above and get a lot more muddy in terms of any party lines)

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    ))) joke, relax ;) coqauvin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir View Post
    Syme, I think your claim that religion is not a fundamental part of the violence is dubious and naive. In certain parts of the world, Islam has become weaponised -- it is used, mostly by political leaders, to motivate its constituents to terrorism and hatred. Not because of the more bloodthirsty verses in the Koran (though they certainly make things easier) but because of its power as a religion, and one which is very much a fundamental part of people's lives (in the way that, for isntance, the Church of England isn't).
    I'm going to echo Syme's statement that religion is a vehicle for violence through which oppressed people pour their anger, frustration and confusion at their surroundings into, and if it wasn't religion to do it, another vehicle would be found. It's like a drainpipe in an eavestrough - even if it was clogged up, the water would still get out through one means or another, but that's not exactly the purpose of this post.

    You were talking about how using Islam to incite violence is possible in Arabic societies because of how integrated the religion is in their lives, and how this isn't the same in the Western world, with the Church of England as an example. Aside from pointing out a history of racist bigotry that used religious beliefs and quotations to justify and absolve bigots from their crimes in the southern United States several decades ago, there is still the issue of Protestant vs. Catholic Christians in Ireland, and the violence that's done to them. Hell, I remember reading a newspaper story about a Catholic school being built in a Protestant neighbourhood, and kids were getting rocks thrown at them on their way to school. How is this any different than supposedly sanctioned religious violence in Arabic communities? Fundamentally, the issue is still the same thing - people feel the urge to lash out, and religion seems to provide an outlet, regardless of what's contained in their holy books.

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    Quote Originally Posted by coqauvin View Post
    Aside from pointing out a history of racist bigotry that used religious beliefs and quotations to justify and absolve bigots from their crimes in the southern United States several decades ago, there is still the issue of Protestant vs. Catholic Christians in Ireland, and the violence that's done to them. Hell, I remember reading a newspaper story about a Catholic school being built in a Protestant neighbourhood, and kids were getting rocks thrown at them on their way to school.
    This is all perfectly valid and a good example which I was anticipating being brought up at some point, I agree religion can be and often is used as a vehicle for violence, Christianity is no exception. However I would disagree with this..

    Quote Originally Posted by coqauvin View Post
    ..oppressed people pour their anger, frustration and confusion at their surroundings into, and if it wasn't religion to do it, another vehicle would be found
    You seem to be arguing that violence is inevitable and religion is simply a channel through which people vent. I would say that more often the violence is a direct cause of the individuals strong belief or emotional attachment to the religion, and yes if it wasn't religion it would be something else.. a political view, a country, a family. Not because it provides a convenient excuse for their actions but because it is important to them and will cause them to be driven to the extremes of human behaviour it its name.

    Also, I'm not too sure about this..
    Quote Originally Posted by coqauvin View Post
    regardless of what's contained in their holy books.
    ..used in the context of the argument about whether the Quran is a book which encourages or justifies violence. As it does, and the Bible doesnt.
    Quote Originally Posted by <JANE> View Post
    This post was quite an effort to make, I hope it wont get lost.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Syme View Post
    What is the specific situation you are referring to? What I'm saying is that Muslims don't just go out and start killing apostates/infidels purely because they read it in the Qu'ran.
    Of course there are cultural aspects as well, but the primary source of "kill the apostates" is definitely the Koran. The Koran also outlines the ability/imperative to kill infidels as well as the reward for doing so.

    This is ESPECIALLY wrong, because 99% of the ways women are mistreated in various Muslim societies have absolutely zero basis in the scriptural content of the Qu'ran. [...] I don't disagree with your core assertion that "women are oppressed in Islamic states"; that is certainly true in many cases. Nor do I disagree that many Islamic societies have a long way to go on women's rights in general.
    So, perhaps you can understand why one would hold that these acts are predicate on the scriptural designation of women as lesser beings, beholden to male/husbandry's will. Also note that I never stated that this was limited to Islam; Christianity had its fair share of this as well, as did most other religions that held the "women submit to male will" view as cannon.
    [quote]

    Quote Originally Posted by jack burden View Post
    You've never heard anyone use the word towelhead? One can deride a religion but, in many cases, like with Judaism, people use the guide of criticizing a religion to also condemn a whole ethnic group/culture/society.
    "Towel heads" would be an attack on ethnicity and race, now wouldn't it? I'm failing to see your point here. I was simply pointing out that attacking Islam isn't inherently racist. It should be obvious that attacks framed against 'arabs' or 'towel heads' have little to do with religious criticism.
    Last edited by ephekt; 11-07-2009 at 04:41 PM.

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    Senior Member jack burden's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Atmosfear View Post
    How is this a misunderstanding at all? The Crusades were justified by reclaiming the holy land, furthering the true religion, etc. There was no passage in the Gospel that said, "Those who disrespect Christianity by non-believing must die at the hands of the true believer," nor were their promises of rewards in the afterlife for those who die for the jihad. You can manipulate any system of belief to ignoble ends if you so desire, but the Islamic texts don't even require manipulation; they require quoting.
    Well we have to accept that texts are open to interpretation and recognize who has the authority to do that interpretation. In both Islam and Christianity it has usually been scholars, but Catholicism has a recognized spiritual leader whose opinion on everything is revered by many.

    Quote Originally Posted by Woofness View Post
    Its a shame that you can make a half decent argument then follow it up with such an ignorant and pathetic statement.
    Shut up, puss
    Quote Originally Posted by Nermy2k View Post
    it's been 8 months since i posted in this thread and ayn rand is still dead

    we did it

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    Quote Originally Posted by coqauvin View Post
    You were talking about how using Islam to incite violence is possible in Arabic societies because of how integrated the religion is in their lives, and how this isn't the same in the Western world, with the Church of England as an example. Aside from pointing out a history of racist bigotry that used religious beliefs and quotations to justify and absolve bigots from their crimes in the southern United States several decades ago, there is still the issue of Protestant vs. Catholic Christians in Ireland, and the violence that's done to them.
    Oh absolutely -- I wasn't singling out Islam as The Violent Religion at all. All I was doing was pointing out the contrast between a religion like Islam is in certain places in the Mid East, and how it's able to be so effectively weaponised by political and religious leaders, and a religion like Church of England, which is mostly ineffectual and, in general, not able to stir up anything except tea.

    Protestantism is, as far as I'm aware, not the same thing as the Church of England, which is the Anglican Church. But I could be wrong. In any case, I don't think the example of the Irish Christians' war is the same thing as the religious warfare in the Middle East -- I only know so much about that particular conflict, but it doesn't seem like either Catholicism or Protestantism has been "weaponised" in anything like the same way; rather, there is a divide between the people and it's being fought over.

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    Also if you haven't noticed everyone seems to be an expert on Islam. They know all about what the Koran says, what Muslims think and how they act; they claim that they never hear Muslims denouncing violence but refuse to look at any relevant news sources. They also seem to lump together a billion people spanning from Morocco to Indonesia, with hundreds of different cultures and many interpretations and practices. There is obviously no point in learning anything about the religion or the people who practice it because we already know everything!
    Quote Originally Posted by Nermy2k View Post
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    we did it

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woofness View Post
    You seem to be arguing that violence is inevitable and religion is simply a channel through which people vent. I would say that more often the violence is a direct cause of the individuals strong belief or emotional attachment to the religion, and yes if it wasn't religion it would be something else.. a political view, a country, a family. Not because it provides a convenient excuse for their actions but because it is important to them and will cause them to be driven to the extremes of human behaviour it its name.
    It's true that religion can be used to encourage violence, but the heart of the issue is that if people didn't have the propensity to commit this violence in the first place, or found such violence abhorrent through any means (religious included), they wouldn't accept the religious justification for violence. The people who commit violence in these situations are ones who are willing to commit violence in the first place. It's the same effect of normally law-abiding citizens in a riot situation who turn to looting because it is suddenly considered socially acceptable, if only for a short time. When the contraints preventing the use of violence are loosed, it will be used by those who wish to use it, and it won't be used by those who don't normally turn to violence, or see it as an easy escape.

    Quote Originally Posted by Woofness
    ...used in the context of the argument about whether the Quran is a book which encourages or justifies violence. As it does, and the Bible doesnt.
    But the Bible does justify violence. There are numerous examples that I can think of that display extreme violence, for example, the battle of Jericho.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua 6:
    21And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.
    24And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.
    27So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country.
    Admittedly this is just an example of violence, but when we're speaking of religious texts, little more is needed. Any preacher wishing to whip his congregation into a fury could use this quotation to justify violence, for in spite of Joshua's egregious violence, "The LORD was with [him]; and his fame was noised throughout all the country." There are no negative consequences here for treating your enemies as though they were subhuman. Deuterotomy 20 gives instructions from God on how to make war on your enemy. Matthew 18 reinforces the concept that if there is an offending part of the whole, it's better to excise the part considered diseased than keep the body whole, which is an admittedly tenuous link that still supports the idea of complete removal of things that offend you. There is no concept of tolerance or acceptance in that, and this is easily subverted as a metaphor to use when preaching to your congregation. To top this off, Proverbs 20:30 says: "Blows and wounds cleanse away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being." How in all of this does the Bible not encourage violence, or is very easily subverted into doing so, which has the same effect as though the quotations directly incited violence? In terms of effect, there is no difference, and saying semantically there is is a poor argument, because that distinction has no measurable effect in reality.

    Look, I'm not Christian, nor have I ever read the Bible in its entirety, but it is not hard to find this stuff at all. I think most of this sentiment comes from some unwritten cultural belief that Christianity is anti-violence, which has about as much validity as the belief that the Bible never contradicts itself.

    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir View Post
    Oh absolutely -- I wasn't singling out Islam as The Violent Religion at all. All I was doing was pointing out the contrast between a religion like Islam is in certain places in the Mid East, and how it's able to be so effectively weaponised by political and religious leaders, and a religion like Church of England, which is mostly ineffectual and, in general, not able to stir up anything except tea.
    Well, yes, but this is a comparison of the best of one field to the worst of another. An accurate comparison would be one made between violent extremist groups in Islam and violent extremist groups in Christianity. Comparing a moderate, easy-going sect of Christianity with a violent extremist group is going to give an obvious result. I realize that you're making a comparison between groups in power, but the heart of the organizations in power is the real differentiator here. If the moderates of Islam were in power and the extremists of Christianity were in power, the same comparison between the two is still faulty.

    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir
    Protestantism is, as far as I'm aware, not the same thing as the Church of England, which is the Anglican Church. But I could be wrong. In any case, I don't think the example of the Irish Christians' war is the same thing as the religious warfare in the Middle East -- I only know so much about that particular conflict, but it doesn't seem like either Catholicism or Protestantism has been "weaponised" in anything like the same way; rather, there is a divide between the people and it's being fought over.
    It's still, at its heart, the same issue - religions being used to encourage violence. The particulars of justifications are more means to an end in this situations. In this case, this is how Christianity is used to encourage violence, although other examples exist in history, such as, most famously, the Spanish Inquisition. The assumption made before was that Christianity is a religion solely of peace and does not encourage violence, but there are plenty of historical and modern examples of it being used in these ways, the same as Islam. As Christ himself said, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone." Condemning another religion as violent without first looking at your own religion, and this still goes for anyone who lives in the Western world, because they all have close ties with Judeo-Christian ideology on a cultural level, is a foolish thing to do.
    Last edited by coqauvin; 11-08-2009 at 10:35 AM.

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    oh ok.
    Quote Originally Posted by <JANE> View Post
    This post was quite an effort to make, I hope it wont get lost.

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    Quote Originally Posted by coqauvin View Post
    Well, yes, but this is a comparison of the best of one field to the worst of another. An accurate comparison would be one made between violent extremist groups in Islam and violent extremist groups in Christianity. Comparing a moderate, easy-going sect of Christianity with a violent extremist group is going to give an obvious result. I realize that you're making a comparison between groups in power, but the heart of the organizations in power is the real differentiator here. If the moderates of Islam were in power and the extremists of Christianity were in power, the same comparison between the two is still faulty.



    It's still, at its heart, the same issue - religions being used to encourage violence. The particulars of justifications are more means to an end in this situations. In this case, this is how Christianity is used to encourage violence, although other examples exist in history, such as, most famously, the Spanish Inquisition. The assumption made before was that Christianity is a religion solely of peace and does not encourage violence, but there are plenty of historical and modern examples of it being used in these ways, the same as Islam. As Christ himself said, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone." Condemning another religion as violent without first looking at your own religion, and this still goes for anyone who lives in the Western world, because they all have close ties with Judeo-Christian ideology on a cultural level, is a foolish thing to do.
    I think you're misunderstanding me... I don't know of a religion that doesn't qualify as "violent", I just don't think they're all violent the same way. I'm not even saying Islam is the worst one -- I'm only saying it's uniquely used as a weapon.

    But you already know that I disagree with you about your first point, that religion only justifies violence that people were already going to commit. I find that absolutely naive. It may be true in some cases, but not in the majority. The Crusades. The Inquisition. Jihadism. The Holocaust (maybe). The Irish conflicts (maybe). We have no reason to think that those horrendous things would have happened anyway -- they are FOUNDED in religion. Honestly, with no religious motivation, do you think the conflics in the Mid East would be anything like they are now? I doubt there'd be one, let alone one this complex and violent.

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    Senior Member Syme's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir View Post
    I think you're misunderstanding me... I don't know of a religion that doesn't qualify as "violent", I just don't think they're all violent the same way. I'm not even saying Islam is the worst one -- I'm only saying it's uniquely used as a weapon.
    I'm not clear on the meaning of this "weapon" metaphor. When you say that Islam has been "weaponized", what exactly do you mean? That's not a very descriptive way of putting whatever you're trying to say about the differences between Islam's role in violence and the role of other religions in violence.

    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir
    But you already know that I disagree with you about your first point, that religion only justifies violence that people were already going to commit. I find that absolutely naive. It may be true in some cases, but not in the majority. The Crusades. The Inquisition. Jihadism. The Holocaust (maybe). The Irish conflicts (maybe). We have no reason to think that those horrendous things would have happened anyway -- they are FOUNDED in religion.
    THIS is what's naive. These incidences of violence aren't really founded in religion. The Crusades are a particularly obvious cause of conflicts with definite geopolitical causes underlying the surface-level coat of religious symbolism with which they were justified. The Crusades were initiated because the Byzantines requested military aid from Western Europe against the invading Seljuks, eagerly endorsed by the Popes for political reasons, and perpetuated by a combination of social and economic factors in Europe. The Spanish Inquisition is another easy one, it's political/social root causes are connected with the desire of Spanish Christian monarchs to weed out and remove elements within their kingdom that were perceived as politically/socially threatening or potentially undermining. They wanted a religiously homogeneous kingdom for political reasons, not because they were oh-so-devout and thought that it was what God wanted them to do.

    With all due respect, you are calling other people naive, but you are making arguments based on notions that anyone who has seriously studied this issue would have been disabused of very early on.

    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir
    Honestly, with no religious motivation, do you think the conflics in the Mid East would be anything like they are now? I doubt there'd be one, let alone one this complex and violent.
    Yes, without religious motivation, the Middle East would still be as messed up as it is today. Practically every conflict in the Middle East stems from root causes associated with things like land, mineral resources, water rights, mistreatment of one ethnic group by another, severe economic inequality, resentment of a population towards a corrupt political elite or non-democratic/repressive regime, and so on and so forth. The Iranian revolution and ensuing theocratic regime, plus the Iran-Iraq war? Check. Palestinian militancy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Definitely a check. The Arab-Israeli wars? Check. The Lebanese civil and subsequent violence? Double-check. Everything that's happened in Afghanistan since the Soviets invaded? Check. The violence that has afflicted Iraq since we invaded? Yes, you better believe it. These are only a handful of examples but like I said earlier, I practically guarantee you that you will not be able to come up with apparently religious conflicts that haven't had underlying non-religious causes.

    I appreciate that these conflicts have become so wrapped up in religion and religious justification that it's hard to see past those things, and it's very easy for an uninformed observer to say that religion "obviously" causes them. That doesn't make it true.

    Quote Originally Posted by ephekt
    Of course there are cultural aspects as well, but the primary source of "kill the apostates" is definitely the Koran. The Koran also outlines the ability/imperative to kill infidels as well as the reward for doing so.
    You're not understanding me. I realize that the Qur'an is the source of Islamic law mandating death for apostates, and in some places, justifying warfare against 'unbelievers'. Pointing that out isn't the same thing as proving that the actions of violent Islamic groups/sects are caused by those passages. Those passages are the justifications they use for violence that is, at it's root, motivated by other factors. So you're not really making an argument at all, just saying "nuh-uh" in response to those of use who are arguing that Qur'anic content isn't the cause of Islamic violence.



    Okay, sycld:

    Quote Originally Posted by sycld
    However, as you say, the common conduct of members of a religion is just as much a part of the religion as strictly what is canonical or doctrinal.
    Yeah, I don't disagree that there are more violently-inclined Muslims (or at least more violent Muslim groups/organizations) in the world today than there are violently-inclined Christians or Christian groups. What I disagree with is attributing this to something that's intrinsic to the character of Islam itself, and saying that Islam is violent by it's nature.

    Quote Originally Posted by sycld
    Regardless of what is stipulated in the Qu'ran or whether Jihad is defined as a more metaphysical struggle rather than a truly military one, there is something fundamentally wrong with modern Islamic culture.
    This is a blanket statement and while I understand what you're trying to say, I don't agree with the way you've put it. There is no such thing as a unitary "Islamic culture". Islam accounts for about one quarter of the world's population, ~1.5 billion people. They have a shared religion but not a shared culture. The cultural diversity and diversity of thought within the Islamic world is immense, as it would be within any other group of that size, geographical distribution, and varied historical and ethnic background.

    I'd be comfortable saying that there are severe cultural problems in many parts of the Islamic world; or that many Islamic societies/states/populations have such problems. I would avoid blanket statements, though, because they are practically guaranteed to be inaccurate in a case like this.

    Quote Originally Posted by scyld
    Unfortunately, the reality is that Muslims with moderate attitudes regarding their faith, tolerance of other religions, and who believe in non-violent resolutions to conflicts are in the minority.
    This is a statistical claim; what's your source? Most of the info I've seen on this topic (and I've seen a lot, since it’s a huge part of my field) seems to support the opposite conclusion, at least with regard to actual terrorism/violence. I can't recall ever having seen that much data about tolerance for other religions or similar issues, but at the very least I feel confident arguing that a majority of Muslims don't support terrorism/violence. Do your own research and see how many reputable studies you can actually find saying that a majority of Muslims believe the things you say they do.

    And even insofar as Muslims do support violence, I’d be careful attributing that entirely or even largely to Islam. I feel pretty comfortable saying that if you put non-Muslims into the same historical/social/economic/political conditions that we see Muslim violence/terrorism emerging from today, plenty of them would similarly support or sympathize with the use of violence against their perceived oppressors. They wouldn’t dress their struggle up in Islamic religious trappings as Hamas and Hizballah and al-Qaeda do, but the basic effect upon them would be the same (they’d find another ‘vehicle’ for their violence instead of radicalized Islam).

    Quote Originally Posted by sycld
    That's not to say that there aren't perverse practices justified through religion amongst adherents to other faiths. But none are so widespread as they are in Islam.
    I don’t necessarily disagree, I’m just disagreeing that many of these practices come from the teachings of Islam, rather than some other source.

    Quote Originally Posted by sycld
    Just take a look at countries ran by Muslims. Most of them cannot separate church and state. As my father said who taught English in Saudi Arabia for a year, there the Christian Bible is (or at least was) treated the same way as pornography. Turkey is secular through a rather brutal enforcement of social secularism.
    This I don’t disagree with; the biggest single problem I do see with Islam is that basic Islamic scripture—Qur’anic scripture—makes zero distinction between church and state. This IS a problem with Islam (and Turkey’s solution, while I agree with it in principle, really just exacerbates the problem they’re trying to fight in some ways—they need to wise up and realize that banning political parties doesn’t do away with the social attitudes that caused those parties to emerge, it just strengthens them and the banned parties always reform within a few years, e.g. AKP and Felicity came out of Virtue Party, which itself came out of Welfare Party and the MNP/MSP before). Anyhow: Yeah, failure to separate church and state is a problem that most Islamic countries have to some extent—in cases like Saudi Arabia and Iran, it’s near-total.

    At the same time, though, I think it’s rather unfair to entirely blame Islam itself for the failure of Islamic societies to adopt and internalize the Western invention of church/state separation. It’s definitely a problem within the Islamic world but its roots lie not only in Qur’anic scripture, but—like religious violence—in other factors. In other words, just as we have to ask why religious sects and groups form around violent ideas in the first place, we have to ask why Islamic societies haven’t embraced church/state separation nearly as readily as Western societies (or alternately, why Islamist political groups have been able to seize power in Muslim societies and create governments like that of Iran). The ayatollahs never would have been able to come to power in Iran, for instance, if a history of Western political/economic interference and the tyranny and ineptitude of the Western-backed Shah hadn’t created the social and political climate of 1979. The basic mechanism is the same one that I’ve been talking about this whole thread with regard to violence. Again, I don’t disagree that Qur’anic content shoulders some of the blame for Islamic societies’ failure to separate church and state, but it’s far from the only cause. A number of Muslim states would probably have much more secular governments and cultures today if not for various foreign policy decisions on the part of the US and Britain especially.

    It’s also important, when discussing Muslim societies where there is no church/state separation, not to confuse the abuses of particular rulers with what Islam mandates politically. The fact that the Qur’an recognizes no church/state separation doesn’t mean it supports or advocates many of the things that go on in Islamic states—the repression, the terrible treatment of non-Muslims, the draconian legal codes, and so forth. Most of the Wahhabi dickery we see in Saudi Arabia, for instance, was invented by the Wahhabis themselves and not taken from the Qur’an. The same goes for most of the repression practiced by the Iranian government.

    Quote Originally Posted by sycld
    Even Malaysia, the largest Muslim state with a rather religiously diverse population, forces all ethnic Malayas to submit to Shrariah law, and the Shariah courts rulings can countermand any ruling from a secular court.
    This isn’t at all accurate—who told you this? The Malaysian legal system is based on English common law with a parallel sharia system which is only applied to Muslims, usually only in non-criminal matters. There have been proposals that it be expanded to apply to all Malaysians regardless of religion, but currently it does not; the only set of laws that apply to all Malaysians is the country’s secular common law-based system. I don’t like Malaysia’s system and it does violate the principle of separating church and state, but not nearly as egregiously as you claim it does.

    Quote Originally Posted by sycld
    The latest "Islamic state" is Chechnya, where a Muslim was elected as president of this constituent state of Russia. At first the Kremlin was quite supportive of him, as they looked upon him as someone who could bring peace to the region and solidify Russian control of the region. Now, he's forcing all women to wear Hijab, supports honor killings, and is otherwise stripping Chechnyans of their human rights in the name of Islam.
    He might be doing it in the name of Islam but that doesn’t mean he’s actually adhering to anything in Islamic teachings. Ramzan Kadyrov’s rule has about the same relationship to Islam that Tomas de Torquemada’s activities had to Christianity. I appreciate that it’s example of the repression that exists in some Islamic societies but I don’t think there is much of good argument that this repression occurs because Islam says it should.

    Honor killings especially are not advocated or called for in the Qur’an and have nothing to do with Islam even if the people committing them try to pretend otherwise. The fact that so many Westerners have come under the contrary impression is especially sad.

    Quote Originally Posted by sycld
    Sure, in India, there are Hindu extremists. There are Hindu terrorists. There was even some legitimate cause for concern when a party with Hindu fundamentalists leanings had controlled the central government for a time. But India is still at its heart a secular democracy, with free religious expression and an open society. The current prime minister is, in fact, a Sikh and not a Hindu (and by and large a very good leader). Pakistan, on the other hand, is a hotbed of Islamic extremism with an small educated population under siege by a larger population of poor uneducated people leaning towards extremism and a military that often supports militant fundamentalism against the wishes of its civilian government. There is little tolerance for practice of any religion other than Islam. Pakistan is poorer than India, yes, but before the partition of these two states Lahore was a cosmopolitan and diverse city.
    I think Pakistan’s situation is a lot more complicated than you are implying, though. It isn’t a convincing argument to suggest that just because Lahore was a cosmopolitan city before partition, Pakistan as a whole had same conditions and ‘potential’ as India at the time of partition and therefore should have developed in the same way, and Islam is to blame for the fact that it hasn’t. Pakistan was not in the same condition as India at the time of partition, and it did not go into the post-partition era with the same circumstances, prospects, and internal issues, and its history has been shaped by some very different external factors too.

    If we want to get into a discussion about the specifics of why India and Pakistan have gone in different directions since partition, I think it should have its own thread. I’d be quite happy to participate in it. Here, let it suffice to say that I don’t agree that the blame for Pakistan’s problems can be laid at the feet of Islam, and that your argument to that effect is uncompelling. Lahore’s pre-partition character doesn’t mean much in regard to this question.
    Last edited by coqauvin; 11-09-2009 at 02:02 PM. Reason: closed up a quote box

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    feel like funkin' it up gwahir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Syme View Post
    I'm not clear on the meaning of this "weapon" metaphor. When you say that Islam has been "weaponized", what exactly do you mean? That's not a very descriptive way of putting whatever you're trying to say about the differences between Islam's role in violence and the role of other religions in violence.
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Syme View Post
    THIS is what's naive. These incidences of violence aren't really founded in religion. The Crusades are a particularly obvious cause of conflicts with definite geopolitical causes underlying the surface-level coat of religious symbolism with which they were justified. The Crusades were initiated because the Byzantines requested military aid from Western Europe against the invading Seljuks, eagerly endorsed by the Popes for political reasons, and perpetuated by a combination of social and economic factors in Europe. The Spanish Inquisition is another easy one, it's political/social root causes are connected with the desire of Spanish Christian monarchs to weed out and remove elements within their kingdom that were perceived as politically/socially threatening or potentially undermining. They wanted a religiously homogeneous kingdom for political reasons, not because they were oh-so-devout and thought that it was what God wanted them to do.
    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?

    Would the butchery of the Crusades have gone down in history?

    Would the Spanish Christian monarchs have wanted an otherwise homogenous kingdom? Did they?

    Would there be land conflics over the very glorious Iraqi landscape without religion? Would anyone care what happened to the little tiny scrap of land that forms what's known as Israel? Why would there be fights over oil or refugees if the land itself wasn't so god damn holy?

    I'm serious on the convincing me part.

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    ))) joke, relax ;) coqauvin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir View Post
    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?
    Certainly. The continual push of movements such as the Crusades had more to do with wealth and acquiring it as well and political power struggles more so than the dressing of religion. Religion, in these cases, is the vehicle through which the leader exercises his control over the masses, getting them on their side and willing to fight and die, but it's not the only vehicle that's used. Nationalism has been used in the past, much to the same effect. Your argument is analogous to: "If there wasn't any such thing as the idea of a nation, would all these countries have fought each other or so severely?" It's not addressing the initial urge for the fights, but instead the dressing that's used to encourage the violence - addressing the symptoms and not the illness itself.

    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir
    Would there be land conflics over the very glorious Iraqi landscape without religion? Would anyone care what happened to the little tiny scrap of land that forms what's known as Israel? Why would there be fights over oil or refugees if the land itself wasn't so god damn holy?
    Of course there would still be fights over oil - don't be naive. Any static resource that's consumed on that level means large countries need to ensure a proper supply to feed their demand and if conflicts are what's required to ensure this, they would exist. To question what would happen to the state of Israel without religion is a massive can of worms that doesn't solve anything. If you remove the religious reasoning of wanting a holy land, you still have a group of people outcasting another group of people from what the latter sees as their homeland - do you honestly think there would be no hostilities after that point? An example of this is the protests that Native Canadians hold in various parts of the country when the government starts shitting on them. Admittedly, we're less violent in Canada, but that's a combination of culture and the fact that, in spite of the injustice, our basic needs are being met. We don't live in a warzone, we have access to clean water, food and shelter, which many of the Palestinians do not have. Because the Palestinians don't have these basic necessities, their fight becomes that much more desperate, and that much more violent because of it. The anger that's there is less religious in nature than it is addressing more visceral needs, such as food, water, shelter and the fact that the current generation was forcibly removed from their homes by an external force so another external force could live there. Religion fits into this as the vehicle through which the anger at the oppressed's circumstances vents itself through violence. Removing it won't solve the problem.

    edit: feel free to ignore this last paragraph and question. Gwahir, you already asked this question in another way, and Syme answered with more detail at the beginning of his gigantic post, so I don't know why you'd ask it again.

    editedit: Man, Syme answered all of these questions already in the response you quoted him in - you're asking for slightly more detail and not bothering to look into it yourself, while clinging to your already established, underresearched beliefs that support your detest of organized religion. The issue here is that you're still concentrating on a symptom, on the vehicle through which the initial urge moves. The initial urge, or the illness in this mixed metaphor, is the political desires of the leaders at that time, all of which were concerned more with personal wealth and glory than the sanctimony they clothed their reasoning in. That a government would want a homogenous population is pretty obvious - it's easier to control a single unified mass than it is a hodgepodge of cultures. Look at America as an example, because there are so many different cultural groups vying for attention and power, there cannot be any dictatorial control over the country. Spain in the time of the Inquisition is a different story, and they could, through the vehicle of religion, control their population in a dictatorial fashion.

    You're basically saying, over and over again, that if a murderer stabbed someone with a knife in his right hand, if we cut off his right hand, or had it never existed in the first place, than clearly nobody would have been killed by him. We're saying that the violent desires or causes that make this metaphorical murderer act are still present, and another means would be found for him to accomplish his goals, regardless of whether or not the hand was present.
    Last edited by coqauvin; 11-09-2009 at 02:37 PM.

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    λεγιων ονομα μοι sycld's Avatar
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    I'll address other points of yours, Syme, if I get to them. However,

    Quote Originally Posted by Syme View Post
    This isn’t at all accurate—who told you this? The Malaysian legal system is based on English common law with a parallel sharia system which is only applied to Muslims, usually only in non-criminal matters. There have been proposals that it be expanded to apply to all Malaysians regardless of religion, but currently it does not; the only set of laws that apply to all Malaysians is the country’s secular common law-based system. I don’t like Malaysia’s system and it does violate the principle of separating church and state, but not nearly as egregiously as you claim it does.
    All ethnic Malays are considered to be Muslim by the government. Thus, it is true at least that all native Malays are forced to submit to Sharia courts.

    Perhaps the matters they rule on are relatively trivial compared to the secular courts; that I do not know.
    Last edited by sycld; 11-10-2009 at 04:57 PM.


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