Salman Rushdie condemns ‘hate-filled rhetoric’ of Islamic fanaticism, The Telegraph:
It’s hard not to conclude that this hate-filled religious rhetoric, pouring from the mouths of ruthless fanatics into the ears of angry young men, has become the most dangerous new weapon in the world today.
If the rhetoric is the weapon then let’s find out why are we seeing so many taking it up today? Recent generations have seen several enemies — the rhetoric of nationalism, the rhetoric of corporate capitalism, the rhetoric of state socialism — and this is a new one. What has led to its emergence?
A word I dislike greatly, ‘Islamophobia’, has been coined to discredit those who point at these excesses, by labelling them as bigots. . . .
It is right to feel phobia towards such matters. . . . To feel aversion towards such a force is not bigotry. It is the only possible response to the horror of events.
I can’t, as a citizen, avoid speaking of the horror of the world in this new age of religious mayhem, and of the language that conjures it up and justifies it, so that young men, including young Britons, led towards acts of extreme bestiality, believe themselves to be fighting a just war.
Salman Rushdie does not like the word Islamophobia but at the same time he self-servingly (probably without realizing it) distorts its meaning and the way it is used. I return to this word below where I address a Sam Harris quote.
Salman Rushdie is telling us that it is “language that conjures it up”. The image is one of Islamic violence that has been smouldering for centuries like a vulcanic demon impatiently waiting beneath the surface of a bubbling geothermal mud pool for someone to chant the terrible magic words to unleash it.
Rushdie’s failure to reference any historical thinking, or any political-social understanding, is distressing and a little frightening.
It’s fair to say that more than one religion deserves scrutiny. . . . .
But the overwhelming weight of the problem lies in the world of Islam, and much of it has its roots in the ideological language of blood and war emanating from the Salafist movement within Islam, globally backed by Saudi Arabia.
The Muslim Brotherhood in post-Mubarak Egypt 2013-08-19
End of Faith and Other Pulp Fiction 2013-06-07
Honour Killing (from Inside Muslim Minds) 2013-05-28
Is Islam Compatible With Democracy? 2013-05-08
Why Haven’t Muslims Condemned Terrorism? 2013-05-01
Islam, the Untold Story 2013-03-10
Orientalism, Us, and Islam 2013-04-22
Damned Lies, Statistics, and Muslims 2013-04-13
Islamophobia and (some?) New Atheists 2013-04-06
And more directly on terrorism:
And many others. . . . (including three others in the Terrorism Facts series, motivations and goals of terrorists, predictors of those likely to become terrorists, studies by those who have interviewed and closely observed terrorists and terrorist organizations. . . )
The problem lies “in the world of Islam”? What are the boundaries of that world? Does that world encompass the Middle East, Arabs, and all Muslims under the one black flag?
Why is it that Buddhism and Hinduism and each of the three Abrahamic religions take their respective turns in history to act the barbarian.
This question is fundamental. Muslims in Myanmar being slaughtered by Buddhists would be wasting their time excoriating Buddhism. Christians don’t typically blame Christianity for the massacres and terror Christians have historically perpetrated (in the name of their God) in the Middle East, the Americas, Europe itself. The Shinto mindset among the Japanese today does not conjure up images of the horrific early to mid twentieth century massacres.”True” Christianity is never blamed for the nineteenth century Chinese rebellion in the name of Christ that resulted in the slaughter of tens of millions. Even though the Boxers boasted the inspiration of Taoist and Buddhist spirits, belief in those ancestral spirits is not generally blamed for the barbaric tortures and deaths inflicted by those Chinese rebels. And so one could go on.
For some reason we tend to identify non-religious reasons for the worst excesses of religious violence in the above cases. So why don’t we do the same with Islam? The Muslims who perpetrate barbarism today also spell out very clearly some non-religious motivations so we do have the opportunity to judge them by the same standard we judge others.
But maybe some blame should be laid at the feet of human ability to believe all of the above unverifiable systems and their related spirit entities. By targeting just one manifestation of religiously justified violence are we not targeting the symptoms instead of the fundamental “disease”?
We are going to have to end up talking with our enemies at some point. To do that is going to require some understanding of the other point of view.
And one from Sam Harris:
We’ve been sold this meme of Islamophobia where every criticism of the doctrine of Islam gets conflated with bigotry towards Muslims as people. It’s intellectually ridiculous.
Here we have disingenuous confusion. All Harris has to do, he would like to believe, is merely express a little honest criticism of a religious doctrine that denies modern liberal values to be branded an Islamophobe. (That is not the Meaning of Islamophobia at all, but we are dealing with rhetoric, not understanding.)
I have up till now posted on the public controversy surrounding the Muslim religion, including many posts on terrorism, attempting to tap into the findings that specialist scholarly research has brought to these questions.
Jerry Coyne posts on these topics, too, but his research seems rarely to have dug any deeper than finding a website that backs his gut feelings fueled by mainstream media. As with my posts on biblical topics and religious origins I prefer to try to bring in a perspective from sound research, including research into the way mass media works, and (hopefully) some consistency of thought. Glance through some of my previous posts to see the range of scholarship these posts have drawn upon.
The Political Agenda
An internationally recognized journalist, Lana Asfour, recently identified the political subtext of so much of today’s hostility expressed towards Muslims. The questions I have raised are to me inevitable responses to the inconsistencies and cloudiness throughout Salmon Rushdie’s and Sam Harris’s complaints. What is it that explains these inconsistencies and ignorant generalizations?
[W]hat is the overriding agenda? Trashing Islam is about disseminating simplistic ideas that lend support to precise political goals, and it allows supporters of certain aspects of US foreign policy to justify past, present, and future mistakes. If American voters can be given the impression that most Muslims are sexist, homophobic, intolerant fanatics who murder and behead at the drop of a hat, then they may just believe that it is necessary to invade countries in which Muslims are the majority – it hardly matters which country, as long as wrecking its political, economic, and social fabric serves the primary goals of controlling oil resources, profiting from the arms trade, and allowing Israel to feel safe (irrespective of whether its feelings of insecurity correspond to reality).
The primary example of this in recent times was going to war in Iraq in 2003, which took place despite the largest international anti-war protests that have ever taken place, and which directly contributed to creating extremists on the ground. The perfectly rational idea that the overwhelming majority of Muslims want peace, political freedom, economic comfort, and education for their children, is far too dangerous for leaders, their advisers, and the powerful pundits who support them and disseminate a particular message, as it would require them to look reality in the eye and make decisions based on it. (Lana Asfour, Why is Ben Affleck defending Islam?)
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