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Unwitting Propaganda and Islam vs. Human Rights

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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21 March 2019 16:14
 

The central ideas in Islam have survived, largely unchanged, for 1400 years. These ideas include: supremacism, misogyny, anti-semitism, theocratic rule, homophobia, and a lack of freedom of religion. In short, Islam is not a religion, it is a dangerous totalitarian ideology that happens to have a religious facet. Islam flies in the face of modern human rights and secularism.

When we pretend that Islam is tolerant, we are - wittingly or not - spreading propaganda.
When we cry “Islamophobia”, we are spreading propaganda.
When we speak up against prejudice towards Muslims, we are spreading propaganda.
When we say that we have some friends who are Muslims and that they are nice people, we are spreading propaganda.
When we say that we should try to integrate Muslims into Western society, we are spreading propaganda.
When we say Islam is just another religion, we are spreading propaganda.
When we say that most Muslims aren’t fundamentalists, we’re both wrong, AND we are spreading propaganda.
When we promote tolerances for Muslims, we are spreading propaganda.
And so on.

Muslims are not a race. (It’s amazing that we have to keep saying this.) Being a Muslim is a choice*. (*And if you care to bring up the fact that for hundreds of millions of Muslims, being Muslim is NOT a choice, due to apostasy punishments, then you’re helping me make my case.)

Being a Muslim is a behavior of a sort. When a child misbehaves, we love the child, but we correct the behavior. In a similar way, since being a Muslim is a bad behavior, we should love the person who claims to be a Muslim, but not accept the behavior.

To be clear, we should always strive to be compassionate in our dealings. But to accept Islam is to be guilty of soft bigotry. As others on this forum have indicated, to be born and raised a Muslim often means that you have NOT really been taught to think. To pretend that this is not the case is cruel, not compassionate. To pretend that Islam is benign, is to help seal the fate of hundreds of millions of people who were born with the horrible anchor of Islam hanging from their necks.

 
 
burt
 
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burt
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21 March 2019 16:47
 
icehorse - 21 March 2019 04:14 PM

The central ideas in Islam have survived, largely unchanged, for 1400 years. These ideas include: supremacism, misogyny, anti-semitism, theocratic rule, homophobia, and a lack of freedom of religion. In short, Islam is not a religion, it is a dangerous totalitarian ideology that happens to have a religious facet. Islam flies in the face of modern human rights and secularism.

When we pretend that Islam is tolerant, we are - wittingly or not - spreading propaganda.
When we cry “Islamophobia”, we are spreading propaganda.
When we speak up against prejudice towards Muslims, we are spreading propaganda.
When we say that we have some friends who are Muslims and that they are nice people, we are spreading propaganda.
When we say that we should try to integrate Muslims into Western society, we are spreading propaganda.
When we say Islam is just another religion, we are spreading propaganda.
When we say that most Muslims aren’t fundamentalists, we’re both wrong, AND we are spreading propaganda.
When we promote tolerances for Muslims, we are spreading propaganda.
And so on.

Muslims are not a race. (It’s amazing that we have to keep saying this.) Being a Muslim is a choice*. (*And if you care to bring up the fact that for hundreds of millions of Muslims, being Muslim is NOT a choice, due to apostasy punishments, then you’re helping me make my case.)

Being a Muslim is a behavior of a sort. When a child misbehaves, we love the child, but we correct the behavior. In a similar way, since being a Muslim is a bad behavior, we should love the person who claims to be a Muslim, but not accept the behavior.

To be clear, we should always strive to be compassionate in our dealings. But to accept Islam is to be guilty of soft bigotry. As others on this forum have indicated, to be born and raised a Muslim often means that you have NOT really been taught to think. To pretend that this is not the case is cruel, not compassionate. To pretend that Islam is benign, is to help seal the fate of hundreds of millions of people who were born with the horrible anchor of Islam hanging from their necks.

If you truly believe this, it is your duty to try and enlighten those Muslims who you hold as friends. What else are friends for then to help us find the error of our ways?

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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21 March 2019 17:25
 

burt:

If you truly believe this, it is your duty to try and enlighten those Muslims who you hold as friends. What else are friends for then to help us find the error of our ways?

It’s not out of the question.

But for me step 1 is already underway, I never give cover to Islam. That in itself is an important step that many us have not taken.

 
 
no_profundia
 
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no_profundia
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21 March 2019 22:23
 

The central ideas in Islam have survived, largely unchanged, for 1400 years. These ideas include: supremacism, misogyny, anti-semitism, theocratic rule, homophobia, and a lack of freedom of religion.

Have you read anything about the history of Islam that was not written by severe critics of Islam?

When we pretend that Islam is tolerant, we are - wittingly or not - spreading propaganda.
When we cry “Islamophobia”, we are spreading propaganda.
When we speak up against prejudice towards Muslims, we are spreading propaganda.
When we say that we have some friends who are Muslims and that they are nice people, we are spreading propaganda.
When we say that we should try to integrate Muslims into Western society, we are spreading propaganda.
When we say Islam is just another religion, we are spreading propaganda.
When we say that most Muslims aren’t fundamentalists, we’re both wrong, AND we are spreading propaganda.
When we promote tolerances for Muslims, we are spreading propaganda.
And so on.

I would say a good definition of propaganda is: a biased presentation of facts meant to further a political agenda. Your view of Islam definitely fits that definition. I don’t think it is informed and it is definitely meant to further a political agenda. I think the opposite of propaganda is nuance and I think it is far more nuanced (and accurate) to recognize that Islam is an incredibly complex phenomenon that cannot be reduced to a few simple statements.

I have repeatedly provided evidence in the past that Muslim views on things like homosexuality, etc. eventually begin to mirror their new home countries without it being necessary for them to stop identifying as Muslim. The evidence seemed to have no effect in the past so I doubt it will have any effect now but here is the evidence again:

https://www.pewforum.org/2017/07/26/political-and-social-views/pf_2017-06-26_muslimamericans-04new-06/

Telling Muslims that they are doomed to always be viewed as totalitarian bigots as long as they continue to believe in God, engage in prayer, visit a mosque regularly, socialize with other Muslims, etc., no matter what they actually believe about politics, misogyny, homosexuality, etc. is stupid and counter-productive.

Refusing to adopt a ridiculously caricatured view of Islam is not “giving cover” to Islam. It is facing up to the complexity of reality. Admitting that reality is complex does not require us to compromise on values like freedom of religion, sexual equality, tolerance for all different sexual orientations, etc. To claim that we have to gouge out one of our eyes, and pretend the world is more black and white than it really is, in order to uphold those values is a grave mistake.

You are alienating people (like me) who agree with your values but cannot accept your simplistic view of the world and the people in it.

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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22 March 2019 08:19
 

no-pro:

Have you read anything about the history of Islam that was not written by severe critics of Islam?

I would say that I’ve read and watched apologetic histories of Islam. For example I’ve read Karen Armstrong’s biography of Muhammad. But frankly I’m more interested in recent history. For example, it’s telling that over the last 100 years or so Christianity has virtually disappeared from Turkey. And it appears that Islam is eradicating all other religions from the ME.

no-pro:

I would say a good definition of propaganda is: a biased presentation of facts meant to further a political agenda. Your view of Islam definitely fits that definition

I’m okay with your definition. And I’m happy to agree that I’m biased towards Universal Human Rights. I think I’ve been clear on that point correct?

no-pro:

I have repeatedly provided evidence in the past that Muslim views on things like homosexuality, etc. eventually begin to mirror their new home countries without it being necessary for them to stop identifying as Muslim. The evidence seemed to have no effect in the past so I doubt it will have any effect now but here is the evidence again:

I recall reviewing this poll before, probably at your request. I’d like to point out the question (from the poll you cite), concerning those who see conflict between Islam and democracy. For me this is slide 6. 59% of Muslims say that Islam and democracy are not compatible. 62% of the general public agrees with this incompatibility.

The slide you pointed to is in regards to attitudes about homosexuality. It is indeed gratifying to see that Muslims views towards homosexuality are softening. That said, such softening would seem to strengthen the case for a reformed Islam.

no-pro:

...a ridiculously caricatured view of Islam…

Of course I don’t believe in a monolithic view of Islam. But if we zoom out and look at world-wide attitudes and trends, we can see that in the large, about half the world’s Muslims believe what their scripture tells them to believe. I’ve said this over and over again. The very claim admits to my non-monolithic view, but I’m still accused of over-simplifying. I’m worried about those 800 million. In this response please notice that I’m attempting to stick to facts about large trends and populations.

no-pro:

...your simplistic view of the world and the people in it.

The hard sciences, public policy, social studies, psychology, and anthropology - among many disciplines - all rely heavily on statistics. We must make models to understand the world. All models are simplifications. So it seems that what you really need to demonstrate is whether the claims I’ve made are too simplistic, or reasonably simplistic. It seems to me - if you look at how religions and human rights are ebbing and flowing around the globe - it’s a very fair general conclusion that Islam is intolerant. Of course there will be isolated counter examples. But again, if we’re disciplined, we need to rely on stats.

 
 
burt
 
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burt
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22 March 2019 09:03
 

I agree with no_pro. Muslims I know definitely do not fit the bill as you describe, and back in the early 70s when I lived in Iran (which at the time had thriving Jewish and Bahai populations) I found Muslims that I interacted with (admittedly they were Western educated for the most part, although there was also a mullah who was the brother of an academic friend) quite liberal in their views. I suspect that while you have read some, you are missing a historical perspective and so conflating Islam with other cultural aspects in the Middle East (pretty easy to do). Female genital mutilation, for example, is not an aspect of Islam, is not practiced by the vast majority of Muslims, and comes from cultural practices that predated Islam. Likewise with “honor” killings. The problem, of course, is separating out the religion from the culture as a whole when there are entangled in the minds of people.

There is also another factor: 1000 years ago the Islamic world was the highest point of human civilization. Ditto 500 years ago. People in the Middle East remember this. 1000 years ago your description of Islam today would have fit Christianity. A point made by Doris Lessing in her book Prisons We Choose to Live Inside. She also made another point: that when a people emerge from being controlled for centuries by a tyrannical system of thought, they will have been so conditioned to this that many of them will look around for some other tyrannical system as a replacement. Coupling this with the sociological observation that when a culture finds itself confronted by another, materially more powerful culture (as with the Middle East and the West for the past couple of hundred years) one of the major effects will be a rise of a rigid fundamentalism (this is seen today not only in the rise of fundamentalist Islam, but also with evangelical Christianity, and white nationalism). Over time, this fails and (as with Christianity) cultural accommodation takes place. So on the one hand, not allowing the fundamentalists to force their way, but on the other not opposing them so strongly that moderates are forced toward fundamentalism because they feel an identity threat (we want moderates to feel the identity threat coming from the fundamentalists of their own persuasion).

 
no_profundia
 
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no_profundia
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22 March 2019 09:09
 

For me this is slide 6. 59% of Muslims say that Islam and democracy are not compatible. 62% of the general public agrees with this incompatibility.

Thank you for your response icehorse. I don’t have time to respond in detail. I will probably respond more this evening but you are misreading this statistic. That slide is saying that 59% of the Muslims who think democracy and Islam are incompatible do so for the reasons in that top tier.

Look at the section “Most Muslims say Islam and Democracy are Compatible” here and you will see that a majority of Muslims in the US believe they are compatible:

https://www.pewforum.org/2017/07/26/political-and-social-views/

Also, most Muslims in the world want democracy:

https://www.pewglobal.org/2012/07/10/most-muslims-want-democracy-personal-freedoms-and-islam-in-political-life/

 

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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22 March 2019 09:12
 
no_profundia - 22 March 2019 09:09 AM

For me this is slide 6. 59% of Muslims say that Islam and democracy are not compatible. 62% of the general public agrees with this incompatibility.

Thank you for your response icehorse. I don’t have time to respond in detail. I will probably respond more this evening but you are misreading this statistic. That slide is saying that 59% of the Muslims who think democracy and Islam are incompatible do so for the reasons in that top tier.

Look at the section “Most Muslims say Islam and Democracy are Compatible” here and you will see that a majority of Muslims in the US believe they are compatible:

https://www.pewforum.org/2017/07/26/political-and-social-views/

Also, most Muslims in the world want democracy:

https://www.pewglobal.org/2012/07/10/most-muslims-want-democracy-personal-freedoms-and-islam-in-political-life/

What might be interesting to noodle on is whether Sharia and democracy can co-exist - they seem mostly orthogonal? In other words, we could have a society in which we elect leaders AND in which the courts are driven by Sharia, correct?

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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22 March 2019 09:16
 

Hey burt,

As I’ve said, I have friends who are Muslims. Personal experience doesn’t mean much when we’re talking about 1.8 billion people and global trends.

As for Islamic history, while yours seems apologetically biased, but even if it’s not, I don’t see much relevance to 2019. Can you connect the dots and explain how the so-called “golden age” (which we could dispute elsewhere), is relevant in 2019?

 
 
burt
 
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22 March 2019 09:35
 
icehorse - 22 March 2019 09:16 AM

Hey burt,

As I’ve said, I have friends who are Muslims. Personal experience doesn’t mean much when we’re talking about 1.8 billion people and global trends.

As for Islamic history, while yours seems apologetically biased, but even if it’s not, I don’t see much relevance to 2019. Can you connect the dots and explain how the so-called “golden age” (which we could dispute elsewhere), is relevant in 2019?

It’s relevant because many Middle Eastern Muslims know that once their culture was the highest in the world. There is a “what happened” attitude that gets answered by Wahhabbi fundamentalists who say “we need to return to the good old days” without understanding that one aspect of the good old days was a tolerant attitude toward science and other religions, or that much of what they claim is Islamic is really cultural detritus. Goes with the saying that nothing concentrates the mind so much as knowing you’ll be hung in the morning, although in this case what happens is a narrowing of focus.

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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22 March 2019 13:18
 
burt - 22 March 2019 09:35 AM
icehorse - 22 March 2019 09:16 AM

Hey burt,

As I’ve said, I have friends who are Muslims. Personal experience doesn’t mean much when we’re talking about 1.8 billion people and global trends.

As for Islamic history, while yours seems apologetically biased, but even if it’s not, I don’t see much relevance to 2019. Can you connect the dots and explain how the so-called “golden age” (which we could dispute elsewhere), is relevant in 2019?

It’s relevant because many Middle Eastern Muslims know that once their culture was the highest in the world. There is a “what happened” attitude that gets answered by Wahhabbi fundamentalists who say “we need to return to the good old days” without understanding that one aspect of the good old days was a tolerant attitude toward science and other religions, or that much of what they claim is Islamic is really cultural detritus. Goes with the saying that nothing concentrates the mind so much as knowing you’ll be hung in the morning, although in this case what happens is a narrowing of focus.

This is an interesting perspective. It might work, or it could backfire. One thing I hear a lot is that apologists claim that Islam is the way it is “because western interventions”. This golden age angle might lead to “because western interventions” responses, which would be counter-productive.

 
 
burt
 
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22 March 2019 14:13
 
icehorse - 22 March 2019 01:18 PM
burt - 22 March 2019 09:35 AM
icehorse - 22 March 2019 09:16 AM

Hey burt,

As I’ve said, I have friends who are Muslims. Personal experience doesn’t mean much when we’re talking about 1.8 billion people and global trends.

As for Islamic history, while yours seems apologetically biased, but even if it’s not, I don’t see much relevance to 2019. Can you connect the dots and explain how the so-called “golden age” (which we could dispute elsewhere), is relevant in 2019?

It’s relevant because many Middle Eastern Muslims know that once their culture was the highest in the world. There is a “what happened” attitude that gets answered by Wahhabbi fundamentalists who say “we need to return to the good old days” without understanding that one aspect of the good old days was a tolerant attitude toward science and other religions, or that much of what they claim is Islamic is really cultural detritus. Goes with the saying that nothing concentrates the mind so much as knowing you’ll be hung in the morning, although in this case what happens is a narrowing of focus.

This is an interesting perspective. It might work, or it could backfire. One thing I hear a lot is that apologists claim that Islam is the way it is “because western interventions”. This golden age angle might lead to “because western interventions” responses, which would be counter-productive.

Interventions is the wrong word. Historically, the Islamic world and the European world have been in conflict for centuries. And from the Islamic side, this is seen as European aggression, starting with the crusades (of course, from the European side, it started with the Muslim conquests in the Middle East, North Africa, and Spain). Now, in the crusades you have a “golden age” civilization attacked by barbarian Europeans who manage to capture Jerusalem and nearby territories. They are later pushed out, but an attitude of being attacked arises (and it was about this time that the culture began a retreat into fundamentalism). Then you have the Mongol invasion and the destruction of major cultural centers throughout Central Asia, Iran, and Iraq. Decline sets in, reversed for a couple of centuries by the Ottoman’s, whose center of power is in what had been the Greek Orthodox empire of Byzantium (so, taking on many of the Byzantine cultural traits). After a couple of centuries, however, The Ottoman empire, which had really just been preserving some of the earlier glories, goes into decline while Europe is becoming the world power on the back of the scientific revolution (which, had things been different, might have taken place around 1100ad in Iran or Iraq). Suddenly (historically speaking), Europeans are stomping all over your territory and disrespecting your customs. And you’d been being fed the political lie that you were better than they were. And the cultural framework you have to work with in trying to understand what’s going on is an entangled mix of very ancient tribal customs and your religion. So from ignorance comes fear and a search for some sort of belief system that hides the fear and explains what’s going on.

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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22 March 2019 15:20
 

Hey burt,

Well it’s a bit of a tangent, but perhaps it’s a useful one. I’ve added a link to a 5-minute video. This guy, Bill Warner, is a huge critic of Islam. He’s biased. But in this video, he’s making over 500 factual claims. So, love him or hate him, the 500 claims should stand on their own merit. And maybe he’s a bit off. Maybe you could do a bunch of research and conclude that 50 of the 500 battles he listed should be discounted. That doesn’t void the larger point.

The summary is that the Crusades were a tiny, tiny counter-offensive after 400 years of violent Islamic expansion and conquest.

500 battles before the Crusades

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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22 March 2019 15:53
 

burt,

Answer, part 2. I do see your bigger point about how the history can build up a lot of emotional responses. And I can see how factoring that in would most likely help the conversation.

That said, the conversations will never be had, if we continue to pretend that Islam is okay.

 
 
burt
 
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22 March 2019 16:03
 
icehorse - 22 March 2019 03:20 PM

Hey burt,

Well it’s a bit of a tangent, but perhaps it’s a useful one. I’ve added a link to a 5-minute video. This guy, Bill Warner, is a huge critic of Islam. He’s biased. But in this video, he’s making over 500 factual claims. So, love him or hate him, the 500 claims should stand on their own merit. And maybe he’s a bit off. Maybe you could do a bunch of research and conclude that 50 of the 500 battles he listed should be discounted. That doesn’t void the larger point.

The summary is that the Crusades were a tiny, tiny counter-offensive after 400 years of violent Islamic expansion and conquest.

500 battles before the Crusades

He’s more than a bit biased.

First off, he sets it up as Islam against classic civilization. In 600ad classic civilization was gone, kaput, done in by the Goths, Visagoths, Huns, etc. (did you know that Attila is a Hungarian folk hero?). So when Islam started expanding the only remaining bastion of classic civilization was the Byzantine empire, which was decadent. This is not to deny the Islamic expansion, they were empire building and expanding into easily captured territory (as all empire builders have done, although he’s wrong about Ottoman sultans), but the crusades were not Europe pushing back, they were religious, to recapture the Christian holy lands. He has no real understanding, only his fixated biases. My reading, of course.

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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22 March 2019 16:18
 
burt - 22 March 2019 04:03 PM
icehorse - 22 March 2019 03:20 PM

Hey burt,

Well it’s a bit of a tangent, but perhaps it’s a useful one. I’ve added a link to a 5-minute video. This guy, Bill Warner, is a huge critic of Islam. He’s biased. But in this video, he’s making over 500 factual claims. So, love him or hate him, the 500 claims should stand on their own merit. And maybe he’s a bit off. Maybe you could do a bunch of research and conclude that 50 of the 500 battles he listed should be discounted. That doesn’t void the larger point.

The summary is that the Crusades were a tiny, tiny counter-offensive after 400 years of violent Islamic expansion and conquest.

500 battles before the Crusades

He’s more than a bit biased.

First off, he sets it up as Islam against classic civilization. In 600ad classic civilization was gone, kaput, done in by the Goths, Visagoths, Huns, etc. (did you know that Attila is a Hungarian folk hero?). So when Islam started expanding the only remaining bastion of classic civilization was the Byzantine empire, which was decadent. This is not to deny the Islamic expansion, they were empire building and expanding into easily captured territory (as all empire builders have done, although he’s wrong about Ottoman sultans), but the crusades were not Europe pushing back, they were religious, to recapture the Christian holy lands. He has no real understanding, only his fixated biases. My reading, of course.

Well can we try to reduce this discussion of the Crusades down to the basics? Is it wrong to say that the Crusades were initiated in order to reclaim land from the Muslims that they had taken from the Christians?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that we’re all living on captured land. Everyone has always taken other people’s land, Islam is not unique in that way. But the point is that western guilt over the Crusades seems misplaced, and Islamic resentment over the Crusades seems equally misplaced.

 
 
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