Thursday, May 20, 2010
Beldar responds to Captain Ed on EDMD
In a series of comments at Patterico's Pontifications, I've failed to dampen my friend Patterico's enthusiasm for "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day." Today, however, I came across a tightly-argued paragraph from Ed Morrissey at Hot Air that also attempts to justify EDMD — but I'm still unpersuaded to participate. Rather, I still believe that participating is a bad idea on grounds of simple taste, even though I would defend the rights of the participants to do so. Here are Ed's arguments, and my reactions in detail:
On the other hand — and this is where my sympathies lie — a free society has to have the ability to offend as part and parcel of the freedom of expression.
I agree with this. And we do indeed have rights to such free expression, including the expression of deliberately tasteless and offensive material. We have that legal right today, and we will have it a week from today, regardless of who does or doesn't participate in EDMD.
To acquiesce to the pressure that cowed Comedy Central is to surrender that freedom ...
No, it's not. Free speech is an inalienable right. Free speech rights don't depend for their existence on being exercised continuously to their full limits. I am not surrendering my free speech rights when I choose not to dress in a Nazi uniform or a KKK hood or when I chose not to parade with members of those hateful organizations.
... and to make terrorism a successful strategy, and not just for radical Islam.
This is a better argument, not because it's true, but because not-very-logical terrorists might think it's true. I think it's what the logicians call a post hoc ergo propter hoc argument, in which the "fallacy lies in coming to a conclusion based solely on the order of events, rather than taking into account other factors that might rule out the connection." One terrorist could just as easily say to his mate, "Hey, the American dogs once again refrained last week from nuking Tehran! Good thing I made that threat on my blog last week that I would really make them pay if they so much as dropped one bomb anywhere in Iran, huh?" That America didn't nuke Iran last week wasn't because of any threat the terrorists made about what they'd do if we had. And if a terrorist claims that it was his threat which stopped America from nuking Iran, a dim-witted fellow might indeed fall for that preposterous claim, and it might persuade him to join the terrorists. That's unfortunate — but not so much so that we should turn around and nuke Tehran just to show that we can and to show that his threats didn't deter us.
A nation of laws provides its citizens freedom from vendettas, and where vendettas succeed, freedom is diminished or lost altogether.
This doesn't make a lot of sense to me. What exactly is the mechanism by which Ed thinks this should happen? I agree that a nation of laws should provide its citizens protection from violence, and sometimes from overt threats of violence. But verbal vendettas — including a lot of condemnation, vague predictions of bad consequences, protest, feather-ruffling, hoo-hah, and associated kerfuffle — that at least stop short of criminal terroristic threat statutes may well be constitutionally protected; see above.
That is why it is always un-American to seek political change through violence and terrorism, because it cuts against the fabric of what makes us Americans.
I agree that it's un-American to seek political change through violence and terrorism, but I don't think that is a justification for deliberately engaging in tasteless behavior that's intended to offend the Muslims you want to offend but is also likely to offend all Muslims.
In order to stand against the vendetta mentality, we need to make a statement that we will not be cowed into silence and surrender, whether that’s defined as dhimmitude, omerta, or whatever.
Fine. Make a strong statement — indeed, Ed, I think you just have! It didn't go pointlessly out of its way to offend people you didn't intend to offend. You've completely persuaded me that you're not cowed into either silence or surrender. And your ability to do so wasn't at all hampered by the absence of a cartoon of Mohammed; nor will your argument be improved if you add one.
Posted by Beldar at 06:05 PM | Permalink
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(1) ck made the following comment | May 20, 2010 6:51:34 PM | Permalink
Of course the great Iowahawk agrees with you, for slightly different reasons.
A most excellent post! Thank you for linking it ck! And thanks to Captain Ed, who's also generously updated his post to link mine within moments after my trackback ping to his.
I think you miss the "solidarity" aspect of this.
When one voice alone speaks up, it is quickly silenced through intimidation. When many voices speak up together, there are too many to silence. When most of us silence ourselves, then terrorism and intimidation become viable strategies to silence the brave few that remain.
This was the point that South Park creators made, and I think it's a good one. That's why I created my own drawing for Everybody Draw Mohammed Day
Mr. Graham: I'm one voice, but I'm not intimidated. It's not intimidation that causes me to restrain myself from engaging in intentionally insulting behavior, it's my own distaste for engaging intentionally insulting behavior — particularly when the logical target of the insult extends far beyond those with whom I have any bones to pick.
I'm in solidarity with everyone who believes in free speech. I'm in solidarity with everyone who condemns violence, or threats of violence, being used to suppress free speech. Those are the principles I believe in, and I'm in solidarity with those who share my belief in those principles.
So why is it that I also have to insult peaceful, non-violent Muslims for any of that?
I have no desire for "solidarity" with anyone whose real or even primary goal is offending Muslims generally. I reject any definition of "bravery" which requires doing that.
I'd rather punish the people who engage in violence than see us all turn into jerks intent on provoking violence under the theory that there will be "safety in numbers" if we're all jerks.
On the other hand, perhaps randomly offending people -- especially the thin-skinned and those who believe they're too holy for anyone to be allowed to offend them -- has the salutory effect of involuntary desensitivity training: If Moslems get offended often enough, their take-offense gland might run out of Outragerol.
This condition is known in the dubious sort of medical circles I frequent as Externally Induced Effective Inhibition of Outragerol.
Symptoms of EIEIO include:
- A marked increase in the consumption of alcohol, beauty pageants, and Spam
- An inexplicable compulsion to watch Jackie Mason videos
- Allergic reaction to ammonium nitrate and fuel oil
- Frequent shaving
- And a creeping disinclination to name one's offspring any variant of Abdul, Sheikh, Rahman, Faisal, Shabaz, Ali, or (of course) Mohammed.
I would happily contribute to the Everybody Draw Moe Hammet Page, were it not for my extreme dislike of manual labor and my inability to draw anything other than silly lizard caricatures.
"It's not intimidation that causes me to restrain myself from engaging in intentionally insulting behavior, it's my own distaste for engaging intentionally insulting behavior — particularly when the logical target of the insult extends far beyond those with whom I have any bones to pick."
THANK YOU. This is so perfectly stated.
Not sure how the participants think this is actually a way to fight terrorism, and some of the pics I've seen are super-offensive in their own right (even without considering that ANY depiction of Mohammed may be considered offensive). I hate to think how my Muslim friends/acquaintances must feel if they see them.
Also? Religion is not a monolith, and distancing oneself from the more nut-jobby fringes of one's own religion is not a sign of agreeing with them. How many Christians stand up and condemn the Westboro Baptist Church for its hateful actions?
(7) Lord Whorfin made the following comment | May 21, 2010 12:35:09 PM | Permalink
Excellent points, but what if the majority of Muslims already hate the West, no matter what we do??
(8) MiLK made the following comment | May 21, 2010 12:46:18 PM | Permalink
Excellent points, with which i agree completely. I would add one thing : Instead of offending Islam, we could mock the extremists themselves. We could show that we are not afraid, will not back down, and we could also make the point that we are people decent enough to respect the core aspects of others' religions and ways of life.
(9) stan made the following comment | May 21, 2010 1:48:10 PM | Permalink
I think that cartoonists engaging in the equivalent of "I am Spartacus!" is probably a good idea. Yes, Bill is correct when he says that the drawings are in poor taste. But we have seen extremists engage in all manner of violence and intimidation and far too often the Western response has been to cave. I understand and agree with the sentiment that someone needs to draw a line in the sand and set forth their solidarity with the idea that intimidation will not be rewarded. Unfortunately, offending sensibilities seems to be required to do so.
(10) Larry Brown made the following comment | May 21, 2010 11:48:23 PM | Permalink
Poor taste? WTC was in poor taste I'd say. Balanced, reasoned arguments are just what Islam wants us to continue to do. We commiserate in our own demise as a culture by doing this. As I posited previously, reformation or transformation? One, unlikely, the other, likely to be far beyond carnage. What are we left then? One place I'd think to start is to legislate against acceptance of Sharia law in any form. This has been proposed by the WTC mosque building imam as a parallel framework of law. This cannot hold.
(11) Gregory Koster made the following comment | May 22, 2010 4:57:46 AM | Permalink
Dear Dafydd: You might be right, that the adrenal glands of the Left will run out of Outrageerol. Then I think of Keith Olbermann, and snicker. Nope, turning the other cheek will just earn you another smack, and it will be well earned.
Dear Mr. Dyer: We disagree yet again. Your notion that:
" Free speech is an inalienable right. "
is noble, well expressed, and deserves the sympathy of all readers. It is also a lot of bunk. Don't believe me? Go North to Canada, where the Alberta Human Rights Commission did its damnedest to silence Ezra Levant via trumped up charges by a sleazy amoral liar of Muslim belief. Levant had to shell out a whale of a lot of dough to beat back this challenge, and succeeded not by meek arguments done dimenuendo, but by roaring defiance, blasting his adversaries as rogues, scoundrels and cheats letting a gang of self-righteous, vindictive busybodies do the dirty work. Or closer to home: note that at UC San Diego, David Horowitz slyly egged a Muslima to say what she really thought, that she was in favor of the Holocaust redux. The UCSD administration snores away, to the point where a petition is being circulated to get the Chancellor to take notice and maybe, gee, condemn such bigotry. Compare this wilful anesthesia to the shrieks of outrage and summoning of the cops when an affirmative action bake sale is sponsored on any college campus.
Free speech is alienable, much too easily so. We may differ on whether the prevailing climate is such as to warrant concern that the tocsin should be sounded: "To the colors! Defend free speech, publish an obnoxious cartoon that is likely to offend Muslim believers!" You do not think so. I do. The examples I've given are bad enough. Even more telling is the silence the allegedly moderate Muslims give every time a fresh outrage is perpetrated by the religion of peace, e.g. the barbarity the Saudi Arabian virtue cops practice to whip the citizenry into line. Mor telling still is the widespread belief that The One's Justice Department will not do a dam thing unless the case is blessed by the political bosses. The Philly case in which the New Black Panthers claimed to be security, had a case filed against them for voter harassment, lost by a default judgment---and then had Justice roll over and play dead is illuminating. This Justice Department cares not a dam for prosecuting Muslim extremism, but follows the see no evil approach, compensating by swinging the nightsticks and indictments at Tea Partiers. Most telling of all is Pakistan's response to this day: shut down youtube and myspace access to the Pakistanis, so they won't be corrupted.
Free speech is under threat, worldwide and in the United States. It is a very easily alienable right. The threat is sufficient for free speakers against Islam to pay a stiff price by the nominally impartial administrations shot full of 200 proof political correctness. Those who wish to publish nasty caricature of Muhammy are likely to offend many Muslims who wish only to conduct their lives and be left alone. This is regrettable. But the way to assert the right to publish is to publish. Let the David Frums/Bruce Bartletts/Kathleen Parkers/David Brookses of the world sigh in weary exasperation. It will be good for their careers, and who cares if the world smolders a bit more around the edges.
You keep using that word, "alienable." I do not think it means what you think it means.
(13) Gregory Koster made the following comment | May 23, 2010 1:25:43 PM | Permalink
Dear Dafydd: Let no one claim to be excessively literal when I am around...
Grabbing this definition from WordnetWeb at Princeton I find:
S: (adj) inalienable, unalienable (incapable of being repudiated or transferred to another) "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights"
S: (adj) unforfeitable, inalienable (not subject to forfeiture) "an unforfeitable right"
Go back to the affirmative action bake sale. The Right groups who sponsor such events may have an inalienable right, but that right can be, and often is, suppressed by administrations thoroughly embalmed with political correctness. To those who claim that the right isn't alienated, just suppressed, I invite them to dance on the head of a pin, preferably red hot.
You could argue that in the end, no right is ever completely self-executing, that free speech will always demand fortitude on the part of the speaker/writer. I agree with this. But at what point does the fortitude required become excessive? I can't give you a principle that will tell you in every case the exact amount of fortitude needed. I can only point out examples of excessive fortitude being demanded, and say that shows the right is being alienated. This is seldom completely satisfactory. But neither is the standard the press used to uphold: complete freedom for journalists. As for you citizens who have no effective platform, tough bananas. There was a lot of First Amendment "scholarship" that nodded smugly at such definitions. Now, however, the rise of the Internet has made platforms much more available, as this blog proves, and the old definitions are being heaved overboard. Now the howling is for licensing of journalists, or to extend immunity from the law, e.g. having to cough up names of sources to the bad faith liars in the prosecutor's office, only to journalists. Bloggers? To Hell with them, and here's all the Ivy League law professors nodding agreement, just as they nodded agreement to the contraty argument when it suited them.
The notion that free expression is inalienable is a noble, stirring ideal, well worth fighting for and striving toward. But as a representation of truth in the world of 2010, it is bunk. Islam, the St. Louis County and City Attorneys, the Voting Rights Section of Eric Holder's Justice Department---all are prominent examples of how far short the ideal falls from the truth.
Back to you.
(14) Rhodium Heart made the following comment | May 23, 2010 10:19:16 PM | Permalink
I understand your point. Not only do you have a free speech right to remain silent, but you have chosen the path to respect others and to not unnecessarily antagonize. You have chosen the way of an adult and not a churlish child.
And yet I profoundly disagree with you on this point. The whole point of "EVERYbody Draw Mohammed Day" is the EVERYbody part. They can't Theo Van Gogh all of us (though they want to). They can't threaten to destroy all of our careers (although, as a self-employed lawyer, there are days I really wish they would).
This is all about safety in numbers. I provided one more number by conspicuously posting my drawing on a well-known social networking site.
This is all about drawing a line in the sand (pun?) because wherever we choose to draw that line, the Voice of Islam will demand ever more concessions. More numerous, more onerous concessions from us. See, e.g., Europe. I want the line drawn at a place safely removed from where polite society must edit itself.
The notion that free expression is inalienable is a noble, stirring ideal, well worth fighting for and striving toward. But as a representation of truth in the world of 2010, it is bunk. Islam, the St. Louis County and City Attorneys, the Voting Rights Section of Eric Holder's Justice Department---all are prominent examples of how far short the ideal falls from the truth.
You force me to get explicit...
What Jefferson wrote was that certain rights are inalienable; but he did not thereby mean that they can never be violated: The entire Declaration of Independence springs from, and largely comprises a list of violations of our inalienable rights.
Inalienable means you cannot transfer your fundamental liberties to the custody of someone else, nor can anyone else take them away; they can only protect and acknowledge them -- or else violate them. Beldar understands what inalienable means, and he used the word properly; you said he was wrong, but you are the one mistaken here.
The fact that they cannot be alienated from you (even voluntarily) means, not that the rights flow free and easy -- not that they're "self executing," as even you agree -- but rather that each of us is ultimately responsible for safeguarding, and if necessary fighting for his own essential freedoms.
That is what inalienable means: Not that they cannot be violated, but that they must forever be defended... by each of us. It is our moral duty as champions of liberty -- "eternal vigilance," etc.
Of course our rights can be violated and routinely are; but that does not mean they have been alienated; only that we have either fallen down on the job of self defense of liberty, or else that we have been vitims of tyranny, grand or petty.
While I understand the point of EDMD, it isn't necessary to descend into the gutter (like Bill Maher has) in respect to another's religion, just because it may and can be done. The threats of life and limb, that comes in response to those who do, establish clear enough, that threats fill the void left when there isn't a pervasive case to argue the merits of their beliefs.
(17) Gregory Koster made the following comment | May 24, 2010 3:34:52 PM | Permalink
Dear Dafydd: In a public discussion such as we are having, I think it is good to be explicit, so everyone has a better idea of where we stand. Explicitness does sometimes carry a price as Arlen "My switching parties will enable me to be reelected" Specter is learning...
Despite your explicitness, your argument still seems vague and unsatisfactory to me, a sort of Christian Science response to a serious illness. As a matter of logic, your argument works on a cerebral level for many, though not for me. But it doesn't touch what Oliver Holmes called "the felt necessities of the times," at least as I see them. Perhaps the trouble is in my own perception of your arguments. Let's do something about this. Let's bring in a third party to judge between us. I nominate the Dutch film director Theo van Gogh. It's true, he's hard to get hold of these days, but I'm sure some medium can be found who can get the job done. As we sit in the darkening room, watching his spectre come toward us out of the darkness (and watching the other Specter take a well earned trip into eternal (I hope) darkness) complete with all the bullets that were fired into him, and the knives sticking out of his chest the better to hold the death note to it, we can question him, viz:
"Mr. van Gogh, do you think a) you fell down on the job of defending your liberty or b) you are just a victim of tyranny? And how are you coming along with your inalienable rights in the afterlife?"
I don't know what van Gogh's answer to that question will be specifically, but I do know that I want to be wearing an asbestos suit and be inside the atom bomb proof bunker when he responds.
Try again: I will assert that George Orwell, the author of 1984 has a far superior intellect to me, Gregory Koster. (Stage whisper from Mr. Dyer: "You can say that again.") As proof, I offer 1984, a masterpiece of polemic and writing. Yet for all his skill and intellect, 1984 is not, and never has been, literally true. Eastasia, Eurasia and Oceania never existed. It isn't even figuratively true: free speech is stronger today than it was in 1949, when the novel was published. But the falsity of 1984 as prediction does not detract from its real source of power: as a warning. Orwell, however pessimistic, always knew that logic would not be enough. Action was needed, action based in resolution. This is what bothers me most about your arguments. However true they are (and I don't agree with them) they are not breeders of resolution, let alone action. They are, as I've said, Christian Science arguments that do not respond, let alone forestall, the felt necessities. They seem to me breeding grounds for complacency, for "It can't happen here.". It may be that I am overfeeling these necessities. It would not be the first time. Yet the election of The One makes me think otherwise.
Looking around, I see everyone has their hands over their ears, a sure sign I've been blowing the bugle too long and too loudly, a chronic problem I have. Before shutting down, let me thank you for making me think through my position, however wrong it may be. I hope it is wrong.
Long time commenter A.W. here. I am the proprietor of a blog dedicated to this movement, here: http://everyonedrawmohammed.blogspot.com/
I think frankly you are making two very big mistakes in your analysis. First, I think it is actually 100% clear that Comedy Central has in fact backed down to terrorism. Second, this protest is not about making a statement, but about literally and directly confronting and diffusing the danger.
Let me take those points out of order. So on the purpose of this protest, let me quote from myself:
“The terrorists threaten to murder anyone who insults or even depicts their prophet in a cartoon. And as long as it is a handful of individuals being threatened—Salman Rushdie, Matt Stone, Trey Parker, and the Danish cartoonists—that threat is effective. You might even look at the murder of Theo Van Gogh and conclude it is not a bluff.
“But it IS a bluff. Because if enough people do it at once, they will not be able to carry through their threat. They can’t kill us all. It’s that simple.
“That is why we must draw Mohammed.”
Do you see? We are not just making a statement. We are intentionally exposing ourselves, en masse, to the very same danger. At last check there are 110,000 people on the big facebook page, and over 700 cartoons at my site, over 300 of which have the artists identified by name and hometown. They can’t kill us all, and they surely know that. We can also hope that as a result they will stop trying to kill those named individuals, realizing that even if they do, its just a drop in the bucket.
Now the unfortunate reality is that the mechanism by which we take on this danger is by insulting Islam, and thus offending many good Muslims who love both their prophet and freedom of speech. That is unfortunate, but I believe it is absolutely necessary because for 20 years, starting with the Rushdie controversy, our elites have failed to stand up and handle this problem.
But let’s back up and talk about why Comedy Central backed down. You write:
> This is a better argument, not because it's true, but because not-very-logical terrorists might think it's true [that comedy central is backing down because of threats].
I think you are frankly unaware of some of the facts here. If you are familiar with the fact, there is actually very little doubt that Comedy Central backed down because of terrorism. Let me review some history.
South Park has attempted to depict Mohammed three times. One thing to get is that generally South Park isn’t the one to censor, here; its Comedy Central.
The first time was about 2 months before 9-11. Mohammed was one of many religious figures featured as a team of superheroes called the SuperBestFriends (a riff on the old and terrible SuperFriends cartoon). So Jesus was there with his carpentry skills and resurrection abilities, Vishnu could change form, and Mohammed could shoot flames, among other religious figures. Comedy Central let them show it, no problem.
The second time was in an episode written in response to the Danish cartoon controversy. In that episode everyone was scared because the show Family Guy (standing in for South Park) was going to show Mohammed. The key scene had Peter on Family Guy saying, “that reminds me of the time Mohammed gave me a salmon helmet.” And then we see a flashback, and in it Mohammed gives Peter a football helmet with a fish nailed to the top. Absurd, silly, and innocuous. Only this time, Comedy Central refused to show Mohammed’s image, EXPLICITY citing fears of terrorism. They literally said that they were afraid of being attacked by terrorists because of it, and that was why they censored it. I wish I could quote you the exact words, but they were as explicit on this point as it gets.
The third time was the most recent, another two parter episode. In that all of the celebrities who had been mocked on South Park wanted to gain Mohammed’s ability to be immune from mockery. In the first part they said the name Mohammed, but censored the image. It’s actually not clear whether Comedy Central or South Park censored the image, because censoring it would be kind of “part of the joke.” You’d have to see it to understand. But by the story arc, one might think they were planning to take off the censored bar in the second part when the characters figure out that they need to stop being scared of showing him.
Then Revolution Islam made its threats and suddenly they couldn’t even say mohammed on the show, let alone show him. Indeed they reportedly also cut out a speech about censorship so there is at least a whole minute of them literally bleeping every word every character says.
And consider this piece of evidence as well. The same courtesy was not shown any other religion. For instance, in the same episode, Buddha was seen snorting drugs and Jesus was surfing the internet for porn. In the prior censored episode, Jesus and George W. Bush were seen defecating on each other, on the United States flag, on random people, etc. in stark contrast to the fact that Comedy Central wouldn’t let them show Mohammed giving a person a helmet with a fish nailed to it.
I mean seriously, South Park is just about exactly an equal opportunity offender. Except for Mohammed. It strains credibility that they suddenly decided to have taste, especially because the depiction they proposed wasn’t tasteless beyond the mere depiction of Mohammmed.
Of course at my site, I have made it an open forum. I said there are only two rules 1) you have to depict mohammed, somehow, and 2) it can’t actually be porn. Other than that, be as offensive—or not—at you want, create any ancillary messages you choose, and I don’t care if it is a particularly good cartoon. I am even pretty loose with the definition of cartoon. So some are actually innocuous. And some are absolutely offensive.
And while my own cartoon kind of split the difference (and is just awful, artistically), I think there is an extremely valid argument for being deliberately offensive. If the goal is to call their bluff, then in some ways the more offensive it is, the better.
And I will finally say something else. Freedom of religion is at stake here, too, and that must include the freedom speak honestly, and frankly about religion, even if it is highly insulting. Let me give you a practical example. A man from Pakistan wrote to me in connection with this and said he loved what I was doing, but as a muslim he really couldn’t draw mohammed. He wanted to know if he could participate somehow without drawing mohammed. I wrote back to him with some options. In his next email he stated he was no longer a Muslim, because he learned some facts about islam. Curious, I asked him if he was willing to share. He said he learned about Mohammed and Aisha.
Do you know this story? I knew it before he told me from other sources, but its simply this. One of Mohammed’s wives, Aisha, was 6 years old when he married her, 9 years old when they consummated their relationship. And knowing that literally broke the man’s faith. He said in his book that was pedophilia and he couldn’t in good conscience follow a pedophile.
Now that is pretty insulting, right? He called Mohammed a pedophile. But its also true. And in this man’s case that knowledge broke his faith. Now imagine instead his country carefully hid that fact away from him. Isn’t that a breach of his God-given right to choose his faith? After all the right to make a choice implies a right to make an informed choice, which in turn implies the right to the free flow of information regarding that choice. But Pakistan would, if given its way, prevent him from learning facts that might make him literally change his faith. he would only be kept muslim by being kept ignorant.
Anyway, I jawbone more about what this movement on my site. Here are two links that might help you out.
A.W. (#18): My decision not to participate has nothing to do with whether Comedy Central did or didn't "back down because of terrorism." I'd happily represent them in court if it were the government trying to censor their right to broadcast offensive, tasteless crap. And I condemn those who threaten or engage in violence against that network's employees or the South Park creators, or against anyone else who's said or written or drawn something the radicals find offensive.
But I don't have to imitate, much less exceed, the tasteless, offensive conduct of every target of every threat of undeserved violence in order for my condemnation of the radicals to be sincere. And I certainly don't have to engage in conduct that's going to be insulting to all Muslims in order for my condemnation of radical Muslims to be sincere.
As for "literally and directly confronting and diffusing the danger," with due respect, you might reconsider that claim after some time has passed. Our armed forces and police can claim that with justification: they are "literally and directly confronting" the terrorists that you and I only write about from a comfortable distance. Bloggers like you and me are ridiculously self-important — verging on self-parody — if we think anything we post could actually do what you're claiming.
I don't pretend to have all the answers to winning the war on terror. But I'm very sure that going out of our way to offend all Muslims, both radical and peaceful, is not one of them.
(20) Larry Brown made the following comment | May 24, 2010 10:42:35 PM | Permalink
There are no moderate muslims. There are only jihadis and apostates. The Koran says it, I believe it. Why not you Beldar?
Mr. Brown (#20): In 1975-1976, my three college dorm suite-mates at UT-Austin were, respectively, nice Jewish boys from San Antonio and Houston and a nice Muslim boy from Algeria. Well, actually, the nice Muslim boy was a few years older than the rest of us, with commensurate maturity, since he was a graduate student in the petroleum engineering department on a government scholarship. The only immoderate thing about him was his passion for the Beetles, which I shared in part. (Indeed, it was the two Jews who were uncivilized — Stones fans. We all found common ground in liking The Who.)
I have personally known — and have worked and socialized with — moderate Muslims in my day-to-day life more or less continuously ever since.
The chief operating officer of one of my long-time clients, for example, is Muslim, a long-naturalized American citizen born in Pakistan. His children and mine have played and swum together at Fourth of July celebrations. His boss — an even closer friend of mine — is Jewish.
Another of my former clients, a vastly larger company, had its major operations in the rich natural gas fields of Indonesia, and I represented it, and occasionally its employees, in matters in which we had to deal with moderate Muslims in the Indonesian government and state-owned oil company, Pertamina. Were there frustrations, some of which had their source in religion? Sure there were; part of what permitted my client to be successful when other western companies had failed was the relative skill of my client's executives and employees in overcoming those hurdles. Did any of the Muslims I dealt with in the course of that representation — which included some of the most powerful and influential people in that huge mostly-Islamic nation — wage jihad on the west? Umm, no.
Houston, where I've lived since 1980, is a cosmopolitan city. There's a mosque a few blocks from my house; I drive past it at least once a week en route to the barbecue joint a half-block away. I have Muslim neighbors who I know by sight and trade friendly waves with. And yeah, one of the regular employees of the nearest convenience store — cliché alert! — is a Pakistani immigrant named Mohammed. We're not BFFs, but we greet each other by name and exchange moderate pleasantries when I stop in for a twelve-pack of Diet Cokes or even (gasp) a six-pack of cold beer. If he's secretly plotting to slit my throat on the Internet, he's doing a really, really good job of concealing that.
If your comment is a joke, it's not funny. If your comment isn't a joke, it's just sad, uninformed, and yes, bigoted.
(22) Gregory Koster made the following comment | May 25, 2010 5:02:25 PM | Permalink
Dear Mr. Dyer: I don't think your reply to Mr. Brown is good enough. The Eastern Establishment of 1948 couldn't believe Alger Hiss was a traitor---why, they knew him! They had known him for years! He couldn't possibly be a traitor, the way that lowlife Whittaker Chambers accused him of being.
Trouble was, Hiss WAS a a traitor. The Establishment's reflexive response did a lot of damage at the time, and continues to do so. So too, with Muslims in the United States. You don't really believe that Hohammed at the convenience store is plotting to slit your throat, and the odds are excellent that you are right. But they are only odds. As you've described it, you don't really know Mohammed, what his secret hopes and dreams are.
You could respond that the typical jihadist e.g. the fanatic major at Fort Hood, made no real secret of their ambitions. But that doesn't foreclose the possibility of better actors, who are "sleepers" as the spies call them. What is Mr. Brown's statement force is his unspoken assumption that the Establishment of today doesn't believe in the threat of Islamic extremism. I think this assumption is bang right, viz:
a) The One's promise to close Guantanamo within a year
b) Holder's insistence on trying KSM in New York
c) the Army Chief of Staff's pious proclamation that the worst thing about the Fort Hood disaster would be for the Army to lose its diversity.
d) the reflexive insistence by the press that whenever a tragedy strikes, it's the work of a lone nut, whose motives we can't fathom. The "coverage" of the attempted Times Square bombing was painfully hilarious. The desire of the press that the bomber be a Tea Partier and the act of faith that he COULDN'T be a Muslim extremist was infuriating.
This evidence of Establishment folly is what's driving Mr. Brown. He's right to be concerned, even alarmed by such witlessness married to uncheckable power. Scoring points off him is easy---but it doesn't address the underlying concern. Do you sleep better knowing Janet Napolitano is on the job, combatting what she perceives as terrorism? What is the citizenry to do when such dolts(Napolitano) and knaves(Holder) are supposedly their protectors?
The situation for Muslims in the US is worst of all. The question is not whether they are moderate Muslims. It is: Can the demands of their religion allow them to be good Americans? This question is often raised by Pat Buchanan & Co. about Jews. The answer is straightforward: AIPAC, for all its faults, doesn't find itself named as an unindicted coconspirator in exremist fundraising as CAIR is.
You may rightly point out the dangers of paranoia, in which no American Muslim can feel safe regardless of what he does. There's unhappy precedent for that: many German-Americans were ruthlessly persecuted in World War I, to no good end. But the opposite danger is true today: political correctness paralyzing government from one of its tasks that everyone agrees it should have: providing for the common defense.
Mr. Koster (#22): I'm sorry, but not very, that my response to Mr. Brown's comment didn't strike you as adequate. But you're reading inferences into Mr. Brown's short comment (e.g., about the Obama Administration) that may be reasonable, but that his words don't even begin to address, much less support. Some of what you've said, I agree with, but whether Janet Napolitano makes me sleep better doesn't have much, if anything, to do with whether it's a good idea for everyone to draw Mohammed, nor with Mr. Brown's ridiculous assertion that there are no moderate Muslims.
No, sir, none of what you've just said, or what he just said, justifies me (or anyone) in presuming that all Muslims are radical. That presumption that would not only be bigoted (which is to say, a judgment made on the basis of fear and superstition and supposition instead of fact), but it would also be directly contrary to my own personal experiences, some trivial but some deep, with moderate Muslims over a 30-year period. Belittle that experience if you wish. But it is what it is, and I will not ignore it.
I choose not to be paranoid. The obvious, palpable, and real dangers aren't being dealt with, and correcting that situation is the place to start, rather than imagining that the guy who sells me Diet Coke is a sleeper agent who's going to turn the Slurpee machine into a dirty nuke. And I still choose not to draw Mohammed.
(24) Larry Brown made the following comment | May 26, 2010 12:19:36 AM | Permalink
But do you think that any of these will stand up for you in front of the local shura council when you don't pay your jizya? Or more likely, when your child doesn't pay theirs?
Funny how those friendships, alliances, acquaintances and relationships dissipate when no longer a requirement for day to day life. Have you thought about a time when we, the west, are in our dhimmitude, that you would trust your wife/childs' life in the hands of those compatriots you mention? Why don't the moderates raise hew and cry against the radicals? Or your compatriots in islam? Do they work to dilute the radical preachings about them or are they silent? Or do they fear the label of apostacy? Do you know for fact what is preached in your neighborhood mosque?
I know of a person whom was involved intimately with a muslim and had staked their future with the muslim only to have the muslim disappear permanently on 9/9/2001 and when the muslims collusion with 9/11 perpetrators became known, this person was ambushed by news crews on their front porch. Funds for 9/11 washed through banks in sleepy retirement towns on the gulf coast. Vans filled with fertilizer mixed with diesel fuel loaded up in the gas station on Broadway around the corner from the Bronx . Could any of your compatriots engage in any of these behaviors? How would you know? Why the silence if the moderates are the overwhelming majority? Do they wish to have their religion be painted as an ideology? Reformation can only be had with the moderates acceptance of and concurrence with. Why is there no talk of reformation? Fear of apostacy again? If fear of a religion that has sworn to kill me or enslave me is bigotry then I am a bigot. Koran: "There is a Jew behind that tree. Kill him!" I will defend the Jew, for his holy book nor has any Jew, Catholic, Hindu, Bhuddist, Taoist, Shinto, Lutheran, Baptist etc. etc. Ever tried to kill me or enslave me. Reformation or Transformation?
Mr. Brown (#24): I know you're a regular reader and commenter, and so I know you know better than to think that I'm an apologist for, or someone who denies the existence of, radical Islamic terrorists. It is precisely because the radical Muslims pose such real dangers that we must be as precise and thoughtful as we can in our efforts to distinguish them from moderate Muslims who do not pose the same threats. There are good reasons to be afraid, but not for being afraid of everyone and everything Islamic.
If you treat all Muslims as radicals, you're likely to turn that into a self-fulfilling prophesy. But you're out of touch with our present reality. And that makes the dangers greater, not less.
(26) Mike Giles made the following comment | May 26, 2010 11:23:46 AM | Permalink
I do not understand this. What is it about some people who simply will not give Muslims the courtesy, of accepting that they believe as they profess to believe. Forget "Radical" or "Moderate". It is not "radical" for a Muslim to follow the dictates of the Koran. Nor is it "moderate" to fail to follow it. It's a case of one Muslim being more pious then the other. And what ever the level of piety, the command (in this case, to Jihad) still remains. And because it remains, there is always the chance that the impious Muslim will "get religion". The idea that because someone professes impious views today, they will never adopt pious views in the future is asinine, and dangerous.
As is the idea that it's more important to be "polite" rather then make someone who should feel uncomfortable, feel that way. Especially when that same person has elevated his discomfort to the deciding factor in whether something should be shown or stated.
There is something wrong, when almost all religions can relentlessly be mocked; but nothing can ever be stated that might offend one in particular. It's almost as if the never to be offended religion has been raised to the status of state religion, to which all others, and everyone, must pay obeisance.
(27) Larry Brown made the following comment | May 27, 2010 6:49:57 PM | Permalink
Frankly, Napolitano and Holder are transitory. The fact of islam needing to be put back in it’s box historically has been an “after the fact” proposition is what concerns me. The dallying, over-thinking and over-rationalizing about motives, theology (balanced, reasoned arguments) and other assorted navel gazing that translates into our and our children’s blood. It is the needless repeating of history that galls.
(28) Vader made the following comment | May 28, 2010 11:42:38 PM | Permalink
Very nicely put. I have no use for Islamists. I also have no use for gratuitous insults. I much prefer the latter to the former, given the choice, but it isn't an "either-or" here. I don't have to indulge either one.
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