Lifting the Veil of “Islamophobia” : A Conversation with Ayaan Hirsi Ali

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Mogadishu in 1969. The daughter of a political opponent of the Somali dictatorship, she lived in exile, moving from Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia and then to Kenya. Like 98 percent of Somali girls, Ayaan was subjected to female genital mutilation. She embraced Islam while she was growing up, but eventually began to question aspects of the faith. One day, while listening to a sermon about the many ways in which women must be obedient to their husbands, she couldn’t resist asking, “Must our husbands obey us too?”

 

In 1992, Ayaan was married off by her father to a distant cousin living in Canada. In order to escape this forced marriage, she fled to the Netherlands where she was granted asylum and then citizenship. In her first years in Holland she worked in factories and as a maid—but she quickly learned Dutch and was then able to study at the University of Leiden. She soon began working as a translator for Somali immigrants, where she witnessed firsthand the clash between liberal Western values and those of Islamic culture.



After earning her M.A. in political science, Ayaan began working as a researcher for the Wiardi Beckman Foundation in Amsterdam. She eventually served as an elected member of the Dutch parliament from 2003 to 2006. While in parliament, she focused on furthering the integration of non-Western immigrants into Dutch society and on defending the rights of Muslim women. She campaigned to raise awareness about violence against women, including honor killings and female genital mutilation—practices that had followed Muslim immigrants to Holland. In her three years in government, she found her voice as an advocate for an “enlightened Islam.”



In 2004, Ayaan gained international attention following the murder of Theo van Gogh, who had directed her short film, Submission, depicting the oppression of women under Islam. The assassin, a radical Muslim, left a death threat for Ayaan pinned to Van Gogh’s chest.



In 2006, Ayaan was forced to resign from parliament when the Dutch minister for immigration revoked her citizenship, arguing that she had misled the authorities at the time of her asylum application. However, the Dutch courts later reversed this decision, leading to the fall of the government. Disillusioned with the Netherlands, Ayaan then moved to the United States.



Ayaan is a fellow with the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School. She is also a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, currently researching the relationship between the West and Islam. Her willingness to speak out for the rights of women, along with her abandonment of the Muslim faith, continue to make her a target for violence by Islamic extremists. She lives with round-the-clock security.



In 2005, Ayaan was named one of TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People,” one of the Glamour Heroes, and Reader’s Digest’s European of the Year. She is the author of The Caged VirginInfidel, and Nomad. She is now working on Short-cut to Enlightenment, a dialogue between Mohammed, the founder of Islam, and three of her favorite Western thinkers: John Stuart Mill, Karl Popper, and Friedrich Hayek. 

A few weeks ago, Ayaan and I had a long conversation about her critics and about the increasingly pernicious meme of “Islamophobia”—which our inimitable friend Christopher Hitchens once dubbed “a word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons.”

 

Read the conversation here.

Written By: Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Sam Harris
continue to source article at samharris.org

380 COMMENTS

  1. The wonderful woman that replaced Hitchens at the “four horsemen” table, cannot have her story told enough. Ayaan’s staggering bravery often distracts from the merits of her solid logic and reason, which she has stuck to. If subject to the tyranny of the worst religious fundamentalists, many would have reason snatched from them. Few would have the clarity of mind to put into practice what so many detached, cosy commentators mighty now agree to have been the best course of action.

    The breathtaking aspect of Ayaan’s accomplishment, is that hundreds of academics engaged in “best course of action” hypotheticals, couldn’t have theorised a better approach. And Ayaan did so from beneath the burden of despicable barbaric religious fundamentalism. Sought not to simply escape it, and be free. But to educate, achieve global recognition of widespread horrors and hardships faced by female offspring of Muslim parents (As RD stresses, there’s no such thing as a Muslim child, nor a Christian child). Further, she seeks to eradicate the ‘untouchable’ perception many westerners hold toward Islam. Questioning Islam loses out to easy complaints regarding local Christianity, which dominate our ‘atheist’ time allocation because “you can’t say that to them”.

    The veil of “Islamophobia” has got to go. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a boss of reason and logic. Every sentence she utters is valuable beyond comprehension by most of the species her existence lends endurance to.

  2. I’m proud of the fact that she found opportunities in the Netherlands and became such an inspiring woman. Which only hardened the blow when she was basically shuffled out of Dutch politics of course.

    • In reply to #2 by Sjoerd Westenborg:

      I’m proud of the fact that she found opportunities in the Netherlands and became such an inspiring woman. Which only hardened the blow when she was basically shuffled out of Dutch politics of course.

      I agree with you. But the Netherlands soon became too small (and narrow minded) for this wonderful woman.
      Funny, but not really, it s hardly known that she first became a member of the PvdA (Dutch socialist party), a champion for (human, workers) rights. Ths party, however, has a huge following of (other) religions, due to the party’s political correctness. It was apparent, with hindsight, that she could not stay there, and she moved on to the liberals. it was a member of her own party who tried to oust her.

      Anyway … am very proud she s been here, studied here, and left her mark here. She s one wonderful woman!

  3. which our inimitable friend Christopher Hitchens once dubbed “a word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons.”

    Ah! However unlikely it is to make it to the top of the “Best 100 Inspirational Quotes”, well worth a chuckle!

    • In reply to #3 by obzen:

      Ah! However unlikely it is to make it to the top of the “Best 100 Inspirational Quotes”, well worth a chuckle!

      As an admirer of the Hitchens style, I hope he didn’t say it because the substance of the remark is absurdly inaccurate.

      • The first recorded use of the term in English, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, was in 1923 in an article in The Journal of Theological Studies.The term entered into common usage with the publication of the Runnymede Trust’s report in 1997. (Wikipedia)
      • In reply to #6 by aldous:

        In reply to #3 by obzen:

        Ah! However unlikely it is to make it to the top of the “Best 100 Inspirational Quotes”, well worth a chuckle!

        As an admirer of the Hitchens style, I hope he didn’t say it because the substance of the remark is absurdly inaccurate.

        It is precisely the Runnymede re-coining of the earlier term (incidentally used in France in 1922) that created the hugely extensive, unwieldy, club of a word that has fritzed sensible discussion in the area, by identifying an ideology to maximise extent and then harnessing it to the prejudgment of irrational fear.

        It is a political re-coining designed to strong arm a result with the presumption that ideologies must comand universal and uniform respect.

        Hitchens was right to see this newly forged, intellectual cudgel as thoroughly distasteful.

        • In reply to #15 by phil rimmer:

          Glad to see you provided no link to any statement by Hitchens. It would be a slight dent in his reputation if he ever said anything so absurd as “a word created by fascists”.

          Perhaps you are calling the Runnymede Trust fascists. Are you?

          • In reply to #16 by aldous:

            In reply to #15 by phil rimmer:

            Glad to see you provided no link to any statement by Hitchens. It would be a slight dent in his reputation if he ever said anything so absurd as “a word created by fascists”.

            Perhaps you are calling the Runnymede Trust fascists. Are you?

            No. I wouldn’t use that language. I chose my own words carefully. I think their behaviour was manipulative and their discussion highly selective. Their behaviour in relation to this could at a stretch be called fascistic. More reasonably I see it as a handy tool for those of that persuasion, the ones who want to ensure that their visceral feelings on the matter hold sway.

          • In reply to #22 by phil rimmer:

            Their behaviour in relation to this could at a stretch be called fascistic.

            So you’re agreeing that it’s incorrect to call the Runnymede Trust fascists. Nevertheless you are claiming that they were something like propagandists for Mussolini and Hitler. You could save yourself the trouble of making preposterous slanders against the Runnymede Trust if you simply admitted the obvious fact that ‘Islamophobia’ and ‘anti-Semitism’ are terms which are often misused but that they refer to current forms of prejudice and discrimination which can lead to hate speech and violence.

            If you happen to know where Sam Harris got the quote from, it would be interesting to have a link.

          • In reply to #27 by aldous:

            In reply to #22 by phil rimmer:

            Their behaviour in relation to this could at a stretch be called fascistic.

            So you’re agreeing that it’s incorrect to call the Runnymede Trust fascists. Nevertheless you are claiming that they were something like propagandists for Mussolini and Hitler.

            Another when did you stop beating your wife question. There is no need to be an ideological fascist to have lapses into the types of behaviour that seek to emotionally strong arm a close grouping

            Runnymede’s wide casting of a new much broader usage of the term Islamophobia as detailed in the diagram and table in the link was politically expeditious at the cost of intellectual clarity. I suspect even now the authors fully approve of its effect.

            It makes me angry that the good work they intended has been so undercut by this folly. I neither know nor care about the origins of the Hitchens quotation. If he said it, I fully understand his anger. He would have been fully cognisant of the Runnymede paper.

          • In reply to #21 by Katy Cordeth:

            In reply to #15 by phil rimmer:

            …Hitchens was right to see this newly forged, intellectual cudgel as thoroughly distasteful.

            Nah, he was bein’ a boob.

            Not the first time. Pamphleteers go for the theatrical flourish.

            Turn the volume down a bit and he was right though. It is a “when did you stop beating your wife” kind of word. Re-coined by the Runnymede Trust for their own pamphleteering purposes.

      • In reply to #5 by Stuart M.:

        In reply to #4 by Syed:

        It is amazing to know a black woman can be hero to white male.

        This comment is just dripping with racism.

        Your comment is just dripping with pedantism.
        We know exactly what was meant by Syed’s comment.

    • In reply to #4 by Syed:

      It is amazing to know a black woman can be hero to white male.

      I’m sorry to hear you say this Syed, because it reveals that the virus of racism is almost universal.

      There is nothing about white skin or the possession of testicles that precludes the recognition of courage in someone who doesn’t share those traits. Even if it were true that most white males shared the prejudice you imply, the population on the internet is large enough that you shouldn’t be surprised that you’d encounter the exceptions. Also, Richard Dawkins dot net is also a rallying place for open-minded people of all colours.

      Add me to Ayaan Hirsi Ali admirers, white and masculine as I am. I also admire Carolyn Porco and Olaudah Equiano, Salif Keita and Susan Blackmore. I could go on but my point is made.

  4. Just when I’m telling myself to stop obsessing about religion, and visiting that bloody RDFRS, this image appears, and I’m reminded that not only are women being oppressed by it but many powerful individuals within its various communities have power over school syllabuses, including those here in Britain!

    Apropos of the article itself, it delineates nicely the between the individual religious person and the monolithic monstrosities within which many find themselves trapped, but it remains very difficult for the non believer to engage in constructive criticism of the latter without being accused of denouncing the former.

    Personally, I get het up when I make my feeble attempts to be Socratic, usually leaving the road and ending up in the ditch, so I prefer to stay schtum; generally speaking, I tend to use as an excuse the notion that it won’t make any difference anyway, but with friends and acquaintances I know from experience that with very few exceptions it will end up causing bad blood.

    How does it go now? Oh yes, I remember! “Religion poisons everything.”.

  5. We can even concede that the Old Testament is the most barbaric scripture of them all. But Christians and Jews don’t tend to take the worst of its passages seriously, for reasons that can be explained both by the centuries during which these Western faiths have been weathered by science and secularism and by crucial elements of their own theology.(Sam Harris)

    In the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s birthplace, Somalia, and her country of residence ,the USA, there is a crucial factor which deserves more attention. The GDP per capita in Somalia is $600 and in the United States $52,800. From an Islamophobic standpoint, the difference is obviously due to religion with no actual study of the facts being necessary. Historians and economists would not take such a crass view, I suspect.

    • In reply to #8 by aldous:

      In the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s birthplace, Somalia, and her country of residence ,the USA, there is a crucial factor which deserves more attention. The GDP per capita in Somalia is $600 and in the United States $52,800. From an Islamophobic standpoint, the difference is obviously due to religion with no actual study of the facts being necessary. Historians and economists would not take such a crass view, I suspect.

      Somalians immigrants live in western countries as well. We know for a fact that religious extremism is a problem that exist in next generation of muslim immigrants as well.

      • In reply to #18 by Maki:

        In reply to #8 by aldous:

        Somalians immigrants live in western countries as well. We know for a fact that religious extremism is a problem that exist in next generation of muslim immigrants as well….

        I would even go so far as to say that it is even a greater problem in the next generation then it is in the firstcomers….they feel more alienated then their parents and or more hardlined in their beliefs..

  6. I have always found it incomprehensible that the media and politicians in western countries concentrate all their attention on criticizing some random person for making cartoons of Muhammad or burning a copy of the quran, while the Muslims that go out and burn down houses and kill people are just ignored.

    I think the movie “Innocence of Muslims” is a really great example. An obscure Egyptian expatriate made a really low budget horribly produced c-movie about Muhammad. A movie basically no one in the western world had heard about, until some Muslim fundamentalists somehow (exactly how is a very interesting topic in itself) got their hands on this movie which sparked violence in Libya. When the dust settled hundreds were injured and about 50 people had died, including the American ambassador to Libya. Still, politicians like Hillary Clinton concentrated on criticizing this obscure movie that no one had heard of before the violent protests broke out. No, the fact that Muslim fundamentalists killed and injured hundreds of people (including an American ambassador) seemed of little importance to the western media and politicians.

    Another good example is when Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard (famous for the Muhammad cartoons) was attacked in his home by a Muslim fundamentalist armed with an axe, while his young child was at home. In the aftermath of this incident you could read columns and opinion pieces by prominent journalists in prominent news papers more or less saying that Kurt Westergaard had it coming. Nowhere to be found where articles condemning the fundamentalist who attacked and tried to brutally kill a person simply because he though some cartoon in a news paper was offensive. I mean, it’s quite terrifying that otherwise sensible people suddenly start blaming victims of extreme violence and death threats while the offenders and the ones making the threats largely are ignored or even at times defended. I mean, what the fuck is going on here? It would be unimaginable that the reaction would be the same if some cartoonist mocked Hitler and some neo-nazis started making death threats. Cartoonists mock Jesus and a range of Christian symbols every day. Still, if fundamentalist Christians would start making death threats they would be severely criticized and most likely sent to prison.

    So, how come Muslim fundamentalists can get away with things that no other group of people can get away with? How come we even defend them and blame the real victims when they do horrible things? A common answer is that we are terrified of Muslim terrorists. I don’t buy that explanation. I think the answer is a much more sinister and tragic one. I think it’s a very sad example of white guilt. Ironically this obsession with not being perceived as racist or xenophobic actually make people… well, racist and xenophobic. Just think about it. The people who defend Muslim fundamentalists and blame the real victims are actually saying that Muslim fundamentalists aren’t able to constrain themselves. Like the primitive savages they are they resort to violence whenever they feel even slightly threatened. They are intellectually challenged and need to be protected. You can’t reason and discuss things in a civilized way. The only way to deal with them is to walk on egg shells in order not to make them upset… if this view of Muslim fundamentalists isn’t terribly condescending, I honestly don’t know what is. As said, that is the big irony. The people who strive so hard not to be racist are actually the biggest racists of all.

    • In reply to #9 by Nunbeliever:

      I have always found it incomprehensible that the media and politicians in western countries concentrate all their attention on criticizing some random person for making cartoons of Muhammad or burning a copy of the quran, while the Muslims that go out and burn down houses and kill people are just ig…

      Perhaps you should watch Fox News.

        • In reply to #11 by Nunbeliever:

          Yes, exactly. When the old nutjobs at Fox News are the only ones pointing out the obvious you know something’s gone terribly wrong :D

          You certainly don’t have to rely on Fox News for the story of the kidnap of Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram. Not only is the coverage by western media and statements by politicians, as usual and quite correctly, condemnatory of the perpetrators and sympathetic to the victims but, in this instance, not confined to commenting on the situation. The SaveOurGirls campaign has gone global and there is support for the search and rescue effort by western governments on the ground in Nigeria.

          • In reply to #12 by aldous:

            You certainly don’t have to rely on Fox News for the story of the kidnap of Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram.

            Well, that’s because Boko Haram are mainly targeting other black people, and they don’t really do their acts as a direct consequence of being offended by westerners who criticize their religion. To most people in the west, Boko Haram look just like any of the countless violent para-military groups in Africa that attack other black people. Trust me, if Boko Haram were kidnapping westerners because someone burnt a copy of the quran they would get lots of support.

          • In reply to #12 by aldous:

            In reply to #11 by Nunbeliever:

            Yes, exactly. When the old nutjobs at Fox News are the only ones pointing out the obvious you know something’s gone terribly wrong :D

            You certainly don’t have to rely on Fox News for the story of the kidnap of Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram. Not only is the coverage by western media and statements by politicians, as usual and quite correctly, condemnatory of the perpetrators and sympathetic to the victims but, in this instance, not confined to commenting on the situation.

            Actually, most if not all reporting is usually limited to condemning the perpetrators as vile extremists. Nobody even dares to comment on the intrinsic evil of the Islamic ideology or the hypocrisy of the Catholic ideology when reporting sex scandals. Nowhere in the mainstream media is religion ever criticized for being responsible of anything. They simply don’t go there.

            Medias have changed and not always not for the best.

          • In reply to #14 by NearlyNakedApe:

            Nobody even dares to comment on the intrinsic evil of the Islamic ideology

            You’re doing it yourself. As for news media, you’re demanding that Western news media act like those in totalitarian countries and insert condemnations of ‘intrinsic evil’ into news reports. I think we should prefer sources like the BBC where they attempt to stick to the facts and leave it to others to make judgements. Impartial reporting is essential for democracy.

          • There is though a middle ground between the current reporting of Muslim terrorism as the act of a handful of extremists and a declaration of Islam as intrinsically evil. The perpetrators may be a tiny minority but they enjoy widespread support among other Muslims. This is not reflected at all in BBC news coverage in the same way that, for example, growing support for far right groups in Europe is presented as a looming threat.

            In reply to #17 by aldous:

            In reply to #14 by NearlyNakedApe:

            Nobody even dares to comment on the intrinsic evil of the Islamic ideology

            You’re doing it yourself. As for news media, you’re demanding that Western news media act like those in totalitarian countries and insert condemnations of ‘intrinsic evil’ into news repor…

          • In reply to #20 by paulmcuk:

            There is though a middle ground between the current reporting of Muslim terrorism as the act of a handful of extremists and a declaration of Islam as intrinsically evil. The perpetrators may be a tiny minority but they enjoy widespread support among other Muslims. This is not reflected at all in BBC…

            Yes but your assertion of widespread support is no more than that an assertion. Taking the Muslims among my own friends, colleagues and students I doubt that any perpetrators would find much support at all – unless of course you are following the Israeli line that all Palestinians are at least potentially terrorist – but then you shouldn’t forget that a substantial minority of Palestinians are Christian. In my lifetime, I have seem far more support for IRA and UDA terrorists than ever I have for Islamic fighters whose motivation seems obscure and incomprehensible to many western Muslims.

          • In reply to #25 by steve.brunt1:

            Yes but your assertion of widespread support is no more than that an assertion. Taking the Muslims among my own friends, colleagues and students I doubt that any perpetrators would find much support at all – unless of course you are following the Israeli line that all Palestinians are at least potentially terrorist – but then you shouldn’t forget that a substantial minority of Palestinians are Christian.

            I agree. Also, I don’t know about the current Palestinian groups but in the past a large percentage were Marxists and not religious at all. This is often overlooked when people talk about how wide spread Muslim terrorism is, that many of the terrorist acts perpetrated by the earliest Palestinian groups were done by people with a Marxist not Islamic world view.

          • In reply to #29 by Red Dog:

            people talk about how wide spread Muslim terrorism is

            Terrorism is often defined as what they do to us and similar violence as legitimate self- defence when we do it to them. But what makes military violence worse when there is a religious motive anyway? I mean, intrinsically worse, and not just worse on some particular occasion. Is it really less heinous to decapitate somebody in a drone strike than in a suicide bomb attack? Does it make any significant difference if a horrific killing is carried out by somebody shouting ‘Allah akbar’ or by a drone pilot in his chair, eating a sandwich?

          • In reply to #30 by aldous:

            In reply to #29 by Red Dog:

            people talk about how wide spread Muslim terrorism is

            But what makes military violence worse when there is a religious motive anyway? I mean, intrinsically worse, and not just worse on some particular occasion. Is it really less heinous to decapitate somebody in a drone strike than in a suicide bomb attack? Does it make any significant difference if a horrific killing is carried out by somebody shouting ‘Allah akbar’ or by a drone pilot in his chair, eating a sandwich?

            Only that if they are part of a democracy and not ideologically driven by religious belief they would be just as happy not to do the job they have been given. Which puts an onus on us to not vote for politicans who enter us into needless wars.

          • In reply to #30 by aldous:

            In reply to #29 by Red Dog:

            people talk about how wide spread Muslim terrorism is

            Terrorism is often defined as what they do to us and similar violence as legitimate self- defence when we do it to them. But what makes military violence worse when there is a religious motive anyway? I mean, intrins…

            If I first may indulge in examining what you have said, there seems to be some inconsistency in what you have written. You are asking whether there is an “intrinsic” difference between religiously motivated violence and violence motivated from another perspective. But your example of the man shouting “Allahu Akabar” (I think Allahu has a “u” on the end.. apologies for missing any accents over the letters… not sure how to add them in this editor) and the drone pilot is that you’ve assigned a motivation to the religious man yet not a comparative motivation to the drone strike operator (except that he is hungry and so is eating a sandwich)… so, to me, it seems your comparison is not symmetric. Attempting to correct this perceived asymmetry: if your example becomes one between a religiously motivated suicide bomber who blows himself up in a crowded market-place killing civilians and a drone strike operator who is part of an organization who are attempting to stop such acts as the one by the suicide bomber by targeting the people responsible for such acts (one my argue about the effectiveness of their chosen strategies, but that is a different argument) then, to me, it is clear that the context of the motivation is of significant importance in determining the relative merits of the acts. Granted, one can broaden the context and argue over the need to “go to war” in the first place (not-so-existent weapons of mass destruction etc.) but the idea that acts of violence motivated by a dogmatic, ideological, irrational desire to suppress other people’s ability/desire to live in a society free from persecution are worse than similar acts of violence that seek to combat such people… I think holds some water. I agree the issue is complex, but there is significant merit, I think, in including the context in assessing the nature/justification/whatever of the acts of violence. Whether this counts as “intrinsic” to the act is potentially one of “semantics” (one could argue intrinsic/extrinsic for a long time) but my opinion what be that the context/motivation/whatever is vital in assessing the nature of the acts and should not be/cannot be(?) divorced from the acts in assessing their nature.

            [Apologies, in advance, if you respond to this post and I fail to respond in any reasonable time frame... or at all... I don't find a lot of time to post. Note: I agree with quite a few of the other sentiments you have posted... I just particularly didn't agree with this one... or perhaps your expression didn't convey to me what you were trying to say. Best wishes.]

          • In reply to #63 by Theo H:

            You are asking whether there is an “intrinsic” difference between religiously motivated violence and violence motivated from another perspective.

            I was considering what the difference was between being decapitated by a drone pilot or an Islamic militant.The point I was focussing was whether the religious motivation made the act any worse. I would say it doesn’t. You would then have to look elsewhere for a moral justification as you did when you argued — fallaciously in my opinion–that American drone attacks in Pakistan are covered by a ‘just war’ theory.

          • Without religion, you can at least hope that the person responsible for the drone strike sleeps bad at night, knowing that innocents have died.

            Religion on the other hand, makes it possible for that person to sleep sound, in the knowledge that he is following “god’s plan” .

            Religion can destroy our sense of right and wrong, turning the best of people into monsters.

            In reply to #30 by aldous:

            In reply to #29 by Red Dog:

            people talk about how wide spread Muslim terrorism is

            Terrorism is often defined as what they do to us and similar violence as legitimate self- defence when we do it to them. But what makes military violence worse when there is a religious motive anyway? I mean, intrins…

          • Actually no, I’m referring the polls conducted among Muslims that have shown worryingly high levels of support for the actions and motives of terrorists, especially among young men. Alas, I’m going from memory but in recent years there have been a number of such polls conducted in the UK and Pakistan that have received very muted publicity in the British media.

            There are a number listed here: http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/opinion-polls.htm (please note that I’m not endorsing the site or it’s stance, it’s just one I found with links to surveys and articles).

            What IS just my assertion is that similar levels of support for far right/racist groups would receive massively more media coverage.

            In reply to #25 by steve.brunt1:

            In reply to #20 by paulmcuk:

            Yes but your assertion of widespread support is no more than that an assertion. Taking the Muslims among my own friends, colleagues and students I doubt that any perpetrators would find much support at all -

    • In reply to #9 by Nunbeliever:

      I have always found it incomprehensible that the media and politicians in western countries concentrate all their attention on criticizing some random person for making cartoons of Muhammad or burning a copy of the quran, while the Muslims that go out and burn down houses and kill people are just ig…

      we should not forget that most muslims, even in this day and age, actually live in what could be mostly compared to our dark ages in europe… you could hardly say anything wrong then about christianity without running a very serious risk of being burned alive.. having said that, it does not give them the right to go out and plunge an axe in your back for saying anything wrong about especially muhammed (thank god (?) the last of the effing prophets…). we should all urge our politicians to take a harder stance toward these idiots if they wish to live here in the free western world.. if they cannot accept that we have the right to speak freely about anything and everything, they have no right to be here and should be deported back to wherever they came from. if born here, they can go back to where their family originated from..

      • In reply to #115 by Anti-theist preacher:

        if they cannot accept that we have the right to speak freely about anything and everything, they have no right to be here and should be deported back to wherever they came from. if born here, they can go back to where their family originated from..

        If Muslim citizens of the UK commit a crime, they must be dealt with in the same way as any other UK citizens. To suggest otherwise is highly discriminatory (not to mention the phobia word).

    • In reply to #9 by Nunbeliever:

      I think terrorists by-in-large are uneducated brutes. Why they get away with it is beyond me. None-the-less, I as an American woman won’t go to an Arab (Muslim) doctor because Muslims have weird ideas about women that seem to be inherent in the religion. Am I being prejudiced, yes I know that, but in the heart of all women IS fear of oppression, mutilation, feeling sub-human in the hands of Arab men. I can’t help but see behind their eyes a deep seated distain for women. I know not all Muslims are like that but frankly I can’t shake the mistrust I have them. Sad isn’t it?! Sometimes I hate the men of this species for what they have done to women in the name of religion! I feel bad for saying this but there it is in all it’s honesty.

      • In reply to #369 by mombird:

        .. I can’t help but see behind their eyes a deep seated distain for women. I know not all Muslims are like that but frankly I can’t shake the mistrust I have them. Sad isn’t it?! Sometimes I hate the men of this species for what they have done to women in the name of religion! I feel bad for saying this but there it is in all it’s honesty.

        Even though I try very hard to take people as I find them, this is usually only successful when I know the individual personally. When confronted with a public figure the distrust is there at the back of my mind and I find myself having to fight against it.

        We have an excellent social commentator/journalist by the name of Waleed Ali. I really enjoy reading his comments and invariably find myself aligned on every issue. He has a lovely, articulate wife who is often seen on television as the public face of the Muslim woman. Back to Waleed…. I find my impressions a challenge because I’m on his side and yet have an innate distrust.

        I sympathise with you.

        • In reply to #371 by Nitya:

          In reply to #369 by mombird:

          .. I can’t help but see behind their eyes a deep seated distain for women. I know not all Muslims are like that but frankly I can’t shake the mistrust I have them. Sad isn’t it?! Sometimes I hate the men of this species for what they have done to women in the name of re…
          When you hear about how these men mistreat women (gang rapes, mutilation, forced marriage, veils and berkas) how can you NOT be an Islamophobe???

          • In reply to #372 by mombird:

            . When you hear about how these men mistreat women (gang rapes, mutilation, forced marriage, veils and berkas) how can you NOT be an Islamophobe???

            I still think we need to take people as we find them as the IDEAL. We don’t have to look very far afield to see appalling treatment of others in the name of Christianity. We don’t apply the same pre-judgement on every Christian we come across in our day-to-day activities because these comprise the bulk of our interactions. We’ve learnt to view these encounters on their individual merit….that is, taking people as we find them.

          • In reply to #375 by Nitya:

            In reply to #372 by mombird:

            . When you hear about how these men mistreat women (gang rapes, mutilation, forced marriage, veils and berkas) how can you NOT be an Islamophobe???

            I still think we need to take people as we find them as the IDEAL. We don’t have to look very far afield to see appalling…

            True, in real life, of course, I don’t walk around with a chip on my shoulder, but when I think of how women have been treated all thru. history well… it’s just a release to vent my spleen on blogs. Women have suffered so much at the hands of men. It bothers me a lot.

      • In reply to #369 by mombird:

        as an American woman won’t go to an Arab (Muslim) doctor because Muslims have weird ideas about women that seem to be inherent in the religion.

        If you have a choice, what’s the problem? If you happen to find yourself in a hospital in Britain, though, you would have trouble keeping away from doctors from India or Pakistan, It wouldn’t be very wise to insist on white British doctors only. As well as the medical problems that could cause, there are also laws against showing racial prejudice.

        How do you recognize a Muslim doctor anyway? Lots of doctors are not religious and lots of Arab-looking men might be Christian or Sikh.

        • In reply to #374 by aldous:

          In reply to #369 by mombird:

          as an American woman won’t go to an Arab (Muslim) doctor because Muslims have weird ideas about women that seem to be inherent in the religion.

          If you have a choice, what’s the problem? If you happen to find yourself in a hospital in Britain, though, you would have tro…

          Yes, yes, yes I know I’m being prejudiced, I know. I’ve had some bad experiences behind it. I do have a choice and I go to women doctors. There- problem solved. And religious doctors do have weird ideas including Christian ones. How do I know- more bad experiences.

  7. Ayaan is a fellow with the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School. She is also a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, currently researching the relationship between the West and Islam.

    Regarding Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s views on the ‘relationship’ between Islam and the West, according to this article:

    She contends that Islam is “a destructive, nihilistic cult of death” that must be defeated at all costs.

    In an interview with Reason magazine, this became clear when the interviewer asked if by “defeating Islam” Hirsi Ali meant, “defeating radical Islam?” She replied: “No. Islam, period.” When the reporter asked her to further elaborate what she meant by “defeat Islam” she replied: “I think that we are at war with Islam. And there is no middle ground in wars. Islam can be defeated in many ways….You look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, ‘This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.’ There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.”

    The interviewer then asked, “Militarily?” Hirsi Ali replied: “In all forms.”

    Presently:

    Hirsi has supported anti-immigration policies that target Muslim communities in the west. She has also suggested that the US constitution be amended to restrict Muslim civil liberties. She has called for closure of all Muslim day schools in the US.


    Sam Harris:

    Second, I’d like us to address the issue of “Islamophobia”—which has become the catchall criticism applied to anyone who is more worried about Islam than, say, Mormonism

    Increasingly, questioning Islam results in a person’s being vilified as an “Islamophobe” and a “bigot”—or, in a ridiculous but omnipresent misuse of the term, as a “racist.” These charges come from Muslims themselves and from their apologists on the Left. Even major news sites, such as The Guardian and Salon, frequently publish these attacks.

    It isn’t the questioning of Islam that results in accusations of Islamophobia being leveled. A favorite tactic of those such as Harris, Hirsi Ali and others who wish to go about their scaremongering unimpeded is to allege that the left has instituted a blanket condemnation on all criticism of Muslims and will descend on anyone who dares to critique any aspect of Islam or Muslims, regardless of what the criticism actually is. This is a big, useful fib.

    What they’re essentially doing is hiding behind the “You can’t say nothin’ now because of political correctness” shield. Opposition to FGM, advocacy of racial profiling at airports, and organizing against new places of worship or gathering are thus equivalent, and anyone who says community centers are a good thing and the particular mouthbreathers who oppose their construction might, just might, be motivated be racism is by association an unwitting supporter of female genital mutilation.

    Critique Islam and Muslims by all means, Sam, the religion itself and many of its followers are ripe for it; but don’t try and maintain that any and all criticism of your views comes from the same place.

    The irony that you’re doing the same thing you accuse your critics of is apparently lost on you: Any criticism of Islam is Islamophobic versus any criticism of critics of Islam is unthinking, reactive leftism.

    Am I alone in being intrigued by the quotation marks surrounding the words Islamophobe, bigot and racist? I know Sam thinks that Islamophobia should be expunged from our language as there’s no such thing—D’oh!—but surely he acknowledges the existence of bigotry and racism, even if they have no connection to that dread word which takes all the fun out of loathing Muslims. Curse you Greenwaaald! Weird.

    I feel kinda bad sometimes for these types. They’ve been caught, in an orchard, at midnight, pockets stuffed with apples, and their only defense is to insist there’s no such thing as scrumping. Isn’t it just a teeny bit… Orwellian to try and control the language in this manner and seek to rid it of a term critical of your worldview? For some reason I’m reminded of a scene from the original British version of Ricky Gervais’ sitcom The Office in which the obnoxious salesman Chris Finch utters the line “So I said to him, ‘How can I hate women? My mum’s a woman.’ “

    In the West, we tend to focus on the threat that Islamic terrorism poses to our own societies. But as galling as that is, radical Islam currently causes much more suffering elsewhere, in the form of sectarian violence, the repression of women, and the suppression of free thought in dozens of countries that can ill afford to stifle so much of their populations—mired as they are in economic and political conditions akin to what Europe and America left behind 150 years ago. For reasons that are not especially mysterious, the House of Islam remains the most ramshackle house on the street.

    I’m guessing those non-mysterious reasons are entirely to do with the religion itself, and if Christianity or Judaism had taken hold instead in what is now the Muslim world, the inhabitants of these places would today be enjoying the sort of prosperity we in the West take for granted.

    Perhaps I’m wrong though and Sam Harris is acknowledging that Islam, a religion whose principal text lest we forget was cut-and-pasted from Judaism’s own Big Bumper Book of Rules, may not be entirely responsible for the current state of affairs in these hellholes, and the prosperity we enjoy might have something to do with our past history of colonialism.

    If Harris does believe that Islam alone is responsible for the poverty rife in the Islamic world, one wonders if he thinks those of us in nations whose history was, to put it mildly, informed by Christianity should give thanks to your man Jesus and the myriad institutions and individuals that claimed and continue to claim allegiance to Him. Thank you, Roman Catholic Church; nice one, European monarchic hierarchies; cheers to George W. and his puppy and prayer buddy Tone.

    Some might argue that old Sam has painted himself into exactly this corner: criticism of Muslims can’t possibly be racist, he informs us, so that isn’t the reason for Musglumness. Colonialism isn’t responsible—did someone say Partition? Certainly not Sam. Nations exist in a vacuum… apparently; islands entirely unto themselves.

    The West’s embarrassment of riches had to come from somewhere, and in one of the practical jokes the big guy is famous for, God chose to put much of the stuff we like (pretty, shiny stuff such as gold and diamonds) and useful stuff we need (black, sticky stuff that fuels our industrial ambitions) under Johnny Foreigner’s lands. He informed us that free labor comes with His own seal of approval, and my goodness if we didn’t take Him at His word.

    Only someone stubbornly and willfully blinkered would assert that Western wealth didn’t come from the subjugation of other cultures. Never mind, though, as that sort of thing remains resolutely in the past. 150 years in the past to be precise. Except… well, slavery hasn’t been abolished so much as it’s been outsourced: a $200 pair of sneakers will have been made by someone—a grownup someone if the company whose logo appears on the heel is particularly forward-thinking in its manufacturing practices or is frightened of being exposed—who would need to work for about a thousand years before she could afford to buy a pair for herself. It’s our God-given right too to fill up the tank of our motorcar with gasoline without this putting too much of a dent in our bank account, leading us to elect governments which support monstrously corrupt regimes in oil-rich nations. Still, that’s all thousands of miles away and out of sight is out of mind. Yay for us and our evolution into a kinder, more gentle race of people. Man or superman, Freddy? Er, superman I think you’ll find. Or Eloi if you prefer—and damn those filthy Morlocks in their subterranean realm.

    This isn’t just white liberal guilt on my part, by the way. Invading other countries, killing their citizenry, and robbing them blind is what’s gone on since time immemorial—one might say it’s the defining characteristic of our species. We’re a bloody, brutal lot, bless our hearts, and this has served us well. But to ignore one’s own history as Harris and his type are wont to do and put the blame on religion alone, to maintain that the Muslim world is ‘the most ramshackle house on the street’ and this is attributable entirely to the tenets of a couple of manky old books, is disingenuous to say the least. This sort of simplistic attitude is kin to the Tea-Party “I built this” mentality: “Everything I have I acquired myself through my own hard graft. My haulage business succeeded because of me and me alone and the fact there’s a road infrastructure in place paid for by taxes is irrelevant to my success.” Nothing comes about in a vacuum.

    Moving on.

    The reason why I think it’s important to deal with these personal attacks—apart from your being a dear friend—is that you are also an incredibly valuable symbol. Unlike almost any other person on earth, you have fully recapitulated the Enlightenment in your own life. You went from being a devout Muslim standing barefoot in a village in Somalia to being a secular Member of Parliament in the Netherlands in a few short years. It’s astonishing to me what you managed to accomplish and the speed with which you accomplished it. If I had been obliged to follow in your footsteps, I’d still be struggling to learn Dutch.

    O.B.N.s aside, you’d think that someone who began life in an oppressive environment, only finding true freedom when she escaped to the secular West, wouldn’t be so keen to take a machete to this rope-bridge after having crossed it herself, stranding millions of her fellow victims of Islam on the other side. Ms. Hirsi Ali’s view that Muslim immigration to the West should be limited if not banned entirely seems a little mean. Which leads to this:

    I also find it very depressing, and rather ominous, that liberal women are not celebrating you as the best example in a generation of what could and should happen for nearly a billion of their sisters currently living under Islam. Your lack of feminist allies is alarming. And the fact that so many liberals ditch their commitment to gender equality and attack you in the name of “religious sensitivity,” despite all that you’ve been through—making your life both less pleasant and more dangerous in the process—is just infuriating.

    Yeah… see above. It’s all very well to be the loudest voice in the fight against the butchering of young girls’ genitals and oppression of Muslim females generally, but if the simplest solution of all for many—flight—is a dead end thanks to your own political efforts, you’re going to lose a lot of credibility with actual feminists, many of whom might start to wonder if you’re simply using the emotive issue of FGM to disguise your real agenda. Only a villain would lament the increase of local incidents of domestic violence and then sign a petition to stop a woman’s shelter opening in his or her neighborhood.

    Hirsi Ali: Thank you, Sam. I’m very happy to talk to you. Well, on the topic of Breivik, it goes without saying that I was horrified by his actions. He is one of the worst mass murderers in history, and there’s no question about that. Like most people, I had never heard of him before he went on his killing spree. However, he did write a thousand-page manifesto in which he quoted John Stuart Mill and other thinkers, and even me. Trying to use other people to justify your own actions is not unusual in mass murderers. Osama bin Laden quoted Noam Chomsky with approval. Does that make Chomsky in any way culpable for the behavior of bin Laden? Of course not. Just as no one quoted by Breivik is responsible for him.

    I’m going to do my usual thing here of pleading ignorance, both of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s writings and Norm Chomsky’s. I know that one of my pals on this site, C.C., is a fan of the latter, and as the aforementioned contributor and I share (I think) broadly the same outlook on the world, I doubt he would be so fond of that author if it were/was (see, I don’t even know if the guy’s alive or dead) his habit to stoke the embers of intolerance and whip up hatred against minorities (unless that minority is the 1%, who are fair game in my book and deserving of the executioner’s blade. Kidding.) As for Ms. Hirsi Ali, well, we’ve already learned from the piece by Kashif N Chaudhry I linked to earlier that according to her, Islam is ‘ “a destructive, nihilistic cult of death” that must be defeated at all costs,’ and “In all forms.”

    Hirsi Ali’s claim that no one quoted by Anders Behring Breivik in his manifesto could be considered complicit in his homicidal actions isn’t as straightforward as she or Harris would have us believe. Understand I’m not saying I think she is complicit; merely that it’s not correct to say that anybody who writes or articulates something which someone else chooses to act on necessarily has clean hands, be it legally or morally. This is why civilized societies tend to have laws prohibiting incitement to violence, and why political correctness, the bane of those on the right of the political spectrum, has largely been a force for good. I’m happy Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s conscience is clear vis-à-vis the Breivik affair. Good for her. Seriously, good for her.

    In any case, I gave a speech at an award ceremony in Berlin, in the spring of 2012, on the shortcomings of policies based on the theory of “multiculturalism,” and I said that Breivik was one deeply unfortunate product of these policies, as are the rising number of European jihadists.

    Voice of Doctor John A. Zoidberg: “Again with the quotation marks!” Multiculturalism is a thing. It’s an actual social policy, whether you happen to agree with it or not. Enclosing any idea you take issue with inside scare quotes doesn’t serve your argument, it just makes you look—”I see ‘President’ Obama has done this or that.”—like a tool. Not Hirsi Ali’s fault.

    I guess we all have our ideas about what factors have contributed to the rise of European jihadism. Multiculturalism may be one… it ain’t alone though. I do find it rather offensive to hear someone blame multiculturalism for the actions of a mass-murdering psychopath. I thought we’d moved on from the society-made-me-do-it excuse. Would love to hear Ayaan’s views on affluenza.

    But an analysis of Breivik’s writing and testimony shows that he complains bitterly of seeing no way to engage in politics other than to use violence. I also said that I have come across many other people who complained in this way. Instead of violence, for now, these people preach apathy, distrust of the system, and “white flight.” But it is all too easy to see the progression from this type of thinking to violence, and that is a very dangerous place for society to be. Sadly, in extreme cases, until something changes, I think we should expect more violence.

    The above paragraph is the first thing in this article that makes some sort of sense. Ayaan shows some keen psychological insight here into what motivates young, disenfranchised individuals and sets them on a violent and self-destructive path. Sociopolitical factors count for everything.

    If you’re culturally from the West.

    See what I did there? That’s satire is what that is.

    It never hurts, neither, to imply that more violence is always inevitable, from either side. It’s a scare tactic to be sure, despicable certainly, but guaranteed to get gullible, frightened simpletons on your side. I’m going to resist the temptation here to link to an image of this man. You’re welcome.

    My remarks in Berlin were a plea to lift the iron curtain of political correctness so that citizens can engage in politics through peaceful means and debate, and thus channel their frustrations with immigration and Islam through the system. This is elementary political science—but, of course, Islamists and their friends on the Left have twisted my words to make me sound like I was applauding an atrocity. Multiculturalist policies and political correctness make it easier for radical Muslims to preach, inspire, mobilize, and target immigrant communities on the grounds of religious freedom. And those who criticize them in Europe are silenced or branded as racist Islamophobes. In the long run, you get more jihadist ghettoes and intolerant right-wing enclaves. That is the tragic outcome of decades of policies that had good intentions in theory, but in reality have instead cemented divisions between groups and bred too much insularity and mistrust. We cannot be so afraid of causing verbal offense that we lose the ability to have open debate—because that debate will still be had, but by less peaceful means.

    I don’t know what these Berlin remarks were and whether they were bigoted or not. A link to what Ayaan actually said would have been helpful here. The notion that causing verbal offense can act as some sort of release valve on the pressure cooker of interculturalism, as was suggested in the final sentence of the above quotation, and is the only thing standing in the way of all-out race war, is a new one on me, I must admit. The very site on which I am commenting is moderated by a bunch of folks who know that insults are reductive and inimical to debate, and will ban anyone who resorts simply to using pejoratives.

    Maybe political correctness is a bad thing. Racial epithets such as nigger, kike, slope and camel jockey are no longer acceptable; the c-word (see, even on this site one has to self censor when it comes to that word even if one happens to be female) and other dysphemisms for girly parts employed as insults both for tails and no-tails are verboten (as a woman, I try not to use the c-word… but how are you supposed to drive?); and faggots, bum bandits, shirtlifters, puddle jumpers, whatever you want to call those disgustoids, get to go about their appalling business with impunity. This is all down to the evil that is political correctness, mark you, so let’s improve society by dispensing with it.

    I’ve never been entirely sure what those who oppose multiculturalism want. That the newly arrived should learn the language of the country they’ve immigrated to? Fair enough I suppose. It is difficult though. I speak French and a little German, but this ability was acquired when I was a youngling, a period when the human brain picks up languages like a vaccuum cleaner sucks up dust. Under anti-multiculturalism rules I, a citizen of the world, would only get to live and work in English-speaking countries, France (no thank you), and parts of Africa. That prospective immigrants should agree to give up their religion before their application for residency is accepted? Surely freedom of conscience is paramount and shouldn’t be left in the control of governments. When these’re done converting Muslims to the religion of the land, why wouldn’t atheists be next? Dammit if this paranoia stuff isn’t contagious.

    Let’s talk about the misconceptions surrounding your asylum in the Netherlands.

    Let’s not and just say we did. There’s an abundance of testimony, from the lady in question’s relatives and other sources, which leads one to believe she may not always be entirely uneconomical with the truth. I’ll leave it to someone who actually cares to separate the truths from the non-truths. If such an individual can be found.

    I wonder whether Harris if familiar with the concept of taqiyya. If the makers of TV’s 24 are reading this, I think I might be able to furnish you guys with the plotline for the entire next season of your show. Call me.

    Harris: So the truly mortifying answer to the question of why you are at the AEI is that no liberal institution would offer you shelter when you most needed it—and when your value to the global conversation about free speech, the rights of women, and other norms of civilization was crystal clear. And ever since, your affiliation with the one institution that did take you in has been used to defame you in liberal circles. Perfect.

    I think your man may be channeling Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity here. That is the sort of logic favored by these types.

    Harris: …I’m a liberal by nearly every measure. Give me a list of liberal values and prejudices, and I will check almost every box.

    Hirsi Ali: So will I.

    I’m a vegetarian. Between meals.


    I’m going to leave it there for the time being. I had intended to respond to Sam’s article in its entirety but I did what I often do and started responding before I’d read the whole thing. I didn’t realize it was quite as long as it was.

    • In reply to #19 by Katy Cordeth:

      Ayaan is a fellow with the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School. She is also a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, currently researching the relationship between the West and Islam.

      Regarding Ayaan Hirsi…

      Feel better now?

      I did enjoy your contribution, but, I didn’t realize it was going to be as long as it is.

      • In reply to #31 by Stuart M.:

        the “”””colonialism-made-me-do-it”””” excuse

        You’ve got explanation mixed up with exculpation. A GDP per capita in Somalia of $600 and of $52,800. in the United States can’t be explained by saying, ‘Religion did it’. Any sensible discussion of political and social affairs has to give proper weight to the various factors involved.

        • In reply to #40 by aldous:

          In reply to #31 by Stuart M.:

          the “”””colonialism-made-me-do-it”””” excuse

          You’ve got explanation mixed up with exculpation. A GDP per capita in Somalia of $600 and of $52,800. in the United States can’t be explained by saying, ‘Religion did it’. Any sensible discussion of political and social af…

          Saying a country is violent just because it is poor is a stretch too. I agree with those (including Richard Dawkins) who say Islam has seriously retarded science in Muslim countries. Yes, Granada in Spain was splendid, but what have they done lately?

          An interesting historical fact, the Barbary pirates in northern Africa back in the early 1800s were behaving exactly the same way as the Somali pirates are doing today. Back then the Barbary pirate raids on coastal towns and shipping made them extremely wealthy. According to Wikipedia, the early USA had to pay 20% of its federal budget in tribute to the Barbary states to exempt American ships from Barbary raids. The Islamic proscription against usury probably also retarded Muslim economic development. Colonialism is the leftists’ knee jerk “explanation” or “exculpation” for Third World backwardness when religious factors are probably far more significant.

          • In reply to #42 by Stuart M.:

            Saying a country is violent just because it is poor is a stretch too.

            So it would be. Since the United States isn’t a poor country that wouldn’t be the explanation for its invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan or the drone campaign in Pakistan. But perhaps you were only referring to violence by ‘them’ and not by ‘us’.

            What I said was that relevant factors, including religion, should be given due consideration in an analysis of events. What I was not suggesting was that a monomoniacal focus on Islam should be replaced by some equally ridiculous one-note ‘explanation’.

      • In reply to #31 by Stuart M.:

        In reply to #19 by Katy Cordeth:

        I thought we’d moved on from the society-made-me-do-it excuse.

        I guess Katy has moved on to the “”””colonialism-made-me-do-it”””” excuse.

        Hirsi Ali has insinuated that some mythical politically correct, liberal conspiracy of silence was responsible for Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik’s actions. In that context, I don’t really think my view that western activity in non-Christian countries has fueled and continues to fuel Islamic extremism and hatred of our part of the world wins the award for outlandish ideas.

        Mine seems a better explanation, to me at least, than the one which asserts anti-western animus on the part of many Muslims exists solely because their religious texts tell them to despise non-Muslims.

        If I am wrong though and all the hate is because of words written down a millennium and a half ago, sorta makes me wonder why the U.S. and the U.K., aka Great Satan and his boy Damien, bear most of the brunt of this rage. There is after all a heck of a lot of west to hate.

        Sorry for the tardy reply.

        • No she hasn’t. And if you’d bothered to read the linked interview, you wouldn’t be so ignorant of what she actually did say.
          When I read that someone has ”insinuated” something, I suspect misrepresentation. And that’s exactly what you did there.

          In reply to #237 by Katy Cordeth:

          Hirsi Ali has insinuated that some mythical politically correct, liberal conspiracy of silence…

          • In reply to #239 by mistermack:

            No she hasn’t. And if you’d bothered to read the linked interview, you wouldn’t be so ignorant of what she actually did say.
            When I read that someone has ”insinuated” something, I suspect misrepresentation. And that’s exactly what you did there.

            In reply to #237 by Katy Cordeth:

            Hirsi Ali has in…

            From Loonwatch.com:

            “[T]hat one man who killed 77 people in Norway, because he fears that Europe will be overrun by Islam, may have cited the work of those who speak and write against political Islam in Europe and America – myself among them – but he does not say in his 1500 page manifesto that it was these people who inspired him to kill. He says very clearly that it was the advocates of silence. Because all outlets to express his views were censored, he says, he had no other choice but to use violence.”

          • Your quote does not match your post. You said that she INSINUATED that some mythical politically correct, liberal conspiracy of silence WAS RESPONSIBLE for Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik’s actions.
            No she didn’t. She quoted what HE claimed.
            He made that claim. She didn’t support it, or insinuate that it was true or valid.

            Like I said, all you have to do is follow the link above, that says ”read the conversation here .”
            If you can’t even be bothered with that, it’s hardly surprising you are misrepresenting her.
            In reply to #240 by Katy Cordeth:

          • In reply to #242 by mistermack:

            Your quote does not match your post. You said that she INSINUATED that some mythical politically correct, liberal conspiracy of silence WAS RESPONSIBLE for Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik’s actions. No she didn’t. She quoted what HE claimed. He made that claim. She didn’t support it, or insinuate that it was true or valid.

            Like I said, all you have to do is follow the link above, that says ”read the conversation here .” If you can’t even be bothered with that, it’s hardly surprising you are misrepresenting her. In reply to #240 by Katy Cordeth:

            I have read the conversation, mistermack. I posted a comment (rather a long one I’m afraid) here a few days ago.

            The article seemed a little self-serving if I’m honest. Two pals getting together for a backslapping fest. Call me cynical if you like but without any third party to challenge what was said, why should I just accept it at face value? It’s for this reason that I seldom read autobiographies.

            Did you read any of the articles Red Dog or I linked to? They’re worth a look.

            I confess to being a little confused re the problem you have with my comments 237 and 240. I think what I said stands. Perhaps you’d be kind enough to direct me to the specific section in Harris’ piece that you believe proves me wrong.

            Ta.

          • I did put your words in capitals for you, to make it simple. She never said, or insinuated, that anyone, or any conspiracy WAS RESPONSIBLE for his actions. He was the only one responsible for his actions, and she didn’t say or insinuate otherwise.
            You are confusing responsibility with motivation. Jumping from fact to slander without a care.
            If he quotes some ”conspiracy” as his motivation, and she mentions what he claimed as his motivation, that does NOT mean she thinks anything, other than him, is responsible. He is a loony, and did a loony thing.
            But it’s perfectly sensible for her to point out what is helping to breed this lunacy. That doesn’t shift responsibility from the loony.

            In reply to #249 by Katy Cordeth:_

            I confess to being a little confused re the problem you have with my comments 237 and 240. I think what I said stands. Perhaps you’d be kind enough to direct me to the specific section in Harris’ piece that you believe proves me wrong.

          • In reply to #258 by mistermack:

            I did put your words in capitals for you, to make it simple. She never said, or insinuated, that anyone, or any conspiracy WAS RESPONSIBLE for his actions. He was the only one responsible for his actions, and she didn’t say or insinuate otherwise. You are confusing responsibility with motivation. Jumping from fact to slander without a care. If he quotes some ”conspiracy” as his motivation, and she mentions what he claimed as his motivation, that does NOT mean she thinks anything, other than him, is responsible. He is a loony, and did a loony thing. But it’s perfectly sensible for her to point out what is helping to breed this lunacy. That doesn’t shift responsibility from the loony.

            Complicit in his actions, then, if you’re determined to split hairs. Answerable. Blameworthy. Culpable. Other synonyms are available on request.

            Don’t take my word for it, though. From Sympathy for the Devil: Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Anders Breivik:

            Darling of the Islamophobic right, fellow at the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute and serial liar Ayaan Hirsi Ali was in Berlin last week to receive the Axel Springer Honorary Prize. In her acceptance speech, which was delivered in English, she attacked the “advocates of silence” who censor the truth about Islam and the Muslim extremists who are destroying Europe:

            The advocates of silence warn us that publishing these facts or debating them in the media and in parliament will transform the existing resentment towards Muslims into violent behavior. Censorship and silence, we are told, are the best preventive remedies against hatred and violence.

            I believe that the advocates of silence are wrong, profoundly and dangerously wrong.

            Just who these “advocates of silence” are Ayaan Hirsi Ali never says, but presumably they are anyone who rejects hate speech against Muslims or anyone who proposes peaceful dialogue and reconciliation among different faiths.

            But Ayaan Hirsi Ali has a great deal of understanding for mass murder Anders Behring Breivik, who was forced to kill 77 mostly young people because of the treachery of the “advocates of silence”:

            Fourthly and finally, that one man who killed 77 people in Norway, because he fears that Europe will be overrun by Islam, may have cited the work of those who speak and write against political Islam in Europe and America – myself among them – but he does not say in his 1500 page manifesto that it was these people who inspired him to kill. He says very clearly that it was the advocates of silence. Because all outlets to express his views were censored, he says, he had no other choice but to use violence.

            Yes, the “advocates of silence” left Breivik with no other choice than to hunt down teenagers systematically. Who wouldn’t be driven to desperate acts by this terrible “leftist” conspiracy?

            Fortunately for us, however, a voice of reason was in the audience, and his reaction was reported in Cicero:

            “Am I dreaming, or did this really just happen?” asked an astonished Daniel Gerlach, editor-in-chief for the magazine Zenith, who was sitting in the audience.”This is how right-wing conspiracy theory believers talk. This really takes the cake, explaining Breivik’s murderous rampage as the result of mysterious dark powers keeping quiet about the dangers of Islam in Europe.” Gerlach seems to be one of the few listeners in the packed hall who is shocked by the speech.

            In Harris’ article, Hirsi Ali says Breivik was “one deeply unfortunate product of these policies [those based on multiculturalism].” They, and their architects, helped to create the monster he became, in other words. Breivik “complains bitterly of seeing no way to engage in politics other than to use violence.”

            This is what I meant when I made the claim that Ms. Hirsi Ali “insinuated that some mythical politically correct, liberal conspiracy of silence was responsible for etc etc.”

            I think you’re too quick to give your heroine a pass. You may not think Hirsi Ali blames her ‘advocates of silence’ for creating the environment which led to the events of 7/22/2011, but she does.

            If she didn’t one would think she’d have taken the opportunity to make that clear in her sit-down with Harris.

            I’ll let the lady herself have the final word:

            That is the tragic outcome of decades of policies that had good intentions in theory, but in reality have instead cemented divisions between groups and bred too much insularity and mistrust. We cannot be so afraid of causing verbal offense that we lose the ability to have open debate—because that debate will still be had, but by less peaceful means.

    • In reply to #19 by Katy Cordeth:

      Ayaan is a fellow with the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School. She is also a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, currently researching the relationship between the West and Islam.

      Regarding Ayaan Hirsi…

      Hi Kathy,

      I often agree with you completely, here not so much.

      1) This women had been threatened with death by way of a note stabbed into the chest of a collaborator and friend as was mentioned in the article. She also as a child had her genitals cut off by her grandmother, and yes it is relevant because the domination of women by men is clearly supported in the foundational texts of Islam. If she is bigoted (which I don’t think for a second – as this implies she is making judgements based on little real knowledge of the facts) I’d say she more than most deserves some understanding for feeling the way that she does.

      2) If she is leaning to the right then the left has to take some responsibility for this as was also pointed out in the article. Where was the left when she had her protection withdrawn? Like the Satanic Verses the left is so self hating that whenever they have to show some at least verbal support they attack the very people they should support.

      3) I am currently reading the Koran and I can assure you that every second page promises violence both after death and in life to those who don’t believe. My current favourite it the description of having your flesh burnt off alternating with being made to drink boiling water like a camel you are so thirsty followed by more burning. Religion of peace? Like you most Muslims I have met are peaceful but this is in-spite of their holy books not because of them. Just like Christianity.

      We do need to worry about radical Islam and Islam in general while it continues to be unsafe to issue any criticism it’s way. Until you can do the Muslim equivalent of the Piss Christ without fear of being brutally murdered then this is a real issue and saying otherwise seems to me at best unrealistic.

      Regards I await your wroth ;)

      • Reckless Monkey – We do need to worry about radical Islam and Islam in general while it continues to be unsafe to issue any criticism it’s way. Until you can do the Muslim equivalent of the Piss Christ without fear of being brutally murdered then this is a real issue and saying otherwise seems to me at best unrealistic.

        I think there are a lot of people in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya and Nigeria, who would agree with you!
        In many places you can be kidnapped or murdered, just for having an unfundamentalist viewpoint! – (admittedly in some cases, due to lawlessness brought about by incompetent, interfering, foreign governments providing weapons and instability, while seeking “regime changes”!)

    • In reply to #19 by Katy Cordeth:

      I’ve never been entirely sure what those who oppose multiculturalism want.

      There are many things that are wanted. Here’s a small list.

                 1. Religion and culture should never enter into government legislation.
      
                 2.An individual should not be given special treatment favourable or unfavourable based on their culture or religion.
      
                  3.People should not be accused of racism, when merely stating what they find to be objectionable about the ##beliefs 
                    of another person's culture or religion. 
      

      Here are some examples:

      1. The banning of circumcision in Germany and Norway was prevented by accusations of anti-semetism.
        Although actively Jewish(her claim) people like Alicia Silverstone deciding not to circumcise her son are a promising change. Because what will be the accusation against her? That she’s being anti-semetic, perhaps internally?

      2. The barbarism of halal meat is excused on the grounds of religion and culture.
        I myself since 2012 decided to avoid as many animal products as possible, including things that you wouldn’t have normally suspected, like Jelly, which often contain gelatine from beef skin. So I’m aware that the Animal industry as a whole is in gross violation of important ethics. But, it doesn’t take a genius to realize the savagery, in straight out slitting the throat of an animal without any anesthetics and letting it just bleed to death. And yet, these acts are excused in the name of culture and religion (or due to profit motives in the halal industry). Last time I checked, pets for example weren’t put down by just slitting their throats.

      3. Violation of Free speech on the grounds of religion and culture, almost exclusive to Islam.
        I mean, I don’t advocate this but there are shows like American Dad that flat out made fun of the holocaust, and
        that was allowed to air. But South Park shows just a harmless depiction of Muhammed and its censored!

      The flaw in Multiculturalism is that it mistakenly extends the value of treating all people equally,
      to human beliefs and traditions. It makes sense to treat people equally by granting each and everyone inalienable human rights.
      But it doesn’t make sense to extend that view to beliefs, because not all beliefs are equal.

      Now the issue is that with regards to these beliefs, condemnation through words is all most us have, in trying to criticize and address these systems and those who believe in them. It’s not feasible for members in the general public, to go out there in the world and try and physically stop acts of barbarism etc. Coming to a forum like this to speak one’s mind is therefore quite important and shouldn’t be curbed by use of sly terms like Islamophobia and accusations of racism and bigotry.

  8. Yes all human rights abuses should be exposed and corrected, whether the perpetrators are operating from religious principles or secular ones. I trust that RDF will try at least to stick to rational arguments based on established facts. The reality of the current wave of Islamophobia however, is that much of it is, true to the meaning of the term, based on irrationality and mythology. The belief that hard working urban people of any particular faith are part of an international conspiracy designed to bring the UK down is worryingly close to the Protocol of the Elders of Zion. Once again then, I trust that I can rely on RDF to present evidence in a non-hysterical fashion and, at least sometimes to point about that all religious belief exists in a social context such that it tends to become more “liberal” in a cosmopolitan context and more strict in a tribal or monocultural one. To generalise the behaviour of Muslims across the globe to my Muslim neighbours is just as erroneous as attributing the beliefs and actions of Christian witch burners in the far east and homosexual killers in east Africa to my Christian neighbours. The fear and suspicion is already high, with “ordinary” people who never get fired up about anything suddenly spouting horrific stuff about what “they” are plotting to do to “us” and the manipulators are busy fanning the flames. The UK already has the precedent of Northern Ireland and, not far away we watched as what was once Yugoslavia tore itself apart along religious lines. I am increasingly fearful.

  9. In Reply #19 Katy Cordeth

    Hi Katy
    That was some essay! Worthy of a stand alone Discussion Topic in my opinion.

    Although I really admire Ayaan Hirsi Ali ( I have both Infidel and Nomad on my bookshelf), I think she’s let down by her right wing sentiments. I think this leaves a lot of conflict in the minds of her supporters; people like me who respect her stand,yet deplore some of the Draconian measures she would have us enact. It’s a difficult one.

  10. It seems to me that extremist in Islam are being treated similarly to the way of teenage rapists
    Their nature is so violent that they can’t possibly be held accountable. The victim had it coming

    Boys will be boys
    Extremist will be extreme

    • In reply to #35 by GPWC:

      If you don’t subscribe to the complete book of left wing ideas, then you are a fascist or racist or bigot or xenophobe or whatever – no one does hatred like the self righteous left.

      Those responsible for the Runnymede Trust report have been described as ‘fascists’ , to great applause. In # 22, the charge has been reduced to ‘fascistic’ , it’s true. Of course, Sam Harris, being an American, possibly doesn’t know anything about the UK Runnymede Trust commission, which produced the report ‘Islamophobia, a Challenge for us All’ in 1997. I imagine Christopher Hitchens would have been aware of the origins of the use of the term and wouldn’t have made the absurd statement about the ‘invention’ of the word attributed to him, I hope.

    • In reply to #35 by GPWC:

      If you don’t subscribe to the complete book of left wing ideas, then you are a fascist or racist or bigot or xenophobe or whatever – no one does hatred like the self righteous left.

      It also shows what a diverse group we ( atheists) are. One shouldn’t readily assume that all atheists are on the self righteous left, or be surprised that many Catholics express views that are surprisingly left of centre. We’re a mixed bag.

      • In reply to #55 by Nitya:

        In reply to #35 by GPWC:

        It also shows what a diverse group we ( atheists) are. One shouldn’t readily assume that all atheists are on the self righteous left, or be surprised that many Catholics express views that are surprisingly left of centre. We’re a mixed bag.

        We are a mixed bag, though I get the feeling that if, for example, you are an atheist who also supports Britain’s exit from the EU to return to self governing independent nation status (like Australia) you are suspect at the very least, more than likely you are actually a racist or fascist! And if you further criticise the Palestinians (without necessarily favouring or praising the Israelis) you are insulted and denounced. Incidentally, I’m not talking about the Guardian who’s stance is clear, I’m talking about RD.net and how they/we have shunned Pat Condell just because he has apparently upset a few people with his wider political views.

      • In reply to #55 by Nitya:

        In reply to #35 by GPWC:

        It also shows what a diverse group we ( atheists) are. One shouldn’t readily assume that all atheists are on the self righteous left, or be surprised that many Catholics express views that are surprisingly left of centre. We’re a mixed bag.

        That is true, but I get the impression that if all your other political views don’t fall in line with the progressive left – like for instance supporting the UK’s exit from the EU to become a self governing democracy again (like Australia), or heaven forbid, if you say something uncomplimentary about the Palestinians, then you will be insulted as a fascist or racist and denounced. Look at what has happened to Pat Condell – and I’m not talking about on the Guardian pages – I’m talking about how he seems now to have been shunned on this site.

        • In reply to #64 by GPWC:

          In reply to #55 by Nitya:

          In reply to #35 by GPWC:

          Look at what has happened to Pat Condell -

          I’m talking about how he seems now to have been shunned on this site.

          I was beguiled by him at first, but “UKIP” showed him to be an intellectual oaf. The main reason for my growing distaste though was his careless use of terms. The collateral damage of his speech was too great. In these areas where offense may be given at every turn great care is needed to allow secular Muslims to join the bigger secular movement without feeling targetted and for we here to join them. Indeed they are the only viable key to the problem of the parasitised masses in my opinion.

          As Hitchens was very keen to point out, Islam is a widely varied experience for its adherents. Hitchens knew, also, when he meant Islamism and not Islam. Condell screwed up on this too often to be trusted.

          • In reply to #68 by phil rimmer:

            an intellectual oaf

            Fair comment on Pat Condell in his later videos. And grim, sour and unfunny. We appreciated the comic but got fed up with the demagogue.

      • In reply to #55 by Nitya:

        In reply to #35 by GPWC:

        It also shows what a diverse group we ( atheists) are. One shouldn’t readily assume that all atheists are on the self righteous left, or be surprised that many Catholics express views that are surprisingly left of centre. We’re a mixed bag.

        Yes indeed, I don’t assume that. But there is a holier than though attitude from many on the left and I find, they often resort to name calling or sarcasm or worse as a weapon against positions they don’t agree with.

        I have said more, but had my 3 attempts removed by the mods (the only posts I’ve ever had removed from any site anywhere), so I’ll leave it there.

          • In reply to #106 by aldous:

            In reply to #104 by GPWC:

            Who are ‘the left’? With few exceptions, we’re pragmatists, or trying to be — not political dogmatists.

            I wish and hope that is true, but I’m with Orwell on this – see below.

        • In reply to #104 by GPWC:

          . Yes indeed, I don’t assume that. But there is a holier than though attitude from many on the left and I find, they often resort to name calling or sarcasm or worse as a weapon against positions they don’t agree with.

          I can understand why you would think this because I’m often surprised by the number of fellow travellers I find amongst RDFRS members.( ie those expressing leftish sentiments). This is not the situation I encounter in my day-to-day life.

          I think you can take heart in the fact that you’re not the only one. Christopher Hitchens was a Republican I believe, and Sam Harris seems to be drifting further and further to the right from where I stand.

          • In reply to #107 by Nitya:

            Christopher Hitchens was a Republican I believe,

            Believe it or not Hitchens started out as a Marxist. A Trotskyist to be specific. He disavowed socialism when he was fairly young though and drifted further to the right as he got older.

          • In reply to #108 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #107 by Nitya:

            Christopher Hitchens was a Republican I believe,

            Believe it or not Hitchens started out as a Marxist. A Trotskyist to be specific. He disavowed socialism when he was fairly young though and drifted further to the right as he got older.

            Yes, I remember reading that his views had changed radically during the course of his life. He was a brilliant debater and I was disappointed to find he was on the other side. Sam Harris appears to have started a drift after he became a father. Maybe there are other influences in his (Sam’s) life that have caused him to view the world differently?

          • In reply to #110 by Nitya:

            He was a brilliant debater and I was disappointed to find he was on the other side.

            Well, I don’t think you can really find a good spot for Christopher Hitchens on the political scale. Hitchens was above all a contrarian. I don’t necessarily mean that’s a bad thing. What I’m saying is that it is fairly obvious that Hitchens was attracted to conflict and rarely commented on topics that weren’t considered controversial. In fact, he admitted himself in a conversation between ” the four horsemen” that he does not really want religion to disappear because it’s such a good sport. I think that speaks volumes about who he was as a person. He even wrote a book called “Letters to a young contrarian”. He was a great debater and writer, but not really a great scholar or academic. His main interest was to cause controversy. As said, this is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it is often inevitable in order for things to change. It’s hard to change the course without rocking the boat, so to speak. Still, that also means that it’s not really meaningful to define Hitchens in terms of political affiliations or to describe his life as a clear and consistent path. The only thing consistent in his life, was his attraction to conflict and taboos.

          • In reply to #112 by Nunbeliever:

            In reply to #110 by Nitya:

            He was a brilliant debater and I was disappointed to find he was on the other side.

            Well, I don’t think you can really find a good spot for Christopher Hitchens on the political scale. Hitchens was above all a contrarian. I don’t necessarily mean that’s a bad thing. What…

            The obviously funny thing about Hitchens (whom I love) is that he insinuates he’s not a contrarian! :)
            Myself, also sounding to a lot of people like I’m a contrarian, insist I’m not. I know it’s possible to not be a contrarian even while appearing to be. But when the person who isn’t one (but seems like one) denies he is one, than his denial becomes an admission of guilt by his accusers!!!

          • In reply to #112 by Nunbeliever:

            In reply to #110 by Nitya:

            He was a brilliant debater and I was disappointed to find he was on the other side.

            Well, I don’t think you can really find a good spot for Christopher Hitchens on the political scale. Hitchens was above all a contrarian. I don’t necessarily mean that’s a bad thing. What…

            The one thing I could never understand about Hitchens was how he could have been so wrong about the Iraq war and Bush. During the Clinton years, unlike a lot of my friends on the left, I loved the way Hitchens would skewer slick Willy. But it just amazed me that he seldom applied the same kind of venom to Bush and his cronies. There was a lot to criticize and mock about Bill Clinton and Hitchens did it so well but there were orders of magnitude more things to mock about Bush and he mostly gave Bush a pass and climbed on board the “bomb first and think later” crowd with all the other “serious people” in the Washington beltway. I put “serious people” in ironic quotes because I think people like George Will or Tom Friedman — although they are pretentious and think of themselves as intellectual — are just stooges. But Hitchens wasn’t, he clearly had an amazing intellect and I’ve never understood why he climbed into bed with the fools.

          • In reply to #114 by Red Dog:

            But Hitchens wasn’t, he clearly had an amazing intellect and I’ve never understood why he climbed into bed with the fools.

            Well, it’s of course impossible to know exactly why Hitchens supported the Iraq war. That said, I think it in a way makes sense if you regard him as a contrarian above all. It was after all a very unpopular opinion to have among intellectuals. Yes, there were of course no shortage of conservative pundits willing to support the Iraq war. But, you will have a hard time finding true intellectuals who actually supported it. From that perspective it was probably a great challenge for someone like Hitchens to adopt this highly unpopular view… and if there’s anything we can all agree upon with regard to Christopher Hitchens it’s that he wasn’t afraid of being unpopular. It’s almost as if he was uncomfortable being liked or considered mainstream. I mean, I can’t think of one single popular idea he held. I think he actually enjoyed being controversial. I know that many Hitchen fans will be angry at me for saying this (perhaps I’m a contrarian too) but I think he cared more about the challenge of defending controversial issues than promoting change in society. Don’t get me wrong. I liked Christopher Hithcens. He was always entertaining. But, he was no Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela.

          • In reply to #107 by Nitya:

            In reply to #104 by GPWC:

            I can understand why you would think this because I’m…

            Hi Nitya,

            Anthony Burgess (in his book 1985 – his critique of George Orwell’s 1984) believes Orwell fell out with English Socialism because of their continued defense of Soviet Russia long after all the gulags, the disappearances, the murders etc had been discovered. Amongst others, he had a public row with the long time, left-leaning editor of the New Statesman, Kingsley Martin, who rejected Orwell’s articles about the Spanish Civil War because of the criticism in them of the Soviet Union and their condemnation of Catalonian Anarchism. Orwell believed (according to Burgess) that whilst Martin didn’t like Soviet repression, he was, on balance, happy to go along with it because of the progress and impetus it was giving to the cause of socialism. In other words the ends justified the means.

            AB “[Orwell's thoughts on this were] It’s in the nature of an intellectual to be progressive, meaning he will tend to support a political system that will bring rapid change … to the commonality, meaning a disdain for the lumbering old democratic process with its tolerance of opposition. A state machine that can pulp up the past and create a rational future”.

            This equates to the one-party state and a relaxed attitude to authoritarianism (assuming they approve of the underlying ideology). And I don’t think much has changed today with socialist intellectuals. It has been said that whilst Conservatives hate socialism, Socialists hate Conservatives. I know my left wing friends can’t wait to confiscate the wealth of the 1% or lock up all members and former members of the Bullingdon Club – and so it begins.

            This one-party tendency on the left, is the reason why Sam Harris and Ayaan Hirshi Ali, having published stuff that is off-message have been personally attacked and may find themselves denounced and shunned entirely by their former friends on the left.

          • In reply to #130 by GPWC:

            Hi GPWC,

            I’m aware that ” Animal Farm” and “1984″ by Orwell, were each directed at the Soviet totalitarian state, though I read them both with a wider view in mind, despite Orwell’s specific aims.If you recall the last paragraph in “Animal Farm”,

            Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

            I saw that as a condemnation of all totalitarian regimes. I think it applies just as well to Franco’s Spain and Chile under Pinochet. All regimes such as these include disappearences, torture and abuse of power to tyrannise the people and eliminate dissenters.

            We travelled by car through Spain in the seventies and were told that the guards ( sporting the distinctive headwear) were entitled to pull us over and shoot us on the spot if they had had a mind to do so. It was very easy to be seduced by the sangria and flamenco dances ( or flamenco dancers whilst drinking sangria), but this was the reality of the life of Spanish citizens.

            Even though Ayaan Hirsi Ali grew up in this type of repressive society she would still have the US employ the same sort of strong-arm tactics as those she fled. Frankly I don’t understand it!

            Edit: I’d like to add that regarding Harris and Hirsi Ali, there is nothing that quite matches the disappointment you feel, when someone that you admire greatly steps away from their original position to take up a new space that is at odds with your personal leanings.

          • In reply to #132 by Nitya:
            >

            I saw that as a condemnation of all totalitarian regimes.

            Certainly, I agree. But I don’t see any chance today that a right-wing dictatorship could be set up anywhere in the West. But I do see the slow (and not so slow) setting up of the infrastructure of a police state. And this, in the UK, at least, occurred under the watch of a left of centre government who were voted for by the intellectuals of the left. Certainly I was pleased to have the support of Polly Toynbee et al against ID Cards, but nevertheless, under New Labour, we saw an unprecedented growth in surveillance and consequent loss of privacy, various disgraceful changes to our laws allegedly to combat terrorism but, in reality and immediately, used against non-terrorists, police-type powers were extended to public organisations like the Border Agency and the Inland Revenue, and New Labour were intent on introducing the most intrusive ID Card system anywhere in the world. And all the while the politicised police were more than happy to act with their new powers and started their own campaign of infiltration of anyone who held alternative views (like Green groups).

            I believe you are an Aussie, but you probably know that all that erosion has more or less stopped under our current right of centre government. ID Cards were cancelled and some other data bases have been scrapped; there is a review of anti-terror law on-going and no new measures of any real consequence have been added. It speaks volumes to me that the police in the UK have hardly hidden their dislike of the Coalition.

            Naturally I don’t think this is anything like enough, but still, it is no worse – at least not until the left get in to Downing Street again.

            Geoff

            PS I think we have probably strayed off topic now, and I haven’t even started on Chinese Communism or Arab Socialism etc which produced so many totalitarian states and were given credibility and intellectual underpinning and an initial free pass by those on the left. Nor have I started on the EU and their plans for European wide police powers and shiny new judicial system to go with it. If the Mods let this comment through, then I would welcome a new thread on left/right totalitarianism, although (groan) the amount of work I’d have to do on this site to hold up my end of the argument is daunting!

          • In reply to #149 by GPWC:

            . PS I think we have probably strayed off topic now, and I haven’t even started on Chinese Communism or Arab Socialism etc which produced so many totalitarian states and were given credibility and intellectual underpinning and an initial free pass by those on the left.

            I think you’re right there! We are definitely straying off topic and I’m surprised we haven’t been rapped over the knuckles ( metaphorically speaking). I can’t see any related threads we could move to, so I suggest we just carry on and await our punishment.

            Arab Socialism! This concept is new to me! There’s no way I would ever consider those two words could be placed together. Are you referring to the oil-rich countries that have managed to outsource their labour for the time being? I think their days are numbered because the oil will eventually run out or we in the west, will move on to another source of fuel. I think these societies would be classified as theocracies. Monarchies and theocracies can never be regarded as socialism. I would consider the styles of government mutually exclusive.

            This brings me to the other part of your comment…surveillance! Isn’t it ironic that Orwell’s vision of a dystopian society has been so readily embraced in the west. I’m am an Aussie as you rightly guessed, but we would opt for more CCTV and far more intrusive surveillance if it were put to a vote.

            The spectre of 1984 style monitoring is becoming more real every day. In fact I think there are possibly more examples of 1984 thinking here in the west than is in evidence in communist countries today. Just a guess, mind you. The increased presence of monitoring is not necessarily a feature of left-leaning government initiatives, either. I can’t rattle off the statistics, though I could make a guess that such measures are 50/50.

            In my opinion Orwell did a terrific job in highlighting the unpleasant aspects of a totalitarian regime, but I think that his projections are more universal than he would have thought possible. Perhaps we should all re-read his books and see where we are headed.

          • In reply to #150 by Nitya:

            Arab Socialism! This concept is new to me!

            You’re not confusing Arab with Muslim, are you? Arabs are Arabic-speakers of diverse ethnic origins. They are mostly Sunni Muslims with a minority of Shia Muslims and of Christians. Arabs are about 20% of the world Muslim population.

            I can’t imagine why you think being an Arab, or specifically an Arab Muslim, is incompatible with socialism.

          • In reply to #153 by aldous:

            In reply to #150 by Nitya:

            Arab Socialism! This concept is new to me!

            You’re not confusing Arab with Muslim, are you? Arabs are Arabic-speakers of diverse ethnic origins. They are mostly Sunni Muslims with a minority of Shia Muslims and of Christians. Arabs are about 20% of the world Muslim population.

            There is actually a very long history of socialism in the Arab world. In fact, it’s rather ironic but one of the reasons there is so much Islamic fundamentalism now is that the US and UK explicitly supported Islamic fundamentalist groups like The Muslim Brotherhood in places like Egypt precisely because the US was so worried about just how strong Arab socialism was in the first few decades after WWII. Socialism was inevitably tied with nationalism and concepts like nationalizing resources such as oil.

            I recommend the book Devil’s Game: How the US Helped Unleash Islamic Fundamentalism by Robert Dreyfus. It goes into the unfortunately mostly forgotten (at least in the US, much of the Arab world hasn’t forgotten) history of how the US helped to create groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Queda.

          • In reply to #154 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #153 by aldous:

            In reply to #150 by Nitya:

            My knowledge of recent history in the Middle East has obviously let me down. When I think back I vaguely recall that this was the reason that the Shah of Iran was installed by the US.

            I did know that Saddam Hussein worried the US government by his plans to nationalise oil, hence the dispute with Kuwait. ( at least I think I know. I should check these things before commenting!)

          • In reply to #158 by Nitya:

            In reply to #154 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #153 by aldous:

            In reply to #150 by Nitya:
            My knowledge of recent history in the Middle East has obviously let me down. When I think back I vaguely recall that this is the reason for the instillation of the Shah of Iran by the US.

            Most people don’t know about it and plenty of people would argue with my interpretation but the evidence IMO is actually very convincing. Besides the Dreyfus book there is a great video from the BBC The Power of Nightmares

            That video is excellent for other reasons and I think most people here would like it, it shows how groups like Islamic fundamentalists and American Christian conservatives really are two sides of the same coin. But it also covers some of the essential history. After WWII there were anti-colonialist uprisings all over the world. Many of them were inspired by the US and UK rhetoric used to fight fascism and some of them (e.g., the Vietnamese) had received significant aid from the allies to fight the Japanese or Germans and weren’t keen to just now go home and let Americans, French, or English take their place. And one of the biggest waves of anti-imperialism (which went hand in hand with socialism) was in the Arab world, in Egypt, Iran, and in many other nations.

            To me that is the biggest aspect of recent history that even intelligent people like Dawkins virtually ignore. We in the West wring our hands about how sad it is that the Arab/Muslim world has so little democracy and so much Theocracy as if that’s just a sad fact of the backward Arabs when in fact we had a lot to do with making things that way.

          • In reply to #159 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #158 by Nitya:

            In reply to #154 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #153 by aldous:

            In reply to #150 by Nitya:
            My knowledge of recent history in the Middle East has obviously let me down. When I think back I vaguely recall that this is the reason for the instillation of the Shah of Iran by the US…

            My apologies for the use of the wrong word ( instillation. What was I thinking? )

            I saw an interesting film “Persepolis” a few years ago. It was a black and white animation. Doesn’t sound appealing, but it gave a great historical insight into the development of the Iran we see today. How things can backfire!

            In my eyes religious fundamentalism is always an example of an ultra-conservative, right wing government. The only communist/ religious country I can think of is Cuba. I know that the communist party has been very strong in Italy from time to time, but I really couldn’t see ultimate success in the country that is home to the RCC. I’m forgetting Venezuela. ( I think this has a socialist govt?) Anyway, the two extremes would not sit comfortably together from my perspective. People would have to be desperate before they’d embrace a regime such as communism.

            Edit: Oh, and thank you for the link. I’ll follow it up later today.

          • In reply to #159 by Red Dog:

            Besides the Dreyfus book there is a great video from the BBC The Power of Nightmares.

            That video is excellent for other reasons and I think most people here would like it, it shows how groups like Islamic fundamentalists and American Christian conservatives really are two sides of the same coin.

            For the record, Power of Nightmares is a great series, but it’s primarily about the parallels between Islamic ideologues like Sayeed Qutb and American neoconservative ideologues like Leo Strauss — the latter being largely of secular Jewish background. The neocons cynically manipulated a lot of Christian fundamentalists to further their agenda, but neoconservatism at its core is an anti-Christian, even atheist movement.

          • In reply to #163 by Imperius:

            . The neocons cynically manipulated a lot of Christian fundamentalists to further their agenda, but neoconservatism at its core is an anti-Christian, even atheist movement.

            I hear the terms neoconservative and neoliberal used in a way that makes me think they’re synonyms. Is this the case? They should be complete opposites to my way of thinking. I think I’m having problems with definitions.

            A dictionary definition of neoliberalism:

            .
            1. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) a modern politico-economic theory favouring free trade, privatization, minimal government intervention in business, reduced public expenditure on social services, etc
            2. (Economics) a modern politico-economic theory favouring free trade, privatization, minimal government intervention in business, reduced public expenditure on social services, etc

            To me, that sounds just like neoconservatism.

          • In reply to #164 by Nitya:

            I hear the terms neoconservative and neoliberal used in a way that makes me think they’re synonyms. Is this the case? They should be complete opposites to my way of thinking. I think I’m having problems with definitions.
            A dictionary definition of neoliberalism:

            I think you are giving too much credit to the Neoconservatives to say they are the same as the Neoliberals. When you look at that dictionary definition it is what the Neoconservatives claim to believe; but it clearly isn’t what they do in reality. Limited government? How is it a limited government that wants to impose your view of what is a proper government on the whole world? How is it limited government that wants to outlaw abortion and contraception? Would a “limited government” declare that it has the right to torture and kill people anywhere on the planet that don’t adhere to their will?

            Neoliberal includes people like Ms. Clinton and Obama. I often don’t agree with them but at least I think they are rational. Neoconservative to me means the same as “insane person who is fine with destroying the planet in order to maximize profit”

          • In reply to #167 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #164 by Nitya:

            I hear the terms neoconservative and neoliberal used in a way that makes me think they’re synonyms. Is this the case? They should be complete opposites to my way of thinking. I think I’m having problems with definitions.
            A dictionary definition of neoliberalism:

            Ha ha ha! I see that I had it very wrong. In my defense, I was led astray by a friend who chose to do a thesis on “Neoliberalism in America”. Her personal definition would not have included Hillary Clinton and Obama! Oh dear! I guess it changed by the time it was written.

          • In reply to #153 by aldous:

            In reply to #150 by Nitya:

            Arab Socialism! This concept is new to me!

            You’re not confusing Arab with Muslim, are you? Arabs are Arabic-speakers of diverse ethnic origins.

            I am confusing Arab with Muslim/ Islam. Touché.

            Still…..I can’t think of any Islamic States or any in the Arabic speaking world one could call socialist. Could you give me an example?

          • In reply to #150 by Nitya:
            >

            In my opinion Orwell did a terrific job in highlighting the unpleasant aspects of a totalitarian regime, but I think that his projections are more universal than he would have thought possible. Perhaps we should all re-read his books and see where we are headed.

            Wow, trying to keep up with this thread is like trying to hold on to a tiger by the tail!

            You may have read the Wiki page on Arab Socialism by now. You may also be interested in The Middle East in WW1.

            Put briefly, the final collapse of the post WW1 Middle East Settlement during and after WW2 was mainly brought about by a revolution of the left. Already, I guess, you are empathising with them. They also called themselves Arab Nationalists.They applied all the intellectual language of the left and plenty of violence to throw out the occupying powers including all the Arabist Brits and French who were trying their best to set up stable democracies in the region (including schools, a civil service etc). There was geopolitics involved as well, of course, as the West had strategic and business interests in the area (most obviously, oil).

            But it wasn’t long before those who had seized power began falling out amongst themselves. This led to repression and the promotion of so-called strong men into the Presidential Palace – people like Nasser, Sadaam Husein, The House of Saud and the Assads.

            So far, so good with the analysis, but this is where I will part company with my friends on the left. For the reasons I stated above (Orwell and all that), I believe repression is in the dna of socialist/big government states, and in time, leads to loss of individuality and personal freedom. This, in turn, stagnates creativity, invention, enterprise, competition etc. This leftist desire for equality (well meaning, I know – and I share it on a voluntary basis) is, in my view, counter productive and repressive in the end and I cite all those states who began with a socialist philosophy and ended up as dictatorships/totalitarian regimes.

            All “isms” have to come with a health warning, and socialism is certainly one of them.

          • In reply to #169 by GPWC:

            Hi Geoff. I think I’m up to speed with the historical notion of Arab Socialism ( though I was called to task over the word Arab). I’ve since watched a relevant television program and would recommend the film “Persepolis” if you are interested in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

            As you stated, we are probably on the same page for most of our attitudes towards countries in the Middle East. I don’t think you would go so far as to claim that any Arabic speaking countries could be accused of being socialist today? Not my idea of socialism, anyway.

            . I believe repression is in the dna of socialist/big government states, and in time, leads to loss of individuality and personal freedom. This, in turn, stagnates creativity, invention, enterprise, competition etc. This leftist desire for equality (well meaning, I know – and I share it on a voluntary basis) is, in my view, counter productive and repressive in the end and I cite all those states who began with a socialist philosophy and ended up as dictatorships/totalitarian regimes.

            This is where I run into difficulty; I think this is mainly due to the terms used. There is socialism that equates with communism and there is a tendency towards socialism which is probably where my ideas fall on the continuum. If you look at left leaning democracies around the globe I don’t think you’d find any great curtailment of creativity or unnecessary prohibitions.

            Certain rules and regulations are necessary for the protection of society. Take the regulations that apply to banks, as an example. I’ve been given to believe that The GFC could not have originated in Australia because our banks are very heavily regulated. It would be illegal for a bank to offer a loan to someone without the means to repay the debt. This is but one example, though there are many more laws and regulations that could be perceived as stifling creativity, but they do protect consumers and the vulnerable in society.

            You are probably aware of the governing party in Australia at the moment. This ultra conservative government ( ironically called Liberal), has provoked the ire of those ( like me) on the left. They are systematically reducing the entitlements of our most vulnerable citizens. Those with very little to begin with will now have even less after the last budget ( many of whom were persuaded to vote against their own best interest!)

            Back to Orwell. We mentioned the aspect of constant surveillance in public spaces but we haven’t discussed the changes in language usage in his dystopian world. I loved the way Orwell had the language manipulated in such a way that the real meaning was obfuscated. This is in evidence in spades! Terms are continually twisted and re-imagined so that they convey a completely different message. All this in a currently conservative society! Once again, I think that 1984 is alive and well in 2014 Australia.

          • In reply to #170 by Nitya:

            We mentioned the aspect of constant surveillance in public spaces but we haven’t discussed the changes in language usage in his dystopian world.

            Words like Islamophobia … and we are back on topic. Aaaaarrrrh and relax ….

            The issue of Iran/Persia is quite a different experience from the Arab States – the people are much more western and, of course, Shiite rather than Sunni. But I won’t go into that now.

            Also, I have watched quite a few Iranian films including Persepolis. You could try A Separation for a slice of Iranian life or you could try either of these – made by Iranians in exile The Day I Became A Woman or Women Without Men.

          • In reply to #188 by GPWC:
            and to #170 by Nitya:

            Smashing films all three. Persepolis was a first rate graphic novel and and Women without Men an excellent novella as I recall.
            The best line in When I became a Woman-

            “Why are you cycling? Havent you got husbands?”

            It chimed nicely with why fish don’t need bicycles.

          • In reply to #192 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #188 by GPWC:
            and to #170 by Nitya:

            Smashing films all three. Persepolis was a first rate graphic novel and and Women without Men an excellent novella as I recall.
            The best line in When I became a Woman-

            “Why are you cycling? Havent you got husbands?”

            It chimed nicely with why fish…

            Isn’t this a joke referring to the role of cycling as a kind of sensual stimulus? Or have I missed something?

          • In reply to #194 by inquisador:

            In reply to #192 by phil rimmer:

            “Why are you cycling? Havent you got husbands?”…

            Isn’t this a joke referring to the role of cycling as a kind of sensual stimulus?

            No, but, it is now.

            (The line was a condemnation of a bunch of women being out on their own. Surely their husbands would have forbidden it? The line works in the movie because it is, as presented, a non-sequitur.)

          • In reply to #188 by GPWC:

            I read the following on a site called A Guide to the Socialist Left

            . . One seemingly unlikely alliance that the socialist left has forged is its alliance with radical, fundamentalist Islam, which emphatically and unambiguously rejects virtually everything for which the socialist left claims to stand: the peaceful resolution of international conflict; respect and tolerance for other cultures and faiths; civil liberties; freedom of expression; freedom of thought; human rights; democracy; women’s rights; gay rights; and the separation of church and state.>

            I see this more a case of my enemy of my enemy is my friend than any ideological similarity.

            A Separation was an excellent film, though I don’t think it told us much about the country. It was more about relationships than politics, as I recall. I haven’t seen the other two films. I think it’s a stretch to say that Iran is more western in its outlook. Didn’t they coin the term The Great Satan? Iran was more western! but I don’t think it could be accused of that nowadays.

          • In reply to #204 by Nitya:

            In reply to #188 by GPWC:

            I read the following on a site called A Guide to the Socialist Left

            Hi Nitya,

            I found that and read it. It is funny what George Galloway is quoted as saying:

            “Not only do I think it’s possible but I think it is vitally necessary and I think it is happening already. It is possible because the progressi ve movement around the world and the Muslims have the same enemies. Their enemies are the Zionist occupation, American occupation, British occupation of poor countries mainly Muslim countries. They have the same interest in opposing savage capitalist globalization which is intent upon homogenizing the entire world turning us basically into factory chickens which can be forced fed the American diet of everything from food to Coca-Cola to movies and TV culture. And whose only role in life is to consume the things produced endlessly by the multinational corporations. And the progressive organizations & movements agree on that with the Muslims…. So on the very grave big issues of the day-issues of war, occupation, justice, opposition to globalization-the Muslims and the progressives are on the same side.”

            I also worry about the “homogenizing of the world”, but think the only force to do that are governments. Governments are sooooooooooooo much more powerful than even the biggest company in the world. Governments have monopoly powers and they have the police and judiciary in their pockets. Yes, there have been industrial accidents and carelessness, yes there is some exploitation by business, yes there is some bullying of state governments, but it is nothing compared to what Governments get up to in their own name. I’m not aware of businesses throwing people into jail by their millions round the world or waging war or jihad.

            Very briefly on Iran – yes, I was talking historically. If you look back to films of 1950s Iran, you will see something quite different from today – something that looks very western. There was, presumably, a religious undercurrent, but like Turkey under Ataturk and following leaders, they were leaving all that behind. I believe throughout the Middle East, this Islamist uprising is not supported by most people in these countries, especially Iran. But Islam is a heady cocktail of religion, social order, conservatism, anti-imperialism etc. Some (especially young) men, with nothing to lose, chose this chance to have some “fun” and kick some arse in sanctioned violence. I’m sure the madness will pass. but unfortunately, it’s the Islamists who have organised first. I just hope the development of an ideology to combat Islam is not taken from the left, as they will simply repeat the process.

            On films – The Day I became A Women is 3 stories in one film – the first is the best about a young girl playing outside with her friend who happens to be a boy. She is called in at noon on her (10th?) birthday and has to put on a veil and is no longer allowed out. A Separation is about an ordinary family in Iran, there is no political stuff because of censorship.

            Finally, Phil Rimmer and anyone else, if you want to see a really good film from Afghanistan which I’ve recommended here before, try and see Osama. Nothing to do with Osama Bin Laden see trailer. It is a very powerful film.

          • In reply to #208 by GPWC:

            If you look back to films of 1950s Iran, you will see something quite different from today – something that looks very western.

            Exactly so. Iran still has a great store of attributes from that era. A strong, educated middle class, some great universities with currently a 60% female enrolment (achieved through female political action) and the highest engineering graduate percentage of just about any country. They spend as much of their GDP in percentage terms on education as the UK.

            This tory MP’s views are changing about Iran. The Mad Mullah phase is slowly fading perhaps.

            Osama, 96% on Rotten Tomatoes! Thanks. Clearly a must see.

          • In reply to #209 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #208 by GPWC:

            I want to go to Iran, but my girlfriend has so far vetoed it for veil reasons – I don’t blame her.

            I’m glad you have mentioned the middle class – I’ve been wanting to, but cut them out to shorten my posts. I agree they are absolutely essential to any counter revolution in Iran or other Middle East countries. Dictators know the middle class are capable of this and therefore wage war on them – the Cultural Revolution in China is the biggest example, but everywhere you go, if you are a teacher or doctor or something, look out. But there again – if you forgive me for sounding like a broken record on this – isn’t all that hatred for the bourgeoisie something the left used to go on about rather a lot?

            But anyway, to soften my stance, I’m all in favour of pressure from the left to improve working conditions, demand rights for under privileged parts of society, call attention to the evils of capitalism (such as they are) etc. You don’t find many active people in environmental groups or Amnesty etc from the right, I am sorry to say, and have to admit.

            Nice article from the Telegraph and interesting comments so far as I have read.

          • In reply to #212 by GPWC:

            In reply to #209 by phil rimmer:

            My moral sentiments lie firmly and irredeemably on the left. Fairness and equality do it for me. This is visceral stuff. As for policy, only evidence and reason should form it, that and a deep understanding of harms experienced by others.

            Whilst thankful for the socialists thinkers and doers of the Victorian era and the Edwardian franchise broadeners, I reserve a special respect for the immense political motive power of a sufficiently educated and leisured middle class, from its first top end glimmerings in the eighteenth century through to the powerfully aspirational lower middle class that my parents represented.

            Lack of real hunger can make them lazy though. Its why I identify as an anarchist, just to jolly things along.

            (I think your girlfriend has the right idea at the moment. Give it ten years and maybe….?)

          • In reply to #216 by phil rimmer:

            Its why I identify as an anarchist, just to jolly things along.

            So do I. I love the Pierre Joseph Proudhon quote:

            “To be governed is to be watched over, inspected, spied on, directed, legislated at, regulated, docketed, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, assessed, weighed, censored, ordered about, by men who have neither the right, nor the knowledge, nor the virtue. … To be governed is to be at every operation, at every transaction, noted, registered, enrolled, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under the pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, trained, ransomed, exploited, monopolized, extorted, squeezed, mystified, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, despised, harassed, tracked, abused, clubbed, disarmed, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and, to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, outraged, dishonoured. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality”.

          • In reply to #253 by GPWC:

            In reply to #216 by phil rimmer:

            Its why I identify as an anarchist, just to jolly things along.

            So do I. I love the Pierre Joseph Proudhon quote:

            And yet I am not this also. I am very pro-government or, at least, pro civil service. We need a lot of information and experts at our service, but transparency is key likewise, for politicians, always a sense of being in service and not in power.

            No, the anarchy is to raise the temperature of society and its institutions, to break the weaker bonds and loosen the stronger and see them better formed. To encourage evolutionary change. If it ain’t broken, break it is my battle cry.

          • In reply to #255 by phil rimmer:

            I am very pro-government or, at least, pro civil service.

            Well, I think this is where our philosophies diverge. The public sector is a 100% monopoly which is never a good thing – inefficiency, lack of interest in its clients, little innovation, poor accountability, no competition to keep them sharp. As a private company, you only need to have 25% of the market to be referred to the Competition Commission – and I’d be happy to see that number reduced. There are terrible inefficiencies in any large organisation (and some economies of scale), but in my dealings with the Public Sector, it is their way or the highway.

            In other words, whilst there would be some downsides to reducing the public sector from 45% of GDP to say 20%, the gains for society overall would, imo, far outweigh them. It is almost as if the government is deliberately hoovering up money to stop us spending it how we want. After all, Big Brother always knows best.

            Geoff

          • In reply to #259 by GPWC:

            In reply to #255 by phil rimmer:

            I am very pro-government or, at least, pro civil service.

            Well, I think this is where our philosophies diverge.

            I guessed so.

            The public sector is a 100% monopoly

            Its the prospect of democratic accountability that changes this. Would that it worked like my theories…

          • In reply to #259 by GPWC:

            In other words, whilst there would be some downsides to reducing the public sector from 45% of GDP to say 20%, the gains for society overall would, imo, far outweigh them. It is almost as if the government is deliberately hoovering up money to stop us spending it how we want. After all, Big Brother always knows best.

            I never understand people who are (quite rightly) afraid of the “big brother” power of government but then think the solution is to just hand things over to big corporations. Big government can be terrible but big corporations can be at least as bad and in a democracy at least can get away with a lot less transparency and accountability than big government.

            You seem to be advocating the “privatize everything” solution, as if the free market has some magical power to do everything better. The free market does some things really well and some things really poorly. Healthcare for example is one where the evidence is overwhelming that a universal healthcare solution (e.g. Canada, UK) provides better care for less money than the privatization approach of the US.

            Or look at what was done to the US military. All kinds of services that used to be performed by the military themselves: food, housing, embassy security, etc. have been privatized and the result is very clear that privatization costs a lot more and gives far worse results. Read some books on the second Iraq war, many of the disasters and near disasters were because of private contractors screwing up basic services resulting in soldiers getting electrocuted while taking a shower, sexually assaulted, and attacked while being transported by private contractors who cut corners on security to keep their costs down. Even most right wing Republican generals (at least the ones that haven’t retired from the DOD and gotten rich from it) think that privatization was a disaster.

            Here are some more examples:

            The Privatization Scam: 5 Horror Stories of Gov’t Outsourcing to Greedy Private Companies

            Out of Control: The failures of Outsourcing Public Services to Private Corporations

            Just to be clear, I am a fan of the free market in a lot of ways. Startups have given us an amazing amount of innovation in areas like Information Technology. I just think a lot of people have an irrational belief that the free market can solve everything which clearly the evidence does not support.

          • In reply to #212 by GPWC:

            I want to go to Iran, but my girlfriend has so far vetoed it for veil reasons – I don’t blame her.

            As it happens, I know a young person from Isfahan now living with her family in Australia. The family had a middle class background in their homeland ( engineer father and science teacher mother). I stress that they were very happy to leave the country even though it meant a reduction in status. The young woman would not recommend a visit to Iran for anyone who was not a Muslim. It’s a pity because Isfahan is a very beautiful, historic city. So, I agree with your girlfriend, think twice before taking a trip.

            P.S. With a literacy rate of 85% , that’s not bad but is not equivalent to Europe, USA, Japan, Australia etc.

          • In reply to #241 by Nitya:

            As it happens, I know a young person from Isfahan now living with her family in Australia. The family had a middle class background in their homeland ( engineer father and…

            My girl friend and I managed to travel round Syria on our own before the troubles and we had a great time. There was (we were told) increasing numbers of headscarves and fully covered up women about, but apart from that and a couple of Arab clothed groups that we met (who were all men, very charming, and keen to chat) the place was very western and always friendly. There was no politics discussed as far as we could tell and to see what is happening now is quite beyond belief.

            We half know an Iranian couple who run a cafe. Last time we were there, they said they were returning to the country for family reasons – looking after elderly parents, I think. I expressed my surprise (very mildly and carefully, I might add) and got told off for making assumptions about the country. But I noticed, a few weeks ago that the cafe has re-opened and they are back. So now may not be the time to visit. But then again, maybe now is the time to visit – I’m still occasionally dining out on my holiday in Czechoslovakia when it was fully behind the iron curtain.

          • In reply to #254 by GPWC:

            Hi Geoff,

            .. Last time we were there, they said they were returning to the country for family reasons – looking after elderly parents, I think. I expressed my surprise (very mildly and carefully, I might add) and got told off for making assumptions about the country. But I noticed, a few weeks ago that the cafe has re-opened and they are back. So now may not be the time to visit. But then again, maybe now is the time to visit -

            I’d say therein lies your answer…another guess, mind you. If the sight of a gay men hanging from a crane is not upsetting, it may be a good destination. My contact assured me that it is not a safe place to visit. Perhaps it has an official tick of approval, but you don’t know how the locals will react. The west has been given a lot of bad publicity ( just as the reverse situation is true in the west).

            I was under the impression that Syria was more tolerant of other groups though I’m not sure how welcoming they would be at the moment. There are plenty of exotic destinations for travel, why put yourself at risk. I must admit however, I admire your sense of adventure.

            Do I detect a slight softening of your views regarding a more humane form of government than the Tory ideal, or is that my imagination?

          • In reply to #257 by Nitya:
            >

            My concern wouldn’t be with the people of Iran, but with the gov/security services. You just never know when you might be a pawn in the game. Who knows the truth about this story, or this one but whatever it is, it’s bad news for the individuals in the middle of it all.

            Do I detect a slight softening of your views regarding a more humane form of government than the Tory ideal, or is that my imagination?

            I think I have soft opinions already. Both left and right have good points and our politicians, in practice, give us soft left or soft right governments, which is probably for the best. But we can be freer in discussion and what tends to happen is, to make a point, we put all our eggs in one basket ie Government = Good v Government = Bad. It also depends on how you want to shape society. Phil says “equality” is one of his big things, but it’s only a secondary consideration for me. I say cake size first, distribution second because I believe that if we can increase the cake size even the worst off will benefit more than if you worry about distribution first and cake size second. Not that you can really do any experiments to prove it either way, which is why the argument continues.

          • In reply to #208 by GPWC:

            Hi Geoff.
            Another Iranian film that depicts the unenviable position of women in that country is The Circle. ( and I have seen Osama! I think the ending was devastating, though I’m not sure that I trust my memory completely). Usually Iranian films end with a glimmer of hope; very subtle, perhaps the movement of a finger.

            I’m beginning to get the feeling that a few of us must be dedicated film buffs! It’s a very good way to get the feeling of a country, IMO. That’s why I questioned your opinion regarding a western sensibility in Iran. The game has certainly changed now!

            . I also worry about the “homogenizing of the world”, but think the only force to do that are governments. Governments are sooooooooooooo much more powerful than even the biggest company in the world. Governments have monopoly powers and they have the police and judiciary in their pockets. Yes, there have been industrial accidents and carelessness, yes there is some exploitation by business, yes there is some bullying of state governments, but it is nothing compared to what Governments get up to in their own name. I’m not aware of businesses throwing people into jail by their millions round the world or waging war or jihad.

            Ummm! Governments are powerful and they do have the capability to deploy weapons and actually wage war on other nations, but companies can exercise a lot of influence as well. Think about the ubiquitous Coka Cola sign. Is there a country remaining in the world that has been left untouched? I think global companies have a lot to answer for, even if they’re not holding a gun to the head of their foreign workers. I will need to give your quotation more thought before I comment, I think.

          • In reply to #211 by Nitya:

            In reply to #208 by GPWC:

            I’m beginning to get the feeling that a few of us must be dedicated film buffs! It’s a very good way to get the feeling of a country, IMO.

            Its also the fact that they get made and mostly with non professional actors. The dissent and the concern are palpable

            More than anything telling of the harms to ordinary folk by a society is morally galvanising. This comes before any politicking, revealing and undertanding harms hidden by tradition. Though picky about word use and the rational rigour of arguments I have a clear sense of the need of pamphleteering when it reveals harms. Movies matter.

          • In reply to #214 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #211 by Nitya:

            In reply to #208 by GPWC:

            I’m beginning to get the feeling that a few of us must be dedicated film buffs! It’s a very good way to get the feeling of a country, IMO.

            Its also the fact that they get made and mostly with non professional actors. The dissent and the concern…

            Yep! They often make very sensitive films about children, too. Not surprising when you consider they can not represent male/ female relationships.

          • In reply to #188 by GPWC:

            In reply to #170 by Nitya:

            We mentioned the aspect of constant surveillance in public spaces but we haven’t discussed the changes in language usage in his dystopian world.

            Words like Islamophobia … and we are back on topic.

            Nice link with islamophobia, BTW. We took a diversion, then wound back to the original topic. Rather cleverly executed, I think!.

            I realise that I have seen The Day I Became a Woman , as well. All the action took place on bicycles, as I recall. (thanks Phil #192).

          • In reply to #130 by GPWC:

            Orwell fell out with English Socialism because of their continued defense of Soviet Russia

            The Soviet Union is no longer with us and its fellow travellers have gone with it. The political spectrum in Britain today is dominated by issues, not ideologies.

            Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Sam Harris are Americans and their anti-Muslim stance has to be seen in that context. Indeed, the same might be said of that long-term American resident and, latterly, American citizen, Christopher Hitchens. I’m talking of the political aspects of their views. The reasons for opposing Old Testament morality and terrorism are shared by all posters on this thread, I’m sure.

            I know my left wing friends can’t wait to confiscate the wealth of the 1% or lock up all members and former members of the Bullingdon Club

            That’s not a political ideology. David Cameron himself is a scourge of tax avoiders. True, he thinks the place for members of the Bullingdon Club is in political office, definitely not prison. However, annoyance at posh yobs smashing things up and getting away with it is hardly confined to the ‘left wing’ , whatever that is.

          • Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Sam Harris are Americans and their anti-Muslim stance has to be seen in that context.

            Really? Hirsi Ali has spent more time in the Netherlands than America. She has been a US citizen for only about a year. When you look at her history, it’s quite a stretch to link her anti-Islam stance to her American citizenship. Is your Yankophobia showing?

            She spent her childhood in Somalia (where she was a victim of FGM). Moved to Saudi Arabia, then Ethiopia, then Kenya. Then she got political asylum in the Netherlands where she gained an Msc and went into politics. Looks like her ant-Islam stance was mainly formed during those 14 years in the Netherlands. She started writing articles critical of Islam and got the inevitable death threats. I expect one particular death threat had a big impact – that incident where a note was left for her pinned by a knife in the dead body of her colleague.

            In reply to #136 by aldous:

            In reply to #130 by GPWC:

            Orwell fell out with English Socialism because of their continued defense of Soviet Russia

            The Soviet Union is no longer with us and its fellow travellers have gone with it. The political spectrum in Britain today is dominated by issues, not ideologies.

            Ayaan Hirsi Ali a…

          • In reply to #161 by Marktony:

            When you look at her history, it’s quite a stretch to link her anti-Islam stance to her American citizenship.

            You only need to look at the supernatural twaddle and the morality and mores of medieval Arabia to find it peculiar that Islam should be still thriving and that it can be seen as a credible justification for actions and attitudes in our century. I didn’t mean any criticism of Ayaan Hirsi Ali that she should find a safe haven in the United States or her spiritual home, if that’s the case, at the American Enterprise Institute.

            I’m a great admirer. I just don’t have the same cosy complicity with Sam Harris’s sort of American patriotism that she has.

          • In reply to #165 by aldous:

            You only need to look at the supernatural twaddle and the morality and mores of medieval Arabia to find it peculiar that Islam should be still thriving …

            What medieval supernatural twaddle were you thinking of? Do you consider Islam to be supernatural twaddle?

            I think supernatural twaddle is a reasonable tag for Islam, and for that matter all religions. But millions of people are brought up to believe that one or other of these religions provides guidance from the creator of the universe on how they should live their lives and on how they should interact with people who have not had (or have rejected) that guidance. When brought up in a society that frowns upon (to put it mildly) criticism of ‘the guidance’, it’s not surprising that this supernatural twaddle is hard to shake off.
            Hirsi Ali is anti-Islam, but she was brought up a Muslim. There was a time when she supported the call from Muslims to kill a man for writing a book deemed offensive to Islam – now she is the one getting the death threats.

            … and that it can be seen as a credible justification for actions and attitudes in our century.

            It is indeed peculiar that supernatural twaddle can be seen as a credible justification for actions and attitudes in our century. It’s as if people actually believe this stuff!

            In reply to #161 by Marktony:

            When you look at her history, it’s quite a stretch to link her anti-Islam stance to her American citizenship.

            You only need to look at the supernatural twaddle and the morality and mores of medieval Arabia to find it peculiar that Islam should be still thriving and th…

          • In reply to #175 by Marktony:

            It is indeed peculiar that supernatural twaddle can be seen as a credible justification for actions and attitudes in our century. It’s as if people actually believe this stuff!

            I couldn’t have put it better myself. In fact, that’s pretty much the way I did put it.

          • And it sounds like something Sam Harris might have said.

            In reply to #179 by aldous:

            In reply to #175 by Marktony:

            It is indeed peculiar that supernatural twaddle can be seen as a credible justification for actions and attitudes in our century. It’s as if people actually believe this stuff!

            I couldn’t have put it better myself. In fact, that’s pretty much the way I did put it.

          • In reply to #183 by Marktony:

            And it sounds like something Sam Harris might have said.

            Stylistically not at all. In essence, I hope so. Wouldn’t we all agree that religions, doctrinally, are twaddle. By ‘we’ I mean posters on this site. We are mostly non-religious. Any stray religious type would reject Islamic twaddle because it’s not the sort they favour.

  11. BringBackOurGirls has nothing to do with Islam.

    The shooting of Malala Yousufzai had nothing to do with Islam.

    It is just part of the culture of the sick fuckers and we are bigots if we don’t respect it.

  12. @OP – A few weeks ago, Ayaan and I had a long conversation about her critics and about the increasingly pernicious meme of “Islamophobia”

    There are clear examples of “Islamophobia” in the American right, as is illustrated by made-up claims about Obama!

    —which our inimitable friend Christopher Hitchens once dubbed “a word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons.”

    Nevertheless, there are also plenty of examples of demands for priority treatment and unearned respect for religious ideas, from the clueless, bigoted, do-gooder manipulative, “politically correct”. They have strong views, but lack the vision, evidence, reasoning or capabilities support their views, so simply pose as “nice people” of the, “all-opinions-are-equal school of thought”, by advocating agreeing with anybody and everybody!

    There are also the “rebels looking for a cause”, where they can demonetise others, while wearing fudgist, “nicey political activists badges”!

    • In reply to #45 by Alan4discussion:

      there are also plenty of examples of demands for priority treatment and unearned respect for religious ideas, from the clueless, bigoted, do-gooder manipulative, “politically correct”.

      Indeed there are. But the demands for religious privilege from the religious themselves are what we should be worried about. Education is an essential concern for any society and control of schools by religious organizations is a serious threat. It is divisive and ‘faith’ goes against the whole purpose of education.

  13. I’m intrigued by the origin of the Hitchens quote now, having thought about it. I still haven’t found it, but I have found this from a book review-

    Two things, in my experience, disable many liberals at the onset of this conversation. First, they cannot shake their subliminal identification of the Muslim religion with the wretched of the earth: the black- and brown-skinned denizens of what we once called the “Third World.” You can see this identification in the way that the Palestinians (about 20 percent of whom were Christian until their numbers began to decline) have become an “Islamic” cause and in the amazing ignorance that most leftists display about India, a multiethnic secular democracy under attack from al-Qaida and its surrogates long before the United States was. And you can see it, too, in the stupid neologism “Islamophobia,” which aims to promote criticism of Islam to the gallery of special offenses associated with racism.

    This “neologism” looks to me a clear reference to the Runnymede re-coining.

    Interestingly Hitchens concludes that Harris’s use of the “fascist” term in The End of Faith-

    “The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists. To say that this does not bode well for liberalism is an understatement: It does not bode well for the future of civilization” SH

    is irresponsible. A further notable difference between the two is that Hitchens would never say Islam (as here) when he intended Islamism.

    • In reply to #46 by phil rimmer:

      This “neologism” looks to me a clear reference to the Runnymede re-coining.

      Now the term has gone from ‘fascist’ to ‘fascistic’ to merely ‘stupid’. A bit more effort and it’ll finally come out as an expression which is fully justified in the discussion of current affairs, like ‘anti-Semitism’ and ‘homophobia’, but which can equally be used as a mere term of abuse.

      Hitchens, in the quote you give from the book review, may very well be referring to the Runnymede Trust report (without necessarily having read it, or even the summary). The (I hope) apocryphal quote by Sam Harris about a ‘word created by fascists’ refers to a fabrication of the American Islamophobe network that the word was invented by the Muslim Brotherhood in Virginia

      • In reply to #53 by aldous:

        In reply to #46 by phil rimmer:

        The (I hope) apocryphal quote by Sam Harris about a ‘word created by fascists’ refers to a fabrication of the American Islamophobe network that the word was invented by the Muslim Brotherhood in Virginia.

        Many people have probably independently coined this word in imitation of similar inventions; it’s an obvious tactic. It matters not who was first.

        Interesting that you provide an example of the current usage of the neologism in question here by using it to dismiss any and all critics of Islam in America in this way. Well done.

        Thank you for this illustration of how some writers who correctly and publically analyse the canonical texts, tenets and precepts of islam; showing how those teachings are responsible for motivating and instructing militant terrorist behaviour as witnessed in a growing number of locations around the world; are routinely cast as hateful bigots, rather than as the true liberals they may be.

        Now we can go safely back to sleep, only ‘phobes worry about islam, jihad is nothing to do with Islam, just ask the oracle: Sheila Musaji. Don’t listen to me.

        • In reply to #84 by inquisador:

          just ask the oracle: Sheila Musaji.

          If you’re interested in a discussion of the origins of the meaning and use of Islamophobia, you could read the article. There’s nothing oracular about it. The information in it is checkable. It’s rather long though, so you could always try the Wikipedia article.

  14. The only way I can make sense of this “Islamophobia” argument is if either 1) most of the people are stupid most of the time, or 2) most of the people think almost everyone else is stupid most of the time.

    The situation that most intelligent people wish to avoid is a terrorist murder in London inciting a moronic thug in Bradford to punch a little brown boy in the face.

    The moron in Bradford thinks the sins of an individual are the sins of the group. One way of dealing with this is to make sure you never brand any member of the group with any sin. The other way is to try and point out the bleeding obvious – the sins of individuals or sub-groups are not the sins of the larger group, and hope it penetrates the moron’s thick head, or throw him in goal if it doesn’t.

    So when V criticises W of group X, and is criticised by Y, all within hearing of audience Z, is:-

    1. V using code to incite Z against X;
    2. V criticising W assuming Z are not morons;
    3. Y assuming 1)
    4. Y assuming 2) but also assuming Z are morons
    5. Y a moron who can’t differentiate between 1) and 2) and wants to protect X
    6. Y sympathetic to W
    7. … or maybe some other combination

    The result of this mess is that little brown boys continue to get punched in the face, Ayaan Hirsi Ali takes political stick, while Boko Haram haven’t yet got napalmed by a Predator drone.

    • In reply to #48 by God fearing Atheist:

      Boko Haram haven’t yet got napalmed by a Predator drone

      You’re harking back to the good old days when Americans used napalm to devastate Vietnam. A drone strike is not so indiscriminate as the use of napalm but an attempt to rescue the Nigerian schoolgirls by this method would have the disadvantage of killing them. Perhaps you aren’t thinking of the kidnap victims. What’s your idea? Do you think the Americans should bomb villages in Nigeria where members of Boko Haram and their families are living? The Nigerian security forces have carried out indiscriminate killing in their response to the Boko Haram insurgency for years, without putting an end to it.

      • In reply to #50 by aldous:

        What do you propose? Do you think Boko Haram will release their prisoners if we just ask nicely?

        On the other hand, with the track record of complete incompetence in these kinds of matters, USA would most likely make things worse if they chose to intervene with drones. They would most likely bomb wrong villages or kill a lot of innocent civilians due to ignorance or incompetence. What USA on the other hand could do is cooperate with and support the Nigerian security forces. A joint operation, so to speak. They could give them hi-tech equipment that would help the security forces to track down and eliminate members of this group. There will of course be collateral damage, and it’s never an easy task to fight terrorism. That said. what options do we have? Should we not even try?

        It’s also important to remember that most Islamic terrorist groups have their strongholds in Muslim countries where a large portion of the population supports their endeavors, while half the population in Nigeria is in fact Christian. Hence, it should be easier to fight Boko Haram than for example Al Qaeda.

  15. Ayaan may not be left-wing enough for some people; a point that is perfectly well explained in the conversation (though no explanation should be required).

    But matters of Islamic supremacism, intolerance and inequalities of human rights are unrelated to the spectrum of party politics.

    The conversation is absolutely on target in every respect. Both Ayaan and Sam deserve full marks for this analysis.

  16. People shouldn’t fear one particular religion or be scared to criticise any religion !!! they should fear their governments and failing that we should all fear the American government….Obamaphobia has a certain ring to it…

    • In reply to #54 by Light Wave:

      People shouldn’t fear one particular religion or be scared to criticise any religion !!! they should fear their governments and failing that we should all fear the American government….Obamaphobia has a certain ring to it…

      we should not fear our governments, we should bring them down.. we have the power to elect and we have the power to go to the streets if nescessary… if governments do nothing to protect us from religion, they are the wrong kind of religion-arse-licking government for us

  17. In reply to #53 by aldous:

    In reply to #46 by phil rimmer:

    Being phobic about an ideology has hugely different implications to being phobic about someone’s personal attribute. I’m deeply sorry you still fail to see this. One may reasonably hate or be fearful of ideologies but not of a person for their personal attributes.

    If Hitchens alleged comment was about the Muslim Brotherhood being fascistic in coining the word in the early 1990s, then it would make the Runnymede Trust out to be the cowards in his phrase. If this is so, they are getting off lightly.

    • In reply to #56 by phil rimmer:

      f Hitchens alleged comment was about the Muslim Brotherhood being fascistic in coining the word in the early 1990s, then it would make the Runnymede Trust out to be the cowards in his phrase. If this is so, they are getting off lightly.

      According to Sam Harris:

      “pernicious meme of “Islamophobia”—which our inimitable friend Christopher Hitchens once dubbed “a word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons.” – Source: Sam Harris web site

      However, there is no reference on that page for where Harris claims Hitchens said this. And from a quick google search all I found were other, usually far less reliable than Harris, second hand attributions to Hitchens.

      I’m very skeptical that Hitchens would say this. Not because he had any great love for Islam but because he had a great love for the English language and its proper usage. “Fascist” has become a very diluted word in the US. The way it’s used by the right wing it’s almost a synonym for “communist” or for “political system no one likes”. Of course in reality fascist and communist are opposites and while the Muslim brotherhood is pretty vile they aren’t really fascists nor are most Islamic fundamentalist groups. They share some aspects like tyrannical control and an emphasis on a state religion but the Islamic groups are more pure theocracies where as fascism emphasizes a strong bond between capitalism/large corporations and the state. Hitchens was an astute political writer and would know this and I think would not be likely to stoop to the common usage of “fascist” as just “evil”.

      Here is another page where the author casts doubt on the authenticity of attributing the quote to Hitchens and someone else claims they came up with the quote when working with Dawkins and Harris:

      Homo economicus’ Weblog

      • In reply to #58 by Red Dog:

        I’m very skeptical that Hitchens would say this. Not because he had any great love for Islam but because he had a great love for the English language and its proper usage.

        And yet he was keen to use the word wherever he found “an authoritarian/totalitarian, right wing system of governance and social organisation”.

        RCC

        Islamism and Islamic extremists

        Thanks for the links though. I increasingly am doubtful he said this or at least in that manner, because it would have been reported elsewhere. Though Sam speaks well (with facility) I don’t believe he speaks carefully or reliably. I long ago withdrew from his emailing list.

        • In reply to #59 by phil rimmer:

          In reply to #58 by Red Dog:
          And yet he was keen to use the word wherever he found “an authoritarian/totalitarian, right wing system of governance and social organisation”.

          Exactly. Hitchens understood what Fascism really was as demonstrated by that first clip and he was correct there definitely were very strong ties between the right wing of the Catholic church and actual fascist movements, first in Germany and Italy and later in South America and elsewhere.

          • In reply to #60 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #59 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #58 by Red Dog:
            And yet he was keen to use the word wherever he found “an authoritarian/totalitarian, right wing system of governance and social organisation”.

            Exactly. Hitchens understood what Fascism really was as demonstrated by that first clip and h…

            Yes. I should have written more, though, to say that he would use fascist in relation to the Muslim Brotherhood as per his use of Islamo-fascism. I agree with you (probably) that he would most likely not use the word of the Runnymede Trust. Something less agrandising, also, for them would be his taste, I suspect.

        • Hitchens defends the term Islamofascism.

          In reply to #59 by phil rimmer:

          In reply to #58 by Red Dog:

          I’m very skeptical that Hitchens would say this. Not because he had any great love for Islam but because he had a great love for the English language and its proper usage.

          And yet he was keen to use the word wherever he found “an authoritarian/totalitarian, right wing s…

          • In reply to #66 by Marktony:

            Hitchens defends the term Islamofascism.

            In reply to #59 by phil rimmer:

            That is exactly why I linked to the wiki entry on the term, which quotes him extensively on the matter.

            I had originally suggested in my exchange with Aldous that it was the Runnymede Trust that was the target of Hitchens ire with the phrase quoted by Sam. I rather lamely suggested he may have apprehended their behaviour in the instance of their 1997 (memory?) report as fascistic. I thought it certainly manipulative (the fascistic bit) and intellectually dishonest.

            I think Red was right to call me on it and say this was too imprecise for Hitchens. His whole point about Islamophobia was its malicious ability to muddle meaning. The Muslim Brotherhood’s earlier (alleged) coining, pointed to by Red, now makes much more sense, if he believed this the source.

            I now need to withdraw my comment back to Katy about him being a bit of a boob. Sorry, Katy. If the foregoing is true, I think the fascist, coward and moron comment entirely worthy of him and consistent with his views, even if it was said by someone else (which could very well be the case).

            The three views of Islamophobia shown by Hitchens in my and Red Dog’s links demonstrate his thoroughgoing repugnance at the term, which was my only intended point at the outset.

            I am acutely aware that Red may have an entirely different interpretation of the situation, though, I think, we agree what may and may not be the facts of the case.

          • In reply to #67 by phil rimmer:

            I think the fascist, coward and moron comment entirely worthy of him and consistent with his views, even if it was said by someone else.

            I rather thought you might. That’s why I delayed mentioning the fable about the Muslim Brotherhood, conspiring to terrorize the world by inventing this word-bomb. As we know, the word ‘Islamophobia’ was given currency by its endorsement in the Runnymede Trust Report. So what kind of fool are you making out Hitchens to be? An ignorant one or a malicious one?

            Your own views of The Runnymede Trust report are insulting enough. Which of the members of the Runnymede Trust commission on Islamophobia would you particularly like to insult? The Bishop of London, Rabbi Julia Neuberger, Dr Richard Stone Chair of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality , Professor Akbar Ahmed of Cambridge? You only have to go to the beginning of the report to find the list of names. No need to read the actual report itself.

  18. I had NO idea that she was assaulted through genital mutilation!
    I remember In this one debate about Islam,

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rh34Xsq7D_A

    this Muslim woman,Zeba Kahn, tried to belittle Ayan’s knowledge on the subject by
    insinuating how she wasn’t a real Muslim that now that she is no longer a Muslim, she couldn’t know what Islam is about!

    What amazes me now that I know what she suffered, is how calmly Ayan behaved in that debate!
    And how she didn’t let that fool Zeba get her all worked up!
    Not only was Ayan a Muslim at one point, but she has permanent SCARS on her genitals because of it!
    What does this pampered idiot Zeba know of being a Muslim?
    Yet, there were no such out bursts of anger shown by Ayan in that debate.
    Much respect to her! She is a great source of inspiration for Atheists all over!

  19. PEOPLE, speaking of ISLAMOPHOBIA,
    there’s currently a huge terrorist issue taking place in Nigeria, if you were unaware.
    I have submitted its latest news article to this site, but it hasn’t yet been published for some reason.
    So here it is, check it out.

    Boko Haram ‘to sell’ Nigeria girls abducted from Chibok

    Boko Haram is an Islamic militant group, whose name means, “Western education is forbidden”, according to BBC.

    Btw on the topic of Islamphobia, I’d like to add that us atheists can easily do away with that
    pest of a defense by simply addressing their believes, by the very names of their source material.
    The Quaran and the Hadiths(or Quaranists and Hadithists if you wish).
    No need to risk accusations of racism.

    • In reply to #65 by Terra Watt:

      there’s currently a huge terrorist issue taking place in Nigeria, if you were unaware…..

      As well being currently one of the biggest news stories in the media, you might notice that it has already been referred to a number of times in this discussion, beginning with _The SaveOurGirls campaign has gone global and there is support for the search and rescue effort by western governments on the ground in Nigeria. #12 _ and as recently as #52

      Btw on the topic of Islamphobia, I’d like to add that us atheists can easily do away with that pest of a defense by simply addressing their believes, by the very names of their source material

      While it’s legitimate and necessary to give Old Testament morality a thorough bashing, history has shown that economic and social development is essential to get people to abandon it.

      • In reply to #69 by aldous:

        In reply to #65 by Terra Watt:

        As well being currently one of the biggest news stories in the media, you might notice that it has already been referred to a number of times in this discussion,

        There is no mention or reference of this event in the news section of this website!
        So it was worth mentioning it here but even that post is now buried under 5-6 new posts…

        While it’s legitimate and necessary to give Old Testament morality a thorough bashing, history has shown that economic and social development is essential to get people to abandon it.

        That is not necessarily true! History has shown human beings to behave in a compartmentalized fashion when faced with
        religious indoctrination. That rather than addressing contradictions in one’s belief, that there’s
        a tendency to try and accommodate both views, like Jeckyl and Hyde.
        Take certain religious scientists and engineers who are excellent at what they study,
        but then in conversation profuse religious gibberish and rituals!

        The objectionable content of these texts, like that of the Quaran and the Hadiths, must be exposed and
        addressed, whenever and where ever it’s relevant and without apology.
        The sly term Islamophobia stands to deter such efforts, the moment any criticism is made against these beliefs.
        So this is why I believe that, it is important to name the source material by name and to abandon the use of the words,

        Islam and Muslim in criticisms. It just completely removes the variable of race out of the equation.

        Edit.

        But of course my intentions are in no way about attempting to police the Atheist community with political
        correctness! I’m simply suggesting this as a means to avoid being accused of racism when one is simply
        stating one’s objections to a belief systems’ views, claims and decree.

        • In reply to #73 by Terra Watt:

          Take certain religious scientists and engineers who are excellent at what they study, but then in conversation profuse religious gibberish and rituals!

          It’s a pity that well-educated people with comfortable lives should hang on to religion but I suppose they are decent citizens just the same. They don’t stone adulterers to death or follow the lifestyle of tribespeople in the ancient Near East, even though the sacred book says they should. You could say that that’s hypocritical but it’s better than taking their religion seriously.

          Social and economic development which improves people’s lives is essential to improve the way they behave. Arguing about beliefs as if they were the only factor is a big mistake. It’s a specially big mistake for those whose understanding of Muslim beliefs comes from anti-Muslim websites of selected quotes designed to create maximum prejudice.

  20. In reply to #70 by aldous:

    In reply to #67 by phil rimmer:

    So what kind of fool are you making out Hitchens to be? An ignorant one or a malicious one?

    None. You’ll have to explain more what you mean. The ignorance is all mine and extended by you for a number of posts, when you could have fed me facts.

    You can stop at Julia Neuberger. I fell on “The Moral State We’re In” in 2006, just at the point when I realised my concerns with my agnosticism were actually concerns about how I “did” morality. The book angered me mightily. I remember thinking how morally vacuous her position was. It was one of the first times I started to realise how the hyper pro social, in mis-apprehending harms, made moral improvement much more difficult. I remember coming across the idea of Toxic Werdz as an identifyable attribute of this intellectually underpowered thinking.

    This makes things a lot clearer for me, thanks. (That comes across a bit snide. I genuinely appreciate all info that helps understanding.)

    • In reply to #72 by phil rimmer:

      The ignorance is all mine and extended by you for a number of posts, when you could have fed me facts.

      The Muslim Brotherhood tale is not a fact but a fable, which has caused the predictable muddle in your argument. I hope we can agree that Islamophobia is a real phenomenon and that you would have as much reason to banish ‘homophobia’, ‘misogyny’, ‘anti-Semitism’ (and many other words) from the language, if their misuse were grounds for doing so.

      • In reply to #74 by aldous:

        In reply to #72 by phil rimmer:

        The ignorance is all mine and extended by you for a number of posts, when you could have fed me facts.

        The Muslim Brotherhood tale is not a fact but a fable, which has caused the predictable muddle in your argument.

        My argument is clear whichever way the facts point. If its a fable that fooled Hitchens, then he was fooled. If its a fable that he knew was a fable then repeated in some way that suggested it true, then a disgrace on him but that would be astonishing. I know of no other such dishonesty from him.

        I hope we can agree that Islamophobia is a real phenomenon and that you would have as much reason to banish ‘homophobia’, ‘misogyny’, ‘anti-Semitism’ (and many other words) from the language, if their misuse were grounds for doing so.

        No!!!! That is the whole point of this exchange! Ideologies are not personal attributes. There is no excuse for taking against personal attributes and parading your phobias in public and drumming up fellow antipaths. AntiSemitism was just such a case, being hatred of the “Christocidal” tribe, that was itself a personal attribute, and was unconscionable. When used as a defence against an attack on the ideologies of some Jewish people it was absolutely necessary to create a new word Anti Zionism.

        Bigotry and racial hatred are big enough crimes for me.

        • In reply to #75 by phil rimmer:

          AntiSemitism was just such a case, being hatred of the “Christocidal” tribe, that was itself a personal attribute, and was unconscionable. When used as a defence against an attack on the ideologies of some Jewish people it was absolutely necessary to create a new word Anti Zionism.

          I’m afraid you can’t abolish anti-Semitism by distinguishing it from ant-Zionism. Nor can you prevent propagandists labelling you anti-Semitic even though the accusation is completely false. The same applies to Islamophobia.

          Islamophobia is prejudice against, hatred towards, or fear of Muslims or of ethnic groups perceived to be Muslim. We can, and we should, oppose the Old Testament morality which is embedded in Islamic societies. It is right to deride the absurdities of sacred texts and condemn acts of barbarism.This can be done perfectly rationally without prejudice or hatred towards Muslims. Unfortunately, it can’t always be done without fear, especially not by Muslims themselves in Muslim countries. It can be done without fear-mongering propaganda to demonize Muslims.

          However reasonable you are yourself you can’t prevent others from using the traditional methods of propagandists to generate prejudice, hatred and fear of Muslims from obvious political motives. And however carefully you explain that you personally are not at all Islamophobic, that doesn’t protect you from the accusation — whether or not it’s accurate.

          • In reply to #77 by aldous:

            In reply to #75 by phil rimmer:

            Of course I don’t want to dispose of the word anti-semetism. The RCC have cultivated the activity for nearly two thousand years. The stuff is real and has been added to. Only recently though has the ideology of some Jewish people been defended by misusing this perfectly good word. Eventually to bring to an end this novel misuse, Anti Zionism was coined to restore some clarity to some debates.

            I can never have any kind of discourse with bigotted propagandists who might use it to silence me. What they say is entirely beyond any disputation I could make. But if their false cry is taken up by well meaning defensive others, I do have a chance of doing something about it by parsing the meaning of the accusation with them.

            On the strength of this exchange and many like it here, this turns out to be a bleeping struggle every single time. The decent accusation of say Muslimophobia, immediately would separate a personal attribute from an ideology.

            To repeat it is thoroughly reasonable to have a dislike of an ideology. It is thoroughly unreasonable to dislike a Muslim, just for being brought up in that faith. The use of phobia in this regard is utterly reasonable. Proselytisers for ideologies are another matter and may be reasonably disliked for the nature of their advocacy etc.

            Argue for Muslimophobia and the dropping of Islamophobia and you would have my full support.

          • In reply to #79 by phil rimmer:

            Argue for Muslimophobia and the dropping of Islamophobia and you would have my full support.

            It seems to me totally pointless to argue over “this word not that word” uses. Pinker has a good discussion of this in The Blank Slate, how various words go from being PC to being obscene. It’s like when people make a big deal out of “anti-semitism” because Jews aren’t the only semites or “caucasian” because not all white people are from the caucus region. There are inconsistencies in lots of word usage if you analyze deep enough. There is no objectively right or wrong word for a certain idea, when you come down to it it’s all just a matter of convention so I say just adopt the convention and don’t be pedantic about minor inconsistencies. There are better things to argue about. Come to think of it, why am I even typing this then… Oh well too late now.

          • In reply to #80 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #79 by phil rimmer:

            There are better things to argue about. Come to think of it, why am I even typing this then… Oh well too late now.

            I know this is your view. I’ve always disagreed with it. Even outside of professional language and philosophy care with speaking, Islamism not Islam, is absolutely critical especially when these things are being actively used in a war of ideas and for popular influence. That meanings may morph to service popular needs doesn’t mean we shouldn’t struggle with neologisms to help set them on the right path, we are after all part of the public discourse and if enough people gave a damn a better push or countervailing action could be achieved.

            Political correctness served us magnificently once. Newspeak is powerful and malign stuff. Words matter.

            EDITED

          • In reply to #85 by phil rimmer:

            Political correctness served us magnificently once. Newspeak is powerful stuff. Words matter.

            Ideas matter. Words are used to communicate ideas. Focusing on the words takes the emphasis away from the ideas it moves us from the substance to the style, from the semantics (in the linguistic sense) to the syntax.

          • In reply to #86 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #85 by phil rimmer:

            Political correctness served us magnificently once. Newspeak is powerful stuff. Words matter.

            Ideas matter. Words are used to communicate ideas. Identifying the misuse of words puts the emphasis back on the ideas…

            Fixed.

          • In reply to #80 by Red Dog:

            There is no objectively right or wrong word for a certain idea, when you come down to it it’s all just a matter of convention so I say just adopt the convention and don’t be pedantic about minor inconsistencies.

            Although I agree with you in theory, we also have to accept that the words we use matter. There’s a reason why the anti-abortion camp call themselves pro-life. There’s a reason why the US government talked about enhanced interrogation instead of torture. As you say yourself, words are used to communicate ideas. That’s why it’s inevitable that words get emotional connotations. The meaning of words change, and we really can’t do anything about it. The word “negro” of course just means black. But, today most people find it very offensive. Because it’s associated with centuries of atrocities against a certain group of people. Of course, one could argue that focusing on not using this particular word moves us from substance to style. But, that would be to miss the point. Whether we like it or not words are powerful tools that do not only communicate ideas, but intrinsically change how ideas are interpreted and understood. That’s why we have sayings like “choose your words wisely”. If words weren’t powerful tools, poetry and other forms of belles-lettres would be pointless exercises.

          • In reply to #93 by Nunbeliever:

            Although I agree with you in theory, we also have to accept that the words we use matter.

            Actually, I was thinking about this a bit more and realized I’m not completely consistent myself. On another article I was objecting to the fact that in the US people routinely abuse the word “fascist”. They use it as a synonym for “tyrannical government” when it doesn’t mean that at all, it means, or at least used to mean some very specific things about the kind of tyrannical government, e.g. the Soviet Union as awful as it was, was not Fascist but Italy and the Nazis were. So as usual, the devil is in the details, I agree some words are worth making a stink over when people start abusing them and especially when they dilute words that have a specific definition in science or other disciplines like political science. When I say “evolution” I try to be careful to be clear whether I mean in the biological sense or in the more informal sense.

            Having said all that I still think that quibbling over words like anti-semitism, caucasian, and Islamo (or Muslim) phobia isn’t a very constructive use of time.

            The word “negro” of course just means black. But, today most people find it very offensive. Because it’s associated with centuries of atrocities against a certain group of people.

            To me that’s another example of a silly argument and I think it’s one of the words that Pinker talks about. “Negro” used to be the term that intelligent and non-racist people used to mean what we know call African American. Before Negro it was “colored person” that also went from being PC to being taboo, although you can see remnants of when it was PC, e.g., the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. That kind of constant wrangling over which words are PC and which ones aren’t are what I think of as kind of pointless. On the other hand if I were African American maybe it wouldn’t seem so pointless.

          • In reply to #94 by Red Dog:

            Having said all that I still think that quibbling over words like anti-semitism, caucasian, and Islamo (or Muslim) phobia isn’t a very constructive use of time.

            I agree with you that semantics can be misused or even exploited in order to evade criticism or used as a distraction. On the other hand, I think the opposite is much more common. Although it might be annoying at times (we have all met that these people who seem to care more about formal definitions and wordings than the actual substance), I don’t think the strive for precise definitions and a consistent language is what we should worry about.

            That kind of constant wrangling over which words are PC and which ones aren’t are what I think of as kind of pointless.

            I was not really talking about political correctness, which I think is a very specific problem. Political correctness is in my opinion something bad that should be avoided at all cost. In that sense, the discussion which words we should use to describe certain groups of people is not only pointless but in fact counter productive. As long as there is wide spread discrimination against black people in USA, all words will eventually become insults. I don’t mean we should call people with a certain ethnic background things they don’t want to be called. I strongly think they should have the right to choose what to be called. My point is that, the act of being politically correct is really a distraction. Political correctness is by definition to sweep problems under the carpet. A bit like the old saying: “The easiest way to get rid of racism is to stop calling it racism”.

          • In reply to #94 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #93 by Nunbeliever:

            On the other hand if I were African American maybe it wouldn’t seem so pointless.

            Bazinga!

            I would be happy to be accused of being Muslimophobic, as I believe I can easily defend against it from what I have written in the past. I don’t believe I would have anything like the same ease defending against a charge of Islamophobia because each and every instance of me challenging the irrationality, sexism, exploitative aspect and parasitic facilitation it affords has to be argued against to prove I am not phobic.

            The one thing I always complain about here, the poison of social poisons that screws with my aspie brain, is unfair and unevidenced imputation of malign or neurotic motives. I don’t like to see it done to others. I don’t like it done to me. I’m not “quibbling”.

          • In reply to #79 by phil rimmer:

            Of course I don’t want to dispose of the word anti-semetism. … Anti Zionism was coined to restore some clarity to some debates.

            You replace ‘Islamophobia’ with the newish word ‘Muslimophobia’. No problem. You can use it right away. The problem would be in persuading other people to use the neologism and, even more so, to use it in the sense you intend. Personally, I’ll try to do without either.

            What Muslimophobes do you have in mind? Sam Harris?

          • In reply to #81 by aldous:

            In reply to #79 by phil rimmer:

            What Muslimophobes do you have in mind? Sam Harris?

            As a clear example, I’d pick Geert Wilders. This is a changephobic who simply dislikes the appearance of difference and wants it blotted out. The accounts of what he actually dislikes is almost exclusively about appearance.

          • In reply to #79 by phil rimmer:

            To repeat it is thoroughly reasonable to have a dislike of an ideology. It is thoroughly unreasonable to dislike a Muslim, just for being brought up in that faith.

            Well, I find that distinction as persuasive and meaningful as the Christian excuse that they “hate the sin but not the sinner”. I really don’t understand why many people find it so offensive to dislike other human beings. I have no problem saying that I strongly dislike bullies and other people who hurt others in a seemingly conscious way. Does that mean that I hate absolutely everything about them, even their very bones and tissue they are made of? Of course not. It’s another way of saying that I strongly like they way they behave.

            But, I also have no problem saying that I strongly dislike people who have certain opinions that I find highly objectionable. If I met a person that thought black people were inferior to others and deserve to be enslaved by white people I would have no problem proclaiming that I dislike this person. Again, I don’t dislike every little detail about this person. I dislike that person’s opinions with regard to black people. Still, our actions, beliefs and opinions are what defines us as human beings. Of course I have many friends that hold certain opinions I don’t dislike, but I would not say that I dislike them. But, this merely reflects the magnitude of “dislikement” I hold for different people and their opinions. If a friend would suddenly express a sincere belief that he thinks all blacks should be killed, it would not be a matter disliking certain opinions he holds. No, that is such an extreme opinion that I would simply dislike him as a person. Would it make sense to say that you don’t really dislike Hitler, you dislike certain opinions he held about the Jews. On the other hand he was probably very kind to his closest friends, and it’s been documented that he loved animals (especially dogs). That would be a pointless exercise. When people hold beliefs or opinions that you find repulsive and diametrically different from your beliefs it’s not really fruitful to distinguish between disliking a person or a person’s opinions. In practice it’s the same thing.

          • In reply to #91 by Nunbeliever:

            In reply to #79 by phil rimmer:

            Would it make sense to say that you don’t really dislike Hitler, you dislike certain opinions he held about the Jews.

            I clearly identified advocates for an ideology as in my sights. I’m not the thought police but I will convict on the strength of any objectionable behaviours.

            To be specific their are people who identify as devout Muslims whom I find not in the least distasteful. Ahmad Shah Massoud was one such, who fought for democracy and womens rights. Very often it is the delta that people are to their immediate environment that is the the object of my judgement of them. Their direction of intellectual and moral travel is the thing.

            I talk often of judging the abused harshly when they become abusers in turn. Striving not to be, even if just a smidgen, will change my judgement of them.

            This is why I am appalled at people here who complain that Muslims are not being true Muslims. I refer you to Hitchens who notes the huge variety of Muslims and how they live their lives. He, I note, was a keen supporter of Massoud.

  21. Sam Harris has tweeted to correct his misattribution of the quote to Hitchens. Sam displays a lamentable inability to recognize both the Hitchens style and his devotion to factual accuracy. The ‘wonderful sentence’ is particularly crass..

    [NOTE 5/11/14: This wonderful sentence seems to have been wrongly attributed to Hitch (who was imitable after all). I’m told these words first appeared in a tweet from Andrew Cummins. Well done, Andrew!]

    • In reply to #83 by aldous:

      Sam Harris has tweeted to correct his misattribution of the quote to Hitchens. Sam displays a lamentable inability to recognize both the Hitchens style and his devotion to factual accuracy. The ‘wonderful sentence’ is particularly crass..

      [NOTE 5/11/14: This wonderful sentence seems to have been wr...

      Its good to know. Thanks.

    • In reply to #98 by John Sargeant:

      Sam Harris has updated his post to reflect that Christopher Hitchens never said that about Islamophobia.

      The origins of the term are discussed here

      Since the term was put into circulation by the Runnymede Trust, these distinguished academics and faith leaders are among the rightful recipients of Mr Cummins’ accolades. Concern for the facts doesn’t seem to be part of his repertoire so maybe he thought he was insulting quite different people.

  22. I found a useful timeline of the use of Islamophia, defined as ‘prejudice and irrational fear of Islam and Muslims’. I suppose it’s necessary to point out that it doesn’t mean ‘even-handed hostility to ideas and actions of Muslims on the same moral and intellectual basis as those of any other religious, social or national group or organization’. The article has the advantage of being brief, even if it’s written in slightly peculiar English.

    1912 “islamophobe” in French

    1924 “islamophobia” in English

    1975 Hijem Djait (Tunisian academic) in an article about Edward Said

    1985 Edward Said (Palestinian-American academic) takes up the word

    1997 Runnymede Report

    • In reply to #100 by aldous:

      I found a useful timeline of the use of Islamophia, defined as ‘prejudice and irrational fear of Islam and Muslims’.

      While I have no reason to defend the people who claim that this term was coined in the early 1990s, your link actually gives me good reasons to think that these people actually thought they had coined a new word. I mean, it seems this term was a very obscure extremely rarely used term until very recently. Isn’t that a bit interesting? I mean, hatred and prejudice against Muslims isn’t hardly a new phenomenon but one that stems back thousands of years.

      • In reply to #101 by Nunbeliever:

        your link actually gives me good reasons to think that these people actually thought they had coined a new word

        I don’t know who you mean by ‘these people’ but, if you mean the Runnymede commission, they didn’t think they’d coined a new word. That’s stated quite clearly in the preface to the report. It was a word already in circulation in the Muslim community in the UK. Previously to that, it was used by academics.

        Muslims, like any other minority (as they were, and are, in Britain) experience discrimination. If there wasn’t a special word for it, it would just be complained about as ‘discrimination’.

        • In reply to #102 by aldous:

          Oh, sorry. I realize my comment was a bit unclear. The article you referred to earlier (TAM) contained this quote: “Muhammad said he was present when his then-allies, meeting at the offices of the International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT) in Northern Virginia years ago, coined the term Islamophobia.”

          My point is just that it’s conceivable that, since the term was rarely used before the 90s, this group (unless Muhammad is lying of course) thought they had coined a new term. Or even if they might have known that it had been used a few times in the past, they might have thought that they defined the term more clearly, and hence in a way coined a new term.

          If this meeting took place (which I of course don’t know), I think it’s fair to say that at least some Muslim groups intentionally started using this term for political reasons.

          • In reply to #103 by Nunbeliever:

            Oh, sorry. I realize my comment was a bit unclear.

            We know that unspecified members of the IIIT didn’t ‘coin the term’ because it was in existence well before the formation of the organization. Anyway, it’s not the sort of term that’s invented once and for all. The suffix -phobia can be stuck on the end of more or less any noun to signify a dislike or aversion, in a non-medical sense. Such words can be invented and re-invented many times. What we can have is the first recorded instance in print (or other medium) of the word. An anecdote, true or false, about being present at some unspecified date when the word was ‘coined’ is not evidence of the use of the word.

            For a word to enter the language it has to be commonly used (unless it’s highly specialized). What is significant in the history of ‘Islamophobia’ is the publication in 1997 of the report by the Runnymede Trust which discussed discrimination against Muslims in the UK. The interest this report aroused led to widespread discussion of the problem, in the UK at least, and to the word gaining currency in English.

            So here are the fascists, cowards, and morons who were involved in giving currency to the word ‘Islamophobia’ to discuss what was recognized as a real and pressing social and political issue of the acceptance of Muslims by non-Muslims.

      • In reply to #101 by Nunbeliever:

        In reply to #100 by aldous:

        I mean, hatred and prejudice against Muslims isn’t hardly a new phenomenon but one that stems back thousands of years….

        being that the muslim faith is less than two thousand years old, your statement here is not entirely true ;)

  23. In the interests of free speech, it’s entirely permissible to make nasty comments about Islam and Muslims in public debate. I’ve just noticed the Brandeis University affair, where the University withdrew its offer of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali on grounds of Islamophobia. This was under pressure from members of students and faculty who got up a petition

    A great blunder to offer the degree and then withdraw it. This is an instance (there are many, of course) which justifies the Sam Harris complaint. I don’t see the Brandeis scandal mentioned in the article above. It is, though, on another thread. The Phobia of Being Called Islamophobic

  24. In reply to #36 by Reckless Monkey:

    In reply to #19 by Katy Cordeth:

    Ayaan is a fellow with the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School. She is also a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, currently researching the relationship between the West…

    It’s a nauseating fact, that politically correct censorship of such brave ladies like Ayaan Hirsi Ali continues (never seen her on the BBC).
    I have acquired support for UKIP on the basis that they campaign for free speech in opposition to the PC pusillanimous poltroons!
    It’s time(as I’ve said before that religions{especially Islam}) should be the subject of black comedy satire.
    Hopefully there will in the future ,be empirical opposition to religious sophistry!

    • In reply to #123 by Blasphemyman:

      politically correct censorship of such brave ladies like Ayaan Hirsi Ali continues (never seen her on the BBC

      She’s on the American media. She’s American and she lives in America so why would you expect to see her on the BBC very often. Watch American tv and you’ll see plenty of her.

  25. I think this is a far fairer account of Hitchens’ political position and modu operandi (from wiki)-

    “Long describing himself as a socialist, Hitchens began his break from the established political left after what he called the “tepid reaction” of the Western left to the Rushdie Affair, followed by the left’s embrace of Bill Clinton, and the “anti-war” movement’s opposition to intervention in Bosnia-Herzegovina—though Hitchens did not leave his position writing for The Nation until, post-9/11, he felt the magazine had arrived at a position “that John Ashcroft is a greater menace than Osama bin Laden.”[5] The September 11 attacks “exhilarated” him, bringing into focus “a battle between everything I love and everything I hate,” and strengthening his embrace of an interventionist foreign policy which challenged “fascism with an Islamic face”.[6] His numerous editorials in support of the Iraq War caused some to label him a neoconservative, although Hitchens insisted he was not “a conservative of any kind”, and his friend Ian McEwan described him as representing the anti-totalitarian left.[7][8] Indeed, in a 2010 BBC interview, he stated that he was ‘still a Marxist’.[9]

    I think Hitchens is a perfect example of someone shunning political dogma and pre-packaged solutions for evidence based policy-making. Whilst the huge amount of evidence he brought to bear with regard to his advocacy for the Iraq war, doesn’t stack up in my mind the same way (I think his failure was one of underestimating harms), I think in Hitch 22 it is obvious his decision to support it was not in any way a shoot-from-the-hip judgement.

    • In reply to #124 by phil rimmer:

      I think this is a far fairer account of Hitchens’ political position and modu operandi (from wiki)-

      modus

      I think Jonathan Haidt’s list of moral concerns for those politically on the left and those on the right is a far more telling identifier of viscerally held values than any given set of party political policies.

      I think Hitchens, fairly clearly is moved by concerns for fairness and equality.

      I think it thunderingly blatant his distaste for unearned and spurious authority, loyalty without rational justification and concerns for purity.

      His moral sentiments are of the left. He is not one of nature’s hyper pro social types, though.

      • In reply to #126 by phil rimmer:

        In reply to #124 by phil rimmer:

        I think this is a far fairer account of Hitchens’ political position and modu operandi (from wiki)-

        modus

        I think Jonathan Haidt’s list of moral concerns for those politically on the left and those on the right is a far more telling identifier of viscerally held v…

        He also described himself as a contrarian and I think he threw things in to stir the pot occasionally. I often wondered if he was just seeking a reaction to his stated view. You couldn’t tell by his body language as he usually maintained a bemused expression.

        • In reply to #128 by Nitya:

          In reply to #126 by phil rimmer:

          He also described himself as a contrarian and I think he threw things in to stir the pot occasionally.

          I don’t think it was quite as random as that sounds, though he surely enjoyed his verbal fisticuffs.

          I think he possibly thought himself a contrarian because he was the last person to follow party lines. I think its part of his disrespect for dogma and that he liked thinking things through for himself. I think he also enjoyed or was not distressed by finding himself adopting a novel position. As a corollary it is notable the good grace he exhibited when he thought he has been proved wrong. Waterboarding was one such, but also, and pleasing for me, his rethinking of the harms of the Iraq war, when confronted by the testimony of a soldier killed there (I must dig up the details). There was notable movement there, just not enough for my liking.

          • In reply to #134 by phil rimmer:

            . enjoyed or was not distressed by finding himself adopting a novel position.

            Yes, I saw that in his personality as well. I fact I often feel like doing that myself as an exercise in lateral thinking. I was tempted to comment on the thread about materialism and offer a point of view that was in direct opposition to the prevailing sentiments. I decided against it after reading your heartfelt post.

          • In reply to #135 by Nitya:

            In reply to #134 by phil rimmer:

            I was tempted to comment on the thread about materialism and offer a point of view that was in direct opposition to the prevailing sentiments. I decided against it after reading your heartfelt post.

            Oh Darn! I wish you had. I think the case for the other side is pretty powerful too. Throwing things away can be cathartically liberating.

            Incidentally, I try and preach not taking offense as the better strategy than not giving it. Whilst I’ve whinged here about language used because I (for one) don’t like being accused of base or trivial or non-rational motives, once I’ve made my case I’m happy for people to have at it (Phobias of phobias…)

          • In reply to #137 by phil rimmer:

            .Oh Darn! I wish you had. I think the case for the other side is pretty powerful too. Throwing things away can be cathartically liberating.

            I wasn’t afraid of giving offence on that topic, as a matter of fact that didn’t cross my mind. I had planned to mention the fact that has become accepted wisdom to view materialism as bad, has it not? I was going to suggest that phrases like ” money isn’t everything” are a deliberate ploy to discourage the downtrodden from aspiring to a bigger slice of the cake.

            When I read your comment and that of Nunbeliever, #1 , if I remember correctly, I changed my mind and saw things from a different perspective.

          • In reply to #138 by Nitya:

            In reply to #137 by phil rimmer:

            I wasn’t afraid of giving offence on that topic,

            My theory of mind is a bit shaky on occasions….

          • In reply to #139 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #138 by Nitya:

            In reply to #137 by phil rimmer:

            I wasn’t afraid of giving offence on that topic,

            My theory of mind is a bit shaky on occasions….

            No, no! My fault. I wasn’t clear.

          • In reply to #138 by Nitya:

            I wasn’t afraid of giving offence on that topic, as a matter of fact that didn’t cross my mind. I had planned to mention the fact that has become accepted wisdom to view materialism as bad, has it not? I was going to suggest that phrases like ” money isn’t everything” are a deliberate ploy to discourage the downtrodden from aspiring to a bigger slice of the cake.

            “Materialism” is one of those words that I think is a source of endless confusion because it means very different things depending on the context and person. On the one hand it can mean a way of living your life where you only value pocessions and money. On the other hand it means a philosophical position that says only the material world exists. One has nothing to do with the other although I think when theists use the word as an automatic slander against atheists they tend to conflate the two, as if believing that only matter exists somehow entails being selfish which I think it clearly doesn’t.

            On the philosophical side I think Materialism is either obviously true (and hence fairly boring) or false. If one means that “only the material world exists” in the sense of saying that things like Angels, fairies, ESP, etc. don’t exist I think that is clearly true. But if it means anything stronger, as a metaphysical view it’s clearly false. As a metaphysical view it goes back to Newton’s influence on Philosophy. People like Descartes and the Deists saw the universe as a huge mechanical device that God put in place and then left to run on it’s own. The thing is — Chomsky has an excellent talk on this — Newton’s view of matter as atoms that knock against each other like billiard balls was discarded long ago. Scientists from Physicists to Computer scientists work with all sorts of intangible concepts like information, probability, computability, language, etc.

            For example, consider things like quantum entanglement. There is no notion of a simple physical world where things need to physically interact to have a causal connection and that is the essence of a non-trivial materialistic philosophy.

          • In reply to #141 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #138 by Nitya:

            Thank you for that explanation. I could have totally misinterpreted any number of comments by using it’s more slanderous meaning. Truth to tell, I did look back to check that I viewed the word in its proper context after reading your comment.

            I’m going to take a risk and continue to veer off-topic, but what do you think of my idea that all those aphorisms urging us to view money as the enemy, are part of a sinister plot? ( or at least are only taken seriously by those without enough to begin with)?

          • In reply to #146 by Nitya:

            what do you think of my idea that all those aphorisms urging us to view money as the enemy, are part of a sinister plot? ( or at least are only taken seriously by those without enough to begin with)?

            I don’t think it’s a plot but I agree that calling money the enemy makes no sense. The enemies are irrationality, greed, corruption, tribalism, etc. Those things are usually closely tied to money but I think it’s ridiculous to blame an abstract concept for human failings. If we got rid of money somehow whatever we replaced it with would just as easily end up getting corrupted. Also, I think it’s ridiculous when you have New Age woo peddlers, people like Ariana Huffington, telling us all to slow down and smell the roses from the comfort of their wealth and privilege.

  26. If my memory serves me rightly from the little I know about religion or evolution, evolution just happened all by itself without any intelligence at all therefore without any purpose. Evolution cannot create or control anything that has happened with intent.
    Religion on the other hand say’s this planet was created by an intelligent creator they choose to call God. I know for sure that Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris have said in conversations in documentaries that we have no free choice/will.. Free will is just an illusion, I have double checked it to make sure that’s what they said.. I truly believe we have NO free will and it is an illusion… from circumstances in my own life.. Too many to put in here , my whole life has been completely controlled by my lack of free choice/will, it is only in the past few years that I became aware of the illusion part.

    So completely ignoring the intelligent creator version and completely concentrating on evolution as we know it, I would like to ask Richard and Sam to explain why this world is in such terrible chaos? Apparently evolution went wrong somewhere not by choice or on purpose that would be impossible .
    What really confuses me is .. if free will is just an illusion.. then we mankind are not responsible for anything that we do !!!!!! from the very beginning I would even dare to say ,back to the cave.. Where did the thoughts come from to draw pictures on the walls and those handprints? And when man became civilized where did their thoughts come from to create many God’s? And eventually whittling them down to just one..!!!! so evolution is actually the cause of man thoughts … therefore evolution created in their minds “an intelligent God” .. they had no free will when they wrote Genesis and all the books that followed . Torah .. New Testament, and the Koran all were written by men who had no free will. So books that were written by Richard and Sam were not by choice ,OR and that is the problem where do all ideas and thoughts come from?! I would take a guess they would say from the mind.. But to what is and where is the mind? We know it controls the brain and we know where that is because evolution created through man’s ideas an MRI scanner to show us the brain.. I may be wrong but I have not heard as of this morning that someone has taken a picture of the mind.
    Being a part of any religion is not by choice, even believing in a God is not free choice ,we cannot have it both ways it’s either hundred percent true that we have no free will and it’s all an illusion.. what is the point of blaming a non-existing God and religion for everything that is wrong on the planet, can anyone predict that evolution without intelligence or purpose can change the course of our future OR … There is no OR and it is not looking good.. It would appear that religions all of them cannot stop doing what they are doing if they have no choice .. unless evolution suddenly decides to give us free will/choice, NO that won’t work evolution would need to have intelligence or a purpose for that to happen.
    I don’t do a lot of reading but I do a lot of thinking, when I sat down to write I thought it was me choosing to give my opinion on on Sam’s conversation with Ayaan Hirsh Ali.
    Of course if I had free will I would not have written all of the above, Very confusing isn’t it? What say you Sam and Richard surely you can explain it ;)

  27. On this topic, I highly recommend that everyone read this post: http://www.citizenwarrior.com/2009/05/terrifying-brilliance-of-islam.html It explains the genius of the Islamic memeplex, about which the author says:

    “If you were going to deliberately design a collection of ideas with the purpose of making one that might eventually dominate the world — one that would eventually out-compete every other religion or political system — you would be hard-pressed to do better than Islam.”

    Instead of emotionally-charged discussions, I think it’s better if Islam’s memetic tactics are calmly analyzed and understood by informed people — particularly atheists, since many of these techniques are used by other religions. But Islam has some especially virulent methods that have led to it’s success, and from which you aren’t immune.

    It will be interesting to see how this battle of memeplexes plays out; right now, I’d say that Westerners are still dangerously ignorant about the power and scope of the Islamic memeplex, in a way that is surely not sustainable, one way or the other. I.e., we either wise up about an ideology that is out to exploit and conquer ours and learn to resist it, or we succumb to its power. It’s pure Darwinism in action; atheists of all people should be able to appreciate this, and find ways to start winning these memetic battles decisively. After all, the truth is on our side ;)

      • In reply to #142 by aldous:

        In reply to #133 by Imperius:

        On this topic, I highly recommend that everyone read this post: http://www.citizenwarrior.com/2009/05/terrifying-brilliance-of-islam.html It explains the genius of the Islamic memeplex, about which the author says:

        Who is the Citizen Warrior? Is it some member of the…

        I don’t know who Citizen Warrior is, but why not read the post and decide for yourself whether it’s “Islamophobic”? I found it to be a calm, rational analysis of the techniques Islam uses to expand its power, with little or no judgmental language. If that’s “Islamophobia”, then perhaps we need other words for similar analyses, like “Naziphobia” and “Slaveryphobia”?

        It’s a slippy slope to an Orwellian world when you start introducing new words into the language in an attempt to proscribe certain ideas and speech, don’t you think? Resisting language corruption is part of the process of becoming immunized against aggressive memeplexes like Islam that I’m talking about. Unfortunately, it’s a two-front war, since there are so many Western intellectuals who reflexively side with memeplexes which are out to undermine and conquer their own civilization. Like I said before, this situation is unsustainable, and will only end in one side’s defeat. And if you don’t believe me, read some history!

        • In reply to #144 by Imperius:

          there are so many Western intellectuals who reflexively side with memeplexes which are out to undermine and conquer their own civilization

          Really? Let’s take Boko Haram, for example. They’re out to undermine Western civilization in northern Nigeria. Who are the ‘Western intellectuals’ who approve of their kidnapping of schoolgirls? Most Nigerians, Muslims included, are hostile to Boko Haram, never mind these ‘many Western intellectuals’ whom you’ve been told about –by anonymous bloggers, perhaps.

          • In reply to #148 by aldous:

            In reply to #144 by Imperius:

            >
            there are so many Western intellectuals who reflexively side with memeplexes which are out to undermine and conquer their own civilization

            Really? Let’s take Boko Haram, for example. They’re out to undermine Western civilization in northern Nigeria. Who are the ‘Western intellectuals’ who approve of their kidnapping of schoolgirls? Most Nigerians, Muslims included, are hostile to Boko Haram, never mind these ‘many Western intellectuals’ whom you’ve been told about –by anonymous bloggers, perhaps.

            Well, you can add any intellectual who thought and still thinks that 9/11 was Americas own fault.

          • In reply to #151 by veggiemanuk:

            Well, you can add any intellectual who thought and still thinks that 9/11 was Americas own fault.

            Only a minuscule percentage of Nigerians have a favourable view of Boko Haram (Pew Research 2013). How many of them are intellectuals I don’t know. The opinion that 9/11 was a response to American foreign policy is accurate, surely? Not a legitimate response, as I’m sure we agree.

          • In reply to #152 by aldous:

            In reply to #151 by veggiemanuk:

            Well, you can add any intellectual who thought and still thinks that 9/11 was Americas own fault.

            The opinion that 9/11 was a response to American foreign policy is accurate, surely?

            Not at all, if anything 9/11 was due to the fact that Islam hates the west.

          • In reply to #221 by veggiemanuk:

            Not at all, if anything 9/11 was due to the fact that Islam hates the west

            By Islam, do you mean 1.6 billion Muslims, the governments of Muslim-majority states or what? You surely don’t think of Muslims as a monolithic bloc. They are ethnically, culturally and politically very diverse. The ‘West’ is also very diverse. The Saudi bombers of 9/11 hated American foreign policy towards Arab countries. They hated support for the Saudi monarchy and Israel. As far as I know, they had no objection to hamburgers and coca cola. Some of them studied in Germany so, at least they appreciated Western education.

          • In reply to #148 by aldous:

            In reply to #144 by Imperius:

            there are so many Western intellectuals who reflexively side with memeplexes which are out to undermine and conquer their own civilization

            Let’s take Boko Haram, for example. They’re out to undermine Western civilization in northern Nigeria. Who are the ‘Western intellectuals’ who approve of their kidnapping of schoolgirls?

            The answer to that must be: those ‘western intellectuals’ who approve of and support Islam; as the jihadist actions of Boko haram are it seems in accord with Islamic injunctions to wage jihad war against Christians and other non-Muslims.

            In reply to 152 by Aldous:
            >

            Only a minuscule percentage of Nigerians have a favourable view of Boko Haram (Pew Research 2013). How many of them are intellectuals I don’t know. The opinion that 9/11 was a response to American foreign policy is accurate, surely? Not a legitimate response, as I’m sure we agree.

            The question is: how many of those Muslims in the mainly Muslim northern states of Nigeria have a favourable view of BH? Especially given the fact that they are able to commit their atrocities at will and with impunity. Not something that would be possible if the communities were against them surely. I think in that case, informers would be queueing up to testify against them and their accomplices.

            As for 9/11, Bin Laden was clear in his statements that his war against America was religious in nature.

          • In reply to #156 by inquisador:

            The question is: how many of those Muslims in the mainly Muslim northern states of Nigeria have a favourable view of BH? Especially given the fact that they are able to commit their atrocities at will and with impunity

            The answer from Pew Research is that 98% of Nigerian Muslims don’t have a favourable view of Boko Haram. They must be one of the least popular such groups in the world.

            As to the supposed immunity, the Nigerian government security forces are active in the fight against the Boko Haram rebels. It’s true that government forces have been accused of indiscriminate arrest, detention, torture, assassination, revenge raids and burning down homes and property. Still, I suppose sometimes the victims were actually Boko Haram soldiers or, at least, their families.

            The Nigerian government has also encouraged the formation of local militias. There was a report a few days ago of a local militia killing 200 Boko Haram fighters. .

    • In reply to #133 by Imperius:
      >

      Instead of emotionally-charged discussions, I think it’s better if Islam’s memetic tactics are calmly analyzed and understood by informed people — particularly atheists, since many of these techniques are used by other religions. But Islam has some especially virulent methods that have led to it’s success, and from which you aren’t immune.

      It will be interesting to see how this battle of memeplexes plays out; right now, I’d say that Westerners are still dangerously ignorant about the power and scope of the Islamic memeplex, in a way that is surely not sustainable, one way or the other. I.e., we either wise up about an ideology that is out to exploit and conquer ours and learn to resist it, or we succumb to its power.

      I think it is very clear what its power will do where it is allowed to dominate!

      Sudan woman faces death for apostasyhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-27424064
      >

      A Sudanese court has sentenced a woman to hang for apostasy – the abandonment of her religious faith – after she married a Christian man.

      Amnesty International condemned the sentence, handed down by a judge in Khartoum, as “appalling and abhorrent”.

      Local media report the sentence on the woman, who is pregnant, would not be carried out for two years after she had given birth.

      Sudan has a majority Muslim population, which is governed by Islamic law.

      “We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged to death,” the judge told the woman, AFP reports.

      • In reply to #143 by Alan4discussion:

        I think it is very clear what its power will do where it is allowed to dominate!

        There’s a warrant (two I think) out for the arrest of Omar al Bashir, President of Sudan. The charges are genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in relation to the Darfur situation. A warrant for his arrest was issued in 2009. Over to you David Cameron and other world leaders. What are you doing to ensure the arrest of al Bashir?

  28. In reply to #154 by Red Dog:

    There is actually a very long history of socialism in the Arab world.

    And as you rightly, and so much to the point, add,

    Socialism was inevitably tied with nationalism and concepts like nationalizing resources such as oil

    This is the motive for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and not the mendacious ‘unseating of the tyrant’ justification put forward, after the event, by neocons and so eagerly taken up by Christopher Hitchens. Saddam Hussein was a secular socialist with just these unwelcome characteristics. The anti-Islam narrative (let’s avoid the accursed word of the thread header) is the result of the importance of fooling the public, especially in a democracy. The public has to be told the tales that appeal to it. Thanks to the all-too-human racism in society, the demonising of Muslims is an easy sell to those who are prepared to switch off their brains to accommodate it.

    Islam, as we are so often told, is not a race. However, it is the religion of otherly-coloured people, from the perspective of white Westerners, and their religion is the yellow armband they are made to wear. .

  29. in Reply # 159 Red Dog

    Excellent program. It really does confirm my view that Orwell’s 1984 is every bit as applicable in the west.

    .“War is peace.
    Freedom is slavery.
    Ignorance is strength.”
    ― George Orwell, 1984

    We are all pawns of the propaganda machine, when all’s said and done.

  30. It’s a very long thread, so if I’ve missed some of it, sorry.
    I don’t think there is any such thing as Islamophobia. It’s defined as an unreasonable fear of Islam. I would say that it’s perfectly reasonable to fear Islam.
    If a religion can take people to the point of suicide bombing, it’s reasonable to fear it. A bit.
    Why are there so few cartoons of Mohammed? Or just paintings? Or plays with him as a character? Fear of Islam. Very reasonable in my book.
    I don’t want some crazy moslem trying to kill me. Nor do most other reasonable people.
    Until there is nothing for reasonable people to fear, there is no such thing as Islamophobia.

    Personally, I despise Islam, as well as fear it. But I despise all religion.
    Islam is the worst though. Worst, if you combine doctrine, effect on adherents, and numbers.
    Few other religions produce the ATTITUDES that produces suicide bombers. It’s not just the bombers themselves, or their victims, that are the problem. It’s the huge numbers of people who must be lurking with similar attitudes, just under the surface, who are not quite infected enough to kill themselves or others. To produce one suicide bomber, you must need thousands and thousands, who have a similar mindset, but just one or two notches down.

    So I say remove all state cooperation with ALL religion. Remove all charity status for anything religious. Remove all grants. Remove all free use of public buildings. Remove all degree courses, unless privately funded.
    And most importantly, remove all state involvement in Religious Schooling, including charity status, and money from the public purse.
    If people want their kids indoctrinated, it should be a private activity.

    It’s not going to happen, but it would be great.

    • In reply to #171 by mistermack:

      Personally, I despise Islam, as well as fear it. But I despise all religion. Islam is the worst though. Worst, if you combine doctrine, effect on adherents, and numbers. Few other religions produce the ATTITUDES that produces suicide bombers.

      Islam is a candidate for the worst religion currently. Yet, if the criterion is violent action, Islamic suicide bombers are no competition at all for professional soldiers. Would you prefer to be decapitated by an American drone pilot or a Saudi suicide bomber? Would you be any more dead one way than the other? Do you think Muslims are highly moral when they are wearing the Afghan army uniform and fiends when they are fighting in the Pashtun rebel army?

      • Of course, I don’t want to be decapitated by anybody.
        Military action is a different topic entirely. I’m not keen on it. But it’s hardly related to the Islam debate, except that branches of Islam do like to take on other branches in a war. Religious factions of any kind are a ticking time bomb. And again, Islam seems to be the worst.

        In reply to #174 by aldous:

        In reply to #171 by mistermack:

        Personally, I despise Islam, as well as fear it. But I despise all religion. Islam is the worst though. Worst, if you combine doctrine, effect on adherents, and numbers. Few other religions produce the ATTITUDES that produces suicide bombers.

        Islam is a candidate fo…

        • In reply to #176 by mistermack:

          Military action is a different topic entirely. I’m not keen on it. But it’s hardly related to the Islam debate, except that branches of Islam do like to take on other branches in a war.

          That is clearly wrong. The fundamentalist Muslims have as much, you could sometimes argue even more, hatred for other Muslims who don’t share the same faith as they do for the US. The ethnic war in Iraq is largely between the Sunnis and the Shia. The war between Iraq and Iran (back when the US supported Sadam Hussein and didn’t mind that he used WMDs) was partly fueled by the fact that the Iranians are Shia and the branch that Hussein favored were Sunni. Of course in those cases there are other things fueling the wars besides just religious differences as there almost always are.

          • In reply to #177 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #176 by mistermack:

            Military action is a different topic entirely. I’m not keen on it. But it’s hardly related to the Islam debate, except that branches of Islam do like to take on other branches in a war.

            D’oh! I was just about to post another reply when I realized I mis-read your comment. You were saying that Islam DOES fight among the different sects, I thought you were arguing the other way. Sorry, should remember to read more carefully.

          • In reply to #177 by Red Dog:

            The war between Iraq and Iran (back when the US supported Sadam Hussein and didn’t mind that he used WMDs) was partly fueled by the fact that the Iranians are Shia and the branch that Hussein favored were Sunni.

            That’s exactly wrong. Saddam was a secular, socialist Stalinist. His aim was to acquire the oil-rich areas of Western Iran, with an appeal to Arab nationalism, hoping to get the Arab ethnic minority of this region of Iran on his side. Iraq is overwhelmingly Shia but the Iraqi Shia remained loyal to the Iraqi nation and fought their Shia brothers in Iran. Those who sided with Iran and opposed Saddam were actually Saddam’s Sunni co-religionists in the Kurdish region.

          • In reply to #180 by aldous:

            That’s exactly wrong. Saddam was a secular, socialist Stalinist. His aim was to acquire the oil-rich areas of Western Iran, with an appeal to Arab nationalism, hoping to get the Arab ethnic minority of this region of Iran on his side. Iraq is overwhelmingly Shia but the Iraqi Shia remained loyal to the Iraqi nation and fought their Shia brothers in Iran. Those who sided with Iran and opposed Saddam were actually Saddam’s Sunni co-religionists in the Kurdish region.

            You need to re-read what I wrote more carefully. I agree with most of what you said but it doesn’t contradict what I wrote. I know Hussein was a secularist. But he still used religious politics to solidify his power. And while the majority of Iraq is and was Shia Hussein curried favor with the Sunni minority. That is one reason the US invasion caused such chaos in the the nation, you had a minority group that was used to having much of the power and wealth suddenly thrown out of power.

        • In reply to #176 by mistermack:

          Of course, I don’t want to be decapitated by anybody.
          Military action is a different topic entirely. I’m not keen on it. But it’s hardly related to the Islam debate, except that branches of Islam do like to take on other branches in a war. Religious factions of any kind are a ticking time bomb. …

          It seems that African leaders don’t regard “war” and “military action” a different topic!

          Africa leaders declare ‘war’ on Nigeria Boko Haram – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-27451966
          >

          Last month it abducted 223 schoolgirls in north-eastern Nigeria, where it is based. Fresh attacks were reported in Nigeria and Cameroon overnight.

          Thousands of people have been killed by Boko Haram in recent years.

          The Paris summit brought together President Francois Hollande, Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan, and their counterparts from Benin, Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
          Cameroon’s President Paul Biya said:
          “We are here to declare war on Boko Haram”. Idriss Deby of Chad said it would be “total war”.

          Earlier, Mr Hollande called Boko Haram a “major threat to West and Central Africa”, and said it had links with al-Qaeda’s North-African arm and “other terrorist organisations”.

          • No, nor do I. I was replying to a specific comment. My original comments were about terrorism and suicide bombing.
            Which I think is different to war. Of course, none of it is desirable, and I think Islam is at the root of a lot of it. But of course, I agree with the previous poster, that plenty of other people engage in wars too.

            In reply to #181 by Alan4discussion:
            It seems that African leaders don’t regard “war” and “military action” a different topic!

        • In reply to #176 by mistermack:

          Military action is a different topic entirely.

          Only if you have an obsessive focus on the role of religion. If the topic is violence, jihadism against non-Muslims plays a role. It’s not a very big role compared to the multi-billion dollar American armed forces and their allies.

          • I don’t think it’s obsessive. I just replied to the original posting. I don’t think I’m obliged to cover all other instances of violence as well.
            Like I said, that’s a different topic to the OP. I’m not saying the violence by the west lesser or greater. It’s just not on topic.

            In reply to #182 by aldous:

            In reply to #176 by mistermack:

            Military action is a different topic entirely.

            Only if you have an obsessive focus on the role of religion. If the topic is violence, jihadism against non-Muslims plays a role. It’s not a very big role compared to the multi-billion dollar American armed forces and t…

          • In reply to #185 by mistermack:

            I’m not saying the violence by the west lesser or greater. It’s just not on topic.

            It’s not about East vs West. It’s about the humanist view. From that point of view, violence is the evil. Whether it’s committed from religious motives or non-religious motives. Blowing people to smithereens is, in principle, no better or no worse because it’s done by a religious nutter or by a calm and rational professional, doing it for his pay.

          • In reply to #187 by aldous:

            In reply to #185 by mistermack:

            Blowing people to smithereens is, in principle, no better or no worse because it’s done by a religious nutter or by a calm and rational professional, doing it for his pay.

            There are many ways, some of them relying on evidence and reason, how you may be able to curtail the actions of the latter but rather less so for the former.

          • Yes, and in any case, one ill doesn’t cancel out another. This discussion is about Islamophobia.
            If the discussion thread was about rape, it would hardly be relevant to insist that cars cause more injuries than rapists…, and it certainly wouldn’t make rape any less serious.

            In reply to #189 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #187 by aldous:

            In reply to #185 by mistermack:

            Blowing people to smithereens is, in principle, no better or no worse because it’s done by a religious nutter or by a calm and rational professional, doing it for his pay.

            There are many ways, some of them relying on evidence and reason,…how you may be able to curtail the actions of the latter but rather less so for the former.

          • In reply to #190 by mistermack:

            Yes, and in any case, one ill doesn’t cancel out another. This discussion is about Islamophobia.
            If the discussion thread was about rape, it would hardly be relevant to insist that cars cause more injuries than rapists…, and it certainly wouldn’t make rape any less serious.

            But the argument is about (un)reasonable hatred of a group, a group supporting a ideology, or an ideology and the conflicts it/they can bring. Democracy say could be counted a competing or conficting ideology with a theocratic one as Islam can be.

            The person about to die at the hands of either ideologist might not see the niceties of your distinction. Rape and car travel are not in competition with each other for the hearts and minds or simple compliance of the population.

            The nicety that counts though is for how the killing may get to stop. The ideologies are not mirrors of each other.

          • Woah, there, that’s not right at all. You can’t lump a hate of an ideology in with a hate of a group.
            I hate Christianity, but I don’t hate my sister.
            In reply to #191 by phil rimmer:

            But the argument is about (un)reasonable hatred of a group, a group supporting a ideology, or an ideology and the conflicts it/they can bring.

          • In reply to #196 by mistermack:

            Woah, there, that’s not right at all. You can’t lump a hate of an ideology in with a hate of a group.
            I hate Christianity, but I don’t hate my sister.
            In reply to #191 by phil rimmer:

            You have my earlier complaint in a nutshell. It bears repeating. Thank you. (Note the choice of both reasonable and unreasonable as qualifying adjectives for my list of three sub topics.)

          • In reply to #187 by aldous:

            In reply to #185 by mistermack:

            I’m not saying the violence by the west lesser or greater. It’s just not on topic.

            It’s not about East vs West. It’s about the humanist view. From that point of view, violence is the evil. Whether it’s committed from religious motives or non-religious motives. Blowi…

            If violence is the evil then the greater the violence, the greater the evil.

            So where does right and wrong come in? How can we judge between degrees of evil without taking into account the intentions of the combatants?

            So combatant [a] kills innocent people in order to obey the command of Allah and become a martyr in paradise.

            While combatant [b] kills innocent people because they are unavoidable collateral damage in his efforts to protect other innocent people by killing combatants [a].

            You seem to be saying that the only criterion on which to decide which is the worst evil is that of who has the biggest or best weapons?

            Why do you discount the objectives of the protagonists?

            Would you have favoured the Nazis in WW2 if only the Allies had had superior weapons, as they did toward the end?

          • It’s not about East vs West. It’s about the humanist view. From that point of view, violence is the evil.

            That’s probably way too black-and-white for most humanists, many don’t even like to use the word evil.

            The Amsterdam Declaration 2002 listed the fundamentals of modern Humanism. It talks of the furtherance of peace but pacifism was not mentioned, although it may be important to many.

            Blowing people to smithereens is, in principle, no better or no worse because it’s done by a religious nutter or by a calm and rational professional, doing it for his pay.

            I doubt many would disagree with that, in principle. But most people would judge the incident based on the circumstances. Take the current situation in Nigeria. If a number of Boko Haram Islamists get blown up in the process of rescuing those kidnapped girls, the blowing up of those people would be no better or worse whether it was done by other religious nutters or by soldiers. But, in the circumstances, would you call it an evil action?

            I see the US army now recognises the term Humanist as a religious preference. Do you think those humanists have no business being in the army where they are likely to commit violent (evil?) acts? Or would a greater percentage of humanists in the army be a good thing?

            In reply to #187 by aldous:

            In reply to #185 by mistermack:

            I’m not saying the violence by the west lesser or greater. It’s just not on topic.

            It’s not about East vs West. It’s about the humanist view. From that point of view, violence is the evil. Whether it’s committed from religious motives or non-religious motives. Blowi…

          • In reply to #197 by Marktony:

            That’s probably way too black-and-white for most humanists, many don’t even like to use the word evil.

            I would make a distinction between rhe immediate circumstances and the wider context. An armed intruder gets into your house and threatens to kill you and your family. You struggle with him, get the gun and shoot him dead. In the immediate circumstances, that is the best outcome, let us say.

            That doesn’t make killing a fellow human being a good thing in itself. We should try to organize society to ensure that lethal violence is as rare as possible.

            The same reasoning applies when the scale of violence, actual or potential, rises to the level of conflict within nations and between nations. If humanism is limited to everyday life and personal concerns, it doesn’t go far enough. Not that everybody has to be a political activist. I’m just saying that, when discussing events in the news, humanist principles should not be forgotten.

  31. I stayed out of this thread mainly because I found some of the comments here deeply unserious, if not delusional. Recently, however, I saw yet another news story out of Africa about the “religion of peace,” which incidentally coincided with the news of the opening of the 9/11 museum in the US, and I got angry again. A woman in Sudan has been condemned to death for leaving Islam and marrying a Christian. She is also to receive 100 lashes, though seeing that she is eight months pregnant, the judge – praise be to Allah the merciful – has allowed the whipping to be postponed until after she gives birth. She is currently in jail with her 20 month old. The one ray of hope comes from the fact that she married a Christian (if she was an atheist, I doubt that the world outrage would be the same), so maybe international pressure will achieve something.

    Of course, many of us have started to use the example of “death is the punishment for apostasy under Islam” as shorthand for pointing out that Islam itself, and not other factors, like poverty or US policy, is the main culprit behind the evil deeds committed by Muslims. This is often followed by us siting statistics which show how many Muslims, including supposedly moderate ones, actually support this “death for apostasy” (over 80% in Egypt support this, for example). And yet, the hand waving by some on the left continues. It’s not Islam, it’s poverty or US foreign policies that are to blame. Are these the reasons for why this woman has to die? Ideas matter. Excusing Islam is like excusing Nazism because Germany got a bad deal after WWI or because most Nazi party members did not personally kill any Jews.

    • In reply to #172 by secularjew:

      Excusing Islam is like excusing Nazism because Germany got a bad deal after WWI or because most Nazi party members did not personally kill any Jews.

      Equating Islam with Nazism leaves you open to the charge of Islamophobia. A more enlightened comparison is between current usage of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. On grounds of human rights and international humanitarian law, you rightly condemn the barbaric sentence on the Sudanese woman. You would also notice that the President of Sudan has two warrants out for his arrest for breaches of international law and would support the decision of the International Criminal Court. Likewise, as a matter of consistency, you would condemn barbarous and criminal acts by Israel and support action against it. This would, obviously, not be Islamophobia in the first case nor anti-Semitism in the second case.

      Yet, nobody could reasonably deny that Islamophobic and anti-Semitic attitudes exist.

  32. .There’s no comparison. Islam is all about domination and obedience. Democracy is about freedom of the people, and the individual.
    There is no holy book, urging death to those who disagree.
    The APPLICATION might be wanting, but the principles are far superior.
    In reply to #191 by phil rimmer:

    Democracy say could be counted a competing or conficting ideology with a theocratic one as Islam can be.

    • In reply to #198 by mistermack:

      .There’s no comparison. Islam is often about domination and obedience. Democracy is often about freedom of the people, and the individual.
      There is no holy book, urging death to those who disagree.
      The APPLICATION might be wanting, but the principles are far superior.
      In reply to #191 by phil rimmer:

      Again you have my point. Thanks for underlining it. Incidentally, I fixed your absolutism in the requote. (aldous was specific in saying “religious nutter”.)

        • In reply to #202 by mistermack:

          That’s rubbish. Islam is about a book, and it doesn’t change according to YOUR whim. You’re inventing your own version of reality.
          Good luck with it.

          May I introduce you the Ahmad Shah Massoud? Freedom fighter against the Russians in Afghanistan, hugely popular in the north of the country a great supporter of democracy and the rights of women.

          “Massoud is adamant that in Afghanistan women have suffered oppression for generations. He says that ‘the cultural environment of the country suffocates women. But the Taliban exacerbate this with oppression.’ His most ambitious project is to shatter this cultural prejudice and so give more space, freedom and equality to women—they would have the same rights as men.”[8]
          —Pepe Escobar, in ‘Massoud: From Warrior to Statesman’
          `</pre>

          He warned the West of the forces aligned against them. Europe were quicker to appreciate the significance of this hugely popular leader but the US caught up sadly too late, within a month of Dubya reading the CIA reports

          >
          “The CIA officers admired Massoud greatly. They saw him as a Che Guevara figure, a great actor on history’s stage. Massoud was a poet, a military genius, a religious man, and a leader of enormous courage who defied death and accepted its inevitability, they thought. … In his house there were thousands of books: Persian poetry, histories of the Afghan war in multiple languages, biographies of other military and guerilla leaders. In their meetings Massoud wove sophisticated, measured references to Afghan history and global politics into his arguments. He was quiet, forceful, reserved, and full of dignity, but also light in spirit. The CIA team had gone into the Panshjir as unabashed admirers of Massoud. Now their convictions deepened. …”[86]
          —Steve Coll, in Ghost Wars

          he was assassinated by his nemesis Osama Bin Laden, two days before 9/11. The Taliban supported by twice their own number in Pakistani troops, paid for with Saudi money, had driven him back. After 9/11 he would have become the focus for untold American resources. He had to go and his ideas stamped out.

          Don’t confuse the current state of Islam with its past and future states. In the last few decades it has been mightily parasitised by its political/religious leaders. Its holy book was custom written for consolidating territory so this works out pretty well for them, BUT, remember it has NO supernatural power. The only way it has power is if you insist it so.

          Unexploited, people would rather focus on families and a good collective life. Old words find new meanings when left in the hands of ordinary folk.

          Its the only way out and with a leader like Massoud back at the helm the changes could be startling.

          • In reply to #203 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #202 by mistermack:

            Don’t confuse the current state of Islam with its past and future states. In the last few decades it has been mightily parasitised by its political/religious leaders. Its holy book was custom written for consolidating territory so this works out pretty well for them, BUT, remember it has NO supernatural power. The only way it has power is if you insist it so.

            I think, rather, the way it gains power is by convincing millions of people to do it’s bidding; or at least to support others in their Islamic activities.

            There is as we know, a current crop of victims of this phenomenon, in the form of madrassah-trained slaves, drip-fed the culture from infancy, haplessly, fatalistically pursuing infidels of the Great Satan and the Little Satan and all the rest. A mind-virus so pernicious that all rational thought incompatible with it cannot be considered for a moment.

            Those of us on this site are mostly free of this virus. We are free to act against it. This is the imperative need that we face. While we still can. Sorry if this sounds alarmist, but I am alarmed. Not least by the mounting casualty figures claimed by the war being waged against us by Islamists.

            That final syllable may be superfluous by the way.

          • In reply to #205 by inquisador:

            In reply to #203 by phil rimmer:

            That final syllable may be superfluous by the way.

            No, its not. Misunderstand that and you fail to solve the problem. The wretched books have no spooky power.

          • In reply to #210 by phil rimmer:

            The wretched books have no spooky power.

            This is one of the most striking effects of the phobia. Sufferers from it think they are book critics. As if they fear the Koran is going to jump off the shelf and strangle them. The instruction manual has no life of its own. It makes no sense to claim to be afraid of a book and not the people who follow it.

          • That’s a ludicrous argument, when the people you are talking about are indoctrinated in the words of that book as soon as they can speak.
            The book has incredible power, You try telling the people who are preaching from it every day that it has no power. I think they would disagree, and they should know !!

            In reply to #220 by aldous:

            In reply to #210 by phil rimmer:

            The wretched books have no spooky power.

            This is one of the most striking effects of the phobia. Sufferers from it think they are book critics. As if they fear the Koran is going to jump off the shelf and strangle them. The instruction manual has no life of its own…

          • In reply to #224 by mistermack:

            The book has incredible power,

            The Shamans, the interpreters of the book have incredible power. The book can sustain the worst nutters through to the likes of Ahmad Shah Massoud and beyond.

          • In reply to #226 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #224 by mistermack:

            The book has incredible power,

            The Shamans, the interpreters of the book have incredible power. The book can sustain the worst nutters through to the likes of Ahmad Shah Massoud and beyond.

            If you are claiming that human-rights-minded Massoud was sustained by the book then I would like to see some evidence for that. It seems to me that he was more sustained by the UDHR than by that slave manual. His departure from Islam must be the thing that turned the Islamists against him, including OBL.

            There’s no hiding it from the masses; even if they don’t notice the irreligiosity of some leaders, there are plenty of Imams who will soon preach about it.

            In the case of Ataturk, he was much loved by his mostly Muslim people, despite openly rejecting Islam?? Well, it was right at the end of the caliphate. The Ottoman Empire had fallen apart through maladministration and corruption. His words on Islam bear repetition:-
            >

            “Islam, this absurd theology of an immoral Bedouin, is a rotting corpse which poisons our lives.”

            ” I have no religion, and at times I wish all religions at the bottom of the sea. He is a weak ruler who needs religion to uphold his government; it is as if he would catch his people in a trap. My people are going to learn the principles of democracy, the dictates of truth and the teachings of science. Superstition must go. Let them worship as they will; every man can follow his own conscience, provided it does not interfere with sane reason or bid him against the liberty of his fellow-men.”

            So my point, such as it is, is that a successful leader, then as now, is a leader who will confront the fallacies of religion, in this case Islam, where such fallacies and evilness needs to be confronted. In the west right now we have idiots like Cameron who defends and appeases Islam. Even to the absurd length of claiming that the Quran-hate-verses-quoting-murderer Michael Adebolajo’s vile beheading of Lee Rigby had nothing to do with Islam.

            It’s time to tell the truth about Islam. That Islamism is, unfortunately, not a hijacking of Islam, but just Islam. Yes there are good things in the texts, but they are totally outweighed and abrogated by the bad things.

            Ask Ayaan. She knows.

          • In reply to #236 by inquisador:

            In reply to #226 by phil rimmer:

            Sorry, Inqui, I find your assertions utterly baseless-

            “His departure from Islam…”

            “There’s no hiding it from the masses; even if they don’t notice the irreligiosity of some leaders, “

            Spend twelve minutes looking at this and tell me he was irreligious. His picture is everywhere in Afghanistan. He is indeed lionised (sic) above any other Afghan. How can he have such a high profile and not be denounced as irreligious? He isn’t.

            He offered what most Afghan citizens wanted, not freedom from their religion but a kinder, more thoughtful and more civilized life, like the one before the Taliban came with their Madrasas formed vicious vision and the Soviets with their dirigiste dogma.. The religion thing is an issue for their children’s children.

            Edited

            the Quran-hate-verses-quoting-murderer Michael Adebolajo’s vile beheading of Lee Rigby had nothing to do with Islam.

          • In reply to #238 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #236 by inquisador:

            In reply to #226 by phil rimmer:

            Sorry, Inqui, I find your assertions utterly baseless-

            All of them? To start with the Adebolajo video; my point is that he was quoting the Quran, sura 9, as justification for his murder, while waving his bloody knife. Hence David Cameron was, I contend, wrong to say that his crime was nothing to do with islam. The evidence is on the video that you link to. He calls it by the Arabic name ‘Sura At Taubah’ Sura 9 is very instructive, as is sura 8.

            As for Massoud, I am sure you are right and know more than I do. I will follow your link and get back to you.

            Sorry I have to go now; more later.

          • In reply to #236 by inquisador:

            In the case of Ataturk, he was much loved by his mostly Muslim people, despite openly rejecting Islam?? Well, it was right at the end of the caliphate. The Ottoman Empire had fallen apart through maladministration and corruption. His words on Islam bear repetition:-

            I’m sure the words you quote have been frequently repeated on the websites where you get your information about Islam. The question is whether Ataturk wrote them or is reported as saying them by a trustworthy source. Can you give your source? Just as a matter of interest.

          • In reply to #248 by aldous:

            In reply to #236 by inquisador:

            In the case of Ataturk, he was much loved by his mostly Muslim people, despite openly rejecting Islam?? Well, it was right at the end of the caliphate. The Ottoman Empire had fallen apart through maladministration and corruption. His words on Islam bear repetition:-…

            I’m sure the words you quote have been frequently repeated on the websites where you get your information about Islam. The question is whether Ataturk wrote them or is reported as saying them by a trustworthy source. Can you give your source? Just as a matter of interest.

            Excellent websites they are too. No. I just like the quote because it seems so right. Probably not from Ataturk at all, doesn’t sound like him. Why would he risk alienating his fellow Turks who were Muslims? He may have said it in private conversation I suppose. There are, I believe, one or two obscure books from the 1920s that have been said to contain the quotes.
            Nothing about it in my Brittanica macropedia article on Kemal; not a single thing by him in my Oxford Book of Quotations.

            Anyone?

          • In reply to #273 by inquisador:

            Excellent websites they are too. No. I just like the quote because it seems so right.

            It doesn’t sound right and it’s typical of the remarks which you repeat from Islamophobic websites.

          • In reply to #224 by mistermack:

            The book has incredible power,

            Yes, but only when its precepts are implanted in human minds. The Koran has exactly the same moral outlook as the Old Testament. The State of Israel has the supremacist ideology of the Old Testament but it is expressed on a much reduced scale because it exists in a different context. The historical reality over-rides the tribal religious values.

            The same applies to the West. Religious values were not the prime motivation for the 2nd World War. Nationalism and realpolitik were the crucial factors. When American drone pilots wipe out Muslim families in Pakistan, the motivation is patriotism and their pay, I assume. When it comes to tallying up the evil that is visited on the world by military or military-style violence, there are situations where religion, including Islam, is not the only part, or even an important part at all.

          • Well, I would have thought that was so obvious, it wouldn’t need saying.
            The Koran IS firmly implanted in the minds of billions of people. Why ignore the current reality? Imagine how many man-hours of study have been put into the Koran by people alive today. In this real world, the book DOES EXACTLY have a spooky power.
            A man who died 1300 years ago is still telling 1.6 billion people how to live their lives. That’s power, and it’s spooky. In reply to #229 by aldous:

            In reply to #224 by mistermack:

            The book has incredible power,

            Yes, but only when its precepts are implanted in human minds. The Koran has exactly the same moral outlook as the Old Testament. The State of Israel has the supremacist ideology of the Old Testament but it is expressed on a much reduce…

          • In reply to #230 by mistermack:

            In this real world, the book DOES EXACTLY have a spooky power. A man who died 1300 years ago is still telling 1.6 billion people how to live their lives. That’s power, and it’s spooky.

            The Old Testament, which has exactly the same moral message as the Koran, tells people how to live their lives. In the social and economic circumstances of, for example, the UK we pay little or no attention. The Koran itself has no power at all It’s only when the message is transmitted to children by teachers, parents and clergy and re-enforced by the community and, in Muslim majority countries, by law and government, that it has an effect.

            Demonizing Muslims as a ‘race’ ,not capable of change, denies the reality that they are not a monolithic bloc and makes the unfounded assumption that they are not influenced by the forces of economic development and global trends.

          • In reply to #210 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #205 by inquisador:

            In reply to #203 by phil rimmer:

            That final syllable may be superfluous by the way.

            No, its not. Misunderstand that and you fail to solve the problem. The wretched books have no spooky power.

            Without Islam there could be no Islamism.

            The Islamic prophet Muhammad is quoted as saying “The ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of the martyr”.

            I suppose what I’m trying to say is that the wretched books DO have spooky power. The ideas/memes contained within it are powerful and contagious; there are millions of copies distributed everywhere and more being published all the time.

            As Churchill said in 1899, and as you may be arrested for quoting;-

            No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith.”

            Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/apr/29/quoting-winston-churchills-criticism-islam-contrib/#ixzz32A1h6ZO4
            Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

            ‘Twas ever thus. Islam did not become dominant over so much of the globe by accident.

            Of course there can be, and have been periods of relative quiescence in which the war-inducing verses have lain largely unheeded. But so long as they remain in that book, we can never be sure if and when the cycle will repeat yet again.

          • In reply to #227 by inquisador:

            Of course there can be, and have been periods of relative quiescence in which the war-inducing verses have lain largely unheeded.

            Oddly enough, the war-inducing speeches of Churchill are unheeded nowadays. The urge to incinerate Germans has faded with the ending of the war. The various Islamic empires have petered out with the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. The various European empires always spread their version of Christianity, some with greater ferocity than others.

            The idea that Mr Ali in the corner shop is plotting world conquest and building a nuclear bomb in his basement is probably fantasy.

          • In reply to #234 by aldous:

            In reply to #227 by inquisador:

            Of course there can be, and have been periods of relative quiescence in which the war-inducing verses have lain largely unheeded.

            Oddly enough, the war-inducing speeches of Churchill are unheeded nowadays. The urge to incinerate Germans has faded with the ending of…

            FYI, here is one of the best articles I’ve found (well best in that I agree with most of it ;) on the Brandeis controversy:

            New Republic: Ali Controversy A Matter of Double Standards not Free Speech

          • In reply to #235 by Red Dog:

            FYI, here is one of the best articles I’ve found (well best in that I agree with most of it ;) on the Brandeis controversy:

            Ayaan Hirsi Ali wins the Aldous gold medal for moral courage. I’d give the award with a speech full of praise and not a word of reservation.

            When it comes to honorary degrees, what universities are doing, particularly when it’s not specifically for academic achievement, is to raise their own profile by associating themselves with a prestigious name. When they belatedly found out that the prospective honoree was a controversial figure, they changed their minds. The whole affair was a fiasco. They should consult staff and students beforehand if they are going to give weight to their opinion. They insulted Ayaan Hirsi Ali, tarnished the reputation of the university and gave a cheap victory to those who can’t separate Hirsi Ali’s outstanding qualities from some ambiguous, insufficiently considered, remarks attributed to her.

            Would I have voted to give her an honorary degree? No. Would I have voted to cancel it, once it had been offered? I don’t think so.

          • In reply to #243 by aldous:

            Would I have voted to give her an honorary degree? No. Would I have voted to cancel it, once it had been offered? I don’t think so.

            Me too, although I would say definitely no to the second as well.

          • FYI, here is one of the best articles I’ve found (well best in that I agree with most of it ;) on the Brandeis controversy:

            New Republic: Ali Controversy A Matter of Double Standards not Free Speech

            How about this one?

            In reply to #235 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #234 by aldous:

            In reply to #227 by inquisador:

            Of course there can be, and have been periods of relative quiescence in which the war-inducing verses have lain largely unheeded.

            Oddly enough, the war-inducing speeches of Churchill are unheeded nowadays. The urge to incinerate Germans…

          • In reply to #263 by Marktony:

            How about this one?

            This commencement address thing in the USA is a bizarre business. The idea is to have a big name speaker who boosts the university’s public visibility. They should stick with actors and entertainers. Dolly Parton or suchlike would have been more appropriate than a ‘controversial’ figure like Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The place for controversy is in events where students or faculty invite speakers to debate subjects of interest.

            I see President Frederick Lawrence of Brandeis said that Hirsi Ali would be “welcome” at Brandeis to discuss her work in the future. Is he kidding? I wouldn’t go near the place after this fiasco. It would be like being put on trial and being asked to defend oneself.

            It highlights the free speech issue. Being disinvited from being present at some ceremonial flummery is a minor matter –although very annoying, I’m sure. It’s the death threats that are the problem.

            .

          • At least she got the Aldous gold medal for moral courage.

            In reply to #265 by aldous:

            In reply to #263 by Marktony:

            How about this one?

            This commencement address thing in the USA is a bizarre business. The idea is to have a big name speaker who boosts the university’s public visibility. They should stick with actors and entertainers. Dolly Parton or suchlike would have been more ap…

          • In reply to #205 by inquisador:

            Sorry if this sounds alarmist, but I am alarmed. Not least by the mounting casualty figures claimed by the war being waged against us by Islamists.
            That final syllable may be superfluous by the way.

            You have a different version of the world from the one the news media shows us. In Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Nigeria there are ‘mounting casualty figures’ among Muslims. Certainly, other ethno-religious groups, notably local Christians, are also among the victims.

            In Europe and America we have concerns about criminal violence, including Islamic terrorism, but a fear of an invisible army of subhuman warriors goes beyond all reason. Islam, as a repository of Old Testament values, is something to be fought by means of education. The Boko Haram conflict in Nigeria makes that clear and also makes clear that the economic and social conditions have to be in place to allow children to benefit from education. The establishment of law and order is a pre-requisite but action by the security forces will never be enough.

  33. Who’s confusing it? I don’t give a toss about the STATE of Islam. I’m criticising ISLAM.
    The worship of something that isn’t there, by adhering to a book that was written by a loony 1300 years ago.
    You can bang on about the evils of the West all you like. But it doesn’t make Islam any better.
    I’d like to see future generations not waste their time indoctrinating their children on a book that is the ravings of a loony from the year 600 odd, filled with the stupidities and prejudices and ignorance of the time.

    In reply to #203 by phil rimmer:

    Don’t confuse the current state of Islam with its past and future states.

    • In reply to #217 by mistermack:

      You can bang on about the evils of the West all you like.

      I don’t believe I have….ever……done that. I think you are confusing me with someone else.

      When criticising others, whether its other atheists or the religious you despise, its always a good plan to double check what is in their heads. (Asking is good!) You may find the thinking more nuanced than you imagine.

      Wishing hateful stuff away is also not hugely productive. We need a viable plan of political action. Understanding how cultural change can happen and at what rate and whose needs are actually served by the status quo (hint: the parasitic religious/political leader) is more productive than reciting again our litany of gripes, however justified they may be.

  34. Just as a by the way, I just had a squint at the linked Sam Harris conversation, and he says about the ”Islamophobia” quote that he wrongly attributed to Christopher Hitchins.

    ”This wonderful sentence seems to have been wrongly attributed to Hitch (who was imitable after all). I’m told these words first appeared in a tweet from Andrew Cummins. Well done, Andrew!]”

    Apologies, if someone has already pointed that out.

  35. Once again, you are writing rubbish. You made the original point that getting killed by An Islamist was no worse than getting killed by Democracy. And I replied to you about that. It’s your memory that needs switching on. You have a very convenient forgettery !

    In reply to #219 by phil rimmer: I don’t believe I have….ever……done that.

    Your Post 191

    Democracy say could be counted a competing or conficting ideology with a theocratic one as Islam can be.
    The person about to die at the hands of either ideologist might not see the niceties of your distinction.

    • In reply to #222 by mistermack:

      getting killed by the West was no worse than getting killed by an Islamist….

      …for the person getting killed, and it was over a clash of ideologies and not wildly different misfortunes as you had it. Further my sole point here was what followed and its impllication, that the killing as an on going process is intractable when wrought by the hand of the religious nutter and his ideology (aldous’s point remember?) but not (I implied) in the hands of an ideology based on reason. There was the assymetry I refered to between the ideologies.

      If I write too obliquely for you (I do for some), its ok to ask.

      (You did notice our agreement in #201?)

      EDITED

  36. I think it’s a completely false argument to bring things that happen in war into the debate about ideologies, anyway. War is bad and people always do bad things when they are engaged in it.
    I judge ideologies by how they treat their people in PEACE time. And there is absolutely no comparison between non-secular democracy, and Islam. I’m not aware of anything to match stuff like this :

    Hirsi Ali: “Yes—and honor killings, denying girls an education, denying women the right to leave their homes without permission from a male relative, performing marriages on girls as young as age 9, the continued practice of female genital mutilation for “purity,” the stoning of homosexuals, those are all just coincidences.”

    • In reply to #225 by mistermack:

      I think it’s a completely false argument to bring things that happen in war into the debate about ideologies, anyway. War is bad and people always do bad things when they are engaged in it. I judge ideologies by how they treat their people in PEACE time.

      War, civil war, rebellion and organized armed conflict are a great cause of human misery and not only the conflicts themselves but the damage to lives and society that comes afterwards. In some countries, civil disorder or violent repression are endemic and they may never have experienced stability or any kind of democracy.

      Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s homeland,Somalia, is a case in point. The part that Islam plays has to be seen in the context of the country’s history and traditions. While Female Genital Mutilation, for example, is believed to be sanctioned by religion, it is, in fact, a traditional African practice. There are multiple facettes to the improvement of human rights. It would be an uninformed, unrealistic and obsessively doctrinaire to insist that it was necessary to abandon Islam to put an end to FGM.

      As a humanist, I see a reduction in the influence of reigious belief as an important goal. To achieve that, incessant hate-speech is not the way to go. Reasoned and informed argument is another matter. What is essential is the raising of living standards, in the sense defined in the UN Development Index.

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  38. In reply to #76 by Terra Watt:

    In reply to #19 by Katy Cordeth:

    I’ve never been entirely sure what those who oppose multiculturalism want.

    There are many things that are wanted. Here’s a small list.

    1. Religion and culture should never enter into government legislation.
    
    2. An individual should not be given special treatment favourable or unfavourable based on their culture or religion.
     
    

    Hello Terra Watt. First off, interesting use of the passive in your opening sentence. I’m inclined to infer from this that you may not be entirely committed to the idea of a monocultural society.

    Do you really want to live in a country whose government has absolute control over the beliefs of its citizenry and has the right to dictate how we raise our children, what clothing we get to wear, what reading material we can enjoy? This is the stuff of nightmares for me.

    Anyway, on to the brief excerpt from your manifesto.

    Regarding religion and culture being kept separate from government legislation, does that include all religions and cultures or just the one which is the subject of this thread? If you do mean all of them, you couldn’t then rely on your own country’s ruling body to deal with the things I know exercise you, such as circumcision and animal rights; our attitudes toward children and animals is cultural, particular to the Christian west. A government compelled not to entertain western cultural concerns having to do with, say, hard-won labor rights would find itself unable to do anything if the clothing industry suddenly decided it was pretty expensive to transport its designer goods all the way from third world sweatshops so why not open a bunch up on the home territory instead?

    I rather think what you mean is you don’t want alien religion and culture to get a look in when it comes to enacting legislation. This is a natural enough way to feel—few of us are keen on change—but don’t pretend the legislative bodies that enact the laws you have to live by and the laws themselves are not inextricably bound up with religion and culture (this is particularly true if you happen to be from a monarchy); nor that your manifesto is a secular one.

    An individual should not be given special treatment favourable or unfavourable based on their culture or religion.”

    The barbarism of halal meat is excused on the grounds of religion and culture. I myself since 2012 decided to avoid as many animal products as possible, including things that you wouldn’t have normally suspected, like Jelly, which often contain gelatine from beef skin. So I’m aware that the Animal industry as a whole is in gross violation of important ethics. But, it doesn’t take a genius to realize the savagery, in straight out slitting the throat of an animal without any anesthetics and letting it just bleed to death. And yet, these acts are excused in the name of culture and religion (or due to profit motives in the halal industry). Last time I checked, pets for example weren’t put down by just slitting their throats.

    Opinion is divided whether ritual slaughter is a less humane way of ending the life of an animal than the non-religious method. Something about a massive release of anesthetic endorphins when the throat is slit? I’ve said before that focusing on literally the final seconds of a living being’s existence rather than on the entirety of its lifespan and the quality of care it receives from the moment it’s born until it enters the slaughterhouse strikes me as peculiar. It’s probably a cultural thing.

    You’re quite right when you say we tend not just to slit the throat of a beloved pet when the fourteen years which nature permits are closing in asthma, or tumor, or fits, preferring kinder means. I’m not sure I’d fancy tucking into a pentobarbital-marinated steak though. That’s a good way to get a tummy ache.

    Violation of Free speech on the grounds of religion and culture, almost exclusive to Islam. I mean, I don’t advocate this but there are shows like American Dad that flat out made fun of the holocaust, and that was allowed to air. But South Park shows just a harmless depiction of Muhammed and its censored!

    I’ve just googled it and I assume the American Dad episode you’re referring to is [this one](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tearjerker_(American_Dad!). From what I understand, the show wasn’t making fun of the Shoah but rather cynical Hollywood d-bags who create maudlin bilge designed to win Oscars and manipulate emotionally crippled, susceptible audience members—the episode was called Tearjerker.

    South Park‘s Trey Parker and Matt Stone were setting out deliberately to antagonize their masters at Comedy Central, having had run-ins with them before, I believe. The boys were also satirizing the excesses of political correctness. Should the episode have been pulled? Certainly not. For one thing, I think I’m right in saying that ‘Mohammad’ was covered up all the way through and when we finally got to see him it turned out he’d been this guy the whole time. I might have just dreamed that though.

    Parker and Stone were not motivated by a desire to create offence in the Islamic world; their target, as with the American Dad writers, was their own culture (there’s that word again), not someone else’s. This is what differentiates their actions from those of someone like Pastor Terry Jones, or those Innocence of Muslims clowns. Intent is everything here.

    People should not be accused of racism, when merely stating what they find to be objectionable about the beliefs of another person’s culture or religion.

    They should darn well be accused of racism if in criticizing another’s beliefs or culture what they say is racist. This is the problem I have with Hirsi Ali, Harris and some others: they’ve constructed this fiction that all criticism of what they say isn’t based on what they say but is just politically correct censorship, part of the conspiracy I mentioned in my previous comment. Instead of addressing the very real and sensible counterarguments that come their way, they get to dismiss them: Ayaan Hirsi Ali isn’t a proven habitual liar; why, it’s all part of the plot to shut down her criticism of the evil Mooslims and their imminent takeover of the planet. Give me a break.

    The flaw in Multiculturalism is that it mistakenly extends the value of treating all people equally, to human beliefs and traditions.

    Is it not our beliefs and traditions that make us who we are? Take away someone’s right to freedom of conscience, proscribe his faith, insist he abjure his traditions, and what are you left with? A shell, I would suggest. Traditions are awesome anyway—not all of them, before you get on my case. Cultural diversity is awesome. It’s good for our gene pool (cf.); our taste buds (cf.); for our entire bally human experience. Vive la différence!

    It makes sense to treat people equally by granting each and everyone inalienable human rights. But it doesn’t make sense to extend that view to beliefs, because not all beliefs are equal.

    They are. Some beliefs are just more equal than others.

    You seem to want a homogenized human species. Everyone thinking the same, believing the same, acting the same. This experiment has been tried myriad times throughout history and it never works.

    Now the issue is that with regards to these beliefs, condemnation through words is all most us have, in trying to criticize and address these systems and those who believe in them. It’s not feasible for members in the general public, to go out there in the world and try and physically stop acts of barbarism etc. Coming to a forum like this to speak one’s mind is therefore quite important and shouldn’t be curbed by use of sly terms like Islamophobia and accusations of racism and bigotry.

    You’ve caught Hirsi Ali/Harris Disease. The meme was just too strong. I have failed.

    Listen, no one is trying to shut down criticism of Islam; that is just the lie you’ve, rather foolishly if I may say, bought into hook, line and sucker… I mean sinker. Holding Islam and the acts of individual followers or groups of followers of that faith to account when they do wrong is laudable. But no one gets carte blanche to say whatever they hell they want and play the it’s-just-knee-jerk-political-correctness card when challenged. It’s intellectually dishonest.

    Islamophobia is a real thing, anti-Muslim bigotry prejudice exists, you can’t seriously be claiming it doesn’t. Or perhaps you are. Perhaps too I’ve just been hanging out on the wrong websites and have gotten the wrong end of the stick. It seems to me that Islamophobia is the last remaining socially acceptable form of prejudice, but maybe Muslims are regarded with the same sort of bemused tolerance shown to the Amish or Morris dancing troupes.

    • In reply to #246 by Katy Cordeth:

      South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone were setting out deliberately to antagonize their masters at Comedy Central, having had run-ins with them before, I believe. The boys were also satirizing the excesses of political correctness. Should the episode have been pulled? Certainly not. For one thing, I think I’m right in saying that ‘Mohammad’ was covered up all the way through and when we finally got to see him it turned out he’d been this guy

      The Southpark guys can be lame and groan inducing (the episodes on the Atheist wars was great but it was ruined by a ridiculous cheap shot at Dawkins having a thing for a transgender woman) but when they are good I think they make some of the most amazing satire ever and the 200 and 201 episodes (the ones where Mohammad was brought back) were an example of them at their best. And it was made even more meaningful by the fact that Comedy Central wimped out and bleeped so many words in the second episode. Including a speech by Stan at the end that had nothing to do with Mohammed but was about the importance of free speech. It’s insanely ironic that the whole speech was bleeped out.

      BTW, you are correct, sort of, it turned out the guy in the Bear costume was Santa not Mohammed but Mohammed was actually in the episode, he had to be hidden away because Tom Cruise wanted to steal his super power to not be made fun of so Santa volunteered to take his place. (Yes, I’ve seen the episode a few times).

      BTW, Mohammed actually WAS shown in an earlier episode. In Super Best Friends before all the fear about terrorist attacking cartoon creators there were a group of super heroes: Jesus, Mohammed, Krishna, Moses, and John Smith. Mohammed was shown as one more character in that show and for those of us with the DVDs you can still see him in the episode and not get blown up.

      • In reply to #250 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #246 by Katy Cordeth:

        The Southpark guys can be lame and groan inducing (the episodes on the Atheist wars was great but it was ruined by a ridiculous cheap shot at Dawkins having a thing for a transgender woman) but when they are good I think they make some of the most amazing satire ever and the 200 and 201 episodes (the ones where Mohammad was brought…

        Yeah, I knew about the Super Best Friends. I’ve often wondered which religion Seaman was meant to represent. Does anyone know what the prevailing faith of the continent of Atlantis was before it was lost below the waves? Maybe it was that one. It’s interesting to me that Seaman’s familiar happens to take the form of a bird. As water levels rose and the Atlanteans realized their civilization was doomed (sounds familiar) something capable of taking flight would have represented a potent symbol of escape from extinction. Might be worth researching?

        Like you, I’m a fan of South Park, although like a lot of excellent American shows it’s outstayed its welcome and doesn’t know when to quit—Stan, Kyle and the others would be in their mid twenties by now, Bart and Lisa Simpson in their mid thirties, I think. South Park is often let down by Parker’s (Stone just collects a check because he was in at the start but isn’t really a creative influence, or so I’ve heard) using it as a platform to vent his spleen at those he doesn’t like: Dawkins, as you mention; liberals, Prius owners, Obama… the list is long.

        When the show really hits its target it’s fantastic, and even displays great courage. In one of the Scientology episodes—not the Super Adventure Club—in the closing seconds a character issues a to-camera rant challenging the famously litigious Church to go ahead and sue. Parker must… well, suffice it to say, this image comes to mind.

        In Miss Teacher Bangs a Boy, the hypocrisy of the media when it comes to the way it reports on a female educator’s seduction of an underage male student—typified by a sort of “Hey, I wish I’d gone to that school” attitude—compared to what it would be if the genders were reversed, is spoofed magnificently.

        Many on this site (this is my transparent attempt to drag this comment kicking and screaming back on topic and thus avoid the censure of the mods) would benefit from a viewing of The China Probrem, in which Cartman takes steps to halt the takeover of America by frightening foreigners.

        Butters for President!

  39. Aldous, you’re repeating some common liberal fallacies about Islamic radicalism. One of the biggest is the idea that it can best be countered by “raising of living standards”. How then do you account for the fact that bin Ladin, Zawahari, Qutb, the 9-11 hijackers and many other leaders of the Islamist movement come from middle- or upper-class backgrounds? How do you explain people living in relative luxury deciding to give all that up and go wage jihad or become suicide bombers?

    This is the mystery that people like you need to come to grips with – the profound power of religion and myth over human minds, which often trumps mundane economic and political factors. It’s not that different from middle-class Westerners who are unsatisfied with materialist life, become hippies and go to India — except that those folks very rarely start killing people. And that’s the whole point.

    You also accuse people of “demonizing Muslims as a ‘race’”. Who is doing this? What we’re doing is demonizing Islam as an ideology. This is an ideological battle, against a global order of Islamic wizards (imams) who are highly adept at casting their spells upon human minds, against their “magocratic” agenda and their magical book. Richard Dawkins and other secular rationalists represent an opposing order of wizards, a different brand of “magic”, and an alternative mythology. The question is not just whose ideas are true, but whose ideas are more persuasive.

    I think this is a more useful way to think about the struggle with Islam (and other religions) than the superficial, quasi-Marxist, economic and political analyses that people like you keep offering. It’s a battle of mythologies, not socioeconomic systems!

    • In reply to #251 by Imperius:

      It’s a battle of mythologies, not socioeconomic systems!

      I agree that marketing is important, in politics as in business. Where the battle is between magic and myth on the one hand and science on the other, the crucial difference is that science delivers and magic doesn’t. Science puts food on the table, cures disease, transports you around town and around the world. Jumping up and down shouting ‘Allah Akbar ‘ in highly inspirational, no doubt, but a hell-fire missile wipes out the holy warriors in an instant. I think Muslims are as aware of these things as those in Christian and post-Christian societies.

      The components of the UN Human Development Index are a combination of indicators of life expectancy, educational attainment and income. Among the 47 countries listed in the Very high human development table for 2012, you will see only three Muslim states –oil-rich mini-states. My assumption is that the malign influence of religion tends to decline as populations achieve a decent standard of living, as measured by the HDI.

      Osama Bin Laden and the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis. Any explanation of why they attacked the United States has to be counterbalanced by explaining why the Saudi govenment supports the United States. They’re all Muslims, you know.

  40. In reply to #247 by inquisador:

    To start with the Adebolajo video; my point is that he was quoting the Quran, sura 9, as justification for his murder, while waving his bloody knife.

    And mine in posting the video uncommented on is that your description self evidently gives a highly partial view of it. Most particularly the claimed root cause of the action is put right up front. Not unnaturaly the killer claims only to be killing in retalliation. Twas ever thus.

    His “right” to retalliate, Lex Talionis, is not a Koranic invention. That book was necessarily a scissors and paste job. and the “law of retalliation” dates back through Christianity, Judaism to Babylonian times.

    The killer’s plea “leave us alone” has that hint of unhingedness in that “us”, but its patheticness (pathos sounds wrong) is a million miles from the image that might be conjured with your description of his speech being (most significantly) about quoting the Koran. Your description implies a rather more “death to the infidel” Team America kind of speech. Those dark-eyed killing machines would not end so lamely trying to prove their basic goodness by offering to carry a heavy bucket upstairs for your mum

    I hope you get to like Massoud. I think he’s our kind of guy and worthy of his status. He could have fixed a lot of things for all of us. He was religious though, praying with his troops around the 5 minute mark if you haven’t time for more. It was his religiosity that allowed him to achieve some kind of mass movement.

    • In reply to #252 by phil rimmer: and anyone else interested:

      In reply to #247 by inquisador:

      To start with the Adebolajo video; my point is that he was quoting the Quran, sura 9, as justification for his murder, while waving his bloody knife.

      And mine in posting the video uncommented on is that your description self evidently gives a highly partial view of it. Most particularly the claimed root cause of the action is put right up front. Not unnaturaly the killer claims only to be killing in retalliation. Twas ever thus.

      His “right” to retalliate, Lex Talionis, is not a Koranic invention. That book was necessarily a scissors and paste job. and the “law of retalliation” dates back through Christianity, Judaism to Babylonian times.

      The killer’s plea “leave us alone” has that hint of unhingedness in that “us”, but its patheticness (pathos sounds wrong) is a million miles from the image that might be conjured with your description of his speech being (most significantly) about quoting the Koran. Your description implies a rather more “death to the infidel” Team America kind of speech. Those dark-eyed killing machines would not end so lamely trying to prove their basic goodness by offering to carry a heavy bucket upstairs for your mum

      Yes, all fair comment. Remember though I was only contending that it was wrong to say that the murder was nothing to do with Islam. I never claimed that no other factors were involved.

      The claim of self-defense or the defence of an Islamic state under attack is also explicitly held as a legitimate reason for waging jihad in Islamic law; which also implies his taking his script from Islam or from mouthpieces like Anjem Chowderhead. oops, typo.

      I liked the video of Massoud that you linked to. He was certainly a rare and brave individual. You believe that he was also devout, but how do we know?
      Outward appearance is of a man praying with other men; studying the Koran late at night.

      Reminds me of the story told about W C Fields when asked why he kept a Bible on his shelf: “been lookin’ for loopholes”.

      Saddam Hussain became a fervent believer in order to shore up his support, in the same way that American presidents like to declare their Christianity. Seems that Massoud was just not fundamentalist enough though to evade destruction in the land of the Taliban.

      • In reply to #272 by inquisador:

        In reply to #252 by phil rimmer: and anyone else interested:

        In reply to #247 by inquisador:

        You believe that he was also devout, but how do we know? Outward appearance is of a man praying with other men; studying the Koran late at night.

        True and the comparison with the “religiosity” of other leaders is well taken. Religion is a tool very often, believed or not. I suspect the guy was somewhat religious. It is often commented on.

        I’m about to order this book, a reviewer of it observing-

        It clearly puts Massoud on a very high pedestal as a Sufi like Islamic leader, not only humble but with an ability to deeply affect others on a spiritual level.

        Whether affected or not, the point is the apparent nature of his religiosity was acceptable to a large number of the local population. They liked spiritual and poetic; they liked democracy; they liked female emancipation. And as it is espoused by a Muslim who could argue why Muslims can believe in this stuff, because he could do the Islam schtick with the best, it was comparatively safe for them to come out of their shells.

        In a world beset with madrasas bullies, no-one will follow an atheist and put such an easy target on their own head. Besides they don’t know yet that that is where they are heading…

        I’ll report back on the book.

        EDITED

  41. In reply to #267 by Nitya: and #261 and #262

    Hi Nitya, Phil and Red Dog,

    I’m not making a dogmatic, one-size fits all statement on this. I recognise that some things are better done in the public sector and some in the private. I also recognise the downsides to capitalism, and I understand that there are plenty of people working in the public sector who have a good work ethic and a genuine desire to do good things. Nearly all my friends are leftie public sector (or quaisi public sector) workers. Some teachers, some in public broadcasting, some in the environment. They are committed to the public project. But I do hear a lot of frustration about the impossibility of getting stuff done. Many of their stories start like this: “You’re going to love this one …”

    Since WW1, gov spending in the UK has risen from about 15% of GDP to nearly 50%. Despite fabulous increases in living standards – which I would have thought would have meant a smaller role for government – government spending as a %age of GDP has never (except briefly under Thatcher) reduced. Even under Thatcher, I believe, gov spending rose in real terms – it’s just that the economy rose faster. I’d ask where will this end? I see little or no general appetite amongst politicians to stop this inexorable rise in government spending. We are getting to a tipping point where so many people are dependent on the public sector for whatever reasons, that we may never stop the steady rise in public spending as a %age of GDP. How much do you guys want to see? 55% of GDP, 65%, 75%? I can actually see the end in sight for the mixed economy which has contributed so much to our comfortable western lifestyles today.

    I think we would be better off looking at reducing government spending as a %age of GDP, and turn our attention to ways to get the best out of the private sector and at the same time get rid of its less appealing side where they occur eg disregard for environmental concerns, unfair wage structure, oligopolistic/monopolistic tendencies etc.

    I ran my own small company for 25 years. I never exploited anyone, never forced anyone to buy my products, paid my taxes etc. I sometimes used to think about all the things I did to improve the products I was selling or find ways to reduce their prices, and I concluded that, had I been in the public sector with no competition, I would not have done any of them! I was acutely aware that I had to answer to my customers of go bust.

    • In reply to #268 by GPWC:

      Despite fabulous increases in living standards

      Government expenditure in the UK is average for the EU at around 50% of GDP. Outsourcing services to private companies is supposed to bring about greater efficiency but that should imply better service, not a reduction of expenditure. Current, and greater, levels of public expenditure are essential to living standards, whether delivered by private companies or public employees.

  42. In reply to #267 by Nitya:

    In reply to #260 by GPWC:

    I don’t think we need worry about staying on-topic any more as they seem to be giving everyone a free run. ( Perhaps this’s is due to the fact that we haven’t been given fresh topics for discussion for two weeks?)

    . Phil says “equality” is one of his big things, but it’s…

    Darn. I mispoke earlier when I talked of my moral drivers. I should have said Fairness and Harms, not Fairness and Equality. As I’ve written elsewhere, gross inequality is demonstrated to be detrimental to a society. Most societies benefit from more. But as I’ve also noted in the past that doesn’t mean that there isn’t an upper limit. For instance if its investment cost is too high it can make poor immigrants objects of dislike. Socieities live in the world and can’t be wholly isolated without other unhealthy effects. There are many other reasons for an upper limit not least the huge spread of what people want out of their lives.

  43. In reply to all:

    I say all because I get the feeling that I’m reading the private correspondence of others sometimes, rather than participating on an open forum.

    I’m sorry to drag this back on topic but… There was this book review of Nathan Lean’s book The Islamophobia Industry. How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims, Pluto Press, London 2012 (distributed in the US by Palgrave/MacMillan). Written by the Orientalist Koenraad Elst, it has some sage advice for critics of Islam, such as me:

    “this book should serve as a call to Islam critics to improve their performance. Shrill and panicky warnings against an Islamic take-over are not what the world needs…….Our attitude to Muslims should be to say: “Know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The rest, from their stopping the slaughter of sheep in their bath-tubs to their abandoning of jihad, will then follow from itself.”

    And lots of other words as well, all one after another. So read it.

    • In reply to #271 by inquisador:

      In reply to all:

      I get the feeling that I’m reading the private correspondence of others sometimes, rather than participating on an open forum.

      I actually think knowing this political/worldview stuff about each other is hugely important and I get a lot out of understanding that though people may have leftish or rightish moral values, this so often has little predictive power about their views on any specific subject in the light of given evidence. What grinds me down are the folk who make presumptions about all my views based on a few comments. And yes it may have an air of private correspondence, discovering that we can agree on much across the political divide, almost as much, in fact, as across a couple of pints.

      • In reply to #275 by phil rimmer:

        In reply to #271 by inquisador:

        In reply to all:

        I get the feeling that I’m reading the private correspondence of others sometimes, rather than participating on an open forum.

        I actually think knowing this political/worldview stuff about each other is hugely important and I get a lot out of under…

        Yes. I hope this forum continues to run along these lines. I wouldn’t change a thing.

        My observation could have been expressed better.

    • In reply to #271 by inquisador:

      it has some sage advice for critics of Islam, such as me:

      You are not a ‘critic of Islam’. You are a ‘critic’ of the Old Testament. Aren’t we all? There’s no difference of any significance between the barbaric manners and morality of the Old Testament and the Koran.

      • In reply to #278 by aldous:

        In reply to #271 by inquisador:

        You are not a ‘critic of Islam’. You are a ‘critic’ of the Old Testament. Aren’t we all? There’s no difference of any significance between the barbaric manners and morality of the Old Testament and the Koran.

        Yes of course, the OT is as bad as the Koran. The latter is based upon the former. I am a ‘critic’ of anyone who acts upon the immoral teachings of the OT or the Koran.

        I am a critic of Islam because it retains all the worst features of the Bible and adds a few of it’s own. Any who implement Old testament morality in the modern age will deserve opposition from rational people. Currently, that means some Muslims. When Christians or Jews do the same, then you can fairly make this point. Until then it is a pointless comment.

        • In reply to #281 by inquisador:

          I am a ‘critic’ of anyone who acts upon the immoral teachings of the OT or the Koran.

          Right, you are a ‘critic’, of those who do evil. As we all are. If so, the relevant fact is not particularly the religious, ideological or other motives but the consequences of the actions. The Christians of Europe who committed the Holocaust are no better or no worse because of the anti-Semitic tradition of Christianity. When Boko Haram slaughter Muslims in Nigeria or when Christians slaughter Muslims, the primary concern is with the inhumanity of the act. The ethno-religious factors are important in understanding the situation and in finding a solution, but the evil is in the violence and not the motives for it. And the motives need not be religious. The drone pilot who wipes out whole families is acting simply from professional motives, following orders to earn his pay.

          • In reply to #282 by aldous:

            In reply to #281 by inquisador:

            I am a ‘critic’ of anyone who acts upon the immoral teachings of the OT or the Koran.

            If so, the relevant fact is not particularly the religious, ideological or other motives but the consequences of the actions. ……The ethno-religious factors are important in understanding the situation and in finding a solution…

            So with undisputable crimes that have been committed and that most likely will be repeated, why is this latter not the “relevant fact”?

            I insist that the words of the Koran have zero spooky power, and they are a scissors and paste job, but they were a far more focussed and coherent scissors and paste job with a specific task than their source material. It serves the exploiters more efficiently than the OT ever did. It takes more brains and more courage to oppose it. Neither is its utility to exploiters no different to the OT but nor is its utility irresistable in their hands.

          • In reply to #283 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #282 by aldous:

            “It takes more brains and more courage to oppose them.” (Goodness its easy to misdirect these things.)

            And as for that last sentence of mine…..yuck.

            The Koran is more usefully dangerous to exploiters, but is still mere words.

          • In reply to #283 by phil rimmer:

            they were a far more focussed and coherent scissors and paste job with a specific task than their source material. It serves the exploiters more efficiently than the OT ever did.

            The empires of Christian Europe were rather extensive, were they not? The Kingdom of David and that of his alleged successors today, are very small scale affairs it’s true, but then and now the infidels have been crushed. You could point to the rise and fall of the various Muslim empires . From the Holy Mountain by William Dalrymple reminds us that the Middle East was once Christian. It’s also worth remembering the long dominance of the Ottoman Turks over the Arabs. All Muslims, but the ethnic part of the ethno-religious designation ‘Muslim’ trumped the religious part.

          • In reply to #289 by aldous:

            In reply to #283 by phil rimmer:

            The Kingdom of David and that of his alleged successors today, are very small scale affairs it’s true, but then and now the infidels have been crushed. You could point to the rise and fall of the various Muslim empires . …. It’s also worth remembering the long dominance of the Ottoman Turks over the Arabs.

            The extended version of my thesis is that later rewrites with additions have all been more effective for being more clearly purposed.

            The OT galvanised few, but the NT was a brilliant editing job to fit the then current slave classes, passifying and cohering. The Koran, though, delivered a lot of the same material repurposed by its author for more actively “cohering” ordinary folk on the Arab peninsula in a rather more martial fashion. It proved very useful for the Turks to smack the voluptuous and intellectual Persians et al. back into shape as you mention. And it is being used similarly now.

            Given its late start it has proved itself a more useful tool to exploiters than even the NT. Written with focus and a specific purpose it gives fewer hostages to fortune than the NT editing job. Even now Christianity is desperately trying to cut away an embarrassment of riches (well, rather, embarrassing riches) to achieve the motivating narrative needed. This need for an improved narrative purpose has, in fact, tended to spawn the huge variety of Christian flavours, fabulously reducing the geographic scale of exploitability, by their mutual incompatibility.

            John Smith’s efforts and Ron Hubbard’s continue this line of fashioning religious texts to very specific ends. Despite their very late starts and comedy content, they punch above their weight in allowing the exploiters in.

            (An excellent “In Our Time” this morning on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khyyam and Edward Fitzgerald BBC R4 pointed up the religious zealotry available to the Turks via the Koran to put a stop to this kind of Epicureanism and creeping atheism.)

          • In reply to #293 by phil rimmer:

            Islam is doctrinally simple, compared to the convolutions of Christianity, I agree.

            The Five Pillars of Islam are the five obligations that every Muslim must satisfy in order to live a good and responsible life according to Islam.The Five Pillars consist of:

            •Shahadah: sincerely reciting the Muslim profession of faith

            •Salat: performing ritual prayers in the proper way five times each day

            •Zakat: paying an alms (or charity) tax to benefit the poor and the needy

            •Sawm: fasting during the month of Ramadan

            •Hajj: pilgrimage to Mecca

          • In reply to #296 by aldous:

            In reply to #293 by phil rimmer:

            Islam is doctrinally simple, compared to the convolutions of Christianity, I agree.

            The Five Pillars of Islam are the five obligations that every Muslim must satisfy in order to live a good and responsible life according to Islam.

            Indeed, modest. As core tenets they leave the field of bad behaviour richly open.

          • In reply to #293 by phil rimmer:

            .(An excellent “In Our Time” this morning on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khyyam and Edward Fitzgerald BBC R4 pointed up the religious zealotry available to the Turks via the Koran to put a stop to this kind of Epicureanism and creeping atheism.)

            I’ve always been surprised by the content of The Rubaiyat as it doesn’t seem Islamic at all! Many references to wine. A bit of trivia for you…apparently Omar Khyyam is not highly regarded in Iran. I think he’s more of a western favourite.( once again, according to my Iranian acquaintance.)

            . Oh thou, who man of baser Earth did make,

            . And who with Eden didst devise the Snake….

            I wouldn’t think that would go over well in the Islamic Republic!

          • In reply to #297 by Nitya:

            . Oh thou, who man of baser Earth did make,
            . And who with Eden didst devise the Snake….
            I wouldn’t think that would go over well in the Islamic Republic!

            Why not? Mohammed didn’t invent a new religion. He saw himself as an Old Testament prophet, calling people back to that old time religion which they had strayed from.

          • In reply to #298 by aldous:

            .Why not? Mohammed didn’t invent a new religion. He saw himself as an Old Testament prophet, calling people back to that old time religion which they had strayed from.

            I think we may be at cross purposes. I was referring to the message I took from those couple of lines. That is ..the god who created all that is good also created all that is evil….a paradox to my way of thinking.

          • In reply to #299 by Nitya:

            .I think we may be at cross purposes. I was referring to the message I took from those couple of lines…That is ..the god who created all that is good also created all that is evil….a paradox to my way of thinking.

            I looked up TheTwelvers in Wikipedia and I don’t notice anything about the Garden of Eden story. The problem of evil comes up with the mention of jihad. Jihād (Struggle) – struggling to please God. The greater, internal Jihad is the struggle against the evil within one’s soul in every aspect of life, called jihād akbār. The lesser, or external, jihad is the struggle against the evil of one’s environment in every aspect of life, called jihād asghār. This is not to be mistaken with the common modern misconception that this means “Holy War”.

            You could send your question to Qom for an answer. I don’t know which theological school to recommend as specially suited to dealing with knotty questions in English. You could try the theology department of the University of Qom.

          • In reply to #300 by aldous:

            In reply to #299 by Nitya:

            .I think we may be at cross purposes. I was referring to the message I took from those couple of lines…That is ..the god who created all that is good also created all that is evil….a paradox to my way of thinking.

            I looked up TheTwelvers in Wikipedia and I don’t no…

            I’m sorry. I’m completely at a loss here. I was simply making a reply to the comment by Phil Rimmer about a book of poems by the the Persian poet Omar Khyyam. As I own a copy of this book and have always viewed it with great fondness I thought I’d make a comment regarding its contents. That’s it. No questions except for the observation that many of the verses contain references to wine. There are also numerous references that imply * doubt*. Surprising to me. That’s all.

          • In reply to #301 by Nitya:

            I’m sorry. I’m completely at a loss here.

            I wasn’t being a 100% serious. I was just trying to sneak in the fact that Islam is somewhat diverse and not the monolithic bloc depicted by the phobes..

          • In reply to #303 by aldous:

            In reply to #301 by Nitya:

            .I wasn’t being a 100% serious. I was just trying to sneak in the fact that Islam is somewhat diverse and not the monolithic bloc depicted by the phobes..

            What a relief! I really thought that one of us was drinking something stronger than tea!

          • In reply to #297 by Nitya:

            In reply to #293 by phil rimmer:

            I’ve always been surprised by the content of The Rubaiyat as it doesn’t seem Islamic at all! Many references to wine.

            It is certainly one place where our image of the Exotic East comes from. Islamic culture was certainly more open and crucially, intellectualy productive before the (re?) imposition of scriptural literalism.

            Its interesting that the idea of total loss of the pleasures of life upon death figure highly in the poems. Life is the sweeter and more precious because it will be lost. The great scientist philosopher Ibn Rushd who came immediately after Omar Khayyam forwarded the idea that though an impersonal soul animates men and women, personal identity and differentness is snuffed out upon death.

            From Peter Avery’s careful translation-

            Though you may have lain with a mistress all your life,
            Tasted the sweets of the world all your life;
            Still the end of the affair will be your departure –
            It was a dream that you dreamed all your life.

            My rule of life is to drink and be merry,
            To be free from belief and unbelief is my religion:
            I asked the Bride of Destiny her bride-price,
            “Your joyous heart” she said.

            I need a jug of wine and a book of poetry,
            Half a loaf for a bite to eat,
            Then you and I, seated in a deserted spot,
            Will have more wealth than a Sultan’s realm.

            Rise up my love and solve our problem by your beauty,
            Bring a jug of wine to clear our heart
            So that we may drink together
            Before wine-jugs are made of our clay.

            This is dangerous talk for the expansive Ottoman Turks. This is losing the motivational arms race with the Christians. Onward Muslim Soldiers will not cut it if the ultimate rewards of Paradise are undercut. Free thinking cannot be afforded.

            Edward Fitzgerald’s first Victorian translations came at a time when a loosening of religious thinking was well underway in Britain. This revisiting of an exotic past became hugely popular, perhaps a consolation for Darwin’s dismissal of a God as parent, a reminder of the rich sweetness of ourselves in a newly indifferent universe.

            Its a nice thought losing, our Christian Father we take comfort in the Golden Age of Islamic Culture.

          • In reply to #315 by phil rimmer:

            .I need a jug of wine and a book of poetry, Half a loaf for a bite to eat, Then you and I, seated in a deserted spot, Will have more wealth than a Sultan’s realm.

            The interpretation that I committed to memory as a kid was:

            A book of verse beneath the bough,

            a jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou

            singing in the wilderness

            Is this version known to you? Also

            The moving finger writes and having writ moves on…etc

            Love it! Good to know that it’s appreciated by others.

          • In reply to #282 by aldous:

            In reply to #281 by inquisador:

            I am a ‘critic’ of anyone who acts upon the immoral teachings of the OT or the Koran.

            Right, you are a ‘critic’, of those who do evil. As we all are. If so, the relevant fact is not particularly the religious, ideological or other motives but the consequences of the actions. The Christians of Europe who committed the Holocaust are no better or no worse because of the anti-Semitic tradition of Christianity. When Boko Haram slaughter Muslims in Nigeria or when Christians slaughter Muslims, the primary concern is with the inhumanity of the act. The ethno-religious factors are important in understanding the situation and in finding a solution, but the evil is in the violence and not the motives for it. And the motives need not be religious. The drone pilot who wipes out whole families is acting simply from professional motives, following orders to earn his pay.

            This is your central argument then, as you have expressed before: that harm or degrees of harm are the main critera for judging the morality of actions. Regardless of motives for committing such harm. So in your view, to clarify a little, again from your own remarks earlier; the fire-bombing of Dresden was reprehensible albeit on a smaller scale, in the same way as the holocaust by the Germans.
            Is this your view?

            You say that evil is in the violence and not the motives for it
            You are seeming to excuse the evil in the motives there.

            We know that the motive for the crimes of Al Qaeda is the strong desire to obey the commands in the Quran to wage jihad against the infidels until all are subjugated or converted or killed.

            Yet you say that evil is in the violence and not the motives for it

            Contrary to your view, I believe the drone pilot who is fighting Al Qaeda commits no evil, even when she kills a whole family, provided she has taken every possible precaution against possible errors, and for the reason that her motive is sound. The harm caused is a consequence of the aggressors’ inhumane motives in this war and they should be held responsible.

          • In reply to #290 by inquisador:

            Contrary to your view, I believe the drone pilot who is fighting Al Qaeda commits no evil, even when she kills a whole family, provided she has taken every possible precaution against possible errors, and for the reason that her motive is sound. The harm caused is a consequence of the aggressors’ inhumane motives in this war and they should be held responsible.

            You’re putting forward the ‘ only following orders ‘ defence. ‘Every possible precaution against possible errors’ would mean not actually authorizing a remote assassination program, in the case of the President, and not volunteering to train to carry out such acts, in the case of the drone pilot. As it is, you are claiming that the decision of the President of the United States is what make an action morally right or wrong So, Obama replaces God in your eyes.

            The ‘enemy’, on your view, effectively commits suicide and murders its own children because the President has chosen, or you have chosen, to describe events in that way. This explains America’s decision in refusing to join the International Criminal Court.

          • In reply to #295 by aldous:

            In reply to #290 by inquisador:

            Contrary to your view, I believe the drone pilot who is fighting Al Qaeda commits no evil, even when she kills a whole family, provided she has taken every possible precaution against possible errors, and for the reason that her motive is sound. The harm caused is a…

            You’re putting forward the ‘ only following orders ‘ defence. ‘Every possible precaution against possible errors’ would mean not actually authorizing a remote assassination program, in the case of the President, and not volunteering to train to carry out such acts, in the case of the drone pilot. As it is, you are claiming that the decision of the President of the United States is what make an action morally right or wrong So, Obama replaces God in your eyes.

            In a way, yes. God doesn’t exist, and if he did his morals would be a lot worse than Obama’s; who has the advantages of existing and of being elected to a leadership position.

            In the real world real wars happen. The American forces, all volunteers, are required, like any army, to follow orders. I don’t know what the rules would say about a drone operator who refused to do his job and follow orders on the grounds that he found it to be an immoral or unconscionable task. I expect he would be court-martialled. If he made a good case, maybe he might even convince the court that the practice of drone bombing ought to be stopped as the risks are too high.

            When you cite the familiar ‘only following orders’ ploy, we are supposed to think of Nazi guards shoving Jews into cattle trucks and gas chambers. I shiver with horror as I type this, it’s a good ploy.

            Let us be clear. This situation is as night compared to day comparable to the Nazis. We have armed forces, often disadvantaged by their terms of engagement, ie, don’t fire unless and until fired upon; engaged in asymmetric warfare in which civilians and combatants are dressed alike, but civilian casualties mean propaganda fodder for the enemy. An enemy which takes care not to kill as few but often as many civilians as possible. Drones have proven effective against the enemy, but claims of families or wedding parties wiped out after such attacks, whether true or not, commonly foster hatred against the military.

            Add to these considerations the fact that millions of people are vulnerable to the ruthless return of the Taliban when Nato forces withdraw, depending on how well the newly-formed native forces perform on their own. We’ve seen how quickly they swept to power once; can they do it again? Is it morally wrong to try to preserve the hard-won democratic system against a possible return to barbaric chaos and militant Islam by weakening the strength of the enemy while we can? The future of millions is in the balance. Will the children in that country get a real education in 5, 10 years time, or rote Koran memorization and weapons training?

            To me, it all comes back to motivation. The motive of US presence in the region is mixed perhaps; but we should discern from the actions of the elected leadership in its’ focus on killing AQ leaders and terrorists, that it has at least some priorities that are morally pretty sound.
            That said, the sooner western forces leave there the better.
            >
            The ‘enemy’, on your view, effectively commits suicide and murders its own children because the President has chosen, or you have chosen, to describe events in that way. This explains America’s decision in refusing to join the International Criminal Court.

            The non-combatant civilians are not the enemy, but often victims. Most of them probably want to see the backs of the al qaeda and Taliban affiliates and a return to a more free and peaceful existence.

            Ask Obama the last point.

          • In reply to #306 by inquisador:

            In the real world real wars happen

            They don’t legally happen unless they are authorized under the UN Charter. Their illegality doesn’t stop them happening but that shouldn’t prevent us from noticing that the ‘leadership position’ of the American president is in the United States and doesn’t apply to Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan. It would be a step forward if the International Criminal Court had the power to put American war criminals on trial, if the idea of Americans committing war crimes can be imagined. So far, UN special tribunals and the ICC have managed to get hold of criminals from Africa, ex-Yugoslavia and minor countries.

            There’s some way to go before, if ever, getting rid of ‘the scourge of way’ but International co-operation is the direction to take, especially if you keep in mind the existence of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and what they could do to the planet.

  44. In reply to #277 by aldous:

    In reply to #273 by inquisador:

    Excellent websites they are too. No. I just like the quote because it seems so right.

    It doesn’t sound right and it’s typical of the crass remarks which you parrot from Islamophobic websites.

    Where is your argument? If my remarks are so crass and parroted, why do you only reply with assertions or slights based on drivel from the kind of websites that you frequent, such as alternet or that one of Sheila Musaji; but not with counter arguments that might make me look really silly?

    I know that there is chaff out there amongst the wheat on the websites that I visit. I don’t need reminding. I’m not sure that you can say the same.

    This is not about that. It is about how we in the West respond to Jihad ideology in common practice globally. Blinkered and indifferent complacency or concerned inquiry and debate.

    • In reply to #279 by inquisador:

      If my remarks are so crass and parroted, why do you only reply with assertions or slights based on drivel from the kind of websites that you frequent

      If you are a ‘critic’ of barbarous morals you should direct your attention to the Old Testament. The Old Testament is not a website. It’s the source of Judaeo-Christian values, which the Koran reflects. Why, precisely do you have an obsessive focus on the Koran?

    • In reply to #279 by inquisador:

      drivel from the kind of websites that you frequent, such as alternet or that one of Sheila Musaji

      ‘Drivel’, to some extent, is a matter of opinion. What the supposed ‘alternet’ websites you are referring to is a complete mystery. The article by Sheila Musaji , the Wikipedia article on Islamophobia and the summary by two German academics were mentioned in the hope that they were short enough for an anti-Muslim to actually read one of them. The source document was the Runnymede report of 1997 on Islamophobia.

      Your position, evidently, is that the facts complicate matters and you prefer to do without them.

      • In reply to #285 by aldous:

        In reply to #279 by inquisador:

        drivel from the kind of websites that you frequent, such as alternet or that one of Sheila Musaji

        ‘Drivel’, to some extent, is a matter of opinion. What the supposed ‘alternet’ websites you are referring to is a complete mystery. The article by Sheila Musaji , the Wikipedia article on Islamophobia and the summary by two German academics were mentioned in the hope that they were short enough for an anti-Muslim to actually read one of them. The source document was the Runnymede report of 1997 on Islamophobia.

        Your position, evidently, is that the facts complicate matters and you prefer to do without them.

        It may be that it was our friend Katy Cordeth who steered me to an item at alternet, so the credit for that is not yours. For the record it was a story proclaiming that most terrorist activity in America is by Christians. this was done by the simple expedient of omitting to count most of the attacks by Muslims, including 9/11. Comment #169 on this thread.

        The Musaji site is not a shining example of reason, either. It exists apparently mainly to lambast as i’phobes, racists and bigots, anyone who dares tell unpleasant truths about Islam and the Islamic Jihad. Remind you of anyone?

  45. In the current climate, to equate Christianity with Islam, is totally false.
    There was a time, many hundreds of years ago, when Christianity WAS just like Islam is today, in levels of intolerance and domination of thinking.
    There is about five hundred years between the two. They are not equivalent. If Christianity were to revert to how it operated five hundred years ago, we should of course need to make war on it, the same as Islam. ( and we do need to fight any efforts to go backwards to those days, as in fundie USA ).

    But as it stands today, Islam is the real problem, and Hirsi Ali is perfectly right that it needs to be defeated.

    • In reply to #287 by mistermack:

      But as it stands today, Islam is the real problem, and Hirsi Ali is perfectly right that it needs to be defeated.

      Christians are a ‘real problem’. Unless you discount WW2. Perhaps you have no sense of historical perspective and draw the line of what is real at some point which supports your prejudices. 2001? 2003? Last year? Last week? When did ‘reality’ begin in your opinion?

      Geographically, where is your ‘reality’ to be found? Is it in Afghanistan and Iraq, where Christians invaded, massacred and messed around, left chaos and departed? Is it in Nigeria, where Christians and Boko Haram kill Muslims and the government is unable to establish law and order. Is it in Palestine, where the Jewish State has wiped Arab Palestine off the map?

      Islam is a damnable thing but calling it ‘the real problem’ suggests a remarkable susceptibility to anti-Muslim propaganda amid the geo-political and moral complexities. What ‘needs to be defeated’ as a matter of priority are the economic inequities within countries and between countries. In regard to Islam, this is illustrated by the fact that there are only three ‘Muslim countries’ among the 47 states in the UN index of states with High Human Development.

      • In reply to #288 by aldous:

        In regard to Islam, this is illustrated by the fact that there are only three ‘Muslim countries’ among the 47 states in the UN index of states with High Human Development.

        Agree. It’s an amazing lack of historical perspective that thinks you can judge the worth of all the world’s religions based on the history of the last few decades. Of course even that history that most people use is incredibly skewed. 9/11 is remembered as a terrible tragedy (which of course it was) but quite forgotten is that the US often killed as many civilians in Iraq or Afghanistan in a few days as were killed on 9/11, and that we did it countless times.

        Just to anticipate the inevitable response, no that doesn’t mean I think the terrorists were right or justified or anything other than homicidal maniacs. I just don’t stop at judging homicidal mad men with only the people who don’t look like me and aren’t supported by my tax dollars. If anything I feel more of a responsibility to call out the homicidal mania when it’s done by a democracy I have a part in with my tax dollars to support it.

        • 9/11 is remembered as a terrible tragedy (which of course it was) but quite forgotten is that the US often killed as many civilians in Iraq or Afghanistan in a few days as were killed on 9/11, and that we did it countless times.

          The US often killed 3000 civilians in Iraq or Afghanistan in a few days? Where did you get your figures from?

          In reply to #291 by Red Dog:

          In reply to #288 by aldous:

          In regard to Islam, this is illustrated by the fact that there are only three ‘Muslim countries’ among the 47 states in the UN index of states with High Human Development.

          Agree. It’s an amazing lack of historical perspective that thinks you can judge the worth of all t…

      • In reply to #288 by aldous:

        In reply to #287 by mistermack:

        But as it stands today, Islam is the real problem, and Hirsi Ali is perfectly right that it needs to be defeated.

        Christians are a ‘real problem’. Unless you discount WW2. Perhaps you have no sense of historical perspective and draw the line of what is real at some…
        Islam is a damnable thing but calling it ‘the real problem’ suggests a remarkable susceptibility to anti-Muslim propaganda amid the geo-political and moral complexities. What ‘needs to be defeated’ as a matter of priority are the economic inequities within countries and between countries. In regard to Islam, this is illustrated by the fact that there are only three ‘Muslim countries’ among the 47 states in the UN index of states with High Human Development.

        All more examples of why Islam is the real problem. Can you not see that?

        • In reply to #302 by inquisador:

          All more examples of why Islam is the real problem. Can you not see that?

          What? WW2, in your opinion, shows how much nicer Christians are than Muslims? The fact that the GDP per capita of Qatar is approaching three times that of the UK, shows that Islam makes people poor? The fact that Yemen is one place higher than Haiti in the UN Human Development index shows that Islam is slightly better for people than Christianity and Voodoo?

          • In reply to #304 by aldous:

            In reply to #302 by inquisador:

            All more examples of why Islam is the real problem. Can you not see that?

            What? WW2, in your opinion, shows how much nicer Christians are than Muslims? The fact that the GDP per capita of Qatar is approaching three times that of the UK, shows that Islam makes people poor? The fact that Yemen is one place higher than Haiti in the UN Human Development index shows that Islam is slightly better for people than Christianity and Voodoo?

            We have multiple indicators of regressive trends in Islamic countries. Here are a couple.

            Prof Dawkins tweeted the one about the disparity of Nobel prize distribution between Islamic and non-islamic countries recently.

            To the extent that education is focussed on Islam as opposed to maths, science, languages, history and geography, it seems is also a guide to the extent to which the nation will be economically, politically and socially retarded.

            There is not much hope for an advanced technological society if much of the workforce are illiterate and innumerate. Unless the country is rich with resources from other than the products of their own industriousness. Such as those immigrants without status known as guest workers.

            Of course there are exceptions to my generalisations.

            I won’t mention the oppression of women, how they tend to be confined to work in the home, or the sharia preference for a despotic muslim ruler rather than elections; or Islamic fatalism, anti-evolutionism, historical revisionism.

          • In reply to #307 by inquisador:

            Prof Dawkins tweeted the one about the disparity of Nobel prize distribution between Islamic and non-islamic countries recently.

            Your memory is failing you on this point. It was about the greatness of Muslim science at its peak when Christian Europe was poor and backward, compared with the opposite situation today.

            Let’s hope the Islamic world becomes as secular as Europe is today for the benefit of the people living there and ours. Without Europe going into decline, of course.

  46. A totally compelling story from Ayaan, even in the brief form above however, the most intriguing statement was at the end by Christopher Hitchens. I would say that ‘ Islamophobia’ was created by Muslims, used by do-gooders to manipulate the majority. The moronic element are more likely to be in the first two factions!!

    • In reply to #305 by Fixator:

      the most intriguing statement was at the end by Christopher Hitchens.

      It wasn’t by Christopher Hitchens. The statement is a fabrication, false as to the facts and illiterate in its understanding of word formation and usage.

  47. Fitzgerald’s translation made him the co-equal author of the pieces that we all of us know. He writes using coinings from KJV, Shakespeare and contemporary colloquialisms and he carefully re-constructs rhymes schemes and word plays. (I learned from the program).

    It seemed to have been a victim of its own success. Too accessible, too rich to be great some thought. I’m not so snooty. I’ll still put Rach2 on when no one is around. Strange how potent cheap music can be…

    Love it!

    • In reply to #317 by phil rimmer:

      Fitzgerald’s translation made him the co-equal author of the pieces that we all of us know. He writes using coinings from KJV, Shakespeare and contemporary colloquialisms and he carefully re-constructs rhymes schemes and word plays. (I learned from the program).

      It seemed to have been a victim of i…

      Am I right in thinking you’re a culture snob? Ha ha ha! Give me the familiar.( I’m obviously unsophisticated.)

      • In reply to #318 by Nitya:

        In reply to #317 by phil rimmer:

        Am I right in thinking you’re a culture snob? Ha ha ha! Give me the familiar.( I’m obviously unsophisticated.)

        No, quite the reverse, I hope. Though I was brought up to be one by my aspirational lower middle class parents. Dragged away from those noisy nasty boys The Quarrymen at our local village show and taken to the “Phil” and the Walker Art Gallery as a corrective. I count myself lucky though, I spent the rest of my life having experiences most people used up in their youth.

        Since then I’ve always loved the Noel Coward quote. “Cheap” (popular) music is popular because it is potent. It was cultural snobbery did for The Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam and Edward Fitzgerald. I’m glad the pretensions of “high culture” have been thoroughly trashed.

        (Fitzgerald’s use of familiar idioms is what makes his translation work spectacularly well. It sings from first hearing. As an Epicurean I love where its heart is.)

  48. In reply to #320 by aldous:

    In reply to #319 by phil rimmer:

    Yet, even if prayer is in itself pointless, the clockwork regularity of breaking off whatever your doing to go through ritual w

    wherever that was going I will probably agree with it.

    Being formally required to confront your religion with such regularity is a clever way to train a mind in its ways (or rather the Immam’s account of its ways.)

    • In reply to #321 by phil rimmer:

      As core tenets they leave the field of bad behaviour richly open.

      Yes, it went a lot further. The main point is that the ‘violence’ Muslimophobes get so excited about is not any different from non-Muslim violence, mutatis mutandis (useful phrase).

      Apart from the charitable giving, the list seems to have been devised at the Ministry for Silly Gestures. Yet, even if prayer is in itself pointless, the clockwork regularity of breaking off whatever you’re doing to go through ritual washing and 5 times prayer must make for a disciplined life. ‘Bad behaviour’ , if you mean crime, is punishable by law. If the Nigerian Muslims who killed a British soldier had carried out the crime in Kabul instead of London, it would have been just as much a crime.

      The obvious problem with Islamic law is when it is the law itself which is bad. It is with designating as serious crimes, trivial matters like blasphemy and recreational activities like adultery and the savage punishments prescribed for them. Progress in the abolition of the death penalty represents a step forward in this respect.

      The most pervasive ‘bad behaviour’ comes from classifying half the population, the female half, as not fully human. This was the prevailing view throughout the world until quite recently (in historical terms). Despite the obstacles posed by Islamic tradition and belief, it’s reasonable for the same causes to produce the same effects in Muslim majority countries as elsewhere, namely for women to join the workforce with the consequences for women’s liberation. Those who regard all Muslims as, ipso facto, not fully human, consider this development impossible — as a matter of prejudice.

      • In reply to #322 by aldous:

        In reply to #321 by phil rimmer:

        As core tenets they leave the field of bad behaviour richly open.

        Yes, it went a lot further. The main point is that the ‘violence’ Muslimophobes get so excited about is not any different from non-Muslim violence, mutatis mutandis (useful phrase).

        I not only agree with a lot that you say but I also am pleased to see “Muslimophobe” make its debut in your comments. I hope its more than a kindness (but if not thanks anyway.) I think its focus reveals a greater crime and a worthier use of the term phobia. I think it certainly suits our purposes here in identifying individuals and not notional representatives of an ideology. Muslims have been, can be and are manifold in their natures and concerns.

        Where we still diverge though is in the fixableness of bad behaviour, “criminal” and anti-social behaviour both. I care little for the similar severity of the crimes of both sides. I care little for analyses that find blame and malicious thinking. In any localised context I suspect our evil doers on both sides believe themselves well intentioned.

        What matters is how tractable the bad behaviours are. How democratically engage-able, subject to reason and evidence? How open to heartfelt dispute without fear or censure? How close in can the denunciation get? This is what should count to those of us who must plan the next leverage point for change. How can the reasonable forces of reasonable people be engaged to make change? Ideologies, political, social and religious, as regulated by its gate keepers, form these environments.

        A balancing of imputed evils doesn’t help IMHO.

        • In reply to #323 by phil rimmer:

          I not only agree with a lot that you say but I also am pleased to see “Muslimophobe” make its debut in your comments.

          I think you’re right in suggesting ‘Muslimophobia’ and ‘anti-Zionism’ are useful clarifications. Anyway, I’m quite sick of the dreaded I-phobia word. You get enough of it after a few dozen repetitions.

          A balancing of imputed evils doesn’t help IMHO.

          I’m trying to persuade the phobes that the target of our disapproval should be evil and not the religious, national or other flags of the evildoers. The attitude that what is evil when they do it to us, is good when we do it to them, is what I oppose.

          • In reply to #327 by aldous:

            In reply to #323 by phil rimmer:

            I’m trying to persuade the phobes that the target of our disapproval should be evil and not the religious, national or other flags of the evildoers. The attitude that what is evil when they do it to us, is good when we do it to them, is what I oppose.

            This is plain simple minded nonsense. The target should be the evildoers. And the causes of their evildoing.

            If hostile forces declare war against us; proceed to attack our property, kill our citizens, kill our allies and express a determination to continue to attack us until we are all destroyed; then surely any sane person would accept that we have every right to fight as hard as we can against those hostile forces until they surrender, and desist from further aggression.

            This is what is happening now. The west is under attack from the Islamic Al Qaeda and affiliated groups. Their leader, OBL, declared war in 1996. Then came the African embassy bombings in 1998, the twin towers and Pentagon attacks, The present leader is continuing to wage war.

            What makes you think that this aggression against the west, which has cost many thousands of innocent lives, should be unopposed? Or, as you say, you oppose the use of force against them in reply to their use of force against us?
            What do you suggest we do instead? Send them flowers?

          • In reply to #328 by inquisador:

            If hostile forces declare war against us; proceed to attack our property, kill our citizens

            I don’t share the view that what is wrong when they do it to us, is right when we do it to them. The ‘Us’ and ‘them’ tribal mentality has been superseded, since the defeat of Nazi Germany, by the principles embodied in the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human rights, amplified in UN conventions and agreements and supplemented by rules on use of armed force in the Geneva Conventions and the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court.

            The conflict between the Pashtuns of Afghanistan and Pakistan against the American installed government in Kabul is one to be resolved primarily by negotiation between the central government and the rebels. The American contribution to peace could begin by putting an end to the drone assassination program in the area. Whether or not military action continues, the American President has no moral authority which would allow him to kill Afghan families, whether or not they include anti-government fighters.

          • In reply to #329 by aldous:

            In reply to #328 by inquisador:

            If hostile forces declare war against us; proceed to attack our property, kill our citizens

            I don’t share the view that what is wrong when they do it to us, is right when we do it to them. The ‘Us’ and ‘them’ tribal mentality has been superseded, since the defeat of Nazi Germany, by the principles embodied in the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human rights

            I agree and I think it’s the most glaring fault in many of the people who claim to advocate for reason and critical thinking that they are far more interested with finding fault with Muslims than pointing out that tribalism and violence as a solution for either side is wrong.

            I agree there is plenty to find fault with in Islam and if we were to rank the most popular religions currently around right now I think you could make a good case that Islam is the worst. But I think the whole notion that there is something beneficial in ranking the religions in the first place is still an example of tribalism, of “our side good their side bad” and tribalism, far more than religion or any one specific religion is the more significant cause of misogyny, wars, and other things that people who believe in reason should be against.

            It’s an obvious hypocrisy with someone like Sam Harris. he barely has a critical word to say about US imperialism. In fact someone who believes in critical thinking will realize that they have an inherent bias toward their side and will strive to be more critical of the crimes done in their name than in criticizing the tribes that all their peers already dislike.

          • In reply to #330 by Red Dog:

            I agree and I think it’s the most glaring fault in many of the people who claim to advocate for reason and critical thinking that they are far more interested with finding fault with Muslims than pointing out that tribalism and violence as a solution for either side is wrong.

            The theology of Islam is supernatural superstition like Christianity, but there’s a great deal less of it, so Islam wins on that count. The same Old Testament values are fundamental to both religions, so no advantage either way. The Sermon on the Mount wins on the message of peace and love but Christians have never paid any attention to it, so no advantage there. Where Christian countries win out is where secular humanism and scientific rationalism have expanded and religion and religious morality are taken far less seriously.

            The Islamic republics have far too many Muslims in them and lack the cultural diversity of the West. The basis for progress is economic. There is a cluster of Islamic countries in the Low Human Development section of the UN Index. Assuming that Muslims are human, the same causes will produce the same effects and traditional cultures will give way to global values as living standards rise.

  49. In reply to #307 by inquisador:

    In reply to #304 by aldous:

    In reply to #302 by inquisador:

    There is not much hope for an advanced technological society if much of the workforce are illiterate and innumerate. Unless the country is rich with resources from other than the products of their own industriousness. Such as those immigrants without status known as guest workers.

    Of course there are exceptions to my generalisations.

    Like Iran?

    76 million population, 3.7million in higher education. 1.15million engineers and construction (One of the highest proportions in the world) 1m medical students. 60% women.

    UK,

    63 million pop, 2.8 million students, engineers and technology 162k, medical students 68k. 57% Women.

    Compared to its neighbours Iran is big. There is light at the end of your tunnel, I think. And its not an oncoming train.

  50. In reply to #331 by Aldous

    Despite the economic and indeed number of practicing Muslims that may or may not festoon the eastern lands and growing ares of the west, their potency is unfortunately increasing in contradiction to Christian based religions. On that note the fact that this superstitious clap-trap holds no credence within logical circles, it’s very existence remains a very real catalyst for social disorder to western culture and is, in its extremist form, on par with the rise of the National Socialist in Germany back in the 1930′s. A fact I believe will hit home, particularly in Britain when we are least prepared for it, unless measures are taken to neutralise the threat.

    • In reply to #332 by Fixator:

      in its extremist form, on par with the rise of the National Socialist in Germany back in the 1930′s. A fact I believe will hit home, particularly in Britain when we are least prepared for it, unless measures are taken to neutralise the threat.

      What measures do you think the British government should take?

      • In reply to #335 by aldous:

        What measures do you think the British government should take?

        They might start by studying Canada, a country with some success at multiculturalism. Since moving here 14 years ago I have been impressed by the efforts of successive governments to assist and welcome newcomers rather than alienate them. It’s not perfect to be sure, and we too have stories of radicalised youths leaving to take up jihad. But with 250,000 newcomers arriving every year, on balance the vast majority move swiftly into the workforce and the community. The policy of multiculturalism, supported by all political parties, has contributed to rather than hindered integration.

        It is only in rural Quebec that you find much antipathy towards multiculturalism. In the recent provincial elections the governing PQ tried to make this a singular issue by promoting their Charter of Rights, a thinly-disguised appeal to racism that would, for example, have banned the hijab for government workers. (Interestingly this gave an Ontario hospital an opportunity to recruit new staff with an advert showing a women wearing hospital scrubs and a hijab, and the tagline “We don’t care what’s on your head – we care what’s in it.”)

        Fortunately the PQ were soundly defeated.

        • In reply to #336 by john.wb:

          an advert showing a women wearing hospital scrubs and a hijab, and the tagline “We don’t care what’s on your head – we care what’s in it”

          The UK certainly depends on immigrants and doctors who are not of white British ethnicity. White British doctors are a minority at 39.5 %. 40.5 % of all doctors registered to practise got their initial medical qualification outside the UK. The List of Registered Medical Practitioners has the up-to-date statistics. Religion is not mentioned. I wonder how many doctors have one.

      • In reply to #335 by aldous:

        Now there’s a question! Well, ignoring the generic motivation of most politicians which is greed and status we’ll assume that the British government are grounded and see the problems in front of them. Let’s even imagine that UKIP are in power then the measures need are as follows:-

        • close our boarders fully and bring our troops back from Afghanistan to patrol and Police our shores and ports thus stopping any unauthorised entry into the country.

        • Once that has been achieved we can begin the process of assessing how many actual illegals are in this country as currently no one has a clue. In that regard most of those that have entered illegally or otherwise are economic migrants from eastern block countries and Europe and in most cases from a Muslim culture.

        • We should then remove the illegals and sent them back to their country of origin without question. The remainder should be detained until they are processed vigorously enough to determine their real intentions and their intended contribution to the economy of Britain. In all honesty their religion should not have a bearing on it other than no allowances should be made for it at all.

        As we are still currently a Christian based society, which is naturally diminishing anyway, all persons entering Britain should either relinquish their religious practices and accept that Britain is slowly but surely becoming a less religious based island. No more Mosques should be built and those currently in existence used for other purposes. Other religious buildings of a British Christian origin will slowly be used for other purposes as time goes on.

        At the end of the day, whoever we accept into the country, must be under no illusion that they are taking on the British culture and becoming an integral part of our way of life. The current policy of teaching about religion, particularly the bias towards The Muslim faith and practices should cease and be nothing more than an element of the history curriculum. All religious education as a separate subject should cease.

        Once we get this aspect of British society sorted then we can get back to living together as humans on an equal footing and not the situation we have now which is Muslim factions fighting amongst each other for dominance and the good British folk caught in between, that simply has to stop. After all we have our own home grown criminal fraternity to deal with without this added imported detritus on this small island.

        • In reply to #339 by Fixator:

          In reply to #335 by aldous:

          As we are still currently a Christian based society, which is naturally diminishing anyway, all persons entering Britain should either relinquish their religious practices and accept that Britain is slowly but surely becoming a less religious based island. No more Mosques should be built and those currently in existence used for other purposes. Other religious buildings of a British Christian origin will slowly be used for other purposes as time goes on..

          or?

          • In reply to #340 by phil rimmer:

            Yaaay, the haters are making a return to RichardDawkins.net. I loved it when these let’s close the borders, introduce internment camps/brainwashing facilities, make newcomers renounce their religion, we need a new Inquisition-types were in abundance on the site, but sadly most of them have departed for fresh pastures or simply come to their senses. Perhaps a new anti-psychotic drug appeared on the market. If so, I’m delighted to see its effects were temporary.

            What I actually suspect is that the recent election successes of Ukips and France’s Front National, together with the rise of groups like Golden Dawn in Greece, has emboldened a lot of Islamophobes (Sorry not to get on board with your Muslimophobe thing. It’s a nice idea but I think it would probably serve to empower those who’d have us believe it’s only the precepts of the Muslim faith they despise and not the followers themselves; like homophobes purporting to love the sinner, hate the sin.) who feel more able to go online and spout their bilge, confident their views are now part of the mainstream.

            I don’t know about the rest of Europe and France in particular (What that country needs is a major outbreak of Chytridiomycosis. A spot of mass starvation brought about by a catastrophic reduction in the main dietary staple of every Caucasian Frenchman and Frenchwoman would be just the thing to thin out the numbers and alleviate overpopulation over there). But a couple years from now, Ukips, Britain’s very own Tea Party analogue, will be a similarly spent force, its leader reduced to banqueting on marsupial testicles and foot long cockroaches in the Australian jungle overseen by a pair of cackling Geordie midgets, or embarking on a nationwide tour of pound shops to promote his memoirs.

            I reserve the right to link back to this comment when that time arrives.

        • In reply to #339 by Fixator:

          close our boarders fully and bring our troops back from Afghanistan to patrol and Police our shores and ports thus stopping any unauthorised entry into the country

          Your comment is much appreciated and I’d like to leave it undisturbed in all its ramshackle glory but I can’t resist pointing out that there’s more than a touch of fantasy about the initial scenario. If you redeploy the British army on the beaches of Britain, they’ll have nothing to do but paddle and build sandcastles. The foreign hordes, in the leaky fishing boats and capsizing rafts, are arriving on the beaches of Spain and Italy – not all of them alive. What you need is to re-inforce helicopter and coastguard patrols in the Mediterranean and off the coast of the Canary Islands.. The best thing is for Britain to work with its EU partners to control illegal immigration from Africa and the Middle East. It is a particularly good idea to provide British aid to help better equip the Libyan and other North African law enforcement and coastguard to curb the flow of illegals before they arrive in Europe.

    • In reply to #333 by Fouad Boussetta:

      I just read a very good summary/review of a book.

      What makes you think the book deserves any attention? All kinds of rubbish is available from Amazon. It appears simply to be a polemical work by a member of what is referred to as a ‘hate group’ in the Wikipedia entry on the author.

      • In reply to #334 by aldous:

        What makes you think the book deserves any attention?

        I don’t think it’s the book itself that deserves the attention, aldous, but the nicely written review! It’s just facts, a little biography of the founder of Islam, with a bit of historical context about the religion. I didn’t find anything to dispute in the review, though I really looked. If you find some incorrect information in it, I’ll be very grateful if you let me know… The reviewer has an interesting website!

  51. Heterophobes, in the throes of their frequent anxiety attacks, often seem unable to complete a thought.

    Don’t worry about Muslimophobia er phobia. All I need is for the word to be out there. Like having the choices antisemitism, antijudaism and antizionism, when used in contrast to each other it triggers thought in the thoughtless and discomfits the lazy.

    Sadly chytridiomycosis only solves half of the problem. How do we get them to take more showers?

    The Poundland Party! Perfect.

  52. When are we going to stop our racist attitudes in the UK?

    I am talking, naturally, about the racist lowering of expectations for the conduct of Muslims. For example:- the decades-long tolerance of Muslim gangs who have been following sharia rules by abducting and enticing ‘infidel’ young white girls into sex-slavery for profit. Muslim profit, that is.With apparent virtual impunity.

    Then there is the serious criminal bribery and corruption of the voting system that was allowed to stand in the election of the extremist Lutfur Rahman as mayor of Tower Hamlets. The electoral commission has now turned a blind eye to all that for a second time in the re-election of Rahman. Andrew Gilligan has the full depressingly familiar story.

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali has done an outstanding job of educating westerners on the nature of Islam, and the article and conversation with Sam is a fine example. Likewise people like Wafa Sultan, Ali Sina, Ibn Warraq and this German guy. His story is another confirmation of how apologists need to be tuned out and tune in instead to apostates of Islam.

    • In reply to #344 by inquisador:

      Suppose a group of former soldiers, with weapons and
      intelligence training, are bored with their post-service jobs for
      security companies and print shops, and tired of the pub going which
      keeps them in touch with each other and with what bestowed a sense
      of pride and purpose. Their patriotism is frustrated by their impotence
      in the face of predatory criminality…..

      George Boby

      Inqui, I’m shocked. I expected reason here, not the Law’n’Freedom Foundation saying in a very, very detailed way what not to do (vigilantism), some more detail on how to do it, then saying, but if the government don’t do what we want then this prescription of ours will probably happen.

      Naked. Shameless. And unworthy of you. Bring unadorned information and I’ll read beyond its intro.

      • In reply to #346 by phil rimmer:

        In reply to #344 by inquisador:

        Naked. Shameless. And unworthy of you. Bring unadorned information and I’ll read beyond its intro.

        Hi Phil,

        I am surprised at your reaction. Also disappointed that you haven’t read beyond the intro.

        I take it that your point is that this ‘what if’ scenario might be construed as a veiled threat to the Gov. and Muslims generally. Well you may have a point. My inference from the same text was that this was an attempt to foresee possible developments in time to take action to avoid them. By applying the law more effectively against the criminals concerned.

        The report as a whole deserves to be read. The author admits that it is not flawless, but my impression was that the difficulties of compiling it without full access to all the existing official information have been largely overcome. It is replete with all kinds of references, footnotes, links; it seems like a reasonable assessment of a shocking phenomenon that has received too little media attention.

        Please give us your response to the full report. I expect you will pick up on the weaknesses in it more than I would. I would welcome that and take notice. Of course responses, favourable or not, from any other commenters, would also be of interest; mods permitting.

        By the way mods; I can only access comment #344 by way of the link at #346. When I open this thread it omits #344 & #345. I wonder why??

        • In reply to #347 by inquisador:

          The report as a whole deserves to be read.

          All 333 pages of it? Who is the author of the report? I don’t just mean his name. It would be useful to know something about him. Why did he write the report and who paid for it to be written? What is the intended audience? Is it supposed to ‘rouse the nation’, like Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech? It’s a mighty ponderous implement if that’s the intention.

          • In reply to #348 by aldous:

            In reply to #347 by inquisador:

            The report as a whole deserves to be read.

            All 333 pages of it? Who is the author of the report? I don’t just mean his name. It would be useful to know something about him. Why did he write the report and who paid for it to be written? What is the intended audience…

            The size of the report is out of all proportion to the size of the problem of grooming gangs. Actually the report needs to be far longer than it is.

            There is some explanation of why it was written here:- lawandfreedomfouon.org/2ndati013/07/01/never-shall-be-slaves-please-circulate/

            “The aim is to force Councils and Police Authorities to pay. This will lead negligent Council Officers and Police chiefs to get demoted and sidelined, and investigation of these crimes to be taken seriously. And force them to move from turning a blind eye, to actively investigating for such crimes.
            This in turn should lead them to detect more of them, which will put further pressure on them to pursue such cases harder, and so on.”

          • In reply to #349 by inquisador:

            The aim is to force Councils and Police Authorities to pay.

            So, these are the people who should be reading this report. Do they think the mystery man author is worth listening to? It all hinges on there being some nationwide – or even worldwide- conspiracy to HIDE THE TRUTH. Since all these matters have been widely reported that is not the case.

          • In reply to #351 by aldous:

            In reply to #349 by inquisador:

            The aim is to force Councils and Police Authorities to pay.

            So, these are the people who should be reading this report. Do they think the mystery man author is worth listening to? It all hinges on there being some nationwide – or even worldwide- conspiracy to HIDE THE TRUTH. Since all these matters have been widely reported that is not the case.

            I think the author is worth a fair hearing, given the seriousness of this and the amount of harm inflicted on so many young girls.

            From the parts that I have read so far it looks as though there has been a widespread failure of parents, teachers, social workers and police to accept and believe what was going on under their noses until it was too late to put right. I think the perps have been cunning, manipulative and exploitative to a degree unimagined by the naive PC/MC compliant professionals and others involved.

            Here’s a bit from page 271:
            >

            . Evidence shows that the tendency of Muslim men to
            commit this crime is so far in excess of the tendency within the native
            British population,2
            that it will be impossible to remedy this without
            some profound changes to law enforcement, criminal justice and
            legislation. There are more than 50 gangs currently being investigated
            in England.3 That is, the number of gangs currently being investigated
            is almost twice as many as the total number of gangs convicted in the
            last 16 years combined!4

            The numbers are refs to footnotes.

            I do not know the identity of the mystery man who may be named Peter McLoughlin, nor who his sponsor may be. He may just be being cautious about using his real name.

          • In reply to #353 by inquisador:

            I do not know the identity of the mystery man who may be named Peter McLoughlin

            And yet you are prepared to read 333 pages — are you serious — by somebody of no known qualifications and intentions, cobbling together publically available material to highlight the role of sundry Pakistanis in exploiting underage girls in local authority care.

          • In reply to #354 by aldous:

            In reply to #353 by inquisador:

            I do not know the identity of the mystery man who may be named Peter McLoughlin

            nd yet you are prepared to read 333 pages — are you serious — by somebody of no known qualifications and intentions, cobbling together publically available material to highlight the role of sundry Pakistanis in exploiting underage girls in local authority care.

            Have you found any lies or inaccuracies in the report? Please tell.

            Are there any better alternative sources for this information? Please tell.

            There has been a worldwide outbreak of concern at the role of sundry Nigerians in exploiting 200 underage girls in local authority care; but why should we care about a few thousand underage British girls being exploited and enslaved? Right?

            Of course we should read it.

          • In reply to #355 by inquisador:

            Are there any better alternative sources for this information?

            The court cases and convictions are reported in the media. The mystery man report you refer to can only be a compilation of publically known information. Unless you are contending he hacked police and public authority computers or otherwise got inside knowledge. Enjoy your reading of all 333 pages and tell us if you are echoing Enoch Powell’s River of Blood Speech.

          • In reply to #356 by aldous:

            The court cases and convictions are reported in the media. The mystery man report you refer to can only be a compilation of publically known information. Unless you are contending he hacked police and public authority computers or otherwise got inside knowledge. Enjoy your reading of all 333 pages and tell us if you are echoing Enoch Powell’s River of Blood Speech.

            So you are saying that rather than reading this concise report I should spend weeks or months trawling through records of local and national newspapers, official reports, radio, TV news and documentary footage looking for relevant information? Could you please explain the logic of this?

            Your aversion to writers who use a pseudonym is noted. So just to help you I have found a handy link to other writers that should also be avoided.

            River of Blood Speech? Is that a joke?

          • In reply to #357 by inquisador:

            In reply to #356 by aldous:

            So you are saying that rather than reading this concise report I should spend weeks or months trawling through records of local and national newspapers, official reports, radio, TV news and documentary footage looking for relevant information? Could you please explain the logic of this?

            If I may attempt to explain the logic… If you put all your eggs in the one basket, so to speak, by getting every bit of information about a very serious issue—sex trafficking and its alleged links to certain Muslim groups—from one source, which has chosen to aggregate several incidents you yourself can’t be bothered to investigate into a single article, it behooves you to find out a little about the source itself.

            Of the two names we’ve heard from, one cannot be identified and possibly doesn’t even exist, the other is a lawyer whose specialty is employing British statute to prevent Muslim gathering places from being constructed (what a lovely way to earn a living) with links to the English Defence League and other far right groups and websites.

            This isn’t Channel 4′s The FactCheck Blog, FactCheck.org or any other resource whose bona fides have been established and can be relied on to give an impartial, analysis we’re talking about; it’s very obvious that it and its authors have their own agenda.

            I’m with Phil and Aldous (and, I suspect, yourself) here: I don’t intend to wade through all 333 pages of this thing. You might regard it as gospel, but then people who are being told what they want to hear are often less exacting in their standards of scrutiny than they might otherwise be; less willing to pull back the curtain and gaze upon Oz’s true visage.

            Your aversion to writers who use a pseudonym is noted. So just to help you I have found a handy link to other writers that should also be avoided.

            It’s telling that most of the authors on your list write or wrote fiction. Georges Prosper Remi no doubt had his reasons in adopting the nom de plume Hergé for his Tintin books; it doesn’t matter when creating adventure stories what the name appearing on the cover is. If Remi had chosen to publish an academic article, on the other hand, his choosing to hide behind a pen name would have been less acceptable. Academics, scientists etc need to be held to account so their work can be properly assessed, any discrepancies questioned, their prejudices, alliances and so on made known.

            A report on the marvelous health benefits that can be accrued from drinking a gallon of Coca-Cola per day whose authors have chosen to remain anonymous should set any intelligent person’s antennae aquivering, even if simpletons lap it up. A report detailing how white British girls are at risk from a particular ethnic minority should lay all its cards on the table; it should be as transparent as possible given the potential for societal unrest. History has taught us what happens when unfounded rumors are allowed to spread. The Blood Libel might ring a bell. Your friends have chosen to hide in the shadows though.

          • In reply to #358/9 by Katy Cordeth:

            In reply to #357 by inquisador:

            Well Hi Katy,

            Of course I’m referring to Boko Haram.

            If it was being implied that all Nigerians worldwide…

            I don’t get your point in this para. Are you saying that I am somehow trying to paint all Muslims as, what exactly? Don’t, please, sink to the level of absurd canards like this. I’ve dealt with this enough before.

            I actually think it’s pretty despicable for those organizations you seem to be so fond of to use the tragedy of child sexual exploitation in order to further their own racist agenda. Using abused children as a political tool is fine, it seems

            So it seems was ignoring their plight and allowing it to go on for decades without really trying to stop it.
            Thank you for this demonstration of how the smears of ‘racist’ [as well as 'islamophobia'] are used to shame and silence anyone who calls attention to the harms done by the followers of Mohammed at this point in our history.

            This is why this report needed to be written. Many of the abuses catalogued in that report, and the ones that went ignored or unrecorded, need not have happened. Instead it seems, victims were not taken seriously enough, perpetrators went unrecognised as the crimials they were, information was not shared between areas and agencies. All to avoid committing the politically incorrect sin of upsetting cohesion in the multicultural community. Or maybe not. Maybe all that is untrue. let’s find out.

            You say that you want proper academic studies. As I said before, if anyone has better information, please give us a link. i would really love to see it. As I also said, read the preface on page 11; this does not pretend to be complete or definitive.

            It’s good that more cases are now being prosecuted, but still the cover-up of religion’s role in current cases goes on, for fear of offending or alienating the ‘vast majority of moderate Muslims.’ How bad does it have to get before we can talk about the truth openly?
            >

            Of the two names we’ve heard from, one cannot be identified and possibly doesn’t even exist, the other is a lawyer whose specialty is employing British statute to prevent Muslim gathering places from being constructed (what a lovely way to earn a living)

            Yes it is. A good honest way. Helping people to retain some control of their own neighbourhoods, as the system prescribes.
            >

            It’s telling that most of the authors on your list write or wrote fiction.

            It’s telling that writers and artists who are deemed to have insulted Mohammed are routinely sentenced to death. Could that explain the writer’s anonymity?

          • In reply to #362 by inquisador:

            In reply to #358/9 by Katy Cordeth:

            Of course I’m referring to Boko Haram.

            Oh, okay. It just sounded odd to me the way you described the Chibok abductions:

            “There has been a worldwide outbreak of concern at the role of sundry Nigerians in exploiting 200 underage girls in local authority care…”

            You make it sound like there were a number of perhaps unrelated incidents instead of just one. I don’t think Boko Haram would describe themselves as ‘sundry’, and ‘exploitation’ seems a funny word to use to describe the crime of kidnap. That’s what confused me.

            If it was being implied that all Nigerians worldwide…

            I don’t get your point in this para. Are you saying that I am somehow trying to paint all Muslims as, what exactly? Don’t, please, sink to the level of absurd canards like this. I’ve dealt with this enough before.

            Do you mean you’ve dealt with this enough before in regard to me? If that is what you’re saying, you and I must have a very different notion of what the expression ‘deal with’ means. I think ‘addressed’ would be more appropriate here, and I’m being generous with that. :)

            Everything I listed in the paragraph in question is something that you or those similar to you and whose comments in such instances you’ve clicked ‘like’ on—the Nodhimmis, Godsbusters etc of this site—have insinuated or said directly about Muslims: they have no respect for ‘kaffir’, which must be taken to include underage non-Muslim girls; it’s part of Islamic culture when in foreign lands to exploit the indigenes for their [the Muslims] own maleficent ends; Islamic texts mandate morally reprehensible behavior; any Muslim who doesn’t explicitly and without being prompted condemn acts of violence by their fellow members of that faith can be assumed to approve of them; “Where is Baroness Warsi so she can comment on this?”

            You habitually impute the actions of a few onto the group as a whole. You cite some bit of Koranic text and insist that because to be a Muslim—at least according to your own narrow definition—means believing every word of that book is, er, gospel, these people have no autonomy, no real will of their own; their religious affiliation supersedes their own innate human morality.

            I actually think it’s pretty despicable for those organizations you seem to be so fond of to use the tragedy of child sexual exploitation in order to further their own racist agenda. Using abused children as a political tool is fine, it seems

            So it seems was ignoring their plight and allowing it to go on for decades without really trying to stop it. Thank you for this demonstration of how the smears of ‘racist’ [as well as 'islamophobia'] are used to shame and silence anyone who calls attention to the harms done by the followers of Mohammed at this point in our history.

            This is why this report needed to be written. Many of the abuses catalogued in that report, and the ones that went ignored or unrecorded, need not have happened. Instead it seems, victims were not taken seriously enough, perpetrators went unrecognised as the criminals they were, information was not shared between areas and agencies. All to avoid committing the politically incorrect sin of upsetting cohesion in the multicultural community. Or maybe not. Maybe all that is untrue. let’s find out.

            Let’s not and just say we did. I haven’t read the report, partly because its provenance is unknown; although the fact it’s championed by unscrupulous, extremely partisan entities such as the Gatestone Institute and GatesofVienna.com would be reason enough for me to give it a wide berth. You say at the end of your post:

            It’s telling that writers and artists who are deemed to have insulted Mohammed are routinely sentenced to death. Could that explain the writer’s anonymity?

            Maybe that is the reason the author has chosen to remain… well, not exactly anonymous: he does have a name, it just appears to be an invented one. Perhaps, as someone who has read the thing in its entirety, you could tell me if the elusive Mr. McLoughlin insults the Prophet at any point in his treatise. It’d be an odd thing to do in such a serious document, giving fuel perhaps to my suspicion that “Easy Meat” Multiculturalism, Islam and Child Sex Slavery may not be the impartial work such a serious issue might demand. If he doesn’t traduce Mohammed, what makes you think his life would be put in jeopardy?

            Criticizing child exploitation for financial gain surely isn’t enough to incur the wrath of the British Islamic community. They have children too about whose safety they worry. I know you would never paint all UK Muslims with the same brush and insist none of them could possibly give a fig about sexual abuse of non-Muslim children. That would make them inhuman.

            Under the circumstances, then, ‘Peter McLoughlin’ needn’t worry too much about his safety. Why not, given the seriousness of the issue under discussion, step out from the shadows and promote his manuscript?

            You say that you want proper academic studies. As I said before, if anyone has better information, please give us a link. i would really love to see it. As I also said, read the preface on page 11; this does not pretend to be complete or definitive.

            You seem to be issuing the challenge “Show us a better report on this…” as though the absence of other comprehensive studies somehow proves the veracity of this one. Just because no one else has published a dissertation on how the Royal Family are all nine-foot-tall lizards in people suits, that doesn’t make what David Icke says true.

            Maybe, just maybe, there are no other reports about this story because it’s an invention. Not the sexual exploitation of vulnerable children for financial gain—that has existed since time immemorial—but the sinister knowledge that in this instance foreigners are responsible. It’s one thing for kids to be sold for sex when natives are doing the selling—and the purchasing—another matter entirely when The Outsider does the same, bringing his and his customers’ foreign DNA into the equation. At least we know indigenous British peddlers of underage flesh are doing it simply for profit; unlike their alien counterparts who, adding insult to injury, are no doubt funneling their ill-gotten gains to Al-Qaeda.

            If British Muslim gangs are getting in on the child prostitution racket, it’s because they’re scumbags. Their religion is irrelevant. The law is supposed to be blind to everything but the nature of the crime.

            You said earlier in your comment:

            Many of the abuses catalogued in that report, and the ones that went ignored or unrecorded, need not have happened. Instead it seems, victims were not taken seriously enough, perpetrators went unrecognised as the criminals they were, information was not shared between areas and agencies. All to avoid committing the politically incorrect sin of upsetting cohesion in the multicultural community.

            It’s a sad fact that victims of sexual exploitation are frequently ignored or not taken seriously. Look at the examples of Jimmy Savile and Cyril Smith, who between them must have assaulted approaching a thousand kids. The authorities have a great deal to answer for when it comes to how these predators’ crimes were covered up for so long. Was it political correctness which allowed them to breathe their last in the comfort of their homes or a private hospital bed rather than a dank prison cell, never having been brought to account for their actions? Okay, these men were famous and had connections to influential people, but…

            …It’s only in the past thirty years or so that the act of marital rape has lost its status as oxymoron in the eyes of western law enforcement bodies. This Ukips benefactor, howmever, is apparently unswayed by the forces of political correctness you deem so injurious.

            Sex crimes are icky, gendarmaries tends to be lazy or corrupt or both, and predators are adept at choosing victims they know won’t be listened to if they report their abuse. Since when, by the way, were British police known for their sensitivity and kid-glove approach when it comes to dealing with ethnic minorities?

            It’s good that more cases are now being prosecuted, but still the cover-up of religion’s role in current cases goes on, for fear of offending or alienating the ‘vast majority of moderate Muslims.’ How bad does it have to get before we can talk about the truth openly?

            Who’s stopping you from talking openly about the truth? You spoke about canards, well this is exactly the one Sam Harris and Ayaan Hirsi Ali are trying to flog. You can speak the truth until your hair bleeds as far as I’m concerned, and if anyone tries to silence you on the grounds that we shouldn’t do anything to offend or alienate the ‘vast majority of moderate Muslims’ (kinda wonderin’ why that was contained within scare quotes) you can direct them to me.

            Yes it is. A good honest way. Helping people to retain some control of their own neighbourhoods, as the system prescribes.

            Their own neighborhoods? You’re showing your true colors, Inquisador. I would have thought that freedom to worship as one wishes is an important, some might say inalienable, right in a supposedly enlightened society. Governments, local authorities, and NIMBYs intent on keeping their vicinage ethnically pure should not be allowed to interfere with this right. If I don’t care for Jews, should my views be taken into consideration when planning permission for a synagogue near where I live is sought? Perhaps your Mr. Boby, the self-styled Mosque Buster, could go beyond his brief in this instance and take on my case; these EDL types usually don’t have much love for God’s chosen people either. The synagogue is to cater to a mostly gay congregation, if that sweetens the pot.

            It’s a funny thing, but history shows us that whenever a religion is proscribed, its followers don’t just disappear into the ether; they go underground. They gather in secret to worship, use covert means of identifying themselves as members of their faith. Heck, people have chosen to be put to death rather than renounce their religious affiliation. Razing every single mosque to the ground would not put an end to the hated Islam in your country.

            I tend to favor the persuasion-is-better-than-force approach. Aesop’s fable of The North Wind and the Sun explains this nicely. If you do want to help create a world in which Islam, Christianity, Scientology et al have no power, legislating against the erecting of these faiths’ places of worship probably isn’t the way to go about it. If you just don’t want those scary Muzzies in your back yard… well, you’re probably on to a winner.

          • In reply to #357 by inquisador:

            So just to help you I have found a handy link to other writers that should also be avoided….River of Blood Speech? Is that a joke?

            We don’t know the biography of your mystery man. Whereas, we do know about authors who used noms de plume. The issue is not just that we don’t know who the author or authors is/are of the compilation of media reports you refer to. It’s about motives, intention, competence and source of funding.

            One mystery is solved, though. Your theory about the conspiracy to conceal child abuse is based simply on your lack of interest in the facts and preference for believing in a Huge Conspiracy.

          • In reply to #361 by aldous:

            In reply to #357 by inquisador:

            We don’t know the biography of your mystery man. Whereas, we do know about authors who used noms de plume. The issue is not just that we don’t know who the author or authors is/are of the compilation of media reports you refer to. It’s about motives, intention, competence and source of funding.

            Well I don’t know who you are; or your motives, intentions, competence, sources of funding or even your favourite colour; that doesn’t stop me from reading your comments and answering them… Or should it?
            >

            One mystery is solved, though. Your theory about the conspiracy to conceal child abuse is based simply on your lack of interest in the facts and preference for believing in a Huge Conspiracy.

            I tend to agree with Marktony at #360; I don’t believe in conspiracies across such large numbers of people, many not connected to one another. It looks more like a widespread lack of urgency and awareness of a specific problem.

          • In reply to #363 by inquisador:

            Well I don’t know who you are; or your motives, intentions, competence, sources of funding or even your favourite colour; that doesn’t stop me from reading your comments and answering them… Or should it?

            And vice versa. When your comments get anywhere near 333 pages, I’ll get a little more choosy about deciding whether it’s worth answering, especially a 334 page answer. The document of questionable funding, authorship and rationale is introduced with a version of the Enoch Powell River of Blood speech. The river of blood was to be caused by enraged white Britons — ‘how unfortunate’ as it was hypocritically implied –rising up against the aliens in their midst. When this supposed must-read document contains a rehash of events reported in the media — which have apparently escaped the attention of the ignorant and uniformed– seen from the perspective of a racist nitwit –as Powell was for all his academic intelligence –the only attention it deserves is for the light it throws on the mindset of somebody who finds it engrossing reading — allegedly.

          • In reply to #355 by inquisador:

            In reply to #354 by aldous:

            …There has been a worldwide outbreak of concern at the role of sundry Nigerians in exploiting 200 underage girls in local authority care; but why should we care about a few thousand underage British girls being exploited and enslaved? Right?

            Are you referring to the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, or is there another story I’ve missed?

            If it was being implied that all Nigerians worldwide posed a danger to underage non-Nigerian girls, that it was part of these people’s culture to travel to foreign countries and set up prostitution networks, that Nigerian literature mandated this sort of behavior, that Nigerians as a whole tacitly approve of the actions of Boko Haram, which can be inferred every time a single individual Nigerian fails to lament the plight of the kidnapped schoolgirls and condemn their abductors—“Where is Chuka Umunna so he can comment on this?!”—then your analogy might have legs.

            I actually think it’s pretty despicable for those organizations you seem to be so fond of to employ the tragedy of child sexual exploitation in order to further their own racist agenda. Using abused children as a political tool is fine, it seems.

            I wonder how many of them actually give a stuff if the mass deportation of every non-indigene which they seem to favor results in expatriated children being abused back in their homeland.

            Christ, Inquisador, but you’ve thrown in your lot with a wretched bunch.

          • It all hinges on there being some nationwide – or even worldwide- conspiracy to HIDE THE TRUTH.

            Why? If the police put a low priority on such investigations, that does not imply a nationwide or worldwide conspiracy. It does imply that there is little pressure (political or media) being applied to persuade the authorities to take these issues more seriously.

            After the Savile case, there has been a lot of pressure on the police to pursue other investigations into possible sex crimes committed by VIPs and celebrities, resulting in more convictions. Does that mean there was previously a nationwide conspiracy – no, just a reluctance to investigate and a tendency not to believe the victims.

            Domestic violence used to be a big problem which the police did not take seriously. Now every force has domestic violence units. Was there previously a nationwide conspiracy?

            In 2011, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) carried out an assessment of ‘localised grooming’ in an attempt to identify the scale and patterns of offending. The summary report suggests the assessment was hampered by lack of input from the various authorities:

            unfortunately, CEOP received a limited response from agencies, especially children’s services and LsCBs. in total, only 13 LsCBs responded to the request for information . The highest response was from police forces but a significant number of forces reported a nil return.

            Where they did get a response, it seems the data regarding ethnicity was poor:

            In relation to ethnicity, the data was often recorded to a particularly poor standard at the point of capture. ‘Ethnicity’ was often conflated with ‘nationality’ and neither factor captured according to a conventional or standardised classification scheme. Within the available dataset there was a significant difference between the groups. For groups one and two combined, the ethnicity of 38% of the offenders was unknown, 30% were white, 28% asian , 3% Black and 0.16% Chinese. When only group one was analysed, the offenders were found to be 38% white, 32% unknown, 26% asian, 3% Black, and 0.2% Chinese.

            So, from the limited data, there did seem to be an over-representation of Asians. Of course, Asian ethnicity does not automatically imply Muslim. Is there a conspiracy against collecting this data? No, it’s just not seen as important enough to make it a requirement.

            A more recent report by the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, Child sexual exploitation and the response to localised grooming also criticised the available data:

            both CEOP and the Office of the Children’s Commissioner have found serious inconsistencies with recording of ethnicities and gender of both victims and perpetrators across UK forces. Given the number of child sexual exploitation cases which have so far failed to make it to court, for the reasons discussed, this highly unsatisfactory situation means that it is extremely difficult to form an evidence based opinion on the true nature of what is still a largely hidden crime.

            And had this to say:

            There is no simple link between race and child sexual exploitation. It is a vile crime which is perpetrated by a small number of individuals, and abhorred by the vast majority, from every ethnic group. However, evidence presented to us suggests that there is a model of localised grooming of Pakistani-heritage men targeting young White girls. This must be acknowledged by official agencies, who we were concerned to hear in some areas of particular community tension, had reportedly been slow to draw attention to the issue for fear of affecting community cohesion. The condemnation from those communities of this vile crime should demonstrate that there is no excuse for tip-toeing around this issue. It is important that police, social workers and others be able to raise their concerns freely, without fear of being labelled racist.

            Whether or not there is an over-representation of Muslims in convicted child sex grooming gangs, the police do seem to be taking the issue more seriously as a result of previous high profile cases as was apparent from the reporting of the recent Peterborough convictions. And BTW all the defendants in this case were Roma but the article does not mention religion.

            In reply to #351 by aldous:

            In reply to #349 by inquisador:

            The aim is to force Councils and Police Authorities to pay.

            So, these are the people who should be reading this report. Do they think the mystery man author is worth listening to? It all hinges on there being some nationwide – or even worldwide- conspiracy to HIDE T…

      • In reply to #346 by phil rimmer:

        In reply to #344 by inquisador:

        Suppose a group of former soldiers, with weapons and
        intelligence training, are bored with their post-service jobs for
        security companies and print shops, and tired of the pub going which
        keeps them in touch with each other and with what bestowed a sense
        of pride and…

        Another thought: If this lawyer with his, let’s say, implied threats, were to act on these threats then would it be a plausible thing for him to do?

        He himself is not an action man figure; nor is he likely to lead such men into action. Isn’t it more likely that, in arguing his case, he may have overstepped the mark while getting a bit carried away by his own rhetoric?

        Either way, Gavin Boby, who wrote the foreword, is not the author of the report itself. That report should be judged on it’s own merits. Also, please check the preface on page eleven.

        • In reply to #350 by inquisador:

          Gavin Boby, who wrote the foreword, is not the author of the report itself. That report should be judged on it’s own merits.

          Tell us about the merits of the mystery man supposed author of the report and who funded him to produce it.

  53. Well thank you to those that responded to my last post, though no surprises in some areas in terms of predictable rhetoric. To Aldous I thank you for your alternative or maybe additional measures and be assured that the ramshackle ideas are of course basic in their presentation as a my detailed manifesto is currently being proof read. Though I can’t help but feel however, that most of what you suggest is In fact being done already and having had some dealings with the services, there seems to have been a distinct lack of success to date for either political or economic reason or possibly both.

    In reference to other post responses, my cup literally ‘overfoweth’ with surprise at the typical ‘ academic in Ivory Tower’ response. it really is so easy for so many people to take the moral high ground when confronted with reality. I do wonder how much interaction with our wonderful economic migrants you actually have, a soirée in Rumania last summer perhaps? Or maybe a spot of Pirating of the African coast with our Somali friends? Clearly you base your obviously right and morally upstanding decision on much experience.

    In never fails to amuse me how, as soon as anyone defends their way of life, they are immediately a Rascist, or some kind of right wing neanderthal. It’s a given that many intellectuals and so called academics are capable of thinking’ outside the box’ yet several of the last posts prove quite the opposite. From experience, treading on eggshells hurts my feet so you’ll forgive me my ability to engage my PC approach is placed where the Squirrel hides it’s nuts!!

    Instead of engaging in a battle of the wordsmiths, I believe in plain speech and not everything is black and white, I play in the shaded areas!! Thanks for your comment though.

  54. Just a quickie:

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali has returned to the subject of her conversation with Sam in a recent (May 31st) interview on, be warned: Fox News.

    Here’s a link for anyone who may not have seen it but would like to.

    She wonders, in this, why America and the west generally, were able to unite against apartheid, but not sharia. I thought she was excellent.

  55. People like aldous and Kathy Cordeth sound like what I call “ivory tower multiculturalists” — people who know what’s best for the masses because their principles sound so good on paper, despite failing every reality test on the ground.

    The problem is that a society’s values aren’t set in stone; they reflect the religions, cultures and ideologies of the people who live there. If you start changing the cultural composition of your nation in the name of some bogus “diversity” ideal, your values will change and eventually your rights and freedoms will be threatened. So if you value your cultural continuity, it’s wise to be selective about who you allow in your borders. Importing people en masse from radically different cultures is not a prescription for creating a more functional society. If this isn’t clear, go visit some of the “no-go” zones in places like France where Muslims have immigrated en masse, or talk to a few taxi drivers. The reality on the ground is that a foreign culture is taking root that is fundamentally incompatible with Western civilization, and all the ideological apologetics in the world isn’t going to change that.

    The bottom line is that there are limits to how much any society can tolerate “diversity” and not become suicidal, and the West has clearly gone beyond those limits in recent decades. Personally, I think our civilization may come apart at the seams, because so many people (like aldous and Kathy Cordeth) seem ignorant of facts that were obvious to our ancestors who built this civilization, and have bought into this bankrupt and suicidal narrative of “diversity”, “Islamophobia”, etc.

    As always, history will be the final judge, not the good intentions of our progressive elites.

    • In reply to #367 by Imperius:

      The bottom line is that there are limits to how much any society can tolerate “diversity” and not become suicidal, and the West has clearly gone beyond those limits in recent decades.

      The ‘West’ is enjoying peace and prosperity far beyond anything experienced in the history of the world. In the days of Empire, the ‘natives’ were confined to their homelands while the motherland sucked their wealth from them. How can we keep the people of the former empires from reaching the formerly inaccessible ‘mother country’ ? Do we turn Britain into North Korea? Besides, hundreds of millions of European citizens have the right to settle in the UK if they choose. Tell us how you would ‘keep them out’.

      • In reply to #368 by aldous:

        Besides, hundreds of millions of European citizens have the right to settle in the UK if they choose. Tell us how you would ‘keep them out’.

        That’s easy, just change the laws so they no longer have that right.

        As for peace and prosperity unprecedented in history blah blah blah, what does that have to do with multiculturalism or Islamophobia? I can point to many affluent, peaceful (non-Muslim) societies that are rather monocultural, so I don’t understand your point. Western Europeans have zero obligation to allow people from every land to come to our shores, out of post-colonial guilt or for any other reason.

        • In reply to #370 by Imperius:

          That’s easy, just change the laws so they no longer have that right

          The UK can’t ‘just change the law’ on the rights of European citizens to move anywhere in the Union. It would be incompatible with UK membership of the Union. The promised referendum, if it’s ever held, could result in what’s left of the UK (after the result of the Scottish vote) voting to leave. Countries outside the EU, Norway and Switzerland, have a much higher percentage of immigrants than the UK. Non-membership of the EU would not necessarily result in fewer foreign-born residents.

          How would you propose getting rid of more than half the population of London – the 55% that is not white British? I’m just interested in how you think you’d solve the practical difficulties of turning the clock back in the face of the economic realities. Why would anybody want to cause the collapse of the National Heath Service and other sectors which depend on a large influx of foreign employees?

          Even if you concentrate on illegals, finding them, rounding up and deporting them wouldn’t be cheap. “It has since been suggested that to deport all of the irregular migrants from the UK would take 20 years and cost up to £12 billion” (Wikipedia).Considering that you have to find countries willing to take these deportees, makes it seem quite unrealistic.

          You haven’t considered the cost of going against the worldwide trend of mass migration.

          • Immigration is not the issue.

            The UK was built on immigration and invaders and we have done ok out of it.

            It is obvious Islam and the Koran does not sit well with free speech and western democracy/ way of life.

            We drink alcohol, treat animals humanely for slaughter treat women as equals and can have opinion on religion without fear of reprisals.

            It is as simple as that.

            I am surprised no one has mentioned operation Trojan horse yet

            If they have.
            Apologies

  56. Well, operation Trojan Horse warrants a separate discussion, as does ISIS and the ongoing attempt to stage a new caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

    I notice that none of my recent suggestions for news topics have been accepted. Likewise none of these recent news topics concerning jihadism around the world have appeared at all. My feeling is that this website would like to steer a little wider of such touchy subjects as militant Islamic commands in the Koran and Hadith and how motivating they are to some Muslims who then become jihad terrorists.

    There are other places to discuss such things [though few, and not so good as this], and I do wonder if some of our freespeech indulgence may cause aggravation to Sir Richard; perhaps a backlash or reprisal of some kind. If so then I would s.t.f.u. in future. I realize that many comments at this site have been candid to the point of offensiveness to a lot of people.

    Free speech is precious of course, but so is the Prof. We only have one Dawkins but we can find other outlets for controversial debate.

    Perhaps the mods could give us a clue?

    • inquisador Jun 13, 2014 at 10:50 am

      Well, operation Trojan Horse warrants a separate discussion, as does ISIS and the ongoing attempt to stage a new caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

      The details of that inquiry are now coming out!

      ‘Disturbing’ findings from Trojan horse inquiry http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-28419901

      There is “disturbing” evidence that people with a “shared ideology” were trying to gain control of governing bodies in Birmingham, says Education Secretary Nicky Morgan.

      She was responding to the Trojan horse report from former counter-terror chief Peter Clarke into allegations of a hardline Muslim take-over of schools.

      Mr Clarke found evidence of an “aggressive Islamist agenda”.

      Ms Morgan highlighted “intolerant” messages between school staff.

      Teachers could face misconduct inquiries, she told the House of Commons, after Mr Clarke’s report found a social media group called the “Park View Brotherhood” used by male senior staff at Park View School.
      ‘Anti-western’

      Mr Clarke’s report said this included “grossly intolerant” messages.

      He said the social media messages included “explicit homophobia; highly offensive comments about British service personnel; a stated ambition to increase segregation in the school; disparagement of strands of Islam; scepticism about the truth of reports of the murder of Lee Rigby and the Boston bombings; and a constant undercurrent of anti-western, anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment”.

      Then there is the harassment of teaching staff.

      A Birmingham MP has said teachers forced out of schools involved in the Trojan Horse allegations deserve to be compensated.
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-28393506

      On Friday, Birmingham City Council revealed the key findings of its inquiry, led by Sir Ian Kershaw.

      In it, Sir Ian criticised the often “improper” conduct of governors at some schools.

      MP Khalid Mahmood said at least 12 senior school staff had been bullied or forced out of their posts.

  57. As one who is often frustrated by finger-pointing taunts of ‘Islamophobe, racist, bigot, hater of all Muslims’, as a result of openly identifying the effects of raw unrefined Islamic fundamentalism on people, and how some Muslims are fanaticised to a dangerous extent, like hydrophobic dogs (to paraphrase Churchill) , despite my best efforts to clarify and qualify my statements, I wonder how the hell I can ever put across such information without this inevitable kneejerk response from some people.
    I can’t, obviously. But I can just ignore it.

    That was by way of introduction to this recent clip in which Frank Gaffney and Brigitte Gabriel, on a panel investigating the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, replied to questioning from a Muslim American lady, who responds very well to them near the end. Well worth watching, listening and commenting back here. If anyone is still interested. As I am.

  58. inquisador Jun 22, 2014 at 11:47 am – As one who is often frustrated by finger-pointing taunts of ‘Islamophobe, racist, bigot, hater of all Muslims’, as a result of openly identifying the effects of raw unrefined Islamic fundamentalism on people, and how some Muslims are fanaticised to a dangerous extent,

    A phobia is an irrational fear! There is nothing irrational about being concerned about the threats or actions of jihdists or theocracies!

    It is of course well known (an illustrated in the archives of this site), for religinuts to claim their unevidenced irrational views are “reasonable”, as their project their irrationality on to others.
    They likewise frequently describe their fallacious circular thinking as “logical”.

    A false assertion of “Islamophobia” provides an easy lazy-brain non-answer, for “moderate” non-thinkers maintaining a head-in-the-sand posture.

  59. I see the French are not prepared to pander to claims for religious privilege to trump civil law!

    There are calls beyond France too for public wearing of the niqab to be banned
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-28106900
    The European Court of Human Rights has upheld a ban by France on wearing the Muslim full-face veil – the niqab.

    A case was brought by a 24-year-old French woman, who argued that the ban on wearing the veil in public violated her freedom of religion and expression.

    French law says nobody can wear in a public space clothing intended to conceal the face. The penalty for doing so can be a 150-euro fine (£120; $205).

    The 2010 law came in under former conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy.

    A breach of the ban can also mean a wearer having to undergo citizenship instruction.

    France has about five million Muslims – the largest Muslim minority in Western Europe – but it is thought only about 2,000 women wear full veils.

    The court ruled that the ban “was not expressly based on the religious connotation of the clothing in question but solely on the fact that it concealed the face”. The Strasbourg judges’ decision is final – there is no appeal against it.

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