Sunday, October 12, 2008

Abuses II

Commenting on the events referenced in this post, Matt Yglesias adds:

... the Islamist perpetrators appear to have been drunk at the time [of the attack], which sort of calls into question the depth of their commitment to Islam.

I think you see rather a lot of this sort of thing where ills that anti-Muslim types would blame on Islam, or “new atheists” would blame on religion in general, don’t actually seem to be motivated by religion in anything other than the most superficial possible sense. We all understand, after all, that Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland aren’t really fighting about transubstantiation or other theological questions.
I'm not at all sure "we all understand" that about Ireland, but I'll let that pass.

By all accounts, Stalin lived more lavishly and freely than the average Soviet citizen, and this opened him to accusations of hypocrisy when he set about imposing austerity and repression on others. It does not follow that (a) Soviet-style communism is thereby exonerated as a basically well-meaning set of ideas placed, unfortunately, in the hands of a few hypocrites and opportunists for its implementation; nor (b) that hypocrisy ends the discussion of Stalin's commitment to the creed. He found excuses for his own privilege but remained steadfast in his commitment to the creed. And when, acting on his dedication to that creed, he imposed injustices and hardships on millions, clear-thinking people realized the creed was rotten, and more exactly, clear-thinking people regarded the hardship, death, repression, and hypocrisy -- all of it -- as evidence that the creed was rotten. And so it was.

Bad ideas enable and justify bad deeds -- that's what defines them as bad. Bad ideas accepted on the basis of unquestionable authority justify even worse deeds. Ideas matter; ideas reputedly stamped with god's approval matter more.

If the defense of a belief system is that lots of people who claim to base their lives on the belief system do not, in fact, base their lives on the belief system in every possible respect, two conclusions seem warranted: one, that people are sometimes hypocritical, or confused, or misinformed, or lazy, or weak (or what have you); and two, that the belief system is indefensible on its own terms. So it is with Stalinism, and so it is with Islam.

When people are having bottles smashed against their faces in obeisance to a belief system, it's time to perk up and see things clearly, beginning with the belief system.

4 comments:

larryniven said...

This is the old don't-look-down/don't-think-of-a-pink-elephant thing all over. Even though everyone who ever said "don't look down" in a movie really meant it, it was always the wrong thing to say precisely because it's always followed by someone looking down. So even if the Koran says don't drink alcohol and don't fuck people up, if people who read the Koran tend to get drunk and fuck people up (or just fuck people up), the Koran clearly either is saying the wrong things or saying the right things in the wrong way. Either way, we should damn well stop reading it, no? We might get lucky the first few times, but if we keep looking down after someone tells us not to, aren't we going to fall?

nazir_bht@yahoo.com said...

the cruel conduct of those who under mistaken impression inflict repression on others that they rather serve politics than religion shall be hard objects to be digested by the history which defeats hypocracy.the personel greed even if under religion or athiesisim can;t over-ride the truth.Islam is an ideology based on peace; believing in universal brotherhood;and teachs fair distribution of wealth to all and sundry instead its accummulation.Islam rejects hard nationalisim which could foster class divisions and add emotional extremisim as was seen by the world during hitler;s time.All religious war so recorded in the history during prophets time were defensive in nature instead of offensive.on pure human psychology the prophet said."if you have to choose between two evils; let you choose the lesser evil" the other way of interpretation goes to say that even if faced with evil do not let off patience.just on common moral education the prophet said:' be kind to your neighbor; parents and childern; be soft to woman; do not drink or go for adultry; keep strict balance in bussiness without bargaining;do not allow interest system of banking; rather keep the customer equally sharer to profit and loss; before you eat something let you see immedaitely whether your neigbhor had something to eat?lie not nor stealth;love and obey your parents even if they are athiests.these simple moral codes are itself gurantee of peace and brotherhood. muslims by and large not following it can;t be strictly identified with the teachings of Islamic faith. individual act away from the teachings of faith can;t be treated a curse on faith. instances are numberless; hitler just on his individual temper perpretrated cruelty on humanity as also in recent times serbs inflicted unimaginable cruelty on muslims just under the toxication of extreme nationalisim can;t be linked to their religious faith.Most surprisingly; athiests fully supported author of satanic verses thus created partial conflict in their rationalisim as: athiests do not believe in existence of God which also means When God does not exist so does not the satan; then why to support something satanic which is far away from the basic concept of athiest. human conduct is often in conflict with his ideology or faith which when examined needs to be seggeregated from each other.thanks

Dale said...

Nazir, Thanks for commenting. I'll make a couple of points. (1) Based on what I've read, Islam condemns homosexuality and demands that gay people to be punished. Certainly many committed and well-versed Muslims take that view. Do you have sources -- Koranic passages, for instance -- that say otherwise? If so, point them out. (2) The defense of Salmon Rushdie is the defense of free speech and free thought. I don't care about Satan nor believe in Satan, but I do care about people being able to write as they please without physical threat.

nazir_bht@yahoo.com said...

Mr. dale: thanks for repeating your stand against religions.regarding homosexuality; you being science beliver and also rationalist you know it prety well that all un-natural method of sex including homosexuality is medically prohibited.thus; with; without; and inspite of its prohibition in religion ; you ought to have straightway belived in its negative effects.nevertheless; in the holy scripture of jews as also repeated in holy quran one community known as "community of looth"were involved in homosexuality at larger scale. the prophet looth came to prohibit the said community from doing such un-natural act treating it as sin; the community of looth persisted with homo trait of sex and as per holy text the entire community got perished in the older geography of isreal.the holy quran quotes it at different places while reminding the quranic generation to learn lesson from nations; communities; people bygone prior to revealation of holy quran.regarding rushdee you have every liberty to defend freedom of speech which is always subsisting with certain limitations. such limitations are even recognised for commoners under law of torts leave alone the religious privilege favouring prophets.i am still curious to know that there are writers and authors who wrote significantly the merits of islam and prophets. why you have more or less shown inclination towards the contemptuous writing of rushdee instead commenting on other authors is a reason reasonably not known to me? thanks