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View Diary: Thoughts on the Greenwald/Harris debate over Islam (129 comments)

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  •  Right (2+ / 0-)
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    Kane in CA, Be Skeptical

    Except that certain beliefs are unique to fundamentalist Islam.  It does no one any good to smear someone with ad hominem attacks when they point out, for example, that no other religions make credible threats of death for people completely outside the religion whose only crime is to insult that religion.  Saying all religions are the same is simply not a true statement.  All religions can be perverted or used to justify violence, but the beliefs matter as well.

    He never claimed that "Muslims lack honesty."  He made the argument that it is dishonest to dismiss the role of beliefs themselves which we too often see people do when it comes to fundamentalist Islam.  Clearly you've only read the critique of his writing since those statements that you claim he made are actually distortions made by critics.

    The problem with Sam Harris is he is singularly focussed on the role of religious belief.  It certainly leads him to misunderstand the nature of terrorism.  But why smear him rather than grapple with his actual arguments?

    •  Bullshit (1+ / 0-)
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      JDsg

      go tell me that were fundamentally different beliefs in Judaism when Gush Emunim Underground were bombing Palestinian mayors or Baruch Goldstein was mass killing Muslims in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Or tell me there is something fundamentally different about Christianity when Anders Brevik when he was killing children in Norway or the Ku Klux Klan when they were lynching young black men in the south. Then go look up the FBI stats on terrorism by religion in the USA and come back to me and tell me that there is something unique to fundamentalist Islam. To ignore the horrific crimes committed in the names of many religions throughout history by saying there is something unique in the beliefs of Muslims is total and utter rubbish. Why don't you and Harris try understanding what Islam is first before you make crackpot assertions with no basis in fact that are actually racist and would be considered so when applied to religions you and he 'like' more such as Judaism or CHristianity, which I'm assuming is the gold standard to which you are holding Islam. But a very shaky gold standard it is.

      •  would you prefer your daughters to grow up in (0+ / 0-)

        a society that adheres to strict Islamic law, like Saudi Arabia, or the Comoros, or Yemen, or much of Pakistan and Afghanistan, or a society that is primarily Christian or Jewish or Buddhist that has a secular government and legal system?  Don't forget that it is not only "extremist Muslims" who believe we should have a society run under Islamist principals.

        If you were an artist or writer or film maker with a penchant for satire, where would you prefer to work?

        If you were gay, where would you prefer to work and live the life of your choice?

        Think about it.  This isn't about race.

        •  I'm from the Middle East (1+ / 0-)
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          JDsg

          and I plan to return there. It's home, for all the violence and heartbreak it has caused me. So yes, I would live in the Middle East. I am heavily critical of the actions of some Arab regimes, which definitely includes the Gulf States. But that is something that I share with many other Arabs and Muslims - many people I know agree with me that the source of many of the problems in the Arab world is Saudi Arabia. That is based on their politics and policies, not some uniquely negative thing about their religion. The fact that you can't distinguish that there are different politics and laws and cultures in the different Muslim countries that encompass about 1.4 billion people, nor understand the beauty and joy of Arabic and Levantine culture is your loss.

          The situation of women in the Muslim world is not as bad as in Saudi Arabia, which is an outlier. Even in more conservative Gulf countries you have female politicians and businesswomen (a relative of mine is in business with a Kuwaiti woman) and I have many female friends and relatives working in the Gulf who are quite senior positions in finance and IT. In the recent uprisings in the Arab world, there have been 2 women who have made the headlines for taking the lead - one is a Bahraini and one is a Yemeni. I was recently involved in an Arab women's dialogue where I met with a Saudi woman who was head of a department in the health ministry where we discussed the growing participation of women in the workforce. There is still much more work to be done but in many factors such as domestic violence, pay equity, education levels, etc you'll find many Arab countries have rates comparable with the US and western countries.

          As for your implied superiority of Buddhist, Jewish and Christian countries - look at what those countries are doing now. How many Iraqis and Afghanis have those Christian countries killed? And just how are Muslims currently being treated in the US? Just how have Jews in Israel been treating Palestinians for the last 60+ years? And how are Sinhalese and Buddhists in Myanmar treating Muslims? Have you seen pictures of Buddhist monks attacking Muslims there?

          We have had several kossacks who are Arab and gay (sadly they no longer choose to post here) and they will tell you that there is a thriving gay subculture in many Arab cities (I have a gay cousin in Beirut) and gay groups who are trying to improve the situation of LGBTs in their countries.

          I wasn't blessed with children but I'm sure that the Afghani and Iraqi parents did not want their children growing up under American bombs and drones.

          So yeah, it is about race and it's also about fear and ignorance.  It's about using your fears to obscure your own mind to just how brutally America and its allies have treated Muslims, how Americans have killed far more Muslims than vice-versa (and a lot of it based on lies like in Iraq) and that the fears and hysteria created re: Islam stop people from seeing that in fact large groups of Muslims have actually been oppressed by Americans and their allies. It's about how you would look upon a Christian killer and a Muslim killer and say that the former is just one person whereas the latter is an expression of a religion of which you disapprove.

          •  I appreciate your perspective about women (0+ / 0-)

            living in a predominantly Muslim society.  It was useful to hear that and I will keep that in mind.

            However, you must recognize you know nothing about me or my political views.  You know nothing of my anti-war work which goes back decades, and which included a very active role in trying to stop the insane war in Iraq.  My views of Islam are not particularly based on a fear of terrorism. which, however, I still believe is the major cause of "Islamophobia" or whatever you want to call it  I still believe terrorism has not been adequately addressed by moderate Muslims.  Calling attention to the war in Iraq is legitimate, but of course President Obama has now withdrawn combat troops.  We will see how long the violence within Iraq continues.  At any rate few Americans will be swayed to be more pro-Muslim by that argument.  The 9/11 attacks occurred before Iraq and Afghanistan, and continuing attacks and planned attacks against ordinary Americans attending sporting events or seeing a play in Times Square just further erode whatever goodwill remains.  

            Instead my views are based on my perception of an intolerance among believers in Islam that exceeds that of other faiths.  I do not know whether it comes from their interpretation of your holy texts, but the intolerance is very real.  New data frequently becomes available to reinforce that perception.  This perception of intolerance is very widely held, not just by Americans.  Intolerance is generally one of the things I most dislike about religion.  The thought of a society run under Islamic law is my idea of a dystopia.  So my attitude about Islam is not about race (after all, there are many Muslims of every race), but rather an intolerance of intolerance.  I will not yield on that.

            •  Look (1+ / 0-)
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              JDsg

              I don't know anything about you but I also think you know very little about the Arab and Muslims world, as well as Islam, if you hold the views you do. You still blame Islam and all Muslims for something that a very small group of Muslims do. Like I said earlier, would you respond this way if it was a christian or Jewish terrorist?

              You say that they haven't been against this violence to the level necessary to please you. Perhaps your perception is wrong? CAIR comes out every time there is a violent episode and condemns it. Is that not enough for you? Is that not evidence that they are against terrorism? Or what about the recent study of opinions of Muslims which showed that 94% of Muslims (based on about 50,000 interviews) condemn terrorism, even the 'Muslim' variant? Is that not evidence enough for you? I note that you and others responding to me here don't actually produce the evidence to support their assertions because if you did, you might have to change opinions which are, at minimum, problematic.  

              But no, you still choose to not see that evidence and generalise to a group or its religion based on the activities of a few of that group. If in doubt, replace Christian or Jew for Muslim and see what you come up with.

              If these views are as widely held in the US as you say, then the US is just as ignorant and fearful as when blacks were being oppressed. I have lived with Muslims for many years, have Muslim friends and have several family members married to Muslims. My own life shows that intolerance is not part of Islam but may be a feature (once again) of a small group of Muslims (just like it might be with small groups of Christians  or Jews etc). The millions of Muslims living as minorities in the US and elsewhere also show that Islam nor Muslims as a while are not inherently intolerant. Now you can either yield to the evidence or not yield.

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