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

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  •  This is a disingenuous argument (0+ / 0-)

    Sure Iraq is an anomoly, but it's the kind of anomoly that might result in violence for political reasons only.  If individuals were carrying out attacks based on Iraq and our drone campaign, it might be reasonable to see it as only politically motivated.

    The point is that there was nothing so violent about our bases in Saudi Arabia that would justify the kind of violence we saw during the 90's through 2001 from Al-Qaeda.  There were economic and political factors to be sure.  Our support of Israel, for example, certainly breeds hatred for us.  However to claim that people willing to commit a suicidal attack killing thousands of innocents has nothing to do with religion, when the killers themselves cite religion as critical to their motivation, is simply distorting reality.  Nobody is claiming that religion is the only factor, but to dismiss it completely is disingenuous.

    Why do you think you know the minds of those who are using it to justify their actions better than they do themselves?

    •  Wow (0+ / 0-)

      How do you think some Americans would react if China forced the US government to allow a Chinese military base in America? Don't you think some Americans would view that as a particularly violent action? And don't you think they might, I dunno, be pissed off enough to attack China with whatever weapons they could get their hands on?

      Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

      by moviemeister76 on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 11:09:30 AM PDT

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      •  Way to completely miss the point again (2+ / 0-)
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        Be Skeptical, Kane in CA

        We don't even need to raise hypotheticals to find Americans willing to commit atrocities for ideological reasons.  Timothy McVeigh obviously comes to mind.  He committed his act based on his paranoid and flawed view of the government.  Obviously right wing paramilitary ideologies were an important factor.

        Why then can we not look at the fundamentalist religious motivation behind Al-Qaeda and related individuals?  Why take Timothy McVeigh's stated motivation at face value, yet completely ignore the stated motivation of those involved in 9/11 or even this most recent individual in Toronto?  What makes religion off limits for discussion?

        •  McVeigh was an atheist (0+ / 0-)

          He only turned back to religion in prison. He did not do it for religion. He did it for other ideological reasons, primarily that he felt that the federal and state governments were encroaching on his freedom. And that's kind of the point. People will use whatever ideology they believe will motivate enough people to help support them. Religion often works really well. But the underlying reasons behind terrorist attacks have nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with feeling threatened by a stronger power.

          Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

          by moviemeister76 on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 11:57:06 AM PDT

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          •  I never claimed that religion played a role (2+ / 0-)
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            Kane in CA, Be Skeptical

            for McVeigh.  Why refuse to address my actual arguments?  My saying that religion plays a critical role for Al-Qaeda is not saying that religion is the root of all terrorism or even most terrorism.

            I mean it's all well and good to say that there are underlying reasons and religion has no role, but you need to actually demonstrate it in the case of Al-Qaeda, when they themselves claim religion as a motivating factor.

            Obviously, since religion is a man made invention, it can be altered as needed to organize individuals.  It can be used by individuals to empower themselves and motivate others.  However, it isn't simply a one way street.  Religious beliefs are ideas after all.  And bad religious ideas, much like any bad idea, can have disasterous consequences.  Disempowered individuals may be attracted to fundamentalism, but that in no way makes fundamentalist absolutist tribal ideas beyond reproach.

            •  The fallacy of your position is that (1+ / 0-)
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              Islam isn't responsible for Al–Qaeda's perverse interpretation of the Koran. The Old Testament/Torah is full of genocidal violence. If I want, I can take that to justify slavery and mass murder of unbelievers. For some Israelis, the oppression of the Palestinians is justified by a few passages from scripture. It's not the scripture's fault, nor that of Judaism in general. An idea can't be blamed for the idiots who misinterpret it. A very small percentage of Muslims are suicide bombers. Nothing in the Koran says it's a good idea to blow yourself up on a bus. But historically, religion has been used by those seeking or holding power to justify their acts. It's a way to claim divine authority and attract supporters. There's nothing special about Islam in that respect. Harris' agenda is fairly transparent.

              I never liked you and I always will.

              by Ray Blake on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 05:45:23 PM PDT

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              •  Bad ideas are common in religious texts (1+ / 0-)
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                Be Skeptical

                Harris has written extensively that the Old Testament/Torah is full of bad ideas as well, such as the advocation of genocidal violence.  Harris' only agenda is to hold religious people and their books accountable for their bad ideas.  If you cherry pick his writing on Islam, sure, you could assume he has some specific anti-Muslim agenda.

                The problem isn't that the fundamentalist misinterprets the text.  The problem more often than not is that they don't accept modern reinterpretations of ancient bad ideas.  In many ways the fundamentalist, whether they be Christian, Muslim or Jewish, is interpreting the text more closely to the way it had been in the past or had been the original intent of the author.  Although suicide bombing is a modern invention, one bad idea advocated in the Koran is that Islam should be global and it should be spread through force if necessary.

                It's disingenous to say that "a few passages" justify the Israeli occupation of Palestine when much of the original Torah is concerned with the establishment of a Jewish state, often via genocidal violence, in a specific location.

                •  The concept of the nation state (1+ / 0-)
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                  didn't exist in 1500 BC, so you'll be hard pressed to find any passages justifying that. In any case, my comment concerned the oppression of the Palestinians and the passages that are commonly quoted by Zionists and the settlers. I think we can agree that the interpretation, reinterpretation or willful misinterpretation of texts written variously in 1500 BC, the first or seventh century AD has been problematic throughout the history of the Abrahamic religions, and Islam is not inherently worse than Christianity or Judaism in that respect.

                  The Muslim world is now and has been for some time in a state of political turmoil as a response to continuing post-colonial intervention in its affairs which has contributed to corruption and extreme income disparity in its regimes. Terrorist/resistance movements, the Iranian Revolution, the Lebanese Civil War, the Iran–Iraq War, the Arab Spring, the Green Revolution and the Syrian Civil War are manifestations of this political upheaval. This instability has created conditions under which radical Islamist movements have proliferated. To say that the Koran and Islam in general are the problem, as Harris claims, is to willfully ignore the political volatility of the region and its historical underpinnings.

                  I never liked you and I always will.

                  by Ray Blake on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 11:04:29 AM PDT

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                  •  Yeah (0+ / 0-)

                    You are right about the concept of a nation state, but clearly much of the Torah was concerned with establishing a ethnically pure homeland for the Jewish people - whoever was already living there be damned.

                    I agree that the political issues, and particularly our role in it, is much more of concern than the fundamentalism problem.  Harris goes astray by ignoring the politics completely.  Where I do agree with him is that religious moderates too often give cover to their own fundamentalists by ignoring or down playing the horrible ideas contained in their texts.  This is by no means a problem isolated to Islam.

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