Wednesday, March 11, 2009

“Islam is not a religion”: one of the mantras of the anti-Islam movement







Introduction:

I continue to be puzzled by an assertion that has become common among many in the still inchoate anti-Islam movementnamely, that “Islam is not a religion”.

Discussion:

There are a few problems with this:

1) Factual: Islam has all the trappings of a religion: it has the symbology (God, demons, angels, etc.); it has eschatology (drawing mostly on the Judaeo-Christian eschatology of a Last Days, Last Judgement, then an afterword divided into Paradise and Hell); and it has the rituals (prayers, pilgrimage, etc.).

2) Traditional: Islam has been regarded as a religion by the majority of Westerners throughout Western historyeven when Westerners were not politically correct they regarded Islam as a religion. (I was able to find, within a few minutes of Googling, three examples of scholars who wrote about Islam in 1896, 1907 and 1913—all three of whom matter-of-factly referred to Islam as a religion.)

3) Logical/Theo-Logical:

a) The implication of this assertion (that “Islam is not a religion”) is that a religion cannot be evil, unjust and dangerous (qualities that characterize Islam), because it is assumed that any and all “religions” must ipso facto be good. Hence, since Islam is not good, it must be automatically disqualified as a “religion”. On what basis exactly does this implication rest? So far, I have not seen an argument offered to justify this implication.

b) In addition, there is a corollary logical problem based on the fallacy of exclusion: the assertion that if A is X, it cannot also be Y, even when the incompatibility of X and Y has not been shown. Example: if Islam is proven to be a geopolitical ideology, then it cannot also be a religion. To which the reasonable person asks: Why can’t it be both?

Any argument defending this mantra of the anti-Islam movement must at least incorporate the analysis articulated above. Absent any argument, one is tempted to conclude that what motivates these particular members of the anti-Islam movement (and they seem to be a majority) is:

1) a sophomoric attitude based on

a) a recognition that among the principles of PC MC which together form the paradigm that persists in irrationally defending Islam is Islam’s status as a religion: this sophomoric attitude basically responds by simplistically asserting that Islam is not a religion, without, however, really addressing the problems of that assertion; and

b) an emotional reflex that wants to deny to Islam anything they perceive as good (cf. #3 above).

2) Influence from PC MC: certain members of the still inchoate anti-Islam movement seem to have hangovers from PC MC affecting their mentation. I have written before about such hangovers affecting asymptotic analysis. Here, the hangover would be in the PC MC notion of all religions and all cultures being good. What the anti-Islam person has done here is retain that notion, then on the basis of that axiom (that any “religion” must ipso facto be good), denies the status of “religion” to Islam.

3) Influence from Christianityprobably most especially evangelical Protestantism (which includes non-denominational Christians who claim they are “not Protestants, just Christians”). In this type of Christianity there is a tendency rather contrary to #2 above: to actually deny the status of “religion” to all non-Christian religions anyway (except Judaism insofar as Judaism is considered to be embryonic Christianity).

Discursus on the Christianity dimension:

The strident position that “Islam is not a religion” is apparently a minority view in Christianity, not only because Christianity has become corrupted by PC MC in the past century or so (increasing with each passing decade into our own), but also because the mainstream Christianities tended to have developed an idea, beginning with the early Patristic theologians, that sees in any expression of religion (or spiritualism relating to divinity) a legitimate inchoate theology at the very least sincerely, if confusedly, groping after the fullest expression of theological truth, Christianity. Thus we see officially expressed in the Catholic catechism, a respect for Islam as a religion cultivating a worship of the same God as the one that Christians worship:

. . .together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day.

The viable alternatives for Christians with regard to Islam are either to understand it as an official heresy (Luther argued in an unofficial capacity that Islam is in effect a subtype of the heresy of Arianism), or as a version of Satanism. Apparently, neither alternative has been sufficiently explored such as to have much of an impact on mainstream Christian theology, catechisms and general lay opinion. Absent any such official stand on Islam, then, the situation did little to prepare Christians when PC MC began corrupting them, since for the most part they had no pre-existing official stand with regard to Islam by which to resist the PC MC mythologization of Islam. From a casual Googling, I found this particular Lutheran synods position on Islam, from which one can see a healthy distancing from Islam with respect to the truth of Christianity based upon the Islamic rejection of Christology. However, this position seems oddly lacking in a clear determination of whether Islam is a bonafide religion or not. The reader must conclude that for this Lutheran synod, Islam is a religion, but is blind to the salvation offered through a divine Jesus Christ. Apparently, for mainstream Christianity, a belief system is not disqualified from the status of “religion” and does not then acquire the status of “heresy” just because that belief system rejects Christology. What these Christians currently and throughout the centuries curiously fail to note, however, is that Islam offers ample evidence of being a heresy—if not even of being an instance of Satanism. This is another complex kettle of fish to explore at a later date.

Conclusion:

Regardless of our discursus above, the modern West has no need for an official Christian pronouncement on the status of Islam, insofar as it is rational to assume that a belief system can be considered a “religion” and at the same time still be considered dangerous, evil and unjust from a sociopolitical perspective. I.e., whether or not Islam is considered a “religion” is irrelevant to our determination of its danger to our societies when that danger reaches the level of seditious terrorism and stealth agendas to further that sedition.

At any rate, if any proponents of the assertion that “Islam is not a religion” would care to offer an actual argument defending that assertionan argument that incorporates my analysis here, I’m all ears. Caveat lector: if you are simply going to reiterate the assertion without offering an argument, or offer a half-assed argument that does not factor in my analysis and forces me to repeat myself, I will not be interested.

14 comments:

Kab-bin-Ashraf said...

Hesp,

I'm glad you addressed this. There seems to have been a resurgence over the past several weeks of Islam critics and JW commenters claiming that Islam is not a religion. Wilders in his speeches in February was claiming that Islam was "not a religion" but a totalitarian ideology. Literally, of course, that is a basic logical error. Whereas many of the more religious JW commenters may wish to dissociate Islam from religion as a kind of reflexive bias, I think Wilders' is not so naive but is intentionally using this dissociation as (1) a rhetorical or persuasive device that exploits a popular view (note that Wilders was previously a speech writer, among other things, so I believe his words were chosen carefully and I do not think he literally believes that Islam is not a religion), and (2) a way of highlighting, for legal and constitutional reasons, Islam's political, legal, and militaristic aspects. Regarding (2), Wilders knows that throughout the Western countries, there are various provisions and protections for religions, such that religion can be used as a kind of shield, behind which one can make all kinds of threatening, hateful, violent expressions that would not otherwise be permitted without that special religious shield. For example, as you are probably aware, Wilders wants the Quran banned in the Netherlands (and he is serious about this and has reiterated this view recently), calling it a "fascist book" like Mein Kampf (which is banned in the Netherlands). Because the Quran is regarded as a religious text, there is no more hope of banning it as there would be of banning the Bible.

I don't think it's necessary for Wilders to go to these excesses rhetorically. All he has to say is that Islam has not only religious but also political and legal aspects, and it is those political and legal elements that ought to be attacked using all available legal and political measures. (The religion can be attacked using other means, e.g., propaganda, robust defense of free expression and apostasy, etc.).

Erich said...

Kab,

I neglected to articulate to a sufficient extent in my essay the apparently pragmatic angle that motivates these anti-Islamic people -- namely, the PC MC and traditionalist defense of religion which these anti-Islamic people are seeking to side-step by simply declaring that Islam is not a religion. I may add a little to my essay to flesh this angle out.

The biggest problem this angle faces is that the conception of Islam as a religion is solidly entrenched in Western and non-Western societies on all levels. It is not merely a PC MC construct, but has solid roots going back centuries. The exceptions to this conception are just that, exception (such as Martin Luther speculating that Islam is really an Arian heresy). Even when we consult a decidedly un-PC scholar of the late 19th century like Tisdall, he was not arguing that Islam is not a religion, but that Islam is just a more or less incoherent (yet socially effective) pastiche of polytheistic cults also assimilating Judaeo-Christian symbology. But polytheism is religion too. Among non-Muslims today, only hard-line Christian evangelicals would deny the status of "religion" to groups variously denoted as polytheistic, pagan, or "animist".

Thus, while it is extraordinarily difficult for the anti-Islam movement to fight various axioms of PC MC, it is even more difficult to try to fight the solidly entrenched conception of Islam as a religion -- so difficult, in fact, that it would be counter-productive. Many in the anti-Islam movement have a curiously child-like view of pragmatism, thinking for example, that if Muslims tried anything in their neck of the woods (e.g., Texas or Georgia), they wouldn't get away with it; or thinking that if something isn't done in 10 years, the world will go up in flames; or thinking that if enough of us in this extremely small minority informally known as the "anti-Islam movement" simply assert that Islam is not a religion, then the world will come to agree with us.

And all this, of course, doesn't even factor in the conceit that underpins all this: that a "religion" must necessarily be a good thing, and that there can be no bad or dangerous religion.

awake said...

I agree that Islam is a religion and also with "kab" that in Wilder's case, he is trying to highlight the political aspects of Islam over the religious for the very same reasons that you stated, as a counter-measure to the reflexive resistence by the PC afflicted and the similarly, strongly religious, circles.

Whether Islam is viewed as a religion or not, it must not maintain the protections that standard religions currently enjoy. This is, quite simply, because Islam is so unique a religion in its external interactional presence that is simply not found in any other major acknowledged world religion.

Most adversity from a religion outside of one's own is that we will are sure to suffer dire eternal consequences and that's it. Not Islam. Islam, through its core doctrinal mandates, goes well beyond any other religion in terms of affecting others outside of their own group.

I agree with your claim Erich, but the question of whether Islam is a religion or not is subordinate in necessity compared to the vital need to accurately portray to non-Muslims that Islam is uniquely pernicious in its individual religiosity.

Nobody said...

Erich

Your first 2 points highlight very well the reason that stopping Islam from being recognized as a religion is next to impossible, particularly #2.

However, for #3b, while Islam can be both a religion and geopolitical ideology, Islam cannot be a religion and a cult, at least in the way people recognize the distinction between the two. Although cult has the following definition, according to Merriam Webster:

Main Entry: cult
Pronunciation: \ˈkəlt\
Function: noun
Usage: often attributive
Etymology: French & Latin; French culte, from Latin cultus care, adoration, from colere to cultivate — more at wheel
Date: 1617
1: formal religious veneration : worship
2: a system of religious beliefs and ritual ; also : its body of adherents
3: a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious ; also : its body of adherents
4: a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator {health cults}
5 a: great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book) ; especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad b: the object of such devotion c: a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion

the fact remains that most people associate cult with definition #3 above more than #1 or #2. So if Islam was demonstrated as a cult (as Ali Sina did, then it at least undermines the perception of Islam as a religion, at least in the sense of the word about religion being good vs cult being bad, even though under definitions #1 & #2 above, cults can fall under sub-categories of religion.

In other words, from a PR POV, if one makes the case publicly that Islam is more akin to the Moonies or Aum Shinrikyo (the Japanese cult that once released poison gas in a Tokyo subway), then regardless of the semantic term used, Islam will be thought of more in the same category as the above, instead of alongside Christianity and Judaism. That would achieve at least the PR victory in the campaign against Islam, even though Islam would constitutionally continue to have the same first amendment protections as Christianity & Judaism. However, if this PR victory can be achieved, it goes a long way in overrunning the PCMC mentality of the public wrt Islam: if they saw it as a cult rather than as a religion, they'd treat it more like Scientology than like Christianity.

There'd then be the issue of Islam as a non-Western entity that might make it more attractive to the PCMC crowd. However, it's probably unarguable that just as PCMC types would be less hospitable to Western cults than to Western religions, they'd be less hospitable to non-Western cults than non-Western religions.

Nobody said...

Kab: I don't think it's necessary for Wilders to go to these excesses rhetorically. All he has to say is that Islam has not only religious but also political and legal aspects, and it is those political and legal elements that ought to be attacked using all available legal and political measures. (The religion can be attacked using other means, e.g., propaganda, robust defense of free expression and apostasy, etc.).

Kab

Only problem with your suggested approach is that one is then left with 2 difficulties:

1. De-coupling the political and supremacist aspects of Islam from its 'religious' aspects.

2. Not only convincing Muslims themselves of the authenticity of such an approach, in the face of centuries of Islamic doctrinal practice, but convincing ourselves that enough of them are so convinced.

Problem w/ #1, as you yourself have so exhaustively analyzed, is that there is very little 'good' in Islamic doctrine particularly when examined in context. Since the greatest good in Islam is enhancing the influence of Islam, and the greatest evil is undermining it, such a project would be a miscarriage before even it was underway.

#2 is downright impossible, without re-colonizing every Muslim country, re-writing Islamic texts and then forcefeeding it down everybody's throats. In fact, the latter itself is impossible. And to make things worse, the second part of that - convincing ourselves that it's working will be too easy to do, given how taquiyya is second nature to them.

Since he had already started with the docu-clip Fitna by citing Qur'anic verses and juxtaposing them with activities and statements of Muslims (in his case, in the Netherlands), he is logically doing the right thing by making the claim he is making, and driving home those points. As we noted in the JW thread the other day, I do disagree with him on his insistence of a distinction between Islam and Muslims, and hope that he'd reconsider, particularly if he reads JW, but aside from that, I think he has the right approach.

Even though I largely agree with Erich in this essay that the idea of Islam as a religion is unassailable due to centuries of acceptance of that 'fact', and therefore, probably tougher than even demonstrating that Islam is evil, Muslims are supremacist, et al, I do think, as I pointed out in the last message that Islam can be re-positioned as a cult, and therefore alter the perceptions in the minds of 'a religion must be good' people not influenced by PCMC that associates Islam with Christianity or Judaism, and instead with cults like Scientology. (A major improvement, since L Ron Hubbard didn't do 95% of the things that Mohammed did)

Kab-bin-Ashraf said...

Nobody,

Wilders can avoid some cognitive dissonance by continuing to call it a totalitarian ideology, or even just an ideology, without denying that it is a religion. As long as he keeps saying Islam is not a religion, his credibility is going to be weakened somewhat. I still think it is an unnecessary rhetorical excess. I think he's losing more than he gains by making a spurious distinction.

N: “3: a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious ; also : its body of adherents

N: the fact remains that most people associate cult with definition #3 above more than #1 or #2.”

By definition 3, any religion could be called a cult by members of other religions or by the non-religious generally. (This does, in fact, happen). I don’t see how this kind of labeling is advantageous.

N: “Only problem with your suggested approach is that one is then left with 2 difficulties:

N: 1. De-coupling the political and supremacist aspects of Islam from its 'religious' aspects.”

I would agree that the religious, political, and other aspects are all part of the same system. Yet we can target elements of the ideology, such as sharia, and ban them and abolish them legally in the West or in other non-Muslim countries. If we are able to ban sharia, and take additional steps to protect critics and apostates, we will weaken the entire system of Islam, for what keeps Islam together is not the religio-spiritual aspects, but rather it is the political, legal, social, and militaristic aspects that hold it together.

Banning sharia is not the be-all-and-end-all. (As I've said before, I advocate a broad range of methods for opposing Islam, and I welcome any further ideas on how we can do this). It is rather the start, to get people engaged in the process of opposing Islam, without framing it as such. We need to pick our battles carefully to make sure we get as much support as we can.

N: “#2 is downright impossible, without re-colonizing every Muslim country, re-writing Islamic texts and then forcefeeding it down everybody's throats.”

I’m not talking about conquering Muslim countries. My comments regarding Geert’s rhetoric were about dealing with the Muslim population in the West and, by extension, in other predominantly non-Muslim countries of the world, where Muslims are rapidly increasing in numbers and political and social influence.

N: “As we noted in the JW thread the other day, I do disagree with him on his insistence of a distinction between Islam and Muslims, and hope that he'd reconsider, particularly if he reads JW, but aside from that, I think he has the right approach.”

There are legal reasons (in the Netherlands) why he has to distinguish between Muslims and Islam in his public expressions.

Nobody said...

Kab: By definition 3, any religion could be called a cult by members of other religions or by the non-religious generally. (This does, in fact, happen). I don’t see how this kind of labeling is advantageous.

I was talking about the population at large, not some fanatical adherents in different places. Like most people consider Scientology a cult, and a while ago, a poll on the favorability/unfavorability of different religions showed it as getting more negative ratings than Islam, which itself was net negative. Most people in their minds draw clear distinctions between religions and cults, even though dictionary wise, the latter is a subset of the former.

I'm talking about the ground reality here. If Islam is successfully demonstrated as a cult and is accepted as such by the Infidel public at large, it neatly side-steps the 'Islam is not a religion' mantra, while at the same time achieving what those who make that claim seek to accomplish. The advantage of this approach is that it captures the objections Erich raised above in #1 & #2, but even while accomodating them, gives Islam a negative aura that it doesn't have when being considered a religion.

Kab: Banning sharia is not the be-all-and-end-all. (As I've said before, I advocate a broad range of methods for opposing Islam, and I welcome any further ideas on how we can do this). It is rather the start, to get people engaged in the process of opposing Islam, without framing it as such. We need to pick our battles carefully to make sure we get as much support as we can.

Agree with this.

Kab: There are legal reasons (in the Netherlands) why he has to distinguish between Muslims and Islam in his public expressions.

He's in trouble with the Dutch legal system anyway, regardless of whether he draws such distinctions or not. For one thing, he rightly advocates filtering in Muslim immigration, not even a cessation of Muslim immigration, and just that has earned him the 'Islamophobe' label. It's also a distinction w/o a difference: what is a Muslim, if not somebody who belongs to the belief system/religion called Islam? Belief systems don't do damage on their own: their enablers/carriers do. Anybody legally challenging the grounds Wilders is operating on can easily make a good case that by attacking Islam, Wilders is making it difficult for Muslims to practice it. What would Wilders do in response - list which Islamic activities are okay, and which ones aren't?

As far as the legal implications go, Wilders should instead tune his campaign to the wider issue of erosion of the freedom of expression in Europe in general, and Netherlands in particular, while letting his anti-Islamic campaign be drawn independently with the goal of winning the maximum support of the public. In fact make these 2 the #1 issue of his election campaign, and enhance the popularity of the PVV which is already ahead in opinion polls.

Erich said...

Nobody,

On the "cult" angle, I agree to some extent that it would help if the mainstream came around to regarding Islam as a cult.

However, there would be difficulties with that:

1) While it would be easier to get people to regard Islam as a cult rather than getting them to agree that Islam is "not a religion", it would still be very difficult: all other "cults" are

a) small in number, and even thought Scientology, for example, has branches all over the place, they are tiny compared with Islam

and

b) recent in invention -- indeed, have an "invented" feel about them, whereas Islam seems more like a "natural" historical growth because it's so old and is so woven into the histories of world peoples

Thus, similar roadblocks would present themselves to applying the cult label to Islam, since in certain ways it would be unique among all cults (definition #3 as you presented it) in history.

2) Furthermore, Islam's "ethnic" appearance to the PC MCs would render it largely protected either from negative aspects of the cult label, or from the effort at re-defining Islam into a cult in the first place. Consider that for many of the PC MCs, "religion" is already a pejorative (certainly when that nasty adjective "organized" is affixed to it). What is really going on here is that White Religion (Christianity, Judaism) is bad, but Brown Religion (Islam, and other "native" religions) is cool. You would think that merely calling Islam a "religion" would suffice for the anti-religion attitude of so many Leftists and PC MCs; and yet they behave irrationally by granting Muslims deference even in religious contexts that they would never grant Christians and Jews (even the strict Church-State Separationist atheist Left tends to coddle Muslims who want prayers in schools, etc.)

To reiterate my opening statement, I'm not saying it would be impossible, nor that it's not better than the "not a religion" stance; but I think you are underestimating how difficult it would be. It might be sufficiently difficult to make such an effort acquire pretty much the same weaknesses and liabilities that the "not a religion" effort does.

George guy said...

I tend to think that the statement "Islam is not a religion" is an inept, though not entirely inaccurate, description. What Islam is, is a kind of unified ideology that merges its theology with a socio-political system. These aspects are not separable from one another, even though the separation of religion and state is usually taken for granted in Western societies. We and our language have grown accustomed to treating religion and state as two largely separate spheres, and we have no trouble at all distinguishing them. What is causing tremendous trouble to Western society is the fact that we have grown so used to distinguishing those two spheres as separate that we fail to recognize when an ideological system rejects this notion entirely.

When I occasionally try to study a language, one of the things I find most fascinating is when they have no native word for a particular concept, which indicates that the speakers' culture lacks the ability to really talk about the subject or think about it. It literally is not in their vocabulary. Such is the problem with Western culture now and its various tongues, including English. We can describe in so many words a unified totalitarian system that inseparably merges religion and state, using the arm of the law to enforce its prescriptions for religious observance, to suppress differing faiths, and to support such practices as slavery and abusive misogyny.

We call Islam a religion because we do not have another word that describes what Islam is in addition to being a religion. To say Islam is not a religion is sloppy language; it is a religion but not just a religion— it is equally sloppy to say that Islam is a religion without illuminating how it is different from the other religions that allowed Western culture to develop the prejudices of PCMC in the first place. To simply call Islam a religion and leave it at that is to allow it to be grouped with other religions— and for the purpose of considering how governments ought to deal with the religious sphere, there absolutely must be a distinction made between religions that are compatible with secular government and those that are not.

What word to use? Theocracy is insufficient. I want something that can be spat as a curse word, that isn't associated with things that might be argued to be considerably better than Islam. Theocracy is off the table to avoid debates of comparison with other historical theocracies (e.g. Israel in the period of the judges). Something else must better encompass the misogynist slaver-marauder mentality promulgated in the Koran and the examples of Muhammad (police be upon him).

Next for consideration is a natural choice, being one of their words: caliphate. The word precisely applies to the system to which Muslims are commanded to aspire: a totalitarian theocratic state with slavery for unbelievers and women. The only problem is that while it has the best potential, it does not say very much to those uneducated about Islam.

Which leaves one last suggestion: cultocracy. Government exclusively of the Faithful, exclusively by the Faithful, and exclusively for the Faithful, leaving everyone else's very lives to the whims of the Faithful. Might get some mileage out of that one.

Erich said...

George guy,

I agree with most of what you said, with two important exceptions:

"What is causing tremendous trouble to Western society is the fact that we have grown so used to distinguishing those two spheres as separate that we fail to recognize when an ideological system rejects this notion entirely."

You're correct that Western civilization has developed religion-state separation to the point of being a dominant paradigm for organizing society; however, where I think you err is in thinking the PC MC mentality is unable to recognize systems that reject religion-state separation: in fact, the PC MC mentality has shown itself able to detect the slightest infractions of religion-state separation when it comes to Christianity (and slightly less so with Judaism). So an evolved inability to recognize religion-state separation cannot explain why they seem uncomprehending of Islam's fusion of religion and state. What is afoot here is the exertion of another axiom in the PC MC paradigm: reverse racism, by which non-white and non-Western cultures are given special preferences not accorded to what is perceived as white cultures and systems. Add to that the fact that Muslims, uniquely among all non-white non-Western cultures, have imbued the sociopolitical atmosphere with violence and threats of violence along with constant demands to remind the West to "respect" them as an ethnic minority, and you have the recipe for an irrational and unfair -- but powerfully effective -- double standard.

The other disagreement I have is with the efficacy of your coinage "cultocracy". Your argument for it is cogent in most respects, but as I argued in my comment to "Nobody" above, I think the PC MC resistance to affixing anything to do with "cult" to Islam will likely run into roadblocks, if not as severe as the "not a religion" attempts, nevertheless sufficient to render our efforts useless, if not counter-productive.

George guy said...

Erich:

You are certainly correct, at least to a large degree, that reverse racism is the dominant pathology behind the low resistance of Western PCMC to Islam. But I cannot help but consider that this perspective is still enabled somewhat by the PCMC mindset's unwillingness to assess the doctrinal core of a religious ideology.

The PCMC mind is so capable of perceiving threats to the division of religion and state that it sometimes perceives so in cases where nothing of consequence is really happening. What the PCMC mind cannot handle so well is the idea that there can be such a thing as a religion whose doctrinal core rejects the division of religion and state. The reflexive reaction when faced with, for instance, the anti-liberal texts of the Quran, is something to the effect of "Well, surely most mainstream sects do not take that passage literally." The PCMC mind can recognize people who demonstrate, or appear to demonstrate, an intent to overthrow the separation of religion and government, but these people are labeled extremists and "a radical minority", thus maintaining the fantasy that the religion itself is generally of equal moral benefit as compared to any other religion.

The PCMC mindset assumes all religions are morally equivalent, and it is able to rationalize that assumption by asserting that any problematic passage in any religion's doctrinal core is just a non-literal interpretation away from not being a problem anymore. It is this part, the religious doctrinal core, that I would say the PCMC culture is incapable of judging, and reverse racism the primary reason why what judgments they are capable of making are heavily biased against Christianity and Judaism.

As for cultocracy, you have a point in that people will be turned off by applying any form of the word cult to Islam, which is why I think it probably would be better on the whole to borrow the most applicable Arabic word that describes the unified totalitarian nature of Islam.

Erich said...

George guy,

"I cannot help but consider that this perspective is still enabled somewhat by the PCMC mindset's unwillingness to assess the doctrinal core of a religious ideology."

Remember that PCMC is irrational.

"The PCMC mind is so capable of perceiving threats to the division of religion and state that it sometimes perceives so in cases where nothing of consequence is really happening."

Only with Christianity and Judaism. One harmless Christmas creche on a public square becomes a mortal threat, but the prospect of "ethnic" Muslims with their cool Third World culture spreading prayer mats to pray at designated times in a public school is no problem. The PC MCs are selectively vigilant about religion-state separation.

"The reflexive reaction when faced with, for instance, the anti-liberal texts of the Quran, is something to the effect of "Well, surely most mainstream sects do not take that passage literally." "

I agree. I have noted this before as a super-imposition upon Muslims and upon Islam of the Western model of religious evolution, whereby in the West, religion has evolved to become subservient to a secular public order, and so it is axiomatically assumed that this must also apply to Islam and to Muslims (with sometimes slight concessions of differences in degree insufficient to warrant any concern). The PC MCs and Leftists are therefore being unwittingly paternalistic and Occidentalist in presuming that Muslims must think like Westerners.

"The PCMC mindset assumes all religions are morally equivalent"

Actually, I have become convinced that behind the equivalencist relativism of PCMC lies a perversely reverse absolutist claim that in fact, to put it bluntly, "we are worse than they are". And this is deeper and broader than merely a comparison of religions, extending into a comparison of cultures and of civilizations. See my recent essay on Montaigne:

Montaigne: Godfather of PC MC?


"and it is able to rationalize that assumption by asserting that any problematic passage in any religion's doctrinal core is just a non-literal interpretation away from not being a problem anymore."

Yes, that's part of that super-imposition of the Western model upon Islam. This doesn't prevent PC MCs and Leftists from being inconsistent, since their paradigm is irrational and allows for inconsistencies and incoherencies. Thus, you will often find them wringing their hands in anxiety about Christian "extremists" even though at the same time and in other contexts they acknowledge that Christianity has been tamed by modern secularism, and their use of the Western model (to bolster their assumption that most Muslims are, like us, more or less not religiously fanatical) presumes the success of the secularization of Western societies and thus the victory of secularism over Christianity in the sociopolitical sphere. This irrational inconsistency, when the PC MC person or the Leftist is pressed on it, often triggers in them the logical extension of it, and they will in effect say that the dangers of Christian "extremism" are far worse than any dangers, probably manufactured by "neo-cons" anyway, stemming from Islamic extremism.

"As for cultocracy, you have a point in that people will be turned off by applying any form of the word cult to Islam, which is why I think it probably would be better on the whole to borrow the most applicable Arabic word that describes the unified totalitarian nature of Islam."

That might be a good idea, but I don't think "Caliphate" has enough negative connotations to the PC MC mentality, and certainly will run into roadblocks from the influential "myth of Andalus" among PC MCs. I'll try to think of some alternative along these lines.

Blode0322 said...

I myself haven't heard anyone claim that Islam isn't a religion. It is a strange claim for the reasons you've mentioned. My gut reaction to it is that people are making this claim as a way of trying to take away protection Islam gets from our broad conception of freedom of religion.

Naturally, an ideology could just as easily get protection under free expression, but freedom of religion is, perhaps not surprisingly, considered more sacred than freedom of expression. (And "freedom of expression" is not mentioned per se in the US Constitution.) But you've refuted the "not a religion" case handily and I'll not preach to the choir.

Another thought: I've made a case on occasion which could be mistaken for saying "Islam is not a religion" by someone not paying attention. Basically, I've echoed the Emperor Manuel II: Islam as a religion is extremely derivative on Judeo-Christian thought. A lot of what seems "uniquely Islamic" seems to disappear when the words are translated: Allah becomes "The God", djinni become "evil spirits", etc. Other things are simple geographical bias - pray to Mecca instead of just praying, etc.

What is original in Islam tends to be politico-military. I am no expert on Islam, of course, so these are mostly just impressions, but I sensed an element of "truth hurts" in the Muslim reaction to the comments of Pope Benedict XVI.

Blode0322 said...

(Okay, so that's what I get for reading only the OP and not comments - I repeat in less detail what everybody else already said!)

As I've said before, I advocate a broad range of methods for opposing Islam, and I welcome any further ideas on how we can do this.

One strategy I believe in is: develop a broad consensus for liberal civic rules and laws, and then stand by them shamelessly. ("Liberal" in one sense or another). Make our extremely un-Islamic conception of divorce utterly clear - and don't budge an inch. Emphasize how much pork there is in Western food, and suggest that, in the era of genetic modification, there "could be pork [proteins] in [almost] anything nowadays". Think of the alcohol in over-the-counter cough syrups and even homeopathic remedies! The goal would be to make the West seem unpalatable and dangerous places for immigrants. It would be nice to get them to leave, but if immigration were reduced too, that would great.

A European country (I seem to remember it was the Netherlands) featured same-sex couples holding hands on the videos shown to new immigrants, something along the lines of "You don't have to like it, but you do have to tolerate it ... if you're going to live in this country." I think that approach should be maximized. I'd especially like to see some sort of communication, probably in video, from a Christian or Jew who doesn't like homosexuality, divorce, or abortion, explaining how we handle these sorts of disagreement in the West (i.e, by debate and suasion rather than riots).

But to do so assumes the problem is solved rather than actually solving it - because PC MC always demands that we not be proud, shameless, or uncompromising in our culture, even when our culture has already been reshaped along progressive lines. So the people who demanded liberalized divorce and abortion when those things were opposed by Christians will suddenly find that when Muslims come on the scene, PC MC demands criticism of the West rather than defense of progress.

The whole thing worries me.