Friday, September 16, 2011

A Muslim forum that supposedly encourages debate with non-Muslims and self-critical analysis

A few weeks ago, I joined a forum called The Islam Factor which, as my title indicates, supposedly encourages debate with non-Muslims and self-critical analysis. That's not all the forum does -- it's also evidently a place for Muslims to network in various ways amongst themselves. But the fact that they offer the former at all, was for me a glimmer of hope for at least some faint resemblance of an actual discussion.

Unsurprisingly, I've been disappointed in my time there. I have created a few threads to try to spark debate, but have either (typically) received tart ripostes of hypersensitive umbrage, vague platitudes with little substance, or -- most often -- no response at all.

One of the threads I created there, for example, I titled "Giving Up Hope on Islam" (posted in the section called "The Cage"), in which I articulated (with rhetorical generousness) how I am this close to giving up hope entirely on Muslims, and what I need to see from them to begin to rekindle hope for dialogue. The predictable response has been as I described above. And for the last several days I have seen nothing there but tumbleweeds blowing across an empty landscape of Muslim indifference.

Another thread I created -- in the amusingly named section called "The Crescent Consortium", where they more frontally invite "inter-faith" discussions -- was titled "Where is the Public Argument Between Muslims?". I introduced that thread with the point that we non-Muslims do not see the supposedly Good Muslims debate the Bad Muslims -- when, in fact, particularly since the Good Muslims are supposed to be the vast majority in the Muslim world, we should be seeing frequent, regular, direct, public and substantive debates based solidly in Islamic texts and laws -- debates that substantiate for us non-Muslims the claims the Good Muslims are always making, about how Islam is sugar & spice and everything nice and that all (or most) Muslims are good people; and debates which humiliate and expose the Bad Muslims for, in fact, not following Islam.

But, of course, we never see this.

And, of course, my thread received the predictable non-responses (including silence) from all the Muslims at The Islam Factor supposedly eager to engage in "inter-faith" discussions.

In that same thread, I noted the problem of the meme of the Tiny Minority of Extremists, and its logical corollary -- that the vast majority of Muslims must be relatively good decent people. If this is true, I posed, then why isn't this vast majority stopping the tiny minority? Surely, it should be relatively easy to do so. But we see no signs of the vast majority even trying to do so.

To this, a well-intentioned asymptotic non-Muslim member of the forum responded with a more or less Pipesian comment:

"It's a minority, I believe, but a
significant minority."

To which I responded:

Any hypothesis (and that's all it is) of a putative "minority" of bad Muslims has to account for the massive, widespread, near-universal phenomenon of the supposed majority of good Muslims doing nothing to stop the bad Muslims.

Not only do the good Muslims do nothing (with exceptions so rare they prove the rule) on a physical level (which, since they supposedly vastly outnumber them, should be relatively easy to do), they do nothing on a legal level, a political level, a theological level and an ideological level (the latter two involving
robust debates where the good Muslims demonstrate directly to the bad Muslims -- with massive textual evidence from 1) the Koran, 2) the Sunnah (including the Hadiths), and 3) the Figh -- how the bad Muslims are Islamically wrong).

Again, just to pre-empt a common caveat that comes up (indeed, Rhoda did so above): a majority, a vast majority, can surely deal with physical threats and intimidation from a putative small minority (however "significant" that minority is).

(And this business of a "significant" minority employs a rather vague fudge factor that seems to be having its cake and eating it too:

a) on the one hand, this "significant" minority is small enough to spare the analyst from the "prejudice" and "bigotry" of condemning too many Muslims

b) on the other hand, the "significant" part is supposed to add just enough weight and meat to lend some no-nonsense credibility of realism to the analyst, to show that he is taking the problem seriously.

The only problem with this is that it smells like a manipulating device, rather than an actual response to the data -- the horrible systemic data -- of Muslims following their Islam.)

Back to my main thesis:

The fact that this has not taken place -- "this" being everything I articulated in my first paragraph above -- and that more often than not what we get from good Muslims is what we see here on The Islam Factor -- prevarications, obfuscations, surly unresponsive remarks that take hypersensitive prickly umbrage at the critic and questioner rather than a sincere show of responsive concern in good faith; or, more often as I have learned from my time here, no response at all -- demonstrates that at the very least the majority of Muslims are more or less passively enabling (and thus doing nothing to stop, when they could easily do so) the evil and dangerous monstrosity which Islam is textually and historically, and which the supposed "minority" (however "tiny" or "significant" it is) is trying to revive.

And when these unresponsive and evasive tactics are not deployed by Muslims, what we see more often than not from Muslims, when we ask them to address the systemic problem their Islam obviously manifests, are elaborate displays of vague platitudes about how "Islam is peaceful" and "We are against terrorism" without ever tangibly, concretely, substantively, directly dealing with our numerous important concerns about Islam and the systemic problems it is causing the world. Enough is enough. We need to see some substance from Muslims now.


Hesperado said...

Note for the readers:

When I wrote that final sentence (and in my opening paragraph when I wrote about the "glimmer of hope"), I didn't mean it literally; I meant it rhetorically.

Sagunto said...

Hesp -

What I always appreciated about your comments at GoV, was your unwavering focus on other enablers of Islam besides "socialists" and "leftists". Now, it's all back to the narrowing soundbites reducing an immensely complicated and indeed multilayered situation to a mere epiphenomenon of "cultural Marxism", with Islam not even being described as a core problem or an existential threat anymore.

See what I mean?

Thought I'd drop by to let you know.

Take care,

Hesperado said...

Thanks Sagunto. I have been remiss in reading GOV for quite some time now. If what you describe is accurate, it would be their logical unfolding of their long-standing implications about what they consider to be the "real problem"; with Islam as merely an epiphenomenon thereof.

Hesperado said...


That link you gave certainly goes a long way to substantiating what you say, and what I have long suspected about GOV.

Your comment there, however, seems to indicate you share in certain aspects of their gloomy doomsaying.

Sagunto said...

Hesperado -

"seems to indicate.."

You said it right, seems.. but not quite.

The main focus on GoV is on "cultural Marxism" and "leftism". I'm calling attention to the way the welfare state, which is non-ideological to a high extent (the dogma of dirigism notwithstanding), how this bureaucratic machine operates. So naturally, the focus shifts to economic history and praxis.
No doomsaying but most certainly also no cheerleading where this system of legalized plunder (Bastiat) is concerned.

Of course, between us, we share a massive difference of opinion on this point, but that in no way diminishes my appreciation for your countless efforts at GoV to widen their perspective and explain why the PC/MC infection is widespread, way beyond leftism.

Kind regs from Amsterdam,

Hesperado said...


Yes, it seems your position is a kind of a hybrid between mine and the GOV/Austerian. You reject the simplistic delimitation of the Western problem into mere "Leftism/liberalism" and appreciate the broader dimensions of it -- at least politically.

I don't think, however, that you fully appreciate the broader dimensions of it sociologically from a Western perspective which, perforce, would have to assume that most Westerners are a) not sheep, and b) relatively decent and intelligent. Your position it seems to me can account for the widespread problem among ordinary people only by "adjusting" the sociological parameters such that most Westerners are either (sufficiently) sheep-like and/or sufficiently degraded both in morals and intelligence -- to account for their (at best passive) collaboration in the West's demise as you see it.

Which brings me to the second area where as I see it you and I part: I don't see a demise of the West (nor, pace Baron Bodissey) some kind of radical "reconfiguration" that is merely a roundabout way of saying the same thing as a demise. Sure, some day in the distant future, as no civilization is immortal. But not by some odd coincidence within the near temporal purview of the critic's own diagnosis.

Sagunto said...

Hesperado -

My assessment of the problem is completely in line with those two criteria you constantly present. I don't think they're the most important to judge one's opponent's point of view, but that's another issue. More than once I've concurred with your assumption that Western politicians and the public are not made up of evil conspirators and their respective herd. Hence my oft repeated quote from Chesterton's "Orthodoxy", i.e. about the modern world being far too good. You don't seem to realize the actual message of Chesterton to the full here, nor the gravity of our situation, if it has been brought about by fairly decent administrators/politicians and able minded people in the voting boot.

Sociologically, I offer a wider perspective than yours simply because you persistently leave out any assessment of the welfare state from an economic point of view. Judged by your contributions over the years, you seem disinterested in the matter and it appears that you just assume the current economic system to be fundamentally in order.

So save your sheep-herding conspirators for those you seek to portray as "doom-mongers". Still basically a (concerned) progressivist, you profess your belief in the welfare state, not uncritically, but still. And that's fair enough. I myself have never been attracted by liberal "socio-cultural" values that presuppose this system, so I have no intention of defending it like you do. That's were we differ, and anything resembling a constructive discussion would mean seeking higher pastures where sheep don't graze and evil-doers don't abound. You'd probably need a "road-map" to get there though, or perhaps some guides to prevent you from getting lost in what would be uncharted territory for you. Try the Bastiat collection, and Ludwig von Mises' "Human Action" for starters, and we'd have at least some common ground for meaningful discussion.

Kind regs from Amsterdam,

Sagunto said...

Meanwhile, all is going a-okay over at GoV..

I pose some questions.. e.g. whether it is germane to a meaningful discussion, to draw an analogy between a battle once fought against some vague and non-specific "Christian theocracy", and our current battle against a new "theocracy", meaning Islam.

Fellow CJ'er, or AIM'er refuses, flat out, to answer, cries about "derailing thread!", invokes the wrath of Mr Seiyo, someone who apparently commands great respect..

Still inchoate.. ;-)