Sunday, September 28, 2014

Islam studies before the "Great Inhibition"

A couple of years ago, I drafted an essay for The Hesperado, but never got around to finishing it.  I'll reproduce my introduction first, the better to make the punchline (below the row of asterisks after the introduction) all the more grimly juicy:

I look forward to perusing an old book, scanned and made available for free at Google Books:

Mohammed and Mohammedanism (that title alone is incorrectly promising), subtltled "Lectures Delivered at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in February and March, 1871".

And one reasonably expects that, as it was conceived and published in that hallowed period of the late 19th century (lectures by R. Bosworth Smith, a fellow at Oxford, written in 1872, delivered in 1874, published in 1875), the Islamoliteracy therein will demonstrate robust signs of being free of the dogmatic blinders of PC MC so typical in our time -- we who now in our 21st century have the misfortune to live in the shadow of two massive movements: a global revival of deadly, bloody Islam, and the Age of the Great Inhibition (as Hugh Fitzgerald has dubbed it) in terms of speaking honestly and intelligently about that global revival.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Oy, was I wrong about Prof. Bosworth Smith!  His prose reeks of PC MC Kumbaya Christian Wilsonianism -- or I should say, "proto-PC MC", since he flourished so long before the accustomed era of that sociopolitical neurosis.  Usually, we think of the 1960s as marking the beginning of Political Correctness.  I used to agree, until I kept running across texts by various scholars and historians prior to that demarcation which espoused PC MC in one way or another, some of them going back not only before the Sixties, but even back to the 19th century.  I published various essays about this phenomenon:

PC MC in 1917

When did PC MC begin? Second case study

When did PC MC begin? Third case study

When did PC MC begin? Fourth case study

When did PC MC begin?  More info on that question...

What really took the cake and opened my eyes to getting out of the Box on this was my study of an essay by the great French philosopher and statesman, Michel de Montaigne, titled "On Cannibalism" -- written in the 16th century, and yet quite saturated with many of the principles of PC MC, as I analyzed in my article Montaigne: Godfather of PC MC?

So, I wasn't so much surprised when I saw R. Bosworth Smith launch so soon in his book into the nauseating treacle of PC MC type language, but nevertheless -- like Herbert Lom's wearily aggrieved, bitterly longsuffering Commissioner Charles Dreyfus in The Pink Panther who, after the thousandth time he had to suffer Inspector Clouseau's insufferable idiocy, twitches a traumatized smile and flinches a tic of his left eye, no longer feels the pain of his third, or fourth, or fifth finger lopped off by his little cigar guillotine -- I was deeply disappointed in a battle fatigued sort of way.

Without further ado, I quote from the esteemed morosoph, Prof. R. Bosworth Smith (adding bolded emphasis for the politically correct spasms along the way) writing in 1875:

A Christian who retains that paramount allegiance to Christianity which is his birthright, and yet attempts, without favor and without prejudice, to portray another religion, is inevitably exposed to misconstruction. In the study of his subject he will have been struck sometimes by the extraordinary resemblance between his own creed and another, sometimes by the sharpness of the contrast; and, in order to avoid those misrepresentations, which are, unfortunately, never so common as where they ought to be unknown—in the discussion of religious questions—he will be tempted, in filling in the portrait, to project his own personal predilections on the canvas, and to bring the differences into full relief, while he leaves the resemblances in shadow. And yet a comparison between two systems, if it is to have any fruitful results, if its object is to unite rather than divide, if, in short, it is to be of the spirit of the Founder of Christianity, must, in matters of religion above all, be based on what is common to both. There is, in the human race, in spite of their manifold diversities, a good deal of human nature; enough, at all events, to entitle us to assume that the Founders of any two religious systems which have had a great and continued hold upon a large part of mankind must have had many points of contact. Accordingly, in comparing, as he has done to some extent, the founder of Islam with the Founder of Christianity—a comparison which, if it were not expressed, would always be implied—the author of these Lectures has thought it right mainly to dwell on that aspect of the character of Christ, which, being admitted by Mussulmans as well as Christians, by foes as well as friends, may possibly serve as a basis, if not for an ultimate agreement, at all events for an agreement to differ from one another upon terms of greater sympathy and forbearance, of understanding and of respect.

[Just a second, kind readers, I must retrieve my barf bedpan from the adjoining lumber room...  Right!  Back to the learned fool:]

That Islam will ever give way to Christianity in the East, however much we may desire it, and whatever good would result to the world, it is difficult to believe; but it is certain that Mohammedans may learn much from Christians and yet remain Mohammedans, and that Christians have something at least to learn from Mohammedans, which will make them not less but more Christian than they were before. If we would conquer Nature, we must first obey her; and the Fourth Lecture is an attempt to show, from a full recognition of the facts of Nature underlying both religions—of the points of difference as well as of resemblance—that Mohammedanism, if it can never become actually one with Christianity, may yet, by a process of mutual approximation and mutual understanding, prove its best ally. In other words, the author believes that their [sic] is a unity above and beyond that unity of Christendom which, properly understood, all earnest Christians so much desire: a unity which rests upon the belief that "the children of one Father may worship him under different names; that they may be influenced by one spirit, even though they know it not; that they may all have one hope, even if they have not one faith.

[There's really no need to read his book further, I can see; for in his anxious need to be "fair" and "balanced" he has congenially lost his head; for not everything in life is "good and bad".  Some things are thoroughly diseased, dangerous and demonic; and to be authentically and accurately fair and balanced about those things would produce -- perforce and precisely -- a round and robust condemnation and evisceration, and nothing less.]


Dave said...

Bullseye as usual, Hesp! In my opinion, its the fallacy of humanism; "all humans are equally good", that leads the West to make this colossal error in judgement when it comes to all things Islamic.

It's difficult for the average, somewhat brainwashed Westerner to come to terms with the fact that not everybody is as educated, cultured, and well-intentioned as he is. That's why the Left continually says "Muslims eat, talk, walk, and sleep the same as you do. As such, their intentions are no different than yours!" And to say otherwise would be to contradict the great myth of "All humans are created equal", something which is sacrosanct in their world view.

Ironically enough, the super-atheistic humanistic crowd is willing to be just as irrational as any religious fanatic (such as knee-jerk silencing "unconventional" views a priori) in order to safeguard that principle. That shows, in my opinion at least, that every human has to have some sort of ideology. No matter how much material wealth, whether it be the oil in the Middle East or stacks of dollar bills in the West, will sate that spiritual hunger.

It's an inexplicable need, and what differentiates between humans and animals. Give an animal food, shelter, and water, and it'll be perfectly happy. Not so with a human. The way it seems to me, humans view material goods as a means to a ideological end, whatever that ideology may be. A person can temporarily blind himself to the truth of his spiritual needs, but he'll always believe in something.

Now the big question is, what to believe in? For me, as a proud Jew in Israel, it's Judaism. But I think each person should go with whatever floats his boat, as long as its not harmful to others. If it is harmful, then it should be (and in the grand scheme of things, eventually is. Like the pagan cults of old with their barbaric rituals) promptly purged from civilization.

Shanah Tovah (Happy New Year for those non Hebrew speakers), Dave

Egghead said...

The last thing that our current dear leaders and their wives want - or our former dear leaders and their wives wanted - or our future dear leaders and their wives want is to be 'equal' to the common man.

No, our dear leaders want and fully intend to be far above the common man - and they want the common man to acutely feel that difference - which is to be borne with neither comment nor complaint in the new one world order feudal system being imposed with an iron hand as we speak.

Hesperado said...

Thanks Dave, I agree with nearly everything you said, but I also remembered what Egghead reminded me of -- namely, that this ideological constellation of Relativism, Diversity and Equality is really not relativistic, diverse or equal at all, but absolutist, conformist and unequal. What they really want to do is get back at the white Judaeo-Christian West and "right the wrongs" they think the West is guilty of -- a perpetual Wrong with a perpetual prescription of correction, apparently (revealing that deep down it's not a pragmatic ethical concern at all but an essentialist (even Gnostic) hatred for the established order). Your comment did imply this with your observation that everyone needs an ideology, including the Leftists. Another way I put it (recently in a comment at Jihad Watch, apropos of a Leftist professor at an American university who basically tried to argue that "we are no better than" the ISIS beheaders:

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