Saturday, October 16, 2010

Healthy disagreement

Recently, I came across this typical
lament by a Jihad Watch reader, "Bad Mo Foe", a lament that I have noticed over the years has seemed to become one of the guiding mantras of the still inchoate anti-Islam movement: makes me sad when people who should be united against their common foe (Islamic supremacism and creeping sharia) end up in bitter disputes with each other. This only weakens the cause of anti-jihad, even if the individuals' reasons are perfectly valid, and that's what makes me sad. Anti-jihadists need all the help they can get! [bolded emphasis added by me]

While of course most anyone would agree that excessively bitter disputes -- involving acrimony, invective, slander, distortions and childish behavior -- would weaken the cause of anti-jihad (just as such behavior would weaken any cause), we should not allow this truism to expand into a general avoidance of all public disagreements, out of fear that any disagreements in the anti-Islam movement would "weaken" it.

In fact, as I have argued before, disagreements -- of an intellectual and procedural nature, pursued in a mature and intelligent manner -- are actually healthy for a movement. Indeed, in all social contexts of life -- whether in the relationship of friends or of lovers, whether in the dynamics of a small group of co-workers, whether in the activity of a business, or whether in the life of a subculture, group, association, cause or movement -- the ability to air out grievances and disagreements in a mature and intelligent manner, the predisposition to do so among the people involved, and the institutional mechanisms in place to facilitate this, all conduce toward the health of that relationship or association or movement.

This is true in great part because humans are imperfect, and disagreements are bound to happen in any relationship or endeavor in which they partake. Since disagreements are inevitable, it behooves one and all to have an optimal way to deal with them when they crop up. Sweeping disagreements under the rug and suppressing any public adjudication of them is unhealthy, in fact. But this has been the way our quasi-leaders in the still inchoate anti-Islam movement have been behaving. Although Robert Spencer seems to be the most egregious in this regard, most of them are enabling this unhealthy climate through what I have half-facetiously termed "the Gentlemen's Agreement of Silence".

The anti-Islam movement will benefit, not "weaken", from a healthy airing out of disagreements in the sunshine of free public discourse. That in fact is one of the main qualities that makes the West great: we have learned to disagree in a common cause without erupting in violence, dissolving into mayhem, or festering in paranoid recriminations in an atmosphere rife with mendacity -- all symptoms of the disease of Islamic culture.

When we fear disagreement among our own fellows and even from ourselves, and in its suppressed place try to fashion an unrealistic phalanx where no substantive criticism is permitted under pain of being branded a "traitor", we do ourselves and our civilization a remarkably illterate injustice; and worse yet, we begin to lose sight of what it is we are defending.

Further Reading:

False Unity

The Gentlemen's Agreement of Silence

The "Gentlemen's Agreement of Silence" Redux

What a tangled web we weave: Let the sun shine in

More on the Gentlemen's Agreement and my responses to Auster's responses to my post

The Gentlemen's Agreement for Women, too

Another glimpse into one of the back rooms of the "Gentlemen's Club"

No comments: