Steve Ditko: the Paranormal Man
al-Guardian & the Brotherhood

Blunting the Senses in the Name of Fairness

“The size of an extremist ‘fringe’ and its relationship to mainstream conceptions of the faith have to be considered as they actually are, not as one might wish, or assume. When given a moment’s thought, all fundamentalisms are not in fact equivalent in their particulars, or the consequences thereof. Yet this is the default prejudice from which many commentators proceed.” 

Cox_forkum_imageproblem My previous Bad Faith column, which dealt with cultural equivalence and the moral contortions that result, led to a barrage of email and a number of odd exchanges. Most centred on the way in which cultural equivalence can be used to present very different moral phenomena as equal in weight, generally to excuse the larger evil with a much smaller one. Recent events have given further pertinence to the arguments made in that column, and so some additional reflection seems in order.

To recap briefly: Cultural equivalence is evident when Tariq Ramadan depicted those who criticise religious intolerance and intimidation as “extremists,” thereby suggesting some parity of derangement between the people who published cartoons of Muhammad, or argued for the right to do so, and the believers who made homicidal threats and set fire to occupied buildings. This echoed Karen Armstrong’s reference to “aggressive” cartoons, published “aggressively” – again, attempting to suggest parity of motive and blame, as if one excused the other or shared the same moral gravity. Perhaps we’re supposed to believe that unflattering cartoons can hurt a person in exactly the same way that, say, fists, bricks and fire do.

Cultural equivalence is also found in superficial comparisons between fundamentalist Christians and fundamentalist Muslims, as if no significant differences existed or should be sought. In February, Reverend Patrick Gaffney of the University of Notre Dame blamed associations of Islam with violence on a history of anti-Islamic prejudice, insisting “there are parallel behaviours in every tradition.” Gaffney maintained there was little point looking for “distinct features” within Islamic theology that might have bearing on the wave of cartoon-related violence. Attempts to deflect attention away from theological specifics are commonplace, even habitual, though not entirely convincing. One cannot simply assume that all religious traditions are exactly equal in how they deal with various slights and taboos.

One might, for instance, contrast how the Christian Messiah and the Prophet of Islam are said to have dealt with unflattering comments. To the best of my knowledge, the New Testament doesn’t inform believers that Jesus sanctioned the assassination of his critics or mocked their dead bodies. While Muhammad did occasionally forgive those who ridiculed him, this forgiveness was by no means a typical response, particularly in his later career. Al-Nadr bin al-Harith, Kab bin al-Ashraf and Uqbah bin Abu Muayt were killed at Muhammad’s instruction in 624 AD, and the poetess Asma bint Marwan was killed the same year for writing a disrespectful verse. Given there are those who view Muhammad as exemplary in all regards and for all time, perhaps these events shouldn’t be dismissed quite so lightly.

The_lovely_al_sistaniBy way of further illustration, Rosie O’Donnell was happy to assert that, “radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America.” But while red-faced evangelists may say, for instance, that gay people are wicked, damned to hellfire, etc, I don’t know of any internationally renowned Christian leaders who are calling for the imprisonment and killing of gay people. Unlike the supposedly “moderate” Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who insists that gay men and lesbians should be “killed in the worst manner possible.” Not condemned, ‘corrected,’ prayed for or pitied, or any of the usual nonsense spouted by Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson et al; but murdered - as brutally as possible.

However studiously such distinctions are overlooked, this one in particular strikes me as significant. Especially considering the readiness with which some will enact Sistani’s wisdom - as illustrated by Rexhep Idrizi, a chairman of Australia’s Board of Imams who thinks beheading gay people is in order, and whose son is currently serving a four-year jail sentence for attacking a cyclist with a machete. Given the number of believers who listen very carefully to Sistani, both in Iraq and beyond, it would be unwise for gay Iraqis to treat the cleric’s fatwas as irrelevant nonsense. And while mad Methodists or Creationists can be laughed at with relative impunity, sadistic bigots like Sistani are mysteriously exempt from comparable scorn in the “progressive” left-leaning media.

Guardian regular Karen Armstrong has echoed Reverend Gaffney and dutifully reminded us that all religions have a fundamentalist fringe, and thus, apparently, no further judgment needs to be made regarding theological factors. But the size of that ‘fringe,’ its relationship to the mainstream, and its specific ideological features are not the same for all religions. Jehovah’s Witnesses are extremist in certain respects and they have some pretty bizarre ideas about blood transfusion. And the Amish might be thought of as fundamentalist too. But where are the eighty or so groups of Amish suicide bombers? Where are the Methodist extremists who want to legally subordinate all non-Methodists as an act of religious observance? Where are the Buddhists who murdered the translators of a ‘blasphemous’ novel while chanting the words of the Buddha as absolute justification? If all religious ideologies are equal in their merits and shortcomings, and equally inclined to homicidal intolerance, shouldn’t we be seeing all of these things, or something like them, roughly in proportion to the size each religion’s following?

Dalailama_3During a recent visit to San Francisco, the Dalai Lama told a group of religious leaders that “[Islam is] like any other tradition – same message, same practice. That is a practice of compassion.” Certainly compassion and horror can be found among adherents of any religious ideology, whether because of those beliefs or despite them. But there is a difference between monstrous acts that ignore or invert the exhortations of a religion’s founder and monstrous acts that are entirely in accord with that founder’s stated vision.

For instance, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood directs young believers to a children’s website that celebrates homicidal ‘martyrdom,’ just as Muhammad is said to have done, and exhorts young Muslims to imitate a Prophet who “waged jihad against the infidels.” The site also informs youngsters that “the Jews” are responsible for all of the “corruption and deviance in the world” and that “murdering children” is “part of the Jewish religion.” It’s not clear how this online message is to be reconciled with the Dalai Lama’s statement, or with the claims of the Brotherhood’s vice-president, Khairat el-Shatir, who, in an article titled No Need to be Afraid of Us, informed Guardian readers that “the success of the Muslim Brotherhood should not frighten anybody; we respect the rights of all religious and political groups.”

The Dalai Lama is presumably unaware of the severe limits to compassion demanded by several Islamic schoolbooks. One Egyptian textbook, Studies in Theology: Traditions and Morals, Grade II (2001), cites Muhammad and reminds children of their duty to “perform jihad in Allah’s cause, to behead the infidels, take them prisoner, break their power and make their souls humble.” (pp 291-22). Young readers are also reminded that “the concept of jihad is interpreted in the Egyptian school curriculum almost exclusively as a military endeavour… It is war against Allah’s enemies, i.e., the infidels.” Another cheering gem, Commentary on the Surahs of Muhammad, Al-Fath, Al-Hujurat and Qaf, Grade II (2002), warns youngsters against being “seized by compassion” towards unbelievers.

Contempt for non-Muslims is also commonplace in Saudi school textbooks. In July 2004, the Guardian reported the persistence of supremacist indoctrination, despite assurances to the contrary from the Saudi foreign minister. Six-year-olds are instructed that “emulation of the infidels leads to loving them and raising their status in the eyes of the Muslim, and that is forbidden.” Similarly xenophobic instructions have been found in contemporary schoolbooks in Palestine, Jordan and Pakistan, and in judicial texts endorsed by Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, the nearest thing to an Islamic Vatican. Again, the size of an extremist ‘fringe’ and its relationship to mainstream conceptions of the faith have to be considered as they actually are, not as one might wish, or assume.

Beheading_of_al_harethHowever malleable and interchangeable religions are thought to be, one cannot ignore the actual tenets of a given faith, as outlined explicitly in its core texts and embraced by millions of adherents. The founder of a religion, his example, and the particulars of his worldview are rather important to many believers. And the likelihood of a religion being associated with intolerance and violence will in part be determined by how violent and intolerant a religion’s founder was, and the means by which that founder enjoined others to propagate the faith. One can no more erase Muhammad from Islam than one could airbrush the Biblical Jesus from Christianity. When given a moment’s thought, all fundamentalisms are not in fact equivalent in their particulars, or the consequences thereof. Yet this is the default prejudice from which many commentators proceed.

This pretence of equivalence has come to define much of the ongoing debate on freedom of speech and the testing of ideas. But to assume moral parity between, say, the publishers of cartoons and the unthinkingly destructive reaction to them, and to assign equal responsibility for the deaths, intimidation and violence that resulted, is evasive and grotesque. It is, more to the point, a way of denying the moral incontinence of those who threaten to kill on the basis of a cartoon, or a film, or a novel. And it is a way of avoiding any serious analysis of Islamic theology in particular and religious hysteria in general.

Cultural equivalence also underlies the current fashion for religious protectionism, whereby reason and scientific methodology are depicted as equivalent to faith and merely a matter of lifestyle choice, as if logical enquiry had no attributes that set it apart from religious ideology and a priori belief. But to equate these very different phenomena requires one to flatten values and empty the mind in the ostensible interest of ‘fairness’ - perhaps to spare the blushes of the less capable among us. 

Sweet_madeleineWhich brings us to Madeleine Bunting, an associate editor of the Guardian and the paper’s chief infidel commentator on all things Islamic. In another piece denouncing the infidel attachment to Enlightenment ideas, Bunting explained the strange trajectory of her opposition: “I began bumping into the subject with Muslim intellectuals who were acutely aware of how this legacy was being used (implicitly or explicitly) against Islam.” Ah, yes, there we go. It’s quite clear from Bunting’s earlier columns that anything that might be used (implicitly or explicitly) to reveal shortcomings in Islamic theology is a very bad thing indeed. Unlike, say, Catholicism or Scientology, Islam must forever remain beyond reproach or challenge, for reasons that are deep, mysterious and never made entirely clear.

Bunting informs us: “We are profoundly irrational and… rationality is a social construction.” She then asks, apparently with genuine puzzlement: “Why do people think an understanding of rationality which is over 200 years old is useful now?” Well, regarding profound irrationality, one can only wish Ms Bunting would speak for herself, or possibly for those Guardian readers who ingest her writing without objection or amusement. Why, one might ask, does Bunting find a reactionary and literalist theology that is considerably older than the Enlightenment particularly valid or “useful” now? Given Bunting’s article appeared the same week in which Abdul Rahman faced public execution in Afghanistan for the ‘heresy’ of abandoning Islam in favour of Christianity, this is not just an academic question.

When asked about the Rahman case, four clerics in Kabul insisted the medical aid worker “deserved to be killed” for leaving Islam. Said Mirhossian Nasri of the Hossainia Mosque insisted “we must set an example” and maintained that Rahman “must be hanged.” Hamidullah, chief cleric of the Haji Yacob Mosque, offered a different view, arguing that if Rahman were freed or allowed to leave the country, “there will be an uprising.” One high-minded cleric, the allegedly ‘moderate’ Abdul Raoulf of the Afghan Ulama Council, said: "This is humiliating for Islam... We will not allow God to be humiliatedCut off his head! We will call on the people to pull him into pieces so there's nothing left…” Now, I don’t follow fundamentalist Christian literature as closely as I should, but perhaps someone could point me to where Jerry Falwell or Dale Crowley demands the hanging, beheading and public dismemberment of those who dare to leave Christianity?

Coxforkum_cultural_equivalenceThe Rahman case is fundamentally about freedom of conscience and freedom of expression. It also highlights a basic and rather common error in discussions of the latter. Note how Abdul Raoulf and others used the word “humiliated” as a pretext for their anger and sadism, as if their hypothetical all-powerful deity – on whose behalf they naturally claim to act - would somehow be shamed by Rahman’s change of faith. (Quite how one shames an omnipotent being with a knowledge of future events remains a mystery, but there you go.)

The claim of alleged ‘humiliation’ touches on a central conceit in many discussions of this kind, whereby religious freedom is presumed to entail sparing believers any hint that others do not share their beliefs and indeed may find them ludicrous. (There is, apparently, no corresponding obligation for believers to embrace ideas that are not clearly risible, monstrous or disgusting.) When given a moment’s thought, this protectionist claim is decidedly fascistic in its practical implications. If believers wish to be insulated from any differing opinion, and even statements of fact, they would have to create a closed religious order, somewhere atop a mountain where reality can to some extent be avoided.

Behold_humilityAlternatively, likeminded believers could strive to impose upon society a reactionary and intolerant mindset in which intellectual enquiry and dissent are punishable by imprisonment or death. Failing that, a climate of pre-emptive self-censorship, fear and unilateral deference would no doubt be a start. And, ultimately, one has to wonder what kind of faith requires protection of this kind. If a prideful and supremacist ideology requires the punitive eradication of alternative ideas, then what kind of ideology are we dealing with, and just how superior is it?

Questions of this kind don’t seem to trouble Madeleine Bunting, whose depiction of rationality as a “social construction” is wonderfully loaded and warrants further consideration. Not least because it is so common among those inclined to pretensions of equivalence. In one recent discussion, I was told with breathless confidence that “science is based on assumptions; an assumption is essentially a belief, so science is based on belief.” But the scientific method  is actually based on the testing of formal hypotheses, as opposed to beliefs, which are not the same thing at all. Strictly speaking, a scientific hypothesis must be self-consistent, must explain existing observations and must predict new ones, and must be open to disproof. These formal obligations and restraints are not comparable with the unquestioning acceptance of unverifiable assumptions as a priori truth. There is a profound epistemological difference.

The scientific method is one of the best practical lessons in intellectual humility and one can only wish a few clerics - and a few Guardian columnists - would avail themselves of this tool. As the mathematician Ian Stewart pointed out: “Science is the best defence against believing what we want to.” The willingness to defer to evidence – as opposed to one’s own wishes and beliefs – is the antithesis of fundamentalism. One cannot seriously regard those who profess to know the preferences of a supposed deity - and the right to impose those preferences on others - as demonstrating intellectual rigour or humility. Though one might possibly view it as indicating megalomania or a need for psychiatric treatment.

Contrary to Bunting’s assertion, maths and physics have properties that transcend cultural barriers, or indeed presumptions of fairness. Regardless of the symbology used to describe the underlying operations, those operations are, apparently, universal. To the best of my knowledge, the laws of physics don’t mysteriously change in parts of the world where Islam or Catholicism or voodoo hold sway, and gravity and quantum chromodynamics work irrespective of whether they are understood by priests, imams or the village shaman. However incomplete our descriptions of, say, electrons may be, the described values of electrons appear to hold up extremely well. Those mathematical and physical descriptions are tested and verified billions of times a day in the operations of every electronic device on the planet. If the assertions of Islam or cultural equivalence were ever to meet a similar standard of proof, I might ease my disdain for such things. But I’m not about to hold my breath.

Curiously, the person who so adamantly equated science with belief also maintained that the theories of relativity (the details of which escaped him) are “beliefs” and thus in no way “vulnerable to the scientific method.” When I drew attention to evidence to the contrary the subject was swiftly changed and other things were asserted with even greater adamance. This is one of the incidental rewards of cultural equivalence; it blunts the critical senses and levels all values until people who know nothing about any given subject feel entitled to assert things about that subject with great confidence and a whiff of righteousness. One can, as Ian Stewart warned, believe whatever one wants.

Definitely_not_muhammad Reverend Gaffney and the Dalai Lama may believe that the particulars of a religion and how it is taught are incidental matters, but a note of wishful thinking is hard to avoid. In April, Comedy Central censored an episode of South Park that addressed the ‘cartoon jihad’ uproar and included – or would have included – a brief appearance by Muhammad. Given the series’ uninhibited mockery of every other religious figure, often to pointed effect, the network’s decision to censor this one in particular warranted an official explanation. According to a press release, Comedy Central had “determined that it was not prudent or in the interest of safety to reproduce the controversial Danish cartoons. Injuries occurred and lives were lost in the riots set off by the original publication... The American media made a decision then, as we did now, not to put the safety and well being of the public at risk, here or abroad.”

While one can understand the company’s concern for the safety of others, one cannot simultaneously pretend that the motive here is anything other than a very real fear of violence. Nor can one pretend that comparable violence would ensue, or be tolerated, whenever the Buddha or Jesus appeared in a cartoon. Evidently, fundamentalisms are not equivalent in nature or in the extent to which they are accommodated, or why they are accommodated. And as recent events have shown, religious ideologies are far from equal in their capacity and readiness to impose their taboos upon others, by whatever means prove expedient.

First published in 3:AM Magazine, August 21, 2006

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Comments

Devon

All I can say is that is a brilliant brilliant article...and your points need to be screamed from the mountaintops across the Western World before the tide of Islam rolls over us.....

Can we awaken our institutions of higher learning and public schools from their dhimmi slumber?? Do we have enough time???

Essentially the bottom line is that while their are nasties that follow every ideology, Islam is founded by a right nasty bastard....even for his times and place, Muhammed was a man that as his power grew, he became more brutal and corrupt..........And we wonder why we have had 1400 years of Islamic brutality?

Claire

This is great. I'm so glad you chose to tackle the recent "meme" that's spreading around that science is just a belief system! And this is by a bunch of people who are the first to cry about moral and cultural equivalence, yet cannot see that they are doing exactly that.

If I had a nickel for everytime I heard that credulity is a positive character trait, is to be admired, and shows how "open-minded" one is.........arghh.

perfektm

ISLAM WILL DOMINATE THE HOLES...
ASSHOLES, GUTTERHOLES, DUMP HOLES...

what i can advice muslims is....they must tear out half of the Koran and throw all of its hate refereances in a Gutter hole and They shouldn’t listen to the imam. if they cant do this, then we will do that, and Muslims will be sitting on each gutter hole searching those hate referances....

voon

Thanks, you've taken a big task and done it neatly and thoroughly. It must feel like cleaning the augean stables: first you have to remind the other side that logic isn't a bad thing. Or that you're allowed to have an opinion.
Bunting's "ideas" are particularly instructive regarding the lunacy that seems to prevail: utmost cynicism and so-called deconstruction toward the tenets of western civilization, coupled with total credulity and acceptance of some medievil mind control system.

lonetown

Unfortunately the Global Warming mongers are making that "science is just a belief system" meme stick.

Notice as well, its the same people.

DP111

Bunting informs us: “We are profoundly irrational and… rationality is a social construction.” She then asks, apparently with genuine puzzlement: “Why do people think an understanding of rationality which is over 200 years old is useful now?”

Bunting is asking a rational question and expecting a rational answer, while at the same time admitting to be profoundly irrational.

venividivici

The reason why people think an understanding of rationality that is over 200 years old is useful now is because it IS useful in the actual world of things and in the minds of rational people. In the minds of people like Bunting and, apparently, in the minds of Muslims, it isn't useful. Everywhere else, it is. So, who's got the psychological problem?

There is an equivalence argument to be made. It's that Leftists and Muslims are both equally retarded.

One of the most surprising thing I've learned over the past year is how shallow the impression of the Enlightenment was in Western civilization. Even people born and raised in the West can completely miss the point of the Enlightenment altogether, as Bunting has.

The West has a great tradition of empiricism that really needs to be made central to the teaching of what Islam is.

Niko

Excellent read. Every once in a while I run into the same argument about the validity (or alleged relativity) of scientific facts. Usually what happens is that mathematics and physics are confused (or rather intentionally equated) such that, "You see, 2000 years ago the best scientists of their age believed that the world was flat, that women had no bones, and that the Sun revolved around Earth." To which one should reply that, yes, those were observations on nature, medicine, and astrophysics, but as a matter of fact Greek findings on algebra remain unchanged since they have been first proved (as in scientific proof) more than 2000 years ago.

Lee Harris, in his wonderful book "Civilization and Its Enemies", coined the correct term for the ongoing process by which the world's multiple idiocies are becoming one giant, useless force[*]: fantasy ideologies, consistent and self-contained patchworks whose major intent is to ... spend time and energy. No wonder that the most virulent breeding places of such ideologies happen to be places where employment opportunities are either scarce (Arab Street), or hard work itself is declared illegal (France).

By way of that process not only are cause and correlation mixed up, but objective facts become opinion ("Islamists came through the window on 9/11? Well, that's your opinion, and you're entitled to it."), and opinion becomes fact ("We now know that Mossad was complicit in 9/11, and that most of Jesusland is also in on it.")

[* cf. Blair's Law]

David Thompson

All,

Thanks for the feedback. Judging by the volume of web traffic, the article seems to have struck a chord. Some of you may find 'Phantom Guilt Syndrome' of interest too. Likewise 'The Perils of Moral Tourism', which addresses similar issues.

Niko,

"...that women had no bones..." Heh.

sheik yer'mami

Madelain Bunting, Koran Armstrong, Ivonne Ridley and Arundati Roy resemle a mental cess-pool.
In a sane world they would be behind bars in a mental hospital.

We provide a forum for their mental flatulence's and wonder why the foul odor of their unfermented slobber bites us in the nose.

We must not ignore the global jihad and we must stop and reverse Islamic infiltration and subversion.
These ladies are not with us, they are against us. Treat them accordingly.

Lewis B. Sckolnick

Can we get over this religion thing already it is getting very boring and David I cannot believe you wrote all of that.

Lewis B. Sckolnick

Niko,

"...that women had no phones..." Heh.

harrison

david, I was directed here by lgf, and I must say, jolly good read!

Cultural and moral equivalence are tenets of the Transnational Progressivist ideological war that has been waged for decades now. It is time to brace ourselves for this confrontation.

Karridine

"Science, a methodology, IS a 'belief system'"

I believe if I chant this meme over and over, I'll lobotomize myself and be able to believe ANYTHING, and scientifically, too!

Islam does NOT persecute Baha'is!
Gravity does NOT apply to me!
I CAN fly-

splat!

Will Ness

This is an old 2+2=4 issue, as discussed also by Orwell in "1984". The relativists would have us believe it's 3, or 11, or that there isn't even an answer. But we ought to know better. This is, again, a conflict between a mystical and a scientific worldview. We thought it's an old, long ago decided question, but Nazism and, today, irrational Left, prove it's still as live and urgent as it ever was throuout human history. Something's wrong with our information-propagative systems (aka education) if each new generation acts as if these great truths were never before discussed and fought for, and have to learn every basic idea for themselves anew.

laine andrews

Beautifully, lucidly argued. However, we can hardly be surprised that the capacity to think critically is in such short supply since we have allowed the growth of a public education system that is dominated by the left from kindergarten through university. Students are no longer being taught HOW to think but WHAT to think by unionized socialist-minded teachers/propagandists (all the leftist talking points including the new bogey man, anthropogenic global warming). Students are also taught that anyone who disagrees with the "progressive" agenda is evil. Anyone who doubts this should say something conservative at the next school function. You'll be treated like a skunk at the picnic.

After graduation, the mainstream media takes up the baton and continues the indoctrination in the same (red) vein. It is a wonder that a sizable group has escaped the brainwashing, considering how near-universal the public education system is and how the left wing bias has percolated throughout the media and entertainment industries as well. Is this minority group of rebels and free thinkers large enough to withstand the further shocks that are going to be applied to the West in the near future? Can they sway enough of the sheep to rouse themselves out of their intellectual coma to help defend the West and its philosophic underpinnings?

Shane

I still think the left wants the America to fall to prove that socialism is better. They are just willing to crawl into bed with anyone, and I do mean anyone to try and bring this about.

Sir Henry Morgan

Will Ness:

" It is a wonder that a sizable group has escaped the brainwashing, considering how near-universal the public education system is and how the left wing bias has percolated throughout the media and entertainment industries as well. "

My own case may educate. I stopped listening at school by age 12, I stopped attending altogether by age 13, I officially left at age 15 and immediately enlisted (left school one day, was living in barracks the next). I went to a good university at age 36, another good one at age 41. What I'm trying to say is that I avoided the early indoctrination, and by the time I got back into it, I had enough experience of life to recognise BS when I saw it.

Also, I do not watch television.

I have, incidentally, been banned from the Guardian comment pages three times; not for use of foul language or for being threatening, but rather for pointing people at irrefutable evidence of the danger Islam poses to us. I may try and get in there for a fourth time one of these days, but I really don't see much point.

Sir Henry Morgan

My mistake. "Will Ness" should read laine andrews.

Attributor

When dealing with loony left one shouldn't underestimate
their hidden racism and condescending attitude towards non-European cultures. In their view all non-whites are little children without any responsibility of the grownups, i.e. the West.
I believe this is at the core of cultural/moral relativism
so beloved by the left. It is simply racism in disguise.

Matthew Thomas

Dear Mr Thompson,

Your article is a wonderful dissembling of but one small slice of Postmodernism in action. Relativism and Multiculturalism are just pieces of the broad, overarching philosophy of Postmodernism which was designed and developed as a direct assault on the Enlightenment. Dr. Stephen Hicks, a Professor of Philosophy at Rockford College, Illinois, has written an excellent account of Postmodernism entitled, "Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault". If anyone wishes to understand how otherwise intelligent people such as Ms. Bunting can issue such inane statements without being laughed off the intellectual stage, I would encourage them to read Mr. Hicks' book. Postmodernism as a whole must be exposed for what it is - TRIPE. It has infected the West with its virulent toxicity and if not countered, will prove its demise.

Pat Santy, M.D. (Psychiatry / Aerospace Medicine), has an excellent post on the conjuncture of Postmodernism, Socialism and Islamism for anyone who is interested. Here is the link:

http://drsanity.blogspot.com/2006/05/four-pillars-of-socialist-revival-and.html

David Thompson

Matthew,

Thanks. I mention Stephen Hicks in my 'Art Bollocks Revisited' piece and in my interview with Ophelia Benson, 'PoMo, Terry Eagleton & Che Guevara T-shirts'. (See February Archive, top right.)

Disillusionist

A brilliant and eloquent summary of a major problem, which may mark the final decline of the West (perhaps Spengler was just a century too early).

Regarding your "South Park" reference, BTW, Parker and Stone are certainly prone to hitting the metaphorial nail squarely on its flattened little head. Contrary to Comedy Central's pious declaration, the appearance of Mohammed in the show had nothing whatsoever to do with the Danish cartoons. Mohammed simply appeared for 3 seconds handing the Family Guy a football with a salmon mounted on top. (No, really). In the very same episode, moments later, they had an "Islamic video" produced in response to the "Family Guy" Mohammed, which showed President Bush, Dick Cheney, and Jesus literally defacating on one another and on the American flag. Those oh so sensitive executives at CC had no problem showing that on TV immediately after censoring Mohammed. Perhaps Christians should try kidnapping, beheading, and threatening mass murder. Then I have no doubt our mass media would be more "sensitive" to their demands. F***ing cowards, the lot.

Jay Edwards

Fantastic article. It reminds me of incident which I was involved in college.

The professor of the comparative religion class I was enrolled gave us an assigment to write an essay on how Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam viewed technology. I arrived early to class the day the assignment was due, and was asked by a Muslim student about what I had written. After I recited my thesis, which had noting to do with tenets of Christianity or Islam, he threw his paper, screamed that "Christianity was just a cheap way to get to heaven, left the room, and dropped the class!
At the time I was too flustered to read the paper he had left. I really wish I had.


Sweating Through Fog

Excellent analysis, and a good exposure of the current blindness of the West.

Readers who want a clear perspective on the fanatic mindset of some Muslin "scholars" should look here:

http://ibnmyatt.wordpress.com/2007/02/11/the-ignorance-of-infidels-myths-prejudice-and-propaganda-about-islam-and-the-west/

The statement that takes your breath away is:

"For Islam, “human rights” - individual “rights” - do not exist."

You can't be any clearer than that.

Sweating Through Fog

Hmmm that's wierd - I posted the comment that the system now attributes to Jay Edwards

Jerry

The following website summarizes over 200 similar court cases involving Jehovah's Witness Parents who refused life-saving blood transfusions for their children:

DIVORCE, BLOOD TRANSFUSIONS, AND OTHER LEGAL ISSUES AFFECTING CHILDREN OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES

http://jwdivorces.bravehost.com/

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