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Old 10-05-2005, 10:40 AM   #31
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Originally posted by yertle-the-turtle
Malaysia is a great country, I think the people there are nicer than those in Singapore, personally. Don't slag it off.


nothing against the Malaysians themselves, but not allowing an Israeli to enter the country is completely and totally reprehensible.
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Old 10-06-2005, 09:05 AM   #32
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imagine no religion
it's easy if you try
no hell below us
above us only sky

i guess john lennon's a hatemonger now, based on some of the reactions to finance guy's post...
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Old 10-06-2005, 12:49 PM   #33
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john

happy holidaze to all celebrating.
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Old 10-06-2005, 08:54 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
there is some truth to this.
...
point me to another country that has a similar law aimed at any one religion.
I'm not sure who you thought needed convincing about financeguy's facts (as opposed to his conclusions and his timing), but at any rate, I can actually point you to several other countries who have exactly the same law...namely Indonesia, Iran, and the entire Arab world, save for Jordan and Egypt. I can also attest from personal experience that simply having an Israeli stamp on your passport may cause problems for Jewish travelers to Muslim Central Asia. That is because all these countries, to varying degrees, perceive "the Jews" (not "Israel"--an illegitimate reframing, in their view) to be at war with Islam and/or its Arab heartland. Some (including Malaysia) also refuse entry to Serbs, Montenegrins and others for similar reasons.

****I was objecting to the inappropriate politicization of a thread clearly intended for holiday greetings...NOT the factual content of the politicization. IMHO, this was probably the primary intent of the other objectors as well. I find it very, very hard to believe that a Merry Christmas thread would EVER be turned into an occasion to typecast Christianity as a "WMD" or fountain of hate, and this discrepancy really, really pisses me off.****
Quote:
however, it is astonishing the extent to which the Israeli/Palestinian crisis (for lack of a better word) has been turned into the defining paradigm for how a large part of the Muslim world understands geopolitics -- that the Jews (led by ... who? Steven Spielberg?) control America, who in turn funds and arms Israel, who then oppresses Muslims...

what this does show to me, again, is that 1) religion is a human institution, and 2) it contains more power than any other institution because it posits access to the divine and the infinite and the absolute, and can thus be wielded as a weapon of death on par with any WMD.
I would argue it shows something more like 1) Zionism is a problematic form of nationalism, and Islamism an equally problematic form of anti-imperialism; and 2) they are more problematic than other such types for historical reasons that have little to do with anyone's longing for "access to the divine and the infinite and the absolute." Zionism is a response to modern European ethnic nationalism and anti-Semitism; Islamism is a response to the failures of Islamic socialism (the preferred ideology until late in the 20th century) and continued outrage at the West's "repayment" of Arab support against Turkey by creating Israel.

It's an insult to the historical specifity of these grievances to dismiss them as byproducts of faith. Would you explain the conflict in northern Ireland that way? How about the terrorism of the secular (ethnically Hindu) Tamil Tigers against the (nominally) Buddhist Sinhalese in Sri Lanka? What about Kosovo? Can I hold financeguy's "religion" responsible for the Holocaust, since the Nazis certainly weren't Muslims or Christians?

Yes, religious identity...like ethnic identity, national identity, linguistic identity and other bearers of communal tradition...can be usefully fingered as an "incentive" to violent conflict. That doesn't mean we'd all be better off without it. Personally, I put no trust at all in militant religious Zionists to protect my people's future, since they are a danger and a discredit to it. On the other hand, past history hardly suggests Western secularism to be our friend, either.
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Old 10-07-2005, 02:24 PM   #35
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dammit - where the hell is melon when you need him???
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Old 10-07-2005, 02:31 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally posted by Headache in a Suitcase
imagine no religion
Wouldn't that be fantastic?

Melon
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Old 10-07-2005, 02:32 PM   #37
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dammit - where the hell is melon when you need him???
I'm too lazy to read the entire thread. Is there something in particular you'd like me to comment on?

Melon
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Old 10-07-2005, 03:01 PM   #38
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Originally posted by yolland
:I'm not sure who you thought needed convincing about financeguy's facts (as opposed to his conclusions and his timing), but at any rate, I can actually point you to several other countries who have exactly the same law...namely Indonesia, Iran, and the entire Arab world, save for Jordan and Egypt. I can also attest from personal experience that simply having an Israeli stamp on your passport may cause problems for Jewish travelers to Muslim Central Asia. That is because all these countries, to varying degrees, perceive "the Jews" (not "Israel"--an illegitimate reframing, in their view) to be at war with Islam and/or its Arab heartland. Some (including Malaysia) also refuse entry to Serbs, Montenegrins and others for similar reasons.


we are on the same page. i might have typed carelessly, but it was less to single out Malaysia and more to point that many Muslim nations have outrageous, unacceptable laws like you mention above.




Quote:
It's an insult to the historical specifity of these grievances to dismiss them as byproducts of faith. Would you explain the conflict in northern Ireland that way? How about the terrorism of the secular (ethnically Hindu) Tamil Tigers against the (nominally) Buddhist Sinhalese in Sri Lanka? What about Kosovo? Can I hold financeguy's "religion" responsible for the Holocaust, since the Nazis certainly weren't Muslims or Christians?

Yes, religious identity...like ethnic identity, national identity, linguistic identity and other bearers of communal tradition...can be usefully fingered as an "incentive" to violent conflict. That doesn't mean we'd all be better off without it. Personally, I put no trust at all in militant religious Zionists to protect my people's future, since they are a danger and a discredit to it. On the other hand, past history hardly suggests Western secularism to be our friend, either.


here we disagree. i agree that religion is used as a weapon to achieve a political end that has it's roots in historical specificity, but i would argue that religion is a totally unique weapon and possesses the ability to get men to do things (like blow themselves up) unlike any other force on earth. there are historical exceptions, like Japanese kamakazi pilots in WW2, but in the modern world, post-WW2, the impulse towards suicide and nihilistic death is limited to a realtively small group of fanatics who really aren't concerned with the nation state, or world wide pan-socialism, etc.

i think we make a huge mistake -- and this is where i start to agree with the neocons, or at least the Hitchens of the world -- in that what we see in the Muslim world is completely and utterly different from Northern Irleand, Sri Lanka, or any of the other examples you mentioned. to equate the two -- to equate a bomb in a pub with 9-11 or the planting of a dirty bomb in Piccadilly Circus, where the intention is to kill a maximum amount of people in an apocalypic fashion, is simply foolish. i do think we are foolish to dismiss or explain away the potential for mass death within islamist terrorism. i do think Islamism is different from your examples, and it is different because at it's core is something beyond the failures of Arab socialism. at its core is a radicalization of religion and a hatred of life in this world, and a fetishization of life in the next.

let me toss out two quotes i find compelling:

Quote:
But 9/11 was different. There was a reality present, something about it that was different. And I thought, what can it be? Is it the magnitude of this? Or the number of people? The explosion, the drama of it? Was it the incessant looking at it on television? No, no, I tried all these things, but there was more. There was more I had to pay attention to. I thought, take the Holocaust for example, from the point of view of magnitude and of horror. In that sense, it's unimaginable. And yet, Hitler at least hated a concrete people. He hated the Jews. He wanted to destroy all Jews. In fact, in order to somehow make it possible, he had to deny their humanity so he could wipe them out.

But here there were Jews present, there were Christians, there were Buddhists, there were atheists, there were Muslims. There were rich, there were poor. There were CEOs, there were waiters. There were newlyweds, there were widowers. It was humanity. The twin towers, the whole region is an affirmation of human dreams, of human ambition, of human desire, of the hope of human progress, of human struggle for survival.

It's humanity, and that had to be destroyed because this was hatred for humanity that inspired this deed. I don't know the people who did this, how they rationalized it or explain it away. It's beside the point. I was watching hatred for humanity. ... I am human too. I was in those buildings. We were all in those buildings being human beings. And this was the depth of it.

Quote:
From the first moment I looked into that horror on Sept. 11, into that fireball, into that explosion of horror, I knew it. I knew it before anything was said about those who did it or why. I recognized an old companion. I recognized religion. Look, I am a priest for over 30 years. Religion is my life, it's my vocation, it's my existence. I'd give my life for it; I hope to have the courage. Therefore, I know it.

And I know, and recognized that day, that the same force, energy, sense, instinct, whatever, passion -- because religion can be a passion -- the same passion that motivates religious people to do great things is the same one that that day brought all that destruction. When they said that the people who did it did it in the name of God, I wasn't the slightest bit surprised. It only confirmed what I knew. I recognized it.

I recognized this thirst, this demand for the absolute. Because if you don't hang on to the unchanging, to the absolute, to that which cannot disappear, you might disappear. I recognized that this thirst for the never-ending, the permanent, the wonders of all things, this intolerance or fear of diversity, that which is different -- these are characteristics of religion. And I knew that that force could take you to do great things. But I knew that there was no greater and more destructive force on the surface of this earth than the religious passion.
both are from Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete from the PBS Frontline show "Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero."
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Old 10-07-2005, 03:15 PM   #39
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and i just want to add ... the nihilism i see in Islam isn't because of Islam; it's because Islam is a religion.

within ALL religions lies such apocalyptic fantasies, because religion is unique.

we underestimate it at our own peril.
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Old 10-07-2005, 06:46 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally posted by ouizy
dammit - where the hell is melon when you need him???
This isn't a high school debate team match, ouizy. I was just trying to clarify some points I felt were being overlooked, not to defiantly piss a rhetorical circle around territory I consider my own.

Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
here we disagree. i agree that religion is used as a weapon to achieve a political end that has it's roots in historical specificity, but i would argue that religion is a totally unique weapon and possesses the ability to get men to do things (like blow themselves up) unlike any other force on earth...in the modern world, post-WW2, the impulse towards suicide and nihilistic death is limited to a realtively small group of fanatics who really aren't concerned with the nation state, or world wide pan-socialism, etc.

...to equate a bomb in a pub with 9-11 or the planting of a dirty bomb in Piccadilly Circus, where the intention is to kill a maximum amount of people in an apocalypic fashion, is simply foolish. i do think we are foolish to dismiss or explain away the potential for mass death within islamist terrorism. i do think Islamism is different from your examples, and it is different because at it's core is something beyond the failures of Arab socialism. at its core is a radicalization of religion and a hatred of life in this world, and a fetishization of life in the next.
In the end, I think we shall have to agree to disagree here. My own research on terrorism in South Asia leads me to disagree strongly with your assertion about the essentially religious nature of post-WWII terrorism. I strongly believe there are other, similarly "fundamental" sources of collective identity that can (given the right context) activate the nihilistic/apocalyptic impulse just as potently.

However, I recognize that my conclusions, like anyone else's, are not based on facts alone. In particular, my own ethnoreligious background predisposes me towards: A) rejection of the notion of secularism as an antidote to genocidal violence (a belief my grandparents, aunts and uncles lost their lives to); and B) a tendency, perhaps, to underestimate the problems that a sense of proselytizing mission (not part of my religious tradition) may pose to the challenges of peaceful coexistence. (Though I question the notion that the attitudes and impulses entailed by "proselytizing" are, in fact, unique to religion...but, I'll leave that one alone for now.)

I find it interesting that you used the phrase, "radicalization of religion" to distinguish Islamism from Islam. If a source of identity is capable of being "radicalized" into a source of nihilistic violence, does it then follow that we are better off without it? Is this a sustainable approach to adopt given the reality of cultural diversity?

Quote:
I recognized this thirst, this demand for the absolute. Because if you don't hang on to the unchanging, to the absolute, to that which cannot disappear, you might disappear. I recognized that this thirst for the never-ending, the permanent, the wonders of all things, this intolerance or fear of diversity, that which is different -- these are characteristics of religion. And I knew that that force could take you to do great things. But I knew that there was no greater and more destructive force on the surface of this earth than the religious passion.
A beautiful and eloquent statement. I do not agree with him that "religious passion" is what *truly* motivates men to kill in the name of God. But then, I've never believed that "religious passion" is what *truly* motivates us to do "great things" in God's name either.

~Peace and Respect
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Old 10-07-2005, 06:53 PM   #41
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Wow, I must really be boring. This is the first time someone's put on a sleep mask WHILE I was talking them!
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Old 10-07-2005, 07:51 PM   #42
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Wow thats one discussion I managed to stay away from

Are you people always that aggressive when I´m not around?

Shalom, shalom...
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Old 10-07-2005, 08:18 PM   #43
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firstly, let me say that i really appreciate your comments and tone -- very respectful, and very thoughtful stuff. i've got lots to think about, but let me offer some more thoughts ...

Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
[B]




In the end, I think we shall have to agree to disagree here. My own research on terrorism in South Asia leads me to disagree strongly with your assertion about the essentially religious nature of post-WWII terrorism. I strongly believe there are other, similarly "fundamental" sources of collective identity that can (given the right context) activate the nihilistic/apocalyptic impulse just as potently.
i think there's a bit of a misunderstanding here -- it's not that post ww2 terrorism is religious, one only has to look to the red brigades, baeder meinhoff, the shining path, etc., for secularist terrorism. the difference i am pointing to is precisely the result that these forms of terrorism want to achieve. i don't think you can equate a socialist nation, or vague marxist notions of equality with the restoration of the caliphate. i don't think you can equate the overthrow of one particular government, or even economic system, with the fiery deaths of infidels.

on your last point we will have to disagree -- while i think people can and will die for secularist notions, as people in our country have, i don't think that secularist causes honor and fetishize death precisely because a secularist cause is concerned with this world, not the next. an American might be willing to die for the ideals of the flag, but he doesn't want to have to; for this particular brand of Islamist, death is a means how one honors the religion, the notion of martyrdom.

i don't think your most rabid IRA member wants to burn London to the ground. whereas bin laden and his ilk (a microscopic, but powerful, minority) would enjoy the nuclear incineration of London.

Quote:
However, I recognize that my conclusions, like anyone else's, are not based on facts alone. In particular, my own ethnoreligious background predisposes me towards: A) rejection of the notion of secularism as an antidote to genocidal violence (a belief my grandparents, aunts and uncles lost their lives to); and B) a tendency, perhaps, to underestimate the problems that a sense of proselytizing mission (not part of my religious tradition) may pose to the challenges of peaceful coexistence. (Though I question the notion that the attitudes and impulses entailed by "proselytizing" are, in fact, unique to religion...but, I'll leave that one alone for now.)
all very interesting stuff. i think the difference between the secularist goal of exterminating the jews in Germany was addressed by the monsignor in that the specificity of the holocaust actually makes it less sinister than the bin ladenist outlook. one required the extermination of a particular group of people; the other seeks the extermination of all people who are not of the particular group. again, one is rooted in the real and the practical and is of this earth, the other is concerned more with the next world.


Quote:
I find it interesting that you used the phrase, "radicalization of religion" to distinguish Islamism from Islam. If a source of identity is capable of being "radicalized" into a source of nihilistic violence, does it then follow that we are better off without it? Is this a sustainable approach to adopt given the reality of cultural diversity?
are we better off without religion? no, i think it's important for humans to create some method of access to that which is infinite, that which lasts, that which is beyond this world and is permanent and is a sort of idealized version of both ourselves and our world, so that we have something to strive for. ideals are important. but we are better of with an awareness of the potential for religion's abuse, and the surest way to guard against this is to maintain a secular state. in fact, the only way that one can proudly practice a robust religion of one's own choosing is within the secular state.

as for your question about whether or not it is sustainable ... impossible to know. i suppose i would argue that freedom of religion is only truly possible in a secular state, and that tolerance and appreication of cultural differences flourish in secular states as well -- when governments are concerned with governance, not with the maintenance of cultural practices ... eh, getting into sticky territory here ... honestly, i'd have to think about this much more.

great question, though.

a final thought: i do agree that secular concerns weigh on the mind of a suicide bomber or the al-quaeda guys on the monkey bars in afghanistan. the difference, i think, is that the brand of religion they have swallowed motivates them to wage battle with methods that are not at all secular. it's the combination of the two that i find unique and uniquely terrifying.

it's not that religion is the problem; its that religion, when warped, presents a unique means of doing battle.

ugh ... hope that made some sense ... been a long week ...
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Old 10-08-2005, 12:05 AM   #44
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Quote:
Originally posted by Headache in a Suitcase
imagine no religion
it's easy if you try
no hell below us
above us only sky

i guess john lennon's a hatemonger now, based on some of the reactions to finance guy's post...
Well you know the old saying, John Lennon imagined - Pol Pot performed.

I think that insight into the motivation of Islamists can be found by looking at their statements and sermons, although they seem to be talking like supermacists who advocate empire and not the anti-imperialists that some have painted them to be.
Quote:
Scott Atran: What can the West, especially the US, do to make the world more peaceful?
Abu Bakar Bashir: They have to stop fighting Islam. That's impossible because t is sunnatullah [destiny, a law of nature], as Allah has said in the Koran. If they want to have peace, they have to accept to be governed by Islam.
SA: What if they persist?
ABB: We'll keep fighting them and they'll lose. The batil [falsehood] will lose sooner or later. I sent a letter to Bush. I said that you'll lose and there is no point for you [to fight us]. This [concept] is found in the Koran.
...
SA: So this fight will never end?
ABB: Never. This fight is compulsory. Muslims who don't hate America sin. What I mean by America is George Bush's regime. There is no iman [belief] if one doesn't hate America.
SA: How can the American regime and its policies change?
ABB: We'll see. As long as there is no intention to fight us and Islam continues to grow there can be peace. This is the doctrine of Islam. Islam can't be ruled by others. Allah's law must stand above human law. There is no [example] of Islam and infidels, the right and the wrong, living together in peace.
We can have peace any time if we want too, that peace is submission.

Islam is not a superior religion, if I was so inclined it would probably be sitting down on my list with pentecostals and scientology.
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Old 10-08-2005, 01:53 AM   #45
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Originally posted by Irvine511
...an American might be willing to die for the ideals of the flag, but he doesn't want to have to; for this particular brand of Islamist, death is a means how one honors the religion, the notion of martyrdom.
Ah OK. I don't think I fully grasped your point here before. Yes, the "death-is-sublime" philosophy is quite different from being willing to die. Still, it's important to note that "this particular brand" is a small subgroup of Islamists (let alone Muslims), and IMO it's also a mistake to assume (as some do) that all Muslim suicide attackers must be motivated primarily by this philosophy, just because their propagandists idealize it that way.
Quote:
i think the difference between the secularist goal of exterminating the jews in Germany was addressed by the monsignor in that the specificity of the holocaust actually makes it less sinister than the bin ladenist outlook. one required the extermination of a particular group of people; the other seeks the extermination of all people who are not of the particular group. again, one is rooted in the real and the practical and is of this earth, the other is concerned more with the next world.
If the Monsignor were Jewish, I doubt he'd find the Holocaust "less sinister"! Seriously, I see no meaningful moral distinction here. A person willing to kill an entire race is not innately less evil than one willing to kill everyone not of their own. The former goal may be more "realistic," but that hardly makes it less sinister. Anyhow, even bin Laden's stated goals are quite a bit more focused than "kill all non-Muslims," tributes to the diversity of WTC victims notwithstanding.

Also, this reasoning seems to suggest that Nazism was some sort of rational, pragmatic worldview, which is very very far from the case. Race hatred, sadly, is pedestrian enough, but some of their visions of the ideal Aryan society were just as bizarre and otherworldly as those "ten thousand celestial virgins" pundits love to rant about. Whether both elements (the mythic and the "real"--if you can call Jews-as-pestilence "real") are necessary to explain the Holocaust is an important question, but not one I feel qualified to answer.

Quote:
ideals are important. but we are better of with an awareness of the potential for religion's abuse, and the surest way to guard against this is to maintain a secular state.
Well, I certainly prefer a secular state myself. I'm afraid the jury may still be out on how effective it really is in preventing the emergence of militant fundamentalisms, though. It's not enough to observe that we don't (yet?) have that problem here--there are too many other variables playing into the equation. And we do seem to be moving into an era, God forbid, where whether or not such groups enjoy government support matters less and less to how "successful" they can be. But then who is to blame for weapons proliferation?
Quote:
ugh ... hope that made some sense ... been a long week ...
Yes...you always make sense. It's been a long week here too...here's hoping for a better next one at both ends.
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