"God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#421

Post by jimhabegger » Thu Aug 04, 2016 6:34 pm

Hunnybunny, I think that the murders at Charlie Hebdo were wrong, and nothing can make them right. I think that 9/11 was wrong. I think that wanting to impose any interpretation of the Quran on all people would be wrong. I think that strictly following any interpretation of the Quran, literal or not, would be wrong. I think that most or all of the killing and destruction that we're seeing in media stories, in the name of Islam, is wrong. I think that female genital mutilation is wrong. Those are all things that some people call Islam, and If saying all that is what you mean by "criticism of Islam," then no, I'm not saying that criticism of Islam is demonizing Muslims.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#422

Post by jimhabegger » Thu Aug 04, 2016 6:39 pm

Kirbmarc, please answer this honestly and frankly. Do you have any friendly interest in what I think about anything you said, or any friendly interest in me, at all? If so, please tell me something about your friendly interest in me.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#423

Post by jimhabegger » Thu Aug 04, 2016 8:13 pm

Kirbmarc wrote:It's not a matter of "West", but a matter of human rights, of the values of separation of church and state, due process, equality before the law, freedom of speech, etc.

Those aren't "Western" values. They're modern values. Modernity wasn't just made in the West, and it doesn't apply just to the West.
I'm curious about something. Whatever you mean by all that, do you think that those are the best possible values, for all time, and that there's no possible room for improvement?

Another question: Why do you choose the word "modern" to characterize what you currently see as the best possible values, as if that's their defining feature? Surely you don't think that newer automatically means better.

In fact, what do you think the word "modern" communicates about your values, anyway? Certainly not the most widely practiced and promoted in any societies today.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#424

Post by jimhabegger » Thu Aug 04, 2016 8:39 pm

Kirbmarc, here's another question I'm curious about. If you see one person saying that it's better for societies to be governed by modern values, and another person saying that it's better for societies to be governed by Islamic values, without knowing any more about them, would you presume that the first person has better values, has a better character, and/or is a better thinker than the second?

Do you think that there's necessarily a negative correlation between the percentage of Muslims in a country, and the honesty, integrity, fairness, trustworthiness, peacefulness, critical thinking and other virtues of its people and its leaders?

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#425

Post by Kirbmarc » Thu Aug 04, 2016 11:25 pm

jimhabegger wrote:
Kirbmarc wrote:It's not a matter of "West", but a matter of human rights, of the values of separation of church and state, due process, equality before the law, freedom of speech, etc.

Those aren't "Western" values. They're modern values. Modernity wasn't just made in the West, and it doesn't apply just to the West.
I'm curious about something. Whatever you mean by all that, do you think that those are the best possible values, for all time, and that there's no possible room for improvement?
They're the best values in the world where we live right now. We live in a world where the Internet exists, where communities are a mix of different ethnic backgrounds and religious confessions, where people travel abroad frequently, where people marry people from different ethnic and/or religious background frequently, where most people live in cities and no longer in isolated villages.

This is a global world. There's no escaping this reality, at least not unless a major catastrophe brings us back technologically and sociologically. In this world you need to find a way for different religions to coexist as the best as they can. Reasonable people can come to a reasonable compromise, no matter their religious beliefs, but that's true if and only if they're on the same level of power.

If a religion or an ideology is given the legal power to disenfranchise others, if inequality before the law is codified in the laws, if an opinion is censored and repressed for being "offensive", etc, all you are causing is inter-religious and inter-ethnic wars.

The idea that the rules of your religion or ideology should be applied also to people who don't believe in it is an inherently oppressive and aggressive idea, no matter how good you believe your religion or ideology to be.

Separation of Church and state, equality, due process, freedom of opinion, etc, are the best expression of institutional neutrality.

Of course those values aren't enough to create a fair society: you need some measures which correct inequality of opportunities, you need to have equal access to good legal assistance, good education and health care affordable to anyone, decent chances to get a loan for a sound idea, or a job, based on their merits, not on your ethnic and religious background, etc. But institutional neutrality is the backbone of society which seeks to avoid inter-religious wars or tensions.

To make a good analogy, imagine we're having a game of chess. If I systematically violated the rules and a referee looked the other way because he favors my ideas about chess, would the game be fair?
Another question: Why do you choose the word "modern" to characterize what you currently see as the best possible values, as if that's their defining feature? Surely you don't think that newer automatically means better.
No, newer isn't automatically better. The SJWs are newer, but their authoritarian ideas aren't very good. I chose "modern" to characterize the values I have written about because they apply and were made for "modern" societies, i.e. societies which exist at a stage of development where the industrial and scientific revolutions have created big cities, mass migrations and mass media.

They're not "the best possible" values. They're the values which work best in an interconnected, multiconfessional, industrialized society. Those societies are far from perfect. They reduce the number of deaths from homicide or child mortality and provide people with much better living standards, health care standards and freedoms, which help to reduce inter-ethnic conflicts if they're applied equally (which sadly often doesn't happen).

On the other hand they "atomize" society and disrupt traditonal group ties. People born and raised to value their group identity over their individual identity find it hard to adapt to the idea of individual values. This is the source of the many tensions within current liberal democracies. Some people are either supporting old group identities or inventing new group identities and preach the subversion of individual rights to favor the rights of their groups.

Neither position is inherently "better" on a personal level. But in a society where different groups have to co-exist placing some groups over others causes widespread inequality and tensions, which can easily degenerate into civil wars.
In fact, what do you think the word "modern" communicates about your values, anyway? Certainly not the most widely practiced and promoted in any societies today.
The value of what is called the "modern age" (not the "contemporary age") in historical circles, i.e. the values which arose post-Enlightenment and post-Industrial revolution.

And those values are the backbone of liberal democracy. Of course in real life nothing is perfect, but, for example, Switzerland or the US are much better at dealing with and promoting those values then North Korea or Saudi Arabia.

I'm not saying that liberal democracies are perfect: they often don't live up to their ideals and principles, they're plagued by the same problems which crop up in every human society (corruption and those who game the system for fun and profit) and they're dealing badly with identity politics due to some widespread levels of social manipulation from many identity politics ideologues. But at the moment they beat the alternative.

Someone who isn't part of the "dominant" group has a much worse life in North Korea, or Iran, or Saudi Arabia, or Somalia, or Zimbabwe than in South Korea, or Switzerland, or Japan, or the UK, or the US.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#426

Post by Kirbmarc » Thu Aug 04, 2016 11:38 pm

jimhabegger wrote:Kirbmarc, here's another question I'm curious about. If you see one person saying that it's better for societies to be governed by modern values, and another person saying that it's better for societies to be governed by Islamic values, without knowing any more about them, would you presume that the first person has better values, has a better character, and/or is a better thinker than the second?

Do you think that there's necessarily a negative correlation between the percentage of Muslims in a country, and the honesty, integrity, fairness, trustworthiness, peacefulness, critical thinking and other virtues of its people and its leaders?
This is not a matter of personal character, or being a better thinker. This is a matter of what works for society at large.

You can be honest, fair, trustworthy, peaceful and a good thinker no matter what you believe or disbelieve.

I'm an atheist, and I personally think that religions are wrong. But I make efforts not to let my personal ideas cloud my understand of reality.

There are dishonest, unfair, untrustworthy, aggressive atheists who are terrible thinkers (PZ Myers, IMHO) and honest,fair, trustworthy, peaceful Muslims who are excellent thinkers (Maajid Nawaz,IMHO). But your good personal values (assuming you have them) aren't enough for you to argue that your ideas should apply to society at large. Nawaz, for example, understands this. Myers doesn't.

It's not even a matter of Islam per se. It's a matter of wanting Muslim values to apply to non-Muslims, or to former Muslims. If you like Islam as your private standard for life and are an overall decent person I have no issues with how you choose to regulate your own life. It's your life, and you should be free to regualte in the way that makes more sense to you.

The problems come where you're either not a decent person or your want your private standards to apply to everyone, even people who don't or stopped to believe in them.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#427

Post by Kirbmarc » Thu Aug 04, 2016 11:50 pm

By decent person I mean that you respect other people's rights: you don't kill, rape, assault, steal, defraud or smear others, you have empathy for others and respect the pacts and obligations you've made, or at least are ready to face the consequences of your actions when you make mistakes.

Nobody can be a perfect person, but some standards aren't impossible to follow.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#428

Post by Kirbmarc » Thu Aug 04, 2016 11:52 pm

The problems with Islam these days is that it's often become a source of identity politics, of an ideology of dominance over others in the name of fighting against "corruption" and "degeneracy".

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#429

Post by jimhabegger » Fri Aug 05, 2016 1:07 am

Kirbmarc, thank you for answering those questions. If you'd like to know what I think about any of that, let me know.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#430

Post by jimhabegger » Fri Aug 05, 2016 2:52 am

Kirbmarc, I'm confused now about what, if anything, your post #420 above, in which you quoted what I said to Hunnybunny, has to do with what I said to her. I gave some examples of what I see as people demonizing Muslims. Are you disagreeing with me about that? If so, are you disagreeing that people say those things, or are you disagreeing that they're demonizing Muslims?
Maybe no one says "Islam is incompatible with Western civilization" in exactly those words. They might say "enlightenment values," or "modern values," or "liberal values," or "freedom and democracy." They might say "Islam is incompatible," or "it's impossible for Islam to coexist" with those values. Have you not seen people saying anything like that, or do you disagree that it's anti-Muslim propaganda, revolving around prejudices against Muslims?

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#431

Post by jimhabegger » Fri Aug 05, 2016 8:34 am

Kirbmarc, I think that in discussions about outrageous things that people do in the name of Islam, generalities about Islam and Muslims, favorable or unfavorable, are irrelevant, create needless distractions, and help perpetuate animosities and hostilities, without doing anything to help solve the problems. Do you agree with that?

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#432

Post by Steersman » Sat Aug 06, 2016 12:23 am

jimhabegger wrote:Kirbmarc, I think that in discussions about outrageous things that people do in the name of Islam, generalities about Islam and Muslims, favorable or unfavorable, are irrelevant, create needless distractions, and help perpetuate animosities and hostilities, without doing anything to help solve the problems. Do you agree with that?
Horse shit. The "outrageous thing that people do in the name of Islam" is the crux of the matter. And, nothwithstanding Kirbmarc's prognostications on the matter, they constitute the essence of Islam.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#433

Post by Steersman » Sat Aug 06, 2016 12:55 am

jimhabegger wrote:Kirbmarc, I'm confused now about what, if anything, your post #420 above, in which you quoted what I said to Hunnybunny, has to do with what I said to her. I gave some examples of what I see as people demonizing Muslims. Are you disagreeing with me about that? If so, are you disagreeing that people say those things, or are you disagreeing that they're demonizing Muslims?
Maybe no one says "Islam is incompatible with Western civilization" in exactly those words. They might say "enlightenment values," or "modern values," or "liberal values," or "freedom and democracy." They might say "Islam is incompatible," or "it's impossible for Islam to coexist" with those values. Have you not seen people saying anything like that, or do you disagree that it's anti-Muslim propaganda, revolving around prejudices against Muslims?
Maybe not in precisely those words but pretty damn close. Anthony Flew paraphrasing or summarizing Ibn Warraq - a book you would do well to read (if you're capable of reading anything that contradicts your dogma):
Why I am not a Muslim gives readers abundant excellent reasons for not becoming or remaining Muslims and also makes a compelling case for the conclusion that Islam is flatly incompatible with the establishment and maintenance of the equal individual rights and liberties of a liberal, democratic, secular state. ...
You blather - as is your wont - about "Islamic values" which seem predicated on little more than an unevidenced belief in the existence of "God Himself" who, mirabile dictu, seems to go by the moniker of "Allah" (piss on him, his holy book and his Prophet). But the fact of the matter is that those "Islamic values" have no substance to them - at least no more substance to them than there is to "justify" a belief in Jehovah or Zeus or Thor or Kali or any of the 100,000 other gawds humans have believed in over the millennia. So there's diddly squat in the way of justification for your claim that it's "better for societies to be governed by Islamic values" than by secular values. And Western societies so governed at least have the claim to having materially improved society which is certainly nothing than Islamic societies can do, societies which are still stuck in the barbarism and savagery and ignorance of the 6th century.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#434

Post by Kirbmarc » Sat Aug 06, 2016 1:37 am

jimhabegger wrote:Kirbmarc, I'm confused now about what, if anything, your post #420 above, in which you quoted what I said to Hunnybunny, has to do with what I said to her. I gave some examples of what I see as people demonizing Muslims. Are you disagreeing with me about that? If so, are you disagreeing that people say those things, or are you disagreeing that they're demonizing Muslims?
I disagree with you about the fact that people who are arguing about those things are definitely demonizing Muslims. They might oversimplify a complex issue, but they're not necessarily doing it out of a deep desire to demonize Muslims. Islam has some issues that need to be acknowledged.

I don't think that those issues are impossible to fix, or that Muslims are impossible to reason with, or that all Muslims support the attitudes that cause those issues, but those issues exist, and denying them, saying that Islam is actually pure and innocent and "the religion of peace", is worse than the overly simplified version that some people use to discuss those issues. Denial is worse than slogans.

Of course the ideal discourse on the issues of Islam would focus on the nuance, on the differences between different positions within Islam, but in order to show that change is possible, not in order to defend the status quo as actually OK, to defuse criticism. Islam needs to change: if not doctrinally, at least socially. I think that it can change, slowly and gradually, up to a point where it's not more harmful than Christianity, but there's a lot of work to be done.

Muslims need to understand and accept the principles of liberal, secular democracies, of the Enlightenment. They don't need to like them, but they need to understand that those principles are the foundation of modernity, and that trying to install Muslim theocracies, in open or covert ways, isn't going to end well for anyone.

They can still practice their religion as a matter of private choice and organize their associations as private associations, just like Christians or Buddhists or Hinduists or Wiccans do. They can't, however, plan to take over secular societies and revert the progress towards secular principles, unless they want to face repercussions.
Maybe no one says "Islam is incompatible with Western civilization" in exactly those words. They might say "enlightenment values," or "modern values," or "liberal values," or "freedom and democracy." They might say "Islam is incompatible," or "it's impossible for Islam to coexist" with those values. Have you not seen people saying anything like that, or do you disagree that it's anti-Muslim propaganda, revolving around prejudices against Muslims?
It's propaganda only if it's used to justify violations of the civil rights of Muslims and/or criminal acts against them. If it's used as more simple version of a more nuanced, detailed criticism of the many flaws of many schools of thought within Islam, then it's not anti-Muslim propaganda, it's simply imprecise and overly simple criticism, just like saying "Christians think that homosexuality is evil" is imprecise and overly simple criticism of Christianity, not "anti-Christian propaganda".

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#435

Post by Kirbmarc » Sat Aug 06, 2016 1:48 am

jimhabegger wrote:Kirbmarc, I think that in discussions about outrageous things that people do in the name of Islam, generalities about Islam and Muslims, favorable or unfavorable, are irrelevant, create needless distractions, and help perpetuate animosities and hostilities, without doing anything to help solve the problems. Do you agree with that?
Generalities are imprecise but by and large unavoidable. Denial is worse, though. What helps to perpetuate animosities and hostilities are calls for removal of civil rights or for acts of violence of for crimes and subversion.

It's good to call out generalities as being imprecise and yes, ultimately unproductive, but this has to happen in a context where real issues can be discussed and aren't swept aside by political correctness and unproductive justifications to deny the responsibilities of Muslims for their actions and choices.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#436

Post by Kirbmarc » Sat Aug 06, 2016 2:14 am

Steersman wrote:
jimhabegger wrote:Kirbmarc, I think that in discussions about outrageous things that people do in the name of Islam, generalities about Islam and Muslims, favorable or unfavorable, are irrelevant, create needless distractions, and help perpetuate animosities and hostilities, without doing anything to help solve the problems. Do you agree with that?
Horse shit. The "outrageous thing that people do in the name of Islam" is the crux of the matter. And, nothwithstanding Kirbmarc's prognostications on the matter, they constitute the essence of Islam.
If we were arguing a couple of decades ago you would have said that condemnation of homosexuality was the essence of Christianity, of Christians and of nations with a Christian majority. This is no longer so true today.

Religions can be tamed. It takes a lot of work, but it can happen. I don't believe in "essences". I think that literalism and coherent religious prescriptions are horrible when they become a matter of politics, and pretty bad when they lead to social issues, but literalism is only one part of religions.

Plenty of people actually don't know much about the religions they claim to profess. They follow the words of the people who tell them how to interpret their holy books. It's those people who have the real power in religion. Clerics have a huge amount of social, and potentially political, power. Those who finance them and train them are those who determine the social and political messages of religion.

In the case of Islam this means by and large the highest bidder, since imams (especially in Sunna) aren't members of a rigidly hierarchical organization like the Catholic Church. And the highest bidders among Sunni Muslims are the petro-countries: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, the EAU, Bahrein, Oman, etc., or better yet, their political and religious authorities. They promote a version of Islam which is incompatible with liberal democracy because they're not from liberal democracies, they're from authoritarian theocracies.

That's why they're the real source of most issues within Islam, and why we should focus on curbing their messages instead of making people think that they represent "the real Islam".

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#437

Post by jimhabegger » Sat Aug 06, 2016 4:15 am

Kirbmarc wrote:
jimhabegger wrote:... I gave some examples of what I see as people demonizing Muslims. Are you disagreeing with me about that? If so, are you disagreeing that people say those things, or are you disagreeing that they're demonizing Muslims?
I disagree with you about the fact that people who are arguing about those things are definitely demonizing Muslims. They might oversimplify a complex issue, but they're not necessarily doing it out of a deep desire to demonize Muslims. Islam has some issues that need to be acknowledged.
There are things that people say and do, that they call Islam, that I think need to be addressed, but I think that generalizations about Islam and Muslims, favorable or unfavorable, only help perpetuate and intensify those problems, without addressing them in any beneficial way at all, and I think that most or all of that kind of "criticism of Islam" revolves exclusively around prejudices against Muslims, one way or another. For example, some people might be doing it to excuse or camouflage their prejudices, some might be advancing their careers by appealing to the anti-Muslim prejudices of others, but one way or another it's all about defaming Muslims, and not at all about addressing issues that need to be addressed, in any beneficial way.
I don't think that those issues are impossible to fix, or that Muslims are impossible to reason with, or that all Muslims support the attitudes that cause those issues, but those issues exist, and denying them, saying that Islam is actually pure and innocent and "the religion of peace", is worse than the overly simplified version that some people use to discuss those issues. Denial is worse than slogans.
Please note that I said, here and in my earlier post, "generalizations about Islam and Muslims, favorable or unfavorable." That includes stupid slogans like "Islam is the religion of peace."
Of course the ideal discourse on the issues of Islam would focus on the nuance, on the differences between different positions within Islam, but in order to show that change is possible, not in order to defend the status quo as actually OK, to defuse criticism. Islam needs to change: if not doctrinally, at least socially. I think that it can change, slowly and gradually, up to a point where it's not more harmful than Christianity, but there's a lot of work to be done.
If by "issues of Islam," you mean the outrageous things that people are doing in the name of Islam, for me the ideal discourse on those issues, would not focus on Islam in any way at all. It would focus on the popular attitudes and behaviors, in all societies everywhere, that are perpetuating all this madness, how to change that, and how to help reduce and counteract the damage. The only mention of Islam would be in discussing how to encourage and support Muslims who are promoting its healthiest versions.
Muslims need to understand and accept the principles of liberal, secular democracies, of the Enlightenment. They don't need to like them, but they need to understand that those principles are the foundation of modernity, and that trying to install Muslim theocracies, in open or covert ways, isn't going to end well for anyone.
I think that Muslims, just like everyone else, need to free themselves from their prejudices against people whose ideologies are contrary to theirs, and to learn not to draw ideological lines between people and devalue people across those lines. I see no reason to single out Muslims in that regard.
They can still practice their religion as a matter of private choice and organize their associations as private associations, just like Christians or Buddhists or Hinduists or Wiccans do. They can't, however, plan to take over secular societies and revert the progress towards secular principles, unless they want to face repercussions.
Earlier you wrote:
The idea that the rules of your religion or ideology should be applied also to people who don't believe in it is an inherently oppressive and aggressive idea, no matter how good you believe your religion or ideology to be.
That's exactly what I see you doing here, proposing to impose the rules of your ideology on people who don't believe in it.
Jim wrote:Maybe no one says "Islam is incompatible with Western civilization" in exactly those words. They might say "enlightenment values," or "modern values," or "liberal values," or "freedom and democracy." They might say "Islam is incompatible," or "it's impossible for Islam to coexist" with those values. Have you not seen people saying anything like that, or do you disagree that it's anti-Muslim propaganda, revolving around prejudices against Muslims?
Kirbmarc wrote:It's propaganda only if it's used to justify violations of the civil rights of Muslims and/or criminal acts against them. If it's used as more simple version of a more nuanced, detailed criticism of the many flaws of many schools of thought within Islam, then it's not anti-Muslim propaganda, it's simply imprecise and overly simple criticism, just like saying "Christians think that homosexuality is evil" is imprecise and overly simple criticism of Christianity, not "anti-Christian propaganda".
I have an issue that I'd like to discuss with you later, about people deflecting criticism of their defamation campaigns against Muslims, dishonestly in my view, by calling what they're saying "criticism of Islam."
It's good to call out generalities as being imprecise and yes, ultimately unproductive, but this has to happen in a context where real issues can be discussed and aren't swept aside by political correctness and unproductive justifications to deny the responsibilities of Muslims for their actions and choices.
I agree. As I said, I'm denouncing favorable generalizations about Islam and Muslims, and defamation campaigns against people defaming them, just as much as I'm denouncing unfavorable generalizations about Islam and Muslims, and defamation campaigns against Muslims.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#438

Post by jimhabegger » Sat Aug 06, 2016 4:33 am

Kirbmarc, I don't think that anyone who is doing any kind of honest responsible criticism of any kind, would ever call it "criticism of Islam." Calling it that, shows from the very start that whatever the person is doing, it is not honest, responsible criticism, designed to address any issues in any beneficial way.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#439

Post by Kirbmarc » Sat Aug 06, 2016 9:32 am

jimhabegger wrote:Kirbmarc, I don't think that anyone who is doing any kind of honest responsible criticism of any kind, would ever call it "criticism of Islam." Calling it that, shows from the very start that whatever the person is doing, it is not honest, responsible criticism, designed to address any issues in any beneficial way.
This is absurd. Would you say the same about "criticism of Christianity"? What about "criticism of Communism"?

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#440

Post by Kirbmarc » Sat Aug 06, 2016 10:32 am

jimhabegger wrote: There are things that people say and do, that they call Islam, that I think need to be addressed, but I think that generalizations about Islam and Muslims, favorable or unfavorable, only help perpetuate and intensify those problems, without addressing them in any beneficial way at all, and I think that most or all of that kind of "criticism of Islam" revolves exclusively around prejudices against Muslims, one way or another. For example, some people might be doing it to excuse or camouflage their prejudices, some might be advancing their careers by appealing to the anti-Muslim prejudices of others, but one way or another it's all about defaming Muslims, and not at all about addressing issues that need to be addressed, in any beneficial way.
This is your opinion. If you're not supporting your opinion with any data or precise criticism it's all too vague and dogmatic. I don't see why Islam cannot be criticized, and why you insist in calling the issues within Islam "things that people say and do, that they call Islam", as if there were a "real Islam" who is somehow blameless and immune from criticism.

Islam has issues. The same thing can be said (to a different degree) about Christianity, or Buddhism, or really any religion or ideology. I don't see why Islam should be considered special and why we have to adopt terms like "things that people called Islam", as if Islam was somehow independent by how people interpret it.
Please note that I said, here and in my earlier post, "generalizations about Islam and Muslims, favorable or unfavorable." That includes stupid slogans like "Islam is the religion of peace."
Good. But that's not enough. You need to allow people to criticize ideas, including Muslim ideas. Intellectually honest people should correct inaccurate criticism, point out over-simplification and lack of nuance, and uphold the civil rights of everyone, but they shouldn't abdicate from criticism in the name of "avoiding generalizations". As I've already written the problem isn't just terrorism and violence, the problem is the idea that society should be reshaped according to Muslim values, regardless of what non-Muslims want.
If by "issues of Islam," you mean the outrageous things that people are doing in the name of Islam, for me the ideal discourse on those issues, would not focus on Islam in any way at all. It would focus on the popular attitudes and behaviors, in all societies everywhere, that are perpetuating all this madness, how to change that, and how to help reduce and counteract the damage. The only mention of Islam would be in discussing how to encourage and support Muslims who are promoting its healthiest versions.
This means denying reality, and saying that everyone is equally to blame. There are some issues which are specific or more widespread in Islam. Denying this and saying that all the issues in Islam are the same issues of all people everywhere is absurd and counterproductive.

Communism is an ideology which promotes some very specific messages, which have causes some issues. We shouldn't censor communist ideas, or infringe on the right of Communists, but we also shouldn't abstain from criticizing Communism accurately without having to resort to the lie that the issues caused by Communism aren't actually Communism and that "criticism of Communism" is all propaganda and .

Why should Islam be treated in a different way?
I think that Muslims, just like everyone else, need to free themselves from their prejudices against people whose ideologies are contrary to theirs, and to learn not to draw ideological lines between people and devalue people across those lines. I see no reason to single out Muslims in that regard.
While I agree that prejudices based on false data are dangerous, and that people don't lose value for their religious/ideological affiliation, t's impossible not to draw ideological or religious lines. Some ideas are wildly different, and those differences in ideas lead to differences in action. The important thing is understand the line between private, personal choices and society at large.
They can still practice their religion as a matter of private choice and organize their associations as private associations, just like Christians or Buddhists or Hinduists or Wiccans do. They can't, however, plan to take over secular societies and revert the progress towards secular principles, unless they want to face repercussions.
Earlier you wrote:
The idea that the rules of your religion or ideology should be applied also to people who don't believe in it is an inherently oppressive and aggressive idea, no matter how good you believe your religion or ideology to be.
That's exactly what I see you doing here, proposing to impose the rules of your ideology on people who don't believe in it.
No, I'm simply not allowing people of any religion or ideological stripe to impose it onto others against their will. In order to do so you need secularism, which is simply the neutrality of laws and institutions in matters of religion and ideology.

Imagine a game of football. The referee must be neutral, or the game isn't fair. If you think that the game is fair only when it favors your team and that the neutrality of the referee is an unfair imposition on your ideas then you have a pretty twisted idea of fairness.
I have an issue that I'd like to discuss with you later, about people deflecting criticism of their defamation campaigns against Muslims, dishonestly in my view, by calling what they're saying "criticism of Islam."
I'll be waiting. I'm sure that some people (Sean Hannity for example) use "criticism of Islam" as a smokescreen for bigotry, but your argument would be better supported by a discussion of the specific claims of specific people. In order to understand whether a claim is bigotry or a legitimate criticism you need to analyze the claim itself and the context where and when it was made. Generically talking about people who hide bigotry behind claims of criticism is too vague to say anything of value.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#441

Post by Kirbmarc » Sat Aug 06, 2016 10:37 am

And even Sean Hannity looked good and was in the right when he was facing an authoritarian Muslim supremacist like Anjem Choudary. So you see, even bigots can be right at times.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#442

Post by jimhabegger » Sat Aug 06, 2016 1:21 pm

Kirbmarc, one point you've brought out, which I agree with wholeheartedly and which I was neglecting, is that responding to outrageous things that people do in the name of Islam, with defensive generalizations about Islam and Muslims, is irrelevant, creates needless distractions, and helps perpetuate and intensify hostilities, without doing anything to address the issues in any beneficial way, just as much as responding with defamatory ones.

I'll post later about some more of the things you've discussed, and about people diverting attention from their defamation of Muslims with red herrings about criticism of Islam.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#443

Post by Steersman » Sat Aug 06, 2016 1:43 pm

jimhabegger wrote:Kirbmarc, one point you've brought out, which I agree with wholeheartedly and which I was neglecting, is that responding to outrageous things that people do in the name of Islam, with defensive generalizations about Islam and Muslims, is irrelevant, creates needless distractions, and helps perpetuate and intensify hostilities, without doing anything to address the issues in any beneficial way, just as much as responding with defamatory ones.

I'll post later about some more of the things you've discussed, and about people diverting attention from their defamation of Muslims with red herrings about criticism of Islam.
More horse shit - par for the course from you. "Outrageous things" is typical and characteristic of Muslims, although I expect there might be a few exceptions to the rule:

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#444

Post by jimhabegger » Sat Aug 06, 2016 1:47 pm

Kirbmarc wrote:
jimhabegger wrote:Kirbmarc, I don't think that anyone who is doing any kind of honest responsible criticism of any kind, would ever call it "criticism of Islam." Calling it that, shows from the very start that whatever the person is doing, it is not honest, responsible criticism, designed to address any issues in any beneficial way.
This is absurd. Would you say the same about "criticism of Christianity"? What about "criticism of Communism"?
Yes.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#445

Post by Kirbmarc » Sat Aug 06, 2016 1:51 pm

Steersman wrote:
jimhabegger wrote:Kirbmarc, one point you've brought out, which I agree with wholeheartedly and which I was neglecting, is that responding to outrageous things that people do in the name of Islam, with defensive generalizations about Islam and Muslims, is irrelevant, creates needless distractions, and helps perpetuate and intensify hostilities, without doing anything to address the issues in any beneficial way, just as much as responding with defamatory ones.

I'll post later about some more of the things you've discussed, and about people diverting attention from their defamation of Muslims with red herrings about criticism of Islam.
More horse shit - par for the course from you. "Outrageous things" is typical and characteristic of Muslims, although I expect there might be a few exceptions to the rule:
The literal interpretation of the Quran is a manual for "outrageous things". Of course you can interpret it non-literally (and read "sharp intellectual debate guided by reason" where the Quran has "decapitation", like the Sufis do) but many Muslims accept no non-literal interpretation.

The Bible, if interpreted literally, is also rife of "outrageous things", but most people today do not interpret it literally, or at least not all of it.

That's the biggest difference between Christianity and Islam these days.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#446

Post by Kirbmarc » Sat Aug 06, 2016 1:52 pm

jimhabegger wrote:
Kirbmarc wrote:
jimhabegger wrote:Kirbmarc, I don't think that anyone who is doing any kind of honest responsible criticism of any kind, would ever call it "criticism of Islam." Calling it that, shows from the very start that whatever the person is doing, it is not honest, responsible criticism, designed to address any issues in any beneficial way.
This is absurd. Would you say the same about "criticism of Christianity"? What about "criticism of Communism"?
Yes.
Then you're making criticism of any religion or ideology impossible. What about "criticism of Nazism"?

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#447

Post by jimhabegger » Sat Aug 06, 2016 1:55 pm

Kirbmarc wrote:... the problem is the idea that society should be reshaped according to Muslim values, regardless of what non-Muslims want.
What makes that a problem, that doesn't apply equally to the idea that society should reshaped according to your values, regardless of what anyone else wants?

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#448

Post by jimhabegger » Sat Aug 06, 2016 2:06 pm

jimhabegger wrote:
Kirbmarc wrote:
jimhabegger wrote:Kirbmarc, I don't think that anyone who is doing any kind of honest responsible criticism of any kind, would ever call it "criticism of Islam." Calling it that, shows from the very start that whatever the person is doing, it is not honest, responsible criticism, designed to address any issues in any beneficial way.
This is absurd. Would you say the same about "criticism of Christianity"? What about "criticism of Communism"?
Yes.
Kirbmarc wrote:Then you're making criticism of any religion or ideology impossible. What about "criticism of Nazism"?
I'll try to clarify later, but I'm not sure I'll be able to do it in the next few hours or even days.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#449

Post by Kirbmarc » Sat Aug 06, 2016 2:19 pm

jimhabegger wrote:
Kirbmarc wrote:... the problem is the idea that society should be reshaped according to Muslim values, regardless of what non-Muslims want.
What makes that a problem, that doesn't apply equally to the idea that society should reshaped according to your values, regardless of what anyone else wants?
Secular values are neutral. They don't assign a prominent place to any religion or ideology.

Muslim values aren't neutral. They assign a prominent place to Islam over other religions and ideologies.

I'm not asking Muslims not to live as Muslims. I'm asking Muslims to allow non-Muslims to live as non-Muslims.

I'm asking Muslims to respect the right of non-Muslims, or of former Muslims, to ignore the values of Islam and to choose other values.

The analogy with the football game and the referee works pretty well. The referee needs to aspire to neutrality, not to favor one team over another.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#450

Post by Kirbmarc » Sat Aug 06, 2016 2:21 pm

Secularism isn't atheism, by the way. The founders of secularism in the US were all religious. They simply understood that they could separate their private beliefs from the works of the state.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#451

Post by jimhabegger » Sat Aug 06, 2016 2:37 pm

I will say now that for me, just because something can credibly be called "criticism," that doesn't automatically make it harmless and/or beneficial in any way. There are some kinds of criticism that I consider beneficial and indispensable, and some kinds that I consider harmful and poisonous without being beneficial in any way. In fact, it looks dishonest to me to conflate them all into one, and treat them all as irreproachable.

I can't think of anything that I've seen people calling "criticism of Islam" that does not look to me like it revolves around defaming Muslims, without being beneficial in any way that couldn't be done better without it. As far as criticism of any other named ideology is concerned, it's hard to say, because I don't remember seeing anyone doing anything they call "criticism of Communism" or "criticism of Nazism" for example.

Maybe it will help if I give some examples of what I think could reasonably be called "criticism of Islam," that I might approve of. I'll be thinking about that.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#452

Post by jimhabegger » Sat Aug 06, 2016 3:00 pm

Maybe I should say rather, I haven't seen anyone continually defaming communists or Nazis, and calling that "criticism of communism" or "criticism of Nazism." If I did, I would think the same about that as I do about continually defaming Muslims and calling that "criticism of Islam.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#453

Post by Steersman » Sat Aug 06, 2016 3:09 pm

Kirbmarc wrote:
Steersman wrote:
jimhabegger wrote:Kirbmarc, I think that in discussions about outrageous things that people do in the name of Islam, generalities about Islam and Muslims, favorable or unfavorable, are irrelevant, create needless distractions, and help perpetuate animosities and hostilities, without doing anything to help solve the problems. Do you agree with that?
Horse shit. The "outrageous thing that people do in the name of Islam" is the crux of the matter. And, nothwithstanding Kirbmarc's prognostications on the matter, they constitute the essence of Islam.
If we were arguing a couple of decades ago you would have said that condemnation of homosexuality was the essence of Christianity, of Christians and of nations with a Christian majority. This is no longer so true today.

Religions can be tamed. It takes a lot of work, but it can happen. I don't believe in "essences". I think that literalism and coherent religious prescriptions are horrible when they become a matter of politics, and pretty bad when they lead to social issues, but literalism is only one part of religions.
You don't think that, for example, the "essence" of gun powder is "sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate"?

But maybe you're too close to the trees to see the forest. Or I was too hasty in eliding the logical step, as you sort of suggested in a later comment, from those "outrageous things" - speaking of which, been following the news lately? - to what more than a few ex-Muslims and others have more or less characterized as the essence of Islam, i.e, its literalism. Consider this first from a Guardian review of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Heretic:
Having previously argued that Islam was beyond reform, in Heretic she says she wants to strike a more conciliatory note. She sets out to find common ground with the majority of Muslims who view their religion as peaceful and spiritual. While this may be a noble aim, one doubts that a meeting of minds is about to occur anytime soon. For one thing, Hirsi Ali calls for a wholesale Islamic reformation. It makes no sense, she says, to maintain, as so many politicians and religious leaders do, that the terrorism seen in Pakistan, Kenya, Nigeria, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere has no religious justification in Islamic texts. “We delude ourselves,” she writes, “that our deadliest foes are somehow not actuated by the ideology they openly affirm.”

She quotes chapter and verse of violent exhortations in the Qur’an, and argues that as long as Muslims hold to the notion that the book is the literal word of God then extremists will be able to lay confident claim to theological rationale for their acts. Put simply, her position is that “religious doctrines matter and are in need of reform”.

And then there's this from the Facebook page of Simi Rahman:
I went deep into the Midwest, wore a hijab for a year and lived there for 8 years. In that time, I attended ISNA gatherings, met w educated, professional people like myself who were also asking the same questions. They were looking to their faith for answers. And sure, there were efforts made to modernize Islam, but they were only superficial. We couldn't do it. We couldn't do it because there is a logical dilemma at the core of Islam. And that is, that the Quran is the last word of God, that it is perfect and unchangeable. And to even suggest such a thing is blasphemy and apostasy.
And then there is Anthony Flew's review of Ibn Warraq's Why I'm Not a Muslim - a book that both you and "jimhabegger", among others, should read, although I doubt Jim has the intellectual integrity to do so. In any case, Flew:
On this understanding a fully believing Christian does not have to be fundamentalist. Instead it is both necessary and sufficient to accept the Apostles' and/or The Nicene Creed. In Islam, however, the situation is altogether different. For, whereas only a very small proportion of all the propositions contained in the Old and New Testaments are presented as statements made directly by God in any of the three persons of the Trinity, The Koran consists entirely and exclusively of what are alleged to be revelations from Allah (God). Therefore, with regard to The Koran, all Muslims must be as such fundamentalists; and anyone denying anything asserted in The Koran ceases, ipso facto, to be properly accounted a Muslim. Those whom the media call fundamentalists would therefore better be described as revivalists.
A case in point being Jim, and others of his ilk, who desperately hangs onto his belief that the Quran is the "words of God Himself" which basically precludes him from ever admitting that it is rife with horseshit, with barbarisms and ignorance and savagery. Rots of ruck trying to have a rational conversation with him, although you're to be commended for trying; it at least shows his dogmatism, his "bona fides" as a paradigmatic godbot.
Kirbmarc wrote:Plenty of people actually don't know much about the religions they claim to profess. They follow the words of the people who tell them how to interpret their holy books. It's those people who have the real power in religion. Clerics have a huge amount of social, and potentially political, power. Those who finance them and train them are those who determine the social and political messages of religion.
Don't see how that lets them off the hook. As Rizvi argues, "moderates" still "revere" a "holy book" [ha! what a fucking joke - piss on it and on the Prophet] that "endorses misogyny, murder, [and] homophobia". Which I and many others see as making them culpable - to some degree - for the depredations of the "extremists". I doubt you've read the Quillette post - The Josiah Effect: How Moderate Religion Fuels Fundamentalism - on the topic, despite my repeated quotes of it, but it provides credible justification for the argument.
Kirbmarc wrote:That's why they're the real source of most issues within Islam, and why we should focus on curbing their messages instead of making people think that they represent "the real Islam".
That's whitewashing Islam, and ignoring the "logical dilemma" at the core of it, in the "essence" of it - i.e., that the "violent exhortations in the Quran" simply can't be repudiated by "moderate" Muslims because the Quran is seen as "perfect and unchangeable", as entirely the words of gawd. Something, as Flew notes, that is rather different from Christianity - even if some Christians are more like most if not all Muslims in that regard.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#454

Post by jimhabegger » Sat Aug 06, 2016 3:13 pm

I will also say that I don't think that statistical comparisons across any lines that are commonly drawn between religions, or between followers of religions and other people, can be helpful in any way, in solving any social problems, and I don't think that anything but blind prejudice can make anyone think that they are.

I won't say that it would be impossible to draw lines based on beliefs and practice, that might be useful in some way. I'm not sure that's possible. I'm not sure it isn't. I am sure that if it is possible, it wouldn't be any of the lines that are popular now.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#455

Post by Steersman » Sat Aug 06, 2016 3:15 pm

jimhabegger wrote:I will also say that I don't think that statistical comparisons across any lines that are commonly drawn between religions, or between followers of religions and other people, can be helpful in any way, in solving any social problems, and I don't think that anything but blind prejudice can make anyone think that they are.

I won't say that it would be impossible to draw lines based on beliefs and practice, that might be useful in some way. I'm not sure that's possible. I'm not sure it isn't. I am sure that if it is possible, it wouldn't be any of the lines that are popular now.
More blathering, more motivated reasoning, more intellectual dishonesty.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#456

Post by jimhabegger » Sat Aug 06, 2016 4:35 pm

Kirbmarc, I've already given examples of what I think could reasonably be called "criticism of Islam," that I would approve of.
jimhabegger wrote:Hunnybunny, I think that the murders at Charlie Hebdo were wrong, and nothing can make them right. I think that 9/11 was wrong. I think that wanting to impose any interpretation of the Quran on all people would be wrong. I think that strictly following any interpretation of the Quran, literal or not, would be wrong. I think that most or all of the killing and destruction that we're seeing in media stories, in the name of Islam, is wrong. I think that female genital mutilation is wrong. Those are all things that some people call Islam, and If saying all that is what you mean by "criticism of Islam," then no, I'm not saying that criticism of Islam is demonizing Muslims.
Those are all things that the people doing them call "Islam," so I could agree with calling that "criticism of Islam."

My intention in saying "what some people call Islam," is the opposite of what you seem to think. I'm saying that whatever anyone says or does that they call "Islam," I'm willing to call that "Islam" too, and to call criticism of it "criticism of Islam."

I'm also willing to call defamation of Muslims "criticism of Islam," but for me, calling it that doesn't sanctify it, or make it beneficial in any way, or negate any of the harmfulness of it.

I'm saying that mingling discussions of outrageous things that people do in the name of Islam, with generalizations and statistics about Islam and Muslims, defames all Muslims and is intended to to do so, and helps perpetuate and intensify hostilities all around, without doing anything to help reduce the violence and counteract its effects. Defending that as "criticism of Islam" looks to me like a dishonest way of diverting attention from the harmfulness of that behavior.

I'm not agreeing with calling that "Islamophobia" or "racism," or trying to repress it, or trying to shame and defame people who do it. I'm not agreeing with responding to it with defensive generalizations about Islam and Muslims. I think that also helps perpetuate and intensify hostilities all around, without doing anything to help reduce the violence and counteract its effect.

If you think that generalizations about Islam and Muslims help address the issues in any beneficial way that couldn't be done better without them, I disagree. Actually in most of what you say, I see you addressing the issues without making those generalizations. Maybe you're only throwing in generalizations about Islam and Muslims to make what you're saying more appealing to your audience.

I said that I don't think that anyone doing any honest or responsible criticism of any kind, would call what they're doing "criticism of Islam," I didn't mean that anything anyone calls "criticism of Islam," is dishonest or irresponsible. I'll try to clarify that with a specific example.

If a person says that the murders at Charlie Hebdo were wrong, and nothing can make them right, and someone else calls that "criticism of Islam," I can't reasonably say that it is not criticism of Islam, and I approve of it. So in that sense I'm not saying that all criticism of Islam is dishonest or irresponsible.

If the person saying that the murders at Charlie Hebdo were wrong, intertwines that with defamatory generalizations about Islam and Muslims, and has a habit of responding that way to outrageous things people do in the name of Islam, and dismissing all objections to that behavior as trying to repress criticism of Islam, that looks dishonest and irresponsible to me, and that's the only kind of behavior I've seen anyone calling "criticism of Islam," in the media and on the Internet.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#457

Post by jimhabegger » Sat Aug 06, 2016 4:42 pm

What I meant was, that's the only kind of behavior I've seen anyone defending as "criticism of Islam."

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#458

Post by jimhabegger » Sat Aug 06, 2016 4:53 pm

Kirbmarc, if you followed the discussions about correlations between personality traits and race classifications, and if you understand the idea that if any lines could be drawn on the basis of genetics, that could be useful for any beneficial purposes, those would be very unlikely to be the lines that are commonly drawn between races, then maybe you could consider that I'm saying the same thing about lines based on beliefs and practices. If, and it's a big "if" for me, if any lines could be drawn between people based on beliefs and practices, that could be useful for any beneficial purpose, those lines would certainly not be the ones that are commonly drawn between religions, or between the followers of religions and other people.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#459

Post by Steersman » Sat Aug 06, 2016 5:30 pm

jimhabegger wrote:...

I'm saying that mingling discussions of outrageous things that people do in the name of Islam, with generalizations and statistics about Islam and Muslims, defames all Muslims and is intended to to do so, and helps perpetuate and intensify hostilities all around, without doing anything to help reduce the violence and counteract its effects. Defending that as "criticism of Islam" looks to me like a dishonest way of diverting attention from the harmfulness of that behavior. ...
More unmitigated horseshit. I know you're constitutionally incapable of reading or dealing with anything that contradicts your dogma, but as a point of reference for the benefit and edification of saner observers and participants - you being a lost cause, you might consider the Wikipedia definition for defamation:
Defamation—also calumny, vilification, and traducement—is the communication of a false statement that harms the reputation of an individual person, business, product, group, government, religion, or nation.
Do note the centrality of "false statement". If someone were peddling false statistics and generalizations then you would probably have a point. But the fact of the matter is that most people aren't doing so. For instance, from that Guardian review of Hirsi Ali's Heretic I quoted from earlier:
Put simply, her position is that “religious doctrines matter and are in need of reform”.

But how? The statistics she assembles do not make optimistic reading. For example, 75% of Pakistanis are in favour of the death penalty for apostasy and sharia law is gaining ground in many Muslim-majority nations. ...
You're just blowing smoke out of your arse, just proving your "bona fides" as a dogmatic godbot.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#460

Post by Kirbmarc » Sun Aug 07, 2016 1:50 am

jimhabegger wrote:My intention in saying "what some people call Islam," is the opposite of what you seem to think. I'm saying that whatever anyone says or does that they call "Islam," I'm willing to call that "Islam" too, and to call criticism of it "criticism of Islam."

I'm also willing to call defamation of Muslims "criticism of Islam," but for me, calling it that doesn't sanctify it, or make it beneficial in any way, or negate any of the harmfulness of it.

I'm saying that mingling discussions of outrageous things that people do in the name of Islam, with generalizations and statistics about Islam and Muslims, defames all Muslims and is intended to to do so, and helps perpetuate and intensify hostilities all around, without doing anything to help reduce the violence and counteract its effects. Defending that as "criticism of Islam" looks to me like a dishonest way of diverting attention from the harmfulness of that behavior.
I think that what we have here is a failure to communicate.

I'm not willing to call blatantly false claims based on bigotry (for example "all Muslims support terrorism" or "all Muslims support the authoritarian imposition of Sharia") as honest criticism of Islam. I also think that there is a huge difference between a person who supports violence and a person who simply supports a Muslim-shaped world: the former is much harder to reason with than the latter, for a start, and the former is also much more likely not to report a terrorist or someone who plots a terrorist attack than the latter.

However an accurate picture of what is happening in the world shouldn't simply focus on terrorism and think that any Muslim who rejects terrorism, or even simply rejects the Islamic State, has the same goal and principles of someone who accepts a secular society.

It's important to recognize, for example, that just because an imam rejects the Islamic State they might not reject all terrorism: Al-Nusra fights the Islamic State, but they're a pretty dangerous terrorist organization. Hamas and Hezbollah also fight the Islamic State, and they're terrorist organizations (although they're far less likely to operate in Europe or the US).

At the same time just because an organization doesn't commit acts of terrorism in the "West" and fights terrorists this doesn't mean that they're harmless, or inspired by liberal-democratic principles. The authoritarian theocracy of Iran fights the Islamic State. This doesn't make them less authoritarian, or less of a theocracy, just like the fact that Soviet Russia fought Nazi Germany didn't stop the oppression of dissidents and the other crimes of the Soviet authorities.

It's also important to remember that just because someone says that they're allies of the West, signs treaties with the West or hosts US troops and bases this doesn't mean that they're off the hook: Saudi Arabia and the other petro-countries are allied with the West but have created and financed many groups which preach hatred for "Western corruption", and Turkey under Erdogan is turning into a Salafi-friendly authoritarian dictatorship which applies many theocratic ideas.

The same thing is true for imams in the "West": many of them are against the Islamic State but that's no guarantee that they won't support other violent groups, or that they won't preach ideas which are incompatible with liberal democracy, and therefore a figure of authority should look into the background of an imam they invite as a representative, not just simply read that they condemned the Islamic State and thinks this automatically makes them good people to work with or to give public recognition to.

The issue is that there is a widespread social trend in Muslim communities in "the West", encouraged by some imams and some Middle Eastern powers, to see the West as hopelessly corrupt, as a decadent world ready to be converted and conquered, as plotting the extermination of Muslims, etc. This trend breeds a fertile ground for recruiters for terrorism and creates many hurdles to peaceful integration and acceptance of secular neutrality of institutions.

Polls and other data, if used the right way, can expose this widespread trend, and help us to address and hopefully curb these dangerous messages by identifying which imams preach it, how powerful the message is, and what are the issues that make this message so appealing to those communities.

Some degree of generalization is pretty much inevitable to discuss social tends: no person is identical to another after all. However generalizations aren't necessarily harmful if they're not mixed with rhetoric to curb civil rights or incite violence.

For example "Islam has issues, let's ban Islam and expel all Muslims (except those who pass an arbitrary test)" is harmful. "Islam has issues, let's address them without sweeping them under the carpet" isn't necessarily harmful (it depends what you mean by "addressing").
I'm not agreeing with calling that "Islamophobia" or "racism," or trying to repress it, or trying to shame and defame people who do it. I'm not agreeing with responding to it with defensive generalizations about Islam and Muslims. I think that also helps perpetuate and intensify hostilities all around, without doing anything to help reduce the violence and counteract its effect.
It depends on how it's used. It surely intensifies hostilities if it's used to promote violence and discrimination towards Muslims, or attempts to curb their civil rights. If it's used to address an issue and work towards integration and acceptance of secular values it can actually, depending on how well it's implemented, reduce hostilities by expelling preachers who incite violence, by not promoting those who preach against integration and by promoting those who do, by integrating Muslim communities within the structure of society instead of creating ghettoes with their own rules and laws, and by listening to legitimate complaints about social issues which negatively affect Muslims (like discrimination or attacks) without encouraging radicalization.

Also it's worth pointing out that the duty of a secular state is to also defend the rights of ex-Muslims, of Muslim women, of Muslim LGBT, of Muslims who wish not to follow every rule of Islam, etc. Those rights are often infringed by certain conservative imams, and some authority figures in "the West" have preferred to sweep complaints about those issues under the carpet in order not to upset "community leaders".
If you think that generalizations about Islam and Muslims help address the issues in any beneficial way that couldn't be done better without them, I disagree. Actually in most of what you say, I see you addressing the issues without making those generalizations. Maybe you're only throwing in generalizations about Islam and Muslims to make what you're saying more appealing to your audience
Uhm. No. I'm throwing in generalizations because I think it's pretty much unavoidable to do so to address social trends. I'm not throwing in harmful generalizations to appeal to an audience (which audience?) I'm simply sometimes simplifying some issues because I'm already writing many walls of text and sometimes you don't have the space to write specific definitions for every term you use.
I said that I don't think that anyone doing any honest or responsible criticism of any kind, would call what they're doing "criticism of Islam," I didn't mean that anything anyone calls "criticism of Islam," is dishonest or irresponsible. I'll try to clarify that with a specific example.

If a person says that the murders at Charlie Hebdo were wrong, and nothing can make them right, and someone else calls that "criticism of Islam," I can't reasonably say that it is not criticism of Islam, and I approve of it. So in that sense I'm not saying that all criticism of Islam is dishonest or irresponsible.

If the person saying that the murders at Charlie Hebdo were wrong, intertwines that with defamatory generalizations about Islam and Muslims, and has a habit of responding that way to outrageous things people do in the name of Islam, and dismissing all objections to that behavior as trying to repress criticism of Islam, that looks dishonest and irresponsible to me, and that's the only kind of behavior I've seen anyone calling "criticism of Islam," in the media and on the Internet.
OK. Thanks for the clarification. The problem is that idea that the murders at Charlie Hebdo were wrong and nothing can make them right should be completely non-controversial, but it is controversial in some circles.

Many leftist intellectuals and bloggers (Greenwald, Myers, etc.) have repeatedly blamed the victims by characterizing Charlie Hebdo as being "racist" (it isn't: what some people have called "racist cartoons" were actually a dark satire of racism, and anyone who knows French well enough to read CH and has actually read those cartoons in context is able to understand this). They also have blamed the West in general for the attack, by somehow drawing a line between the Iraq War or other military interventions and the attack. Also some news network have refused to print the cartoons out of fear of repercussions or out of some extreme form of political correctness.

The attack actually happened for one reason and one reason only: the terrorist thought that mocking Mohammed should have been punished with death, and acted accordingly. Nobody forced the terrorists to come to this conclusion, so the legal responsibility lies squarely with them and their financers and trainers. The people who preach the idea that blasphemy is to be punished by death are morally to blame; the people who preach the idea that blasphemy should be "punished" should take a good look at their assumptions.

The fact that some leftist intellectuals don't understand this and have actually smeared CH as racist, or justified or reduced the responsibility of the attackers is a disgrace for the left and a demonstration that many in the left don't give a damn about freedom of speech if it's not their freedom of speech.

The attack should be used as a chance to talk about free speech, and about religious attitudes towards free speech. The Muslim mayor of Rotterdam has put it rather well: if you don't like freedom of speech and want to curb it, either by violence or by authoritarian laws your ideas have no place in a secular society. I'm not saying that Muslims should like those cartoons, but they need to learn to accept their existence, just like Christians accept the existence of cartoons which satirize Christianity.

But the real disgrace of the reactions to the Charlie Hebdo attack have been the reactions of the Regressive Left. I can understand why a Muslim may feel upset by the cartoons (although this feeling doesn't justify neither violence nor authoritarianism) but the idea that a leftist thinker would abdicate from defending freedom of speech and satire in the name of "multiculturalism" or of always blaming the West is absolutely disgusting.

Are there people who have used the Charlie Hebdo attack as a way to ask for curbing the civil rights of Muslims, or for inciting violence and discrimination towards Muslims? Of course. Those people have probably used any attack to justify their ideas. Do these people dominate the discourse in the media? I really don't think so, at least not in all media.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#461

Post by jimhabegger » Sun Aug 07, 2016 2:19 am

Kirbmarc, thanks for all the time and effort you've put into this. I agree that we're probably misunderstanding each other in some of the things we're saying. Anyway, most of what I've seen you posting, on this and other topics, looks really good to me.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#462

Post by jimhabegger » Sun Aug 07, 2016 2:41 am

Kirbarc, something that you and others have been saying has just now sunk in, finally. One reason for insisting so much on criticizing Islam is because some people are insisting so much on not criticizing it. Of course that's what you and others have been saying, but somehow it never sunk in until now. I can definitely sympathize with reacting to that by wanting to criticize Islam all the more.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#463

Post by Steersman » Sun Aug 07, 2016 12:07 pm

jimhabegger wrote:Kirbarc, something that you and others have been saying has just now sunk in, finally. One reason for insisting so much on criticizing Islam is because some people are insisting so much on not criticizing it. Of course that's what you and others have been saying, but somehow it never sunk in until now. I can definitely sympathize with reacting to that by wanting to criticize Islam all the more.
You could always start - though I doubt you will - by considering that, far from being the "words of God Himself", the Quran is largely, if not entirely, the ravings of a psychotic, a madman.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#464

Post by jimhabegger » Sun Aug 07, 2016 5:41 pm

Kirbmarc, I just did a Web search to try to get a better idea of what you could possibly mean by "modern," "enlightenment" or "secular" values, and all I found were huge cans of worms. Do you know any place on the Internet where I can find a complete description of the values that you think are the best values in the world where we live right now, the values which work best in an interconnected, multiconfessional, industrialized society?

The way it looks to me now, you think that what you call "liberal democracies" are better than other societies, and that what makes them better are the values they're allegedly based on, which you're calling "modern," "enlightenment" and "secular" values.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#465

Post by jimhabegger » Sun Aug 07, 2016 6:12 pm

Kirbmarc, it looks to me now like you think that a liberal democracy is better than any other kind of society in the world today, that what makes it better are the values you think it's based on, that most Muslims are promoting a kind of society based on values opposed to those, and that part of what is needed to end the violence is for Muslims to recognize the superiority of a liberal democracy over any kind of society that would be based on any understanding of the Quran as the word of God. Am I understanding you correctly?

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#466

Post by jimhabegger » Sun Aug 07, 2016 7:57 pm

Kirbmarc, would you approve of actions and policies of your government that privilege and advantage liberal democracies over other societies, all around the world? Would you approve of your government supporting campaigns to install liberal democracies in countries where most people don't want them? Would you approve of any other kinds of actions and policies aimed at perpetuating liberal democracies, and replacing other governments with liberal democratic ones, even in countries where most people don't want them?

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#467

Post by Steersman » Sun Aug 07, 2016 8:18 pm

jimhabegger wrote:Kirbmarc, it looks to me now like you think that a liberal democracy is better than any other kind of society in the world today, that what makes it better are the values you think it's based on, that most Muslims are promoting a kind of society based on values opposed to those, and that part of what is needed to end the violence is for Muslims to recognize the superiority of a liberal democracy over any kind of society that would be based on any understanding of the Quran as the word of God. Am I understanding you correctly?
Considering that there's diddly squat in the way of evidence for the existence of the gawd that supposedly undergirds the Quran - piss on it and on the Prophet, at least no more evidence than there is for the tens of thousand of gods human have worshipped over the millennia, I can't see that any rational person would think that a theocracy is intrinsically superior to a democracy. Terms you might try to Google on your own rather that expecting others to do your thinking for you.

But I'm amused that you apparently think that just because you ignore me that everyone else is incapable of drawing conclusions as to who has the better argument. But dogma does tend to rot a person's brain ...

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#468

Post by jimhabegger » Sun Aug 07, 2016 9:10 pm

Kirbmarc, I'm still wondering about this:
Kirbmarc wrote:The problem is the idea of Muslim superiority, of Muslim purity and Western decadence, of a Muslim world as the best possible world no matter its costs.
... the problem is the idea that society should be reshaped according to Muslim values, regardless of what non-Muslims want.
According to a Wikipedia article, "most encyclopedias and similar sources estimate between 5 and 6 million Bahá'ís in the world in the early 21st century. According to another Wikipedia article, the Baha'i Faith is "the second-most geographically widespread religion after Christianity, and the only religion to have grown faster than the population of the world in all major areas over the last century."

The decadence of Western societies has been repeatedly denounced in Baha'i writings.

Baha'i communities are conducting organized, intensive, globally coordinated and cross-fertilized campaigns all around the world to increase the number of people who are learning to follow Baha'u'llah, and working to reshape society according to His purposes and prescriptions, which they equate with the purposes and prescription of God. Those prescriptions include specific laws, including for example laws of marriage and inheritance, various prohibitions and penalties for violating them, and even the maximum length of men's hair.

Do you see any of that as a problem?

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#469

Post by Steersman » Sun Aug 07, 2016 9:45 pm

jimhabegger wrote: <yadda yadda yadda>

Baha'i communities are conducting organized, intensive, globally coordinated and cross-fertilized campaigns all around the world to increase the number of people who are learning to follow Baha'u'llah, and working to reshape society according to His purposes and prescriptions, which they equate with the purposes and prescription of God. Those prescriptions include specific laws, including for example laws of marriage and inheritance, various prohibitions and penalties for violating them, and even the maximum length of men's hair.

Do you see any of that as a problem?
Apart from the fact that those "purposes and prescriptions" are predicated on mountains of delusions and lies - at best - or, at worst, on barbarisms, ignorance, and savagery? Can't see any offhand ....

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#470

Post by jimhabegger » Mon Aug 08, 2016 2:40 am

Kirbmarc, what I've been saying about generalizations doesn't only apply to generalizations about Islam and Muslims. It applies to generalizations about any group or category of people, whether it's defined by race, ideology, sex, nationality or any other popular way of drawing lines between people.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#471

Post by jimhabegger » Mon Aug 08, 2016 3:21 am

Kirbmarc, here's an update on some things I've been saying:

1. Generalizations about groups and categories of people, drawing any of the lines between people that are currently popular, including lines based on ideologies, are irrelevant to any social issues other than the harmful ways those categories themselves are used. Generalizations about those groups and categories of people obscure the issues, draw red herrings across the discussions, and help to perpetuate and intensify animosities and hostilities, without doing anything to help resolve the issues that couldn't be done better some other way.

2. In the particular case of discussions about outrageous things that people do in the name of Islam, I think it's despicable to continually inject stigmatizing generalizations about Islam and Muslims into those discussions, and even more despicable to defend that as "criticism of Islam." I realized today that defending smear campaigns against Muslims as "criticism of Islam," gives criticism a bad name, and the more I think about that, the more furious it makes me.

3. You might think that it's impossible to address the issues that need to be addressed, without any generalizations about any religion or any of the other popular categories, but I say that thinking in those terms is actually makes it impossible to resolve those issues, except for the harmful ways those categories themselves are used. Even for those issues, where the categories themselves are the issue, drawing those lines between people in our own minds is just as irrevant and useless, and has all the same harmful effects that I mentioned.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#472

Post by Kirbmarc » Mon Aug 08, 2016 6:39 am

jimhabegger wrote:Kirbmarc, would you approve of actions and policies of your government that privilege and advantage liberal democracies over other societies, all around the world?
My government generally doesn't interfere with other societies (we're neutral, we're Swiss). I think that a police of protecting human rights and denouncing abuses belongs to international organizations who monitor those issues and make information available to the public, not to single governments which mess with other government's business.

Public opinions and campaign to make people aware of abuses can curb excess and abuses by influencing policies (like alliances, treaties, commercial relationships). This happens even today. The problems with today's system are that: a) information isn't accurate even when there's freedom of information b) international organizations are too biased by financing, especially since they're able to keep their sources of financing private, or not known to the general public c) governments are getting too much credit and too little oversight for their actions and d) public opinion is too easily distracted by propaganda from different sources.

The situation can (slowly and gradually, as usual) improve by improving the quality of information and of oversight over governmental actions. This has to happen in every country, starting from those where liberal democratic values are popular. People in countries which are ostensible ruled by liberal democracies need to be better informed, to discuss information freely without governmental or political or ideological control and to be more interested in their government policies and in the consequences of those policies.
Would you approve of your government supporting campaigns to install liberal democracies in countries where most people don't want them?
Liberal democracies can only develop naturally and organically, through a slow process of imitation, diffusion of ideas, access to free information and social changes. Trying to impose a liberal democracy by force is pointless, unproductive and actually runs contrary to liberal democratic ideas. It's far better for more liberal democratic societies to lead by example, to make information known, to bypass governmental censorship and to make liberal democracy more appealing to anyone instead of starting ill-advised, vaguely defined plans for invasions and coup d'etat which are very likely to backfire.

The most extreme and bloodthirsty authoritarian regimes are likely to become more and more unappealing to large parts of the public everywhere, and to create coalitions of people who fight to stop them, as long as information flows freely, as more and more people are informed about what's really going on, and if there are no rash, one-sided initiatives from a country to intervene in complex scenarios without having sufficient know-hows.

In the Middle East the American intervention in Iraq was a huge mistake. Saddam Hussein's regime was attacked due to lies and misinformation, it was attacked against the rules of war of many international organizations, there was no serious plan for a gradual transition to democracy and the neighboring countries were able to infiltrate Iraq after the invasion and to manipulate various sides of Iraqi society to their purposes. The Americans act unilaterally, with no clear plan, and ended up creating a power vacuum where the Shia militias and the Sunni terrorists created a civil war. It was a stupid, rash decision which made a progress towards liberal democracy in the area more and more unlikely.

In general interventions should be conducted through international, neutral organizations, with a clear plan to deal with a specific problem, based on accurate reports and information, and used as a last possible resort.
Would you approve of any other kinds of actions and policies aimed at perpetuating liberal democracies, and replacing other governments with liberal democratic ones, even in countries where most people don't want them?
Again, we're talking about interventions abroad here. If people locally don't want a liberal democracy imposing a liberal democracy onto them just plainly isn't going to work. We should focus on protecting the people persecuted by the local non-democratic regime (for example former Muslims persecuted by a Muslim theocratic regime, or dissidents persecuted in an authoritarian regime like Russia), on making sure that the actions of the non-democratic regime aren't whitewashed or swept away by propaganda, on diffusing and defending liberal democratic ideas through the medias, etc.

It's the local populations who must come to realize how much their non-democratic regime is hurting them behind the regime's propaganda and token concessions. Liberal democratic nations should lead by example, not impose their will in an authoritarian way.

You can't force someone to be free. You can make them aware of their condition as a slave, though, and let them decide what to do with it.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#473

Post by Kirbmarc » Mon Aug 08, 2016 6:53 am

jimhabegger wrote:Kirbmarc, it looks to me now like you think that a liberal democracy is better than any other kind of society in the world today, that what makes it better are the values you think it's based on, that most Muslims are promoting a kind of society based on values opposed to those, and that part of what is needed to end the violence is for Muslims to recognize the superiority of a liberal democracy over any kind of society that would be based on any understanding of the Quran as the word of God. Am I understanding you correctly?
I think this is pretty much correct, except I don't think that most Muslims are actively promoting a society based on values opposed to liberal democracy. I think that most Muslims simply don't care very much about politics or philosophy, or even about their religion, and just listen to what their religious authorities say. Most people are too busy caring about their demanding jobs and their family to think about complicated philosophical, political and religious issues. Most people trust their political and religious authorities to do all the thinking for them.

And sadly there are many Muslim religious authorities which follow and promote ideas which denigrate liberal democratic values and preach Muslim supremacy.

I don't want Muslims to renounce their understanding of the Quran as word of God, only to understand the limits of their message, to understand that other people (including former Muslims) don't consider the Quran to be word of God, and that different sects of Islam interpret the Quran in different ways, and that all those people (non-Muslims, former Muslims, or Muslims of another sect) aren't inferior to them, and that treating them as inferior and themselves as superior is only going to create more tensions and more violence.

Liberal democracies are simply the best way to keep laws and institutions neutral towards religion. Muslims aren't force not to follow their faith. They simply can't force others who don't share their faith to obey laws or respect institutions inspired by their faith.

There's a huge misunderstanding among many religious groups. Secularism and separation of Church and State is confused with active persecution of their faith. Muslims aren't oppressed by not having their religion become public law. They're simply not allowed to impose their private ideas onto others.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#474

Post by Kirbmarc » Mon Aug 08, 2016 6:59 am

jimhabegger wrote:
The decadence of Western societies has been repeatedly denounced in Baha'i writings.

Baha'i communities are conducting organized, intensive, globally coordinated and cross-fertilized campaigns all around the world to increase the number of people who are learning to follow Baha'u'llah, and working to reshape society according to His purposes and prescriptions, which they equate with the purposes and prescription of God. Those prescriptions include specific laws, including for example laws of marriage and inheritance, various prohibitions and penalties for violating them, and even the maximum length of men's hair.

Do you see any of that as a problem?
Frankly, yes. This is a problem, especially if you want to make those laws not just the private laws of your private communities, but as the laws of all society. If these campaigns support illiberal, authoritarian measures then they need to be fought against by all people who care about political and religious freedom.

Ba'hais need to understand that their rules apply only to those who freely choose to accept them, not to society at large. What happens, for example, if someone leaves the Ba'hai religion? What are the "penalties" and "prohibitions" for that?

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#475

Post by jimhabegger » Mon Aug 08, 2016 10:56 am

Kirbmarc, those last posts of yours look very good to me. Thank you. I'll read them again, more carefully, to see if I have any comments or questions about them.

Sorry, I forgot in my update above:

4. What I'm saying about the irrelevance, uselessness and harmfulness of generalizations applies not only to generalizations that stigmatize groups or categories of people, but also to generalizations that whitewash them, like "Islam is the religion of peace."

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#476

Post by jimhabegger » Mon Aug 08, 2016 11:13 am

Kirbmarc, as I said, I'll read your last posts more carefully later, to see if I have any comments or questions about them. Also, I forgot to look up Razib Khan and Shadi Hamid, but I'm planning now to do that.
Kirbmarc wrote:
jimhabegger wrote:Baha'i communities are conducting organized, intensive, globally coordinated and cross-fertilized campaigns all around the world to increase the number of people who are learning to follow Baha'u'llah, and working to reshape society according to His purposes and prescriptions, which they equate with the purposes and prescription of God. Those prescriptions include specific laws, including for example laws of marriage and inheritance, various prohibitions and penalties for violating them, and even the maximum length of men's hair.

Do you see any of that as a problem?
Frankly, yes.
Good. Then at least you're being consistent. :)
This is a problem, especially if you want to make those laws not just the private laws of your private communities, but as the laws of all society. If these campaigns support illiberal, authoritarian measures then they need to be fought against by all people who care about political and religious freedom.

Ba'hais need to understand that their rules apply only to those who freely choose to accept them, not to society at large. What happens, for example, if someone leaves the Ba'hai religion? What are the "penalties" and "prohibitions" for that?
There aren't any prohibitions or penalties for leaving.

You might not see any problem with the ways that Baha'is are promoting their views. Their ways of working to reshape society do not include conducting or supporting any intimidation campaigns for or against any specific actions or policies of any governments or institutions, or any other kind of intimidation campaigns. In fact their scriptures explicitly prohibit them from doing that.

What I thought you might see as a problem, if you're being consistent, is that they think that the laws in their scriptures will eventually be adopted by all governments, as a result of people seeing God in Baha'u'llah and learning to follow Him, and aim of their campaigns is to continually increase the number of people who are doing that. According to a Wikipedia article, between 1910 and 2010, the Baha'i Faith was the fastest growing religion, "growing at least twice as fast as the population of almost every UN region."

If you see it as a problem for large numbers of people to be trying to reshape society according to some version of Islam, then I thought if you were being consistent you might be troubled by an ever-increasing number of people in every corner of the world trying to reshape society according to the scriptures of some other religion, especially when that religion says that God is the author of the Quran.

I'm glad to see that you are being consistent.

I'm one of those people who are working to reshape society according to Baha'i scriptures. I have a personal interest in knowing how you would propose to resolve that problem.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#477

Post by Steersman » Mon Aug 08, 2016 11:24 am

Kirbmarc wrote:
jimhabegger wrote:Kirbmarc, it looks to me now like you think that a liberal democracy is better than any other kind of society in the world today, that what makes it better are the values you think it's based on, that most Muslims are promoting a kind of society based on values opposed to those, and that part of what is needed to end the violence is for Muslims to recognize the superiority of a liberal democracy over any kind of society that would be based on any understanding of the Quran as the word of God. Am I understanding you correctly?
I think this is pretty much correct, except I don't think that most Muslims are actively promoting a society based on values opposed to liberal democracy.
<snip>
There's a huge misunderstanding among many religious groups. Secularism and separation of Church and State is confused with active persecution of their faith. Muslims aren't oppressed by not having their religion become public law. They're simply not allowed to impose their private ideas onto others.
Good points there - and in your other comments. Although I think that the chances of Jim actually addressing them with anything approaching intellectual honesty is somewheres, as they say, between slim and none. All he ever really does is repeat his talking points, his unevidenced assumptions, and dismiss your criticisms of those with "thanks; those last posts of yours look very good to me", and "Do you have any friendly interest in what I think about anything you said, or any friendly interest in me", and the like. Been awhile since I've really had to converse with any godbots but he takes the cake in that contest.

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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#478

Post by Kirbmarc » Mon Aug 08, 2016 11:37 am

jimhabegger wrote: What I thought you might see as a problem, if you're being consistent, is that they think that the laws in their scriptures will eventually be adopted by all governments, as a result of people seeing God in Baha'u'llah and learning to follow Him, and aim of their campaigns is to continually increase the number of people who are doing that. According to a Wikipedia article, between 1910 and 2010, the Baha'i Faith was the fastest growing religion, "growing at least twice as fast as the population of almost every UN region."
Fastest-growing doesn't mean much on its own
If you see it as a problem for large numbers of people to be trying to reshape society according to some version of Islam, then I thought if you were being consistent you might be troubled by an ever-increasing number of people in every corner of the world trying to reshape society according to the scriptures of some other religion, especially when that religion says that God is the author of the Quran.
As long as you don't violate any laws, encourage violence, curb the civil rights of others or engage in authoritarian campaigns you're as free to try to convince others to join your church as all other churches. As I am free to criticize you or mock you. Hopefully you're not as willing to cover up the crimes of people who belong to your church as other churches or organizations are (although since human nature is what is I doubt you're any better).

Non-religious people have also grown in numbers and proportions of the US society, from roughly 5% of the US population in the 1950s to 20% in the late 2010s. So whether your eventual success isn't guaranteed. It's just likely that society will become more secular.
I'm glad to see that you are being consistent.
I'm one of those people who are working to reshape society according to Baha'i scriptures. I have a personal interest in knowing how you would propose to resolve that problem.
Are you violating any law? Are you threatening anyone, or smearing anyone, or engaging in curbing other people's civil rights? Do you intimidate or blackmail others? Do you engage in voting fraud? Are you funding terrorist groups? Do you preach violence or blackmail of others? Do you use financial or physical abuse to further your goals? If the answer to all those questions is no, then you are as free to try to reshape society through preaching your ideas as anyone else. And I'm free to criticize and mock you and your ideas. That's the beauty of freedom of speech.

Of course if you try to violate separation of church and state or freedom of speech by changing the laws many people will oppose your authoritarian attempts. As someone who cares about those two values I'll oppose you, too.

You're not the only church or religious congregation which is convinced that they'll create a brave new world of peace and global happiness by following the ideas contained in a holy book. You're nothing new, frankly, and I think you're as likely to succeed as anyone else (meaning that you're far more likely to create an authoritarian nightmare, and you're even more likely to end up becoming a public annoyance like the Jehovah's Witnesses).

jimhabegger
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Posts: 1710
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Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#479

Post by jimhabegger » Mon Aug 08, 2016 2:46 pm

Kirbmarc, if I'm understanding you correctly, what arouses your concern and seeing a need for some kind of action, is not people wanting to reshape society according to some version of Islam, in itself, but the ways that some people are going about it. Is that right?

jimhabegger
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Posts: 1710
Joined: Mon Jun 10, 2013 2:44 am

Re: "God-centered community building" / "Jim's closet"

#480

Post by jimhabegger » Mon Aug 08, 2016 3:06 pm

Kirbmarc, I agree wholeheartedly with everything in your posts #472 and #473 above, except, possibly, some skepticism about liberal democracies keeping laws and institutions neutral towards religion.

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