Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Appeasing Osama

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  • David Rush,

    "People of liberal sympathies, stupefied by relativism, have become the apologists for a creedal wave that is racist, misogynist, homophobic, imperialist, and genocidal. To put it another way, they are up the arse of those that want them dead."

    Martin Amis being interviewed in the Independent

    Sometimes your enemy's enemy is your enemy too.

    Since Nov 2006 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Who are those people Amis is referring to, David? That's what I want to know.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    david, no one is apologising for radical islam, or fundamentalist christianity for that matter.

    amis just demonstrated the exact ignorance we're so concerned about. blaming internal allies for conservative folly. particularly blind support for israel in insane actions like bombing a neighbouring democracy, or the 'accelerate armageddon' POV.

    the policies and actions that are radicalising islam.

    and like stephen points out, what is this creedal wave? i would automatically assume rabid, crusader christianity.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Span .,

    Perhaps, to put it simply, it is that some of us on the left oppose many of the fundamentalist aspects of religions, but don't feel that the best way to do that is to bag the entire religion and its followers wholus bolus?

    The bagging seems to me to often have racist connotations...

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 112 posts Report Reply

  • David Rush,

    Span . Not trolling but I have no problem with bagging religion. Christianity, Islam, Scientologists, Mormons, Buddhists, etc, they're all equal and equally ridiculous to me. I have no problem with believers of the above expressing their views in whatever way floats their boat but no way do I respect those views. It just boils down to my invisible friend is better than your invisible friend.

    Che, I don't think Amis views those people as "internal allies" (whatever that means). And I don't see him stating blind support for Israel in that article. I think Israel is fairly justified in its paranoia (but that does not excuse its 'drop bombs, apologise later' strategy at all).

    My interpretation of the "what is this creedal wave" thing is that it equalled the perceived threat of fundamentalist Xtreme Islam. Pretty sure he wasn't referring to Christianity.

    The point I think Amis was trying to make was that some people will ally themselves with the enemies of Bush and Blair, even if those enemies would be hostile to their values.

    Martin Amis likes contoversy. It helps him sell more books.

    I do agree that it is the actions of Bush and Blair that are radicalising Islam. And the media just loves to report the more outrageous statements from the likes of Anjem Choudary and others which gives the establishment more fuel for outrage.

    Since Nov 2006 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Alex Coleman,

    David, I think people are entitled to know who exactly is being accused of allying themselves with AQ, if that is who is meant by
    the enemies of Bush and Blair.

    Maybe such people do exist but I have not heard of them. All I can see is some people on the left saying things like:

    I think Islamists have some justification for their anger (but that does not excuse their 'indiscriminate slaughter' strategy at all).

    Anyone who thinks that I only oppose torture, strategic incompetence, death squads, detention without trial, and disregard for the rule of law, because of my dislike for Bush has it 100% backwards.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 247 posts Report Reply

  • David Rush,

    Well in this specific instance "they" are the demonstrators Amis refers to in the interview. I wasn't referring to anyone here in case some of you took that personally.

    By referring to the London bombings he gives a bit of context to his views..."On the other hand, no society on earth, no society imaginable, could frictionlessly absorb a day like 7 July."

    Looks like the friction will continue for a while yet.

    Since Nov 2006 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Christianity, Islam, Scientologists, Mormons, Buddhists, etc, they're all equal and equally ridiculous to me. I have no problem with believers of the above expressing their views in whatever way floats their boat but no way do I respect those views. It just boils down to my invisible friend is better than your invisible friend.

    See, this is like 'all politicians are corrupt', so then you stop discriminating between really corrupt ones, and not so corrupt ones. Buddhism is a non-theistic religion, David, so it would be hard for Buddhists to be saying "my invisible friend is better than your invisible friend". Likewise, religions like the Baha'i faith and some branches of paganism recognise the validity of all religious paths. To say that all religions claim to have a monopoly on truth is to be unfairly nice to the ones that do: it's NOT a precondition of religion. It is particularly strong in the Abrahamic religions, which is amusing considering how similar they are.

    (I'm an atheist myself, I'm just really fascinated by religion as a sociological phenomenon.)

    My attitudes to this kind of thing are, like Span's I think, based on how individual people actually behave, rather than which particular group they belong to.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Savidge,

    (I'm an atheist myself, I'm just really fascinated by religion as a sociological phenomenon.)

    It seems to me that fascination can be too easily translated as tolerance/acceptance of the belief system - which surely will only serve to perpetuate its worth and credibility amongst the believers.

    I'm of the opinion that radical atheism is becoming something of a necessity in global culture, ie, there is a need to strip the fundies (and the liberal/moderate believers as well) of their new clothes and supply some sexy new kit based on rationality, logic and science.

    A Dawkinian approach if you will...

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Savidge,

    Having said that....there is this.

    Atheism does not constitute a worldview; it simply expresses the rejection of God. It is an attitude towards one specific issue, rather than representing a broader effort to understand the world. Humanism does not only reject belief in God but in all dogma – whether secular or religious.

    From this http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/2044

    Wouldn't like to take away all the toys...

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    Perhaps, to put it simply, it is that some of us on the left oppose many of the fundamentalist aspects of religions, but don't feel that the best way to do that is to bag the entire religion and its followers wholus bolus? The bagging seems to me to often have racist connotations...

    Radical Islam should be opposed because it is unjust, violent, anti-modern and lends itself to authoritarian political structures. However, I tend to think this is obvious and and should be readily conceded as the real argument lies elsewhere.

    The left's desire to protect and cultivate moderate Islam is, IMO, a pluralistic and principled effort to promote cooperation between different faiths and cultures. There is also the hope that moderation, if carefully nurtured, will come to dominate the field. I think this is a worthwhile approach and is the only realistic way of preventing reactionary elements within our own society from concluding that Islam generally is a threat.

    The question worth arguing IMO about are how we should conduct a just yet robust foreign policy viz a viz moderate Islam and its wholly unacceptable radicalised cousin (and, of course, the rest of the developing world).

    Since Nov 2006 • 786 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    david, nah, it's more about placing blame for anti-western sentiment on liberals. liberals are on the same side, but conservatives are finger pointing to absolve themselves of responsibility.

    iraq is bad? "those damn liberals won't let us win"
    israel the #1 cause of disillusionment with in the ME? "those damn pagan liberals want the palestinians to win. don't they remember the holocaust"
    american economic colonialism raising hackles? "those damn liberals are too chicken shit to fight for a strategic resource"
    ad nauseum.

    when i equated 'creedal wave' with fundamentalists, i meant there's not too much difference between christianity and islam in that respect. you know how right wingers constantly equate national socialism with "the left". in years to come we'll see that, like totalitarianism, all fundamentalisms and scriptural literalisms are as bad as each other.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Jake Pollock,

    This book excerpt from the Guardian offers a slightly more nuanced version of the 'blame the left' meme than D'Souza's, and it's certainly worth a read. I'm not sure that I agree with him, but it's food for thought about what principles should be guiding left-wing thinking.

    Raumati South • Since Nov 2006 • 489 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    Radical Islam should be opposed because it is unjust, violent, anti-modern and lends itself to authoritarian political structures.

    Agreed about Radical Islam, and well radical just about everything especially Fundy Christianity, but what is so great about the modern world? Industrialisation, global capital, nationalism, colonisation and so on are all inherent to modernism and they aint nothing great about any of those things. Ugly art too!

    I don't condone what fundy matyrs of any stripe do, but considering the violence that nearly all modern industrialised western nations have rained down on the muslim world are we surprised that Radical Islam is such a powerful force? Furthermore, the assemtry of the violence between the msulim nations/organisations and western nations is so extreme, i would suggest the onus on reducing conflict lies with the nations of the west.

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • anjum rahman,

    normally i really don't bother biting re blog discussions about how evil islam is etc etc etc, cos there's really no point. people believe what they want to believe.

    however, while you all have been debating about what sort of threats islam & muslims might present, our mosque in hamilton was swastika'd again last friday night. on saturday, skinheads came driving around through our carpark (ie the forecourt of the mosque) at 3 different times during the day. their only purpose could be to intimidate.

    and there is really nothing we can do about this. i guess it's one of the joys of being a kiwi muslim, just like those arab women that were shot at last year while waiting at an auckland bus stop.

    no doubt we are luckier than those in other countries. in america, a detroit mosque and 6 muslim businesses suffered vandalism this week, after other businesses had suffered earlier in the month. a washington mosque was vandalised on 21 jan, there was vandalism and intimidation at a michigan mosque on 18 jan, a muslim school in canada was vandalised on 17 jan, and the list goes on.

    the situation in england is just as much fun, with violent racist attacks being carried out for decades in that country. i remember visiting in 1978, and seeing indian homes with windows boarded up because of bricks that were constantly being thrown through them.

    looks like are we headed in the same direction here. if so, how much of this kind of treatment is the muslim community supposed to take? how long do we have to put up and shut up, and still think ourselves somehow "privileged" to be "allowed" to live in this country (even though we are of this country)? and when the patience runs out, when someone finally snaps, will that make us all terrorists?

    hamilton • Since Nov 2006 • 130 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    anjum.

    when the patience runs out, when someone finally snaps, will that make us all terrorists?

    it is with heartfel regret that i say, yes.

    assalam aleykum.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Agreed about Radical Islam, and well radical just about everything especially Fundy Christianity, but what is so great about the modern world?

    Dentistry

    Industrialisation, global capital, nationalism, colonisation and so on are all inherent to modernism and they aint nothing great about any of those things.

    It doesn't get much more ironic that slagging off the horrors of modernity over the internet.

    but considering the violence that nearly all modern industrialised western nations have rained down on the muslim world are we surprised that Radical Islam is such a powerful force?

    Nearly all modern industrialised nations have rained violence down on the muslim world? I can name like, four - France, Israel, the US and the UK. And since the last couple decades of Middle Eastern History have mostly consisted of muslims enthusiastically bombing, slaughtering and torturing each other I think it's a little unfair to blame all the problems of the Middle East on 'The West'.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    It doesn't get much more ironic that slagging off the horrors of modernity over the internet.

    Must agree. Modernity works for me ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22758 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    It doesn't get much more ironic that slagging off the horrors of modernity over the internet.

    O please, of course I recognise the irony. I'm merely pointing that many core aspects of the modern project are rather fucked and have hugley negative outcomes for much of the globes population, but not all aspects of modernity. We could pick out isolated developments of any kind of society and say "isn't that great" all day long.

    I think it's a little unfair to blame all the problems of the Middle East on 'The West'.

    Danyl, you're conflating 'muslim' - an organised religion - with 'middle east' - a geographic area. I wasnae referring to the middle east, but rather the muslim world (yes, a stupendously vague term, but this is a net forum not Time) which encompasses Indonesia, other parts of S E Asia, large swathes of London, and as Anjum's post illustrates our very own City of the Future, and more.

    If you can find in my post anything approximating 'Its all The West's fault' then you are a magician. What I was poiting out is that a lot of fundamental Islamic activity finds its mandate with muslim people in the violence Western nations perpetrate on the Muslims and predominantly Muslim countries. If countries like the US, UK, France didn't so readily turn to their armed services in their dealings with Msulim countries then Radical Islam would lose a lot of power.

    Or in short: the war on terror makes the problem of terror worse:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/24/world/middleeast/24terror.htmlex=1316750400&en=da252be85d1b39fa&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

    RB, I'm glad Modernity works for you, it works for me too in certain ways, (though I still think the art is crap!), but why should that stop me from pointing out that modernity doesn't work for everyone, and perhaps to someone extent many modern developments rely on the exploitation of people, resources, planet?

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Danyl, you're conflating 'muslim' - an organised religion - with 'middle east' - a geographic area. I wasnae referring to the middle east, but rather the muslim world (yes, a stupendously vague term, but this is a net forum not Time) which encompasses Indonesia, other parts of S E Asia, large swathes of London, and as Anjum's post illustrates our very own City of the Future, and more.

    You did write:

    <i>but considering the violence that nearly all modern industrialised western nations have rained down on the muslim world . . .</i>

    And I haven't noticed any western industrialised country 'raining violence' down on Indonesia, multi-cultural New Zealand or large swathes of London in the recent past. It's hard to see what you were talking about, if not the Middle East.

    You did write:

    Furthermore, the assemtry of the violence between the msulim nations/organisations and western nations is so extreme, i would suggest the onus on reducing conflict lies with the nations of the west.

    Which is pretty much the same thing. Personally I think the big problem with most muslim countries is that they are almost all ruled by corrupt, brutal dictators (or, like Indonesia and Iraq, have been until the very recent past).

    The suggestion that the popularity of, say, the Muslim Brotherhood is due to historical Anglo-French colonialism (or whatever) is risible - Egyptians support the Brotherhood because their government is a military dictatorship and joining a radical Islamic organisation is one of the only avenues for changing it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Danyl, you're conflating 'muslim' - an organised religion - with 'middle east' - a geographic area. I wasnae referring to the middle east, but rather the muslim world (yes, a stupendously vague term, but this is a net forum not Time) which encompasses Indonesia, other parts of S E Asia, large swathes of London, and as Anjum's post illustrates our very own City of the Future, and more.

    You did write:

    but considering the violence that nearly all modern industrialised western nations have rained down on the muslim world . . .

    And I haven't noticed any western industrialised country 'raining violence' down on Indonesia, multi-cultural New Zealand or large swathes of London in the recent past. It's hard to see what you were talking about, if not the Middle East.

    If you can find in my post anything approximating 'Its all The West's fault' then you are a magician.

    What you said was:

    Furthermore, the assemtry of the violence between the msulim nations/organisations and western nations is so extreme, i would suggest the onus on reducing conflict lies with the nations of the west.

    Which is pretty much the same thing. Personally I think the big problem with most muslim countries is that they are almost all ruled by corrupt, brutal dictators (or, like Indonesia and Iraq, have been until the very recent past).

    The suggestion that the popularity of, say, the Muslim Brotherhood is due to historical Anglo-French colonialism (or whatever) is risible - Egyptians support the Brotherhood because their government is a military dictatorship and joining a radical Islamic organisation is one of the only avenues for changing it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    Anjum,

    First of all, thank you for taking the time to respond.

    My position is a little more subtle than I have space to explain here, but if I am to convincingly defend what is right with Islam to others I need the latitude to condemn what I believe to be wrong with it. I believe this approach is more likely to succeed in fostering good will in bad times than one that seeks to romanticise our differences.

    This discussion is undoubtedly complicated by the developmental gap between the West and the developing world, and the racial prejudice and intolerance that you allude to (neither of which I have raised) and your points are well made.

    Since Nov 2006 • 786 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    And I haven't noticed any western industrialised country 'raining violence' down on Indonesia, multi-cultural New Zealand or large swathes of London in the recent past

    Didn't read Anjum's post then? I use violence more widely than just dropping bombs and shooting first and asking questions later. It all counts towards pushing people to the edge and fostering distrust etc etc.

    You are misunderstanding me, I am saying a large amount of terrorism that is directed at western nations is because these nations employ violence much too often. Terrorism and extremism between Muslims was not part of my point.

    My position is a little more subtle than I have space to explain here, but if I am to convincingly defend what is right with Islam to others I need the latitude to condemn what I believe to be wrong with it. I believe this approach is more likely to succeed in fostering good will in bad times than one that seeks to romanticise our differences.

    Well said Weston, you've inspired to refrain from ever posting to threads like this again, save for purposes of comic relief. Its a bit rich for people like me to blather on about it in the face of other peoples lived experience, such as Anujum's.

    Anjum, don't you just know it that if any of you or your brother Muslims NZers decided to kick some skinhead arse they would turn into nice if troubled middle class boys! See it happen to my Maori Brothas and Sistas all the time - otherwise good people, they get pushed and pushed then when they lash out they turn into thugs, scum, or haters and wreckers. Frustrating, neh?

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Didn't read Anjum's post then? I use violence more widely than just dropping bombs and shooting first and asking questions later. It all counts towards pushing people to the edge and fostering distrust etc etc.

    Yeah, but I really don't think that getting your mosque spraypainted by skinheads is really an acceptable excuse for blowing yourself up on a bus full of civilians (or whatever). The responsible position is to deplore racism, imperialism and so on, AND Islamic terrorism. Dreaming up excuses for terrorism doesn't make one liberal or reasonable, it just makes you a useful idiot for an unusually loathsome ideology.

    if I am to convincingly defend what is right with Islam to others I need the latitude to condemn what I believe to be wrong with it

    Here's my question to Weston - what do you think is 'right' with Islam?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    Danyl,

    I'm not resiling from my criticism of radical Islam, but I figure not all of the 1,300,000,000 Muslims on our planet can be entirely bad.

    While I'm sure the CIA Factbook serves a hidden and nefarious purpose, it can also be used to show that Che is, like, totally outnumbered:

    https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/xx.html

    Christians 33.03% (of which Roman Catholics 17.33%, Protestants 5.8%, Orthodox 3.42%, Anglicans 1.23%), Muslims 20.12%, Hindus 13.34%, Buddhists 5.89%, Sikhs 0.39%, Jews 0.23%, other religions 12.61%, non-religious 12.03%, atheists 2.36% (2004 est.)

    Since Nov 2006 • 786 posts Report Reply

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