The middle-class thing certainly seems to have taken hold, via The Standard et al. I'm just a bit puzzled as to when and where I've claimed to be otherwise.
Also confusing is why that's supposed to be seen as an inherently bad thing. As if dropping the M-bomb automatically invalidates any argument you might make.
from Bomber's link:
Who knew Russell Brown and Mr Smug over at the Fundy post were such sniveling apologists for Western foreign policy?
Speaking of unwarranted dichotomies... here comes one now.
Although I have to give it up for your description as a "middle class foghorn," Russell. So evocative!
Quite. Some unattractive family customs of, say, Pakistani immigrants in Britain are often attributed to Islam, when they're at least as much about the tribal culture they've brought with them. Muslims in Bosnia exercise their faith quite differently to Muslims in Saudi Arabia because their influences are very different.
True indeed. But that doesn't mean we should ignore the religious component entirely. I don't think it is controversial to claim that religion frequently enjoys a position where being critical of it is seen as, at best, intolerably rude and, at worst, a violent assault on personal freedom. This means it is often the last flimsy justification standing when all other arguments against some awful practice have been dismissed. And because it has no real empirical content, it is the hardest to overcome.
Either you buy into these brutal bronze age and/or desert tribe morals and teachings or you dismiss them. There is no half way point surely. You can't pick and chose the 'word' as the times require.
I don't think you can carry my argument quite that far. All I wished to suggest was that morality is coming from some other source and being applied to religious texts. They are not the sole source of it. If they were, there would be no way to conceptualise the common modern notion that some bits are odious and should be ignored and that some bits aren't. The dichotomy you're offering could only take place if religious texts were an all or nothing proposition. That is: they are either the source of all morality, or the source of none at all. That is clearly an oversimplification. People draw moral inspiration from a variety of sources.
I'd venture that OBL was no more true to his espoused religious bent than GWB was to Christ.
People from many faiths have done terrible things, and have frequently been able to cite chapter and verse/sura and hadith in support of their actions. This is often dismissed as not being "true" to the religion involved. Why should this be so? How do we know? We might have collectively decided that it is only the peaceful and non-violent sections of said texts that are "true" to the religion in question. But who are we to make that decision? Certainly this makes perfect sense if we want religious people to not re-enact the Book of Judges on the nice folks from the next town over, but it is human beings that have made that decision. The warm, fuzzy notion of religions as moral guardians is a useful fiction, but a fiction all the same. They are given the credit for the good, while the bad is charged to another account.
If, however, someone truly and strongly believes that their religious text is a moral guidebook, then deciding which pieces are truer than others would represent an imposition of an external morality upon a book which purports to be the only source of morality. For a genuine believer, this would be absurd. I think this explains what we know of Bin Laden's views quite well. Bin Laden claimed religious warrant for the very worst of his beliefs. That is, he was driven to obey/attempt to enforce passages of the Qur'an which others have chosen to ignore. But those passages are there. And, as a sincere believer, it is quite likely he did not see himself as having a great deal of choice in the matter. From the evidence available, I think it is quite disingenuous to claim that Bin Laden was not a genuine and sincere believer in the truth of his religion. On the contrary, it seems he was a good deal "truer" than most religious believers in the modern world, by the measure that he rejected less of his chosen text than most.
I no longer have the inside word on genocidal maniacs' thought processes, but I'd venture that OBL was no more true to his espoused religious bent than GWB was to Christ.
Nobody is claiming access to Bin Laden's inner thoughts here. He was hardly a shy and retiring wallflower about expressing his political and religious views (although there wasn't really much daylight between the two). It is not unreasonable to suggest that his pronouncements in that regard were expressions of his thought processes. And if they weren't, that would make him a liar and manipulator of the sincere beliefs of others. Which would be even worse.
I don’t really think there is any difference with how the seals killed him or how the 1700 suicide bombers in Iraq did their job... The bombers will get their 72 virgins, the seals will get their USA medal.
One: The bombers will, in point of fact, not get 72 virgins.
Two: It bothers me that you see these two things as in any way equivalent.
Murderous and a thousand other things, yes. An idiot? Perhaps not – he achieved huge parts of what he wanted to achieve.
That's a fair point. Somewhat imprecise of me. I do feel comfortable calling him an idiot, though. In much the same way I feel comfortable calling creationists and abortion clinic bombers idiots. His religious beliefs are similarly deranged and ridiculous, and for them to have guided his actions to the extent they clearly did suggests a worrying lack of critical thought.
you can argue that misguided people like the old duffer Walker shouldn’t see OBL as any kind of hero, but you’re ignoring the old maxim ’the enemy of my enemy etc”. if you’re a pissed off and impoverished *anyone* with a grunge against colonialist like the NZL Crown or the US of A, seeing someone like OBL sticking it to The Man will raise a cheer.
You’re generalising motives to the “pissed off and impoverished” in a very offhand way here. I realise that it’s hard for even the most hard-headed rationalist to get through a day without doing something like this, but when you’re suggesting that the “pissed off and impoverished” are approving of terrorism, I think extra care might be warranted. It’s possible you’re right, but it will take a bit more work to adequately show that Maori, or any other group that have suffered at the hands of the powerful, think that Osama Bin Laden is anything other than a murderous idiot.
I think what Russell is doing here is taking Bin Laden at his word regarding his Muslim beliefs. The fact that Bin Laden was willing to leverage his personal fortune and risk his own safety to promulgate those beliefs is, I think, good evidence to suggest he took them very seriously indeed. This, in turn, supports the conclusion that he would not suspend them lightly.