2
   

A Confused Question on Islamophobia

 
 
Reply Mon 21 Jan, 2013 04:06 am
Are Islamist cultures more homophobic/antifeminist/generally illiberal than US Republicans?

And would liberals be less likely to defend them if we could separate the political ideology from the ethnicity/religion?
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Question • Score: 2 • Views: 1,943 • Replies: 20
No top replies

 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Mon 21 Jan, 2013 04:30 am
@medium-density,
I would advise using the term Islamic rather than Islamist, unless you have specific nations in mind, in which case you might want to name them. The term Islamist has become freighted with negative connotations implying terrorism and the will to impose their values on others. So, for example, the fighting in Mali and Algeria is attributed to Islamists.

Islamic nations and Muslims do not represent monoliths. Not all Muslims think alike, not all Islamic nations have the same policies. Think about it for a moment--do all Christians think alike? Do all nations which can reasonably be described as Christian have the same policies?

It would be hard to find a more bigoted, hateful, intolerant and illiberal group than the far right wing, the reactionary wing of the Republican Party. But then, i'd also say the same thing about the far left wing of the Democratic Party. Your proposition, by the way, is begging the question of whether or not Islamic nations are homophobic, anti-feminist and illiberal. That is not necessarily something which you can take for granted. I would be willing to say, however, that by and large, Islamic nations tend to be less tolerant and more illiberal--which is more a product of history and local, tribal culture than it is anything inherent is Islam.

I couldn't really answer the second question because i don't know who you mean by liberals, and i suspect that really, you don't either. The problem with bigoted, illiberal Muslims is not a problem of political ideology--it's a product of tribal cultures which have grafted their narrow views onto the religion. The Quran does not call for female infanticide, nor female genital mutilation, nor the dress codes which are often imposed on women in Muslim nations. In a certain sense, Muslim nations are responsible for their own problems--or at least the power brokers within those nations are. Many Muslims live in a relentless poverty, and this has been true even when they're sitting atop huge petroleum reserves. This breeds anger and resentment which can be exploited by power brokers. We sadly live in an era when radical religious demagogues have exploited those resentments. The old power elites in many Muslim nations have begun to lose their grip.

Finally, Islam is no more a monolith than is Christianity. The Croats and the Serbs speak the same language. The Croats, however, use the Roman alphabet and are Catholic. The Serbs use the Cyrillic alphabet and are Orthodox. They will gleefully slaughter one another for differences as trivial as that. The majority of the population of Iraq are Shi'ites. Until after the American invasion, Sunni tribal minorities ruled the land for forty years, and brutally repressed the Shi'ites. They're not different than the Croats and Serbs. Even within major sects, the differences can be lethal. Twelver Shi'ites will happily slaughter Sevener Shi'ites.

Your questions are good ones, and tough ones. But they are predicated on over-simplistic views of the world.
medium-density
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jan, 2013 05:10 am
@Setanta,
I deliberately put the question in very broad terms firstly because I wanted to cast as wide a net for responses as possible, and secondly because I am too ignorant to be sure of specifics in this area.

I used "Islamist" to mean those elements of Islam which have been compared to fascism. My understanding of the objectionable tenets themselves comes from readings of the honour culture within the religion (women as the source of shame, men as the all too corruptible (by women) source of honour), and more universal monotheistic teachings around the abomination of homosexuality.

I'm aware that treating these things as monoliths is problematic, but sometimes it's necessary for the sake of discussion, and precious brevity.

I suppose my question really just wants to get to the bottom of this unhelpfully polarised debate. Is the Western distaste for extreme Islam based more on racism than politics?

People can feel free to adduce complicated answers to my simple questions.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jan, 2013 05:19 am
@medium-density,
Well, i've already "adduced" complicated answers to your not-at-all simple questions. Now you're misusing the term fascist. The cultures to which you refer have grafted onto Islam the practices to which you object. The culture is not "within" the religion, the religion is just a tool of narrow-minded, intolerant men with a will to power. That's no different than the mentality of the Popes, the King of France and the French nobility who ravaged Languedoc during the Albigensian crusade of the 13th century. Religion was the pretext, greed and the will to power were the motivations.

It is probably because so few people who are outside Islam looking in really look at it in its complexity and variation that you have people who rush to defend Muslims and cry Islamophobia, as well as those who label all Muslims terrorists.
medium-density
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jan, 2013 03:48 pm
@Setanta,
Quote:
Well, i've already "adduced" complicated answers to your not-at-all simple questions. Now you're misusing the term fascist.


Why strike such a vexatious attitude, Setanta?

The term Islamofascism was I think coined by Christopher Hitchens who, along with others, sees fascism in the Islamist ideology which emerged from extremist Islam. Beyond properly establishing the terms of discussion I'm not much interested in where the fascism (or illiberalism, if you prefer) comes from. I'd rather we acknowledge that a degree of illiberalism exists, and talk about our intuitions and prejudices about it, as well as looking at how big a role racism plays in this whole question.
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Jan, 2013 06:40 am
@medium-density,
My "vexatious attitude" has been struck only in your imagination. Don't overrate the importance of posting online.

It is immaterial to me who has coined the term "islamofascist," the term is not being used appropriately. There are several characteristics of fascism which simply don't apply to Muslim estremists. This may seem like a minor point, but it's not. I'll get to the differences between fascists and Muslim extremists in a moment. If you were to decide that your neighbor hates you because you are white, when, in fact, your neighbor is constantly irritated because he finds your car parked in his parking space, then you won't take the step necessary to ameliorate the situation--i.e., parking somewhere else. If you have a conflict to deal with, you have to be able to understand those with whom you are in conflict before you can effectively deal with the situation. Calling Muslim extremists fascists not only doesn't help to understand them, it obscures what really motivates them.

There are several important aspects of fascism which are absent from the outlook of Muslim extremists. Nationalism is an inherent characteristic of fascism which is lacking in Muslim extremists. So, for example, the Muslim extremists (i will use the term Islamist, as we've already canvassed that term) in North Africa--in southwest Libya, southern Algeria and northern Mali--don't recognize lines drawn on a map by dead white guys 150 or 200 years ago. The international boundaries which modern nation states recognize have no meaning for them. The Islamists in Mali use both weapons and ammunition, and even some fighters left over from the war in Libya. Libya being currently an effectively failed state makes this easy for them. There is strong Islamist sentiment in Algeria, where a fundamentalist Muslim movement had won a national election, but were overthrown by a military coup several years ago. It can reasonably be said that the army in Algeria controls the cities and the larger towns, but that the countryside belongs to the Islamists. That explains why this newly observed war (it was going on long before the press took notice recently) has spilled over into Algeria.

Nationalism therefore, a central trait of fascism, is meaningless to Islamists. Another central trait of fascism is command economies, which--despite the phony claims of fascists about their socialist goal of creating a dictatorship of the proletariat--are constructed in consultation with and to the benefit of industrialists and financiers within the fascist nation state. Islamists simply have no conception of either economics or politics. For the Islamist, those are just tools to achieve their ultimate goal, which is some sort of caliphate (which i will discuss in a moment). In the example of Iran, their principle industry, petroleum production, and all of the satellite industries which can be created as a product of the foreign exchange the petroleum generates are partly or wholly owned by the state, in the persons of the mullahs. I'm sure they have some religious justification for this, but the effect is to enrich the religious leadership without necessarily developing the Persian economy to its fullest potential. Any development of their economy will have been a product of the desire of the Mullahs to further enrich themselves. That's not to say that such a selfish motive is not effective. The Persians are relatively affluent, which is the more impressive given their isolation in the international community. Petroleum is such a valuable commodity that it would be nearly impossible to harm Iran economically.

In Afghanistan, their one source of foreign exchange was heroin. The Taliban were immediately effective in crushing the heroin trade in parts (but certainly not all) of Afghanistan. Ironically, the people of Afghanistan originally approved of the Taliban precisely because they effectively took on the drug lords. However, economics formed no part of the Taliban agenda, and they did nothing to repair the damage that 40 years of war and civil war had done to the domestic economy, and did nothing to develop what little had survived. Islamists have no economic agenda, which is a very striking departure from fascism.

Militarism is also a signal trait of fascism. While we tend to think of Islamists in terms of the armed strife they engender, there really is no militarist aspect to fundamentalist Islam. In the Iran-Iraq war, the Iraqis relied on World War One type, defense in depth field fortifications ("trenches"), and the Persians riposted with human wave attacks. The Iraqis were very effective at dealing with breakthroughs--they had armored divisions in reserve at intervals beind their lines, and maneuvered quickly and effectively to staunch breakthroughs. Their political paranoia and their own stupidity about military institutions made them an easy target for the highly efficient western coalition sent against them in 1990-91, but they were more than necessarily effective against the Persians, and the human wave attacks achieved nothing of military value, while slaughtering young, conscripted Persians in their thousands.

The Taliban became the dominant (but not the exclusive power) in Afghanistan because they seized the armored vehicles left after the collapse of Afghanistan's communist government, especially the self-propelled artillery. That was sufficient for them to seize and hold Kabul (which is actually outside the Pashtun tribal areas of southern Afghanistan and Waziristan from whence the Taliban arose). It was not enough, however, for them to effectively deal with the drug lords in the northwest, who largely just ignored them, or the so-called Northern Alliance, a coalition of largely ethnic Tajiks, Uzbeks and even some disaffected Pashtuns. The Taliban received military aid from Al Quaeda and the ISI (Pakistan's security apparatus). Al Qaeda is as worthless for fighting a protracted, modern war as any other Islamist organization, but the ISI are damned good, and their support could be said to have prevented the military collapse of the Taliban. The Northern alliance received support from Iran, Russia, Tajikistan and India. That was sufficient to keep that shaky organization alive, but not for them to overwhelm the Taliban government in Kabul.

For Islamists, war is reduced to a set of simple and simple-minded techniques. They launch rockets willy-nilly in the general direction of their enemies, they set up IEDs or send in suicide bombers and they take hostages, whom they often cannot resist slaughtering. There really is no effective militarism among the Islamists which makes them very far indeed from fascists. If you want to see a truly fascist state in the middle east, and an effective one, look at Syria before the uprising, and even since that time. Assad's army is made up of Sunnis, Shi'ites, tribal minorities and Arab secularists--people who would be enemies under an Islamist regime. Their morale remains high, and they are professional soldiers with a lot of experience and good equipment. They effectively use their personnel and equipment not just in battle but in the control of key areas which they wish to hold, unless the rebels can come at them in sufficient numbers to overwhelm them, in which case the fall back. A fighting retreat is one of the most difficult military maneuvers, and Assad's army has shown time and again that they're good at it. It is precisely because Assad is a species of successful fascist rather than an Islamist that he has survived.

All of which leads one to ask what it is that the Islamists are really up to. Basically, they want to re-establish the Caliphate. Some actually say as much, others use different terms, but their goal is the establishment of Islam as a universal religion, and sharia as the universal legal code. The Taliban called their state the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The Persians call their government the Islamic Republic of Iran. The name Islamic republic is used in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well. The key is the establishment of religion, and it will inevitably be an intolerant state. In European history, the same thing can be seen--the annual slaughter of the "pagan" Saxons by the Franks, the Albigensian crusade, the wars of the Reformation--religious enthusiasm is by its very nature intolerant, and inevitably it is murderously so.

Unfortunately for your goal, i'm not into impressions or prejudices. The only operative prejudice here is religious. Eventually, as was the case in Europe, the will to power and the lust for wealth will probably subsume the religious fanaticism of the Islamists, just as one can see it having happened in Iran. Iran would, more honestly, be called the Islamic Corporation, rather than the Islamic Republic. But that will be a very long time in coming. The fervor of the Islamists is a young enthusiasm, reborn after centuries of desuetude, and it relies on young men and women, too. Both because of European exploitation and the exploitation of their ruling classes, the people of Muslim nations are largely impoverished--when you have nothing, you have nothing to lose. A sharp contrast can be seen between most Muslim nations and Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation. There, they have something, they have economic prosperity. Although there are Islamists in Indonesia, they don't have nearly the hold on the population that one sees in the poorer Muslim nations, because the indonesians have something to lose, and are unwilling to risk it.

Finally, i don't see a racist component. Certainly there are some cretins in the West who are motivated by racism, but their numbers are not significant. If you are Muslim, other Muslims don't care about your race. If you are not, then you are either infidel or apostate in the eyes of the Islamists, and being of the same "race" as them won't save you.
0 Replies
 
revelette
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Jan, 2013 10:24 am
@medium-density,
Who would be the racist in your question?

Quote:
as well as looking at how big a role racism plays in this whole question.


I think Setanta's point is that many of the laws of the more Islamic states (forgive me if I use any wrong terms) do so from their own traditions rather than what is written in the Quran. Kind of like in the NT, the (according to what is written in the NT) the Jews at that time had many laws which were more tradition than what was written the laws.

Speaking as a leftist with sympathies for Muslim causes, I guess you could say, it is not really a defense of any of their beliefs or even traditions or laws, but more a defense of not wanting to discriminate based on a person's religious beliefs and/or traditions. It is more of a reaction I guess from the total hate towards those of Islamic faith and/or Arabs that comes from some folks in the US since 9/11.

On the defense of the middle east conflict, I have always felt the Palestinians got a raw deal and continue to get a raw deal both from our country and Israel. I can understand those who live in Israel not wanting to get bombed going to the store or school, but on the other hand I don't think that excuses Israel's actions of occupation and suppression and continue of land grabbing of the Palestine people.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Jan, 2013 10:37 am
@medium-density,
Quote:
I used "Islamist" to mean those elements of Islam which have been compared to fascism. My understanding of the objectionable tenets themselves comes from readings of the honour culture within the religion (women as the source of shame, men as the all too corruptible (by women) source of honour), and more universal monotheistic teachings around the abomination of homosexuality.


By this definition Christians can be "Islamist" (since there are Christians who see women as the source of shame and share extreme views about homosexuality).

Since they share the same beliefs, wouldn't the term "religionist" be better than having separate words based on each religion?
medium-density
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Jan, 2013 02:40 pm
@maxdancona,
I think we can say that Christians can be Islamist, in the sense that some are so extreme as to be comparable with that strain, but they aren't perhaps as numerous. Can we point to a "Christian society" which doesn't come off better when compared with Islamist societies without looking at a history book? ("Better" I mean by the measure of developed liberal democracy.)

@revelette

I suspect racism plays a significant role in the question of how illiberal Islamist factions are, and, rather like maxdancona has above, want to compare them to right-wing authoritarian elements in developed liberal democracies, so as to get at the ideology of these people, rather than their ethnicity.

@setanta

You seem to have a depth of knowledge in this area, and I regret that I can only engage with some of it. I understand that there are differences between the traditional definition of Fascism and Islamofascism, we obviously disagree on how important it is to emphasise those differences. I'm happy to jettison the term completely if it gets us off that topic and back to the question I originally posed.

When you say the operative prejudice is religious I'm not sure what you mean. From what I've seen and heard of Islamism it seems to be the most dangerous and illiberal offshoot of monotheism active in the world today -how much of this understanding can be corroborated by the facts on the ground? And how much of it represents a filtered, Westernised, even racist viewpoint?
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Wed 23 Jan, 2013 03:02 pm
@medium-density,
Quote:
Can we point to a "Christian society" which doesn't come off better when compared with Islamist societies without looking at a history book?


Of course we can point to Christian societies which don't come of better when compared with Islamist societies. Tell me who wouldn't rather live in Turkey (a predominantly Muslim country) than Uganda (a predominantly Christian country) as far as human rights.

Christian extremism is comparable to Muslim extremism. It always has been, and it still is. This is why I feel that "religionist" is a far more appropriate term than "christianist" or "islamist".
medium-density
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Jan, 2013 03:38 pm
@maxdancona,
Compared with Islamist societies was the invited comparison, but your point about Uganda is well taken.

If we can call any right-wing authoritarian religious sect "Religionist" then I agree that's a useful term, but not for the specific question I'm raising. See above.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Jan, 2013 03:47 pm
@medium-density,
medium-density wrote:

Compared with Islamist societies was the invited comparison, but your point about Uganda is well taken.

If we can call any right-wing authoritarian religious sect "Religionist" then I agree that's a useful term, but not for the specific question I'm raising. See above.


Which societies do you consider Islamist societies? That way we can compare Christianist societies, like Cuba and Equatorial Guinea, to them.

I am answering the specific question that you are raising. I think the fact that you are a Christian and not a Muslim is the reason you think the way you do.

I can't speak for all liberals, but I am opposed to extremism in any religion. And, I feel that as a society we should welcome people of all religions who aren't extremists. Christians are no different than Muslims in this regard.

I do feel that since there are far more Christians in the US, and far more Christians in positions of wealth and power, Christian extremism is far more destructive to our country right now than any other religion. But, that is simply because Christian extremists are so intrenched in our social institution that they can do real damage.

H2O MAN
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 23 Jan, 2013 03:53 pm

Obama's gift to the Muslim Brotherhood
U.S. gift of F-16 fighters headed to Egypt, despite Morsi's harsh rhetoric
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Jan, 2013 03:58 pm
@medium-density,
You're obsessed with racism, and i've already explained why i don't consider that to be operative. I've also already alluded to the Serbs, who have shown themselves to be every bit as murderous based on religious prejudice.

You have fun with your phony fascists and your insistence on racism. I see no point in continuing the attempt here.
0 Replies
 
H2O MAN
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 23 Jan, 2013 03:58 pm


http://2016themovie.com/
0 Replies
 
medium-density
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Jan, 2013 04:21 pm
@maxdancona,
Turkey is I think considered among the Islamic nations with a political situation most compatible with developed liberal democracies, which is why I objected to that comparison. I suppose Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan are more on the scale towards Islamism, but my ignorance here prevents me from proceeding on a sure footing. Perhaps others can suggest comparisons -I may even have spoken too soon by excluding Turkey.

I'm not a Christian, actually. I don't have any faith. Though I don't think being a white atheistic liberal is much better for seeing into the mindset of a Muslim (or Islamist) either.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Jan, 2013 04:49 pm
@medium-density,
medium-density wrote:

I think we can say that Christians can be Islamist, in the sense that some are so extreme as to be comparable with that strain, but they aren't perhaps as numerous.


Oh, boy. I am now looking forward to "Islamist" being applied to any religious extremist. By meaning so much, the word comes to mean nothing at all.
medium-density
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Jan, 2013 05:02 pm
@roger,
Yes that phrasing I used leaves a lot to be desired.

I'll agree to not overextend the meaning of Islamist now, and hopefully reaffix the stopper on this evil thought-genie...
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Jan, 2013 05:03 pm
@roger,
Quote:
I am now looking forward to "Islamist" being applied to any religious extremist. By meaning so much, the word comes to mean nothing at all.


That's the point Roger. The problem is religious extremism of any religion.

Killing homosexuals, burning children as witches and bombing clinics; these things are bad no matter what religion the people doing these things happens to be.
0 Replies
 
H2O MAN
 
  -1  
Reply Thu 24 Jan, 2013 10:26 am
https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/405988_367719636659902_302829763_n.jpg
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

 
  1. Forums
  2. » A Confused Question on Islamophobia
Copyright © 2021 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.06 seconds on 12/03/2021 at 07:30:39