MideastWeb Middle East Web Log
One of the dilemmas of writing a blog that invites reader comments is that you may sometimes receive comments that do not address your views one way or the other, but go off in other directions, and run at cross-purposes to the enterprise of the weblog itself. How much time does anyone want to spend policing a website, anyway?
The occasional stray comment that's unrelated to the contents of a blog entry is inevitable and probably not worth anyone's concern. Worse is a de facto re-purposing of the comments section -- through either lengthy or multiple posts -- as a soapbox for other people's miscellaneous rants, a sort of free-rider blogging. (Get your own, folks!)
And worse yet is a "re-purposing" that turns MidEastWeb into a forum for racist diatribes. What follows is a description of two recent encounters with comment board abuse. It's meant to suggest how this blogger, at least, will respond to future outbursts. Your comments are, of course, welcome...
No one is expected to agree with me -- that would defy the purpose of a comment board. But I intend to keep the comment boards open, on point, and civilized, to the best of my ability to keep up with them. That includes pruning messages that in my jugdment don't belong. I ask for your cooperation: write something related to the blog entry, or to another comment. Don't demonize others. Don't call others names. Play nice.
Some background. The purpose of MidEastWeb isn't simply to share views and information, although these are important parts of the larger picture. MidEastWeb has an agenda:
The Middle East is our home. We want to build a beautiful home, a safe and prosperous one for us and our children. However, without cooperation between peoples, there is no hope and no life for any of us. This can only happen after we change our ways of thinking about many things. We need to overcome the effects of decades of conflict, separation and hate propaganda. The MidEast Web Group will use the Web, the Internet and other media to promote and publicize dialog, people-to-people and educational projects, and to make non-violence, tolerance and rapprochement key values in our societies. For charitable organizations and dialog groups, MidEast Web is a shared publicity resource - and a place to find resources to help them in their work. For everyone, it will be a service and, we hope, a useful, interesting and entertaining source of information.To be sure, not everyone involved with MidEastWeb lives in the Middle East -- I don't -- but the main point remains the same: dialog, tolerance, rapprochement, not conflict and hate propaganda. Coexistence, in short. (The formal name of the group is "MidEast Web for Coexistence.") An essential ingredient of the project is to humanize people to each other:
The "enemy" takes on demonic proportions in any conflict. Each side may imagine the other with horns and a tail. The enemy may be imagined as engaging in terrorism and sadism most of their waking lives. In reality, the enemy are people quite like their enemies. They (We) eat, they get married, they have children and hopes for the future. They have insights and talents and foibles. They mourn the losses of loved ones. They read books and enjoy a good joke now and then. These simple truths must be brought home to all parties in any conflict through personal contacts, exchange of small talk and jokes and the trivia of life, through accounts of personal tragedies and loss, and of joys and disappointments, through working together, and eating together and relaxing together, as well as through exposure to culture and wisdom of others.(Curious readers will find reflections of this perspective in some of my earlier comments here, here, and here.)
An important tool in the pursuit of this agenda is dialog, which we hope to advance online through the MidEastWeb dialog email discussion list, as well as the comment boards at this blog. So it is disappointing to see certain readers trying to turn the blog into their personal platform for the disparagement of "the enemy." Two recent examples also testify to the growth of a more sophisticated racism -- forms of systematic hatred that attempt to camouflage their malignancy behind a patina of enlightenment.
The first example appeared last month. I initially removed the comment, but the full text now appears here. Here's the short version: after maintaining, in the most enlightened way, that it is dangerous to speak of "the Jews" or "the Arabs" as a monolithic whole, and noting that most American Jews are really quite liberal, the commenter briskly moves to his area of interest, the Jewish conspiracy controlling the United States:
But a small segment of Jews, once secular and internaltionalist New Lefters, Trotskyists and Leninists (some even Maoists) came to identify with their ethnic roots after the June 1967 War and became radical Zionists. Gradually, they were drawn in by radical religious groups whose motto is that a Jew never gives up on saving another Jew for God. These "saved" Jews and those who saved them are a smal segment of the Jewish American population. They combined with Podehoretz's "neoconservatives," celebrating their newfound Jewish identity as both a Zinoninst right mind set (Likud) and an American neoconservatism. They live a dubious duality as American Jews and Israeli rightists.In the feeble hope of self-inoculation against criticism, the poster adds that "The neocons are trying to hide under a rock they call 'anti-semitism.'" In effect, the writer maintains that a Jewish conspiracy controls America but assures us that it really is very small. This "partition" strategy amounts to a demand that we pretend that his or her theory is actually something other than tiresomely familiar anti-semitic conspiracy theory. It doesn't wash.
As if a little Jew-bashing weren't enough, earlier this month, someone else wrote in to savage Arabs. But instead of engaging in partition, she decided to d-mn the entire bunch while wearing the cloak of scientism -- an attempt to sound scholarly:
The best book of anthropology of the basics of "The Arab Mind" was written by Raphael Patai 1975/1976 and then republished in 2002...which is now being "re-discovered and taught again" at the US War College. I suggest that to understand first how Arabs and Moslems raise their children, especially their boys, is to undertand their "body politic." Moslems and Arabs are not going to change or moderate their religion or politics, until they change their child-rearing practices...Intelligence agencies and governments are trying to understand Moslem terrorism after they have blown up buses and murdered thousands of innocents. It is imperative, that these killers be studied before they are five years of age where it all begins.From this we are meant to understand that all Arabs and Muslims -- "these killers" -- are all the same, taking in violence in kindergarten. This is a view that I very much doubt Rafael Patai would endorse. This "mothers' milk" view is only faintly more nuanced than saying that x or y is a "race" with inherently negative qualities. Once again, it's all too familiar -- the same vinegary old wine in a new bottle, whose handsome label, reading "Patai," or "scholarship," is supposed to make us admire the taste.
But the fun doesn't stop there. Shortly afterwards, the same poster adds:
How long must intelligence agencies and governments, as well as the media "skirt" around facing and exposing the Islamic religious doctrines as being the sole reasons and predictors of "why" and "how" the Moslems wage war? For instance, the Koran/Qu'ran states very clearly that `it is a tactic of war to lie and break contracts with the enemy as strategy.' Therefore, no Moslem/Arab can be believed on any level...and any attempt at negotiation is highly suspect and worthless proven by the bloody history of Israel and Arabs and Moslems since 1948. Therefore: Isn't it time for an all-out war to settle this?How quickly enlightenment fades. In less than ten minutes, the Good Doctor has gone from a call for studying the education of toddlers with an eye to its remediation to a declaration of all-out war against over one billion people.
Readers, don't expect to see much of this sort of thing at this blog in the future, because I will do my best to remove it without delay.
The sad case of the Iraq War is one more example of how dangerous it is to speak of "the"-- be that *the* Jews or *the* Arabs. American Jews are overwhelmingly of liberal persuasion. This is consonant with their tradition of moral social obligation, as so well explained by Rabbi Arthur Hetzberg. But a small segment of Jews, once secular and internaltionalist New Lefters, Trotskyists and Leninists (some even Maoists) came to identify with their ethnic roots after the June 1967 War and became radical Zionists. Gradually, they were drawn in by radical religious groups whose motto is that a Jew never gives up on saving another Jew for God. These "saved" Jews and those who saved them are a smal segment of the Jewish American population. They combined with Podehoretz's "neoconservatives," celebrating their newfound Jewish identity as both a Zinoninst right mind set (Likud) and an American neoconservatism. They live a dubious duality as American Jews and Israeli rightists.
Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000179.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to email@example.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.
by Analyst @ 01:01 AM CST [Link]
Replies: 4 comments
I really don't see very much "racism" in the above cited comments. I do see some facts. Here is an article by an Iranian scholar regarding the raising of children in the Islamic world. Will you see that as "racism" or a scholarly effort?
Child to killer
by Fatima Farideh Nedjat
Reasons behind idolization of destructiveness
". . . The relationship between the status of women in the "constructed Islam" (different from what the holy book prescribes) by the heads of some theocratic governments and the environmental profile of being raised by some abused mothers in a religiously strict, ascetic household lead us to the psychological, ideological, and sociological reasons why one can be encouraged to idolize destructiveness in order to become a martyr. I describe a few socially situated conditions among such populations. The lack of public and economic benefits results in functional illiteracy. Women's oppression then flourishes under these constructed Islamic traditions. This creates dominant psychological conditions that promote fundamentalism.
The political aspect of suicide bombing among Muslim fundamentalists is the central concept of this paper. We must understand the instigating forces that drive individuals to become perpetrators of suicide bombing. These influences are divided into four categorical segments: The psychological impact of family environment; the moral efficacy of religion; hegemonic ideology; and a society of organized violence. All of these forces are inculcated through women's oppression, the agent whose nurturing power becomes dysfunctional.
The backbone of such structure is a theocratic government ruled by hard-line fundamentalist militants, whose outlook is determined by a literal interpretation of scripture. This oppression produces fundamentalist households in which abused, narcissistic mothers raise children. The current global violence perpetrated in the name of "God" by the Islamism fundamentalists makes one wonder what encourages individuals to act so violently. What is the ideology behind the phenomenon that enforces such behavior?
The viewpoint justifying the act of violence is defined as "retaliation and retribution" in the classical Shari'a law. Muslim societies living under this ideology must systematize such ideology within the government, in order to execute punishments terrorizing the unbeliever, or the enemy of Islam. The violent act of suicide bombing and the moral efficacy of religion are interlocking. The government passively observes as the disease of intellectual deprivation is spread among lower socio-economic groups that are functionally illiterate. The interrelation of martyrdom and reprisal are positively reinforced within the social context as a pillar of Islam, Jihad. The child growing up is conditioned to believe in martyrdom. For instance, during the Iraq and Iran War, positive reinforcement for becoming shahid's family (the family of a martyr) came in the form of extra coupons for food rationing and monthly payments of an equal to $50 to families who lost a son in the war. . .
Full article: http://www.iranian.com/Opinion/2002/February/Mind/index.html
One could post hundreds of passages from the Qur'an and the hadith that support these facts.
â€¢ "Fight against such of those to whom the Scriptures were given ... and do not embrace the true Faith, until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued." (9:29)
â€¢ Slay those who believe neither in God nor the Last Day, who do not forbid what God and his apostle have forbidden, and who do not embrace the true Faith, until they pay jaziah out of hand and are utterly subdued Surah Al-Tawbah (Repentence), Ayah 29,
Sura on violence against unbelievers & Jews: 9:73; 2:190-192; 47:8; 4:74,76; 4:95,96; 9:5; 5:34,35; 8:39; 8:65; 9:29; 5:60; 2:65; 7:166
Index to Qu'ran for referencing the above sura: http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/quranindex.html
Would you remove them? Because they certainly are bigoted, racist, misanthropic and misogynistic.
Posted by Lilith @ 02/09/2004 03:46 PM CST
As to the content of what you wrote, I observe:
The political aspect of suicide bombing among Muslim fundamentalists is the central concept of this paper.
Can you discern the difference?
3. You have quoted selectively from the Qur'an, which also enjoins Muslims to respect the peoples of the book - the Jews and the Christians. Muhamed was fighting Jewish and Christian tribes at the time and the language of the Qur'an reflects it.
4. All the 'holy books' are full of embarrassing quotes of one time or another and these can be used as material for racism. You know very well that neonazi Web sites love to quote Israel Shahak's venom against the Talmud to prove the wickedness of the Jews. I am sure that you don't think that is fair.
Here is a really hair raising quote that parallels the ones above, but it is from Deuteronomy - "OUR" book. It explains (just as the above Qur'an passages explain) what should be done to those who do not pay tribute and do not surrender to the one true God:
The Jews are a terrible people no? "thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth" - that is what it says in Deuteronomy. By your logic and method of scholarship, it proves that the Jews are all bloodthirsty and intolerant. But we enjoy good women when we can:
B> smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword:
No sense letting all those women go to waste, is there?
If you do not believe Deuteronomy or the Talmudic quotes of Israel Shahak give a fair portrayal of the Jewish culture and believe, why do you insist that the literally interpreted, quoted out of context Qur'an gives a fair portrayal of Muslim culture and belief?
Posted by Moderator @ 02/10/2004 09:49 PM CST
"If you do not believe Deuteronomy or the Talmudic quotes of Israel Shahak give a fair portrayal of the Jewish culture and believe, why do you insist that the literally interpreted, quoted out of context Qur'an gives a fair portrayal of Muslim culture and belief?"
Both Judaism and Christianity have had a reformation. Islam cannot have one because the Qur'an bills itself as IMMUTABLE and the literal word of allah! The latter sura abrogate the earlier. There are scores of passages in the Qur'an and the hadith mandating violence against the "unbelievers." While there are but a handful that are tolerant.
There are not millions of Jewish and Christian militants running about the planet in "jihad" against the "other." It is estimated that about 10% of Muslims are militant and many more are "fundamentalists." How many millions is that out of 1.5 billion Muslims?
As to the article. I have no idea whether the author is Muslim. In my experience, most educated "Muslims" are either apostates or even atheists. Those who have studied the Qur'an and are educated and intelligent often find it abhorrent.
Where I have claimed that all Muslims are "incorrigible fanatics" ?
I am saying that ALL Muslims are not terrorists, but that ALL Islamic terrorists are Muslims. And IF Muslims follow the Qur'an to the letter as prescribed by Mohammed then they would also be terrorists. Because the Qur'an is a war manual, a terror manual (to use a modern term) and not a religious book. Islam is unique in its position that it is superior, it must RULE the world and all who don't want to be subjugated by Islam must be killed.
Please read your Qur'an for a better comprehension of Islam and its mandate from pedophile Mohammed! (That is the truth. Any man, no matter from what time or culture, who "consummates" his "marriage" to a nine year old, pre-pubescent, girl is a pedophile!)
"You have quoted selectively from the Qur'an, which also enjoins Muslims to respect the peoples of the book - the Jews and the Christians. Muhamed was fighting Jewish and Christian tribes at the time and the language of the Qur'an reflects it. "
I can quote chapter after chapter in the Qur'an. There are few passages of peace and tolerance and many more of violence, misanthropy and misogyny. There are lots of passages that say Jews are "of monkeys and pigs" and that the Muslim should not make friends with Christians or Jews. Islam is militant and seeks a Muslim hegemony world wide. All you have to do is to read the so-called "holy" Qur'an to understand that.
If you don't permit the truth to stand on your website and want to whitewash Islam then what is the point? You want us all to sing Kumbaya while Islamic militants murder innocents world wide?
Islam is NOT peace! Islam is imperialist and violent. All Muslims do not follow true Islamâ€”thank heaven. If they did, they would do just as the Qur'an instructsâ€”"kill the infidel," that is the rest of humanityâ€”you and me. The Islamic terrorists are following what Muhammad mandated to the letter! All other Muslims, those who pick and choose their passages, are apostates.
You are placing your Western interpretation on Islam. Read the Islamic clerics and scholars who will tell you that the Qur'an is the IMMUTABLE, unchangeable word of allah.
Islamic Apostates' Tales
"(M)ine is a voice that has not yet found expression in newspaper columns. It is the voice of those who are born Muslims but wish to recant in adulthood, yet are not permitted to on pain of death. Someone who does not live in an Islamic society cannot imagine the sanctions, both self-imposed and external, that militate against expressing religious disbelief. â€˜I don't believe in Godâ€™ is an impossible public utterance even among family and friends...So we hold our tongues, those of us who doubt."
You should also read Samuel P. Huntington classic:
Check out [expunged] to see what educated Muslims have to say about Islam.
PSâ€” The blue type of this website is annoying.
Posted by Lilith @ 02/12/2004 04:47 PM CST
Well Lillith, there you go again. A lieral reading of the Qur'an may result in the interpretation you give it. However, a literal reading of the Old Testament, as noted, will produce equally outrageous and alarming results.
As noted, there are Muslims who do not interpret the Qur'an in the violent and intolerant way that you present. In addition to the article which you yourself cited, by a Muslim, there are many others. I call your attention to a new article at the MEW Web Log - Islam and the Concept of Martyrdom .
The thesis of Huntington and some of the other Web sites you have pointed us to are proof that there are Western fanatics, just as bent on Jihad, Western style as their Muslim counterparts. Like their Muslim counerparts, they do their best to conjure up an image of an agreessive and "evil" force on the "other side" and there is unfortunately quite a lot of truth in it.
Just as unfortunately, I can't really convince my Muslim friends that everyone in the West is sunny and tolerant while General Boykin and Pat Robertson are spouting their messages of "peace and tolerance."
Posted by Moderator @ 02/18/2004 12:17 PM CST
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