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The other Paul Johnson and his comments on Islam

by gearup / June 20, 2004 6:39 AM PDT
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True about the Islamic world, Gearup....
by Paul C / June 20, 2004 7:00 AM PDT

...but I wonder if the Europeans shouldn'y also pay heed to what Mr. Johnson says about them?

The more I study history, the more I deplore the existence of those--be they clerics, bureaucrats or politicians--who think they know what's best for ordinary people and impose it on them. We have a pungent example of this know-all mentality in the EU. The bureaucrats of Brussels have created yet another brand of intolerance that determines by law everything from the shape of bananas to the number of seats in a bus, from apple growing to house plumbing. As a result the German economy is contracting and the French economy is stagnant. There are now more unemployed people in single-currency EU Europe than there have been at any other time since the worst of the 1930s, and many of them will never work again.

Let those of us fortunate enough to live in the U.S. or Britain hang on to our traditions of tolerance at all costs, resisting like fury all those who seek to undermine them with political correctness or any other kind of dogma.


Do you think that the Euros - and all others who think that unbridled government allowed to grow ever larger and more controlling - will listen to that? I doubt it.

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Re: The other Paul Johnson and his comments on Islam

Hi, Gearup.

So if tolerance is the key to prosperity, what does that say about our growing intolerance towards Muslims?
There seems to be a paradox at play here!

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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What intolerance?
by Bill Osler / June 20, 2004 7:54 AM PDT

At the risk of sounding stupid, I'm not sure what you are implying.

It is true that a few aberrant individuals in this country have been uncivilized enough to commit various "hate crimes" against Muslims and/or people who might "look like Arabs" but that hardly constitutes a broad trend toward intolerance in our society.

It is true that some of the "intelligentsia" in our society have developed such a warped view of "tolerance" that many "politically correct" individuals equate any rejection of somebody else's viewpoint with "intolerance," but all that proves is that "political correctness" is morally bankrupt. If our society vigorously rejects the violent actions by Islamic extremists that does not make us intolerant. Whether or not we agree on the details of the methods we use to fight the terrorists is a completely separate question.

It has been argued (with some justification) that our society has become so secular that it is becoming intolerant of deeply held religious beliefs of any kind, but that is certainly not specific to followers of Islam. Followers of orthodox Christianity are increasingly concerned about what they perceive as a growing intolerance of their beliefs.

So, just what intolerance did you have in mind?

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I had the same thought.
by Kiddpeat / June 20, 2004 10:43 AM PDT
In reply to: What intolerance?

There is also a view of tolerance that says giving more credence to, and arguing for, your own beliefs is intolerant. For example, when we say homosexuality is wrong morally, we are said to be intolerant.

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Precisely. Johnson used 'tolerant' in a different sense ...
by Bill Osler / June 20, 2004 10:55 AM PDT

Reading the article, I think his use of the word 'tolerant' was similar to our use of the term laissez faire in both its economic and non-economic sense. Economic tolerance is more-or-less the same as a free market. Social tolerance, in the sense I think he meant, is more-or-less not interfering in other people's affairs without a pretty good reason.

In the modern usage you cited (and rightly disagree with), 'tolerance' is equated with 'acceptance' or sometimes even 'endorsement'. They are hardly the same. I 'tolerate' my human failings (and those of others!) because I must, but I do not 'accept' them as being good or desirable.

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Re: I had the same thought.
by Dan McC / June 21, 2004 4:13 AM PDT

I've never heard anyone seriously object to your holding your beliefs. The problem arises when you try to impose your beliefs on everyone in the form of civil law.

Dan

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OK, seriously picture a TV personality who says
by Kiddpeat / June 21, 2004 7:37 AM PDT

homosexuality is immoral. How long will it take before the PC police are in full cry for that person's scalp? He or she will be run out of the industry. Do you seriously question that?

As for law, I think most law is a statement of morality. So, if I think something is immoral, it is entirely proper for me to lobby to have a law passed against the immoral activity. Why should you be able to 'shout down' my right to do so simply because you disagree? Notice that I have NOT said that I think homosexuality should be made illegal. I am making a more general point.

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Law and morality
by Bill Osler / June 21, 2004 12:26 PM PDT
As for law, I think most law is a statement of morality. So, if I think something is immoral, it is entirely proper for me to lobby to have a law passed against the immoral activity.

That is a complex question. One of the difficulties facing 'Islamic states' right now hinges on that question. How much should Islamic doctrine determine secular law? One problem is that the population of those Islamic states includes non-Muslims. Of course, the other problem is that Muslims have some diversity of opinion regarding precisely what some of the moral standards of Islam are.

The same issue arises in the US. We are (from an historical perspective) a predominantly "Christian nation" even though we do strive to maintain a wall of separation between church and state. In our increasingly secular society, whose morality drives the secular law?

Please do not misunderstand me. I take personal and group morality very seriously, but I have grave reservations about trying to legislate morality. It seems to me that law should focus primarily on the security of person and property rather than on morality.

Many Christian scholars draw distinctions between the laws handed down by Moses in the Pentateuch. Some of the laws are peculiar to the Jewish state eventually founded in Palestine. Some of the laws are ceremonial and relevant primarily to Jewish religious observance. Other laws represent fundamental moral issues. There still comes a question regarding how much of those moral laws should be adopted in a non-theocratic society.

For example, I believe that sexual intercourse outside of monogamous heterosexual marriage relationships is immoral. (the word 'heterosexual' really shouldn't be needed there, but given current events ...) Even so, I have grave doubts about the wisdom of trying to codify that moral precept in law.

Obviously, though, I think it is wildly inappropriate for the "politically correct" "thought police" to "shout down" those who disagree with them. It is particularly ironic when the "thought police" "shout down" moral conservatives in the name of preserving "diversity".
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Yes, I think there are limits when trying to codify
by Kiddpeat / June 23, 2004 12:11 AM PDT
In reply to: Law and morality

religious practices into the law. We've been there, done that, and it didn't work. However, laws against insider trading, for example, as basically moral judgements. It is my right to work to pass laws prohibiting this. The final judgement, ultimately, must be made by the legislature, and reviewed by the courts.

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Re: Yes, I think there are limits when trying to codify
by Dan McC / June 23, 2004 12:46 AM PDT

Insider trading is against the law, not because it is immoral, but because it undermines the trading system.

Dan

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Yah, right. Everything that undermines the trading system
by Kiddpeat / June 23, 2004 2:14 PM PDT

by giving one person more knowledge than another is illegal right? Wrong! It's not a problem to have more knowledge based on a variety of factors, and that doesn't undermine trading.

Insider trading is illegal because it's stealing. It's acting on knowledge which was acquired unfairly with the intent to take someone elses money. That makes it immoral Dan.

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(NT) (NT) You're wrong, but whatever.
by Dan McC / June 24, 2004 1:29 AM PDT
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A new arbiter of morality? (NT)
by Kiddpeat / June 24, 2004 11:17 AM PDT

.

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Re: OK, seriously picture a TV personality who says
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / June 21, 2004 2:04 PM PDT

Hi, KP.

That's different. I can remember when many Southerners railed against "Papists." Hatred based on who people are is itself immoral -- there's more than adequate data suggesting (at the very least) that homosexuality is genetically favored in some people, if not actually determined. The bill of Rights isn't designed to protect the majority, but to protect the minority from the majorty. Yes, when it was written that didn't include homsexuals -- but it didn't include Blacks, either. I dare say you wouldn't be very happy if the same anchor said that conservative Republicans are immoral because they don't follow the social justice dictates of the Gospels!

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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That doesn't speak to the original point which was
by Kiddpeat / June 23, 2004 12:18 AM PDT

are we free to have, express, and work for our own ideas of morality. While you may argue that sexual preference and race are equivalent, I don't believe that's true. However, I am not completely free to express that belief today. In Canada, it may even be considered hate speech. That is wrong (immoral).

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Re: OK, seriously picture a TV personality who says
by Dan McC / June 21, 2004 11:54 PM PDT

People say that all the time. Where have you been?

Law is not a statement of morality, it is the rule we agree to live under in order for civil society to function. Trying to enforce one brand of morality by threat of legal repercussions is a bit more government than I'm comfortable with.

Dan

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OK, name the TV personalities who say it.
by Kiddpeat / June 23, 2004 12:20 AM PDT

'People say that all the time. Where have you been?'

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Re: What intolerance?
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / June 20, 2004 11:09 AM PDT
In reply to: What intolerance?

Hi, Bill.

Maybe you haven't been following things this weekend, but several messages (now pulled) have suggested that Muslims are a problem best solved with neutron bombs and other similar methods...

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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Maybe I missed something ...
by Bill Osler / June 20, 2004 11:28 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: What intolerance?

I saw references to deleted posts. My impression, possibly incorrect, from the bits and pieces I saw suggested that the posts were in reference to Muslim terrorists, not Muslims in general.

One of the hard things about this process is that we do not always say precisely what we mean. You and I are both extensively trained and practiced in careful, precise communication and yet both of us manage to make statements that do not quite demonstrate our intent from time to time. At the risk of sounding elitist, I will observe that there are other members of the forums with considerably less training and experience in precise communication who undoubtedly also make the same kinds of communication errors that we make and perhaps make those mistakes more frequently.

I understand that the TOS have to be enforced with some regard to the sensitivities of the reader regardless of the intent of the poster, but it seems to me that there is a tremendous leap in the conclusion that a few posts, promptly removed, represent a systematic bias in the forum against Islam or Muslims.

Are there individual members who harbor strong prejudices against Muslims or Islam? Quite possibly. It is also quite possible that there are forum members who harbor strong prejudice against Jewish people, Blacks, Catholics or other non-WASP groups. It is obvious that there are members who harbor some prejudice regarding various other groups. That said, I do not think that these attitudes on the part of individual members result in a truly hostile environment for members of any of those groups. Whether that is due to careful moderation or to the natural inclinations of the group is a matter that you are more qualified to judge than I am.

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Re: Maybe I missed something ...
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / June 20, 2004 11:17 PM PDT
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Even that link has a decidedly mixed message.
by Kiddpeat / June 21, 2004 12:14 AM PDT

Many expressed disapproval of a blanket condemnation of Muslims. Others raised valid points. For example:

'"Last night Islamics had a chance to speak up for Paul Johnson, but today it's too late," the sign read.'

Perhaps many Muslim voices raised in protest and condemnation would have saved the man's life.

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Re: The other Paul Johnson and his comments on Islam
by C1ay / June 20, 2004 8:24 AM PDT
What does that say about our growing intolerance towards Muslims?

Muslims or radical terrorists that claim they are muslim? I don't recall seeing evidence of a general intolerance of muslims as a whole.

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I've seen evidence of that in this very forum.....
by Josh K / June 20, 2004 8:57 AM PDT

.....and I'll be the first to admit that it probably wouldn't happen as much as it does (and the war on terror would be a heckuva lot easier to win) if mainstream Muslims would take a stand and come out strongly against the desecration of their faith that terrorists are engaged in.

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Maybe I just don't "get it", but ...
by Bill Osler / June 20, 2004 9:47 AM PDT

I'm not sure I've seen any pattern of intolerance of Muslims or of Islam per se. Of course, I don't read all of the threads and the ones that look politically inflammatory (based on subject lines) are generally among the ones I avoid.

I have seen a lot of anger about the actions of terrorists who claim to be strict adherents to traditional Islamic doctrine, but I've also read that their (the terrorist's) claims are specious. I certainly do not think the terrorists represent the beliefs of mainstream Muslims from any of the major sects. Some of the people who posted may not have been uniformly clear, either in their prose or perhaps in their thinking, about making a distinction between different types of Muslim practice, but I do not see any genuine anti-Islamic bias in the forum. It appears to me that the vitriol between the conservatives and the liberals is far more prominent and inflammatory than anything I've seen posted about Muslims in general. Maybe that is because of the way that the TOS is enforced. I don't know.

I have not seen much reference of any kind to the less strident forms of Islam beyond a few posts a week or two ago from someone who is (presumably) a follower of the Prophet.

IOW, I can't agree that there is any substantial 'Muslim bashing' or 'discrimination' against Muslims or Islam here in the forum.

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Correct Bill - I don't include peace loving Muslims
by SteveGargini / June 20, 2004 10:26 AM PDT

I make reference to fanatical muslims who partake in acts of terrorism only.

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Re: Maybe I just don't "get it", but ...
by Dan McC / June 21, 2004 4:06 AM PDT

There have been more than a few posts that display a wanton hostility toward the muslim people as a whole. These posts are correctly deleted pretty quickly. Other posts are less strident but the same meaning is there. It shows you're a good and generous person to give people the benefit of the doubt without even realizing it.

Dan

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Re: I've seen evidence of that in this very forum.....
by C1ay / June 21, 2004 12:51 PM PDT

Perhaps I should have phrased it differently. By 'general intolerance' I intended an overall or majority intolerance. There are a few individuals that seem to have some prejudice but I think they are quite a minority. I tend to believe that the majority of our society remains tolerant of muslims as a whole with it's prejudice directed seperately at terrorists. It's quite unfortunate that the majority of the terrorists are muslims.

I also believe that some of this is a direct result of the way the media presents it. We are constantly battered with all of the negative news with no coverage of positive events. If more of the appreciation of the Iraqi people were covered for instance it would dilute the negatives of the constant reminders of the insurgents. Another example is the minimal media coverage of any muslim outrage of the atrocities committed by terrorists.

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Re: I've seen evidence of that in this very forum.....

Hi, Clay.

>>Another example is the minimal media coverage of any muslim outrage of the atrocities committed by terrorists.<<
There is some, but the thing is that the "silent majority" of any group rarely is vocal enough that it "makes the news." And as a result, you find posts implying that the moderate Muslim's outrage isn't deep or vocal enough, and so somehow isn't real.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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I was struck by this conclusion.
by Kiddpeat / June 20, 2004 7:46 AM PDT

'On the evidence of the second half of the 20th century it would appear that Islamic state control is a formula for continuing poverty, and Islamic fundamentalism a formula for extreme poverty.'

Is there any evidence that non-fundamentalist Islam does any better?

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The answer might depend on how you extrapolate the data ...
by Bill Osler / June 20, 2004 8:05 AM PDT

Certainly Turkey has demonstrated the potential for economic growth.

Of course, whether that is because the Turkish people have mostly been non-fundamentalist or because it has been a more-or-less secular state is beyond my ability to discern.

Do you think that a secular state is likely if the population is predominantly fundamentalist? Are there any good examples of Islamic states (successful or otherwise) that are not strongly influenced by fundamentalists of some sort or other? It seems to me (based on my admittedly incomplete understanding) that a lot of Arab nations are not so much Islamic states as they are personal fiefdoms of the ruling class, and it is not surprising that they fare poorly economically. I don't think we can blame the poor economic performance of the Arab world solely on Islamic fundamentalism, though I'm sure it has played a part in the situation.

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