May 30, 2007

Paul Berman on Tariq Ramadan

by Michael J. Totten

Paul Berman has written an epic-sized essay the length of a small book about Islamic activist Tariq Ramadan for The New Republic. It is called The Islamist, the Journalist, and the Defense of Liberalism. This is not intended to be read in one sitting. You might want a hard copy of this one.

I don’t normally recommend you read something I haven’t (yet) read in its entirety myself. But this is Paul Berman we’re talking about. His books Terror and Liberalism and Power and the Idealists should be considered required reading for every single person who reads this blog.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at May 30, 2007 01:00 AM
Comments

Quite an endorsement, can you elaborate a bit? I'm afraid I don't read much content at TNR/Slate/NYT these days.

Posted by: rosignol at May 30, 2007 01:12 AM

I am reading it now.

If you haven't read Paul Berman before, do it now. You will thank me for making you do this.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 30, 2007 01:15 AM

It's true about the require reading part. He made me read Terror and Liberalism and then quizzed me incessantly. I aced the essay portion, so I didn't have to do the iambic pentameter section for extra credit. Sometimes having an English Lit. major for a business partner is more trouble than you would think.

When I get back, we'll have to have beer and chat. Got some video tonight.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at May 30, 2007 01:20 AM

I saved a copy and most definitely will read it.

Terror and Liberalism ranks right up there, for me, with Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order, Civilization and its Enemies: The Next Stage of History, and Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies (among some others that I won't now list).

Posted by: Salamantis at May 30, 2007 02:24 AM

This is going to be a long slog.

My own impression of Ramadan, such as it is, is that he is slippery. I think he puts one hell of a lot of effort into inventing phrases that will sound soothing to non-Muslims, moderate or ambiguous to moderate Muslims and will wink at the radicals.

Everyone can fool himself into thinking that Ramadan is all his own, and that is Tariq's aim. He is everything to everybody to a greater extent than I would have thought possible.

Do I know what Ramadan believes? No, but I don't think his goals are quite moderate enough that I would like them. I came to similar conclusions about Chomsky, by the way but with a fascinating difference - that has more to do with Chomsky than with Ramadan, so I'll leave that for another time.

After scanning the article, I think we're going to be disappointed. I don't think that Berman has solved the riddle. I think he's written around and around Ramadan but never ventured to ask the questions he can't answer except by reading minds. He doesn't know what Ramadan wants for Europe. He doesn't know the end point Ramadan has in mind.

But maybe that's the beginning of the answer. Ramadan wants the radicals to trust him, he wants the moderates to trust him and he wants the infidels to trust him. Each is projecting his own vision on Ramadan, and we know those visions well.

Ramadan thinks he can satisfy them all. So the question isn't what Ramadan wants, but what is he actually accomplishing, if anything.

I don't think Berman answered that question, because the answer to that would be in details of theology and political choices and in projections of the world's political and military future. I need a crystal ball.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at May 30, 2007 05:19 AM

On further thinking, I admit that I don't really know WHERE Ramadan really stands, and it's that uncertainty that made me say he's too radical. Actually all I know for sure is that he's made it impossible for me to know his actual aim.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at May 30, 2007 05:30 AM

Paul Berman suffers from what Josh Marshall calls "the Orwellian temptation" - Berman feels the need to claim that Islamism presents an existential threat to the West, when that is clearly not the case. Given the intellectual damage people like Berman have already done, it's probably too late to rescue anyone reading this blog but this article is a good start

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2003/0305.marshall.html

Key quote: "Unlike fascism or communism, militant Islam isn't a rising power, but a threat precisely because of its dysfunction and weakness."

Berman makes some very good points about Europeans unwillingness to defend people like Hirsaan Ali, and unwillingness to defend what at the end of the day are European values against interlopers who seek to undermine those values - but what he misses is that this says more about European weakness and lack of self-confidence than it does about Islam's strength. In more vital nations like China, Japan or even Brazil, Islam is making no inroads at all.

Posted by: vanya at May 30, 2007 06:56 AM

Geez, Vanya, since we're all beyond rescue, why concern yourself with us any more? Think of all the things you can do with your extra free time!

Posted by: Gene at May 30, 2007 07:21 AM

"militant Islam isn't a rising power, but a threat precisely because of its dysfunction and weakness"

I share this sentiment. I also believe Islamic extreme is in apogee or nearing it. Our children will have to deal with it no doubt but our grandchildren might have it easier, so I hope.

Posted by: leo at May 30, 2007 08:09 AM

Key quote: "Unlike fascism or communism, militant Islam isn't a rising power, but a threat precisely because of its dysfunction and weakness."

Militant Islam may be dysfunctional and weak, but it's followers are ruthless, treacherous, and capable of inflicting great destruction on free societies. While it is not a threat on the same scale as the Soviet Union, the danger the movement represents should not be minimized or dismissed.

Posted by: rosignol at May 30, 2007 08:31 AM

Berman feels the need to claim that Islamism presents an existential threat to the West, when that is clearly not the case.

Why should we only be concerned with the west? Tariq Ramadan is a good salesman, but the thing he is selling is Islamism, which is basically the idea that Islamic law (sharia) must be the basis for all statutory law of society.

Islamism is a political belief, which, of course is separate from Islam, a religious belief. More than a billion people are Muslim but not all of them are Islamists. Many Muslims hate, and are willing to actively protest against Islamism.

As a legal system, sharia is the most brutal set of laws on the planet. The spread of Islamism is responsible for the millions dead in the Sudan, it's responsible for the slavery in Africa, the massacres of Buddhists in Asia and terrorism in the West and Middle East.

Ramadan is trying to sell the idea that these brutal laws and this brutal political philosophy are harmless, even beneficial to the West. Some are dumb enough to buy it.

Ramadan's studies were also most likely funded by his grandfather's Muslim Brotherhood, a large financial/political organization which uses oil money to fund terrorism around the world.

So, the question of whether Ramadan represents a brutal, fascist-influence worldview is fairly easy to answer in practical terms - if you note his goals and his if you follow the money, of course he does.

Is that brutal, fascist-influenced worldview dangerous? Ask a Sudanese slave or an anti-Islamist Muslim. Of course it is.

Posted by: mary at May 30, 2007 08:32 AM

i printed the article and have read a few pages and i am underwhelmed: it is bland, boring and does not say anything of significance. i share josh's impression.

i've looked at an interview he gave in 2006 and i saw too many old-left cliches without anything real creative.

i was going to give his book a read, but now i am not so sure anymore.

ramadan is an excellent practicer of da'wa and taqiyya. being slippery is what is all about. indeed, the problem with obl, hamas, hezbollah, the islamists in general is that they are not intelligent enough practicers of taqiyya. arafat had some skills in that, but he cannot touch ramadan. hence the latter's success and arafat's only partial success to fool only idiots like carter. had the pals practiced like ramadan, i am not so sure israel would be still standing. imagine olmert vs. ramadan.

chomsky is quite good at his criticism of some aspects of us society, but when it comes to foreign policy and cultures he is an utter moron. that's because, like most americans he projects american culture and like most lefties he imposes an oppressed/oppressor class struggle on everything.

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 08:32 AM

i disagree that islamism is separate from islam.

if to be a muslim means the beleif that the quran is the true and complete word of allah, then the sharia should be imposed everywhere and that is the obligation of every muslim to fight jihad to that end.

if one dilutes that in any way, whatever he is, he is no longer a muslim, but a takfir or apostate.

muslims who are not islamists are actually not true muslims. they know that, which is why you don't hear many of them denounce the islamists. their position is theologically weak.

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 10:20 AM

Militant Islam is clearly weaker than the Soviet Union was, but it's far more ruthless. Whereas the Soviets had hundreds, perhaps thousands, of nuclear weapons, they never used them. As soon as a radical Islamist group gets its hands on a nuclear device, a Western city will be destroyed.

Posted by: Zak at May 30, 2007 10:22 AM

CAIR: islamism is islam

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=28491

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 10:39 AM

Vanya: Berman feels the need to claim that Islamism presents an existential threat to the West.

No he doesn't. And I don't either.

Islamism has, however, ruined entire non-Western societies and seriously threatens to ruin some more.

Reza Zarabi is closer to the mark, I think, than Marshall's inaccurate description of Berman:

The name Iran, which used to be equated with such things as luxury, fine wine, and the arts, has become synonymous with terrorism. When the Islamic Republic government of Iran finally meets its demise, they will have many symbols and slogans as testaments of their rule, yet the most profound will be their genocide of Islam, the black stain that they have put on this faith for many generations to come.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 30, 2007 10:40 AM

fp: muslims who are not islamists are actually not true muslims.

Muslims argue amongst themselves about who is the real Muslim and who is the fake Muslim just like people who adhere to any other religion. Why take the side of the reactionaries?

Almost every Christian and Jew I know ignores the more reactionary and backward parts of their tradition. This is good, and I'm not about to say only the fundamentalists are the real Christians.

Most Muslims have never read the Koran. So maybe the moderates aren't "real" if they don't adhere to all of it, but so what?

There are moderate imams even in the Arab world who have certainly read the Koran. They know a lot more about it than you or I do and I am not about to insult them by calling them fake.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 30, 2007 10:49 AM

mjt,

you don't understand. reread what i wrote.

what they think don't matter. what matters is that each time anybody raises his/her head to question the islamist position, they get denounced as takfir/apostates, not to mention worse.

the problem is they don't have any THEOLOGICAL basis to counter the islamists. they can only argue outside the quran and tradition. and that is a serious weakness which explains why so many "moderate" muslims are silent.

so i am not taking any position. i am only describing the muslim reality in its own terms.

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 11:01 AM

only an arrogant ignorant west can be blind to the dangers that islamism poses. particularly, since islamism have useful idiots allies within the west: the lunatic left.

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 11:03 AM

that's why ramadan is so successful.

and guess what?

http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/016680.php

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 11:05 AM

and this:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20070530-121308-3365r.htm

and this:

http://hotair.com/archives/2007/05/29/jihad-watch-the-thickening-fog-of-war/

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 11:09 AM

and this:

http://lrc.reviewcanada.ca/index.php?page=the-explanation-we-never-heard

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 11:12 AM

There are moderate imams even in the Arab world who have certainly read the Koran.

Moderate Imams is something I've seen very little evidence for. The statements by Imams that I've read are never unambiguously moderate and often, well you know.

And, for instance, Evariste, who is a Western ex-Muslim, says the the Mosques he's attended in the United States were anything but moderate.

I would be happy to find evidence mosques that are committed to moderation.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at May 30, 2007 11:15 AM

Josh,

See here.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 30, 2007 11:20 AM

fp,

You claim that, in essence, because moderate muslims who criticize fundamentalist muslims are denounced by said fundamentalists, they are not true muslims.

You back up your interpretation of islam with links to several conservatively-biased news or commentary-masquerading-as-news sources.

Your circular logic is impenetrable.

Posted by: Naha at May 30, 2007 11:30 AM

While Iran under the Shah was a "friend" of the West, I don't think everyone who actually lived there during that time would agree it was an aesthetic paradise.

Posted by: alphie at May 30, 2007 11:42 AM

MJT: "Islamism has, however, ruined entire non-Western societies and seriously threatens to ruin some more."

Yes, and to me, this is the point that so much American debate about the ME completely misses, namely, that THIS IS NOT JUST ABOUT US. I care about my own country and its people, but my concern doesn't stop at the water's edge. I think the West has a "duty to protect," as Bernard Kouchner says, and it makes me sad to see so many Americans who call themselves "liberals" but who seem more concerned about better health benefits for Dayton, Ohio than they are about genocide in Darfur, Rwanda, etc.

Posted by: Gene at May 30, 2007 11:42 AM

Most Muslims have never read the Koran. So maybe the moderates aren't "real" if they don't adhere to all of it, but so what?

There's a catch 22 that's been bothering me a bit.

We can't maintain any level of safety unless our society educates itself about the problem. The better we know Islam the better we will understand our enemies.

But we can't educate ourselves about Islam without also educating Muslims about Islam, and thus turning a huge number of them into crazed enemies.

I think it's important that we do it anyway. We're flying blind unless the public understands the world we live in.

Besides that, a mass-culture debate over Mohammad, the meaning of Islam and it's history could, by itself bring the brittle edifice crashing down.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at May 30, 2007 11:55 AM

Naha>You claim that, in essence, because moderate muslims who criticize fundamentalist muslims are denounced by said fundamentalists, they are not true muslims.

I claim NOTHING of the kind and you don't seem to comprehend what i do claim, possibly because it's uncomfortable.

when the so-called moderate muslims are denounced by fundamentalists for not being true muslims, it is not i who declare them not real muslims, THE MODERATES THEMSELVES KNOW and UNDERSTAND that they are theologically on thin ice. it's the fundamentalists who have theology on their side.

to repeat: if the quran, sharia and jihad are direct commandments of allah, then any questioning of them is takfir. it is not i who say so, it is the muslim faith that says so. and this is true of ALL accepted schools of islam.

were it not the case you would have much more counter denunciations.

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 12:05 PM

in fact, that's the best explanation for mjt's comment about "secular muslims" identifying themselves as such instead of just secular. because they realize the implications.

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 12:07 PM

josh>Moderate Imams is something I've seen very little evidence for. The statements by Imams that I've read are never unambiguously moderate and often, well you know.

the reason you don't see more of them i just explained above.

but even when you see them, it is easy to be moderate in public when you are "forced into a corner" with the core islamic beliefs.

they are almost never asked if they question the fundamental islamic beliefs. if they were asked and not allow to avoid answering directly, or squirm out of it, they would not be able to seem so moderate anymore.

this is precisely why islam is so effective in creating an image of "religion of peace" and moderation. and why creeping islamization is critically dangerous. because at any point in time moderates can turn into fundamentalists by circumstances, indoctrination, etc.

consider the 26% of young muslims in the US who say suicide bombing is acceptable. they all appear as moderate, but when you put a direct question to them, you get a different reaction. now, they don't do such actions now, but there is no guarantee that they cannot be prompted to it at some point. which is exactly how suicide bombers are recruited -- by invoking pure islam.

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 12:15 PM

correction: i meant

but even when you see them, it is easy to be moderate in public when you are NOT "forced into a corner" with the core islamic beliefs.

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 12:17 PM

I'm curious as to why some people put the cause of the Darfur conflict as Islamism when both sides in the current conflict are Islamist, and most analysts say that the root cause is water rights.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 30, 2007 12:25 PM

fp: it's the fundamentalists who have theology on their side.

Says who? The fundamentalists? Of course they would say that. I'm not taking their word for it, and I don't recommend you do either. The moderate clerics know a lot more about Islam and the Koran than you or I ever will. You are on theologically thinner ice than they are, for sure, and so am I.

Read the link I posted above to Josh. It's my interview with Shia cleric Sayyed Husseini in Lebanon.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 30, 2007 12:25 PM

Read the link I posted above to Josh. It's my interview with Shia cleric Sayyed Husseini in Lebanon.

I believe that the standard response from this mindset will be to say that he either is not representative, or that he is lying to trick the non-Muslims.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 30, 2007 12:30 PM

DPU,

He isn't lying. I have five of his books, and they match what he told me. He didn't say anything different all of a sudden just because I showed up at his house.

It is true that he is not representative of Lebanon's Shias, but he explains very well why that is. And he is correct. His point of view was representative of Lebanon's Shias before the Iranians came.

A lot of this is about politics. It's not all about religion.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 30, 2007 12:36 PM

mjt,

you either don't read what i write, or you don't comprehend it, even though it's explicitly clear.

it's THE MODERATES THEMSELVES who think so. who do the islamists recruit for jihad, infidels? no, moderates. and why is that? because they invoke theology for this purposes.

that's also the many who you say are muslim for identification purposes only are essentially secular, but don't dare saying they're not muslims because they know the consequences in a muslim society.

as a westerner who doesn't know much about islam, may i suggest that you take too certain of a position about the moderates, while you accuse others of committing this very sin.

the fact of the matter is that i don't take any position, i only describe the muslim side. while you are trying to impose your western preferences on the issues.

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 12:39 PM

fp,

I'm not talking about nominal Muslims. That's a separate issue.

Read my interview with cleric Husseini.

I have seen his bookshelves. I even took a photograph of his bookshelves. You can see that picture at the link.

He has definitely read more books about Islam than you have. He got his PhD in the subject in Qom. You can say all you want that I don't know enough about Islam, but you can't say that about him.

Husseini, for what it's worth, beats Hassan Nasrallah in both knowledge and rank. He isn't one of Beirut's nightclub and coffeeshop Muslims.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 30, 2007 12:48 PM

Read the link I posted above to Josh. It's my interview with Shia cleric Sayyed Husseini in Lebanon.

I believe that the standard response from this mindset will be to say that he either is not representative, or that he is lying to trick the non-Muslims.

I still say that its unforgivably arrogant, immature and insulting for DPU to spend his time criticizing the attitudes that he only assumes are in posts he refused to actually see or read.

I should be allowed to face my accuser. Frankly we should not allow this forum to become a playground for this sort of insult.

If he wants to block us out that's his business, but to block us out while spending all of his time talking about us or slandering us is unforgivable.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at May 30, 2007 12:49 PM

MJT: He isn't lying.

I know. I was supplying the standard response that usually comes from the mindset that you're debating here.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 30, 2007 12:57 PM

mjt,

i did not dispute that and i did not use the nominal muslims as the basis for my argument, only as an illustration.

the fact of the matter is that your guy has never been forced to answer core questions about the face in a manner in which can interpret them away.
i would like to have robert spencer, not you, interview him and then draw conclusions.

but even that is a side point. my main point is that the islamists are much more effective than your guy in capturing the muslim masses, and you have to ask yourself why. if the islamists did not have theology on their side, they would not be able to.

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 12:58 PM

and btw, I DID read your interview at the time.
and i was not convinced that you had enough background knowledge to be as certain as you are insofar as your conclusions are concerned.

i think that it more or less fit what you wanted to believe. it might be accurate, but not with such certainty.

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 01:01 PM

I'm curious as to why some people put the cause of the Darfur conflict as Islamism when both sides in the current conflict are Islamist, and most analysts say that the root cause is water rights

"Some" people who put the cause of the Darfur conflict as Islamism are Sudanese. Since they don't usually use tired cliches like 'root cause', (they usually focus on their enslavement by Islamists) I'd have to assume that the unnamed 'most analysts' are not Sudanese.

Posted by: mary at May 30, 2007 01:21 PM

I'm sorry Mary, I couldn't understand your response. Maybe it's all the scare quotes. Could you try again? Why is this conflict considered by some to be caused by Islamism when both sides are Islamist?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 30, 2007 01:25 PM

I'd have to assume that the unnamed 'most analysts' are not Sudanese.

Is Darfur Watch a good enough source for the analysis? Or would you dismiss them as biased or something?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 30, 2007 01:27 PM

The first article of Darfur's National Redemption Front founding declaration in interesting:

1. Uphold Sudan as multicultural, multi-religious and multiethnic country where diversity constitutes the basis of citizenship for individuals, and unity of our nation.

http://www.mathaba.net/news/?x=551267

They don't sound like Islamists to me, more like Chomskyites.

Posted by: alphie at May 30, 2007 01:46 PM

They don't sound like Islamists to me,...

They are, but so are the rebels. If anything, the rebels could be said to be even more fundamentalist. The non-Islamist rebels have actually joined the government, and the head of the rebel SLA group is now in charge of Darfur.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 30, 2007 01:56 PM

Is Darfur Watch a good enough source for the analysis?

Not really - Darfur watch seems a myspace page written by a single person who describes herself simply as "a Brooklyn-based non-fiction writer and... activist."

You'll have to do better than that...

Posted by: mertel at May 30, 2007 02:02 PM

Is Darfur Watch a good enough source for the analysis?

Not really - Darfur watch seems to be a myspace page written by a single person who describes herself simply as "a Brooklyn-based non-fiction writer and... activist."

You'll have to do better than that...

Posted by: mertel at May 30, 2007 02:02 PM

I know they're Islamists, DPU,

Just providing some info for the Levant-centered crowd who see the world as a battle between hammers and nails.

Posted by: alphie at May 30, 2007 02:04 PM

Oh, sorry alphie, misunderstood your point.

The national Redemption Front is composed primarily of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and some remnants of other rebel groups that opposed last year's treaty.

From the Wikipedia article on JEM:
The JEM traces its foundation to the writers of the Black Book, a manuscript published in 2000 that details the structural inequity in the country. JEM espouses an Islamist ideology, and the government links the group to Hassan al-Turabi, although leaders of the group and Turabi himself deny the claim.
al-Turbani was the fellow who gave sanctuary to bin Laden in Sudan, and married his neice to bin Laden. From the Wikipedia article on him:
Dr. Hassan 'Abd Allah al-Turabi (الدكتور حسن عبد الله الترابي in Arabic), commonly called Hassan al-Turabi (sometimes transliterated Hassan al-Tourabi) (حسن الترابي), is a religious and political leader in Sudan, who may have been instrumental in institutionalizing sharia in the northern part of the country.

He was influential as a government figure under several heads of state in the country, but was put in a Kobar (Cooper) prison in Khartoum on the orders of his one-time ally, current president Omar al-Bashir in March 2004. He was released on June 28, 2005.

Recent reports have suggested that (as of 2004), Turabi is associated with the JEM (Justice and Equality Movement), an Islamist armed rebel group which is involved in the Darfur conflict. Turabi himself has denied these claims.

The Appendix of the 9/11 Commission Report calls Turabi "Sudan's longtime hard-line ideological leader and Speaker of the country's National Assembly during the 1990s." Turabi was leader of the National Islamic Front, a powerful political faction in Sudan. The Front attempts to impose sharia upon the country, even though radical Islamists form a small minority of the population.

Still sound like Chomskists? Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 30, 2007 02:06 PM

You'll have to do better than that...

I think you just demonstrated your complete lack of knowledge on the subject.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 30, 2007 02:08 PM

fp: i would like to have robert spencer, not you, interview him and then draw conclusions.

Fine, fair enough.

I have Husseini's books if Spencer wants to borrow and review them.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 30, 2007 02:11 PM

I have now read through Berman's Ramadan article.

Some people seem to have been MTV-ified, and not been able to follow it through to its conclusion, finding it (or at least the portions of it that they managed to read) to be bland and boring.

I did not find it to be so. Instead, what I found was a careful exegesis of Tariq Ramadan, using historical influences, published works, interviews, and others' critical responses, which, at least partially, successfully deconstructed his position, and which honestly admitted where his elision of issues prevented that from happening.

One thing that came through for me is the 'Trojan Horse' nature of his contentions, which speak differing things to multiple audiences, and I believe that Berman made the case that they do so intentionally. They reassure progressive infidels that he is actually interested in modernizing Muslim doctrine in the human rights arena, while nevertheless comforting the faithful that he nevertheless stands with them and their reactionary social agendas.

I noted with dismay how the anti-racist Muslim movement in France was swept away by the Islamist movement there, and noted the subtle yet real part that Ramadan played in this.

I think that the most telling points come near the end of the article, when Ramadan's debate with Sarkozy is referenced. It seems to me that in them Ramadan lets his tolerant mask slip, and shows that he is unwilling to repudiate the religiously based intolerance of others.

What was to me the most chilling part for the West is how Western intellectuals have allowed themselves to become entranced by such arguments, to the point of apologizing for Ramadan's nuanced consilience with these regressive social views, while berating Hirsi Ali, who has clearly repudiated them.

It was, to me, a shining and sterling example of what Paul Ricoeur was talking about in his work Tolerance between Intolerance and the Intolerable. Those who, in the name of tolerance, begin by tolerating the intolerance of others, are traipsing down a slippery-slope primrose path, which leads them first to remain silent in the face of the cruel and brutal actions which the intolerant take in order to foist their intolerance upon its unwilling targets, and risk eventually endorsing such intolerance and the actions taken to impose it, themselves in the process losing all claim to the tolerance which they formerly espoused.

As Ricoeur said, the one thing that the tolerant simply cannot tolerate is the intolerance of others. It would appear that Ramadan has done so, and his sycophantic Western intellectual 'critics' are following him down that slimy rabbit hole.

Posted by: Salamantis at May 30, 2007 02:14 PM

DPU,

Think of Islamism as a turnkey franchise that people who want to get into the rebellion business can purchase, not much differt than Arby's or McDonald's.

You get a product, cool posters, a worldwide advertising campaign and the economies of scale.

Communism was the same way.

Posted by: alphie at May 30, 2007 02:29 PM

mjt,

why don't you contact spencer, inform him of our exchange (he knows me as oao) as a context and ask him if he is willing to look into it.

be aware, though, that he is overloaded and i dk how he manages to do as much as he already does.

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 02:31 PM

I'm sorry Mary, I couldn't understand your response. Maybe it's all the scare quotes. Could you try again? Why is this conflict considered by some to be caused by Islamism when both sides are Islamist?

Sorry about the sloppy writing. But to answer your own question, just reread it:

Why is this conflict considered by some to be caused by Islamism when both sides are Islamist?

Since both sides are Islamists, and since both sides are involved in the slavery, genocide and general oppression that defines the situation in the Sudan, don't you think we safely assume that Islamism might have something to do with these problems?

Posted by: mary at May 30, 2007 02:31 PM

it would help a lot if all those who choose to opine on islam, islamism and the likes of ramadan educate themselves about da'wa and taqiyya. then they would not need berman to tell them what ramadan is all about, it would be quite obvious.
it does not look as if berman knows either, or it would not have taken him so long to debunk him, an effort which i find unnecessary to the knowledgeable.

but i will reserve my final comments on berman for after i read all the article. i would be very surprised if i were impressed, but it's possible.

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 02:36 PM

MJT-

It is true that he is not representative of Lebanon's Shias, but he explains very well why that is. And he is correct. His point of view was representative of Lebanon's Shias before the Iranians came.

But that's exactly the problem, isn't it?

All too often moderate, outspoken Muslims are marginalized and even threatened by the fundamentalists who currently seem to be the dominant ideological force in mosques not only in Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, etc but in many US based, Saudi funded mosques as well.

The fundamentalists (or radicals if you prefer) dominate the debate, with the many, many mainstream moderates either afraid or unwilling to speak out, instead hiding behind words like "Islamophobia" or suggesting that only Muslims or Arabic speakers can truely understand Islam.

All too often a formerly "moderate" Muslim turns militant after "finding religion" and becoming more devout- that tells me that the fundamentalists are controlling the debate.

Posted by: Hollowpoint at May 30, 2007 02:41 PM

sal,

why are you surprised? this is exactly what i would predict from being attacked by something they don't know and don't understand, and which their society has not prepared them to deal with?

wishful thinking is exactly what ramadan's taqiyya is targetted at and it works like a charm.

what is more: the nature of taqiyya is such that even when you confront the ramadans directly and do not give them any opportunity to dissemble or respond directly, islam allows them to outright lie to the infidels if it's avantageous.

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 02:41 PM

the economist, amnesty international, wikipedia. if that does not tell all those who feed the trolls what they're dealing with i dk what will.

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 02:43 PM

I think you just demonstrated your complete lack of knowledge on the subject.

All I did was question your source. You proceed to launch an ad hominem attack and quote wikipedia. Brilliant.

Anyway, DPU, if you want to convince yourself the conflict in Darfur has nothing to do with Islamism go ahead. Sudanese General Mohamed Beshir Suleiman explained it differently: “The door of the jihad is still open and if it has been closed in the south it will be opened in Darfur.”

Posted by: Mertel at May 30, 2007 02:48 PM

regarding darfur: last time i looked islamists did not give a flying fuck about their own the only thing that gets their dander up are the infidels who, whatever they do, they oppress the ummah. as long as they kill and maim each other, it's acceptable, if not necessary. in fact, isn't that exactly what's happening just now in lebanon?

so the fact that the two sides are islamist should confirm, not disprove where the root of the problem is and why the ummah doesn't give a shit about it.

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 02:55 PM

hollowpoint,

bingo. and the reason marginalization and worse is possible is theological. it would have been very difficult for the islamists to get away with what they do if the so-called moderates had clearcut theological arguments against them.

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 02:59 PM

fp,

As someone who provides links to people like debbie schlussel and jihadwatch like they are sources of unbiased wisdom yet complains about links to the Economist, my Frist-like powers of remote diagnostics tells me you were, tragically, born without a sense of irony.

Posted by: alphie at May 30, 2007 03:03 PM

it's worth noting that sarkozy's televised debate with tariq ramadan was widely seen in france and was undoubtedly a factor in sarkozy's popularity ever since.

sarkozy managed to express what many "felt" but were reluctant or unable to articulate because of the mental straitjacket of politically correct dogma.

Posted by: Todd Grimson at May 30, 2007 03:11 PM

fp-

bingo. and the reason marginalization and worse is possible is theological. it would have been very difficult for the islamists to get away with what they do if the so-called moderates had clearcut theological arguments against them.

I'm not willing to go that far, because that implies a hopelessly pessimisstic position. It wouldn't happen overnight, but I have to think that it's at least possible for Islam to reform by suggesting that the practices sanctioned in the seventh century no longer apply today.

If Al Gore can convince people that SUV's are going to cause Manhattan to be underwater in our lifetimes, I have to think that a coordinated effort by influential Muslims could convice their flock that Jew-killin' is bad. Unfortunately, it's not currently happening in an outspoken, large scale way and that's the problem.

Posted by: Hollowpoint at May 30, 2007 03:20 PM

fp, you are supposing that the whole of moderate islam can be divided into three camps: those who denounce radical fundamentalism and those who denounce the denouncers and those who keep quiet. So, regardless of the distribution of these 3 groups, your statement would still hold true. As long as there is one moderate willing to denounce the whole rest of moderate islam, you would be right.

You've got me there. You may not have a keen grasp of islam, but I bow before your tautological prowess.

Posted by: Naha at May 30, 2007 03:22 PM

I have to think that it's at least possible for Islam to reform by suggesting that the practices sanctioned in the seventh century no longer apply today.

Not likely.

Islam is a cult of personality about a single man who claimed final primacy, claimed to require absolute control over every heart and who was absolutely, concretely specific.

If you try to marginalize Mohammad in any way, you don't have Islam at all.

Any reformed Islam has to be temporary. Ironically you could have made it more permanent in the past when you could rely on people being illiterate and isolated.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at May 30, 2007 03:27 PM

no, it does not mean that. it only means that we should stop relying on moderate muslims to solve our problems with islamism for us. and to delude themselves that there is no danger because the majority is moderate.

please bear in mind that gore convinces the same gullibles in the west that embrace the islamists and think israel is the root of the problem.

what i have been arguing is neither pessimis nor optimistic. it is realistic and we dismiss it at our peril.

http://islam-watch.org/AmilImani/Islamist-Threats-US.htm

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 03:28 PM

josh,

you are revealing that you dk enough about islam.

if it were just a mohammad cult, it would be rather easy to reform islam. the reason is not likely to be is precisely because it is NOT a simple cult of a human.

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 03:33 PM

Hollowpoint: I have to think that it's at least possible for Islam to reform by suggesting that the practices sanctioned in the seventh century no longer apply today.

Of course it's possible. There are clerics who make that very point right now as we speak. I interviewed one of them in Lebanon. The link is above.

The moderates have won the argument in some places and the Islamists have won the argument in other places.

In Iran the Islamists won the argument for a while. Now they are losing the argument, but they still control the state, the military, and the police. Eventually they will lose things, as well.

Islamic countries are not permanent unchanging mountains. If you study the histories of these countries (not just the Koran!) this becomes much more apparent.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 30, 2007 03:34 PM

I have to think that a coordinated effort by influential Muslims could convice their flock that Jew-killin' is bad.

Again, of course.

The Kurds are Muslims, and they are pro-Israel.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 30, 2007 03:36 PM

for somebody who does not have a grasp of logical reasoning, you should not go around accusing others of tautologies.

and i learned a long time ago that whenever i discern inability to reason the value of a dialog is nil.

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 03:36 PM

mjt,

but wasn't you who said that they are first kurds and then muslims (and that they are surrounded by enemies who also happen to be the enemies of israel?)

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 03:39 PM

All I did was question your source.

What did I source to Darfur Watch? Nothing. I asked Mary if that was a good enough source. You apparently don't think so. Okay then, how about Sudan Watch? The New York Times? The Economist? Time Magazine?

Is there any source that would be good enough?

And lest you think I'm ignoring the quote you provided, I'm not sure why you think it relevant.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 30, 2007 03:40 PM

Since both sides are Islamists, and since both sides are involved in the slavery, genocide and general oppression that defines the situation in the Sudan, don't you think we safely assume that Islamism might have something to do with these problems?

By the same logic, a war between Christian nations could result in the assumption that the Christian faith has something to do with the war.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 30, 2007 03:41 PM

i would be willing to accept the possibility of a reformation in the future IF AND ONLY IF the west would implement domestic and foreign policies that would deal properly with the islamist threat and empower the moderates.

unfortunately, the west does the exact opposite. what is more, whenever it tries to empower moderates, they are considered western accomplices against islam.

so you see -- check and mate.

Posted by: fp at May 30, 2007 03:44 PM

There is a solid theological reason why attenuation of Qu'ran-sanctioned violence against the infidels in Islam is and will be much harder, if not downright impossible, to achieve than has been the case with the attenuation of Bible-sanctioned Christian violence against non-believers.

Christians believe that the Bible was written by human beings, under Holy inspiration, while the official position of Islam is that the Qu'ran (literally, the Recitation) was dictated to Muhammed, from Allah (God) by the Archangel Gabriel, and is word-for-word accurate and correct for all time. Thus, while there is a reasonable split between Fundamentalist Christians, who take the Bible literally, and the rest of Christians, who see parable, poetry, metaphor, simile, era-linked human prejudices, contradictions and inaccuracies in the Bible, no such split is officially possible within Islam. All observant Muslims are expected to submit to the literalist stance; in fact, Islam translates as Submission.

While there are a half-dozen or so peace-and-tolerance passages contained within the Qu'ran, there are also more than a hundred vicious and violent passages to be found there. People say, well, the Old Testament is indeed itself to a significant degree a 'testament' to divinely sanctioned brutality, and this is true. However, most of that brutality was superseded by the pronouncements in the more peaceful and tolerant New Testament, while the Qu'ran is divided into the Meccan and the Medinan sections. The Meccan section, which came first, when Muhammed was militarily weak and was forced to placate his enemies, contains all of the peace-and-tolerance passages, while the Medinan section, which contains many (although not all) of the brutal and violent passages, was written later, and supercedes the more moderate Meccan section. It is as if, in the Bible, the Old Testament came later and superceded the New; if this were so, the majority of Christianity would most likely be much more brutal and intolerant than small sections of it (see the former Yugoslavia) are now.

In fact, there is no such thing as enduring peace with infidel nations in the Muslim lexicon; instead, they employ truces (hudnas). These are, according to the Qu'ran, supposed to be offered when the Faithful are militarily weak vis-à-vis their adversaries, to give them time to increase their military numbers and augment their armaments. When the weak faithful become militarily strong compared to their adversaries, the hudna is to be unilaterally broken by the faithful, and jihad is to resume. Once one understands the conceptual character of the hudna, it becomes obvious that it is never in a nation's interest to accept one.

Jesus only once became violent in the Bible, when he whipped the moneychangers. Mainly, he preached faith, love of one's neighbors, and nonviolence. When one of his disciples raised a sword against and cut the ear off of one of the people sent to arrest him, he supposedly put it back on. Muhammed was historically a warrior and guerilla fighter. His life was circumscribed by military conquest. The hadiths, which are records of occurrences in and commentaries on the life of Muhammed and records of his words (when they were not supposed to be dictated by the Archangel Gabriel), are nearly as important as the Qu'ran itself to them.

Christianity began to behaviorally moderate and domesticate itself around 500 years ago, due to the effects that the Reformation and the Enlightenment had upon it. Islam has yet to go through this confrontation; it is only now just beginning for them. However, in the present era, with the advent of global anonymous communications and travel, and with easy access available to both the materials needed to construct WMD's and the knowledge needed to properly employ these materials, this is a particularly dangerous time for fanatics to lash out from the growing pains. Giordano Bruno conceived of relativity 350 years before Einstein and was burned as a heretic for it, and rockets (fireworks) were already known to Europe by then, due to Marco Polo's sojourn in China; think of what it would have been like if the medieval world had had the option of ballistic thermonuclear conflagration (not to mention genetically engineered plagues and mass-produce-able deadly chemical compounds). There is the added factor that one of the Muslim death-penalty heresies (or shirks) translates as 'innovation' (Islamists are quite willing to appropriate death-dealing technology while rejecting the science behind it - a Pakistani 'scientist' actually wrote a paper that advocated solving his country's energy problems by harnessing djinn (genie) power!); thus it can be dangerous for Muslims to publicly embrace novel concepts - and this will only make it more difficult for Muslim adaptation of include accommodation to other perspectives rather than to simply be comprised solely of the Borgian assimilation, subjugation or elimination of all of their vectors.

Mind viruses are unlike the viruses that plague our bodies. If a physically infectious disease kills its host too quickly, that host cannot serve as an infection vector (which is why AIDS is so much more of a global threat than the Ebola virus - the long, symptom-free yet contagious incubation period). This is also why deadly diseases demonstrate the historical propensity to become slower killers as time goes on. However, a different survival strategy presents itself for totalizing mind-viruses, which MUST be cognitively rather than physically communicated, and thus, if they are elaborate and/or involve significant behavioral changes, difficult to contract under the radar of one's attention: to kill and/or enslave all those who RECOGNIZE the attempted dissemination (proselytizing) and REFUSE to be infected (part of these memesets is invariably the inculcation of the desire and/or duty to infect others - this is how they propagate). This eliminates competition for cognitive residence from alternative memeplexes (the dead cannot communicate their competing vectors). Unlike physical diseases, where people may be infected with multiple differing phages simultaneously (like measles AND the flu), a totalizing memeplex must have SOLE possession of its niche, or it cannot be said to possess it at all. And in fact, to reject conversion to Islam is considered by Islamofascists to be an insult and attack upon it, punishable by death.

Now, remembering that the historical function of tribal religion has been to enhance group cooperation and cohesion, thus giving religious tribes an advantage in warfare against tribes with less mutual commitment and more individualism (and most likely the pre-historical function, too - thus setting up a group selection which would tend to reproductively favor those who were increasingly susceptible to infection by religious memeplexes), let's take a quick look at the evolution of universality and intolerance in Patriarchal Monotheism.

The memeplex of Judaism originally involved a divine gift of a particular parcel of land to a particular chosen people - Israel for the Jews (although, lately, converts to Judaism, although not sought, are accepted from every racial and ethnic classification). Thus the parameters for the growth of the Jewish memeplex were set by the nature of the memeplex itself - only within ethnic Jews, who were only promised dominion over historical Israel (most Zionists still think this way).

However, with the evolution of Christianity from Judaism, the ethnic imperative and the geographical rootedness were pruned off, and all one had to do was to accept the memeplex. This allowed Christianity to spread to all sorts of ethnicities, and for them to take control of previously non-Christian lands, as their demographics grew to majority within them. It also had the advantage of spreading the genetic sacrifice idea beyond a tribe, so that multiple tribes sharing the same memeplex could band together and both protect each other and cooperate in the confrontation of common enemies (a feature that the Roman Empire put to conscous use when they adopted Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire). However, Christianity was written so it could be disseminated via persuasion - the Great Charter, which comprises the Christian memeplex's infection module, reads: "Go ye therefore and TEACH all nations". Of course, the construction of this module implies the conviction that the vector is offering a gift of knowledge to the ignorant, and for this reason many have been historically forced to adopt Christianity 'for their own good', even when they were too (willfully or otherwise) 'ignorant' to recognize what their own good was, and sometimes at the cost of their mortal bodies, if in the process their immortal souls were saved.

Still, the language of Christianity's proselytization module is persuasional rather than coercive, and this left room for the development of tolerance for other faiths, even while missionaries continue to be perpetually funded to 'spread the Good Word'.

This is a weakness that the evolution into Islam has exploited. The Muslim memeplex explicitly substitutes coercion for persuasion. It is quite precise in what may and may not be done: all 'People of the Book' - that is, Jews and Christians (and I suppose Zoroastrians - they have a single holy book called the Zend Avestra of Zarathustra)- have the option to a) convert to Islam, b) be put to death, or c) live in Dhimmitude, a serfic, subservient state somewhere between slavery and second-class citizenship, characterized by less civil rights, the fact that any Muslim's word will always be legally favored over theirs in courts of Shari'a law, and the payment of perpetual monetary tribute known as the jizya. For all the rest - Buddhist, Taoists, Hindus, Pagans and Atheists - the options are only two: convert or die.

Islam officially divides the globe into two camps; Dar-el-Islam (the World of Islam) and Dar-el-Harb (the World of War). This stance entails the conviction that the only means by which final global peace may be attained is the total elimination of the Dar el Harb, and the establishment of a Global Muslim Caliphate ruled by Shari'a law. Those who choose to embark upon Jihad (actually, it is described in the Qu'ran as a duty rather than as a choice just like Christian witnessing is in the Bible) and are killed (martyred) while engaging in it, are Qu'ranically assured of a Paradise in which they may perpetually and guiltlessly enjoy practically all of the pleasures that are religiously forbidden to living Muslims; those who live are Qu'ranically permitted to take possession of the spoils of war, be they the property or the women of the conquered and/or slain infidels. This stance is, of course, patently hegemonistic and militantly imperialistic, and becomes even more appealing to poor male Muslim youth, when they see their chances of having their own wife as negligible (since the more wealthy Muslims are religiously free to marry as many as four of them each - as long as they can financially support them all). When one takes a look at the historical spread of Islam, primarily by coercion and conflict, from its inception in the Arabian Peninsula some 1300 years ago to its reach from Spain to the Philippines today, and one discovers that, of the forty-five military conflicts extant in the world today, Muslims are fighting on one or both sides of them all, it would appear that this particular module possesses great expansionistic efficacy.

Supporting this memetic module are some others, such as the doctrine that all humans are naturally born as Muslims, and that those who profess other beliefs have fallen into apostasy (and thus must be rescued from their error or suffer the dire consequences), and the dictum that people are free to convert TO Islam - in fact, as we have seen, the 'inducements' are quite formidable - but that to convert FROM Islam to anything else (or, in the case of atheists and agnostics, to nothing) is a religious crime for which the punishment of death is prescribed. It is also better for one's assimilational purposes if one's infidel target is kept in the dark. Thus, Muslims are religiously free to both deceive infidels as to their intentions regarding them (taqiyya) and to misdirect their attention from those intentions (kitman), in the interests if the greater good - that is, in the interests of the expansion of the Ummah (the fellowship of the true believers).

Now, I'm not saying that all Muslims, or even a majority of them, are inexorably drawn from live-and-let-live tolerance to Mujaheddin Jihadism in the service of the annihilation of the Dar el Harb and the establishment of the Global Caliphate (Daniel Pipes estimates the number at around 15%), but the vast majority those who are not so drawn are very quiet, because the message contained in the memeplex of Islam supports not them, but the militants, and they are quite reasonably frightened of suffering the Righteous Retribution of the Violent Faithful should they dare to attempt to speak out in dissent (Some exceptions are Salman Rushdie, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Irshad Manji, Taslima Naslim, Wafa Sultan, and Ibn Warraq; these brave souls continue to suffer for their courage and integrity, and many of their outspoken brethren have been killed).

Posted by: Salamantis at May 30, 2007 03:52 PM
By the same logic, a war between Christian nations could result in the assumption that the Christian faith has something to do with the war.

If you can't tell the difference between a Christian and an Islamist, I suggest you read up on both. I'd recommend 'The Islamist' by Ed Husain, a British Muslim who joined Jamat-e-Islami and Hizb ut-Tahrir, before leaving political Islamism and adopting Sufism.

Posted by: MattW at May 30, 2007 03:54 PM

Oh c'mon fp. I did the math!

All joking aside, I've learned that when someone responds to debate with some flavor of "you're too stupid to argue with" rather than refuting their opponent's points or reinforcing their own, that usually means they're either wrong or they're right but don't understand why.

I understand your "logical reasoning" perfectly: there are people that say stuff and there are other people that disagree with them and we should accept the word of the people that disagree as the final word on the subject because it supports your interesting ideas. I get it.

Posted by: Naha at May 30, 2007 03:57 PM

If you can't tell the difference between a Christian and an Islamist...

I think you missed the point by a pretty wide margin.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 30, 2007 03:57 PM

MJT-

Thanks for the reply. I honestly hope you're right, but I get the feeling that it's not going to take years but rather generations given how outnumbered Kurdish, Turkish or Lebanese moderates are in the context of Pakistan, Saudi, Egypt, etc. Given the rising influence of the Islamicists in Turkey, Indonesia and Iraq it seems almost certain that things are going to get worse in the near term and decades before they get better.

I'll certainly agree though that the moderates- the true moderates who don't say one thing to the West and the opposite in the mosque- deserve to be supported no matter how sound the theological ground they're on.

Posted by: Hollowpoint at May 30, 2007 04:03 PM

By the same logic, a war between Christian nations could result in the assumption that the Christian faith has something to do with the war.

You seem to be confusing Islam with Islamism. Islamism is a political and legal system based on the idea that a holy book should determine the laws.

Predominantly Muslim nations that are ruled by secular governments function fairly well. Predominantly Muslim nations that are ruled by Islamist governments are brutal, economically stagnant and oppressive and, in Sudan's case, pro-slavery.

Are you trying to convince us that Islamism is a workable political system that is not to blame for the problems in the Sudan?

Posted by: mary at May 30, 2007 04:09 PM

naha,

you are entitled to your opinion. but i maintain that the quality of your argument was such that it does not exactly prompt me to bother with a reply.

this threat is very cluttered with infantile crap and smart and knowledgeable people go out of their way to respond, oblivious to the waste of time and effort, and to the elevation of idiots to a level of discussants. i have enough experience in polemics to not fall into that trap.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 30, 2007 04:24 PM

is the muslim community in switzerland -- home to our friend ramadan -- moderate or islamist?

http://www.nysun.com/article/55439?page_no=2

if it is moderate, why did they invite him? does it have anything to do with theology?

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 30, 2007 04:27 PM

Naha,

Rather than argue with fp's circular logic, why don't you tell us what you think about extremist and moderate Muslims. You are from Lebanon, right? Whether you are a Muslim or not (I have no idea and don't really care one way or the other), surely you have experience with both types of people.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 30, 2007 04:28 PM
Since both sides are Islamists, and since both sides are involved in the slavery, genocide and general oppression that defines the situation in the Sudan, don't you think we safely assume that Islamism might have something to do with these problems?
By the same logic, a war between Christian nations could result in the assumption that the Christian faith has something to do with the war.

Islamists view everything political through the prism of Islamism. Christians may consider the morality of a course of action, but there is no real comparison with political Islam.

I think you missed the point by a pretty wide margin.

How?

Posted by: MattW at May 30, 2007 04:34 PM

one can accuse me of circular logic only if they don't master logic.

in any case, mjt's prompt is appropriate to somebody who accuses others of eschewing the issues.

incidentally, lots of moderate muslims pop up when there's funds involved. after all, CAIR got the DHS to dump funds on mosques suffering from (nonexistent) islamophobic attacks.

thus, is stephen schwartz moderate or not?
http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/016679.php#more

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 30, 2007 04:38 PM

Predominantly Muslim nations that are ruled by secular governments function fairly well. Predominantly Muslim nations that are ruled by Islamist governments are brutal, economically stagnant and oppressive and, in Sudan's case, pro-slavery.

Surprisingly, there are many nations with the same attribute that are not Islamist.

Are you trying to convince us that Islamism is a workable political system that is not to blame for the problems in the Sudan?

No, I am saying that the conflict in Darfur is the result of a fight for diminishing water resources and has almost nothing to do with Islamism. And I'm repeatedly asking for the specific reasons that people think it tied to the political movement.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 30, 2007 05:15 PM

is ms. lekovic moderate or islamist?

http://counterterrorismblog.org/2007/05/ms_lekovica_dozen_printing_mis.php

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 30, 2007 05:16 PM

Me: I think you missed the point by a pretty wide margin.

MatthewW: How?

I asked specifically how Islamism is to blame for the Darfur conflict. Mary said that because both sides in the conflict are Islamists then that must have something to do with it.

This is guilt by association, and it is hand waving. If she could point to specific events in the conflict that have a direct correlation to Islamist practices or political influence, then she would have a case.

My point was that if you could simply note similar religious or political beliefs on two sides of conflict and say "there you go, they both believe the same thing, therefore that is the cause" then that logic could be applied in all kinds of inappropriate places. It's faulty logic.

You then made the astounding leap to me not being able to distinguish Christian from Islamic.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 30, 2007 05:22 PM

mary,

Malaysia is governed by Sharia law and does quite well for itself.

Don't you think your condemnation is a little broad?

I don't see how Islamists ecouraging their people towards cleanliness, piety and charity could be seen as a bad thing.

It might help if you listed what parts, specifically, about Islamist governance you feel turns a country into a hellhole. Paint the targets that need to be fought, so to speak.

Here's an interesting article about Muslimn scholars who are making up to $1 million a year helping big banks comply with Sharia usury laws, btw:

http://tinyurl.com/26pg2f

Posted by: alphie at May 30, 2007 05:33 PM

mary,

just so you know: malaysia does quite well for itself, but the infidels there ah, well, that's another matter altogether.

however, the vociferous ignorami dk and dont care about those.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 30, 2007 05:45 PM

Don't take troll bait.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 30, 2007 05:46 PM

How well is this Malaysian doing?

http://www.abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=3224695

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1626300,00.html

Posted by: Salamantis at May 30, 2007 05:51 PM

Which is the troll there, Michael?

Me, or the Master of Logic?

Posted by: alphie at May 30, 2007 06:06 PM

Ten Things to Think When Thinking of Muslim "Moderates"
http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/004034.php

i know, i know, jihadwatch. but i gotta tell you a secret: they know just a little bit more about islam than the economist, wikipedia and amnesty international. and they are much harder to counter, which is why they are labeled to avoid countering them.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 30, 2007 06:36 PM

Alphie, I often disagree with fp. The main difference between you two is that I can have a rational argument with him and not you.

You don't take the subject matter seriously and you are very poorly informed. It gets on my nerves and just about everyone else's. I am close to showing you the door not because you have committed any bannable offenses per se but because you degrade the overall level of conversation.

My advice to you, if you don't want to be banned, is for you to post far less frequently and make the posts you do publish count. Otherwise, I'm going to pull the plug.

I don't mean to be a jerk about it, but you generate a lot of complaints and I agree with nearly all of them.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 30, 2007 06:36 PM

No, I am saying that the conflict in Darfur is the result of a fight for diminishing water resources and has almost nothing to do with Islamism. And I'm repeatedly asking for the specific reasons that people think it tied to the political movement.

Here are some: the Jamestown foundation global terrorism Analysis, which explores the Islamist and the land-use causes of the conflict

Terrorism and Violence in the Sudan: The Islamist Manipulation of Darfur

Sudan's OsamaThe Islamist roots of the Darfur genocide by Lee Smith

Simon Deng, former slave - "The scale of our losses has been enormous in the two genocides perpetrated by the Islamists - two, not one."

Amnesty International Darfur: Rape as a weapon of war: sexual violence and its consequences

Posted by: mary at May 30, 2007 07:33 PM

mary,

even if the conflict is over water -- and i dk enough about the subject to opine on it -- how the conflict is handled (genocide) is certainly an arab/islamist characteristic. it is not by chance that those conducting the genocide are the arab islamists.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 30, 2007 08:06 PM

I don't know much about Darfur either, so I appreciate reading an argument between two people who both know more about it than I do.

Please carry on, and be nice.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 30, 2007 08:17 PM

since this thread started with a piece on ramamdan and since jihadwatch has been dismissed here and elsewhere, let me comment on the relationship between the two, because there is an important one.

the reason ramadan has been so effective in persuading infidels of his moderation is that the vast majority of infidels know zilch about islam, so they can be fooled and manipulated. that's what islamists count on.

infidels like robert spencer pose a serious problem, because they have a thorough knowledge of islam and tradition and they can easily defeat any attempt at obfuscation, distraction, eschivation, etc. therefore they have to be labeled islamophobes and marginalized, because it is practically impossible to counter them.

anybody with half a brain who has spent some amount of time reading spencer cannot help but realize the absurdity of the label and the vast knowledge and understanding that frustrates the hell of the islamists, or ignorant morons like d'Souza. none of his detractors to date has been able to refute his arguments rationally.

so for all those here who jihadwatch is a frustrating inconvenience i say PROVE that he is an islamophobe, and that he is wrong with evidence and logic. labeling him just reveals more about you than about him.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 30, 2007 08:20 PM

islam is like any other religion, right?

stop adult breastfeeding fatwas and go back to drinking the prophet's urine

http://www.dailystaregypt.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=7439

this one made my day

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 30, 2007 09:03 PM

here's a berman article on Quttb:

http://members.cox.net/slsturgi3/PhilosopherOfIslamicTerror.htm

i have my opinion on it, but i wonder what others think.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 30, 2007 09:45 PM

Imaam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab was born in and lived in eighteenth century Arabia (1703-1792), and promulgated the idea that Islam had fallen away from its seventh century roots, the Edenic era when Muhammed and the Four Great Caliphs (Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali) succeeded each other, and needed to return to them. This involved a Puritanical purging of all non-Muslim influences, the return of draconian enforcement of religious edicts against infidels, and the toughening of restrictions upon women. Wahhabism subsequently spread throughout most of the Arabian Peninsula and gained significant footholds beyond, but concentrated itself primarily upon the peninsula itself, as the defender of the purity of the faith in Muhammed's birth land, the Land of the Two Mosques. In the early 20th century, the House of Saud brokered a deal with the Wahhabists, and Saudi Arabia was born.

Sayyid Qutb was a Wahhabist born in Egypt (1906-1966). He traveled to the US, and sojourned there between 1948 and 1950. This experience shocked and disgusted him. He was horrified by the presence of uppity and voting women, freedom of religion and thought, widespread substance use (alcohol, caffeine and nicotine?) and rampant sexual licentiousness. He then put forth the idea that the US was the fount of Jahiliyya (a word roughly translatable as pre-Musim Paganism), and, as such, was a danger to Islam and must be forcibly subjected to Shari'a rule. He did not view the US as a military threat, since he believed that life in such a dissipative culture had weakened and softened its citizenry, but rather contended that its various freedoms and vices were slatternly temptations that could seduce the faithful away from the true path. Thus, for the good of both the faith and of all humankind, the US as it was must be destroyed, and Muslim piousness enforced there. He later generalized this view to include, first European, and later all non-Muslim societies.

Notice that, without Qutb, Wahhabism would have remained directed inwards, and without Wahhabism, Qutb would not have had a pious and puritanical Islam with which to compare and contrast the US culture that he encountered. Together, their contributions combine to create the present Al Qaedan stance that the entire globe must be subjugated to a religious regimen that consciously holds itself in the seventh century. Interestingly enough, the head of Al Qaeda, Usama Bin Laden, came from Saudi Arabia (like Wahhab), while Al Qaeda's chief ideologue, Zawahiri, came from Egypt (like Qutb).

Posted by: Salamantis at May 30, 2007 11:28 PM

[...] Now, I'm not saying that all Muslims, or even a majority of them, are inexorably drawn from live-and-let-live tolerance to Mujaheddin Jihadism in the service of the annihilation of the Dar el Harb and the establishment of the Global Caliphate (Daniel Pipes estimates the number at around 15%), [...]

If that estimate is accurate, 15% of the billion or so muslims on this planet is 150,000,000 people.

Killing even a tenth of that number- even violent jihadi types- is likely to result in a substantial proportion of the rest going militant radical.

We are in for a long and very ugly war.

Posted by: rosignol at May 31, 2007 12:47 AM

The Kurds are Muslims

Not true.

The Kurds, like many others in the Islamic Empire, are "Moranos" or "Conversos", enslaved prisoners of the arab Jihadi empire. I might have already made this argument at your blog, Michael, but if not, here it is again. The basic argument, to effectively deal with Islamism is to promote the splintering of the Islamist empires/ sub empires (See: Iraq, Iran, Syria, etc) into their true ethnic entities. Islamism, like Christianity, Communism, Nazism, and other expansionist ideologies, is a tool of empire. To defeat Islamism, we need to promote true ethnic nationalism. But here we face two enemies who have joined forces. The liberal leftist transnationals (See: Communists/Socialists) and the Islamists.

Posted by: redaktor at May 31, 2007 05:33 AM
Mary, your very first link confirms what I was saying:
Ecological pressures began to force the nomadic Zaghawa and the northern Arab tribes into the territory of the Fur, the pre-colonial rulers of the region. Attempts to settle there were opposed by the Fur and fighting broke out after which the army focused its efforts on punishing the non-Arab Zaghawa.
...and...
While the conflict in Darfur has its ethnic and political dimensions, it is largely sparked by the loss of nomadic pasture-lands to desertification or absorption into fenced-off farmland. The conflict also revolves around the traditional marginalization of Darfur, which is poorly represented in the central government and receives little development assistance.
Did you not read them before linking to them? Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 31, 2007 07:07 AM
From your second link, Mary:
While oil has been discovered in parts of the country, including Darfur, Sudan's limited natural resources, water among them, have perennially exacerbated serious structural flaws in the political system.
Your third link is regarding the second Sudanese civil war, not the Darfur conflict, and your last has nothing to do with the cause of the conflict. Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 31, 2007 07:13 AM

Nice bit of dissimulation, DPU. Apply that warped deconstruction and the Israel/Palistan conflict also becomes a conflict about water and farmland. In fact, every territorial conflict in history becomes a conflict over water and farmland.

Posted by: redaktor at May 31, 2007 08:00 AM

Did you not read them before linking to them?

dpu, did you not read my intro to the links, saying that "the Jamestown foundation global terrorism Analysis...explores the Islamist and the land-use causes of the conflict"?

You chose to see only the paragraphs you wanted to see, ignoring this..

The United States has made some strange alliances in the War on Terrorism, but none odder than its growing relationship with the ruling Islamists of Sudan. Once eager hosts of Osama bin Laden, Sudan’s Islamist movement has since split, with the two factions now fighting a proxy war in Darfur.

and this..

The conflict also revolves around the traditional marginalization of Darfur, which is poorly represented in the central government and receives little development assistance. To complicate the issue, Darfur has also become a battleground in the ever-shifting web of political rivalries of Khartoum’s Islamists, bent on exploiting Sudan’s Arab/African identity crisis.

more about that 'identity crisis' is provided by the fourth link here:

in Darfur, interdependent relations and exchanges between nomads and sedentary groups(38) took place along a seasonal cycle of search for grazing areas on farmed land for the large herds of the nomadic population. Tensions and clashes between groups have increased in a context of desertification and consequent reduction in grazing areas and increased farming of land. In the context of the conflict, these tensions are now taking an ethnic and racial dimension. ..The entrenchment of differences between groups is partly due to the manipulation of race and ethnicity by all sides to the conflict in Darfur. However, it is important to note that groups in Darfur do not always fit the labels (Arabs and Africans or Blacks(39)) commonly used in this conflict: for instance, the Tama, a small ethnic group mainly composed of farmers, have been both victims of attacks and accused several times of siding with the Janjawid in the 2003-2004 conflict.

[quotes] "Slaves! Nubas! Do you have a god? Break the Ramadan! Even we with pale skins don't observe the Ramadan. You, ugly black pretend… We are your god! Your god is Omer al-Bashir"

"The village was attacked during the night in October 2003, when the Arabs came by cars and on horses. They said "every black woman must be killed, even the children".

The allegations of recruitment of members of foreign nomadic groups, mainly from Chad, to fight alongside the Janjawid further add to the ethnic and racial dimension of the conflict. Ahmad Allami, the personal advisor of Chadian President Idriss Deby, accused the Janjawid of recruiting 'Arabic elements' from Chad(40); his allegations echo those of the Sudanese refugees interviewed by Amnesty International in Chad, who alleged that Salamat nomads from Chad and fighters from Mauritania were recruited to fight in Darfur.

"What we heard from the Janjawid is that Omer al-Bashir tells the foreigners that they are Arabs and that they should come and live in a country that is ruled by Arabs. That they should not stay where they are ruled by Africans. They say that Sudan is a country for Arabs." M., Sudanese refugee in Chad, interviewed by Amnesty International in May 2004.

They are not just fighting over water. Racisim and 'purity' are an important part of this conflict. Also, they're importing 'foreign fighters'. This is how Islamists fight their wars.

Islamism and Arab nationalism have a definite influence on this conflict. It's hardly a coincidence that Ramandan's Islamism has a similar influence around the world.

Posted by: mary at May 31, 2007 08:53 AM

I read most of the article, Mike. It's very long, so I skimmed passages and tried to select out the core reasoning. It discusses Ramadan's rise, his roots and Al-Banna, Buruma's ultimately approving review of Ramadan, Ramadan's complicated positioning regarding Islam's weaknesses vs. Palestine/Israel and re women, and finally divulges into, in my opinion, not-really-related issues about intimidation in the European media.

In my read, Berman ultimately endorses Ramadan, even while trying to take a harder line on him than Buruma. And he's right to do so. Ramadan is vehemently critical of U.S. and Western political policies. And that's a right we give him and other citizens. He believes in a conservative Islamic values, like many other Muslims we share a world with. He's clearly interested and actively working to break the link between political Islam and some of its specifically unacceptable practices, like the stoning of women. He's working to avoid mass conflict between European Muslims and European non-Muslims. That's absolutely a good thing, and while that doesn't make him above criticism, it should make him accepted and encouraged despite that criticism.

I ultimately wasn't impressed with the places where Berman comes close to condemning Ramadan most directly, the clear example is the Sarkozy-Ramadan debate. Both people are against the stoning of women, but Sarkozy isn't happy with Ramadan's formulation of a "moratorium". He uses the moment to score cheap political points with the message, "even the Muslims who want a moratorium on stoning are savages."

Sarkozy did this because he wants to win an election by playing on fears and prejuidices. Fine. But he represents a typical right-wing interest in scorning, dismissing, and if possible destroying people like Ramadan who are making relative progress. Ramadan wants to speak for European Muslims and is against the stoning of women, and Berman's quote demonstrates that. If he was to be, for example, banned from this forum, or denied a visa, or silenced, or publicly humiliated and rejected, - purity trolls who would do that are working in the interests of Osama Bin Laden. When you cut down the people trying to bridge the gap, you ensure that the gap remains. You ensure violent confrontation and needless destruction.

Like some people briefly attempted to point out in the previous thread, Israel's actions under Ariel Sharon, and even before that, have often made that same mistake of killing off the relative moderates.

Whatever Al-Banna's original legacy might have been if analyzed by computer, Ramadan presents it as an Islam open to democracy and modernization. Whether or not he's gone far enough in every policy aspect can be debated in fifty years. What's more important is the message he's sending, the basic message, that Islam is open to democracy and modernization, and the people he's sending it to. Ramadan deserves the laurels he's been given. He is one of the seeds you like to promote on here, Mike. That's my view.

The tail end of Berman's article is the most unconvincing and wrongheaded part to me. I don't believe that the media discussion in Europe has been intimidated by Islamic violence, and Berman's reasoning there rests on innuendo and association.

I welcome your response. You have yet to put forward your own views. Eh?

Posted by: glasnost at May 31, 2007 09:04 AM

Islamism and Arab nationalism have a definite influence on this conflict.

Sudan is an avowedly Islamic dictatorship, Mary, so it's inevitable that the conflict plays out in the language of Islamism - that Islamism "influences" the conflict.

What DPU is arguing is that Islam and/or Islamism is not fundamental to the conflict, but that resource issues and a dysfunctional internal method of compensating for them made violence of some form unavoidable. You're arguing that it is, in fact, fundamental.

I doubt it, but either way, you don't prove your point by simply documenting linkages between Islamism and the conflict. You'd have to prove that if you removed those linkages, the conflict would not have occured.

Ethiopia/Eritrea is a good example of a recent resource war not related by Islamism. So is Liberia. Studying the surrounding environment suggests that Islamism is not a necessary element of these wars, but resource conflict is.

Posted by: glasnost at May 31, 2007 09:09 AM

glasnost,

i don't think you're gonna be banned for this :).

i have a similar impression of berman's article: too long, quite boring, and in places as slippery as what ramadan is claimed to be.

have you given any thought in your analysis of da'wa and taqiyya, which are an important in islam? if so, should one be careful when accepting what ramadan says at face value? does it make any difference that he says different things to non-muslim and muslim audiences?

he claims, in the case of stoning, that he proposed a moratorium in order to be effective in changing muslim's minds. is that, you think, honest and will it achieve such change?

but ultimately the question is this: does he want to apply an albeit modified sharia to the west so that there will be no conflict, or does he want the western muslims to give up sharia? i have enough reason to think the latter, which for me is the clincher.

let me point out to you that one cannot judge such issues without having a good grasp of islam and its tradition. i used to analyze reality the same way you do, until i started educating myself about islam and its proponents. and then my perspective changed.

i suggest you do the same and see what happens.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 09:27 AM

glasnost,

as i stated earlier, islamism may not be fundamental to CREATE the conflict, but to HOW IT IS HANDLED.

if there is something islamism is good at is at conflicts.

and you give DUP too much credit.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 09:30 AM

oops, in my ramadan answer to glasnost i meant "i have every reason to think the former", NOT the latter, of course.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 09:34 AM
They are not just fighting over water.
I never said that it was JUST about that Mary, I said that it was the root cause. Again, from a source that YOU linked to:
While the conflict in Darfur has its ethnic and political dimensions, it is largely sparked by the loss of nomadic pasture-lands to desertification or absorption into fenced-off farmland.
And none of the text that you quote refutes that. Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 31, 2007 09:35 AM

And what glasnost says, exactly.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 31, 2007 09:39 AM

I doubt it, but either way, you don't prove your point by simply documenting linkages between Islamism and the conflict. You'd have to prove that if you removed those linkages, the conflict would not have occured.

Is that all I have to do, or should I balance a few spinning plates on my nose at the same time?

Actually, all I have to prove is that the form of government that Islamists like Ramadan support is one of the most brutal forms of government on the planet. As examples, I offer the governments of Saudi Arabia, Iran and slaveholding genocidal states like the Sudan.

As for whether we should support Ramadan, we shouldn't let fear of the immoderately evil force us to embrace the relatively moderate evil that Ramadan represents. That sort of solution didn't work with Arafat and it won't work now.

For some perspective, pretend that it's 1996. At that time, could you ever, in your wildest dreams, imagine that you'd be happily endorsing an activist because they're kind of in favor of a "moratorium" against stoning women? Would you have voted for Pat Buchanan on that platform?

Ramadan represents a form of legalized brutality that was, in those good old days, mostly unknown and unimaginable.

Posted by: mary at May 31, 2007 10:05 AM

Well, my limited delving into the Darfur conflict reveals that it is enormously complex, and that no one who has commented on it so far (myself included) is terribly knowledgeable. The region is remote, empirical studies are scant, and the society is fragmented in so many different directions that even the scholars admit large areas of ignorance.

That being said, the claim that it is primarily over water resources seems underinclusive. The conflict can be identified as roughly between African Sudanese, and certain localized Bedouin Arab tribes (janjaweed), particularly those who were politicized by their association with Khaddafi and his pan-Arab military projects in the seventies and eighties (Khaddafi envisioned sub-Saharan Africa as an area of Arab domination, and started a war with Chad over it). These indoctrinated Arab groups saw themselves as superior to the Africans, and are in constant competition with them over government/military positions, etc. They also seem to view Darfur as an Arab homeland.

So, although the conflict is obscured by opportunism, constantly shifting alliances, and a million other factors, there is a strong ideological component, though it seems more racist than Islamist.

Whether it's more about resources or more about ideology seems not a very interesting question.

Trivia question of the day. What are the three Bedouin countries in the Arab world?

Answer: Libya, Mauritania, and Saudi Arabia.

Posted by: MarkC at May 31, 2007 10:08 AM

As a final comment, posters who want to relate the Darfur massacres to the wickedness of the Islamic government of Sudan are off the mark. The government doesn't give a damn about Darfur. It's like it's not part of the country. The reason the government armed the janjaweed militias seems to boil down to little more than that highly placed people in the military had tribal affiliations with them.

Posted by: MarkC at May 31, 2007 10:26 AM

islamists dont give a damn about anything but the imposition of sharia law on everything in sight.

i have not seen any evidence that what's going on there imposing sharia law, and if so, islamism is not an issue in the conflict.

but if some of the actors are islamists, their culture probably does affect their behavior.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 10:37 AM

Actually, all I have to prove is that the form of government that Islamists like Ramadan support is one of the most brutal forms of government on the planet. As examples, I offer the governments of Saudi Arabia, Iran and slaveholding genocidal states like the Sudan.

I'd have to break this statement of yours down into chunks, Mary, but let's start by not trying to argue Ramadan and Darfur at the same time.

Your position, as I understand it, is that Islamism caused Darfur. If you want to demonstrate that, you need to offer some kind of evidence. If your position is not that Islamism caused Darfur, we can consider that claim retracted.

If you're claiming that the Islamists in Sudan are brutal people, generally... I agree. I imagine DPU does to. So there is no argument.

As for Ramadan, I doubt that he endorses the Sudanese government, and I'm 100% sure he doesn't endorse what's happening in Darfur. Your statements to the contrary indicate, to me, that you didn't read the Berman article, which is the announced topic of the thread. If you do claim to have read it, please explain where you get the idea that Ramadan supports the Sudanese government or its actions in Darfur. It seems to contradict the plain reading of Ramadan's statements, and I find no supporting statements in the text. Evidence, please.

Posted by: glasnost at May 31, 2007 01:53 PM

glasnost,

i challenged you directly on the ramadan article -- which, as you say, IS the subject of this thread, but i have not seen any response.

is it because mary's arguments were easier to counter?

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 02:06 PM

I also doubt very much that Ramadan supports genocide in Darfur.

Berman is essentially correct in his criticisms of Ramadan and the bit of whitewash he gets in the press, but let's not unfairly conflate the man with genocidal maniacs.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 31, 2007 03:14 PM

glasnost - I read most of the article. It's very long, so I skimmed passages and tried to select out the core reasoning.

I know, I'm a slacker too. In any case, according to Daniel Pipes, "Tariq Ramadan has praised the brutal Islamist policies of the Sudanese politician Hassan Al-Turabi. Mr. Turabi in turn called Mr. Ramadan the “future of Islam.”

Scott Martens at Fistful of Euros disagrees with Pipes in general, (because, as he openly admits, he believes that "Pipes is swine") but he does have to admit that on the subject of Ramadan, Pipes was partially right. He says:

I have not been able to find out what Ramadan actually said about al-Turabi. I have found a reference to him quoting something Turabi once said in a positive light. Nor have I found where Turabi said such nice things about Ramadan, although it is in line with what I have read of him.

Martens then goes on to spin al-Turabi's history with a skill that matches Ramadan's, concluding that:

These are not all positions that are compatible with the western conception of religion and the state. They are certainly not my positions. But, they are hardly radical “Death to the West” Islamicism. Al-Turabi is a politician. Perhaps he says other things at different times. I am not trying to defend him as a saint. Still, this leads me to suspect that he is not quite so one-sided a figure.

Again, ten years ago, could you ever imagine that toherwise reasonable people would be defending the al-Turabis of the world?

The root cause of the genocide in Darfur is found in the history of the conflict in the Sudan, the conflict that has claimed millions of lives. I'm not sure why you and DPU are insisting that we focus solely on Darfur, ignoring those millions dead due to the politics of Islamists.

Posted by: mary at May 31, 2007 03:51 PM

Give me a break, Mary. Your own source is a repudiation of your own argument. Martens goes on to flay Daniel Pipes's accusations against Ramadan item by item as hearsay and invention, and even if he hadn't the charges are all along the lines of guilt by association. Donald Rumsfeld shook hands with Saddamn Hussein in 1985, so is he a secret Baathist? Come back when you have something against Ramadan's recorded speeches or actions themselves, not this rumor-mongering rubbish.

I'm aware of Al-Turabi. He's a more controversial figure than Ramadan by quite a ways, with a clearer record of double-talk and some genuine cooperation with nasty people in Sudan. On the other hand, as Martens points out, he's been rotting in Sudanese prisons for most of the past decade, so he's not exactly a lockstep supporter of what's his name, the top general in Sudan. In any event, while there may be quite a bit of material to judge Al-Turabi on, attempting to convict Ramadan because "he once quoted something Al-Turabi said in a positive light" is pretty ridiculous. You could convict a lot of red-blooded Americans as terrorist supporters under that kind of criteria.

FP, your questions are ok, but I didn't have a pre-formulated answer to them, so I walked past them, because a carefully thought-out answer seemed like too much work. Sorry. Nobody pays me to be here.

Posted by: glasnost at May 31, 2007 04:15 PM

briefly, fp, and in order, First topic: Yes, I don't think they apply here, and same as above.
Second topic: I don't know, but I agree in principle that sometimes you have to present different goals in different contexts to different audiences. That's politics. There is a line between that and between a hidden agenda, I don't know where the line is enough to generally outline, and I don't think Ramadan is over it.
Third Topic, I don't know which of the two Ramadan supports, it probably depends on at what point "sharia" is no longer "sharia". I don't think Ramadan is advocating a kind of sharia that advocates or promotes violence. That's what matters to me.

Posted by: glasnost at May 31, 2007 04:22 PM

I'm not sure why you and DPU are insisting that we focus solely on Darfur, ignoring those millions dead due to the politics of Islamists.

< blinks >

Because that was the topic being discussed. If you want to talk about something else, go right ahead.

Sheesh.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 31, 2007 04:24 PM

Your own source is a repudiation of your own argument. Martens goes on to flay Daniel Pipes's accusations against Ramadan item by item as hearsay and invention..

I don't agree with that, but then again I don't agree that Pipes is 'swine'.

I don't think Ramadan is advocating a kind of sharia that advocates or promotes violence.

Do you know what kind of sharia advocates or promotes violence?

Posted by: mary at May 31, 2007 04:33 PM

glasnost,

just out of curiosity: how much do you know about islam, islamism, sharia, al-banna, quttb, the brotherhood, etc?

it seems to me that a vast majority of the westerners who opine on the subject know close to zilch about these, and even if they are familiar with names and some facts, they don't UNDERSTAND it. they project western notions on these which, to the informed, seems absurd.

the reason ramadan is so effective in europe is precisely because europeans are ignorant. i would love to see ramadan interviewed not by berman, or buruma, but by robert spencer, or some of the islam apostates.

i found the reaction by berman to how ramadan responded to sarkozy quite revealing: he did not expect the direct question and "he did not have a pre-formulated reply". precisely!!!!

your initial reaction to my question is similar. you were not prepared for questions about islam, because you were not thinking in those terms.

and given the subject, you should.

(incidentally, i also bowed out of responding to some of your comments elsewhere because it would be too tedious). i am not compensated either.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 04:40 PM

mary,

anybody who calls pipes a swine is disqualified, in my book, from any further engagement with. the combination of declaring things without any evidence and claiming that it's to tedious to address criticism is yet another indication of not being worth bothering with.

it seems we're talking ideology here, not analysis.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 04:46 PM

what ramadan thinks on darfur is not particular relevant to the issue at hand, although it would be nice to know he is against it.

ramadan should be engaged by those who know and understand in depth islam and islamism. I am willing to bet that he won't come out as easily as he does from berman, buruma and sarkozy.

without that it's like grinding water.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 04:50 PM

fp, you should read more from Berman before saying he doesn't understand Islam and Islamism.

His book Terror and Liberalism is a masterful portrait of Sayyid Qutb and his ideology.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 31, 2007 04:53 PM

Don't take my word for it, fp.

Read it yourself.

Here is the Publisher's Weekly description:

Berman puts his leftist credentials (he's a member of the editorial board of Dissent) on the line by critiquing the left while presenting a liberal rationale for the war on terror, joining a discourse that has been dominated by conservatives. The most original aspect of his analysis is to categorize Islamism as a totalitarian reaction against Western liberalism in a class with Nazism and communism; drawing on the ideas of Camus in The Rebel, Berman delineates how all three movements descended from utopian visions (in the case of Islamism, the restoration of a pure seventh-century Islam) into irrational cults of death. He illustrates this progression through a nuanced analysis of the writings of a leading Islamist thinker, Sayyid Qutb, ending with some chilling quotations from other Islamists, e.g., "History does not write its lines except with blood," the blood being that of Islam's martyrs (such as suicide bombers) as well as of their enemies, Zionists and Crusaders (i.e., Jews and Christians). Berman then launches into his most provocative chapter, and the one he will probably be most criticized for in politically correct journals: a scathing attack on leftist intellectuals, such as Noam Chomsky, who have applauded terrorism and tried to explain it as a rational response to oppression. Berman exhorts readers to accept that, on the contrary, Islamism is a "pathological mass political movement" that is "drunk on the idea of slaughter." A former MacArthur fellow and a contributing editor to the New Republic, Berman offers an argument that will be welcomed by disaffected progressives looking for a new analysis of today's world.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 31, 2007 04:57 PM

i HAVE read more of his stuff, including a piece on Quttb. I was not impressed.

for a leftist, he seems to be to impressed by religious arguments, the divine and sacred etc.
I don't find him a good writer either. somewhat equivocating.

be that as it may, that is not the issue. the issue is his background in islam. he is not ignorant, but imo he does not know enough to asses islamists from the correct perspective, too projective.

but i have his book on reserve and tomorrow i'll pick it up and give it a try.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 06:00 PM

i did not say he does not understand, period.

i said he does not know enough and does not have the level of understanding that an islam scholar has to figure out ramadan and his ilk.

and i don't mean karen armstrong.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 06:03 PM

otoh, i don't think it takes much to figure out that islamism is utopian and, like all utopias, goals justify the means, including violence.
the similarity to soviet communism and nazi fascism also derives from that.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 06:06 PM

In Nazism and Communism, their this-world goals were ends in themselves. In Islamism, however, their this-world goal (the elimination of the infidel Dar-el-Harb and the establishment of a global caliphate Dar-el-Islam ummah) is not an end in itself, but a means to their next-world end of eternal joy in Paradise. The messianic Christianists, for instance the Christian reconstructionists, can relate to that, too.

They do not fight for the proletarian worker or for blood and soil, but for their eternal souls' salvation in a transcendent Utopic Hereafter, in the abiding presence of their Deities.

Posted by: Salamantis at May 31, 2007 06:23 PM

Difference without a distinction.

Utopias usually end up in mass murder. Having lived for 13 years in one of the worst such utopias in the soviet block, trust me, where it counts it makes not much difference. And I am sure the 6 million jews who died in the holocaust would agree.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 06:37 PM

On the contrary; I think that people who make war for an Ultimate Reason are more likely to be totally committed to their task, and more willing to sacrifice themselves - and innocent others - in its service, which makes them more dangerous and deadly, and more difficult to defeat.

Posted by: Salamantis at May 31, 2007 06:53 PM

His book Terror and Liberalism is a masterful portrait of Sayyid Qutb and his ideology.

His article on Qutb in the New York times (The Philosopher of Islamic Terror) convinced a lot of left-leaning New Yorkers that Islamism was a threat.

Despite the fact that Pipes is right about a lot of things, there's no way he could have that kind of influence on NYT readers.

But as far as Ramadan and his ilk are concerned, they should be engaged by those who can condemn them based on crimes committted by the terror-supporting multinational underground economy that is the Muslim Brotherhood.

Posted by: mary at May 31, 2007 08:03 PM

mary,

if he convinced any lefties, more power to him.

but instead of a book or long articles on the philosophy, i would urge those who want to be convinced to watch MEMRI TV or Palestinian Media Watch, or the films taped inside mosques in europe and the us, etc. much more vivid and easier to understand.

except that most lefties blind themselves to it.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 08:33 PM

Let me be clear about my disagreement with Tariq Ramadan as he is presented by Paul Berman; I see him as attempting to negotiate a compromise between civil and ecclesiastical rule. I do not see such a compromise as feasible. John C. Calhoun, a son of the antebellum South, once suggested a plural American Presidency, with something like that idea in mind, except that, instead of being split between the secular and the religious, it would have been split between pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions. It wasn't workable then, and Ramadan's religious/secular version of it it isn't workable now. Besides, considering his personal history and public pronouncements, I question on which side of the secular-sharia divide his loyalties ultimately lie. That is, for me, enough to view him with scepticism and suspicion.

Posted by: Salamantis at May 31, 2007 09:38 PM

Do you know what kind of sharia advocates or promotes violence?

I have no guarantees and no monopoly on insight. I simply call them as I see them. That's my honest judgement. If you're calling on me to retract it, I won't. Meanwhile, you seem pretty convinced that you're qualified to judge that Ramadan is, in fact, promoting or advocating violence. It's your claim. Why don't you try producing some evidence - something better than, Daniel Pipes once asserted without quotes that Ramadan once agreed with al-Turabi on some unspecified subject?

just out of curiosity: how much do you know about islam, islamism, sharia, al-banna, quttb, the brotherhood, etc?

I do a lot of reading on the subject from many kinds of sources, not limited to blogs. I don't know how to give you a precise measurement on the subject. All things considered, I don't rule out arguments based on the 'credentials' of the person making the argument, anymore than I believe in banning commenters. If you don't agree with something I said, I encourage you to specify what you disagree with, and provide evidence to the contrary. Don't brush me aside with a blanket dismissal based on logic like 'that guy doesn't really know Islamism'. That kind of statement doesn't count for anything unless you can demonstrate what you supposedly know and I don't.

and even if they are familiar with names and some facts, they don't UNDERSTAND it. they project western notions on these which, to the informed, seems absurd.

I tend to feel the exact opposite of you - that people who claim they understand Islamism and the other guy really doesn't are themselves the ones to be judged with suspicion. "Western" notions is just a euphemism for axioms of human behavior that often apply to human beings of all kinds, period. And frankly, any notion or axiom you want to apply to Islam or Islamists, is probably also applicable to Western societies in some way or another. Just a question of when, where, and how much.

Posted by: glasnost at May 31, 2007 10:04 PM

sal,

exactly right -- that was my point to.

the question one must ask is this: why should europeans who accepted immigrants that voluntarily came to live there compromise their system with the one of the immigrants at all, particularly since a lot of that involves atrocious 7th century practices? if the muslims want to live under sharia, why did they come to europe?

the answer that we seem to get is "to avoid conflict". iow, either compromise your system or there will be violence. that sounds like blackmail to me.

and seeing what the muslims want and seem to be creepingly imposing on europe (in several countries, part. sweden, the natives feel outsiders in their own countries), it is clear that any compromise achieved will be interpreted as weakness and invite further pressure. ramadan may convince wishfully thinking europeans, but not the islamists who are making inroads already and express their contempt of western society's weaknesses.

the europeans brought it on themselves, of course. and that's exactly why it's clear that the US must not make the same mistake.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 10:21 PM

alphie said:

In this interview with the BBC, done shortly after 9/11, Rafik Hariri stated he did not consider Hezbollah or any Palestinian group opposed to Israel as "terrorists" and refused to cooperate with the U.S. in any actions against them:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article8295.htm

Alphie's not always polite, Mike, but this is a classic example of him bringing excellent information to the blog that no one else would bring, and it completely fails to be acknowledged by anyone here. There can't be any dispute about the source - Hariri is on tape.

On a personal level, I sympathize with Hariri's dilemma as caught on this tape. It may be the same kind of dilemma that Ramadan faces, to one extent or another. But, in 2001, it's clear that Hariri doesn't consider Hizabllah or Hamas as terrorists and wants the US conflict with these organizations to be concluded without bloodshed.

This, of course, doesn't make you wrong about Hariri, Mike, insofar as Hariri didn't deserve to be assassinated by Syria. I don't condemn any Lebanese figure for being unwilling to rush off to a crusade. However, I think in the aftermath of his cruel assassination, Hariri has been whitewashed by a lot of people. I sure haven't seen any coverage of this side of Hariri's POV on your site, or most other neo-cons. Certainly, Hariri's statements here would be the opposite of the attitude a lot of people on your site constantly demand of any and all Arab/moderate public figures. I don't necessarily agree with those demands, but it should be exposed that Hariri is shown here, by those standards, as not measuring up. To put it another way, Hariri goes further in defending Hamas/Hizballah than I have ever heard Ramadan quoted as going.

I think this video possibly also strengthens the argument that Hariri was coordinating his political positions with Saudi Arabia. That doesn't make it okay that Syria bombed him either - he was a Lebanese politician and he's not obligated to disagree with anyone, including Saudi Arabia.

Anyway, however you feel about Hariri, there's no arguing with the fact that Alphie's link here is an unimpeachable source and adds real, underappreciated info to a picture of Hariri.

Posted by: glasnost at May 31, 2007 10:22 PM

Glasnost,

Hariri was allowed to be prime minister only so long as he followed the Syrian line. He had no choice but to say what he said when he said it unless he wanted to end up at the very top of Syria's hit list.

He finally cracked and told the Syrians to go fuck themselves and they killed him.

Do not take everything these people say seriously, especially during the time the Syrian Baath was their master.

Today Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Seniora said the tribunal "is not against sister Syria." Do you think he beleives that? I know he does not.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 31, 2007 10:29 PM

Middle Eastern people often say things under duress. Sometimes they are under duress from the West, sometimes from secular tyrants, other times from Islamists. You always have to remember that. Figuring out what people really believe is at times very difficult. The key is to take into account who pressures the speaker and how much pressure that person or group has.

Sometimes Middle Easterners who say horrible things are actually decent people under pressure from horrible people.

Sometimes Middle Easterners who say nice things are horrible people under pressure from the West and human rights organizations.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 31, 2007 10:33 PM

Michael wrote:

Sometimes Middle Easterners who say horrible things are actually decent people under pressure from horrible people.

Sometimes Middle Easterners who say nice things are horrible people under pressure from the West and human rights organizations.
__________________________________________________

Both of these statements are regrettably true, which is why it is important to consider not only peoples' pronouncements, but also their situations and circumstances, before making any judgments concerning the sympathies residing within their innermost hearts.

Posted by: Salamantis at May 31, 2007 10:45 PM

glasnost,

it would be nice if we had the time to develop lectures here and provides all the facts etc. this is not the forum for educating one another, but rather to express opinions, hopefully informed.

but i find it quite galling that you (1) declare things without evidence (2) when you're challenged, you say it would be too taxing to formulate an answer (3) then turn around and ask of others to provide evidence for everything they say, the very thing you did not have time to do.

if you call them as you see them, what makes you think that i don't? the fact that you disagree? please.

you are validating my point about projection. whatever one's culture is, there is a tendency to assume it's universal. some things are, some are not. ignoring the latter can result in serious errors and we pay the price for them in iraq, iran, afghanistan and palestine, even lebanon.

if you read my comments in threads here you can see some of the things i know about ME cultures/religions. these are things that i learned from various sources and they help me interpret events much better than when i did not know them. that's why i am conscious of insufficient knowledge. i do not see these aspects raised when appropriate here, which indicates to me that quite a few dk them.

but there are people who are experts on the subject (which I am not) and i would respect their judgments much more than those who are not. berman's analysis of quttb and ramadan are fine, but i prefer to rely much more on those experts than on berman. that's all.

btw, your attitude towards pipes doesn't inspire confidence in your knowledge and judgment.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 10:46 PM

Let me be clear about my disagreement with Tariq Ramadan as he is presented by Paul Berman; I see him as attempting to negotiate a compromise between civil and ecclesiastical rule. I do not see such a compromise as feasible.

Come on, Salamantis. Religion competes with the state for loyalty and influence on individual behavior in the West, just like is does with Ramadan. That's why you have religious folk refusing to fill birth control prescriptions. Different scale, same conflict. Of course some compromise is possible between the commandments of religion and the laws of the state: that's clear from every country that contains religious individuals and national laws. Compromise is obviously possible: history overflows with examples, including Islamic history. Start with the Ottomans and the Savafids.

If the argument is that Islam is the only religion where these compromises are impossible, than you're left with Josh Scholar's argument that Islam is destined to be abandoned as a religion and dissapear from the earth, or else that Islamic adherents are going to be exterminated. These are both wildly unlikely arguments.

Furthermore, it doesn't matter - shouldn't matter - to you if you don't like what your best guess as to Ramadan's compromise should be. The point is that it's meaningfully different from the arguments of our genuine enemies and genuine threats to our way of life. It's fundamentally against violence, and without violence, Islamism is not a threat to the world. It becomes just one lifestyle trend of many.

If you fail to support those trying to create compromises, the lack of support will destroy their projects, and you will be left with implacable, violent standoffs between the extremists and the West. Which is exactly what the extremists want. Don't help them.

Posted by: glasnost at May 31, 2007 10:50 PM

anybody who takes statements from the ME at face value does not know the ME.

all the same, when statements are made to appease and not because they are meant they invite what appeasement invites. dual edge sword.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 10:52 PM

I take your admonition to heart, fp; I have studied these issues incessantly for several years now, and have posted lengthy 'lectures' here in the past concerning what I have figured out, but I will resist doing so again.

Posted by: Salamantis at May 31, 2007 10:53 PM

glasnost,

are you aware of ANY reasons why islam may not compromise with secular state in distinction from other religions?

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at May 31, 2007 10:55 PM

glasnost, I think that it would be foolish to deny that religion has a much greater sway over the words and conduct of people in the ME than it does in the West, especially, although not exclusively, where there can be no distinction drawn between Church and State. Just consider fatwas, for example.

Big bloody sticks are more intimidating than limp little 'for shame' twigs.

Posted by: Salamantis at May 31, 2007 11:00 PM

I also fail to see where the public academic refusal, from Ramadan, to repudiate and condemn violence against women, especially on religious principle, can facilitate anything except the perpetuation of that very violence among the acolytes of that religion. It smacks too much of what some 'moderate' Muslims might say: that Jews may not technically be apes, but that they are nevertheless unsavory human beings, without the continued presence of whom the world would be a better place.

Posted by: Salamantis at May 31, 2007 11:09 PM

i found the reaction by berman to how ramadan responded to sarkozy quite revealing: he did not expect the direct question and "he did not have a pre-formulated reply". precisely!!!!

Pre-formulated reply?

If I wanted pre-formulated replies, I'd go look at the source material.

Does anyone know where I can find an english transcript of the debate, or even a french transcript?

(I want this badly enough to resort to translate.google.com)

------

but i find it quite galling that you (1) declare things without evidence (2) when you're challenged, you say it would be too taxing to formulate an answer (3) then turn around and ask of others to provide evidence for everything they say, the very thing you did not have time to do.

What he said, with emphasis.

If you don't have enough confidence in the accuracy and impartiality of your sources to tell us what they are, maybe you shouldn't be placing quite so much trust in them?

Posted by: rosignol at May 31, 2007 11:56 PM

If you fail to support those trying to create compromises, the lack of support will destroy their projects, and you will be left with implacable, violent standoffs between the extremists and the West. Which is exactly what the extremists want. Don't help them.
-Glasnost

There are many points on which no compromise is possible between Islamists and the electorate of several countries.

In the United States, separation of Church and State is only one of them- but it is one of the major ones. Others include equality under the law regardless of religion, gender, ethnicity, or sexual preference, and a secular basis for laws.

The Islamists will not compromise on these matters. They believe that theocracy is the ideal form of government, that laws should be based on their holy book, and their holy book explicitly states that the opinions of muslim males carry more legal weight than anyone who is not a muslim male, and that muslims have certain protections and privileges that non-muslims do not enjoy.

An implacable standoff is inevitable- these ideas are fundamentally incompatible with our own.

If the standoff will be violent is up to the Islamists- but the past behavior of Islamist movements strongly suggests that being prepared for violence is prudent, not paranoid.

Posted by: rosignol at June 1, 2007 12:14 AM

Off-topic humor, but inspired by rosignol's concluding remark:

http://snltranscripts.jt.org/94/94dbush.phtml

Profues apologies, but I just couldn't help myself...;~)

Posted by: Salamantis at June 1, 2007 12:24 AM

but instead of a book or long articles on the philosophy, i would urge those who want to be convinced to watch MEMRI TV or Palestinian Media Watch, or the films taped inside mosques in europe and the us, etc. much more vivid and easier to understand.
except that most lefties blind themselves to it

Islamists brand all critics of Islamism and Islam as racism or Islamophobia.

To most leftists, being called a 'racist' is worse than being called a murderer or a pedophile. People like Ramadan know that, and they take full advantage of it.

Posted by: mary at June 1, 2007 08:37 AM

Meanwhile, you seem pretty convinced that you're qualified to judge that Ramadan is, in fact, promoting or advocating violence.

No, I judge that Ramadan is a good salesman. He's selling a product, Islamism, that is proven to promote and advocate violence. But Ramadan is too smart to personally advocate these things.

Ramadan and his Muslim Brotherhood are trying to sell the idea that their new, improved Islamism will bring peace and keep you safe from terrorist attacks - buy now before this deal disappears forever.

As a salesman, Ramadan is just doing his job. If you don't learn anything about the political effects of sharia and Islamism, or if you automatically condemn all critics of Islamism then you're not doing your job.

Posted by: mary at June 1, 2007 08:46 AM

rosignol,

do i assume correctly that your first comment was to glasnost and not to me?

i don't recall berman's exact expression, but he seemed to indicate that ramadan did not expect the direct question about stoning and was not ready for it and came up with the moratorium. that was berman's impression, not mine. if true, i found that revealing.

with respect to compromise, the problem is that even if some compromise, some will not, and in general it's the latter who usually have the leg up and can convert the former at any time. it depends on the circumstances and power configuration. if you have concentrations of growing number of muslims in a geographical area, they use their political clout to demand sharia application in various areas. they already do it in places like minneapolis, detroit, etc. and they have politically oriented groups who are targetted at that.

as to violence, i always refer the gullible to how muslims react to what they consider insulting islam: don't say we're violent, or we'll kill you.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 1, 2007 09:14 AM

must read. explains a lot.

http://www.theaugeanstables.com/2007/06/01/reality-up-for-grabs-on-the-difficulties-of-facing-history/#comments

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 1, 2007 10:02 AM

do i assume correctly that your first comment was to glasnost and not to me?

My very first comment in this threat was addressed to MJT. I don't do "rolling thread commentary", if I want to keep discussing an older post, I'll post in that thread, not the most recent one.

Posted by: rosignol at June 1, 2007 10:16 AM

rosignol,

the reason i asked is because you did not address the comment and it was quoting my comments to glasnost, so i could not figure out who you were talking to.

it helps if you address the comments, sometimes it's not clear otherwise.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 1, 2007 10:23 AM

even a more must read for anybody who wants to understand the major reason the a-i conflict is intractable.

http://www.theaugeanstables.com/2007/06/01/palestinian-memory-killing-the-future-with-a-dishonest-past/

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 1, 2007 10:25 AM

rosignol,

I meant the first comment in THIS thread. the one I responded to.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 1, 2007 11:57 AM

Give me a break, fp - and roz, lump yourself in. We're commenters on a blog forum. I don't ask you to list a biography of everything you've read as a test to whether I will consider your arguments or reject them out of hand. I won't accept that kind of litmus test either. I sure do hear an awful lot of complaining about various credentialed people of every imaginable stripe - academics, government officials, media figures, intelligence agents - these credentialed dudes are all laughed off as fools when you disagree with them. You don't really care about credentials when you disagree with them - or me. None of you do. So do me at least the credit of, when you disagree with something I write, saying why you disagree and what you disagree with. Don't divert the subject by asking me what I've read on Islam.

The last two books I read on the Middle East in 2007 were by Vali Nasr and Nachman Tal.

FP, I try to provide evidence when I make assertions, and I don't consider myself "above" providing evidence that Ramadan does not advocate violence, rejects violent confrontation when the topic is raised, and has built his teaching around coexistence and adaptation to the West. However, I think it's a little superflous in this case, since Paul Berman's article is littered with examples.
In this case, I think the burden of proof is on you to come up with something contrary to that thesis, which many Islam-hostile people here aren't even bothering to dispute.

Ros:

In the United States, separation of Church and State is only one of them- but it is one of the major ones. Others include equality under the law regardless of religion, gender, ethnicity, or sexual preference, and a secular basis for laws.

The Islamists will not compromise on these matters.

Says who? You? Can you prove it? Of course you can't. It's an opinion. A prediction, even. I think you're smart enough not to take up a challenge on it. I'm one hundred percent positive that I could find thousands of examples of "Islamists" compromising on these issues. The last ten years of Iranian history is littered with tens of compromises by Islamists - compromises that do not end the value conflict to be sure, but compromises that make it quite clear that the conflict is evolutionary, not static and infinite.

I imagine, if pressed, you'd make a statement like, "Islamists who compromise are no longer Islamsits". But that's rhetorical sleight of hand used to distract from the main point, which is that religious preferences and movements change over time.

Ramadan himself is a living example that you're wrong. If the Quran sanctions and endorses violence, as is insisted on so vehemently around here, and Ramadan advocates non-violence, how is that not a compromise? To use the most lazily obvious example lying right in front of you and I.

No, I judge that Ramadan is a good salesman. He's selling a product, Islamism, that is proven to promote and advocate violence. But Ramadan is too smart to personally advocate these things.

So, your thesis is that Ramadan is secretly leading a movement he hopes and plans will drown the west in a tide of blood, by explicitly and consistently promoting nonviolence over a period of decades? Does this pass the Occam's razor test?

Or is your thesis that Ramadan is promoting a movement that will inevitably promote violence, even though Ramadan himself doesn't think it will and doesn't intend for it to do so?

I'm a little more sympathetic to this logic, as I'm a pretty secular person. But if you want to make violent religion unpopular, you are wise to promote nonviolent religion, and if you want to stamp out nonviolent religious leaders like Ramadan, you'd best be prepared to see violent religion become rapidly more popular. I see that as bad. At what point do you see this causal chain as wrong?

You don't have to trust Ramadan. You're a spectator, it's your luxury. But it's in the interests of Europe to let him speak, and not marginalize or ostracize him, but to try to tolerate the culture he represents, while continuing to draw it further towards modernity.

Posted by: glasnost at June 1, 2007 03:12 PM

I'm a little more sympathetic to this logic, as I'm a pretty secular person. But if you want to make violent religion unpopular, you are wise to promote nonviolent religion, and if you want to stamp out nonviolent religious leaders like Ramadan, you'd best be prepared to see violent religion become rapidly more popular. I see that as bad. At what point do you see this causal chain as wrong?

I don't believe that Islam is a violent religion. Do you?

I do believe that Islamists (again, those who believe taht that Islamic law (sharia) must be the basis for all statutory law of society) are a violent and oppressive political group.

I also believe, as Berman does, that Islamism, by its nature, leans towards fascism. Lots of fascists were nonviolent, and they all promised to change the world for the better. Europe let them speak.

We've seen this all before, we should be a little smarter the second time around.

Posted by: mary at June 1, 2007 03:33 PM

glas,

i am sorry but i stand by my comments, your attempt at denial notwithstanding. and you know what: you give me a break.

ros,

i think you are wasting your time on glas. i detect a well known technique of just countering with wearing-down demands for evidence, when the evidence is ovewhelming and he either is unaware of it, whether intentionally or not. otoh, he makes statements without any evidence.

earlier he stated "it is obvious that hamas has moderated" which is patently false and for which he has produced no evidence. such a statement coming from somebody else would evoke: says who, what's your evidence?" from him.

the best way to handle with anybody employing such techniques is to treat them as trolls and ignore them.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 1, 2007 03:46 PM

interesting:

http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level_English.php?cat=Politics&loid=8.0.419999897&par=0

if he runs we'll be able to test the proposition that islamists can compromise and that of the distinction between moderates and islamists.

since indonesia is claimed to be moderate, if he wins and applies his version of sharia law and there is general compliance, we'll see who is right.

Posted by: fp/http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 1, 2007 05:22 PM

i detect a well known technique of just countering with wearing-down demands for evidence, when the evidence is ovewhelming and he either is unaware of it, whether intentionally or not. otoh, he makes statements without any evidence.

Seriously, fp. Look. I don't agree with many things you say and large chunks of your worldview. I appreciate your flurry of links to jihadwatch, in the sense that you're often willing to come forth with backup, whether or not I think the context of the links is relevant. Coming forth with evidentiary backup is great, and superior in an argument to not doing so.

I just didn't feel like doing the research this time. Okay? Instead of running popularity fights in response, couldn't you just live with, i don't know, not believing me? Or pointing out for the world to see that I didn't provide any evidence? doesn't that stamp your victory clearly enough upon the audience?

I mean, my god, I, as a person who often asks for evidence, failed to once provide evidence for something I believe. Please! Shun me! Run me out of the room! I provide links here regularly. I'm just didn't want to bother.

What I'm saying here is, I think you're overreacting. show a little tolerance, alright?

Posted by: glasnost at June 2, 2007 10:21 AM

I do believe that Islamists (again, those who believe taht that Islamic law (sharia) must be the basis for all statutory law of society) are a violent and oppressive political group.

Alright. I'm not sure how I feel about that statement. I'll leave it alone for now.
Are you sure Tariq Ramadan is, in fact, an Islamist, using that criteria? A lot of people call anyone an Islamist who is, A: a Muslim, and B: advocates for the relevance of Islam to modern society.

I wouldn't be surprised if Tarik Ramadan has argued in favor of individual laws that give Muslims the freedom to individually act in obediance to Islamic regulations. I would, though, be very suprised to hear him quoted as advocating any laws that forced non-Muslims to obey Islamic ritual, or to hear him demand or recommend sharia, as a system, as a replacement for the secular laws of Europe.

Mary, if you have anything documented that runs contrary to this, I will be more sympathetic to your view of Ramadan. On the other hand, my red line remains where I put it the first time, to tolerate everyone who does not advocate violence - although I suppose I should add "and does not advocate eliminating the democratic nature of states in Europe"
It wasn't the nonviolent fascists who made trouble for Europe. Once again, I haven't seen anything from Ramadan advocating the end of democracy in Europe. I've seen discussed, if in general terms, the exact opposite.

Posted by: glasnost at June 2, 2007 10:30 AM

i have no tolerance for ignorance, stupidity and your polemical technique.

whatever your sources are, you don't know enough about or understand the subject matter. consequently, you dump all sorts of absurd positions that make no sense and it would be a tedious waste of time to try to correct them. you state what seems to be ideologically driven personal opinions as if they were obvious facts, while you treat others' more informed and sensible opinions dismissingly. and it was YOU who demanded evidence!!!!

and you have the gall to request tolerance?

don't answer it, it's a rhetorical question.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 12:08 PM

Chill, fp. If you don't want to argue with Glasnost, ignore him. I wish everyone who disagreed with other posters were as generally polite as he is.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2007 12:32 PM

mjt,

can you point out where i have ever questioned his politeness? is that the issue?

i think i was very clear about the problem. and i have reason to chill -- i am not even warm.

what i said is the reality as i see it. anybody else can judge for themselves.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 12:40 PM

oops, i meant i have NOT a reaon to chill, of course

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 12:41 PM

and now for a bit of serious humor:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8PBF5h-9Qg&mode=related&search

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 01:59 PM

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2007/06/as_europe_selfdestructs.html

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 02:19 PM

looks like europe, us and israel don't need ramadan to tell them what to do. they get it.

Posted by: fp\http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/ at June 2, 2007 02:46 PM

I wouldn't be surprised if Tarik Ramadan has argued in favor of individual laws that give Muslims the freedom to individually act in obediance to Islamic regulations.

I wouldn't be surprised if he told you that Islamism will keep your toilet fresh and add years to your life. He's a salesman, he'll tell you what you want to hear.

It wasn't the nonviolent fascists who made trouble for Europe.

All fascists made trouble.

Posted by: mary at June 2, 2007 07:00 PM

I disagree with statements above that Berman somehow "endorses" Ramadan. I think Berman tries to give Ramadan a fair read but that he clearly points to Ramadan's weaknesses, at one point early on almost indulging in guilt by association. I was pleased to see Berman mention Bassam Tibi. Tibi is a Syrian-born German professor. Although he tends to spend too much time pointing out his academic credentials and name-dropping, Tibi represents a true attempt by muslims in Europe to reform Islam from within. Tibi distances himself from Hirsi Ali, because he considers himself a devout muslim, and she is an atheist. On the other hand, Tibi distances himself from the likes of Ramadan and Ramadan's defenders. His basic point is that Ramadan is not really for a reformation of Islam in a way that is fully consistent with (i.e guarantees peaceful coexistence with) our western secular values. Tibi appears only to be focused on Islam in western societies. I'm not sure what he thinks should happen in Muslim countrise.

Unfortunately, I think Tibi also has given up on Europe. I read recently that he intends to move to the US after he retires from his position at Göttingen. He was subjected to severe criticism in Germany for getting involved in the integration debate by calling for the dominance of western values in western societies (how scandalous!). His call was latched onto -- and abused -- by conservative voices in Germany, automatically guaranteeing Tibi big troubles in the PC circles.

I strongly recommend reading the full debate that went on earlier this year and that Berman cites at the end of his article (www.signand sight.com). Although I am a big fan of Berman and generally agree with him, I see a risk of the debate lapsing into polemics (see, e.g. Bruckner's attack on Garton Ash in the signangsight debate). Berman occasionally lapses into this mode, too. Nevertheless, the new Berman article makes a significant contribution to pinning down Ramadan.

I also think that it is an oversimplification of Berman's ideas to claim that he exaggerates the threat of islamism. He points out the common roots of many of the sicko 19th and 20th century ideologies. He'd no more equate the danger of islamism with that of Stalinism or Nazism than he would the similar strains found in some of the marginal trotskyite or anarchist groups that he writes about. But what Berman also senses -- and anyone who lives abroad and has his eyes open senses it too -- is a tolerance among large segments of the populations in East and West for mass murder of people who can be fit into the group "other". This is a deeply troubling part of the human condition. To the extent that islamists openly call for such mass murder, they have earned Bermans's undying emnity, and rightfully so. And that willingness to celebrate mass murder needs to be taken seriously and be opposed vehemently.

Posted by: Karl B. at June 2, 2007 11:43 PM

I also enjoyed that Marshall article cited above offering a critique of Berman's Terror and Liberalism. We really do need to factor in the relative weakness of the muslim countries in which islamism flourishes and the relative unattractiveness of their ideology (even many of the Sunni clan leaders in Iraq appear to have had enough or their weirdness) when deciding how to deal with the problem. I think Berman, especially since the war, has emphasized the need to debate openly with islamists. It is the self-confidence in our own values that you need to factor in when assessing Berman's position. I don't think you can impute to him a fear that those ideas might not survive the encounter or that they are as challenged by islamism as, say, by the communist ideology.

The weakness in Marshall's article is that his perspective is too domestic. The issue is not whether ideas have currency in the US, it is what effect they have on the world stage. Just because no one in the US takes a nut like Chomsky seriously doesn't prevent him from being courted in places like Beirut by people directly opposed to Western values. And look who is waving his book at the UN, our friend Chavez. I think it is precisely this brewing and stewing morass of hatred and lust for mass murder that sets off Berman's alarm signals. He was less concerned about the twin towers than with the vision of death camps he saw in the dust hovering over Manhattan on that sunny day in 2001.

Still, in my mind the greatest challenge of our time is not the islamist ideology, it is the attempt by countries like China and Russia to reap all the benefits of a market economy without granting its citizens the fundamental rights associated with democracy.

Posted by: Karl B. at June 3, 2007 01:08 AM
Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Pajamas Media BlogRoll Member



Testimonials

"I'm flattered such an excellent writer links to my stuff"
Johann Hari
Author of God Save the Queen?

"Terrific"
Andrew Sullivan
Author of Virtually Normal

"Brisk, bracing, sharp and thoughtful"
James Lileks
Author of The Gallery of Regrettable Food

"A hard-headed liberal who thinks and writes superbly"
Roger L. Simon
Author of Director's Cut

"Lively, vivid, and smart"
James Howard Kunstler
Author of The Geography of Nowhere


Contact Me

Send email to michaeltotten001 at gmail dot com


News Feeds




toysforiraq.gif



Link to Michael J. Totten with the logo button

totten_button.jpg


Tip Jar





Essays

Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn