Breaking The Silence

Dave of MacRaven makes an observation that hadn’t occurred to me.

I couldn’t even exist as a dhimmi in an Islamic state: as a Heathen, I’d be forced to convert or be killed. The subservient dhimmi status only applies to “People of the Book”, i.e. Christians and Jews. Kaffirs like me – well, the Koran recommends beheading.

Islam never underwent the period that Christianity did of Reformation and internal Holy War. In the West, that religious cataclysm from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries led directly to the Enlightenment, and the Enlightenment led to a severe curtailment in the mixing of politics and religion. Mainstream Islam is very similar in political outlook to Christian Reconstructionism, in that both ultimately envision a “godly” state, complete with enforcement of “gods” laws.

Note that Christianity has a “reconstruction” movement trying to inject religious law back into the secular state. Islam needs no such reconstruction, as it’s never been “deconstructed”. Unless and until Islam changes its basic character, which is that of a warrior religion with “conversion” by the sword an accepted norm, they will remain a threat to the ideals of a secular state, and to religious liberty.

He puts his finger on the point that unsettles me about Islam — its militancy. Dave provides several links on his post to clarify and define his terms. He also provides a link (also included here) to an article describing an ex-Muslim woman who made a brief movie intending to highlight the “widespread but hidden violence against Muslim women.” As a result of this ten-minute movie, Hirsi Ali has received death threats via email; a rap song calls for her death, and there are threats discussed in chat rooms. She now has two bodyguards 24/7.

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9 Comments on “Breaking The Silence”

  1. jennifer Says:

    It’s important to remember and realize that a lot of what people associate with Islam is more cultural and not part of Islam itself. Everything that comes to light that people say is part of Islam, abuse of women, honor killings, the dress code, etc, in the most part, is related to the culture of many in the Middle East and not Islam itself.

    The links that the MacRaven guy provides do not hold an ounce of information, but instead a very one-sided view of hatred geared towards Islam, and by this I mean the link to Daniel Pipes, who is a known hater of Islam who would rather see its defeat than to try and encourage peaceful coexisting between everyone.

    It’s just very disheartening to see someone like this Dave man who seems to think he knows the secrets behind Islam when what he really knows is what the media hands out to him.

  2. Kathryn Says:

    Yes, culture plays a part. But it’s interesting to note the degree to which it is embedded and intertwined with the religion. When a woman who was raised as Muslim highlights the crimes committed in the name of the religion, and is subsequently threatened with death by those who purport to be adherents of Islam, it seems apparent that we must deal with the version of the religion that predominates, not that which it could ideally be.

    Regardless of what position one takes, one can find sources that support one’s position as solid, and those disagreeing will always be able to find fault. Here we are not dealing with facts and empirical data, but with attitudes and ideas, which are subjective. What strikes me, however, is the tone. Dave makes a reasonable observation. Your response is state your objections while referring to him a “this MacRaven guy” and “this Dave man,” which is dismissive. I know Dave much better than I know you; I’ve known him for a couple of years, and I’ve never heard of you before. I’m more inclined to take someone seriously when they aren’t attacking — directly or subtly — the person with whom they disagree.

  3. Suzanne Says:

    The culture and the religion are totally intertwined. Please seek out a documentary entitle, “Our Time”. It shows occasionally on LinkTV.

    It is a good representation of what woman face in an Islamic societies. It’s a very, very heavy burden.

    When Harvard graduate Thomas P. Barnett briefed a group on his theories on the state of the world and rule sets, a muslim man challenged him at the end. He said, “You don’t understand Muslims…..” to which Barnett replied, “I do understand, and the difference between the muslim world and others is the way you treat your women!

    The way in which women are treated is an indication of the civility and stability of a society. The culture and the religion cannot be separated – they are one. Any anthropologist will tell you that religion is a component of the culture.

  4. tonio Says:

    “and is subsequently threatened with death by those who purport to be adherents of Islam”

    And Michael Moore, the Dixie Chicks, and anyone else who’s bothered to speak publicly against the Iraqi war in the USA haven’t also had their share of death threats, often from those who purport to be adherents of Christianity or patriotic adherents of democracy? Or is there some compelling reason Islamic threats hold more weight? Perhaps we need to look at the version of “democracy” that predominates in the US and not what it could ideally be?

    Speaking as a foreigner, I’m not convinced I should be more unsettled by Islam, even the more militant variety, than I should be by the dominant American ideology.

  5. Kathryn Says:

    I’m not making comparisons, Tonio. Extremists exist in all religions. We’re moving frighteningly closer to becoming a “Christian nation” (see the recent post with quotes from Falwell et. al), which I don’t want to see happen. The point Dave makes, and that I think is worth considering, is that Islamic fundamentalists want to see the entire world made Islamic, and their acts are forcing us to confront this. They are waging a jihad against all that is fundamentally Western. As long as militants are at the forefront of our attention, it will be difficult to see Islam as otherwise. I fear we are moving as a nation toward taking the same role with Christianity. Religion does not belong in democratic government.

    I make an observation, and you come back with a comparison. So? That does not detract from the fact that a woman who attempts to call attention to the plight of women in Islam is being threatened by its adherents. By throwing that comparison up, are you suggesting that because there are people who threaten Michael Moore, the threats of Hirsi Ali are of little concern?

    Interesting how readers make assumptions and are quick to pointedly confront what may not in fact exist in the writer’s paradigm.

  6. Tony Says:

    To build upon the last series of comments:

    I don’t believe the core issue here is Islam. Or Christianity, for that matter. It’s fundamentalism.

    Fundamentalism is one possible response to change in the world that causes a discrepancy between what the world is and a particular set of beliefs. At its core, fundamentalism seeks to change or deny the world in order to preserve the beliefs. The Christian (Catholic) fundamentalists had their heyday when Galileo and Copernicus started presenting evidence contradicting the beliefs of the Church.

    Free of a specific context (e.g., religion, politics), fundamentalism and conservatism are similarly oriented in their response to change.

    An alternative approach, of course, is to revise one’s beliefs in response to gathering more data about the world. In some circles this may be called “progressivism” or “liberalism”, although it characterizes modern science, the school of thought proffered by the American pragmatists (e.g., Peirce, Dewey), and other endeavors.

    The “one river, many wells” concept linking various theologies (arguably a progressive notion) has its fundamentalist flip side – just about any ideological, theological, or philosophical viewpoint can serve as the bulwark of a fundamentalist approach, to be clung to come what may.

    The battle lines between these camps often get drawn around the quest for certainty. Many fundamentalists/convervatives insist that some principles are eternal and immutable. Many progressives/liberals argue that nothing is certain and that everything is subject to question (and often – usually under the rubric of postmodernism – take this to mean that judgment or evaluation of ideas is impossible, vacuous, or even morally impermissible, with which I vehemently disagree).

    Obviously both approaches to change can, and have run aground. I would argue that progressivism offers greater hope for – well, progress. Fundamentally (sorry), the world will go on changing, either because of us or of its own accord, and in at least some contexts at some times, resistance to change is futile in terms of altering outcomes.

    But I think the current state of affairs will persist unless progressives embrace their true hate for change, and unless conservatives acknowledge their hope and desire for it. Having both reactions to change (at various times, or even simultaneously) is arguably an essential part of the human condition, and as long as we persist in isolating one or the other (in ourselves, and in groups) and elevating it as “right”, we will be in stasis at best, in horrible conflict at worst.

    The interesting question is, what are the necessary preconditions for an integration of the responses to change, either individually or societally?

  7. tonio Says:

    I was merely asking that you apply your logic consistently to all religions. To single out Islam itself as a religion particularly inclined toward extremism is a little inflammatory — do you really wonder that discourse on the subject might become heated? I don’t see Islam that way, and was merely saying that Dave’s ancedotes didn’t prove anything as long as the same sort of stories could be found within all religions.

    If, when you say “readers” you mean me, why not say so? To be sure, saying it directly to me would be rather hostile, but you’ve communicated that quite skillfully anyway.

    Absent an ability to read your mind, readers will pointedly confront the *implications* of what is before them.

    Since you clearly don’t want this reader to continue doing that, I’ll respectfully stay away from now on.

  8. Kathryn Says:

    No, Tonio, I was also referring to the first commenter, as well as to the many agitated comments I see on other sites.

    There are many ways to face a volatile topic without being confrontational. That’s all I am merely saying.

    I respect your decision to stay away, although this blog offers much more information that may be interesting or helpful — not just discourse on this topic.

  9. Kathryn Says:

    For the record, some clarifications:

    1. When I said the militancy of the religion of Islam unsettles me, I was referring to the fundamentalist sects.

    2. Fundamentalism in all religions concerns me.

    3. The root issue, for me, is the maltreatment of women around the world, and the ways in which fundamentalism supports and entrenches it.

    4. I spoke of having to deal with the version of the religion that predominates, and by “predominate,” I mean that which confronts us, that is the motivating force behind terrorism. What confronts us is conservative, fundamentalist Islam. I do not mean to say that most Muslims are this way. (Someone I spoke with thought that’s what I meant.)

    5. While Christianity may have gone through a reformation, that does not make it perfect. Many religions go through reformation. What intrigued me about Dave’s statement is this: at some point, the reformation of the Christian faith broke the chokehold that Church had in government in many (but not all) countries. We are unfortunately creeping toward a religious government, and I hope we arrest this. From what I know of the religion of Islam — what I was taught throughout my education — I do not recall mention of this religion experiencing a shift that accommodates secularism. I certainly am no expert on Islam, and I intend to read more.

    6. I didn’t take issue with my commenters disagreement, different positions, or their desire for clarification of my words. What I did not appreciate is the snideness the came through their words. Perhaps they did not mean to be this way; without nonverbal cues and face to face interaction, words become more loaded. But there are ways of respectfully disagreeing. Pointed questions laden with judgment do not entice me to respond receptively. Perhaps I “ought” to be able to transcend that. I’m human, still working on being in this world, so I’m not going to hit the mark 100% of the time.

    7. This blog, until recently, has not focused on political issues precisely because politics, like driving, seems to bring out a type of rage in people. This blog is not the venue for such interaction. I have set up commenting differently, with one comment box in the sidebar “about” section, and the ability to send me email by providing a link in every post. From October 1 on, posts will occur without comments. The point of this blog is to share information; to avoid misunderstanding I may limit my commentary and original content, letting the writers’ words speak for themselves. If a reader disagrees with those words, I encourage them to contact the author (if that person is available), or to create their own blog as a venue for their voice.