Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Muslim Moderate/Muslim Extremist?

Moderate Muslim, fundamentalist Muslim, Muslim extremist - it matters not; anyone who regards the murderous paedophile Muhammad as a prophet has no place in civilised society. Anyone marching under his banner has committed moral suicide.

Kill the messenger!

"Whoever said inquisitions and witch hunts were things of the past? A big one is going on now. The sociologist Mark Regnerus, at the University of Texas at Austin, is being smeared in the media and subjected to an inquiry by his university over allegations of scientific misconduct.

Regnerus’s offense? His article in the July 2012 issue of Social Science Research reported that adult children of parents who had same-sex romantic relationships, including same-sex couples as parents, have more emotional and social problems than do adult children of heterosexual parents with intact marriages. That’s it. Regnerus published ideologically unpopular research results on the contentious matter of same-sex relationships. And now he is being made to pay.

In today’s political climate, and particularly in the discipline of sociology—dominated as it is by a progressive orthodoxy—what Regnerus did is unacceptable. It makes him a heretic, a traitor—and so he must be thrown under the bus.

Robert Putnam, a liberal sociologist at Harvard, famously (infamously, for some) found that as communities become more ethnically diverse they in fact become socially frayed. In a survey that included interviews with over thirty thousand people, Putnam found that as a community becomes more ethnically and socially varied, social trust plummets. People tend to “hunker down,” in Putnam’s words banding together with a shrunken and shrinking group of friends or alone in front of the TV. Trust in political leaders, the political process, and even voting decline precipitously. Volunteerism, from charitable giving to carpooling, deteriorates. Political activism increases as people look to government to solve problems that once might have been solved by a simple conversation across a coffee table or a shared fence between neighbors.

Note: Putnam did not find that diversity fuels racism; the vast bulk of the people interviewed for the study were not bigots. What he found was that diversity promotes alienation, disengagement, and social isolation. This all runs counter to a host of prevailing clich├ęs and pieties." Quoted from PJ Media - Ed Driscoll "Reality, What a Concept".

When the left resorts to character assassination, ostracism and demonisation  (as it invariably does) of those who publish research that does not fit with its political agenda it seeks to invalidate the said research by putting the author "beyond the pale", effectively a charge of heresy. But this is a type of argumentum ad hominem and as such a logical fallacy. For the thrust of their attack is this: A has produced this research but A is a bad character (the results of A's research prove this - note the circularity) therefore A's research should be ignored. This is a fallacy since the validity of A's research should be judged against criteria such sampling, operationalisation, falsifiability; criteria which have nothing to do with A's character or his conclusions.

The demonisation argument basically boils down to this: we don't like your conclusions therefore you must be a bad person therefore your research is invalid. Complete and utter poppy-cock.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

I really wanted to find a religion of peace

Reading Dr Elsa Schneider's account of her discovery of Islam, I was struck by a statement she made: I really wanted to find a religion of peace. I was the same; I expected to find a religion of peace. It never occurred to me that a major religion could be an ideology of conquest.


I first became more closely acquainted with Islam when I became friends with a Muslim couple in the mid 1990s. From them I gained some understanding of what muslims do, what they believe and what some of their attitudes are. I learned about the Hajj (the pilgrimage that muslims are supposed to make if they are able to); the 5 daily prayers (these were diligent muslims and they never missed their prayers); refraining from drinking wine, not eating pork etc; opposition to figurative art and music; reverence for Mohammad; opposition to Israel and a dislike of Jews; a positive attitude to such places as Jordan and Saudi Arabia; the benefits of Sharia law, and the general superiority of the muslim way of life. Opposition to comparative religion and anything that might relativize Islam or lead to a questioning of its teachings. Also, a tendency to interpret everything from psychology to astronomy
as knowledge that is already contained in the Quran.

I also learned about some of the sectarian divisions within Islam: the Sunnis, the Shi'ites, and Sufis. I also learned about some of the muslim views on such things as the healing power of honey. What I did not get from these people was any insight into the nature of the religious texts and their interpretation. Nor did I get any insight into the character of Muhammad except that he was supposed to be a thoroughly likeable and pretty near perfect person. Given the thoroughly positive recommendations of these people, I became curious about the Quran and thought it would be interesting to have a look at it. I thought that I would find edifying stories and poetic parables with a peculiarly Arabian wit and character to them. I thought I might discover a very humane message that was tolerant of human weakness and indulgent of human pleasure. I think I might have gained this idea from reading the Rubayaat of Omar Khayyam, the only thing I had ever read with a vague connection to the Middle East that springs to mind.

On reading the Quran, I was rather taken aback to discover that it repeated the same sort of things over and over again. Moreover, these themes were not positive but thoroughly negative in character. For example, a theme that is constantly reiterated is the doom awaiting the non-believer. Lurid descriptions of the torments awaiting the non-believer in Hell followed by a comment such as "Lo! Allah is merciful, wise." are very, very common. The impression that I immediately got was that the Quran delighted in telling how non-believers were going to suffer followed by the rather contradictory message that Allah was compassionate. These 2 things are irreconcilable for me. But Islam is highly dualistic, it divides people very starkly into believers and unbelievers (kafir) I was disappointed by the way the Quran was written for I had expected it to be on a more elevated level. Instead it was repetitious, bombastic and faintly ridiculous. I spent some time searching the book for something different but to no avail. It was all pretty much the same.

Needless to say, withouta believer's mentality that this was the most perfect book ever written, nor a desperate curiosity to know more about Islam, I abandonned the Quran as a poorly written and rather nasty book. Some years later, after Sept 11th 2001, I again became curious about Islam and muslims. I remember, when the Twin Towers were hit by the planes, being in my kitchen listening to the radio when the news bulletin interrupted the broadcast. I rushed to the TV to see if it was covered there - it was. My initial reaction was not "this is the work of middle eastern terrorists or muslims" but rather "this could be the action of environmentalists protesting about the USA's dismal green performance." Having discovered that it was carried out by muslims, I again became curious about Islam, as many people did. In fact, following the attacks, Islam appears to have gained many western converts. This will remain one of the supreme paradoxes of the 3rd millenium. I had lost contact with my muslim couple so I did not turn to them for their account. Had I done so I might well have been diverted from the truth. Muslims seem to have a peculiar blind spot for the negative aspects of the religion. This may have something to do with the particular emphasis that Islam places upon the supremely serious sin of disbelief.

Many of us brought up in a non-muslim culture have been led to believe that the worst sin is murder. But for muslims this is not the case. In Islam the worst sin is disbelief. What the psychological effects of this are one can only imagine but it may go some way to explaining the intolerance of questioning and doubt that is frequently displayed by muslims. Anyway, having acquired access to the world wide web by this time, I decided to search for "critics of islam" on Google. One of the results of this search was a link to faithfreedom.org  This is a site developed by ex-muslims which aims to expose the dubious claims of the religion and in particular to debunk the prophethood of Muhammad. Needless to say the site's authors receive countless death threats and abusive, blood curdling emails. They also offer a challenge to anyone who can expose any untruth in anything on their site with an offer to pay them $50,000 if they can demonstrate that any of their claims are false. I spent of lot of time studying this website and I concluded that what they were saying is true. This site had a link to another website called thereligionofpeace.com. It was here that I found a day by day, blow by blow account of the atrocities carried out in the name of Islam all over the world. Likewise jihadwatch.org, where I became acquainted with the work of the great Robert Spencer. Robert Spencer was able to show just how closely the jihadists were following both the example of Muhammad and the commandments in the Quran.

I have tried to discuss with muslims the subject of Islam's justification for acts of violence and the atrocities carried out by muslims around the world. I have found that they are able to say things with great conviction that they have no way of substantiating. If I draw attention to the violence of the jihadists, they answer that they "are not real muslims. Islam does not support violence." So I show them the excerpts from the Quran such as, "Kill the unbelievers, wherever you find them." To which the response is, "that's taken out of context", with the implication that, seen in its proper context, the passage would mean something competely different. This is stretching credibility to its limit. So I ask them to show me the context in which this does not mean what it appears to mean. This they cannot do, so I can only conclude that it does mean what it appears to mean. Where do they go from here? Back to the belief that Islam is perfect, non-violent and entirely peaceful (and somewhat misunderstood).

Pressed on these matters and their inability to explain the discrepancies, I find they start to make excuses like "I am not an expert. I cannot comment." The fact is most muslims have had the message dinned into them since childhood that Islam is the true path, that those who disbelieve in it are committing the worst of sins and that those who commit such sins can expect no mercy when judgement day comes. This is a huge barrier to reasonable and responsible enquiry. Unlike my muslim acquaintances I have an enquiring mind and I have sought to find answers. I also have the advantage of coming from a culture in which free thought, sincere use of reason, and an openness to doubt have allowed people to view ideas and beliefs more dispassionately than muslim culture does.

You may wonder why I bother myself with such matters. The answer is that I care about the future awaiting my children and their children. I do not want them to be faced with a choice between the mental slavery that Islam offers, grinding oppression under a muslim state, or death. These have typically been the choices offered to non-muslims when Islam has arrived on the doorstep of unsuspecting peoples down the ages. I also care about other non-muslims, both in my own country and elsewhere. I must say I've discovered wells of empathy for others that I didn't know I had. I feel a genuine concern that as few people as possible will suffer under such religious totalitarianism. I am also a student of western culture and it would be the most tragic loss were Islam to trample down and devalue the achievements of the western world, as it almost certainly would. I also feel concern for other non-muslim countries and peoples that could also be obliterated by Islamic infiltration and conquest. If you want to know what a muslim culture does for (or should I say to?) its people, take a look at Pakistan.

If you think such fears are alarmist, do bear in mind that muslim birth rates are far higher than most non-muslim birth rates. Many countries now have a muslim population that is growing much faster than the indigenous one. Though the muslim population is still a minority at present, the time is not far distant where parity between the two will be reached and from there onwards the muslims will begin to predominate.

What effect will that have on those societies? That very much depends on how committed those muslims are to Islam. Where religiosity is greater, tolerance will be lower. That is a good rule of thumb. If you think that's exaggerating, just bear in mind that where the indigenous population will have a higher proportion of older people, the muslim one will have a higher proportion of the young. The energy and dynamism will be with the latter.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Olympic Opening Ceremony

I think the Olympic opening ceremony was a pretty candid portrayal of the left/liberal progressive social perspective that is now dominant in UK cultural and political circles.

We began with an idyll of rural England in the pre-industrial age and moved through the industrial developments of the 19th C to the "progressive" social movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries; such movements as the suffragettes and Jarrow marches. We then had a memorial to the fallen of the world wars and other conflicts.

The playing of "Jerusalem" in the early stages of the above was a prelude to the next phase of this development. For the progressive mind, history moves inexorably in the direction of greater social justice, which for them is summarised by the word "equality". It also moves in the direction of greater tolerance and "inclusiveness"; of greater acceptance of all and any differences.Progressives see themselves at the leading edge of this trajectory; the forerunners of all social progress.

So, on that note, mass immigration begins. The Windrush docks in Britain and the first wave of Third World people disembarks upon our shores. I can't remember the exact chronology from here on and it hardly matters anyway: we get the swinging 60s symbolised by Beatlemania; Punk, New Order?, etc, etc. Britain is now the land of pop culture and multi-racial multiculturalism. But the progressive doesn't actually see what multiculturalism means in reality. Because progressives are essentially ethnocentric (they see all peoples moving inevitably in the direction that they suppose to represent true progress and completely ignore the very real differences of worldview that people adhere to) they believe that all newcomers will share their tolerance and aspiration towards greater equality.

The Olympic ceremony was a massive piece of back-slapping for the British left and "Cool Britannia". The self-congratulating progressives welcomed the world to what they see as the forefront of social development: an inclusive, tolerant, and increasingly equal society. The actual new Jerusalem.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Tiger Mother challenges western orthodoxies

Chua directly challenges the prevailing Western orthodoxies, in place since Dr. Spock, or even since Freud . . .The analogy of child-rearing to our national situation is clear enough: just as American parents are too concerned with self-esteem without basing self-esteem on an actual accomplishment . . .so our entire culture operates on some notion of natural rights that is no longer realistic. Chua' s point is that a delusional culture based on unearned self-esteem can' t for long be a realistic player in global competition for influence, power, and resources. Is it possible that we should mind our Tiger Mother?” — Diane Johnson, The New York Review of Books

Our constant need for courage

Three quotations:

"Consience is the root of all true courage; if a man would be brave let him obey his conscience."

J.F.Clarke

"Moral courage is a virtue of higher cast and nobler origin than physical. It springs from a consciousness of virtue, and renders a man in the pursuit or defence of right, superior to the fear of reproach, opposition, or contempt."

S.G.Goodrich

"Self-trust is the essence of heroism. It is the state of the soul at war, and its ultimate objects are the last defiance of falsehood and wrong, and the power to bear all that can be inflicted by evil agents. It speaks the truth, and it is just, generous, hospitable, temperate, scornful of petty calculations, and scornful of being scorned."

Ralph Waldo Emerson



The fear of not accepting difference

Pious people are afraid of not accepting difference. They get involved in amazing inward contortions in their attempt to resist the natural urge to be a little wary of difference.
 
 
Also to the pious, hatred per se is bad. To be caused to hate someone or some group or some thing is to be tempted by the devil. To be caused to hate a person or group "of difference" is anathema. You can see why the new piety refuses to know that Islam and Muslims are extremely questionable. The contemporary pious are trying to train themselves to accept everyone; they have a woolly idealism which tells them that accepting everyone is good and will lead to world peace. In a totally reciprocal world this might be true, but the world is not reciprocal, it takes advantage wherever it can on many occasions.

The pious strive to eradicate what they call prejudice from their hearts but they overlook differences and threatening characteristics in the process.
Does western civilisation move inexorably towards a fate that has been inscribed into its cultural DNA by its Christian roots? Jesus died on the cross, forming perhaps the most potent cultural symbol to inform western consciousness for 2000 years. It is an image of self-sacrifice; of surrendering to one's own destruction in order to achieve the highest ethical position; of refusing to do what needs to be done to ensure self-preservation; to die so that others may live. These themes pervade the thinking of westerners in ways they are barely conscious of. They inform our responses to myriads of situations, including our response to alien and hostile forces.

Will we follow Jesus and suffer our own crucifixion in order to preserve our moral purity above all else? Has Jesus taught us how to exterminate ourselves?