Monday, 4 May 2015

Perhaps a Question is the Answer?

Have you ever been faced with the situation where you want to engage someone in conversation about the real nature of Islam and its inherent totalitarianism but felt that as soon as you said one thing on the subject that sounded at all critical of Islam you would be immediately classed as a bigot and therefore viewed as not worthy of further attention?

For many "progressives", to hold certain viewpoints does not signify that one has a set of opinions that can be contested on their merits; they simply invalidate one as a person. This creates enormous barriers to communication with this type of person because, having invalidated oneself with an opening statement, they simply stop listening.

I have felt this a lot - maybe I'm too sensitive. The fact is that the way the minds of many progressives work does lead to this outcome. It's really the effect of logical fallacies at work at an unconscious level.

The cycle goes like this:
  1. I say something accurate about Islam which shows it in a bad light.
  2. The listener sees it as a criticism of Islam on my part, although I have only stated a fact. The criticism is therefore only implied and actually is the product of the listener's mind.
  3. The listener has been conditioned to believe that criticism of Islam is something that bigots do. I must therefore be one of those bigots. Other illogical associations such as "racist" are also blended together in the listener's mind.
  4. The listener then falls for a "Poisoning the Well" fallacy. Having fallen into the trap of viewing me as a bigot, he/she then believes that anything I say is likely to be incorrect and merely designed to "stir up hatred". If the listener has had negative feelings aroused by my initial statement of fact, this will serve as confirmation that I am a bigot trying to stir up hatred. (Surely, if telling the truth about a subject stirs up hatred, isn't that all the more reason to be asking pertinent questions about the subject?)
  5. Anything that I say from here onwards will arouse a defensive response in the listener - that is, he/she will effectively no longer be listening. In all likelihood, the person will now be marshalling all those arguments with which we have become so familiar: "the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful therefore Islam must be OK"; "you're saying that all Muslims are terrorists"; "the Bible has lots of violent verses too", etc
  6. The listener is also defending him/herself against the possible truth of what I am saying because, having become convinced that only bigots make statements which put Islam in a bad light, he/she does not want to agree with me and thus become one of those bigots.
I had been thinking that some forms of mental ju jitsu needed to be developed to address this problem. The principle of ju-jitsu was developed for overcoming opponents using their own weight and momentum, a principle which allows combatants to overcome opponents of superior strength. The principles of ju-jitsu use the action of no-action to bring an opponent off balance and use his/her own weight and momentum to bring him/her to the floor (preferably with a bang). In this case, the bang of awakening.

Something that might well serve this purpose is a question. A brilliant illustration of this was provided by Dennis Prager. As a radio host who often discusses controversial topics and in particular the topic of Israel, Dennis is often confronted by listeners who are hostile to Israel and question its legitimacy. Dennis has a perfect answer to this and it is a question: Do you ever question the legitimacy of Pakistan?

As Dennis shows in this article at Frontpagemag there are a lot of similarities in the formation of Israel and Pakistan and yet who ever questions the legitimacy of the latter? Pakistan, left out of the spotlight for many years to quietly get on with crushing its religious minorities whilst Israel has been called upon to defend itself for the very act of defending itself against hostile neighbours.

By means of disarming questions like the one that Dennis Prager asks we have avoided making any statements that start the cycle of perceptions and fallacies outlined above. We have not asserted anything that can elicit a counter-statement of any sort. We are simply asking a question.

Planting a question in someone's mind can be rather like leaving a window open in their house; they'll have to deal with it eventually.

Maybe you can think of some disarming questions that would be useful for us to ask our friends and acquaintances. If so, put them in a comment and I'll add them to a list at the bottom of this post.

  1. Have you heard of the Banu Qurayzah?
  2. Do you consider yourself to be inferior to every Muslim?
  3. With regards to Islam: Are you going to submit or resist?
  4. Do you think all cultures are equal? Followed by: do you think cultures that condone slavery are equal to cultures that condemn it?
  5. Are you afraid to criticize Islam? Are you afraid to even talk about it in case you accidentally say something "offensive"?
  6. If you believe that people of the Third World have a right to resist colonization by us; do you also believe that we have a right to resist colonization by them?
  7. Do you think we'll surrender to religious terror during the next century?
  8. Do you ever feel embarrassed by the behaviour of your prophet?
  9. Do you think any beliefs or ideas should be beyond criticism?
  10. Are you familiar with the law of abrogation as it applies to the Koran?
  11. Do you ever wonder what is the effect on Muslims wanting to leave Islam of the Leftist urge to shield Islam from criticism in order to "protect" Muslims from hurt feelings?