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524202 The Ben Affleck vs. Bill Maher and Sam Harris debate about Islam is all over the interwebs, and seems like something of a Rorschach test. On my Twitter some people seem awfully impressed by Ben, while others (including me) think that it’s a pretty good illustration of the shallowness of contemporary Left liberalism when it comes to religion. One response is that “you can’t generalize about 1.5 billion people.” No, I don’t mean Catholics, I mean Muslims. When it comes to Christianity, or white males, Left liberals seem comfortable generalizing about a pattern of patriarchy or oppression, no matter that some white Christian males were at the forefront of movements such as abolitionism. Words like “problematic” or “complex” and “nuanced” don’t come up when people begin to hold forth upon the “white male Christian patriarchy.” It’s a vast monolith. Imagine if someone stated there was a problem with child sex abuse in the Catholic Church, and the response was that “you can’t generalize, most Catholic priests are not child abusers!” True. But enough are that it’s a problem. Affleck’s immediate response is that Maher and 0226056767 Harris’ assertions were “Gross and Racist.” This emotive explosion is really at the heart of it, criticism of Islam triggered a disgust and aversion response, not a rational reaction. Not that we should expect Ben Affleck to engage in deep analysis, just as Maher and Harris are not deep thinkers on religion either. One strange thing I note about Ben Affleck’s angry reaction is that he challenged Maher and Harris on their lack of deep scholarly credentials in Islam. Now, if a Muslim had demanded this it would kind of make sense, but I don’t understand why a secular liberal would talk as if only the ulema could speak authoritatively about Islam. This is somewhat similar to the Yale Humanist association objecting to Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaking about Islam, and demanding that someone with academic credentials be invited as well. Shall we impose the same criterion when it comes to Christianity? Only pastors and priests need apply?

No_god_but_God_(Reza_Aslan_book)_US_cover Over at The Washington Post‘s Wonkblog there is a post up, Ben Affleck and Bill Maher are both wrong about Islamic fundamentalism. First, this idea that there is a “moderate Islam” and a “fundamentalist Islam” is only useful to some extent. A genuinely textured argument needs to introduce more multitudes, from the philosphically esoteric Ismaili sect, which in its most numerous Nizari form tends toward what one might call a liberal form of modern Islam, to various traditionalist Sunnis who reject the Salafi/Deobani views but still express very conservative perspectives. The assassin of Salman Tarseer was from the Barelvi download (1) movement, which is the “moderate” traditionalist alternative to the various Salafi and Deobandi “conservative” currents which have been roiling Pakistan over the past few generations. I put the quotes because the Salafi and Deobandi movements are reformist, and to a great extent the products of the past few hundred years and strongly shaped by a modernist viewpoint, even if their modus operandi strikes us as reactionary. The fact is that traditional Islam has accepted as a majority consensus that apostasy from Islam should result in the death penalty. But there was also a lot of latitude in this area, and in pre-modern times political entities were not totalitarian. These sorts of edicts may not have been enforced much at all (analogy, Theodosius’ banning of public paganism in the late 4th century probably was not enforced across much of the Empire, though it did allow for interventions in some cases, such as the destruction of the Serapeum). Additionally, the reality is that for particular classes and individuals there was a wide tolerance toward free thought. The great physician al-Razi clearly would be considered a free thinker, while the poet al-Ma’arri was a caustic atheist (no surprise that ISIS beheaded one of his statues).

The modern age is arguably one of more conformity due to the ease of communication & travel, and the homogenizing power of the force of the state and mass media. In any case, Wonkblog assertions:

Overall, the picture that emerges of fundamentalism among the world’s Muslims is considerably more complicated than either Affleck or Maher seem to realize. There’s no doubt that, particularly among some Middle Eastern Muslims, support for intolerant practices runs high. It’s quite easy to criticize these practices when a repressive regime is inflicting them upon an unwilling population. But things get much more difficult when such practices reflect the will of the people, as they seem to do in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Egypt.

On the other hand, majorities of Muslims in many countries — particularly Western countries — find these practices abhorrent. Maher tries to speak in broad brushstrokes of a “global Islam,” but Pew’s data show that such a thing doesn’t really exist.

2120250 How to be polite about it? This is stupid. First, repressive regimes fall back on Islamic populism when they are weak. The Baathist autocracies were Arab nationalist and secular. What they are doing when putting Islam front and center is pandering to public sentiment, which is becoming more and more conservative over the generations. And things don’t get more difficult when barbarism reflects the will of the people. When the people are tyrannical their will is irrelevant. That’s presumably why you have the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is not surprising that the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam endorsed by the Organization of the Islamic Conference did not vouchsafe that one could change religions. Second, numbers are of the essence. Western Muslims are important to Western people, because they live among us, but they are numerically trivial. Wonkblog provides the fraction of selected Muslim nations (or Muslims in selected nations) where proportions agree that apostates from Islam should be executed (which is truly the historical traditionalist view, even if there are details of implementation which make it difficult, and there are some dissenting views which are becoming louder). Pew also helpfully provides the number of Muslims in each nation estimated for 2010.

Nation % death penalty for apostates Muslim Population Muslim Population death penalty for apostates
Kazakhstan 0 8887000 0
Albania 1 2601000 26010
Turkey 2 74660000 1493200
Kosovo 2 2104000 42080
Bosnia 2 1564000 31280
Kyrgyzstan 5 4927000 246350
Tajikistan 6 7006000 420360
Russia 6 16379000 982740
Indonesia 13 204847000 26630110
Lebanon 13 2542000 330460
Tunisia 16 10937521 1750003
Thailand 21 3952000 829920
Bangladesh 36 148607000 53498520
Iraq 38 31108000 11821040
Malaysia 53 17139000 9083670
Jordan 58 6397000 3710260
Palestine 59 4298000 2535820
Egypt 64 80024000 51215360
Pakistan 64 178097000 113982080
Afghanistan 78 29047000 22656660
835123521 301285923

200px-IbnWarraqwhyIAmNotMuslim The nations surveyed represent about half of the world’s Muslims (>800 million of ~1.5 billion). These data indicate that 36 percent of the these Muslims favor the death penalty for apostates. Much of the balance in terms of population is going to be in Africa and other Middle Eastern nations (e.g., Iran) and India. I don’t know how things will shake out, though Nigerian Muslims are not particularly liberal, and I am curious if Indian Muslims would be any more liberal than Bangladeshi Muslims. In any case, we are faced with a glass half empty and half full situation. The majority of Muslims certainly do reject the death penalty for apostates today. But the minority who accept it as normative represent hundreds of millions of individuals. I tend to see the half empty aspect because I really don’t care what peaceful Muslims who focus on their mystical inner life do. They’re free to practice their superstition in the privacy of their homes, or in public spaces which they own, it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. The problem is that the hundreds of millions who have what I might say are “problematic” viewpoints, if I was a pretentious liberal who enjoyed equivocating, would quite likely break my leg. This is not an academic concern, I agree with Shadi Hamid that democracy and liberalism have not made their peace in much of the Arab world. To some extent the masses will always be suspicious of liberalism, because they are a dull and uncreative sort. The American populace supports banning flag burning, and often curtailment of various kinds of speech. Elites, whether on the Left or Right step in to block these sentiments through the courts. Elites in Muslim nations need to grow some balls in this area, though the pattern of assassination of those who speak against the barbarians in their midst from Tunisia to Pakistan illustrates how deadly serious these issues are.

Finally, U.N. Report Details ISIS Abuse of Women and Children:

According to witnesses cited in the report, Islamic State fighters dumped more than 60 Turkmen and Yazidi children in an orphanage in Mosul after they had witnessed the killing of their parents by the fighters. “It appears some of the older children may have been physically and sexually assaulted,” the report notes. “Later, ISIL fighters returned to the orphanage and made the children pose with ISIL flags so they could take photos of them.

In a barbaric pre-modern age the children would have been killed. So perhaps ISIS is not quite as 7th century as they like to proclaim. But the intersection of modernity, taking the photos, and barbarity on display here is reminiscent of Rwanda more than anything else. But this is more worrisome to me:

The report said the Yazidi girl who was abducted by Islamic State fighters when they attacked her village on Aug. 3 was raped several times by different men before she was sold in a market.

“Women and girls are brought with price tags for the buyers to choose and negotiate the sale,” the report said. “The buyers were said to be mostly youth from the local communities. Apparently ISIL was ‘selling’ these Yazidi women to the youth as a means of inducing them to join their ranks.”

51ys5CPEhdL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ Sunni Arabs in Iraq and Syria do have rational self-interested reasons to align with ISIS, at least temporarily. The barbaric behavior meted out to Shia and non-Muslims is generally not something they have to worry about themselves, and some have even collaborated for material gains. Though there are impositions on their personal freedom, from the perspective of a Sunni Arab the erstwhile Maliki regime and that of Assad’s may not have been better bets. But no one forces you go to a slave market and buy slaves. Civilization seems to rest lightly upon the shoulders of some. That is gross. You may not want to generalize about the religion of 1.5 billion, but if I was a Christian or Yezidi in the Fertile Crescent and I saw Sunni Arabs I know what I would do. Run. Don’t ask if they are moderate or fundamentalist. Just run.

Addendum: It is here that my friend Omar Ali may ask if I am perhaps giving succor to the average Fox-News-watching imbecile . In other words, being frank and honest about the warts and all of international Islam might cause problems for Western Muslims. I don’t have suggestions for my Middle Eastern friends, but for South Asians there’s an easy recourse: bow down before the idols of your ancestors. Arabs, Turks, and Persians think you’re black Hindus anyway, so why not go whole-hog? (so to speak) You’re just replacing a thousand little idols for one black stone you otherwise worship. A simple name change will suffice. Of course the idiots will think you’re Muslim anyway, but eat a ham sandwich and prove them wrong.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: ISIS, Islam, Religion 
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  1. ohwilleke says: • Website

    When you look at the numbers, “death penalty for apostates” belief seems to be largely an areal effect, as much dictated by who your neighbors are as anything else, with Malaysia looking like something of an outlier.

    It would be interesting to see the data points for American, Canadian and European Muslims. I suspect that “death penalty for apostates” doesn’t have wide acceptance among African-American Muslim converts in the United States, for example.

    I would also suspect that the figure for Iraq would have been meaningfully lower in 1980 than it was in 2010, back when Iraq was a multiethnic society and had not experience the religious and ethnic segregation that took hold during the U.S. led coalition’s occupation of the country.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Over 30% of british muslims want the death penalty for apostasy. So you are wrong.
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  2. Brett says:

    When it comes to Christianity, or white males, Left liberals seem comfortable generalizing about a pattern of patriarchy or oppression, no matter that some white Christian males were at the forefront of movements such as abolitionism. Words like “problematic” or “complex” and “nuanced” don’t come up when people begin to extol upon the “white male Christian patriarchy.”

    You’re doing exactly the same thing here. There is no “Left Liberal” consensus, only strawman caricatures of it from all-too-many conservatives.

    “Women and girls are brought with price tags for the buyers to choose and negotiate the sale,” the report said. “The buyers were said to be mostly youth from the local communities. Apparently ISIL was ‘selling’ these Yazidi women to the youth as a means of inducing them to join their ranks.”

    That was in a lot of the reports from Yazidi refugees, that what really hurt was when their Sunni neighbors turned on them.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous
    " what really hurt was when their Sunni neighbors turned on them."

    Which sounds a bunch like
    "but they were Moderate Muslims"
  3. I find it interesting that the “death penalty for apostates” position seems to be quite marginal in the Central Asian countries surveyed; I wonder if that’s some kind of deep-seated characteristic of the region, or did the Soviets’ “modernization” (horrifyingly brutal as it was, at least during the 1920s to 1940s) actually “work”?

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  4. BK says:

    In the last paragraph are you saying that South Asian Muslims should apostate or just pretend to be Hindu when needed?

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  5. Robert Ford says: • Website

    Preach it! being able to come to this site and read stuff like this truly is the highlight of my day.
    if Ben were forced to send his kids away for school/vacation and he could only choose between a random Christian country or a random Muslim country which would he choose? I bet I know.
    The piece is regarding reza aslan, but these two former muslims had some good points that apply in this debate

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/10/05/reza-aslan-is-wrong-about-islam-and-this-is-why/

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  6. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @ohwilleke
    When you look at the numbers, "death penalty for apostates" belief seems to be largely an areal effect, as much dictated by who your neighbors are as anything else, with Malaysia looking like something of an outlier.

    It would be interesting to see the data points for American, Canadian and European Muslims. I suspect that "death penalty for apostates" doesn't have wide acceptance among African-American Muslim converts in the United States, for example.

    I would also suspect that the figure for Iraq would have been meaningfully lower in 1980 than it was in 2010, back when Iraq was a multiethnic society and had not experience the religious and ethnic segregation that took hold during the U.S. led coalition's occupation of the country.

    Over 30% of british muslims want the death penalty for apostasy. So you are wrong.

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  7. Mike Zwick [AKA "Dahinda"] says:

    “Ben Affleck and Bill Maher are both wrong about Islamic fundamentalism” This is true about most of the things being argued in this country today. Gun control, race relations, etc.

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  8. You’re doing exactly the same thing here. There is no “Left Liberal” consensus, only strawman caricatures of it from all-too-many conservatives.

    bullshit. e.g., http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/10/05/bill-maher-1-ben-affleck-0.html She says the liberal ones were “tentative” it is true that many liberals agree with maher or harris, but they are silent because they don’t want to be accused of racism. also, unlike liberals i think generalizations is ok in general so long as it is accurate, not just when it is wielded against our ideological enemies.

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  9. When you look at the numbers, “death penalty for apostates” belief seems to be largely an areal effect, as much dictated by who your neighbors are as anything else, with Malaysia looking like something of an outlier.

    what does that even mean? i mean i guess it’s true, but when generalizing about muslims you want to talk about the areas where they live. obviously as i stated above western muslim opinions are particularly relevant for us, but when talking about islam you want to talk about the preponderance of beliefs.

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  10. fwiw, i think re: british muslims it was the young segment where 1/3 wanted to execute apostates:

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2007/jan/29/thinktanks.religion/print

    (might want to check the cross-tabs though, that seems high, could be noise)

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  11. In the last paragraph are you saying that South Asian Muslims should apostate or just pretend to be Hindu when needed?

    i don’t personally give a shit. but a lot of people always come up with the “but your background is muslim so you’ll be identified as muslim.” if what other people think matters so much just change your name/religion. no one is going to check your circumcision status. it’s not india, people don’t riot and kill each other over this shit regularly.

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  12. omarali50 says:

    Thanks for the mention at the end, but just to clarify, I dont think you are giving succour to the average Fox News watcher. My “Fox News” comment on twitter (“a lot of afflecism is ridiculous, but even many skeptical Muslim Americans cheer it uncritically . Fear. Fox news… irrational?”) was more a thought that many not-so-Muslim American Muslims who know Affleck is naive about the topic may still cheer him on because they fear that “Islamophobia” could directly affect their lives one day and when (if) it does, the Islamophobes will not be asking who really believes apostates should be killed and who is getting as far away from apostate-killers as possible. So having the Ben Afflecks of America batting for you may be a good idea.
    Personally, I am not sure it is a good idea. It’s likely that Affleckism does more harm than good. It just shows Fox-viewers (by no means a homgeneous group, I know) that the s0-called liberals really are naive and even silly. Anyway, I live among Fox News watchers and go to boy scout campouts with them and I don’t find them as threatening as some people do. But you get the picture: when things are getting polarized, minorities can be a bit paranoid, and even naive and silly supporters of your nominal group at least look like supporters.
    As far as this post goes, I dont think accurate information and a rational perspective is ever a bad idea. We need more information, not less.

    About what is happening in Sunni areas (with some local Sunnis joining in the slave buying with gusto) that may be more about humanity than about Sunnis. My touchstone for this is what happened in partition in 1947. Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, they all killed neighbors, stole their property, raped their women (and in some cases, converted them to their own faith and kept them as wives after having killed off their families, etc) and so on. Beyraja is a Punjabi term that means “without Raj”, i.e. anarchy. And it is not pleasant. I wrote an article about that once (http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2012/01/beyraja-from-1947-to-1971-and-beyond.html) and here is an excerpt that gives you a flavor of what happened (the “younger relative” was my own father)
    “an old man in our village in West Punjab was near death in 1970 and like most people in our village, was dying after a lifetime of poverty and hardship. He had become incoherent but a few minutes before the end, he suddenly became lucid and grabbing the hand of a younger relative, passed on this deathbed advice: “agli wari beyraja peya tey chaddna nahin…” (the next time anarchy occurs; don’t miss your chance…). Beyraja (absence of Raj) here refers to the time in 1947 when, for a few months, every property owned by Hindus and Sikhs was suddenly there for the taking. He, like most people, had missed his chance. He did not want his younger relatives to miss the next one).
    Things fall apart and people do horrible things. It is best not to let them fall apart that much... So I dont see the Sunni’s behavior in this case as particularly informative about Sunni-ism, but a different example DOES tell you something about Islamicate culture: the example of what happens when a blasphemy allegation is made in Pakistan in areas which have not yet descended into anarchy. The police stand aside, or actively help kill the blasphemer. THAT is not just “human nature” on display. It is a particular feature of core Islamicate societies (knocked down in ex-Soviet republics and China and suppressed to some extent in Western ones, but otherwise found from Morocco to Malaysia), a belief that is part of religious education: that blasphemers deserve to die. It is repeated in newspapers and on TV (Musharraf’s minister of religious affairs wrote an op-ed in the newspaper in which he fantasized that if ever got his hands on Salman Rushdie, he would skin him alive with sharp hooks..this is a minister in the enlightened regime of “moderate” Musharraf). No breakdown of law and order is needed to get to this point. Killing apostates is a less powerful meme (several people who have converted to Christianity have lived to tell the tale in Pakistan, including at least one Bishop in the church), but it is not as weak as Affleck may imagine. An apostate may keep a low profile and make it to his natural death, but the threat of a campaign against him is always there….he or she cannot ever afford to upset a local cleric, because that might trigger a mob baying for his blood..the “real cause” may be his property dispute or parking argument with the local cleric, but the meme that allows the cleric to gather a mob and attack him is the “death to apostates” meme. And it can be very real… (see some background here: http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2010/11/blasphemy-law-the-shape-of-things-to-come.html)
    For anyone who thinks Pakistan is particularly bad, this is moderate Indonesia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D59x516Dirk

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    • Replies: @Abelard Lindsey
    This is a video of Indonesians running amok. They do this from time to time. The most notable case was the killing in 1965-1966 that followed in the wake of an attempted coup on the part of PKI (indonesia's communist party) in 1965. They also went amok in 1998 when Suharto resigned.
  13. Hi Razib, no bueno to your last paragraph. It’s like a black guy whistling Vivaldi when cops are near or Japanese in the US who said they were Chinese during WWII. It didn’t help them any. I’m not saying people of color are still systematically oppressed on a level, but it’s disrespectful and distancing to other people.

    As a mainland Chinese who stays in the US, I see this in my culture as well. People suddenly becoming “Taiwanese”, “American born” or “dissidents” when white Americans talk about ‘Red China’ as a threat instead of being honest about who they are. It’s kicking the can down to people that you feel are weaker, and people of color do it all the time.

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  14. Hi Razib, no bueno to your last paragraph. It’s like a black guy whistling Vivaldi when cops are near or Japanese in the US who said they were Chinese during WWII. It didn’t help them any. I’m not saying people of color are still systematically oppressed on a level, but it’s disrespectful and distancing to other people.

    that’s a retarded analogy. some of my recent ancestors were hindu. it’s a religion. you can change it. yes, other retards can’t make a distinction, but then they’d beat you up on any pretext anyhow. can’t help that.

    It’s kicking the can down to people that you feel are weaker, and people of color do it all the time.

    you need to not have white people in mind all the time. it’s not all about them. muslims and hindus can kill each other fine without white arbiters in south asia.

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    • Replies: @Michelle
    Thanks for that, Razib. I may be out of touch with the types of whites who even say "Red China" anymore, even though China still is pretty red, but I have met hundreds of Chinese and yet I have never ever known a Mainland Chinese person to claim they are, "Taiwanese, dissidents, or American born". That is laughable. Mainland Chinese think they are the creme de la creme as do the Taiwanese and people from Hong Kong. Not one of them would ever claim to be from somewhere else. They have a lot of pride. I knew one stuck up Taiwanese girl in Jr high, Tsu-Weng, and she would tell all the Chinese kids, " I am not Chinese, I'm Taiwanese." That's cuz she was Taiwanese. Though I guess she had a right to be stuck up, since she graduated from Harvard Med. In any case, no ignorant white person, even war vets, who called China, Red China, would know the difference between Chinese from Taiwan, Mainland China or Hong Kong and the accents would give away anyone claiming to be, "American born." I call shenanigans on Myra.
  15. IMHO, this basically comes down to the correlation does not imply causation. Just because Muslim societies have tended to keep medieval barbarism does not imply that Islam is the cause of the retention of medieval barbarism. Or, even more simply put, Islam doesn’t suck, but Islamic societies disproportionately do suck.

    Regardless, your post has me thinking more generally about the “civilizing process” that Stephen Pinker wrote about in The Better Angels Of Our Nature. He credited much of the civilizing process as having come out of the enlightenment. This makes sense since his argument is focused upon the West, and one can indeed argue that for areas like the Muslim world, the reason the civilizing process is so incomplete is colonialism only succeeded in changing cultural priors in minor ways – that liberalism wasn’t fully internalized.

    That said, it still leaves a question in my mind about what happened in East Asia. East Asia is clearly an area which was not really touched particularly significantly by colonialism, and only absorbed the western political ideals of liberalism indirectly. However, it clearly went through its own civilizing process over the generations. Many of the classic methods of public execution in China and Japan were as gruesome as any in in the Christian middle ages. I guess what it boils down to is there really is more than one way to be civilized. Perhaps, given another century or two, Islam will happen upon an endogenous one, rather than having to import Western liberalism wholesale.

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  16. in china they execute prisoners for organs. don’t know how civilized that is ;-)

    omar, i agree some of this is human nature. trafficking exists the world over. but i do think we’re being sold a bill of goods when told that the sunnis of ISISstan are innocent vics. there’s an undercurrent of sunni chauvinism that’s coming to the fore.

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  17. Lucrece says:

    It’s also really easy for rich white liberals like Affleck to be so accommodating to religion. How often are wealthy, straight white men systematically targeted and harmed by religious institutions?

    If you’ve had a Tumblr account for the sake of following some artists you like, every so often you come across the white liberal speaking wonders about Pope Francis due to the powerful PR campaigns the Catholic Church carries out. But if you’re one of those gay employees who were terminated despite decades of work for an institution (such as a Catholic high school or university or hospital) just because you married someone of the same sex,and then are told that you must divorce (lol!) that person in order to keep your job, you might have a different view of Catholic (and conservative Christian) institutions. The same case might go for the many gay children in Latin America whose only accessible educational institutions are run by the Catholic Church.

    But of course Ben Affleck is neither a gay man or a woman or a religious minority who lives in a majority Muslim country. He lives in his little mansion among people who no doubt share his progressive values. It’s so easy to be “tolerant” in his context, and he will never realize it.

    You also gotta give credit to the successful campaign of dishonest progressives who have convinced a sizable amount of the population to conflate non-Christian religions with racial identity, enabling them to easily marginalize any dissenters via charges of racism. How quickly they criticize Russian sexism and homophobia (Orthodox Vhristians) compared to that of non-Christian sources.

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  18. Sean says:

    “Ben Affleck and Bill Maher are both wrong about Islamic fundamentalism”

    Both are half right, as I understand it there is support from Sunni traditions (Hadith) for Islamic prophet Muhammad and his followers having taken non muslim women and girls as wives against their will. The Shia don’t accept the Hadith. So no one can say that the Shia are doing such things because of their religion, but when the Sunni do it, some might be doing it because they think their religion is giving them a pass.

    If you don’t believe in an afterlife in which you will be justly punished for forcibly taking the girls you want, then there is no real-world reason not to when circumstances permit. Unless we believe in such an afterlife, we are deciding to as Nietzsche said “ live that there is no longer any meaning in living: that now becomes the ‘meaning’ of life “. Not clear what civilisation means unless it is to refrain from doing what makes you happy, for no real reason.

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  19. martin says:

    [Per Wikipedia]: “The epitaph on Abdus Salam’s tomb initially read “First Muslim Nobel Laureate” [i.e., in science, Physics 1979]… The word “Muslim” was later obscured on the orders of a local magistrate, [since] being an Ahmadi Muslim, he was considered a non-Muslim.”

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  20. then there is no real-world reason not to when circumstances permit

    retardedly reductive. most people are not sociopaths. and that’s not because they’ve been taught not to be. think about it. (you may be a sociopath or course, and i am to understand sociopaths have a hard time others aren’t like them secretly).

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    • Replies: @Sean
    I can remember what I was like thirty years ago, and it seems relatively sociopathic to me now. It's true that most do not act like sociopaths, but the background to most people's behaviour is not a situation where they are young men who find the hitherto sacrosanct object of desire is now up for grabs.

    ---

    Interesting that Abdus Salam had a lot of religious scholars in his family tree.
  21. learned says:

    Interesting perspective. I will like to add my 2 cents to the FOX debate that was not and that should have been but for the presence of the invisible forces cautioning them not to tread there .

    It is not the Muslim fanaticism nor the Christian one but the one still carried out on a daily basis by the zionist with periodic flare up that ends in the slaughter of the school children playing in the beach or hiding in the UN compunds or mosques or when being used as human shield by the IDF on the look out for adult citizen.
    FOX wont discuss.It wont cross the enlightened secular mind of the non -religious zionists like Maher and Harris . But if you look hard ,you may find the names of them in the ads taken by the larger zionist organizations in New York Times or LA Times bemoaning the abuse of the children by Gazan, praisng the brave attempts of the Isreali government and of various Jewish outfits to build bridges between the Arab and Jews .

    You know a person by what he is doing and sometimes you know them more and better by finding out what they are not doing . You wont hear from them the following -

    1- Israeli rightists wave ISIS-style flags in protest of African asylum-seekers
    2- Rabbi Shalom Lewis of Congregation Etz Chaim in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta, Georgia gave the call for “holy crusade” against Islam is need to”exterminate it utterly and absolutely.”

    Three years ago Rabbi Lewis gave a very similar sermon on Rosh Hashanah, again attacking Muslims and comparing them to Nazis. In fact he fashions this speech as a sequel to the earlier one:

    ” I cry out, “Ehr daw – they are here.” The fury of ultimate evil is upon us and we must act – not to contain it. Not to degrade it. Not to manage it. Not to tolerate it, but to exterminate it utterly and absolutely. http://www.mondoweiss.net
    3 Israeli Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Incites Followers to Commit Genocide Against Arabs
    4 According to Yediot Aharonot, Bennett said, “If you catch terrorists, you simply have to kill them.”

    National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror reportedly responded by saying that “this is not legal.”

    Bennett then allegedly retorted, “I have killed lots of Arabs in my life – and there is no problem with that.”- http://www.mondoweiss.net
    Bennett is a colaition partner in Israeli gov

    Long before muslsim started suing religion , it was the zionsit who brought the re;ligion to solve their non existent problem in 1890 . They still do when dreaming of eretz Israel and label Iranan as Amalek .

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  22. #21, jewish chauvinism is a real thing. that being said i think it’s kind of dumb to conflate the socialist zionists with the national religious sector or the ultra-orthodox haredi. in general my assessment of jewish radicalism is that it’s not nearly as much of a world-wide issue, for obvious reasons, since it’s localized demographically to israel (western jews tend to be cosmopolitan by preference and necessity).

    (note, this thread is not going to devolve into talking about israel and jews and zionism)

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    • Replies: @learned
    I understand that you want it not to get into zionizm. But todays conflcits in ME is less related to religion than it is to the Zionism
    have you forgot the dremas of Zionist ( Yoded Yinon, PNAC,Stand with Isreal, FDD , AEI, Accountability Acts against Libya,Syria,Iraq,Iran ) ? Thier zeal to relaize the dreams are entwined with the balkanization and break up of the societies in ME.
    The balknaziation does not proceed without violence and reactionary violence .
  23. learned says:

    Thanks for the answer. But if the secular outfit took care of the needs of the masses , there would be no ISIS or Taliban ( referring to Us support for the mujhaeddin even before the Spviet invasion ).
    Unfortunately the Isreali rights are being taken care of by the Chrisitan world and by the secular IDF. The fanatic zionists dont need to engage and get hurt .

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  24. learned says:

    “To this “model” must be added Modi’s reactionary ideas about caste. In his Karamyog (2007), Modi writes that those castes fated to do sanitation work (clean gutters, sweep houses and cart away refuse), such as the Balmikis, do so as an “experience in spirituality.” “I do not believe that they have been doing this job just to sustain their livelihood,” says Modi, who anoints them to this despicable work because it is their “duty to work for the happiness of the entire society.”

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/11/on-the-wings-of-intolerance/

    So going back to the fold of Hindusim and bow to millions of gods will not save the muslims of India or Pakistan.

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  25. j mct says:

    Slavery isn’t pathological, as one might think a sociopath might be, it’s pretty normal. Also, what makes a sociopath a sociopath is how he treats members of his tribe, not how he treats outsiders. I’ve been reading the Peter Brown book about Western Christendom, and I think it is very good, and here is a book review he wrote

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/dec/19/rome-sex-freedom/

    So those guys buying sex slaves wouldn’t seem to be in any way violating a naturalistic, non intellectual, errrr, humean, passion at all. To find that abhorrent, someone, somewhere, sometime, must have decided that human passions need to be guided by reason, and then went out and did it.

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  26. learned says:
    @Razib Khan
    #21, jewish chauvinism is a real thing. that being said i think it's kind of dumb to conflate the socialist zionists with the national religious sector or the ultra-orthodox haredi. in general my assessment of jewish radicalism is that it's not nearly as much of a world-wide issue, for obvious reasons, since it's localized demographically to israel (western jews tend to be cosmopolitan by preference and necessity).

    (note, this thread is not going to devolve into talking about israel and jews and zionism)

    I understand that you want it not to get into zionizm. But todays conflcits in ME is less related to religion than it is to the Zionism
    have you forgot the dremas of Zionist ( Yoded Yinon, PNAC,Stand with Isreal, FDD , AEI, Accountability Acts against Libya,Syria,Iraq,Iran ) ? Thier zeal to relaize the dreams are entwined with the balkanization and break up of the societies in ME.
    The balknaziation does not proceed without violence and reactionary violence .

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  27. Sean says:
    @Razib Khan
    then there is no real-world reason not to when circumstances permit

    retardedly reductive. most people are not sociopaths. and that's not because they've been taught not to be. think about it. (you may be a sociopath or course, and i am to understand sociopaths have a hard time others aren't like them secretly).

    I can remember what I was like thirty years ago, and it seems relatively sociopathic to me now. It’s true that most do not act like sociopaths, but the background to most people’s behaviour is not a situation where they are young men who find the hitherto sacrosanct object of desire is now up for grabs.

    Interesting that Abdus Salam had a lot of religious scholars in his family tree.

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    • Replies: @Greg Pandatshang
    I'd say there's a big difference between saying "X is how people would typically act" vs. "there's no real-world reason not to do X". People choose between competing motivations, which all pull on them even though they necessarily pick one to act on.
  28. jtgw says:

    So Muslims are becoming increasingly conservative: what’s up with that? It implies at some point in history they were less conservative and more tolerant. Also, it’s interesting how liberal Turks appear to be. Is the Islamizing trend in Turkey just way behind the trend in Egypt and Pakistan, or does political Islam mean something very different in Turkey?

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  29. So Muslims are becoming increasingly conservative: what’s up with that?

    i depends on region. and by ‘conservative,’ what often happens is that illiterate villagers with syncretistic practices urbanize and move to the city. their old localized religious folkways are irrelevant, and ‘reform’ islam of a more orthopraxic sort which is more textual focused (and so geographically portable) fills the gap. this is some of what is happening in indonesia, and happened in much of south asia.

    in the past with social stratification many dynamics occurred independently in different segments of the population.

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  30. @Sean
    I can remember what I was like thirty years ago, and it seems relatively sociopathic to me now. It's true that most do not act like sociopaths, but the background to most people's behaviour is not a situation where they are young men who find the hitherto sacrosanct object of desire is now up for grabs.

    ---

    Interesting that Abdus Salam had a lot of religious scholars in his family tree.

    I’d say there’s a big difference between saying “X is how people would typically act” vs. “there’s no real-world reason not to do X”. People choose between competing motivations, which all pull on them even though they necessarily pick one to act on.

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  31. About what is happening in Sunni areas (with some local Sunnis joining in the slave buying with gusto) that may be more about humanity than about Sunnis.

    the more i think about this, the more i think it is true. :-(

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  32. @omarali50
    Thanks for the mention at the end, but just to clarify, I dont think you are giving succour to the average Fox News watcher. My "Fox News" comment on twitter ("a lot of afflecism is ridiculous, but even many skeptical Muslim Americans cheer it uncritically . Fear. Fox news... irrational?") was more a thought that many not-so-Muslim American Muslims who know Affleck is naive about the topic may still cheer him on because they fear that "Islamophobia" could directly affect their lives one day and when (if) it does, the Islamophobes will not be asking who really believes apostates should be killed and who is getting as far away from apostate-killers as possible. So having the Ben Afflecks of America batting for you may be a good idea.
    Personally, I am not sure it is a good idea. It's likely that Affleckism does more harm than good. It just shows Fox-viewers (by no means a homgeneous group, I know) that the s0-called liberals really are naive and even silly. Anyway, I live among Fox News watchers and go to boy scout campouts with them and I don't find them as threatening as some people do. But you get the picture: when things are getting polarized, minorities can be a bit paranoid, and even naive and silly supporters of your nominal group at least look like supporters.
    As far as this post goes, I dont think accurate information and a rational perspective is ever a bad idea. We need more information, not less.

    About what is happening in Sunni areas (with some local Sunnis joining in the slave buying with gusto) that may be more about humanity than about Sunnis. My touchstone for this is what happened in partition in 1947. Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, they all killed neighbors, stole their property, raped their women (and in some cases, converted them to their own faith and kept them as wives after having killed off their families, etc) and so on. Beyraja is a Punjabi term that means "without Raj", i.e. anarchy. And it is not pleasant. I wrote an article about that once (http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2012/01/beyraja-from-1947-to-1971-and-beyond.html) and here is an excerpt that gives you a flavor of what happened (the "younger relative" was my own father)
    "an old man in our village in West Punjab was near death in 1970 and like most people in our village, was dying after a lifetime of poverty and hardship. He had become incoherent but a few minutes before the end, he suddenly became lucid and grabbing the hand of a younger relative, passed on this deathbed advice: “agli wari beyraja peya tey chaddna nahin...” (the next time anarchy occurs; don’t miss your chance...). Beyraja (absence of Raj) here refers to the time in 1947 when, for a few months, every property owned by Hindus and Sikhs was suddenly there for the taking. He, like most people, had missed his chance. He did not want his younger relatives to miss the next one).
    Things fall apart and people do horrible things. It is best not to let them fall apart that much... So I dont see the Sunni's behavior in this case as particularly informative about Sunni-ism, but a different example DOES tell you something about Islamicate culture: the example of what happens when a blasphemy allegation is made in Pakistan in areas which have not yet descended into anarchy. The police stand aside, or actively help kill the blasphemer. THAT is not just "human nature" on display. It is a particular feature of core Islamicate societies (knocked down in ex-Soviet republics and China and suppressed to some extent in Western ones, but otherwise found from Morocco to Malaysia), a belief that is part of religious education: that blasphemers deserve to die. It is repeated in newspapers and on TV (Musharraf's minister of religious affairs wrote an op-ed in the newspaper in which he fantasized that if ever got his hands on Salman Rushdie, he would skin him alive with sharp hooks..this is a minister in the enlightened regime of "moderate" Musharraf). No breakdown of law and order is needed to get to this point. Killing apostates is a less powerful meme (several people who have converted to Christianity have lived to tell the tale in Pakistan, including at least one Bishop in the church), but it is not as weak as Affleck may imagine. An apostate may keep a low profile and make it to his natural death, but the threat of a campaign against him is always there....he or she cannot ever afford to upset a local cleric, because that might trigger a mob baying for his blood..the "real cause" may be his property dispute or parking argument with the local cleric, but the meme that allows the cleric to gather a mob and attack him is the "death to apostates" meme. And it can be very real... (see some background here: http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2010/11/blasphemy-law-the-shape-of-things-to-come.html)
    For anyone who thinks Pakistan is particularly bad, this is moderate Indonesia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D59x516Dirk

    This is a video of Indonesians running amok. They do this from time to time. The most notable case was the killing in 1965-1966 that followed in the wake of an attempted coup on the part of PKI (indonesia’s communist party) in 1965. They also went amok in 1998 when Suharto resigned.

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  33. Bill P says:

    I find it interesting that the “death penalty for apostates” position seems to be quite marginal in the Central Asian countries surveyed; I wonder if that’s some kind of deep-seated characteristic of the region, or did the Soviets’ “modernization” (horrifyingly brutal as it was, at least during the 1920s to 1940s) actually “work”?

    -German_reader

    In general, the Turks have always been liberal in their interpretation of Islam. This predates Bolshevism by centuries. In Qing China, for example, they were known to ignore prohibitions on pork and alcohol.

    Even today, I’d like to see a Saudi imam show up in a Khazak village and try to ban kumis. That would be amusing.

    However, this doesn’t mean Turks are peaceful by nature. In fact, they may be one of the few peoples whose excesses were moderated by Islam. Interestingly, today their Mongol cousins are increasingly adopting Orthodox Christianity. Practically every Mongol I met in NE Asia was an Orthodox Christian. I’m curious to see how that will influence their culture.

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  34. In general, the Turks have always been liberal in their interpretation of Islam. This predates Bolshevism by centuries. In Qing China, for example, they were known to ignore prohibitions on pork and alcohol.

    it depends on the turks. some groups, such as the kazakhs and kirghiz, were only marginally islamicized even down to the tsarist era. it makes sense then their adherence to ‘orthodox’ islam is going to be spotty or weak. OTOH, groups like seljuks entered the middle east as defenders of sunni orthodoxy against shia buyids in western iran. the type of sunni islamic sharia dominant among the turks, hanafi, does have a rep as being more ‘liberal’, but that’s partly necessity as turks tended to be dominant in more ‘multi-cultural’ zones where the stridency of other schools would just be too much. once you control for nationality there’s not much difference between turk and non-turk. for example *world values survey* shows no diff for azeris and persians in iran.

    In fact, they may be one of the few peoples whose excesses were moderated by Islam.

    this is the kind of think you might read in a book for elementary school kids, but it really doesn’t have much empirical foundation. timurlane was not particular gentle to other muslims even.

    Interestingly, today their Mongol cousins are increasingly adopting Orthodox Christianity. Practically every Mongol I met in NE Asia was an Orthodox Christian. I’m curious to see how that will influence their culture.

    1) kalmyk mongols in russia have long had an orthodox xtian component, so just look at them

    2) i’d like some citation besides your personal acquaintance, since though xtianity is growing, it is still a very much minority faith in mongolia as of 2010. xtianity has come and gone among mongols at least once already.

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  35. Communism looks pretty good when you examine this chart. I think that it would extend beyond apostasy to other things, such as education for women, women’s rights, education in general, and probably public health systems etc. too.

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  36. Communism looks pretty good when you examine this chart. I think that it would extend beyond apostasy to other things, such as education for women, women’s rights, education in general, and probably public health systems etc. too.

    re: the former communist countries, yes. i think one of the issues might be that communism ‘levelled’ a lot of institutional structures that keep muslim countries (e.g., women out of labor force). OTOH, turkey wasn’t communist, though i guess ataturk. but it’s weird that nations like romania reverted to pretty standard conservative xtianity. russia is doing that too, though that’s more nationalist as opposed to pious (abortion rates and other such mores aren’t too conservative).

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  37. Bill P says:

    I’m not arguing that there’s something special about Turks that makes them more liberal Muslims, but rather that it’s a general characteristic of Turkish-dominant regions. Personally, I think it’s largely an environmental phenomenon — strict Islam is maladaptive for tribal northern peoples for a number of reasons. So it makes sense that Turks, once ensconced in settled, civilized countries like Iran, take on more of the attitudes and practices of their neighbors than they do in more primitive Turkic societies.

    As for Islam’s moderating influence, even Timurlane wouldn’t have gone as far as his non-Muslim predecessors, e.g. the Siege of Baghdad. Genocide was the rule in interethnic conflict in Central Asia up to the modern era, so it could hardly have been any more savage in Muslim societies to the south.

    Not much info out there on Kalmyk Christians, at least not in the Roman alphabet. Where Mongolia is concerned, I have a hard time trusting the stats because they are mainly supplied by missionaries.

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  38. Not much info out there on Kalmyk Christians, at least not in the Roman alphabet. Where Mongolia is concerned, I have a hard time trusting the stats because they are mainly supplied by missionaries.

    that’s because kalmyk xtians, like tatar xtians, get absorbed really quickly into great russian ethnicity (lenin reputedly had kalmyk blood through his mother). confused re: missionaries. you trust the missionaries more than the mongolian census? or you don’t trust them?

    As for Islam’s moderating influence, even Timurlane wouldn’t have gone as far as his non-Muslim predecessors, e.g. the Siege of Baghdad. Genocide was the rule in interethnic conflict in Central Asia up to the modern era, so it could hardly have been any more savage in Muslim societies to the south.

    it was the rule everywhere. the way islam ‘moderated’ turks is that co-religionists tended to be less brutal and eliminationist with other. it’s nothing special about islam. see: vikings & xtianity. and quoting the siege of bahgdad gets you nowhere. timur savaged both the nascent ottomans and the delhi sultante in brutal fashion.

    but rather that it’s a general characteristic of Turkish-dominant regions. Personally, I think it’s largely an environmental phenomenon — strict Islam is maladaptive for tribal northern peoples for a number of reasons. So it makes sense that Turks, once ensconced in settled, civilized countries like Iran, take on more of the attitudes and practices of their neighbors than they do in more primitive Turkic societies.

    traditionally africans have been more moderate too. also south asians (who are mostly hanafi). and indonesians. your argument here isn’t too persuasive. that being said, what about islam do you think makes it unsuited to northern climes? what are your reasons?

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  39. Bill P says:

    I don’t really trust the missionaries. It’s a business, you know. Inflating sales reports is standard practice.

    traditionally africans have been more moderate too. also south asians (who are mostly hanafi). and indonesians. your argument here isn’t too persuasive. that being said, what about islam do you think makes it unsuited to northern climes? what are your reasons?

    Survival. Ramadan during harvest season would reduce harvest during a critical time. Do you think it’s possible to effectively harvest oats or barley after the short, critical northern growing season while fasting every day? Refusal to drink grains preserved as alcoholic beverages would have denied Muslims a significant source of calories and minerals during winter. Refusal to eat pork would also cut out a good deal of game (wild boar) as well as domestic swine that can grow fat off of inedible (without laborious processing) acorns, roots and such.

    Islam has a lot of rules that northern peoples find stupid and crazy, to be frank about it. Here are just a few:

    No fish roe

    No shellfish

    No blood products (blood pudding, sausage, haggis, etc)

    No marine mammals

    No dog meat (NE Asians and Amerinds eat/ate a lot of dog)

    Have to say “Allahu akbar” out loud before shooting game (animals will hear you and get away)

    No scavenging

    No wild furs

    That’s just a few of the rules. Surviving in pre-modern northern Eurasia or N. America requires ignoring at least a couple of them in every single culture I can think of off the top of my head.

    In these places, Islam is a luxury, and so is Judaism. Christianity is much more forgiving and practical.

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  40. interesting points. though a lot of the objections are general. people have to harvest in more temperate climates too.

    No shellfish

    hard to take you seriously. shrimp is an enormous industry in the muslim nation of bangladesh. jews don’t eat shellfish, not muslims (aside from pork there are lots of debates about what is and isn’t acceptable to eat for muslims, often correlated with cultural prejudices; e.g., syrian muslims eat frog legs probably under french influence).

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  41. Bill P says:

    You only get one harvest north of 45 degrees or so, and it usually roughly coincides with Ramadan. In Yemen or Egypt they might have three throughout the year, and at least two. The Catholic Lent happens to fit perfectly with the “starving time” that northerners often face in winter/early spring. I doubt it’s an accident. Putting it in autumn would be disastrous.

    I read that Bangladeshis got some special dispensation for shellfish. Usually, it’s haram AFAIK.

    BTW, I forgot one point that may interest this site’s reader’s more than most: covering women.

    If northerners insisted on covering their daughters at all times they’d grow up with rickets, i.e. stunted and unattractive. Getting lots of full-body sun is essential during summer months for northern people.

    One funny historical anecdote about Norway has the men and women of a fishing village dressing very modestly in church on Sunday morning, and then immediately thereafter shedding all their clothes and heading down to the beach stark naked.

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  42. I read that Bangladeshis got some special dispensation for shellfish. Usually, it’s haram AFAIK.

    are you bullshitting me and making stuff up? seriously? what kind of retards do you talk to?

    http://islamqa.info/en/1919 (this is hanbali)

    http://www.answers.com/Q/Why_can’t_Muslims_eat_shellfish

    fess up. i know something about disagreements among muslims about what is, and isn’t, halal. when frog legs were brought at eid people blew a gasket. nothing like that happened with shrimp (this was a multi-ethnic sunni mosque).

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  43. Bill P says:

    Heh, you probably know more about the finer points than I do. Maybe shrimp is OK, but would they eat oysters on the half shell like we do up in the Pac NW? Would they drink clam nectar (used by Amerindian and pioneer women as a supplement during pregnancy)?

    Or, perhaps more provocatively, would they eat a geoduck?

    I’m not sure I could trust the opinion of a layman on such important matters as that! :)

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  44. i’m trying to be chill. just want to make sure you weren’t trolling. i can’t double check every reader, but i smelled serious bullshit on that assertion. don’t overrun your knowledge base on this blog. make sure you know what you are making a point.

    and oysters are more a boston thing. or at least they are more ubiquitous in boston than they are in portland. though seattle is somewhat different and might be parity.

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    • Replies: @Michelle
    I used to be a belly dancer in my youth. I dated mostly Muslims and I speak a little Arabic. I dated an Iranian "dissident" a nuclear engineering student at UC Berkeley. His brother was a nuclear engineer whose name was on the roster of engineers who designed Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant. My ex knew, because he was attending college after the Iranian revolution, that he would have a hard time getting employment at any US nuclear plant. He ended up as the manager of a Radio Shack. He was very secular and so he used to eat pork. I hated it. I hated to see it. Pork is my favorite meat, but I can't stand to see even lapsed Muslims or Jews eat it. My boss is a secular Jew and when we have retirement parties we usually go to a Cambodian restaurant and my boss will eat charbroiled pork and shrimp. I hate it. I just hate it. I guess I am a purist. Or maybe just intolerant.
  45. Bill P says:

    Just a hint: if an American knows little about halal/haram, it doesn’t mean he’s a troll; it means he’s normal. I happen to know a bit more than most, but that doesn’t mean I have “native fluency.” Learning to be Catholic was enough for me growing up.

    And Boston oysters: seriously? Their oysters taste like rubber compared to an olympia (the small, native West Coast oyster from NorCal up to SE Alaska, named after WA’s capital). I know Oregon is more clam country (littlenecks, butters and razors), but in Puget Sound and the San Juans we have oysterbeds all over. Our preferred method of eating them is straight from the sea with a drop or two of lemon juice before sliding them raw and alive down our gaping maws. They are said to promote virility. It’s a good enough excuse for me.

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  46. Don Nash says: • Website

    A “jack Mooselim” walks into a mosque during prayers and yells ‘Jews!’ Who would then be the “willing executioner?”
    Religion of just about every persuasion debases the human condition.

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  47. From a British perspective, the assumption that Western Muslims are more moderate seems really strange. I think the US is an extreme outlier here, though it may be that the UK is too the other way, with the most radical Muslim population in the developed world.

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  48. #47, reasonable. though for europeans the surveys are mostly for british, french, and german muslims. of these three the british are the most radical. but you don’t know how dutch or danish muslims would be. but yes, the pakistani british muslims in particular are quite extreme for western muslims.

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    • Replies: @Simon in London
    "#47, reasonable. though for europeans the surveys are mostly for british, french, and german muslims. of these three the british are the most radical. but you don’t know how dutch or danish muslims would be. but yes, the pakistani british muslims in particular are quite extreme for western muslims."

    My anecdotal impression is that Scandinavian Muslims are more like the French ones, mostly north-African. They seem to be less devout than British Pakistani Muslims, but probably more violent, with the black Muslims from former French African colonies probably the most violent. In Britain the newer Somali immigrants are notably more violent than the older Pakistani population.
    , @Michelle
    The way the British lower classes behave would turn me toward fundamentalist Islam. They are just gross. Watch the vice.com documentary on Ibiza. My Jordanian friend always tells me that I, being a conservative, have a lot in common with fundamentalist Muslims. I own it. A lot of British women are disgusting vile slags. I am for the freedom of women to explore their sexuality but, there seems to be a desperation to do so. The more desperate women are, the less sexually attractive they become.
  49. Razib’s insight of a number of years ago that the recent ease of making the pilgrimage to Mecca for Muslims of wealth has had a homogenizing impact on Islam seems to be key.

    All over the Islamic world, well-to-do Muslims are explaining to fellow villagers who are too poor to have made the pilgrimage, “When I was in Mecca, we did it this way …” The 747 spreads Meccan fundamentalism worldwide.

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  50. An interesting test of Razib’s theory about the pilgrimage to Mecca would be to compare post-747 Islam to pre-airliner Roman Catholicism.

    My vague impression is that the spread of railroads in 19th Century Europe may have strengthened the Pope’s hand temporarily, because affluent Catholics could visit Rome and report back that, yes, St. Peter’s really is as awe-inspiring as you’ve heard. On the other hand, in America few Catholics could afford to visit Rome (my rough impression is that most of the American visitors to Italy in the 19th Century were rich Protestants from Boston or New York), so American Catholics tended to be less subordinate to the Pope than European Catholics.

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  51. There is other problem with Ramadam – in northern (or, more exactly, more distant from equator) latitudes, “from dawn to sunset” could be much more time (if in the the spring or summer) than in Arabia.

    But, perhaps more that Islam being maladaptative in northern regions, I suspect that is more a point of being specially adaptative in desertic and hot regions – don’t eating pig or food with blood makes sense in a hot climate where food deteriorates quickly, and covering woman (and I think that the traditional arabic male clothes are not much more revealing than female clothes) could make some sense in a desertic climate, because of the sand and also because something about transpiration.

    But I think turks were also from a desertic region, then these could not explain the turkic/turkish “moderation”.

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  52. There is other problem with Ramadam – in northern (or, more exactly, more distant from equator) latitudes, “from dawn to sunset” could be much more time (if in the the spring or summer) than in Arabia.

    actually, not an issue. they use ‘mecca time’ when it’s too long (e.g., alaska).

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  53. Chuck says:

    re: “It is here that my friend Omar Ali may ask if I am perhaps giving succor to the average Fox-News-watching imbecile”

    If people can be trained to be anti-”Islamophobic”, despite inclinations otherwise, I don’t see why they couldn’t be taught to be, again despite contrary dispositions, “statistically Islmophobic” in the sense of thinking about group differences as would a good Bayesian statistician. The argument against giving ammunition to “bigots” is often made in attempt to suppress inconvenient accurate, rational stereotype, not merely distorted ones. If as much effort was made to educate about statistical thinking as is made to suppress unwanted recognition of group differences, I imagine that the “average Fox-News-watching imbecile” would cognize the situation more properly, assuming they don’t.

    re: 15. IMHO, this basically comes down to the correlation does not imply causation. Just because Muslim societies have tended to keep medieval barbarism does not imply that Islam is the cause of the retention of medieval barbarism. Or, even more simply put, Islam doesn’t suck, but Islamic societies disproportionately do suck.

    Is this a claim or a summary? Might someone check if Islam has an independent effect of social progress indexes, holding other factors (e.g., ethnicity, region, etc.) constant. I helped Emil Kirkegaard create a large data set in which we included most of the necessary variables: national % Islam, Social progress indexes, IQ, etc. http://www.emilkirkegaard.dk/megadataset

    It’s not obvious to me that Islam isn’t a causal variable, though personally I’m inclined to chalk up such differences to co-varying ethnic (genetic), cultural, and regional factors. Generally, these debates seem rather sophomoric. You have one group arguing that there really is no association between Islam and such and such outcomes because differences aren’t uniform (e.g., Indonesian Muslims behave quite differently from Arab ones). And you have other implying that there’s a causal association just because there’s a statistical one. But no one that I’m aware of has tried to determine if the clear statistical association can be attributed to co-varying factors that are not plausibly consequent to Islamic identification.

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  54. @Razib Khan
    #47, reasonable. though for europeans the surveys are mostly for british, french, and german muslims. of these three the british are the most radical. but you don't know how dutch or danish muslims would be. but yes, the pakistani british muslims in particular are quite extreme for western muslims.

    “#47, reasonable. though for europeans the surveys are mostly for british, french, and german muslims. of these three the british are the most radical. but you don’t know how dutch or danish muslims would be. but yes, the pakistani british muslims in particular are quite extreme for western muslims.”

    My anecdotal impression is that Scandinavian Muslims are more like the French ones, mostly north-African. They seem to be less devout than British Pakistani Muslims, but probably more violent, with the black Muslims from former French African colonies probably the most violent. In Britain the newer Somali immigrants are notably more violent than the older Pakistani population.

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  55. Sean says:

    It is the commonest thing in the world to blame religion for wars, but the US didn’t seem to escape a civil war, did it? Mosby/a>”I am not ashamed of having fought on the side of slavery—a soldier fights for his country—right or wrong—he is not responsible for the political merits of the course he fights in … The South was my country.”

    The cause of all this is the unbroken run of defeats suffered by the ME region, which has a youth bulge. The latest defeat is the fragmentation into statlets and consequent removal of Iraq as a factor in the politics of the region. What is actually happening is the inevitable self strengthening of the put upon: Sunnis are trying to have their own country (which would straddle current borders), and likewise the Shia part of Iraq will in effect join onto Iran.

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  56. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    There should be a complete bifurcation between Islam and the West. Get all muslims OUT of western countries and get our troops out of muslim countries.

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  57. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Brett

    When it comes to Christianity, or white males, Left liberals seem comfortable generalizing about a pattern of patriarchy or oppression, no matter that some white Christian males were at the forefront of movements such as abolitionism. Words like “problematic” or “complex” and “nuanced” don’t come up when people begin to extol upon the “white male Christian patriarchy.”
     
    You're doing exactly the same thing here. There is no "Left Liberal" consensus, only strawman caricatures of it from all-too-many conservatives.

    “Women and girls are brought with price tags for the buyers to choose and negotiate the sale,” the report said. “The buyers were said to be mostly youth from the local communities. Apparently ISIL was ‘selling’ these Yazidi women to the youth as a means of inducing them to join their ranks.”
     
    That was in a lot of the reports from Yazidi refugees, that what really hurt was when their Sunni neighbors turned on them.

    ” what really hurt was when their Sunni neighbors turned on them.”

    Which sounds a bunch like
    “but they were Moderate Muslims”

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  58. Ciao again @Sailer 50,

    I’ve never been to la Mecca, but I think it would impress a Muslim to get a sense of the Ummah, the COLLECTIVE. I imgine the atmosphere to be reverent during the rock-circling. None of the pomp and circumstance of a papal election (that’s for sure). You’ll run into as many colorful “foreigners” in Rome as I’m sure happens at La Mecca. But they’re not all doing the same thing in any forced way.

    You said:

    ….American Catholics tended to be less subordinate to the Pope than European Catholics…

    The matters of subordination have to do with issues…. dogmas, Encyclicals, statements (and now with all the press coverage, even with gaffes). You can imagine how the land of sex, drugs, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and doowop and genius cartoons full of snark… would react to a Humanae Vitae dissing birth control.

    It would take more than a visit to the Sistine Chapel to change one’s mind about birth control. And the same goes (went actually) when papal infallibility became dogma in 1870 (even Bismark got involved in that!).

    Yeah sure, a peasant from Poland would feel very “romano”… But at the same time the romani felt very Polish when Woytila snarled city traffic every Wednesday on one of his visits to bless every stinking neighborhood. His famous world visits started with infamous neighborhood visits. But then when he got involved in Poland telling the folks under Communist oppression: “Don’t be afraid!” – even the romani cursing him in pre-catalitic traffic knew he was a king (a bigtime player) and so it became noblesse oblige. Then when he died, so many Poles came to pay respects that Rome must’ve been the third largest Polish city (and they demanded that if not his body buried in Poland at least his heart should be buried there).

    I can’t imagine Mecca having – say – Indonesian influence, the way Rome had Polish influence.

    There’s a deeper current of faith going on at la Mecca… and the grandness of the setting is well matched to what spiritually goes on there (nothing). I think it’s a faith-booster whereas a visit to Rome, even when something special is going on (i.e. the Pope wishing everyone Merry Christmas in 123 languages) leaves one with memories, perhaps a certain fondness, similar to what one might feel after visiting Buckingham Palace… but hardly anything regarding subordination to the Pope.

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  59. matt says:

    What percentage of sub-Saharan African Christians hold beliefs about, say, homosexuals, that would (rightly) be considered to be beyond the pale in secular, Western society? A while back Uganda wanted to make “aggravated” homosexuality punishable by death. They didn’t end up doing that, but that was because of international diplomatic pressure, not a lack of domestic popular support for the measure.

    What percentage of South Asian Hindus or Buddhists hold unacceptably illiberal beliefs about Muslims, or any number of other topics?

    We know that national income and education levels correlates with society-wide liberalism on religious, social, cultural and religious affairs. The more poor and less educated a population is, the more likely they will be to hold stupid and wicked beliefs about certain things. What those beliefs are exactly might vary from place to place due to the predominant religion in an area, but the bare fact that they hold illiberal beliefs isn’t dependent on the specific religion they believe. There’s no reason to think that Islam, specifically, is the culprit.

    And, before we in the secular, civilized West start thinking that only poor, backward, religious Third Worlders hold stupid and wicked beliefs, remember that large majorities of Western countries have supported aggressive war (one of the worst crimes there is) waged by their governments. About 3/4s of Americans supported the invasion of Iraq initially, and only 3-4% of Israeli Jews thought that the recent slaughter in Gaza was even “excessive”; whereas 48% were satisfied with it, and 45% deemed it not bloody enough.

    In general, as Noam Chomsky has pointed out, the most destructive irrational belief systems in the 21st century are not traditional, supernaturalistic religions, but secular idolatries like nationalism, state-worship and market-worship.* But the New Atheists almost almost never criticize those, often because they themselves are adherents.

    *which isn’t to say that more traditional forms of religious belief aren’t often bound up with these heresies, to disastrous effect. But I don’t think it’s the driving force behind them in 2014

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  60. Michelle says:
    @Razib Khan
    Hi Razib, no bueno to your last paragraph. It’s like a black guy whistling Vivaldi when cops are near or Japanese in the US who said they were Chinese during WWII. It didn’t help them any. I’m not saying people of color are still systematically oppressed on a level, but it’s disrespectful and distancing to other people.

    that's a retarded analogy. some of my recent ancestors were hindu. it's a religion. you can change it. yes, other retards can't make a distinction, but then they'd beat you up on any pretext anyhow. can't help that.

    It’s kicking the can down to people that you feel are weaker, and people of color do it all the time.

    you need to not have white people in mind all the time. it's not all about them. muslims and hindus can kill each other fine without white arbiters in south asia.

    Thanks for that, Razib. I may be out of touch with the types of whites who even say “Red China” anymore, even though China still is pretty red, but I have met hundreds of Chinese and yet I have never ever known a Mainland Chinese person to claim they are, “Taiwanese, dissidents, or American born”. That is laughable. Mainland Chinese think they are the creme de la creme as do the Taiwanese and people from Hong Kong. Not one of them would ever claim to be from somewhere else. They have a lot of pride. I knew one stuck up Taiwanese girl in Jr high, Tsu-Weng, and she would tell all the Chinese kids, ” I am not Chinese, I’m Taiwanese.” That’s cuz she was Taiwanese. Though I guess she had a right to be stuck up, since she graduated from Harvard Med. In any case, no ignorant white person, even war vets, who called China, Red China, would know the difference between Chinese from Taiwan, Mainland China or Hong Kong and the accents would give away anyone claiming to be, “American born.” I call shenanigans on Myra.

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  61. Michelle says:
    @Razib Khan
    i'm trying to be chill. just want to make sure you weren't trolling. i can't double check every reader, but i smelled serious bullshit on that assertion. don't overrun your knowledge base on this blog. make sure you know what you are making a point.

    and oysters are more a boston thing. or at least they are more ubiquitous in boston than they are in portland. though seattle is somewhat different and might be parity.

    I used to be a belly dancer in my youth. I dated mostly Muslims and I speak a little Arabic. I dated an Iranian “dissident” a nuclear engineering student at UC Berkeley. His brother was a nuclear engineer whose name was on the roster of engineers who designed Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant. My ex knew, because he was attending college after the Iranian revolution, that he would have a hard time getting employment at any US nuclear plant. He ended up as the manager of a Radio Shack. He was very secular and so he used to eat pork. I hated it. I hated to see it. Pork is my favorite meat, but I can’t stand to see even lapsed Muslims or Jews eat it. My boss is a secular Jew and when we have retirement parties we usually go to a Cambodian restaurant and my boss will eat charbroiled pork and shrimp. I hate it. I just hate it. I guess I am a purist. Or maybe just intolerant.

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  62. Michelle says:
    @Razib Khan
    #47, reasonable. though for europeans the surveys are mostly for british, french, and german muslims. of these three the british are the most radical. but you don't know how dutch or danish muslims would be. but yes, the pakistani british muslims in particular are quite extreme for western muslims.

    The way the British lower classes behave would turn me toward fundamentalist Islam. They are just gross. Watch the vice.com documentary on Ibiza. My Jordanian friend always tells me that I, being a conservative, have a lot in common with fundamentalist Muslims. I own it. A lot of British women are disgusting vile slags. I am for the freedom of women to explore their sexuality but, there seems to be a desperation to do so. The more desperate women are, the less sexually attractive they become.

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  63. I don’t have suggestions for my Middle Eastern friends, but for South Asians there’s an easy recourse: bow down before the idols of your ancestors.

    That is a great suggestion for Persians as well. Islam is a foreign Arab colonial import after all, and Persia is an ancient country with a rich indigenous religous tradition including Zoroastrianism and Nestorian Christianity (now extinct?).

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    • Replies: @Snake Charmer
    Very true. Persians were a great civilization before Islam burst upon them. For the Ancient Greeks and Romans, Persia was The East. It was against Persia that they juxtaposed and analysed their own, i.e. the Western civilization. Persia was the representative Asian nation. Empires founded by Persians frequently spilled deep into Europe and covered parts of modern China, simultaneously! And post Islam, Persia has been reduced to a rump state forever struggling to make itself visible in a sea of Muslim states around it.
  64. @Peter Akuleyev
    I don’t have suggestions for my Middle Eastern friends, but for South Asians there’s an easy recourse: bow down before the idols of your ancestors.

    That is a great suggestion for Persians as well. Islam is a foreign Arab colonial import after all, and Persia is an ancient country with a rich indigenous religous tradition including Zoroastrianism and Nestorian Christianity (now extinct?).

    Very true. Persians were a great civilization before Islam burst upon them. For the Ancient Greeks and Romans, Persia was The East. It was against Persia that they juxtaposed and analysed their own, i.e. the Western civilization. Persia was the representative Asian nation. Empires founded by Persians frequently spilled deep into Europe and covered parts of modern China, simultaneously! And post Islam, Persia has been reduced to a rump state forever struggling to make itself visible in a sea of Muslim states around it.

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