Comment of the Day: “The Washington Post Tries To Hide A Muslim Attack From Its Readers: What’s Going On Here? Or Rather, What The HELL Is Going On Here?”

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Rich (in CT) delivers his second Comment of the Day this month, as he delves into the complex ethical considerations affecting our understanding of the relationship between Islam and Islamic terrorists. (President Obama’s delusion notwithstanding, “What relationship?” is neither an honest nor responsible position.)  This is really two comments from Rich over the past 24 hours. Fascinating, thoughtful and helpful.

Here is Rich’s double-Comment of the Day, on the post, The Washington Post Tries To Hide A Muslim Attack From Its Readers: What’s Going On Here? Or Rather, What The HELL Is Going On Here?:

The difference with a Christian abortion clinic bomber over even a true “lone wolf” Muslim bomber/attacker/etc is that with the former the vast, VAST majority of Christians here and abroad would loudly, LOUDLY, denounce the attack. Pro-Life organizations nationwide would denounce; the Pope would denounce; even the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople might denounce! There would be no reasonable doubt that such an attack was an isolated anomaly. It would be utterly rejected by all mainstream Christians.

When Islamic extremists attack, there is no similar worldwide denunciation. The Grand Ayatollah issues no denunciation; the King of Saudi Arabia, one of the credible claimants to the Caliphate, issues no denunciation; not even the Palestinian Authority adequately denounces rockets fired from within its borders. Let’s face it; the media is so saturated with Muslim sympathy, that they are not merely leaving such comments unreported; they are unreported because the they are unmade!

I do not for a minute believe that these oppressive governments represent all Muslims; even the majority of Muslims. I hate that peaceful Muslims here and abroad get lumped in with the violent minority (especially when many left to ESCAPE said violence and oppression). I find it especially frustrating that many of these governments were propped by First and Second World nations as part of a global chess game during the Cold War (potentially crowding out moderate factions). However, the deafening silence when Muslims commit violence in the name of Islam makes the claim that these attacks are mere “lone wolves” not credible.

These “lone wolves” are motivated to lash out in a manner that they believe will be socially acceptable. Yes, by definition, they must be “unstable” to believe that blowing people up is “socially acceptable”. However, in Nazi Germany, it became socially acceptable to murder Jews; would Jews be slaughtered if the Nazis did not implicitly endorse such behavior? In Soviet Russia it became socially acceptable to persecute Christians; would priests have been sent to the Gulags if the authorities did not implicitly endorse such behavior?

There is thus a pattern established across cultures of violent behavior spreading when not condemned by credible authorities. Both German and Russians are “White” cultures, yet they devolved into inhuman endorsement of unjustifiable violence. It is thus not racist to observe that when Muslim authority figures do not feel the need to condemn attacks, the unstable among them feel at liberty to attack. Violence following silence is a universal human trait.

There are some true lone wolves out there; those who lash out because of rejection or perceived reject from society. The number of these cases is vanishingly small; the motive is almost always a desire to belong.

The call for an end to violence must originate from within a community to be credible. Much of the media tends to be liberal, and thus overlaps considerably with atheist or at least secular community; they have no credibility trying to teach what a “Good Muslim” is to those who are religiously observant in anyway. They do have a duty to report the news without bias, even if unfavorable news, so that Muslims and others know what needs to be corrected.

When Irish Catholics in New Haven experienced discrimination in the late 1800’s for allegedly being a drunken, slovenly bunch, a young priest among them founded the Knights of Columbus to give direction to the men who worked dangerous jobs, and drank their misery away. The priest, himself of humble origins, had the credibility to engage them, and direct them into civic engagement that actively countered the real behavior behind the stereotypes.

Muslims need to similarly engage each other in productive directions, while condemning and rejecting the violent directions. This can only come from within, not from without.

I urge caution when wading into the theology of other religions. For hundreds of years, Islamic nations were at the forefront of culture and sciences; the religion thus certainly does not inherently promote backwards thinking.

The decentral nature of Islam, more than anything, likely allows its image to be so easily used to justify violence. To the outsider, the leadership is very opaque. I spent quite a bit of time trying to untangle how Islam works, and still feel I have only scratched the surface.

At its core, Islam is about personal devotion to God. There is no mediator or church (at least in Sunni Islam). One need only formally profess one’s belief in God as taught by his prophet, and one becomes a Muslim. However, through study of scripture and Islamic traditions, one may become a “scholar” and gain influence by peer recognition of one’s knowledge and wisdom. These scholars offer their interpretations of scripture for a given situation, and other Muslims accept or reject their interpretations. (How this translates to the ownership of mosques or the need for a Caliph, I am still unclear…)

Peer recognition is at the heart of Islam. It is thus imperative that moderate devotees who see Islam as a “religion of peace” to speak up and explain their reasoning, and bring others into their fold. If the moderates gain the respect of the overwhelming majority, the extremists and/or terrorists loose their credibility; the motivation to impress others with violence diminishes.

13 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “The Washington Post Tries To Hide A Muslim Attack From Its Readers: What’s Going On Here? Or Rather, What The HELL Is Going On Here?”

  1. Okay, I’m going to have to call bullshit on one simple point: the media tends to be “liberal, and thus overlaps considerably with [the] atheist or at least secular community…”

    Excuse me!?!

    I’m sorry, but this is a massive non-sequitur. It… simply does not follow. It makes no sense whatsoever as an argument.

    It’s true that a lot of the atheist and secular communities are fed up with the Republican party. It isn’t true that this is due to appreciable liberalism. In fact, a very large segment of the atheist community is libertarian.

    The reason there are very few atheists in the religious right, however, should be rather obvious. This has nothing whatsoever to do with liberalism.

    • I don’t know, most of the popular “gnu atheists” gurus (Myers, Adams, etc.) do identify themselves as politically liberal, and are nearly as passionate about liberalism as they are atheism. There seem to be more conservative/libertarian atheists in Europe (most of the neo-Nazi or Scandinavian death-metal crowd), but here in the United States I’d guess the Venn diagram of liberals and atheists would look roughly like a circle.

      • The data set is from 1992, but it shows pretty clearly that at least historically, a significant minority of American atheists lean conservative/libertarian, with about 40% believing welfare payments were too high in that year (the blogger himself is a self-described atheist reactionary): http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2012/10/atheist-conservatives-and-libertarians-are-not-rare/#.VOp3DSwYEbg

        That being said, atheists definitely do lean more Democratic (though less so than African-Americans), but there are a number of notable non-Democratic atheists as well (just like there are still some notable black conservatives).

      • Umm… no; see what Julian said… although I will add that, in the context of American politics and its de facto two-party system, being fed up with one party tends to drive you to the other one (which, err, I at least partially addressed with my “fed up with the Republicans” bit above).

        That said, you can’t argue “the media leans left; visible atheists in the media lean left; therefore, the media is atheist” (which is an admittedly simplified version of the argument posed by your comment in the context of the original post). Logic simply doesn’t work that way.

        • Appreciate Rich (CT)’s amplification of Muslim influence structure, not least the work that went into researching his thesis. I hadn’t previously considered “peer recognition” to be a force in Islam. As a solution to socially reigning in the outlaws, however, I wonder if that recognition carries any real political power or if it is reserved more for scholars. And if those scholars, themselves, are able to be leaders (rather than some leaders having a background in Islamic scholarship).

          The second example I can think of is the scandal of Rotherham, England where revelations years after “at least” 1,400 children were sexually exploited by the activities of its male Islamic (Pakistani) peers, coupled with “bullying, sexism, suppression and misplaced ‘political correctness’,” [that’s the lefty Guardian saying ‘misplaced’] had intimidated the whole community and corrupted an entire city government. In this case, when given full rein, the activities of a few male Muslims became so damning and dangerous for all its residents that the city’s council has (finally) been taken over by the Central Government.

          The first example, a bit closer to home, are the sexual abuse scandals that have been shredding the fabric of Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, and others, since arrests (absent any publicity) began in 2009. This has been going on for generations; there was talk about it when I was a child. No peer rebellion or reasoning seems to have come about, much less made a change. …. Only the vagaries of some priests of the Catholic church have been exposed to date, — exposed, I dare say, arguably because the revelations referred primarily to male victimization.

          And I am in full agreement with Alexander Cheezem that the inclusion of atheists as automatically aligned with liberalism is incorrect, indeed superfluous. Only a democratic freedom that encourages the teaching and promotion of individual thought and choice along with cooperation — (free-thinking, in fact) the ability to form opinions on the basis of reason independent of authority, INCLUDING being able to doubt or deny religious dogma — only this environment seems to engender peer responsibility. It doesn’t come from the bottom up, or the top down/political party or other line, but grows from the individual outward.

          And that’s as close as I get to blind patriotism.

    • Yes, I conquer that the point is written poorly, needlessly claiming a connection between the media and atheism. The religious beliefs (or lack) of the “liberal” media is mostly irrelevant. It is the external values, or at least a subset, that the media promotes that are at odds with the values held by a conservatively minded Muslim. This conflict of values makes the media’s opinion, and our socially liberal President’s opinion of who is a “good” or “true” Muslim irrelevant.

  2. I tried to figure out exactly how many abortion-clinic bombings had been committed by Christians in the U.S., and the total ended up being something like 3. Of the very few clinic bombings that have ever occurred, some were not religion-related at all (one was a father of an aborted baby.) I can’t think of a more baseless connection (postal workers kill people?)

  3. Part of the issue is that the Muslim world is currently in sort of a tumultuous cultural transition (the Middle Eastern part in particular), where there’s no big agreement on right/wrong (and which is not made easier by the fact that Islamic groups and governments alike are often politicians first, Muslims second). Related to that, my suspicion is that more liberal Muslims tend to be, perhaps not surprisingly, more individualistic (and less organized) in their responses than their more backwards, mob-minded brethren; for example, there were actually a lot of Muslims (particularly cartoonists) who spoke up against the attack on the Charlie Hebdo headquarters (Palestinian Iyad el-Baghdadi had a particularly good one: “As a Muslim, killing innocent people in the name of Islam is much, much more offensive to me than any cartoon can ever be.”). Heck, even Hezbollah of all groups denounced the attackers (if only to score points against their Sunni rivals, which relates to my earlier point about the whole thing being muddled by politics). But unlike their whiny brethren protesting against freedom of speech, whom (in the West at least) tend to congregate into their own very noticeable protest blocs, I suspect any liberals attending demonstrations tend to get lost in the greater crowd.

    • I think when you’re looking at the people standing on the sidelines, the people actively denouncing attacks like Charlie Hebdo aren’t nearly as telling as the people nodding their heads and smiling.

      Silent approval is easy. Probably the easiest action to take. It literally requires nothing. And time after time Pew and Gallup polls of Muslim communities show a very vibrant section of people who agree in whole or in part with actions of extremists. Ben Shapiro did a rather neat breakdown of the numbers. (http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2014/09/04/myth-tiny-radical-minority/)

      And that’s why I don’t really care who comes out and scores political points by denouncing terrorism… They just aren’t as important as the people who cheer silently.

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