Saturday, February 04, 2006

Blog Blowback from Dean Esmay

As has been known to happen from time to time in the right-o-center political blogosphere a blow-back on a dominant theme happens. I think this trend occurs some of the time because we bloggers are an opinionated lot and if we disagree we have to rally our troops. I also think some of us in the world-o-blog just don’t like following some one else’s lead in the big dance. Dean I think is best representing the Blow-Back at the moment so I am going to go into a lot of different factors. Now once again it is time for a Larry disclosure of DOOM…..

Larry is not a Christian; Larry does not believe their ever was a historical Jesus, Larry does not agree with Christian theology. Larry is not a Muslim; most of Larry’s interest in the Middle East was fueled from a Israeli-centered approach. Larry does not have any major religion he calls a home; Larry went through a period of his life where he thought it was valid to bash religions for their flaws. Larry didn’t like the P*** Christ or that picture of the Virgin Mary made of elephant dung; Larry did not like them because they used public money to get made and didn’t remotely qualify as artistic (and yes I know art school hippies make anything artistic well they are wrong and need beaten with my hippie beating stick)

Boortz is a major part of Dean’s Blow back and I am going to first present the flaws in the Boortz position first, then address Dean’s flawed argument. The way Muslim society governs matters of a religious basis is as Schizophrenic as the Muslim community itself. The general rules I am going to talk about and the facts of life are going to be two different things. The general rules tend to be about applications of soft power and the facts of life are hard power.

Generally speaking very few religious leaders have the authority/respect to speak for “Islam” in a given region. And in the broken and disjointed Islamic community they have other Islamic leaders who share their worldview to think about. If part of the clerical council of the US makes an edict they have to worry what the Sunni Clerical leaders at Al-Azar will say. In some sense it is a lot like the American judiciary except there everyone is a strict constructionist. So these leaders speak “for Islam” on a narrow area of matters and only when it will have a serious impact on the lives of their followers.

As such authority is generally in the hands of a very few (usually very old) cabal of clerics many Muslims feel that going out and saying Bin Laden is not behaving as a Muslim is challenging the authority and proper role of these people and they don’t do it. Some do but they get a lot more criticism from these folks (It is wrong for them to speak out to their religious ethics Bin Laden but people who challenge Clerical authority are fair game)

The facts of life however is that Separation of Mosque and state does not exist in the Islamic world. The closest Christian Parallel is the role of the Emperor on Byzantine Orthodox Christians back in the days of Byzantium. Even in the days of the middle ages Western Christianity has had a separation of Church and state though not in our modern sense. The Catholic Church fought for many years to establish its independence and primacy in Western Europe. In so doing it did open the door a crack for folks like Martin Luther to lead to the revolution in Church-State relations we in the “western” world enjoy today.

Now I could make the theological argument for why there is no like concept in the Muslim world but there is (to my reasoning) a much more important POLITICAL reasoning. The Mosque is the only place any relative freedom to assemble has existed in the Muslim cultural context. As such a Mosque that lacks state control is a problem. This has been made worse By Nasserites/Arab-Socialism (The folks who are running Egypt, Syria, and formerly Iraq). So control of the Mosque is vital for the state if it wishes to survive.

So by and large the state builds the mosques, and the state censors the religious speech of the clerics –within and without- the mosque complex. I could not as a Muslim Cleric go to the lead mosque in Jeddah and say “Death to the Al-Sauds” because if I did I’d get drug out almost immediately and stoned to death or shot by the authorities for deviating from the script. Now then…… I could say “Death to Israel” 7 times every meeting. “Death to America” a little more dicey but depending on how I do it I could get away with it.  This serves a second benefit to the Islamic state there is a great deal of wealth in the hands of the rulers and a great deal of poverty in the hands of the people. And dictators throughout human history know some one must be blamed other then –me-

Now the state isn’t stupid either. If the Jordanian government prevented protests and Anti-Al Qaeda clerical work after the Wedding bombing in Amman the national outrage could force an end to the Monarchy. But if the Monarchy was seen as behind the drive to fight the national outrage the people would for a time have better feelings about the Monarchy. In Morocco we saw the same thing.

The exception to this rule has been in reconstruction Iraq in transition to becoming its own full fledged state again. During this time protests are much more free and much more organic. The Sunni and Shiite mosques have a degree of independence then they ever had, or may ever have again to lead people and lead their political speech. In Iraq the protests against the terrorist violence and Islamic extremism that we in “the west” want to see. This is where Boortz and those like him are wrong. And this is why outrage and protests are so big in the Middle East based on things like this and the Newsweek article. “They (the west) try to steal all your stuff but they even come after the prophet Mohammed to… go get them. (Goes off to the Money Bin to dive into their big pool of money)”

And the above statement is going to sound really funny towards the end here… But I have to go now towards Dean for a moment.

Dean Starts off with some moments of Muslims going against Terror and here he has some problems. We have CAIR after September 11th. Some problems are of course that Boortz wasn’t talking about the western world-Muslim and that’s pretty clear. Also CAIR is part of the Muslim Brotherhood…a farking terrorist organization. But this is CAIR decrying the acts on September 11th. This is not CAIR denouncing all acts of terror and violence against civilians as a method of political expression…so that fails to meet the standard Boortz was setting anyway.

Another of his statement’s rejecting terrorism does not reject acts of violence against civilians as a means of achieving politics. And while it says it is not proper in Islamic religious practice it is not an Islamic religious document so it can be ignored at the leisure of any Muslim who chooses to do so. It only addresses Bin Laden and does not go into any of the groups say going against Israel and Russia. It only addresses the American audience and not that these crimes are wrong –period-. Also no Muslim religious leader who has the credibility in the Islamic world to make proclamations of a religious nature has signed on to this document

Another document speaks on religious studies scholars opinion and scholars of Islamic theology which is NOT the same thing boortz was asking for. Nor do they have the standing to make the kind of voice that is needed for the kind of sweeping claim that is presented about it.

Many of these statements are specific to September 11th and not Terrorism as a whole.

Now THIS article starts to almost get into some of the actual kind of religious outrage that Boortz is asking for……but almost is the key

“All Muslims ought to be united against all those who terrorize the innocents, and those who permit the killing of non-combatants without a justifiable reason.”

This is from a Fatwa from some Egyptian/Qatari/and Syrian Clerics. In addition to NOT denouncing terror it goes further

“[It is] necessary to apprehend the true perpetrators of these crimes, as well as those who aid and abet them through incitement, financing or other support.”

Remember how back’n the Middle East some Crazy folks we saying it was really a Mossad Plot. Yeah same stuff here…

Here is the Fatwa

This is the reply to the (religious) inquiry presented by Mr. Muhammad Abdur-Rashid, the most senior Muslim chaplain in the American Armed forces. It concerns the permissibility of the Muslim military personnel within the US armed forces to participate in the war operations and its related efforts in Afghanistan and elsewhere in other Muslim countries.
In his question he states that the goals of the (war) operations are:
1) Retaliation against those "who are thought to have participated" in planning and financing the suicide operations on September 11th, against civilian and military targets in New York and Washington (he then detailed the consequences of these operations.)
2) Eliminating the elements that use Afghanistan and elsewhere as safe haven, as well as deterring the governments which harbor them, sanction them, or allow them the opportunity for military training in order to achieve their goals around the world.
3) Restoring the veneration and respect to the US as a sole superpower in the world.
Furthermore, he concludes his inquiry by mentioning that the number of the Muslim military personnel, in the three branches of the American armed forces, exceeds fifteen thousand soldiers. Hence, if they refuse to participate in fighting, they will have no choice but to resign, which might also entail other consequences. Finally, he asks if it is permissible, to those who can transfer, to serve in different capacities other than direct fighting.
Take a look at #3…. That’s putting a key taint from a religious angle on the US actions. The Senior US Military Chaplin doesn’t say “If Muslims are responsible” either.
#2 is the only Neutral/Pro US part of the question. But back to the Fatwa
God (glory be to He) said: " Because of that We ordained unto the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a human being - unless it be in punishment for murder or for spreading mischief on earth- it would be as though he killed all of humanity; whereas, if anyone saved a life, it would be as though he saved the life of all humanity.
I am not sure the exact context of Mischief is in Koranic theology however Muslim theology treats killing in war, killing for self defense, and those things as different then murder. So here he isn’t addressing IS terrorism murder, or Is it war.
Hence, whoever violates these pointed Islamic texts is an offender deserving of the appropriate punishment according to their offence and according to its consequences for destruction and mischief.
And religiously it is permissible to kill for violation of the Koran. So here we see the Fatwa fails to address that issue as well again.
If the terrorist acts that took place in the US were considered by the Islamic Law (Shar'iah) or the rules of Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh), the ruling for the crime of "Hirabah" (waging war against society) would be applied to their doers. God (Glory be to He) said: "The recompense of those who wage war against God and His Messenger and do mischief on earth is only that they shall be killed or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off from opposite sides, or be exiled from the land. That is their disgrace in this world, and a great torment is theirs in the Hereafter. Except for those who (having fled away and then) came back with repentance before they fall into your power; (in that case) know that God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."  5: 33-34
Again the Fatwa is not addressing the propriety of the act of terror. Which is why it leads into the way above quoted section of the article about it being a religious duty to bring the perpetrators to justice because they would have to –judge- their actions to see if they were proper… thus this Fatwa does not say Terrorism is bad, it says we need to see who did it and have them judged properly but the Fatwa is tied to “Is it permissible for American Muslims to fight in this war”
So it fails on that route.

Another bit of irony here is in this nugget

Shaykh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, spiritual guide of Shi‘i Muslim radicals in Lebanon, said he was “horrified” by these “barbaric ... crimes”: “Beside the fact that they are forbidden by Islam, these acts do not serve those who carried them out but their victims, who will reap the sympathy of the whole world. ... Islamists who live according to the human values of Islam could not commit such crimes.”
The leader of Hezbollah was decrying crimes HE HAS ORDERED. But from some one else. This is in a document purporting to be Muslims against terror which shows the flaw of this western type of approach.

The Saudi religious leaders quoted do not use the Koran and Islamic law to say “terrorism is wrong” and as I pointed out with the control the state has over the mosque these acts during the aftermath of September 11th are of questionable character. Now a Saudi fatwa occurs in 2003…. You remember 03 that’s when Al-Qaeda started to take the fight to Saudi Arabia…again the state trumps here.
And those religious leaders who address it scope it in talking about murder but ignore (often purposefully) was what happened –murder-. They do not make that religious declaration until (as it happened with the Saudi’s) the murderers come to their doorstep
So this set of sites fails to meet the standards Dean claims it does. Now I am with Dean that the good guys are indeed winning over there progressively…but that’s not the root of the Boortz Argument.

Dean also brings up the fact Muslims are most often victims of terrorism…. But that’s not relevant to the point. Indeed the fact that they are most likely the victims of terror in the last few years is exactly why the tide of public opinion is shifting our way…but the fact that since 03ish the attack has started to hit them their have been few if any sweeping attacks on the use of theology by Bin Laden and his ilk. And usually it hedges itself in such a way that the rebuke is extremely limited. When it comes to Muslim Heartland folk their really needs to be a Martin Luther to make these changes so their can be a voice against terrorism. Until then we see the state defending its parochial interests and leaving the door open to fuel this theology elsewhere as a matter to aid their foreign policies.
Now Dean tries to turn this whole thing around on the Christians as many pseudo-intellectual arguments do its fallacious. Modern Islamic extremism is a form of nationalism born in the early 20th century at the hay day of nationalist movements. It however puts nationalism on the Islamic theological concept of the UMMAH/ Dar-Al-Islam. There is no concept comparable in Christian Theology so the argument fails out the gate. The closest concept to that is New Jerusalem and that can only work with some one who could convince a LOT of folks he is Jesus (last guy to come close –and he didn’t even say he was Jesus- was Joseph Smith… and I don’t think of Mormons as Christians either)
However his example fails further. In the US the Christian church has never had a model with the state anything remotely similar to the model the Mosque has in the Islamic world. That unique role fuels Islamism and fuels the dictatorial powers of many Muslim states.
It fails further as rare are the Christian communities which do not give the believing Christian the ability to question the orthodoxy of a brother Christian.
I can get into socio-political differences which further make this comparison invalid but let’s get to the Nut of it.
Christian Identity groups don’t practice enough core Christian theologies to count as Christians in any real sense. They say they do but I can also say I am President of the Galaxy but that doesn’t mean I’ll be getting any money from Proxima Centuari any time soon.
The KKK has since the 1920s been a Nationalist organization that uses Christian symbolism as a recruiting tool. It used the church to get recruits but it did not use the church to sanction lynchings / fire bombings/ and the like. In the earlier days of the Klan the identity was focused on the Pre-Civil War days and not on Jesus so you fail again.
Bringing up the use of African tribes of their new Christian identity to fill roles a shaman probably filled before good Christian folks taught them about Jesus also fails to meet the standard you set in this argument which –in my opinion- isn’t the kind of Dean Esmay I’ve come to expect.
But now we get to the Esmay-Hewitt link up getting to the nut of this about the cartoons. And this is very very important.
Do you want the right to say what you want? Do you want the first amendment to mean any d@mned thing? Then you best hope you don’t catch on transnationally. Suing folks in the UK using their laws is a threat to free speech. The fact the greeks can throw a Briton in jail for blasphemy against Jesus is a threat to free speech. The Canadian government could consider haling in American bloggers for their free speech. The fact protests in Amman can force the US government to criticize free speech is a threat to our free speech.
Either the liberty in the first amendment matters or Transnationalism matters that is the root of all this dispute. The White House could have had a teachable moment and showcases the cartoons bringing up the most horrible libels of anti-Semitism and anti-Christian bigotry. Could have brought up anti-black cartoons from South America and the Middle East and said “Is this the kind of dialogue we want?” but instead of an enlightened response a knee jerk response comes up and that’s the problem.
We need to come up with an international consensus that allows free speech to exist in a real form. But we don’t really respect it any here so that’s why that doesn’t happen.
Do these cartoons attack the Prophet? Certainly but I must go to the words of a brave Jordanian who I think puts this all into the proper context
"What brings more prejudice against Islam, these caricatures or pictures of a hostage-taker slashing the throat of his victim in front of the cameras or a suicide bomber who blows himself up during a wedding ceremony in Amman?" wrote Jihad Momani.
That is what these cartoons were all about. People bringing back Muhammad the Warlord and using him as their justification for vile behaviors like honor killings. He played many other roles but they need to be filtered into the context of both his behaviors at the time and the needs of the Muslim faithful today.
They need the Prophet Muhammad who was a wise arbiter; they need the Prophet Muhammad who governed wisely not the Prophet Muhammad who killed, brutalized, raped, and enslaved people. Which Muhammad would you want to be?
This is where the blowback against these Danish cartoons goes off the rails. We need to respect the Islamic culture…but we don’t need to accept cultural delusion. Not in ourselves, nor in them. These guys in Denmark did disrespect the Prophet, but by tolerating and abetting an ideology of hatred and murder so did you. The codes governing the Dhimmi in the days of Islamic weakness not only disrespect the Prophet but those days when Islam was truly a great culture and the seat of the world. In those days you allowed great freedom to Jews and Christians along with other “People of the book”. So since when you are doing weak you treat them with scorn and as sub-humans are you really obeying the prophet or are you following the weaknesses in your heart the prophet would decry?
You see that there? That’s the kind of cultural dialogue that –HAS- to but will not happen because the cult of political correctness has strangled the sense we have in this world.
Which sadly finds me making the exact same argument the Islamists make against the western society….
These cartoons bring up a lot of complex problems. The people who oppose the view “Islam is a religion of peace” are not bigots nor are those who cower to Islamic outrage over the cartoons enlightened.
Get over yourselves people, and get real

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