Calling Yourself Liberal and Religious won’t MAKE You a Good Person

PartyPlayFairDemo

Today we have two re-writes of older articles that seem very relevant today:

First, we will take the “Liberals” as well as the “Conservatives” to task for partisan hypocrisy…

Nowadays the word Liberal is often used as a pejorative; I often use it that way myself for good reasons.

Yet I am a moderate, and probably spend about 40% of the time cursing the idiocy of the Left, and 60% of it complaining and worrying about the Right (It is too bad there are not more real conservative minds in the Conservative camp these days.). Of the two the Conservatives tend to scare me a bit more but the Leftists in total power would be/ have been worse. But the actions of the radicals on either side do not condemn entire schools of thought to a mature mind.  This should be remembered by pundits on both sides in this age of attack politics.

 Lately a radically Conservative group has taken over almost all the political voice of conservative American Christianity.  They have used their pulpit to propound, and pound in, their own view of history, and how Christianity has influenced the development of the United States as a nation.

 They are not actually lying about the influence of the churches. The problem is that they have forgotten from just where in the Church all that influence came.  Yes, it was those damn liberals every time!

 In American history, every time the religious culture has had a profound positive influence (as judged by successive generations) on changes in society those influences have their roots in the Liberal-to-Radical churches. They most certainly did not come from the Conservative ones!

 The Conservative Churches in every case have held the line with the status quo through history whether it was regarding the Revolution, slavery, child labor, workers rights, racial equality or now, gay rights.  Yet the Conservative Churches of today want to shine their halos with the contributions made for the most part by the Liberal Churches of the past.

This activity is not unique to Christianity by any means.  A Radical Conservative Jew will spend much energy telling you about Judaism’s amazing contributions to Western society, but will refuse to see that his brand of thinking never produced any of it.  Find a Conservative Imam, and you will find a man eager to convince you that Islam has been an enormously positive contributor to civilization over the centuries.  But if you remind him that blind faithfulness to Islam’s Conservative philosophy had nothing to do with the various periods of (heretically liberal) Islamic glory that he is polishing up for you to admire; he may even take offense.

  In every case where religious and political power intermingle the things that modern world civilization would call progress has only come when the dominant Church(s) is(are) liberal to the point of being heretical (to the parent dogmas and doctrines), tolerant and more focused on understanding, accepting and spreading the “love behind the Law” rather than promoting a zero-tolerance attitude regarding adherence to the “Letter of the Law.”

But only stagnation and decay ensue when the Churches are conservative and cling to a memory, or fictitious ideal, of “the way it should be.”

 It should be noted that Conservative religious thought can have a greatly positive influence on society but, that usually the effects remain chiefly negative.

 Witness: the defense of slavery, and the stances of “Godly” preachers and priests against child labor laws, and minority civil rights laws.

Witness: the attempts at forced, coerced and violent conversions directed at any people of another religion that are under the influence of a politicized religion (theocracies, inquisitions, shari’a states).

 We all admit that Conservatism is designed to be highly successful at keeping the wheels of a society turning. Who but a fool will deny that there is a true virtue most times in maintaining most of the status quo; Leftists take note of the qualifications and keep your straw men to yourselves – I am not Christian, and never have been a Republican, or supporter of either Bush.

 But, it also must be admitted that Conservative governments and organizations have a poor track record when attempting to grease those wheels, to make accommodation for the fact that seems “odd“, “weird“, “different” to the average mind; whether the ideas are good ones or not!

When the going gets rough or to be a creative inspiration for the people who bear the main burdens of pushing the cart of civilization further, faster and safer than our ancestors ever believed it could go Conservatives can be of more a drag chain when they should be acting like the regenerative brakes that go with a hybrid engine.

 Conservative ideology certainly does not allow real flaws in the basic social system to be changed without a protracted, and often ugly, fight with the liberal mindset who are busy finding things that are not really broken to make into really nasty situations with well-meaning new laws and more, and more, and more tension from enforcement, and less and less elbow room for the well-intentioned citizen just trying to get along and improve their lives.

 Without a Liberal element in society, one that has enough influence to smack the current bosses on the head now and then but, not enough to dominate society  a person lives in what is at best a well upholstered slave camp destined to fade into the dust of history.

And…

Without a Conservative element at the core to give perspective and balance a people will… well, just look at the aftermath of every single revolution in the past – the American revolution was actually a colony revolt – it was an independently evolving, functioning society that broke away from the parent nation/culture rather than an indigenous movement to topple all the central power structures and replace them ad hoc with unproven or dis-proven but, “much better” institutions; not long after they succeed the real bloodshed is just beginning!

 Who was it again that decreed with proven ‘Holy Authority‘ that all human problems can, and may, only be solved by a totally Left-wing or totally Right-wing ideology? When did admitting that your Party’s platform cannot solve all problems if followed by “good” people?

The voting public needs to take off their trendy, strait-jackets/sheep-outfits, grow up, and look at reality – of the real kind, rather than the oh-so-importantly-unimportant political sort – and then find the ideal solutions, not the solutions that serve your political tribe while walking over everyone else’s Lives’, Liberties, and frantic Pursuits of Happiness.

Through the Eyes of a Muslimah: a Poem

I recently read a poem aboout women in Afghanistan that inspired me to write this one about all Muslim women under Shari’a law.

When the Shari’a is Law
(Through the eyes of a Muslimah)

Religious Organization Dedicated to Subversion Invades America

Since 9/11 most Americans have become aware that there are forces in the world that do not share our love of Freedom and Constitutional Democracy. More and more of us have remembered that it is our duty as Americans to remain vigilant against all who would take from us that which makes us unique in the world: The Constitution.

Recently it has come to my attention that there is a group operating in the U.S. that has openly advocated the legislative overthrow of the U.S. Constitution and our way of life.

Furthermore, this un-American organization is openly hostile to modern Western laws regarding women, children and gays. They freely declare their distrust and fear of anyone who does not follow their narrow faith.

In full view of the media they mock the concept of Republican Democracy. Anywhere their allies attain a voting majority they are constantly agitating to impose their own strict religious laws on the local public.

They hypocritically exhort their followers to use the First Amendment to force their views into the schools and workplace. They also teach them how to use the Establishment Clause to keep information about all other religions (including atheism) out.

This group and their allies have gone to court to force schools to allow them to spread their divisive (religious) messages in public schools via a “backpack-mail” system. But when a non-aligned group used the same system they turned around and used the courts to stop the schools from spreading any non-curricular information regardless of its being religious or secular.

This is hardly fair play! It seems that it was more important to this group and its allies to be able to censor other points of view than to spread their own. Since they held a majority in that community they still won out.

As with many subversive organizations their public messages tend toward the bland and reassuring. Only an occasional “WHAT did he say?” reaches the radar of the average American.

But the deeper you go into the bowels of their organization the more blatant is the hatred of all that America stands for. It is no secret that their leadership prays for a day when the only laws in America will be based solely in their scripture.

They not only pray for it. They organize. Likeminded groups have taken up the task of training their more fanatical followers around the country in the craft of taking over local schools and governments in the name of the faith.

They teach followers how to mask their agenda until elected. Once elected the faithful are then apply to their religious agenda regardless of the will of the voters. Their intent is to remake America in their image one town and county at a time.

Their totalitarian ideology does not brook any dissent. The questioning of their religious leader’s interpretations of their holy book is seen as the voice of Satan (Shaytan). More so if the criticism comes from outside their religion. In the U.S. their followers rarely resort to violence but are willing to use almost any tactic short of that to demonize and suppress their critics.

Their Anti-American dream for the U.S. includes:

Women would be coerced by the law to focus their lives on home and children instead of seeking careers.

Women would not be allowed to have a voice in religious or political matters as a matter of law.

Men would be legally empowered to speak for their wives in all matters outside the home.

The decision whether to abort a pregnancy sure to kill the mother (such as a woman with cancer who must choose between an abortion or deferring treatment until after the birth) would rest with the father of the child or father of the mother.

Children and women would have no legal protections outside of the religious institutions. Short of situations manifestly life-threatening no outside agency would have the right to forcibly intervene in any abuse situations within the family. The right of the husband/father to control his family’s “morals” and live out his religion’s requirements would trump any Western concept of “human rights” for his family.

Homosexuality would be outlawed, not just as an active lifestyle. It would be legally a perverted mindset to be policed and punished. Punishments would likely range from imprisonment to castration to the death penalty. Mob justice against homosexuals would mostly be ignored if not condoned.

The freedom of worship of anyone not aligned with their religion’s narrow definition of “godly” would be at risk anywhere they hold influence.

The Bible tells Christians to “judge them by their fruit”. The fruit of this group wherever they hold influence has been divisiveness, intolerance, a smug support of the status quo and the suppression of the greatest ideals of our Founding Fathers: Freedom of Speech/Assembly/The Press and Freedom of Religion.

One of the clearest signs of the hypocrisy of their version of “faith” is that at the same time they are condemning all sex education, adultery and sex before marriage their followers have the highest rates of teen pregnancies and divorces in the nation. Their followers also possess a higher than average rate of domestic violence.

Who are these un-American subversives you ask? What is the nefarious name that these pretend prophets of “holiness” use to organize their subversive minions as they subvert our nation?

“Islamists? You ask. “Scientologists? Mormons? Pagans?” You postulate but miss the rot that lies in front of your nose.

Surprise Virginia, they call themselves the 700 Club.

In and out of their religion two fiery ladies seek reform

(HH here: I would like to take the current mouth-piece for C.A.I.R. and have him debate these two ladies! Oh what an evening that would be!)

By BARRY GEWEN
Published: April 27, 2008 NYT

Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Irshad Manji are two of the most prominent and outspoken critics of what they and others see as “mainstream Islam.” Brilliant, dynamic women — the overused word “charismatic” is not inappropriate for either one — they have each rebelled against a Muslim upbringing to become public figures with large and devoted followings.

Yet though they are allies on one level, their approaches to Islam are strikingly different, with one working outside the religion and one within.

Ms. Hirsi Ali is an avowed atheist whose criticisms can be seen as attacks not only on radical Islamism but on the religion of Islam over all.

For Ms. Manji, there has been no such either-or choice. She is a practicing Muslim who — though she can be as caustic about her coreligionists as Ms. Hirsi Ali — seeks to change her faith from within. As founder and director of the Moral Courage Project at New York University, she assists other maverick writers and scholars who dissent within their communities. “What I want,” Ms. Manji has said, “is an Islamic Reformation,” and in contrast to Ms. Hirsi Ali, she adds, there is “no need to choose between Islam and the West.”

Both Ms. Hirsi Ali and Ms. Manji come from non-Arab Muslim backgrounds. By itself, this may be one reason for their opposition to Islamic orthodoxy, which they see as inherently Arab, or Arab-dominated. Ms. Hirsi Ali was born in 1969 in Somalia, and lived in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya before fleeing to the Netherlands when she was 22 to avoid an arranged marriage. When her family was in Saudi Arabia, she remembers her father’s complaining that the Saudis had perverted the true Islam. “He hated Saudi judges and Saudi law,” she writes. “He thought it was all barbaric, all Arab desert culture.”

Ms. Manji was born in 1968 in Uganda, but her family, part Egyptian and part Indian, moved to Canada when she was 4 to escape Idi Amin. She is even more insistent than Ms. Hirsi Ali in drawing a distinction between Islam and Arab tribal culture, its “dictatorship from the desert.”

Ms. Manji has a broader and more flexible idea than Ms. Hirsi Ali of what Islam is and can be. Ms. Hirsi Ali says, “Saudi Arabia is the source of Islam and its quintessence.” Ms. Manji, on the other hand, is convinced that her religion can escape what she sees as its Arab domination. “We need a take-no-prisoners debate about Saudi Arabia, a cauldron of duplicity.”

The writer Paul Berman suggests that the difference between them may be due to the fact that Ms. Manji was raised in the warm, liberal, welcoming precincts of British Columbia, where religion could be a comfort rather than a burden, where pluralism was an assumption, a fact of life. … Ms. Hirsi Ali’s early years, by contrast, consisted of dictatorship, war, patriarchy, genital cutting, confinement and beatings so severe that she once ended up in a hospital with a fractured skull. Ms. Manji offers her own support for Mr. Berman’s conjecture: “Had I grown up in a Muslim country, I’d probably be an atheist in my heart.”

Ms. Manji, too, sees feminism as the linchpin for Islamic reform. “Empowering women,” she says, “is the way to awaken the Muslim world.” But she is not only a committed feminist (bad enough in the eyes of Muslim conservatives). She is also an open lesbian — a rebel twice over. The difference between them “really is between those outside of a faith and those still within it,” says Ms. Manji’s friend the writer Andrew Sullivan. “Hirsi Ali has abandoned faith for atheism. Irshad has taken the harder path, I believe.”

The two women have known each other for four years, since Ms. Hirsi Ali interviewed Ms. Manji for a Dutch newspaper, and they discussed their continuing relationship in e-mail interviews. They immediately bonded — understandably enough. “I could not believe she was not an atheist,” Ms. Hirsi Ali says, “and she could not believe that I had become one.” When Time magazine named Ms. Hirsi Ali one of its “100 most influential people” for 2005, it was Ms. Manji who wrote the comment on her. Ms. Manji admires Ms. Hirsi Ali’s determination to speak truth to power, saying that “Ayaan’s defiant distrust of Muslim authorities can help generate debates that move us closer to honesty.”

For her part, Ms. Hirsi Ali replies, “I make a distinction between Islam and Muslims.” That is, “I picture the defeat of Islam as large swaths of Muslims crossing the line and accepting the value system of secular humanism. This is not a matter of one religion defeating another, it’s a matter of value systems which cannot coexist.”

Clearly, this is a debate of importance not only to Muslims but to non-Muslims as well, and for a Westerner listening in, the best way to understand it may be to translate it into the language of European history. Irshad Manji sees herself as moving Islam into the 16th century; Ayaan Hirsi Ali wants to move it into the 18th. It’s as if Luther and Voltaire were living at the same time.

Click on title for the whole thing

British Muslims: How the government lost the plot


Feb 26th 2009
From The Economist print edition

A desperate search for a new policy towards Islam has yet to produce results

Guzelian

A WAR, a riot, a terrorist attack or a row over blasphemy: not long ago, Britain’s government knew exactly what to do when a crisis loomed in relations with the country’s Muslims. As recently as July 2005, after bombs in London killed 56 people, Tony Blair was confident that he could avoid a total breakdown of trust between Muslim Britons and their compatriots.

Using an old formula, the prime minister called in some Islamic worthies and suggested they form a task force on extremism. Then, hours before the worthies were due to reconvene and mull their response, Mr Blair breezily announced that a task-force of top Muslims had just been created. They moaned, but dutifully went to work.

That system of trade-offs, the equivalent of the “beer and sandwiches” once used to woo trade unionists, had some big drawbacks. It gave hardline Muslims—generally male, old and new to Britain—disproportionate sway. It also led to some dubious bargains; for example, Muslim resentment of British foreign policy was parried by, in part, huge generosity towards the cultural demands of some Muslims—such as the right to establish schools where the curriculum bears scant relation to the lessons other young Britons get.

Now that system, and its unspoken compromises, lies in ruins. It was jettisoned in the autumn of 2006, when the government downgraded existing ties with the Muslim Council of Britain (in which movements close to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamists of Pakistan were strongly represented) and tried to find different interlocutors.

(HH here: Simply targeting the new, mostly Saudi funded, Mosques and Madrassas would go a long way toward stemming the tide of extremism.)

But attempts to define a new policy towards Islam in Britain have been floundering since then.

The government is under fire from the political centre-right for being too soft on radical or reactionary Muslim groups who stop just short of endorsing violence. (HH again: Just short? What about letting groups that DO endorse violence go about their merry business unmolested?) It is also attacked from the left (Muslim or otherwise) for using the fight against terrorism as an excuse for a general assault on Muslims and their cultural rights.

Hazel Blears, the communities secretary, sought to clarify official thinking in a speech on February 25th, … The government, she said, would reserve the right to deal with people whose ideas were unpleasant through a “spectrum of engagement, carefully calibrated to deal with individual circumstances”. With groups that have “an equivocal attitude to core values such as democracy, freedom of speech or respect towards women” there might be “some scope for limited engagement”, the minister carefully added. But on certain forms of “absolutely unacceptable behaviour”—such as homophobia, forced marriage or female genital mutilation—the government would firmly enforce the law with no regard for a cultural “oversensitivity” that had gone too far.

But the failure of current policies aimed at fostering moderate Islam can hardly be overstated. After spending lavishly on a strategy called Prevent that was supposed to empower moderates—at least £80m ($116m) will have been dished out on such efforts by 2011—the very word “prevent” has become discredited in the strongholds of British Islam, which include east London, Birmingham and a string of northern industrial towns. At the Muslim grass roots, there is a sense that any group or person who enjoys official favour is a stooge.

(HH: Why can’t people see that the first failure here was allowing too many immigrants with too little exposure to Western values. Does it really take genius to see that floods of people with no experience in our culture of laws and equal treatment under the law will be a source of crime and tension? The saddest part is that if immigration is shut down totally in order to correct past abuses in the other direction the people who will suffer most are the ones living in non-Western countries that do NOT accept the values of Islam and want to change. IT is hard for us here to say to them “Stand up for yourself, all you have to lose is your head”.)

Many in the government, meanwhile, think their partners are not delivering value for money. The whole relationship has deteriorated since August 2006. After a foiled plot to blow up transatlantic flights, and amid huge ire over the war in Lebanon, a group of prominent Muslims, including two now in government, signed an open letter arguing that British foreign policy in general, and its softness towards Israel in particular, was an important factor behind a surge in extremist sentiment.

(HH here: this points up the total difference in world-view with these people who did not grow up with our cultures. In the West it does not MATTER if you are “upset” about your government’s foreign policy, you simply do not, in a CIVILISED society RIOT and commit murder and mayhem in response. As the British say; “It just isn’t DONE!” But in their home society’s it IS done all the time. Riot and murder and daily tools of “politics” in tribal cultures. Can anyone explain t me why Europe and America et al. should go BACKWARD into a more tribal future? The bottom line is that it is not the place of an immigrant to try to completely revolutionize their new land. We welcome immigrants because they want to JOIN us in OUR future together. Their kids or grandkids will stand as equals to native born they hope. Are we also required to welcome those who come to our lands in order to make them more like the third-world hellhole from which they came? Are we even required to take their “arguments” for their lack of integration seriously?)

The government says … two problems are related: poor, frustrated and mainly self-segregated groups are more likely to produce terrorists. Muslims as a group lag behind other Britons in qualifications, employment, housing and income (see chart). But in fact the overlap between exclusion and extremism is messy. And attempts to fight terrorism through tougher policing, which can alienate whole communities, make boosting cohesion harder.

(HH: I think that a tough but fair stance that says that the door is wide open for ANY immigrant who integrates and gives realy loyalty to their new nation but anyone who lives as a hostile, alien ghetto-dweller and seeks to remain unintegrated and defiantly ignorant of the local laws should be treated like a hostile alien. Give that policy a few years and I think you would see the ghetto shrinking. Muslims would better understand the issue if posed in terms of a good or bad guest. The host-guest relationship is supposed to be sacred in Islam. Why not use that image? Western society needs to stop apologizing for being more tolerant than any of theses people’s original nations. I have always been taught that if I go into another persons house or country it makes no difference, I am inn THEIR home and should make every effort to fit in by THEIR standards. IF their ways are too different I leave. Is that a bad thing?

Among those who claim to speak for disadvantaged Muslims and articulate their grievances, there has been an outpouring of indignation over the government’s stated aim of “preventing violent extremism” by making Muslim communities more “resilient” and better at dealing with hotheads. The idea seems to stigmatise all Muslims, many complain, while the violent extremism of, for example, the white far right is ignored.

(HH here: Wow! I get this image in my head of a Muslim man standing amongst several bodies, blood everywhere. The cops are about to arrest him and he points to a 12 year old who just beat up a little kid for his lunch money. The little kid has a bloody nose. The man indignantly yells at the police that they must pay as much attention to the 12 year old or they are racist. There is no doubt that there are nut-case neo-nazi types running around. But they commit very little violence because society has no tolerance for their games. They talk a lot and beat up a few people here and there but they know that if they were caught committing any serious violence against society they would be stomped on by virtually everyone without dissent. Now if there are any local towns in Britain where skinhead gangs are running rampant and Muslims are committing violent crimes no more than the average of native British then of course the LOCAL response might need to be adjusted. That is a lot of ifs!!!!)

Probing and pre-empting attacks by Muslim extremists is now understood to occupy about 75% of the energy of the British security services, who claim to have had some success in reducing the number of terrorist plots that are stopped only at the last minute. Another less obvious factor in British thinking is strong American concern over the risk that a British-born Muslim could enter the United States and commit a terrorist spectacular there. A healthy slug of America’s anti-terrorism spending goes to forestall just such a possibility.

But successful British Muslims as well as poor ones resent the fact that the rest of society often sees them mainly as potential extremists. Sarah Joseph, a convert to Islam who edits the glossy monthly Emel, says Muslims are fed up with being asked if they are against violence; they want people to know what they are for, such as social justice. The sad fact, in a country that has come to live in fear of terrorism, is that many Britons are indeed more interested in assessing Muslims’ potential for violence than in anything else about them.

Read it all at The Economist by clicking on the post title