Monday, 20 October 2014

Reza Aslan's Marxist Account of Islam

 
Reza Aslan effectively provides us with a perfect Marxist (or at least materialist) analysis of Islam (if not of other religions). Or at least Aslan does so when he's rationalising or explaining the systematic and large-scale violence done by Muslims almost every single day in at least two dozen countries.
 
Aslan essentially argues (without using these precise words) that Islam is a mere "epiphenomenon of material conditions" (as Marxists once put it).
 
Basically, the argument is this: all the violence actions carried out by Muslims in the Muslim world and in Europe have absolutely nothing to do with Islam. It's all really to do with economics, colonialism, ethnic conflict, the malign influence of the West... anything as long as it isn't Islam.
 
So why would a Muslimbe saying that Islam is a mere epiphenomenon of material conditions? The answer to that is simple. A Muslim would need to say such a thing in order to excuse Islam of all the negative and violent actions done in its name.
 
Does Reza Aslan also apply his Marxist analyses of Islam to all the positive deeds and actions which are carried out by Muslims? For example, when Muslims criticise the Islamic State (as mentioned by Aslan and others recently) or give to charity (though only to fellow Muslims – which is something we aren't often told) are they merely responding to material conditions or to Islam? Or is it that only the negative or violent deeds and actions of Muslims yield to such a Marxist/materialist analysis?
 
So it can be said that when Reza Aslan claimed that Bill Maher, for example, is “not very sophisticated in the way that he thinks” about Islam, he basically meant that Maher doesn't offer us a Marxist (materialist) analysis of the religion similar to his own. Reza Aslan has also said pretty much the same thing about Sam Harris. Indeed Aslan says something similar about all the critics of Islam.
 
Clearly Aslan is partly playing on his academic credentials here (some of which have been classed as bogus by various commentators). And as everyone knows, every academic on the planet offers nothing but profoundly sophisticated and unbiased accounts of every subject they tackle. It's also highly elitist and even dangerous to say (as Reza Aslan does) that if you're not an academic specialist on Islam, you should keep your mouth shut. Except, of course, that he never questions people's academic qualifications when they say positive things about Islam.
 
The Islam-Culture Binary Opposition
 

Muslims and their Leftist defenders often tell us that we mustdistinguish Islam from the independent cultures in which Islam is the main religion.
 
Reza Aslan himself is at his most Marxist (or materialist) when he reiterates that very common binary opposition (Jacques Derrida's term) between Islam (or religion) and culture. Aslan, for example,states:
 



"It is really the single most basic idea about religion, that it marries itself to whatever culture it comes into contact with.”

 
As it stands, the statement above contains some truth. Nonetheless, it also has to be said that it is Islam(or the Koran, hadith, sharia law, etc.) which “marries itself to whatever culture it comes into contact with”. After all, it's not atheism or astral travelling which does so.
 
So no matter what differences these Muslims cultures may well display, nearly all of them still practice (to various degrees) jihad, female genital mutilation, stoning to death, honour killings, death for apostasy, etc. It's all fare enough for Reza Aslan to point out differences when similarities such as these are far more noticeable. Reza Aslan, for example, cites the case that Saudi women aren't allowed to drive cars; though they are, I assume, in Turkey. However, perhaps no law is needed in, say, Pakistan because - outside of rich political families, etc. - Muslim women will simply accept that they're not allowed to drive cars. As for Turkey, liberality when it comes to women driving cars has occurredin spite of Islam, not because of it. In other words, it has nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with the secularisation of Turkey which began some 90 year ago (in 1923).
 
And what of this Islam-culture binary opposition itself?
 
This is strange because for decades Marxists were at pains to tell us that religion is a cultural and therefore material phenomenon. Then all that changed with the rise of Muslim demographics in the West and the concomitant rise in Islamic terrorism and and Muslim radicalism. As a response to all this, Leftists - in order to “tap into the revolutionary potential of Muslims” - had to invent a divide between Islam and culture in order to excuse Islam itself of all its responsibility for misogyny, violence, etc.
 
Aslan puts his own twist on this Islam-culture duality by saying that all critics of Islam have an genetic “inability to understand the difference between a cultural practice and religious belief”. That shameful inability to offer a Marxist or materialist analysis of Islam is “shocking among self-described intellectuals”.
 
There are other problems with this neat and convenient Islam-culture distinction.

In terms of honour killings, for example, the main problem is that Islam - or, more correctly, the Koran, the sunnahand the hadith - are full of references to 'honour' and the concomitant need to abide by the 'principles of honour'.

In sharia law there's also the notion of 'ird. This applies to the honour of the individual Muslim. Abdul Wahid Hamid (in his
Islam the Natural Way), for example, writes that
 



"preserving honour... is the goal of... sharia laws that punish sexual relations outside marriage'. In addition, the 'severe punishments' of Sharia Law are there to 'protect honour and chastity (125)”.

 
In Islam it's also said that a Muslim becomes a mukallaf at the age of puberty onwards. After that, each Muslim has many duties to fulfil and obey. One of those duties is 'maintaining honour' through chastity and in various other ways.
 
So yes, Islam, or sharia law, may wellrespect “local laws and customs”. Though there's still a big but here. Islam, according to Wahid Hamid, respects various customs only as “long as these are not in conflict with the Qur'an”. Thus, if anything in a given Muslim culture is in conflict with the Koran or sharia law, it must be stamped out. It must surely follow, then, that FGM, honour killings, jihad and whatnot must be in accordance – at least to some extent - with Islam otherwise such practices would have been stamped out.
 
One other point is is that many Muslim populations, such as Saudis or Arabs generally, Pakistanis, Egyptians, etc. have been Islamic for up to 1,400 years (or at least their cultures and traditions have). Therefore after such a long period of Islamic history, how valid can the distinction be between culture and Islam?
 
Generalisations About Islam & Muslims?
 
Reza Aslan also relies on thegeneralising-about-Islam/Muslimstrope. And guess what, he too is a super-generaliser when he talks about all the critics and criticisms of Islam. This is the case, for example, when he assumes - or pretends - that all such critics and criticisms are “not very sophisticated”. (This is also aLoonwatch idea,along with the ad hominems that all critics of Islam are “loons”, “fascists”, “racists”,“pseudo-intellectuals”, “self-described intellectuals”,“bigots”, “haters”, whateverists, etc.)
 
You can also say that it is a perfect case of generalisation to argue that virtually all the negative and violent acts carried out by Muslims have nothing to do with Islam itself.
 
Reza Aslan, for example, has recently said (in response to Maher and Sam Harris) that the
 



"problem is that you’re talking about a religion of one and a half billion people, and certainly it becomes very easy to just simply paint them all with a single brush”.

 
Now I don't think I've ever heard any single commentator or writer generalise about the “one and a half billion”Muslims on this planet. Sure, some people on Facebook may well do so. However, I doubt that Sam Harris, Bill Maher, Robert Spencer, Gert Wilders, etc. have ever done anything like that because they don't need to do that. Criticisms of Islam – to state the obvious –simply don't need to be about every Muslim on the planet. Indeed just as one doesn't need to account for every Nazi, Communist or Liberal Democrat in order to criticise Nazism, communism or the Liberal Democrats, so one simply doesn't need to account for every Muslim on the planet in order to offer a criticism of Islam.

                                   ****************************************************

Notes

1) ".... Islam is largely a process of Arabization, so to speak. The teachings and practices of Islam stem from those of the Arab desert culture from which Mohammed came...."

True to a point. Islam is still indeed Arabic. Though Arabic culture became Islamised too in that it can't be denied that Muhammad brought things to the Arab tribes which they would have been unfamiliar and unhappy with.

So Muhammad "married" himself to Arab culture. (He couldn't help but do so - he was an Arab.) Then he created an Arabic-Islamic culture and society. From then on, all Muslim societies married themselves to Arabic Islam; rather than the other way around, as Reza Aslan suggest.

After all, it's 2014 and the vast majority of non-Arabic Muslims still have both Arabic first names and Arabic second names. Many still wear Arabic clothes. Allah is a monoglot who only speaks Arabic. And the Koran "can only be truly understood in the original Arabic"... and all that's to miss out the many abominations of Arabic sharia law.

2) "Rather, the truth is that Islam affects local culture and local culture affects the practice of Islam."

True.

I hope I didn't come across as going too far in the opposite direction to Reza Aslan - completely denying local culture or "material conditions". Marxists called that position both "idealism" (the philosophical position) and "voluntarism" (i.e., the - complete? - psychological freedom from material conditions).


 

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Does Reza Aslan or the Islamic State (IS) Speak For Islam?

 


Reza Aslan via The Guardian
Reza Aslan via The Guardian

Prominent Islamic scholar Reza Aslan says that no one Islamic group or Muslim individual can ever be deemed to have the last word on Islam. Thus the Islamic State (IS), for example, can’t be deemed to be definitive of Islam.

It follows from this that when Aslan says that IS promotes a distorted version of Islam, then Aslan’s own position – that IS distorts Islam - can’t be deemed to be the last word on Islam either. In other words, Muslims have no more or less reason to accept Reza Aslan’s interfaith-materialist account of Islam (presuming it’s not all smoke and mirrors: taqiyya or “lying for Justice”) than to accept IS’s or al-Qaeda’s.

Yes, there is no central authority in Islam. So that means that the utterances of people like Reza Aslan might have had almost zero effect on the vast majority of Muslims. Indeed that’s certainly the case. No doubt there are a handful of Muslims in American and European universities (such as Georgetown University) – as well as Muslim members of the Church of Interfaith – who buy Reza Aslan’s version of Islam. The problem is, can we put all our eggs in their basket or would that be suicidal?

Though, of course, I may think all this simply because I’m a “pseudo-intellectual”…. or a “loon” or an “Islamophobe” or a “hater” or a “bigot” or “far right”.

Reza Aslan, as with Loonwatch, will often inform the Leftist “tribe of independent minds” that many – or all – academics who are also critics of Islam are either “pseudo-intellectuals”; or, as Aslan himself puts it, “self-described intellectuals”… What? I can’t think of a single critic of Islam – academic or otherwise – who has christened himself an “intellectual”. As everyone knows, the word “intellectual” has always been a self-description that Marxists, structuralists, post-structuralists, post-modernists, etc. have used about themselves. Thus it seems seem that in order to be a true intellectual, one has to be a Leftist or a “progressive”. If you’re not, then you’re either a “pseudo-intellectual”…. or a “loon” or an “Islamophobe” or a “hater” or a “bigot” or “far right”.

Reza Aslan’s Academic & Materialist Elimination of Islam

The thing about Reza Aslan’s version of Islam – that’s if it’s sincere – is that it effectively negates or erases Islam from the picture.

In one breath Aslan will apply his Marxist (or materialist) analysis of Islam. In the next breath he will erase or negate Islam from the picture in another way by saying, for example, that people don’t “get their values, their morals from their scripture”. Instead, you “bring your morals and your values to the scriptures”.

Now Reza Aslan – according to Reza Aslan (not me) – is a Muslim. So let’s rewrite that statement:



Muslims don’t get their values and their morals from the Koran, the hadith and the sunnah. Instead, Muslims bring their morals and their values to the Koran, the hadith and the sunnah.


Again, why would a Muslim like Reza Aslan be saying things like that? I will tell you why. He will say things like that when the subject under discussion is Islamic extremism – whether that be terrorism, jihad, female genital mutilation (FGM), honour killings, sexual-grooming gangs, death for apostasy, stoning to death, the killing of gays, etc.

However, when the seemingly positive things about Islam – as well as the positive actions of Muslims – are being discussed, then Aslan’s materialist analyses of Islam (or his eliminativism as regard Islam) are simply dropped from the debate.

Reza Aslan tells us that his own position on Islam – as stated above – is something you “learn… on day one of the study of religion”. That may well be true. So I suggest that Aslan – as a Muslim – tells his fellow Muslims that. I suggest that Aslan tells them that Islam is a mere “epiphenomenon of material conditions” (not his own words) and that the “morals” and “values” which devout Muslims uphold existed before any reading or study of the Koran.

Surely such radical views would be deemed as apostasy just about everywhere in the Muslim world; and even in the United States.

The Islam-Culture Binary Opposition

On Twitter (October 11th) Reza Aslan stated the following:

If you think female genital mutilation, which predates Islam by about 2000 years, is a ‘Muslim practice’ you’ve already lost the argument.

Just about all critics of Islam have acknowledged that FGM existed in other cultures and existed before Islam. However, simply because that’s the case, it doesn’t follow from that that it’s not an Islamic practice. For example, many Christian practices and rites pre-date Christianity. That doesn’t stop them from being Christian.

Despite all that, since Islam has sanctioned and endorsed FGM, honour killings, stoning to death, jihad, etc., and since Islam has existed in the Muslim world for up to 1,400 years, then surely we can ask why all these things still exist in Muslim countries and cultures.

Why, for example, is the FGM rate in Egypt 91%? Why is it 0% in Western states (if you discount the Muslim populations) and even fairly low in those African and other states which aren’t Muslim?

The fact is that even though FGM may pre-date Islam (is this even true?), it has still become an Islamic practice. After all, Muhammed and the early Muslims borrowed – or stole – almost all their principles, rites and practices from other religions and other cultures. That means that Reza Aslan’s position that FGM pre-dates Islam can be applied to many other aspects – the seemingly positive ones – of Islam too. But he doesn’t. He is, of course, as highly selective about Islam and its texts as he accuses all the critics of Islam of being.

Sharia Blasphemy Law or the Leftist “No Platform” Policy?

Finally, what did Reza Aslan mean when he said (during an interview with Salon) the following? -

I think that people have had enough of this kind of rhetoric [referring to the critics of Islam], and they’re just not going to put up with it any more.

Links

*) ‘Reza Aslan on Bill Maher’s anti-Islam crusade’, published by Salon: http://www.salon.com/2014/10/10/exclusive_reza_aslan_on_bill_mahers_anti_islam_crusade_frank_bigotry/
*) ‘Loonwatch and Islamophobia Watch: Why Leftists are Islamophiles’, published by Brenner Brief: http://www.brennerbrief.com/loonwatch-islamophobia-watch-leftists-islamophiles/

Galloway won’t be prosecuted: repeats the “Israel-free” threat

 


israel-free
British Parliament Member George Galloway makes egregious comments about Israel

Predictably, Respect MP George Galloway won’t be prosecuted over his threat – or promise – to make Bradford “an Israel-free zone”. In fact Galloway has repeated the comment – almost word-for-word – for which he was originally investigated.

The original comments, made by the Bradford West MP in August, resulted in dozens of complaints to West Yorkshire Police.

According to the newspaper stories so far, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has said – according to Chief Superintendent Paul Money – that “there is insufficient evidence to support any charge”. It also said it had logged it as a “hate incident”.

That’s not much to go on.

If we interpret the few words we’ve been given, the statement that “there is insufficient evidence to support any charge” at least implies that there was some evidence. Though what is meant by “insufficient evidence” in this case? This statement can be interpreted in many ways.

The same goes for the vague words “logged as a ‘hate incident’”. That may simply mean – indeed it does mean – that because the people who reported Galloway’s remarks to the police saw what he said as a hate crime, then the police simply had to log them by that description. That doesn’t mean that the police or the CPS saw what he said as being a hate crime. Indeed, considering the verdict, the CPS didn’t see it that way.

Despite that lack of information, I contacted the police to ask whether I could gain any more information about the CPS’s decision. Basically, the impression I got is that I can’t. The CPS arrives at its decision and then that’s that – as far as the public is concerned. Or, more accurately, the police knew nothing about any further details and then said that the CPS isn’t required to either justify or explain its decision. (This is something which will be looked into.)

In any case, Chief Superintendent Paul Money, Leeds District Commander, described the situation in this way:

A full investigation has been carried out, which included Mr Galloway being voluntarily interviewed under caution. A file was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service for advice on whether any offences had been committed and they have now concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support any charges.
 
This also raises questions as to how the legal system works. For example, did the police submit what it saw as sufficient evidence; though the CPS didn’t deem it to be sufficient evidence? Or did the police force involved not believe it had sufficient evidence; though it submitted the details to the CPS anyway? In any case, from what I know, it’s not the police’s responsibility – in cases like this – to decide what is and what isn’t sufficient evidence. That is the CPS’s job.

Ultra-Zionist Vendetta



George Galloway himself has commented on the result in his typical hyperbolic way. He said:

This has been an extremely expensive waste of police and CPS time forced on them by ultra-Zionists who were pursuing a vendetta against me.
 
So Galloway thinks that Zionists are okay! It’s just “ultra-Zionists” he hates.

You see that’s what happens when a politician relies almost exclusively on bombast and literary skill. Yes, the problem is that when one actually analyses what Galloway says (i.e., away from the soapbox and in cold print), much of it turns out to be rhetorical emptiness peppered with bits of nonsense.

What’s worse than all that is that Galloway repeated the comment for which he was originally investigated. (This man must believe that he’s untouchable.) He said:

I hope the citizens of Bradford will join me in refusing to treat with the advocates of this hateful and oppressive regime and truly make Bradford an Israel-free zone.
 
He went on to explain himself in the following manner:

My comments were aimed at the state of Israel, which – I repeat what I said at the time – is an illegal, savage and barbarous state, and had nothing whatever to do with race or religion.
 
I take back not a word and I will continue to forcefully condemn Israel. It remains the case that there is a worldwide boycott of Israel, its goods, its services, its academics.
 
You may note that he has left out the previous mention of Israeli “tourists”. However, does the boycott of Israeli academics include Shlomo Sand, Ilan Pappé, Sylvain Cypel and the numerous other communist/socialist critics of Israel who populate Israeli universities?)

                                           **********************************

As I said, there is no justification for the verdict whatsoever in the news pieces I’ve read.

The thing, there have been people who have been imprisoned – in the UK – for five months or more for chanting “Who the fu*k is Allah?”; as well as for burning the Koran. Tommy Robinson’s (the former leader of the English Defence League) parents have had their doors knocked down and houses searched on more than one occasion. Indeed the very criticism of Islam is deemed as a “hate crime” by Facebook, the police, academics, social workers, council workers and whatnot. Yet here’s a politician who has threatened to make a city entirely free of another nationality.

Even the National Union of Students (NUS) has just stated that the a motion against the Islamic State (IS) is “racist” and “Islamophobic”. Yet the blanket dismissal of an entire nation (Israel) is deemed okay by the CPS?

Baroness Warsi once said that “anti-Muslim hatred had become Britain’s last socially acceptable form of bigotry” and that such hatred had “passed the dinner party test”. Yet as everyone who has ever experienced the news and, well, everyday life will know that this is the exact opposite of the truth. When you criticise Islam you are convicted of “hate crimes”, bombs go off, riots ensue and The Guardian and a host of Leftist lawyers and political groups ratchet up their “no platform” policy as they attempt to bring their “progressive” (or totalitarian/collectivist) vision of Britain even closer.

As for dinner parties. I strongly doubt that “anti-Muslim hatred” (which is often the simple criticism of Islam) ever occurs at most middle-class dinner parties – especially in Leftist and left-liberal strongholds like Islington and other places in London. In fact every time I offer even a mild criticism of Islam – not even of Muslims – to members of the middle class, they attempt to shoot me down in flames with words like “racism”, “bigotry” and “Islamophobia”. What’s more, I think that Baroness Warsi knows this. In other words, when she said “anti-Muslim hatred” is acceptable she really meant that the criticism of Islam – and the criticism of Muslims who act on Islamic principles and texts – should be made illegal; as it is in her home country of Pakistan (which she, along with most British Pakistanis, visits on a frequent basis).

So I’m not saying that Galloway should have been prosecuted for the mere criticism of Israel – even for the his generalised and vicious criticisms quoted above. However, he didn’t just criticise Israel, did he? He threatened – or promised – to make a British city (Bradford) free of Israelis and has said this exact thing again. Now that is something else entirely. What would have happened if the BNP said it would make Bradford – or any other city or town in the UK – free of Pakistanis or Iraqis because of the actions of either the Pakistani/Iraqi state or its people? Do I really need to answer that?

*) This is the abridged letter (dated the 15th of October) which West Yorkshire Police has sent to those people who reported George Galloway’s original comments:

Dear….
 
Further to my previous letter dated 14th August 2014, in relation to complaints received by West Yorkshire Police regarding the content of a speech made by George Galloway on 2nd August 2014.
 
A full investigation was conducted which included Mr Galloway being voluntarily interviewed under caution.
 
Following the interview of Mr Galloway a file was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service to enable an independent review to establish if any criminal offences had been committed.
 
The Specialist Lawyer that was appointed to review the case has considered the information available, and had concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support any charges….

Yours Sincerely,
Pat Twiggs
Detective Superintendent
Head of Crime – Leeds District

                         ************************************************

*) This isn't about George Galloway's criticisms of Israel or even about fairness when it comes to "hate crimes". Many have said that he threatened violence by saying that he'd make Bradford "Israel-free". How else would he have enforced that other than through violence? The police wouldn't have done it.

And it follows that this has nothing to do with hate crimes in the sense that laws against incitement to violence have always existed and have nothing to do with political correctness or "hate crimes". When there have been explicit calls to violence by public figures or others (not, say, criticisms of Islam or Israel), the people concerned have been prosecuted, as when people say "Kill Pakis" in a public sphere. It would also be a criminal offence to shout "There's a bomb in this cinema" when in that cinema. In addition, public calls to abuse children would result in criminal prosecution.

Thus there can never be complete free speech. And there never has been complete free speech.


Friday, 10 October 2014

Does the BBC think that most immigrants are Nobel Prize winners & scientists?



On Monday (7th of October) the BBC informed us – or at least James Gallagher did - that “Nobel Prize winner John O'Keefe” has a big problem with the the government's rules on immigration. More precisely, O'Keefe “has warned the UK government [that its] polices on immigration” are “risking Britain's scientific standing”.
The BBC's James Gallagher.

The BBC – or at least James Gallagher - then backed up its pro-immigration position with a kind of positive ad hominem. It told us that “Prof O'Keefe, 74, was awarded the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine on Monday”. And then came the politics. The BBC quotes O'Keefe as stating: "The immigration rules are a very, very large obstacle.”

Now I'm willing to accept that much of what John O'Keefe says may be true or accurate. However, this piece isn't about O'Keefe's position on immigration. It's about the BBC using O'Keefe's position (or words) on immigration to advance or support its own position on immigration. (That's why I won't be commenting on O'Keefe's no doubt controversial position on animal experimentation.)

You can take the under-text of this piece to be the following:

Limiting immigration is a bad thing because a Nobel Prize winner says that it is.

Or alternatively:

Why aren't we allowing all these fantastic neuroscientists and other highly-qualified people into the UK (along with all those other super immigrants)?

As everyone knows, for every neuroscientist or scientist allowed into the UK there will be tens of thousands of unqualified people who are also allowed in (many of those end up on benefits).

Besides which, I doubt that highly-qualified people do find it (that) difficult to enter the UK. For a start, there's no evidence in the BBC piece as to why it's so difficult. In fact it's all very vague. John 0'Keefe himself is quoted (twice) as saying: "The immigration rules are a very, very large obstacle.”

He continues by saying:





"I am very, very acutely aware of what you have to do if you want to bring people into Britain and to get through immigration, I'm not saying it's impossible, but we should be thinking hard about making Britain a more welcoming place."


Again, John O'Keefe says that he's “very acutely aware of what you have to do if you want to bring people into Britain and to get through immigration”. Now is he talking about neuroscientists, scientists and other qualified people here or immigrants generally?

It becomes clear that O'Keefe ( as well as the BBC) must surely be talking about immigration generally (not the situation with highly-qualified immigrants) when you take on board what the Home Office says in response to these complaints. It states:





"Whilst the government has not shied away from taking tough action on abuse, the number of genuinely skilled people coming to the UK to fill skilled vacancies is on the rise."


And that's why I think this is yet another example of the BBC rather surreptitiously publishing another piece in favour of immigration.


Considering the fact that 5,466,000 - over five million - immigrants entered the UK between 1997 and 2007 alone (as well as the fact that O'Keefe says that “we should be thinking hard about making Britain a more welcoming place”), I can only conclude that O'Keefe and the BBC are in favour of yet more mass immigration. In other words, over five million immigrants have been allowed into the UK in the last decade and O'Keefe and the BBC are still deeply unsatisfied.

The BBC itself – rather than O'Keefe - shows us its bias (or the fact that it's really talking about immigration generally) when it states the following:





“Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to reduce net migration to less than 100,000 a year by 2015, while Home Secretary Theresa May has spoken about reducing it to tens of thousands.”


Now there's not much in the above quote which is specifically about Nobel Prize winners, neuroscientists and other highly-qualified scientists, is there? That's because, underneath the fluff, this piece is really about the government's recent statements on immigration (which surely can't be believed anyway).

Actually, this BBC article is really about the BBC's own position on immigration.

The BBC's Prose-Style

It's the easiest thing in the world to display political or ideological bias without explicit editorialising or comment. You certainly don't need to indulge in political rhetoric and polemics. Left-wing academics galore, for example, restrain themselves all the time (“academic standards” and all that). And just like such left-wing academics, the BBC also refrains from explicit political bias, rhetoric and polemics because that's what's expected of it.

Despite saying that, the BBC is often at its most extreme and biased when it comes to the subject of immigration. And it shows that bias in many and various subtle ways.

In this particular case, instead of an article with the title, say, 'Why we should allow more immigrants into the UK' or 'Why immigration is a good thing' (or 'We are international community'), the BBC offers us this title instead: 'Nobel Prize winner John O'Keefe concerned over immigration policy'.

I have yet to see an entire BBC News piece about either a single individual’s problems with immigration or the problems with immigration in the abstract. Though - and here comes that BBC subtlety again - people's problems with immigration are sometimes covered. Of course they are. The problem is that they're rarely – or never - the central point in any BBC pieces. (Except in extreme and exceptional cases such as the infamous Gordon Brown Bigotgate case.)

Sure, there's no explicit pro-immigration pontificating in this BBC News piece. The BBC rarely does that. Instead the bias is displayed in the very fact that the BBC has chosen to cover this very minor story in the first place: a story which it thinks is worth turning into news. After all, no other newspaper has featured this particular case.

As I said, the BBC doesn't go in for extreme or blatant editorialising/commentary on its website BBC News.... The BBC's a “public service broadcaster” funded by the taxpayers of the UK – remember? So the BBC publishes articles like this instead. It also fills BBC audiences (such as Question Time) with ethnic minorities, Leftist lawyers and other professionals who support unlimited immigration. It quotes the ideologically-correct people more extensively than it does “bigots”.

The way the BBC once described its position on anthropogenic global warming can be applied - pretty much untouched - to the case of immigration. For example, the BBC once said (in 2009) the following:





“.... given the weight of scientific opinion [on climate change], the challenge for us to strike the right balance between mainstream science and sceptics since to give them equal weight would imply that the argument is evenly balanced.”


That can be paraphrased into the following:

Given the weight of expert opinion on immigration, the challenge for us to strike the right balance between experts on immigration and immigration sceptics (or those against immigration) since to give them equal weight would imply that the argument is evenly balanced.

In response to the first quote, Christopher Booker said:





“In other words, in the name of reporting impartially, [the BBC] saw no need to report impartially.”


The obvious point to make about the latter paraphrase is the majority of British people are indeed “sceptical” about the benefits of immigration – and they're certainly sceptical about mass immigration. That is the case regardless of what the “experts” think.

Conclusion

This isn't about stopping neuroscientists, Nobel Prize winners and other qualified/skilled people from entering the UK and even from becoming citizens. It's about British governments - with the tacit support of the BBC – attempting to “alter the social and political make-up” of the UK; as well as the concomitant attempt to “rub the face of the Right [or the white working class?] in diversity” (at least under New Labour). So how do I know all that? I know all that because some of the people who were responsible for these things have explicitly admitted as much – if only after they left government!






Sam Harris's Reply to Ben Affleck



Sam Harris's website reply to Ben Affleck (or to the Real Time show) seems very apologetic - despite his cogent defences. (People have said to me that Mr Harris is simply giving Ben Affleck the benefit of the doubt.) I'm not saying that he shouldn't have been reasoned and analytic in his reply; just not defensive.

If Leftists and Islamists like Reza Aslan, Glenn Greenwald and Nathan Lean are supplying Ben Affleck with the ammunition (as Sam Harris suggests), then there's no need to be apologetic. Effectively it's they who are the true "bigots". As an example of this, you should see the vicious and intolerant hate speech - as well as the college-boy sarcasm - on Loonwatch. No doubt Reza Aslan, like Nathan Lean, has another – more nasty - persona for this website. (Hence the cowardice and student intrigue which goes along with using fake names.)


Nathan Lean or 'Garibaldi' of Loonwatch.


I also suspect that some of the Islamophile Leftists just mentioned – and people like them - are the kind of “inverted” or "positive" racists (i.e. racists) who continuously project their racial obsessions onto other people (much like Puritan and Victorian moralists projected their sexual obsessions onto others).

And as ever, zealous and fanatical anti-racism is doing more than almost anything else to contribute to racism. In other words, one of the biggest contributors to racism today may well be anti-racism; whether that be what happened in the UK (Rotherham) in regards to over 15 years of unchecked and rampant Muslim sexual-grooming gangs (i.e., the 1,400 victims of Leftist anti-racism policies) or Ben Affleck's mindless equation that the criticism of Islam equals racism.

I know that that many people are more or less becoming racists as a direct reaction against the extreme bullshit, zealotry and prejudice (yes, prejudice) that's coming – every day - from full-time/professional anti-racists.




Of course the partisans of anti-racism will simply say that such people were racist all along. After all, only the pious Nathan Leans of this world are truly untainted.

So all this talk about “shifty Jews” and “how white racists talk about African Americans” is deliberate obfuscation – if not outright Stalinist debate-stopping. (Loonwatch must be praying for either sharia blasphemy law or an extension of the Left “no platform” policy; the latter being so omnipresent in the UK.)

Moderate Muslims – What & Who are They?



Ben Affleck made the mistake of conflating those Muslims who aren't directly involved in Islamist politics (or in Islamic religious affairs) - those who like "eating sandwiches", according to Affleck - with those who are genuinely moderate. Not every Nazi, communist or, for that matter, every supporter of the Liberal Democrats is politically active. Nonetheless, that doesn't stop them from being Nazis, communists or Liberal Democrats.

Political and even religious inactivity isn't moderation. Eating sandwiches, Mr Affleck, isn't Muslim moderation either.

What Ben Affleck and the rest don't realise is that even though there may be many moderate Muslims ('many' is a relative term), it doesn't matter in the end. It wouldn't even matter if there were ten million moderate Muslims in the world. These people aren't winning-out and they probably won't win-out in the future. Muslims in the West, for example, are becoming more - not less – radical and literalist. And more people are being killed and blown up by Muslims in the West and in the Muslim world.

To place all your eggs in the basket of Muslim moderation (or in the Church of Interfaith) is utterly foolish and ultimately suicidal. It's like being in favour of Nazism simply because a handful of Nazis helped the Jews during World War Two.

So what about Sam Harris's “Muslim atheists”?

Harris apologised by saying that he



“misspoke slightly at this point, saying that hundreds of millions of Muslims don’t take their 'faith' seriously. This led many people to think that I was referring to Muslim atheists....”


Wouldn't it be better to say that “Muslim atheists” are ex-Muslims – and for obvious reasons? Unless the word 'Muslim' is being used in a tribal or nominal sense in that people are seen as Muslims simply because their families and/or cultures are Islamic. In any case, evidently Muslim atheists can't be classed as “Muslim moderates” for the simple reason that they ain't Muslim/Islamic at all. And neither can politically inactive Muslims – such as those who eat sandwiches or drive taxis – be deemed moderate simply because they are, well, too busy earning money to be causing political or social trouble.

It's also a sad state of affairs that I can only think of two public figures who are believed by many to be genuinely moderate Muslims: Maajid Nawaz and Irshad Manji. (I'm not sure about the former; though I am about the latter.) Of course what I mean by that is that they are the only names which spring immediately to mind. No doubt there are other writers, academics and suchlike who are also genuine moderates. (I'm discounting everyday Muslims who are moderate here.) Indeed the situation is so bad that an American writer (Sam Harris) had to seek out an English Muslim politician and activist (Maajid Nawaz) in order to begin a “dialogue”; just as Tommy Robinson (the former leader of the EDL) had to seek out this very same man for a similar reason.

And guess what, Islamophobia Watch and numerous other white, middle-class Leftist groups and individuals deems such moderates to be Muslim Uncle Toms (as they do Hirsi Ali). And, of course, many – or most - Muslims hate them. Indeed some of the self-proclaimed moderates (e.g., Mo Ansar, the MCB, etc.) especially hate them! This all due to the fact that because Muslims like Nawaz and Irshad Manji are so liked by non-Muslims that it makes them seem like soiled goods to other Muslims.

As I said, both white, middle-class Leftists (or at least Trotskyists, communists and “progressives”) and many Muslims see genuine (not fake) Muslim moderates as Uncle Toms.

The Iraq War

Sam Harris tries to keep himself in line – perhaps – in at least one area by saying that “the war in Iraq was a catastrophe”.

Hell!? Is that a reference to what IS is doing at present? Well, British troops pulled out of Iraq in 2009. US troops pulled out in 2011. That's three years ago.

For the first year of "occupation" most Shia, Kurds, Christians and even some Sunnis were happy to be free of Saddam Hussein (there was, of course, sporadic violence). Then the Sunni terrorists (the Shia militias joined in later) - those forerunners of IS - set out to make sure that there would be chaos and violence in Iraq in order to pursue their jihadist and Islamic dreams.

I'm not saying here that all Iraqis wanted democracy (they didn't). I'm just saying that Muslims, the jihadists and their Western Leftist defenders will predictably blame the West - kuffar - for literally everything. Muslims have been doing this for up to 1,400 years. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), for example, states this almost every day on its website. It's argument-frame – and that of many others - is as follows:

              Yes, we condemn terrorist action X and Islamic group Y. But it's the West that's to blame for it all!

So although the MCB, Reza Aslan, CAIR, etc. officially and publicly condemn IS. They also blame the West for its existence; as they have done for the existence of Boko Haram, al-Qaeda, al-Shabab and even for Islamic terrorism and Muslim sexual-grooming gangs in the UK.

Do you catch the common theme here? Both IS and the MCB – both the “extremists” and the “moderates” - believe that kuffar are to blame for all the problems in the Muslim world and even beyond!




Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Ben Affleck Shows Us How Not To Discuss Islam





Last Friday there was a prime-time debate about Islam on Bill Maher's Real Time show. I say debate in a qualified sense because, as far as Ben Affleck was concerned, no real debate was actually had. (The show also included the philosopher and writer Sam Harris.)

 (This is the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vln9D81eO60.)

Apparently, Maher has recently criticised Islam and Ben Affleck doesn't like anyone doing that. He thinks, for some bizarre reason, that it's “racist”.

In the show itself, Ben Affleck simply didn't seem interested in debate at all. In fact he seemed – at different times- to be both bored and angered by it.

Sure, Affleck displayed some strong emotions on the issue; but that was all there was. Indeed he was intent on displaying those strong emotions; as well exhibiting his misplaced anti-racist piety. He was also keen to show both himself and the audience how supremely– and, ultimately, suicidally – tolerant he is of Islamic intolerance.

In other words, it was all about Affleck's political-emotional ego and not really about Islam.

As I said, Affleck wasn't really interested in discussing the reality of Islam. Indeed even if there are good aspects of Islam, Affleck only wanted to hear about them. It was as if the very mention of any negatives is, well, “racist”. And that can only mean - as with Nathan Lean and Loonwatch- that Leftists and left-liberals demand quite literal critical silence on Islam. (In order to defeat "racism" and "fascism".)

In fact the negative aspects of Islam could have been put on a plate in front of Ben Affleck and he'd still have pulled the furrowed brow he pulled throughout the discussion.

The best Ben Affleck could manage was to display the primacy of emotion over argumentation. For example, during the interview Affleck said to Maher: “I'm simply telling you, I disagree with you.”

Bill Maher himself got to the heart of Ben Affleck's cognitive deficit and emotional surplus (which masqueraded as a political or even a moral position) when he said: “You’re not listening to what we are saying.” 

The Debate

At various points in the show Sam Harris made various cogent and well-argued points against Islam. (This doesn't necessarily mean that they are true or even accurate; only that they were argued-for.) However, Ben Affleck responded aggressively to all those points. And to that aggression Bill Maher said: “Why are you so hostile about this?” To which Affleck replied: “It’s gross, it’s racist.”

I think that deep down Ben Affleck knows – as do many Leftists and left-liberals - that it's not racist to criticise Islam or even to criticise the Muslims who are acting on Islamic principles and texts. Such people use the word “racist” simply because they know that calling a political enemy – or simply someone who dares to disagree with them - such a thing works political wonders. (It's also effectively a Stalinist – Stalin himself used the word “fascist” or “imperialist” all the time- attempt to end the debate.)

In Ben Affleck's specific case, he simply didn't have any arguments to defend his position (that's if he has one). Not only that: he couldn't stomach the fact that millions of critics of Islam do have arguments. So all Affleck had left was that mindless ejaculation: “It's racist.”

All outright Leftists and many left-liberals (just like Affleck) don't listen to their political opponents. And they certainly don't listen to those they deem to be “racists”,“bigots”, “fascists”, “Nazis”, “xenophobes”,“knuckle-draggers” (or “pseudo-intellectuals”), “red-necks”,“the far right”, “haters”, “hooligans”, “thugs”,“loons” (as with Loonwatch) and “Islamophobes”.

Ben Affleck displayed that unwillingness to debate - and even to, well, think - when he replied to Sam Harris's comment that “Islam is the motherload of bad ideas” by saying, “Jesus!”

All Muslims are X

Mr Affleck did manage one scintilla of debate. Or, should I say, he came out with that most unconscionable of clichés when it comes to most – or even all - discussions of Islam. (Except, of course, what Affleck said has nothing to do with Islam itself.) Affleck said:


“[you don’t mention] the more than a billion people who aren’t fanatical, who don’t punish women, who just want to go to school, have some sandwiches, and don’t do any of the things you say all Muslims do?”


Of course Sam Harris never once said that "all Muslims" are anything. Indeed nothing Sam Harris or Bill Maher said depended on all Muslims being either X or Y. That's why Sam Harris focuses on Islam itself most of the time. And when he does mention Islamic groups or Muslim individuals, he ties those comments to how Islam itself - or the Koran itself - has affected the behaviour and actions of such groups or individuals.

Sam Harris himself responded to the not-all-Muslims-are-X argument – as well as Ben Affleck's made-up figure of a “billion” moderate Muslims - by saying that it's not only blatant extremist Muslims who are the problem. That is, “conservative” Muslims and groups also keep other members of their community “immiserated”. (It can also be argued that many – though not all – of the so-called “moderate”groups and individuals do so too.)

Political Actors

What do people expect from Ben Affleck and other actors?

Despite saying that, on the one hand people may say that you can't expect political eloquence from any actor. Yet on the other hand many people hang on their every word (though only, of course, if they agree with their politics).

So, in a sense, we shouldn't be too bothered about what Ben Affleck and other actors/pop stars/sports personalities/etc. have to say on political issues - even if we agree with them. After all, Ben Affleck is an actor who's using his position (of fame) to advance political views which people wouldn't otherwise listen to.

Finally, in articles about - and interviews with - Ben Affleck it often says that he has “strong political opinions”.Now I know what that actually means.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

The Muslim Council of Britain's New Website



The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) is (or aspires to be) the UK version of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

A few months ago the MCB "revamped" its website. It did so in order to reach its new target audience. That target audience, surprisingly enough, is non-Muslims! Specifically, the MCB wants to reach out to (or be read by) the British government and other British authorities.

The content of the website is what the MCB wants non-Muslims to read about itself. (This is true of the CAIR website too.) In other words, the MCB now knows that its pronouncements and articles are being monitored by non-Muslims. It knows that at least some British journalists have their eye on the ball.

This explains why all the controversial stuff (which many people had already read) has been erased. It's why there's hardly anything at all on the new website, even after a period of five months (since May 2014). The Islamists of the MCB could have quite easily included all the old stuff. However, as I said, much of it was deeply controversial, at least to non-Muslims. So the website was more or less scrubbed clean.

All the MCB's hard-core Islamist conversations will presumably now be taking place elsewhere, in private forums, via emails or perhaps on those public websites (such as the Muslim Brotherhood's "official English website", Ikhanweb) which aren't often frequented by curious journalists and other non-Muslims.

Wanting respect


The Muslim Council of Britain overhauled its website in anticipation of its latest offensive to gain support and respect from the British government and other British authorities. Recall that the Conservative Party broke its links to the MCB in 2009, and even the Labour Party did the same slightly earlier (only to restore them a year later). As The Times put it:

"The group [the MCB], which once enjoyed a close relationship with the government, has been ostracised since 2009 when one of its officials signed a declaration supporting Hamas and calling on Muslims to destroy 'foreign warships' preventing arms smuggling into Gaza."

Ministers have since been advised to restore ties to the MCB, specifically in response to what's happening in Syria and Iraq and the fact that over 1,500 British Muslims have travelled to these countries to become jihadists.

Today, there are MCB articles on Islamic State (IS) and on the British Muslims who have travelled to Syria and Iraq, as well as on the MCB's recent turnaround on female genital mutilation (FGM).* Indeed, when you see the MCB website you quickly note its focus on extremist Muslim actions in Syria, Iraq and Nigeria (e.g., the kidnapping of schoolgirls), though not on Muslim actions at home or in Gaza, Egypt and Pakistan. For example, take these titles from the website: "British Muslims Hope for Peace in Iraq and Syria", "Muslim Council of Britain Comments on Minorities in Iraq" and "Terrorist attacks in Kenya, Pakistan and Iraq: Muslim Council of Britain Decries a Weekend of Carnage".

Regarding the aforementioned paucity of content, along with a few older articles and press releases (copied and pasted from the old website) there have been two 'Letters to Editors' since February 2014, and a single entry under the 'Speeches' section. I couldn't find a single comment after the news items and press releases even though that option is available.

The MCB's Facebook page has (as of 3 October 2014) received 3,514 'likes'. Compare that to the 8,848 likes of the self-consciously violent and militant Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPACUK), the 5,085 likes of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) and the 5,897 likes of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain.

Now, bear that in mind alongside the MCB's claim to have a "mandate from 500 organisations who represent Muslims from all walks of life".

500 affiliated organisations?


What does that claim amount to? How strong is the link between the MCB and these 500 organisations? Is it anything more than formal exchanges and a few signed documents? Are these relations merely nominal in nature? What are the 500 organisations, exactly? Are they nearly all mosques? (The MCB itself says "500 mosques and Muslim groups".) And if they are nearly all mosques, does the MCB's connection to them amount to anything of real substance? Are the claims about having 500 affiliates and speaking for "Muslims from all walks of life" just smoke and mirrors?

In other words, is the MCB more concerned with influencing the British government and other non-Muslim institutions than it is about being a genuine voice of British Muslims?

Conclusion


As mentioned earlier, almost the entire MCB website seems to be made up of apologies for what Muslims are doing throughout the world and in the UK. Having said that, these hedged, qualified and very conditional apologies always come with political rationales for what the extremist Muslim groups and individuals are doing. In each and every case, the real blame, according to the MCB, lies with non-Muslims and Western governments ("British foreign policy", "Islamophobia", "racism", our lack of cooperativeness when it comes to sharia law in the UK, etc.).

In fact, the MCB's position amounts to one long list of the following argument frame:

"We condemn Muslim action X and Islamic group Y. But ... ."

If you are really cynical (or realistic), that omnipresent response of the MCB actually amount to this:

"We at the Muslim Council of Britain publicly condemn Muslim action X and Islamic group Y simply because not doing so would be political suicide for us here in the UK."

In other words, the MCB's website is all about Muslim/ Islamic public relations.

* According to a 2013 UNICEF report, Egypt – which is the heart of the Muslim Brotherhood – has the world's highest number of victims of FGM, with 27.2 million women – or 91% of Egyptian women and girls – having suffered mutilation. Under the rule of Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood from 2012 to 2013 the rate of FGM actually increased.