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Author Topic: Why are you singleing out those of islamic faith!?  (Read 3687 times)

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Offline kylie

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Re: Why are you singleing out those of islamic faith!?
« Reply #50 on: July 13, 2009, 01:59:54 AM »
Let us not forget that when terrorist attacks are made, hundreds of groups - including radical Islamic, IRA, White Power, Christian Extremists, and many, many others all lay claim to these incidents. 

They do this because it makes their constituents a new target for discrimination, which makes more people turn to the extremist groups, which means more effort goes into watching them, which....the cycle is endless and obvious.

I'm thinking... Possibly. 
Could you point me to some evidence that this is the primary motivation, and not just an effect or one reason among many?

It could make sense in a coldly realist sense of politics.  However, it could also make sense for them to claim association with those activities in order to present an image of power or effectiveness to potential followers.  Other possible explanations: 

In a certain kind of "signing on to the regional movement" if you will, they may be signaling their approval for a particular strategy by publicly lining up their name with it.

Many organizations claiming responsibility, might be intended to present confusion for investigators.  (At least in the Mideast, there are some attacks where no one claims to be involved, or few of the usual players do.  That is, assuming our media is passing on the messages consistently.  How does this pattern of claims vary?  Could it be designed to raise and lower expectations for their opposition?)

Or all of the above.  Others?

 

Offline Mnemaxa

Re: Why are you singleing out those of islamic faith!?
« Reply #51 on: July 13, 2009, 02:11:39 AM »
Oh, rarely are any of the hundreds of groups who like to lay claim actually responsible, and even more rarely is there any real police follow up on most of the groups.  But it's sound recruiting methodology, and most police networks have to filter through the garbage before the feds can do anything actionable about it.  Pure bureaucratic basics for police, as I understand it.

This comes from a friend who was in both military intelligence and police academy; I asked him about the subject a while after 9/11, and he gave me those basic details. (He steadfastly refused to discuss potential conspiracy theory concerning 9/11 though.)

Offline kylie

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Re: Why are you singleing out those of islamic faith!?
« Reply #52 on: July 13, 2009, 03:00:24 AM »
Oh, rarely are any of the hundreds of groups who like to lay claim actually responsible, and even more rarely is there any real police follow up on most of the groups.  But it's sound recruiting methodology, and most police networks have to filter through the garbage before the feds can do anything actionable about it.  Pure bureaucratic basics for police, as I understand it.

Okay...  But earlier, you were saying groups claim responsibility because as a result, it brought increased stigma or discrimination upon their people.  Here, you're saying that the police are not "following up" on them.  (If the "garbage" police handle includes false claims of responsibility, then you might be incidentally lending evidence to one of my counter propositions -- which is they could be purposefully "blowing smoke.") 

Are you suggesting, short of "follow up," that the police target members of these in some unstated "first round" of investigation -- and that is where the discrimination comes in?  I suppose I could buy that.

I do believe that in some cases, leaders recognize that more tension means more people willing to fight for a cause.  I'm just not sure I see that this is all they have in mind when they claim responsibility.  Or even necessarily the major thing.


Offline Jude

Re: Why are you singleing out those of islamic faith!?
« Reply #53 on: July 13, 2009, 06:15:27 AM »
That's quietly applying very narrow readings to a lot of terms.  The presumption would be that we all adopt the same interpretation of what is (unspoken) improperly "dangerous" and backtrack from there to associate it with religion by mere correlation.  "Are you a fan of mass murder?  No?  All these people claimed to believe in a religion, so religion must have been the mechanism that duped them."
I understand your point of view and I think there is some merit to it, but I also think you're reading points into my point that aren't there.  All I'm saying is that religion is a weak point in someone's defenses that can be used to convince people of ridiculous things because of the nature of religion.

Correlation is not necessarily causation.  We don't attribute mass murder on a daily basis to violent video games (or even attending soccer matches).  Nor do we wish to see mass prosecutions (I hope) for writing NC stories on the web.  Lots of people do these things.  They/we do not all perform school shootings, join Al Qaeda, or join the US military for that matter.  Your approach may make a general point about some people.  However, it doesn't address with why some "religious" people do "dangerous" things and others do not.  Setting aside: who shall decide the meanings of stuff in quotes.
I love you for this.  Correlation is not causation is one of my favorite points to use that a lot of people don't get.  And you're absolutely correct.  Furthermore I don't think that religion is the only ideology which can be dangerous and provide a "work around."  Philosophical and political ideologies can also be dangerous, I just think they are less so because it's more socially acceptable to critique them.  You're not supposed to critique religion as a believer, doubt is bad.

I do believe that in many cases, the rhetoric of religion has been fused tremendously with nationalist or class ends. 

For example:  In Palestine as I understand it, militant ends of organizations like Hamas offer prospective suicide bombers promises to take care of families financially, and to maintain a community that will remember these individuals as having died for a just cause.  When you're soaked in poverty, run down by US-supplied armored vehicles every so often, and constantly being watched and searched all on the basis of your politics, there are both practical and symbolic incentives here.  Naturally, some people will express their desperation in terms of religion. 

Islam just happens to be the religion of many oppressed in that particular region.  Of course, that is not the only type of project done "in the name of Islam."  On the flip side, religions at large are not the only kind of rallying banner for symbolic violence.  (Although, some are awfully popular among the various banners.)  Nor is all violence performed under a religious banner, necessarily by people who share a common view of the religious aspects.
I agree, and I don't even believe Osama Bin Ladin and the higher ups of Al Qaede are actually Islamic.  I am not blaming the Islamic religion for them or claiming that the Islamic religion created them.  What I am trying to say is that it is dangerous to wholly accept any belief system (hell I'd even go as far say to say science-based extremism is dangerous) without doubt or critical thinking.  Extremism is dangerous.

And what makes religion especially guilty of this out of all of the ideologies is that the more extreme you are in certain religions the more holy you're seen as.  In Christianity they say if you have "faith the size of a mustard seed you can move mountains."  From a religious perspective, being the guy who has a hunch but isn't sure, but still lives his life as religious isn't quite so admirable.

Not that I think all religious folk worship the extremists of their religion.  It's just that the whole way of thinking can be extremely corrosive and provide an easy way to convince people to do really bad things.  Such as... nearly every war in history.  The rulers may not be religious, but what do you think they're telling the masses about how "god" feels about it?  Even the United States has rulers that make vague notions about god being "on our side."

Offline kylie

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Re: Why are you singleing out those of islamic faith!?
« Reply #54 on: July 13, 2009, 11:27:39 AM »
That's like saying you can't blame the gasoline for the fire.  Sure, gasoline wouldn't start a fire on its own, but the fire wouldn't be so damn easy to spread without gasoline.

Religion is dangerous because it goes around your defenses.  You cannot apply critical thinking to it if you are a powerful believer, which leaves you vulnerable to being convinced to do, say, and believe dangerous things.

Quote from: RandomNumber
All I'm saying is that religion is a weak point in someone's defenses that can be used to convince people of ridiculous things because of the nature of religion.

Okay, granted I lost the first part of your first quote a little in paying attention to the second part.  I was rather concerned about the repeated use of "dangerous."  You've shifted it now to "ridiculous"; I'm not sure if that's much better.  This is a little bit like George Bush going on about "evil-doers" -- it becomes circular.  There are differences among what various people will see as ethically valid, politically effective, adhering to religious doctrine, adhering to various other ways of thinking, and 'realistic' based on understanding of facts and methods.  Anyone can fall out over any of these points and call something "dangerous" or "ridiculous."  People will divide over these points within a religion and within a movement.

I agree that, to the extent it's used as a political rallying device, religion can become a mechanism that inflames passions 1) by intensifying ethnic and cultural identifications ("this is at the core of our way of life") or 2) by constant reference to broadly moral rather than finely-tuned pragmatic grounds ("God is on our side, not the other guys' side, so you're with us or against us.").  On the other hand, this does not mean that everyone who refers to religion as support for their actions actually thinks alike about the meaning of religion.  I'm also not sure it means that so many of them are necessarily not thinking "critically."

Quote from: RandomNumber
...I don't even believe Osama Bin Ladin and the higher ups of Al Qaede are actually Islamic.  I am not blaming the Islamic religion for them or claiming that the Islamic religion created them.  What I am trying to say is that it is dangerous to wholly accept any belief system (hell I'd even go as far say to say science-based extremism is dangerous) without doubt or critical thinking.  Extremism is dangerous.

See, I'm mixed on this depiction.  While there may be a bunch of identifiable, central Islamic precepts that Al Qaeda tends to violate (I'm really not a big reader of religious texts), it seems to me there are many different ways to decide whether a given person or group is "actually" or authentically, as it were, adhering to the principles of a religion.  The Bible is well known to be a very big book with lots of things going on.  Which ones do you have to follow to be Christian?  The part about do unto others as you'd wish to be treated, the part about turning the other cheek, the one about punishing women for adultery quite physically, or the passage about the underdog will have his day as king (add in a whisper of, "Maybe we can hurry that up a little" if you can't find support for immediate revolution in all those pages).  For that matter, who is to say what leader has a most appropriate contemporary interpretation to deal with a political situation here and now?  Lots of people can feel quite differently, or argue about, who is actually a "believer."

I realize there is a current rise in membership of fundamentalist, "feel good because everyone else is not obeying God and deserves to go to hell" sort of religious memberships.  I've heard this academically about the United States, and more indirectly from journalism about the Mideast.  So, I do think there is some basis to what you're saying.  At the same time, I'm not convinced that so many of the members of these religions are only or primarily following blindly or under institutional intimidation.  Not all of them are going to do so many things solely on a fundamentalist interpretation of what proves one to be a good believer (or roughly as you describe it, unquestioning follower). 

I do bristle at particular fundamentalists and individual members putting forth claims that "all good [pick your affiliation] must stand a particular way" on some issue.  I especially dislike it when I see it moving the role of religion politically from relief of a clearly oppressed group to oppression of a larger, other group by the supposed "born again" / jihad.  Here I'm thinking mainly of some Taliban actions like brutal show trials, facade treaties, and sidelining women.  Or for that matter, of what are apparently a handful among conservatives generally forcing the stops on American gay marriage, as it becomes increasingly supported.

However, I also question just how many members of various religious groups, even the nominally fundamentalist groups, are actually not questioning or only following out of intimidation.  I think it's also possible they are there because the groups serve functions that fit their political agenda.  I'm not sure they all have to feel they are either totally "with God" (and that the movement is all that it, or even they, regularly say it is religiously) or else sacrificing their own agenda.

So I guess I'm just mixed.  I do see your point that regular reference to vague or crudely employed, even distorted, religious rationales can be a sort of "just do it" smokescreen in front of the issues.  While many of "the masses" as you put it don't have time or freedom to be publishing Marxist manifestos or other philosophical treatises on ethics, wealth and empire, I feel some uncertainty about how many of them are precisely wound up in "less critical" thought most of the time.  I'd like people to be explicit about what they feel they need politically.  But in some cases, religious banners may be helping them pursue it -- even if the group name and talk are claiming something more scattered (and btw employing religious texts selectively, or with distortion). 

It's kind of a finer point issue, but I'm not sure "duped" or "uncritical" describes so many that well.  Or where these words hold some water, maybe it's more in the general sense of forgoing progress on one front (both gender and sex, in various ways, in the MidEast and America!) while grappling with another (anti-imperialism, overall class/economic pressures).  It's very common that people misrepresent one basis of identity, and make themselves feel secure under problematic conventional standards for it, while struggling to make progress on another.  That isn't limited to the banner of religion, though.  I'm not sure the misrepresentations are really more gross where religion is loudly invoked as the excuse.

   
« Last Edit: July 13, 2009, 11:32:00 AM by kylie »

Offline Serephino

Re: Why are you singleing out those of islamic faith!?
« Reply #55 on: July 13, 2009, 10:34:30 PM »
I agree that people blindly following religion is a potentially dangerous thing.  I was recently talking to a fundamentalist Christian.  Talking to her was like banging your head against a brick wall.  To her, every word written in the Bible is law.  She wants to be Catholic, and I tried steering her to a Methodist path because they too believe in living your faith, but they aren't as strict.  That conversation ended when she learned they don't condemn homosexuality (though I told her it varies from church to church).  The Bible said it's an abomination, which must be worse than a sin, so she couldn't possibly affiliate herself with a church that allows it.  She also personally thinks abortion should be legal, but her opinion contradicts the Bible so she's wrong, and she only hopes God won't condemn her to hell for her opinion...

I'm quite sure if the Catholic church announced true believers must wage war on say... abortion clinics... she'd do something to contribute to the cause.  The woman is completely brainwashed and obsessed with End Times prophecies.  She follows the Bible and the Catholic church without question.  I was talking to her about the Exodus, and she saw nothing wrong with God killing every first born child of Egypt because he was freeing his chosen people.  I honestly didn't know what to say to that, because I see a lot wrong with it.

But getting to my point,  people like this of any religion are vulnerable to being manipulated by extremist organizations.  If you can convince them your message comes from God they will do anything you tell them, no matter how horrible.  And somehow I don't think it would take much to get a brainwashed person to follow you unconditionally.  You just have to know the religion well and use the scriptures to justify your point of view.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Why are you singleing out those of islamic faith!?
« Reply #56 on: July 13, 2009, 10:36:37 PM »
Guess she'd be surprised to learn the Catholic Church does not support a literal interpretation of the Bible.

Offline Serephino

Re: Why are you singleing out those of islamic faith!?
« Reply #57 on: July 13, 2009, 10:59:38 PM »
Really?  Yes, I think she'd be very surprised because she does take it literally. 

Offline kylie

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Re: Why are you singleing out those of islamic faith!?
« Reply #58 on: July 13, 2009, 11:36:58 PM »
But getting to my point, people like this of any religion are vulnerable to being manipulated by extremist organizations.  If you can convince them your message comes from God they will do anything you tell them, no matter how horrible.  And somehow I don't think it would take much to get a brainwashed person to follow you unconditionally.  You just have to know the religion well and use the scriptures to justify your point of view.

     I wouldn't debate that there are a good number of people who will only cite 'because religious text/leader says so' as 'reason enough' for their positions.  And I do understand that some of them appear to be really fervent about this, to the extent of not seeming to accept any other information.  At the same time, lots of people like to find some supposedly "quick and dirty" explanation for things they do.  Religion isn't the only kind of quick explanation used for bombings and shootings (nor for arguments about going to Iraq in 2003, nor regarding abortion and gay marriage though it has had some part in all of these).  For Islamic fighters, references to imperialism are right up there on the list -- often cobbled together with religion but sometimes standing alone too.  I'm just not certain how many of the "radical Islamists" (or radical Christians) are honestly or intuitively most concerned about religion per se, regardless of their constant waving that flag. 

     Take the Peanuts cartoons (Am I getting too old?)...  If Linus goes on endlessly about his blanket, is it really just for "luck"?  Or, is it a sign of all sorts of other things he has some inkling but isn't eager to speak of?  The blanket, or what to do about exposure to Lucy.  The blanket, or why can't he stick up for Charlie Brown against all those bullies.  As long as the focus stays on the blanket, it's okay not to be explicit about other things.  Now Linus may only speak of the security blanket.  He may keep to one line of talk, but are we really to believe he never thinks about these things? 

    Sure, religion can be used politically.  I am just not sure that I would point to religion as being more dangerous a flag than numerous other banners.  As for Islam, I'll maintain that the historical reason the US government has singled it out as a field of possible threat, is largely because American socioeconomic policies in a particular region have finally created backlash.  Where the American right used to turn a blind eye to Vietnamese history and nationalism-- going on about Communism as an ideology used to dupe otherwise "reasonable" peoples astray-- now it's on to Islam as the great example of "dangerous" thinking. 

Taking this back to the topic title...

     To focus on Islam in particular as if it were a tell-tale sign of trouble, rather than one of several organizing factors in the resentment and frustration of many people, spares us an accounting.  It can become a nice way not to talk about global inequality, oil profits, human rights, sponsorship for warlords, and other problems.  Some people have mentioned that the focus is being thrust onto Islam alone by factions using Christianity in a similar way: There are "White Man's Burden"-like claims that God supports the American Way of life above others, and demands that we defend it/ reform people "over there" by any means necessary.  In that sense, I do agree that religions in general are involved. 

     However, actions organized using Christianity/Islam/some other religions and several other ideological platforms have all had plenty of reasonable followers, some followers with mixed or very individual motivations...  And yes, not a few blind ones, too.

« Last Edit: July 13, 2009, 11:39:39 PM by kylie »