Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Politics of the Day - Money, Madrassas, and Media
I don't talk politics much, mostly because I think politics sucks. But let me voice some sentiments I feel I have to.
I'm a nonpracticing Muslim. What does that mean? I go to the mosque about once a year, if that, usually on Eid. I'm also an American, who's spent a lot of time in Europe.
So, in a sense, I'm at the epicenter of...uhh...recent (tragic) developments.
Let me put my cards on the table, and then add the points I'd like to make. I supported the war, because I strongly think my part of the world needs to be exposed to post-enlightenment values, although I was afraid our current government would botch the job (which I think they are). So I'm neither a Republican, nor really a Democrat - like many of you, I suppose.
I have one simple point I'd like to make. Here's the set-up.
The bombs in Egypt killed, well, a lot of Muslims. Two of the bombs in London were at Edgware Rd and Aldgate - both close to heavily Muslim communities.
Now, what exactly will it take for Muslims to realize that terrorists are not our friends? That their slaughter is kind of indiscriminate?
Here's what I think: let's face it, all across the world, Islam, as it's practiced, is in fundamental and direct opposition to post-enlightenment values. I don't think the two can coexist: this is the heart of the problem.
So here's my point. I think Muslims have two choices. First, to find an Islam that's, well, tolerant of difference, and intolerant of violence. We make a big deal out of tolerance - when it applies to us. How about giving some back to everyone else?
The point that many Muslims live in Western countries without internalizing any of their values is absolutely, lethally, true. This is moral hazard - taking advantage of a contract; a social contract. How about giving those ideas a chance?
Rejecting them outright is not only wrong, it's idiotic. For example, why should there be Sharia law in Canada? Isn't that the entire reason that emigrants left their home countries - to escape this kind of institutionalized intolerance and violence? Not to be harsh, but are Muslims so dumb they really don't understand that embracing the economic opportunities of the West while denying the legal, political, and social structures that make those opportunities possible is trivially contradictory?
What I've wanted to see emerge, since I was a little kid, if I'm honest, is at least a strong awareness that Islamists are like the Neo-Nazis of the Muslim world (if not worse).
Or even better, an outright repudiation of traditional religious structures. What does that mean? Well, one of the big problems with Islam is that any moron can become a maulvi. Unlike other religions, we haven't built institutions like universities or academies which clerics have to be certified from.
The logical effect, of course, is adverse selection: since no credentials are really required, extremist idiots are naturally attracted to becoming clerics. And the logical effect of this is that these idiots gain control over strategically important resources - like money, madrassas, and media. Now, that's the opposite of the West, where extremists mostly end up being no more than a chuckle-worthy, like this poor bastard.
The second choice, I think, is for things to continue the way they are now. But if the Muslim world doesn't wake up now, I don't think it will ever wake up.
That, I think, is why I felt I had to write this - I think it's time for Muslims to speak up and be heard, whatever it is you have to say. If there's a silent majority (I have my doubts)...let's hear what you've got to say.
I really didn't want to write this, since it will earn me flak from Muslims and nonmuslims alike - but I think dialogue is just about the only chance we've all got to get out of this mess without even more needless violence.
Brave words, well spoken.
If you're a Muslim living, say, in Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Indonesia, etc., the cost of ignoring, condoning or supporting Islamic fascists is pretty negligible. Until that changes, expect nothing.
Thanks for writing that. I can see why you wouldn't want to, but I think we've got to start talking about this stuff.
This is a throwback to the "Forum" circa 2002. Reading this, I feel like I'm in the Green Room. Great memories...
Excellent post, Very well said