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September 07, 2010

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When will people understand that First Amendment rights are privileges, not rights?

How is this any different at all from Dr. Laura's racist tirade? And yet Peretz didn't say the magic n-word, so of course he won't lose his job or any of his Village prestige.

F**k every single one of these media sociopaths.

Tobasco: Please don't spell out profane words as it interferes with some readers' work filters. I'm fixing for you. Thanks.

I read that this morning on TPM, and was just stunned at its monstrosity. How is filth like Peretz not shunned by polite society for saying things like this? To be clear, he has the right to express his opinions--a right he'd obviously like to strip from others--but that should not exempt him from the social consequences of this kind of callous bigotry.

I think part of what galls so much about this is that Marty Peretz is Jewish, and ought to fscking know better. He ought to know where this kind of thinking leads, and the fact that he can still say things like this suggests that either the depth of his bigotry has caused him to lose all perspective, or that he knows where it leads and hates Muslims so much that he doesn't care.

But, frankly, Muslim life is cheap

But you can't just decide that every different perception or feeling is automatically bigotry, Eric! What about all the images of 'Muslims' (sic) Americans have watched on tv for all these years?

How is this any different at all from Dr. Laura's racist tirade?

Dr. Laura was being stupid and insensitive, not racist. She was trying to demonstrate that the N-word has lost its power, and ran into the brick wall of the fact that it hasn't.

Peretz, on the other hand, is a Klansman.

How is filth like Peretz not shunned by polite society for saying things like this?

What 'polite society' are you speaking of? Seriously, I'm not aware of one of those in this country, except in DC, where people are polite even when they shouldn't be.

I do wonder, though, how some of the better writers at TNR can, in good conscience, stay there. I know good writing gigs are hard to find, and that Marty P. has said stuff almost this bad before, but...

Exterminate the brutes!

What 'polite society' are you speaking of?

The society that occasionally deigns to shun people who cross a particularly egregious line, like the one that Peretz crossed here. There was a time when saying things like Peretz did actually had social consequences. From time to time it still does.

I suspect, though, that there will be no such consequences here, because Peretz was only treating Muslims as subhuman and undeserving of American constitutional rights, and a sickening number of Americans do seem to agree. This says a number of things about the state of this country, all of them shameful.

Are we criticizing failure to stand up for right or failure to stand up for right?

Are we criticizing failure to stand up for right or failure to stand up for right?

Can you explain this? I'm not quite sure what you're getting at.

Dr. Laura was being stupid and insensitive, not racist.

I beg to differ.

the reason Peretz will get away with this that, in a rough estimation, essentially nobody knows who he is or what he does.

if you're not widely known, nobody will talk to anyone else about you (hey, the ostensible editor at an obscure political magazine said something ignorant and racist about Muslims! OMG!) and therefore no wave of criticism will build. and it's the big wave that knocks people over. ripples in the shallow puddle of meta-pundits won't do it.

Cleek: See, ie, Ward Churchill.

But seriously, I get your point to a certain extent, but if someone in Peretz's exact position had said that about Jews, or Catholics (or an ethnic group even), there would be a firestorm.

Islam is 'defined' by 'routine and random bloodshed'? If I didn't know better, Id say that this was intended as a parody of anti-Semitic positions. And, of course, we have the parody of an ignorant, bigoted, hatemongering screed complaining about who ought to get First Amendment protection. And the parody of Peretz (elsewhere in his rant) complaining that American Muslims ought to be singled out because they owe allegiance to foreign nations.
But then, sometime around 2003 I stopped being able to tell the difference between parody and reality.

and it's the big wave that knocks people over.

Well, big waves are one way of knocking people over. But they're not the only way that people get knocked over.

Another way is having most of their friends and professional acquaintances shun them because they recognize them as vile repugnant monsters. Peretz is said to be close to Al Gore. What do you think would happen to his influence in Washington if Al Gore publicly said "I want nothing to do with this vile hate monger"? What do you think would happen if TNR's writers and editors and staff all signed a letter saying that unless Peretz was removed from his position, they'd all resign? Do you think his co-investors would be happy with that? Do you think TNR could function at all if 95% of its writers/editors/staff just quit?

So I think you're half right. Peretz will get away with this. He'll do so in part because normal people will have no idea who Peretz is or what kind of horrific bigot he is. But he'll also do so in part because the people who know him and can influence him like anti-Muslim bigotry or at least don't mind it so much. That's probably one reason why Spencer Ackerman isn't at TNR anymore.

I'm sure Mayor Fenty appreciates this just after the New Republic endorsed him.

'Are we criticizing failure to stand up for right or failure to stand up for right?

Can you explain this? I'm not quite sure what you're getting at.'

Are you sure you don't want to take a stab at it?

'This intense epidemic of slaughter has been going on for nearly a decade and a half...without protest, without anything. And it has been going for decades and centuries before that.

Why do not Muslims raise their voices against these at once planned and random killings all over the Islamic world?'

-----

'The society that occasionally deigns to shun people who cross a particularly egregious line, like the one that Peretz crossed here. There was a time when saying things like Peretz did actually had social consequences. From time to time it still does.

I suspect, though, that there will be no such consequences here, because Peretz was only treating Muslims as subhuman and undeserving of American constitutional rights, and a sickening number of Americans do seem to agree. This says a number of things about the state of this country, all of them shameful.'

Which of these offenses, that derive from differing cultural influences, is more egregious?


GOB:Are we criticizing failure to stand up for right or failure to stand up for right?

Eric:Can you explain this? I'm not quite sure what you're getting at.

I think GoB is missing an "a" before the first right.

I think what GOB is getting at is that 1.5 billion people can be treated the same way as a single individual like Marty Peretz. It's not like each of the 1.5 billion voices in the head of Marty Peretz can be held responsible for the actions or words of all the others anymore than each Muslim can be held responsible for the actions of all other Muslims. Or is it that the world's Muslim population has a single mind and that each Muslim is actually responsible for the actions of all others, just as Marty is solely responsible for what he does, writes and says? It must be one or the other. Either way, the equivalency is obvious.

Why do not Muslims raise their voices against these at once planned and random killings all over the Islamic world?'

You mean like the candlelit vigil in Tehran right after 9/11 where thousands of tearful Iranians gathered in an act of solidarity with suffering Americans? Correct me if I'm wrong, but you've never praised that particular raising of voices. And if you don't notice events like that, isn't it quite likely that there are many Muslim critiques that you simply ignore as well?

I mean, let's be honest GOB: like most good old boys, you're pretty ignorant. You don't speak Arabic. You don't read Farsi. You don't read books or news articles in translation from the Arab world. You probably don't watch Al Jazeera's english channel on the internet. So you don't really have any clue what Muslims and Arabs are saying, do you?

Yesterday, before these comments, Aryan pollster Rasmussen had Peretz up by seven percentage points in a generic poll against any opponent described as an enemy Democrat.

Rasmussen polling after the comments among citizens most likely to vote for any candidate who promises to kill Muslims, destroy the U.S. Government, and drag a homeless person facedown via pickup truck through the streets of Macon, Georgia, and whose last names start with hard-K Koch, showed Peretz up a full 21 percent over the generic Democrat/traitor/socialist/elitist ticket.

When voters self-identified as those likely to begin every political rejoinder with the words "all I know is that ...." were informed that Peretz is Jewish and that he publishes a magazine of political commentary, his lead dropped to 16%.

The difference was explained by American voters who said "Oh" when informed of Peretz's heritage and then pulled their support.

The voters who remained in Peretz' camp explained that he would be useful for the immediate future of American relations with the world as long as he returned to Israel as the designated time to participate in the End-Times.

A small percentage of voters/bloggers answered Rasmussen affirmatively when asked if American Muslims should be rounded up and confined in designated holding areas near major transportation hubs, but only if the areas could be named Jewish Ghettos, for nostalgia's sake.

Which of these offenses, that derive from differing cultural influences, is more egregious?

The first isn't true. It's a hateful, bigoted rant comprised of lies, distortions and exaggerations. And regardless, not exactly what I was addressing.

I was addressing Peretz's suggestion that Muslims don't deserve 1st Amendment rights.

As to this:

This intense epidemic of slaughter has been going on for nearly a decade and a half...without protest, without anything. And it has been going for decades and centuries before that.

Why do not Muslims raise their voices against these at once planned and random killings all over the Islamic world?

Again, it is simply not true in any sense. There are plenty of voices in the Muslim world that condemn this violence, loudly and repeatedly, every time an incident occurs.

And, further, the incidents are not nearly as common as Peretz suggests, and there has been much violence at the hands of non-Muslims in Muslim countries over the past decade and a half, so it's a bit rich to paint Muslims as the violent ones.

There is also something to be said that simply being a Muslim does not make you a compulsory spokesman for all things that all Muslims do.

Nevertheless, so many do. So often. Repeatedly.

Ironically, Rauf has spoken out against that violence repeatedly, and he is one that Peretz singles out.

Here's a tip GOB: If you want facts, don't read Marty Peretz because he doesn't deal in them.

Either way, the equivalency is obvious.

My Catholic neighbor is a child molester. I mean, she's never condemned the Catholic church for molesting children and launching a huge cover up campaign. In my hearing at least. Well, she might of, but since I don't speak Portuguese, I couldn't really say for sure, but the point is: I've never heard her denounce the church's child molestations in english to my face. Which would be tough since I don't talk to her much. But she's a child molester.

Why do not Muslims raise their voices against these at once planned and random killings all over the Islamic world?'

As noted above, they do--which renders your begged question a meaningless distraction.

Your ignorance of those voices does not mean they do not exist.

Which of these offenses, that derive from differing cultural influences, is more egregious?

You say this as if the badness of one has any bearing on the badness of the other. This is nothing more than a deflection that amounts to, "yeah, but look at what these guys over here did!"

Stepping out of the trees for a moment to get a good look at the forest, it sounds an awful lot like you agree with Peretz's bigoted screed. If you agree with his opinions of Muslims, come out and say so. But don't waste our time with question-begging and counterfactual tu quoque distractions.

This intense epidemic of slaughter has been going on for nearly a decade and a half...without protest, without anything. And it has been going for decades and centuries before that....

Which of these offenses, that derive from differing cultural influences, is more egregious?

I think that there is no support for the idea that, over the past several centuries, Muslims have been responsible for some vast majority of bad behavior worldwide.

Again, it is simply not true in any sense. There are plenty of voices in the Muslim world that condemn this violence, loudly and repeatedly, every time an incident occurs.

This reminds me of how the US right ignored women's issues in the Third World while women's groups in the US were trying to draw attention to them, and then once those issues became politically useful decided that not only were they important, but because the right had ignored the earlier protests they decided that they were the first group to say anything. And, to add insult to injury, derided the very groups who had been protesting all along for not doing so.

"There is hardly one who has raised a fuss..." This is just completely false, and insisting on it despite its documented falseness disqualifies anyone from claiming to have an informed opinion about the Park51 project. The truth is Peretz (like everyone else who keeps saying the same thing) has already decided that no amount of anti-terrorism "fuss" from Muslims will ever be enough.

At least once a month I think to myself, "I should subscribe to TNR" -- if only because I enjoy Jonathan Chait's blog so much. Then I remember the reasons I don't subscribe, of which Peretz is number one. My conscience wouldn't allow it.

This reminds me of how the US right ignored women's issues in the Third World while women's groups in the US were trying to draw attention to them, and then once those issues became politically useful decided that not only were they important, but because the right had ignored the earlier protests they decided that they were the first group to say anything. And, to add insult to injury, derided the very groups who had been protesting all along for not doing so.

I think this kind of phenomenon is a large part of why I have an increasingly hard time being anything close to civil when responding to conservative arguments: they are increasingly and overwhelmingly disconnected from reality, and usually in a very transparently bad faith way.

Whether that bad faith is from a deliberate intent to deceive or merely a chronic disregard for facts that are inconvenient to their worldview, the end result is the same. I'm really at an end to my willingness to treat bigotry and dishonesty as legitimate differences of opinion that bring value to public discourse, deserving of polite consideration and civil response. There comes a point where the only appropriate response is "what the fsck is wrong with you?", or words to that effect.

"Why do not Muslims raise their voices against these at once planned and random killings all over the Islamic world?'"

May I help?

They do. Constantly. Endlessly.

I recommend Marc Lynch as informative as to actual Middle Eastern and Islamic opinion and commentary.

Ironically, Rauf has spoken out against that violence repeatedly

And for his trouble he got called a "jihadist" on national TV by Sean Hannity.

Kafka would have a ball with this.

Another useful resource on Islamic voices against terrorism.

How many of General Petraeus' troops did Marty Peretz just murder?

Can he outgun the Southern Koran-burning Christian?

General David H. Petraeus couldn't comment.

How many of General Petraeus' troops did Marty Peretz just murder?

I doubt that Peretz' words make much of an impact. But they do, in some small part, serve to stoke the anti-Muslim bias and hatred that does impact our foreign policy objectives in Muslim countries - as one would expect.

This is getting depressing. Our only hope is that good ole boys all over the Muslim world will be informed enough and tolerant enough to understand that not ALL Americans are Koran-burning, mosque-denouncing, Islam-hating warmongers. In other words, we're screwed.

--TP

I don't understand what you're pointing to, Uncle Kvetch. I see stupid, I see ignorant, I see insensitive, I see complacent, I see dismissive, I see someone who should not be giving anyone advice more complicated than "My watch says the big hand is on the three", but I don't see any racial animus or suggestion that non-whites are inferior, scary, or hateful. It isn't in the same universe as Peretz's wish that Muslims all FOAD.

I don't understand what you're pointing to, Uncle Kvetch.

You know, maybe you're right, Mike. The big "story" with Dr. Laura was her use of the n-word, and when I actually read the transcript I thought that was really minor in the grand scheme of things.

I'll concede that she didn't say anything flat-out racist in the Peretzian sense. It was the cumulative effect of [paraphrasing]:

- her initial reaction to the caller's complaint: "How do you know you're not just hypersensitive? A lot of people are."

- "If this kind of thing is really a problem for you, maybe you should stick to relationships with your own kind."

- The fact that there's an African-American in the White House somehow somehow renders accusations of anti-African-American racism automatically suspect, if not ridiculous (or, as she puts it, "hilarious")

- Even if she'd avoided actually uttering the n-word, the blind pig-ignorance of the old chestnut "How come they get to say it and we don't?" still floors me, no matter how many times it gets dragged out.

Bottom line: in and of itself, minimizing or dismissing the reality of racism may not be racist, but it's certainly a central trope of racist discourse in this country today, along with the concomitant cries of white victimization. And that's what led me to apply the r-word here.

But having mulled it over, I'll concede the point.

Can I call her an *ssh*le?

I don't care if Dr. Laura is a bona fide racist or not, as long as she's off the air.

If I ever hear the word "bunchkin" again I'll puke.

There was a time when saying things like Peretz did actually had social consequences. From time to time it still does.

Don't mean to pick on you, Catsy, but it just makes me feel impatient when fellow liberals are so remedial as to believe in something like what you mean by 'polite society' in the US. It's long gone, and was probably overestimated even before. I hope I'm wrong, but Al Gore is not going to denounce Marty, and Jon Chait is not going to resign. They're *too* polite to do that, actually, and they are the only 'polite society' we have.

This is not a polite, genteel, well-educated, entirely civilized, country. We are merely rich. We - as a country, or at least as the elite of the country - aspired to those former qualities for a while, but that was an aberration, evidently. Things like believing in, and relying on, 'polite society' are why Liberals and Progressives are so hopeless at politics. We project our self-image of open-mindedness, generosity of spirit, and higher levels of education onto the country; movement conservatism projects its self image, too: superstition, religious and otherwise, ignorance, bigotry, and most of all, resentment. Guess which of the two visions finds easier purchase?

For pity's sake, it's not 1965 (or 1945). Depending on how it was polled, I would bet a pile of money that a majority of Americans would pretty much endorse every word Peretz said. That doesn't make it right - it's appallingly wrong! - but let's deal with the country as it actually IS, shall we? It's impossible to change anything until we do. What tiny 'polite society' we still have actually uses manners to *avoid* doing its own duty.

I don't disagree with Catsy's general point (I rarely do), but this is a little problematic if taken literally: "There was a time when saying things like Peretz did actually had social consequences."

That is, I'm skeptical there was a time in America when saying, or writing, "Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims" had social consequences.

But cleek's point, way above, is also well-taken: consequences from what you say tend to be proportional to degree of celebrity.

Non-famous people utter sentiments like Mel Gibson's every minute of the day in some bar, hair-style joint, or street, in America, with little or no consequence.

But cleek's point, way above, is also well-taken: consequences from what you say tend to be proportional to degree of celebrity.

Also proportional to not-right-wing-ness, see also: Ward Churchill or Shirley Sherrod.

One thing that struck me about Peretz's editorial is the poor quality of his writing. It's only one sample but parts of it are nearly incomprehensible.

Additionally, his mutterings about "commitments to foreign governments and, more likely, to foreign insurgencies and, yes, quite alien philosophies" could easily have come from any number of 19C. anti-Catholic or anti-Semitic screeds.

So, however the injustice of the charge might be, Peretz comes off as a semi-literate bigot.

"Also proportional to not-right-wing-ness, see also: Ward Churchill or Shirley Sherrod."

Yes.

"One thing that struck me about Peretz's editorial is the poor quality of his writing. It's only one sample but parts of it are nearly incomprehensible."

He's been like that for well over a decade.

"So, however the injustice of the charge might be, Peretz comes off as a semi-literate bigot."

He's been like that for well over a decade.

I don't disagree with Catsy's general point (I rarely do), but this is a little problematic if taken literally: "There was a time when saying things like Peretz did actually had social consequences."

That is, I'm skeptical there was a time in America when saying, or writing, "Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims" had social consequences.

Hmm, I think there was a time when saying things like that in public as a public figure *did* have social consequences, if by 'social' you mean some sort of elite society. It wasn't a very long time, in duration, but I think that throughout much of the latter half of the 20th century, that sort of thing would get you into trouble, socially, in, say, Washington, or in academia. If you said it at a party or in an informal group, maybe not.

But the whole idea of a belief in 'polite society' in this country just rubs me the wrong way - not because I don't wish there were such a thing, but because there isn't - or isn't enough to speak of.

I'm pretty sure the main reason people would react much differently if Perez had said, "But, frankly, Jewish life is cheap, most notably to Jews. And among those Jews, there is hardly one who has raised a fuss about the routine and random bloodshed that defines their brotherhood.",
is that it's conspicuously not true.

Mind you, it's not true about Muslims, either, but much less conspicuously so, given the nasty nature of so many majority Muslim states. There certainly are Muslims raising that fuss.

But there's no point in pretended they don't have an awful lot to raise a fuss about.

The man owns a magazine. Doesn't he employ one or more editors? The guy from timecube.com writes approximately as well as Peretz.

I can understand the desire to write bigoted screeds. I don't condone it, I don't do it, and I don't want to do it, but fear and hatred of "the other" is a common and comprehensible motive.

I cannot understand why he doesn't edit them better.

"I cannot understand why he doesn't edit them better."

He doesn't have anyone to edit them.

Neither have I ever read anyone praising Martin Peretz's skills as a line editor, though it's certainly entirely possible I missed many such articles, and I expect Jamie Kirchick has written one, if not several, such pieces.

But this is why actual editors exist.

And don't tend to be employed to edit their boss, or someone who brings more income into their company than they do.

"But, frankly, Jewish life is cheap"

For you, a bargain!

Mind you, it's not true about Muslims, either, but much less conspicuously so

For "Muslims" we could also try substituting "ignorant cracker rednecks" and see how far that trial balloon flies.

Insert any demographic you like and it's still stupid.

Seriously, if you're going to lead with "mind you it's not true about Muslims either" than why freaking bother to say anything at all.

If you want to get into "nasty states" then we should probably lump Koreans, central Asians, and any of your pick of post-colonial African folks in the mix as well. There's probably a dysfunctional Balkan state or two still floating around. Maybe even a South American banana republic.

But nobody is talking about depriving any of those folks living here of their first amendment rights.

The reason Peretz gets away with it is that hating on Muslims is a low-risk activity in the US right about now.

I know people joke about winning X number of internets and whatnot, but seriously, shouldn't Dan get some sort of prize?

Gary Farber didn't get much of a rise with his notes on articles where Muslims objected to terrorism, etc.

Just to be snarky off to the side - something I do so well most miss the point - there are many Palestinian semites too, once called Samaritans. It seems they - followers of Islam - honour that Jesus fellow as a prophet...since he spent some time there as a teacher. Not to mention those in Iran...which also has a Jewish population not interested in 'Right of return' to racist Israel...outpost of British-American colonialism promoting media controlled hatemongering.

Now I know other people follow different sources for headlines than I do. This thread is definite proof.

http://world.mediamonitors.net/Headlines/Terrorism-I-am-a-Muslim-I-am-a-victim-of-terrorism
"What do these people have to talk about Islam as a source of terrorism? And how could they accuse Muslims of terrorism, while they themselves are major exporters of terrorism? Can those who use torture, assassination, corruption and wars as their declared method of occupying one Muslim country after another and killing millions of innocent Muslims accuse those who defend freedom, dignity and sovereignty of terrorism?...The phrase which should be promoted on Arabic-language TV channels should be “I am a Muslim, I am a victim of terrorism”. As to our enemies, the stigma of terrorism, war, Judaization, settlement building, home demolishing, assassination and other crimes will haunt them throughout history, because they are the makers of terrorism regardless of their religion."

On the Road to Political Power and Theocracy
http://www.publiceye.org/eyes/sd_theo.html

Since 1975, leaders of the Christian Right have built one organization after another, with the avowed purpose of winning state power, i.e. the power to influence, if not dictate, public policy. Leaders of the Christian Right worked hand-in-glove with the Reagan and Bush administrations to wage murderous wars on civilians in Central America and southern Africa. Meanwhile, the North American left cackled along with the rest of the country at the ridiculous TV preacher scandals, which diverted people's attention from the really important players in the Christian Right. While everyone else was laughing, the Christian Right grew into the most formidable mass movement on the political scene today. We will enter the new millennium with the Christian Right in positions of state power.

Exit poll data indicate that about 25 percent of the people who voted in November 1994 were white evangelical Christians. Among these, about two-thirds voted Republican. There was nothing "stealth" about it. The stated agenda of the Christian Right in 1994 was to help deliver the Senate and Congress to the Republicans-and to credibly claim credit for doing just that. Each time around, the Christian Right is doing a better job of getting its people to the polls. In the 1992 presidential election, about 18 percent of the voters were self-identified white evangelicals. The figure for the 1990 midterm election was 15 percent.


Now, I really don't have to work too hard to collect intel which shows in graphic detail how controlled 'public discourse' really is. What kills me is the way you guys do a wonderful job of acting as if you know whether you're punched or bored...without ever getting down to explicit proof.

http://opitslinkfest.blogspot.com/2010/09/3-september-fighting-terrorism-is-meme.html

I didn't even mention that there are Palestinian Christians....and Assyrians Christian pacifists who have told the world that they have been victims of Ethnic Cleansing by Kurds ever since Saddam Hussein was ousted. See aina

In other news, it has now been revealed that the deep dark secret of Islam is not violence, but pedophilia.

Just ask pastor Robert "Bob" Jeffress of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.

h/t TPM

Now that it's been demonstrated that talking wild irresponsible crap about Muslims will get you in the headlines in a New York minute, we can expect more and more and more of this.

"There's probably a dysfunctional Balkan state or two still floating around."

Why, yes, there are. Albania, 70% Muslim, and Kosovo, 90% Muslim, come to mind...

"central Asians..."

Kazakhstan? 57% Muslim. Uzbekistan? 88% Muslim.
Tajikistan? 97% Muslim.
Kyrgyzstan? 75% Muslim.
Turkmenistan? 89% Muslim.

"post-colonial Africa..."

Sudan? 70% Muslim.
Senegal? 94% Muslim.
Somalia? 99.9% Muslim.
.....

"But nobody is talking about depriving any of those folks living here of their first amendment rights."

I'm not, either. I'm just pointing out that the reason people would roll their eyes if you made remarks like that about Jews, but not if you made them about Muslims, is that such a remark would be conspicuously WRONG about Jews. About Muslims? Not so wrong. Majority Muslim states DO tend to be nasty places. Some are poor, some have, thanks to oil, great wealth. But they're almost uniformly nasty.

Which way does the causality run? Are they nasty and poor because they're majority Muslim? Is it just coincidence? I don't know. But you really shouldn't pretend that those aren't the facts on the ground. Just because prejudice is morally wrong, doesn't make it always irrational.

"About Muslims? Not so wrong. Majority Muslim states DO tend to be nasty places. Some are poor, some have, thanks to oil, great wealth. But they're almost uniformly nasty."

And Brett palms the card where he attempts to substitute "some majority Muslim states" for "Muslims."

Peretz: "But, frankly, Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims."

Not "to the leaders of of some Muslim states."

And how failed is Indonesia, with a population of 228,582,000, 86.1% Muslim, anyway?

Or Turkey? 71,517,100 99.8%
Morocco? 33,723,418 99%
Malaysia? 27,730,000 60.4%

Uniformly nasty?

Regardless, it doesn't make Muslim people anything.

Brett: "Just because prejudice is morally wrong, doesn't make it always irrational."

Should people be particularly cautious in financial dealings with Jewish people?

If not, why not?

Just because prejudice is morally wrong, doesn't make it always irrational.

Actually, the reason prejudice is morally wrong is exactly and precisely because it is irrational.

Prejudice is pre-judging. It's forming or holding opinions or feelings, especially negative opinions or feelings, about things before you have all of the relevant information in hand.

If you'd like to argue the case that there is some cause and effect relationship between the fact that some states are majority Muslim and their crappy governance, feel free, but your argument will have to be stronger than the fact that some such states exist.

Gary's already provided the short list of majority Muslim states that are, actually, quite functional, and among others they include Indonesia, the largest majority Muslim state in the world.

If you need a short list of crap states that are not majority Muslim, either present-day or historical, I'm sure that can also be provided readily.

You're not presenting an argument here, you're slandering a billion and a half folks who practice a particular religion. And then you're not even owning it, you're hiding behind the "some might say..." dodge.

And for the record, if you want a second opinion on the nastiness or tendency toward violence of the world's only Jewish political state, ask any Palestinian.

One man's ceiling etc.

You often have very good points to make. This isn't one of them, IMVHO.

"Gary's already provided the short list of majority Muslim states that are, actually, quite functional,"

Oh, the list of such states that are quite functional is much longer. Whatever we think of their policies, Iran and Syria are quite functional states. And certainly so are the U.A.E., Kuwait, Brunei, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, Eqypt, Saudi Arabia, and so on.

I didn't want to confuse an argument about the "nastiness" of a state -- which is something we'd have to agree on some criteria for -- with an argument about functionality, which is something that can be pointed to without difficulty by avoiding marginal cases.

Note that "politically repressive," no matter how strongly, is not the same as not-functional. Functional meaning here, more or less, that the state has effective control comparable to that of most states, and is reasonably economically successful.

Stuff like political repressiveness, or state violence, would be a question of how "nasty" a state is or not, not a question of functionality.

Someone needs to get Brett a copy of Guns, Germs and Steel.

It would splode his head.

Gary's already provided the short list of majority Muslim states that are, actually, quite functional, and among others they include Indonesia, the largest majority Muslim state in the world.

If you need a short list of crap states that are not majority Muslim, either present-day or historical, I'm sure that can also be provided readily.

"Quite functional". I would say currently functional for the most part. If you were to prepare a list of all crap states, the incidence of governments negatively informed by Islam would be relatively small. However, the incidence of governments informed by totalitarian thinking would be high. The question, and Brett's point, if I have am getting it correctly, is that Islam can and does equate to totalitarian regimes at least as often as not. The frequency of Islamic populations being ruled in a totalitarian fashion in the name of Islam is not statistically insignificant. It is easy for casual observers, when you stack up a series of terrorist attacks perpetrated by Muslims going back to the early 80's, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, the current regime in Iran, to a lesser extent Syria, Lybia and elsewhere and cap it with 9-11, to conflate "many or most" Muslims with these events.

Kind of like the very rare commenter one can find on the web who conflates 'conservative' thinking with bad faith, economically illiterate, hyper-religious lunacy. But then, perhaps some generalizations are true and some prejudices are rationally-based.

It is easy for casual observers, when you stack up a series of terrorist attacks perpetrated by Muslims going back to the early 80's, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, the current regime in Iran, to a lesser extent Syria, Lybia and elsewhere and cap it with 9-11, to conflate "many or most" Muslims with these events.

This is a country where a significant number of people believe that the sun revolves around the Earth. The vast majority of Americans are incapable of locating Syria and Libya on a map, let alone discoursing on the nature of their governments. The truth is that most Americans don't know a damn thing about foreign countries in general, and that goes double for countries that are not highly developed nations. Which means that arguments premised on detailed knowledge of many states' internal political arrangements are simply absurd.

McTex: Have you ever read Guns, Germs and Steel?

If so, what do you think of Diamond's theses on the developmental advantages of certain geographies?

Yeah, Perez is a racist a-hole. At some point he just decided that Muslims are the enemies of Jews and stopped thinking.

There are a lot of people like him in this world, sadly.

"Quite functional". I would say currently functional for the most part. If you were to prepare a list of all crap states, the incidence of governments negatively informed by Islam would be relatively small. However, the incidence of governments informed by totalitarian thinking would be high.

Yeah, I would add Hitler and Stalin to the list of Islam's greatest monsters.

They were Muslims. Right?

And the colonial European powers spreading love and genocide to the "New World" as well as Africa and Asia.

Also Muslim IIRC.

Must be their religion that makes them do such things.

Catsy:

"I think part of what galls so much about this is that Marty Peretz is Jewish, and ought to fscking know better."

I've given up on my belief in this. I think it's pretty clearly not true that Jews "know better" about such things.

I'm not entirely sure it's fair to expect people who have endured trauma (or whose parents or other relatives have) to then be more tolerant, more intelligent, more... whatever. In fact, it might well be the opposite. Like the kid who is abused and grows up into an abuser.

The frequency of Islamic populations being ruled in a totalitarian fashion in the name of Islam is not statistically insignificant.

If you drop "in the name if Islam," you might almost have a point; "majority Muslim" is not at all the same is "ruled in the name of Islam." Libya is not an Islamist state; neither is Syria; neither is Egypt; neither are most of the Gulf states. (Look at places where the Muslim Brotherhood is banned.) Iran is no more totalitarian under the mullahs than it was under the Shah, and probably less so. Meanwhile, Turkey, Pakistan (for the moment), Indonesia are at least minimally functioning democracies.

Iraq, as it were, under Saddam was a secular state FWIW.

I've given up on my belief in this. I think it's pretty clearly not true that Jews "know better" about such things.

Speaking as a non-Jew, it seems like Jews in the US often do know better. In my rough experience, American Jews seem much more likely to know better than the average WASP. And I think that remains true even if you exclude Peretz and the other crazy Likudniks. I've often felt that the one thing I really don't like about American Jews is how damn few of them there are; I suspect our politics would be better off if we had a lot more Jews.

Turb,

All we have there is our experiences, I guess. I have 3 Jewish friends whose politics is fairly well known to me (that sentence sounds awful, sorry). They do to 2-for-3 on "knowing better." Sadly, the 3rd is an "average Joe" version of Perez.

Which means precisely nothing, of course. As does the fact that I'm mostly WASP (does the 1/4 Sicilian wreck things?) ;)

does the 1/4 Sicilian wreck things

I refer you to the Walken/Hopper scene in True Romance.

Otherwise, based on anecdotal evidence alone, I agree with Turb that we would be better off.

Almost all of my American Jewish friends are consistently thoughtful, progressive and, generally, "know better."

Best Family Guy episode ever. (Humanity advisory: deeply offensive. Well, you know, Family Guy.)

Eric:

I'm not McKinney, but having read GG&S I found it fairly persuasive re: why did "Old World" nations have an edge on the "New World" peoples. I don't think it really explains very well why certain Old World nations gained edges on other Old World nations. For instance, Europe & the ME were even on the "Germs" factor. "Guns" IIRC, was really more about his argument about population density (more pop = more specialists = tech advances), which the ME was fine for as well. Which leaves Steel. I don't think that really explains the different developments of, say, the UK and the Ottoman Empire.

I liked GG&S quite a bit, but I think you may be overselling it?

LOL. Yeah, I recall that scene. Very well, I'll turn in my "WASP" card.

One last comment on "knowing better" - do you think it's fair to expect that? I think it is only to the extent that the individual in question holds themselves out as someone who does (by, say, being a professional spotter of anti-semites). Which is to say, for example, Marty Perez. A private citizen? Unfair, IMO.

I don't think Diamond's point was that absolutely every cultural advantage could be explained by GG&S; just that certain large-scale differences could.

"Quite functional". I would say currently functional for the most part. If you were to prepare a list of all crap states, the incidence of governments negatively informed by Islam would be relatively small. However, the incidence of governments informed by totalitarian thinking would be high.

Yeah, I would add Hitler and Stalin to the list of Islam's greatest monsters.

They were Muslims. Right?

And the colonial European powers spreading love and genocide to the "New World" as well as Africa and Asia.

Also Muslim IIRC.

Must be their religion that makes them do such things.

Eric, did you miss the bolded part? Do you deny that Muslim countries are a minority of totalitarian countries but that a majority of Muslim-majority countries are totalitarian?

McTex: Have you ever read Guns, Germs and Steel?

I have not. I recall reading about it. What theory are you referring to?

If you drop "in the name if Islam," you might almost have a point; "majority Muslim" is not at all the same is "ruled in the name of Islam."

Hogan, how does that change things? The majority of Muslim majority countries are totalitarian seems to support the tendency to conflate, doesn't it?

I think you'd have better luck explaining outcomes in the middle east by citing the resource curse.

Of course, as Hogan and Eric point out, McTex's point doesn't make any sense given that most of these totalitarian regimes are not even remotely Islamic.

McTex, I know that you don't have a lot of experience with science and control groups and rigorous analysis, but before you calculate the fraction of Muslim majority nations that have non-democratic governments, shouldn't you calculate the fraction of non-Muslim-majority nations that have non-democratic governments?

The majority of Muslim majority countries are totalitarian seems to support the tendency to conflate, doesn't it?

Only if one handwaves away the fact that most of the other countries in the same regions are also totalitarian; or, IOW, what Turbulence pointed to just above me.

I mean, it's not for nothing that:

A) As the world's nations go, liberal democracies are fairly rare
B) They're all in mostly the same place
C) The few that aren't were largely settled or colonized by the people from countries in B above.

If one were to go strictly by GG&S, you'd expect some of the predominantly Islamic ME countries to be ascendant, because of where the Fertile Crescent is located.

Islam can and does equate to totalitarian regimes at least as often as not.

McK - The point is that this proves nothing, not that either Eric or I didn't see the bolded part of your comment. Correlation, causality, etc.

Also not sure what 'equate' means in this context...

but before you calculate the fraction of Muslim majority nations that have non-democratic governments, shouldn't you calculate the fraction of non-Muslim-majority nations that have non-democratic governments?

No, I don't think so. I doubt if the incidence of totalitarian vs. liberal regimes is subject to much in the way of meaningful statistical analysis other than to identify recurring markers. Majority Muslim countries tend toward totalitarianism. It's a marker. Not an exclusive marker, but a marker nonetheless.

Me: Islam can and does equate to totalitarian regimes at least as often as not.

JB: The point is that this proves nothing, not that either Eric or I didn't see the bolded part of your comment. Correlation, causality, etc.

IOW, it's a fact, but it's a meaningless fact? And to believe otherwise--even to raise the question--is irrational bigotry?

Also not sure what 'equate' means in this context...

Fair point. See my "marker" comment. I am not positing a cause-and-effect relationship.

No, I don't think so. I doubt if the incidence of totalitarian vs. liberal regimes is subject to much in the way of meaningful statistical analysis other than to identify recurring markers.

What does that even mean? Why do you think this question is not subject to meaningful statistical analysis whereas the exact same question focused on muslim-majority nations is?

Majority Muslim countries tend toward totalitarianism.

This is irrelevant. Countries in general tend toward totalitarianism. You have provided zero evidence indicating that Muslim majority nations are more likely than non-Muslim-majority nations to have authoritarian politics.

It's a marker. Not an exclusive marker, but a marker nonetheless.

You keep using this word marker. As far as I know, it does not appear in the political science literature at all.

Actually, if I remember my GG&S correctly, Diamond touches on this at the end of the book, giving some suggestions why the Fertile Crescent's comparative advantage eventually disappeared, but since these are more recent history (in terms of the book's scope), he only offers suggestions rather than fully fleshed out theories. At any rate, while the Fertile Crescent was rather fertile comparatively, when you started getting the large areas where grain could be grown, that advantage starts to disappear.

I liked GG&S quite a bit, but I think you may be overselling it?

No, he talks about how and why the fertile crescent got turned into desert, and it had nothing to do with Islam. But the effects were devastating for centuries to come.

I don't think Diamond's point was that absolutely every cultural advantage could be explained by GG&S; just that certain large-scale differences could.

Me too.

If one were to go strictly by GG&S, you'd expect some of the predominantly Islamic ME countries to be ascendant, because of where the Fertile Crescent is located.

But they were when the Fertile Crescent was still Fertile. Quite ascendant. Leading the West in fact.

Eric, did you miss the bolded part? Do you deny that Muslim countries are a minority of totalitarian countries but that a majority of Muslim-majority countries are totalitarian?

The question is of causality.

One could also point out that Muslim countries tend to be in warm climes. But does that mean that Islam affected the weather, or that the weather created an environment conducive to Islam?

Or was it the hot weather that led to totalitarianism? Or vice versa?

Point being: you are vastly overselling the causality quotient, and you are able to achieve this by dismissing the exceptions and ignoring other determinant factors explored in books like Diamond's.

(this conversation aside, I think you would really enjoy it)

Fascinating.

1) Allegedly liberal magazine publisher says something undeniably racist.

2) Actual liberals here and elsewhere are appalled and disgusted. They condemn the publisher for his undeniable racism.

3) This blog's handful of conservative commenters immediately argue with the liberals; they clearly can't ever agree with the liberals, but they also can't come right out and say the racist publisher is right or is not actually racist.

Either they agree with Peretz or they disagree, but they just can't bring themselves to agree with liberals.

Why can't they join the condemnation of the racist Peretz? Because they apparently agree with him that Islam is bad and its followers are bad people.

Don't deny this, fellas: What's the point of any of your comments here if not to say that Peretz isn't wrong?

Why can't these guys, just once, condemn bigotry rather than defend it?

Deck-Stacking (def.): " I doubt if the incidence of totalitarian vs. liberal regimes is subject to much in the way of meaningful statistical analysis other than to identify recurring markers."

I know I did.

Although obviously I need to go back and reread it, because the discussion that dealt with the climatic changes in the Fertile Crescent has completely fled my memory banks.

Me too. I'd forgotten that part.

Hogan, how does that change things?

Adding "in the name of Islam" gives major causative status to Islam. If you want to say that Islam isn't necessarily the cause of totalitarianism, then you really shouldn't put it that way, and you need some explanation of secular totalitarianism in Muslim states.

In any case you're up against a much more difficult historical problem than you're admitting: totalitarianism is a phase that lots of countries have gone through; taking a snapshot at any one moment and using that as your baseline doesn't make sense unless there's some feature of the current landscape that you want to argue is permanent. (See also "stacking the deck.") And at the risk of raising the ghost of Jeanne Kirkpatrick, you might want to consider whether any authoritarian government can be reasonably called "totalitarian."

McTex,
Naturally, Ive got a couple of problems with your thesis. People have already touched on eg the resource curse, but
1)you can't ignore the history: Iran appeared to be evolving into a democratic state until their desire to nationalize their oil industry led to a US- and UK-backed coup. Several Middle Eastern and North African states became Cold War pawns where- like Latin America- dictatorships were commonly supported by one side or the other.
2)You are counting numbers of states, but Im not sure how that becomes a good metric- again, because of accidents of history, there are many small countries in the Middle East. Between Bangaldesh (145m), India (160M), Indonesia (200M), Pakistan, (175M), Nigeria (80M), and Turkey (75M) more than half of the Muslims of the world live in democratic states. And that's not even counting the small Muslim populations in eg the US (which is considerably larger than the Muslim population of eg Qatar or Bahrain).

Slarti and Rob:

From the google, some excerpt's from Diamond:

Thus, Fertile Crescent and eastern Mediterranean societies had the misfortune to arise in an ecologically fragile environment. They committed ecological suicide by destroying their own resource base. Power shifted westward as each eastern Mediterranean society in turn undermined itself (...)

That is how the Fertile Crescent lost its huge early lead over Europe.

You did, Slarti? All I see from you are comments about GG&S. (And I'm not sure I get your last point. It looks like you're implying, but not saying outright, that ME countries should be far more advanced but being mostly Islamic they're not? If that's your point, I'd refer to Turb's point about the Resource Curse as a more likely explanation. If that's NOT what you're saying, then, uh, never mind...)

Anyway, I was really aiming at GOB's ignorant "why don't they condemn terror?" comment (nicely eviscerated by several others) and BB's and McKT's insistence that Islamic countries are nasty which means... what exactly? That Peretz is right about Muslims? That Muslims don't value human life like "we" do (bombing campaigns notwithstanding) so we shouldn't grant American Muslims the "privileges of the First Amendment?"

If they agree with this, they should say so, instead of beating around the bush like they are, trying to come up with justifications for anti-Islam prejudice without coming right and saying they agree with someone the rest of us recognize as a bigot.

In other words, what exactly is their point?

And to reiterate Hogan's point at the top of the thread- since when does the First Amendment give us privileges and not rights?

I'm guessing Peretz chose that word deliberately. He damned well does know the difference- rights can't be denied anyone. If they can be denied, they are not rights at all but privileges. He wants to deny Muslim citizens their 1st Amend. rights so he has to pretend that they're not rights at all. Because he's a dishonest hack as well as a bigot.

Eric,

I wonder if their environment was really more fragile or if they just had a head start on destroying it...

Oddly, I think I remember his arguments in Collapse even less than I remember GG&S, though I read Collapse more recently (his argument about the root cause of the rise of Islam struck me as weak - that I do remember).

I've given up on my belief in this. I think it's pretty clearly not true that Jews "know better" about such things.

I didn't say he/they did know better, I said he/they ought to. History being what it is, you'd think that would be unassailable.

I'm not entirely sure it's fair to expect people who have endured trauma (or whose parents or other relatives have) to then be more tolerant, more intelligent, more... whatever. In fact, it might well be the opposite. Like the kid who is abused and grows up into an abuser.

We're not talking about an abusive parent, we're talking about the assembly-line murder of millions that left incalculably deep cultural scars which persist to this day. Those scars very specifically include hard lessons, passed from generation to generation, about the consequences of a society deciding it doesn't like a particular religious minority.

The child abuse analogy is almost offensively inapt.

One last comment on "knowing better" - do you think it's fair to expect that?

I think it's entirely fair. Just as I think it's fair to expect gays to know better than to trash transgenders and other sexual minorities, for women to know better than to favor sexist policies, and for Lego enthusiasts to not make fun of people who collect My Little Ponies. It's an expectation that someone who is a member of a given group that has endured something unjust to know better than to inflict that injustice on another. And it is particularly fair in the case of Jews, who have been the favorite scapegoats of dozens of cultures across thousands of years and suffered one of the most horrific and brutal acts of genocide of the 20th century for no other reason than that they were Jews, to know better than anyone what happens when a society makes a particular religion their whipping boy.

"The frequency of Islamic populations being ruled in a totalitarian fashion in the name of Islam is not statistically insignificant."

Would you care to measure it against the frequency of non-Muslim populations being ruled in totalitarian fashion in the last fifty years? Or even just today?

Eric: "Almost all of my American Jewish friends are consistently thoughtful, progressive and, generally, 'know better.'"

I know a bunch more American Jews than you do, I bet, which is why I can't say the same thing.

The older generation does tend to be worse, but there are plenty of younger Jews who don't question what they brought up to believe as regards the Israeli/Palestinian narrative.

but before you calculate the fraction of Muslim majority nations that have non-democratic governments, shouldn't you calculate the fraction of non-Muslim-majority nations that have non-democratic governments?

No, I don't think so. I doubt if the incidence of totalitarian vs. liberal regimes is subject to much in the way of meaningful statistical analysis other than to identify recurring markers.

This doesn't make sense to me; either you want to make a point about non-democratic governments using numbers, or you don't.

"We're not talking about an abusive parent, we're talking about the assembly-line murder of millions that left incalculably deep cultural scars which persist to this day. Those scars very specifically include hard lessons, passed from generation to generation, about the consequences of a society deciding it doesn't like a particular religious minority."

It's my extremely strong opinion that non-Jews overwhelming over-estimate the import of the Shoah/Holocaust on post-Shoah Jewish paranoia and overwhelmingly under-estimate the import of the three thousand-year history of antisemitism that is the history of the Jewish people that goes before that.

Zionism predates WWII. So does Jewish worry about antisemitism, to put it mildly.

The Shoah was just a recent iteration of particular efficiency, but in the overall narrative of the Jews, it's just a recent blip in a story of exile, slavery, persecution, and mass killings, to Babylonia, Egypt, Europe, etc. The Shoah did not contribute to Herzl's reasoning, nor that of his contemporary followers, nor that of Jews for thousands of years before.

"And it is particularly fair in the case of Jews, who have been the favorite scapegoats of dozens of cultures across thousands of years and suffered one of the most horrific and brutal acts of genocide of the 20th century for no other reason than that they were Jews, to know better than anyone what happens when a society makes a particular religion their whipping boy."

I'm pretty sure it's not fair to treat individuals primarily as representatives of any group they haven't been elected to represent.

There's a period at the end of that sentence.

I know a bunch more American Jews than you do, I bet, which is why I can't say the same thing.

Ironically, the older ones I know are the less progressive ones.

And Gary, I know a lot. Grew up in NY and LI.

Those scars very specifically include hard lessons

The trouble with scars is that they don't have specific meanings. If all you're doing is examining scars, the hard lesson of "don't let this happen to anyone else" is no more or less likely to be learned than the hard lesson of "do it to them before they do it to you." Both of which could be summarized as "never again."

The older generation does tend to be worse, but there are plenty of younger Jews who don't question what they brought up to believe as regards the Israeli/Palestinian narrative.

Sure, there are many Jews in the US that have political beliefs regarding I-P that I, as an Arab, find distasteful or completely nuts. But I can say the exact same thing about tens of millions of Christians in the US. And when it comes to pretty much any foreign policy topic outside of the middle east, American Jews seem a great deal more sane than the average non-Jewish American.

I think perceptions might be confused on this issue because the traditional American Jewish organizations seem to espouse a politics far to the right of the median American Jewish voter. Hence the rise of J Street. My sense is that the Jews dominating the national conversation are often not representative of American Jews.


Both of which could be summarized as "never again."

Hogan, thanks for saying this much better than I could have.

It's my extremely strong opinion that non-Jews overwhelming over-estimate the import of the Shoah/Holocaust on post-Shoah Jewish paranoia and overwhelmingly under-estimate the import of the three thousand-year history of antisemitism that is the history of the Jewish people that goes before that.

That would, I believe, be the three-thousand year history of antisemitism that I very explicitly called out in a passage on which you even quoted me.

I'm pretty sure it's not fair to treat individuals primarily as representatives of any group they haven't been elected to represent.

And I'm pretty sure that's not even remotely what I'm doing. And if you re-read what I've written carefully, I think you'll see that.

I'm not generalizing about the traits held by a given group or holding individuals of that group responsible for or representative of the whole group. There is a vast gulf of difference between saying, "you are a ___, that means you can be described as X or are representative of all ____", and saying, "you are a ___, a member of a group that has suffered and continues to suffer X simply because of who they are, and ought to know better than to treat others the same way." I'm not saying all Jews do know better--that's a self-evidently false generalization. I'm saying--and have consistently said from the very first comment--that they , which is a completely different assertion. And that's particularly true for someone like Peretz, who has no imaginable excuse for being unaware of the history and consequences of antisemitism and its applicability to how Muslims are being treated in this country now.

A period at the end of your sentence does not make that sentence any less a misreading of my point.

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