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December 31, 2004

Comments

If we're truly in an ideological war--as so many in the Bush administration have said--then it's time to name the ideology we're fighting against.

i agree 100%.

but reading this (from you no less) immediately makes me think back to the election. one of the candidates mentioned Saudi Arabia and their ideological exports, and the other one didn't. the candidate who didn't call out S.A. (and never has) won.

this country is apparently perfectly happy to ignore the root of this problem. for all the right's talk of "war of civilizations" and dire warnings of all our women being forced to wear burkas unless we show the Will To Win, there's a baffling lack of attention given to the root of the problem.

if Wahhabism is a major part of the problem, and if it can take root in one of the most tolerant of all western democracies (the Netherlands), why should anyone believe that democracy itself is going to stop it - even if we can manage to make it happen in Iraq ? and, at this point, that's all we're hearing from BushCo - democracy itself will chase away evil.

Great post, Chas, but I also echo cleek's point about SA.

A further question I have is there is a tension between the situation that Schwartz describes in Greece and the situation Caldwell describes in Holland, in that Greece is described has being successful in assimilating Islam, but Holland was not (admittedly by two different authors) You seem to agree (or at least did when you wrote the Redstate post) with Caldwell when he suggests that the process of pillarization in Holland has resulted in a situation where radical Islam, coupled with an aggressive attitude by people pushing multiculturalism represents the outlines of the future conflict. But Schwartz suggests that the Greeks have been able to reach an understanding with Islam that is being disrupted by the outside influence of Wahhabism, supported by Saudi oil money. Furthermore, Schwartz, in his interview with K-Lo, argues
U.S. media listens to the so-called "Arab street," which is essentially irrelevant, filled as it is with yelling loiterers, or engages in polling exercises asking loaded questions.

Yet Caldwell argues
The weekly magazine Contrast took a poll showing that just under half the Muslims in the Netherlands were in "complete sympathy" with the September 11 attacks. (Yes, I know that Schwartz is saying US media, but I note that Caldwell fails to note that the other responses, which seems to be precisely the thing that Schwartz is complaining about)

cleek wrote:
if Wahhabism is a major part of the problem, and if it can take root in one of the most tolerant of all western democracies (the Netherlands), why should anyone believe that democracy itself is going to stop it

I'd be interested in Dutchmarbel's view on this. Pillarization mentioned in Caldwell's article came about (I think) to deal with the problem of Moluccan separatists and that approach basically solved the problem, so I think it is unfair to blame the problems of Muslim assimilation when it served as an admirable vehicle for dealing with an earlier pressing problem in dutch society.

Again, welcome and look forward to your posts in the coming year

I can't, offhand, think of any repugnant philosophy that lost followers because it was repugnant. Since not too many people consciously decide to "be evil," they obviously don't see what's repellent about their beliefs.

War doesn't work, either; or "works" so rarely (the Allied victory over Nazi Germany, and Communist Vietnam's victory over the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia) as to be anomalous.

Americ'a Civil War only ended slavery; the repugnant philosophy of racism is still alive and well. WWI wasn't an ideological war. The Soviet Union's dissolution was driven by economics: we won no major military engagements against it. Driving the Taliban out of Afghanistan ended only the Taliban's rule - and, apparently, only temporarily: the Taliban still holds power in parts of Afghanistan. War didn't end the Inquisition, nor absolutist monarchy, nor even the Roman Empire.

War ends specific threats; not philosophies.

So what does defeat repugnant philosophies? Economic pressure. Diplomatic isolation. Most often, though, repugnant philosophies die out by natural causes: the societies subject to them tend to be totalitarian, and static, and are overtaken by more open, flexible, progressive cultures - as happened to, for example, Inquisition Spain.

I remember the discussion about "waging war" on Wahabism on Tacitus. It devolved to the proponents saying "Just kill everyone who professes Wahabism," which is itself repugnant.

Trying to find some more cites for pillarization, I found this nov thread on Obwi based on a post by Sebastian. I wasn't correct about pillarization (the link in the thread describes it as taking place at the end of the 19th century) and conflated that with Moluccan separatists. Re-reading the Caldwell link makes it a bit more clear what he is at. However, pillarization seems to be a process for a 'separate but equal' conception of relations with other groups. Yet on the right, there is a deep suspicion of multiculturalism, so Caldwell is (I think) decrying something that multiculturalism solves, or at least alleviates.

But I still think my original point stands, which is that Caldwell suggests that Islam and democracy cannot be partners, while Schwarz suggests that it is not Islam, but a sect with Islam. If Schwarz is correct, we should be taking steps to integrate Islam and isolate Wahabism.

If there is any topic a blog trying to be what Obsiwi thrives to be, it could be this one. My words will contribute little, but I have real, if elementary, questions and real humans-that-want-a-future-for-their-children’s concerns.

I share CaseyL's thoughts, maybe from a different platform. I agree that war does not work as a singular tactic. And again, where do we wage this war. Fly paper is wrought with legitimate moral questions that have little consensus. If a geographic area can be identified as some sort of military or training or lawless springboard, it presents itself as a target with only localized impact, even if deemed necessary.

"So what does defeat repugnant philosophies?" Or better yet, how to assist in the de-repugnantizing of a religion. I understand one of the basic elements of Wahabism is to fight against what they view as decadent. I'm sure there is much in Western Society that can be viewed as decadent. Philosophically, any group using religion as a power structure can easily use just about any concept to claim decadence. We do some of that here certainly.

It would seem the concentrated use of economic pressure would feed the boiling pot. And besides, the strength of Wahabism must come from Arab oil revenues. Talk about going to war for oil. In 'space alien attack' movies, sometimes the simplest earthly concepts foil the monster. Could it be something as inevitable as alternate fuels technology? Who will control the wealth created by the next discovery?

"Diplomatic isolation"? Humans choose sides. Even though we are the most benevolent nation on the globe, we are also the biggest, most powerful, arguably the most envied - therefore, naturally the most feared. The bigger they are....

It's seems diversity and true education could truly be mosquito screens. Democracy should be able to chase away evils, if the democracy itself does not become evil.

If Wahabism 'takes root' anywhere, but does evil things like funding terrorism, then we should wage war against them. If Wahabism can be a contributing neighbor due to the cleansing of evil intent by educated, diverse, free thinking citizens exercising some democratic process, then the 'war' may be won.

A New Year's resolution. We need a body of nations, united, with their mission predicated on negotiating the peaceful existence of all our world citizens.

cleek,
Kerry went part way in criticizing the Saudis, but neither candidate could bring themselves to say anything critical about Wahhabism. Maybe I'm standing alone on this, but the next step (actually the first step) needs to be taken, i.e., identifying and naming the ideology that undergirds most of the world's terrorism today. Bush needs to take a harder stance against the House of Saud and its evangelistic ways. The problem with Arabia is that if the Sauds are swept out of power, the alternative could be much worse. But that shouldn't stop us from speaking truth of the matter.

I'd like to hear dutchmarbel's perspective on this, but it seems the extremist problem in the Netherlands is the result of leadership with its head in the sand, trying so hard to be multicultural and tolerant, all the while letting an intolerant subculture into its society.

Casey,
The term "war" is an overused word. The ideological struggle against Wahhabism has similarilarity to the Cold War and our fight against communist ideology. With the Wahhabs, we fight those who take arms against us, but our long-term challenge is to expose it, discredit it, bankrupt it and defeat it in the marketplace of ideas. Much of it rests with other more enlightened Muslim denominations stepping up and reclaiming their faith.

CaseyL, I think you're onto something in your analysis of when wars do and do not work. But I disagree with your conclusion that World War II was an anomaly. To effect profound societal change it's not sufficient to defeat the enemy's army on the field of battle—you must actually threaten his society with extinction.

We haven't been ready to do that and, perhaps, shouldn't be in our current conflict with radical Islamist terrorists. That's why I've been skeptical about our efforts to date. Time will tell.

And, BTW, IIRC Wahhabis vehemently deny that the problem is with Wahhabism. They appear to say that the problem is with Salafism.

Good post, CB (even if much of it wasn't yours) - but framing the terms of the "war" (quotes deliberate - the term has many definitions, as we all know) against violent Islamist radicalism - and its Wahhabist expression in particular - has many many problems; most of which date back a good long time, and most of which have defied any "solution".
If, as you wrote in your main post:
"If we're truly in an ideological war--as so many in the Bush administration have said--then it's time to name the ideology we're fighting against."
you have put your finger on one of the principal problems right there: The Bush Administration. How likely do you think it is that ANY Bush (given the family's longstanding Saudi ties) will EVER do anything that might even hint at threatening the Royal Family's hold on power (and control over so much oil)?
Putting the conflict with radical Islam in strictly cultural/religious/societal terms is one thing (and I quite agree with Stephen Schwartz's view re Greece) - but when it comes to Arabia itself, there are also vastly important geopolitical/economic factors that come into play: none of which can easily be ignored.
It should not be news to anyone who has studied the history of modern Arabia that the "Body Politic" of the Saudi state is an irretreivably conjoined, symbiotic creature. Whether "heretical" or no, the Wahhabist sect of Islam (fundamentalist, puritanical, theocratic, intolerant and violent) is the Official State Religion. The Saudi state (i.e. the ruling al-Saud family) supports the Wahhabis; the Wahhabi power-structure legitimizes the Saudi state - neither can maintain their power and/or prestige without the other: the two structures are self-maintaining and self-supporting, and have been even before Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud came to power in the 1920's (for all their "royal" pomp, the al-Saud were little more than backwater warlords until after WWI - their rise to control was helped immensely by "unofficial" assistance from Wahhabi militias).
"Fighting" Wahhabism is, in effect, tantamount to fighting Saudi Arabia itself, and attempts to stem the aggressive proselytizing the Wahhabis practice (and the Saudis fund) have, so far, been fruitless.
Like you, I agree that
"Bush needs to take a harder stance against the House of Saud and its evangelistic ways."
Unfortunately, I would place the odds on the likelihood of this somewhere down in asteroid-impact levels (if not lower).

Are there no Wahhabi moderates? Is the entire sect to be reprogrammed? What's the solution called for here?

It does seem that fighting "Wahhabism" is declaring war on Saudi Arabia...is that possible?

What I'm getting at here is, how finely will this "name the enemy" campaign need to be parsed to give it any teeth but not ignite a powder keg?

I'm not sure that a strict adherent of Wahhabism can be a moderate, Edward. As for my solution, we need to identify it for what it is, challenge its doctrine, bankrupt it, fight it if members take up arms and ultimately discredit it and toss it in the ash heap of history. Does this mean a realignment with Saudi Arabia? Yes, if the House of Saud remains entwined with this sect. As for whether this is a "powder keg", I think it's better to confront it and expose it than to let it linger around and fester and grow. Better a smaller exploding keg now than a larger one down the road.

But that powder keg has gun powder lines leading into not a few US power families. Although I know it's hard, isn't the real solution here for Greece (and others, including the US) to stop accepting funds from Saudi Arabia on all fronts, so that when they want to build another mosque that country and say, the local Muslims can build a mosque if they raise the money but we won't let you import one.

What you're gingerly calling a "realigment" actually needs to be an addition to the Axis of Evil, no?

Wow, talk about it the ground running! This is a great discussion. I have oproblem with a foreign policy bent on marginalizing an extremist sect. In fact I totally support such a policy. I just don't see how the nvasio of a country tat didn't have sigificant ties to that extremist sect can be seen as helpful. There are after all three other Islamic democracies ( of a sort) in the Middle East to provide models, if one thinks in terms of democracy spreading by example. Native home grown democracies are much more likey to be models for their neighbors than democracies created a gun point by an outsider.
The extreme forms of Islam are really a kind of nationalism, a cultural rather than nation oriented nationalism. Nationalism tends to be stregnthened by attack and weakened by openness. No I am not suggesting tat we shouldn't fight. I am saying tat we should pick the battles very carefully. We had to attack Afganistan, in my opinion. But our invasion of Iraq is likely to end up counterproductive in terms of decreasing support for extremism.
Also, Inoticed i yor post , Charles , that you don't think a democratically chosen democracy is an acceptable outcome i Iraq. It certainly isn't the outcome we want, but if the goal is truley democracy, don't we have to live with what they decide? If the Iraqis establish, through elections, a government that is more fundamentalist and less secular than The Bush administration foresaw, what do yo think we should do? If we stay and keep trying to impose our preferences, won't we make ourselves look like we are only trying to impose our control? We can't marginalize an extremist movement if we rile up nationalist feelings because an increase in nationalism will tend to move people toward extremism.

Please excuse all the typos. And I meant "a democratically chosen theocracy".

Edward,
SA part of the Axis of Evil? I don't know. If they knowingly harbor al Qaeda terrorists and give them funding, then the answer would be "yes".

As for the Greek angle, you're right. The mosque wouldn't be there if the Greeks refused Saudi funding, but that seems to be more like solving the sympton and not addressing the real and larger worldwide problem.

If little trails of TNT happen extend to "certain powerful US families", so what. Let's get it out in the open. But if you saw in one of my links, our relationship with the Sauds extends back to the 1930s. It won't be easy, but I think we should pursue an aggressive policy of engagement with the Saudis to get them to reduce or cut ties with these fundamentalists. At the same time, we should also start a gradual process of divestment until we start seeing positive changes. The terrorist attacks in Riyadh were a wake-up call to the Saudis. We'll see if they respond accordingly.

1890s

This is a thread from Yglesias saying the present situation resembles Pre-WWI more than the cold war. It refers to a previous thread and is more about Salafism than Wahhabism, but the two certainly are connected. The point become the complicated nature of all the late 19th century socialist movements, and whether acting as if Bolsehviks and Mensheviks and anarchists and Fabians were identical caused more difficulties than a nuanced approach. There are some excellent comments, not my own.
....
As far as Wahhabism and Saudi Arabia are concerned, I am not real concerned about a lack of public criticism and the careful approach, because well, SA is bigger than we are. Though it could be corruption or stupidity, it might be cautious strategy.

Only half joking. Between the Saudi ability to wreak havoc on Western economies and control of the holy sites

(imagine if SA simply closed the borders to hajj; yes Muslims might blame SA, but that is not experience, they would rather blame the West)

and wide influence over Islamic inhabitants around the globe an attack or threat on Saudi Arabia is very very dangerous. Silent extremely secret work on a internal coup is the best bet, but even that will be very difficult.

lily,
There're democracies and then there're democracies in name only. Iran is a DINO. I think the more apt standard is freedom, such as that measured by Freedom House. Nothing would please me more than to see Iraq join the ranks of a Turkey, which is at least "partly free".

Let's assume Charles Bird has properly identified the problem and the challenge.

Questions:

What is King Fahd's ultimate goal in spreading Wahhabism in the West?

What specific steps should be taken? Preventing the Islamic Center in Athens from being built? If so, what does the Greek government do with the 120,000 people in Athens and the 500,000 nationwide? Particularly those who will be further radicalized by these steps. Multiply this action across Europe .... mass deportations?

If all is as Charles Bird tells us, and I'm not sufficiently informed to doubt his opinions on this subject, why should we do business with Saudi Arabia for a single minute more? I'm not interested in funding and strengthening extremism through my energy purchases only to have young Americans fight and die so that I can continue to do the same over and over again. Why does "bankrupting" this foe not specifically include radical, immediate, and expensive (including raising taxes) change to our energy infrastructure?

Someone will explain to me, I expect, that oil is a fungible commodity so there's is nothing we can do. I will answer that human life is not fungible.

Mr. Bird -

You are correct in pointing to the twin evil ideologies of Qutbism and Wahhabism. I think that what has to happen is that the House of Saud has to figure out a way to open up political space in the kingdom (allegedly what the municipal elections and the dialogue things are all about) while severing its relationship with the House of Shaykh (the descendents of Wahhab who are the real nutbars). It's going to be rough going. I suggest investing in oil sands.

I wasn't thinking of Iran. Jordan has a elected parliament, and Yeman and Lebanon are described as "multi-party democracies" in a recent reference book. But the fact remains, if Iraq becomes a democracy that means they get to decide how to run their country and we don't. If we are imposing some kind of boundaries on their choices then it isn't a democracy and we will run right up against increasing feelings of nationalism. That, of course, runs counter to the goal of margnalizin extremism.

John -

King Fahd is effectively brain-dead. There is a long-standing agreement whereby the House of Saud buys legitimacy from the religious establishment by plunging money into spreading the faith abroad. So it's not King Fahd per se. At the same time, however, the regime has an economic interest in gaining allies in Central Asia because it (rightly) fears that the U.S. is trying to pump up oil & gas production there in order to gain leverage over the KSA and keep prices low.

As I've mentioned before on Tacitus - Chechnya began receiving Saudi $ in the late 1980's. Basayev, a chechen, is a Wahabbi - a religion that's foreign to that land. Also, there was a number of reports of churches being destroyed over there. Many have been saying for years, that without the money that's being sent by the arabs, the Chechen war would've been over a long time.

The fact that the Saudis can easily plant their outposts anywhere in the world, including here, is scary.

Here's an interesting statistic:

Scholars of Islam find it difficult to precisely assess the impact of 40 years of Saudi missionary work on the United States' multi-ethnic Muslim community -- estimated at 6 million to 7 million. But survey data are suggestive.

The most comprehensive study, a survey of the 1,200 U.S. mosques undertaken in 2000 by four Muslim organizations, found that 2 million Muslims were "associated" with a mosque and that 70 percent of mosque leaders were generally favorable toward fundamentalist teachings, while 21 percent followed the stricter Wahhabi practices. The survey also found that the segregation of women for prayers was spreading, from half of the mosques in 1994 to two-thirds six years later.

Cutting off all economic relations with SA has a visceral appeal, but runs into the same problems as the "war on terror" has already run into: it doesn't take unintended consequences into account.

If I'm reading CB correctly, the issue isn't the Saudi Family per se; it's their sponsorship of Wahabism. If we were to stop buying oil from SA, that probably would unleash enough internal havoc to bring down the House of Saud. But that doesn't mean the end of the Wahabis. In the short term, at least, the Wahabis are likely to come out on top of the resultant power struggle. As much as I dislike the Sauds, and Saudi Arabia, and even the Bush Family's ties to the Sauds, the fact is that whoever replaces the Sauds will not only NOT have a long-standing relationship with with US, but will in fact be implacably hostile to the US.

There are other customers for "Wahabi Arabian" oil. China comes immediately to mind. What's to stop a new Wahabist regime from making China their most-favored customer? So what we'd have then is a Wahabi regime, in control of Arabian oil, with close ties to a country that's already a major holder of US debt, is a fast-growing, up-and-coming economic competitor with the US, *and* is positioning itself to be a geopolitical competitor as well.

A Wahabi Arabia-China relationship mirroring the current Saudi-US relationship strikes me as a really, really bad trade-off. The repercussions to our own economy if we cut off our major oil supplier would actually be among the least of our problems; the potential for global destabilization is mind-boggling. One thing's for sure: it would help, not harm, the Wahabist Crusade.

Unless we're ready to step in with our own satrapy to replace the Sauds, fast, before chaos takes over -and how likely is that, considering our record in reshaping the ME so far? - abrupt, forced change is not a good idea. We'd be exchanging bad for worse, and not just for the short-term.

What is King Fahd's ultimate goal in spreading Wahhabism in the West?

May I take a crack at this one? There are lots of reasons the Saud family could be financing missionary activities in the West. First and foremost, it's an act of piety. Financing missionaries is a time-hallowed and relatively painless act of piety particularly among the wealthy and others who might not be living quite as pious a life as they might like or might like to appear to. It's painless because there's lot more money where that came from and it doesn't require them so change their lifestyles.

It's also politically prudent. Not only does it assuage the more radical and fundamentalist forces at home but sending potential opposition foot soldiers overseas as missionaries can be a good safety valve.

Building goodwill and support among Muslim populations in the West may also be prudent from the standpoint of keeping Western governments off balance and reducing their willingness to take actions adverse to the Sauds.

How'm I doing, praktike?

TechCentralStation? C'mon, are we seriously going to start discussing articles in Horowitz's Frontpage or NewsMax?

Cleek put this topic to bed in the first comment. Not only have we coddled SA--even so far as trying to keep their name out of the 9/11 Senate Intelligence Failures Report--we also encouraged Wahhabism during the Soviet misadventure in Afghanistan.

And, no, this doesn't rise to the level of a "clash of civilizations."

Good points, Dave. I think that the extent of Saudi influence-buying activities in the United States is routinely underestimated. For instance, a shocking number of University Arabic and ME studies programs are funded by the royal family, e.g. Berkeley's is made possible by a generous grant/stipend from Prince Sultan. A cynic would look at America's ME policy as the product of a proxy war between the Israeli and Saudi lobbies in Congress and the American media. The Saudis keep a somewhat lower profile than the Israelis do, however, given that there is no grassroots pro-Saudi community in the United States. Complicating all of this is the fact that Saudi Arabia's Ambassador, Prince Bandar, is a CIA agent. I don't know as much about their funding of mosques in the U.S., however, although I do think that the American Muslim community has overwhelmingly rejected extremism.

I should add that lots of other Muslims, e.g. in Bahrain, aren't so down with Wahhabism either.

BTW, there's a fascinating debate going on chez ideofact about Qutb. Bill read the entirety of Milestones and fisked the hell out of it so others don't have to, but a Qutb fan has been arguing with him.

Well I just wrote a longer post that got eaten by typepad. The essence was that events conspire to make us question obvious assumptions. Consider the Wahabbi boarding schools of Indonesia, the impact of charity and assistance they have within established social networks of Indonesia, and the fact that a catastrophe of biblical proportions has just struck.

It is a concern that Wahabbism could be elevated in the aftermath of the tsunami (I'm talking a decade here), and diplomatic efforts coupled with shrewd use of aid efforts might forestall any radical momentum that might push the youth in the direction of Jemmah Islamiya or similar groups.

That's sorta what I wrote before typepad ate it. Good discussion.

There is one parallel that I think is worth discussing and that is the isolation and repudiation of anarchism (apologies in advance to Anarch) within Western society. However, anarchism was repudiated not because an external force repudiated, but because public opinion (both of society and of the potential candidates) went against it. If the parallel holds, the way to undercut Wahhabism is witin Islam itself. However, the harder we (as an external force to Islam) attempt to eradicate it, the more likely it will flourish. Unfortunately, I've seen no evidence that the admin or the military understands this. Unfortunately, to allow moderate Muslim groups enough power to deal with the threat of Wahhabism means allowing them to flourish in goverments which we have generally supported as secular bulwarks against Islam, including Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and others. Having Greece 'defend' Islam against Wahhabism is precisely dealing with a symptom rather than the disease.

Also, the point that SA exports Wahhabism to transfer the threat as a safety valve seems pretty well documented. I don't have a cite, but the story of the terrorism suspect who, when confronted with interrogators who pretended to be from SA, was relieved hasn't been debunked, I think. Pakistan seems to be another situation like this.

I'd also note that claims that Turkey shouldn't join the EU because the EU fundamentally represents a Christian viewpoint is precisely the wrong thing to do. Dave Schuler and CaseyL also point out some worthwhile problems. In keeping with my Sino phobia/philia, I recommend we get familiar with the Battle of Talas in the coming decade.

Wanted to pass on this url
http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20050101fareviewessay84113b/mahmood-mamdani/whither-political-islam.html?mode=print

Which should give some food for thought.

Stan LS

The survey also found that the segregation of women for prayers was spreading, from half of the mosques in 1994 to two-thirds six years later.
Be advised that if you consider this a problem, you also have to take issue with every Othodox and Ultra-Orthodox synagogue around. It's one of the unfortunate trade-offs of living in a tolerant society -- religious tolerance vs. women's rights. The more we remain tolerant of all the odious extremes of every religion, the more we tacitly allow not just women to volunteer to be mistreated, but to raise their daughters and teach them it's right. But the alternative is to come into conflict with the hatemongering scum in such a manner that fosters and breeds even more resentment.

I am and remain a subscriber to the "give 'em enough rope" school of combating fundamentalism. It's hard, very hard, for extremists to whip up mass support from a pulpit that translates into terrorist actions if people actually live in the society that's being denounced and have a stake in it. The best way, in fact probably the only way, to stop fundamentalist ideas being translated into terrorist actions is to give people something to lose. You'll never stop the extreme hardcore terrorist cells who explicitly call for violent acts against the government from gaining their handful of crazy-whacko supporters, but then nothing you ever do will stop that, and in any event outright incitement to violence crosses the line that even a religiously tolerant society like Britain will not go.

We have our own radical Mullahs, who the right-wing press constantly denounce and call for their deportation. They don't see that they could do far more damage in Palestine, where the people have far more to lose and far less stake in the success of our society -- or, honestly, theirs -- than people over here. Every so often, when they cross the line from talking to planning, we wander into the Mosques and confiscate something they shouldn't have, occasionally we arrest the worst ones, but if people are standing up every day and preaching hate and violence, you can guarantee that there's a couple of policemen in the crowd. And all the time, for the rest of society, the moderates are trying to raise their voices and denounce these fallas along with the rest of us, and the press is printing only the inflamatory newsworthy stuff, and the biggest wingnut proponents of fundamentalism do more damage to their cause by telling the truth about it than we could ever prevent by silencing them. They marginalise themselves.

The problems of fundamentalist populations is not that they exist, but that often they don't have anything to lose by blowing something up. In the Netherlands and France, we see ghettoisation of immigrant populations, drastically higher unemployment among immigrant groups, entrenched poverty and racist treatment, and so you end up with tensions that get sparked much more easily. Even so, while the Domestic Islamic terrorism in these countries is lamentable, it compares pretty favourably to the frequency of attacks on abortion clinics by the religious right in the USA. Imagine the problems you'd have in America if all those potential domestic Christian terrorists didn't have jobs, mortgages and 401(K)s!

Accepting Wahabbism into our society is, of course, morally repugnant to most. But by taking legislative steps against it we run the risk of giving its leaders a plank from which to claim persecution and potentially radicalise the moderates. By accepting it, we can neuter it and turn it into the same thing that fundamentalist Christianity is in our society -- the bloodthirsty worship of a small, petty God who hates everyone, but which nonetheless produces mostly non-violent types of hate and manageable numbers of batshit-insane bomb-throwing wingnuts. It's a pragmatic evil, but distinctly the lesser and less dangerous of two.

A very good and timely comment by McDuff.

It's important to understand religious fundamentalism isn't confined to Islam or one particular religion. And before the usual suspects chime in about how Christians don't fly airliners into the WTC--save it. The number of domestic terrorist incidents, fueled by religious fundamentalism, far exceeds the number of terrorist attempts from external groups.

McDuff,

Be advised that if you consider this a problem, you also have to take issue with every Othodox and Ultra-Orthodox synagogue around.

I wasn't commenting on the practice, but on the trend:

The survey also found that the segregation of women for prayers was spreading, from half of the mosques in 1994 to two-thirds six years later.

The problems of fundamentalist populations is not that they exist, but that often they don't have anything to lose by blowing something up.

I disagree. If you believe that you will get your 72 virgins in paradise if you blow yourself up, then it matters little what you have in this life.

Who ever claimed that the 19 hijackers_* were brave (and those who defend that point) are wrong. A brave person, as I see it, is a person who risks his life (*which he/she does not want to loose*) for a cause. What's a person who thinks he's going to get 72 virgins, if he dies in a certain manner, risking? The act is merely the means of getting into heaven.

* Who, by the way, came from middle class families.

And before the usual suspects chime in about how Christians don't fly airliners into the WTC--save it. The number of domestic terrorist incidents, fueled by religious fundamentalism, far exceeds the number of terrorist attempts from external groups.

People are not as impressed by "incidents" as they are by deaths.

People are not as impressed by "incidents" as they are by deaths.

I'll do a bit more research but I wouldn't be surprised if aggregate deaths from domestic terrorism rivalled those from external sources.

But deaths from terrorism should not be treated as a sports score.

"What's a person who thinks he's going to get 72 virgins, if he dies in a certain manner, risking? The act is merely the means of getting into heaven."

Ooooh, dangerous argument to make in our Christian society. An argument replete with examples from European history. Are there no "brave" Christians?

What is King Fahd's ultimate goal in spreading Wahhabism in the West? What specific steps should be taken? Preventing the Islamic Center in Athens from being built?

Good questions, John. I don't know Fahd's motivations, but in either case the nations that don't want to see this sect spread should put stop payments on his checks. Cutting off Wahhabist funding is one step. Instead of accepting Wahhabi money for the Islamic center, encourage contributions from more enlightened denominations. I think a serious part of the problem is the lack of knowledge the western world has about Wahhabist beliefs and the fact it is doctrine our enemies practice.

A little PR would go a long way. Sadly, PR is something Bush is not very good at. But Karl Rove is pretty decent at negative campaigning, and a good old-fashioned negative campaign is an option. There's practically nothing we can do militarily against the Saudis because we cannot be seen as attacking the birthplace of Islam. We should also support the more tolerant strains and practitioners of Islam. Sufis and Hanafis would be examples. Many Shiites, such as Sistani, are pretty darn reasonable. I keep hearing that we're in an ideological war, but when you dig just a tiny bit deeper to find specifically what ideology it is, no answers are given. It's time to give those answers.

McDuff,
The comparison between attacks on abortion clinics and terrorist attacks is not apt. There is no Christian denomination that supports these attacks. The same cannot be said for Wahhabis and terrorism.

bob,

Ooooh, dangerous argument to make in our Christian society. An argument replete with examples from European history. Are there no "brave" Christians?

You'ld have a point if we had scores of Christian soldiers going to war hoping to die.

If we're truly in an ideological war--as so many in the Bush administration have said--then it's time to name the ideology we're fighting against. When we fought the Cold War, it wasn't against an Ideology That Must Not Be Named, it was against communism. We should treat our war against Wahhabism and Qutbism the same way.

Regardless of the merits of your argument -- and I think it's a legitimate one, though I disagree in certain regards -- it's never going to happen, because that isn't the Bush Administration's position. They've made what I can only call a policy of ambiguity, of carefully cultivating (deliberately or no) a stance Against Terror without ever exactly specifying what it is they're fighting against.* Hence the inherent fallacy of "The War On Terror" or "Terrorism" or whatever ridiculous abstract noun is the mot de jour, the odd blurring of Iraq and the WoT (or ?o? as I prefer to call it) by the Administration**, the weirdly schizophrenic march to war, and the whole other motley slew of charges we've hashed out ad nauseum.

As I've mentioned previously on this site, it's that ambiguity that accounts for both the visceral support from the right and the visceral dislike from the left: the Bush Administration's statements and policies function as a Rorschach test on which the motive imputed is the motive of the beholder, not the beheld. My read of the political calculus -- at least, my read of their read of the political calculus -- is that were the Bush Administration to clarify exactly who or what it is we're supposed to be combatting, they'd lose a mountain of political support from their base... and that they'd never do.

* Beyond the relatively trivial category of "People Who Have Actually Hurt Us", natch.

** As distinct from the blogosphere's entwining of Iraq and the ?o?, which is a completely different (and far more legitimate) undertaking.

There is no Christian denomination that supports these attacks.

This is simply untrue. Unfortunately, there are many so-called Christian denominations that actively support such terrorism and many more that tacitly condone it.

I'd point you in the direction of the Army of God. The AoG is aligned with numerous anti-abortion groups such as the Lambs of God, Rescue America, and Operation Rescue. Many of these groups are funded and supported by various rightwing "religious" groups such as Pat Robertson's (Robertson has had a falling out with OR--not over the issue of abortion) and Jerry Falwell's.

Jade,

I think you are talking about a sect not a denomination.

I think you are talking about a sect not a denomination.

Nope. BTW, anti-abortion groups aren't the only examples of Christian extremism.

This thread has wandered off topic and possibly died....but in case it lives on: I can't see how the invasion of Iraq can be expected to reduce Islamic extremism. The result is much more likely to encourage it, especially if the new government is perceived as an American satellite or puppet. Charles said that we have to compete in the market place of ideas and I totally agree. Imagine for a minute that we had not invaded Iraq and had, instead invested a equivalent amount of money and energy in Afganistan. We could have replanted the forests, restored the irrigation canals, provided new breeding stock, but a clinic and a school in every village... and scored an immense PR coup.
If democracy spreads by example, then the ME already has a variety of examples which could have worked. We didn't invade Iraq to create an outpost--not with various examples already present. We invaded Iraq because Bush's advisors thought it would be easy. It was an application of the WW2 conventional military model to a situation where that model does not apply. Also, and this is important, the country we invaded wasn't connected to any significant degree to the expremist forces discussed on this thread. The idea that invading Iraq would in some way reduce extremism was more an article of faith than a carefully conceived foreign policy.
It is very difficult to see a way out of Iraq that won't encourage extremism by offending the nationalistic feelings upon which the extremists depend. The longer we stay, the longer we, in effect, advertise for Al Quaida. I do believe we have a moral obligation to bring stability to Iraq (unless the new government tells us to leave.) However, a government that is only thought of as democractic by us and a minority of Iraqis will not provide a solution.

LibJ:

cleek wrote:
"if Wahhabism is a major part of the problem, and if it can take root in one of the most tolerant of all western democracies (the Netherlands), why should anyone believe that democracy itself is going to stop it"

I'd be interested in Dutchmarbel's view on this.

Very interesting thread; by the time I read through it (and through all the referenced sites and articles) my comment seems moot though.

In short: Dutch society knew "pillarization" but IMHO that was not a cause but a symptom of something more fundametal. A pragmatic culture, with a long history of consisting of independent groups. City States, provinces, private dukedoms -- we always had 'groups' with frequently opposing views. The same went for religion. Throughout the ages we worked towards a society were in between outbursts of oppression various groups could work together and reap the benefits of their cooperation. Peace is much more profitable than war.

That is why IMHO the Dutch are not that tolerant if you look more closely. We are at least as judgemental as other peoples - but we are less imposing about it (unless you count "proselytizing" efforts to show that we handle things much better than the rest of the world ;-) ).

As long as we do not feel too threatened we are more inclined to work towards consensus and a pragmatic solution. We are in a bad patch now, vulnerable for populists spreading FUD and creating a polerized climate where people on both sides of the isle barricade behind their opinions, throwing out arguments and ducking for cover when the counterarguments fly over.

We are also in a bad patch because there *is* a problem. Contrary to what a lot of Dutch people currently believe I am convinced that second generation radicalisation is a bigger part of it then bad integration. Solutions will have to be found *with* the moslim community. For instance a moslim political party seems a great idea. We have a multiparty country: two moslim parties might be an even better idea ;-). If we can have a christen fundamentalist party in governement, promoting theocracy (as in no freedom of religion and such) and forbidding women to have manager-jobs, we can have an islamic party doing the same thing. Preferably accompagnied by a more moderate moslim party for the such inclined and higher participation of muslims in the current political parties.

"I am convinced that second generation radicalisation is a bigger part of it then bad integration."

dutchmarbel, could you expand a bit on this?

rilkefan

Only briefly now, it is after three at night here, and tomorrowmoring 0800 three lively boys will demand all my attention ;-).

If you look at people arrested here, the terrorist group the murderer of van Gogh was part of, you see that they are well-integrated and well-educated young people. (The ones who tried to blow themselves and the police up with granates were Dutchborn sons of an American soldier and a Dutch women who only converted 5 years ago).

People who feel closed of from a group where they ought to be part of are vulnerable. People that are part of a group that is attacked will only feel stronger commitment. People who feel that they are fighting to protect a group are more strongly motivated, more radical. Dangling between two worlds can make people feel insecure, and insecure people can radicalize in all sort of ways to overcome the insecurity.
That is more or less my train of thought.

It is not *just* that though. I read a piece somewhere about how philosophy should be intruduced again at universities, especially with the more science oriented studies (grin, that is right on target here at ObWi IIRC) to teach people the importance of nuance, and dealing with uncertanties since they mature mentally in an environment where there is only one good answer, things are right or they are not. Also not the answer, but an interesting point (I seem to recall that a large portion of the WTC highjackers had a science degree).

And there are more factors at play. I am still reading and trying to form a better conclusion, a better formulated opinion.

Stan,

"Be advised that if you consider this a problem, you also have to take issue with every Othodox and Ultra-Orthodox synagogue around.

I wasn't commenting on the practice, but on the trend:

The survey also found that the segregation of women for prayers was spreading, from half of the mosques in 1994 to two-thirds six years later."

I'd be very surprised if the same trend were not present in Judaism, as by far the largest percentage of synagogues established in the last decade were Lubavitch, where such segregation is mandatory. The numbers are far lower, but the trend is the same. The last 3 decades have seen explosive growth in fundamentalist religion in Judaism, just as in Islam and Christianity.

Not meaning to step on dm's toes, but I think 2nd gen radicalization refers to the children of immigrants who often are not integrated into society and turn to radical politics. To link it up with the earlier link I gave as well as this interesting blog post, this gives some outline of what I think is the problem.

Sorry, didn't preview, and dutchmarbel already answered the question. IMO her observations are spot on and I would note that the Aum Shinrikyo (sarin attack) membership largely came from science faculties at former Imperial universities, which are the most prestigious in Japan.

Dantheman,

I'd be very surprised if the same trend were not present in Judaism, as by far the largest percentage of synagogues established in the last decade were Lubavitch, where such segregation is mandatory

Do you have a link for that?

Also, try to look at it in context of this thread. Are these synagogues being built with Israeli/foreign money?

"This is simply untrue. Unfortunately, there are many so-called Christian denominations that actively support such terrorism"

I think you are completely wrong. I am intimately familiar with Christian practices and the Christian fundamentalist movements in America. (My parents are very active fundamentalist Christians). I know of no major denomination or even minor denomination that supports terrorist bombing of abortion clinics. Even the truly odious 'Rev.' Phelps does not support bombings, though he does nasty things like showing up at AIDS-victim's funerals and suggests that they were justly punished by God. As disgusting and sick as that is, it represents pretty much the bottom of the barrel in US Christianity--and is nowhere near the imams who publically push terrorism and celebrate events like the 9-11 attacks.

Unfortunately, there are many so-called Christian denominations that actively support such terrorism and many more that tacitly condone it.

Do any of these "many" have a name?

Stan

"I'd be very surprised if the same trend were not present in Judaism, as by far the largest percentage of synagogues established in the last decade were Lubavitch, where such segregation is mandatory

Do you have a link for that?"

I will look for one that is freely available on the web. The 2000-2001 National Jewish Population Survey found that to be the case. The organization which performed the survey has a website at www.jewishdatabank.org.

"Also, try to look at it in context of this thread. Are these synagogues being built with Israeli/foreign money?"

I am not sure what your point is. You initially referenced how this practice occurred in Islam, without providing any support that foreign monies were the cause (as opposed to a turn to religious orthodoxy by natives). Now when I bring out evidence that this is true in other religions, you are seeking causation data that you did not provide in your example.

Do any of these "many" have a name?

Certainly. As noted earlier, Robertson's and Falwell's groups (largely Pentecostal) have ties to the Army of God, Lambs of God, Operation Rescue, Rescue America, and a number of the smaller extremist anti-abortion groups (such as Missionaries to the PreBorn, etc.) that have been tied to clinic shootings or bombings.

Protestant fundamentalists are active in groups such as the World Church of the Creator (IIRC, their name has changed to something like the Creativity Movement), Christian Identity, National Alliance, Christian Reconstruction, Aryan Nation, Phineas Priests, and the KKK.

You may want to read Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven for a look at violence within Mormon fundamentalism.

And these...organizations, you believe these to be anything other than fringe elements?

But that's a little beside the point. You still haven't shown any of these to be valid Christian denominations. There are in fact a great many articles written on some of these that claim that they're not tied to any particular denomination. So, unless denomination means whatever one wants it to mean, I think you've fallen rather short of making your point.

dantheman,

I am not sure what your point is. You initially referenced how this practice occurred in Islam, without providing any support that foreign monies were the cause (as opposed to a turn to religious orthodoxy by natives).

Well it things like this that lead me to believe that Saudi $ is the catalyst:

The main organizations that have carried out this campaign are the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), which originated in the Muslim Students’ Association of the U.S. and Canada (MSA), and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Support activities have been provided by the American Muslim Council (AMC), the American Muslim Alliance (AMA), the Muslim American Society (MAS), the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences, its sister body the International Institute of Islamic Thought, and a number of related groups that I have called “the Wahhabi lobby.”
Both ISNA and CAIR, in particular, maintain open and close relations with the Saudi government – a unique situation, in that no other foreign government directly uses religion as a cover for its political activities in the U.S. For example, notwithstanding support by the American Jewish community for the state of Israel, the government of Israel does not intervene in synagogue life or the activities of rabbinical or related religious bodies in America.
According to saudiembassy.net, the official website of the Saudi government, CAIR received $250,000 from the Islamic Development Bank, an official Saudi financial institution, in 1999, for the purchase of land in Washington, DC, to construct a headquarters facility.
ISNA operates at least 324 mosques in the U.S. through the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT).
In a particularly disturbing case, the Islamic Development bank also granted US$295,000 to the Masjid Bilal Islamic Center, USA, for the construction of Bilal Islamic Primary and Secondary School in California. Hassan Akbar, the American Muslim presently charged with the fatal attack on his fellow-soldiers in Kuwait during the Iraq War, was affiliated with this institution.

And these...organizations, you believe these to be anything other than fringe elements?

Depends on your definition of "fringe," I suppose. I doubt Al Qaeda has any more members than Christian Identity, yet we seem to be concerned to the point of invading other countries, needlessly, about them.

But that's a little beside the point. You still haven't shown any of these to be valid Christian denominations.

Don't have to. I don't claim any divine knowledge of what a "valid" Christian denomination is or isn't. I strongly suspect you don't either.

There are in fact a great many articles written on some of these that claim that they're not tied to any particular denomination.

And, there are in fact, a great many number of instances where so-called religious leaders endorse the views of these extremists. For instance, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson both praised (and provided blurbs) for a book by Christian Reconstructionist, William Martin, which advocated the summary execution (preferably by stoning) of abortion doctors, gays, atheists, and unruly kids--among others.

Do Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell practice a "valid" religion? Your president thinks so.

Does Sun Myung Moon head a "valid" denomination?

Speaking of Saudis:

The suicide bomber who killed 22 people when he blew himself up in a US army mess tent the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, was a Saudi medical student, an Arab newspaper reported today.

Once again, the The problems of fundamentalist populations is not that they exist, but that often they don't have anything to lose by blowing something up doesn't fit in here. Medical student?

which advocated

but mysteriously refrained from

the summary execution (preferably by stoning) of abortion doctors, gays, atheists, and unruly kids--among others.

Do you mean to tell me there are repugnant (yet, mysteriously law-abiding) people in this country? Tell me something I don't know.

I doubt Al Qaeda has any more members than Christian Identity,

But, to quote the bard, I strongly suspect you don't know.

I don't claim any divine knowledge of what a "valid" Christian denomination is or isn't.

So, it's whatever you want it to be, which makes it pretty much entirely useless as a distinction.

Do Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell practice a "valid" religion? Your president thinks so.

Mind-reading penalty aside, if your point is they fully agree on matters theological (or otherwise), you're going to have to pony up.

Does Sun Myung Moon head a "valid" denomination?

The Unification Church is arguably not Christian at all, since it's pretty much discarded the substance of the New Testament.

Stan
I direct you to Dutchmarbel's previous post. Here is the key graf
If you look at people arrested here, the terrorist group the murderer of van Gogh was part of, you see that they are well-integrated and well-educated young people. (The ones who tried to blow themselves and the police up with granates were Dutchborn sons of an American soldier and a Dutch women who only converted 5 years ago).

Chas suggests that it
seems the extremist problem in the Netherlands is the result of leadership with its head in the sand, trying so hard to be multicultural and tolerant, all the while letting an intolerant subculture into its society

On the other hand, I would suggest that it is the inability to be truly multicultural that is the problem, and point out that this is what I think Schwartz argues in his article, that support of other muslim groups provides the best defense against Wahhabism. Unfortunately, this would require us to avoid witchhunts like the one with James Yee, and public disciplining (or at least the absence of rewarding) for people like Boykin and Pipes.

Do you mean to tell me there are repugnant (yet, mysteriously law-abiding) people in this country?

Hang on there...if Muslims who don't kill Americans but say that's OK are to be criticized (and they are quite frequently all across the blogosphere), why are Christians who don't actually stone abortion doctors, gays, atheists, and unruly kids--among others, getting such an easy pass?

liberal j,

I agree with all that. My posts were aimed at McDuff.

The Unification Church is arguably not Christian at all, since it's pretty much discarded the substance of the New Testament.

The skinny on the Unification Church, if one is interested.

why are Christians who don't actually stone abortion doctors, gays, atheists, and unruly kids--among others, getting such an easy pass?

They're not.

But, to quote the bard, I strongly suspect you don't know.

The FBI puts Christian Identity membership at between 40-50K. DoD and various thinktanks (Institute of Strategic Studies) put Al Qaeda membership at between 18-25K. Of course, DoD and the FBI may not be "valid" organizations.

So, it's whatever you want it to be, which makes it pretty much entirely useless as a distinction.

Unfortunately, for your argument, I'm not making any distinction. You are. You profess knowledge as to what faiths are "valid" and which are not.

The Unification Church is arguably not Christian at all, since it's pretty much discarded the substance of the New Testament.

Again, in your divinely-inspired opinion. "Arbiter of Valid Christianity" must look cool on the resume.

I'm confused then. You seemed to be emphasizing the fact that they were "law-abiding," as a distinction (without a difference, I might add) between them and ... well I won't mindread on exactly who, but part of the Muslim/terrorist/symphatizers subgroup.

The finer point in all this is that if sympathy for terrorists in the Muslim street among "law-abiding" citizens can be credited with fostering the culture in which anti-Western hatred grows, why can't the violent rhetoric of otherwise "law-abiding" citizens in the US be credited with fostering the culture in which anti-athesist, anti-abortion doctor, anti-gay culture grows?

The response from far too many people (not saying you Slarti, but you raised the distinction) is akin to "Well, they're just harmless nuts...we don't take them seriously, so you shouldn't either."

I don't see why that doesn't cut both ways.

Of course, DoD and the FBI may not be "valid" organizations.

Why you're getting defensive when asked to substantiate a claim is beyond me.

Unfortunately, for your argumentI'm not making any distinction.

Ah, so when you said "denomination", you actually didn't mean anything by it? Well, that pretty much eliminates all of my objections.

Again, in your divinely-inspired opinion.

Of course. Although the "divinely inspired" part was your embroidery, not mine.

Jadegold,

Again, in your divinely-inspired opinion. "Arbiter of Valid Christianity" must look cool on the resume.

Don't forget the "Arbiters of Valid Islam". You know, those (usually non-Muslim) folks who decide who represents the real Islam and who doesn't.

Why you're getting defensive when asked to substantiate a claim is beyond me.

Not defensive in the least. In fact, I eagerly await to hear how you are able to differentiate between "valid" faiths and those that aren't.

Ah, so when you said "denomination", you actually didn't mean anything by it? Well, that pretty much eliminates all of my objections.

Nope, I stand by what I wrote.

Of course. Although the "divinely inspired" part was your embroidery, not mine.

The cornerstone of just about every religion is faith. You claim to understand which religions are valid and which aren't; usually those who profess such knowledge are divinely-inspired. Or...they're actually divine.


In fact, I eagerly await to hear how you are able to differentiate between "valid" faiths and those that aren't.

I forget where I said I could do that.

Nope, I stand by what I wrote.

Which, having a vital distinction removed, is no longer in dispute.

Don't forget the "Arbiters of Valid Islam". You know, those (usually non-Muslim) folks who decide who represents the real Islam and who doesn't.

Exactly.

Generally, it's the extremists who profess knowledge--as opposed to faith--theirs is the only "true" religion.

who hosed the formatting?

does this work?

Blockquote off

BTW, the UVa link provided by LJ is very informative.

Here's the Site Map

a book by Christian Reconstructionist, William Martin, which advocated the summary execution (preferably by stoning) of abortion doctors, gays, atheists, and unruly kids--among others.

?? The William Martin who wrote "With God on Our Side"? In what book does he himself advocate these things?

Anyway, one should neither minimize nor exaggerate Christian extremism -- obviously that element is there, but mainstream Christian culture is less welcoming of it than mainstream Muslim culture at this point in time. As for what we do about the Muslim variety, I have no idea -- it's not so easy to go about purposefully changing a culture, especially someone else's, and the law of unintended consequences is in full force in that situation.

"Hang on there...if Muslims who don't kill Americans but say that's OK are to be criticized (and they are quite frequently all across the blogosphere), why are Christians who don't actually stone abortion doctors, gays, atheists, and unruly kids--among others, getting such an easy pass?"

Completely different argument from the one we are having. Thus far Jadegold is attempting to tar mainline Christianity with a book (which remains unnamed) allegedly desiring awful things. I, who am actually quite familiar with both of the odious figures of Fallwell and Robertson, am quite certain that as odious as they are, they don't support the stoning of unruly kids or homosexuals for instance. Fallwell may very well believe something disgusting like--AIDS is God's payback for being gay (though he wouldn't say so anymore--but he is a far cry from advocating (much less actively supporting with his rhetoric) stoning a girl for being raped or throwing a gay guy off of a tall building. You may or may not be willing to attribute a distant connection between figures like Fallwell and general homophobia which later leads to violence in some. But even if you do, it is a far cry from preaching that homosexuals and rape victims ought to be stoned. Many Muslim fundamentalists not only preach that, but actually do it.

That is a serious distinction.

Actually, I believe Falwell was pretty psyched about 9/11 because it was payback time for the gays. So he at least favors crashing planes into buildings to punish society in general, if not outright stoning per se of specific individuals.

Let's back up and look at my actual statement though Sebastian.

I'm limiting my comment to the Muslims who do not commit atrocities, but who may rhetorically support them. Your penultimate phrase ("but actually do it") is part of another discussion, and so is the distinction you're drawing.

In particular, I'm getting at the somewhat abstracted notion (slightly off-topic, I'll give you) that a parallel can be drawn between Muslims who'll spout anti-Western rhetoric, but would, themselves, not wish to hurt anyone and Christians who'll spout anti-(whomever) rhetoric, but also stand behind the line in the sand representing actually committing such an atrocity.

Muslims take a great deal more heat for that position in this country than Christians do.

I believe Falwell was pretty psyched about 9/11 because it was payback time for the gays.

Which effectively marginalizes him in at least two distinct ways.

Nope, you are wrong about Falwell. His, completely odious view, is that America used to be protected by God's hand from foreign attack and that we lost that protection in the past couple of decades by becoming degenerates. Disgusting, but not even in the same league as many Iranian religious leaders who actually run their country.

Which effectively marginalizes him in at least two distinct ways.

Then why hasn't he been marginalized?

"In particular, I'm getting at the somewhat abstracted notion (slightly off-topic, I'll give you) that a parallel can be drawn between Muslims who'll spout anti-Western rhetoric, but would, themselves, not wish to hurt anyone and Christians who'll spout anti-(whomever) rhetoric, but also stand behind the line in the sand representing actually committing such an atrocity."

You still are still ignoring some very useful distinctions. "Death to America" (so common as to receive jokes from MadTV) and "Mohammed was a pedophile" are two very different classes of 'anti-whomever' rhetoric. They are also enjoy very different levels of support. I won't deny that you can find isolated instances of crazy Christian rhetoric. But NONE of them approach the very regularized excoriation of the West which is widely held in the Middle East. The distinction is 'regularized' and 'widely held'. That is a distinction with a difference.

In particular, I'm getting at the somewhat abstracted notion (slightly off-topic, I'll give you) that a parallel can be drawn between Muslims who'll spout anti-Western rhetoric, but would, themselves, not wish to hurt anyone and Christians who'll spout anti-(whomever) rhetoric, but also stand behind the line in the sand representing actually committing such an atrocity.

Muslims take a great deal more heat for that position in this country than Christians do.

The phrase "anti-(whoever) rhetoric" collapses many distinctions -- there's a big difference between, say, being against equal rights for gays&lesbians and calling for all gays&lesbians to be stoned to death. Christians who are calling for something like the latter are much more marginalized in the broader Christian community than are Muslims in the broader Muslim community.

I wouldn't deny that some fraction of the higher focus on Muslim extremism than Christian extremism in this country is due to people wanting to find fault only with The Other, as I think you're suggesting; but it's also fallacious to equate the two.

"Then why hasn't he been marginalized?"

He has been marginalized since the late 1980s. Don't you remember how powerful he was then? The only one of the Falwell/Swaggert/Robertson group which retains real power is Robertson. And even he is greatly diminished from the height of his power.

Furthermore I do condemn groups like the "Lambs of God". But unlike Islamist groups, they do not in fact enjoy large support from the community. They receive little to no public rhetorical support, and they receive little to no financial support--certainly not on the order of multi-millions of dollars. So far as I can tell, Operation Rescue (which preaches non-violent protest and has routinely decried violence in the abortion struggle) operates on a budget in the few-hundred thousand range. The violent groups are much smaller and have access to much less money.

Ken B: I made a mistake; William Martin merely chronicled Christian extremism--not advocated it--in his book, With God on Our Side

The author endorsed by Robertson and Falwell, cited by Martin, should have been RJ Rushdoony. Rushdoony and his merry band advocate stoning.

Rushdoony's son-in-law (and former GOP staffer), Gary North explains the utility of stoning: "There are many reasons. First, the implements of execution are available to everyone at virtually no cost."

BTW, here's Rushdoony on rape:

One area of protection is against violence, or rape. The texts citing the laws on rape and seduction are the following; rape, Deuteronomy 22: 23-29; seduction, Exodus 22: 16,17.

The penalty for the rape of a married woman, or of a betrothed woman, was death. The law specified that consent on the part of the woman was presumed if it occurred "in the city" and "she cried not," and she then was assumed to be a participant in the adultery rather than an act of rape. As Luther observed, "The city is mentioned here for the sake of an example, because in it there would be people available to help her. Therefore she who does not cry out reveals that she is being ravished by her own will." In other words, "the city" represents here available help; was it appealed to?

The cases classified as seduction are technically and realistically cases of rape also; the difference is that the girl in question is neither married nor betrothed. Why, in such cases, was not the death penalty invoked? In the former cases, marriage was already contracted; the offense was against both man and woman, therefore, and required death. In the case of a single girl, unbetrothed, the decision rested in the hands of the girl’s father, and, in part, the girl. If the offender, cited simply as a seducer in Exodus 22:16, 17, and as a rapist in Deuteronomy 22:28, 29, is an acceptable husband, then he shall pay 50 shekels of silver as a dowry and marry her, without right of divorce “because he hath humbled her” (Deut. 22:29); but “If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins” (Ex. 22:17). If a man thus is rejected as a husband, the girl is compensated for the offense to make her an attractive wife to another man, coming as she will with a double dowry, his own and her compensation money.

To understand the background of this law, let us remember, first, that the Biblical law-order requires the death of incorrigible delinquents and criminals. The seducer and/or rapist of an unbetrothed girl was thus presumably not an incorrigible youth, although at this point clearly in guilt. No gain was possible from his offense. If he were allowed to marry the girl, he did so without right of divorce, and at the cost of a full dowry. If he were refused, he still had to pay a full dowry to the girl, a considerable loss to his own future.

R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (Nutley, NJ: Craig Press, 1973), pp. 396-397.

Then why hasn't he been marginalized?

I've never, ever belonged to a church that held him in any regard at all, or even mentioned him except as someone whose views must be disowned. I know of no Christians who don't think he's an idiot. He does have his following, but the bell curve does have its left-hand side.

So, I'm a little unclear as to how he's anything other than marginal.

but it's also fallacious to equate the two.

KenB,

I wrote that they were parallel, not equal.

You still are still ignoring some very useful distinctions.

Sebastian,

"Useful" to which argument?

But NONE of them approach the very regularized excoriation of the West which is widely held in the Middle East. The distinction is 'regularized' and 'widely held'. That is a distinction with a difference.

You lost me there. You're saying there's a distinction between "regularized" and "widely used" but are using both to describe one attitude in the Middle East...can you clarify?

And are you claiming that Rushdoony is an influential Christian? Because frankly I grew up DEEPLY involved in the kind of circles that you are talking about and I have never heard of him. You might also note that you are quoting something that is older than I am. Care to compare it to the statement by the Iranian judge last month suggesting that it was ok to hang a thirteen-year old because her parents sold her into prostitution at eight? And then he did so? Isn't there a distinction between vague support thirty years ago and actually hanging a girl sold into prostitution? Isn't there a disinction between fringe groups and groups which actually run countrys. Can't we make useful distinctions around here?

I'm sure Falwell, extremist that he is, is absolutely lined up behind Rushdoony's wackiness. Which makes it sort of hard to explain why he had a couple of his fellows criticize Rushdoony's organization.

"You lost me there. You're saying there's a distinction between "regularized" and "widely used" but are using both to describe one attitude in the Middle East...can you clarify?"

Sure. First the distinction is not between "regularized" and "widely used". The distinction is between regularized and widely used versus not regularized and widely used. Rhetorical support for murder in the abortion arena is not regularized and widely used--even if you restrict yourself merely to rhetoric as opposed to action. Rhetorical support for murder of Americans is both regular and widely used.

You want to know why Christian groups aren't as excoriated as Muslim groups. You attempt to draw a parallel between the two. But being anti-homosexual in the Christian context in America apparently means opposing homosexual marriage. In the Muslim context in the Middle East it means advocating toppling a stone wall onto a gay man until his skull is crushed like an eggshell and the life is squeezed out of his body. Not parallel. In the Christian context in America being against adultery means speaking up against running around on your wife. In the Muslim context in the Middle East it means that girls who were sold into prostitution by their mothers can get hung by venegful judges. Not parallel. In the Christian context in America it means that Jadegold has to reach thirty years back or draw connections between groups which are explicitly preached against while in the Muslim context in the Middle East I can point to things from last month and can point to groups which are actually supported. Not parallel.

If you want to know why Muslims catch more flack NOW, the answer is because their extremist groups enjoy more support and are worse.

[This is all by way of anecdote, btw.]

Sebastian: He has been marginalized since the late 1980s. Don't you remember how powerful he was then?

Nope, as I wasn't in the country at the time. I'm aware of it retrospectively but I lack the immediacy of personal recollection.

Slarti: I've never, ever belonged to a church that held him in any regard at all, or even mentioned him except as someone whose views must be disowned.

You're Wisconsin synod Lutheran, right? I'm not particularly surprised by that; I've never met any Lutherans who've liked Falwell.

I know of no Christians who don't think he's an idiot. He does have his following, but the bell curve does have its left-hand side.

This is odd; all the major fundamentalist churches in the southern Wisconsin area -- at least, those who broadcast on television, from whence I'm drawing most of my familiarity here -- speak of Falwell in relatively glowing terms. Those that don't seem bang alongside most of his utterances, they just find him objectionable as an individual.

[Sadly, my grandmother, who was my other main source of insight into fundamentalist Christianity, passed away a few years ago so I lack the immediacy there.]

Clearly he doesn't move in the same religious circles as you two, yet he's a fairly serious presence in my neck of the woods. I wonder what kind of selection bias is at work here.

But unlike Islamist groups, they do not in fact enjoy large support from the community.

Let's see what Randall Terry (founder of Operation Rescue) had to say at a meeting of the U.S. Taxpayers Alliance Banquet in Washington DC on August 8, 1995, speaking about abortion providers:

"When I, or people like me, are running the country, you'd better flee, because we will find you, we will try you, and we will execute you. I mean every word of it. I will make it part of my mission to see to it that they are tried and executed... If we're going to have true reformation in America, it is because men once again, if I may use a worn out expression, have righteous testoserone flowing through their veins. They are not afraid of contempt for their contemporaries. They are not even here to get along. They are here to take over... "

Here's a 1994 US News & World Report story that belies Sebastian's claims OR exists on a shoestring

You're Wisconsin synod Lutheran, right?

Oui, but I grew up Catholic. Catholics didn't have much to say about Falwell, it was more like pretending he didn't exist. But that was a couple of decades ago. I have attended Missouri synod and ELCA churches (which, to most non-Lutherand, may appear absolutely identical), and they're not too fond of him either.

Heh. Jadgold, that was the very article I found when I was looking for a good example of how little they make. The only millions I see in that article are millions of dollars in fines or damages. I don't see millions of dollars in operating expenses. I see things like "The deposits totaled $43,224.24. On August 8, Operation Rescue placed another $26,332 into the church bank account. Bank records show that most of the money was raised by Operation Rescue from thousands of Central Christian Church members in Wichita, as well as from members of affiliate churches in Ohio and Minnesota."

It is very possible that they have hundreds of thousands of dollars. But nothing like the OBL multi-millions. And that is only if you count Operation Rescue as the terrorist organization. Which I do not. The reason you call the splinter groups 'splinter' in this case is because they were pushed out of the organization.

While we are inventorying Falwell thoughts, I can attest that the evangelical free churches and most of the Baptist organizations in the north and west don't like him. I have no data on the Southern Baptists.

I think there's too much associating "support" with "tolerance" in this arena Sebastian. Look at Fred Phelps...from a US POV, few here would say he's "supported"...he's merely tolerated (why is a good question, when if you changed the word "fag" to "Christian" in much of his rhetoric, there would be dramatic public outcry, whereas now there's what amounts to tolerance).

Likewise, in Muslim countries, whereas folks may tolerate the radical Islamists, most wouldn't agree to the statement that they "support" them.

Once again, I want to thank Fred Phelps for coming to Madison. Teenage lesbian protestors -- even, or perhaps especially, when they're not really lesbians, just kissing each other to piss him off -- are a beautiful thing :)

And are you claiming that Rushdoony is an influential Christian?

Rushdoony died in 2001, IIRC.

But, yes, Rushdoony wielded not insignificant influence in your party, Sebastian. You might wish to check out the Weekly Standard's fawning article on Rushdoony following his death (by Peter Leithart)saying Rushdoony had "as great an impact on American life as other, better known American theologians of the past century."

You might also check out the membership of the Council for National Policy

Edward,

Likewise, in Muslim countries, whereas folks may tolerate the radical Islamists, most wouldn't agree to the statement that they "support" them.

I know I posted this in another thread, but since its relevant... Gallup poll in taken in Kuwait a few months after 9/11.

Believe news reports that Arabs carried out Sept. 11 attacks?

True: 11%
Not true: 89%
Don't know: 0%

Are these 89% radical or do they simple hold radical views? Or maybe what we consider radical is the norm/moderate in that part of the world?

It is very possible that they have hundreds of thousands of dollars. But nothing like the OBL multi-millions.

Al Qaeda's terrorism operating expenses are higher than OR's.

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