View Full Version : The Clash of Civilized Bloggingheads

01-25-2008, 12:27 PM

01-25-2008, 01:05 PM
Um, yeah... "The day after the NH primary"...?? WTF?

01-25-2008, 01:52 PM
Um, yeah... "The day after the NH primary"...?? WTF?

That part was unfortunate, but I thought what Reza and Rod had to say regarding the presidential campaigns wasn't too out of date.

I did like the rest of the diavlog quite a bit, which is kind of surprising, because I haven't often enjoyed listening to either of these guys separately. I'm not saying I particularly agreed with either of them, but it was a good pairing to air out some issues.

01-25-2008, 02:08 PM
So a single brainwashed Iranian teenager thinks the US is a theocracy and Reza thinks "we've lost"? It's a cute anecdote, but it says more about Reza's lack of critical thinking that he keeps repeating this "gotcha" moment. Or maybe he just thinks his readers are so stupid that they will find this anecdote is a good subsitute for real analysis.


David Edenden
01-25-2008, 02:11 PM
Al Qaida terrorism should be seen as similar to the terrorism in the West during the sixties and seventies including "The Weatherman", "The Red Army Faction", "The Bader Mienhof Gang" or even the anarchists that flourished prior to World War 1. (Just look at the memoirs of Victor Serge.)

The difference with Al Qaida is the tacit support it receives from wealthy patrons in Saudi Arabia.

Lets put things in perspective and not assume that this spat of terrorism is unique to Muslims.

01-25-2008, 02:33 PM
I watched about 5 minutes of this.... Reza's vicious, racist caricatures turned me off, and I gave it up.

01-25-2008, 02:39 PM
I would have thought with a username like Bokonon that you'd be phlegmatic about foma.

01-25-2008, 02:43 PM
So a single brainwashed Iranian teenager thinks the US is a theocracy and Reza thinks "we've lost"?

Yeah, I thought this was pretty whacked, too. Reza has an occasional tendency to use anecdotes to "prove" his assertions, unfortunately. The only good thing to say about that is that most of the rest of the time, he relies instead on repetition and volume; e.g., "There is no Muslim civilization. THERE IS NO MUSLIM CIVILIZATION. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO MUSLIM CIVILIZATION."

BTW, I happen to agree with him on this point. I just wish he'd find a better way to make it.

01-25-2008, 02:47 PM
Lets put things in perspective and not assume that this spat of terrorism is unique to Muslims.

+1. I feel like this episode could well have been called "The Dolchstoß match-up", as it seems to me Reza is hyper-attuned to any over-attribution of violent tendencies to Islam writ large, while Rod seems rather blunted to his own tendency to make exactly this kind of sloppy, generalizing attribution-error.

In Reza's case, I feel like its pretty self-evident (see how worked up he always gets), so I'm not going to go into it.

As for Rod, I really think he needs to examine the way he thinks about this. I know he's a big fan of the whole communitarian ideal of sects practicing permeable sovereignty within the modern state (like his talk of eastern Orthodox Christians in Alaska, Conservative Catholics in eastern Oklahoma, Orthodox Jews outside Seattle). I don't quite get why Rod seems so reluctant to extend this same courtesy to Islam. Many of those conservative religious communities he touts reject the modern western notion of "rights" and the "social contract" and "autonomy" and all that (as Rod seems to know from Huntington), and few of them are internally democratic. But Rod only faults Islam for this anti-modernism, even though the Amish, the Hassidim, the Evangelicals etc etc etc all exhibit similarly nonliberal traits. So, Rod, how do you explain these distinct approaches of yours? If you're such a big fan of ethical diversity challenging the modernist secular hegemony, why do you only admit certain flowers to take part in the thousand bloomings?

01-25-2008, 02:47 PM
Anyone who think's Hassan al Banna's followers are Democrats needs to read the New Republic series on Tariq Ramadan.


These "democrats" want to be elected so that they can institute Sharia and then end democracy. The fact that Reza is trying to make the Muslim Brotherhood into Egypt in to democrats is laughable.

Here is a quote from that article:

Ramadan concedes that al-Banna did want to replace the multi-party system in Egypt with a single national council, which might appear to be a one-party state--but Ramadan explains that, because of the fundamentally democratic nature of Islam, al-Banna's proposal was tantamount to a multi-party system.

Ramadan also has a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn

By the way Reza, Ibrahim Hooper, current Strategic Communications Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, is on record that he wants Sharia in the US.

"I wouldn't want to create the impression that I wouldn't like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future."

Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 4, 1993

01-25-2008, 03:36 PM
Raza's response to Rod's point about defensiveness is a nice illustration....

01-25-2008, 04:15 PM
Iranian-born Aslan reminds me of that Egyptian Al Jazeera reporter. Go figure.

Hard to believe Aslan read The Clash of Civilizations. He implies Huntington is some kind of neocon bigot, and that's false. Huntington (in 1996) is very respectful of what he calls the Islamic Resurgence, and he rejects the universalism of Western values. He reviles the first Gulf War, and he advises that the US should never presume to interfere with another civilization. If Aslan did read the book, he surely did not understand it. Hard to believe he landed a teaching gig.

It is not true that the US has been diverse from the get-go. Until the immigration reforms of the '60s, the US forced WASP culture on immigrants. I'm not saying this was right, just the way it was. Immigration since the '60s is taking us into uncharted territory. Here's a good article on the topic from the Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/foreign/divers.htm.

It's telling that Aslan can't distinguish between Mexican and American cultures. Compare Mexico City to, say for example, Portland, Oregon. Better yet, compare the Southern California of 1965 to today's. Aslan is so stupid and polemical about American culture that he causes me to doubt anything he has to say about other cultures.

01-25-2008, 04:29 PM
Rod so hates Hillary Clinton that he might stay home if a Republican ran against Obama, but he's willing to "hold [his] nose and vote for a warmonger like John McCain" in order to defeat Hillary.

This is a level of irrational hatred that boggles the mind; particularly so when it comes from a spokesperson for a less toxic kind of Christianity than that of the traditional evangelical hate-based war hawks.

What is Rod thinking? A few hundred thousand more corpses, a few more decades in Iraq, and whatever other sort of murder and mayhem a "warmonger" can conjure up is worth it in order to crush the Clintons, whose policies differ only mildly, if at all, from other electable Dems.

01-25-2008, 04:43 PM
Reza seems really angry.

01-25-2008, 05:32 PM
Absolutely right. It doesn't exist. That is why the xenophobes need to cling to the (also non-existent) linguistic divide.

No matter how many times you point out to nativists that Mexican kids learn English just like everyone else, and just like everyone else, become monolingual in English in the 3rd generation (2nd generation being bilingual), you will hear over and over again how Spanish is a threat to the English language, how Mexicans refuse to learn English, how we need to pass English only laws, and so on.

Without that, as Reza points out, there is no "culture clash." The groups share a religion, a work ethic, a core belief in democracy, etc. They go to our public schools, get the same education as everyone else, intermarry and aspire to suburbia, credit cards and vacation homes in Baja.

01-25-2008, 08:28 PM
Can't we please excuse Reza Aslan from future discussions of Islam? Time after time, blog after blog, he adds nothing and subtracts much. Every conversation even faintly critical of Islam gets mired in his now familiar relativist sludge of self-pity, condescension, and false indignation. Its enough to make Tariq Ramadan puke.

Listening now to my third or fourth Aslan diavlog, I'm struck by how much career mileage this guy has achieved while running such low-grade fuel in the tank: The witless, smug Bush-bashing presumably absorbed in the sophomore dorms of his campus; The pointless "findings" from his proud travels into the Muslim heartland as intrepid sociologist. (I can't be the only one who suspects a rather thin itinerary beyond visits with family and friends.) The pretentious pronunciation of the name Hassan Al-Banna delivered in the hope we wont mind his lazy analysis of same. The king-size poster of his "No God but God" book looming over his right shoulder.

We can do better. Let's look past his exotic name and looks, and recognize this mediocre narcissist we can do without.

01-25-2008, 08:30 PM
My question to Don Dreher:

"Do you as a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church support the independence of Kosovo, which is promoted by the current US government?"

01-25-2008, 08:44 PM
Yes, Mr. Dreher is a Christian and Mr. Aslan is a Muslim, but the telling distinction between them, I think, is that Mr. Dreher is a journalist and Mr. Aslan is an academic. Mr. Aslan is forever puncturing stereotypes, lecturing us that real life is much more complicated an multilayered than we think it is. Mr. Dreher, while conceding the general point to Mr. Aslan, nonetheless continues to make use of stereotypes--because ultimately you can't distill events into stories if you don't use them.

While I sympathize with Mr. Aslan's frustrations, I tend to come down on the side of Mr. Dreher. If you proceed from the assumption that every situation is too complex for the man-in-the-street to grasp, you wind up with the conclusion that the world needs to be run by wonks. No wonder Mr. Aslan favors Hillary Clinton for President.

01-25-2008, 08:48 PM
Reza is The Other without being aware of it. All teenagers imagine themselves as suicide bombers? Fathers of all cultures murder their daughters?

01-25-2008, 09:22 PM
Rod Dreher is not a good person. Let's be clear about what will happen. He will make noises about supporting Barack Obama, but in the end this thoughtful, caring, committed, loving Christian will support the party and candidate that promises endless war in the Middle East and torture.

01-25-2008, 09:55 PM
I really sympathize with Reza. He is constantly saying such and such a thing is crazy or ridiculous, and he's absolutely right. It is impossible to overstate how crazy and psychotic the right wing is in this country. They really want to take over the world and kill and torture lots of brown people. They really believe that there are secret Muslim conspiracies everywhere. They are just the most utterly disgusting and evil people you will ever meet. And so you have a smart guy like Reza wasting his time by saying things like, "actually, there isn't a secret all-Muslim conspiracy to overthrow the US government."

01-25-2008, 11:20 PM
What a waste of bandwidth.

Listening to Reza, you'd think any violence issuing from Islam is just typical late-adolescent quirky exuberance.

Rod's preference for more Republican idiocy in the Middle East (and economic devastation at home) over having to endure the cagey politics of the Clintons is no less wacky.

Verdict: The illogical and noisy gnashing of two blindspots. Send them both back to the basement till 2012.


01-25-2008, 11:44 PM
Please. Rod Dreher has a pretty clear record of being against neo-con Middle East policy. Let's stop lumping all conservatives together as "torture-lovers".

01-26-2008, 12:22 AM
Come on, where else can you find somebody willing to treat us to apologetics over honor killings?

Another nice trick: Rather than admit that stateside spokespeople for Islamic groups are scared to publicly denounce Sharia law for fear of being seen as apostates, Reza is willing to just pull out that tired old "righteous indignation," claiming that such questions are inherently bigoted and beneath the dignity of the spokespeople interviewed.


01-26-2008, 12:50 AM
So the administration of Condi Rice has set an eternal evil agenda to kill "brown" people and she jets around the middle east, drinking Muslim blood and plotting ever-more effective means of torture and murder of brown people.

Wake up, "dude". You sound like a moron.

01-26-2008, 01:02 AM
olmeta said:

... the administration of Condi Rice ...

Let's let him speak for (to) himself:

Wake up, "dude". You sound like a moron.

My thoughts exactly.

01-26-2008, 03:35 AM
Breif disclaimer: I haven't read anything Reza has written, so I'm speaking only for the what he said at the tail end of the diavlog. Apologies if I gut his views.

Although I'm -far- from being a Huntington fan, I just want to point out that there is not one substantial argument that Reza offers in that final segment against the idea that Islamic countries share a common set of cultural assumptions which pick them out as a unique civilization, and that that set of shared assumptions will come into conflict with groups that do not hold them. (This isn't Huntington's thesis, which is much stronger and basically incorrect, but it wouldn't seem a far from what Dreher seems to have in mind.)

Yes, civilizations, however you take that word, borrow from one another. Yes, civilizations have internal fractures that are really important. And yes, no civilization is a monolith. But not one of those facts implies that the fundamental assumptions shared by millions of people cannot be a source of conflict that provides an overarching narrative for an historical era. Whether it necessarily has to be so is an open and important question; but Reza's discussion seemed to suggest it was meaningless to begin with, which I think would be a mistake.

01-26-2008, 05:07 AM
It is impossible to overstate how crazy and psychotic the right wing is in this country. They really want to take over the world and kill and torture lots of brown people.

Right it was the crazy right wing of this country that flew a couple of airplanes into the Towers, one into the Pentagon and one into a field; not the crazy fanatical MUSLIMS.

01-26-2008, 01:25 PM
I am a Huntington fan, but that doesn't mean I think The Clash of Civilizations is perfect. One thing that Huntington doesn't address is how or why Islam tends to trump culture to an extent that Christianity doesn't. He claims that the West, Orthodox cultures, and Latin America, all Christian, are each a separate civilization, but that Islam is one civilization, from North Africa through the Middle East and central Asia down to Thailand and the Philippines and Indonesia. One would think that that the cultures differences to be found in such a geographic range would be profound, but Islam to a great extent seems to trump such differences. African Christians do not become Western, but African Muslims are Islamic. How does Islam do that? The successful spread of Islam is especially remarkable insofar that Islam is essentially Arabic (language, geography, etc); in other words, you can't really take on Islam without taking on certain Arabic cultural traits. V.S. Naipaul, throughout his oeuvre, describes and bitches about the power of Islam to change culture.

I did read Aslan's No God but God. It's well-written, informative on the history of Islam, and has none of the tone he exhibits in this diavlog; he's a good writer. However, he describes differences among Muslims and doesn't try to explain the commonalities and apparent unities. He blithely discounts and issues between the West and Islam, saying they're a by-product of issues between Muslims. It always cracks me up when apologists for Islam want to discount what is said in Friday sermons in mosques around the world by asking, hey, what about the Sufis?! How is it possible that a Persian ayatollah or a Danish imam can instigate violent protests all around the world? How is it possible that the Islamic Resurgence is occurring around the planet, that young Muslims, including some European-born, reject Westernization/modernization more than their parents did? Damned if I know, but I don't think Aslan knows, either.

01-26-2008, 01:54 PM
How can any rational person actually like a bunch of troglodyte evangelists? They think essentially the same way the Saudis, whom we don't like, do only they don't kill people and blow themselves up.
Reza is one of the only bloggingheads who can offer any original thought and insight but I will disagree about who's winning th war on terror. We're definitely making little progress but look what we're doing....I'm sitting here playing on the internet as is the rest of the civilized world and al qaeda is giving us everything they've got. They have no chance of winning because there's simply not enough of them, Reza said this himself. How can we lose? We're too established.

01-26-2008, 02:22 PM
exactly right on. Reza, it doesn't mean "we've lost" it means "she ignorant, brainwashed and insanely irrational." the exact religious authority you speak of is the reason she thinks this way. granted, this is accomplished easily because of the wars... but it's still irrational. haven't you seen the best selling hitler books in turkey and the very popular "bush was responsible for 9/11" consipracy theories floating around the middle east? even Putin thought bush had dan rather fired! normal people who don't read the news or who don't have access to a legitimate news source are usually really stupid and have no idea what they're talking about. check the watching america website as proof. the editorials from other countries can be completely absurd...even more absurd than townhall or something.
also, you need to go to Dearborn, MI if you haven't gone because i can guarantee you the people living there, if given a choice between america and hezbollah, would choose the latter. they don't like us and yet they're living here. they were actually demonstrating FOR hezbollah during the war. this is not insignificant news. If you come I'll even drive you by the empty space where "La Sheish" used to be but went out of business because of terror financing.
I'm not saying they're taking over....I'm just sayin'

01-26-2008, 03:22 PM
I'm not saying they're taking over....I'm just sayin' ... that "they're" what?

01-26-2008, 03:29 PM
that they're definitely not some innocuous group. it's not normal to have you're own citizens do this:


01-26-2008, 03:31 PM

01-26-2008, 03:38 PM
well, i can't get the stupid hyperlink thing to work but it's a massive crowd in dearborn holding up signs of nasrallah. not good.
yeah! go zarqawi! all hail saddam!

01-27-2008, 10:37 AM
How can we lose? We're too established.

Right. I agree. And so does Osama bin Laden. So his plan for overcoming this problem is to get American to spend itself into bankruptcy — to do to ourselves what al Qaeda never could. This is the model that worked, he thinks, to bring down the Soviet Union, and he's hoping he can successfully apply it to the United States. If you read his recent speech, you can see that he lays this strategy out for everyone to see.

01-27-2008, 02:02 PM
It's dissappointing to learn that Reza is a Hillary supporter. What's attractive about Aslan as an advocate for his ideas is that he's passionate, and makes good points. However, if anyone has seen his debate with Sam Harris at the LA Public Library, Aslan has a huge hole that you can drive a truck through and that's his penchant for making strings of logically fallacious arguments. Like Aslan, I would probably agree Sam Harris over-reached more than once in many of his own assertions. But Reza does not work with a sharp enough knife to compete.

And you see that here in this video. Reza's remarks about Hillary are just oatmeal talking points that can be caught easily from the HRC spin-machine. Finally, Hillary's record on foreign policy is clear: she can be led around by the nose on a whole host of stuff not because she is tactical, but rather, that she has no ear for the future. She really doesn't have a clue.

This is the most significant misunderstanding Hillary as a candidate, and as a person. She was thought to be tactical and strategic in all her votes and remarks about the Iraq War. I totally disagree. What's truer is that she is a highly intelligent persons who can't aggregate and put the pieces together. She is exactly what people do not expect of here, therefore, about foreign affairs: deeply, deeply naive.

01-27-2008, 08:00 PM
According to Gore Vidal, Tim McVeigh told him in a letter that he was an agnostic. And in any case, McVeigh did not murder those people in the name of Jesus Christ. McVeigh was very honest (and coldly rational) in his reasoning and Christianity figured in it only incidentally in that the Branch Davidians were a quasi-Christian cult.

01-27-2008, 08:03 PM
Aslan looked foolish in that debate with Sam Harris, though Aslan didn't seem to notice, which made his condescension toward Harris ridiculous. His trump card at every point was his identity. It wasn't enough.

01-27-2008, 09:41 PM
It's refreshing to hear Reza's views on Obama's perceived support among Republicans, the necessity of real expertise in the next president, and the labeling of clashing civilizations. Although I would love Obama to be our country's next president, if he gets the nomination I will not be at all surprised if he doesn't win the general election. I also will not be surprised if all the pundits who are now saying it's not about race later say that it is all about race. I personally know too many people who would not at all be considered rednecks, they are college-educated, middle-class Northerners, but still they are racist. Most are also moderate Republicans. Nevertheless, this says more about the media's spin on the current political climate, than it does about ordinary Americans. However, whatever the media says then reverberates into what Americans start saying. Like Reza pointed out, when it comes to actually picking the next president in the privacy of the voting booth, a whole different viewpoint will most likely be expressed. It is not the one you see on tv, but the viewpoint that is expressed in hushed tones around the dinner table and, unfortunately, not a wholly open-minded, tolerant one.

01-28-2008, 12:03 AM
Yea just look at the race baiting that is going on in the supposedly "progressive" Democratic party.

01-28-2008, 02:05 PM
Can we get Reza some sort of prize? With a large monetary reward? My hope is to let him retire to a nice sunny destination to GET RID OF THIS CLOWN.

Hey Reza, when you are accusing someone of playing word games, you MIGHT be a little more believable when you don't dance around the concept of culture too much. No such thing as Islamic or Christian culture, huh? When you finish your Derridean re-definition of common words I think you can easily find a job with the Free Software Foundation redefining the meanings of "free" and the like.

Take a couple of aspirins and see your local shrink, pal.

01-29-2008, 12:33 AM
I have to take exception to the Reza’s idea that it’s OK that the Muslim clergy who officiated at the funeral of the girls killed by their father spoke only of the need for “strong families”.

I certainly agree that domestic violence, and even the belief that domestic violence is acceptable, is not confined to, or typical of, Islam. However, if a clergy of any faith presides at the funeral of someone who was murdered under conditions considered “culturally acceptable” that clergyman has a responsibility to speak up and say “this is not right”.

I grew up in the late 50s/ 60s with a devoutly Christian father who was bipolar and paranoid, who beat me constantly based on bizarre scenarios- sometimes to the life-threatening point. In 50s/60s Christian America, that was considered “a father’s prerogative”. I regularly went to school covered with bruises (and frequent broken bones), and no teacher, or neighbor, or relative, nor my parish priest, ever questioned this. However, in the long fight to make child abuse unacceptable, it was ESSENTIAL that people start to say “this is wrong”.

And for what it’s worth, I have attended the funeral of a domestic violence victim where the clergy running the service did take the time to say “this is wrong- she should not have been killed”. If enough people say that, enough times, it does make a difference.

01-29-2008, 01:19 AM

Excellent contribution, and thanks for the personal insight. I completely agree with you about how wrong it is not to acknowledge the heinousness of such parental behavior, and worse, to tacitly excuse such behavior on cultural grounds.

01-29-2008, 01:53 AM
And for what it’s worth, I have attended the funeral of a domestic violence victim where the clergy running the service did take the time to say “this is wrong- she should not have been killed”. If enough people say that, enough times, it does make a difference.

Very true! I'm sorry you had to endure such abuse.

I don't think, however, that Reza's point was to justify such contemptible behavior or to argue in favor of sweeping it under the rug. His point was you can't simply blame Islam, just as you can't blame Christianity or "American culture" for what happened to you.

Trickier questions: corporeal punishment in general (which is virtually universal and not culture specific); practices like circumcision in Judaism and Islam (which are religious rites) and genital mutilation ("female circumcision), a cultural practice in parts of Africa.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
01-29-2008, 12:33 PM
It should be kept in mind in this discussion that Islamic funeral services are usually very short and do not really include any type of formal sermon. Prayers are offered for the deceased and for the community in general and while oftentimes some brief comments may be made, they are almost always directed towards taking the reality of death as a lesson for the living and rarely will any type of remarks about the life of the deceased be made, as one would commonly see at a western funeral.

There are other cultural ways in which Muslims usually remember the life of the person who passed away and these vary from culture to culture. Of course, some Muslims who are from this culture may adopt some variation of the typical Western funeral elegy, especially among converts whose family wishes to participate in the service. Among the African American Muslim community, I have attended numerous Christian/Muslim funeral services where the family's Christian preacher will deliver a more traditional Christian funeral and then the family will have Muslims do the short Muslim funeral prayer as well. Sometimes of course there is conflict between people over the family's wishes and the desires of the deceased, but it is heartwarming how often the family will welcome the Muslim community's participation in respect of their family member while also desiring the Christian funeral for their own comfort.

I also agree that I don't think Mr. Aslan was implying that issues such as domestic violence should be swept under the rug. The problem is that people with an anti-Muslim agenda would like to link such wicked behavior with the religion of Islam while in reality the way to attack such a problem is to consciously show that it is not part of the religion and therefore remove any possible justification that a person may claim for his own crime.

Cultural issues are more difficult than religious ones, since while it can be shown clearly by reference to religious authority that something like "honor killing" has no basis in the religion, it may be true that heinous acts such as these have been practiced historically in certain cutures (among both Muslims and others). Therefore the argument has to be about the need for culture to change...and I agree with the general sentiment expressed by both Mr. Dreher and other commenters that it is of course extremely important if something in a culture needs to be changed to speak openly and forthrightly about that and to do so repeatedly and consistently.

We still do not really know what happened in this case in terms of whether any notion of "honor" was involved, but domestic violence is certainly a problem in Muslim communities here in the U.S. just as it is a problem in non-Muslim communities here in the U.S.

Most children who are killed in the U.S. (among "Christians") are killed by their parents and almost all are killed by someone they knew, contrary to the widespread phobia of some stranger abduction or something like that happening to one's child.

01-29-2008, 12:37 PM
But I do blame Christianity (as taught at the time) and the American culture of the time for what happened to me. The culture of the time taught that the father of a family had an UNLIMITED right to physically discipline his children, and no one could interfere. (Likewise, when my mother consulted our priest about our family problems, she was told that her priority should be to placate my father to avoid divorce at all costs.)

Changing this required that people- a lot of people- start speaking up.

My father was not suicidal- there was a reason he focussed his angry compulsions on his children rather than (for instance) going into biker bars and picking fights with 300 lb. motorcycle toughs. He knew that there would be consequences if he fought bikers. If he had thought that he'd be dealing with the criminal justice system for beating his children, he wouldn't have been so ready to do so.

Although honor killing is not an Islamic doctrine, and is practiced by Christians and Druze in the middle east, and was formerly practiced in Italy, it IS considered acceptable in much of the Muslim world. (A recent attempt to impose serious penalties for honor killing in Jordan failed in the elected lower house.) Thus, I think the clergyman who said nothing about the wrongness of the murders was derelict in his duties, and Reza was wrong to condone it.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
01-29-2008, 12:52 PM

I appreciate your comments and I don't really disagree. I would be a little careful about assuming that we know exactly what happened at the funeral. Even the one line mention of the funeral in the Dallas Morning News story mentions that the Imam spoke in Arabic as well as English. Obviously the reporter has no idea what was said in Arabic, nor does she give any indication of knowing what was said for example in the Friday prayer services at that mosque or any of the other mosques in the community.

So, I agree 100 percent that the leadership of the community should have spoken out vociferously, I'm just saying I wouldn't be so sure we know whether they did or did not.

I do want to say as an American Muslim that I don't think there is any acceptance of "honor killing" in the American Muslim community. I have never heard a Muslim in the United States publicly or privately justifying a "honor killing" in any way. It is unfortunate that so much time has to be spent arguing against right wingers who want to associate it with Islam when that time would be much better spent just working against it in more productive ways. It does seem to be something much too acceptable in some Muslim cultures overseas, although I wouldn't say "most."

I do agree that American culture generally is better than most traditional Muslim cultures in trying to take abuse seriously. (I actually work as a lawyer and Guardian ad Litem for children involved in the court system who have been abused and/or neglected by their parents) As your experience shows, it wasn't always this way and it didn't get to be this way by accident. Also, no one would argue that the U.S. deals with such issues in perfect way now and we have a ton of improvements to make.

So, let's keep working on it and I hope that you keep raising your own voice strongly. Thank you for your comments and May God Bless you.

01-29-2008, 06:39 PM
But I do blame Christianity (as taught at the time) and the American culture of the time for what happened to me. The culture of the time taught that the father of a family had an UNLIMITED right to physically discipline his children, and no one could interfere.

I understand your point. But try looking at Reza's view this way: Suppose you went to India and told your story, and the Indian reaction was, "Well, of course, that happened to you. That's how Christians are. They're fascists and barbarians."

01-29-2008, 08:59 PM

Since, as a Christian, I have a lot of respect for Islam, I would hate to see misplaced defensiveness create a temptation to keep silence about things that need to be exposed (“let’s keep quiet about the bad stuff some of our guys do, because people who don’t like us will take advantage”).

I would never say that Muslims are the only ones who do this. My ex grew up in a small town in the deep South, and went to (Christian) church every Sunday. When he was a child, there was a notorious lynching in a nearby town (we’re talking 1950s here). Although Sunday sermons were of the hellfire variety, and fulminated about all kinds of sins, the ex told me the preachers never mentioned this very public murder which must have involved local citizens. Why not? It would give the area a bad name. That silence undoubtedly reinforced the idea, among many churchgoers, that lynching was “sort-of OK” and that they should keep quiet about anything they knew.

I would levy a similar criticism of John Paul II during his 1995 trip to Kenya. Kenya is about 25% Catholic, and female genital mutilation (FGM) is common. In Kenya, JPII preached about chastity and the duty of the individual to make sacrifices for the family- WITHOUT mentioning that Catholic theology ALSO forbids mutilating the human body. I have a huge problem with this because chastity and maintaining a strong family are PRECISELY THE EXCUSES PEOPLE USE TO JUSTIFY MUTILATING THEIR DAUGHTERS. In my book, both the pope and the Imam sinned by omission- preaching a sermon that the listeners might perceive as condoning the murder/mutilation, without clarifying that these things are wrong.

PS Abu Noor, thanks for the kind words.