“The ability to dehumanise large tracts of fellow human beings..”

While there’s always been an ebb and flow in the quality and quantity of comments on Slugger over time, in recent weeks, and perhaps months, I’ve certainly got the impression that there has been an increasing tendency among some commenters to slip too-readily into sweeping, and offensive, characterisations of the other side – whichever that other side might be. At CiF today, John Lloyd picked up on the same R4 interview Mick noted yesterday, with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and drew parallels between her criticism of the fundamentalist nature of radical Islamism and other ideologically driven movements.. and highlights the tactics they share.. as well as the danger.From John Lloyd’s CiF article:

I am with Hirsi Ali on this. As I argued in a piece on Ken Loach’s film The Wind that Shakes the Barley on Cif two weeks ago, ideology – uncompromising, appealing to purity of thought and action, murderous – is required to give real or imagined wrongs a framework, a cause and both a battle cry and a battle order. You must fight for something as well as against something. And one of the most powerful of such ideologies has been, in very different forms, an appeal to oneness: oneness of nation and ethnos (Nazism); one-ness of class and party (communism) and oneness of faith, state and thought (Islamism).

The ability to dehumanise large tracts of fellow human beings, because they are non-Aryan, or bourgeois, or non-Muslim, lends great strength to the cause: strength enough to cause adherents to gladly murder, and willingly die, for it.

I looked more closely at the earlier article John Lloyd references, and drew some conclusions, here – The best we can hope for?”

And his warning on ideology being used to dehumanise large tracts of fellow human beings was, I’d suggest, a concern shared by Stephen Fry in his recent speech at the Why History Matters campaign launch, when he argued that:

“History is not the story of strangers, aliens from another realm; it is the story of us had we been born a little earlier. History is memory; we have to remember what it is like to be a Roman, or a Jacobite or a Chartist or even – if we dare, and we should dare – a Nazi. History is not abstraction, it is the enemy of abstraction.”

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  • joeCanuck

    Interesting Pete.
    I’ve only been visiting the blog from around the time of the last westminster elections.
    Have you noticed any pattern to the ebb and flow that you mention?
    For example, does the personal/group abuse increase at this particular time of the year?

  • Pete Baker

    joe.

    It has, in the past, been more to do with the main topics being covered, especially if those topics dominate the posts here for any length of time – that isn’t necessarily dependent on the time of year.

  • slug

    Certainly the number of posts making cheap tribal points has increased.

    In that sense Slugger has become very sectarian.

  • Nevin

    Dehumanisation/demonisation is one side of the coin; sanitisation of paramilitary fascism and mafiaism is the other. It’s a funny old world.

  • joeCanuck

    Thanks Pete.
    I haven’t lived in N.I. for about 25 years although I do return for a couple of weeks every second year or so. I mainly meet with my siblings and their spouses who are, apart from one, all from one tradition. This is quite unlike the situation when I lived there and worked mainly with people who came from the other tradition and I lived with my opposite religion wife in a mixed area.
    How representative of their various traditions do you think the people who post here are?

  • Aaron_Scullion

    I think the question is whether the cheap, ‘tribal’ insults and interactions on slugger are of any more benefit than people shouting insults over a peace wall?

  • Pete Baker

    It’s straying a little off-topic, Joe, but it’s important to remember that a public forum such as Slugger – although private property – is similar to a phone-in poll. The numbers are not reliable indicators of how representative the opinions are because those voting are, although for widely different reasons, essentially a self-selecting group.

    That’s why it’s better to try to encourage a discussion rather than opposite sides ranting at each other.. and it’s why we try to enforce the Commenting policy.. which can be best summed up by “Be blunt, but be civil!”

  • seabhac siulach

    If there is a tendency for ‘some commenters to slip too-readily into sweeping, and offensive, characterisations of the other side’, surely this tendency is no more than an accurate representation of the real world outside the virtual one of Slugger, in which the six county society is riven by deep sectarian fault lines. It would be all too easy to sanitise the comments, to pretend perhaps that such deep seated offensive characterisations of one side or the other do not exist…however, the reality is that they do and therefore, for Slugger to be an accurate gauge of ‘Northern Ireland politics and culture’ (as it says in the title) then it must accept that culture as it is, warts and all. Or are we to expect that Slugger can be a cure for all of the historical sectarianism present in the 6 counties?
    This is hardly realistic…
    I, for one, am being educated by reading the comments on this site, and feel that it provides a useful window into the thinking of the ‘other side’, no matter how hard or offensive some of the comments may be at times. In fact the idea of sanitising comments (apart from the libelous, perhaps) goes against the point made by Stephen Fry above, ‘History is memory; we have to remember what it is like to be a Roman, or a Jacobite or a Chartist or even – if we dare, and we should dare – a Nazi.’ If the comments are too heavily sanitised by some arbitrary ‘commenting policy’ then how is one to see in to the other side, their thinking no matter how offensive (I mean, Stephen Fry mentions Nazis!)?
    I feel that the different threads on Slugger would be much improved if they were guided instead more carefully by a moderator, who could guide different commentators back to the issue being commented on, and stop the usual tendency for the threads to go off-topic after the first 10 comments (if lucky) or so. Of course, this would require perhaps less issues being discussed and more work for moderators!

  • G

    I’ve been reading slugger for about 16 months now (very rarely contribute); I loved it, found it really informative to read diverse opinions and views from both sides. But over the last few months it has gone awry, it has basically turned into an arena for one side to bash the other and score points.

    I would suggest that recently it has unfortunately enforced stereotypes for readers from all viewpoints more than understanding. I would certainly put myself into that category. Sad I know but the lack of understanding and pure hatred often displayed simple suggests to me there will be no (or at most token gesture) reconciliation.

    I can of course only assume, but I reckon I’m not alone.

  • G

    I want to add that (as ss has already suggested) it couldn’t be any other way really, we need to see these views and opinions warts and all.

    An eye opener for everyone really.

  • Aislingeach

    Like G, I have been reading for quite a while, only recently posting. I don’t take quite as dismal view of the prospect of reconciliation–as Pete notes, this is a self-selected group and the most vocal are not necessarily the truest measure of opinion.

    Much of the sectarianism leaves me…bemused, like Guliver watching the argument over which end of the egg to break. Just fry the fool thing and be done with it!
    (Not saying that the issues involved in NI can be so easily dismissed, but it is nice when we see more folks working on the important things…like which meats to have with the egg)

  • mickhall

    For anyone to think Hirsi Ali and John Lloyd could put manners on anyone must be scraping around the bottom of the bucket, both of these disreputable individuals acted as cheer leaders for Bush and Blairs criminal war on the Iraqi people and in the process Hirsi Ali has demonized millions of Muslims.

    I have just written a reply to Mr Lloyds grubby little attempt to re-write the history of British imperialism in Ireland when he reviewed Ken Loachs latest film, it will appear in the next Blanket update.

  • Garibaldy

    Pete,

    It’s not only ideologically driven movements (not a phrase I like by the way as everybody is driven by some ideology, even nice wishy-washy, happy-clappy hippies and liberals) that have the ability to dehumanise and demonise. All shades of opinion are more than capable of doing it, and have done it consistently for centuries.

    To take the most recent and clear example, are the only people demonising say Muslims rabid neo-cons? I think not. To start from the premise that this is something confined to movements famous for principle rather than pragmatism is to start from a mistaken, and by now I would have thought rather tired, assumption.

  • Kathy_C

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi all,

    What I find fascinating…especially on this board, how if I state the british gov’t is anti-Catholic due to their laws which state the monarch can be any religion in the world…EXCEPT Catholic…then I’m derided and mocked and told I’m a bigot… But hasn’t the british gov’t by the very nature of this law…demonized Catholics as not fit…or situable to be the monarch thus demonizing those who follow the Catholic faith? I find it sad that it is acceptable behavior to demonize Catholics and if a Catholic speaks out…heaven help him or her because there won’t be an outcry of disgust…just nod of agreament….

  • mickhall

    Exactly kathy,

    You have hit the nail on the head, what all this nonsense is really about, i e the UK [and the US] can demonize who they like from their position of power, but via pens for hire like John Lloyd they are saying woe be-tide anyone who has the British States heel upon their throat doing the same.

    Lloyd approvingly quotes Ms Ali in his Guardian piece, despite knowing full well what the silly and opportunist woman says is rubbish.

    “In an appearance on BBC Radio 4.s Start the Week program on Monday, Hirsi Ali said: “Muslim women must remain virgins, and are confined to their houses; they are beaten; they can be murdered in honour killings and suffer mutilation.”

    Yes like christians/who-ever, some muslim men mistreat their women folk, but take the overwhelming majority of muslims in the West, Turkey, India, the far east etc, their women are not confined to the house, nor do their fathers practice mutilation on their children, which is something almost unique to countries on the horn of africa were Ali grew up and is certainly not confined to those who practice the islamic faith, but is an obscene practice carried out by christians in that part of the world also.

    For example Turkey has had a women muslim as prime minister MrsTansu Ciller , Lloyd is well aware of this, as to is Ms Ali, yet they both claim muslim women are not allowed to leave there homes.

    In other words they have no problem demonizing people themselves but wish to lecture other people on this subject, what does that make them pray tell?

  • peter fallow

    The naked hatred shown by those who delighted in the burning of orange halls last night (or ‘gang huts’) has been illuminating. The dehumanisation of loyalists and unionists on this board is rampant. It’s best we know our enemy though, so thanks.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    peter fallow: “The naked hatred shown by those who delighted in the burning of orange halls last night (or ‘gang huts’) has been illuminating. The dehumanisation of loyalists and unionists on this board is rampant. It’s best we know our enemy though, so thanks. ”

    As opposed to, say, the Unionist attitude that “spides will be spides” when Loyalism’s “naked hatreds” are pointed out? There is no shortage of Unionists who dehumanize Loyalist’s less socially-presentable exponents.

    mickhall: “For example Turkey has had a women muslim as prime minister MrsTansu Ciller , Lloyd is well aware of this, as to is Ms Ali, yet they both claim muslim women are not allowed to leave there homes. ”

    Point of fact, mickhall — Turkey was a militantly secular country since Ataturk and has only recently been allowing more Islamic influence into the state. Ms. Ali’s characterization about women not being able to leave their homes for most of the religious-oriented states in Africa and the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia. Iran has a “age of consent” at age 9, which the mullahs interpret that, in the case of rape of a female aged 9 or older, the burder on proof is upon the individual you and I would recognize as the victim of the crime. Honor killings occur even in “cosmopolitan” areas Lebannon and the west, let alone in North Africa and Middle East.

    Ms. Ali says what she knows to be true because she’s experienced it. he knowledge may not be universal to the whole of the religion, but it is closer to the reality of the Muslim world than your examples from secular Turkey are.

  • ijtihad

    hirsi ali has been lauded as some kind of ‘reformer of islam’ by sections of the european and US media when really, in the eyes of the muslim community, she has about as much credibility as fr pat buckley has as a reformer of catholicism.
    oh, but she’s photogenic and tells people what they want to hear about ‘islamic’ barbarity…nuff said.

  • Greenflag

    George Washington and Thomas Jefferson among many others were successful terrorists . But don’t tell GW Bush that ! So to was Eamon De Valera and Oliver Cromwell, Menachim Begin , and Nelson Mandela. But you won’t find too many Irish, English , Israelis or South Africa terming their ‘founding fathers’ terrorists . The preferred term is either freedom fighter or patriot.

    All of the above were ‘rebels’ against the political status quo . If there were no terrorists/freedom fighters/rebels we’d have no democracy and europe would still be ruled by feudal age monarchs .

    Communist, Nazi and one party Fascist rule can be seen as State sanctioned terrorism .

    Fundamentalism be it of the Islamic or Christian variety contains within it the seed of intolerance which could conceivably follow the path of horrors of Communism, Fascism and Nazism .

    Paisley’s faith tells him that RC’s are destined for hell and that the Pope is the Whore of Babylon . The Islamic suicide bombers believe that ‘infidels’ are Satan’s followers on earth . Once people get to that level of fanaticism then you can forget any hope of ‘compromise’ . There are no half way houses between Heaven and Hell except of course for a few Catholics who struggle with believing in a purgatory or a limbo .

  • michael

    ive been reading slugger for the last 12 months and like many people do not often comment (IMHO im not qualified to enter into some discussions). but i have most definitly noticed an increase in less than level headed comments. this may be in part to an increased usage of the site.

    Although i personally disagree with many of these comments, i feel that the fact that a discussion about extreme views highlights the existence of a moral high ground on which some of us sit.

    That is that there exists an intelectual snobbery and attitude of ‘if only i could make them understand’. We must remember that a more liberal view point is just that, a view point. It is only more valid in our liberal opinion. Ergo, if we are to be totally pragmatic then we must accept that liberalism and extremism are both equally valid view points and must be treated with equal respect.

    alas, this means that i must give somone spouting SF or DUP propaganda the same time of day as say … the greens, or the SDLP. But, such is life.

    i dont think that really went anywhere, but that my two cent!

  • harpo

    ‘George Washington and Thomas Jefferson among many others were successful terrorists .’

    Greenflag:

    No they weren’t. What evidence is there that they attacked civilians and/or civilian targets?

    You fall prey to the old nonsense that terrorist is just another alternate name for freedom fighter or patriot. It isn’t. One can be a freedom fighter and never engage in terrorism, so one in that case wouldn’t be a terrorist.

    Thus we have some freedom fighters who are not terrorists, simply because they didn’t engage in terrorism. And we also have some freedom fighters who are terrorists, simply because they did engage in terrorism.

    The point is that a person can be both a freedom fighter and a terrorist. They are not words for the same thing.

    ‘terrorists/freedom fighters/rebels’

    These are not the same thing, as explained above.

    ‘Once people get to that level of fanaticism then you can forget any hope of ‘compromise’ . There are no half way houses between Heaven and Hell’

    Is the Pope a fanatic too? Doesn’t he believe in heaven and hell? Doesn’t he believe that certain people are destined for hell?

    Why pick on Paisley as if he is the only Christian who meets your definition of fanatic, when his religion is Christianity just like the Pope?

  • mickhall

    Dread,
    Turkey may well be a secular state, more so than the UK incidentally, but I do not wish to get bogged down here over an argument about turkey, although I would just add the current AKP government was elected by a very large majority and whether one supports it or not, [I do not] has been a real breath of fresh air to Turkey and you will find it very hard to get many turks to admit otherwise, as it is the most honest since Ataturk ruled and it is far more openly democratic than any previous government. I never thought I a lefty would say this, but the AKP government is one of the best things that has happened to Turkey in the last 20 years.

    As to Ms Ali, the fact she was a muslim does not make here an expert on all the countries where that religion is practiced, I come from a jewish background, but I have no idea how Jews live in Russia or even Australia, I can make a guess but that is all it would be. All she has experienced is life as a muslim in Holland and Somalia and from what I have heard she herself has not suffered discrimination in either places. although of cause this does not mean another muslim woman does not, it is just to hold up this particular woman as a living example of oppression is just plain daft..

    If you have an argument with my claim that the over whelming majority of muslims do not mutilate their daughters then bring it on, we can debate it by looking at the facts.

    yes honor killing occur in many countries including ireland and the UK when they are not only practiced by muslims, now are they, but we would call them something different. but the fact is in the majority of countries there is no such thing legally as an honor killing, this violent act is considered murder and correctly so.

    There are certain rural communities where these violent acts still occur, the kurdish areas of Turkey and other countries in that region, the horn of africa, India and pakistan and within some tribes within arabia and of course Afghanistan. but even in these out of the way place the governments are trying to bring such barbaric practices to an end. to tar all muslims with such behavior is like saying all Loyalists are reactionary b i g o t s, which as I hope you will agree is absolute nonsense.

    Regards.

  • Maura

    I too have been reading Slugger for a while, only contributing recently and not very often.
    I think Slugger is one of the most superior blogs out there. I read some others, they will remain nameless, and I am horrified at the personal attacks on any dissenter. Name calling e.g plastics ( whatever they may be), endless pedantry which usually become the aforementioned name-calling. It is mind boggling really. We all lose the bap sometimes, but what’s the point really?
    I realise there is some slagging here on Slugger, and even the odd vile attack ( by those who shall remain nameless also), but overall I find the standard of discussion here excellent, from all sides.
    Naturally I have my own political opinions, but being fair, there are some thought provoking posts from ‘the other side.’
    Well done to those in charge, I say.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    mickhall: “yes honor killing occur in many countries including ireland and the UK when they are not only practiced by muslims, now are they, but we would call them something different. but the fact is in the majority of countries there is no such thing legally as an honor killing, this violent act is considered murder and correctly so. ”

    they are pre-dominantly Muslim, although I will agree that there may be identification issues. That said, while the laws say it is illegal (and I agree — rightly so), the law is poorly enforced, with killers receiving exceedingly light sentences on those occasions they are brought to trial. Many of these cases are swept under the rug or poorly tried by prosecutors.

    mickhall: “tar all muslims with such behavior is like saying all Loyalists are reactionary b i g o t s, which as I hope you will agree is absolute nonsense. ”

    What I am saying is that the truth may not be what Ms. Ali has trumpeted, but it also is not the small potatoes you’ve made it out to be. I have not said “all” in my post in this thread. I have studiously avoided Asians, such as Idonesians, who, at least until recently, had a very cosmopolitan interpretation of Islam. that said, there are Indonesian Muslim agitating for Sharia law being applied to both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. I agree its not as cut and dried as some would make it, but its also not nearly as a matter of isolated incidents as you seem to want to believe. I would not say all Unionists and reactionary b####s… I am less sanguine on Loyalism, although that seems to be as much a class distinction as anything else.

  • Greenflag

    ‘What evidence is there that they attacked civilians ‘

    The very country Canada in which you live Harpo no less. Canada would probably have been just another State/States of the USA had it not been for the mass exodus of Empire Loyalists fleeing from the American Revolution post 1786. I’m not saying that Washington or Jefferson personnally attacked Empire Loyalist civilians but the same cannot be said for their followers. Your attempt to distinguish between terrorist and freedom fighter/patriot is disingenous . I suppose you as a Unionist will now be telling us that Patrick Pearse was a freedom fighter and James Connolly was an Irish patriot ? This will be a change from your more usual denuciation of the former two ‘terrorists’ ?

    ‘Is the Pope a fanatic too? ‘

    SFAIK neither the present Pope nor the previous Popes have allowed their faith to prevent them from meeting with and discussing religious and secular matters with a wide variety of world leaders from almost every State and religious denomination . Doesn’t sound fanatical to me .

    Doesn’t he (the Pope ) believe that certain people are destined for hell?

    Possibly . I may even be on the list . Nevertheless in so far as I can remember ‘other christians a.k.a protestants are not routinely condemned to everlasting hell fire simply because they are protestant . Paisley’s true believers apparently think that being an RC good , bad or indifferent is all that’s required for the one way trip to heaven’s gate where they will be refused admittance by a suitably reformed Peter the Protestant and then directed to the hell’s gate entrance where they will be welcomed by hordes of fellow Fenians etc etc.

    ‘Why pick on Paisley as if he is the only Christian who meets your definition of fanatic, ‘

    I’m not saying he’s the only one . He’s just the one who comes most readily to mind in a discussion on Islamic fundamentalism . The mindset similarities are scary . About on a par with the medieval RC Church . Islam is in need of a Reformation and so too is Paisleyism.

  • mickhall

    Dread,

    I do not really feel we are that far apart on this and if it seems I am implying this issue is small potatoes then I have not explained myself properly, as I assure you I do not. On this point I would just add many people who are muslims regard this issue as being of immense importance, not least because they feel it has little to do with their religion but is more of a cultural matter, which has been part of life in some rural areas long before Mohammed’s day, India and Pakistan are a good examples of this, where at one time both hindus and muslims practiced this crime.. thus they feel to practice such acts in todays world belittles and damages both their religion and the women who are the victims of such crimes.

    What I have learned is if you demonize people by pushing them into a corner far from forcing them to liberalize they often cling to the most basic things in their lives, which is very often their religion and they will defend it right or wrong because it has played an important role in who they are. Thus if there is to be a liberalization of sections of the islamic people it will have to come from within. This does not mean we must cease all criticism, far from it, but it must be based on a reality they understand and not be based on our own prejudices.

    Best regards

  • Greenflag

    ‘What I have learned is if you demonize people by pushing them into a corner far from forcing them to liberalize they often cling to the most basic things in their lives, which is very often their religion and they will defend it right or wrong because it has played an important role in who they are. Thus if there is to be a liberalization of sections of the islamic people it will have to come from within.’

    Excellent comment mickhall . The story of Catholic Ireland (1550 to 1829 ) in a paragraph 🙂

  • joeCanuck

    There are indeed some people who post here who do their best to demonize “themmuns”.
    Let me in my small way try to turn the tide (who just shouted “Canute” from the sidelines?).
    I mentioned earlier in this thread that, although I came from a Catholic background, (I’m not religious myself), in my career in N.I. I worked mainly with men (yes, they were all men then), and 92.5% of them were from the Protestant tradition. I never found any of them to be less than decent people, helping to train me and mentor me as my career progressed. The majority of them were also Orangemen or, at least, marched on the 12th.
    I had no problem with that, nor do I now.
    Worldwide though, the OO does have a serious image problem due to some of the people they associate with. I think they do need to address that. Shouting at them from the sidelines or throwing golf balls at them will not cause any change, however.
    As noted earlier in this thread, real lasting change can only come from within.

  • Patty

    michall:

    you say: “Lloyd approvingly quotes Ms Ali in his Guardian piece, despite knowing full well what the silly and opportunist woman says is rubbish.”

    I say: how can you possibly say that Hirsi ALi is an opportunist? An opportunist is one who is seeking a personal advantage, or an extension of their personal influence. What personal gain has Ali made by speaking out? She has death threats, requires body guards, has been kicked out of her apartment, forced to resign her govt. position, had her passport temporarily revoked. SOme opportunity!!

    Show me your facts supporting your contention that
    under the burka, the hajib, the veil, muslim women enjoy anything close to equal rights with men. Show me how you can write the virtual enslavement and abuse of muslim women is an exception and not the rule.

  • harpo

    ‘I’m not saying that Washington or Jefferson personnally attacked Empire Loyalist civilians but the same cannot be said for their followers.’

    Greenfag:

    So no proof to back up your assertion that both of those gents were terrorists? Typical!

    You didn’t mention their followers, or the groups that they led, you specifically stated that they were terrorists.

    ‘I suppose you as a Unionist will now be telling us that Patrick Pearse was a freedom fighter and James Connolly was an Irish patriot ? This will be a change from your more usual denuciation of the former two ‘terrorists’ ?’

    Will I? Where did I ever say that they were “the former two ‘terrorists’ “?

    I don’t know much about minor figures in Irish history (being British) but did they ever attack civilians or civilian objects?

    ‘Doesn’t sound fanatical to me’

    No, but that wasn’t what you based your criticism of Paisley on, was it? You said that he had consigned a whole bunch of people to hell. So has the Pope (not that you mentioned it). What is the difference?

    Paisley sees all Catholics as sinners true enough, but then the Pope is with Paisley in believing that sinners go to hell. And the Pope has a long list of who the sinners in the world are – abortionists, those who use contraception etc etc.

    So Paisley thinks that all Catholics are going to hell, and the Pope thinks that everyone who uses contraception is going there. What’s the difference in terms of fanaticism?

  • mickhall

    Patty,

    As to Ms Ali, perhaps you should do a bit of research of your own on her that goes beyond the normal media powder puff and her own self promotion. This is a woman who demands absolute freedom for herself yet joined one of the most reactionary political parties in Holland which opposes the freedom of others on a number of issues. This is a woman who condemned muslims for coming into Holland etc but told lies when she first claimed asylum. I was going to add much more but if I did you would not have to do your own search.
    But I will just add, this woman turned on her own for personal advantage, which just about meets your definition of opportunist.

    Pattie, please tell me when I wrote that under the Burka muslim women have equal rights with men? I have never nor would I ever say or write such a thing, for the simple reason I am not knowledgeable enough on this matter to do so, nor do I believe it to be so. Although I fear compared to you I would be considered very knowledgeable. Why do I say this, because you seem to view all muslims whether male or female as one common slab of mass humanity. Which they are not.

    The majority of Muslim women throughout the world would not be seen dead in a burka. Instead of asking these daft question which have no basis in fact, why do you not go out and talk to some muslim women, or if possible travel to a country in which islam is the main religion, or even exchange emails with muslim women of your own age who live beyond the shores of your own country.

    You will find that most young women and old who were born into the islamic faith are much like yourself, they worry about the same things and tap their toe to much the same type of music, all be it with a regional slant and love their husbands and children. Believe it or not just like most of us they are not obsessed with the religion they were born into, but use it as a fall back crutch during difficult times. True some may be devout but as with all religions these will be a minority.

    Being a woman you will be more able than I to find out the truth about how muslim women see the world and view their own lives. I am not putting you down Pattie, as personally I am an atheist and believe all organized religions oppress people to one degree or another; and as woman are doubly oppressed in all the societies which make up the world, then as under Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism or Islam they will be more oppressed than the men. But please put you black and white view of islam to one side and search the truth out for yourself, If you have the courage and inquisitiveness to do so, I wish you well.

    All the best,

    Mick

  • Greenflag

    ‘You didn’t mention their followers, or the groups that they led, you specifically stated that they were terrorists. ‘

    From a British Imperial point of view they were . Had they been captured they would have been hanged on the spot . Many Empire Loyalists were ‘hanged ‘ or shot by American Revolutionaries . If that is not terror
    then I don’t know what is . Some of these Empire Loyalists had fought with the British but many were innocent civilians . Wars are not fought by the Queensberry rules neither in 1786 nor in 2006 . The fact that the Americans won their war against the British has meant that Washington , Jefferson etc etc are now honoured as the Founding Fathers of the American Republic . The fact that the most of Irish won their war of Independence meant that De Valera , Pearse, Connolly etc are considered heroes in the struggle for Irish Independence and Irish Democracy .

    ‘then the Pope is with Paisley in believing that sinners go to hell.’

    Not quite . Paisley’s voodoo religion believes that Catholics go to hell because they are Catholic and that in itself in Paisley’s narrow mind is sufficient . Whether Catholics are sinners or live good lives is immaterial . Hell fire awaits all Catholics no exceptions . The Pope’s religion does not consign any protestant denomination to hell not even Paisley’s shower.

    ‘What’s the difference in terms of fanaticism? ‘

    The difference Harpo is that Paisley has been elected by the majority of Northern Ireland Unionists /Protestants as their choice for First MInister in a State (Northern Ireland ) which has a 47% Roman Catholic minority . As we can see from Paisley’s bizarre rant today the DUP leader has learned nothing in the past 40 years.

  • Patty

    Michall:

    I’m not as thick, nor as young, as you seem to think. Thank you for your civility, though, in your response.

    I would recommend to you for your reading pleasure:

    Azar Nafisi’s “Reading Lotlita in Tehran” (Iranian women who is English prof.)

    I would also recommend http://memritv.org/transcript.asp?P1=1050
    (Syrian woman who emigrated to the US)

  • Rory

    Doesn’t he (the Pope ) believe that certain people are destined for hell?

    It would be most strange if he did and heretical in the extreme to the fundamental Catholic teaching on the infinite mercy of God and indeed a very sin against the Holy Ghost Himself in that it would presume to deny hope and would therefore fall into the category of embracing the only two sins which even God, by virtue of His nature, cannot forgive – despair and presumption.

    So, in short, if the Pope did indeed preach that certain people are destined for Hell the answer to that old question – “Is the Pope a Catholic?” -would have to be “No”.

  • Rory

    On the “Who’s a terrorist issue?”, it’s simple really –

    The war of the weak against the mighty is called “Terrorism”.

    The terrorism of the mighty visited upon the weak is called “War”.

    Guess what side I’m on?

  • mickhall

    Patty,

    I do not think you are thick, apologies if my post seemed to imply this, I have looked at the web site you mentioned and I have come across it before, in truth I do not like it but that does not mean what it publishes is lies. i just think it is very one sided and it has an agenda it does not make itself clear about.

    I am not surprised you use it as I thought you got your information almost entirly from this type of site. This is why I made the suggestions that I did.When I was younger I got most of my information from newspapers etc which re- enforced my political opinions, I stopped doing this because I realised I was only getting half the picture and whilst my politics have not changed that much I realise there are many fine writers and journalists who come from the right politically, but defend our democratic freedoms in a positive manner.

    The lesson I learn’t I suppose is no political group has a monoploy on the truth, thus it is imperative we search out the wheat from the chaff, especially when the latter serves a certain political line.I have found the best way to do this is to talk to ordinary people.

    I will look out for the book you mentioned.

    Regards

    Mick

  • Patty

    Mick: You disagree with me so you assume that I must be ill-informed. Logically, I could be young and ill-informed and my conclusions could still correct. WHy don’t you address the issues and prove that I am wrong using actual facts? Build an argument? Sensibly frame your paradigm? Are you basing your conclusions on emotions, wishful thinking, intuition? I will never know.

    I don’t agree with you. But I do not think I have enough information about you to conclude anything personal about you. The only conclusion that I can make is that you have opinions. And that you think I should do more research.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Patty: “how can you possibly say that Hirsi ALi is an opportunist? An opportunist is one who is seeking a personal advantage, or an extension of their personal influence. What personal gain has Ali made by speaking out? She has death threats, requires body guards, has been kicked out of her apartment, forced to resign her govt. position, had her passport temporarily revoked. SOme opportunity!! ”

    Point of fact, her resignation came as a consequence of her lying on her immigration papers, not on the basis of her stand on Islam.

    As for opportunism, she has made quite the political career our of her positions — even in “disgrace,” over her immigration status, she was offered sanctuary and employ in the United States.

    Patty: “Show me your facts supporting your contention that under the burka, the hajib, the veil, muslim women enjoy anything close to equal rights with men. Show me how you can write the virtual enslavement and abuse of muslim women is an exception and not the rule. ”

    The burka and the hijab are not universal, Patty. Islam is not glass smooth and without variance. There are better and worse places within Dar-al-Islam, depending of the variation of Islam that dominates that area. There is a world of difference between, say, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

    Likewise, mickhall does have a point where you are not fully reading his post and trying to build a straw-man by putting words in his mouth. He may be wrong, he may simply not have the same definitions as you — Islam is a wee bit like Jewish faith, insofar as it straddles religion, culture and politics. If two persons are not using reasonably similar definitions, then communication is impossible.

  • Patty

    Dread:

    you say: “Point of fact, her resignation came as a consequence of her lying on her immigration papers, not on the basis of her stand on Islam.”

    I say: Not true. Her resignation came as a consequence of Verdonk, running for leadership of the party, using Ali’s falsification of her immigration papers as an issue in the election. Ali, as early as 2002, had been open about using a false name but Verdonk claimed never to have heard about this.

    You say: “The burka and the hajib are not universal, Patty. Islam is not glass smooth and without variance. There are better and worse places within Dar-al-Islam, depending of the variation of Islam that dominates that area. There is a world of difference between, say, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.”

    I say: I totally agree.

    Michall says: “You will find that most young women and old who were born into the islamic faith are much like yourself, they worry about the same things and tap their toe to much the same type of music…”

    I say: This is what I am so strongly reacting to. I feel Michall, that by appealing to our common humanity, by appealing to shared emotion and the fact that most people really do just want to be left alone, you are intentionally glossing over a fundamental problem within Islam: women lack basic rights. (symbolized by the hajib, burka etc.)

    My contention is that women lack basic right in islam. I ask you, Dread and Michall, to provide proof – facts – that this is not the case.

    Dread, you say: “Likewise, mickhall does have a point where you are not fully reading his post”

    I say: Agree. I have cheery-picked what I react to, but I really am not trying to build a straw-man or to be manipulative in any way.

    Cheers, Patty

  • mickhall

    “I feel Michall, that by appealing to our common humanity, by appealing to shared emotion and the fact that most people really do just want to be left alone, you are intentionally glossing over a fundamental problem within Islam: women lack basic rights. (symbolized by the hajib, burka etc.)
    posted by patty above.

    Patty,

    What part of the following do you not understand,[full text above]

    “I am an atheist and believe all organized religions oppress people to one degree or another; and as women are doubly oppressed in all the societies which make up the world, then as under Christianity, Hinduism and Judaism, in Islam they will also be more oppressed than the men.’

    I state clearly here that I regard women within islam as being oppressed, although unlike you [it seems] I am not prepared to accuse Islam as being the only religion which oppresses women.

    On the mutilation of a small minority of young muslim girls sexuality etc I wrote the following to Dread,[see above]

    “if it seems I am implying this issue is small potatoes then I have not explained myself properly, as I assure you I do not.”

    Thus how you can claim I am,
    [“glossing over a fundamental problem within Islam: women lack basic rights. (symbolized by the hajib, burka etc.)”] is beyond me.

    However what this does highlight for me is that this has become a one sided conversation, which you all but admit when you say you are cherry picking my posts to this thread before replying to them. If as you claim you are not doing this to build a straw man or be manipulative, why do it then, as such behavior seems extremely manipulative to me. Thus for me our conversation has reached the end of the road.

    I wish you well.

  • Patty

    I don’t cherry-pick to manipulate. I cherry-pick in order to respond in a concise manner to specific items of discussion. Otherwise, I would be writing a book.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Patty: ” don’t cherry-pick to manipulate. I cherry-pick in order to respond in a concise manner to specific items of discussion.”

    So, the fact that it distorts mickhall’s arguements is just a fringe-benefit?

  • Patty

    Dread: No. He is drawing a moral equivalence between Islam’s treatment of women and the treatment of women in the Judeo-Christian traditions. I strongly disagree with this. Neither he nor you really ever address this. He says I need more education. You say I intentionally distort. But neither of you ever address this moral equivalence which I find so wrong.

    I agree to disagree.

  • mickhall

    Patty accused me of drawing a moral equivalence between Islam’s treatment of women and the treatment of women in the Judeo-Christian traditions. I am not quite sure what she means and have no wish to continue my debate with her for reasons I have already given above. However on reading an obituary of Moshe Teitelbaum, Hassidic Jewish religious leader, born November 1 1914; died April 24 2006. the similarity between the practice/traditions of hassidic jews and many muslims struck me.

    Mick

    “Women wear long dresses and head coverings; bearded men with side-locks wear black gabardine and wide-brimmed hats. He created a sense of cohesion based on a shared faith, daily pray, arranged marriages and strict adherence to halakha [religious law]

    Taken from Guardian [print edition. 14.7.6]

  • Pete Baker

    As it happens, mickh et al, I agree that the argument is not, and should not be, applied to all Muslims.. but that’s not the argument being presented.

    It’s why, in the introduction, I referred to the “criticism of the fundamentalist nature of radical Islamism”.

    It is not lumping all Muslims into one category to criticise that fundamentalism.

    It is that radical Islamism, described accurately by John Lloyd as justifying itself by claiming to be “a strict and literal interpretation – of the Qur’an and Islamic law”, that poses the danger both to the wider, and larger, Muslim community and to all ‘others’.

    It is, btw, also mirrored in recent times by a rise in the influence of a similarly literalist interpretation of, notably, the [OT] Bible.

    The way to address that is to follow the advice of Hirsi Ali, as noted by Lloyd, and appeal to Muslims on the basis of their intelligence and reason, not by excusing excesses in whatever quarter on the basis of tolerance.

    One major difficulty in all this is the constant promotion of that radical, and political, Islamism as a mainstream voice of the Muslim community.

    In Ireland, in particular, certain representatives of that militant Islamism have been given far too many platforms, with accompanying media coverage, far too often.

  • mickhall

    Pete,

    With respect Ms Ali’s suggestion endorsed by Lloyd is just plain daft, when was any, and I mean any religion based on intelligence and reason. They are not, they are based on something far more mysterious that such logical things. [this is why billions of otherwise intelligent people believe in what I regard as little more than fairy stories and tall tales]

    In any case how can a non muslim, who understands little about the intricacies of that faith argue against it with any intelligence and reason. Not I, not you, let alone Lloyd, nor I would suggest Ms Ali, for her understanding of islam is light years away from a muslim in the Yemen for example. [this is why I say it is both dangerous and foolish to see muslims as a common slab of humanity.] Just as Paisley understand little of the reasons why catholic people love their faith, much the same could be said of many Catholics about Dr Paisley and his own faith.

    Now there is a clue in this last paragraph as to why it is useless to come at believers with intelligence and reason alone and it is because what they have may be called a religion, but in reality it is a faith and a pretty blind one at that.

    I am especially contemptuous of Lloyd as I am certain he is well aware that for true believers of islam the Qur’an is a strict and literal interpretation of the word of god. Thus whilst he refuses to say so what he is doing is condemning all muslims due to the religion they practice. Which is total cowardice on his part as I am certain despite millions of christians thinking much the same about the bible he would never say something similar about them nor about GW Bush who has said he sees the bible as the word of god.

    Ask your self why now do people like Lloyd condemn islam, nothing has changed, indeed if anything the muslim world is more open today than it has been since the fall of the turkish empire. Muslim women have been oppressed for centuries like most women to some degree. Yet it was not until bin Laden organized a murderous attack on the USA and the Bush administration decided to blanket all muslims as enemies of freedom that Lloyd started squawking about islam.

    Read Ali’s language again, do you really think she is foolish enough to believe such words would change the minds of a single muslim, of course not. She was opportunistically aiming her words at gullible westerners who were on the look out for a moderate muslim, in truth just as you are now Pete. How long do you give it before she works for some right wing think tank in Washington and becomes a born again Christian.

    Like it or not we have to deal with the world as it is and with the people as they are. Western Governments have treated millions of muslims in the most appalling manner, the muslim street tried secular politics and ended up with corrupt kings and satraps or lefties who sold them out. Why should we be surprised that they have turned to islam politically, the situation millions of muslims find themselves in is not very rosy, Palestine, iraq and the rest of the middle east etc.

    They realize that change for the better is some way off. So like the Irish before them they understand/believe the only option open to them bar emigration is to endure, to suffer and hope god wills them better days. In the mean time they will place their trust in the most honest politicians amongst them, today 9 out of 10 times this happens to be those who are both political and muslim.

    I am not contemptuous of this as we also have a history of doing the same, especially during the black days of the Hitlerite regime. I admire their stoicism, fortitude and yes heroism and if secular political activists cannot bring an end to their suffering, nor be willing to stand in the same trench as them, I just hope their god [peace be upon him] wills it for them.

  • Pete Baker

    At this point in your monologue, Mickh, you have just acknowledged why there is no longer any point in debating this with you – just as you refused to discuss it any further with Patti.

    I am especially contemptuous of Lloyd as I am certain he is well aware that for true believers of islam the Qur’an is a strict and literal interpretation of the word of god.

    Once you have already embraced, as you have done, that for true believers of islam the Qur’an is a strict and literal interpretation of the word of god, a mirror, as I pointed out, of a literal interpretation of the OT Bible, then there is no point in discussing this particular issue any further – your face is already set.

    You have, in effect, already accepted the definition of Islam as expounded by Choudary and his ilk.. and ignored those you claimed to be concerned about – the vast majority of Muslims who do not accept that narrow and politically militant definition of Islamism.

  • mickhall

    Unless I am misinterpreting you, I feel what you are doing is totally combining politics and region in muslim lands without taking into account the complexities involved. I totally agree with your statement that the vast majority of Muslims do not accept that narrow and politically militant definition of Islamism, if by this you mean the politics of bin Laden and other members of the whahabbi sect. As I am sure you are aware, what is today called political islam or radical/extremist islam is nothing new and those who practice it come from right across the political spectrum, many of them are far from radical and not that extreme, whilst others are psychotic murdering scum-bags.

    For example Hizbullha has little in common with bin Laden beyond both organizations, Al Qaeda and Hizbullha being priority target of the USA. Equally the gulf between Hizbullha and Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party[AKP] in Turkey is massive. The point I am making is if the West intends to get on top of extremist islamic political organizations, which in many cases the CIA acted as mid-wife for, they need to come at the problem in a political manner, not in a theological way as some people seem to be suggesting.

    What has happened when the West [USA/UK] has attempted to do the latter and challenged some of the fundamental core beliefs of muslims, is that muslims quite understandably, seeing their religion under attack have ring fenced their religion and in the process some of them have been pushed into the orbit of the blood stained but welcoming arms of Bin Laden and his ilk.

    History is littered with example of people ring fencing their religion if they believe it to be under attack from without. Whereas if the West had dealt with this as they would any other political problem in all probability in many ways it would have been pushing against a half open door. For as you yourself wrote, “the vast majority of Muslims [who] do not accept that narrow and politically militant definition of Islamism”.

    Sorry for the ‘monolog’ once again but I am not a good enough writer to condense my thought down to a single sentence.

    regards.

  • Dread Cthulhu
  • mickhall

    Dread Cthulhu

    Thanks for this, tragic but it is not all negative, the point I was trying to make in an earlier post was this dreadful crime is often due to culture traditions rather than islam alone, as the article makes clear when it mentions the massive population shift amongst the Kurds who live in Eastern Turkey, moving from their traditional way of life in the mountains to the countries main urban areas. with all the confusion, pressures and temptations this has involved.

    The positive point here is that the Turkish government which is itself moderate political Islam, has introduced new laws to combat such crimes; [life sentence as with any other murder] and more to the point by attempting to make the local police enforce these new laws. Plus Turkish civil society is setting up organizations to give support to these desperate women and young girls.

    The victims themselves who resist the will of their families also seem to be playing a very positive role amongst their peer group by the example they set by admitting what is going on within their family and turning outward to society for help.

    There is another positive here and it is the EU, I cannot stress enough the positive effect the EU has had on bringing about change within Turkey, I do not exaggerate when I say the western half of Turkey has been transformed in the last 16 years, the east is still very backward both due to its geographical location and the war with the PKK during the 1990s which made much of it a no go area.

    That gradual change by peaceful means is possibly in a country where islam is the main religion should be a lesson to us all. what we need is more jaw jaw and less war war.

    On a broader point Bob Fisk in his book ‘The Great War For Civilization, The Conquest of the Middle-East writes that when the Talaban took power in Afghanistan, being mainly young men with little experience of the wider world, they created throughout the state they governed a mirror image of the backward, squalid, murderous and pitiful refugee camps just over the Pakistani border were they had spent most of there young lives. Instead of giving or selling them modern weapons, which incidentally they seem to have no problem with accepting, modernity or not, perhaps the US and EU would be better offering the brightest among the scholarships etc.

    All the best

  • Kathy_C

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi all,
    Demonization is allowed to florish due to a word….sectarianism.

    There is a man lying in critical condition on a hospital bed
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/5186604.stm

    he is there because who and what he is… The man beaten is a Catholic and those who beat him are protestant loyalist(brits).

    Now to see how this man and his community have been demonized…in the press reports there is very little coverage stating Catholic beaten by protestants….or Irish beaten by british. No…the press hides behind a word….sectarianism….that way they don’t have to give the details over and over so people will know WHO actually got beat up….it is glossed over by a word…sectarianism…. rather than he is near death and got beaten up for no other reason than he is a Catholic and those who beat him up don’t like Catholics…..no…it is reported he is there because of sectarianism.

    Why am I bringing up this attack in this thread about dehumaniseing large tracts of fellow human beings? Well, because enshrined in british law is the dehumanising status of Catholics… These loyalist british thugs who nearly beat to death a Catholic man…did it because they don’t see the Catholic as an equal human being…. If you are a loyalist…you are loyal to the british monarch and this monarch by law can not be a member of the Catholic faith…the same faith of the man they beat up…This law is evil…this law makes it justifiable in the minds of twisted loyalist to kill Catholics…. Get rid of the law…and it will make Catholics equal in britain….that a Catholic can be queen…a Catholic can be king…and the loyalist…if they are true loyalist…will be loyal to the monarch no matter what religion he/she has.