Atheism and Islamophobia


There is a problem with Islam.

Islam as a whole is very very bad at taking criticism. There is a fairly sizeable and vocal opposition to dialogue and discourse. It is outside the west a terrible faith of oppressive ideas particularly towards women. In Islamic countries one regularly sees a creeping installation of fundamentalists as the role models of “Islam” resulting in totalitarian regimes and barbarous rules.

Let’s take Bangladesh for instance. A creeping islamicisation of society has resulted in open attacks on atheists resulting in deaths. And rather than be shocked at this, the government wishes to jail atheists to appease the fundamentalists. The message provided is one of appeasement.

In any theocracy, the fundamentalist is king. The man who sticks the most to the Koran is the most religious and therefore the most likely person to lead. Never mind the fact that you need other things to run a country.

However Atheism has it’s problems with the critique of Islam. 

Let’s take into account Sam Harris.

“The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists.”

That’s not a good thing to hear.

Let’s take into account another famous atheist.

Pat Condell’s anti-islamic spiel has verged on anti-muslim and he has repeatedly stated right wing/neo-nazi talking points particularly against multiculturalism.

Now here in lies the problem.

There is a notion that Islam is harmless. It’s in fact probably more harmful currently than Christianity is. But remember LOCALITY LOCALITY LOCALITY. Hinduism is a bigger problem in India than Islam and Christianity. Because of the Hindu majority. It’s the same argument between the Nation of Islam and the Tea Party. The Tea Party may believe in less dangerous things than the Nation of Islam but their size makes them more more likely to be taken seriously.

However in areas where Islam has been shown to be dominant, there is a major problem with fundamentalism and the usage of Islam as a tool to oppress through violence and fear. Now here is the thing.

We can and should learn to differentiate between Islam and Muslims. Let us not forget that Islam mainly oppresses Muslims.

See, our issue is that the anti-Islam arguments that we currently have are so interlaced with right wing and neo-nazi demagoguery that we cannot differentiate the two things. It actually harms ex-Muslim atheists because neo-nazis hate them equally and what comes out of the mouths of atheists looks like the same stuff.

And it’s actually kind of hard since there is sadly a modicum of truth. Islamic terrorism is widely seen and it’s scale and organisation is on a much more global reach than any other group. The LTTE may have had suicide bombers but they weren’t running a campaign of assassinations outside Sri Lanka. The Hindus may have gone crazy and killed thousands of muslims (and vice versa) in Inter-religious warfare but they again stuck to India. Such religious violence is seen as exclusive to specific areas.

With Islam though? The USA, UK, Europe, India have all seen the scourge of Islamic terrorism. The scale and goal of such terror is a lot more widespread and more alien and nebulous than that of other groups. The LTTE like the IRA fight for a homeland. The Islamic fundamentalists often believe in a variety of conspiracy theories and rhetoric that makes it hard to argue and debate.

First let’s deal with Islamophobia.

Islamophobia is the unnecessary and pointless criticism of Islam. So to say “Islam plans to fuck us out of Europe, just look at the number of children being born to them!” is Islamophobia.

Saying Islam treats women badly using the Burkha and Hijab and the control of society to disempower women and to strip them of any power and agency that they may have is not Islamophobic. It is the truth. We can look at the treatment of women in Islamic communities across the globe and even in such enlightened nations such as the UK and repeatedly come to the conclusion that Islam fucking sucks at treating women as human beings. And it gets worse. The major problem is that the very seat of Islam is in the hands of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A place of phenomenal wealth from oil and whose whose government in order to maintain power appeased wahabbists creating a society of lavish excess if you are a man and a caged existence if you are a woman. And woe betide anyone being accused of breaking a law. To call the KSA’s sharia law barbaric and stupid wouldn’t be wrong.

There is a massive elephant in the room and that elephant is that the moderate and liberal muslims have no onus and no voice to stand up and simply cut out the cancer that is fundamentalist Islam. When they do we repeatedly ignore them or simply don’t care.

When we say that there are “Some” Muslim individuals doing heinous things we forget that there is a scale of culture which forces muslims to not speak out against those who do heinous things lest they raise their ire. To not support these oxygen thieves is to not be a good Muslim. So while there are local drives to certain behaviours (Eg. Palestine’s support for it’s fundies is due to it’s fundies being the only ones to stand up for Palestinians. That if we actually gave Palestinians what they wanted and indeed deserved they wouldn’t have done any of these things. Instead our idiocy created a situation that is frankly untenable)

The problem is what portion of Islamic society has to be sufficiently fucked up before you declare it a problem? The boat is sinking, the rats have fled. If you honestly think Islamic society isn’t simply collapsing into a barbarous dark age then you are blind. We have seen the rot at the heart of Islam in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Egypt, Syria… All these are just different symptoms of the same problem. Pakistan and Bangladesh. Even Indonesia and Turkey, two nations considered to be moderates when it comes to Islam have shown reverses in stances and even India whose large muslim population has generally been law abiding has started demonstrating things such as honour killing.

Let’s get this straight. I started on this topic after reading the Guardian’s article on Sam Harris and I have to disagree with one bit.

While the only nuclear weapons to have ever been used were by the mainly Christian USA, one has to remember that the Nuclear Weapon probably saved more lives. Let’s put this into perspective. The Empire of the RIsing Sun waged a horrific war. In many cases still fighting to the death. Across the entire pacific the Japanese mainly fought to the death with very few POWs being captured. Often wounded soldiers would booby trap themselves to kill allied soldiers. Let’s just say this made it a better prospect to shoot POWs out of hand. The captured POW camps from the Japanese didn’t really help the allied attitude towards surrendered POWs either.

To anyone in that war, the war would only end with the destruction of Japan’s entire infrastructure. Even forced back and starved, the Japanese army was still talking trash like Kim Jong Un after a few pints. The choices were to Invade Japan and suffer tens of thousands to even hundreds of thousands of casualties vs. a population of people who were near suicidal in their drive to kill and now defend their homeland and indeed “god” while inflicting millions of casualties.

Or demonstrate that we didn’t have to Invade them. That we had a weapon so terrifying that nothing could stand before it. While in hindsight we had let the genie out of the bottle, at the time when everyone was just so very tired of killing we wanted a quick way out.

The nuclear weapons gave us that. To say Islamic nations haven’t used nuclear weapons is to be extremely daft about it. Pakistan has nuclear weapons and hasn’t used them mainly because India has them and in an exchange of nukes the country with the most people is likely to win. There is however no question about it.

If the jihadis of Pakistan had their way they would have used a nuclear weapon. The only thing that kept the warmongers in check was sheer luck. Should Pakistan collapse, one hopes that the people who take them don’t use them. But considering the abject lack of self preservation and willingness to oppress their own, the average Jihadi with access to them would use them in a heart beat to strike in the name of their god. They don’t know why they shouldn’t use them. They do not care about the lives they waste.

They are a death cult and Islam’s fetishisation of martyrdom means the Jihadi has absolutely no qualms about sacrificing the lives of others because to him those lives mean nothing on this planet. The Jihadi preys on the desperate and the ignorant. It’s no wonder that the Taliban destroy schools because education erodes fanaticism.

And the problem with Islam as a canonical faith is that Islam cannot exist side by with any education that threatens it’s reality. Islam today is the same as the Roman Catholic church during the era of Galileo. And this pushes the fundies to the fore. And muslims pay that price daily. It’s a vicious cycle. Just look at Bangladesh. Many moderate Muslims agree with the Fundamentalists because to not want a Islamic State is to place yourself on the side of the Atheists and that’s just asking to be stabbed or beheaded or worse.

To be a bad muslim. Don’t wear a Burkha? You Bad Muslim. Learn evolution? Bad Muslim. Eventually you end up with things like the entire identity of being “A Muslim” synonymous from being “A Jihadi” and that’s synonymous with being a wanker.

Not all New Atheists are Sam Harris. We aren’t an organisation, we don’t all believe the same things. If I told my “followers” to “kill all the Dutch” they would tell me to “Go fuck myself”. And while some of us have fanatical followers, the vast majority of us lack a virulent fan base.

And yes against the Islamicists we are fighting a unequal war.

Sam Harris and indeed Christopher Hitchens are not sacred cows (SEE HINDU REFERENCE!) to be given free reign. They can and will be criticised. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. And while we may have begun our war on “Islamic Terror” on that note, we have forgotten that what that entails is toeing “the line“. The War on Terror changed us by forcing us to do ever more morally questionable things in pursuit of a goal. A goal that we believed in because we were struck at the heart of what we believed in. Our fundies and politicians and our greedy took advantage of our fears and our desire to be heroes and we slowly become the things we feared the most. Monsters in our own rights. While we wept over the deaths of those we killed we always justified it with “It’s the price that needs to be payed for their freedom”. We saw ourselves initially as heroes. To fight a war like our grandfathers and to change the world for the better. Osama Bin Laden had no power yet he existed because what we couldn’t accept that what we had done in Iraq was for nothing. We needed someone to blame so we created the visage of a terrifying mastermind pulling the strings behind various attacks. Half Lex Luthor, Half Ming The Merciless? In the end he died. All coward and allegedly surrounded by the pornography his followers claimed to despise, cowering behind an innocent woman who died for him. A pointless man. Yes, I think we could have done real good in Afghanistan if not for our desire to be heroes, short attention span and our frankly moronic choice of allies.

Sam Harris believes in some daft things. He stood for torture because of the above reason. He stood for Israel because he cannot conceive a world where Palestine doesn’t commit acts of terrorism because he cannot understand that Palestinian terrorism is driven by the fact that they have no other options. The very existence of Richard Reid (the Shoe bomber and arguably the most successful terrorist ever considering he killed zero people yet managed to increase the total cost of flying by a sizeable amount thanks to extra security checks) shows that traditional profiling does not work. He even spoke out against the so called “Ground Zero Mosque” which was more like “Somewhere near Ground Zero and a Community Centre”.

Liberals may not be “Soft on terrorism” but a lot of people have said some frankly idiotic things that support some of the worst practices of Islam. My particular favourite is “Hijab Day” where a few western feminists spoke out in favour of the Hijab forgetting that they wear it out of fashion choice while the average muslim woman wears it because of a cultural and religious oppression of women.

And while people think Dawkins and indeed Hitchens spend all their time worrying about condemning the actions of distant people, one only has to read their writing to realise that they are most virulent against Christianity due to it’s immediate local effects. In fact there is a massive out cry amongst western ex-Muslim atheists about a LACK of direction with regards to the problems and evils of Islam. The few representatives they have had to claw their way through the ranks and they are often still ignored.

To claim that we shouldn’t take on and mock Islam and the actions of the Muslims who do believe in it is daft. It’s not racist to point out that Islam is bat shit crazy and has fostered an environment that creates fundamentalists and that it is our job as atheists to try and help those atheists from those cultures fight against the progressive dark age we find modern Islam in.

Let us once again go back to Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a beast of our creation. In our war against the Soviets, we created the Mujahadeen and maintained the tribalism which eventually fragmented into the Taliban that we know today. It became one of the primary exporters of terrorism across the planet. From Indian to Russia to the USA and the UK to Africa, the mark of the Jihadi’s camps from Afghanistan is well known. India’s been harping on about it for nearly 20 fucking years and indeed pointing out Pakistan’s complicit nature in it.

What would you do? Development will not occur with the Taliban at the heart of it. You will have no overthrow of a rule of theocrats who do not care if you live or die. To bring improvements the Taliban must be destroyed. The attacks on Malala, MSF and the Red Cross have made it crystal clear that no improvements can occur without the destruction of the Pashtun culture of vendetta and of the Taliban.

The argument about Islamophobia is because it’s often used to bludgeon genuine criticism of Islam into the ground and to force genuine arguments against Islam to falter unless the arguer is willing to be lumped in with the BNP or Ann Coulter. People like Maryam Namazie and Taslima Nasrin have been called Islamophobes because they spoke out against violence against women. Any attack on Islam no matter how valid has been regarded as Islamophobic.

While there are bigger threats than Islam, there is no bigger threat to Muslims across the world than Islam. Let’s look at different things for example. Indonesia with it’s secular islamic society has seen radicalisation with many Sharia courts slowly forcing all women to wear the Hijab. Bangladesh has spoken out against Atheists rather than the fundamentalists and is sliding towards a society with less free speech. India’s Muslims while relatively moderate have shown an ugly side during the whole Vishwaroopam debacle (because portraying Jihadis as wankers is insulting to Islam? I am more miffed in their portrayal of Oncologists!), Pakistan’s pretty much a civil warzone with daily attacks from fundamentalists. Iran’s “iran”. And the Middle East ranges from places like the UAE where the relative moderate society belies deeper issues such as the racism and the near enslavement of poor people from South Asia/South East Asia to places such as Iraq where Inter-Faith violence abounds to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Yemen whose governments make them terrible places to live in. Egypt is going down that route and Saudi Arabia too. A lot of the Northern Coast of Africa while moderate can go down that route and even Turkey has seen some changes from it’s purely secular stance. Somalia’s rise of Islamicism has made it a “Second Afghanistan” with it’s export of terror in Africa. And this is without the spectres of the mistreatment of women, honour killing, disenfranchisement of women and female genital mutilation that are hard to fight due to these issues being so entrenched in Islam.

Just look at Nigeria? Where the efforts of healthcare workers have fallen flat at eradicating Polio due to the influence of Islam.

To claim this is some magically small percentage of Muslims is just daft as fuck. 9% according to the Guardian Article. I fear that the number of supporters is far higher. The problem being that many Muslims either don’t realise they are supporting the activities of such people or do so out of a misguided sense of duty.

Or indeed the price of sponsoring and protecting what lurks in their midst.

Comments

  1. sundoga says

    In answer to you, Rutee Katreya:

    My comment on the Ashigaru was not actually an argument; it was an illustrative example meant to show how the cultural and social progression of Japan created dramatic change and alteration. However, I find your response quite telling – as it perfectly illustrates your lack of understanding of Japanese history. In the warring states period, Ashigaru were quite a different thing from your basic peasent levy – while they were indeed conscripts, they were well trained, reasonably equipped, and respected soldiers, widely considered the lowest rank of the Bushi, the warrior caste. True peasent levies were also used, but they were of much less value – often used as line-of-communication troops or simply cannon fodder. In the later Tokugawa Shogunate period, with open warfare much less common and an overabundance of Samurai, standing forces of Ashigaru ceased to be useful, and the term came to be used for the despised peasent levies, which were only drawn forward in time of war – and they were by no means considered Bushi.
    As to “propaganda masters”, I am honestly failing to see your problem with the term. I made no claim that such were any better (or worse) in Japan than they were anywhere else; I have no good reason to believe they were. Any assumptions on that score come entirely from you, not my argument.
    What I will say, and with some authority, is that they had strong and fertile ground in which to plant their seeds. Despite your apprent inability to grant that a different people might have differing or even opposing beliefs to yourself and your assumptions, the group psychology of the Japanese people of the 1940s was, yes, truly, different from that of the european and european-derived powers. Part of this was religious, and in that, two aspects: first, that Shinto (then, as now, the majority religion of Japan) venerates ones’ ancestors and their works – and this lead, naturally, to a certain veneration for the trappings of Bushido and the Samurai, as symbols for a (largely mythic) past (reinforced by that notoriously inaccurate emotion, nostalgia). Second, was another object of veneration – the Emperor, not merely a human ruler but indeed, a living god, direct descendent of the goddess Amaterasu, ruler of Japan by divine fiat.
    I think even you can see what a gift that was to the Japanese government. Don’t think of the German troops on the Atlantic Wall – think Masada on a grand scale.
    “You collosally racist fuckwit. It’s not about what the subjects are ‘allowed’ to do. If you’re going to insist that the new bushido turned the Japanese people into an embodiment of all that is japanese, erasing their fear of death and replacing it with only a fear of shame (Which it didn’t, because Japanese people are human), then one would expect this of the top brass as well.”
    Why? Honestly, why? The top brass isn’t the group targetted by the propaganda, they’re not he ones exposed to it day in and out, and they’re the ones DIRECTING it! Plus, please do recall that they wanted a negotiated peace from day one – just, on their terms. The suicidal defence of the home islands was their emergency fall back plan. And if you know ANYTHING about history, you’ll know that governments have, over and over, required of their people acts and feats they were not in any way willing to conduct themselves. No, your argument is either facetious or ludicrous.
    And who, other than YOU, said anything about it “erasing their fear of death and replacing it with only a fear of shame”? Fear is a normal human reaction, and as you note these people were as human as anyone else. I imagine that had they been called upon, they would have been terrrified, I know I would. What the propaganda, combined with their own social and cultural biases, and the training they received weekly for months, would have enabled them to do, was fight. They would have fought. This is not even in the realm of doubt – we know from the words of the people who were there, the diaries, the books written both during and after these events, the interviews conducted by the occupation militaries, by filmamakers and documenters. They would have fought. And they would have died. In their millions.
    Now tell me, which of us is the racist? I, for believing a people stalwart and brave, willing to die for a cause they deem righteous? Or you, who would deny them that?

    Onwards: ‘“We’ll stop fighting, you win” is a surrender when it was done by white people.’ Actually it is when it’s done by anyone. And that wasn’t even close to what the Japanese government was offering, so it’s pretty irrelevant.

    “You mean because they were racist fucks who had political agendas and no concern for the welfare of non-white people? Welcome to my fuckin’ argument. Why are you fucking defending racist fucks who had no concern with the welfare of non-white people, anyway?”

    I’m not. I’m defending the decision made to drop Atomic Bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Because, both with the knowledge held at the time, and with the benefit of hindsight, it was the correct decision to make.

    Yes, the US was a horribly racist country in 1945. So was Japan, as a point of fact. But neither of those facts change the basic points that 1)the US could not have, in World War Two, accepted less than complete surrender of it’s enemies – that’s enemies, plural, by the way. Not just Japan, but also Italy, German, Romania, Vichy France,,,oh, but that puts something of crimp on your idea that it was all racism, doesn’t it? Too fucking bad.
    and 2) Japan, for it’s own reasons, couldn’t do that.
    Which brings us back to Invade, Blockade, or Bomb. Millions dead, millions dead, or thousands dead. Make your choice.

  2. says

    However, I find your response quite telling – as it perfectly illustrates your lack of understanding of Japanese history.

    Military history nerds are, by a wide margin, both the most obnoxious, and the dumbest, of all history nerds. There’s a reason the rest of us make fun of you to your faces – pretending that exact specifics of unit organization is actually relevant history, as opposed to trivia outside of the fields of military history and military logistics, is funny. And you got it wrong anyway, because the clans varied, and pretending that they had a unified military organization is a very strange proposition given the nature of the warring states era. The thing I mentioned as actually salient – that warring states era warlords did actually understand the meaning of the concepts of ‘surrender’ and ‘retreat’, despite insistence on how samurai culture was responsible for ridiculousness- actually was a universal.

    As to “propaganda masters”, I am honestly failing to see your problem with the term.

    The part where you pretend they managed a unique success.

    Why? Honestly, why?

    Are you seriously contending that feelings of national superiority and invincibility are for the peons, not everyone?

    , that Shinto (then, as now, the majority religion of Japan) venerates ones’ ancestors and their works – and this lead, naturally, to a certain veneration for the trappings of Bushido and the Samurai, as symbols for a (largely mythic) past (reinforced by that notoriously inaccurate emotion, nostalgia). Second, was another object of veneration – the Emperor, not merely a human ruler but indeed, a living god, direct descendent of the goddess Amaterasu, ruler of Japan by divine fiat.

    I’m not saying the Japanese were like every other country on the planet – only the jingoistic superpowers engaging in attempts at military dominion. Good jorb understanding points levelled against you, and attempting to call that ‘assumption’ (As opposed to the simple facts of the case). And it’s not like most of those other jingoistic superpowers didn’t have their own ‘fertile grounds’ (Such as anger at the overly harsh strictures against the german people compounded by years of intense suffering) for propaganda. And you know, relative to their actual goals, I’d say they succeeded, it’s this idea that they brainwashed the Japanese people into being perfectly self-sacrificing that rings false.

    And who, other than YOU, said anything about it “erasing their fear of death and replacing it with only a fear of shame”?

    You, Avicenna, and basically everyone protecting the USA’s party line, you just try to make it sound less ridiculous and wrap it in decades of propaganda.

    Onwards: ‘“We’ll stop fighting, you win” is a surrender when it was done by white people.’ Actually it is when it’s done by anyone. And that wasn’t even close to what the Japanese government was offering, so it’s pretty irrelevant.

    I really wish you people swallowing racist propaganda would get your stories straight. You seem to be disagreeing with yoruself earlier now, since you said they offered an ‘unacceptable’ peace term that washington never actually bothered trying to treat as a negotiation for peace, preferring instead to nuke.

    Now tell me, which of us is the racist?

    Both of us, as we’re both humans in deeply racist cultures, but the evidence suggests you’re far moreso.

    I, for believing a people stalwart and brave, willing to die for a cause they deem righteous? Or you, who would deny them that?

    Evidence like this. The Japanese people were not supermen who were teh supar brave. They had a jingoistic, imperialist culture at the time, yes, but were being crushed. Popular institutions burned, people starved and died. Even if they retained faith that Japan was in the right at the time, it is difficult to insist victory is possible when the only reason they’re not shelling you is that firebombs are doing such a better job.

    Also, spoiler alert: anti-racists aren’t exactly imperceptive. IT’s very clear this is an attempt to positively spin some variant of ‘brainwashed fanatic’.

    This is not even in the realm of doubt – we know from the words of the people who were there, the diaries, the books written both during and after these events,

    I’m sure you could find a lot of contemporary Meriken who’d back ya up on this, but the actual contemporary Japanese people disagreed rather vociferously. And you know, Meriken were, and are, racist fucks with a ridiculously propagandized view of their opponents.

    I’m not. I’m defending the decision made to drop Atomic Bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Because, both with the knowledge held at the time, and with the benefit of hindsight, it was the correct decision to make.

    If you live in a magical fairy tale world wherein japanese people are supermen who will all fight to the death, I suppose that’s true, but in the real world, where they’re normal people, you’re just deluding yourself.

    es, the US was a horribly racist country in 1945. So was Japan, as a point of fact.

    Oh, both sides-ism, how good for you. No one outside of ultranationalist fucks pretends Japan had a right to mass-murder based on its racism. As none of those ultranationalist fucks is in the conversation defending the right of Imperial Japan to go to war, I focus on the racism actually being protected here – that of Meriken.

    1)the US could not have, in World War Two, accepted less than complete surrender of it’s enemies

    The USA didn’t accept the surrender of Vichy France at all – The Free French were the invaders, and accepted the surrender terms, what with being the government-in-exile. The USSR is the one who accepted Nazi Germany’s terms (And Germany actually didn’t try to go to the table, ever, because Hitler and his inner circle was insane). Hungary and Italy had terms, as did most other axis powers that were occupied. You are seriously just throwing bullshit at the wall and seeing if it sticks. Even if you WERE correct, (and this idea that the USA only understood unconditional surrender is obviously wrong – they accepted the conditional surrender of Japan) , that wouldn’t actually make them JUSTIFIED, it would only mean the united states is even more evil a group of warmongers than is generally told.

    2) Japan, for it’s own reasons, couldn’t do that.

    But it did offer the kind of surrenders the USA actually was in the business of taking, which leaves us with…

    @Raging Bee:
    It is seriously fucked up that you think the duty to negotiate goes away forever because a military facility was attacked.

  3. sundoga says

    In reply:

    “Military history nerds are, by a wide margin, both the most obnoxious, and the dumbest, of all history nerds. There’s a reason the rest of us make fun of you to your faces – pretending that exact specifics of unit organization is actually relevant history, as opposed to trivia outside of the fields of military history and military logistics, is funny. And you got it wrong anyway, because the clans varied, and pretending that they had a unified military organization is a very strange proposition given the nature of the warring states era. The thing I mentioned as actually salient – that warring states era warlords did actually understand the meaning of the concepts of ‘surrender’ and ‘retreat’, despite insistence on how samurai culture was responsible for ridiculousness- actually was a universal.”

    Wel, pardon me for considering such things as accuracy and precision to be important. Not to mention that your previous postings showed a woeful ignorance of the entire subject.
    As it happens, I am indeed a “history nerd”. Has something to do with my Bachelor of history. (And before you go all crowy, my specialty is modern history, not military or Japanese history – I’m just interested in Japanese history, and have done some research into the area. Which is why I know how full of shit you are, and how many assumptions you make, probably without even realising it.

    No, the various clans did not have a unified military structure. But interestingly, the “military history nerd”, unlike your oh-so-enlightened self, can see that, just as the various armies of Europe in any single period have fundamentally similar structures, so did the clan forces in the warring states period. Undoubtedly there were outliers – there always are – but they don’t matter given the point I was making, or that this entire discussion is peripheral to the main argument.

    “The part where you pretend they managed a unique success.”

    You know you might actually learn something if you actually read what I say, rather than what you THINK I say. Unique? Fuck that. There are examples of populations going far more fanatical than the Japanese throughout history. Generally, as in this case, religion is a factor, though rarely the only factor – social and political effects are equally important. Why did this occur in Japan and not in say, Germany? Because certain requisite cultural and other factors, reinforcing each other, came into play. Factors not present, or differently present, in other nations. Given the same pressures and sociological factors, any other people could have been equally as affected, but that particular sociological matrix isn’t all that common. Hardly unique, though.

    “Are you seriously contending that feelings of national superiority and invincibility are for the peons, not everyone?”

    Of course not. In fact, it may have been worse! “Victory Fever” caused the Japanese government to overextend itself very badly in the Pacific – the attempt to take Midway Island was honestly unnecessary, and the invasion of New Guinea unwise.
    What I AM saying is that the directed impulse of the populace, aimed towards the possibility of their use for defense of the Home Islands, was not the same as the drive of their leadership. Do you think the ministers in charge of the running of the nation had to go to home guard training once a week? Not on your life. So, naturally they would have a different point of view. One that could well have incorporated a political ending to the war.

    “I really wish you people swallowing racist propaganda would get your stories straight. You seem to be disagreeing with yoruself earlier now, since you said they offered an ‘unacceptable’ peace term that washington never actually bothered trying to treat as a negotiation for peace, preferring instead to nuke.”

    No, what I said was that the USA was not politically capable of accepting anything short of unconditional surrender. Which it wasn’t.

    However YOU then said that Japan offered to surrender. The problem being that, in fact, they didn’t. They offered negotiation, which is very far from surrender.

    “The Japanese people were not supermen who were teh supar brave.”

    Never claimed any such thing. Spent about a paragraph explaining the difference in my previous post. Fuck you if you’re just going to lie about what I said.

    “They had a jingoistic, imperialist culture at the time, yes, but were being crushed. Popular institutions burned, people starved and died. Even if they retained faith that Japan was in the right at the time, it is difficult to insist victory is possible when the only reason they’re not shelling you is that firebombs are doing such a better job.”

    Yup. I think I was the one who brought up the firebombing of Tokyo, actually.
    Just one problem. You could say EXACTLY the same thing about London in the blitz. Or Germany in 1943-44. And you know something? They didn’t give up either. They kept on fighting.
    A simple fact: With the technology that existed in the early to mid 1940s, it was NOT possible to defeat an enemy nation from the air. You could bombard, destroy dams and rail and infrastructure… and they’d just rebuild. With a good spin on it, you could even make it a point of pride, use the bombardment to keep the poplulace’s morale at livable levels. Both the British and the Germans did this. I can’t honestly say the Japanese did, I don’t know, but it would surprise me if they did not.
    Plus, you don’t need to give people hope of victory to make them fight. All you need to do is convince them that they are standing between what they love – home, family, nation, whatever it is the individual values – and destruction. And that’s true of any people, anywhere.

    “If you live in a magical fairy tale world wherein japanese people are supermen who will all fight to the death, I suppose that’s true, but in the real world, where they’re normal people, you’re just deluding yourself.”

    Yeah, just keep pounding away at that strawman. Never said it, never claimed it.

    “I focus on the racism actually being protected here – that of Meriken.”

    And here we et to the reality of things. And why you aren’t willing to accept, or even think about, the facts that have been presented to you – because you’re an anti-American bigot.

    As you go on to show.

    “The USA didn’t accept the surrender of Vichy France at all – The Free French were the invaders, and accepted the surrender terms, what with being the government-in-exile.”

    And the Free French were allies of the United States. So, they surrendered to an ally rather than the US itself. I fail to see the difference.

    “The USSR is the one who accepted Nazi Germany’s terms (And Germany actually didn’t try to go to the table, ever, because Hitler and his inner circle was insane).”

    And the USSR was an ally of the USA. As above.

    “Hungary and Italy had terms, as did most other axis powers that were occupied.”

    No, that is untrue. Both Italy and Hungary surrendered unconditionally to allied forces without terms. Romania avoided this only by switching sides at the last minute – but was still occupied by the Soviets and effectively conquered.

    “Even if you WERE correct, (and this idea that the USA only understood unconditional surrender is obviously wrong – they accepted the conditional surrender of Japan)”

    And that is an outright lie. Japan surrendered without condition or term. It was only by the goodwill of these Americans you hate so much that His Imperial Highness the Showa Emperor was permitted to retain his throne, even as a figurehead.

    ” that wouldn’t actually make them JUSTIFIED, it would only mean the united states is even more evil a group of warmongers than is generally told. ”

    Ah, yes, evil warmongers. You know, there are a lot of wars the US probably deserves that title for. There are some wars where it’s far beyond any doubt. But I think it takes a special kind of thoughtless bigotry to apply it to a case where the US was the attacked party, spent it’s troops on a long, brutal campaign to liberate others from not one but two differing sets of brutal invaders, allied with a diverse and unlikely set of compatriot nations, with a final result of fully discrediting even the concepts behind the nations they opposed.
    I explained why the US was politically unable to accept a negotiated peace in my first post. I’d say you should read it and learn something, but I doubt your capacity.

    “But it did offer the kind of surrenders the USA actually was in the business of taking”

    Yes. After being nuked twice, which is still the single most valid and merciful end the US could have put to that war.

  4. says

    Let’s take into account Sam Harris.

    “The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists.”

    That’s not a good thing to hear.

    Yeah, it’s not a good thing to hear. More importantly, it’s not a good thing to quote because it’s ripped completely out of context.

    Creationists have this tactic of “quote mining” legitimate scientists so as to make them seem to be saying things that they’re not saying at all. That’s the same thing that you’re doing by repeating this quotation from Sam Harris.

    You haven’t read the quotation in the original, have you. That’s a statement, not a question. If you’d read it, you’d know that quoting that sentence in isolation completely misrepresents the point that Harris was making.

    If you hope to have any credibility at all, you need to do a little more research. In this case, it doesn’t appear that you did any research at all. Did you make even a little bit of effort to discover the context of the quote? Any at all?

    Here, you can read more about it if you give a shit at all about quoting people accurately: http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/response-to-controversy2/

    I hope you do give a shit and I hope you’re big enough to publish an apology and a retraction. As a blogger, you have a responsibility to try to get it right. Besides, we atheists are supposed to care more about truth than do the theists. Let’s try to fucking demonstrate that we really do.

  5. says

    The author of this blog hasn’t bothered to respond to my points. I’m a day or two away from concluding that it is better simply to ignore this blog than to waste any time responding to it.

  6. says

    bradreddekopp: I just read a bit of that “context” you say is so important, and no, it really doesn’t make Harris’ Islamophobic bullshit any more sensible than that one sentence taken “out of context.” Harris is explicitly saying that ethnic/religious fascists have the best response to Islam (even though it’s well known that tribalistic extremism only makes things worse, not better), and that liberals are too weak and wishy-washy to do what has to be done. This is standard fascist rhetoric, and Harris is parroting it just as stupidly and testerically as the fascists themselves.

    Also — since you’re saying “context” is so important — Harris has a record of saying really stupid things about Islam, like when he said that one branch of Islam, in one of the most backward, war-torn and isolated places in the Muslim world, is “THE true face of Islam.” Face the facts, Skippy — Harris is a moron, he has nothing good to offer, and he’s doing both atheism and liberalism more harm than good.

  7. says

    Sam Harris says he’s not praising fascists, but then he praises fascists with this sentence:

    Indeed, it is telling that the people who speak with the greatest moral clarity about the current wars in the Middle East are members of the Christian right…

    This statement is just plain FALSE. The Christofascists, who advocate repression nearly as bad as that of their “enemies” the Islamofascists, are not speaking with “moral clarity,” sometimes because they’re hypocrites, and other times because they’re just fucking stupid. Where (to take just one example) is the “moral clarity” in all the Christian Right’s shrieking about that “Ground Zero Mosque?” Where is the “moral clarity” in scraming about veils while flat-out denying women’s reproductive rights and bodily autonomy?

    Harris has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. He’s just another beta male responding to the fascists’ alpha-dog routine.

  8. says

    @ raging bee

    The moral clarity Harris is talking about is the comparison between liberal tolerance of an intolerant doctrine towards the enlightenment values of liberalism (we in the West base our governments on exactly these) and the warning sign that the clearest response to this intractable problem between islam and these values is coming from fascists and the christian right . He is saying this should be a a clarion call to liberals to wake the fuck up.

    That you so eagerly are willing to condemn Harris with the ludicrous charge of islamophobia and use broad strokes of vapid criticism and confusion to malign him in order to dismiss this point is a clear indication that you do not comprehend what he has written. It’s not Harris’ unreasonable fear of islam that is the problem here; it is the fact that the doctrine of islam is incompatible with the values that inform western secular liberal democracies. You have not addressed this central thesis at all in your rush to condemn and vilify him. No amount of personal smearing of Harris will change this intractable problem. That you cannot grasp even this much has nothing to do with Harris and everything to do with you.

  9. says

    @ Raging Bee

    Also — since you’re saying “context” is so important — Harris has a record of saying really stupid things about Islam, like when he said that one branch of Islam, in one of the most backward, war-torn and isolated places in the Muslim world, is “THE true face of Islam.”

    I suspect that what Harris means there is that the worst of the Islamists are the ones who are following the teachings of Muhammad the most closely and literally.

  10. says

    …and the warning sign that the clearest response to this intractable problem between islam and these values is coming from fascists and the christian right.

    As I’ve already said, and as recent events show, this is simply not true. It’s something the fascists repeat over and over, but repetition does not make something true. The fascists have not been at all “clear,” they’ve been belching fog and fear and reinforced ignorance like a factory belches smog; and they’ve been repeatedly proven wrong on basic factual matters, on both sides of the Pond.

    This is something fascists are good at: making themselves LOOK and SOUND bold and brave and clear and no-nonsense, while continuing to be ignorant, evil, and downright ridiculous the whole time. Harris should be smart enough to moderate his fears and see through their facade, especially at a time when most fascists care more about bashing dark-skinned immigrants than they do about anyone’s freedom. Look at the fascists in Greece and show me their “moral clarity” on the subject of religious freedom for all.

    That you so eagerly are willing to condemn Harris with the ludicrous charge of islamophobia and use broad strokes of vapid criticism and confusion…

    Yeah, I use HARRIS’S broad strokes of vapid criticism and confusion, to show he’s vapid and confused.

  11. says

    I suspect that what Harris means there is that the worst of the Islamists are the ones who are following the teachings of Muhammad the most closely and literally.

    First, he’s wrong; and second, does he really know enough about the Koran to say who is or is not ” following the teachings of Muhammad the most closely and literally?” Claims like that, about the Bible and the Koran, most often turn out to be false, so I think I have good reason to discount Harris’s claims here.

  12. says

    Claims like that, about the Bible and the Koran, most often turn out to be false, so I think I have good reason to discount Harris’s claims here.

    I can’t agree. Have you actually read the Qur’an?

  13. says

    If you’ve really read a significant portion of it, and not just the bits that reinforce your bigotry, you’d know its message is nowhere near as clear as you say it is. I’ve heard lots of bits quoted — by actual Muslims, mind you — that flat-out contradict your claims about who is “following the teachings of Muhammad the most closely and literally.” I guess I don’t have to cite them, since you say you’ve read the whole thing.

  14. says

    I suspect that what Harris means there is that the worst of the Islamists are the ones who are following the teachings of Muhammad the most closely and literally.

    You “suspect?” Was Harris not a good enough writer to say clearly what he meant so his readers wouldn’t have to speculate about it?

  15. says

    I’ve heard lots of bits quoted — by actual Muslims, mind you — that flat-out contradict your claims about who is “following the teachings of Muhammad the most closely and literally.”

    Well that’s the thing about books like the Qur’an and the Bible, isn’t it. They’re self-contradictory. A violent jihadi and a peace-loving Muslim can each cite scriptures to support their views.

  16. says

    Well that’s the thing about books like the Qur’an and the Bible, isn’t it. They’re self-contradictory.

    In other words, you just admitted that you and Harris have ZERO basis for your claims as to who “represents” the “true face of Islam.”

  17. says

    I’ll partly cop to that. I’ll admit that I was overreaching a bit. The jihadi can still use the Qur’an and the Hadith to make a strong case for his views and actions and it seems to me that the peace-loving Muslim has to ignore quite a lot of what is written.

  18. says

    … it seems to me that the peace-loving Muslim has to ignore quite a lot of what is written.

    Yeah, he HAS to ignore it because if he gets uppity about it, he’ll be ostracised from his community, or worse. And it doesn’t help AT ALL when assholes like Harris parrot the extremists’ claims word for word as gospel truth, instead of agreeing with the moderates that the extremists are wrong.

  19. says

    @ ragingbee

    You’re being naive and foolish and susceptible to islamic apologetics.

    You don’t want to comprehend Harris? Fine. But do your homework. Talk to muslims.

    Try asking them these two questions: According to islamic doctrine, namely, the koran (and perhaps even the hadiths) what defines a good muslim from a bad muslim? Is the koran the perfect word of god? Is there some method to resolve which contrary and conflicting scripture takes precedence?

    These revealing answers from source I assume you’ll respect will go a very long way to explaining to you how islamic belief seems so well suited to producing a large pool of recruits for extremism done in defense of its name. It will help explain how significant muslim minorities born and raised in the West can still produce such vast numbers of believers willing to act contrary to western secular liberal values.

    Any honest investigation will show quickly that it’s not Harris causing this incompatibility. Nor is it due to some poor interpretation of islamic doctrine by fascists and bigots. Asking muslims who are honest and peaceful and productive members of western societies will reveal to even the most foolish, the most naive, the most gullible of liberal apologists why islam is qualitatively different a religion – and a very dangerous one – from all others.

  20. says

    You’re being naive and foolish and susceptible to islamic apologetics.

    So that’s what you call listening to Muslims nowadays.

    You don’t want to comprehend Harris? Fine. But do your homework. Talk to muslims.

    I did, you idiot — that’s why you called me “naive and foolish,” remember?

    Try asking them these two questions…

    Right…my understanding of Muslims and Islam is to be determined by their answers to a few carefully-framed questions, and not on other factors, like, oh I dunno, how they behave or how they answer a different set of questions or what political causes they actually support or how they might see things based on their own previous experiences.

    And what if I ask your questions to twenty Muslims and get twenty different answers? Is there some method to resolve which contrary and conflicting answer takes precedence? Oh wait, I’m only supposed to ask that question to Muslims, aren’t I?

  21. says

    @ Raging Bee 75

    They are important questions because they reveal very important answers that directly address why the doctrine of islam is incompatible with the values you exercise here, namely, freedom of speech. Why this incompatibility seems to matter to you not at all is a bit mystifying.

    There is a qualitative difference between listening to muslims whose goal is to make islam seem compatible with hearing what muslims actually endorse. This tends to strip away the apologetic chaff you cannot separate on your own. I’m here to help with these specific questions – not loaded, not ‘framed’, but straight up and to the point of where the incompatibility arises. Just because these questions may make you feel too uncomfortable to ask seems to me to be a bit disingenuous when you are so willing to vilify Harris and besmerch his character for finding out what these answers truly are. One might be tempted to think there is a different set of standards involved here, one that is set extraordinarily low for muslims but incredibly high for those who dare have cause to criticize it.

    One of the questions often raised in response to how such normal and ordinary people – neighbours in my case – could become real life terrorists is how could this happen? Well, there is an answer… but one far too many liberal apologists refuse to hear: by becoming convinced that it is more important to become a ‘good’ muslim and act on what this means than it is to hold equivalent respect for the rights and freedoms of others. Within the muslim community, there is great tension on how one can be both a good muslim and a good citizen… much along the lines of being a good scientist and good scientologist: it’s very difficult to comport the two. Fortunately, the same principle seems to hold true for catholics as much as muslims: I’ve never met a ‘bad’ one I didn’t like. It’s the ‘good’ ones we need to guard our secular rights against.

    So be brave, raging bee, and try these questions out. You have nothing to lose but your beliefs!

  22. says

    There is a qualitative difference between listening to muslims whose goal is to make islam seem compatible with hearing what muslims actually endorse.

    In other words, you’ve got a ready-made excuse to discount any answers that don’t fit your script. That’s just one of many reasons why your “test” is bogus. I’ll just stick to the more proven strategy of judging people by their actions, thankyouverymuch.

    I’m here to help with these specific questions…

    Well, how sweet of you, bless your little heart! Did you volunteer for this, were you elected to the position, or did some unspecified authority appoint you to oversee our inquiries here?

  23. says

    @ raging bee

    In what way do these questions ‘script’ a response? They produce answers from muslims about the doctrine they empower that you can then work with (dedicated as you are to ignoring and misunderstanding and condemning anything that comes out of Harris’ mouth or pen). In no way, shape, or fashion are these questions and answers any kind of excuse or test; the answers produced should be eye-openers to people who don’t understand why some people like Harris claim islam is incompatible with western secular liberal values. You should be more concerned with whether or not this claim by Harris is true than you should be condemning him. Because you seem to have intellectually boxed yourself into a corner avoiding this central thesis in your haste to condemn anyone who dares to even suggest that there is an compatibility problem between the religious doctrine of islam and secular values you respect enough to exercise, I thought my input would be helpful… allowing you you to find out for yourself if the claim is true rather than rely on all these dubious and vilified sources. After all, you seemed singularly incapable of figuring out how to do this on your own. And the results matter… if you care about what’s true, if you care about supporting the secular values you exercise, if you care about maintaining them in the face of a growing native population whose shared doctrine may or may not undermines them. And if you don;t care about what’s true, then why should anyone pay anything you have to say you about others any mind whatsoever?

  24. says

    tildeb: typical authoritarian bluster, pretty much consistent with your superhero-costume avatar. I mentioned the idea of judging people by their actions twice, and you totally ignored this basic longstanding concept both times.

    You should be more concerned with whether or not this claim by Harris is true…

    I’m more concerned about claims that come from people who have proven themselves more honest and less ignorant than Harris. There are plenty of them on FtB alone — ACTUAL EX-MUSLIMS making SENSIBLE and FACT-BASED criticism of Islam and extremism, based on their own experiences and those of people they know, without resorting to willful ignorance, outright bigotry, torture-apologetics, or sucking up to one group of fascists to “protect” us against another. NO ONE needs Harris to tell us about Islam, any more than we need Ann Coulter, and NO ONE needs condescending fanboy apologists like you either.

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