Saturday, August 18, 2007

On numbers, history and current problems (to Ebrahim)

(The answer to Ebrahim, who commented on this post.)

First of all: considering that you are not a new reader but have been reading my blog every now and then, I find it very interesting that you have written this comment in response to an article that does not in fact blame any Muslims for anything.

Sorry for answering your points in the order different from the one in which they were written. I'll try not to take you out of context though, and if you find that you are being taken out of context, do tell.

"But over time, I learned that you are a person who hates Muslims. A person who wants to create a bad image of them among his readers and friends. Your articles are biased."

I think this post explains a bit about the changes in my point of view in the last several years.

"Is Islam a violent and barbaric religion? Fuck yeah! Is Judaism or Christianity any better? Fuck no! Just browse through the pages of history and you will understand that."

That's exactly the thing: history. With Judaism and Christianity, barbarism in the name of religion is just that: history, or a rare aberration nowadays. In Islam, barbarism in the name of religion is a lot more modern and a lot more common.

There are good people and bad people in every nation and religion, just like you say. Also normal people, and really bad people. But numbers do matter. When I hear about a bomb going off in London or in Morocco or in Bali or in Spain, or about a woman being stoned for adultery, or about a father killing his daughter for trying to marry the wrong guy, I don't think "damn those militant Baptists!" or "those fucking Orthodox Jews are at it again!". And - admit it - neither do you. Mind you, every once in a while you find a Christian or a Jew carrying out a terrorist act in the name of their religion. But all in all, if you are betting on what kind of religious terrorist will commit the next lethal terrorist act it's quite safe to place your money on Muslims.

Numbers matter in other ways, too. You, agnostic and secular people from Muslim countries, are afraid of your religious fanatics, because there are so many of them. Among Jews and Christians, our religious fanatics are afraid of us. The Western world has some unspeakably disgusting religious fanatics, and they don't sound any better than Muslim fanatics, but you don't see them kidnapping people for forcible conversions, beheading anyone, or blowing places up. This is because they know that the minute they move from words to action there will be police at their door, and they won't have a place to hide, even among their own community.

Sometimes rabbis have sex (forcible or otherwise) with children. Sometimes Catholic priests do, too. But in the West when they are caught they go to prison. And if their superior turns out to have been covering for them, he gets fired. When ayatollah Khomeini married and had sex with a 10-year old girl, he did not go to prison. He made having sex with 10-year old girls (after marrying them, of course) legal in Iran. Note the difference?

"Why don't you write about Telmud?"

Because I don't have to. I've never read it and I don't live by it. It is an evolving book, and it's bigger than the full VMS manual. I don't have to care what's in it; those people who do are not powerful enough to make me.

In my admittedty limited experience those people who do bother to read Talmud don't take it at the face value. Talmud is not the word of God - it's a record of centuries of rabbinic discussions. The rabbis who wrote it lived a hell of a long time ago and could be wrong about things, and often were.

BTW - I don't doubt that you can find a number of really nasty quotes from the Talmud, and I can find some more from Tanakh, but next time try to search the texts themselves rather than quoting from a known Holocaust denier and conspiracy theorist.

Here is one from the Torah for you:

"23. If there is a virgin girl betrothed to a man, and [another] man finds her in the city, and lies with her,

24. you shall take them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall pelt them with stones, and they shall die: the girl, because she did not cry out [even though she was] in the city, and the man, because he violated his neighbor's wife. So shall you clear away the evil from among you."

And the reason I don't normally write about this is that we do not, in fact, stone betrothed virgins for being raped in the city.

"Why don't you write about the fact that stoning people to death was first introduced by the Jewish religion, and then inherited by Islam?"

I think it predates the Jewish religion, but yes, Judaism started stoning long before Islam started it. Judaism also ended stoning long before Islam started it.

"Now, do I have to hate Jews? Fuck no! In every nation, in every religion, there are good people and bad people, put it simply. Why should I hate my good Jewish friends, only because of the dark side of their religion or history?"

I don't hate my Muslim friends or acquaintances either, or indeed most of the individual Muslims that I happen to meet. Writing about the dark side of their religion and (unfortunately extermely modern) history does not make me hostile towards individuals.

"Are you a person who wants to bring peace to the world, or one who wants to create a darker world by writing inflammatory articles about those who she hates? I hope I am wrong, but I can't feel a scent of peace in your writings."

Sorry, but when somebody does something evil and I write about it, I don't think it's me here creating a darker world. I am just writing about the darker world being created around us. Don't kill the messenger.

I want peace, I am just growing more and more pessimistic about the possibility of it. I see the Islamic world encroaching on ours, and I don't think it's bringing much anything good with it. (Yes, I noticed that our world makes forays into the Islamic world, such as the war in Iraq. I don't think we are bringing any good there either.)

Good fences might make for good neighbors, and peace, but I am not seeing many good fences being built.

I am certainly not saying that most or all Muslim people are bad. But the countries where they constitute the majority tend to be the countries I, or most Western people, wouldn't want to live in. Or probably even you, considering that you are posting from Australia. Even the best of them - Turkey - has to expend quite a lot of effort on suppressing religious fanaticism. In the countries where they constitute a significant minority they are likely to be a troubled minority.

I see how women and non-Muslim minorities are being treated all over the Islamic world. This does not make me want to attack (even verbally) individual Muslims in the street or at a party, but it does make me want to vote for the kind of immigration policies that would make sure that we avoid having a Muslim majority or even a large minority.

Given all of the above, I am a bit concerned about the growing problems with Muslim minorities in Europe and the rest of the Western world. Do you think that I am wrong? That there are no problems? Or that I shouldn't be concerned or express my concern even if there are problems?

Sorry if all of the above is unpleasant to you. It's not your fault. Nor mine. The problems of Islam won't disappear if I stop writing about them.

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