Shar’ia or Liberal Activism: Pick a Side, We’re at War!

“Liberal activist judges,” the common trope goes, want to expand the Constitution to protect everyone. Even the gays! And from there, there’s no stopping them: once homosexuality is legal, polyamy and bestiality will be too. Just terrible. All because liberals have no respect for the narrow values protected by the Constitution.

Or is it, because liberals hate America so much, they would, instead, implement Shar’ia law, which would require gay men and women to die? These seem to be contradictory, but not to identified Oklahoma state senators.

The notion that Shar’ia law is coming to America has always been founded on paranoia, and nothing else. It’s never happened in a Western nation; where it has, it’s been a result of courts (briefly) accepting binding arbitrations from religious courts, before realizing exactly what that rule imports, and frantically overturning the relevant statute. To my knowledge, no judgment has actually become final based on Shar’ia law, and none ever will in America, especially because of the conservative movement’s erstwhile foe, the First Amendment. I understand that the contrary position is a useful windmill for the far-right to tilt against, but that’s all it is.

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46 comments

  1. Here in Europe ‘it will never happen’ has a long history of being wrong: Communism, National Socialism, the invasion of Poland, the genocide of the Jews, the Spanish Inquistion, the Witch Hunts in Germany, the breakup of the British Empire and so forth. Indeed: the thought that there would ever be peace in Europe was unthinkable!

    In America, the ‘it will never happen here’ myth was wiped out with 9/11 and recently the acknowledgement that ‘home grown’ terrorists exists dispell the idea that ‘it would never happen here’, too. That blacks and whites would be treated equal under the law was once unthinkable. That your economy would practically grind to a halt because too many people bought a house they couldn’t pay for was a bit of a surprise, too. Unthinkable. That your Government would have to bail out the entire system with tax payers money is unimaginable in the home of free wheeling Capitalism. But it all happened. All of it. In the United States. And it happened slowly; incrementally; with the warnings being ignored along the way. Hindsight is a perfect science.

    The glasses you wear to conceal the world are so rose tinted you fail to see it coming. You fail to see that Islam is using politics, the economy, the media, the legal system, mass migration, threats of violence and – the unsayable thing – demographics – to spread its influence and increase its grip on the world. It is not the fastest growing religion because of conversion: so you might want to articulate why that is.

    Islam started in a desert in Arabia. It got to Turkey, North Africa, parts of Ethiopia, Indonesia and South East Asia using whatever means necessary – trade, subjugation, war, slavery, forced conversion or genocide. And, of course, voluntary conversion. But of course: things are different now, right, and all of the concerns and lessions to be learnt from history exist only in the mind of the far-right?

    1. You fail to see that Islam is using politics, the economy, the media, the legal system, mass migration, threats of violence and – the unsayable thing – demographics – to spread its influence and increase its grip on the world.

      And the nefarious central leadership of “Islam” which decide these things is to be found where?

      …all of the concerns and lessions to be learnt from history exist only in the mind of the far-right?

      No, just xenophobia and paranoia.

  2. Predictable response: paranoia? I hope you’re right. South Park showing Muhammed? Hardly worth starting a war over but testament to the undermining of the ‘Freedom of Speech’, the most sacred of American Freedoms. THINK ABOUT THAT FOR ONE SECOND: Child Pornography is *ALLOWED* but a picture of Muhammed is *NOT*. Not out of respect: but out of fear, and threat of violence. You have already started to submit and no-one seems to know it – its these small, incremental submissions that add up. Neither is big enough to be a problem; but taken together exhibit a trend.

    Xenophobia is defined as ‘an irrational fear of outsiders’. Given what I have seen, and heard, throughout my time in Africa and the Middle East, my fear is not irrational at all.

    1. Steve Jeffers · ·

      Child pornography *isn’t* allowed, though.

      Just because some things that were unthinkable eventually happened centuries later doesn’t mean that this specific thing will, too.

      More pertinently, if Americans are worried about ultra-conservative religious extremists incrementally destroying the Constitution, the entire foundation of American life and freedom, oppressing women with a stated plan to destroy the secular and indoctrinate children into their medieval belief system … well, you don’t need to look abroad. If you want to see religions systematically getting away with the most heinous breaches of law and decency in America, the worst offender is not Islam.

    2. That’s great, but you still haven’t told us where this alleged ‘Islamic Central Command’ is. Given your great first-hand experience with Africa and the Middle East, surely you must know?

  3. I like the fact you attack the periphery – ‘Central Comand’ – instead of the underlying issue: the loss of FREEDOM OF SPEECH in the United States of America! And why? BECAUSE OF THE PRESENCE OF ISLAM AND THE THREAT OF RETRIBUTION ON AMERICAN SOIL. But of course: some would say it will never happen in America! I say: It just has!

    To state you need a Central Authority is to misunderstand the way it works. The underlying culture and tenets are enough. To use a secular example (and a simplified one – lets not fixate on it): Chinese people perform extremely well at whatever they do intellectually anywhere in the world: Europe, the USA, Australia, South America. Is there a ‘Grand Plan’ behind that? Or do they just bring their culture with them?

    But back to your point: in Africa, many of the mosques are financied with Saudi money. So are the local Koranic schools. And with Saudi trained-and-financed Imams. And what brand of Islam are they exporting? It is certainly *NOT* the tolerant kind!

  4. To Steve Jeffers: (its hard to respond because of the way these are threaded):

    Islam is not ‘the worst offender’ simply because its population is smaller in the United States (go to Muslim-majority countries: the problem is far worse there than the United States and it is *NATION WIDE* in those countries because religious authorities run the nation). When threatened, religions compete not on reason but on violence simply because it is not possible to reason!

    The longest going border dispute in human history – predating anything in Europe (with millenia of war) – is in the Middle East. And it has no real hope of a lasting settlement because the problem is founded on religion. Only when religion takes second place – like it has in Europe, and recently in Northern Ireland – will there ever be a chance of peace. America is ‘Balkanising’ around a set of ideas that are founded in religion. They are arguing over Christ; or Muhammed’s picture; but not over Freedom of Speech (a secular idea).

    Energy is being misdirected.

    1. Steve Jeffers · ·

      With you on the religion thing, 100%.

      Here’s the ‘misdirected energy’ in your argument, though: Al Qaeda don’t care about the domestic situation in the US. The more crazed might think that the West is about to fall to Islam, but … well, it’s just *not*. The UK, for example, has a Muslim population of 4 million out of sixty million total, and about 4 Muslim MPs out of 650. Muslims are massively *under*represented in Western politics. They have far *less* power than they should, not far more.

      The real battleground for Al Qaeda is *Muslim countries*. They represent a conservative extremist backlash. They want to seize power there, not in France or Texas.

      So the battle is *within* Muslim countries. Tarring all Muslims or whole countries with the same brush as Bin Laden only turns those countries against the US. It helps Al Qaeda achieve their actual goal, which isn’t ‘the destruction of the US’, it’s ‘control of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia’.

      Most Muslim countries are, or were, on a path to Western-style liberty. Egypt, for example, was. When a President declares a ‘crusade’ and says ‘you’re with us or you’re our enemy’ … well, that kills that progression stone dead. When we proclaim that our way is better than theirs – then abduct, torture and imprison without trial, just like the worst regimes there … well, that kills that progression stone dead.

  5. Numbers aren’t important – the fact a small minority can cancel out one of America’s most treasured founding rights – the Freedom of Speech – should be sufficient to know that things will not get better as they become more assertive. Without a shot being fired: they have overridden a fundamental right in the USA. They are empowered; it will not end there!

    I disagree with your analysis on Egypt and why things are ‘hotting up’. Personally, I think this is just what happens when Muslims govern themselves: their culture and fatalism provides a foundation that allows fanatics to prosper. read ‘White Gold’ for more information (I won’t elaborate on that here; I’ll wait for another post).

    The fundamental issue is submission to religious authority over reason; that is the trend that must be changed.

    1. Egypt is not an Islamic state, though, and is not governed according to any kind of religious authority. On the contrary, the reason why the early steps towards democratic reform were cancelled was that they gave the Muslim Brotherhood too much influence, and they’re the only group that can realistically threaten Mubarak’s monopoly on power. Thus, democratization in Egypt: cancelled.

      You asked above that we do not fixate on a simplified argument. I wouldn’t worry about that, because all your arguments are grossly simplistic.

  6. Lancfranc: Thankyou for your complement. Sometimes, the fact is, arguments are ‘that simple’ and when I put to you that you have sacrificed Freedom of Speech you make no comment.

    When I point out that cultural baggage and no grand plan is needed, an idea you could extrapolate to the Japanese, Germans or Jews, you make no comment.

    When I draw your attention to White Gold – and really, you should read this book – you make no comment. You might be surprised to find out just how these ‘tolerant’ these Muslim states were prior to colonization and how they taught Christians… my argument is that they are reverting to their previous form and there is plenty of historical evidence to back up my claim.

    When I draw your attention to the fact that people are arguing over whatever fantasy they were brought up with (Christ, Muhammed’s picture) but not over the loss of Freedom of Speech, you make no comment.

    This is a forum and things have to be kept simple; even the original posters articles omit things, but the underlying tenet is enough to debate with instead of using misdirection like yourself.

  7. taught == treated

    Egypt is not an Islamic State, but the Coptic Christians are treated like second class citizens; go see for yourself, please!

    Also, I’ve noticed a trend in your posts: whereas other posters attack the arguments I put up (and I attack theirs), your attacks seem to be personal: ‘paranoia and xenophobia’, ‘simplistic debate’ etc. With that in mind, unless you start to attack my arguments instead of making statements about me, I will reply to your posts no more. The first rule of a debate is to separate the individual from their argument; and although I often disagree with Candid’s posts, I attack her ideas, and not Candid herself.

  8. Gary:

    Well, let’s examine your arguments, then. Your idea that “cultural baggage” as you call it should be a primary determinant for economic or social growth belongs in the 19th century. The actual results of such a theory entirely depends on at which particular point in time you examine the culture in question. If you look at the Romans in the around 1 BC,you could say they were “energetic and expansionist”. But if you look at them again 300 years later, perhaps “declining and decadent”. Leaving aside the fact that neither of these conclusions even begin to adequately describe Roman culture, what happened in those 300 years? Things happened that changed their culture, because that’s what cultures do all the time.

    This is exactly the same for our contemporary cultures. Examining the Chinese in 1900, 1950 and 2000 in this manner would each lead to vastly different conclusions about their “cultural baggage”, which would in turn be debunked by actual events pretty soon.

    Of course, the idea falls apart even earlier, because there is no such thing as a “Muslim culture” in the first place. There are Arab cultures and Turkish cultures and Somali, Kurdish, Pashtun, Kyrgyz, Bangladeshi cultures and so on. Islam certainly supplies certain common aspects, but in the end, it’s just an umbrella. Christianity is jst the same: Russia and Brazil are both predominantly Christian societies, but no one would argue they’re the same culture.

    About White Gold, I suggest you read a little book called Orientalism by Edward Said, think a little about White Gold in that context, then get back to me.

    And as for your last point about freedom of speech, I must admit that since I live in Denmark and have had front-rank access, as it were, to all the Muhammad cartoon controversies of the last few years, the suggestion that people do not discuss the tensions between religion and free speech is nothing less that hilarious. Sometimes, it seems like that’s all people discuss these days, although unfortunately not always with a particularly high level of sophistication or understanding of the issues involved.

    Now, Gary, having taken the time to answer some of your points, perhaps you’d be so good as to go back and answer some of mine in return. Such as:

    If Sharia is a primary cause of poverty, what about other countries in similsr circumstances which are also very poor, but do not have Sharia, or even a significant number of Muslims?

    And conversely, what about those countries which do use Sharia, but are doing very well economically? I’m thinking about Malaysia, the Gulf States, or even Israel.

    Further, I’m still not entirely certain which particular school or implementation of Sharia it is you’re talking about in the first place, or which aspects of it that you believe would hinder economic growth. Could you elaborate on that?

    Also, it seems to me that you have not yet adequately explained how exactly it is that a single mosque close to Ground Zero is suddenly going to put all of the US at risk of being placed under Sharia. What sort of process are we talking about here?

    Finally, first you pull out Egypt as an example of how “Muslims govern themselves”, but when I then point out that Egypt is a quite secular dictatorship, suddenly it’s about the Copts instead. Sure, they have a hard time sometimes, but so does the Muslim Brotherhood. So what sort of argument are you actually trying to make with this example?

    I’m looking forward to your substantial contributions on these points. Thanks and godspeed.

    (The blog author is a guy, by the way.)

  9. Although I find Gary S’s argumentative technique highly questionable, my understanding is that there is some legitimate concern — in Europe, at least — that Islamic concerns are being given far too much political credence.

    Even if that’s true, however, I haven’t seen any sign of similar actions over here in the US — except, of course, under cover of “Christianity”, the Tea Party, and other right-wing instruments… unless Pat Condell is right, rather than just buying into the Right’s narrative on this whole thing.

    1. Steve Jeffers · ·

      ‘Legitimate concern’? Some crazy website says things like ‘sometime prior to 1995 Muslims started coming to Europe’ and you see that as informed comment? Yes, ‘sometime prior’ in the sense of exactly thirteen hundred years ago.

      “One milestone they have achieved toward this end is that British courts are now recognizing the rule of Sharia courts as legitimate”.

      Absolute nonsense. Absolutely wrong. Some in the Muslim community, when both parties agree to, settle disputes internally using Shariah law – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1535478/Sharia-law-is-spreading-as-authority-wanes.html – these have some legal force – http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article4749183.ece – but this is massively controversial, and when the Archbishop of Canterbury said ‘where’s the harm?’ there was a tremendous backlash, with all senior politicians condemning the idea: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/7264740.stm

      If that’s your basis for saying there’s a ‘Islamic Cultural Invasion’ it’s a pathetic one.

    2. Yeah, I’ll agree with Steve for once, this has no connection with reality. Obviously there are challenges related to the integration of minorities, but both the issues being reported here and the idea of a “cultural invasion” in itself are pure hyperbole.

  10. I need to be clear about my position. I’m definitely suspicious of anything promoted by the Right, and this (especially the furor about the mosque) has their fingerprints all over it. Although I do not support the spread of any religion, I do support (in theory; I don’t actually know any) individual Muslims in their attempt to live freely and prosperously in this country.

    The “cultural invasion” fear, though, seems backed by some reasonable arguments. I need to know what the counter-arguments are.

    Steve Jeffers points to news items about Sharia law being used internally, by mutual consent — not being imposed on others. This seems reasonable; I will have to find the original arguments and see if this answers them.

    Another point raised by the maybe-Islamophobes is based on the apparent fact that the UN has endorsed a Muslim-backed/authored anti-blasphemy law. This by itself might just be “politics as usual” — but it still seems rather threatening. Is there a more substantial argument for why it shouldn’t be seen as part of a pattern of Islamic cultural dominance?

    I’d also like to draw a connection that nobody else seems to be making: the anti-Muslim “Christian Taliban” is at least partly fueled by Fox, which is itself partly Saudi-owned. It it ridiculous to think that the Saudis are working to make America’s thinking less tolerant and more epistemicly (epistemically? epistemologically?) closed, and thus more fertile ground for Islam?

    Do we agree that tolerating intolerance (e.g. apologizing for the Mohammed cartoons) misses the whole point of “tolerance”, and works against liberal ideals?

    1. I’m afraid the only counter-argument that these ideas of “cultural invasions” or “dominance” deserve is that they do not exist. They’re spectres called up by far-right politicians like J-M Le Pen, Geert Wilders, or our own Pia Kjærsgaard who either do not understand or will not accept that cultures change all the time, so when the present day does not resemble their idealized images of what things were like 50 years ago, that change must necessarily be caused by some hostile outside agent. It’s interesting enough to examine why they get these ideas, but they do not deserve being discussed as phenomena that are actually happening.

    2. I’m sorry, but your reply is not satisfactory. Even the stupidest theory deserves a reply, if we are to make rational choices between theories. (Do you dispute the idea that a stupid-seeming theory can turn out to be right?)

      Instead of addressing the substance of the argument (parts of which I presented to you), you instead attacked the credibility of its proponents — a manipulative tactic much used by those you claim to despise. (By your own associative argument, that should make {your claim that there is no invasion} as invalid as {their argument that there is one}.)

      You may be correct, in the final analysis, but I need something more substantial than just “only poopyheads agree with this”. If the invasion argument is that ludicrous, it should be trivial to refute, no?

    3. The refutation is found in its absence. There is simply no indication that such an “invasion” is taking place. To take Denmark as an example, we have probably a little over 150,000 citizens and residents of Middle Eastern origin or descent. By comparison, one of the most prominent fundamentalist groups, the local chapter of Hizb ut-Tahrir, has about 50 permament members, and perhaps a few hundred loose associate members, or less than half a percent support total. There are a couple of other groups and extremist mosques and such, of course, but the total number is still vanishingly small.

      The fact is that the great majority of immigrants are not here as part of any “cultural invasion” or any other such nonsense. They’re just here to get a job and a new life, and God knows we’ll direly need them in just a few years’ time if our current birth rates remain as low as they are now.

      1. Thank you, that’s a start. It’s hard to imagine an invasion being successful when it’s not even 3% of your population.

        …wait, does that even make sense? How many invaders did it take the last time Denmark was invaded? Wikipedia says 14500 — less than a tenth as many.

        Of course, 150k unarmed citizens does not necessarily equate to 15k soldiers with guns and tanks — but we’re talking about a cultural invasion here, not armed conquest.

        I should be clear about the term “cultural invasion”; maybe it’s not even the right term. The fear is not that our comfortable home-grown values (in the US, we’d say “apple pie, baseball, and motherhood”) will be supplanted by scary, less-familiar but equally valid foreign values (strange food, strange customs, strange clothing). There’s nothing wrong with that.

        The fear is that values basic to modern, enlightened civilization (civil rights, human rights) will be overpowered by values rooted in the dark ages: authoritarianism, feudalism, aristocracy, theocracy, absolutism. (You know… the right for a father to have his daughter stoned if she is raped, the right of a husband to beat his wife, the death penalty for attempting to leave your religion, and so on.)

        I think what we’re arguing about here is whether the latter is even a possibility, because I think we’re in agreement that it would be a really, really bad idea — right?

      2. Yeah, but it’s not going to happen, and the only people with an interest in presenting it as a possibility are the fear-mongerers on the far right. So I do not in any way accept it as a valid discourse.

        On another point, I strongly disagree that fundamentalism, whether Islamic or Christian or anything else, is “rooted in the dark ages”. It’s precisely a reaction to the Enlightenment and similar cultural currents, so it’s just as much a part of modernity.

      3. I want to believe that you are correct (about it not being a possibility), but I find your arguments insubstantial.

        You would have us settle for the comfortable belief that “it can’t happen here” and enlightened values will inevitably prevail — just as the Right would have their minions settle into the comfortable-to-them belief that all non-Christians are evil and probably terrorists.

        Liberalism is only more inherently right than [what passes for] conservatism when we stick to our principles, such as making every attempt to overcome bias through rational examination of the evidence. Your arguments, though apparently well-meaning, fail that criterion.

        Still, I do hope the evidence will eventually show that you are right.

        1. I suggest you start out by taking your “rational examination” and apply it to the far-right arguments, because for whatever reason, you seem to accept them pretty unquestioningly. Perhaps you should familiarise yourself a bit more with the European discourse on these subjects first?

          (And “more inherently right”? Lolwut?)

        2. You’re avoiding every opportunity for a substantial response and sticking to attempts to marginalize your perceived opponent with put-downs — the mark of someone who knows they don’t have an argument.

          Maybe there really is something to what those right-wing crazies are saying, after all… and here I was just about ready to write them off.

        3. Tell you what: If you ever find some arguments that are not blatantly xenophobic and taken directly from the bullet points of the Front National or Party for Freedom, I’ll be happy to offer some substantial responses. But trying to engage seriously with this stuff is like asking someone to prove he doesn’t beat his wife anymore.

          I mean, come on. “Taking advantage of their own rapidly-growing population combined with a willingness to use the threat of violence as a political tactic…” Don’t you realize how bloody crazy that stuff is?

          Hey, ever hear of the Know-Nothing Movement and their ideas about how all those Catholic immigrants were going to make the US into a theocracy under the Pope? It’s exactly the same thing here.

        4. I stand by what I said about liberalism. The only thing that makes the American liberals mostly right and the American conservatives mostly wrong is that the latter have (mostly) embraced prejudice, superstition, and emotional manipulation, while the former (mostly) reject those things while embracing honesty and the overcoming of our hard-wired biases — the great task of puzzling out reality through our distorted perceptions of it.

          Although in practice there is obviously a great deal of overlap between “sounding crazy” and actually being crazy, there is nonetheless a difference between the two. The difference may only be discerned by examining the competing arguments and offering counterpoints to each until something approximating the truth is (hopefully) left standing.

          The “invasion” claim, however unhinged it may turn out to be, is not a logical double-bind of the “have you stopped beating your wife yet” variety. At worst, it is asking you to prove a negative (“okay, show me the thing that isn’t there!”) — if that’s your concern, it’s not without merit.

          Since I don’t live in Europe, I can only go by what others who do live there have said. On one side, I have you (and a number of politicians I don’t trust) saying it’s not happening; on the other, I have: Pat Condell, Bruce Bawer, a friend who lives in Utrecht, and a relative who lives in England every summer — all agreeing that it’s a problem. If I am to believe you over them, I think the burden of proof falls at least a little bit on you.

          I have already presented some of what I considered to be evidence; you dismissed it out of hand. Why should I believe that if I take the time to research this further, you would not similarly dismiss what I find? Like this:

          Me: (evidence evidence evidence)
          You: That’s just crazy talk!
          Me: But what about (more evidence evidence evidence)?
          You: Those people are clearly unhinged and have been drinking crazy soda while eating wacky crackers! Pay them no heed.
          Me: Oh, okay, thanks, I feel much better now. >.<

          For that matter, why don’t you present me with some links to the “European discourse on these subjects” to which you refer, instead of just assuring me that it exists and utterly demolishes my concerns (o mighty Oz)? I’d especially like to read a calm, reasoned, not-full-of-logical-holes rebuttal to either Condell or Bawer. (I started to look for some specific Condell videos as examples, but YouTube crashed Firefox and I was lucky to recover what I had already typed. I can still try to dig them up and post them here if you would like to have them.)

          1. I’m not sure anyone outside the UKIP or BNP (hey, look: guilt by association) actually takes Pat Condell seriously, so I’m not aware of any specific rebuttals, but I found a blog called Why Pat Condell Isn’t Funny. I didn’t read most of it, but it could be interesting.

            More seriously, anything by John L. Esposito should give you a solid foundation for understanding the issues involved.

            Tariq Ramadan has written extensively on the position of Muslims in Europe and the development of a European brand of Islam.

            Cathy Young had an interesting article about the thin line between criticism of Islam and bigotry.

            Edward Said’s Orientalism is a bit dated, but still a clasic for understanding how many Europeans perceive Muslims and why.

            Reza Aslan’s recent How to Win a Cosmic War offers a brief but interesting study of the anatomy of fundamentalism. I haven’t read his No God But God yet, but that looks interesting as well.

            For more basic research, the various publications of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights offers a useful overview of the actual European state of affairs, especially in their annual reports.

            That should last you for a while.

          2. Oh, and I’d particularly draw your attention to the EUFRA’s InfoBase database. Lots of useful information there.

            1. Was this your only reply? Your comment starts out sounding like a follow-up to another reply, but I don’t see one.

              I’m not sure EUFRA is going to have anything useful; it will just support the official line, i.e. that there’s no problem — unless there’s a section somewhere in there which specifically addresses claims to the contrary (which seems unlikely).

              I’m not really sure what you’re expecting me to find there that answers my concerns, in any case.

              1. Stave Jeffers · ·

                “it will just support the official line, i.e. that there’s no problem”

                And *there* is where you cross over into crazy.

                The ‘official line’ … is what, in your model? The EU is secretly run by jihadists keeping the scale of their infiltration under wraps? Or the EU is run by people who can’t count, oblivious to the Muslims who are taking over?

                There are Muslims in Europe. They want to be able to worship and preserve their way of life, just like the rest of us do. Generalising about ‘the Muslim way of life’ is as meaningless as talking about ‘the Christian way of life’.

                Racists remain racist, the ignorant remain scared and easy prey.

                If we really want to get into the ‘are Muslims invading Western countries and imposing their culture or is it the other way round?’, we can play that game.

                You won’t last long.

            2. (I’ll try posting it again – it doesn’t seem to show up in the “Latest Comments” either.)

              I’m not sure anyone outside the UKIP or BNP (hey, look: guilt by association) actually takes Pat Condell seriously, so I’m not aware of any specific rebuttals, but I found a blog called

              Why Pat Condell Isn’t Funny. I didn’t read most of it, but it could be interesting.

              More seriously, anything by John L. Esposito should give you a solid foundation for understanding the issues involved.

              Tariq Ramadan has written extensively on the position of Muslims in Europe and the development of a European brand of Islam.

              Cathy Young had an interesting article about the thin line between criticism of Islam and bigotry.

              Edward Said’s Orientalism is a bit dated, but still a classic for understanding how many Europeans perceive Muslims and why.

              Reza Aslan’s recent How to Win a Cosmic War offers a brief but interesting study of the anatomy of fundamentalism. I haven’t read his No God But God yet, but that looks interesting as well.

              For more basic research, the various publications of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights offers a useful overview of the actual European state of affairs, especially in their annual reports.

              That should last you for a while.

  11. (There seems to be a problem with this comment. There are probably too many links in it, I’ll try breaking it up in two.)

    I’m not sure anyone outside the UKIP or BNP (hey, look: guilt by association) actually takes Pat Condell seriously, so I’m not aware of any specific rebuttals, but I found a blog called Why Pat Condell Isn’t Funny. I didn’t read most of it, but it could be interesting.

    More seriously, anything by John L. Esposito should give you a solid foundation for understanding the issues involved.

    Tariq Ramadan has written extensively on the position of Muslims in Europe and the development of a European brand of Islam.

  12. Cathy Young had an interesting article about the thin line between criticism of Islam and bigotry.

    Edward Said’s Orientalism is a bit dated, but still a classic for understanding how many Europeans perceive Muslims and why.

    Reza Aslan’s recent How to Win a Cosmic War offers a brief but interesting study of the anatomy of fundamentalism. I haven’t read his No God But God yet, but that looks interesting as well.

    For more basic research, the various publications of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights offers a useful overview of the actual European state of affairs, especially in their annual reports.

    That should last you for a while.

    1. Yeah, that looks better. Thanks to ACG for fixing the problem.

      But Woozle, I must say I’m greatly confused by your comment above. EUFRA collects and analyses data from the member states’ various statistical agencies. Surely, actual facts and data are highly relevant to this discussion? And what happened to the liberal thing of analysing data and rejecting prejudice? An a priori rejection of data because you think it represents “the official line” does not seem very rational to me.

  13. (Taking replies one topic at a time… too much stuff per thread.)

    Steve Jeffers: Are you arguing that it is automatically crazy to say that a large governmental body might be distorting the truth in some way?

    1. Steve Jeffers · ·

      “Are you arguing that it is automatically crazy to say that a large governmental body might be distorting the truth in some way?”

      No.

      I’m saying you have a thesis that ‘Muslims are taking over’ and that the EU is ‘distorting the truth’ about that, skewing the figures to make it look like there’s ‘no problem’.

      If the EU are ‘distorting the truth’, you’re effectively saying that the EU authorities are *complicit* in the ‘taking over’, ie: when the EU says it’s not a problem, it’s because they’re in on the secret plot.

      And that makes no sense, at all. It’s the same crazy that insists that Obama is a ‘secret Muslim’.

  14. Steve again: Yes, Islamic cultural invasion is the hypothesis I have been discussing (and defending, in a quasi-devil’s-advocate way).

    Issuepedia is “my”* web site. I don’t consider it authoritative or even well-informed; I consider it underinformed — an information vacuum which I am trying to fill, a collection of whatever relevant information I have been able to dig up (and had time to add) on each issue. (*I say “my” in quotes because although the overwhelming majority of it is my writing and conclusions, others have contributed to a few articles — and it is open for editing to anyone, subject to my editorial review.)

    I should probably clarify my viewpoint some more.

    When you say “If you want to see religions systematically getting away with the most heinous breaches of law and decency in America, the worst offender is not Islam”, I agree completely. (Please refer to my tenuous hypothesis, above, about the “Christian Taliban”. It’s not a strong hypothesis, but I don’t think it rates outright dismissal.)

    When you say “When a [US] President declares a ‘crusade’ and says ‘you’re with us or you’re our enemy’ … well, that kills that progression stone dead.” — again, I agree (strongly); I also agree about the effects of US behavior in what I call the Holy War on Terror.

    Your argument about the ratio of Muslim MPs to Muslim citizens being lower than for the general population is relevant, and I have added it as a counterpoint.

    Your point about courts recognizing Sharia rulings between consenting parties only is also relevant. I have added that also, along with your links.

    On to Ianfranc’s comments next, I think…

  15. Ianfranc:

    Thanks for the Condell counter-site. I look forward to digging into it.

    Re EUFRA: I’m not familiar with the site (or the organization), so I really had no idea what sort of information it might include which could be useful in resolving this discussion. You have now clarified that, I think.

    Without digging further (yet), it sounds like you’re suggesting that data on human rights violations — presumably based on reasonably objective reports thereof — would counter my argument regarding the hypothetical “cultural invasion”, if it turned out that the rate of such violations in recent years was not notably higher than the baseline.

    Yes, that’s useful information — evidence. It shifts the burden of proof back towards the “invasionist” side of the debate. We can say “you say these people are coming into European countries and undermining our freedoms — but the data says it’s not happening. So where’s the beef?”

    I suspect the invasionist counterargument would be something like “of course you don’t see any rights violations being reported — what’s happening now is like legalizing robbery and then saying that the crime rate hasn’t gone up; the bar has been lowered so the figures won’t show the embarassing truth that we’re increasingly being bound by Muslim values and rules, not secular ones” or possibly “of course you don’t see a rise in rights violations; who is going to make a complaint if they’re afraid of retribution? Who is going to report violations if they’re under political pressure to keep things looking normal?”

    (Possible answers to this would involve knowing how the data was gathered, and how reliable those methods have proved to be in other real-world settings.)

    I don’t know what I believe about this, yet, but at least I finally do have some substantial anti-invasionist arguments and sources to chew on.

    1. Steve Jeffers · ·

      “we’re increasingly being bound by Muslim values and rules, not secular ones”

      The counterargument to that is simple: ‘No. We’re. Sodding. Not.’

      You don’t mean ‘Muslim values’, because that’s a meaningless statement. You mean ‘the extremist, fundamentalist Muslim values’. And we’re not. Name *one* example of, say, the United Kingdom, the United States, France or Germany adopting a wahibist law. France banned the burqa, for heaven’s sake.

      If David Cameron says women can’t drive any more, or Obama announces that from now on beards are compulsory and kite flying is punishable by death, then you’d have a point.

      This Islamization is utterly invisible, utterly undetected. It’s impossible to point to one actual example. Perhaps they’re so incredible dangerous that they’ve invented invisibility and tied it to awesome ninja skills. Or perhaps they’re not actually there.

      1. That sentence (or is it 4 separate sentence fragments?) isn’t a counter-argument — but your next paragraph is.

        “Muslim values” — okay, call them “values fueled by religious extremism”. I was hypothesizing a plot supported by Saudi interests — but the problem is religious extremism, not Islam or any other particular religion.

        We don’t have David Cameron issuing a fatwa making it illegal for women to drive, but we do have Mormons from Utah using their power (“billboard fatwas”, anyone?) to succeed in outlawing gay marriage in California — and getting a mere legal wrist-slap for it. We don’t have compulsory beards, but we do have churches happily infiltrating our public schools in violation of the Separation clause (which half the country has apparently been convinced is just a liberal/satanic invention).

        You said I couldn’t name a single example; that’s two, just from today’s RSS feeds.

        As I said, it’s not a strong hypothesis, but I don’t think it rates outright dismissal.

      2. Wait, what? Mormons in California? I thought we were talking about Muslims in Europe.

        1. Steve Jeffers · ·

          I think it’s what the army call ‘mission creep’.

  16. That was one of the two things we were talking about, yes. The focus was on Europe, but you started talking about Obama (and I confused David Cameron with Paul Cameron) so I mistakenly thought the topic had switched to America (the fear that the supposed cultural invasion of Europe would spread here next).

    I’ll admit I don’t pay as close attention to what goes on in Europe, so I can’t as easily produce European examples… didn’t some government actually apologize for the Mohammed cartoons? That seems pretty outrageous to me, but there would need to be a lot of similar events to show a pattern rather than just momentary political spinelessness, and I don’t have any such evidence quickly at hand.

    Certainly there has been a pattern of abuse by Muslim “community leaders” (imams, etc.) — death threats against those who criticize Islam (sometimes carried out, e.g. Theo van Gogh), for example — but I agree that this is a far cry from infiltration or corruption of governmental processes.

    The search for evidence continues, and hopefully your position on this will be borne out.

    I must read those critiques of Pat Condell (who strongly advocates “invasionist” theories and warns that it’s coming to America next). I would be tempted to dismiss him as being taken in by right-wing anti-tolerant rhetoric — if it weren’t that he has been repeatedly endorsed by Dawkins and Myers.

  17. Steve Jeffers · ·

    “I confused David Cameron with Paul Cameron”

    And ‘Christianity’ with ‘Islam’. And ‘not happening’ with ‘happening’.

    “The search for evidence continues”

    As, indeed, does the shifting of goalposts. A little further up the page, you’ve got a Saudi-owned Fox News and the EU both engaged in vast propaganda operations to promote Muslims and downplay the threat they pose. Presumably Glenn Beck and Jack Bauer are a particularly fiendish piece of reverse psychology.

    Your theory doesn’t match the facts. You’ve admitted as much. It might be time for you to rework the theory.

    1. Steve, you don’t seem to understand the difference between a hypothesis (which I already admitted was weak) and a belief. I’m exploring an idea, not attempting to convince you of its truth. (I suppose I am trying to convince you that it’s not a ridiculous idea, but that’s not the same thing as trying to convince you that it’s true. I am reworking the theory. That’s why I chimed in in the first place.)

      That’s ok, though; I’ve gotten what I wanted out of this discussion, i.e. some non-BS counterarguments. Thanks for your help, and thanks to Ianfranc too.

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