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Things That Make You Go "Hmmm"
Posted by: Dale Franks on Wednesday, February 28, 2007

This evening, I checked Kinja, to see who is saying what about QandO. Via a link to us from Cassandra at Villainous Company I see that Dean Esmay of Dean's World (whose tag line is "Defending the liberal tradition in history, science, and philosophy.") has decided to reign in some of the debate there.
You can be an Islamophobe, or you can contribute to Dean's World. You cannot do both.

This is meant for front-page contributors, submitters, or even commenters. It is time for you to make a choice, and to live by that choice. Because I certainly intend to.

Simply put, you must agree withto all of the following assertionsassumptions:
1) Islam does not represent the forces of Satan or the Anti-Christ bent on destruction of the Christian world.

2) There is no 1,400 year old "war with the West/Christianity" being waged by Muslims or anyone else.

3) Islam as a religion is no more inherently incompatible with modernity, minority rights, women's rights, or democratic pluralism than most religions.

4) Medieval, anachronistic, obscure terms like "dhimmitude" or "taqiyya" are suitable for polite intellectual discussion. They are not and never will be appropriate to slap in the face of everyday Muslims or their friends.

5) Muslims have no more need to prove that they can be good Americans, loyal citizens, decent people, or enemies of terrorism than anyone else does.
Is this a test of "ideological purity?"

Why yes. Yes it is.

If you cannot accept, wholeheartedly, all of the above 5 assertions—without exception or weasel-wording—then if you are a front page Dean's World contributor you should turn in your keys and say goodbye. You can do it gracefully or ingracefully. You can do it by email or by posting whatever you want on the front page before you go. Your choice. But you need to do it: you need to leave.
Not being a reader of Dean's World, I don't actually know how serious a problem he's addressing, but it's his house, though, so he can do what he wants, and enforce any particular ideological line he cares to.

I do kind of wonder though, why you would have a group blog, if you want to eliminate disagreement among the bloggers. What exactly is the point? IF you want to start laying down the appropriate ideological line that your co-bloggers have to follow, then why have co-bloggers at all? Indeed, why be a co-blogger if you have to saluts, and say "Yes, Sir! yes, Sir! Three bags full!" to a blogmaster?

I thought the whole point of having a group blog was to have some variation in viewpoints, and, as has happened here, even some outright disagreements. Sometimes, testy ones, even.

Mr. Esmay continues in the comments...
Look up in the upper right hand corner for the little "X" button. Click it. Then don't come back.

If you want to embrace f*cking nutjob conspiracy theorist murderer logic, then do it somewhere else. This isn't the place for you...

"Non-negotiable" means exactly what you think it means.

I don't much give a f*ck whether you like it or not, either. Go find somewhere else to play if you cannot accept basic sanity as a precondition to discussions.
So, Mr. Esmay saucily informs you that if you do not accept Dean's Five Theses, you are deficient in sanity. Apparently, in his mind, there's no reasonable intellectual basis for even discussing these five points. They are "non-negotiable".

Which strikes me as odd, because I can think of at least a few reasonable intellectual arguments to propose on opposition to a couple of Mr. Esmay's assertions.

For instance, just to grab the low-hanging fruit, let's take number 3:
3) Islam as a religion is no more inherently incompatible with modernity, minority rights, women's rights, or democratic pluralism than most religions.
And yet, in Muslim countries, woman and minority rights seem not to be very high on the political agenda. Are we to believe that Islam, as practiced in those countries, has nothing whatsoever to do with it? Or is it that Islam as practiced in those countries is illegitimate, in much the same way that socialist professors are quick to point out that Soviet Communism wasn't real communism?

But, let's elide the inconvenience of the real world, and just look at the statement intellectually. If this statement is true, then Islam is just as compatible with democratic governance as any other religion.

Islam as I understand it, makes no explicit separation between civil and religious power. The Islamic state as presented in the Koran is fundamentally a theocratic state.

Compare and contrast with Christianity. For all that the idea of separation of church and state was honored in the breach rather than the observance in Christendom's history from ca. AD 330 to ca. AD 1750, Christianity explicitly rejects the union of church and state.

The earliest formulation of this idea comes from Jesus himself, who, when asked if paying Roman taxes was a sin, asked to see a coin, and inquired, "Whose face is on the coin?" His questioners responded, "Ceasar's." Jesus then said, "Then render unto Ceasar those things that are Ceasar's, and unto God, those things that are God's." In other words, duties to the state and duties to God fall under different spheres.

The apostles expounded upon this idea many times, declaring that Jesus' kindgom was a heavenly kingdom, not an earthly one. They argued, therefore, that, insofar as it was possible to do so without a violation of conscience, the Christian has a duty to accommodate himself to the prevailing civil government.

The idea of separate spheres for state and religion is an explicitly Christian one that has existed since the founding, and one that is not found, as far as I know, in the Koran.

So, then, if religion 1 makes a religious case for separation of church and state, and religion 2 makes a religious case for the unification of church and state, is it, in fact, correct to say that Religion 1 and Religion 2 are equally conducive to the development of democratic pluralism? Is it incorrect to say that Religion 2, by specifically requiring a theocratic state, is inherently incompatible with democratic pluralism? (One can also argue that there are worse religions than Islam in that regard. Confucianism comes to mind. Assuming you characterize Confucianism as a religion, rather than a philosophy.)

Whatever your ultimate answer to those questions, it certainly isn't an illegitimate—much less irrational—subject of disagreement.

Except, now, at Dean's World, it is.

In essence, Mr. Esmay is imposing a speech code on his web site. How implementing speech codes is intrinsic to "Defending the liberal tradition in history, science, and philosophy," is a bit beyond me.
 
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How implementing speech codes is intrinsic to "Defending the liberal tradition in history, science, and philosophy," is a bit beyond me.
Actually, this made me laugh.

Looking at college campuses, speech codes ARE intrinsic to defending liberal traditions (at least traditions since the 1960s).
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
This idiot does not even seem to understand that the "Liberal" tradition would be classical liberalism which is akin to modern day libertarianism.
 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
Tempted to join just to ask Dean if he thinks Sharia Law is a good sytem or a bad system.

But really can’t be bothered.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://
Let me guess, all those criticisms if directed at Christianity are still safe to make.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
The critical terms in statement #3 are “inherently” and “most religions”. If you believe that Islam as such is, indeed, incompatible with modernity, etc., then the reasonable conclusion is that you believe that Muslims here in the United States are, effectively, agents opposed to those things. How do you propose that they be dealt with?

If, on the other hand, you believe there’s nothing inherent in Islam as such that results in those things but, rather, there’s an interplay between culture and religion, that changes the character of the problems we face substantially.

Is Christianity inherently disposed towards modernity, women’s rights, and minority rights? Was that always the case? If it has changed over time, that suggests, once again, that there’s an interplay between religion and culture.
 
Written By: Dave Schuler
URL: http://www.theglitteringeye.com
I dropped him from my RSS reader as well as blogroll immediately after this stunt. There’s a difference between indicating you have a distaste for something and banning it outright (and still call yourself a defender of liberal traditions).

Honestly, DW has had some of the best conversations, but it was because of the openness. Dean himself can be an insufferable prick at times and unbelievably level headed and clear thinking at others. I’ve even had words with him in email, but kept coming back because his radical views fostered good discussion.

Don’t care to go back any more. I didn’t even tell him / request my account be deleted because I actually don’t care.
 
Written By: Robb Allen
URL: http://blog.robballen.com
Dave, great questions.

Too bad you can’t discuss them over there. You have to accept that view, toe the line, or else!
 
Written By: Robb Allen
URL: http://blog.robballen.com
Very good post Dale.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
I was doing some reading and apparently two of his co bloggers have quit since this diktat. As well, his wife have decided to leave the blog (she was an inactive blogger there) due to his way too bossy attitude.

Pretty bad when your wife leaves your blog because she thinks you went too far. Me thinks, Esmay has beclowned himself.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://

The critical terms in statement #3 are “inherently” and “most religions”. If you believe that Islam as such is, indeed, incompatible with modernity, etc., then the reasonable conclusion is that you believe that Muslims here in the United States are, effectively, agents opposed to those things. How do you propose that they be dealt with?
If you read the comments, the part that many find objectionable IS the inclusion of "most" in #3. Agreement with #3 implies a knowledge of "most religions" sufficient to judge their relative compatibility with modernity, pluralism etc, and that’s a statement many are unwilling to make simply because they don’t possess the knowledge to justify making it.

Also, Dean uses this construction: "Islam as a religion is no more inherently incompatible". By use of this term, Dean implies a sliding scale of incompatibility, with Islam roughly in the middle. If one were able to know the "incompatibilities" of all religions, then by mathematical necessity some would be "more incompatible" than most. To my knowledge, Dean has not undertaken a comparative analysis to demonstrate that Islam does not fall in the "more incompatible" range.

I believe that "Islam" is LESS compatible with modernity/pluralism than the small number of religions with which I am reasonably acquainted. Dale has already given an example why, in that the foundational holy text of Islam, the Koran, envisions no separation of secular vs. sectarian worlds. There exists no such explicit union of spiritual and earthly kingdoms in Christianity. There exists, therefore, an additional hurdle which "pluralism" must clear to find a home in a majority Islamic state vs a majority Christian state.

It’s not that the hurdle CANNOT be cleared, but it IS there. Perhaps (the numerous strains of) Islam require a sort of modern day Reformation which will lead it’s adherents to disavow the Koran’s linkage of mosque and state as a step toward the modernity and pluralism that the vast majority of Islamic states so clearly lack. But you won’t be able to get that discussion going on Dean’s World anymore.
 
Written By: CNH
URL: http://
Stopped reading him after he got absolutely hysterical and called a guy a ’traitor’ for pointing out some inconvenient truths about islam; accused him of not supporting any of our troops who are moslem, etc.

Used to hit the site regularly, but crap like that I don’t need.
 
Written By: Firehand
URL: http://elmtreeforge.blogspot.com
It’s not that the hurdle CANNOT be cleared, but it IS there. Perhaps (the numerous strains of) Islam require a sort of modern day Reformation which will lead it’s adherents to disavow the Koran’s linkage of mosque and state as a step toward the modernity and pluralism that the vast majority of Islamic states so clearly lack
We agree. Indeed, this is precisely the point I raised the end of last year.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
If you believe that Islam as such is, indeed, incompatible with modernity, etc., then the reasonable conclusion is that you believe that Muslims here in the United States are, effectively, agents opposed to those things. How do you propose that they be dealt with?
No.

It isn’t clear that Muslims accuratly or consistently support their faith. The Pope’s position on birth control and abortion is not followed by all American Catholics, for example.
If, on the other hand, you believe there’s nothing inherent in Islam as such that results in those things but, rather, there’s an interplay between culture and religion, that changes the character of the problems we face substantially.
In reality, they are not mutually exclusive. A combination of "inherent" and "culture" could be at work. Think "nature vs nurture".
Is Christianity inherently disposed towards modernity, women’s rights, and minority rights? Was that always the case? If it has changed over time, that suggests, once again, that there’s an interplay between religion and culture.
I’d argue that it isn’t as inherently disposed against modernity.

It is my understanding that in Islam, the Koran is literaly the word of God, perfectly written. The Christian Bible, by contrast, was inspired by God but is not a perfect document: human error is possible in its transcription. If my understanding is true, Christians have a significant advantage in engaging modernity vice Muslims.

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://

 
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