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Daniel Pearl, Guantanamo and Moral Relevance
Posted by: McQ on Friday, July 06, 2007

Judea Pearl, Daniel Pearl's father, has a few qualms about the message "A Mighty Heart" (a movie about Daniel Pearl) might be inadvertently suggesting:
At the same time, I am worried that A Mighty Heart falls into a trap Bertrand Russell would have recognized: the paradox of moral equivalence, of seeking to extend the logic of tolerance a step too far. You can see traces of this logic in the film's comparison of Danny's abduction with Guantánamo—it opens with pictures from the prison—and its comparison of Al Qaeda militants with CIA agents. You can also see it in the comments of the movie's director, Michael Winterbottom, who wrote on The Washington Post's website that A Mighty Heart and his previous film The Road to Guantánamo "are very similar. Both are stories about people who are victims of increasing violence on both sides. There are extremists on both sides who want to ratchet up the levels of violence and hundreds of thousands of people have died because of this."

Drawing a comparison between Danny's murder and the detainment of suspects in Guantánamo is precisely what the killers wanted, as expressed in both their e-mails and the murder video. Obviously Winterbottom did not mean to echo their sentiments, and certainly not to justify their demands or actions. Still, I am concerned that aspects of his movie will play into the hands of professional obscurers of moral clarity.

Indeed, following an advance screening of A Mighty Heart, a panelist representing the Council on American-Islamic Relations reportedly said, "We need to end the culture of bombs, torture, occupation, and violence. This is the message to take from the film." The message that angry youngsters are hearing is unfortunate: All forms of violence are equally evil; therefore, as long as one persists, others should not be ruled out. This is precisely the logic used by Mohammed Siddiqui Khan, one of the London suicide bombers, in his videotape on Al Jazeera. "Your democratically elected government," he told his British countrymen, "continues to perpetrate atrocities against my people ... . [W]e will not stop."

Danny's tragedy demands an end to this logic. There can be no comparison between those who take pride in the killing of an unarmed journalist and those who vow to end such acts—no ifs, ands, or buts. Moral relativism died with Daniel Pearl, in Karachi, on January 31, 2002.
Of course we all wish it had indeed died in Karachi on that day, but in reality, it only died for Judea Pearl on that day as he gained an entirely new perspective on morality. His message, although he doesn't come right out and say it, is intolerance is many times both important and good:
There was a time when drawing moral symmetries between two sides of every conflict was a mark of original thinking. Today, with Western intellectuals overextending two-sidedness to reckless absurdities, it reflects nothing but lazy conformity. What is needed now is for intellectuals, filmmakers, and the rest of us to resist this dangerous trend and draw legitimate distinctions where such distinctions are warranted.
And, of course, what that means is all cultures are not the same, all cultures aren't necessarily good or worthwhile and we need to condemn those cultures when necessary and act in our own best interest should they become violent or threatening. Of course that strikes right at the heart of multicultural orthodoxy, but for the critics of multiculturalism, we've been telling you this all along. It's a pity it takes the moral relativism of organizations like CAIR and movies such as this to finally drive the point home.

Welcome aboard, Judea Pearl.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
Welcome aboard, Judea Pearl.
We wish you didn’t have to be here...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
McQ, you are again making a fundamental error of collective identification when you say:
...all cultures are not the same, all cultures aren’t necessarily good or worthwhile...
You are, in essence, taking evil terrorists and stating that they represent a "culture." If you extend that logic, you can take the acts of the most vile and use that to denegrate an entire religion or people. That is the danger of collective identification, and why most libertarians reject it in favor of wording such as all cultural beliefs are not the same, all cultural beliefs aren’t necessarily good or worthwhile, and a focus on individuals being responsible for their acts, not "the culture."

No one wants to take our most vile and evil war criminals or murderers and use that to attack America’s culture (and the Islamic extremists do that — or use pronography and drug abuse to create a collective identity whereby the West is slammed as hedonistic, amoral, and without soul).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
“If all cultures are equal, cannibalism is a matter of taste”

- Leo Strauss
 
Written By: Jimmy the Dhimmi
URL: http://www.warning1938alert.ytmnd.com
Right on cue, right on script.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
And he wonders when his morally and intellectually bankrupt stuff is...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Actually, I absolutely agree that cultures which demean women, which kill homosexuals, which are based on twisted interpretations of religious documents are inferior to cultures based on liberty and equality.

BUT HOW DO YOU PLAN ON CHANGING PEOPLES’ MINDS?

Communism was defeated because we showed billions (Russia, China, India) of people that democratic capitalism was a better way. We managed to keep wars to a proxy level, mostly.

Radical theocrats, whether Christian or Muslim, will not change their minds by being bombed, invaded, tortured or jailed.

This country is caught on the horns of a very pointy dilemma. On the one hand, we desperately need to keep the Saudi Arabia oil flowing. This means we must ally ourselves with profoundly repressive and corrupt governments. On the other hand, it is this very alliance (compared, say, to our historic relationship with the East German government) that leads the radicals to hate us.

Reagan famously said "Tear down this wall" and inspired millions. In the Middle East, the repressive governments are our allies.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
Actually, I absolutely agree that cultures which demean women, which kill homosexuals, which are based on twisted interpretations of religious documents are inferior to cultures based on liberty and equality.
Francis, I still prefer to look at cultural beliefs (as opposed to whole cultures) and individuals rather than collective identities. Many Iranians believe women should be treated well, many Muslims are loving, peaceful people. I know a Muslim couple where both work and the woman doesn’t wear a veil, but she still has her faith. The danger with this lumping of culture is that people like McQ often then explicitly slide to a denigration of Islam or the Arab world writ large, as if it is our collective identity vs. theirs, without recognizing the changes in and diversity in the Arab, Persian or Muslim world. And, of course, Christian fundamentalists are very different in how they treat homosexuals and others as well.

I understand that there are strongly shared cultural values which we can talk about as being generally shared within a society, but the dangers of working with collective identities are great and should be avoided, I think.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
You are, in essence, taking evil terrorists and stating that they represent a "culture." If you extend that logic, you can take the acts of the most vile and use that to denegrate an entire religion or people.

Just the contrary, actually. McQ defines ’evil terrorists’ as a culture, which distinguishes them from other cultures which don’t share the beliefs/behaviors of the ’evil terrorist’ culture. While there are those who would claim a certain unnamed entire religion or people does share those beliefs/behaviors, McQ is not doing so. If anything, you’re the one engaging in collective identification by assuming his definition of ’evil terrorists’ includes anything other than, well, evil terrorists. Try rereading the post with your right-wingers-are-ignorant-unthinking-bigots mental setting switched off for once.
 
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
The danger with this lumping of culture is that people like McQ often then explicitly slide to a denigration of Islam or the Arab world writ large...
Know exactly what’cha mean Professor Erb. I’ve been keeping a close eye on this formerly closeted bigot. In fact, I’m going to start bookmarking his bigotted views and publish them on my new blog "McQ Watch." If I miss any please be sure to shoot me an email.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
Now this is the kind of man I believe that all readers of QandO should try to emulate.
The prime minister has told Cabinet members not to mention "Muslim" and "terrorism" in the same breath.
It comes after the European Commission issued a guide for government spokesmen to avoid offence by ruling out the words such as "jihad", "Islamic" or "fundamentalist" in statements about terrorist attacks.
Iowahawk provides further info.
"We ask the public to report any behaviors by various people that may or may not be of a suspicious nature," said Lt. Clive Jameson of the Metropolitan Police Service. "We further ask the public to be especially vigilant for activities of broad stratas of people who may be from countries of some sort, especially those within the eastern and/or western hemisphere."
The elevated alert levels come on the heels of a week when London and Glasgow narrowly escaped potential events that intelligence experts say may have been related to diverse groups of people doing things. Initially police had specifically asked the public for information relating to doctors driving automobiles, but that initial warning brought angry denunciations from the British Medical Association and the UK Automobile Association.
"This directive unfairly singles out and targets British medical professionals, a great many of whom are loyal and patriotic citizens," complained Dr. Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the BMA. "The fact that some of the people involved in the recent unfortunate events may have been doctors is totally coincidental, just as if they had been accountants, plumbers, or random members of a deranged apocalyptic religious cult."
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
Just the contrary, actually. McQ defines ’evil terrorists’ as a culture, which distinguishes them from other cultures which don’t share the beliefs/behaviors of the ’evil terrorist’ culture.
If that’s the case, then that makes more sense. I had read that referring to "Muslim culture" or "Arab culture" as a whole, which I thought very dangerous and misguided. But if he is focusingon the ’evil terrorist culture,’ as a particular culture then I can’t really disagree with him. McQ has made statements in the past which were troublesome, including one time when he seemed to suggest it was impossible to have diverse interpretations of the Koran!

Tom: I think it does more harm than good to do as that Minister does and say you can’t say Muslim and terrorist in the same breath. I actually President Bush has it right on this one — he stresses the role of Islam as a great faith, visits Mosques and makes it clear that this isn’t the West vs. Islam. Yet he also clearly identifies the extremists as not only being Islamic extremists, but subverting Islam. On this issue, the President is a good role model (when he remembers not to use the word crusade!)
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I know a Muslim couple where both work and the woman doesn’t wear a veil, but she still has her faith.
I used to know a lady like that too. She’s dead now. Killed for now wearing the hijab and being in the company of males not of her relation. Her mother killed her in a mercy killing.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
I don’t denigrate Islam. I simply take it’s prescribed religious practices as I’ve read them in the Koran seriously.
 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
"Now this is the kind of man I believe that all readers of QandO should try to emulate."

Hilarious. You actually had me believing that excerpt from Iowahawk for a minute. I was all set to make a nasty comment. Thanks, that was fun.

"Quite Elevated Indeed"
Hah!
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

 
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