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Falsehood and Hatred

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Those of you who are regular readers know I have not courted (political) controversy on this site, especially compared with my writing on my old site. But if the fight comes to me, I’ll certainly never turn the other cheek. I’m the other kind of Christian.

In a post on the lunacy of a new Fox reality show based upon arranged marriage, I made the mistake of naming it “The Islamists Should Like This One,” even though the post had nothing whatsoever to do with Islam, apparently due to the title, many a stalwart friend of Islam leaped into the breech to defend what had not been impugned in the first place. Now I know what Charles Johnson feels like.

But since agitated and defensive Muslims (and their reflexive yes-people) have taken my assault on coercive feudal social practices in general to be an assault upon them, I am forced to bring up a few odds and ends from the news.

Egypt is one of our allies in the Middle East; they are held to be moderate. Yet the state-owned Egyptian television is set to broadcast this:

    “We don’t think government TV stations should be broadcasting programs that we consider racist and untrue,” a senior State Department official said on Thursday.

    “It is a series … supposedly on other topics, but that incorporates or is based on these odious protocols, the Elders of Zion. We have raised it with (Egypt and) other governments,” said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.

    The 30-part series “Horseman without a Horse” tells the story of an Egyptian man fighting British imperialism and Zionism in Palestine in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

    It draws on some elements of the Protocols, a forged document purporting to prove Jews plan to dominate the world.

    Egyptian television plans to broadcast the series during the fasting month of Ramadan, when television audiences peak.

Speaking of hate: The Protocols is a forged document created in Russia near the turn of the last century to deflect criticism away from the czarist government and onto the Jews. It is hate speech pure and simple, and it was created for the sole purpose of inciting hatred against Jews.

    The Anti-Defamation League, a New York-based group which tracks anti-Semitic activities, said: “Once again, the Arab media is demonizing Israel and Jews, and no one is speaking out. Arab leaders must put a stop to programming that appeals to ignorance, hatred and anti-Semitism.”

    Jewish organizations said on Thursday that Jews in the Washington area would rally outside the Egyptian Embassy on Monday in protest at the television series.

I call to my Muslim friends, if you are against hatred and falsehood, especially falsehood created for the express purpose of inciting hatred, then attend Monday’s rally – speak out against hatred and religious intolerance.

    “The show advances a false and ugly conspiracy theory about Jews that has fanned the flames of hate and persecution for more than a century,” they said in a statement.

    “The production of this show, which was approved by the Egyptian Ministry of Information, is in breach of the 1979 Israel-Egyptian peace accord, which calls on both sides to prevent incitement against each other,” they added.

    Jerrold Nadler, a Jewish Democrat who represents a New York district in the House of Representatives, on Thursday circulated a letter to other members proposing to cut off all U.S. military aid to Egypt, worth about $900 million a year.

    He said the cut should last until the Egyptian authorities “have begun the road to peace with, and understanding of, other nations, cultures and religions.”

    Egypt made peace with Israel in 1979 but relations between Egyptian and Israelis have fluctuated according to the state of talks on peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

    Egyptian Information Minister Safwat el-Sherif has denied that the series includes anything anti-Semitic.

And speaking of denial:

    Makers of an Egyptian TV drama to be aired in November have rejected accusations by Israel, the United States and Jewish groups that it is anti-Semitic and incites racism.

    ….The series, “A Knight without a Horse,” tells the fictional story of an Egyptian who fights British occupation of Egypt from 1882, then in 1906 stumbles on what the story says is a secret scheme for global domination drawn up by an international Jewish movement.

    “He discovers there is a plan to oppress the whole world,” Mohamed Baghdady, one of the scriptwriters, told Reuters. The hero distributes the text among his fellow resistance fighters, finding himself pursued by those who guarded it.

    The text is the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

    ….The serial does not try to prove or disprove the Protocols,” Baghdady told Reuters. “I found this text for sale in the shops and I don’t say whether it is true or false.

    “This is an imaginary television drama — it doesn’t assume that this happened in reality,” he said.

    He said the Protocols occupied only part of the 41-episode series, which is due to be screened on two Egyptian channels — one state-owned and the other privately owned.

To appreciate this situation, simply put the shoe on the other foot: imagine that Israel aired a show over Hanuka based upon a book that stated as fact that Islamists were out to takeover the world. How would Egypt and Muslims in general react? They would scream and yell and whine about hate and lies and intolerance and ignorance, wouldn’t they? (I won’t even bring up the inconvenient fact that Islamists DO want to take over the world). And remember, Egypt is held to be a “moderate,” not an “Islamist” country.

So that’s what a moderate Muslim country is up to. Let’s look at what some clear Islamists have been doing – this is from yesterday:

    The British government has added four al-Qaida-linked groups to its list of banned terror organizations, including a Southeast Asian group suspected in the deadly Bali bomb attacks.

    Issuing an order to ban the groups, British Home Secretary David Blunkett said the four had “discernible links” to al-Qaida.

Remember them? They killed a few thousand Americans, including Muslims, about a year ago.

    The House of Commons on Wednesday outlawed Jemaah Islamiyah, suspected in the Oct. 12 attacks on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, along with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan; the Philippines’ Abu Sayyaf group; and the Lebanese-based Palestinian militant group Asbat al-Ansar.

    The House of Commons vote followed Blunkett’s draft order under the Terrorism Act 2000. It now bans 25 alleged international terror groups, making membership in and support of them illegal.

    Blunkett told the Commons the action would send a signal to terrorist organizations that Britain would deal swiftly with groups “that are committing terror across the world.”

    …Jemaah Islamiyah seeks a Muslim super-state in Southeast Asia and is suspected in the Bali bombing that killed nearly 200 people on Oct. 12.

    The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan wants to overthrow the government of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, which blames the group for a series of bomb blasts.

    Last fall, the U.S. government designated the movement as a terrorist organization. Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim militant group, has carried out repeated kidnappings and killings in the Philippines.

    Asbat al-Ansar, a Sunni Muslim group based in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, is also on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations.

I’m not saying these groups represent Islam, but they have taken the name of Allah in vain. Speak out against them. Condemn them unambiguously. Speak out against these terrorists as you would against Jews or Christians who behaved the same way.

Islamic militants have been busy in Afghanistan as well:

    A handwritten letter discovered in this village just south of Kabul on Saturday appears to confirm the opening of a sad new front in the struggle between Afghanistan’s American-backed central government and remnants of the Taliban.

    Tacked to a dying tree, 50 yards from a girls’ school attacked Friday night, the anonymous letter urges Afghans to rise up against American forces who have “occupied” Afghanistan and “made our Afghan sisters their servants and slaves.”

    “We call on all the countrymen to save their clean sisters and daughters from this infidel net,” the note reads. “Stop carrying out the plans of the Americans, or you will face further deadly attacks.”

    The girls’ school was one of four damaged late Friday in remote villages just south of Kabul. At each site the same letter was found, signed by “the hero Mujahadeen of Afghanistan.” It was not clear if that was a general reference or the name of a new group.

    ….the well-coordinated timing of the attacks, and the copy of the letter obtained today by The New York Times, appear to confirm that Islamic militants have begun a campaign against the education of girls.

    The Taliban, with their doctrinaire interpretation of Islam, outlawed most forms of education for girls and women.

Now let’s get really moderate. The website discussed next is held to be as moderate as they come in the Middle East. It’s based in Egypt:

    Inside a run-down building in a middle-class Cairo neighborhood, a hybrid group of eager young dot-commers and idealistic religious messengers produces one of the Islamic world’s leading Web sites, Islam-Online.net.

    “We all consider this an act of jihad, how to liberate people’s minds from ignorance,” said Ahmed Muhammad Sa’ad, using “jihad” in its sense of spiritual struggle. Mr. Sa’ad is a recent religious school graduate and a prize-winning reciter of the Koran who helps channel readers’ requests for religious rulings, or fatwas, to Islamic legal scholars around the world.

    Islam Online says it wants to present a positive view of the faith to non-Muslims, to strengthen unity in the Muslim world and to uphold principles of justice, freedom and human rights. Scholars of the region say they see the Web site as a leading example of efforts by moderate Muslims to push for the Islamization of societies by nonviolent means.

Hmm, so even the moderates want to make societies more Islamic. I don’t want them to become more Christian – I want them to see the wisdom and necessity of separation of church and state. That’s the kind of moderation I am looking for.

    Islam Online and Al Jazeera are both feeling the influence of an Egyptian-born cleric, Sheik Yusuf Abdulla al-Qarawadi. In addition to acting as the Web site’s spiritual guide and chairman of its board, he has gained prominence through a regular call-in show on Al Jazeera, in which he expounds on theological topics and answers questions about Islamic practices and principles.

    He has given mixed signals on the subject of women, saying that nothing in the Koran forbids their voting or driving but that a woman’s main role is as a mother.

    Sheik Qarawadi, who has a history of anti-American views, condemned the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as a “heinous crime,” saying on the Web site that the killing of innocents is a “grave sin” under Islam. But the sheik also condemned Egypt’s leading Muslim scholar for rejecting terrorist attacks that killed Israeli civilians. The perpetrators were fighting colonizers, he said, and in Israel all men and women are “soldiers.”

    But Mr. Sayed, the site’s deputy editor, said that Islam Online was by no means a mouthpiece for the sheik. He, like others interviewed at the site’s offices, emphasized that it was a vehicle for a broad range of mainstream Islamic views.

    “I have this idea about sharing the principles and concepts of Islam with humanity,” he said. “We are defending justice, not only Muslims.”

I do not believe it is moderate, or reasonable, or just to label all citizens of Israel as “soldiers” and thus fair game for murder.

I realize this burden of guilt by association can make perfectly reasonable Muslims defensive. The answer? Loudly and firmly disassociate yourself from the violence, the hate, the lies, the conflation of church and state, the intolerance of other religion and cultures, the arrogant assumptions of exceptionalism. Then there will be nothing to be defensive about.

One last thing – how do Americans feel about Islam? ABC and Beliefnet just took a poll:

    A surprising new ABCNEWS/Beliefnet poll shows that after starting out surprisingly tolerant, public opinion of Islam has become more negative.

    The percentage of Americans having an unfavorable view of Islam has jumped from 24 percent in January 2002 to 33 percent now.

    The portion of Americans who say that Islam “doesn’t teach respect for other faiths” rose from 22 percent to 35 percent.

    A total of 73 percent of Americans do not feel they have a good basic understanding of its beliefs and tenets, and that, too, has risen, from 61 percent last winter. This suggests that any additional information people have gleaned about Islam has confused more than clarified.

    ….Why did public opinion shift?

    The most significant moment in 2001 on this issue was when President Bush stood before the nation just days after the Sept. 11 terror attacks and declared, “Islam is a religion of peace.” He followed that up with a series of symbolic gestures: hosting a Ramadan dinner at the White House (a first) last November, posing for pictures with the Koran on his desk, inviting American Muslim leaders to his office, and visiting a Washington mosque.

    Since most Americans knew little about Islam, Bush was, initially, America’s teacher. He did it for a mix of practical and idealistic reasons. In diplomatic terms, it was crucial that the United States gain support from governments like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. To get that support, it was important that the war on terror not be viewed as a war on Islam.

    But even before his election, Bush had made a point of reaching out to Muslims. When he talked about religion during campaign speeches, he invariably referred to “churches, temples and mosques” a rhetorical innovation not before embraced by presidential candidates of either party.

    But conservative Christians were quietly unhappy with Bush’s posture. One group, the Virginia-based Family Policy Network, encouraged members to “thank Franklin Graham for his faithfulness to Christ in the face of criticism.”

    ….It’s important to distinguish between Graham and other Christian leaders. Unlike Robertson and Falwell, Graham is thought to represent the mainstream evangelical base, one of Bush’s crucial voting blocs. Graham’s comments signaled how unpopular Bush’s Islam-is-peace line had become with this important political group. There was no political cost to Bush after his initial statements; they were viewed as necessary comments to win the war. A direct rebuttal of Graham, however, could have alienated some of his supporters.

    On the other hand, it could be argued, a wartime leader needs to be more politically courageous. Bush had plenty of political capital to spend but chose not to. What’s more, the comments from Robertson gave Bush an opportunity. While Graham is a popular figure in evangelical circles and neutral with the general public, Robertson is relatively uninfluential with evangelicals and unpopular with the general public. Bush could have disagreed with Robertson, showing his opposition to extremism on all sides, without alienating his base. His unwillingness to do even that exhibits an extreme caution, and some would say, political cowardice, on Bush’s part.

I agree with this statement – Bush should have condemned the attacks on Islam in general from evangelical Christian leaders, especially nuts like Falwell and Robertson. It is important for him to speak for those millions of Muslims who do practice Islam as a religion of peace. But there is also this:

    There is another factor: Muslim leaders themselves. They, like Bush, asserted over and over that Islam was a “religion of peace” and that “Islam means peace.” There was a cognitive dissonance between these simple assertions and a continuous stream of suicide bombings in the name of Islam. Conservative scholars and religious leaders cited verse after verse from the Koran showing a violent streak. Though many were taken out of context (and were comparable to verses in the Old Testament of the Bible), they nonetheless were effective rebuttals, at minimum, to the claim that “Islam is a religion of peace.”

    Reacting to the Muslim Reaction

    Meanwhile, polls came out during the winter showing that Muslims around the world believed Israel was partly to blame for the attacks; even a few respected American Muslim leaders echoed those statements.

    Muslim leaders maintained that Osama bin Laden was an aberration, a single twisted soul distorting Islam. But the reality is something more disturbing – that Islam is now being used as a justification for violence – not by a few, but by many. Though many Muslim leaders criticized the terrorists, few stated that the problems with Islam’s misuse were dangerously widespread. As a result, Muslim leaders may have lost some of their credibility.

    During a dinner in early October sponsored by the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, Judith Kipper chastised Muslims for not saying and doing more. “There is a need now for Muslims in America to stand up and be accountable,” said Kipper, an ABCNEWS consultant and director of the Middle East program of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Keeping your head down isn’t going to work anymore.”

    American University professor Akbar Ahmed admitted as much: “For the first time in history, Muslim civilization is on a direct collision course with all the world religions.”

    Ahmed said that at this point, he is aggravated that many Muslims won’t acknowledge this. “After Sept. 11, there was this mantra, ‘We are peaceful, we are peaceful.’ After Muslims killed 3,000 people, it makes no sense to me.”

    Though probably a mistake, the posture of Muslim leaders was understandable in one sense: American Muslims live in constant fear that antagonism would turn to harassment or violence against them. And indeed, since Sept. 11, 2001, there have been numerous instances of violence against American Muslims, so a defensive posture is not at all surprising.

    But Ahmed, a former high commissioner of Pakistan to the United Kingdom and an expert on bin Laden, said Muslims must overcome that posture. “I feel a sense of sorrow and embarrassment,” because, he said, “We are at the bottom of the pile.”

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About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted, Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.
  • Eric Olsen

    I disagree entirely with the notion that it doesn’t matter if the “Protocols” were forged: they have been used for over a century to justify and whip up anti-Semitism and murder. I would say this is rather relevant.

    Re Islamic states, unlike Israel, the lone Jewish state, which is also a democracy, there are MANY Islamic states so that statement makes no sense. Israel has grown only because it has been attacked from the outside (and the inside of course, but that’s another matter) and won each of the wars in which they have been attacked.

    I would say your view is rather skewed, Faisal.

  • Whether “the protocol” was forged or not, is not meaningful. Clearly, many Jews have their eyes on a much wider Jewish state than exists and Israel has gone way beyond its original gifted boundaries, where the “west” (US & UK) gave historical multi-ethnic, multi-religious land to a specific religious group.

    The Zionist Jews, even if only a few, have carried all Jews, Israel, and the US in a religious war against the world.

    Why is the US, while clearly stripping religion from government to be replaced by economic materialism, pushing so hard to further the cause of a self-proclaimed religious state?

    If an Islamic religious group tried to form a country, watch out for the cruise missiles. A bunch of Jews, send them cash and arms.

    The Jewish and their US cohorts in power positions of media and government (take a look, they are everywhere) threaten the stability of the world far more than Islam.

    That said, thank you for having this forum and letting me post.

  • Whether “the protocol” was forged or not, is not meaningful. Clearly, many Jews have their eyes on a much wider Jewish state than exists and Israel has gone way beyond its original gifted boundaries, where the “west” (US & UK) gave historical multi-ethnic, multi-religious land to a specific religious group.

    The Zionist Jews, even if only a few, have carried all Jews, Israel, and the US in a religious war against the world.

    Why is the US, while clearly stripping religion from government to be replaced by economic materialism, pushing so hard to further the cause of a self-proclaimed religious state?

    If an Islamic religious group tried to form a country, watch out for the cruise missiles. A bunch of Jews, send them cash and arms.

    The Jewish and their US cohorts in power positions of media and government (take a look, they are everywhere) threaten the stability of the world far more than Islam.

    That said, thank you for having this forum and letting me post.

  • WaWiX

    It is sad when we catergorize people by religion and when people choose freinds, groups, etc based on religion.

    Like here in Indonesia, they took Abu Basyir into custody, his followers rioted against police. It is also common in Indonesia for people to be paid to join demostrations, so we dont know which ones were really his true followers.

    Muslim leaders of this country spoke out against the way he was handled, ‘how they could do this to a muslim?’, they were saying.

    It is sad that because Abu Basyir is a criminal that happens to be a muslim, or a muslim that happens to be a criminal, muslim leaders are immediatley condemning this as an attack against islam. They dont see that he is a CRIMINAL, but that he is a muslim.

    Jabba the Tutt said it the best, “True faith should be a private matter between yourself and your conscience, counselor, god, etc.” Personally, I like to see what positive parts of each religion I can relate to, whether that is Islam, Hindu, Buddha, Christian, etc.

    So I hope that everyone, including muslims, can see each person for what they TRULLY are, whether they are a genuine, caring, sensitve person or a heartless, murdering criminal, look beyond the label they’ve been given with. Like the Palestinian children being taught about suicide bombs, they dont know right from wrong. They are robots being feed the wrong information.

    Here in Bali, people are hoping for the best in the future. People here arent attacking Islam, but are believing that God will guide us all back to happy days and protect us from anymore evil.

    It wasnt long ago that people were victimizing asians for the Vietnam war. It seems we have a new trend now. Haven’t we learnt yet?

  • Brad

    Then how does John Carpenter’s “Vampires” fit into this, seeing as according to Mr. Carpenter Vampires were created by the Catholic Church? If you want to talk about taking misleading information and making movies, television shows, books, etc. out of them, The Catholic Church takes as big of a pounding as anyone, and what’s more, they do it on every major network and magazine. What if someone was making fun of Jewish people on David Letterman? The only way it would fly is if he was Jewish. The fact that Catholics get dumped on is not so surprising, what is surprising is that it is totally, 100% PC and socially acceptable for people to do so.

  • Zack

    About arranged marriage, as a Muslim who was born and raised in a non-Arab Muslim country, I have seen all kinds of arranged marriages. They range from the family arranging the chance to meet prospective brides in cultures where there is not much intermingling of sexes to the bride and groom meeting for the first time on their wedding day to forced marriage. In my opinion, the whole concept is wrong. I have also heard a lot of arguments from defenders of arranged marriage that it results in fewer divorces which I believe is disingenuous (sp?) since those cultures do not allow people, especially women, the freedom to do what they like.

    Do arranged marriages have anything to do with Islam? I am not a religious scholar, but I believe that although it is more cultural (since it is prevalent among all religions in Asia & Africa), it IS usually justified in the name of religion. So even if it is not supported by Quran, in most peoples’ minds it is part of Islam.

    As you go up the economic and education ladders in those countries, the prevalence of arranged marriage, especially its objectionable varieties, decreases a lot.

    Now on to bigger things than arranged marriage. After the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, I have seen a lot of demands among warbloggers for Muslims to speak out against OBL and his ilk. I understand this demand and consider it necessary for moderate Muslims to act against extremists everywhere, something that is not happening much and even when some Muslim governments (as opposed to people) are taking action they are going about it in a bad way by imprisoning people without trial, torturing them, etc. (the usual practice in those dictatorships.) The only difference from before is that now we in the US like their actions since they are against our enemies.

    I don’t deny that there is a lot of anti-semitic sentiment in the Muslim world nowadays. There is a lot of anti-US sentiment also. Fundamentalist Islam is on the rise everywhere except probably Iran. People in Muslim countries are getting a very raw deal from their governments. However, instead of trying to better conditions a lot of them are latching onto hate. However, we should also remember that the news we get from the Muslim world is somewhat distorted (just like the news/info I got about the US when I lived there had very little to with the reality in the US). People there may not like the US but they are more concerned with their survival. In my opinion, we should let them live as they want (if they want to be religous and not like the US, so be it) as long as they remain within limits. This obviously applies to the general populace and not terrorist groups.

    On a more personal note, I sometimes find the demand for condemnation of the fundamentalists on the blogs to be problematic. I read blogs (both left and right) regularly and I find the repitition annoying. In real life, nobody has ever asked me to condemn terrorists I guess because they know me and my views in general.

  • Paul Graf

    Thought you might be interested in this answer from IslamOnline.net in the interestingly entitled Fatwa ” ‘May Allah Curse all Americans’ Never Say Amen!”

    — (quoted material begins) —
    But here comes the question: How then would one explain the attitudes of some Muslims who pour rain of curses on non-Muslims, the Jews and Americans in general?

    Regarding this, it is to be stated that every occasion dictates a special way of behaving. At times of peace, it is better to supplicate Allah to guide disbelievers. But at wartime, the reality dictates supplicating Allah to grant Muslims victory over warring disbelievers, just as they themselves would normally do, seeking victory in the war they launch on Muslims. This is the normal course of war. On supplicating Allah to turn their wives into widows and their children into orphans is no more than a supplication for their defeat. It involves supplicating Allah to humiliate the arrogant people and help us vanquish the oppressors. Such supplication should never be construed as seeking the demolition of non-Muslims entirely. Rather, it is directed against the oppressors among non-Muslims, it aims those who launch war against Muslims and against humanity. When people invoke Allah’s Wrath on any non-Muslim country, like the US or Israel, this is merely an outburst of anger filling their minds towards inhuman acts or schemes of oppressions orchestrated by both two countries against innocent people. So the curses are normally directed to the acts and their perpetrators, not to innocent people who have no hand in such crimes.
    — (quoted material ends) —

    In other words, instead of requesting that the Big Guy Upstairs correct the stupid infidels’ erroneous ways, it’s better to just let it all hang out and send a screed up to Allah the Most Gracious and Most Merciful asking Him to turn all of the infidels’ women into widows and children into orphans. Makes sense to me — sounds like just the kind of thing a gracious and merciful supreme being would be likely to do.

  • Ann Observer

    Darleen’s closing quote reminds me of Steven Weinberg’s trenchant observation: “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion.”

    While perhaps not unexceptionally true, this is true enough … and sad enough.

  • Eric Olsen

    Quite thoughtful, touching, and poignant – thanks Darleen. The rabbi quote about rain is very deep and insightful. Thanks for taking the time and effort.

  • Darleen

    I’ve done quite a bit of pickup reading here to get up to speed. I was amazed at comments to Eric’s original post; so many seemed bound and determined to blow the nit up to the size of an elephant and beat it to death.

    At least, Eric, here the Islamists can’t aggitate to have you put on trial for “defaming” their religion as is/was being done in France and being pursued in England. [Note: yes, “Islamist” is a real word meaning a specific group — aka Islamofascists.]

    Ah, the Anecdote Moment … several years back I was a friend with a woman from Kuwaiit (our children were in high school band). She was a cheerful, positive, hardworking mom. Married 22 years with 4 children. Her husband died suddenly in the 2nd year of our acquaintance. In the ensuing months she found herself at a cultural crossroads. She confided her marriage to a much older man had been an arranged one. She never really gave much thought to things like “love” or “romance.” Those were not the priorities she was raised with. Duty to please the family and to be a “good wife” was something she, as a female, was inculcated with. Her feelings, her desires, were all to be sublimated to her family, then her husband, even to her children who were the “property” of her husband. Now, suddenly, she was Single in America. When she started dating, her oldest son, all of 17 at the time, was aghast. He figured HE was now the head of the house and his role was to rule his mom.

    oops… another subject for another time!

    Eventually, mom met a very nice American widower and married him. She confessed to me she had never been “in love” before, she had no idea through 22 years of a “good” marriage what a black hole there had been in her life until she met her new husband. She could hardly express the joy she felt at actually being treated as a valuable and equal partner, not an unpaid servant and broodmare. She vowed never to return to Kuwaiit to subject both her daughters and sons to a culture that valued males and devalued females.

    BTW…she was not a Muslim, but a Coptic Christian.

    Can arranged marriages “work”? Yes. Are they preferable to going the admittedly risky, fraught with drama, individualistic (and adult) way of meeting one’s own partner and establishing a loving relationship? IMO..absolutely NO.

    One last thing in regards to moderate Muslims being strangely silent about the atrocities committed by their fundie brethren — Dennis Prager has a wonderful article When Silence Isn’t Golden.

    “Whatever our religion, we who are religious need to acknowledge that religion does not guarantee goodness. The sobering truth is that it is quite possible to believe in God, in Allah, in Christ and do great evil. A major 18th century rabbi, the Gaon of Vilna (“genius of Vilnius”), compared the Torah, the book he believed was dictated by God, to rain. Just as rain, he explained, produces both beautiful flowers and poisonous weeds, so, too, religion can produce both beautiful and poisonous human beings.”


  • Eric Olsen

    Sameer, I don’t believe it is “arrogant” to express your opinion on something. All I said was that I think the free, uncoerced ability to meet and form a relationship with whoever you want is a core element of modern democratic life. If people wish to allow themselves to be arranged for by their relatives, friends or a retarded TV show, that’s their business.

    “Voluntary” – and I mean truly voluntary and not obligatory just beneath the surface – is the key here.

  • sameer

    This so-called “rebuttal” is pointless. You don’t address the core idiocy of your prior post. You arrogantly claim that western courtship and dating rituals are somehow superior to traditional arranged marriages. You even have the gall to equate arranged marriage with genital mutilation.

  • Brian Jacks

    Except, Dorothy, the current wave of Islamic violence is committed by Muslims who are doing so explicitly due to religious principals or religious-motivated reasons. They are an increasingly growing part of the Islamic movement, and it’s up to their fellow Muslims to discount them and push extremism to the side. That hasn’t happened yet.

  • Dorothy

    I wish people would quit automatically labeling people who happen to have been born in certain regions as “Muslims”, “Christians”, etc.

    On the other hand, those who do violence in the name of a religion should be called “criminals” because that’s what they are, same as those who do violence for any other reason. Don’t call them “Muslims” any more than racist sociopaths who bombed a synagogue and murdered some gay people should be called “Christians”.

    I don’t identify as a “Christian” because I do not feel a part of and cannot believe in any of the religions and organizations known as such.
    By some accident I happen to have been born in a country with large numbers of people calling themselves such — but that doesn’t make me in the slightest a “Christian”. Some of my family members did so believe, and from the earliest age I was taken to churches where in spite of learning to sing (and enjoy) over 200 hymns and gospel songs I never really believed what they professed to believe. Later we went to some other churches that professed other ideas but while again I loved the music, the ideas did not make sense to me, nor did they comfort my earthly afflictions.

    How many people really, truly believe in the myriad of so called “Christian” religions anyway? And it’s impossible to tell how many of over a billion persons all over the world who get labeled as “Muslims” actually believe literally in the Koran and/or ever attend a mosque. Doing so, even regularly and for years, doesn’t mean someone really believes in it. Many are simply trying to please their parents or other family members, or hoping it will help their children find strength to cope with life, and otherwise would never go. Others go just for the socializing. (Or the music, at least in many “Christian” churches. The only thing I can find meaningful about Christian churches is they usually have better music than other religions! Were religion a matter of “the best music”, then I’d be a Christian for sure.)

    “Religion” for the vast majority of people is really just a sort of ancestor respect and worship ritual, like “pagan” rites are. The same thing is just as true of so called “Jews”, “Hindus”, “Buddhists”, and others.

    Therefore, the word “Muslim” should not automatically be applied to any person because there’s no way of knowing if they really believe in the various teachings and obligations of “Islam” or not.

    It seems to be very important to some people to publicly label themselves as “Muslims”, “Christians”, etc. Why? This is anti-spiritual — earthy, mortal, political, even racist. True faith should be a private matter between yourself and your conscience, counselor, god, etc. Were spiritual beliefs treated in this way instead of with big public displays (and buildings, labels, pride, self-righteousness, arrogance, anger, and bitterness that naturally follow them), we would truly have peace on earth.

  • Jabba the Tutt

    For more from the moderate Muslims at Islam-Online. I emailed them when they put quotation marks around the word terrorists in an article about the Moscow terror attack.

    Here’s what I got back from “Aziz” :

    “As to our use of quotation marks, it reflects the fact that the word is not ours, possibly for a number of reasons. In this case, perhaps it is because we do not believe that Chechen fighters are terrorists.”

    I explicitly asked Islam-Online, what would they call people who captured 800 completely innocent people and threatened to kill everyone of them. They ain’t terrorists according the moderate Muslims.

    Until I read and learned about Islam, I was sympathetic, now I believe Islam is a death cult, designed to produce psychopathic murderers.

  • Eric Olsen

    Good observation Ian, they came from an MSNBC link. At first I was overwhelmed thinking I had to start from absolute scratch in answering them, but it turned out for the best, and I wouldn’t have done this second post otherwise.

    It easy to forget that not everyone reads blogs.

  • I’m curious, was it ever possible to trace back where all the people on the other thread came from? With minor exceptions they clearly aren’t regular blog readers (imagine their reaction to LGF, DailyPundit, or the Rott!).

  • Peter Fiss

    What’s striking to me is that there are so few instances of leading Islamic scholars overseas, and especially in the Middle East, who will confront the so-called Islamic error the Bin Ladenites are committing. Instead they focus all of their energy on how WE misunderstand Islam.

    Islam is not at war with the West. It’s at war with itself. The problem is, the one’s who claim Islam is Peace don’t know it yet. If they don’t do something about it soon, they have little to complain about when the dust settles. Their religion has been hijacked and if they want us to believe what they say, the need us to be convinced that they’re ready to rush the cockpit.

  • John

    Isn’t the phrase “agitated and defensive Muslims” redundant?

  • And oh, those claims of increased violence and backlash against Muslims and people who “look like” muslims, are a little over-rated. Not to be dismissed, but definitely overrated.

  • Perusing through the comments certainly makes it seem as though some of the invective came from people who didn’t read past the title of the post.

    Some of the other comments, from myself included, had more to do with a “one-size-fits-all” criticism of arranged marriages without either understanding or explaining that there is *such* a diverse view of what an arranged marriage is, any broad criticism is bound to be rejected.

    However, Eric can be forgiven, since this is not a one-post subject by any means. I think his attempt was to draw out the practice of arranged marriages in many Islamist countries, that has devolved into a brutal suppression of individual expression.

    I would have to say he succeeded rather well, judging by some of the inflamed outbursts, hehee!

  • Correction, Dawn: they’re only happy when they’re on the attack.

    I would say that the comments on the other post were sophistry, except for the fact that the folks attacking Eric seem to really believe there is no such thing as an Islamist.

  • Dawn

    hmm. shocking – no comments over here. I guess Islamists are only happy when defending themselves against the evil Infidels.