Monday, November 16, 2015

Applauding yourself in the mirror

I'm going to comment on this post:

i) Ortega sprinkles his post with prejudicial words like "hate" and "Islamophobia." That directly parallels the rhetorical tactics of radical activists who accuse their opponents of "homophobia" and "transphobia." 

In addition, the NYT just did a sympathetic piece on pedophilia. So it's only a matter of time before pedophiles and their enablers begin to accuse opponents of "pedophiliphobia".

ii) One striking feature of the post is the selective empathy of Marcos Ortega. He goes out of his way to identify with the plight of Muslims. But he stereotypes Christian critics as "Islamophobes." 

Ironically, this makes Ortega a subconscious bigot about those who don't share his outlook. It doesn't occur to him to be evenhanded. It doesn't occur to him that if he's going to give Muslims the benefit of the doubt, then he ought to to exercise the same critical sympathy when discussing the perspective of opponents. He makes no attempt to sympathetically consider the issue from their viewpoint. He has empathy for Muslims, but no empathy for critics. Why does he feel no obligation to extend the same understanding to critics? 

It's always funny to see the selective charity of people like Ortega. He's charitable towards Muslim non-Christians, but uncharitable towards other non-Christians–in this case, non-Christian critics of Muslims (as well as Christian critics).

Why? Take secular critics of Muslims like Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins. I suppose Ortega would call them "Islamophobes" and accuse them of "hating" Muslims. But why the one-sided compassion for Muslims at the expense of atheists? Why doesn't that make him an atheophobe? 

Why is he so generous to one set of non-Christians but so ungenerous to another set of non-Christians? Does that mean he hates atheists?

And how does he classify ex-Muslim atheists like Ibn Warraq and Ayaan Hirsi Ali? 

iii) On a related note, who is the target audience for his post? Surely it's not the critics. He's not going to persuade anyone who disagrees with him by assuming moral condescension and defamatory rhetoric. So the post becomes an exercise in self-congratulatory posturing. He doesn't respectfully engage those who disagree with him. He dismisses their concerns as unworthy of serious consideration.

That's his prerogative, but in that event he's praising himself in the mirror, basking in the reflection of his unquestioned moral superiority. 

iv) I knew an Armenian woman whose parents were refugees after the Turks slaughtered her grandparents in the Armenian genocide. There was no love lost when she talked about the Turks. 

What about people who hate Muslims because Muslims murdered their relatives? Should we condemn them? What about a man who hates the stepdad who molested him as a boy? What about the woman who hates her rapist? What about the mother who hates the man who murdered her daughter? Should we condemn them? 

Or should we have compassion for viewpoint of victims? Even if we don't approve of their hatred, we can make allowance for their searing experience. Isn't that a mitigating factor?

I don't hate Muslims, but that's easy for me to say since I'm not a victim. Likewise, they've never done anything horrendous to my loved ones. From 40,000 feet in the air, Ortega can to look down on people who "hate" Muslims, but unless he's been brutalized, that's cheap judgmentalism. 

Now perhaps he'd say those aren't the "haters" he had in mind. If so, then he needs to be more discriminating about his epithets. 

v) Moreover, throughout his post, he simply imputes hatred to those who disagree with him on this issue. He imputes to them the worst possible motives. And he does all that in the name of "love". Again, it's funny how some people are so oblivious to their egregious double standards. 

vi) Some Christians claim to be pacifists, based on how they interpret the Sermon on the Mount. I'm sure professing pacifists are fakes. Their pacifism has never been put to the test.

I think most Christians reject pacifism. But whenever we talk about using tough tactics in war and counterterrorism–suddenly they start quoting the Sermon on the Mount. 

This is pacifism-lite. They reject pacifism in theory, but in practice they quote the Sermon on the Mount just like a pacifist.  

If, however, you are not a pacifist, then many things are permissible that are impermissible of you are a pacifist. That doesn't mean anything goes, but if you are not a pacifist, then the lines will be drawn by your chosen value theory, viz. deontology, natural law, virtue ethics. 

Is Ortega a pacifist? If not, then just quoting one-liners from the Sermon on the Mount will not suffice. If he is not a pacifist, then what's permissible, impermissible, and why? It won'd to for him to wage sneak-n-retreat attacks on fellows Christians. If he rejects pacifism, then how are Christians allowed to defend their dependents? How are Christians allowed to protect their neighbors from aggression? How are Christians allowed to protect their livelihood–without which they can't support their dependents? Does Ortega have workable answers? 

Let's take a concrete example:

The point is not just that many younger French Muslims are increasingly radicalized, but that they potentially have increased access to really dangerous heavy weapons, including automatic rifles, missiles, and even anti-tank armaments like Milan missiles. These are flowing into Europe from nearby battlefronts – in the Balkans, Libya and elsewhere.
There’s an irony for you. The US might (arguably) have problems with too easy access to firearms. But if you want real, heavy, military ordnance, then go to peace-loving Europe.
So how might these arms be used? Could an anti-tank weapon be used to bring down airliners landing or taking off? As we approach the anniversary of our own September 11, might the French be about to face a similar disaster?
Perhaps the most frightening single prospect in the Telegraph piece was this:
The army has made contingency plans for the “reappropriation of national territory”, meaning to win back control of neighbourhoods where the population become hostile to the security forces and where guns are easily obtainable.
And “guns” in this case means Kalashnikovs, possibly backed up by missiles. They are talking about contingency plans for the military reconquest of substantial areas of major French cities, including who-knows-how-many Paris banlieues. I would add that such a guerrilla situation would almost certainly spawn copycat movements in other large European Muslim areas, in Britain, Germany, Sweden, and elsewhere.
Selwood is saying that Salafi Jihadism, following movements like al-Qaeda and IS, will remain as a permanent presence within global Islam. Is he right? Well, “permanent” is a long time, but it is difficult to see any trends in the near future that could make that jihadi tradition fade away soon. Barring miracles, it will be there for decades to come, even if the actual Islamic State was smashed within a couple of years. Our children and grandchildren will have to live in a world where that jihadi force will be an ever-threatening reality.
Let’s think through that “permanent jihad” idea through in terms of ordinary life in North America or Europe. Let me play a little with what I freely admit is speculation. Not absolute worst-case scenarios, maybe, but what we might call plausible nightmares. And remember, access to heavy weapons means that in this instance, the US is at much lower risk than Europe.
Assume that successful intelligence thwarts 95 percent of attempted jihadi attacks (aided by the extraordinary incompetence of some of the would-be Holy Warriors themselves). Even so, let’s project a near-future in which, each and every year, there are perhaps a dozen successful terror outrages in Western coutnries. Twenty killed in a train massacre here, fifty slaughtered in a mall there, three hundred killed when an airliner is brought down at Heathrow or Charles de Gaulle, LAX or Newark. Four hundred French or American children taken as hostages in a re-enactment of the Beslan siege of 2004. Every week, four or five are killed when a jihadi uses his car to mow down pedestrians, or shoots up a college campus or a Jewish community center, or snipes at cars passing on urban freeways. Those “minor” local stories become so commonplace that they scarcely even make national news. They are part of the new normal.
Life changes radically, as security measures pile up. Every visit to a mall, every attempt to board a commuter train or a long-distance bus, demands security measures at least comparable to what air travelers presently face.
Assume further that there is literally no prospect of an end to such chaos: it will not end when the US withdraws its occupying forces from Country X, or indeed from the whole Middle East. As the terror networks are so diffuse and decentralized, they cannot be suppressed by neutralizing a few key operatives. Intelligence agencies can do a lot, in terms of seeking out and using surveillance against potential jihadis, but controversies over infringing civil liberties would mount quickly. So would charges of ethnic and religious profiling.
How would mainstream Americans react to such a world? Mainstream media and established politicians would respond as they do at present, stressing that the terrorists are not authentic representatives of Islam, that the supposed jihadis are unconnected individuals acting chiefly from psychopathology rather than politics. They would sternly condemn any attempt to seek revenge by attacking mosques, and praise those moderate Muslims who struggle against the jihadis.
At some point, though, surely public fury would reach such a peak as to favor harsh repression. That might mean supporting militant or extreme anti-Muslim parties, demanding quite sweeping suppression of Islamic institutions, and removing restraints on law enforcement and intelligence. Condemnations of “Salafi Jihadism” would feed rapidly into attacks on Islam and Muslims as such. That anger would of necessity feed into electoral politics.

Was that penned by an "Islamophobe"? Actually, it was penned by an Anglican church historian who back in 2007 published a book (God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis) that downplayed the threat to the west posed by militant Islam. 

What is Ortega's Christian proposal to avert the scenario that Jenkins portends? What steps should we take to prevent that from happening here?

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