Thursday, August 2, 2012

Benevolence, Tolerance, Loyalties, and Duties

When approaching certain problems in sociopolitical analysis, raw intellect is not enough. A combination classical-technical education is not enough. The ability to think both vertically and laterally is not enough. A proper comprehension of the largest problems requires a realization to which few of us ever penetrate.

Reality is inherently indivisible. The universe is a single event.

Every smallest iota of fact, however trivial, and every thinnest tissue of knowledge, however distant it may seem from the nominal focus of one's thoughts, bears to some degree on every question ever pondered by Man.

If there's a better reason to keep your humility front, center, and well maintained, I can't think of it at the moment.

***

A religion, in my understanding, is a system of belief with the following differentiating characteristics:

  • It dictates a mythos -- a theology or supernatural backstory -- that serves to link the destinies of men to a higher (and usually imperceptible) realm.
  • It dictates an ethos -- a code of conduct for believers -- that purports to express the judgment of God / the gods concerning human action.

Without those two facets, a belief system does not qualify as a religion. Thus, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, all of which possess both a mythos and an ethos, are religions. This is despite doctrinal differences among denominations and departures from details of the mythos and ethos by various adherents. Left-liberalism, though many of its followers behave as fanatically as the most fanatic of known religionists, lacks a mythos and so is not a religion. However, we often speak of particular left-liberals as "evangelists" specifically for its religious connotations: that the subject is immune to reason and displays the sort of fanatic devotion that suggests that he's "on a mission from God."

The great majority of all the persons who have ever lived have cleaved to some religion. Being human and fallible, religious persons sometimes -- often? -- depart from the prescriptions and proscriptions of their creeds. Yet we continue to identify ourselves as allegiants of our chosen faiths, implying thereby that the doctrines of those faiths are our principal guides to right action. The societal importance of such identifications cannot be overstressed: By naming oneself an adherent to creed X, one invites others to assume that he will behave in accordance with its dictates, rather than in contravention of them.

Ponder that for a moment.

***

The three major religions of the world at this time are Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. I call them "major" for a spread of reasons:

  • No other religion commands nearly as great a share of the world's public attention;
  • All three claim to descend from a single source: Abraham the First Jew, from whom all subsequent monotheistic thought and development proceed;
  • All three are important ethical forces.

Thus, while it may be argued that Hinduism, for example, claims far more adherents than Judaism, Hinduism has a tiny fraction of the public or ethical significance of Judaism. Its influence on world affairs pales in comparison to that of Judaism.

Christianity and Judaism share a large part of their mythos. Christians revere the Jews as God's Chosen People: chosen to prepare the way for the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and the Redeemer of Man. We differ with the Jews about Jesus's status, but nevertheless honor their place in history and their unquestionable courage and sacrifices in maintaining it. But when it comes to the ethos, the differences are trivial in comparison to the commonalities. Both our ethical systems are founded on what the great C. S. Lewis called the Law of General Benevolence.

Succinctly stated, the Law of General Benevolence commands that we recognize all men, regardless of their convictions or affiliations, as God's highest creations, and therefore must refrain from doing them injury except in legitimate defense against aggression. As Christ Himself put it: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

The critical phrase in the paragraph above: regardless of their convictions or affiliations.

Ponder that for a moment.

***

Courtesy of the fine Vlad Tepes's Blog comes this citation from England's Daily Mail:

When great-grandmother Maureen Holt asked the man behind the counter at her local shop to check her EuroMillions ticket, he told her she had won nothing.

Farakh Nizzar, however, was being somewhat economical with the truth.

For the ticket was actually a 1 million pound jackpot winner....

Nizzar, 30, later phoned the lottery hotline and tried to claim the fortune for himself, claiming he had bought the ticket at the Best One shop....

But Camelot questioned Nizzar after discovering that the winning lottery ticket had actually been bought at a nearby supermarket in Oldham. Realising that he was not the genuine winner, investigators called in the police before launching a hunt for the legitimate owner.

Many of us might be inclined to say "All's well that ends well" and think no more about it. But hark!

The owners of the shop, brothers Mohammed Yasin, 42, and Musood Ahmed, 29, said they were furious at the betrayal of their customers.

Mr. Ahmed said, "He [Nizzar] was talking about buying cars and all sorts. But something didn't sound right. Eventually we sat him down and said if that ticket isn't yours you are in trouble. He swore on the Koran and on his mum and dad's life it was his ticket." [Emphasis added by FWP]

We have a critical question before us: Assuming Ahmed is relating the conversation with Nizzar truthfully, whose actions are in better conformance with the ethical dictates of the Koran, the central scripture of Islam?

***

In contrast with Christianity and Judaism, Islam's ethos does not subsume the Law of General Benevolence.

This is not an arguable point. Islam divides the world into two regions: Dar al-Islam, "the house of Islam," and Dar al-Harb, "the house of war." It commands all Muslims to contribute to the expansion of the former at the expense of the latter, by any means expedient. To this end, Muslims are taught as follows concerning relations with "infidels" (i.e., non-Muslims):

  • Muslims have no duty of honesty or loyalty to any non-Muslim.
  • No non-Muslim may make any demands upon a Muslim, however justified, with which he must comply.
  • In any conflict between a Muslim and a non-Muslim, all Muslims are obligated to support the Muslim regardless of the merits.
  • Deception of non-Muslims, when practiced for the advancement of Islam or in the interests of the Islamic ummah is permitted and encouraged; this is called taqiyya, or in a political context, kitman.
  • When the correlation of forces is favorable toward jihad, all Muslims are commanded to support it as best they may: as warriors if possible, financially or in other contributory ways if not.

A religion that advocates conversion by force and the subjugation of infidels when practicable could hardly maintain any other ethical posture. But the tendency among non-Muslims who do abide by the Law of General Benevolence is to dismiss these things. Especially here in the United States, where Muslims have -- so far -- not been too strident about their superiority and the privileges to which it entitles them, we prefer to say to ourselves that "they don't really mean it," or that "only the extremists go by that stuff."

Hm. Really?

***

One of my favorite entertainments is the F/X cable channel's show Sons of Anarchy. This brilliant series depicts the tensions between law and tribal duty, by chronicling the deeds and internal struggles of a northern California motorcycle club and the "official" legal establishment that sporadically contends with it.

(I've written before about tribes and tribalism, with especial emphasis on their political significance. That essay is powerfully relevant to the subject of this one; you might want to review it.)

By way of backstory to the drama, the Sons of Anarchy's "Redwood Original" chapter, which is often referred to as SAMCRO, has for some time completely controlled Charming, a rural California town. It attained this status by forming an alliance with local law enforcement, whose interests dovetailed to some degree with that of the club. At the opening of the series, that alliance was threatened by tensions within Charming's police department, which were reinforced by local developers' attempts to expand Charming's commerce and open it more fully to the rest of the state.

For four seasons, SAMCRO has stood off increasingly determined attempts by ever-higher levels of law enforcement to break the alliance and the club itself. The perpetual theme of the series has been that loyalty to the club trumps all other considerations. It justifies any and every means of resistance to external opposition, including bloodshed. The dynamic is reproduced inside SAMCRO: differences over strategy and tactics foment divisions within the club that sometimes eventuate in homicide.

This series is a near-perfect dramatization of the political significance of a cohesive tribe.

But note: SAMCRO's cohesion, and the behavior that follows from it, are founded on a sort of fetish, reinforced by the material advantages that flow from a de facto license to break the law in certain circumscribed ways. That's a far cry from the animating energies made available to a tribe whose ethical dictates are founded on the premise that "God commands it!"

***

Allow me to return for a moment to the subject of Islam's condonement of deceit in the interests of Islam. Back in 2006, at my old Eternity Road site, I cited an exchange between members of the Dallas Morning News editorial staff and a group of American Muslims and imams:

Rod Dreher: Do you believe that homosexuals convicted in a sharia court should be killed, or otherwise punished physically?

Mohamed Elmougy: I don’t condone homosexuality. I have a lot of friends, a lot of people who work for me, just so you know. I don’t go kill them. But, you know, I don’t condone what they do outside of work, so long as it’s something not in front of me. So do I condone the sharia? We don’t apologize for our religion. If that is what our religion says, we certainly accept it open-heartedly.

Rod Dreher: But what do you think *should* be the authority. That’s what I’m asking. In an ideal situation, would you like to see sharia law be the basis for law in this country, and how would you reconcile that –

Tod Robberson: Or put it another way. In this country, the law of man takes precedence over the law of God. In your opinion, is that the way it should be?

[garbled answer by heavily accented man, saying something to effect that the law is flexible from country to country, but there are some things that we don’t have the authority to change.]

[Ghassan – did not get his last name]: President George Bush feels that he is inspired by God, and based on that he makes his policies. He made that known to us. [crosstalk] President Bush told us that law made by man is not good enough law, that we should be following God’s law.

Rod Dreher: Just describe to me your view, the Islamic view, of sharia. What role should sharia play in this society?

Mohamed Elmougy: [garbled] I don’t sit up all night thinking what the role of sharia needs to be. All I can tell you is that we as American Muslims, living in a non-Muslim country, are ordered to follow the rules of the country that we live in, no matter how much we agree or disagree with. So do I go after you if you’re homosexual, to try to kill you today? No. We haven’t seen that.

So I think to go focus on that and to leave all the other good things that American Muslims are part of, and that the religion is talking about, and only focus on things that to you sound or feel strange is just not the correct approach. Forget paranoid, it’s just not the correct approach. And it does nothing, as I said, but alienate our children from the society that they’re going to be living in, and die in.

Note the evasions. Note the absolute refusal to confront what has been done to homosexuals in countries under Islamic regimes. Note also the attempts to change the subject to the supposed misbehavior of American politicians. Can we say, with assurance, that the Muslims interviewed above by Dreher and Robberson are being adequately candid and completely sincere about their faith?

Consider alternately this more blatant statement by "Naseem:"

That there will be more muslims in congress ....I have NO doubts. In fact I am waiting for the 1st burka + veil clad muslima becoming a member of congress. The president will hail this as a victory for freedom and a giant leap for "muslima-kind". He expects that she will bring about a paradigm shift...she will...but not of the type that the president expects.

Let's give this ficticious muslima a name for now...Fatima.

Fatima of course will not want to employ men on her staff ...only other muslima...everyone wearing a burka and the freedom of a veil. As usual you peoples may have a laugh for a bit...but the Kafur just cannot imagine the changes...so let me enlighten you:

1) New security procedures will be required...men security officers will not be allowed to see their faces...only other kafur womens.

Wouldn't that be surprising....muslimas coming and going to congress for months...and the men security offices not even knowing what they look like.

2) Rooms for prayer.

3) All meat served in the canteen must be halal, cannot afford to make mistakes here...hell to pay otherwise.

4) New rules for female accompaniment...the husbands must be involved, they will leave their taxi jobs and chauffeur their womens around instead...of course at 3 times thier old salary.

5) Most of all and far more importantly, I think it will the nature of new laws that Fatima and her supporters will try to pass that will fundamentally change America ....forever.

They will be thrown out to start with ...but as more and more Wuslims come on board...the pressure will start to tell....and smaller changes will become bigger ones.....you can see examples of this in other parts of the world.

The richer must pay more tax to fund the poorer muslim...who has 8 childrens...he cannot afford to feed, clothe and school them...so the state must help to stop them starving.

6) Another law that maybe tried is INCREASE immigration from muslim countries (rather than limit it) as a way to "makeup" for all the wrongs that the Amerike has done in the middle east.

7) Creeping Sharia will perhaps lead to allowing muslims to marry more than one woman.

8) Any shootings of innocent muslims will prompt Fatima and her congress supporters to pass new gun laws...to take away guns from the common folks....I can certainly see this happening....innocents muslims cannot be shot ....not in America, it's as simple as that.

9) Help shape foreign policy away from the Israel in order to secure peace in the ME...with all the implications that this carries.

In short Fatima will start an American revolution as no other....she will cut down the kufur at his knees where he stands with the power of the pen.

On the home front the kafur will lose further power over his wild slutty womens as more start to don the burka for fear of being branded a loser.

It is my opinion that the Mahdi will be wuslim in the Amerike congress ...and he will do his best to take the world from Kafur to Wuslim and possibly through to Muslim.

2007 will see this scenario a step closer, the old America is surely doomed.

Oh and before I forget Happy new year.

Compare that to the actual teachings of Islam in the Koran, the sunnah, and the hadith, and render your verdict: Are the evasions and circumlocutions of Elmougy and Ghassan in their interview with the Dallas Morning News the more reliable statement of Muslims' intentions toward their host countries, or would you prefer to trust the outright imperialism of "Naseem?"

***

Hearken back to my opening segment: Every smallest iota of fact, however trivial, and every thinnest tissue of knowledge, however distant it may seem from the nominal focus of one's thoughts, bears to some degree on every question ever pondered by Man.

Review the statement by Musood Ahmed: "He [Nizzar] was talking about buying cars and all sorts. But something didn't sound right. Eventually we sat him down and said if that ticket isn't yours you are in trouble. He swore on the Koran and on his mum and dad's life it was his ticket." That is what's called "hearsay testimony," which is usually accorded zero evidentiary value in a court of law. All the same, let's assume Mr. Ahmed is accurately relaying the substance of the exchange: Did it happen before or after the involvement of the police was known to him?

Given that we have only Ahmed's word for his and his co-owner's reaction to Nizzar's attempted fraud, what seems more likely? Had Nizzar contrived to evade detection, collect the million pounds, and offer to split the take with them, what outcome, reasoning from the doctrines of Islam, would you predict?

I'm sure you see where I'm headed with this. It's about how much trust we should extend toward Muslims, given the aggressively imperialist tenets of their religion and the tribal loyalties it commands.

Muslims in various heavily colonized Western nations -- Britain; France; regions of Holland and the Scandinavian nations -- have repeatedly demonstrated a drive to form exclaves within which no non-Muslim is welcome and the laws of the surrounding society do not apply. Such exclaves are effectively seceding, de facto, from the nations that enclose them. Yet those nations have acted as if there's little or nothing to be done about it.

The "Islamic Two-Step" -- crying "Peace! Peace! We are for peace!" while Muslims oppress non-Muslims wherever politically possible and slaughter them in hundreds of terrorist acts per year -- has numbed some, even as it has demonstrated to others the truth-value of deeds over words.

Hitler made his intentions quite clear well before September 1, 1939. The other statesmen of the West largely chose to ignore them.

Will we?

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