The Left-Hand Screw Turns to the Right . . .
Man of the Left Brian Whitaker warns us that "Most Arab states share Isis's ideology" (The Guardian, October 28, 2014), and then tells us about it:
Compulsion in religion is the ideological foundation stone of Isis and Islamist movements in general. Believing they have superior knowledge of God's wishes for mankind, such groups feel entitled - even required - to act on his behalf and punish those who fail to comply with the divine will. In doing so, of course, they do not claim to be seeking power for themselves but merely trying to make the world more holy.Tell us all about it, Mr. Whitaker. Some of us have long been talking about this problem. Where've you been? But maybe you've also discussed this issue before, too - I can't read everything - and at least you're now talking about it, so maybe the Left more generally is coming around to seeing the Islamist danger.
Bombing Isis and banning Islamist movements may suppress such movements for a while but it does nothing to address the ideological problem. Unless the question of compulsion in religion is tackled head-on, and in a serious way, they [i.e., Islamists] will resurface later or similar groups will emerge to replace them.Exactly right. But how do we address "the ideological problem . . . of compulsion in religion"?
Although freedom of belief is a widely accepted principle internationally, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it is still far from becoming established in the Arab countries. This is true of both governments and society.Whitaker goes on to show various other Arab states with laws similar to those cited by ISIS, but let's turn to another Leftist speaking truth to Leftist power, Jeffrey Tayler, writing "Reza Aslan's atheism problem: 'Fundamentalist' atheists aren't the issue, apologists for religions are" (Salon, October 25, 2014):
Bill Maher's recent monologue on "Real Time" about the failure of liberals to speak out about the routine atrocities and violations of human rights carried out in the name of religion in the Muslim world has unleashed a torrent of commentary, much of it from progressives advocating more, not less, tolerance of Islam . . . . One pundit in particular . . . has busied himself opining on Maher and nonbelievers in general - Reza Aslan, Islam's most prominent apologist of late. Delivered via multiple media outlets, his remarks, brimming with condescension, tinged with arrogance and laden with implicit insults to thinking people, deserve special scrutiny for one main reason: among well-intentioned liberals who don't know much about religion, his words carry weight . . . . Aslan accuses the benighted critics of religion of a . . . grievous misapprehension: the assumption that words mean what they actually mean . . . . Aslan is essentially taking a postmodernist, Derrida-esque scalpel to 'scripture' and eviscerating it of objective content. This might pass muster in the college classroom these days, but what of all those ISIS warriors unschooled in French semiotic analysis who take their holy book's admonition to do violence literally? As they rampage and behead their way through Syria and Iraq, ISIS fighters know they have the Koran on their side - a book they believe to be inerrant and immutable, the final Word of God, and not at all "malleable." Their holy book backs up jihad, suicide attacks ("martyrdom"), beheadings, even taking captive women as sex slaves. This is not surprising; after all, the prophet Muhammad was a warrior who spread Islam by the sword in a dark, turbulent time in history.Wow. Tayler is really speaking his mind on this, but he's done so before, as I've pointed out in an earlier blog entry.
Read the rest of Whitaker and Tayler on your own, if interested - and you should be interested.