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Creek Running North
July 09, 2005
Liberals in Klan robes
The truly heinous thing, of course, is the horrendous loss of life taken by terrorists of any stripe, whether they're backpack-bomb-carrying teenagers or bomber pilots in billion-dollar planes.
But there's a subsidiary annoyance that gnaws at me increasingly: the demand when a bomb goes off - unless it's one of ours - that all Muslims drop whatever they're doing and condemn violence by Islamic extremists.
Are you white? Or male? Raise your hand if you've formally condemned the actions of Eric Rudolph. I know I haven't gotten around to it, and Rudolph's actions disgust me to the point that I'd find it hard to turn down an offer to compact his septum with a coal shovel. I have lived with Becky for 16 years, and she's Asian, and yet I haven't once heard her formally denounce Aum Shinrikyo's 1995 poison gas attack on the Tokyo subway.
We have been granted the courtesy, by society at large, of the assumption that we abhor acts of mass murder.
But mainstream liberals and racist reactionaries alike have no problem demanding ritualistic condemnations and apologies from Muslims when an extremist splinter of that massive, mindbogglingly diverse religion commits mass murder. And I have to say I expect it from the reactionaries. But I'm naive enough to be stunned when people who claim to be liberals trot out arguments that closely parallel demands for black obeisance issued by the likes of the White Citizens Councils.
And when such people - like the truly execrable "Jen," whose rantings are displayed in the first of those links above - are presented with evidence that prominent Muslim clerics have in fact denounced the murders, and floridly, that somehow isn't enough. The Jens of the world want Muslims to fine-tune their public statements painstakingly, carefully watching to see if they are being obsequious enough. "Dance, Muslim monkeys, dance! The purpose of your public life is to satisfy my desires!"
Somehow, the average Muslim is exempt from the presumption of innocence, not only in deed but in basic human sympathy. Somehow, the intense provocation of US foreign policy is considered off-topic. The Jens of the world ask why Muslims have not taken to the streets to protest suicide bombings. But mass protest sways only those people who are willing to be swayed. Bin Laden would see ten million demonstrators in the streets of Riyadh and wave a dismissive hand. But he's not who the demonstration would really be aimed at, is he? The idea is to have all those demonstrators prostrate themselves, facing not Mecca but Jen.
I appreciate the round of rousing condemnation Muslim leaders have made of the bombing in London. I appreciate the fatwas issued against al Qaeda. And I know damn well they weren't intended for my ears. Those admonitions are meant for the angry young men and women in their communities, one ten-thousandth of whom might be tempted to take up the gun. I presume that Muslims are human beings first. They owe me no apology, bowing, nor scraping, and they do not need to avert their eyes from mine when they pass me on the sidewalk. Anyone who says otherwise might as well don a white sheet.
Posted by Chris Clarke at July 9, 2005 04:41 PM
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Calling the AMA
Excerpt: Hey, as long as some people are calling for a massive denunciation from every Muslim in the world over the London terrorism, I have a suggestion. Let's start small and local. How about if every Republican condemns this guy, Tom Coburn? OK, maybe e...
Tracked: July 12, 2005 07:35 AM
Thank you so much for saying this, Chris. I stumbled across that racist screed last night (I stopped reading that blog a while ago... was just checking in. Great timing) and was horrified. And by other stuff on other liberal blogs as well, basically saying that Muslims that had nothing at all to do with any terrorism had to somehow work to prove themselves to the larger community. Total nonsense.
Anyway, you said everything I wanted to say much better than I could have. Thanks.Posted by: Nanette at July 9, 2005 06:50 PM
Dang. I forgot. I have to apologize to the Muslim world for the British occupation of Iraq after WWI. Did you know we (the British, that is...but you know how it is. All white-skinned English-speakers are the same) used mustard gas on them? I really ought to formally apologize, somehow.
I have to avoid historians. They can so easily come up with mile-long laundry lists of bad things we Westerners have done on every continent, and I haven't been sufficiently contrite for any of them.Posted by: PZ Myers at July 9, 2005 07:11 PM
I second what Nanette said.
Chris, thanks for saying what needed to be said and for saying it so clearly.Posted by: Jenny at July 9, 2005 09:40 PM
Thanks, Nanette and Jenny. I appreciate the good words.
And PZ, don't I know it. According to what my parents have told me, I have English, French, and German ancestors, and probably some Celts in there as well. And so I have to spend the next 1000 years apologizing to myself for the harms my ancestors did my ancestors.Posted by: Chris Clarke at July 9, 2005 10:00 PM
As a Scandinavian, I really must apologise to you guys for that whole Danegeld thing, no harm intended, we just got a little carried away, I'm sure you know how it is.
A superb rant, mr. Clarke. But people like Jen are often neglectable as their cluelessness is so obvious. (Friedman's original column was given the smackdown by Juan Cole, btw.) I'm far more worried about those who really should know better. I've seen a discomforting number of usually rational, wellmeaning commenters demanding that the Muslim world as such denounce the attacks repeatedly and loudly, and don't say anything else.
Here, in Denmark, the main governing (right wing) party yesterday denounced a local imam as "undemocratic" and "supporting the terrorists" for criticising American (and thereby also British and Danish) foreign policy, completely ignoring the fact that before the imam spoke about the causes of terror, he uncompromisingly condemned it in all it forms, saying it was unacceptable and nothing to do with proper islam.Posted by: Bistroist at July 10, 2005 07:11 AM
On behalf of Jens everywhere, I would like to offer a formal condemnation of that Jen's statement.Posted by: redjen at July 10, 2005 07:21 AM
I think I'll just stick to apologizing for Americans for now. That ought to keep me busy for quite a while.Posted by: KathyR at July 10, 2005 08:21 AM
I think I'll just stick to apologizing for Americans for now. That should keep me busy for quite a while.
Hmm. Apparently, I am unable to comment here, as I've tried twice and been rendered invisible both times.Posted by: KathyR at July 10, 2005 08:24 AM
Try refreshing your browser, Kathy. You came through just fine.Posted by: Chris Clarke at July 10, 2005 08:27 AM
Chris! You...you...you made me click on it! The site that must not be named. Or spellchecked.Posted by: KathyF at July 10, 2005 08:40 AM
I don't think they owe any apologies, but I uderstand them giving the apologies from a PR point of view. Redneck Americans, with their 2 nanosecond attention span, need all the reminders they can get that terrorists are not acting on the behalf of all Muslims. (A mosque was recently set fire to in Indiana, so I think a few rednecks need the message repeated).Posted by: DrunkenLagomorph at July 10, 2005 09:31 AM
Related to this is the ongoing meme, sometimes at Lefty blogs, that Arab = Muslim. Not all Arabs are Muslims. Nor are all Muslims, Arabs. That's why the whole "profiling" argument makes no sense at its base.Posted by: Roxanne at July 10, 2005 10:10 AM
so because I'm white and native american should I apologize to myself?Posted by: judgemc at July 10, 2005 10:59 AM
Hell, judge, I think you ought to give yourself back some real estate.Posted by: Chris Clarke at July 10, 2005 11:07 AM
Well, I'm part Irish and part Mexican. I'm sure I owe someone an apology.Posted by: Roxanne at July 10, 2005 12:28 PM
But I did refresh! I did! I swear, you couldn't see me. I was ectoplasm!
grumble grumblePosted by: KathyR at July 10, 2005 01:07 PM
Well, I'm part Irish and part Mexican. I'm sure I owe someone an apology.
Yes. All of us. For the increased popularity of the accordion everywhere.Posted by: paperwight at July 10, 2005 02:35 PM
thank you, Chris, for making such an important point so well.Posted by: Raven at July 10, 2005 02:47 PM
Chris, nothing surprises me much, but then I don't know how much of it is due to me being an ex-con. We were told daily in our own propaganda that all liberals were hypocrites who didn't really respect women, blacks, foriegners, or religious minorities but just used them to gain political power.
So frankly, it's always a pleasant surprise to find out that it *isn't* 100% true, wrt some or all of the above.
(BTW, Jen has shown herself to be a typical privileged jingo-American on more than one prior occasion, and considered herself justified because she's traveled the world and the seven seas, and knows asshole foreigners, and she's a New Yorker so she gets an automatic pity pass. (Personally, every time I see someone claiming that they were treated really rudely in Paris or wherever, I just wonder if they treated the service sector folks there as snottily as their social class treats people like me - I worked counter and tech support for years - and if they were just getting a little less of the typical American deferential grovelling "customer is always right" particularly if said customer is rich, that gets people like me in trouble with superiors for refusing to grovel, and this being interpreted as rudeness. Heh - they never *saw* me be *rude*...))
--Actually, you know, traditionalist Catholics get all huffy and indignant when anyone even remotely suggests that they might ought to feel a little bad about the Inquisition, or even brings it up - even when they're simultaneously rationalizing or justifying it! Still less silences and complicity in the '20s-'30s-'40s.
So no, there's no reciprocity.Posted by: bellatrys at July 10, 2005 02:56 PM
I think it's interesting that in a country whose politics are still informed by the Rebellion of 1860 matters like the Balfour Declaration, the role of Standard Oil in the 1920s, and the Truman administration's ramrodding the creation of the State of Israel are all filed under the rubric "Medieval History".Posted by: doghouse riley at July 10, 2005 07:05 PM
So all it takes are a pair of random bloggers--
"Steve n' Jen" (who opinion is *so important* they can't provide their full names on the blog- gotta keep hidin' from those packs of ferocious liberals)----- to set you off on a hysterical
rant about liberals.
I suggest next time you come back with source(s)
more substantial than "Steve n' Jen" if you want
this site to be taken seriously.
It's always funny to have a pseudonymous poster go off on a rant about people not providing their full names.
Anyhow, Dark Matter, way to read for comprehension. I can't wait to hear your expert takedown of this post.Posted by: Chris Clarke at July 12, 2005 09:59 AM
I am fully aware that not all Muslims are terrorists, and that many are very decent people. However, I believe that this is in spite of their faith, certainly not because of it. Biblical Christianity can mutate--and often has--into something ugly and violent, twisted and cruel. But Islam starts out as a pathogenic meme. Koranic Islam is mental rabies. I apologize for thinking this, but the evidence is clear. For details on this line of thought, I refer you to Sam Harris's "The End of Faith" and the cover story on Salman Rushdie on this month's issue of "Reason" magazine. Look, all unreasonable beliefs that lead to tragic, evil acts are damnable, from atheistic Stalinism to the Roman Catholic Inquisition to various fatwas and jihads. We all have much to be apologetic for. But let's not make the postmodern mistake of pretending that all beliefs are the same, all positions equally worthy of respect, or defense, or apology. Some beliefs, that too often lead to terrible actions, really are much worse than others, and we must be allowed to say so without being cowed by mere political correctness.Posted by: Greg Peterson at July 12, 2005 12:58 PM
Well, hmm. I guess everything I learned about early Islam and its openness to a variety of cultures, and about early Christianity's paranoia and encouragement of ethnic cleansing must, of course, prove your point.
Of course not all beliefs are the same.
But neither are the ways people act on them. Assuming that Muslims are more enslaved to _certain_ interpretations of their faith than Christians (or whatever) are is indeed bigoted. Just because someone is a Muslim is not "proof" that they are a jihadist, no more than being a Catholic means that one is a pedaphile, or being a Christian means that one is a bomb-throwing homophobe.Posted by: Rana at July 12, 2005 03:07 PM
The site that must not be named.
"Fear of a name increases fear of a thing itself."
Well, you know, maybe they need to fudge the spelling a bit sometimes to get the anagrams to work.
Ok, I will go hide now and not come out and annoy normal people until I've finished book 6 - except of course, to go buy book 6 at midnight on Friday. (Well, more like 3 am since at midnight I will be working so that other people can buy the book.)Posted by: Jenny K at July 12, 2005 09:22 PM
It seriously disturbs me to see the ammount of bigotry floating around in liberal circles right now. What disturbs me even more is that so many people don't even question it. It seems to be invisible to them. I'm not quite sure how to make it visible.
On another note, I'm white and non-Muslim but I grew up in the Middle East. I have Muslim friends. I wonder if Jen thinks I need to apologise too for failing to slur all Muslims with an appropriate level of venom, or for actually thinking that the Palestinians might have some valid grievences.
I guess everything I learned about early Islam and its openness to a variety of cultures, and about early Christianity's paranoia and encouragement of ethnic cleansing must, of course, prove your point.
Er, early Christianity was an underground phenomena, heavily oppressed by the Romans. Ethnic cleansing didn't play much of a role til much, much later.
If anything, early Islam was far, far more brutal; Christians didn't have much of a foothold anywhere until Constantine I issued the Edict of Milan in 313 AD, hundreds of years after Christ's death. By contrast, the Islamic armies had already swept out of the Arabian peninsula by the time of Mohammed's death, and they kept going for another couple hundred years.Posted by: Pearsall at July 15, 2005 07:32 AM
So the Shia and Sunni Muslim leaders in Britain have come together to issue a condemnation of the bombing and a call for action.
I will be very curious to see whether those who were previously so vociferous in their calls for such a statement are now equally generous with their recognition that it was made.Posted by: Raven at July 15, 2005 10:28 PM