Once again “moderate” Muslims advocate subjugation of women and stoning

Sam Harris already posted this 7-minute clip on his site, but in case you missed it, this Muslim “peace conference”—held in Norway in May to dispel misconceptions about Islam—has in fact reaffirmed the view that Islam is far from a “religion of peace.”

The video, and the audience reaction, is unbelievable.

At 1:07, the moderator asks why the media is always focusing on the supposedly bad tenets of Islam while ignoring those of Christianity and Judaism.  One panelist responds as follows:

“The answer is very simple: Islam is the truth. And Christianity and Judaism are not the truth.”

Can you get any more cocksure or arrogant than that? So much for the claim that religionists are humble.

At about 2:30, Norwegian Islamic leader Fahad Qureshi appears and asks the audience a series of questions.

At 3:30, he asks the audience how many of them are “not radical” but “normal Sunni Muslims.” All raise their hands.

At 3:47, he asks the audience, “How many of you think that men and women should stick separate?” All raise their hands. General approbation for the suppression of women.

At 4:09, Qureshi asks the audience whether they agree that Qur’anic-based punishments like stoning for adultery and other crimes constitute “the best punishment ever possible for humankind, and that is what we should apply in the world.” All raise their hands, and Qureshi approves with an “Allahu akbar!” (“God is the greatest”). In other words, they’re affirming sharia law.

At 5:05 Qureshi asks the audience whether they consider themselves Muslim extremists. Nobody raises their hand. (Remember, these are Muslims who live in Norway.) They again affirm that they are regular Sunni Muslims.

Of course there may be social pressure here, so that everyone in the audience must raise their hands to avoid social opprobrium. Still, this gives the lie to the notion that Muslims, particularly those who live in Europe, are rarely fundamentalists, and certainly do not adhere to the extreme tenets of “radical” Islam like stoning for adultery or death for apostates.

Some of you will say that this is not a representative sample of Muslims. But remember that this is a “peace conference” designed to portray “normal” Islam and dispel media misconceptions. And these are Muslims who live in Norway. They are not the Taliban.

Actually, the media does have misconceptions, but the wrong way around. It seems that much of the media fosters the notion that Islam is a religion of peace, and that those who believe in the subjugation of women, sharia law, jihad, and so on are but a tiny minority of extremists.  In this case, though, the media has it backwards, for the evidence is that “radical” Muslims constitute a substantial fraction of all Muslims, including those who live in Western countries.  It’s time that we realize this and stop cozying up to Islam in the name of interfaith harmony.

The coddling of Islam by mainstream media, and the presence of who cry “Islamophobia” every time that faith is criticized, is a function of “mainstream” Western religion. It is in the interest of all religions to support each other’s delusions, for if you show that one faith is based on no evidence, then you show that they all are.

Islam happens to be the most pernicious faith in the world today, and it’s disingenous to not see that. For one thing, it disenfranches half of its adherents: those who have two X chromosome.

And those who should recognize these dangers, and should criticize vicious Muslims like those in the video above, are the genuinely moderate Muslims. Where have they gone?

101 Comments

  1. gbjames
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    sub

    • jimroberts
      Posted November 3, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      sub

  2. francis
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    //

  3. jaxkayaker
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Just because they claim to be moderates (relative to what scale, we should ask), doesn’t mean that they are. Clearly, their position is an extreme one, but they fail to recognize that fact.

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      But that’s just it. Survey Muslims, and it’s only the tiniest of minorities who embraces Enlightenment values. It is the proto-Humanists amongst the Muslim communities who are the radicals; the broad center of the Muslim world, and therefore by definition the position of Muslim centrists, is misogynistic and embraces Hammurabic retributive criminal punishment systems for those who fall outside of their strict social norms.

      Oh, sure, many Muslims will mouth vague platitudes about how much they value their women. Why, they value them so much they won’t let them out of the house without a male protector! Therefore, Muslims are even more supportive of feminism than Westerners!

      There’re also the claims that it’s not the religion itself that’s to blame for the common barbarity of the Islamic world, but rather culture. Those claims are supported either by cherry-picking out-of-context Q’ran verses that aren’t entirely unenlightened if you squint at them just right, or by pointing out the huge numbers of similarly horrific verses in other holy texts. The first is a non-starter, of course; when the paragon of moral virtue rapes pre-pubescent girls and said rape is used as an example of his virtue, all else is irrelevant. And the second…well, it’s also a universal standard that, the more religious Christians and Jews are, the closer they resemble their Islamic brethren. Orthodox Jewish temples segregate women, and Southern Baptist wives are required to graciously submit to their husbands.

      So, yeah. Not buying it. Sorry.

      b&

      • Daniel
        Posted November 3, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

        Oh, sure, many Muslims will mouth vague platitudes about how much they value their women.

        It’s the tired old dodge of placing women under pedestals.

    • Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      Just like if you were to ask people “are you racist?” no one would actually say yes.

      By their fruits shall ye know them.

  4. Malgorzata
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    One Muslim’s answer to Jerry’s question, where have those moderate Muslims gone: http://hurryupharry.org/2013/10/31/the-quiet-death-of-moderate-islam/

    • stevenjohnson
      Posted November 3, 2013 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      Not a very good link. It seemed for a few moments it would actually address the question, when it noted that there hadn’t been an execution for adultery in the Ottoman Empire for over four centuries, on Qu’ranic grounds.
      This acknowledges that political and social factors, not the inherent nature of Islam, are involved. This website is totally committed to that proposition.

      Then later it noted that Saudi Arabia has spent $87 billion propagating its version of Islam. The issue is where this comes from. I guess really looking at the English and American roles in Saudi would be just too embarrassing.
      After all, the US et al. don’t have a problem with this kind of Islam, they just have a problem with the kind which wants to fight to the US et al.

      In that one trifling detail we find the practical definition of moderate Islam. Saudis are not jihadis against the US, so they are moderates. It’s pretty obvious if you really want to oppose reactionary Islam, singling out individual Muslims in the UK or US is really not much more than an invitation to bigotry. Instead if you really want to cripple the financial engine, you should oppose the US’ support for reactionary Islamic regimes. Really, if you’re willing to let that slide, you’re not really opposing Islam, you’re just targeting Muslims, aren’t you?

      • darrelle
        Posted November 3, 2013 at 9:24 am | Permalink

        No.

      • Posted November 3, 2013 at 9:24 am | Permalink

        I have no doubt but that Malgorzata, Jerry, and I are not alone in condemning Saudi Arabia as one of the worst hellholes on Earth. No place that is so “liberal” with corporal punishment of all types from whippings to dismemberment to executions can even hypothetically be described as civilized.

        Your strawman might carry more weight on Faux News, but here it’s just so much hot air.

        Cheers,

        b&

      • Posted November 3, 2013 at 9:34 am | Permalink

        Instead if you really want to cripple the financial engine, you should oppose the US’ support for reactionary Islamic regimes.

        -Let us not forget to remember the Iranian government and Hezbollah (anti-U.S.) as much as we remember the Saudi and Moroccan monarchies.

        singling out individual Muslims in the UK or US is really not much more than an invitation to bigotry.

        -Nonsense.

  5. Siegfried Gust
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    “The video, and the audience reaction, is unbelievable.” I couldn’t agree more. Even more surprising is that the center panelist commends the moderator saying, “This is the best answer I have ever heard.” It shows how far removed they are from the world around them. They seem to fail to realize that they are painting the average muslim as an extremist.

  6. Diana MacPherson
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    I suspect that any truly moderate muslim would have no interest in attending a “peace” conference with such others and they probably recognized it for what it was.

    One moderate Muslim that does speak out against radicals is Tarek Fatah. I don’t agree with everything he says (he is after all religious) but he doesn’t let anyone off the hook.

    Muslims I have experience with are either extremely secular or not at all interested in what radicals say and avoid them like the plague – this is probably why I know them….radicals would not want anything to do with an atheist like me.

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:27 am | Permalink

      An interesting website I stumbled upon recently:

      http://mpvusa.org/

      • gbjames
        Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:24 am | Permalink

        That is a promising start. I’d rather that they abandon it completely, but perhaps this is a step in that direction. Now, if they can grow their little groups and set up outposts in Saudi Arabia.

  7. Posted November 3, 2013 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    If this is bad, most of the Middle East is even worse:
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/155324/Arab-Women-Men-Eye-Eye-Religion-Role-Law.aspx

  8. Ken Phelps
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    I see the the moderate views of the allegedly average muslim as irrelevant to the situation. This because they have shown a willingness to allow radicals to take over both their mosques and their social face. Moderates whose primary response to violence is to scurry into the shadows and whine about misrepresentation deserve little sympathy.

    If conferences like this are truly unrepresentative, why do moderates not show up in their thousands and drown out the radicals? The same holds true for radical clerics and the mosques they control. Since Islam lacks a central controlling structure, control of, **and blame for**, the visibility of radicals in the street and in the mosque falls squarely on the supposedly moderate masses.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      Probably they are afraid for themselves and their families. Look at Ayaan Hirsi Ali who always has a body guard. It’s the same reasons that atheists in predominantly Christian communities don’t come out x1000 because at least in most cases atheists or their families won’t be killed.

      Governments and atheists need to support the moderate folks and protect them and calling these radicals out is a good start. They are the ones that should be ashamed, not the others.

    • Nick Evans
      Posted November 4, 2013 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      Moderate followers of any interest don’t tend to hand over their money to attend conferences discussing that interest though, do they? You have to be pretty keenly interested to do that. Moderate Norwegian Muslims probably had better things to do with their time, just as people who are moderately interested in science-fiction movies don’t find the time to attend Comic-Con.

      And, naturally, everybody views themself, when asked, as pretty much in the middle-of-the-road.

  9. madscientist
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    The story on the BBC site about the “hip hop imam” is probably more typical and honest about religious bigotry (or ‘bias’ for the sweet-talkers). It is clear that religious institutions still spin stories to make their congregations distrust if not outright hate anyone who’s not part of their sect.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24468337

  10. uglicoyote
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Road.

  11. Faustus
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    There is this nonsense in the Guardian:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/02/saudi-protest-driving-ban-not-popular

  12. Daryl
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    The lack of self-awareness is staggering. Unbelievable.

  13. Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    “At 1:07, the moderator asks why the media is always focusing on the supposedly bad tenets of Islam…”

    It is?

  14. Notagod
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    It would be good to get as large a percentage of all musselmen to answer the questions so that there is substantiated evidence that moderate musselmen are societal degrading extremists. If the extremists appear in certain sects of the muzzled then the moderates will know where to work for change.

    • pacopicopiedra
      Posted November 3, 2013 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      English not your primary language? I have read this comment five times and I still have no idea what you are trying to say. Also, “musselmen?”

      • AdamK
        Posted November 3, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

        Ever read the original Burton “Thousand and One Nights”? He uses the term “musselman” all through it. It’s just a little archaic.

        • Posted November 3, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

          “Musulman” is the word for Muslim in a number of languages, including Farsi, Urdu, French and Spanish (give or take the odd accent)

        • Posted November 3, 2013 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

          I’m familiar with it, but I think it’s inappropriate…like “negro” or “oriental.”

          • Notagod
            Posted November 4, 2013 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

            ‘Ya think?

            Why should I respect people that have no respect for others? I think muzzlemen suck donkey dicks.

  15. Timothy Hughbanks
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    It is very difficult for rationalists to get their heads around the fact that there are many, many people who just don’t think evidence is important in establishing what is “true”. Once that sinks in (and it is a world view that I doubt can ever sympathize with), then the claim that Islam is the only truth isn’t so much about lack of humility – it is far worse. After all, you (Jerry) say all the time that science, broadly defined, is the only path to real knowledge. Reliogionists think you’re being arrogant, I don’t – because I think you’re applying a standard for and a definition of what knowledge is that is basically the correct one. While I might quibble with whether, say, “truths” csn be established in mathematics by means beyond the scientific method, my quibbles don’t have to do with you lacking humility. After all, superiority of the scientific method has nothing to do with you.

  16. peltonrandy
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    sub

    • Jesper Both Pedersen
      Posted November 3, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      2

  17. Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Is it just me, or am I stating the obvious? Islam is (approx.) 600 years younger then it’s closest monotheistic brother Christianity. 600 years ago in Europe, people were doing ghastly thing’s in the name of Christ, the “Prince of Peace”.

    That was (and is) as much horrible BS then as now. If one want’s to be a SOB, don’t drag whatever God/god through the mud for those who “know” what the almighty thinks. Own what you do, good, bad, or befuddled. Hey, those who believe they have a hot line to the creator at best, regardless of ones religion, just look silly. It goes beyond that when there is violence or oppression.
    Then it becomes more then a person’s faith. If one cares about the oppressed whose name we will likely never know, THEY know their name. And I can and will not be silent.

    • Richard Jones
      Posted November 3, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Not sure what you are trying to say but you have three redundant apostrophies.

  18. Lianne Byram
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    I certainly hope that these gentlemen are mistaken in believing that their views are mainstream in their religious community.
    Very ironic that their “peace conference” endorses such horrific violence.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted November 3, 2013 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      They probably think they are moderates and peaceful in a sort of 1984 doublespeak way.

      A former Jehovah’s Witness friend of mine told me she had the best childhood because she was always told that she was better than everyone else because the JWs had all the answers and the rest of the people in the world were wrong.

      I sense this same attitude here.

      • Lianne Byram
        Posted November 3, 2013 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        Yes, they certainly don’t define “moderate” in the generally accepted way.

        • Posted November 3, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

          They’re using it, sadly, in a perfectly acceptable manner: that of “middle-of-the-road.” In the Muslim community, it’s only the fringe minority who actively speaks out against this sort of thing. And, whether out of fear or true belief, the overwhelming majorities express support for Sharia law, even if only as some sort of Platonic ideal in an as-yet-unrealized “true” Islamic state.

          What you’re thinking of is the set of positions that generally get labeled as “moderate” on the Western sociopolitical spectrum. And, yes, of course: Islam is entirely antithetical to that type of moderate thinking.

          But a moderate within the context of Islam is misogynistic, xenophobic, authoritarian, homophobic, violent, anti-Enlightenment religious fundamentalist. Yes, even the man on the street — I’m not aware of any outrage in Saudi Arabia over beheadings and dismemberments and whippings for trivial crimes and that which should never be criminal; indeed, they staunchly support it. Even the overwhelming majority of Saudi women are opposed to women drivers. And Saudi Arabia is supposed to be the shining beacon on the hill in the Islamic world!

          It’s a very, very, very sick society indeed. So should it at all be surprising that the norm in such a society is so antithetical to all we hold dear?

          Cheers,

          b&

          • Lianne Byram
            Posted November 3, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

            Happily the situation with Canadian muslim’s attitudes does not appear to be that dire. Have a look at pages 89 and 92 of this Environics Survey of Canadian Muslims (2006).
            http://www.environicsinstitute.org/instituteprojects/completed-projects/survey-canadian-muslims

            Lots of room for optimism I would say.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted November 3, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

              D’oh the server didn’t want to serve up the content!

              I’m skeptical that radical Muslims would be different in Canada from anywhere else and I’d be interested in reading that.

            • Lianne Byram
              Posted November 3, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

              Sorry link doesn’t work. Guess you’ll have to google it if you’re interested. Cheers.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted November 3, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

                Let’s see if this link works.

                I will have to read through this but I did notice this:

                Although the belief that contact with other cultures is enriching is embraced across subgroups of Muslim- Canadians, the belief is especially strong among those with the highest incomes and those who have lived in Canada the longest. Among those who have been in Canada 16 years or more, fully three-quarters (75%) agree strongly that contact with other cultures is en- riching. The proportion among Muslim-Canadians earning more than $60,000 annually is 73 percent. Disagreement is highest among the least affluent (13%) and least educated (17%); these are the only two groups in which disagreement with the idea of cross-cultural learning exceeds 10 percent.
                Other cultures have a lot to teach us; contact with them is enriching

                And this is a running theme from what I read in regard to the role of women as well. If you are uneducated, you have more insular views (this is probably the same in all cultures, including dominant ones). I don’t know that this is so much a good news story for Canada, the Muslims I meet are educated and open. The ones I probably don’t meet are much different. I suspect Canada has a mixture of both like anywhere. The good thing is that we did not allow Sharia law a few years ago and it was with the support of many Muslims who didn’t want to go down that terrible road!

              • Lianne Byram
                Posted November 3, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

                I bow to your superior computer skills Diana 🙂
                I agree completely that allowing Sharia law in Canada would be a terrible thing indeed. Would be interested to hear your thoughts on the gender equality and pride in Canada parts of the survey. Regards.

      • Sastra
        Posted November 3, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think the danger lies in believing that you or your group “has all the answers and the rest of the world (is) wrong.” It’s in refusing to ever put this to the test.

        One ought to be able to consider the serious possibility of being wrong and seek out and consider other options. So Muslims or JW’s who think they’re the only ones who are right are treading in dangerous territory. Religion eliminates the common ground and Faith turns dogmatism, certainty, and willful blindness into virtues. Arrogance on stilts.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted November 3, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

          Of course if you believe you have all the answers and everyone is wrong, you’d see putting something to the test as a waste of your time so it never is put to the test and those people have a hard time fitting into disciplines that demand such open mindedness. This is often reinforced by limiting education. My former JW friend planned to finish by grade 12 and get a job until she was married. Fortunately, her parents left the JW’s & she went to university and got a chemistry degree.

  19. Posted November 3, 2013 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on π's blog.

  20. Taz
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    From Harris’ column:
    “This is a remarkable document. Read it closely, and you will pass through the looking glass. The organizers of this conference believe (with good reason) that “extremist” views are not rare among Muslims, even in the West. And they consider the media’s denial of this fact to be a symptom of… Islamophobia. The serpent of obscurantism has finally begun to devour its own tail. Apparently, it is a sign of racism to imagine that only a tiny minority of Muslims could actually condone the subjugation of women and the murder of apostates. How dare you call us “extremists” when we represent so many? We are not extreme. This is Islam. They have a point. And it is time for secular liberals and (truly) moderate Muslims to stop denying it.”

  21. Posted November 3, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Taken literally, the Old Testament has similar punishments for “crimes” like sodomy and adultery. The difference is that Judaism and Christianity have been brought to heel by secular authorities. That is the only difference, IMO.

    My belief is that western nations have been enabling Saudi support of Wahhabism and delaying the inevitable secular humanizing of Islam by supporting this horrific government with oil money and military aid.

    The ass-hats in this video could easily be Jews or Christians from centuries ago, empowered by a wealthy king or Holy Roman Emperor, applying peer pressure to claim understanding of God’s authority.

    It’s the fault of the West. (Determinism?) Radical Islam would not be radical without the hubris that comes from money and affirmation by powerful governments. This is sustained by us: our addiction to oil, and support of military despots. We’ve set the humanization back by several generations.

    The things that are inherently wrong with Islam and the exact same things that are inherently wrong with Judaism, Christianity, Mormonism and any religion based on Revelation. One could argue that Islam is the most successful because it has co-opted wealthy backers who have funded and sustained Islam.

    • M'thew
      Posted November 4, 2013 at 2:15 am | Permalink

      The things that are inherently wrong with Islam and the exact same things that are inherently wrong with (…) any religion based on Revelation.

      If I may pick a nit here: what religion is not based on revelation?

      • Sines
        Posted November 4, 2013 at 8:38 am | Permalink

        As I understand it, Buddhism. The Buddha wasn’t told by the gods about how to achieve Nirvana, he just figured it out himself.

        Of course, religions being what they are, I’m sure many Buddhists think he was inspired by the gods, but then lots of Christians think Jesus ressurected in a physical, material body despite Pauls explicit explanation that he didn’t.

        Buddhism breaks the mold of just about every other major world religion, so when you find yourself asking “What religion does that?” the answer is probably Buddhism.

      • Posted November 4, 2013 at 9:40 am | Permalink

        Agree, Buddhism does not claim direct revelation from an omnipotent being. You could also include the ancient philosophical systems like stoicism, cynicism, etc, depending on how you define “religion”. These philosophical schools, or “religions”, claim to follow an empirical system based on their observations and reasoning as to how the world and the human mind work.

      • Posted November 4, 2013 at 11:12 am | Permalink

        Also, many “folk religions” don’t seem to require it either, as they are knit in with other cultural practices. In fact, the idea of having a seperate religion seems to come with literacy. Which of course does not say one cannot comment on specifically relgious elements to larger cultural activity.

  22. Posted November 3, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    How can anyone seriously expect a “Yes” answer to the question “Are you a radical”? It’s like asking someone “Do you believe in something too strongly than you think you should?” or “Do you think you go too far in search of the truth than you should?” Of course everyone will say they are moderate, not radical.

    • Sastra
      Posted November 3, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      True. Which is one reason the Argument from the Golden Middle (“I must be right because my views are moderate and between the extremes”) is such an annoying one.

      Unless someone is angry and making some sort of point (“I am a RADICAL!!!”) almost everyone can and does try to become more reasonable by comparing themselves to someone or something they imagine to be worse. As I recall, the Nazi Death Camps were introduced as a moderate option, one more humane and sensitive than indiscriminately lining bunches of people up against a wall and shooting them with machine guns.

      • jeffery
        Posted November 3, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        I disagree completely: the Nazi “death camps” (the pure extermination centers of Belzek, Sobibor, Treblinka, etc.)were created as a more EFFICIENT means of rapidly killing and disposing of the bodies of large numbers of Jews and other “untermenchen”- most of the other concentration camps were linked to German industries (Auschwitz had gas chambers, but it was primarily used for supplying labor to a vast “industrial park” that sprang up around it) so the Jews would produce something for Germany while being worked and starved to death. The phrase, “Humane and sensitive” has NO place whatsoever in ANY discussion of what the Nazis did!

        • Sastra
          Posted November 3, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

          Well, from what I recall reading the Nazis were apparently concerned at least that the original plan (line the Jews up and shoot them) was causing a lot of distress to their own soldiers, who subsequently developed a disturbing rate of suicide. The death camps were supposed to be more “humane” from that perspective.

          I also seem to remember that the Nazis who came up with the idea for the extermination camps threw in a bunch of toss about how this was going to be easier for everyone, including the Jews and their ilk. That wouldn’t necessarily have been out of character for them, since they were framing their actions as necessary to the health of the whole and quick and relatively painless methods for killing “vermin” had been around for a while. My point isn’t that the Nazis were “humane and sensitive” in any real sense, of course, but that it would have been possible for at least some of them to kid themselves if they really tried.

          • Posted November 3, 2013 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

            They wouldn’t have been kidding themselves. As you note, Jews weren’t human; they were vermin. To them, more “humane” ways of exterminating Jews are no different from our own efforts at humane treatment and slaughtering of livestock.

            Nazi failings generally weren’t ones of logic; this was, after all, the same culture that produced a disproportionate number of brilliant mathematicians and logicians over the years. They were failings first of basic human empathy and morality, and subsequently of faithful privilege of factually incorrect premises. But grant them their inhuman and incorrect premises, and the rest naturally followed, for the most part.

            We see the same with modern religious fundamentalists. If you start with a non-negotiable premise that some sky daddy had a hand in writing a certain book, then the result should be patently obvious.

            Cheers,

            b&

            • Daniel
              Posted November 3, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

              Yep.

              If the initial assumptions are incorrect or incomplete, then it is possible to start from that and, in total rationality, arrive at horrific conclusions.

              Whenever this happens it should be recognized as a reductio ad absurdum against the initial set of assumptions. Too often though that conclusion gets lost amongst the waffle and spin that accompanies these things.

              Everyone wants to treat Hitler and the Nazis as if they were inherently evil, different kinds of minds to mine, because I would never do that kind of thing.

              But that’s wrong. The scariest thing about Hitler and the Nazis is that they were basically indistinguishable from the rest of us in terms of their psychology and biology. The problem was with their ideas.

              From a false or incomplete set of assumptions, disaster can flow all too easily.

              The message we should take home from the horrors of Nazism is that Ideas Matter. So we should be doubly scrupulous when examining or applying our own ideas.

              But all too often the message people take is that Nazis are Pure Evil and should be reviled at every turn. Because We are the Good Guys and They are the Bad Guys. Rah rah rah! Go Team Good Guys!

              The irony that this mode of thinking is exactly what enabled Nazis to commit their atrocities against their victims is entirely lost on the people who hold it. 😦

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted November 3, 2013 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

                I know this is a serious conversation, but I can’t help but think of Mitchell & Webb wondering, “are we the baddies?”. It’s brilliant and in it’s humour speaks to some to the points you raise.

              • Posted November 3, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

                The ideas are PART of the mind, so your whole argument is ridiculous. Some of us would be incapable of torturing Jews. I unequivocally reject the suggestion that the mind of, say, Josef Mengele is the same as mine.

                What makes you think that somebody’s “psychology” is different from that person’s “ideas”?

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted November 4, 2013 at 1:24 am | Permalink

                I’m afraid Jerry, that a whole history of witch-hunts, scape-goating, cross-burnings, inquisitions and persecution of minorities contradicts you. While it may have needed psychopathic and probably charismatic individuals to drive such occurrences, it usually took a whole population of ‘normal’ individuals to go along with it and carry it out.

              • Sines
                Posted November 4, 2013 at 8:50 am | Permalink

                Psychology is the ‘hardware’ to speak, ‘ideas’ would be the software. Some people have a psychology that would allow them to guiltlessly or even joyously execute people. Others would make it abhorent to them. These reactions are innate, they do not have to be taught.

                But ideas can overcome psychology. The thought of killing is abhorent to me, but if I believed it was truly the only solution to a worse problem? I’d pull the trigger and simply have to learn to live with myself.

                The Nazi leaders were probably not so sympathetic. But the average german wasn’t a sociopath, Jerry. They were in a dire straight after World War 1. Hatred, panic, desperation, necessity… these are all things that can lead to people accepting lies to convince them to do terrible things, and they’re all things we feel.

                Even if our minds are different, it is in our willingness to examine our beliefs. Everyone says “I could never do that!” But the simple fact of the matter is that most people are wrong about that. Even if every poster on this site is the kind of person who would have joined the german resistance, the simple fact is that Hitler came to power based on people who agreed with him.

                It means that the average human mind IS like that. And that is worth noting, and should not be dismissed.

  23. Randy
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    “All raise their hands.”

    That is clearly not true.

    While nearly all do, “all” do not.

    Right in the front row there is one guy who sternly disagrees. If you’re quick, you can also catch another guy a few rows back near 4:39 who disagrees with stoning people to death.
    (OK, they’re probably not Muslim of any sort, but don’t say “all” when that’s plainly not true)

  24. Posted November 3, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Atheist .

  25. jeffery
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Of course it was a “peace” conference: any gathering of a bunch of Muslims who are all of the same sect is going to be “peaceful”; it’s only when they are confronted with people who don’t agree with them, including other Muslims of different sects, that they go bonkers!
    The reason you don’t hear much protest from “moderate” Muslims (the term actually means, “Muslims who don’t follow the Koran to the letter”, whom the “extremists”, who are actually the REAL Muslims, consider to not be Muslims at all) is that they’ve seen the true face of Islam, and the long reach of the fanatics willing to harm any who breath a word of dissent.
    I sincerely doubt that any more than a tiny percentage of “Muslims” who emigrate to Western countries do so in order to spread the glorious word of Islam; they are trying to get AWAY from the backward, ignorant, poverty-stricken societies that Islam automatically produces. Trouble is, their “programming” is still in operation along with all of the other mental tricks that the “cult” meme uses to prevent members from straying.
    Does anyone here listen to Pat Condell on YouTube? He tells it like it is, and, of course, is condemned for it.

    • Daniel
      Posted November 3, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      Pat Condell is a sticky one for me, because to my reading he gives a mixture of sound critique and cultural xenophobia.

      I find that a problem when discussing people like Pat is that other people will focus either just on the sound critique and ignore his more problematic commentary, or they’ll focus just on the elements of cultural xenophobia in his videos and dismiss any sound critique without engagement.

      Pat’s a mixed bag.

      • Sines
        Posted November 4, 2013 at 8:56 am | Permalink

        I’ve never heard any of that. I recall that for a while, Pat was well liked. Then he expressed his support for a party that was, from what I heard, the British equivalent of the Tea Party, and then he got a lot of hate. I never heard much from him that was really problematic.

        Admittedly, it’s been a while since I listed to him, and I kinda stopped shortly after the hate started coming in, simply because he didn’t have much new to say. But I never heard anything that sounded racist or biggotted.

        I could just be oblivious, but it seems to me that after declaring his political affiliation, that people assumed his harsh criticism of Islam was due to racism, not ideas. Like if right-wing atheist Penn Jilette started decrying Islam, and people said it was because he was a racism because he’s a right-winger, and not because he’s an atheist.

        *shrug* Again, I could be wrong on this one, but Pat seemed to get a lot of heat, but never for anything that he was ever sourced to have said.

  26. Ramur
    Posted November 3, 2013 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    What most have forgotten is that the Koran states Muslims cannot lie to other Muslims. They can only lie to Non-Muslims! So, this is a sample of Norway Muslims laying down the social law to the Peace Conference.
    In the U.S., 80% of all Muslims want Sharia Law in the U.S. And they left their countries to get away from this extremism. Wrong, they brought it here too. They are on a quest to expand Islamic Law worldwide.

    • Sines
      Posted November 4, 2013 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      I sometimes wonder if those Muslims aren’t like the Puritans who came to America. Escaping religious extremism… so that they are then free to practice their own brand of religious extremism.

  27. Posted November 3, 2013 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    Be very afraid.

    The clip shows behaviour that, if it isn’t there already, will be coming your way soon.

    Not through jihad, but by the same legal means it now appears throughout western Europe.

  28. Posted November 4, 2013 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    This rather angry post puts me in a difficult position of appearing to defend Islam. But I did work for a comfortable three years in an office full of Muslims across from the great Mosque of East London. And I have travelled across many Muslim countries and have filmed the ceremony of the slaughter of the sheep, and have sat and ate with Muslim families kind enough to invite me in. Please allow me some observations without any angry replies.
    • Morality across the Muslim world means something quite different. It is not a belief, it means a deliberate attitude, somewhat aggressive and threatening, designed to pull the social deviants back in line. It is more threat than reality. In the vast spread of the Islamic world, most hesitate at the application of violence. It is the same in France, where the French legal system makes terrible threats of prison which are rarely carried-out.
    • Muslims tend to have an aggressive public face and a more temperate private face.
    • The Muslim attitude to women is dated. We feel it so keenly because somewhere in our recent history we learned a clever (and counter-intuitive) trick where we can live and work beside the opposite sex while deliberately forgetting the sexuality of one’s colleague. Muslim lads are shaking with embarrassment when side by side with a women. They are just too sexually aware. They still cling to rules to prevent accidental encounters because of the failure to adopt the Western trick of dissociating women from their sexuality when in public places. You have to see it to understand it.
    • The exposure of Muslims to the West has had a profound affect upon many of them. They feel that they have had to give 95% of the ground and we have only had to make 5% of the changes necessary to allow assimilation. We know they have a long, long way to go.
    • Every morning in the UK about two million Muslims go to work, in the health services, teaching, transport, and so forth.
    • A kind word with a Muslim usually starts a cheery friendship. I have often leaned on a garden gate and chatted to Mr Mohamed; many of them!
    • Angry opposition to Islam and Muslims does serious harm to on-going thawing of relationships. Best to criticise inhuman actions rather than the people themselves. For me many Muslims seem deeply embarrassed by many of the demands of their religion, and the violent actions of the fundies, but when cornered they cling to it all the more.
    • Over the years I see signs of a greater willingness to adopt the values of the West; a British Muslim group calling for the acceptance of Evolution; an imam calling for the wearing of the poppy of remembrance; Muslim groups advocating human right, and so forth.
    • In the video it seems that they came together to appear moderate, but their inner sense of victimisation leaked-out.
    • Curiously the Christians have an interesting approach to conflict; ‘A soft answer turneth away wrath!’

    • gbjames
      Posted November 4, 2013 at 5:26 am | Permalink

      No doubt the vast majority of Muslims are decent people as are the vast majority of Christians, etc. That doesn’t make Islam any less poisonous. I’m all for cheery conversations at the garden gate with all manner of people. But I’m not so keen on legitimizing medieval beliefs about how humans are to get along with one another. And, after all, a temperate private face is of little use to those of us who need to interact in public where the Islamic aggressive face is shown.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted November 4, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

        Esp when have the population is sexualized, making interactions unpleasant. Their religion has psychologically damaged them in this case and they need to seek help to overcome the damage if they are going to participate in the public sphere. Sadly, their religion instead pushes them further into isolation.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted November 4, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

          have = half (I wrote this on my phone)

        • Posted November 4, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

          The problem isn’t sexualization; women are highly sexualized in the West — just look at the covers of magazines at the checkout counter of all grocery stores from the local Stop ‘n’ Rob to Whole Paycheck.

          The problem is objectification and infantilzation. Women are considered property, and are presumed incompetent.

          I thank Rosie the Riveter for rapidly boosting the States away from a similar (but far less toxic) mindset. We’ve still got far to go, but oh how far we’ve come.

          Cheers,

          b&

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted November 4, 2013 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

            Well yes and men in those cultures are also told that they can’t control themselves so women must be isolated from them whether it’s sequestering in a house or behind identity effacing cloth. Women not sequestered in this way are too tempting and both hated & sexualized. I’ve been on the other side of a hateful gaze with a group of these men & it’s frightening.

            • Posted November 4, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

              I do believe I’ve mentioned that the Islamic world is generally not civilized, have I not?

              Even so, it bears repeating. Much of the Islamic world is populated by savages with access to technology.

              Cheers,

              b&

              • Posted November 5, 2013 at 1:02 am | Permalink

                My own experiences are a little different. Of course Arabs are only a minority in the Islamic world, but my time in Jordan and Iraq, Morocco and Algeria brought home to me the natural warmth and friendliness Arab people offer to strangers.

                Once I was stuck in a sand ‘lake’ in the middle of the Sahara. After four days of fruitless digging, and at midnight, a group of Arab lads turned up in pick-up trucks to dig me out. They gave me tips on how to drive over soft sand, we all shook hands, and they explained that someone had seen us in the distance and had sent a rescue party. Another time I struck up conversation with an Arab at a market, and was whisked back to his lovely villa and served a wonderful tagine, while he regaled me with stories of his life.
                I am saying nothing about the bad face of Islam, but please moderate your angry views, particularly about Arabs for whom I have a high regard.

                It may be surprising to hear that another great group show equal warmth and friendship to strangers. The Americans! I have enjoyed similar hospitality in my many years of roaming the wilder parts of the USA. So, hello to the great people of Wisconsin, of Missouri, of Maine and Florida, and particularly of California, all parts. And my final observation is that the world and its peoples are far more engaging and far less threatening than you think.

              • Posted November 5, 2013 at 7:45 am | Permalink

                What you describe is no different from the “civility” of a Mafia boss who gives generously to charity and lays out the most lavish and welcoming spread for his guests…while his goons are out shaking down the local merchants and one of the troublemakers is in the cellar having his fingers removed with a pair of tinsnips.

                I have no doubt but that your associates were as courteous and helpful and generous as you describe.

                It is also quite likely that their women are not permitted outside unescorted and their genitals have been mutilated. And that they’d be stoned to death as punishment if they were ever raped, while the rapist isn’t even questioned, let alone arrested or tried or imprisoned.

                There are radicals amongst the Muslims who embrace the Enlightenment more than Islam. They are to be encouraged and commended, but they’re the rare extremist liberal fringe in that society. The broad majority believes in the subjugation and enslavement of women, in Hammurabic brutality, and all the other hallmarks of barbarism.

                And also note well: this is an Islamic phenomenon, and most emphatically not an Arab one. (Nor a Persian one.) Arabs (and Persians and Africans and…) who come to their senses (or who grew up in the civilized world) are every bit as civilized as people from any other ethnic background. Amongst non-Muslim (or, at least, non-devout-Muslim) Arabs, civilization is the norm. And amongst non-Arab Muslims, barbarism is the norm.

                Even if it’s a soft-spoken barbarism.

                And, yes. We have a similar problem in the more religious parts of the States; for example, the Southern Baptists who demand that wives graciously submit to their husbands. But, even then, the poison from such religious beliefs is greatly diluted from what you’ll find in the Muslim world.

                Cheers,

                b&

  29. Dominic
    Posted November 4, 2013 at 3:52 am | Permalink

    Religion is so – Primitive!

  30. William Stewart
    Posted November 4, 2013 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    Dear Professor Coyne and readers,
    In 1899, in his book “The River War” Winston Churchill called Islam the “strongest retrograde force that exists in the world.” The rest of this passage is also worth reading. It is available at the Wikipedia entry for Winston Chuchill and at other sites. The nature of Islam was apparent to Churchill even in 1899.

    Cordially,
    William Stewart

  31. Sines
    Posted November 4, 2013 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    This quote is from the pro-islam article describing the video, posted on Harris’ page.

    “Now what does that tell us? Either all Muslims and Islam is radical, or the media is Islamophobic and racist in their presentation of Islam.”

    Like Lewis “Liar, Lunatic or Lord” trilemma, this question has an all too trivial answer that is exactly the opposite of what they were going for.

    As Harris points out, these people are saying “All muslims agree on the stoning of adulterous women! So we can’t be radical!”

    I almost wonder if English isn’t their first language. If it was, they’d understand that ‘radical’ doesn’t always mean “a significant deviation from the norm of a group”, and in the case of ‘radical islam’ means “Does things that some other group thinks goes too far.”

    If English is their first language, if they wrote that knowing what that word can mean, then… well… their either liars or lunatics.

    • Sines
      Posted November 4, 2013 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      As an addendum, I’m trying to square the ideas that the media is both islamophobic, but also trying to constantly talk about how nice muslims are, without assuming that one side is entirely bullshit.

      And I think I have my answer. Ultimately, the media is generally Islamophilic in Europe (depressingly, this is one thing Fox has over other American news channels), but the culture isn’t buying it. No matter how many news stories put forth over how nice muslims are and how the bombers are extremists, the man on the street just doesn’t accept it. Whether for rational or irrational reasons, the media isn’t enough to cover for Islam.

      And if the reasons are mostly rational (as compared to religious or racial bigotry, which is certainly a cause to at least some degree), then it would imply that not only is Islam barbaric, it’s too barbaric for whitewashing to work.

      I could be wrong. Never been to Europe, so I’m just guessing what things are like over there. But if this conference is an example of Islams attempt to paint itself in a good light… then I think I have at least some reason to think I’m right.

      • Robrat41
        Posted November 7, 2013 at 7:05 am | Permalink

        I am European, I live in the UK and you sir, have hit the nail firmly on the head.

        we have an air of “Be careful what you say, It might upset those nice muslims. Don’t want them comiting any retaliatory acts of violence, do we”

  32. Scott
    Posted November 4, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Here are some quotes from Osama bin Laden for more clarification:

    “The killing of Americans and their civilian and military allies is a religious duty for each and every Muslim… We–with God’s help–call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God’s order to kill Americans and plunder their money whenever and wherever they find it.

    [The September 11th attack] gave a harsh lesson to these arrogant peoples, for whom freedom is but for the white race… God willing, America’s end is near.”

    (bin Laden’s appeal to Muslims in a video tape from fall 2001)

    “The fighting should be in the name of God only, not in the name of national ideologies nor to seek victory for the ignorant governments that rule all Arab states, including Iraq.”

    [bin Laden’s message: fight the ‘crusaders’]

  33. Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:36 am | Permalink

    Islam is an idiotic religion, same as all the other ones. It’s not the religion that’s pernicious, it’s the fact that those who believe in it often haven’t really moved out of the middle ages. A religion basically reflects the culture of its believers, not the other way around,which is why the Bible is such a violent document but Christians are mainly fairly civilised.

    • gbjames
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 6:02 am | Permalink

      “… religion basically reflects the culture of its believers, not the other way around…”

      I’m obliged to unpack this because it contains confusion.

      Religion is not separate from culture. Religion is part of culture just as food recipes, sporting rules, idiomatic language are parts of culture. They are woven all together. It is wrong to think of religion as separate from culture. The Bible and the Koran are similar bits of culture.

      Yes, to the extent that religious beliefs based on ancient documents are followed “faithfully” by people in this or that society we can see the results partly in the amount of violence and oppression.

      Marginalizing religious beliefs within the broader cultural context should be the goal of anyone who wants to improve life on this little rock in space. But we’re always working within cultures, whether we are gnu atheists or bible thumpers.

  34. Posted November 5, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on too old to die young and commented:
    I saw this video on “Why evolution is true” and I was amazed what happened on this “peace conference” in Norway ….
    I can’t express in words how disappointed I am that this is possible in 2013.
    Please, learn your children how to think ! Science will take care of the rest.

  35. Alexander Hellemans
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Jerry says:

    “But remember that this is a “peace conference” designed to portray “normal” Islam and dispel media misconceptions. And these are Muslims who live in Norway. They are not the Taliban.”

    Looking at the video, I would not call the participants “normal” Muslims. I think if you would organize a meeting by your local NRA, and you would ask who agrees with gun control measures or laws, you will get a similar response.

    • gbjames
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      On what basis do you concluded they are not “normal”?

      • Alexander Hellemans
        Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        Would you go to a NRA meeting?

        • gbjames
          Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

          Wait. Normality among Muslims is determined by my participation (or not) at an NRA meeting?

          There seem to be some logical steps missing here.

          • Alexander Hellemans
            Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

            Do I have to spell it out? People who attend meetings with radical Islamic clerics are not different of people who attend meetings with other radical people, such as the NRA or the Clu Clux Clan.

            • gbjames
              Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

              Your implication is that because NRA members are not representative of me and “mine”, this collection of Muslims is not representative of Islam. That is poor reasoning. The one is not (necessarily) relevant to the other.

              You have not demonstrated that this collection of believers is unrepresentative, you’ve simply asserted it, in contradiction to the statements of the believers themselves. Why should we not take them at their word?

              • Alexander Hellemans
                Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

                Here you have a selection effect. Are Hassidic Jews representative of Jews in the US?
                Definitely not in the US. Things are different in a city like Antwerp,in Belgium

              • Posted November 5, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

                But that’s just it.

                This was a Norwegian peace conference explicitly organized for the purpose of demonstrating the peacefulness and moderation of Islam. As you can tell, the audience is largely college-age kids.

                They’re far outside the mainstream for post-Enlightenment societies, yes.

                But they’re actually on the liberal side for Islamic societies.

                The comparison wouldn’t be with the Hassids. The comparison would be with the Reform temple who splits the rent with the local Unitarians.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • gbjames
                Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

                The question is whether they are representative or not. You simply assert that they are not. Well, perhaps. But it doesn’t much matter. It is clear that large groups of Muslims around the world take their religion very seriously. Including the parts about stoning. Trivializing the danger posed by this belief system is naive, IMO.

    • Alexander Hellemans
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      Of course I meant “disagrees” and not “agrees.”

  36. Posted November 14, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    You wrote “Can you get any more cocksure or arrogant than that?” but how many Christian denominations do not say the same and claim to be the only ones to have the truth?

    For the punishments one can wonder why those Muslims do not stone or cut the hands of those who do bad things in the West? In case the judicial system would impose an Islamic law for the crimes of Muslims in the Western World how would the Islamists react?

    Those “normal” Islam followers do seem to be all of the sunni denomination. Also in that denomination of Islam there are many different groups believing or holding fast on different things.

    It would be wrong to believe that all Muslims would like to keep to the old sharia laws or that we in Europe would rarely have fundamentalists, and certainly not once who adhere to the extreme tenets of “radical” Islam like stoning for adultery or death for apostates. Have a look into the “Sharia for Belgium” Sharia for Holland” and othere Sharia groups, plus find the many different groups in the Low Countries which have affections with the Alquada movement.

    But be aware and do not forget that in our regions Europe may find a lot more moderate Muslims and people who evolved with the time and would like to live a contemporary life with the modern utilities.

    Please do not consider all Muslims the same, like not all Christians are the same. In Christendom we also have a growing group of fundamentalist Christians, that is even why the Belgium government has to take measures against certain Pentecostal groups. Look also to the many conservative evangelist groups in America where you can find also many very dangerous groups (or sects/cults).


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