Professor of Islamic Studies in U.S. says nonconsensual sex and slavery are okay, but only when practiced by Muslims

Jonathan A. C. Brown is described in Wikipedia like this:

Jonathan A.C. Brown (born 1977) is an American scholar of Islamic studies. Since 2012, he has been associate professor at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. In 2014, he was appointed Chair of Islamic Civilization. He is the editor in chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Law.

He has authored several books including Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenges and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy, Hadith: Muhammad’s Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World, and The Canonization of al-Bukhari and Muslim. He has also published articles in the fields of Hadith, Islamic law, Salafism, Sufism, and Arabic language.

And his Georgetown site itself it says he’s “associate professor” and “Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Chair of Islamic Civilization.”

Within that school of Foreign Service is embedded Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, whose mission is described as “to improve relations between the Muslim world and the West and enhance understanding of Muslims in the West.”

Brown’s mission, at least as I can see on that site and in a new post at “Student Voices” by freelance writer Umar Lee, is to whitewash Islam as a way of “enhancing understanding”—as well he should do given who’s funding his chair. Lee’s post, called “Georgetown Professor Jonathan Brown defends slavery as moral and rape as normal in Virginia lecture,” recounts a lecture Brown gave a few days ago at at the International Institute of Islamic Thought in Herndon, Virginia.

Lee was appalled, reporting that Brown, while excoriating slavery in the West, basically excused it when it was practice by Muslims. He also downplayed the role of “consent” in sexual relationships between slave and “owner”, and implicitly between husband and wife (the concept of marital rape in the absence of consent is not clear-cut in Islam; apparently the husband usually has sexual “rights” to his wife but isn’t allowed to harm her).  You can hear the whole lecture below, and though I haven’t listened to all of it, the relevant bits seem to be pretty much as Lee reported them (see time marks below). I’ve reproduced the quotes made by Brown, and the commentary given in Lee’s piece, below; you can verify some of this by starting to listen at 72 minutes in.

The indented bits are taken from Lee’s report:

Slavery:

Not knowing what to expect from Brown I was shocked when he basically went into a 90 minute defense of slavery which included an explicit endorsement of non-consensual sex.

While the lecture was supposed to be about slavery in Islam Brown spent the majority of the lecture talking about slavery in the United States, the United Kingdom and China. When discussing slavery in these societies Brown painted slavery as brutal and violent (which it certainly was). When the conversation would briefly flip to historic slavery in the Arab and Turkish World slavery was described by Brown in glowing terms. Indeed, according to Brown, slaves in the Muslim World lived a pretty good life.

I thought the Muslim community was done with this dishonest North Korean style of propaganda. Obviously not. Brown went on to discuss the injustices of prison labor in America and a myriad of other social-ills. Absent from his talk (until challenged) was any recognition of the rampant abuse of workers in the Gulf, the thousands of workers in the Gulf dying on construction sites, the South Asian child camel-jockeys imported into the United Arab Emirates to race camels under harsh conditions, or the horrific conditions of prisoners in the Muslim World (the latest news being 13,000 prisoners executed in Syria).

Brown constructs a world where the wrongs of the West excuse any wrongs (if he believes there are any) in the Muslim World.

“Slavery wasn’t racialized” in Muslim societies, Brown stated. That would be believable if it weren’t well-known black people in the Arab World and African-Americans in this country weren’t constantly referred to as abeed (slaves) simply because the color of the skin.

Brown described slavery in the Muslim World as kinder and gentler. The Arab poet who wrote “before you buy the slave buy the stick… for he is nejas (impure)” is perhaps a better description of Arab slavery than what Brown offered.

“Slaves were protected by shariah (Islamic Law)” Brown stated with no recognition of the idealized legal version of slavery and slavery as it was practiced. In this version of slavery there is an omission of kidnappings, harems, armies of eunuchs, and other atrocities.

. . . “It’s not immoral for one human to own another human” Brown stated in his clearest defense of slavery. Brown went onto state that being an employee is basically the same as being a slave and painting himself as a real romantic Brown told me his marriage was akin to slavery because his wife held rights over him. The fact that both of these arrangements can be terminated and are consensual seemed lost on the aloof academic.

Rape:

“Consent isn’t necessary for lawful sex” said Professor Jonathan Brown of Georgetown University.

Shortly after I asked Brown my questions about his defense of slavery a woman seated in front of me asked about the permissibility of sex with slaves. Brown emphatically stated consent is a modern Western concept and only recently had come to be seen as necessary (perhaps around the time feminism began to take root and women decided they wanted autonomy over their bodies). Brown went on to elaborate consent wasn’t necessary to moral and ethical sex and that the morality of sex is dependent on the lawfulness of the sex-partner and not consent upholding the verdict that marital-rape is an invalid concept in Islam.

As Lee points out, if any academic had said this besides a scholar of Islam defending Islam, he’d be drummed out of his department. Now while I think Brown’s comments are reprehensible, and that’s he’s being an apologist for those paying his salary, he’s free to say this kind of stuff if he wants. And I don’t think he should be fired or punished for saying these things, for that constitutes academic freedom. But that doesn’t stop me from excoriating him as a smooth-talking, highly paid, and odious apologist for some of the worst excesses of Islam. He belongs with Reza Aslan, Karen Armstrong, and C. J. W*rl*m*n as one of the most active apologists of Islam writing today. To call Brown a toad is to do an injustice to toads.

Here’s the audio of Brown’s remarks, which you can hear in an archived Dropbox version if this YouTube audio disappears. As Wikipedia notes, the discussion of slavery is around 73 minutes in and rape around 79 minutes in.

Finally, if you’ve heard the bits above, go over to the Prince Alaweed Center’s site and see Brown’s tortuous apologetics for stoning and amputation under Islamic law. I couldn’t really find an explicit condemnation of these practices; instead, Brown says they’re “rare” and then castigates the West:

The Hudud [transgressions that can merit corporal punishment] are, in fact, the perfect storm of controversy and grievance. To the twentieth-century West, with its phobia of physical punishment, prison-centered approach to criminal justice and increased social permissiveness in matters sexual, the Hudud are barbarity embodied. In the Muslim world, reeling from colonialism and the globalization of Western norms, the Hudud have re-emerged for many as icons of a commitment to Islamic authenticity. To many Islamist movements around the world, the notion of re-establishing the Hudud became both the symbol and substance of a longed for restoration of an authentic past and an independent future.

There’s a lot more, but it all looks like apologetics to me.

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Jonathan A. C. Brown

125 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    sub

  2. Posted February 11, 2017 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    What the actual fluff?!??

    “…a smooth-talking, highly paid and odious apologist for some of the worst excesses of Islam.” 😂

    • jaxkayaker
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

      This is an example of the worst kind of moral relativism. His views are reprehensible. The best thing one can say about Brown is that he knows which side his bread is buttered on.

  3. Sastra
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    To the twentieth-century West, with its phobia of physical punishment, prison-centered approach to criminal justice and increased social permissiveness in matters sexual, the Hudud are barbarity embodied.

    Phobiaof physical punishment?”

    I think I have that one.

    This doesn’t just remind me of religious apologetics. It also reminds me of defenses of the Trump voters, with their hope for a “restoration of an authentic past and hope for an independent future ” where they could get away with racism, sexism, and imposing their religion on the elitist libtards with their phobias against violence and physical punishment.

    • jay
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      Ah the standard Democratic narrative, and a lot are projecting what they expect an evil monster to do. Like Bill Clinton declaring that ‘Make America Great’ means Jim Crowe and subjugation to voters. How the hell does he speak for these voters (hint for Bill.. it means jobs and industry–whether he can deliver is a different question). (Some womens’ magazine recently declared that Trump was about to ban pre marital sex. Do these people even listen to themselves?)

      I know enough Trump supporters (a non trivial number of which voted Obama in the past) to understand that these are NOT the issues of importance. Unless the Democrats stop projecting their (failed) campaign rhetoric and start really learning what’s happening on the ground, they will continue to swirl into their own vortex.

      • veroxitatis
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        How strange then that a UK Conservative voter should share the “standard Democratic narrative”!! You people really need to see how nauseating the civilised World finds your pretend president and his gang.

      • Diane G.
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        “…to understand that these are NOT the issues of importance.”

        Yeah, it’s more like people who hate the government wanting the government to create jobs for them. Meanwhile they’ll continue to hate socialism while they take full advantage of Medicare, Social Security, highway maintenance, public schools (even though they’re awful), clean air, etc.

      • Posted February 11, 2017 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

        You just absolutely missed Sastra’s point. People who want to do things that harm others will frequently try to downplay that harm. “Oh, you just have a phobia of not having equal rights!”

        • Craw
          Posted February 11, 2017 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

          You missed Jay’s point. Once again a thread becomes about nothing but empty Trump bashing. So let me make his point more explicit: If you cannot even reply to a man who is excusing rape and slavery without digressing into the “[real] issue[] of importance” — how simply that Trump man is — you might as well accept no-one will take you seriously.

          • Posted February 12, 2017 at 11:27 am | Permalink

            + 1

          • Posted February 12, 2017 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

            No; I got jay’s point just fine: we should dismiss Sastra’s comment because she’s just brainlessly regurgitating the Democratic narrative she’s been fed, and also projecting. To which I say: nonsense. Her analogy is perfectly apt. I don’t know where you and jay live, but from where I sit, the RWNJs outnumber the thoughtful conservatives. I mean ferchrissakes, the damn POTUS isn’t even a thoughtful conservative, and his VP is every bit the monster for minorities that jay claims doesn’t exist.

            Plus, why on earth do we need to take breaks from criticizing things that deserve criticism? Is there some reference guide I can look at to determine when it’s ok to voice sincere criticisms in a public forum like this?

      • Diane G.
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

        “How the hell does he speak for these voters (hint for Bill.. it means jobs and industry…”

        How the hell is it that these voters are just discovering these issues now when they’ve been with us for decades? Sadly, manufacturing jobs emigrated long ago, largely due to Republican policies pandering to corporations. Which are citizens now, doncha know.

        (And obviously, concerns about jobs and industry are best addressed by electing a plutocrat.)

        • somer
          Posted February 12, 2017 at 5:16 am | Permalink

          +1

      • Sastra
        Posted February 12, 2017 at 9:05 am | Permalink

        I know enough Trump supporters (a non trivial number of which voted Obama in the past) to understand that these are NOT the issues of importance.

        You’re right, I was engaging in hyperbole and referring only to a (significant and vocal)subset of Trump supporters. I’ll try to be more fair, or more focused in my criticism, in the future.

    • ploubere
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      sub

  4. Frank Bath
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Does Brown allow muslims to take non-muslims as slaves – same colour and ethnicity etc.?

    • ploubere
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      I’m guessing, based on history, that the slaves would either agree to be converted or face execution.

  5. Cindy
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Hypothetical conversation with an illiberal leftist:

    “I don’t care who or what your ideology is, rape and slavery are just bad ideas! It’s just plain wrong to deprive people of their autonomy!”

    Illiberal Leftist: That’s hate speech! Stop inciting violence against an oppressed minority! *punch in the face* *quickly starts a change.org petition to overturn the 1st amendment*

    • somer
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      when I referred to “Left” I meant the illiberal kind – what disturbs me is how common they’ve become from the late 90s on.

      • Diane G.
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

        Do you suppose they’re really that common or just the sort of kooks the media can’t resist?

        Sadly, it does look like the illibs have infected much of academia, but sometimes things that originate in ivory towers actually stay there…(i.e., don’t extend to the vast outside world…)

        • Cindy
          Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

          I think that they are a minority just as the anti-fa are,. It’s just that loud and obnoxious asshats are good at getting all of the attention.

          • Diane G.
            Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

            Glad you think so!

            Add in the internet and it’s like throwing gas on a fire…

        • somer
          Posted February 11, 2017 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

          I think it mainly stems from academia but then in baby boomer lifetimes the number of people with at least some exposure to humanities at university level has rocketed, and during that time crit theory, PoMo influences have become more influential in academia, and even fleetingly influence other humanities areas such that most people absorb the white guilt message – which is very important but needs some perspective and is unfortunately too often combined with some suspicion of western modernity. They don’t need to have gone into these topics in detail – just absorbed the flavour and the pressure to (at least appear) to embrace diversity whatever it is – even though many perhaps most of these middle class people know few people who are non white western as friends.

          The result is that nice people with tertiary education become guilt struck at the thought of criticising any non western culture at any time and inclined to think that any Islamic extremism is mostly caused by the west and will clear itself up in due time and we should be very loth to find out about – say – Islam for ourselves other than accepting nice explanations of all of it. This is the attitude of the mainstream non-conservative media here in Australia and most uni educated people who are not actually conservative.

          Conservatives here are either quite anti immigrant/refugees or anti muslims as people but even some of them combine this or instead have a generalised respect for religion – and “traditional family values” and (especially in England it seems to me) regarding faith schools and what they teach, toleration of sharia councils, unwillingness to criticise religion if it involves something done or said by a cleric etc.

          • somer
            Posted February 11, 2017 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

            Im not implying most educated liberals are regressive -far from it – but i think the extent of PoMo Crit Theory influences (not just direct teaching but tinging of other units) of the last few decades have set the scene for the Relatively Few True Regressives amongst them to have more influence than they otherwise would.

          • Diane G.
            Posted February 11, 2017 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

            “I think it mainly stems from academia but then in baby boomer lifetimes the number of people with at least some exposure to humanities at university level has rocketed, and during that time crit theory, PoMo influences have become more influential in academia…”

            Now that you mention it–as the parent of a couple of kids in their twenties, gawd, don’t I know! But I do know that my kids–who are both liberally (in the traditional sense) oriented–recognized that PoMo stuff you mention for the crap that it is…They also have a good idea of the gulf between what their generation coined as first-world problems and, well, the real crises in those other worlds.

            Actually, I’d put at least as much blame for the metastasis of the CTRL left on the Internet as on Uni Lib Arts departments themselves. I hope the net matures eventually…(but I see no reason why or mechanism for how that will ever happen).

            • Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

              I used to volunteer my time (and now donate some of my money) to a small human rights NGO in Montreal. Once I tried to discretely figure out if they’d gotten caught in the pomo trap. (Unlikely, I figured, but …) Well, no, but some of the volunteers had to have it squelched, apparently, though with reasonable success. Work with actual victims of injustice seems to cure it, though there is no doubt a self-selection effect there.

  6. Martin Levin
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    The charge of Western colonialism is a partial canard. The biggest colonizer of Muslim countries was the Ottoman Empire, itself Muslim. And, of course, many now-Islamic countries were themselves colonized by Arabs from the Arabian Peninsula.

    • Cindy
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Zarna Joshi of Hugh Mungus fame produced a series of videos in which she argued that the *only* reason ‘men of colour’, specifically Muslims, engage in violence and rape women is because evil white cishet patriarchal colonialists ’emasculated’ them, and the only way for ‘men of color’ to regain their manhood is to rape and pillage etc.

      I don’t know why some people think that infantilizing ‘people of colour’, treating them as if they have no agency, is somehow *not* racist.

      • Zado
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know why some people think that infantilizing ‘people of colour’, treating them as if they have no agency, is somehow *not* racist.

        It really is one of the more obscene ironies lurking at the bottom of illiberal leftism. And it is pernicious.

        • Cindy
          Posted February 11, 2017 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

          “People of color” is itself insulting.

          I prefer ‘racial and ethnic minorities’

          Whenever I type up ‘POC’ I try to put it in quotes.

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    To paraphrase Orwell only slightly: some ideas are so stupid only an academic could believe them.

    • Posted February 12, 2017 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      + 1

    • Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      Older trope than that:

      “There is nothing so ridiculous but some philosopher has said it.” – Cicero.

  8. Geoff Toscano
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Although I absolutely don’t accept the concept of objective morality, it’d be tempting to use it to counter some of these arguments. As societies we can condemn both slavery and non-consensual sex, regardless of where they happen. History and culture may well be needed to understand why they still happen, but it is disgraceful that these factors are used to justify them.

    What’s the obsession with trying to apologise out every unpleasant aspect of Islam? It’s all very well celebrating the wearing of headscarves (which I’ll share when women can choose not to wear them in their respective countries) but to extend it to slavery and rape! Really? How about having hands chopped off for theft.

    • DrBrydon
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      Turn it around. Forget objective morality. Is there objective harm in being a slave or being raped (a simpler word for non-consensual sex)? Then they are bad.

      • Geoff Toscano
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

        Spot on.

  9. rickflick
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    A charming fellow for sure. At least he admits to things that don’t get aired enough – the reprehensible aspects of Islam. Take note all you mushy hijab wearing leftist charm peddlers. Celebrating the place of women in Islam gets slightly harder when rape is condoned.

  10. Diane G.
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    And I don’t think he should be fired or punished for saying these things, for that constitutes academic freedom.

    Surely we need to draw the line somewhere. Teaching that rape and slavery are permissible under the imprimatur of religion strikes me as very close to shouting “fire” in a crowded theater. Both cases are likely to threaten the physical safety of a significant number of people.

    If academic freedom trumps even that, there are more traditional methods of getting rid of crime-excusing apologists. I’m sure his department could come up with some reason to deny tenure. Or possibly there’s some Georgetown alum with deep pockets and enough of a conscience to “persuade” the Board that their institution can’t afford be associated with excusing violations of civil rights.

    • Blue
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      You are, Ms Diane G, of course quite correct in your statement here in re: where the line is — re inciting by one’s words stat violence upon other human beings.

      This incitement – line does not, however, depend upon religion, upon any religion. It doesn’t have to do with feminism versus religions or feminism versus atheism. If it did, why then, for what I have been an activist since my late teen years of the Rockin’ 1960s, would have been by now long resolved / long solved: female ones are Human Beings and are .not. (de)Human Beings.

      The resolutions regarding she said / he said – life experiences are on opposite axes wholly and utterly independent of religions and of almost all ideologies and of all “excuses” called cultural ones.

      How do I know of this ? Easy. Simple.
      Take the rapes of male Human Beings.

      O wait, male ones ARE Human Beings.
      They cannot be raped.

      Noooot without justified consequences onto any and all manner of those, their rapists, can they ? Religions and ideologies are not involved in these, their consequences, are they ? uh – uh.

      Religions, including Islam and any other ones, will not ‘take’ those — FLIP / REVERSE those — those nonconsensual experiences of ANY kind (enslavements / sexual experiences, what constitutes and is defined as an actual “violence” against another, etc, etc et cetera) as AT ALL okay, will they ?

      Only the rapes and only the nonconsensual enslavements of (de)Humans are
      ANYwhere, within ANY aspect of living ones’ lives including what could be defined as an immediate violence / an immediate violation upon someone, viewed as AT ALL … … acceptable.

      So: IF female beings are Human ones, why then, they DO get to have autonomy (read that: freedoms, independences, JUSTICES !) just as DO the male ones.

      But: THAT CANNOT HAPPEN. NO.

      It hasn’t for millennia. Throughout very many millennia. For their perceptions of bettering themselves, for controlling, for their own elevations of themselves, for whatever “cultural” or “religious” or daily controlling need, for whatevah, the Humans hafta have their (de)Humans: The Women’s History of the World, by Dr Rosalind Miles: https://goo.gl/kJTtfB.

      Blue

      • Diane G.
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

        Don’t know about you, Blue, but as a fellow, er, sororal 60’s veteran, I sure expected us to be much farther along than we are now. (Doesn’t help that some of our “sisters” are shooting themselves in the foot…)

        • Blue
          Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

          Until my 40s which happened, initially, with the 1988th year (CE), Ms Diane G, I busied myself with coming of age, ie, adulting, then studies, then helping some mamas bulldoze out their wonders as the labor & delivery nurse I’d become, then studies some more, then helping some other mamas, mostly, but not all, mammalian ones bulldoze out their own wonders as the veterinary practitioner I had become as well as concurrently then myself bulldozing out one, then two, then three of m’own wonderments, then raising up all of them with some more concurrent studying, and then voila, my first professorialship in veterinary microbiology within y1986.

          But. By some wee ~365 days after commencing that first assistant – level faculty position IS WHEN I truly began my actual … … studies: about what WILL actually happen to me. No matter how intelligent I was thinking m’self to be and no matter how my own accidental birthing inside this USA – tribe is thought by many others to really give one a huge headstart. To something folks term as “success” or similar.

          Those y1987 – y1988 studies ? I picked up a copy of Dr Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch (y1970) FINALLY. And, with having a brand – new laboratory director installed a whole one month after the boss who’d hired me retired and, thus, firing, er, not re – upping me / my contract in his — and my — first year there disguisedly “using” that business euphemism, most especially, for female workers = “departmental reorganization” = so that he could have my $39,500.00 annual, first – year salary back into his budget for what he really wanted in his new laboratory.

          Our sisters ? Heh. The first sentence of my then “new” – to – me – studies ? Dr Greer’s page 279 of her Part IV termed “Hate” with its chapter there entitled “Loathing and Disgust ?”

          “Women have very little idea of how much men hate them.”

          Ms Gloria subsequently taught me that as re almost all of that hatred, loathing and disgust I and sisters can do squat about: Ms Steinem states that .it. over a bagazillion millennia stems from THE CONTROL that ONLY we female beings have.

          As re bulldozing: we are THE BEINGS able to perpetuate the species. OR NOT.

          Those eleven words of Dr Greer’s ? Those were the TRUE beginnings of my learning what success I could expect for my existence. Then. And it has not, and will not, change. Not within MY days’ time.

          Blue

          • Diane G.
            Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

            I’ve long been impressed by your academic pedigree, Blue. 🙂

            Hmm, sorry to realize, now that I think of it, that my feminism was taking a back seat to mothering when Greer’s book came out. (Not that I was anything like the traditional mother…)

            “… we are THE BEINGS able to perpetuate the species.” Yes, but we still need a little help from the other-genitaled beings… 😉

            One of the more interesting realizations of evolutionary biology (and I don’t mean evo-psych) was the recognition that males & females of a given species often (usually, even) have contrary strategies for achieving fitness. Right down to the level of the chromosomes! (E.g., http://dujs.dartmouth.edu/2008/05/battle-of-the-sexes/ ) (Well,I guess technically pretty much all variation goes down to that level–and lower–but when we talk about such strategies in more complex species we tend to think mostly of things like sexual selection, which we usually think of as at the organismal level. [Don’t we?])

            Anyway; I’ve never been sure if that’s a positive or a negative. Mostly, I guess, it seems like a very difficult barrier to overcome if we think we can indeed manage to reject evolutionary traits via cultural, purposeful change.

            BTW, if you haven’t yet read Hope Jahren’s Lab Girl, I can highly recommend it; and predict that you’ll like it.

          • Michael Waterhouse
            Posted February 12, 2017 at 3:40 am | Permalink

            I don’t really understand all you just said but I gather you are persuaded By Germaine Greer and others that it is true that men hate women.
            To make the substantively true it would have to be all men hate all women, ‘really’ hate them and women are too ?? something ?? to see it and that it will never change.
            I venture no opinion on this except to ‘note’ it, however,
            it would also be an endorsement of Germane Greer’s accuracy in opinion.
            Do you extend that accuracy, that Germaine Greer’s opinion is accurate, to her opinion of trans women. That they are ‘not’ women.

            I once defended Greer’s opinion, at least her right to have it, based partially on part of the ‘hatred’ aspect.

            What do you think?

    • Posted February 11, 2017 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      It’s more complicated than that, Diane! Assoc. Prof. Brown got his PhD from, wait for it…Chicago University.

      Oh dear. Mind you, pots and black kettles spring to mind, as William Lane Craig wangled some letters after his name from Birmingham University up the road from me.

      Just who does take the minutes at these theological viva voces?

      • Diane G.
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

        Is nothing sacred?! 😉

        Well, let’s give him and/or the U of C the benefit of the doubt and assume he didn’t become such an apologist till after he accepted the “Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Chair.”

        (Makes one want to see his thesis, though…)

        • Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

          I just love these western University Chairs funded by some hyper-nomenclatured obscure oil-rich sub-set of a strike-it-lucky desert aristocrat.

          It reminds me of late 80s and 90s UK: you couldn’t move in a mediumly-large city without spotting some new-build mosque funded by Saddam. All to the same work-a-day design: Samarkand they were not.

          I just googled to double-check my memory: this, from The Grauniad is the first line of one of the references from 2003.

          “The President Saddam Hussein mosque in Aston (Birmingham – DO’S) is a friendly place. So when a warm turd wrapped in a page of the Koran dropped through the…”

          Presumably the writer of this piece still swears that Saddam’s Iraq was a secular state. Just like the hopeless left and at least some, and for all I know, all, Theology departments.

          • Diane G.
            Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

            Damn, you’re making me laugh tonight! ;D

            I wonder if there are/were Saddam mosques here in the US? Guess I’ll visit my friend Google.

            Would you consider, “more secular than current Islamist theocracies?”

            • Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

              You’ve gotta laugh, Diane, haven’t you? Life would be unbearable otherwise.

              To be serious, the reason why Iraqi émigrés from the 1980s couldn’t believe the sectarianism of 2010s Iraq was because it had changed so much under Saddam.

              There was the Faith Campaign, initiated in 1992, and the concomitant introduction of sharia. This was 10 years after his hosting of the Muslim Brotherhood in ongoing Conferences to support the war against Iran. And of course party meetings started with prayers.

              Whether or not Saddam believed it all, who knows? But in his final words at his trial he claimed that only Allah was worthy of judging him. What’s the difference between claiming you believe and actually believing? Especially when you’re a tyrant.

              Let’s finish on a black humour laugh. Youtube George Galloway and Saddam + ‘indefatigable’. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIy_GmvUElE

              Proof that despite John Gray’s ascription of Whiggism to New Atheism, there is no liberal Utopia. It’s unimaginable that anybody could believe that we will create the best of all possible worlds as long as brainy primates come up with this servility.

              • Diane G.
                Posted February 11, 2017 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

                Well yes, I was remembering an earlier era now that you point it out.

                “Whether or not Saddam believed it all, who knows?”

                Don’t you expect that he–and a significant number of other religious leaders of all lineages–simply saw (see) it as such a wonderful tool of control? Well, as you say, there’s little if any difference between pretending and actual believing.

                Ha, and our Galloway moment was Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam. Alas, a (very cursory) Googling turns up merely a visual–no sound–video. Rumsfeld of course was also an excellent inspiration of much black humor.

                There’s probably no Utopia of any stripe. But we’ll probably never cease trying to at least define it, if not find it.

                (Humans! What’s wrong with just eat, survive, reproduce? But I digress.)

              • Posted February 11, 2017 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

                Yeah, the thing is that the west can reasonably exculpate itself from responsibility for Saddam. Reagan’s foreign policy was – cynically – to promote stalemate in the long Iran-Iraq war. And it worked, with minimum dollar cost.

                Who funded Saddam’s armoury? From 1973-2002 USSR/Russia 57%, France 13%, China 12%. US? 0.48%. UK? 0,18%. It would be interesting to work out if Saddam invested more in the UK rather than vice versa.

                Who trained Saddam’s secret police, the sharia thought-abolitionists? The KGB and the East German Stasi.

                Saddam was an Eastern Bloc client. Thems the plain facts. For some reason – and I know why – the masochistic western ‘ narrative’ ignores that.

                When you see that picture of Saddam shaking hands with the US rep. that’s from 1983, the result of the cynical Reaganite rapprochement with Saddam after 17 years of the break in diplomatic relations between the US and Iraq. After Saddam broke off those relations following the 1967 Six-Day war re: Israel.

                The idea that the west funded Saddam is plain untrue. As a leftist, I knew it in 1980: we had refugee Kurds in the UK then telling us what was happening in Iraq.

              • Diane G.
                Posted February 11, 2017 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

                Thank you, Dermot. I’m embarrassed to admit how little of that I was aware of. I do appreciate the lesson! My idea of the ‘western narrative’ was definitely off-base.

    • Posted February 12, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      If he was teaching math or chemistry, I’d agree that his personal views on Islam and slavery are academic freedom. But I think that as math professors are required to teach that 2+2 does not equal 5, chemistry professors must stress that it is a poor idea to extinguish flames with gasoline, humanities professors are required to admit that rape and slavery are bad.

      • Diane G.
        Posted February 12, 2017 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

        Nice analogies.

  11. darrelle
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    This guy really is loathsome.

  12. Posted February 11, 2017 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Wow! I did go and read his piece over at the Prince Alaweed Center. Long, detailed, scholarly looking article that attempts to appeal to certain postmodern sensibilities (e.g. cultural relativists with a superficial understanding of Foucault and an ingrained sympathy for understanding the “Other”) and keep the wolf in sheep’s clothing until the very end, when the unchallenged validity of cultural and religious practices are asserted fully and without challenge (championed, even).
    There is certainly a difference between critical cultural engagement, which necessitates contextual ‘value-free’ background and explanation, and agenda-led academic ‘research’. The case seems very clear here.

    Check his publishers, too. He seems to be doing quite well with Oxford (no doubt funded by some wealth ‘patron’), but apart from that his first book was on Brill (pay to publish), and his two other monographs appear on Oneworld Publications (an independent British publisher, not a recognized academic one).

  13. jay
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Meanwhile, the cartoonist who created this was banned from Twitter

    When people criticized Linda Sarsour (Womens march co chair) for her active support of sharia law (and claim that Saudi Arabia was a GOOD place for women), the critics were attacked from all over as mean spirited. Huffington (of course) and Bernie as well stand out… no one actually confronted the real problem… her advocacy.

    • Diane G.
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      War is peace…

    • Kevin
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      I’d change the last line.

      “Oh so you wear it because you want. In that case, I will have to punish you until you realize it’s there to oppress you.”

      There is no winner in this situation.

      • somer
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

        But they’ve been so brainwashed from young childhood and the mahram and kin community with its “Honour” culture but they would blame themselves for anything that happens and its all for Allah nothing to do with less spiritual motivations. And now were being censored for saying so on “social network” platforms.

        Girls have to start praying and fasting a couple of years earlier than boys and many are introduced to the cloth in primary years) that they

  14. Richard Sanderson
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    This must be a difficult one for the SJWs at FreeThoughtBlogs.

    Here, we have a privileged white man, university professor, etc. sprouting Bronze Age nonsense defending slavery and rape….

    …..but he’s a Muslim, thus putting him in an “oppresed class”.

    Decisions, decisions…identity politics means supposedly good people hesitate when calling out obvious, and there is nothing more obvious than this, illiberal and disgusting views.

    • ploubere
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      sub

  15. Posted February 11, 2017 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Slavery is good, at least when Muslims do it? And yet the Prophet himself said that the highest good deed one can do is to free a slave. I wonder why that is.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      You free them by converting them to Islam, that’s why.

      • nicky
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        +1!

        • Nicolas Perrault
          Posted February 11, 2017 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

          Yes but Muslims are God’s slaves.

      • somer
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

        and the Prophet had over 60 slaves when he died

    • somer
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      Historically the Muslim world has been responsible for enslaving the same number of slaves as during the western period of slavery. Family and kin resisting slave raids or Muslim invasion were often simply killed and the young – especially women (normally young ones) taken being 65 per cent of slaves to serve as household domestics (and sex slaves) of ordinary people or concubines of the wealthy. The Quran explicitly says enslavement of infidels is one of the valid ways to acquire a sexual partner either by purchase or direct conquest of infidels. The later passages of the Quran advocating holy war officially take precedence over the (less common) conciliatory ones. The law books – such as the prestigious Hidaya commentary of the Islamic laws (of the Hanifa school and many parts of which are used to this day to guide legal decisions in south Asia) call for perpetual holy war against infidels, punctuated by temporary peace treaties concluded only where this aids the longer term war effort – and the Hanifa school is the most “moderate” one. The Syaafi “Guidance of the Traveller” is just as explicit and the other two schools are even more anti non-muslims.

      There are still slaves in Mauritania and after slavery was banned in the West in the 19th century, Shia dynasty in Oman, the sunnis in Qatar and emirates held plantations of millions of chattel slaves in East Africa. The Ottomans had been pressured (by the west) to drastically reduce the number of their slaves by this time. The Muslim Brotherhood and other anti Western Muslim movements have never condemned slavery, or renounced its validity in scripture. Slavery was still going on in Iran a few years after 1907 when the constitution was brought into force. One article details the life story of a woman freed from slavery in Iran. The former slave had been captured as a young child in Africa, following the slaughter of most of the adults of her community. She was used as a servant and raped by her master until his death, when she was turned onto the street, where she was fortunately adopted by a liberal western influenced family as a paid and well treated house keeper.
      http://www.netnative.com/news/02/oct/1009.html

  16. Harrison
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    If the Republicans were ever clever enough to embrace Islam they’d have a blank check to get away with anything.

    Islam in the eyes of the left seems to wipe away all sins. Extreme racism and sexism are forgiven. Advocating for slavery or the murder of gays and apostates is totally okay. Even being a wealthy white guy can be forgiven, and that’s close to being the worst sin imaginable to the modern left.

    • Diane G.
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      Ha ha, good point! And as ultraconservative religio-fanatics they should find so much common ground. (Excluding moderate Muslims and the still sane part of the GOP, if there is such a thing.)

      • somer
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        Western Christian fundamentalists (mostly in the US) and their supporters will ignore the western slave era and colonialism claiming that Western Christianity is to benefit all humanity similar to orthodox Muslims claim for the Islamic world, whilst the left in the West are very susceptible to Brown’s argument that the Islamic form of slavery wasn’t really slavery and nothing compared to Western capitalism and Christianity (tho sometimes the “real” Christianity is held to be social justice that is often thwarted by corrupt adherents of the faith). Exposure of any Islamic abuses of women are framed as culturally insensitive failures to appreciate different ways of respecting women. Ditto Islamic abuses and persecution of atheists and unbelievers is held to be just a backlash against Western imperialism and colonialism past and present. Never mind that western pressure – both liberal and oppressive in the 19th and early 20th C obliged a lot of Islamic countries to water down Islamic law – particularly the harshest bits – and mostly rely on secular law.

        • Diane G.
          Posted February 11, 2017 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

          “Never mind that western pressure – both liberal and oppressive in the 19th and early 20th C obliged a lot of Islamic countries to water down Islamic law – particularly the harshest bits – and mostly rely on secular law.”

          Which inevitably, it seems, resulted in replacing rule by Sharia with rule by brutal dictators. (Which makes one wonder why anyone still thinks positive “regime change” is possible.) I’m a terrible Philistine about all this; I have indeed heard that democracy can’t directly follow totalitarianism , but why is the interim so often corrupt?

          FWIW, I remember pictures of Cairo, Tehran, and Baghdad under the dictatorships showing women with the freedom to move around by themselves, dress in western fashion, etc., and IMO , however bad those regimes were, Sharia is much worse.

          • somer
            Posted February 11, 2017 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

            Yes I didn’t mean to give the impression I advocate regime change by any means – it doesnt lead to improvement. Change comes by example and arguing that old ways have outlived whatever purpose they once had and need reform. I suspect the obsessive culture of kin and tribe that Islam fosters both corruption and dictatorship because you only look after your tribe and beyond that the only unifying factor (apart from force) is religion.

            Pastoral nomads have strong kin ties and Arab conquerors were originally nomadic bedouins with a uniquely close kin based marriage system amongst pastoral nomads. The Islamic heartlands are all in regions that had a strong pastoral element – Indonesia is an exception and even Iranian civilisation for thousands of years had a nomadic element and origin.

            • somer
              Posted February 12, 2017 at 5:24 am | Permalink

              PS Im a philistine on this too – everyone has a different view on the Middle East!

              • Diane G.
                Posted February 12, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

                Oh, you’re light years ahead of me. I just come here to learn from commenters like you & the other learned folks here…

                “Change comes by example and arguing that old ways have outlived whatever purpose they once had and need reform.”

                So difficult to understand how these cultures can still exist in the 21st century….

              • Cindy
                Posted February 12, 2017 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

                I always learn something from Somer’s comments!

  17. ploubere
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Another instance of religion being used to justify humans’ worst behaviors.

  18. Redlivingblue
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps Mr. Brown needs to experience some non consensual sex. I bet he would change his opinion…

    • Cindy
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      What’s especially disturbing is that he is essentially condoning paedophilia. He *knows* that marrying 9 year old girls is common in many Islamic countries.

      • somer
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

        And its also widely understood as the age when the master can have sex with the female slave – though some Hanbali scholars – or modern day Salafists say pretty much any age such as Saudi Salafi cleric Shakh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid “Owners of female slaves may have sexual intercourse with them at any age, there is no age limit, so long as she is physically capable of sex” http://islamqa.com/ Answer to question 26067 in 2007 or 2008 probably changed Answer number now.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

      We’re not just talking about non-consensual sex with girls,homosexual pederasty is rife in those parts of the world. I guess he’d condone bacha bazi https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacha_bazi, which I’ve mentioned in previous comments. When he was young, I’m sure he’d have made quite a fetching dancing boy sex toy.

      What an odious man.

  19. Heather Hastie
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Whenever someone justifies their own bad behaviour, or that of a group they support, by pointing to bad behaviour of others, they’ve lost the argument. Moral relativism is never an excuse even though sometimes it’s an explanation.

    Of course, it isn’t only Islam that does it. I’ve heard both men and women on Fox News say women in the US shouldn’t complain about their treatment because Saudi Arabia or Malala Yousafzai etc. It’s a ridiculous and nonsensical argument. It means women in the country where they’re most equally treated (no, not the US) have to wait until every other country catches up before they can make further progress.

    The bottom countries in the Gender Inequality Index are all majority Muslim. No one will be surprised by that.

    • Diane G.
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      Great comment, Heather.

  20. aljones909
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    I hope nobody de-platforms him. We need to hear the unfiltered views on islam and morality.

  21. veroxitatis
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Some countries move forward whilst others (much of the Muslim World) stands still. And how likely is it that they will advance with apologists such as Brown praising their morals.
    It is only relatively recently that parts of the West recognised that non consensual sex by a husband with his wife could amount to rape. (It was possible to charge with assault if there had been violence but absent violence the mere act of sexual union was not a crime on the ground that the husband had proprietorial rights over his spouse) In 1989 the Court of Session (Scotland) in a case before it determined that the actions of the husband amounted to the crime of rape. In 1991 the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords in a case before it which had arisen in England also found that incertain circumstances the crime of rape could be committed by a husband upon his spouse. (In either case was there an Act of Parliament. This was purely judge made law.)
    Interestingly, the 1991 decision brought the UK into line with the law in such catholic countries as France, Ireland and Poland, as also the USSR and 18 US States.
    Brown should be regretting the tardiness of the West in dealing with this issue but should applaud the wisdom that has taken positive action and strenuously seek to influence moderate Muslims in positions of authority.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 6:59 am | Permalink

      (In either case was there an Act of Parliament. This was purely judge made law.)

      I presume you mean “In neither case…”

      • Veroxitatis
        Posted February 12, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        Yes’ thanks.

  22. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    So to summarize: Islamic slavery, rape, and wife-beating is ok because it is kinder and gentler than regular non-Muslim instances of these essentially morally neutral things. You really want to stand on those propositions, Dr. Brown? Where is the outrage from the regressive left over these teachings? Why is Dawkins a sexist pig, but this guy is a brave defender of Muslims?

  23. Carey
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    His opinions are consistent with a literal belief in the Quran. Unquestioned belief in religious teachings is not compatible with respect for human rights and progress. In this day and age (as opposed to the Middle Ages), it is shocking that an American professor could advocate slavery and non consensual sex. While he has the right to express his opinions, he should not be teaching them to students.

    • veroxitatis
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely agree. It is perfectly appropriate that he should be an authority on these subjects. It is also not unreasonable that he should defend certain practices which had been carried out in the past. In order to reach an intelligent standpoint it is necessary to look at the actions in the context of the time and mankind’s overall knowledge and understanding. There is nothing more foolish than judging the past in terms of the present. But Brown goes way beyond that at several points in his talk and in his writings which Prof Coyne drew attention to. He clearly advocates such practices and defends their present practice on distinctly shaky grounds.

  24. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Great, I was eating and nearly threw up reading about Brown’s gut wrenching apologetics. Where did he dropped his morals and his intellectual backbone with it!?

    • darrelle
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      +1

      Best comment in the thread.

  25. BJ
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    “Professor of Islamic Studies in U.S. says nonconsensual sex and slavery are okay, but only when practiced by Muslims”

    So, this professor is basically like all regressives: the things we hate and constantly band on about are totally fine when done by people we consider marginalized. Oh, and we will keep talking about the slavery that ended in the US over 150 years ago, but not speak a peep about the slavery that continues today in the Middle East. And we will make up false rape statistics and try to strip men accused of rape of their due process (all while opposing any efforts to classify nonconsensual sex on the part of a woman against a man as rape) in an effort to convince everyone that we western women are so oppressed, but will keep our mouths completely shut when these things really happen on a constant basis to women in the “marginalized” places.

    Yup, this professor sounds exactly like what I would expect many of them to.

  26. DrBrydon
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    I had a conversation with a Catholic friend recently, who tried to convince me that slavery became objectionable once the Protestants started doing it, because the Catholics at least tried to save slave’s souls.

  27. Randy schenck
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    I guess the most educational thing he could do for all his teaching is to tell all who can stand to sit through his lectures – this is all illegal in this country. The slavery, the sex without consent and all the rest. And it makes no difference what your religion is, you can’t do it here.

    And by the way, it should be in every country today regardless of religion. This is the 21st century and things have changed.

  28. Craw
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    About firing him. Should his position exist at all?
    I agree that if he’s a legit scholar in a legit subject he should not be fired. But aside from this honest exposition of Islamic law — for which candor he should be praised — why does his chair exist?

    • jimroberts
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      “why does his chair exist?”

      Because those of us too lazy to read the Koran and the Hadith also need to know the basic teachings of Islam?

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

        Maybe so but save us the justification because it is Islam slavery or treatment of women. Just tell the Muslims how to reform it and join the 19th or 20 century at least. Reforming them is a lot more important than teaching Islamic ways to a bunch of kids, especially if you fill it with apologetics.

      • Craw
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

        Did you notice the actual title and description of his position? It is not “professor of Islamic history”.

        • somer
          Posted February 12, 2017 at 5:31 am | Permalink

          But he does have a doctorate in Islamic thought and I suppose jimroberts’ point is that the Brown brings to public light in a western academic setting what is the ** actual ** orthodoxy in Islam regarding slavery and consent despite what we are normally led to believe – he adds a whole lot of apologism but not without spelling out that he sees nothing wrong with owning another human being and nothing wrong with non consensual sex or any other non consensual thing so long as its done within the framework of religious authority.

          • jimroberts
            Posted February 12, 2017 at 7:49 am | Permalink

            Right.

  29. nicky
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    I can’t find fault with Jonathan Brown. He’s candidly expressing what (mainstream? Yes, according to pew) Islam proposes. I think his views should be publicized much wider, particularly in the regressive leftist media. It might, just might, open some eyes.

  30. zugzwanged
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    While Dr Jonathan Brown’s views are appalling, I rather wish that we didn’t so consistently speak about slavery in such a univocal and generalizing fashion, but paid much more attention to the specific and varying forms that it has taken in different cultural settings.

    Slavery really has differed from culture to culture. Sometimes it has been a means of dealing with prisoners of war. Sometimes it has been a means of punishing criminals, especially in the case of capital crimes, where the sentence could be commuted. Sometimes it has been a means of dealing with endebted persons. Sometimes it has been a way for the poorest and most improvident to find security in a society without a welfare system.

    Sometimes it has been built around contractual arrangements between the slave and the state or slave owner. Sometimes it has taken the form of chattel slavery and been based upon kidnapping and conquest.

    The specific historic form of slavery in the Americas, while having much in common with the more general phenomenon of alienated slave labour, is only one form that slavery can take. Some of these forms of slavery may even represent meliorating measures in the context of less advanced societies, without a safety net and with dependent classes. Absolutely condemning slavery tout court may be a problem, even though we may all recognize that, wherever slavery continues to exist, civilization is either absent or heavily compromised.

    Much as in the case of fascism (which bears unsettling yet generally ignored resemblances to contemporary neoliberalism), paying close attention to the particular variegated historical forms of slavery can raise troubling questions for modern society. Getting beyond the term ‘slavery’—’boo, hiss!’—to recognizing the social dynamics of the practice in certain ancient societies, we might discover that the contractual slavery of ancient societies has some surprising points of contact with modern forms of alienated labour in a capitalist economy, which we take for granted.

    As we move forward, there are lessons to be learned by those who look back to past societies with humility and without ‘chronological snobbery’, appreciating the limits (of knowledge, resources, and society) past societies were operating within and also the fact that much that we deem barbaric in the past may have analogies in our own modern society.

    Looking at aspects of the world the West has created more objectively, there is a great deal of barbarity to be seen. We may preen ourselves on our moral superiority to fundamentalist Muslims, but our shameful history of military interventions in Muslim nations tells a far less flattering story. ‘But,’ we assure ourselves, ‘we are well-meaning, good-hearted people: we aren’t racist, misogynist, or homophobic!’ We have a narcissistic fixation on the fine moral character of our inner selves that provides a helpful alibi for the moral prudence that is so conspicuous by its absence in much of our action in the world.

    Learning to look at our societies from without can be a disturbing experience. It can be helpful to remember that the Muslim world is viewing the West from such an external perspective. Without falling into the trap of apologism for the sorts of values and practices that Brown justifies and minimizes here, it can be good for us to take such a perspective upon ourselves sometimes too. Neoliberalism—which is bound up with progressive social values in many ways—can be a decidedly ugly and dehumanizing phenomenon for many of those on its receiving end.

    • Posted February 11, 2017 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      Why is tu quoque always so prolix? Translation: how come whataboutery reliably beats about the bush?

      Yes, I know, even Byzantine slaves became Emperors. On the most simple of moral questions there’s no need for the moral masochism of your post.

      There’s a zwischenzug for you, zugzwanged.

      • Craw
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

        Checkmate!

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

      Talk about moral relativism. What a crock of hockey-doo. Slaveholders in the antebellum South were convinced that slave holding was uplifting for the primitive African, and what they demanded most was abject gratitude for all this pathological altruism they forced on them. And such arguments haven’t gone away.

      • Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

        And Aristotle, arguably one of the smartest guys to ever live, thought that slaves were basically living tools and their existence was justified because “that’s all they can do” or words to that effect. (Fortunately in his case his argument arguably shows there are no such things as “natural slaves” and hence, by his view, no other kind.)

  31. dd
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    From Wikipedia on Dr. Brown…He is a Chicago PhD:

    “Brown was born on August 9, 1977 in Washington, DC. He was raised as an Anglican and converted to Islam in 1997.[1] Brown graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in History in 2000 from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., studied Arabic for a year at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad at the American University of Cairo, and completed his doctorate in Islamic thought at the University of Chicago in 2006.[2]”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_A.C._Brown

  32. Michael Waterhouse
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 4:43 am | Permalink

    Quite a few people have been advocating violence and suppression of free speech because they claim some ideas have been proven to be wrong and deserve ‘no’ consideration any more.

    Apart from the fact that someone like Milo does not say what those people claim he does say, if it is a responsibility to shut down that kind of speech, full stop, why is it not equally mandatory to shut down this kind of speech.

    Surely it meets the criteria of totally debunked ‘ideas’.

    The shrieking idiot hell storm at Berkeley ‘should’ be applied to a lot of Islamic speakers too, but, no.

  33. Posted February 12, 2017 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    “Salam, ‘slave rape’ is a tough term to decipher from a Shariah perspective. A male owner of a female slave has the right to sexual access to her. Though he could not physically harm her without potentially being held legally accountable if she complained, her ‘consent’ would be meaningless since she is his slave” – Dr Jonathan Brown (Muslim apologist convert).

    https://np.reddit.com/r/islam/comments/3h1abm/this_is_dr_jonathan_brown_professor_at_georgetown/cu3dkhd

    https://postimg.org/image/s4h1cpl7b/

    “…But it’s not possible to say that slavery is inherently, absolutely, categorically immoral in all times and places, since it was allowed by the Quran and the Prophet. 4) Slave women do not have agency over their sexual access, so their owner can have sex with them.” – (Dr Jonathan Brown)

    https://postimg.org/image/4ig8x6wyp/

    “I don’t think there is anything to assume or not. I could be wrong but I think it just means that slaves’ consent, like children’s consent on things, doesn’t really matter.” – (Dr Jonathan Brown)

    https://postimg.org/image/78d5mupdd/

    “In light of the accusations leveled against me for making a simple statement of historical fact (including, apparently, one person saying they were ‘mortified’ by my post), here is a sentence from Kecia Ali’s very good Huff post article: “For premodern Muslim jurists, as well as for those marginal figures who believe that the permission [for slavery] still holds, the category “rape” doesn’t apply: ownership makes sex lawful; consent is irrelevant.” – (Dr Jonathan Brown)

    https://postimg.org/image/z4m73dhpz/

    Appears to even allude to the the vulnerable nature of captives/slave…

    “Yes, the emotions and disturbances caused by slavery and rape are beyond my capacity to adresss.”

    https://postimg.org/image/8brbndkrl/

    The latter four comments can be found in this Facebook link (below) though after the controversial lecture and article in regards to slavery and rape, he deactivated his account. Luckily others have screenshot his posts.

    https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10153610935599850&id=507354849

    Though in the aftermath of controversy and criticism, given his recent Tweet account he now says…

    “Islam as a faith and I as a person condemn slavery, rape and concubinage.” – Dr Jonathan Brown

    …I’m not sure if this was genuine or if he just said it to shut his critics up. Given his past posts and lecture/article in regards to slavery and rape, not sure if this is just a condemnation of slavery, rape and concubinage as once practiced by some non-Muslims and permitted in non-Islamic philosophies and not extending this condemnation to Islam and Muslims who justify and permit slavery, rape and concubinage.”

    https://mobile.twitter.com/JonathanACBrown/status/830474950481883136

    The above post can be seen here…

  34. Posted February 12, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Can anyone enlighten me why racialized slavery is a bad thing but non-racialized slavery is OK?

  35. Posted February 12, 2017 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Islam, as Christianity, is a corrupt and outdated social system. Mired (both of them essentially) in the dogmatic and draconian morality of the dark ages, they seek to control people and set rules of conduct that are insensitive and inhumane.
    A lot of Islamic law stems from the Bible, so it’s no surprise that, although the two religions aren’t comparable today in their excesses and abuses, they both have the same potential for them.

    Although certain Muslims today seem to be the worst offenders in terms of religious oppression, i have no doubt that, were Christianity to gain control over the secular governments that it resides in today, the results would be similar.

    • Posted February 12, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

      …we might even get to see that happen here now as the Trump administration enables the religious right. With the majority of government in the USA under the control of right wing theocrats, i’m sure we’ll start to see laws and interpretations increasingly influenced by religious ideology.

      • Diane G.
        Posted February 12, 2017 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

        Planned Parenthood will almost certainly be defunded. Oh those sacred zygotes.

    • somer
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 4:30 am | Permalink

      I agree (particularly in the US Im afraid) there are still some vile fundamentalist Christians who believe marriage = consent and young marriage is good to ensure female chastity in terms of faithfulness to husband and homosexuals deserve to die. But such sentiments are always rather more extreme in Islam. The Quran allows polygamy and holds up the Prophet as exemplar for all men. Certainly there are approving references to slavery in the Old and New testaments – but referring to extinct peoples and not as part of a proscribed perpetual holy war against unbelievers – who may be taken as slaves. The Old testament bits where God for example tells Joshua, Moses etc to kill the rest and take virgins as slaves – refer to specific extinct civilisations at war with the Israelites at a particular time not to followers of non jewish religions in general. Moreover Talmudic scholars post the fall of the temple have greatly watered down the harsher bits of the Old testament.

      But that’s not all. As we know Islam is very specific and prescriptive on matters sexual In the other “religions of the book” there is no equivalent of a statement in the Quran that only other legitimate ways to take a sexual partner apart from marriage – is to acquire a female slave in war or by purchase. Such a slave is one who was (or whose ancestors were) originally a captured infidel/s and whose body is perpetually available to service the sexual desires of the master. There is no equivalent either in Christianity of statements in the Quran that say a woman should either be confined in the house for life or flogged for sexual misdemeanours – changed by hadith to stoning – and although Judaism prescribes such stoning the Talmud many ages ago whittled this down to symbolic punishment a process which did not occur in Islam. There is no equivalent in Islam either of Reform Judaism or liberal Christian churches or even Vatican II and Catholic (formal at least) acceptance of Evolution. Finally, although there is plenty of misogyny in the history and scriptures of the other religions – a misogyny that progressively softened in Christianity in the middle ages and beyond although always clear. There is no equivalent in Christianity or Judaism of the Islamic obsession with kin ties (starting with the Qurannic outline of obligations to and guardianship by Mahram relatives) and repeated prescriptions in sahih hadith that god requires the wife to always be sexually available to the husband including at times when she is very busy, and many sayings like “There are three people whose prayers will not be accepted, neither their good works: …. a woman whose husband is angry with her, until he is pleased with her again” or the scriptures saying that each night a woman will be cursed by the angels if she refuses sex with her husband until she does. Finally there is not the overt statements that the woman is literally property of the man within marriage such as in the Hidaya which states that Zina or whoredom (adultery) is
      “the carnal connection of a man with a woman who is not his property either by right of marriage or of bondage, and in whom he has no erroneous property …What is here said is the definition of whoredom with respect to a man; as to the whoredom of a woman it simply signifies her admitting the man to commit the act”

      • somer
        Posted February 13, 2017 at 4:51 am | Permalink

        or the scriptures saying that each night a woman will be cursed by the angels if she refuses sex with her husband until she does. – sorry should be “scriptures saying that when a woman refuses sex with her husband and he is angry with her all night, the angels will curse her” Or for that matter the Hidaya saying the husband is the possessor of the wife and the wife the person possessed.

  36. cooeerup
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    I don’t agree he shouldn’t be fired. Granted he shouldn’t be fired for giving a lecture on the barbarity of Islam, but he also expressed his personal opinions on a couple of subjects I would consider to be incitement to violence. Sex without consent is considered violent in the US isn’t it? Kidnapping people without their consent to use them as you see fit, for labour & sex, is considered violent isn’t it. His line, paraphrased, – the prophet owned slaves, are you more moral than the prophet? – was chilling.
    If we can remove educators for teaching creationism in science class, can’t we remove professors for teaching rape & slavery is still ok in a religion class?

  37. Rich Sanderson
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Did any of you realise that Pharyngula and all the other “social justice” blogs at FreeThoughtBlogs are all strangely quiet on this one….

    …of course you all did – the Sun rose this morning.

  38. Rich Sanderson
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    BTW, nobody will be surprised (again) that when some poster made reference to this at Pharyngula, the shutters went up, and they went to “attack the messenger” mode, complete with a smear on Maajid Nawaz, of course.

    Pharyngula hoardsters – slavery and rape apologists, the lot of them.

    Congratulations to Ophelia Benson, though. She has condemned this vile professor.


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