Confirmation bias writ large: C. J. W*rl*m*n argues that the slaughter at the Sufi mosque wasn’t religious but political

I’m not able to print the full name of the man who wrote what’s below on Twitter (if I do I’ll have to pay someone), but the name does appear in some of the tweets. The Person In Question has undergone a sea change from being a diehard atheist to an inveterate denier that religion—especially Islam—can ever do anything bad. (He also left mainstream journalism after being found guilty of multiple instances of plagiarism.) This, of course, is the position of the Regressive Left.

The religion-can-do-no-wrong stand, however, becomes problematic when considering the recent Islamist terrorist attack on the Sufi mosque in the Sinai peninsula, where the death toll has now climbed to at least 305, including 27 children. Given that Sufis are considered heretical Muslims, and have long been the victims of persecution by other Muslims, wouldn’t it be likely that this attack was motivated by religious differences?

Not according to the Man Who Shall Not Be Named. (Note: don’t watch the video if you don’t like the sight of blood or dead bodies.)

Someone asked him about the non-religious basis of terrorism:

And here is the man’s response.

Now I’m not sure what he means but “weaponizing”, or who the “political entrepeneurs” are, and it’s not true that Sufis, as he implies, are Shiites (some are, but most consider themselves from an offshoot of Sunni Islam).  What I don’t understand is why politics, often infused with ideology, can be responsible for mass killings, yet somehow religion (also a form of ideology) is immune. A priori there would seem to be no difference: in fact, people often consider their identities to be based more on religious than political beliefs. So there’s no reason to draw a distinction from the outset between politics and religion.

But the real evidence against the man’s thesis is empirical. Historically, religions have undoubtedly played a role, often a substantial one, in warfare and killing. In Europe, many died because they were the wrong kind of Christian. And what we see here is similar: many Sufis died because they were the wrong kind of Muslim. Muslim terrorists kill more Muslims than they do Westerners: is that the result of “political mobilization”? Some might be instigated by Western interference, but not incidents like this mosque, or the killing of apostates and gays, not to mention the oppression of women.

Finally, we have ISIS’s explicit announcement, in their own magazine Dabiq (see the article “Why we hate you and why we fight you“), that the main reasons this group kills non-Muslims involve Western rejection of Islam and of the hegemony of Allah, their mockery of Islam, and their secularism. Here’s reason #1 out of six (the first four four all involve rejecting Islam and Allah):

We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers; you reject the oneness of Allah – whether you realize it or not – by making partners for Him in worship, you blaspheme against Him, claiming that He has a son, you fabricate lies against His prophets and messengers, and you indulge in all manner of devilish practices. It is for this reason that we were commanded to openly declare our hatred for you and our enmity towards you. “There has already been for you an excellent example in Abraham and those with him, when they said to their people, ‘Indeed, we are disassociated from you and from whatever you worship other than Allah. We have rejected you, and there has arisen, between us and you, enmity and hatred forever until you believe in Allah alone’” (Al-Mumtahanah 4). Furthermore, just as your disbelief is the primary reason we hate you, your disbelief is the primary reason we fight you, as we have been commanded to fight the disbelievers until they submit to the authority of Islam, either by becoming Muslims, or by paying jizyah – for those afforded this option – and living in humiliation under the rule of the Muslims. Thus, even if you were to stop fighting us, your best-case scenario in a state of war would be that we would suspend our attacks against you – if we deemed it necessary – in order to focus on the closer and more immediate threats, before eventually resuming our campaigns against you. Apart from the option of a temporary truce, this is the only likely scenario that would bring you fleeting respite from our attacks. So in the end, you cannot bring an indefinite halt to our war against you. At most, you could only delay it temporarily. “And fight them until there is no fitnah [paganism] and [until] the religion, all of it, is for Allah” (Al-Baqarah 193).

Is ISIS lying here, covering up explicitly political motivations (#5 and #6) in favor of religious ones? Why would they do that?

Now it’s not yet clear whether ISIS was responsible for this horrific attack on Sufis (reports claim that the attackers were carrying ISIS flags), but ISIS is a major cause of terrorism, and they’ve stated their reasons explicitly. On what grounds does W*rl*m*n claim that ISIS is lying and that he alone knows the real reasons for their terrorism?

Well, we know why: he is lying for his cause. I won’t speculate on the psychological reasons for his transition from denigrating religion to being an avid defender of Islam. What’s clear is that because his thesis cannot be disproven by any evidence, it need not be taken seriously.  I would ask him this: What evidence would it take to convince you that religion played a substantial role in terrorist attacks? 

66 Comments

  1. somer
    Posted November 26, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Ah the very charming Courtney J Werleman ….

  2. jaxkayaker
    Posted November 26, 2017 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    CJ really is terrible at rationalism. He blames the differences on politics and excuses religion as though they’re mutually exclusive, which they most certainly are not. You can see it on many scales, not only in the various schisms and inquisitions that historically rocked European Christendom, as you point out, Jerry, but even individual independent churches in modern times have split over differences of opinion. Southern Baptists broke with other baptists in the 1800s over slavery (southern baptists supported it).

    I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt, but it’s clear that CJ is simply a liar. Maybe he’s lying to himself first, but that doesn’t change the fact of it.

  3. phoffman56
    Posted November 26, 2017 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    For several years, BBC World, likely all BBC, has forced their announcers to never utter the words “Islamic State” without preceding it with “so-called”. And the “so-called refers to “Islamic”, not to “State”, I’m sure.

    Well, they don’t want to lose viewers, and many Muslims prefer to regard ISIS as somehow non-Islamic. However many of them, perhaps even more, also regard Sufis as non-
    Islamic, though no such sensitivity by BBC is shown there, nor with the Ismaili sect.

    Even more to the point here, the Egyptian correspondent, when reporting on this story (perhaps she’s just contracted, not a BBC employee), did say “so-called Islamic State” at first, but then gave the game away, by saying something like ‘This is caused by a fight between two versions of Islam’, something to that effect, I didn’t record the exact wording. It was not a battle between two so-called versions, or between one so-called and one genuine version.

    Maybe it’s time for BBC to stop the bullshit.

    • Posted November 26, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      The BBC probably has a policy in which the reporter refers to “so-called Islamic State” the first time it is mentioned in the piece: thereafter, invariably s/he calls it “Islamic State”. That is what I have noticed about their reports over the years. I suspect I see otherwise intelligent Middle East reporters mildly irritated at the necessity of using such a mouthful, and one which they know is ideologically-loaded and empirically plain wrong.

      Now that ISIS no longer has a state (or just a rump) the BBC actually now does have more logic on its side. If the phrase “so-called Islamic State” was questioning the statehood of the Caliphate, then the Beeb used to have less of a case: the Caliphate did indeed perform many of the tasks of a state, albeit in gangster-type form. Nowadays, ISIS is actually a so-called Islamic State. And the same applies to its so-called provinces (the equivalent of “affiliates” for the al-Qaeda network).

      If the phrase was querying the Islamness of ISIS, then the BBC should call, for instance, the Pakistani Islamist terrorist group “Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami” so-called… The same applies to “Jamaat-e-Islami” the Pakistani terrorist group which formed the backbone of the anti-Soviet forces in the Soviet-Afgan war.

      If the BBC wants to query the Islamness of ISIS, then, if it were being logically consistent, it should prefix with the phrase “so-called” all Islamist terrorist groups with the word “Islamic” in their name. It does not, presumably because it wants to associate only good consequences with religious belief in general, and to distance bad consequences from faith enacted.

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted November 26, 2017 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

        The Beeb is on a loser whatever it does. If it just says “ISIS” or “Islamic State”, it gets hammered by those who think this nomenclature gives the organisation some credibility. If it adds the prefix “so-called” it gets hammered by those who think it’s being mealy-mouthed. Add to that the ever-present need not to offend any religious sensibilities whatsoever (otherwise there will be letters to the Torygraph…), and one begins to understand their unwillingness to ascribe evil consequences to any religion at all.

        • Posted November 26, 2017 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

          Well, the Beeb called ISIS just “Islamic State” in 2014 before it was clear that ISIS was acting like a state. Logically, it should now revert to calling it “Islamic State”.

          The peculiar thing is that I have even seen some terrorism experts using the “so-called…” when they all know that ISIS acted like a state and was rooted in some (plausible) interpretation of Islam. It is as if the Beeb dribbled its vocabulary into the demotic of the counter-terrorism business.

          Were the BBC consistent, it would editorialise with “so-called” Hizballah (Party of Allah), so-called HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement) and even so-called Muslim Brotherhood (although it is slightly more quietist than the fomer two).

          We all know that it is part of the Beeb’s constant euphemizing of the connection between Islam and bad things, and frankly the debate is as nothing ompared to misery that the groups actually cause: still, it would be nice if some top Beeb man admitted it. Nobody likes taqiyya, especially when you know someone is lying on behalf of something they don’t actually believe in.

    • phoffman56
      Posted November 26, 2017 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      Replying to both replies, which are nice to see since I invariably don’t get any, three things:

      (1) That the “so-called” refers to “State” rather than to “Islamic” is scarcely credible, and Dermott’s 2nd response seems to prove that. I’m quite sure BBC won’t change their policy because there’s no state left (not even a quantum (size) state, if you’ll excuse a bad pun).

      (2) That any announcer drops the “so-called” after the first mention of it is something I’ve never heard once in the last 3 years, probably over 1000 ISIS reports on BBC World. Maybe it’s a ‘deaf spot’ of mine, but I doubt it. Maybe Dermott can mention at least the name of the announcer who does that, and I’ll perk up my ears for him or her.

      (3) That BBC does not use “so-called” in front of various other organizations is simply because ISIS is far worse for the public image of Islam than the others, especially in the view of Islam apologists.

      In general, I’m a fan of BBC to the extent that I’m a fan of any TV news. But no credible news source should tailor their phraseology for any segment of audience.

      Of course Faux News does that all the time, but that’s maybe secondary to just plain old lying assholes in their case. If there were a god who said he was going to bring on infinite suffering to one of Drumpf or Murdoch, whether I made the choice he(?) offered me or not, I might very well choose Murdoch, after pleading for both.

      • Posted November 26, 2017 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

        It looks, phoffman, like BBC World has a different policy to the BBC as it transmits within the U.K.

        I am sure that I am right that all BBC ME reporters, Jeremy Bowen, John Simpson, Lyse Doucet, Orla Guerin say “so-called” the first time that they mention Islamic State and then drop it in any subsequent mentions. I find it difficult to imagine that there might be differently-recorded packages for home and foreign consumption, merely from the point of view of cost: it’s possible, I suppose, but then my licence fee would be wasted on making such excellent journalists as the above recording essentially the same report twice.

        • phoffman56
          Posted November 26, 2017 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

          I’ll listen more carefully. The women frequently report on BBC World, Simpson occasionally, and Bowen never I think. Perhaps I have a ‘deaf spot’ there, and I promise to admit it here if it happens in the next couple of weeks!

          We tended to stick to them, CBC and PBS. But now, with the ongoing Drumpf soap-opera, CNN is a temptation not always resisted. Being retired causes non-resistance to time-wasting temptation more frequent.

        • phoffman56
          Posted November 29, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink

          Two weeks is too long.

          The little I’ve watched tends to show we’re both right. I am because they always say “so-called” before “Islamic State”. Dermott’s correct that they only say it at the first mention, because they never say “Islamic State” more than once. After the first time, if anything, it’s “I.S.” the letters, or “ISIS” the four-letter word (a pathetic double entendre in case you hadn’t noticed!). Neither has the “..Islam..” in it.

          Of course whether that was also true for the last few years remains to be seen from the diligent research of someone who wants to waste lots of time.

          Anyway, cut the crap, BBC!

  4. Norbert Francis
    Posted November 26, 2017 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Part of us says that we should ignore these crack-pot apologists of Islamic-state terrorism (and its different factions, iterations and competing movements). But this tendency within the left appears to be growing, sad to say. So the debate with these anti-democracy fanatics is now necessary. Their position seems to be that the fundamentalist movement is a justified response to the Great Satan Western Imperialism; that in effect ISIS et al. is a kind of anti-imperialist struggle (albeit misguided in its methods). Sadly, many on left fall for this way of seeing the world today. It takes different forms, one more nuanced than the other.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 26, 2017 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    It’s particularly obtuse for asterisk-man to draw a politics/religion distinction regarding an attack likely carried out in furtherance of Islamism, which is overtly political. (Indeed, its alternative name is “political Islam.”) Islam, and especially Islamism, recognizes no church-state distinction, observes no doctrine analogous to “render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s.”

  6. Jake Sevins
    Posted November 26, 2017 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Sorry to be dense, but why the asterisks? Jerry says he’d have to “pay someone” if he used the man’s full name?

    I’ve noticed Jerry will use tw*tt*r sometimes as well and I don’t get it. Oh, and PuffHo, etc.

    • Posted November 26, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      I suppose I should have a side document explaining my charming peccadilloes like these. I’ll just do one here: I said, in a post long ago, that if a reader ever caught me mentioning this odious man’s name again, I’d pay him/her/hir/its/they $100 or so. But I’m allowed to use asterisks.

      Maybe the readers can explain the other oddities like “tw**t,” “d*g”, and so on.

      • BJ
        Posted November 26, 2017 at 10:36 am | Permalink

        I like your use of asterisks in the name of the nasty nincompoop in question. Somehow, the asterisks make reading **’s name slightly more palatable. The person who engaged you in this bet provided a valuable service.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted November 26, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

        Ok, I’ll bite.

        Our host has an antipathy toward certain words (or toward the concepts or people or things those words signify) so declines to spell them out, substituting asterisks for the vowels instead (though I also like to think of it has his sly meta-commentary on the supposed magic powers of certain words — that some words are so verboten one dare not speak their names — but then I’m a sucker for such epistemological solipsism, and it’s a slow weekend). 🙂

        • Jake Sevins
          Posted November 26, 2017 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

          And these words include “tweet” and “dog”? I’m gathering Jerry likes cats (yes, I’m that perceptive), but he seems to have no distaste for dogs, so why the asterisk?

          And PuffHo?

          Thanks Ken and Jerry for the tutorial! 🙂

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted November 26, 2017 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

            Well as you know the Huffington Post is referred to as HuffPo – which is a friendly little shortened version. It’s rabbits gambolling in a sunlit woodland glade! Now, when you’re dismissive of HuffPo why not make fun of them by Spoonerising them to PuffHo?

            Which just happens to evoke puffery & a lack of authority [in my mind anyway]

            It just occurs to me that shortened proper names are usually an indication of friendly, matey respect. in the UK that’s Kevin/Kev, Darren/Daz, David/Daz, Terry/Tez in Birmingham & Terry/Tel in London, Barry/Baz

            Then in the UK at private schools it gets more complex & basically if you haven’t got a shortened nickname you are without a pulse. This has passed over to the infinitely ridiculous game of cricket so players you like have cutesy names. It’s all rather ‘ahem’ gay if yer arsk me:

            Jonathan Agnew = Spiro, Aggers
            Ian Botham = Beefy
            Robin Jackman = Jackers
            Brian Johnston = Johnners
            Craig McMillan = Macca
            David Shepherd = Shep
            Alan Wilkins = Wilko

            • Kevin
              Posted November 26, 2017 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

              They resolved the nickname problem for the Irish in the British Army or Air force.

              Patrick = Paddy
              Brendan = Paddy
              Sean = Paddy
              Eamnon = Paddy
              Fergal = Paddy

              No confusion there.

              I got a novel nickname from a Greek girlfriend: Kevinaki (equivalent to Kevvy) which is the Greek diminutive (i.e. Little Kevin which is amusing since I am 6’7″).

              For women the Greeks often put -ulla as a suffix
              Dimitra = Dimitrulla

              Italians have -accio meaning big and nasty
              Paolaccio= Big Bad Paul

              Berlusconi = Merdaccio

              • Posted November 26, 2017 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

                Is your name not Bruce then?.

              • Kevin
                Posted November 26, 2017 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

                No, but if I ever go to Australia, they’ll call me Bruce anyway.

                Years ago at college, my tutor said “I’ve seen the list of new students for next year. One of them is from Australia”.
                One student asked, “What’s his name? I suppose he’s called Bruce”
                General laughter all round.
                The tutor said, “His name’s Bruce”.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted November 26, 2017 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

            I suppose surnames are shortened rather than first names in British sports & posh British Schools because everyone is referred to by their surnames – master & boy alike. ahem.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted November 26, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

            D*g out of respect for cats! And then there’s the Black D*g which pops up here pictorially now & then [sometimes without commentary]. For that I refer you to Samuel Johnson & also one of the many myths that cling to Sir Winston Churchill!

            • Posted November 26, 2017 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

              My house on Dartmoor is in Darke Lane, just below Gibbet Hill. There is a village called “Black Dog” in Devon.

              How I wish I could put the three together in my address. It would be the most M.R. James address in the U.K.

              • Posted November 27, 2017 at 6:29 am | Permalink

                That would be a great address. I had an old friend (now sadly deceased) whose address included “Mr Mole, Windrush, Sandy Lane, Wildmoor”. As I recall it wasn’t quite as idyllic and Wind in the Willows as it sounds.

  7. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 26, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    The fellow does not even seem to get the political side of things right. If this was ISIS and we are pretty sure it was, why do they kill their own. And why the Sinai? Because this is now where they are concentrating their operations since getting beat in Iraq and Syria. This is easy for them because Egypt and their current leader are easy pick’ins. ISIS is attempting to find other countries to operate in and this is one. I would say the attack on the Mosque is as much a recruitment massacre as anything. Also it is easy because Egypt spends all it’s money on conventional military and nothing that would do well against this type of enemy.

    If it is the West they hate why do they make enemies of their own, who are eventually the ones who will remove them and have been removing them in other countries?

    • Posted November 26, 2017 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

      Since when did religious dogma obey logic?

  8. GBJames
    Posted November 26, 2017 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    sub

  9. tomh
    Posted November 26, 2017 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    The NYT had an article yesterday on why ISIS has been targeting Sufis for several years now, “To the World, They Are Muslims. To ISIS, Sufis Are Heretics.” It has nothing to do with politics.

  10. Historian
    Posted November 26, 2017 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Peter Gottschalk is a Professor of Religion at Wesleyan University. He has posted an interesting article explaining the Sufi sect and why the religious conservatives of ISIS oppose them. He notes the following:

    —————————–

    “So, why do some groups like the so-called Islamic State violently oppose them?
    I argue, there are two reasons: First, some Sufis – as illustrated by Rabia, the Sufi from Basra – deliberately flout the Islamic conventions of their peers, which causes many in their communities to condemn their unorthodox views and practices.”

    “Second, many Muslims, not just militants, consider shrine devotion as superstitious and idolatrous. The popularity among Muslims and non-Muslims of tomb veneration alarms many conservative Muslims.”

    —————————-
    Thus, according to Gottschalk, if ISIS is responsible for the attack, the motivation was religious.

    https://www.alternet.org/world/who-are-sufis-and-why-does-see-them-threatening

  11. Posted November 26, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    “The Person In Question has undergone a sea change from being a diehard atheist to an inveterate denier…”

    Your vocabulary is so much larger than mine that I’ve gotten into the habit of highlighting words that I don’t know, like inveterate, and clicking Search Google for… to see what they mean.

    But in this case your use of that word seems self-contradictory! According to Google it means “having a particular habit, activity, or interest that is long-established and unlikely to change.” 😉

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted November 26, 2017 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      I think Jerry was using it as a synonym for “habitual.” CJ Asterisk has been at this chronic lying thing for a few years now. That should be sufficient to qualify for inveterateness. 🙂

    • Posted November 27, 2017 at 6:35 am | Permalink

      Dr Athe, you could save yourself a lot of time by downloading WordWeb, and saving it to your taskbar. Then each time you come across a new word, just Ctrl + right click for a definition and synonyms.

  12. Eric Grobler
    Posted November 26, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    People also ignore the inverse.
    If a fundamental/explicit tenant of a religion is non-violence then it would be more far more difficult to “use religion for political violent ends” than is the case with Islam for example.

    • Kevin
      Posted November 26, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Don’t see that argument. It applies also to Christian history. Christianity in its declaration is more anti-violent than Islam.
      In practice………………..

      • Eric Grobler
        Posted November 26, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

        “It applies also to Christian history.”
        Valid counter argument.

        I was thinking of a religion like Jainism.

        Perhaps Christianity is handicapped by it’s connection with the Old Testament.
        However I still think it is easier to rouse Muslims into Jihad vs Christians into a crusade because Jihad is an essential part of Islam and their founder was basically a warlord.

        My point is that the religious beliefs of a particular group (and which tenants they emphasize) can make them less prone to violent in a political milieu.
        It will be easier to agitate Suni salafists into political violence than Sufis.

        • kirbmarc
          Posted November 26, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

          Sufis as a whole aren’t peaceful. There are plenty of fundamentalist Sufis (the Deobandi branch is not much better than the Salafis).

          • Eric Grobler
            Posted November 26, 2017 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

            I was not aware of that, thanks for pointing that out (and pissing on the last hope I had for humanity)

        • Kevin
          Posted November 26, 2017 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

          Even the Jains are not really exempt: various of their prime movers had been effectively warlords, fought to consolidate their authority, then embraced Jainism in their old age. Very convenient.
          Jainism’s pacific nature could explain why it has not expanded: not aggressive enough. Other factors too, like geography, economic/political reasons. Jainism could ‘morph’ when required.

          There was a thread on WEIT some time ago.
          I think called “It’s the religion stupid”
          which dealt with this issue (ISIS religion/politics).

          Christianity does not have a leader (Christ I mean, not the Pope) who is a warlord.
          However Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire for political expediency. It’s guilty by association in a certain sense. If that hadn’t happened, Christianity very likely would not still exist.

          There is also a certain irony there, in that the seeds of aspirant Christianity effectively grew out of a period in which the Jews were militating against Roman dominance. Then the offshoot of their own religion effectively became the useful tool to their oppressor.

          I can’t really imagine a religion reaching status as a major world presence without it also having a strong political influence. I think the two are unavoidably integrated.
          As I said, psychopolitics.

          • Eric Grobler
            Posted November 26, 2017 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

            Kenvin you are just like kirbmarc, killing my argument and pissing on any hope I had for humanity.
            Less facts and more optimism please!

            • Kevin
              Posted November 26, 2017 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

              Not wishing to micturate on your dreams for the human race.

              I think it is the mindset behind that is the problem. Religion does not help with logical thinking.

              I grew up and lived with the Irish “Troubles”.
              I wish I could say it was just religion.
              Its more tribalism, dispute over land, wealth, historic grievance, political control and ascendancy, which group you belong to.

              Religion is the group identifier, it draws down the line in the sand.
              That’s about it really.

              The dove is never free (L. Cohen).

          • Eric Grobler
            Posted November 26, 2017 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

            “I can’t really imagine a religion reaching status as a major world presence without it also having a strong political influence. I think the two are unavoidably integrated.”

            Nice observation, however some religions like Buddhism used far less violence than say Islam to achieve worldwide influence.

            • kirbmarc
              Posted November 26, 2017 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

              That’s because of secularism/separation of church and state and liberal democracy. The more secular and the closer to a liberal democracy a country is, the less violent the majority religion of that country becomes.

              The biggest current problem with islam is that the most well-paid, well-connected and powerful religious leaders in the “muslim world” are supported by the Gulf theocracy and other theocratic states, which also pay and train people who reinforce and enact those ideas among the muslim people in the “west”.

              There had been the beginning of a proto-secularization among Middle Eastern cultural elites in the ’50s and ’60s. Then the proto-liberal democratic Mossadegh government was overthrown, which led to the Shah being overthrown, Iran became an islamic theocracy and the GCC countries spread their theocratic ideas everywhere, from Afganistan to the Maldives.

              Imagine if all the public institutions in the US were completely in the hands of the snake handling Christian sects.

  13. Kevin
    Posted November 26, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    “Is ISIS lying here, covering up explicitly political motivations (#5 and #6) in favor of religious ones? Why would they do that?”

    I think they are partly lying, in that they are not explaining ALL their motives. The religious justifier gives the idea that God is on their side. Makes you look “moral”. They may actually believe it themselves.

    There is an internal conflict within different factions of Islam and an external one towards the non-Muslim world.

    ISIS I would define as a form of theo-fascism.
    It is not possible to distinguish between the religious and the political here.

    They want to impose themselves and that’s it.
    You could take the religion out and it would change very little bar the detail. They would still be Fascists albeit secular.

    If you look at historical “religious” conflict there are always inevitable underlying political motivations usually concerning ascendancy.

    Religion is ALWAYS politics!

    • Kevin
      Posted November 26, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      P.S. I would suggest renaming religion as “psychopolitics”. It might help keeping Creationism and ID out of the science class.

      • Eric Grobler
        Posted November 26, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

        They might counter you by using a term like Truthscience

        • Kevin
          Posted November 26, 2017 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

          Truthscience? Aaaaargh!!!!

          The truth is already implicit in science, ain’it?

          LieScience comes to mind (not to be confused with Life Science).
          WarpScience (smacks a bit of Star Trek though)
          FlexiScience (takes any form you like)
          FundieScience (science from a single book)
          BornAgainScience
          HovindScience (that is science with the science part removed)
          LaLaLandScience
          LobotomisedScience
          CastratedScience
          BolloxedScience (particularly popular in Ireland)
          BanjaxedScience (similar to the Bolloxed version but more polite)
          FakeScience (Which Trump will later claim to have invented)

          NonScience (the most frightening horror story of all)

          • Eric Grobler
            Posted November 26, 2017 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

            “CastratedScience”

            That is the religion I want the world to follow!

            • Kevin
              Posted November 26, 2017 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

              Man A: Which church do you go to?
              Man B: Castrated Scientist.
              Man A: Excuse me. Christ Scientist?
              Man B: No. No. Castrated.

          • Posted November 26, 2017 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

            Alternative Science is Trump’s sect. I do look forward to the Sudo Science sect though.

            • Kevin
              Posted November 27, 2017 at 7:06 am | Permalink

              Isn’t SudoScience a splinter group of CommandlineScience? (Computerised religion in which adherents commune with their deity all 24 hours of the day, but are forbidden to use a mouse or any normal human language)

        • Kevin
          Posted November 27, 2017 at 6:59 am | Permalink

          VagueScience (science with absolutely no evidential basis)
          TweetScience (All theories together with supporting evidence have to be expressed in less than 280 characters, including emoticons)

  14. kirbmarc
    Posted November 26, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    There are some things to be clarified, because they’re not really that clear, or easy to understand.

    1) Sufism isn’t a specific branch of islam, it’s a series of traditions and interpretations which crosses branches.

    The Sufi tradition is very old, spanning from the first centuries of islamic expansion to the present day. It has no “canon” and it expands or contracts depending on context.

    There are Sunni sufi and Shia sufi, and there are fundamentalist Sufis which aren’t any better than the Salafis (for example the Deobandi branch, which is active in the Indian subcontinent and has a presence in the UK).

    Sufis basically are “mainstream” muslims, not “moderates”. They believe in most of the same things the Salafis believe, they simply has a (varying, and largely amorphous) set of beliefs on top of the Qu’ran and the ahadith, which was stratified through time.

    2) Salafis are a more recent development within islam. They’re Sunni, and they’re a reaction to modernity, which they condemn completely, and they’re incredibly fond of calling takfir, i.e. accusing other muslims of being apostates, for one reason or another.

    Sufis are seen as apostates by the Salafis because of some added tradition or another (it doesn’t really matter, most Salafis see all non-Salafis as apostates or unbelievers anyway).

    3) Most jihadist groups active in recent years are Salafi, financed or supported or given training in many cases by Salafi/Wahabi theocracies (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, etc. etc.)

    ISIS is Salafi, and so was its parent organization Al-Qaeda, and so are other cousin organizations active in the Syrian Civil War (from Arar al-Sham to Jabhat Father al-Sham, formerly al-Nusra).

    4) Not all jihadists/muslim supremacist organizations are Salafi, though: Hezbollah is Shia. Hamas is mainstream Sunni. The Muslim Brotherhood is mainstream Sunni (it was founded by a Sufi).

  15. Jake Sevins
    Posted November 26, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know why, but I’m captivated by CJ Werleman’s story: a mediocre talent with an unquenchable thirst for attention and approval. He stakes out his ideological territory based (in part) on his claim that violence in the Muslim world is not based on religious differences, and then goes after Sam Harris. He then gets called out for at least 14 instances of blatant plagiarism and has a very public unraveling including sockpuppetry, high-school level whataboutery and several nonpologies in an attempt to save himself.

    I feel somewhat ashamed by my schadenfreude, but at the same time cannot seem to look away.

  16. Richard Sanderson
    Posted November 26, 2017 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Ah, yes. ** ******** and his fleas (Johnny “Israel Lobby” Spooner, Sacha “seminal work” Saeen) and other useful idiots like Nathan Lean and Craig Considine, have all parroted the same gormless response.

    Of course, they all have jobs that rely on them making this apologia for Islam.

    These people, along with the likes of Dan Arel, are nasty, bullying individuals and pieces of human garbage.

    • kirbmarc
      Posted November 26, 2017 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      They’re working for the KSA. I’m pretty sure Lean is paid by a Saudi lobby, while Mr. Series of Asterisks is more prosaically connected to CAIR.

      Dan Arel and the fleas are doing it for free, I think.

  17. Posted November 26, 2017 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    If this disgraceful and useless troll had have been the Democratic candidate in 2016, I would have had a degree of understanding for why someone might vote for Trump instead.

    And rendering objections to Sufism to mere politics is to profoundly insult and dismiss Sufism — an ideology that laughs in the face of religion taking itself too seriously. (Mullah Nasruddin should be more widely appreciated.)

  18. Posted November 26, 2017 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Is he blind and mentally constipated?
    One part is religious, the dead worshipers, and the other, the killers, are weaponised political activist.
    Where in this hideous act is there no religious component, these people weren’t at a political rally… dummbkopf!

  19. Taz
    Posted November 26, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    What evidence would it take to convince you that religion played a substantial role in terrorist attacks?

    That’s simple. It would just need to be a non-Islamic religion, preferably Christianity or Judaism.

    • Posted November 26, 2017 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      Given that all Religions of the Book share
      this feature of killing heretics, apostates, people of other religions, etc., I don’t think nonreligious people would consider such actions by any of the religious as being political rather than religious. After all, the instructions to kill came directly from each religion’s god or prophet.

      However, there have been times in history when these three religions were spreading that they were accommodating of other religions. They sometimes used/use bloody jihad to spread their religion and, at other times, used the carrot, not the stick.

      Whether committed for religious or political purposes, the mass killings of individuals and groups who are different from you has to come to an end. It won’t happen in my lifetime, but maybe in my children’s or grandchildren’s. (A Pollyannaish hope!)

  20. Posted November 26, 2017 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    From the tw**t:

    The point is Sunni and Shia get along just fine until political entrepreneurs weaponize differences,

    I don’t suppose it has occurred to C. J. W*rl*m*n to ask why there are Sunni and Shia Muslims. The split happened in the very early days of Islam and involved quite a lot of violence.

    Maybe he is right that it needs a political entrepreneur to weaponise the differences. That’s great until you realise history has no shortage of political entrepreneurs. It’s like trying to transport a vat of nitroglycerine by road. “It’ll be perfectly safe in this truck, it won’t explode unless there’s a sudden jolt…”

  21. J. Quinton
    Posted November 27, 2017 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    The demarcation between politics and religion only came about due to the Enlightenment. Ergo, it only happened in the West.

    For everyone else, there’s no difference between politics and religion. Indeed, religion is just politics that incorporates supernatural entities.

    • Kevin
      Posted November 27, 2017 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      Agree with that.
      The enlightenment only started the process though.
      See 19th century Imperialism (God, King and Country) and the mess that came with it.
      Creationism and ID.
      I’m not sure what it will take to “enlighten” Islam, considering that the “West” is not there yet.
      The American President HAS to be a Christian. Atheism is a no-no.

  22. Posted November 27, 2017 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    I blame the Crusades.


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