Thursday, September 07, 2006

Peters Doesn't Get It

Over on IBA, I comment on the disappointing Ralph Peters' article.

12 Comments:

Blogger beakerkin said...

I disagree to a point.

Peters does note the genuine serious nature of the problem eminating from the Middle East. Peters neglects to point out that the Muslim community in the USA has made zero effort to say these actions do not represent us. What we get is rationalizations and excuses from CAIR.

These rationalizations are also spun by communist poultry. Communist poultry also fails to note that Hezbollah is a narco terrorist organization. Then the Marxist Duck equates the terrorism with the Israeli response or equates Jews to Nazis and wonders why we call him anti-semitic.

9/8/06, 8:27 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

I respect Peters; he is a serious fighter. He realizes the enemy is vicious and has no compunctions to use force. I believe he’s misinformed about the centrality of Islam to the enemy’s struggle and the wide-spread support in the Islamic world for jihadis.

But he’s right, as I said in my IBA article, that there are crazies out there who will bring shame to our cause and we had better distinguish responsible criticism of Islam from the critics who can’t see that there are moderates.

However, it’s the moral obligation of the moderates to do something about the active jihadis among them if they value their lives. We can’t put our lives and the lives of our troops in danger because they refuse to address the problem in their midst.

9/8/06, 9:14 AM  
Blogger Cubed © said...

Did you guys see the CAIR newsletter today (9/8/06)? They LOVED Peters' article, and published it.

I agree with the point that Peters is a very realistic strategist, and the kind of man we want at the helm in times of war; if we are attacked, it doesn't matter to him by whom, he will fight back to win. Like so many people, though, he is a man of mixed premises, but so far, I have great admiration for his non-PC dedication to the notion of winning in war.

I think the problem here is that he has allowed the fact that some Muslims have been nice to him muddy the waters, causing him to forget (if he knows at all) about taqqiya, kitman, and hudna.

There may well be some "moderate" Muslims, but there is no moderate Islam. Truly moderate Muslims are few and far between (Irshad Manji, for example). Unfortunately, I don't think they are numerous enough to influence the goals/methods of Islam - which are not moderate in any way - in our lifetimes.

Given the speed and intransigence with which they continue to pursue the establishment of the world-wide caliphate, we will either have to deal effectively with the overwhelming majority of Muslims or we will not survive.

I think that very few Muslims have no hostility towards the principles embraced in our Constitution. There is great consistency among the attitudes of Muslims towards the infidel, especially us, the Great Satan; only the intensity with which individual Muslims choose to engage us varies.

A WND article quoted a Muslim (not an American citizen) who, when asked whether Muslims in the U.S. can be trusted, responded: "They are taught to be great neighbors and obey the laws of the countries in which they reside until they are called up, then they will slice your throats as easily as they came to your barbeques."

I think that Iran's Ayatollah Fazi-Allah Mahalati made the distinction between a "radical" and a "moderate" very well when he said in 1980 that "A believer. . .who takes up a gun, a dagger, a kitchen knife or even a pebble with which to harm and kill the enemies of the Faith has his place assured in Heaven. An Islamic state is the sum total of such individual believers. An Islamic state is a state of war until the whole world sees and accepts the light of the True Faith."

The difference between a "radical" Muslim and a "moderate" Muslim is essentially whether he choses a gun or a pebble as a weapon. The "radical" Muslim chooses a gun, while the "moderate" Muslim chooses the pebble by not using the gun, but not protesting it either.

Still, the attitude is the same; both the radical and the moderate Muslim seek our destruction.

I think we ignore the difference at our peril.

9/8/06, 10:32 PM  
Anonymous Jeremayakovka said...

Fjordman doubts whether searching or "moderate Muslims" is worthwhile in today's Gates of Vienna.

9/8/06, 10:39 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

As you know Cubed, I agree with you that Peters is an honorable man. I don't agree with the Peters-bashing on the other venues. He has his limitations, a blind spot, and we have to be aware of that. He's not the only one; our work isn't far from finished.

The culture can't turn on a dime. I'm unwilling to damn and give-up on those that still don't get it. There are a lot of good people in that group.

9/8/06, 11:00 PM  
Blogger Cubed © said...

"Peters is an honorable man. I don't agree with the Peters-bashing on the other venues. He has his limitations, a blind spot."

Unfortunate, but true - the blind spot is a huge problem. It is to Peters' credit that he values the integrity of this country more than he values his misconceptions about Islam and Muslims; I truly believe that if some dirty bomb went off somewhere in Middle America, or some such scenario, he would not hesitate to carry out his famous list of "25 things for a superpower to remember" that he wrote about in "When Devils Walk the Earth."

I don't think he'd be unduly concerned about such PC nonsense as avoiding collateral damage at all costs, "proportionate" responses, etc. He would conduct a war to win as quickly and decisively as possible, with the fewest American casualties possible.

I readily admit that I am disappointed beyond belief that he so completely rejects the notion that Islam is an evil, nasty, destructive doctrine.

My guess is that he 1) has a severe case of "I want to believe," and so he's in a massive state of denial, or 2) that he labors under a terrible misconception.

The misconception is common among Christians and Jews. He is a devout Episcopalian, and like lot of Christians and Jews who have evolved in the West for many hundreds of years, he has adopted many principles of Enlightenment ethics, and after so long, believes them to be integral to Christianity and Judaism, at least for purposes of day-to-day living. They have more or less forgotten that in the old days, pre-Renaissance and especially pre-Enlightenment, such was not the case.

Many faithful Christians, and quite a few practicing Jews, have made a false association; they mistakenly believe that because Christians, Jews and Muslims are all "Abrahamic" religions," and because they all worship a single god, that they all necessarily share a moral code that is commonly found in the West, where so many Christians and Jews have lived for centuries. They conclude that that the single god they share is the source of that moral code.

I suppose that if Islam had evolved in the West and had been as heavily influenced by Aristotle and the Enlightenment as Christians and Jews were, present day Muslims would be a very different lot, perhaps more like the Mutazilites who appeared very, very early in Islam, before it had rigidified into the fundamentalist system we see today.

Like many in the West, the Mutazilites respected Aristotle, and contributed heavily to the "Golden Age" of Islam. But unfortunately, they were muscled out of Islam, disappeared, and the fundamentalists took over and cast Islam in stone, never to change again.

Christians and many, many Jews spent generations in the crucible of Western philosophy, while the Muslims did not. Muslims worked over and refined an odd mix of Plato and pre-Islamic tribal beliefs, and never experienced anything like the Enlightenment. They lost their last opportunity to make a comeback when they rejected Ibn Rushd.

The fact that all three religions worship a single god does not by any stretch of the imagination mean that they necessarily have the same moral code or share other philosophic principles. Even the single god has a different origin - the Judeo-Christian god is one and the same, but the Islamic god is the winner of a competition of an ancient pagan Arab pantheon of gods. Naturally, he - Allah - was the winner; he was the god of the sword who was symbolized by the crescent moon.

The false equation ("Abrahamic descent + the worship of a single god = closely related moral codes") is what confuses Bush, and, I suspect, Ralph Peters.

Both have been blindsided by the shared Abrahamic religion issue.

I guess he's one of those who has to learn this lesson the hard way.

Bummer.

9/9/06, 10:53 PM  
Blogger Weingarten said...

Cubed is disappointed that Peters “completely rejects the notion that Islam is an evil, nasty, destructive doctrine” and seeks to explain the source of his error. She notes that his view is shared by many Christians and Jews who see Islam as an “Abrahamic” religion, which worships the same God as they do. Cubed then avers that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, had a common origin, but while the first two evolved (perhaps by compartmentalizing faith and reason) Islam did not. She points out that it is a false equation that "Abrahamic descent + the worship of a single god = closely related moral codes..."

Now I appreciate her seeking the source of the error, and concur with her conclusion. However, I believe that the split between Judaism & Christianity and Islam is more fundamental. (Later, I shall state my case.)

Let us first note that a most powerful means of undermining a doctrine is by going along with it, as one brings it to its opposite. There is a principle in jiu-jitsu where one uses the strength of an opponent to defeat him, wherein one does not stop a thrust, but accelerates it to the demise of the opponent. (This is illustrated by the maxim that “The enemy of the good is the perfect” where the good is defeated by requiring ‘improvement’.)
We are now living out the success of social democracy (or liberalism) which exercises jiu-jitsu upon our aspiration of justice. Historically, socialists (including communists) attempted to defeat our republic and its free-market by speaking against America, and for the overthrow of its civilization. Yet when they found themselves defeated (for example when the USSR was seen to crumble) they adopted a more effective tact. They were now for America and her heritage, but sought to improve it. Let us note that originally a liberal was someone who protected the rights of individuals from the depredations of government. At that time, the socialists were opposed to liberalism. Yet they took on the mantle of liberalism so that it ‘improved’ on rights to include economic rights, and advocated the use of government to do so. Today “liberalism” means the very opposite of its original definition. Our culture was built on an educated populace, yet the social democrats (in order to improve upon education) changed it into indoctrination, so that the public would learn what was right. Similarly, our criminal justice system, instead of being blind to which party was being judged, took a favorable view of the ‘victims’ and an unfavorable view of the ‘oppressors’. *Socially, politically, economically, and culturally, the social democrats have undermined every support of our civilization, as they turned the right to be left alone into the obligation to straighten everything out.* Here, the important thing to note is that all has been done in the name of building America, as liberals go on to insist that we ‘adhere’ to our Constitution (even if it leads to our demise) and support our servicemen (when it helps the enemy).

There is a parallel with Israel, where the Arabs aimed at driving the Jews into the sea, while refusing peace and negotiations. Yet many learned that it was more effective to speak of land for peace, and to negotiate agreements to their advantage (even as they welcomed and defended direct attacks).

Now, some believe that social democracy (or liberalism today) had the same origin as did our Founders, since their advocates present themselves in that manner. Some believe that the Arabs today are concerned with peace and justice, since their advocates present themselves in that manner. Yet fundamentally, their motivation is the very antithesis of virtue.

To make my case with regard to Islam, I now enter an unpublished letter I submitted to Commentary magazine in 1997.

I thank Alain Besançon for raising a central issue by his title "What Kind of Religion Is Islam?" wherein he emphasizes how Islam relates to Judaism and Christianity. Here, rather than viewing Islam as a sister-monotheism, grounded in divine revelation, with a common descent from the patriarch Abraham, he shows it to be an alien departure. Mr. Besançon demonstrates how there "can be no continuity between the Bible and the Qur'an" where even the same terms have antithetic meaning. He might have added that the Islamic meaning of "peace" is submission to domination."

Yet we ought to focus upon the central issue of religion, because the motivation for examining Islam is its challenge, rather than its origin. Having determined the theological and historical separateness of Islam from Christianity and Judaism, it is necessary to define "religion". Here, we may be guided by the theologian A. J. Heschel who views it as what man does with his sense of wonder. This incorporates man's sense of the transcendent, while emphasizing moral behavior. From this vantage point, Islam is the very antithesis of religion, for it subordinates that inner sense to external domination, while applying it to war and conquest. It preaches that faith be spread by the sword, and truth be subordinated to politics. Islam divides the world into Dar al Islam, the "house of Islam" and Dar al Harb, the "house of war" which is the house of infidels who must submit or die. It may similarly be noted that the primary motif of civilization is to restrain barbarism, whereas Islam unleashes it, so that Islam does not constitute a civilization but its antithesis.

Emphasis upon behavior, rather than origin, is crucial to current analysis, for it matters less how others have viewed Islam, than how its followers implement it. Thus, we must judge a tree, not by its roots, but by its fruits. Here, Islam must be understood as an anti-religion (and an anti-civilization) which aims at the destruction of all that is holy. We may note that not even under fascism or communism was there public celebration of atrocities, but only under Islam. Has anyone found any advantage of Islam over Judaism and Christianity, other than its justification for barbarism? If we sought the purest example of an anti-religion, could we find anything other than Islam?

Now, the potency of models results from their simplification. Islam is not a perfected anti-religion, if only because its extremism reduces its power. Yet note how much it has learned, when instead of driving Israel into the sea, it negotiates for "peace" and "human rights" even as it gets the West to reward it with subsidies, legitimacy, and another state. Moreover, its role in ideological insurgency is even more powerful, as it brings the West to sacrifice, to protect a sister religion. Similarly, there is no perfected religion, that spreads its faith solely by example, while resisting aggression. Yet note how Judaism and Christianity have been learning that our democratic values cannot be imposed, and that we cannot pretend that all peoples are good.

The lesson is simple. The power of an anti-religion is not in its bombs, but in its ability to undermine, by speaking in the name of God, and posing as legitimate. How then should we relate to Islam? Let us note that an anti-religion succeeds less by frontal assault than by subterfuge, insinuating itself to exploit our susceptibilities. Yet once religion recognizes that the antidote is not in self-sacrifice, but in depriving the enemy of his legitimacy, the anti-religion self-destructs. To deny legitimacy requires setting a standard, namely, one does not spread faith by force, but admits its failing when employing aggression and deception. Here, while defending against governments that carry out its aims, we must reaffirm our own religion "Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."

9/10/06, 9:31 AM  
Anonymous Amplify said...

Peters continues to make a fool of himself in this article from Frontpage Magazine:

Symposium: 9/11: Five Years Later

9/11/06, 11:43 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Thanks, amplify, Peters is really becoming unhinged. His syndicated column wasn't just a singular rhetorical excess correctible by reasoned analysis. This must have been building inside of him until he blew. The other people in the discussion used measured well-reasoned statements and they give Peters an opportunity to agree in part if he wishes to modify his stance. He doesn’t. His constant bigotry-baiting becomes badgering.

9/12/06, 1:29 PM  
Blogger Cubed © said...

Weingarten,

You are 1) overcomplicating the whole issue, and 2) it is not I who avers "...that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, had a common origin..."

On the contrary, I believe the impression that Islam had a common origin with Christianity and Judaism to be that of many Jews and Christians, thanks largely to the very efficient Islamic propaganda machine that keeps stressing the "Abrahamic" relationship.

Islam wants an Islamic planet, as demanded by its "prophet," and seeks to disarm people in the West (mostly Christians and Jews) psychologically by claiming a relationship that makes us all "brothers under the skin;" this will certainly win over some of the "turn the other cheek" and "love cures all" crowds, as well as those who would rather be dhimmis than take the risk of losing in a fight to the death with the very determined Muslims. No "gates of Vienna" for these folks! Hey, it's not worth the fight if we're all basically alike, right, Paisan?

In addition to the various "flavors" of altruists, there are many people who are just plain ignorant, many who would prefer not to believe that Islam wants to destroy the infidel, or that Islam doesn't give a rat's rear about "getting along" with the infidel. The only "tolerance" Islam has for the infidel is the head-tax they need to collect in order to survive without having to produce anything themselves.

Everything I have read about Peters, as well as a short personal correspondance with him, causes me to believe that he falls into the overall category of the "willingly deceived;" he can't bring himself to believe that the Islamic moral code is so vastly different from our own. This is because he has "friends" among the Muslims. He may also have met some individuals who, like Irshad Manji, would like to reform Islam, perhaps recasting it in the mold of the Mutazilites, but he greatly exaggerates their importance.

My major point is that it doesn't matter whether some Muslims want change! The overwhelming majority of Muslims agree that it is their religious (and therefore to them, their moral) obligation to do whatever they can to help establish the caliphate.

Given the speed with which they are developing everything from terrorist networks to nuclear weapons in the service of that cause gives the would-be reformers far too little time to "do their thing."

The only solution is to get them before they get us, and as a devout Episcopalian, I think Peters would rather cut off his hand (and maybe his opposite foot) than believe that war against Islam is the only way out. He has no particular love for Islam per se, but he wrongly believes that our moral codes must be related and can be appealed to, at least among the reform-minded.

It certainly isn't critical to the present situation to understand the details of the origins of the three major religions, but I find it interesting to try to understand why J & C are so very different from Islam, despite the latter's attempt to calm the West with its claim to a common ancestry.

I believe much of the difference is due to the Hellenistic influence on the Jews beginning with Alexander's conquests, which were compounded by the downstream effects of the diaspora. Most of the The Jews left the eastern Mediterranean after Titus got through with Jerusalem, and many of the refugees settled in Europe. This matters to our little story.

The bulk of the Christians, who truly were born of the same philosophic stock as the Jews - pagan, yes, but strongly Hellenized pagans, who adopted much of what the Jews had to offer through the influence of Jesus, a Jew - were also Europeans.

It is because Europe was the home of the Renaissance that the choice of places to live by the Jews matters.

Plato was the Big Man on Campus for early Christianity, and continued to be so until the reintroduction of Aristotle that kick-started the Renaissance, when a little philosophic competition entered the scene. A HUGELY significant event occurred when the Renaissance got as far as Britain, because the Brits found Aristotle very appealing. Because of their fondness for Aristotle, Britain was the birthplace of the Enlightenment.

All this is important; it is not possible that the European Jews lived in various places in Europe from 70 CE to the present, and in all that time avoided the influence of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. During those 2000 years or so, they absorbed attitudes, if not entire philosophies, that caused them to be inclined to support at some level such notions as individual rights etc.

That is a fairly major cultural, if not purely religious, shift in the attitudes from the old, pre-diaspora days, when they were into stoning, etc.

In fact, in some respects in that era, they shared some attitudes and practices more closely resembling those of their pagan Arab cousins than of their European descendants.

I reiterate, Islam tries - only partly successfully - to convince the West that it is more like us than unlike us. That, of course, is a very large cow pie. The pagan Arabs had a brush with Hellenism after many of the Greek philosophers - particularly the Aristotelian ones - were made uncomfortable after the Romans formally adopted Christianity, and emigrated to the pagan Arab lands and Persia. There, for one brief, shining moment, when Islam conquered those areas, it had a chance to go in the direction begun by one of their sects - the Mutazilites - or go with al-Kindi and al-Ghazali. Al-Kindi and al-Ghazali won, hands down.

There is no doubt that Mohammed was very impressed by both Judaism and Christianity when he went on trade trips with his uncle to what is now Lebanon, and that the "spiritual qualities" of both of these religions appealed to him enough for him to want to incorporate some of their history into his new invention, Islam.

At least they appealed to him until the Jewish tribes in Arabia declined his invitation to convert to his new invention, preferring to retain their own belief system and traditions.

That pissed Mohammed off, and his followers have been pissed off ever since. Because of the close relationship between Judaism Christianity, the Christians became pigs and monkeys too.

So Islam had just a teensy-weensy bit (mostly format and a bit of stolen traditional history) of Judeo-Christian influence. This came mainly through the neo-platonists. A lot of the old pagan Arab rituals, traditions, and customs were retained, though, and we see them to this day.

Islam ultimately totally rejected Aristotle, whose influence was so greatly felt in Europe and especially Britain, whence it spread, via the British explorers and empire to many other parts of the world. That's why the English-speaking world as a whole tends to be the most enthusiastic supporters of the kinds of ideas we find in the U.S. Constitution. Since the Jews were very well assimilated into European culture, and since assimilation involves some sharing of values, it stands to reason that they would give up things like stoning and stuff.

Now you're gonna love this: An additional heresy I believe to be the case is this:

Remember, Aristotelian influence took a left turn when it came to Britain, and that is why Britain was the birth place of the Enlightenment.

Contrast this with the situation in Spain. Spain did not rid itself of its centuries of Islamic occupation until the year Columbus sailed to try to find a shortcut to the East. The last remnant of the Muslim occupation was kicked out after the Renaissance was already off and running in the rest of Europe.

The only reason Isabella underwrote Columbus' trip was that Columbus convinced her that he would find an easy way to the vast wealth of the Far East, and Spain badly needed the cash. It had been impoverished by its long effort to rid itself of the Muslims, and the notion of lots of gold and gems and silk and spices looked like a dream come true. If they could find and control a short route to all that treasure, their troubles would be over.

Columbus sailed the year the Muslims were finally kicked out, and the Spanish explorers began their search for wealth in the New World in ernest about 20 years later. Many of the early explorers had actually lived under Islamic rule.

Even though Spain had remained Christian during the occupation, there is no way that the century after century of Islamic occupation did not leave an attitudinal impression on them; the conquered ALWAYS tend to adopt some of the thinking and practices of their conquerers, since the conquerers are regarded as the "upper class" in society as a whole, and as conquerers, assimilation via the adoption of the thinking and customs of the conquerers was the only way for the conquered to get ahead in life.

I believe that Latin America has absorbed more attitudes from Islam than is generally recognized. While Spain was part of contiguous Europe, and was able to take relatively rapid advantage of the developments of the Renaissance, Spanish Central and South America were very far away in an era of very difficult communication, and lagged far behind Europe when it came to the European explosion in philosophical developments.

This was especially the case since the Spanish New World was regarded primarily as a cash cow, not as a cultural child of the homeland.

I believe this lag between European Spain and Latin America accounts in large part for the oppressive, corrupt governments that exist there today, preventing Latin Americans (especially the Indian subclasses) from making the kind of progress that has made us, in English-speaking North America, so attractive to all those folks sneaking across the border by the hundreds of thousands every year.

I think that this lag also accounts for the receptivity of some of them to to the Nazis (Argentina in particular), communists (Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia in particular), and Hezbollah (the tri-border region of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, to say nothing of ol' Hugo Chevez' willingness to cozy up to Ahmadinejad and Castro).

These views have never been able to gain the same kind of foothold in the English-speaking world as they have in Central and South America, and I attribute that to the fact that we are Aristotle's children, while Spain had to endure the Muslim occupation and its sequelae, which it transmitted to its spheres of influence in the New world.

P.S. Islam is as legitimate a religion as any other. It is not "anti-religion." It is "anti-western moral code." It has the concept of a supernatural entity as its creator, and which is regarded as the source of its moral code.

I repeat: The fundamental, root cause of why it is different from Judaism and Christianity is the philosophical views that it has incorporated, the most obvious expression of which is its vile moral code.

It is precisely this that Peters (and Bush and a lot of others) doesn't understand - that the philosophical views between us and Islam are mutually exclusive.

There can be no "rapprochement" between the Aristotelian faction of the Judeo-Christian West and Islam so long as Islam clings to its present totalitarian philosophy. Never, never, never!

9/12/06, 10:20 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Cubed does an excellent job (although I’m not sure about the Latin American hypothesis) as usual. The overriding factor is the influence of Aristotle. This means not just having Aristotle on the library bookshelves (the Greek Orthodox had that) but understanding, championing, disseminating his works (which Aquinas did with the help of Averroes and Maimonides.) I find it hard to believe that Islam could have been flexible enough to welcome Aristotle in a broad and sustainable manner. I suspect he might have remained an esoteric subject for scholars as he was in the Eastern Orthodox Church. But we’ll never know. That’s all history. Islam is what it is today. We have to face how radically different it is to the West's rationalism/individualism.

My recent post shows how William Buckley can’t seem to get it. He still thinks there is common ground. I’d wish he’d talk to Robert Spencer. Having a common religious background perhaps he could relate to Spencer.

9/12/06, 10:45 PM  
Blogger Weingarten said...

Cubed writes that “it is not I who avers "...that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, had a common origin..."

Now, I apologize for attributing a common origin to Cubed (although my arguments did not depend upon who made that claim). Yet then, she writes 'Islam is as legitimate a religion as any other. It is not "anti-religion." It is "anti-western moral code." It has the concept of a supernatural entity as its creator, and which is regarded as the source of its moral code.'

In this sense, she affirms a commonality to all religions (presumably including those with human sacrifices) which are defined by having a supernatural creator as the source of its moral code.

Now that is fine by her definition, but is not responsive to my phrase of an "anti-religion". I defined "religion"… as what man does with his sense of wonder (and elaborated that) this incorporates man's sense of the transcendent, while emphasizing moral behavior. From this vantage point, Islam is the very antithesis of religion, for it subordinates that inner sense to external domination, while applying it to war and conquest. It preaches that faith be spread by the sword, and truth be subordinated to politics.”

I mention this because *in a discussion of someone’s position, it is necessary to employ their definitions.* So I grant that, by her definition, Islam is as legitimate a religion as any other (although by that criteria I don’t see why any religion per se should be respected, nor why its code should be viewed as moral). However, Cubed could either say by Weingarten’s definition Islam is an anti-religion, or argue that such a definition is mistaken.

Does anyone believe it proper to critique the views of another, by employing different definitions?

9/13/06, 12:12 PM  

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