Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Yes, I'm Afraid Lots of Muslims Do Hate the US

The circus of ridiculously ignorant commentary surrounding Donald Trump's recent statements that "Islam hates us [i.e. America]" continues apace.

In a piece at Christian Today, Harry Farley, a "junior staff writer" (obviously not ready for the big time yet), claims that Trump's assertions have been "discredited" by research that was published before the Republican frontrunner even made them.

Farley claims that the study by the Pew Research Centre shows that "there is little anti-American sentiment in Muslim countries." But actually it does not bear this out at all.

The piece says:

Countries such as Burkina Faso and Senegal, which have an overwhelming Muslim population, view the USA favourably (80 per cent and 79 per cent respectively), the 2015 research showed.  
Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population in the world, has a broadly positive opinion of America with 62 per cent saying they viewed the country favourably. 
Muslim countries in the Middle East tend to have more negative views of the US with 83 per cent of those in Jordan and 70 per cent in Palestine viewing America unfavourably. However there has been a "gradual rise in positive sentiment since President Barack Obama came to power"...

That's great and all, but the problem with it is that Donald Trump was speaking about this in the context of its implications for Muslim immigration into the US, and the likelihood that Muslim immigrants will bring hatred of America with them. And the majority of America's Muslim immigrants are not coming from Burkina Faso or Senegal. Of the countries contributing the most foreign-born immigrants to the United States, the most common Muslim-majority countries are Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iraq and Egypt.

Assuming the research in question refers to this study from June 2015 (the numbers look similar), four of those five countries were not even part of the research, and hence have no results, while the one that is - Pakistan - has a 62% unfavourability rating towards the US. Almost every Muslim country on the Pew list has a significantly higher unfavourability rating than the median across the board, which was 24%. If we are generous, and assume that the absent Muslim countries that provide the bulk of Muslim immigration to the US all have ratings in line with the median, instead of much higher, then this means that in Iran, there are almost 18 million Muslims who have an unfavourable view of America, over 33 million in Bangladesh, over 7.5 million in Iraq, and almost 18 million in Egypt.

Should Americans therefore be concerned about how many of these people might end up coming to the United States? Many would say so, and they wouldn't necessarily have to be Donald Trump supporters to believe that.

The biggest blunder Farley makes is in the final sentence, when he attempts to soothe us about the huge amount of anti-American hatred in Pakistan by reminding us that "Pew data pointed to anti-American feeling spiking around key political events. In Pakistan it spiked in 2011, the year a US raid killed Osama Bin Laden."

Aren't you comforted to know that when America killed the evil terrorist mass murderer Osama bin Laden, the first reaction of Pakistani Muslims was to be angry at America?

Overall, the entire focus of this article is overwhelmingly stupid. Donald Trump's remarks were characteristically crude and non-specific, but he was careful to say that no one really knows the extent of the anti-American sentiment among Muslims entering the United States. He certainly did not say it was a majority, which means that the Christian Today piece is debunking a claim that no one ever made. The article also ignores the massive numbers involved even in minority amounts that might have unfavourable views of the US, and makes no mention of the hatred that is inculcated in the Qur'an itself - something that Donald Trump has at least shown a dim awareness of.

In other words, just par for the course in media "analysis" of Islam these days.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Why NY Daily News McCan't Explain Islamic Jihad

In a piece today at the New York Daily News, Will McCants spins the line that "Trump and Obama are both wrong about Islam":

Donald Trump is certain that “Islam hates us,” as he said in an interview with CNN host Anderson Cooper and repeated in Miami’s debate. “There’s tremendous hatred.” President Obama is certain that “Islam is a religion that preaches peace.” 
Both men are equally wrong. Islam neither hates nor preaches — its followers do. Islam is what people make of it, and they have made it many different things.

McCants goes on to provide a number of examples of where the Qur'an says certain things (some violent and intolerant), followed by examples of Muslims both affirming and contradicting those teachings. He concludes from this that if we define Islam nebulously as simply whatever individual Muslims want it to be, then all will be well.

But his argument is severely flawed. Firstly, it is simply illogical to say that, for example, when Muslims behave tolerantly towards non-Muslims despite the Qur'an's admonition to “Kill the polytheists wherever you find them” (9:5), they are just practicing Islam "in their own way". Rather, the correct way to understand this behaviour is that they are not practising Islam, and they are ignoring the commandment of the Qur'an. It makes no sense to say that this tolerant behaviour is a form of Islam that politicians should be talking about (which is what McCants suggests in the piece), when actually it is not Islam at all, but simply human beings behaving in a certain way.

Secondly, and building on the first point, the insistence on defining Islam not by its foundational texts and written teachings, but by how Muslims might behave in any given time and place, means that we cannot realistically work to solve problems that lead to misery and suffering in the world. If, for example, we follow Will McCants' line of thinking and decide that the Qur'an's command to "kill the polytheists wherever you find them" doesn't really matter, because some Muslims might not obey it, then we cannot possibly develop a strategy to change the minds of the Muslims who do want to obey it.

The Muslims who commit savage acts of barbarity every single day regularly quote and cite specific verses of the Qur'an, specific behaviours and teachings of Muhammad, and specific tenets of Islamic law to justify their behaviour (see a few examples here, hereherehere and here). On the other hand, Muslims who behave tolerantly or otherwise "normally" rarely invoke specific Islamic teachings to justify their behaviour - they can't, because such teachings don't really exist. Their "niceness" is due to an absence of Islam, not the presence of a coherent version of it. As a society, we need to understand why the violent and intolerant teachings of Islam continue to have such widespread appeal, and how this can be countered. Will McCants' ideas do not, and cannot, do that.

He also uses odd logic when he says that Obama's Islam-is-a-Religion-of-Peace schtick is still preferable to Donald Trump's view, because "America stands more to gain by denying the jihadist propaganda of its adversaries than by ratifying it." Really? America stands more to gain by ignoring the ideological basis of its adversaries' hatred than by assessing it honestly, and understanding it to a sufficient level in order to combat it more effectively? That is nonsense.

There is also this:

When we attribute human beliefs and behaviors to ancient, immutable scripture, we can’t explain change over time... 
The Arabian Peninsula was once home to mystics and music; today it is governed by an austere form of Islam that frowns on religious rapture and playing instruments. Turning to scripture to explain these reversals won’t get you very far.

Actually scripture is the only way to explain the reversals. It is not as if the prohibition on music and playing instruments arose only recently. Reliance of the Traveller, a mainstream manual of Islamic law that was written in the fourteenth century, says that there is “explicit and compelling textual evidence that musical instruments of all types are unlawful” in Islam. It quotes hadith with Muhammad saying things like the following:

“Allah Mighty and Majestic sent me as a guidance and mercy to believers and commanded me to do away with musical instruments, flutes, strings, crucifixes, and the affair of the pre-Islamic period of ignorance.” 
“On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will pour molten lead into the ears of whoever sits listening to a songstress.” 
“Song makes hypocrisy grow in the heart as water does herbage.” 
“'This Community will experience the swallowing up of some people by the earth, metamorphosis of some into animals, and being rained upon with stones.' Someone asked, 'When will this be, O messenger of Allah?' and he said, 'When songstresses and musical instruments appear and wine is held to be lawful.”

The manual repeats: “It is unlawful to use musical instruments – such as those which drinkers are known for, like the mandolin, lute, cymbals and flute – or to listen to them.” The only exception is that the tambourine may be played at weddings and circumcisions.

These are the actual foundational teachings of the religion of Islam. Simply put, they fell into abeyance in some parts of the world for a time due to non-adherence to Islam. Now religious purists are calling for Muslims to return to these foundational principles. That call could not and would not happen without the ancient scriptures to point to; therefore it is quite apt to use them to explain the resurgence of an "austere form of Islam" in many parts of the world.

I can see what Will McCants is trying to do here. He's trying to take the "reasonable" middle ground in a complex debate that is full of heightened emotions and touchy subjects. But his take on all of this has no practical value and just adds confusion to a topic that really doesn't need it. Most importantly, it prevents us from being able to take positive steps to improve the current situation, and consequently plays into the hands of groups like ISIS - who will continue to use the Qur'an to justify their violence, even as Will McCants continues to tell us that it doesn't matter.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Neo-Ottoman Turkey Exposing EU's Suicidal Idiocy

European Union leaders are currently holding a key summit with Turkey in Brussels on ways of dealing with the migrant crisis.

The EU is pressing Turkey, through which many migrants transit, to take some back in return for $3.3bn in aid. Turkey is reportedly asking for that sum to be doubled, and is also seeking a faster path towards EU membership and the speeding up of plans to allow Turks visa-free travel in Europe as part of the deal.

Only a willfully blind moron could fail to be wise to the fact that this is a deal that plays entirely into Turkey's sharia supremacist hands. In demanding extortionate amounts of money in return for stemming the migrant invasion, Turkey is literally demanding jizya as per its Ottoman forebears, whereby the Jews and Christians of Europe were forced to pay for their protection from marauding Muslim armies.

What's more, adding faster EU membership into the mix and potentially allowing greater Turkish travel inside Europe is a surefire way of replacing one Islamic invasion of the continent with another.

Turkey's slide into sharia has long been a cause of alarm for many secularists. Islamic religious schools are increasingly threatening the secular educational system; a popular musician was arrested and given a suspended jail sentence for blasphemy against Islam; and numerous military generals – who have traditionally been the guardians of secularism in the country – have been imprisoned on trumped up charges of planning alleged coups against the government. The ruling AKP party has also introduced new laws in recent years designed to restrict the sale and advertising of alcohol in line with sharia provisions. Antisemitism is rife throughout the country, as is the violent abuse of women (sound familiar?), and the Turkish government has been accused - quite credibly - of collaborating with ISIS in numerous ways.

It should also be noted that even before the migrant crisis that began last year, Turkey has long been known to be majorly responsible for the mass movement of Muslims from the Islamic world into Europe: regular flights have been organized for years between Rabat in Morocco and Algiers in Algeria to Istanbul so as to bring a sizeable number of nationals from those countries to Turkey and transport them thereafter to Greece-Bulgaria, en route to the EU. Turkey has also lifted travel regulations and visas with those countries, whilst it has no visa with Iran, thus promoting in effect the movement of Afghans and Pakistanis, as well as Iranians, into Europe.

And all of that time, PM Erdogan has actively encouraged those Muslim migrants NOT to integrate into their new European host countries.

Allowing freer movement for Turks within Europe, and ultimately the admittance of Turkey into the European Union, would be nothing less than an invitation to almost 75 million Muslims to proceed with a further mass invasion of Europe, driven surely by some secularists and minorities, but undoubtedly by many devoutly religious types holding to values that will culturally impoverish the continent forever.

In service of the Eurabia project, European leaders - who are certain to agree to some variation of the proposed pact of dhimmitude being reported today - seem willing and eager to sign the suicide note of our continent in exchange for the public appearance of doing something about a problem they caused in the first place.