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Amused Muse

Inspiring dissent and debate and the love of dissonance

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Location: Surreality, Have Fun Will Travel, Past Midnight before a Workday

Master's Degree holder, telecommuting from the hot tub, proud Darwinian Dawkobot, and pirate librarian belly-dancer bohemian secret agent scribe on a mission to rescue bloggers from the wholesome clutches of the pious backstabbing girl fridays of the world.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Outlaw Sharia!

UPDATED: Stanley Fish of the New York Times condemns atheists as "illiterate" about religion.

Can Stanley Fish, on the top of his head, answer this "illiterate" atheist's questions about religion?

As you can see by my answers, though I am not a believer I understand not only the facts about these religions, but the thoughts behind them. And that's my real rebuke to Fish: not that I can rattle off more trivia than he can, but that I learned all of these ideas from people, not from books. Because I took the time to get to know believers. Who practice their religion.

Religion is human, not divine, in origin; I know about religion because I want to know about human beings. Were religion really all about God, I wouldn't give two shakes about it.
There's no excuse for this. (Or this.)

Why should any woman be subject to hijabs, arranged marriages, beatings, and murder simply because of the coincidence of being born in a fundamentalist Muslim family? And why can't she change her mind about her religion?

Don't women have rights? Don't children? Do their rights depend upon some random circumstance of birth? Was this woman a British subject, or her father's chattel? Doesn't Britain's Constitution apply to her, or is the Queen too busy riding her horse? Tony Blair, still think than religious schools teaching contradictory "facts" is a good idea?

What does a nation's laws mean when a foreign law can be imposed upon a woman and the police ignore her pleas? Is that supposed to be tolerance? Give me a break. I'm the one who learned about Islam on my own when I was fourteen (after the Iran Hostage crisis); I'm the one who learned some Arabic and Somali; I'm the one who has supported peace between the Palestinians and Israelis since I was a child (and opposed the U.S. ever funding Saddam Hussein); I'm the one who wrote letters to the editor against racial and religious hatred aimed at Muslims after September 11.

Americans, would you still rather not vote for an atheist for public office? Because I don't know what "fighting them over there so that we don't have to fight them over here" means, then. Who are we fighting in Iraq - atheists? Who committed the atrocities of September 11? Atheists?

Considering that two of this poor woman's so-called relatives have fled Great Britain, the time has come for the U.S., Great Britain, and Europe to shake off their confusion and become an example by banning any and all practices of sharia within our boundaries. Cracking down on this will get rid of all of those fundamentalist Islamists who are already "over here." This should not be a controversial idea to anyone.

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Blogger Sargeist said...

Hi Kristine. Amazed that no one has commented on this yet, so I thought I would.

Watching the BBC news about this story last night, I was driven to a terrible, spitting rage. On Channel 4 news, which is the only one I find myself able to watch these days without my anger causing me to black out, they almost-but-not-quite raised the issue that I fear is aiding and abetting the religiously based nonsense and rise of theocracy in my country: the fear that any comment or action made by a white person towards any non-white person, for whatever reason, can be made to look like racism.

Yes, there are lots of racist people around - my lovely girlfriend has been on the receiving end of some of it, from people who, amusingly, cannot tell that actually she can't "go back to India" since she has no connection with that country - but this does not mean that any criticism of idiotic ranting about cartoons, or outrage at female circumcision, or amusement at the desire for fairy tales to be given "respect" is formed from a racist attitude.

gah! This all gets my godless blood boiling so much. My life is not being as royally buggered as that poor young woman's, but with me being a godless heathen and my girlfriend being told she is Muslim, this sort of story gets my back up in such a terrible way that I fear I might explode.

June 12, 2007 6:29 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

I’m so sorry that you and she are going through this.

I’ve met a lot of Muslims (ranging from liberal to strict) and haven’t met a terrorist yet. (Obviously if I had I would have been calling the FBI – we’re the city who had Colleen Rowley, after all.) But it seems to me that fundamentalist Islam has a pretty close tie to terrorism. Hello! Tell the fundies that they have to comply with our secular, civic laws like everyone else, or decide to live elsewhere. Kick them out of here so we don’t have to fight them over here.

I’m really not the one, considering my quick temper, to advocate the gentle answer in confrontational situations, but I am finding that this can work well. Naturally because I’m white I’m assumed to be Christian, so sometimes I play dumb. “Christianity? What’s that?” Then they have to go through their whole spiel. It’s really amusing because I was the top Bible student in church and I get to see how confused and uninformed most believers are (although after a while that becomes pretty depressing).

Maybe this is a trite piece of advice, but what if your girlfriend answered a “Go back to India” comment with a bright, “India? I’ve never been! What's it like?” ;-)

At any rate, please don’t let it get to you. Please don't explode. Heck, go talk to a few Muslims that you know about it – you’ll get sympathy. At least in my experience they don’t get so freaked out about my not being a believer. One thing about Islam – Muslims aren’t supposed to be minding each other’s business about what each other believes. That’s a big no-no. They don’t walk around asking each other, “What do you believe?” or “What’s your worldview?” That’s why they are slow to criticize the fundies and the terrorists, who naturally feel free to criticize everyone and everything.

June 12, 2007 9:01 AM  
Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitor said...

It's amazing that these people will travel to another country with a completely different culture and expect that they can continue practices that will most certainly destroy their lives.

Immigrants have always been a source of friction in a new country - cooking to many onions, marrying too young, keeping unusual animals - but this......this is just plain barbarism. Find me someone who would advocate that the UK should not discriminate against these people based on their religious values.

June 12, 2007 9:46 AM  
Blogger Sargeist said...

Hey there Barking,

If it were up to me, I'd be out there using my political power to ridicule and otherwise poke big fingers of fun at barmy religious claims. Or, I'd try to get the Christians to admit that they believe, as they must, that all Muslims are wrong wrong wrong about the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus; and then I'd try to get the Muslims to admit that they believe, as they must, that Christians are wrong wrong (etc) about Muhammad; and then I'd maybe get some Hindus involved for a big ole bust-up.

But only cos I think it would be a good way of showing it all up to be bollocks.

However, much as I loathed utterly the arse-waffling drivel spouting out of Tony Blair's face in his recent speech to some Muslims (I'll try to find the link somewhere for later posting), I can, reluctantly, see why he has to be careful. I mean, although he is Catholic and so clearly must think the Muslims are all hopelessly wrong, he can't make any statements that are too inflammatory in case he is blamed for the ensuing burnings and bloodbaths.

Ho hum. I would hang my head in despair if it weren't already subterranean with mind-bogglement.

Someone *important* in government, basically Blair, or his successor Gordon Brown, needs to stand up and unambiguously say: Your ideas about female circumcision are WRONG; your ideas on forced marriages are WRONG; your ideas of family honour and the required punishments are WRONG.

Trouble is, I keep wanting to say "Go back where you came from", but that's meaningless really. And even if it did apply to some of those people, it always sounds so racist, and I don't really think that is where I am coming from.

June 12, 2007 11:03 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Right on, Sargeist.

This whole "I embrace all believers in God" nonsence is just an excuse for not doing the hard work of actually getting to know all of the contradictory doctrines out there and all of the people in these diverse, mutually-contradictory faiths in order that, as a planet, we can finally hash out what it is that we do and do not value, and how and how not to live as one people.

The whole point of diversity is not to have a plethora of values and cultures that remain closed, mutually exclusive, hereditary, and static (cultures never remain static and pure) but so that we can draw upon everyone's experiences and ideas, so that finally, we can come to some worldwide agreement about how we are going to treat each other!

Naturally, in the long run, science and civil liberties will be a part of this worldwide agreement. But "it's the atheists who are the problem!" Christians aren't working for this, and they aren't working to counter the religious right. They are too busy enjoying themselves in their churches which have modeled themselves after shopping malls and entertainment television.

The "I embrace everybody except atheists" Christians are living in a fantasy world. They think they embrace everyone (except atheists), but they don't really know anyone personally, so they just think that other religions are a different flavor of Christianity, and that there's some "generic" idea of God. Not so!

As I said, I am the one who has done the hard work of actually meeting and talking to real people who are very different from me. And for this, do I get any credit? Nope - and I can't run for public office, either.

Some people think that atheists shouldn't even have the right to vote or hold U.S. citizenship.

June 12, 2007 12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Naturally, in the long run, science and civil liberties will be a part of this worldwide agreement."

When the Greeks were conquered by the Romans and the Romans gutted the Library of Alexandria, the subsequent fall of the Roman and the Egyptian Empires lead to the dark ages.

Today, as Sam Harris points out, we have 1st Century beliefs with 21st century weapons.

The US, Israelis, French, Canadian, South African, Pakistani, Indian, Chinese and Russian governments all have nuclear weapons. Client states of the former Soviet Bloc have nuclear weapons and wherever the US has a substantial military presence there are nuclear weapons.

Whatever makes you so certain that "science and civil liberties" will prevail? They never have before.

Bobbie Kennedy was fond of making the point that one death is a tragedy and a thousand deaths are a statistic.

The only way Sharia law can be done away with is to eliminate the followers of that law - by eduction, isolation or decimation.

Face the fact that the President of the United States called his war in Iraq "a Crusade" and that he is fighting "evildoers" - all religious rhetoric.

The world is populated with wild-eyed pistol-waiving absolute believers who, far from being afraid to die, embrace death as a reward. Look no further than the Saudi Wahhabist Sunnis who hijacked the four aircraft on September 11, 2001 for one example. The Japanese Kamikaze and their pre-flight Shinto ceremony says little about crashing aircraft has changed in 50 years.

But military-grade RDX and C-4 explosives make suicide bombers much more effective, and far less detectible.

Indira Ghandi - the daughter of Nehru, was the progenitor of nuclear weapons development in India and she was assassinated by her own Sikh bodyguards after she ordered Indian troops to storm the Golden Temple at Amritsar. The widespread anger over the desecration of Sikhism's holiest shrine lead directly to her death.

Today's news brings word of US Military Chaplains engaging in anti-semetic practices in their official capacities!

The best selling book series in United States history is Tim LaHaye's Left Behind series - 11 years of best sellers devoted to the destruction of all human life on earth, save for a small group of Christians.

Make no mistake - Sharia law is Muslim dogma and it is kit and kin to Christian dogma and just about all other religious dogmas but Jainism. The world could easily end with but a few of these people triggering a nuclear winter.

Have you ever read, A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter Miller? It certainly seems prescient today.

Huey P. Newton had a point when he said, "If you aren't part of the solution then you are part of the problem."

June 12, 2007 5:32 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Anonymous, either science and civil rights will be a part of this worldwide agreement, or the world will destroy itself.

I don't think you and I are in disagreement about what you've said here.

I have not read that book; I want to. I understand that it's excellent and relevant. I agree with Newton, too. I think that's my point about "just accept everyone" Christians. Do you see me as part of the solution, or part of the problem?

I think I'm part of the solution. I want to be.

Incidentally, the story of the Library at Alexandria is more complex. It actually crumbled, after the initial accidental fire started by the Romans, over centuries through neglect and theft. Then it was burned twice more. What we have of its books were actually copies kept in private collections.

The early Christians saved a lot of pagan learning from destruction. Then monastic Jews and learned Muslims took up that task as Christendom fell into the Dark Ages. The entire world didn't plunge headlong into ignorance all at once - although you're right, today we have nukes.

Sharia is very specific. I don't agree with it, but a lot of the madness that is going on in Islam's name is not Sharia. Some of it is. The murder of this woman was. Again, I don't agree with Sharia. It should be outlawed everywhere. Let's set the example for this in the West. Yes, I want to see secular, civil laws reign everywhere. I dream of that world; it is my only faith.

June 12, 2007 5:48 PM  
Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitor said...

It is valuable to understand that much of the pagan literature that was kept by clerics throughout the ages has been distorted, rewritten and shaped to something palatable to the designs of the Holy Roman Empire, Jews and Islam.

June 12, 2007 9:45 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Probably true.

June 13, 2007 12:17 AM  
Blogger Sargeist said...

Hurray! I know the bible 87%!

Put that in your burqa and smoke it!

I am getting a little worried that my love of blasphemy and my urges to ridicule believers may well lead me to become (even more) obnoxious. Oh well.

Last Saturday I had a fun morning trying to convince a Catholic friend of my girlfriend that I am the devil:

"I say I am, and you can't prove otherwise, and I *am* trying to tempt you away from your faith. So there you go."

Catholics: they can't all be mad, but I've not met a sane, normal one yet.

June 14, 2007 4:07 AM  

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