Language Choice

by Henry on June 10, 2010

Eugene Volokh, in a brief post on the Dutch election, characterizes Geert Wilders as a ‘leading critic of Islam.’ This is a fascinating terminological choice. If a European politician who had angry views about Israel went ahead to advocate a ban on the Torah, a five year ban on the building of Jewish temples, a permanent ban on preaching in Hebrew, and a government program aimed at paying Jews to leave the country, would Eugene Volokh describe him as a “leading critic of Judaism?” I suspect, perhaps incorrectly, that he might use slightly different language.

Update: The title of Volokh’s post has now been changed (I imagine in response to this post) to characterize Wilders as a “Leading Critic of Islam (and Advocate of Restrictions on the Practice of Islam).” Whether this constitutes a substantial improvement or not I leave open to debate.

{ 102 comments }

1

Andrew C 06.10.10 at 9:33 pm

Although pointing out the hypocrisy of right-wing commentators can feel Sisyphean (‘Again? That trick never works.’) it is vital that it be done as I am sure that irritated silence will be wilfully interpreted as chastened acceptance of a superior argument.

So continue to tilt.

2

Anderson 06.10.10 at 10:09 pm

But, Henry, Jews are people.

3

Ken 06.10.10 at 11:00 pm

Fascinating. How long before the built-in trigger is tripped and Godwin’s Law applies?

4

Jacob Christensen 06.10.10 at 11:22 pm

@3: Hitler. There: Now we can keep the discussion on track.

I wonder if Volokh had heard of Wilders before the election? But just about anybody and his grandmother can present themselves as critics of Islam these days.

5

Jacob Christensen 06.10.10 at 11:33 pm

One more note: If we look at the numbers (here according to the lazy researcher’s friend), some 6 (six) percent of the Dutch population can be counted as Muslims one way or another.

My hunch (but Dutch readers of the Timber can correct me) is that Moroccans have been singled out as the most troublesome group of immigrants: They constitute a [irony]massive[/irony] 2,1 (two-point-one) percent of the population. That seems (again: Timberites with access to historical data may correct me) to be roughly equal to the relative size of Jewish minority in NL in the early part of the 20th century, in case anybody is looking for a point of reference.

6

El Cid 06.10.10 at 11:59 pm

Any percentage of Muslimy people or things is too much. Got to maintain our Western culture of rationality and secularism and democracy by banning any of that.

7

Jim Aune 06.11.10 at 12:06 am

Maybe true, but there is a disconcerting parallel to this argument on the Christian Right–insert “Jew” for “Christian.” This isn’t an argument, Henry. It’s called tu quoque.

8

Henry 06.11.10 at 12:54 am

umm no Jim. If I was trying to defend someone who had advocated expelling all Jews, and Eugene Volokh had called me out on this, it would perhaps be a tu quoque. Look it up – it really is just fancy Latin for saying ‘and you too’ (and is a purely defensive tactic) Since what I am doing instead is to point to what seems to me to be an inconsistency in Eugene Volokh’s stance towards people who have vile attitudes towards Muslims, and people who have vile attitudes towards Jews, this criticism misses the mark by quite a considerable degree. Volokh’s apparent unwillingness to criticize Wilders is even more intriguing since Geert Wilders is demonstrably opposed to many values that Eugene Volokh publicly claims to support (Wilders’ stance on, say, banning the Koran and preaching in Arabic is obviously difficult to reconcile with a basic commitment to free speech).

You might have a better case that I am engaging in a ‘will-you-condemn-athon’ here – but the key difference I would argue is that I’m not trying to drag up random atrocities for Volokh to condemn – instead, I’m trying to figure out exactly what drives the apparent inconsistencies in his publicly declared attitudes.

9

Nicholas Weininger 06.11.10 at 1:27 am

At least part of the difference is that Jewish identity is different from Muslim identity in the following sense: it is much more common, and much easier, to be an atheist Jew than to be an atheist Muslim.

Frankly, if there were as many *Orthodox* Jewish immigrants to the Netherlands as there are Muslim immigrants, and if said immigrants had been known to murder people simply for having the temerity to condemn their religion as the misogynistic, savage drivel it is, I suspect there would be such “leading critics of Judaism” in the Netherlands too, and I am not so sure Volokh would actually use very different language to describe them.

10

Def Att 06.11.10 at 1:55 am

9: I like my Muslims the way I used to like my Jews; as bloodthirsty caricatures.

11

Jim Aune 06.11.10 at 1:59 am

Thanks for the thoughtful response, Henry. Mine was too elliptical. I do have a problem with pointing out the ethnicity of Jews on these issues, especially since it seems part of a larger phenomenon in faux-left academe right now. (Full disclosure: I signed the Euston Manifesto).

12

Neil Levy 06.11.10 at 2:37 am

“Jewish” isn’t an ethnicity – not in any sense stronger than being Western is an ethnicity. Sephardim and Mizrahim are very different from Ashkenazim in all the markers of ethnicity. I live in an area in which there are many Lubbavitchers, and am therefore often asked if I am Jewish. I say no, just to avoid the ensuing argument, but the truth is I don’t think the question has any single sense that makes it a useful one to ask.

13

Tom T. 06.11.10 at 2:39 am

Henry, I’m on board with a lot of what you write, but here you’re talking out of your ass. Volokh has long made clear that he believes that hate speech is protected speech, and that people who advocate bigotry and repression (including restriction of speech or religion) have a right to speak. (He applies this to hate speech against Jews, too: He wrote a WSJ article about how anti-Semitism is a worthwhile, necessary part of public discourse, and he recently wrote that kids playing “beat the Jew” are not necessarily anti-Semitic).

He has also consistently opposed politicians who have taken steps to put repressive views into action, including repression of speech, religion, or political participation. It’s not an inconsistency, it’s the difference between word and deed.

I think you owe EV an apology for insinuating that he’s a Muslim-hating bigot.

14

nick s 06.11.10 at 3:07 am

I think you owe EV an apology for insinuating that he’s a Muslim-hating bigot.

I definitely Eugene owes you whatever it is he’s paying his fanboys these days. And a weasel.

15

roac 06.11.10 at 3:28 am

Frankly, if there were as many Orthodox Jewish immigrants to the Netherlands as there are Muslim immigrants, and if said immigrants had been known to murder people simply for having the temerity to condemn their religion as the misogynistic, savage drivel it is

But doesn’t the large number of Muslim immigrants to the Netherlands — the denominator of the fraction — weaken the implication that Muslims are inherently violent? If there were only, say, 20 Muslim immigrants, and two of them had murdered critics of their religion, maybe that would warrant keeping a close eye on the other 18. whereas in fact, as far as I know, the percentage of Muslim immigrants who have committed religiously motivated murders has at least a couple of zeroes to the right of the decimal point . .

16

Pliggett Darcy 06.11.10 at 5:37 am

Jim Aune got pwned, yo.

17

Daniel 06.11.10 at 5:41 am

@12 “Jewish” isn’t an ethnicity….

Jews certainly are an ethnicity, as defined by what consensus has determined the characteristics of an ethnicity are (culture, religion, GENETIC PROXIMITY).

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100603123707.htm

Ashkenazim , Sephardi and Mizrahim (Syrian and probably Egyptian) are genetically very close to one another. Closer to one another than they are to the populations amongst which they have lived for centuries. Jews from Iraq and Iran are genetically more distant from the others but are still closer to their Jewish brethren than they are to the societies amongst which they have lived for 2500 years. Jews accept converts, always have, introducing genetic variety into the population, but they are an ethnicity as much as Swedes, Irish, Italians, Japanese, etc… are. To put things in layman’s terms, the above referred study points out that generally speaking the genetic distance between any 2 Jews is roughly that of 4th or 5th cousins. As an aside, I wouldn’t be surprised if other isolated ethnicities (Irish, Finns, Icelanders, Sicilians, Albanians), have even closer genetic affinity.

18

Chris Bertram 06.11.10 at 6:14 am

The Irish are an “isolated ethnicity”?

19

Jack Strocchi 06.11.10 at 7:14 am

Nicholas Weininger @ #9 said:

if said immigrants had been known to murder people simply for having the temerity to condemn their religion as the misogynistic, savage drivel it is

Whilst we are on the subject of cultural sensitivity but doesn’t this statement constitute “religious vilification”?

I hate to sound like a politically correct informant dobbing someone in at the Thought Police station. And I know that it does not come under the head of “racist, sexist or homophobic” comment.

But still, its not very nice or even that true, as well as being way OTT.

20

alex 06.11.10 at 7:37 am

Most religious texts in the Abrahamic tradition contain misogynistic, savage drivel. So do quite a lot of others. All religious texts are, from a standpoint of pure materialism, drivel. What’s your point?

21

David 06.11.10 at 7:52 am

Jews are a people. Islam is a religion.

Plenty of Jews are hate Halacha and 99% of things associated with it.

22

praisegod barebones 06.11.10 at 8:09 am

Volokh has long made clear that he believes that hate speech is protected speech, and that people who advocate bigotry and repression (including restriction of speech or religion) have a right to speak. (He applies this to hate speech against Jews, too: He wrote a WSJ article about how anti-Semitism is a worthwhile, necessary part of public discourse, and he recently wrote that kids playing “beat the Jew” are not necessarily anti-Semitic).

So how does he feel about Wilders saying the Koran should be banned? I appreciate that one might feel that Wilders has the right to say this. I’m wondering if there are anyone else’s free speech rights that might be worth standing up for in this context.

‘Restrictions on the practice of Islam’ doesn’t really seem to be a straightforward way of conveying Wilder’s position either: you could easily think that what was at stake here was something like, say, regulating halal butchery, rather than baning a central religious text.

But at the end of the day, although its tempting to address issues like this with sarcasm, I’m not sure how productive it is. In a lot of cases it just seems to engage people’s desire to be just as sarcastic in reponse. Who does that help?

23

bad Jim 06.11.10 at 8:22 am

Similarly, nearly any homophobic evangelical preacher could be described as a leading critic of Unitarian Universalism. There would be a small point to it, however insane it would be in any other respect.

24

yabonn 06.11.10 at 9:02 am

it is much more common, and much easier, to be an atheist Jew than to be an atheist Muslim.

I hope my sarcasm detector is failing me. If not :

Being muslim is believing in a religion. So not atheist, by definition. I’m afraid you meant “atheist swarthies”, which is also ridiculous.

25

Jack Strocchi 06.11.10 at 9:22 am

alex @ #20 said:

Most religious texts in the Abrahamic tradition contain misogynistic, savage drivel. So do quite a lot of others. All religious texts are, from a standpoint of pure materialism, drivel. What’s your point?

Perhaps some religious texts are misogynistic. The Bible says some nice things about both Mary’s, so all is not lost. In any case, the Devil quotes scripture for his own purposes.

And considering “religious texts from a standpoint of pure materialism” is a common category mistake amongst the more simple-minded literalist atheists, aping their opponents on the theist side. These texts are primarily moral documents.

Islamic religious practitioners may not be all that bad when it comes to treating women. What we think of as “Islamic” religious practices (stoning, infibulation, honor killings etc) are most likely ancient folk practices, “blood and soil” stuff. In short, their gender issues are ethnological, not theological, in origin. Islamic religious institutions may well civilise gender relations for a given tribe, at least when one gets into the cities.

Blanket condemnation of religious people is as bad, in its own way, as blanket condemnation of races, genders or sexual preferences. Which I thought was a no-no around here.

I should know, I always seem to run foul of the…err…authorities when I resort to purely empirical generalisations about ethnic groups.

26

chris y 06.11.10 at 9:45 am

Being muslim is believing in a religion. So not atheist, by definition. I’m afraid you meant “atheist swarthies”, which is also ridiculous.

For colloquial definitions of “atheist” which include “totally non-observant, doesn’t give a second’s thought to the question of god for decades at a time”, I’ve met dozens of atheist Muslims, sometimes drunk and tucking into a bloody steak. Such people still identify as Muslims for reasons of cultural context; likewise in my experience atheist Jews are more likely to emphasise the Weltanschauung than their matrilineal authenticity.

27

Jack Strocchi 06.11.10 at 9:53 am

Chris Bertram @ #18 said:

The Irish are an “isolated ethnicity”?

Most of the native British, including and especially the Irish, are an “isolated ethnicity”, at least until the Empire fell. There is not much evidence of genetic diversity through population movements into Britain, at least going by the genomic evidence. Apart from some Viking blood on the maternal line (perhaps the raping was not all one way?).

According to Oxford geneticist Bryan Sykes, the Brits , are mostly descendant from Celts who long ago roamed the country we now call “Spain”. Perhaps distantly related to the Basques.

Of course the Irish were even more isolated than the English – shrouded in mist, buffeted by huge seas and frequently stuck in their peaty bogs whenever they tried to wander.

28

praisegod barebones 06.11.10 at 10:14 am

Bad Jim: I hope I’m not being obtuse or tone deaf – but the point would be what, exactly?

Distracting people from the preacher’s homophobia, and providing an excuse for people to complain how ‘shrill’ and ‘oversensitive’ people were in their dealings with critics of Unitarians? With the subtext that anyone who did object to these criticisms must be mired in hypocrisy, since they claim to be liberal.

29

ajay 06.11.10 at 10:22 am

27: your link undermines your argument. 64% Celts and the rest mainly Saxons is in fact fairly diverse – more than a third of the population deriving from post-Roman migrants, and the rest from the pre-Roman Celts (who were a fairly big population movement themselves!)

30

Nigel 06.11.10 at 10:40 am

‘…shrouded in mist, buffeted by huge seas and frequently stuck in their peaty bogs whenever they tried to wander.’

Throw in the odd packet of Taytos and a bottle of Fanta and you’ve just encapsulated my childhood!

31

alex 06.11.10 at 11:08 am

@29 – does that mean the remaining ‘pure’ Celts are either a) no such thing, or b) the ones that were too ugly for Saxons to marry?

b) would be the favourite answer east of Offa’s Dyke, of course…

32

Jack Strocchi 06.11.10 at 11:13 am

ajay @ #29 said:

27: your link undermines your argument. 64% Celts and the rest mainly Saxons is in fact fairly diverse – more than a third of the population deriving from post-Roman migrants, and the rest from the pre-Roman Celts

No, go back and read the article properly.

Prof Sykes…said the Celts had remained predominant in Britain despite waves of further migration. “The overlay of Vikings, Saxons and so on is 20 per cent at most. That’s even in those parts of England that are nearest to the Continent,” he said.

Steve Sailer reviewed Sykes book, Blood of the Isles, when it came out. He handily summarises the main genomic evidence proving the genetic unity and insularity of the, mostly Celtic, British:

Not only did immigration after 1066 play a vanishingly small role in the makeup of the offshore islanders, but even the famous invasions of previous millennia—Normans, Vikings, Anglo-Saxons, and Romans—merely added a fairly minor overlay to the prehistoric gene pool.

[snip]

The family trees of the English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish are overwhelmingly indigenous to the British Isles since far back into prehistoric times. The title of Sykes’ first chapter, “Twelve Thousand Years of Solitude,” summarizes this finding. The “average settlement dates” in the Isles for the ancestors of modern British and Irish people, he estimates, were around 8,000 years ago.

Sykes concludes that the majority of the genes of the peoples of the British Isles are descended from the oldest of the modern inhabitants: Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, who began arriving 10,000 years ago from Continental Europe after the end of the last Ice Age, as soon as the islands became habitable again.

Sykes writes: “Overall, the genetic structure of the Isles is stubbornly Celtic.” (Interestingly, this means that the Irish and the English are largely the same—and Sykes is unable to discern any difference at all between the Ulster Catholics and Protestants, or “Scotch-Irish”, as they are known to American immigration history).

[snip]

The famous historic invasions left a larger, but still limited, mark on the male Y-chromosome.

[snip]

All together, the Saxons, Vikings, and Normans account for the ancestors of about 10 percent of Englishmen living south of the old Danelaw line between London and Chester, and 15 percent north of it, “reaching 20 per cent in East Anglia.”

There is some relevance to this digression to the main topic of this thread – distinctions between Islamic and Judaic peoples – believe it or not. The genomic evidence is now piling up on the pedigree of peoples. Its going to cause some squirming amongst ideologues of all nations.

And none more so than the Semitic nations, who really need to sort themselves out now they have been squabbling for so long. The latest genomic evidence on the geneology of the Jewish peoples proves that they do have a more or less common ancestry in the Middle East. The LA Times reports:

The study shows that there is “clearly a shared genetic common ancestry among geographically diverse populations consistent with oral tradition and culture …and that traces back to the Middle East,” said geneticist Sarah A. Tishkoff of the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the study. “Jews have assimilated to some extent, but they clearly retain their common ancestry.”

That refutes the Koestler thesis, the theory that the 13th tribe of Israel were Kazahr converts to Judaism. Whats even more unsettling is the fact that the original Jews of Judea were probably more closely related to the current residents of Palestine than are the Azkhenazi diaspora:

The modern-day Jews most closely related to that original [Judean] population are those in Iran, Iraq and Syria, whose closest non-Jewish relatives are the Druze, Bedouins and Palestinians, the study found.

This is kind of ironic, given contemporary political confrontations.

33

chris y 06.11.10 at 11:17 am

Roman Celts (who were a fairly big population movement themselves!)

Or not, as the case may be.

34

Guido Nius 06.11.10 at 11:18 am

27- so they were a race, is that what you mean?

35

Chris Bertram 06.11.10 at 11:20 am

I’m not much of a statistician, I’m afraid. But my suspicion is that these genetically based claims about the “isolation” of groups are consistent with any given member of the group having multiple recent ancestors outside the group. See any random episode of Who do you think you are?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Do_You_Think_You_Are%3F_%28British_TV_series%29

for supporting anecdote.

36

Chris Williams 06.11.10 at 11:27 am

Note that the subjects of ‘Who do you think you are?’ tended to be picked because they had ancestry which made better telly. “Midland plain all the way back, again.” does not a second series commission.

37

Neil 06.11.10 at 11:54 am

Daniel,
Falashas? I don’t think ethnicity is defined by genetic similarity; fwiw, wikipedia agrees with me. I guess the best response to my claim that Jews aren’t an ethnicity is that the standards of cultural similarity I am insisting on are too high; there would be precious few ethnic groups at all. To which I reply: these are the reasonable standards (it is crazy to insist that people who don’t actually share more with each than with the surrounding people constitute a distinct group on the basis of what they share) and in fact there are precious few ethnic groups.

38

Bunbury 06.11.10 at 12:38 pm

I’m now imagining “Critics of Islam” Top Trumps with scores for categories like

Political Influence
Vehemence & Stridency
Intellectual Rigour
Islamic Knowledge & Understanding

and for the delivery of Achilles heals (if there aren’t two there in the list above already)

Influence within Islam

It does seem that in this case “Leading” means “Noisy”.

39

alex 06.11.10 at 12:38 pm

@35 – I thought they were picked because they were famous, who knew?

But who can forget Jeremy Irons’ voyage of discovery to ‘prove’ that he ‘was’ Irish, and thr triumphant joy of his discovery that, indeed, 1/128 of his DNA did come from there…? A touching moment in the ongoing saga of genealogical essentialist fantasy-mongering.

40

Anderson 06.11.10 at 12:56 pm

if said immigrants had been known to murder people simply for having the temerity to condemn their religion as the … drivel it is

Practitioners of EVERY MAJOR RELIGION have been known to kill or threaten to kill those who condemn their religion as drivel. “Great, great is Diana of the Ephesians,” etc.

41

Henry 06.11.10 at 1:01 pm

Jim – the post wasn’t intended to point out that Eugene Volokh is Jewish (there is a wide variety of opinion among both Jews and non-Jews on this broad set of topics). It was instead to point to what seems to me to be a genuine inconsistency here in his pussyfooting around the fact that Geert Wilders wants (like Helen Thomas in another context) to Send Them All Back, and is advocating policies that really ought to offend any genuine libertarian. Wilders’ nasty attitudes towards Muslims aside, it is quite odd that a self-described free speech libertarian would use an anodyne term like ‘advocate of restrictions’ to characterize someone who wants to ban books and make it illegal to preach in certain languages.

Tom T. – I’m sorry, but I really don’t think I’m “talking out of my ass” here. And I am not claiming that Eugene Volokh is an ‘anti-Muslim bigot’ – rather that he seems unwilling to criticize a politician who is very definitely an anti-Muslim bigot, who advocates extreme measures to restrict the civil liberties and speech rights of Muslims, and who is plausibly going to occupy a senior position in the next Dutch government. Do you think this is an unfair characterization? It is worrying that – even when pushed hard on this topic – Volokh only uses the euphemistic term ‘Advocate of Restrictions on the Practice of Islam’ rather than, say, describing Wilders as a ‘Advocate of Restrictions on the Free Speech Rights of Practising Muslims.’ Perhaps Volokh has some principled reason for arguing that wanting to ban the Koran and preaching in foreign languages does not impose a significant burden on free speech. I recall (all though I can’t find it in a quick search) that he has argued in the past that some measures to protect the cultures of countries in Europe are acceptable, although I don’t think he made any argument about free speech restrictions. But if so, he should really set out this principled reason.

42

Seeds 06.11.10 at 1:17 pm

And considering “religious texts from a standpoint of pure materialism” is a common category mistake amongst the more simple-minded literalist atheists, aping their opponents on the theist side. These texts are primarily moral documents.

Good point, nobody really believes in God. Most people are interested in contradictory and counter-intuitive moral lessons.

Islamic religious practitioners may not be all that bad when it comes to treating women. What we think of as “Islamic” religious practices (stoning, infibulation, honor killings etc) are most likely ancient folk practices, “blood and soil” stuff. In short, their gender issues are ethnological, not theological, in origin. Islamic religious institutions may well civilise gender relations for a given tribe, at least when one gets into the cities.

Perhaps by “Islamic” here you meant to write “Truly Scottish”?

(This post brought to you by the easily-baited literalist simple-minded atheist in me. On topic, I agree that there’s a double standard in the consideration of different followers of equally bonkers religious practices.)

43

Phil 06.11.10 at 1:28 pm

I thought they were picked because they were famous, who knew?

I think there might be two stages in the selection process. In fact I’m pretty sure there are: Michael Parkinson has said that he was approached for the show and then dropped again, as his entire identifiable family tree consisted of blokes called Michael (or William) and women called Mary (or Ann), working in mines (or factories) and living in Barnsley (or Leeds). So, Michael Parkinson, you think you’re a true son of Yorkshire, whereas in fact… oh. Never mind.

44

Matt McGrattan 06.11.10 at 1:31 pm

FWIW, if you follow any of the anthropology/genetics blogs, the Sykes claims have been questioned a fair bit recently.

45

Jack Strocchi 06.11.10 at 2:22 pm

Seeds @ #42 said:

Perhaps by “Islamic” here you meant to write “Truly Scottish”?

No, I am willing to acknowledge that some “true Islamics” are capable of miscogynistic behaviour, and on account of their religious principles. The city-dwelling Saudis come to mind. If they aren’t paradigmatic Islamics then no one is. And they could certainly lift their feminist game.

In their case, theology reinforces ethnology and gives it staying power, both at home and abroad. But the Saudis are both exceptional and conformist to the “no true Islamic would do such a thing” rule.

Their gender police are fairly vigilant. But they generally operate in a lawful manner which tends to moderate the more objectionable forms of gender oppression. Most women know where they stand, which is under the thumb.

Back in the day when I took liberal rhetoric at face value I used to get all indignant about Saudi social practices. But it gradually dawned on me that their was method in their strictness. If you have a pre-modern religious tribe who suddenly come into loads of money and then unleash a post-modern liberal culture on them you would get utter chaos: something like what happened to Elvis, God rest his soul.

46

Theophylact 06.11.10 at 2:22 pm

Indeed, citing Steve Sailer as any kind of authority on racial or ethnic matters is likely to call your judgment and bona fides into question.

47

chris 06.11.10 at 2:28 pm

@32: I’m sure that Steve Sailer, like a stopped clock, may be right twice a day, but I’d still like to get a cross-check.

Obviously, the idea that most people are mongrels would seriously challenge some of Sailer’s most deeply held beliefs, so he’s going to be sympathetic to the idea that there’s lots of genetic isolation between regions. Seeing him find what he expects and wants to find is not outstandingly confidence-inspiring.

In any case, to return to the original topic, it’s fairly clear that Volokh is applying a double standard to anti-Jewish rhetoric and anti-Muslim rhetoric, which I take to be Henry’s original point.

48

Jack Strocchi 06.11.10 at 3:34 pm

Theophylact @ #46 said:

Indeed, citing Steve Sailer as any kind of authority on racial or ethnic matters is likely to call your judgment and bona fides into question.

Of course it does. Guilt by association is an infallible epistemological method. Lets not bother with facts or logic.

In fact why bother with the ball-busting business of the scientific analysis of “actual and existing” humans at all. A bit of vigilant thought police work on language criminals cuts to the chase, so to speak.

Can we all just stand back for a minute and consider where the “point-and-splutter”, “n-degrees of separation-from-Hitler” attitude leads to in the analysis of human bio-diversity?

Well, actually we are already there. Its called “epistemic closure”.

49

Anderson 06.11.10 at 3:45 pm

On that theory, your bookshelf volumes of Houston Stewart Chamberlain and Alfred Rosenberg must be handy resources, Mr. Strocchi.

50

Walt 06.11.10 at 3:52 pm

Cut the self-pitying bullshit, Jack. Steve Sailer is a nut whose obsessed with the genetic inferiority of black people and Hispanics. I’m sure there are many things that David Ickes is right about, but the fact that he thinks that we’re ruled by lizard-people means that he’s not a credible source. If you want to make a case on the Internet, man up, and learn not to quote crazy people.

51

chris 06.11.10 at 4:00 pm

@Jack Strocchi: You cited Sailer as an authority (Sailer wrote an approving review of Sykes, with the unstated implication: therefore Sykes is probably right), which makes ad hominem completely legitimate for the limited purpose of tearing down Sailer’s credibility as an authority and/or pointing out that he hasn’t got any.

If Sykes has good evidence to support him, then Sailer is irrelevant, so why bring him up unless you thought he bolstered your argument? (And it’s odd that you would think that, because you have surely been around here long enough to anticipate how most people here would react to Sailer.)

The bottom line is that introducing Sailer did nothing to convince anyone that Sykes’s arguments are well-supported, and only created an inflammatory distraction. Which makes it look an awful lot like trolling.

52

dsquared 06.11.10 at 4:18 pm

Does Sykes really believe that Celts are or were indigenous to the British Isles? I think this must have got a bit garbled. There are and were native Britons who have been around for 8,000 years but they’re not the same people as whoever it was that was producing proto-Celtic objects around Hallstatt in 1200 BCE.

53

Jack Strocchi 06.11.10 at 4:20 pm

Anderson @ #49 said:

On that theory, your bookshelf volumes of Houston Stewart Chamberlain and Alfred Rosenberg must be handy resources, Mr. Strocchi

Since those volumes* are not handy to me, or anyone else I am aware of, it follows that Seeds “theory” is wrong.

But why bother with evidence when the verdict is already known. What only remains to be decided is the exact charge.

Again, the method is not the prosecution of actual or explicit offence. Its potential or implied offence that is being chased down. This fine-woven drag-net, like its distant uncle Article 58 of the Soviet penal code, is absolutely guaranteed to haul in teaming schools of politically uncorrected fish.

This judicial business has been a great little earner ever since the early seventies when the Cult-Stud crew hung out its shingle and started to deconstruct ads for their hidden meanings.

On this basis the Volokh’s, Sailers and Strocchi’s of this world can always be hauled in on a trumped up charge. I suppose I should be grateful to be let off with a warning.

*Godwins Law violation. Automatic loss of argument.

54

Uncle Kvetch 06.11.10 at 4:33 pm

I suppose I should be grateful to be let off with a warning.

How delightful to witness Jack’s inspiring performance, just after reading this over at Edroso’s:

“Being a conservative these days is mostly about dishing out sob stories of your ill-treatment.”

Coincidence? I think not.

55

Jack Strocchi 06.11.10 at 4:38 pm

chris @ #51 said:

@Jack Strocchi: You cited Sailer as an authority

[insert eye-glazing, finger-wagging, talking-to]

Which makes it look an awful lot like trolling.

No, I did not “cite Steve Sailer as an authority”. I’m not about to put my head on a platter, acting as an accessory after the fact to thought-crime.

You could have saved yourself all that trouble by paying attention to what I actually wrote in evaluation of Sailer’s review.

Which consisted of three words: “He handily summarises…”

56

lemuel pitkin 06.11.10 at 4:45 pm

why bother with the ball-busting business of the scientific analysis

What Strocchi means here is something like back-breaking. His use instead of the term ball-busting (“pertaining to a domineering, challenging or threatening wife,” per the dictionary) is, shall we say, an interesting slip.

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Jack Strocchi 06.11.10 at 4:55 pm

lemuel pitkin @ <a href="http://crookedtimber.org/2010/06/10/language-choice/comment-page-2/#comment-320457#56 said:

What Strocchi means here is something like back-breaking. His use instead of the term ball-busting (“pertaining to a domineering, challenging or threatening wife,” per the dictionary) is, shall we say, an interesting slip.

My unguarded words betray me again, drat! Good work, inspector.

Actually, considering the kind of nagging I get from certain quarters for talking straight about unmentionable matters, ["language, dear me!"] I would say your discovery of my “interesting slip” is itself an interesting slip.

58

Uncle Kvetch 06.11.10 at 5:05 pm

Actually, considering the kind of nagging I get from certain quarters for talking straight about unmentionable matters

Oh, dear God. We get it already.

59

Jack Strocchi 06.11.10 at 5:10 pm

chris @ #47 said:

Obviously, the idea that most people are mongrels…

Do you have evidence for this belief? Or is it some sort of liberal axiom?

Also, whilst we are on the subject of correct “language choice”, a friendly word of advice: the World Wide Web is not the best place for likening “most people” on earth to unattractive dogs.

60

dsquared 06.11.10 at 5:11 pm

considering the kind of nagging I get from certain quarters for talking straight about unmentionable matters

are you trying to tell us you’re an underwear salesman?

61

Jack Strocchi 06.11.10 at 5:28 pm

dsquared @ #60 said:

are you trying to tell us you’re an underwear salesman?

No, if I were I would have referred to “unmentionables. Please, try to “follow the bouncing ball”.

62

liberal 06.11.10 at 5:50 pm

Jack Strocchi wrote,

According to Oxford geneticist Bryan Sykes, the Brits , are mostly descendant from Celts who long ago roamed the country we now call “Spain”. Perhaps distantly related to the Basques.

Hmm…seems unlikely, given that the Celts were Indo-Europeans and the Basques aren’t, but of course language isn’t perfectly correlated with genes.

63

Scott Martens 06.11.10 at 5:54 pm

I think I’m missing the point about these genetic arguments. Saying that Israeli Jews have a sizable Middle Eastern ancestry is probably not a good argument. Modern Palestinians are descended from the people who lived in the region in the Roman era. I don’t have any data, but I would bet that the average Muslim from Hebron shares more of the DNA of Roman-era Palestinian Jews than does the average West Bank colonist.

64

Kevin Donoghue 06.11.10 at 6:24 pm

I think I’m missing the point about these genetic arguments.

It’s called trolling. The pointlessness is the point. Presumably the claim that mongrels are unattractive dogs is intended to drag enraged pet-lovers into the discussion. Many vets will tell you that mongrels are generally healthier than the expensive, inbred animals that win at dog shows. Hybrid vigour, they call it.

65

Jack Strocchi 06.11.10 at 7:23 pm

Kevin Donoghue @ #64 said:

It’s called trolling. The pointlessness is the point.

Obviously all pointless trolling is irritating. But not all irritating arguments are pointless trolls. Irritation is, after all, a sign of life.

At a minimum I want to raise some nagging doubts about the way CT’ers address cultural diversity. Which at the moment seems to consist of burying IED’s* all over the cultural landscape and then detonating them by remote control whenever an unsupecting Right-winger wanders onto the field.

With any luck a change of tack might even prise open a gap in the epistemically closed circle that is “cultural constructivism”. Trust me guys, this ideology is exhausted and will not survive in its present condition once the genomic juggernaut starts to pick up momentum.

The point of introducing “genetic arguments” into a debate about the “linguistic choice” is to try and ground discussion of human difference in something more substantial than Left-liberal ideological nostrums.

A point which escaped you, on the dubious assumption that you would ever be interested in apprehending it.

* Ideological Explosive Device

66

chris 06.11.10 at 7:33 pm

@62: I think the theory is that the Celts are genetically mostly descended from a non-Indo-European group, but their language is the result of an early-Indo-European conquest, possibly assisted by some new technology (e.g. horse domestication). Some go further and speculate that the interaction between those two peoples has been immortalized in Celtic myth as the Tuatha de Danaan and Milesians respectively (IIRC, legendary sources state that the Milesians came to Ireland from Spain), in which case the Tuatha’s legendary aversion to iron may be interpreted as evidence that the culture that was the source for the myth had Bronze Age technology while the newcomers had iron.

But obviously most of that is very uncertain.

67

Earnest O'Nest 06.11.10 at 7:46 pm

Jack, are you sure you’re not genetically predisposed to trolling without knowing that you’re trolling?But “once the genomic juggernaut starts to pick up momentum” really is a beauty for which I cannot but thank you. It is a wonderful IAD*.

* Irony Activation Device

68

Henry 06.11.10 at 7:57 pm

Jack – I’m banning you from further comments on my threads. That you clearly believe Crooked Timber to be a hotbed of cultural constructivism suggests that you are more interested in having a debate with the leftists in your head than in actually engaging with real, live, actual humans. I don’t see that you add anything particular to argument – and you have a pronounced habit of threadjacking. Any further comments from you will be deleted on sight. Goodbye.

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CJColucci 06.11.10 at 9:11 pm

unattractive dogs

Count me among the outraged pet lovers resenting this unfounded slurs on mongrels.

70

Kaveh 06.12.10 at 12:07 am

@9 At least part of the difference is that Jewish identity is different from Muslim identity in the following sense: it is much more common, and much easier, to be an atheist Jew than to be an atheist Muslim.

You say this based on what evidence or experience? I don’t know if this applies to you in particular, but I a lot of people make this or similar claims based on their own attempt to interpret Islamic Scripture. Far be it from me to stop them from interpreting Islamic Scripture, but as attempts to predict how people actually behave, they’re not worth the bytes of server space they’re stored in.

In my experience, you could call “atheist Muslims” (or virtually atheist) those people who see practice of certain tenets of Islam as essentially a social act, as a way of respecting the sensibilities of people around them. But then when you do that it quickly becomes apparent that the difference between an atheist and non-atheist Muslim can be pretty small. (For example, how much is a devout Muslim allowed to sin? Historically, Muslims have mostly not been puritans.)

I think that the oft-repeated cries of “But Islam is a belief system, not an ethnicity!” have a lot to do with discomfort with the fact that the meaning of any belief is contextual. Furthermore, there is probably some resistance (due to racism/cultural prejudice) to actually learning the context in which Islamic beliefs are held. I can see this troubling libertarians, in particular.

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sg 06.12.10 at 3:11 am

I’ve met quite a few muslims I would characterise as “atheist muslims,” who only engage in some religious practice as a cultural artifact, may or may not believe in a God, but generally don’t fuss about the details or read the books. I suspect that there are an awfully large number of these folk in Turkey, Indonesia, Egypt, Oman, etc. I got kicked in the face a lot of times by a muslim guy in Australia who spent the first 20 years of his adult life not caring about any of the elements of his religion, and who turned back to it when he discovered he had anger management issues; he married a christian somewhere in amongst that and his kids go to a catholic school.

These characterisations of muslims as somehow especially fanatically religious are really unhelpful, and I suspect have to do with having met a very small number of muslims.

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Tom T. 06.12.10 at 3:38 am

#41 — Perhaps Volokh has some principled reason for arguing that wanting to ban the Koran and preaching in foreign languages does not impose a significant burden on free speech.

Henry, do you really not see a difference between “speaking in favor of restrictions on Islam” and “enacting restrictions on Islam”? And why a free-speech advocate might conclude that the first should be protected while opposing the second?

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mds 06.12.10 at 4:05 am

Henry, do you really not see a difference between “speaking in favor of restrictions on Islam” and “enacting restrictions on Islam”?

The difference is a pretty substantial one when the speaking is being done by Martin Smith from Croydon. It rapidly becomes less substantial the closer the speaker comes to being part of a national government coalition. Hence the importance of “European politician” in the original post. And the question remains of how substantial Volokh himself would find the distinction if it weren’t Islam. Hey, Jörg Haider was just some guy with opinions, too. What difference did it make how much political power he held?

Jack – I’m banning you from further comments on my threads.

It’s too bad he became so tiresome, since I confess I found “shrouded in mist, buffeted by huge seas and frequently stuck in their peaty bogs whenever they tried to wander” quite amusing.

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sg 06.12.10 at 5:56 am

I’m amused that he originally settled for the phrase “critic of islam” when the quote he gives includes Wilders saying 1.5 million Dutch are for “less islam.”

There’s no sense in which “wanting less islam” is equivalent to “critical of islam.” They mean very different things. If that quote had said “less Judaism” I don’t think Volokh would be suggesting that it was just “criticism of Judaism.”

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praisegod barebones 06.12.10 at 12:09 pm

Henry, do you really not see a difference between “speaking in favor of restrictions on Islam” and “enacting restrictions on Islam”? And why a free-speech advocate might conclude that the first should be protected while opposing the second?

Tom T., I’ll ask again: do you think there are any other peoples free speech rights that might be worth mentioning in the context of a prominent politician wanting to ban the Koran? Or are Wilder’s rights the only ones that require being spoken up in favour of?

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Henry 06.12.10 at 2:48 pm

bq. why a free-speech advocate might conclude that the first should be protected while opposing the second?

Tom T. – rather obviously the question _isn’t_ whether Geert Wilders’ speech should be suppressed. I can’t for the life of me see why you think this is germane. It’s whether Volokh should characterize Wilders’ demonstrably vile opinions in such an anodyne way. That’s what my post is about. Since neither Volokh’s original post, nor mine had anything to say on whether Wilders’ speech should be banned, this is a complete red herring.

77

ejh 06.12.10 at 3:27 pm

it would perhaps be a tu quoque. Look it up – it really is just fancy Latin for saying ‘and you too’

Straightforward Latin, surely?

78

virgil xenophon 06.12.10 at 3:53 pm

I would only comment that it is my personal belief from observation of “moderate,” “secular” Muslims (having lived variously in Libya, Turkey, and the UK) in the US and elsewhere is that they are “moderate” only in the same way American “Cafeteria Catholics” are “moderate/secularized” i.e., both groups greatly ignore some/most of the most basic tenents of their religion in order to fit into a larger mainly secularized society.

But as to Islam proper, I would advance the argument that it is not a “pure” religion at all. (whatever THAT means–but for the purposes of my argument lets roll with it as a concept useful for comparative purposes) Rather, compared to the state of present-day Christianity Judaism, Hinduism,etc., it is–as practiced everywhere it is dominate in society and in control of the machinery of government–a totalitarian political ideology dressed up in the trappings of a religion–which inevitably insures a stultifying all-encompassing theocratic government that brooks little or no competing ideology/religion–apologists like Juan Cole notwithstanding.

79

bianca steele 06.12.10 at 4:05 pm

virgil,
You say “present-day” Christianity, but it seems to me that institutional Christianity’s withdrawal from the political/state sphere is very recent and not total (conditioned on a religious profession by the monarch, and concession of certain spheres of social life to the church, for example). On the theory that the further withdrawal of religion from the public sphere is a process that has been occurring in “the west” for three or four hundred years, it seems reasonable to foresee a similar process occurring in Islam and other religions as the people who practice those religions become more “modern.” People who attack “cafeteria Catholicism” or “synagogues that are really like churches” or “people who pretend to worship God but really worship themselves” seem to be yearning for a time before this process began, regardless of what the religion is, so I don’t see the point of your distinction.

80

Tom T. 06.12.10 at 4:31 pm

Henry, in comment #8, you expressly question how EV reconciles his commitment to free speech with Wilders’ desire to impose speech restrictions, and in comment #41, you speculate that this means that EV actually does not oppose the enactment of speech restrictions. I don’t know why it’s confusing to you that I would respond to those remarks.

But OK, stripping the thread back to the negative inference from Volokh’s tone, that strikes me as an awfully thin reed on which to hang such a heinous charge. Should we likewise conclude from your recent post on Turkey that you support the repression of the Kurds? After all, isn’t it curious that you would describe the country with such an anodyne phrase as “member of the UN in good standing” without mentioning its longstanding human rights abuses?

81

Kaveh 06.12.10 at 4:54 pm

@78 apologists like Juan Cole notwithstanding.

s/b “views of people who have actually studied the history of Islam notwithstanding.”

both groups greatly ignore some/most of the most basic tenents of their religion in order to fit into a larger mainly secularized society

Depending on your definition of “basic tenets,” Muslims have been doing this in predominantly Muslim societies for about as long as there have been predominantly Muslim societies. (And I’m sure a similar thing could be said of predominantly Catholic societies, &c.) Are you thinking about drinking alcohol? I hope I don’t need to substantiate the obvious fact that Muslims have been drinking since… always. The particular ways that people tend to want to violate “basic tenets” of their religion in the modern US, modern Yemen, and anywhere at all 300 years ago, are all different. But, for example, if not tolerating “idolatry” is to be considered a basic tenet of Islam, note that Zoroastrians, and Buddhists, and Hindus have in practice been treated as protected minorities in Iran and India (probably because the alternative would have been very bloody), and this is completely at odds with the supposed basic tenet.

82

virgil xenophon 06.12.10 at 7:08 pm

Kaveh/

Never claimed Cole wasn’t a student of Islam, nor that all his observations are/have been erroneous–nor all his conclusions wrong. But any fair reading of his work–en grosso mondo–would, to my mind, reveal him to be an apologist for some of the more egregious aspects of Islam.

83

Kaveh 06.12.10 at 7:37 pm

reveal him to be an apologist for some of the more egregious aspects of Islam.

Like what? You don’t seem to be leaving much room between full-fledged apologists and people who condemn condemn condemn. Cole often points out (like I did) where certain tenets (like the ones I mentioned) are generally not enforced in practice, especially when to do so would require great violence. He puts things in historical context, which is not the same as being an apologist. He also regularly criticizes particular Muslims and Muslim groups–the Iranian government and other Muslim governments, the Taliban (both Pakistani and Afghan movements), right-wing religious parties, (iirc) the reaction against the cartoons, he has used the word “fanatical” fairly regularly over the years (for a great many Muslim groups he doesn’t like). So what are these “egregious aspects of Islam” (what does that even mean?) that Cole is defending?

84

virgil xenophon 06.12.10 at 7:41 pm

bianca steele/

Your point about the evolution of Christianity is well taken, but I simply don’t see ANYTHING in present trends to make it seem “reasonable” that the same will hold true for Islam–in fact the trends seem to all the other way. And those who would dispute this view are, imo, simply whistling past the grave-yard. “The wish being Father to the thought,” etc. Of course, YMMV.

And, btw, I wrote nothing about “yearning for a time before the process (moderation) began” by way of making the point that “moderate” Muslims are the functional equivalents of cafeteria Catholics. Rather I only sought to point out that while certain secularizing Muslims may be “moderating,” Islam the religion as written, is not. Claims by many to the contrary, it is not that the Jihadists/Islamists have “hi-jacked” the Koran, or that the “moderates” are correct in their interpretations; actually the fundamentalist Jihadists have been the most faithfully correct interpreters of it. Thus it is my conclusion that, given the wording of the Koran, Islam is the perfect functional equivalent of the Andromedea Strain, with the Koran akin to those seeds which lie dormant in dessicated deserts for hundreds of years awaiting but a single drop of water to germinate and spring into full bloom–in this case for impressionable young future minds to pick up, read,and begin anew to carry out the exhortations of Allah as written in “the book.” No dilution with the passage of time here, I am afraid, alcohol-swilling Muslim Arab Sheiks partying at the Connaught in London notwithstanding.

85

yabonn_fr 06.12.10 at 7:56 pm

Andromedea Strain, [...] seeds which lie dormant in dessicated deserts [...] alcohol-swilling Muslim Arab Sheiks partying at the Connaught in London notwithstanding.

Impressive expertise on the subject. Let me just raise a glass of raki to it.

86

Kaveh 06.12.10 at 7:58 pm

@80 EV’s language is a matter of a hammer wanting things to be nails. If Islam is mainly an idea, rather than a cultural background, then EV has grounds for taking a position different from that of most people who would criticize Wilders from the left, which I think is ultimately what he wants. A view of Islam that is largely shaped by common prejudices (that is, a view that sees Islam as transparent, as something that doesn’t need to be understood on its own terms–Orientalism, if you want) and that he feels no need to check against the relevant facts, facilitates this treatment of the problem as a nail (as any kind of nail, but this kind especially).

But I think the result (calling Wilders a “critic” of anything) is more obvious absurd than the thinking that led EV there.

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bianca steele 06.12.10 at 8:01 pm

virgil: Wow. The Andromeda Strain?

You might as easily argue that any religious text (and not only religious texts: why not include Baudelaire and Fielding and Kafka?) should be kept out of the hands of impressionable young people who might read it without an associated institutional context and historical commentary to tell them the best ways found up until now to interpret it. You might even argue that there is no question that, historically, these kinds of texts have contributed to problems, not just limited to the idea that jihad would be kewl, but also mental problems like schizophrenia (the delusions in which tend to track pretty closely the dominant mystical and theological imagery in a society (from what I’ve read, which unfortunately isn’t all that current)), and consequently ban all such literature and anything even a little bit like it, but that would be a little extreme, don’t you think? If we’re going to get all flowery here with our prose?

But to dial things down a little, by any tradition’s standards, its interpretations are correct. Fundamentalists think their interpretations are correct, and so do reformers. It would be a strange tradition that admitted its opponents were more correct than itself.

You say you see trends moving mostly Muslim societies in a more fundamentalist direction. Okay, where? Some very prominent fundamentalist organizations exist specifically to oppose their secularizing, modernizing, westernizing governments, which suggests that their side has been losing power and they are getting increasingly frustrated at their lack of influence, not that they are going to be the new majority.

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virgil xenophon 06.12.10 at 8:08 pm

Kaveh/

Perhaps you are right to a degree. Although I tried to qualify my criticism of Cole, perhaps my words made him out to be a “blanket” apologist which he is not, to be fair to the record. Still in all, I would contend there is a gloss which covers his work(to my mind at least) which seems overly forgiving in attempting to “understand.”

OTOH, if you don’t know what the word “egregious” means wrt Islamic practices–if, like obscenity, you can’t admit of it’s existence or easily define the most outrageous of it’s examples, then I can understand your perplexity.

89

Henry 06.12.10 at 8:32 pm

Tom T. – what you suggested in your comment was that there was no problem with Eugene Volokh defending Geert Wilders’ free speech rights – e.g. the bit about why a “free-speech advocate might conclude that the first should be protected.” Since Eugene Volokh is not actually defending Wilders’ free speech rights, and I am not criticizing him for any such defense, this is really completely irrelevant. And if you can provide some more precise description of the “heinous charge” that I am supposed to be making, I would love to see it. You seem to be suggesting with your analogy that I am saying that Eugene Volokh is positively in favour of banning the Torah and getting Muslims carted back to their homelands. I do not say that, and I specifically make it clear that I am not saying that in comments above. What I _am_ saying is that Eugene Volokh apparently finds Geert Wilders’ revolting attacks on Muslims to be reasonably summarized under the rubric of ‘criticisms of Islam,’ or, if he is pushed on it in public, ‘advocacy of restrictions on the practice of Islam.’ In other words – he might not favour these attacks, but he finds them rather less disturbing than he should. Eugene Volokh may or may not support these measures, but he doesn’t believe that they are sufficiently problematic to be worthy of direct criticism, even when he is pushed quite hard on this in public. And he could very easily make his position clear without attacking Wilders’ free speech – e.g. by saying that he deplores Wilders’ proposals but recognizes his right to make them.

Let me ask you – do _you_ think that ‘leading critic of Islam’ is a reasonable and accurate characterization of Wilders’ position in Dutch public debate?

90

virgil xenophon 06.12.10 at 8:32 pm

Well you ARE correct that their are many concurrent trends/interpretations/schools-of-thought afield in the Islamic world. And that the fundamentalist/Jihadist/Islamist approach/dominance is of fairly recent vintage, harking back to only the late 70s, really, and there is no reason either logically or historically why these trends cannot change, so perhaps I am overly pessimistic. Perhaps the Muslim as characterized in Agnes Newton Keith’s “Children of Allah” will again predominate–only more secularized/educated with the passage of time. But it seems that the more militant strain of thought is much encouraged and eager to fill the vacuum (I’m a big believer in the vacuum-theory of history) created by a Western Civilization that has lost the courage of it’s own convictions and faith in even the best of it’s institutions–historically the ONLY bulwarks against the sort of tyrannical ideologies/movements as represented by fundamentalist, Jihadist Islam.

91

virgil xenophon 06.12.10 at 8:35 pm

Sorry,#90 was directed to bianca.

92

Henry 06.12.10 at 8:49 pm

And your Turkey analogy is inapt. If I had described Turkey as a “a country which had adopted a critical attitude towards minority rights” and then, when criticized, clarified that it had “sometimes sought to restrict Kurdish cultural practices” or some such, you’d have a case. But I didn’t, and so you don’t. And that is the key difference here. Nobody made Eugene Volokh adopt such a weaselly way of describing Geert Wilders’ shameful attitude towards Muslims. But he did – and in quite specific terms. This isn’t an error of omission but of actively describing Wilders’ position as something it is not. Suggestio falsi rather than suppressio veri.

93

Kaveh 06.12.10 at 11:12 pm

virgil: Your point about the evolution of Christianity is well taken, but I simply don’t see ANYTHING in present trends to make it seem “reasonable” that the same will hold true for Islam—in fact the trends seem to all the other way.

I don’t believe you can substantiate this.

94

virgil xenophon 06.12.10 at 11:44 pm

Well, Kaveh, for the here and now, outside of a foot-noted, multi-page monograph, probably not to your satisfaction, as this is, after all, an opinion blog of quick and dirty stream-of-consciousness postings–hopefully thoughtful. I WOULD point out, however, that the heretofore most secularized Islamic nation on the planet–Turkey–is very publicly rapidly retrogressing toward fundamentalist Islam before our very eyes, so THAT little as-plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face fact alone should give you pause..

95

Hidari 06.13.10 at 12:23 am

‘I WOULD point out, however, that the heretofore most secularized Islamic nation on the planet—Turkey—is very publicly rapidly retrogressing toward fundamentalist Islam before our very eyes….’

I am making a wild stab in the dark here, and forgive me if my crazy outlandish supposition has no basis in truth, but I am guessing that you haven’t visited Turkey recently?

96

virgil xenophon 06.13.10 at 1:15 am

No, Hidari, it’s been several years since I’ve been, but one doesn’t have to fly to the surface of the sun to know that it’s hot, either..

97

Kaveh 06.13.10 at 10:27 pm

@94 You can’t cite *any* evidence–not even one persuasive example? No, of course not…
@96 So instead you try to hide your lack of evidence with hyperbole.

98

Hidari 06.13.10 at 10:42 pm

‘but one doesn’t have to fly to the surface of the sun to know that it’s hot, either.’

Yeah you don’t have to actually watch the turd fall out of the bull’s ass to know it’s bullshit, either.

99

Alex 06.14.10 at 12:06 am

I’m guessing it has something to do with the fact that Turkey had the tenacity to, would you believe it, condemn Israel for attacking their flotilla, and propose enriching uranium for Iran.

100

George Berger 06.14.10 at 7:06 am

I do not know if it has been mentioned her, but two interesting “restrictions” these: (1) registering every Dutch citizen according to ethnicity (in each municipalities population registry). (2) Imposing a special tax on the wearing of headscarves by Moslim women. The first restricts the safety of every citizen, since a Wilders style government would be able to follow the activities of everyone. The horrid behaviour of too many Dutch in WW2 should be kept in mind. Jews were both tracked down and financially disadvantaged. As a Jew and a Dutch citizen, I have a deviant opinion of the breadth and depth of tolerance in the Netherlands.

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George Berger 06.14.10 at 7:20 am

PS. Point (2) will restrict the financial elbowroom of Moslims, who now often have low-paid jobs or none at all. I might also mention that a good number of young Moslims have left for Turkey and Morrocco, where they see opportunities for more and better-paid jobs. I hear that these people are often highly educated. I am retired and left the country. I could no longer tolerate the racism, xenophobia, and trashed social services.

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chris 06.14.10 at 3:47 pm

@93: Who needs substantiation when you have confirmation bias?

Mentally ill people sometimes read religious tracts and go on to do crazy things like, say, assassinate doctors or blow up government buildings. They don’t have to be Muslims to do so. Any religion will do, if you believe in it fervently enough.

This suggests that fanaticism itself is the problem, and not the specific sect to which the fanatic belongs.

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