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UNC Sued For Assigning A Text on Islam to Freshmen

By gonerill in Op-Ed
Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 05:46:54 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

The Washington Post reports that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill "finds itself besieged in federal court and across the airwaves by Christian evangelists and other conservatives" for assigning incoming freshmen a book about Islam. The Post reports that Fox News Network's Bill O'Reilly "compared the assignment to teaching 'Mein Kampf' in 1941 and questioned the purpose of making freshmen study 'our enemy's religion.'"


O'Reilly's analogy is laughable. Mein Kampf is not the sacred text of a major world religion, and moreover in 1941 "our enemy's religion" was the same as ours. Do people take this sort of grandstanding seriously? I don't know.

In addition to O'Reilly's ranting, an organization called the Family Policy Network has filed a lawsuit against UNC in federal court. They claim that assigning the book is unconstitutional because it amounts to proselytizing for a particular religion. Last year UNC assigned its freshmen The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, a superb book about a Hmong family with an epileptic child, and their experiences with the U.S. medical system. Was this proselytizing Hmong beliefs? Of course not. And neither is this year's book, Michael Sells' Approaching the Qur'an. It's food for thought and discussion. It makes you more informed about Islam and where it comes from. Given the current political circumstances, this can only be a good thing.

There is an irony here. The capacity to read a high-quality translation like Sells' is something the Islamic world generally lacks. Only last month, the Arab Human Development Report found that, each year, the entire Islamic world translates less than one fifth the number of books that Greece does. If anything, people like Bill O'Reilly should be pointing to Sells' work, and UNC's choice of it, as a sign of the openness and vitality of U.S. culture.

Of course, it would be a mistake to pat ourselves on the back and stop there. Ideally, Sells' book ought to be the starting point for some deeper thinking about the relationship between religion and social structure. Do muslim societies look the way they do for distinctively religious reasons? Why don't Western Europe and the U.S. look that way? Do the differences have something to do with the particular character of Islamic and Christian beliefs? Sociologists have asked comparative questions like this since Max Weber asked what role the ethics of the world religions play in social and economic change. The answers aren't simple. Easy generalizations about the inherent character of Christianity or Islam are likely to be wrong. On this point, I'm reminded of a comment Ernest Gellner made in his brilliant essay, "Flux and Reflux in the Faith of Men". It's worth quoting at length:

I like to imagine what would have happened had the Arabs won at Potiers and gone on to conquer and Islamise Europe. No doubt we should all be admiring Ibn Weber's The Kharejite Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism which would conclusively demonstrate how the modern rational spirit and its expression in business and bureaucratic organization could only have arisen in consequence of the sixteenth-century neo-Kharejite puritanism in northern Europe. In particular, the work would demonstrate how modern economic and organizational rationality could never have arisen had Europe stayed Christian, given the inveterate proclivity of that faith to a baroque, manipulative, patronage-ridden, quasi-animistic and disorderly vision of the world. A faith so given to seeing the cosmic order as bribable by pious works and donations could never have taught its adherents to rely on faith alone and to produce and accumulate in an orderly, systematic and unwavering manner. Would they not always have blown their profits on purchasing tickets to eternal bliss, rather than going on to accumulate profits and more? ... Altogether, from the viewpoint of an elegant philosophy of history, which sees the story of mankind as a sustained build-up to our condition, it would have been far more satisfactory if the Arabs had won. By various obvious criteria -- universalism, scripturalism, spiritual egalitarianism, the extension of full participation in the sacred community not to one, or some, but to all, and the rational systematisation of social life -- Islam is, of the three great Western Monotheisms, the one closest to modernity. (Ernest Gellner, Muslim Society, Cambridge University Press: New York, 1981, 7.)

Gellner's point is at once sharp and complex. It invites you to think hard about how culture and social structure are related, and to question some common wisdom on the topic. As Sells points out in a recent Op-Ed Piece, his book "makes no general claims about Islam". Its more modest goal is to provide readers with the tools to think about Islam in an informed and knowledgeable way. By assigning it, UNC is sending its freshmen down a path that will, if they follow it, let them understand, assess and respond to an argument like Gellner's. The effort to broaden the horizons of students by presenting them with challenging ideas and encouraging reasoned discussion about them is, it seems to me, one of the main things universities are for. I wonder what Bill O'Reilly, the Family Policy Network and other critics of UNC's reading list think what the phrase "higher education" means, if not something like that.

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Related Links
o Washington Post reports
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o Approachin g the Qur'an
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o Also by gonerill


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UNC Sued For Assigning A Text on Islam to Freshmen | 338 comments (313 topical, 25 editorial, 0 hidden)
1st amendment (3.83 / 18) (#1)
by enterfornone on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:01:29 PM EST

I wonder what would happen if they made them read the Bible.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
Awesome! (3.50 / 2) (#3)
by DesiredUsername on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:05:51 PM EST

They should do that next year!

hehehe...I'm chortling with glee already...

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]

eh, i had a class on the bible, it was good (5.00 / 3) (#7)
by infinitera on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:08:43 PM EST

Talked about the 3 (and 4) different styles in the old testament, the textual and other evidence that exists for claiming different authors/timeperiods, the literary tools used therein, and the historic period in which they would have written. Quite a cool class.

[ Parent ]
Read the article! (4.00 / 5) (#4)
by decaf_dude on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:06:34 PM EST

The students were asked to read a book about Islam, not Qur'an itself. Thus, it can never be analogous to asking them to read the Bible.


--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


[ Parent ]
Hello, Mr Rigid (3.33 / 3) (#8)
by DesiredUsername on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:09:35 PM EST

s/the Bible/something about Xianity/

Cripes, do you 1-mod all the jokes you don't get?

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]

Dangerous error (4.16 / 6) (#13)
by decaf_dude on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:19:18 PM EST

There are probably more people like enterfornone who won't read the actual article but will instead proceed to comment straight away. That comment is dangerous because it will mislead people to think the students were asked to read Qur'an, which couldn't be further from truth. In fact, the students were asked to read what can be considered a critique (as in "evaluation, observation", not "it sucks") of the religion that seems to be so hotly discussed yet so poorly understood these days.

A misinformed flamebait is not a joke.


--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


[ Parent ]
Bible as Literature (5.00 / 3) (#12)
by Merk00 on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:18:48 PM EST

In my freshman year of high school we had to read a book entitled "The Bible as Literature." It mostly consisted of excerpts from the Bible. This was, however, a literature class and not designed to promote understanding of Muslims or whatever the UNC class is trying to do.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

people complained at my school (5.00 / 3) (#84)
by Delirium on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:41:24 PM EST

That was going to be part of our freshman curriculum, but some parents (mostly parents of Hindus, since there are a lot of Indians in our district) complained, and they dropped the assignment.

Which is a shame, because it really is necessary to have at least a basic understanding of the Bible to be able to understand much of western literature. At least knowing the major points so you can recognize some obvious allusions and symbolism would be a good start.

[ Parent ]

well (3.66 / 3) (#15)
by strlen on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:20:22 PM EST

this is a university, not a public school. it also didn't actually say they read the qu'aran, but i wouldn't find it wrong if you had to read passages of the bible for a history or theology class or some sort of class where that material may be relevant, or even required to as a freshman to read a text written by a christian which makes references to the bible (which is what this case is similar to). the reason why you can't do a lot of religious related work at a high school, is that school kids are very much impressionable and can still be convinced in favor of religious, but when they enter college its time to draw a line. by they way, the 'impressionable' argument has been used to allow for prayer in congress -- as congressmen aren't school children.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
Wrong (5.00 / 1) (#182)
by heatherj on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 10:54:47 PM EST

UNC is a public university, funded by taxpayer dollars. If this were a story about a private university, such as Harvard, or Washington University, in St. Louis, it would be a non-issue. The same 1st amendment policies being applied to the public grade schools, apply to all public schools, regardless of grade level.

[ Parent ]
Hmm I see (none / 0) (#201)
by strlen on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 12:12:51 AM EST

I wasn't aware of that actually. Are there any precedents for such action in the past (separation of church and state in university), in terms of judicial cases?

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
The Bible (5.00 / 1) (#21)
by ucblockhead on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:32:59 PM EST

One of the colleges at the university I went to (University of California, San Diego, a public school), the college geared towards liberal arts, required all students to take a class that surveyed a number of ancient books, including Ulysses, the Bible, etc.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Ulysses? (5.00 / 1) (#77)
by pmk on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:26:33 PM EST

Ulysses was published in 1922 if my aging memory still serves. That's hardly ancient.

[ Parent ]
maybe he meant.. (4.00 / 1) (#114)
by infinitera on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:26:54 PM EST

the Odyssey? I have that mixed up link between them too, in my head, so I've said one meaning the other. ;) But, that's just a guess.

[ Parent ]
Oops (5.00 / 1) (#133)
by ucblockhead on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:51:39 PM EST

Er...didn't I say that? Doh!
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
muir college? (5.00 / 1) (#153)
by SocratesGhost on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 09:06:13 PM EST

i graduated from there in '96, but your description is not exactly accurate, if Muir is the college you're talking about. It's actually two classes that are required for graduation, with an emphasis on critical writing/reading. MCWP40 (the first one) was an assigned text of the administration's choosing. In my class, it was Amy Tan's "The Joy Luck Club". In MCWP50, they offered a dozen varieties of courses and you could take your pick of which ever one matched your temperament. Being a philosophy major, I took "Rhetoric or the Mind".

I got more out MCWP50 where I could choose the topical matter, than I ever did out of MCWP40, where it felt like they were forcing us to be multiculturally aware. MCWP40 was overly controlled by a political agenda. Everyone knew it. Almost everyone did better in MCWP50, too. Students do learn when you let them be free to learn. When you force everyone to study the same thing, it can only breed resentment. It's also counter to the goals of higher education.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
No (none / 0) (#161)
by ucblockhead on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 09:43:19 PM EST

Revelle, circa 1983.

(I graduated from Warren...they didn't require anything like that.)
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

ah. (none / 0) (#166)
by SocratesGhost on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 10:02:58 PM EST

actually, I think they do still have that course at Revelle, but the title of "Liberal Arts" studies has been handed to Muir. Revelle is now thought of as the science school.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Weird (none / 0) (#187)
by ucblockhead on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 11:21:49 PM EST

Things must have changed, probably because they added colleges. Lots of my hard-science buddies went to Muir.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Everyone would poke fun of it... (4.00 / 4) (#94)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:57:58 PM EST

... for all the absurdities. That is what we did in the history class I took. We read parts or all of the Bible, Qur'an, Bhagavad-Gita, Tao Te Ching, some Zen tea ceremony stuff, and a few others.

The majority of the class, comprised of "liberals" and some sane Christians had no problems with any of it. We were there to learn about the history of cultures and their religions were a part of that. A few of the Christians talked shit about reading the non-Christian stuff the whole time. One wouldn't even pray to her own god using a Muslim prayer that her group voted to perform for the class. Another couldn't stand to be in the room with us very long into the discussion session about the morals displayed in the old testament. We were hitting a bit close to home I guess (personally I didn't mind people giving me a lot to think about the religion I subscribed to at the time, Taoism, it was educational and I was in school after all).



[ Parent ]

Translating the Qu'ran isn't allowed (3.60 / 10) (#14)
by IHCOYC on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:19:53 PM EST

The capacity to read a high-quality translation like Sells' is something the Islamic world generally lacks.
My understanding is that Islam, either in the Qu'ran or as traditionally interpreted, forbids believers to translate the Qu'ran into any other tongues besides the original Classical Arabic. Any translation is at best the interpretation of the translator and not the inspired original. The entire enterprise of translation has traditionally been looked upon with disfavour by orthodox Muslims. While there are translations into Western languages, modern colloquial translations into the vernaculars of Islamic countries are unlikely to meet with acceptance.

Pallida mors æquo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas regumque turris. --- Horace

Not quite (5.00 / 4) (#16)
by enterfornone on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:26:10 PM EST

I'm pretty sure it's not forbidden, however the Arabic is considered the only definitive version and translations are only an interpretation of the translator. On the other hand, many fundementalist Christians believe that certain English translations (usually the KJV) are authorative.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
Partially right (5.00 / 1) (#45)
by fhotg on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 04:37:17 PM EST

It is my understanding that it is not forbidden to translate the Qur'an. But the translation isn't the Qur'an anymore, not a holy book anymore, not suited to study Islam.

And this makes very much sense, if you consider the un-translateable multi-layered structure of meaning supposedly exhibited by this work.
~~~
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

[ Parent ]

Bible (4.50 / 4) (#65)
by marx on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 05:49:03 PM EST

And this makes very much sense, if you consider the un-translateable multi-layered structure of meaning supposedly exhibited by this work.
As opposed to the obvious clean structure of meaning exhibited by the Bible I suppose.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

which is why... (5.00 / 3) (#105)
by Delirium on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:15:24 PM EST

...there are about 30 English translations of the Bible, some of which differ in very significant ways.

[ Parent ]
Inspired literature (5.00 / 1) (#205)
by IHCOYC on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 12:29:08 AM EST

Myself, I believe that Finnegans Wake by James Joyce is inerrant and infallible as to all matters of fact it affirms, as interpreted literally according to the plain meaning of the words of the original autographs.
--
"Complecti antecessores tuos in spelæis stygiis Tartari appara," eructavit miles primus.
"Vix dum basiavisti vicarium velocem Mortis," rediit Grignr.
--- Livy
[ Parent ]
Reason (5.00 / 1) (#18)
by enterfornone on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:27:39 PM EST

BTW, the reason for this is that the Qu'ran was supposedly dictated by Allah word for word in Arabic.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
Qu'ran source (5.00 / 1) (#48)
by Erbo on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 04:40:00 PM EST

Actually, it was the Angel Gabriel who supposedly dictated the Qu'ran to Mohammed. The original Arabic version is claimed to be an exact copy of a book in Heaven. Naturally, anyone who believes that would certainly not want to see the text altered in any way, even by translation.

Still, it gets translated. My wife owns a copy of an English translation; it's helped her gain insight into the culture of her Turkish friends. (OTOH, many Turks are fairly liberal as Muslims go.)
--
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]

A hidden weakness (none / 0) (#256)
by phliar on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 06:30:30 PM EST

It's all very well to say that the Koran is the literal word of god as dictated to Mohammed; however, Mohammed himself was illiterate and dictated it to a scribe.

I think one interesting question is: was the work of scribe ever checked? How could it be checked if Mohammed himself could not read it? A reader assigned to read it back to him might himself be inaccurate.

The only solution is a probabilitic one: if n independent readers read it to Mohammed, and there is a probability pi of a reader i being wrong, then the probablity of the written version being correct is 1 - \Pi pi -- somehow I don't think they analysed this problem.


Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Compilation of the Quran (none / 0) (#264)
by emad on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 11:04:53 PM EST

Multiple scribes copied the Quran down. Dozens of people memorized it from the recitations by the Prophet. It wasnt just 1 scribe. Feel free to peruse the following link for information on the compilation of the Quran:

http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/compilationbrief.html

[ Parent ]

That's a limiting weakness (4.00 / 2) (#30)
by Rasman on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 04:11:16 PM EST

IMHO, Islam would be a lot more popular if it weren't for that restriction. Why do I have to learn a whole new language (not to mention alphabet) just to educatedly convert to your religion? No way!

One of Christianity's strengths is its inherent "spread the word" philosophy. Is there such thing as a Muslim missionary?

For the record, I think it's great they're having to read about Islam. Sometimes I wish I had gone to UNC instead of NC State. Except for football season of course! :-)

---
Brave. Daring. Fearless. Clippy - The Clothes Pin Stuntman
[ Parent ]
Of course! (4.33 / 6) (#38)
by trhurler on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 04:25:18 PM EST

Is there such thing as a Muslim missionary?
Certainly. They fly planes into buildings.

Sorry, bad joke, but yes, there are. Most Muslims you meet, if you get to know them well enough, will try to tell you about their religion. That's fine by me, as I can always simply change the subject or find other people to spend my time with. What's annoying is when they start talking about how great everything would be if we'd just all submit to Islamic government and make women wear veils. (Yes, I've been told that by several different people. All men, as you'd imagine. You don't meet many Muslim women in US universities, because by and large they aren't allowed out of their own countries for such a purpose as education.)

The sad truth is that while Islam could be a decent enough religion as religions go, modern Muslims(not all, but most,) distort it for use as a justification for their prejudices and indefensible practices, and the end result is disgusting. They remind me of Christians in that regard, actually:)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Sufism (4.33 / 3) (#56)
by Rand Race on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 05:16:06 PM EST

Apparently, many early Sufis were - for all practical purposes - Islamic missionaries. For instance, the Walisongo; the nine Sufi saints who brought Islam to Indonesia. Now Sufism is most recognized as Islamic mysticism, but those mystic traditions were picked up in their meetings with traditions like Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and their Christian counterparts such as the Rosicrucians as well as from remnant Zoroastrian and Pagan ideals that they encountered in their missionary work.

As usual for such groups, their widened outlook and arcane rituals quickly distanced them from mainstream Islam to the point where many modern Muslims do not consider Sufism to be Islamic at all.


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
[ Parent ]

you don't meet Muslim women in US universities? (4.66 / 3) (#165)
by adequate nathan on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 09:49:30 PM EST

I find that astonishing, as I live just across the Canuckian border and my university is bursting at the seams with Muslim women. As a matter of fact, one of my co-workers is a Muslim woman doctoral candidate in biophysics.

Why is the US so different? Are you a bunch of xenophobes or something?

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
[ Parent ]

Depends on where you go to school I suppose (5.00 / 1) (#177)
by El Zahir on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 10:43:11 PM EST

I live just accross the canuckian border on THIS side :)

I certainly had Muslim women at my college, Jordanian, Omani, Pakistani... a couple of them came to my wedding. I suppose it all depends.

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled. - Richard Feynman


[ Parent ]
well that was more or less my point (5.00 / 1) (#185)
by adequate nathan on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 11:09:19 PM EST

I've studied at three universities and all of them had lots of Muslim women in them. I suspect that tr said 'Muslim' and meant 'raving fundamentalist.'

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
[ Parent ]

Hasn't stopped it (4.66 / 3) (#121)
by RandomPeon on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:34:38 PM EST

Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism are the only extant religions to spread very far from their place of origin. The Bible and Koran both command believers to convert non-believers. Both have gone about in a variety of ways, including but not limited to crusades/jihads against heathen lands. There have been countless Islamic missionary efforts. Like Christian missionaries, they're essentially marketing their God and they play up the good parts: the social justice aspects, the simplicity of Islamic theology, the great works inspired by the Islamic faith, and so on.

[ Parent ]
Thanks for the informative remarks (none / 0) (#31)
by HidingMyName on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 04:12:32 PM EST

I liked the original story, and these remarks on the view Muslims take of translations of the Quran are interesting.

I do have some questions about how how the reading is enforced on the students (is it part of a required course?). Also, I think the title might use slight revision.

On a side note, I had to read classical Greek Mythology (Edith Hamilton's book) when I was an undergrad, and many other people do as well. That certainly didn't feel like it was trying to get me to join up with some temple of the gods. Studying classical literature, even if it is religious in nature provides insight into the way people think, and doesn't necessarily mean that you should blindly accept the ideas presented.

[ Parent ]

Incorrect Statement (5.00 / 3) (#42)
by emad on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 04:32:27 PM EST

There is no prohibition or anything along those lines with regard to translating the Quran.  What you probably mean to say is, Muslims to do not consider what many people call "translations" to be the authoritative Quran and instead only regard it as a meaning/interpretation of the Quran.  
For instance, a copy of the Quran in English is really just what the "translator" understands the meaning to be.

[ Parent ]
Addendum (5.00 / 2) (#44)
by emad on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 04:34:54 PM EST

To quote CrackMonkey and his take on translations in general "any translation must necessarily be 1/3 transliteration to 2/3 interpretation"

[ Parent ]
Transliteration? (none / 0) (#280)
by primaryuser on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 04:28:14 AM EST

Transliteration means taking the way a word is pronounced and spelling it in another language to produce the same sound. So a transliteration of the french word 'rendez-vous' into english would be 'rondayvoo'.

[ Parent ]
That is a nice facade to hide behind (none / 0) (#337)
by sanga on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 07:00:42 PM EST

Of course everything written/translated is a gross approximation of what was intended. Intelligent humans have a way of piecing together various independent pieces of a work and figuring out the drift of the author. For instance you say, "there is no prohibition ..." for translation. Where do you know that from. What was the intent of the person/entity/literature that gave that impression to you? See what I mean ... we regress to where the ... ruler of the universe was in Life, the Universe and Everything :-)

[ Parent ]
i'm concerrned (2.81 / 11) (#17)
by SocratesGhost on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:27:19 PM EST

by the time people are in college, everyone is an adult. Why then is it necessary to continue with indoctrination programs? I understand that they are trying to educate, but to make a single belief into a mandatory course of study is foolhardy. Why isn't Das Kapital mandatory reading? Why isn't Being and Nothingness mandatory reading? Why isn't On the Origin of the Species mandatory reading? Why isn't the Tao Te Ching mandatory reading? The list could go on and would soon grow huge such that there would be no time for the purpose of college: the pursuit of specialized study.

Look, general education is supposed to be just that: general. When it becomes topical and specific, that's what the degree is all about.

-Soc
I drank what?


reading skills are lacking. (none / 0) (#39)
by alphabit on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 04:25:19 PM EST

SocratesGhost spewed:
"The list could go on and would soon grow huge such that there would be no time for the purpose of college: the pursuit of specialized study."

This has nothing to do with general studies over taking the more specialized areas of the college.

Let's look again at this in perspective: Every year the college picks one book of note for all college freshmen to read. Every year the chosen book is different. This means that during a student's 4 year stay at UNC they only have 1 book that is recommended reading. Does that sound something worth complaining about?

On the other hand maybe you do find reading a book every four years taxing? I would then probably recommend against you going to college then -- you'd probably find it pretty difficult even without this miniscule mandatory reading.

--
'It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.' -unknown
[ Parent ]
take your own advice (none / 0) (#49)
by SocratesGhost on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 04:40:13 PM EST

If the purpose of the course were a critical writing course on a particular topic that changes year to year, that's one thing. The topic is critical writing and in that case, it comes under the reasonable heading of general education. The topic of the course happens to be the Koran.

However, I'm failing to see the point of this curriculum. Is it just to require extra random reading? How does this help the student working toward his degree in biology? Is their general education system so poor that they have to do it scatter shot? As I said, I'm concerned, not outraged. Frankly, it just doesn't make sense to me what they are trying to teach; it sounds distracting.

If the purpose of the program is merely to require students to study a specific topic for no other apparent reason, it's not general education and it actually detracts from the learning process. That was my point. There's no reason to degrade into some jackass comments.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
my apologies. (none / 0) (#57)
by alphabit on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 05:16:16 PM EST

Yeah, that comment of mine could have easily done without that fairly pointless 'jackass' section at the end.

--
'It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.' -unknown
[ Parent ]
Did I just get a better education than you... (5.00 / 3) (#86)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:44:09 PM EST

... or what? Because I was told to read parts or all of every one of the books you mentioned. We read them, talked about the various points and ideas in each and then moved on.

You and the other poster I replied to talking about how liberals would moan about students been assigned Judeo-Christian texts sound pretty darn silly to me.



[ Parent ]

perhaps (2.00 / 1) (#146)
by SocratesGhost on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 08:26:48 PM EST

but then again, i read those books cover to cover (Except for origin of the species). Look, I don't care which text a person would have been required to read. I just don't understand the purpose of the class in the first place. It's obviously a first year/general education requirement, but what's the point of it? To study a single random text? Wouldn't this work be better served in the context of a comparative religion/history class? Is the rest of the general education curriculum just as random? As far as I can tell this is pointless. Hence, the concern. That's also why I listed all of those other books. There's a wide variety of ideas out there and if the point is to study a single work to the deepest degree, I think they would be better served by giving students a choice on the types of work. UNC-CH is a big enough school to allow diversity on this.

I went to UCSD Muir College, and there was a required course for critical writing using a single text as the subject matter. Every quarter, there was a choice of about 10 different classes with texts. As a result, the structure of the GE program achieved the goal of a critical reading and writing, but the student could tailor it to their interest. But not at UNC-CH. There, everyone has to take the same damn text.

Maybe those students will have a better education than me, too. But then again, I got a lot more out of taking "Critical Writing on Theories of the Mind" (we read "The Bell Curve") than "Critical Writing on Rhetoric in Journalism". Or do you think people learn better by everyone being funneled into one area of study, where comparative religion majors will have an advantage that biology students don't?

I am opposed to strict general ed requirements. Why shouldn't students have a choice about what they want to study? Aren't they paying for the school? Doesn't this class have a greater potential to distract from the goal of learning?

Incidentally, yes, you currently do have a better education than me. I'm looking into Grad Schools for philosophy. Which one are you attending and how are you enjoying it? I'm thinking of going back to UCSD so that I can continue studying under the Churchlands and this one really great prof: Wayne Martin.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Yeah, and what's the point of algebra?? (4.00 / 2) (#198)
by slur on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 11:49:38 PM EST

I learned all about algebra in school, but do I ever factor polynomials in my everyday life?  Heck, no!  We should eliminate it from the curriculum, especially now that we have computers to do it for us.

Some teacher once tried to convince me that learning different subjects and points of view were somehow going to "broaden" my mind and help me to think in different ways.  Fortunately I was able to resist being indoctrinated and have remained the proud American that God made me.

Okay, enough of my sarcastic rambling.

No one is harmed by reading a book on Islam, and I happen to think it benefits students of biology as much or more than students of comparative religion.  This is because I don't see education as an effort to compile knowledge in some narrow area but to exercise the mind.  Knowledge of comparative religion may not benefit the career of a biologist, but it will benefit the whole person, which is far more important.

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[ Parent ]

then why have majors? (3.00 / 1) (#220)
by SocratesGhost on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 02:09:15 AM EST

I think you and I could agree according to some of the things you've said. To a degree, you learn some things in high school that don't have applicability in later life. However, you don't pay for high school (generally) and so you take what you can get. You do pay for college and this is at a point where you should be determining what narrow focus you should be studying. To that degree, general ed should offer you possibilities for areas that you may want to study. But it shouldn't force you. If you already know what you want, why waste your own time and money studying things that really aren't your forte and that you could care less about?

general ed is what high school and elementary school is for. It is there that they should work to give you general skills in various areas. When you're doing collegiate work, the emphasis should be to focus the student's abilities in a particular area. I can see some general ed as being necessary but only in a limited way. I'm not opposed to people being well rounded. It's just that the well-rounding-process should have already taken place. We're dealing with adults now who should be getting on in their lives. Not wasting time studying advanced topics that they won't use.

as you can see, it's not the topic that I care about. It's the curriculum. in general.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Career focused (none / 0) (#257)
by slur on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 06:51:45 PM EST

You seem very career-focused and pragmatic.  You seem to say you want the most focused education money can buy and don't want to pay good money for extraneous and "useless" knowledge.  I hope you can appreciate it when a professor incorporates tangential information into his lectures, because such associations are often hard-won and yet he freely gives them.

I'm one of those strange people who seeks to use his mind to acquire knowledge and foster practices that contribute to the whole experience, and I couldn't care less about notions of career, ambition, and capitalism.  And yet my capacity for thinking far-afield has materially benefited me in all of my employed positions.  You may be surprised how valuable creativity and originality can be, and how diverse are the sources of original thought.

That being said, I'm not against the focused acquisition of knowledge within a single field.  I realize the rewards that come from pursuing any field of interest, and that every discipline contains a whole universe with its own path to enlightenment.  I have found, however, that in order to appreciate the art, spirit, and nature of the mundane everyday it is necessary to keep the crazy parts of your soul alive.  One must strive to be spiritual, to sense the intrinsic order, to appreciate the synchronicity that exists between all things and beings.  The study of poetry, religious thought, visual arts, music, and philosophy, and the practice of quieting the mind all necessarily contribute to one's appreciation and feeling of fulfillment within the scope of one's everyday life.  This applies as much to the line cook or truck driver as it does to the student of philosophy.

I do not agree that students are well-rounded people by the time they reach college.  High School in capitalist America teaches young people the social order and basic survival skills in a dog-eat-dog world.  It teaches kids how to get what they want, and who can get away with what against whom.  You are aware of the cliquishness of high school culture, yes?  High school rarely gives students a real appreciation for the universe we occupy or a sense of comraderie with all beings.  I suppose some will say this is the exclusive province of religion, but I think it's impossible and ill-advised to draw a black and white distinction between what is religious and what is good food for the mind.

I encourage you to go beyond the acquisition of focused knowledge in your continuing education.  In the end you'll be getting far more that what you're paying for.

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[ Parent ]

i do (none / 0) (#321)
by SocratesGhost on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:32:17 AM EST

i have a degree in philosophy, i used to be a licensed stock broker, and am now a Java programmer. I speak Japanese, Spanish, a little Swahili, and a little Greek. Knowledge is a wonderful thing. I think being well rounded is important...in my life and for what I want to get out of it. But I still think it should be also a matter of choice on whether you want to focus you energies.

If you want to be well rounded, that option should be available to you. If you want to be focused, right now, that choice is pretty much being denied.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
Freshman orientation (4.66 / 3) (#156)
by cr8dle2grave on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 09:21:50 PM EST

Soc,

Maybe I can allay some of your concerns. Many colleges customarily ask all incoming freshman to a read a book over the summer that will be discussed in seminars and/or lectures as part of freshman orientation week. It's a way of easing kids into the 'college life' and it is also hoped that it will provide common ground for discussion and thereby facilitate the getting-to-know-one-another process. If a few of them take some time out from the endless rounds of drinking games, bong smoking, panty raids, and the other shenanigans going on in the freshman dorms during orientation week and find themselves discussing current events and issues it helps to have a common basis from which to work. These kids are going to be discussing Islam, the middle east, and terrorism anyway, so a book on the Qur'an is an appropos choice this year.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
good point (3.00 / 1) (#168)
by SocratesGhost on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 10:17:23 PM EST

when it's presented like that, it doesn't seem so troubling. I do have concerns about the general ed requirements being dictated, though, and the fact that students who already have an interest in the subject will have an advantage over the students that just want to get their bio degrees and are forced to take this. General education is what Primary school is about.

Incidentally, the word I had intended was "orientation" instead of "indoctrination". I knew it didn't sound right when I first typed it, but I couldn't really figure why. Now that you've said it, (Thanks Much!) that's specifically what I have a problem with. Probably would've cleared up a lot of confusion had I been smart enough. ;)

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
There's a very difficult line there. (3.61 / 13) (#19)
by aphrael on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:29:40 PM EST

On the one hand, requiring students to read the Koran itself, or the Bible, or the Bhagavad-Gita, would be clearly unconstitutional unless approached as part of a comparative religion course; the requirement could esaily be interpreted as endorsing one religion or another.

On the other hand, much of historic human philosophical thinking has existed in relation to religion; either as a reaction against it or as an exploration of it. A mindless adherence to the line that nothing which treats with religion can be taught in the schools would prohibit such things as the poetry of rumi (in a literature class), or the works of Thomas Aquinas (in history or philosophy) or Erasmus.

There has to be a middle ground.

In this particular case, because I know nothing of the book in question, I have no idea if it's in the middle ground, or if it veers to close to being active proselytism. It's certainly a question which should be investigated.

That said, I'm certain that much of the political opposition to this is less a result of high-minded concern for civic virtue and more a result of sheer paranoid nationalism. Which is sad, but that's about where the country is right now.

If your constitution (4.25 / 4) (#37)
by fhotg on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 04:24:34 PM EST

actually forbids to require students read a holy book of my (the teachers) choice,

your constitution sucks. Stay away with it, it stinks.

The 'middle ground' does not make something right.
~~~
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

[ Parent ]

our laws (2.00 / 3) (#52)
by aphrael on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 05:00:35 PM EST

mean that children cannot be forcibly indoctrinated into one religion or another. That would be *wrong*, and would trample on the rights of the children and of their parents.

[ Parent ]
our laws (4.00 / 4) (#63)
by fhotg on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 05:35:22 PM EST

Our constitution comprises something called freedom of sciences, arts, research and teaching.The right of university teachers to let their students read whatever they see fit is held in high esteem.

Here, we consider people of the typical age of college freshmen 'adults' who do not have to be 'protected' from indoctrination anymore.

I guess that's pretty much cultural / mentality differences.
~~~
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

[ Parent ]

bad agit-prop example. try again. (none / 0) (#96)
by Caton on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:00:05 PM EST

Our constitution comprises something called freedom of sciences, arts, research and teaching.The right of university teachers to let their students read whatever they see fit is held in high esteem.
I did not read anybody advocating that a university should forbid a book. It is not the subject. The subject is required lectures.

I could also add that the day an Islamic country authorizes the publication of a translated version of the Bible, you might have a point. I could. But I won't.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]

good (5.00 / 2) (#82)
by thenerd on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:38:37 PM EST

I also presume that you realise that this is not an example of anybody being forcibly indoctrinated into anything.  Nobody forces them to go to this college, and nobody forces them to read this.  All they are asked to do is write a page on it, or write a page explaining why they object to write a page on it.

This is not indoctrination into anything.  There comes a point where 'rights' become stupid, and this is one of them.  Nobody has the right to never be offended in their life.

thenerd.


[ Parent ]

Indoctrination (4.66 / 3) (#181)
by pseudostatic on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 10:53:26 PM EST

I believe it is the social norm for parents to indoctrinate their children at a very young age. That's how religions propagate. Of course, children don't have rights, so it doesn't matter either way.

[ Parent ]
I do not know what or where you teach... (2.00 / 1) (#89)
by Caton on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:50:06 PM EST

...but would you agree to, say, a mathematic teacher requiring his/her students to read the SAS Self Defense Handbook ?

Yes, I know, it's a stupid example. Just pushing your argument to its absurd conclusion.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]

we have qualified math-teachers ;) (none / 0) (#242)
by fhotg on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 12:29:01 PM EST

and we trust them to choose books that help with math. Should a SAS-agent sneak in disguised as a math-teacher, we trust the students to notice it and simply refuse to read what they don't want to read.
~~~
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

[ Parent ]
Really? (1.00 / 1) (#247)
by Caton on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 02:20:47 PM EST

  1. So your constitution allows a teacher to require reading only of holy books that help with the subject taught. Interesting. How does your constitution defines this? I'd like a quote.
  2. You are implying that former SAS soldiers (not agents) cannot be qualified as math teachers and would need to sneak into a classroom. Care to explain your point of view?
  3. Note that the Canadian Air Force survival training includes the SAS Self-Defense training. Does your constitution also discriminate against former Canadian Air Force staff?
  4. Finally, I want to know why you feel that students should be allowed to ignore what a teacher requires of them if they notice the teacher is a former soldier.


---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
depends (2.40 / 5) (#22)
by godix on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:33:08 PM EST

If the students are required to learn about other religions then this is fine. If the students aren't required to learn Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, etc. then this is obviously a university playing favorities amoung religions. I don't support that, no matter how noble the goal is.

relevant (5.00 / 1) (#23)
by ceejayoz on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:44:55 PM EST

Maybe it's just a university gasp covering something relevant to the world we live in?  After September 11, knowledge about Islam is important to stop ignorant statements (some of them made by people criticizing this) like "Muslims are all our enemy".

[ Parent ]
So when aren't religions relevent? (4.00 / 1) (#81)
by godix on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:38:01 PM EST

Was Islam required during the gulf war? How about Christianity & Islam during Bosnia? Athiesm during the cold war? Shinto during WWII? In all these cases religion would have relevent as well. If the university required freshmen to learn every religion when it's 'relevent', fine, I have no problems with Islam now. If it doesn't, then it's giving special treatment to Islamic beliefs and I don't support that no matter how noble the reason behind it.

[ Parent ]
just make comparative religions mandatory (4.50 / 2) (#108)
by Delirium on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:18:01 PM EST

Instead of chasing around the currently "relevant" religion, universities should just make a class on comparative religions mandatory. It certainly wouldn't hurt people to know a little bit about all the major world religions, and then they'd be able to apply that knowledge whenever it become "relevant".

[ Parent ]
Well, if you had taken a class on Japan (none / 0) (#240)
by dasunt on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 11:33:12 AM EST

Maybe you'd realize that both Shintoism and Buddism are the major religions in Japan. Shinto came first, basically, it grew out of the native belief of the oriental settlers of Japan. Buddism was imported from the mainland. The Zen school of Buddism came later, and was encouraged by one of the governments in order to diminish the power of two other schools of Buddism. (Yes, some of the Buddist temples had standing armies. There are records of fighting in Kyoto (Japan's capitol for a millineum) by Buddist forces.

Oh well, just my $.02



[ Parent ]
How would you respond to this then? (none / 0) (#222)
by dave114 on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 04:04:36 AM EST

After September 11, knowledge about Islam is important to stop ignorant statements

What then would you have to say about the article contained here?

A brief quote from the page: Moffit, who has read the book, said its portrayal of the Quran is inaccurate. He said that if the University wanted to use the Quran to explain the events of Sept. 11, it should focus on suras 4,5 and 9, which deal with jihad and Islamic dealings with people of other religions. Those suras are not included in the book.

[ Parent ]

Open mouth... (4.75 / 24) (#24)
by Nikau on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:47:47 PM EST

...And insert foot. I found and read the transcript of the interview in which O'Reilly makes his remarks. It can be found here.

I read the entire transcript. Some thoughts: O'Reilly really comes off as one of those closed-minded self-righteous jerks. He says he wouldn't read the book assigned to the freshmen, and says he wouldn't have read "Mein Kampf" either, because it's "tripe". At this point his foot's so far in his mouth it's about to come out his rear. Kirkpatrick, the man who selected the book and is being interviewed by O'Reilly, asks how he knows that if he hasn't read it. O'Reilly replies that he knows he "would have read a summary," never mind he hasn't done that yet and he already called the book tripe.

He tries to recover by saying he's looked at it, there's good and bad stuff in there, and that it's like the Old Testament that way. I'm not sure I believe him, because he seems pretty fervent about these students not reading the book on the Koran. Then he makes the enemy remark - but he actually says "Islamic fundamentalism is our enemy". It's still insulting to some Muslims, I imagine.

A short time later he asks Kirkpatrick if he would have read "Mein Kampf" in 1941, to which Kirkpatrick replied he hoped he would. I don't think O'Reilly knew what to make of that. But Kirkpatrick explained by saying that it's important to understand others...

I actually am astonished that O'Reilly, someone who has his own show on a news channel, could be so incapable of having a rational discussion about the subject - he starts off in the interview sounding like it's going to convert the freshmen who have to read it to Islam. I'd expect better.

I'd also like to see some response from any Muslim organizations in the US regarding his comments and the choice of book by UNC. Anyone heard anything?

---
I have a zero-tolerance policy for zero-tolerance policies, and this policy itself is the exception to itself which allows me to have it without being contradictory. - Happy Monkey

It IS FoxNews (3.57 / 7) (#54)
by The Turd Report on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 05:13:14 PM EST

I'd expect better.

From FoxNews? Bill's right-wing vomit is par for the course on that station.

[ Parent ]

Agreed. (3.50 / 2) (#128)
by Christopher on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:42:07 PM EST

I'm not sure it's par for the course, but Fox News certainly has a conservative tilt to it. O'Reilly gets off on being Mr. Conservative. It's his market niche.

I actually enjoy watching the show to see the verbal beating that his guests take. They try to debate with him, but he really is just there to tell them how wrong (and stupid) they are, then go to commercial.

_______________________________
more and more to do, less and less to prove
[ Parent ]

Not as if O'Reilly is a thinking man... (3.00 / 2) (#192)
by slur on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 11:39:12 PM EST

I've seen a couple of the man's interviews, and he's about half a step removed from a barking dog. I've met folks like him, of course. Some time ago he made a strong decision to be a certain way, and his thinking became totally determined from that point forward. But his brand of dualism is pretty much a defining characteristic of his dying generation.


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[ Parent ]
Occupation of trolling (none / 0) (#216)
by Silent Chris on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 01:32:40 AM EST

You've got to understand: the Fox News guy (I've seen one or two bits of his show -- that was enough), has the occupation of trolling.  Literally, his job is to stir the pot, playing Devil's Advocate.  Of course, he does it to the extreme, but I admit I do it sometimes too.  

It's analogous to a writer writing a murder mystery, in a way.  Does that writer take an active interest in murder?  Maybe.  Does that writer believe murder is right?  Doubtful.  Sometimes you argue the complete opposite viewpoint just to get the other person to accidently go with your case (or, in some cases, dig themselves a hole by reacting in a positive manner, stupidly, to what you just said).

Yeah, the guy is a jerk, but unfortunately we need jerks in a conversation like this.  It doesn't matter -- I can't imagine this lasting 2 minutes in a real court anyway.

[ Parent ]

Bill O'Reilly is an offensive fool (4.65 / 23) (#25)
by Lord of the Wasteland on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:47:58 PM EST

First, I find his comparison of the Qu'ran to Mein Kampf odious. The same goes for his designation of Islam as "our enemy's religion".

However, setting aside all that, his point remains idiotic. It would have been an excellent idea to have people read Mein Kampf in 1941. It would have been even better to have them read it 1937. Studying something is not the same as endorsing it.

Did you even see the show in which he said that (none / 0) (#159)
by bonchbonch on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 09:40:30 PM EST

Well, he didn't compare the Qu'ran to Mein Kampf; at least I didn't feel he did and he followed up stating so.  He even poked fun at the websites saying he did on his show yesterday.  A point he raised:  If the college required a freshman reading of a similiar book about the Christian Bible, people would be up in arms.  In fact, I can see the K5 article now; this place seems predictably left-wing sometimes. ;-) Just my personal opinion.

[ Parent ]
Teaching Mein Kamph might have done some good. (4.54 / 24) (#27)
by mingofmongo on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:51:01 PM EST

Hitler did spell out most everything he was going to do in that book. There's something to be said about knowing your enemy.

Not that Islam is our enemy. There's nothing in the Koran to support all the recent crap. Fundamentalism is our enemy. And I'd say that fundamentalist Christians are more dangerous to the US, becaust they live mostly in the US.

Fundamentalism is the delusion that some 'golden age' existed in the past that we must 'get back to'. This isn't backed up by history or religious texts, for Christanity or Islam.

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion

Teaching and analyzing (4.00 / 8) (#47)
by Stereo on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 04:39:48 PM EST

There's a difference between teaching Mein Kampf and analyzing it, and the distinction has to be made clear. What O'Reilly doesn't understand is that these stidents are going to gain insight into the muslim world, just like my grandfather understood he shouldn't follow the crowd when he read Mein Kampf in the late 1930's (although I am in no way comparing Hitler's book to the Quran)


kuro5hin - Artes technicae et humaniores, a fossis


[ Parent ]
why is this getting moderated down? (4.50 / 2) (#91)
by Stereo on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:52:26 PM EST

Maybe I should mention my grandfather lived in Luxembourg, which traditionally gets invaded first by Germany every time these guys start world wars :). He joined the resistance and hid people instead of joining the Volksbewegung, for which he got kicked out of university (literally). He finished his studies in Paris after the war, and this is where he met my grandmother :)

kuro5hin - Artes technicae et humaniores, a fossis


[ Parent ]
I see you've gotten your talking points. (2.50 / 6) (#58)
by DigitalRover on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 05:17:48 PM EST

From the BBC:
One newspaper, al-Watan, said Christian fundamentalism was no less dangerous to international peace and security than other forms of religious extremism.

But for an explanation of the utter ridiculousness of the claim, I'll have to turn to the Wall Street Journal:

"The Saudi press has launched a vitriolic attack on what it describes as Christian fundamentalism in the United States," the BBC reports. "One newspaper, al-Watan, said Christian fundamentalism was no less dangerous to international peace and security than other forms of religious extremism."

Hmm, they must be referring to that incident in which a score of fundamentalist Christian hijackers took over several Saudi Arabian Airways jets and crashed them into Riyadh's biggest buildings. Oh wait, sorry. Those were American planes; it was New York, not Riyadh, and the hijackers were Muslims. Most of them were Saudis.

Maybe the Saudis are talking about that attack today in Pakistan. Grenade-wielding fundamentalist Christians burst into a Muslim hospital and blew up three nurses. That's pretty dangerous, all right.

Damn! Sorry, but we got it wrong again. Actually, those were Muslims who blew up the nurses, and it was a Christian hospital.

OK, one more try. Perhaps the Saudis have in mind the Pittsburgh-based Christian magazine called The Straight Path that has published articles calling for "holy war." In case you're not on to our little joke by now, TSP is an Arabic-language Muslim rag. (It really is published in Pittsburgh, though.)

So just what is it that the Saudis are worried about? Attacks on American abortion clinics?

Hopefully, our crack force of airport security screeners will keep you from boarding any planes.


[ Parent ]

Were you born that way (3.28 / 7) (#106)
by rigorist on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:15:25 PM EST

or did your parents just drop you on your head a lot as a small child?

Have you checked out the security fences they have to install at women's health clinics lately? Have you read the apocalyptic death fantasies that Tim LaHaye cranks out? Have you read the little apocalypse in Matthew?

Guess not.

[ Parent ]

When was the last abortion clinic bombing? (5.00 / 1) (#307)
by DigitalRover on Mon Aug 12, 2002 at 04:39:38 PM EST

That's really just a straw man attack on my post (and the Editors of the Opinion Journal's Best of the Web). Not once did you question the validity of the point being made: the fact that the Saudis are trying to deflect attention away from the extremism that pervades their country.



And btw, No, but I did find your juvenile tone amusing. You should post more once you get out of middle school.

[ Parent ]
Hijacking an airplane is really only necessary... (3.20 / 5) (#137)
by spcmanspiff on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:56:28 PM EST

If you can't get those in power to pay attention to you any other way.

Since, in the US, christian fundamentalists are those in power (to a reasonable extent, anyway), there's no real need to do anything drastic.

 

[ Parent ]

So are you condoning the murder of innocents? (5.00 / 1) (#306)
by DigitalRover on Mon Aug 12, 2002 at 04:33:02 PM EST

I think it was Reuters that instructed their reporters to remember that "one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter." When you target civilians you cease to be a party to political change and become nothing more than a murderer that should be eliminated.

[ Parent ]
Since when did explaining == condoning? (none / 0) (#322)
by spcmanspiff on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 12:14:13 PM EST

You seem to feel that providing any sort of rationale for terrorist activities is the same thing as handing out moral justification.

Excuse me. I guess they just do it because they're EEEEEEeevil! Evil down to their black hearts and little pinky toes!

Don't be a fool; there are very good reasons, whether we agree or disagree with them, that people hate America. Maybe if we understood that we'd be able to forestall further terrorism... or is that too much to expect of ourselves?

Also, you're just a bit blanket-statement there about targeting civilians. What about Dresden? Hiroshima? Some of Israel's heavy-handed responses to Palestinian suicide bombers?

As far as whether the religious right could become a terrorist threat, I don't think the will, but only because they have so much sway within the establishment. In areas where they don't (abortion, say, or "the evils of government") there are numerous examples of terrorist tendencies.

Finally, yes, of course the Saudis are using it to deflect attention from their own problems, but that doesn't mean they don't have a point: Intolerant religious extremism = bad, mmkay?

An interesting side issue is to examine the causes behind the rise of fundamentalism in Saudi Arabia... it could be argued that it is rising in response to the heavy-handed dictatorship of the House of Saud, our close and well-supported allies. Iran provides a good historical parallel.

Maybe if we paid more than lip service to our values of democracy, things wouldn't be such a mess down there.

Or, maybe they're just all evil.

 

[ Parent ]

When explaining *is* condoning (5.00 / 1) (#324)
by DigitalRover on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 04:08:41 PM EST

Most (not all) who would "explain" the actions of terrorists do so in the context of explaining away their actions. People do not kill and destroy you because they hate you and all that you stand for, but because they are impoverished and lacking a "voice." That, my friend, is utter rubbish.

To take that line of logic is to end up trapped in moral relativism where everyone's motivations are "equally" good. Fortunately, there are those who recognize that evil does in fact exist in the world and in the heart's of humans across the globe.

The proper response to wholesale violence on the level of the killers of September 11 is not appeasement. All that does is reinforce the notion that their aims (the destruction of the Jewish people along with their allies in the West) are attainable via violence. Rather, the correct response is punishment just as if those who seek to do us harm were abherrant five year olds: Inflict pain or isolation.

In the case of Afghanistan, we chose the former route. The rulers were ousted and disposed of, both literally and figuratively. In Saudi Arabia, I believe we need to take the route of isolation. Pull out all financial supports for the dictatorships of the Middle East both at the governmental and the commercial level. Look to Russia, Canada, Alaska, etc. for our energy sources and stop pouring wealth into the coffers of anachronistic misogynists who hate freedom, women, and 'infidels.' Of course, we'd need Europe to toe the line and behave properly for a change, so this is pretty much a pipe dream.

Moving right along ... Religious fundamentalism is not a bad thing. It may be fearsome to those who are so afraid of appearing somehow weak intellectually or offending someone with notions of right and wrong, but as long as it doesn't affect another individuals rights there is nothing wrong with it. You can be cutesy and say "Intolerant religious extremism = bad, mmkay? " and be intolerant in your own way and I won't fault you for it. After all, it doesn't impinge upon my rights. It annoys me. It shows how close-minded the 'open-minded' really are. At the end of the day it doesn't affect me one iota.

Finally, there are those who have fallen for the Saudi government's ploy, both within the US government and here on kuro5hin. They're focusing on the 'threat' of Christian fundamentalism while completely ignoring the atrocities commmited by Saudi Arabian citizens both within their borders and in the world at large. Everyone that participates in this thread is one of those people.

[ Parent ]
*sigh* (none / 0) (#325)
by spcmanspiff on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 05:30:50 PM EST

People do not kill and destroy you because they hate you and all that you stand for, but because they are impoverished and lacking a "voice."

No, that's not what I said. These individuals kill and destroy because of hate, sure -- I don't necessarily disagree with you.

But why do they hate? You fall back to "EEEEEeeevil" without even considering a single realistic rationale.

I guess it's because you're afraid of "Moral Relativism" -- as if trying to understand something from an alternative point of view automatically validates it.

By the way, I'm glad I'm not your five-year-old. Pain and isolation are useless on their own, and learning doesn't happen solely through negative reinforcment. Related prediction: Afghanistan will backslide into terrorist-producing chaos without a long-term supply of steady aid.

Moving right along ... Religious fundamentalism is not a bad thing. It may be fearsome to those who are so afraid of appearing somehow weak intellectually or offending someone with notions of right and wrong, but as long as it doesn't affect another individuals rights there is nothing wrong with it.

You seem to have missed the word 'Intolerant' in front of the phrase 'religious fundamentalism.' I have family and friends who are extremely devout people and I have nothing against them or their beliefs. But violent crusades against abortion clinics, government, homosexuals, etc., -- or jihads against Americans -- are both morally intolerable and extremely dangerous.

A small minority of Americans are actively engaged in these types of crusades -- or do you disagree?

Back to Saudi Arabia:
Unfortunately, your pipe dream would never happen, but not because of Europe. The US is extremely buddy-buddy with Saudi Arabia -- that's where we get our oil. We have standing US troops in Saudi Arabia providing a "stabilizing force" and protecting them from invasion. (During the Gulf War, Saudi Arabia was next in line behind Kuwait.) We regularly issue proclamations about how they're our best friends and allies in the region.

A fun bit of history: Osama Bin Laden got his start in terror working to overthrow what he saw as the extremely corrupt Saudi ruling family... he didn't issue his fatwah against Americans until the US opened bases during the Gulf war and kept them open, throwing our full support behind the Saudi dictatorship.

Funny how these things come together, isn't it?

Of course, now you'll write me off as a supporter of Osama Bin Laden and a hater of America because I'm trying to take the time to understand the historical reasons behind Islamic terror -- too bad for me, I guess. Even worse if I were to point out that US actions are behind many of these reasons; after all, that means I must be 100% on the side of those who fly planes into buildings, no?

 

[ Parent ]

*DoubleSigh* (1.00 / 1) (#326)
by DigitalRover on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 07:12:06 PM EST

We could have a whole discourse on the motivations of the terrorists. Others already have. At this point in the game, it's really just mental masturbation. It feels good, but when it's over that satisfied feeling is kind of hollow. Just for fun though, we can throw out a couple of ideas:
  • The Western support for the state of Israel in the face of Arabic anti-semitism
  • The US Defense of Saudi Arabia when it couldn't defend itself
  • The strongly ingrained Arabic desire to retain lost cultural dominance of the world
It's not that I haven't considered the *possible* reasons for the Arabs' hatred of the West, it's that I didn't spell them out for you specifically in this thread. Some people do get tired of repeating themselves over and over constantly. The rest are trusted users.

I guess it's because you're afraid of "Moral Relativism" -- as if trying to understand something from an alternative point of view automatically validates it.

That's exactly it and completely wrong at the same time. But, you did make a good showing of attempting to twist what I said to fit into some sort of sarcastic dismissal of the argument. Again, moral relativism is another topic on which those much smarter than I have expounded upon at length. Suffice it to say, when a frame of reference by which to judge the actions of others and yourself is lost then you have also lost the ability to reason and think rationally. It is an essentially irrational stance that rejects the notion of any sort of truth (big T or little t). However, when the attempt to "understand" something is approached in such a way as to justify it, as is the case with the current attempts to push Islam at UNC, then it is no longer an attempt to understand.

By the way, I'm glad I'm not your five-year-old. Pain and isolation are useless on their own, and learning doesn't happen solely through negative reinforcment. Related prediction: Afghanistan will backslide into terrorist-producing chaos without a long-term supply of steady aid.

With a child, punishment alone will not solve behavioural problems. But, when my sister makes my two year old nephew stand in the corner for two minutes and repeats "You do not hit your brother," the lesson sinks in. By itself, the punishment would be useless as would the instruciton. However when you are dealing with governments, mobs, or other amoral groups no instruction beyond "Do not attempt to harm us," is possible. Really, "inflicting pain" does not go far enough. To truly eliminate the threat of further violence those who perpetrate violence must be eliminated. This isn't a course to be taken likely, as once you have started down that path there is no turning back and there is no way to turn things back around.

Prediction: The US will continue to support Afghanistan much the same as it supported and rebuilt Japan and Germany after WWII. The country should be rebuilt and the people given a chance to lead themselves. $Deity knows that the Middle East needs at least one Arab democracy.

You seem to have missed the word 'Intolerant' in front of the phrase 'religious fundamentalism.' I have family and friends who are extremely devout people and I have nothing against them or their beliefs. But violent crusades against abortion clinics, government, homosexuals, etc., -- or jihads against Americans -- are both morally intolerable and extremely dangerous.

A small minority of Americans are actively engaged in these types of crusades -- or do you disagree?


Sophomoric nit-picking aside, it does seem that we agree on this point. The explanation was for the benefit of the hoardes of anti-religious memebers of K5.

As I said in another thread, when was the last abortion clinic bombing in the US? When did you hear about a new crusade against homosexuals? The violence of the late nineties in the US was (fortunately) a passing fad within the fringes of the fringe groups. It is not a deeply ingrained cultural dogma. It is not a war that has been actively carried out by one religious group against the rest of the world for the last twenty years and culminating in the intentional murder of several thousand innocent civilians.

Back to Saudi Arabia: Unfortunately, your pipe dream would never happen, but not because of Europe. The US is extremely buddy-buddy with Saudi Arabia -- that's where we get our oil. We have standing US troops in Saudi Arabia providing a "stabilizing force" and protecting them from invasion. (During the Gulf War, Saudi Arabia was next in line behind Kuwait.) We regularly issue proclamations about how they're our best friends and allies in the region.

A fun bit of history: Osama Bin Laden got his start in terror working to overthrow what he saw as the extremely corrupt Saudi ruling family... he didn't issue his fatwah against Americans until the US opened bases during the Gulf war and kept them open, throwing our full support behind the Saudi dictatorship.


You seem to miss my call for a fundamental sea change in regards to US foreign and economic policy in the Middle East. We'll write that bit off as an honest mistake on your part in your haste to demonstrate your encyclopedic knowledge of the Gulf War. As the report issued to the Pentagon stated, Saudi Arabia is our most dangerous enemy in the Middle East.

bin Laden, like other powerful Arabs in Saudi Arabia was most opposed to the rule of the House of Saud because it wasn't the rule of the Hous of bin Laden. While the masses of the Middle East may be manipulated by their cultural hatred of the West and Israel, those pulling the strings seek only to feed their own lust for power. By removing the source of that power, oil and the money derived from its sale, the US could do more towards dismantling islamic terror networks than if it successfully conquered Iraq and deposed Hussein.

Of course, now you'll write me off as a supporter of Osama Bin Laden and a hater of America because I'm trying to take the time to understand the historical reasons behind Islamic terror -- too bad for me, I guess. Even worse if I were to point out that US actions are behind many of these reasons; after all, that means I must be 100% on the side of those who fly planes into buildings, no?

Coming full circle, you'll note that the original poster's point was a perfect mimic of the official Saudi line and was delivered only hours after the BBC reported the story. Coincidence? I wouldn't have expected you to notice this though. You were too busy trying to make incorrect assumptions about my opinions and worldview.

Your use of sarcasm is clever, but I have one suggestion: Subtlety. Beating someone about the head with it detracts from the actual weight. Someone who requires that much is an idiot.

[ Parent ]
Moral Relativism and other things (none / 0) (#330)
by spcmanspiff on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 11:07:46 AM EST

Truth is less useful than you believe -- an example: With truth alone you'll never be able to tell manslaughter from murder, since the defining difference is mainly your highly subjective interpretation of the killer's  motives. That's about as far from "truth" as you can get, but your moral judgement hinges on it.

Moral absolutism is a pretty tough thing to pull off. Most people crying out that going after civilians is always wrong feel that the US was justified in dropping nuclear bombs in Japan or in the "saturation bombing" campaigns in Europe during WWII.

Suffice it to say, when a frame of reference by which to judge the actions of others and yourself is lost then you have also lost the ability to reason and think rationally. It is an essentially irrational stance that rejects the notion of any sort of truth (big T or little t).

Sounds nice, but it's full of holes:

  • Where do you get this vaunted "frame of reference," anyway?
  • Since when was the ability to morally judge something a prerequisite for 'reason?' A moral compass isn't needed to do math, or physics, or to predict the behavior of others, etc etc. You seem to be working with some definition of 'rational' that includes morality a priori.
  • Since when is it essentially irrational to reject the notion of any sort of truth? Many post-enlighenment philosophers came to this rejection via the classical processes of reason. Just because you disagree with their conclusion doesn't mean it wasn't thoroughly reasoned out.  Even mathematicians have rejected the notion of absolute truth for the most part.
As I said in another thread, when was the last abortion clinic bombing in the US? When did you hear about a new crusade against homosexuals? The violence of the late nineties in the US was (fortunately) a passing fad within the fringes of the fringe groups.

My point a few posts ago was about why this extremism hasn't (yet) taken the form of terrorism, although the potential is there. If there were no other way to work against homosexuality/abortion/etc etc, we would see terror attacks. However, these people have plenty of power via other outlets to pursue their agendas. Thus, no terror.

Someone who requires that much is an idiot.

extremely subtle cough

Yeah, cheap shot, I know.

 

[ Parent ]

Sacred texts (3.50 / 6) (#59)
by Torako on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 05:17:50 PM EST

I agree that fundamentalism is the main problem, but I'm afraid I don't understand how you can believe that the Christians' and Muslims' sacred texts don't back up those fundamentalists.

Fundamentalism is about "going back to the foundations", that is taking the texts literally. The Bible and the Qu'ran *do* tell people to do a lot of things that are not acceptable. Both Christianity and Islam include those insane parts and I think it should be our main concern neither to be thinking in terms of "The Islam is our enemy" nor in terms of "The Islam is all misunderstood". The truth is somewhere in between, both for the Islam and Christianity. A sane consequence should be, IMHO, to stop associating religion with the entire terrorist issue at all; it is used in a way to black-or-white-ish kind of way. On both sides.

[ Parent ]

You're right (3.66 / 3) (#78)
by Caton on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:27:25 PM EST

Mein Kampf stated exactly what Hitler would do... and did. But let me ask you one question. you say

There's nothing in the Koran to support all the recent crap.
Did you read the Quran?

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
Quran (4.75 / 4) (#130)
by Ronniec95 on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:48:36 PM EST

I have read the Quran (being muslim myself). Well a few English translations anyway. And if you care to do so 'fundamentalist' muslims tend to use the set of books called the 'hadith' and not the Quran to back up their beliefs. If they do quote Quran they will usually quote a single verse out of context but the 'western' media will seize on it and blow it out of proportion.

Please understand the difference between a muslim fundamentalist (ie one who only follows Quran) as opposed to a 'muslim fundamentalist' as used by media outlets to mean a set of people intent on destroying 'western values'. They are different people and different views.

Also to a previous poster. Go visit UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Malyasia, Oman to see how advanced islamic culture really is. Most USians I know who lived/worked there dont want to go back to the US!

[ Parent ]

The Koran (4.83 / 6) (#143)
by Simon Kinahan on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 08:15:31 PM EST

No offense intended, but the Koran is very hard to understand without the Hadith, or someone already well-educated in Islam to explain the interpretation. Some interesting evidence has come to light recently that seems to show early versions of the Koran to be quite different to its modern form, and apparently set down by semi-literate people. The organisation is extremely inscrutable, being arranged by the length of the "verses" rather than by topic or chronologically.

Even with the Hadith, there is a lot of Muslim scripture that seems to support the fundamentalists, and a lot that seems to support a more liberal position. For example, there are passages in the Hadith that imply that in Mohammed's time women went to Friday prayers with their husbands.

Being a muslim fundamentalist seems very like being a christian fundamentalist: they're really looking back at an idealised view of how things were in the past, and taking those parts of scripture that support the perspective, while ignoring those parts that contradict it.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

Next step (none / 0) (#151)
by Caton on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 08:54:30 PM EST

When I'm finished with the Quran, I'll read the Hadith. I did read it in French, but I've been told that the translation is not faithful and that's why I didn't understand.

---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
The Koran (5.00 / 1) (#228)
by Ronniec95 on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 05:11:30 AM EST

I think it would be a good idea to have an article on Islam at some point just to explain what is in the Deen* and what is from culture. This should clear up a lot of misconceptions!

Just FYI, Quran is word of God/Allah. It contains very few hard rules, mainly guidelines for creating a good society.

Hadith are written by people in relation to what they think they saw/heard Mohammed and/or people close to him doing. Given that people almost always have internal biases, political pressure etc, I'm rather sceptical of the validity of this set of rules. There is a 'science' of determining valid hadith from weaker ones, but that to me is somewhat unverifiable.

Anyway a lot of the rules that people/media quote as being from the Quran are in fact from hadith and/or cultural behaviour. If you can separate the two then you will see how beautiful the religion can be.

FYI: Some examples "Stoning for adultery" appears in no Quranic text; but apparently was a christian/jewish activity in the region before islam. It is in the hadith. "Veil covering hair" appears not to be specified explicitly in the quran though the jury is still out on this. Some believe that is was during the crusades that this practice came into effect to identify muslims from christians/jews in Jerusalem.

*Deen - way of life - not religion!

[ Parent ]

Article on Islam (2.00 / 1) (#231)
by Simon Kinahan on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 05:59:50 AM EST

Good idea. Go for it.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
So you did? (3.66 / 3) (#150)
by Caton on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 08:52:58 PM EST

Salaam aleykum. It is a change, reading someone who actually did read the text he's talking about. I think the original poster did not read the Quran. And I wonder how he knows there's nothing in it that supports all the recent crap.

I did read the Quran, too, first in French, then English, and I am trying to read it in Arabic right now. It's very difficult, even with the help of a friend who knows Arab very well - I'm at Surat 5 right now, and it took two months. It sure helped to clear some questions. But I still have a few questions on the first 4 Surats that you, as a Muslim, can surely answer to - my friend is Jewish, not Muslim. I'll quote the Quran in English: I have no idea how to post arabic, and I think most readers don't read arabic anyway.

Surat 1 - Verse 7 says:

The way of those on whom you have bestowed your grace, not the way of those who earned your anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians).
Question: how did the Jews earn the anger of God, and how did the Christians go astray?

Surat 2 - Verses 23 & 24 seem to preach lapidating non Muslims. Where did I misunderstood?

Surat 2 - Verse 193 says:

And fight them until there is no more Fitnah1 and [all and every kind of] worship is for Allah [alone]. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun2.
Does this advocate forced conversions?

Surat 2 - Verse 216 says:

Jihad is ordained for you [Muslims] though you dislike it, and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allâh knows but you do not know.
Does this advocate religious war?

Surat 3 - Verse 28 says:

Let not the believers take the disbelievers as auliya3 (supporters, helpers, etc.) instead of the believers, and whoever does that will never be helped by Allah in any way, except if you indeed fear a danger from them. And Allah warns you against [his punishment], and to Allah is the final return.
This clearly advocates religious preference in employment. Isn't it wrong?

Surat 4 - Verse 34 says:

Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend [to support them] from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient [to Allah and to their husbands], and guard in the husband's absence what Allah orders them to guard.
I understand that Islam states women are inferior to men. That is incompatible with the UN charter. How can an Islamic country seek and obtain UN membership? Does that mean all Islamic countries currently members of the UN are lying? Especially in the light of Surat 4, Verse 107, which says:
And argue not on behalf of those who deceive themselves. Verily, Allah does not like anyone who is a betrayer of his trust, and indulges in crime.
Thanks in advance for your answers.

---

  1. Fitnah = disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah.
  2. Az-Zalimun = the polytheists. Also, wrong-doers.
  3. Auliya = supporters, helpers, today employees in general.


---
As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
response (4.60 / 5) (#175)
by emad on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 10:38:37 PM EST

Disclaimer, I am in no way an Islamic scholar, but the following is my take on the questions you present. I hope this helps.

First, when reading any translation, be it of the Quran, The Count of Monte Cristo, or whatever, you need to keep in mind that any translation must necessarily be 1/3 transliteration to 2/3 interpretation. It isnt an exact meaning and is subject to the translators own views, mistakes and etc.

Text from your comment has been put into italics.

Surat 1 - Verse 7 says:
The way of those on whom you have bestowed your grace, not the way of those who earned your anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians).
Question: how did the Jews earn the anger of God, and how did the Christians go astray?

In this particular Verse, and in fact, in this Sura, there is no mention of Christians or Jews in the Arabic version. For some reason I am unaware of, the translator placed the text in parenthesis on his own.

Surat 2 - Verses 23 & 24 seem to preach lapidating non Muslims. Where did I misunderstood?  
Well, lets look at an english translation of the verses. I went to the trouble of hunting down what I presume you are working from located at http://www.unn.ac.uk/societies/islamic/quran/naeindex.htm which itself states that it is a "rough translation." This is not an endorsement of this particular translation, I'd just prefer to reference your sources.

At any rate, verse 23 says:

And if you (Arab pagans, Jews, and Christians) are in doubt concerning that which We have sent down (i.e. the Qur'ân) to Our slave (Muhammad Peace be upon him ), then produce a Sûrah (chapter) of the like thereof and call your witnesses (supporters and helpers) besides Allâh, if you are truthful.

I see nothing concerning the "lapidating" of non-muslims. Lets move on to verse 24:


"But if you do it not, and you can never do it, then fear the Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers."

Again, I fail to see anything that suggests Muslims should stone non-Muslims.

Surat 2 - Verse 193 says:
And fight them until there is no more Fitnah and [all and every kind of] worship is for Allah [alone]. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun.
Does this advocate forced conversions?

Ok, First I suggest you read the 2-3 verses directly above this verse. As it stands you seem to be only reading this verse and taking it completely out of context. Second, and most importantly, I have to take issue with your outright mistranslation of the word "Fitnah". You claim it means "   1.  Fitnah = disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah." yet it means no such thing. Please read the term as defined in this glossary: http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/reference/glossary/term.FITNAH.html. "Fitnah means civil strife, war, riots."  I don't understand how you came to find your very incorrect translation of the word Fitnah.

Surat 2 - Verse 216 says:
Jihad is ordained for you [Muslims] though you dislike it, and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allâh knows but you do not know.
Does this advocate religious war?

Jihad, whether you believe it means religious war or the more literal (and correct) translation of struggle, does not mean a war just for the sake of fighting with other religions. Jihad (in the context of a war) is mandatory when Muslims in your region are under attack or oppressed. You are then required to assist these people who share your faith. Many papers, op-eds, etc have been written about Jihad and I suggest you clarify your understanding of it. As it stands, I feel this verse advocates both forms of Jihad, but not the vague notion of "religious war" that you seem to think it means.

Surat 3 - Verse 28 says:
Let not the believers take the disbelievers as auliya (supporters, helpers, etc.) instead of the believers, and whoever does that will never be helped by Allah in any way, except if you indeed fear a danger from them. And Allah warns you against [his punishment], and to Allah is the final return. This clearly advocates religious preference in employment. Isn't it wrong?

In this verse, it is important to understand Auliya are people who help by protecting, and are not in any sense of the word "employees".  Basically this verse tells Muslims not to rely on non-Muslims for their protection and to instead make it a point to provide for your own protection. Does this mean Muslim states cannot have military allies? That I am not sure of. I feel that allies might be allowed but not at the expense of only relying on these allies for protection. For instance, a mutual protection pact would be OK, but don't disband your army because you think country X will always protect you.


Surat 4 - Verse 34 says:
Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend [to support them] from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient [to Allah and to their husbands], and guard in the husband's absence what Allah orders them to guard. I understand that Islam states women are inferior to men.

The word that in this translation has been translated to mean "excel" is used in the context of "excelling in strength". It just states that Males of this species are predisposed to be stronger than women. Do you take issue with that? Even if you do, you must agree that this does not endorse or state that women are inferior to men, except in the instance of strength. Here in the USA, only men are required to register for the selective service, I feel the same reasoning may have been used to justify both.

As such, this makes your comment about the UN moot.

[ Parent ]

great post [nt] (none / 0) (#275)
by ceejayoz on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 03:19:06 AM EST



[ Parent ]
The FPN gives me the creeps (2.25 / 8) (#28)
by skim123 on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:54:34 PM EST

From their site:

FPN's Prayer Team is made up of dedicated intercessors who pray for the nation and the work of the organization on a regular basis. Several times each year, Prayer Team members in several states receive updates on FPN's work, with special prayer requests for for that particular time. These intercessors pray for FPN's leaders by name, seek God's wisdom on behalf of its Directors, ask God for His will to be done in the halls of government, and pray for revival throughout the nation and the world.

And if that's not bad enough one of their mission statements is to "discouraging the distribution of 'legal' retail pornography." Without porn, I'd be forced to fantisize about God when masturbating. Is that what they want? I hope their "discouraging" is in the form of praying to God only, and not in lobbying, telling their members to boycott, etc.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


what's wrong with telling their members to boycott (4.66 / 3) (#29)
by aphrael on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 03:59:30 PM EST

if they decide they don't want to give their money to people who sell porn, what does it matter to you? The worst that happens is porn gets segregated off into porn-only stores that these people don't frequent, and doesn't appear in the kinds of stores that they would frequent. That doesn't strike me as being a problem.

[ Parent ]
It defeats the whole premise, IMHO (4.66 / 3) (#90)
by skim123 on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:52:04 PM EST

If you're going to be a right-wing, fundamentalist Christian, fine, it's your life, do what you want. What annoys me is when people decide to take that path but lack the self control. If you are a fundie Christian, aren't you already boycotting porn? I mean, if you aren't, you're being quite the hypocrite, no? And if you do, fine, that's cool with me, but now because some people tell you to boycott it you're going to stop buying? That just smacks of weak-minded following. Make up your mind, if you want to be a God-fearing Christian do it, and do it on your own terms. Don't look to some organization to tell you how to live your life.

That's the problem I have with a boycott. It makes those who participate in it look hypocritical.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
nuts to you (4.00 / 1) (#162)
by adequate nathan on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 09:45:09 PM EST

Lots of people want to be good but lack the strength to overcome absolutely all of the faults on their own. Hence part of the rationale for the existence of religious communities - you never have to walk alone. Why shouldn't religious leaders tell their members to boycott porn? Why does this bother you so much?

Your criticism of people incapable of total self-control is probably pretty hypocritical of you, come to that.

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
[ Parent ]

Bollocks (5.00 / 1) (#213)
by Irobot on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 01:15:19 AM EST

You say:
Why shouldn't religious leaders tell their members to boycott porn?
but the statement was:
one of their mission statements is to "discouraging the distribution of 'legal' retail pornography."
It's not just their members they're discouraging; it's everyone.

And, though I like your point about self-control, he never actually claimed to have any himself...

Irobot

The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking one's self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous. -- Margot Fonteyn
[ Parent ]

Morality (none / 0) (#227)
by dave114 on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 04:33:00 AM EST

It's not just their members they're discouraging; it's everyone.

Uh... so? Welcome to the idea of absolute morality. If they believe that something has absolute boundaries, not relative ones, then why should they then not suggest that everyone hold to such boundaries?

Organizations like the PETA hold that animals have certain rights. I'll have to state that I disagree with some of the methods by which they put forth their ideas and also disagree with the extent to which they take things. There are also pro-life (AKA anti-abortion) activists. They believe that the unborn possess the right to life. I personally side with these people on this matter, but some have also taken these ideas too far (eg. the shooting of Bernard Slepian).

[ Parent ]

You missed the argument (none / 0) (#238)
by Irobot on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 10:38:16 AM EST

You say:
Uh... so? Welcome to the idea of absolute morality. If they believe that something has absolute boundaries, not relative ones, then why should they then not suggest that everyone hold to such boundaries?
but that misses the point adequate nathan was criticizing and to which I was responding. See, the original point by skim123 was:
What annoys me is when people decide to take that path but lack the self control. If you are a fundie Christian, aren't you already boycotting porn?
to which adequate nathan responded:
Lots of people want to be good but lack the strength to overcome absolutely all of the faults on their own. Hence part of the rationale for the existence of religious communities - you never have to walk alone.
Hence, my point about them pushing their values on everyone. Your (snide) point about absolute morality is misplaced here; my criticism was in pointing out that adequate nathan missed the argument, as did you.

Now, if you'd care to debate absolute morality, it's a whole different thread. However, you don't seem wont to do that, as you hedge your support of both PETA and anti-abortionists. Besides, I doubt I'd want to take part in that debate, as people who believe in absolute morality generally can't hold a rational conversation to begin with.

Irobot

The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking one's self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous. -- Margot Fonteyn
[ Parent ]

I think you are missing the issue (none / 0) (#261)
by jjayson on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 08:09:15 PM EST

The issue is not a question of absolte versus relative morality. If we concede that we want to live in a world of moral relativism, then everybody does what they consider is moral. There are some people who will believe that morals are absolute. According to the relativists beliefs, these absolutists should live life according to their standards of morality just as much as anybody else would.

The moral absolutist sees pornography as immoral. He also see that he has a duty to help others live a moral life, trying to extinguishing immorality. There could be numerous reasons for this. The moral relativist has to allow the moral absolutists to push his ethics and become incensed when people reject them, because this is what it right for him. By being a moral relativist you have to allow for this behavior. It is one of the problems that moral relativists face when trying to tells others to stop pushing their views on others: the relativist should not say anything because everybody is to determine their own morality, but the absolutists should since that is what is right for him. Doesn't it suck how that works out?

-j
"It's text. It's mostly anonymous. It pretends to be diverse. It steals little boys' innocence. It's the Internet. I'm a 12 year old Asian girl from
[ Parent ]

No, I got the issue (4.00 / 1) (#267)
by Irobot on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 12:18:30 AM EST

I can agree with almost everything you said - except that I missed the issue. Here it is, step by step:
skim123: "And if that's not bad enough one of their mission statements is to "discouraging the distribution of 'legal' retail pornography."

aphrael: if they decide they don't want to give their money to people who sell porn, what does it matter to you?

skim123: If you're going to be a right-wing, fundamentalist Christian, fine, it's your life, do what you want. What annoys me is when people decide to take that path but lack the self control. If you are a fundie Christian, aren't you already boycotting porn?...Make up your mind, if you want to be a God-fearing Christian do it, and do it on your own terms...That's the problem I have with a boycott.

adequate nathan: Why shouldn't religious leaders tell their members to boycott porn?

This is where the problem is. The issue I was responding to was "leaders tell their members to boycott." The matter of "legal porn" was not being applied to everyone, just to members of the congregation. Yes, you're correct in the fact that some people who believe in absolute morality feel that it's their duty to push it on others. Yes, it sucks that it works out that way. But that wasn't what adequate nathan said. The fact that he mentioned "members" indicates that it wasn't an application of absolute morality of the pervasive nature that dave114 implied.

<rant mode>
Absolute morality. Bah. I'd go so far as to say that those who believe in absolute morality are being willfully ignorant. To actually believe that a single set of rules apply across all times and cultures indicates either a blinding megalomania or a smallness of mind that truly frightens me. If morality is absolute, there must be some set of rules that can be applied in every case to tell us exactly what the "moral" action is. As if a simple case statement algorithm that takes into account all the factors that might be involved in a "moral" question could actually do justice to the complexity involved. It's so simplistic as to be laughable. Which is why I won't engage in a discussion with them - it's not my duty to bring them kicking and screaming out of the darkness of the Platonic cave in which they're so happily ensconced.

Of course, I suppose another reason for believing in an "absolute morality" might just be intellectual laziness of the "Oh, it makes my head hurt" variety. (The "man can't know the mind of god" argument comes in here also. Which is nothing more than a lame excuse for avoiding thinking about what is moral.) Choosing a "moral" path is difficult, keeping it internally consistent is worse. Actually living up to a consistent set of morals is an achievement to go in the annals of history. A moral relativist has every right to attempt to influence others as far as the first two are concerned; that's where discussion and argumentation comes in. For the third, each and every person is on their own.
</rant mode>

Irobot

The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking one's self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous. -- Margot Fonteyn
[ Parent ]

comment (none / 0) (#263)
by dave114 on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 11:01:38 PM EST

but that misses the point adequate nathan was criticizing and to which I was responding. See, the original point by skim123 was:
What annoys me is when people decide to take that path but lack the self control. If you are a fundie Christian, aren't you already boycotting porn?

In any case, in response to the argument that you claim you were solely responding to: Are you perfect? Have you ever made a mistake? Everyone makes mistakes and do things that they regret, but that doesn't mean that those things are not wrong, and that they should continue in doing them. Part of the Christian belief is this realization that we are all fallible.

Now, if you'd care to debate absolute morality, it's a whole different thread. However, you don't seem wont to do that, as you hedge your support of both PETA and anti-abortionists.

It didn't seem appropriate to discuss the issue of absolute morality in that response, but, for the record, I do believe in it.

As I stated I don't agree with the extent to which the PETA takes thing. I believe that animals deserve to be treated fairly, but I don't agree that they possess the same level of rights as human beings.

Concerning abortion, I believe it to be wrong. People have made the statement that it is necessary to abort a child in order to save a mother's life, however I have yet to see any evidence of any such situation. Admittedly childbirth involves a certain slight degree of risk, but so does abortion.

The manner in which you said I hedge my support of pro-life activists is merely the belief that two wrongs don't make a right. Despite the fact that I believe abortion to be wrong, this doesn't mean that I believe killing an abortionist is right.

[ Parent ]

What? (none / 0) (#268)
by Irobot on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 12:25:36 AM EST

In any case, in response to the argument that you claim you were solely responding to: Are you perfect? Have you ever made a mistake?
I'm speechless. Not so much because I have nothing to say, but because I think your train of thought left without you. What does my perfection (or lack thereof) have to do with anything? Ah, this just gets further and further from the point...

Anyway, as I mentioned, I refuse to get into a debate about absolute morality. I think I summed up my position in my response to jjayson, if you care. It's between the <rant mode> tags.

Irobot

The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking one's self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous. -- Margot Fonteyn
[ Parent ]

His issue is you calling hypocracy. (none / 0) (#270)
by jjayson on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 02:25:03 AM EST

'm speechless. Not so much because I have nothing to say, but because I think your train of thought left without you. What does my perfection (or lack thereof) have to do with anything? Ah, this just gets further and further from the point...
Your perfection specifically isn't the issue. adequate nathan's and dave124's issue is how you summerily dismiss these people's efforts at removing porn from shelves because they may have bought porn in the past (or even in an acknowledged moment of weakness yesterday). True hyprocracy would be for somebody to condem you for buying porn and, all else being equal, not think that it was bad for himself.

What annoys me is when people decide to take that path but lack the self control. If you are a fundie Christian, aren't you already boycotting porn? I mean, if you aren't, you're being quite the hypocrite, no?
This is only a call to bring it off of shelves. It it were to extend futher, then you might have a point. You might have a very strong point, since you would have Biblican support to wield against these Christian groups, John 8:2-11 (WEB)

2Now very early in the morning, he came again into the temple, and all the people came to him. He sat down, and taught them. 3The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman taken in adultery. Having set her in the midst, 4they told him, "Teacher, we found this woman in adultery, in the very act. 5Now in our law, Moses commanded us to stone such. What then do you say about her?" 6They said this testing him, that they might have something to accuse him of.

But Jesus stooped down, and wrote on the ground with his finger. 7But when they continued asking him, he looked up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her." 8Again he stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground.

9They, when they heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning from the oldest, even to the last. Jesus was left alone with the woman where she was, in the middle. 10Jesus, standing up, saw her and said, "Woman, where are your accusers? Did no one condemn you?"

11She said, "No one, Lord."

Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way. From now on, sin no more."

Matthew Henry has some interesting commentary in this passage that does support you:
[1.] The crime for which the prisoner stands indicted is no less than  adultery, which even in the patriarchal age, before the law of Moses,  was looked upon as an iniquity to be punished by the judges,   #Job xxxi. 9-11; Gen. xxxviii. 24|. The Pharisees, by their vigorous prosecution of this offender, seemed to have a great zeal against the sin, when it appeared afterwards that  they themselves were not free from it; nay, they were within full of  all uncleanness, #Matt. xxiii. 27, 28|. Note, It is common for those that are indulgent to their own sin to be severe against the sins of others.

...

Secondly, In the net which they spread is their own foot taken.  They came with design to accuse him, but they were forced to accuse  themselves. Christ owns it was fit the prisoner should be prosecuted,  but appeals to their consciences whether they were fit to be the  prosecutors.

...

       b. He builds upon an uncontested maxim in morality, that it is  very absurd for men to be zealous in punishing the offences of others,  while they are every whit as guilty themselves, and they are not better  than self-condemned who judge others, and yet themselves do the same  thing: "If there be any of you who is without sin, without sin  of this nature, that has not some time or other been guilty of  fornication or adultery, let him cast the first stone at her." Not that  magistrates, who are conscious of guilt themselves, should therefore  connive at others' guilt. But therefore,  (a.) Whenever we find fault with others, we ought to reflect  upon ourselves, and to be more severe against sin in ourselves than in  others.  (b.) We ought to be favourable, though not to the sins, yet to  the persons, of those that offend, and to restore them with a spirit  of meekness, considering ourselves and our own corrupt nature.



-j
"It's text. It's mostly anonymous. It pretends to be diverse. It steals little boys' innocence. It's the Internet. I'm a 12 year old Asian girl from
[ Parent ]
a little phrase (none / 0) (#271)
by dave114 on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 03:08:56 AM EST



[ Parent ]
oops... ignore that last post <nt> (none / 0) (#272)
by dave114 on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 03:09:25 AM EST



[ Parent ]
you seem to have missed a bit (none / 0) (#273)
by dave114 on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 03:13:16 AM EST

This is only a call to bring it off of shelves. It it were to extend futher, then you might have a point. You might have a very strong point, since you would have Biblican support to wield against these Christian groups, John 8:2-11 (WEB)

Where is the biblical support for that in your quotation? I see in here the principle of forgiveness in action, but this forgiveness does not condone the action. Note that Jesus says "From now on, sin no more." (ie. don't do it again... what you did was wrong).

[ Parent ]

Nobody said condone... (none / 0) (#278)
by jjayson on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 04:08:33 AM EST

There was no call to condone the actions. Jesus's challenge for those that wanted to take this woman's life for adultery, that they should first look at themselves and be more severe against sin in our own bodies, before looking to be sever against sin in someones else's body. Christ claims that it was fit to prosecute this women, but he "appeals to their consciences whether they were fit to be the  prosecutors."

I don't claim that this is a direct attack on those that would seek to punish those buying porn, but only as a reminder that they should be just in this first before they want to start punishing others. Obviously, their call was to remove porn from the shelves and didn't go further.

-j
"It's text. It's mostly anonymous. It pretends to be diverse. It steals little boys' innocence. It's the Internet. I'm a 12 year old Asian girl from
[ Parent ]

No need for prosecutors (none / 0) (#281)
by dave114 on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 05:09:16 AM EST

Christ claims that it was fit to prosecute this women, but he "appeals to their consciences whether they were fit to be the prosecutors."

It seems that the woman had already been found guilty, so the position of prosecutor was not the item in question. It seems to be more a question of who is capable of executing judgement upon her.

In this instance mercy was offered. Should it always be such? I don't know. We certainly should be open to offering leniency and forgiveness, but is such to be continually offered for a repeated sin to one who refuses to acknowledge the wrong it is?

[ Parent ]

Another remark (none / 0) (#282)
by dave114 on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 05:21:49 AM EST

To look on at this example a little further, the punish for adultery was death. Perhaps this is more a remark against capital punishment than anything. Capital punishment, once executed (sorry for the pun) leaves no oppurtunity for a change in behaviour. However, a punishment might be imposed that is nonlethal, and, instead, more corrective. Rather than discarding the individual, this person is allowed to rejoin society.

[ Parent ]
MHC (none / 0) (#285)
by jjayson on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 06:05:33 AM EST

If you get a chance, read Matthew Henry's Commentary. He answers these questions better than I could. You can either download it with various Bible study programs, or find it on the usual websites.

-j
"It's text. It's mostly anonymous. It pretends to be diverse. It steals little boys' innocence. It's the Internet. I'm a 12 year old Asian girl from
[ Parent ]
Read MHC (none / 0) (#288)
by dave114 on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 03:15:41 PM EST

Taken from Matthew Henry's Commentary:
He builds upon an uncontested maxim in morality, that it is very absurd for men to be zealous in punishing the offences of others, while they are every whit as guilty themselves, and they are not better than self-condemned who judge others, and yet themselves do the same thing

It seems to me that this should suggest that the emphasis in any response to sin should be targetted more towards helping to make that person repent of their sins and not repeat them.

Take the hypothetical example that a few members of Alcoholics Anonymous notice one of their fellow members walking into a bar, and go over to that individual and force them to leave the bar (don't know if any such thing has ever happened). In this case the AA members have all been drunk at various points in their life but it doesn't seem all that hypocritical to "punish" another by removing them from the source of their addiction. Rather, such might be considered to be assisting the individual.

[ Parent ]

Well then (none / 0) (#258)
by skim123 on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 06:52:32 PM EST

Lots of people want to be good but lack the strength to overcome absolutely all of the faults on their own

Perhaps, then, these people should stop going around saying, "Porn is bad" if they themselves consume it.

Your criticism of people incapable of total self-control is probably pretty hypocritical of you, come to that

I have fairly good self-control, thank you very much. And for areas where I don't, I'm the last person going around telling other people to adhere to moral absolutes that I, myself, cannot abide to. That is, if I was a chronic adulter (which I am not) I would be the last person to decry the evils of adultry. If you lack self-control, fine, just don't come to me, after having whacked off to your porn, criticizing me for some activity you just did. (All of the "me"s and "you"s are not intended to be literally me and you, of course. :-)

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
reply (5.00 / 2) (#265)
by dave114 on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 11:08:08 PM EST

Perhaps, then, these people should stop going around saying, "Porn is bad" if they themselves consume it.

Christian beliefs involve the idea of the corruption, by sin, of the whole human race. Salvation only exists by the grace of God. Christians realize that they are sinners, and that it is their duty not to sin anymore. However, this is easier said than done:

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! - from Romans 7 in the NIV translation of the the Bible


[ Parent ]
Do you own thing (none / 0) (#269)
by skim123 on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 01:12:22 AM EST

Just don't bother me! I know Christ said to go out and spread the word, but I think those Jehovah Witnesses missed the fine print of the Bible, right where it says, "But don't bother skim123." I give others the respect to form their own beliefs and make their own moral judgements without me needing to impose my beliefs on others - I wish (evangelical) Christians felt the same way.

Fine, so they sin and beat off to porn, fine, fine, fine. Just don't come up to me as I'm browsing the adult DVD section and tell me that porn is evil and wrong.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
God (1.00 / 3) (#189)
by aspartame on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 11:29:22 PM EST

Without porn, I'd be forced to fantisize about God when masturbating.

It makes sense to me.

God is perfect & infallible ==> God gives the best head, every time.



--
180 times sweeter than sugar
[ Parent ]

My opinion... (4.54 / 11) (#32)
by alphabit on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 04:14:16 PM EST

...as expressed as an editorial cartoon.

--
'It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.' -unknown
Author's Op-Ed (4.81 / 16) (#35)
by emad on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 04:19:43 PM EST

The author of the book recently wrote an op-ed to the Washington Post responding with his opinions on the controversy. This is worth a read.


Thanks for the link (none / 0) (#43)
by gonerill on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 04:33:44 PM EST

I've included a sentence or two toward the end that expand on my point by reference to this op-ed

[ Parent ]
Some of his lines are disturbing. (1.00 / 1) (#260)
by jjayson on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 07:34:00 PM EST

Quotes like these make me think that he has a bias against Christianity:
Yet many of those same Muslims held candles in solidarity with Christians after Sept. 11. They refused to lose their souls to a reflexive hatred of the Christian religion.
He goes against his own principle of not equating a vocal, hate-monger minority with the religion as a whole.

-j
"It's text. It's mostly anonymous. It pretends to be diverse. It steals little boys' innocence. It's the Internet. I'm a 12 year old Asian girl from
[ Parent ]
take it out of context and it can say anything (1.00 / 1) (#274)
by ceejayoz on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 03:15:10 AM EST

You're omitting the sentence before that one:

In Bosnia, such reckless notions led some Christians to attack defenseless Muslim neighbors. Yet many of those same Muslims held candles in solidarity with Christians after Sept. 11. They refused to lose their souls to a reflexive hatred of the Christian religion.

Makes a big difference when you put it back in context, doesn't it?

[ Parent ]

It's not out of context. (none / 0) (#279)
by jjayson on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 04:20:27 AM EST

The context you provide just shows my point. There was a vocal, hate-monger minority, yet he says that whole of Christian religion shows reflexive hatred. He doesn't say "They refused to lose their souls to a reflexive hatred of a few Christians," which would be correct. He pins the hate-filled acts of "some Christians" squarely on the religion, as if part of its character.

Your one sentence doesn't add any new information to the text I cut. It clarifies my first sentence. You already know something happened that should have made the Muslims not wish to be around the Christians by the word "Yet." You know it was a tragic incident from them holding candles. You know that the issue was divisive from the solidarity being mentioned.

-j
"It's text. It's mostly anonymous. It pretends to be diverse. It steals little boys' innocence. It's the Internet. I'm a 12 year old Asian girl from
[ Parent ]

Alternate reading (5.00 / 1) (#290)
by NoBeardPete on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 03:46:22 PM EST

The sentence you're arguin about is ambiguous. The phrase "hatred of the Christian religion" could be interpreted to mean "hatred directed at the Christian religion," or "hatred that the Christian religion holds towards others." You've gone with interpretation #2. When I first read that, I didn't even notice the second interpretation, and assumed he meant the first.

Maybe this was something a a Freudian slip. Certainly it's an ambiguity that should have been caught, because it's obviously causing a lot of confusion as to what the author meant. However, I don't think there's any cause to confidently declare that the author thinks that Christians are hatemongering jerks.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

I see that. (none / 0) (#291)
by jjayson on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 05:15:05 PM EST

Yes, your interpretation does make more sense, given the context. Also, it makes more sense given the syntax of the phrase, from his using the article "a" and not "the." Okay, I got it now, thanks for the explanation.

-j
"It's text. It's mostly anonymous. It pretends to be diverse. It steals little boys' innocence. It's the Internet. I'm a 12 year old Asian girl from
[ Parent ]
Establishment of Religion (3.26 / 15) (#53)
by DigitalRover on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 05:06:41 PM EST

I live here in the area, and this is an issue that has been thoroughly hashed out in the local forums and talk radio. Speaking of which, a local, conservative talk radio host, Jerry Agar, made an excellent point which I wholeheartedly agree with:

  This is the state, via a public institution of learning, *forcing* students to study a religion.

This isn't commentary on the Qur'an. It's an english translation of the early suras that offer "the vision of a meaningful and just life that anchors the religion of one-fifth of the world's inhabitants." As such, I do not think it's legal, nor proper, to force all incoming students to read and study it. What would be the response from the usual suspects on the left if it were the Torah or the Old Testament that the students were assigned to read?

Yes, I understand that this is probably a good faith attempt to broaden the minds of students that by and large come from a judeo-christian background. However, students should be given a choice to opt out of any sort of religious indoctrination. Remember that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Finally, Gellner's quote from the submission is laughable and directly contradict's one of the author's main points:

"Easy generalizations about the inherent character of Christianity or Islam are likely to be wrong."

" ... given the inveterate proclivity of that faith to a baroque, manipulative, patronage-ridden, quasi-animistic and disorderly vision of the world."


This is a favorite line of the intelligentsia when discussing Christianity. Throw out the faith to focus on the corrupt and evil acts of men in order to attack the faith. It boggles the mind.

If Gelner would like to imagine what the present day would like had Europe succumbed to Islamic expansion, he need look no further the Islamic world itself. From Northern Africa to the Far East one can see the *wonderful* affects of an islamic based theocracies on those societies.



Small comment (4.00 / 2) (#61)
by BloodmoonACK on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 05:23:20 PM EST

I would like to object to one small part of you comment. You say:

If Gelner would like to imagine what the present day would like had Europe succumbed to Islamic expansion, he need look no further the Islamic world itself. From Northern Africa to the Far East one can see the *wonderful* affects of an islamic based theocracies on those societies.

I don't even know where to begin. You do realize that before World War I, Turkey was a major world power? Also, in the 700's or 800's (I forget) Islam was MUCH more advanced and enlightened than Europe was. Frankly, they had a very good chance to become what Western society has become today: an open, democratic society. Perhaps if Europe HAD succumed to Islamic expansion, this would have happened. Who knows?

Also, current fundamentalist Islam ideas that are the basis for the theocracies in Iran, Taleban Afghanistan, etc., were only truly developed over the last hundred or so years. They were even legitimized by America during the Cold War.

Finally, look at Europe. WESTERN Europe is doing well, however EASTERN Europe is NOT. Nor is Russia. Sure, they may have "freedom", but that is a product of the last 10-20 years.

"It's like declaring a 'war on crime' and then claiming every (accused) thief is an 'enemy combatant'." - Hizonner
[ Parent ]

great power? (4.66 / 3) (#62)
by aphrael on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 05:35:06 PM EST

You do realize that before World War I, Turkey was a major world power?

That's one of the funniest things I've read in a while.

Yes, Turkey was once a major world power; the Ottomans toppled the pathetic remnant of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, and menaced the gates of Vienna twice; their threat to Austria, in particular, had a great deal to do with why the Hapsburgs were unable to deal with the political threat of lutheranism in the 16th century.

But by the 19th century, Turkish power was a myth, and most of the great powers were concerned about the vacuum that would be created when 'the sick man of europe' finally collapsed. The Crimean War, famous for florence nightengale and the charge of the light brigade, was all about France and Britain trying to shore up Turkey against a Russian invasion; Turkey was helpless against the French in the Napoleonic war and against seperatists in Egypt (who later came under enlgish and french domination). In that era, it had fallen behind technologically, socially, and economically, and could not compete in the modern world; its collapse at the end of WWI had been heralded for at least a century.

[ Parent ]

Ack (4.00 / 2) (#64)
by BloodmoonACK on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 05:47:41 PM EST

You're right, I honestly don't know what I was thinking when I wrote that statement. It...doesn't make any sense (and I do know that bit of history, which makes me wonder more). Sorry about that...

"It's like declaring a 'war on crime' and then claiming every (accused) thief is an 'enemy combatant'." - Hizonner
[ Parent ]

a few points on Turkish power (none / 0) (#160)
by adequate nathan on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 09:41:25 PM EST

  • The fall of Constantinople was the result of Venetian military adventures. The Venetians weakened the (already decaying) Eastern Roman Empire enough that the Turks were able to take Constantinople. It's not as though Turkey simply steamrollered the Eastern Empire at the height of its strength.
  • United Turkey isn't. The Turks are a huge ethnic group occupying territory stretching from Istanbul to Mongolia. Modern Turkey is the successor state to the Ottoman Empire, an empire which, though dominated politically by Turks, consisted of many Middle Eastern nations. Modern Turkey is the part in which most of the ethnic Turks lived, but many large countries, such as Iran and Syria, were at one point part of the Ottoman Empire. So, we see a large and vigorous people taking over the power vacuum in the late medieval Middle East with the weakening of the Islamic Iranian, Egyptian, and Iraqi Arab powers.
  • In other words, the Turks were a large, vigorous, and ascendant nation confronting the small, divided states of the Balkans. Hungary and Romania were the front lines of the clash between Central European power, particularly German-speaking princes, and the Lord upon the Golden Horn, if you'll forgive me. The entire issue is better considered as a clash of empires than as a clash of religions or even cultures. Putting it in the latter terms tends to lead to xenophobia or, at the least, essentialistic statements about the quality of Turkish power. Putting it in the former terms shows clearly that, while Turkey was a major power to be sure, the Hapsburgs and the Sultan fought more or less to a draw (the Turks had more resources to devote to the fight, and the Austrians were usually on the defensive, but never licked completely - the usual situation when a large state tries to invade a smaller, but still powerful one.)

    One ought also to remember that Turkish sea power was blunted forever at Naupaktos; after that, Turkey had to fight land campaigns, which are a lot harder to pull off. And, if I may, the last word on the Turks has not yet been spoken. Modern Turkey is a relatively advanced nation of some 70 million, and it's in a prime position to influence the states of the southern Caucasus. If I were a Georgian, I might be asking myself, "What have the Rusiians done for me lately?" Turkey also controls the Lower South-East Anatolia Project, an immense network of dams capable of turning off the tap to the Middle East for months at a time. Turkey may be a temporarily humbled state, but it's not exactly the Spain of the Middle East.

    HTH
    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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    [ Parent ]

  • Except (none / 0) (#172)
    by cr8dle2grave on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 10:31:37 PM EST

    If I were a Georgian, I might be asking myself, "What have the Rusiians done for me lately?"

    They might, if they weren't so preoccupied with long standing ethnic and cultural antipathies and questions about that whole Armenian genocide issue.

    ---
    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


    [ Parent ]
    well, we're not talking about federation here (none / 0) (#180)
    by adequate nathan on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 10:49:26 PM EST

    Just the expansion of a sphere of influence. Obviously, Turkey will not be annexing Georgia anytime soon. On the other hand, Turkey is an ascendant, mostly peaceful power, and Russia is not only a waning, militaristic one, but its cultural centres are far from Georgia and, at best, ambiguously and formally friendly toward it.

    According to a Georgian friend of mine, many Georgians are losing the use of Russian today. Add to that the attraction of such simple things as joint business ventures with Turks and it seems likely to me that Turkey will play a role in the Caucasus in the middle future term - especially considering that Azerbaijan, too, is in the midst of a fairly successful modernization. Even if all that happens is a softening of relations between the Turks and the non-Turkish Caucasian (excepting, obviously, the Armenians,) the camel's nose will be in the tent, as it were.

    I haven't much taste for the Ottomans myself, especially considering that I'm reading all about Ioan Hunedoara at the moment. Still, modern Turkey is not the Ottoman Empire and I don't expect that we will see it employ similar methods. Really, it seems silly to look at a major country adjacent to a minor one and to contradict the possibility of influence in times of peace.

    My two cents.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

    Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
    [ Parent ]

    I was just... (5.00 / 1) (#195)
    by cr8dle2grave on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 11:47:17 PM EST

    ...being a smartass.

    Actually, I rather enjoyed your post and agree that Turkey is well positioned to expand it's sphere of influence. The Turkic/Caucasian tension is an issue, but, then again, the Germans and the Poles get along pretty well these days.

    Oh, one more thing:


    The fall of Constantinople was the result of Venetian military adventures. The Venetians weakened the (already decaying) Eastern Roman Empire enough that the Turks were able to take Constantinople. It's not as though Turkey simply steamrollered the Eastern Empire at the height of its strength.

    The Turks had been chipping away at the Byzantines since the 10th century and by the end of the 13th century most of Anatolia was culturally and ethnically Turkic. The Eastern Empire lost Egypt and the Levant in the 7th century, but had managed to halt the advance of the Arabic armies into Anatolia. As I understand it, the Turkification of Anatolia was driven primarily by a huge migration of Turkic refugees from the steppes of Central Asia fleeing the westward expansion of the Mongols.

    ---
    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


    [ Parent ]
    quite (none / 0) (#312)
    by adequate nathan on Mon Aug 12, 2002 at 07:17:21 PM EST

    The Byzantine Empire was finished as an empire long prior to the fall of Constantinople. I like to think, though, that Byzantium wasn't culturally bankrupt. If it hadn't for the Venetian attack, I think Byzantium would have held up for a while against the Turkish army, though not the Turkish people.

    Thanks for your post, it was cool.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

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    [ Parent ]

    Agreed (none / 0) (#323)
    by cr8dle2grave on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 02:12:21 PM EST

    I think pondering the consequences of a Forth Crusade that never made it to Constantinople presents some of the more intriguing exercises in historical counterfactuals. Could they have persisted into modern times, holding the Ottomans and the West at bay? How would that have affected the development of the West?

    Actually, the Byzantines are, for some unknown reason, a totally fascinating subject for me. I feel a strange affinity or, more accurately, an aesthetic identification with the Byzantine culture. Unfortunately, at present, my interest greatly exceeds my knowledge. I've had a plan on the back burner for the last couple of years to study the Byzantine civilization more closely, but I've just never got around to it.

    I've recently been considering writing a couple of articles for Kuro5hin related to the Byzantines:

    • An article on early Christianity in the Levant to fill in the gap of coverage left by the recent submissions covering Israeli and Palestinian histories.
    • An article on the Fourth Crusade, as I think it is one of the more interesting episodes in Medieval European history.
    But I'd have to get off my duff and actually do more than submit an MLP. Who knows? Maybe.

    ---
    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


    [ Parent ]
    The Ottamans at the Suez Canal in 1915 (none / 0) (#236)
    by cam on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 09:20:31 AM EST

    Turkey may be a temporarily humbled state

    The Ottoman Empire was a reluctant Central Power in WWI. Between manouverings by the British and Germany, it was sucked into the war. The Ottomans in quick succession repelled an allied invasion in the Dardanelles which involved British, French, Indian, Australia and New Zealand man power. By the end of 1915 they were at the Suez Canal and on the verge of invading Egypt. One British General from the period was quoted saying, that the British troops were supposed to be protecting the Suez Canal, not vice versa".

    It took three years for the allied forces in Egypt, Palestine and Syria to force the Ottoman forces back up to Aleppo, and until the Ottoman 5th Army was destroyed as a fighting force at the Battle of Armageddon. Three years of constant fighting in extreme conditions does not make the Turks a push over.

    cam
    Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
    [ Parent ]

    hence 'temporarily humbled' (4.00 / 1) (#313)
    by adequate nathan on Mon Aug 12, 2002 at 07:24:42 PM EST

    And my use of the present tense.

    Turkey is a strong state today. It has a large, modern, professional, thoroughly-trained, totally hardass army. It also controls lots of strategic positions and is in a position to repulse any imaginable invasion.

    In contrast with Turkey ca. 1600, this counts as somewhat militarily humbled.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

    Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
    [ Parent ]

    Large effort to humble Turkey (none / 0) (#316)
    by cam on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 12:07:57 AM EST

    And my use of the present tense.

    Sorry didnt meant to sound contradictory, was trying to make the point that even to humble Turkey by 1918, took a great deal of time, effort, manpower and resources.

    Not to mention, Turkey repulsed an invasion attempt ( led by Mestafa Kemal later known as Attaturk ) and came very close to getting to Cairo. They certainly went through Mesopotamia like a dose of salts as well, culminating in the Siege of Kut.

    Unfortunately the Ottoman Army gets a bit of a bum rap from WWI as the Australians predominantly as well as the British wrote the commonly accepted (official) histories for the Middle Eastern campaigns in WWI.

    cam
    Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
    [ Parent ]

    all I'm trying to say here (none / 0) (#328)
    by adequate nathan on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 09:02:26 PM EST

    Is that Turkey is no longer in a position to invade Europe, which is what it spent the entire high middle ages and early modern era doing.

    Believe me, I'm aware that Turkey is a powerful state. I once had a Turkish former-military-officer expat roommate, and although he was a very nice guy, I wouldn't have cared to cross him. Still, Turkey (strong as it is) is not as strong as NATO, which is the only point I was trying to make.

    Thanks for the reminder about the Turks ca. 1915.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

    Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
    [ Parent ]

    RE: Small comment (3.00 / 1) (#69)
    by DigitalRover on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:04:19 PM EST

    Aphrael already beat me to the commentary about Turkey, so I won't touch that.



    Also, current fundamentalist Islam ideas that are the basis for the theocracies in Iran, Taleban Afghanistan, etc., were only truly developed over the last hundred or so years. They were even legitimized by America during the Cold War.

    No. They demonstrate the stagnation of ideas within those Islamic societies. They are return to early Islamic, and even pre-islamic (as in the case in many isolated areas) ideas about how a society should be structured and run. They are brutal and misogynistic, as witnessed by the current "punichment" of a young boy in Pakistan via the gang rape of his sister. Even within "enlightened" muslim countries like Turkey and Egypt that claim to be democratic you see this continual domination of the culture and the power structures by the clerics. So no, if Europe had succumbed to Islam it would probably look quite a bit like "modern day" Afghanistan, only without the culture. More on this in a bit ...

    Finally, look at Europe. WESTERN Europe is doing well, however EASTERN Europe is NOT. Nor is Russia. Sure, they may have "freedom", but that is a product of the last 10-20 years.

    I'm not really sure what this has to do with the current discussion. Are you saying freedom is a bad thing? Or are you just indifferent when it comes to indivual rights? I'll address it anyway because I can tie it back into one of my earlier points. The Western world looks like it does because of the freedom of the individual. The freedom to break away from then the current frames of culture and science were what allowed great minds, from Michaelangelo to Newton to Einstein to Edison, to create and invent. Contrast this with any closed society. Innovation and new ideas are a rare gem for these. When those in power wish to remain there, they seek to control thoughts and ideas. This means repressing and controlling anyone who seeks to break off in a new direction. This describes Eastern Europe throughout much of the 20th century and the Muslim world throughout the vast majority of its existence.

    I don't know if it's something endemic to the religion of Islam, or something within the culture where it was born. But, by and large it behaves in such a way as to repress new thought and foster cultural stagnation in favour of a singular focus on the religion (which, btw, maintains the power of the clerics).

    Ironically, many western muslims are working to break free of this but are looked upon as destroying the faith by those within the heart of the Middle East and the Muslim world.

    [ Parent ]

    Missing the point... (4.00 / 1) (#135)
    by BloodmoonACK on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:52:26 PM EST

    My point (jumbled though the argument was) was that just because the current Islamic world is screwed up and the current European world is not does NOT mean that there is something wrong with the Islamic past Islamic culture.

    Ironically, many western muslims are working to break free of this but are looked upon as destroying the faith by those within the heart of the Middle East and the Muslim world.

    The same could be said of the Catholics during the reformation. And still is, actually (I have an Uncle who's a Catholic Priest and he...looks down on Protestants). Look at the "heartland" of Christianity (the Vatican, for this argument). Remember, too, that through the majority of CHRISTIAN rule in Europe it was a closed society.

    Here's where I admit my ignorance of Islam. I had been under the impression that Islam was very open for the majority of it's life, at least through Saladin (who lived in what? the 1200's?). Could anyone fill me in on this? I KNOW Saladin was very open to other religions, etc., but I don't know when the tide turned. I WOULD argue that very much of Islam, especially the many that are in the Middle East, are intolerant of other religions, but I would NOT say that this is because of anything wrong with Islam.

    "It's like declaring a 'war on crime' and then claiming every (accused) thief is an 'enemy combatant'." - Hizonner
    [ Parent ]

    The usual idiocy. (3.66 / 3) (#75)
    by Caton on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:22:21 PM EST

    Also, in the 700's or 800's (I forget) Islam was MUCH more advanced and enlightened than Europe was.
    Now, if the Islamic world could just forget about how advanced and enlightened they were 1200 or 1300 years ago, it could try to get out of the 800 and join us all in the 21st century.

    Let's face it: most of those countries' healthcare, transportation, education and justice systems are far from being up to modern standards. Time to stop looking back and start looking forward.

    ---
    As long as there's hope...
    [ Parent ]

    That would be all well and good (1.23 / 13) (#111)
    by Levi on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:23:22 PM EST

    Except that "start looking forward" for people like you means "Start sucking American dick, or we'll destabilize your entire country. Just like last time, remember?" Burn in hell, fucker.

    [ Parent ]
    Can't you read? (2.80 / 5) (#119)
    by Caton on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:31:02 PM EST

    1. 0 rating - uncalled-for paranoiac insults.
    2. Can't you read? .fr mail address. Hint: the country using .fr as its root domain is on the other side of the Atlantic ocean.
    3. There's no proof of existence of god, hell or heaven. Stop spewing nonsense.
    4. Grow up.


    ---
    As long as there's hope...
    [ Parent ]
    Note: (5.00 / 1) (#230)
    by qpt on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 05:49:32 AM EST

    There's no proof of existence of god, hell or heaven. Stop spewing nonsense.
    As it turns out, there is no proof of the existence of much of anything. Talking about such things is not nonsense, though.

    Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.
    [ Parent ]

    We did... (5.00 / 2) (#70)
    by Kaki Nix Sain on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:12:45 PM EST

    What would be the response from the usual suspects on the left if it were the Torah or the Old Testament that the students were assigned to read?
    We did read pieces of each of those in a college history course I took. Along with the Bhagavad-Gita, the Qur'an, and some Zen writings about the tea ceremony.

    That class was chock-full of good, American, young, leftist kids, and not a one of us made a peep about reading any of the texts. I recall some of the Christians in the room complaining though. One changed the project group she was in after it voted to do a recreation of a Muslim prayer as a presentation to the class. Strange, I thought, that she wouldn't even pray to her own "God" with a different prayer.



    [ Parent ]

    The Problem ... (2.50 / 2) (#73)
    by DigitalRover on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:20:01 PM EST

    You were voluntarily enrolled in a course where you knew that you'd be studying various religions.



    UNC-CH is attempting to force students to do so (and it's not like they're being given a choice as to what religion they'd like to study). Normally, I wouldn't give to shits about it, but this is a tax payer funded college and as such it has to abide by the laws that govern any public instiution.



    I do find it interesting, though, that you think that Leftists would have a problem studying religion. What ever happened to having an open mind? Despite what popular culture would have us believe, I think that I find more open minds amongst the libertarians than the leftists.

    [ Parent ]
    I was in a course... (4.00 / 1) (#118)
    by Kaki Nix Sain on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:30:34 PM EST

    ... advertised as an in depth look at the "major", and some of the "minor", cultures in the history of humans. It was the "honors" course that took the place of the ordinary history requirement for those of us that wanted the gold star on our diploma. But I don't see how any history requirement can be near complete without covering at least some of the religious-material-based-topics that we covered.

    UNC-CH is attempting to force students to do so (and it's not like they're being given a choice as to what religion they'd like to study).
    Yeah, damn those universities telling the kids what to study! Or something.

    ... but this is a tax payer funded college and as such it has to abide by the laws that govern any public instiution.
    When we can't even make the effort to distinguish between teaching about and proselytizing/brainwashing, the educational system suffers.

    I do find it interesting, though, that you think that Leftists would have a problem studying religion.
    Maybe you need to reread my post and the parent of my post again or study some refresher material on following socratic dialogue or something. I was saying that we liberals in the class did not have any problem with studying religions (most of us had been through a few on our own anyway). This was in response (as a counterexample) to the implication of the parent post, which was that we liberals would raise bloody hell if students were told to read the Bible.

    I must also apologize, I didn't catch that I had written "leftists" in my post. The term I wanted to use was "liberals". We weren't red-flag waving kids. We were liberals.



    [ Parent ]

    Touchy ... and kinda ignorant too ... (3.00 / 1) (#171)
    by DigitalRover on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 10:28:46 PM EST

    Wow. Someone's overly sensitive to criticism. Plus, they need to brush up on reading comprehension.

    Let's begin, shall we?

    ... advertised as an in depth look at the "major", and some of the "minor", cultures in the history of humans. It was the "honors" course that took the place of the ordinary history requirement for those of us that wanted the gold star on our diploma. But I don't see how any history requirement can be near complete without covering at least some of the religious-material-based-topics that we covered.

    And you went into it knowing you would be study history, the religion(s) of the era, and their interactions. Didn't I already say this??

    Yeah, damn those universities telling the kids what to study! Or something.

    Actually, the problem is that the Government, via the University, is pushing a *specific* religion. This to me demonstrates the hypocrisy of many on the left, especially those in academia. They are infected with the disease of political correctness to the point that it takes precedence over their own beliefs. Example: I was one of those that (correctly) pointed out that the recent ruling on the phrase "Under God" was unconstitutional because it was specifically written to affect an establishment of religion (and let those damn godless communists know who was boss). However, when the same basic problem arises but clashes with the current PC need to "understand" the minds of those who wish to destroy us the leftists quickly desert the camp and go and *endorse* what is a violation of the First Amendment. Go figure.

    When we can't even make the effort to distinguish between teaching about and proselytizing/brainwashing, the educational system suffers

    In this case, it's the latter. Visit Chapel Hill and talk to the students and professors. You'll realize that it's infected with the latest PC garbage, that's really just a masquerade for a lot of hatred towards America and capitalism. After all, UNC-CH was the site of the famous "tech-ins" after the September 11 attacks that somehow sought to legitimize the murder of innocents in the name of religion.

    Maybe you need to reread my post and the parent of my post again or study some refresher material on following socratic dialogue or something. I was saying that we liberals in the class did not have any problem with studying religions (most of us had been through a few on our own anyway). This was in response (as a counterexample) to the implication of the parent post, which was that we liberals would raise bloody hell if students were told to read the Bible.

    Maybe you need to reread the name of the author of the parent of your post (for those of you that are liberal arts majors, that would be me). And just maybe you should reread what I said then, and in my reply and you'll understand the point I was making: You unwittingly admitted to the fact that leftists aren't just agnostic towards Judeo-Christian beliefs, but are actively hostile five nines of the time. But you're a masters student, so I'll try and speak slower. FYI: Throwing phrases like "socratic dialogue" into a discussion outside of a college campus not only makes you look pretentious, but it also reinforces the notion that you must rely on the appearance of superior intellect rather than a superior argument.

    I must also apologize, I didn't catch that I had written "leftists" in my post. The term I wanted to use was "liberals". We weren't red-flag waving kids. We were liberals.

    Do you believe that Government can somehow magically solve our problems? Do you continually submit to the will of those in power? Do you swoon when someone talks about progressive taxation of the "evil rich"? If you answered yes to any of these, then you are a leftist. Hey, if being a left-winger is so great then you shouldn't have to try and hide your ideology behind weak words like liberal. I'm proud to put myself on the far right-wing of the political spectrum and to identify myself as a Libertarian who believes that the Individual will win out in the end. On the other hand, if it's something to be ashamed of ...

    [ Parent ]
    On and on... (4.00 / 1) (#251)
    by Kaki Nix Sain on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 04:26:31 PM EST

    Didn't I already say this??
    Gee, you complain later that I'm overly contrary and here you complain about me being nice and clarifying the situation. Sorry. Next time I'll be sure to hide all of the facts that might support the case of the person I'm talking to. Better?
    Actually, the problem is that the Government, via the University, is pushing a *specific* religion.
    Here we just disagree with what actually happened. I don't think that asking students to read a book about a religion is equal to "pushing" it. Pushing a religion might sometimes include getting someone to read books about it, but you can't just turn that around and say that anyone being asked to read a book about a religion is having that religion pushed on them. Reading books about things is a common part of education about those things. Simple as that.
    In this case, it's the latter. Visit Chapel Hill and talk to the students and professors. You'll realize that it's infected with the latest PC garbage...
    Wait, so they are more "PC" than you like thus they were proselytizing/brainwashing students into Islam. Sure, right, that clearly follows.
    After all, UNC-CH was the site of the famous "tech-ins" after the September 11 attacks that somehow sought to legitimize the murder of innocents in the name of religion.
    To answer the off topic silliness, figuring out what makes someone think that they are justified is not the same as concluding that they are justified. Can you really not see the difference?
    Maybe you need to reread the name of the author of the parent of your post
    Yeah, I missed that, touché. I guess I assumed that the author of the first post would have recognized a clear reply to their implication. My mistake.
    (for those of you that are liberal arts majors...
    Just love those ad hominem jabs, don't you?
    You unwittingly admitted to the fact that leftists aren't just agnostic towards Judeo-Christian beliefs, but are actively hostile five nines of the time.
    "Unwittingly"? Huh? Yeah, I got all confused and said what I meant. "Unwittingly" indeed.

    Sure we liberals (leftest and non) were hostile to the silly aspects of Judeo-Christian beliefs. We were hostile to the silly aspects of all of the religious beliefs that we studied. It was par for the course. We also lauded the nice parts of each. Just part of the education.

    FYI: Throwing phrases like "socratic dialogue" into a discussion outside of a college campus not only makes you look pretentious, but it also reinforces the notion that you must rely on the appearance of superior intellect rather than a superior argument.
    Gee, after all those scathing insults maybe I shouldn't admit this, but I actually, you know, sometimes think in vocabulary that I learned after high-school. I didn't realize that all that higher education stuff was supposed to be trashed once I got the diploma. Sorry.

    It was not an exaggeration for outward show, thus not pretentious. It was just the way I think. Sorry that makes you feel that I'm sounding (trying to sound?) smarter than you or something, but I'm not going to dumb down my vocabulary for you. While I can still recall complex concepts, I will use them and label them as properly as I can.

    Do you believe that Government can somehow magically solve our problems? Do you continually submit to the will of those in power? Do you swoon when someone talks about progressive taxation of the "evil rich"?
    Let me get this straight, you actually think that this little exchange of ours is adequate evidence for you to deduce my beliefs on complicated political issues. How interesting. Can you tell me, what number am I thinking of right now?

    If you answered yes to any of these, then you are a leftist.
    Good thing, I guess, that they were all worded in such an exaggerated and absurd manner and I was thus able to answer them all no. Saved me from a fate worse than death. Or something.
    Hey, if being a left-winger is so great...
    Yeah, dude, it is the end all be all. Everybody else is a pepper. Don't you want to be a pepper too? If you aren't with us you are against us, you know.
    ... you shouldn't have to try and hide your ideology behind weak words like liberal.
    I was just trying to label things correctly. Sorry, I know how touchy you get when I try to use the right words and admit that I misspoke. I'll stick dogmatically to my mislabeling in the future.
    I'm proud to put myself on the far right-wing of the political spectrum...
    As well you should be. After all, a person's worth as a human being is a direct function of their political beliefs. Gobble Gobble Gobble.
    ...who believes that the Individual will win out in the end.
    Yeah, some day we will return to that state of grace that we fell from, the one in which the individual human is the fundamental unit to all considerations. Never mind all that historical crap about how we were organized into communities long before we considered how a rock could be good for throwing.

    You are funny. Please do write again and give me some more laughs.



    [ Parent ]

    where'd he say that? (none / 0) (#277)
    by ceejayoz on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 03:32:27 AM EST

    the Pope explicitly said, to address this subject, "the Bible isn't a scientific book"

    Do you know where he said that?  I'd like to get the whole quote.  John Paul II again proves himself to be one of the best popes :-)

    [ Parent ]

    skewed Christian perspective (4.60 / 5) (#142)
    by dogwalker on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 08:14:47 PM EST

    ...Jerry Agar, made an excellent point which I wholeheartedly agree with: "This is the state, via a public institution of learning, *forcing* students to study a religion."

    Um, so? Public schools 'force' students to study all kinds of things. Chemistry, math, art (if they're lucky), sometimes even religions. It can be fine line, but there's room for a whole world of difference between reading a religious text as literature, or reading it to understand the society in which it was written, and reading it to be converted. I think that by and large, schools do pretty well teaching *about* religions with *promoting* any particular religion.

    In my not-so-humble opinion, American Christians and members of other majority faiths get all touchy about this because their religion creates a perspective in which the lack of a pro-Christian perspective is seen as religious bias against Christianity.

    " ... given the inveterate proclivity of that faith to a baroque, manipulative, patronage-ridden, quasi-animistic and disorderly vision of the world."
    This is a favorite line of the intelligentsia when discussing Christianity. Throw out the faith to focus on the corrupt and evil acts of men in order to attack the faith. It boggles the mind.

    Um, Gellner is not saying that about Christianity at all. He observes people like you talking about Islam and speculates that if you had grown up in a rationalist, Islamic society, you would say the above about Christianity. Quite astute, really, as you are demonstrating.


    --
    share and enjoy

    [ Parent ]

    Fairness (3.87 / 8) (#60)
    by wji on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 05:22:03 PM EST

    In fairness, you should make it clear that the Christian fundies are suing over making the assignment mandatory, not over the assignment alone.

    Now, I think that's bullshit. I'm happy to study religion in mandatory courses (which I have), and if a student can't listen to a teacher's biases without absorbing them, that's really the student's problem.

    If you got this from the Democracy Now program, which had a very good debate (it was framed in terms of "how can you crazies do this?" but gave the Christian fundie plenty of opportunity to explain), you might have noticed some irony. The FPN guy kept ranting about passages in the Qur'an that say things like slay infidels, don't be friends with Jews, etc. But this is coming from a Christian -- slavery is OK, women are worthless (Islam just says they're worth half), bash kids against rocks, etc.

    In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.

    Well... (4.00 / 2) (#101)
    by icastel on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:08:44 PM EST

    In fairness, you should make it clear that the Christian fundies are suing over making the assignment mandatory, not over the assignment alone.

    I would suspect most assignments in college are "mandatory" in nature; however, you can choose not to complete them. Of course, if that is the case, you also have to take responsability for the outcome.




    -- I like my land flat --
    [ Parent ]
    It's a required course (none / 0) (#223)
    by dave114 on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 04:16:53 AM EST

    Assignments in courses may be mandatory, but at least you have the option to choose not to take the course in the first place.

    [ Parent ]
    Mandatory Course ... (none / 0) (#309)
    by icastel on Mon Aug 12, 2002 at 05:26:35 PM EST

    or not, you CHOOSE to go to college.


    -- I like my land flat --
    [ Parent ]
    I don't think it's mandatory. (none / 0) (#103)
    by Perianwyr on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:12:02 PM EST

    I believe it's on an optional summer reading list for incoming freshmen, with a study guide. That's what the article said, anyway.

    [ Parent ]
    See the UNC web site (none / 0) (#225)
    by dave114 on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 04:18:29 AM EST

    Right on this page it notes that this reading is required.

    [ Parent ]
    Not Exactly Mandatory (4.00 / 1) (#145)
    by Dolohov on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 08:18:27 PM EST

    The way I understood it, the paper on the reading was mandatory, but the reading itself was not. That is, the student could well choose to write 300 words on why they chose not to even look at it, and if they set down a clear, logical argument, would receive passing marks.

    [ Parent ]
    Unlike all the voluntary assignments at Uni [NT] (none / 0) (#221)
    by axxeman on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 03:36:51 AM EST


    Being or not being married isn't going to stop bestiality or incest. --- FlightTest
    [ Parent ]

    Is O'Reilly really this bad? (3.66 / 6) (#67)
    by jayhawk88 on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 05:59:03 PM EST

    I must admit, I've never watched O'Reilly's TV show, nor particularly made it a point to listen or read anything of his. Is he really as bad as this makes him out to be?

    I mean damn, talk about missing the point entirely. I find it very hard to believe anyone could genuinely be this much of an ass as to compare it Mein Kampf, let alone the "our enemies religion" quote. Which leads me to believe this is more of a publicity stunt by O'Reilly, seizing on an opportunity to get people tuning in to his show.

    Why, then, should we grant government the Orwellian capability to listen at will and in real time to our communications across the Web? -- John Ashcroft
    Here's the transcript (5.00 / 2) (#72)
    by gonerill on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:13:57 PM EST

    Transcript of the O'Reilly's interview with the prof who assigned the text. Prof wins hands down. O'Reilly appears to be an idiot.

    [ Parent ]
    And here's another transcript... (none / 0) (#80)
    by Skywise on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:36:49 PM EST

    Where O'Reilly expands his points...

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,60020,00.html


    [ Parent ]

    He doesn't seem to come off any better... (5.00 / 2) (#99)
    by Kaki Nix Sain on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:03:27 PM EST

    ... in that one either.



    [ Parent ]

    Again? (3.00 / 4) (#144)
    by Dolohov on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 08:16:26 PM EST

    You keep trotting out this second transcript as though he's suddenly redeeming himself, when as far as I can tell, he's just showing that he's willing to misrepresent his own stated views and those of the guests on his show. I particularly liked:

    Unfortunately, that kind of stuff happens all the time, especially on the Internet, where there are no editorial controls. Anybody can say anything. (As opposed, obviously, to the editorial controls at, say, Fox News?)

    And,

    We do have freedom of religion in America, but we also have freedom from religion.

    I would have paid good money to have watched as those words fell from his mouth. Ten bucks says that he forgets this high-and-mighty principle next time prayer in schools or the Ten Commandments on court walls comes up.

    [ Parent ]

    O'Reilly (none / 0) (#174)
    by pseudostatic on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 10:36:42 PM EST

    I've seen O'Reilly get people on his show just to rant at them-they got two or three complete sentences in. He uses sensationalism to cater to the far right, like many others on Fox.

    [ Parent ]
    I watch O'Reilly - yes and no (2.00 / 1) (#211)
    by Irobot on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 01:03:38 AM EST

    My wife hates the fact that I watch O'Reilly most every night - she gets furious at the things that pop out of his mouth. I, on the other hand, enjoy his show - I find that I laugh at him about half the time. The other half of the time, I find he does a decent job grilling his guests - which can be just as amusing.

    I'd compare it to a reality TV show - once the jerk gets voted off the show, it's no longer entertaining; it's just not as much fun to watch people have a polite and civil conversation. Since O'Reilly is the jerk, the entertainment "factor" is guaranteed. The bottom line - hold suspect anyone who makes such loud claims at being "fair and balanced." Just laugh when it's not, 'cuz there's nothing else you can really do...

    Irobot

    The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking one's self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous. -- Margot Fonteyn
    [ Parent ]

    Well: (2.60 / 5) (#68)
    by subgenius on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:03:12 PM EST

    It is gonna get a whole lots worse before it gets better. That is if any of us more forward thinkers are left after it is over.

    As I was setting up to write this comment I saw the comment about them not being just told to do this lesson, but that it was *mandatory*. LOL So I am supposed to go to college and tell the teachers what they can teach me. When I was in The University one never questioned an assignment. <well, maybe just not out loud.> I would hope it is still the same way.

    Drive On!
    Drive On!

    Don't teach enemy thought! (3.16 / 12) (#71)
    by pmk on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:12:58 PM EST

    Damn right! No school in our divinely ordained God-fearing country should teach anything that's an enemy of real Bible-based Christianity! Down with math textbooks that claim pi is not three! Burn astronomy books that show a Satanically round planet that's not the center of the universe! Close the foreign language departments! And gun down like free-thinking dogs those bastards that encourage impressionable youth to think critically, use logic, or figure something out for themselves!

    If God had wanted freedom of speech or belief in this His chosen country, He'd have told the Founding Fathers to put it into the body of the Constitution and not un some afterthought appendix.

    And don't tell me nothing about irony or one of them other things from dead ancient Greek heathens, I don't want to hear it.

    Darwin is the Devil! (none / 0) (#167)
    by acoustiq on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 10:15:42 PM EST

    Don't forget to burn all the books that try to poison the minds of our children with the Satanic idea that life was not created by God alone!

    --
    "When someone says, 'I want a programming language in which I need only say what I want done,' give him a lollipop." - Alan Perlis
    [ Parent ]
    Where's that "understanding" again? (3.55 / 18) (#74)
    by Skywise on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:21:21 PM EST

    It's amazing that your argument against O'Reilly et. al is their lack of "understanding" and that studying your opposition is a "good thing", but you won't apply that same effort to understanding O'Reilly's point.

    O'Reilly's argument is that the colleges continue to promote "non-American" ideologies over "American" ones, in the name of "broadening their horizons".  When in reality, any serious study of Western Civilization issues, capitalism, philosophy, HISTORY, has been relegated to the backburner.

    What if the reading assignment had been a book from the "Left Behind" series?  "Pilgrim's Progress"?  "Brother Astronomer" (a serious look at the reconciliation of science with the Catholic faith).  "Rebel With a Cause" (an auto-biography of Rev. Billy Graham's son as he rebelled against his father, reconciled, then started his own ministry as a priest)?  How about General Norman Schwarzkopf's biography which documents his struggles during the Gulf War to keep his troops alive while placating the Bush Administration?  "A  History of the English Speaking Peoples" by Winston Churchill? (which documents the first crusades)

    But you won't see those books on required reading lists.  They're not as "important" as a book that studies Islam because students need to have their horizons "broadened".  Well, excuse me if O'Reilly and I agree that American college students need to understand THEIR history first, before trying to make judgement calls on somebody elses history.  (Which, ironically, in a different article on K5 would be proof positive of American Hubris...)

    Graham's son (4.00 / 1) (#85)
    by pmk on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:43:18 PM EST

    See this news story from today for some comments on Islam, "religion of hatred", from Franklin Graham himself. If this is "ministry", we don't need it.

    [ Parent ]
    And if you read his book... (4.25 / 4) (#88)
    by Skywise on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:46:59 PM EST

    You'd understand why...  He started a Christian charity/ministry in the middle-east where his converts were killed by the local Islamic police for their blasphemy.

    But that's that "broadening horizons" and "understanding" thang again...

    It doesn't make his words right.  But he has an opinion, and he has REASON behind his opinion.

    [ Parent ]

    They earned what they got (2.18 / 11) (#104)
    by Levi on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:14:06 PM EST

    Missionaries are scum. "Hey, you're going to be in eternal pain if you don't throw money in the coin box. Oh by the way, I'll *wink wink nudge nudge* kill your family if you don't convert."

    [ Parent ]
    Obviously you've never met a missionary (5.00 / 2) (#179)
    by bigbird on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 10:45:56 PM EST

    Your comment should be a zero, or a one at most, like most other comments you post. I will likely not bother responding again to you, as this reply is enough pissing into the wind for today, but...

    The missionaries I know (and I have met quite a few) spend much of their time trying to meet basic needs of the people to whom they are ministering. This includes things such as flying in medical supplies, providing medical care (in large parts of africa, missionary clinics are often the only hospital within several days walk), and providing education - y'know, basic literacy, that insignificant little thing that could have a huge bearing on how likely your children are to starve in their lifetime. Bringing someone to faith in Christ through threats and intimidation is not even on their to-do lists.

    Samaritan's Purse (organization which Franklin Graham heads) , was founded by Bob Pierce on the premise that you could not teach someone the gospel when they have basic needs unmet - food, clothing, and shelter. So what if an aid package comes with a bible tract - existing faith is not a prerequisite for help from the missionaries I know, and instant or eventual belief is also not a prerequisite.

    Based on their 2001 annual report, over $131 million out of $145 million raised by Samaritan's Purse went to their missions, including $20 million in emergency relief, medical assistance, and community development, and $92 million on Operation Christmas Child. Samaritan's Purse is only one out of hundreds of Christian aid and missionary organizations.

    bigbird


    For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Rom 1:16
    [ Parent ]
    Missionaries are scum... (none / 0) (#218)
    by Mzilikazi on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 01:47:47 AM EST

    ...and Islam just spontaneously appeared with no human intervention from Morocco to Malaysia. ;)

    The Muslims were spreading the word of Allah throughout the third world and opening up the African slave trade when Europe was still the third world. (And the slave trade hasn't entirely stoppped yet, either--it's still active in Sudan and Mauritania, and was legal in Saudi Arabia until the 1970s.)

    Cheers,
    Mzilikazi

    [ Parent ]

    Doesn't seem like O'Reily's view to me (4.50 / 2) (#92)
    by gmol on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:53:38 PM EST

    O'Reilly's argument is that the colleges continue to promote "non-American" ideologies over "American" ones, in the name of "broadening their horizons". When in reality, any serious study of Western Civilization issues, capitalism, philosophy, HISTORY, has been relegated to the backburner.

    I looked at the transcript. Your stated position of O'Reilly doesn't seem like his position at all. He fails to counter many good points brought up by the professsor, and comes across as somewhat flustered.

    IMHO an accurate summary of O'Reilly's viewpoint is that studying the religon of "our enemy" (?!) is somehow wrong. And it's not like the professor doesn't give students a fair "opt-out"; write an essay stating your reasons as to why you don't want to do the assigned reading if you feel that way.

    I haven't read the book being referred to either, but it doesn't sound like religous "indoctrination" to me.

    I don't watch O'Reilly, but reading the transcript, but he sounds kind of like a hot-headed dumbass in talking to the professor.

    I haven't read the book being referred to either, but it doesn't sound like religous "indoctrination" to me.

    [ Parent ]

    Didja see this transcript? (none / 0) (#93)
    by Skywise on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:57:36 PM EST

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,60020,00.html

    [ Parent ]
    OK, that is a response to the first one though (4.00 / 1) (#115)
    by gmol on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:29:17 PM EST

    I kinda see your point by looking at his followup. I would summarize it as not "leaving western stuff out" as you have implied, but to not endorse mandatory religous understanding of any kind whatsoever via public funds.

    His initial transcript came across as a little more dumb and angry, he didn't express, what were his apparently intended viewpoints, very well the first time.

    [ Parent ]

    I agree (4.00 / 2) (#122)
    by Skywise on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:36:36 PM EST

    I'm not defending O'Reilly the man.  He gives himself a case of foot n' mouth disease quite often.  But he does about 4 interviews a night, 5 times a week, so statistically, he's going to screw up on his phraseing.  You just can't be clear in your points that often.

    The Mein Kampf line WAS stupid though.  A better allegory would've been reading a book about Emperor Hirohito...

    [ Parent ]

    good point (none / 0) (#127)
    by gmol on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:41:14 PM EST

    If I was giving interviews 5 days a week I'd probably end up saying a few dumb things myself.

    [ Parent ]
    He brought the Hirohito thing up... (none / 0) (#163)
    by Grimgrin on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 09:46:57 PM EST

    O'REILLY: ...But my problem is this with there. I don't look. I'm for academic freedom. I want all the students in universities and colleges across the country to be as well versed as possible. But I don't know what this serves to take a look at our enemy's religion. See? I mean, I wouldn't give people a book during World War II on the emperor is God in Japan, would you?

    KIRKPATRICK: Sure, why not? Wouldn't that explain, wouldn't that have explained kamikaze pilots?

    O'REILLY: No. It would have just -- I don't think it would have. I mean, I would say the culture of Japan, fine, but not the religion. The religion aspect of this bothers me.


    What amazes me about O'Reilly is that he seems so geniuinly unprepared for the answers that his guests give him. I mean "A total inability to see anyone else's point of view" isn't really a skill you want in an interviewer.

    [ Parent ]
    Nice... (3.66 / 3) (#97)
    by faustus on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:00:14 PM EST

    O'Reilly's argument is that the colleges continue to promote "non-American" ideologies over "American" ones, in the name of "broadening their horizons". When in reality, any serious study of Western Civilization issues, capitalism, philosophy, HISTORY, has been relegated to the backburner.

    This is a nice magical analysis of O'Reilly's points. Of course it is not what he is saying at all.

    In any event, don't you think American College students haven't already had the glory of American exploits and war, shoved down their throats all through grade and highschool? It's not like they haven't already been exposed to the subjects that you claim are "being put on the backburner".

    Furthermore, maybe if we had a look at the complete reading list for UNC freshmen, we would find that the rest of the books covered those same topics that are being so unpatriotically neglected. I'm going to take a magical stab in the dark and assume that the rest of the required books would suit your tastes rather well.

    [ Parent ]

    what complete reading list? (4.75 / 4) (#102)
    by Delirium on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:11:06 PM EST

    Furthermore, maybe if we had a look at the complete reading list for UNC freshmen, we would find that the rest of the books covered those same topics that are being so unpatriotically neglected.
    This is the complete list. Every year, UNC picks one book for all incoming freshmen to read over the summer before they start their first year. This year, the chosen book is Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations.

    [ Parent ]
    Magical response... (4.60 / 5) (#109)
    by Skywise on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:19:29 PM EST

    There's that understanding again...  If you'd watched O'Reilly (like I have) you'd realize that he's playing from the religious card from two aspects.  1>  It's "fun" to stick it in the eye of the "liberal left" who wanted all religion out of schools, but now want it back on their terms, and 2> It's unpatriotic to promote your enemies beliefs in a time of war.  But you can't "say" #2 (no matter how conservative Fox is...), so you fall back to #1 and defend from there.

    As an "American" I had a santitized version of American history shoved down my throat through HS.  Where the US won every war, righted every wrong, and fulfills its bright promise as savior of the universe.  The sanitized version is required by law.

    What, your country doesn't spin its own history?

    There's no other REAL study beyond that in the public schools.  Colleges take your exact view that they've learned all about American exploits and need to be told the "truth" about other cultures.  About how communists have really nice countries where everybody loves each other and its not like the "evil" Corporate America(r).

    I bet you don't even know that America air-bombed its own city in the 1920's to put down a black rebellion.  I'd say 100% of white America doesn't know this, and probably 75% of black America doesn't either.

    Or that lynch mobs continued, legally, up through the 1950's.  (Used to be as much fun as an ice cream social... they even took pictures...)

    But no, it's more important that our freshmen have a better understanding of Islam so we can deal with those issues...


    [ Parent ]

    Link please (3.00 / 1) (#147)
    by paxtech on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 08:38:06 PM EST

    I bet you don't even know that America air-bombed its own city in the 1920's to put down a black rebellion. I'd say 100% of white America doesn't know this, and probably 75% of black America doesn't either.

    You know, if you're going to reference something and make a point about how hardly anyone knows about it, it'd be good to provide a link so we can at least attempt to rectify our ignorance. I did a quick Google search and couldn't find anything based on that sparse information.
    --
    "Eggs or pot, either one." -- Ignignot
    [ Parent ]

    Need to improve your google searching :) (5.00 / 2) (#173)
    by El Zahir on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 10:34:47 PM EST

    I believe the event he's refering to is the Tulsa massacre of 1921.

    Some links:

    http://www.ideajournal.com/allen-tulsa.html

    http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=archive&s=1921tulsa

    http://www.africana.com/DailyArticles/index_20010719.htm

    http://www.cultural-expressions.com/thesis/blackwallstreet.htm

    That should give a good spread of opinion about the event, which I'd never heard of before I saw these k5 posts. The aerial bombing does not appear to have been commited buy the Army or National Guard, but by private citizens (possibly with the support or at the request of local law enforcement) dropping explosives from their planes, dynamite or nitro... there does not seem to exist any comprehensive history of the event.

    It might well qualify as the US's biggest black eye of the 20th century.

    Although I'd still say it was MacArthur turning tanks loose on US Army veterans... (See the Bonus Army, summer of 1932)

    For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled. - Richard Feynman


    [ Parent ]
    Ah thanks (nt) (none / 0) (#204)
    by paxtech on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 12:24:39 AM EST


    --
    "Eggs or pot, either one." -- Ignignot
    [ Parent ]
    Sorry 'bout that... (none / 0) (#206)
    by Skywise on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 12:35:12 AM EST

    It didn't occur to me to dig up some links.  I was referring to Tulsa.  I went through both High School and College without ever hearing of peep of it.  Didn't learn of it until a few years ago when a black friend told me about it one night over drinks while we were discussing history and the US having never been "bombed".  Although he told me that it was the local national guard that had performed the bombing... it was very difficult to get information on it.

    [ Parent ]
    Maybe it is more important now (none / 0) (#154)
    by Steeltoe on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 09:08:36 PM EST

    Considering that someone high up in the US-hierarchy has decided that the new enemy is to be fundamentalistic muslims (terrorists), one book about the issue might not be too much for the freshmen to read..? Heck, if even the president would read something like that, maybe he wouldn't start offending a fifth of the world..

    What I don't understand is all this fuss about that one university issuing ONE book to its freshmen. This is all a big waste of energy. I really didn't want to start reading this crap, and now I know I shouldn't.

    Explore the Art of Living

    [ Parent ]

    you're lucky to learn anything in US high school (none / 0) (#301)
    by Shren on Mon Aug 12, 2002 at 10:17:20 AM EST

    nt

    [ Parent ]
    Yeah, what if? (4.75 / 4) (#98)
    by spcmanspiff on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:01:12 PM EST

    What if the book was about the Christian religion?

    What if the school was being sued in federal court for including mandatory readings as a class asignment?

    "Understanding" is a side point. Academic freedom is the issue. You're free to disagree with what they're teaching and to go to a different school, but to go to court to stop it is another thing altogether.

    And if that was the point O'Reilly was trying to make, why didn't he just put it that way? The crap about "Mein Kaumpf" smacks of thoughtless made-for-TV sensationalist mock-outrage.

     

    [ Parent ]

    I agree... (5.00 / 1) (#112)
    by Skywise on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:24:34 PM EST

    But "the law" as it's been tried in the courts is that the state funding cannot support religion in any way or form.  UNC is a "State" sponsored school.
    Ergo...

    [ Parent ]
    Cut and dried, eh? (4.00 / 1) (#125)
    by spcmanspiff on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:40:15 PM EST

    Please define "support".

    You do realize that religious student organizations get university funds, right?

    Whether this particular book, taught in this particular context, is endorsing Islam rather than examining it seems to be a difficult thing to prove.

    But, because it's Islam, the pundits dive in like chickens at a pecking party.

     

    [ Parent ]

    What is really funny is that... (4.00 / 1) (#131)
    by Caton on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:49:36 PM EST

    ...here in France, each time a religion has been stupidly attacked like that, more people started studying it, to understand why it was attacked. And each time, the number of conversions to that religion increased.

    I bet this incident will cause a number of conversions to Islam higher than the number of freshmen who would have read that book. I don't think that was the intent of the people who sued.

    ---
    As long as there's hope...
    [ Parent ]

    No they don't... (none / 0) (#276)
    by Skywise on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 03:23:05 AM EST

    Quasi-religious organizatinos do, but only when the religion is a side-effect of the club.  Jewish groups, and Muslim groups do because that's a race of people with one religion.  Religious groups can use classrooms and such (to hold services), but never get support funding from State colleges.
    (I'll admit I could be wrong on this, but they quietly stopped my high school's "Hi-C" club because it was religious and posed legal problems (Hi-C is a Christian Choir club), and a search on google for Catholic College Clubs turned up only clubs in Catholic based private Colleges.  And I'm 100% positive that there's no such thing as a university sponsored Scientology club, and not for lack of trying...)

    [ Parent ]
    Not Support (4.33 / 3) (#136)
    by Dolohov on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:54:33 PM EST

    Yes, but the book in question isn't any kind of evangelical literature, it's a book about a religion from the outside. More than that, the book has been observed to be a good one for understanding the opinion in the Muslim world about the United States and terrorism in general, and damn me, but that seems like a pretty worthy goal.

    I am a strong supporter of the separation of church and state. People should not be made to be felt un-American for either holding or not holding particular religious beliefs. But you can't tell me that that separation should be used to insulate people from even the mention of religion in a decidedly secular manner.

    [ Parent ]

    Pathetic (none / 0) (#152)
    by Oh Man on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 08:58:21 PM EST

    US culture is already more isolated from the rest of the world then that of any other western country I know. Compare the news in US with any given European country. In US there is virtualy no mention of the rest of the world except on issues that directly involve US. Same is true of education (history, geography, languages in particular where American ignorance is almost legendary), popular culture (Europe produces more movies annualy then Holywood but no more then one or two find the way to the Us movie theaters), music etc..

    When reading posts like this, it is too easy to conclude that Americans are frightened, xenophobic, insecure, miserable people, which I know they are not, so the poster must be an exception.

    [ Parent ]

    Have you been outside of Europe? (none / 0) (#188)
    by gmol on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 11:27:35 PM EST

    Goto India, China or Japan (= a good chunk of the real world).

    I could elaborate on the particular xenophobisms exhibited, I'd bet $100US that if I were a forienger in a country and wanted to get some civil treatment, Canada, then America would be the first places I'd go.

    [ Parent ]

    Many good books (none / 0) (#184)
    by aspartame on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 11:06:04 PM EST

    I'm sure the books you list are all important and interesting. Since you have such definite opinions about which books are more important than others, I suggest you take up teaching. That way, it will actually be your decision which books your students are required to read.

    --
    180 times sweeter than sugar
    [ Parent ]
    Losing the freedom to study independentely? (3.60 / 10) (#76)
    by bigbtommy on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:24:16 PM EST

    Watch out UNC students - the Thought Police are coming to drag you off to the Ministry of Love and torture you for thinking.

    USA 2002, under the influence of the "War against Islam" is slowly becoming Orwell's 1984. During war-time, the government can pass anything, and if you disagree then it doesn't mean that your thinking rationally, it means that your committing treason.

    Screw patriotism... free speech forever.

    What's that Mr Policeman?... no... I deny everything.
    -- bbCity.co.uk - When I see kids, I speed up

    Look deeper... (4.25 / 4) (#79)
    by Skywise on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:33:22 PM EST

    The new laws aren't coming from the "thought police" ...  It's a side-effect.

    I think you're seeing 50 years of deep-seated, long simmering racism beginning to rear its head from under the covers of a lifetime of another kind of "thought police".

    (IE Yugoslavia when the USSR fell, the old religious wars came right back...)

    [ Parent ]

    Ignorance == Strength (4.33 / 3) (#107)
    by bigbtommy on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:15:27 PM EST

    If your ignorant enough to believe anything the US Gov says, your being Strong, and Patriotic.

    Anyway, the sound of this news just sounds like the American Crazed Christians Brigade are getting a bit edgy and aren't too happy that tommorows college students might have been exposed to, you know, other religions. Anyway, at least this time the Crazed Christians Brigade aren't trying to tell me Harry Potter is Satan incarnate, and to go and burn Pokemon cards.

    Don't worry kids - normal service will soon be resumed.
    -- bbCity.co.uk - When I see kids, I speed up
    [ Parent ]

    Flip it... (4.00 / 2) (#116)
    by Skywise on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:29:23 PM EST

    Although the Bush Administration is establishing these laws... the PEOPLE are all too happy to let them have this power... including letting airport security personnel force women to drink their own breast milk to make sure it's not "poison". (In a weird bit of serendipity, see yesterday's O'Reilly show for that...)

    It's not because the Bush administration is lulling people to sleep.  It's because the people are out for blood, and are all too willing to sign away liberties to get it.

    [ Parent ]

    Why... (1.84 / 13) (#110)
    by FuriousXGeorge on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:22:29 PM EST

    do you hate America so much?

    --
    -- FIELDISM NOW!
    [ Parent ]

    I don't hate America. (3.75 / 4) (#134)
    by bigbtommy on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:52:22 PM EST

    A great country it could be - but unfortunately it is a great example of democracy not working. That moron GW Bush is an example of democrac not working.

    It's just that people are giving up their liberties for a pathetic "War against Islam". Which has so far done nothing apart from kill lots of innocent Afghans.

    They complain about terrorism (11/9/2001), yet they fund terrorism (IRA).

    The White House is a sham run with no respect for people. Vote Republican? Vote Democrat? Neither is going to do anything, so what's the point.

    And we wonder why people, certainly in Europe, are spreading to the extreme, radical, fascist parties (Jean Marie Le-Pen, the BNP/National Front etc).

    The world is fucked. Full stop. Giving up our liberties is going to make it worse.
    -- bbCity.co.uk - When I see kids, I speed up
    [ Parent ]

    If you going to do that, (5.00 / 1) (#170)
    by binaryalchemy on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 10:26:05 PM EST

    you need to post the link, or your just going to get modded into oblivion.
    ------
    Defending the GPL from a commercial perspective is like defending the Microsft E
    [
    Parent ]
    O'Reilly is not making his job easier (3.33 / 3) (#87)
    by Delirium on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 06:46:46 PM EST

    There are some legitimate concerns over what exactly should be the level of mandatory religious study in public schools (including public universities). But instead of discussing that, O'Reilly went off about some nonsense of "our enemy's religion" and his Mein Kampf analogy. That's completely beside the point; if anything, the fact that many people who hate the U.S. claim to be doing so in the name of Islam makes it much more important to study Islam.

    I'm not entirely sure it's a good idea though. From my understanding of it, this is a mandatory course for all students, and is not a comparative religions course. I don't see that understanding Islam should necessarily be that high on the university's list of priorities. I'd be all for offering it as an optional class though (or a mandatory class within majors where it would be relevant), or for making it part of a mandatory comparative religions class (it'd do many people good to have at least a very basic knowledge of all the major world religions).

    Sure he is. (4.33 / 6) (#117)
    by spcmanspiff on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:30:27 PM EST

    Increased controversy means that ratings go up.

    Sensationalist sound bites like this have steered millions to Fox's website and news outlets.

    Furthermore, by consistently siding with one side of the ideological spectrum with this sloganeering, he builds a cadre of loyal viewers.

    A journalist from twenty years ago would be astounded: crank up the volume on shallow controversy at the cost of real analysis of complicated issues ... and rake in the dough.

    Give that man a raise.

     

    [ Parent ]

    Astounded? (5.00 / 1) (#123)
    by Dolohov on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:38:27 PM EST

    A journalist from twenty years ago would be astounded: crank up the volume on shallow controversy at the cost of real analysis of complicated issues ... and rake in the dough.

    Yeah, but a journalist from 70 years ago would be calling O'Reilly mealy-mouthed and amateurish, so maybe it all averages out.

    [ Parent ]

    True enough.... (5.00 / 4) (#129)
    by spcmanspiff on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:45:54 PM EST

    I'll take off the rose-colored "pull a number out of ass, and assume that things were better back in the day" glasses now.

    *Sigh*

     

    [ Parent ]

    Why not? (4.50 / 2) (#120)
    by Dolohov on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:32:10 PM EST

    When it comes right down to it, the university itself is the sole arbiter of what is appropriate for education at that school, state money or no. If they believe that an understanding of Islam is important in order to become an "educated person", then so be it. I would rather they make such a value judgement overtly so as to allow students who disagree to either go elsewhere, or prepare their class-time arguments against it in advance.

    [ Parent ]
    priorities (none / 0) (#329)
    by tgibbs on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 10:09:38 PM EST

    I don't see that understanding Islam should necessarily be that high on the university's list of priorities.
    Wouldn't you say that an educated person should have some sort of understanding of major global political/ethnic/religious conflicts? Considering that Islam plays a fundamental role in current events, has done so for many years, and is likely to continue to do so for many years in the future, the university would be defaulting upon its educational responsibilities if it did not encourage its students to understand Islam.

    [ Parent ]
    I don't believe it's mandatory (4.50 / 4) (#113)
    by Perianwyr on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:24:44 PM EST

    The article mentions it's on a summer reading list for freshmen, and that it was put in due to student demand for more information about Islam.

    Can't really argue with that.

    Take it from the source (5.00 / 1) (#226)
    by dave114 on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 04:21:07 AM EST

    Right on UNC's summer reading program website it notes that this course is required.

    [ Parent ]
    Printing (4.44 / 9) (#126)
    by djotto on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:41:03 PM EST

    Do muslim societies look the way they do for distinctively religious reasons? Why don't Western Europe and the U.S. look that way? Do the differences have something to do with the particular character of Islamic and Christian beliefs?

    I would argue that the key difference, the thing that really allowed Europe to overtake the Islamic world, and pull away at an increasing rate, was the invention of movable type in the middle of the fifteenth century. Starting with Gutenburg's single printing shop in 1440 or so, printing spread like wildfire across Europe, until by 1500 it's estimated that 15-20 million books had been printed.

    Printing allowed ideas to disseminate much more effectively that the old system of hand-copying books, and directly led to the spread of Protestantism and the decimation of the power of the Catholic Church.

    And yet, when the presses hit the Muslim world... nothing happened. Nothing. Printing wasn't used there until the nineteenth century, in India, so in many ways the West had a 400 year head start.

    In his book on Gutenburg, John Man suggests that this is because Islam puts much greater store in the oral tradition. Qu'ran translates as "recitation" - it was only written down as an aid to memory, and written copies were not definitive. In fact, the Egyptian standard edition first printed in the 1920s was produced not from a written copy, but 14 separate recitations.

    This idea that something was never truly learnt until it was memorised suffused all of Islamic culture... leading to a sense of disdain, possibly even hostility towards the printed word. And of course, without cheap and plentiful books final authority always rested with the religious leaders - something the Catholics didn't realise until it was too late.

    So, in summary, the ability to get ahold of information, to spread new ideas quickly and accurately, is the real strength of Western culture. Trying to ban a book, in any way, is a hateful thing, and always does more harm than good.



    Recommended reading: (5.00 / 1) (#132)
    by spcmanspiff on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:49:46 PM EST

    Guns, Germs, and Steel.

    It's not gospel, but it provides some very compelling arguments as to why Europe "won."

    If movable type was all it took to dominate the world, then why wasn't China on top hundreds of years before Gutenberg was a twinkle in his mommy's eye?

     

    [ Parent ]

    Pictograms (5.00 / 1) (#140)
    by djotto on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 08:06:05 PM EST

    Because the Chinese writing system doesn't lend itself to movable type. You need a phonetic system with a small number of symbols, not a pictographic one with thousands. (The Koreans were the first to use movable metal type, but even with a simplified character set, they had to deal with 40,000 symbols.)

    I think that the invention of the printing press created an environment in which other ideas - scientific, technical, philosophical, etc. - could flourish.

    I'll be sure to look out for a copy of that book, though; thanks.

    [ Parent ]

    Wealth and Poverty of Nations (none / 0) (#235)
    by cam on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 09:06:51 AM EST

    Guns, Germs, and Steel.

    Another is "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations" by David S. Landes. It is long winded and reads more like a history of the worlds economy/cultures than a thesis on cultural and geographical reasons for disparitive economic growth.

    cam
    Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
    [ Parent ]

    It's also confusing. (4.66 / 3) (#138)
    by Juan Rojo on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 07:59:37 PM EST

    It's easy to confuse/mispell/misunderstand:
    "Your enemy's religion"
    with
    "Your enemy religion"


    I know it sounds stupid, but it's something people may easily asociate the wrong way, and i believe that such is probably the intention of those groups, by marginalizing all islam as the enemy. After 9/11 and the invasion to afghanistan, many newspapers and important media networks titled the situation as "war against islam", for which many of them received a strong criticism.

    Your enemy, religion (none / 0) (#149)
    by wytcld on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 08:52:30 PM EST

    Juan Rojo says
    It's easy to confuse/mispell/misunderstand: "Your enemy's religion" with "Your enemy religion"

    As I understand it, the book in question has a bunch of the "peace and love" excerpts from the Koran, thus giving the impression that it's not the ideology of an empire forged in military expansion of which Mohammed was emperor - a cruel expansion in which there was little hesitation about killing anyone who refused to convert. Other passages in the Koran are explicit in this.

    Now, the truth is that many good people have been born since in Islamic lands, and have gone some distance to make a purse out of the sow's ear that Mohammed left them. And the further truth is that it's good for students of the former Confederacy to get the nursery-school introduction to the notion that other religions may be as "good" as theirs is. Because the fact of the matter is that slavery is blessed by the God in the Bible; that, while Christianity is a far more humanistic ideology than Islam, it's still not good enough to serve as a reliable ethical guide in today's and tomorrow's world, so:

    Until such time as a better religion comes along than any the world's seen so far, your enemy is religion.

    [ Parent ]

    Slavery? (3.00 / 2) (#155)
    by Caton on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 09:20:32 PM EST

    In A History of Civilizations, Fernand Braudel has a very interesting point about slavery and Islam.

    The European and American countries took about 14 millions slaves from Africa between 1500 and 1850. There are Blacks living in the US, South-America, the Caribbeans, actually all places that bought those slaves.

    500 000 slaves were shipped annually to Arabic countries in the same period. That's 175 millions.

    There are no Blacks in Arabic countries.

    ---
    As long as there's hope...
    [ Parent ]

    Islam and slavery (none / 0) (#178)
    by cr8dle2grave on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 10:44:06 PM EST

    Are you sure that the estimate of 175 million included slaves imported exclusively from Africa? As I understand the Islamic slave trade African slaves were relatively few and primarily employed in a domestic capacity and as concubines -- possibly explaining the lack of black African appearing peoples in the Middle East -- whereas Turkic and Caucasian slaves were imported in great numbers to be employed in primarily a martial capacity.

    ---
    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


    [ Parent ]
    Yes, that's only from Africa (NT) (none / 0) (#232)
    by Caton on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 06:13:31 AM EST



    ---
    As long as there's hope...
    [ Parent ]
    more humanistic? (5.00 / 1) (#158)
    by delmoi on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 09:33:41 PM EST

    How so. They both seem pretty shitty, the diffrence is just in what people ignore.
    --
    "'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
    [ Parent ]
    The Bible on Slavery (3.66 / 3) (#191)
    by RadiantMatrix on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 11:35:36 PM EST

    slavery is blessed by the God in the Bible
    What most people fail to understand is that "slavery" in the Judaic system was not at all what slavery was in the past few centuries.

    Judaic slaves were people who sold themselves into slavery to pay a debt -- they could then be sold to other masters, but once the debt was paid, they must be given the choice to become free. Masters were required to treat slaves well (though this wasn't always the reality), feeding, housing, and clothing them decently. Also, every so many years (some multiple of seven, IIRC) all slaves were freed, and would only become slaves again if they again sold themselves.

    Unfortunately, the Judaic people didn't always adhere to these laws, but in all conditions for slaves were not very much worse than the condition of general laborers. Slaves during the Slave Trade of more recent times were treated in ways that would have brought death to Judaic slave-owners.

    The treatment slaves in the US was justified by a selective interpretation of various biblical passages -- the end result being the belief that the white Christian was more human and more holy than the black "cursed" race. Even the idea that the dark-skinned of the world are somehow cursed by God is a fabrication.

    What happened during the Slave Trade was a human travesty -- and much of that travesty was perpetrated by Christians and even blessed by the Church. However, to say that those involved were following the Bible is only half true -- they were following what they wanted the Bible to say.

    --
    $w="q\$x";for($w){s/q/\:/;s/\$/-/;s/x/\)\n/;}print($w)
    [ Parent ]

    I expect UNC will lose (2.00 / 4) (#141)
    by seanic on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 08:13:50 PM EST

    "O'Reilly's analogy is laughable. Mein Kampf is not the sacred text of a major world religion"

    May I point out that neither is the book UNC assigned.  The analogy may not be as laughable as one might think inasmuch as both books might provide some insight into the thinking of certain individuals we may disagree with.  Additionally, given the Qur'an also defines Shari`ah law one might argue its validity as a legal and political text.  This fact would seem to refute the religious objection, however other religious texts deal with similar topics and are seldom classified as anything but religion.

    I question the authority of UNC to mandate this book, or any one book for that matter, given it, UNC, is a publicly funded institution and the book may be contrary to an individuals personal beliefs, desires or interest.  The option of writing an essay explaining why one doesn't want to read book is illegitimate given that one can not describe reasons for not wanting to read something they know little or nothing about.  How do you justify or prove something you don't know?

    I have no arguement with a mandated reading assignment but if a student isn't interested in the topic they might as well read a phone book or a word list.  A public institution should allow for differing interests.  I would suggest a reading list with several books in various subjects and require that two books be selected, each in a different subject.

    I also question the motives behind the current selection given the liberal trend in academia.  I admit that I know little of the book and make no specific charges, however the timing is definately suspect.

    Finally, O'Reilly did conceed that Dr. Kirkpatrick made some "very provocative" points.

    --
    "The majority of the stupid is invincible and guaranteed for all time. The terror of their tyranny is, however, alleviated by their lack of consistency" -- Albert Einstein

    What? (none / 0) (#190)
    by Eight Star on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 11:31:16 PM EST

    When I went to college, I was assigned lots of books I wasn't interested in, and for that matter, they promoted ideas I didn't agree with, in classes I had to take. I had to read and understand them, and be able to explain the ideas they proposed. That's what college is about.

    Islam is a hot topic these days I don't find it surprising or alarming that a college would want to make sure it's students to have a good grasp of what it's about. In fact, for some time I've thought that schools should teach the basics of judao-christian theology and history, as it's a huge part of our culture, and many are just unable to understand references that might be made to it. (I knew a high schooler who thought that jesus and moses were the same person)

    [ Parent ]

    Exactly (none / 0) (#237)
    by seanic on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 10:19:59 AM EST

    "I was assigned lots of books...in classes I had to take."

    That is part of my point.  You did it because they were part of a class assignment for which you received credit.  As the Post pointed out, "groups of 20 to 25 freshmen are to discuss the book in two-hour, non-credit seminars."  They might as well require a softball game as a book reading.  Some quick math reveals that two hours gives each person about five to six minutes to present and discuss their thoughts, which is insufficient, in my estimation, to promote reasoned discussion.  My guess is that the original purpose of the seminars was to provide an intellectual forum for a meet and greet in small groups.  While I have no problem with sponsoring such events or even requiring them, I feel anything that carries no weight toward the goal of obtaining a degree has no justification to be mandated.

    Please let me be absolutely clear, I have no disagreement with mandating a book, any book, in a class.  My issue is not the topic but the policy.  I have a problem with assigning busy work, which is what this policy is.  There is absolutely no substance to this assignment and no credit for its completion.  Am I to assume there can also be no penalty for not doing it?
    --
    "The majority of the stupid is invincible and guaranteed for all time. The terror of their tyranny is, however, alleviated by their lack of consistency" -- Albert Einstein
    [ Parent ]

    Well... (none / 0) (#207)
    by Nikau on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 12:40:44 AM EST

    "O'Reilly's analogy is laughable. Mein Kampf is not the sacred text of a major world religion" May I point out that neither is the book UNC assigned.

    Indeed. The book assigned by UNC is an analysis of the [Koran, Qu'ran, insert your preferred spelling here], and its effect from a more technical point of view (meaning how it's written, etc). How is this bad as assigned reading? If nothing else it can provoke thought and create some interesting discussion.

    I admit that I know little of the book and make no specific charges, however the timing is definately suspect.

    If you're referring to the timing regarding September 11, then you're absolutely right. What better time to study this book than now when everyone could use a better understanding of Islam in some form or another?

    Finally, O'Reilly did conceed that Dr. Kirkpatrick made some "very provocative" points.

    If you look at my earlier comment you'll see that I don't think much of O'Reilly right now. I think he said this more because he had to, than because he meant it. Or if he did mean it, he meant "provacative" as "something I don't like". O'Reilly does seem convinced he's totally right about this. Ah, well.

    ---
    I have a zero-tolerance policy for zero-tolerance policies, and this policy itself is the exception to itself which allows me to have it without being contradictory. - Happy Monkey
    [ Parent ]

    To clarify (none / 0) (#239)
    by seanic on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 10:55:28 AM EST

    How is this bad as assigned reading?

    It's not. It's probably good material. I didn't say otherwise. Perhaps my answer to an earlier reply will clarify my objections.

    What better time to study this book than now when everyone could use a better understanding of Islam in some form or another?

    You're right it's not a timing issue as I stated previously. I still question their motives.

    I agree with your analysis of O'Reilly's rant. It seems as though he went into the interview, shall we say a little, unprepared. IIRC, he did a similar thing with the whole pledge "under God" thing.

    I still think UNC will lose, which is not to say that I think a lawsuit is warranted but that seems to be the way the wind is blowing. Unfortunately none of it addresses my issues, but then I don't have to go there.

    --
    "The majority of the stupid is invincible and guaranteed for all time. The terror of their tyranny is, however, alleviated by their lack of consistency" -- Albert Einstein
    [ Parent ]
    Bill O'Reilly (3.33 / 3) (#148)
    by DarkZero on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 08:38:20 PM EST

    Considering that Bill O'Reilly backs up just about everything that he says on his television show on the web and probably does the same thing for his radio show, I'd love to see where he said this and in what context. Bill O'Reilly comparing a book on Islam to Mein Kampf is about as out of character as Jerry Falwell praising the ACLU for fighting against the oppression of abortion doctors and homosexuals. The only thing that I've ever heard O'Reilly say in relation to US colleges and Islam was about the fact that the regulations and records for fundraisers at most colleges are so disorganized that the administrations of those colleges are regularly shocked to find that they've thrown several fundraisers for Islamic charities that are being investigated for connections to Al Qaeda, Hamas, and similar groups. I've never seen him make any criticism of the curriculum, despite the leap in the prevalence and attendence of Islamic college classes across the country.

    Re: Bill O'Reilly (none / 0) (#193)
    by Therac-25 on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 11:46:30 PM EST

    And you're too lazy to go see for yourself or something...?
    --
    "If there's one thing you can say about mankind / There's nothing kind about man."
    [ Parent ]
    re: Bill O'Reilly (none / 0) (#199)
    by TeraGram on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 11:50:24 PM EST

    I'd love to see where he said this and in what context.

    I believe this is the interview in question. Bill interviews Dr. Robert Kirkpatrick.

    [ Parent ]
    Shouldn't we have read Mine Kampf? (4.50 / 4) (#157)
    by delmoi on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 09:30:20 PM EST

    I mean. Isn't it a good idea to 'know your enemy'?
    --
    "'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
    Yes, and "Love Thy Enemy" as well... (none / 0) (#186)
    by slur on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 11:16:35 PM EST

    Fundamentalists of all stripes aren't religious people, they're just fanatics.  Christ attempted to teach the principle of loving kindness to his followers.  Even so, he was constantly saying to his disciples, "When are you fools going to get a clue?"  The culture has grown even more literal and judgmental over the last 2000 years, and it appears ignorance continues to thrive under the guise of "fundamental" religion.


    |
    | slur was here
    |

    [ Parent ]
    Fundamentalists probably are religious people... (none / 0) (#214)
    by jjayson on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 01:25:22 AM EST

    they just might not be faithful people.

    -j
    "It's text. It's mostly anonymous. It pretends to be diverse. It steals little boys' innocence. It's the Internet. I'm a 12 year old Asian girl from
    [ Parent ]
    Its moot now anyway - the politicos settled it... (4.81 / 11) (#164)
    by baptiste on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 09:48:58 PM EST

    The lawsuit is a waste of time anyway. NC's closed minded legislators have voted an amendment to a spending bill that would forbid UNC from forcing students to read this book using state money unless they give equal time to "all knwon religions". Yeah like that's feasible.

    It is crap like this that REALLY makes me hate religious conservatives. Like its gonna kill you to read about another religion? You're going to college for an education - nowhere does it say that all the course work has to adhere to your sensibilities. Way to show the world you have a closed mind. I can just imagine if the roles were flipped and an Islamic student was suing to not read about Christianity. Boy would there be an uproar then!

    I'm getting REALLY tired of this 'thou shalt not question the status quo because we're at war' Oh please. We're not at war. We have some special forces troops scouring the desert for some terrorists in caves. Bush only says its a 'war' to try and make sure the mindless hordes elect more closeminded bigots to Congress this year.

    It really sickens me that people like the students behind this lawsuit are Americans. Catch a clue you idiots, the whole world is not gonna be like your elitest, perfect conservative world upbringing. You're gonna be asked to do things you'd rather not do and you know what? You just might learn something. Its called tolerance.

    The jackals that flew those planes in September were a bunch of radicals, just like Tim McVeigh was a radical. Just because the media makes it seem like every Muslim is a terrorist doesn't make it so and the fact that we have a few troops running around in the desert doesn't mean we all have to act like close minded bigots. Learning about other cultures is what being American is all about.

    Do I want to kick some terrorist ass and make 'them' pay for what they did - sure who wouldn't. But I'm not so naive that I think lashing out against all Muslims is gonna make the world a safer place - instead it'll probably make things worse.
    --
    Top Substitutions For 'Under God' In The Pledge Of Allegiance

    Through reading we become liberated. (4.50 / 2) (#169)
    by bigbtommy on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 10:21:45 PM EST

    Whether you like the views expressed in a book, reading it will help you form opinions and in general get an education. This is shown to a lesser degree on Kuro5hin - where everyone has very strong political opinions.

    Are you going to sue me because you don't agree? Yes - then litigation culture has gone too far. When we live in a world where you can sue McDonalds and competitors if you become obese, parents sue the school due to injuries in sports, and where personal injury claims are the most advertised service on TV. Now, if you CHOOSE to go to a college, you may be forced to read books that you don't agree with. OK - don't agree with them then. They are asking that you read them. That doesn't mean you have to agree with them.

    It is not a violation of the Constitution's section on freedom of religion having to read a book about the Qu'ran. In the same way that it is not a violation of the Constitution's section on freedom to bear arms to read about people who want more stringent firearms control.

    Finally a straight-minded person who has broken the cycle of everyone lapping up Dubya's words as if they were the fricking Gospel or something. Congratulations.

    A few days after GWB pronounced this "War on Terror", comments were coming out from the American Public saying "We're gonna kick Islam's ass". Typical lowest-common-denominator USA trash. Actually very true - this is the same group of people who elected George W. Bush.

    The old adage "Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups." Just think of the Average Americans intelligence. Now remember that 50% of people are less intelligent than that.
    -- bbCity.co.uk - When I see kids, I speed up
    [ Parent ]

    That's not what 'moot' means (none / 0) (#262)
    by gmol on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 09:34:44 PM EST

    It is in fact "unmoot" now, i.e. not really a valid debateable given a decision has been made. Am I missing something in my vocab or interpitation?

    [ Parent ]
    Definition of Moot (none / 0) (#310)
    by Argel on Mon Aug 12, 2002 at 06:16:57 PM EST

    Deprived of practical significance : made abstract or purely academic. (From www.webster.com; the adjective form, 2nd definition).

    [ Parent ]
    This time, the Fundies have a point. (2.88 / 9) (#176)
    by heatherj on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 10:41:16 PM EST

    I have heard of several such incidents since 9/11, with one of the most egregious listed here: http://198.64.129.160/religion/islam.htm (Please cut & paste-having trouble with the HTML-sorry!) When you are trying to tell if something is right or not, try the same thing from another point of view. What would happen if a public school or public university recommended or required ANY kind of education on Christianity? Frequently, the fictional (find it in the actual First Amendment) "wall of separation between church and state" is enforced to the point of preventing Christians from the free exercise of their religion. People would be having a fit if a Muslim girl were not allowed to wear a veil to school, but Christian kids are disciplined for saying grace before lunch or choosing to read the Bible during a free choice reading period. Much of our current religion policy in our public schools is in place due to court cases brought by non-Christians who had moral problems participating in practices rooted in majority Christian culture. For many of these people, not being forced to participate in a pre-football game prayer, or whatever, was not enough. They felt it necessary to prevent the free exercise of Christian religion in public schools, by banning such things altogether. If it is wrong to even have Christian practices HAPPENING around a non-Christian kid, it is certainly wrong to ask Christian kids to role-play Muslim stuff, ore require them to read the Koran, or to participate in any other religious ritual I have seen taught as "multiculturalism" in public schools. Note: My own religious views run between agnostic and Deist. I am not a Fundamentalist Christian. I have merely taken time to listen to their reasoning on controversial matters without prejudging them. This takes some effort, as it is not a viewpoint you will get on the mainstream media. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

    Allow me to be skeptical... (5.00 / 2) (#200)
    by magney on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 11:54:52 PM EST

    but Christian kids are disciplined for saying grace before lunch or choosing to read the Bible during a free choice reading period.
    Show me a school that did one of those things, and I'll show you a school that's in for a serious legal smackdown as soon as a judge even looks at the case. Both of those are clear and unequivocal violations of the First Amendment rights of the students in question.

    Incidentally, can you show me a school that did either of those things? A news article from a reputable source, please, not just an ACLJ press release.

    Do I look like I speak for my employer?
    [ Parent ]

    Not my experience at all (4.66 / 3) (#209)
    by Neil Rubin on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 01:00:42 AM EST

    What would happen if a public school or public university recommended or required ANY kind of education on Christianity?
    Interesting you should mention that. Not too long ago (1994), I graduated from a public (meaning state-funded) school in the suburbs of Chicago. In one of my English classes, we were required to read parts of both the Book of Genesis and the Gospel of John. As such, we were reading some of the most important religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. (Incidentally, one of the parts of Genesis we read was the story of the near-sacrifice of Isaac. This directly contradicts the Quran.)

    The texts were treated as the highly influential works of literature they are. On the other hand, I remember feeling that overtly religious discussion was not really welcome.

    In my experience, the sort of repression of religion that you describe is pure fantasy. There were, for example, officially recognized religious student groups on campus, which publicized meetings using school resources and had faculty advisors just like any other student group. The most prominent such group was Christian. Things may be different elsewhere.

    [ Parent ]

    For the love of god, use <P> tags. [n/t] (none / 0) (#210)
    by RyoCokey on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 01:03:05 AM EST



    The troops returning home are worried. "We've lost the peace," men tell you. "We can't make it stick." - John Dos Passos
    [ Parent ]
    I don't follow your reasoning... (4.00 / 2) (#245)
    by dipipanone on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 01:14:00 PM EST

    The issue here is the way that the subject is taught. By having prayers in a classroom, you're engaging in the *practice* of a particular religion. By having someone read and understand the content of a particular religion, you're educating them *about* a substantive matter. The two things are very different -- particularly if the latter is accompanied by some critical commentary on the nature of those religious beliefs and on the accuracy of the truth-claims that adherents make about them.

    If schools were able to couch their teaching of Christianity in the same way, sticking to the demonstrable facts and leaving out (or telling the truth about) the unprovable supernatural claims, then I'd happily welcome such teaching.

    Similarly, I'd be perfectly happy for schools to allow prayer, provided they also allow ritual sacrifices for the satanist children in the school.

    I'm not a fundie Xtian either. I'm an atheist. Which I suppose makes me as good as a satanist to the fundies amongst you. Hence the need for better comparative religious education in US schools, I suppose.

    --
    Suck my .sig
    [ Parent ]
    religious studies != religion (5.00 / 5) (#183)
    by danny on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 11:05:33 PM EST

    This is just ridiculous, it's like saying a university can't teach politics because it shouldn't be backing particular parties. Comparative religion is an important subject, and an introduction to one of the world's major religions is a fairly obvious thing to include in a general studies requirement.

    I haven't read the Glover, but if anyone is after a good book on Islam, I rather liked Esposito's Islam: The Straight Path. I've reviewed a few other books on Islam as well.

    Danny.
    [900 book reviews and other stuff]

    Someone needs to read Sun Tzu (none / 0) (#194)
    by RadiantMatrix on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 11:46:36 PM EST

    questioned the purpose of making freshmen study 'our enemy's religion.'"
    If O'Reilly had read Sun Tzu's <u>The Art of War</u>, he would understand that the more someone knows about the enemy, the more prepared they are to fight.

    Besides, our "enemy" is "terrorism" and terrorism has no one religion.

    --
    $w="q\$x";for($w){s/q/\:/;s/\$/-/;s/x/\)\n/;}print($w)

    Someone needs to read Sun Tzu (4.66 / 3) (#196)
    by RadiantMatrix on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 11:47:25 PM EST

    questioned the purpose of making freshmen study 'our enemy's religion.'"
    If O'Reilly had read Sun Tzu's
      The Art of War
    , he would understand that the more someone knows about the enemy, the more prepared they are to fight.

    Besides, our "enemy" is "terrorism" and terrorism has no one religion.

    --
    $w="q\$x";for($w){s/q/\:/;s/\$/-/;s/x/\)\n/;}print($w)

    Or more importantly (5.00 / 1) (#219)
    by X3nocide on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 02:00:38 AM EST

    Understanding is an important step in the peace process. In a way, all war is civil war these days. At least in the "The war is over now, soldiers. These gentlemen are now our countrymen" kind of way. I don't pretend to know about Islam, but I do know that many believe Christians to be something like "Brothers of the Book." The idea of mortal enemies is an outdated concept that I thought went out when Christianity came in. Maybe I just read the wrong bible.

    pwnguin.net
    [ Parent ]
    To Bill O'Reilly ... (5.00 / 5) (#197)
    by pyramid termite on Fri Aug 09, 2002 at 11:49:33 PM EST

    ... your comment about the Koran and Mein Kampf is ignorant - not only of the Koran, but actually of Mein Kampf and why a person in the 1930's would have wanted to read it. To quote Alan Cranston -

    "So I talked to an editor friend of mine in New York, a Hearst editor named Amster Spiro, and suggested that I write and we publish an anti-Nazi version of Mein Kampf that would be the real book and would awaken Americans to the peril Hitler posed for us and the rest of the world. So we did that. I spent eight days [compiling] my version of Mein Kampf from the English language version that I now had, the original German language version, and another copy that had just appeared. A book was then selling for around three dollars normal price. Hitler was getting forty cents royalty for each copy that somebody bought that wasn't [even] the real thing. We proceeded to print in tabloid the version that I wrote, with a very lurid red cover showing Hitler carving up the world, and we sold it for ten cents on newsstands. It created quite a stir. Some Nazis went around knocking down newsstands that displayed it in St. Louis and the German part of New York and elsewhere in the country. We sold half a million copies in ten days and were immediately sued by Hitler's agents on the grounds we had violated his copyright, which we had done. We had the theory that [though] he had copyrighted Mein Kampf in Austria, he had destroyed Austria with his army, so we said he destroyed his copyright at the same time. Well, that didn't stand up in court, and a Connecticut judge ruled in Hitler's favor. No damages were assessed, but we had to stop selling the book. We got what was called an injunction. But we did wake up a lot of Americans to the Nazi threat."

    And that, Bill, is your refutation. And if Osama Bin Laden writes a book, I hope someone has the brains and the courage to publish it in English, here in America, so we can know our enemy better.

    On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
    What if Osama wrote a book in English... (5.00 / 1) (#233)
    by lucius on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 06:29:03 AM EST

    and a whole lot of people said "Hey, this guy's right!"

    [ Parent ]
    then maybe... (none / 0) (#302)
    by Run4YourLives on Mon Aug 12, 2002 at 02:13:55 PM EST

    he is.

     If you're that insecure about your countries/societies/belief systems that you're worried some madman might convince others of a better way, then maybe it's time you take a look at those same countries/societies/belief systems and ask yourself, why?

    It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
    [ Parent ]

    Damn i live living in North Carolina! (1.00 / 1) (#202)
    by ph0rk on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 12:14:57 AM EST

    People here tell it like it really is!
    [ f o r k . s c h i z o i d . c o m ]

    hi my name is bill o'reilly (1.00 / 1) (#203)
    by turmeric on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 12:15:05 AM EST

    i sure do have a shitload of people talking about me and the crazy shit i say. its kind of fun to get paid ranting, but why do i cry myself to sleep every night?

    You lose, Bill (3.33 / 3) (#208)
    by Skwirl on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 12:56:17 AM EST

    Someone needs to inform Mr. O'Reilly of Godwin's law.

    They should also tell him about academic freedom and religious tolerence.

    On the other hand, it seems incredibly silly to make every incoming freshman take the same non-credit seminar. It seems like college freshman should be able to design their own curriculum. It should go without saying that freaky Christian groups and radical, conservative TV shock jocks should keep their grubby little hands out of such decisions.

    --
    "Nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself." -- Herman Hesse

    Does he lose? (none / 0) (#249)
    by wademcclain on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 03:04:35 PM EST

    I always thought Godwin's law just meant that the argument was over, not that the nazi-invoker lost... Anybody know for sure?

    [ Parent ]
    Godwin's Law (none / 0) (#266)
    by Skwirl on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 11:41:04 PM EST

    Link

    --
    "Nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself." -- Herman Hesse
    [ Parent ]
    These aren't Conservatives, tolerance != advocacy (4.44 / 9) (#212)
    by Sloppy on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 01:12:49 AM EST

    I'm am getting tired of the word "conservative" being abused. There's nothing conservative about trying to keep your people from understanding other cultures. It's Republican, not conservative. Those aren't synonyms. (This is one of those situations where Republicans reveal their forbidden pinko delights. Krushchev would be proud.)

    BTW, Different rant: I remember when I was in high school, in a quasi-philosophy class, we read Job from the bible, a little Hindu stuff, and a few other religious texts. I was an atheist, and I didn't mind a bit, because I was learning about how certain cultures have approached certain problems. After all, it was school, and I was there to learn. You can educate people about something without indoctrinating them into it. (Just look at Operation Clambake. ;-)

    I hate how tolerating, or sometimes even mentioning something, is somehow equated with advocacy. If a school has students read a book about Islam, then it must mean that the school is teaching students to adopt Islam. If you want to legalize drugs, you must be in favor of drugs. If you protect Nazis' right to speak, you must be a Nazi. Usually these kinds of weird assertions get stated in way that goes something like, "What message would we be sending to the children?" So, as a superior alternative, we send them the message that we're numbskulls.
    "RSA, 2048, seeks sexy young entropic lover, for several clock cycles of prime passion..."

    Why aren't they conservatives? (5.00 / 1) (#241)
    by dogwalker on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 12:28:56 PM EST

    In terms of culture, a liberal is someone who takes a relativistic viewpoint and believes that there is value in learning about all cultures, and that the values of one should not be taken as being a priori better than those of another. A conservative is someone who identifies strongly with "their" culture, that its values are better than those of other cultures, and should be adhered to, as a tradition.

    I don't think I'm making a novel statement with the above -- it seems to be commonly accepted, as well as coming from the actual definitions of the word; conservative meaning risk-averse, or resistant to change.

    So it's not that a "true conservative" would keep people from understanding other cultures. It's just that they value defending their own culture more than they value being inundated with other cultures.


    --
    share and enjoy

    [ Parent ]

    Interesting... (4.66 / 3) (#215)
    by ariux on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 01:32:21 AM EST

    ...and highlights the fact that while George Bush may not be fighting a war against Muslims as such, the likes of Billy Graham sure seem to be.

    Muslim texts and studies should be neither more nor less teachable in state schools than those of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, or any other major world religion. That is, this assignment can be neither more nor less appropriate than, say, a study of Lutheran religious passages would be in its place.

    The state isn't supposed to try to eliminate religion from public life - it's just not allowed to take sides.

    What people don't get about O'Reilly (3.80 / 5) (#217)
    by Irobot on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 01:34:21 AM EST

    Think about what you'd do if you had a TV news/opinion show. Would it be like the NPR skit on Saturday Night Live? (Y'know, the one with "Shweaty Balls.") Monotone voices, bland topics, attempts at being "objective," and no conflict? Bleah...who wants to watch that? O'Reilly has an opinion show; the more buzz he can generate, the better his ratings. But he has to keep his opinions in line with a certain percentage of the viewing populace to keep a core audience.

    I compare his show to a reality TV show - once the jerk (and there's always at least one) gets voted off the show, it's no longer entertaining; it's just not as much fun to watch people have a polite and civil conversation. Since O'Reilly is the jerk, the entertainment "factor" is guaranteed. The bottom line - hold suspect anyone who makes such loud claims at being "fair and balanced." You just have to laugh at him when it's not, 'cuz there's nothing else you can really do...

    Irobot

    The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking one's self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous. -- Margot Fonteyn

    The question (4.00 / 2) (#243)
    by TheSleeper on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 12:56:45 PM EST

    What you say is true, but leaves us with a new question: Why do we permit a medium whose primary purpose is to deliver consumer eyeballs to soap and car and fast-food salesmen to exert such a profound influence on our public discourse?

    [ Parent ]

    It's easy (5.00 / 1) (#252)
    by Irobot on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 05:09:26 PM EST

    Why do we permit a medium whose primary purpose is to deliver consumer eyeballs to soap and car and fast-food salesmen to exert such a profound influence on our public discourse?
    Well, I look at this way - that core audience I mentioned is looking for reinforcement of their values; it's always easier to simply agree with a well-phrased opinion (and O'Reilly does produce some good rhetoric) than to think about it (cf. ditto-head). Those that disagree generally just get mad and proceed to feed the maw.

    What to do? Turn off the boob-tube. But we know that's not gonna happen anytime soon. It's just too easy to use it to fill in the silence...

    Irobot

    The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking one's self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous. -- Margot Fonteyn
    [ Parent ]

    O'Reilly = fucking moron (3.50 / 4) (#224)
    by Dphitz on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 04:18:14 AM EST

    This is a man who once said that the Ten Commandments was a religiously universal document that even Buddhists and Wiccans could live by and therefore posting it in schools and court rooms didn't violate church/state separation.  I don't give his opinion the time of day.  His choice of words is poor as it makes it sound like all Muslims are the enemy.

    As for freshmen being required to take this class: I'd rather see it as an elective than a requirement but I don't have a huge problem with it.  Islam in today's world plays a huge role in politics, foreign policy, the economy, etc. so I don't see this as an indoctrination of freshmen.  Why wouldn't you want to study your "enemy's" religion?  You could get a better idea of what makes them tick, how they think and so on.  Why would you want to remain ignorant of vital information that could give you insight to either advance peace or defeat them depending on how you used it?  


    God, please save me . . . from your followers

    The Ten Commandments (3.00 / 2) (#297)
    by czth on Mon Aug 12, 2002 at 09:24:29 AM EST

    This is a man who once said that the Ten Commandments was a religiously universal document that even Buddhists and Wiccans could live by and therefore posting it in schools and court rooms didn't violate church/state separation. I don't give his opinion the time of day. His choice of words is poor as it makes it sound like all Muslims are the enemy.

    If you ever took a look at the ten commandments, most of them are fairly universal, and are either law or compelled by society, to wit:

    • No other gods - this is pretty much the only one that other religions can take umbrage at;
    • No worshipping graven images - well, I guess this might upset Buddhists and Roman Catholics and maybe Animists, but it shouldn't bother most people;
    • Don't take God's name in vain - cursing is generally considered impolite, religious or not;
    • Keep the Sabbath - Jewish Sabbath is Saturday, Christian "equivalent" is Sunday, both these days are holidays from work (for most people), and until a few years ago nonessential businesses and services would close;
    • Honour father and mother - socially, respect for parents, and providing for them as one is able and as they need is considered just and right;
    • Don't kill (murder) - I think we can agree on this one;
    • Don't commit adultery - monogamy and a stable family is also generally considered a good thing, and leads to a stable society;
    • Don't steal - fairly universal too;
    • Don't lie - only illegal on the stand in court, but considered wrong by most if not all religions;
    • Don't covet - envy, which is similar, is distasteful, as are greed and jealously, but this is more a "sin of the mind" (but that's where the rest start too) so pretty difficult to identify.
    So. Not so very far-fetched.

    czth

    [ Parent ]

    Right. (none / 0) (#300)
    by Shren on Mon Aug 12, 2002 at 10:09:43 AM EST

    I don't think the argument ultimately stands up, but if you're a christian demagogue there are much worse places to start. "Obviously the 10 commandments are universal. Thou shall not murder? Who could argue with that? It's universal to society and thus all religions. Obviously opponents of the 10 commandments are opponents of morals, disreputables who could not be tolerated anywhere."

    Dumb demagogues are safe. The problem is that he's not dumb.

    [ Parent ]

    Um . . . wrong (none / 0) (#303)
    by Dphitz on Mon Aug 12, 2002 at 02:24:45 PM EST

    Yes, I have taken a look at the Ten Commandments and the 1st commandment (Protestant and Catholic versions, 2nd in Hebrew) pretty much disqualifies this as a universal document all across the board.  

    As for graven images, sabbath days, and taking God's name in vain - well these would also disqualify this document depending on the religion.

    To say that Buddhists, Wiccans, Muslims etc. could look to this document to live their lives by is stupid.  They have their own rules and for O'Rielly and the rest of the Christian right to presume that everyone can look to their God for guidance is insulting and arrogant.

    So, yeah.  Pretty far fetched


    God, please save me . . . from your followers

    [ Parent ]

    So... (none / 0) (#314)
    by Skywise on Mon Aug 12, 2002 at 08:47:58 PM EST

    Buddhists, Wiccans and Muslims have no "god" that they obey above all else?

    [ Parent ]
    Some Buddhists don't (none / 0) (#317)
    by Dphitz on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 01:41:22 AM EST

    There is even a sect of Buddhism that can technically be called atheist as they believe in no God.  The religion of Buddhism does not even recognize an "official" all supreme being, as we might think of in other religions.  It's more of a philosophy.  Wiccans and Muslims believe in a different God (God and Goddess in Wicca) than the one referred to in the commandments.  So that first commandment is an insult to those beliefs.

    It's not as if there is no specific God the Ten Commandments is referring to here and people of any religion or belief can just take from it what they want, let's not kid ourselves.  For Christians (or O'Reilly) to push this as something for everyone is insulting and it's a veiled attempt to indoctrinate people to their beliefs.



    God, please save me . . . from your followers

    [ Parent ]

    I know... (none / 0) (#320)
    by Skywise on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:57:49 AM EST

    (Although I thought all buddhists were essentially atheists...)

    What makes the 10 commandments universal is not their religious connotation, but their historical one.  They're a core staple of Western Civilization law.

    Yeah there are different versions from the Bible and the splinter Christian groups implement them a little differently, but we can't even agree on what the first amendment "really means" in the US Constitution, either.

    So long as it has pertinence and meaning and wasn't offensive by a normal community standard, I don't see the problem with a judge putting up the 10 commandments, Sura's from the Koran, sayings from the Tao, or rock lyrics from Nirvana.  So long as the judge doesn't force anyone to bow down to his God, and tries the case in a fair and open manner, it shouldn't be a problem.

    [ Parent ]

    Ease of manipulation (none / 0) (#234)
    by thebrix on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 07:16:58 AM EST

    What seems to come up over and over again in the USA is that organisations dependent on state funding can be manipulated by state politicians who, quite often, have bigger ambitions and are trying to get themselves noticed on a wider stage (as per the threats against UNC funding mentioned earlier).

    I'm not aware of similar attempts to tell universities what to do in the United Kingdom, and I suspect any such attempts would rebound on central government (so be far more damaging). Sometimes the relative powerlessness of local government here, and the bias towards non-elected (appointed) rather than elected officials, is a good thing ...

    translations of koran (3.33 / 3) (#246)
    by pantagruel on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 01:37:02 PM EST

    I may be mistaken but I believe that it is sacrilege to translate the Koran. Anyone familiar with this trivial detail, if so can you confirm or deny?

    Note that I am aware that the book in question is not the Koran although I suppose it would have some passages from the Koran, making it I suppose a sacrilegious book

    If so, shouldn't O'reilly be happy because it would be a slam against the 'enemy'?

    Anyway the analogy is doubly faulty in that the book under question is about Islam, and Mein Kampf was not 'about' fascism, it was a fascist document.

    What degree does one need to work at Fox News Network? I'm supposing the brain should be kept at some degree below 28, thus prompting a state of severe mental hypothermia.

    sorry about the pun



    No, you are incorrect (none / 0) (#248)
    by emad on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 02:47:08 PM EST

    Your question has been addressed in this comment: http://www.kuro5hin.org/comments/2002/8/9/145459/8124?pid=14#42

    [ Parent ]
    Most Muslims do not speak or read Arabic (none / 0) (#293)
    by karimlakhani on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 10:28:16 PM EST

    There are about 1.2B muslims in the world.  About 250M are Arabic speakers.  The rest do not speak or read Arabic.  Translations of the Quran are perfectly fine.
    Making a change
    [ Parent ]
    AAARGH! (4.00 / 3) (#250)
    by spammacus on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 03:26:02 PM EST

    Honestly.  Some people just don't get it do they?

    It doesn't occur to them that it might be useful to understand what we're dealing with.  The problem is not Islam, the problem is zealotry.  And Christianity is not immune to it either.
    -- "Asshole, deconstruct thyself." - Mr. Surly

    "study of..." != "belief in..." (4.60 / 5) (#253)
    by unharmed on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 05:36:36 PM EST

    This just makes me so damn angry. The narrow-mindedness and bigotry of large chunks of the world's population just makes my mind boggle. Does anyone else think that making students read and (hopefully) understand a broad range of religious,philosophical and cultural topics might, just might, produce a society of more well-rounded, intelligent and thoughtful human beings? Sorry that this post doesn't directly address the article but this issue is a pet gripe of mine.

    I think it would,... (none / 0) (#292)
    by Kaki Nix Sain on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 09:08:47 PM EST

    ... in my case it did. I had a very nice series of history courses that did quite a bit of cultural examination, including the religions.



    [ Parent ]

    Well-rounded/intelligent/thoughtful (5.00 / 1) (#327)
    by azaad on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 08:22:13 PM EST

    Does anyone else think that making students read and (hopefully) understand a broad range of religious,philosophical and cultural topics might, just might, produce a society of more well-rounded, intelligent and thoughtful human beings?

    Yes, of course, however you must realize that this is exactly what most people in power don't want. People are much harder to control and use like tools when they're intelligent, thoughtful, well-rounded, etc.



    [ Parent ]
    Bill O'Reilly (3.87 / 8) (#254)
    by gbd on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 06:17:33 PM EST

    O'Reilly, who is the flagship anchor for the extreme right-wing Fox News Channel, hates non-Christians and non-whites. It is for this reason that I have to laugh as he makes his pronouncements. Adolf Hitler, a very sick man, slaughtered six million people because he disagreed with their religion and their ethnicity. And now we've got Bill O'Reilly, who shares the same sentiments about anywhere between 1.5 and 2 billion people. That's "billion", with a "B", Bill.

    Bill, I don't care if you hate Muslims. That's your right. We live in a free nation that has freedom of speech and freedom of religion. But you need to realize something: there are close to 2 billion of them on this globe, and a very small minority of them are flying planes into buildings. Before you call for the wholesale slaughter of another religion, let's get the facts straight, hmm?

    --
    Gunter glieben glauchen globen.

    6 million people (none / 0) (#331)
    by Luminion on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 04:36:31 PM EST

    Even though Hitler did slaughter around 6 millions of Jews, one should not forget how many more have perished during the war, in the battles, camps and occupation.
    ---------
    <spanisman> you are really a dork and I'm going to complaint against you in the undernet society for you to get lost the op status
    [ Parent ]
    Not 6 million jews. (none / 0) (#334)
    by Hektor on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 06:17:46 PM EST

    According to the records kept by the germans and presented in various death camps, and if I'm not mistaken the numbers presented by the Israli organisations, it's around 2 million jews. It's still a lot, but there's no need to exagerate it.

    [ Parent ]
    Perhaps so (none / 0) (#336)
    by Luminion on Thu Aug 15, 2002 at 08:50:52 AM EST

    I am not familiar with any credible proof. 6 millions is an 'established public opinion'. I should look deeper into it though.
    ---------
    <spanisman> you are really a dork and I'm going to complaint against you in the undernet society for you to get lost the op status
    [ Parent ]
    Too stupid to get "Know Your Enemy"? (3.00 / 1) (#255)
    by alizard on Sat Aug 10, 2002 at 06:22:48 PM EST

    If one knows where the enemy is coming from, one may be able to:
    1. Make a friend of him
    2. Figure out how to do business with him without necessarily having to like him
    3. Destroy him efficiently and without hatred.

    If "Bill" objects to our college students being able to come to a level of understanding that permits these things, the question of "Who's side is he on?" has suddenly become relevant.
    "The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico

    Errr... "Islam" != "Enemy" (4.66 / 9) (#283)
    by hoggy on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 05:51:41 AM EST

    Why do most of the comments here, even those denouncing the action against UNC, seem to contrast "American" and "Islamic". The two are entirely orthogonal. There are very many American Muslims.

    I live in an area of London that is largely populated by British Muslims. There is a huge mosque just down the road, many of the local shops are run by Turkish people (Turkey being an Islamic country that is about to join the EU). I don't consider these people to be my "enemies". The idea is ludicrous.

    Given the level of understanding being shown here of Islam, I consider it to be very timely for American universities to be attempting to raise awareness. Most people probably don't realise that suicide bombing and other acts of terrorism are against the teachings of the Qur'an. There are violent Islamic fundamentalists just as there are violent Christian fundamentalists. This doesn't make Islam the enemy any more than Christianity is.

    We don't need to understand Islam in order to be able to fight it. We need to understand Islam in order to be able to live with it.


    Turkey is not about to join the EU (3.66 / 3) (#286)
    by Per Abrahamsen on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 11:53:38 AM EST

    There are 10 countries, mostly from eastern Europe, about to join the EU. Turkey is not among them. While Turkey is a candidate country, it is not clear when or if it will join. It is large and poor, has a poor human right record, and a rather unstable democracy. Combine this with the widespread anti-Moslem sentiments in EU, and the chances are slim. I suspect the first country with a predominately Moslem population to join EU will be one of the smaller ones, like Albania or Bosnia.

    [ Parent ]
    back the bus up (none / 0) (#315)
    by adequate nathan on Mon Aug 12, 2002 at 10:39:37 PM EST

    Turkey will be in a hell of a lot sooner than Albania will.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

    Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
    [ Parent ]

    Orthogonal (none / 0) (#294)
    by Protagonist on Mon Aug 12, 2002 at 07:14:00 AM EST

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    ----
    Hahah! Your ferris-wheel attack is as pathetic and ineffective as your system of government!
    [ Parent ]
    I always loved that line. (none / 0) (#305)
    by hoggy on Mon Aug 12, 2002 at 04:03:18 PM EST

    Well, I was using it as in:

    orthogonal adj. [from mathematics] Mutually independent; well separated; sometimes, irrelevant to. Used in a generalization of its mathematical meaning to describe sets of primitives or capabilities that, like a vector basis in geometry, span the entire `capability space' of the system and are in some sense non-overlapping or mutually independent. For example, in architectures such as the PDP-11 or VAX where all or nearly all registers can be used interchangeably in any role with respect to any instruction, the register set is said to be orthogonal. Or, in logic, the set of operators `not' and `or' is orthogonal, but the set `nand', `or', and `not' is not (because any one of these can be expressed in terms of the others). Also used in comments on human discourse: "This may be orthogonal to the discussion, but...."

    [From the Jargon File.]

    By this I meant that the concepts, "American" and "Islamic", are independant. One cannot be defined in relation to the other. Islamic does not mean "un-American". I'm happy with what I think it means.

    But you made me laugh, so thanks.


    [ Parent ]

    Ok.. (none / 0) (#319)
    by Protagonist on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:22:22 AM EST

    When you say "American" and "Islamic" are entirely orthogonal, it sounds to me like you're saying the opposite of what you intended: That there are no Islamic Americans and no American Muslims. I would say that "American" and "Islamic" are non-orthogonal, because the sets of people defined by the two words overlap.

    Anyway, I think the problem here is that you were applying "orthogonal" to the two concepts, while I was applying it to the two sets of people. We agree on what the word means.

    ----
    Hahah! Your ferris-wheel attack is as pathetic and ineffective as your system of government!
    [ Parent ]

    Great post (none / 0) (#295)
    by EvilNoodle on Mon Aug 12, 2002 at 07:21:21 AM EST

    I would also argue that the Bible could be treated in the same manner as it is the Bible of the Irish Catholic Terrorists. Be great to ban that one from schools. Realistically your last line says it all.

    [ Parent ]
    Why it's objectionable (5.00 / 1) (#308)
    by bouncing on Mon Aug 12, 2002 at 04:55:32 PM EST

    The real reason teaching "Islam" to first year students is wrong is because doing so doesn't treat other religions fairly. Islam is just another religion, and just like most monotheistic religions, it contradicts itself frequently. Islam's contradictions are mostly based on the emotional state of Mohommed when he was writing the Koran. Sure it condemns suicide, but it also says "kill the infidels where ever you find them." Raising awareness about other religions is not the purpose of our universities unless you're a major or minor in that topic. Otherwise, a simple broadbased comparative religion class would do nicely.

    As for "Islam" being the enemy or not doesn't matter. I don't care of a suicide bomber "distorts" or "perverts" a religion any more than I care whether the abortion bombers "distort" Christianity. No one needs to be doing any "awareness raising" about how Muslim-Americans interpret the Koran. We're all very much aware that there are a variety of religions in the world and they are interpreted/used/abused in a variety of different ways. Indoctrinating college students isn't going to do anything but make a few people think that we'll live in a more culturally sensitive society. Which we won't.

    If you want to have us all (I mean everyone, not just Americans) live in a more tolerant society, you need to end poverty. Almost every suicide bomber was extremely poor. Al Quida grew and prospered in one of the poorist countries in the world. Whether terrorists are basing their actions on Islam or not is moot. The simple fact of the matter is that people with something to loose don't blow themselves up nearly as often. Teach THAT to first year freshmen.

    [ Parent ]

    Reference? (none / 0) (#311)
    by emad on Mon Aug 12, 2002 at 06:17:04 PM EST

    Hi,

    Could you direct me to the Surah and Verse where it says "kill the infidels whereever you find them" ? I think you may be mistaken.

    [ Parent ]

    Religion and culture - two sides of the same coin (none / 0) (#333)
    by Hektor on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 06:14:00 PM EST

    Raising awareness about other religions is not the purpose of our universities unless you're a major or minor in that topic.

    This kept repeating itself in my head, until I realised, why it sounded so wrong.

    The purpose of universities is among other things to teach students about not only our own culture, but also about other cultures. To understand the culture of the USA, you need to understand the history of the USA and the religion(s) of the USA. To understand the culture of Europe, you need to understand the history and religions of Europe. The same goes for africa, south america, australia and asia.

    If you don't at some point get exposed to other religions and cultures, you will end up an ignorant and blabbering idiot. Of course, that will get you elected as president of the USA, so maybe that's not a bad thing.

    [ Parent ]

    Islamic != Muslim (none / 0) (#318)
    by epepke on Tue Aug 13, 2002 at 03:07:17 AM EST

    Why do most of the comments here, even those denouncing the action against UNC, seem to contrast "American" and "Islamic". The two are entirely orthogonal. There are very many American Muslims.

    I read through the comments and couldn't find much evidence for this assertion. No matter, though.

    "Islamic" doesn't mean "Muslim." "Islamic" is an adjective usually applied to things other than people. Nobody says, "Meet my friend Muhammad. He's an Islamic." Usually, it is applied to governments. An Islamic government is a pseudo-theocracy, based on Sharia law.

    It isn't precisely the opposite of "American." However, it isn't orthogonal, either. It is one of the many opposites of a secular government, of which the American government is supposed to be an example. It isn't unique in this; Calvin's government would have held a similar position.

    I don't consider Muslams my enemies, either. However, if they were Islamists, they would want to cut off the heads of the House of Commons with curvy swords and replace the who kit and kaboodle with a Mullah. Maybe you would consider this sufficient for enmity; maybe not. But it's very different from people who are simply Muslim living under an essentially secular government.

    There are violent Islamic fundamentalists just as there are violent Christian fundamentalists. This doesn't make Islam the enemy any more than Christianity is.

    To me, an atheist, that's a bit like saying "arsenic isn't poisonous any more than strychnine is." Around here, occasionally some Christian will shoot an abortion doctor in the back of the head. One loony irrelevant Christian, doesn't reflect on Christianity, right? That is, until all the church leaders for hundreds of miles around start saying, "Well, we don't like violence, but think of all the innocent fetuses he saved! Hosannah, hooray! Let me hear an AMEN!" And then they hold fund drives to pay for the murderer's legal expenses, all in the name of Christian charity, of course. I know a lot of Muslims, too, and I get along with them. However, it would be stretching the bounds of idiocy, let alone credulty, to assume that none of the Muslims in your area ever sent money home that got directly funnelled toward violent organizations. Happens all the time with Muslim students in the U.S.

    I don't think that Islam is the enemy, and of course it's incredibly stupid to alienate moderate Muslims, because we need them. However, that doesn't make Islam the Religion of Happy Peaceful Bunny Rabbits, either. You say that suicide bombing is against the teachings of the Qur'an. I've read the Qur'an, at least in translation, and I agree. But there are a lot of people who think differently, and your asserting this doesn't make them go away.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    (Adjective != Noun) != Sensible argument anyway (none / 0) (#332)
    by hoggy on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 05:42:23 PM EST

    I read through the comments and couldn't find much evidence for this assertion. No matter, though.

    At the time I posted, the discussion was dominated by people referencing Sun Tzu or Mein Kampf, promulgating the idea that one should read about Islam in order to fight or stop it.

    "Islamic" doesn't mean "Muslim." "Islamic" is an adjective usually applied to things other than people. Nobody says, "Meet my friend Muhammad. He's an Islamic." Usually, it is applied to governments. An Islamic government is a pseudo-theocracy, based on Sharia law.

    Of course one wouldn't say that. As you say, "Islamic" is an adjective -  "Muslim" is a noun. Of course someone is not "an Islamic". However, grammatical quibbling aside, modern interpretations of Islam do not require Sharia law. Islam is a fragmented religion much as Christianity. There are plenty of countries that are mostly Islamic and yet have secular governments.

    A good, recent article on Islam in Europe is to be found in last week's Economist. Unfortunately their site seems to be overloaded at the moment so I can't get a reference.

    I don't consider Muslams my enemies, either. However, if they were Islamists, they would want to cut off the heads of the House of Commons with curvy swords and replace the who kit and kaboodle with a Mullah.

    I don't believe that for one moment.

    And what is this "Islamists"? What kind of word is that?

    I don't think that Islam is the enemy, and of course it's incredibly stupid to alienate moderate Muslims, because we need them. However, that doesn't make Islam the Religion of Happy Peaceful Bunny Rabbits, either.

    I never said it was. I said it was no more an enemy than Christianity, and I stick by that. I'm an atheist too, but I won't denounce people for their religious beliefs. If people act in a way I disagree with, then I will question their actions.

    But I strongly dislike the suggestion that was being made here that we need to fight Islam or Muslims. We've already seen enough violence based on ignorance, we don't need any more.


    [ Parent ]

    Alternative (4.00 / 1) (#287)
    by runlevel0 on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 01:52:23 PM EST

    With this alternative, the issue would be over:

    instead of a seminar about ISlam, UNC cold organize a seminar about Maoism...

    The Red Book contains nothing about islam, and so overimpressionable freshmen wouldn't be in danger of becoming muslims:

    they would become Comunists (LOL)

    And if the seminar is good enough, it could be repeated every year in *every* american university, and within a few years ...

    And there wouldn't neither be objections from anybody, as long as they wasn't seeking paid holidays in the Gulag ...

    "...arise ye workers from your slumber..."

    (LOL)

    The main problem with Islam (4.80 / 5) (#289)
    by harrystottle on Sun Aug 11, 2002 at 03:34:43 PM EST

    is that it, too, has people just like Bill O'Reilly



    Mostly harmless

    Freshmen? (2.00 / 2) (#296)
    by tangocharly on Mon Aug 12, 2002 at 08:03:16 AM EST

    What are "freshmen"?

    Freshmen (5.00 / 1) (#304)
    by Otterley on Mon Aug 12, 2002 at 02:25:26 PM EST

    A freshman is a first-year college student.

    [ Parent ]
    Even if you dislike Islam, how is this bad? (5.00 / 1) (#299)
    by Shren on Mon Aug 12, 2002 at 10:04:42 AM EST

    Take a quick note. People finally started getting worried about Hitler when they started reading translations of Mein Kampf. If Mein Kampf had been translated as fast as possible and given to college freshmen when it was new, then opposition to Hitler would have arisen sooner and perhaps we could have skipped World War II.

    The same situation is involved here. Don't parents trust college age students to judge what is good and bad for themselves? If you think Islam is all bad, why would you be worried that it will convert your children? Do you have that little respect for them?

    The issue (none / 0) (#335)
    by Ressev on Wed Aug 14, 2002 at 10:22:48 PM EST

    Which is not really discussed in the article, is that the freshmen were assigned the project and were asked to meditate on the words. Also, the passages that Islamic terrorists use to justify their actions are not a part of the assigned readings.

    There is also an intimidation factor: Freshmen really are fresh ('there's one born every minute'...) and while you can opt out, they usually will not since they are also required to explain why in a forum.

    Basically, if the text were the New Testament or the Tenach and the school asked them to meditate on it, the ACLU would be suing instead of defending.
    "Even a wise man can learn from a fool."
    "There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact." - Mark Twain

    except that billie didn't say that (none / 0) (#338)
    by wix on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 06:57:37 PM EST

    That's not what Bill O'Rielly said at all. Don't get me wrong, I think the man is an idiot, but you can't distort the facts anymore than he should be able to. It was the UNC that said we needed to read the Koran to understand our enemies, not Bill, who was just reiterating what they said.

    UNC Sued For Assigning A Text on Islam to Freshmen | 338 comments (313 topical, 25 editorial, 0 hidden)
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