Egypt speaks


Michael Stuart Kelly

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Bob,

That's like saying the problem with Jews is Judaism. Otherwise they are perfectly alright.

Michael

You are right, of course. Even so an Orthodox Jew is less likely to hijack a commercial air flight and crash the plane into a tall building. He is less likely to strap on explosives, step into a crowd, yell at the top of his lungs: God is great! and set off the charge.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Devout Muslims feel that God Himself has charged them with the duty to take charge.

The problem with Muslims is Islam. Otherwise they are perfectly alright.

Bob,

That's like saying the problem with Jews is Judaism. Otherwise they are perfectly alright.

Michael

Michael,

The problem with that comparison is that Islam is not the same as Judaism.

What if we substituted Communism and Capitalism for Islam and Judaism. If Robert had said, "The problem with Communists is Communism," would you have replied, "That's like saying the problem with Capitalists is Capitalism?" I don't think so.

Of course, now I'm not making a fair comparison, because the relationship of Islam to Judaism is not the same as the relationship of Communism to Capitalism, but I think you see my point. Islam is a very misguided (to put it mildly) system of thought. Judaism isn't nearly as bad. To take it to an extreme, imagine a world controlled by Jews and a world controlled by Muslims. Which would you prefer to live in? And, if you couldn't live in either, then you've just validated Robert's original assertion and undermined the point of contrasting your statement with his.

Darrell

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Darrell,

I am intimate with Muslims.

The father of my ex-wife was Muslim (a Bedouin) . Her mother was a practicing Catholic. That's not supposed to happen in the stereotype version of Islam, is it? The mother was supposed to be stoned to death or something, right?

There's a lot that people in the West don't know about that culture. (Which is a bunch of cultures, not just one.)

Here's the way I see it. Imagine if a fundamentalist faction of Christianity, say, the Westboro Baptist church, happened to have powerful adherents in charge of an oil-rich desert. Suddenly people from other countries flood it with gobs and gobs of money to get the oil.

The fanatics will do what they will do with the gobs and gobs of money. Without all that money, they would be a minor local nuisance instead of a pain in the ass for the world.

But then, the world starts saying Christianity--not the fanatics--is the problem, yada yada yada.

I'm not a defender of Islam. In fact, I am a defender of Israel. But I do not recognize the people I have known and lived among in the behavior of fanatical Islamists. The difference is like black and white. Islam did not turn the people I knew into bad people at all. They were great peace-loving folks living their lives like everyone else.

Rich fanatics with more money than God doing business with corrupt-to-the-soul crony capitalists from our culture is the real problem.

Why not stop buying oil from them?

Heh.

Nobody wants that (except people like me). All they want is someone or something to blame for the mess, someone or something who will not interfere with the oil flowing at a cheap price while giving scared people a scapegoat so they can feel better.

But that's merely what I see.

Michael

EDIT: To answer your question about something that would and could never happen, which world would I prefer to live in, one controlled by Jews or one controlled by Muslims?

I would go with the people who were not fanatics. If the choice were the world were controlled by fanatical Jews (and they exist) or controlled by live-and-let-live Muslims (like the ones I knew), it's a no brainer. Give me the live-and-let-live Muslims. Of vice-versa. That's why your question and preemptive presumption about what I supposedly validated is skewed. It's oversimplified to a fault. It's made to show a bias, not get information.

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Darrell,

Let me add something.

If any person says it's OK to kill people in the name of their ideology, that's evil. Since almost all religions say that in their sacred texts somewhere, I believe it is perfectly OK to accept religious folks as good people when they interpret those passages as no longer relevant.

I have no quarrel with what those people believe.

The idea that it's OK to kill people for ideology is my standard for condemning, not the name of any religion. See who lives that way and those are the people I condemn--including the way they interpret their ideas. Nothing will ever sway me to condemn--as evil--those who do not believe and practice that just because their basic religion is the same as that of the bad guys, but they interpret it differently.

Michael

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Hi Michael,

Milton Friedman once said, "The problem with socialism is socialism. The problem with capitalism is capitalists." The obvious implication is that capitalism sometimes has some bad actors, but socialism is irredeemably bad. It's a flawed system of thought in which the flaws are so central to the philosophy, that it doesn't matter how virtuous the actors are, it just can't be made to work.

By analogy, perhaps Robert should have said, "the problem with Islam is Islam." But, when he said, "the problem with Muslims is Islam," I took it to mean there is nothing wrong with the people, it is their ideology. That made me chuckle, because I believe that Islam is an irredeemably flawed system of thought and it reminded me of Friedman's statement. But, I can see how a Muslim or someone with Muslim friends could take Robert's statement to mean that there is something wrong with Muslims, per se. I see Muslims as any other adherents to a fatally flawed system of thought. They can choose to adhere or not adhere to the worst aspects of their belief system.

There are plenty of Muslims that are fine people. The guy that hired me for my current job was Muslim, a live-and-let-live Muslim that celebrated Christmas with his kids when they were young. There are plenty of leftists that are fine people. My brother is an inveterate leftist, an Obama supporter, but a nice guy to be around. There are plenty of Christians that are fine people too. Many of the people in my family are both leftists and Christians. A lot of racists are probably nice people. In fact, I think a lot of self-described liberals are racists. They want people of other races to have the same opportunities as everyone else, but don't want their daughters to marry them. So, there can be all kinds of people that are personally nice, but, that doesn't mean there isn't something deeply wrong with what they believe.

So then, why worry? Why all the fuss about what people believe if they can all be nice? Well, they're all nice as long as they are restrained by a capitalist system that protects individual rights. They can get together around the back yard barbecue and advocate for socialist utopia or submission to Allah so long as they don't become too numerous or too powerful. Then, the fatal flaws in their philosophies begin to destroy the societies in which they live. You may have seen this story discussing the effects of the increasing percentage of Muslims on a society.

That is not to say I don't think there are problems with other philosophies such as Christianity. Clearly, the domination of Europe by Christianity during the Middle Ages --- a brand of Christianity that called for the mortification of the flesh --- was harmful to progress in Europe --- though most of the world was pretty backward anyway at that time. And, of course, the way people interpret their ideas is important, but I don't see a substantial movement to reinterpret Islam. Most Muslims may be relatively peaceful, but, for the most part, they don't criticize their violent brethren.

For perspective on the nature of Islam from a "recovered Muslim," I would check out this article.

Darrell

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I found the following quote interesting in relation to the current discussion:

Far from being a personal faith, Islam is a collectivist ideology that rejects a live-and-let-live attitude towards non-Muslims. And while the jihadists may not represent all Muslims, they do represent Islam. In the end, most Muslims have proven themselves to be mere sheep to their jihadist wolves, irrelevant as allies in this war. Recovering Muslims call the enemy’s ideology “Islam,” and they dismiss the idea of “Moderate Islam” as they would the idea of “Moderate Evil.” When, based on his actions, Mohammad would be described today as a “Muslim Extremist,” then non-violent Muslims should condemn their prophet and their religion, not those who point it out.

Here is the link.

Darrell

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Darrell,

I just don't think in the terms you argue.

If I did, I would have to conclude that Objectivism is "an irredeemably flawed system of thought" because it would inevitably lead to a low reproduction rate of the human species because of a lack of family values within it. I don't believe that, but if I thought in these oversimplified terms, I would have to start reasoning like that.

For example, based on the article you linked, I would have to conclude that Islam beats Objectivism--by far--as a viable system of living on earth on a "well, duh" level if you are looking at spreading the culture. If you make more babies, you increase the number of members within your culture. Islam encourages family life and big families. Objectivism ignores it and treats it as secondary. Who's going to win the population increase? Well duh. That's not rocket science.

But like I said, I don't think in these us against them terms. Or, at least when I do, I prefer to keep my eye on the enemy I identify (like bullies), not on what others rationalize. And I like to follow the money when violence becomes the norm. I don't see Islam as an institution when i do that. (I do see Islamism, which is the faction that promotes Islam as a social ideology like Communism and not just a religion. Some people don't like the word Islamism but I find it useful to denote the concept. And I see others, like hawkish crony capitalists from our neck of the woods.)

I don't know how much common ground we will have on this. I refuse to ignore the evidence of my own eyes. I won't do that for anybody.

But unlike the Infidel dude who likes to goad bigotry in others and has done so over years, I believe you have goodwill. And are reasonably rational. The only thing I suggest is to read and learn as much as you can, even from those you disagree with. If you limit your exposure only to biased sources, it will impair your ability to make true criticism. And I am not against that as there is plenty to criticize in Islam.

In other words, I go through two stages to judge something like this: identify it correctly, then judge it. Not the contrary. The biased sources are not a good place to get correct identification. They are much more useful--at least to me--during the judge stage. (I find good food for thought in some of their conclusions.)

btw - I once met Bosch at the Atlas 50 Year Anniversary celebration. He's a nice guy. I understand his revulsion. But I also see it in context. It's a typical reaction of someone who abandons the culture he grew up in.

Michael

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Michael,

I don't know how much common ground we'll have on this subject, either. But, I hope we can have a reasonable discussion without throwing around terms like "bigot." The word "bigot" is just a nasty way of saying that someone is prejudiced, i.e., has prejudged a group of people without knowing an adequate amount about them or about the issue at hand. You're not the only one that goes through a two step process. I also like to identify the facts surrounding an issue correctly first, and then form a judgment. And, even after I've judged the issue for myself, I'm always willing to listen to new evidence. In this case, I think I have the evidence.

I also don't expect you to suddenly change your mind on this issue (or any other issue) and I certainly wouldn't ask you to ignore the evidence of your own eyes. I have too much respect for you to expect that. But, you also shouldn't expect me to change my mind either. Sometimes, two people just end up exchanging information or learning new ways of thinking about something, but it takes time to integrate that knowledge into their wider experience.

I've never actually met Bosch. He is a facebook friend of mine. But, I understand your point regarding his revulsion. I've experienced that kind of attitude quite frequently with Objectivists that used to be Christians. They are virulently anti-Christian and not really fair to the religion or its adherents.

As to whether Objectivism is fatally flawed, I might agree with you. But, there are a couple of issues. The first question is, is Objectivism fatally flawed in a way that threatens my existence? If the major flaw in Objectivism is that it doesn't promote the value of families, then it is mainly a threat to its own existence, not mine. That is in contrast to socialism, for example, that could seriously damage the economy if enough people voted for it, and that could make my life much more difficult. So, I do see myself as an opponent of socialism and the intellectual contest for the hearts and minds of ordinary people as being absolutely necessary. Does that constitute and us versus them attitude? The use of the term, "us against them" seems to conjure up accusations of bigotry which I reject for the reasons I've already given.

Back to the possibility that Objectivism is fatally flawed. I don't believe that Objectivism is flawed in any essential sense that would be harmful to my existence. However, there are non-essential tendencies within Objectivism including over-confidence, intolerance, and a lack of generosity towards other belief systems and other people. For example, calls for the areal bombing of Iran after 9-11 --- the wholesale killing of enemies of the U.S. on the principle that U.S. lives should never be put at risk --- I find immature at best and potentially quite worrisome. So, although I call myself an Objectivist, because I believe in the objectivity of morality and agree with what I believe are the essential, central principles of Objectivism, I would renounce the appellation and run in the other direction if I thought that actual Objectivist leaders might engage in kinds of activities that some of their hyperbolic rhetoric would suggest.

Truly, I attempt to find the best in every belief system and every person. But, I won't turn a blind eye to what I consider to be fatal flaws in a belief system, especially if those flaws are potentially threatening to civilized life.

Darrell

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Darrell,

I think we are actually finding more common ground than I imagined at first. I certainly don't think you are a bigot, even should you blame Islam for the woes of the world. In my perception, you just don't have the heart of a bigot.

On another issue, I don't believe Objectivism is fatally flawed. I believe it is woefully incomplete as a philosophy.

Granted, it might not threaten your life if it were treated as complete and became dominant, but unless it deals with family and reproduction better, such dominance would threaten your children or theirs by producing a dwindling population. Incidentally, I believe it is a legitimate concern, a legitimate value, and totally rational to want to hand over a world to your kids that is better than the one you got.

I won't go much into the following idea right here, but I will mention it. A percentage of human values for me deal with the species and not just the individual. This is inherent in the human organism. This is starting to be borne out in neuroscience, too.

This inclusion, individual and species, is the proper answer to the dichotomy, what is fundamental to you, the individual or the species? (I won't say collective instead of species because of the connotation with social systems, but group is what it is.) I reply both. I see no reason on earth to make a choice of one over the other.

I'm not an individual blob walking this planet. I'm an individual human being. I am both an autonomous individual and a member of a group that gave my the very shape and components I have. Anyway, I define morality based on both. And I put it at about 80% selfishness and 20% species values. Or maybe 70-30, Whatever. Just so long as the individual is the greater part and the species the smaller. This is because volition demands a greater part for the individual. (Long discussion here, but one for later.)

Getting to the point, Objectivism needs to deal with species on pain of always being a fringe philosophy buttressing other movements that actually do deal with family and other species concerns.

As to Islam, think about this. If you removed the gobs and gobs of money from the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia, or Shiites of Iran, how dangerous do you think Islam would be for the world?

I say not very dangerous at all.

The problem is fanatics with money.

Well over a billion Muslims (actually more) couldn't care less about violent jihad and things like that. They are worried about making a living and taking care of their loved ones, just like everyone else.

Now the million-dollar question. Where did the fanatics get all that money? Did they produce it on their own?

It would be quite a stretch to believe that. Fanatics are cunning, but not smart or creative enough to produce massive wealth on their own.

We in the West gave the money to them. And we keep giving more to them. We prefer to bestow our largess on fanatics, too, for some damn reason.

We keep repeating history in this matter. And we keep getting the same results.

Michael

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Michael,

I agree that Objectivism is incomplete and needs to say more about children. From time to time, there have been extended discussions of the value of children, but I have never seen a lengthy exposition by an Objectivist author. At the risk of sounding religious, Objectivism needs a cannon of texts expounding what could be considered proper Objectivist positions on a whole host of issues including the value of children. Of course, there are already a number of texts available by a variety of authors including VOS, ITOE, Capitalism: the Unknown, Ideal, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, The Evidence of the Senses, Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist, etc., and I can't claim to have read even half of them. I'm not a philosopher by profession. But, I don't know of any books that extensively treat the subject of children or why a person, acting in his own, rational, self-interest would want to have children. I certainly feel blessed to have three wonderful, successful, beautiful children, but it is not always easy to describe the objective values that I derive from having them.

The core principle of Objectivism is rational self-interest --- correctly so in my view, --- so, it is necessary to describe hopes for the species in those terms. And, I don't think it is that hard. For one thing, an Objectivist should understand that other people are valuable to one's own life. When I go grocery shopping, I'm glad that there are people working there, stocking the shelves, slicing my lunch meat, and taking my payment at the checkout register. I am happy for the existence of the truck drivers that delivered the food to the store shelves, for the distributors, the manufacturers, and the farmers that grew the food all over the world. I'm comforted to know that when I install the software that controls the Cisco wireless router for my home computer, that if the engineer's grandmother died there would be a woman working in a flower shop in San Francisco that could sell him the flowers he'd need to make his own mother feel better. And, I'm happy to know that if I go to the gas pump and am able to buy gas, there's a guy working in an oil field in Saudi Arabia that made that possible. In some way, every person in the world that engages in productive activity is benefiting me in some way. And, because ideas can be shared, the more people we have in world, the better off we generally all will be.

I agree that funneling billions of dollars into the pockets of fanatics is not a good idea. You are right that the countries of the Middle East would mostly be an irrelevant backwater if it were not for oil money. So, we should do what we can to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. However, I should point out that not all oil producing countries promote values that are antithetical to ours or to life itself. The country of Norway, for example, is a major producer and exporter of oil, and, although it is not a purely capitalist country, it is generally free and just. But, even if the countries of the Middle East were not threatening us, I would still feel for the plight of their people, living under the yoke of dictatorship and primitive mysticism. What a waste of human potential. Each of us benefits from the freedom of everyone else. If the ancient Babylonians could derive such wonderful mathematical truths, just think what a free, rational, and vibrant Middle East could produce today.

Darrell

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  • 1 year later...

My goodness!

According to the Muslim Brotherhood, it was the Coptic Christians who overthrew Morsi!

Dayaamm!

:smile:

So the Hood persecutes the Copts, sacking and pillaging and destroying, but the new Egyptian government is the monster for not rebuilding the damage pronto.

I see...

It's probably all Islam's fault. :)

Michael

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The hood was persecuting the Copts anyway. This was simply a glimpse into where things stand for the Copts in Egypt today. As for the dechristianisation of the Middle East and parts of Africa, and potentially of Egypt, and the ongoing persecution in general, yes, absolutely it has a lot to do with Islam. The idea that it doesn't is preposterous. Like the so-called leader of the Free World claiming that IS has nothing to do with Islam.

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Who d

No one is equating all of Islam with lot to do with Islam. Islam leads to woman wearing the hijab. To say that isn't to practice moral relativism, or to say anything controversial. Islam leads to jihadism. To say that also isn't to practice moral relativism, and saying it should be no less controversial than the preceding comment. Wearing a hijab isn't a problem. Jihadism is. You don't get rid of the problem of jihad by pretending it has nothing to do with Islam. You combat it by examining exactly what teachings within Islam lead to jihadism and seeing what, if anything, can be done about it. Whether it can be dealt with or not, it's essential to know what it is as a matter of defence, as a matter of knowing ones enemy. I consider Jihad to be a product of Islamic theology. You can call me a bigot for that all you like. So be it. We'll just have to agree to disagree.

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Who d

No one is equating all of Islam with lot to do with Islam. Islam leads to woman wearing the hijab. To say that isn't to practice moral relativism, or to say anything controversial. Islam leads to jihadism. To say that also isn't to practice moral relativism, and saying it should be no less controversial than the preceding comment. Wearing a hijab isn't a problem. Jihadism is. You don't get rid of the problem of jihad by pretending it has nothing to do with Islam. You combat it by examining exactly what teachings within Islam lead to jihadism and seeing what, if anything, can be done about it. Whether it can be dealt with or not, it's essential to know what it is as a matter of defence, as a matter of knowing ones enemy. I consider Jihad to be a product of Islamic theology. You can call me a bigot for that all you like. So be it. We'll just have to agree to disagree.

Jihad is Arabic for struggle. Reasonable Muslim thinkers will tell you the true Jihad is between a man and his weaknesses. He must struggle against laziness, failure to carry out his obligations and the tendency to rationalize his base behavior.

Jews have a similar idea. In Perke Avot it is written: Who is strong? He who over comes his base inclinations.

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That is considerably loaded there, Baal. One could equally say that reasonable people support Socialism. Anyway, it's true that Jihad is about struggle to overcome weakness. That, however, is merely part of what Jihad is about. The writings devoted to what they call, the greater jihad, the struggle that you talk of, are small and insignificant compared to the writings and time devoted to the lesser jihad, which is the Jihad that Islamic State supporters are undertaking. A reasonable thinker would not try to obscure that. We can't form any defence against the problem by obscuring that.

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We'll just have to agree to disagree.

I don't have to agree to disagree with a bigot.

I tolerate a certain amount of your bigotry on this forum.

That does not imply any moral equivalence on my part to agree to disagree with bigotry.

Elsewhere I don't pay any attention to it.

But my tolerance here has limits.

Michael

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  • 4 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

That is considerably loaded there, Baal. One could equally say that reasonable people support Socialism. Anyway, it's true that Jihad is about struggle to overcome weakness. That, however, is merely part of what Jihad is about. The writings devoted to what they call, the greater jihad, the struggle that you talk of, are small and insignificant compared to the writings and time devoted to the lesser jihad, which is the Jihad that Islamic State supporters are undertaking. A reasonable thinker would not try to obscure that. We can't form any defence against the problem by obscuring that.

I am just trying to home on on the meaning of a word in Arabic.

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