Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Half a Truth is Better than None

Androo has posted a link to a fine collection of
logical fallacies, which everyone ought to look at.

Mike Carlton, apparently in the Devil Bunny City Morning Herald, quoted in the El Pais de Murdoch:

John Howard was right to say they hate us for what we are, and correct also to call this an attack on Indonesian democracy. But if we are to get anywhere in this war on terrorism it is useful to ask why they hate us so, The Iraq disaster would have something to do with it, you might think. Indonesia opposed the invasion on the grounds that it would inflame smouldering Islamic extremism, a subject about which it knows it great deal. Clearly, the Indonesians were right.

Dubya’s Iraqi folly, though, is but the latest eruption in centuries of foreign oppression in Islamic lands, dating back to 1099 when the crusaders sacked Jerusalem and slaughtered Muslims sheltering in the al-Aqsa mosque with such ferocity that, as one contemporary account had it, “men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins”. Toss in Napoleon Bonaparte’s plundering of Egypt and Syria, 100 years of French and British colonial suzerainty in the Middle East including the RAF’s bombing of Iraqi tribesmen in 1920, plus the Israeli descent upon Palestine, and you beign to fill in the picture.

None of which is to condone the barbarism of [the terrorists], but it does go a way to explaining this. When we understand this, we might be able to do something about it.


Now, I will have a go:

Mike Carlton was right to say that if we are to get anywhere in this war in terrorism it would be useful to ask why they hate us so. The moral vacuum at the heart of the post-Christian West would have something to do with it, you might think. The friends and neighbours of the first lot of Bali bombers back in East Java said that Western tourists had no business bringing their decadent lifestyle to a Muslim country. Clearly, they were right.

This latest bombing, however, is but the latest eruption in centuries of Muslim attacks on infidels and their lands, dating back to 1453 when the janissaries sacked Constantinople and slaughtered Christians sheltering in the Haga Sophia cathedral with such ferocity that that, as one contemporary account had it, they “slew everyone that they met in the streets, men, women, and children without discrimination. The blood ran in rivers down the steep streets from the heights of Petra toward the Golden Horn.” Toss in the depradations of the Barbary Pirates against European shipping, 500 years of Turkish colonial suzerainty in the Balkans and Anatolia including Enver Pasha’s genocide of Armenians and the sack of Smyrna in 1920, plus the expulsion of the Middle East’s millenia-old Jewish communities from their homes in the 1950’s, and you begin to fill in the picture.

None of which is to condone the barbarism of [Slobodan Milosevic], but it does go a way to explaining why Serbia wanted to kick the shit out of the Kosovars. When Muslim excuses for terrorism are given as short shrift as his excuses were, we might be able to do something about it.

6 comments:

Dave said...

Fair enough points on both sides, I reckon. So where does the not-entirely-unexpected conclusion that We Never Really Got Along get us?

Dr. Clam said...

Nowhere, I think! My trivial point is that I'm quite prepared to accept the 'we share some of the blame for our own misfortunes' argument, but only if we make a serious effort to apply it as broadly as it should be applied... we should accept that we are, in many people's eyes, not only imperialist busybodyies, but repulsive moral dwarves destined for eternal damnation. Equally, we correctly don't tend to have much sympathy for traditionally Christian ethnic groups in Eastern Europe who are forever going on about how they were done wrong hundreds of years ago and using this as an excuse for present misbehaviour. Their inability to break free from the past is much more their problem than that of their massacred neighbours. The only ways I can see that we in the West can do anything about these historical wrongs to the Muslim world are: (i) Let them conquer us, so they will feel better (impractical); (ii) Seduce them with Coca-Cola and Britney Spears so that they become part of our diseased culture and forget about these historical wrongs (impractical and very very evil);(iii) Refuse to put up with references to historical wrongs, pointing out to those who raise them that they are being childish, while working in a real way to ameliorate features of present-day Western civilisation and policy that are offensive, e.g., getting rid of reality television and overturning Roe vs. Wade, simultaneously cutting military aid to Israel and Egypt. It might also help if we could demonstrate that our busybody imperialism is not designed to oppress Muslims in particular, e.g., by invading a couple of traditionally buddhist countries.

Anonymous said...

"e.g., by invading a couple of traditionally buddhist countries."

Like Bali?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I was going to say..."Aren't the Balinese not actually muslim?"

Jenny - forgot blogger password

Dr. Clam said...

Invading Buddhist counries = joke...

Burma and North Korea are possibilities, but there are good reasons not to, which I've discussed before! The Balinese are mostly Hindu, the last relic (that I know of) of the Pre-Muslim, Pre-Buddhist cultures of Southeast Asia.

Marco said...

I am of the opinion that the terrorists are "losing" in South East Asia. The hatred trying to be exaggerated and fostered among Indonesians and others is being gradually dissipated through good police work, little retaliation, and governmental co-operation.