Islam vs. Islamists

I recently saw “Islam versus Islamists”. You probably have not, because although PBS commissioned it as part of the “America at a Crossroads” series, PBS executives refused to air it. The message of this episode is that there is a conflict within Islam. Most Muslims want to live in peace, but they are often overshadowed and intimidated by their radical and violent brethren. What about this message do PBS executives find unacceptable?

Too many times we not only tolerate the more aggressive adherents of Islam, but we even adopt their misguided world view. Tony Blair voiced the truth recently when he told the radicals, "Nobody is oppressing you. Your sense of grievance isn't justified." Some people in the U.S., UK etc want to believe the worst about their own countries. But everybody really knows that Blair is speaking the truth. Muslims come to the West to AVOID oppression in their own countries. The reason so many ungrateful foreign radicals cannot be shipped out of UK is because their own people would kill or torture them. One of the worst things WE can do is send suspected Muslim terrorists back to their home countries. I suspect they would suffer a worse fate than having to wait extra long in an airport line.

The West is not perfect. We do some nasty things. But the unmistakable fact is that the safest places for a Muslim to worship his God as his conscience dictates is in the West. Let's be clear about that. I read in the paper today that Muslim refugees for Darfur are trying to get into Israel. What does that tell you? The story I read made the usual PC criticism of Israel for not wanting to let them all come in. You had to read between the lines to understand that these Muslims, fearing murder or rape by other Muslims, were seeking safety among Jews.

So when you get a chance, watch "Islam versus Islamists". You will be surprised how innocuous it is. You should not be surprised that most Muslims want to live their lives in peace. How can anybody be surprised that radicals are dangerous and that they try to intimidate the more peaceful guys? Radical Islamists are a lot like gangs, or drug pushers. They seduce young, lost kids into doing evil things. They are bad guys. Good Muslm parents want to protect their kids from these gangs, but they face pressures that work in the other direction. After watching the documentary, my conclusion is that judgment is what the PC people at PBS found objectionable. “Islam versus Islamists” identified villains who were NOT the usual Western or American suspects.

If anybody has heard any other good reasons why PBS refused to air this as part of their series, please let me know. And if you get a chance to see it, take a look. Eventually PBS will come around.

Posted by Jack at July 13, 2007 9:36 PM
Comment #226257

How do you watch it Jack? I couldn’t get it to do anything.

Posted by: womanmarine at July 13, 2007 9:57 PM
Comment #226259

Unfortunately. you cannot watch it on that link. You had to go to the event. I think there is some copyrite issue. I was not trying to bait and switch. That is why I said, watch when you get a chance. I think that PBS will eventualy air it.

I know that this makes it very hard to comment on PBS’ decision it at this time. But I think we can discuss the premise of whether or not there is a conflict in Islam and that good Muslims are being intimidated by the bad ones. I think that too often the bad Muslims get us to believe that if we oppose them, we are opposing Islam.

Posted by: Jack at July 13, 2007 10:06 PM
Comment #226261

And Woman

The link should take you to the event where you can hear a panel discussion re. The links work on my machine.

You can see the trailer on YouTube.

Posted by: Jack at July 13, 2007 10:08 PM
Comment #226262


I did download the mp3 and am listening to it now. I will finish listening. I hate to say it, but PBS is becoming quite Republican (from some hearings I’ve watched).

Posted by: womanmarine at July 13, 2007 10:11 PM
Comment #226264


If only …

Posted by: Jack at July 13, 2007 10:14 PM
Comment #226269

Perhaps PBS is rethinking the title favoring instead “Humans vs Humanists”. Perhaps they will not only change the title but expand the content to fit.

The issues pointed out in the above article about radical Islam can be uniformly applied to most people across the entire spectrum of human history, especially the West. At this moment in time radical Islam is center stage. As the US is a relatively young nation compared to the East and most of the West, one does not have to look too far back in order assess the US by the same standards applied here to radical Islam. Of course, by my comments you can immediately tell that I am an “America-hater.” NOT!

I hope I do get the opportunity to view this documentary. More so, I hope others get the opportunity as well.

Posted by: Kim-Sue at July 13, 2007 10:43 PM
Comment #226271


You do not have to be an American hater to say what you said. You actually put your finger on the problem. Cultures go through pathological times. Sometimes they impose great suffering on themselves; sometimes on others too. The classic case is the Nazis. You had a whole powerful culture go through around 15 years of fantastically pathological behavior.

Islam is going through this now. If we ignore this truth, it will be so much the worse for us AND for most Islamic and Islamist people. Evil can be fought, but first we have to identify it. If we recognize that Islam today is being corrupted and perverted we may be able to shorten the time of troubles and perhaps avoid some of its worst consequences.

Posted by: Jack at July 13, 2007 10:56 PM
Comment #226272

Great article Jack. On the Youtube link there is a number to call to pressure PBS to air it.

Posted by: andy at July 13, 2007 10:58 PM
Comment #226274

When has radical islam not been a violent threat. The only difference now is the world is getting smaller and weapons are more destructive and easier to get a hold of. But I guess if we would just listen they would hold our hands and skip with us.

Posted by: andy at July 13, 2007 11:04 PM
Comment #226280
Muslims come to the West to AVOID oppression in their own countries. The reason so many ungrateful foreign radicals cannot be shipped out of UK is because their own people would kill or torture them.

I agree with virtually everything in your article, but it should be pointed out that when the SOURCE of the oppression Muslims are fleeing isn’t the Muslim religion itself, they’re often wanted criminals who are not fleeing “oppression” but justice. In recent years, many of the most radical Islamic teachers and wanted terrorists have relocated to Europe to flee trial in their home countries.

There are people now living in Europe who really have fled oppression in Muslim countries and should be given refuge. Very few of these who are dedicated Muslims, however, would lose anything but the Western opportunities for social and economic advancement if they went home. Europe in general has a major problem right now
with immigrants who have no interest in assimilating into Western, secular societies, and just want the money and life-styles they can’t achieve at home. It’s a difficult situation because Western values hold that people should be allowed to believe whatever they like, but when you get truly MASSIVE numbers of people who are actually hostile to the values that a society is based on, that society’s actual existence is threatened.

Most of those who aren’t wanted criminals that should fear severe persecution are those who belong to non-Muslim religons, or are gay, or are outspoken human rights activists. It’s fine for Europe to open its doors to peaceful Muslims who want the opportunities that aren’t available in Muslim countries, often because those countires are Muslim—and deny, for example, women the right to own property. But I don’t think that Europeans should care one bit about deporting wanted criminals and Islamic radicals because they might be treated harshly by the authorities in their own countries.

The situation now is one in which even a wanted terrorist can’t be deported because Muslim countries have the death penalty, and we can’t have that, now can we?

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at July 14, 2007 1:02 AM
Comment #226282


I haven’t seen the documentary but will when I can. I want to point out, though, that this apparently isn’t a case of PBS rejecting the documentary but rather believing it’s unfinished. As I understand it, the creator was a first time filmmaker who, rather than working with PBS, instead decided to go public.

I realize this context is unlikely to change the opinions of some, but I know through my own experience with publishers that you have to deal with their editorial standards, which does not necessarily mean changing substance.

Anyway, here’s a story about it, complete with charges, countercharges, and a conservative politico making insinuations.

Posted by: Gerrold at July 14, 2007 1:32 AM
Comment #226291


Good link.

It looks like one of those “I’ve been censored!” stories that aren’t really about censorship at all. PBS just thought it needed some work. The filmmakers didn’t want to work with them, probably because they are getting far more exposure from achieving conservative martyrdom than they ever would have gotten from a one-hour special on PBS.

Posted by: Woody Mena at July 14, 2007 8:43 AM
Comment #226296

Islam is largely a poor person’s religion and Islamic countries with only a few exceptions like UAE, have poor demographics, with wealth concentrated into very few hands. Hence, when an organization like al-Queda is formed and backed by money which challenges the status quo, they are big news, and stand in stark contrast to the self-perceived poor working Muslim family which seeks only to live a simple life with the means they have, and not become a victim of poverty, war, or abuse if it can be avoided. The peace seeking people are not organized, not funded, and do not seek headlines or conflict.

Needless to say, this context, makes al-Queda all the more recognizable, potent, and efficient by comparison, and when they target the Muslims with enough education to recognize al-Queda’s view of the world as being an historical struggle between the wealthy global controllers of the West against the pious and modest Muslims of the poor Islamic societies whose autocrats are in bed with the western wealthy global controllers of the West, it is predictable that their recruitments will increase, their funding will increase, and their media recognition will increase.

Add an event like Iraq, and al-Queda gets a super boost in its rhetoric, which gains traction with educated Muslims like doctors, lawyers, and even some entrepreneurs and business owners. Hence, the Nat’l. Intelligence Estimate this year concludes that al-Queda (OBL’s al-Queda, not the so called Iraqi al_Queda whom are different people entirely and simply donned the name al_Queda for instant recognition value) have grown back to their post-9/11 status and strength, for the most part.

But, for westerner’s to lose sight of the facts that they are many times more likely to be harmed or killed by medical malpractice in a hospital, or from an accident in the home or on the highway, than they are from a terrorist, or by a home grown or illegal immigrant criminal, is so typical of a media driving western society, to react all out of proportion to news which captures the imagination and titillates our fear and anger centers of our brains.

Politicians fear Americans are becoming complacent about terrorists, undermining their resolve to plant American might in the center of the Middle East. But, in reality, perhaps, Americans are just getting some appropriate perspective back, finally, after 9/11, and are beginning to understand while terrorism is a very dangerous thing, there many other dangers in our society far more likely to harm us or those close to us.

One day, they may actually begin to call for American tax dollar spending to be portioned out according the appropriate percentage of risk, which would mean diverting about half or more of the funding now going to defeat Islamic terrorism toward hospital malpractice now contributing to the injury or wrongful death of 80,000 American EACH YEAR, vs. less than 4000 killed by terrorists in America in the last 6 years.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 14, 2007 9:26 AM
Comment #226297

Woody & Gerrold

It would always be hard to know the truth of the censorship question. I watch a lot of those PBS things. This looked like one in all ways except it was noticably not PC.

Noticeably lacking were the blame the West motifs. It had a different feel. PBS executives rightly thought it did not fit into their usual pattern and they were probably right, but it was a point of view issue, not a quality one.

As a conservative, I have seen this kind of thing on many occasions. The bar for PC is much lower than for more conservative thought. That is one reason we have conservative think tanks. They had trouble with the PC at universities. It is a syndrome, not a conspiracy. I do not think liberal get together to exclude conservatives, but their mind set calls them wrong.

Islam has serious problems and the West does not primarily cause them. Most areas of the Islamic world failed to moderize. They started to fall behind 500 years ago. That is HOW the West came to be dominant. Islamic situation was not robbed. It just failed to develop. In fact, it is the rejection of free markets that is holding back most of the Arab world today. A simple change in this would begin to release great progress. The PC community wants to blame colonialism or something else that WE did to them. Which do you think would get a better hearing, a documentary saying that Arabs suffer from too little freedom and markets or that they suffer from too much capitalist oppression or neo-imperialism?

Anyway, this documentary will probably end up getting more attention that it would have if it was left in the series. Woody is right about that. I think it might have significant influence in moving the dominant mindset. We have too long downplayed the truly pernicious influence of radicals in corrupting Islam. As Blair said, nobody is oppressing Muslims in the West. That statement is only a little too broad. We are looking for the root causes in the wrong place. Their bad behavior is mostly THEIR fault, not ours. We have some bad guys working overtime to create hate. The best thing we can do is neuter them and the best way to do that is direct. In the case of UK, many of these guys are illegal aliens. Send them home. Who cares what happens to them. IF they are so afraid of being sent back, they should behave a little better where they are protected guests. And we should no more tolerate hate speech BY Muslims than about them.

Posted by: Jack at July 14, 2007 9:42 AM
Comment #226304


Islam should be subordinate, as should all religions, to the laws of the secular society. The documentary also points out that some Muslim communities want to live in Western societies under Sharia law. That is a concession we cannot make to them. They can live under Sharia law if they want, but we cannot allow the state to enforce it and when Sharia law conflicts with civil law, civil law always should be superior.

Anybody have a problem with that.

Posted by: Jack at July 14, 2007 11:44 AM
Comment #226306

So the problems of the Muslum world result from their failure to embrace Reaganomics? Fantastic.It is as reasonable as placeing the blame on the failure to halt the subjugation of women or the adoption of secularism in public affairs. Part of the story.A very brief rundown: British imperialism,German occupation,US imperialism. On the US side is one of the greatest CIA blunders of all time,the overthrow of the democratic government of Iran for the installation of the Shah at the behest of US oil companies,leading directly to the rise of Islamic fundementalism.Our continued support for the Brutal,despotic Saud family,the Kuwiaty and UAE royals etc. Like it or not the creation of Isreal was a Western imposition.

Seems the PBS censoring story has no traction although it will most likely be jumped on by those that resent complexities of viewpoints.

It is a serious mistake to ignore the West’s role in holding back the Muslum world. I am not just talking about the US. The West’s voracious apetite for oil is responsible. A slim reed of hope is the impetious for replacing our fossil fuel dependance. You are correct that there are some bad people doing some bad things in the Muslum world and they must be stopped. We can and should clean up our side of the street irregardless. That is a major part of any lasting peace and a part where we can help the process.

Posted by: BillS at July 14, 2007 12:02 PM
Comment #226313

Absolutely secular laws in a secular society must take precedence. And I don’t find surprising the notion that extreme elements would try to silence moderate ones. To my mind, we should keep our eyes open. We can recognize our own historical and current role without whitewashing the other side.

I will watch the documentary when I get the chance. I’ve often regretted that so often dicussion on these boards get dominated by perceived political stakes — attack and defense, neither side yielding an inch. That’s the death of good discussion.

Posted by: Gerrold at July 14, 2007 1:00 PM
Comment #226315


Not Reagonomics, just free markets.

The Islamic world’s decline is the big story of the last 500 years. It is a long term trend. America was not even dreamed of when it began. The fact that the Islamic world has been subject to imperialism is a symptom of their decline, not the cause. Think of fantastic change. THEY were the imperialists 500 years ago. Islamic armies were conquering the Balkans and threatening Vienna in central Europe. Muslim culture was still among the most advanced. The Ottoman Empire was probably the best administered state. Since that time, it has been nothing but downhill. What happened? What went wrong?

Nobody is holding them back. They are not moving forward. And the various benighted attitudes are among the reasons.

I think the subjugation of women is a major flaw in the Islamic cultural region. It also helps contribute to the high birth rate, which is the main thing that sustains it.


I am sure when you see the documentary, you will be surprised how reasonable it is. I brought up Sharia law because not everybody agrees with us. Some people want to let Muslim communities govern themselves under Sharia law. There have been these sorts of incidents in Canada and Europe.

I think that is one of the main points of contention with the radicals. They would say that God’s law trumps man’s law. This is one of the reasons Islam fell behind. The God law they were using was one well suited to a bunch of guys living in the desert. It does not work well in other contexts.

The way I figure it is that we can let God worry about God’s law and we will work on the human side.

Posted by: Jack at July 14, 2007 1:20 PM
Comment #226319

Quibbleing about cause and effect of imperialism is impotent. It is in the relm of historical speculation. Certainly turning much of the Muslum world into a battle ground of western conflicts has not helped.

My use of the term Reaganomics is a habitual liberal aspersive for a remarkably stupid economic theory. Free market systems with a proper mix of regulation and a measure of collective ownership and operation of vital services much like what we and Europe have would be of great benefit to them but is not a pannecea. Our continued support for despots in the region works against that at any rate.

Posted by: BillS at July 14, 2007 1:53 PM
Comment #226323


Free market is not a panecea, but it is necessary for any just and pleasant modern society.

Cause and effect are important. To imply that Arabs nations are behind BECAUSE of imperialism will not allow you to reach a effective solution. It is a symptom, not the disease.

Beyond that, many oppressively colonized places have done very well. Singapore, S. Korea and even places like Poland or Estonia were more recently contolled by others and oppressed. Arab countries could be great if they were only managed properly.

Posted by: Jack at July 14, 2007 2:05 PM
Comment #226325

“The way I figure it is that we can let God worry about Gods law and we will work on the human side”

Love it. Now if you would be so kind as to inform President Bush and the majority of your Rep presidential candidates of your wisdom we can move forward.There was more than one “bunch of guys living in the desert.”

Posted by: BillS at July 14, 2007 2:29 PM
Comment #226331

Bills and Jack, it would benefit us all if we stopped calling regulated trade, free trade. Free trade, free enterprise, free anything in the arena of commerce or finance is destructive, because it is premised on a lie, that it is free.

Truly free trade is the province of monopolists and unfettered oligarchy. Regulated trade, economics, and enterprise which seeks optimum value for all parties to the event or underwriting the event, is what we know works best. So, let’s start being honest and exposing these free traders and free enterprise economicians for what they are, deceivers and liars and destroyers of fair trade, fair economics, and fair enterprise, which require fair regulation to optimize these activities against the forces of greed, corruption, and deception.

I just got back from some errands, and had stopped at a Starbucks, (extremely rare event for me). I ordered a Tall Cappucino, paid a few bucks for all intents and purposes was supposed to be a great cup of coffee.

What I got was a small cup. NOT a tall cup, though the menu called it tall. OK, I mentioned that to the waitress, she looked at me quizzically. I took it to the condiment counter, opened the lid to add a bit of sugar, and what did find? The cup less than half full with coffee and more than half full of froth. So, a 10 oz, cup of coffee with only 4 oz of coffee, misnamed a Tall cup, was what I got for my couple bucks. I asked the waitress if the owners of Starbucks were devotees of Orwell’s 1984 doublespeak and newspeak? Another quizzical look mixed with a small frown.

I left, and will never, ever, ever make another purchase at Starbucks in this lifetime. Free enterprise has come to mean something very wierd compared to what I learned of it in the 1950’s and 1960’s. There is this whole brainwashing and false advertising and cutesy contradictory jargon that goes with the false advertising which seems to make folks proud of their participation in being duped. Like corporations that got wearers of clothing to wear free advertising. These are just some of the behaviors that contribute to my concern for my daughter’s future amongst such a vast sea of people so proud and willing to be duped.

Caveat Emptor, western society consumers have forgotten what it means, and how to act when what they expect doesn’t match with what they got. Most of them simply return for more of the same. Truly amazing what a poor or lacking education can accomplish.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 14, 2007 3:09 PM
Comment #226346


You know that the free market consists of the market mechanism, rule of law and reasonable regulation. Free market societies range from place like the U.S. to W. Europe and Japan. The free market starts to drop off in places like China and most developing countries are not free at all. Academic definitions aside, I go with the Index of Economic Freedom on this.

Re Starbucks, you have lots of options. I drink Starbucks because I can walk to the store and the coffee is better than the alternatives. Frankly, I prefer the coffee at Dunkin Dounuts. The point is that you do not have to drink their coffee. The free markets gives you choices. It is up to you to make them.

Returning to the Arab world, we have no free market states there. The closest you can come are moderately free places like Oman or Jordan. If they had more economic freedom, I am certain the political situation would not be so crappy. When people have better things to do, they usually do not have the time or inclination to blow themselves up.

Posted by: Jack at July 14, 2007 7:05 PM
Comment #226354

“The Islamic world’s decline is the big story of the last 500 years. It is a long term trend. America was not even dreamed of when it began. The fact that the Islamic world has been subject to imperialism is a symptom of their decline, not the cause.”


Isn’t that comparable to blaming the American Indian for their own decline?

The fact is that not all humans have evolved at the same rate, and not all evolution has been for the good of mankind.

Common sense dictates that we must all learn to “share and share alike” if we expect to survive but each of us would rather believe that we are somehow better than someone else due to religious beliefs, economic circumstance, intellectual ability, etc.

Does anyone else find it odd that the most extreme views regarding human existence in recent decades all revolve around religion or the denial thereof?

Education in our own society has been somewhat successful at limiting extremism but it can never be 100% effective. You need look no further than the Westboro Baptist Church to see that.

Thankfully education and freedom in the USA (AND ESPECIALLY THE PATRIOT GUARD) have prevented nonsense like this from growing into a full-blown movement.

OTOH in the world of Islam even those countries we deem as “friends” still do not do enough to limit the influence of the madrassa’s. In fact the Islamic Schools’ League of America seeks not to ALLOW the teaching of Islamic principles in America but, and I quote:

“envisions and works towards the day when Islamic schools will be the preferred centers for learning and leadership that nurture and encourage America’s youth to develop their innate creativity and inquisitive nature in the pursuance of academic excellence while anchoring their hearts and souls in a moral framework of a God-centered life.”

Scared yet?

We’re dealing with extremists and quite honestly I’ve seen no indication that the nations of Islam want to pull back from that extremism. I don’t doubt for one moment that the goal of nearly all followers of Islam is to create a new world-wide caliphate. I just hate to see us helping them through our own willful ignorance.

To make a sloppy comparison:

The Pope recently said that all other Christians are kind of not really Christians. Like Protestant’s are kind of the bastard children of Priests or something!

Both the Popes view and the predominant view of Islam are extreme. There’s one big difference: Protestants and Catholics didn’t start killing each other over the Popes comments!

My final analysis: Islam is a big ass problem in itself! All religions are, but Islam takes the cake.

How’s that for a liberal view?

Posted by: KansasDem at July 14, 2007 8:13 PM
Comment #226363

Jack said: “You know that the free market consists of the market mechanism, rule of law and reasonable regulation.”

No, what I know is that our free market includes the wealth’s control over government and policy to the detriment of many other aspects of the society and participants in the market. The EV-1 electric vehicle being a primary example. Our unsecured borders being another. Our dependence upon oil to our detriment being another. Intelligent rational people knew during the 1970’s oil embargo that our dependence upon foreign oil imports was going to lead to international tragedies at some point, and they have. But, the Oil industry had control of the government via immensely wealthy lobbying and influence upon reelection coffers.

These are free market mechanisms where those big players in the market control the apparatus which may otherwise call upon them to alter their direction or course. Had we had a more regulated approach to oil markets and their powerful players, we would not likely have to be dealing with the Iraq war, Iran, and a future of at least 2 more decades of dependence upon regimes which are antithetical to our own.

Jack, you said: “The point is that you do not have to drink their coffee.”

Yes, that was the exact point I made very unambiguously in my comment. Glad we agree.

Jack, your following postulation is absurd to me: “Returning to the Arab world, we have no free market states there. The closest you can come are moderately free places like Oman or Jordan. If they had more economic freedom, I am certain the political situation would not be so crappy.”

Those in control of the political situation in Middle Eastern nations have almost complete market freedom, to include that freest of all market organizations, OPEC, which creates artificial scarcity and surplus according to its needs and dictates. That is free market enterprise which most of their customers would agree needs regulation. But, regulation can only come by breaking the addiction first. Till then, we are just junkies for the oil pusher, and powerless to stand up to the pusher man who controls our supply, unless we want to repeat the grave error now known as Iraq.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 14, 2007 9:28 PM
Comment #226366


Re Indians - Not at all. The real situation would be comparable to a situation 100 years from today if Bolivians were colonizing the U.S. How could that happen? That would be a big question.

Muslims were dominant. The fact that a few generations later European COULD call the shots tells you something. And nobody would say that today Muslims are freer to practice their religion as they see fit in any Muslim dominated country than they are in the U.S. the UK or even Israel. This is remarkable. What happened? What went wrong with Islamic civilization that was so strong and promising 500 years ago and now is so despotic and benightened?


As I wrote, I follow the Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom. The free countries on the list are those are the countries with characteristics most conservatives think are good in the economic sphere. OPEC is nothing like a free market. It is an alliance of oil producing governments that seek to set prices and control supply. You cannot get much farther from a free market than that. Who would regulate THIS so called market, since it is the authorities and governments that are creating the bad situation? They ARE the problem. They do not allow markets or democracy.

Of course rulers who control their countries have freedom. That does not mean their countries do.

Posted by: Jack at July 14, 2007 9:47 PM
Comment #226367

Jack, I wonder if superior firepower had anything to do with the situation 500 years ago? That seems to be the usual culprit.
In a fair market environment I would think that you could choose from many different coffee much like the free market.
After reading the link from Gerrold explaining the whole story with your neocon friend it seems he’s biting the hand that feeds him. Two hours instead of the agreed upon 1 hour, Some claims still need to be documented etc. PBS doesnt seem to be all that unreasonable especially with their higher standards. Sure seems strange its a conservative running to the Government(Congress)for help.

Posted by: j2t2 at July 14, 2007 10:27 PM
Comment #226368


I think you must have either not read or disregarded everything I wrote after the comment about our “elimination” of the native Americans.

Please give my reply and the links within another “thoughtful” spin!

If you’ve already done so we’re farther disconnected than I’d thought possible.

Posted by: KansasDem at July 14, 2007 10:38 PM
Comment #226372


I read it.

The native Americans were technologically below the European invaders. They never had much of a chance. There was never a time when they had the upper hand from the time of first contact. That the Euro-Americans defeated the native-Americans could surprise nobody. There was never a turn around. It was just a matter of time.

Muslim civilization HAD been technologically and scientifically superior to European civilization. For almost 1000 years, Muslim civilization pushed around Christian civilization. Muslims conquered and ruled Christians. It was rarely the other way around for the first 1000 years of contact. Then the equation changed and it changed very rapidly. The question is how & why? Did Christian civilization develop so much faster? How & why? Did Muslim civilization go backward or not develop? How & why? It is an entirely different situation than the native-American/Euro-American conflict. In fact, the only way it would be analogous is if the Lakota began to colonize Europe.

You do not have to make a value judgement to ask the question. In 1500, many observers would have bet on Islamic culture. What went wrong?

Posted by: Jack at July 14, 2007 11:16 PM
Comment #226373


Please see above. Again - why & how? The Turks had the best cannons and were skilled in the use of firepower 500 years ago. That is how they conquered Constantinople. What did they do wrong to lose the edge.

You argue that the West won because they were stronger. I ask how this happened.

Posted by: Jack at July 14, 2007 11:21 PM
Comment #226378

Speaking of Turks..there is a “free market “Islamic country,not doing too badly at that. A devotion to secularism is part of your answer.
The religious legitamation of royalty is another part. Christianity had that also but we managed to reject it during the reformation leading to experiments like the American revolution etc.
It is for reasons like that that many of us on the left are in fact on the left. The right often attempts to reduce secularism. The right also attempts to curtail checks on royalty(de facto) by opposing stiff inheritance taxes on dynastic wealth, the progressive income tax etc.
I also ,from earlier discussions,belive you underestimate the effect of the “resource curse”.

The Heritage Fondation is nothing but a pseudo-intellectual right wing propaganda mill and any research from them is specious at best.

Posted by: BillS at July 15, 2007 12:06 AM
Comment #226382


The resource curse is real, but not all Muslim countries are so afflicted. Beyond that, oil came to these guys only in the 20th century. They were rolling down the road to perdition centuries before that.

Re Heritage - you should look at what they say. I am using their Index of Economic Freedom only as a benchmark. What you can say with certainty is that Heritage says the countries near the top of the list are okay and those near the bottom are bad. I think that those near the top are clearly better than those near the bottom and that the general order of the list explains a lot. Do you disagree?

Re religion - I also believe in church-state separation. That does not mean religion need be excluded. Turkey is a avowedly secular state. Sometimes it does not work. The U.S. has a separation of church and state, but is not avowedly secular. This confuses some Turks and maybe some Americans too.

Re conservatism in the U.S. - American conservatives “conserve” the traditions of free markets and free people. The left diverged from this beginning in the 1930s and went backward to the government control exercised by despotic governments since the dawn of time.

Posted by: Jack at July 15, 2007 12:38 AM
Comment #226409

Thoughts on the religious enthroneing of the caliphate? The establishment of a static ruleing class either through religion,economics or other forces holds back a society as those on top ALWAYS control the reins of government. It is a class imperitive and change threatens their hold. Not all change is good.Not all change is bad. But without it a society eventually declines.

1930s? The New Deal programs of the left ,while they did restrict the freedom of the wealthy to rip off the rest of us,expanded freedom for many more. Without them more than a few of the wealthy would have wound up dangling from lamp post and our country would have been drastically weakened by instability. We did not have the religious indoctrination to accept a ruleing elite and still do not.That is a major difference between us and Muslum societies.

Posted by: BillS at July 15, 2007 10:37 AM
Comment #226410

It might be interesting to compare your Economic Freedom index with a index of resource exploitation.

Posted by: BillS at July 15, 2007 10:45 AM
Comment #226411

Hmmm.. a quick glance shows that the top countries are importers of oil.

Posted by: BillS at July 15, 2007 10:55 AM
Comment #226438


We can use the same formula for top countries. Top countries import oil and use resources because they are top countries. Just like top atheletes win because they are top athletes.

The questions are how and why they got that way.

I am not sure that the 1930s programs did unmitigated good. You know that the New Deal did not end the depression and that the worst years of depression were 1937-8. The economy recovered only because of WWII. Some of the New Deal programs may have deepened the depression.

Posted by: Jack at July 15, 2007 2:01 PM
Comment #226448

As to the ending of the depression. There is room for some historical speculation. The New Deal did keep the lid on what could have been a period of great social upheaval. Some of the regulation stemming from the same period helps stabilize markets to this day,the SEC for example.

I mentioned resorce importation as a matter for more study. There are great industrial countries that also export oil,ie,Russia that do not fair so well on that graph.

Posted by: BillS at July 15, 2007 3:45 PM
Comment #226454


Yes. You can almost see an inverse relationship. Maybe it is the resource curse. I do not think you can call Russia a great industrial country. It is too poorly and dishonestly managed. It is only a potentially great sitting on a treasure of resources that it cannot use effectively.

Posted by: Jack at July 15, 2007 4:05 PM
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