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Singer Ayman Udas
DT I believe you raise a good point. To what extent do we know in any personal way muslims. I know 2 well, one a convert to sufism and one by birth. The convert I have known for well over 40 years and the other I worked with for 20 years. Both to my mind are fine people. I also have long been an admirer of both Muhammed Ali and Malcolm X.

Based on what little personal knowledge I have there is nothing inherently wrong with the religion.

Judaism on the other hand is more problematic to me. I know quite a few jews who are well educated and generally fine people. However, to a person they will defend Israel no matter what it does. This fact speaks to me of a fundamental flaw in the religion.

And christianity, virtually everyone of its strong adherents that I know are ignorant jerks. They may be doing well in the world but I hate being around them and do not trust them. The bulk of christians are not strong believers and in general are ok to be around.

Muslims are the other like the japanese in world war 2. It is much easier to demonize them then the germans who much more of the country was used to. Germans with some exception were not hauled off to concentration camps and were allowed without question to participate in the war effort. My father and uncle are both examples of that.

The percentage of muslims in this country is small, as near as I can tell less than 3%, and typically concentrated in certain areas. Americans in general do not know enough about them to form independent opinions and as a consequence are more subject to media manipulation. I will not suggest this manipulation is conscious but more that the media's love of the sensational has a greater effect because the american public is ignorant of the ordinary.
derF, I didn't know that we were writing term papers and that references and footnotes were required. I do believe that RA gave you some excellent things to look up and if you really want I will provide sources for any hard facts I have given.

I will give you one hard fact that disputes your claim that few lived in israel before the partition of 1947. The number is uncertain but the israelies themselves admit to 520,000 palestinian refugees by 1948 with the the UN estimating 726,000. All bedouins I am sure.
I admire Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X in spite of their religion.
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
Catman, I will agree completely. People's actions and understood character are more important than their religion and often are in direct conflict with it. The point I was trying to make was that americans know so few muslims on a personal level that it is easier to demonize them as a group.

As far as that goes the black muslims as a group have always creeped me more than a little. From the time I was first handed a copy of "Muhammed Speaks" in front of a 24 hour market in Oakland around 1967 (probably on a late night beer run) to the time I more or less crossed the path of the so called Zebra killers in San Francisco circa 1973 (a splinter group of black muslims killing white people) to today. It strikes me similarly to a lot of large religious groups, a source of a comfortable income at the expense of many.

In order to be fair I should also point out that the Peoples Temple people that used to hand out the "Peoples Forum" newsletter in front of the supermarket that I used when I lived in the Haight creeped me out greatly also. I will say that I felt less threat from them.
I have a problem with theocracy.

Now will someone tell me which ones arent? Remembering of course that a country that rules according to their religion, no matter how democratically is still a theocracy.

Israel as far as I am aware was founded after WWII as a state led by Jews, for Jews on land promised to Jews by their religious text and that of the Christians.

Also, the region has been populated for millenia, by how many really doesnt matter, if it was one person it would still be wrong to enforce policy that moved this person from his home, showing prevalence for the jewish faithful.

Also, when did it become acceptable to kill civilians because there are terrorists amongst them? Maybe if you are a war general, but to me it just doesnt sit well.

Islam, Judaism and Christianity are all as bad as eachother in my eyes, each leave the mind vacuous - it just so happens that with the latter two reason broke through years ago and tied up much of the crap they were throwing around.

As to why Israel is more sucessful than the surrounding regions we only have to look to its supporters. America is a powerful country in the world market, and a back scratch from them can be the difference between success and failure. Just saying is all.
Doubting Thomas
John H: Is that "people's temple" as in the Jim Jones cult?

I will say that I personally don't know many Muslims. But I would not call it a peaceful religion. Yes, I do know it's the extremists who are causing terrorism, but you don't ever hear any outcry from the general Muslim population. No, I don't think that all Muslims are terrorists, but I think the vast majority support getting rid of the infidels.

I wouldn't call Christianity a religion of peace, either, though if you describe pure Christianity (what Jesus taught), it should be (even though Jesus did say let him who is without a sword sell his cloak and buy one). However, its followers are as prone to hatred as any other religion. It's not hard to see. The only difference is that Christians are not blowing themselves up in busy shopping malls. However, there have been acts of violence against abortion-providing doctors, and bombs placed at abortion clinics in the name of Christianity.

I guess this is just why religion is dangerous, because it's easy for someone who doesn't like something to believe that his/her god doesn't either, and it soon becomes a mandate from this god to get rid of it by whatever means possible.
You're just jealous because the voices are talking to me and not you.
Christianity went through its most violent phase much earlier. The Crusades and the medieval wars in Europe don't give it any moral high ground.

Also, one doesn't hear of moderate Christians chastising their more evangelical/loony brethren all that much either.
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
Very true, they cant speak against the extremists because in a lot of the cases they know the support is there for the ideas, and to speak against them is putting what they believe on the line.
Theory_Execution wrote:
Also, when did it become acceptable to kill civilians because there are terrorists amongst them? Maybe if you are a war general, but to me it just doesnt sit well.

If you are a platoon leader and your platoon is in a large open indefensible position and you begin receiving accurate murderous fire from many positions in a school house and you have very little chance of scrambling to safety, do you open up on the school house and try to suppress the fire or do you simply allow yourself to become a statistic? If only the leader had the luxury of weighing the moral implications of such an action. But unfortunately every second is the loss of another comrade.

I do not find it acceptable to kill innocent civilians especially children. But when you are fighting an enemy that could care less about collateral casualties among their own kind and in fact think casualties among their own kind are extremely useful for propaganda purposes you sometimes do things that ruins your sleep for many years to come.

I will not post any more on this thread because we really have beat it to death on several other reincarnations of the site. But I will keep reading new posts.
Edited by derF on 05/08/2009 00:47
I'll drink to that. Or anything else for that matter.
derF, I do understand your point. Islamic extremists do use civilians as shields. Not only as shields, but as combatants. What's a person to do when a child is shooting at them? Your sense of decency doesn't want you to to kill a child, but your sense of survival tells you that if that kid is trying to kill you, you'd better take them out.

Ask a few Vietnam vets about that. It's horrendous, but it's reality. That's why many of them have PTSD.

Not only do Islamic Terrorists use this tactic, but so do others. Many African countries that are in upheaval also use children as soldiers. They also use civilians as shields.

The thing is, those of us in more *civilized* societies claim we'd never do such a thing but it's easy to say that when you aren't living in a war zone. I suspect many of those so called civilized folk would do the same shitty stuff if they were at war.

I wasn't trying to say that I don't understand some of the things Israel has to deal with when dealing with Hamas, the PLO, and their like, what I was trying to say is that I don't really think Israel is any better. I feel their leaders are just as evil as the Muslim leaders. They are all racist scum.

IMO, Isreal should never have been given the land. It was done out of guilt because the world felt guilty because they didn't stop the holocaust sooner, and it was done because religious idiots thought it was God's will. It was an evil and vile decision. The nation of Israel should never have been created. The things they did (and are still doing) after it's creation are purely and utterly evil and racist. What they have done to the Palestinian is inexcusable and I truly believe ISRAEL CREATED THE MUSLIM EXTREMISTS BY ABUSING THE PALESTINIANS.

Now it's just s big fucking mess. They all play victim and they refuse to take responsibility for anything that's happened. They were all wrong. It will go on and on and may destroy the whole world if we can't find a way to oust the religious leaders and put secular leaders in place. Only when religious extremism dies out will this shit finally end.
Ra: Exactly my thoughts. I couldn't agree more.
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
A personal political history.

In my youth I was an uncritical supporter of israel. I remember coming home from classes and seeing headlines about and reading about the 1967 war. Too many years ago to remember exactly what my reaction was but it was along the lines of too bad, but the israelis must have had a good reason.

Circa 1971 I was briefly involved with a woman who had been in israel recently. She related to me that the palestinians were getting screwed. I had known this woman for about 5 years and did not entirely trust her judgment so I merely stored that information away.

Circa 1985 I started reading some Noam Chomsky. He pointed out two important things to me. One there was a great disparity between israeli and palestinian casualties in the conflict and that the US press by its words and reporting showed a very great bias toward israel.

I have tried to approach this conflict with a more critical eye since that time. I will not defend either side greatly but I have come to the conclusion that we the US population must not continue to support israel in the manner in which we have.

I understand this is a somewhat intractable debate. I believe that it remains important because the US is the single greatest supporter of israel and that this may be the single most difficult conflict in the world. I further believe that much of the US public is ill informed on this conflict.

derF, you posit a ridiculous hypothetical. I will offer realities. The israelis attacked a UN school killing some 30-40 people. let us assume 50% were combatants. Now consider that 10 israeli soldiers died, 4 from friendly fire, and 3 israeli civilians died. So in one event the israeli
Edited by JohnH on 05/08/2009 17:05
In a previous post I, through stupid word choice, insulted derF. He has sent me a PM proving that. I have sent him a PM trying to explain myself and to apologize.

I need also to apologize in public. If any of you find my comments personally offensive please let me know. Either in public or in private.
This sort of topic never fails to re-enforce the rudimentary, fundamental political philosophy I've "developed" over the years, which can summed up neatly as "fuck groups". Naturally, anything that simple and neat is also invariably wrong, or at least requires so much more elaboration that it soon proves itself not to be so simple as advertized. But it's a nice shorthand, at least.

From what I've seen and understood -- both of which are arguably limited -- almost all social conflict is the result of one group getting uptight that another group isn't like them. It's this need that groups have to re-enforce their identities by excluding others and then insisting that those others conform that drives all this shit.

The solution isn't more independence, but the abolition of this "respect" we've got built into our cultures that says that what a group thinks outweighs what an individual thinks. Those two things -- independence and ignoring the will of groups -- aren't the same. However justified, first is usually inherently rooting in selfishness, enlightened or otherwise. The notion of "independence" is usually about individuals doing what they want despite the impact it has on others, and usually becomes a point of contention when a large enough group decides that it wants its views respected.

Take the libertarians. (Please!) They're a pretty good example of this distinction I'm trying to illustrate. The idea is, people should have the maximum amount of freedom possible, which they assert comes when government entities stop telling them what to do. But that really just puts the power in the hands of social forces, which are driven by what? Groups. It's not as if their hearts are in the wrong place, but as another favorite philosophy of mine says, intentions are irrelevant except as a guildline for how hard you hit the guy doing you wrong. But hit him you must. At best the libertarian ideal unknowingly prioritizes preserving individual rights over protecting the same. It advocates a free-for-all where anything goes and if bad stuff happens, that stuff must represent the eggs needed to build the omelette of independence.

And that's because at the core of it, but libertarianism embraces the same flawed "respect" for groups by refusing to acknowledge that groups are defined as the collective behavior of individuals, that the "will of the people" isn't just a noble thing, but also another way to say "mob rule".

So I say, fuck groups. Who do "they" think they are? As far from basic human nature as it may be, its an emphasis on my neighbor's rights that builds a reasonable society, not my own. A society that prioritizes along those lines wouldn't ever even debate banning gay marriage or punishing a woman for "shaming" her family let alone do it.

derF, as has been pointed out the scenario is interesting.

Why would a military force be in persuit of enemy combatants into the region of a school - I know the police for instance will often let automotive criminals escape if they feel following them will bring innocents into harms way.

Yet this isnt my point, people should have a right to defend themselves. To fire at a building full of people who do not wish you harm again doesnt sit well with me. But I was refering to the decisions made at the top end, the decisions to drop bombs on buildings that are known to contain innocents.

I think the world would be a better place if America got real on the whole issue of Israel (along with the UK and France) and the world got together to tell them to behave.
JohnH wrote:
In a previous post I, through stupid word choice, insulted derF. He has sent me a PM proving that. I have sent him a PM trying to explain myself and to apologize.

I need also to apologize in public. If any of you find my comments personally offensive please let me know. Either in public or in private.

I haven't reread the thread, what exactly did you say that was so insulting? I must have missed it. I don't recall anything out of line.
RA at this point I have said what I will on that subject.
Edited by JohnH on 05/11/2009 16:34
Don't you just love a happy ending?Grin
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
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