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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Declarations condemning Honor Killings don't deserve praise

The past two weeks have been particularly eventful ones regarding the problematic subject of the integration of Muslim immigrants and Islamic culture into Canadian society.

The ongoing Shafia trial in Ontario has been taking up a lot of ink and appears to have been the catalyst for a declaration by about 60 Canadian Muslim groups denouncing Honor Killings. Meanwhile in Belgium, Canadian Muslim reformer Irshad Manji was violently accosted during a book tour by about twenty Islamist fanatics who spat on her and threatened to kill her.

Now before any of us get on a high horse about how much better western religions are than Islam, we should keep in mind that we too all had our centuries-long episodes of religiously-inspired violence. Islam is 600 years younger than Christianity, and when Catholicism was as old as Islam is now, the Church was torturing and burning heretics.  As recently as 300 years ago, Protestant "reformers" were burning witches. Judaism too has a well-detailed history of violence that is extolled in biblical lore.

However there are many religions younger than Islam, such as Mormonism, Scientology, Baha'i, Sikhism, etc, whose practitioners are not bent on mass murder, terrorism, or the elimination of anyone who would dare to utter a word of criticism or mockery of their beliefs.

Even in Canada, up until the imposition of the multicultural, non-assimilating Trudeaupia, we had an extremely well-integrated Ismaili Muslim population that exhibited virtually none of the extremism that has become a somewhat factually-based caricature of contemporary Islam.

What has happened to the west in the last 40 years or so is the mass immigration of Muslims from what, in non-cultural relativist terms, one might refer to as backwards Muslim countries. The problem the west faces is not really Islam so much as it is the culture of these third world countries which happen to be predominantly Islamic. And the challenge we face is that the narrative of contemporary Islam has increasingly been dominated by those who hold on to those cultures' regressive interpretation of that religion.

Where we are failing miserably is by allowing that narrative to continue.

If a group were to make a grand announcement declaring that they believed it was wrong to rape cats, and tried to organize a campaign to denounce cat rape, people would, quite rightly, view them as crazy. Anyone with a modicum of intelligence and moral sense knows it's wrong to rape cats and no sane person would do such a monstrous thing. It shouldn't require anyone to speak out against it.

Yet when Canadian Islamists declare that it's wrong for Muslims to murder their wives and daughters, they are embraced by the mainstream media as being progressive.

This truly is a sign of the soft bigotry of low expectations. When a community feels the need to make a pronouncement opposing infanticide and domestic violence, and the addled minds of an enabling media behave as if this is some significant achievement, it bespeaks a disgusting rot in our entire culture.

What's worse is that the trend to try to accommodate the troglodytes in the Islamist community tacitly undermines genuine Canadian Muslim reformers like Manji, Tarek Fatah, Salim Mansur, and many others. Most Canadian Muslims are not extremists, but when we engage and praise extremists, merely for meeting the minimal standards of civilized behaviour, it sends out a message that is not only condescending, but implies that the extremists are the mainstream. That message allows the real reformers to be marginalized as radicals within the Muslim community.

We should not be engaging extremist groups who have been denounced by the government for anti-Semitism and support for terror, like the Canadian Arab Federation or the Canadian Islamic Congress, whose president recently spoke at a multi-faith conference at the University of Toronto. Engaging them merely allows reformers like Irshad Manji to be tagged with the description "controversial." What should be controversial is that the president of a group that expresses support for terrorist organizations was welcomed at Canada's most prestigious university.

This whole matter points to the challenges facing and the many failures of Canadian multiculturalism whose guiding philosophical moral relativism is poorly adapted to responding to inherently bad cultural practices.

When Canadian Islamists feel the need to condemn the murder of women in their community, our response should not be, "aren't you wonderfully progressive!," it should be: "What the hell is wrong with a culture that needs to say that in the first place?"  


Anonymous said...

You refer to the bible when you say Judaism has a detailed history of violence. Do you have any evidence for any of these stories? The bible is not history.

Richard K said...

The conquest of Canaan may not be exactly as detailed in the book of Joshua, at least as far as the accounts of miracles go, but there is a lot of historical and archeological evidence to support the basic facts of it. Plus some reliable accounts of ancient stoning penalties.

Kunoichi said...

Just as an aside, a lot of the torture and witch burning claims are myths or examples of presentism. Link

for just a couple of examples. Many of the witch burnings, for example (which were a lot fewer than claimed) were actually done by secular courts, not religious. Much of what we've been taught about those times are actually based on Protestant anti-Catholic propoganda.

During the inquistions, people actually prefered to be tried by the inquisitors rather than the civil courts because they knew the inquisitors were more likely to be fair, and actually cared about evidence. Inquisitors, btw, all had to be laywers, but they did not have to be clerics, and they only dealt with heresy. Anything else was turned over to civil law. Civil courts were far harsher then those of the inquisitors.

Richard K said...

One only has to look at England in the Middle Ages through to the late Renaissance, which has a wealth of recorded, verifiable history, to see that the burning and killing of heretics was a distinct feature of both the Catholic and Protestant Church. And if people chose to be tried by the Inquisition, it was for civil or crimiunal cases that the Church took less seriously than the state. No one chose to be tried by the Inquisition for religious crimes and the fact that such crimes existed makes my point.

The purpose of this is not to blame the Church today for what happened 5 centuries ago. To be reasonable, one has to look at the historical context rather than judge by contemporary standards. But my point is that, in a historical context, Islam is not alone in using religion as an excuse for temporal barbarity. In fact, in medieval times, Islam was generally much more tolerant in its treatment of people of other religions than the Catholic Church. The issue is that Christianity, or really more to the point, western culture has evolved more than the cultures in predominantly Islamic countries.