There are a disturbing number of people who don't understand the difference between ideas and those who hold them. Perhaps the clearest example yesterday was a commenter on Kiwiblog's 'Anti-Islam Speech'
thread in this exchange:
RW: "Islam is not any individual muslim, it is a socio-political ideology with religious dressings, and it is a mortal enemy of the infidel."
ERR: "Oh, now that's just sophism. What is a religion? It is an idea shared by a collection of people. If all the individual people vanish, so does the entire idea. Therefore the individuals making up Islam are a subset of the entirity of the religion."
Far from being 'sophism,' understanding the difference between destroying an idea and destroying a person is surely fundamental to the exchange of ideas. Conflating ideas and people is, well, either sophism or just plain silly.
Calling for the death of an idea does not entail calling for the death of a person. If for instance I say "I look forward to the death of the idea that flared trousers are fashionable," then I'm advocating that people no longer wear flares; I'm maybe suggesting that flared-trouser-wearers be shunned socially; what I'm not
doing is advocating killing those who wear them or sell them. On the other hand, Eric Pianka in the post below is
calling for people to die, or is at least saying he'll be happy when mass-dying happens. You see the difference? [Sheesh, you'd hardly think this was necessary to point out, would you?]
Equally, if I advocate the death of an idea or a religion I am not advocating genocide -- I'm calling for the death of an idea; the death of the religion, not the deaths of the religion's adherents
. (Not, that is, unless those adherents have taken the next step of becoming murderers themselves.)
So what lack of logic equates one with the other? The other day I quoted Eleanor Roosevelt
saying, "Great minds talk about ideas, average minds talk about events, small minds talk about people." What sort of mind confuses one with another?
There are some ideas that are so toxic they deserve to lose support. They deserve to be shunned. They deserve to die out. Just because some ideas are held very strongly -- indeed religiously
-- does not mean they can't be criticised, pilloried, satirised or laughed at. As Thomas Sowell reminds us, "Cultures are not museum pieces, they are the working machinery of everyday life." We need to judge cultures and religious beliefs and practices by the same standards as we judge "working machinery": that is, by how well they work for adherents and those affected by cultural and religious practices. The standard by which that judgement is made is life, human life. By that standard, modern Islam ranks very poorly.
The West too had its own Dark Ages before reason and individualism brought us into the sunlight of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Sadly, as the West embraced reason and went from Dark Age to Golden Age, Islamic philosophers did the reverse, rejecting reason and this earth and setting off Islam's own slide into darkness, where it has remained ever since. Without their own rebirth of reason, Islamic cultures are likely to stay there.
Whatever you can say about Golden Age Islam and its great advances, sharia
, subjugation of women, suicide bombing, virulent irrationalism and worldwide terrorism say an awful lot about modern Islam and it's current anti-life outlook. Said the Islamic philosopher who first rejected reason and this earth on behalf of his brothers, "If it's in the Koran we don't want it; if it's not in the Koran we don't need it. Said Osama bin Laden after 9/11, "We love death. The U.S. loves life. That is the difference between us two... in the [Muslim] nation there are thousands of young men who are as keen on death as Americans are keen on life." The events of the last five years in particular show these statements should be taken seriously, and judged accordingly.
Like I said, there are some ideas so toxic that they deserve to die out. Irrational, anti-life religion is one of them. "Death to the anti-life," say I.NOTE:
For your interest, I've added links to two related pieces I wrote for Scoop back in 2001: 'The Heart of the West
' and a response to critics of that piece, posted down the page from 'Who Kills the Innocents
I'm adding a link to an excellent piece by Amit Ghate on 'The Islamist Threat to Civilization
' which concretises exactly that, showing exactly what is at stake and why. It's not Islamism versus Chistianity, its Islamism versus every civilising value that the West stands for.LINKS: Anti-Islam speech - Kiwiblog
The Heart of the West - Peter Cresswell, Scoop
Who kills the innocents? - Peter Cresswell, Scoop
The Islamist threat to civilization - Amit Ghate, Capitalist Magazine
TAGS: War, Multiculturalism, Religion, Philosophy, Ethics