Monday, October 1, 2012

Dumbass Idea of the Week: Me Edition

What was my dumbass idea for the week?  Thinking that I could have an actual discussion with people who don't even have the slightest clue about anything that has to do with history, cultural anthropology, or anything that even remotely resembles social science.

You can't explain cultural evolution to a person when the person doesn't even acknowledge the fact that the Middle East is in Asia.

You also can't argue with someone who completely ignores just about every distinction you make, and then tells you that you failed to make that very distinction.

You also can't have a discussion with someone that poses a question, or makes a point, and then completely ignores every single refutation you offered in response.

You can't debate with someone whose only answer to your refutations is "you're wrong."

You can't talk about religion with a person who tries to prove that the fringe wackoes of a particular religion somehow represent the true nature of the religion.

You can't talk about religious violence with someone who refuses to acknowledge the brutal history of Christianity.

So I'm a dumbass for arguing about the evolution of the various human cultures with a person whose understanding of culture goes only so far as to know that there's a difference between Arabs and Persians, and then subsequently tries to use such a distinction to "dismantle" my argument.  Nevermind the fact that I was speaking about "Far Eastern Asian" cutlures in comparison.

You can't argue with someone that blatantly ignores just about everything you say.


Silverfiddle said...

So why keep trying?

Perhaps you could restate your thesis for clarity's sake.

You can't escape the fact that when you disaggregate the Semetic cultures by religion, there are distinct differences.

You also cannot escape the fact that when you disaggregate Asians by religion, Muslims come out the most angry and most prone to religion-induced violence, yet you sneer at anyone who suggests Islam may be to blame.

I've disaggregated the factors for you, yet you persist.

Perhaps I misunderstand your thesis, which is why I ask you to restate it.

Silverfiddle said...

* The Middle East is in Asia, I never said it was not. What I did was point out that the cultures of Arabia, Central and South Asia (Stans) and the Far East are each distinct with their own peoples and history.

* I accept your distinctions, and also showed you how Islam-inspired violence manifested itself in all cultures, not just Arabian.

* I addressed your refutations (which were themselves digressions, rather than a restatement or support of you original point)

* I have never said that the fringe whackos represent the true nature of Islam. Perhaps you're arguing with someone else?

* I have acknowledged the brutal history of Christianity, and Judaism. Those faiths have left it behind and moved into the modern liberal world. Large pockets of Islam have not, and the decapitations, stonings, bombings, burnings, murders and execution of women and homosexuals testify to this fact.

* You're the one who tried to blame it all on Arab Culture. I can't help it if your premise is indefensible.

Jack Camwell said...

"THE MIDDLE EAST IS IN ASIA. Wrong. Just because you parked a boat in Bahrain once doesn't make you an expert."

That is what you said, verbatim. I copied and pasted from your comment. The culture of the Stans and the Middle East are not the same, but they are similar in many ways. Just as the Germans and French had similar histories, but their cultures are different.

It's not until you hit far east Asia that we see the huge cultural differences. And I'm sorry Silver, but Indonesia and Malaysia have NOT seen anywhere near the same levels of violence as is experienced in the Middle East. THey are no more violent than the US. Actually, the US probably has them beat on violent crime and civil unrest.

The faiths of Judaism and Christianity have remained the same, the only difference between them is difference in interpretation. The modern inrepretations of those religions have come from the evolution of Western Civilization.

Christianity is based on the Bible, and the Bible has not changed for two thousand years. The ONLY difference between Christians now and CHristians 500 years ago is that the cultures have evolved. Had it not been for the Enlightenment, we'd probably still be burning heretics at the stake.

Judaism and Christianity HAVE NOT changed. They have not evolved. The people who practice those religions HAVE evolved culturally, and their understanding and interpretation of those religions have evolved as well.

As I said before, there are 1.2 billion muslims in the world. Of that 1.2 billion, MAYBE 10% of them buy into the violence, and 30% of them live in despotic countries where they are kept uneducated. That means that there are nearly a billion Muslims in the world who DON'T buy into the violence.

If Islam were the problem, then we would see a much bigger majority of Muslims advocating violence. They simply do not, and therefore we cannot deduce that the problem is Islam, anymore than we can deduce that Christians tortured Jews because there was a problem with Christianity.

During the Spanish Inquisition, can we say that the problem was Christianity? No, the problem was with the assholes in charge.

And finally, your brand of Christianity does NOT represent my brand of Christianity. Just because a bunch of Baptists believe that the earth is only 5,000 years old does not mean that all Christians believe it. It also does not mean that Christianity itself is the problem.

Morons are the problem Silver.

Jack Camwell said...

Also, if Islam is the problem, then why aren't we seeing riots here in America?

Silverfiddle said...

A couple of things, Jack...

First, your geographical hangup means nothing to the conversation. I have made it clear that Arabs are distinct from the other regions in question, regardless of what geographical category you put them in.

On the subject of violence, you stray. We are not talking about street crime. We are talking particularly about religion-inspired violence, and the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and even Indonesia have it. It may be somewhat less in the far east, but what there is of it is overwhelmingly Islam-inspired, not Christian, not Jewish, but Islamic.

"During the Spanish Inquisition, can we say that the problem was Christianity?"

Yes! Not the root of the problem, but religiously-inspired nuts were behind it, just as Islamic-inspired violence today.

Can you please restate your thesis? I think it would help the conversation.

Silverfiddle said...

Also, if Islam is the problem, then why aren't we seeing riots here in America?

I don't know. Perhaps Muslims here are happier. We do have the freest, safest, most successful Muslim population in the world. Perhaps that's why.

But to go to the root of your question, for something to be a "problem" doesn't mean it must be a problem anywhere, and anyway, we are dealing with a multi-faceted phenomenon. Rarely can something so complex be chalked up to one single cause.

Again, please restate your thesis, since I think it would help keep us on track.

Anonymous said...

awful lonely up there a the top, ain't it?

knowing everything there is to know is off putting to mere mortals

Jack Camwell said...


If stating historical facts counts me as a know-it-all, then yes, I guess I'm a know-it-all.

It's only off-putting to people who feel inadequate to the challenge.

Silver a couple of things,

1. Christianity was NOT the problem. Christianity did not cause the idiots to riot and burn witches at the stake. Christianity was merely an excuse for the violence. No where in the Gospels does Jesus say that we should torture people should they refuse to convert. No where does he advocate the death penalty for non-believers.

The Bible has not changed. Jesus' message has not changed. The only thing that has changed over time is cultural interpretations of the Bible.

2. You hit the nail on the head when you said "I don't know. Perhaps Muslims here are happier. We do have the freest, safest, most successful Muslim population in the world. Perhaps that's why." That's precisely my point. Muslims here enjoy freedom of religion, wealth, and a relatively stable society. They have no reason to riot, because they know that inciting violence will only lead to bad places. If Islam were the problem, then even THEY would flip out and do crazy shit. But the fact of the matter is that most American Muslims condemn the violence perpetrated in the name of Allah. Why? Because they live in a culture that has (for the most part) evolved beyond its Medieval roots.

Arab and Persian culture, for the most part, have not evolved past that point--clearly. At least not in that region of the world.

Arab culture in UAE has, however, evolved greatly. They are relatively violence free. Sure, it's not legal to practice Christianity, but they don't persecute Christians. The four times I visited Dubai, at no point was I treated poorly or did I feel like an outcast. It's a nice place to be, and it's in the heart of the Middle East.

3. The violence in Indonesia and Malaysia is FAR LESS than what we see in the Middle East. The riots that took place over the Muhammad video in Indonesia were way less destructive than say, the LA Riots? And it has only been since 9/11, particularly within the last 6ish years or so, that radical Islamic violence has occured in Indonesia and Malaysia. Before that, they were no more violent than the US. Then again, the world as a whole was a much different place before 9/11.

Jack Camwell said...

My thesis is this: the violence we see occurs because of the unevolved culture in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Stans. We have to remember, however, that the riot in Libya was only like 40 people, and many of those people have been hunted down and killed by the militias to exact justice.

Many of those countries are not westernized. Their people are poor, uneducated (for the most part) and they live or had lived under despotic rule for a long, long time. Their despots used Islam to condition their people into zealots just as the Catholic church used Christianity to condition the European peoples.

The brutality of European culture pre-19th century was not a result of Christianity. European culture was brutal way before that. Rome? Barbarians? All brutal peoples. Same with Arabs and Persians. Those cultures were brutal and bloodthirsty THOUSANDS of years before Islam came about (remember, Islam only started around 625 AD).

More westernized countries--or shall we say more modernized countries--experience much less religious violence. Granted, they probably experience a lot of violence for other reasons, but we don't see the whole society burning in flames.

Yes, some Christians were attacked a few years ago by some Muslims in Indonesia. But just a few months ago, some asshole went and shot up a Sikh temple because he was too fucking stupid to realize that Sikhism is Hindu in origin, not Muslim. Religious violence is nothing new to history, and religion isn't the problem.

Just as Western Civilization modernized and evolved, some Muslim countries are doing the same. Just as religious violence slowed down in the west, the same is happening to countries like the UAE.

It's culture, not religion. They are only sort of intertwined, and since there are 1 billion PEACEFUL Muslims in the world, that should be the biggest indicator.

Silverfiddle said...

Islamic culture and religion are not "sort of" intertwined, they are one, if you listen to Muslims themselves.

Stories such as this are so ubiquitous as to be unremarkable.

And this stuff happens in Far East cultures as well, so at, best, it's a muddled picture, but Islam is the common factor, since you don't see this from Christian Arabs or Jewish people from that region.

Jack Camwell said...

UAE? You still haven't addressed that. Why are there no riots in a Middle Eastern Muslim country? Why is there no religious violence in the UAE, where it's illegal to practice Christianity?

Anyway, a "near riot" doesn't really count. And the Muslims in France are persecuted. You'd be pretty mad if the US banned Christians from wearing cross necklaces, just as the Muslims in France had the right to be angry that the head scarves were banned. And you'd be even agrnier if you knew the people behind a cross-banning legilsation were Muslim. How many "near riots" do you think would happen here if that ever happened? So yeah, of course the Muslims there are not going to be super magnanimous.

Silverfiddle said...

No one claimed that there cannot be Muslims who do not riot, so your UAE question in irrelevant.

We all agree that there are peaceful Muslims. What I have pointed out to you over and over is to look at the religious violence coming out of Islam. Only Hindus come close.

We see Islamic religious violence not just in Arab cultures, but Central Asian and Far East Asisan ones as well. Common factor: Islam.

This guy has a pretty good perspective on the issue: Islamic Fanaticism.

Silverfiddle said...

@ 2. You hit the nail on the head when you said "I don't know. Perhaps Muslims here are happier. We do have the freest, safest, most successful Muslim population in the world. Perhaps that's why." That's precisely my point. Muslims here enjoy freedom of religion, wealth, and a relatively stable society. They have no reason to riot, because they know that inciting violence will only lead to bad places. If Islam were the problem, then even THEY would flip out and do crazy shit.

But the American Muslim community, as well as the European continent, is producing jihadis. Culture?

Jack Camwell said...

You're claiming that Islam is the problem, but there are plenty of peaceful Muslims in the world. Pointing out a Muslim country that is NOT violent is NOT irrelevant, because it completely disproves your point.

You mentioned that there are jihadis here in America--I'm assuming you're referring to the Ft. Hood shooter and the guy we blasted in Yemen with a drone. A fair point, but ultimately futile when we look at how violent American society as a whole is anyway.

My point is that human violence happens with or without Islam. Islam itself does not create violence, and it does not push people to violence. People who are able to kill another human being over an idea are people who were deeply disturbed already.

An idea only gives you an excuse to release your venom. Look at the Breivik guy in Norway. He goes to a day camp and murders eighty-five people--mostly kids. We can say that extreme right-wing anarchism pushed him to do it. We can say that xenophobes, Christianity, and capitalism were the problem. Or we can say that perhaps HE was the problem.

Maybe it was the way he was brought up. Maybe he was just already predesposed to turning out violent. Why was he violent when others with similar ideas as his were not violent?

Silverfiddle said...

You again conflate ordinary criminal violence with religiously (or ideology)-inspired violence. Two distinct issues, and we are only discussing the latter.