Sunday, September 17, 2006

Oriana Fallaci – the eulogies


I read loads this weekend (see here and here and even here) about what a great woman Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci was, who died last Friday, aged 77 – of how she was a courageous woman in the face of Islamic terror, etc…

But as she got older, and certainly after 9/11, she turned into an elderly Italian version of Ann Coulter – in other words, a ranting, raving right wing bigot.

Here is just part of what she said on Polish TVP television after the lethal bombings by British religious fanatics in London in July last year.

Interviewer: Father Andrzej Majewski: Those responsible for the terrorist attacks on London were Muslims born in Great Britain or English citizens [actually third generation British]. They can therefore be considered Europeans. Do you believe that in order to defend our continent and western society we should banish all the Muslims from Europe?

Oriana Fallaci: To begin with, they are not Europeans at all. They can’t be considered Europeans. Or not more than how we could be considered Islamic if we lived in Morocco or Saudi Arabia or in Pakistan taking advantage of residence or citizenship.

Citizenship has nothing to do with nationality, and it takes a good deal more than a piece of paper on which it is written English or French or German or Spanish or Italian or Polish citizen to make us English or French or German or Italians or Poles.

That is, an integral part of a history and a culture. In my opinion, even those with citizenship are guests and that’s that.

Or rather, privileged invaders.

Naturally, if they want to go of their own free will, I wouldn’t cry over it. Quite the contrary, I would light a candle to the Madonna.

In the essay published a few days ago by the Corriere della Sera, “We are treating the enemy like a friend”, I even suggest they do so. “If we are so ugly, so bad, so disgusting and sinful,” I say, “”if you hate us and despise us so much, why don’t you just go back to your own homes?”

The fact is that they would do anything but. It’s the furthest thought from their minds. And even if they were to think about it, how could such a thing take place? Through an exodus equivalent to that in which Moses brought the Jews from Egypt and crossed the Red Sea? They are too many, by now. Calculating only those who are in the European Union, as the most recent data suggests, they are around 25 million. Calculating even those who are in countries outside the European Union and in the Ex Soviet Union, around 60 million.

Dear Father Andrzej, it is by now too late to ask them to go back home. We should have, you should have, asked that of them twenty years ago. That is, when I was already saying, “But don’t any of you understand that this is an invasion that has been well calculated, and if we don’t stop them we will never be free of them again?”

Now explain to me how that same rant could not have come from the mouth of a Jean Marie Le Penn, or any other dribbling neo-fascist.

Great woman? She may have been once, but by the time she died she was just a senile old racist.

More?
Even her rantings are too much for Chris Hitchens, that arch foe of 'Islamofascists' everywhere - see Holy Writ, Atlantic, April 2003

41 comments:

Jannovak57 said...

Well now could the above article fit a classical liberal leftist diatribe?

If one were to survey the opinions and how they are likely to be articulated by people of the old Europe particularly those in their mid 70’s, she’s likely in not in a minority position.

So are all the people in this demographic uniformly racist fascists?

Lets face it we are dealing with a clash of cultures as aspects of conservative Islam are not compatible with main stream European values very strikingly so with respect to women’s rights. Taking a vocal in your face stand against this does not or should not drop some one in the cubbyhole of racist fascist.

Politically correct thinking was the greatest gift ever presented to the intellectually lazy.

Europe has no tradition of absorbing waves of immigration; there is no American style melting pot or general acceptance of the alternative that is a form of multi-culturalism. Some people with justification can suggest that multi-culturalism is a form of ghetto-ization.

Justifiably many new comers from societies based on Islamic traditions find themselves in a no-mans land even after a few generations. Therefore if it is clear that adapting to European society is not practical because of cultural differences, it opens a completely different debate and one that virtually no main stream politian in Europe wishes to address let alone even discuss.

So let’s give Oriana Fallaci a break.

beatroot said...

No, I certainly won’t be giving her a break.

First of all, I am no multiculturalist. I think we should be building values etc that we can all believe in.

Lets face it we are dealing with a clash of cultures as aspects of conservative Islam are not compatible with main stream European values

Let me quote you another piece of her racist garbage. She has just talked about the barbaric practice of female circumcision. Then she says:

...thank God I never had any sentimental or sexual or friendly rapport with an Arab man. In my opinion there is something in his brothers of faith which repels the women of good taste.

Most Muslims are not Arab – only 1 in 5 are. She also assumes that female circumcision is an exclusively Muslim practice – ignoring that it is in Africa (not Arabia) where this practice is most common. And Christian and Animist religions do this too.

But no matter: for her all Muslims are barbarians and barbarians all are Arab.

That’s racism.

ignacy said...

"Politically correct thinking was the greatest gift ever presented to the intellectually lazy."
_______

Is there just one kind of "political correctness," always liberal?

Are all liberals just lazy?

There are many theories and models of assimilation beyond "melting pot" and "multiculturalism."

beatroot said...

There are many theories and models of assimilation beyond "melting pot" and "multiculturalism."

That’s a completely correct, though maybe not politically correct, thing to say.

People should be free to believe whatever they want. But there must be something higher than any of those beliefs to stick us all together. It’s about time we started talking about what those values are.

Unfortunately, people like Fallici seem to think that even something like ‘European –ness’ is contingent on being Christian – or maybe NOT Muslim. And that’s how basing identities on religious identities is dangerous. There are HUMAN values that we should be uniting around. And that’s difficult when you have people like Fallici, or her opposites, the multiculturalists, dominating the ‘debate’.

steppx said...

Fallaci was a raving racist and bigot....intolerant and --well, mostly just nuts.

So, no, no breaks for Fallaci....and that first comment from Janovak57 is typical of the bigotry afoot these days.

Western paternalism is dangerous....and deep seated. I see it all the time. People demonize Muslims...."I wouldnt want to live uner an Islamic theorcracy".....well, you dont have to....and would you rather live under a Jewish one or a Hindu one? All religions have fanatics. And western understanding of Islam is astoundingly ill informed. Astoundingly.

I agree with beat....mostly. Im not a multi culti either....nor a relativist....B U T i do think one has to work hard to correct the current propaganda against muslisms. I see it in various forms almost everywhere....they are the new Nazis....and this crap comes directly from the US state dept and Murdoch media outlets. Its what Kwitney once called the creation of endless enemies.

And on the heels of Pope Ben's rather stupid and clueless remarks (I hope just clueless) its hard not to want to even more energetically defend muslims.

John Brown said...

Europe is awash in racism.

There can be no discussion of multiculturalism, assimilation, etc until bigotry is seen for what it is, instead of allowing it to surreptitiously infect the dialogue - not to mention inflame the often imperceptible discrimination that perpetuates the problems bigots like Fallaci claim to address.

Culture is culture. Law is law. And bigotry is bigotry. Sort those things out or there's no discussion, only violence.

Michael Farris said...

And for what it's worth, I agree with Fallacci that the July 7 bombers were _not_ british in any meaningful way (legalities of citizenship aside). The first fule of nationality is do not turn against your national group. They may have been British at one time, but by the time they turned into mass-murderers they were ideologically stateless.

"And on the heels of Pope Ben's rather stupid and clueless remarks (I hope just clueless) its hard not to want to even more energetically defend muslims."

He was quoting someone, not giving his opinion. And I'm pretty sure his remarks were edited in translation for maximum damage by people who want to stir up the muslim street for their own purposes.

As for their part, chances are most demonstrators could not understand the context of his speech even if it were translated into their own languages*. They don't care about theological niceities. Their point is simply to demonstrate their loyalty to islam against non-muslims as loudly and forcefully as possible.

*this is not racism, but recognition that educational standards in most of the muslim world either don't exist, are abyssmally low or are centered around memorizing the Koran (without learning the language it's written in). the reasons are interesting but not directly related to our discussion.

sonia said...

Beatroot,

I think you've set up a false dichotomy in your post.

You criticize those who say that Fallaci was 'a courageous woman in the face of Islamic terror', claiming INSTEAD that she was a bigot and a racist.

How about 'a courageous racist and bigot who denounces Islamofascist oppression' ?

A bit like 'courageous Red Army soldiers fighting against Nazism' who were also 'savage rapists committing atrocities against German civilians'...

Why is it so difficult to admit that things might be morally complex sometimes ?

ignacy said...

Dese guys are mad and Palestinian militants are burning churches, wid dese guys promising more of the same and worse, coz da Pope (rather dumbly) quoted some guy from 600 years ago who thought Muslims were violent?

... a statement by the Mujahideen Shura Council posted on Sunday on an Internet site often used by al Qaeda and other militant groups:

"We shall break the cross and spill the wine ... God will (help) Muslims to conquer Rome ... (May) God enable us to slit their throats, and make their money and descendants the bounty of the mujahideen."

Where are the Muslims asking for an apology from the Mujahideen Shura Council?

posterboy said...

"I think we should be building values etc that we can all believe in .... there must be something higher than any of those beliefs to stick us all together. It’s about time we started talking about what those values are."

Classic utopianism. The sad bottom line is that for the majority of Muslims the only values deemed compatible with Islam are Islam's values. That's not a great starting point for consensus building. Europe may well be awash with bigotry (when was it ever not?) but so is the Muslim population in Europe. But don't let reality get in the way of well intentioned liberal relativist humanism. Why doesn't beatroot ever take a pop at Islamic bigotry and the speeches of Ahmadinejad, Al-Qaradawi, Al-Zarqawi, Abu Hamza or the Mujahideen Shura Council?

jannovak57 said...

In defence of Oriana Fallaci:

Beatroot quoted Fallaci as saying

...thank God I never had any sentimental or sexual or friendly rapport with an Arab man. In my opinion there is something in his brothers of faith which repels the women of good taste.

Beatroot feels the above comment was typical of her racism.

If a western woman decides not to have relationships with a specific group of men whose view on women’s rights she may find unacceptable, it shouldn’t be classified as racist.

The common thread of all Islamic societies is that women hold an inferior social and legal status based on custom, law and religious practice. The degree of this discrimination varies with Turkey at one end and says Saudi Arabia near the other end of the scale.

Muslim apologists insist that their religion has been misunderstood and that Islam actually grants women certain rights. They blame tradition and tribal societies for the low status and oppression of women.

Since Islam exerts absolute power over every aspect of Muslim society, from diet to relations between the sexes, why has it failed in fourteen centuries of its existence, to eradicate injustices against half of its adherents?

I fear the extension of beatroots logic would lead us to criticize Israeli women for being reluctant to date neo-nazis German men since it could be misunderstood as racist behaviour.


ignacy said...


Is there just one kind of "political correctness," always liberal?

Are all liberals just lazy?

In answer to the above …yes.

Political Correctness (PC) is communal tyranny. It was a spontaneous declaration that particular ideas, expressions and behaviour, which were then legal, should be forbidden by law, and people who transgressed should be punished or ostracized. It started with a few voices but grew in popularity until it became unwritten and written law within the community. With those who were publicly declared as being not politically correct becoming the object of persecution by the mob, if not prosecution by the state in some circumstances.

Although Political Correctness can be anyone’s tool it is overwhelmingly associated with liberals suppressing alternative viewpoints. Since it’s easier than a logical rebuttal to a statement you may not agree with.

A point in question is the misuse of the term racist; it is not racist to disagree with a group or person on social issues, religion, politics or economics. It is clearly racist to belief that one 'racial group' is inferior to another.

Beatroot has stated that we should be building values we can all believe in. This is a logical and correct idea. A common set of values recognized across divides of culture, religion and economic systems would go a long way to resolve most of what ills the world.

In spite of living in a time that is unparalleled in human history for individuals to communicate instantly across the global, travel and seek knowledge we remain more divided than we were 30 years ago. After a leap forward with the fall of communism, much ground was lost to the emergence of nationalism and religious fanaticism.

So now back to common values, with respect to our western values of equality under the law, women’s rights and say tolerance for sexual minorities. Which of these would you like to compromise on to reach accommodation with the Islamic world so we can declare a common value system?

ignacy said...

"Although Political Correctness can be anyone’s tool it is overwhelmingly associated with liberals suppressing alternative viewpoints."
___

Commonly associated by whom?

Capitalist hegemony, political correctness...

All liberals are lazy???? Liberals suppressing alternative viewpoints? Seems like a contradiction.

Well, we agree on: "After a leap forward with the fall of communism, much ground was lost to the emergence of nationalism and religious fanaticism."

steppx said...

I rest my case.....how many of the above posts comment on how backward and fanatical muslims are>? And based on what evidence?

Interesting how comments like "islam exerts control over every aspect of muslim society" are made without any evidence at all --- and this means, what, SAudi Arabia or Turkey or Indonesia? Its so amazingly stupid that it hardly needs to be contested. Muslims live a variety of societies.....and there are how many different strains of Islam? (answer, many many many). Do any of these bigots think to lump Catholics and Protestants and Jehovah Witnesses together? I doubt it.

No, the demonizing of muslims is about total.

All of what Janovak57 says of Islam could be said of Christianity...in its rather more radical aspects....or mormonism....or Orthodox jews. Its just so breath taking myopic and narrow minded...and ill informed.

Quoting some radical fringe Mullah is hardly relevant......unless I counter with Pat Robertson's latest....or such like. I mean do none of the Muslim bashers above ever bother to check Christian thinkers of the fringe....or Hindu? Or Jewish or Mormon.

State department propaganda works.....and its growing.

Bigotry is bigorty as john brown said. Right you are.

And the Pope may have been quoting an obscure medieval thinker....but thats hardly the point (duh)....the point is timing (duh again) and how utterly inflamatory the remarks were. Why was he using that quote one might ask???

But he has apologized....so there goes infallibility.

steppx said...

and posterboy (bigotry's posterboy).....
why do you mention only radical fanatic muslims? i suspect because you know of no other....being deeply ignorant. Now I hate to be rude....but its deserved.

Do you need a list of Muslim writers and thinkers? I can give you one if you like. Then you dont have to rush off to buy Murdoch's latest cartoon boogey man.....start with some of the very fine journalists writing around the world who are arab or muslim. few are fanatics however....so you might have a steep learning curve ahead.

Let me know.

here is a start:
http://www.islamicwritersalliance.net/

http://www.muslim.org/sa-case/evidence/s20.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_famous_Muslims

steppx said...

forgive me.....one last link.....

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,1874786,00.html

beatroot said...

Mike
And for what it's worth, I agree with Fallacci that the July 7 bombers were _not_ British in any meaningful way (legalities of citizenship aside).

No, Mike, they were not British citizens on any technicality, they were as British as me. They were third generation – so when Fallaci or the British National Party or other fascist says they should ‘go home’ (yawn) then the only place they could go is Yorkshire, England.

Sonia
How about 'a courageous racist and bigot who denounces Islamofascist oppression' ?

That is pretty much what I said except that when her rants against your ‘Islamo-fascism’ complete negates itself by being as equally intolerant as the ‘Islamo-fascists’ .

The planned building of a new mosque and Islamic center near Siena near where she lives enrages Fallaci so much that she promised if she is alive when it’s finished, she will blow it up: "I do not want to see this mosque—it's very near my house in Tuscany. I do not want to see a twenty-four-metre minaret in the landscape of Giotto. When I cannot even wear a cross or carry a Bible in their country!"

So the response to the Islamo nutters is intolerance and shutting down freedoms in the west.

Which is exactly what they want us to do.. Very stupid.

Posterboy
for the majority of Muslims the only values deemed compatible with Islam are Islam's values.
Where is the evidence for that ridiculous assertion? You, like fallacy, paint one fifth of the world’s population as if they were some homogenous mass (something the multicultutalists talk about when they ask ‘community leaders’ to do something about the ‘muslim community’.

The British muslim community is full of very different groups who have very differing views on and values on all sorts of things.

Jannovak57
If a western woman decides not to have relationships with a specific group of men whose view on women’s rights she may find unacceptable; it shouldn’t be classified as racist.
Again, you are make a generalization about a group of people. Not this time about a faith group but a ‘race group.’ That’s really dumb.
Especially in the context of what she was saying about clitoral circumcision – forgetting that other religious groups do this too, then jumping to make a generalization about ARABS!
Only one in five Muslims are Arabs. And not all Arabs are Muslim.

ignacy said...

Talk about uninformed:

"But he has apologized....so there goes infallibility."

You really don't know much about Roman Catholicism, Steppx, and it shows again and again in your comments, not just the one above. Spend a bit of time and really study the doctine of papal infallibility before you pontificate about it, heh?

And Roman Catholics are not one homogeneous mass any more than are Christians or Muslims.

Yes, Benny's quote was ill or mindlessly chosen. Unfortunately, he was hanging out with Fallaci for whatever reason not too long ago so maybe that explains it. I hope not.

roman said...

beatroot,

Thanks for the link to "Holy Writ" by Chris Hitchens. The piece is very insightful and offers some level headed conclusions. I heard Hitchens' name bandied about but never really had the privilege of reading his viewpoints.

steppx,

You said; "I mean do none of the Muslim bashers above ever bother to check Christian thinkers of the fringe....or Hindu? Or Jewish or Mormon."

Why should they? As far as I know, none of their "followers" are donning explosive vests and killing innocent women and children lately. None of their "followers" have flown jumbo jets full of innocent women and children into buildings killing themselves and thousands of other women and children. None of their followers continue even today to plot killing even more. None of their followers attack others of their own faith while on religious pilgrimage. None of them kidnap innocents and slit their throats while videotaping the gruesome acts and circulating same to gain the highest state of terror possible. None of them promote their religious ideals by means of unrelenting violent terror on a WORLDWIDE scale.
As your comments above and in previous discussions dealing with terror by Islamic fanatics attest, you have a penchant of utilizing terms such as bigot, racist, stupid and ignorant. Telling us then that you hate to be "rude" comes as quite a surprising revelation. Quite frankly, I find that hard to believe.

steppx said...

roman....Please do try and read the original comments.

This is in the context of bigotry.....and people referring ONLY to the radical fringe of islam.

*WHY* should they read writers of other religions? Well, because it might help cure them of this narrow minded provincial ignorance.....of which you take part.

Listen...how many times have I had to list the terror attacks of non-muslims? On this blog? Now.....one wonders at the amazing ability you have to ignore these things.

Here it is again....Abortion clinic bombers, IRA, ETA, Tamil Tigers, Shining Path, BJP hard liners, and the endless skin head thugs throughout europe, or the cult subway (attempted) attacks in japan. NONE of them are Muslims. And this is, rather clearly, a partial list off the top of my head.

Lets examine, as Ive tried to point out before, the numbers of dead due to state terror. Ask those in Lebanon, or Afghanistan or Iraq....ask those who have died at the hands of various dictators.....those tortured in all corners of the world....by state terrorists.....but then they use a different term. Ok, so you only get upset by stateless terror....is that it? Well, and in your mind that means ONLY Muslims.....correct?

Its fascinating to watch the desperation of the bigoted....the absolute NEED to find an enemy to hate. What is that I wonder. You might ask yourself.

You also choose, carefully, to ignore the links I provided....which is revealing in and of itself. And I linked, again obviously, only to english language sites. Imagine all the muslim sites in Arabic....or Persian. These are sites written by people with perfectly reasonable and varied world views....not fanatics. But you would prefer to buy into the cartoon fantasy of the Murdoch war mongers...and racists....and bash muslims.

steppx said...

and for michael farris.....

http://www.guardian.co.uk/pope/story/0,,1875791,00.html

steppx said...

a final link....because this is from a *very* conservative publication (how can you tell? because they are giving away downloads of Sam Huntington;s silly Clash of Civilizations) and even they point out how incredibly small the terror threat is.

http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20060901facomment85501/john-mueller/is-there-still-a-terrorist-threat.html

So maybe one needs to sit back and ponder just who is peddling the "scary arab under the bed" scenario for the easily led.....Hmmm?

Michael Farris said...

steppx,

Obviously there are people peddling 'scary arab' and 'scary muslim' scenarios for unhealthy reasons and fallaci was absolutely wrong in her apparent contention that muslims cannot integrate into european societies.

but, the muslim world is a technological and educational backwater (for lots of complicated reasons) and islam is having the hardest time of the major world religions in coming to terms with modernity and changing social realities and there are problems of non-integrating minorities in some western european countries.

For the record, I don't believe in the WOT or the 'clash of civilizations' and a look at Bush's record would indicate he doesn't either. I think the whole Iraq adventure was doomed from the start because there was no way that that administration could do the occupation/reconstruction properly.

That doesn't mean there aren't real problems that need to be addressed.

And as long as we're trading links, this pleasant fellow is calling for the assassination of the pope.

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23367232-details/The+Pope+must+die%2C+says+Muslim/article.do

Fortunately saner muslim leaders in the uk have tried to smooth things over, but .... I'm not happy that more than 10 people take this guy seriously.

And I know there are scary fringe elements in US christianity (I'm from the South, afterall) but most of their followers have a high cognitive dissonance threshhold and don't actually try to apply those ideologies in their daily lives or in public life.

ignacy said...

The WTC loomed incredibly large in the lives of New Yorkers and many Americans before the terrorist attack. I grew up watching it get built. Never a devotee of global corporate capitalism, the thought that even a handful of Muslim (they weren't Irish Catholic) terrorists were/are capable of getting into airplanes (which I very occasionly fly in) and smash into a building that I have been in and travelled under does strike fear into my heart no matter how small the chances that I could find myself in that spot at the time any such terror attack transpires. Obviously 3000 people were in that situation and they died horrific deaths and their families, including many children still grievously mourn. I recently visited the hole in the ground where the WTC stood and I wept. If I were ever in Jenin, etc., I would no doubt find tears in my eyes, too.

I certainly do not support Bush's militaristic adventurism which revolves first and foremost around oil. And I don't support indiscrimiate Muslim bashing. And even though I consider myself an orthodox (small o) Catholic in many but certainly not all ways, I have more than my share of problems with Benny's pronouncements about other religions, the role of women, and homosexuality. When all's said and done, however, I just don't find the Pope, the Vatican, or the Church as much a problem or a threat as the handful of Muslims who are obviously willing to kill folks like me and even Steppx no matter what our political beliefs might be.

But I also find much of the left equally and even more disturbing with it's incessant vitriolic ranting, even as I agree with much -- but not all -- of the arguments put forth. In other words,I find the left to be it's own worst enemy....

beatroot said...

I find the left to be it's own worst enemy....

Which areguments do you find to be 'virtriolic ranting?

What about my main question: how are the rantings of fallaci any different to the rantings of neo-tascists?

ignacy said...

Fallaci had her moments earlier on in her life but then in the past few years it does seem she went bonkers. Worse still, she was given a audience a couple of months ago by P. Benny.

I do not think the folks posting here are flat-out idiots, bigots, etc. And dialogical encounter is not enhanced by so readily resorting to such rejoinders.

Here's something from Leszek Kolakowski penned in response to a broadside directed to him from EP Thompson way back in 1974 that I just recently reread that seems to be relevant to my point (even the last sentence):

You say that we should help the blind to recover their sight. I accept this advice with a slight restriction: it is difficult to apply when you have to do with people who are omniscient and all-seeing anyway. I do not remember having ever refused a discussion with people who were ready to have it, the trouble is that some were not, and this precisely because of their omniscience, which I lacked. True, I was almost omniscient (yet not entirely) when I was 20 years old but, as you know, people grow stupid when they grow older, and so, I was much less omniscient when I was 28 and still less now. Nor am I capable of satisfying those who look for perfect certainty and for immediate global
solutions to all the world's calamities and misery. Still, I believe that in approaching other people we should, as far as we are able to do so, follow the Jesuit, rather than the Calvinist, method; this means, we ought to presuppose that nobody is totally and hopelessly corrupted, that everybody, no matter how perverted and limited, has some good points and some good intentions we can catch hold of. This is admittedly
easier to say than to practise and I do not think that either of us is a perfect master in this maieutic art.

sonia said...

Steppx,

Pope may have been quoting an obscure medieval thinker

No, he wasn't. He was quoting a Byzantine emperor whose country was under attack from savage hordes of Muslim invaders. His capital, Constantinople, fell to the Muslims only 30 years after his death.

beatroot said...

Ignacy: So I think you agree with me.

As far as do not think the folks posting here are flat-out idiots, bigots, etc. And dialogical encounter is not enhanced by so readily resorting to such rejoinders....

Now I am completly lost. What rejoiners?

ignacy said...

I wasn't honing in on you, BR, although you've vented in excess from time-to-time as have I. Besides, you don't come across as a leftist in my estimation given your critique progress critics.

I just came across the below from: http://matthew-krell.streetprophets.com/storyonly/2006/9/18/1368/16785/

I was beginning to think that P. Benny was in league with the neo-cons to sway the upcoming congressional elections in the US (indeed, Bush's popularity ratings have gone up as the fear quotient has noticeably gone up) but now, after reading the above linked piece in its entirety, I may have been swayed in the opposite direction. Here's a long snippet from the blog post:

In quoting him, the Pope knew full well that this was a deeply flawed conversation; he characterized Manuel's speech as "startlingly brusque," which is just diplomacy-speak for "incredibly rude." What is crucial to understand is that the Pope chose this conversation not because of Manuel's flawed and bigoted view of Islam, but precisely because --however flawed -- it was a conversation. The Pope chose to comment on an ancient conversation between West and East precisely because the modern West, in his estimation, has lost the ability even to carry on this kind of conversation.

The Cardinal Ratzinger who struggled mightily to help the Catholic Church come to terms with its violent past in 2000, now six years later wants to help the West talk about violence again. And he finds that it is not the Muslims who cannot talk about it, but contemporary Western society that cannot talk about it. Why not? Because contemporary Western society cannot do what Muslim societies are able to do; contemporary Western culture cannot reconcile reason with faith. The Pope's speech at Regensberg was an impassioned plea to the West to recover the union of reason and faith so as to be able to talk to cultures --such as Islam -- that unite reason with faith.

Far from criticizing Muslims, at Regensberg Pope Benedict was aligning himself with them. The money quote from the Pope's remarks at Regensberg is this:


And so I come to my conclusion. This attempt ...at a critique of modern reason from within has nothing to do with putting the clock back to the time before the Enlightenment and rejecting the insights of the modern age.... The intention here is not one of retrenchment or negative criticism, but of broadening our concept of reason and its application. While we rejoice in the new possibilities open to humanity, we also see the dangers arising from these possibilities and we must ask ourselves how we can overcome them. We will succeed in doing so only if reason and faith come together in a new way, if we overcome the self-imposed limitation of reason to the empirically verifiable, and if we once more disclose its vast horizons. In this sense theology rightly belongs in the university and within the wide-ranging dialogue of sciences, not merely as a historical discipline and one of the human sciences, but precisely as theology, as inquiry into the rationality of faith.

Only thus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today. In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world's profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures.

steppx said...

Michael.......well, I agree with a lot of your last post.
I linked that Foreign Affairs piece because it was from the right.....and suggested an american was more likely to drown in his bath than die in a terrorist attack. So clearly there isnt really such a big threat at all. And yes, Islamic countries are suffering a period of economic deprivation -- but it links to colonialism (and other historical issues....petro dollars for one) rather directly....and not to something inherent in the religion. IF they are having a hard time coming to terms with modernism....well, then I think this becomes a huge topic. What do we mean by modernism....and does everyone have to embrace our notions of it?

Ignacy.....I think if someone like Fallaci is ranting about how inferior Arabs are....and others apologize for her (or the Pope -- and I mean, puh-leeze...read the last section of the Guardian article for choice Benedict quotes) then they should, I feel, be called bigots....because I think thats what they are.

Im not an expert on Catholic doctrine....dont pretend to be.

But the Pope's comments were astoundingly inflammatory...dont you think? Not just ill chosen....but openly hostile...and anti-Muslim....ergo, intolerant. IS that what one wants from the head of the Church.

I think a number of commentators are bigoted.....and probably by definition, racist.

But thanks to both michael and Ignacy....who even if I disagree with you, I appreciate your responses.

beatroot said...

In the spirit of unity that has suddenly broke out, I learn from all the people whon come here. Which is cool.

I have seen the Foreign Affairs piece before with many others, and the terror threat to Americans is about 1 in 90,000 - about the same as the chance to get burried by a meteorite striking the Earth. A point I have made many times.

Ignacy: what you are saying is that Pope Benedict, unlike JP II is not into the 'inter faith dialogue'...he is not a reletavist, which is something to be welcomed, I suppose.

Although we are talking about faith here, and faith is not open to reason.

posterboy said...

Steppx: I confess to not being very well educated on Islam, but I don't believe that all Muslims are experts at flying planes into buildings. And, for the record, I lived for seven years in the Middle East and one of my best mates is a British Muslim of Pakistani descent. Not that that automatically eliminates me from the bigot category. But actually, you run pretty close to accusing me of bigotry because I happen to agree with Michael Farris and Jannovak57 (both of whom express themselves far better than I). Given that one definition of bigot is a "prejudiced person who is intolerant of opinions, lifestyles or identities differing from their own" that would appear to put you close to being a ... bigot. So let's take some of the heat out of the argument.

My point is not complex, and necessarily resorts to lumpen generalisations. My apologies in advance. Here we go. Islam, in its current (and theologically diverse) form, is not widely recognised as a progressive, inclusive, accepting and tolerant religion. In fact, it looks really quite a lot like Christianity did a few hundred years ago, complete with radical fringes, jihadists and the modern equivalent of crusaders ready to die for their religion. Islamic countries (deep breath for massive generalisation), with few exceptions, are widely recognised by respected international bodies (UN, IMF, HRW, Amnesty et al) to be neither genuinely democratic, economically successful, socially progressive or religiously tolerant. Ever tried to establish a Christian church in Yemen? How free is the media in Libya? Yes, reasons for this include colonialism, economic exploitation and racism. But the Muslim world cannot carry on pinning all the blame on Bush and nefarious West. When will Pakistan actually stamp out the hate-filled madrassas? When will the Taliban finally stop shooting and beheading and imprisoning women and allow reconstruction of their shattered country? When will Iran's theocracy have the confidence to allow unfettered satellite TV access, a political oppostion and a free press?

And when will elements of the left (to which, by the way, I ideologically affiliate myself) stop making excuses for radical Islam, for people who fly planes into buildings and for people who blow up fellow Muslims on the Tube? And when will they stop peddling 9/11 conspiracy theories?

A final point. If you think the Islamic world is being hard done by, you will doubtless be welcome in Saudi Arabia, should you wish to cease benefiting from the fruits of a Western civilisation which, though far from perfect, is in my humble opinion a damn sight better as a place to live and think than most of the Islamic world. That doesn't make me a bigot. That makes me proud of my own country and values.

steppx said...

Posterboy:
yes, with all this inclusivness here on the blog....let me give you a quick response.

Im not here to defend Islam, or any other religion. Im only trying to mitigate the muslim bashing that comes so easily to those whose major news info comes from FOX or CNN. If we've established that the terror threat (which is code for Islamic terror threat) is around the same as bath drowning or meteorites.....then we must also look at why Islam is being so targeted for demonizing. Yes Islam has fringe fanatics...so does the christian right and so do Catholics (Radio Maryja anyone?) and so does Hinduism....etc. Now someone a while back said, well, gee, those other religions dont support worldwide terror networks. I would point you back toward the above stats on the terror threat. The truth remains that the Islamic countries you listed.... Pakistan and the House of Saud....are US allies and recieve a lot of money from the US. SO did the Muhajadeen back when they opposed the Soviets. Now they call themselves the Taliban. Ok.....well, see, the effects of US foreign policy is pretty pronounced here.

Nobody is making excuses for people killing innocent civilians. But might you not also spread your outrage around a bit and denounce Israeli aggression and their treatment of the Palestinians in GAza....and the attack on Lebanon...might you not feel outrage at US bombing of Iraq...with DU tipped ordanance...or the bombing of Kosovo. Further back the US dropped bombs on two Japanese cities....for no real reason other than to send a message to Stalin. The US supported death squads in central america and helped overthrow a democratically elected president to install Mobutu in what was then, later, named Zaire. I could go on and on and on.....but you get the point.

Now I dont want to argue these historical points endlessly....some will disagree and thats fine...but the point (per this thread) is that targeting Muslims is bigotry. Muslims are not inherently evil and violent. Things do not happen in an historical vacuum.

Does the US media talk about state terror? Was Pinochet's 9/11 talked about as much as the US 9/11?

The genocide in Timor or the Suharto coup....or the establishing of the Shah in Iran?? So if you look at the numbers....and using numbers is a dangerous gambit.....you see 8 million dead in the Congo...and all using US made weapons. Stop and ponder that number. How often, however, do you hear about that war?

Darfur is much in the news today......usually with lots of misin-fo and flawed history.....and with a dose of anti-muslim propaganda. And liberals and leftists want intervention (george clooney wants intervention...and on that subject how is it GC gets to address the UN?? is there a movie star day on the UN calander??). I am rambling....but my point is that the real story behind so much of the world's violence is quite complex and usually obscured by corporate media. Muslims are not at the door to western civilization.....unless you also fear meteorites. There is no grand international threat. There are some fringe fanatics.....but they are not a threat to the US and its 2 billion dollar a day defense budget, nor to anyone in Europe either, to be honest.

Some fringe fanatics may be a threat to a small number of people....but then drunk drivers are a threat too and I fear them much more (here in Poland to be sure). So why this demonizing of Islam? Fallaci is a perfect example of a bigot. Narrow minded and badly informed and simply prejudiced and racist.

The US war on terror needs an enemy and so Islam is designated. Its easy to understand some reaction to Muslims in Europeans....the question of assimilation is a real question...and indeed at times Muslims seem over sensitive...at least to western minds. But thats why one needs to encourage cultural sensitivity. Islamic countries have been deeply influenced by europe and the west.....and occupied...and this should not be forgotton. Europe has a lot to atone for regards colonialism.

SO, in conclusion.....muslims are not the problem....they are just scapgoats. The problem is poverty and the legacy of colonialism all around the world. Suicide bombers dont fall from the sky --- they are a reaction. US foreign policy and covert activity has been part of the 'great game' for quite a while. European countries were prime players in Colonial exploitation. Of course those occupied cultures and peoples are going be behind. Look at Africa today.....why is there such poverty? Is it because black people are just stupid? Some would say so. I dont think anyone on this thread would. So why take the same kind of ahistorical bigoted stance regards Islam?

Intolerance exists in all religions.....all of them. And I think its important , as i said to michael....to address what we mean by modernism, and to be very careful not to impose our values and expectations on other cultures. Not everyone wants barbie dolls, breast implants, American Idol and 50 Cent.

Know what I mean.?

beatroot said...

stop making excuses for radical Islam, for people who fly planes into buildings and for people who blow up fellow Muslims on the Tube? And when will they stop peddling 9/11 conspiracy theories?

I agree. There is no excuse for blowing people up. Never. Muslim nations have many real grudges against the west, but this kind of terrorism should not be flattered by calling it 'political'.

beatroot said...

And what Step is pointing out is that the Muslim thing is often a kind of racism. Which I think is not a ridiculous position to take.

ignacy said...

Ignacy: what you are saying is that Pope Benedict, unlike JP II is not into the 'inter faith dialogue'...he is not a reletavist, which is something to be welcomed, I suppose.

Although we are talking about faith here, and faith is not open to reason.

___

Au contrere, mostly, BR! The Street Prophet guy whose post I was quoting was making the point that P.Benny's presentation was precisely about the need for interfaith dialogue and that Islam is more ready for it than the West which puts reason entirely above and apart from faith. Indeed, the offending quote was taken entirely out of contest and blown up by the western media to make it look like he was saying something entirely different than what he was actually saying. Please link to the Street Prophet article and read it in it's entirety or at least reread the piece of it I posted above. Of course the Street Prophet guy could be off the mark. Communication is a hard thing to do -- but is seems us beatrooters are getting better at it - it seems there is a certain rapproachment here. Maybe we're all capable of bending a bit and going the Jesuit instead of the Calvinist way after all. Cheerio.

beatroot said...

One of the first things that Benedict did was to sack the head of the Vatican Interfaith Dialogue Committee and reduce its influence. This is a much more confrontational Pope.

The thing about faith is that if you believe in Christ as savior, main prophet, and a Muslim believes something else, then one of you is a liar. That’s what Benedict thinks. It’s the end of relativism. Good. Except, as an evangelical, fundamentalist humanist-anti-thiest I think you are all wrong!

ignacy said...

Not a liar, just wrong. That's what P. Benny thinks. And one among us is right. But even then, that doesn't mean you wrongheaded folks are gonna burn.

We really don't know what P. Benny's motivation was in *moving* the guy formerly heading up that group. He may have just wanted to take a more hands-on approach. I see little evidence thus far of a confrontational approach. I saw it more in the past in his former Vatican position. In fact, I was quite frightened by the prospect of him becoming Pope. But, again, after reading the Street Prophets article, I think what's being ballyhooed about was taken waaay out of context and given meaning that he didn't intend. In fact, his intent was the exact opposite of what's being reported in the press and what's being protested.

steppx said...

Ignacy......here is an alternative reading of pope Bennie's remarks....one I think deserves consideration.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,1876422,00.html

Michael Farris said...

"And yes, Islamic countries are suffering a period of economic deprivation -- but it links to colonialism (and other historical issues....petro dollars for one) rather directly....and not to something inherent in the religion."

I should have rewritten that post, Islam, of course is an abstraction with no inherent qualities. Instead of Islam having trouble with modernity I should have written something like: Muslims seem to have greater problems confronting modernity and social change than the followers of other major world religions.

There are lots of reasons for this but I'm short on web time today.

"IF they are having a hard time coming to terms with modernism....well, then I think this becomes a huge topic. What do we mean by modernism....and does everyone have to embrace our notions of it?"

The problem is that many Muslims want the _products_ of modernity while rejecting the societal realities that make those products possible. If they didn't want the products, then no one would care, they'd be the Amish.

This is not a uniquely Muslim trait, you can say the same thing about Russia historically (and China to some extent today).

S. Stefaniuk said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
S. Stefaniuk said...

This is one of the most entertaining posts I've read in a while. I had a different take on her which I debated on http://www.qando.net/comments.aspx?Entry=4593

I never really paid much attention to her, but what was posted on that site suggesting that she was "remarkable" struck me as behavior typical of yellow journalism. I'm not surprised that she has become another Ann Coulter.