Here’s an interesting divide: do we choose the security of a loyal untruth over the presence of a disloyal but uncomfortable truth?
As you know, because you have read “Shimmer”, I track Pamela Geller as a friend (friendly) but not as the final word on Islam: I know and love too many “Islamic Humanists”, Muslim Americans living with all Americans no differently than Christian Americans or Jewish Americans or Sikh Americans or Hindu Americans (the list of religious affiliations and differentiation in America gets quite long). I enjoy the effort of Irshad Manji and and Mudar Zahran and others to know the location of their hearts and ethics and find it in their lives as Muslims.
The American anti-Jihad and counter-terrorism and related communities — not to mention the consultant-watchers of NSA and other organizations about — is fairly extensive and scholarly in their reading (I haven’t friend Robert Spencer) in their reading of Qur’an and Hadith in something like the manner in which those elements are interpreted by terrorists who are Muslim and who carry out their crimes with what they believe accords injunction found in the Qur’an.
Geller rakes muck, perhaps doesn’t follow up as meticulously as she should, and she writes with interest, so we may frame her in the “special interest” press, not far off the Coptic press, the Catholic one, the Jewish one, or, alas, the jihad ones with the black flags. Nonetheless, and having looked, I must accept Jeremy D. Mayer’s criticism, she’s on a right track IF we’re chatyping about al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, the Muslim Brotherhood as exemplified in the policies and practices demonstrated so swiftly by former Egyptian President Morsi, etc. She asks — as Sinem Tezyapar might ask — what kind of human, what kind of Muslim, troops into Mumbai, for example, and commits the atrocities committed there? Were those humans Muslims or not? New York – London – Madrid: same question. Westgate Shopping Mall, Nairobi, Kenya: Muslim? Not Muslim? Something else?
Here’s where I differ some from Pamela Geller: I’m willing to recognize the humanity in my humanist, reformation, trying hard Muslim friends because they recognize humanity in me, a Jew, a Zionist, and have in their deeds and in their words both goodness and integrity.
It’s that last word that the fighting — all of it, from the Gaza Strip to to whatever’s going on today in Iraq — is all about.
Is it permissible to deceive the infidel? Or not? In the name of Islam?
There’s a lot of money tied up in conflict, and not all of it — probably little of it — goes into fighting. It goes into extraordinary self-aggrandizement (count the number of Saddam’s palaces – and we rue the day we did business that way: that’s an era that has passed, God willing). It goes into “skimmers” who use their political power to dip their hands into the state’s wealth, or leverage it (Putin-Assad-Khamenei could not be more different in their talk, but for the character of their person, they are the same person, until one, and only one has the power today, turns around).
So what manner of Muslim these days – “Carlos” solidarity, OBL base, out into the universe with Rumi (I like him), tenuously holding on to balance like Musharraf, promoting the whole program like Zia Haq? This is hard stuff. The Jews, for the most part, are arranged differently: we don’t take the word of God at face value (because we believe He doesn’t want us to but rather means for us to discover His meaning from one generation to the next: it doesn’t give us a lot of room for launching offensives in the manner of Constantine or other generals; we don’t conflate men with God; and we search tirelessly for better answers in accord with Hillel’s question: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, WHAT am I?”
Pamela Geller isn’t about hate. She’s about love. So I believe are many others I have met and what they have in them may be less the province of religion and more the nature of a decent and still emerging humanity.
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Most conversations like the above that I’ve encountered take place in a spectrum of what I call “middle east hate-peace peace groups”. Some are nasty. It’s easy to meet through chatyping the most strident of Israeli nationalists and the worst of hidebound anti-Semites, not that I’m about to name names. Some are closed and collegial and inclined to scrape up the documents and narratives of hurtful histories but, alas, with parochial spin.
I co-moderated one such group on another social network a long time ago (or, here in cyberspace, what seems like a long time ago). Since then and with the memory of my first encounter with deeply embedded anti-Semitism have arrived at some thought that is close to the heart of this blog, i.e., that “attitudes and beliefs” are contingent on early language uptake programming — how we are taught to listen and to know what is important to listen to — and scripting, which is the transmitted way of a (language) culture. To navigate through and out of conflict that has its life primarily in the mind means addressing some early programming and scripting with the knowledge that some things need to become the artifacts of age left behind.
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