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Vespasiano

Ayaan Hirsi Ali Debates Timothy Garton Ash

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Mr. Garton Ash is the individual who referred to Miss Hirsi Ali as "an Enlightenment fundamentalist".

Ayaan Hirsi Ali versus Timothy Garton Ash

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Thanks, Vespasiano. Overall the debate was interesting; Ayaan raised her important points, and the opposing thoroughly entrenched academician completely conceded them. I was also surprised to find the said academician speaking confidently about the Enlightenment, and taking the ideas of it seriously; even showing familiarity with some of the works and ideas current in it. It was curious that the first thing he did when stepping upon the stage was to completely repudiate his "Enlightenment fundamentalist" charge for Ayaan.

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Thanks, Vespasiano. Overall the debate was interesting; Ayaan raised her important points, and the opposing thoroughly entrenched academician completely conceded them. I was also surprised to find the said academician speaking confidently about the Enlightenment, and taking the ideas of it seriously; even showing familiarity with some of the works and ideas current in it. It was curious that the first thing he did when stepping upon the stage was to completely repudiate his "Enlightenment fundamentalist" charge for Ayaan.

Mr. Garton Ash's contention that there were "different Enlightenments", however, is a gigantic red flag waving in the breeze. I see it as an oily, relativistic claim that no central, fundamental idea was at play during the period to distinguish it from any other or, rather, to make it worthy of a unique designation or more deserving of particular or special merit than any number of disparate intellectual movements that may have occurred at any other time or in any other cultural milieu in human history. This strikes me as an attempt to evade the essence of what the Enlightenment was.

What Mr. Garton Ash does not appear to understand or appreciate, and what Miss Hirsi Ali does, is the fact that while during that period known as the Enlightenment there was a veritable symphony of differing approaches, views and theories (some good, some not so good, and some very bad) put forth on myriad subjects, the foundation for all its counterpoint was the recognition of the efficacy of human Reason in advancing human life and the corollary demand for and insistence upon its free use. It was THIS overarching idea, as distinct from the concrete particulars of the different theses offered by individuals of the time, that brought about the tremendous transformation of the West and that made made "Enlightenment" an appropriate designation for the era.

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Mr. Garton Ash's contention that there were "different Enlightenments", however, is a gigantic red flag waving in the breeze. I see it as an oily, relativistic claim that no central, fundamental idea was at play during the period to distinguish it from any other or, rather, to make it worthy of a unique designation or more deserving of particular or special merit than any number of disparate intellectual movements that may have occurred at any other time or in any other cultural milieu in human history. This strikes me as an attempt to evade the essence of what the Enlightenment was.

Exactly. The same is true of his similar statement of Islam, that it is not "simple" or "monolithic", but "diverse". He repeatedly evades the comparison between the morals common to all practice of Islam, and the morals of Western culture, stressing instead the differing views among Muslims. Doing this, he fails to integrate the evidence and understand Hirsi Ali's statement that Islam is incompatible with "liberalism". Even when he back peddles in the end, it's not clear whether he agrees with her statement or not. I noticed that a lot of the time he spent speaking, it was to explain that despite their differences, there was no fundamental disagreement. It's amusing then that Ash's two criticisms were on the fundamentals: the nature of the Enlightenment and the nature of Islam.

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Mr. Garton Ash's contention that there were "different Enlightenments", however, is a gigantic red flag waving in the breeze. I see it as an oily, relativistic claim that no central, fundamental idea was at play during the period to distinguish it from any other or, rather, to make it worthy of a unique designation or more deserving of particular or special merit than any number of disparate intellectual movements that may have occurred at any other time or in any other cultural milieu in human history. This strikes me as an attempt to evade the essence of what the Enlightenment was.

Exactly. The same is true of his similar statement of Islam, that it is not "simple" or "monolithic", but "diverse". He repeatedly evades the comparison between the morals common to all practice of Islam, and the morals of Western culture, stressing instead the differing views among Muslims. Doing this, he fails to integrate the evidence and understand Hirsi Ali's statement that Islam is incompatible with "liberalism". Even when he back peddles in the end, it's not clear whether he agrees with her statement or not. I noticed that a lot of the time he spent speaking, it was to explain that despite their differences, there was no fundamental disagreement. It's amusing then that Ash's two criticisms were on the fundamentals: the nature of the Enlightenment and the nature of Islam.

Absolutely. At least Mr. Garton Ash is consistent . . . in a Kantian sort of way. As Miss Hirsi Ali commented in her opening remarks, he seems bothered by the fact that she is clear.

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Absolutely. At least Mr. Garton Ash is consistent . . . in a Kantian sort of way. As Miss Hirsi Ali commented in her opening remarks, he seems bothered by the fact that she is clear.

I have been really bowled over by her clarity and her principled approach to the issues. And that, I believe, is what this particular debate is great at demonstrating: the difference between someone with a principled approach to philosophy, and someone who approaches it bound to concretes. See how masterfully Hirsi Ali uses her personal experiences, what she was taught in school, and the religious texts, to form a clear picture of what Islam stands for and the threat it poses to a free society. This requires two skills: finding the distinguishing characteristic, and measurement omission. Ash is unable to do either; first, he cannot identify what makes Islam immoral, and secondly, he does not recognize that the consistency of Islam's practice does not change the nature of its ideas. Therefore he is stuck at debating the various movements within Muslim culture while Hirsi Ali runs circles around him.

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Regarding Ayaan, I have read her book, and I was most interested in the steps of her transformation. I was a little surprised at how long it had taken her to shed her beliefs; she had been devout, submissive and completely covered herself up in dress.

Yet, she reminded me of "Mig Pilot". the Russian who fled to Japan with a Mig. In both cases, it was their very devoutness, and drive to absorb their ideology, that led them to discover it's flaws and contradictions. It is for this reason that she will triumph in her debates.

She pays tribute to the freedom of ideas in Holland for her success. She found them to be a decent people. (Other than their misinformed socialistic ideas, they have the opposite mentality to other Europeans, such as Germans, when it comes to accepting authority.) It is they who changed her mind about America, by giving her the freedom to grow into the person she became.

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I agree with bborg that Ali is a much better speaker (more powerful) than Ash, who spoke first, opening with professions of admiration for Ms. Ali. He gave his 'civilized and tolerant' speech, saying the most tedious sorts of things about how "we" (Westerners I assume) should "listen to all Muslims."

For what reason? The best he could muster was to say, by implication, that one should listen to all Muslims because most of them want their cake and eat it too. That is, they often hold the following kind of contradiction: They want to be "good Muslims" and have the benefits of living in a free society.

And for this reason, we should listen to them?

Then, the thinking, independent-minded Ali spoke.

While she came from among the worst of all possible worlds, she is totally unlike the contradiction-holding majority of her European Islamic brethren, or anyone else who, either passionately or blithely holds major contradictions. She presented a narrative that was remarkably different in style from Ash’s tolerance-laden hot-air. It was invariably personal, questioning, intellectual (showing a proper respect for ideas), honest, issue-oriented, practical, and focused on making progress.

As far as I can tell, since reaching intellectual maturity, she has never asked to live a contradiction. Yet she is seen by Ash as [somehow] equivalent to those Muslims who can be characterized primarily by the fact that they hold major contradictions. I was astounded. What mental convolutions does he require in order to lump Ali in with the Muslims who want to live as "good Muslims," and receive the benefits of living in a (relatively) free society?

Very late in the session she got herself into some degree of trouble, which she saw, and admittedly did not know how to resolve, when she said that Western nations should close down Muslim schools within their own borders. And if many of these places are basically indoctrination centers for training children to become, not only slaves to Islam, but perpetrators of violent jihad; then, if laws were objective, there would be solid legal grounds for closing any school that was training and supporting criminals.

Clearly, the basis for closing down schools cannot be only the ideas held by teachers, staff, and students. And Ash leaped at the chance to accuse Ali of holding a double standard, because she did not insist on closing down Christian schools as well.

She had accused him of a double standard earlier when he said that, as a liberal, he was willing to say offensive and provocative things, and she responded: “Except to Muslims.”

And it was at that point that he must have said something offensive to Muslims, in order to prove that he was willing to do so; because for the following ten seconds whatever he said (from 56:53 to 57:03) was bleeped out – a decision he and the producer later made. At the end of the video this message flashed on the screen:

“Something impossible to discuss in the present context of discourse, was brought up in the course of the debate, and Axess-TV and Timothy Garton Ash have therefore jointly decided to edit a small section of the film.”

I assume that the self-censorship was done in order to make some attempt to protect themselves from being prosecuted -- likely for ‘hate speech.’

Ms. Ali was bleeped out for one second at 58: 39 when she said, “Is it necessary to say that Mohammed was…. [beeped out].” It seems clear to me, after hearing everything, that the end of that question was “a pedophile?”

Ash’s response was: “Absolutely.”

So, while he said that it’s absolutely necessary to voice ‘offensive’ truths, and also said that he was willing to do so; he self-censored that exact kind of statement, which I think shows that he and the producers know that they do not have freedom of speech, because they are terrorized by Muslim fanatics, and stifled by censorship courtesy of Islam’s idiot-Western-appeasers.

Ali continued:

Is it necessary? Did I say that just to offend? Or for the sake of it – because it’s delightful to be threatened – and it’s delightful to live in the way I live? No. I did not.

If, for instance, in the Netherlands, a group of Muslims push and lobby to bring down the age of marriage for girls from 18 to 15 – and if in Muslim lands, thousands, even millions of fathers marry off their daughters as minors, and adult men accept children as wives and consummate that marriage – and they all say it is moral – it is right to do so because the prophet Mohammed did it – then they make it relevant that we discuss the morality and the moral framework of Mohammed.

If they say “I am obligated – the sixth obligation of Islamic Jihad – and I’m going to go off and kill people, or spread propaganda to kill others and the infidels” and they base that on following the model of the prophet Mohammed – then they make the prophet Mohammed – they make their icon a matter of debate – and his morality. It’s not me who does that.

So it’s not for the sake of offending, but in order to engage seriously with those who put forward Mohammed and the Koran. Then it is time to engage with them along those lines, and say, “Well that may be so, but it is immoral.” And measured by the standards of today, he would be called a pedophile, in a liberal society, and that would be a crime.

When Ash spoke again he made a point of saying that there are no “immaculate reformers.” It sounded like the usual version of: “Nobody’s perfect, all men have feet-of-clay, etc.” which he seemed to be emphasizing in order to rationalize his willingness to listen to almost any Muslim while simultaneously denying the meaning of what they say. Reflecting on the achievements of the woman he was sitting next to, I found his attitude difficult to digest, but I will give him credit for just being out there engaging in public debate.

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Ali continued:

I think her retort was brilliant in itself (it's not a point I would have thought to make), but the fact that it was a retort and not a prepared part of her opening statement made it all the more impressive to me.

I understand her argument against Muslim schools, but I disagree with her about their threat in the West. I think that if the schools and the parents are subject to Western laws regarding coercion, they cannot do the damage here that they can do in an Islamic country. In a Muslim culture, the ideas are allowed to be realized, whereas here they are not. The government here can punish physical abuse. You are not allowed to beat your wife or children here. Many of the Muslim practices are rightly punished, and support of them in schools should be outlawed. The other thing that government should certainly do is to outlaw incitement of violence within schools. They can teach whatever they like, except that their god commands them to kill infidels. Everyone has a right to free speech, but not to take a club to their neighbor's skull. We can't and should not prevent immoral ideas from being taught, but we can force them to be peaceful ones. So already a Muslim school here would not be able to teach the same things as one in Saudi Arabia or Iran.

The other element of schools in Islamic environments is religious indoctrination, which prevents the child from thinking independently. However the school itself cannot accomplish this, but must be supported by parents, the community and the laws of the land. Here in the West, the ideas are robbed of their threat (since coercion is prohibited) and taught peacefully they cannot omit the physical evidence of their immorality, which is the prosperity made possible by opposite principles. How are you going to prevent a child the opportunity to see the facts of reality in the US or Britain without coercion? Over time, the Muslim community in a free country is going to change, just as the Christian community has. They will start to take their religious commandments less seriously and think for themselves. It only takes a couple generations for this to happen.

Muslim moderates have been screaming that the problem isn't Islam, but "extremists". I think the governments of the West need to be clear about what this really means. You can practice any religion you want, but not as a fundamental. If you want to be religious in a free country, that religion must come second to recognizing the individual rights of your fellow citizens as well as of your children to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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I agree with bborg that Ali is a much better speaker (more powerful) than Ash, who spoke first, opening with professions of admiration for Ms. Ali. He gave his 'civilized and tolerant' speech, saying the most tedious sorts of things about how "we" (Westerners I assume) should "listen to all Muslims."

. . . .

An excellent overview! Thank-you.

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Ali continued:

I think her retort was brilliant in itself (it's not a point I would have thought to make), but the fact that it was a retort and not a prepared part of her opening statement made it all the more impressive to me.

I understand her argument against Muslim schools, but I disagree with her about their threat in the West. I think that if the schools and the parents are subject to Western laws regarding coercion, they cannot do the damage here that they can do in an Islamic country. In a Muslim culture, the ideas are allowed to be realized, whereas here they are not. The government here can punish physical abuse. You are not allowed to beat your wife or children here. Many of the Muslim practices are rightly punished, and support of them in schools should be outlawed. The other thing that government should certainly do is to outlaw incitement of violence within schools. They can teach whatever they like, except that their god commands them to kill infidels. Everyone has a right to free speech, but not to take a club to their neighbor's skull. We can't and should not prevent immoral ideas from being taught, but we can force them to be peaceful ones. So already a Muslim school here would not be able to teach the same things as one in Saudi Arabia or Iran.

The other element of schools in Islamic environments is religious indoctrination, which prevents the child from thinking independently. However the school itself cannot accomplish this, but must be supported by parents, the community and the laws of the land. Here in the West, the ideas are robbed of their threat (since coercion is prohibited) and taught peacefully they cannot omit the physical evidence of their immorality, which is the prosperity made possible by opposite principles. How are you going to prevent a child the opportunity to see the facts of reality in the US or Britain without coercion? Over time, the Muslim community in a free country is going to change, just as the Christian community has. They will start to take their religious commandments less seriously and think for themselves. It only takes a couple generations for this to happen.

Muslim moderates have been screaming that the problem isn't Islam, but "extremists". I think the governments of the West need to be clear about what this really means. You can practice any religion you want, but not as a fundamental. If you want to be religious in a free country, that religion must come second to recognizing the individual rights of your fellow citizens as well as of your children to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I understand where you're coming from, but don't agree with this. JIHAD (the use of force and coercion in the name of Allah) is one of the Pillars of Islam. Which means that it is an integral part of the religion for which the horrid life and actions of Mohammad himself as portrayed in the Koran and the Hadiths serve as the Ideal examples. It is not an "optional" point of view open to exegesis: take it away, and whatever the remaining religion is, it isn't Islam.

In remembering her mother's response when asked how it was she could marry off her 10-year old daughter to a middle-aged man, Wafa Sultan in one of her debates, made this observation: if a Muslim commits a horrible act, he can more than likely find an example for his action in the life of Mohammad and claim that, if Mohammad did it, it must be right. Whatever other problems may arise, a Christian cannot do the same vis-a-vis Jesus Christ -- there is no Biblical precedent in Jesus' life and actions to justify it. This commentary was not provided as a defense of Christianity but, rather, to point out a crucial distinction between the two religions. Once Christians, formerly illiterate, were able to read for themselves in vernacular translation the New Testament, they could compare the life of Christ as portrayed there with the actions of the Church. Many of them did so, and thus began the exegeses that broke the Church's coercive, authoritarian lock. And they didn't have to ignore or remove any element of the New Testament in order to do so. Jesus' focus on individual choice (conscience), rudimentary as it was, was not necessarily incompatible with the principal of Individual Rights (or vice versa) that is a fundamental for modern Western civilization, a point to which even Miss Rand gave some credit. [That there were other seriously bad, contradictory issues in question belongs to another discussion] Unfortunately, this is not at all the case in a school for which the Koran and the Hadiths form the central texts.

In my view, Miss Hirsi Ali recognizes all this and has concluded that just as Islam is thoroughly incompatible with the fundamental ideas animating modern Western civilization so, too, are schools founded upon Islamic ideas. They are beyond the pale, and I agree with her on this.

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Jesus' focus on individual choice (conscience), rudimentary as it was, was not necessarily incompatible with the principal of Individual Rights (or vice versa) that is a fundamental for modern Western civilization, a point to which even Miss Rand gave some credit.

I am ready to accept this, if you could provide convincing examples of:

1. Jesus' focus on individual choice; and

2. Ayn Rand's crediting of Jesus' focus on individual choice.

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I understand where you're coming from, but don't agree with this. JIHAD (the use of force and coercion in the name of Allah) is one of the Pillars of Islam. Which means that it is an integral part of the religion for which the horrid life and actions of Mohammad himself as portrayed in the Koran and the Hadiths serve as the Ideal examples. It is not an "optional" point of view open to exegesis: take it away, and whatever the remaining religion is, it isn't Islam.

I did not mean to imply that it was possible to be a “good Muslim” as well as a noncoercive member of society. Maybe it’s impossible, but I am not knowledgeable enough about the Islamic doctrines to say for certain. Honestly I don’t really care if it’s possible, since my chief concern is that they don’t threaten me and my loved ones with violence. If they have to butcher their religion, tear out entire sections of the Qur'an or change the character of Mohammed in order to respect my rights, then that’s just what they’ll have to do. The point is, to live in the same country as me I would require that they recognize and obey laws based on man’s inalienable natural rights. If they can practice their religion while doing that, then their beliefs are a private matter and not my business.

Whatever other problems may arise, a Christian cannot do the same vis-a-vis Jesus Christ -- there is no Biblical precedent in Jesus' life and actions to justify it. This commentary was not provided as a defense of Christianity but, rather, to point out a crucial distinction between the two religions.

Christians also believe that the Old Testament was true, which contained as much cruelty and incitement of violence as the Qur’an. Yet today Christians ignore most of what it says. I think you have the cause and effect backwards here. The reason Christians are a peaceful people today is not because of the teachings of Jesus; the reason Christians even focus on Jesus, at the exclusion of much of The Bible, is because they now judge the content of their religion by an implicit standard of life. This is not something that could have come from their religion, because in Christianity as in Islam your life on Earth is a sacrifice to obtain glory in the afterlife. Christians have found a way to fit into the West by accepting the secular values of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.

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And if you want an example of Christians who follow Jesus’ teachings but don’t accept life as a standard of value or individual rights, we can always talk about the Evangelicals. :huh:

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because in Christianity as in Islam your life on Earth is a sacrifice to obtain glory in the afterlife.

This depends on what time period of Christianity you speak of. As we look back to the other thread, Renaissance Christians who were thoroughly devout, saw in it different values than did their ancestors 400 years earlier. Since the original text does not intrinsically imply one interpretation or the other, both are possible, and both were adopted at different points in time.

Vespasiano's comment on the New Testament is interesting. While it's true that Christians accepted the validity of the Old Testament, the chief importance of the New one is that God has refashioned the rules with humanity, so that instead of the old ones (which bound only Israel) the new ones would now apply to the whole humanity. That's why for instance Christians freely eat pork, and love their seafood. They clearly accepted New Testament as improving on the old, and considered it much more thoroughly than the Old one. The interpretation of what the New Testament meant was still up to each time period. Medievals considered Jesus as profoundly meek and non-human, while Renaissance viewed him as profoundly human and relevant to human problems.

Christians have found a way to fit into the West by accepting the secular values of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.

Christians were the West (such as it was, at various points in history); we've got our categories backwards here.

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This depends on what time period of Christianity you speak of. As we look back to the other thread, Renaissance Christians who were thoroughly devout, saw in it different values than did their ancestors 400 years earlier. Since the original text does not intrinsically imply one interpretation or the other, both are possible, and both were adopted at different points in time.

Not true. The entire Christian ethics is based around redemption for the purpose of getting into Heaven. The goal, the end, of Christian morality is not any reward on Earth but eternal life in the presence of God. The New Testament was basically a guide book to achieving that.

Christians were the West (such as it was, at various points in history); we've got our categories backwards here.

When the Church lost its complete power over people’s lives, Christians had to learn to practice their religion without violating the rights of others. Obviously this was a very slow process, as it wasn’t until the United States that freedom of religion was explicitly protected by a political institution. But they certainly did have to learn to fit into the West. They were barbarians who had to change to survive a new civilized age of reason. Today’s Christians are mostly harmless (but for a few), because the religion is a secondary part of their lives. In another thousand years, it may be gone.

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The goal, the end, of Christian morality is not any reward on Earth but eternal life in the presence of God. The New Testament was basically a guide book to achieving that.

One of the goals was to achieve redemption and enter heaven; another goal was full enjoyment of this earth as created by god for their enjoyment. You take only one half of it into consideration.

When the Church lost its complete power over people’s lives, Christians had to learn to practice their religion without violating the rights of others. Obviously this was a very slow process, as it wasn’t until the United States that freedom of religion was explicitly protected by a political institution. But they certainly did have to learn to fit into the West.

Again I don't understand the categories involved here. First there was the Church, yes, and the Christians learning to practice their religion peacefully; but how does any of this mean that they were learning to practice how to be Westerners? The categories are all mixed up -- whoever and however the Christians were at any particular time, that's what the West was. Europe was just as much Western in 400 AD with Augustine as it was in 1400 AD with Da Vinci. What it meant to be Western was what changed. It's totally incommensurate, no matter how we'd like it to be, to say that Christians learned to be Western, as if they are measured by the standard of the last 50 atheist years. Christianity defines the West, and Renaissance Christianity mixed with Classical antiquity is what defines specifically the modern West. I'm sorry to say but we atheists are a non-force in history, and such as were atheists (outside of Objectivism) have in every case turned nihilist and destructive.

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Jesus' focus on individual choice (conscience), rudimentary as it was, was not necessarily incompatible with the principal of Individual Rights (or vice versa) that is a fundamental for modern Western civilization, a point to which even Miss Rand gave some credit.

I am ready to accept this, if you could provide convincing examples of:

1. Jesus' focus on individual choice; and

2. Ayn Rand's crediting of Jesus' focus on individual choice.

When I have time, I will review citations for these. However, any response will NOT be in this discussion thread, the focus of which is the question raised in the Garton Ash/Hirsi Ali debate regarding the compatibility of ISLAM with Western Civilization.

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Jesus' focus on individual choice (conscience), rudimentary as it was, was not necessarily incompatible with the principal of Individual Rights (or vice versa) that is a fundamental for modern Western civilization, a point to which even Miss Rand gave some credit.

I am ready to accept this, if you could provide convincing examples of:

1. Jesus' focus on individual choice; and

2. Ayn Rand's crediting of Jesus' focus on individual choice.

When I have time, I will review citations for these. However, any response will NOT be in this discussion thread, the focus of which is the question raised in the Garton Ash/Hirsi Ali debate regarding the compatibility of ISLAM with Western Civilization.

I agree.

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In my view, Miss Hirsi Ali recognizes all this and has concluded that just as Islam is thoroughly incompatible with the fundamental ideas animating modern Western civilization so, too, are schools founded upon Islamic ideas. They are beyond the pale, and I agree with her on this.

From her book, it becomes clear that no compromise is possible in Islam. At root, is the sin of daring to question any aspect of the faith. The conclusion I reached, was that 'moderates' such as her father, were moderate only because they were wrong in their beliefs. That is, wrong in their understanding of the religion; either by ignoring what was written, or adding what wasn't.

I came away with a better understanding of the mindset of those who are true believers. Everything they encounter is filtered through their beliefs. They are fatalistic and passive in all things other than what they believe is instructed by their faith. By it's nature, any such action is not reasonable.

Like others here, I am adverse to shutting down schools on principle, unless one can demonstrate that rights violations are the direct result of such schools. The 'problem' is that Islam collapses without accepting these violations; they are built into it. Since no one wants to attack religion, the problem is intractable.

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I came away with a better understanding of the mindset of those who are true believers. Everything they encounter is filtered through their beliefs. They are fatalistic and passive in all things other than what they believe is instructed by their faith. By it's nature, any such action is not reasonable.

Like others here, I am adverse to shutting down schools on principle, unless one can demonstrate that rights violations are the direct result of such schools. The 'problem' is that Islam collapses without accepting these violations; they are built into it. Since no one wants to attack religion, the problem is intractable.

I was surprised to find that she'd advocate shutting down schools. That is ultimately where the root of the problem is, but I've never heard anyone speak of a programme to shut down all madrasas except from her.

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Whatever other problems may arise, a Christian cannot do the same vis-a-vis Jesus Christ -- there is no Biblical precedent in Jesus' life and actions to justify it. This commentary was not provided as a defense of Christianity but, rather, to point out a crucial distinction between the two religions.

Christians also believe that the Old Testament was true, which contained as much cruelty and incitement of violence as the Qur’an. Yet today Christians ignore most of what it says. I think you have the cause and effect backwards here. The reason Christians are a peaceful people today is not because of the teachings of Jesus; the reason Christians even focus on Jesus, at the exclusion of much of The Bible, is because they now judge the content of their religion by an implicit standard of life. This is not something that could have come from their religion, because in Christianity as in Islam your life on Earth is a sacrifice to obtain glory in the afterlife. Christians have found a way to fit into the West by accepting the secular values of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.

This is beyond the scope of this particular discussion thread, so I will not respond to it at length. However, I will point out that for Christians it is the first four books (gospels) of the New Testament and their telling of the life of Jesus that constitute the central thesis of Christianity as distinct from Judaism, not the prophetical books of the Old Testament which, though certainly important to some Christians, have been, in effect, superseded by those gospels. In my view, this is the reason many Christians appear to "ignore" the Old Testament -- it simply isn't central to their faith. For those other Christians . . . well . . . they're even more "messed up" than their New Testament brethren.

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From her book, it becomes clear that no compromise is possible in Islam. At root, is the sin of daring to question any aspect of the faith. The conclusion I reached, was that 'moderates' such as her father, were moderate only because they were wrong in their beliefs. That is, wrong in their understanding of the religion; either by ignoring what was written, or adding what wasn't.

I came away with a better understanding of the mindset of those who are true believers. Everything they encounter is filtered through their beliefs. They are fatalistic and passive in all things other than what they believe is instructed by their faith. By it's nature, any such action is not reasonable.

Like others here, I am adverse to shutting down schools on principle, unless one can demonstrate that rights violations are the direct result of such schools. The 'problem' is that Islam collapses without accepting these violations; they are built into it. Since no one wants to attack religion, the problem is intractable.

Bingo!

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