At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

ISLAMIC RHETORIC

The Pope was right when using that quote to illustrate his particular point (violence cannot be justified by religion). But it was a selective, somewhat blinkered rightness, especially when taking into account the historical impact of several other expansionist religions...
Including, oddly, his own.

He should, perhaps, have realized that mentioning the faults of others is not a substitute for mentioning the fault entirely in the abstract.


Mentioning someone else's faults has the inevitable result that it reminds the accused of the many equivalent faults one has oneself. People who live in glass houses should be somewhat more careful about throwing stones. Even at people in other glass houses.


An old testament reference comes to mind: "Va yedavar sar-hamashkim et Parao, lemor et chatayi ani mazkir ha yom" (then the steward spoke to Pharaoh, saying 'I make mention of my faults today'). A reference often used of statements which also unfortunately remind the listener of previous issues.


That said, what I've read in the comment section of several European newspapers (few of which could EVER be accused of being pro-Israel or Jew-friendly, and whose readers perhaps have best demonstrated the hate-everyone-but-especially-Jews-and-Americans mentality) indicates that this last outburst has generated more than a little dispatience with kvetching Muslims and their poor krenked feelings.


Some Muslims have called this the signal of a new crusade.

Have they forgotten what started the first crusades?


Some Muslims have uttered death-threats at the pope, for daring to suggest that there was violence in their religious history.

How absurd, and how ironic.
[Is there in fact a word for 'irony' in classical Arabic? Or is that just one more idea that doesn't translate?]

Some Muslims have gone on strike (in Kashmir!?!) to really show the Christian world what they think, so there!

That was probably a great convenience for the Indian army in that region, and a great pain in the tuchus for the local (predominantly Muslim) population (so there!).

More such strikes should be encouraged.

I applaud pain in their collective rear.


One is almost tempted to stage a Quran burning to piss off the little dears.

Except that one doesn't want to piss 'em off so glibly, with so purile a gambit, for so minor a point.
And I don't burn books.
[I will need books for toilet paper and cigarettes in the prisoncamp when the Muslims or their Berkeleyite friends win. That isn't particularly likely, but I'm not taking any chances.]

[Not that I grade my library on suitability for such tasks, by any means. Heaven forfend.]



Now, let us now examine the quote from Emperor Manuel Paleologos that got the Pope in trouble.

"In the seventh conversation...the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."
The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God," he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats."


Got that?

Let me repeat the key clause in that passage:

"God is not pleased by blood -- whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats".


This the Muslims are upset about?

They disagree?


I find myself in the absurd position of siding with a pope.



Note: The torching of several Greek Orthodox churches in the Palestinian territories is an incomprehensible counter-argument. I know that Muslims value eloquence and rhetorical flourishes, but this is ridiculous. Couldn't y'all have simply written an angry letter? It would've made more sense.

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