Friday, April 14, 2006

Dr. Sultan

OK. Watched the interview. I must regretfully inform everyone that I am equally displeased with the interview as I was with the transcript. Dr. Wafa Sultan may be a very smart woman, but I can't stand it when academics and intellectuals try to validate good points by using incorrect facts. This kind of thing is why people don't trust academia and why the other side can destroy good arguments (because supporting information is incorrect). I think by giving her the microphone, someone has only gone to validate the worldview of militant Islamofascim.

A rundown...

Sultan said: "The Muslims are the ones who began using this expression [a clash of civilizations]." Wrong. That expression has been used to justify almost every war since the dawning of time. Greeks went after the Persians and called it 'civilization vs barbarians' ditto ancient China, Rome, Egypt, India etc, etc, etc.

Sultan said: "When the Muslims divided the people into Muslims and non-Muslims, and called to fight the others until they believe in what they themselves believe, they started this clash, and began this war." So that whole Jews vs. Gentiles, Christian vs Heretic & Heathen, Cowboy vs Indian, South vs North stuff is all just a figment of my imagination?

Sultan asked: "What civilization on the face of this earth allows him to call other people by names that they did not choose for themselves?" Every. Single. One.

Sultan said: "Humanity owes most of the discoveries and science of the 19th and 20th centuries to Jewish scientists." Really? I didn't know that. I'm willing to give a high percentage, but most? I don't know about that one. I don't even know where to find facts to back that kind of a claim up.

Sultan said: "We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant." Since at least 1945. Uprising, anyone, anyone? Bueller?

Sultan said: "We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people." Loud, emphatic WRONG! And Yitzak Rabin's unfinished business on this planet is due to a Jewish hand holding a gun.

Sultan said: "The Muslims have turned three Buddha statues into rubble." Wrong again. The Buddhas of Bamiyan were destroyed by the Taliban who are Muslims the same way members of the Klan are Christians.

Sultan said: "We have not seen a single Buddhist burn down a Mosque, kill a Muslim, or burn down an embassy." Wrong. Please see the history of the Mongolian Empires.

Sultan said: "Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people, and destroying embassies." This is so incorrect, as a historian, I balk at the person saying it and change the channel.

Thank you Dr. Sultan. You may be lauded in the west as someone of Arab descent who really sticks it to Muslims. You get a "Boo Yeah" and a high five. But you are only reinforcing a sterotype, keeping with a narrative, revising history and adding fuel to the fire of the clash of civilizations that we are currently engaged in.

Your good points, that Muslim scholars should reexamine their curricula and Islamic books (the way many Islamic religious scholars have called for for centuries), fall on deaf ears because your arguments supporting your position hold so very little truth. You also ignore and do not expound on your most important point, the internalization of religion. It has taken Chrisendom over 500 years to begin internalizing our religion, allowing us to participate in the dualistic pursuits of civics and religion, tolerance in the face of our own personal beliefs. We still don't have it all down pat.

Right now, the Islamic world is facing civil war across all borders. It is a war between Wahabbist Sunnis and the rest of the Islamic world. Painting all Muslims with the brush of Wahabbism only drives more Muslims to Wahabbism. That is the straight up definition of pouring gasoline on a fire to extinguish it.


petallic said...

Dammit, why you gotta kill my buzz, yo? And so little turns me on these days...oh well, back to dreaming about nerdy boys and good beer.

ruby booth said...

As a rhetorical device all the use of “you” is a bit pompous, unless, Pat, you’re really sending that response off to Dr. Sultan. Also, it was clear to me that when she made her points, she referred to our current "clash" rather than to the whole of human history. Your Greeks and Persians are a little beside the point, particularly considering her central thesis seems to be Muslims are operating from an antiquated mindset, which comparing them to civilizations from so many centuries past really only supports.

Unexpectedly, I find I agree with both your and Dr. Sultan's central points: hers, the desperate need for the Muslim community to reexamine their attitude towards Jihad, Shari’a and Mujahideen; yours, many people fail to distinguish between Wahhabi and non-Wahhabi -- a major problem not just in the mid-east, but in many places these days most tragically over in Russia’s poor beleaguered Chechnya.

The KKK are Christians. They might be really crappy ones, who all other Christians should revile and disavow, but the association doesn’t go away simply because you wish it would. They carry the Book, and pray to the God. Admittedly they seem unable to read the Book or hear the God, but nevertheless. Similarly Wahhabis, in specific, and religious terrorists, in general, are a part of the faiths they espouse. The IRA is no less a Christian organization for its unchristian use of violence against the innocent. Many Christians realize this, and so lead the resistance against these adulterations of their faith. They loudly oppose and condemn Klan burnings and IRA bombings; some even had the presence of mind to object to the genocide in Yugoslavia, or the murder of abortion clinic doctors. Wahhabis might be very poor Muslims, but they are Muslims all the same.

If Muslims want to avoid being tarred with the same brush, their leaders must publicly reject these actions -- rather than merely riding the fine line between losing the riches of America on the one hand, and losing the support of Syria, Jordan, etc. on the other. They must do this exactly as we would expect our own Christian leaders to distance themselves from violent fanatics who claimed their faith.

It is always risky to say that one thing is civilized and the other barbaric. I wish Dr. Sultan did that less easily. Certainly any nation or culture is capable of, and sometimes stoops to, barbarism. I think the true mark of civilization is mastery of one’s inclination to barbarity, when defending those things we feel most strongly. By that test we, America, too have failed in these recent trials. At least, I believe we have. Others disagree, as is their right in this fine country of ours. But that’s the difference isn’t it? Around here we are permitted to disagree.

ruby booth said...

also:"Jews constitute 22% of Nobel Prize laureates, though they constitute less than 0.2% of the world's population."

so maybe not most, but I do see her point.

patsbrother said...

Ruby's comments largely obviate the need for me to express myself, as I agree substantially with her points, as the additional thoughts I might have raised are too trivial to stand alone, and as she expressed herself better than I may have expressed myself at any point ever in this blog. Therefore, I shall merely concur.