Monday, November 26, 2007

Debating Coexistence

I'm glad Mike Plaisted wrote this post regarding the COEXIST debate, since it more or less covers my thoughts on the topic, especially this part (emphasis mine):
The bottom line on this whole imbroglio is that Sykes, McMahon and all their various defenders are, shockingly, against coexistence. "...there are some things – evils -- that we cannot simply ‘coexist with.’ These would include Communism and Nazism," writes Sykes. Fine, and the COEXIST sticker implies nothing like that.... To these deluded few, Islam - the faith of billions that happens to include a small minority of violent nut-bags - is the enemy.
To be sure, violence is hardly an issue that's unique to Islam. Religion, in fact, has been long used as a means for justifying violence, just as it's been long used to justify peace.

When the idea of "positive Christianity" developed in Nazi Germany as a means for justifying the extermination of the Jewish population, for instance, mainstream Christian churches rightly denounced it in the name of peaceful coexistence with Judaism.

And contrary to the claims that calls for coexistence ignore terrorism perpetrated in the name of Islam by a small and shrinking percentage of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, the COEXIST message -- originally created for a museum in Israel -- is as much intended for those Muslims who support violence as it is for the many more peaceful followers of Islam and the followers of the other religions whose symbols are depicted in it.

That doesn't mean, of course, that the COEXIST message should be the sole or even primary means for combating terrorism; no one has suggested that.

But the message is helpful in that it serves as a reminder of the ultimate goal in combating terrorism and other violence perpetrated in the name of religious faith.

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11 Comments:

Blogger James Wigderson said...

I got as far as "Kook right cheddarsphere".

November 26, 2007  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

That's a legitimate point. I don't subscribe to that type of language -- just not my style, and more often than not I think it's counterproductive -- but I'm with Plaisted on the substantive points he makes.

November 26, 2007  
Blogger krshorewood said...

With all of the problems we have in Milwaukee due to our divisiveness, what is it serving the community for Sykes, et al to act like there is something wrong with seeking ways of coexisting?

You would think that with all of the concerns in the Journal editorial pages about the damage being done to Milwaukee from our inability to get along, the broadcast division feels that somehow they are serving a market niche by dishing out Sykes.

Catering to the ignorant, the racist and the sullen throughout SE Wisconsin with their own little victimhood issues is not providing a community service.

I thought that's what taverns are for.

November 26, 2007  
Anonymous rc said...

While agreed that the numbers seem to be falling, a range of 9-70% (depending on which country) that believe suicide bombing is acceptable is not a small percentage. Couple that with the 13% here in the US that think its ok, it seems you guys are really ignoring the elephant in the room

November 26, 2007  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

Who's ignoring terrorism?

The issue here really isn't about ignoring those Muslims who support violent tactics; the issue is what to do with the rest of the Muslim population, along with sending a message that continues to encourage the violent population to shrink. For some, the only message that will work is force; but I'd bet the majority of those percentage drops are driven by an acceptance of coexistence, not death or detainment.

By the way, your statement about "a range of 9-70%" is a bit deceiving in itself considering that only the Palistinean territory is over 42 percent, and 11 of the 16 countries polled come in under 25 percent (including the nation with the largest Muslim population, Indonesia, at 10 percent).

November 26, 2007  
Blogger gnarlytrombone said...

Muslims who support violent tactics

Let's unpack that a bit. We have evidence that violence is linked to religion among the extremist Salafi terrorists. But what about this wider public support?

Is it religiously motivated, driven by a desire for global worldwide sharia? Or is it political, a reaction to a belief that the West is bent on their destruction (a notion seemingly confirmed by those who say Muslims don't deserve existence)?

Perhaps that is the real elephant in the room...

November 27, 2007  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

I see your point, gnarlytrombone. Self defense is almost surely why the percentage of Muslims who support suicide bombing is so much higher in the Palestinean territory.

At the same time, the self defense line should have limits. For instance, I have a hard time thinking of a situation where suicide bombing -- in crowded public places, no less -- is justifiable. That doesn't mean, of course, that more traditional military tactics employed with little or no concern for noncombatants are justifiable.

In the end, your point is a really good justification for how important the COEXIST message is in combating terrorism. As I noted above, I'd bet the majority of the percentage drops in those Muslims who support suicide bombing are driven by an acceptance of coexistence, not death or detainment.

November 27, 2007  
Blogger gnarlytrombone said...

I don't believe it's justifiable. Just understandable. The right would have us believe anger on the Muslim street is irrational and religious in nature, that we're engaged in a clash of civilizations because they "hate our freedoms."

But the right doesn't want to grapple with the fact that Muslim grievances are reaction to our policies (regardless of our intentions), not our way of life.

November 27, 2007  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

That's a good point.

And I'd actually say it's, put most generally, an issue of much of Muslim society desiring not to have a Western way of life -- which, of course, is significantly different than not wanting the West to have a Western way of life -- yet the realities of a global economy have thrust it in their face. Further complicating things, however, is that even the left wants to change some aspects of traditional Islamic culture, most obviously its treatment of women.

November 27, 2007  
Blogger Joe Klein said...

"It is certain that, in one point, all nations of the earth and all religions agree. All believe in a God, The things in which they disagree are the redundancies annexed to that belief; and therefore, if ever an universal religion should prevail, it will not be believing any thing new, but in getting rid of redundancies, and believing as man believed at first."
-- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

The combined power of politics and religion is the root of abuse in many cultures in many times throughout history. This was clear to many among this countries founding fathers, hence the separation of church and state.

The Children's Crusade comes to mind as one of the post pathetic tales over zealous Christian faith.

http://www.historyguide.org/ancient/children.html

Suicide bombing, like the Native American Ghost Shirts, which were special garments rumored to repel bullets through spiritual power, or the European Children's Crusade are all products of societies under stress. If you view Communism and the German Nazis as religious movements, which is arguably true, you can attribute the same stress causality to a broader irrationality. These destructive movements reflect a sociological psychosis which moves societies to accept violence and self destruction as rational.

When any culture starts sacrificing its youth for metaphysical causes, something is fundamentally wrong. The cure for these bouts of irrationality, of which modern Islam is just the one of many throughout human history, is logic, science and discourse.

In most of above cases dissent is suppressed and demonized. What is so disturbing about Charlie Sykes and his political minions, is the smooth management of opposition (passive-aggressive demonization), that allows him to shutdown true public discourse.

Open public discourse is an essential element in the maintenance of a health democratic republic. What we all should advocate for is debates which bring together diverse views in public forums.

November 27, 2007  
Blogger gnarlytrombone said...

When any culture starts sacrificing its youth for metaphysical causes, something is fundamentally wrong

Indeed.

November 27, 2007  

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