Friday, February 27, 2015

ISIS and Takfiri Totalitarianism - The war on cultural diversity and history

"They forbid rational speculation, and strive to kill their adversaries. This is why truth became thoroughly silenced and concealed." Al Razi 854 CE
By now it should be clear that ISIS and other extremist groups like them are not standard bearers of Eastern culture against the West but are at war with diversity in the East itself. They are destroying the rich history and diversity of the East. The Buddha statues blown up by the Taliban. The destruction and defacing of ancient Mesopotamian history. The war on Zoroastrian, Yazidi, Shiite, Sufi and Christian peoples in the East. They cannot tolerate the diversity of the present much less the diversity of the past. They cannot appreciate ancient Babylonian, Persian, Assyrian, Sumerian, Indian, Greek, and Egyptian culture because for them they are all pagans and ignorant polytheists.
They cannot appreciate the House of Wisdom in Baghdad during the Islamic golden age that studied Aristotle and other philosophers engaging in dialogue on diverse ideas.
As the great Muslim philospher Ibn Rushd stated,"After logic we must proceed to philosophy proper...we have to learn from our predecessors, just as in Mathematics and Law. Thus it is wrong to forbid the study of ancient philosophy."
Ibn Sina stated "I devoted myself in studying the texts - the original and the commentaries - in the natural sciences and metaphysics, and the gates of knowledge began opening for me."
The ideology of ISIS has some roots in Salafi and Wahhabi teaching which pulls from a narrow fundamentalist version of Islam which cannot tolerate diversity either in ideas or history. There is an outright hostility and bigotry towards those that are deemed Infidels, Pagans, Polytheists, Apostates, Disbelievers, Kafir. It is the bigotry against diversity and doubt. The hateful fear of the disbeliever. Infidelophobia.
The Islamic world must not only accept Christians and Jews, the people of the book. In the long term a robust human rights and liberty demands that infidels and apostates are also accepted as fellow human beings not threatened with intimidation and violence for having a different idea or opinion on metaphysics. There is a cognitive dissonance with some Western Liberals who are engaged with right wing reactionaries in the West who show bigotry towards those who are different including Muslim minority communities in the West. At the same time in Muslim majority countries there are right wing reactionaries who take hold of a narrow version of Islam that shows bigotry against infidels, disbelievers, and religious diversity.
Both of these challenges and attacks on diversity are going on in the global picture but some Western Liberals have a hard time with seeing both of these realities in their minds and being able to fight the Islamophobia in the West and at the same time fight the Infidelophobia in other parts of the Islamic world. To be pluralistic is to fight for Muslim minorities in the West who are being unfairly attacked and at the same time fight for religious minorities, disbelievers and liberal Muslims in Muslim majority countries who are being unfairly attacked. People must understand specific geopolitical realities around the world to get the big picture.
Can the world be consistent with enlightenment values in the West and the East at the same time? The answer to the excess of Western colonialism is not Theocracy and Monotheistic Totalitarianism but rather real self determination.
Malala Yousafza, who was shot by the Taliban in the head but still lives to fight for education for girls in Pakistan, stated, "This is Education. This is Knowledge. It can neither be Eastern nor Western."
There is also a cognitive dissonance with some Christian fundamentalists in the West who are against theocracy in the Muslim world but show some sympathy for theocratic movements in the Christian world. Theocracy whether it be Muslim or Christian is not a good way to govern human beings who often have different views and ideas on metaphysics. If there is going to be religious freedom and human rights it must include Christian, Muslim, Jew, Polytheists, and Disbelievers. Pluralism must be the umbrella ideal to allow for such diversity.
Pluralism accepts the reality that humans are going to have different beliefs and opinions and as long as it does not impede on your rights let a person believe and opine as they wish. Melville wrote in Moby Dick,"...and Heaven have mercy on us all - Presbyterians and Pagans alike - for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending."
This diversity and pluralism is hated by ISIS and other groups who think they can create a Utopia where their ideology reigns supreme with no dissent or doubt. To create a Utopia you must sacrifice the blood of those different than you and cleanse the world of cultural history and diversity. If the world does not stand up to Totalitarian Monotheism and the rhetoric and teaching coming out of Takfiri ideology that dehumanizes polytheists, religious minorities, and apostates then prepare for more cultural destruction and genocide. It took a World War to stop Totalitarian Nazi ideology, what will it take to stop the Totalitarian Takfiri ideology?
Anemic Post modernism and relativism will be no match for muscular, purposeful, and simplistic ideologies like Monotheistic Totalitarianism. It will take a return to the flexibility and virtue of the civilizations of antiquity and a return to the Enlightenment ideals and passion that has been covered over by the malaise of post modernism and nihilism in the West. If the modern world does not find a transcendent unifying ethic that allows for pluralism it will pay a heavy price in blood and further destruction.
If this does not happen I agree with the philosopher John Gray's cynical outlook when he stated, “In the long term, the Google generation, the liberals, will be swallowed up and erased from history.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Among the Ruins - Christian Sahner - Oxford University Press

Among the Ruins - Christian Sahner - Oxford University Press

Christian C. Sahner is an historian of the Middle East. He graduated from Princeton University and the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He is completing his doctorate at Princeton, focusing on the role of non-Muslims in Islamic societies. Sahner's writing has been published in The Times Literary Supplement and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Rise of ISIS: A series of unfortunate events

"And we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night." M. Arnold
The Rise of ISIS: A series of unfortunate events
WWI – Turkish empire broken up, Britain and France draw borders in Middle East with little regard to tribes and sects and self-determination.
WWII – After the European genocide of Jews the United Nations backs the State of Israel for the Jewish people in the Middle East. Palestinians are disenfranchised.
Arab leaders lose credibility with loses to Israel in the wars of the 60’s and 70’s.
Political Islam is looked to as an answer to failure of leadership.
Soviet Union invades Afghanistan.
The Islamic Revolution in Iran takes down the Shah of Iran.
Afghanistan becomes a haven for jihadists (including bin Laden) who are supported by Saudi Arabia and the United States.
Saudi Arabia financially backs the message of Wahhabi fundamentalism and Salafi teaching around the world.
Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait, International Community including United States pushes Saddam back.
US troops are stationed in Saudi Arabia offending Osama bin Laden and other jihadists.
Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda start attacks around the world in the 90’s.
September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda hits New York and DC with terror attacks.
United States invades Afghanistan.
United States invades Iraq.
Sunni groups and tribes are disenfranchised after the invasion in Iraq. Baghdad government becomes dominated by Shiite groups.
Al Qaeda suffers loses but is able to metastasize in other parts of world including Iraq itself.
United States pushes back Al Qaeda resistance in Iraq in the surge of 2007.
Former Baathists and Jihadists come together in resistance to new order. Baghdadi is part of the struggle.
Osama bin Laden is killed in 2011.
United States military forces leave Iraq in 2011.
Arab Spring hits the Middle East in 2011, popular uprisings against aging dictators and authoritarian regimes.
Authoritarian regimes fight for survival and start killing and imprisoning resistance leaving only the best organized resistance able to continue, Islamists and Jihadist groups or the Military of the regimes.
2013 Assad gasses his own people in Syria. Thousands continue dying in brutal Syrian civil war.
The world does nothing in Syria and the civil war continues. Jihadist groups fill the void like al Nusra and ISIS.
ISIS in 2014 goes on offense into Iraq taking Fallujah and eventually take Mosul in summer of 2014.
Now ISIS has enough territory and momentum to declare an Islamic State and Baghdadi its Caliph.
ISIS inspires others and seeks recruits across the world.
With ISIS on the march the international community slowly wakes out of its slumber as massacres and beheadings become spread over the internet and on the news.
2015 ISIS has been slowed down by the resistance of the Kurds and Shiite militias with support of US and coalition air power.
So you see there are many variables and ingredients to this soup. It is a mixture of geopolitics, religious extremism, dictators, wars, genocide, terrorism, invasions and a series of unfortunate events.
The confused story that is human history continues…

Monday, February 23, 2015

Voltaire archive quote

"Of all superstitions, that of hating our neighbor on account of his opinion is surely the most dangerous."
Voltaire, A Treatise On Tolerance

Khalil Gibran aphorisms

Forgetfulness is a form of freedom.
They dip their pens in our hearts and think they are inspired.
A poet is a dethroned king sitting among the ashes of his palace trying to fashion an image out of the ashes.