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On the Muslim Question

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I am reading this book, and it's really really good.

 

 

In the post-9/11 West, there is no shortage of strident voices telling us that Islam is a threat to the security, values, way of life, and even existence of the United States and Europe. For better or worse, "the Muslim question" has become the great question of our time. It is a question bound up with others--about freedom of speech, terror, violence, human rights, women's dress, and sexuality. Above all, it is tied to the possibility of democracy. In this fearless, original, and surprising book, Anne Norton demolishes the notion that there is a "clash of civilizations" between the West and Islam. What is really in question, she argues, is the West's commitment to its own ideals: to democracy and the Enlightenment trinity of liberty, equality, and fraternity. In the most fundamental sense, the Muslim question is about the values not of Islamic, but of Western, civilization.

 

Moving between the United States and Europe, Norton provides a fresh perspective on iconic controversies, from the Danish cartoon of Muhammad to the murder of Theo van Gogh. She examines the arguments of a wide range of thinkers--from John Rawls to Slavoj Žižek. And she describes vivid everyday examples of ordinary Muslims and non-Muslims who have accepted each other and built a common life together. Ultimately, Norton provides a new vision of a richer and more diverse democratic life in the West, one that makes room for Muslims rather than scapegoating them for the West's own anxieties.

 

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I'd have to read it, but it seems very apologetic/white-washing of liberalism, Enlightenment ideals and 'the West' -- as most are when they talk about the West's ideals.

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Is the name of the book the title of the thread?

yes, and author in sub title

 

I'd have to read it, but it seems very apologetic/white-washing of liberalism, Enlightenment ideals and 'the West' -- as most are when they talk about the West's ideals.

 

well, the problem with enlightenment is it is a massive self delusion. Which is even more true when Western culture think it self to be enlightened. So it's okay to be apologetic because thats the right thing to do.

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In the West, marriage (gay or straight) is supposed to follow romance. People marry for love; they marry for happiness. When the conservative Theodore Olson and the liberal David Boies argued that same-sex marriage was a constitutionally guaranteed right, they based their argument on the clause in the preamble of the Constitution that secured "the pursuit of happiness."

 

But marriage, like so much sexual policing, is not just about love; it's about money.

Marriage determines rights to property. Marriage is a contract. Like other contracts, it

is governed by the state. Laws tell us whom we can marry and whom we can't. They

tell us when we can marry (not, say, before the age of sixteen). The laws don't care

much about happiness. They do care about sex (if it's useful to the state). Laws in

Europe, if not in the United States, reward people who have children. Marriage, in all

cases, directs the flow of money. Property flows as marriage directs: to a spouse or a

partner, to children. Domestic partnerships and civil unions have the same ties to

money. When American corporations began offering benefits to same-sex partners,

they required people to establish that they really were partners. This was not a matter

of sex or love or romance. It was a matter of money. Partners had to demonstrate not

that they had romantic or sexual ties but that they had financial ones. They had to

show that they owned property together, that they were named in each other's wills

or shared a bank account.

 

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well, the problem with enlightenment is it is a massive self delusion. Which is even more true when Western culture think it self to be enlightened. So it's okay to be apologetic because thats the right thing to do.

 

No, because "enlightened" implies there is something against which it can be contrasted. In the past, the "other" was all non-European cultures, including Muslims, and today, that is particularly Islam/Muslims. Part of the West is built on "bringing civilization" to other, "less advanced" people. So I just think to say that the West, by its ideals, should accept all people--Islam being the test--is such an aberration and simplistic understanding of the West's self-image.

 

It just sounds nice.

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No, because "enlightened" implies there is something against which it can be contrasted. In the past, the "other" was all non-European cultures, including Muslims, and today, that is particularly Islam/Muslims. Part of the West is built on "bringing civilization" to other, "less advanced" people. So I just think to say that the West, by its ideals, should accept all people--Islam being the test--is such an aberration and simplistic understanding of the West's self-image.

 

It just sounds nice.

No, enlightenment means giving authority to rationalism over every thing else. That's how enlightenment started and rationalism was what in the heart of the movement. So the western thinking became very rational. Ideals such as liberty, fraternity, separation of state and religion and etc was born. Then west as a culture stopped thinking rationally. The ideals became idols which lost its meaning. Furthermore, west as a culture started seeing themselves as superior, rationally and virtue-ly. That's the delusion.

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No, enlightenment means giving authority to rationalism over every thing else. That's how enlightenment started and rationalism was what in the heart of the movement. So the western thinking became very rational. Ideals such as liberty, fraternity, separation of state and religion and etc was born. Then west as a culture stopped thinking rationally. The ideals became idols which lost its meaning. Furthermore, west as a culture started seeing themselves as superior, rationally and virtue-ly. That's the delusion.

 

that is every culture.

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that is every culture.

True ( I haven't verified every culture, but I'll agree).

But this being true every where doesn't negate its a problem in West.

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No, enlightenment means giving authority to rationalism over every thing else. That's how enlightenment started and rationalism was what in the heart of the movement. So the western thinking became very rational. Ideals such as liberty, fraternity, separation of state and religion and etc was born. Then west as a culture stopped thinking rationally. The ideals became idols which lost its meaning. Furthermore, west as a culture started seeing themselves as superior, rationally and virtue-ly. That's the delusion.

 

You are removing the ideal of rational thinking from its context, though. Enlightenment thinkers, from the beginning, perceived themselves as having reached an elevated state, as having been superior. They saw others, namely non-Europeans, as having been dragged down by their superstitious and magical thinking (i.e. anti-rational), hence this era saw the rise of anthropology, to understand how people move from "savage" to "civilized", or from irrational to rational.

 

All the earliest liberal thinkers I know of SUPPORTED colonialism, not despite their Enlightenment/liberalism, but BECAUSE of it. Those who believed the savages and barbarians could be saved saw it as their duty to do so, be it through war and colonialism and/or, in the Muslim context, pushing Islamic reform and social change.

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You are removing the ideal of rational thinking from its context, though. Enlightenment thinkers, from the beginning, perceived themselves as having reached an elevated state, as having been superior. They saw others, namely non-Europeans, as having been dragged down by their superstitious and magical thinking (i.e. anti-rational), hence this era saw the rise of anthropology, to understand how people move from "savage" to "civilized", or from irrational to rational.

 

All the earliest liberal thinkers I know of SUPPORTED colonialism, not despite their Enlightenment/liberalism, but BECAUSE of it. Those who believed the savages and barbarians could be saved saw it as their duty to do so, be it through war and colonialism and/or, in the Muslim context, pushing Islamic reform and social change.

 

It's one thing that enlightened thinkers think themselves as superior, as long as they hold themselves to their own standards. i.e., they keep rationality

But when they stop being rational while thinking they are superior because they are rational is very problematic. Because now they are trying to enforce the irrationality as rationalism.

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It's one thing that enlightened thinkers think themselves as superior, as long as they hold themselves to their own standards. i.e., they keep rationality

But when they stop being rational while thinking they are superior because they are rational is very problematic. Because now they are trying to enforce the irrationality as rationalism.

 

To stay on topic:

My point here is only that she is being selective in how she defines Western ideals. Western ideals involve imperialism and supremacism as much as they involve equality, fraternity and freedom. I dislike how people, including academics who should know better, maintain this very white-washed understanding of Enlightenment/liberal thought, which holds all its historical ugliness (for ex: colonialism or slavery) as aberrations or mistakes rather than part-in-parcel of its ideals.

 

And now to work!

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To stay on topic:

My point here is only that she is being selective in how she defines Western ideals. Western ideals involve imperialism and supremacism as much as they involve equality, fraternity and freedom. I dislike how people, including academics who should know better, maintain this very white-washed understanding of Enlightenment/liberal thought, which holds all its historical ugliness (for ex: colonialism or slavery) as aberrations or mistakes rather than part-in-parcel of its ideals.

 

And now to work!

well she is discussing the muslim question as it is seen in the west, so "bad" ideals such as imperialism and supremacy are out.

And you'll be hard pressed to find people from the west (aside KKK and the explicit racists) who would claim imperialism/supremacy are ideals. They may say these are necessities. But ideals?

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well she is discussing the muslim question as it is seen in the west, so "bad" ideals such as imperialism and supremacy are out.

And you'll be hard pressed to find people from the west (aside KKK and the explicit racists) who would claim imperialism/supremacy are ideals. They may say these are necessities. But ideals?

 

It's not that slavery or imperialism were ideals- they were expressions of ideals. Despite popular belief, not all slave or colonial advocates were evil, anti-democratic people. They were true liberals/enlightenment folk, and thought they were civilizing people, saving them from the slavery of savages and barbaric practices (female circumcision, honor killings, sati, veiling, etc.). Hence "the White Man's burden" - i.e. to civilize savage peoples.

 

 

 

TAKE up the White Man's burden -

Send forth the best ye breed -

Go bind your sons to exile

To serve your captives' need;

To wait in heavy harness

On fluttered folk and wild -

Your new-caught sullen peoples,

Half devil and half child.

Take up the White Man's burden, The savage wars of peace—

Fill full the mouth of Famine And bid the sickness cease;

And when your goal is nearest The end for others sought,

Watch sloth and heathen Folly Bring all your hopes to nought.

read on: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_White_Man%27s_Burden

 

 

 

This wasn't fringe opinion. The idea that imperialism was needed to bring civilization was widespread among liberal thinkers - it's foundational. It's part of being enlightened. One of the formative liberal texts by John Stewart Mill, On Liberty, included this: “despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement.”

 

This matters, IMO, because we may have changed the language (We don't use racialized language anymore, we don't use words like 'savage' and 'barbarian') but many of the same structures and ideas still exist. Today, we often use terms like development, human rights, etc. People can claim equality, democracy, freedom, etc., but the ideas of civilizing, superiority, etc., are very integral to Western ideals - whether Anne Norton accepts that or not.

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All that relates, because of course Enlightenment ideology would never allow in such people until they reached civilization level! It doesn't simply accept others for who they are. These are the same sorts of issues -- "Look how they treat their women! Their values don't align with ours!, etc. etc." -- that you hear from the Right today. These have been liberal/Western stances since the Enlightenment.

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