I complete my piece on how to argue like Stalin and my (former?) colleague Arizona Atheist has provided me with examples. Here are some extracts from what he honestly describes as a rant about myself and my friend and colleague, NCNC:
Their religious-like zeal for the drone war, and their seeming hatred of Muslims blinds them […] Like any typical religious zealot, they cling to their false and harmful beliefs…
I’m sure we do. But what have I or NCNC written that is, you know, wrong? AA also writes:
Despite my having completely demolished their arguments with facts and logical argumentation […] What’s even worse, when they try to respond to the facts I’ve laid out, they resort to strawmen, non sequiturs and other fallacies…
I’ll give AA this advice for free: this is the kind of thing you really want someone else to say for you. It’s like the old maxim about being smart, skeptical, powerful, or ladylike: If you got to say y’are, you prob’y ain’t.
NCNC can take care of himself – no, he really, really can – but I just wanted to focus on AA’s comments on my Friday Jihad round ups. Drawing on two round ups, he addresses eight stories. Out of these eight, one is a factual criticism, the rest are all matters of AA’s interpretation of events. Case in point, he picks up on my citation of the guy who says that Islam is against killing innocents, and my concern that he may not be on the level. The reason I say this is that it is an Islamic mainstay that no infidel is ever innocent:
Choudry isn’t an isolated figure in believing this. According to many Islamic sources the worst possible sin, worse than murder or rape, is shirk, a term that covers both unbelief and ‘associating others with Allah’ (as the Christians do). So we cannot just take someone saying ‘Islam is against killing innocents’ as what we’d like it to sound like. Similarly, AA argues that the ‘free Kashmir’ slogans of the Pakistan supported jihadis shows it is a neutral, national liberationist movement, rather than straight Islamic jihad. The Nazis spoke of ‘liberating’ the Sudentenland and Danzing, too.
So, one dubious factual point, seven points of interpretation about stories in two posts that between them cover thirty nine different stories. Those were slow weeks; my last jihad round up had eighty two stories in it alone. I’ll leave the reader to make his own conclusions; I just want to note that this is why I sometimes miss weeks – there is just too much material and I sometimes cannot keep on top of it.
The Meat of it: Are Islamic jihadists justified?
Something people forget: outside of films like The Dark Knight, there’s no such thing as a villain who has no reason. Everyone has some sort of reason; it’s just that the reasons themselves are sometimes awful ones.
This matters because there are two related questions here:
1) Are the jihadists motivated by politics?
2) Does this mean we should give them what they want?
AA’s answer to both of these is an unqualified “Yes!”, though about the latter, he doesn’t seem to get that the jihadists political demands don’t just include foreign policy, but extend to the abolition of democracy, the institution of medieval laws on sexuality (total abolition of homosexuality) and so on. Indeed, Dinesh D’Souza takes exactly this tack, that we should become way less socially liberal, so as not to antagonize the jihadists.
My own answers to this are as follows:
1) This is a distinction without a difference because no distinction is drawn between religion and politics in Islam. The presence of U.S. base in Saudi Arabia is seen as blasphemy, just as the Muhammad cartoons were, just as democracy is. Islam is inherently political because Muhammad set out to build a political entity.
2) Try the following arguments about giving in to political demands
– We wouldn’t have any lynching if blacks weren’t so uppity!
– We wouldn’t have any blitzkrieg if we’d just give the Nazis what they want!
– We wouldn’t have any trouble with Imperial Japan if we just let them run the Pacific!
– We wouldn’t have any trouble with revenge terrorism as long as we stay out of Darfur!
– We wouldn’t have any political trouble as long as we leave the Interahamwe alone!
You, my dear reader, will notice that the last two pieces of advice were indeed followed, and I am not at all happy with the results. Also, notice that third case was another one of those where religion and politics were inseparable (Imperial Japan was ruled by a living god), as was the first.
So, do I think that the jihadist willingness to kill three thousand in New York and eighty thousand in secondary consequences means that we should leave ’em to finish what they started in East Timor?
Well, no, no I don’t. I don’t care about their political whining. I am not going to put up with the cruelty and barbarity the jihad inflicts on the lands of my childhood in Christian Africa, nor am I about to put up with the ongoing colonization of my fatherlands, the ongoing destruction of freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, women’s rights etc. in Europe. Nor am I willing to turn my back on my fellow infidels in India and China.
Sorry, I am not going to do it. No matter how mean the jihadists get. When you take a stand of solidarity like this, it is up or down, sink or swim, win or lose, to the very last breath. I don’t care if AA thinks that the jihadists cruelty means we should give in, I. Will. Not. Do. It.
UPDATE: Oh dear, AA seems a little upset at my “How to argue LIKE STALIN” post, though I’m not sure he understood it. His post is a trifle overwrought, so I will leave it to the reader to judge our exchanges for himself; and to judge whether AA’s objections to eight stories counts as disproof, when a typical round up can bring together eighty-nine stories. The rest of his howlers I’ll save up for an upcoming anti-Islam F.A.Q. Just wanted to pick up on the following two things: 1) AA misrepresents my position on U.S. foreign policy – I’ve said I’m no fan and have called for men like Kissinger to be placed on trial, I just know that has nothing to do with stopping the Jihad. 2) He objects to my saying that he wants to give in and give the jihadis what they want. Well, if total withdrawal from the Middle East and throwing Israel to the wolves isn’t “giving in and giving the jihadis what they want”, I really dread to see what AA thinks giving in would entail.
UPDATEX2: Actually, there is one thing I am going to pick up on, because it matters. AA writes:
Now, on the other hand do I want to allow that extremist portion of the Middle East to destroy The Prussian’s “motherland” or destroy democracy for those in the Middle East? No!
Oh he doesn’t want it, does he? Incidentally my concerns are for Europe and Christian Africa. So, what – AA supports ending all Muslim immigration to Europe and clamping down, hard, on the nutbags we already have? And providing military support to the Nigerian Christians and the Kenyans who are on the front lines here?
Oddly enough, no. But he doesn’t “want” any bad consequences – and if his line is followed and slaughter spreads all over sub-Saharan Africa, and Europe collapses into civil war, AA will be able to contentedly shrug his shoulders and say: “Well I didn’t want that.”
Lest I be accused of hyperbole, let me note that that is exactly what happened in the case of Darfur. The line of the peaceniks – no unilateralism, the UN, durka durka – was followed and thanks to that we’ve inaugurated this century with genocide. If there is a single peacenik hanging his head in shame over that, I haven’t found him – the line is just, “Oh, I didn’t intend that, so you can’t blame me!”
So my response to AA is: Your ‘want’ and two quid will get you a cup of coffee. No one wanted the First World War, not even the Nazis wanted the Second World War. They got it nonetheless.