Thursday, January 24, 2008

Self-Determination and Islam

On Youtube I've been engaging in a discussion with the user rkzenrage. The following is a rather lengthy response that was obviously too large to include in my comments section.

rkzenrage's videos can be seen here and here, my video response is here.

"We voted for a democratic congress, showing that we do not want the same thing happening again and I believe we will continue to do the same."

The majority of Democrats in Congress at the time voted for the war and Kucinich's impeachment proceedings failed to get off the ground. That Americans voted Democrat doesn't really prove your case.

"If those in the middle east did not want the terrorist organizations there, they would not be."

You still haven't defined "terrorist" in a way that is consistent. Part of the reason the "terrorist organization" Hamas won the election in Palestine is because of Fatah's corruption and incompetence; when you've got five starving kids and no job you're going to vote for the group that will at least not steal half the UN food package you rely on and resell it on the black market. It doesn't excuse the suicide bombings and other nastiness, but it's not, as you said, "an organization that does one thing," so it must not actually be a terrorist organization.

Same with Hizbullah. They've driven out the IDF from Lebanon twice and rebuilt entire neighborhoods from the civil war when the Syrian cronies in the government were just hand-wringing.

"The religion of peace and the moderate muslim majority in the middle east and far east is a myth. It is that simple."

Replace "Muslim" with "Catholic" and "Middle East" with "Northern Ireland." Or "African" and "Kenya." Or, fuck it, "Jew" and "Israel" (since the Israelies won their independence via the Irgun and Stern Gang). There, you have every piece of propaganda that was used for decades to justify the British Empire's dicking with peoples' self-determination.

Pointing your finger and yelling "Muslim! Terrorist!" is exactly the kind of non-thinking we don't need. The fact is that if you fuck with peoples' self-determination, they're going to get angry, and very scary people will take advantage of that anger to build power for themselves. That's why for every Gandhi, MLK or Desmond Tutu you can name there are ten Nasrullahs. I'll call it colonialism, because that's exactly what it is, and it creates an environment where violence is the only means of expressing dissent that gets results.

Does this excuse the bombings, shootings, and other horrible acts of murder? No. But it does present a far more useful model than this idea that somehow their being Muslims motivates them to be more tolerant of these groups than non-Muslims would be. It’s just a way to reduce a complicated situation with numerous factors involved to a binary us vs. them mentality and rationalize feeling just a little less shitty about what’s been done in our name. You’ve been taken in by this approach that utilizes a priori reasoning at the expense of research and observation, and it ain’t the truth.

If the John Hopkins study published in the Lancet in 2006 is anywhere close to accurate, the equivalent of more than 200 9-11s worth of death has been inflicted upon the Iraqi populace by the invasion, and that’s before adjusting for differences in population (in which case the number is closer to 2,000). Now, don’t you think that’s a more productive explanation to use than “Muslims aren’t moderate?”

And, more importantly, what are you going to do to change it?