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Reflections on Political Violence - Comments

Dave H's Avatar Comment 1 by Dave H

I don't know what impresses me more about S. Africa and the ANC: the fact that they only proposed violence as a last resort, or the forgiveness that they showed after they got their way. I reckon that the act of forgiveness saved S. Africa from years of simmering tit-for-tat violence in the aftermath and put them quickly on the path to recovery.

No such hope for Iraq or Pakistan, then, if they are going to use violence not only as a first pass, but as a pre-emptive act to what they think is a potential threat to their theocratic ideals.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 23:46:17 UTC | #576346

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 2 by Cook@Tahiti

Here we go again

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 23:47:07 UTC | #576347

HughCaldwell's Avatar Comment 3 by HughCaldwell

if they are going to use violence not only as a first pass, but as a pre-emptive act to what they think is a potential threat to their theocratic ideals.Comment 1 by Dave H

Iraq and Pakistan have governments. What's wrong with them? Surely not that the members of the government, the civil service and the armed forces are Muslims?

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 00:00:58 UTC | #576353

Atheist Mike's Avatar Comment 4 by Atheist Mike

This is only one of the many things that go to make up the hideousness of Islamic jihadism, but I believe that it has received insufficient attention. Amid all our loose talk about Muslim "grievances," have we even noticed that no such bill of grievances has ever been published, let alone argued and defended? Every now and then an excuse is offered, but usually after the bomb has gone off in the crowded street or the "offending" person has been eliminated. Sérgio Vieira de Mello was murdered, and the U.N. offices in Baghdad leveled along with him, because he had helped oversee the independence of East Timor. Many Australian tourists in Bali were burned alive on the same retrospective pretext. Or it could be a cartoon. Or an unveiled woman. Or the practice of the "wrong" kind of Islam—Ahmadi, for example, or Shiism. Or the practice of Hinduism. Or the publication of a novel. But the sinister, hateful thing about all these discrepant "causes" is precisely the fact that they are improvised and to a large extent unpredictable. That, and the fact that no effort is ever made to say precisely why the resort to violence is so immediate and its practice so random and indiscriminate.

About time we stop defending islam, blaming "western imperialism" for the mindless crimes of deranged minds.

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 00:12:44 UTC | #576363

dilated_in_disbelief's Avatar Comment 5 by dilated_in_disbelief

Comment 2 by Rtambree :

Here we go again

Haha, you're right. I had to laugh at what you said. It's one of my favorite recurrences on RFD. Almost more than the scientific inquiry.

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 00:20:28 UTC | #576365

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 6 by AtheistEgbert

A missed opportunity here by Christopher Hitchens. Yes, civilised intellectuals do not call for the execution of someone because of a glass of water, or a discarded business card, or a cartoon.

As far as I see it, the difference between politics and Islam is that Islam has nothing civilised to offer.

Religion is death, as far as I'm concerned. There is nothing, no manifesto, no pamphlets, no constitution, that could possibly co-exist with a religion without that slow poison of death destroying any idea of a peaceful nation.

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 00:21:47 UTC | #576367

Zelig's Avatar Comment 7 by Zelig

I thought the title was rather misleading and bore little resemblance to what followed.

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 00:49:05 UTC | #576380

qapla's Avatar Comment 8 by qapla

The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945) Karl Popper

paradox of tolerance:

"Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal."

I don't mean to imply a certain "enemy", each person is free to think/decide for themselves about specific political/religious ideas/ideologies.

My point of quoting Karl Popper (one of the great philosophers of science in my opinion) was that those who resort to violence, those who promote violence/who deny rational/reasonable problem solving (as if logic/reason/evidence were deceptive), are the enemies of a free/open society.

Which would include Islamists or any other political/religious ideology/group/individual.

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 01:05:37 UTC | #576388

HughCaldwell's Avatar Comment 9 by HughCaldwell

Comment 5 by Atheist Mike About time we stop defending islam, blaming "western imperialism" for the mindless crimes of deranged minds

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the creation of western imperialism. The Iraqi state, whose official religion is Islam, is the creation of western imperialism. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a staunch ally of western imperialism. Are you asserting that the governments, civil servants and armed forces of our Muslim friends are criminal lunatics?

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 01:12:44 UTC | #576391

Atheist Mike's Avatar Comment 10 by Atheist Mike

I'm sorry Mr. Caldwell but I wasn't talking about politics this time. I was just saying that I find it unfortunate and ridiculous that when a muslim attacks a journalist or novelist because he personally deem their works offensive, rational people, for the sake of multiculturalism, blame his horrible actions on foreign policies of so called western imperialism. But since you bring up this subject I will certainly take up the debate and argue that your examples are not "western imperialism" (which ended with the European decolonization process of the 20th century) but rather international regulations in order to preserve peace in the world.

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 01:47:33 UTC | #576403

Alternative Carpark's Avatar Comment 11 by Alternative Carpark

This was an excellent interview with Mr. Taseer's children:

BBC: Pope urges Pakistan to repeal blasphemy law

Ignore the headline....

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 03:05:11 UTC | #576428

Gunga Lagunga's Avatar Comment 12 by Gunga Lagunga

I have no trouble believing that Christopher Hitchens would, in a private setting perhaps, convince me that there were sound reasons to use deadly force in Iraq. My underlying objection to war is admittedly simplistic, buttressed only by a liberal application of The Golden Rule. Hitchens, the brilliant, seasoned intellectual journalist insider, would undoubtedly shred my case with ease, particularly with regard to the loathesome Saddam Hussein.

The real problem I have with the Iraq War, is that if it were a bus, filled to capacity with our courageous young soldiers, its sides would have George Bush and Dick Cheney's vacant, grinning, profiteering FACES all over it. Having lived in Austin, Texas from 1996 to 2004, and seeing firsthand the "evolution" of the George W. Bush and Tom DeLay era, Nothing Hitch could say would change my mind about these cowardly, stone-cold killers. I'm going to assume Christopher Hitchens' rationale for a hail of bullets ripping through innocent internal organs, and irreplaceable limbs being literally blown from perfect 21 year-old bodies -- is quite different from theirs.

I trust Hitchens, so I'll take him at his word. The War in Iraq may well have been justified. The wealthy men who executed that catastrophe, on the other hand, including the golden-tongued Tony Blair, are nothing short of war criminals with blood on their hands, and they will never gain an ounce of my respect.

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 07:59:11 UTC | #576477

Pete H's Avatar Comment 13 by Pete H

It’s not just violence that’s politicised, it’s everything.

The routine politicisation comes first. The subsequent violence might be inevitable because the more things that become political in a diverse community then the less chance there is of a community’s political agreement. When emotions run high among the naturally intolerant then violence becomes the only alternative for dispute resolution because politics must inevitably fail.

I read yesterday that a Sydney area local council (Marrickville City Council), presumably in response to changing demographics from immigration and the influence of the imported ‘progressive faith communities’, has just resolved to impose an official boycott on Israel.

This is a city council, whose primary purpose is administering property development, sanitation, road maintenance, libraries etc. It doesn’t make sense that an Australian metropolitan city council would boycott Israel? City councils don't trade with Israeli businesses. Presumably they are considering bylaws to prevent local businesses from undertaking commercial transactions with Israeli citizens. (This kind of imposition on personal freedom is normally reserved for official declarations of war. And city councils seldom have the power to declare war.)

Is this kind of thing normal in the real world beyond Australia?

No point in wondering if the majority of ratepayers will approve – they will approve overwhelmingly, if only for religious reasons and to defend their recently adopted ‘soil’.

An outcome of the politicisation of religious prejudice is likely to be the further exodus of reasonable people from Marrickville, the deeper islamisation of that community, and the emergence of yet another de facto under-policed area in Sydney and associated misery.

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 08:06:48 UTC | #576480

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 14 by Steve Zara

I trust Hitchens, so I'll take him at his word. The War in Iraq may well have been justified. The wealthy men who executed that catastrophe, on the other hand, including the golden-tongued Tony Blair, are nothing short of war criminals with blood on their hands, and they will never gain an ounce of my respect.

If, for the sake of argument, the war was justified, then how can the men who executed it be war criminals? I'm curious as to what their wealth has to do with it as well. My impression is that Blair is not one of the top earners.

Is Blair a war criminal because the (hypothetically) justified war had an awful aftermath? Or is it because there was lack of UN support?

If it was the lack of UN support, then shouldn't Blair and Clinton have been prosecuted as war criminals for their bombing of Serbia to end the oppression of Albanians in Kosovo? That was certainly legally very dodgy.

Would their be this anti-Blair sentiment if the USA had not so badly messed up management of the Iraq after the invasion?

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 08:32:19 UTC | #576485

HughCaldwell's Avatar Comment 15 by HughCaldwell

Comment 15 by Atheist Mike ...your examples are not "western imperialism" (which ended with the European decolonization process of the 20th century) but rather international regulations in order to preserve peace in the world.

On your view that war is peace, you should be praising our Muslim friends in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq for their collaboration in this noble work of peace preservation.

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 08:52:45 UTC | #576487

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 16 by Richard Dawkins

I too heard Paul Foot speak at the Oxford Union, and he was a mesmerising orator, even as an undergraduate.

Once again, Christopher Hitchens nails it. It is the nauseating presumption of Islam that marks it out for special contempt. I remain baffled at the number of otherwise decent people who can be seduced by such an unappealing religion. I suppose it must be childhood indoctrination, but it is still hard to credit. If you imagine setting up an experiment to see how far you could go with childhood indoctrination – a challenge to see just how nasty a belief system you could instil into a human mind if you catch it early enough – it is hard to imagine succeeding with a belief system half as nasty as Islam. And yet succeed they do.

Richard

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 09:02:29 UTC | #576488

HughCaldwell's Avatar Comment 17 by HughCaldwell

Comment 19 by Pete H I read yesterday that a Sydney area local council (Marrickville City Council), presumably in response to changing demographics from immigration and the influence of the imported ‘progressive faith communities’, has just resolved to impose an official boycott on Israel.

Irrespective of the effectiveness of a boycott, there is universal condemnation of Israel's crimes, notably of the colonisation of Occupied Palestinian Territory, extrajudicial executions and the mass murder of non-combatants.

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 09:02:57 UTC | #576489

HughCaldwell's Avatar Comment 18 by HughCaldwell

those who resort to violence, those who promote violence/who deny rational/reasonable problem solving (as if logic/reason/evidence were deceptive), are the enemies of a free/open society.Comment 12 by qapla

Very true but there is no world government,so the influence of liberal ideas is limited in independent sovereign nations where these ideas are not widespread. In the case of Pakistan, the influence of the great champion of such ideas, the United States, has not been altogether benign. If you apply Popper's notions to international relations, it's unfortunately the case that the United States resorts to violence, the threat of violence and support for violence.

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 09:16:42 UTC | #576492

michaelfaulkner101's Avatar Comment 19 by michaelfaulkner101

comment by steve zara.

right on the button. I liked also what you said on the other thread about hitchens as well.

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 10:12:36 UTC | #576506

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 20 by Stafford Gordon

As usual, succinct and to the point.

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 10:13:48 UTC | #576507

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 21 by Steve Zara

Comment 25 by michaelfaulkner101

I would like to add that I'm not a supporter of the Iraq war - it's one of the many (non-religious) things I am agnostic about. I feel I don't know enough to have a valid opinion. What I find I am more confident about is the incoherent nature of most arguments I have heard against the war to do with legality. Whatever the rights and wrongs, insisting that Blair and Bush are war criminals is rather dodgy on many grounds. Also, it does seem ironic that so many who have the view that Blair and others were acting against the proper process of international law would declare Blair a war criminal before the outcome of any trial.

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 10:24:21 UTC | #576512

GBile's Avatar Comment 22 by GBile

I also agree with what Hitchens says about the despicable violence committed in the name of islam, or under the guise of islam.

But I ask myself, repeatedly, what can 'I' do to end this ? Any suggestions ?

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 11:05:20 UTC | #576528

hungarianelephant's Avatar Comment 23 by hungarianelephant

Comment 27 by Steve Zara :

What I find I am more confident about is the incoherent nature of most arguments I have heard against the war to do with legality.

You've done well to hear any arguments at all. For the most part, the supposed illegality of the war is a convenient slogan, touted by people who couldn't tell a treaty protocol from a lemon sorbet.

Note to the logically challenged: the above does not imply support for the war.

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 11:08:21 UTC | #576531

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 24 by Quetzalcoatl

hungarianelephant-

I was wondering; do you know of any good articles that discuss the legality/illegality of the war? There's a lot of rhetoric about it being illegal, and I must admit I don't know if that's true or not.

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 11:25:45 UTC | #576541

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 25 by AtheistEgbert

Comment 28 by GBile :

I also agree with what Hitchens says about the despicable violence committed in the name of islam, or under the guise of islam.

But I ask myself, repeatedly, what can 'I' do to end this ? Any suggestions ?

It doesn't end. It's only just begun. We're speaking out against religion and irrationality, because we're fortunate enough to be able to.

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 11:32:38 UTC | #576545

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 26 by Peter Grant

I love the way Hitchens describes the struggle against apartheid, makes me feel all patriotic and sentimental again. Viva South Africa!

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 11:49:01 UTC | #576552

hungarianelephant's Avatar Comment 27 by hungarianelephant

Quetz - You could do worse than Lord Goldsmith's advice to the British government. Not least because of its lack of clarity and certainty.

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 12:28:57 UTC | #576572

Chrisss212's Avatar Comment 28 by Chrisss212

Comment 22 by Richard Dawkins :

If you imagine setting up an experiment to see how far you could go with childhood indoctrination – a challenge to see just how nasty a belief system you could instil into a human mind if you catch it early enough – it is hard to imagine succeeding with a belief system half as nasty as Islam. And yet succeed they do.

From what I hear from ex-Muslims it is the fear of hell fire which is the most difficult belief to abandon. I fear that Muslim children are taught that those who do not believe are destined to hell fire. I suspect that this is the catchiest idea which stays with children throughout their lives. Where Christians feel a bit silly and embarrassed talking about hell, (at least in Britain) many Muslims don't seem to have much of a problem spreading it around.

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 12:37:08 UTC | #576577

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 29 by Mark Jones

Comment 33 by hungarianelephant

Consider, too, his oral evidence at Chilcot. Gave me a headache.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Just finally, the Foreign Office

   lawyers also were not persuaded along the lines that you
   chose.  The point is that it remained, even within the
   British Government and therefore, not surprisingly,
   within the Security Council, a controversial view [that 
   war was legal].

RT HON LORD GOLDSMITH QC: Forgive me. I mean, I make

   one observation.  I know what the view of Sir Michael [Wood]
   and Elizabeth Wilmshurst was, although I did not have
   any discussions with Elizabeth Wilmshurst, even at the
   time of her resignation, though I offered some.  I don't
   criticise her at all for not giving me that opportunity
   to speak to her.  I don't know really what the position
   was of others and perhaps it doesn't really matter.
       If, Sir Lawrence, the question is, was this
   a difficult issue, on which there were different views,
   of course, and we wouldn't have spent today debating it
   if that were not the case.

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 12:50:26 UTC | #576579

NealOKelly's Avatar Comment 30 by NealOKelly

Comment 12 by qapla

My point of quoting Karl Popper (one of the great philosophers of science in my opinion) was that those who resort to violence, those who promote violence/who deny rational/reasonable problem solving (as if logic/reason/evidence were deceptive), are the enemies of a free/open society.

Which would include Islamists or any other political/religious ideology/group/individual.

And, indeed, Popper himself.

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 13:30:47 UTC | #576584