On Dissing Moslems

letter-447577_1280

My friend Shira Schmidt’s May 18 post about an English barrister who made derogatory comments about Moslems at a dinner party provoked a great deal of comment. Notably absent, however, was much curiosity about what he had actually said. Without that information, I’m at a loss as to how to evaluate his remarks or Shira’s response.

In general, it strikes me that there is too much political correctness in what is said about the Moslem or Arab world rather than too little. After 9/11, For instance, President Bush was at pains to stress that Islam, like the other great monotheistic faiths, is “peace-loving.” Perhaps, but as Mark Steyn noted at the time, if one were to examine any of thirty or so hotspots around the world where people are busy blowing one another to smithereens, often starting with themselves, one is sure to find a Moslem male between 18-30 at the center of the action.

The U.N. itself put together a report by Arab academics on the Arab world, which detailed the major deficits — deficits of information, of democracy, etc. — that characterize virtually every Arab country. By any measure of human achievement, Moslem countries, and particularly Arab countries, consistently lag behind their neighbors. All coincidental? Again, perhaps. But is noting these facts contemptible.

The recent coverage of Newsweek’s Koran-flushing report neatly captures the failure to properly address the deformations of the Moslem world. For all the discussion about Newsweek’s sourcing methods and the like, it took almost a week before Jeff Jacoby finally made the obvious point that the real story here is that (some) Moslems, unlike adherents of any other major religion today, think that the proper response to insults to their religion is to go on rampages that kill dozens of people having no connection to the original insult. Even Thomas Friedman got this point.

Saudi billions are still being spent to export Wahhibism, a particularly violent and xenophobic version of Islam around the globe. And it appears to be the fastest growing strain of Islam in the Moslem ghettos of Western Europe. Do we have the right to note the threat? Are we crazy if we do nothing about it? You bet.

As one who travels pretty frequently, I am more than a little tired of being subjected to extra security review in every American airport because my ticket originates in Israel. Neither I nor little, old grandmothers from Omaha constitute a security threat. If we were honest we would admit that the pool of potential airline hijackers is pretty much confined to Moslem men (sometimes described as “of Middle Eastern descent”) and converts to Islam. So why not focus on them and cut out the extra stuff for the rest of us. Must it be an article of faith, that the overwhelming majority of Moslems, like the rest of us, are peaceloving, harmless folks, and so everyone should be subjected to the same scrutiny.

Do these unkind thoughts make me an unwelcome dinner guest?

You may also like...

12 Responses

  1. Different River says:

    Josh Narins:
    I had no idea the Irish Republican Army or the Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (Basque) were Islamic.

    Learn something new every day.

    The IRA actually has a long history of collaborating with Arab terrorists. They had training cmps in Libya at one point, I think in the 1980s.

    I don’t know if this is the case with ETA or not.

  2. DovBear says:

    Mr. Rosenblum is addressing a religion-based worldwide phenomenon, abetted by and often inflamed by grass root support and a well organized and widespread clerical network.

    Sounds like Europe of 50 or 100 years ago.

    Security personnel in the US are not allowed, by law, to use racial profiling. This isn’t true. To the best of my knowledge, private security forces, like the type most airlines and stadiums employ, can do as they please.

  3. Akiva says:

    Your logical flaw is assuming that being “Muslim” is the causative factor.

    By the same logic thay should stop only men — since the majority of terrorist acts are caused by men.

  4. Dov Wachmann says:

    Also notably absent from the discussion was any comment on whether Shira Schmidt’s quote from the Divrei Chaim had any relevance to the point she was trying to make. There is a tendency to sieze upon any positive comment in the sifrei haposkim about umos haolam and recast it as if it were an expression of contemporary political correctness. The Divrei Chaim mandates respect for host nations on the basis of gratitude. As Shira herself quotes, “All the more so, then, are we obligated to show honor to those countries in the shade of whose protection we rest”.

    Only extreme elements within Neturei Karta view themselves as subjects of the Palestinian Authority. The rest of us, however, realize that our brethren in Israel do not “rest in the protection” of the Arab and Moslem world and therefore we are unencumbered by any contemporary debt of gratitude. In fact the overwhelming majority of Ashkenazim among us have never lived under Moslem “protection”. Nonetheless, as far as hakoras hatov goes for their hosting our Sephardic brethren over the generations, we treat them even better than the Torah demands for Mitzrim (Egyptians).

    In addition we should recognize that many of the more positive comments about umos haolom in the sifrei haposkim were made under the fear of persecution and censorship. Whenever potentially dangerous topics such as laws involving gentiles were broached it was essential to make disclaimers such as “We are referring to the Idol worshippers of old not the gentiles of today”. The context of the Divrei Chaim indicates the likelihood that the Divrei Chaim was far more concerned with his own safety than he was with the possibility of an English barrister making stereotypical remarks.

    I agree more with Adam’s comments about the pitfalls of generalizations than with Shira’s sentiments. Jonathan Rosenblum gets it right when he says that political correctness is the greater problem. Either way the Divrei Chaim has no bearing on any of this.

  5. Joseph says:

    peaceful province of Nagorno-Karabakh?

    I wonder if the armenians murdered by moslems there consider it peaceful???

  6. Eliezer Barzilai says:

    Mr. Narins, your sarcasm is misplaced. Your examples are no more apropos than if you had cited John Wayne Gacy. They are anomalous and isolated gangs of murderers. I don’t think you would feel, on the basis of Belfast, that your Roman Catholic neighbors present an immanent danger to your and your family. Mr. Rosenblum is addressing a religion-based worldwide phenomenon, abetted by and often inflamed by grass root support and a well organized and widespread clerical network.

  7. Zev says:

    “Hardly anyone objects when it’s used to on people wishing to enter a space like a stadium or an airliner.”

    Evidently, you’re not aware that several airlines have been fined huge sums for employing racial profiling in screening their passengers.

  8. Josh Narins says:

    I had no idea the Irish Republican Army or the Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (Basque) were Islamic.

    Learn something new every day.

    And what about all that atheism the Soviets pushed on the Dagestanis, Chechens, and those living in the peaceful province of Nagorno-Karabakh? None of it took?

  9. Toby Katz says:

    Alex wrote: “Everyone isn’t subject to the same scrutiny. Airport security agents certainly use racial profiles, as well they should. Liberals only have issues with profiling (as well they should) when it’s used to justify a traffic or pedestrian stop. Hardly anyone objects when it’s used to on people wishing to enter a space like a staudium or an airliner.”

    Every sentence in that paragraph is factually incorrect. Security personnel in the US are not allowed, by law, to use racial profiling. They read the newspapers and know the same thing we all know — that Arabs are a security risk — but in their training they are taught to act as if they don’t know what they know.

    The Israelis are smarter about this. They divide their efforts more wisely, giving extra scrutiny to those who are more of a risk and not wasting too much time with the rest. Even the most bilious anti-religious Israeli knows that the chareidi guy with a wife and kids in tow is not a security risk.

  10. Chana says:

    Your statements remind me very much of an article I read in the Chicago Jewish News. It’s called ‘Shoe Business’ and the link is here: http://www.chicagojewishnews.com/archives_articles.jsp?id=14999

    A particular quote from the article: “War time, terrorist threats do not call for political correctness. It is beyond nuts that U.S. Department of Transportation guidelines do not allow airport security to rely on “generalized stereotypes or attitudes or beliefs about the propensity of members of any racial, ethnic, religious or national origin group to engage in unlawful activity.”

    Of course, there’s more. Read the article. It echoes you, or vice versa.

  11. alex says:

    Must it be an article of faith, that the overwhelming majority of Moslems, like the rest of us, are peaceloving, harmless folks, and so everyone should be subjected to the same scrutiny.

    Everyone _isn’t_ subject to the same scrutiny. Airport security agents certainly use racial profiles, as well they should. Liberals only have issues with profiling (as well _they_ should) when it’s used to justify a traffic or pedestrian stop. Hardly anyone objects when it’s used to on people wishing to enter a space like a staudium or an airliner. You can’t use race as a reason to stop a law abiding citizen in public; but you can use it to justify paying additional scrutiny to someone at an airport.

  12. Adam Steiner says:

    You would be welcome at my dinner table. I myself hold similar views. It appeared in Shira’s post that the comments were stereotypical in nature and that the speaker was unwilling to note that. Reality exists, and as many have pointed out, that reality is that suicide bombings and terror attacks are mostly perpetrated by Moslems and most of the world hotspots are Moslem too (when I had the gall to point this out at a panel on Moslem Racial Profiling in school there was at least one hiss, quite a number of intakes of breath and the feeling of dozens of eyes staring into the back of my head). If this were the time of the Crusades we would be making similar comments about Christians and we would be right. Political correctness tends to overlook this, accepting almost every view as legitimate and inherently peaceful while relegating those who differ to the fringe.

    My problem with over generalizing is twofold. First, it is an overly simplistic view. By not recognizing different levels and shades you will inevitably miss opportunities. By way of an example, if one takes the view that every Moslem is evil, a suicide bomber and hate monger in training, Israel would not have an alliance with Turkey. Overtures by Abbas (assume for the sake of argument that they are legitimate, something which I am not prepared to blindly accept) would be dismissed.

    Second, when you overgeneralize you lose the ability to attack the problem efficiently. The main instigators (school curriculum, government propoganda, etc) aren’t looked at as starting the problem but rather as a natural consequence of what these people are.
    Generalizations often lead to inaccurate assumptions (see Judge Posner’s and Professor Becker’s latest post on the “connection” between economic placement and terrorism – http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/).

    I am not against generalizations. But both parites need to understand the terms. The generalization “MO” or “Yeshivish” only works if both parties understand what they mean and are willing to accept that the terms are not a perfect fit. It appeared from Shira’s post that the barrister did not have such views. The beginning of the conversation was nuanced and on another topic. As soon as he switched to Islam it became stereotypical and lost the nuance.