Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bactrian camel: In terms of Islamophobia, Orientalism, the Internet, online education and WUaS, MIT OpenCourseWare's courses translated into Persian here, New, Iran, and Middle East, wiki, subject page at WUaS, A chapter on Orientalism in the online German UNESCO World Heritage Sites' web site - "Treasures of the World" or "Schaetze der Welt" ... http://www.swr.de/schaetze-der-welt/ - suggesting that the German characterizations of these UNESCO WHS expresses a form of Orientalism, WUaS MIT OCW-centric education, in Arabic and Persian/Farsi, for example, and even Friendly-informed, as well as NtF-informed, may be a way to help think our way out of Islamophobia and Orientalism, Quaker school in Ramallah

Hi C, I, and Nontheist Friends,

In terms of Islamophobia, Orientalism, the Internet, online education and World University and School,

you'll find MIT OpenCourseWare's courses translated into Persian here - http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/translated-courses/ - and here - http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/translated-courses/persian/ - but not yet translated in Arabic, one of the main United Nations' languages WUaS plans to develop in first.

Here's the new Persian, wiki subject at WUaS with many MIT OCW courses -http://worlduniversity.wikia.com/wiki/Persian_language.

And here's the new, Iran, wiki, subject page at WUaS ... http://worlduniversity.wikia.com/wiki/Iran_(Islamic_Republic_of) ... which I sent to my friend from Iran, who's a graduate student at UC Berkeley, recently, and which will become a MIT OCW-centric university in Iran, potentially in all languages there (Wikipedia is in 285 languages, by way of comparison).

And here is the Middle East, wiki, subject page at WUaS with its main, growing links ... http://worlduniversity.wikia.com/wiki/Middle_East#World_University_and_School_Links ... including beginning, musical ones.

What's the difference between Orientalism and Islamophobia, I wonder? More (societal) fear in the latter?

I wrote a chapter on Orientalism in the online German UNESCO World Heritage Sites' web site - "Treasures of the World" or "Schaetze der Welt" ... http://www.swr.de/schaetze-der-welt/ - suggesting that the German characterizations of these UNESCO WHS expressed a form of Orientalism (per Edward Said ... and it looks like you can read some of my chapter here ... http://books.google.com/books?id=DpYzJqxs9ncC&pg=PA122&lpg=PA122&dq=German+UNESCO+world+heritage+sites+website+-+Treasures+of+the+World+schaetze+der+welt&source=bl&ots=FvNiws3W7i&sig=Iai8yUEXaQrx1u69lBfvI_Y-sLk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=BbejUY24EKmliQK1vYCwDw&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=German%20UNESCO%20world%20heritage%20sites%20website%20-%20Treasures%20of%20the%20World%20schaetze%20der%20welt&f=false) - as well as looking at these World Heritage Sites as nascent, online, multimedia destinations. I know less about Islamophobia.

I think online, WUaS MIT OCW-centric education, in Arabic and Persian/Farsi, for example, and even Friendly-informed, as well as NtF-informed (WUaS is Quaker-informed in that open, monthly, business meeting is in the manner of Quakers) may be a way to help think our way out of Islamophobia and Orientalism, as well as create cross-cultural understandings, through University education, ... something Friends in general may have sought to do over centuries, in one way or another. The Quaker school in Ramallah, begun in the mid-late 1800s is one good example of this.

WUaS would like to offer online, free, Creative Commons' licensed, MIT-centric university degrees - bachelor, Ph.D., Law and M.D., as well as I.B. diplomas, - beginning in English, and moving next into the 6 United Nations' languages, and especially in the Middle East, with time.

Many law schools, for example, in respective languages, under one WUaS 'umbrella' will be an important development in international law. C, have you read much in Islamic law, for example, besides the book you mention?

Nontheist Friends, how can we teach and learn about the rich culture and beauties of Islamic civilization, that allows people to move beyond Islamophobia?

With f/Friendly regards,


Some other nontheist Friends add their thoughts to this email thread about Islamophobia ...

(May 27)

C, I appreciate your thoughts on Islamaphobia and its background. I will simply plead guilty.  I am so anti-religious and anti-supernatural I don't know what else to do.  

What troubles me the most is the constant killing of Muslims by and of and for each other.  This morning there were a series of explosions in Baghdad that killed about 70 people (and counting).  This is a daily, weekly, monthly on-going slaughter that happens all over the middle east day after day.  I know of no one who explains it or justifies it.  The media reports the numbers but treats them all as isolated incidents and gives us no overview or understanding.  (Does anyone know if someone is keeping score and trying to explain it.)  Can you help? 


(May 28)


There are so many other factors at play that if religion is genuinely the primary motive we'd have absolutely no way to tell. You've got poverty, unemployment, years of oppression by a minority (the Alawites, sect of Bashar al Assad, were suppressed by the Sunnis before they took power and now oppress their oppressors), for the first time access to information and more via the Internet and the capacity for social action through that medium (you could have a flash mob of protesters in 30 mins, faster than the dictatorial regime could respond), ethnic tensions, individual psychopaths and sociopaths with charm and persuasion, access to weaponry and explosives via regional arms networks, support from other players in the region and globally (recent EU announcement about arming the rebels, Senator McCain's secret visit, Russia's influence as well as Iran's)...

The list is so insanely long that teasing out the answer would take a lifetime, which I think is why no one tries, really.

Why it always seems to fly under the flag of religion has, I think, to do with the fact that mosques under dictatorships easily become community centers where ideas and money can freely flow, but all against the background of religion.  The Saudis give money to the Sunnis, the Iranians give it to Hizballah and Shi'a in Iraq, and both give it in exchange for arms to the local branch of the arms network. Suicide bombers are easy to come by not because there are 72 virgins in Jannah, but because disaffected, unemployed young men are a dime a dozen under those circumstances, and where do they turn when life is bleak? They are told they will become martyrs, like those who fought with the Prophet, and more importantly to them perhaps is that their families will be well taken care of, financially speaking.

Why does each side do it? Think of it like a Cold War, because it is in a way, Shi'i against Sunni, Saudis against Iranians.  It's actually a miniature Cold War, a regional Cold War with influences around the globe.  The sectarian violence are flare-ups.  They are also proxies by which Russia, China, Europe and The United States are waging a Cold War, though those proxies often do things that blow up in their puppeteer's faces.  

When I say we in the West are Islamophobic, I don't mean willingly: it is hidden, just as racial relations are often hidden. I apologize, Ian; what I meant to convey is that unless a person has taken active steps to address the Islamophobia or racism that is latent in Western societies, they remain benefactors of the history of racism or Orientalism, and in this way remain passive racists or Orientalists. It's the way people didn't realize that saying something was gay (as a pejorative) was necessarily a bad thing - I know I've heard gay friends use it, even.  Now, several years later and with growing acceptance of the gay community, using gay as a pejorative is almost extinct, as people realize how hurtful that can be. Same way "negro" faded under growing recognition that it was hurtful, and "black" is in a nether region of acceptability (I say keep it: African-American is a mouthful, and the hip hop industry is too invested at this point.  Stay black and proud. The term 'black' covers both the emergence of Jazz and Hip Hop, perhaps the two most influential forces in music globally, after all).

This is the sense by which I mean we're all Islamophobic.  We carry hidden prejudices that are hurtful, such as Islamophobia, and it is time we put them down. I do not mean to imply that anyone is a willful participant in this power structure, just that we're unaware of what we do. That's fine, so long as that, once we become aware of it, we do something about it. 

I'll give you an example.  The media often talks about [fill in the blank] "instituting shari'a law," by which they mean any sort of brutality.  Now, set aside the fact that the people "instituting shari'a law" are actually just armed thugs with a thin veneer Islam to make them credible and gain access to Saudi money, usually, and let's just concentrate on the Western media using this phrase.

Because it's actually quite offensive to Muslims to hear the media say this. Suspend disbelief for a moment and try to imagine what it is like to be a Muslim.

Shari'a is a divine blessing.  It literally means "the path to water," which for the Arabs of that era literally meant the path to life surrounded by empty, broiling deserts.  That's its etymology. And it is not simply law, but a way of life.  It's not just those punishments everybody reads, it's also about prayer which follows the time of the day, and maybe more importantly self-sacrifice and service to others. Allah (which is the male aspect of Allat.  Allat is the essence of Godliness, while Allah is her expression- as Muslim feminists point out) loves those who live for the benefit of others, without discrimination.  For example, the Prophet would regularly go penniless freeing slaves, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, tending to the people the rest of his society saw as outcasts.  

Since it is readily available to most members of this group, let me explain by analogy to the Anglo-American "common law" system. In our courts, we strive to achieve justice, and often fail, but perhaps do a little better each time, right? Well that idea of a judicial system started with the Muslims trying to achieve shari'a, but failing and ending up with fiqh, applied law. Muslim jurists on Sicily would go out into the countryside and render rulings on cases based on their knowledge of the law and the specific circumstances of the case.  Then they would all meet together and discuss their cases, from which they derived common principles for when they next went out into the countryside - hence "common" law.  The Normans, when they conquered Sicily, were so impressed with the system that they exported it to Britain, from whence it took off.  

Anyway, saying that someone instituted "shari'a law" is a bit like saying someone instituted "just" law, to Muslims - which dramatically conflicts with the images they see on screen and the stories they hear when the term is used this way.  TV speaks louder than elders, so some begin to equate "shari'a" with the brutality they see and hear.  And that's really all it takes to make a Western Islamic terrorist, much as many of the 9/11 hijackers were. 

* * *

I've been thinking about the Prophet Muhammad, and Quakerly qualities that, irrespective of belief in a deity, we all wish to emulate.

What is sad is that the Western world has not heard about Muhammad.  I do not mean to evangelize, but merely to inform: this is why Muslims so love Muhammad and find it so difficult to tolerate negative portrayals of him, in the way that Westerners tolerate the mocking of Jesus.  Before I begin I must stress that Muslims believe Muhammad was a human, just like everyone else, without any special powers, such as those claimed by the followers of Christ, and that the following profile is congealed from many accounts:

Muhammad was a wildcard in 7th Century Arabia (by comparison for Anglophiles, Sutton Hoo was buried at this time): unlike other men, he willingly took a job underneath a woman, trading along the routes that brought spices and silks West. He subsequently fell in love with his boss and asked her to marry him. Khadijah, his first wife, was also the great love of his life.  She would die later, and it changed the man. Whenever someone brought up her name, his face became dark: Muslim sources freely admit this, which is odd for such a testosterone-drenched culture. In fact, Muslim law gave women rights (property rights, which gave them an an additional economic advantage) for the first time, and Muhammad himself treated women as equals. After Khadijah he loved some wives, but never in the same way, and regardless of the marriage (this is pre-feudalism, remember) for political purposes, he gave each of his wives equal time and equal share of his wealth.  We in the West impute sexual benefit, but this is idiocy considering relationships at the time. Supporting that many women required a large economic commitment, and Muhammad spent much of the paycheck on the needy. It's not a sexual fantasy, in the slightest.

He was scrupulously honest; he wouldn't sell you a bogus product, but neither would he let you get away without some haggling - which was really more about getting to know you than about measuring [I beg the pardon, those who are offended] the lengths of one's respective members.  Muhammad just liked people, is all.  He didn't laugh very often, but he did smile quite a bit, and when he did laugh, it was a momentous occasion: the Muslim sources actually go into fine detail about how the man laughed. 

Even when the forces of Makkah, the polytheistic, rich overclass, threatened him, they found it hard to impugn his character: he had grown up amongst them, and even there he developed a reputation for honesty, reliability, and faith in dark times. Everybody liked him because everybody got along with him.

He would regularly be both broke from freeing slaves and starving himself in order to feed others. Even when forgiven payment he refused not to pay his debts.  He took care of himself in the household, cleaning and mending, doing what any culture at the time would have considered women's work, utterly beneath him.  I'd like to reiterate that, for his time and place, this was quite radical, and that the fact it is preserved at all in the literature lends credence to its authenticity - how else to do you account for these reports?  Feminists are not often celebrated; Muhammad is a rare exception, a feminist for his age, which is always lost amidst the nonsense - and these reports of his respect for women manage to survive 1400 years, despite universally hostile attitudes...

So when Danish newspapers publish cartoons slandering the Prophet, it is to Muslims like slandering the best part of of themselves, no matter where they are on the religio-political spectrum.  This is why the Danish cartoons were so offensive and inappropriate: they understood nothing about Islam, and in this way reiterated the idiotic colonialist attitude that Muslims have come to expect from us in the West, just as the young black man understands "justice" from the police. 

Look, the Danish had every right to publish those rather boring cartoons, but what upset Muslims is that they are unequal. If the newspaper had run a series of anti-Semitic pieces, they would have been roundly thrashed; but because they were anti-Islamic, they were forward-thinking, ground-breaking, influential.  It is precisely and utterly this - more than any religious conviction against the depiction of the Prophet - that angered the Muslim community, whether right or left of the spectrum.


(May 29)

Islamaphobia is hardly the case.
During the 60’s we used to avoid 3 things, suppression, repression, and oppression.
Today, we add a 4th called subjugation.
You know as well as everyone on this site that is what Islam and Theistic Law System’s are all about, not sure we are going with Islamaphobia in any way. Such tactics were used by the Romans; Greeks, England etc. etc. a long long time ago and East Indian communities to this day, even the Mafia, and Organized Drug Syndicates use the same tactics. Tricks of the Religious and the Political /Economic systems/trades, worldwide. Nothing new here.
Granted Islam is used currently by Blacks and Blacks by Islam in particular in this country to counter act pure unadulterated prejudice, bigotry, and ignorance, supported by Theist based Man made Laws… and I have to agree, it is working. Why not fight fire with fire… They have/had absolutely nothing to lose… And theist communities warring among themselves… it avoids getting any more ignorant than that…
Now that the threat of Communism and Apartheid have recently taken their biggest hit’s, the Islam and other religions, are taking their turn up at the bat Territorially, shall we say.
It’s like the Black communities, are saying put, or shut up to the Freedom for the pursuit of happiness folks… What this country is supposed to be all about, not necessarily other than an Islamic, Christian, Jewish, Mormon, and or Catholic etc. etc. themes either, just for starters.
But to assume anyone on this site, especially Atheists are opposed to Islam are just being Islamaphobia indicates you may have a lot to learn about Atheism’s/Nontheisms marvelous Democratic alternatives.
When you join the Atheist’s communities, you join in the intolerance of those 4 ambitions described above period!!
One of our Atheists only real fear is, if we have any, is literally going where the Theists all have gone for so many centuries.
I’d have to ask if you really compare Democratic Law System’s to Shari ‘a Law System’s and conclude somehow any Theistic Based Law systems, in any form, come from any kind of Truth orientation, what so ever? I’d take another look if so…
Really why Atheist’s know the founders of this country were really Atheist’s, not Theists. Way too many Atheist/Nontheist/Free Thinking premises included in our founding fathers Heads and Hearts.
And yet as you may have learned in Law School it’s not only the Laws we choose to freely abide by, but the ability to change those Laws as we the people see most timely and closer to a truth as they may become, and or threatened by such, internally and or externally, and or both simultaneously.
Shari ‘a Law is in no way capable of such Democratic process. It’s only tools are the ancient Arts of fear to the point of blatant terror in every ignorant way imaginable.
But, then take the crap the Native Americans (Indigenous), Blacks, Latino’s, Chinese etc. etc. (melting pot) have had to deal with from unsolved Theist’s Supremacist’s hanging’s, rapes and so much more, in the name of the Deities that are apparently prejudiced, bigoted and filled with hate and ignorance, it is other than surprising Democratic Atheism/Nontheism is on such an up rise.
When I play with ex-Muslim’s and even Muslims, one of the things I find most apparent, is not just their incredibly engrained/brain washed fear and or they are also wanting to escape those frames of reference, it is their pure and simple illiteracy, and lacking in simple concepts of just what Bore’s Dynamic’s are all about just for starters.
Simple ideas, and even complex quantum mechanics ideas, are totally new to them. Granted the computer programming realm is now so user friendly, even computers are doing it, what’s my point?
Eventually even computers will have to ask who, what, where, when, why and how did we/youse organic cognitive types get us into this/such a mess in a first place.
Are youse guys really that insensitive, and totally got your heads and hearts up your respective you know what’s, and for how/as long has this bologna, been goin’ on???
Islamaphobia is hardly the case here C…
Atheists’ have been treated so poorly for ever so long it’s more of a wonder they/we have avoided considering Islam, as a way to ignorantly go as well. Maybe it’s the cutting off of our heads or getting stoned practice, no questions freely to ask in that event horizon… maybe??
If that is where you are going with this discourse, I get it.
And interestingly enough, the ex-Muslims I have had the privilege to converse with, are actually good with my Nontheist premises, and the first thing they try to do is to see how /if some of the Koran’s/Shari’ a Law teachings could be included in Nontheism, of course less the concepts of Deities/Gods.  But, avoid calling yourself an Atheist or Christian… they really avoid wanting to go their either. Interesting difficulty, but then I avoid what many call problems, as it were, and call them difficulties. Attitude counts…
One of the poems I wrote when much younger included the concept of:
If Jesus was the son of God, would not his truths be true.
If Jesus was other than the son of God, would not his truths be true.
If you substitute the word Mohamed and or Allah respectfully into the poem. That appears to be where the ex-Muslims are at Atheistically/Nontheistically currently.
Where I kinda see the Quakers Nontheist Friends to be at in some regards, on this Nontheist site. What can we carry over/retain from our Quaker experiences into our form of Atheism. And many of the other ex-Theists of all persuasions I associate with, still are wanting to do the same, regardless of the persuasion they migrated from. Really.
Seriously.  Even our first and only Secular Hub here in Denver reeks of Modern Theistic Church trappings. The only thing missing right now is the Candelabras. And one of the founders of the Hub has already suggested adding Greek Style columns to the  walls, a kind of half column impression on the walls.
And I’ve told them so. The next thing we know there will be incense burning Atheist types tramping up and down between  the rows of chairs, selling prayer/philosophy wheels as they go.
When we/they ask for financial support, they have to make sure we know this is in no way, a form of tithing, but every little bit helps. I wonder which corner of the street is really ours to take turns on.
If it weren’t for the writings of Darwin, Carl Sagan, and Hitching on the walls, you’d avoid knowing the difference, not to mention all the Atheists literature available in our lobby, for a minimal Hub supporting price to pay.
The never born again Atheists, have a difficulty understanding why anyone would even consider such thoughts, but they humor us just the same, and what do they know anyway?
I am thinking pure ignorance is border line mental illness, and that’s when humor has it most cognitive place.
Fortunately in a Democratic System where the government Are the People, For the People, and By the People and they know even the Gods would otherwise avoid even thinking of going where many of our Theocratic premises go,  I can only assume they are laughing their respective heads off, watching us all play our bowling game late into the thundering night, like we are then actually the Gods and or Goddesses shall we say.
Anyway, not Islamaphobia here, in any way, shape, and or form.
What I am seeing is attempts on all the Religious fronts to “open up”, and try to persuade the Atheist communities to be on their side when the themes of the Hobit come together to see whom will eventually hold the “precious” (ring)… a truly Gollum theme to be sure.
And I for one am other than buying it.
You religious types want to go around slaughtering each other in the name of ignorance, knock your selves out.
But then I think the Theist communities are also playing the, Supposed Minority, Gay, Women Rights, Drug and Atheist communities in the hopes we will go with them into Armageddon, regardless of which side wins.
And we all know that as soon as their Armageddon is all over everything will go back to the way the winner of the War, wants to write the History books.
And yet one of the things the ex-Muslims brought up, and I do have to admit would be an interesting plus, is the concept of handling Extramarital Sex via contractual agreement. Not so much that I would be into that, but such sexual acts appear to be more natural than many Religious themes would have us to believe. And inadvertently a truth of cognitive behavior, and should be dealt with as peacefully as practical.
So, if that is a Truth, then perhaps we could add that option to the list of Annulments, Divorces, legal alternatives, and such.
So, perhaps other than so Islamaphobia here, like I said.
But, if you even think of goin’ to Honor Killing’s and many more of Islam’s bologna, teachings, Islamaphobia will be the least of your worries.
Seriously there is a reason/s for the Right to Bare Arms. In a way it’s a danger to live with that Amendment, and an even more dangerous environment to live without them.
Granted that right was to protect us from invading alternative nations Armies, but bottom line those invading Armies, can/could be our own government just as easily as not. Truth sucks. Ask the blacks whom have seen their wives, and children dragged out of the own houses/homes and hanged, raped, regardless of sexual orientation.
Mohammed was correct in fighting the Israelis’ from the perspective of fighting fire with fire. But, history has shown, fighting ignorance with ignorance is totally other than an answer.
But, history has also shown fighting ignorance with truth has a much longer wealth of progress and effectiveness.  Easy to say, 20-20 site being what it is.
Atheism/Nontheism is literally what truth currently is all about.
Quakerism was founded in the search and research of truths.
If that is the only thing carried over into Nontheism, then carrying over some experiences from Theistic premises makes sense. But such a tradition added to Atheistic/Nontheistic premises is other than an Islamaphobia thing.
I am thinking the Atheists communities are quite aware of where the Islam’s Idiots are coming from.
Paranoia is other than a case, if someone is really and truly after you.
And they are after us, and they will promise us anything, we want, except freedom from the premises based in pure ignorance.
That’s not Islamaphobia that is just healthy common sense. Dang good reasoning.
Peace 2013


(See, too, this "More on Islamophobia, Orientalism, Nonharming vis-a-vis nontheist F/friends and Quakers, and Academia, Malcolm X and American Islamophobia, Here are the WUaS, Arabic language, and the Persian language, wiki, subject pages, with many MIT OCW courses in Persian, And here's the Middle East wiki, subject page with links, with the current, beginning, country pages there, Each WUaS, language and country, wiki page will become a university or school in those Middle Eastern languages and nation states" post from June 11, 2013 - http://scott-macleod.blogspot.com/2013/06/persian-leopard-more-on-islamophobia.html).


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