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Cognac McCarthy
Oct 5, 2008

It's a man's game, but boys will play


I'd wait for someone to post better info that will address your specific question, but one option would be to simply ask them to identify the mechanism through which Islam itself leads to violence.

I suspect it'll be a long conversation if everyone continues to engage in it without backing down, and a difficult one to sway them on. While it's hard to say exactly what you should argue, especially since I don't have a good resource showing that religion alone isn't responsible, I suspect you'll probably have the opportunity to challenge them on a few points over the course of the conversation:

1) Defining "Islam": This one seems obvious, but what gets attributed to a given religion or ideology and what doesn't can be pretty ridiculously arbitrary. The obvious illustration of this is white mass-murderers in the US being treated as "troubled" or "bullied", whereas Muslim (or just foreign) mass-murderers are identified by their ideology without hesitation. Similarly in the Middle East, it's very difficult to actually isolate religious zeal as a motivating factor in acts of violence. During the Cold War, the media may have been more likely to attribute certain acts of violence to socialism, for instance. Ask them if there's only ever one motivating force behind their decisions.

2) Defining "terrorism": Are targeted political assassinations acts of terrorism? In many non-Arab or non-Muslim contexts, the Western media doesn't usually jump at the chance to use the word. Sometimes they do, and a lot of the time they should. But state-sponsored violence is rarely decried as terrorism, despite, for instance, US drone strikes traumatizing innocent people in a way that sure as poo poo sounds like terrorism. Or Israeli soldiers opening fire on Palestinians when their lives aren't actually in any danger. (Look around B'Tselem for other good info on this.)

3) Defining "violence": This is where things might get abstract, and you'll probably lose them if you even get to this point. Violence is not just using guns to shoot people. Violence can be economic, social, or cultural. I don't know of any authoritative or easy-to-read links on this, but needless to say in the minds of, say, Palestinians and those who sympathize with them, the blockade of Gaza is a tremendously violent act. But it isn't really recognized as such most of the time, because don't call that sort of thing violence. To use an American example, gentrification is violence. Again, very few people will be on board with this because it's not a definition presented in the media, but I think they're fair definitions of the word. And, in any case, these are the definitions used by those subjected to them. In purely conservative, pragmatic terms, to understand and defeat people who resist imperialist violence or economic violence, you need to be willing to understand their perspectives and pre-empt or respond to their grievances.

4) Bring up the very recent history of imperialism, and of foreign-sponsored brutal dictatorships which legitimate and encourage a culture of political violence with religious rhetoric. A lot of foreign-backed dictatorial regimes are ostensibly secular, meaning resistance to oppression gets tied up with perceived assaults against religion. Likewise, modern Islamic fundamentalism itself largely came about as a response to European imperialism, and has of course been legitimated by more recent foreign imperialism (or funded by other powers as a means of fighting one power's incursions, as with the Taliban).

5) You can go the opposite route and give them plenty of evidence of nonviolent Muslim movements, ideologies, or places. I'd say this isn't going to do much because they'll just handwave it away and say "those are the exception that proves the rule".

6) You can ask them if they'd say the same things about Christianity or Judaism or Buddhism or Hinduism. I'd also say stay away from this, because it'll get handwaved away as "not being at the same rate", or they'll hilariously fall into the trap of numbers 1) and 2), and either explain other motivations for those acts of violence or say they're not terrorism.

7) If you really want to clown on them you can ask them what they know about different Islamic movements like Sufism, Ibadi, Ahmadiyya, or groups like the Druze who are sort of almost Muslim (they'd at least be confused for Muslims by any conservative American dumb enough to say "Islam causes violence"), none of which are associated with fundamentalism or endorsements of violence, though they have many, many, many adherents.

Basically if you can't get them to admit that local political and social factors shape, well, politics and society, you're going to reach an impasse with the people you're talking to. Which is frustrating, because the point of this thread is to try and get past things like that, and I think a lot of the time we can do it, but when you've identified that the opponent has a dishonest epistemology for coming to conclusions, there's only so much you can do.

Incidentally the Middle East section in the OP is still lacking good resources, so if anyone has suggestions feel free to share them.

Cognac McCarthy fucked around with this message at Mar 30, 2015 around 19:30

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Accretionist
Nov 7, 2012



, thanks! My vigor is feeling renewed.

TwoQuestions
Aug 25, 2011


Cognac McCarthy posted:

Great factual arguments.

These look like a great way to convince someone who's a victim of bad data, but I doubt its effectiveness in dispelling full-tilt hatred. If you're trying to convince a Freeper that not all Muslims are terrorists, all the hard evidence in the world won't matter at all.

TBH I'm not sure of the best way to argue against undiluted hatred.

OwlFancier
Aug 22, 2013

It is a powerful visual metaphor for my posting.


Accretionist posted:

I need something sharp and concise to get through but I don't know what.

A hatchet?

icantfindaname
Jul 1, 2008



Hanzo steel or bust. Maybe Damascus steel? I think they don't make that anymore

Shame Boy
Mar 2, 2010

THE HORROR
THE HORROR



TwoQuestions posted:

TBH I'm not sure of the best way to argue against undiluted hatred.

Introduce them to an actual not-violent muslim? I mean I know they'll just play the "one of the GOOD ones" cards but that's all I can come up with. A lot of people (especially squishy white suburban Americans) have never actually met a muslim before, it might work.

Cognac McCarthy
Oct 5, 2008

It's a man's game, but boys will play


TwoQuestions posted:

These look like a great way to convince someone who's a victim of bad data, but I doubt its effectiveness in dispelling full-tilt hatred. If you're trying to convince a Freeper that not all Muslims are terrorists, all the hard evidence in the world won't matter at all.

TBH I'm not sure of the best way to argue against undiluted hatred.

Yeah this is why I said it would be best to wait for someone to post more concrete information. Everything I posted is a matter of rhetorical framing, and it's just what I expected he might run into over the course of the debate, but it's not a roadmap to convincing the other side by any means.

Accretionist
Nov 7, 2012



Any advice for belief that Islam causes pedophilia via child brides?

Disinterested
Jun 29, 2011

You look like you're still raking it in. Still killing 'em?

Accretionist posted:

Any advice for belief that Islam causes pedophilia via child brides?

I believe, as with female circumcision, that you're actually there dealing with a social practice that long pre-dates Islam. That poo poo used to happen in aggressively Christian medieval Europe all the time; it didn't exit or enter the scene because of religion, but for other reasons.

Moreover, you have to differentiate between marriage and consumation. Islamic medieval juridical custom as to the first is that children may be married under circumstances. Whether or not intercourse should be undertaken is a separate question there.

Disinterested fucked around with this message at Apr 1, 2015 around 08:43

Cognac McCarthy
Oct 5, 2008

It's a man's game, but boys will play


Accretionist posted:

Any advice for belief that Islam causes pedophilia via child brides?

Well a lot of the countries where child marriage is most common are in fact Islamic majority countries, and Islam itself doesn't actually set a minimum age for marriage (then again, neither does Christianity, both just say "don't marry your daughter before she's hit puberty"). The role of Islam itself in this is probably pretty hard to dispute: marriage is, obviously, something very closely tied to religion, so if a religion doesn't have much to say people following that religion have at least one less incentive to encourage marriage from a very young age. [e: Disinterested's distinction between marriage and consummation is also very important, yes]

That said, child marriage is common in a lot of the world, for example in India. Most organizations (and this Wikipedia article) define the practice as anyone getting married before the age of 18. 18 is a good marker for maturity, but in different economic, social, and cultural circumstances it may be viewed very differently. It could be that most of these marriages are taking place at 16-17, when the girls are unquestionably sexually mature at least. Another complication is that I don't see any information on average age discrepancy in cases of child marriage: two 16-year-olds getting married is obviously very different from a 35-year-old marrying a 16 year old girl. It could be that this discrepancy is on average greater in some places than others. I'm not familiar enough with gender in some of the more conservative parts of the Middle East to know if there are commonly-held ideas of when a girl becomes a woman, it could be 18, 16, or when she reaches puberty.

That leads into the other part of what you're arguing against, regarding pedophilia itself. The first question is which is whether child marriage and pedophilia are actually the same. I would argue that, while 18 is probably the best rough age to set for legal maturity, in societies that set this at a lower age, marriage of children who are under 18 is not necessarily pedophilic, even if they often or usually are, and even if someone that young is unquestionably not mentally prepared to make that kind of decision and probably doesn't do so terribly freely.

If you concede that all child marriage, even in cases of sexually-mature older adolescents, is still pedophilia, you then have to grapple with whether Islam itself "causes" pedophilia or merely doesn't impede that particular manifestation of it. Certainly there's nothing I know of in Islam which dictates that women should be married as children or adolescents - Islam's contribution appears merely to be that it doesn't strictly prohibit the practice.

Finally, there's the very obvious and important social factors to consider. We all know people, particularly women, are more likely to marry young if there's no prospect of an independent career for them. The evidence from history and economics supporting this claim is absolutely irrefutable. Conversely, in places with few economic opportunities for women, it's no surprise that you see women being married off by their families at a young age. For the Arab world, it appears that Yemen is by far the most egregious place for child marriages, and the practice there is due to family structure and overall poverty, specifically for women. Still, if people are going to flatly claim that it's "Islam" and not local practices encouraging this, you can show them the map of underage births in that Wikipedia article linked above, it shows that Saharan and and Subsaharan Africa have far and away more young mothers (and presumably young brides) than anywhere they're probably thinking of. And according to the map, Saudi Arabia and Iran have roughly the same rates of childbirth for underage mothers as the US, even though underage marriage may be more common there.

Making these arguments is pretty tricky because you will have to concede the following:

- Child marriage is bad, and often legitimates pedophilia
- Child marriage is relatively common in the Middle East and other Muslim-majority countries
- Islam itself doesn't prohibit underage marriage

These concessions might make your argument look weak, but hey, that's part and parcel of arguing with nuance. This interview with Reza Aslan on CNN is a really, really great example of how to successfully navigate an argument that requires you to agree with your opponent that certain practices are very bad, while redirecting the conversation to a more intellectually honest place and critiquing the way they frame the issue. It's really fantastic and I recommend you watch it, as it's actually very close to what you're asking for help on anyway.

Disinterested posted:

I believe, as with female circumcision, that you're actually there dealing with a social practice that long pre-dates Islam. That poo poo used to happen in aggressively Christian medieval Europe all the time; it didn't exit or enter the scene because of religion, but for other reasons.
The interview I posted right above has Reza Aslan arguing that FGM is really almost nonexistent in the Arab world.

Cognac McCarthy fucked around with this message at Apr 1, 2015 around 08:56

Disinterested
Jun 29, 2011

You look like you're still raking it in. Still killing 'em?

Cognac McCarthy posted:

The interview I posted right above has Reza Aslan arguing that FGM is really almost nonexistent in the Arab world.

Except where it isn't. It's principally a cultural practice in a section of the African continent, parts of which are Islamic, which is my entire point: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...UNICEF_2015.svg

There is high prevalence in some middle eastern countries or regions thereof.

Cognac McCarthy
Oct 5, 2008

It's a man's game, but boys will play


Disinterested posted:

Except where it isn't. It's principally a cultural practice in a section of the African continent, parts of which are Islamic, which is my entire point: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...UNICEF_2015.svg

Arab and Islamic are very different things, which is why Aslan makes the argument that it's not a Muslim problem, and certainly not an Arab one. Egypt and Yemen appear to be the only exceptions in the Arab world.

e: I don't know if Sudan, Chad, etc. are regarded as part of the Arab world. If they are, fine, it doesn't actually weaken the argument in any way. In any case, people arguing "Islam = FGM" are probably thinking Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc., where it's not practiced at all.

Here's another good interview with him that talks abstractly about the weird and frustrating ways in which we tend to think of and talk about religion, particularly Islam - it's worth a watch. I don't mean to just pimp this one guy, but he really is the only academic I know of at the moment who is willing to engage with the media on these matters and can present the perspective shared by a lot of experts on the left in a compelling, concise, and approachable way.

Cognac McCarthy fucked around with this message at Apr 1, 2015 around 09:10

Disinterested
Jun 29, 2011

You look like you're still raking it in. Still killing 'em?

I don't think we're disagreeing about anything here.

Cognac McCarthy
Oct 5, 2008

It's a man's game, but boys will play


Disinterested posted:

I don't think we're disagreeing about anything here.

Probably not. Just that it's decidedly not practiced in the countries that probably spring to mind when people think Islam

Disinterested
Jun 29, 2011

You look like you're still raking it in. Still killing 'em?

Cognac McCarthy posted:

Probably not. Just that it's decidedly not practiced in the countries that probably spring to mind when people think Islam

Actually it is - it is practiced in Saudi quite a lot. Problematically data collection in the middle east is a lot weaker than in Africa on this subject. It seems that in the Middle East in general it occurs on a more regional or sectional basis from what is known.

Oh, and amongst Kurds.

Disinterested fucked around with this message at Apr 1, 2015 around 09:17

Cognac McCarthy
Oct 5, 2008

It's a man's game, but boys will play


Disinterested posted:

Actually it is - it is practiced in Saudi quite a lot. Problematically data collection in the middle east is a lot weaker than in Africa on this subject. It seems that in the Middle East in general it occurs on a more regional or sectional basis from what is known.

Oh, and amongst Kurds.

Hm, do you have a good source for this?

Disinterested
Jun 29, 2011

You look like you're still raking it in. Still killing 'em?

Cognac McCarthy posted:

Hm, do you have a good source for this?

Kurds: http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2010/...ld-me-nothing-0

Which also contains a general overview (that highlights scant data availability):

quote:

It has been reported in Oman, Jordan, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. FGM is believed to be practiced in some parts of Asia, particularly in communities in Malaysia and Indonesia.

This implied to be with lesser prevalence than in African nations.

quote:

In many societies a link is thought to exist between FGM and religious faith. The practice of FGM is not particular to any religious tradition—it occurs in communities that are Muslim, Christian and Jewish, as well as among believers of traditional religions. Perhaps more importantly, however, the majority of Muslims, Christians and Jews do not practice FGM.[76] Specifically as regards Islam, the majority religion in Iraqi Kurdistan, FGM is not practiced in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and most other countries which have a predominantly Muslim population, but is widespread in Egypt, northern Sudan, Somalia and a number of other countries in the Sahel.

A lot of data originates from a detailed UNICEF study:

quote:

Although no nationally representative data on FGM/C are available for countries including Colombia, Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia and parts of Indonesia and Malaysia, evidence suggests that the procedure is being performed. It is also practised in pockets of Europe and North America, which, for the last several decades, have been destinations for migrants from countries where the cutting of girls is an age-old tradition.
http://www.unicef.org/malaysia/FGCM_Lo_res.pdf

Their evidence is based often on small studies or anecdotal experiences, for example this study in Saudi on the effects of FGM on women:

http://www.kau.edu.sa/Files/140/Res...50534_20747.pdf

But evidence from elsewhere suggests that the practice is occuring either amongst groups with little or minimal regard for state boundaries or jurisdictions (bedouins and other ethnic or religious groups bordering Yemen, in Saudi) or else among migrant communities:

quote:

Saudi Arabia (among a few immigrant women and among some Bedouin tribes and residents of the Hejaz)
http://2001-2009.state.gov/g/wi/rls/rep/9276.htm

The residents of Hejaz are taken in that sentence essentially to mean Shafi'i muslims (also common in the Horn).

Cognac McCarthy
Oct 5, 2008

It's a man's game, but boys will play


Useful info, thanks! I'll link your post in the OP.

Cingulate
Oct 23, 2012



IIRC Egypt is absolutely disgusting in this regard, too.

I think trying to argue Islam is not violent is a losing proposition. Empirically speaking, it is, depending on quite reasonable definitions of "Islam", "violent" and "is". I think half of your counter arguments are rather lacking, Cognac. For example, surely there is Buddhist violence. But the point is that there is much, much less of it than islamic violence.
And we shouldn't try to defend Islam out of solidarity with minorities or otherwise disprivileged groups anyways.

What I think is important is that
1. Islam being violent is first and foremost a historic fact regarding the current situation of the world, not an essential aspect of islam. Islam is, and I think rather obviously at that, violent in the sense that currently, murderous terrorists and non-state armies are very often claiming to be especially islamic, much more than any other religion. What is quite up for debate however is if, or to what degree, this is just a contingent fact of the post-colonial, post-cold war, globalising world. My personal guess is "mostly, albeit not completely".
2. Islam being violent in that way is a statistical argument with very little bearing on every-day living in the western world, including interactions with muslims. While statistically, it is true that terroristic murders and FGM and what have you are disproportionally associated with Islam, it is also statistically true that muslims in the west, those here and those trying to enter, are not violent. They're by and large find and upstanding citizens, much more similar to you and I than to ISIS fighters. So both statements - islam is violent, and muslims are not violent - can be true, by quite reasonable definitions of their terms. But only one of them is actually relevant to the people we'll probably end up debating. And trying to argue both will lead to losses, and in the end, you may face an actually non-sequitur argument where the empirical fact of ISIS is somehow wielded against people who are on average, and with extremely few exceptions, much, much more similar to you than to ISIS members.

This is much like trying to argue a topic I know somewhat more about, sex differences in intelligence. Yes, it is true that according to the best research, women are less intelligent than men. It is also true, but much less often said that this difference is extremely small - about 1 or 2 points. While it is true that women have on average almost no, but in the end some cognitive disadvantages, these disadvantages are much less likely to be the reason for the lower number of female science nobels than the much greater difference that women were, for most of history, not allowed to go to university. So the former truth in no way justifies the status quo, and it is this justification, not the extremely slight differences in intelligence, that people care about.
So if you say "women are less intelligent than men", I can't argue with you by saying, no, they're not. I can however argue with you by saying you're a sexist who's using correct facts to incoherently support incorrect claims. And while it is true that Islam is violent by at least some sensible definitions, it does not follow that this licenses hostility towards muslims, and it is this "it does not follow" I would argue with, not the premise.

Cognac McCarthy
Oct 5, 2008

It's a man's game, but boys will play


Cingulate posted:

But only one of them is actually relevant to the people we'll probably end up debating. And trying to argue both will lead to losses, and in the end, you may face an actually non-sequitur argument where the empirical fact of ISIS is somehow wielded against people who are on average, and with extremely few exceptions, much, much more similar to you than to ISIS members.
This is a good point, yeah. I guess the question of what premises and definitions you should concede to your opponent can depend a lot on who your opponent is and what the medium for debate is.

quote:

And we shouldn't try to defend Islam out of solidarity with minorities or otherwise disprivileged groups anyways.

quote:

And while it is true that Islam is violent by at least some sensible definitions, it does not follow that this licenses hostility towards muslims, and it is this "it does not follow" I would argue with, not the premise.
I do find this tendency on the left interesting inasmuch as it extends beyond anti-racism or anti-imperialism. I think most of the time when the left criticizes the way conservatives and others discuss Islam or the Middle East, that criticism is valid and well-founded, if often obfuscated or inarticulate: I think the left has a long way to go in being clear that anti-Arab/Islamophobic/orientalist rhetoric and tendencies, not legitimate objections to extremist violence or fundamentalism, are generally what drives us away from agreeing with the right on these issues.

That said (and this probably isn't the place to hold the discussion), I do think there may be internal contradictions in how the left views and uses religion. Scholars of religion like Reza Aslan (sorry to bring him up again, it's just fresh in my mind) argue that religion is basically whatever we bring into it, and this is a generally agreeable to the left. That is, modern Islamic fundamentalism doesn't necessarily reflect any distilled essence of Islam (a distinction between capital-I Islam and the concept of islam would be useful here, like with communism). I find this tricky, because without knowing otherwise, it could be seen as a pretty dogmatic assumption that the text itself has no bearing on the religion which emerges from it. It's a political taboo, for understandable reasons, to say that lowercase-i islam -- that is, the Quran, hadiths, fundamental practices, and other authoritative materials -- might lend itself to more violent dogmatic practices by followers than with other religions. ( I am not saying this is the case )

Bear with me while I explain why I think the left has this blind spot: I've heard people argue that the Islamic world was much more scientifically advanced and much more open to ideas from the Greeks and Romans in the Middle Ages than were Christians; this is used as proof that Islam isn't inherently backwards, and that it is compatible with other modes of thought, in contrast with the superstitious, dogmatic West, which rejected Greek and Roman thought and learning. These are argued as positive, but nonetheless intrinsic qualities of Islam.

The issue is that by making claims about Islam's "compatibility" with science and other cultures, aren't you defining the religion as one with certain intrinsic properties (in this case, compatibility with science and enlightenment)? Doesn't that both run counter to assumptions that all religions are pretty much the same and that the text doesn't really make that much of a difference? And doesn't it open you up to rebuttals that, if Islam is more compatible with science than Christianity*, it's also more compatible with violent enforcement and evangelism?

*This isn't just used to argue about the Middle Ages, either: I see people invoking Al Andalus to argue that Medieval Islam was more science-friendly than modern middle America

This seems like a pretty big gap between what we assume about religion, and how we use religion to defend certain people. Is there some way of reconciling this in a way that doesn't turn us all into Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens and hopping on the race realist-equivalent bandwagon of "Not all religions are created equal, ergo gently caress this brown person religion"? Or am I missing obvious rhetorical and logical leaps in what I've written above? I don't even know if any of this makes sense to anyone.

Cognac McCarthy fucked around with this message at Apr 1, 2015 around 13:58

V. Illych L.
Apr 11, 2008

ASK ME ABOUT LUMBER


conceding stuff in the name of historical contingency with someone who's talking essential properties is a surefire way to completely lose the argument you're having

the other guy is making a very strong claim which is easy to hobble. nail it down and kill it with facts.

Disinterested
Jun 29, 2011

You look like you're still raking it in. Still killing 'em?

Cognac McCarthy posted:

That said (and this probably isn't the place to hold the discussion), I do think there may be internal contradictions in how the left views and uses religion. Scholars of religion like Reza Aslan (sorry to bring him up again, it's just fresh in my mind) argue that religion is basically whatever we bring into it, and this is a generally agreeable to the left. That is, modern Islamic fundamentalism doesn't necessarily reflect any distilled essence of Islam (a distinction between capital-I Islam and the concept of islam would be useful here, like with communism). I find this tricky, because without knowing otherwise, it could be seen as a pretty dogmatic assumption that the text itself has no bearing on the religion which emerges from it. It's a political taboo, for understandable reasons, to say that lowercase-i islam -- that is, the Quran, hadiths, and other authoritative materials -- might lend itself to more violent dogmatic practices by followers than with other religions. ( I am not saying this is the case )

I think the argument that Islamic fundamentalism does not reflect the 'distilled essence' of Islam is fine, so long as it's made as part of a broader point about how impossible it is to capture and distill meaning in the way implied by that phrasing. I think all people who say 'there is a true version of my religion and I know what it is' are moronic even if their motivation for saying it is 'terrorism is not compatible with my religion'. I feel as if anyone who is familiar with Derrida probably has to feel as if recapturing true meaning from a text is essentially impossible. For that reason I think it is probably better to de-construct Islam as much as possible in the discussion - to be very clear when you're talking about Islam as a diverse form of practice, a historical phenomenon, or a tradition of discourse.

I think once you do that the discussion becomes a lot less unproblematic.

V. Illych L. posted:

conceding stuff in the name of historical contingency with someone who's talking essential properties is a surefire way to completely lose the argument you're having

the other guy is making a very strong claim which is easy to hobble. nail it down and kill it with facts.

Depending on context. In an academic setting obviously you may want to get props for the way you argue. If you're arguing in front of a group of people you can just seem as if you're prevaricating if you make too many admissions and so on.

V. Illych L.
Apr 11, 2008

ASK ME ABOUT LUMBER


Unless you're arguing with people who do perverse poo poo like debate clubs, your job is to make the other guy's opinions look as repugnant as possible in comparison to yourself. If someone starts talking about how Islam is a violent religion, that person has just set up a huge cross for you to nail them to - for one, being so much of a dunce that they don't understand that religion is social practice with very few essential features, and that these essential features very clearly are not inherently violent (see: relatively not-violent majority-muslim countries). From there you can draw on your no-doubt formidable knowledge of regional history etc to construct an alternate narrative that should be at least as attractive and free from implications of racism.

The point of any argument is to win. Actually being fair is almost never a good way to win an argument. Depending on the audience you may want to look like you're being fair, but you should always strive - again, in an argument-situation - to set things up in as unfair a manner as possible.

Disinterested
Jun 29, 2011

You look like you're still raking it in. Still killing 'em?

V. Illych L. posted:

Unless you're arguing with people who do perverse poo poo like debate clubs, your job is to make the other guy's opinions look as repugnant as possible in comparison to yourself. If someone starts talking about how Islam is a violent religion, that person has just set up a huge cross for you to nail them to - for one, being so much of a dunce that they don't understand that religion is social practice with very few essential features, and that these essential features very clearly are not inherently violent (see: relatively not-violent majority-muslim countries). From there you can draw on your no-doubt formidable knowledge of regional history etc to construct an alternate narrative that should be at least as attractive and free from implications of racism.

The point of any argument is to win. Actually being fair is almost never a good way to win an argument. Depending on the audience you may want to look like you're being fair, but you should always strive - again, in an argument-situation - to set things up in as unfair a manner as possible.

Perversely, I have friends with whom I argue in the spirit of working out what we collectively think is true.

V. Illych L.
Apr 11, 2008

ASK ME ABOUT LUMBER


Well, sure, but that's a different thing than debating/arguing.

If it's genuinely a learning process, different rules apply, of course - I'd go so far as to say that you're not really arguing in a situation like that

Disinterested
Jun 29, 2011

You look like you're still raking it in. Still killing 'em?

V. Illych L. posted:

Well, sure, but that's a different thing than debating/arguing.

If it's genuinely a learning process, different rules apply, of course - I'd go so far as to say that you're not really arguing in a situation like that

I don't know, sometimes you go hard in the hope that something springs up dialectically. But not many people appreciate that that's a way of arguing.

When you're engaged in an argument with a moron or just an argument you want to win, I agree your way is better. But sometimes you can also win by seeming to 'rise above' the poo poo by being magnanimous if your opponent looks super unreasonable and sort of nail them in the process.

Disinterested fucked around with this message at Apr 1, 2015 around 14:53

Cingulate
Oct 23, 2012



V. Illych L. posted:

Unless you're arguing with people who do perverse poo poo like debate clubs, your job is to make the other guy's opinions look as repugnant as possible in comparison to yourself. If someone starts talking about how Islam is a violent religion, that person has just set up a huge cross for you to nail them to - for one, being so much of a dunce that they don't understand that religion is social practice with very few essential features
My problem with this line of reasoning is how ignorant it is to those many believers who do assume their religion is characterized by essential features.

Also, that I think it's rather lazy. There is plenty of Islam beyond just arbitrary stuff and cosmetics, if you bother to look. The Überbau matters.

twodot
Aug 7, 2005
A CLIP AND A MAGAZINE ARE THE SAME THING DUMBASS


Cingulate posted:

I think trying to argue Islam is not violent is a losing proposition. Empirically speaking, it is, depending on quite reasonable definitions of "Islam", "violent" and "is".
I think the definition of "is" here is pretty crucial. I'm not aware of any definition of "is" and "violent" such that Islam can be violent. You could create a violence index such that a particular overwhelmingly Islamic society is more violent than a particular not overwhelmingly Islamic society, but this is pretty clearly a different proposal than "Islam is violent". It's just absurd to say that religions are the cause of things, since religions don't physically exist. Clearly people mean something other than the religion is the actual cause, but that distinction let's people get away with a lot of assumptions that aren't backed by facts.

Disinterested
Jun 29, 2011

You look like you're still raking it in. Still killing 'em?

twodot posted:

I think the definition of "is" here is pretty crucial. I'm not aware of any definition of "is" and "violent" such that Islam can be violent. You could create a violence index such that a particular overwhelmingly Islamic society is more violent than a particular not overwhelmingly Islamic society, but this is pretty clearly a different proposal than "Islam is violent". It's just absurd to say that religions are the cause of things, since religions don't physically exist. Clearly people mean something other than the religion is the actual cause, but that distinction let's people get away with a lot of assumptions that aren't backed by facts.

You forgot to define Islam which is why you're having an issue. If Islam is just a wide agglomeration of real world practice then your objection is not valid. It's not like 'Islam' is used in any way linguistically consistently - it is in need of a deconstructed definition every bit as much of 'is' and 'violent'.

twodot
Aug 7, 2005
A CLIP AND A MAGAZINE ARE THE SAME THING DUMBASS


Disinterested posted:

You forgot to define Islam which is why you're having an issue. If Islam is just a wide agglomeration of real world practice then your objection is not valid. It's not like 'Islam' is used in any way linguistically consistently - it is in need of a deconstructed definition every bit as much of 'is' and 'violent'.
I don't really disagree in principle, but I think any plausible definition of Islam will include "does not physically exist", which will preclude it from being able to perform violent actions.

Disinterested
Jun 29, 2011

You look like you're still raking it in. Still killing 'em?

twodot posted:

I don't really disagree in principle, but I think any plausible definition of Islam will include "does not physically exist", which will preclude it from being able to perform violent actions.

I think you're labouring this point way beyond diminishing returns. If you're regarding Islam as a pattern of observable human behaviour it is linguistically and conceptually not challenging on a basic level to come to a verdict about whether or not it is violent or whatever else. Lots of things do not physically exist in the sense that you seem to mean but nonetheless have agency attributed to them - e.g. states.

twodot
Aug 7, 2005
A CLIP AND A MAGAZINE ARE THE SAME THING DUMBASS


Disinterested posted:

I think you're labouring this point way beyond diminishing returns. If you're regarding Islam as a pattern of observable human behaviour it is linguistically and conceptually not challenging on a basic level to come to a verdict about whether or not it is violent or whatever else. Lots of things do not physically exist in the sense that you seem to mean but nonetheless have agency attributed to them - e.g. states.
First of all, if people grant agency to things that don't physically exist, that doesn't grant legitimacy to other such instances. For your example, "The US is violent" is either a proxy for "The military of the US government is violent" which does exist, or "The population of the US has a violence index over some threshold" which does exist and is the example I cited in my post. Islam does not possess a government or a military, and any analysis of the Islamic population as a whole would be insane, so these are different things.

Disinterested
Jun 29, 2011

You look like you're still raking it in. Still killing 'em?

twodot posted:

any analysis of the Islamic population as a whole would be insane, so these are different things.

I suppose this is one thing you would have to show.

I don't accept the validity of the idea that things have to physically exist to be attributed agency. That is stupid and unhelpful despite all analytic good intentions. If I describe a company as doing something I am doing so because I am explicitly describing a phenomenon of how people behave in the context of that structure, even though it is a ~construct~.

esquilax
Jan 3, 2003



twodot posted:

First of all, if people grant agency to things that don't physically exist, that doesn't grant legitimacy to other such instances. For your example, "The US is violent" is either a proxy for "The military of the US government is violent" which does exist, or "The population of the US has a violence index over some threshold" which does exist and is the example I cited in my post. Islam does not possess a government or a military, and any analysis of the Islamic population as a whole would be insane, so these are different things.

Naziism doesn't physically exist either but I think it's fair to say in plain English that it's a pretty violent ideology

twodot
Aug 7, 2005
A CLIP AND A MAGAZINE ARE THE SAME THING DUMBASS


esquilax posted:

Naziism doesn't physically exist either but I think it's fair to say in plain English that it's a pretty violent ideology
Let's take a look at this, what does Nazism even constitute? Here's what Wikipedia says:

quote:

Nazism (/ˈna¢°tsɪzᵊm/, alternatively spelled Naziism),[1] or National Socialism (German: Nationalsozialismus), is the ideology and practice of the German Nazi Party and state.
"Nazism is a violent ideology" is actually a proxy for "The German state during a particular time was violent".

Disinterested posted:

I suppose this is one thing you would have to show.

I don't accept the validity of the idea that things have to physically exist to be attributed agency. That is stupid and unhelpful despite all analytic good intentions. If I describe a company as doing something I am doing so because I am explicitly describing a phenomenon of how people behave in the context of that structure, even though it is a ~construct~.
Much like the US military, companies do exist. They have business licenses and corporate officers who control various physical assets, and employees and contractors acting on their behalf. There is no license acknowledging Islam as being a particular thing, no corporate officers vested with the authority to manage Islam's physical assets.

Disinterested
Jun 29, 2011

You look like you're still raking it in. Still killing 'em?

Cingulate
Oct 23, 2012



I did feel a bit uneasy when writing "definition of 'is'", but I didn't actually expect it would come to this.

Cingulate
Oct 23, 2012



Cognac McCarthy posted:

the Quran, hadiths, fundamental practices, and other authoritative materials -- might lend itself to more violent dogmatic practices by followers than with other religions. ( I am not saying this is the case )
Well, then let me do it: this is the case. There are religions that lend themselves much worse to violence than islam. Extreme pacifism is very hard to live, and Islam is instead a very pragmatic religion, its texts are full of passages where violence is not forbidden, but regulated. The old testament is similar, the new testament much different.
I'm not aware of a religion whose authoritative materials do not allow a reading where its adherents can never be violent. With some, it takes a bit more of cognitive dissonance, but humans are capable of cognitive dissonance, so there.
The text of Islam, however, is very clear in this regard; while certain forms of violence are always bad, others can be okay.

I should probably emphasise here, I do not think ISIS could justifiably claim they're living a straight reading of the holy texts. They're dong a straight reading of about half of them, ignoring a quarter and misinterpreting a quarter. Islam is full of passages where violence is justified, but not for its own sake, and while there are many examples of brutality, the general tendency of the text is one of merciful and humane conduct even in war.

I think Islam would actually feel much, much more natural to the typical western islamophobe than the new testament. The new testament is anti-pragmatic and promotes codes of behaviour upon which, by a literal reading, societies can hardly be built, especially not societies experiencing external pressure. The Quran is very different. It's for people, not for saints.
And people are violent.

I very much agree with your basic argument about a religion's essence though. I actually think many people who try to completely empty a religion of any essence do not do so because they actually believe it, but because it seems like a workable defence of the cultural context of the oppressed. Laudable, but also foolish. One might even call it vulgar marxism.
It also goes against my inner tendency to approach with respect anything practiced by masses. Islam's adherents certainly don't believe they're doing something that is absolutely vacuous, and in predicating that over them, you're IMO disrespecting their being.

(On the other hand, I'm also a huge Christopher Hitchens fan and like about half of what Sam Harris says, so maybe it's me - I'm the racist.)

Shame Boy
Mar 2, 2010

THE HORROR
THE HORROR



So backing us out of all the for a moment, I think in this particular case it is safe to rephrase the statement as "Modern Islamic culture is/is not more violent than the rest of the world (probably meaning America to the hypothetical person we're arguing with)" because that's probably what the particular person intends by a statement as broad and talking-point-y as "Islam is violent." I realize "Islamic culture" is incredibly vague and varies heavily across regions, but if we're trying to argue against "Islam is violent" I think we're already at the point where the opposing party isn't going to give a gently caress about Sunnis and Shiites etc and just wants broad, overarching generalizations. I think this is probably the only statement we can usefully analyze in any sort of way that would be applicable to the actual argument the person thinks they're having rather than our weird hypothetical (though more accurate) arguments this thread loves to have.

So, what can we look at? I'd say we take a look at the violent crime statistics in predominantly Islamic areas vs. predominantly non-Islamic areas, preferably with all other variables as constant as possible (so not like, Ethiopia vs. Europe or something like that). I'm not even sure if we could get that kind of data "clean" enough though, otherwise we'd be drawing the same sort of biased conclusions as someone looking at a map of race vs. arrests and thinking black people must be more violent.

Furthermore this is another situation that could probably be solved by the person actually getting to know an actual real life Muslim.

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Accretionist
Nov 7, 2012



One of them's now defensive about distancing himself from, "Islam → Terrorism," so I guess that's progress.

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