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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Tuesday January 09 2007

I recommend a read of this posting, if you’ve not read it weeks or months ago already.  Sample quote, to give you the flavour:

Others deal with terrorism by distracting themselves with the fight against terrorism, thus avoiding the question of how to live with it. Be very angry about terrorism, write about it on your blog, blame your political enemies for helping the terrorists - do anything but face the inevitability of terrorism. These are usually the people who go furthest in losing their sense of proportion, to a point where they embrace autocratic ideas. “No trial for terror suspects? Torture, unaccountable surveillance, and harebrained identity schemes? Fine, I don’t care! Just do whatever it takes to protect me!”

I have a different strategy. It is not for everyone, but I believe it is honest and politically safe. Let us take away the most powerful weapon the terrorists have: Fear. Be less afraid of terrorism. Make it your personal project not to fear terrorism, and not to let the fear that remains influence your life. Don’t panic over newspaper headlines. Don’t cancel your vacation because of terror alerts. Don’t hold back your plane because there are some Arabs on it. Don’t support hasty laws and careless political decisions, simple because we “have to do something”.

Accept that there is a threat, but don’t exaggerate it. Don’t trust your instinct to guide you, our instincts are notoriously bad at risk assessment, use reason and facts instead. When people are afraid of flying, they remind themselves that they’re much more likely to die in their car on the way to the airport than on the plane itself. Do the same with terrorism. Fight your fears with facts. I don’t believe in denial, and it is not denial to say that terrorism is one of the smallest threats that any of us face. It is simple irrational to fear terrorism more than traffic.

But, read the whole thing.

My disagreement with “Bjoern Staerk” (sorry can’t do the proper spjoelling) is that I don’t agree with him that the “terrorists” are living in a world of their own with no connection to normal life, and I therefore don’t agree that “terrorism” is a sufficient description of the enemy here.  The 9/11 terrorists, for instance, had a worldview that is very widely shared, by millions of Muslims.

I think that a better description of the enemy would be: Islam plus the disposition to take Islam seriously and to do what it says.

I know lots of people, and know of millions more, who call themselves Christians.  But none of them at all seems to me to take Christ’s injunctions, such as “sell all you have and give it to the poor”, seriously.  Not that that is surprising.  Christ’s advice about such things is very stupid.  It is self-destructive, and if only for that reason, of very little help to anyone else.

Muslims, however, do seem to include people in their midst, small in percentage terms but very numerous nevertheless, who do take the injunctions of their founder very, very seriously.  They become terrorists, or people who make direct and knowing use of the terrorism of others to further the spread of Islam.  I don’t agree that these “terrorists” are freak Muslims.  I agree with them that they are simply Muslims who are serious about being Muslims, and that terrorism is one of the ways to further that end.  I think that “moderate” Muslims who say that Islam is a religion of peace are either deluded or lying.

So, as a sufficient description of what to do about “terrorism”, I think Staerk is wrong, because his description of the enemy is insufficient.

However, as a first approximation to what to do, right now, I think I do agree.  My strategy for dealing with . . . whatever it is . . . is first, do what Staerk says.  Don’t be freaked out.  Carry on with living your life.  In my case that includes blogging about this, and about that, and occasionally about Islam and Islamic terrorism and what we should do about it.

For instance, I will now say, again, that I think that Islam is a thoroughly evil religion.  It asserts the truth of totally false beliefs about the nature of the world and of man’s place in the world, and recommends thoroughly evil methods to make those false beliefs compulsory for everyone.  And it has a sufficient number of adherents in the world to have caused a world of misery and mischief as a result of all that.

Is saying things like that being hysterical, and hence am I going against what Staerk recommends?  Maybe so, and maybe not.  I would say that much depends on tone of voice.  Putting “ISLAM IS EVIL!!!!” on a blog is being rather hysterical, especially if I were to do this, because that kind of writing is not my regular style.  But me just putting that Islam is evil is a lot less so, I would say.

But my point here is that by writing things like this - despite the very slight but surely real danger to me that it might incur the wrath of any devout Muslims who happen to learn of my opinions, and who are too stupid to leave me alone in my infidel obscurity – is me going about my daily routine, unintimidated by terrorism.  (Actually, not by terrorism.  By something else more mundane and ubiquitous, namely regular lower-level Muslim intimidation.  The possibility, for instance, that someone will try to mess with the functioning of this blog.  And that’s another of my bits of evidence that Staerk’s claim that Muslim terrorists inhabit a freak world all their own is quite wrong.  We face a continuum of threats here, rather than one freak threat and nothing else.)

So, although I disagree with Staerk’s labeling of the enemy and his understanding of the problem that this enemy poses to us, I am following his advice.  As a first approximation to what we should do, I agree with it.  But, I think we can do better.

Have you checked your stats lately?
After I wrote about my “altercation”, as NYPD put it, with Muslim missionaries in September, I now see continuous attention from certain IP addresses in Turkey, UAE, Buhrain, even Holland.  They monitor me daily even if I don’t write anything for a few days. And if I write occasional post in Russian, some French resident uses translation tool on that page.

Started to feel like celebrity.

Posted by Tatyana on 09 January 2007

I think you let Christianity off rather lightly here. You may not know people who take the more barbaric imperatives of the Bible seriously, but there are plenty of nuts who do. I’ll avoid the Weinberg quotation cliché, but you get my point.

Posted by Ross Parker on 10 January 2007

Ross

Clearly there is much truth in what you say, as politicians say when they don’t agree but don’t want a fight.  And thanks for that link.

However I want to postpone my response, if you don’t mind, and make a separate post of it.

Short answer: “Christianity”, the word, gives special emphasis to the words of Christ himself, over all the other words in the Bible.  And Christ’s words surely don’t justify terrorism.

Christendom, and Christians generally, however, has and have been notably aggressive.  Why?  Short answer again: because it (they) could be.  Christendom proved to be a very productive social system, partly because of Christianity and Christ’s words (albeit somewhat oddly interpreted), but also for a lot of other reasons.  It could therefore afford to be very aggressive.

That the previous posting right here was all about how aggressive Christians can be will not have escape the notice of even the averagely alert reader of this.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 10 January 2007

"“Christianity”, the word, gives special emphasis to the words of Christ himself, over all the other words in the Bible.”

That’s dodging the issue a bit. We’re not talking about Christianity the word. We’re talking about Christianity the faith - and in that faith picking and choosing the nice bits is a little hypocritical when you deny Muslims the same liberty.

If you are going to allow Christians to disregard the God of the Old Testament to defend their position, should you not also allow Muslims to disregard physical interpretations of Jihad, and to claim theirs too is a ‘religion of peace’?

Posted by Ross Parker on 10 January 2007

See the thred here.
[a note: Daniel is a converted Muslim]

Posted by Tatyana on 10 January 2007

Fear of Islam is rooted from uneducation. If you really think about it, the Islamic fundamentalists are from the poorer countries and have nothing to lose. And yet the West still fears them so much. Consider the 9/11 attacks: Many American children had lost their parents and had to receive counselling because of their vulnerable reactions. Now consider the Millions of children in Iraq and Afghanistan who actually WATCH Helplessly as their parents are being killed by heartless American troops. Those children do not receive counselling and grow up with that feeling of hatred. The only thing that they are left with is their religion. Islam is the most comforting religion and without doubt the only obstacle standing in the way of EVIL

Posted by Zubeida Akhalwaya on 05 February 2007

Christ said, “Sell all you have and come, follow me” to a specific person. It is not a general injunction. He said it to the rich young man; Jesus could see that his wealth was interfering with what the young man could become. Jesus asked the to be one of the disciplines - if only the young man could get over his attachment to his wealth! That’s how much Jesus thought of the young man.

But the young man couldn’t do it; he had more faith in his wealth than in what God could offer him. That’s the message of Jesus’s statement. If you are so attached to wealth that you can’t follow Jesus, then you may need to give more, or, as this young man was, you may be so far gone you need to give it all up, depending on who you are and your attitudes. Does that make sense?

Posted by IB Bill on 14 October 2010
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