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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ethics and Slavery

Ethics: defined as a system of moral principles and not that different to ‘morality’ which is, in essence, ‘appropriate conduct.’  It is talked at us by self-righteous moralists to berate as opposed to educate, and given to us as an instruction rather than as a choice. This is fascism mixed with a dollop of McCarthyism just for good measure and just in case we think too much.

The world is divided into the West and the rest. Saudi Arabia abolished slavery in 1962 but it needed further legislation in 1990 to reinforce the original law and the reality is that slavery remains celebrated in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab world.  No one should believe, almost 1,400 years after the death of the founder of the Islamic faith that this is a religion of universal peace, justice and mercy; 1,400 years after the death of Muhammad, slavery exists and its greatest supporters remain the Islamic, Arab world.

And the West keeps silent because the West / Rest dichotomy renders the slavery issue an inconvenient distraction and in any case if the focus is turned on them they can always blame it on the Jews or the Zionists.  We engage in dialogue with Islamic fundamentalists whose faith demands we return to inferior status, to a position little better than slavery and to institutionalised, contractually ‘bound’ (dhimmi) inferiority with our rights not even guaranteed if we return to medieval subservience.  And then we have British institutions such as the NUS (national union of students) decreeing that Jews, uniquely, have no rights to self-determination.

In 2007 Slavery was abolished for the fifth (?) time in the Islamic republic of Mauritania (up to 20% of the population are believed to be slaves).

Slavery is subjugation and exploitation and so is prostitution, child labour and female inequality; in Islam it is personified by the burqa covering the female body from head to foot to conceal the shame of their sex. All of these elements are culturally self-inflicted and justified by the benefit of a theologically mandated psychosis which outwardly perceives human beings as being created for the purpose of serving a genocidal God superior to all others (Allah).

In the West we say little or nothing because we fear the accusation of ethnic particularism. France outlawed the veil (niqab) and the burka while we in Britain proudly boast that our freedom is greater than theirs, when in fact it is no more than intellectual cowardice that we celebrate. The undercurrent of violence we too, celebrate.  The ethical should be universal which is why we no longer rejoice in torture as a means of punishing the offender in society.  But we have a moral blindness when it comes to Islam.

Hegel’s idea of morality was the state based on public morality. But if the state is informed by society then who leads in formulating this standard?  During the Inquisition it was the clergy; in Arab society the Imam is often the most racist of the pack of human hyena, using their religious literary patrimony to espouse every evil known to society. A defective psyche does not sadly, preclude flamboyance or charisma. Hatred and violence are intoxicating emotions that are not so difficult to harness; ambition and greed make the rhetoric of demonisation a cheap substitute for compassion, and far more seductive. The language of violence creates its own momentum. The veneer of civilised discourse can easily be erased or with a specific target, create a false narrative. Piety is no guarantee of sobriety. Power is conditional respect which in reality, is not respect but leveraged fear.

To radicalize the youth, create dissent, demand sedition or separation (apartheid), to intimidate secular society through the riots and then bring in the radicals to placate those same rioters, is clever.  It is also what fascism used to bring about the overthrow of the nascent democracy in Russian in 1917 and in Germany in 1933. The emerging mainstream Islamist groups in the so called ‘Arab Spring’ seek ‘respectability’ then power. They censor debate as they did in Iran then they ride to power with the support of their dupes. In Iran it was the Mujahedin (Left wing) and the Tudeh (Communist) alliance.  Here it is the committed Left and their liberal allies. Like Nazism they use a combination of populism and the threat of violence. The Salafi movement of puritanical Islamic zealots are often seen to be synonymous with Wahhabi Islam – the ultra orthodox faction that has ruled Saudi Arabia for two centuries. It is they that are blamed for the murder of Copts and the burning of churches in Egypt. But they are no different to any of the Islamic fundamentalists from Djakarta to Karachi and from Amman to Teheran in their extreme intolerance of difference and their hatred for democracy.  If they account for 5% of the voting public in Egypt, it is best we remember that 10% is regarded as ‘critical mass’ for any movement that wishes to become a serious contender for political power.

In the Babylonian Talmud there is an expression: “The ‘tripartite tongue’ slayeth three parties: It slayeth the speaker, and he that heareth what is said, as well as he that is being spoken about” (Arakhin 15b) - my apologies I cannot find from where I read this. In fact the violence of language has ruled men’s hearts for all of our thinking history and while it is true that it poisons the ‘soul’ it’s impact is usually intended to be much more localised. It is only the person of whom the slander is spoken that damage is intended. Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “It is easier to live with the no-truth or half-truth, but it is tedious to live with the whole truth.”  Can there be Peace with Islam while their world knows only propaganda, lies and demi-lies?

Our ongoing sanitization of the Arab world is not morally justified nor may we hope for securing a stable future if we acquiesce to it. It is an ethical failure that afflicts all our Societies and it is an issue that will need to be ventilated if we are to survive.  The problem is that in so doing we expose the bankruptcy of Muslim regimes not just in the Arab world but across the globe.

I would suggest it is this ethical betrayal that is at the heart of our inexplicable and wretched obsession with Israel and global ambivalence to Jewish self-rule.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ethnocentricity and the BBC

Ethnocentricity is a word I first heard in The States in the early 1980’s. It means the tendency to view other cultures through a narrow majority perspective. This was usually accompanied by a sincerely felt shame that our hero or heroine expressed for an insufficient display of obeisance or humility before the cultural attributes or behaviours of the minority.  Inevitably it led to demands for the provision of superior rights to the minority as indicative of sincerity by the majority. Examples of this abound at the BBC. Rageh Omaar’s four-part biopic of the Life of Mohammed asked only two serious questions and glossed over the consequences for human history in his reply to both of those questions. Shappi Khorsandi is a Persian Comedienne who presented a documentary on the contribution of foreign food to Britain last week. What she basically stated was that all Asian / Near-Eastern food is Islamic.  Once again the BBC gave a proponent of Muslim cultural colonialism a platform for propaganda that essentially denied the contribution of any one else to the British way of life.

Claudia Roden was interviewed selectively to support this position which is interesting because the history of British cookery writing can be reductively divided between the contribution by British Cookery writers beginning in the early 1940’s with rationing and the foreign born cookery writers who teased Britain out of its provincial culinary mind set in the 1960’s. The two writers most responsible for the latter were Madhur Jaffrey, an Indian actress and Hindu food writer who introduced the Western world to the diverse cuisines of India (and she, unlike the Muslim, Shappi, credits everyone) and similarly, the Jewish Claudia Roden, born in Egypt and best known as the author of ‘Middle Eastern’ cookbooks who again never attempted to compartmentalise cookery as the inheritance of any one people.

How interesting that the BBC could so shamelessly broadcast a solid sixty minutes of documentary propaganda which was clearly an outrageous, prejudiced attempt to define Britain’s acceptance of diverse culinary traditions as solely Islamic.  The stated conclusion was that the weakening of ethnocentricity in Britain is part of the Muslim inheritance that defines its universal contribution to society.

This programme was no less than cultural rape.

The BBC should be ashamed, but it won’t be. I am sure it is patting itself on the back for yet one more obsequious and toadying biopic of historical revisionism.