Friday, August 20, 2010

Is Islam a Religion? Part II

Following up on Part I, I would like to suggest a few additional principles related to the NYC mosque situation. As I suggested in Part I, I think there are two conditions to consider in regard to identifying an objective threat. First, the ideology by its nature must be antithetical to the principles of individual rights and a constitutional republican form of government. Second, the ideology must be actively engaged in attempting to subvert or overthrow our government, i.e., advocating for or actually engaged in the use of force.
What is relevant is whether a body of thought or set of doctrines espoused by some organization can exist within a broad legal framework founded upon rational definitions of individual rights such as free speech, freedom of the press, property rights, due process, etc. Whether or not a certain ideology takes issue with applications of these principles is not important. However, if an ideology by its nature opposes the very foundation of this framework AND actively seeks to undermine this system through violent means, i.e., the initiation of physical force, such an ideology moves from the status of "religion" or "ideology" to an active enemy of
civilization.


Shinto is an ancient Japanese religion and did not present a threat to the United States until it received state sponsorship and became part of a nationalist movement which sought global domination and attacked the United States in 1941. Communism actually began as a religious movement in the centuries before Marx secularized it in the 19th century. Even then, it was still not a "threat" until it too received state sponsorship and it's followers made their goal military conquest and global domination. Once an ideology receives state or some form of organized sponsorship and actively seeks to overthrow western governments, it becomes a criminal enterprise. Any offshoot, whether it is actually sympathetic or not to the more radical leadership, is then fair game to be investigated by our government and sympathizers arrested or deported.

Certainly, during World War II, any organization sympathetic to the goals of the Japanese Empire or the Nazi's would have rightly been shut down or arrested by the U.S. government and treated as enemy combatants depending on the extent of their activities. Communism was merely a kooky philosophy until the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 followed by other movements which swept Europe and Asia, i.e., it was not a threat until it found state sponsorship and attained the goal of global domination, threatened our interests, or engaged in either outright or proxy wars with the United States. At that point, communist organizations which espoused this ideology ceased to be protected under the First Amendment, and became an objective threat to the existence of our government.

Many have said that the fact that there is not an obvious state sponsor of Islam and the fact that it seems to have many degrees of radicalism makes it more difficult to identify whom we are to fight.

First, once the proper principles are identified, the task becomes much easier. One needs to ascertain the state sponsors in terms of organization, finances, and training starting with the most radical first. Once these sponsors are crushed, the various offshoots become marginal, just as some random sympathetic Communist, Nazi, or Shinto organizations were neutered once the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, and the Japanese Empire fell. Until the time at which state sponsorship and a global threat is neutralized, anyone identifying themselves with Islam must be regarded with suspicion and there should be an objective legal framework for investigating any ties to more violent organizations as we did with Communists in the 1950's or the Japanese and Nazi's during World War II or British loyalists during the American Revolution. I would make the same argument against Catholics if the Vatican declared its goal to be world domination under the rule of the Pope and Vatican law and were to actively fund and train an army in this effort.

Second, I think the primary state sponsors of totalitarian Islam are obvious. Iran is the heart and soul of this movement followed by Saudi Arabia and Syria. Rather than focus on rogue tribes hiding in the mountains of Afghanistan, we should be confronting the elephant in the room - Iran and its countless financial and military allies which fund, train, and support radical Islamic groups throughout the world. While this occurs, Islamic organizations in the United States should not be treated as a protected "religion," but as sympathizers to America's enemies and since they identify with our legal and objective enemy, the burden of proof must be on them to show that they are not sympathetic or do not in any way directly aid and abet these global sponsors.

Third, because the freedom to speak and practice religion are sacred pillars of the American system, it is vital to objectively define and delimit the government's function as it relates to defense, i.e., define precisely when it is necessary for the state to use force in the protection and furtherance of individual rights. I have no illusion that the current American regime has any ability to fulfill this obligation, and I understand those who are concerned that such powers could be used as a precedent to persecute any political opponent of the state arbitrarily deemed to be "dangerous." I suggest the above as a blueprint precisely because the situation calls for a strictly objective formulation in order to delimit this use of force.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

..."the burden of proof must be on them to show that they are not sympathetic or do not in any way directly aid and abet these global sponsors."

Yes, precisely, but how can we trust them when they employ practices such as Taqiyah:

http://islamicdangerstill.blogspot.com/2009/03/title-islamic-concept-of-al-taqiyah-to.html

an exerpt:

"Al-Taqiyah was a formidable weapon, used by the first dynasties and strategists. Today, scholars may identify it as deception. But the Jihadic deception was and still is more powerful than the James Bondian methods of Western classical intelligence tactics, for the simple reason that it has a civilizational, global dimension versus the narrow State interest of the regular Western subversive
methods.

Al-Taqiyah is still in use today (and is widely practised and acknowledged by the Shi'ite sect) but not necessarily State-organized. Arab-Islamic missionaries are slowly converting the disillusioned criminal classes of the Western world by feeding them a Western "moderate" version of Islam (at the same time denouncing the actions of Muslims in the rest of the world as Un Islamic e.g. Taliban, GIA & FIA [Armed Islamic Front] of Algeria, Hamas, Lashkar -e Toyiba, Bin Laden and company, etc.)

It is done to prevent the new converts from seeing the real face of Islam; at least until their faith or mental conditioning is strong enough to make them turn against their own country and people."

-TM

Doug Reich said...

I agree, and I should stress that I did not mean that we should just ask them whether they are nice or that we ask them at all.

Just as members of communist organizations were considered "subversive" during the Cold War or Nazi's during World War II, anyone identifying with Islam should be regarded this way. What I meant by the "burden of proof is on them" is that the government has a right to investigate these Islamic groups within the U.S. on the grounds that we are at war with Islam, and that they should not expect to be granted the same rights given their choice to associate with a legally defined enemy organization - in other words, the burden is on them given this association, not on the U.S. to have to demonstrate an additional threat to warrant searches or investigations.

Doug Reich said...

i.e., the threat has already been identified, proven, and legally established and so "buyer beware" as it relates to association with such a group

Trevor said...

here is a link to the book:

http://www.amazon.com/Other-Muslims-Moderate-Secular/dp/0230621880/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1282288235&sr=8-1

The last chapter is by Jasser and is entitled Americanism vs Islamism.

Jason said...

No one has actually stated what the likely effect of banning Islam (of arresting and deporting Muslims if they advocate Sharia law) in America would be.

There are two basic potential outcomes.

First scenario: The 2.5 to 7 million Muslim Americans (that number from Wikipedia, and includes such people as Shaq and Dave Chappelle) in general are secret Islamic totalitarians, ready to murder for Islam, and serious about forcefully establishing Sharia law (not just silently approving)--which means the ban of Islam and arrest and deportation of many would likely start a very bloody civil war.

There’s a small possibility that in the future Muslim Americans could eventually revolt anyway in the name of Islamic dictatorship, so a civil war could happen anyway as a result of decades of appeasement of foreign Islamic dictatorships that keeps the ideology of Islamic totalitarianism alive. But encouraging it instead of taking the necessary action (a real war abroad) is nonsensical.

And even if they peacefully gave up Islam, submitted to jail (which if they are secretly awaiting for Iranian orders to stage an attack here would be at complete odds with the picture drawn up of them), or even all decided to go back to the Middle East, Americans would still not be safe from Islamic totalitarianism.

Safety does not work in degrees--either you are or are not. All it takes is a handful of Muslims illegally sneaking in to cause mass destruction, which is why the ideology has to be not only militarily, but intellectually defeated, and many remaining Muslims persuaded they do not need it.

This is not primarily a military issue (though that is a key component of the solution), but an ideological/philosophical one, which leads to the second scenario.

Second scenario: Most Muslim Americans are half-hearted sympathizers, not willing to murder non-believers, and would quickly oppose Islamic totalitarianism (which they have been already in their actions, though not their words, by not using violence) once it was militarily and ideologically defeated abroad at the source.

If this scenario is true, banning Islam is: completely overloading the police with an impossible task (like the war on drugs) by trying to fight evil ideas through law enforcement, using force instead of persuasion to convince Muslims that Islam is bad, trying to legislate ideas, clouding up an important and clear political principle (only the initiation of physical force is banned), and distracting Americans and our government from the only possible solution: real war abroad.

Doug Reich said...

Jason,

I do not disagree with you in general. The most important thing we can do is to identify the enemy and fight it at its source by engaging Iran and the others. The muslims in America (scenario 2) would likely cave and moderate.

I was addressing specifically the issue of the NYC mosque and how to deal with organized Islam in America as a general rule, not as the sole strategy of our foreign policy. Of course, if it were the sole policy, this would be like rounding up Nazi's and Japanese during World War II while leaving Hitler and the Japanese Army untouched. All I am saying is that while a war is being persecuted, it is appropriate to treat sympathizers with suspicion and to grant the government power to search, question, investigate, etc. under the legal premise that they have already been declared an official threat. This would entail understanding the unique nature of Islam coupled with the fact of its previous use of force against us.

The first step in this battle is defeating this multiculturalist or subjectivist premise that no ideology is better than any other which has only emboldened the radicals abroad and hamstrung our own foreign policy. Until we can say that Islam is an enemy of western civilization, this problem will only escalate.

Jason said...

Doug,
Certainly the government should have enormous power (and use it) to monitor, search, and question Muslims and sympathizers, much more than it does now. And if our government actually arrested domestic terrorists and their material supporters here (let's say there are a few hundred or a few thousand major ones), that would do more to push Muslims here towards ideologically separating themselves from Islamic totalitarianism than the impossible police task of arresting and deporting them would.

There are domestic policies (such as the one mentioned above) that would likely result in some defanging of Islam in general in America even before a real war abroad; I just see criminalizing the intellectual support of Islam as counterproductive.

Peoples' freedom to get on TV and say "I support Sharia law" has about as little impact as a billionaire who tries to buy an election through political advertising. If either wins, it's not because of free speech and would have happened anyway. Even today's typical pragmatist uses enough of his intelligence not to be roped in by the allure of Sharia and mosques.

The risk not worth taking is attaching a single string to free speech. That idea, that legitimate symbol of freedom in general, one of the only remaining practiced political/philosophical ideals in America--complete freedom of thought--in the absence of a serious, self-assertive foreign policy, has probably done more to keep Muslim Americans non-violent, to implicitly value freedom, and to set the stage for them to secularize than any other domestic policy has or could have.

Doug Reich said...

Jason,

My broad point is simply that Islam should not be construed as a religion in the constitutional sense and therefore the government should have certain powers with respect to those who sympathize with it. That would mean, for example, that they could take action to prevent the mosque from being built, they could investigate the sources of funding for various mosques and muslim organizations for ties to Iran, they could shut down the schools that are teaching children it is permissible to murder adulterers or Jews (as the link above described), etc.

This is much more than simply preventing someone from speaking on TV. Nor does it mean that everyone has to be rounded up and deported. How it applies depends. Since Islam has in effect declared war on America AND acted in this regard, anyone sympathizing should be open to legal scrutiny.

Such steps are crucial to protecting free speech. Say that the government allowed "free speech" with respect to those who plot murder. Obviously, free speech is meant within a context. The principle does not apply to those who plan to commit acts of violence against others.

In a previous post

http://dougreich.blogspot.com/2008/06/modern-intellectuals-at-gate-part-1.html

I quoted a passage related to the SOTUS "imminence requirement"

"The imminence requirement [set by the US Supreme Court] sets a high hurdle. Mere advocacy of violence, terrorism or the overthrow of the government is not enough; the words must be meant to, and be likely to, produce violence or lawlessness right away. A fiery speech urging an angry racist mob immediately to assault a black man in its midst probably qualifies as incitement under the First Amendment. A magazine article - or any publication -aimed at stirring up racial hatred surely does not."

Here, I don't think we are not talking about incitement in the immediate sense but in the sense of defining or declaring war against an enemy. So, declaring Communist, Nazi, Muslim, etc. organizations to be "subversive" in the context of a declaration of war or some other formal policy of the government should be applicable in this case. How it is applied in every possible circumstance is contextual. It does not imply that every Muslim must immediately be imprisoned. It simply means that those who are sympathetic and who aid and abet should not expect the same treatment legally as one whose ideas are protected by the First Amendment.

Jason said...

Hope you don't mind a few comments.


When I say free speech, I am referring to ideology. I mean that no one can be prosecuted (have their property taken away or be arrested) on the basis of their ideas. Free speech does not mean you can say any words anywhere. It is a political concept protecting you from prosecution on the basis of your ideas.

It keeps all laws and policies, both domestic and foreign, focused on criminal, force-wielding acts, which can include the fiery racist calling for a lynching, a parent making her five year old watch "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" which I think would be a form of psychological, mental abuse (like not teaching your child to read or write), or a parent explicitly telling their child over and over that murder is a virtuous duty on the basis of religion (this last one is debatable; I think it is a crime, but either way my point is that if it is to be made illegal, it is because it is a force-wielding crime towards the child, not because it is intellectually, morally evil).

There are few good quotes by Ayn Rand on the matter. I'm picking out some relevant, select quotes, but encourage anyone interested to buy the books and read the full passages.

"American citizens have freedom of religion; but if some sect attempted to practice human sacrifices, its members would be prosecuted by law--not for their religious beliefs, but for murder; their beliefs would not be considered or recognized as pertinent to the case.”

Ayn Rand, "Journals of Ayn Rand," Pg. 383, softcover, 1947 entry "Suggestions Regarding the Congressional Investigation of Communism"

"There can be no such thing as a political crime under the American system of law. Since an individual has the right to hold and to propagate any ideas he chooses (obviously including political ideas), the government may not infringe his right; it may neither penalize nor reward him for his ideas; it may not take any judicial cognizance whatever of his ideology." From the Ayn Rand Lexicon.

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/crime.html

Jason said...

I'm breaking this comment up into two parts:

Part 1:
Now the more important point. We are at war with foreign criminals, which is an enormously important point that has been sloppily conflated (sometimes by myself even, though I usually provide enough context to make it clear that the criminality is the issue for our government to deal with) with being at war with an ideology, with a set of ideas. We are morally opposed to Islam (which we need to identify as the intellectual cause of the crimes), and should denounce it as evil, but that is not the justification or principle behind why we can and need to militarily crush Iran. We need to fight that war because the Iranian government has been engaged in criminal acts, which include harboring Islamic terrorists, financing Islamic terrorism all across the Middle East, stealing Western companies’ property (i.e., oil), building up arms to potentially attack free countries, holding Americans’ hostage (Iranian Hostage Crisis), and other criminal acts.

There is no difference, abstractly, between domestic and foreign criminals. It is the initiation of force in any form, whether an individual murderer or a defrauder or a theocratic dictatorship, that our government is supposed to concern itself with. If Muslims were not acting on their ideas, and showed no intention of doing so (like most Christians today regarding the Bible’s demand to stone to death women who have pre-marital sex), then our government would not be involved. It is the criminal action (or serious threat of it, which can be determined even if there is no violence so far) that warrants government response.

Jason said...

Part 2:

But there is an even broader point. The idea that Islamic totalitarianism is an immediate, emergency situation that requires principles to be bended (or “contextually” defined away, e.g., “it’s not really censorship if we ban a mosque during war with Islamic totalitarianism”, or “censorship is okay during war”) is to give up on the broader cultural problems. If we shut down the mosque, we should do it for criminal reasons (which will guided by Islam, but criminal grounds nonetheless), not ideological ones.

There is no dichotomy between pursuing short-term national security and long-term political ideals. They are one and the same and need to be treated as such. It is the “we need to first win the war to buy time to persuade people to accept fully rational ideas” mentality that prevents the fully rational, individualistic culture that is necessary for human survival from ever being achieved.

To give up presenting and arguing for the fully idealistic, 100% correct ideas and policies during a “crisis” is to give in to a gradual, tortuous, drawn-out cultural death by a thousand small cuts. The consideration of banning a mosque on ideological grounds because we are at war with Islamic totalitarianism is an example of such giving in. Decent people not yet ready to practice Objectivism see the compromises here and it turns them off. The consistency and rationality of the ideas and policies one advocates during a crisis are just as important, if not more so, as those argued for in “normal” times.

We need to try to get the real war fought even in an imperfect culture, but no matter what happens in terms of foreign policy, present the full, precise policies. If America fights a real war, but shuts down the mosque on ideological grounds, we need to still support the war overall but denounce the mosque policy and present the proper one. In a few, select situations, one should refuse to offer one’s services, like refusing to sign up for the military, if a policy is so bad. But mostly it means always presenting the full ideal even while participating. The same could be said for an Objectivist economist who can only find legitimate work at the Federal Reserve, even in top spots. Accept the job while advocating for the opposite ideas in some forum, but there may be some select instances where you refuse to work in that organization or capacity. (Or perhaps he should make his ideas clear and actively seek such positions: I can think of a lot of says that action could positively influence the culture, such as if made clear his disagreement with a policy he was bound to enact.)

Doug Reich said...

Jason, I fear you are missing my point and this is my last response because my previous speaks for itself.

I specifically stated that criminal actions were necessary and even pointed to examples of cases where a movement wasn't a threat until it obtained state sponsorship or turned criminal - I never said we should criminalize the ideology

how would you handle Nazis setting up shop in world war ii? Once a group becomes an international political and military force, it is no longer a mere ideology

Jason said...

Even if it is your last response, I still want to respond.

Part 1:
Defining the opening of a mosque as criminal because it is done in the name of Islam at a time we are at war with Islamic totalitarianism is to criminalize ideology. (This is instead of closing it because of the owners' material, financial terrorist ties, if there are such ties.)

You have implied and stated that the mosque can be banned because of its' organizers sympathies and association with Islam.

In these comments you said "My broad point is simply that Islam should not be construed as a religion in the constitutional sense and therefore the government should have certain powers with respect to those who sympathize with it. That would mean, for example, that they could take action to prevent the mosque from being built..."

And you said:
"Certainly, during World War II, any organization sympathetic to the goals of the Japanese Empire or the Nazi's would have rightly been shut down or arrested by the U.S. government and treated as enemy combatants depending on the extent of their activities."

That would be criminalizing ideology.

Jason said...

Part 2:
You also said:
"Once an ideology receives state or some form of organized sponsorship and actively seeks to overthrow western governments, it becomes a criminal enterprise. Any offshoot, whether it is actually sympathetic or not to the more radical leadership, is then fair game to be investigated by our government and sympathizers arrested or deported."

This is saying that an individual professing Islam while we are at war with Islamic totalitarianist governments/society can be treated as criminal (not only monitored and questioned more closely, but arrested) on the grounds of ideological/moral support.

The title of your post "Is Islam a Religion?" and the whole focus is putting forth the view that Islam as such can be treated as criminal during a war with political Islam.

If you meant otherwise, you were unclear.

Nazi sympathizers should have been allowed to shout on the rooftops their view of the superiority of the Aryan race and their desire to see national, racist socialism take over America--and should have been denounced and attempted to be persuaded of their irrationality by any semi-rational American. Once they start calling for the deaths of specific Jews (or of Jews in general, within certain contexts, or perhaps within all contexts, depending on how calling for the death of a group of people is legally classified), or are passing military secrets or helpful diplomatic information to the Nazi party in Germany, they may be prosecuted for initiating force, on a criminal, not ideological basis.

Jason said...

Part 3:
Muslim Americans are generally not violent fanatics ready to blow themselves and innocent people up. They are typical pragmatic mystics who brush over the religions' calls for violence. (And if they are generally secret fanatics, there will be a civil war, so no special criminal policies would matter.) Treating sympathizers as criminals does not help, it just creates intellectual confusion.

We are more likely to convince Americans to support a real war if we stick to intellectual, not legal, attacks on Islam and domestic Muslims. Forcefully shutting up domestic Muslims (such as pragmatically shutting down the mosque) would be evidence of our intellectual inadequacy.

Americans' have failed to support a real war not because of domestic Muslims, but because the best advocates of reason, freedom, and a self-interested foreign policy have failed to make a strong enough case.

We need to persuade Americans to take the first serious steps towards loving themselves as individuals. They know the threat of Islamic totalitarianism--they don't value their lives enough or have interests worth living and fighting (and potentially dying) for. Even if Americans can be rushed into fighting a half-hearted real war without the full personal understanding of rational philosophy as guidance, we should still be presenting the fully correct ideas and policies anyway for the purposes of changing the culture.

We need to out-reason confused, scared, selfless, appeasing Americans, not forcefully shut domestic Muslims up.

Doug Reich said...

With regard to most of your argument, I feel like I would be repeating what I have already said several times. One point I will respond to because I found it is most essential was when you said (during World War II):

"Nazi sympathizers should have been allowed to shout on the rooftops their view..."

I agree that ideology per se is not criminal but must be accompanied by an immediate threat. The context you are dropping, in this example, is the context of war. A war is a state in which a group or nation is in armed conflict with another. The other side has already been established as a threat by virtue of its actions. Therefore, anyone or any group that proclaims allegiance or aid's and abets, recruits members, etc. is acting in a violent way by aiding and abetting the enemy even if they are not literally shooting guns or executing people in the moment.

When we invaded Japan or Germany, would you have said that each individual Nazi or Japanese had to be found "guilty" of some specific action before we could invade and only strike at those whom we had procured direct evidence of their crimes? Of course, when enaged in a "war", it is appropriate and necessary to strike at anyone allied in the effort against you.

My point is that the Islamist movement has become equivalent to the Nazi's (in this analogy) based on their actions.

Also, like Nazism, the underlying philosophy of Islam appears to be inseparable from acts of violence as the ideology itself calls for murder of infidels, adulterers, Jews, etc.. If an ideology was not so entwined with this kind of incitement, it would be easier to conclude that a rogue group had "hijacked" it and that the rogues were not to be regarded as the movement in the context of an armed conflict.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

madmax said...

Nazi sympathizers should have been allowed to shout on the rooftops their view...

This is wrong. If Bob is beating up Jack in an attempted robbery and Greg is cheering on Bob, then Jack is perfectly justified in retaliating against both Bob and Greg. This applies to the above quote. The Nazi sympathizers would have been in the same position as Greg; they would NOT have been innocent. Today's Sharia-sympathizing Muslims are also in the same position as Greg!! Thus, they too can not claim to be innocent. That is why the GZ Mosque should be shut down; aiding and abetting the war effort against America and the West. Jason's approach seems rationalistic to me.

Also, like Nazism, the underlying philosophy of Islam appears to be inseparable from acts of violence as the ideology itself calls for murder of infidels, adulterers, Jews, etc..

This is well stated and it is the MAIN problem in all this. Islam has built within it a perpetual solicitation to commit murder against infidels. It is thus very difficult to siphon out the Jihadist Muslims from the peaceful ones. That is why extra scrutiny should be applied to Islam and to Muslims.

Doug Reich said...

Mad,

Thanks, I think that is a great analogy.

Doug