Wednesday, October 04, 2006

My Good Friend Liberalism, Where Have You Gone?

It's been a while since my last blog that was worthwhile, so I'll try to make this one good. The issue at hand is religion mixed with a little bit of political perspective. I received the inspiration for this blog after having read one of Sam Harris's latest articles. Oh and one last thing, I'll most likely be following up this blog with another which will regard religion from a historical perspective and some distinctions within atheist belief. Anyway let's get down to business on Sam Harris.

The Sam Harris article I read was entitled "Head-in-the-Sand Liberals," which is basically his critique of liberalism specifically in America going astray when it comes to dealing with terrorism and the future of our world. Now, considering that I consider myself a liberal, just as I consider Mr. Harris a liberal, I was to say the least taken aback by such an article. In a way, I was exactly the kind of liberal Harris was addressing. After stewing over the article an examining some of it's finer points I've come to realize that Harris is, for the most part, speaking truth. He condemns liberals for their lack of understanding the "war on terror" as really being a war with extremist Muslims. This is in fact an accurate if not precise description of what our supposed "war on terror" really is. I take this not as an attack of Arab peoples, but as an attack on the religious culture, which is exactly what it is. What exactly are we fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and perhaps soon to be Iran. Are we fighting these countries because of their ethnicity? Of course we aren't considering there is nothing inherently violent or "bad" based upon race; to say otherwise is ridiculous. Are we fighting in order to instill democratic rule and thereby bring peace these people? If we were all about democratic rule we would have allowed Hamas to stay in power after they were elected democratically, rather than refusing to acknowledge them. Speaking of violence and peace in the Middle East, why does it even exist? Perhaps because of a political disagreement? I've seen no evidence to support that, though if you have evidence to prove me wrong let me know. No, it's not over some political ideology; it's over their fucking religions. The "insurgents," for the most part serve under radical clerics and other tribal religious extremists. So yes, this is in fact a war on radical Islam.

The next point Harris raises is where this Muslim extremism is coming from. The traditional stance of liberals is that it's from lack of both economic opportunity and education. I staunchly disagreed with this until I started looking into it; examining studies regarding it. The fact is that many of the Muslim terrorists are young, enthusiastic, upwardly mobile, with a science and engineering background, as well as cohesive families, this according to a 1980 study on Islamists in Egyptian jails. However, on that same note I understand that there has been a sudden surge in radical Islam, which can't really be explained without some factor other than the Qur'an. As Robert Scheer mentioned in a recent interview, these people didn't all of a sudden start reading their Qur'an and deicide Jihad was the proper way to go about things. But if that isn't the case, there must be something else. Perhaps in our current day, poverty does play a larger role. Maybe American militarism is part of the problem. For me, I don't really know for sure and to Sam Harris's discredit he offers absolutely no insight on this matter. However, while I think this is an important issue that should be further examined, after all, getting at the root of the problem is perhaps the best way to go about solving it, at the same time I feel this is moot. The fact that these "terrorists" ride under the banner of religious extremism is enough for me to condemn the religion in its entirety. Those Muslim's not associated with the Islamist factions attain no benefit which is unattainable otherwise, without religion as a crutch.

Moving on, the real and only issue Harris raises that I flat out disagree with has got to be this topic of morality, which he examines based on a nation to nation basis. In his article, Sam brings to light the issue of Palestinian organization's use of human shields, willingness to kill non combatants and genocidal dialogue regarding their political discourse, eventually stating that, "Given these distinctions, there is no question that the Israelis now hold the moral high ground in their conflict with Hamas and Hezbollah." All of the United States and Israeli political bullying, de facto murder of noncombatant's, failure of precision missiles to strike their proper targets, use of torture, use of cluster bombs indiscriminately in Lebanese neighborhoods, all of it justified upon the supposed moral high ground according to Harris. I'm not going to get into throwing appraise, much of which is deserved, onto Hezbollah and Hamas simply because there is no moral high ground here. I acknowledge that suicide bombing is hardly morally superior to any of the things which I mentioned regarding the US and Israel, but I refuse to get into a battle of better of two evils. As far as I'm concerned, there is no moral high ground on this issue, so don't even try to use it to justify anything you say, Mr. Harris. There is ample ground for you to stand on and still make your case without using morality in a war that has, to say the least, blurred morality.

So the basic concept of what Harris is getting at still stands. Liberalism has gone awry, meandering straight down the middle of the road, trying its best not to piss off anyone in particular, while at the same time offering little in response to the grievances aimed at the current state of affairs in Washington.

So concludes my second blog on anything of importance. I would appreciate any comments you have not only in regard to the ideas presented here, but also, perhaps as a side note, your evaluation of the structure, mechanics, etc of this blog. Hopefully that will let me prepare a better blog when I do my next one on religion within the next week. Admittedly, I was less pleased with this blog than I had hoped to be, but I hope you still enjoyed it.