Sunday, November 15, 2015

Enlightenment Values

I apologize in advance for the length and dryness of the following, but after the events of this weekend, I felt it had to be said.

I've been reading a number of commentaries on the attacks in Paris on Friday night. A couple of them referred to "enlightenment values" as being something we are, or should be, defending against this kind of barbarism. This is an underlying theme of this blog, though it may not always be evident. The Music Salon is an advocate of reasoned argument, free speech, Western civilization, English common law and that whole panoply of things sometimes called Western Civilization.

We are, therefore, opposed to those elements in the contemporary university that chant things like "Western Civ has got to go!" For one thing, classical music is an integral part of "Western Civ" and the appreciation and promotion of classical music is our main priority. But we take a broader view than that even. Another project or interest here is philosophy, the repository of wisdom in the West (meaning Europe and the New World). Not to say that there are not fonts of wisdom elsewhere, such as in Chinese and Indian philosophy, but they are not as central to the intellectual and cultural tradition that I feel part of: Western Civilization.

I have commented in the past that in some ways my favorite century for music is the 18th century that began with the spectacular and rich music of people like Vivaldi and Bach and ended with the astonishing brilliance, grace and power of the music of people like Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. It was also a century in which so much was written of profound and civilized wisdom. This included things like Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1755, Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, David Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature, published in 1739, Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, published between 1776 and 1789, and a host of other writings and discoveries in nearly every field of human endeavor including, especially science, politics and economics.

It is perhaps the case that that aspect of the Enlightenment that critiqued religion has been the most problematic as there are those who might trace some of our current difficulties to the loss of a religious sense or spirit in society, but that is not my feeling. It is certainly the case, however, that the enlightenment did offer a critique of religion and some aspects, such as Hume's critique of miracles and Gibbon's of the role of Christianity in the decline of the Roman Empire, were telling. But philosophy and religion have long had an awkward relationship going right back to Plato's first Socratic dialogue, the Euthyphro which poses the very difficult question, do the gods condemn murder because it is wrong, or is murder wrong because the gods condemn it?

In some senses the Enlightenment, like the earlier Renaissance, consisted in part of the rediscovery of certain aspects of philosophy and culture that originated with the ancient Greeks. The power and role of reason is a crucial one, of course, but so were the literary genres of epic and lyric poetry, tragedy and comedy and, of course, philosophy and history. It can never be emphasized enough that all these, and including things like ethics, aesthetics, political science, music theory and many other disciplines were all, all, invented or discovered by the Greeks. Aristotle's six treatises on logic went unchallenged for over two thousand years until other forms of logic were discovered in the late 19th century.

In one particularly ironic historic event, the invention of opera in Florence around 1600 was an attempt to recreate the use of music to accompany tragic drama as was done in ancient Greece. They had to invent something entirely new because while we have the texts to the Greek tragedies, the music has been lost.

All this is to underline that while there have been many dislocating and alienating trends in art and culture in the last century or so, the foundations of Western Civilization are still those that I catalogue above. The various heresies and totalitarianisms of the 20th century were in fact defeated, even though their mutated offspring seem to continue to pop up now and again.

The long rival and opposition to Western Civilization is Oriental Despotism and by "long" I mean that it goes back to the Greco-Persian Wars of the 5th century BC. If the hugely outnumbered Greeks had not won those wars, Western Civilization might never have come to be, certainly not in its present form. The successor to Persia, as far as competition with the West is concerned, was and is Islam and we have been at war with various forms of Islam since the 8th century AD. One crucial moment was a battle fought in 732 in Poitiers in southern France where the Muslim army was beaten by Charles Martel, halting the conquest of Western Europe. Another crucial moment was the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 when the Ottoman fleet was defeated by the Holy League, a coalition of maritime Catholic states. Yet another was the Battle of Vienna in 1683 when the imperial city of Vienna was besieged for two months by the Ottoman Empire.

Turkish or Ottoman music appeared in pieces by Mozart and Beethoven for some time after.

The point of mentioning this dusty history is that Europe was under existential threat from various entities of Islam for nearly a thousand years, between the 8th century and the 17th century. Spain was partly a possession of Islam until 1492. The Balkans were possessions of the Ottoman Empire until late in the 19th century and not completely free until after the First World War.

Between 1683 and the 1970s, Islam, at least as an aggressive, invading force, was largely moribund. But the huge oil revenues that came to the Middle East after the Second World War and a revival of radical Islam, one example of which was the Iranian Revolution of 1979 which brought to power the Ayatollah Khomeini, has seen a revival of Islamic aggression. Since then, various radical factions such as al-Qaeda and ISIS have began a new terrorist champaign against the West.

Unfortunately their campaign against Western Civilization seems to be aided and abetted by trends within our culture that both weaken and dilute the moral and cultural authority of Western Civilization and empathize with Islam, members of whom are perceived as being "oppressed". Well, sure they are, but not by us. No, indeed, it is Islam itself that oppresses its own people.

But it is not our responsibility to free them from its yoke. No indeed. Our duty and plain and simple self-interest is to protect Western Civilization and Enlightenment values from being attacked, destroyed, eroded or diluted by forces from without or from within.

Ask any citizen of Paris this morning.

The obvious envoi for this post is Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio:


Christine Lacroix said...

Let's not lump all Muslims together Bryan and make it them versus us...

"One CIA estimate puts ISIS' total manpower at 31,500, about one-third the capacity of Rose Bowl stadium, or roughly, 0.0019% of the world's total Muslim population when rounding down to 1.6 billion. The idea that the remaining 1,599,965,000 Muslims ought to jump on Twitter and condemn ISIS isn't just silly, it's a definition of prejudice. But here we are. Another attack, another round of people calling on moderate Muslims to condemn something they had nothing to do with......Nevertheless, Muslims from around the world are making it clear ISIS does not represent their values. Iranian president Hassan Rouhani denounced the attacks, postponing his trip to Europe to renew peace talks on the Syrian conflict. Iran and Iran-backed Hezbollah fight ISIS and other extremists in Syria (as well as non-Salafists). The day before the Paris attacks, militants claiming allegiance to ISIS bombed a civilian area of Beirut in an effort to undermine Hezbollah's support there.

Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, the president of Indonesia, the largest Muslim country on earth, roundly condemned the attacks, telling reporters, "Indonesia condemns the violence that took place in Paris." In a now-viral video on YouTube, a Moroccan man expressed his condolences to the victims, saying, "These so-called jihadists only represent themselves."...."Arab states Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Egypt have all condemned the attacks, though it should be noted, the unelected rulers who run the Saudi Kingdom and Qatar have routinely funded and armed jihadists in Syria.

The largest Muslim group in the United States, CAIR, quickly condemned the attacks, insisting, "These savage and despicable attacks on civilians, whether they occur in Paris, Beirut or any other city, are outrageous and without justification." The US Council of Muslim Organizations released a statement also condemning the attack.

Thousands more Muslims took to Twitter to express sorrow, solidarity and solace...."
Read the whole article here....

Bryan Townsend said...

Well, yes, lumping a bunch of individuals together would violate some sound Enlightenment values, indeed. Which is not actually what I did. What I did do was describe a long history of conflict between the culture of Islam and the culture of the West and mention two radical factions that are, on their own testimony, pursuing a campaign against the West. And part of that is an utter disregard for innocent individuals. So they are certainly lumping all members of Western Civilization together as their enemy.

There are other surveys that tell us that a large minority of Muslims sympathize with the London bombers (20%), support suicide attacks (31%), think that the wanton killing of Jews is justified (32%) and so on. Those numbers are for Muslims in Britain, Turkey and Palestinians. The source is here, which has all the links:

But whatever the numbers are, it does not directly counter my argument which is that the culture and practices of Islam are, and always have been, opposed to the culture and practices of the West. Individuals in both cultures may or may not share the general values of the culture.

Christine Lacroix said...

Checked out the link. This poll numbers are pretty scary. Check this out:

Bryan Townsend said...

Woo-hoo, that is quite a good clip. Another hero of mine is Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Anonymous said...

While I share much of the sentiment expressed in this post, it is disingenuous to omit all mention of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which led to the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens and the displacement of millions.

Shock-and-Awe alone is estimated to have killed over 3,000 civilians. How does that square with Western enlightenment in your book?

How does the full-throated support by the West of the barbaric salafi regime of the Gulf States square with our values?

Or shall we be honest and admit that making a buck is a value we, in the West, prize more than human rights and democracy?

This is not to excuse the bastards who struck in Paris. They're low-life scum who deserve no mercy. That hardly makes us angels, however. Fact is, Westerners have killed vastly more innocent Arabs than Arabs have killed Westerners. Not even close.
Must not Western civilization account for that, too?

Bryan Townsend said...

There are a multitude of things I didn't mention, but that was because they were not germane to my argument. And this does not answer my argument either. My argument does not depend on statistics, nor can it be countered with statistics. Millions of innocents have died at the hands of many guilty people. But that is hardly the question. To be perfectly clear, hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed in allied bombing campaigns in WWII. Does this mean that you think that WWII should not have been fought? This is precisely the kind of confused attitude that is the reason why the West is losing this phase of the war.

And I would love for you to actually prove that Westerners have killed more innocent Arabs than vice versa. Don't forget to add up all the deaths from the 8th century to now.

Nathan Shirley said...

Bryan, I hate to have to make this request, but could you take my quote off your blog's homepage? Don't get me wrong, I still stand by what I wrote, but I don't want anyone assuming I share all your political views. As far as I've found, your blog is second to none when it comes to music, but I cringe whenever it strays off that avenue. Of course it's your blog to write anything you please -- I can always appreciate it for its main topic.

Or perhaps the quote could be tempered with something like "politics aside..." -- your call.

Christine Lacroix said...

Hello Nathan

Yes, it would be nice if we could stick to music on this blog. But why do you worry about what other people think of you? If they are worth anything to you they won't judge you, and if they judge you negatively you're well rid of them. No? Unless you're a celebrity and protecting your image?

Bryan Townsend said...

Nathan, you are entirely within your rights to make this request, of course and, as soon as I can recall how to access those quotes, I will remove yours. But I am puzzled as to your stance. Do you disagree with my political points? Do I have my facts wrong? Or is the interpretation of them at fault? Or do you just want the blog to stick to purely musical topics?

From the beginning I drew the boundaries broadly, including classical music, popular culture, philosophy and leaving the door open to other topics. If there was an attack on the Vienna opera during a performance of the Abduction from the Seraglio and the claim was made that it was because it disrespected Islam, this would seem to be something that this blog would comment on. Would you not countenance that either?

I am just curious.

Nathan Shirley said...


I simply don't want people to think I'm endorsing the political view points which often come up here. As a composer and musician I try to separate my work from politics, I just feel that art and politics don't mix.

Your writing on music is always excellent Bryan. Whether I agree or not, you always seem to do a nice job of backing up your position and remaining fairly objective. I don't feel the same way when the blog dips into politics.

As an American who grew up in the south, my world view and take on human nature has certainly been shaped by my environment. The United States is filled with bigotry, much of it is carried over from its past with slavery, but it also includes Native Americans and the general hypocrisy of the persecuted Puritans turning into persecuters themselves.

It hasn't been that long since blacks and women were barred from voting. It wasn't until the late 60's that interracial marriage became legal, and even though they couldn't enforce it, Alabama still had a law blocking interracial marriage until the year 2000 -- and even then the law was only defeated by a majority of 60%!

Bigotry is alive and well, despite laws against it. Gay marriage has only just been approved, yet some states are still kicking endorsementng about it. These laws help, and help a lot, but changing people's atitudes takes much longer.

Affirmative action seems to come up fairly often here, and while it's far from a perfect fix, it's certainly better than nothing... at least in the US.

I think my own childhood has made me much more sensitive about rascim, sexisim, etc. I've witnessed racism in Europe as well, but it's often veiled in a less aggressive tone, which I think is why a lot of people turn a blind eye to it.

So these seemingly innocent posts that slip into mini rants against Islam (with some serious generalizations I might add), or about sexism not being an issue, or about government regulation being usually a bad thing, or the same about socialism, or doubting the science on global warming... These are all very complex subjects without black and white answers, and being an American I see politicians, particularly in the south who hold very similar positions as you on most of these subjects. Now I don't think you are anything close to a bigot, but these people here sure are! So no, I don't want anyone getting the misconception that I endorse these things. I also understand that conservative politics in most other countries is very different from conservative politics in the US. So being Canadian I give you the benefit of the doubt!

Anyway, I love the MUSIC blog, and it's yours to write as you like. I personally just hate mixing politics and music. I love a good music debate, and we've had many, but I don't have the time for political debates, which I feel I almost need to have every time I see my name on the blog (just to clarify my endorsement).

I'd be glad for you to keep it up with a small addition, "I challenge anyone to find a better music (but not political) blog on the Internet!" or something like that! Anyway, that's up to you of course.

I'll still enjoy your blog as much as ever. So hope you don't take any offense.

Christine Lacroix said...

Hello Nathan
Thanks for answering me and I understand your position. As I get older I find I don't have as much energy to worry about what other people think I'm endorsing or not endorsing. Maybe I should make an effort! I don't know if art and politics mix, but like you I don't get any pleasure from the politics on this great music blog!

Bryan Townsend said...

Nathan, I appreciate your position and dislike of mixing art and politics which, ironically, is one of the reasons I have occasionally written about the collision of art and politics. When I see people at a rock concert in Paris being slaughtered for political reasons I want to speak up and say this is wrong. Though on a lower level I want to speak up in defense of music when the Gibson guitar factory is raided and materials confiscated for what also seem to me to be transparently political motives. I hope that in doing so I am not acting the bigot, but defending musicians and the practice of music from bigotry. Socialism, government regulation and climate change are, as you say, complex issues, but I hope that I don't ever approach them in a black and white way. I mention them as what I consider a public service. I had a philosophy professor long ago who would occasionally preface a class with what he called public service announcements that were just general observations about matters of public interest. I sometimes do the same.

I am going to put up a post about the general question of the independence of art, i.e. music, from the world but also considering the influence music can have on the world and vice versa.

One little observation: Tuesday I put up a post on a purely musical topic, Manuel de Falla's Siete Canciones populares EspaƱolas. This is what you say you want me to stick to. But that post has seen only 29 page views and NO comments. This post, Enlightenment Values, has seen 94 page views of this moment and this is the twelfth comment! So which one seems to be of greater interest?

Nathan Shirley said...

Sure, politics and art can certainly collide, which is often of interest. In the case of Paris, music was not the target -- simply a crowded area (as far as I know anyway). But because political issues are almost always extremely complex, with extremely high stakes, it's really impossible not to present causal arguments as black and white... which might be part of the problem of a music blog periodically dipping into politics. Here's an analogy you might like: It's kind of like psychologists periodically trying to explain music.

If you put up a post about Hitler being your idol, it might get a lot of page views too. One trend on your blog is discussing how the masses tend to like bad pop music, whereas classical music is often overlooked by most. As always, sex, bad music, and controversy sell... and increase page views!

But like I said, I'm really not trying to get you to change your blog in anyway. The problem was simply my own.

john ward said...

I find it funny that mentioning history in reference to groups like isis is considered hate speech, but generalizing, even demonizing white males is perfectly ok, actually encouraged.

So history is bigoted?

Thanks Bryan for your blog, I found it recently, and always find something interesting.

Fyi, I found your article about the songwriting process specifically in reference to Dylan as my introduction to the blog.

john ward said...

I find it funny that mentioning history in reference to groups like isis is considered hate speech, but generalizing, even demonizing white males is perfectly ok, actually encouraged.

So history is bigoted?

Thanks Bryan for your blog, I found it recently, and always find something interesting.

Fyi, I found your article about the songwriting process specifically in reference to Dylan as my introduction to the blog.

Bryan Townsend said...

Thanks, John. Well yes, I find there is an excessive fastidiousness sometimes surrounding discussion of the problem of terrorism.

That Dylan post has gotten a bit of attention. Being a composer myself, I find there is very little of interest written about the compositional process, so I try to make a contribution.

Christine Lacroix said...

Hello John, A question, I don't remember seeing any reference to hate speech. Was it on this thread? Thanks!

Bryan Townsend said...

John seems to have left the building. No, there were no references to or accusations of hate speech on this thread.

Nathan Shirley said...

Not sure what you are referring to John, I can only assume it wasn't a response to me since I made no such statements.

My request seems to have triggered some confusion. Let me see if I can clarify:

The prominent music blogs of Alex Ross and Norman Lebrecht I find far inferior to The Music Salon. The main reason is because they lack the depth that Bryan's writing on music often has. The Music Salon does an excellent job of really digging in and exploring great music and trying to figure out just what makes it tick (and it doesn't shy away from a good musical debate).

Alex's blog usually bores me, spending a lot of time devoted to topics surrounding music, but rarely diving into music itself. He also brings up politics a lot... again skirting the subject of the blog -- music.

Norman's blog is more of a classical music tabloid. What singer died, what some conductor said, who the latest pianist to wear a mini skirt is... etc (it's a classical music tabloid, so nothing too shocking!). And like Alex, Norman brings up a lot of political issues that may or may not have a direct connection to classical music.

Now personally my own politics are likely much closer aligned to Norman's and Alex's, but I could care less, after all these are supposed to be music blogs, their politics usually just serve as yet more non-musical content. Politically I do think they go a bit far in some cases, as Bryan has pointed out before, classical musicians and audiences tend to be much less likely to discriminate than most social groups (for lack of a better term). But again, I didn't visit these blogs to ponder politics.

Neither of those blogs usually offer much depth on the music itself... which of course is where Bryan's blog shines.

If The Music Salon were to occasionally put up posts about pop music and politics, I could simply skip past those (though I should say occasionally the pop music posts are quite interesting). It might just be me, but it seems like politics have been increasing on this blog. So when something goes up that is extremely politically charged, and I see my name on the side where it might be taken as a blanket endorsement, it makes me uncomfortable.

This post is an example.

The entire post builds up this history of Islam always being at war with Western civilization and enlightenment values. Almost as though that is Islam's sole purpose (I know you didn't actually say that). I'm not suggesting the events in this history are wrong, I'm simply saying it paints a very one sided, very black and white picture.

Now this is going to get political, something I was trying to avoid, but...

Nathan Shirley said...


The main problem I have with this post is at the end. First, it's important to note that the Iranian Revolution was a direct result of the CIA's coup which overthrew the democratically elected Mohammad Mosaddegh (someone who followed enlightenment values much closer than the corrupt Shah (Emperor) the CIA helped put in power).

Second, Al Qaeda and Isis are not at all representative of Islam. Not only that, it isn't correct to suggest they are products of Islam. These extremist groups were created by the United States. The current mess in the Middle East stems from the Cold War, and is largely due to the actions the US took in its fear that the Soviet Union would spread communism to the region. The US backed Osama bin Laden, armed him, gave him money, all to fight the Soviets. Just like in Iran, this plan eventually backfired. The US basically created Saddam Hussein too, and systematically made terrible decisions over and over again. It is this that gave rise to ISIS, and ultimately led to the deaths in Paris, not to mention so very many in the Middle East (likely in the millions by now).

No, this is not the fault of Islam, this is the fault of Western civilization. And Western civilization has most certainly not followed enlightenment values throughout its history. Not during the Crusades, not during the Inquisition, not during Imperialism or slavery. Western civilization has given birth to a countless number of great things, including classical music, but just like any civilization, it has also had many dark moments. Its influence in the Middle East during modern history is one of the darkest (even if intentions might have sometime been good).

This statement disturbs me most: "No, indeed, it is Islam itself that oppresses its own people."

I don't know if this was intended to be such a gross generalization, but it certainly comes off that way. Muslims living in the Middle East make up a small percentage of Muslims worldwide. And of those in the Middle East, the vast majority are strongly opposed to ISIS. By the way, that "TheReligionOfPeace" link you posted contains a lot of very dubious looking citations and the site itself is pretty much the definition of bigotism.

To blame Islam for ISIS is like blaming Christianity for the Nazis, or Christianity for the KKK. Totally ludicrous.

Also, this is the 21st century. Most people around the globe live in a very culturally unified way -- In a very Western way. As I believe you mentioned elsewhere, Western civilization has had a huge impact in Asia, it also has in the Muslim world (which by the way, the majority of Muslims live in Asia). Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews and atheists by and large all live in a very modern world, sharing a culture much more closely now than ever.

It's not that I always disagree with your politics Bryan. I also think every now and then it even makes sense for this music blog to bring up politics. Whether I'm right or wrong, I occasionally find a statement that I not only disagree with politically, but I also find completely misguided. No time to point them all out, which is why I didn't want people to get the wrong idea about my endorsement.

I hope that massive amount of text clarifies my position. Whether or not you agree with the politics!

Bryan Townsend said...

One of the Enlightenment values that this blog holds particularly dear is that of free and open debate and I think that Nathan has just offered another example of its worth. Just for an example, he mentions that the blog does not shy away from a good musical debate. This might refer to a discussion we had quite some time ago about the music of Prokofiev where Nathan managed to convince me that he was a far better composer than I had envisioned.

Nathan, your description of the various music blogs is interesting and not just because it approves of my approach. I think that mentions of politics are still pretty rare here, but I have to confess, I haven't added them up. But they may have increased recently due to what seems to be a kind of multi-layered crisis in Europe and the Middle East.

Yes, these comments do clarify your position, which contributes greatly to the debate. It seems as if we disagree on a number of things, which is as it should be. Frankly, a debate where everyone agrees is pretty much a waste of time.

Politics and history together are enormously complicated. Just as a tiny example, one of the books I have read on the Middle East is Bernard Lewis' "The Middle East: a Brief History of the Last 2000 Years."

I'm not sure I can agree with a number of the points you have made about how the extremist groups in the Middle East were actually the creation of the US, though that would be a whole complex discussion in itself.

But I do think that a general tendency in your position is to take away agency from Islam. I think that the people that would disagree most vehemently with your comment that ISIS and al-Qaeda are not products of Islam would be ISIS and al-Qaeda themselves. They certainly claim to be, not only Islamic, but much more authentically Islamic than those secularly compromised rulers of the Gulf emirates, the Saudis and the elected government of Turkey, for example.

You particularly disliked my comment about Islam oppressing its own people. But if you look at the position of women in traditionally Islamic societies, this is hard to deny, is it not?

Let us at least give the followers of Islam credit for believing what they say that they believe.

Nathan Shirley said...

"I think that the people that would disagree most vehemently with your comment that ISIS and al-Qaeda are not products of Islam would be ISIS and al-Qaeda themselves."

Very likely -- as would members of the KKK disagree if I were to suggest that the KKK was not a product of Christianity. But that is a common thread between extremist religious groups regardless of which religion they happen to claim allegiance to.

Now I find your comment on Saudi Arabia and Turkey a bit odd. These two countries are vastly different, Turkey is far more socially progressive than Saudi Arabia. Turkey for example has elected a woman as head of state (so far the US has not). 8 Muslim countries in fact have chosen female leaders. Saudi Arabia on the other hand is one of the most extremist countries in the Middle East, with regular beheadings and sever discrimination against women. Not only that, there is likely more support for ISIS in Saudi Arabia than any other country in the world... and yet Saudi Arabia is one of the United States' closest allies (Osama bin Laden was Saudi). Go figure.

"But if you look at the position of women in traditionally Islamic societies, this is hard to deny, is it not?"

Again, a gross generalization. This is certainly true in Saudi Arabia (again a country that the US supports strongly) and Iran (for the very fact that the CIA organized the coup I mentioned earlier -- this is no conspiracy theory, the CIA documents have been declassified). But look at Turkey, or Indonesian, Malaysia, Bangladesh, etc -- these countries don't have this problem. Nearly 1/4 of all humans on this planet are Muslims! Let's not forget this. I grew up with quite a few Muslims, and as an adult I know many more. Some wore or wear Hijabs. Are any of them oppressed? Not at all.

Christians have had a violent and barbaric history too. And today there are Christian majority countries where extreme discrimination against women still occurs on a regular basis (Ethiopia is an example). Is this the fault of Christianity?

Violent people will always find reasons to justify their violence.

But again, unlike musical debates, I don't enjoy these political debates and simply don't have time to continue this one -- hence my request. But I think I made my point!

Now, I'll enjoy that post on Manuel de Falla, one of my favorites!

Bryan Townsend said...

Very occasionally Blogger has a glitch where a comment gets sent to me, but for some unknown reason does not appear on the blog. That was just the case for a comment from John Ward. I paste it below exactly as it appeared:

I guess hate speech may have been a bit strong for what was said previously in this comment thread, though I do find it a bit dis Engenuous to act as if the word is not appropriate if you live in a western society, and not under a rock. We could argue semantics forever!

Saying Isis is not islamic is ridiculous, they are following their prophet's example fairly well I would say.

Yes the US armed these groups, yes Iraq was based on blatant lies. Etc.... I have seen McCain's picture with Isis.Not too surprised he was a coward in Vietnam, everytime he is mentioned as a war hero is a disgrace.

Yes the US govt is run by special interests ($$$).

The simple fact is fundamentalist islam and a free society cannot exist together.

Just a reminder I love you all, and enjoy very much your existence!

A little personal story;

I live in a very multi cultural area of the US, we accept EVERYONE, from my experience though, many muslims do not accept us.

I was 13 or 14 when 911 happened. One of my friends was named Hassan,and kids say the darndest things dont they?

He and his older brother at the time went on their my space accounts agreeing with the reasoning of the attacks. The accounts were promptly deleted and to my knowledge they didnt say anything similar again. What do you think was being taught to those two behind closed doors? If you read the book you are little more than an animal to these people. You bring up slavery, that was eradicated over 100 years ago. Yes i agree racism and bigotry is alive and well, and slavery too! Alive and well in Qatar, and others.

To not discuss issues in the world is a form of totalitarianism, and a sign of the erosion of our ideals of freedom and free speech. To disagree is fine, to be tolerant is a two way street.

I guess that is why i felt the need to comment, as a lurker of these internet communities. Wanting to take your quote off of a man's webbsite for him having an opinion different from yours is the epitomy of the slow death of enlightenment ideals the article was about. Just my opinion anyway.

Thanks again you all, I enjoy reading your discussions.
Sorry for any strange things in the text, typing on a tablet.

Bryan Townsend said...

Yes, I agree, our musical debates are much more fun. And I am glad we had this particular debate. But perhaps it is time to wind it up. Please feel free to have the last word if you wish. I won't answer any specifics in your latest, Nathan, but I would like to make a general observation. Your view is one that is widely shared and probably dominates much public discussion. I think that it is based on a fine liberal belief that all religions, Islam and Christianity included, have good and bad qualities in equal measure. This idea of multicultural equality is very fundamental to a progressive world view. But the problem is, if we wake up tomorrow morning to another terrorist attack, you and I both know that it won't have been done by the Amish, or Tibetan Buddhists, or Lutherans or Sikhs (though there was a tiny amount of Sikh terrorism in Canada several decades ago). No, we know perfectly well that it will have been from people shouting allahu akbar. We know this because that was the case with the last fifty or one hundred terrorist attacks. The history of Islam vs Christianity is very different and reveals the radical difference of the two religions.

Nathan Shirley said...

There's plenty of non-Islamic terrorism going on, look at Scandinavia, look at the US. School shootings are a regular occurrence here in the US... I can't recall a single one perpetrated in the name of Allah.

Actually I don't think all religions are equal. But all extremist forms of any religion are much more equal to each other than say liberal Christianity is to moderate Christianity.

I think Buddism is generally superior to Christianity for example. And for that matter, my own religion is far superior to any of the others! Come on, Jesus, the son of God, who sits up in heaven judging everyone?! Silly nonsense! But hey, if you want to believe that, or anything else, I've got no problem with it, that's your business.

How's that for a last word?

Christine Lacroix said...

Yes, Nathan, the worst terrorist attack in Norway was homegrown and politically, not religiously, motivated. But guess what? Nothing you say will change Bryan's mind and nothing he says will change yours. That should be the last word!

Bryan Townsend said...

I hesitate to take away the excellent last-wordiness of your comments, I really do! It was an excellent end to the discussion. And by the way, I respect everyone's views here and the cordiality of the discussion.

But it is rather odd, isn't it? After all, we have many discussions about music and opinions are often changed, are they not? I know mine are. My views on music are in state of constant flux or evolution. But why is it so different with a political issue? Is it simply because it is so very complex? Both Nathan and I pick and choose from an immense amount of data and I think we both argue in good faith. But we find one another unconvincing. Odd.

Christine Lacroix said...

You must have noticed how futile political discussions can seem, especially when they are with people from opposite ends of the spectrum. Perhaps having liberal or conservative tendencies comes from something deeply rooted in our temperaments more than our intellects, and temperament doesn't change with discussion. When discussing politics people are consolidating their fortress and accumulating ammunition to defend their point of view. So the more they discuss, the more supporting 'facts' they find and the more convinced they are of their own position. I think we gravitate to information that comforts us which explains why we have our favorite sources, websites etc. You seem to like that Prager University website which appears to be a sort of conservative think tank. Liberals have other preferred websites. A friend used to say that nothing is more irritating than other people's taste. I'd add to that that nothing is more irritating than other people's political views!
This article sheds some light on why people don't change their minds:

Bryan Townsend said...

Yes, there is a severe polarization of political opinion these days--among the populace if not the politicians themselves. But I'm not sure that people's positions are as fixed as you imply. I have traveled across the political spectrum from one end to the other in my life.

No, I'm not a regular of the Prager website. The only contact I have had is the couple of clips I have posted there. I am a regular reader of Instapundit, though. He is more libertarian than anything else.