Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The trouble with George Galloway. . .

. . . is that he sometimes reveals that he operates under a misconception that is, unfortunately, common amongst people at his end of the political spectrum, and that is also, unfortunately, something that the wingnuts and bedwetters are not entirely incorrect about. Specifically, he believes that people of all faiths, on average, take their scriptures equally seriously. The result is this somewhat embarrassing exchange between Galloway and this British documentary film-maker. I'm posting it here because I have, in the past, posted clips of Galloway laying waste to opponents on a variety of issues related to Muslims and Anglo-American involvement in Muslim countries.

The discussion, which begins with a civil tone, ends with Galloway assuming the tone of an interrogator, while simultaneously himself refusing to give any response to what was a completely fair question repeated ad nauseum by the guest.

Much has been made of Galloway's other public gaffes, but for me these have only called into question his judgement, and not his character or the soundness of his positions. This exchange, however, does create doubt about the latter.

While the Old Testament does contain far more violence than the Qur'an, for one reason or another, the overwhelming majority of British Jews or Christians don't take it all that seriously. That's not to say that they don't have any faith at all, but it does say that they have developed a variety of rationales (some less convincing than others) to effectively ignore most of it.

Amongst Muslims, particularly within the reactionary neo-Salafi school promulgated by the ibn Saud, not only the Qur'an, but Prophetic narrations from canonical secondary sources are taken, in a decontextualized form, as literal instructions that are binding upon Muslims for all eternity without qualification.

This does not validate the anti-Islam thesis that Muslims are all therefore suspects in a vast conspiracy to crush Western Civilization, but it does mean that one would indeed have a harder time finding a British church in which people were prescribing the death penalty for apostasy, than a mosque in which the same was being said. Without a knowledge of the Muslim community from the inside, that fact provokes either blind denial from those sympathetic to the Muslim community, or blind hate from those with xenophobic or imperialistic tendencies.

Ultimately, though, what infuriates me about the school of Islam promulgated by the ibn Saud is not that it creates a distraction from the genuine material grievances that create anti-Western sentiment in the Muslim world.

As for Galloway, he lost his seat in the British election. I have a feeling though, that this isn't the last we shall hear of him.

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faceless said...

The Ten Commandments are from the Old Testament and you can be pretty certain that these are very important in the Catholic faith at least.

If you've not met many Catholics compared to Protestants then you won't appreciate the differences. Many wingnut Christians from the extremes consider Catholics to be devil-worshippers, of course...

And Jewish people follow the Old Testament for their eating habits every day. (Christians only stopped following the same rules when the faith became more popular in Western Europe around the 5th century)

So you're incorrect to say that Christians and Jews don't follow the Old Testament.

Anonymous said...

hey faceless, when was the last time you heard of jews or christians stoning a woman to death for adultery, or hanging a gay man in the street?

muslims *are* actually doing it every day in islamic countries. that's just a fact.

faceless said...

Please keep your idiotic thoughts to yourself - or post them somewhere that is dealing with that subject.


The Proud Islamist said...


It's fair enough to say that Catholics still take parts of the Old Testament seriously, but my point was about how often they act upon it with violence. A believing Catholic might say "people shouldn't work on the Sabbath," but I'm unaware of any British Catholics ever attacking anyone for doing so, or even lobbying the government to outlaw it. Although Felix is exaggerating a bit, it is undeniable that there are a handful of Muslim countries in which capital punishments for non-violent crimes are prescribed and enforced by the state itself, and a number of Muslim countries where the laws are on the books, but simply never enforced by the state.

faceless said...

The Northern Ireland situation was based in essence on people of one faith killing another and there are still areas in Scotland where you'd be very much advised to keep quiet if you're a Catholic, because you will be attacked.

But sticking with Ireland, many thousands of unmarried mothers were basically locked away from society for their 'crime' - and this was happening even in living memory.

The people who've killed abortionists in the USA are working on Old Testament beliefs.

Ok, so they're not the same as burying someone in sand and pelting them, but what has that got to do with this story anyway? I thought it was about George Galloway.

The Proud Islamist said...

Well, like the title says, the trouble with George Galloway is that even though he is right about a whole spectrum of geopolitical and social issues, he makes the mistake of trying to deflect criticism of crazy Muslims by holding up Christian scriptures that are not generally implemented with the same rigid literalism.

Yes, if you go back one or two generations, lots of Christians did all sorts of barbaric things for religious reasons, but for several reasons I could go into, such behaviour (religiously-motivated persecution and violence) is currently more common amongst the Muslims.

faceless said...

Well I've received numerous death threats from God-fearing Christians for daring to say something as simple as "Soldiers Are Not Heroes".

And that was based on an officially sanctioned US government policy in the Bush years - 'if you're not with us, you're against us', or whatever the words were.

But while we're on the subject of religious extremists, here's an interesting story...

Sounds like a potential Waco situation, but were there any Moslems? And is that why it's not been international news?

The Proud Islamist said...

Your point is well-taken. Most religions have violent extremists, and the population of them amongst the Muslims tends to be over-represented in the media and by certain warmongering bloggers.

Still, the question being asked by the Dispatches producer in the video is valid: Where are the British vicars or rabbis arguing for the killing of adulterers or homosexuals?

Christians, Muslims, Jews (and Sikhs and Hindus) are all engaged in various forms of violence, but there is a specific kind of violence that Muslims today have come to excel at.

Being a Muslim, I think that we should be better than that, even if the problem were universal to all religions.

faceless said...

"Where are the British vicars or rabbis arguing for the killing of adulterers or homosexuals? "

Where are the British Moslem Imams calling for the same? The only significant figures I can think of within British Islam who are known are Amjun Chaudry and who's-his-hook, and they certainly don't represent anything of value.

But to be fair, I thought Galloway did let himself down in the interview. That doesn't mean the guy from Channel 4 was any less of a dick though,.