Friday, September 29, 2006

We have a fifth reader!

And he/she is pissed. For the benefit of our other four readers, here are no.5's comments in response to my last post:
an idea... maybe it's because Muslims don't identify themselves with people who blow up mosques but they do identify themselves by their religion and its reputation. It's like Christians being expected to protest against the imperial actions of Bush and his government and Blair and his government based on the fact that both presidents identify themselves as Christian... and at least there you can also say they represent the Christian demographic because of democracy and so are somehow answerable. Still, it would be weird to expect Christians to do it based on that fact alone... that other Christians do unconscienable things. I don't understand why there is one rule for Muslims and one for Christians in these matters.

Why are Muslims expected to protest against murders?

Also, I think stating that there are "a lot of parallels to be drawn between the inner-city black community in the U.S. and the Muslim world" is faulty and I actually resent it. Sure there are similarities of injustice etc. But, until you are a member of either of those communities (and I'm not talking about an elite western-educated privileged member), you can't tell people to "step up." It's so complicated... I hate it when people make it sound so easy from their arm chairs...: "Forget all those years of indoctrination- the reason why you're living on a dollar a day isn't because of corporations exploiting your labour (because did you know, you're sub-human?) or foreign governments supporting the dictatorship you're living under. Or because well, us rich people want to keep as much money as we can! It's because you mister, are a lazy bum. You're stupid and you need to take a shower...and then get producing, our GDP is pathetic! The rest of the world are laughing at us!"
Luckily for me, these arguments have more holes than swiss-cheese-if-it-was-actually-wood-and-infected-by-termites so dismantling them one by one shouldn't be too difficult.

No.5 says that Christians don't protest against murders committed by Christians, so why should Muslims protest murders by Muslims? There are several issues here, so I want to proceed carefully and systematically.

First of all, the use of the term "Christians" is not particularly astute. The reason I used the word "Muslims" is because the people who commit the "murders" we're talking about, do so in the name of Islam, whether they are Shia or Sunni. "Christian" murders, or crimes, are not committed in the name of religion. They are usually, but not exclusively, the result of power politics. The argument presented by no.5 is a variant of the one my mother poses: why is Islamic terrorism Islamic but terrorism committed by others "Irish" or "Sri Lankan". Well, because the Islamic terrorists are committing terror in the name of Islam, whereas the IRA committed terrorism in the name of Irish identiy. The same concept applies to the Tamils in Jaffna or the Basques in Spain.

Secondly, the notion that "Christians" don't protest crimes by other Christians is laughable. Perhaps no.5 missed the million march in London, before the Iraq war even started. Or the one in New York. Or the one in Melbourne. But that's ok. Thanks to the internet, and specifically wikipedia, at the click of a button you can see for yourself exactly how many protests there have been by "Christians" against the Iraq war, both before and after March 2003. By the way, I stopped adding up the number of people attending these once I crossed 2.5 million.

Thirdly, the reason Muslims should protest murders by other Muslims is because, according to them (us?), they are extremely angry at the fact that Israel and the U.S. are responsible for countless Muslim deaths. Said anger is reflected in riots, marches and violent protests that take innocent lives. In fact, said anger does not even need a Muslim death to spark it. Said anger can be sparked by a drawing with colour in it or by a quote from an emperor a really long time ago. Isn't it reasonable to expect that if said anger manifests itself so violently as a response to said insults, then it should manifest itself when Sunnis blow up Shia mosques in Ramazan? Aren't innocent Muslims dying then? Ask yourself, no.5, what would be the reaction if an American cruise missile landed on a mosque on the first day of Ramazan and 20 innocent Muslims were killed. Now compare said hypothetical reaction to the reaction when it actually happened, only the perpretrators happened to be other Muslims. If you'd like, I could start spelling hypocrisy with a capital H.

Now to no.5's second paragraph. No.5 says I shouldn't say anything about the black community or the Muslim world, because I'm not "really" from there, on account of being Western-educated (Benazir Bhutto, Imran Khan and anyone who is anyone in our army is also disqualified by no.5 under the same condition from speaking about issues in the Muslim world). I really wish no.5 would attack my argument (which I'm perfectly willing to engage as you can see), rather than my background, which is petty and immature.

No.5 then says I'm telling people to "forget all those years of indoctrination". I'm not quite sure what this means. The only indoctrination that has taken place in the Muslim/Arab world, is by other Muslims/Arabs. I could research and provide links to the spread of Wahabism behind Saudi money, but I'm too lazy, so I'll ask you to just trust me on that one.

No.5 then goes on to say that the Muslim world is "living on a dollar a day" because Western corporations are "exploiting their labour". Hmm. We can do this the easy way or the hard way. Screw it, let's do it the hard way. First of all, very few in the Muslim world are dirt poor, or "$1 a day" type poor like you suggest. Here are the figures for GDP per capita for the countries that I know are Muslim. Divide by 365 and you get the per day numbers. Afghanistan ($800), Algeria ($7200), Azerbaijan ($4800), Bahrain ($23000), Bangladesh ($2100), Bosnia ($6800), Egypt ($3900), Ethiopia ($900), the Gaza strip ($600), Iran ($8300), Iraq ($3400), Jordan ($4700), Kazakhstan ($8200...Borat would be so proud), Kuwait ($19200), Kyrgyzstan ($2100), Lebanon ($6200), Libya ($11400...never knew their flag was that boring by the way), Malaysia ($12100), Morocco ($4200), Nigeria ($1400), Oman ($13200), The Motherland (oh wait, I'm not really Pakistani am I? Anyways the number is $2400), Qatar ($27400), Saudi Arabia ($12800), Senegal ($1800), Sudan ($2100), Syria ($3900), Tajikistan ($1200), Tunisia ($8300), Turkey ($8200), Turkmenistan ($8000), UAE ($43400), Uzbekistan ($1800), the West Bank ($1100), and last - and pretty much least in this case - Yemen ($900). So no.5, as you can see, a couple of rich countries, a couple of dirt poor countries, but mostly lower-income type countries that get by without doing too great.

And by the way, I'd really like some evidence on the whole corporations-exploit-the-poor-labour-because-they're-sub-human thing. I do know there's plenty of evidence out there to suggest that the people doing the exploiting, especially in the Middle East, are wealthy and profitable Arab oil and trucking companies that employ poor South Asians without adequate work benefits. But I've yet to come across any evidence that western companies do the same, as a matter of course, in the Muslim world. If you present any such evidence, I'll be glad to admit I was wrong. Well, I won't be glad to admit I was wrong, but I will admit I was wrong nonetheless. The infintely more likely explanation for Muslim countries being relatively poor is their technological and educational backwardness. Perhaps you can refer to the post that initially riled you up in the first place, and compare university numbers and standards.

Anyways, this entire post took way longer than I thought, if only because I decided like an ass that I should produce all those figures when I should have just given one link and stopped right there. But my points still stand. In the future, if you have any issues with what I write, please respond with verifiable facts and figures to back claims like "Christians don't protest murders by other Christians" or "Muslims live on $1 a day because of evil Western corporations". Privileged, Western-educated elites, you see, find it way too easy to debunk claims backed by no evidence. Just ask Darrell Hair.


Moss J said...

Sir you are too smart.
You are right Islam as a whole is in conflict and also every muslim on planet.
Also i think i saw two parsi men the other day kissing. Therefore the zorastrian faith is at a crossroads because they are all gay.
Also EVERY single person living in china is a communist because it would be too hard for us to actually look deeper. It is easier to generalize form what media tells us.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to be dragged into this because it's like arguing from a completely illogical and faulty premise in the first place so continuing will almost be like endorsing it all as a whole.

Let me clarify however:

a) there is a difference between protesting the actions of elected governments and protesting the actions of groups who happen to use the same words to identify themselves as those used by some billion people across the world most of whom have nothing to do with them.

b) The people of London, New York and Melbourne would resent all being called "Christians." I was at the protests in London and I'm not a Christian. There were Communists at that protest. Jews. Muslims. Atheists. They are not Christians- they are subjects of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth maybe. They are citizens of the UK or US or Australia. They are residents of these countries. They are students living in these countries. They are not "Christians."

c) Again, there's a difference between elected governments, dictatorships, leaders of countries and annoying insurgent groups, single-issue organisations, murderers etc.

d) I never said you shouldn't speak about issues because you're wealthy and western-educated. I disagreed with the parallels you were making. They are inaccurate and naive. They weren't even arguments- you sounded like a child asking his mum, "Mum why were there poor people in this world? Why don't they all just go get a job instead of sitting on the side of the street?"

c) I never said the Muslim world was "living on a dollar a day." I was making a point using an example, if you didn't get it, tough.

d) I used the exploitation of foreign labour by corporations; foreign policy of world "super-powers"; corrupt dictatorships and a corrupt elite as possible reasons why there is so much poverty and so little education in the world... which ultimately effects stability and GDP. If you needed that spelled out for you then everything you write all makes sense.

e) I never made either of the following statements:
"Christians don't protest murders by other Christians"
"Muslims live on $1 a day because of evil Western corporations"

It's a terrible thing to misquote a person. It is unprofessional and extremely annoying.