Creative Destruction

August 30, 2006

The Left and Islam

Filed under: International Politics,Political Correctness — Tuomas @ 4:30 pm

I have to break the hiatus briefly just to show this.

Have you ever wondered why does the progressive left seem to treat Islam with far more nuance than it gives to Christian fundamentalism? It is a constant source of exasperation to me, at least. Wonder no more. I see someone translated an excellent article by Jussi Halla-aho in English, complete with percentages of immigrants and votes to left (from Sweden, which has numerous immigrant ghettoes).
Baron Bodissey even has a graph:

For Kista the figure is slightly lower because of the relatively high percentage of immigrants from other EU countries, but otherwise the multicultural suburbs are significantly more interested than average in the state of the working class, women’s rights and environmental issues.

Right. I love the sarcasm. But read the whole thing (and don’t get scared by the site, I’m not asking anyone to agree with the politics of the folks at Gates Of Vienna, but Mr. Halla-aho’s facts are solid).

[edited to remove some generalized left-bashing]

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22 Comments »

  1. Okay, maybe that is an exaggeration…

    But it’s not an exaggeration. It’s a lie.

    Comment by Ampersand — August 30, 2006 @ 4:44 pm | Reply

  2. Really, Amp? Do you want me to do some digging?

    Comment by Tuomas — August 30, 2006 @ 4:48 pm | Reply

  3. Yes, really. I’d like to see it.

    Let’s see some quotes of reasonably “name” progressives saying that they love Islamic fundamentalism. Including links to the original statements, with the full context, please.

    Comment by Ampersand — August 30, 2006 @ 4:59 pm | Reply

  4. Well, Pz Myers seems to think you can’t criticize Muslims because they are poor minority.

    Muslims represent a poor and oppressed underclass, and those cartoons represent a ruling establishment intentionally taunting them and basically flipping them off. They have cause to be furious!

    But I did edit the post slightly, as the term I used was exaggerating, and not as accurate as it could be. Perhaps soft bigotry of low exceptations is better term than “love”.

    Comment by Tuomas — August 30, 2006 @ 5:05 pm | Reply

  5. Thanks for the edit – it’s a definite improvement. But I still think it’s not true.

    And that quote from PZ doesn’t help your case at all. In that same post, PZ also wrote:

    It’s a clear-cut case of religious insanity, exactly the sort of thing I ought to relish wagging an arrogantly atheistical finger at. And of course I will, in just a moment…but the difficult part is that there are actually at least two issues here, and religion is only one of them….

    So on the one hand I see a social problem being mocked, but on the other—and here comes the smug godless finger-wagging—I see a foolish superstition used as a prod to mock people, and a people so muddled by the phony blandishments of religion that they scream “Blasphemy!” and falsely pin the problem on a ridiculous insult to a non-existent god, rather than on the affront to their dignity as human beings and citizens. Religion in this case has accomplished two things, neither one productive: it’s distracted people away from the real problems, which have nothing at all to do with the camera-shy nature of their imaginary deity, and it’s also amplified the hatred.

    It also doesn’t help that their riots are confirming the caricatures rather than opposing them. Once again, religiosity turns people into mindless frenzied zombies, and once again it interferes with progress.
    __________________________________________

    Somehow, people are assuming from this that I’m “sympathetic to Islam”. How, I don’t know; I thought I’d always been quite clear in my contempt for all religion, and I thought the last two paragraphs above were plain enough. I am sympathetic to the problem of being a minority immigrant; that’s one issue that is being ignored too much. As I said, the real problem is being exacerbated by bad religion that amplifies the hate.

    I really don’t think a Muslim would find me to be a friend to their religion.

    Nor, of course, did PZ ever say that “you can’t criticize Muslims because they are poor minority,” or anything close to that.

    Comment by Ampersand — August 30, 2006 @ 5:17 pm | Reply

  6. You can infer it from:

    They lack artistic or social or even comedic merit, and are only presented as an insult to inflame a poor minority. I don’t have any sympathy for a newspaper carrying out an exercise in pointless provocation.

    (my emphases)

    The fact that PZ Myers himself isn’t going to censor that actively is irrelevant, he’s just saying he doesn’t care if, or when, someone does put a lid in that pointless provocation.

    Comment by Tuomas — August 30, 2006 @ 5:27 pm | Reply

  7. Amp, let’s drop this argument about invidual leftists. The point really was that Left and Islam at least in many European countries, have a symbiotic relationship where the two (IMHO) radically opposed ideologies have sort of an unholy alliance of political convenience.

    I am personally worried of long-time implications of this, the article I linked has quite many reasons for this. Bottom line: When multiculturalism contrasts with classical liberal values, I will choose liberalism.

    Comment by Tuomas — August 30, 2006 @ 5:38 pm | Reply

  8. The fact that PZ Myers himself isn’t going to censor that actively is irrelevant, he’s just saying he doesn’t care if, or when, someone does put a lid in that pointless provocation.

    Nonsense. If PZ comes here and calls you twelve kinds of dirty names, I won’t have any sympathy for you, because you brought it on yourself. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t care if you’re censored; nor does it mean that I approve of PZ’s hypothetical rudeness. (In real life, of course, I doubt PZ would be rude).

    If you want to stand by your claim that PZ does not object to censorship of criticism of Muslems, then let’s settle the matter: I’ll ask PZ to come here and tell us his opinion about censorship in plain language. And if he says that he doesn’t object to censorship of critiques of poor Muslims, I’ll admit I’m wrong. What do you say?

    The point really was that Left and Islam at least in many European countries, have a symbiotic relationship where the two (IMHO) radically opposed ideologies have sort of an unholy alliance of political convenience.

    I don’t know enough about the European left to address this question, so I’ll gladly drop the argument. (Although if this is your new claim, you should edit your original post to add the word “European” before “progressive left”).

    However, I’d point out that your new claim, as stated in your most recent comment, is about a thousand miles distant from your original claim. Maybe that’s the chief benefit of this sort of multi-idealogical forum – perhaps it forces us all to be more careful with the claims we make about our idealogical opponents.

    Comment by Ampersand — August 30, 2006 @ 6:20 pm | Reply

  9. And if he says that he doesn’t object to censorship of critiques of poor Muslims, I’ll admit I’m wrong. What do you say?

    Go ahead. Even if you’re correct, it doesn’t negate the fact that the newspapers who PZ feels no sympathy towards aren’t exactly afraid of being called dirty names.

    I don’t know enough about the European left to address this question, so I’ll gladly drop the argument. (Although if this is your new claim, you should edit your original post to add the word “European” before “progressive left”).

    No, I think I won’t do that. American Left suffers from the exact same PC “can’t-criticize-minority” idea, so no further edit is necessary. The comment was specifically about a de facto political alliance. Come to think of it, the American Left isn’t even getting votes for doing the same thing, so the question regarding them is still a bit open.

    However, I’d point out that your new claim, as stated in your most recent comment, is about a thousand miles distant from your original claim.

    And? The original statement is retracted, I don’t see why you need to still bring it up. I wrote quickly and admittedly sloppily, the main point was to provide the links.

    Comment by Tuomas — August 30, 2006 @ 6:37 pm | Reply

  10. Oh, and if any bystanders or readers are wondering, I originally wrote that the progressive left loves Islam, with an asterisk explaining that “maybe this is an exaggeration, but the fact remains that Islamic fundamentalism gets treated with far more nuance than Christian fundamentalism”.

    I don’t have the original, but IIRC that it was (Right, Amp?).

    Comment by Tuomas — August 30, 2006 @ 6:44 pm | Reply

  11. One of the main parties of the right in almost every European country is the Christian Democratic Party. If you are a Muslim voter, one thing is pretty obvious to you. The Christian Democratic Party is not the way to go.

    Many of the secular parties of the right in Europe are basically nationalist parties fervantly opposed to immigration and favoring harsh treatment/mass deportation/denial of citizenship for immigrants currently residing in the country. Not a hard choice there either.

    A lot of Muslim voters are actually far to right of left leaning parties in Europe (in most countries some version of Democratic Socialist is the main party of the left) in terms of political beliefs, but they don’t have much of a choice.

    Comment by ohwilleke — September 4, 2006 @ 2:54 pm | Reply

  12. Political Parties in Sweden’s Parliament (from right to left wing):

    * Moderates 55 seats (center-right, was pro-nazi and nationalist pre-WWII).
    * Christian Democrats 33 seats (center-right)
    * Liberal People’s Party 48 seats (center-left; social liberal; roughly equivalent to Democratic Party in U.S. on political spectrum)
    * Center Party 22 seats (social liberal focusing on agricultural, environmental, and rural questions)
    * Social Democrats 144 seats (Left Wing)
    * Green Party 17 seats (Left Wing)
    * Left Party 30 seats (socialist and feminist)

    Total: 349 seats.
    % who are as far left or further than U.S. Democratic Party: 261 (75%)

    If you are a Muslim in Sweden, you either vote left wing, or you vote for the former Nazi leaning party.

    Comment by ohwilleke — September 4, 2006 @ 3:29 pm | Reply

  13. ohwilleke:

    You’re not talking to someone who is ignorant of Nordic politics. I live here (Finland) for chrissakes.

    One of the main parties of the right in almost every European country is the Christian Democratic Party. If you are a Muslim voter, one thing is pretty obvious to you. The Christian Democratic Party is not the way to go.

    I thought Islam was friendly to Christianity, at least more so than to atheism/agnosticism/secularism.

    Many of the secular parties of the right in Europe are basically nationalist parties fervantly opposed to immigration and favoring harsh treatment/mass deportation/denial of citizenship for immigrants currently residing in the country. Not a hard choice there either.

    Really? Which political parties favor harsh treatment/deportation/denial of citizenship to immigrants in Sweden?

    Christian Democrats* are the only ones who have in this day even hinted of anything like that. And please remember that politics over 60 years ago are hardly relevant now.

    A lot of Muslim voters are actually far to right of left leaning parties in Europe (in most countries some version of Democratic Socialist is the main party of the left) in terms of political beliefs, but they don’t have much of a choice.

    Most are probably far right to right-leaning parties in social issues too, but support leftist economics and immigration policies because they gain direct benefits from them.

    If you are a Muslim in Sweden, you either vote left wing, or you vote for the former Nazi leaning party.

    The problem is that I define (in this instance at least) “left” as Social Democrats and from left to that, as does the statistic. Therefore you’ll note that Muslims do have more choices than you claim they have.

    *[edit: I apologize for my factual slip, this is incorrect. Sverigedemokraterna, or Sweden Democrats to anglos, is the only party that has AFAIK done this. A party that got a grand total of 1,44 % of votes and is vilified in Sweden and in rest of Europe as a far-right, racist party. -Tuomas]

    Comment by Tuomas — September 4, 2006 @ 6:43 pm | Reply

  14. “I thought Islam was friendly to Christianity, at least more so than to atheism/agnosticism/secularism.”

    Pretty much only within the context of an Islamic state. When you call your political party the Christian Democratic Party, you are basicaly putting up a keep out sign on the door to non-Christians.

    This wasn’t a big deal when the CDPs were being formed all across Europe in the wake of WWII. Jews wanted the hell out of the Continent, atheism was for communists, and most European’s exposure to Muslims was limited to stories from the Arabian Nights (unless those are pre-Muslims) and stories about the Crusades. Using the term Christian, as opposed to Protestant or Catholic was inclusive at the time.

    But, things change.

    Also, people do care a lot about symbolism in politics, even when it is ancient history. For example, it took 90 years for the Republican party to regain any standing in the Southern U.S. after reconstruction (in the wake of the U.S. Civil War). Voters in the South were electing politicians who were ideologically closer to Republicans than Democrats decades before they were comfortable changing the label on the political product. I suspect that the Moderate party carries similar baggage for groups like the Muslim community, regardless of what they have been saying (or calling themselves) lately.

    FWIW, the Center Party doesn’t have a lot to offer predominantly urban Muslims either.

    Comment by ohwilleke — September 5, 2006 @ 6:09 am | Reply

  15. What is the thesis of this posting?

    Here is what I gathered from the discussion so far: 1) Muslim immigrants in Sweden tend to vote for more liberal parties; this may reflect the self-interest of Muslim immigrants, or it may be an artifact of the evolution of European political parties. 2) Tuomas appears to have negative associations with “the Left.” 3) Amp finds merit in challenging negative associations about “the Left.”

    Speaking from the depths of my ignorance, let me say that I have little doubt that there exists, somewhere, someone who could be labeled leftist who has espoused compassion for Muslim immigrants at least partially out of a belief that it would promote a partisan advantage. And I have little doubt that there exists, somewhere, someone who could be labeled leftist who has espoused rigorous or even prejudiced treatment of Muslim immigrants at least partially out of a belief that it would promote a partisan advantage, or perhaps without regard to partisan concerns.

    I have no idea how anyone could justify characterizing either position as reflecting the view of “the Left.” People who generalize about “the Left” or “the Right” tell me little about the world; rather, they tell me something about themselves.

    Similarly, I find it remarkable that Amp would characterize any statement about the amorphous “Left” as a lie. True, Tuomas couldn’t cite support for his initial statement. This fact enables me to draw conclusions about Tuomas. But what conclusions does it permit me to draw about “the Left”? If Tuomas were able to find a leftist who supported his view, would that prove his generalization about “the Left”? Two leftists? Three? Lacking a standard by which to prove Tuomas’ argument true or false, it looks like a statement of religion to me. And I don’t generally characterize statements of religion as “a lie,” even if they are utterly lacking in support.

    Amp fights the good fight to challenge negative associations with “the Left,” and I guess there’s merit in it. But I can’t help but feel that he’s sticking fingers in a leaky dike. The dike is fundamentally unsustainable; the larger remedy is to educate people not to rely on them.

    Comment by nobody.really — September 5, 2006 @ 12:47 pm | Reply

  16. The dike is fundamentally unsustainable

    Homophobe!

    Comment by Robert — September 5, 2006 @ 1:02 pm | Reply

  17. I have no idea how anyone could justify characterizing either position as reflecting the view of “the Left.” People who generalize about “the Left” or “the Right” tell me little about the world; rather, they tell me something about themselves.

    Stop generalizing generalizers, nobody.really, and I’d also appreciate a bit less armchair pseudo-psychology. :)

    The thing is, generalizations may not be the best way to make a point in all cases (and are often considered impolite by people who happen to belong to a group being generalized), but to basically claim that all generalizations about political leanings are “statements of religion” is bit pretentious.

    And in case you’re wondering, I don’t particularly like leftism, but I fucking hate Islam (no, I’m not ignorant about it and lacking education about it).

    Comment by Tuomas — September 5, 2006 @ 11:03 pm | Reply

  18. Besides, I’m not talking about “compassion for Muslim immigrants” for partisan benefits, I’m talking about absolute refusal to acknowledge any problems related to Muslim immigration and supporting increase in it. Whether this is something that can be called being compassionate is another axe to grind.

    Comment by Tuomas — September 5, 2006 @ 11:30 pm | Reply

  19. to basically claim that all generalizations about political leanings are “statements of religion” is bit pretentious.

    Maybe it’s just a matter of semantics. If Tuomas objected to something PZ Meyer had said, and then extended his objection to “that PZ Meyer crowd,” I’d have fewer objections. Or if Tuomas had argued that Leftists have views that are more liberal than Rightists, I wouldn’t object. Both statements look like (pretty useless) tautologies. But if you ask your reader to associate a specific policy to a label that isn’t tautologically related, you invite misunderstanding at best, outright dismissal at worst.

    I understand Tuomas to argue that leftists have little in common with Muslims yet they receive electoral support from Muslims. I understand Tuomas to argue that unspecified leftists exhibit more sympathy for Muslims than for fundamentalist Christians, and to conclude that the only reason for this must be a desire for partisan advantage. More generally, I understand Tuomas to value national security, even if promoting it involves occasionally giving offense or the appearance of insensitivity to certain social groups.

    I see some interesting stuff in Tuomas’s arguments as I understand them. But the discussion immediately foundered the use of the term “the Left.” Some will characterize my concerns as pretentious. And some will characterize this discussion as sidetracked.

    And in case you’re wondering, I don’t particularly like leftism, but I fucking hate Islam (no, I’m not ignorant about it and lacking education about it).

    Ok, can we at least acknowledge that THIS is a statement of religion?

    In can you’re wondering, I don’t have any special problem with leftist policies as such, but I’m not wild about labels.

    As someone who is both ignorant and lacking in education about Islam, I cannot profess that I fucking hate Islam. I will allow, however, as I friggin’ hate Sibbie.

    The dike is fundamentally unsustainable

    Homophobe!

    Hey, I’m not the one sticking my fingers where they’re not wanted.

    Comment by nobody.really — September 7, 2006 @ 5:38 pm | Reply

  20. But the discussion immediately foundered the use of the term “the Left.” Some will characterize my concerns as pretentious. And some will characterize this discussion as sidetracked.

    Perhaps so. I don’t see much objectionable about the new revised version of this post, though.

    Ok, can we at least acknowledge that THIS is a statement of religion?

    If I say: “I like chocolate”, is it a statement of religion?

    As someone who is both ignorant and lacking in education about Islam, I cannot profess that I fucking hate Islam. I will allow, however, as I friggin’ hate Sibbie.

    You seem to imagine a lot more anger in my comments than there really is (maybe it’s the cussing). It was kind of oblique reference to the statement Matt Stone once made. (But I must admit, somewhat descriptive of my political leanings).

    Comment by Tuomas — September 7, 2006 @ 7:13 pm | Reply

  21. Perhaps, instead of the somewhat vague “Left”, I should use “Postmodernist, relativist left” or somesuch, because that’s what I generally mean. By American standards, I would probably be categorized as center-left, centrist, or liberal (hard to say). Liberal doesn’t, IMO, equal leftist. Though that seems like a common American belief/aspect of politics, as liberals generally are to the left of social conservatives on many issues (esp. social)..

    Comment by Tuomas — September 7, 2006 @ 7:18 pm | Reply

  22. Everyone,
    This is how prophet Mohammed peace be upon him was…
    Please Check this website: http://www.islamway.com/mohammad
    He told us muslims to tell non-muslims about him even by one word.

    Comment by I love Islam — March 14, 2007 @ 5:01 pm | Reply


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