Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Values Thing

When The Economist www.economist.com/node/21542162 celebrates the new year by publishing a story on academic studies of the Koran, it’s time to point out the values we share with Islam.

Is it not odd that the far right, the most hawkish element of American society, calls for the same family values that are practiced in Muslim countries?  Both societies prefer women at home, both are very family-oriented, tending to shun divorce, sexual and reproductive choice.  Iran's Ahmedinejad, currently visiting Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, condemns modern morals as loudly as Pat Robertson, who, if I’m not mistaken, would blast the Muslim world to kingdom come.

As I’ve noted before on this site, Sayyid Qutb, the author and theoretician who boosted the most conservative form of Sunni Islam, visited the United States in the early sixties and identified our crisis of civilization in scathing terms. He condemned not only topless dancers, but also anomy and meaningless consumption as fatal to civilization.  We’re there now, as the Occupy and No-Growth movements at least partly recognize half a century later.

I often fault The Economist for doggedly trying to see a positive side to almost anything, but I must give it credit for reporting that: “Hotheads can generally find a passage that seems to justify their violence.  Such passage abound in the Koran, just as they do in the founding texts of Christianity, Judaism and many other religions  There is also a long tradition of interpreting such verses in reassuring ways.  For example, it is often tressed that the Koran’s injunction to ‘slay the unbeliever wherever you find him’ relates to a specific historical context in which the first  Muslims were betrayed by a pagan group who had signed a truce.”

Surely the most nonsensical justification for our opposition to a nuclear Iran came during a recent Republican debate from Rick Santorum.  He explained that because Muslims welcome martyrdom, they would be willing to use nuclear weapons more readily than other nuclear countries such as North Korea or Israel.

An extraordinary appropriation of ‘slay the unbelievers’......

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