Monday, April 03, 2006

The Reavers’ Jihad

 
Occasional correspondent Apollon Zamp is guest-posting the following essay.


Reavers

Reavers ain’t men. Or they forgot how to be. Comes to just nothin’.

— Mal Reynolds, Firefly episode “Bushwhacked”



Fleeing the Reavers

Zoe: You’ve never heard of Reavers?
Simon: Campfire stories, men gone savage at the edge of space, killing —
A Reaver shipZoe: They’re not stories.
Simon: What happens if they board us?
Zoe: If they take the ship, they’ll rape us to death, eat our flesh and sew our skins into their clothing — and if we’re very, very, lucky, they’ll do it in that order.

Serenity, Firefly pilot episode



The darkness. Kinda darkness you can’t even imagine. Blacker than the space it moves in.

— Mal Reynolds, describing Reavers



For those not familiar with the TV show “Firefly” and its subsequent film production, Serenity, the story line includes a savage breed of beings known as Reavers. Since the Firefly universe is set five hundred years in the future, one might — on a steady diet of Star Trek and other such sci-fi favorites — expect danger to come in the form of alien life. However, danger comes instead in the form of the Beast Within — the savage side of man’s nature that in civilized cultures is held in check by proper social conditioning, an instilled sense of morality, and regulation of the id by the superego.

AshouraIn “Firefly”, Reavers have lost that conditioning and that regulation. They have lost it to the point of being characterized as non-human. They pierce and tear their own flesh, wear the skins of their victims as clothing, and run their ships without using reactor core containment — meaning that Reavers suffer horrific and grotesque radiation burns and scarring. Reavers sow destruction, terror, torture, and death wherever they go. One of the facets of the show — and the movie to a lesser extent — is that Reavers inspire such terror in people that resistance is not just useless, but impossible — suicide and “mercy killings” are the usual responses to a Reaver attack.

AshouraSo what does this have to do with Islam?

Consider the photo to the right.
 

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First he’ll try to make himself look like [a Reaver]... cut on himself, desecrate his own flesh...

— Mal Reynolds, speculating that a survivor of a Reaver attack will turn himself into one

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

 

AshouraThe pictures you see here are examples of the observance of the Day of Ashurah. I quote from a BBC news article on the gruesome spectacle (story in full here):

For Shia Muslims, Ashura is a solemn day mourning the martyrdom of Hussein in 680 AD at Karbala in modern-day Iraq... Some Shia men seek to emulate the suffering of Hussein by flagellating themselves with chains or cutting their foreheads until blood streams from their bodies.

And some men, well, they’d rather cut on their children instead:

Ashoura

One time when I was very young, probably no older than the bloodstained tot in the photo, my father accidentally cut my finger open while clipping my fingernails. I have no recollection of this incident, but my mother tells me that she has seldom seen him more upset than he was at my pain. No parent should ever take pleasure in the suffering of their children. Looking at that man’s expression, I can only conclude that he’s PROUD of injuring his own son.

It seems readily apparent from just these three photos that there is an endemic bloodlust within Islamic culture. Although all the people above are all Shi’ites, there exists within Islamic society an obsession with blood (the image of a Palestinian man waving the bloodstained shirt of a dead comrade springs to mind). Are all Muslims savage self-immolators? No, of course not. But this fascination with spilling blood seems to be an Islamic theme, and it appears to pervade Muslim culture and history.

These two excerpts are taken from the Serenity Role Playing Game (written by Jamie Chambers, Margaret Weis Productions Ltd):

A Reaver is obsessed with pain — both causing it and feeling it...he takes pleasure in killing, and he wants his victim to remain alive as long as possible. He is utterly savage, without mercy or compassion of any kind. He has no fear of dying himself — he may even welcome the thought. The threat of death will not deter him from his bestial, brutal acts. (pages 187-188)

[Reaver] ships are crudely painted in garish colors, and often sport gruesome totems, such as the skeletal remains of victims strapped onto the bow... Reavers do not discriminate in their choice of victims and will kill men, women, and even little children without so much as a glimmer of mercy. (page 207)

In reading these two passages, I can’t help but think of the way Muslim terrorists conduct their campaigns. First of all, there’s the mutilation. Part of this blog’s mission has been keeping a watch on the acts of barbarism against Muslim women, and how they are raped, beaten, tortured, and killed at what seems to be the whim of their husbands and male relatives. We all know about — and some of us have even watched — the videos of terrorists decapitating Nick Berg and Ken Bigley, their cries of “Allahu Akhbar!” mingled with the agonized shrieks of their victims. We have heard how they brandish the heads of their slaughtered captives in a horrific frenzy of blood-soaked ecstasy. And we know from the suicide bombings that have taken place, first in Israel and then here in the United States, that Muslim terrorists willingly attack and murder defenseless people — children, the elderly, pregnant women. In one of the first particularly barbaric cases — the 1985 hijacking (led by the unmourned Abu Abbas) of the cruise ship Achille Lauro — Islamists shot a wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer and then pushed him into the sea.

One of the other things the Serenity Role Playing Game mentions about Reavers is that they cannibalize ships and cobble various pieces together to make their own craft. That is, in living only to destroy, Reavers create nothing of their own. The deeds done by Islamists represent the same mentality. There is a distinct lack of manufacturing bases, modern market-driven economies, and specialized industry within many Muslim countries. Because they have no armament sector, the terrorist “armies” that we fight do not make their own weapons, instead using whatever they can get their hands on — AK-47s, ancient Soviet tanks, “technicals,” and the infamous IED’s designed to cause as much pain and suffering as possible. This cannibalistic approach was instrumental in the attacks of September 11th, where 19 men attempted to use Western technology to destroy Western culture.

“Firefly” and Serenity may be imaginary, but Islamofascist Reavers are real. They are the men who crash Boeing jets into American skyscrapers and the Pentagon. They are the men who joyfully slit the throats of unarmed civilians and journalists like Danny Pearl. They are the men and women who walk into crowded areas and detonate bombs strapped around their waists, reveling in the “glory” of their own death, as well as the death of those around them. They are the people who seek to destroy us. It remains to be seen if we choose to hold our ground against the face of evil — or whether, when confronted with the Darkness, we instead close our eyes and tell ourselves that nightmares don’t come true.

40 comments:

ScottSA said...

On one hand, extrapolating the nature of a religion from three pictures is silly. One might as well pose three flagellates and announce that Christianity is dismally masochistic and sadistic.

On the other hand, Islam IS a bloodthirsty religion. It encourages it, promises heavenly rewards for it, and is indeed founded upon it. And we're not talking about some offshoot cult of Islam; rather we are talking about the Koran or Qu'ran or whatever politically correct spelling suffices this week to describe the religion of highwaymanism. The divisions among Islamic cults are based more upon the succession of the leader than on any interpretive argument.

Islam stands apart from all other monotheisms: only Islam glorifies war as a holy enterprise. Mohammed is the only leader of a monotheistic religion who personally killed people, and in the name of God at that. "Peace" within the context of Islam means the peace of surrender to Islam.

Uncle Pavian said...

The thing that always puzzled me about the Reavers was, the "space" part of "space cannibals". How exactly do guys who parade that kind of behavior manage to organize themselves enough to break atmo?
Must be the same suspension of disbelief that we see operating in the pics.

ApollonZamp said...

Scottsa: I *did* make a disclaimer that I was not trying to, as you say, extrapolate a phenomenon from three pictures. However, whereas Christian flagellates are extremely rare, if indeed they are still extant (does anyone know if they are? I'm curious), the Ashura self-inflicted bloodbath is a recurring event with a widespread practice. That was what I was attempting to highlight--as well as, as you also mentioned, the bloodthirsty aspects of Islam, both repressed and acted on.

Uncle Pavian--this is a discussion I have had with many other geeks like me. We eventually decided that Reavers must operate in a sort of "jackal mentality"--a bunch of savage scavengers who manage to band together long enough to finish the hunt and get the meat. Sounds kind of like the oppurtunistic alliances of various sects of Islamic terror groups, no? As long as they hate someone else enough they can put aside their hatred of each other--for a time.

Dymphna said...

Christian flagellates performed from a different motivation. Where you might call what the Ashura phenomenon a "participatory re-enactment," the CFs were motivated by a desire to discipline the flesh, the "lower self." It was always frowned upon by the Church, though some people persisted in it at least thru the last generation. It was always considered an aberration, though, and a shrink could have a field day with it.

But that kind of thing disappeared along with the idea that one would perform any kind of self-denial or renunciation as a form of spiritual discipline. Threw out the baby with the bath water.

ScottSA said...

dymphna said:
"But that kind of thing disappeared along with the idea that one would perform any kind of self-denial or renunciation as a form of spiritual discipline. Threw out the baby with the bath water."

I really don't know what became of the flagellants, but I believe it is too sweeping a statement to say that the principle of self-denial as spiritual discipline is gone. Many of the Catholic Orders are based upon vows of silence, poverty and such, and in fact the very premise of celibacy (however well or badly that works in practice) is a form of self-denial.

Dymphna said...

scottsa--

You're talking about professed religious. The flagellants were
"enthusiasts" in the same manner a some evangelicals (reborn and speaking in tongues) are today. The point of the flagellants was not to draw blood, though.

The everyday Christian is no longer familiar with the liturgical year and its cycles of penance and joy. The former (Advent and the more strenuous Lent) were marked by fasting and abstinence and, like Ramadan, every adult Catholic was expected to abide by those rules...at church schools, the hours were punctuated with prayer, including the Angelus at noon...those things have disappeared. Maybe a few "give up" something for Lent, but those people are in the minority.

And I'll bet the old laws about Lent and Advent have disappeared from the contemplative orders to some extent. A generation ago, even the teaching and nursing orders of nuns did not receive or send out mail from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday.

ApollonZamp said...

"But that kind of thing disappeared along with the idea that one would perform any kind of self-denial or renunciation as a form of spiritual discipline."

I think the point D. was trying to make was that in this day and age, it's enough to say "you're sorry" without any form of retribution, penance, etc. to go along with it. There are words but no accompanying behaviors to verify their sincerity.

And Dymphna, if I misread what you said, please feel free to correct me. (It's what you do best, after all.)

Scott said...

Just when you think one's opinion
of the Islamic world could not sink
any lower along comes this:

http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/culture/?id=16142

In brief and I quote:

"A fatwa issued by Egypt's top religious authority which forbids the display of statues has art-lovers fearing it could be used by Islamic extremists as an excuse to destroy Egypt's historical heritage.

Egypt's Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, the country's top Islamic jurist, issued the religious edict which declared as un-Islamic the exhibition of statues in homes, basing the decision on texts in the hadith (sayings of the prophet).[end quoted material]

So was the Taliban an aberration.
Apparently not. One can only hope
that such 'fatwas' as this will
open the eyes of some Egyptians as
to the nature of this 'alien' faith.

I know some Iranians, admittedly no
longer living in Iran, who are
distressed by the Islamization of
their culture.

For crying out loud, Egypt and Iran
were bastions of art, culture and
science thousands of years before
this desert hick Mohammed (LOL) was
born.

Egyptians are going to have to make
a decision now. Are they Egyptians
proud of their ancient civilization
or modern Vandals who destroy that
which they do not understand.

Dymphna said...

Scott --

This is the salafist part of Islam. The Wahhibists are literallly tearing down Mecca -- no shrines allowed. Idolatry, you know.

I think the Muslim Brotherhood is behind the Egyptian fatwa, though I'm not sure.

There is a relentless "urge to purge" the aesthetic sensibility in Islam. The old RC idea, "all for the greater glory of God" is not operant in Islam. It's about behavior, not creating beauty as a reflection of one's God.

If you want to read some beautiful -- and humorous -- Muslim poetry, read Hafiz. 13th or 14th century. Of course he was often persecuted and lots of his poetry is lost. But what remains is glorious. The element of "surrender" in Hafiz is a joyful or ecstatic surrender to love, an acknowledgement that it exists all around us.

But he was a Persian poet in a desert of pillage.

Dymphna said...

apollonzamp--

Yes, you have the penetential aspect of it down. But there was also an element of solidarity with the WHOLE church, the living and the dead. Thus one could operate from the motivation of love of God (surrender), or of offering one's suffering up for those not yet in heaven. It was a tapestry, and the Church found --after the fact -- that the Law of Unintended Consequences went into play when they began removing bits here and there. I think Benedict is restoring some, but in a different direction from his predecessor.

A. Eteraz said...

for what it's worth the shia guys who do matim, do it out of their alleged love of hussain,

those that blew up the towers weren't particularly religious.

so the problem isn't religion, its stupidity

Andre_Szara said...

These "Reavers" must have some oil reserves.

Andre_Szara said...

A. Eteraz,

Regarding the 9-11 hijackers (as well as the 7-7 bombers, the various "Palestinian" terrorists, the Beslan murderers, the be-headers of the Christian school-girls in Indonesia, etc.), if they believed that the holiest act in their religion was to humble, subjugate and destroy the infidel, then I must conclude that they were quite "religious."

ApollonZamp said...

Their religion provides them with "justification" for their acts, as well as giving them a broad base of support for such things.

I don't believe that Muslims are literally Reavers as depicted in the series. But I believe that there is a bloodthirstiness inherent in the teachings of Mohammed and the Koran. In no other major religion is the eradication and/or assimiliation of other religions *required* by the Deity. Only under Islam ("submission") is this the case.

bioqubit said...

"Christian flagellates are extremely rare, if indeed they are still extant (does anyone know if they are? I'm curious..."

There is a "cruicifixion" culture that is alive and well in the Philippines. I'm sure you will find it in other places too.

Muslims are quick to point out that Christians symbolically drink Christ's blood and eat his flesh at least once a week.

Christianity has become more "peaceful", but to Muslims how peaceful can a country dominated by Christianity (the U.S.)be if they were the ones to invent the atomic bomb (along with several Jewish contributors as well; e.g., Oppenheim)(Oh My God, another Christian-Jewish Conspiracy!)

I share the view that Muslims have a unique bloodlust that anticipates the Reavers. Nonetheless, we should be aware of how the Muslims regard Christians as having their own blind spots and hypocrisies.

Even more important, to me, though, is that this puts the lie to the "It's a Small World After All" mentality that led to the "Peace and Love, dude, it's OneWorld" crap. Like Hell, it's "one world". Puhleeeezzzzeeee. The apologists, liberals, democrats, new agers, and all the other useful idiots just don't understand how they are, intentionally or unintentionally, buying into the worst of human behavior by their kneejerk reaction against what they call conservative evils.

jrdroll said...

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Epaminondas said...

I thought I'd seen it all with these putzes.

I likened the ashura festival of blood to running with the bulls in the galactic carnival of stupidity, but that last pic gets us squared away.

I think we can dpend on this-people slicing their kids heads open BELIEVE that if armageddon comes the mahdi comes out of the well, and the slicing and their support for the nimrod ex mayor of Teheran, frankly, amke the enemies worth having in opposition.

Seeing people cut oopen their kids heads ensures that WE know who WE are.

Thanks you abusive zealots, you complete morons committing onbjectively evil acts on your onw children for all the world to see.

Next week's chapter, Aztlan morons make alliance with these sob's and use obsidian knives to cut out the hearts of hostages brought over from Iraq.

Can right and wrong be any more obvious?

Ashura is grand!

Mussolini said...

Nice post, Baron.

ScottSA said...

On the tendency of Islam to wreck art; it comes from the very original fight by M against the Meccan idol worshipers. When he eventually arrived back from Medina and took over the Ka'bah (supposedly Abraham's tomb), he wrecked the idols and plastered over the picture of the virgin Mary.

Unfortunately, like most Islamist actions, the justification is right there in front of us. Coupled with Islam's claim (distinct from the similar but less dogmatic claim by Christians) that the Koran is a revelation STRAIGHT from God rather than interpretive, all of these actions, including killing and warfare, are explicitly sanctioned right from the git go. Whereas apologists can argue that Christianity has done bad things etc, it is impossible to find justification for those things in the New Testament.

IMO that is fundamentally important because it speaks to the pathos and character of the respective religions themselves.

Always On Watch said...

Epaminondas: I likened the ashura festival of blood to running with the bulls in the galactic carnival of stupidity...

Genetic tie there. Many in Spain are descended from the Muslim Moors.

Goesh said...

-lock n' load, they will not stop.

Papa Bear said...

uncle pavian: The thing that always puzzled me about the Reavers was, the "space" part of "space cannibals". How exactly do guys who parade that kind of behavior manage to organize themselves enough to break atmo?

A car-jacker doesn't need to be an automotive engineer. One doesn't need to suspend too much disbelief to assume that spacecraft of the future are automated enough that they can be piloted by people of limited rationality, as in "pick a destination from a star-map and tell the ship to go there and land"

In the Serenity movie, the revelation near the end was that the Reavers were the result of a government experiment gone wrong. The government was testing a "pacification" drug on a planet. The drug was supposed to make people unaggressive. The actual effect on most people was take away their will to live, while on a small percentage it turned them into berserkers (Reavers).

So the Reavers go from planet to planet, slaughtering and in the meanwhile obtaining supplies and fresh ships.

On comparison between the Firefly universe and the present world is that we've made transportation easily accessible to bloody-minded barbarians

Dr. Schmenghs said...

Nice post. I am forced to wonder what a Scientologists' view on this aricle would be..lol

There is no way to stop the bloodthirst in this religion because of the educational system(or lack of for women)that preaches a dominative aproach to the world, and unsympathic positions to those of other beliefs.

Eleanor © said...

This custom is repeated in parts of Mexico and, incredibly, the American Southwest.

Uncle Pavian said...

Thanks for clearing that up, Papa Bear. The Serenity movie never came to our town. Humpback Mountain and Basic Instinct II did; go figger.
And I suppose violence is not always the product of disorganization. The BTK killer in Wichita was by all accounts a pretty organized guy, and John Wayne Gacy was able to run a successful construction business. Even Jeffrey Dahmer managed to hold a real job (something that can't be said for much of the Islamo-fruitcake element, although this is not entirely their own fault).
But to keep this post from being completely off topic, let me pose a question: How many of those guys in the photos had to call in sick to work the next day, and how many didn't have any work to call in to?

Soldier Grrrl said...

I was in Iraq during Ashura (2005), and we were warned that it was something that we would find disturbing. We were also told that we were not, under any circumstances, allowed to interfere in anything we saw happening.

I think it was Dymphna who mentioned that the church calendar is pretty much ignored these days, but as an Orthodox Christian, albeit a very new one, I've seen quite a lot made of the fasting during Lent and the fact that it's a way to discipline the body to control the passions.

RealMenSingSoprano said...

Having read into Islamic history (and being a hardcore browncoat), virtually everything said about Islam being 'bloodthirsty' and 'barbaric' by nature could easily be transferred to other cultures and religions. During the Crusades, the Christians and the Muslims both massacred innocents, and it was a common thing in that time for Christian armies to raid Jewish villages and give the entire village the choice of baptism or the sword. In ancient Judaism, the armies of Israel fought as savagely as any army has fought (is it not written in 1 Samuel 15:3: "Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass"?). To this day, circumcision is performed in Judaism -- is this barbaric? Aren't Jewish fathers very proud when their sons are circumcised? What's wrong with that? I'm not anti-Semite; in fact, I've been described as very philo-semitic. But if you can say that every instance of apparent barbarism in the Middle-eastern Islamic states is nothing short of inherent to the religion (and not, you know, the culture; nowhere does the Qu'ran prescribe female circumcision), then logic dictates we must apply the same ridiculous standards to our own culture. I have actually read much of the Qu'ran and am well-acquainted with early Islamic history. Muhammad was a much more merciful a military leader than, say, Joshua, and took Mecca without shedding any blood (well, during his successful campaign, anyway). While the European Christians were living in mud huts, the Arab Muslims were developing Algebra (hence the name, Al Jabara).

I actually happen to KNOW a Muslim family. Kind, honest people, who have never killed anyone, and have no desire to kill or harm anyone. If they were to see this page, they would probably find it highly amusing. How many people here have asked a Muslim to describe the "spiritual Jihad" to him/her? The Muslims our culture is so fond of criticizing are the ones who live in a completely different culture from ours; the violent ones are a minority of the population, just as the KKK represents a tiny minority of Christians. That minority of people is more like Reavers than the entire body of either.

It would be entirely un-Christian of me to say that Muslims by virtue of their religion are less than human... which is what the article intended, I presume, by placing pictures of cultural rites side-by-side with them Reavers, which, it might be argued, en't men. But one might just as well place a picture of the Reaver splitting his tongue in the episode "Bushwacked" side by side with a picture of a Rabbi circumcising an infant... not entirely fair. Or kind. Or charitable. Or honest.

VinceP1974 said...

Realmens: Why are you boring us with the "Ignorant Leftist Response to Truth Telling about Islam"?

Do you REALLY think we haven't heard your non-sequiter non-responses before?

What is it with people likee you that you can't stick to the topic?

The topic is Islam.. not the other religions that you don't know anything about.

I bet you didn't even go to college

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

OKay, is it worth answering something from almost a year ago? Computer says yes...

RealMenSingSoprano (nice sentiment, by the way... like they said in that Robin Hood spoof, you have to be a real man to wear tights ;) )

Lets start going backwards, as with Out of Gas (or that lovely film Memento).

First, circumcision has proven medical benefits (unlike the female version) which you can find with just a rudimentary search on the ol internet. I personally wouldn't consider them enough of a reason to do it, myself... whereas bilking your own child over the head with a sharp knife is generally known as child abuse.

Muslims are not, by simple dint of being muslims, less than human, but Islam tends to preserve inhumane practices by giving them the tacit approval of Allah. Yes, FMG is not specifically mentioned in the koran but it is now practised throughout the majority of the islamic world; first by being preserved by the islamic culture and then spread around by it. The burkha is not mentioned in the koran either, and is actually much older than Islam, but it is now called a muslim religious symbol for the same reason as FMG being so prevelant: islam fossilised the culture it was from and then harmonised the other cultures within its sphere with that.

You mention "al jebra". I see this one brought up now and then, the idea that Islam invented mathematics. It didn't. Oh it certainly preserved and translated pre-existing texts but it didn';t add anything new to them. Al Jabara was a man who put his name to a translation of a packet of mathematical treatises from India, where complex mathematical theorems were being postulated before Mohammed was even nibbling mushrooms in the valleys around Mecca, before even the birth of Jesus.

Mohammed was not, as you claim, merciful. He did slaughter an entire village on the suspicion that one of them might have tried to poison him. He regularly had jews killed simply for being jews. Remember this is the man held up as the "perfect man", the model for all Muslims to emulate.

Yes this is comparable to the actions of the church, but those actions are contrary to christian scripture, whereas islamic barbarity is condoned by theirs. All you have to do is look at the source: Mohammed compared to Christ. Jesus is held up as the example for Christians to emulate. A man who did not kill, did not lust, or pursue his own enrichment at the expense of others, did not hate, and did not command his followers to kill people who rejected him. Mohammed, in contrast, had many wives, pursued his campaigns primarily to gather up and hored huge amounts of wealth for himself and had an annoying tendency to have people murdered for disagreeing with his statements. And muslims are proud of this behaviour.

And yes, the hebrew testament contains a lot of violence, but the key as has been repeatedly pointed out here and elsewhere is that these scriptures are primarily the historical account of the conquest of Canaan, whereas the majority of the calls to violence in the Koran are open-ended and unlimited in their scope. "Fight the unbeliever" and "Slay them wherever you find them" verses "kill every man woman and child in the city I have given to you". Violent, yes, but limited in scope to a single city, at a single time. The very necessity for such violence was removed with the sacrifice of Jesus. The old testament in such areas is more for historical context, the history of the people from which our saviour arose, not a manual for our behaviour. We christians should follow Christ and his words, understanding the context within which they were spoken. The fact that many who profess to be christians don't do so is a terrible thing, but their actions do not reflect on the nature of Christ, no more than the good actions of your muslim friends demonstrate the good nature of Mohammed, their perfect model of a man. If they are not pursuing a life as he would have had them pursue it, they are rejecting Mohammed and his teachings, just as those so-called christians in the crusades who went out of their way to convert villages by the sword - directly opposing the very core of Christs's message - were rejecting Jesus and his teachings.

HumbleNarrator said...

Okay, the last comment was a while ago, but I feel like the ridiculousness of this blog needs to be discussed. All of this discussion is (I suppose) based on the assumption that there is only one kind of Muslim.
To begin with, that picture of the man with his kid annoys the hell out of me. The child is obviously in no distress whatsoever, and no cutting edge of that knife is touching him. His father may be guilty of smearing someone else's blood on his child, but not of cutting him.
You may have never met a real Muslim (your post suggests that this is true), but there are huge numbers of them that are in no way bloodthirsty, and they have not DENIED Mohammed anymore than Christians have denied Jesus. I spent a 6-hour plane ride with several hundred Hajjis, men and women coming back from the pilgrimage to Mecca. You can't say that people who undertake such a journey are denying their faith: and one couple I spoke to were from Texas, hardly exotic foreigners.
Now, my grandfather (yes, I am related to him) is a white, american man. His name is Lex Hixon. However, another name that he took on during his life was Sheikh Nur Al-Jerahi. He was the Sheikh of a muslim mosque, and a Sufist. Sufism has been spoken about by a leading Islamic scholar as the inner or more esoteric dimensions of Islam. Part of the teachings include the idea that humans are divine, that all religions can be paths to true God realization, and the idea that we are manifestations of God. Does this sound bloodthirsty to you? Obviously there is a large population of those who practice Islam in violent ways, but let's talk about that.
Islam, at the cultural context of its beginning, is a religion that started during a time of war. The Muslim empire was enormous, larger than the Roman empire, stretching from the middle east, to africa, to Spain. The violent aspects of Islam are the religion's way of dealing with a society that was constantly expanding, much of the time at war. In the same way, the more violent sections of the Bible are cultural ways of dealing with conflict, of justifying the actions of people engaged in struggles for existence or expansion. However, at its CORE, like Christianity, Islam teaches God's love, love of all humans, and a deep gratitude for life.
Mohammed was a man leading his people to greatness, bringing them out of the nomadic, impoverished existence they had endured for so long. Jesus was a man who lived during a time when his people were under the heel of the Roman Empire. He could no more have fought back than any other Jew at that time. Times of war breed men who are great in war, times when war is not possible breed men who use speech as a weapon. And we need the Mohammeds as we need the Christs, the Pattons as much as we need the Martin Luther Kings.

Gryffilion said...

Rather than address your entire comment, which I feel the Baron and Dymphna do on a regular basis on this blog, I am merely going to address your misreading of my statements. You say in your first paragraph: "You may have never met a real Muslim (your post suggests that this is true), but there are huge numbers of them that are in no way bloodthirsty..."

Perhaps you missed the passage where I said:

"Are all Muslims savage self-immolators? No, of course not. But this fascination with spilling blood seems to be an Islamic theme, and it appears to pervade Muslim culture and history."

You could perhaps disagree with the assertion in the second part of the last sentence, but I made pains to avoid the inevitable accusations that would come, i.e., "You think all Muslims are bloodthirsty savages!" I don't. I think Islam gives bloodthirsty savages legitimacy in a way that neither Christianity nor Judaism does.

As for whether or not that child is in distress--"His father may be guilty of smearing someone else's blood on his child, but not of cutting him"--please. Let's not grasp at straws here. Adhocracies never did an argument any good.

Gryffilion said...

Correction: in my last comment, I perhaps should have said "supposed legitimacy" or used the always popular Reuters-esque scare quotes.

HumbleNarrator said...

My point wasn't to suggest that you thought all Muslims were savages, I probably misstated myself. My issue was more with the suggestion that Islam condones bloodshed more, as a religion, than Judaism or Christianity. Simply put, it's a matter of cultural context. All of these religions have within them the potential to legitimize the wrongful shedding of blood, the question is just whether the culture or government at the time will give that potential a voice.

Judaism has never been a bloodthirsty religion, but much of their recorded history has been a story of persecution. The actual state of Israel is an incredibly efficient martial state: everyone serves in the army, and they have some of the best fighters in the world. But I digress...

Christians (especially those in power) in the Middle Ages committed some horrible atrocities in the name of God. Was this necessarily because they were Christian? No. But the culture at the time was one of primitive barbarism. European culture was full of torture, bear-baiting for fun, murder, hatred, and racism. Those who ruled simply gave their deeds a Christian spin to legitimize them. While Christians were constantly fighting amongst themselves, wallowing in Medieval savagery, the Muslim world was a beacon of culture and civilization.

Now, the tables have turned, to some extent: the historically Christian countries are highly civilized, and mostly free, while dictators rule many Muslim states. These dictators have manipulated the potential inherent to all three of these religions for legitimizing violence, and used it to make themselves feel right. When looking at Shi'as and Sunnis, fighting, we shouldn't judge so harshly, considering that, once, Spain and England fought violently, for the stated reason that one was Protestant, the other Catholic.

As for the picture of the kid, I'm not really making that a pillar of my argument, it just seemed something that a number of people had commented on with disgust, and I was saying that the man's actions were not simply of wanton cruelty. And while we're on statements that don't really pertain to the argument, what is more sacred than blood? Jews painted blood on their doors to protect themselves from the angel of death, Christians symbolically drink blood as a sacrament, and Muslims (some of them) believe that the shedding of blood is a sacred act (I don't disagree with any of those ideas). Also, I don't know if you believe in a god or not, but let's be honest, the God that these three religions are talking about is the same god.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

This thread keeps popping up on my RSS feed.

okay siple:

Also, I don't know if you believe in a god or not, but let's be honest, the God that these three religions are talking about is the same god.

Wrong. The god of Islam is actually the moon god of the ancient Arab pantheon, not the god Yahweh, or however you refer to it. Generally associated with Set and Baal.

I'm not sure what your other point is either. Are you saying that, because we were once violent, we cannot criticise others for violence now? The ritualised sacrament of christianity is no way comparable to the actual letting of a child's blood. One is an excuse to drink a bit of wine, the other is ritualised violence against a child. The man's actions are simply wanton cruelty, the fact that they have a religious disguise doesn't lessen that, nor does it justify it.

The jews say the life is in the blood, which is one of the reasons for kashrut and why you won't see a jew eating a boiled egg. Letting the blood lets out the life of a creature. Bloodletting as a ritual is about extracting life from something. If that man is bleeding his child, therefore, is he not ritually leeching the life from him? How is that not cruelty?

HumbleNarrator said...

Ya know, we've been over this before: if that child was actually bleeding that much, it would be in severe pain. Since the child is obviously showing no signs of discomfort, and since no cutting edge of the knife is touching him, I doubt he's actually been cut. It just pisses me off that this picture is a quarter of the basis for this comparison, and it's not even a picture of what its claimed to be. I'm not comparing ritualised blood drinking to the letting of a child's blood, because he is not letting a child's blood.

I'm not saying we can't criticize violence in others now. Violence is never an acceptable act, and should never be justified. However, it seemed to me that in saying that Christianity is somehow LESS violent in nature ignores hundreds of years of cruelty and barbarism.

I don't believe that either of these religions are, at their core, violent or bloodthirsty. By the way, I simply say they are the same God because Muslims recognize Jesus Christ as a prophet, saying that he saw the light of god, and simply misinterpreted it to some extent.

And, if you really want to take this back farther, ALL of these gods, IF they are indeed different, are tribal gods. God, Yahweh, Allah... they are all ancient gods, gods that were given more stature and power as the tribes that worshipped them grew in prominence. The fact that we aren't worshipping Baal today is due to the fact that the tribe that worshipped "God" gained dominance.

The life is in the blood. True words. Therefore, it seems to me that the act of letting one's own blood, as those men in the picture are doing, is a relatively selfless act of sacrifice, a symbolic laying down of one's life for your beliefs. Not to be too "out there" for you, but it's a bit Christ-like, sacrificing one's self.

Lucidus Animus said...

Organized, formalistic religion is bad. Spiritualism is pretty much all we have. No guidelines besides your own moral observations and reservations.

That being said, this is extremism. Extremism is somewhat more common in Islam than in Christianity, however, it isn't the root of all extremism. These dark tendencies are aspects of the macabre side of human nature and thought, unleashed by a lack of personal accountability-- religions of all sorts remove personal accountability when they ask a god to lead your life. A god, as far as is provable, is a figment.

So basically, religion or any other force that nullifies your inhibition to do things that aren't in accordance with a compassionate, observation-based, logical manner is an ultimate evil. Our free will and ability to bridle our animalistic sides is what makes us human. That's what Joss Whedon (Firefly's creator) revealed in Serenity. Muslims are not Reavers. There is no great battle to be had in Europe or anywhere between religions and anyone trying to start or fight one based on religion is evil.

The glorification of martyrdom is bad. Extremism in general is bad. Run your own life. Don't let Jesus or Allah or anyone but you run it for you. Because that's when people get hurt and die. Keep your free will free.

Gryffilion said...
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Gryffilion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gryffilion said...

[Last try, really. I promise.]

So basically, religion or any other force that nullifies your inhibition to do things that aren't in accordance with a compassionate, observation-based, logical manner is an ultimate evil.

I would agree with that. Because I would agree with that, I would take issue with part of this statement:

Muslims are not Reavers.

As I said earlier in my post, not all Muslims are Reavers. However, the Muslims that are being "forced" (we could argue all day about the semantics of that word--another time, perhaps?) "to do things that aren't in accordance with a compassionate, observation-based, logical manner" are Reavers. They rape, torture, murder, and otherwise desecrate human bodies, living and dead. They desecrate the very nature of humanity.

(As a side note: it is even possible to argue the similitude further, with the virulent plague of violent Islamism being the Paxalon Hydrochlorate ("Pax") that spurs ordinary people to do horrific things.)

I believe the facts speak for themselves. You can look at the images of Muslims beheading, torturing, shooting, maiming, and otherwise reveling in the acts of violence they commit, and proclaim that this is no different from the IDF shooting Palestinians (often terrorists) or Christian fundies shooting abortion doctors. The conclusions you draw are your own. If I may quote myself again, it's up to the people watching to decide if they want to cover their heads and insist that monsters are not real.

Gryffilion said...

To HumbleNarrator:

It just pisses me off that this picture is a quarter of the basis for this comparison, and it's not even a picture of what its claimed to be.

There's a guy holding a bloody knife to the bloody head of a child and you're criticizing me for drawing the obvious conclusion? To quote John Solomon, "I'm lollin' eye-arr-ell over here, I really am."

Therefore, it seems to me that the act of letting one's own blood, as those men in the picture are doing, is a relatively selfless act of sacrifice, a symbolic laying down of one's life for your beliefs. Not to be too "out there" for you, but it's a bit Christ-like, sacrificing one's self.

Christ bled for others' sins, that no one would ever have to bleed for them again. Those men, on the other hand, bleed every year for...I'm not sure, a re-enactment? So no, I wouldn't say there's anything Christlike about it. Points for effort, though.