Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A Personal Essay on The Perils of Blogging: Be Not Afraid

Note to self: sometimes you have to stare at the truth whether you want to or not. Simply closing the window on whatever dreadful blather is on the screen does not make it go away.

Little Green Footballs has a commentary up on an essay from Media Monitors with a dateline from last Saturday.

The author of this screed, Yamin Zakaria, goes to great length to explain why women are better off in Islam. Here are some of the comparisons used to explain the plight of Western women:

a).The Islamic Veil (Hijab) or the Bikini
b).Polygamy or Sexual Freedom (Promiscuity)
c).Freedom of Choice and Enforcement
d).Gender Equality or Gender Harmony

There is so much untruth, twisted thinking and chasms of logic that it's hard to get one's mind around this essay. Each paragraph is a gem of distortion.

Little Green Footballs notes that author of this screed has a PhD in Chemistry. It certainly can't be in rhetoric; Zakaria presents two extremes of each example and leaves out the entire center -- the "excluded middle"-- of his/her supposedly logical argument. This moderate center between two extremes is where the truth can be found. That is , if the author were searching for the truth, which does not appear to be the case. For example, the opening sentence below sets up the Western point of view:
    Muslim women are imprisoned, denied choices under the Islamic laws while the emancipated Western women are free, having endless choices.
Here, the straw man has been set up: the "supposedly emancipated" Western woman. Next comes the sad consequences of choice ("endless choices" ):
    But what are those choices and what is the implication for the society if the individuals are given those choices. Choice is not intrinsically a virtue, it can bring chaos, and if incorrect choices are made than it causes more harm than good.
By this reasoning, better to have others make your choices for you just to avoid the consequences of bad ones. Choice that "can bring chaos" is obviously something a woman needs to be protected from. And then comes the West-bashing clincher:
    As an example, from an Islamic perspective the huge flesh industry made up of porn and prostitution is viewed as exploitation and degradation of women. The West would reply by stating that those women decided of their own free will to pursue a career in that industry.
Does the author go on from here to describe the flesh peddled throughout the Middle East? Does he/she mention the girls sold in the streets of Iran every day? Is there any exposition of the daughters sold in marriage in Afghanistan -- a 'choice' often imposed by poverty and exacerbated by Islamic code? Honor killings? The overtly stated inferiority of women in the Koran?

Noooo. And the reader knows why because the whole point the author wishes to make is laid out in the first paragraph, last sentence:
    The issue (woman's rights) is predominantly raised to attack Islam and Muslims, even though it may be more applicable to other religions and cultures - indicating the ulterior motive behind the issue is one of making political gains against adversaries and not the furthering of the welfare of womankind.
The whole essay is written in the same spirit of diatribe, of arguments based on extremes, of self-righteous posing behind a cardboard history. Its author delineates what he/she sees as the weaknesses of Western culture while avoiding completely the problems Muslim women face. If you contemplate a Muslim woman's "choices" this is a painful essay to read, reminiscent of the propaganda the Nazis once wrote about the Jews.

And speaking of Jews, Zakaria's opinion is as equally predictable about them as it is about Western women:
    After centuries of prospering as Dhimmis…ironically, they {Jews} are now engaged in a campaign to distort history and denigrate the very people who gave them protection. Instead of pogroms, ethnic cleansing and holocausts, the Jews experienced the golden age in Andalusia (Islamic Spain) under the Muslim rule, an era unparalleled in their 5000+ years of history.
How's that for a breathtaking view of history?

Thus, we circle back to the beginning of this post:

Note to self: sometimes you have to stare at the truth whether you want to or not. Simply closing the window on whatever dreadful blather is on the screen does not make it go away.

So this is what happened on Saturday when I first read Zakaria's contorted explanations for the cruel treatment of Muslim women: I simply closed the window and went on to something less painful to contemplate. This served no one very well. Didn't help Muslim women, didn't make the essay really go away, and it let a disgusting piece of false piety and arrogant self-righteousness stand without protest.

This morning someone sent a hat tip re LGF's fisking of the essay. My heart sank. My cowardice stood exposed very clearly as I realized I'd done this before -- i.e., turned away from something too painful to find the moral energy to fisk. And Zakaria's willful blindness is painful indeed as one realizes the implications of such thinking.

As LGF points out, this person is well-educated. If education, especially in the sciences, does not bring clarity, what will? If it leaves the educated person in the moral sinkhole this author seems to inhabit, from whence comes our hope?

But that particular belief is our own Western bias; we think that the educated will lead us. We have bought the advertisements of the university conglomerates. At great expense we send our children to them, believing they will learn wisdom and truth. We believe this in spite of our experience with the 'educated' elites of this generation. This generation of vipers.

The educated created, planned and carried out 9/11.

Note to self: next time, fisk it.


Jude the Obscure said...

Dymphna: The women get the first half of (a),(b),(c),(d) and the men get the second: wear what they want, sexual promiscuity, enforcement and gender harmony therefrom. That must be a Muslim definition of share and share alike.
I read Ali Sina's debate with Zakaria on freedomfaith.org - did you see the kiss? Yech!
Zakaria's PhD in chemistry? From which Uni? Test him at a reputable Uni and see how it stands up.
Finally - a German Pope??? Interesting.

Yashmak said...

"Does the author go on from here to describe the flesh peddled throughout the Middle East? Does he/she mention the girls sold in the streets of Iran every day?"

To add to this line of thinking. . .
Does the author describe the thousands upon thousands of young Middle-Eastern men who are sent to western institutes of higher learning, frequently with advice from their father to "spread their wild oats"? It seems a bizaare practice, but in small private college, my fraternity included most (if not all) of the Middle-Easterners in the entire student body. Many were quite . . .outgoing. . .with members of the opposite sex.

Dymphna said...

Zakaria probably got his PhD honestly enough. As studies have shown, Islamists and Al Queda members have large representations from among the sciences. Scientism can be a kind of faith.

"Gender harmony" was probably my favorite fairy-land description of the relations between Muslim men and women. I remember well the first time my abusive, paranoid *former* husband showed up in therapy. His first proclamation, while pointing to me, was directed at the therapist: "I don't know what's wrong with her marriage; mine is fine."

Betcha a lot of Muslim husbands would cluelessly say the same thing.

Jude the Obscure said...

But did you see The Kiss?