Friday, March 10, 2006

Attacks on Lipstadt for references to Armenian genocide: Part 2

I am not looking for any kudos for the little I have done.

At the risk of being accused of "protesting too much," I don't want folks to think I am looking for praise. I am not.

I just wonder why that attacks?

Now I shall go back to enjoying the beauty of Florence, where I am lectuing on Monday p.m.


Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

I am slowly beginning to be convinced that Muslims and Nazis share one trait -- don't be quoting the Godwin rule at me until you read to the end -- that unlike other religious and political movements, good or bad, that attempt to 'change reality' the Nazis and the Muslims are the only ones who have attempted to 'define reality.' And therefore they have to attack anyone who challenges their definition.

Deborah Lipstadt said...

Whoa Jim. Be careful of painting with such a broad brush. When you say "Muslims" you are accusing a lot of very different people of having one unified world view. You might want to differ with Muslim extremists or "Islamists," but to condemn everyone is to engage, it seems to me, in the same kind of thing that many people are tyring to fight.

Furthermore, I think the attacks on me were coming from Armenians who are certainly not Muslims.

But be careful of such broad generalizations.

Angry Anarchist said...

Dear Dr. Lipstadt,

I call on you to apologize for the unbased claims you made about alleged e-mails that I sent you, which in fact did not, or if you insist that such e-mails were sent by me, produce solid proof. My previous comments to you about your concern with preserving the uniqueness of the Jewish Holocaust (that does not mean that I'm accusing you of denying the Armenian Holocaust) were not attacks, but criticisms. You took it as destructive criticism, and that's your problem not mine. I call on you to look at things not just from a Jewish perspective but from a human one. Each and every Holocaust is indeed unique, but all share one thing: hatred and mass murder based on race or religion or ethnicity. As such, it is wrong to place distinctions in terminology between for example the Jewish Holocaust (capital letter) and the Armenian genocide (small letter, and not called holocaust). I would say the same to Armenians who would try to minimize other Holocausts and massacres, for example the Bosnian one and the one at Khojaly in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

I'll reply to your comments on my post separately, but first, I'm confused. I can see that Turks would complain if you DID mention the Armenian genocide, and Armenians would complain if you DIDN'T. But you say you DID mention it, and yet it was Armenians complaining. Maybe I'm just missing something here.

Deborah Lipstadt said...

To Mr. Anarchist Revolution is Coming: I don't think I have anything to apologize for, so sorry I can't help you in that regard.

To Prup:
You have every right to be confused, though, as I think about it, it's probably rather fruitless to try to sort this all out.

I think some people just feel the need to attack...

Angry Anarchist said...

That's MISS, not MR.

Please see the following response. And next time please do not shift the discourse to something that I did not even argue about! And since when did I count as ArmenianS (plural)?

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Now a very long post about my previous comments, and I apologize for the length, but I think the topic is important enough to merit it.

First, I DID misspeak when I said "Muslims' and "Nazis.' I should have said "Islam" and "Nazism." A belief is not the same as its believers, of course. And while I am not trying to push this comparison further than the original point I made, it is probably true that there were Nazis -- and it is certainly true that there were those who originally voted for Hitler -- who did so because they believed in German nationalism, thought Hitler would help the economy, and who were either only mildly anti-Semitic and never foresaw the Holocaust, or who weren't anti-Semitic at all, and figured that while they thought Hitler was a little nuts on the subject of Jews, he was right on other topics.

But as for Islam, I stand by my statement. And, ironically, a few months ago, had I seen someone else post a similar statement, I would have replied much as you did.

But, after some months of watching the news, reading the posts of Muslims, both 'moderate' and 'extremist,' watching the MEMRI tapes -- or reading transcripts, since i do not speak Arabic -- and reading the Qur'an, I have come to a position similar to that of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Irshad Manji, Ibn Warriq, Taslima Nasrin, and most recently Dr. Wafa Sultan. Each of them, raised Muslim, have come to believe that the problem is NOT a small (or large) group of extremists, that the problem is inherent in Islam itself. (Of the people mentioned, only Manji sees the possibility of an Islamic Reformation. The others have rejected Islam entirely.)

One problem that I believe many people have in coming to grips with this is their assumption that the "Spectrum of Belief' is similar in Islam as it is in Christianity or Judaism. In those religions, the Specturm can be described -- the numbers are meant illustratively, not literally, as

20% Fundamentalist/Literalist
20% Conservative (accepting the sacred text as God-given, but accepting that there are some errors and myths)
15% Liberal (seeing the text as predominantly man-made but expressing the idea of God the believers accept)
10% Cultural (accepting the religion as part of their culture or traditions, but more accepting the rituals as a bonding with that tradition than seeing it as 'true.' This proportion is probably higher in Judaism because of the Holocaust and Judaism's 'ethnic' component)
30% secular (claiming membership in the religion, maybe attending the 'great ceremonies' but not seeing it as part of their day to day lives -- "Christmas and Easter Christians" or "Passover and Yom Kippur Jews")
5% rejectionist (atheist/agnostic/'spiritual' but not believers in the religion)

(I must stress that these are 'theological positions, and that there are wide variations both in interpretation and in social and political positions within each group.)

But the Islamic spectrum is different, mostly because there has been no Islamic Reformation. I recall that many Muslims complained, when there was condemnation of "Islamic Fundamentalism" in the media, that this was wrong, because 'all Muslims are Fundamentalists.'

This is not true, of course. But in Islam, the 'conservative' and 'liberal' points of view are the true 'small minorities' -- though over-represented in the 'blogosphere.' I'd argue that a more accurate 'Spectrum of Belief' in Islam is the following -- and again I repeat that there are wide variations within each division.

50% Fundamentalist/Literalist
5% (at most) Conservative and Liberal combined
10% Customary/Cultural
25% Secular
10% Rejectionist

Furthermore, there are differences in the way the three religions view their 'sacred texts' which affects the way they think.

Neither Christians nor Jews see their texts as 'the final, unchangable revelation dictated by God to their prophet' as Islam does.

Few C or J see their text as a blueprint for all of life. Nor are these religions -- any more -- involved with specific polities. (Israel is a secular state, after all, and few Catholics would support the Syllabus of Errors that condemned Democracy. And while some F/L Protestants seem to confuse religion and the Republican Party, few would, if asked, accept this as a theological position.)

Another important point is that, for F/L and Conservative Christians, at least, hell is seen as 'where sinners go.' For Muslims it is -- as is repeated endlessly in the Qur'an -- 'where Unbelievers go.' It is a subtle but important difference.

For the other religions, if a member rejects the religion, it is viewed as a problem between him and God. In Islam this is only true if he 'keeps silent' about his change in beliefs. Attempting to convince others is a serious transgression. "Extremists" view it as being punishable by death, but even 'secular' Muslim governments have imprisoned writers and scholars and forced them to divorce their wives for apostasy.

(Then there is the reported case of Dr. Sulieman Brashear who, while remaining a Muslim, found through his researches that Islam had developed over time and not 'sprung full-blown' from Mohammed's forehead. His colleagues at the University of Nablus are reliably said to have settled the dispute with him by throwing him out a second-story window.)

And, sadly, the Qur'an does contain ugliness, at least in Western eyes. There is considerable misogyny in it -- it contains NO verse directed specifically at women, who are always 'they', not you -- women are ordered to be subject to their husbands and must obey them, and they ARE permitted to be beaten. (As The United Nation Population Fund (UNFP) in its State of World Population 2005 report found:
In Egypt, 94 percent of women thought it was acceptable to be beaten, as did 91 percent in Zambia.)

(There is misogyny in the other sacred texts, but it is softened by stories of noble, heroic women. Not in the Qur'an)

There is NO equivalent to the Qur'anic injunction:
“Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allaah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allaah and His Messenger (Muhammad), (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued”

or the command to kill the unbeliever wherever he is found.

There is also nothing like the insistence that 'unbelievers' REALLY know the 'the truth' and are simply refusing to become Muslims out of 'envy' or a wish to do evil. (Unbelievers, in the Qur'an are, by definition, evil and acting from evil motives.) Or, similarly, that the entire non-Muslim world is occupied in 'scheming' to keep Islam down.

(This paranoia, coupled with the gullibility that fundamentalism/literalism always brings, can readily spread beyond strictly religious bounds. Not only do Muslims frequently refuse to believe reports of such as 9/11 and other evil acts by Muslims -- 'no Muslim would do something like that' -- but, as an example, many Muslims are sure the Moon lnding was a Hollywood-produced hoax.

All of this combines to produce the effect I mentioned. The 'Muslim reality' is so different from that of the West. The Qur'an was NOT dictated by Allah. Mohammed was not the perfect human being. Sharia law does not work when applied. Muslim governments usually do not work well for their own people and are corrupt. Next to the West, the Muslim world IS backwards, and that is lessened only because they make use of Western technology. No modern society -- including Muslim ones -- can work without interest-charging banks. Etc.

But accepting these facts would mean challenging the tenets of their religion, which they cannot do without risking both the carefully described tortures of hell and civil punishments. All they can do are two things. One is to insist that the reason for the failures is that the people were not being Islamic ENOUGH -- the solution for the failure of Islam in political terms is MORE Islam.

And finally it is to impose their reality on the rest of the world rather than to accept the reality that causes them to doubt. And they do, violently, if necessary.

Deborah Lipstadt said...

To Miss Anarchist is Coming, I apologize for mistaking your gender.

Please note that I said nothing about deleting anything from my blog. I have deleted a number of emails attacking me on this topic.

But be that as it may, I have no desire to spend any more time in "conversation" on this matter.


Deborah Lipstadt said...

To Prup:
I have to spend some time digesting your email. Just from skimming it, I see that you seem to be making an argument voiced by others.

Thanks for taking the time to explain your point.

John said...

This is a standard operating procedure for most turkish genocide deniers that constitue a majority of the turks elite.

They aim has always been to intimidate and suppress even the mention of this subject hoping the memory will eventually fade away. In their own mind this would constitute the final victory over the infidels.

their national psyche is one of aggression and intimidation and might makes right attitude right out of the islamic middle ages.

Unfortunately peoples in the west cannot even imagine the sheer evil that the all christians i.e. greeks assyrians armenians, bulgarians etc. etc, had to endure for centuries under the turkish yoke. Sometimes I dare my friends to try to read even a few paragraphs of independent eyewitness accounts of many massacres that took place through the centuries long slavery at the hands of turks.