Racism and homophobia

In my previous article at MercatorNet I was labelled more insidious than a Southern Baptist preacher. I don’t know much about Southern Baptist preachers, so in all honesty I’m not sure if that makes me very insidious, or just a little. But given the tone of the debate, it seemed about time to reflect a little more deeply on the nature of our intellectual disagreements:

many people believe that a hidden or clandestine animosity or prejudice is the underlying motive of people who oppose or dissent from various aspects of the LGB agenda.

In my case it means that although I state I am sceptical of how the concepts of sexual orientation and sexual identity are constructed, and I am therefore sceptical of derivative phenomena like same-sex marriage, some people will nonetheless argue that I am secretly motivated by animosity and prejudice toward homosexuality – that I am in fact homophobic…

Dispassionate thinkers should be able to see both sides and understand the nature of the disagreement. But most of us are not dispassionate thinkers, and the public debate is littered with activists on both sides. Non-activists, like pacifists in the middle of a war-zone, are liable to take fire regardless of their motives and intentions.

Disavowals of homophobia will not satisfy activists who lack the capacity or the will to understand the real points of contention. But if those of us who disagree with the LGBT movement are to remain dispassionate thinkers, then we can’t blame them for this failing either.

http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/racism-and-homophobia/18334

 

Islam, terrorism, and the Westboro Baptists

I’ve been trying to steer clear of references to the Westboro Baptist Church because it does get dragged out as the half-baked Christian equivalent of “Islamic extremism”. But in replying to comments on my latest article at MercatorNet, I think the comparison is apt:

Why have Muslims not spoken out in criticism of terrorists who give Islam a bad name? That’s a very good question, and a very complicated question, because – as I’ve been suggesting – Islam is diverse and complicated.

I’m sure we can agree that some Muslims have criticised the terrorists. You don’t have to search far on the web to find examples. Why do these criticisms not seem sufficient? Perhaps because we do not understand the situation well enough? Perhaps we imagine that if all the Muslims stood up and protested against terrorism, it would end?

And I can appreciate your point, given that we have never seen worldwide protests by Muslims against the Jihadists. Hence the suspicion that they are secretly sympathetic to the Jihadists’ aims.

However, my suspicion is that for the majority of Muslims, Western perceptions of Islam are not as salient as they are for us. Let me offer an analogy: when the Westboro Baptist Church appears on the tv news in Australia, I find that people without much understanding of Christianity interpret it as merely the worst instance of fundamentalist Christian insanity in the US, and the onus is on other Christians to disavow them and their declarations of animosity toward homosexuality.

Actual Christians tend to respond differently – not with expressions of contempt and criticism for the WBC, but with criticism and contempt for the media, for presenting the WBC as though they are anything more than a bizarre little fringe group. In other words, they don’t blame the WBC for giving Christians a bad name, they blame the media for being so ignorant as to portray the WBC as Christians. They actually think the media reports of the WBC are indicative of deeper anti-Christian sentiment.

So when someone asks a Catholic, for example, “do you think ‘God hates fags'”? The answer is of course “no.” But then the follow-up question is something like “so you’re in favour of same-sex marriage then?” and the answer is “no” again; leaving some people with the impression that Catholics really do think that God hates homosexuals, they just don’t have the guts or the brazenness to admit it openly like the WBC and other such groups.

Very few people are willing or able to get involved in the more complex philosophical or theological discussion that goes to the heart of distinctions between different Christian denominations and their attitudes to homosexuality.

What I’m interested in is the detailed and complex discussions that take place within Islam; because I’m not content to persist with superficial dichotomies that don’t reward us with real understanding of the situation.

I suspect, but am yet to verify, that for many Muslims the equation of terrorism with Islam is primarily the preoccupation of Westerners who have from the outset only a dim understanding of Islam, and who view Jihadism as only the most extreme reflection of ubiquitous Islamic sentiments. We’re effectively saying “I think you’re all terrorists at heart; can you prove you’re not?”

The fact is that like the Catholic/WBC example, we may find the truth is not to our liking anyway. We probably don’t want to hear from various branches of Islam that: no, they do not support terrorism, but at the same time they do view our society as godless, decadent, and ultimately destined to convert or collapse. How well do you think that would go over?

Most Islamic nations have far bigger problems on their hands than bad press in the West. In that sense I’m not surprised that ordinary Muslims around the globe do not try harder to reassure us they do not support Salafi Jihadists.

If only my music were popular…

Throwcase has posted a passionate and entertaining condemnation of a set of cliches pertaining to the popularity of classical music.

Classical music has always been the music of the educated classes, but today, despite the much more equal distribution of education in first world society, it is seen by many as stuffy, irrelevant and unappealing

This is so offensively stupid I can hardly contain my rage. Saying that other people see it a certain way does not constitute an argument. It does not represent a truth. It is a useless, pointless, meaningless thing to say. If Clive thinks it is stuffy, he should say so, and not hide behind the views of others. If he thinks it is not really stuffy, he should say so, and help dispel a misconception. Quoting what he perceives to be an established view merely reinforces a worthless bit of gossip.


http://throwcase.com/2015/01/20/the-golden-shower-of-musicology/

I’ve been meaning to write something on the chant, and this piece by Throwcase has reminded me of similar debates that erupt in the context of liturgical music – a domain perhaps even more fraught than classical music, where misinformation and prejudice mean that an ancient and beautiful musical tradition has been simply abandoned in favour of typically inappropriate, often second-rate pop/folk music.

Dangerous Aussie Fauna

Dtcwee responds to the Sydney Siege with his characteristic yearning for the bigger picture:

Consider that threatening or causing injury (i.e. terrorism) is a crime likely punishable by imprisonment.

81% of Australia’s prisoner population is Australian born.

Although this reflects in part the greater proportion of Australia’s population born locally (72.3%), the Australian born imprisonment rate – prisoners per 100,000 population – is comparatively high compared with those from other countries.

http://dtcwee.blogspot.jp/2014/12/i-knew-you-were-trouble.html

I always knew the locals were a bit suss. But surely this only reflects good old fashioned true blue Aussie varieties of crime? What could be more Australian than ‘acts intended to cause injury’ and ‘dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons’? Might as well criminalise binge-drinking and morbid obesity.