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The Inevitable False Equivalency

September 8th, 2015

Davis-StanleyIt was bound to happen: with Kim Davis, conservatives found their false equivalency.

Charee Stanley, a Muslim flight attendant working for ExpressJet, converted to Islam a year after she started working as a flight attendant. A year after that, she learned that she was prohibited by her faith not just to drink alcohol, but to serve it as well. She asked the airline for exemption from the duty of serving alcohol, and the airline reasonably accommodated her.

The accommodation should be simple to figure out: when serving meals, she always does the food end, and not the drink end of the cart. And if a passenger asks for an alcoholic beverage at any other time, she takes the order and hands it off to another attendant. If that causes her coworkers to complain that she’s causing them more work, then she can simply pick up the slack in other duties. Simple.

But then this happened:

It seemed to be working out until another flight attendant filed a complaint against Stanley on August 2 claiming she was not fulfilling her duties by refusing to serve alcohol, Masri said. The employee complaint also said Stanley had a book with “foreign writings” and wore a headdress.

Well, it’s not hard to figure out what happened there. The headdress and “foreign writings” complaint are an unmistakable tip-off: the co-worker, clearly hostile to Muslims, and probably a fundamental stripe of Christian, either was freaked out by a religion they did not understand or just simply was filled with hate. I would gladly lay down a sizable bet that had the attendant asked for an exemption because her Christian beliefs prohibited serving alcohol, the complainer would have had no problem with it. Even if she had a Greek bible.

Sadly, the airline felt that this was more trouble than they wanted to deal with, and responded by rewarding the asshat xenophobe and essentially fired the Muslim attendant—precisely the opposite of what I would have done were I running the outfit.

Not that I am completely on Stanley’s side: if her religious sensitivities make handling the affair too difficult, she has no right to demand the exemption; if the position more or less requires the handling of alcohol and there’s no easy way around it, then that’s the job. If it would have caused too much extra work for her co-workers, again that would be a problem. Stanley didn’t have the right to demand the exemption were it an undue burden for the employer or others on the job.

However, that wasn’t the case: handling the affair was, for quite some time, a simple enough matter. It was only when her hostile co-worker complained that the problem arose. The difficulty issued not from Stanley’s exemption, but from the co-workers personal issues. Stanley was essentially fired not for her religious beliefs, but because of bigotry on the part of a co-worker, which the company unreasonably accommodated.

So the Muslim flight attendant sued the airlines, the issue hit the media, and now right-wingers are gleefully whining about how those hypocritical liberals are coddling the Muslim in what was the exact same situation as Kim Davis, whom those same nasty liberals were savaging.

This is a much different sentiment than what’s been said about accommodating Kim Davis’s religious beliefs at her place of employment. In addition, Stanley’s job duties were known when she took her position, unlike Kim Davis, who had her responsibilities change after the Supreme Court ruling.

Many will state the difference is that one position is a public office and the other is not. This too is flawed. According to Davis’s opposition, the fact she is an elected official changes what’s expected of her, and they therefore believe she should have resigned if she could no longer comply with her duties. However, if we want to talk about the proper way to handle an elected position, let’s discuss what Kim Davis should have faced. There should have been an immediate recall election. Why didn’t her opposition do this? Because they knew she’d likely be reelected. Therefore, does this not infringe on the rights of voters to choose their county officials? The appropriate procedure was circumvented in an attempt for the liberal left to demand their way.

So, let’s look at the objections stated above:

#1: Stanley knew her job requirements when she took her job. Sure; and if her converting to Islam made it impossible to do her duties, then the result would be the same as Davis: live with the conflict, or quit. However, Stanley had an accommodation that was simple and easy to carry out, as was demonstrated.

#2: Kim Davis had her responsibilities change after the Supreme Court ruling. Yep. And if the Supreme Court ruled that headdresses were a health hazard for flight crews and that religious exemptions could not be made, the same would have applied to Stanley.

#3: It is flawed to argue that the cases are different because one position is a public office and the other is not. It is not at all flawed. Davis had to swear an oath to uphold the law, and was not exempt just because the law changed. Also, if Stanley didn’t want to serve drinks, that would not send her to jail.

#4: The proper way to handle Davis’ situation would have been an immediate recall election. Um, no, actually, that’s stupid. That would suggest that the public had the right to judge whether or not Davis could ignore the law; they do not. Had Davis won a recall election, it would have simply landed Davis right back where she was at the start: in contempt of court.

As quickly becomes apparent, the objections are based on convoluted distortions, misrepresentations, and apparent ignorance of how things work, with attempts to dodge the central issues and claim issues where none exist.

Not to mention that there is one major, significant difference that cannot be honestly ignored: Stanley agreed to serve customers with a work-around, while Davis explicitly refused any work-around, and forbade all workers in her office from doing their duties. Davis’ actions would be the equivalent of Stanley forcing the entire flight crew to stop serving alcohol against the airline’s strict orders.

Indeed, Davis was specifically offered an accommodation by the court, exactly like the one Stanley was offered—in this, their cases were the same. The difference was that, while Stanley happily accepted hers, Davis outright rejected hers. Stanley was happy to allow others to enjoy their rights, Davis was intent on denying others their rights.

Do you think I would care one bit if Davis had done exactly what Stanley had done, and allowed people to enjoy their rights under the law while herself avoiding direct participation? Absolutely not. No one would have. Davis could have avoided any problems from the start by doing that.

Liberals have absolutely no problem with anyone of any religious calling receiving accommodations for their beliefs, so long as this does not infringe on the rights of others or interfere with their lives in any significant manner. So come down from the ceiling, conservatives—the hypocrisy is not from this end.

Remember those religious orders that refused to allow their workers to get health care if treatments the orders objected to would be included? They were also offered accommodations, and had they accepted them, there again would have been no big deal. Liberals would have been perfectly fine with that. However, the religious orders instead insisted on denying their workers the right to health care of their choice. The religious orders did not try to accommodate, did not try to keep their hands clean while allowing individuals the right to practice their faith as they wished; instead, the deliberately extended their own participation far beyond what was acceptable, and insisted on controlling the lives of others where they had no right to do so.

That’s the line: affecting the lives of others, denying them their rights, interfering with their lives. Accommodations can almost always be made. It is not the people these Christians disapprove of who are causing the problems, it is the Christians demanding religious control beyond their own right to do so.

The First Amendment gives you the right to free practice of religion, and it gives the same right to everyone else. Yours is not special, it does not extend to covering others you believe you have dominance over.

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  1. Tim Kane
    September 8th, 2015 at 11:19 | #1

    I think if the job of a flight attendant is to occasionally serve alcohol, and an employee suddenly decides they cannot, then they need to find another position, either in the company or outside the company. Airplanes are tight quarters – so much so that some people believe that you cannot recline your seat, despite the airline putting that capability into the seat – because it invades the space. You can’t have people in that situation not doing their job because it is against their religion, because its not easy to move about and get someone to step in who can.

    If the women was a bar tender, would she be allowed to only serve soft drinks? There are some jobs I don’t or won’t do because of my morals. I have quit work places because I thought working there was immoral for one reason or another.

    In regard to Islam, it is not a religion. I’ve heard some say it is a political ideology masquerading as a religion. I would say the situation is more nuanced than that. Islam is a comprehensive integrated system.

    One aspect: Islam is a political ideology with a significant religious component.

    The Islamic calendar begins, not with a religious event, but with a political event (Mohammed assuming a political office). The penalty for leaving Islam (apostasy) is death, precisely because apostasy is also treason, which is a political crime that until 1791 brought a death penalty everywhere it occurred. All the major devisions in Islam have to do with politics, not theology, that issue is: who gets to lead the Islamic community. Upon that issue, then theological differences emerge, some of them good, as in the case of the Ismaeli Muslims, some not so good as in the case of Salafic Islam.

    Islam is philosophically bent on expansion, like many religions. Unlike many religions it uses politics to expand the religion and religion to expand the politics. This is not a good thing for western civics.

    Furthermore Islamic law says that Muslims are not to befriend non-Muslims and are to instead to “lie in wait and kill them.” So basically you have to count on a coworker or associate who is Muslim to not be a dedicated Muslim. And because of the Muslim law of deception (Taqqiyya) you have to take everything they say with a grain of salt concerning their religiosity and motives. I’ve never liked seeing people having bibles laying around at work on their desk or whatever. I see that as hostile act. So, if I see someone toting around Islamic literature, I’m not going to be all that comfortable with that either. It is little different than someone carrying around MeinKampf, as MeinKampt as a %, has less anti-semitism in it than the Koran (and Islam committed genocide against Jews within the first 4 years of its calendar).

    Back in the 1950s and early 1960s you could, in some circumstances, be jailed or lose your job if you were an avowed communist. Islam as an ideology is much more diametrically apposed to, and hostile to, our system than communism ever was.

    Islam does not believe in some of the other fundamentals of civil society: the golden rule (there is one rule for Muslims, another for non-muslims), it fundamentally does not believe in separation of religion and civics.

    I fundamentally believe in the separation of church and state – more than just about anything and I especially believe in the protection of atheist and atheism even though I am not one. The success of secularism and separation of our civil lives from our religious and private lives is overwhelmingly one of the greatest advances in civil history.

    I also believe that religion is personal, more personal than one’s genitals, and so you shouldn’t wear them out on your sleeve. Asking me the details about my religious beliefs is a little like telling me to turn my head and cough. In my family I never quite learned what my father’s religious beliefs were, he once told me they are constantly changing but at the very least, no one should be killing each other over something that you can’t see.

    So your religious beliefs, are yours. Take care of them but keep them private and enjoy all the associations you have through secular society. If you can’t do a function that is legal and intrinsic to the job, for moral reasons, then you have some tough choices to face.

    These days, I think that not only does Government have to swear not to impinge upon religions, but people and religions should swear not to impinge upon civics.

  2. Troy
    September 9th, 2015 at 11:52 | #2

    yeah, the islamic world’s utter intolerance wrt Enlightenment-era social advances is most troubling.

    The more islamic a place is, the more of a shithole it is.

    Same thing can be said for any major religion, Mormonism excepted I guess, though the radical Mormon communes are indeed pretty messed up, too.

    Christian funds want to structure the world to their prejudices, like refuse to have their employees gain access to contraception on health plans the company contributes to.

    That’s bullshit right there, and of course all religions are willing to kick in their own stupidities, like refusing to serve bacon cheeseburgers, drive people in their taxis with service dogs or alcohol, etc etc.

    The solution is to keep your religious bullshit in your church, temple, or mosque and not pollute the world with it.

    Tall order of course.

  3. Troy
    September 9th, 2015 at 11:54 | #3

    Tim, I do think most people are good people so you can’t just apply what you wrote to all muslims though.

  4. Tim Kane
    September 9th, 2015 at 20:49 | #4


    (What follows is a bit of rambling on my knowledge of Middle East history, Islam, Islamic Law, and even my understanding of mechanism in civics which is a result of my training in Management Information Systems and work designing large systems as well as studying law, history, and geography. I have degree in Geography with emphasis in the Middle East as well as a degree in law, much of it comparative (which I teach now, including Islamic Jurisprudence and in that case I have to be careful because I can occassionaly get a student who might happen to be one – so I need to be neutral – but here less so). (It is a mind dump, I’m sorry its not better organized I’m taking a copy of this and will clean it up over and better organize over time). (It’s quite long took 6 hours to type, so I have a headache, but trying to get all that I know down somehow in one go and clean it up later – Maybe Luis will not allow this post because it is long – if I’m able to find time clean this up and find a place to post it I will later – but I think it has value even as it stands)

    That’s the dichotomy. Most people ARE good people. It’s not the people, but the ideas that are the problem. The good people are paradoxically bad Muslims. A good Muslim conflates religion with politics, and bad one separates religion from politics, etc… and because of the principle of taqqiyya (along with kitman, doctrine for lying and deception), you can’t tell if someone is truly a good person or just a good liar. If someone is conscientiously trying to assimilate, to do good, to be good, to pursue the golden rule, I think the better of them. But if I see a Muslim trying to make themselves more distinct, then I get nervous. What did Al Gore say: love the sinner, hate the sin. Similarly love the Muslim, hate the Islam, and a true Muslim embraces true Islam which is fundamentally a huge problem.


    If there was a Mohammed, and the historical information is thin, and the received (traditional) history is close to being factual (again the historical support for this is thin – though seems highly plausible to me), Mohammed was probably a psychopath or sociopath (the major distinction is one is primarily genetic the other is primarily acquired) and the system he created is essentially an alter ego to support his position.

    Pre-Islamic Arabia was essentially a vendetta legal system based society. Vendetta means, if I kill you then your immediate kin has a duty to kill me. It was, however, long established and fairly well developed – for instance there was a widely agreed upon set of money payment for a killing or blood money. The problem with this was Mohammed was an orphan living in a vendetta based system. This means, from an early age he was on the bottom of society’s status level and always vulnerable to being killed.

    He would have been a smart, highly enterprising person, the entire arch of his life representing an attempt to turn that thing upside down with him on top, and he managed to pull that off. One of the fundamental aspects of being a psychopath, is that they seek to dominate &/or can’t stand being dominated. They don’t feel anything, especially empathy. They know right from wrong but its a difference with no distinguishment, it has no value. This is alpha-dog territory and dominantion is the only intrinsic value. Furthermore they view people with conscience as week and easily manipulated into dominance. They are very good at faking having morals and empathy, but often rely upon moral institutions like a church or religion – so their stated ethics usually follow the official code of the religion (while they themselves do not follow it – that is for suckers)

    The received history says that he was well respected by all and with good judgment. This you might expect from an orphan in a vendetta based system – who had every reason not to want to get anyone pissed off at him. Nonetheless, after his mother died, his grandfather bestowed protection upon him. After his grandfather died his uncle did the same. After that, his cousin rose to the head of the clan and would not bestow protection so the day he always feared came true. That’s when he had to leave Mecca to move to Medina.

    A Psychology professor at my university told me about a study done on an orphan bear in the wilderness. He was tagged and followed throughout his life. Eventually when he died they did an autopsy. They found that the part of the brain that processes the information from the olefactory senses had an order of magnitude higher density of nerve endings than from a normal bear. Essentially the stress of being an orphan impelled the bear to develop his own “super powers” to facilitate his survival under extremely stressful circumstances. From this psychologist theorize that similar things occur among people growing up in highly stressful situations: a drunk father, a borderline personality mother, a nerd with no piers/friends, the run of the litter etc… and of course orphans – and so people with highly developed abilities, “a super power”, should be able to trace back to some kind of stress. To some degree this could be all of us. To some degree this dove tails back into Gardners “Multiple Intellegence” theory where people tend to have 2 or 3 areas above average and average everywhere else, and savant’s have an enormous spike in one area but are remedial in most other areas.

    At the time of Mohammed in Arabia, status was conferred upon poets – much like rock stars in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. There were 360 pagan deities in the Meccan shrine, and status was also conferred upon “the keeper” of one of the cults. Finally the biggest status was conferred upon heads of clans, and above that, the head of a tribe. From an early age he’d have been attempting to develop ways to improve his status to safe guard himself and turn his status upside down.

    His grandfather &/or uncle (I forget which) took him on caravans to Roman trade entrepots in Palestine. There he would have been under protection of Roman law. Mohammed was born in 570, Justinian recompiled Roman law by 535, which meant that Rome had the most enlightened, sophisticated legal system in all of history right up to that time. So one could imagin him pondering how to extend that kind of thing into his corner of the world on the long journey’s too and from Rome.

    Christianity and Judiaism surrounded the entire area and infiltrated Mecca. Yemen, far to the south had recently had had a Jewish King who was displaced by the Ethiopians who brought Christianity who were then displace by Sassanian Persians who would have been Zorostrian. Many of the Jews had been pushed out of Roman Empire by the 1st century revolts which caused the diaspora. Similarly many heretical (by Rome’s standard) riffs on Christianity (Monophysite/Nestorians/Arianism/etc… had also found sanctuary in Arabia, especially given the inclination to hermitude/monastarial life. Also there were hermits called hanifs who were said to be monotheist but neither Jew nor Christian. Similarly, Arabs, especially in the north, especially along the Roman frontiers and adjacent to Persian frontiers near Mesopotamia – the Jewish intellectual center had been located their for at least a half millenia (that is where the Talmud was developed) – had a developing identity as the descendents of Hagar (Abraham’s slave). Gabriel Reynolds, and Islamic scholar at Notre Dame University suggest that the content of the Koran says much of it was developed else where (from central Arabia), probably is (in part) older than the received history would suggest (while the hadiths and suma weren’t written for 150 or more years after Mohammed’s death and are very unreliable account of actual history). Reynolds seems to suggest that a form of Nestorianism went further and decided that Jesus was not God at all, but embraced an almost platonic concept of God as both single, indivisible – thus more jewish – and too majestic to be contaminated with carbon based form, this then merged with the concept of the emerging Arab identity as an alter-ego to Jewish identity. This school of thought would then over a century or two, have developed a Koran (from a word meaning ‘recitation of the talmud’) that would become parts of the Koran. The references to Mecca are rare (so could have been written in later) to Mohammed as the equivalent of the consonants MHMD – for one worthy of praise (early kunic script didn’t have vowels, but the Jews did that for God YHWH for Yahweh or Jehova. The earliest historical reference to the actual Mohammed is from a Christian monk, John of Damascus who states that the Arabs had come together under a new false prophet who was aided by an Arian monk. The only historical information we have for certain is that something &/or someone triggered the development of Arab cohesion (as later happened with the Mongols under Ghengis Khan) and outword raids that developed into conquest and that by 695 the Caliph Malik had imposed vestiges of Islam upon coins and constructed the dome on the mount – that referred to Mohammed and Mecca. However, the received history does support &/or dove tail into the known history quite well.

    Back to my narrative on Mohammed and trying to turn his status upside down. One way was to upgrade the law to something like that of the Romans. Another way was to develop his poetic skills. Another way was to be the head of a religious sect. It appears as if he saw the problem and worked it. His solution was to create his own religion. His Koran was poetic, in keeping with the day. He designated himself as prophet, so that makes him the head of the religion. At the age of 25, rather late, he married a rich widow, 15 years older than him – so reduced chances for offspring – he had no male heirs.

    Like Judaism, Islam is a very legalistic religion. And that’s probably the best way for a non-muslim to understand it. According to “The Spirit of Islamic Law” (a neutral, academic work by Bernard Weiss, Univ. of Oregan) Islamic jurisprudence works like this: That God exist is not a matter of faith, but a certainty. God is the Creator, man is the creature. Man’s duty is to discover God’s law and follow it strictly. The source of law is the Koran. The Koran says follow the example of the prophet, so the biography (suna) and the sayings/habits of the prophet are (the sura) also sources of law. Where there is contradictions, like all legal systems, the last in time prevails over the earlier in time, but the earlier still has some kind of legitimacy. This last in time aspect is unfortunate.

    Mohammed preached in Mecca for 12 or 13 years. He accumulated less than 200 followers. It appears mostly he accumulated friends, family and members of the lower classes (Mecca was going through a process of wealth concentration, so their were losers, Mohammed may have found them to be low hanging fruit, Islam is, in part a reaction to wealth concentration – one of the few succesful, but done by a member of a higher class but still not accepted by the high class – not unlike Trump today – so Islam has hard coded into it, a tax on the rich for the poor, and does not permit ursury). In Mecca, Mohammed had no political power. The message he preached, as evidenced in the Koran was initially inclusive. But as time wore on and few people joined, the message became more corrosive: if you don’t join you will burn in hell for an eternity. (This to me suggest the psychopath playing upon what the psychopath sees as the non-psychopath’s weaknesses).

    Mecca being a pilgrimage and trade fair center – each mutually supporting the other – didn’t mind a new religion on the one hand, but when Mohammed started threatening visitors with messages of eternal damnation, the Meccans became hostile to his movement. When his uncle died, the jig was up. Mohammed approached the nearby city (to the south east) of Taif for refuge. They denied him that with prejudice.

    Meanwhile the city of Yathribe did the opposite. They invited him to come and act as a mediator/judge between feuding tribes there.

    (This is not without precedent. Rome was established by 5 tribes living on the tops of the 7 hills that surrounded Rome, and for the first 200 years or so, imported Kings to be their executive from Etrusca: these were usually well educated Etruscans who spoke Greek – Rome was at the cross point of the Tiber river where trade from Etruscans who were skilled in metals and new where all the mineral deposits were in the appenines – crossed on its way to rich Greek colonies in Southern Italy. If the 5 tribes could cohere in a confederation they could control that trade – but they needed an executive to administer, and if the executive came from any of the tribes, than it was feared taht that executive would gain hegemony over the others, so they imported the executive)

    Yathribe was not a town so much as a settlement based upon an oasis site. There was perhaps more than 10,000 people living there under 5 different tribes. It had been settled by 3 Jewish tribes perhaps in the 1st century escaping from Rome after the Jewish revolt. The Jews saw the agricultural potential and set about developing farming, especially date plantations. This settlement then attracted pagan Arabs to settle there in supporting rolls and the urban side developed to where there were two Arab tribes making up about half the population – but there were endless disputes between the various tribes and so a neutral arbiter was needed in the role of judge and by extension administrator and by only slightly more extension, executive . A few of the pagan Arabs had converted to Islam after pilgrimage to Mecca. They recommended Mohammed as mediator: he was Arab, but like the Jews he was monotheistic and had a reputation for fairness and good judgment. So at the time Mohammed needed a place to move to, Yathribe needed a neutral arbitrator. So Mohammed, took the job and moved to Yathribe, which came to be called Medina (the city of the prophet).

    The move caused the creation of a contract agreement between the parties, called the constitution of Medina. The Medinans also made a mistake that the Roman’s wouldn’t make. That constitution enfranchised Mohammed, and by extension, granted franchise to his tiny community of Muslim believers, less than 200 hundred, probably only around 150, as a separate tribe. At only 150, this ‘tribe’ was viewed, I’m sure, to be too small of consequence to worry about or matter (the other tribes would have probably been around 2000 at the least, or greater). But the 5 tribes were based upon kinship, and so couldn’t grow any more or faster than the rate of natural reproduction. The “Muslim” tribe was based upon belief and could grow geometrically, though its track record up to that point did not suggest such growth, through religious conversion. The ability to grow through assimilation was totally lost upon the Medinans, but perhaps not on Mohammed.

    The immigrant Muslims arrived in Medina with no means of making a living and having left in haste, had left their property back in Mecca. Coming from a trading city they really didn’t have an understanding of agriculture either – but as it was had no property to farm anyway. But Yathribe/Medina, over 250 miles north of Mecca, was reasonably close to the main trade route between Mecca and Palestine. Mohammed having participated in those caravans knew what they contained – an entire seasons worth of silver and other sources of wealth returning from Palestine.

    So, in order to feed his flock, Mohammed and his band of followers, immediately embarked upon raiding of the returning Meccan caravan. The booty he brought back began to attract new followers to his religion. A subsequent raid on Meccan caravans resulted in the battle of Badr in which around 310 Muslims managed to defeat 950 Meccans. This victory changed the equation because not only did the Meccans pick off loot, but they proved that the would not be easily vanquished.

    So according to the received history Mohammed progressed through banditry and raiding into extortion, then assassination/murder and eventually to genocide (of the last Jewish tribe of Medina). One was given the choice of joining and sharing in the spoils, pay the extortion tax or die. Essentially Mohammed eventually came to running Medina much like a Mafia boss. The promise of spoils If one joined, then the penalty for “un-joining” was death. (This is little different from gangs today, the price of leaving a gang is death at the maximum, or in some cases the loss a few fingers).

    In essence,in Mohammed’s tribe of Muslims he had created a pyramid organization (These are usually associated with ponzi schemes but legitimate businesses are based upon them too, such as Amway. They can facilitate rapid growth model too. I’ve worked for a couple: what once was Andersen Consulting and Enterprise Rent-a-car. In 1980 Enterprise’s revenue was $100 million, by 1992 it was over $1 billion).

    In a pyramid organization, the earlier one joins, the higher up one is placed in the hierarchy as it expands. As he began to grow, this became evident. Because his tribe was based upon belief, not only could his tribe grow, it could grow faster than the rate of natural increase (arithmetically at the time but only with the expansion of resources) but it could grow quite fast, approaching geometric growth.

    In Mecca the Koran said that their should be no compulsion as to religion. That was the inclusive message of Mecca. In Medina, if one quit Islam, the penalty was death. This had the effect of excellerating the velocity of growth of Islam.

    Once, Mohammed was able to prove his tribe would not be vanquished, then it became only a matter of time before it would eventually subsume all the other tribes. Once one realized this, or came to this calculation, then one immediately realized that the sooner one joined, the better one would be as one would be placed higher up in the organization as it expanded. This explains the great velocity for the growth of Islam after Mohammed moved to Medina. After the battle of Batr, Mohammed soon absorbed all the pagans at Medinah into his tribe and achieved the hegemony in Medina that the Romans feared would occur at Rome if one tribe managed to hold executive office. Soon after achieving hegemony, one by one, Mohammed began to eliminate the Jews from Medina as their identity was also rooted in religion distinct from Mohammeds and thus couldn’t join his tribe. In the case of the last Jewish tribe the 900 men were beheaded, one by one, in front of Mohammed and his 11 year old wife – the task taking place took so long that it went on deep into the night. The women and children were taken or sold into slavery, Mohammed taking the most beautiful as his sex slave. This is classic behavior of a psychopath).

    It is said that Mohammed was illiterate, but he could certainly do the math necessary to recognize what geometric growth meant. He quickly expanded his hegemony to the surrounding areas – assimilating more and more into his system – a very real world, medieval version of the Borg.

    As his endeavors expanded, so did potential enemies, so the need to grow his army was critical – so enjoying in the spoils also meant the aquisition of slaves, which also meant the aquisition of sex slaves. A young man that went to war with Mohammed was on the make and on the take, and if he died fighting for Mohammed (er, for Allah, that is, in Jihad) he would immediately go to paradise where he would get the same (the 82 virgins theme). Muslims who dies outside of Jihad must wait until the end of times or the judgement day.

    After Badr, the Meccan’s attacked Medina, inflicting a defeat, but not vanquishing the Muslims. Mohammed kept up the raiding of caravans. So they came with a force of 10,000. The Muslims withstood the seige by digging a trench which effectively blocked the Meccans from storming Medina, which then fell into a siege which the Meccan’s allies had not planned on staying around long enough to realize a victory, so the siege did not last. After that seige, Mohammed implemented genocide of the last Jewish tribe at Medina. The next year he approached Mecca on pilgramage with 3,000 men and instead of entering arrived at a peace treaty. The Meccans soon broke the treaty when one of their allies attacked one of the Muslim allies. Now Mohammed approached Mecca with 10,000 men.

    At this point, in 630a.d., the Meccans being businessmen themselves, could see the writing on the wall. They went out to parlay with the Mohammed. They essentially offered to become Muslims, if they could supplant the Medinans in their place upon the pyramid in the Muslim organization. This was a crafty maneuver. Mohammed could see that the size of his organization would double overnight, as would the velocity of his growth – so he agreed to the deal. He would die in about two years, but by that time he would control the entirety of the Arabian peninsula.

    The Meccans largely succeeded as the stewards of Mohammed’s organization. The Ummayads and the Abbisids dynasties both came from Mecca. However the slighting of Medina was not without repurcussions – the Medinans became identified with Ali, who was denied control of the Caliphate but for a few years, whereupon he was assassinated by agents for the Ummayads. The party of Ali today is known as the Shiites.

    So for the first 12 years of his ministry at Mecca Mohammed preached a largely inclusive message, but accumulated only around 160 or so followers. After his ascension to political office at Medina, Mohammed exercised, increasingly coercive force, and as a result Islam grew at a geometric rate. Mohammed could see the where things were going and so the Koran and his final sermon contain global aspirations. It is a fascinating tail. In my mind it is impelled by an orphan born into a vendetta society wanting to turn the entire thing upside down, and largely succeeding. But it is also the story of psychopath’s accumulation of power using means only a psychopath could be comfortable with.

    If Islam consisted only of the Meccan Koran there would be no doctrine of Jihad, and almost no mention of Jews, and the only coercion that of damnation after life. After Mohammed gained power coercion of the most violent kind and a doctrine of Jihad against non-muslims is invoked and promulgated. Overtime the doctrines became harsher, less tolerant, less inclussive, more violent – the final sermon and the last books of the Koran invoke the Muslim not to make friends with the non-muslim, in cases where Islam is not ascendant, they can lie about their beliefs and secretly be a muslim (go along to get along: kitman and taqqiyya) until they achieve numbers necessary to press for ascendency, they are not to make friends with non-muslims, but to lay in secret, to attack, kill and behead non-Muslims. Because of the last in time doctrine – which the Muslims call abrogation, the more violent aspects of Islam are more powerful legally than the inclusive aspects. This might explain why “good” or “moderate” Muslims do not speak out against the more radical, extremist jihadist Muslims. Clearly the jihadist are following Mohammed’s example. Clearly then that is inside Islamic law. To speak out against Islamic law is an act of apostasy. Apostasy invites a death penalty. Jihadist unabashedly are not afraid to administer it.

    Because Islamic law says to follow Mohammed’s example, a most orthodox rendering of the religion is one of a psychopathic system. Over the centuries Islam managed to evolve away from that, only to return back to a strict fundamentalism that is psychopathic in its conception and construction.

    One would think that such a system wouldn’t lend itself to conversion of anyone that did not participate in the system of spoils. In essence, I think the broad majority of peoples that came underneath Islam’s political sway, were then subject to a mass version of Stockholm syndrome. This is a psychological state where a person who is captured develops sympathy for his captors ideology. Islam even encourages this. Once one becomes a Muslim, he is protected and has equal rights under the system: for Muslims . Moreover, once one becomes a Muslim, Islam relieves the person of all stress and manner of being associated with exercise of conscience and free will: Islam tells you everything you are supposed to think and do, you then accept what happens as the will of Allah. So resistance to Islam, while under it politically is stressful, submission to it brings much peace.

    A non-muslim under Muslim rule, if they agree to pay the extortion tax, then their property rights in land maybe recognized however, a non-Muslim could not force a Muslim off their land, nor deny a Muslim’s animals from grazing on their land.

    All of this should be contrasted with Christianity, especially of the Calvanist kind, where one does not have certainty in God, but only faith, and where one must work hard to achieve salvation, by developing one’s self, by working hard and accumulating wealth and thereby contribute constructively to society. The Muslim’s never got the hang of development, of themselves nor the lands in which they owned.

    Since a Muslim cannot attack, hurt nor take another Muslim’s property, Islam expanded on a basis of raiding, banditry then conquest for most of the rest of its history – while Islamic lands became noteworthy for widespread poverty and ignorance. Sooner or later, the lands they conquered converted, usually falling into ruin, which then further forced Islam to raid out beyond its frontiers to acquire additional riches.

    At the height of the Roman Empire system, North Africa had a population of 11 million nearly half to Europe’s 25 million and North Africa had been improved and developed agriculturally through infrastructure and irrigation works to be an agricultural bread basket to Europe. The Muslim Arabs came around 650, in their wake followed Arab herders, who’s flocks fed on the agricultural land of the Christians they conquored. The land quickly fell into ruin. By 750 North Africa’s population was around 8 million. The population still was at or below the Roman peak as late as 1815 – while Europe’s had expanded to around 200 million (and was about to go into a demographic explosion that would triple Europe’s numbers as well as people the “new” Europes of North America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina). Furthermore, the North African states main economic activity in was still banditry in the form of piracy (something the British and Americans would end in 1816). Prior to 1803, the U.S. Government was paying barbary pirates one sixth of its annual revenues to keep from being victimized by barbary pirates.

    For most of the history of the Ottoman Empire, literacy was below 3% – much, if not most of that attributable to Jews and Greeks living inside the empire. In 1571, the Turks took Cyprus from the Venetians. The Venetians had invested heavily in irrigation in the center of Cyprus to develop the production of Sugar, through a stream that emptied in Famugusta bay. After the Turks took over the irrigation quickly fell into ruin, despite Sugar production being the most lucrative agricultural product for the next 200 years. The ruin of the irrigation improvements created marshland highly favorable to malarial baring mosquitoes not relieve until very late in the 19th century when the British took over – who found themselves embarrassingly short of quinine, but for years tourist contracts to the holy land typically contained clauses stating that their would be no land fall at Cyprus.

    The conquest of Spain created a unique situation. Muslim rule but little in migration from Muslim lands because animal herders couldn’t cross the strait of Gibraltar. Likewise, Turkish conquest of Anatolia in the 11th century lead to widespread Turkish Muslim migration into Anatolia and the turkification of Anatolia – but widespread migration did not follow Turkish conquest into the Balkan peninsula in Europe, again because of the straits that separated Europe from Anatolia/Asia Minor, which the animal herders could not cross. These areas then were unique in the Islamic history of the Mediterranean Sea basin.

    The Muslim system was like this: Muslims could not be harmed but NonMuslims were open game. So Muslim bands and armies raided nonmuslim lands extracting wealth. The extraction of wealth, weakened the adversary while strengthening the Muslims. Eventually the confrontation became so one sided, the Muslims conquered the land out right – the conquored people either became muslims or paid extortion tax – and then the whole cycle repeated again and so more expansion. The productivity of the land conquered however dropped over time, sometimes rapidly, due to lack of development. This might not be noticed immediately because new riches were coming from new lands. But the productivity would drop AND the people eventually would convert, all of which meant a decline in revenue for the empire from each square acre even as the Empire was expanding. Initially because it was expanding the drop in productivity was not important. Within 100 years of Mohammed’s death Islam expanded all the way INTO Spain in the West and INTO India in the East and the border of China. The largest empire in history, up to that point in time, eclipsing the Roman empire, which had taken centuries to build. But within 150 years of the peak the empire started to wither away and fragment, probably as a result of declining revenue from conquered lands that was no longer as heavily supplemented by banditry and revenue from newly conquered lands.

    Warfare is largely a game of numbers, cohesion (see the explanation of how Spartans fought in the movie “300” – very cohesive ranks), speed/mobility and deception. Islam’s competitive advantage – in pre-modern times – was an emphasis on cohesion: One God, one prophet, one state, one religion, one community, one law, one system for everything, one, one, one, one, one. Traveling on camels in dry areas, it had mobility, and could retreat into the dessert if need be to avoid total defeat, its emphasis on all having a duty to Jihad helped it achieve numbers (settled regions typically restrict warmaking to a class -knights in Europe – or caste in India – thus reducing numbers) and even a doctrine of deception built into the the religion (Taqqiyya).

    Eventually Islam reached it’s limits in the forested Mountains of Spain, Central Anatolia (until the Turks came) and the edges of China and central India.

    The advent of modern times shifted the advantage from cohesion to centrifugalism (the opposite of cohesion) which finally gave the West an advantage: one god but 3 persons, state separated from religion, economics and the specialization of tasks, all disciplines being separate could evolve at their own speed, and political fragmenation impelling all states to develop, and Calvanism (and catholicisms reaction to catholicism) impelling people to develop themselves.

    There are other contrasting aspects between Islam and Christianity which shape the differences in the societies and civilizations of Islam and the West. Islam emphasizes the majesty of God (Reynolds): God is awesome, all powerful, God is great. Christianity says that God is love – that out of love, God was motivated to humble himself to make community with man and so Humans can have a relationship with God. To Muslim’s that is unthinkable. We just aren’t worthy. This is why God could never become man, let alone suffer and die on the cross. God is majestic, not a victim. Islam thus ascribes majesty to itself. Muslims are first class citizens of creation, non-muslims are vastly inferior (which means the ascendency of the west creates a bit of a crisis as Muslims are supposed to rule over other people not the other way around). Islam is based upon authoritative thought. The west is based upon critical thought. This means Islam is never wrong, even when it is wrong. God is the creator, man is the ant. Man must be an acolyte and follow God’s commandments unthinkingly. Galeleo had a tough time with the Pope, but it is nothing compared to how Islam would have handled him if his opinions crossed with Islamic law. (Islam, while it doesn’t foster development or intellectual development, it is surprisingly friendly to science. Islam views creation as evidence of a God, and so, the study of that creation is welcomed by the Koran as gaining evidence of God through his creation.)

    While is Islam lost its competitive advantage, it had developed into 5 separate legal schools. Legalistically, Islamic law involves trying to decide what is allowed by looking back upon the Koran and Mohammed’s biography, sayings and habits to determine what is legal. The problem is, there’s a finite body of sources but an ever evolving world creating new situations. The Islamic legal scholar has to look at the sources, and create an analogy between the new situation and something that took place in the early 600s. How do you find an analogy between the internet and 7th century Arabia? Nonetheless Islam, over time developed a more moderate state of being. However, the ascendancy of Wahhabist in Saudi Arabia and the presence of lots of cheap, easy to obtain oil at fairly high prices (most of the time) has given medieval Islam new ascendancy.

    In essence, oil wealth is a lot like the banditry wealth Islam was originally built on. The wealth is created in the developed lands in Europe, North America, East Asia and elsewhere. The Middle East Arabs are able to extract wealth from those lands in exchange for oil. (It is uncanny that oil lies below Muslim lands, be it in the Middle East or in South East Asia. It doesn’t export much of anything that is crafted or built in Arabia. Likewise, professors I’ve met have suggested that higher education in the Middle East is largely a joke and a bit of a scam.

    Islam, especially Sunni Islam is the problem child of the world’s religion.

    There is however significant difference between Sunni’s and Shias. The Shiism says the head of the Muslim community should be of the Prophet’s bloodline as it passed through Ali (his nephew) and Fatima (Ali’s wife, Mohammed’s daughter). Ali was also Mohammed’s first convert after Mohammed’s wife.

    The emphasis on blood lines implies, somehow in Shiism that the source of Islamic law is not finite but that it could conintue through succeeding Imams (community leaders). Supposedly there are 12 imams who have expanded upon Islamic law, the last Imam is said to have gone into hiding, and so is called the Hidden Imam, and it is said that he will return again to unite the community. As a result the emphasis on fundamentalism and the limitation to a finite source of law based entirely on medieval norms is mostly a Sunni trait. The Sunni’s are forever looking back to the 7th century – wanting to recreate it. The Shia’s are looking forward to the future and the return of the hidden Imam.

    This takes us to the present and the new atomic weapons deal with Iran. Sure, neocons are fretting upon it, they were looking forward to starting their next middle east war with Iran. A Nexus exist between American Neocons with Israeli Neocons (most specifically, Neocon fellow traveler Netanyahu – whom I’m sure is a psychopath) and Sunni Arabs, especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates who all are aligned against Iran. However, it is Saudi Arabia who is funding madrasas all around the world pushing Sunni Islam more and more into fundamentalist version of the religion. There are no Shia cells in the west – only Sunni shia cells. I think the American establishment has decided that they aren’t going to fight the Neocons/Saudi’s wars anymore. They would rather the Middle Easterners knock each other around until they realize the futility of it all. In essence that is what it took in Europe before all powers finally settle down to the treaty of Westphalia ending the wars of religion in Europe.

    It remains to be seen what will evolve from the Syrians now emigrating en mass into Europe. They come from a secular society. Many appear to be educated. I for one think it is not a good idea. There is no history of Sunni, Arab, Muslims integrating and assimilating successfully in Europe.

    What is needed is a transcendental Islam. There is no God, but God – and stop right there. Islam without Mohammed, isn’t Islam. Islam without submission Isn’t Islam. Submission and transcendental are oxymorons. Islam in 630 was a tool for Mohammed to gain power and ascendency. The religion and the whole ideology is an alter ego to Mohammed. The Koran was transcendental until he gained political office in Medina and needed to employ coercive force to consolidate and grow his power, and so the Koran abruptly changes to fit Mohammed’s needs and circumstances. A psychopath has no problem making up a religion or manipulating and bending it to serve their circumstances. A psychopath has no problem with using people’s sense of or for morality against them. A psychopath has no problem with genocide. I do not want to place judgments on psychopaths – I merely think of it as a mechanical state of mind that has characteristics. And finally there is a reminder that Mohammed may not have existed – its just the received historym not the actual history we are talking about.

    Getting back to Reynolds theories again: The core of the Koran may have been developed in reaction to the Christology debates in the Middle East in the 2nd through 8th centuries one version – the majesty of one god coalesing with the emergence of an Arab identity rooted in the first 5 books of the Jewish bible. It may have been coopted by someone in a Mohammed like roll who was attempting state building and trying to cohere and unify a highly mobile people who thus far had avoided a state like existence, or it may not. It was definitely coopted by Malik after 694 or thereabouts and succeeding Caliph’s consolidated and developed the biographies and hadiths over several centuries of time – all likely to fit their own circumstances – I think as late as the 9th or 10th centuries. One of those early Caliphs colated a specific Koran similar to todays and had all other Koran’s burned. It does appear that one actually escaped that, and ended up in the library at the University of Birmingham. So at the very least it appears that a Koran may have existed before Mohammed, that it may have been coopted by Arab emperors who may have doctored the book. One important aspect of the Koran is it is nearly unreadable because it is not organized chronologically. I suspect that is done on purpose so people can’t figure out what might have been doctored. If you were an emporer, who took an existing religious book, and then inserted in, in various places, stuff you wanted to have said, then you might decide to disorganize the remaining book into a fashion not chronological so that people couldn’t easily tell what had been doctored.

    What is important is the ideas which we use to live by. I’m a cultural catholic christian of the Pope Francis kind – not because I am a devout Catholic, in fact I favor atheist and their arguments and want to keep the world safe for them but I think the beliefs a society is based upon is important, and the concept of God is Love is preferable to a God is Great or God is indifferent for social outcomes although even above all of this, I believe in the separation of religion and politics and that religion ought to be personal if anything at all.

    Again, its not the people, its the ideas they carry with them wherever they go. The Islamic system is not meant to be assimilated, nor are Muslims meant to assimilate. I would say that the King of Jordan seems like a very good man. The Aga Khan is a very good man and Ishmaeli Muslims are very good people. Its not all black and white.

    On the other hand, studies are reported that 80% of the Egyptian muslims believe that death is a proper penalty for apostasy. Islam remains and will likely remain the problem child of the world’s religions. The irony is that they think its just the opposite. Islam is the majestic religion and all others are vastly inferior as are the people who believe in those religions.

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