Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Founders Meet Ground Zero

Storms of controversy surround the proposal to build an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero in New York, while precincts as far away as Murfreesboro, Tennessee and Sheboyan, Kansas, have experienced public opposition to mosques entering their neighborhoods. What would the Founders say?

In an article published shortly after the terror attacks of 2001, historian and head of the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress, James Hutson, shed light on the situation. His remarks, so different from the heated rhetoric filling today's airwaves, deserve quotation:

"Readers may be surprised to learn that there may have been hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Muslims in the United States in 1776—imported as slaves from areas of Africa where Islam flourished. Although there is no evidence that the Founders were aware of the religious convictions of their bondsmen, it is clear that the Founding Fathers thought about the relationship of Islam to the new nation and were prepared to make a place for it in the republic.

In his seminal Letter on Toleration (1689), John Locke insisted that Muslims and all others who believed in God be tolerated in England. Campaigning for religious freedom in Virginia, Jefferson followed Locke, his idol, in demanding recognition of the religious rights of the "Mahamdan," the Jew and the "pagan." Supporting Jefferson was his old ally, Richard Henry Lee, who had made a motion in Congress on June 7, 1776, that the American colonies declare independence. "True freedom," Lee asserted, "embraces the Mahomitan and the Gentoo (Hindu) as well as the Christian religion."

In his autobiography, Jefferson recounted with satisfaction that in the struggle to pass his landmark Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom (1786), the Virginia legislature "rejected by a great majority" an effort to limit the bill's scope "in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan." George Washington suggested a way for Muslims to "obtain proper relief" from a proposed Virginia bill, laying taxes to support Christian worship. On another occasion, the first president declared that he would welcome "Mohometans" to Mount Vernon if they were "good workmen" (see page 96). Officials in Massachusetts were equally insistent that their influential Constitution of 1780 afforded "the most ample liberty of conscience … to Deists, Mahometans, Jews and Christians," a point that Chief Justice Theophilus Parsons resoundingly affirmed in 1810."

Hutson concludes: "The Founders of this nation explicitly included Islam in their vision of the future of the republic. Freedom of religion, as they conceived it, encompassed it. Adherents of the faith were, with some exceptions, regarded as men and women who would make law-abiding, productive citizens. Far from fearing Islam, the Founders would have incorporated it into the fabric of American life."

Would that our leaders today were equally wise and tolerant!

54 comments:

King of Ireland said...

Is anyone really saying that the Muslims should not have religious freedom? The problem is that CERTAIN STREAMS OF ISLAM have a history of building victory mosques. Who knows if the people behind this thing are trying to do that or not but this is poor taste.

With that said, it is almost like a freedom of speech issue to me. I may hate what my neighbor says but will fight to the death to give him the right to say it.

But poor taste for sure and if the idea is to soften the image of Islam this is a horrible idea.

bpabbott said...

There does appear to be a political effort to prevent the Mosque (center) from opening. Such an act is an affront to religious freedom.

Of course building a mosque in that location is also an affront to good taste.

Pinky said...

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I do not understand how building such such a center in that area is an affront to anything other than prejudice.
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The entire idea of free speech and freedom of worship is all about self discovery--it is the sacred right of every person.
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King of Ireland said...

If I move a roomate into a house I own I can go and take a shit in the living room if I want to and have aight to do it. But I am an a-hole if I do. I think that sums up this whole thing.

Pinky said...

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All of which does nothing more than bring up the conceit of our own beliefs in what we think represents truth and wisdom.
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I'm sure the Muslim who believes he is serving God's will in the building of the new civic center does so based on his ideas of what is wise and just.
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That's the whole point being discussed regarding revelation and reason--free speech, freedom of worship, freedom to assemble, freedom to publish.
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I don't see anything in the U.S.Constitution that requires people to choose wisely based on some particular set of traditions. Innovation seems like a good thing to--at least--some of us.
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No one can expect a bigot to understand anything based on reason unless it agrees with his prejudice.
.

King of Ireland said...

Who is the bigot? Is there no such thing a cultural sensitivity? How would you feel about how good an idea it would be to go build a Church commemorating the Crusades in Mecca? Lets assume it was legal for arguments sake, do you think it would be in good taste?


Let them build it becuase it is lawful but it sullies their cause to present a more tolerant Islam to the exact people that want to reach with that message.

Pinky said...

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Blogger King of Ireland said...

Who is the bigot? Is there no such thing a cultural sensitivity? How would you feel about how good an idea it would be to go build a Church commemorating the Crusades in Mecca? Lets assume it was legal for arguments sake, do you think it would be in good taste?


Let them build it because it is lawful but it sullies their cause to present a more tolerant Islam to the exact people that want to reach with that message.

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As for me, I'll just let that stand for what it is. It answers itself better than anything I could say.
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Mark Boggs said...

Do people really believe this is a victory mosque? Seriously?

"How would you feel about how good an idea it would be to go build a Church commemorating the Crusades in Mecca?"

So you do believe they're establsihing this community center / mosque as an overt thumb in the eye of American Christians? A "We're number one" symbol?

"Lets assume it was legal for arguments sake, do you think it would be in good taste?"

And as far as good taste goes, do we really want to start measuring the things people ought to be doing by what the majority thinks is in good taste? Shall we assume a church located near an abortion clinic is in bad taste? Most Christians would find that accusation abhorrent.

Again, this thing is two blocks away in a Burlington Coat Factory building. Please, knock yourself out with the "bad taste" argument, but let's not assume that this opinion, be it overwhelming majority or otherwise, stands as some sort of truth about what these folks "ought" to be doing.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Do people really believe this is a victory mosque? Seriously?

Yes. The Hagia Sophia.

Mark Boggs said...

Tom,

First, let me say how sorry I was to see the debacle over at Southern Appeal.

Second, do you have some sort of intimate knowledge about this place that others don't which leads you to know that it is the 21st century equivalent of Hagia Sophia? At this point, couldn't you argue that every mosque built since 9/11, especially in the United States, is the equivalent of the Hagia Sophia?

King of Ireland said...

Yes, some do believe it is a victory mosque. There is, on the surface, some historical support for this practice in Islam. I am not sure I believe that at all. Just reporting the facts.

King of Ireland said...

Some of my more nuanced thoughts on Islam and the War on Terror:

http://theonebestway.wordpress.com/2010/08/15/how-about-a-wall-of-separation-between-mosque-and-state-too/#comment-637

Just to clarify where I am coming from.

Mark Boggs said...

KOI,

And it doesn't strike you as a bit naive to think that some Muslims, say the fanatical ones, wouldn't take our continued presence in their region and our meddling in their affairs as our own version of Hagia Sophia in their backyard?

And some believe the president is a Muslim.

King of Ireland said...

If you read what I wrote and linked to then you would see that yes I do see that. It is time to pull out. Then most of this will go away. Our presence emboldens the fanatics. If we leave I think the moderate view will win out as technology does its work.

The problem is that certain parts of Islam has tended to unite and conquer in the name of a Caliphate too. There is a balance out there someone where between institgating the fanatics and keeping our eye on a re-emergence of the Caliphate.

That would be a sane foreign policy in my mind.

King of Ireland said...

Mark,

My argument for bad taste is that by building this thing they will be cutting off the nose to spite their face if you take at face value that they want to promote a more tolerant form of Islam.

Just as we are doing with our presence there if our goal is to see the moderates win the day.

There is a cultural sensitivity that one needs in diplomacy that I am not seeing in all this chaous.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Mark, I've read enough about the principals involved to be satisfied myself that there's a "victory" angle. Enough to convince the skeptical? Probably not, but I'm not exercised enough about it to litigate it on the internet.

Suffice to say there were a few American Muslims who agreed that it would be seen as a "victory mosque" by radicals, regardless of the builder's intentions.

As for the Southern Appeal thing, again, I've done enough research into the African American worldview to believe the reflexive sting of the symbol of the rebel flag is not understood by most Caucasian Americans.

I said my piece over there, and glad I did. Contrary to AG Holder, we Americans talk about race all the time. We just don't listen.

Pinky said...

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Tom, the points regarding "victory" and all that huff and puff are precisely why our Founding Fathers saw fit to develop a written constitution upon which we could settle our differences.
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To judge the wisdom of what another person is doing with their free speech is about as asinine as anything I can imagine. It's their free speech. There will be consequences.

Those who are speaking against the building are exercising their free speech. There will be consequences.
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Nothing is set in stone before it happens.
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Let's see how the chips fall.
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Tom Van Dyke said...

A nation is more than the sum of its laws, more than the competing exercises of our "rights." Which is why I brought up the rebel battle flag. A white person might see some harmless pride in the "southern way of life," a black person might see race and murder.

No government or set of laws can respect those differences without becoming tyrannical---in fact we see this in Europe's political speech codes. You can go to jail for denying the Holocaust publicly. It's illegal to sell Nazi stuff.

True liberty---American style---depends on self-control, good will and good sense. We cannot legislate these things. We have our "rights," but that comes with a duty to get along, and not step on the other fellow's toes if we can help it.

King of Ireland said...

Right on Tom. The difference between liberal democracy in the Fukuyama sense(which if people have not figured out yet I believe is Marxist Elistist Collectivism put in a nice box with a ribbon to make it look like our founding Constitutional Republic and thus a lion out to trounce the unsuspecting lamb not lie down with him) and in the founding sense.


We better dust off our "Aristotle, Cicerro, Locke, and Sidney" Oh yeah John of Salisbury, Aquinas, and Hooker too!!!

Tom Van Dyke said...

http://www.questia.com/googleScholar.qst;jsessionid=Mx6YHpD1DvP2915rR28HkYw3khLtwJZnvWXyw3RrSqfGqg2lw7cB!-775909462!-493281967?docId=76955939



If God is
dead, then human beings no longer orient themselves
according to an image of divine perfection, and they cannot
help but turn their eyes or their hopes to history. Said prop-
erly, the proclamation of the death of God is not some piece
of Nietzschean extremism, but the implicit premise of a
free, secular society. That society's progressivism, which
seems inevitable, can only be justified by some conception
of history's end.

Fukuyama raised the question of history's end because he
was charmed by Alexandre Kojève's remarkable interpreta-
tion of Hegel Phenomenology of Spirit ( 1968 ). 1 According
to Leo Strauss, who also charmed Fukuyama, Kojève's
interpretation of Hegel's declaration that history has come
to an end expresses most radically or consistently the mod-
ern solution to the mystery or problem of human existence.
Kojève is the almost hidden founder of existentialism and
postmodernism. His name, book, and audacious claim for
wisdom are kept alive by those influenced by Strauss. 2
Strauss and his students seem to agree that Kojève's claim
for wisdom at the end of history represents a profound and
plausible, if quite questionable, view of our time. 3 Strauss,
Allan Bloom, and Raymond Aron agreed that Kojève was
the most brilliant man they had ever met ( Bloom 1990 ,
268n. 1).

My purpose here is to give a deserved hearing to the
argument that history has ended. Fukuyama's presentation
was rejected by almost everyone because he did not really
show what the end of history would have to be. 4 Although
Fukuyama's argument is implausible, Kojève's is not. To
make the possibility of the end of history credible, even in
an introductory way, I will turn from Fukuyama to Kojève
and to the amazing exchanges between Kojève and Strauss.
I will also refer to Strauss-influenced scholars who have
done more than Fukuyama to keep Kojève's argument alive,
and I will turn more than a glance to Marx, Nietzsche, and
Heidegger.

Brad Hart said...

So what was it that the founders would have thought about this? From what I can see nobody is getting at that, but rather ranting and raving on their own personal soap box. Let's hear what the American citizenry of 1785 had to say about Islam:

"Let Jews, Mehometans and Christians of every denomination enjoy religious liberty…thrust them not out now by establishing the Christian religion lest thereby we become our own enemys and weaken this infant state. It is mens labour in our Manufactories, their services by sea and land that aggrandize our Country and not their creeds. Chain your citizens to the state by their Interest. Let Jews, Mehometans, and Christians of every denomination find their advantage in living under your laws."
~Petition of a group of citizens of Chesterfield County, Va., to the state assembly, Nov. 14, 1785.

John Adams, America’s second president, named the Prophet Muhammad one of the world’s great truth seekers alongside Socrates and Confucius.

And George Washington was more than happy to employ Muslims, Jews or whoever could do the work at his precious Mt. Vernon.

Now, I realize that none of this answers the question at hand. Whether the founders would support the New York mosque is irrelevant. They aren't here and it's not their call. As T. Jefferson aptly stated, "The earth belongs to the living and not the dead." Speaking for myself, I tend to agree with King of Ireland (in general) on this issue. Certainly the supporters of this mosque have the right to build it. Anyone doubting this is wrong. BUT I do think that there's been a terrible lack of respect and tact on both sides of this issue.

In short, it's sort of become a "mote in your own eye" type issue...for both parties. But does it concern this blog? I'm not sure that it does.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I dunno, Brad. The author of the original post did his Barney the Dinosaur thing, and the discussion went where it went.

I recall that Jefferson abandoned his study of Islam, finding it too "alien," if I recall his use of the word correctly. Islam became a symbol for non-Christian monotheism in the Chesterfield County petition, and as a fill-in along with Hinduism as something to list in generic affirmations of religious pluralism.

Or in Washington's case, a simple plea for good workers at his farm, regardless of any other qualifications.

Brad Hart said...

I agree to a point, Tom. Yes, the founding generation had a nominal understanding of Islam. Jefferson, Adams, etc. only scratched the surface and gave it more lip service than sincere inquiry. So yes, perhaps Islam is used to signify monotheism that isn't Christianity.

But still, it demonstrates acceptance of religion other than Christianity. That's still a big thing. Maybe they even saw it as inferior, but still, they wanted ALL faith to be protected.

Barney the dinosaur! LOL!

Tom Van Dyke said...

I agree, Brad. When certain religious elements of our society demand freedom of religious expression, say, crosses or creches in a public place, they should do a thought experiment, that a similar request---or assertion of rights---were made by Muslims.

Goose and gander, eh?

I'm all for the freedom of the religious expression, goose AND gander.

[I'm not sure that's really at issue here in the mosque thing, though. The reality is that this mosque or cultural center or whatever is NOT going to achieve its stated purpose of serving as a "bridge" between the faiths, and if that were the sincere purpose, they'd have dropped the idea by now, as it's turned out to be anything but.]

Pinky said...

.
Here's a prety good link on the "End of history", etc.

http://duping.net/XHC/show.php?bbs=12&post=1059416

Pinky said...

.
Reading that post seems to give me a pretty good grasp of Hegel's ideas of the "end of history".
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Is it a correct explanation?
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Pinky said...

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I am reading Shadia Drury's critique on Strauss. She gets into this issue in her discussion on Carl Schmitt.
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There certainly seems to be a legitimate concern; but, like any other deal, this one is settled with the First Amendment.
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If we don't think building a mosque in any place is a good idea, we should seriously consider a Constitutional amendment.

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Tom Van Dyke said...

Schmitt once sent some work for Strauss to preview. Strauss sent his notes back, causing Schmitt to exclaim, "That Jew sees through me like an x-ray!"

As for Kojeve, he believed a European Union-style Universal Homogeneous State would be the end of history, the universalization of wisdom.

However, there are 1.3 billion people who think end of history will be the universalization of Islam.

It's not Athens and Jerusalem anymore, it's Paris and Mecca.

Man's perennial problems remain perennial. History is not ending just now, and regardless, for Leo Strauss, the triumph of either is the end of philosophy.

See

http://www.archive.org/details/LeoStraussRestatementOnXenophonshiero1950criticalEdition2010

King of Ireland said...

"[I'm not sure that's really at issue here in the mosque thing, though. The reality is that this mosque or cultural center or whatever is NOT going to achieve its stated purpose of serving as a "bridge" between the faiths, and if that were the sincere purpose, they'd have dropped the idea by now, as it's turned out to be anything but.]"


Exactly.

Pinky said...

.
I am beginning to develop some thinking on this mosque thing. I suspect it is being fueled by some anti-liberals. Perhaps, some within the Catholic Church.

I feel a vague suspicion that the anti-liberal movement originally came out of the Roman Catholic hierarchy and has spread to Evangelical Christianity.
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The ideas about the end of history are strongly tied into the strong hatred of liberalism and, yes, democracy that is growing to be so prevalent within America's conservatives.
.
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Mark Boggs said...

"I'm not sure that's really at issue here in the mosque thing, though. The reality is that this mosque or cultural center or whatever is NOT going to achieve its stated purpose of serving as a "bridge" between the faiths, and if that were the sincere purpose, they'd have dropped the idea by now, as it's turned out to be anything but."

And if they do drop the idea, then it proves that intimidating people works. And then the mosque in Murfreesboro, or Elgin, or Gallup might not be built because of the intense pressure "not to offend anyone's sensibilities."

And the idea that the only way to appease angry Americans who stupidly conflate all of Islam with 19 hijackers is to acquiesce to their emotional gyrations about sensitivity? In other words, American Muslims can show their respect to American Christians by politely relinquishing their first amendment rights at the whims of American Christians. That sound about right?

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

The issues being raised about the mosque being built close to "Ground Zero" is beginning to help me make some sense of some of the things I've heard Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh claim. I expect we'll be seeing more of this kind of rabble rousing as the November elections come closer.
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This is a truly big issue. It is coming to a head right now and it is liable to pop all over everything.
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I'm sure some officials are working over time trying to come up with some way of putting this fire out. It could erupt into something very dangerous.
.

King of Ireland said...

depends on what you mean by liberal?

Tom Van Dyke said...

And the idea that the only way to appease angry Americans who stupidly conflate all of Islam with 19 hijackers is to acquiesce to their emotional gyrations about sensitivity?

Too much loaded language.

appease
angry
stupidly
conflate
"all of Islam"
acquiesce
emotional
gyrations

All in one sentence???

Real people don't talk that way to each other, Mark. You get 2 mebbe, not 8. Dude.

Mark Boggs said...

Tom,

Sorry to offend you, but let's not not act like that isn't what is happening here and, with all due respect, you'll have to send me the appropriate approved language list so I can continue to comment like "real people" do without offending the sensibilities of others. (And after your post at Southern Appeal, you're actually going to chastise someone else about perceived loaded language?) Dude.

My point still stands. People want to act like Islam itself committed this crime. Which means that all of Christianity exploded the bomb at the Atlanta Olympics and kills abortion doctors, right?

Mark Boggs said...

And, to go further, Tom, it appears that you've taken my comment rather personally. I'm not sure if you're one of the "angry Americans who stupidly conflates all of Islam with 19 hijackers" and I surely wasn't pointing my finger at you. But having watched the anti-mosque rallies, I've seen the signs about victory mosques and Islam=terror, so the sentiment is definitely out there and in more numbers than just a fringe minority.

King of Ireland said...

Mark,

It is more than 19 hijackers. It is a formidable movement within Islam. You minimize that with your comment.

I think it would all go away if we leave though. All this crap clouds that fact. Binladenism, to steal a term from Tom, is a modern invention in response to Western occupation of the Middle East.

To return this to the founding I think that is what Adams was getting at when he wrote to about America not being a Christian Nation to the Muslims. I think he meant in a sense of Crusading in the name of Christ. We did not want any parts in that bullshit back then and should not now.

Mark Boggs said...

King,

Admittedly, any movement, no matter how small in numbers, that is willing to fly planes into buildings to kill a great number of people is formidable. One nut job with a nuke is formidable despite his solitary membership in his own club. Formidable and numerous are not synonymous.

And we are talking about American citizens, right? That seems important to me in this debate. And as far as taking it back into the context of the founders, unfortunately they didn't add on the qualifier to the first amendment which stated that, "if enough other "normal" Americans think your religion sucks, you don't get to exercise your rights."

But I definitley agree that much of what you call bin Ladenism is a direct result of our foreign policy.

On a side note, my "word verification" to post this comment is "vajunta". That just sounds wrong...and dirty...and awesome.

Pinky said...

.
To those of us that seem to think the civic center building by the Muslims represents a nefarious act on the part of Islam, it seems you need to gain some understanding on why your kind of thinking has any traction whatsoever.
.
I continue to be amazed at the many ways that Strauss's teachings can be applied to so many of the issues raised at this site.
.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Mark, the "exercise of rights" is not at issue here. The vast majority of opponents do not dent there's a right to build it.

I am unsatisfied the motives of the Imam are sincere. Even if they are, there are millions of radicals who will see it as a "victory mosque." There are a number of American Muslims I've seen quoted who argue that.

As for your rhetorical style, I have found it largely peculiar to regular readers of Daily Kos and viewers of MSNBC. Just an observation.

Mark Boggs said...

Tom,

And millions of Americans, some high up in the military see our presence in the middle east as our God against their God and our ability to blow them into the stone age as some sort of objective judgment of who is right and who is wrong. Does that make what we're doing a crusade for Christianity?

And it's a nice touch to ascribe to me some sort of subscription to left wing web sites because of how I stated my opinion. I didn't realize entire swaths of the english language were partisan.

Pinky said...

.
Mark, are you familiar with the work of Carl Schmitt, on the domains of society including politics, religion, education, etc? The ideas he developed on dualism?
.

Mark Boggs said...

No.

Pinky said...

.
The obvious thing about this hustle about the building of an Islamic Center near Ground Zero is that it is all political.
.
I brought Carl Schmitt into the thread. Here is something Shadia Drury has to say in her book on page 87:
.
"In his concept o0f the political, Carl Schmitt romanticizes the political. He argues that politics is an autonomous and unique domain of life that is distinct from the moral, religious, economic, and aesthetic dimensions of existence. According to Schmitt, each domain of existence has its own peculiar dualism; morality is about good and evil, economics is about profits and liabilities, and aesthetics is about beauty and ugliness. What is true of all these domains of life, is equally true of the political, which has its own peculiar dualism--the friend and the foe. Schmitt goes to great length to show that this peculiarly political distinction is not identical to any of these other distinctions, nor does it overlap with any of them. The political enemy 'need not be morally evil or aesthetically ugly,' he need not even be an 'economic competitor.' It suffices that the political enemy is 'the other, the stranger, ... something different and alien. The foe is one who threatens one's own existence an d way of life. To be political is to recognize the foe and to keep him at bay."

Here's the link to Drury's book. My html editor seems to be broken.
.
http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=leo+strauss+american+right&tag=yahhyd-20&index=stripbooks&hvadid=29073273011&ref=pd_sl_1tyuuxyrky_b
.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I didn't realize entire swaths of the english language were partisan.

Certain rhetorical styles have come to be, yes. They jump out right away, like a visitor from the Bearded Spock Universe when thrown into the real universe by an inverse-phase interdimensional transporter accident.

As for the question of political philosophy and Islam in particular, Pinky posted a very helpful overview.


http://duping.net/XHC/show.php?bbs=12&post=1059416

This is the level we're comfortable with here, not the street level. If you disagree with Samuel Huntington [and many do], that's a nice arm's-length place to start.

As for those who see all this as Our God against Their God, well, it takes all kinds.

http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/top-muslims-condemn-ground-zero-mosque-as-a-%E2%80%98zionist-conspiracy%E2%80%99/

Tom Van Dyke said...

What is true of all these domains of life, is equally true of the political, which has its own peculiar dualism--the friend and the foe. Schmitt goes to great length to show that this peculiarly political distinction is not identical to any of these other distinctions, nor does it overlap with any of them.

That's come up on my Strauss list.

Basically, unlike classical philosophy and at least one Abrahamic religion, Christianity explicitly commands one to love his enemy.

Pinky said...

.

Basically, unlike classical philosophy and at least one Abrahamic religion, Christianity explicitly commands one to love his enemy.

.
That is precisely why Schmitt claims the political has its own distinctions.
.
You probably know that Schmitt was a Nazi type even though something he wrote to Hindenburg caused him to fall out of Hitler's graces.
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The Nazi leadership didn't necessarily dislike the Jews. The problem was that they were different--outsiders. They didn't try to get rid of the Jews because they didn't like them. It was because the two cultures were incompatible.
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That's what I get out of my reading, anyway. Maybe others get something else?
.
That extrapolates to say that we must have enemies if our politics is to be effective. It's too bad if they're good guys; but that's the way it is. We have to make them out to be bad guys so the public will give our side of the political spectrum support. You destroy your enemies for the simple reason they are your enemies. They are in the wrong place at the wrong time?
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Schmitt and Strauss agreed on much of what both promoted.
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Mark Boggs said...

Thanks, Pinky.

I did a quick internet search and read some of the things Schmitt was writing about and understand his idea of the "friend and foe" politically and that seems to pretty well describe what we're seeing in this debate.

There have been some parallels to how the Mormons were looked at when Reed Smoot was selected for the Senate.

I understand the tendency to see Muslims as the other, I'm just not sure it isn't counterproductive, dangerous, and unjustified.

Thanks for the links.

Pinky said...

.
[The Nazis] didn't try to get rid of the Jews because they didn't like them. It was because the two cultures were incompatible.
.
Which brings up the problem Islam presents to our Western Civilization which is based on Judeo/Christian religiosity. Our values are incompatible with what Islam presents. And, to be perfectly honest, our secular values are incompatible with what has come to be known as Christian orthodoxy. I have a sense that is why there is such a strong current we call the Christian Right in our politics.
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Tom Van Dyke said...

The question is can a normative Islam develop that's compatible with Western liberal democracy?

Certainly on the individual level, there are many Muslims who thrive in America and are assets to the republic.

But is there something about Islam...?

For instance, India seems to be finding its way to a compatibility with Western liberal democracy. Hinduism and caste are surely an obstacle, but they elected a Dalit a few years back as PM, so it's not an insurmountable obstacle.

Pinky said...

.
I'm just not sure it isn't counterproductive, dangerous, and unjustified.
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Sure, its all of those things. As my dear old mother used to say, "Ain't life grand!"
.
We see what happened in history when the Germans developed their Nazi ways. It was very counterproductive, dangerous, and unjustified in the end. But, they thought it was the way to go as long as they were riding so high on the hog.
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Another thing about those neocons is that they don't necessarily count on history for any edification. "America was not Founded out of modernity; but, out of ancient ideologies."
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Pinky said...

.
I'm sure there were Jews who were more than willing to adapt to the more traditional ways in Nazi Germany.
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That didn't make any difference, They were still ferreted out and sent to concentration camps for destruction.
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Why's that?
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They were different--the others--the foe--the enemy. During war, you kill your enemies. Apparently Eichmann admired many jews; but, they were destroyed never the less.
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King of Ireland said...

"The question is can a normative Islam develop that's compatible with Western liberal democracy?"

They seem to revere parts of the Old Testament so I wonder how they would take to imago dei origins of rights? I have not read much of the Koran but have read a few books about it. I have talked with thousands of Muslims about it. My impression is that God is distant and angry. Islam means submission. Not so sure you could ever get rights in there without changing the core premises of the religion.

A good study for someone that would like to try though.