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Anti-Muslim converts to Islam — Enantiodromia!

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — balancing explanations — psychological, sociological, anthropological ]
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Carl Jung‘s definitions of enantiodromia read:

In the philosophy of Heraclitus it [enantiodromia] is used to designate the play of opposites in the course of events—the view that everything that exists turns into its opposite….

I use the term enantiodromia for the emergence of the unconscious opposite in the course of time. [CW 6, 708 & 709]

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There could hardly be a clearer set of instances of this individual psychological principle than this, as reported by David A Graham in the strong>Atlantic yesterday:

The Strange Cases of Anti-Islam Politicians Turned Muslims
Three recent incidents seem to highlight a quirk of sociology.

More details:

Last fall, Arthur Wagner was part of something remarkable: His political party, the anti-Islam, anti-immigrant Alternative für Deutschland, entered the Bundestag, becoming the first far-right party in the body since the 1950s. This year, Wagner has done something even more [ .. ]remarkable: He has converted to Islam and left AfD.

Even stranger, Wagner is not the first person to leave a far-right, anti-Islam party in Europe and become a Muslim. Arnoud van Doorn, a member of Geert Wilders’s Dutch Freedom Party—which is another far-right, anti-Islam party—left it in 2011, converted to Islam in 2012, and soon after made hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca Muslims are obliged to make at least once in their lifetimes. And in 2014, Maxence Buttey, a local councillor for the National Front (FN), France’s analogous far-right party, converted to Islam and was suspended from the party committee.

In the United States, a grisly story made headlines last year when an 18-year-old former neo-Nazi in Tampa who said he had converted to Islam confessed to killing two (apparently still) neo-Nazi roommates, though that case is so grotesque, and the use of violence so far from mainstream Muslim practice, that it defies comparison to the European examples. (The suspect also shouted a nonsensical, non-Muslim phrase.)

In all cases, the shift from anti-Muslim to Muslim is counterintuitive.

The same article quotes friend JM Berger, commenting after the Charlotesville shootings —

The process and structure of radicalization and extremism are the same in different kinds of movements, even when the content of the extremist belief is different (such as with neo-Nazis and jihadists)

— all this as part of a sociological explanation of conversions to and from extremisms.

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The sociological explanations are well-represented by these paras:

There seem to be some people who are joiners, eager to become part of larger groups. Almost everyone will know someone like this, perhaps someone who is constantly searching for new social groups or joining new organizations, or perhaps even a spiritual seeker-type who flirts with a succession of faiths. The cliche about the “zeal of the convert” exists for a reason.

According to Michael Hogg’s uncertainty-identity theory, people seek to reduce questions about who they are, where they fit in the world, and how people view them. “One way to satisfy this motivation is to identify with a group (a team, an organization, a religion, an ethnicity, a nation, etc.) a process that not only defines and locates oneself in the social world but also prescribes how one should behave and how one should interact with others,” Hogg writes.

I don’t think these sociological explanations really conflict with Jung’s theory of enantiodromia, but the latter seems more exact – “turning into the opposite” rather than “showing a propensity for eextremes” — because in my view, Jung’s version hits the mark so exactly.

I’m too fatigued to fisk Graham’s article more extensively, but my main point is that enantiodromia is “closer in” than the sociological motive, focusing in the indiviual rather than the group.

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Issues of this kind crop up quite frequently. IMO we need some kind of useful understandings of the boundaries between anthropology and sociology, and of the complex relations of both with psychology.

The Barcelona Response

Monday, August 28th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — from a half-million-strong march to the hug of a victim’s father and an imam, Barcelona and Spain repond to terror with nobility and grace ]
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Telesur‘s headline read Nearly 500,000 March for Peace in Barcelona, and their subhead:

Marchers, on Saturday, displayed signs and banners with various slogans. Some read, “No to Islamophobia,” “The best response: Peace,” and “I’m not afraid.”

The march:

A makeshift shrine to those killed in the attack:

A monarch visits the survivors of terror:

NPR reports on the celebration of Mass in La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona:

Mass Held In Barcelona To Honor Victims Of Terror Attacks

Spain’s King Felipe and Queen Letizia and other dignitaries attend a solemn Mass at Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia Basilica on Sunday for the victims of the terror attacks that killed 14 people and wounded over 120 in Barcelona, Spain.

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We remember the sacred magnificence of the ritual setting, Antonio Gaudi‘s Basilica of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, in which this Mass was offered:

And Spain’s considerable Moorish history, exemplified by the Mezquita of Cordoba:

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We witness the profound gesture of the father of the youngest victim, as reported by Daily Sabah, Europe:

Father of youngest victim of Spain attacks hugs imam in defiance of terror, Islamophobia

The father of the youngest victim of last week’s tragic terror attacks in Cambrils and Barcelona hugged a local imam in an emotional protest against terror and Islamophobia.

Xavier Martinez, who lost his three-year-old son Xavi in the attack on Las Ramblas avenue, embraced Spanish imam Driss Salym in the town of Rubi, near Barcelona on Friday. The video of the two hugging, defiantly showing unity and compassion, was widely shared on social media.

Here is the BBC’s video:

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Oof, the imam’s tears at the end of that clip.

Many cities have shown their resilience when attacked, and we are proud of them: Barcelona best of all.

Monkey see monkey do, or an eye for an eye

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — or, I suppose you could say, symmetry ]
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The Finsbury Park Mosque attacker drove a car into a crowd because he was disgusted by the Westminster Bridge attacker who drove a car into a crowd:

Ah well, bin Laden back in the day had a more sophisticated form of the same practice. As he put it in a speech to America::

And as I looked at those demolished towers in Lebanon, it entered my mind that we should punish the oppressor in kind and that we should destroy towers in America in order that they taste some of what we tasted and so that they be deterred from killing our women and children.

Sources:

  • SPLC, What We Know: Finsbury Park Attack
  • Telegraph, Westminster attack: Everything we know so far
  • Zenpundit, Close reading, Synoptic- and Sembl-style
  • Muslim does not equal Terrorist

    Friday, April 21st, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — witting or unwitting, there’s a blatant inability to make this simple distinction ]
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    The sane alternative:


    Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba and His Holiness the Dalai
    Lama are two role models for our century.

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    There’s an interesting conflation of Islam and Terrorism in a post titled 2 Faces of Islam: Why All Muslims Benefit from Terrorism from Freedom Outpost:

    While many Muslims are just as horrified by terrorism as the rest of us are, all Muslims nevertheless benefit from Islam. This is because both peaceful and violent Muslims tend to share two important goals: (1) the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam, and (2) the silencing of critics of Islam. Since terrorism helps achieve these goals, all Muslims benefit from Islam.

    This would make sense — I’m not saying I’d agree with it, merely that it would have a logical form to it that wouldn’t make me go cross-eyed — if it read [note: this paragraph edited in light of comment below]:

    While many Muslims are just as horrified by terrorism as the rest of us are, all Muslims nevertheless benefit from terrorism. This is because both peaceful and violent Muslims tend to share two important goals: (1) the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam, and (2) the silencing of critics of Islam. Since terrorism helps achieve these goals, all Muslims benefit from terrorism.

    But no: under a caption that tells us 2 Faces of Islam: Why All Muslims Benefit from Terrorism, it twice states all Muslims nevertheless benefit from Islam.

    The conflation is evident, Islam and Terrorism are interchangeable in the writer’s mind, and that interoperability is liable to find an echo in — or seep diasastrously into — the reader’s mind, too.

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    The actual relation between Islam and contemporary Islamist terrorism is neither “Islam is a religion of no terrorism (aka peace)” nor “Islam is a religion of terrorism (aka war)”. To get at a couple of the major nuances here, the Meccan Cantos and the Medinan cantos of the Quran suggest very different readings of what the religion was originally all about, and how it adapted to violent hostility; and in terms of contemporary Islam, not all Muslims are Salafist, and not all Salafists are jihadist fighters, but some of them most definitely and ruthlessly are.

    In addition, Islam needs to be considered both scripturally — the usual western critique — and culturally, by which I mean how Islamic belief plays out in cultural practice across time and space — a far subtler matter. SH Nasr‘s The Study Quran is a prime guide to the former, and Shahab Ahmed‘s What Is Islam?
    The Importance of Being Islamic the towering work to digest in understanding the latter.

    A useful corrective to the “Islam is a religion of war” perspective can be found in the lives and works of two proniment Muslim proponents and practitioners of nonviolence, Sheikh Amadou Bamba, founder of the Muridiyya or Mourides, and Badshah Khan, Gandhi‘s Muslim friend.

    For context around the Mourides, and in constrast with the Wahhabis of the Levanty, see Why are there so few Islamists in West Africa? A dialogue between Shadi Hamid and Andrew Lebovich.

    The inability to distinguish Muslim from Terrorist, and the violence that follows it, can truly be described as Islamophobia.

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    Image:

  • Sheikh Aly N’Daw, Choice, Liberty and Love: Consciousness in Action
  • Balancing the books —

    Sunday, May 29th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — a precarious matter, unless you are accustomed to carrying books that way ]
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    Here’s a DoubleTweet in the form of a call-and-response, with an intriguing appearance of symmetry.

    Does the formal symmetry here have something to say to us? Is it hopelessly skewed? If so, which way does the balance tip for you, and why?


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