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Pro and Con, or squished?

Monday, February 20th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — counterpoint: giving all voices a fair hearing. even when conflicting ]
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I try to avoid taking political sides in American politics, partly because I’m a guest here and it seems only polite and wise to leave such matters to my hosts, and partly because bridge-building is the therapeutic method of choice in times of division and conflict. Keeping to a middle path may be something of a high-wire act, though, and is seldom popular wit those on either side.

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I went looking for a quote that expresses the idea that this kind of middle way can get you killed, and my friends offered me a variety of possible items including Jim Hightower saying:

There’s nothing in the middle of the road but a yellow stripe and dead armadillos.

and Mr Miyagi:

Squished!!

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The most cerebral near-miss was this one, from Adam Gopnik writing about and quoting Camus in the New Yorker a while back:

At the Liberation, he wrote (in Arthur Goldhammer’s translation):

Now that we have won the means to express ourselves, our responsibility to ourselves and to the country is paramount. . . . The task for each of us is to think carefully about what he wants to say and gradually to shape the spirit of his paper; it is to write carefully without ever losing sight of the urgent need to restore to the country its authoritative voice. If we see to it that that voice remains one of vigor, rather than hatred, of proud objectivity and not rhetoric, of humanity rather than mediocrity, then much will be saved from ruin.

Responsibility, care, gradualness, humanity—even at a time of jubilation, these are the typical words of Camus, and they were not the usual words of French political rhetoric. The enemy was not this side or that one; it was the abstraction of rhetoric itself. He wrote, “We have witnessed lying, humiliation, killing, deportation, and torture, and in each instance it was impossible to persuade the people who were doing these things not to do them, because they were sure of themselves, and because there is no way of persuading an abstraction.”

and the most scriptural from Scott McW, Revelation 3.14-16:

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Michael Lotus supplied:

There’s even a film (h/t Barbara Hope) titled In Danger and Dire Distress the Middle of the Road Leads to Death — though I haven’t seen it.

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John Messer catches the perspective I’m coming from when he comments:

One limitation perhaps is our framing of the challenge as a dichotomy rather than a 360 POV or perhaps a sphere of alternatives. In mediation one always looks for the unifying value that embraces all.

It seems harder and harder to present both sides of en ever-more-violently polarized situation without taking fire from each side — so I’d ask you to read what follows (and my posts on similar topics) as attempts at that unifying balance, rather than as statements of my own preferences.. which do exist, and no doubt can be glimpsed, but are not what I’m trying to propagate with my writings, at least thus far..

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Consider these two opinions of Trump aide Sebastian Gorka — each the opinion of a valued friend:

and:

It was F Scott Fitzgerald who said, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”

Is there any room for a first-rate intelligence any more?

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Or consider this juxtaposition as a DoubleQuote expression of a parallelism between Trump and Hitler:

Is that fair comment or not?

The two phrases are indeed close parallels –n but obviously the Nazi analogy is one that (a) members of the never Trump faction feel a strong urge to explore, and (b) which is liable to close the ears of the pro Trump faction to any logic it might possess.

How do we hear both sides of so fraught an issue?

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How do we retain awareness of that superbly humble and nuanced insight of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn?

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
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During the life of any heart this line keeps changing place; sometimes it is squeezed one way by exuberant evil and sometimes it shifts to allow enough space for good to flourish. One and the same human being is, at various ages, under various circumstances, a totally different human being. At times he is close to being a devil, at times to sainthood. But his name doesn’t change, and to that name we ascribe the whole lot, good and evil.

That’s the perspective I cherish.

Please see also my follow-up post..

Dawson & Amarasingam, Furnish & McCants

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — multi-causal and single focus motivations not incompatible ]
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Tim Furnish offered a terse “File this under ‘duh.'” in response to a CNSNews report titled Study: Religion is ‘Primary Motivator’ of Foreign Jihadists Who Go to Iraq & Syria on Facebook today. In response to a comment, he elaborated: “I’ve done the same study about 37 times over the last 15 years.”

Tim’s right. But I also believe we need a more nuanced approach to the issue of motivation.

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Here’s the passage from the study in question, Lorne Dawson and Amarnath Amarasingam‘s Talking to Foreign Fighters: Insights into the Motivations for Hijrah to Syria and Iraq:

The findings reported here converge with those of these other studies in terms of how people radicalize and become foreign fighters. However, they tend to diverge with regard to why they go. In the twenty interviews analyzed no one indicated, directly or indirectly, that forms of socioeconomic marginalization played a significant role in their motivation to become a foreign fighter. Moreover, the interactions with these individuals were so heavily mediated by religious discourse it seems implausible to suggest that religiosity (i.e., a sincere religious commitment, no matter how ill-informed or unorthodox) is not a primary motivator for their actions. Religion provides the dominant frame these foreign fighters use to interpret almost every aspect of their lives, and this reality should be given due interpretive weight.

There we are:

Religion provides the dominant frame these foreign fighters use to interpret almost every aspect of their lives

I couldn’t agree more. But then again, as Will McCants reminds us in Trump’s misdiagnosis of the jihadist threat (late 2016, but now twitter-pinned “because the causality question comes up constantly”):

The disappoint stems from the desire to attribute the jihadist phenomenon to a single cause rather than to several causes that work in tandem to produce it. To my mind, the most salient are these: a religious heritage that lauds fighting abroad to establish states and to protect one’s fellow Muslims; ultraconservative religious ideas and networks exploited by militant recruiters; peer pressure (if you know someone involved, you’re more likely to get involved); fear of religious persecution; poor governance (not type of government); youth unemployment or underemployment in large cities; and civil war. All of these factors are more at play in the Arab world now than at any other time in recent memory, which is fueling a jihadist resurgence around the world.

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I’ve never been clear-headed enough to follow Aristotle‘s distinctions between material, formal, efficient, and final causes, let alone discussion of hypothetical causes that follow their effects, but it seems to me that the two statements above are easily reconciled if we understand that there are many causes for disgruntlement, to which a religious solution is in all cases present as disgruntlement turns to ISIS-sympathetic recruitment.

Religion (as Dawson & Amarasingam have it, “i.e., a sincere religious commitment, no matter how ill-informed or unorthodox”) is the sine qua non of jihadism.

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So yeah, doh! — with multi-factorial causality earlier in the process..

Dabiq issue 15, specific notes part 1, Crucifixion

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — first of two parts of an essay on Dabiq‘s attack on Christian doctrines ]
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dabiq 15 cover

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I have written a two part essay examining the latest issue of ISIS’ Dabiq magazine, which is essentially an attack on Christianity and invitation ot Islam.

The first part, dealing mostly with the Crucifixion, is now out at LapidoMedia under the title ‘Breaking the cross’: Pathetic ISIS ‘theologians’ get wires crossed. Here’s the opening:

Misapprehension of Christian doctrine once again provides the excuse for Islamic State war-mongering.

The latest issue of its propaganda magazine Dabiq focuses on the crucifixion of Jesus and the Trinity, although Judaism, secularism, atheism, and feminism also get a drubbing.

The issue invites Christians in particular, and other non-Muslims in general, to abandon their beliefs and adopt Islam – an invitation accompanied by violent threats against those who refuse.

The introduction exults in recent attacks in Orlando, Nice, Germany and Normandy, adding: ‘[W]e take this occasion of multiple massacres inflicted upon their citizens and interests to call them once again to the religion of pure monotheism, truth, mercy, justice, and the sword. ‘

As in previous issues of Dabiq, the magazine opens with the declaration of the group’s founder, Abu Mus’ab az-Zarqawi, that the jihad will not end ‘until it burns the Crusader armies in Dabiq’ – a reference to the site of the great end-times battle in an otherwise obscure apocalyptic hadith [alleged saying of Muhammad].

The back cover of the magazine closes with another hadith. ‘By the One in whose Hand is my soul, very soon shall the Son of Maryam descend in your midst, being an equitable judge. He shall break the cross, kill the swine, and put aside the jizyah.’

Please click through to read the rest on the LapidoMedia site.

The second part of my essay will be posted at Lapido shortly — likely on Friday — and mainly deals with the ISIS magazine’s attack on the Christian doctrine of the Trinity viewed as a denial of God’s unity (Tawhid).

I’ll post an announcement here when it comes out.

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Also of note, from Tim Furnish:

Tim Furnish is quoted discussing Dabiq 15 in a WND piece, ISIS: Christians are pagan ‘cross worshippers’. If he writes anything on MahdiWatch or elsewhere on the topic, Ill let you know.

Meanwhile, Tim’s tweet gives the short version:

Fake and authentic Dabiq #15s

Sunday, July 31st, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — noting a further IS propaganda effort to frame its terror as a war against Christendom ]
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Fake Dabiq 15:

Clicking through the two images will allow you to see them in full. These are the fake Dabiq 15s.

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Authentic Dabiq 15:

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Dabiq 15’s Break the Cross page:

Break the Cross

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DoubleQuoting Dabiq 15 and the Gospel:

Tablet DQ 600 Break the Cross Gates of Hell

This one’s for Tim Furnish. Upper panel above, the claim of the Islamic State; lower panel, the claim of Christianity.

Mark your calendars, mark my words

Saturday, July 30th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — two more dates certain for The End ]
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Tablet DQ 600 dates certain

Maybe we’re living in the End Times — but if so, Time apparently stutters before it stops.

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Tip-o-the-hat to Tim Furnish.

Sources:

  • Fox11, July 29 2016, Time’s up: Prophets of doom say world will end in a few hours
  • Morning Ledger, July 30 2016, End Of The World 2016: Real Dooms Day Is January 2017
  • Oh, and:


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