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1  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Idaho Senate votes down state amphibian bill due to federal govt and "eww icky" on: January 23, 2015, 01:19:27 pm
Wow, the Idaho legislature sure is mature, isn't it? First of all, they are talking about a state amphibian. And then they vote it down because it is "ugly". Lol.
2  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Obama to Propose Capital Gains Tax Increase & Extending the Earned Income Credit on: January 21, 2015, 08:16:14 am
Quote from: IceSpear link=topic=205968.msg4456438#msg4456438 date=14216
Sounds great to me. Smiley
[/quote

This can backfire in the short term. Namely, a Republican wins in 2016 and is re-elected. That would decimate ObamaCare and leave Obama with a much weaker legacy. He still can have the rhetoric but not quite a full bodied legacy as he had hoped.

I can see a Republican government basically shredding key parts of the ACA and doing a tax cut. A Republican President would also be rolling back whatever Obama executive orders he could, left, right, and center. Especially on the EPA and environment.

The Democrats very much want to avoid this. But it's very plausible this will happen.

I doubt the GOP could win the presidency if they actually ran on shredding the ACA. Sure, they will be against "Obamacare" but they really can't do sh**t about the ACA. It's too popular already, and will be even more popular in 2016 as people will have gotten insurance from the marketplace for years by that point.

This is not to say no changes will be made to the ACA, but the Republicans won't be able to limit access/subsidies without a huge outcry.
3  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Obama to Propose Capital Gains Tax Increase & Extending the Earned Income Credit on: January 18, 2015, 02:59:15 am
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/17/obama-sotu-taxes_n_6493144.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

Quote
During his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Barack Obama will lay out a plan to extend tax credits to the middle class by hiking taxes on wealthier Americans and big banks, according to senior administration officials.

Under the plan, the capital gains tax would be raised from its current level of 15 percent up to 28 percent for couples with incomes over $500,000 a year. The plan would also strip a tax break, known as a "step-up," that allows heirs to avoid capital gains taxes on large inheritances.

In addition, the plan would institute a new tax on the biggest financial institutions, basing the fee on liabilities in order to discourage risky borrowing. The administration says the fee would hit the roughly 100 banks that have assets of $50 billion or more.


The president's plan would use revenues from those tax code changes to finance credits aimed at the middle class, officials said. That includes extending the earned income tax credits to families without children, which would benefit an estimated 13 million low-income workers, while also tripling the maximum tax credits for child care in low- and middle-income homes.

"This proposal is probably the most impactful way we can address the manifest unfairness in our tax system," an administration official said.

The tax hikes on capital gains would run into heavy opposition from Republicans in the GOP-controlled Congress. Other elements of the president's plan, however, have enjoyed some degree of bipartisan support. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) has proposed a similar tax on big banks, and many Republicans favor the idea of broadening the earned income tax credit.

According to officials, the capital gains tax reforms would impact "almost exclusively" the top 1 percent of earners, carving out the majority of middle-income families from the hikes.

In addition to the tax credits, the president's proposals will also include a plan to give more workers access to retirement accounts. Employers with at least 10 workers who don't currently offer their employees a 401(k) would have to enroll them in what's known as an automatic IRA, a plan that Obama has included in previous budgets he's proposed.

Bucking tradition, the White House has been laying out such proposals in advance of the president's speech, rather than surprising viewers with the policy measures on Tuesday. The president has already laid out a proposal to make some community college free and to extend paid leave to more people, including federal workers.

Officials said they have been viewing the past two weeks as an opportunity to begin making the president's case for how to improve the economy for the middle class.

"It's a clearer way for the president to present his vision," said one official.


FF!

So if the Republicans oppose this, which they surely will, will you be voting Democrat in 2016?
4  General Politics / Economics / Re: USA inflation in 2015 on: January 18, 2015, 12:13:36 am
Would lower inflation due to lower gas prices be a bad thing though, except for a few industries? If anything, more industries will be able to pass through more of their cost as their spending on transportation would go down.

The difficulty would be if it led to general deflation thruout the economy and not lower inflation.  Deflation can lead to a vicious circle that kills employment as people put off purchases because the money they can save by deferring until later is worth more to them than the gratification of owning something now rather than later.

Since the economy is improving and taking into account what the Fed has already done, I think that is highly unlikely. Lower gas prices will help many people who have not been sharing in the recovery, and will finally be able to make a few discretionary purchases they have been putting off for forever.
5  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Congressional Elections / Re: CA-Sen: California Quake on: January 17, 2015, 03:36:43 pm
Why are people thinking Harris won't do well with Latinos? They have no reason not to support her. She has been very friendly on immigrant rights issues and herself is a child of immigrants. If anything, this should attract Latinos to her candidacy. Furthermore, Latinos will only make up about 30-35% of the Democratic voting electorate in the primary, so while their vote is crucial, it doesn't necessarily determine who wins the primary.
6  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 17, 2015, 01:08:53 pm
The Quran is not the only authority in Islam.  But, I looked it up and here is a quote from the Hadith.

Quote
that he heard the Prophet saying, “From among my followers there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcoholic drinks and the use of musical instruments, as lawful. And there will be some people who will stay near the side of a mountain and in the evening their shepherd will come to them with their sheep and ask them for something, but they will say to him, ‘Return to us tomorrow.’ Allah will destroy them during the night and will let the mountain fall on them, and He will transform the rest of them into monkeys and pigs and they will remain so till the Day of Resurrection.

Obviously, certain kinds of singing is part of Islam like singing the call to prayer and singing the Quran.  And, I think there are certain musical instruments that are OK.  But, I think the majority view is that a Muslims should not listen to say, a piano or a violin. 

Whether that means banning violins by the government?  I don't know. 

And what evidence do you have for this declaration?

Maybe that is the case in Saudi Arabia, where wahhabism is taught as the only interpretation of Islam. It certainly would be a shock to the vast majority of muslims in India, whether they are conservative or liberal. I don't know if you know this, but Muslims play a major part in Bollywood with many famous singers being Muslim as well as many prominent actors, including the most famous actor, Shahrukh Khan. And his movies, which contain many, many things wahhabis would find offensive, are widely watched not just in India, but in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran etc.
7  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: The Next Florida on: January 17, 2015, 12:52:27 pm
Something else Louisiana has going for it is its growing film industry, and New Orleans is quickly starting to be regarded as a destination for educated, artistic young adults as cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco suffer from bad labor markets and slow growth.

Uhh..what? Do you have any clue about what is going on in the Bay Area right now? There is a boom going on over there. The 1990's are back in the Bay Area (but not the rest of California).

And to answer the thread, obviously the answer is South Carolina. It already has Myrtle Beach and Charleston, warm weather, nice beaches and has easy access to the East Coast, where a lot of the retirees come from.
8  General Politics / Economics / Re: USA inflation in 2015 on: January 17, 2015, 12:34:33 pm
Would lower inflation due to lower gas prices be a bad thing though, except for a few industries? If anything, more industries will be able to pass through more of their cost as their spending on transportation would go down.
9  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 17, 2015, 12:23:44 pm
Talking about an entire religion is a lot to take on.  I could talk about Islamic history, the prohibitions on innovation in religion, the quasi-nationalistic concepts that encourage isolation and us vs. them and the statistics from polling to religious motivated terrorist attacks.  But, I wonder if I could just take on a discrete issue.  Imagine we polled and got honest answers from three groups of people, the priests of the three largest religious denominations among the three big monotheistic religions.

Reform Judaism, Catholicism and Sunni Islam.

Obviously, among those religious leaders there will be variation.  There will be reform Jewish rabbis that are essentially agnostic if you pushed them on it.  There will be Mel Gibson type Catholic priests and Liberation theology espousing left-wing Catholic priests.  There will be Salafi, closet ISIS supporting imams and also, more moderate Sunni Muslim imams from South Asia.  But, imagine the range of beliefs among those groups, rabbi/preist/imam. 

Here are some Sunni Islamic beliefs:

Women and men should not intermingle in society.
Women should be covered except for their face in public.
Women shouldn't leave their home for an extended period of time without being accompanied by a male relative.
Music is prohibited, specific musical instruments.
Gay sex should be punished by execution of both parties.
Thieves should have a hand cut off as punishment.
Muslims belong to a quasi-national community that takes precedence.
Democracy and Western government is antithetical to Islam.
It would be desirable to create an Islamic caliphate.
Terrorism in the name of religion is sometimes justified.

Now, I would call those beliefs problematic to varying degrees.  What percentage of Sunni imams preach these ideas in their mosque?  What percentage of Reform Rabbis or Catholic priests teach similarly problematic things?  That's the difference for me.  I think some of the above ideas are common in Sunni Islam, as taught in the USA and some are so pernicious that even if 5% of imams teach those ideas, that's concerning.   

I don't think there are equivalently dangerous ideas among Reform Rabbis or Catholic priests.

Is there any evidence in the Koran that Islam bans music? Or are you conflating Wahabbism with all of Sunni Islam?

In addition, it is safe to say that there is nothing in the Koran about Democracy and western governments, and thus it would be an "innovation" to preach about these subjects and pretend like god had said anything about these subjects. So those Imams would be doing the very same thing they claim to be against....
10  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 17, 2015, 12:07:04 pm
As I mentioned in the response to Marokai above, if the link between Islamists and Islamic terrorism is that important, why don't we see more terrorism in places like Malaysia or Bangladesh? You yourself gave evidence that even in these supposed moderate countries, the people still profess to believe in things written in the Koran which are highly illiberal. I think wahabbism is a different beast than your traditional, conservative Islam. Wahabbism advocates for the killing of other muslims who visit shrines of sufi saints. So you can only imagine what its followers think of people in other religions....

Yes, sbane, I agree.  However, I've made it clear what I'm arguing, so I don't understand why you keep asking me again.  Islamist religious beliefs are a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for Islamist terrorism.  I don't know why you keep pointing out that Wahhabism is a different thing than conservative Islam, like I don't know that, or like I've been arguing otherwise.

As for the discussion of Islam, again as I asked Marokai, I have to ask what is to be gained from singling out Islam for criticism. It just does not accomplish anything, except pissing off muslims who are basically on our side and who do hold liberal views.

Those necessary-but-not-sufficient beliefs for religious extremism are more widespread in Islam than Christianity or Judaism or Hinduism.  That does not mean they are only in Islam.  It does not mean they are shared by most Muslims.  It does not mean other religiously-inspired extremism doesn't warrant criticism, as with he Uganda case.  It does not mean anything but the very literal words I've carefully wrote in this thread.

But there is an equivocation you're nearly making here that you've nearly made several times.  The Muslims who are "basically on our side and who do hold liberal values" are not the same as the non-Wahabbists.  Conservative, traditionalist Muslims largely do not hold liberal values, unless you're defining liberal values by "opposing blowing people up for liberalism."  I'm all for alliances with people who oppose terrorism.  However, that doesn't mean I don't think that the values they hold aren't problematic, and aren't potentially fostering extremism within their societies' ranks.  Not always, not inevitably, and not consistently between countries, but often.

I can sort of see your perspective, as you think Islamism leads to extremism and terrorist attacks (not always as you point out but it increases the likelihood of it). I don't think the link is that simple. You think this is merely about religion, whereas I think the cultures of the regions involved play a huge role as well. As someone who is primarily concerned with terrorism in the Islamic world as opposed to its other ills, I consider someone who rejects violence but may still think the Koran is the literal word of god, to be my ally in that fight against terrorism.

OK, dude, I have never said that I think this is "all about religion."  I have said the opposite several times.  I can keep clarifying my argument, but it's going to be pointless if you keep not reading it.  I sincerely believe that you're trying to be fair-minded here, which is why I'm so confused as to why you keep reading arguments that aren't being made.

First let me define how I see the groups within Islam because I apparently confused you:

"basically on our side and who do hold liberal values"= people who are liberal and hold the same liberal values as us, but who identify as Muslim. People like Fareed Zakaria, Reza Aslan, my super liberal friend who works for an organization for battered women and lived in a commune for a while etc.. I will readily admit these people are less easy to find in Islam than in Christianity, but that is mostly because these values are more prevalent in the west.

The next category are the vast majority of Muslims. This category contains those "moderate" Muslims as well as Islamists who reject violence. I am deliberately keeping this category big because you can argue all of them are not wholly compatible with western, liberal values in some form or another. Within this group you will find those who are conservative/literalist on every issue there is (Islamists). And of course you will find your normal human beings who will look the other way on some issues like alcohol (because they like it) but are conservative on other issues like gay rights (ew, that guy kissed another guy!). The common thread within this group is that they reject violence in the name of Islam.

The next category are the terrorists. This is the smallest of the group and these people are the enemy. Liberals, moderates and conservatives need to unite to defeat these clowns.

Your argument is that the Islamists within the middle group I described above could potentially become extremists or help foster extremism within their country. That is where my disagreement lies. You and others making similar arguments to you, like Sam Harris, have proven that there are a lot of Islamists in this world, but relatively few terrorists. Furthermore, we also see that certain regions produce more terrorists, but aren't necessarily more Islamist than more peaceful regions of the Muslim world. My argument is that the determining factor that leads someone to become a terrorist is not Islam. Sure, religion certainly plays a part. If that guy was brought up as an agnostic, I doubt he would go and murder 200 children in the name of god, but it is not the determining factor. So let us try to find out what are those determining factors that switches someone from a conservative Muslim to a terrorist. That would be a more productive conversation to have.
11  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 15, 2015, 11:28:23 pm
And just to get this off my chest:

There are multiple lefties on this forum, TNF and Lief chief among them, that will beat their chests and openly advocate for literally throwing racists, sexists, homophobes, etc, behind bars. Who will completely decimate the reputations of individuals for the slightest of things, who see vicious -isms behind the mildest of transgressions and poor wordings.

There's an enormous irony in the fact that some of the same people who will go on and on about how wildly offensive American culture is because they think it's genuinely patriarchal, about how our entire system is racist and misogynistic top to bottom, are the same ones who run defense and play games of whataboutery when it comes to actually misogynistic ideologies, actual out-and-out racism, and actually violently patriarchal societies. When it's white American racism, it's throw those people behind bars. When it's perceived sexism in media, get rid of that dangerous trash. The tiniest reference to guns in political imagery is "they're encouraging violence against political targets, those monsters!" But when it comes to cultures that are far more intolerant, far more misogynistic, cultures and strains of thought that are far more accepting of violence, it's "well, what about the Christians" and "muh cultural differences, you're being racist and unwelcoming." If a politician here said they believe gays should be put to death, you wouldn't be defending them by saying "well, they go about the rest of their lives totally normal!"

If you're the sort of person that actually gets outraged by every little thing in Western society that someone could maybe, if you look at it the right way and click your heels a few times, be construed as bigoted and violent, there is literally no better target, no more influential of a target, than Middle Eastern countries and all-too-common fundamentalist Islamic thought. Start holding these people to similar standards or throw your standards in the f**king garbage and stop making such a show about how you care about the plight of women and other disadvantaged groups around the world.

Looks like I missed this earlier. I really hope you weren't thinking of me when you wrote this post....or else I am going to very pissed off since I never criticize America for being misogynist or patriarchal or whatever. As for racism, there is a lot of institutional racism in America, although it is rapidly transitioning into a weird class system. As for examples of that, look no further than drug laws and the zealous cops that enforce them.
12  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 15, 2015, 11:10:46 pm
Also, before anyone else proceeds to put words in my mouth and say that I am denying a link between Islam and Islamic terrorism, I am not doing any such thing. I am merely pointing out it is much, much more complicated than that.

Edit: Looking back at this thread, I find it funny that just 8 months ago people were accusing me of not caring whether Muslims were killed in religious riots. Smiley
13  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 15, 2015, 11:07:04 pm
It is those people we need on our side if we are to win the war on violent, Islamic fundamentalism without a 3rd world war. It is a tough ask for sure but it is being made easier by the horrible atrocities the terrorists are carrying out against other Muslims. I understand this won't solve the other issues in the Muslim world, but as I pointed out, these issues exist in other places as well and should be treated separately from the issue of Islamic terrorism.

I'm not sure what your argument is here: even if these people have dangerous theocratic views (like killing apostates), we shouldn't concern ourselves with those, because we don't want to antagonize them?  I'm open to that argument, but that's entirely separate from an evaluation of whether their views are problematic.

I will respond to both you and Marokai in more detail when I have time but I wanted to address this because it touched upon my basic point. We will need these people who reject violent extremism, even if they hold these nasty views about gays or women, on our side in the very important fight against terrorism. That does not in any way justify those views. I am just being practical here. Fighting 1.5 Billion people is something I am just not interested in, especially since 99.99% of them don't pose any threat to me. Islamic society needs to reform itself and it will only be successful if it comes internally. I hope you don't think if liberals in the west start criticizing Islam that Islam will suddenly reform itself. The opposite is more likely to happen, if it has any effect at all.

Who said we need to fight Muslims?  Nobody here.

And, you need to distinguish public policy and diplomacy from a discussion of facts.  You are conflating those two things.  As if, my opinion about Islam could either start a war or mend hurt feelings.  Nobody cares what I think, my only interest is in the truth, not in the public relations side of it.

As for that side, of course, the State Department and Barack Obama shouldn't say negative things about Islam.  Even if those negative things are true, it doesn't help and could seriously hurt.  When it comes to be diplomacy, it pays to be diplomatic.  There's something called "Realpolitik."  Our country can't afford to treat the world like a moral crusade in our foreign policy. 

So, your point is like in 1944 saying we can't have an academic discussion about Stalinism because we need to USSR's help and we can't go to war with them.  "You can't say bad things about communism because there are hundreds of millions of communists!"

That's the difference here. Some people are interested in the connections between religion and certain phenomena in the real world.  Other people are specifically not interested if the truth doesn't conform to what they wish was true.  If the truth might be offensive or upsetting, nahhh, not interested.

I actually don't think I'm an expert on this subject. There are really complicated questions here that are layered and complex.  And, maybe, you look at Islam and say, "hey, Islam has no connection to Islamic terrorism."  But, it seems to me that shutting down all thinking about certain difficult questions, as some people here demand, for the sake of people's feelings is ridiculous.  If you want to understand any issue and ultimately attempt to address it, I think you need to start with the truth.  Not what you hope is true or a sanitized version of the truth that could never hurt people's feelings.

If you make the war on terrorism a war against Islam, then you suddenly do have to fight all muslims. I know no one has said that specific phrase, but if you talk about Islam itself being the problem in the context of terrorism, it is not hard to put two and two together.

I am glad you are in search for the truth. The truth is that Islam is a highly conservative religion that actively suppresses the rights of religious minorities, the LGBT community and women. And while there are other highly conservative religions in the world, case in point Christianity and Judaism, those two religions have been more successful at reforming themselves, especially Judaism. Are you happy now? Here is another truth though. This has nothing to do with Islamic terrorism. There is certainly a link there to be made between wahabbism and terrorism, but the link between traditional Islamic practice in South/Southeast Asia and terrorism is much, much more tenuous. If it is Islamism (defined as a literal interpretation of the Koran) alone that drives terrorism, then Indonesia would be a much more violent place.
14  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 15, 2015, 10:48:35 pm
edit: Most of what I say here is redundant to Marokai's points above.

Alcon, people hold troubling views around the world, many times due to their religion, but what I don't get is why are we talking specifically about muslims? Gender rights, gay rights and the right to choose your own religion are very important, but these are issues which deserve attention not only in the Muslim world, but also other parts of the world including in Christian, Hindu and yes, Buddhist countries.

You're restating the same question a little here, dude.  I've said numerous times that other religions have some major problems too, relating to troubling theocratic beliefs.  Claiming this is unique to Islam is objectively wrong.  However, these views are more widespread within Islam.  That's why this gets more attention (fairly), plus the tendency to focus on recent events episodically (arbitrary).  That's the answer to your question.  Do you disagree with it?

So let's turn our attention back towards Islamic terrorism, which is the reason why Bill Maher gets so excited when he talks about Islam. Violent, fundamentalist Islam is a huge problem in this world and of course people need to realize these people are a threat and they need to be eliminated. And one of the reasons it is becoming a bigger threat is the export of a very conservative interpretation of Islam being pumped out of the Arabian peninsula funded by oil money. That is also a problem that needs to be acknowledged. But note that this has nothing at all to do with a "moderate" Muslims who may hold nasty views about apostates, gays and women's rights but in reality just go about their day to day lives like normal human beings.

It doesn't have "nothing" to do with them.  They aren't responsible for it, and most of these people would never commit terrorist acts.  But they are different manifestations (of varying severity) of a similar thread of thought: the idea that theocratic law enables them to take people's lives for religious reasons.  These "moderates" are still Islamists -- they aren't terrorists, but they're Islamists.  Islamism does not inevitably lead to extremism.  Despite strong support in their ranks, Muslim Malaysians don't go around killing apostates.  But these beliefs are effectively a prerequisite to extremism, and it's certainly easier to become extreme if you believe you're morally entitled to kill someone for a religious transgression.

It is those people we need on our side if we are to win the war on violent, Islamic fundamentalism without a 3rd world war. It is a tough ask for sure but it is being made easier by the horrible atrocities the terrorists are carrying out against other Muslims. I understand this won't solve the other issues in the Muslim world, but as I pointed out, these issues exist in other places as well and should be treated separately from the issue of Islamic terrorism.

I'm not sure what your argument is here: even if these people have dangerous theocratic views (like killing apostates), we shouldn't concern ourselves with those, because we don't want to antagonize them?  I'm open to that argument, but that's entirely separate from an evaluation of whether their views are problematic.

As I mentioned in the response to Marokai above, if the link between Islamists and Islamic terrorism is that important, why don't we see more terrorism in places like Malaysia or Bangladesh? You yourself gave evidence that even in these supposed moderate countries, the people still profess to believe in things written in the Koran which are highly illiberal. I think wahabbism is a different beast than your traditional, conservative Islam. Wahabbism advocates for the killing of other muslims who visit shrines of sufi saints. So you can only imagine what its followers think of people in other religions....

As for the discussion of Islam, again as I asked Marokai, I have to ask what is to be gained from singling out Islam for criticism. It just does not accomplish anything, except pissing off muslims who are basically on our side and who do hold liberal views.

I can sort of see your perspective, as you think Islamism leads to extremism and terrorist attacks (not always as you point out but it increases the likelihood of it). I don't think the link is that simple. You think this is merely about religion, whereas I think the cultures of the regions involved play a huge role as well. As someone who is primarily concerned with terrorism in the Islamic world as opposed to its other ills, I consider someone who rejects violence but may still think the Koran is the literal word of god, to be my ally in that fight against terrorism.

I know the last paragraph may make it seem like I don't care about gays or women in the muslim world, but the reality is that I am not going to change how the muslim world thinks. Reform needs to come from within, not from the west or any other non-muslim place. So I really don't see myself as being in a place to criticize Islam. There is nothing I can gain from it other than pissing off my dear friends who share my values but identify as muslim.
15  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 15, 2015, 10:15:31 pm
Alcon, people hold troubling views around the world, many times due to their religion, but what I don't get is why are we talking specifically about muslims?

I'm sorry, I don't mean this to sound dickish, but exactly how do you, and so many other people, not grasp the distinction? People talk "specifically" about muslims because there is no comparable religious/political ideology in terms of sheer scope and scale that influences people across the world to justify the subjugation women, gays, and other religious or social groups as much as Islam. "But what about the Christians" is a stupid comparison. Majorities of European and American Christians do not support the death penalty for leaving the religion. Or for virtually any other sin that isn't murder. (Hell, and even then..) Even the "But, Africa!" deflection fails in this regard. Christians, to the degree of Muslims throughout the world, do not support the utter repression of female rights and autonomy, nor to anywhere near the violent degree that they have been held back.

Whenever people defend Islam from these criticisms you keep acting like Islam exists in this fictional scenario where its followers are equally as bigoted or enlightened as any other given religion around the world and are unfairly singled out; this simply isn't reality. They are especially focused on because Islamic society and mainstream Islamic thought for even purported "moderate" countries are especially violent and repressive relative to nearly anywhere else. There is absolutely no denying this. There has been absolute evil carried out in the name of all sorts of religions and ideologies, and I would absolutely criticize those too, but we live in the present.

Look, I don't believe in racial profiling, I think there's absolutely an unfortunate strain of anti-Muslim bigotry that has been born from all of this and we shouldn't give quarter to those people, and I have no reason to feel personally threatened by Muslims I would meet in my life. But we as people who support liberal principles need to stop deluding ourselves about the dangerous beliefs that are being fostered in that religion, and in those societies, and from those governments, and we need to get real about one major thing in particular: These views are not rare, radical sentiments only shared by the fringes of Muslim society. They are frighteningly common relative to nearly any other major religion on the planet right now, and they are dangerous.

To handwave away the repugnant views of these majorities of people by saying "well, they go about the rest of their day living like normal human beings" is absurd. Many terrorists have gone through their lives living completely normal day-to-day, everyone around the oblivious to what was really going on in their heads until the moment something horrific happened; and we're just talking about situations that pop up in the Western world, not the actual theocratic societies that may as well be making these outcomes an inevitability themselves. There is absolutely a huge difference between fundamentalist Islam and violent individual Muslims who end up terrorists, but the difference between fundamentalist Christianity and fundamentalist Islam is that the latter is several orders of magnitude more common, and unlike the former, several orders of magnitude more difficult to criticize because people are afraid it might seem racist to not confront it as they are minorities in our societies, and any criticism of minorities is abhorrent to social justice activists. (Sorry that the co-writer behind Feminist Frequency is turning out to be a crank, traininthedistance.)

I think a distinction needs to be made between violent, fundamentalist Islam and others who may share similar beliefs but do not condone violence. There may be cultural factors at play as well (Middle East vs South/Southeast Asia). As has been presented in this thread, muslims in southeast asia hold many troubling views but rarely resort to violence. You seem to be making the argument (not trying to put words in your mouth, just my interpretation of what you wrote) that there are way more fundamentalists in Islam, and a certain number of them snap, thus leading to terrorist attacks. And since there are more Islamic fundamentalists out there than fundamentalists of other religions, there are more attacks by Islamic terrorists. I wholeheartedly disagree with that. If it was just that simple to connect conservative fundamentalist muslims to terrorism, you would be seeing much more terrorism in countries like India (by this I mean home grown terrorists, not Pakistanis), Bangladesh, Indonesia etc. I blame the wahabbis who are pushing a form of Islam that is even more conservative than what exists in large parts of the world and it is more aggressive in pushing for the spread of Islam throughout the world.

This is why I think criticism of Islam itself in a thread or a conversation about terrorism is completely wrong as well as unproductive. Now that does not mean that you cannot criticize Islam. You may certainly do so. But I don't understand the need to single it out. If you did a broader criticism of religion and the problems it causes in the world, I will be the first to admit Islam would be the star of the show. Yet that does not mean there are not repugnant views held by members of all other religions (many times due to sociocultural reasons which should be kept in mind). What does singling out Islam achieve?

Moreover, why are some of you so anxious about making sure liberals in the west are criticizing Islam? What purpose will that serve? What do you hope to achieve? Islam will not modernize itself because liberals in the west suddenly decided to criticize Islam. All it will do is marginalize those who are muslim and open to modernity. That is why people like Fareed Zakaria and Reza Aslan, both liberal muslims, vehemently disagree with the way Sam Harris approaches this issue.


16  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 15, 2015, 08:30:16 am
It is those people we need on our side if we are to win the war on violent, Islamic fundamentalism without a 3rd world war. It is a tough ask for sure but it is being made easier by the horrible atrocities the terrorists are carrying out against other Muslims. I understand this won't solve the other issues in the Muslim world, but as I pointed out, these issues exist in other places as well and should be treated separately from the issue of Islamic terrorism.

I'm not sure what your argument is here: even if these people have dangerous theocratic views (like killing apostates), we shouldn't concern ourselves with those, because we don't want to antagonize them?  I'm open to that argument, but that's entirely separate from an evaluation of whether their views are problematic.

I will respond to both you and Marokai in more detail when I have time but I wanted to address this because it touched upon my basic point. We will need these people who reject violent extremism, even if they hold these nasty views about gays or women, on our side in the very important fight against terrorism. That does not in any way justify those views. I am just being practical here. Fighting 1.5 Billion people is something I am just not interested in, especially since 99.99% of them don't pose any threat to me. Islamic society needs to reform itself and it will only be successful if it comes internally. I hope you don't think if liberals in the west start criticizing Islam that Islam will suddenly reform itself. The opposite is more likely to happen, if it has any effect at all.
17  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 14, 2015, 09:49:00 pm
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqGIJBClwbQ

And here is an interview of Sam Harris by Fareed Zakaria. A more eloquent opponent than Ben Affleck, I must say.
18  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 14, 2015, 09:06:02 pm
sbane - A full 86% of Malaysian Muslims support sharia law, and of those, two-thirds support the death penalty for apostasy.  It's true that Malaysia has little Islamist terrorism, but these numbers are still a problem.  You seem to be under the impression that people expressing concern about these numbers "must" be expressing concern about all adherents of the religion, or claiming that all interpretations of the religion lead the same place.  That's not the case, even with Maher, who can be pretty broad with his dickishness.

P.S. You earlier claimed that Sam Harris has never differentiated liberal Muslims from Islamists.  Again, do you actually believe that he never does this?  I recall him doing it multiple times during the Affleck debate.

(Side note: It's weird to me to see liberals purporting to be concerned about social justice treat this so much differently than the #NotAllMen/#YesAllWomen business.  I'm not criticizing anyone in this thread, but I know a ton of people who flipped on the whole "appropriateness of systemic criticism of non-majority ills" issue, seemingly overnight.)

How many people have actually been tried and killed for apostasy in Malaysia? And why exactly is this a problem and not views on gays in Uganda? And if both are problems, then why is Islam in general being held up for scrutiny and not Christianity? I do agree the Ugandans don't go around killing innocent people because of their despicable views, but that is the case with Malaysians as well. Religious people all around the world, including America, hold unsavory views. The difference is that some Muslims use their religion to commit violence, but I don't get why Malaysians or people in other "moderate" Islamic countries are guilty as well.

Sam Harris may do a better job of differentiating between liberals and the rest of the Islamic world, but even he unnecessarily tries to paint Islam as being exceptional when it comes to extremism. Why not focus just on the extremists? Why the need to prove Islam itself is the problem?

The death penalty for apostasy might not occur in Malaysia, but there are some pretty discriminatory laws. For example Malaysia prohibits selling alcohol to Muslims, and in Malaysia religion is an actual legal status assigned to you you can't change. So if you were raised Muslim, you can't ever buy alcohol, but anyone not can. Now I'm sure that it's not too difficult for people with a Muslim status to get alcohol in Malaysia anyway considering how easy it is for underage people in the US to get alcohol, but there are other issues where the law is a big problem: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lina_Joy

As far as Uganda goes, it's not like the situation in Muslim countries is all that much better, see mostly Muslim The Gambia just passing a similar law and what their President has said: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/the-7-worst-things-gambias-president-yahya-jammeh-has-ever-said-about-gay-people-9977170.html

Hey, I am not the person who is going to defend these laws. There are many issues in the Muslim world but they also exist in other societies. They just manifest themselves in different ways based on that individual culture. It is basically a fight between tradition and progress. These are important issues but should be treated separately from violent extremism.

I will also note that in the west, and richer countries in general, the progressive side has been winning for the last 50 years or so. This social revolution did not occur in most of the rest of the world. This obviously makes western society more progressive than the rest of the world. If we want this trend to spread itself around the world, we can't do that by criticizing those societies and calling them inferior to western society. The response to that would be defensive causing people to look inwards and would lead to a greater embrace of traditional rather than progressive thought.
19  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 14, 2015, 08:59:58 pm
Alcon, people hold troubling views around the world, many times due to their religion, but what I don't get is why are we talking specifically about muslims? Gender rights, gay rights and the right to choose your own religion are very important, but these are issues which deserve attention not only in the Muslim world, but also other parts of the world including in Christian, Hindu and yes, Buddhist countries.

So let's turn our attention back towards Islamic terrorism, which is the reason why Bill Maher gets so excited when he talks about Islam. Violent, fundamentalist Islam is a huge problem in this world and of course people need to realize these people are a threat and they need to be eliminated. And one of the reasons it is becoming a bigger threat is the export of a very conservative interpretation of Islam being pumped out of the Arabian peninsula funded by oil money. That is also a problem that needs to be acknowledged. But note that this has nothing at all to do with a "moderate" Muslims who may hold nasty views about apostates, gays and women's rights but in reality just go about their day to day lives like normal human beings.

It is those people we need on our side if we are to win the war on violent, Islamic fundamentalism without a 3rd world war. It is a tough ask for sure but it is being made easier by the horrible atrocities the terrorists are carrying out against other Muslims. I understand this won't solve the other issues in the Muslim world, but as I pointed out, these issues exist in other places as well and should be treated separately from the issue of Islamic terrorism.
20  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 14, 2015, 09:07:45 am
Sbane, we've basically been at war with Islamic extremist groups for 13 years and change.  We've spent untold billions and lost thousands of lives.  And, globally, we have Islamic extremist insurgencies around the world that are killing people and committing horrendous crimes.  So, Islam is on the table for discussion.  I didn't put it on the table for political debate, Islam has injected itself into the conversation.  And, so, I'm more interested in understanding the issue than I am with avoiding potential hurt feelings.  Obviously, this subject begs sensitivity and nuance, but I think I've been sensitive and nuanced.

If you actually think I said something racist or incorrect, we can talk about that.  But, I find it childish for you to say nobody can discuss something because you're not interested in it.

You have the freedom to do whatever you want, but conflating Islam with violent extremism is counterproductive and only creates more hate in this world. There are 1.5 Billion Muslims in this world. Try to take that into account when you think of Islam.
21  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 14, 2015, 09:03:32 am
sbane - A full 86% of Malaysian Muslims support sharia law, and of those, two-thirds support the death penalty for apostasy.  It's true that Malaysia has little Islamist terrorism, but these numbers are still a problem.  You seem to be under the impression that people expressing concern about these numbers "must" be expressing concern about all adherents of the religion, or claiming that all interpretations of the religion lead the same place.  That's not the case, even with Maher, who can be pretty broad with his dickishness.

P.S. You earlier claimed that Sam Harris has never differentiated liberal Muslims from Islamists.  Again, do you actually believe that he never does this?  I recall him doing it multiple times during the Affleck debate.

(Side note: It's weird to me to see liberals purporting to be concerned about social justice treat this so much differently than the #NotAllMen/#YesAllWomen business.  I'm not criticizing anyone in this thread, but I know a ton of people who flipped on the whole "appropriateness of systemic criticism of non-majority ills" issue, seemingly overnight.)

How many people have actually been tried and killed for apostasy in Malaysia? And why exactly is this a problem and not views on gays in Uganda? And if both are problems, then why is Islam in general being held up for scrutiny and not Christianity? I do agree the Ugandans don't go around killing innocent people because of their despicable views, but that is the case with Malaysians as well. Religious people all around the world, including America, hold unsavory views. The difference is that some Muslims use their religion to commit violence, but I don't get why Malaysians or people in other "moderate" Islamic countries are guilty as well.

Sam Harris may do a better job of differentiating between liberals and the rest of the Islamic world, but even he unnecessarily tries to paint Islam as being exceptional when it comes to extremism. Why not focus just on the extremists? Why the need to prove Islam itself is the problem?

22  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 13, 2015, 11:42:00 pm
Sam Harris never makes the distinction between "liberal" Islam as it is practiced in the west, especially the United States (where Sam Harris comes from) and Wahhabism. I will support anyone who comes out against the destructive ideology that is Wahhabism, but I cannot support a racist who attacks Islam generally. If you attack Sufi Islam, you are just as horrible a human being as someone who attacks Buddhism or liberal Christianity.

What are the qualities of "liberal" Islam?  How does mainstream American Sunni Islam differ from Wahhabi Islam in terms of doctrine?  Could you give an explanation of the similarities and difference?

Do you think Sufism is an Islamic sect? 

Look, I will go with the views of my best friend and the millions of other Indian muslims who are liberal at heart. I really don't give a sh**t what you think.

I don't know whether Sufism is a sect or not. I frankly don't give a sh**t. Religion bores me terribly. What I can tell you though is that Indian muslims, basically 1/6th of the Muslim world, don't think like those Saudis do. Attack the Saudis, not all Muslims. That is my point. Of course the United States won't do that because...well...oil. Much easier to attack people who don't have oil. Saudi Arabia is the problem, not Islam. Yet, no one is willing to confront that elephant in the room.

If you don't know anything about Islam and don't care to know anything, so why are you so intent on making specific points about it?

Religion bores me terribly so I am really not interested in properly categorizing Sufism within Islam. You can do that on your own if you wish.

I am commenting on this topic because people like Bill Maher generalize about Islam when it is fundamentalist Islam, especially the type of Islam being exported out of Saudi Arabia, that is the real problem. It is not only utterly bigoted, it also deepens the divides that do exist between Islam and the west.

There are 1.5 Billion Muslims in this world, a large part of whom practice a fairly tame version of Islam. I could not care less whether this form of Islam is the most authentic or the most committed to literally following scripture. The point is that these people exist and they are most certainly Muslim. What is gained by attacking these people along with the extremists?

That is why I find the whole exercise of figuring out which religion is most predisposed to extremism to be useless and unproductive. And of course it provides westerners the opportunity to pat themselves on the back for being so awesome. It is this sort of thinking that led to the development of the ideology of white supremacy.

Of course there may be cultural factors that predispose certain regions to resort to violence more quickly than other regions. You rightly pointed out that Wahhabis are not the only Islamic extremists out there but one can also see there are basically no extreme Islamic movements in India, Bangladesh, Malaysia or Indonesia. Sufism is definitely a factor as well in South Asia as the very way they spread Islam (music) is antithetical to what Wahabbis believe in. In Sufi shrines in India they commit idolatry, which is not very popular with the Saudis as you can imagine. It is sometimes useful to view religion not just from a theoretical point of view but also how it is practiced by the masses.
23  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Bill Maher on Islam vs. Christianity on: January 13, 2015, 01:11:38 am
Bill Maher is a retard who doesn't know what he is talking about. That is the real issue.
24  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 13, 2015, 01:04:31 am
Sam Harris never makes the distinction between "liberal" Islam as it is practiced in the west, especially the United States (where Sam Harris comes from) and Wahhabism. I will support anyone who comes out against the destructive ideology that is Wahhabism, but I cannot support a racist who attacks Islam generally. If you attack Sufi Islam, you are just as horrible a human being as someone who attacks Buddhism or liberal Christianity.

What are the qualities of "liberal" Islam?  How does mainstream American Sunni Islam differ from Wahhabi Islam in terms of doctrine?  Could you give an explanation of the similarities and difference?

Do you think Sufism is an Islamic sect? 

Look, I will go with the views of my best friend and the millions of other Indian muslims who are liberal at heart. I really don't give a sh**t what you think.

I don't know whether Sufism is a sect or not. I frankly don't give a sh**t. Religion bores me terribly. What I can tell you though is that Indian muslims, basically 1/6th of the Muslim world, don't think like those Saudis do. Attack the Saudis, not all Muslims. That is my point. Of course the United States won't do that because...well...oil. Much easier to attack people who don't have oil. Saudi Arabia is the problem, not Islam. Yet, no one is willing to confront that elephant in the room.
25  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Liberal opinion of Bill Maher's views on Islam... on: January 13, 2015, 12:00:26 am
Sam Harris never makes the distinction between "liberal" Islam as it is practiced in the west, especially the United States (where Sam Harris comes from) and Wahhabism. I will support anyone who comes out against the destructive ideology that is Wahhabism, but I cannot support a racist who attacks Islam generally. If you attack Sufi Islam, you are just as horrible a human being as someone who attacks Buddhism or liberal Christianity.
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