Thursday, April 30, 2009

Let's play, Spot The Hate Monger: Vote, with peaceful reasons, in comments

Contestant #1 (HT: Catfur) consistently refuses to acknowledge the Judeo-Christian roots of Western civilization, as we see in MEMRI: Special Dispatch - No. 2332
>In an interview published April 23, 2009 in the Saudi Daily 'Okaz, reformist thinker Ibrahim Al-Buleihi expressed his admiration for Western civilization. The interview was posted on the same day on the Elaph website.[1] Al-Buleihi calls on the Arabs to acknowledge the greatness of Western civilization, and to admit the deficiencies of their own culture. He states that such self-criticism is a precondition to any change for the better. Ibrahim Al-Buleihi is a member of the Saudi Shura Council. [2]
'Okaz: "I begin with the crucial issue which distinguishes your thought and which your opponents always raise against you - namely, your being completely dazzled by the West, while you completely belittle Arabic thought. Truly, this is the most outstanding feature of your writings. There is also extreme self-flagellation which many see [in your writings]. What is the cause of this?"

Buleihi: "My attitude towards Western civilization is an attitude based on obvious facts and great accomplishments; here is a reality full of wonderful and amazing things. [Recognizing] this doesn't mean that I am blindly fascinated. This is the very opposite of the attitude of those who deny and ignore the bright lights of Western civilization. Just look around… and you will notice that everything beautiful in our life has been produced by Western civilization: even the pen that you are holding in your hand, the recording instrument in front of you, the light in this room, and the journal in which you work, and many innumerable amenities, which are like miracles for the ancient civilizations.… If it were not for the accomplishments of the West, our lives would have been barren. I only look objectively and value justly what I see and express it honestly. Whoever does not admire great beauty is a person who lacks sensitivity, taste, and observation. Western civilization has reached the summit of science and technology. It has achieved knowledge, skills, and new discoveries, as no previous civilization before it. The accomplishments of Western civilization cover all areas of life: methods of organization, politics, ethics, economics, and human rights. It is our obligation to acknowledge its amazing excellence. Indeed, this is a civilization that deserves admiration. … The horrible backwardness in which some nations live is the inevitable result of their refusal to accept this [abundance of Western ideas and visions] while taking refuge in denial and arrogance."

'Okaz: "Sir, you can admire this civilization as much as you want, but not at the expense of others, especially our own civilization."

Buleihi: "My admiration for the West is not at the expense of others; rather, it is an invitation to those others to acknowledge their illusions and go beyond their inferiority and liberate themselves from backwardness. [Those others] should admit their shortcomings, and make an effort to overcome them; they should stop denying the truth and closing their eyes to the multitude of wonderful achievements. They should be fair towards those nations that achieved prosperity for themselves but did not monopolize it for themselves and instead allowed the whole world to share the results of this progress, so that other nations of the whole world now enjoy these achievements. Furthermore, Western civilization has given to the world knowledge and skills which made it possible for them, the non-Western nations, to compete with it in production and share markets with it. Criticizing one's own deficiencies is a precondition to inducing oneself to change for the better. Conversely, to glorify one's backward apathetic self is to establish and fortify backwardness, to strengthen the shackles of apathy, and to eradicate the capabilities of excellence. Backwardness is a shameful reality, which we should resent and from which we must liberate ourselves."

"Western Civilization is the Only Civilization that Liberated Man From His Illusions and Shackles; It Recognized His Individuality and Provided Him With Capabilities and Opportunities to Cultivate Himself and Realize His Aspirations"

'Okaz: "This may be so, and I'm with you in this demand but, sir, would you summarize for us the reason for your admiration of Western culture, so that we can have a basis for discussion?"

Buleihi: "There is no one reason, there are a thousand reasons, which all induce me to admire the West and emphasize its absolute excellence in all matters of life. Western civilization is the only civilization that liberated man from his illusions and shackles; it recognized his individuality and provided him with capabilities and opportunities to cultivate himself and realize his aspirations. [Western civilization] humanized political authority and established mechanisms to guarantee relative equality and relative justice and to prevent injustice and to alleviate aggression. This does not mean that this is a flawless civilization; indeed, it is full of deficiencies. Yet it is the greatest which man has achieved throughout history. [Before the advent of Western civilization,] humanity was in the shackles of tyranny, impotence, poverty, injustice, disease, and wretchedness.

"It is an extraordinary civilization, and it is not an extension of any ancient civilization, with the exception of Greek civilization, which is the source of contemporary civilization. I have completed a book on this great extraordinary civilizational leap, titled The Qualitative Changes in Human Civilization. Western civilization is its own product and it is not indebted to any previous civilization except for the Greek one … It has revived the Greek achievements in the fields of philosophy, science, literature, politics, society, human dignity, and veneration of reason, while recognizing its shortcomings and illusions and stressing its continuous need for criticism, review and correction."

'Okaz: "In your words here, you completely wipe out all the endeavors and creativity of previous civilizations such as the Islamic one, by stating that the West not indebted to it."

Buleihi: "Indeed, it is not, nor is it indebted to any other previous civilization. Western civilization has its foundation in Greece in the sixth and fifth centuries BC; then it stopped in the Middle Ages, but resumed its progress in modern times, when its benefits have come to include all nations. It is really extraordinary in every meaning of the word - excellence, uniqueness, and novelty… It has components and qualities which distinguish it from all previous and subsequent civilizations. It is the product of philosophical thinking invented by the Greeks. The Europeans have based themselves on this kind of thinking, especially on its critical aspect, which developed the capability of producing objective knowledge that is always open to review, correction and progress…"

'Okaz: "Some Western thinkers wrote that Western civilization is an extension of previous civilizations. How can you, a Muslim Arab, deny this?"

Buleihi: "When we review the names of Muslim philosophers and scholars whose contribution to the West is pointed out by Western writers, such as Ibn Rushd, Ibn Al-Haitham, Ibn Sina, Al-Farbi, Al-Razi, Al-Khwarizmi, and their likes, we find that all of them were disciples of the Greek culture and they were individuals who were outside the [Islamic] mainstream. They were and continue to be unrecognized in our culture. We even burned their books, harassed them, [and] warned against them, and we continue to look at them with suspicion and aversion. How can we then take pride in people from whom we kept our distance and whose thought we rejected?...
'Okaz: "A cog in a machine? Do you believe that this is true also of Islamic civilization?"

Buleihi: "We sharply distinguish between Islam in itself and what people do in its name. The great principles of Islam and its sublime doctrines that emphasize and uphold human value and dignity have not had a chance throughout history to establish themselves. Ever since the end of the period of the rightly-guided Caliphs, man's individuality was eradicated in Arab history and his value has been linked to his political, religious, regional, or tribal affiliation… The only civilization which acknowledges and respects man as an individual is Western civilization… Behavior in any field is not the outcome of teachings, as such, but rather of practice and actual experience...."

'Okaz: "Has this been the case throughout all of Arab history, in your opinion?"

Buleihi: "Yes, all of Arab history can be characterized in this gloomy way, except for the period of the rightly-guided Caliphs and discrete periods such as the reign of Omar ibn 'Abd Al-'Aziz. One should not confuse the sublime principles and doctrines of Islam with its history, which is full of mistakes, transgression, and tragedies. When the Abbasids overcame the Umayyads, they covered the bodies of the dead with rugs and held a feast over the bodies in a display of vengeance. When [Caliph] Al-Ma'mun defeated his brother Al-Amin, he flayed him like a lamb. This scene recurs throughout our history. Political power is the pivotal value in Arab culture. In our age, there have been recurrent military coups in the Arab world, in a struggle for power, but not in an attempt to bring about a change for the better. Each successive regime is worse than its predecessor."

'Okaz: "Mr. Buleihi, haven't you read in the history of your people about hundreds of scholars who had significance and impact and whose lives are studied to this day, even though they possessed no power, tribe, or religious affiliation, and who are valued for their scholarship?"

Buleihi: "This is a general statement which is not backed by fact. Arab history, with the exception of the period of the rightly-guided Caliphs, was dominated by politics. When the Fatimids took over Egypt and North Africa, these areas became Shiite, and when Salah Al-Din Al-Ayyubi [i.e. Saladin] put an end to the Fatimids, he drove out everything that had any relation to Shiism. The same happened when the Safavids converted Iran to Shiism, which then led the Ottomans to act the same way [in imposing Sunnism]. Thus Arab history, or Islamic history, in the wider sense, is the outcome of political ups and downs…."

"Those Exceptional [Arab] Individuals Were Not the Product of Arab Culture, But Rather Greek Culture... We Don't Deserve to Take Pride In Them, Since We Rejected Them and Fought Their Ideas"
So, no credit to Mohammed for learning from the Jews.

Now we turn to contestants #2 Youth for Western Civilization; and #3 Heidi Beria of the Southern Poverty Law Center:
A student group that bills itself as "America's right wing youth movement" focused on countering radical multiculturism, socialism and mass immigration is causing a stir on a growing number of college campuses across the country.

The conservative political group Youth for Western Civilization is currently organized on at least seven university campuses. According to its Web site, the group hopes to inspire Western youth on the "basis of pride in their American and Western heritage," counter and ultimately defeat "leftism on campus" and create a social movement in which a right-wing subculture is an alternative to what it calls a "poisonous and bigoted" campus climate.

"A great part of college is definitely meeting people of different backgrounds, but a multicultural ideology teaches that we should appreciate things just because they're different from our culture with no regards to the quality of the culture and that all cultures are inherently equal," said Trevor Williams, president of YWC's Vanderbilt chapter. "I absolutely disagree."

But students who lean left are not welcoming their new neighbor. Those opposed to YWC say its message teeters on hate speech and has no place at institutions of higher learning.

"'Western' is a veiled term that means 'white,'" University of North Carolina graduate student Tyler Oakley wrote in an e-mail to "I believe that our democracy is strong enough to allow extreme forms of speech, but YWC's message is essentially a negative one, an assault on not being white or non-Western, and is therefore hateful, if not blatant hate speech."

While its numbers are small, YWC members hope a well-publicized April 14 event featuring the group's honorary chairman — former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo — at UNC's Chapel Hill campus, will help mobilize conservative students and attract new members.

Tancredo's speech opposing in-state tuition benefits for illegal immigrants was shut down after a window was smashed and a banner reading "No One Is Illegal" was unfurled across the former Republican lawmaker's face. One UNC student, Helen Elizabeth Koch, was arrested for disorderly conduct in the incident, which was widely distributed on YouTube and is also featured on Youth for Western Civilization's home page.

Officials at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which identifies and tracks hate groups in the U.S., told that the YWC is not currently on its list, but some of the group's views are "suspect," including the notion that Western civilization is somehow superior.

In February, following YWC's debut at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, SPLC linked the group's founder, Kevin DeAnna, to several posts on the Spartan Spectator, the Web site of Michigan State University's chapter of Young Americans for Freedom.

SPLC identified MSU-YAF as a hate group in 2007; DeAnna vehemently denies posting the material attributed to him.

"We're definitely monitoring them," said SPLC spokewoman Heidi Beirich. "We will look at them for hate group status."
Jesse Jones, a freshman at Vanderbilt, where YWC hosted former U.S. Treasurer Bay Buchanan last month, acknowledged the group's right to organize and share its views.

"But their fascist-like logo, their name echoing 'Hitler Youth,' and Tom Tancredo's call of 'this is your country — take it back' all quite frankly scare me," Jones wrote in an e-mail to

Jones said he's also disturbed by the group's call to restore a "curriculum that focuses on Western history, not political correctness," according to its Web site.

"They want to change the curriculum to emphasize 'classical learning' and get rid of 'trendy multiculturalism,'" Jones continued. "In practice this means firing professors with the wrong views and hiring those with the 'right' views.

"Even assuming there is a 'right' view on a given issue, the point is to get students to come to this opinion on their own, given the facts. In this way, YWC's views on education are inherently anti-intellectual."
"It's got nothing to do with racism, it's got nothing to do with extremism," Tancredo told "It has to do with celebrating the benefits Western civilization has brought to mankind, not the least of which is the concept of law. It's designed to bring attention to the issues, discussions and points of view that aren't readily available in the typical classroom on liberal colleges run by left-wing loonies."


Eowyn said...

Oh, that there were 1,000 Mr. Buleihis in the Muslim community. Even 100. Even 10.

What a blessed breath of fresh air to hear one such as he acknowledge the incomparable contributions of Western civilization to the comfortable existence we all enjoy today.

And how depressing to see university students parroting the same approach to dissent as the worst of the Muslims Mr. Buleihi decries.

Of course, there's only one "vote" to be taken.

(It didn't take me long to figure out that this post was authored by truepeers (as I don't like to know, with you guys, until I get to the end*), who has a bead on that particular presentation of argument that, I believe, was attributed to Socrates, but which I can't give a name to, offhand. That is, give the conclusion aforesaid, but also present creditable examples of both sides' basic arguments. Again -- a contribution of Western civilization.)

I applaud, as always :)

*(although, it must be said, dag's fingerprint is distinctive from the get-go :) -- the distinctions become finer between truepeers and Charles Henry.)

truepeers said...

Thanks Eowyn, let us know when you can name our tunes in two beats: may be time to begin again!

Dag said...

I think it must be my famous head-lines that give me away, like my up-comg piece on Seth Thomas clocks: "Swing Slow, Winged Chariot."

But I might fool myself and write it without knowing what I'm doing, in a daze, a mental soap-bubble afloat across the aether, in which case I might be writing someone else's famous stuff, thereby fooling us all till we get to the end to find out the real truth of who actually has his name on such a masterpiece of fine prose.

Yes, I'd go for coffee with a Muslim like him, even if, as Peers points out, he couldn't bring himself to credit the Jews and Christians with the foundations of Islam. I mean, I'd go for coffee with him, but he'd have to pay for it himself. I have principles, you know. If he concedes on the Jews and Christians, hen the coffee's on me. But no cream or sugar till he praises my famous head-lines.