Friday, November 5, 2010

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today.

 We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a things as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The "tide in the affairs of men" does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately fir time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on..." We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. This may well be mankind's last chance to choose between chaos and community. (191)
 Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (King Legacy)

The last paragraph from the last book of Dr. King's. It's a powerful, important, very relevant book. I had to read it for my Black Urban Studies class.

"The stability of the large world house

which is ours will involve a revolution of values to accompany the scientific and freedom revolutions engulfing the earth. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing"-oriented society to a "person" -oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered. A civilization can flounder as readily in the face of moral and spiritual bankruptcy as it can through financial bankruptcy.

This revolution of values must go beyond traditional capitalism and Communism. We must honestly admit that capitalism has often left a gulf between superfluous wealth and abject poverty, has created conditions permitting necessities to be taken from the many to give luxuries to the few, and has encourage[d] smallhearted men to become cold and conscienceless so that, like Dives before Lazarus, they are unmoved by suffering, poverty-stricken humanity. The profit motive, when it is the sole basis of an economic system, encourages a cutthroat competition and selfish ambition that inspire men to be more I-centered than thou-centered. Equally, Communism reduces men to a cog in the wheel of the state. The Communist may object, saying that in Marxian theory that state is an "interim reality" that will "wither away" when the classless society emerges. True-in theory; but it is also true that, while the state lasts, it is an end in itself. Man is a means to that end. He has no inalienable rights. His only rights are derived from, and conferred by, the state. Under such a system the fountain of freedom runs dry. Restricted are man's liberties of press and assembly, hi freedom to vote and his freedom to listen and to read.

Truth is found neither in traditional capitalism nor in classical Communism. Each represents a partial truth. Capitalism fails to see the truth in collectivism. Communism fails to see the truth in individualism. Capitalism fails to realize that life is social. Communism fails to realize that life is personal. The good and just society is neither the thesis of capitalism nor the antithesis of Communism, but a socially conscious democracy which reconciles the truths of individualism and collectivism. (186-187)
  -Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (King Legacy)

"The large power blocs talk passionately

 of pursuing peace while expanding defense budgets that already bulge, enlarging already awesome armies and devising ever more devastating weapons. Call the roll of those who sing the glad tidings of peace and one's ears will be surprised by the responding sounds. The heads of all the nations issue clarion calls for peace, yet they come to the peace table accompanied by bands of brigands each bearing unsheathed swords. (182)

-Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (King Legacy)

Lesson from the Jewish American experience

Negroes nurture a persisting myth that the Jews of America attained social mobility and status solely because they had money. It is unwise to ignore the error for many reasons. In a negative sense it encourages anti-Semitism and overestimates money as a value. In a positive sense the full truth reveals a useful lesson.

Jews progressed because they possessed a tradition of education combined with social and political action. The Jewish family enthroned education and sacrificed to get it. The result was far more than abstract learning. Uniting social action with educational competence, Jews became enormously effective in political life. Those Jews who became lawyers, businessmen, writers, entertainers, union leaders and medical men did not vanish into thee pursuits of their trade exclusively. They lived an active life in political circles, learning the techniques and arts of politics.

Nor was it only the rich who were involved in social and political action. Millions of Jews for half a century remained relatively poor, but they were far from passive in social and political areas. They lived in homes in which politics was a household word. They were deeply involved in radical parties, liberal parties and conservative parties - they formed many of them. Very few Jews sank into despair and escapism even when discrimination assailed the spirit and corroded initiative. Their life raft in the sea of discouragement was social action.

Without overlooking the towering differences between the Negro and Jewish experiences, the lesson of Jewish mass involvement in social and political action and education is worthy of emulation. Negroes have already started on this road in creating the protest movement, but this is only a beginning. We must involve everyone we can reach, even those with inadequate education, and together acquire political sophistication by discussion, practice and reading. Jews without education learned a great deal from political meetings, mass meetings and trade union activities. Informal discussions and reading at home or in the streets are educational; they challenge the mind and inform our actions.

Education without social action is a one-sided value because it has no true power potential. Social action without education is a weak expression of pure energy. Deeds uninformed by education thought can take false directions. When we go into action and confront our adversaries, we must be as armed with knowledge as they. Our policies should have the strength of deep analysis beneath them to be able to challenge the clever sophistries of our opponents. (154-155)

-Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (King Legacy)

Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?

"Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the greatest organic intellectuals in American history. His unique ability to connect the life of the mind to the struggle for freedom is legendary, and in this book—his last grand expression of his vision—he put forward his most prophetic challenge to powers that be and his most progressive program for the wretched of the earth."

—Cornel West, author of Race Matters

"In the days ahead

 we must not consider it unpatriotic to raise certain basic questions about our national character. We must being to ask, "Why are there forty million poor people in a nation overflowing with such unbelievable affluence?" Why has our nation placed itself in the position of being God's military agent on earth and intervened recklessly in Vietnam and the Dominican Republic? Why have we substituted the arrogant undertaking of policing the whole world for the high task of putting our own house in order?
All these questions remind us that there is a need for a radical restructuring of the architecture of American society. For its very survival's sake, America must re-examine old presuppositions and release itself from many things that for centuries have been held sacred. For the evils of racism, poverty and militarism to die, a new set of values must be born. Our economy must become more person-centered than property- and profit-centered. Our government must depend on its moral power than on its military power.
Let us, therefore, not think of our movement as one that seeks to integrate the Negro into all the existing values of American society. Let us be those creative dissenters who will call our beloved nation to a higher destiny, to a new plateau of compassion, to a more noble expression of humaneness. (133)
-Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (King Legacy)

"Structures of evil do not crumble by passive waiting.

 If history teaches anything, it is that evil is recalcitrant and determined, and never voluntarily relinquishes its hold short of an almost fanatical resistance. Evil must be attacked by a counteracting persistence, by the day-to-day assault of the battering rams of justice.
We must get rid of the false notion that there is some miraculous quality in the flow of time that inevitably heals all evils. There is only one thing certain about time, and that is that it waits for no one. If it is not used constructively, it passes you by. (128)
-Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (King Legacy)

"Being a Negro in America means

 trying to smile when you want to cry. It means trying to hold on to physical life amid psychological death. It means the pain of watching your children grow up with clouds of inferiority in their mental skies. It means having your legs cut off, and then being condemned for being a cripple. It means seeing your mother and father spiritually murdered by the slings and arrows of daily exploitation, and then being hated for being an orphan. Being an Negro in America means listening to suburban politicians talk eloquently against open housing while arguing in the same breath that they are not racists. It means being harried by day and haunted by night by a nagging sense of nobodyness and constantly fighting to be be saved from the poison of bitterness. It means the ache and anguish of living in so many situations where hopes unborn have died. (119-120)
-Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (King Legacy)

"Here the democratic process breaks down,

for the rights of the individual voter are impossible to organize without adequate funds, while the business community supplies the existing political machine with enough funds to organize massive campaigns and control mass media." (117)

-Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?


"Living with the daily ugliness of slum life,

educational castration and economic exploitation, some ghetto dwellers now and then strike out in spasms of violence and self-defeating riots. A riot is at bottom the language of the unheard. It is the desperate, suicidal cry of one who is so fed up with the powerlessness of his cave existence that he asserts that he would rather be dead than ignored. (112)
-Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?

"Every Negro comes face to face with this color shock,

 and it constitutes a major emotional crisis. It is accompanied by a sort of fatiguing, wearisome hopelessness. If one is rejected because he is uneducated, he can at least be consoled by the fact that it may be possible for him to get an education. If one is rejected because he is low on the economic ladder, he can at least dream of the day that he will rise from his dungeon of economic deprivation. If one is rejected because he speaks with an accent, he can at least, if he desires, work to bring his speech in line wit the dominant group. If, however, one is rejected because of his color, he must face the anguishing fact that he is being rejected because of something in himself that cannot be changed. All prejudice is evil, but the prejudice that rejects a man because of the color of his skin is the most despicable expression of man's inhumanity to man. (110)
-Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Being a Negro in America means

 being scarred by a history of slavery and family disorganization. Negroes have grown accustomed now to hearing unfeeling and insensitive whites say: "Other immigrant groups such as the Irish, the Jews and the Italians started out with similar handicaps, and yet they made it. Why haven't the Negroes done the same?" These questioners refuse to see that the situation of other immigrant groups a hundred years ago and the situation of the Negro today cannot be usefully compared. Negroes were brought here in chains long before the Irish decided voluntarily to leave Ireland or the Italians thought of leaving Italy. Some Jews may have left their homes in Europe involuntarily, but they were not in chains when they arrived on these shores. Other immigrant groups came to America with language and economic handicaps, but no with the stigma of color. Above all, no other ethnic group has been a slave on American soil, and no other group has had its family structure deliberately torn apart. This is the rub. (103)
 Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?

"But declarations against segregation, however sincere, are not enough.

 The church must take the lead in social reform. It must move out into the arena of life and do battle for the sanctity of religious commitments. And it must lead men along the path of true integration, something the law cannot do.
Genuine integration will come when men are obedient to the unenforceable. Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick has made an impressive distinction between enforceable and unenforceable obligations. The former are regulated by the codes of society and the vigorous implementation of law-enforcement agencies. Breaking these obligations, spelled out on thousands of pages in lawbooks, has filled numberless prisons. But unenforceable obligations are beyond the reach of the laws of society. They concern inner attitudes, expressions of compassion which lawbooks cannot regulate and jails cannot rectify. Such obligations are met by one's commitment to an inner law, a law written on the heart. Man-made laws assure justice, but a higher law produces love. No code of conduct ever compelled a father to love his children or a husband to show affection to his wife. The law court may force him to provide bread for the family, but it cannot make him provide the bread of love. A good father is obedient to the unenforceable.
The ultimate solution to the race problem lies in the willingness of men to obey the unenforceable. Court orders and federal enforcement agencies are of inestimable value in achieving desegregation, but desegregation is only a partial, though necessary, step toward the final goal which we seek to realize, genuine intergroup and interpersonal living. Desegregation will break down the legal barriers and bring men together physically, but something must touch the hearts and souls of men so that they will come together spiritually because it is natural and right. A vigorous enforcement of civil rights will bring an end to segregated public facilities, but it cannot bring an end to fears, prejudice, pride and irrationality, which are the barriers to a truly integrated society. The dark and demonic responses will be removed only as men are possessed by the invisible inner law which etches on their hearts the conviction that all men are brothers and that love is mankind's most potent weapon for personal and social transformation. True integration will be achieved by men who are willingly obedient to the unenforceable obligations. (100-101)
Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?

"Among the forces of white liberalism the church has a special obligation.

It is the voice of moral and spiritual authority on earth. Yet no one observing the history of the church in America can deny the shameful fact that it has been an accomplice in structuring racism into the architecture of American society. The church, by and large, sanctioned slavery and surrounded it with the halo of moral respectability. It also cast the mantle of its sanctity over the system of segregation. The unpardonable sin, thought the poet Milton, was when a man so repeatedly said, "Evil, be thou my good," so consistently lived a lie, that he lost the capacity to distinguish between good and evil. America's segregated churches come dangerously close to being in that position.
Of course, there have been marvelous exceptions. Over the last five years many religious bodies - Catholic, Protestant and Jewish  - have been in the vanguard of the civil rights struggle, and have sought desperately to make the ethical insights of our Judeo-Christian heritage relevant on the question of race. But the church as a whole has been all too negligent on the question of civil rights. It has too often blessed a status quo that needed to be blasted, and reassured a social order that needed to be reformed. So the church must acknowledge its guilt, its weak and vacillating witness, its all too frequent failure to obey the call to servanthood. Today the judgement of God is upon the church for its failure to be true to its mission. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority. (96)
 -Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (King Legacy)

"The white liberal must rid himself of the notion

that there can be a tensionless transition from the old order of injustice to the new order of justice. Two things are clear to me, and I hope they are clear to white liberals. One is that the Negro cannot achieve emancipation through violent rebellion. The other is that the Negro cannot achieve emancipation by passively waiting for the white race voluntarily to grant it to him. The Negro has not gained a single right in America without persistent pressure and agitation. However lamentable it may seem, the Negro is now convinced that white America will never admit him to equal rights unless it is coerced into doing it. 
Nonviolent coercion always brings tension to the surface. This tension, however, must not be seen as destructive. There is a kind of tension that is both healthy and necessary for growth. Society needs nonviolent gadflies to bring its tensions into the open and force its citizens to confront the ugliness of their prejudices and the tragedy of their racism. 
It is important for the liberal to see that the oppressed person who agitates for his rights is not the creator of tension. He merely brings out the hidden tension that is already alive. [...] We did not cause the cancer; we merely exposed it. Only through this kind of exposure will the cancer ever be cured. The committed white liberal must see the need for powerful antidotes to combat the disease of racism. (90-91)
-Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?

It’s Not Raining Eligible Muslim Men's_not_raining_eligible_muslim_men

via Zaid

"The question of intermarriage is never raised in a society cured of the disease of racism." (89)

Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? by Martin Luther King Jr.

"The virtue of patience will become a vice if it accepts so leisurely an approach to social change." (88)

Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? by Martin Luther King Jr.

"In the wasteland of war,

the expenditure of resources knows no restraints; here our abundance is fully recognized and enthusiastically squandered. The recently revealed misestimate of the war budget amounts to $10 billion for a single year. The error along is more than five times the amount committed to antipoverty programs. If we reversed investments and gave the armed forces the antipoverty budget, the generals could be forgiven if they walked off the battlefield in disgust. The Washington Post has calculated that we spend $332,000 for each enemy we kill. It challenges the imagination to contemplate what lives we could transform if we were to cease killing. The security we profess to seek in foreign adventures we will lose in our decaying cities. The bombs in Vietnam explode at home; they destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America. (86)
Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (King Legacy)

Of course, very relevant to today's military budgets and supposed lack of funds for social programs...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Quotes from Dr. King's Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?

"The Negroes of America had taken the President, the press and the pulpit at their word when they spoke in broad terms of freedom and justice. But the absence of brutality and unregenerate evil is not the presence of justice." (4)

"The majority of white Americans consider themselves sincerely committed to justice for the Negro. They believe that American society is essentially hospitable to fair play and to steady growth toward a middle-class Utopia embodying racial harmony. But unfortunately this is a fantasy of self-deception and comfortable vanity. Overwhelmingly America is still struggling with irresolution and contradictions. But too quickly apathy and disinterest rise to the surface when the next logical steps are to be taken. Laws are passed in a crisis mood after a Birmingham or a Selma, but no substantial fervor survives the formal signing of legislation. The recording of the law in itself is treated as the reality of the reform." (5)

"The great majority of Americans are suspended between these opposing attitudes. They are uneasy with injustice but unwilling yet to pay a significant price to eradicate it." (11)

"A final victory is an accumulation of many short-term encounters. To lightly dismiss a success because it does not usher in a complete order of justice is to fail to comprehend the process of achieving full victory. It underestimates the value of confrontation and dissolves the confidence born of a partial victory by which new efforts are powered." (12-13)

"The daily life of the Negro is still lived in the basement of the Great Society." (18-19)

"[I]n an atmosphere where false promises are daily realities, where deferred dreams are nightly facts, where acts of unpunished violence towards Negroes are a way of life, nonviolence would eventually be seriously questioned. I should have been reminded that disappointment produces despair and despair produces bitterness, and the one thing certain about bitterness is its blindness. Bitterness has not the capacity to make the distinction between some and all." (26)

"The Black Power advocates are disenchanted with the inconsistencies in the militaristic posture of our government. Over the last decade they have seen America applauding nonviolence whenever the Negroes have practiced it. They have watched it being praised in the sit-in movements of 1960, in the Freedom Rides of 1961, in the Albany movement of 1962, in the Birmingham movement of 1963 and in the Selma movement of 1965. But then these same black young men and women have watched as America sends black young men  to burn Vietnamese with napalm, to slaughter men, women and children; and they wonder what kind of nation it is that applauds nonviolence whenever Negroes face white people in the streets of the United States but then applauds violence and burning and death when these same Negroes are sent to the field of Vietnam." (35)

"Power, properly understood, is the ability to achieve purpose. It is the strength required to bring about social, political or economic changes. In this sense power is not only desirable but necessary in order to implement the demands of love and justice.One of the greatest problems of history is that the concept of love and power are usually contrasted as polar opposites. Love is identified with a resignation of power and power with a denial of love .It was this misinterpretation that caused Nietzsche, the philosopher of the "will to power," to reject the Christian concept of love. It was this same misinterpretation which induced Christian theologians to reject Nietzsche's philosophy of the "will to power" in the name of the Christian idea of love.What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.

There is nothing essentially wrong with power. The problem is that in America power is unequally distributed. This has led Negro Americans in the past to seek their goals through love and moral suasion devoid of power and white Americans to seek their goals through power devoid of love and conscience. It is leading a few extremists today to advocate for Negroes the same destructive and conscienceless power that they have just abhorred in whites. It is precisely this collision of immoral power with powerless morality which constitutes the major crisis of our times." (37)

"As long as the mind is enslaved the body can never be free." (43)

"But revolution, though born of despair, cannot long be sustained by despair." (45)

"When hope dies, a revolution degenerates into an undiscriminating catchall for evanescent and futile gestures." (46)

"The only healthy answer lies in one's honest recognition of disappointment even as he still clings to hope, one's acceptance of finite disappointment even while clinging to infinite hope." (46)

"To guard ourselves from bitterness, we need the vision to see in this generation's ordeals the opportunity to transfigure both ourselves and American society." (47)

"In a multiracial society no group can make it alone. It is a myth to believe that the Irish, the Italians and the Jews - the ethnic groups that Black power advocates cite as justifications for their views - rose to power through separatism. It is true that they struck together. But their group unity was always enlarged by joining in alliances with other groups such as political machines and trade unions. To succeed in a pluralistic society, and an often hostile one at that, the Negro obviously needs organized strength, but that strength will only be effective when it is consolidated through constructive alliances with the majority group." (50)

"In the final analysis the weakness of Black Power is its failure to see that the black man needs the white man and the white man needs the black man. However much we may try to romanticize the slogan, there is no separate black path to power and fulfillment that does not intersect white paths, and there is no separate white path to power and fulfillment, short of social disaster, that does not share that power with black aspirations for freedom and human destiny. We are bound together in a single garment of destiny." (52)

"But we are also Americans. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with the destiny of America. In spite of the psychological appeals of identification with Africa, the Negro must face the fact that America is now his home, a home that he helped to build through "blood, sweat, and tears." Since we are Americans the solution to our problems will not come through seeking to build a separate black nation within a nation, but by finding that creative minority of the concerned from the offtimes apathetic majority, and together moving toward that colorless power that we all need for security and justice." (54)

"I refuse to determine what is right by taking a Gallup poll of the trends of the time." (63)

"I would rather be a man of conviction than a man of conformity." (63)

Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (King Legacy)

Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (King Legacy)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Constant information - and nothing remembered by Neal Gabler

Santayana probably wouldn’t be surprised by a society that hasn’t learned from its past. That was, after all, the point of his quotation. But one wonders what he would make of a society that can’t even remember its past - a society that thinks every problem suddenly springs up anew and has no memory to tell it how it used to cope. That society is déjà vu all over again. And that society is ours.

via Marc

Also see this quote from Tony Judt about the idea "that the past has nothing of interest to teach us. Ours, we insist, is a new world; its risk and opportunities are without precedent."

Chris Hedges's latest article on the spectacle of the rally and 'phantom left'

Juan Cole: On How War with Iran might Destroy the United States

"In the endless stream of dogma that one encounters

in Muslim conferences, lectures, and publications, the Qur'an and Sunnah are affirmed as authoritative. This is often presented as if it resolves all issues. However, in reality, this is only the beginning of the inquiry. Importantly, one must deal with who is presenting the Qur'an and Sunnah and how they present these sources. Typically, a speaker addressing a particular issue in one of these publications or conferences will quote a couple of Qur'anic verses or hadiths and perhaps an anecdotal story from the religious traditions. Nonetheless, quotations and anecdotes do not make an argument; they simply illustrate it. It is the speaker who makes the argument and it is the speaker who chooses the illustrative quotations or anecdotes. If the speaker is ill informed, simplistic, dogmatic, or ill-intentioned, he or she will seek to exclude the vast spectrum of authoritative texts and opinions in favor of his or her own authoritarianism. The speaker will assume that the text has a clear, precise, and singular meaning, while excluding all evidence to the contrary. Furthermore, after superimposing his or her understanding upon the text, the speaker equates himself or herself to the text. The authoritative text is subsumed into the speaker who, in turn, becomes the authoritarian. Effectively, the speaker approaches an open text - open because the text is accessible to all readers and interpreters - and closes it, rendering it inaccessible. The meaning of the text and the interpretive process of the speaker become one and the same. The source is transformed from an open text to a closed text, and the text and speaker are fused as one.
-And God Knows the Soldiers: The Authoritative and Authoritarian in Islamic Discourses, pg. 41-2

'Muslims in the United States are plagued by the problem of authority.

By this I do not mean political or social authority - although that is a problem as well - but rather, textual authority. The problem is not so much the lack of an institutional framework to channel the authority of the text. Rather, the problem is developing the conceptual framework from which the text is approached, constructed, and presented. Muslims in the United States have not developed legitimate ways of understanding and interpreting Islamic texts. More importantly, they have not developed ways of evaluating the legitimacy or authoritativeness of the various ways according to which an Islamic text can be read and interpreted. The connections between the classical epistemological and hermeneutic heritage and Muslims living in the United States have been thoroughly severed. Muslims in the West are a disinherited bunch, and they are compelled to reinvent themselves without the collective wisdom of past Muslim generations. When it comes to making sense of Islamic texts, there is a remarkable vacuum - a vacuum that is often fulled by authoritarian agents who are able to appropriate the Divine Will in order to proclaim the death of discourse. This fatality is proclaimed in the humble service of a despotic puritanism in order to impose a suffocating silence.
-And God Knows the Soldiers: The Authoritative and Authoritarian in Islamic Discourses, pg. 37-8

Professor Abou El Fadl on the Intellectual Climate Amongst Muslims in America

The United States, at least for me, represented a further opportunity for pondering, weighing, and balancing, and for exploring the outer limits of thought. The air of unfettered freedom to think and write in the United States, without fear of arrest or torture, was nothing short of exhilarating. Of course, in the same way that my teachers back home had underestimated the power of Wahhabism in the Arab world, I had over-estimated the commitment of the United States to freedom. But there was another reality that I had grossly misunderstood in the United States, and that is the role and reality of the Muslim movement in the United States. Naively, I had assumed that the freedoms afforded in the United States, and the relative absence of political persecution, would allow for a Muslim intellectual re-birth. [...] Instead, what one found among Muslims in the United States was a remarkably arid intellectual climate. Far from freeing themselves from the burdensome baggage of their homelands, American Muslims reflected all the predicaments of their countries of origin, but in a sharply exasperated and pronounced form. By the 1990s, the same puritanism that was overcoming many parts of the Muslim world had become quite prevalent among American Muslims. For a variety of reasons, this puritanism was well suited for the American context - for a beleaguered minority searching for a sense of distinctiveness and autonomy, it provided a simple, straightforward, and aspirational dogma. Furthermore, it distracted this minority from its fears and worries about assimilation and loss of identity, with the comforting assuredness of privilege and distinctiveness. It dangled the ideal of the true, purified, and irreproachable Islam before the eyes of this minority, providing American Muslims with the means to escape confronting their intellectual an sociological insignificance. Furthermore, this ideal functioned as a tranquilizing narcotic, alleviating the anxieties of a minority living in a society that suffers from, what is at times, an intense Islamophobia. In addition, and perhaps most significantly, the Wahhabi brand of puritanism, in particular, has found a great deal of acceptance in a community that suffers from a fairly superficial knowledge of the Islamic intellectual tradition. The immigrant Muslim community in the United States is comprised largely of professionals who immigrated to the United States primarily for economic reasons. [15] There are no serious Muslim institutions of high learning, and the field of Islamic Studies does not attract the brightest students. [16] The few Muslims who do become accomplished in Islamic Studies are often perceived by the Muslim community to be a part of the secular paradigm, and are, therefore, alienated and marginalized. [17]
-And God Knows the Soldiers: The Authoritative and Authoritarian in Islamic Discourses, pg. 12-13

Sunday, October 31, 2010

"The Muslim Brotherhood in the West: Wolves or sheep?" (book review)

More war?!

Contrary to the Gary Wills piece I posted earlier calling for an end to war even if it means a one term presidency for Obama, David Broder in a Sunday op-ed piece for the Washington Post calls on Obama for even more war (with Iran) to gather Republican support, improve the economy ("the war recovery" plan apparently), so that he "may be regarded as one of the most successful presidents in history"!!!

See Stephen Walt's post What was David Broder smoking?

Haroon Moghul: It Hurts to Be Muslim, Too

Alexander Russell Webb on the Prospects of Islam in America

Webb had, in addition to a certain lack of practicality, an apparently sincere belief that the mission would prosper by virtue of its intrinsic merit, America's receptivity to it, and God's help. These were the hopes Webb had initially expressed to Kur when writing him from Manila:
To me, [the mission] is in no sense an experiment likely to result in failure, for I know the general tendency of thought in my country and the general characteristic of my countrymen too well to entertain for a moment the idea that anything but success if possible. Besides I have faith in the power and wisdom of Almighty God (Praised be His name for ever), and as Islam is the true religion. I feel confident that He will guide, direct and support a movement for its propagation which promised such great results as this. I have for several years been convinced that there were unseen influences at work brining about a condition of things calculated to overthrow the current erroneous religious systems of the world and establish mankind in the one true system. But which that system was to me uncertain until I arrived at a comprehension of the character and doctrines of Islam. I have had some strange experiences of which I hope to have the privilege of talking with you soon, and which have seemed to me as evidence that God was guiding me for some great and wise purpose, the ultimate object of which was the spiritual benefit of mankind...[C]ircumstances have so shaped themselves in my life that they have drawn me directly toward the movement in which I am about to engage with all the earnestness, vigour, and intellectual ability that God has given me.... I am impatient to meet you and talk freely with you concerning the matter, for I feel sure that you will agree with me not only that the object is of the grandest importance, but that there has been something more than ordinary human agencies at work in bringing the project to its present condition. God is great, and will surely guide his servants in the right way. [213]
Webb expressed such expectations again in Madras: "[Islam] has found a firm foothold in Europe [i.e,, Qulliam's community], and with God's help we propose to establish it in liberal progressive America, where, I feel confident, the masses of people are waiting to receive it." [214] When the correspondent of the Mohammedan Observer asked him if he truly believed Americans would convert, Webb answered:
Yes, most certainly...because during the last 19 or 15 years there has been a great falling off in confidence in the Christian faith. People have been drifting away from it, and hence there are so many societies formed, such as the Sectarian Society, the Theosophical Society, and various others; and the people are anxious to investigate, in order to get to the bottom of the system of religion. Now in St. Louis, where there is a population of half a million inhabitants, where a special staff of reporters were sent to take the census of the people who attended church, it was reported that only 7,000 people did so out of the half million; and the rest attended the various places of amusement. [215]
Webb believed he was doing God's work, and therefore, God would see that the mission survived. Webb could "leave the results and [the mission's] practical operation to God." [216] He stated in the same vein: "I have repeatedly been asked the question: 'How do you propose to introduce Islam into America?' As if it was  a task in which I alone was interested and in which God had no part...I believe that the power and influence of the Almighty God may be felt there just as strongly as it can in India or any part of the world." [217]
-A Muslim in Victorian America: The Life of Alexander Russell Webb by Dr. Umar F. Abd-Allah, pgs. 156-7
A Muslim in Victorian America: The Life of Alexander Russell Webb

Why ARE so many modern British career women converting to Islam?

Interesting read

Interesting quote from Khaled Abou El Fadl

The Wahhabism of the post-1975 period, although puritan, does not advocate austerity or asceticism. Wahhabism is the ultimate form of religiously sanctioned consumerism. There is very little to Wahhabi theological works about the evils of materialism or the condemnation of wealth. In effect, Wahhabism proved well suited for an era that had witnessed the steady retreat of Marxist and Socialist ideologies and the proliferation of consumer and service-based economies in the Muslim World. Conducting trade and commerce is regarded as a high moral value in Wahhabi thought partly because the Prophet himself was a merchant. [8] In Wahhabi thought, material luxury and the consumption of the commercial products of non-Muslims is not reproachable in any sense. However, importing any of the social or political institutions of non-Muslims is considered immoral. Furthermore, buying and using the commercial products of non-Muslims is not considered a form of emulating the West, yet importing ideas relating to such issues as gender relations, social justice, political power, or even critical methods of analysis are strongly condemned as following in the footsteps of the infidel. As far as religion is concerned, Wahhabism advocates simplicity of belief and correctness of practice. Hence, most issues related to religion can and should be reduced to a simple and single answer. Wahhabi thought also exhibits an extreme form of distrust of all forms of social theory, and considers intellectualism a form of devilish sophistry. Importantly, unlike other Islamic ideologies, Wahhabism is an ideology of political pacifism - there is very little emphasis on the ideal of the Caliphate or correct government. Rebellion against a government that implements the positive law of Islam is forbidden even if this government perpetuates social or economic injustice. [9]
-And God Knows the Soldiers: The Authoritative and Authoritarian in Islamic Discourses, pg. 6-7