Wednesday, May 12, 2004

THE BATTLE OF IDEAS: REASON VERSUS FAITH

What's the root of the problematic situation in the Middle East? I think that my readers would be interested to read a future column by Burgess Laughlin on this topic. At the end of his book, The Aristotle Adventure, he has a graphical summary of the Fate of Aristotle's logic, through the Arabic-Islamic branch - to 1600 AD. (Click here for viewing the poster.) Burgess Laughlin writes the following on page 124:

After the two contemporaries, Ibn Rushd and Ibn Maimun, no significant Arabic philosophers (Aristotelian or otherwise) appeared in Islamic culture - ever. In Islamic-Spain, the study of logic and philosophy (as parts of "alien learning") became extinct, extinguished by popular and theological hostility to non-Islamic culture.


I don't think that the antidote to militant Islam is a new crusade by the Christians, forcing people in Middle East to convert to another type of faith, but I could agree with the first part [my emphasis in italics] of Ann Coulter's quote [Hat tip to Moxie for the quote]:

"We know who the homicidal maniacs are. They are the ones cheering and dancing right now. We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."


The solution is not more faith-based initiatives, but instead looking at the reality and guide your life by using reason.

James Lileks writes:

The West doesn't have the power to change Islam; it only has the power to destroy it. We have a lot of nukes. We could kill everyone. We could just take out a few troublesome nations, kill millions, and irradiate Mecca so that the Fifth Pillar is invalidated.


We don't have to change the religion of Islam. What we should do is to challenge Islam (and other religions) in the ideological battle field, and continuously to spread better ideas.

James Lileks gives five alternatives of different reactions to beheading of Nick Berg:

There are five reactions one could have to such acts, committed by a coreligionist: Endorsement, Indifference, Denial, Rejection, Participation.


The Guardian sums up the overall attitude in the Middle East in the article, Arab Media React Cautiously to Beheading. My personal reaction is more in line with the American tabloid newspapers. Here is an excerpt from Michele Catalano's post, Monsters, Inc.

In my eyes, Nick Berg is not just one person, but 3,000 people. His murder is another 9/11, on a lesser scale, but not on a less important scale. He was murdered because he was an American. Just like the two towers and the Pentagon represented America to those bastards who flew the planes that day, and to those that planned the attacks, and to their followers, Nick Berg represented America.


Read Bob McManus' article, Turning the tables, if you want to learn about the military process called the "Boyd Cycle." Mr. McManus ends the article in an eloquent way:

In the end, of course, the real enemy in the War on Terror is a madness that at the moment of murder shouts "Allahu Akbar"-"God is great."

There is no reasoning with radical Islam. All that can be done is to reduce it to a state where it no longer poses a threat to the United States or its interests in the world.

Of necessity, such a strategy would produce graphic pictures in abundance - enough, perhaps, to convince the radicals of the folly of making war on America?

Nick Berg's murder needs to be the beginning of yet another Boyd Cycle, turning the enemy's strength - America's weak stomach - against him.

By all means, transmit shocking images - of dead al Qaeda terrorists, and the wreckage that will attend their defeat.

America will win, it if has the guts. (New York Post, 05/12/04.)


I have added a countdown script (powered by Blogtricks) to the Poll category that is showing how many days have gone since America attacked ("Uncle Sam Tour") Afghanistan and Iraq. I have also included how many days that are left until the Presidential election. Do you think that G.W. Bush will order to attack another member of the Axis of Evil before November 2?

UPDATE 05/14/04:

Robert Tracinski wrote the article, Islam vs. the West, in November 1998. Here is an excerpt:

The primary terrorist threat to the United States comes from Islamic fundamentalists—and the more fervent a country’s or organization’s Islamic beliefs, the more venomous are its denunciations of the West. This is not a coincidence. It stems directly from a fundamental ideological conflict between Islam and the West—an ideological conflict that can be seen, not only in the attacks by Islamic terrorists, but also in the near-civil-wars in countries like Turkey, Egypt, and Algeria between Islamic factions and their more-Westernized governments.

This central issue is the conflict between secularism and religious fundamentalism. (Robert W. Tracinski, The Intellectual Activist.)


Read Victor Davis Hanson's article, The Wars for the West. [Hat tip to Ben, George Mason University Objectivist Club.] Here is an excerpt:

This classically liberal vision is always under assault on the left by utopian totalitarians, devils who demand coercive government powers to force us to be angels, and on the right by autocratic romantics who believe in the superiority of a pure religion, race, or nationality. Thus we must defend the promise of the West and its manifestation in America almost constantly. (VictorHanson.com, 05/07/04.)


Thanks to Jim Woods for mentioning Edwin Locke's lecture, The Psycho-Epistemology of the Arab World.

So, how should we fight this war? Yaron Brook and Elan Journo have the answer in their article, Fighting a Compassionate War is Immoral:

Morally, to fight a war in self-defense requires that one soundly defeat the enemy while safeguarding one's forces and citizens. ... If we continue to wage a compassionate war, it will be a matter of time before Islamic militants bring suicide-bombings and mass murder (again) to the streets of the United States. (America's Compassion in Iraq is Self-Destructive, 04/20/04.)


Maybe my readers could be interested in getting products from a company called Ideas Matter LLC. Here is a quote from their web site [Hat tip to Patriots for the Defense of America]:

We all witnessed the devastating impact of bad ideas on September 11, 2001. The terrorists embraced a death-worshipping religion, unrelieved by reason, which violently opposes all that is beneficial to mankind: reason, freedom and capitalism. Its adherents desire not the betterment of their own lives but the destruction of ours. The consequence for them is an insecure existence subject to the arbitrary whims of mullahs, dictators and sheiks.