Patterico's Pontifications

3/30/2009

Writer: Don’t Use Term “Freedom” with Muslims

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 3:59 pm

10 terms not to use with Muslims:

As President Obama considers his first speech in a Muslim majority country (he visits Turkey April 6-7), and as the US national security establishment reviews its foreign policy and public diplomacy, I want to share the advice given to me from dear Muslim friends worldwide regarding words and concepts that are not useful in building relationships with them.

. . . .

“Freedom.” Unfortunately, “freedom,” as expressed in American foreign policy, does not always seek to engage how the local community and culture understands it. Absent such an understanding, freedom can imply an unbound licentiousness. The balance between the freedom to something (liberty) and the freedom from something (security) is best understood in a conversation with the local context and, in particular, with the Muslims who live there. “Freedom” is best framed in the context of how they understand such things as peace, justice, honor, mercy, and compassion.

This is insanity. Freedom is at the core of American principles, and telling an American president not to use the term “freedom” in a speech because it might offend someone is nuts. There’s no need to go around deliberately offending people for no reason.

Do I want Obama to go tell Muslims that we’re on a “crusade” against terrorism? No, not any more than I want him to go speak to a group of disabled people and crack jokes about the Special Olympics.

But if you must offend people in order to communicate your core principles, so be it. (And by the way, I’ve never said anything different.)

And if an American president can’t talk about “freedom” to the people of the world, we may as well hang it up.

94 Responses to “Writer: Don’t Use Term “Freedom” with Muslims”

  1. If they have no compunction against offending this country by declaring jihad against the US or referring to the US as “the Great Satan”, I have no problem telling them we are on a crusade against terrorism.

    Would they prefer that it was “A mission from God to eliminate terrorism from the face of the earth”?

    Dr. K (e70a2d)

  2. The evil construct of moral relativism rears it’s ugly head once again.

    Dmac (49b16c)

  3. Dr. K,

    Not all Muslims in the world have declared jihad against the U.S.

    I have no problem with telling the ones who have to fuck off. There’s no need to be polite to those people at all.

    Patterico (921be1)

  4. “Religious freedom” and “tolerance” are also verboten, according to the piece.

    Barf.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R., (3752aa)

  5. Diapers and fanbelts are other words I would have suggested avoiding, particularly when describing headgear worn by muslims.

    The author of this piece should write an equivalent one directed at muslims explaining how we understand the words he suggests we avoid in this piece so muslims understand our intent rather than take offense. D’oh!

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  6. 1. “The Clash of Civilizations.” You are right. Islamofacsists are not civilized. It a clash of the civilized (the rest of the world) vs. the uncivilized (Islamofacsists).

    2. “Secular.” When Muslims show some tolerance to Jews and Christians and other faiths in their nations (see below), we can start adopting other terms to secular. In the meantime, blow me.

    3. “Assimilation.” You mean subsistute “Multiculturalism”? How about, what did the sail boat say? A: Blow me!

    4. “Reformation.” Muslims don’t need to be insulted by suggesting they follow the Christian example of Martin Luther? How about stop committing terrorist attacks first and we can then discuss your feeeeeeeeeliiiinngs. And to the rest of the Muslim world, fuck you and your damn feelings. We should not be dealing with your shit. You brought these jokers to the party. Take care of them yourselves or we will take care of them for you. Guess what, Allah is not pleased with you and he has chosen the Jews and Christian/Secular West to kick your asses. Reflect on that.

    5. “Jihadi.” Since terrorists call themselves “Jihadis” it is obviously our bias and prejudice that results in us call terrorists Jihadis. Can you ever forgive us? No? Blow me.

    6. “Moderate.” It may be your culture to be “robust” in your faith when dealing with Jews, woman, gays, and other infidels. It is our culture to blow the shit out of you when you decide to be “robust” to us. Again, blow me.

    7. “Interfaith.” This term conjures up images of watered-down, lowest common denominator statements that avoid the tough issues and are consequently irrelevant. You mean like not blowing up inocents to make a theological point? Again, blow me (not blow me up Jihadi scum, just blow me).

    8. “Freedom.” “‘Freedom’ is best framed in the context of how they understand such things as peace, justice, honor, mercy, and compassion.” How about not blowing up innocent persons, or cutting their heads off, or other acts of “peace, justice, honor, mercy and compassion.” Again, blow me.

    9. “Religious Freedom.” Blow me. Even Christopher Hitchens seconds an “Amen brother!” You mean how Jews are just embraced in the Muslim world as “people of the book?” Again, blow me.

    10. “Tolerance.” We need to be honest with and respect one another enough to name our differences and commonalities, according to the inherent dignity we each have as fellow creations of God called to walk together in peace and justice, mercy and compassion. How about not killing us every chance you get? We can talk tolerance then.

    Joe (dcebbd)

  7. So, we show “respect” to these communities by lying to them?

    Super-nougaty nuance.

    Techie (9c008e)

  8. Clearly, by that writer’s calculus, Muslims are just too damn stupid to understand the concept of freedom. The whole idea of the US not mentioning freedom is so brain-jarringly obscene so as to have to be parody, even if Barcky and the Leftists ideas of freedom differ from mine.

    JD (0ecdbf)

  9. More bloviation from a dhimmi.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  10. So, we show “respect” to these communities by lying to them?

    Techie – Then the terrorists, sorry, the hirabists have won? FTNQ

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  11. I think “raghead” is also a term to be avoided. Just kiddng.

    Why would Obama care so much about freedom when he has benefited from its absence a few times.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  12. Mike K – The origin of the diaper and fan belt comment from shortly after 9/11 for those who do not remember it:

    “Comes now to the podium the Right Honorable John Cooksey, one United
    States Congressman from the Great State of Louisiana, speaking over the
    radio to his constituents as regards The Current National Crisis.

    Is he recommending that our intelligence services consider hiring a
    few Farsi and Arabic speakers (and, please, do vet these people
    carefully — the recent FBI cattle call does seem an invitation for
    infiltration, and the FBI and CIA have had some trouble in that area
    of late)? That law enforcement act effectively on the leads
    generated by the now year-old investigation into the near-sinking of
    the USS Cole, or the far older investigation into the embassy
    bombings in Africa, which leads put several of the hijackers on our
    apparently laughable watch list?

    No. He’s suggesting that the painstaking work of surveillance be
    taken up by one and all, by donut-humping county sheriffs, town
    constables and apparently by individual citizens exercising some
    previously overlooked codicil to citizens’ arrest: the citizens’
    interrogation of those looking like they need extra attention.

    Hearken now to Congressman Cooksey’s invaluable advice on how to
    implement our new national mood:

    “If I see someone come in and he’s got a diaper on his head and a fan belt around that diaper on his head, that guy needs to be pulled over and checked,” this utter imbecile announces to all who can hear.”

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  13. I agree!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    EricPWJohnson (b25747)

  14. Dr. K

    The leading cause of Death of Arabs in Iraq (besides old age) is by the hands of their fellow Arabs.

    Screw em who blow up woman and children whose only crime was to go to the Mosque or to market

    Tell em to go straight to hell with our blessings

    EricPWJohnson (b25747)

  15. Next up: Card-Check religious conversions.

    ras (20bd5b)

  16. I’m no fan of, well, anything, but this doesn’t seem like a fair way to read the CSM article. It doesn’t say to avoid the word “freedom” because it’s offensive, it says to avoid the word because it’s likely to be misunderstood, and to use other terms to convey the idea more accurately. Similarly, you were probably taught to avoid terms like “mens rea” when talking to jurors, even when you’re really talking about mens rea. You don’t even (usually?) have to worry about your words being translated before reaching the audience.

    Choosing words carefully to convey an idea is not the same as choosing not to convey the idea. It’s kind of the opposite.

    roy (a1e331)

  17. Why, again, do we think Obama needs input on proper Muslim communications?

    snark off

    fat tony (83f355)

  18. Why, again, do we think Obama needs input on proper Muslim communication style?

    snark off

    fat tony (83f355)

  19. …but Obama is a good guy

    beedubya (fcf819)

  20. Eric, I would have thought that over the past 25 years, the leading cause of death for Iraqis was Persians rather than Arabs.

    Same diff, really.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  21. Freedom freedom freedom freedom freedom freedom …

    Tolerance should be avoided?! First they were intolerant of intolerance, but now, we are to be tolerant of intolerance.
    Roy – The writer suggested that the TERM freedom be avoided. Not the idea of freedom. But, you know better than the writer, huh?

    JD (0ecdbf)

  22. If the word “freedom” communicates licentiousness to Muslims, perhaps “freedom” is not a word to be used any more than “crusade” because it doesn’t communicate the concept that we think of when we hear the word. Remember that Muslims don’t want freedom to live their lives as they want to live; their ideal is to live their lives according to Allah’s will, to submit, the very meaning of Islam. With that mind-set, freedom, the total opposite of submission, will inevitably turn the hearers away from our message.

    Craig R. Harmon (474365)

  23. beedubya,

    You’re an idiot.

    Patterico (7adbc5)

  24. What terms can we use, then? Perhap we should just apologize and be done with it.

    Chris (a24890)

  25. Craig Harmon,

    If they don’t understand the word “freedom” then maybe we need to explain the concept better. I’m fine with that.

    But the idea that we should shy away from the word because it might be offensive is unacceptable.

    Patterico (dadace)

  26. I recently re-read a WSJ interview with Hirsi Ali and it certainly hits the nail on the head of the fool who wrote the 10 Terms Not to Use… drivel. I’m happy at least one woman remains courageous and remains courageously steadfast against sugarcoating vile and ugly truths by playing a semantics game. Our President should take note.

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali is untrammeled and unrepentant: “I am supposed to apologize for saying the prophet [Mohammed]is a pervert and a tyrant,” she declares. “But that is apologizing for the truth.”

    “We know exactly what it is about but we don’t have the guts to say it out loud,” she says. “We are too weak to take up our role.

    The most grievous failing of the West is self-congratulatory passivity: We face “an external enemy that to a degree has become an internal enemy, that has infiltrated the system and wants to destroy it.” She believes a more drastic reaction is required: “It’s easy,” she says, “to weigh liberties against the damage that can be done to society and decide to deny liberties. As it should be. A free society should be prepared to recognize the patterns in front of it, and do something about them.”

    I was going to mock author, Chris Seiple, but then read his mini-bio at the end of the linked piece and realized it said everything,

    Chris Seiple is the president of the Institute for Global Engagement, a “think tank with legs” that promotes sustainable environments for
    religious freedom worldwide.

    Dana (137151)

  27. How about we replace the term freedom with the phrase unafraid to have our heads chopped off by a rusty scimtar? There is absolutely no reason to avoid or pussy-foot around the term freedom. If someone will not properly interpret that term, or chooses to misinterpret it, that is all on them.

    JD (0ecdbf)

  28. Patterico, maybe we should explain the concept without using words that they will find offensive.

    Craig R. Harmon (474365)

  29. “There is absolutely no reason to avoid or pussy-foot around the term freedom. If someone will not properly interpret that term, or chooses to misinterpret it, that is all on them”

    Let’s pull that apart.

    “There is absolutely no reason to avoid or pussy-foot around the term freedom.”

    Agree.

    “If someone will not properly interpret that term, or chooses to misinterpret it, that is all on them”

    If someone chooses to misinterpret it, that is all on them.

    BUT: if someone “will not properly interpret” that term, doesn’t it matter whether they have the context to properly interpret it?

    And don’t you agree that, if you’re going to use the term, and you KNOW a reasonable Muslim will misunderstand you — the President still MUST use the term. But maybe he has an abligation to explain it better.

    Oh, never mind. I’m wrong and I denounce myself.

    Racists

    Patterico (dc0a13)

  30. If someone takes offense at the term/idea/concept/word freedom, then I would question why we even bother talking to them. Oh, for focks sake. The mere idea that we must tailor our language in a manner which keeps us from referencing one of the foundational principles our our nation is silly beyond belief.

    JD (0ecdbf)

  31. “The mere idea that we must tailor our language in a manner which keeps us from referencing one of the foundational principles our our nation is silly beyond belief.”

    Agree.

    Patterico (33d0c3)

  32. Fine. It’s silly beyond belief to know one’s audience and to tailor one’s message in such a way that one speaks one’s own message in the audience’s own language, all without risking misunderstanding, without risking the audience taking offense, without risking not even knowing that we’re talking at cross-purposes to our own purposes. I can’t think of anything so stupid.

    Craig R. Harmon (474365)

  33. With that mind-set, freedom, the total opposite of submission, will inevitably turn the hearers away from our message.

    Really? I wonder how many women in the Muslim world suffering under Sharia would agree with you.

    Dana (137151)

  34. Racists

    JD (0ecdbf)

  35. “Fine. It’s silly beyond belief to know one’s audience and to tailor one’s message in such a way that one speaks one’s own message in the audience’s own language, all without risking misunderstanding, without risking the audience taking offense, without risking not even knowing that we’re talking at cross-purposes to our own purposes. I can’t think of anything so stupid.”

    It’s stupid beyond belief not to refer to freedom.

    But if the audience is likely to misunderstand the term (reasonably and in good faith), it should be explained.

    Patterico (f70a03)

  36. The words freedom and liberty are not magic incantations. Anyone who has ever worked in language translation will explain that what is important in cross-cultural communication is not word correspondence but concept equivalence: finding the means of communicating one culture’s concepts into the concepts of the target’s culture.

    Craig R. Harmon (474365)

  37. Patterico, if it’s possible to communicate one’s culture’s foundational concepts without using language likely to be misconstrued, why bother using language that’s likely to be misconstrued, only to spend time trying to undue whatever damage might have been avoided merely by avoiding the language likely to be misconstrued?

    Craig R. Harmon (474365)

  38. undue” = “undo”

    Craig R. Harmon (474365)

  39. We should avoid the term tolerance because reasonable Muslims may not understand the term? This entire concept is ridiculous. It allows someone other than the author to hijack our language, the foundational principles of our nation.

    JD (0ecdbf)

  40. When an Iraqi man, with tears in his eyes, says “I don’t know what freedom is, but now my son will” as a statement of thanks to the US military, the idea of the avoidance of the word “freedom” out of fear of misunderstanding fails.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  41. The way I look at it th Crusades were a responce to Islamic Imperialism and Conquest

    Dan Kauffman (3c9c17)

  42. Craig,

    I think you’re talking about a failure in translation.

    Patterico (55ca68)

  43. Patterico, on the contrary, I’m talking about a quite successful means of communication that has been successfully used in Bible translation for decades.

    Craig R. Harmon (474365)

  44. If someone takes offense at the idea of freedom, as understood by us, then it is incumbent upon them to understand our meaning. The burden cannot be shifted to us to avoid words tha could possibly offend someone. If someone is offended by the term freedom, as used in the US, then they should have to show how a reasonable person could be offended by our freedom, and make their case that it is an offensive term. To not use it over the potential for someone to intentionally or unreasonably misinterpret our term freedom is bullshit.

    JD (0ecdbf)

  45. Subit, beeyotches.

    JD (0ecdbf)

  46. It’s called Dynamic equivalence. When the target culture is so different that it has no equivalent terms for the terms being translated, there is no alternative to abandoning the literal word for word translation and finding some alternate conceptions from the target culture’s language and customs to communicate the meaning. That’s what’s being proposed here, not abandoning the concept but avoiding the terms.

    Look, in my opinion, building a culture to the point where it is ready to be positively influenced by the works of John Stuart Mill is the work of decades, maybe generations, not the work of one speech or even one President’s administration. That’s my point. Let’s learn to speak our message in their language rather than making them learn ours.

    Craig R. Harmon (474365)

  47. Craig,

    I hear you. And as long as it’s OUR message, it sounds like an issue of translation.

    I’m all for accurate translation.

    I’m against changing the MESSAGE. Especially if it involves our core principles.

    Patterico (55ca68)

  48. Anyone who has ever worked in language translation will explain that what is important in cross-cultural communication is not word correspondence but concept equivalence:

    So explaining freedom is what ? Muslims only know submission so we should call it submission ?

    I’m sorry but you don’t make sense. Translation means converting the term to the other language without losing the meaning. What is the term for freedom in Arabic ? That seems easy enough.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  49. Cool Hand Luke 1967:

    Captain, Road Prison 36: What we got here is… failure to communicate.

    ——————————————————————————–
    Captain, Road Prison 36: You run one time, you got yourself a set of chains. You run twice you got yourself two sets. You ain’t gonna need no third set, ’cause you gonna get your mind right.

    ——————————————————————————–
    Arletta: Ya know, sometimes I wished people was like dogs, Luke.

    ——————————————————————————–
    Boss: Sorry, Luke. I’m just doing my job. You gotta appreciate that.
    Luke: Nah – calling it your job don’t make it right, Boss.

    ——————————————————————————–
    Captain, Road Prison 36: What we’ve got here is… failure to communicate. Some men you just can’t reach. So you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it… well, he gets it. I don’t like it any more than you men.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  50. Look, in my opinion, building a culture to the point where it is ready to be positively influenced by the works of John Stuart Mill is the work of decades, maybe generations, not the work of one speech or even one President’s administration. That’s my point. Let’s learn to speak our message in their language rather than making them learn ours.

    Napalm works faster. Much faster. Ask former Nazis and former Bushido Japanese.

    Perfect Sense (0922fa)

  51. Why is it that this asshat assumes that Muslims will be offended by the term freedom? Does he hold Muslims in such low esteem that he cannot imagine how they could even begin to understand the concept? Or, does he think that they will intentionally misinterpret the term freedom?

    JD (0ecdbf)

  52. Mike K, my point is that merely finding a term for freedom in Arabic is no good because to a Muslim’s ear, the Arabic term for freedom will mean licentiousness, the very opposite of their ideal. The whole point of Dynamic equivalence is to avoid a mere word for word transference but, rather, finding the best way of communicating the concept from the original culture/language into the target culture/language. The point is that a simple, word for word equivalence is problematic and so finding ways of communicating the concepts in words from their culture/language that avoid the problems posed by our words is the better way to go in my opinion.

    Craig R. Harmon (474365)

  53. __________________________________

    Do I want Obama to go tell Muslims that we’re on a “crusade” against terrorism?

    Personally, I’d like to see an American president, who isn’t into doublespeak, moral equivalency, and blame-America-First neurosis — which pretty much disqualifies the current occupant of the Oval Office — point out the following to Muslims, not to mention those people (certainly throughout the Western world) who are rather ignorant and naive about the history of the founder of Islam…

    http://www.politicalislam.com

    All Islamic politics are based on Mohammed’s politics. Here are some of Mohammed’s ideal political examples that he established for all times and all.

    Who Will Rid Me of Ashraf?

    Al Ashraf, a Jew, wrote a poem that criticized Mohammed. Mohammed asked for volunteers to assassinate Al Ashraf. The plotters asked Mohammed if they could lie and deceive the Jewish poet. Mohammed told them to say whatever was needed to do the job. The lies played on Al Ashraf’s sympathy and willingness to help others. The Muslims were able to use their knives and kill the “enemy of Allah”. When they returned to give Mohammed the news of how they had killed his intellectual opponent, he was praying.

    The Killing of the Jew–Abu Rabi

    Some of the Muslims were jealous of the praise given to the assassins of Al Ashraf. Mohammed gave them permission to kill another Jew, Abu Rabi. They attacked him at night using their swords. When they returned to give Mohamed the news, they argued over which Muslim was actually the one who gave the death stroke. Mohammed asked to see their swords. One of them actually had some food on it from the thrust to the stomach. Mohammed gave him the credit for the assassination.

    Another Enemy of Allah Killed

    One of the kafir leaders who opposed Mohammed was targeted for death. The assassin went to see the leader and volunteered for his army. As they walked and talked, the Muslim killed him with a knife. When he returned and told Mohammed, he was given a stick. Later he went to Mohammed and asked him why he was given the stick. Mohammed told him that on Judgment Day all of those with such sticks would get an automatic pass into Paradise.

    Another Opponent Assassinated

    A leader of a coalition of tribes who opposed Mohammed received the same treatment, except the assassin cut off his head. When the killer returned to Mohammed, he gave Mohammed the head of his enemy. He also was given a special stick for Judgment Day.

    The Attempted Assassination

    Mohammed sent assassins to kill another political opponent. They could not do so, but they were able to kill some kafirs and kidnap one man. They returned and told Mohammed how they had killed one man as he slept, by thrusting a bow in his eye into the back of his head. Mohammed laughed so hard that you could see his rear teeth.

    Mark (411533)

  54. Oh, I don’t know. There are lots and lots of complicated words that Muslims have no trouble with.

    Slavery, for example.

    Or how about “honor killing”?

    I think that this kind of attitude is a weird form of racism: the other person couldn’t possibly understand our enlightened language.

    They certainly know, again, all kinds of words.

    Eric Blair (55f2d9)

  55. Craig,

    Your argument reminds me of an anthropology course I took in college where one lecture was devoted to the way different cultures view color — literal colors — not racial issues the way we might think of that term today. As discussed at the link, not every culture recognizes words for the same colors. Thus, in cultures where people only use terms like black, white, and grey, how should we explain concepts like green, red, and yellow without using those words?

    At its core, I think your concern presents a similar issue. So while I agree we have to talk to people in words and concepts they understand, if their language doesn’t recognize a concept then I think we have no choice but to present the concept in the words that have meaning in our culture. Otherwise we really aren’t communicating.

    Anon (eb4fed)

  56. Bigots and racists, one and all … Except for Roy and Craig, who have demonstrated that they are willing to give away the rights to our language to those that cannot or will not interpret your words properly, and would not allow you to use the foundational notions of our country in our language, for fear of unreasonable offense being taken.

    JD (0ecdbf)

  57. Anon – Did people take unreasonable offense if you used the terms red, mauve, fuscia, or periwinkle? If you showed them examples of the aforementioned colors, and the still insisted on taking offense, should you continue to alter your language?

    JD (0ecdbf)

  58. Hey, JD? What is the Arabic word for “racist”?

    How about “self condemning tool of medieval cultures”?

    Eric Blair (55f2d9)

  59. JD,

    It was so long ago that I’m hazy on the details, but I’m pretty sure every culture would take offense at periwinkle.

    Anon (eb4fed)

  60. Anon – My response came across a little more snarky than I intended.

    Freedom

    JD who is not going to quit saying freedom (0ecdbf)

  61. Anon – Agreed.

    For whatever reason, this entire concept makes my blood boil.

    JD (0ecdbf)

  62. JD,

    I didn’t take your comment as snarky. I thought you were making a good point. Plus it gave me a chance to use periwinkle in a comment. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before.

    Anon (eb4fed)

  63. What concept? Freedom or Perry Winkle?

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  64. I am just sure the crocodile will eat this reporter last.

    Patricia (2183bb)

  65. My comment has been interpreted to mean the opposite of what I intended, which illustrates the point I meant to make.

    roy (d6fc79)

  66. Sneer and wink wink all you want about periwinkle, but I have this long sleeve shirt that I was told is periwinkle [the COLOR!] which I was given a while back. And it has become a magnet of sorts since women seem very uninhibited about coming around to touch it and remark how, um, never mind what they say…their secrets are safe with me.

    allan (8f90c8)

  67. Wrong Way Roy –

    We knew that.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  68. Another term that is not supposed to be used is “Clash of Civilization.” If there is no “Clash of Civilizations” why did a UN human rights committee approve a proposal by Muslim nations to protect religion from criticism? Opponents of the resolution included Canada, all European Union countries, Switzerland, Ukraine and Chile. If that isn’t a clash I don’t know what is.

    ROA (41c1c1)

  69. #3:

    And not all terrorists are Muslim.

    So, what’s your point?

    Dr. K (e70a2d)

  70. My point is that there are people on both sides whose only purpose is to provoke. People on the non-Muslim side need to be aware of the provocation and avoid it, while the people of the Muslim faith are aware of the provocation and play it to the max.

    Talk about a double standard.

    Tell them all to grow up and suck it up. There is no right to be free from offence.

    Dr. K (e70a2d)

  71. Maybe it would be a good idea to at least point out that it is Muslims the world over who are killing people for religious reasons. If they aren’t killing within their immediate family, they are killing school children, teachers, non-muslims, other Muslims.

    And if they aren’t killing, they are taking the people who point out that they are killing to court. Or pushing for Sharia Law, or more to the point of this post, providing silent support.

    White people stopped slavery. White people in the US stopped the KKK and made it a movement of the fringe. Germans did not stop the Nazi movement and I doubt that we will see Muslims stopping Islamo fascism. Muslims sure aren’t stopping it now.

    Jack (d9cbc5)

  72. I’m surprised that so many commenters here are accepting Seiple’s premise that Muslims’ appreciation of freedom is not the same as ours. The left was using it as an argument, not too long ago, against trying to bring democracy to Iraq. Let’s also think about the muhajadeen fighting the Soviet Union; the Bosnians and Kosovars fighting Milosevich; the Chechnyans fighting Russia; the Uighurs fighting the ChiComs, to name some few more.

    nk (fab561)

  73. I can’t think of anything so stupid.

    So if Reagan had taken your ideas into account, his speech in front of the Berlin Wall would be something along these lines:

    “Mr. Gorbachev, please take unto consideration the possibility of allowing a few people to cross over this wall, give or take the next 10 years.”

    “Mr. Gorbachev, would it be ok if you put some plants on top of this wall? It would make it look so much less forbidding.”

    Your fundamental understanding of what this country represents is seriously flawed.

    Dmac (49b16c)

  74. Anon #53, I think we’re communicating!

    JD #54, I’m not talking about giving away our rights to our language, for pity sake. We can use whatever language we choose. I’m merely arguing that we choose to use whatever language will communicate our meaning with the least likelihood of misunderstanding or of creating offense that will create a barrier to communication.

    And I don’t think that you or anyone else here who disagree with me are bigots or racists. Can’t we disagree without slinging such epithets around at one another?

    Craig R. Harmon (1ea2ce)

  75. Craig – I understand your position quite well. I just do not agree with it. If someone takes offense at our quaint little notion of freedom, then they are either choosing to not understand what we mean by it, or are intentionally misinterpreting it. In that instance, I would not avoid saying that word, I would say that word more and more and more, and maybe the audience might actually take the time to understand us, rather than the speaker having to abandon their own language at the risk of causing offense to someone over a universally good concept like freedom.

    JD (6f1fb5)

  76. Craig writes:

    “…Can’t we disagree without slinging such epithets around at one another?…”

    Well, I guess that some words mean different things to different people, right? Perhaps you are being culturally imperialistic to place your own definitions on the words of others!

    It is an irony-rich diet in the blogosphere.

    Eric Blair (4d78ef)

  77. JD, all due respect, I don’t think you understand my position at all. You act as if one can just listen to one 30 minute discussion and understand freedom. We understand freedom because we live it; it is our culture and has been since our nation’s beginning and since before that. Freedom has been a notion banging about the Western tradition since there was a Western tradition. We are taught it in school. We are taught to respect its symbols and so forth. Muslims have no such history to the term or to the notion or to the cultural trappings. Muslims’ only connection to the term or conception of Western freedom have been negative. Freedom is seen as a threat to Islam, which as I explained means submission to Allah’s will. They fear it. Why even use it when we know we will have to overcome that sort of negative reaction?

    No one is talking about abandoning the notion, just the terminology.

    Craig R. Harmon (1ea2ce)

  78. I’ll reluctantly go along with Mr. Harmon’s breakdown as long as he will equally advocate the preclusion of words used by Muslims for honor killings, female beatings and mutilations, religious police canings for dress code violations, violent punishment admininstered to women for the crime of being raped, death sentences for alleged heretical speech, etc. Terms which are extremely offensive to the Western culture. Let’s start with the word sharia. That word shall never be uttered in public speech to a Western audience for it is utterly offensive to our sensibilities.

    Slippery slopes are custom made for greased pigs. Even if you can catch up with them, they are most difficult to hold on to. The underlying problem here is that repressive and authoritarian cultures are free to use and abuse our more democratic rules of fair play. While we in the West willfully choose to tie our hands behind our backs, and find it distasteful to fight fire with fire.

    allan (c29ad8)

  79. Unlike you Craig, I do not presume that those silly little brown people are incapable of understanding the term or concept of freedom. They do not have to agree with it, but I have every belief that they are enterprising enough, and capable of the ability to grasp root and fundamental concepts. I called my Iranian aunt and her children this morning, who are Muslim, and they found your notion that they could not understand the Western idea of freedom, or would be offended by it, far more offensive than our President speaking that term.

    JD (295739)

  80. allan @9:32 a.m.

    Thank you for your comment! I was so offended by Mr. Harmon’s ignoring the elephant in the room that I could not adequately express such and you have done so with ease and succinctness. How does one assume that there are not thousands of women longing and hungering to hear the word “freedom”, in all it’s glorious Western meaning, expressed from the leader of the freest nation in the world? When a person is in bondage, I doubt the definition is ever in doubt. And there are plenty of documents, writings, and websites devoted to those women who have risked their lives as they run toward that freedom…in it’s Western definition…

    Also, I would point this out in regard to your comment which may now have a bitter irony attached to it,

    That word shall never be uttered in public speech to a Western audience for it is utterly offensive to our sensibilities.

    From the NYPost,

    JUDGES should interpret the Constitution according to other nations’ legal “norms.” Sharia law could apply to disputes in US courts. The United States constitutes an “axis of disobedience” along with North Korea and Saddam-era Iraq.

    Those are the views of the man on track to become one of the US government’s top lawyers: Harold Koh.

    Dana (137151)

  81. “Perhaps you are being culturally imperialistic to place your own definitions on the words of others!”

    No, just illustrating the foolishness of using words likely to be misunderstood and to give offense and to present a block to communication.

    Craig R. Harmon (4fbd5f)

  82. If our concept of Freedom is so alien to others throughout the world, why are so many attempting to emigrate here?
    Why would they abandon family, friends, and culture, to move to an alien place where it will require hard work to attain a level of material success that would be denied them in their native land?
    Yes, why would they do such an inconceivable thing?
    Why, indeed!

    AD - RtR/OS (7f6512)

  83. Why does Craig think that Muslims are so infantile that they could not be expected to understand the term freedom?

    JD (6f1fb5)

  84. JD, first, I do not consider Muslims silly. Second, I do not consider them incapable of understanding the idea of freedom nor have I said any such thing so whatever strawman you communicated to your Iranian friend was just that: a strawman. I’ve communicated my point quite clearly in plain English. Since you persist in misunderstanding my position, by your own theory, you must be either intellectually incapable of following my points or be intentionally pretending to misunderstand me. In neither case is it worth responding further to you.

    Toodles!

    Craig R. Harmon (e06eab)

  85. It was not my Iranian friend, it was my Iranian family member, my aunt. And I did not “convey” anything, I read her your words.

    JD (6f1fb5)

  86. Craig – Above, I wrote :

    Unlike you Craig, I do not presume that those silly little brown people are incapable of understanding the term or concept of freedom

    And your response was to indicate that you do not think they are silly? Does that mean you do think that Muslims are incapable of understanding the term or concept of freedom?

    JD (6f1fb5)

  87. I am reminded of my time attending college. There was an African muslim, an Israeli Jew and a Palestinian attending, and the three of them were friends. In fact, the Israeli and the Palestinian chose to be room-mates for four years. And this was at a Christian college, closely tied to the Friends Church. Very strict rules. Chapel 3 days a week, and everyone had to attend 2 out of 3 each week or face possible expulsion.

    These people didn’t have any troubles understanding concepts.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  88. JD, read the second sentence in #83. I’ve already answered your question.

    Craig R. Harmon (6ea019)

  89. So, if you believe that they are capable of understanding the concept, why should they take offense at our use of the term?

    JD (6f1fb5)

  90. #80: a sense of humor is a wonderful thing. Especially when you see that it is missing.

    Eric Blair (c8876d)

  91. Eric – It is a very serious one.

    JD (6f1fb5)

  92. JD #91, Although a person may be capable of understanding a concept, that person might, because of his or her own misconceptions and learned biases be so turned away from a message by the words used in communicating that message that they will never give the speaker the chance to explain his or her meaning and remove the confusion or offense.

    Fine. That is the hearers’ fault. I grant the point. But the communication attempt will have failed in any case and it needn’t have failed if the speaker, knowing that there are certain words that are liable to cause such problems with some significant segment of one’s audience and that there are alternate ways of communicating the same concepts that avoid those linguistic disasters, I say, a wise speaker should probably take that course for the sake of not turning off said segments of the audience.

    Look, there may be plenty of Muslims who are open to learning about Western concepts of liberty, eager even — indeed, there are many Muslims who have migrated to the West not just for jobs but for the freedoms that have drawn others. I by no means wish to deny this.

    But I am commenting in the context of advice given to our President for his speaking as President to the nations of the world, including, in particular, Muslim nations of the world. Those nations are not going to consist exclusively of people disposed to unbiased hearing of the messages spoken by the POTUS. A part of that bias is going, surely, to be colored by the people’s understanding of the liberty and freedom of the West as licentiousness and decadence of the sort that will be destructive to the very social order of Islamic nations and to the religious piety of future generations of Muslims of the world: in a world, one of the greatest dangers to the most foundational aspect of the people’s being.

    Why would any President want to go there, turning off some significant portion of the audience by his words when he can explain our foundational principles in language that avoids those hot-button fears in so many of his hearers but still communicates his message?

    Someone challenged me to challenge Muslims to speak in some way or another about honor killings, female genital mutilation, sequestration of women, slavery and other outrages. I’m not sure what the point was. Did the commenter suppose that because I was concerned about how to speak of freedom among people that might view the concept that they understood by the word freedom as something less than a virtue therefore I was somehow unconcerned about these or viewed them as anything other than heinous outrages? This is both a non sequitor and ridiculous.

    Craig R. Harmon (18222d)

  93. It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.

    Sunday morning TV growing up.

    Hey, if they get offended, fuck ’em up the butt with a swordfish, sideways.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)


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