Across the Bay

Friday, September 24, 2004

Matters of Reason

Here are a few excellent items from some of the fine minds over at Reason:

Charles Paul Freund turns our attention to a couple of pieces translated by MEMRI. One (original Arabic) is on Jihadism and Islamic reform by a Syrian professor, Mundhir Bader Halloum, the other (original Arabic), by Shaker Nabulsi, is also on Jihadism and the state of the Arabs today.

Sticking with the theme of "reason," both decry the lack of rationalism in modern Islam and the Arab world. Halloum wrote: "what is being passed on as heritage is the latest version of Islam ... a doctrine which embraces fatwas that ostracize reason, and allow murder, and cancel time." Halloum calls for Islam to be brought to the domain of history and reason through a movement of reform.

Nabulsi followed suit, proclaiming: "we have become a mindless nation." Nabulsi also blamed this retreat from reason on the domination of "dark religious education, which instigates a fight against modernity and democracy and neo-liberalism." He goes on further with his indictment, stating that "any verse, prophetic hadith, wisdom saying, poetic verse, or intellectual voice calling for thinking and applying reason has been erased from the memory of Arabs." Instead, Arabs have surrendered to irrational and destructive romanticism. I.e., the kind of bull that Patrick Seale and other Third-Worldist idiots think is authentic and anti-colonialist.

A propos Third-Worldist and Leftist romanticism, Nick Gillespie noted Paul Berman's review of the new Che Guevara movie. I have featured Berman on this site before, and his critique of the Left, and its flirting with totalitarianism, is always worth reading. Berman minced no words:

"Che was an enemy of freedom, and yet he has been erected into a symbol of freedom. He helped establish an unjust social system in Cuba and has been erected into a symbol of social justice. He stood for the ancient rigidities of Latin-American thought, in a Marxist-Leninist version, and he has been celebrated as a free-thinker and a rebel."

Readers are also reminded of Christopher Hitchens' scathing criticism of The Nation's Naomi Klein who evoked the same repugnant romanticism in reference to thug-cleric wannabe Muqtada al-Sadr (cf. Juan Cole's Hallmark moment below in "Cole Me Advocate"). Nabulsi's piece by the way, appeared on a Leftist website! That should give Western Leftists something to think about! The website had other interesting pieces like this one here (Arabic).

Finally, my favorite, Michael Young slaps around the Bambi of Socialists, who, in the priceless words of Jacques Chirac, never misses an opportunity to shut up. Young has no time for romanticism, smugness, or demagoguery:

"A policy that is exclusively against something is no policy at all. If that's the best that a Europe as good as new can offer, then it's no surprise that one of its leading lights can get away with a nickname like Bambi."

If only the Arabs and their enablers embraced reason.

Update: Reason's Jesse Walker joins in on the criticism of Leftist romanticism, with a post on Foucault and Islamism. Edward Said had the same problem (see post "FreundLee Reminder" below and the link to Hitchens' review) and it was recognized way back in 1980, right after Said's Orientalism came out, by the late Malcom Kerr in his excellent review of the book.

Also, for another critique of Naomi Klein's Nation piece, see this one by Marc Cooper.