Lawrence Auster is making a lot of noise over at his site. He decided to change the discourse and make this whole thing personal. This is not good for the discussion. As the first rule of war propaganda is: if you want to motivate an attack on someone, you need to depict it as if the other party had attacked you first. So Auster creates an army of strawmen, portray himself as a victim, and then uses this as a pretext for changing from intellectual discourse to an emotional quarrel. However, I'm not interested in playing these games. Instead, the intellectual exploration must go on.
The second post by Auster adds to the discussion, so I will focus on that. All while ignoring the initial, ridiculous, claim that I'm being openly hostile to him. Auster just needs to calm down and stay within the frames of intellectual discourse.
Another minor comment before going to the main issue: Auster persists in saying that I describe Islam as some sort of sexual system; this time just with a new term: "a self-complete sexual organization of life". While the post he refers to puts the focus on the sexual side of Islam, it does in no way reduce Islam to merely a sexual system of any kind. I have repeatedly made that clear, but so far Auster has chosen to ignore it.
In his post, Auster writes two things that are enlightening:
- [CS's] portrait was in such lurid colors that Islam ceased to be a religion at all and became nothing but a horrible sex and power cult.
- My position is that Islam is indeed a religion devoted to a transcendent God...
As Popper stated, people do not just observe the facts of the world as they are. We see all things through a theory, which organizes the impressions in our mind. The theory provides assumptions and a perspective, that decides which facts that are of importance, and which are not; and it also serves as a filter. This is how the human mind is organized, and these theories are tenacious and do not change easily.
Auster's assumption about Islam is that it is a religion, as opposed to a horrible cult. The idea is internalized in Auster in such a way, that Islam must not be a horrible cult. Facts and descriptions suggesting that Islam is indeed a horrible cult do not fit his theory, and are discarded merely on this basis.
The second statement of Auster explains what he means by a religion here: that its adherents are "devoted to a transcendent God". For me--knowing all that I know, after years of study--it is easy to see that Islam is nothing but a horrible cult. It is clear to me that it is all made up by Muhammad. But Auster's idea that Muslims are "devoted to a transcendent God" suggests that to him there is more to Islam, than a cult made up by Muhammad.
Auster sees the existence of a transcendent God as an objective truth. In this world view it is of course possible for anyone, one way or the other, to come in contact with this transcendent God. It's also a world in which people will sense the presence of the transcendent God and be in search of him; even if they do not find him, or the true path to him. Auster's proposition "that Islam is indeed a religion devoted to a transcendent God" thus seems to suggest that Muslims, in spite of all their miscomprehensions, are in one way or the other in contact with this transcendent God or at least genuinely in search for him. Something that should render Islam some amount of elementary respect, according to Auster. This perspective does not allow for seeing Islam as the cult it is, instead Islam is provided with a respectable position as one of the world religions.
We see again the problem of believing in Christianity, in how it calls for elementary respect for other religions as religions, and especially monotheistic Abrahmic religions (read: Islam). It is not clear, at this point, if Auster likewise consider polytheistic Hindus being "devoted to a transcendent God"; or Buddhists or Confucisianists? And what about the Children of God?
Anyway, unlike the majority of Christians, Auster handles the big picture eminently. He very clearly sees Islam as the threat to the West that it truly is. And for any practical purpose, in a foreseeable future, Auster has the right program for defending the West against Islam, when he calls for Separationism. But nevertheless it is always important to see things as they really are. Auster fears that if Islam is seen as he cult that it truly is, that, as a consequence, it must lead to a position urging the physical destruction of Islam (a thought that makes him bring up associations to neocon web commenters calling for killing all Muslims). Therefore he holds on to the position that there must be some basic value in Islam, and that it should be shown some basic respect. My position here, is that we should first look with clear eyes at what Islam really is, without mixing it up with the issue of how it should then be dealt with--which at this stage will obviously only hamper the view.
I think that our different characterizations of Islam here, that have crystallized by now, explains for some of the differences in perspective me and Auster have had on different issues before. I will have reason to come back to this.
I'm impressed by the ideas of Auster, and the work he has achieved is of utmost importance, and has been an important inspiration to me. But there is still the need to go deeper into the issues than Auster chooses to do, both regarding the defects of Islam and the flaws of the West.