Frank Visser, CLIMBING THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN: Reflections on Ken Wilber's “The Religion of Tomorrow”
INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
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Anthony Galli (email@example.com) has a degree in psychology, with experience in mental health and education. He currently works for a non-profit corporation. His personal website can be accessed at: http://tonygalli.tripod.com
My essay “The Myth of Islam as a Warrior Cult,” a response to Harris's essay “The Myth of Islam as a Religion of Peace” stirred further debate, which I anticipated. In light of Harris's next essay, the placement seemed untimely. The reason is that I had completed my essay before he further elaborated on “The Many Faces of Islam.” However, I did not get enough feedback before I felt ready to submit it, this being my first submission to www.integralword.net. Rather than just chucking it, I thought it appropriate to highlight areas that still needed to be addressed.
Not surprisingly, I got mixed reviews. One person praised me for my courage in standing up for Muslims against dehumanizing sentiments. Although I appreciate such comments, I do not think it would be fair to say that Harris was attacking Muslims per se. My understanding is that he has no problem with the average Muslim, but does have a problem with the religion they follow.
My essay has also been called apologetic, though I am not sure why. For example, the section on the Islamic incursions into India raised serious doubts. It seems my characterization of attacks on innocents as “unprovoked,” “patently immoral,” and “simple bigotry,” were overlooked. An apology would be either a justification or a lack of condemnation, neither of which is true. To Hindus from India, it might even seem insulting to their historical sense, as it would be to a Jew who encountered a Holocaust denial. I never denied that violence took place. What I doubt is that there was a specific campaign to wipe out Buddhism as such. If the facts prove me wrong, then I accept that. However, I do not think getting rid of “non-believers” was the major goal of Muslims because they could have easily wiped out others peoples in the region who fit that definition by their lack of belief and/or worship of a single creator god. What Muslims did do is gain political control, wealth, and territory. It was a very bloody affair. Some of these incidents were even recorded, proudly, arrogantly, by the Muslims themselves. This does not mean that it was not propagandized by others, however.
As an aside, this is not the first instance of propaganda concerning invaders into India. Although many in the anti-caste movement believe in the “Aryan invasion theory,” it should be kept in mind that it was also used by Europeans to justify colonization and world-domination. Since technologically superior, light-skinned people dominated dark-skinned Indians thousands of years ago and created an advanced civilization in the process, that signaled that it was a matter of destiny and the historical superiority of the white man. From the ruins of Harappa, Mohenjo-Dharo, and many other sites, there is evidence that the subcontinent's earliest inhabitants were in fact quite advanced. However, Aryans may have been involved with them from a much earlier time than was previously assumed.
The Palestinian cause is not always easy to support, even among the staunchest of left-wing activists.
Concerning the recently elected Hamas, this represents a major set-back for peace, to put it mildly. Hamas emerged from a climate of Islamic extremism, and if it fully had its way it would surely create an exclusionist, fundamentalist state worse than Israel. So what does this mean, if not that the Palestinians are fanatics who can't be reasoned with?
First, polls showed that most do not support all of Hamas' policies. So why did they vote for them? One reason they cite is their discipline. When they declare a cease-fire, whether it's on Israel, or even against their own Palestinian enemies, they stick to it. Second is the corruption and ineffectiveness of the Fatah administration. Many Palestinians feel that Hamas means what it says, and will truly bring about the freedom they desire. Still, I do agree that the Palestinians who voted for Hamas, aware that they launch operations of suicide bombers, even targeting children whose only crime was being born in a hotly contested land, are morally culpable.
Chomsky once said that invading armies do not have rights, only responsibilities. I agree with him. Israel, however, is not just an occupying power, but an established state. Israeli civilians, were born in Israel, have rights which Palestinians must honor. The people of East Timor could be said to have had to endure similar conditions as Palestinians, and yet their independence movement, as far as I know, has not regularly targeted Indonesian civilians.
Israel uses the excuse that they have no partners for peace in order to continue to refuse Palestinians statehood. There is some truth in this, in that they are in a bind when it comes to negotiation. While there are some decent Palestinian leaders and activists, there is no overall party, secular or religious, that is pacifistic. To this day, the PLO Charter still has includes armed resistance as essential to their freedom, no ifs ands or buts.
Still, Israel has the primary responsibility to make changes. They argue that doing so would enable terrorism and set a dangerous precedent in that it shows others that terrorism is a viable way to get demands. Of course, in the long-run terrorism is counter-productive; it is clarity of vision, rather than violence, that will win the day.
The problem is that there are many issues on which neither side is willing to budge. It is easy for us not involved in the situation to tell each side what to do, but much harder for those mired in this daily violence and occupation. What is really needed is an honest broker for peace. The US, the world's lone superpower, has its own agendas. It has been giving unconditional aid to the state of Israel since its founding. The UN, while it airs grievances and passes resolution after resolution, has no real teeth to enforce them.
As stated previously, the Palestinian right to return is a tricky issue because of the nature of the refugee population, which has swelled from about 700,000 to well over a million. Nonetheless, from the standpoint of international law, displaced populations have the right to return to their homeland after war has subsided. Thus, anyone born there who was forcibly kicked out should be able to go back (even if it was under pressure from Arab generals, who were, after all, trying to prevent their slaughter). The problem is the status of the next generation after the initial refugees, and it becomes an issue not unlike the reparations for slavery debate in the US. Interestingly, while some human rights organizations have stated that every Palestinian has a right to return, their representatives did not demand the full return of all Palestinian refugees at Camp David and the Taba negotiations.
One other area that should be looked at is Israeli foreign policy. It is as condemnable as that of the US in its support of human rights violating governments. Although Israel is the only true democracy in the region, at least towards Israeli Jews, I don't know if Israel truly lives up to the higher standard that, its defenders contend, it is unfairly held to. It is precisely because the US and its allies are easier on Israel which leads credence to otherwise irrational conspiracy theories and resentment of Jews. One obvious example would be that Israel is not challenged on its nuclear weapons.
If I am in error, morally or factually, than I can at least take comfort that not all of those who agree with me on this issue are degenerates. None other than Mahatma Gandhi shared similar views, and some even accused him of anti-Semitism.