It's now more than a week after the pope made his
speech. Yesterday I listened to an interview
with Clinton (former American president, in case anyone has forgotten).
His view on the pope's remarks and the Danish cartoon: they make it more
difficult for Muslims moderates. I also read a great article on Muslim
rage - Jill Fallon's My Personal
Day of Rage.
I thought about Clinton's evaluation (he's not someone
I dismiss casually). And my thinking brought me to remembering what I'd
heard about the impact of the Danish cartoon on Danish Muslims. According
to that report, the discussions sparked by the cartoon moved the Muslim
community forward by at least three centuries - because before that,
the Muslim views were not challenged and until that happened, they could
not be changed.
So have the Danish cartoon and the pope's remarks
- and maybe even Fallon's article - hurt or helped Muslim moderates?
First, the cartoon and the remarks are not one and
The Danish cartoon (to these nonMuslim eyes anyway)
is a small mild portrayal of a grizzly truth - the use of the Muslim
prophet as justification for bombings and other violence against innocent
civilians, including Muslims. The pope's remarks are more blunt and directly
confrontational: violence done in the name of religion is against the
nature of god. He was called a Rottweiler long before he made these
remarks. His remarks - deliberately forceful, provocative - did bring
to mind the image of a Rottweiler. Big teeth. A strong bite. One often
has to be careful around Rottweilers.
That brings me to a question. Why did the Danish cartoon spark greater
Well, a cartoonist is a more vulnerable target, doesn't
have the authority of a huge organized religion behind him. Also, the
cartoon came first. Plus, there is the question of whether anyone can
make an image of the prophet. Masses of Muslims acted in outrage that
anyone dared to make such an image - and totally ignored the message
of the cartoon. (The offended chose to ignore that there are numerous
other images of their prophet, against which they have not protested,
and that the violence done in the name of the prophet creates a very
vivid image in people's minds.)
But I still haven't answered my own question. Have
the cartoon and the pope's remarks hurt or helped Muslim moderates.
My guess is they've helped. Someone had to do this
work. The Danish cartoonist and the pope have drawn a lot of fire and
anger away from Muslim moderates. More of them may actually have gotten
more courage to speak out. Plus moderates may have moved further in their
thinking in response to the cartoon, the pope's remarks, and all the
discussion this has generated. In fact, another guess I have is that
there are more Muslim moderates than before. (That remains to be seen.)
So far I have no evidence - but I do know that Christians have become
increasingly moderate over time, as the Christian fundamentalists have
been challenged over and over.
Of course irate fundamentalists (Christian and Muslim)
may be ever more allergic to the moderates. But at least in Canada, the
very conservative Christians are much more moderate than a generation
ago. A similar shift may take a couple of decades in the Muslim world,
but that's what I see happening.
In the short run, what would I see?
"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned"
- so said Shakespeare, or perhaps it was some other famous British writer.
I think the comment popped into my mind becuse people who are losing
may get ever more angry. It doesn't mean they will win, or that they
should win. A spurned woman doesn't increase
her chances of winning back her beloved if she rages. On the contrary.
And eventually a lot of spurned people learn.
I'm back to a central point. The more that people around the world do
to break the shell of Muslim self-righteousness, the better.
So for now at least, based on my own assessment and knowledge, I will
disagree with Clinton.
September 25, 2006
copyright © Elsa Schieder 2006, 2009 - all rights reserved
here for Give Peace a Chance,
another idea piece.
a "favorite" stupid opinion, click here for Stupid Opinion
Elsa's creativity blog, on the writing of these ideas and much
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Clinton: The pope has hurt Muslim
Elsa: He is helping break the shell of Muslim self-righteousness.
The Idea Emporium: facts, ideas, analysis, conclusions.
Emporium - why and what
One of my lifelong concerns has
been trying to make sense of reality. What is happening? Why is this
happening? And with that I come to ideas - ideas about reality, ideas
that need to be checked against reality, not just believed in like the
tooth fairy is accepted by a child. But how does one check them? What
qualifies as proof, as evidence?
And why, so often, is evidence
of no interest to people? We have masses of evidence of how good many
people are at denying evidence when it goes against what they believe.
Millions have denied, and continue to deny the equality of women and
men, of Jews and nonJews, of atheists and Muslims, gays and heterosexuals.
People are incredible experts at denying reality - what is seen, experienced.
Of course we need to interpret reality - we do not know it "pure"
but through our limited senses, our limited memory, our limited ability
to perceive and make sense of the amazing array of information that does
Still, it boggles the even slightly
rational mind - how can so many people be so utterly blind to, let's
say, findings about nutrition? It amazed me to find out, when I was growing
up, that there was evidence for the health benefits of whole grains over
refined products - because masses of people stuck with white flour, white
rice, white sugar. How could they be so closed to evidence? Somehow they
had a wall against the evidence.
The ideas I want to explore are
those that go with, not against, the evidence, that try to make sense
So, the Idea Emporium - a place
The Idea Emporium - a place where ideas are explored.
The Idea Emporium - a place where ideas are entertained , played with,
looked at from many angles.
The Idea Emporium, a place where ideas are evaluated.
What is an idea, by the way. I
hadn't thought of that when I chose the name of The Idea Emporium. It
just seemed the obviously right name. It was months before I realized
I had a hard time putting into words what I meant by idea. I began to
think about the word. Sentences with the word, idea, floated into my
mind. Like, "I have an idea. Why don't we order pizza?" That
was an eye-opener for me.
My guess is that most of us use
the word without knowing exactly what it means. "I have an idea
of what we might do. Maybe we could go out for Chinese food. But It's
just an idea" - meaning this need not come to pass, but we think
it might be fun. That is obviously not what I meant by idea.
"I have an idea. Maybe you left your hat in the car." Again,
""My idea is that we go in together and talk to her." No.
These are all legitimate uses of the term, idea, but it's not what I
meant when I came to name The Idea Emporium. And I'm sure it's not what
people might expect if they click on The Idea Emporium - because it's
not what most people mean by the word "idea."
Word has a built-in dictionary. This is what it says:
a personal opinion or belief;
a thought to be presented as a suggestion;
an impression or knowledge of something;
a realization of a possible way of doing something or of something to
the aim or purpose of a plan or project;
the gist or précis of something such as a book, report, project
a thought about or mental picture of something such as a future or possible
a concept that exists in the mind only;
a mental image that reflects reality.
The last is what I'm most interested in - ideas that reflect reality
as well as possible. But I've decided that I like it that idea is such
a wide term.
Here I am taking idea to mean (and
I think this is what most of us think of when we think of the meaning
of the word, idea) some thought one has about something. "I have
an idea" - meaning, I am not sure this concept fits reality, but
it is a hypothesis I have formed.
I also think that, when I named
The Idea Emporium, I was blurring words together in my mind - idea, concept,
conception, understanding, hypothesis.
The Idea Emporium - a place for
all these things.
This is not the same as people
having "an idee fixe" - meaning, a fixed idea, a rigid belief
that something is one way or another.
The sooner people get rid of such ideas, the better. The Idea Emporium
is not a place to set out rock-hard beliefs and stone people with them,
hurling them like missiles at all and any that come within striking range.
That is not The Idea Emporium.
The Idea Emporium - a place to
present and explore ideas - for now my ideas.
That does not mean the idea need
to be timidly set forth, all hemming and hawing, tentative even when
the evidence is strong.
The Idea Emporium – the goal
is smart opinions, critical thought, perception, good analysis.
The Idea Emporium. Smart opinions
- meaning, drawing on every resource possible, rather than "it's
my opinion, that's why I believe it, and it's as good as yours any day.
Who are you to say blacks can do math, women can learn to read, Jews
deserve to live. I have every right to my opinion." Personally,
I'd rather do my best to think well, but many others are clearly proud
of their avowed right to be thoughtless.
That's not The Idea Emporium.
The Idea Emporium. Critical thought
- that means we do our best to think well, to apply logic, information,
all our capacities.
The Idea Emporium. Good analysis.
Again, that means we try to ensure that we use valid arguments - not, "because
it's my opinion," "because I say so"
"because I know that's right" "because my god says so" "because
everyone knows that's right" . We both draw conclusions from evidence
(so there may be evidence showing patterns and tendencies in certain
groups (for instance, I've done lots of research on the impact of rights
movements on those who get involved, and have found lots of evidence
for patterns of response) - and at the same time we are careful not to
generalize, to draw conclusions beyond what we have evidence for, and
even contradicting the evidence ("Women are ..." "Muslims
believe ..." "everyone this happens to ..." "Jews
"Gays are ..."
The Idea Emporium. Perception.
Not easy to perceive. We each do it through a filter of experience, memory,
assumptions, and so on. We have all learned not to perceive many things
- denial - and to magnify other things. The goal at The Idea Emporium
(and this should be the goal everywhere) is to be as perceptive - taking
in as much information - as possible.
The Idea Emporium. i could go on
and on. But this is enough for a start. More important now to put it
into action - because it's ideas came first, surging inside me, wanting
to find a place to be heard.
I'm (among other things) a college
teacher, so my teaching gives me one outlet for my ideas, to express
them, modify them, listen to other ideas, test the evidence, the power
(or lack thereof) of different arguments.
But that hasn't been enough for
me. One small class at a time.
I have a sense that I have some
ideas that could be valuable to many people - ideas many people don't
have (many have very different ideas), ideas where my ideas may help
other people struggling with some of the same concerns, and so on. I
think these ideas could help make some kind of positive difference in
the world, reach people who are reachable, maybe even break through some
shells many people live inside, shells that stop them from perceiving
There will be space for the ideas
of others as well. Right now I am starting with a few ideas of mine.
But I envisage that The Idea Emporium is a place that will grow, enriching
both others and also myself - that I and my ideas will grow from some
of what comes back.
July 30, 2006
copyright © Elsa Schieder 2006, 2011
publishing house - FlufferDuff Impressions 2006, 2011
Questions - on
rage, hatred, narcissism, empathy, caring, peace.
Good thinking and analysis. Logic plus emotion.
The Idea Emporium - facts, ideas, conclusions.
Plus stupid opinions exposed.
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