tilting at windmills

It's like trying to explain to Minmei about Lisa and Rick. In the last blogoversy, Diana Moon said (in comments at Geoff's site, now unavailable) that the WMG issue raised "a real suspicion in my mind that the distinction between a moderate Muslim and a fundamentalist is one without a difference." This means, that she believes there are no moderate muslims, because all muslims seem to be equally willing to subscribe to ideas that she considers blatantly false. The rigor of her characterization is irrelevant, she is entitled to hold any opinion about Muslims in general that she wants. If she want sto assert that I've abandoned a "niche" as a moderate muslim, that's not my concern, because I don't blog to fill a niche. And I have plenty of posts on UNMEDIA that can, taken selectively, be interpreted as either pro-Semitic or anti-Semitic if you're inclined to lump people into these labels. I've even got a post that triggered "you are anti-muslim" death threats. The point is that if your data sample is a single post on some guy's blog, from which you extrapolate a global worldview about the adherents of an entire religion, then there are going to be certain flaws in your analysis.

However, the more important point was made by Tacitus, addressing the substance of Diana's basic assertion that words aimed at Jews create an atmosphere that facilitates anti-Semitism, even if the actual words are not anti-Semitic themselves[1]. Tacitus writes:

She speaks for many (see LGF), and the absurdity of their mindset appears to escape them: they cry anti-Semitism because they see a dialectic being set up (however they must strain to see it) wherein Jews must be exterminated; yet they already mentally subscribe to a dialectic wherein Muslims must be exterminated.

Diana mischaracterizes this as, "It appears that I subscribe to a dialectic wherein Muslims must be exterminated." And then proceeds to explain at great length that she does not believe that Muslims must be exterminated. Well, duh. The point of Tacitus' comment is that her words, aimed at Muslims, create an atmosphere (see LGF) that facilitates anti-muslimism. Even if the words themselves are not anti-muslim themselves. Sauce for the goose and gander, etc. Diana (and Bryan's) unwillingness to see Tacitus' larger point is perhaps irreconcilable.

I believe the reason that Diana (for whom I have unrequited respect) continues to be blind to this parallel, and remains committed to battling the dialectic in one direction and promoting it in the other, is not because she is Jewish2, but because she is an Israeli partisan, and thus sees all Muslims through lens of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which she equates to "The Jewish-Muslim Conflict". I don't subscribe to that equivalence, but of course there are many Palestinian-partisans who are ready and willing to meet her on that ideological field of battle. Still, the fact that I don't and won't make that distinction means that as far as my attitude towards Jews is concerned, I really am a moderate, and its Diana who's the fundamentalist.

Another aspect of Diana's screed that puzzled me is this assertion3:

Aziz has created a niche in the blogosphere as a moderate and reasonable Muslim. But more than that, he's not a Muslim who just happens to blog. He blogs as a Muslim. From the little that I have read of his blog, it appears that most everything he writes about is specifically from an Islamic perspective.

This is a subsconcious attempt by Diana to rationalize the dialectic that Tacitus identifies above. It's easier to see my opinions as representing an "Islamic perspective", because she can then put the source of our disagreements on issues as a matter of doctrine. It gives her a more clearly defined Other to define herself against.

However, my blog is a reflection of my entire personality. Do Movie Night posts have anything to do with Islam? How about my critiques of Bush? Or how Apple sucks? Or my ode to the Old Man? Or my fervent hope for a pressure-washing system?

Obviously, what she really refers to when she says "most everything he writes about" is "when he writes about Israel" (and thus by extension in her own mind but not mine, the Jewish People.) But if you look honestly at every single post I have ever written about Israel, you will see that religion and Islam play absolutely zero role in my analysis. This is because criticism of Israel is a political and social act, not a religious one, unless you've already subscribed to Biblical prophecy and dream of Eretz Israel. Speaking as a Muslim, from an Islamic perspective, about Israel means that I would have nothing to say. Apart from the broad moral lessons that are shared by all religions - such as "without justice, there can be no peace."

UPDATE: Miranda has the last word.

[1] Diana made this point in many places, but I chose to link to her guest post on Junk Yard Blog because that's where she made the case most fully. Keep in mind that in the chronology of posts, her post on Bryan's site actually post-dates Tacitus' comment.

[2] I am always uncomfortable writing "jewish", I'd prefer to say "is a Jew" because its more accurate. But muslim wackos have so tainted the phrase "is a Jew" that I just shy away from it whenevr possible (example: I argue that hey, Israel is a nice place. response: "Vot! arrre yuu a Jew?!". me: sigh.) But the problem with "jewish" is nicely illustrated by the old joke (someone help me source it):

Rabbi: Why don't you come to the synagouge more often? It's your responsibility as a Jew!
Man: well, Rabbi, I'm not really a Jew, I'm Jew-ish.

Perhaps he meant, "I am a Heeb." ? BTW, that's a fascinating and really engaging discussion over at Jonathan's site that I really recomend reading. The sequel is here.

3note that the issue of whether Diana's reaction was contingent on my being muslim, or not, is irrelevant to me. Reaction to what I write is because I wrote it, and part of that I is indeed being muslim. I'm just refuting the assertion that I "nblog from teh perspective of Islam" because this is dangerously close to assuming that all my opinions stem from Islam alone.

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