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  1. #211
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radone View Post
    It seems a bit absurd that we have to somehow 'prove' ourselves to be not evil?
    I said "not entirely evil" for a reason

    And you're right -- it's a huge, huge challenge. I haven't yet seen any plausible solutions to the economic problem. And that's a much bigger issue than the average westerner realizes. How do you explain to someone that people of Islamic faith in general fundamentally object to our money because it symbolizes debt, rather than wealth?

    How many people even understand what that statement really means?

    To us, it just seems normal. And that may be the most frightening part of all. Did you know that the most popular vehicle type in the US right now, despite the economic slowdown and the temporary drop in oil prices, is once again the Suburban Ussault Vehicle? The Escalade and H2 and Tahoe and Suburban... making a come back because the government dumped DEBT into the financial system that is in DEBT to give people for extra DEBT to stimulate the economy....

    Does that make sense to anyone?

    I suspect the path to winning the hearts and minds of those who oppose us starts by first acknowledging the problem, then asking them for help. Yes, help.

    We're in the middle of a huge economic crisis. We might think of asking them for some advice on how to remodel our financial system so that we can get out of debt, and hopefully prevent even the need for debt. Several of these nations are beyond wealthy. They must be doing something we could learn from. Imagine a free market that doesn't rely on credit...

    Better economic minds than I might be able to sort this out. But it's going to be a huge, huge issue that will only lead to continuing problems unless we either try to find a way to get away from our dependence on debt (which I think we can all agree is basically a bad thing), or find a way to live and let live (which I suspect may be a pipe dream).

  2. #212
    Would be writer? Sure. Davis Ashura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo View Post
    I said "not entirely evil" for a reason
    Fung! You semanticite!(I've already copy-written that word, so any mugs, t-shirts, etc from the cult you'll start will owe me a bit of change). You didn't answer the other part of my question: do they need to prove they're not evil. If not, you're essentially acceding to them the moral high ground.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo
    To us, it just seems normal. And that may be the most frightening part of all. Did you know that the most popular vehicle type in the US right now, despite the economic slowdown and the temporary drop in oil prices, is once again the Suburban Ussault Vehicle? The Escalade and H2 and Tahoe and Suburban... making a come back because the government dumped DEBT into the financial system that is in DEBT to give people for extra DEBT to stimulate the economy....
    Ask my President or the Dems. I'm too busy hiding under my desk about this whole mess.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo
    We're in the middle of a huge economic crisis. We might think of asking them for some advice on how to remodel our financial system so that we can get out of debt, and hopefully prevent even the need for debt. Several of these nations are beyond wealthy. They must be doing something we could learn from. Imagine a free market that doesn't rely on credit...
    Well, it does help to have a couple billion barrels of oil per citizen...Also, it helps if you can be hypocritical about our market system. Many of those wealthy nations invest their money in our financial institutions, which, of course, charge a percentage to manage said billions; sell short; lend; etc. In other words, all the things we do, they do, but they ask us to do for them so they don't have to get their hands dirty. It's why the net worth of their accounts is said to have dropped by 2.5 trillion (not a typo) as a result of the global financial meltdown and oil prices dropping.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo
    Better economic minds than I might be able to sort this out.
    It was those "better economic minds" and our corrupt Congresscritters that led us into this mess. That and our (American people) reckless unwillingness to face hard choices.

  3. #213
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radone View Post
    At what point can we say, "You know what. It's your country and if it's screwed up, blame yourselves."
    That would be fair if, like Japan, we were allowing them a high degree of autonomy. However, we have not left them to their own devices and continue to play an active role in their affairs. If we had a degree of objective distance from the situation, then by all means. But we're playing an on-going role in the situation. We aren't just observers -- we're participants. So I'm not sure we can say that yet without looking like total prats.

    One analogue, to me, is Aboriginal rights in the Americas (and other colonies).

    Australia and Canada have now issued formal apologies to our First Nations people for the actions of our past governments that have had lasting negative effects on their rights and place in society. This has been done following an almost 20 year uneasy truce between us and our Abo's. The overall reaction in both countries was generally favourable. The hope is that following the apology -- just a simple recognition that wrong was done -- we can begin to move into an era of mutual self-responsibility and autonomy for both groups. We will help them become independent, but on their own terms, with respect to their own culture.

    I think something similar is the honourable course of action here with respect to the Middle East.

    For the RAD's of the group: No, this doesn't mean we stop protecting ourselves. It doesn't mean that we admit they are right and we are wrong. It just means that we acknowledge that we aren't helping the situation anymore, and that our goal all along has been a good one -- to help them be able to have a stable, peaceful place to live, where they can decide their futures for themselves. That's all we've ever wanted (and maybe some of their oil, too), and it's all they've ever wanted (and to sell us some of their oil, too).

  4. #214
    Would be writer? Sure. Davis Ashura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo View Post
    That would be fair if, like Japan, we were allowing them a high degree of autonomy. However, we have not left them to their own devices and continue to play an active role in their affairs. If we had a degree of objective distance from the situation, then by all means. But we're playing an on-going role in the situation. We aren't just observers -- we're participants. So I'm not sure we can say that yet without looking like total prats.
    First of all: slow the hell down, Fung! Can't keep up with all these posts. I started out the day, sure that I'd bury you in more posts than you could easily answer. Grrr!
    Now then. Japan was completely run by the U.S. for the first seven years after WW2. For decades were very much under our security, economic, and political umbrella. You're right, though, the hard choices and successes were all theirs. Which is how it should be.
    Is it your belief that were it not for western largesse, many of the tinpot tyrants of the Middle East would not have been in power? Who or what would have taken their place, I wonder, if at partition, we just let them have at it? I imagine their would still be tinpot dictators, but rather than chosen by us, they would have been selected by a different evolutionary mechanism. They'd probably still be just as brutal, but I suppose it would let the West off the hook for having chosen any of them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Radone View Post
    Fung! You semanticite!
    Are you an anti-semanticite?

    You didn't answer the other part of my question: do they need to prove they're not evil.
    Yes, they do need prove that they, too, are not entirely evil.

    However, I don't think we can reasonably ask them to apologize right away. This is a battle being fought on their soil, not ours, and they will need a lot of time to repair the damage and gain the critical distance necessary to recognize their fault in the overall situation. I think we need to offer our apology for our part in the continuing instability, and offer what remonstration we can. But I don't think we can act sore if that apology doesn't come quickly.

    By offering to play mentor, and asking for help, I think we'll succeed in making ourselves seem human and compassionate. And then, I would hope that an apology would come forth willingly.

    A coerced apology will always be suspect.

    Well, it does help to have a couple billion barrels of oil per citizen...Also, it helps if you can be hypocritical about our market system.
    All too true.

    I think we could rely on our apology and withdrawal from the situation to have an added bonus effect -- by taking ourselves out of the situation, the existing systemic corruption that relies on our actions in the Middle East to cloud such issues (and, indeed, extort our presence there to further the anti-Western sentiment) will suddenly be gone. Corruption will expose itself as the people, struggling to define themselves, uncover the faults and hypocrisy that surrounds them. Or, the existing leaders -- suddenly without a scapegoat -- will find the hoards unfriendly to their half-assed approach to the high road...

    Us leaving the Middle East would shake up business as usual there more than anything else we could ever do, IMO. We've been there for 2000 years. Imagine the fallout of our departure!

    It was those "better economic minds" and our corrupt Congresscritters that led us into this mess. That and our (American people) reckless unwillingness to face hard choices.
    True enough. Hopefully this new kid, with his Muslim heritage and ties to Africa, can start walking the right path. It isn't just America with high hopes for Obama. We're all hoping that he'll take the lead and finally do the right thing for all of us.

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    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radone View Post
    First of all: slow the hell down, Fung!


    Now then. Japan was completely run by the U.S. for the first seven years after WW2. For decades were very much under our security, economic, and political umbrella. You're right, though, the hard choices and successes were all theirs. Which is how it should be.
    My thoughts precisely. We need to help, but the bottom line has to lay with them. Then they only have themselves to blame for their failures, and only themselves to congratulate on their successes.

    Is it your belief that were it not for western largesse, many of the tinpot tyrants of the Middle East would not have been in power? Who or what would have taken their place, I wonder, if at partition, we just let them have at it? I imagine their would still be tinpot dictators, but rather than chosen by us, they would have been selected by a different evolutionary mechanism. They'd probably still be just as brutal, but I suppose it would let the West off the hook for having chosen any of them.
    Perhaps, perhaps not. It's too difficult to say. We've been in there like a dirty shirt for 2000 years. Who knows what they'd do without us? But I'd like to find out, personally. No doubt there would be a long period of adjustment. But I believe their underlying humanity and need to get on with life would eventually outweigh the would-be despots and tyrants. Eventually, all progressive nations figure out how to get to some version of democracy.

    And if we leave them alone, maybe we can continue in our own evolutionary paths into post-democratic existence.

    But there I go with the pipe dreams again...

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    Would be writer? Sure. Davis Ashura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo View Post
    Perhaps, perhaps not. It's too difficult to say. We've been in there like a dirty shirt for 2000 years. Who knows what they'd do without us? But I'd like to find out, personally. No doubt there would be a long period of adjustment. But I believe their underlying humanity and need to get on with life would eventually outweigh the would-be despots and tyrants. Eventually, all progressive nations figure out how to get to some version of democracy.
    I think they were in charge of their own destinies for centuries. It was after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Byzantium was around, but for the most part, the areas around Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia were free of outside interference. Then Mohammed came and afterwards, through war and conquest, the Caliphate was established. The Crusades came along, but European influence was snuffed out two hundred years later, and once more, it was Arab-Muslims on their own. The Ottoman Turks conquered Byzantium, so Muslim hegemony extended everywhere in the Middle East. So, we see what things are like without outside interference. It looked remarkably like the rest of the world at the time-kinda violent and sucky.

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    Indeed!

    If it was much like we were then, is it too much to hope for them to become something like us now?

    Well, if my pipe dream is ever realized, it will be interesting to see what comes out. Something decidedly Iranian in the end, I'm guessing. And I know Iran is taken as a dirty word these days, what with their DEATH TO AMERICA! rhetoric, but I don't think the average Iranian speaks with anywhere near as much vitriol about the USA as their public leadership does. An apology and withdrawal, too, would go a long way with the Iranians.

    Still, I don't think we need to be afraid of them as a dangerous consequence. Iran we can deal with as an independent sovereign nation. I think a condition of our apology and withdrawal would have to be a statement of solidarity from Iran (at the minimum, with the Saudi's and Pakistani's too) that they, too, would pledge non-interference (and hopefully apologize, but who knows) for a good 20 or so years. We could operate joint humanitarian and refugee centres. promote some more mutual understanding between us. And then we have recourse that if we see interference we can take action against those agents. Them likewise.

    But ach... now we're definitely in dream land...

  9. #219
    Would be writer? Sure. Davis Ashura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo View Post
    Indeed!

    If it was much like we were then, is it too much to hope for them to become something like us now?
    I think it is too much to hope for. First, Europe had some special mix that allowed those wonderful strains of Humanism to grow (I'm using humanism as a shorthand for rationalism, equality, the scientific method, representative democracy, individualism, human rights, etc). No other area of the world produced it natively, and it seems to have spread throughout the world slowly. It makes me believe that what we cherish, few other cultures do. That may because Humanism made part of a culture might be toxic to large parts of that very culture.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo
    Well, if my pipe dream is ever realized, it will be interesting to see what comes out. Something decidedly Iranian in the end, I'm guessing. And I know Iran is taken as a dirty word these days, what with their DEATH TO AMERICA! rhetoric, but I don't think the average Iranian speaks with anywhere near as much vitriol about the USA as their public leadership does. An apology and withdrawal, too, would go a long way with the Iranians.
    Every Iranian I've ever met, and I've met dozens, have universally spoken with utter contempt for all things Arab except Islam and Mohammed. I saw several almost come to blows with an English guy that called them Arab. They NEVER refer to themselves as Iranian but Persian. They are rightly proud of their heritage. Having an Iran free of the Ayatollahs would be wonderful. I don't think we should apologize to them at all. They took whatever apology we may have offered when they held our embassy staff hostage. Beyond their current leadership, the polls (few and unreliable that they are) indicate that the Iranians have very warm feelings toward us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Radone View Post
    That may because Humanism made part of a culture might be toxic to large parts of that very culture
    Interesting. In your estimation, what is/are the aspect/s of Western Humanism that is/are likeliest to become toxic in non-Western cultures?

    They NEVER refer to themselves as Iranian but Persian.
    Heheh This one is politically charged. If you left Iran around the revolution in late 70s/early 80s, you might proudly call yourself Persian, but you might not call the other Iranians Persian. And vice versa. "True" Persians, and all that

  11. #221
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Gay rights/gay marriage. Women's rights.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Wassner View Post
    Gay rights/gay marriage. Women's rights.
    Even before secularization?

  13. #223
    To Fung Koo:

    I said you were proving his point because you hadn't made a very good attempt at answering Harris' question. You did a better job of it this time.

    Kids that age are nuts? Sure. And it would've been better for all concerned if they'd applied their nuttiness at the Peace Corps. And with the advent of communications technology, various terrorist groups can work hand-in-hand.

    And a 'clean way of life' shouldn't include demanding and getting sharia law alternatives in Europe's courts, or the pervasive abuse that goes on within immigrant enclaves where multiculturalism allows religous tyrants to keep their people separate from the surrounding society. It shouldn't include Westerners being so afraid of violence that they don't dare criticize or even mention Islam.

    And yep, my little 'force only used against force' daydream is just that. A daydream. I realize it's convoluted. And I also realize it could never be applied in the real world because eventually someone would have to be trusted to wield and apply said force.

    It's nice to imagine robots from The Day the Earth Stood Still (the original, not that awful remake) swooping down to zap the folks who are about to stone people accused of adultery, but even that wouldn't work. When I first saw the movie and heard Klatu's explanation of the robot's purpose, I imagined three ways to get around that system. So disregard.

  14. #224
    And to reiterate: cultures don't have rights. The idea that an individual should exist for the purpose of spreading or perpetuating a culture is - for me - disgusting. And as ridiculous as the notion that cultures shouldn't grow or change.

    If by 'toxic' you mean that folks wouldn't want to live by said culture, then they shouldn't have to and the culture warriors should be grateful at keeping only the really dedicated. Nor should they be afraid to answer the challenges of moderates who call for reform.

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    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAD View Post
    And a 'clean way of life' shouldn't include demanding and getting sharia law alternatives in Europe's courts
    I assume from previous comments you've made that you would then support removing both the Christian and Judaic extra-judicial courts as well. In Ontario, it was decided that Sharia would not be allowed to operate as an independent extra-judicial system, and a Muslim school board was likewise rejected. Of course the problem is that we have Christian and Judaic extra-judicial systems, and we have a Catholic school board (we used to have a Protestant school board, too, but it was changed to the standard Public School Board by changing the "Protestant" tag -- from which the question follows: Is our "secularity" really just Protestanism masked as a non-religious enterprise?). It was stated that any religion-based school system should not get public funding when the decision to reject Sharia and an Islamic school bard was made. But this has yet to change.

    And this introduces all kinds of interesting democratic conundrums. The USA and Canada both now have operating "black focused" curriculum schools. We also have a variety of semi-religious and culture-specific organizations, many of which have been in operation for a long, long time, with a long history of public funding. These organizations exist to answer many needs -- how do we decide if those needs are valid? How do we imbue someone with the right to even make that decision?

    In your estimation, in a multicultural democratic model, should any and all special interest groups have access to public funding, or should none? And how do you rectify refusing people access to funding with the notion of universal individual rights?

    or the pervasive abuse that goes on within immigrant enclaves where multiculturalism allows religous tyrants to keep their people separate from the surrounding society.
    Further to the above, this introduces still further conundrums. Are we going to dictate where people can and cannot live? Is there a limit to how many similar types of people can live side by side? Or what church they can go to? What rallies they can attend? Or who can lead them?

    You've stated that you support enforcement of the UDHR -- one of its tenets is the freedom of mobility. How do you rectify the obvious denials of the right of mobility, the right to free speech and expression of beliefs (whether religious, political, or otherwise), the right to congregate, worship, etc, etc, that comes with the notion of limiting the existence of immigrant enclaves?

    Remember that the vast majority of the populations of your country and mine are entirely composed of large, established immigrant enclaves. What is the limit on "immigrant" status -- one generation? two? nine? Do Europeans gain extra rights on their soil because they're "native"? What about the people living in Jordan? Or Syria? Or Palestine? Or Israel -- an entire country founded on the "immigant enclave" notion you're rejecting for Western culture?

    It shouldn't include Westerners being so afraid of violence that they don't dare criticize or even mention Islam.
    I can't say that I've ever seen any evidence of this fear leading to silence. Travel Scarborough (Toronto suburb) by public transit, and you'll see at least one Western person every day act with outright prejudice toward Muslim people. This "fear" doesn't seem to limit speech so much as it produces ignorant, hateful speech.

    A good friend of mine is 4th generation Canadian -- also happens to be Muslim and wears a head scarf -- and she gets snide comments from people, almost daily, about how she's oppressed by her own beliefs. Yet she's a lawyer making six figures, and Canadian through and through. Yet still people openly give her **** for being Muslim, and not a single one of the criticisms made are evenly remotely true.

    The average Westerner doesn't know squat about Islam. Can you find the specific tenets of Islam that prove they have a different conception of the fundmanetal right to life than we do? Can you find it in the primary source text? I'd wager no. The interpretations of the Islamic faith that you've provided are little different than myself quoting the Nazarene-specific interpretation of Christianity. That is, the criticisms you've made of Islam over the past several posts are only accurate insofar as they reflect secondary readings of the source text. Do you believe that it's fair to lambaste all of Christianity based on the specific dogma of Catholicism? Are the Hasidic Jews the same as all Jews? Is Richard Dwakins indicative of all Atheists? It's the same with Islam -- it has myriad denominations, all of which approach the Qur'an differently.

    There are perhaps a handful of Islamic groups that we need to fear. There are a handful of Western groups that cause some of them fear, too. It's not a question of whether or not we should be afraid to criticize, but surely there is an onus on us all to at least be accurate with our criticism?!?

    Some of us have built a house out of strawmen to maintain our misunderstandings of Islam. Some of Islam, too, has built a house of strawmen to maintain their misunderstandings of the west. It's little different than all the psuedo-science that went into excusing race-based slavery (which I'd point out is also a specifically Western phenomenon, and in particular an American phenmenon). These are false allegations that allow us to maintain a prejudicial and unsupportable belief system.

    And yep, my little 'force only used against force' daydream is just that. A daydream. I realize it's convoluted. And I also realize it could never be applied in the real world because eventually someone would have to be trusted to wield and apply said force.
    Then I have to wonder -- how can you even give it lip service if you know the dangers and contradictions of the belief itself? Isn't that patently foolish?

    Please realize that I'm not trying to criticize you specifically, nor do I wish to deny you the right to believe as you wish. But I feel it is important to point out the fundamental contradictions with the beliefs you're expressing. You want a free society, yet everything you're saying introduces further elements of control. You want Utopia -- but have you realized that all Utopia's are fundamentally Dystopic?

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