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Monday, May 11, 2015

That the World May Not End

My article in the LA Jewish Journal:
http://www.jewishjournal.com/world/article/that_the_world_may_not_end

5 comments:

  1. Dear Mr. Mansour,

    I just read your recent article in the LA Jewish Journal. First I want to thank you for your courage and clear thinking. I'm curious if you offered this piece to any other American newspapers. In my opinion, the wider American population needs to know more of the truths you reveal about Moslem governments and religious leaders.
    Like you, I believe that a more honest and much more assertive approach toward the Moslem world is needed NOW. Americans and Europeans are making a drastic mistake trying to read this situation with Western eyes; we need the help of people like you who better understand Moslem mentality and the truths learned from living in a Moslem society.
    To your points about making illegal the teaching of violent and intolerant ideas, I'm right with you. Any ideas how we could directly participate in making this a reality? I am an American, so I'd like to know if any American lawmakers or decision-makers in the departments of education or homeland security have tried to advance the idea of criminalizing teaching which uses lies, spreads hate and encourages violence in Moslem (or any) schools/religious institutions here? On this same point, what recently happened to you at Swarthmore College - your attempt to speak and engage in reasoned debate being forcefully prevented by mob force - is happening on campuses all over America and naïve American academics and college administrators do not know how to deal effectively with these incidents. Such tactics must not be foolishly allowed to be passed off as a freedom of speech issue; they have no place in a civilized society and they need to be strongly discouraged by arrests of anyone engaging in such behavior.

    About the idea of stopping Shiite/Sunni enmity, I'd sure appreciate some concrete suggestions how we could affect this mess. I know what President Obama is trying to arrange with Iran - although well-intended - is woefully naïve, and will do nothing to stop Iran's march toward both nuclear weapons and efforts to gain more control of the Middle East.
    For me, it seems the only way we might be able to really affect both the Iranians and the Saudis would be to deny both countries access to American schools, businesses and markets, communicating loud and clear that it is the violent and inhumane nature of both societies that the US refuses to support in any way going forward. I wish someone who understands these societies could help us figure out how to literally embarrass Moslem countries, perhaps by calling them too primitive to join the community of nations.

    I would appreciate hearing your thoughts on the ideas above. And, again, I thank you for caring enough to share your ideas on the world's problems with Islam.

    By the way, I am also curious what influenced you to begin seeing the world as you now do, despite the consistently poisonous ideas you grew up with in Egypt? I know you've said having access to the Internet helped, but most people choose to read that which reinforces what they already believe.

    Respectfully,

    A proud citizen of the civilized world

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  2. Thank you for your interesting and inquisitive comment. Let me start by asserting that I don't have all the answers. I'm not suggesting that I have a solution that no one else has. I'm simply a person who privileged with a first hand deeper knowledge of the Arab and Muslim world.
    I agree with you totally. Western civilization and America specifically are in a grave danger of their own self centrism. They are insisting on viewing the world from their own perspective which in many cases does not reflect the reality of other world. My biggest and frequent example is viewing "Islam" as if it was race and an ideology while almost every individual of the 1.5 billion Muslims see it purely as an ideology and a belief system. Nothing will be resolved until we get rid of our own childish behavior of avoiding cultural confrontation as if we don't trust western morality to able to offer us any thing of value. Unfortunately I don't frequently publish in American journals or newspapers, however I'm considering that. Also I do tours in campuses all over the U.S to have these conversations with students.

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  3. I'm not a jurist and I have no experience in legislative measures but I have idea about what we can do; we need to aggressively reject a speech which uses lies or religious fantasies to spread homophobia, racism, sexism, antisemitism etc. We need to stop tolerating any behavior which does not comply to western moral values. This will require the courage to decide that our western moral values are good, something that we have failed to do. Consider this quote from Sam Harris:
    " If only one person in the world held down a terrified, struggling, screaming little girl, cut off her genitals with a septic blade, and sewed her back up, leaving only a tiny hole for urine and menstrual flow, the only question would be… whether the death penalty would be a sufficiently severe sanction. But when millions of people do this, instead of the enormity being magnified millions-fold, suddenly it becomes “culture,” and thereby magically becomes less, rather than more, horrible, and is even defended by some Western “moral thinkers," -The Moral Landscape
    When did our morality become so dull?! How dare we to claim that we know nothing about the world. When western civilization claims its morals are no better than the rest of the world its a shameful coward abandonment of humanity and the human race. We need to confront our own bad ideas before we confront others. American law makers are politicians and they will follow the public, not the other way around.
    What is happening in campuses is dangerous. Anti-Americans sentiments are prevailing in a bizarre post-Iraq war syndrome. This is a very complicated social phenomena and I don't think that I'm well experienced on American society in order to discuss it. But I can see it has to do with a wider anti-institution anti-capitalist sentiment and also the growth of colored immigrant America. The other day I was setting with some American ex-Muslims who though were able to abandon the Muslim beliefs, they couldn't abandon sentiments of victimization and a pressure to show that their culture of origin is no inferior to any other culture. I can attribute this to the fact that they were probably brought up on the empty headed idea that every kid has to get a trophy. Imagine this; American ex-Muslims who left Islam because they know it's bad for them are aggressively defending it publically as a peaceful beautiful faith because they want to feel equal! This is a big American social problem for me to discuss.

    About Sunni/Shiite enmity, the U.S needs to take a firm action against Iran and Saudi Arabia as well. The U.S is, directly and indirectly and willingly and unwillingly, providing all kinds of support of several Sunni nations to suppress and oppress Shia minorities. I was born and raised in the Sunni world and I can tell you that Shia history is one big saga of Sunni oppression. Sunni literature demonizes Shia Muslims no less that it demonizes Jews. I can clearly understand why many Iranians see America as a great satan. Saudi Arabia commits the same crimes ISIS commits and no one blinks an eye. When Sweden recently dared to criticize the Saudi human rights record, Saudi Arabia practically threatened Sweden with economic destruction and no one in the so called free world supported Sweden. This is shameful! I understand that a lot of money is included in the considerations, but what do values mean if they have actual value against the all mighty U.S dollar?! I totally agree with you. We need to punish both countries and shame both countries into moderation. I would like them to go to American schools still but we need to cut down the business we are giving to them. But I have also to indicate that the U.S can't do this while China and Russia have no sense of moral responsibility and ready to manipulate such a situation.

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  4. I know I haven't really answered your questions but I believe that we need these discussions so we can actually find ways to address our problems. I have been influenced by a lot of things and a lot of writers. I can tell you briefly that what really started to change me profoundly was my study of Jewish history, culture and history of antisemitism. One thing all beings can understand and relate to is pain. Reading about the tragedies and the pain the Jewish people went through made me understand injustice in a much deeper and a humane way.

    Thank you.
    Hussein

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  5. Hussein, maybe you have a Jewish ancestor. You can find out by doing one or more DNA tests with www.familytreeDNA.com. Andi Alpert Ziegelman

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