Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Shame that is Islam

"What matters is manners rather than morals," D J Enright observed, in writing about Genji. "And shame lies less in being naughty than in being so maladroit as to be discovered"
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"If they find out, we're in real trouble."
"It's OK, we won't get caught."
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America does not understand the language of manners and principles, so we are addressing it using the language it understands.

bin Laden's 'Letter to America'

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/worldview/story/0,11581,845725,00.html

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Islam is orthopraxy. There is no morality in Islam. It is not a religion in any sense that non-Muslims can agree to. Islam is a matter of correct behaviour according to Islam-only. REgardless ot the innateness of anything, nothing of it matters outside the precepts of Islam, not morality, not truth, not even common Human decency. Islam is a shallow orthopraxy, a matter of right behaviour within the confines of "Islam itself and nothing else." It is right manners and behaviour according to Islam. A religion of murder and terrorism robbery, rape and ruin,
a religion of murder and terrorism. So long as one practices the formulae acording to set ritual and is never caught doing otherwise, then all is acceptable. Murder your children? Why not? It's fine with Islam so long as it's Islamic.
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Saturday, April 29, 2006

Jirga to kill anyone reporting honour killing cases to police By Zahid Jan

DIR: Anyone reporting an honour killing case to the police or filing a case with the court will be killed by the jirga (tribal court) since the publicising of such cases has brought a bad name to the area, Malik Faiz Muhammad, a member of the Nihag-Wari jirga in Upper Dir, said on Friday.

The Nihag-Dara Wari jirga had issued a controversial verdict in favour of honour killing around 15 days ago, declaring it a permissible act.

"We stick to our verdict that honour killing is permissible and those who commit it will not be liable to any punishment. We will also not allow the aggrieved party to report the case to the police or file the case before a court. We will kill those who will violate the jirga verdict," he said.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2006%5C04%5C29%5Cstory_29-4-2006_pg7_1
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Next we'll look at the childish and ugly side of shame culture, the kind of culture that produces the story above.
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"Trial by media" is very much a feature of political life at the moment, and it works largely because it seems that the public has different standards of proof for misdemeanours among those in public life from those it maintains for private citizens. In public life it is enough to be "tainted" with suspicion for one's future to be blighted. In practice, the same is probably true of people accused of offences in their own small social world, and yet we maintain formally that justice operates on much more rigorous principles.

In other words, the rules about responsibility and blame are not the same across cultures or even across different sectors of the same culture. Clich├ęs about there being "no smoke without fire" and "mud sticks" on the one hand, and being "innocent until proven guilty" on the other, for example, represent fundamentally different assumptions.

I remember watching then-President Nixon on television trying to exculpate himself from the Watergate affair, and thinking then, "What proof could he conceivably - even in principle if not in reality - adduce which would lead people to believe him?" The answer, of course, was "none".

A useful distinction for articulating these different assumptions and rules is that between "shame" culture, and "guilt" culture.

They were articulated by Dodds (1951). Discussing ancient Greek epics and drama, he traced an increasing sophistication in their development, from a conception of the world and the moral order as arbitrary and subject to the whim of the gods, through to a later understanding of the limits of moral responsibility. Even among the great tragedians, for example, Aeschylus' Oresteian Trilogy is about individuals simply caught up in the workings out of the curse of Atreus; Sophocles makes the issue of responsibility more problematic, and for Euripides it resides more fully in the individual. Aristotle eventually identified "hamartia" or "tragic fault" as an attribute of the individual. Dodds typifies the distinction as that between "shame" and personal "guilt"

Benedict (1946; rpr 1967) spells out the distinction in more detail in her discussion of Japanese culture, prepared during WW2 to help Americans to understand their enemies. She distinguishes between the "guilt culture" with which the West is familiar from its criminal justice system, and the "shame culture" of more collectivist Japan.

We are familiar with the rules of a guilt-culture: it is after all the staple of crime stories in literature, film and TV. The wrongly-accused person, even someone who is "framed", struggles to demonstrate innocence and be vindicated - or wrestles with his (usually "his") conscience over an undetected crime. The rules can be expressed thus:

Guilt-
culture

Other people believe:

I believe

I didn't do it

I did it

I didn't do it

No problem

I protest my innocence and fight the accusation

I did it

I am expected to feel guilty regardless

I am guilty and am punished


There are two parties to the process: myself and other people. The matrix is set up in terms of what we believe about my wrong-doing (we are only talking about wrong-doing here: credit for good works gets more complicated). I could have put what I know about my wrong-doing in the vertical column, but there are circumstances in which I may mistakenly believe I have done wrong (and feel deeply guilty about it), so belief rather than knowledge underpins this process.

In both cultures there is no problem if we all believe I did nothing wrong. Similarly, there is not much of a problem if we all agree I did it (although there may be arguments about the extent of my culpability). The issues arise in the face of disagreement. In a guilt-culture I will defend my innocence even if everyone else is blaming me. My internal and individualistic judgement is what counts. But by the same token, I may be wracked with secret guilt even if the world believes me innocent.

The positive aspect of guilt-culture at its best is its concern for truth and justice and the preservation of individual rights. The sense of guilt might also preserve us from engaging in wrong-doing which no-one would ever discover: but it can also be misplaced and potentially neurotic.

Shame-
culture

Other people believe:

I believe

I didn't do it

I did it

I didn't do it

No problem

I am shamed and dishonoured by their belief

I did it

No-one knows, so I am not shamed

I am guilty and am punished





In a shame-culture (sometimes referred to as "honour-shame culture), what other people believe is much more powerful. Indeed, my principles may be derived from the desire to preserve my honour or avoid shame to the exclusion of all else. The down-side is the licence it appears to give to engage in secret wrong-doing.

It may motivate me to ensure that I am not only innocent but am seen to be innocent: that I not only do not engage directly in criminal or antisocial behaviour, but that I stay far enough away from it not to be tainted by association in any way. This is the standard the media seem to expect of politicians and other public servants, because (as quoted above) "mud sticks", and there is "no smoke without fire".

On the other hand, suspicion becomes sufficient to convict in judicial terms. Moreover, in a pluralist society, culpability (I'm trying to avoid saying "guilt") may be determined by one powerful sector of society and in ignorance of the facts of the case, since there is less incentive to prove them. And in that plural society, if my particular sector or reference group think there is "nothing wrong with", say, driving after drinking alcohol or stealing from one's workplace or cheating an insurance company, it may not exert any influence on my behaviour in that respect. If we are to believe the myths, the Mafia is run on shame-culture.

The sources I cited have located shame-culture principally in the more collectivist societies of the East, but of course the two cultures co-exist (perhaps with different relative influences) everywhere.

The European and North American cultures, claiming a Judeao-Christian heritage, claim guilt-cultures. Psychologically, guilt is proclaimed to be a more "advanced" emotion than shame: Erikson's popular model of personality development (which respects other cultures than the North American) sees the emergence of basic shame as part of the second stage in the growth of the ego, but guilt as the third. He follows Freud, for whom the Oedipal stage was central to the development of the super-ego, with its capacity for generating guilt, which creates a social conscience. (Roughly!)

But shame is everywhere in the informal justice practised in families, schools and work-places.

"You are not coming out with me looking like that! You'll show me up!"

"One more sound out of this class, and you will all be kept in after school!"

Trivial, but shame-culture driven. Bernstein touches in passing on how positional ("Because I say so") rather than rational authority, tends to inculcate shame-culture. Even in the formal justice system, it has been argued that a "welfare" rather than "justice"-oriented approach particularly to young offenders - making the punishment fit the criminal rather than the crime - has shame-culture connotations.

Neither culture is perfect: neither is alien to our experience. Expressions of "fault" and "fairness" can be found in both, but they operate according to very different rules.

"What matters is manners rather than morals," D J Enright observed, in writing about Genji. "And shame lies less in being naughty than in being so maladroit as to be discovered"
http://www.doceo.co.uk/background/shame_guilt.htm
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Islam is a 7th century Arabian Penninsula tribal code made into a violent poligion, a political religion for ten year old adluts. It's a formula of behaviour for primitives. It has no right place in the modern world. Our pretenses and our sentimentalities are disgusting and hateful. When we allow the continuation of Islam anywhere we are truly guilty of allowing crime to flourish. We should be ashamed.

4 comments:

maccusgermanis said...

Interesting post.

You said When we allow the continuation of Islam anywhere we are truly guilty of allowing crime to flourish. We should be ashamed.


But I suppose there just aren't enough of us (yet)to inflict proper shame, so individually we must bear our guilt. We must also attack the false obsolution offered by islam? I feel that the humans infected by this diseased thought may still be capable of feeling true guilt, and must be repeatedly reminded, lest they forget, of their many crimes. Shame is but a transitory tool of a populace that must inspire true guilt in an individual, or it, as you have pointed out in this post, is useless.

Always On Watch said...

Dag,
See the discussion which Jason and I were having here, in the comments section.

I wish I'd seen this blog article when I was having that discussion, but you can jump in if you like and bring the discussion around to some of the info you have here in this excellent article.

Anonymous said...

Islam is orthopraxy. There is no morality in Islam. It is not a religion in any sense that non-Muslims can agree to. Islam is a matter of correct behaviour according to Islam-only. REgardless ot the innateness of anything, nothing of it matters outside the precepts of Islam, not morality, not truth, not even common Human decency. Islam is a shallow orthopraxy, a matter of right behaviour within the confines of "Islam itself and nothing else." It is right manners and behaviour according to Islam. A religion of murder and terrorism robbery, rape and ruin, a religion of murder and terrorism. So long as one practices the formulae acording to set ritual and is never caught doing otherwise, then all is acceptable. Murder your children? Why not? It's fine with Islam so long as it's Islamic

How can you comment on something that you are totally ignorance about, truly it is not as what you believe it is...If not, it wouldn't be the fastest growing religion in USA.Did muslim kills people if they din't convert to Islam? i don't think so..it's malicious to say so...
you are the one who said and propose the idea of man is the one living being born free to choose how to live. It is a choice, don't mock people with what they believe is their right...
Study the religion and you will see the beauty of it.

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