[ExI] Religions and violence [Was Re: Sarah Palin]

Damien Sullivan phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu
Sat Jul 24 22:48:10 UTC 2010

On Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 03:38:04PM -0700, Jeff Davis wrote:
> 2010/7/23 John Clark <jonkc at bellsouth.net>:
> > I believe you can think of a
> > cultural factor that is astronomically more likely to be the source of that
> > HUGE Nobel deficit among the Islamic than bagels, but will not admit it
> My speculation:
> The Jews are successful because their historical coincidences
> pushed them in the direction of mercantilism and finance capitalism.

Some would say a subculture that gave status based on Talmud mastery --
literacy and logic -- helped too.

But, when we're talking about Jews and Nobels, are we talking Ashkenazi,
Sephardim, Mizrahi, and Ethiopian Jews in equal parts?  Were Jews always
considered supersmart?  (Tangentially, are we remembering that early in
the 20th century, the champions of basketball were Jewish?)  Or is
reality more complicated than simply what religion one sort-of follows?

> Islam has followed a course more in line with religious conservatism.
> That this has held Muslims "back" from the "blessings" of modernity,

There's also the cursive nature of Arabic, which was harder to print,
and conservatism regarding Arabic and the Koran -- conservatism indeed,
but of a different sort from the usual.

> "condition" today.  So the Muslim culture seems inclined to live by
> traditional values and to not manifest the same enthusiasm for
> cultural change via technology as the West.  And yes, I see this as a

Yet there's been a lot of change.  In both directions, for AIUI, the
Islamic fundamentalists are as much a reaction to the 19th century as
Christian ones were.  Wahabiism isn't an ancient tradition but something
more like the Southern Baptist Church, albeit more successful.  Ditto
the Taliban -- 1920s Kabul was rapidly modernizing, women in Western
clothes and all.  Saddam's Iraq was quite nice for women, relative to
the neighbors, until it became more conservative under the poverty of
sanctions.  Muslims aren't a static unchanging Other.

-xx- Damien X-) 

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