Thursday, July 30, 2009

Against dog-whistles

The perceptive observer may have noticed that I have a bit of a thing about the use of the phrase "honour killing". The short version is this: while it probably describes certain acts reasonably well, I basically see it as a dog-whistle for the crazy right -- like "death tax" or "partial-birth abortion".

But there are words that can be both accurate and totally useless, or worse serve to obscure and confuse matters. Consider that it would be technically accurate to describe Bernie Madoff as a crooked Jewish banker, but no newspaper worth the pulp it's printed on would describe him as such, and with good reason -- Madoff's crookedness had nothing to do with his Jewishness. (Just ask evangelical Christian Ken Lay.)

The sad fact of the universe we live in is that most women who die violently, die at the hands of men they know -- husbands, boyfriends, fathers, even sons. This is true of white Christians at least as much as brown Muslims. Indeed, given that Muslims are outnumbered by Christians in Canada about 30 to 1, and that substantial Muslim populations are a novelty in Canada's history, it's a absolute certainty that acts that could reasonably be described as "honour killings" have been committed far more frequently by white Christian men. Ergo crazy, shame-driven patriarchal violence has little or nothing to do with Islam, and only a little to do with religion.

The other problem is that all of this feeds in to an increasing, and increasingly stupid, view of Muslims within western countries. Mark Steyn has never had an original thought, so it's no surprise to learn that he didn't originate the genre of "scary Muslims are outbreeding us!" horror story. What's dispiriting is that some liberal voices are busy praising a book that is, if anything, just as incoherent and factually incorrect.

But what intrigues me is how tightly coupled, but incoherent, the two concepts are. Basically, the "Eurabia" thesis says that Muslims are fertile, confident, and have a strong culture that is overtaking Europe's, but the "honour killing" thesis says, effectively, that Muslim men are brittle, petty, and prone to avenge perceived slights with disproportionate violence.

None of this is any more illogical than we've come to expect from the Right. It's just a shame that when it comes to idiotic moral panics, too many lefties are busy joining them.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

"But what intrigues me is how tightly coupled, but incoherent, the two concepts are. Basically, the "Eurabia" thesis says that Muslims are fertile, confident, and have a strong culture that is overtaking Europe's, but the "honour killing" thesis says, effectively, that Muslim men are brittle, petty, and prone to avenge perceived slights with disproportionate violence."

I would hope that you are just intentionally misstating the arguments, and are not just daft. Please make sure to email me when we have a spate of honour killings/drownings in the Polish-Catholic community. So far, just about every one reported in North America (if they are reported at all) involve Muslim men "prone to avenge perceived slights with disproportionate violence." Or are you arguing that their actions are not disproportionate to the slights they feel from their daughters? See how easy it is to bend someone's position to try to make them look silly in the context of your argument.

john said...

In terms of looking silly, I'd say commenting anonymously and challenging me to email you takes the cake.

If you'd be willing to drop the privilege of drive-by smears, let me know and I'll be happy to contact you every time a Christian kills someone over idiotic perceptions of shame or ego.

john said...

And besides, saying that "just about every one reported in North America ... involve Muslim men" when my argument is that it only gets reported as an "honour killing" when it involves a muslim man is not compelling.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious! You disparage Mark Steyn's originality by using a cliche.

Anonymous said...

"I'll be happy to contact you every time a Christian kills someone over idiotic perceptions of shame or ego"

Further proof that you have absolutely zero comprehension of the subject matter: in order to make this analogy, you would need to show that Christian teachings ENCOURAGE people to kill others for the circumstance in which the theoretical killing occurs.

I realize lefties generally fear truth, particularly when it makes their multiculti post-racial insides feel all squishy, but the problem of Islamic-doctrine-dictated violence is quite real. Denying it will not make it go away.

Anonymous said...

The reply to your reply under the name "anonymous" was not me (the original "anonymous"), though I stand behind everything that anonymous said ... anonymously.

I think I have a Mark Steyn column in the making.

celestialspeedster said...

You make a good argument against the "honour killing" label but I still find myself on the fence about the usefulness of the phrase thanks to a heated debate on the June 25 edition of "The Current".

TrueNorth said...

The cultural illiteracy of the Left!

"Honour killing" isn't some term that a newspaper columnist made up: it is a well-known, intrinsic part of Muslim culture.

Nobody denies that non-Muslims have murdered women: it just isn't an "honour killing" - its plain old murder. Example: Marc Lepine's mass murder of 14 college women in Montreal in 1989...Whoops, sorry, bad example...he was a Muslim. (I found that tidbit out in a Steyn column.)

Its funny: behaviour that some Muslims consider normal is called "psychotic" when someone else does it.

It is also highly amusing to sensible observers that the Left, through stupidity, finds itself allied with the most fundamentalist, conservative, anti-feminist, anti-gay, xenophobic ideology on the planet. Hilarious. It is as if you were supporting the right of white supremacists to lynch uppity black folks. Thank you Dymaxion World for doing your bit to help make the Left look ridiculous. Are you in favour of stoning too?

Steyn really annoys you guys, doesn't he?

Good!

TdotTim said...

Oh boy. I will have to come back later to see how a few Steyn readers roast this marshmallow of a world view. It's really too much of a lay up (more like a 3 inch putt) so I won't bother, but I'm sure a few will. Enjoy your 15 minutes of blogo-fame.

The Red Fox said...

I can hardly wait for your next post on the rights complicity in the stoning of rape victims,or lashes for wearing pants,arranged marriages and how the concept of child brides is misunderstood,not to mention dowery deaths.

Ted S. said...

"... [P]atriarchal violence has little or nothing to do with Islam, and only a little to do with religion."

Does this mean that Islam has little or nothing to do with religion? If not, what does it mean?

Shani said...

Not to fault your original post, but only in reading the spate of Anon comments did I realise that the other other problem with 'honour killings' is that it is, in fact, a way to avoid calling murder what it is.

Sort of the way we anglophones used to use the phrase 'crimes of passion': Sure, it was murder, but the killer just couldn't control their grief and shame.

Anonymous said...

The best part of any blog to which Steyn provides a link is the comments. Well thought out and with a pinch of humor. Much like Steyn.

Anonymous said...

My name is Sean Raleigh, I live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Hopefully you will not regard this post as being "anonymous".

So, so-called honour killings are universal, and hardly the purview of muslims. Happen all the time in the Christian world, and you'd be happy to email those requesting examples of such "honour killings" in the non-Muslim world.

seanraleigh@hotmail.com

I look forward to your regular reports of non-Muslim honour killings.

Oh, for the month of June, 2009, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada alone, SEVEN muslim females drowned in rather odd circumstances. Headlines in respect of several other muslim females killed in Canada over the last two years also peculiarly common.

I won't bother posting links to the many murders and disappearances in Britain involving muslim girls and women, don't have sufficient time.

But again, I do so look forward to your daily updates on the Christian/Buddhist/Jewish/Sikh/Hindu/Atheist/Etc. honour killings updates.

Colonel Robert Neville said...

Laughable balls and utterly fraudulent lies. I smell the typical logical fallacy stench of rampant mediocre and anonymous left liberal jealousy, hmmmm?

Islam is an expansionist totalitarian fascist political project waging asymmetrical global war over many internal and external fronts for over 1300 years.

Islam was founded by a 7th century pedophile rapist, mass murdering bandit warlord and necrophiliac uber-deceiver psychopath called Mohammad.

The Koran is a book of profound nihilistic super fascist hatred and instructions for deception, mutilation and mass murder. Christopher Hitchens called the Koran"filth". It is.

You are a disingenuous logical fallacy spouting, Marxist sodden moral equivalence peddling left phony, thus you are the entire opposite of Mark Steyn who is a published best selling author for good reasons and popular, succesful, quoted, witty, fun, courageos, empirical and entirely correct.

FOCUS on a single point where Steyn is wrong and counter with evidence.

stophonourkillingscom zombietimecom roadsassycom theprophetofdoomnet faithfreedomorg thereligionofpeacecom memritvorg jihadwatchorg nctcgov brusselsjournal shoebatcom brusselsjournal com thedestructionofbritain blogspot com atlasshrugs wordpress com islammonitor org

America Alone M. Steyn. While Europe Slept B.Bawer. Stealth Jihad & The P.I.G Guide to Islam R.Spencer. B.Gabriel Why They Hate. The Looming Tower, The Al Qaeda Reader etc, etc, etc.

Colonel Robert Neville blogspot com.

Anonymous said...

The fact that, generally, men kill women does not excuse the sadistic and uniquely Islamist practice of "honour killing". Sadly, in the real world, a place you lefties refuse to acknowledge exists, it really happens and is deemed acceptable in the Islamist worlview. Facts are tricky things, especially when they undermine your misguided attempt to justify or explain away an abhorrent practice!

Anonymous said...

Sharia (Arabic: '‎شريعة Šarīʿah) is the body of Islamic religious law. The term means "way" or "path to the water source". It is the legal framework within which the public and private aspects of life are regulated for those living in a legal system based on Islamic principles of jurisprudence. It is often noted that the Koran does not condone “honor killings”. However, that is totally beside the point, as Sharia Law condones “honor killings” Sharia Law exists only in Islamic countries. You, my friend, are a consumate ass!

Gar said...

So apparently Steyn was angered enough by your comment to pull his army of flying monkeys out of his ass and send them your way. Pre-internet their comments would have been scribbled in crayon on varieties of cheap paper and could have been saved and used as kindling when winter arrived. Suggestions as to what use could be made of them today are a bit more difficult. I suppose you could use these posts in some sort of drinking game, but you would need a really well-stocked liquor cabinet.

Anonymous said...

"Gar said...

So apparently Steyn was angered enough by your comment to pull his army of flying monkeys out of his ass and send them your way. Pre-internet their comments would have been scribbled in crayon on varieties of cheap paper and could have been saved and used as kindling when winter arrived. Suggestions as to what use could be made of them today are a bit more difficult. I suppose you could use these posts in some sort of drinking game, but you would need a really well-stocked liquor cabinet."

Really? I found most of the comments to be better reasoned than the original blog post.

Anonymous said...

Gar-
Fine job attacking the messengers. However, in the adult world of discourse we address the topic at hand with our points of view, facts, observations, etc. Your reflexive personal attack is typical of the leftist mindset. In the future please bring an argument, not a personal diatribe!

Anonymous said...

Ah, but personal diatribes are the speciality of the left. From that cauldron of ignorant hate and venom issue forth wave after wave of insult, deliberate distortion and vicious calumny.

Anonymous said...

Gar and John:

You should be glad for the flying monkeys. It's probably the most attention you'll ever get.

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading an article on Drudge about some Saudi "ladies man" who went on television in Lebanon to talk about how he picks up women with his fancy car and bluetooth and then satisfies them in his bedroom.

One of the responses to his admissions in the article was from a Muslim cleric who said something like "[under Sharia law as practiced in Saudi Arabia], he [the "Saudi-ladies man"] should be stoned to death."
Yes, that's about right, I said to myself (after recalling the Nigerian Muslim leader who, similarly reasoned, wants to forbid the teaching that the Earth is round because it is not in the Koran).

Excuse me Mr. Muslim cleric from the religion-of-peace, don't hate the player hate the game.

Mike said...

Your post is a flimsy attempt to rationalize the serious misogynist pathology that pervades Muslim culture by setting up a false moral equivalence with the West/Christianity.

Obviously, crimes against women occur in all cultures. Obviously, not all Muslim men condone the abuse of women. You're being disingenuous, though, in willfully ignoring the way these sorts of practices are formally enshrined in Sharia law, which has no comparable counterpart in the Christian world.

I realize that this sort of shallow, warm-and-fuzzy multicultural world view is what the left uses to justify its assumptions of moral and intellectual superiority. It allows you to feel superior to your political opponents, whom you can simply dismiss out of hand as a bunch of ignorant racists, and insulates you from the awkward prospect of confronting the ugly sides of cultures other than your own.

What you need to understand, though, is that raising legitimate questions about the problems and potential threats posed by other cultures is not the same as hating other cultures, yet some people just love to sweep any such questions under a big rug labeled "hate" and call it a day.

The result is the creation of such ironies as the supposedly enlightened, progressive, infinitely tolerant, exquisitely sensitive cultural left apologizing for some of the most intolerant, misogynist, homophobic, oppressive, violent, backwards groups on Earth.

Sean O'Brian said...

If you come up with a neutral-sounding phrase to replace "honour-killing" that new phrase will eventually be seen as a "dog-whistle" as well.

So then the only way out of this conundrum would be to keep coming up with new phrases or decline to describe the "honour-killing" phenomenon at all.

The closest Western equivalent to Muslim honour-killings is the remnants of the dueling culture in the South, which has a higher murder rate than the rest of the US.

Kate said...

To argue that honour killings have no cultural basis, and are no different to domestic violence/abuse/murder encountered in non-Muslims families in the West is disingenuous.

http://www.canada.com/Honour+killings+girls+women+rise+Canada+expert/1823895/story.html

“…there are cultural components in these types of crimes which we cannot ignore.”

Honour killings have specific features:

1. The killings are, almost exclusively, of young women by their fathers/brothers/uncles/male cousins, often MULTIPLE MALES. Yes, there are instances of spousal abuse/murder which fit into the category of honour killing, but usually it is the murder of an unmarried/soon to be married/recently married young woman who has disobeyed her family (father), and defied Islamic cultural norms.

2. The motive cited relates to the fact that the girl/woman brought “SHAME” upon the family honour, for example by dating or marrying an un-approved male, avoiding an arranged marriage, or unilaterally separating from a husband. Even apparently benign factors such as adopting “Western” dress, lifestyle and attitudes is thought to bring shame upon the family and is therefore punishable by death.

3. There is a justifiable basis for such killings under SHARIA LAW.

Unfortunately, the excellent website “International Campaign against Honour Killings” is under maintenance due to attacks, but this is a good resource for reviewing the mountain of cases in which Muslim women have suffered this fate, and which show an undeniable pattern.

Take the recent murder in Canada (of 4 Muslim women in the same family) where information has been forthcoming about the recent un-approved marriage (then divorce) of one of the daughters. There have been many such cases in Canada. Another label- eg. routine domestic violence- might appeal to politically correct multicultural sensibilities, but these cases are part of a phenomenon unique to Islamic culture.

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/distinct+kind+violence+experts/1827094/story.html

In this article, “A distinct kind of violence”, the points made above are emphasized.

“Chesler noted that honour killings:
- are committed mostly by Muslims against Muslim girls and women.
- are committed mainly by fathers against daughters in their teens and 20s.
- are carefully planned.
- may be perpetrated by multiple family members.
- are committed because the victims has "dishonoured" the family.”

PS. Please give just ONE example in the West where a non-Muslim woman has been killed by MULTIPLE family members.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

I just can't wait for the excuse-mongering for the gory Islamist snuff films now touring the Net like trading cards of the blood spurting decap films making the rounds also being merely the proximate paranoia of the Far Right.

Death taxes and abortion indeed.

Except that the former is done when the old coots kick the bucket naturally, and the latter is mostly done in secret, whereas the honour death and strange fruit droppings of the Sons of Allah's daughters falling from condos is condoned neither by Left or Right but somehow shoes up in the West nontheless.

Your PCism is showing, brother.

You have that ungulate-like calling card of Cloud Cuckooland the Left typically plops on the table even before your postings are complete.

In terms of looking REALLY silly, you've got the fully monty here.

This is one of those cases where, regardless of where Steyn gets his ideas (the hard core recognition of REALITY might be a good hint, however much it matches your most lurid canned notions about the Right) it seems your disease is not all that original either. In fact, it smells like the Left's multi-culti gangrene that says that "golly, some Muslims are moderate after all, since they conspicuously keep their mouths shut about Jihad when they see their fellow citizens in Europe blow into bite sized chunks in rail stations."

But this is less about "moderate Islam", assuming such a beast, than just Westernization of some Islamist populations. The problem here is that the Wahhabiest sect is still the main ideological mover and shaker--and well funded by the House of Saud at that.

Thanks for nothing.

And Neville and O'Brian are correct here. This is akin to the old saw from Shakespeare about a rose by any other name still either smells as sweet or alternately has nasty thorns that nip:

What name would you prefer that once again would serve the Left's penchant for the emasculation and neutralization of the English language? What euphamism do you think best serves the goals of severed heads and dead females?

Patrick of Atlantis said...

The Left sides with Islam because Islam is at odds with Christianity and the Constitution, and because the Left is like Islam, anal and despotic and collectivist.

Kate said...

Hey John, noticed you hadn't responded to any of the numerous comments on this "dog whistle" piece.

Then I took a peek at your previous post:

“In Praise of the National Post”, July 23rd
http://dymaxionworld.blogspot.com/2009/07/in-praise-of-national-post.html


…“For being the only newspaper to play it cool on this Kingston-Canal-Murder story.”

According to the Post that day, the police “….would not confirm media reports that the deaths were part of an "honour" killing.”

Praise-worthy, non-inflammatory reporting by the Post, I agree.

However, in today’s National Post, according to an article entitled “Victim wed in secret”: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=1851168 :

“Kingston police have said they are investigating the possibility the homicides were so-called honour killings.”

And, in another Post article entitled “Kingston canal victim made several attempts to marry: report”, from July 31st:
http://www.nationalpost.com/story.html?id=1849640 :

“Relatives of Rona Amir Mohammad have alleged that her husband felt his oldest daughter had disgraced his family by her behaviour in Canada. They also alleged the homicides were carried out as so-called honour killings.”

Oh dear, the National Post, the Canadian police, and now Muslim relatives of the victims have started to use inflammatory, culturally-insensitive language.

Not “cool”, to borrow your term.

Anne said...

Dymaxion (aka John), you're not, by any chance, a misogynist "racist" are you?

You don't think only civilized Westerners are entitled to genuine and equal human rights, do you?

It's just that that's the impression, perhaps misguided, that I'm getting:

These Muslim women hailing from other lands should be answerable to the dictates of their own cultural "system", not ours.

Right?

observer said...

"But what intrigues me is how tightly coupled, but incoherent, the two concepts are. Basically, the "Eurabia" thesis says that Muslims are fertile, confident, and have a strong culture that is overtaking Europe's...... but the "honour killing" thesis says, effectively, that Muslim men are brittle, petty, and prone to avenge perceived slights with disproportionate violence."

No contradiction here, Dy-max.

You're assuming confidence and strength equates with GOOD/ progressive. That's not necessarily the case, and certainly isn't where Islam is concerned.

Churchill observed, at the end of the 19th century, that "no stronger retrograde force exists in the world" than Islam, and he was right.

Go on though- tell yourself that these instances of "domestic violence" in Muslim families have nothing to do with their culture- just look the other way and put your fingers in your ears.

And by the way- why have you got nothing more to say on the subject?
Has the National Post backflip described above made you see the light?

Vicki said...

Sometimes a tragic cigar is just a tragic cigar.

Everyone. Let's chill. This was a terrible thing that happened, no matter what you want to call it.

Live. Love. That's what all religions teach. Perhaps that's naive and simplistic in this messed up world, but there's no need to promote hatred and fear and violence.

Peace.

Mike said...

Wow John congrats. When a slimy worm like Steyn sends the winged monkeys, you are clearly doing something right.

BTW, for the idiot anon way near the top (True North was it?), Marc Lepeine was Catholic, raised Catholic, baptised Catholic. Living in a pre-dominantly Catholic province.

But why let a little thing like facts get in the way of your two-minutes hate, hmmm?

I detest Islam as much as I detest Christianity - both are vile, authoritarian and dangerous creeds that the earth would be better off without. I do not despise individual Muslims or Christians because unlike Steyn, I have the intelligence to realize that groups don't make choices individuals do. I won't hold my Muslim or Christian responsible for what other's of their profess faith do.

After all, how many good Christian fathers killed their whole families, or good Christian mothers drown their kids in the last 10 years? Why aren't they "honour killings"?

Oh yeah only Muslims do "honour killings".

Dear gawd, you Steynoids are idiots.

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