Religion or Institutions: A Final Word

Over at Facts Matter, I believe I finally settled the issue of whether or not Islam is to blame for the violence in the Middle East. I put the nail in the coffin with this:

Still no evidence. I am, again, arguing about the real color of a unicorn’s horn…

Dr J asks:

Refresh my memory: Blasphemy laws where? “Popping up….”

Right now? Post-socialist Europe. And post-coup Thailand. And post-monarchist Nepal. Go ahead: Google it!

Are you implicitly stating that Russia is part of the historical West? Peter the Great just another Montesquieu?

Nope. You didn’t specify that the examples had to be from the traditional West. Speaking of moving the goalposts:

Death for converting, anywhere? (I did add this.)

Can you provide me with an instance of this happening in a Muslim state?

One more from Dr J:

With what penalties? (Death or more?)

Fines as far as I know. Again, can you give me an instance of a death sentence carried out in a Muslim state in the name of blasphemy?

David: rather than try to rebut every one of your points, I think I’ll just let your comments stand on their own. For your own benefit, insert the word “Muslim” in place of the word “Christian” throughout your lengthy defense of the latter.

If you do this, you’ll not only be proving my point, but you’ll have a better understanding of what is going on in the Middle East today. The difference between the United States and, say Russia or Egypt, is institutional.

Max Weber famously argued that Protestantism was responsible for the rise of capitalism in the West. There was something about Protestantism that changed the way northern Europeans thought about the world, as well as how they justified their actions. He was wrong, of course, but his argument continues to influence large swathes of opinion today. Why? Because of “selective anecdotal evidence that is fortified by the perceived well-being of contemporary Protestant states.”

The myth of Islam’s violent penchant should die with the same last breath of the imperialist’s claim of superior foresight. If anybody wants to go a couple more rounds in the ‘comments’ section here, I’d be glad to take you on. If you are hesitant, ask yourself if this is because you are afraid you might be proven wrong, or because you know deep down inside that you are absolutely correct about Islam’s mythical penchant for violence.

5 thoughts on “Religion or Institutions: A Final Word

  1. I completely agree. The problem with most Muslim nations isn’t religions, its lack of credible institutions. Having said that, one should wonder why Muslim nations don’t have credible government institutions.

    • Good question AHB!

      Looks like you’ve found a topic worthy of a PhD dissertation! One thing I’ve been able to address on this blog is simply the size of states in the region (and elsewhere in the post-colonial world). In short: they’re too big.

      I’ve got a bunch of posts on this topic that you can check out here. While they mostly deal with Europe and Africa as case studies, you can simply apply the same argument I’m making conceptually to the Middle East.

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