Nightcap

  1. The Arabs: divided by a common language Patrick Ryan, Commonweal
  2. The Committee to Implement Annexation Michael Koplow, Ottomans & Zionists
  3. ABC News (US) reporting on secession in “Cascadia” Ivan Periera, ABC
  4. The grim reality of the cruel seas Claude Berube, War on the Rocks

More Arabs in the US? Yes, please!

I hope y’all had a chance to check out Ussama Makdisi’s essay on Ottoman cosmopolitanism from one of the nightcaps a few days back. It was excellent, and serves as good complement to Barry’s work on the Ottoman Empire here at NOL.

It’s especially good for a few reasons. First, it has a useful explanation of the mandate system that London and Paris experimented with. Second, it’s comparative and brings in lots of different modes of governance. Third, there is an interesting discussing about citizenship (consult NOL for more on citizenship, too). Lastly, it explains well why the Arab world continues to wallow in extreme inequality and authoritarianism.

Makdisi represents a shift in thinking in Arab circles away from victimization and towards self-determination and responsibility: no longer are the French and British (and Jews) to be reviled and blamed for everything that’s wrong with the Middle East. There is a shift towards internationalist thinking. The Americans now play a positive role in what could have been (and still might be) a freer Middle East. The British and French have factions now and some of them were supportive of Arab voices, some of them not. Arab scholars are finally benefiting from the American university educational system, probably because there are so many Arabs studying in the US now.

Makdisi’s piece is not a libertarian interpretation, but it’s a start.

Nightcap

  1. How the Arabic language spread Barnaby Rogerson, History Today
  2. Post-Ottoman ethnic cleansing Christopher Kinley, Origins
  3. Legal decentralization and the Ottoman Empire NOL
  4. Fear of a gold planet Larry White, Alt-M

Nightcap

  1. A girl’s place in the world William Buckner, Quillette
  2. Why do we teach girls that it’s cute to be scared? Rick Weber, Notes On Liberty
  3. Reflections on Westeros Livio Di Matteo, Worthwhile Canadian Initiative
  4. The persistence of racism in Arabic literature Mona Kareem, Africa is a Country

Nightcap

  1. At home with the homeless Johannes Lenhard, Aeon
  2. Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo Ursula Lindsey, the Nation
  3. Tyler Cowen on geopolitics marginalrevolution
  4. Collected. Bought. Looted? Friedel & von Gliszczynski, Africa is a Country

Nightcap

  1. How Buddha became a popular Christian saint Blake Smith, America
  2. Russia, Germany at loggerheads over Idlib Yekaterina Chulkovskaya, Al-Monitor
  3. Arab melancholia Thomas Patier, Los Angeles Review of Books
  4. Does Locke’s entanglement with slavery undermine his philosophy? Holly Brewer, Aeon

Nightcap

  1. Forget Trump: The Military-Industrial Complex is Still Running the Show With Russia Bruce Fein, American Conservative
  2. King Thibaw’s Elephants Jonathan Saha, Colonizing Animals
  3. Revolution and Decolonization in the Arab World Yoav Di-Capua, Age of Revolutions
  4. The Hunger for a Bold Socialism Conor Friedersdorf, the Atlantic

Nightcap

  1. Science fiction from China is epic AF Nick Richardson, London Review of Books
  2. What is the proper role of galactic government? Michelangelo Landgrave, NOL
  3. Science fiction & alternate realities in the Arab World Perwana Nazif, the Quietus
  4. Algorithmic wilderness: can techno-ecology heal our world? Henry Mance, Aeon

Nightcap

  1. Scandinavians and the boons of empire Miles Macallister, Aeon
  2. Europe’s populists are waltzing into the mainstream the Economist
  3. Toughing it out in Cairo Yasmine El Rashidi, NY Review of Books
  4. Knowledge of the Holocaust Bart van der Boom, OUPblog

BC’s weekend reads

  1. Libya Epitomizes Hillary Clinton’s Not-So-Smart Power
  2. Paradoxes of the Gray Zone
  3. The Kurdish Conundrum
  4. The Future of the Arab
  5. Just Following Orders: Leadership Lessons from Argentina’s “Dirty War”

A Short Note on Islam and Violence: Russian Edition

Many notable, and many more unnotable, commentators will swear by Islam’s “violent penchant.” They don’t care for nuance. They don’t care for facts. Instead, they adhere to the old principle of repeating something often enough until it becomes true.

I think there is an issue with Sunni Arabs and cultural chauvinism (the Qur’an is supposed to be memorized in the Arabic language only, for example) masquerading as religion. I think religion itself is mentally and emotionally abusive. Yet I am confident in stating matter-of-factly that there is no penchant for violence in Islam. Each instance of violence perpetrated by an Islamist can be explained by his or her political, or better yet institutional, situation. Islamism is, after all, a relatively new political paradigm that has arisen only with the advent of the nation-state in the Middle East.

Incidentally, these same detractors – the ones who repeat themselves over and over again – are also hawks when it comes to Russia. If I am not mistaken, Russia is a Christian nation (with a few exceptions along its peripheries) and unofficially a Christian state (did anyone catch the Patriarch’s recent speech to the Duma?). The Russian state is violent and aggressive. Russian society is violent and parochial. Moscow routinely violates individual rights. Because the vast majority of Russian citizens support the aggressiveness of both the Russian state and the Russian communities in post-Soviet space, this means that all Christians are violent and aggressive, right?

“Mohammed — in pictures”

That is the title of this piece by Barnaby Rogerson in the Spectator. There are three beautiful pieces of medieval art (two Persian and one Turkish), and those alone are worth the price of the click. There is, of course, a short essay explaining why there is now so much resistance to depicting Mohammed in art (of both the high and low brow variety). Check it out:

Whatever the heritage of their medieval past, Sunni Islam — in the Arab-speaking Middle East — had decisively turned its back on depictions of the Prophet well before the 18th-century emergence of Wahhabism. Once again there are no definite answers. It may have been a gut reaction to the magnificent art produced by their Iranian Shiite rivals but it also reflects a very real fear that Mohammed was slowly being turned into a demi-god and that in the process his actual prophetic message would be ignored. This was especially true in the far eastern frontiers of Islam, such as India and Indonesia (numerically the two largest Muslim nations in the world) with their ancient syncretic traditions. So the attack on imagery can also be seen to have a constructive element embedded within it, concentrating all attention on the text of the Koran and reinforcing the Arab nature of that revelation.

Take this as you will. My instinct is to suspect “the Arab nature of that revelation” as the initial reason for this change in Islamic aesthetics. That is to say, I suspect that a medieval notion of Arab chauvinism is responsible for the shift.