Thanks, Other Bloggers

Or should I say, “Real bloggers”?

I’m so happy that other folks wrote about taqiya, because I’ve been mulling over writing another post about it, and I can’t seem to string three sentences together without degenerating into a lot of profanity.

I found these links on Matthew Iglesias’s blog here. His post was short, so here it is in its entirety:

Two good posts on conservative invocation of “taqiya” which they see as basically a fancy Arabic term for “lying” that explains why you can’t trust Muslims. First, Matt Duss explains that’s not really what it means. Second, Ezra Klein points out that it’s odd to develop an elaborate conceptual apparatus to explain the phenomenon that political leaders in Muslim countries sometimes lie. This is something they have in common with Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, etc. political leaders. And, indeed, with non-politicians.

This sort of thing has been an all-too-common feature of America’s post-9/11 discourse. I distinctly remember reading somewhere something genuinely well-meaning which explained that Iraqi men didn’t like to be awoken in the middle of the night, handcuffed in front of their wife and children, and dragged out of their homes because they live in a society that places a high premium on honor. As if somewhere there’s a society where people think that kind of thing is no big deal. I believe “orientalism” is the term.

Some enjoyable comments from Matthew Iglesias’s post:

What do we call it in this country when our Christian leaders lie to our people and have his underlings lie to the United Nations and the world? We need a fancy word for it.

A few hundred years ago in England, the same sort of thing was said by protestants about catholics. The scare word then was “equivocation”: in order to prevent illegal priests from being caught by the authorities, it was permissible to use misleading (though not literally false) language. Protestants interpreted this to mean that all those Jesuits were a bunch of scheming unscrupulous deceivers.

Was there a native American term to describe the White Man’s inability to keep his word to them?

A: The problem with Muslims is they lie all the time.
B: Everybody lies all time.
A: Yeah, but I’m talking about Muslims.

And from Ezra Klein’s blog:

Near as I can tell, “Taquiya” is just Arabic for “Lying for Jesus” — a pernicious form of antinomianism that corrupts democracy, perverts the community of nations, and makes it impossible to rely on the truthfulness of certain types of believers.

Leo: also, it’s worth noting that concepts like “equivocation” and “taqiya” are only needed by cultures with a pretty strong taboo against lying in general. They answer the question, “is it permissible to lie in order to avoid persecution?” Most of us would just say “yes” without much hesitation. But some people feel it necessary to come up with more clear rules to separate that from the absolutely unacceptable act of lying in other circumstances.

And here’s a link to my own previous post that contains information about taqiya.


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Filed under arabic, Islamic relations, language

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