Saturday, 28 January 2012

My critique of Eric Allen Bell's article

In my post just before this one I criticised those who took the hammer to E.A.Bell ("Daily Kos Kommentors"), for his article here.  I was shocked, to be frank.  I expected that they would take him to task. What I didn't expect was that they would simply heap ordure on him from a great height without even looking at, let alone understanding, the guts of what he had to say. I was shocked that the comments were virtually 100% ad hominem. (and that the one or two comments that took them to task for being ad hominem were themselves labelled... gulp!... ad hominem!)
A question then arises: was his article worthy of such contumely?  Was it really that risible, that horrible, that ignorant, that bigoted?
Answer: NO.
I've got through his article sentence by sentence. It's all true and verifiable not only according to western analysts, but also according to Islamic sources.
There's only one statement that I'd quibble with, but then only in terms of his being a bit "boisterous", or "confrontational". And that's his first statement:
Imagine a man who is the equivalent of perhaps 100,000 Osama Bin Ladens in terms of the violence he conducted in his lifetime in the name of religion. [emphasis in the original]
Saying 100,000 times Osama bin Ladens means, in death terms, 3,000 x 100,000 which is 300 million.  Now there are figures around that the number of deaths owing to Islam, since Muhammad, is about 270 million.  I'm sure that figure is questionable, though I'm sure also that it could be confirmed, or largely substantiated.  That doesn't matter.  The point is: it's a touch confrontational to state that right at the outset and is only going to raise hackles.
As for the rest of the statements, they are all verifiable from Islamic sources, either the Koran, the Hadith or the Sira, the life of Muhammad.
So, why would the Kos Kommertors simply heap ordure on E.A. Bell without taking issue with his statements? [I dunno.  Possible answer: Hive Mind]
One characterisation for sure, one that is for sure not ad hominem... it's bigotry. ("complete intolerance of any... opinion... that differs from one's own") [ref].
Read the Komments on the Kos and see if they're not completely intolerant of any opinion differing from their own...
Encouragingly, it's not all bad on the Left: The Guardian, also left-wing, carried a risible article by Islam apologist Karen Armstrong.  But in this case, the commentors, almost all critical of Armstrong, were knowledgeable, cogent, substantive. That is: non ad hominem. Not bigoted.  Willing to hear the other side.
Surprise: Hurrah Guardian!