Letter of resignation

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Letter of resignation

Postby tobes » Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:26 am

I
On what is unacceptable:
It is a matter of principle – in any online community, of course there are going to be divergent views and occasionally, dubious and prejudicial statements. That’s part of the territory, and part of what is interesting about the internet.

However, when the owners of the site – the board, and the majority of the moderators see nothing at all wrong with consistently dubious and prejudicial statements about one particular religio-ethnic group, that is not part of the territory. That is a sign that the online community is very unwholesome.

I grant that there has been some evidence based arguments which take a particular neo-conservative view of Islam and its relation to western liberalism. It is not that which I question, nor the right for people to make informed arguments on these matters.

The problem is not one of free speech: on this board we cannot say anything. There are always limits. One could not assert, for example, that "The Dalai-Lama is a f*cking fascist" and expect that the basic right to free speech overrides all other considerations. And that anyone who has a problem with that has a problem with free speech. Such a statement would – rightfully – breach the standards of the board, and of the community, and be moderated.

With respect to Islam, and sometimes even “Muslim’s” such standards have basically been given up.

Here are some examples of the kind of statements which I think are categorically unacceptable.

I am not saying that now we should take up the ideas of BNP and get rid of immigrants. I believe that governments in Europe and South East Asian countries should simply outlaw the public worship of islam and ban it as a harmful ideology, just as nazism is banned in most civilized countries. I have no problem with muslims, but with the ideology which many of them either actively or pasively support. So people can stay, if they abide by laws, but islamic ideology should not be tolerated for the sake of all other citizens. They can worship whatever they want in private, but public propagation of islam including building of mosques should not be, in my opinion, allowed.



This is a bit like putting Nazis beside Israel and having Nazis cross the border. "We are Nazis but not the ones who killed the Jews. You can trust us Juden." Until the genocide is put right there can be no coexistence. They will do it again at the first opportunity


Ethnic Malays who apostatize have to give up the discriminatory privileges granted to them by their racist constitution because they are part of the conquering Islamic horde. Islam is like the exact opposite of dharma, they preach and practice discrimination, racism, warfare, ethnic cleansing and genocide.


how do you disregard the last thousand years of genocidal expansion by Islam? Or even the genocidal madness of the last 50 years? You are an apologist for a group more radical than the Nazi party. Millions are dead. Many just overt the border from Burma. I think your appeasement of the intolerant will lead to more murder. A book that actively promotes genocide does not deserve the protection of pretending to be a religion. Eventually you have to say no. Evil is evil and I will not stand for it even if it pretends to be nice today. Muhammad was a murderous monster. A genocidal general of an invading army of mercenaries that exterminated all it's opponents. To call that Holy is nuts. The man was a war criminal by today's standards.



There were nice Nazis too. Is there a point in there somewhere?

A genocidal and xenophobic ideology is innately dangerous. To apologize for that is unethical.




It's actually appropriate for once. Mohammed preached an ideology that made some people better than others, a sort of master race. This scared the elite who tried to have him assassinated. Hitler was jailed by the elite for a failed coup. For his time it was a protosocialist ideology with rule of law. Hitler was a National Socialist. It was better than a monarchy for it's peasant adherents who were his first power base. Hitler's first base was the brown shirts. Once in power he turned radical and his first act of genocide was against a tribe of "treacherous" Jews. Later it was scholars, poets and intellectuals. (Both did that one.)


Just to be clear the intolerant book is not the problem. The problem is speaking out against the intolerance and evil in it. I think you fear angering them so much that you feel you must appease them. I do not. It is so bad you could arguably put the word "religion" in quotation marks. I don't care how charming and nice some of it's adherents are. Genocide, thievery, murder and child rape are not things I generally associate with a religion. These things are unacceptable. You can't put enough lipstick on this pig to make it attractive to me after reading the source material.

The difference is Islam has world domination at its heart.

Can Islamic terrorism be defeated? If yes…how? If no…what should be done?
The answer is yes. How? I did mention previously some of the strategies that we must adopt to combat this peril. This can be summed up thus: The world must identify Islam as its number one enemy; wage an unrelenting media campaign exposing the barbaric nature of Islam. At the same time, military operations should continue to eliminate the terrorists who want to murder us. Meanwhile, we must reward the vast majority of the not-so-good Muslims for discarding the violent parts of the Qur’an. They should be asked to compile a new version of the Qur’an which will abandon all those murderous and hateful verses. Needless to say, the Qur’an will then only be a few pages thick. But, this must be done. And I can assure that this will be a litmus test for those who preach to be ‘moderate’ Muslims and claim that all those verses preaching violence against the non-Muslims are contextual and should not be currently acted upon. This strategy is known as carrot-and-stick approach. The funny part is: This method always works, and it will work this time too. The cost to adopt such measures will be a fraction of billions of dollars that is now wasted only to save Islam and give it a new life. The world should go after Islam—it will be cheap and fruitful. Muslims desiring to migrate to Western countries from Islamic Paradises must sign a declaration in their migration forms that they are not Islamists, do not support Pan Islamism and that they would be immediately deported if they are found to be the supporters of any such Islamic groups. If they become citizens of non-Muslim countries they must be warned that their citizenship will be revoked if they are found to be advocating world Islamism and are engaged in preaching the conversion of non-Muslims into Islam. Converting to Islam should be made illegal or those who desire to convert to Islam must get approval from security authorities. After all, in all the Islamic Paradises, leaving Islam and converting to another religion is a serious offence, sometimes punishable by death. We must play this game of Islam. We must get even and tough on conversion to Islam. This is a bit harsh, no doubt. But desperate times require harsh measures. These steps worked fantastically well in keeping the communism away from the USA and Western Europe. It will work again, believe me.




Not arguments, but consistent metaphorical associations which are prejudicial and demonising in the extreme. In the extreme.


Not only are those statements allowed to stand, they seem to be taken by the majority of posters and moderators as ‘honest and true’ speech. There is the sense that it takes a certain kind of moral courage to speak out about these matters, and bravely denounce the ‘utopic, liberal, multicultural fiction’ that Islam ought to be tolerated.

ii
On my own position:

To put my cards on the table, I am currently teaching a course on the sociology of terrorism. It is particularly focussed on the events of 9-11 and what has followed. I do not have specialist knowledge on most of these matters – for example, I do not read Arabic, and I am not well grounded in Koranic hermeneutics. Notwithstanding those limitations, my current job requires that I am engaged in a lot of academic literature, particularly on the political, ideological and sociological elements of this subject – to which the threads have been mainly addressed to. This includes for example, the question of Islamic jurisprudence and its relation to secular liberalism – a topic at the heart of these ‘debates’ which have just been incredibly ill informed.

I read literature from all perspectives – including the western neo-conservative perspective and the extremist Al Qaeda perspective.

I don’t claim and haven’t claimed to have any extra authority on the topic, but when I have suggested links to literature which is very relevant, they have been dutifully ignored.

The point is that it is basically impossible for me to bring in well grounded arguments – or even refer to the kind of real debates which are taking place on these matters - because we are not in the sphere of argumentation.

It is impossible for me to draw any other conclusion than that a reasonable and fair minded inquiry is really not taking place.

I have shown the two threads to other academics in the field, and they are simply appalled.

iii

On why I am leaving:

As a matter of principle, if those kinds of statements are acceptable to owners, moderators and members of Dharma Wheel - tacitly or otherwise – than it says a great deal about the standards of the community.

I am asking you all to seriously consider what kind of standards you think should be set.

I am asking you all to consider how you think Buddhism should represent itself, and what kind of role you play in representing it.

If, after some consideration, there is consensus that nothing is wrong – then so be it. That is where we are at. I am happy to leave quietly on the basis that this place is not for me.

If however, you see that something is clearly wrong – please speak up and let it be known that you wish for a forum which does not allow blatant prejudice to stand unaccounted for.
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Re: Letter of resignation

Postby Indrajala » Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:56 am

tobes wrote:If however, you see that something is clearly wrong – please speak up and let it be known that you wish for a forum which does not allow blatant prejudice to stand unaccounted for.


We have freedom of speech.
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Re: Letter of resignation

Postby tobes » Fri Aug 17, 2012 1:04 am

Huseng wrote:
tobes wrote:If however, you see that something is clearly wrong – please speak up and let it be known that you wish for a forum which does not allow blatant prejudice to stand unaccounted for.


We have freedom of speech.


If that is the case, then why are you are moderator?

What does it mean to moderate a discourse?

Your very role proves that speech here is not and cannot be unlimited. There are limits.

This is beyond dispute.

:anjali:
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Re: Letter of resignation

Postby Indrajala » Fri Aug 17, 2012 1:13 am

tobes wrote:Your very role proves that speech here is not and cannot be unlimited. There are limits.

This is beyond dispute.

:anjali:


Have to keep the board tidy.
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Re: Letter of resignation

Postby Malcolm » Fri Aug 17, 2012 1:49 am

tobes wrote:I
On what is unacceptable:



What is unacceptable is to give in to something you regard as evil and disengage.

M
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Re: Letter of resignation

Postby Indrajala » Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:01 am

tobes wrote:Your very role proves that speech here is not and cannot be unlimited. There are limits.

This is beyond dispute.

:anjali:


Let's be realistic.

There is a difference between saying "God Hates Figs" on an internet forum as an opinion and picketing the local fig farm with ficusphobic banners while disrupting the activities and business there.

As far as I know nobody here is going to Mosques with hate filled banners disrupting the activities there (and even if they did it'd be out of our jurisdiction).

There are just opinions being discussed here on an internet forum which is provided free of charge.
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Re: Letter of resignation

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:29 am

two thoughts here:

in general....

1. a statement is posted condemning Islam, associating it with Nazism, etc.
2. That statement can be challenged by another reader on the forum. If no reader is interested in commenting on it, then that statement goes unchallenged.
3. A moderator decides whether a posting should be open for challenge, or deleted.
4. a common criteria has to be established by which such a decision is made (terms of service).
5. if a member of the forum believes that the TOS have been violated, they should notify the moderator.

in particular...

these anti-muslim statements really don't have much place in a forum about dharma. In fact, the word 'dharma" only appears one time in the example cited in bold above. The rest of it just seems like a tirade.
A discussion about how religions can be (mis)used to hurt people, and citing examples involving Islam would be an appropriate and intelligent discussion. We could include many examples from Buddhism, Christianity, etc. into such a discussion. Whether or not Islam is inherently hurtful to people is a good topic, but maybe on a different website. If one can relate aspects of what one finds in Islam to some Buddhist teaching, then here is a good discussion.

It is not talked about much in the west, but there is a crisis going on in the Muslim world, between the old and the new. This is similar in many ways to the crisis in American society, culturally, between a conservative value system rooted in a pre-WW2, heavily rural America, and a more liberal one which has evolved since the mid 1950's. We can also see a kind of crisis, although it isn't really called that, regarding the transplanting of traditional Asian cultural values as they are so intertwined with Buddhism, into a European and American context.

Everything is constantly changing. This is basic to Buddhism. Change brings about fear, and people fear losing the traditions and cultural values that they cling to. A lama may fear that Western Buddhists will not preserve what his students might perceive as being "Tibetan superstitions" and a western student fears that they will have to give up thinking scientifically about things if they have to "believe" in ghost realms. All this fear is the same thing.

Instead of anyone "resigning" from this forum, I would suggest that this situation be seen as an opportunity to take the whole thing to a broader level of discussion. Maybe arguing whether a moderator should or shouldn't have deleted some posts (and I probably would have deleted them) isn't as useful as discussing what motivates people to go on and on about certain topics...in this case, Islam. Even if everyone here agreed that Islam or some other religious or political or cultural phenomena was the scourge of humanity, what would it matter? Are we going to form some sort of movement or something? On the other hand, looking at the examples of the varieties of mental suffering might be, from a Buddhist perspective, somewhat more useful.
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Re: Letter of resignation

Postby plwk » Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:53 am

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Re: Letter of resignation

Postby viniketa » Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:54 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Instead of anyone "resigning" from this forum, I would suggest that this situation be seen as an opportunity to take the whole thing to a broader level of discussion.


:good:

I have stayed for that reason, but it seems doubtful that things might move in this direction. What I see is that the members here often have very little respect for each other, much less for someone from a different religion altogether. The tradition of argumentation and debate in Buddhism seems, for some, to be a license to use any device to advance their own opinion.

Perhaps this is some 'secret' tradition unknown to me. :thinking:

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Re: Letter of resignation

Postby Andrew108 » Fri Aug 17, 2012 6:45 am

I understand your frustrations Tobes. But you can't stop people's prejudice by walking away. Dharma is also about confronting prejudice rather than closing oneself off from it. Being open to all the crazy ideas that people have regardless of what type of idea it is. The moderators on this board have prejudices too. They close some threads whilst keeping others going. But they do a good job overall and their job is pretty thankless. Engage don't resign.
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Re: Letter of resignation

Postby Nemo » Fri Aug 17, 2012 6:57 am

Thanks for the stereotypical passive aggressive elitist liberal response. If you are going to leave get lost and stop whinging on about how smart you are. Otherwise if what you believe is important for more than a paycheck you'll have to do a little better than a seemingly irrelevant link to few guys in Baghdad discussing Aristotle in the 9th century. Much of the evidence of which is hearsay now that extremists have burnt down the Museum of Baghdad.

Though put in rather layman terms the basic argument is this;
The ideology expressed in the Koran is fundamentally flawed because the founder was fundamentally flawed. Since those evil actions are an essential part of the Koran, no matter how much it is reformed, political opportunists will use them as excuses for further atrocities. If you want to get into Frantz Fanon or Ali Shariati please do. Liberals in academia are irrelevant and unctuously obsequious to the corporate power structure that fuels much of Islamic extremism. Feel free to change my mind. Could you dare critique free market capitalism as a cause of 9-11? How about teaching that the Trade Towers were valid targets for anyone even casually acquainted with anticolonialism?

P.S. Let's not get all self important and start new threads.

viewtopic.php?f=36&t=9651&start=220
Last edited by Nemo on Fri Aug 17, 2012 7:25 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Letter of resignation

Postby shel » Fri Aug 17, 2012 7:13 am

tobes wrote:I am asking you all to consider how you think Buddhism should represent itself, and what kind of role you play in representing it.


Hello Tobes,

Silencing ignorance for the sake of a pretty representation doesn't sound like a very good idea to me. Buddhists face and deal with ignorance in ourselves and others. No one said it was easy.
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Re: Letter of resignation

Postby tobes » Fri Aug 17, 2012 7:28 am

Malcolm wrote:
tobes wrote:I
On what is unacceptable:



What is unacceptable is to give in to something you regard as evil and disengage.

M


I don't regard these things as evil. I am simply saying that as a collective community, we have a choice as to what kind of standards we think are acceptable and my actions here are to get us all to contemplate that choice.

Disengaging would be to write nothing and never return - instead I am putting myself on the line and copping a decent pasting for it.

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Re: Letter of resignation

Postby Indrajala » Fri Aug 17, 2012 7:31 am

tobes wrote:I don't regard these things as evil. I am simply saying that as a collective community, we have a choice as to what kind of standards we think are acceptable and my actions here are to get us all to contemplate that choice.

Disengaging would be to write nothing and never return - instead I am putting myself on the line and copping a decent pasting for it.

:namaste:



It has been decided we will uphold the spirit of free speech.

What's wrong with that? Do you want censorship of opinions?
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Re: Letter of resignation

Postby tobes » Fri Aug 17, 2012 7:32 am

Huseng wrote:
tobes wrote:Your very role proves that speech here is not and cannot be unlimited. There are limits.

This is beyond dispute.

:anjali:


Let's be realistic.

There is a difference between saying "God Hates Figs" on an internet forum as an opinion and picketing the local fig farm with ficusphobic banners while disrupting the activities and business there.

As far as I know nobody here is going to Mosques with hate filled banners disrupting the activities there (and even if they did it'd be out of our jurisdiction).

There are just opinions being discussed here on an internet forum which is provided free of charge.


I am being very realistic. There are opinions which are allowed to be discussed and opinions which are not allowed to be discussed here.

For example, we can not talk about the NKT controversy, we can talk about the different interpretations of emptiness.

There is always a judgement about what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.

I am asking why it is that we have judged it acceptable to allow opinions which demonise an entire religio-ethnic group.

:anjali:
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Re: Letter of resignation

Postby tobes » Fri Aug 17, 2012 7:37 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:two thoughts here:

in general....

1. a statement is posted condemning Islam, associating it with Nazism, etc.
2. That statement can be challenged by another reader on the forum. If no reader is interested in commenting on it, then that statement goes unchallenged.
3. A moderator decides whether a posting should be open for challenge, or deleted.
4. a common criteria has to be established by which such a decision is made (terms of service).
5. if a member of the forum believes that the TOS have been violated, they should notify the moderator.

in particular...

these anti-muslim statements really don't have much place in a forum about dharma. In fact, the word 'dharma" only appears one time in the example cited in bold above. The rest of it just seems like a tirade.
A discussion about how religions can be (mis)used to hurt people, and citing examples involving Islam would be an appropriate and intelligent discussion. We could include many examples from Buddhism, Christianity, etc. into such a discussion. Whether or not Islam is inherently hurtful to people is a good topic, but maybe on a different website. If one can relate aspects of what one finds in Islam to some Buddhist teaching, then here is a good discussion.

It is not talked about much in the west, but there is a crisis going on in the Muslim world, between the old and the new. This is similar in many ways to the crisis in American society, culturally, between a conservative value system rooted in a pre-WW2, heavily rural America, and a more liberal one which has evolved since the mid 1950's. We can also see a kind of crisis, although it isn't really called that, regarding the transplanting of traditional Asian cultural values as they are so intertwined with Buddhism, into a European and American context.

Everything is constantly changing. This is basic to Buddhism. Change brings about fear, and people fear losing the traditions and cultural values that they cling to. A lama may fear that Western Buddhists will not preserve what his students might perceive as being "Tibetan superstitions" and a western student fears that they will have to give up thinking scientifically about things if they have to "believe" in ghost realms. All this fear is the same thing.

Instead of anyone "resigning" from this forum, I would suggest that this situation be seen as an opportunity to take the whole thing to a broader level of discussion. Maybe arguing whether a moderator should or shouldn't have deleted some posts (and I probably would have deleted them) isn't as useful as discussing what motivates people to go on and on about certain topics...in this case, Islam. Even if everyone here agreed that Islam or some other religious or political or cultural phenomena was the scourge of humanity, what would it matter? Are we going to form some sort of movement or something? On the other hand, looking at the examples of the varieties of mental suffering might be, from a Buddhist perspective, somewhat more useful.
.
.
.



This is all well and good, much common sense here ~ except that I have genuinely lost confidence that we can talk openly and rationally about this kind of topic. My resignation isn't some ill conceived and sentimental whim. It is because I think DW has crossed over a line and is really on a slippery slope.

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Re: Letter of resignation

Postby Jnana » Fri Aug 17, 2012 7:39 am

Nemo wrote:Thanks for the stereotypical passive aggressive elitist liberal response. If you are going to leave get lost and stop whinging on about how smart you are. Otherwise if what you believe is important for more than a paycheck you'll have to do a little better than a seemingly irrelevant link to few guys in Baghdad discussing Aristotle in the 9th century. Much of the evidence of which is hearsay now that extremists have burnt down the Museum of Baghdad.

Though put in rather layman terms the basic argument is this;
The ideology expressed in the Koran is fundamentally flawed because the founder was fundamentally flawed. Since those evil actions are an essential part of the Koran, no matter how much it is reformed, political opportunists will use them as excuses for further atrocities. If you want to get into Frantz Fanon or Ali Shariati please do. Liberals in academia are irrelevant and unctuously obsequious to the corporate power structure that fuels much of Islamic extremism. Feel free to change my mind. Could you dare critique free market capitalism as a cause of 9-11? How about teaching that the Trade Towers were valid targets for anyone even casually acquainted with anticolonialism?

What a load of bullshit.
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Re: Letter of resignation

Postby tobes » Fri Aug 17, 2012 7:41 am

Andrew108 wrote:I understand your frustrations Tobes. But you can't stop people's prejudice by walking away. Dharma is also about confronting prejudice rather than closing oneself off from it. Being open to all the crazy ideas that people have regardless of what type of idea it is. The moderators on this board have prejudices too. They close some threads whilst keeping others going. But they do a good job overall and their job is pretty thankless. Engage don't resign.


I agree that generally they do a good job, and that it is important to be open to all the crazy ideas people have. It's not about my frustration - it's not about me at all, frankly, though of course many will see it otherwise. It is about what kind of community we want here, and what kind of level of mutual respect we need to demonstrate in order to achieve that community.

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Re: Letter of resignation

Postby Virgo » Fri Aug 17, 2012 7:43 am

tobes wrote:
There is always a judgement about what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.

I am asking why it is that we have judged it acceptable to allow opinions which demonise an entire religio-ethnic group.

:anjali:

Oh please it is always racist with your type. There are Muslims of practically every ethnicity. This isn't about race or theological disagreements-- it is about human beings upholding documents that say that all who don't capitulate and come over to their beliefs should die (Koran chapter 9 verse 5).

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Re: Letter of resignation

Postby tobes » Fri Aug 17, 2012 7:48 am

Nemo wrote:Thanks for the stereotypical passive aggressive elitist liberal response. If you are going to leave get lost and stop whinging on about how smart you are. Otherwise if what you believe is important for more than a paycheck you'll have to do a little better than a seemingly irrelevant link to few guys in Baghdad discussing Aristotle in the 9th century. Much of the evidence of which is hearsay now that extremists have burnt down the Museum of Baghdad.

Though put in rather layman terms the basic argument is this;
The ideology expressed in the Koran is fundamentally flawed because the founder was fundamentally flawed. Since those evil actions are an essential part of the Koran, no matter how much it is reformed, political opportunists will use them as excuses for further atrocities. If you want to get into Frantz Fanon or Ali Shariati please do. Liberals in academia are irrelevant and unctuously obsequious to the corporate power structure that fuels much of Islamic extremism. Feel free to change my mind. Could you dare critique free market capitalism as a cause of 9-11? How about teaching that the Trade Towers were valid targets for anyone even casually acquainted with anticolonialism?

P.S. Let's not get all self important and start new threads.

viewtopic.php?f=36&t=9651&start=220


I don't think you have any idea about what I am teaching, nor what my political views are. If you want to position me as liberal elitist that's your prerogative - but you have no basis to making those kinds of imputations.

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