Better Representing Muslims: A Few Ideas

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Azahul:
You're looking at this as if Muslims are going to have a universal religious justification for how they feel about 9/11. They're not, and this is part of Rath's article's point. There is a lot of bad feeling towards the United States in the Middle East, but very little of this is anything to do with religion directly. It's almost invariably down to political or cultural roots. The US's involvement in the Middle East has not been terribly positive for most people there, and you are much better off looking into the history of that involvement to find out why there's so much ill-feeling rather than trying to figure out how they justify it on a religious basis. A lot of Christian Americans thought killing Osama Bin Laden was a great thing, despite the fact that it hardly fulfills the principle of turning the other cheek. You'll note that only a small minority thought the attack was fully justified. Honestly, I can see, really very easily, how I myself would fall into that grey between fully justified and unjustified. It was a horrific act... the US, the UK, and so many other countries in the "civilised" West have undertaken horrific acts that similarly targeted civilians, but on a scale made so much larger thanks to their access to bigger and better weapons. Violence is never the correct action, but I can see how that act could be seen as an act of retaliation from one side, rather than an unprovoked act of terror as the US sees it.

No, I'm not looking at this as if they have a universal religious justification for it. I've already explicitely stated that the Qur`an and hadiths are anti-murder of non-combatants. I'm not sure how any of this explains how nearly half of the Muslims interviewed felt that there was some kind of justification for the 9/11 attack on non-combatants. Muslims aren't just Islamists. It's also often referring the people group residing in Islamic or even just Arabic nations. Such a definition is historically and linguistically acceptable. If a significant number of people believe that the murder of thousands of non-combatants on 9/11 had even some kind of justification (let alone the 7% that believed in total justification, which was more than the 1% of Muslims the video claimed were extremists), we've got a problem. I knew we had a problem, but I had no idea that it was THAT bad. I thought we'd see a much more significant number of Muslims saying that the attack was not justifiable because they weren't people attacking Muslims.

Isn't that the way that question is normally phrased? "Should people be allowed to have any job they are qualified for?" I mean, you wouldn't want to make the interviewee to think you're asking them if people should be allowed to a job regardless of their qualifications. I very much doubt there was an intention to appeal to Saudi Arabian men with that question.

It side steps cultural differences of what qualificatied may mean. Especially in cultures where gender may automatically disqualify you. In the US, we have the luxury of thinking that being qualified means that you can do the job. In those countries, qualifications include being the right gender for the job. In countries like Saudi Arabia where it's not even permissable for a woman to leave her house without a male escort and where other men look straight through women without answering their questions as if they're not there (out of some kind of cultural "respect), women would not be qualified in any job that requires interaction with men. That's kind of a lot of jobs. Imagine that you're a store owner and your nation that that ridiculous practice. Can you afford to hire a women at the register when it men can't even acknowledge her existence? Fortunately, Saudi Arabia is kinda the gold standard of repressing women is concerned. But this mindset isn't only there.

I refer you to Rath's very first point, "Stop lumping them all together". There is a huge spread of diversity within the Islamic faith, within the Middle East, within areas where those two overlap and where only one of them applies. The legal discrimination against women, particularly the legal beating, female circumcision, and limited positions, are hardly implemented universally. Iran has laws that require women to have a male guardian give them permission to work, but even they have several female members of parliament. I'm absolutely sure you do have problems with those aspects of Islam. I have issues with them. Everyone should have issues with them. But bringing it up is basically going off topic. No one is saying Islam has no issues. There are issues within Muslim communities across the world. The problem in this article is the portrayal of Muslims in the medium of video games. It's ok if you portray some parts of Islam as being distasteful, so long as you can also show that those distasteful parts are nowhere near the only reality.

Gah, it's far too late at night/early in the morning for me to be constructing a coherent argument. I'll sleep on it.

Lumping them all together? You mean explaining mainstream beliefs? I'm sorry, but I can't account for every individual when talking about the group as a whole. I'm explaining the mainstream beliefs and practices of 90% of the faith. Their tenents come from two sources, as I said, the Qur`an and the school of law they adhere to. So any verse in the Qur`an can be generally applied to any Islamic denomination but the specific authoritative hadiths and interpretation of those hadiths can vary. For example. Shi`ites do not have verses forbidding icons. As such, a Shi`ite mosque may even have images of the Prophet on display. So they're not iconoclasts and usually wouldn't be responsible for destorying ancient artifacts. The Sunnis, however, are clearly commanded to destroy such items by their hadiths. Remember, the Sunni faith makes up approximately 75-85% of the entire Islamic faith. Shi`ites come in at around 10-15% with all the other groups scrambing around for what is 15% at most.

Because of this, we can generally define what they believe and when nations are under Sharia law, we can explain why certain actions are taken. The same way we can explain the basic tenents of specific Christian denominations is why we can define the beliefs of adherrents to specific schools of Sharia law. The beliefs are well defined. Don't

Please tell me how you'd interpret specific examples:

Beating one's wife as the third response to disobedience.
Qur`an 4:34 "Men are overseers over women, by reason of that wherewith Allah hath made one of them excel over another, and by reason of that which they expend of their substance. Wherefore righteous women are obedient, and are watchers in husbands absence by the aid and protection of Allah. And those wives whose refractoriness ye fear, exhort them, and avoid them in beds, and beat them; but if they obey you, seek not a way against them; verily Allah is ever Lofty, Grand."

Marrying and even consumating with prepubescent females is permissable through the well-known account (hadith) of Muhammad marrying his wife, Aisha. But there is even a specific amount of time that a man has to wait before marrying and consummating a prepubescent girl after her previous husband has died or divorced her. The time is three months. Qur`an 65:4

Men can have sex with prisoners of war: Qur`an 33:50

A woman's testimony in court is half that of a man's. Qur'an 2:282

Here's the big controversial one:

"Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection." Qur'an 9:29

Those who have been given the Book are Christians, Jews, and Muslims. This is one of several reasons why Christians and Jews were treated kindly under Muslim rule except for the taxes and discrimination imposed on them for not being Muslim. However, treatment of religions not considered to be part of the group that has recieved the "Book" is considerably worse. Unfortunately, Americans who are not familiar with the children of the Book in Islamic culture would see this verse as being against all religions that aren't Muslim. That's not the case. There are also other verses that demand peace or treaty with groups that do not attack Muslims as well as a mandate to spread the faith through righteous conquering of nations. So there's some considerable conflict here ant there. either way, I believe that attacks on non-combatants is not condoned. I'm sure Muslims died in 9/11 too. Bombs take away the ability to distinguish which are legitimate targets and which are not.

These verses wouldn't matter much except that Muslims are theonomistic. Meaning their religious laws are valid and to be imposed not only by the government but by individuals. Combined with a mandate to spread that law to others and we've got trouble. Judaism is practically the same but the mandate is generally contained within their borders.

I'm not sure what the problem is here. This is a scholarly understanding of things. I'm not saying that all Muslims believe and follow the tenents of their religion. I am saying that this is what their various denominations teach. As such, these are mainstream beliefs and often national laws regardless of individual actions. There is a difference between understanding that these are the mainstream beliefs vs projecting these beliefs onto every individual. I have personally met damn nice Muslims who would not harm a hair on my head. Hospitality is also a big thing over there. The best I can do is judge individuals for who they are and what they do. But right now I'm judging the religion itself and this is what it teaches.

I believe that you are mistaking my explaination and defining of mainstreams beliefs as if I'm saying this is what all Muslims everywhere believe and practice. That's not the case.

randomrob:
Who admires Hitler? No-one I know who holds that Islam is fundamentally (in its pre-enlightenment form) incompatible with Western Secularism admires Hitler. At least not his espoused views on Ethnic cleansing or German/Aryan superiority.

Firstly, what on Earth is distinguishes "Western Secularism" from any other form secularism? I'm not pedantic, I have genuinely never had the distinction before. Secondly, talk to any number of white nationalists to see what I was talking about with the Nazi comparison, (and by the way, I apologise for my use of the majority in that instance, it was complete hyperbola).

Who's discriminating against Muslims? I'm talking about Islam and was making an irritated observation about the common and ultimately stupid argument that you "can't judge Islam by what it says in its holy book". There is a difference between an ideology and those who follow it. I know plenty of decent people who identify as Muslims, but they don't actually follow most of what the religion actually teaches, they follow what liberal apologists claim it teaches, which is fine, hence the (admittedly not explicitly stated) distinction between Islam and Muslims.

You didn't made that clear in your post, and given the sentiment of the comment that you were arguing against, that being that the demonisation of Muslims isn't dissimilar to the Nazis scapegoating of the Jewish, it seemed reasonable to assume that your grievance lay with the followers as much as the belief. In regards to the judgement of a religion based on it's holy books, yes, I agree. I am an atheist and anti-theist, I just don't believe in the persecution of any religious group.

-snip-

Habit was perhaps a poor choice of words, I said it was one of the most irritating things I'd seen on the internet, not this forum, although I did have an account on this forum a year or two ago which I did frequently post (and often embarrass myself) on.

Looking over what everyone has said I can't help but remember what we say about online gaming. the loud and foolish are giving the rest a bad reputation. not all gamers are the same and not all Muslims are the same.

nerd killer247:
Looking over what everyone has said I can't help but remember what we say about online gaming. the loud and foolish are giving the rest a bad reputation. not all gamers are the same and not all Muslims are the same.

If you feel that someone is being loud and foolish, you should respond directly to their comments so that you may contribute to the discussion and make the discussion less "foolish" rather than blanketly criticizing its existence. For all you know, the individual likely isn't saying that all Muslims are the same. For example, I am merely discussing basic tenets and defined beliefs of the religion and the resulting Sharia law. I am not saying that Joe, the Muslim from down the street, believes x, y, or z. Explaining the belief system as defined by the group isn't discrimination or prejudice. It's just explanatory. If it comes across offensively then you should consider that some of their beliefs may simply not jive with western culture.

Therumancer:
What's more a people cannot be judged by individuals within it, but by the people as a whole. A person (single) is fine, but a people, when they all get together and are taken as a whole, is something entirely different. This is the root of sociology, which is really the only way of dealing with or understanding things on a national or cultural level. Liberals, the peace at any price movement, and humanitarians like to try and focus on individuals and put a human face on problems, but that is ultimately counter productive in the large sense because what a person is like when approached in relative isolation as an individual, and what they are like when immersed with others of their own kind is entirely different. As much as people hate sociology in these arguments, it's the real deal and is exploited constantly by advertisers and similar sorts every day, and to great effect.

Having a degree in sociology, I feel I must come to the rescue of the discipline and tell you all frankly, that it can not be, and should not ever be used, to support stereotyping.

PromethianSpark:

Therumancer:
What's more a people cannot be judged by individuals within it, but by the people as a whole. A person (single) is fine, but a people, when they all get together and are taken as a whole, is something entirely different. This is the root of sociology, which is really the only way of dealing with or understanding things on a national or cultural level. Liberals, the peace at any price movement, and humanitarians like to try and focus on individuals and put a human face on problems, but that is ultimately counter productive in the large sense because what a person is like when approached in relative isolation as an individual, and what they are like when immersed with others of their own kind is entirely different. As much as people hate sociology in these arguments, it's the real deal and is exploited constantly by advertisers and similar sorts every day, and to great effect.

Having a degree in sociology, I feel I must come to the rescue of the discipline and tell you all frankly, that it can not be, and should not ever be used, to support stereotyping.

I'm sorry if I've missed someone's post. But is anyone here making a statement that ALL Muslims are one way or another or referencing that all individuals of the groups share all the subsets of the set's beliefs?

I admit that I missed much of the first and second page of this thread, so I may have passed over some significant stereotyping.

hornedcow:

Firstly, what on Earth is distinguishes "Western Secularism" from any other form secularism? I'm not pedantic, I have genuinely never had the distinction before.

I don't know. I think it's just often called that because the western culture post enlightenment holds secularism as a value (or it claims to)

Secondly, talk to any number of white nationalists to see what I was talking about with the Nazi comparison, (and by the way, I apologise for my use of the majority in that instance, it was complete hyperbola).

I think that White Nationalists and I hold our views for different reasons, and whilst I don't wish to appear too self-serving, I think my reasons are probably better. Apology accepted btw, I should apologise for my original post as well, as the mods pointed out, it was unnecessarily inflammatory.

You didn't made that clear in your post, and given the sentiment of the comment that you were arguing against, that being that the demonisation of Muslims isn't dissimilar to the Nazis scapegoating of the Jewish, it seemed reasonable to assume that your grievance lay with the followers as much as the belief. In regards to the judgement of a religion based on it's holy books, yes, I agree. I am an atheist and anti-theist, I just don't believe in the persecution of any religious group.

I would say we are in violent agreement there sir.

Habit was perhaps a poor choice of words, I said it was one of the most irritating things I'd seen on the internet, not this forum, although I did have an account on this forum a year or two ago which I did frequently post (and often embarrass myself) on.

I think we all embarrass ourselves here from time to time. It seems to be this forum more than most for me. Mostly due to size and level of anonymity I should imagine.

EDIT: Whoops, wrong thread for this post!

PromethianSpark:

Therumancer:
What's more a people cannot be judged by individuals within it, but by the people as a whole. A person (single) is fine, but a people, when they all get together and are taken as a whole, is something entirely different. This is the root of sociology, which is really the only way of dealing with or understanding things on a national or cultural level. Liberals, the peace at any price movement, and humanitarians like to try and focus on individuals and put a human face on problems, but that is ultimately counter productive in the large sense because what a person is like when approached in relative isolation as an individual, and what they are like when immersed with others of their own kind is entirely different. As much as people hate sociology in these arguments, it's the real deal and is exploited constantly by advertisers and similar sorts every day, and to great effect.

Having a degree in sociology, I feel I must come to the rescue of the discipline and tell you all frankly, that it can not be, and should not ever be used, to support stereotyping.

I have to question that because sociology by it's definition is to define entire groups of people and then predict trends by doings so. Individual variation being mild compared to what groups of people have in common. It is by definition the science of creating and exploiting stereotypes.

Now granted, you might not like the term "stereotype" due to it's negative connotations, but that is exactly what it is no matter how much you might want to talk around it. Both sociologists and psychologists wind up being hated, or at least disliked, because they take the magic out of being human, being able to predict, define, and alter human behavior, showing we're not quite as special or individual as we want to believe. You see this exploited every day.

As a result I have to question whether you have a degree in sociology or are trying to shoot me down for the sake of doing so, as you would be the first sociologist I've ever met (and I've met quite a few, as well as studied in when I was taking Criminal Justice, albeit with a fairly focused bent by it's nature) who has pretty much tried to dispute the very definition and purpose of the entire science.

Given that I've seen it clearly demonstrated to predict, define, and deal with criminal behaviors as well as explained in detail why someone going into Forensics like I was planning on doing should know this, how it works with corrections, and of course the philosophical arguments about morality vs. reality in terms of things like using sociology as a justification for profiling (ie in the USA morality outweights common sense, and thus we set policies based on potential exceptions rather than by the rule and letting the exceptions work themselves out via associated processes. In the process creating problems whereby we waste tons of money, time, and resources harassing everyone getting on a plane, rather than the groups which are known to present a security risk, in order to make a moral point about being fair).

But by all means, as an expert tell me how you define sociology, and why you think that it cannot be used here, but it can be exploited by advertisers to predict and exploit consumer behavior.

Unless of course what your trying to say is that it shouldn't be used, not that it can't be, and you flubbed in adding that.

Jedi-Hunter4:

You have kind of invalidated your whole point by using a topic you obviously only have popular culture references for, nobody is going to take you serious on as complex a topic as the 2000 year history of Christianity, it's development and interpretation by 100's of different sects. You have also made the mistake I see the vast majority of people making by taking the bible literally, I've made this point before, the bible is not written as a strait text, it is riddled with metaphors and symbolic stories, not all of it is meant to be taken literally, most forward thinking modern biblical scholars do not literally believe the story of Noah's ark, how thick do you think these people are? I don't think I have ever met a priest in fact that takes the stories like that literally. Any way back to the point it's a common misconception that Athens created the just kind of government we have today, they allowed people to vote, that's it. Also you had to be a Man, a Citizen and a Landowner.

- They also kept slaves (Who were beaten for crimes that would be a fine for a free man)
- Were undeniably Xenophobic for huge periods of their history with a few exceptions
- They had laws governing pederastic relationships (A romantic relationship between a Man and a boy restricted up to the point of sodomy)

They made a step forward in terms of the justice system but it was till far from fair by today's standards because of many of the laws they were enforcing.

When you produce some of the great classical heroes and Scholars people like to forget the legal pedophilia and slavery!

I could care less about the stories. I'm talking about the rules that people followed, and were allowed to follow. (Besides, it wasn't an attack on Christianity. I'm cool with Christians, by virtue of them not, as a whole, practicing slavery and the like. I was countering the claim that we should be allowed to judge Muslims because of what their holy book says, given the contents of most holy books.)

And I know very well that Athens was a crappy place to live, and by our standards was uncivilized, even barbaric. And yet, frustratingly enough, even the rudimentary progress they made hasn't caught on that well with some people.

Therumancer:

I have to question that because sociology by it's definition is to define entire groups of people and then predict trends by doings so. Individual variation being mild compared to what groups of people have in common. It is by definition the science of creating and exploiting stereotypes.

For someone versed in the quantitative analysis of human behaviour you seem to be excluding a few nuances:

1. Sample size
2. Survey methods
3. Qualitative analysis

Given how you claim you're trained in these methodological axioms I am indeed surprised you would forget them in this specific case.

Sure, sociology, like any science, is about generalising. Like any science, generalising from a small sample size is bad science. Unlike the hard sciences, however, it is hard to quantify a lot about human behaviour- much depends on your method of surveying, your paradigms, their paradigms, etc... etc... as you cannot simply perceive others' thoughts.

As someone famously said, there's a huge difference between what people say they do, and what they actually do. I would add that there is not only a difference between what people say they do and what they actually do, but also between what they say they do and what you say they do: Just because you did a study does not mean you are objective.

God, if it was that easy you'd think sociology as a discipline would agree on what it's supposed to be studying, and it can't even do that!

Sure, you need to generalise, but there is definitely such a thing as over-generalising, and over-simplifying, and combined they form stereotypes, which is exactly the point of the article. And these are of great epistemological and ontological importance for anyone who practices sociology.

~~~~

I do wonder why your first thought in response to an individual having a degree in sociology and disagreeing with you is to assume that they are lying.

You should wonder that to.

Azahul:

Therumancer:

At the end of the day, there is one basic metaculture present through "The Middle East" deriving from very similar interpetations of the Muslim faith.

This is kinda key to the entire argument here. This "basic metaculture" is impossible to define in any meaningful way. "The Middle East" is a region that means nothing in regards to making generalisations about the people that live in it. The fact that you believe otherwise is why the implementation of some of Rath's suggestions is so important.

For example, those links you posted? Two out of the four of them are from Al-Aqsa TV, from the same program no less. Produced by, you know, the state-television studio of Palestine, run by Hamas.

This is pretty much the gist of your point. I simply put up a few quick links in order to demonstrate the problem, but also pointed out that people who are interested can find quite a bit more if they wanted to. In short I started the trail of breadcrumbs, rather than presenting a few links as the entirety of an argument. I think we both know what you'll find if you were to start digging.

What's more you kind of made my own point for me here, this is after all state run TV networks, which are by an large what are defining the culture, and educating the children. This going on in regions where there aren't a whole lot of competing TV channels and such (though they do exist, including some outside ones). These kinds of broadcasts are how you get kids (as per another video) training to be terrorists and suicide troops from a very early age. The state largely controls the information and education, and uses it to control the culture. The whole "get them while they're young" so you can turn them into whatever you want is a very old strategy, and shouldn't surprise anyone.

Now, to be fair, you are correct that the problem does come down to leadership both in terms of clergy and theocrats reaching out to groups like Sunnis and Shiites, to royals who want to keep their people poor and ignorant while they take almost all the money made from their nations for themselves, to "political parties" like Hamas. The sources are different, but at the end of the day it comes down to promoted violent hatred of outsiders, whether it's Jews and Americans, The Western World in general, or simply a message of the supremacy and destiny of all Muslims, it all goes
to the same basic place. There is plenty of infighting through the region between groups that hate each other, but as a general rule a threat from outsiders is one of the things that can unite them, at least for a time due to the similarities in doctrine. The Sunnis and Shiites might be fighting over Syria right now, but that doesn't mean either side is progressive or truly friendly to western interests.

On a fundamental level you are correct that the problem is the leadership, but at the same time the nature of the problem is one where the poison is so deep that simply removing the leadership is not going to change the people due to the way they are conditioned. Sort of like how our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq lead to both nations still defining themselves under religious law, and our objectives to do things like liberate women in the region failed, because at the end of the day the people might have hated the leadership, but embraced a lot of the cultural principles that had been drilled into them over generations.

We took out Saddam, a lot of people felt that would solve the problems in the region. It didn't, because at the end of the day he was only part of the problem. Women we send there still have to make a show of deferring to men in meetings, liberation failed, the place is still under Islamic rule which means the door isn't even open for progress on subjects like that given what the religion says. We removed the Sunnis, put the Shiite majority in power, and at the end of the day it was pretty much the same.

Now, I get why you and others don't like the points I'm making, and like many discussions I've been in here, it's rapidly getting to the point where there isn't much more that can be said, so I'm probably going to drop it before too long (I have no need for the last word). In the end my basic point here is that I do not think video games and popular culture have been particularly unfair to muslims as far as portrayals go. It might not be flattered, but it's not entirely untrue. What's more when you look at the America/Right Wing bashing involved in games like "Bioshock" (pretty much all of them) and other games where we portray ourselves as the bad guys and shine a light of judgement on ourselves, I don't quite think there is much room for complaint, we are our own harshest critics and take that way too far beyond anything else. Overall when you have huge mobs of people attacking embassies over internet movie trailers, claiming fundamental cultural affront, and standing threats against anyone who draws a picture of Muhammad (leading to the "Draw Muhammad day thing on the Internet"), it's pretty obvious how they earned their place as the bad guy in video games. Metacultural examination just takes it beyond that.

To be honest, if The Muslim World chills out and changes, their portrayal in the media will as well. Albiet this will likely take decades. Slow changes that are pretty much unnoticeable to the people they effect aren't particularly relevant to this kind of thing. Try making it so outside female authority figures don't have to defer to men in the region, put a separation of church and state into the constitutions (which does not mean getting rid of religion entirely), and let a few decades go by where we don't have nations like Iran playing with nuclear technology, or
attacks on embassies, and similar things. That said, my points about the media and the metaculture are pretty much pointing out why things are the way they are, and why such changes are unlikely. I do not hate Arabs or Islamics, I judge them entirely by their behavior as a group and what is going on, and this is exactly what things like video games are doing as well... if the US military gets into a pitched firefight nowadays, who is it likely to be with? Muslims are one of the most likely groups... video games trying to have a grounding of reality cannot be blamed for how things simply are.

Lightknight:

Azahul:
You're looking at this as if Muslims are going to have a universal religious justification for how they feel about 9/11. They're not, and this is part of Rath's article's point. There is a lot of bad feeling towards the United States in the Middle East, but very little of this is anything to do with religion directly. It's almost invariably down to political or cultural roots. The US's involvement in the Middle East has not been terribly positive for most people there, and you are much better off looking into the history of that involvement to find out why there's so much ill-feeling rather than trying to figure out how they justify it on a religious basis. A lot of Christian Americans thought killing Osama Bin Laden was a great thing, despite the fact that it hardly fulfills the principle of turning the other cheek. You'll note that only a small minority thought the attack was fully justified. Honestly, I can see, really very easily, how I myself would fall into that grey between fully justified and unjustified. It was a horrific act... the US, the UK, and so many other countries in the "civilised" West have undertaken horrific acts that similarly targeted civilians, but on a scale made so much larger thanks to their access to bigger and better weapons. Violence is never the correct action, but I can see how that act could be seen as an act of retaliation from one side, rather than an unprovoked act of terror as the US sees it.

No, I'm not looking at this as if they have a universal religious justification for it. I've already explicitely stated that the Qur`an and hadiths are anti-murder of non-combatants. I'm not sure how any of this explains how nearly half of the Muslims interviewed felt that there was some kind of justification for the 9/11 attack on non-combatants. Muslims aren't just Islamists. It's also often referring the people group residing in Islamic or even just Arabic nations. Such a definition is historically and linguistically acceptable. If a significant number of people believe that the murder of thousands of non-combatants on 9/11 had even some kind of justification (let alone the 7% that believed in total justification, which was more than the 1% of Muslims the video claimed were extremists), we've got a problem. I knew we had a problem, but I had no idea that it was THAT bad. I thought we'd see a much more significant number of Muslims saying that the attack was not justifiable because they weren't people attacking Muslims.

[.

To be honest with you, the number here is probably close to 90% of people in the Muslim metaculture supporting the 9/11 attacks when they happened. Time has separated people from the reality of the occurance. When 9-11 happened we did not immediately know who attacked us, in fact one of the first criticisms faced by the government was how the federal government had pretty much dismantled our intelligence services. We were acting almost entirely off of foreign intel since nobody was reliably taking credit for it. However at the time, we had our suspicians about who it could be in the region and we had the media covering The Middle East heavily while this was going on, and we had people literally pouring into the streets cheering for the blow against "The Great Western Satan" this included places like Saudi Arabia and Kuwaite, it was a bloody mardi gras down there across a huge number of nations. We actually suspected Saddam might have done it for a bit because he was one of the more obnoxious guys down there, showing the crash again and again while playing patriotic music, more or less trying to take credit for it without saying he did it. When we finally DID get a name and organization, a huge amount of effort was spent trying to tie Bin Ladin and Saddam together, which turned out to be impossible, because they were not directly allied, although they did respect each other's work (Bin Ladin called Saddam a "good Muslim" in one of his videos).

Prior to our invasion of Afghanistan mostly what we got from the region was a bunch of smack talking because nobody believed we'd actually invade. Mullah Omar pretty much turned us away in the most insulting manner possible, despite the fact that he should have been a US ally given American support of The Taliban during their civil war. Interviews with the man on the street were all about how much butt they were going to kick and how much they hated the US, pretty much saying "hey, we won't greet you with song and flowers, we'll greet you with bombs and bullets... you got what you deserved" and similar things like that.

The people speaking out against 9/11 tended to mostly be muslims outside of the regional metaculture, especially given the rising backlash of violence that immediately took place with people doing things like driving trucks through Mosques and such here in the US (there were a few incidents).

When we actually invaded, a lot of attitudes changed. Simply put the people realize playing to the media is their most effective recourse. This is why I point out that you can't really base reaction or opinions based on information gathered when you have a gun to their head. The US has a huge amount of forces in the region, if we just wanted to wipe everyone out we could do it, and they know that, obviously they aren't going to antagonize us in the media when they want the people of the US to pressure the government to remove the troops.

Now, I know a lot of people are going to get upset with what I've said here, but I'll be blunt in saying that the Muslim reaction to 9/11 effected in me in some rather profound ways in how I view them. Today people think of dead soldiers, dead children, and demolished buildings. I remember people partying in the streets at our misfortune. I remember the smack that was said from almost all sides in the region before we actually landed troops.

The point here is that getting people to come out and party in the middle of streets over anything is rough, you just don't generally see it outside of movies. We did see it there though, as an international/meta-cultural phenomena. Whether the number is actually 90% or not (that's actually just a guess from how it looked and was reported) the bottom line is that I treat any kind of suggestion that 9/11 and anti-western sentiment is from a small minority, or even estimates like 50%.

If some people wonder why I'm such an extremist at times, well, this is why. A lot of people forget, I didn't. I remember the reactions at the time, it just didn't stay, memories faded, but the problem didn't. Hey, give them credit, the guys running out into the streets to party were intended to scare me, as Bush put it "Mission Accomplished". Now they reap the "benefits" of doing so. I just kind of wish more people really remembered.

Danny Ocean:

Therumancer:

I have to question that because sociology by it's definition is to define entire groups of people and then predict trends by doings so. Individual variation being mild compared to what groups of people have in common. It is by definition the science of creating and exploiting stereotypes.

For someone versed in the quantitative analysis of human behaviour you seem to be excluding a few nuances:

1. Sample size
2. Survey methods
3. Qualitative analysis

Given how you claim you're trained in these methodological axioms I am indeed surprised you would forget them in this specific case.

Sure, sociology, like any science, is about generalising. Like any science, generalising from a small sample size is bad science. Unlike the hard sciences, however, it is hard to quantify a lot about human behaviour- much depends on your method of surveying, your paradigms, their paradigms, etc... etc... as you cannot simply perceive others' thoughts.

As someone famously said, there's a huge difference between what people say they do, and what they actually do. I would add that there is not only a difference between what people say they do and what they actually do, but also between what they say they do and what you say they do: Just because you did a study does not mean you are objective.

God, if it was that easy you'd think sociology as a discipline would agree on what it's supposed to be studying, and it can't even do that!

Sure, you need to generalise, but there is definitely such a thing as over-generalising, and over-simplifying, and combined they form stereotypes, which is exactly the point of the article. And these are of great epistemological and ontological importance for anyone who practices sociology.

~~~~

I do wonder why your first thought in response to an individual having a degree in sociology and disagreeing with you is to assume that they are lying.

You should wonder that to.

I don't wonder. It's not because you disagreed with me, it's because you seemingly did so by making declarations about the nature of sociology which were contrary to the entire nature of the science. It's like someone claiming to be a world class chef but then saying "well, cooking doesn't involve food" or something similar.

Right now your response is a little more sensible, and what you should have written to begin with. To which I respond by simply pointing out that the situation with The Muslim World has been a big deal for a long time now, you've had tons of people analyzing it for a prolonged period, it's not like it's some obscure thing. In this case it's relatively easy to work with because your dealing with very obvious trends, a civilization where people value dogma to the point where they fill the streets with speakers and in many places will come running out by the tens of thousands to kneel together and pray at specific times.. as an example. Sure in these regions you might have a handful of people that don't, but they represent an exception and the trend itself can be easily noticed, predicted, etc as well as what values go along with someone willing to alter their lives to the point of doing something like this. We're not dealing with a lot of deep, dark, sercrets. It's not like I'm claiming to know what goes on inside The Forbidden City in ancient China when it was still closed to pretty much everyone, or whatever else.

In general the data isn't in question with this region, it's mostly a question of what to do with it, which largely becomes a moral argument.

In the context of this discussion it comes down to whether or not Muslims are being treated unfairly in video games and other media. To which my statement (and it's support) is pretty much 'no'. After all, when your dealing with something like a FPS game trying to ground itself in reality, who is the US military likely to wind up fighting? Right now, Muslims are one of the big groups. What do those Muslims look and act like? Ditto. The region and metaculture are
what they are, there is nothing wrong with pretty much telling it like it is.

Now yes, if 9/11 had happened in isolation, and we weren't still seeing these kinds of incidents, attacks on embassies over internet movie trailers, the TV programs and such I liked (which were a small sampling) and so on, it would be unfair. Unfortunatly that's not the case, the actual (meta)culture and incidents fuel the fiction, especially when that fiction is trying to ground itself in reality and show the real kinds of groups and behaviors American Soldiers wind up doing the "exciting stuff" against.

First off, seriously disappointed that you didn't provide any info on Iraq hiding troops in Iran. Would you mind? I'm honestly intrigued and I haven't been able to turn up anything on it myself. I'm honestly a lot more intrigued to see that information than continue this argument, since you've made it clear in a few of your latest posts that this is a deeply personal topic for you with a lot of ingrained emotions, so you're never going to change your mind.

Still, I do feel that your posts deserve a response, so here we go:

Therumancer:

This is pretty much the gist of your point. I simply put up a few quick links in order to demonstrate the problem, but also pointed out that people who are interested can find quite a bit more if they wanted to. In short I started the trail of breadcrumbs, rather than presenting a few links as the entirety of an argument. I think we both know what you'll find if you were to start digging.

What's more you kind of made my own point for me here, this is after all state run TV networks, which are by an large what are defining the culture, and educating the children. This going on in regions where there aren't a whole lot of competing TV channels and such (though they do exist, including some outside ones). These kinds of broadcasts are how you get kids (as per another video) training to be terrorists and suicide troops from a very early age. The state largely controls the information and education, and uses it to control the culture. The whole "get them while they're young" so you can turn them into whatever you want is a very old strategy, and shouldn't surprise anyone.

Frankly, I feel like you made my point for me. This is what one state, a state in a highly unique situation does. You presenting a lot of examples from a single region doesn't really provide evidence of universal "Muslim metaculture" in this respect. That was the point I was making. The Middle East and the world of Islam is a very complicated subject, and you're doing it a disservice by trying to render it down to all being the same as a Hamas television show. Individual states display problems, and sure, if you go and look for them you'll find some nasty stuff. But it will never be indicative of any kind of majority.

Therumancer:

Now, to be fair, you are correct that the problem does come down to leadership both in terms of clergy and theocrats reaching out to groups like Sunnis and Shiites, to royals who want to keep their people poor and ignorant while they take almost all the money made from their nations for themselves, to "political parties" like Hamas. The sources are different, but at the end of the day it comes down to promoted violent hatred of outsiders, whether it's Jews and Americans, The Western World in general, or simply a message of the supremacy and destiny of all Muslims, it all goes
to the same basic place. There is plenty of infighting through the region between groups that hate each other, but as a general rule a threat from outsiders is one of the things that can unite them, at least for a time due to the similarities in doctrine. The Sunnis and Shiites might be fighting over Syria right now, but that doesn't mean either side is progressive or truly friendly to western interests.

On a fundamental level you are correct that the problem is the leadership, but at the same time the nature of the problem is one where the poison is so deep that simply removing the leadership is not going to change the people due to the way they are conditioned. Sort of like how our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq lead to both nations still defining themselves under religious law, and our objectives to do things like liberate women in the region failed, because at the end of the day the people might have hated the leadership, but embraced a lot of the cultural principles that had been drilled into them over generations.

We took out Saddam, a lot of people felt that would solve the problems in the region. It didn't, because at the end of the day he was only part of the problem. Women we send there still have to make a show of deferring to men in meetings, liberation failed, the place is still under Islamic rule which means the door isn't even open for progress on subjects like that given what the religion says. We removed the Sunnis, put the Shiite majority in power, and at the end of the day it was pretty much the same.

I... wouldn't say that. Iraq doesn't have a genocidal military trying to stamp out the Kurds anymore. That's not exactly "pretty much the same". And change is slow. It took Western women decades to reach the level of equality they have now, and we're still living in a society divided in many areas along gender lines. I think it's a tad unfair to expect a developing country like Iraq to just immediately conform to all our secular western values because we killed their old leader.

And then there's just the fact that we're talking about Iraq. Iraq is one of the West's biggest blunders in the region. It has a long and gruesome history of being smacked around by Western powers. Heck, it was pretty much created by just plopping some lines down on a map and saying "there, that's a country now", without paying any attention to the fact that they were cutting tribal groups in half and bundling a lot of disparate tribes and cultures into one region with no regard to whether or not they actually had a unified identity. Even this "Shiite majority" currently in power in Iraq is fractured and divided, more along cultural than religious lines. If you're going to generalise about the country, have the decency to go a bit further than just saying that the situation is the same as under Hussein.

Therumancer:

Now, I get why you and others don't like the points I'm making, and like many discussions I've been in here, it's rapidly getting to the point where there isn't much more that can be said, so I'm probably going to drop it before too long (I have no need for the last word). In the end my basic point here is that I do not think video games and popular culture have been particularly unfair to muslims as far as portrayals go. It might not be flattered, but it's not entirely untrue. What's more when you look at the America/Right Wing bashing involved in games like "Bioshock" (pretty much all of them) and other games where we portray ourselves as the bad guys and shine a light of judgement on ourselves, I don't quite think there is much room for complaint, we are our own harshest critics and take that way too far beyond anything else. Overall when you have huge mobs of people attacking embassies over internet movie trailers, claiming fundamental cultural affront, and standing threats against anyone who draws a picture of Muhammad (leading to the "Draw Muhammad day thing on the Internet"), it's pretty obvious how they earned their place as the bad guy in video games. Metacultural examination just takes it beyond that.

This is one of Rath's points. He's not saying you can't have Muslim bad guys. But if you're going to be making "realistic" games, make the people in it realistic as well. The point about interpreters is perfect. They're embedded into military units, and it's flat out weird watching games be made with all the emphasis on capturing realistic weapons without going to any effort to capture how the people that use those weapons work. We can't fight the wars we're currently fighting against Muslim extremists without the help of Muslim allies. And yet, if you look at the way the war is usually portrayed, you almost never get that impression.

Therumancer:

To be honest, if The Muslim World chills out and changes, their portrayal in the media will as well. Albiet this will likely take decades. Slow changes that are pretty much unnoticeable to the people they effect aren't particularly relevant to this kind of thing. Try making it so outside female authority figures don't have to defer to men in the region, put a separation of church and state into the constitutions (which does not mean getting rid of religion entirely), and let a few decades go by where we don't have nations like Iran playing with nuclear technology, or
attacks on embassies, and similar things. That said, my points about the media and the metaculture are pretty much pointing out why things are the way they are, and why such changes are unlikely. I do not hate Arabs or Islamics, I judge them entirely by their behavior as a group and what is going on, and this is exactly what things like video games are doing as well... if the US military gets into a pitched firefight nowadays, who is it likely to be with? Muslims are one of the most likely groups... video games trying to have a grounding of reality cannot be blamed for how things simply are.

Ah yes, "the Muslim World". I've made my point on your use of this term over and over again, so I'll take a different tact. If we're going to talk big and make broad, sweeping generalisations, let's talk about the biggest part of the Muslim World, shall we? So, how do you suggest Indonesia "chill out and change"? Because, to be honest, I find it baffling that the single largest Muslim population on the planet has almost no presence in any Western media that I can think of.

I'm being perhaps a little facetious there, but you get the point. Indonesia is a huge deal, but you don't seem to be referring to it with this "metaculture". Possibly because it doesn't conform to a lot of the stereotypes you've been tossing around. And yet something like 15% of all Muslims live in the country. This is what I'm saying. The Muslim world is not being portrayed in media in a way that reflects its reality. In video games, all we really get are terrorists to kill. They're invariably Middle Eastern, of some undefined sect (which leads to the assumption that they're "generic" Muslims, a frankly horrifying thought), and always hostile. This is not fair. It's not an accurate depiction of reality. And I honestly can't see why people would think this is not a bad thing.

Lightknight:
No, I'm not looking at this as if they have a universal religious justification for it. I've already explicitely stated that the Qur`an and hadiths are anti-murder of non-combatants. I'm not sure how any of this explains how nearly half of the Muslims interviewed felt that there was some kind of justification for the 9/11 attack on non-combatants. Muslims aren't just Islamists. It's also often referring the people group residing in Islamic or even just Arabic nations. Such a definition is historically and linguistically acceptable. If a significant number of people believe that the murder of thousands of non-combatants on 9/11 had even some kind of justification (let alone the 7% that believed in total justification, which was more than the 1% of Muslims the video claimed were extremists), we've got a problem. I knew we had a problem, but I had no idea that it was THAT bad. I thought we'd see a much more significant number of Muslims saying that the attack was not justifiable because they weren't people attacking Muslims.

The grey area is easy. The US often seems to forget that 9/11 was not an unprovoked act. Outside of the 7% that hold it as completely justified, you have a lot of very angry people across, well, the entire world when it comes to the US. In the Middle East, you have several prior invasions and the backing of groups like the Taliban and individuals like Saddam Hussein. And across the world you have all those problems with cultural imperialism and American companies running rampant. I'm, frankly, impressed at the 55% calling it unjustified.

It side steps cultural differences of what qualificatied may mean. Especially in cultures where gender may automatically disqualify you. In the US, we have the luxury of thinking that being qualified means that you can do the job. In those countries, qualifications include being the right gender for the job. In countries like Saudi Arabia where it's not even permissable for a woman to leave her house without a male escort and where other men look straight through women without answering their questions as if they're not there (out of some kind of cultural "respect), women would not be qualified in any job that requires interaction with men. That's kind of a lot of jobs. Imagine that you're a store owner and your nation that that ridiculous practice. Can you afford to hire a women at the register when it men can't even acknowledge her existence? Fortunately, Saudi Arabia is kinda the gold standard of repressing women is concerned. But this mindset isn't only there.

I... really don't think that was the intention. "Qualified" seems to pretty clearly mean in the sense that a potential worker has the correct education and experience, and I think you're rather underestimating the intelligence of any interviewees that think that it's ok to answer "Yes" to that question while still holding the view that women are unqualified due to their gender.

Lumping them all together? You mean explaining mainstream beliefs? I'm sorry, but I can't account for every individual when talking about the group as a whole. I'm explaining the mainstream beliefs and practices of 90% of the faith. Their tenents come from two sources, as I said, the Qur`an and the school of law they adhere to. So any verse in the Qur`an can be generally applied to any Islamic denomination but the specific authoritative hadiths and interpretation of those hadiths can vary. For example. Shi`ites do not have verses forbidding icons. As such, a Shi`ite mosque may even have images of the Prophet on display. So they're not iconoclasts and usually wouldn't be responsible for destorying ancient artifacts. The Sunnis, however, are clearly commanded to destroy such items by their hadiths. Remember, the Sunni faith makes up approximately 75-85% of the entire Islamic faith. Shi`ites come in at around 10-15% with all the other groups scrambing around for what is 15% at most.

Because of this, we can generally define what they believe and when nations are under Sharia law, we can explain why certain actions are taken. The same way we can explain the basic tenents of specific Christian denominations is why we can define the beliefs of adherrents to specific schools of Sharia law. The beliefs are well defined. Don't

Please tell me how you'd interpret specific examples:

Beating one's wife as the third response to disobedience.
Qur`an 4:34 "Men are overseers over women, by reason of that wherewith Allah hath made one of them excel over another, and by reason of that which they expend of their substance. Wherefore righteous women are obedient, and are watchers in husbands absence by the aid and protection of Allah. And those wives whose refractoriness ye fear, exhort them, and avoid them in beds, and beat them; but if they obey you, seek not a way against them; verily Allah is ever Lofty, Grand."

Marrying and even consumating with prepubescent females is permissable through the well-known account (hadith) of Muhammad marrying his wife, Aisha. But there is even a specific amount of time that a man has to wait before marrying and consummating a prepubescent girl after her previous husband has died or divorced her. The time is three months. Qur`an 65:4

Men can have sex with prisoners of war: Qur`an 33:50

A woman's testimony in court is half that of a man's. Qur'an 2:282

Here's the big controversial one:

"Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection." Qur'an 9:29

If 90% of Muslims follow these "core beliefs" to the letter, then in the years I've spent in the Middle East and South East Asia I've managed to only encounter that final 10%. And that's not true. These beliefs exist, yes, and they're written down in the holy books, but they're not followed in just the same way Christians don't tend to follow ideas like women being made to serve men.

I know exactly how I interpret each example. As kooky laws written down centuries ago in a different time and culture, laws that aren't applicable today. And I don't know very many Muslims that agree with any of them. And I'm not even sure what your point is here. Beliefs written in a holy book are not indicative of cultural homogeneity. Christians in sub-Saharan Africa are different from Christians in Romania and different again from Christians in the USA. Christians in any of these regions are hardly identical in their beliefs as well. Muslims are exactly the same.

For goodness sake, I feel like I'm talking in circles. The article is saying that we don't represent Muslims in a way that accurately depicts the reality. Given that we almost only depict Muslims as terrorists in our video games, there's no way Rath can really be wrong in that respect. No one is saying that there aren't deeply embedded problems in a lot of Islamic cultures. What is wrong is presenting these cultures as all the same, with the same beliefs, and that's all I'm trying to argue.

Those who have been given the Book are Christians, Jews, and Muslims. This is one of several reasons why Christians and Jews were treated kindly under Muslim rule except for the taxes and discrimination imposed on them for not being Muslim. However, treatment of religions not considered to be part of the group that has recieved the "Book" is considerably worse. Unfortunately, Americans who are not familiar with the children of the Book in Islamic culture would see this verse as being against all religions that aren't Muslim. That's not the case. There are also other verses that demand peace or treaty with groups that do not attack Muslims as well as a mandate to spread the faith through righteous conquering of nations. So there's some considerable conflict here ant there. either way, I believe that attacks on non-combatants is not condoned. I'm sure Muslims died in 9/11 too. Bombs take away the ability to distinguish which are legitimate targets and which are not.

These verses wouldn't matter much except that Muslims are theonomistic. Meaning their religious laws are valid and to be imposed not only by the government but by individuals. Combined with a mandate to spread that law to others and we've got trouble. Judaism is practically the same but the mandate is generally contained within their borders.

This is by no means a universal reality. It certainly isn't universally followed or believed. It's only even fully practiced in a bare handful of countries, and even famous examples like Iran do not follow their religious dogma in law exactly.

I'm not sure what the problem is here. This is a scholarly understanding of things. I'm not saying that all Muslims believe and follow the tenents of their religion. I am saying that this is what their various denominations teach.

Right, I'm cutting up this paragraph because I think it's critical to our disagreement here. You are correct in that, theoretically, this is supposed to be what the denominations teach. The reality is that even preachers rarely teach a lot of the examples you cited, and the reality for individual Muslims and their beliefs vary dramatically. And above all, if it isn't what Muslims actually believe, it's fundamentally irrelevant. What's the point in harping on about something as indicative of a culture if the majority of that culture doesn't believe in it?

As such, these are mainstream beliefs and often national laws regardless of individual actions. There is a difference between understanding that these are the mainstream beliefs vs projecting these beliefs onto every individual. I have personally met damn nice Muslims who would not harm a hair on my head. Hospitality is also a big thing over there. The best I can do is judge individuals for who they are and what they do. But right now I'm judging the religion itself and this is what it teaches.

I really don't think you are. You're judging an imaginary religion that only exists within the Western psyche as a result of what the media has presented to us. Islam as this monolithic entity divided into only two big sects (Shiite and Sunni) all believing in those fundamental precepts you laid out is nothing more than a myth. Actually go and explore the culture sometime. It is a lot of fun, eye-opening, and will hopefully rid you of this misconception that modern Muslims still act like medieval Christians.

I believe that you are mistaking my explaination and defining of mainstreams beliefs as if I'm saying this is what all Muslims everywhere believe and practice. That's not the case.

Not exactly. I'm taking exception to you calling them "mainstream beliefs", when the reality is so much more complicated and convoluted.

I don't know if this has been mentioned in the comments (I had to stop reading them because they were making me sad) But Crusader Kings 2 treats Muslims as a culturally and religiously diverse group.

Yes if you're a Christian ruler then Muslims are likely going to be a perpetual enemy as Crusades and Jihads start getting declared (you don't have to participate in these wars but you gain prestige, gold and possibly land if you do).

However if you play as a Muslim ruler you realise they're similar mechanically to Christians. If you're an Egyptian Shiite and Inherit/Conquer Culturally Levantine, Sunni Palestine. Your new subjects aren't going to take kindly to a foreigner and a heathen ruling over them.

It's depiction probably isn't perfect but it's about as nuanced as I've ever seen a game depict Muslims so it's something at least.

Sharpiez:
OT: I think the original article is pretty on point. We're not senseless killing machines. There are 1 billion plus Muslims in the world, if we were all like that how long do you think something like this would last?
-
Additionally (EDIT): I'm calling B.S. on not ostracising or rejecting the extremists. The Boston bombers were ostracised and rejected from their local mosque for their extremist views, and I personally distance myself from anyone with that mindset (as I do for anyone with a fundamentalist Christian mindset) as well.

So you are not senseless killing machines? Then why is there no unified voice from the other Muslims who condemn the actions of the extremists? Also you point out that you are calling 'b.s.' on the part that they did not condemn the attacks. I believe that the last statement is an opinion, because there is no viable proof that supports your statement.

And as for the 'they were rejected by their own mosque' part... well, that's only the views of the Mosque they were in. Again no collection of Mosques world wide who reject extremists for their actions.

Also, regarding your 'well they have bad text in other religious books' remark... stop pointing at other (silly) religions who are light-years ahead of your narrow-minded religion, who's apparently still in it's infancy stages (and probably will not reach maturity at this rate)

You also point out that there are different kind of Muslims in different countries. Which I find to be a slippery slope considering it's one step away of racism. But luckily, as you pointed out yourself that you are speaking on a personal level so, slide away. If that gets you out of bed in the morning, go for it.

Therumancer:

PromethianSpark:

Therumancer:
What's more a people cannot be judged by individuals within it, but by the people as a whole. A person (single) is fine, but a people, when they all get together and are taken as a whole, is something entirely different. This is the root of sociology, which is really the only way of dealing with or understanding things on a national or cultural level. Liberals, the peace at any price movement, and humanitarians like to try and focus on individuals and put a human face on problems, but that is ultimately counter productive in the large sense because what a person is like when approached in relative isolation as an individual, and what they are like when immersed with others of their own kind is entirely different. As much as people hate sociology in these arguments, it's the real deal and is exploited constantly by advertisers and similar sorts every day, and to great effect.

Having a degree in sociology, I feel I must come to the rescue of the discipline and tell you all frankly, that it can not be, and should not ever be used, to support stereotyping.

I have to question that because sociology by it's definition is to define entire groups of people and then predict trends by doings so. Individual variation being mild compared to what groups of people have in common. It is by definition the science of creating and exploiting stereotypes.

Now granted, you might not like the term "stereotype" due to it's negative connotations, but that is exactly what it is no matter how much you might want to talk around it. Both sociologists and psychologists wind up being hated, or at least disliked, because they take the magic out of being human, being able to predict, define, and alter human behavior, showing we're not quite as special or individual as we want to believe. You see this exploited every day.

As a result I have to question whether you have a degree in sociology or are trying to shoot me down for the sake of doing so, as you would be the first sociologist I've ever met (and I've met quite a few, as well as studied in when I was taking Criminal Justice, albeit with a fairly focused bent by it's nature) who has pretty much tried to dispute the very definition and purpose of the entire science.

Given that I've seen it clearly demonstrated to predict, define, and deal with criminal behaviors as well as explained in detail why someone going into Forensics like I was planning on doing should know this, how it works with corrections, and of course the philosophical arguments about morality vs. reality in terms of things like using sociology as a justification for profiling (ie in the USA morality outweights common sense, and thus we set policies based on potential exceptions rather than by the rule and letting the exceptions work themselves out via associated processes. In the process creating problems whereby we waste tons of money, time, and resources harassing everyone getting on a plane, rather than the groups which are known to present a security risk, in order to make a moral point about being fair).

But by all means, as an expert tell me how you define sociology, and why you think that it cannot be used here, but it can be exploited by advertisers to predict and exploit consumer behavior.

Unless of course what your trying to say is that it shouldn't be used, not that it can't be, and you flubbed in adding that.

Well, I happen to specialise in the sociology of Northern Ireland, and I can tell you with certainty that those working in that area spent a great deal of time dispensing with theories that tend to depict two homogeneous monolithic groups, the catholics and the protestants etc. The problem with approaches like that is that they tend to be too simplistic to have any explanatory value beyond conventional wisdom. Life just isn't that simple.

As for the question of what sociology is, this is not an easy thing to answer, considering that sociologist often ask themselves the same thing. It doesn't help that their are different answers. There is a divide within the discipline which is in many ways centred around the issue of whether sociology is actually a science. Sure there are the 'structuralists' (for want of a better word) who believe that it is, and that the scientific method is applicable to society or culture, and there are the humanists who don't. Structuralist however, can rarely tell you anything that you don't already know, and tend to make generalisations. They often yield in the end to the more nuanced pictures of how things work which emerge from the more humanistic sociologists.

In general, I would say that sociology is more concerned with understanding society/culture, than it is in ascertaining any rigid laws like science. It has very little predictive value in the end, and can not be used to model the future of our society. In the end, it tends to be more of a political project, as it is a vehicle for criticizing society, and attempting to influence it. In that sense, rejecting stereotypes is very much the business of sociology.

Now it should be noted, that I have rather crudely simplified and misrepresented the divide in sociology, but this is due to being lazy. As with anything it is complicated. Suffice to say, it is not just a matter of structuralist and humanists, but you get the idea.

Chaosritter:

Falterfire:
Most Muslims aren't exactly on board with the idea of murderizing anybody who isn't Muslim, no matter what their holy book says.

You haven't been following the news in recent months, have you? In all countries of the "Arab Spring", all non-muslims must fear for their lifes. Foreigners and non-muslims get abducted, tortured, persecuted or outright executed on sight. All in the name of Allah. I could post some videos, but that'd get me insta-banned.

You realize thats a common thing for most humans, right? Theres always a fundamentalist vein to society, and when a country is falling apart around people, you bet a large portion of those people are going to join the "Get those foreigners out of our sacred homeland" party and then scapegoat whatever they can for the problem because people like easy answers.

Its not exactly exclusive to Muslim countries lol, just look at the U.S. or any number of European countries ATM.

Damn, just look at how some vocal Europeans viewed others in the middle ages and at the age of discovery, the "Foreign hordes" mentality :/

Im not saying its right, but I'm saying its stupid to blame it entirely on one group, and then say "LOOK EVERYONE WHO FOLLOWS THAT RELIGION IS LIKE THAT" and deny that good folks exist there too, and also ignore how nearly every other society does that too.

Well that was a heavy subject to just comb over with some basic common sense.
I don't really support the idea that anything needs to be "fixed". This is the same trite crap we've been hearing for a couple of years now, with sexism in gaming, religion in gaming, sexuality in gaming and so on.

You don't "fix" peoples opinions by making politically correct games. In general, even thinking that's possible is massively arrogant.

If someone wants to make a positive muslim experience in a game, that might get people to read up on the subject or ask the people around them, then that's all it takes to bring a little good into this world.

As for this "you're white, straight, middle class, so you should feel bad for everyone else and take responsibility" bullshit mentality, it just needs to stop. If a middle-eastern takes offense at Game of Thrones, that's his problem.

As for the "deceitful merchants", ever been to Egyptian tourist traps? Greedy, greasy, sleazy and dishonest doesn't even begin to cover the kind of shit-peddling assholes you'll come across. If you want to change that image, try starting with the real world and start taking care of the people there.
Thinking that entertainment and media will do anything for them or the image that these countries give off, is the same as "liking" a post to cure cancer.

AldUK:
I really hope I don't get warned for this post, but I just have to say after reading this, that most of the stereotypes have some grounding in reality. But it's the same for everyone, no matter where you're from. Also, the muslim religion specifically states that followers should convert all non-muslims with refusal meaning death. There's no misinterpretation there, look in the Koran and you can read it for yourself. Should we really, truthfully be tolerant of a religion that wants to kill anyone who isn't a part of it?

What the Koran says ≠ how most Muslims actually behave. If you really think most Muslims have any inclination or desire to kill non-Muslims, then it's clear you haven't talked to very many. My family has a long time Muslim friend. She married a Catholic man, I was the flower girl at her wedding in Turkey, they now have a son, we've gone to Disney World together...really, you need to meet more people before judging them. Neither religion nor people are that simple.

Just look at todays world. Sunni muslims are still killing Shia muslims because they both believe different people become messiah after mohammed died. Thing is, if they cant be tolerant and peaceful and accepting of their own religion, how can western people expect them to accept and be peaceful of us? Fact is, Islam is a violent religion that isnt tolerant and is a danger to world peace. Yes, not all muslims are violent, and being from the UK many are meet are awesome. But in the middle east, its kicking off and could lead to a major sunni/shia war.

Blitzwing:
snip

Well the big christian hanchos at least acknowledge their religion fucked up royal and apologized for it.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0003/12/sm.06.html

Miles, Pope John Paul II put it this way, "We forgive and we ask forgiveness." And with that, he led church leaders and followers in sweeping confession, seeking repentance for sins that may have been committed over the past 2,000 years in the name of the church.

They fell into seven general categories of wrongs which include, without being too specific, everything from the Crusades to the Inquisition, the forced conversions, to sins against women and anti- Jewish acts. It was a first for the church, which has only rarely and only in specific instances confessed errors in the past.

Edit: then again christian radicals arent bombing dozens of people daily these days...

Azahul:

Ah yes, "the Muslim World". I've made my point on your use of this term over and over again, so I'll take a different tact. If we're going to talk big and make broad, sweeping generalisations, let's talk about the biggest part of the Muslim World, shall we? So, how do you suggest Indonesia "chill out and change"? Because, to be honest, I find it baffling that the single largest Muslim population on the planet has almost no presence in any Western media that I can think of.

To be fair, the single largest area of the Western World, Latin America, gets arse-all presence in Al Jazeera and such either, despite a massive population of a smidgen under 600 million, larger than the population of America or the EU. This would be because Latin America doesn't really do much outside their own area, at least enough to garner much attention, similar to Indonesia. Both areas, though certainly Western and Muslim in outlook, have significant differences to their parent cultures that make the way they interact with others quite distinct.

Blitzwing:
Because that's not their job, do you see all Christians coming out against the people that kill abortion doctors? If they aren't expected to come together in some unified front then why should Islam and anyway what would it accomplish? It would just be some pathetic show to shut bigots like you up.

Wow, so right from the start you are starting to call names. That's very uncool, but hey; I've learned when people resort to name calling, threatening or otherwise they automatically are admitting 'defeat'. Because they can not resort to a more respectful manner of communicating or just missing a (good) retort.

I think you're looking for evidence where it may not lay. For example, Redguards from The Elder Scrolls series are typically highly praised for flipping conventional portrayals of blacks/"middle easterners" on its head. Instead of being a subjugated, alien culture that is not given a proper place in mainland society, THEY are the colonizers who brought their culture and made a lasting impact on Tamriel. They do have a strong history of piracy, but this is always coupled with any culture that has a powerful naval tradition. Further, the games have never made them something to be feared, but instead has presented them as a society to be respected for their resilience, diplomatic prose, and trade skills. I also don't see how a Redguard warrior starring at a soul gem with a hand on his scimitar represents any sort of cultural stereotype.

Lastly, it's also humorous that in the beginning you say "don't lump them all together!" yet you stereotype Middle-eastern people/Arabs as one thing - Muslims. Not only is their cultural influence far greater (having had a dramatic impact on Greece, Italy, Spain, Iran, North Africa, etc.) but it neglects to consider that many of these areas have substantial minorities. Furthermore, not all muslims are alike. Islam is a religion, not necessarily a culture, and I would venture to say that most muslims in America would find the cultural practices of *generic-middle-eastern-country-here* just as foreign as it would be to us.

Lastly, in general, I have found video games to be one of the only forms of media to show Arab culture in a positive light. Whether it is allowing you to play as the burgeoning Ottoman Empire in Medieval Total War, or fighting Templars with the help of your presumably Arab allies in Assassin's Creed (and the aforementioned description of Redguard culture in the Elder Scrolls), and the wall crawling abilities of the Prince of Persia (though not Arab, Persian society suffers from many of the same stereotypical, bad-guy-syndrome as Arabs in other forms of media), Arabs have generally been portrayed positively.

In fact, off the top of my head, I can't think of a single game that particularly singles out Arabs as their antagonists.

In conclusion, I strongly disagree with your argument.

Frost27:
While I have known a few Muslims that were great people, and I know there are many more out there, I think the onus is on them, meaning muslims as a whole, to improve their overall standing in the world. I am all about personal responsibility and it is unfair to pass of the responsibility to represent these people on our media etc. the greater population of Islamists (there are billions) need to do some in-house self policing and improve their own face that is being shown to the world. At this point, rather than just say "I'm not like that", get off your collective asses and prove it to the world...I am reminded of an MCSE course I took in early 2002 that was taught by an instructor who is Egyptian. He was traveling for work on 9/11/01 and flew back home with a group of co-workers. As he put it "You better believe they had me up against the wall frisking me and to tell you the truth, I didn't mind. In all honesty, not all of Arab Muslims are terrorists, but all of those terrorists were Arab Muslims"...In my opinion, I don't hate muslims, I just feel that globally it is time for them to prove the stereotypes wrong themselves since the most actively vocal among them keep showing the world otherwise. Seems like we have reached that point.

Tell me Frost, what in house policing are personally doing to make America look better? There is a stereotype that americans are fat, jingoistic and ignorant. By your logic, the onus is on you to prove me wrong,rather than the onus bing on me to stop being a presumptive asshole. My Muslim friends should not be expected to launch some kind of conspicuous campaign just to show they aren't fanatical extremists. They aren't hateful idiots, they don't support bigots, and they would probably alert the authorities if they knew anyone who was. I don't see what else they should be doing to "fix Islam's negative image".

Also, your professor is wrong. "All of those terrorists were Arab muslims"...of all the hundreds of terror attacks in Europe in 2006, only six were perpetrated by Islamic fundamentalists. The stereotype that terrorism is mostly perpetrated by Muslims is utterly misleading.

I dislike these topics because people seem to be a little too afraid to discuss the points that Therumancer brought up. They were literally dancing in their streets when 9/11 happened, we can't say a thing about them without them literally forming mobs in their streets attacking our embassies, and they still refuse to denounce the part of their religion that teaches them to hate and wage war against Atheists. How can change ever happen if you can never get to the root of the problem that teaches the hate to begin with? How can we keep forgetting and forgiving these mobs and the parties celebrating our dead? if we did what they did we would have world war 3 because they would be so hypocritically offended. They hate us THAT much, they have no problem saying it continously yet we can never, ever do such a thing in return. If they are such good people, then may I ask why is that?

I'm sick of watching the news and every time seeing some loon shock killing innocents in our countries and being too afraid to say anything about it without being labelled racist. How long can we play the "they are not all like that" card when the core of the religion continues to spread hate against innocent people yet they all refuse to denounce that? we have mosques that literally teach them that atheists are scum in our own back yard. I cannot respect any muslim who refuses to denounce that part of the qu'ran as they scare the hell out of me.

If they don't denounce it, the hate will continue to be taught to every new generation till our political correctness kills us. And I will continue to fear and distrust them. I think for good reason, considering they think so low of me for being godless and I did absolutely nothing to them.

Also, what about the fact that they continously form lynch mobs and attack known LGBT's simply because it goes against their religious teachings? why can't they live the way they want to without interference? it's getting to the point where being politically correct is costing innocent lives.

SonOfVoorhees:
Just look at todays world. Sunni muslims are still killing Shia muslims because they both believe different people become messiah after mohammed died. Thing is, if they cant be tolerant and peaceful and accepting of their own religion, how can western people expect them to accept and be peaceful of us? Fact is, Islam is a violent religion that isnt tolerant and is a danger to world peace. Yes, not all muslims are violent, and being from the UK many are meet are awesome. But in the middle east, its kicking off and could lead to a major sunni/shia war.

When I hear this, I can't help but think of Northern Ireland, and the lessons we can learn from that when considering this. I mean some of the things you said sound almost like what people thought about Northern Ireland, that is, catholics and protestants feuding in some archaic religious war. This narrative of events really glossed over the complexity of what was happening, which seldom had anything to do with religion, or nationality for that matter. It is in fact an ethnic conflict, a conflict between groups, not unlike conflicts we see in many modern places (think race conflict and you get the idea). It just so happened that religion served as a convenient marker of ethnic identity.

Now, what is also interesting about this is that the idea of a archaic religious conflict, which depicted the Northern Irish as laughably pre-modern, was not just a misconception but rather a carefully fostered narrative of the Northern Irish conflict, that served the interests of the British government. It goes like this: 'The Northern Irish people are backward and pre-modern, what can one do in the face of such hatred and irrationality?'Thus effectively allowing the British government to refuse responsibility for the region.

When you hear similar narratives, like the one you just mentioned, it helps to ask yourself, who benefits from us having such ridiculously simple and dehumanising conceptions of a people, conflict, or event?

Falterfire:
Aaaand the Bible includes a line about stoning gays to death and several about slaves. Should we really, truthfully, be tolerant of a religion that encourages the death penalty for homosexuals and the ownership of slaves?

Except Christians don't actually follow these words as rabidly as the world's muslims follow the Quran. So honestly, no, I don't think we should be tolerant.

If religious people want to be represented better in media, then maybe they should start representing themselves better in the real world.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctWj-OV4cI0

Robert Rath:
Better Representing Muslims: A Few Ideas

Muslims don't always have to be antagonist of the war game.

Read Full Article

I loved this article (Its a shame about some of the following comments). A great write up. What made me laugh was your story "my sister works in Beiruit" to your Iraqi peers.

It might be an American thing (Are you American? Thats a huge assumption I know) but when I lived in America as a Brit (with Iranian heritage) people kept telling me of family they had in France, Germany etc. Yes its the same continent, but its a very different culture that I feel no association with.

I put it down to the massive geography of the USA, Europe must look like the same country. Equally I was often referred to as European which seemed odd to me as I would lead with English or British. do Americans feel the same way about their state? In Texas most of the people I spoke to were "Texans first" so I tend not to bore Americans I meet with "I used to live in Houston".

Id like to actually play as someone from the middle east et al. Even the fucking Prince of Persia was white...

Nymi:

Falterfire:
Aaaand the Bible includes a line about stoning gays to death and several about slaves. Should we really, truthfully, be tolerant of a religion that encourages the death penalty for homosexuals and the ownership of slaves?

Except Christians don't actually follow these words as rabidly as the world's muslims follow the Quran. So honestly, no, I don't think we should be tolerant.

Youve never met a muslim who sleeps around, shaves their beard, drinks beer etc? Not everyone follows everything in their religion. Probably because religion is a personal thing. Unfortunately the ones that adhear to the craziest stuff usually make the press. There are lots of muslims who want nothing like Sharia law governing them as it would conflict with their beliefs and lifestyles.

When people talk about "muslims" as the same group they seem to forget that most people who suffer at the hands of whacko, conservative, muslim extreamism tend to be other muslims. People talk about the horrors of muslim terrorism but in the UK we had much more trouble and have suffered far more deaths from "Christian" terrorists from Northern Ireland. See what I did there?

It doesnt help that most of their funding and weapons arrived from the USA. That was before 9/11 when America learned that terrorism is no fun, something wed been putting up with for decades in the UK.

One muslim is not the same as the next. In their politics, ethnicity, beliefs etc.

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