Is Tolerating a Culture to Oppress and Persecute Part of Multiculturalism and Cultural Relativism?

I’ve been reading posts and articles about Gaza, Arabs, Islam, and Muslims written by academics, and I’ve never encountered a meaningful, significant, insightful academic writing or scholarly paper that explores or elucidates the source of all conflicts involving Islam and Muslims. Is it hard for academics to critique or criticize the literature of oppression, persecution, and suffering which is the Quran? Yes, multiculturalism is dead, and cultural relativism is long-buried, as far as their positive intents are concerned. Its ironic that loud Western multiculturalist and cultural relativist academics who have been silencing critics of Islam cannot even go to Muslim areas and propagate their liberal and progressive ideas without fear of being beheaded. Why are they scared of the people they defend and side with?  Why is the academe deaf and blind to this disingenuous intellectual bullshitting?   

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I forgot to include the fact that Savage Minds (run by a bunch of multiculturalists/cultural relativists), blocked this post.  Is anthropology now exclusive and selective when it comes to cultural issues?         


M Izabel,

    The issue you address – the hypocrisy supposed free thinkers bring to the phenomenon of Islamist violence – is not confined to the sheltered and generally irrelevant groves of Academe.  Thanks to Bill Maher (“Real Time” on HBO) it is now a hot button topic in American mass / popular culture.  In August Maher was invited to be the Commencement speaker at Univ California Berkeley in December (the campus is marking the 50th anniversary of its historic Free Speech Movement).  Then in early October Maher and Sam Harris, his guest on “Real Time,” criticized Islam as a creed that endorses violence against non-believers.  Their remarks were branded “racist” and “bigoted” by defenders of Islam as a world religion whose adherents include only a tiny fraction of Islamist terrorists.  Maher’s remarks so upset thousands of Berkeley students (who, again, half a century ago had stormed the barricades in defense of free speech) that they demanded the university administration withdraw its invitation.  Maher has refused to honor the students’ request and to its great credit the university administration has let its invitation stand.   You can see the heated discussion that set things off at:  


and Maher’s response to the Berkeley students at:  


Thank you for addressing this deeply troubling matter here. 


Lee Drummond  


M. How are you doing? As I peek once again at OAC, after a long withdrawal, it is good to see you here, still asking important questions. An hypothesis worth considering is that anthropologists are by self-selection and training mostly monks instead of warriors, wallflowers who watch the world go by and whisper to each other about how awful it is but are very unlikely to put themselves in harm's way to do anything about the evils that shock and titillate them. In the USA (and here I refer to Lee Drummond's analysis now posted on OAC), cultural anthropologists are largely the children of Woodstock, dreaming of culture as flower power and getting high and living in communes where someone else takes care of the trash. 

"I’ve never encountered a meaningful, significant, insightful academic writing or scholarly paper that explores or elucidates the source of all conflicts involving Islam and Muslims."

M. Izabel, this sounds like a hell of a lot to expect out of anyone, let alone an anthropologist who might be more comfortable discussing things with certainty on a micro scale than making sweeping generalisations.

Secondly it seems that your rather loaded question is hinting at there being one answer for the source of all conflicts involving Islam etc. which just seems unrealistic. But really, I just don't know enough to say anything meaningful on this subject.

And also I'm not sure that all conflicts involving Muslims and Islam are necessarily about Muslims and Islam? Haven't we seen that most of the recent conflicts involving Muslims are just about resources, which happen to be in areas which are nominally Muslim?

I think you are suggesting that Muslims have a greater propensity for violence because of Islam, and I completely reject that notion.

But good post, I've just come on OAC for a peek after some time and felt compelled to weigh in!

M. Maybe the real question of the day is are anthropologists synonymus to activists. My own answer would be a NO. Why not letting anthropologists do their scholary inquiry and activists take that role you are proposing? Just my thoughts.

Hi M,

Was your wording for SM the same as here? For there does seem to be a fallacy of aggregation here which lumps all muslims together and claims that they are equally prone to beheading people they don't like. In countries with strong adherence to Islam, where would you find this practice today and how widespread? There is tremendous variation between politics and religion in this case; and there are some important books by anthropologists explaining why and how this is so. Maybe, instead of excoriating anthropologists as multiculturalists and cultural relativists, you should point to incidence of these things in the canonical literature on the subject.

There are Christians (US South), Jews (Israel), Hindus (India) and Buddhists (Sri Lanka) who either now or historically have killed non-believers on a large scale. Indonesia in the 60s saw mass genocide by a predominantly Muslim population (a million plus Chinese conflated with Communists). I don't see what is gained by overgeneralization, especially if an aggressive tone serves as a mask for ignorance.

I think you know that I am not a cultural relativist. I believe we should stand up and be counted. You might get a more constructive response if you phrased your point (it is hardly a question) in terms that solicit a reasoned response. We are all tiptoeing around your polemic, out of respect or fear. But I have to say I have read many commentaries by you that deserve more sympathetic treatment than this one.

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