The Pen is mightier than the sword, but the Pen must sometimes move the sword against corruption if the corrupt are not moved by the pen.. An idea without an implementer is useless. "The Rulers do not carry the sword in vain"Rom 13:4

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

But I know a warm friendly lovely Muslim-why hurt their feelings?

This is the conundrum. We all know that 'wonderful, hospitable, friendly' Muslim family or friend. He, she or they, might be rather liberated Muslims, who have chosen to live among us rather than in a 'ghetto' or a suburb/area with a high concentration of their co-religionists.  Such people might be well educated professionals.  So where does that put the 'Anti Islamic' protests of the likes of Pegida, or the Australian Defence League or "Stop the Islamization of our Nation" type groups?  Are they a danger to social harmony? Are they offensive to our nice Muslim friends?

We need to look further afield to come to a sound understanding of the sociology of 'groups' and inter-group conflict.  I usually refer people to the Yale university "Robbers Cave" experiment on realistic conflict theory. The relevant lecture covers morality, empathy and group identity. It's a good read and if you like you can listen to it  on mp3. There is another good article about this particular experiment here.

There is yet another series of experiments that might shed light on the problem of multiple communities and how they regard each other.  Basically, I observe that the more 'different' people appear, the further they seem to be from our own genetic line.  Experiments done by Maddison show empathy between Rhesus Monkeys for other monkeys that are caused pain by the first Monkey obtaining food.  That experiment does not show the attitude of the Monkey toward different species subjected to the shock outcome, but there is one which does!

We know pain is — of others is aversive for chimpanzees and we know this in certain ways. But we know this, in particular, from a series of studies that would be unethical if they were to be done today. In these studies, they put a chimpanzee in a room and there's a lever. And when the chimpanzee slaps the lever, it gets some food. Trivial, smart animal, piece of cake. But the room has a window leading to another room. And in the other room another chimpanzee is placed. This second chimpanzee is not a relative of the first chimpanzee and they've never seen each other before. Now, when the first chimpanzee hits the lever the second chimpanzee gets a painful electric shock, putting the first chimpanzee in a horrible dilemma. In order to feed himself, he has to torture another animal. Chimpanzees do not starve themselves to death. It's very unlikely any of you would either but they go a long time without food, suggesting they do not want to cause this other chimpanzee pain. It only works within species. So, in another experiment they put a rabbit in the other room and the chimpanzee would slap the lever repeatedly to make the rabbit scream in pain  and jump. (Yale Psych 110, Prof Bloom)

Group conformity is crucial to understand how social groups work. This experiment is clear and compelling regarding how individual obedience/group conformity is achieved by the rest of the group: Monkeys beat up an offender who tried to climb a ladder to get food, which resulted in them being sprayed with cold water.

In other work by Milgram on the field of obedience  to authority, we find that people will 'kill' other people if they believe they have authority to do so and will not be held personally responsible for those deaths.  Within strongly bonded communities which are within a larger community, the individuals will formulate their ideas of right and wrong and willingness to 'obey' relative to their group rather than the State.

All this information shows clearly how 'groups' work. Individual conformity is enforced by the group, the more distant genetically the 'other' is, the less the group or individuals in the group care about his/her pain.  This is scientific fact. The problem comes when transposing this reality into the political arena. Politics is about power and privilege and as Alexander Hamilton once opined in the US federalist papers:

Among the most formidable of the obstacles which the new Constitution will have to encounter may readily be distinguished the obvious interest of a certain class of men in every State to resist all changes which may hazard a diminution of the power, emolument, and consequence of the offices they hold under the State establishments; and the perverted ambition of another class of men, who will either hope to aggrandize themselves by the confusions of their country, or will flatter themselves with fairer prospects of elevation from the subdivision of the empire into several partial confederacies than from its union under one government. 

We have class interest, community interest and religious interest at stake when it comes to differing socio-religious groups on Western nations.  All 'factions' have their own ambitious agendas and aspirations which will usually be in conflict with others.  When it comes to Islamic communities, we have a very volatile mix of religion and politics that together from a ticking time bomb, and where individual obedience is enforced according to the dominant members of the group.  Individuals can be despatched to do 'dirty work' on behalf of the group. Charlie Hebdo!
Western society will be much better off without any Islamic sub communities, and changes in the Laws should reflect this.

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