Sarah Brown, @SarahAB_UK writing at Harry’s Place (hurryupharry.org) also responds to Charlie Klendjian’s Islam vs Islamism post. Also generated was a fair amount of twitter traffic about what he and I had posted. If I had time this Saturday evening, I might give Sarah’s post the fuller consideration it probably deserves, but for now the points of constructive agreement. Sarah said, verbatim:
Clearly it’s possible to argue (as Klendjian does) that for whatever combination of reasons Islam is either inherently or contingently more problematic than other religions. (This point is made by Psybertron here.) But if liberal Muslims are in a minority compared to liberal Jews and Christians, all the more reason to offer them some support by reinforcing the fact that Islamism, although it’s certainly a subset of Islam, is not identical with it.
Repeating two of Sarah’s points for emphasis:
although [Islamism is] certainly a subset of Islam, [it] is not identical with it.
Agreed. The original core disagreement with CK’s thesis. Whatever terms we choose there is an important distinction to make between the two ideas, and understand when and where that distinction matters.
all the more reason to offer [Muslims] some support by reinforcing [their distance from Islamism]
Agreed. Pretty much where I’m coming from more broadly.
Support = constructive.
(What’s so funny ’bout … etc.)
I think @SarahAB_UK gets it / me.
Sadly, the full posts and the twitter threads arising degenerate into what I called “whataboutness” in my original criticism of the original talk. If in any one conversation we bring the entire history of every religious influence on every cultural, demographic, walk-of-life – like why I eat fish on a Friday – where “we agree, already” – we create a fog-screen that means we never make progress on the original point. Very much my meta-point on constructive styles of dialogue. If we simply want noise to promote the existence of issues, publish satirical cartoons, increase your twitter following, fine, but I’m well beyond that. I’m seeking progressive solutions to those issues, in achievable chunks. Understanding of and sensitivity to historicity is very important, but that’s no excuse to cram every dialogue with everything we know.
I’ll always condemn criminal acts, but I’ll not be letting the terrorists win by distracting our valuable time from progress where it can be made.