Friday, 24 February 2012

Argumentation I - Needless conflicts.

Once upon a time, I was sitting at my desk making chemistry notes with, as always, Facebook open in front of me, I noticed a status update from a friend displaying a Youtube link entitled “Racism and Islam”, struggling to fight the urge to study chemistry (NOT!), I almost immediately distracted myself by giving the video my full attention. At 1:07:47 it was longer than I first realised and soon found my colourful highlighted pages of stereochemistry forgotten and busied myself taking note of the videos content.

Bilal Phillips was the name of the muslim teacher. He stood upon a stage, which could have easily been the backdrop to a 90’s game show, before a large room of capped (Taqiyah) men (but no women?). After an extensive introduction from another individual, giving a good idea of his islamic-academic history, Dr Phillips began to speak. “All praise is due to Allah and may peace and blessing be on Allah’s messenger, Allah”. The tone of this sentence echoed that of one who has regurgitated any religious phrase a thousand times to the point where it has simply become punctuation within verbal communication of a certain topic, as if it were a written capital letter or full stop. But to be honest, I really shouldn’t judge too harshly.

Swiftly, Dr Phillips moved onto the subject of the lecture. “On the subject of peace, one of the issues humanity must address is that of racism...” Fine so far i thought, I can get down with that. “...Being one of the major problems that humanity faces...” Yeah OK i can see how an argument for that can work. “...Racism as a term is relatively modern...”  At this point I’m much more interested and he continues, “It wasn’t known in the English language until a few hundred years ago. It comes from the word race, and that word in itself is a new word. It refers to the major divisions of humanity based on particular physical characteristics. This is according to the oxford dictionary”. At this point I’m beginning to like quite like the guy, but, there’s more.

For the rest of the lecture that I wish to repeat, I shall present it as a solid, and fairly long, paragraph;

Bilal Philips
“...Now  the oxford goes on to define racism as the belief that each race has certain qualities or abilities, giving rise to the belief that certain races are better than others. If we look into human history, among the ancients, racism was not really existent, you wouldn’t find it it the hieroglyphic writings of ancient Egypt, or in ancient china, or in ancient India. Instead what you found was family, tribal or national superiority promoted. A nation or a tribe having defeated other nations and tribes, considered themselves to be superior. They looked down on those people whom they defeated, and they would set up legal systems where the defeated peoples would be at the bottom levels of the society. In India where the Aryans came into India and the Dravidians that were here ended up on the bottom level of the class system. A religious, political, economic system. They ended up on the bottom because they were the deafeted people. It so happens that the Aryans were of light complexion and the Dravidians were of dark complexion, so this were there is an apparent link between what may be called the class system and racism. In China for example, the Chinese people, those tribes or races which they defeated and subjugated, they were held on lower levels of their society. They may have inducted them into the army, and used them as a part of their workforce but they didn’t have a specific concept of colour, for example as being a distinguishing characteristic of race. Similarly Egypt, the ancient record shows that the Egyptian people were a mixture of blends of colours of people, and those people who became the slaves and the lower levels of the society were the defeated people, whether they may have been light complexion or dark complexion...”

Hang on, it was just stated that the concept of race didn't really exist in ancient times but then goes on to explain how it did? (although could've just been going on for a while on how "racism" as a word is fairly recent in the english laguage as an identifying term). But is he talking about the issue of race or the class system? They are different issues?

To avoid typing out the whole video transcript i’ll sum up the gist of some of the rest of Dr Bilal’s talk; He believes that European’s justified colonisation with the “evolution” theory, with his understanding of this being that men came from chimps and whites from blacks.

At this point I found myself almost angry. First of all Darwin came up with the theory of evolution late in the 18th century, the origin of the species was not published until 24/11/1859. And even then it was hardly widely accepted as fact! Conquering Europeans were sending missionaries out to convert those they had defeated to Christianity, how the hell can they also use evolution as a justification for doing this? If people actually stopped to think rather that just swallow whatever (shit) a religious authority figure hands them...

The first European colonisation wave took place in the early 15th century! That’s at least 300 years before the theory of evolution and even then it wasn’t used publicly as a “scientific” reason to invade other countries until the likes of Hitler. Bit of a leap from the ancient egyptians etc. (3050 - 332 BC).

Now I come on to the warped and misunderstood idea of evolution Dr Bilal Philips presents. What bothers me most about this whole issue is that unnecessary confrontations can occur simply from assuming that someone else holds the same definition of something as you. According to the video I am a racist for believing in Evolution because i apparently think ‘whites’ evolved from ‘blacks’. Well I don’t, that is NOT how evolution works.

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