Very relevant as a case in point to a stream of thought coming from Jim Belshaw lately – see Culture, Groups and Public Policy – 1 and Culture, Groups and Public Policy – 2 – is Irfan Yusuf’s latest post HUMOUR: A joyous rant from Daniel Pipes’ website. Jim said, among other things:
The starting point in these (anthropological and sociological) studies lies in the separation of the observer and the observed. The group under study – town, village, tribe, club – is recognised as distinct. The aim is to understand its structure and behaviour.
I make this point because a lot of the political and social commentary that I read starts from one set of group assumptions and realities (the commentator’s) that are then applied to and used to interpret or critique the behaviour of another group or groups with its (their) own sets of assumptions and realities.
He applies that to one particular issue here:
At the end of my first post in this muse, I suggested that President Bush’s policies in the "War on Terror" helped create the very thing that it was intended to destroy. I also suggested that the knowledge was available to pin-point some of the potential errors in advance. It simply wasn’t applied.
Part of the reason for this lies in the nature of groups and group dynamics. The internal world of the group is just too powerful. It dominates to the exclusion of other views.
Particular problems arise when, as in the Bush case, a gap appears between the internal reality of the group and the external world.
That I strongly agree with. In Irfan’s post the group-think is that of the anti-Islamist brigade, one minor exemplar of which is this “interpretation” of Irfan Yusuf, which bears no resemblance at all to the actual Irfan any of us can read for ourselves but rather shows the refracting lens through which the commentator passes all information:
Self promoting Stealth Jihadists under the guise of so called Multiculturalism and pseudo/-mock journalism….This post is one of a planned number, which is going to focus on the stealth Jihadists amongst us. I intend to expose such smooth slick snakeoil merchants.
Radical Islamist Lawyer Irfan Yusuf….
Say what??? “Radical atheist Pope Benedict XVI” is only slightly more far-fetched!
But Irfan retains a sense of humour, beginning his post with this:
Memo for 2009 and beyond: ignore a hatemonger today!
I do hope that with the defeat of the mindset of Bush, Cheney and company some of this sickness of the spirit will recede too.