Blue Scarf Numbers Double in Vancouver

Friday, February 03, 2006
The just-completed, second ever blue scarf meeting in Vancouver saw a doubling of our numbers, not counting the absence of the body guard that Dag brought to our first meeting. (Dag's nodhimmitude blog has recently taken a break from its usual serious essaying of the west's intellectual and cultural ill health, to play provocateur in the world-wide campaign for "Mo'toons". His blog is now getting many hundreds of daily visitors, up from its previous committed few. This raised the possibility that we would attract some opponents to our meeting, but the blue scarves were able to repel all offended parties at McDonald's tonight. Once the loud youngsters had departed, we were able to engage in some serious, open-ended talk.)

Joining us was Flares reader, Charles H., an educator whose passion to renew the North American culture was in evidence. We did not construct any plan to save the world, except to continue to build conservative but liberal ways of seeing as alternatives to all the dystopian and utopian nonsense that is out there in anti-globalization, anti-American, anti-Israel, victimary circles.

We gave much attention to the horrors faced by women, children, and men in the Islamic world and by Muslim immigrants in Canada. Dag who has spent much time in the Middle East has a great collection of depressing stories that cannot but motivate his listeners to face up to the probability that the quest for a moderate Islam, of the kind pursued by Canada's Muslim refusenik, Irshad Manji, might require such an impossible change in Islamic culture that we will not be facing a future in which Manjis are central to Mosque life, but are rather the vanguard of a movement of apostasy and conversion. In any case, we decided to coin the verb "to Manji" as a sign of our support for radical moderating change, however it must come, in preference to the only alternatives we can presently conceive: war with or isolation (and hence starvation) of the Islamic world. Dag is committed to the idea that we must provoke some conflict and change now, or inevitably face more horrific conflicts in future. While sobering, there was no other path proposed.

We initiated a number of ideas for future projects, from a Theo Van Gogh film night, to public readings of the Koran, and provocation of our local public feminists to engage more seriously the plight of women in the Islamic world. While we have many problems with the world's most famous shame culture, we might not be beyond a little shaming of our own. All things in good measure.

More generally, we resolved less to limit our blue scarf movement to specific projects as to support each other in developing the intellectual resouces to begin transforming western public culture in all arenas where we find ourselves. Our major target is the west's current political dependency on nihilistic and dogmatically imperialistic formulations of multiculturalism and victimary thinking, political formulations exemplified by outgoing Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin's statements in the recent election campaign that Canada is but a nation of minorities, without a dominant culture of its own.

We are opposed to a politics that give no one a sense of sharing in and building up a shared and transcendent cultural form, and wish to see a greater acknowledgment of our common presence in a historical national culture to which all can belong as part of an open-ended exploration of the rational (time-tested) democratic political and social forms that have been given us by our forebears. We wish active explorations and professions of love for our shared culture. Only if we reclaim our sense of ownership of an ever unfinished national journey, in opposition to tranzi Gnosticism, can we be more confident in judging and condemning the presence among us of women more or less enslaved, and rendered socially and unproductively isolated by certain oppressive religious and familial beliefs, most notably represented by the more extreme forms of head and body covering some are compelled to wear.

Our faith in human progress seems to be inescapably attached to a need to engage in critical discussion of all of humanity's understandings of our relationship to the sacred, and thus to an ability and will to judge, choose, and promote only those relationships that seem conducive to an expansion of human freedom.

We resolved to meet again next Thursday. All are welcome to attend: see you at the McDonald's at Main and Terminal, 7pm.


RogerA said...

It sounds, indeed, like a worthy project--and Vancouver is such a (word used advisedly) multicultural city, you should have no end to diversity in your group! Would like to hear more as the project unfolds.

MeaninglessHotAir said...


dag said...

Wow, that is some write-up. I'm shamed. I merely put up more cartoons in the hope that I'd think up the contents of a thought bubble in the process.

I talked to my Muslim neighbours about this, and they said they would kill ten innocent bystanders for this insult.

OK, so I now have even more to think about. Will do something, I hope, to redeem myself in the eyes of my legion of cartoon viewers.

Let's see: "U R rite, I no stuff."

Yeah, I think I'm catching on.

What a great synoposis. Thanks much. Will work on my version soon.

"We few, we happy few...."

But what cartoon can I use?

Knucklehead said...

I talked to my Muslim neighbours about this, and they said they would kill ten innocent bystanders for this insult.

Eegads! What ever happened "considering the source I'll ignore the insult" or flipping the bird or clever retorts? Nothing between there and killing 10,000 innocent bystanders, heh.

Unfortunately, for everyone, that sort of attitude may eventually convince western electorates (and their elected buttonpushers) that there are not points between "tried our best to help you guys reform and join the 21st century" and "remove them from the face of the earth."

There is a large swath of the west that just doesn't get it. There is a large swath of the Islamic world that just doesn't get it. Neither of those facts is conducive to long term optimism.

truepeers said...

Dag, did you talk to your neighbors about the Danish cartoons or about your blog? If the latter, why won't they just kill you?

Curious in sympathy

dag said...

I'm not talking to anyone at the moment. My blog is shut out of existence at this time, as is gates of vienna, putting me in excellent company. I'm a tad concerned because this attack is sort of specific. I'm pretty sure nothing much will come of it other than that I'll have to start another one. And all this because of some cartoons. Wow.

For now, t-t-t-that's all f-f-f-folks

truepeers said...

Strange. Is it blogger doing it to you and Gates? Were Gates publishing cartoons?

It would be a great loss if your blog is gone forever. If there's anything i can do... At least give me any details and i'll post on your story.

Pastorius said...

Gates wasn't really publishing provocative cartoons, but they had been publishing on the cartoon controversy regularly.

Good writeup TruePeers. Thanks for the report.

What do you think of the idea that the Muslims need to be provoked in order to avoid further bloodshed down the road?

Charles Henry said...

It was so inspiring to meet everyone at the Vancouver meeting!
What a welcome change it was to finally get into a discussion about these problems and not feel isolated in my views, as happens whenever I broach the subject with any of my colleagues at work and all too many family members.

I'm grateful to now know what such an experience is actually like..! Thank you.

For my part I left the meeting juggling a stark contrast of emotions;more determined than ever to make a difference, yet deeply sobered by the heavy magnitude of the challenges at hand,challenges so eloquently outlined by you all.

Looking forward to next thursday, may the snowballing continue!

truepeers said...

Pastorius, if i were confident I knew the answer to your question i'd probably be a fool. One of these days I'm going to have to sit down and do the hard work of finding the best Islamic scholars and find out if there is really any great intellecual depth in Islam. Judeo-Christianity is full of fundamental anthropological insights that are a great aid to human self-understanding, insights which anyone can learn and affirm without a belief in the religious doctrines of the faith, e.g. belief in the virgin birth.

I don't yet have a sense that the same can be said for Islam. I imagine if there were a lot of intellectual possibilities in the faith, and not just some kind of Gnostic poetry, then I think it would be well known and I would be more familiar with it.

But I'm not sure. And how we respond to Islam really depends on what intellectual depth we think is there, on whether it is bound to be around for a long time, or whether our problem is getting a billion adolescents to grow out of their present angry belief system without mass violence.

I look at the current spat over the cartoons and I can't believe both the childness and the deadly brinksmanship that is involved. To my way of thinking, the Muslims who are parading in London with chop off their heads placards are the biggest joke (when you think how they demonize Israel, etc., and now get upset over these modest caricatures) and the biggest nightmare (from my perspective, there are simply a lot of really crazy, deluded, angry, resentful people out there and far too many westerners wanting to affirm their victimary status. Any western adult behaving like these Muslim children would be ostracized in a moment, not coddled by the US State Dept.

But then how do you rationally respond to a situation in which angry children in Iran (as we understand childlike) are close to acquiring a nuclear weapon?

I'm hoping that one day there will be enough converts or apostates that people in the Muslim world can in large numbers grasp the idea that they don't have to go through life with so much anger and resentment, that they can find a faith in which they can be born again.

So how would I help promote this dream of mine? Maybe exacerbating these kinds of symbolic conflicts that offend so deeply with such little provocation can result in more and more Muslims thinking, heh wait a minute, this religion of mine is crazy. How do i get out?

Obviously we're in a situation with big risks, anyway we go. Ultimately we can only respond to this dilemma with a limited quantity of strategic foresight. Much of the time we will need wisdom and quick thinking to respond according to new events breaking out in the chaotic system we are all now a part of. To do this well, we have to become more sure of our own centers, our own values and faith, and sometimes just find the courage to stand up and defend them come hell or high water. And sometimes when we are confident in our faith we can dissimulate and manipulate our rivals in ways they can't imagine.

In any case, communications are no longer in anyone's control. IN the blogosphere we can say all kinds of things, create all kinds of images, and send them around the world. More and more this will be a laboratory for exploring what our political leaders cannot yet say. The game, in other words, will have to play out on a variety of official and unofficial levels, with different objectives and strategies on each.