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Slavery in Perspective

Reader comment on item: ISIS Justifies Its Yazidi Slaves
in response to reader comment: slavery

Submitted by Michael S. (United States), Nov 3, 2014 at 08:48


I commented as I did, in order to shine a light of objectivity on some of the emotionally charged debates concerning "terrorism" in general, and ISIL in particular. This is important, at a time that our leaders are calling upon us to commit our tax dollars and our lives to conflicts that we understand very little.

First of all, what I said about slavery is true: In the Western world, which includes North America, most of Europe, Israel, Japan, S. Korea, Australia and a few other countries, popular attitudes towards slavery have changed dramatically in the past 200 years. Because of this, it's easy to portray Islamic societies, which are more likely to practice slavery than Western cultures, as "barbaric" by comparison; and it's a slippery slope from calling someone a "barbarian", to calling him a terrorist.

Looking at the matter objectively, I am not as hasty as most to paint modern Western "ethics" as the litmus test for barbarity. We Westerners tend to be EXTREMELY selective in accusing others and excusing ourselves in a broad spectrum of behaviors. For example:

1. Slavery. Throughout the VAST MAJORITY of Western history, slavery was a common practrice. As an example, consider this about serfdom:

The decline of serfdom in Western Europe has sometimes been attributed to the Black Death, which reached Europe in 1347,[1] although the decline had begun before that date. Serfdom became increasingly rare in most of Western Europe after the Renaissance, but conversely, it grew strong in Central and Eastern Europe, where it had previously been less common (this phenomenon was known as "later serfdom").

-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serfdom

Note that 1347 is a rather late day in our historical development. Even after serfdom became unpopular, for purely economic reasons, in Western Europe, milder forms of slavery such as indentured service have persisted -- in some forms, even to the present day. By 1807, when Great Britain outlawed the slave trade, serfdom had long ago disappeared inside the UK itself; but the Brits still found it economically expedient to enslave African labor in their colonies -- hence the example I used, of Jamaica.

2. Use of Chemical Weapons. This is a bit adrift of the "slavery" topic; but I brought it up as an example of not only a common but a UNIQUELY WESTERN practice, that has been ascribed to the "barbaric terrorists". Note that the widespread used of deadly chemical weapons was introduced by the WESTERN POWERS a mere 100 years ago, and that these same countries still have, by far, the world's largest stockpiles of such materials.

3. Capital Punishment. This is forbidden in European countries, some largely socialist countries such as Australia and Argentina, and many "blue states" in the US. In the rest of the world, capital punishment is recognized, as it is in the Bible, as not only permissable but actually good for society. When a Muslim extremist publicly executes someone, though, people are aghast -- not because the victims are innocent (which they generally are) of any crime, but because the majority of Westerners are appalled by capital punishment itself.

Those are three examples of the pot calling the kettle black. There are countless others. Remember that it is WESTERNERS, the German people who gave us much of our classical music, religious reform and scientific knowlege, who perpetrated the cold, calculating, industrial-scale horror of the Holocaust -- not in 1347, but in 1945. Up until that time, the Germans had been champions of moral causes such as opposition to slavery; but when their national self-interest was at stake, all this went out the window.

Also note that it is WESTERNERS who fire-bombed Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo and other cities, with the express purpose of inflicting as many civilian casualties as possible -- more, in some cities, than they inflicted with nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

That should put Western "horror" at the practice of slavery by the Arabs in context. We in the West probably have the worst track record of any civilization, of pointing fingers at others while practicing those very things and worse ourselves.

I do not, for a moment, condone oppressing the innocent for the sake of a few, wicked people; and I consider the leaders of ISIL some of the world's more wicked ones. By the same token, it's almost comical fo see Westerners condemning these people for things that, given the right circumstances, they would do with eagerness.

In all of this, we need to be objective and not let our emotions lead us into a horrible nightmare. The US is getting engaged in a struggle in the Middle East, that it hardly understands. I oppose ISIL and their Jihadi brothers and sisters, because they -- like others throughout history -- have an intense, unfounded hatred of God's people Israel. The fact that they enslave Yezidis and chop off heads has nothing to do with my opposition. On the other hand, I am far more concerned about our de facto ally Iran, than I am about ISIS; because Iran is pursuing a program to completely annihilate the Jews of Israel; and slavery, etc. have nothing to do with this opposition.

Thank you for considering the things I said.


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Reader comments (47) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
1It seems that the Islamic state is floundering [89 words]dhimmi no moreDec 5, 2014 09:08219640
1The fate of the Christians in Iraq [98 words]dhimmi no moreNov 28, 2014 08:54219524
2The BBC and the Yazidis and other sordid matters including "Trending" and being PC [177 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
dhimmi no moreNov 27, 2014 12:20219514
Isis justifies Yaziti slaves......This is what pagan cultures do. [80 words]AnneNov 7, 2014 08:29219208
Universal Law or Temporal Will [45 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
CzeslawOct 24, 2014 09:40218899
Evolution? No, a big party. [123 words]Michael S.Oct 28, 2014 06:59218899
1Muhammad had the slaves [38 words]CzeslawOct 24, 2014 05:49218892
1If that's the case... [285 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
ObserverOct 23, 2014 11:17218885
2Separate but equal [217 words]PrashantOct 24, 2014 23:43218885
3ياأمة ضحكت من جهلها الامم Ignorance and half knowledge and other sordid matters [782 words]dhimmi no moreOct 31, 2014 18:32218885
4Documented atrocities and genocides inflicted on the Yazidis by the Arab invaders and the Ottomans [226 words]dhimmi no moreNov 1, 2014 09:36218885
1Is this then a revolt against modernity? [71 words]KreshnikOct 21, 2014 16:50218865
1Re: Is this a revolt against modernity? [447 words]ObserverOct 24, 2014 23:49218865
Yes, they are more "anti-modern" than religious; but the root is avarice and hurt pride [201 words]Michael SNov 5, 2014 10:25218865
3Appalled - really? [56 words]ECAWOct 19, 2014 11:48218830
1Outrage against slavery is hypocritical [159 words]Michael S.Oct 26, 2014 06:44218830
slavery [113 words]ECAWOct 28, 2014 04:21218830
1Why is it so difficult to understand that past wrongs do not justify current wrongs? [90 words]PrashantOct 28, 2014 17:48218830
If Muslims must adopt Christian standards, then perhaps it should also work the other way around. [210 words]Michael S.Oct 31, 2014 07:13218830
4The author of the Qur'an and slavery [195 words]dhimmi no moreNov 2, 2014 09:10218830
5Our dear Michael S is saying we kuffar should not be critical of Da'ish for enslaving Yazidi women! [198 words]dhimmi no moreNov 3, 2014 07:16218830
Slavery in Perspective [870 words]Michael S.Nov 3, 2014 08:48218830
1Correction. [684 words]Michael S.Nov 4, 2014 23:52218830
re-stating my position [613 words]Michael S.Nov 5, 2014 01:05218830
1What is really Genocide? Tell us please [79 words]dhimmi no moreNov 6, 2014 16:24218830
2Those that deny the Armenian genocide should be ashamed of themselves [300 words]dhimmi no moreNov 6, 2014 16:57218830
Those who deny the Holocaust have some screws loose [60 words]Michael S.Nov 9, 2014 03:28218830
The Armenians, and you, are looking for excuses to attack Jews. [115 words]Michael S.Nov 9, 2014 03:34218830
2differing opinnions [396 words]Mohammed Waza Khiddif Id'ullahNov 14, 2014 07:45218830
2He is beyond help [478 words]dhimmi no moreNov 17, 2014 13:25218830
1Guiding the perplexed and Armenians phobia [249 words]dhimmi no moreNov 17, 2014 13:37218830
2Getting to know Michael S!! [210 words]dhimmi no moreNov 17, 2014 17:55218830
facts are facts [303 words]Mohammed Waza Khiddif Id'ullahNov 21, 2014 23:09218830
The Bible accepted slavery as existing but never endorsed it [130 words]nan davisNov 2, 2015 21:59218830
Solomon difd many things whiuch displeased God [733 words]nan davisNov 2, 2015 23:28218830
I don't wish to justify ISIS [35 words]Michael SNov 4, 2015 15:13218830
1Learn From ISIS's Successes and Failures [165 words]DaveOct 17, 2014 21:40218801
1Yazidis should try to reach Israel or India [188 words]PrashantOct 17, 2014 21:19218800
1An Offered Choice: I Set Before You Life; or death; Choose You This Day Whom You Will Serve [425 words]M. ToveyOct 17, 2014 15:54218788
1"actions appall the overwhelming majority, Muslim and not"? [58 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
MarkOct 17, 2014 08:09218778
2Where are the useful idiots the likes of Ben Affleck? [17 words]dhimmi no moreOct 17, 2014 07:57218777
Useful Idiots Unmasked [20 words]Young MCOct 19, 2014 05:45218777
Iraq, Radical Islam. [43 words]EmanuelOct 17, 2014 05:49218773
ISIS popular support [41 words]Patrick LaubreauxOct 16, 2014 23:43218770
A slight inconsistency? [210 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Ron ThompsonOct 16, 2014 23:27218769
If it's actions appall the majority, what of the high levels of support for ISIS in France? [88 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Anon.Oct 16, 2014 22:38218768
1Religion of Peace???? [90 words]Krazy ChickOct 16, 2014 22:19218767

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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