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PJM Lifestyle

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Robert Spencer

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February 15, 2013 - 8:00 am
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Editor’s Note: “Politics is downstream from culture” has been one of PJ Media’s mantras in response to the election. It’s with this direction in mind that I’ve invited my friend, the courageous writer-scholar-activist Robert Spencer, to contribute regularly to PJ Lifestyle. Since May of last year Robert has written a weekly article for PJM, bringing his deep understanding of Islam and Jihadist terrorism to analyze current events. Robert is an exemplary polemicist, but the time has come to reach out and bring his ideas to new readers. And so we introduce today a new Friday feature: Jazz and Islam. Each week Robert will explore the culture, history, values, and philosophy of both, some weeks focusing on Islam, others more on jazz, and often, as with today’s article, a juxtaposition of both. Reader feedback and suggestions are very much encouraged as we continue to develop this new feature.

- David Swindle, PJ Lifestyle Editor

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Ultimately, the war between the forces of jihad and the free world is a conflict between individualism and collectivism. Nothing shows that more vividly than each side’s attitude toward music.

“I cannot listen much to music,” Lenin once said. “It excites my nerves. I feel like talking nonsense and caressing people who, living in such a filthy hell, can create such beauty. Because today one must not caress anyone; they will bite off your hand. One must break heads, pitilessly break heads, even if, ideally, we are opposed to all violence.”

Another totalitarian man of peace, Muhammad, is quoted as saying: “Allah Mighty and Majestic sent me as a guidance and mercy to believers and commanded me to do away with musical instruments, flutes, strings, crucifixes, and the affair of the pre-Islamic period of ignorance.”

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But there is such a wealth of music in the Arab and Persian world. Who cares what some cramped, neurotic religious freak has to say? It will never diminish the sheer grandeur of the Persian santur. I listen to modern (and classical) Farsi and Arab music all the time. I think it's a feature of their cultures worth celebrating.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Chairman Mao banned most forms of music. Ayatollah Khomeini banned western music. Plato, the grandfather of totalitarianism, said the Philsopher King would ban musical instruments capable of changing keys. Dogmas that believe in thought control also believe in controlling music.
http://www.jochnowitz.net/Essays/Plato.html
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
When do we get to start raining stones down upon the Muslims?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
To answer the question posed in the headline, perhaps Lenin and Muhammad couldn't even play with themselves.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Music brings joy, and joy is the opposite of terror."
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Music not only brings joy. It can bring despondency and grief. It can exhilarate. It can depress. It can make you weep. It can put you to sleep.

Music is a catalyst for emotional feelings. It is a trigger. It is very mysterious how that works. But I think the closest analogue would be narcotics or amphetamines. Music can have the same effect.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Actually you guys come close, and I suggest you reread 1984.

What you absolutely have is a calling of one person to another, for any reason, because communication brings trust, in time.

Can't have anything you can't control.

I do wonder too what RickMZ's point is: he would be better gone.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So, Mr. Spencer, anyone yet made an Islamic ruling on whether hip hop is Islamic and hence bannable?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I mean, whether hip hop is music, hence banable
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
One more proof that collectivism in almost all its forms is elementary evil personified.

Teamwork and cooperation for mutual benefit? Hell, yeah! Suppression of individual spirit and creativity? Bah, humbug!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Make a joyful noise to the Lord.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Now this is fun.

Truthfully, these ideas are by no means limited to Jazz. As you noted, all music is a form of individual expression – though the classic American traditions of Jazz, Blues & Country are perhaps the most free in doing so. It is one of those historical truisms that during the Cold War it was our Rock & Roll culture that was our strongest weapon against the Commies.

I worked in the music industry for ten years, and for me, nothing was more expressive for me than Blues. In fact, while all genres encourage the learning of ‘the classics’ – you know, those old standards everyone loves – Blues encourages you to avoid mimicking said classics as much as possible.

Jazz always held a special place for me too, though there was never a strong market for it here in the South. Personally, I always preferred Swing – the big orchestras led by Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman. I’d be curious to see your opinions of blues and swing, Mr. Spencer.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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