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Total number of comments: 9 (since 2013-11-28 16:32:56)

Patrick S. O'Donnell

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  • Egypt's Class Conflict
  • Wikileaks: US Offered to Block anti-Whaling Protesters
    • The above comment from me was preceded by one apparently awaiting "moderation" and without which it makes no sense whatsoever.

    • Oops, it's been Wendy Doniger for some years now!

    • I doubt the "Hindu parties" will promote vegetarianism if only because estimates of Indians who are vegetarian run from 25-40 percent of all Indians, as Wendy O'Flaherty notes in her book, The Hindus: An Alternative History (2009). In any case, the mythic nationalism (e.g., Hindutva) of so-called Hindu parties (like the BJP) is unsettling if not dangerous and an increase in their power is nothing we should wish on their fellow Indians, especially Muslims.

      Readers interested in animal ethics, rights, and law may want to consult a bibliography for same I put together a couple of years ago: link to

  • Blair, Hitchens Debate Religion
    • It seems I don't know how to use the HTML tags!

    • The Wikipedia entries have it right on the Great Chinese Famine (which Amartya Sen, among others has written about*) between 1958-1961: "Unofficial estimates vary, but scholars have estimated the number of famine victims to be between 20 and 43 million. [....] Researchers outside China...generally agree that massive institutional and policy changes which accompanied the Great Leap Forward were the key factors in the famine."

      The most recent work: "Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958–62, is a 2010 book by Frank Dikötter, Chair Professor of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong and Professor of the Modern History of China from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

      Based on recently released Chinese provincial, county and city archives, the book constructs 'the most detailed account yet' of the experiences of the Chinese people during the Great Chinese Famine of 1958–62, which occurred under the Communist regime of Mao Zedong. The book supports an estimate of 'at least' 45 million premature deaths in China during the famine years, including some two to three million victims of political repression."

      In the twentieth century at least, famines are clearly "man-made" disasasters in the strongest sense of that phrase and thus politically and morally inexcusable. The Chinese regime bears full responsibility in this case.

      *As for basic literature on the subject: Amartya Sen's Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation (1981), Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen, Hunger and Public Action (1989), and Jean Dreze, Amartya Sen and Athar Hussain, eds., The Political Economy of Hunger: Selected Essays (1995).

      And you're right, the greatest horrors of the twentieth century were not, at bottom, religious in nature but owing to various political and ethno-nationalist ideologies, indeed, even where religion is an important variable it is arguable whether or not it is a prime causal factor or simply indicative of the individual and collective identities of parties to a conflict that is, in the first instance, about land, self-determination, political representation, and so forth.

  • Anzalone: Hamas's Rhetoric as Spoiler
  • Palin Fear-Mongers on Iran, Sharia
    • I think it's a mistake to conflate Sharī‘ah and fiqh and thus the former is in many respects analogous if not quite similar to the Catholic Natural Law tradition (hence Anver M. Emon's recent book, Islamic Natural Law Theories, 2010) rather than canon law. I have a philosophically-inclined introduction to Sharī‘ah here: link to

      It is important that we appreciate the "transcendent" dimension of Sharī‘ah, for it is THAT which allows for an intra-traditional normative (hence principled and rational) critique of fiqh or any positivization of Islamic law, an important fact in light of some unduly constricted or ideologically motivated conceptions of Sharī‘ah by both Muslims and non-Muslims.

  • Veiling ban in Belgium: It is all about the State

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