Thursday, March 31, 2016

Right wing nuts promoting Islamophobia, part 2

We saw it last fall, when some dumb bunny conservative bigot parent in Florida didn't want her kids learning "Ay-rabic Numerals".  That would be the same set of numerals we use every day in the west, with a zero, as distinct from Roman numerals; the zero is essential to performing modern maths, and has been in use in Europe from the 14th and 15th centuries to present.  It is technically an Arab/northern African refinement on an Indian numeral concept, that we learned from the Muslim world centuries ago.  Dumb-bunny mom clearly is in serious need of not only Ay-rab math, but a good world history course.  Although like leading a horse to water while unable to force it to drink, one could educate but not get past the determined bigot prejudice.

And here is another example of hate-peddling Islamophobia from the right, from Rush Limbaugh, who is now facing his radio network going belly up out from under him.  This is an older example, dating back in 2010, which underlines how this bigotry pushing and revisionist history has gone on over time.

an Excerpt from Rush Limbaugh's own transcript:

RUSH intro: ...Now, remember what NASA has become under Obama. No longer about space exploration, we're going to ground the shuttle fleet, we're going to lease space for astronaut flight on Russian spacecraft. NASA has been told to focus on global warming, and now we have the NASA administrator on al-Jazeera last Wednesday who said this.

BOLDEN: Before I became the NASA administrator he charged me with three things. One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math. He wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.

RUSH: Now, a lot of people are saying, "Rush, the guy really didn't mean it, he's just out there, this is just a bunch of pap for the al-Jazeera audience, didn't really mean it." Of course he meant it, and of course Obama said it. There's no question. Why would he say it if he didn't mean it? He certainly meant it for the Muslim audience and al-Jazeera. And, by the way, would somebody show me any Nobel prizes for math or science from the Muslim world? I'm going to get in a lot of trouble for this, but that's what we do here, we make the complex understandable, we deal with the truth. Most of these claims about Muslim contributions to science and math are myths. Even, folks, the so-called Arabic numbers were actually invented by the Hindus in 500 AD. I looked this up this weekend. It was even before there was such a thing as Islam. The Hindus created the so-called Arabic numerals and you can find this in Wikipedia if you want to believe it. Charles Bolden, NASA administrator, he was asked, "Why are you here in the region?" "Well, I'm here to spread the Muslim outreach." He said it, he meant it. "He couldn't possibly have meant this." He did mean it.
First of all, why is reaching out to Muslim nations a problem? They are in many instances our allies, notably Turkey in NATO and in the Saudi Arabian peninsula where we have key military bases, and where those nations are important trading partners as well. India has a large Muslim population and is very important to the US. That is a legitimate outreach, for which Limbaugh offers no LOGICAL OR RATIONAL reason against doing so.

Secondly, the space shuttle fleet was retired because they were old and dilapidated and had exceeded their original term of service.  They were no longer safe to fly.  Further, the private sector is in the process of providing the replacements - which means those necessary replacements are not coming out of the NASA taxpayer budget.  If the Russians have space vehicles that do the job, where it the benefit to our duplicating that?

Thirdly, while ol Rushbo was over browsing Wikipedia, he should have looked up Muslim recipients of the Nobel prize, of which there are quite a few, including for science, such as Mohammad Abdus Salam of Pakistan in 1979 for physics, and Ahmed Zaweil for chemistry in 1999, and just last year Turkish scientist, Aziz Sancar.  Wikipedia has their own separate entry just for Muslim Nobel laureates, which underscores why one should never take at face value what purports to be conservative factual research.

Further, the Nobel prize has been awarded since 1895; to use that award to the exclusion of other scientific awards or other scientific recognition during the height of the Muslim world's accomplishments as the metric for establishing contributions is the worst kind of cherry picking.

Limbaugh is dismissive of the extremely well documented accomplishments of Muslim scientists and innovators across history, accomplishments not only in math, but in medicine, astronomy and any other fields.  These are NOT myths.  When Rush Limbaugh claims that Arab numbers were invented by Hindus, he is being dishonest and NOT accurately representing even the Wikipedia article content. (emphasis added is mine - DG)
The decimal Hindu-Arabic numeral system was developed in India by AD 700.[7] The development was gradual, spanning several centuries, but the decisive step was probably provided by Brahmagupta's formulation of zero as a number in AD 628.
The numeral system came to be known to both the Persian mathematician Al-Khwarizmi, whose book On the Calculation with Hindu Numerals written about 825 in Arabic, and the Arab mathematician Al-Kindi, who wrote four volumes, On the Use of the Indian Numerals (Ketab fi Isti'mal al-'Adad al-Hindi) about 830. Their work was principally responsible for the diffusion of the Indian system of numeration in the Middle East and the West.[9] In the 10th century, Middle-Eastern mathematicians extended the decimal numeral system to include fractions, as recorded in a treatise by Syrian mathematician Abu'l-Hasan al-Uqlidisi in 952–953. The decimal point notation was introduced by Sind ibn Ali, he also wrote the earliest treatise on Arabic numerals.
A distinctive West Arabic variant of the symbols begins to emerge around the 10th century in the Maghreb and Al-Andalus, called ghubar ("sand-table" or "dust-table") numerals, which are the direct ancestor of the modern Western Arabic numerals used throughout the world. Ghubar numerals themselves are probably of Roman origin.[10]

We do NOT use Hindu numerals, which is evident from a comparison between those numeral systems, and our western Arabic numbers.  What we use is the ARAB / MUSLIM version they created from earlier Hindu figures and shapes.  It is profoundly dishonest to claim that Muslims did not devise what we now use as western Arabic Numbers.  It is stupid to reject learning those numbers or the history behind them.

To draw an analogy, what Limbaugh does here is similar to acknowledging that a cow provides the milk that goes into a bowl of ice cream, but then denying the company that turns that milk into ice cream deserves any credit for the ice cream, in spite of clearly having contributed a significant development and transformation of the raw material. It would be accurate to assert that an ice cream company MADE the ice cream, just the same as Muslims made our modern western numbers.

Join me in pushing back against conservative lies and hate.

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