As the saying goes, even a blind pig can find an acorn. And even Dinesh D’Souza, a nasty piece of right-wing, religious work—now under indictment for campaign-fund shenanigans—can be right, as he is in this video from the HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher. Before you watch it, be aware of two tropes raised by defenders of Islam when its tenets, or the horrible actions it inspires, are criticized. (These came up in the discussion of Brunei this week.)
1. If your ancestors did anything wrong, you have to apologize for that before you criticize anyone else.
2. All bad acts are equally bad. That is, Western “imperialism”, or the forced circumcision of kids by Jewish mohels, is just as bad as Boko Haram’s kidnapping of schoolgirls, the throwing of acid in the faces of schoolgirls, and the aiming of missiles at civilian populations. State-sponsored religious hatred by Palestinians is no worse than the fulminations of a few extremist Israelis (not representatives of the government) who spew hatred towards Muslims. I sometimes think that many have lost their moral compass.
Another defense of Islam is that only a very few Muslims engage in the acts of horror like the abduction of schoolgirls. True, but a much larger number of Muslims repress their women, brainwash their children, and, by their failure to speak up against their murderous co-religionists, tacitly give them approval. Poll after poll, even in Western countries, has shown that surprisingly high proportions of the world’s Muslims approve of the death penalty for apostasy. (Is over 30% of these in Bangladesh, Iraq, Malaysia, Jordan, Palestine, Pakistan, Egypt, and Afghanistan a “small minority of extremist Muslims”?) Here are some data from the Pew Poll:
And these views aren’t limited to majority-Islamic nations. Here are some data from a compilation of Muslim opinion polls, which is pretty scary:
Pew Research (2007): 26% of younger Muslims in America believe suicide bombings are justified.
35% of young Muslims in Britain believe suicide bombings are justified (24% overall).
42% of young Muslims in France believe suicide bombings are justified (35% overall).
22% of young Muslims in Germany believe suicide bombings are justified.(13% overall).
29% of young Muslims in Spain believe suicide bombings are justified.(25% overall).
In the video below, Bill Maher and Dinesh D’Souza agree on some of the points above, with libertarian author Matt Welch expressing agreement. They are opposed by the unctuous Ariana Huffington—to think I used to admire her!—and author/comedian Baratunde Thurston. Thurston manages to whitewash the whole issue with the true but misleading statement, “I don’t think Islam has any monopoly has any monopoly on darkness and nutbags and crazy rhetoric and violence.” The man doesn’t comprehend the difference between individual cases and statistics.
Now I don’t think D’Souza is criticizing Islam for the same reason that many of us—or Maher himself—do. He’s a Christian and is simply dissing another faith to buttress his own. Nevertheless, in this video he is largely right about the misguided defense of Islam. D’Souza’s money quote, to me, starts at 6:10:
“What’s going on here is that there is a civil war in the mind of the liberal. So on the one hand you’re a defender of individual rights and minorities; and if this were the Catholic Church you’d be all on it. But on the other hand you’re committed to multiculturalism. And Islam is the victim, and we don’t want to make the Muslims feel bad. And so these two impulses have got to be brokered one against each other. The problem isn’t the Muslims; the problem is all the multiculturalists on campus who protect and defend them.”
Now I don’t agree that “the problem isn’t Muslims”, for it is; or rather, the problem is Islam. Without the tenets of that faith, we would have no problem. But the brokering that takes place in the liberal mind is true. Certainly Muslims should have free speech on campuses, and everywhere else too (including Muslim countries, where by and large they don’t). But free speech should also be the rule for those who criticize that faith, or any faith. The latter doesn’t happen, as we saw when Brandeis withdrew the offer of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Maher and D’Souza are right about the double standard applied to Islam versus religions like Catholicism. If 84% of Catholics called for the death penalty for those who left the Church, it would be a huge story!
I never thought the time would come that I would agree with something that D’Souza said in opposition to the views of Ariana Huffington. That’s how far the defense of the indefensible, in the name of multiculturalism, has come.
Do watch the whole video: it’s only 11 minutes long and exemplifies the views of both sides on this issue. Maher is, as usual, eloquent and straightforward about religion.
Some of the YouTube notes:
May 9, 2014 – Bill Maher took on Boko Haram Friday night and focused on what he believed was the most important aspect of the case: the religion of Islam itself influences this kind of brutality and is therefore a serious problem. But Maher was bothered by how liberals “do not stand up for liberalisms” and outright condemn brutal Islamic laws that go against values of equality and freedom, especially where women are concerned.
Reason’s Matt Welch agreed that Islam “is providing a disproportionate share of radical nut bags killing people.” Arianna Huffington and Baratunde Thurston pushed back a bit, arguing that you can’t condemn a whole faith just based on what the radicals do. Thurston pointed out that Islam doesn’t exactly have a monopoly on extremism.
BTW, one thing I don’t want to hear in the comments is that Bill Maher is anti-science. That may be true in part, but it’s completely irrelevant to this thread. People who believe this have had their say many times before, and so all comments to that effect will be considered expendible on this thread.
Remember, even reprehensible and right-wing people can sometimes be right.
h/t: Diana MacPherson