The Islamophobia card remains in play

April 17, 2016 • 9:00 am

As I’ve said many times before, the word “Islamophobia” has been grossly misused to mean “hatred or fear of Muslims”. But look—the word is  “ISLAMophobia”, not “MUSLIMophobia”! And there are many who do have that latter form of bigotry, including the front-runner for the Republican Presidential nomination, Donald Trump. Trump is a “Muslimophobe.”  The term “Islamophobia” is all too often used to characterize those not who dislike Muslims, but who dislike the ideology that drives many of them to perform either terrorist acts or oppressive behaviors, like the subjugation of women and the demonization of gays. While demonization of Muslims as a group is unjustified bigotry, criticism of Islam—whether you agree with it or not—is justifiable free speech, and a dialogue worth having.

Nevertheless, there are those who consider any criticism of Islam itself as “Islamophobia,” using that term to dismiss such discussion as a kind of bigotry. Religion, they say, has little or nothing to do with the acts of terrorists, or even the retrograde thinking that, according to the recent Pew Report, characterizes a surprisingly large proportion of the world’s Muslims.  When people argue that most Muslims are liberal, they either forget, ignore, or are unaware of the data from that Pew Report, a report that, while saying it characterizes the views of the world’s Muslims, did not survey countries like Iran, Yemen, or Saudi Arabia. (The fact that those countries are missing itself says something about Islam.)

Before I go on, have a brief look at the data from that report, mindful that some extremist countries were omitted:

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 7.39.47 AM Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 7.43.34 AM Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 7.42.53 AM Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 7.44.35 AM Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 7.43.52 AM Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 7.45.12 AM Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 7.41.25 AM

It really is hard to look at these data and claim that, worldwide, Muslims are liberal, loving, and tolerant, and that Islam is a “religion of peace.” Some Muslims are liberal and progressive, of course, but these are the statistics, expressed as averages.

And really, is there any doubt that religion can motivate awful deeds? The same people who bridle at calling ISIS an exponent of “Islamic terrorism” will gladly characterize the murder of abortion doctors as “Christian terrorism,” or blame religion on the bans on abortion in Ireland (or the disapproval of abortion by other Catholics) that led to the death of mothers whose pregnancy went wrong. And since Islam is a form of ideology, —”Islamism” is the widespread view by Muslims that their religion should guide politics (see the sharia graph above)—is it any more wrong to blame Islam on Muslim terrorism than to blame the genocide of Jews on the religiously-motivated, anti-Semitic ideology of the Nazis?

Islamic terrorists repeatedly tell us the reasons for their deeds, reasons which almost always involve religion. “Allahu Akbar,” they cry as they pull the triggers of their Kalashnikovs. Yet Westerners won’t listen: they argue that terrorism sprouts from boredom, disaffection, lack of something meaningful to do, or even Western colonialism. And yes, these factors play a role, but sans Islam, would they find an outlet? In reality, a death sentence for blaspheming Muhammad or for leaving the faith (see above), or the forced wearing of burqas and the stoning of adulterers—these acts have no meaning without Islam. How can you kill someone for blaspheming or leaving Islam if the religion didn’t exist? And why, among all religions and ideologies that malefactors use to justify their deeds, is Islam the one religion that people say isn’t really responsible?

We all know why, of course: Muslims are taken to be People of Color and are therefore oppressed. We cannot criticize their religion because that’s seen as equivalent to racism. And that’s why “Islamophobia”, even in its viable religion-criticizing form, is seen as a species of racism. That’s also why feminist and gay organizations, contravening their own principles, repeatedly support Islamic groups who would oppress women and kill gays if they ever got political power.

The whole “Islamophobia” mess is encapsulated in a new op-ed in the Washington Post by apologist Ishaan Tharoor, “Islamic radicals are a threat. But do you need to attack their religion?” Read that title again. Already you see something is amiss. An analogous title would be “Christian murderers of abortion doctors are a threat. But do you need to attack their religion?”

After noting that the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) in the UK just conferred its “Islamophobe of the Year” award on Donald Trump, Tharoor goes on to exculpate religion as a cause of Islamic terrorism. And once again we hear, in the exculpation, the notion that “things are more NUANCED than we think.” (When you hear the word “nuance” in arguments like this, you should see red flags flapping madly.) His words:

But is it worth fighting a culture war? Of course, Islam is not a monolithic thing. It’s embraced by multitudes that speak different languages, think different thoughts and grapple with different challenges every day. It has no central, governing institution and no shortage of internal debates and schisms.

My response: see the Pew survey above, probably an underestimate of the retrograde views of Muslims. There are liberal and enlightened Muslims, but look at the means. And of course there are schisms, but there’s not a lot of dissent about whether wives should obey their husbands, homosexuality is immoral, or whether sharia should be the law of the land. I wonder what people like Tharoor, or even Reza Aslan, would say when confronted with these data. Perhaps they’d echo this from Tharoor’s article:

The trouble is that pinning the radicalization and criminality of a small minority on whole communities — a whole religion, even — obscures more than it reveals. It reduces to abstraction what are far more complicated and important problems to consider, such as lapses in security and intelligence as well as troubles over assimilation and integration.

Really, does it obscure everything to argue that religion is a major cause of religious terrorism? (If you read the link above, it’s about radicalization in Europe, not in the Middle East.) And again, look at the Pew statistics. Further, blaming this criminality on “lapses in security and intelligence” is ludicrous: it’s an argument that terrorism is largely fault of the police who failed to stop it rather than of the terrorists themselves.

Finally, there’s no doubt that some of the allure of ISIS is the chance it gives for young men (and women) who have dismal futures and lousy lives to act on behalf of a Large and Glorious Cause. In such cases, part of the terrorism does spring from social disaffection. But religion gives that social disaffection a nucleus around which to accrete! After all, there are disaffected young men in South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, and many other places. Why are those feelings transformed into terrorism only by Islam? Could it have something to do with the tenets of Islam, which are of the sort to catalyze the mixture of alienation and unemployment into murder?

In one paragraph, Tharoor undercuts his own thesis:

“Promoting a clash of civilizations and destroying the reality of productive coexistence between Muslims and non-Muslims was always at the heart of al-Qaeda’s strategy. The Islamic State has avowed the same goal of eliminating the ‘gray zones’ of toleration,” writes Marc Lynch, professor of international affairs at George Washington University. “With American political discourse these days, the prospects for escaping the iron logic of this strategy have never looked more dismal.”

And that “clash of civilizations” has nothing to do with Islam?

Eventually, though, Tharoor admits that Islam might have a little to do with terrorism:

This is not to say that religion isn’t important or has nothing to do with the ideological motives of the terrorists who plainly kill in its name. One also should not ignore the fact that the attitudes of some European Muslims diverge worryingly from the liberal mainstream, as illustrated by a controversial survey of British Muslims publicized this week.

But there’s little to be gained from painting with a broad brush.

What, exactly, is the “liberal mainstream,” given that, in the survey, 35% of British Muslims (as oppose to 9% of Brits as a whole) think that “Jews have too much power,” and 52% said that homosexuality should be illegal in Britain (as opposed to 5% of the populace as a whole)? In those respects, at least, the mainstream is not so liberal. The last sentence, about what is “to be gained from painting with a broad brush,” is just the author’s biased opinion. He’s trying to deflect attention from religion by looking reasonable. But how do we know that ignoring Muslim dogma is the best way to combat “Islamic terrorism”?

Finally, Tharoor makes a pretty weak argument at the end:

Nuance and a substantive understanding of the issues, as WorldViews has noted repeatedly, are two things not particularly apparent in the current U.S. political conversation about Islam, Muslims and terrorism.

Subsequent investigations of the militants involved in the Paris and Brussels attacks have found that some had very little ideological fervor or real knowledge of Islamic doctrine. The premise that “Islam hates us” is not a useful entry point into understanding the nature of their radicalization and alienation from the society around them.

In the echo of those words I hear the voices of David Bentley Hart, Karen Armstrong, and Terry Eagleton, all saying “You don’t understand real religion. It has nothing to do with truth claims and bad acts.” And, they might add, “Christian terrorists who kill abortion doctors, or Hindus who impose the onerous doctrine of Hinduvta on their land, have very little real knowledge of Christian or Hindu doctrine.” And that may well be the case, but a nuanced understanding of religious theology is not necessary for religiously-based wickedness!

And so the apologists for Islam yammer on, busy excusing a single religion while thinking it fine to blame Christianity for Christian terrorism or the deaths due to Catholic positions on abortion or birth control. (How many Africans have died of AIDS because of the latter religious view?) The Islamophobia crowd continues to bloviate as well: the IHRC that just gave the “Islamophobe of the Year” award to Trump gave it last year to Charlie Hebdo (see Jeff Tayler’s 2015 piece on that). Yet bloggers and journalists continue to claim that Charlie Hebdo is a fount of “racist shit”, once again mistaking criticism of Islamic doctrine (or a misunderstanding of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons) for bigotry against Muslims.


54 thoughts on “The Islamophobia card remains in play

      1. “Since these are percentages, can’t one just subtract from 100?”

        That wouldn’t necessarily give you that number because presumably some don’t know, don’t care, or are unsure. The number of people who “who don’t think sharia should be the law of the land” is probably quite a bit lower than the number of people who didn’t say it should be.

        1. I’d say there’s a difference between “don’t think sharia should be the law of the land” and “opposed to sharia being the law of the land”. Subtracting the provided percentages from 100 gives you the former, which could be subdivided into “opposed”, “ambivalent”, etc.

            1. How do you know that Nomæd was asking for those opposed, rather than those “who don’t think sharia should be the law of the land” (his exact phrase)?

              1. “How do you know that Nomæd was asking for those opposed, rather than those “who don’t think sharia should be the law of the land” (his exact phrase)?”

                If you ask 100 people if they support sharia as law of the land and 77 say yes, that does not mean 23 “don’t think sharia should be the law of the land”. 10 might have said “I don’t know”, 5 might have said “I’m not sure”, maybe only 8 would say they “don’t think sharia should be the law of the land”. Get my point?

              2. I think the question Nomaed was asking was, “Have the surveyors or other surveys asked the same set of questions of Muslims who do NOT think Sharia should be the law of the land?” This is a very good question, and I for one would also like to see the data.

  1. In my opinion, the very many cases of criticism of ideas and ideology being characterized as “attacks” are simply saying “shut up” instead of attempting to refute the criticism (often because the criticism is correct and there is no rational refutation to be had).

  2. It is really hard not to look at that data and contemplate the inferiority complexes, world wide, bred into women.

    Obey your husband? Always? Why? To remain obsequious pets. It is extraordinary to contemplate the global extent of medieval misogyny still present in this century.

    1. I always wonder about that from the man’s side, too.

      No matter how hard I try, I can’t imagine what it would be like not being able to function unless somebody was kissing my ass. L

    2. Thank you for grasping the simple truth that ‘progressive’ Islam apoligists ignore when they defend Islamic misogyny by just reating “agency.” Indoctrination into misogyny shapes what one considers personal agency in the long run.

  3. A case of ‘islamophobia’ that I still can’t get out of my head is the Chapel Hill Murders case, in which an atheist killed three young muslims about a parking spot. I was genuinely amazed at the enormous amount of people crawling out of the woodwork and saying: “Ha! You’ve got a terrorist now as well! You’re just as a bad as us!” The only reason to think this was because the victims were muslims and the killer was an atheist. So ofcourse the motivation had to be religious bias – according to the twisted minds of some commentators like the New York Times and the Huffington Post, thereby showing how they really think about atheists.

    It’s important to remember that the murderer has not been charged with a hate crime because prosecutors thought there was little evidence for it.

  4. People always gripe about it when someone identifies “religion” as a problem, saying it’s too broad a category. But they always ignore the central problem at the heart (especially) of the three monotheisms — they’re authoritarian in nature.

    No matter how nice and benevolent it may be, that power structure — both in terms of the origins of ideas, and in terms of the hierarchical power structure of the priests and imams — is at best a source of illusory security, and at worst a recipe for ISIS, just waiting to be rolled out and implemented.

    The authoritarian nature of revelation (even in its modern democratic form where anyone can have one) is simply an authoritarian form of knowledge. Not only does it deaden curiosity and degrade intellectual honesty, it also prevents them in a fundamental way from understanding science. They think that science is simply a competing authoritarian system — it looks a bit authoritarian, the way science deems certain things facts and other things not, so they assume the method by which such statements are derived must rest on some authority.

    1. Yes, learning by observation and experience was something that wasn’t really championed when these religions really took off. You were supposed to accept the authority of whoever was in authority or face the consequences.

      Liberal democracies and science flew in the face of that and I think it’s pretty clear which approach works and which doesn’t.

  5. If people used the terms Islamism and Jihadism instead of broader terms it might give the apologists less to complain about.

  6. To quote your post “boredom, disaffection, lack of something meaningful to do, or even Western colonialism” are blamed for Ismlamist terrorism. Well! All of these factors are active in American and Canadian aboriginal reservations, not just active, but fiercely endemic in many, and, oddly, no terrorism ensues. These First-Nation communities are way, way farther out of the mainstream than any African or Pakistani settlement, and yet the violence that happens because of these factors is suicide, alcoholism and domestic abuse. (citation: Google Attawapiskat First Nation, a tiny settlement on the shore of James Bay, suffering a massive rash of suicides). The Native peoples have — or ought to have — a grudge against Western colonialism that makes the disaffection of Palestinians look trivial by comparison, and yet… The point is, that Islam, or any faith, including Christianity Buddhism and Communism (as faith-based as the others) enormously inflates the possibility of violence and terrorism because it offers an organization and ideology that channels the grudge.

    1. That’s a good analogy. If Islam is not to blame, we should be able to look at colonialism, oppression, etc on people without Islam and aboriginals are a good group to look at as they have truly suffered cultural genocide.

    2. Always a good point. There are millions and millions of hideously oppressed minorities on this earth to whom the idea of reacting by murdering innocent civilians doesn’t even occur – it’s not even an option. And yet there’s an enormously unpleasant hard-left worldview that views anything but aggressive resistance to Western ColonialismTM as bordering on collaboration.

      The Orbit article on Charlie and the comments BTL are extremely depressing – people being dishonest with themselves as well as with others.

      Frankly I don’t think the left has come to terms with just how conservative a religion Islam is – we are mostly still viewing it through a western prism in which political, cultural, ethical differences are only ever marginal, but Islam is shifted so far rightward along the political spectrum that to describe Islamic social attitudes as no different from any other groups’ is just delusional.

      The data on this are horrifying. The difference between, say, a tory social conservative and an Islamic social conservative is the difference between believing gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry and believing gays should be beheaded. This is not the kind of difference we can paper over with warm words and wishful thinking. If we are genuine liberals we have to first accept that conservative Islam is not an ideological ally: and if we can accept the same about the noxious western far-right then there should be no dispute about opposing Islamic conservatives considering their beliefs are frequently even more appalling.

      In Britain we have a far-right party like the BNP who attracted a fiery, thousands-strong demonstration when their leader, Nick Griffin, appeared on BBC Question Time – yet the most controversial things he and his party members have said are like cheery small-talk by comparison with some of the things conservative Islamic spokesmen say about stoning, homosexuality, apostasy, etc. I don’t think I’ve heard of a single mainstream leftist organisation that’s demonstrated against a public appearance by an Islamic conservative/Islamist – they leave that kind of thing to those liberal Muslims who’ve noticed the ‘universal’ part of ‘universal human rights’; those liberal Muslims who show up the vast majority of western leftists(and get it in the neck from them as a result) with their courage and ethical clarity.

      The left will either recognise the actively deleterious effects of relativism and identity politics, and begin to phase them both out, or it will be torn apart – and if the latter should happen, its consistent refusal to defend liberal principles(or indeed principles of any kind) will leave it philosophically defenceless.

    3. The conquest of indigenous people has been fast and devastating. Their logical conclusion is that they are powerless. So they have no point to become terrorists, except to vent their indignation. From theological point of view, I’ve read some alleged legends that in due time, a native American supreme deity will destroy the civilization and will empower his people. I also guest that some natives may think that there has been a celestial war and their deities have lost (some say this idea helped to convert the Aztecs to Christianity).

      With Muslims, the situation is different. For a long time, they have been economically and technologically as advanced as Christians – or more. Even when they were colonized, there was no extermination and no large-scale settling of Europeans in their lands. Few Muslims were converted to Christianity. After the end of colonialism, Muslims were allowed to persecute non-Muslim minorities with impunity. At the same time, they were allowed to immigrate to Western countries, to practice their religion and to convert locals. As a result, Islam is expanding.
      In this situation, resorting to terror is not a reflection of (exaggerated or spurious) historical grievances but a logical decision of a winner to accelerate his victory. Even now, as Islamist terror in the West has become regular, only fringe politicians speak against Muslim immigration. I think Islamists are fully justified to think that there is one God who has sent Mohamed as his prophet and is now giving them the Earth.

      1. There are some native organizations that do take part in terrorist type activities but usually this is a bit of a stretch of the word. Mostly, they engage in thuggery and threaten violence but usually end up on the other end of it. It takes religion and a culture that supports it, to really go full on nasty it seems.

        1. In this respect, there have been some interesting guerrilla movements in South America. While it is normal for a revolutionary or reform movement to include a new view (i.e. a new re-writing) of history, these fighters, embracing modern communism, projected it into the past of their nations and rebranded the Inca empire as an egalitarian socialist paradise. This baffled even Eastern Bloc historians. Nevertheless, I give the indigenous leftists credit for their unwillingness to resurrect the old local religions with human sacrifices and all.

  7. I’ve come to realize that there are two things at play here with liberals who holler “islamophobia” when Islam is called into question. The big part is that liberals think criticizing anyone who is non-white is probably a form a racism and we’ve discussed that on this site quite a lot.

    But, I think mixed in with that is the brainwashing we’ve all had since birth that says we shouldn’t criticize religious beliefs at all because that offends believers. I remember having arguments with a liberal Muslim friend in university (he’s still my friend, which is more than I can say for the many Christians who hated me for my questioning) and he would feel atheism was okay to ridicule, but not his religion or any religion.

    So, if you mix the “don’t pick on brown people” with “don’t criticize religion” a strong repugnant feeling forces you to do the opposite, which as we know supports the wrong side. And I think pointing out that by doing so supports the wrong side goes a long way because those truly oppressed people, who have been obscured by the liberal fear of racism, suddenly become visible again.

    1. I would go along with this completely. The criticism of a person’s religion has always been a taboo in a way that criticizing other beliefs has not, and somehow it’s even worse when that person isn’t white.

      I’ve come to believe two things:
      1. Religion can’t handle criticism because it crumbles in the face of logic and reason and the only way to avoid that is to stop the criticism in the first place.
      2. Many people are racist without realizing it. They unconsciously expect a person of colour to be less intelligent and less able to argue on an equal footing. Therefore they, from the best of motives, seek to protect a person of colour from any criticism and don’t differentiate between whether or not the criticism is valid.

    2. Good point. And a lot of that “don’t knock religion” bullshit likely is based in the fear that even if the religion you are attacking at the moment is not mine, it’s pretty clear that the same critique could be applied to my religion.

  8. There is no way to compare similar extremism within other religions or even non-religious ideologies. Imagine if Pew started asking the same questions of the world’s Christians, communists, nationalists etc. e.g. Do you think those who no longer share your pov should be sentenced to death? Even the idea is ridiculous, but this is a normal question we think to ask of Muslims. Further, we know that the closer that a society is run to the letter of historical Islam, the more intolerant the majority will be.

  9. In other news, British politician Trevor Phillips – credited by some with popularizing or even coining the term “Islamophobia” – acknowledged that Muslims “behave in a different way, some of which we may not like… It may be that they see the world differently from the rest of us.”

    I am glad to hear this from the politician who used to give the villain niche to us Eastern Europeans – quote from a 2006 interview: “The legendary Polish plumber, the Czech carpenter… while they’re benefiting our society economically, we need to make sure that we don’t have a social problem that goes with that… Some of the Eastern Europeans who come, frankly with attitudes towards black people which date back to the 1950s…”

  10. Islam also channels its frustrated, bored youth toward terrorism and violence by forbidding to them the more salubrious (ok, ok, less deleterious) outlets available to disaffected youth in the west — drink, drugs, casual sex, and the other hallmarks of a dissolute lifestyle.

    1. Very good point- not just that Muslims are denied access to vices that we often use to blow off steam, but that they’re denied access to a whole variety of avenues that people in the west have open to them. Few Muslim children in a conservative family can dream of being a pop star, an actor, a footballer, a scientist, a writer, a stand-up…these are considered shameful and un-Islamic. Often they can’t even listen to music never mind perform it.

      At its worst Islam is genuinely totalising. Every secular life-choice is denied to you, and it jealously guards its jail-doors against the possibility of escape.
      What can you do as a child growing up in a conservative Muslim family? What dreams can you have that are your own? You are funneled towards a small number of mind-numbingly tedious career-paths and you can either run for the hills and exile yourself from your community forever, or accept it – and even convince yourself that the rest of the world is missing out, is spiritually diseased and morally infected.
      If you think in terms of the unparalleled reach that conservative Islam has over the day-to-day lives of its adherents, the noose-tight constraints it imposes on their freedom to make their own choices, Islamist violence becomes a touch more explicable.

      1. Similarly, those who say that some of the suicide bombers don’t even know much about their declared religion, even as they shout Allahu Akbar, or whatever religious reason they seem to give, this doesn’t matter.

        The puppeteers controlling the puppets are Imams and otherwise religiously motivated and very well-versed in their religion.

        This sort of criticism would be like saying that WAR X was not caused by Y, because the soldiers on the ground knew very little about Y.

        Nobody argues that.

  11. Once again, the political element cannot be ignored. Political leaders in Western nations are compelled to deny the obvious, i.e., that Islam is a major factor in the rise of terrorism. To acknowledge the religious element runs a great risk of “offending” those Muslim governments that are on our side. Thus, leaders everywhere essentially lie about this issue for geopolitical reasons. In realpolitik the truth is only stated when it serves a purpose. Here, leaders have concluded that the truth is dangerous to their national interests.

  12. “While dislike of Muslims as a group is unjustified bigotry”

    But Muslims are defined by a set of ideas, not a skin color or something like that. Is it “unjustified bigotry” to dislike Nazis?

    What if I said I was a Nazi, but didnt want to kill the jews and that the Nazis who did were just confused and misguided about what it means to be a Nazi? Would you buy that, or continue to view me with skepticism and distrust for declaring myself a Nazi?

    Seems like special pleading to expect that people should overlook the fact that even “moderate” muslims have proclaimed their love and enthusiasm for a book containing horrible values and directives.

    1. No, I’d ask you additional questions about why you call yourself a Nazi. Do you support the idea of Aryan supremacy? Do you support a totalitarian type of government? How about war and terror for the purposes of expanding the homeland territory?

      I’d view you based upon how you defined yourself as a Nazi and whether you supported some or all of its other tenets. If you didn’t support any of its tenets I’d just view you as confused.

      1. To the points of clarity and practicality:

        It is your skepticism that would lead you to ask the questions.

        And when would you ask the questions so that you don’t violate their constitutional rights, or if not U.S. citizens, so that you don’t appear politically incorrect?

        Difficult situation to attempt to be all-inclusive to an absolute religious culture whose dogma supersedes all.

  13. As explained very well in the post and by some of the comments above, the denial that religion can be blamed for the behavior and actions of terrorist leaves the liberal west with a problem and no answer. It is like trying to solve a difficult problem but first let’s tie both hands behind us. The Terrorists attack but whatever the cause, it cannot be the religion.

    Tharoor’s article says “Islam hates us is not a useful entry point into understanding the nature of their radicalization.” He has not a clue what the hell is the cause but he spends a lot of ink attempting to make sure it isn’t what it really is. He is wasting our time and has no solution because he cannot accept the cause.

  14. What happed to the previous post last night at 8:40 PM called “Islamophobia”? It contained two links but no page to comment on them. I don’t see an explanation for it disappearing – did I miss something?

    1. It was just a draft post: the links from which I built this one. Very rarely I’ll hit “publish” rather than “save”, and that was the result. I have to quickly copy and then delete the fragmentary post.

  15. ISLAMophobia, not MUSLIMophobia. Really?
    Where can this possibly go?

    All religion is superstitious nonsense protected by religious freedom rights. Rights do not extend to harming others. Nothing more needs to be said. Usually a lot more is said, for amusement, or appearing to be politically correct.

    All Abrahamic religions have histories of prejudice, exclusion and violence. Fact. All promote their particular delusion to the exclusion of others and, if their god wills it, the extinction of others. Fact.

    Islam without Muslims is not a religion, only a scripture. Same for Christianity and Judaism.

    Of course we want to protect Constitutional rights, even more so the lives of those who may be targeted by aggressive, violent religions.

    This current dialogue may, in fact, lead to some practical perspective. Perhaps not, and only a dangerous beginning on the slippery snowflake slope.

    Interestingly, and funny, I do not see the same courtesies extended to the current presidential candidates. Bigots and politically expedient money whores, and of course, no psychological biases there.

  16. While it is legitimate nuance to talk about a wide spectrum of Muslim schools- there are multiple Islams- it is not legitimate to claim that the saner ones are therefore mainstream.

    A lot of religious critiques of gnu atheism are similarly lacking in nuance.

    1. Of course, nuance is a legitimate luxury in the broader discussion, especially in the absence of immediate threat, but nuance does not translate well to public policy.

      Current dialogue is motivated by the very real threat of violence, and the need is for immediate and effective public policy. One hopes for the clarity and courage to know and take the high road, but it may take a little while longer for that vision.

      Thus nuance extends itself to absurdity when it fails the critical need and focus.

  17. I’m reminded of the word, “snitch”- it’s a negative term invented by those who want to get away with something not allowed, immoral, or illegal to denigrate those who would expose their actions.

    Anyone who’s read the Koran (and you don’t have to read all of it, either- the “good” parts don’t make up for the bad ones) and has paid any attention to how Muslims all over the world are applying it to their lives should well and truly be, if not “afraid” of Islam, at least extremely wary and distrustful of it.

    Just like as so many have put it, including Jerry, if Islam had never existed, would the things that are happening in the world right now be happening in exactly the same way? Of course not.

  18. I think the whole word “islamophobia” is just nonsense anyway. A phobia indicates “a persistent fear…disproportional to the actual danger posed.” (Wikipedia).
    As a secular, even atheist, western liberal person, islam and islamism poses a very real danger.

    I have to say the situation in the world has me very conflicted these days. On one hand of course I feel the need to help refugees, people who are fleeing wars and oppression. Yet at the same time I think we can already see the problems created by decades of large scale muslim immigration in western Europe. It seems that here in the Netherlands, where I live, we’ve managed to do a little better than, say, Belgium, in terms of integrating immigrants in society. But not for a moment do I believe that an attack could not take place in Amsterdam at any point. But it’s not so much attacks I worry about, but the danger to our hard-fought freedoms and famous tolerance. Indeed, people on the left (which is still considered the “correct” way of thinking here) seem to underestimate, or simply ignore the fact that islam is at best, largely incompatible with liberal, secular democracy, and at worst actively and ,possibly, violently opposed to it.

    And still after all that’s happend in the past couple of years it’s is not allowed to suggest islam might be a problem. And that absorbing ever greater numbers of islamic immigrants and/or refugees will have consequences for our society in the future.

    The mayor of Amsterdam recently announced new plans for preventing radicalisation in the city, based on the advice of some Irish “psychoanalist” called David Kenning, the city’s “radicalisation expert” who specifically suggests that said radicalisation has nothing to do with the ideology of radical islam, but just the psychological mindset of “doubting adolescents”.
    He also claims that “99.99% of all muslims worldwide are immune to ISIS ideology”. An obviously fabricated claim and probably, looking at the Pew data above, wildy naive.

    This man’s credentials are vague at best, and completely non-existent at worst. I tried googling him and virtually all the hits I got were of reports about him in connection with the city of Amsterdam and the anti-radicalisation programme. No former research, no achievements, no mentions in other articles. He seems to be working for or connected to shady PR firm Bell Pottinger (
    Yet somehow, according to the mayor, he is a leading mind in anti-radicalisation and we are basing the entire anti-radicalisation effort of our capital on his views.
    Obivously this does not fill me with confidence on the effectiveness of the programme.

    1. Holland has a history of difficulties with Islam. Ayaan Hirsi Ali went through a harrowing experience and Theo van Gogh was assassinated. Are these events forgotten?

      1. Indeed, though I think for many Dutch these events have already somewhat faded into memory.
        Of course the general population of western Europe has for decades been force fed through politics and mainstream media the politically correct idealistic view of the utopian multicultural society. Anyone who deviated from this view was instantly demonised as racist; politicians like Janmaat in de 80’s, Fortuyn in the late 90’s early 2000’s (who would probably have been prime-minister if he hadnt been assasinated by an extreme-left-wing terrorist), Ayaan Hirsi Ali of course and now Geert Wilders, who is again being prosecuted for “hate speech” for saying he wanted “less Moroccans” and could face prison if convicted, they all faced “cordon sanitaire” by mainstream parties and press.
        Of course I have yet to see any of the endless supply of islamic hate-preachers or their followers tried for hate speech.

        I think many people don’t want to believe that larger attacks like we’ve seen in France, Belgium, the UK and Germany (the new years eve assaults on women) can happen in The Netherlands but personally I don’t see why not. Certainly, problems with (mostly) Dutch-Moroccan youth don’t seem to have gotten any less in the past 20 years and it’s is still considered politically incorrect, as illustrated by my example of the Amsterdam programme against radicalisation, to mention religion as one of the problems. Sadly, the only political party that dares to mention this is Geert Wilders’ PVV, which is still attacked constantly by the mainstream parties for being racist, xenophobic and/or islamophobic.

        The problem is, I consider myself to be quite left wing. I’ve always voted either socialist or liberal progressive. I cannot see myself voting for PVV as a party, but at the same time, I think mass islamic immigration is a grave threat to everything I love about the society I live in: openness, tolerance, equal rights for gays, women and people from all religions, not to mention the fact that we’re one of the least-religious countries in the world 🙂 (for the time being)

  19. I’ve always maintained that the first two billion victims of Islam are Muslims.

    Given 1400 years or so of history, we could probably add another 1.1 Billion to that.

  20. But is it worth fighting a culture war? Of course, Islam is not a monolithic thing. It’s embraced by multitudes that speak different languages, think different thoughts and grapple with different challenges every day. It has no central, governing institution and no shortage of internal debates and schisms.

    … but…

    Subsequent investigations of the militants involved in the Paris and Brussels attacks have found that some had very little ideological fervor or real knowledge of Islamic doctrine.

    But if there’s no central authority, what is this “doctrine” that they have no real knowledge of?


    1. The “unifying” aspect of Islam, all over the world (if I must explain it to you), is their “holy book”, the Koran. It is also widely held that there are five “pillars” of Islam (submission), the first of which is a declaration of faith:
      “There is no god but God (and) Muhammad is the messenger of God.” It is essential to utter it to become a Muslim and to convert to Islam.
      Muhammad being the “messenger” of God (Allah) carries with it the implication that all the Koran, which was dictated to Muhammad by an angel, comes directly FROM God; is the literal word OF God; therefore entirely true and not subject to any correction (it is widely believed that a copy of the Koran sits on a table next to God in Paradise).
      It is not necessary for someone to be an Islamic scholar to be “eligible” to commit violence on behalf of Allah (that has been proven, again and again)- all they need to do is to operate under the assumption that they ARE following the direct command of God, for any manner and number of horrific actions to become imperative, totally justifiable, and even praise-worthy.

      “It has no central, governing institution and no shortage of internal debates and schisms.”

      Quite the contrary: although “World-wide Islam” may have no “central” authority, once again the unifying nature of the meme of the Koran as God’s word is sufficient to allow smaller entities (bands of clerics, Shari’a law courts, etc.) to operate along mostly similar, if not identical lines all over the world- although there may be differences, the Koran is still held to be the final, inerrant, and complete guide to ALL aspects of life, from marriage, to criminal law, to warfare.

      As for the “internal debates and schisms”, they are, of course, between groups having different interpretations of the Koran (the most notable, of course, being the schism between the Sunni and Shia branches, which is a little different as it’s based on a disagreement as to just who had the “right of succession” to Muhammad’s position, as he designated no successor before his death). “Interpretation” of the Koran, in Islamic society, is nothing at all like what we’re familiar with so far as Biblical “interpretation” goes. There are strict rules as to this (if two verses conflict, the most recent one takes precedence, for example) and the “Hadiths” (stories from Muhammad’s life separate from the Koran) have to satisfy numerous “proofs” of authenticity before they are considered true.

      Their societies have nothing like what we’re used to, with various groups in the same community continually squabbling over interpretations yet coexisting- Muslims are notorious for not tolerating those who disagree with them and whatever group holds the reins of power in a given area, their “take” on the Koran and Shari’a law becomes the “party-line”, with dissenters soon driven underground, marginalized and discriminated against, or driven out. As one passes from one Muslim region or country to another, one moves through a series of “enclaves”, each with its own slightly-differing application of religious law: you’ll find the Wahhabi of Saudi Arabia, the Sunni of Iraq; the Shia of Iran- these groups are those who came to dominate these areas by force.
      In the more “secularized” Muslim countries (Turkey, for example) you’ll see all of the “trappings” of Western civilization; the “hustle and bustle” of “modern” life- yet, the old “meme” is still there, underneath the surface, having a vast influence on everything in their society. A prosperous, educated Pakistani merchant may come home and kill his own daughter because she “dishonored” her family while, thousands of miles away in Africa, an illiterate, nomadic goat-herder may do the same thing, with both citing the Koran as to the legitimacy of their actions.
      We don’t need a “culture war”: what we need is a “war” against a particular kind of thinking, of which Islam is but one of many manifested “symptoms”; a kind of thinking that has absolutely no place in a truly modern world.

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