Although there are still a few regressive Leftists who can’t bear to utter the word “Islam” in the same sentence as words like “terrorism,” “homophobia,” or “misogyny,” I sense that the previously clueless are beginning to see the connection, a connection palpably obvious to those who don’t hold that having pigmented skin guarantees moral virtue. Hillary Clinton, with a reporter holding her feet to the fire, mentioned the connection yesterday. And on the Internet I’m beginning to see some bloggers (you know who you are) begin to call out Islam for its homophobia.
I think this may be a watershed moment, though, tragically, it took the deaths of fifty people to bring it on. And we want to have a discussion of the connection between religious ideology and oppression, for if liberals don’t, Donald Trump gets more votes from frustrated people who can’t stand the pervasive ignoring and exculpation of Islamic ideology.
The discussion about conservative Christianity and homophobia, as well as the marginalization of women, has been going on for some time (remember l’affaire Kim Davis?) We all recognize the connection, and I don’t hear people asserting that religion had no part in Kim Davis’s bigotry. But Islam has so far been immune, and in the first sentence of this piece I told you why.
No longer, or so I think—and hope. Today three major newspapers have published editorials underlining the religously-based homophobia of Islam; and a liberal Muslim, Maajid Nawaz, published an even more explicit article on The Daily Beast website. It’s time we had a conversation about Islam, just as we’ve had it about the malfeasance of evangelical Christianity and Catholicism.
Why is the horrible mass murder in Orlando inciting this discussion? Is it the fact that it was gays that were murdered, and in the United States rather than Iran or Iraq? Why haven’t the murders of atheists in Bangladesh stimulated a conversation about Islam’s pervasive demonization of infidels and apostates? Why weren’t the mass sexual attacks in Cologne enough to begin a conversation about Islam and the oppression of women? Why didn’t the state-sponsored hatred against Jews, which appears regularly in Middle Eastern media, start a similar conversation about Islam and anti-Semitism?I don’t know, but somehow what happened in Orlando seems to be a tipping point. It’s early days, of course, but I hope I’m right, and that from now on those who discuss the dangers of extreme Muslim ideology won’t immediately be written off as bigots or racists.
Here are the four articles you should read, with a tiny excerpt from each. All seem to be written by either religious Muslims, ex-Muslims, or descendants of Muslims, and all are good. The pieces by Hirsi Ali and Nawaz are especially worth reading.
“LGBT Muslims do exist, and they are grieving. It’s time for acceptance, ” by Amanullah De Sondy in the Washington Post:
I’ve spent more than a decade researching Islamic masculinities, including five years living and teaching in Florida before I moved last year. I have heard some Western Muslim leaders step haltingly toward acceptance. But most of what I have heard, when Muslim leaders speak to the LGBT believers in their midst, is callous disregard or deafening silence.
. . . As I have monitored the evolving statements of Western Muslim leaders — most of whom are straight — over the years, here’s what I have heard: a slight movement with regard to LGBT issues by some. Many are silent, but some have realized that the issue must now be publicly addressed, especially with the rise of countries adopting same-sex-marriage bills.
There are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Muslims who stand proud in their understanding that they have a God-given right to claim their gender and sexuality. But the religious leaders who speak out at all on LGBT issues say only this — reluctant and guarded — “Hate the sin and not the sinner.” From the discussions I have had informally with these leaders, this is as far as they think they can go without losing their own followers.
“The Muslim silence on gay rights” by Bilal Qureshi in the New York Times:
No religion has a monopoly on homophobia. The track record of exclusion and outright abuse of gay men and women in the name of God is a depressing reality across faiths. But we cannot use those analogies to excuse our own shortcomings. Omar Mateen went on a rampage at a gay club out of hatred he attributed to his faith. He shot and massacred Americans for thriving in their safe space, for being among those they love and were loved by, and he did it during both Ramadan and a Pride Month that epitomizes self-love in the face of hate. The toxic cocktail of gun violence, unchecked mental illness and deranged ideology that propelled the massacre at Pulse is a threat to all Americans.
We must stand up against the anti-Muslim responses that come so easily in this current political climate. But for Muslims, this is also a moment to reflect more deeply on how we feel about living in a country where gay rights are central, where marriage equality is real and coexistence is the only way forward.
“Islam’s jihad against homosexuals” by Ayaan Hirsi Ali in the Wall Street Journal:
The Orlando massacre is a hideous reminder to Americans that homophobia is an integral part of Islamic extremism. That isn’t to say that some people of other faiths and ideologies aren’t hostile to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, community. Nor is to say that Islamic extremists don’t target other minorities, in addition to engaging in wholly indiscriminate violence. But it is important to establish why a man like Omar Mateen could be motivated to murder 49 people in a gay nightclub, interrupting the slaughter, as law-enforcement officials reported, to dial 911, proclaim his support for Islamic State and then pray to Allah.
I offer an explanation in the form of four propositions [read them in her piece].
. . . Following the horrific attack in Orlando, people as usual have been rushing to judgment. President Obama blames lax gun laws. Donald Trump blames immigration. Neither is right. There has been comparable carnage in countries with strict gun laws. The perpetrator in this case was born in the United States. This is not primarily about guns or immigration. It is about a deeply dangerous ideology that is infiltrating American society in the guise of religion. Homophobia comes in many forms. But none is more dangerous in our time than the Islamic version.
Finally, from Maajid Nawaz in the Daily Beast, “Admit it: These terrorists are Muslims” (if the link sends you to a paywall, just try putting the title into Google, which should give you a link that works fully). He points out the palpable dangers of refusing to discuss Islamist ideology, and offers a solution. An excerpt:
It is time that we liberals took the fabled red pill and accepted reality. Just as this clearly has something to do with outdated gun laws, and just as those laws need reform, this also has something to do with Islam, which also needs reform today. No other stance makes any sense.
. . . Liberals who claim that this has nothing to do with Islam today are being as unhelpful and as ignorant as conservatives who claim that this represents all of Islam. The problem so obviously has something to do with Islam. That something is Islamism, or the desire to impose any version of Islam over any society. Jihadism is the attempt to do so by force. This ideology of Islamism has been rising almost unchecked among Muslims for decades. It is a theocratic ideology, and theocracy should no longer have any place in the world today.
But it is as if we liberals will stoop to anything to avoid discussing ideology. We will initiate state sanctioned presidential kill lists and launch unaccountable targeted assassinations. Yet, no amount of drone strikes under Obama—at a rate that far exceeds Bush—will ever solve the problem. We cannot shoot our way out of an ideology. We cannot arrest our way out of an insurgency. Yes, law and war have their own place, but they will never solve the problem.
. . . What happens if we don’t name the Islamist ideology and distinguish it from Islam? We leave a void for the vast majority of Americans—who are unaware of the nuances in this debate—to be filled by Donald Trump and the Populist Right. They will go on to blame all versions of Islam and every Muslim, and their frustration at not being able to talk about the problem will give in to rage, as it has done. By refusing to discuss it, we only increase the hysteria. Like “he who must not be named”—the Voldemort Effect, I call it—we increase the fear.
. . . This September will mark 15 years since the 9/11 attacks, and we still haven’t devised a strategy to address Islamist extremism, let alone identified voices who can do so globally. Not al Qaeda, not ISIS, nor any other theocratic jihadist group that may emerge in the future, but a strategy that recognizes we are in the middle of a Cold War against theocracy. If we refuse to isolate, name and shame Islamist extremism, from fear of increasing anti-Muslim bigotry, we only increase anti-Muslim bigotry. If the rise of Trump has not convinced us of this yet, then nothing will.
Perhaps the days of Ostrich Leftism are over.
h/t: Grania, Dom