Sunday, July 04, 2004

Silly Questions

Silly questions – and the answers they deserve.

1. Is it racist to be against Islam?
No, Islam is not a race. There is no genetic explanation for Islam, and it can be cured.

2. Is it bigoted to be against Islam?
No, bigotry is unwarranted criticism. Is being against Communism bigotry?

3. Is being against Islam a prejudice?
A prejudice is a pre-judgment. If you properly criticize Islam after learning about the religion, it is not a prejudice.

4. Is Islam evil?
Only when practiced to the extent that a Muslim takes seriously his duty to wage jihad.

5. Isn’t moderate Islam the answer?
There is no moderate Islam but there are moderate Muslims. However, they don’t practice a different type of Islam called “moderate Islam”. They either don’t practice Islam or have become, in important ways, lax in their practice.

6. Why does the left side with Islamists?
A common enemy: America and global capitalism. Ref

7. Why are many conservatives soft on Islam?
The ecumenical conservatives believe all long-established religions have to be good. This is a positive prejudice that precedes any investigation of the specifics of Islam. Ref

8. Who are you to define Islam?
I don’t define Islam; Mohammed defined Islam 1400 years go according to the mythology.

9. Shouldn’t we ask Muslims about their religion?
Sure, but their feel-good propaganda reminds one of the uselessness of asking Communists about Communism.

10. I know Muslims who are nice people. Isn’t it unfair to generalize?
Such as “I know Muslims who are nice people and this proves Islam is good?”

11. But if some Muslims are good, surely that’s proof the religion can’t be bad?
Look, I knew card-carrying Communists who were polite, helpful, and obeyed the laws. But should that change my mind about an ideology that has killed over 100 million people and enslaved over a billion more?

12. But you can’t blame Islam for the acts of a few terrorists?
A century ago, a person like you might have said, “Don’t blame all Southern racists for the few who lynch. Not all racists lynch.” Such banality avoids the important point: racists fuel the hatred that creates the atmosphere that enables and encourages lynching. Islam, if you study it, is a religion that advocates jihad and religious supremacy. It is the basis for the violence and oppression we see today.

13. Jihad? Doesn’t jihad just mean struggle?
The core meaning of jihad is Holy War. Yes, the word can be used in a more general sense. Our word, “war,” means combat first and foremost. But we do use it in a more general sense. When Lyndon Johnson talked about the “war on poverty” he didn’t mean he wanted to shoot poor people.

14. Isn’t Islam inherently pro-Capitalist? Wasn’t Mohammad a merchant?
It’s true that Mohammad was once a merchant, but that was before he became a Muslim. After he became a Muslim and setup shop in Medina, he plundered caravans, slaughtered tribes, and kept 20% of the spoils. Expecting Muslims to have a soft spot for merchants is like expecting Christians to have a soft spot for carpenters.

15. Isn’t it unfair to generalize about Islam?
If so, then Islam has no identity. There must be some general things you can say about the religion if it has an identity.

16. Doesn’t Islam merely require you to practice the 5 pillars?
That’s like saying Christianity only requires that you be Baptized. There is a difference between what it takes to be in the fold and what the religion demands of you.

17. But isn’t there different types of Islam like there are different types of Christianity?
Many people will glibly say that there are Sunni and Shia Muslims just like there are Lutheran and Unitarian Christians. However, they do this without thinking. Why should we assume the difference between Sunni and Shia are as great as Lutheran and Unitarians? Why not compare the difference to that of Franciscans and Dominicans? Are the doctrinal differences as great as different sects or merely as minor as different orders? In actuality, the differences in Islam are much smaller than those in Christianity.

18. Christianity is 2000 years old while Islam is only 1400 years. Should we wait a few hundred years for Muslims to grow up?
We gave Communism less than 100 years. We only gave Hitler 15 years. Was that unfair? We’re not talking about children, but a recalcitrant warrior ideology: Islam.

19. I’ve read about a Muslim woman who is trying to change her religion. Isn’t there hope?
You mean Irshad Manji. She is obviously a very intelligent and articulate woman who deserves considerable respect. However, do you really think a Canadian Lesbian is going to become the savior of her religion? It’s far more likely that, upon his retirement, Congressman Barney Franks will be offered the chair of the political science department at Bob Jones University.

20. Did President Bush say Islam means peace?
Now, for once, here is a real case where he lied.

21. Shouldn’t we pretend we respect their religion so that they won’t get angry?
Did that work with the Nazis or Communists? Does being so cowardly and appeasing actually turn savages into civilized people? Does sparing negative criticism encourage change?

22. Didn’t we do injustice to Muslims?
Let’s see. We helped the Egyptians get back the Sinai from Israel and we give them over $2 billion a year. We help Afghanistan fight the USSR. We saved the Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo. We liberated Kuwait from Saddam and prevented Saddam from taking over Saudi Arabia. We saved Arafat from death in Lebanon. We help Arafat get setup in the West Bank. We help Iraqis get rid of Saddam and tried to help them establish a democracy.

23. Oh, but didn’t we do those things for our own interest?
That’s exactly what Arabs say. They hold the view that if you help someone and get something in return, it has no moral importance. It’s the opposite of the American view that interactions are mutually beneficial and that’s deserves moral praise. Muslims believe in the morality of altruism – the idea that moral praise requires a selfless consideration of others. America was built on the idea of self-reliance, self-actualization, and universal principle of the pursuit of happiness – not self-sacrifice and not martyrdom.

24. But don’t Muslim have some just grievances?
Muslim propaganda will list grievances to rationalize their atrocities.

25. But didn’t bin Laden explain that he killed 3000 on 9/11 because we had troops stationed in Saudi Arabia?
So? Thats part of the humiliation process. After an attack you tell the victims why they deserved it. When people like you repeat Muslim propaganda you help them complete his attack. You’ve become a useful idiot.

26. Why did he attack us on 9/11?
It was a religious act. It was an end in itself that was meant to galvanize the faithful and revive the original jihadist spirit of Islam. As a consequence he was hailed as a hero through out the Islamic world.

27. But why didn’t he attack Switzerland?
That’s funny! Obviously, that would be less of an achievement (although Arab terrorists did hit Switzerland in the early 1970s). Attacking the greatest and most powerful country on earth brings esteem to Islam and revives the notion that Muslims will once again rule the earth as Allah intended. Muslims cheered everywhere. Few Muslims cheered after Beslan, however.

28. Isn’t hate bad?
Hate is just a human emotion that is neither good nor bad in itself. There is no such thing as bad emotions. The important thing is why and to what is it directed. Is it wrong to hate injustice? Is it inappropriate to hate racism? Is it bad or silly to hate getting up in the morning? Hate is just another feeling – it merely means strong dislike.

29. But don’t we condemn people who hate?
There are some deplorable examples that you might rightly have in mind. There is a hate that is fundamental and all pervasive that it consumes and destroys. Perhaps nihilism is a better word for it. It is not derivative in the sense that it is not a rational response to something that threatens values or life. It exists without cause and bounds. Perhaps irrational hate is a better way of referring to this. We see this today in the Islamic world and it is directed towards America and Israel.

30. But aren’t you advocating hating Muslims?
Never! I use the term “Muslims” to refer to a demographic group that spans the range from devout jihadists to secular non-practicing Muslims. This is nothing more than a nominal label. My Almanac says that 99.8% of Turks are Muslims but Turkey is a secular society that includes a sizeable number of people who aren’t religious at all. Besides, most Muslims are themselves victims of Islam. But then again, most Germans were victims of Nazism (only 1/3 voted for Hitler).

31. Are you advocating hatred of Islam?
I’m calling attention to the danger of Islam in the modern world. This is a backwards irrational religious ideology that can do great harm to civilization and the people you and I love. The important thing is to intellectually understand the danger – not to wallow in hate or anger. If you feel a gut response to this threat, so be it. But thinking clear is what is important.

32. Will we have to kill them all?
This is absurd and obscene. Did we kill all the Nazis or Japanese during WWII? Muslims are not nearly as intransigent as our previous foes.

33. But aren’t you advocating genocide?
I find this insulting and obscene. Over the last century, there has been slaughter on massive scale but it wasn’t America that was responsible for these atrocities. America fought against the forces of totalitarianism that brought the deaths of over 100 million. To suggest that America is or will do anything of this sort is outrageous. If you want to see indiscriminate mass slaughter, look at the actions of Muslims terrorists starting from 9/11. This is just a small sample of what they would do if they had the means.

34. But we should always avoid killing anyone, right?
Are us suggesting that we surrender and submit to Islam?

35. But how do you stop a religion that’s 1400 years old?
First, let’s understand how Islam’s become a problem in the last few decades. Fifty years ago, Islam was marginalized in most Arab and Islamic countries. It was practiced mechanically, ritualistically or in backward locales. Most modern Muslim had viewed Islam as a backwards force in their society. Unfortunately, they saw the totalitarian ideologies of fascism and communism as the modern ideal. It was a failure of these alternatives that gave the Islamic revival a chance.

36. How do we fight Islam them?
First and foremost we must understand Islam. Then we must be honest and express our contempt and outrange. We must be vigorous in our criticism. Without these steps all other steps will be useless or, at best, merely buy us time in the short run.

37. Are you advocating a war?
I don’t have a battle plan, that’s not what I do best. In part we will have to use the military. However, as long as we continue to show respect for Islam, we will help it grow. As long as Muslims aren’t ashamed of Islam, they will have little incentive to question it. War is the most costly means and it will be required inversely to the degree which we continue to appease our enemies and respect their ideology.

38. Did we ask good questions?
No, those were kindergarten questions that should have been dispatched long ago. We have to move beyond these silly charges of bigotry, genocide, hatred and the like. It was painful but it was necessary. Now we are ready for the good questions.

39.Where can I learn more about Islam?
See my list of references.