Monday, August 29, 2005

Resolved: Islam Is Racism

Critics of Islam continually face charges of racism. Islam, for those still ignorant, is a religion, not a race. However, it’s not ignorance—the race card is used deliberately to shut down the debate on the nature of this religious ideology. If yelling racism doesn’t work, expect the usual charges of bigotry, prejudice, and most recently, Islamophobia. Why doesn’t such a barrage of verbal intimidation accompany a doctrinal analysis of other philosophies - such as the ideas of Existentialism or Buddhism?

The charges themselves are absurd; let’s dismiss them one by one. Criticism of Islam cannot be racist because, once again, Islam is a religion. Charges of bigotry are not applicable to a critical assessment of an ideology; bigotry is an unwarranted negative assessment of a demographic group. Prejudice is a pre-judgment and doesn’t apply to statements derived from an examination of the evidence. Islamophobia is a silly psycho-babble term invented to fan the flames of anti-American hate.

Clearly, this name-calling is a tactic of intimidation to shut down the debate. Instead of being intimidated, let’s debate. But let’s consider the charge in reverse:

Resolved: Islam is racism.

Aff: Islam is a supremacist ideology holding that non-Muslims, Dar al-Harb, must be conquered and subjugated. Christians and Jews can continue to exist – as second class citizens with limited privileges. They are treated as less than human by constant vilification, exploitation, and humiliation. Atheists and polytheists must be killed. If it is not racism to treat Christians and Jews as second class citizens under Islam’s version of Jim Crow, then it wasn’t racism when American Blacks lived in the Jim Crow South.

Neg: It is unfair to compare the Islamic concept of Dhimmis to Jim Crow. Dhimmis is a form of tolerance, a contract of protection, extended to Christian and Jews in Islamic society. Thus, they are allowed to live, practice their religion and remain exempt from enslavement. For all this you only pay the jizya – poll tax that applies to non-Muslims.

Aff: Tolerance, in this case, means the grudging acceptance of an inferior being – not the mutual respect for inalienable universal human rights. Islamic apologetics imply that sparing a non-Muslim life is a favor: “just be glad we don’t kill you like atheists and polytheists.” The purpose of dhimmis is two fold: wealth for the Islamic state from the jizya and the reaffirmation of the supremacist ideology by ritualistic humiliation. Non-Muslims had to keep to back streets, walk with head lowered, quietly accept insults, and wear special clothing to signify their status. They had no right to self-defense; their word counted less than a Muslim’s or not at all; their punishment was greater. Physical blows were administered when the jizya was collected. Yes, Christian and Jews fared better than other non-Muslims – whose death was mandatory. Both show Islam’s barbaric supremacist mindset.

Neg: But Jews were often persecuted and killed in Christian countries during the Dark Ages. There was no compact that protected their lives in Christendom. Islamic law may not have respected the rights of non-Muslims but it allowed them to live.

Aff: If you have to go back to the Dark Ages, the most brutal period in the history of Western Civilization, to get a favorable comparison, doesn’t that say something? Must one hold the bar so low for Islam? It is true that Muslims were not the only brutal people in history that subjugate and killed others. What is at issue is whether the doctrine of Islam is inherently a supremacist ideology and incompatible with the equal rights of each and every individual human being.

Neg: But today we see Muslims being subject to discrimination. Look at the Zionists! Zionism is racism.

Aff: Israel’s Arabs, 20% of the population, fully participate in Israel’s democracy, attend some of the best universities, and have a standard of living better than Arabs in any other country without the windfall of oil. In contrast, Arab countries have ethnically cleansed their lands of Jews (most of whom found refuge in Israel). We find the same pattern elsewhere. In India, 13% are Muslims while less than 1% of Pakistanis are Hindu. We find Muslims in the Balkans (a former part of the Turkish Empire) but less than 0.2% of Turkey is Greek Orthodox today even though it was part of Greece for 2000 years. And Turkey is presented as the poster child of moderate Islam.

Neg: Islam’s basis of discrimination is religion, not race. Conversion gives one full rights. Submission spares one’s life. Obedience to Allah’s messenger and their rightful heirs is all that is required.

Aff: It is political obedience that Islam requires. It is not the beliefs of Christian, Jews, atheists, or Hindus that are forbidden. The religious designation of non-Muslims is merely a demographic signifier to designate a group refused equal rights under Islamic rule. It’s merely the demographic group that merits second class citizenship.

Neg: It still isn’t based on race.

Final Resolution: Islam isn’t literally racism, but as a supremacist ideology that’s akin to racism, it requires actions to subjugate those who aren’t Muslim. Islam holds that Allah has given Muslims a mandate for worldwide imperialist domination.

If racism is used in a wider sense than racial supremacy, Islam is first-in-line for re-classification. However, the politicization of language is deplorable. Islam isn’t strictly speaking racism but it is a supremacist ideology that can be equally as vicious.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said Jason. It is extremely difficult to continue the debate when sometime shouts racist/bigot,etc, at you. I think it is because of multi-culturalism (not that I am against it). We have become ingrained to believe that speaking out about somebody else's race/religion is not on. But if we are truly a 'free people' ,then debating thiers, ours and everyone elses beliefs can only be benificial.
Although Muslim extremists abhor our democracy, and everthing that goes with it, they have become very good at using its tools to stop the debate and turn normally intelligent peolpe to their side.

8/29/05, 7:25 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Just last week, one of my debate students mentioned the possibility of debating a resolution about Islam. And here you've written about Islam in debate format.

Great conclusion, BTW.

8/29/05, 8:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An excellent article. Having just been called a neo-Nazi on another blog for criticising Islam, the ideology, not Muslims, the people, I'm finding it feels like a breath of fresh air to come here and read some common sense.

Your debunking of accusations of bigotry is also helpful. Bigotry, like prejudice, implies that you don't know about something, and that, if only you did, you would feel more positive about it.

With me, the reverse was true. When I knew nothing about Islam, I thought it was a religion like any other, hijacked by extremists. The more I learned about it, the more I realised that the religion itself is the cause of the problems.

8/30/05, 9:59 AM  

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