Monday, August 30, 2010

Taking Sides

I'm no fan of Islam—far from it, in fact. In a world that has been plagued by religious violence and repression for roughly as long as religion has existed, Islam stands out as the worst offender, and that scares the hell out of me.

It's a religion whose followers are responsible for stonings,[1] female genital mutilation, and suicide bombings. It's the dominant religion in nearly every country that still criminalizes homosexuality. Islamic countries are among the most hostile to press freedom and Internet freedom. Islamic countries are among the leading perpetrators of violence against women, terrorism, war, and, really, just about any form of religion-fueled atrocity going on in the world today.

In other words, it's a religion I'd really prefer not to have to defend.

And I wouldn't, if we could all just show some basic respect for freedom of religion and freedom of expression and all those other rights that exist for the sole purpose of protecting groups and ideas that are unpopular. And if we all had the decency to refrain from condemning innocent people for the crimes of others.

But, as a society, we don't always show that kind of respect and decency. A lot of us find this upsetting, so we speak out, and this is the thanks we get for being patriotic, freedom-loving Americans:
America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization. Sadly, too many of our elites are the willing apologists for those who would destroy them if they could.
Yes, Mr. Gingrich, I'm a willing apologist for those who, given the opportunity, would destroy America. I've carefully examined all the information and weighed the relative merits of the opposing arguments, and, I'm sad to say, it's time to admit defeat and hand over the keys. Oh well, America had a good run.

Seriously though, how should I respond to that? I'm sick of giving disclaimers ("Just because I believe X doesn't mean I believe Y, as should be obvious because Y is stupid and do I look like I'm stupid?").[2] I suppose I could roll my eyes and stop listening, but then I'd have nothing to complain about.

I don't know if this is just a natural byproduct of conservative fear-mongering, or a brilliant plan to force political opponents to publicly support unfavorable causes, but either way, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Carl Paladino, and whoever else have seemingly done the impossible. They've made every effort to frame the participants in a debate as, on one side, average Americans, and, on the other, extremist Muslims, and, you know what? I'd much rather side with the Muslims.[3]

1. And not back in the dark ages when everybody was doing it; I'm talking about this freaking year.
2. See also: "No, I don't think children are worse off with married, opposite-sex parents," "no, I don't think widespread marijuana use is good for society," and "that's ridiculous, of course I support the troops."
3. No, just because I disagree with Newt and other conservatives on this particular issue doesn't mean I equate them with Muslim extremists in general, as should be obvious because that would be stupid and do I look like I'm stupid?


  1. Great article James, this is Chris Williams. Only one quibble. While I agree that Islamic fundamentalist are the most vocally supportive of violence, the overall damage done by Catholics far outstrips anything some loons with aks and explosives can bring to bear.

  2. Hm, that's an interesting point. You may be right about the overall effect, but Islam still seems to have a greater capacity for evil. That is, it's a religion that tends to inspire direct violence, whereas the problems associated with Catholicism mostly stem from the church's misuse of its own massive influence. So yeah, it's terrible that the Catholic church is, for example, contributing to the AIDS crisis in Africa by continuing to oppose condoms, but at least we can argue with them about that, because in some backwards way they probably mean well. We can't argue with someone who just wants to kill as many infidels as possible.

    Also, thanks for reading and commenting!