Let’s kill Jesus!

tintin-writingThis is the story of Jesus, the reporter. He did a series of interviews with representatives of different extremist factions in this world. This post contains fragments of his conversations, references to actual events and commentaries by an expert. It also reveals what eventually happened to this alleged devil’s advocate.

From an interview with Richie, representative of the Right to Eliminate Disorder (RED) party.

Jesus: What is your ultimate political goal?

Richie: We want to protect our western system of law and order by eliminating the main source of violence in this world, which is Islam.

Jesus: Don’t you think that Muslims might feel discriminated against if you try to ban their religion from your society? The majority of Muslims is not causing any problems. More of them might when they feel attacked.

Richie: Every Muslim is a potential terrorist because of the true, decadent, barbaric and violent nature of Islamic ideology. Only a tiny minority of so-called Muslims is able to live among us in a lasting peaceful fashion because they’re actually no real Muslims. We’re defending our western culture.

Jesus: One of the main achievements of your culture is the freedom of religion and the separation of Church and State. Aren’t you destroying that culture, instead of defending it, by prohibiting Islam?

Richie:  No. You have to understand that Muslims want to impose their way of life on the rest of the world. They have no respect for the separation of Church and State. Just look at Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia. So, instead of destroying our culture with its separation of Church and State and freedom of religion, we would defend it by politically and legally prohibiting the religion of Islam.

Jesus: Aren’t you imposing your way of life then? In fact, aren’t you imitating countries like Saudi Arabia by imposing your ideological preferences?

Richie: We’re not imposing any ideological preference. We’re protecting a true, neutral perspective.

Jesus: By prohibiting Islam, based on your interpretation of that religion?

Richie: Our interpretation corresponds with the interpretation of organizations like ISIL.

Jesus: And that’s a neutral interpretation?

Richie: Well, yes!

Jesus: They are in favor of a particular ideological Islamic system, while you are against that system, but you are both convinced of the same system representing the true nature of Islam? There’s no discussion about that?

Richie: No discussion. Accept the truth: they want to eradicate us! Ask me something else!

Jesus: Are you willing to sacrifice yourself to protect your cultural identity?

Richie: Yes. I would consider it an honor.

Jesus: Am I getting this right? You are prepared to sacrifice yourself because you don’t want to become the victim of an organization like ISIL; becoming its victim would be a disgrace, becoming a sacrifice by fighting it would be an honor? You are prepared to die so you won’t get killed? It seems you’re accomplishing exactly what you’re trying to avoid. Instead of saving your life, you’re losing it.

Richie: Listen, for once and for all, the Muslims are attacking us. We have the right to defend ourselves. Our violence is justified, theirs is not justified. I’m willing to die in the name of righteousness to establish an order and a peace where the terrorists are eliminated.

Jesus: If I may refer to Star Wars, you are the Jedi and they are the Sith?

Richie: Exactly!

Jesus: But isn’t that a matter of perspective? In the end, you’re both killers, establishing a peace at the expense of sacrifices?

filip-dewinter-assadFACT, NOT FICTION: At the beginning of February, 2017, Filip Dewinter, member of Belgian’s federal parliament and one of the leaders of far-right political party Vlaams Belang paid a visit to Assad and his regime. He turned a blind eye to the massive violence of that regime (a new report reveals more Syrians are killed by Assad’s regime than by Jihadist organizations), claiming the regime of Assad was a bulwark against terrorism. Instead, he could have considered that the violence of Assad might convince more Syrians to take sides with Jihadist factions. What if your brother is arrested, tortured and murdered by the Assad regime on vague charges of ‘insulting the regime’? Wouldn’t you be angry at the regime, also at those you perceive as allies of the regime? So, instead of eliminating the threat of terrorism Filip Dewinter seems to feed it!

Richie: This is the way of the world. There’s a constant battle of good versus evil.

Jesus: But how good is ‘good’ when it establishes a system in the same way as the so-called ‘evil’ side would do it?

quebec-shooting-vigilsFACT, NOT FICTION: January 30, 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette, a 27-year-old university student, killed six people in a mosque in Québec (Canada).

Richie: What do you propose then?

Jesus: Maybe the question is not whether you are in favor of or against a particular system. Maybe the question is whether the system can be used or transformed in such a way that it enables you to love your enemy? After all, our enemies remain fellow human beings. If we can love them, then they can love us too. If we can transform our system, then they can do the same thing.

My advice would be: don’t imitate the hatred and the violence of certain people by taking revenge on those you associate with them (but who are actually innocent). In other words, don’t look for scapegoats, because it will only plant seeds for new violence. The threat you feared but wasn’t there, will become real, like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Richie: Shut up with your nonsense! The threat is real and has always been real. What did you say your name was again?

Jesus: Jesus.

Richie: I’ll remember you.

From an interview with Idris, representative of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) party.

Jesus: What is your ultimate political goal?

Idris: We want to protect our Islamic system of law and order by eliminating the main source of violence in this world, which is western culture.

Jesus: Don’t you think that westerners might feel discriminated against if you try to ban their culture from your society? The majority of westerners is not causing any problems. More of them might when they feel attacked.

Idris: Every westerner is a potential terrorist because of the true, decadent, barbaric and violent nature of western culture. Only a tiny minority of so-called westerners is able to live among us in a lasting peaceful fashion because they’re actually no real westerners. They converted to Islam. We’re defending our Islamic culture.

Jesus: One of the core convictions of your culture is the conviction that there should be no compulsion in religion. Aren’t you destroying that culture, instead of defending it, by prohibiting western culture?

Idris:  No. You have to understand that westerners want to impose their way of life on the rest of the world. They have no respect for the conviction that there should be no compulsion in religion, one way or the other. Just look at western countries trying to ban Muslims. It’s just one of the measures suppressing Muslims. Muslims who live in western countries are constantly discriminated against. However, no one can prevent me from being a Muslim, and I will avert any culture that tries to suppress Islam.

US President Trump swears in General Mattis as US Defense Secretary . DCFACT, NOT FICTION: President Trump signed an executive order on January 27 that banned entry into the US by anyone from seven majority-Muslim countries for 90 days, and banned nearly all refugees for 120 days.

Jesus: But aren’t you imitating potential Muslim bans by averting western culture all together? Aren’t you imposing your ideological preferences just the same?

Idris: We’re not imposing any ideological preference. We’re protecting a true, divine perspective.

Jesus: By advocating Islam, based on your interpretation of that religion?

Idris: Our interpretation corresponds with the interpretation of the wicked who try to ban us.

Jesus: And that’s a true interpretation?

Idris: Well, yes!

Jesus: They are against a particular ideological Islamic system, while you are in favor of that system, but you are both convinced of the same system representing the true nature of Islam? There’s no discussion about that?

Idris: No discussion. They refuse to accept the divine truth and want to eradicate us. Ask me something else!

Jesus: Are you willing to sacrifice yourself to protect your cultural identity?

Idris: Yes. I would consider it an honor.

Jesus: Am I getting this right? You are prepared to sacrifice yourself because you don’t want to become the victim of an organization like RED; becoming its victim would be a disgrace, becoming a sacrifice by fighting it would be an honor? You are prepared to die so you won’t get killed? It seems you’re accomplishing exactly what you’re trying to avoid. Instead of saving your life, you’re losing it.

Idris: Listen, for once and for all, the westerners are attacking us. We have the right to defend ourselves. Our violence is justified, theirs is not justified. I’m willing to die in the name of righteousness to establish an order and a peace where the terrorists are eliminated.

Jesus: If I may refer to Star Wars, you are the Jedi and they are the Sith?

Idris: Exactly!

Jesus: But isn’t that a matter of perspective? In the end, you’re both killers, establishing a peace at the expense of sacrifices?

Idris: This is the way of the world. There’s a constant battle of good versus evil.

Jesus: But how good is ‘good’ when it establishes a system in the same way as the so-called ‘evil’ side would do it?

Idris: What do you propose then?

Jesus: Maybe the question is not whether you are in favor of or against a particular system. Maybe the question is whether the system can be used or transformed in such a way that it enables you to love your enemy? After all, our enemies remain fellow human beings. If we can love them, then they can love us too. If we can transform our system, then they can do the same thing.

My advice would be: don’t imitate the hatred and the violence of certain people by taking revenge on those you associate with them (but who are actually innocent). In other words, don’t look for scapegoats, because it will only plant seeds for new violence. The threat you feared but wasn’t there, will become real, like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Idris: Shut up with your nonsense! The threat is real and has always been real. What did you say your name was again?

Jesus: Jesus.

Idris: I’ll remember you.

Comments by Parry, the Paranoiac.

I’m an expert in politics. It is crystal clear that RED and ISIL made a pact. After all, they need each other to exist.

On the one hand, a violent act by RED can be presented by ISIL as proof of the fact that western culture is the enemy of Islam, and then ISIL can sell itself as a Messiah that will liberate the Muslim world of all evil.

On the other hand, a violent act by ISIL can be presented by RED as proof of the fact that Islam is the enemy of western culture, and then RED can sell itself as a Messiah that will liberate the western world of all evil.

Of course, in both cases, the evil cannot really disappear for these so-called Messiahs can only justify their existence and hold on to their power because of the problem they’re supposedly fighting against. In other words, they are false Messiahs.

Anyway, Satan cannot cast out Satan.

assad-false-messiahFACT, NOT FICTION: Syrian dictator Assad released Jihadist extremists to tinge the rebellion against his regime with extremism. Thus he made it harder for foreign forces to back the rebels, at the same time presenting himself as a ‘savior’.

From an interview with Seth, representative of the Secularists of Society (SOS) party, and some excerpts from comments by Robbie, yet another member of the Right to Eliminate Disorder (RED) party.

Jesus: You claim to have a solution for the problem of the so-called ‘culture war’ between parties like RED and ISIL. Could you present your main ideas?

Seth: I’d be happy to. The core of the problem is the very concept of a cultural identity based on all kinds of ancient national traditions or religious ideas. My organization is convinced that the economy, more specifically a global system of economic liberalism, serves as the best basis for developing whatever identity. Instead of one culture violently competing with another because they want to occupy the same position (and thus cannot accept each other’s differences), the economic system will guarantee that differences are established after an honest competition for similar positions (and thus must be accepted).

Peace would be established if everyone agreed upon the same economic system, and if everyone was granted the same chances within that system. If this were the case, your social identity and position would be based on your own merits, and no one would be allowed to question the identity and position of another. Cultural and religious items would become private items, available at and provided by the market as well, for each individual. The problems from the past, where social identities and positions were often established because of cultural and religious traditions, would evaporate. In any case, identities based on nationalism or religion (or both) need to disappear in favor of identities based on a global meritocratic system.

Jesus: But then again a type of rivalry will arise. Not everyone will accept a definition of his or her identity by the economic system. Also this system exists at the expense of sacrificing other systems. Moreover, what will happen if people don’t just accept their position and get frustrated because they belong to the so-called ‘losers’ of society? Maybe they will create a counter-culture like ISIL where they feel like ‘winners’, and, being guided by resentment, thus condemn the society they previously desired to be a significant part of. And then we’re back from where we started.

auto-radicalizationFACT, NOT FICTION: Europol notices that more and more young people who didn’t grow up in Muslim families become jihadists. The federal prosecutor of Belgium Frédéric Van Leeuw recently said that “the reason why young people depart for Syria lies in society”. The European Institute of Peace recently put together a social mapping of Molenbeek (Brussels), and looked at the causes of violent extremism in neighborhoods with the highest amount of foreign fighters. Not surprisingly perhaps, these neighborhoods were the poorest of Molenbeek. The research reveals that, because of the very superficial knowledge of Islam, religion is not the cause of radicalization; a feeling of being discriminated against is. Religion is an outlet, a consequence of frustrations which are the true cause of violent extremism. Young people with identity issues, who feel left behind and excluded by our performance oriented western culture, auto-radicalize through the internet where they find a virtual community of ‘fellow excluded people’ (for instance Muslims and refugees).

Seth: What did you say your name was again?

Jesus: Jesus.

Seth: I’ll remember you.

Comments by Robbie, member of RED.

I totally disagree with the policy of Seth and SOS. I’m a nationalist, and I have the right to protect my national cultural identity. Moreover, I’m also religious (contrary to Richie, our representative). I just can’t stand God’s laws being threatened by a decadent consumer culture. Mark my words, it won’t be long until the wrath of God descends upon us.

From an interview with Lizzy, representative of the Being Left Unjustly Exposed (BLUE) party, and some excerpts from comments by Ibrahim, yet another member of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) party.

Jesus: You criticize the solutions to the current crisis in the world proposed by SOS. Do you have a better one?

Lizzy: Well, yes. The problem is that meritocracy isn’t functioning like it should. People, especially young people, get frustrated because some people get way more than they deserve. If we redistribute wealth, give everyone the same basic income, we can stop organizations like ISIL from recruiting depressed and frustrated young people. The need for religion will automatically disappear, especially if we don’t talk about it anymore in schools and in education.

FACT, NOT FICTION: Communist regimes of the past already tried to eradicate religion, with due consequences for religious people (who experienced discrimination). For instance in the Soviet Union.

Jesus: Is that a good idea, making religion a taboo? It will continue to flourish on the internet, and young people who don’t know anything about it might fall victim to malicious minds who use religion for evil purposes.

Lizzy: We will do everything to eradicate religion, smoothly. After all, we don’t need it, do we?

Jesus: Once again, also this system exists at the expense of sacrifices. Is our identity as a human being only defined by what we need (or learned to need)? That’s a poor way of approaching others. As if others are only worth something because I would need them.

Lizzy: What did you say your name was again?

Jesus: Jesus.

Lizzy: I’ll remember you.

Comments by Ibrahim, member of ISIL.

At first I thought BLUE was protecting Muslim interests. It provided extra educational programs for free, which I thought was a good thing. Coming from a poor family, I didn’t have the means to catch up with my friends in high school. We were all just playing around, but the wealthy parents of my friends could pay for tutors and extra classes when they were not studying well. I was left behind. My friends were characterized as ‘adventurous youth’, while I was characterized as a ‘dipshit’ for committing the same misdemeanors. If BLUE thinks that I would give up on my religion to lead the same decadent life as my former friends, then it is wrong.

Epilogue by Parry, the Paranoiac.

This is how the story of Jesus and his interviews ends.

A small part of religious RED members forged an alliance with a small part of ISIL members, fighting the secularism of both SOS and BLUE. As the rivalry between RED and ISIL for the same position in society thereby somewhat temporarily ended because they found a common enemy, also the rivalry between SOS and BLUE to gain control over society temporarily ended because of their common religious enemy.

FACT, NOT FICTION: Two days after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, two evangelicals, shared their “theological” views on the terrorist violence (transcript from the 700 club, a well-known evangelical television program in the States – September 13, 2001). Especially these comments are telling:
survivors of 9-11 attacksJERRY FALWELL: The ACLU’s got to take a lot of blame for this.
PAT ROBERTSON: Well yes.
JERRY FALWELL: And, I know that I’ll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way – all of them who have tried to secularize America – I point the finger in their face and say “you helped this happen.”
PAT ROBERTSON: Well, I totally concur…

As time went by, however, the old animosities became apparent again, until… the Evil Mastermind appeared. He was able to sense that Jesus had irritated all parties. Jesus had been everybody’s obstacle. The Evil Mastermind could turn him into the enemy of all, uniting the whole world against Jesus. “Let’s kill Jesus!” became his war cry. Thus the Evil Mastermind created peace, once again, at the expense of a sacrifice.

kruisiging-servaes

The story of Jesus could have ended here, were it not that within each faction against him, there were people who realized that Jesus had done nothing wrong. They felt guilty because they hadn’t done anything to protect him, although Jesus himself had always pointed out the danger of eliminating innocent people (scapegoats) to establish peace. Some of them claimed that they had experienced the presence of Jesus beyond his death, meaning that they experienced a second chance to protect his life, the life of the scapegoats. They started questioning the unity against the common enemy of their respective factions. They created non-violent enmity in their own household by loving their external enemy, thus opening up the possibility of a peace that is not established at the expense of sacrifice – a peace of a different world.

Lamb of God.jpg

22 comments

  1. Ra · 10 Days Ago

    “The majority of Muslims is not causing any problems. More of them might when they feel attacked.”

    What other groups of people behave like that? Numerous unarmed black men are tragically gunned down every year in America, and yet we don’t typically fear that black people might start “causing problems,” probably because the consummate paragon of the African American community is the non-violent exemplar that was Martin Luther King Jr., as opposed to the violent example of Islam’s prophet of prophets, Muhammad. I am all for freedom of religion, but unlike too many in the West these days, I do not for a second underestimate the ancient imperialist ambitions of Islam’s adherents, for until quite recently I was a Muslim myself (https://youtu.be/vVQrjA0lHbs?t=13m7s). I grew up in a Muslim-majority country (https://youtu.be/cShGtgSMmjQ?t=14s). I know what is preached in the mosques every Friday (https://youtu.be/FnxVItgfgJ4?t=3m10s). Do you?

    Like

    • erik buys · 10 Days Ago

      So what do you suggest? What to do with Muslims?

      By the way, did you notice the vigil of Muslims in Québec?

      Or this: http://www.timesofisrael.com/norwegian-muslims-volunteer-to-protect-synagogue/

      People are people.

      Like

      • Ra · 10 Days Ago

        There is actually a middle ground between what the right is seeing and refusing to see and what the left is seeing and refusing to see (https://salamamoussa.com/2016/10/01/of-migrants-and-immigrants/). A total ban is absolutely out of the question, of course. But neither is a laissez-faire approach to multiculturalism. The key is sustained engagement and confident critique. I — as well as so many others, not only former but liberal and progressive Muslims as well — am living proof of that. Take people like us seriously. After all, unlike you, we know from reason and experience what we are talking about. You simply cannot be afraid to examine, to inquire, to offend. If other religions can be freely criticized and satirized, then making an exception for Islam, as the left has so often done, is precisely the sort of thing that drives the right further and further away from the center. Do that long enough and Trump is exactly what you’ll get. Also, Muslims can do good, yes. Nobody in their right mind would dispute that. My parents are Muslims. My siblings are Muslims. My friends and family back where I grew up are Muslims. Of course they can do good things and be good people. But your response betrays your blind spots, Erik. Do you also say, What about all those Catholic priests that did not molest children? What about all those Germans that did not massacre the Jews? What about all those Evangelicals that did not hate gay people? What about all those Mormons that did not have multiple wives? What about all those times I did not break the law? You don’t do that, do you? In fact, I am confident that it had never even occurred to you to think that, much less to say it as a defense. The absurdity of it all, the sheer abdication of reason, would be plainly self-evident. But why is it whenever someone points out a problematic feature or practice or conduct of Islam’s adherents, well-meaning people like you never seem capable of just dealing with it (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/EJ18Ae02.html), grappling with it (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/06/27/former-asian-leader-wont-stop-claiming-jews-rule-the-world/), processing it rationally (http://nurfarhana930.blogspot.com/2017/01/of-syrian-iraq-and-other-crises.html)? Why, instead, do you always jump straight ahead into apologetics? What explains that need to be exceptionally, impeccably obtuse when it comes to Islam? I am a gay man who has been bashed a number of times by Muslims, one time even by my own father. Tell me, do you also wish me to ponder what about all those times I was not bashed by them?

        Like

      • erik buys · 10 Days Ago

        I’m questioning the way an organization like ISIL approaches Islam and western culture, because I suspect their opinions can be critiqued by other Muslims and Islam itself. Am I wrong?

        If someone would come up to me and suggest that all Muslims are potential bashers of gay people, I would react by saying that this simply isn’t true.

        Like

      • Ra · 10 Days Ago

        Problems like ISIS are easy to deal with because of its obvious wrongness. Of course most Muslims are not rampaging murderers or gay bashers, whether actual or potential. No, Erik, that is not what mainstream critics of Islam are talking about when they talk about Islam’s problems with modernity. Our concern is precisely the opposite: mainstream Muslims, who are overwhelmingly traditional, and, yes, non-violent. Our concern is these perfectly respectable (https://youtu.be/e403Hn3L9CU?t=59m13s), law-abiding (https://youtu.be/fMB2sK5ChvE?t=4m56s), soft-spoken (https://youtu.be/3kDbqABvEN0?t=3m30s) Muslim leaders, these university professors and popular preachers (https://youtu.be/84w-MAOyHFE?t=25s) who believe in heinous things (https://youtu.be/Z434kGxDWkE?t=43m44s), who only show their true feelings about the society they’re living in when they think nobody outside the community is listening (https://youtu.be/By_lwNSWZu4?t=1m56s), whose views would doubtless be relentlessly lampooned if they were voiced by their Jewish or Christian counterparts (https://youtu.be/DlWlMWybdJw?t=6s). Who’s going to critique them (http://www.thelocal.dk/20151013/danish-muslims-more-devout-than-in-years-past)? People like you who are so easily disarmed by “public relations stunt, the type that seems to dupe Western audiences again and again” (http://muslimlawprof.org/2016/09/female-genital-mutilation-male-sexual-weakness/)? You see, well-meaning people like you like to talk as if Muslims had only just recently met modernity, which is patently untrue (http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/history/history-ideas-and-intellectual-history/arabic-thought-liberal-age-17981939). And yet unlike Jews and Christians, their intolerant, illiberal, traditional beliefs have remained remarkably stable after all this time: they’re virtually unchanged. That’s what we are concerned about. Not a single Muslim-majority country has a majority that thinks that homosexuality should be accepted; most, in fact, criminalize it. That should worry you. Large majorities of Muslims across the globe think that apostasy and blasphemy should be illegal. You should be vexed by that, or at least acknowledge that it’s a serious, rational concern, not an irrational phobia. Not everyone can pack their bags and leave their homeland like I did. “Civilisations die from suicide,” Erik, “not murder.” You would do well to ponder those words of Toynbee. People are not just people; people have beliefs, and beliefs, if go unreckoned long enough, have consequences. You don’t have to kill Jesus. If you had only counted the number of Christians left in Muslim lands, you would have known that for all intents and purposes, he’s already dead.

        Like

      • erik buys · 10 Days Ago

        “Civilizations die from suicide…” Indeed, I point that out in the article: sacrificing yourself in order not to become a victim.

        I don’t doubt there are serious problems in the Muslim world (as there are serious problems in the western world as well).

        My question remains: what to do according to you?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ra · 10 Days Ago

        “What to do”? As I said, sustained engagement and confident critique. Stop equating rational critique of Islam with irrational fear or hatred of Muslims, as you often do here. Support genuinely progressive Muslim organizations (e.g. http://www.mpvusa.org/, http://musliminstitute.org/about-us/overview, http://www.quilliaminternational.com/, etc.), not deride them as self-hating native informers, as the left tends to do these days. Participate in your local mosque’s social gatherings or interfaith dialogues, which I still do even though I have exited the faith. Talk to Muslim youths and listen to them. In my experience, many have difficulties fully accepting what they’ve been taught especially about people traditionally condemned by the faith like gays and non-Muslims, particularly when what they’ve been taught to believe plainly do not fit with their actual experience interacting with gay and non-Muslim persons at school and beyond. And stop being so afraid of causing offense. If anything, they will thank you for being honest and truthful. And for the love of God, stop “All Lives Matter” Muslim issues, whether fringe ones like terrorism or mainstream ones like misogyny and homophobia. Yes, there are Christian terrorists out there but they’re not actively trying to seize territory or get their hands on nuclear weapons, nor, for that matter, is their reach — their networks, their goals — global. Yes, non-Muslims can be misogynists and homophobes too but come on, people, it’s the case of apples and oranges here (http://www.pewglobal.org/2013/06/04/the-global-divide-on-homosexuality/#where-homosexuality-is-rejected, http://68.media.tumblr.com/cae5db845a66218c6914273a598b1ff3/tumblr_o7bfjyQslO1s9p6kto1_1280.jpg). Pretending otherwise is about as Trumpian as you can get.

        Like

      • erik buys · 10 Days Ago

        “Stop equating rational critique of Islam with irrational fear or hatred of Muslims, as you often do here.”

        Where am I doing this???

        “Participate in your local mosque’s social gatherings or interfaith dialogues, which I still do even though I have exited the faith. Talk to Muslim youths and listen to them.”

        That’s what I do and what I tell my students to do.

        Like

      • Ra · 10 Days Ago

        “Where am I doing this???”

        See any of your posts with any of the so-called New Atheists in them. In fact, I landed on your blog in the first place because I googled for Bill Maher.

        Like

      • erik buys · 10 Days Ago

        You consider the so-called new atheists’ critique of Islam (or religion in general) as ‘rational critique’? And you take Bill Maher as an example? Come on, Ra, Bill Maher equated religion with fundamentalism in Religulous. You take him way too seriously. Time to get over my critique of his statements.

        Did you notice that I offer a rational critique of fundamentalism on this site as well? Also of fundamentalist Christians like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, by the way.

        For the record, I’m in no way a proponent of an easy multiculturalism. Also on this site, I have criticized practices like female circumcision very often, attacking the idea that it should be tolerated because of a so-called respect for other cultures. On the other hand, I’m also not an ultra-leftist, as this post also makes clear.

        As for the ‘rationality’ of new atheism, take this observation by Michael Ruse (an atheist himself), for instance (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2009/nov/02/atheism-dawkins-ruse):

        Unlike the new atheists, I take scholarship seriously. I have written that The God Delusion made me ashamed to be an atheist and I meant it. Trying to understand how God could need no cause, Christians claim that God exists necessarily. I have taken the effort to try to understand what that means. Dawkins and company are ignorant of such claims and positively contemptuous of those who even try to understand them, let alone believe them. Thus, like a first-year undergraduate, he can happily go around asking loudly, “What caused God?” as though he had made some momentous philosophical discovery.

        From another article by Sophie Elmhirst (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jun/09/is-richard-dawkins-destroying-his-reputation):

        The Muslim writer and thinker Ziauddin Sardar, who has debated Dawkins in the past, argued that Dawkins and his fellow New Atheists had dangerously stoked anti-Islamic sentiment in the west. “He may be worried about Islam, but he’s not nearly as worried about Islam as I am,” Sardar said. Dawkins’s generalising rhetoric about Islam was “dehumanising a community,” Sardar added, “a human community with all shades of opinion”. Dawkins might claim he only attacks the faith, not its individual believers, but in Sardar’s view his depiction of that faith denies its social and political complexity. “What he is doing,” Sardar said, “is creating a world that is more belligerent than the one we find ourselves in.” For someone like Sardar, who described himself as trying to change his faith from within, Dawkins is “undermining the kind of work that people like me do”.

        It is not just the religious who voice concern: Dawkins has begun to alienate those on his own side. Prominent non-believers, such as the philosopher John Gray, have criticised the literal-minded absolutism and intellectual superiority that Dawkins exhibits in his atheism: “Dawkins imagines an atheist is bound to be an enemy of religion,” wrote Gray in a recent review. “But there is no necessary connection between atheism and hostility to religion.” In Gray’s view, Dawkins’s dedication to science amounts to an “unquestioned view of the world” excluding, and insulting, any alternative interpretation.

        And while we’re at the supposed ‘rationality’ of new atheists, see this review on the flaws in Sam Harris’ The Moral Landscape (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2011/05/12/science-right-and-wrong/) – quotes from page 2 of the review:

        Harris’s view that morality concerns the maximization of well-being of conscious creatures doesn’t follow from science. What experiment or body of scientific theory yielded such a conclusion? Clearly, none. Harris’s view of the good is undeniably appealing but it has nothing whatever to do with science. It is, as he later concedes, a philosophical position. (Near the close of The Moral Landscape, Harris argues that we can’t always draw a sharp line between science and philosophy. But it’s unclear how this is supposed to help his case. If there’s no clear line between science and philosophy, why are we supposed to get so excited about a science of morality? After all, no one ever said there couldn’t be a philosophy of morality.)

        […]

        Of course science can help us reach some end once we’ve decided what that end is. That’s why we have medicine, engineering, economics, and all the other applied sciences in the first place. But this has nothing to do with blurring the is/ought distinction or overcoming traditional qualms about a science of morality. If you’ve decided that the ultimate value is living a long life (“one ought to live as long as possible”), medical science can help (“you ought to exercise”). But medical science can’t show that the ultimate value is living a long life. Much of The Moral Landscape is an extended exercise in confusing these two senses of ought.

        Despite Harris’s bravado about “how science can determine human values,” The Moral Landscape delivers nothing of the kind.

        As for the new atheist view of religion as one of the main causes of war (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-alan-lurie/is-religion-the-cause-of-_b_1400766.html):

        In their recently published book, “Encyclopedia of Wars,” authors Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod document the history of recorded warfare, and from their list of 1763 wars only 123 have been classified to involve a religious cause, accounting for less than 7 percent of all wars and less than 2 percent of all people killed in warfare. While, for example, it is estimated that approximately one to three million people were tragically killed in the Crusades, and perhaps 3,000 in the Inquisition, nearly 35 million soldiers and civilians died in the senseless, and secular, slaughter of World War 1 alone.

        History simply does not support the hypothesis that religion is the major cause of conflict. The wars of the ancient world were rarely, if ever, based on religion. These wars were for territorial conquest, to control borders, secure trade routes, or respond to an internal challenge to political authority. In fact, the ancient conquerors, whether Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, or Roman, openly welcomed the religious beliefs of those they conquered, and often added the new gods to their own pantheon.

        The so-called new atheism is often about ideological, uncritical propaganda (see here also: https://mimeticmargins.com/2016/04/29/denkgelacherig-atheistisch-narcisme/).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ra · 9 Days Ago

        Way to miss the point, Erik. Tell me, before Dawkins et al., was there any prominent public intellectuals who had the courage to say anything critical of Islam? Before Bill Maher, was there a single prominent media figure who had the balls to say anything critical of Islam? Name me one. You can’t, can you? They did not exist. Nobody is saying their critiques always hit the mark all the time. I cringe at some of their statements too sometimes, but at the end of the day, they are fundamentally proud rational creatures. They can learn and change their minds accordingly.

        John Waters: To me, I can understand in some way. Like I sometimes wonder moderate Muslims, aren’t they against all gay people? But still I don’t say they can’t come in. Catholics have been terrorizing me for decades, and I don’t say, “No Italians.”
        Bill Maher: That’s an interesting point of view I have not heard before.

        That was just last week. That’s an honest media figure doing a necessary public service, never afraid to go there, and, as a result, naturally ends up always being there, as opposed to his critics — smart but ultimately spineless — who are just never there for you — with you — whether you are a woman who has been genitally mutilated or a gay man who has been bashed. In a way, is that not what “Emmanuel” is? Is he not the person that Buber had in mind when he said, “The atheist staring from his attic window is often nearer to God than the believer caught up in his own false image of God”?

        Like

      • erik buys · 9 Days Ago

        Way to miss the point? How so, Ra? You claim that the so-called new atheist critique of Islam is rational. When I read books by ‘new atheists’, I can’t escape the impression that they are driven by negative emotions and that these emotions highly inform their biased so-called ‘very rational’ work on religion.

        Dawkins is no scholar of religion. He’s a biologist, and you can tell by his ignorance on the topic he’s so obsessed with. After 9/11, it became easy to sell books about “the evil nature of religion”. What Dawkins et al. mostly did, was dressing up populist propaganda against religion (and Islam in particular) in an intellectual fashion.

        As for your question if there was a single prominent media figure who had the balls to say anything critical of Islam: here in Belgium we have someone like Filip Dewinter, who I also mention in this post. As a prominent spokesman of far right-wing party Vlaams Blok (now Vlaams Belang) he has been criticizing Islam and Islamic culture for decades (the victory of his party in 1991 was referred to as ‘black sunday’ in Belgian’s political history). Most people here in Belgium don’t know Bill Maher, so I mention Dewinter.

        Mainstream media often jump on those who shout the loudest. Do you really consider Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins et al. as some kind of ‘heroes’? “They are fundamentally proud rational creatures.” What is that all about? I’m sure many people, including Filip Dewinter, consider themselves to be “proud rational creatures”. When you mention Bill Maher saying “that’s an interesting point of view I have not heard before”, do you consider that an intellectual effort? You say “they can learn and change their minds accordingly”. I’ve never heard Richard Dawkins fundamentally change or even question any of his views on religion. Of course, I forgot, he ‘owns’ the ‘objective truth’.

        Let me ask you something: did any of the writings of Dawkins et al. bring us closer to a solution regarding the problems with and within the Muslim world? [This might be linked to yet another question: what did the so-called ‘war on terror’ since 9/11 eventually bring us? Less terror threats? The invasion of Iraq ended up in the creation of a vacuum that brought us ISIS, for one thing.]

        You write about Bill Maher: “That’s an honest media figure doing a necessary public service, never afraid to go there, and, as a result, naturally ends up always being there, as opposed to his critics — smart but ultimately spineless — who are just never there for you — with you — whether you are a woman who has been genitally mutilated or a gay man who has been bashed.”

        He’s really a hero of you, isn’t he? You call his critics “spineless”. This is one of my heroes: Emilio Platti. He’s a professor emeritus of different universities. He’s an islamologist who recently wrote a little book on Islamism (Islamisme – Modern islamitisch radicalisme), succinct but based on tons of knowledge and experience within the Islamic world. He’s a Dominican, by the way. He’s there alright with the genitally mutilated woman, with the gay man who has been bashed, but he refuses to participate in a witch-hunt because that would be counter-productive. Instead, he indeed offers a rational critique of Islam, even if mainstream media hardly pick up his work. Nevertheless, he takes his responsibility. His work is there for everyone who is able to look beyond ‘the shouters’.

        Like

      • Ra · 9 Days Ago

        You really do have a way of missing the point, don’t you? To many former or liberal Muslims like me, the New Atheists are akin to America: they are neither heroes nor villains, but rather anti-heroes. They see evils and injustices and they set out wanting to do something about them but from time to time they can’t help fucking things up. Sure, America has got a lot of things wrong over the past few decades but without it, the world would be ruled by German or Russian fascists right now. The same thing with the New Atheists. They may lack the impeccable knowledge of the Pharisees but when it really counts, they’re right there with the marginalized, with the genitally mutilated like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the social outcasts like gay people. Way back in the 80s and 90s when gays were denounced as “intrinsically disordered” by the Church — and the last time I checked, we still are (“Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.” http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm) — when Christians were hailing AIDS as a divine “retribution for a repulsive vice,” as the National Review once put it, you know who was there with us, lepers, when it wasn’t exactly fashionable to do so? That godless heathen, Bill Maher. And I respect him for it. Sue me. That religion is the cause of so much grief is hardly “populist propaganda.” Anyone who isn’t a straight white Christian man in the West knows that. And so is anyone who isn’t a straight Muslim man in the Muslim world. Now, does that simple empirical fact sell books? Sure. But then again what exactly did you think Jesus was doing by going around enraging the Pharisees — these respectable men with respectable scholarship — if not selling the Gospel?

        Like

      • erik buys · 9 Days Ago

        Please explain what point I’m missing.

        For the record. I never denied that the Catholic Church discriminates gay people. In fact I write about it, protest it, as I protest other traditions of the Catholic Church. Some lunatic even put me on a list of Catholic ‘heretics’ in Flanders, together with nearly every other Catholic in Flanders who’s doing some job related to religion (http://kruistocht.weebly.com/de-lijst.html). I never denied that female genital mutilation in the name of whatever religion (including Islam) is a horrendous practice that should end immediately. As I pointed out earlier, I wrote about this.

        Why am I pointing this out? Because of this statement of yours:

        “Stop equating rational critique of Islam with irrational fear or hatred of Muslims, as you often do here.”

        As you can see for yourself, I agree with the criticism that you just mentioned, made by the new atheists.

        Now, let’s get back to the point. Show me where I equate rational critique of Islam with irrational fear or hatred of Muslims. I guess you missed the point of my criticism of Bill Maher in the earlier post you mention (you can reread it here: https://mimeticmargins.com/2016/06/21/gay-muslim-twice-the-scapegoat/ – especially starting from this sentence by Maher: “To do otherwise is to be an enabler, a Mafia wife, with the true devils of extremism that draw their legitimacy from the billions of their fellow travelers.”).

        It’s not because I agree with Bill Maher on many points regarding the evil done in the name of religion that I can’t criticize him rationally on other points or statements. Fans of Dawkins also don’t always agree with him. See for instance his sexism here (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jun/09/is-richard-dawkins-destroying-his-reputation):

        Perhaps the greatest source of disquiet within the atheist movement – particularly in the US, where the movement, under the broad banner of “skepticism”, is more active and organised – is among feminists. Greta Christina, an American feminist and atheist blogger, first met Dawkins at an event in 2009. It was a fantasy made real. “He was the reason I started calling myself an atheist … [meeting him] was one of the proudest moments of my life.” Then, in 2011, Dawkins waded into a comment thread under a blogpost about a discussion of sexual harassment that had recently taken place at a skeptics’ conference in the US: “Dear Muslima,” Dawkins wrote to an imagined Muslim woman, “Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and … yawn … don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car … But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.”

        The attempt at satire went down badly: Dawkins appeared to be dismissing any concerns about sexual harassment (“He spoke some words to her. Just words,”) and doing so by ranking the experiences of women. He later apologised, but it marked, for Christina, a “disappointing and discouraging” turn for Dawkins, who had become, in her eyes, “so troubling, in such serious ways, and in particular so stubbornly troubling”.

        We’re all Pharisees at some point, me, you, Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher, the pope… convinced of our self-righteousness.

        Like

      • Benjamin David Steele · 9 Days Ago

        @Ra – “Tell me, before Dawkins et al., was there any prominent public intellectuals who had the courage to say anything critical of Islam?”

        There really is nothing new about that. Historically Christian countries have a long history of criticism of non-Christian religions. It’s similar to the Protestant Western criticisms of Catholicism going back centuries. Whether the target is Muslims, Catholics or Jews, there has never been a lack of criticism toward specific religions that are perceived as an outside threat.

        The only difference last century was the Cold War. The great enemy of the West wasn’t religious extremists but Godless commies. So, criticism of other religions were muted. A weird dynamic happened in the Cold War. Christian extremists gained greater influence in governments like the United States and, in their fight against the Godless commies, they praised Jewish extremists and Islamic extremists.

        Ronald Reagan described Islamic extremists and terrorists as “freedom fighters” and dedicated a space shuttle to them. By the way, that space shuttle’s name, Columbia, is the name of the American goddess of liberty first mentioned in a poem by Phyllis Wheatley who was a slave (a poem directed to George Washington). Bizarrely, Reagan stated that, “These gentlemen (the Taliban) are the moral equivalents of America’s founding fathers.”

        It wasn’t until the USSR collapsed that a new enemy needed to be found. And it took 9/11 to put Muslims into that role of the Great Enemy in the Cosmic Battle of the West against the World. Why weren’t the New Atheists criticizing Islamic extremists during the Cold War when they were allies with Western governments? And why are the New Atheists so often supporters of the very military adventurism, interventionism, and neo-imperialism that has so often allied with and promoted religious extremism?

        http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/unworthy-victims-western-wars-have-killed-four-million-muslims-1990-39149394

        “According to the figures explored here, total deaths from Western interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan since the 1990s – from direct killings and the longer-term impact of war-imposed deprivation – likely constitute around 4 million (2 million in Iraq from 1991-2003, plus 2 million from the “war on terror”), and could be as high as 6-8 million people when accounting for higher avoidable death estimates in Afghanistan.

        “Such figures could well be too high, but will never know for sure. US and UK armed forces, as a matter of policy, refuse to keep track of the civilian death toll of military operations – they are an irrelevant inconvenience.

        “Due to the severe lack of data in Iraq, almost complete non-existence of records in Afghanistan, and the indifference of Western governments to civilian deaths, it is literally impossible to determine the true extent of loss of life.

        “In the absence of even the possibility of corroboration, these figures provide plausible estimates based on applying standard statistical methodology to the best, if scarce, evidence available. They give an indication of the scale of the destruction, if not the precise detail.

        “Much of this death has been justified in the context of fighting tyranny and terrorism. Yet thanks to the silence of the wider media, most people have no idea of the true scale of protracted terror wrought in their name by US and UK tyranny in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ra · 9 Days Ago

        “Please explain what point I’m missing.”

        I conveyed to you my very restrained appreciation for the New Atheists for shining a light — however dim — on Islam’s many, many shortcomings, all while readily conceding that “Nobody is saying their critiques always hit the mark all the time. I cringe at some of their statements too sometimes.” You then mistook that highly qualified praise as apotheosis (“Do you really consider Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins et al. as some kind of ‘heroes’?”; “He’s really a hero of you, isn’t he?”), and then proceeded to deny them any credit whatsoever (“When you mention Bill Maher saying “that’s an interesting point of view I have not heard before”, do you consider that an intellectual effort?”). For the record, yes, I do consider that “an intellectual effort.” Welcoming people who despise the people you love is plainly counter-intuitive: as such, it does require intellectual effort. It is certainly more effort than the highly educated members of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church have exhibited when it comes to women’s and gay rights, for example, as evidenced by their official doctrinal positions on what is plainly a no-brainer: the use of condoms and contraceptives even to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. Now, THAT should not have required any effort whatsoever and yet it is oh-so-scandalous in the Holy Roman Catholic Church in the 21st century to posit that people should not die for having sex. Unbelievable.

        “Now, let’s get back to the point. Show me where I equate rational critique of Islam with irrational fear or hatred of Muslims. I guess you missed the point of my criticism of Bill Maher in the earlier post you mention…).

        Here, a rational critique: “Well, seen from Bill Maher’s perspective, you’re in big trouble if you are gay and Muslim.”
        Here, your equation with irrationality: “You shouldn’t be surprised that you experience violence because being a Muslim, being religious is, in the words of Bill Maher, being “an enabler of homophobia and violence”. Once again the (potential) victim, in this case the gay Muslim, is held responsible, this time by so-called anti-religionists, for the violence the victim might have to endure.” If you take an unpaid internship, you can’t be surprised when you don’t get paid. It logically follows that you won’t get paid. In fact, what would be illogical is if you do get paid. Similarly, if you belong to a religion that for over a thousand years has prescribed death as punishment for “you being you” and, more importantly, has shown no signs whatsoever of wavering from that consensus, then, yes, every manner of reason and every conceivable logic does say that it’s on you. You knew the risks, and knowing the risks, you assumed them — freely, without compulsion. Nobody says logic is comforting or fair; just logical. And sometimes what’s logical is cold. I mean, I should know. It’s not fair that I had to move thousands of miles away just to be safe. It’s not comforting that my own father (and extended family) hates me to the core. It’s cold as fuck. And pointing that out should not merit a clever blog post about how pointing that out makes you the bad guy. As Jean Renoir once wrote to Francois Truffaut, “That some of our colleagues would hint at some kind of immorality on your part is baffling. Stating an outcome cannot be immoral. Rain is wet; fire is hot. The resulting humidity and heat have nothing to do with ethics.” Unless you’re on the left. Then everything’s the West’s fault and never anyone else’s fault and if you don’t agree with that then you’re Shillary or something.

        “Why weren’t the New Atheists criticizing Islamic extremists during the Cold War when they were allies with Western governments?…”

        For the same reason that supremely sane people didn’t criticize the Soviets when they were our allies against the Nazis. You pick your battles and you suck it up. The last time I checked, phronesis was still a virtue (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phronesis#Intellectual). The sheer lack of it among the left these days is why Trump is now president.

        “There really is nothing new about that. Historically Christian countries have a long history of criticism of non-Christian religions. …”

        Every religion does that. Historically and in many Muslim countries still today, cursing and praying for the destruction of the “yahuda wal nasara” is actually a required part of the weekly Friday sermon. In fact, it’s one of the things that decisively drove me out of the faith altogether. I have Jewish and Christian friends, after all, and I just couldn’t bear to say “Amen” to that every single week (cf. “The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “May the curse of God be upon the Jews and the Christians, for they took the graves of their Prophets as places of worship.” Bukhari, 425; Muslim, 531. And he told us that when a righteous man among them died, they would build a place of worship over his grave, and install images therein, and that they were the most evil of mankind. Bukhari, 417; Muslim, 528. “You will certainly follow the ways of those who came before you hand span by hand span, cubit by cubit, to the extent that if they entered the hole of a lizard, you will enter it too.” We said: “O Messenger of God, do you mean the Jews and the Christians?” He said: “Who else?” Bukhari, 1397; Muslim, 4822.”). Bukhari and Muslim are canonical collections, which means that Muhammad either definitely said all that or almost definitely said all that. At least that’s what Muslims believe anyway. Take from that whatever you will.

        Take care, and goodbye.

        Like

      • erik buys · 8 Days Ago

        Openly gay Muslims are not against homosexuality, on the contrary. You assume that all Muslims, and it’s Muslims who ultimately define what Islam is all about (there is no central authority, also not on interpretation of the Quran) are against homosexuality. If that were the case, it would indeed follow that being a Muslim automatically equals to “being an enabler of homophobia”. However, the assumption that all Muslims (and all of Islam for that matter) are against homosexuality is contradicted by the very fact that there are gay Muslims (who truly consider themselves Muslims). Those who work from within against evil are truly ‘heroic’.

        On the topic of the Catholic Church and AIDS: Edward C. Green (senior research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health) and Michael Cook (editor of BioEdge and MercatorNet) both wrote interesting articles on the massive problem of HIV and AIDS in Africa, questioning the assumption of some media that the Catholic Church and John Paul II in particular are responsible for millions of African AIDS victims. More here: https://mimeticmargins.com/2011/12/06/on-blaming-the-church-for-aids/

        And, by the way… You claim about Bill Maher: “Welcoming people who despise the people you love is plainly counter-intuitive: as such, it does require intellectual effort.” That was what Bill Maher’s friend did, no? It wasn’t Bill Maher himself. It is much easier to consider something counter-intuitive if the way is already paved by a friend.

        Take care, goodbye.

        Like

      • Ra · 8 Days Ago

        “Openly gay Muslims are not against homosexuality, on the contrary.”

        Of course not, any more a Muslim who drinks alcohol is against happy hour. But their unIslamic acts do not in any way negate the established Islamic consensus that homosexuality and alcohol consumption are grave sins traditionally punishable by death and lashing respectively.

        “You assume that all Muslims, and it’s Muslims who ultimately define what Islam is all about (there is no central authority, also not on interpretation of the Quran) are against homosexuality.”

        Islam may not have a central authority, but it does have a binding consensus (ijma’). And there is not a single doctrinal position with the status of ijma’ that has changed over the past 1,400 years of Islamic history. Not one. Muslims may not have practiced armed conquests anymore (except for ISIS etc.) but the laws of jihad still stand. Muslims may not have practiced slavery anymore (except in certain parts of Africa like Mauritania) but the laws of slavery still stand. Any Muslim who has studied the religious tradition sufficiently enough knows the central legal dictum that a revealed law can never be repealed. It may not be enforced momentarily either out of necessity (e.g. a nationwide drought might compel the state to temporarily suspend amputation of hands for theft; the end of such exceptional circumstances necessarily means the resumption of the law as usual) or ignorance (e.g. Brunei did not prescribe death for homosexuality for decades but that changed in 2014; the point is because the ijma’ has never changed, the law’s return is always a matter of when, not if) but the law is eternal as the kalamullah (Word of God, i.e. the Qur’an) is eternal and the nubuwwah (Muhammad’s prophethood) is final and indisputable. This, Erik, is one of the essential points of tawhid (theological creed) which every Muslim must affirm on pain of death. You have this common mistaken assumption — highly typical among non-Muslims, in my experience — that Islam is like every other religion. If enough Catholics believe that Mary physically ascended into heaven, then it officially becomes dogma. No, Erik, that is emphatically not the case with Islam. Muslims don’t “ultimately define what Islam is” (https://youtu.be/kUDHzdiYgws?t=10m11s). Because of ijma’ — the stable, universal knowledge that certain things are known universally by all Muslims regardless of when they live or where they are — what’s definitively Islamic has always been definitively Islamic. The first Muslims prayed five times a day; contemporary Muslims too must pray five times a day, not four, not six. The first Muslims stoned adulterers to death; contemporary Muslims too must stone adulterers to death, not hang them, not imprison them. Seventeen times a day Muslims say in their obligatory daily prayers, “Guide us to the straight path, the path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked Your anger, or of those who are astray.” That “sirat” — that “straight path,” Muslims believe — was straight then and it is straight now, hence the remarkable stability of their beliefs, of their ijma’. Indeed, volumes of traditional Qur’anic commentaries have established that “those upon whom You have bestowed favor” were the first Muslims — who are to be emulated — while “those who have evoked Your anger” are the Jews, and “those who are astray” are the Christians — who are not to be imitated, lest you too evoke God’s anger and go astray. Go ahead. Go to your local mosque and ask the resident imam whether or not I’m telling the truth. I dare you.

        “However, the assumption that all Muslims (and all of Islam for that matter) are against homosexuality is contradicted by the very fact that there are gay Muslims (who truly consider themselves Muslims).”

        Hitler considered himself a Christian. “In Hitler’s first radio address after becoming chancellor, Stern noted, he declared that the Nazis regarded “Christianity as the foundation of our national morality and the family as the basis of national life” (https://mobile.nytimes.com/2006/10/08/books/review/Reiss.t.html)”. But that does not mean he was actually a Christian, or that his behavior was acceptable Christian behavior by any meaningful, canonical standards of Christianity. Traditional Abrahamic religions are not subject or even susceptible to postmodern solipsism. Just because YOU “consider” or “truly consider” or even “truly madly deeply consider” yourself a Muslim does not automatically make you a Muslim. Otherwise, the whole category of religion would become absolutely pointless if every single I-s and you-s get to subjectively decide for themselves whether or not they’re Muslims or Christians with no external objective criteria whatsoever.

        “On the topic of the Catholic Church and AIDS: Edward C. Green (senior research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health) and Michael Cook (editor of BioEdge and MercatorNet) both wrote interesting articles on the massive problem of HIV and AIDS in Africa, questioning the assumption of some media that the Catholic Church and John Paul II in particular are responsible for millions of African AIDS victims.”

        Yes, “interesting articles,” indeed. I eagerly await their next articles “questioning the assumption of some media that the Catholic Church and John Paul II in particular are responsible for millions of” unsafe abortion victims around the world. I’m sure they will be just as riveting.

        Oh, and I forgot this as well.

        “And, by the way… You claim about Bill Maher: “Welcoming people who despise the people you love is plainly counter-intuitive: as such, it does require intellectual effort.” That was what Bill Maher’s friend did, no? It wasn’t Bill Maher himself. It is much easier to consider something counter-intuitive if the way is already paved by a friend.”

        For the record, Bill Maher was already opposed to the Muslim ban even before John Waters said that. And so was Sam Harris who was on his show the week prior. I think what surprised him was how open and generous John Waters was with his hospitality, even towards people whom he knew would not touch him with a ten-foot pole if they knew he was gay (and that’s putting it quite charitably), as has been my experience sometimes. He was against the ban because he thought it was unconstitutional, counterproductive, and thus stupid. Being a proud liberal — and compared with other liberal media figures who are sometimes so self-deprecating to the point of self-hating, he is a proud and unapologetic one — he always thought we should welcome Muslim refugees on humanitarian grounds, just not without challenging their problematic beliefs and practices.

        Thank you for your time. I forgot to do that earlier. Again, take care.

        Like

      • erik buys · 8 Days Ago

        First of all, thank you very much for the information contained in your latest reaction!

        Second, I agree with you that belonging to a religion cannot be defined solely by a simple nominal declaration. There are objective criteria to prove that Hitler cannot be described as a Christian, although he himself claimed to be one. There are also objective criteria (the canon law) which explain why there can be differences of opinion between the Catholic Magisterium and the People of God (the laity and the ordained members of the Church), or even within the Magisterium itself, over moral issues like homosexuality. Thus the following is no coincidence (http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_rom8.htm):

        “The magisterium is absolutely opposed to marriage equality i.e. changing laws so that marriage becomes available to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. During 2008, in close cooperation with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), the Roman Catholic magisterium authorized the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars to promote ads in favor of Proposition 8. That was the citizen initiative that narrowly passed and temporarily banned new same-sex marriages in California. (On 2013-JUN-26, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned “Prop 8” because it violated the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.)

        A national poll by ABC News/Washington Post and released on 2011-MAR-18 showed that 53% of American adults of all faiths and of no religious affiliation favored marriage equality. This represents an increase of 21 percentage points since 2004 — 3 percentage points per year.

        The same poll showed that 63% of white Catholics favored the availability of same-sex marriage. This is an increase of 23 percentage points since 2004 — more than 3 percentage points increase per year. This poll indicated that Roman Catholics are more supportive of marriage equality than are the average American by a full ten percentage points!

        With close to 2 out of 3 of white Catholics rejecting the magisterium’s position on human sexuality, one might ask who truly represents the will of the denomination?”

        Third, I wrongly assumed that a set of objective criteria like those of the Catholic Church was not possible for Islam. Thank you for informing me on the issue. But then I have a question for you (if you still have time). At the beginning of February 2017, in a Belgian television program (Van Gils en gasten, February 2, 2017 – https://www.vrt.be/vrtnu/a-z/van-gils-gasten/2017/van-gils—gasten-d20170202/#) a gay Muslim indeed claimed objectivity on the acceptance of homosexuality by Islam by referring to the Qur’an. The gay Muslim claimed that the Qur’an never forbids homosexuality, he even claimed that the Qur’an says that homosexuality exists as something that belongs to God’s creation. I found some more information here, and it seems a complicated topic: http://www.well.com/~aquarius/Qurannotes.htm.

        Still, could it be that the majority of Muslims is wrong, on objective grounds from within Islam, by discriminating against gay people? Any thoughts?

        And another question: Do you consider that gay man, who is also a Muslim, “an enabler of homophobia” like Bill Maher does?

        [P.S.: “Go to your local mosque and ask the resident imam whether or not I’m telling the truth. I dare you.” – I will.]

        Like

    • Benjamin David Steele · 10 Days Ago

      This is why knowledge matters.

      Most of the terrorism committed in North America is by Christians. Anti-abortion activists for decades committed stalking, kidnapping, assault, shootings, bombings, and arson. There are and have been many Christian terrorist groups: KKK, Army of God, The Aryan Nations, The Christian Identity Movement, The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord, Fighting Christian Front, IRA, Catholic Reaction Force/Protestant Action Force, The Orange Volunteers, Tamil Tigers, Lord’s Resistance Army, Anti-balaka, National Liberation Front of Tripura, Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland, United Liberation Front of Western South East Asia, etc.

      Yet in the United States Christian individuals and groups who commit violence are rarely labeled as Christian terrorists, even though in many American’s minds any Muslim or anyone committing violence who has some connection to Muslisms is by default an Islamic terrorist and the entire Islamic world has to take responsibility for their actions.

      George W. Bush declares a crusade involving two wars (the justification for one being a lie) that leads to several million innocent people killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the worst acts of state terrorism in recent history, but no one in the mainstream has the moral courage to call it what it is. Plus, the only reason anyone could suggest that Iraq had WMDs is because the US had sold them to Hussein when he was our ally and, in fact, he used those WMDs against his own people when he was still our ally. What did we do about it? Nothing.

      The US claims to be fighting terrorists. Yet some of the groups committing terror were trained, armed, and funded by the US in the past. The School of Americas has trained terrorists for decades. Two of our closest allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel, are terrorist states. Saudi Arabia, besides funding terrorist groups, regularly commits mass violence and publicly beheads more people than ISIS. Israel is a colony created by Britain that is one of the most violently oppressive countries in the world. One of the main reasons the US has supported Israel for so long is because American fundamentalists believe Israel will play a role in bringing the End Times.

      Most terrorism in Western countries isn’t committed by Muslims. Furthermore, most of that terrorism isn’t directly motivated by religion. Many of the white men who regularly commit mass violence in Western countries are Christians or were raised Christian. If they were Muslim or raised Muslim, we’d automatically call them Islamic terrorists. But even many of the supposed Islamic terrorists weren’t necessarily motivated religion, per se. Social, economic, and political issues drive more terrorism than does religion.

      It’s just that religion becomes an easy way for people to frame and discuss conflict. It’s hard to disentangle. Much of the right-wing violence in Europe is mixed with neo-pagan ethno-nationalism. This has roots in fascism, such as the Nazis who combined the support of Christians and neo-pagans. There is a lot of religious underpinning to racist and ethnocentric ideologes. Of course, fascism and neo-Nazism are growing movements in Europe and the US.

      Consider the Palestinians? Do they really attack Israelis because they are Jews or because they’ve been violently oppressed, had their loved ones and neighbors killed, had their land stolen, walled into ghettos, and forced into lives of poverty and desperation? The fact of the matter is Palestinians are simply the Jews who never left. They are ethnically and genetically the same as the Israelis, except to the degree that Israelis have become Westernized. Does it really have anything to do with religion or is it about a long history of colonialism and imperialism?

      Right-wingers and even surprisingly many liberals like to stereotype Muslims as inherently violent and dangerous. It’s endless fear-mongering. The fact of the matter is that Muslims commit very little violence in countries like the United States, just a few percent. American Muslims are on average less violent than the rest of the population. Statistically speaking, an American is more likely to be attacked by a white Christian and treated by a doctor who is an Arab Muslim.

      http://www.salon.com/2015/12/20/the_united_states_is_scarier_than_the_islamic_state/
      http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/05/muslims-only-carried-out-2-5-percent-of-terrorist-attacks-on-u-s-soil-between-1970-and-2012.html
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_terrorism
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-abortion_violence
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-abortion_violence_in_the_United_States
      http://wonkette.com/596723/jeb-bush-not-aware-of-any-christian-radicals-pro-life-terrorists-feel-snubbed
      http://aattp.org/here-are-8-christian-terrorist-organizations-that-equal-isis/
      http://www.salon.com/2013/08/03/the_10_worst_examples_of_christian_or_far_right_terrorism_partner/
      https://newsone.com/1417755/top-10-white-christian-terrorists/
      http://theweek.com/articles/534105/what-muslims-blamed-moderate-christians-terroristattacks
      https://consortiumnews.com/2011/07/27/who-commits-terrorism/
      https://marranci.com/2008/04/14/terrorism-in-the-name-of-jesus-everybody-ignore/
      http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/9265

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Benjamin David Steele · 10 Days Ago

    The challenge with genuine understanding, as always, is a lack of context. The Middle East along with the entire Arab and Islamic world has experienced a long history involving:

    * The WWI destruction and divvying up of the Ottoman Empire, European imperialism and colonialism, transnational corporate resource exploitation;
    * Military enforced neoliberal and neocon globalization, Cold War proxy wars and wars of aggression, invasions and occupations, foreign interventions and covert operations, foreign-supported coups and assassinations, foreign support of militant groups;
    * Western alliances with brutal authoritarian states, Christian countries intentionally promoting Islamic extremism by killing moderates in order to fight the Godless Commies, the overthrowing of secular governments;
    * Mass destruction of entire countries by Western powers sending vast populations into desperate poverty, foreign destabilizing of the region in order to maintain geopolitical control;
    * Et cetera.

    On top of that, there is climate change droughts that have further contributed to economic, social, and political problems. And it has been the US and European countries that have contributed the most to that climate change. This is just one small part of a vast externalization of costs. Refugee crises have been caused or contributed to by the actions and consequences of American and European governments. These refugees have been forced into a state of utter desperation.

    Then Westerners are surprised that desperate people act desperately. They shouldn’t be surprised as the same thing is happening among populations in Western countries, as economic and political problems worsen everywhere. This is why homegrown right-wing violence is growing faster in the West than any foreign threat.

    Does any of this come up in mainstream media reporting and mainstream political debate? Do those who criticize Muslims ever offer any evidence that they have the barest knowledge of the larger context? Rarely, if ever.

    Liked by 1 person

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