Muslims and the need for reform or, at least, better PR


Tim Kowal

Tim Kowal is a husband, father, and attorney in Orange County, California, Vice President of the Orange County Federalist Society, commissioner on the OC Human Relations Commission, and Treasurer of Huntington Beach Tomorrow. The views expressed on this blog are his own. You can follow this blog via RSS, Facebook, or Twitter. Email is welcome at timkowal at

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245 Responses

  1. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Why would you subject an organization you’re proud of to the ridicule earned by hosting a nutcase and torture apologist like Andrew McCarthy?Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Mike, because that’s the Federalist Society, as Tim just demonstrated with his ‘all their fault’ rant.

      Tim, it’s been rather clear for the past several years that the right has needed new n*ggers, and is working hard on getting them. Gays were working fine for a while, but that’s not so good anymore, so the right (the GOP, Federalist Scum, etc.) are working hard on finding somebody to demonize.

      I mean, aside from hating lying, and looting, does the right do anything well? I don’t see any right-wingers apologizing for the Bush II reign of sh*t, and promising to prevent such people from ever taking power again. I don’t see any right-wingers purging the filth from their party.

      As for the Federalist Scum in particular, I don’t see any of them attempting to prosecute torturers – instead, they cheer them, as Tim just noticed.Report

  2. Avatar Andrew says:

    I think the problem here lies with placing an extraordinary burden of proof on ordinary people who have families and jobs and religious beliefs and no intention to strap bombs to their chests. Why should they have to “establish themselves as a group with any clear, cogent, or compelling message”? Why indeed must “moderate Muslims” in the West present ANY “message” in order to enjoy the same respect and dignity that other Westerners get to take for granted?

    Why isn’t it enough for regular people named to act like good neighbors, go about their day-to-day without worrying about when their mandatory written denunciation of terrorists they’ve never met is due at the Denunciation Filing Office, and leave it to the bigots to either keep fuming or get a clue?Report

  3. Avatar greginak says:

    How about this: Jews could have done a lot more to defeat antisemitism if they worked on their branding. They should have had spokespeople out there showing how all Jews didn’t have hook noses or drinks the blood of Christian babies or only coveted money. Yeah i guess that is a inflammatory response but its late. But its just a peculiar odd framing to state that Muslims are responsible for the most viscous smears against them. Miller’s phrase “within your own organization” is typical of the attitude that all Muslims are one big monolithic group who share group guilt. Does anyone say every Catholic in the world is responsible for everything bad done by Catholic priests. And in case the example isn’t obvious enough, Catholic’s have a hierarchal org with a Pope, which Muslims don’t have.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to greginak says:

      Greg – personally I think that moderate Christians have not done enough to distinguish themselves doctrinally from their more fanatical counterparts.Report

      • Avatar Dan in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        I think you’re being a bit unfair, ED. I can think of a couple of moderate Christian denominations that fall all over themselves to distinguish themselves from their fanatical, fundamentalist co-religionists.Report

        • Avatar Phillip Birmingham in reply to Dan says:

          Yeah, but why aren’t they doing *more?*

          These sorts of denunciations are like bigot heroin. They used to do a little but a little wasn’t doin’ so the little got more and more.Report

  4. Avatar BSK says:

    The problem is that the bar has been set way too high. As far as some people are concerned, there is nothing that a Muslim can do to earn his trust or respect outside of converting, and he’d likely still draw suspicion. Muslims and Islam simply do not get the benefit of the doubt. Look at all the nonsense around Obama being “accused” of being Muslim or being raised Muslim (why is the belief that someone adheres to a particular faith an accusation? Doesn’t an accusation imply a negative connotation?)… much of the argument around that seemed to be that any connection to Islam is a permanent Scarlet Letter. What PR work is going to undo that?

    Contrast that to the Catholic Church and the sex abuse scandal. Now, I don’t mean to equate the abuse of children with mass murder (though they aren’t exactly at opposite ends of the spectrum either). But let’s look at the public response. Not only have a number of priests been accused of and convicted of sexual abuse, but the leadership of the Church has been found complicit in the cover up and enabling further abuse to go on by continuing to employ priests they know were accused. While the Catholic Church has taken a public hit, people are still remiss to be suspicious of their Catholic neighbors or to rally against churches built new schools and day care centers. The Church started from a place of general acceptance and respect so they receive a benefit of the doubt that Islam simply does not.

    I would agree with you if it seemed as if Islam could achieve what you advocate for through PR work. I just don’t think there is evidence that they can. People protested a Muslim woman winning a beauty contest, for Christ’s sake. Hate is hate, bigotry is bigotry… no amount of touchy-feely PR work is going to fix that. It also seems as if you are taking a blame the victim approach. “Maybe if you guys were just a bit more likable, we wouldn’t paint with such broad strokes and prejudice against you guys…”Report

    • Avatar Mike in reply to BSK says:

      “The Church started from a place of general acceptance and respect ”

      And the Church got there by being a respected member of the community towards all their neighbors, preaching a doctrine of kindness and charity, and being willing to help anyone no matter what sins or crimes they had committed or mistakes they had made in their life.

      Knock up your girlfriend/fiancee? Baptists will kick you out of the church or run you through a shotgun wedding. Evangelicals will hold a freakout-fest. Methodists likewise. Catholics? Usually, they’ll ask you to have a civil ceremony (if you two intend to be married) and then go through church couples training before being married in the church.

      Homosexual? There’s the old joke about the kid on church steps crying. Priest sits down next to him, asks if he wants to talk about something. Kid says “father, you don’t want to talk to me, I’m gay.” Priest’s response: “Well you probably don’t want to talk to me either, I’m an alcoholic. But God loves us all just the same.”

      I’ve not seen another “Christian” church that can live up to that.Report

    • Avatar Heidegger in reply to BSK says:

      BSK, how much would I need to pay you to shoot me?

      Your comments have caused me to pull all of my hair out.

      I must thank you, though, for your comments a few days ago.

      That was kind and thoughtful and generous of your time. Inevitably, we will forever always whistle past each other. There must be some reason you are so intractably entrenched in this race card nonsense. So, let me guess–you ARE in favor of reparations, right? And think O.J was innocent, right?Report

      • Avatar BSK in reply to Heidegger says:

        I talk about homosexuality, in response to someone else’s comments regarding it, and you bring up race and you claim I’M the one with “intractably entrenched” with race? You do know what the word race means, right?Report

  5. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    Do not expect one Muslim to condemn another. It’s actually a tenet of Islam, a sin called fitna. Though Christians and Jews have a long history of infighting, even the Sunni and Shiites (who by my scholarship are separate religions) refuse to condemn each other’s behaviour as un-Islamic.

    And let us dispense with any notion of Islam as a mere religion. Its own definition of itself is to subdue the world to Islam, which they view to be the original state of mankind. Islam has never drawn a distinction between Church and State. Its holy book is a tiny thing, at 77701 words, that’s about two of Shakespeare’s plays. Because the Qu’ran is so short, Islam is of necessity a religion almost entirely devoid of doctrine. Like Judaism with the Talmud, Islam built up a legacy of scholarship in the Hadith, most of which is completely unknown to the ordinary Muslim. Islam sank into the various cultures it conquered and varies as those cultures varied. But one thing remains true of Islam, then and now, its prophet was a king upon this earth and he did as kings do: he made laws and treaties, he passed judgment according to this own laws and instituted a policy of a kingdom upon the earth. The caliphate may have passed away but Islam remains a system of laws binding upon its followers. In our stupidity, we have instituted two new Islamic Republics in Iraq and Afghanistan, the constitutions of both decree the Qu’ran the sovereign instance upon which laws shall be made and a guide thereunto.

    Islam is no better or worse than any other religion, all of which have attempted and succeeded to varying degrees to establish regimes of their own. Most of America’s colonies were so instituted and so governed. One, Rhode Island, was created by the expulsion of heretics from another colony, themselves expelled from their homeland for heresy.

    After many years of facing this “Islamic extremism” America should have elucidated the motives of these supposed Bad Guys. Sayyid Qutb explained all this to us, Qutb, the inspiration for Osama bin Ladin and every franchise of Hamas and the Islamic Brotherhood. The terrorists do not act for religious reasons. They attack us for political reasons. We, the heathens, have invaded their countries, sided with the dictators and corrupted their societies. They have never demanded the overthrow of our government: to call them insurgents is patent nonsense. They want us to leave them alone, to get off their land and let them run their countries according to Islamic principles.

    But what are these Islamic Principles? Who defines them? Here it becomes interesting: nobody has a clear definition. The Five Pillars might be enough for some. Thereafter, it divides more viciously than the split between the endlessly schismatic Protestants and Catholic and Orthodox, though the parallels are very good between the Sunnis as Protestants, guided by the Bible and Shiites as Catholics and Orthodox, guided by popes and patriarchs.

    The only hope for Islam is the same as the cause for despair: Islam sinks into the cultures of its faithful. American Muslims are no less American than Muslim: he who says the shehada is a Muslim. Nothing else has changed. Some have called for an Islamic Reformation but it will not happen that way. It is we who must reform, coming to terms with the reality of modern Islam both for good and evil. There are no Moderate or Extremist Muslims any more than there are Moderate or Extremist Christians or Hindus. The extremism varies with the degree of political motivation.Report

    • Avatar Mike in reply to BlaiseP says:

      It’s sad that you have no reply yet, but there we stand.

      I’ll say that part of the “PR Problem” of the Muslim faith stems from its creator. Much like the Mormons and the Scientologists, the more you learn about Mohammed, the less of a real, sincere religious leader he seems to be.

      According to Mormons, Joseph Smith was a virtuous, peaceful man. In actuality, he was a habitual molester and wife-beater who, when the massed crowds came for him, whipped out a shotgun and started blasting away.

      According to the Scientologists, L Ron was a secret agent, spy, nuclear physicist, genius, selfless planner. In actuality, he was a fairly sociopathic creep who hoarded money, faked and lied about his past, and went down the road of insanity even further than Howard Hughes – at one point having “religious assistants” to do things like pull his socks on because he’d grown his fingernails so long that he couldn’t use his hands.

      Mohammed, once you actually learn about him, comes off much the same. Far from being a respected theologian, he started out as the boytoy of a woman who owned her own shipping company (her husband died, so she became the sugar mamma and married a kid 20 years her junior). His trips to Jerusalem were filled mostly with him getting high and going off to have “visions” in the desert, along with getting laughed out of synagogue for his horrible mistranslations of Torah. When he came back to Mecca, his first order of business was to convert his own tribe (keeping in mind how tribal the Arabs are, not a big task) followed by building an army. His record of diplomacy is mostly deceit and lies, his record of “convenient revelations” is legendary on everything from mundane matters to insane (including one where he had a “divine revelation” that he could eat whatever he wanted and his wives should just shut up about his bad breath or he’d bitch-slap them in the name of Allah).

      With prophets like that, it’s small wonder anyone with a fully functioning brain looks askance at these religions.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Mike says:

        When we look at any religion and its power in the lives of men, we must begin with its first enemies. The same is true of politics, may I add in passing.

        Hurling obloquy on Muhammad the Prophet is just bad manners. It little matters what the truth of his life may have been: the religion he founded has led billions of ordinary people to lives of holiness and decency. If it has led others to war and crimes, in the year of Muhammad’s birth, the Jews of Clermont-Ferrand were forcibly converted to Christianity.

        Islam arose as a response to an intellectual and religious ferment. The Byzantine world was retreating, the Persian Sassanids were expanding. Monotheism was a vast improvement on the dimwitted Bronze Age idolatry and corrupt priestly bureaucracies of those times. Islam was a simple thing to understand, its entire doctrine contained in a single sentence. It was a cleanly religion, its followers imbued with a vision of the equality of man. It took what it understood of the other monotheistic faiths, however imperfectly, and created a mighty engine of unity.

        I do not praise Islam, but I have seen its outworking in the lives of hundreds of ordinary people, to whom hospitality to strangers is an obligation, not mere courtesy, to whom charity and honesty and honor and love of family are more precious than life itself. If Islam has become a force for ignorance and evil in the world, it was not always so. Freed from the connivance and coercion of its manifestly un-Islamic dictators who act in its name, Islam might yet become a force for good in the world.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike says:

        Do not expect one Muslim to condemn another. It’s actually a tenet of Islam, a sin called fitna.

        Which shows how primitive and dangerous their belief system is.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to BlaiseP says:

      It is a pity that this comment has not gotten more of a response. It strikes me as a far better and far more interesting starting point for this conversation. There are a lot of things in here that challenge the preconceptions of conventional wisdom, while at the same time affirming some other fundamental positions of all sides.

      I’m not even saying that I agree with all of it, just that it’s thought-provoking. I’d appreciate seeing it expounded upon.

      This, to me, is the critical point, and the issue which is far more important for us to be debating as a society:

      The terrorists do not act for religious reasons. They attack us for political reasons. We, the heathens, have invaded their countries, sided with the dictators and corrupted their societies. They have never demanded the overthrow of our government: to call them insurgents is patent nonsense. They want us to leave them alone, to get off their land and let them run their countries according to Islamic principles.

      I’m pretty sure this is exactly right. As a good ideologue, my impulse is to say that the solution is simply that we should “leave them alone, get off their land and let them run their countries according to Islamic principles.” But it’s not that simple, is it? Their land is also our source of energy and that’s not going to change anytime soon; globalization exists, as does the internet, and even if either of those two genies could be put back in the bottle, there is a serious debate to be had as to whether the former should be returned to the bottle, and obviously almost no one wants to see the internet returned to its bottle.

      I’m just spitballing now, but it strikes me that the Left’s narrative that our policy in the Middle East, including the Iraq invasion, is based on a willingness to trade blood for oil is fundamentally right. But that doesn’t quite necessitate a conclusion that this policy needs to change or, more to the point, even can change without consequences that we as a society are unwilling to pay, much as I’d like to think otherwise.Report

      • Avatar ThatPirateGuy in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        Perhaps in the interest of having a less interventionist foreign policy we should become very fiscally aggressive in discovering, developing, and deploying a non-oil based energy infrastructure.

        It solves two issues Climate Change and having our hands tied when it comes to dealing with oil producers.Report

        • So in response to a post talking about Park51, we are now to discuss “green” jobs? This is why our open threads get so few comments – our regular threads are basically open to begin with!

          Anywho….yes and no. Those issues underlying the need for that foreign policy wouldn’t go away until green energy became actively less expensive to produce than oil. I’m going to stop right there, though – I’m not going to be at all happy about where I wind up if I keep going.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

          I cannot think of one country which discovered oil and didn’t have massive political problems thereafter. Well, maybe the countries operating the North Sea fields might be an exception. KSA had the good luck to have decent foreign advisors who turned them into gajillionaires, but even the Saudis have big problems internally.

          After Gulf War One, (which I personally regard as Gulf War One-Half) the US State Department leaned on the Emir of Kuwait and said he should have some elections. So they had them some elections and guess who won. That’s right, the religious conservatives.


        • Avatar North in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

          Excellent Pirate! Nuclear energy for all!Report

        • Avatar North in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

          Excellent idea Pirate, nuclear energy for all!Report

          • Avatar ThatPirateGuy in reply to North says:

            Sounds good to me.

            I figure you spend 1 trillion total 25% on nuclear and other current tech 25% on thing like trains, e-cars, and infrastructure. And the last 50% on R&D.

            All for less than half what the cbo estimates we will have spent on Iraq and Afghanistan by 2017. And it all creates jobs which means some of the money will come back as taxes paid.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        I’d be quite willing to expand on this little essay.

        The Blood for Oil meme is a bit silly. Our involvement in the Middle East over the last century has been a dog’s dinner of half-o’-this and none-o’-that. The fact remains: the Ba’ath Party was and is essentially an unrepentant Nazi Party. We did business with all the Strong Men over the last century, despite their pogroms against the Jews, the Kurds, the Baha’i, the Christians, the Sufis and other minor sects of Islam. We knew who they were and we did business with them anyway.

        America has never been particularly good at forging up its own foreign policy. It has always relied on a fatuous notion, originating with Jefferson, wherein if we cannot be allies with an arbitrary regime, we ought to at least trade with them. It didn’t work out so well for Jefferson, who was obliged to fight America’s first overseas war against the Ottoman Barbary Pirates, and it has never worked since.

        We don’t trade blood for oil, we have always striven for some semblance of stability, in hopes these dictatorial maniacs will see reason and become democratic regimes. They never do, because a dictator’s first instinct is for self-preservation: a dictator doesn’t really want to abuse his people and deny them rights: he’s mostly interested in rootling out his enemies. To do so requires a police state, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, a recursion upon the exercise of power: to create stability, he must exercise ever-firmer control of his regime. But in so doing, he must elevate others to positions of authority, then keep an eye on those he has elevated, for they are certain to scheme against him.

        The Left’s contention is this: we have backed these Strong Men to our lasting detriment. We never believed democracy, self-rule and the rights of man might ever be a philosophy worth exporting. The Neoconservatives seized on one half of this simple truth and kicked down the regime of Saddam Hussein. The other half of the Left’s contention, that self-rule could only arise from a basic framework of human rights was completely forgotten. In the absence of legitimate political parties, the religious entities surged into the power vacuum thus created and Iraq collapsed into a civil war, still burning like a fire in a coal mine, erupting mysteriously here and there, trees burning like the Bush of Moses as the fire consumes its roots. We have not heard the last from Iraq and our military is loth to leave, knowing how precarious the situation remains. Iran has already begun to cast a long shadow over the south and center of Iraq: I predict Iraq will become a client state of Iran, exactly as the south of Lebanon has become a vassal of Tehran under Hizb’allah.

        And we are making another dog’s dinner of Egypt and Libya. Musa Kussa is a name I know reasonably well: he is Qadhafi’s vicious dog, the moral equivalent of Walther Schellenberg, Hitler’s intelligence chief, head of the Sicherheitsdienst. Kussa ran Libya’s mukahbarat and ought to be in a prison cell, not talking to various and sundry, some plenipotentiary acting on behalf of the Libyan rebels. As for Egypt, we seem to be doing land office business with Egypt’s military, as we have always done. Watch and see, Egypt will again be ruled by some jumped-up general. The faces change, the masks remain the same.

        But underneath this grotesque charade of statecraft, the ordinary Muslim has lost faith in everything but his faith. The Strong Men of Egypt hanged Sayyid Qutb and created a martyr of him. The new crew in Egypt is already committing atrocities upon its people, all in the name of Stability, the virtue America most loves in any regime.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP says:

      In the absence of a god, it’s difficult for me to look at Islam and see anything but “culture”.

      I’m not particularly a fan of saying “this culture is obviously better than *THAT* culture” but… if judgment is possible, it follows that judgment is possible. The problem then comes in making distinctions between what is an intrinsic or essential part of a culture and what is a localized pathology that we, as members of an entirely different culture, have no footing upon which to judge.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird says:

        Do not make the error of conflating Islam with Culture. There are literally hundreds of Islamic Cultures, as different from each other as it is possible to be. The localized pathologies lie in the cultures, not in the religion itself. If the soi-disant Islamic cultures have not progressed in the world, it is for two reasons: one, they lived under the hidebound Ottoman regime for centuries and two, the Strong Men repressed and stunted their countries. Consider the differences between North and South Korea as a case in point. By the way, North Korea had no better friend in the world than Libya.

        There is no excuse for these regimes being so backward. Other regimes such as Turkey and Morocco managed to make progress. Granted, modern Turkey abolished the Caliph and took a distinctly secular tone, but it was and remains an essentially Muslim nation. I contend Islam is no more a pernicious influence than Christianity or Hinduism, both of which have produced their share of intolerance and backwardness through history.

        The dictators have not only repressed their intellectuals and freethinkers, they repressed their Muslim scholars as well. Islam has a thriving intellectual community where dictators do not hold sway. These intellectuals are perfectly aware of how the dictators have both abused and promulgated Islam to their own ends. A curious factoid: Saddam Hussein had an entire Qu’ran lettered in his own blood, drawn from his veins in several installments. It was once prominently displayed in Baghdad. Islam, like Judaism before it, has many tabus surrounding human blood, this Blood Qu’ran was a deeply repugnant thing.

        I repeat myself in saying it is we who must reform, not Islam. Islam is not one thing: it is thousands of things, dividing first along its Sunni/Shiite axis, then into a bewildering panoply of madhahib and followers of this imam and that. Nor are most Muslims particularly devout and many are blankly ignorant of anything but their du’a. Often, as in Niger, it’s a veneer religion, syncretically bound to animism. The farther from Mecca one gets, the odder and more anachronistic Islam becomes.

        Generally speaking, we have it exactly backward: it’s not an Islamic Culture. It’s An Arbitrary Culture Which Happened to be Subdued by Islamic Ghazi a Few Centuries Back and which Still Goes through the Motions of Du’a.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP says:

          Well, when one looks at “Christianity”, one sees culture… (in the absence of a God, anyway).

          Now, this is not to say that Mexico is Norway is Australia is the United States.

          Of course those four cultures are very different (and they all contain sub-cultures, and the sub-cultures contain sub-sub-cultures and so on and so forth).

          However, if there is not a god, Christianity-as-practiced is a cultural phenomenon.

          And the same for Islam.

          And if it came across that I was saying that Palestine is Iran is Singapore is Syria then I apologize. I wasn’t trying to go there.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird says:

            Well sure, religion is the flower that blooms on the bush of culture. But let’s get the precedence right. Bush -> flower. As you note, the Christianity you’ll see in Mexico, Norway, Oz, and so forth are as disparate as the cultures which adopted the rubric of Christianity.Report

    • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to BlaiseP says:

      BlaiseP’s reply here has the virtue of actually being about Islam, unlike most of the bulldust here, which conceives of it as a sort of Kiwanis Club irrationally attacked by right-wing Kiwanisophobes.

      Fitna sums it up, and why the West doesn’t hear all the condemnations it would like of this or that. One can disagree with bin Laden’s tactics without summarily asserting it’s wrong on theological grounds. Who knows? Islam has no “magisterium” like the Pope or even synods, declaring what is and isn’t normative theology.

      Questions about whether Islam is good are bad are unhelpful. What can be said is that its compatibility with the West and the West’s standards [or lack of them] is questionable. Some Muslims living in Western countries adapt their practice of their religion to the host country; some demand it’s the host country that must adapt.

      And in majority Muslim countries, well, we shall see. Egypt [pop. 80-odd million] must now reinvent itself. Or revanch.

      The important thing to remember is that what Islam says to the West is unimportant. Read Muslims writing for Muslims. Or read a Kiwanis Club brochure if this is just another political football for you.Report

    • Avatar Heidegger in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Blaise, you are an original! “After many years of facing this “Islamic extremism” America should have elucidated the motives of these supposed Bad Guys.” “Islamic extremism” in quotes. Like it doesn’t really exist. That all religions let girls burn to death because they weren’t wearing those god-awful ugly, medieval headwear. And all religions have riots killing hundreds because a beauty pageant was to be held in one of their countries. And Theo van Gogh stabbed in broad daylight because of “offensive” cartoon he wrote. And all religions practice sexual mutilation against young girls. Hey, even King Pedophile Mohammad had a few rolls in the hay with a few of his young “wives”, concubines. Blaise writes: “America should have elucidated the motives of these supposed Bad Guys. “Supposed” bad guys??????????????????? Are you just freaking out of your freaking mind” Terrorists are “supposed bad guys”? 9/11 hijackers are “supposed bad guys?” Blaise, please don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m going to start looking into having you committed to a insane asylum. You need help, bro. As Randall Patrick mcMurphy so eloquently put it, “a little dab will do ya.” Have you ever been strapped down and involuntary administered electroconvulsive therapy? And god dammit, enough of your nonsense about all religions are all really all the same. They aren’t. Never have been and never will be. 99% of all terrorists “operations” have been carried out by Muslims. Why don’t you pull your deranged head out of the sand and at least attempt to see reality. I know it’s a long, long, long, way from your perspective, but certainly worth the effort. And my favorite nutzo nutty thought, “It is we who must reform, coming to terms with the reality of modern Islam both for good and evil.” Yes, 3000 innocents slaughtered, yet we’re the ones who need to reform.

      Here is your “religion of peace”. Update: since 9/11 there have been 17,064 deadly terrorists attacks carried out by MUSLIMS. Got it? Sounds pretty peaceful to me.

      Picture of the Week

      If we should respect the Quran because not doing so causes Muslims to get angry and kill, then here are the other things we should stop doing:
      Educating women. Selling alcohol. Pre-marital sex. Sharing a
      non-Muslim religious faith. Democracy. Disaster relief. Sporting
      events. Allowing women to dress as they please. Being gay. Being Hindu. Being Christian. Being Jewish. Being Buddhist. Being Sikh. Being Ahmadi. Being Sufi. Going to the wrong mosque…

      Islam’s Latest Contributions to Peace
      “Mohammed is God’s apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless
      to the unbelievers but merciful to one another” Quran 48:29

      2011.04.13 (Kunar, Afghanistan) – Ten tribal elders are blown to bits by a Fedayeen suicide bomber who embraced one of his victims.
      2011.04.12 (Khan Dhari, Iraq) – A vicious double bombing at a home leaves three family members and two rescue workers dead.
      2011.04.12 (Faryab, Afghanistan) – Talibanis gun down three children and their father.
      2011.04.11 (Khan Bani Saad, Iraq) – Ten women and children are killed in a home by Jihadi bombers.
      2011.04.11 (Baghdad, Iraq) – A 10-year-old girl is among four Iraqis murdered in a terrorist blast along a city street.
      2011.04.11 (Kanrakai, Pakistan) – Women and children are among the casualties when religious radicals set off a roadside bomb.

      Articles & Commentary

      Irony in Europe: Muslims Don Yellow Star (INN)
      “It was not Hitler who mandated the yellow star, but the leaders of the Islamic religion some 1200 years earlier.”

      The Anachronism of Apostasy (Family Security Matters)
      Punishing apostasy is no different than enslaving the mind.

      Qaddafi’s Muslim-American Friends (FrontPage Magazine)
      A long and documented history of human rights abuse and terrorism didn’t stop CAIR from asking for Qaddafi’s support as a fellow Muslim.

      Death Warrant of Ancient Christianity (AINA)
      Could Arab dictatorships be the best hope religious minorities have against extermination?

      More Useful Jihad Idiocy at NY Senate Hearings (Human Events)
      Ignorance of Islam is the best thing Islam has going for itself these days.

      From an Arab Spring to a Muslim Winter (RightSideNews)
      “In a Muslim winter, democracy is the temperature at which freedom freezes.”

      Moral Monsters in Afghanistan (
      “Isn’t evil done in the name of one’s religion more of an affront than evil done against one’s religion?”

      Palestine is Genocide (Sultan Knish)
      “A man who murders a child might be insane, but millions of people who act and think that way have developed a moral code that says their victims are subhuman.”

      When Muslims Burn the Quran (Washington Times)
      Two dissident Muslims make a statement based on first-hand justification.

      Jewish vs. Muslim Nobel Laureates (IsraPundit)
      “The ones who actually learned to fly (but not land) airplanes so they could fly them into the Twin Towers were probably the valedictorians of their classes.”

      The Annihilation of Creativity in the Muslim World (FSM)
      The murder of a single artist is more than that.

      Obama’s Mishandling of the Quran Burning (American Thinker)
      Shouldn’t the leader of the free world be supporting. . . well, freedom?

      The Third Intifada – Brought to You by Facebook (Pajamas Media)
      Facebook may have removed the most notorious page calling for violence against Israel, but a celebration may be premature.

      Immolation of the Quran (American Thinker)
      The first Quran burner was the third Caliph, a companion of Muhammad.

      We’re There to Help (National Review)
      Are American troops in Afghanistan there to stroke the Muslim ego? How’s that working out?

      Ann Barnhardt Fights Totalitarian Islam (American Thinker)
      TROP does NOT support burning copies of the Quran. We feel that the best way of discrediting Islam’s sacred book is to tell others what it says. However, many of our readers have expressed interest in a Colorado woman who recently did both.

      Destroying One Quran vs Destroying Many Christians (MEF)
      “It should be borne in mind that none of these atrocities were performed in retaliation to Jones’ Koran burning; they’re just business as usual in the Muslim world.”

      Defecation Occurs (Daniel Pipes)
      Daniel Pipes reminds us of an Islamic fatwa that explicitly permits Muslims to wipe their anuses with pages from the Torah and New Testament.

      Muslim Student Defends Israel (YouTube)
      (Video) A Muslim asks why the rights of Muslims don’t matter to the UN when they live in Arab countries.

      Quran Burning and Muslim Murder (FrontPage Magazine)
      Is it really the West’s responsibility to make sure that the Islamic world behaves in a civilized manner?

      Nihad Awad Unplugged (FSM)
      The head of CAIR spouts Jewish Lobby conspiracy theories in front of like-minded Islamists.

      Judge Goldstone Takes It Back (
      The Goldstone report did incalculable damage to Israel’s good name. Now even the author admits that it wasn’t true.

      More on the Quran Burning (National Review)
      “The Defense Department now piously condemning Koran burning is the same Defense Department that itself did not give a second thought to confiscating and burning bibles in Afghanistan.”

      A Revolting Middle East Policy (Sultan Knish)
      Has the West just cut its own throat In the name of democracy and human rights?

      The Religion of Peace is Imploding (LankaWeb)
      A Buddhist writer takes an honest look at Islam.

      Why Expose Islam? (FrontPage Magazine)
      (Video) In the final installment of this interview with Robert Spencer, he explains why it is necessary to tell the truth about Islam.

      Killings Prove Pastor Jones’s Point (Free Thought Nation)
      Putting the Quran burning in perspective.

      Muslims and Moral Handicaps (Sultan Knish)
      “Muslim rioters are not dogs, they are human beings whose moral responsibility is being denied by treating their violence as a reflexive act.”

      View Articles Archive…

      More Resources from TROP

      Previous Picture of the Week

      Last week brought a sober reminder that every religion has its
      extremists, as Christian radicals burned one copy of the Quran
      (and Muslim radicals attacked a half-dozen churches, burned dozens of
      Bibles, and slaughtered 321 people in 26 terror attacks in just 7 days).

      A delighted crowd of Indonesian Sunnis shout praises to
      Allah as an Ahmadi religious minority gets schooled on
      Islamic tolerance in what has been called the “world’s most
      moderate Muslim country” (during Interfaith Week, no less).

      Tammy Madden McKee

      Obedient Women

      Islam gets results.

      Respectful Children

      Impressive Technical Skills

      Moral Clarity

      Previous Picture of the Week

      In 2007 Islam and Judaism’s holiest holidays overlapped for 10 days.
      Muslims racked up 397 dead bodies in 94 terror attacks across 10
      countries during this time… while Jews worked on their 159th Nobel Prize.
      Jeanette Runyon

      Hate speech? Sounds like it to us, too… but, oddly enough, devout Muslims would have to disagree.

      (Some people don’t seem to understand the point that we’re making here. Try clicking on the link!)

      It would only be queer if they weren’t.

      So, you think the Ku Klux Klan
      and the Spanish Inquisition are bad?
      So do we, but…
      Put the Numbers in Perspective

      More people are killed by Islamists each year than in all 350 years of the Spanish Inquisition combined. (source)

      Islamic terrorists murder more people every day than the Ku Klux Klan has in the last 50 years. (source)

      More civilians were killed by Muslim extremists in two hours on September 11th than in the 36 years of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland. (source)
      19 Muslim hijackers killed more innocents in two hours on September 11th than the number of American criminals executed in the last 65 years. (source)

      Muslim countries have lower rates of adultery.

      It’s all about Iraq, isn’t it?

      Yep, it’s all about Iraq, Afghanistan and…

      India and the Sudan and Algeria and New York and Pakistan and Israel and Russia and Chechnya and the Philippines and Indonesia and Nigeria and England and Thailand and Spain and Egypt and Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia and Ingushetia and Dagestan and Turkey and Morocco and Yemen and Lebanon and France and Uzbekistan and Gaza and Tunisia and Kosovo and Bosnia and Mauritania and Kenya and Eritrea and Syria and Somalia and California and Kuwait and Virginia and Ethiopia and Iran and Jordan and United Arab Emirates and Louisiana and Texas and Tanzania and Germany and Australia and Pennsylvania and Belgium and Denmark and East Timor and Qatar and Maryland and Tajikistan and the Netherlands and Scotland and Chad and Canada and China and Nepal and the Maldives and Argentina and Mali and Angola and the Ukraine and Uganda and Sweden and…

      …and pretty much wherever Islam is taken seriously:

      “O ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who
      are near to you, and let them find harshness in you,
      and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty”
      Qur’an, Sura 9:123

      Ex-Baptist in Somalia Makes Rap Videos for al-Qaeda…

      Arab World Lampoons Goldstone with Anti-Semitic Cartoons…

      LA Police: Mumbai-Style Attack a ‘Likely Scenario’…

      Iran Seeks to Ban Dogs from Public Places…

      US Charges UAE Visitor with Keeping ‘Unpaid Servant’…

      Woman Caned for Adultery Before Jeering Mosque Crowd…

      Media Accused of Ignoring Brazil Killer’s Islamic Views…

      Bahrain Opposition Figure ‘Dies in Custody’…

      Islamist Elected to Head West-minister Univ. Student Union…

      Syrian Soldiers Killed for Refusing to Fire on Protesters…

      Lawmaker Resigns over Porn, Begs Allah’s Forgiveness…

      Syrian Death Toll Tops 200…

      Turkey: 250,000 Children Sexually Abused in 10 Years…

      Arkansas Shooter Claims Earlier Kill…

      Elderly Christians Burned to Death in Nigeria…

      Maid Takes Matter in Hand, Nips Harassment Problem in Bud…

      Bangladeshi Singers Forced to Shave Heads, Seek ‘Penance’…

      Jeddah Restaurant Workers Notorious Nose-Pickers…

      Australia Puts Asylum Seekers Up in Five-Star Resort…

      No Teeth in French Burqa Ban?…

      Immigrant to US Apologizes for Attempting to Blow up DC Metro

      Frenchman Assaulted for ‘Looking Jewish’…

      Coptic Mother of Two Kidnapped in Egypt…

      Brazil School Shooter: Reading the Quran Changed Me…

      Egyptian Military Sentences Blogger to 3 Years…

      Mosque ‘Dispelling Myths’ of Islam Sells Anti-Semitic Books

      Fears that New British Mosque Could be Used by Snipers…

      Court Finds Hindu Woman Duped into Conversion, Marriage…

      Religious Teacher Held for Beating 7-Year-Old to Death…

      Time Mag. Editor: Burning Quran Worse than Burning Bible…

      (UK) BNP Candidate Charged with Burning Quran…

      Premature Detonation Averts Russian Railway Suicide Blast…

      ‘Porn Star’ Takes Down ‘Conser-vative’ Indonesian MP…

      Syrian Forces Open Fire on Mosque-Goers…

      Maldives MP Arrested for Child Molestation…

      Christians Told to Leave Anti-War Demonstration…

      Palestinian Authority Honors Passover Bomber (Killer of 30)…

      Yemen’s Capital to Run Out of Water in Six Years…

      Fresh Refugees Assault Italian Police, Yell ‘Allah Akbar’…

      Priest Faces Criminal Charges for Denouncing Terrorist…

      Two Men Arrested for Feeding on Dead Bodies in Punjab…

      Saudi Master Pimps Maid ‘from House to House’…

      Turkey #1 Jailer of Journalists…

      Egyptian Fundamentalists Attack or Destroy 20 Sufi Shrines…

      US TaxpayersReport

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Heidegger says:

        H-man, that’s some brilliant stuff. Yet, there will continue to be your detractors even though you supply them with sufficent data to show that are the mere husks of human beings.
        Point, game, match to the H-man!Report

        • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

          Bob, Roberto, Roberto the Magnificent! Thanks, and I’ll tell you this, if you get banned from this joint, I’m going on a hunger strike! It’s always so much fun to see you skin Liberals and Looney Toons alive. Did you know that a few months ago, scientists found an actual “liberal” gene? I know, an awful, ghastly thought if there ever was one, but quite fascinating when you think of it. And how great to see Liberals waiting in long, long lines, waiting to be cured of Liberlism!! Can we al agree now, Liberalism is a mental disease? I’m guessing they’re going to use this “illness” as an Affirmative Action type of correction–you know, “leveling the playing field”–dimwits and nitwits you’ll now have company-crazy, nutso, messianic Liberals and Lefties! May the fun of jackassery Liberals never end!!Report

      • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to Heidegger says:

        The court jester frames Islam only in terms of terror attacks and strict readings of the Quran’s more disturbing passages.

        You can’t have it both ways, Mr. H, being exempted from the rules of civility as a jester then changing hats and expecting a seat at the adult table. [And to a lesser degree, this goes for a number of others hereabouts who often speak unseriously then expect to be taken seriously.]

        In the least, to be taken seriously, one must occasionally depart from the script and boilerplate and write something original. Again, props to my frequent foil BlaiseP for his trenchant comments on Islam-as-Islam, at Comment #13 above

        not mere regurgitations of Jihad Watch or bland “Islamophobe!” cant. Gentlemen, depart from the script!

        There is enough to discuss about—and difficulty in discussing—Whither Islam? without throwing it all into an undifferentiated soup.

        See also “Hyena” at comment #41 in the other thread, that much “honor killing” stuff and other assorted savageries is more a function of Third Worldism than Islam itself. Exc point. Clarity is possible.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Heidegger says:

        I especially enjoyed the Previous Picture of the Week.

        You have not read a thing I wrote. I am not a Muslim and I make no apology for that faith. At #13, I laid out the case for Islam’s fundamental objective: to subdue the world unto itself.

        Furthermore, I made mention of Islamic violence on Muslims, much of which you have laid out yourself. Islam is no more to blame for this continuing horror than Christianity was for the Thirty Years War: Islam has become an excuse for every sort of wickedness.

        Your problem, Heidi, is that you do not know how to hate Islam properly. My mother and father, who did nothing but good for Muslims in Niger Republic, were spat upon and cursed by wandering preachers of Islam, who said their kufr medicines would make people Christians. They would letter out a section of Qu’ran onto a slate, wash the ink off and give it to a sick person to drink. If someone died, well, that was the will of Allah. Islam is a deeply perverse and fatalistic philosophy and I reject it. It is a religion of empty places, of an unknowable God, beyond all comprehension, a God who may be merciful but not a God who loves me.

        Islam has become brittle over the centuries and is coming apart at the seams. It closed the doors to reforms many centuries ago. It has not adapted to the modern world. I have attempted in my own way to explain why Muslims will not condemn other Muslims, not that you would actually read what I say.

        Deeply disturbed by the vehemence and hatred I see hereabouts, I sense in many of you a fear borne of ignorance. You cannot conceive that a Muslim could also love America. All you have ever heard of this religion is evil and the same is true of them. Put down your cudgels, you petty cut and paste artiste, Islam is both a greater and a more evil thing than you can possibly understand.Report

        • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to BlaiseP says:

          If anyone’s still reading you, BlaiseP, your left flank is now more exposed than your right. By a longass shot. I like that in a radical. In for a penny, in for a pound. Anything less is a betrayal of radical principles.

          Rock on, brother Blaise. I’d gladly get your back or serve as a character witness, but I don’t think it would help. You know, things being what they are.Report

        • Avatar Heidegger in reply to BlaiseP says:

          Well, Hallelujah! Why couldn’t write something like this before? In any case, I love it. I hope you’re well-stacked with firearms–you know what how the fanatics resolve these kinds if disputes. Like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to BlaiseP says:

          Picture yourself in the American hinterland about 75 years ago, and how badly you’d have given up on its irredeemably racist, superstitious, and invincibly ignorant denizens, and how easy it would have been to conclude that Bible Belt Fundamentalism had ruined them forever. You’re a bright guy, but you have a 100-mile-wide tendency to overstate. (And if there’s 10 square miles of the earth’s surface where you haven’t lived long enough to become a leading expert, I’d be curious where that might be.)Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            I don’t have to imagine the American South of fifty years ago, a good ways off the beaten path, a very adequate substitute for your scenario. If anyone had reason to give up, I did, and in point of fact I have not overstated a goddamn thing. Ignorance is not incurable. Giving up is not an option. Life prepared me with a curious skill: the ability to see through other people’s eyes, to listen through their ears and everyone from Panasonic to Uncle Sam has paid me good money to do it.Report

        • Avatar Heidegger in reply to BlaiseP says:

          Any chance Monsieur Pascal you teach “How to Properly Hate” on the Internet? Sign me up, if so! I can only imagine how unhinged you must get to your students should they dare to venture off the Liberal beaten path. More thank likely, a nice big F for their efforts and probably close to being brow beaten to death as well. (oh, have read every word you’ve ever written on this post.)Report

  6. Avatar Murali says:

    America is really the only laboratory in the world that gives us the freedom to create a third alternative

    Obviously Dr jasser has never heard of Singapore.

    In virtue of what is it that muslims ought to appeal to an american audience? Sometimes the arrogance astounds me.

    On a contrasting note, Malaysia, the so called moderate muslim democracy is no model that americans would want to follow. If Malaysia is the example of moderate islam, then you are using some strange meaning of moderacy.

    The Singaporean model is better.

    • Avatar Murali in reply to Murali says:

      The key thing is this: There is a model to follow if we are serious about inter-religious harmony and religious freedom. The lack of moderateness in malaysia is no argument in favour of an all out war between the “west” and Islam.Report

    • Avatar James K in reply to Murali says:

      But Murali, don’t you know by now that the US and Europe are the only real places on earth? Why all those other places are just backdrop. Sure armies might go there and electronics might come back, but they don’t really exist the way Europe and the good old US of A do.Report

    • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to Murali says:

      Murali, I’ve been brushing up on Malaysia, seen by many in the West as sort of a pioneer project for “good” [“moderate”] Islamic states. I’m not totally discouraged: I’ve been reading a group called Sisters-in-Islam who are Islamic feminists, but argue within Islam’s scriptural boundaries for a truer fulfillment of its promise [as opposed to Western-style secularization]. Still, the news so far is far from satisfactory to Western eyes. I question if even a model Islamic state can be.

      I do wonder how Singapore is relevant, though, since it’s not majority Muslim.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to tom van dyke says:

        Singapore is relevant in how a sizeable muslim minority (about 14%) can peacefully co-exist with a majority non-muslim population without having to give up behavioural mores like male female contact taboos, prayer facing mecca 5 times a day, Halaal food, burqas, headscarves etc etc. One thing that is obvious is that there are liberal and conservative muslims. The more liberal ones don’t cover up (I mean really don’t cover up if you know what I mean) while the really conservative ones are covered from head to toe in a burqa. And of course there are those in between. Meaning, that here in Singapore, you get the kind of Islam that is compatible with a liberal-ish (classical or otherwise) political order.

        It is more relevant to america and western countries at the least with regards to how they deal with their own muslim minorities (or any other religious minoiries fo that matter) than what happens in a majority muslim country.

        I’m not very sure, but it seems that indonesia is a better example than malaysia at least as regards a secular democracy with a majority muslim population.Report

        • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to Murali says:

          Mr. Murali, this is sure where I wish honest discussions of Islam and the West would begin, where the rubber meets the road.

          I don’t know where to begin, so I think I’m not going to try, the current environment being what it is. A similar attempt was made at my home blog, if you scroll down a few posts. The discussion is now rather mature, but I’ll keep an eye out for your thoughts.

          (The animal rights folks in the Netherlands are trying to ban halal [and kosher] slaughter practices. Rubber, meet road.)Report

  7. Instead, what we get from the American Muslim narrative is a mealymouthed condemnation of terrorism that is always coupled with a lecture about Israeli settlements or Israeli terrorism or the Israel lobby or American-Israeli foreign policy.

    I know you’re talking about a “narrative” (a term that, like “meme,” conveniently obfuscates which specific people you are actually talking about), but it’s dangerous to use “always” unless 1) it’s obviously true or 2) you can prove it. By this standard, your own example of Jasser apparently disproves your “always.”

    Nit picky? Maybe, but maybe not: when we’re talking about blaming by association millions of people for the actions of a small number of people who claim to be their co-religionists and when we’re placing on them a special burden of “better PR” when most of the real problem is more aptly mere prejudice and intolerance, you should dot your i’s and cross your t’s.

    Look, maybe a better PR campaign would work. I’m skeptical, but maybe you’re right. But let’s not forget that we’ve seen this movie before, sometimes with less unhappy endings and sometimes with tragic ones.Report

  8. Avatar Chris says:

    Shrinking this cultural divide really isn’t as hard as it seems. One simple thing moderate Muslims could do to this end, for example, would have been to denounce the Park51 mosque. Most Americans condemn the mosque as the tasteless, insensitive, oafish, irksome idea that it is.

    This part of the post, particularly the last sentence of it, is all one needed to read to know that Tim is basically talking out of his ass (if the “blame the victim” schtick didn’t tell you that right off). Because seriously, a cultural center with a prayer room that’s not really even in sight of Ground Zero is a “tasteless, insensitive, oafish, irksome idea” only to people who are talking out of their asses.

    At some point, Tim’s going to write something insightful or at least interesting on this site. I’m afraid I’m going to miss it, because so far it’s been all boilerplate conservative nonsense, and that doesn’t inspire me to read any more.Report

  9. Avatar Alex Knapp says:

    One simple thing moderate Muslims could do to this end, for example, would have been to denounce the Park51 mosque. Most Americans condemn the mosque as the tasteless, insensitive, oafish, irksome idea that it is. Others worry this might send the wrong message to Muslims too dim to understand the difference between condemning an Islamic center in the shadow of an Islamist terrorist attack site, and condemning Islam as a religion or Muslims as people.

    Or the Park51 could have gone one better. Do you know what they should have done? They should have turned the building into an multi-faith organization dedicated to bridging understanding between various religious groups. The community center should have been open to all, and offered a variety of activities aimed at building cultural understanding.

    Oh wait a minute, you mean it IS all those things? And that’s been ignored by anti-Muslim bigots by Andy McCarthy, Dennis Miller, and Pam Gellar? Say it ain’t so!Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Alex Knapp says:

      You mean anti-Islam bigots ignore facts so they can keep peddling their bullshit? Say it ain’t so!Report

    • Avatar Tim Kowal in reply to Alex Knapp says:

      If the Par51 mosque really were an olive branch, it would have gone away on its own accord when it was regarded by the majority of Americans, rightly or wrongly, as inappropriate. The tenacity of Rauf speaks volumes, does it not?Report

      • Avatar Alex Knapp in reply to Tim Kowal says:

        If the Par51 mosque really were an olive branch, it would have gone away on its own accord when it was regarded by the majority of Americans, rightly or wrongly, as inappropriate. The tenacity of Rauf speaks volumes, does it not?

        Because as we all know, the best way to confront bigotry is to back down and give into it.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Alex Knapp says:

          “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. Maybe 1990, maybe 2050. Who knows? Until then, we’ll be here in the back of the bus, sitting quietly, waiting.”Report

          • Avatar Scott in reply to Mike Schilling says:


            MLK also said that folks should be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin. However, minorities still demand affirmative active and Uncle Jesse and Uncle AL still make careers out of race baiting and extorting money from companies.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Alex Knapp says:

          Would you promote racial harmony by opening the “Black Power Soul Food And Rap Music Parlor — Whites Not Allowed”?Report

      • Avatar mark boggs in reply to Tim Kowal says:

        Yeah, so even if the perception of the thing as inappropriate may or may not be wrong, they should acquiesce to that possible misperception? Man, what a world this could be if we had to pay deference to every person’s misperceptions of us. I’m sure you’ll be touting this same maxim when we go “Great White Fleet”ing all over the world when it suits our interests.Report

      • Avatar Simon K in reply to Tim Kowal says:

        Because clearly we should judge people based on their willingness to sacrifice their religious liberty based on opinion poll. Just like its clearly the responsibility of religious minorities to clarify their lack of affiliation with murderous thugs on a daily basis in order to avoid being arbitrary discriminated against. Clearly we can’t expect the American people to live up to their ideals and respect the religious liberty of those who fail to be sufficiently fawning in their desire to exercise it, can we?

        How do you resolve the inconsistency between insisting on a focus on procedural justice in the economic realm, and resisting objections based on substantively undesirable outcomes, with what you’re doing here? Because as far as I can see, you’re rejecting the outcome of procedural justice, based on your belief that the result is not even wrong, but merely tasteless.Report

  10. Avatar Dan says:

    I can’t worry about the earth, I’m too worried about the world and the thing that worries me the most in the world is radical Islam

    One wonders why anyone would bother quoting, much less agree with, someone essentially admitting that he can’t really think about more than one thing at once. This is the same addled nonsense that allowed the last president to premise all of his excesses on the threat of Islamic extremism.Report

  11. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Back in my Superatheist! days, I went to the occasional Freethinkers (sigh) meeting.

    After one of the more depressing ones (the speaker made fun of his grandmother’s simple religious faith and expected us to laugh along), I was witnessed to by a Muslim gentleman of Arab extraction. I thought that this was a challenge I had never before contemplated… I was used to slapping around Christians, here was an opportunity to slap around a Muslim!

    I began with talking about the five pillars. Charity, the pilgramage, Ramadan, prayer… and when I said what the Muslim affirmation of faith was, the gentleman put his hand into a fist, shook it in my face, and told me to never say the name of his prophet ever again.

    Much less fun than slapping around Christians.Report

  12. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    Tim, I liked your piece and think you’re an excellent writer. Sadly, many of the girly thugs here at the League get their panties in a twist when anyone violates the tenets of political correctness. I’m thinking that sometime in Middle school they were required to drink the commie-Kool aide and did so with relish.
    Where we disagree is in the idea that their are ‘moderate’ Muslims. There aren’t any.
    There’s three types of Muslims: those in Jihad, those who contribute to Jihad, and those thinking about it.
    Because Islam is a worldview that advocates the overthrow of the American gummint I think it’s well within our rights, at the very least, to stop the flow of third world Muslims to America and halt their efforts to obtain citizenship.Report

    • Bob, I’m this close to banning you. You’re no longer amusing to me.Report

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        E.D., I would consider that irony. As I’ve said, it’s your blog. If you can’t tolerate ideas that don’t align with your version of whatever’s politcally correct, that’s up to you. Frankly, I’d never shutdown someone because I didn’t agree with them. But, that’s me. And, E.D. I’m not trying to amuse you.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

          There’s quite a lot of air between tolerating an idea and providing it a forum.

          If I were intolerant of you, I might call for (or perform violence against you). I might suggest legislation that would penalize you for speaking. I might put you in prison, or demand it.

          If I were tolerating — but conscientiously not endorsing — your ideas, then I’d just ask you to offer them somewhere else.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

          Bob, it’s not the disagreement that gets the Ordinaries and particularly E.D. upset. I rather think they like the disagreement, keeps things interesting. It’s the invective and insults that are woven into it which set them off. Forgive my presumption here, but you might have written the first paragraph of your message this way:

          Tim, I liked your piece and think you’re an excellent writer. Sadly, many of the girly thugs here at the League get their panties in a twist when anyone violates the tenets of political correctness. I’m thinking that sometime in Middle school they were required to drink the commie-Kool aide and did so with relish. I believe your opinions will be unpopular with most of the League’s masthead bloggers and probably that unadmitted but obviously left-leading Likko character too.

          I have issues with the last paragraph but they are disputes about the substance of what you say. My point here is that it looks as though you went out of your way to express yourself in a disagreeable, insulting, and provocative fashion.Report

          • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Burt Likko says:

            Burt, I must confess you have a point, although I didn’t really ‘go out of my way.’Report

          • Avatar Tim Kowal in reply to Burt Likko says:


            I didn’t intend to do that, so if you say it looks as though I did, I failed to express myself clearly. That’s going to bother me all day, particularly since it appears I can’t get the benefit of the doubt that I genuinely do care about Muslims and how they can win greater social acceptance in this country. I’ve had many fights with people on the right about the flipside of some of these issues, and I’ve been called an anti-semite more than a few times. These discussions are just really hard to have no matter which side you’re on. I genuinely wish I could have presented my case better here–I oughtn’t have rushed to post while I’m still in the middle of trial.

            At any rate, thanks for the constructive criticism. Won’t be able to return to this till evening.Report

            • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Tim Kowal says:

              Tim, dude, you’re all good. My remarks immediately above were directed at Bob Cheeks and not at you.

              Nothing you wrote in the main post is outside the realm of acceptable civil debate. If it’s any consolation, when I’ve swum into these same waters, I’ve found them quite choppy as well. It’s an arena that draws out a lot of reaction from those deeply uncomfortable with nuance.

              Suggesting that Muslims, whether fairly or not, must operate in the public light conscious of the fact that they must offer not even the hint that they are somehow apologists for terrorism may seem distasteful to some. My own religious minority only recently found a voice in the cultural dialogue, so I’m used to the idea that from time to time I will need to make a more-overt-than-strictly-necessary demonstration of things that in all fairness ought to go without saying in the first place. Such is the inherent burden of articulating oneself to those who are different from you.

              I think asking “Why don’t the moderate Muslims condemn their more extremist coreligionists?” is a good question, a fair question, and not a bigoted question. Now, I do think that when the Muslims respond with an answer like, “We have done exactly that, look here,” that response ought to be evaluated fairly and accepted if the proffered evidence is reasonably satisfactory. (A condemnation might look like “9/11 was an act of evil. It was against Islam. The terrorists who did it are sinners who died unforgiven. Good Muslims everywhere abhor what they did and join all other people of good faith in mourning the loss of life that happened that day.”) And yes, if the condemnation of Muslim terrorism turns out to be blended with anti-Israel invective, that does tend to diminish the weight of the purported condemnation.

              Saying to a Muslim, “Your religion has obviously suffered a schism, why don’t you acknowledge that fact?” is a good, fair, and unbigoted question. Pointing out to the Park51 people, “Yes, you have the right to build a mosque here but I still don’t think it’s a very good idea” is an entirely appropriate thing to say (I may disagree with that point but one is hardly an asshole for making it). Questioning why Zudhi Jasser draws such invective from the left-of-center crowd is entirely acceptable, if uncomfortable for some to consider.

              The very discomfort you receive in response to these points is a signal that you’re touching an intellectual nerve; I’m sure you’ve noticed the tendency of some witnesses to respond to touch questions on cross-examination with vacuous hostility. When that happens to me, I know I’m scoring points, not having them scored on me.Report

            • First off, Tim while there were some things that I disagreed with regarding your post, I thought it was very good and not trending into some kind of anti-Islamic invective that I hear among conservatives.

              That said Regarding both Tim and E.D.’s post what I keep think is, does it have to be one or the other? I think too often we have to choose between the Bad Muslims/ Good American option or the Good Muslim/Bad American option. I would agree that talking about things like the Times Square bomber of Nidal Hassan are tricky; on the one hand you have to ask why there are a number of American Muslims giving into radicalism. On the other hand, asking questions about American Muslims brings back memories of things like the internment of Japanese Americans and the like.

              What I wish is that we could tackle some these questions without insinuating that people asking them are bigots or paint an entire group with a wide brush. I wish we could ask questions without jumping to conclusions.Report

            • Avatar Barry in reply to Tim Kowal says:

              Tim Kowal April 13, 2011 at 8:07 am

              ” I didn’t intend to do that, so if you say it looks as though I did, I failed to express myself clearly.”

              Oh no – you expressed yourself very, very clearly.Report

          • I’m with Likko on Cheeks’ rhetorical excesses. But Kowal has been called a bigot several times in these comments.

            That’s not right in my view, management, but I suppose mileage varies.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        It seems odd to ban the regular troll when there’s a concern troll writing the original posts. If anything, having Bob here helps put Tim’s main-page concern trolling into stark relief.Report

    • Mr. Kowal:

      Here is an example of the type of argument/people the things you say in your post tend to appeal to. Maybe that wasn’t your purpose, but that is one of the functions of what you have written in this post.

      Now, I haven’t necessarily the right to smear you by association, even though some of the “Muslims need better PR” apologists undoubtedly so associate, but you’re playing the same kind of tune that many of the unreflective chauvinists/nativists march to.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

      Because Islam is a worldview that advocates the overthrow of the American gummint…

      Islam does not advocate overthrow of the American government. How could it? Its holy books and tenets were written by people who were ignorant of the existence of the American continents and at a time nearly a millennium before the United States existed.

      Islam does advocate that its followers work towards achieving the entire world submit to Allah. This can be interpreted a lot of different ways; one of them is that it advocates the creation of a global Caliphate, but another one is that it encourages its members to evangelize and encourage every individual person in the world to convert to Islam. There is a real equivalency with Christianity here — there are Christians who think that the Bible calls for the creation of an overtly Christian government which should conquer the world and claim it for Jesus, and there are those who think that they have a Christian duty to evangelize and redeem every soul on the planet through conversion.

      And then there are the vast majority of both Christians and Muslims who pretty much mind their own business about other peoples’ religious beliefs, and do not concern themselves all that much with politics.

      There may be modern Muslim clerics who call for the overthrow of the U.S. government. Those individuals probably should be excluded from our territory and a call to overthrow the government is incompatible with taking the oath of naturalization, so I don’t see a problem with not offering citizenship to such individuals.

      …it’s well within our rights, at the very least, to stop the flow of third world Muslims to America…

      Isn’t this underinclusive? If your premise is correct, that simply adhering to Islam religion makes the Muslim immigrant an existential danger to the U.S. government, why do you confine your proposed limitation to Muslims from the third world? Wouldn’t a Muslim who was born and raised in the UK be just as dangerous as one born and raised in Yemen?

      Or is the real issue that the person in question is from the third world and therefore very likely uneducated and unskilled? In that sense, they sound a whole lot like them unskilled, uneducated Mez-cans come over here to suck off the gummint tit and steal all our jawbs. Now, if that’s the real issue, keep your eye out for a habañero pepper tossed into the simmering immigration debate, coming soon to a blog near you and let’s not confuse things by bringing religion into the mix.Report

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Burt, Burt calm down. We’re friends now, it’s all good!
        And, Burt don’t think that you don’t have a special place in my heart as a left leaning liburl who tolerates an annoying paleo here at the Catotian League.
        I love habanero’s, I cook with ’em.Report

      • Avatar Mike in reply to Burt Likko says:

        “Islam does not advocate overthrow of the American government. How could it?”

        Islam advocates the overthrow of any non-Islamist, non-Caliphate, non-Sharia-style government.

        By necessity this includes the US government.

        Your claim otherwise fails the most basic smell test.Report

        • Avatar Alex Knapp in reply to Mike says:

          Islam advocates the overthrow of any non-Islamist, non-Caliphate, non-Sharia-style government.

          The vast majority of Muslims in the Muslim-majority nations of Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Turkey, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, Niger, Mali, Burkina Fesco, Senegal, and many other Muslim-majority nations seem to be blissfully unaware of this….

          Of course, there are minority parties that believe your nonsense. But then, there are a minority of Christians in this country who believe that the United States should be declared a Christian nation and that laws should be based on the Bible.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Mike says:

          Perhaps, Mike, you should read the next paragraph of my comment, in which I concede that there are Muslims who interpret their religion to impel them to create a global Caliphate.

          Where I think you and I disagree is that I say only some Muslims think that way and I suspect you would say no, they all do.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

      Of course you have a problem with Islam, Bob: it’s monotheistic.Report

  13. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Tim, I’m confused by this post. Mainly I’m confused why you would presume to tell the billion or so Muslims out there how to act, how they should put their religious belief on display, and why you think you’re in a position to do so.

    Don’t you realize by now that there is literally nothing that so-called moderate Muslims can do to pacify nativists in the US (and Europe) short of denying their faith and going on book tours warning of the dangers of radical Islam? Is that how Christians ought to live? Should they spend all their time denouncing radicals within their own flock?

    I just find this whole piece really distasteful. You are effectively blaming Muslims in general as a population for your own inability to find tolerance within yourself. I think you have the damn thing backwards.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to E.D. Kain says:

      Is there tension between the American Religion and Islam?

      I’m not asking “should it exist” or “are White People racists” or “are you a good person” but if is there a phenomenon of tension between the American Religion and Islam.

      If there is tension between the American Religion and Islam, is this tension resolvable?

      Does even asking this question demonstrate not only a number of personal shortcomings on my part but calls into question the character of anyone who would even ask such a question?Report

    • Avatar Tim Kowal in reply to E.D. Kain says:

      I’ll be away from the computer today and won’t have a chance to respond to all the suggestions that I’m an Islamophobic bigot that are sure to follow, but I will just assert, for what it’s worth (apparently nothing) that I am not an Islamophobic bigot. I ran a technology company with a good friend of mine from college who is Muslim, and he’s informed a lot of my thinking about the Middle East, the Israel/Palestine question, and Islam in general. I’ve shared with him a lot of the ideas in this post. He’d disagree with much of it, but then again, I don’t agree with his responses, much the same as I’d disagree with many of the comments here. One thing he doesn’t do is call me a bigot or my ideas distasteful. He recognizes the basic idea of what I’m interested in doing in exploring why it is moderate Muslims have trouble connecting with mainstream America. I sincerely don’t understand why this effort results in more hostility from white liberals than from moderate Muslims.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Tim Kowal says:

        “I’m not a racist! Just ask my black friend.”
        Seriously, though, I think it’s quite clear that you’re a bigot, though not any more than a substantial portion of Americans. What’s disturbing is not the bigotry, which again is pretty much ubiquitous, but the fact that you think that the bigotry that you and so many share is the fault of the people against whom you’re prejudiced. What’s more, you think they’re not doing enough to make you and your ilk feel more comfortable with them. If you don’t recognize in this a timeless rationalization for prejudice, then you’re as unreflective as I thought.Report

      • Avatar Jack in reply to Tim Kowal says:

        Bigotry does not require the personal rejection of individual members of a minority, but rather the gross conflation of “bad things” to the minority group as a whole. Your entire post comes off as concern trolling. Providing Andrew MacCarthy yet another platform to espouse his odious views is not a good start, but it is the transition from simple PR concerns into demands that they condemn a community center in a former Burlington Coat outlet not visible from ground zero is just too much. Claiming “I’m not a bigot” and implying PC reactionism doesn’t immunize you against people pointing out that the views and proposals you endorse have a bigoted compenent.Report

      • Avatar BSK in reply to Tim Kowal says:

        “What I’m interested in doing in exploring why it is moderate Muslims have trouble connecting with mainstream America.”

        Maybe it is America that is the problem. Maybe a nation that demands assimilation is hard to connect with. Maybe a nation that, as a whole, doesn’t know the difference between a Muslim and Arab is tricky for Muslims. Maybe a nation that presupposes you are evil because members of your faith committed evil acts (a mindset almost exclusively reserved for your faith) is not one that Muslims in America really want to connect with.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to BSK says:

          “Maybe a nation that demands assimilation is hard to connect with.”

          That would make it pretty damn hard to connect with just about anywhere, then, since Muslim nations place more emphasis on “assimilation” than America.

          I guess you could move to Sweden, although if you aren’t a white Swede then it’s pretty tough to be anything but a working-class menial.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BSK says:

          BSK, could you give an example of a more open and multicultural society than is found in the US?

          I ask because I am pretty sure that the US is, if not in front, very much in the running for being in the front.

          The US doesn’t have language laws, we have very liberal free speech laws, very liberal free press laws, and very liberal religious laws.

          I’m trying to think of a real-life example of a country that is more Liberal when it comes to culture.Report

          • Avatar BSK in reply to Jaybird says:

            Just because it is the best does not mean it is good. And the problem is that many people are advocating for laws targeted toward Islam.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BSK says:

              Well, I was hoping for an example that we ought to be more like when it comes to how Muslims are treated.Report

              • Avatar BSK in reply to Jaybird says:

                Huh? I’d like to answer your question, but I don’t understand it.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                You are arguing that we need to be more multicultural and inclusive of the Muslim Faith.

                Sure. Let’s say that I agree.

                Could you point me to a country and say “we need to be more like X in how they treat Islam?”Report

              • Avatar BSK in reply to Jaybird says:

                Gotcha. Outside of Muslim countries (where I understand certain sects of Muslims are still persecuted and certain followers of the faith (e.g. women) are also persecuted), I’m not sure there is a country that does better. That’s not to say there isn’t, as I’m not acutely aware of the treatment of Muslims the world over. I can speak for America. And even if we are the best in the world, that doesn’t mean we are doing it right.

                Again, we had Congressional hearings into the “radicalization” of Islam. Are you F’in serious? Would that really make you want to assimilate for any reason beyond pure fear?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BSK says:

                So you cannot point us to a country that does better?

                How about a country that does better when it comes to “other religions”?Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to BSK says:

                BSK–would you kindly show us your passport? And while you’re at it, DNA results to show you are not related to Leon Trotsky or Lenin? Thanks. Your BSK acronym leads directly to Stalin. Maybe even four degrees of separation. Which would mean you would have a claim to lands occupied by “occupiers”.==Jews. Do you hate Jews as much as your fellow Cossacks?Report

              • Avatar Andrew in reply to Jaybird says:

                Why do we need to cite another country at all? Isn’t it enough to take the position, “You know what? You can build all the mosques you want. You can settle family disputes under Islamic private arbitration if both parties consent. We’ll trust you to act like the same good neighbors that you want us to be.” Lots of us feel that way already, but there are still too many people who want everyone to believe that their society is being menaced.

                It seems that one of the reasons the U.S. does so well compared to, say, European nations is because more Americans (yet still not enough) are willing give Muslims the benefit of the doubt.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Andrew says:

                Why do we need to cite another country at all?

                Well, I’ve got this weird tic.

                If someone starts screaming about how awful X is on issue Y, and how wicked X is with regards to issue Y, and how they cannot believe how (screwed) up X is when it comes to Y and then, after some light investigation, that X is, in fact, the best on the issue of Y and there is not an example of any other entity out there that is better when it comes to Y?

                Something weird is going on.Report

              • Avatar BSK in reply to Jaybird says:

                Relativism for all!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                Suddenly we’re not fans of relativism?

                I don’t know that you’re going to like where non-relativism necessarily takes you in any given discussion regarding cultural differences.

                I imagine that I’d be far more interested in exploring that territory than you are… let’s find out.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to E.D. Kain says:

      “Mainly I’m confused why you would presume to tell the billion or so Muslims out there how to act, how they should put their religious belief on display, and why you think you’re in a position to do so.”

      Apparently you’ve missed the endless debates about how the billion or so Christians out there ought to act, how they should put their religious belief on display, etcetera.

      Delete “Muslim” from the top post, and insert “Christian”. What’s your reaction? Do you think that it’s inappropriate to suggest that Christians disavow the extremist groups that label themselves “Christian”? Do you think it’s racist to suggest that Christians ought to behave in a manner calculated so as not to offend? Do you think it’s anti-intellectual to feel that Christians, in general, will always respond the same way to certain situations?Report

      • I’m pretty sure ED would answer yes to all three questions.Report

      • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to DensityDuck says:

        My response would be identical. I won’t abide gross generalization of any religious group.Report

      • Avatar BSK in reply to DensityDuck says:

        Please document this. Where are the endless debates about Christianity? Specifically those being held by non-Christians.Report

        • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to BSK says:

          BSK, you ask after literally decades of attacks on the Religious Right?

          Ask a Muslim if he should disregard his faith and religious conscience when he votes. Or tell him he shouldn’t oppose laws that directly contradict the Quran and/or his religious conscience.

          As an aside and a NB, although my last several comments express a trepidation with Muslim theology and its compatibility with “Western” values, I quite get and respect their religiosity. To faithful of any stripe, God is a reality and the scriptures are Divine Writ. It’s not pluralistic to expect them to act as though they’re not.Report

          • Avatar BSK in reply to tom van dyke says:

            First off, those conversations are often taking place within the Christian community, which makes them very different than a non-Muslim attempting to inform the Muslim world how to present itself.

            Second off, your privilege is showing! If disagreeing with a political philosophy espoused by a religion is “persecution”, then how can one reasonably offer a counter argument?

            You really are making an absurd equivalency here. And it is sad that you cannot see that.Report

  14. Avatar Mike says:

    Violence is a basic tenet of the Muslim faith.

    Remember that all the “peaceful” verses of the Koran were written when the religion was still small, and Mohammed didn’t want to make waves with people who had bigger armies than he did. It was only when he attained a large military standing that the “convert or the sword” attitude came out – along with the raping, pillaging, massacre of “pagan”, christian, jewish communities, taking of women as spoils of war, and other atrocities.

    But the Muslim faith has a jurisprudence of two words, “al-mansukh wa al-nasikh”, “the abrogated and the abrogating”. Essentially, those parts of the Koran that come chronologically later than others overrule them and negate them. In sum total, only 38% of the Koran is non-abrogated.

    The famous “there shall be no compulsion in religion” (Sura 2, verse 256, partial) that Muslim apologists love to trot out – itself a woefully out of context snippet – is abrogated by “Slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush” (Sura 9:5), “O ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you, and let them find harshness in you”(Sura 9:123), “O believers, take not Jews and Christians as friends; they are friends of each other. Whoso of you makes them his friends is one of them.” (Sura 5:51), “Allah revealed His will to the angels, saying: ‘I shall be with you. Give courage to the believers. I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, strike off the very tips of their fingers!’ That was because they defied Allah and His apostle.”(Sura 8:12-13)… the list goes on a long way.

    Islam doesn’t have a PR problem, unless it is deliberately trying to hide what it is from the world. Islam’s problem is that more and more of the world are educated enough to realize that they want no part of a faith filled with racism and hatred.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Mike says:

      You know what this is like? “Remember that all the “peaceful” verses of the Koran were written when the religion was still small, and Mohammed didn’t want to make waves with people who had bigger armies than he did. It was only when he attained a large military standing that the “convert or the sword” attitude came out – along with the raping, pillaging, massacre of “pagan”, christian, jewish communities, taking of women as spoils of war, and other atrocities.” It’s like reading Noam Chomsky on US foreign policy- just describe one side of a war in order to make that army sound horrific. Sure, the poor Meccans just wanted to live in peace (and kill off the Muslims) but the Muhammad had to go and introduce violence to the region.Report

      • Avatar Mike in reply to Rufus F. says:

        Please answer with facts and reference instead of ad hominem, Rufus. I did you the courtesy of linking several verses from the Koran that abrogate the “no compulsion in religion” saw, and provided you multiple references in my following post below.Report

        • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Mike says:

          ad hominem

          I don’t think that word means what you think it means.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike says:

          As an atheist, I’ve seen how Christians (even “good” Christians) play tap-dance with their own “inerrant” Bible.

          Pointing out ugly verses in the Koran strikes me as very similar to pointing out ugly verses in the Bible. Fun from this side of it, but exceptionally easy for people to say “oh, you’re misinterpreting and, besides, you need to take the whole context and, anyway, my pastor explained this verse to me and it doesn’t mean that.”Report

          • Avatar Mike in reply to Jaybird says:

            As a practicing Buddhist, I’m on the “off with their heads” list from the barbarians who call themselves Muslims. I don’t even get to live in the slavery-life of “people of the book” when they take over.

            So you’ll excuse me if I don’t want those barbarians taking over. I’ve seen what they do to my fellow Buddhists.


            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike says:

              Life is suffering.Report

            • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Mike says:

              Mike, if you really want to excite the pc crowd here, tell ’em your gonna buy a gun to protect yourself from the Muslims!Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                Bob, just dismissing those who disagree with you as “PC” is a wonderful way to avoid having to reflect on your own position, much less that of others.

                Before someone suggests it, there is a difference between what Bob does with his frequent use of the “PC” label to deflect accusations of bigotry, and actual accusations of bigotry. Tim’s position is that the reason people are prejudiced against Muslims, taking the actions and beliefs of a few to be representative of the entire population, is because the rest of the population hasn’t done enough to counter those prejudices. Forgetting for a moment the fact that pretty much since the day of September 11, 2001, Muslims have repeatedly and regularly taken to every medium to say unequivocally that they disagree with militant Islamists, and that they don’t represent their religion, or even the fact that millions of Muslims live among us peacefully, Tim’s position is a classic rationalization of prejudice. And since he doesn’t actually present any arguments for that rationalization, just expands on it, with quotes and assurances that he is not a bigot and actually had a Muslim friend once, it’s not unreasonable to point that out. Perhaps, given the weight of the word “bigot,” one should say why it’s bigoted, but at least with the word “bigot” that is possible, but with “PC,” which long ago lost any real meaning, that’s not even remotely possible.

                By the way, on the cultural center, which may have been a PR disaster, but only because of people’s prejudices (seriously, it’s in the same neighborhood as Ground Zero, but it’s not like it’s right friggin’ next door, and even if it was, really?), if one wants to see that it wasn’t really about that particular Islamic building, one need only look to Murfreesboro.Report

              • Avatar mark boggs in reply to Chris says:

                It was east of the Mississippi…close enough for Tenneseeans to be offended.Report

        • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Mike says:

          Mike, an ad hominem attack is an attack on the person making an argument, which I didn’t do. Secondly, I said nothing about the ‘no compulsion in religion’ saw, which you seem to want to discuss more than what I did bring up, which was the state of Arabia at the time of the founding of Islam. I said pretty bluntly why your depiction of that time is misleading and laughably wrong. Do you want me to give you book titles on the history of Islam? Is it fair to assume that anything I’d provide you’d say was dishonest, given that you’ve already accused Wikipedia of covering up the truth on Islam? Fine: “A Short History of Islam” Karen Armstrong. Frankly, your response to the point I made was to ignore it and to pretend that you’re arguing with someone else making some other point. Stop wasting my time.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike says:

          The first “bad” verses you point out (those from Sura 9) were delivered in a specific context — a battle against a particular class of people, a group idolaters who had violated a treaty with the Muslims.

          Even granting the truth both of the Muslim religion and of your hermeneutics (neither of which, by the way, I actually do grant), said people are now extinct from the face of the planet. So is the commandment to slay, which applied only to them, and only because they had violated a treaty. It’s very, very clear if you read the whole Sura.

          As to 5:51, the correct citation is “do not take certain Christians and Jews as allies.” The context makes it clear that these Christians and Jews were the ones who would try to detour Muslims from their own faith. As religious commandments go, “stay true to the religion, and avoid the temptation to stray” is pretty benign.

          And again, Sura 8 is a commandment given in a war that happened centuries ago. I might as well say Judaism is inherently violent because of what they did to the Amalekites under Joshua. Sigh.Report

          • Avatar Mike in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:


            Everything you say – starting with the “blah blah it only applied to one time” – is completely contradicted by the sum of Islamic jurisprudence.

            Then you deliberately insert your own wording into another? Sura 5:51,, “O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them.”

            If you cannot argue honestly, please don’t waste my time.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike says:

              Everything you say – starting with the “blah blah it only applied to one time” – is completely contradicted by the sum of Islamic jurisprudence.

              If you want to talk about the Koran and how it might possibly have liberal interpretations, then we will have to leave aside the interpretations of the fanatics.

              If you can’t do that, then you’re just poisoning the well.

              If you want to talk about Arabic translations, then I admit I’m not competent to rule on them. (Are you? A fluent speaker perhaps? A former Muslim, even?)

              I will say this, though: I inserted no words of my own. I copied and pasted some words from a Muslim website. If you think that their translation of the Arabic of Sura 5:51 is inaccurate, please take it up with them — rather than baselessly accusing me of dishonesty.Report

              • Avatar Mike in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                A Buddhist who has made quite a study of Islam, thank you very much. It behooves us to know as much as possible about those who want to cut our heads off.

                The fact is, the insertion of the word “certain” into the sura you quoted is not present in any recognized scholarly translation of the Koran, because it is not a valid way to translate the wording of that verse.

                Likewise, when you insist that “So is the commandment to slay, which applied only to them, and only because they had violated a treaty” – this is simply not true. The verse and sura have been used as a justification in fatwa after fatwa after fatwa relating to Muslim treatment of non-Muslims and the declaration of war/jihad countless times over the centuries.

                Muslims follow a very simple historical pattern. Stage 1 – when they are in the small minority in a locale, they insist that their religion is peaceful and wonderful and conveniently leave the bloodthirsty side of the religion out.

                Stage 2 – when they feel they have gained enough converts and political power, they begin demanding concessions made for their religion. Work stoppages for everyone at prayer time, “anti-blasphemy laws” to silence their critics, and so on.

                Stage 3 – when they feel they have enough power to take over, violent revolution followed by institution of barbaric shari’a law, the forcible conversion of non-Muslims and the enslavement as dhimmi of “people of the book” (Jews and Christians), with the expectation that they’ll basically cease to exist by attrition in a century or two anyways.Report

  15. Avatar NoPublic says:

    Shorter: If the bitch would just stop griping me I wouldn’t have to be beating on her, now would I?Report

  16. Avatar Max says:

    This article is a major embarrassment to this website. I can’t imagine which of the editors here thought that wading back into the Park 51 debate – on the obviously bigoted side – was a good idea, but you’re in danger of losing readers.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Max says:

      Oh, do let’s grow up, folks. Whining about being exposed to an opinion different than yours is the sort of thing that transforms productive and constructive disagreement into echo chambers. I like this blog precisely because it isn’t an echo chamber. Sanitization of opinion as a tool to build and retain viewers is the reason Fox News is the way it is and I don’t want to see that happen here.

      So, you think Tim is wrong? Bully for you. Explain why. Address his arguments on their merits. Calling him a bigot isn’t sufficient to engage the issue. Invective is not argument.Report

      • Avatar Shannon's Mouse in reply to Burt Likko says:

        …because what the intertoobz truly needs are even more words rehashing why right-wing opponents of Park51 are wrong.

        Life is short and there are many other more productive and interesting uses of one’s time to be pursued.Report

      • Avatar Max in reply to Burt Likko says:

        This is elementary, I’ll explain it to you slowly.

        This post traffics in outright bigotry. It is not an ‘opinion different from [mine]’ except insofar as it is the opinion of a bigot. It is neither worth my time to read, nor worth my time to respond – and makes me question, by extension, the value of reading this website as a whole.

        I am all for the free exchange of ideas and value the lively comments sections to posts here, including contributions made by resident bigots. But as editors, you are responsible for what is published on your front page, and you made a major error in this case.

        Spare me you moralizing over the ‘merits’ of this argument, there aren’t any.Report

        • Avatar Jay Daniel in reply to Max says:

          What do you mean by “explain it to you slowly”? Did you mean to say that you typed your comment slowly? If so, I’m not sure that doing so will help get your point across.

          I tried reading your comment slowly. It didn’t make any more sense than when I read it quickly. All I got from it was that you think you are smarter than the “editors.”Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Max says:

          The article accused us of censorship. This was clearly a lie and we could not permit them to print it.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Max says:

          Shorter Max:

          The post is bigoted because it is. Anyone who even attempts to defend it is also bigoted. And the post is also so not worth my time that I’m writing multiple comments about it.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Max says:

          I’m not the editor here. I will simply say that if I were, this piece would not have appeared.Report

          • As someone who is at least nominally an editor, I’ll just say that had this been submitted to me as a guest post, I would not have approved it. However, when it comes to those with front page privileges, there is no editorial process to speak of.

            And once a post is up, it should stay up as far as I’m concerned, at least absent a uniquely compelling reason.Report

            • Avatar Jay Daniel in reply to Mark Thompson says:

              There is an irony here. A lot of comments are calling for the “editors” of this blog to renounce Tim and make sure this never happens again. Several of the editors have now essentially done so — there have been several renunciations, and while there has not been an overt ban, I’d guess that Tim will not be writing a post like this at this blog again.

              Which is all fine. Maybe it’s even a good thing. I just think it’s interesting that you are so motivated to distance yourselves from the post when you didn’t do anything wrong, and lots of the outraged commenters seem to think you have a moral obligation to do so.

              Isn’t this what the right-wingers are demanding of moderate Muslims for their own communities?Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Jay Daniel says:

                Thirteen bloggers? Over a billion Muslims?

                Seems fair to treat ’em alike. Yep.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jay Daniel says:

                This post is Ordinary Gentlemen’s 9/11.Report

              • Avatar Max in reply to Jay Daniel says:

                Is there a reason that you’re putting editors in scare quotes? This blog very clearly has them – ED and Mark the most obvious as they were around for the founding, but anyone who posts regularly on the front page seems to fit the bill.

                I understand blogging is less formal than publishing a paper or magazine (and I did not know but am not altogether surprised to find out that there is no editorial process to speak of.) But surely you all can’t have thought that you bear no responsibility for what appears on this site?

                If so, I’m sorry to have been short with you, but it really should be eminently clear to any adult writer trying to ‘make it’ in the blogosphere that this is a black mark on all of this blog’s regular contributors, not just whichever specific person approved the post. That’s extremely basic journalism.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Max says:

                Wait, this post is a black mark on me?Report

              • Avatar Max in reply to Jaybird says:

                Not counting you as regular, since your blog appears in the separate community section bit. No offense.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Jaybird says:

                JB, these gentlemen are giving me a ‘paper’s pleeeeeze’ moment. It appears many of our commentors here have what it takes to serve Pharo Barry’s regime as jack-booted censors.
                And poor Tim, the innocent, starry-eyed Federalist, will be among the first ordered detained for further edumacation.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Max says:

                E.D. and Mark are the only editors, so titled.

                Tim has main-blog posting privileges. He may use them whenever he wants.

                I don’t have the privilege to revoke those privileges, whether generally or in a specific instance.

                Still, I can certainly criticize, which I’ve done.Report

              • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Max says:


                I can’t speak for Erik, but for me, blogging is purely a hobby, with the purpose of this site primarily as a fount for open, free, and honest debate and discussion that goes beyond talking points* and choir preaching.

                In order to create such a forum and for it to be meaningful, there are very few perspectives and positions that can be off-limits. Where the perspective at issue is one that is shared by at least a plurality of Americans, if not a majority, rather than just a handful of fringe characters who may safely be ignored, this is perhaps especially important, even if it veers into what we might view as outright bigotry.

                If we are correct, and it is in fact bigotry, then only engaging it will allow us to convince the author that it is in fact bigotry.

                *This is actually my bigger problem with Tim’s essay, and why I wouldn’t have approved it as a guest post; it reads too much to me like a set of talking points I’ve heard all too often.Report

              • Avatar Max in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                If that’s the standard you choose, so be it. The last time I checked, more than a quarter of Republicans continue to believe that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the US. I look forward to the League’s posts airing that open and honest debate on a subject about which a considerable minority of Americans disagree.

                Of course, I’m sure they would change their minds if they were confronted with evidence and an argument. Probably, right? If only guys like me would get off of our high horses and engage!

                I’m happy to extend the exact same benefit of the doubt to guys like Tim, who are oh-so-scrupulously just waiting for those stubborn American Muslims to prove that they aren’t secretly violent traitors.

                There are a lot of ways to characterize the conspiracy-mongering that is at the heart of the “debate” over American Muslims, but “honest” is not one of them.

                You all have clearly laid out your editorial policy, or lack thereof, and while I think it’s not a very good one that’s the most I can ask for. I’ll let braver souls carry on presenting Tim and ilk with evidence that they’ll be sure never to read, believe, or care about.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Max says:

                We had a debate about that just recently. Jason posted about why he disagrees with Bob on that topic.Report

              • Avatar mark boggs in reply to Max says:

                Did you miss the post on Birtherism?Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

            Yeah, it really sucks when people can say things you don’t like, right? I hate having to form intellectual responses to reprehensible viewpoints! I’d rather just go with the ungood bellyfeel.Report

        • Avatar mark boggs in reply to Max says:

          Gotta tell ya, I might agree with your opinion but the whole idea that the article taints the entire website smells entirely too much of the premise of the article itself: All muslims are responsible for a few muslims transgressions.Report

          • Avatar Max in reply to mark boggs says:

            And by the way, the number of people making this utterly banal point is flabbergasting. On what planet does smearing billions of people for their religious faith equate demanding that owners/managers of a blog take responsibility for the content that they publish on said blog?

            Too much clever, too little thought.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Max says:

              You’re the one arguing that this post is a black mark on *ME*, dude.

              Do you think that I ought to have used my powers to delete it? Perhaps edit it?Report

            • Avatar mark boggs in reply to Max says:

              You’re saying, and I quote, “But as editors, you are responsible for what is published on your front page, and you made a major error in this case.”

              Doesn’t this sound a bit like As Muslims, you are responsible for what is done in the name of your religion?

              Too much rationalizing on your part for why what you said is different.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to mark boggs says:

                A community of thirteen people — with the theoretical ability to formally expel members, even — might just be able to police itself.

                Standards might even be a bit higher than for a community of a billion and a half.

                The parallel doesn’t hold.Report

              • Avatar Max in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:


                Note your own elision: “done in your name.” Muslims are no more responsible for that kind of connection than Christians are for Tim McVeigh.

                The same does not hold for a collective blog. Tim did not publish his post “in the League’s name,” he published it on their front page. See the difference?Report

              • Avatar mark boggs in reply to Max says:

                Not really and it is sort of beside the point I was making. You’re slinging mud at the editors for something posted on their site. You might as well throw mud at them for the stuff I say or Bob Cheeks says or Jaybird says.

                Tim seems to be defending the slinging of mud at moderate Muslims for not being vociferous enough in their condemnation of radical Muslims. You seem to be pissed that the editors would allow this viewpoint to be expressed on their site. To me, besides the fact that it is a bit weak-kneed to be so horrified by the expressing of this opinion, this also seems to be a bit analogous to the idea that Muslims are somehow, by association, responsible for other Muslim behavior. YMMV.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to mark boggs says:

                If it helps, we’ve docked Tim’s pay.Report

              • Avatar mark boggs in reply to mark boggs says:

                And yours and all the other editors who allowed this viewpoint to see the light of day. And the commentors and the web people who host your site and all the people who surf the web or wear hats like the one on the masthead.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Max says:

      I say again, with a preamble to get me past the spam filter:

      Submit a guest post.Report

  17. Avatar Mike says:

    Secondary: Remember that the religion of Islam describes the world in two “domains.” Lands where Islam controls the region politically, totally, under barbaric Shari’a law, are known as “dar Al-Islam” (or “The Domain of Islam.”)

    Lands free of Shari’a, whether Muslims are allowed to practice openly or not, are deemed to be “dar Al-Harb” – quite literally “The Domain of War”.

    Also, they hold this entirely two-facedly. In “dar Al-Islam”, no public professing of any other faith is allowed. “Pagans” are not allowed to exist as such at all. “People of the book”, e.g. christians/jews, are “allowed” to exist only under the slavery-conditions that they:
    #1 – wear public identifying marks identifying them as non-Muslim (one guy named Adolf later met with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and subsequently came up with this great idea to put yellow stars on the Jews of Germany).
    #2 – pay an extra tax on top of any that Muslims have to pay.
    #3 – are never allowed to expand their places of worship or mark them publicly as houses of a non-Muslim faith.
    #4 – must submit to their children being “taught” to be Muslim in local school.
    #5 – recognize that their sons may not marry a Muslim woman (but their daughters can be married off to Muslim men).
    #6 – are not allowed to vote or hold any public office.
    #7 – only count for 1/2 of a Muslim in court. If it’s their word against a Muslim? Too bad, kafir *spit*, you lose, be grateful we don’t cut your head off for failure to convert already.

    By contrast, should a land that is NOT dominated by their barbaric law state that, due to the religious persecution Muslims inflict on non-Muslims, Islam shall not be publicly practiced or allowed to spread… well that’s “cause for war”, to arms to arms, all good Muslims go cut the heads off the unbelieving pagans till they convert already.

    Final: you linked to the Shittypedia article on Taqiyya, which is severely whitewashed (as is their article on Ketman). I suggest doing some more research.

    Here are some resources for you:

    Google Books Reference

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Mike says:

      Yeah, I remember the first time *I* read that Dan Simmons article. Good times. Of course, the only really quality thing I read from Simmons was the two “Hyperion” books; shame, he’s got good prose, but he’s got this weird obsession with Space Jews Versus Time-Traveling Robots.Report

  18. Avatar Aziz Ishak says:

    Isn’t it very convenient that when a blogger is being heavily criticized for a post he/she has written, suddenly real world obligations like work and family intrude and the blogger has to regretfully step out of the conversation to cater to them? It’s like a politician resigning to “spend more time with my family”. Far be it for me to ascribe any ulterior motive to this pronouncement, but the timing is always very interesting, no?Report

  19. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    I want to make it clear that we do not take a post-by-post editorial stance here. Posters write what they want without endorsement or oversight. I welcome opposing view, including Tim’s view expressed here. I disagree vehemently with it, which is why I wrote a response. But I think we should welcome the conversation even if we also refuse to say that all sides are equally valid. I don’t think they are. I think this post is dead wrong. But I welcome the opportunity to say so.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to E.D. Kain says:

      Perhaps I’m unusual (though I don’t think I am), but this post didn’t make lower my opinion of the blog, only my opinion of Tim, which didn’t have far to fall to begin with. One of the things I like about this blog is that, unlike other group blogs that talk about political issues, the authors of this one are not grouped around a central political ideology or team. That makes it easy to see it as an only loosely associated group of authors, which means any one post isn’t likely to affect the opinions of the collective of anyone who’s actually, you know, paying attention.Report

  20. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    All this hue and cry over Tim’s essay is so much bilious cant. I reject it totally. The man has spoken a great truth, well understood by every serious student of Islam in these times, and I count myself as one: that Islam has done a piss-poor job of explaining itself to the world at large.

    I have attempted to explain why Islam has not said anything more in condemnation of its outliers, using the word fitna to explain this reticence. I have attempted to explain the predicament faced by Muslims everywhere: who shall speak in its name?

    You lot standing in condemnation of Tim Kowal should be ashamed of yourselves but you are not. To your own lasting discredit, you do as every American government has done before, to grovel before bigotry and shoot your messengers. You are a disappointment, seen from afar.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP says:

      It’s weird to see “blasphemy” without religious context, isn’t it?

      But there it is. And we see the all-too-familiar religious response.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to BlaiseP says:

      “Who shall speak in its name?”

      I’m an individualist. I expect everyone to speak for themselves. If someone declares they’re a liberal Muslim, non-violent and amenable to the liberal-democratic consensus, then great.

      If they then perpetrate violence later on, I’ll condemn both the violence and the deceit. But I won’t condemn the deceit before it’s even happened.

      As a gay American, I’ve been on the other side of collective guilt myself: You’re all child molesters. You bring AIDS into the straight community. Your promiscuity means you don’t deserve marriage.

      The way out of bigotry is to consider each person as an individual, not to levy a subjective assessment of group shortcomings.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        As a gay American, I’ve been on the other side of collective guilt myself

        That is completely unfair, when you should be condemned as a heartless apologist for crony corporatist Republicans.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        Hundreds of Muslim scholars and clerics have risen up to condemn the violence done in the name of Islam. It has done no good at all. I have done my best to explain this much-ballyhooed reticence at further condemnation and it has mostly fallen on deaf ears.

        After careful inspection of your responses here, I cannot see why you would have refused this essay. You have done an excellent job of dispelling the usual shibboleths about at-Tawba, the ninth sura. What I do not understand, given your own experience with bigotry, is why you would deny the obvious, that Islam has not done enough to explain itself? E.D Kain observes, along with me, and seemingly you yourself, that it resolves to our own mindsets.

        Put it this way, if we tried to sort out the LGBT community according to Moderates and Extremists, with some wretched contingent of closeted persons leading up the vanguard for change, how would you feel? The struggle for civil rights abandoned all the pretense of George Washington Carver and his accommodation with the evils of the status quo. Islam must stand upright and reform itself from within: that process will commence with a clear statement of principles, such as Zuhdi Jasser has set forth and not one minute before.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Educate us, oh brilliant one, for we see not the error of our ways.

      Seriously, blame the victim for prejudice, throwing in a view blatantly prejudiced opinions along the way, and we should be embarrassed for treating the author harshly?

      I believe someone earlier in the thread wondered whether Jews should have been better explainers of their religion and culture, so that anti-Semitism wasn’t rampant throughout European history. You’re essentially suggesting the same thing, you and Tim. What’s more, it’s not like Muslims in this country haven’t frequently publicly condemned militant Islam. What else should they do? Go door to door like Mormons, handing out copies of the Qur’an?

      Prejudice isn’t rational. Might a good PR campaign counter it a bit? Perhaps, though there’s a pretty strong PR campaign trying to inflame those prejudices here, too, so who knows how well it would work. But prejudices in which people take a small, visible group to be representative of the whole are rarely, if ever the fault of the whole. And pointing this out, in addition to pointing out that there’s bigotry in the view itself, is hardly something to be ashamed of. But you know, that time you were in Pakistan, South America, Iran, the Soviet Union, and playing golf on the moon while running CIA ops in Beruit, and going into business with three Iraqi dissidents, all at the same time, has made you wiser than the rest of us, most certainly.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Chris says:

        The hundreds of thousands of Islamic victims of Islamic prejudice would beg to differ with you. Your sneering betrays the emptiness of your debate. Judaism did have its exponents and spokesmen in the world at large, the B’nai Brith. They didn’t stand still and tolerate the bigotry. No successful advance in the rights of man got anywhere by simpering and grinning while its enemies slapped it around.

        Confronted with opposition, your immediate decline into ad-hom says you’re incapable of defending yourself. The US government found interesting uses for my talents, yes it did. The difference between you and me could not be clearer. Now man the fuck up and defend your position.Report

  21. Avatar Chris says:

    Strange, I’ve argued my position several times, even in that comment., yet your response is patriarchal chest thumping.

    Eh, I forgot that I just ignored General Ivolgin for a reason.Report

  22. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    Chris and Bp, thanks guys, that was great and made my day!Report

  23. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Okay, fish it- go ahead and flame me but I don’t get how this post is straightfowardly bigoted. I’ve read it a few times and the argument I’m getting out of it is, “Moderate Muslims have been too reluctant to distinguish themselves doctrinally from their more fanatical counterparts.” Thus, they need better PR.

    Now, you can say this argument is unfair. You can say it’s an unfair burden to place on moderate Muslims. You can say it’s wrong. And I do think that people who say moderate Muslims are too reluctant to speak out against fanaticism sure tend to not hear about it whenever moderate Muslims speak out against fanaticism! But, none of this leads me to think that the argument itself is bigoted. In fact, the only way I can get to the conclusion that this post is bigoted is to read into it- he says this, but he really means that.

    If we can agree (a big if) that Tim’s argument is something like, “Moderate Muslims have been too reluctant to distinguish themselves doctrinally from their more fanatical counterparts”, can someone explain why that is simple, clear-cut bigotry?Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Rufus F. says:

      Rufus, I might have said it’s a strange case of blaming the victim, given that moderate Muslims have tried pretty hard to distance themselves from their more militant brethren, but that it’s not necessarily bigoted, if he hadn’t included the nonsense about the Islamic Center that’s not in the shadow, or even in view, of Ground Zero, thrown in (in the comments) the bit about having a Muslim friend, etc.

      But really, “they’re just not doing enough to counter the prejudice with PR” is basically the same rationalization people have been using for prejudice since, well, forever.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Rufus F. says:

      Rufus, or more directly, “We fear and hate them for the actions of a few because all they’ve done is sit around being peaceful, go on TV and condemning extremism, and just living their lives, instead of trying to comfort our prejudiced asses” is, if not bigoted, profoundly naive.

      Sure, they tried to open a cultural center in a building kinda near to a place where people in an entirely separate religious sect, espousing ideas that we they don’t agree with, but sharing the same label, did something really bad, but calling that insensitive is to suggest that those who are the object of prejudice should work hard not to hurt the prejudice-based feelings of the bigots who despise them.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Chris says:

        Sure, I agree with it being naive, but that’s not the same as bigoted. What I take Tim to be saying is, “The bigots think some horrible things about Muslims, which Muslims could easily clear up by doing more PR”. Now, sure, that sounds pretty optimistic to me. But the bigoted argument would be something more like, “The bigots think some horrible things about Muslims, which Muslims know are true”. See what I mean?Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Rufus F. says:

          “What I take Tim to be saying is, “The bigots think some horrible things about Muslims…”

          The problem is the trigger-word/instinct-response behavior that too damn many people call “thinking”. Tim suggested that Muslims might be doing something not-quite-fully-good. He is criticising Muslims. Therefore he’s a racist, because Muslims are (typicall) not white, and the only reason you’d criticise a nonwhite person is racism.

          The substance of Tim’s argument is irrelevant. He criticised nonwhites. The. End.Report

          • Avatar Chris in reply to DensityDuck says:

            No, DD, that’s not what happened. I’ve agreed with Rufus that it’s not necessarily bigotry that produced Tim’s post, but Tim’s post suggests blames the victims for the bigotry against them, which is a classic tactic of bigots. It looks even more like bigotry when he talks about the Park 51 Islamic center. Again, I’m willing now to give him the benefit of the doubt, but if you use classic bigoted tactics, and take the position of bigots (on the Park 51 center), you can’t be surprised, or even offended, when you get accused of being a bigot. If it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck, people’s fist reaction is going to be, it’s a duck! Even if when you look close it’s actually a goose.Report

  24. Avatar James Vonder Haar says:

    This debate looks a whole lot like discussions on whether to advise women to wear less skimpy clothing on the grounds that failing to do so might make them a target for rapists. It’s far too common for rapists to be excused for every reason under the sun, for their crimes to be erased by the dubious complicity those who are not the perfect victim are imputed to have. Even so, there are certain actions that one would be wise to take in order to reduce the chances of being victimized. The failure to take these actions does not in any way impute blame to the victim, nor excuse the criminal.

    It seems to me that these examples indicate a distinction between what is prudent and what is obligated in order to avoid bad results. Bigotry is wrong. Hatred is wrong. It is wrong no matter what kind of PR the hated minority has, no matter how slow they have been to distance themselves from those of their group who have done bad things (which, as noted upthread, hardly describes the American Muslim community). Muslims have no more obligation to distance themselves from Al Qaeda than I have an obligation to do the same. A failure to do so does not mean that non-Muslims are justified in their bigotry. If we were living up to our ideals, if we truly were as committed to tolerance as we claim we are, the bigotry wouldn’t occur.

    We unfortunately don’t live in a world where Americans’ commitment to tolerance can be carried through entirely, nor do we live in a world where no rapists exists. The unfortunate upshot is that we may be wise to take actions that are prudent that wouldn’t be necessary in a better world. I welcome a discussion on how American Muslims can do a better job of winning tolerance and political battles, even if tolerance oughtn’t be something they have to fight for. (though, as posts upthread argue pretty persuasively, it’s not clear that anything will really help. If American Muslims’ condemnation of terrorism keeps getting glossed over, it’s likely any other effort will do so as well. Haters gonna hate, as the saying goes.) But they have to frame it as prudence and not obligation.

    The above post attempts to paint itself as advising mere prudence, but in fact it places a positive obligation on Muslim Americans to deflect suspicion. If, as the author suggests, Muslims have failed at this obligation, then it makes the bigoted sentiments in contemporary America justified. In the sense that it imputes collective guilt to the actions of isolated individuals, this stance is bigoted.Report

  25. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Hey, BSK! Down here!

    You seemed to mock “relativism” earlier.

    Here is my main question: Exactly what should we not tolerate? Why?

    And, of course, what is your basis for being able to make that judgment?Report

  26. Avatar Hassan says:

    Tim is not a bigot; he may have said things in the first post that bigots would also say, but he has stated his intent and has clearly “differentiated” himself from the real bigots, and he has even acknowledged the existence of the bigots. That being said, I do disagree with many of his points while I agree with the basic message (or at least part of it).

    Yes! Muslims need better PR. That’s very true and no one can debate that. After all, the statistics speak for themselves, as Tim referenced the Pew Research study that nearly 40% of Americans have an unfavorable view of Islam! Talk about an uphill battle!

    Now imagine if any of you were in my shoes as an American Muslim, trying to make a living and raise a family and be a good citizen and positive member of society (just like any other American). Imagine if you had all your normal life routines, but then you and your fellow members of a faith, just because you believe in God in a certain way, have this huge burden upon you, to defend yourselves and differentiate yourselves from lunatics who claim to believe in God also in the same way as you do. And if you fail to differentiate yourself in a way that’s “good enough”, your freedoms are on the line, and you are treated as less of an American.

    The burden is on us every time something happens, to come up with explanations or differentiations, which we work hard to do, but of course, these are never good enough. Sometimes I wonder, why isn’t it “good enough” for us to stay on the positive side and explain WHO WE ARE and WHAT WE STAND FOR, rather than always being put on the defensive to explain the crimes of terrorists? I have more in common with any one of my numerous Christian or Jewish fellow Americans that I live near or work with every day, than I do with a so-called Muslim who calls for violence.

    But in the end, the onus IS on the American Muslims, to speak out and perhaps (if nothing else) at least say and prove to others what I have just stated above: that we don’t need to answer for the crimes or motivations of terrorists. I disagree with Tim that the mainstream Muslim organizations like CAIR and ISNA give only dodgy answers; this is untrue ( They speak and have spoken very clearly against terrorism in the most harshest of terms, issued Fatwas against terrorism, and even against radicalization and all the other ugly things. But what I do agree with, is that they are not effective “enough” obviously because the proof lies in the statistics and the numbers don’t lie. So the effort is there but the result is lacking.

    So maybe the Muslims need to hire a good PR firm. Maybe some good music videos or hollywood films could do the trick. Maybe a tv sitcom.

    But then again, just because the onus is on the Muslims to clean up their image, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing wrong with the way the instutions in this country treat this issue, especially the ultra right-wing. To my right wing Americans, I say: You blame Muslims for not speaking out enough but you will keep holding your panel discussions on topics dealing with Islam and Muslims, but (go figure) without any Muslim voice present. When Muslims speak out and engage as patriotic Americans, such as Suhail Khan the outspoken Muslim republican activist in Washington, they are increasingly marginalized and maligned. You accuse Muslims of being a broken record and constantly speaking of Israel, but then you keep perpetuating the same on your side by hiring pro-Israeli pundits as self-professed experts on Islam and the “threat” of Islam, or referencing them or giving them a stage in nearly every right wing blog and think tank on the internet. Why don’t you engage directly with Muslims, and by that I mean mainstream Muslims who hold their faith dearly but also hold American values at heart and know this place as their only home. Muslims like the 40,000+ who attend every year at the ISNA Convention in Chicago. This is from 2004 when Hamza Yusuf Hanson spoke there (please spend 20 minutes and watch both parts 1 and 2, it’s important for you to realize how Muslim leaders in America address their faithful. These kinds of events and speeches represent the mainstream of American Muslims, and these messages have been broadcast internationally especially to the Middle East where there are also increasing movements to speak out against and eradicate terrorism):

    Regarding Zuhdi Jasser, first of all you are mistaken that he has no criticisms coming from the right wing:
    Even Debbie explains that he is funded by the Clarion Foundation, and he serves on their advisory board along with Daniel Pipes.

    Zuhdi Jasser does say many good things that resonate and agree well with the peaceful voice of moderate mainstream Muslims– but the funny thing is, the other mainstream Muslim leaders are saying the exact same thing. The problem is this: who is listening? Obviously, the right wing hears Jasser because he sits on the board of Raphael Shore, but doesn’t hear what the Muslim leaders are saying because they refuse to listen.

    Muslims are not monolithic! Some of us are liberal, some of us are conservative, we have different views on health care and the economy, just like you. We also have different views on foreign policy and on the Park51 issue. Some Muslims agree with most Americans that it is insensitive to put a mosque there only a few blocks away from Ground Zero. Other Muslims say hey, you tell us we don’t have good PR, so what better PR than putting a multi-cultural center open to the public and to promote better understanding of Islam, in the one place where it matters most!

    Is it un-American now for Muslims to disagree on this issue? Does our stance on this issue define our patriotism or our stance on terrorism? I personally am against Park51, but I can understand the other view. That’s what America is all about, isn’t it? There are also Muslims with various differing views on Israel and Palestine and what should be done to resolve that crisis.

    And this is precisely the problem with the right wing, Zuhdi Jasser, and others who believe that in order to be “moderate” and anti-terrorism, the only good Muslim is the one who is pro-Israeli, pro-Iraq War, anti-Park51.

    Is it not good enough that Muslims can be anti-terrorism, peace loving, law-abiding, citizens but with varying views on politics?

    Reform isn’t what’s in order because it is not a doctrinal issue– the terrorists don’t espouse a different doctrine: they simply rationalize the same doctrine to carry out political motives. The Branch Davidians did mainstream Christians a favor by differentiating themselves with a different doctrine. The terrorists, al-Qaeda and others, have no doctrine that they teach (in fact, most of them are secular and don’t even know the religious texts or have any scholars supporting their actions). They are not religious people, and even when they speak they speak of political motives. But they use religion as a scapegoat to give themselves legitimacy among the mainstream (similar to how KKK members would call themselves the “true” Americans, should Americans have changed their names to combat this?). To that end, they are not successful because most Muslims denounce them…but apparently they are successful in scaring everyone else.Report