Discussing Islam Isn’t Gross and Racist

I really enjoy the Rubin Report, but this video hits the nail on the head in my opinion. I’m tired of people equating criticizing a set of ideas with criticizing a race. Criticizing a set of ideas like Islam should be treated the same way as criticizing any other set of ideas, including Christianity.

So please give it a watch and let me know in the comment section whether you think criticizing Islam is ‘gross and racist’ like Ben Aflek  said to Sam Harris during a Bill Maher segment or whether you think it’s fine.

Advertisements

99 Comments

  1. The primary issue I have with Islam is this:

    Although there are millions of Muslims who would never hurt a fly – as there are Christians with a similar outlook – the Jihaad doctrine is in the Koran and Muslims consider their holy book sacrosanct.

    And while most Muslims will condemn terrorism, they will not condemn the book from where it (interpretation of ) derives.

    Let’s remember that, when Christianity ruled the ”civilised world” we had all sorts of heinous acts perpetrated in the name of religion.

    ”God wills it!” was the cry.

      • The most obvious example is in the West we’re not subjected to Islamic impositions. The anti-gay movement, anti-birth control movement, anti-women’s rights movement- and so forth, are all Christian creations.
        When governments were trying to pass gay marriage laws all over the world, it was Christian churches who had the power (and put down the money) to try to stop it.
        Criticism of Islam a la Sam Harris or Jerry Coyne are nothing but racism in disguise- designed to create controversy (and draw attention to themselves.)

      • Well for starters, I would say identitarian movement is happy to work complaints about Islam into its “white genocide” narrative. They will move freely back and forth between comments about Muslims in general, Muslim terrorists, and the actual religion of Islam, all in the service of an argument that certain nations should be reserved for white people. Rubin’s attempt at a hard and fast distinction between Islam, which he treats as a set of ideas and Muslims themselves ignores the realities of actual racist rhetoric. Racists have always been happy to comment on traits associated with those they hate, leaving the explicit basis for the targeting out. That’s not unusual and it’s damned disingenuous for people like Rubin to ignore it.

        The politics of committed white nationalists aside, there are a number of things that strain efforts to field a reasonable critique of Islam.

        1) Most atheism in the western world simply has a much stronger connection to Christianity. We share many common reference points with Christians, which makes it much easier to frame a debate with them and proceed with the likelihood of meaningful dialogue. Lacking this with Muslims, the conversation is far more likely to be sidelined by subtle differences in interpretive styles, etc. It isn’t clear, for example, that Muslims treat their own Holy texts as (Protestant) Christians do.

        2) The politics of the moment strain the debate considerably. Simply put, a guy criticizing Islam here in America is unlikely to change the legal regimes of the Saudis, the Iranians, or another other of the Muslim regimes Rubin is warning us about. Those criticisms may, however, contribute to support for untold numbers of military actions in the middle east (speaking of ;new normal’ that some are expected to simply accept). Such comments are also far more likely to add to the stigmatization of Muslims at home than to produce legal changes abroad. You can vary this by tone, qualifications, etc. and some voices have more serious impact. Supporting a campaign by Amnesty International, for instance, has a great deal more likelihood of getting a positive response than supporting some guy bashing Muslims on a blog post.

        3) One thing that particularly bothers me about Rubin’s approach, and that of many others in his camp, is that he uses a general critique of Islam as an explanation for the contemporary waves of terrorism, but of course Islam is much older than that trend. So, his explanation is extra-topical. It suits a polemic purpose having nothing to do with actual terrorism, and it leaves unexamined any real questions about the role of terrorism in the modern global economy. He’s fostering the illusion that a critique of Islam will help us do something about terror, but that’s just damned convenient. No need to think about political alliances, balance of power, etc. Just another debate over what we should believe, same as when you talk to your local street preacher.

        Are there reasonable criticisms one can direct against Islam, or against the behavior of Muslims? I reckon so, but the general topic is presently a poisoned well, and I suspect most criticisms just add more poison to it.

        • I’d never heard of the identitarian movement before. I looked it up and thanks for bringing that up. I wouldn’t agree with them either.

          “Most atheism in the western world simply has a much stronger connection to Christianity. ”

          I agree with this point. I think we in the West understand Christianity better and so it’s easier and more substantive to criticize something we understand.

          However, there are those who do understand it that criticize Islam, such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali. We are also capable of reading and learning about any ideology we choose.

          “The politics of the moment strain the debate considerably. Simply put, a guy criticizing Islam here in America is unlikely to change the legal regimes of the Saudis, the Iranians, or another other of the Muslim regimes Rubin is warning us about.”

          Here I disagree with you. I think this is a form of apathy and we live in a global community. I think people talking (especially on the Internet) can cause great change. In fact, the exchange of ideas is a non-violent way to bring about change.

          And there are also groups within the Muslim world who are working towards modernizing and introducing liberal ideas into the discourse. It’s not just the West.

          ” One thing that particularly bothers me about Rubin’s approach, and that of many others in his camp, is that he uses a general critique of Islam as an explanation for the contemporary waves of terrorism, but of course Islam is much older than that trend. So, his explanation is extra-topical. It suits a polemic purpose having nothing to do with actual terrorism, and it leaves unexamined any real questions about the role of terrorism in the modern global economy.”

          So it’s not nuanced enough for you?

          I can’t say I agree with you here either. I think Rubin acknowledges that other factors play a role as well, but he also believes that Islam also plays a role and is left out of the discourse for bad reasons. We freely talk about how Western policies have made things worse. We don’t freely talk about the bad ideas in Islam. When people do try and talk about those ideas, they’re railroaded as being racists.

          That’s my take anyhow. Thanks for adding your thoughts. 🙂

  2. Disagreements in “religion” have been the main cause for most altercations. It seems to me that power and money cause less disharmony. Faith, according to most religious tenets, should provide a basic premise of loving yourself and others. But history has shown its destruction of these beliefs. A self righteous group of ideas should never rule a nation. These are only my humble opinions and I don’t mean to offend anyone.

  3. What I think is this fellow suffers selective amnesia.
    Not so long ago, Catholics killed Protestants and protestants catholics and all of them everyone else.
    Islam is just doing what the others before did or in some places continue to do. It is not so long ago that Catholic Ireland[?] was at war with itself for god knows what.

  4. They’re competent, educated, professional men- who are using a little trick which is (in my opinion) in very bad taste and utterly ill advised. But it creates headlines and probably helps sell books; I’m just trying to minimize the collateral damage.
    You must now also, that I do not like tap-dancing and prefer direct answers to questions.
    🙂
    So, as you state you don’t think they are racist, are you saying their approach – ”… they carefully phrase certain statements in a racist way” is done on purpose, thus by implication, as they are educated professionals, you are saying they don’t actually believe their remarks?

    From Coyne’s post:

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2016/06/20/attorney-general-says-that-transcripts-of-orlando-shooters-phone-calls-will-have-references-to-terrorism-and-allegiance-to-isis-expunged/

    ….is what the Regressive Left is saying: it was either homophobia or mental illness that prompted the murder spree. The mental illness excuse I can’t judge, for it’s often used tautologically: someone who does such a deed must have been mentally ill. Homophobia may be relevant in light of the report that Mateen frequented gay clubs in the months before his act. But homophobia (or mental illness) and a faith that demonizes gays—those are toxic combinations.

    What’s wrong with this? Specifically.

  5. There’s a lot of stuff in the video I don’t like, because it ignores the fact that anti-Muslim violence is on the rise, and it pretends Islamophobia is not real. While I understand that just labeling any criticism as Islamophobia is not okay, the concern that someone in the crowd might go home and get their gun is a valid one.

    In effect, what this means is that hyperbole and careless statements criticizing Islam need to be watched carefully. Also, it means people who just scream “Islamophobe” stop doing so, as it causes backlash like Ruben’s video above. From both ends, this kind of rhetoric is giving people who want an excuse to commit violence against people a gray area to hide in.

    There is a similar concept regarding Christianity, at least where I live: church burnings. Every once in a while there will be a rash of church burnings that happens across an area. You’ll often see people who criticize Christianity remind everyone that arson is not a valid way to protest religious practices. I think that needs to apply in public criticisms of Islam as well, at least until people stop being violent towards Muslims.

  6. You said exactly 5 comments up ftom this one that Islamophobia shoukd be acknowledged. I’m saying it’s a term that intentionally tries to blur the line between a set if ideas (religion) and race. This is why I believe you’re having a hard time saying what you mean, because the word is imprecise and dusengenuous. I’m not saying you’re meaning to be dusengenuous, only that I think your mistaken for defending such a word and I hope you critically look at its meaning and why it exists in the first place.

    By the way, if you want feel free to use this in a post to clarify your position. I’d love to read it and will likely respond. 😊

    • Essentially, if you’re going to ignore my points in shorter comments, a post won’t do anyone any good. What I’m actually saying is that the use of the word Islamophobia as you and Rubin are doing is incorrect; it’s a straw man of what the word actually means. You can read the Oxford English Dictionary definition or even the Wikipedia article to find a word that means something completely different. In short, as Islamophobia is properly used, it describes Trump’s proposed policies against Muslims, or hatred against Muslims or Islam borne out of prejudice, hatred, or fear.

      To put it differently, we’re talking about two different things here. I’m referring to a term that is properly defined, articulated, and has real-world examples of what it refers to. You’re talking about a term that’s used incorrectly by people who just want to quiet criticism, or by people who are being intellectually lazy. While people have used the term as you’ve described, it doesn’t make their use valid. Similarly, because some people use the term invalidly, it doesn’t negate the term as it actually exists.

      If I’m mistaken, then so are the writers of major dictionaries, encyclopedias of knowledge, and the sources and references they use. That’s what I’m basing my knowledge on. I’m not basing it off of one guy misusing a term on a talk show, or a few jerks misusing the term online, or people pretending that the word doesn’t exist.

      • Fair enough. If thats how you use it then I suppose that’s cool. But even used correctly, I still find it to be a useless word that isn’t used for any other religion or it’s followers and the English language already has lots of words better suited to describe the same thing.

        Even the part where it says ‘dislike’ espevially of the political brand can be used to silence dissent.

        Yeah, I dislike sharia law, just like I dislike every other form of authoritarian theocratic law, so according to Oxford I’m an Islamaphobe.

        We also know that the term Islamophobe isn’t used as the dictionary version and is most often used to silence people criticising an ideology. But even the dictionary version is nonsense. If someone criticises a political or religious ideology they aren’t phobic. If they’re criticising those things because they’re bigoted racists then just call them that.

        • I get that the definitions are broad, but if you take a look at the majority of use, it points to ideas of hatred, prejudice, and dislike that are irrational in nature. It’s only been recently (some people have pointed to post-9/11) that there’s been a massive proliferation in use, and subsequently a move by people to broaden its scope.

          This debate is going to happen whether any of us likes it or not. If it wasn’t the word “Islamophobia,” then it was going to be a new term that people are still going to try to apply. At least with Islamophobia, you have an established body of use that you can point to and tell people they’re using it wrong. I mean, for them to be right, criticizing the honor killing of women for being raped would be equivalent to saying we need to stop the Muslims from spreading their devil worship to North America (that latter sentiment is something I’ve actually heard).

          Of course they’re not equivalent. And because they’re not equivalent, the dictionary term doesn’t apply to actual criticism of the idea of Islam.

      • “Essentially, if you’re going to ignore my points in shorter comments, a post won’t do anyone any good.”

        By the way, I didn’t ignore anything you said. I read every word. I just disagree with you and think the term Islamophobia is nonsense. In fact, your Oxford definition makes me think so even more, since it seeks to silence people who disagree with Islam on a political level.

        Like I said in response to you above, not agreeing with any ideology doesn’t deserve to be labeled a phobia. Islamophobia is a nonsensical made up word and it intentionally tries to confuse race with religion.

        • Well, you kind have, because really my only disagreement here is that there’s a valid use for Islamophobia out there that’s been around since perhaps the 1920’s. I agree that people are using it wrong, and I agree that it isn’t a term that should silence criticism of Islam. I agree that people should criticize Islam. When you keep bringing up those points, I can’t help but feel that something isn’t getting across.

          If I could describe the disagreement a different way, I’d say that we got a similar enough answer to work with, but we have very different routes that we took to get there. To me, if someone called me an Islamophobe (it happened once when I drew Mohammed as a stinking turd), I’d calmly explain why they’re wrong. Fundamentally, rationally criticizing Islam is not borne out of prejudicial hatred, and that’s something people need to be reminded of.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s