Why Islamophobia Is Inaccurate

I really enjoyed this. I recently had a back and forth with another blogger about why I thought Islamophobia wasn’t a helpful term because it’s not only inaccurate but damaging to conversations about Islam.

The word doesn’t make sense, and neither does the definition. This video makes the exact same point I tried to make during that conversation.

So I hope you’ll give it a watch and leave your comments below. Cheers!

 

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Is Ayaan Hirsi Ali an Anti-Muslim Extremist?

This is part two and you can find my first post on this subject by following the link. In the first post, I explain my stance on whether or not Maajid Nawaz belonged on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of 15 anti-Muslim extremists.

In this post we will discuss Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s inclusion on that list and whether I think it’s justified or not.

Here’s a little bit about her:

ali

I do think Ali is harder to defend than Nawaz. I think an article in Raw Story sums it up well with this:

One Iran-based atheist who blogs under an assumed name, Kaveh Mousavi, for safety reasons, expressed how many former Muslims and reformers see Ali and Nawaz:

If only Ali was on this list, one could somehow squint and say they missed the point because of ignorance and lack of nuance. While I firmly believe she is a very important voice that shouldn’t be ignored, and while I think reading her quotes in context would show that when she used to say things like “there are no moderate Muslims” would show that ultimately her positions do not mean to paint all Muslims as bad (she has gotten much better at communicating nuance recently), I could be charitable and consider this an example of poor research.

Personally, I do not believe she belongs on this list and I will go step-by-step through the SPLC report and explain why. Let’s get started.

In her 2007 interview with The London Evening Standard, Hirsi Ali “advo­cated the closing of Islamic schools in the West and said that ‘violence is inherent in Islam,’” according to a later account in The New York Times.

While at first glance this may seem controversial, it’s not uncommon to see secularists advocate for the closure of faith based schools, especially those funded by tax dollars.

Here’s a few examples.

You can also make a persuasive case that she’s right. For example, take this news story.

 

sharia

To argue that violence isn’t explicitly laid out in Islam is as absurd as saying Christianity has no violent verses. All you have to do is look at Sharia Law to see those violent verses put into action.

Saying that violence is inherent in Islam is not to say all Muslims are violent. The Left needs to stop conflating the criticism of a belief system with that of the individuals that practice that religion.

The report goes on:

In her 2007 Reason interview, she said, “There comes a moment when you crush your enemy” militarily, and added, “There is no moderate Islam. … [T]here’s really only one Islam, defined as submission to the will of God. There’s nothing moderate about it.” She also told the journal that she had sought to “get rid of” all Islamic schools in the Netherlands while living there.

We’ve already covered the school bit.

I read this interview and I have to say I disagree with about 60% of what she says in it. I think the interviewer did a great job asking follow up questions.

The interviewer later wrote a piece for the Friendly Atheist about that interview, and here is what he said:

There was certainly an illiberal aspect to it all. But again, context is everything. If you’ve read Infidel, you know that, in her native Somalia, Hirsi Ali was the victim of forced genital mutilation when she was five and was later almost married off to a distant cousin she despised. Those experiences equipped her with a rare determination to combat the deeply misogynistic “death cult” (her term) that is Islam, something she has done in an admirable way with the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Foundation, an organization that helps free women and girls from cultural and religious oppression. (If that isn’t Social Justice, I don’t know what is.)

He also says:

One more thing: What do you think would have happened if Ayaan Hirsi Ali had been a harsh and implacable critic of Christianity, rather than Islam? My guess is that hardly anyone at Brandeis would’ve batted an eyelash. I’m not exactly a fan of Christianity myself, but if you’re going to shrug over unkind invective against one religion, why draw the line at another? If anything, Islam, overwhelmingly stuck in the dark Middle Ages with a mentality hostile to the Enlightenment, deserves a much more vigorous response from secular humanists and atheists than Christianity does. And that’s precisely where Hirsi Ali has directed her barbs.

I think that accurately describes the double standard at work here and elsewhere in the media. Christianity is safe to criticize because it’s politically correct, but it isn’t if it’s Islam.

The report says:

In a July 11, 2009, essay for the online World Post, Hirsi Ali criticized President Obama for denouncing “Islamic extremism without once asso­ciating Islam with extremism.” She threw cold water on the idea of the U.S cooperating with Muslims in order to battle jihadist extremism.

There are a number of writers and critics who have criticized Obama for the exact same thing.

In fact, Hilary Clinton has said she will use the term ‘radical Islam’. I don’t see anyone slapping her name on an anti-Muslim extremist list.

Hillary Clinton was asked about the terminology on CNN’s “New Day” Monday and made clear she would use the words “radical Islam,” but she added an important qualifier.

“From my perspective, it matters what we do more than what we say,” she said. “And it mattered we got bin Laden, not what name we called him. I have clearly said we — whether you call it radical jihadism or radical Islamism, I’m happy to say either. I think they mean the same thing.”

Disagreeing with Obama’s decision not to use the phrase hardly makes one an extremist. You can make the case either way, and if anything, she is helping to facilitate that conversation – something we desperately need to do in the West. We need to take an honest look at what religions teach and have that conversation, and that includes Islam.

In an Aug. 18, 2010, Wall Street Journal op-ed, “How to Win the Clash of Civilizations,” Hirsi Ali said that Islam “is at war with America” and wrote that Western civilization “needs to be actively defended” against Islam.

I read the op-ed and she isn’t specifically talking about Islam. She’s talking about civilizations and cultures that clash with the West. Here’s an example from the piece:

The balance of power among these civilizations, he argued, is shifting. The West is declining in relative power, Islam is exploding demographically, and Asian civilizations—especially China—are economically ascendant. Huntington also said that a civilization-based world order is emerging in which states that share cultural affinities will cooperate with each other and group themselves around the leading states of their civilization.

The West’s universalist pretensions are increasingly bringing it into conflict with the other civilizations, most seriously with Islam and China. Thus the survival of the West depends on Americans, Europeans and other Westerners reaffirming their shared civilization as unique—and uniting to defend it against challenges from non-Western civilizations.

Again, this is an opinion and not extremist at all. It’s a conversation starter. If you actually read the op-ed, you’ll quickly see its inclusion as ‘proof’ of Ali’s extremism is patently absurd.

From the field guide:

Appearing on the March 23, 2015, edition of “The Daily Show,” she said, “If you look at 70% of the violence in the world today, Muslims are responsible.” Experts said the claim appeared to be bogus, and she later amended it to say 70% of fatalities “were in wars involving Muslims,” including civil wars.

She likely got her stats from IISS. Here’s what was in their report:

The largest increase was in the Middle East, where the internal conflicts that resulted from the societal upheavals associated with the Arab Spring intensified. The Syrian civil war took some 80,000 lives, compared with some 49,000 in 2013. The rise to prominence of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) was a significant reason for the increased death toll in Iraq, which more than doubled from around 8,000 to nearly 20,000. Following the failure of the post-revolutionary Libyan state, fatalities there climbed sharply as regional and Islamist militias vied for power.

And:

African conflicts also contributed to the rise in fatality figures. In 2014, violence in South Sudan, Nigeria and the Central African Republic (CAR) reached new heights. Between 7,000 and 10,000 lives were lost because of the brutal Islamist insurgency in Nigeria. In the CAR more than 5,000 people were killed in sectarian violence between the predominantly Muslim Séléka rebels and the Christian and animist anti-Balaka militia.

Her amended statement would seem to be close to the mark. And if the stat is wrong, that hardly means she’s saying all Muslims should be hated. People screw up stats all the time. Nothing in that quote says ‘do violence and hate Muslims’.

The link provided by the SPLC isn’t the entire interview either. You’d think if you’re going to use something to smear someone as a hater, you’d at least provide a link to the entire interview.

Regardless, you can find a robust argument in defense of Ali by following this link.

I also think she has become more moderate as time goes by. You can listen to a podcast here where she talks about Islam with Sam Harris. You can make up your own mind whether she belongs on a list of extremists or not.

In conclusion, I’d like to state for the record that while I don’t agree with everything Ali says, I do not think she belongs on a list of extremists. I think it’s irresponsible of the SPLC to put her on that list, and I think they likely did so because they’re attempting to be politically correct. I think Ali’s voice is an important one, especially since she has first-hand experience with Islam.

That doesn’t mean that people can’t disagree with her stances and if they do, I very much think they should speak up. We need to have a platform where someone like Ali can voice her opinions and others who think she’s incorrect can say, ‘No, here are the facts and this is why I think you’re wrong’. Branding her as an extremist does not facilitate this sort of conversation and only damages it.

I also find her treatment to be a gross double standard. People like Hitchens and Dawkins have made far more controversial statements about Christianity and they will likely never appear on a list of anti-Christian extremists.

I agree with the Friendly Atheist when he says: “The SPLC is making the mistake of equating fair criticism of Islam with unfair bigotry against Muslims. No one has to agree with what Hirsi Ali and Nawaz say about Islam, but it’s absurd to claim that they hate Muslims to the point of being extremists.”

I’d like to leave you with this video from The Thinking Atheist that sums up my thoughts on this whole thing rather well.

 

 

 

 

Chess Star Refuses To Wear Hijab

Here’s an interesting story about an American chess champion who refuses to wear the hijab and is boycotting the upcoming championship tournament being held in Iran.

Here’s what she had to say about it:

“Some consider a hijab part of culture,” Paikidze said in an Instagram post announcing her decision. “But, I know that a lot of Iranian women are bravely protesting this forced law daily and risking a lot by doing so. That’s why I will NOT wear a hijab and support women’s oppression.”

She goes on to say:

“These issues reach far beyond the chess world,” the petition says. “While there has been social progress in Iran, women’s rights remain severely restricted. This is more than one event; it is a fight for women’s rights.”

I honestly can’t applaud her enough. I really think ‘we’ in the West are failing women and minorities in theocratic Middle Eastern countries. We often make excuses for not criticizing the abhorrent treatment of women and minorities because it’s supposedly ‘cultural in nature’ and we pretend that world opinion means nothing.

Personally I say fuck that. We are essentially ignoring human rights abuses in the name of political correctness and I think we need to start having an honest conversation about what is going on around the world.

However, to give you the full context, some people disagree with Nazi’s decision. They said:

“This is going to be the biggest sporting event women in Iran have ever seen; we haven’t been able to host any world championship in other sporting fields for women in the past,” Hejazipour, 23, told the Guardian. “It’s not right to call for a boycott. These games are important for women in Iran; it’s an opportunity for us to show our strength.”

Honestly, that’s a good point as well. I can see that point of view and it makes me wish there was some sort of middle ground between wearing the hijab and boycotting – some way that Nazi could take part but not endorse the idea that women must wear a hijab.

The World Chess Federation said:

“It is not a [federation] regulation or requirement to wear a hijab during the event.” The statement says the organization does require participants to “respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend.”

So it’s not technically required but if you read between the lines, I think it fairly obvious that it’s expected and not wearing a hijab would be frowned upon.

Even with the statement and the point about it being an opportunity to show women’s strength, I still agree with Nazi’s initial boycott. I think it will help draw attention to the unfair treatment that women are facing in Iran, as well as other parts of the world. I also think it will spark desperately needed conversation around the world.

What do you think?

This Guy Is A Complete Douche

What happened? Did I fall into a hate filled time warp?

Last month Egyptian lawmaker, Ilhami Agena, suggested that women should undergo female genital mutilation because the country needed to curb their sexual appetite:

He sparked an uproar last month by saying that the practice of female genital mutilation, or FGM, was needed to curb women’s sexuality and counterbalance allegedly widespread male impotence in Egypt. He claimed that 64 percent of Egyptian men suffer from impotence, citing increased sales of Viagra.

“If women are not circumcised, they will become sexually strong and there will be a problem,” an imbalance leading to divorce, he added.

Apparently he wasn’t finished, because he’s back in the news talking about oppressing women even further:

CAIRO — A women’s rights group has filed a legal complaint against an Egyptian lawmaker who called for mandatory virginity tests for women seeking university admission, the Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported Sunday.

In order to be taught stuff, you have to be a virgin.

That makes sense.

But it goes even further:

Agena said in an interview last week that virginity tests were needed to combat the proliferation of informal marriages, known as “gawaz orfy,” between students. Virtually expense free, such marriages have become more popular in recent years because of high youth unemployment and a shortage of affordable housing.

The gawaz orfy is widely viewed as a religiously sanctioned way of having premarital sex, a taboo in mostly conservative and majority Muslim Egypt. Muslim clerics have spoken out against such marriages.

In Egypt, as in other conservative, Muslim countries, a young woman’s virginity is widely seen as a matter of family honor, the loss of which could prevent her from getting married.

Maybe try tackling real political matters, like the shortage of affordable housing and lack of jobs instead of worrying about what people (particularly women) are doing in the bedroom?

I know…crazy right.

I also can’t quite wrap my head around how the  “gawaz orfy” is seen as religiously acceptable but yet unacceptable to some Muslim clerics.

Oh wait. I get it now. They have the same problems as other religions. No one knows what the fuck their book means so they all cherry pick.

How about you just stay the hell out of other peoples bedrooms and worry about yourself. Do your job and talk about actual political matters. Whether women are virgins when they apply for higher learning is not a political matter and asking that women undergo FGM is a human rights abuse.

Hopefully this authoritarian ass loses his spot in parliament soon. It’s scary as shit knowing this guy has any power over the lives of women or people in general.

New Vids

Just wanted to add a quick update and say my newest video is up. Thanks to those who offered me thoughts and constructive criticism on my first video. I took out the music for this one. If you decide to watch it, I’d love to know your thoughts. Thanks!

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.

ISIS Explains Why They Hate The West -#1 Reason is Religion

It’s hard to believe someone could believe in an ancient myth-book so completely that they would like to kill those who don’t believe their brand of religion, but ISIS clearly outlines why they hate the West and guess what?

Religion is the #1 reason.

We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers; you reject the oneness of Allah – whether you realize it or not – by making partners for Him in worship, you blaspheme against Him, claiming that He has a son, you fabricate lies against His prophets and messengers, and you indulge in all manner of devilish practices.”

Blowing people up isn’t considered ‘devilish’ but simply disbelieving your version of religion is.

Perfectly reasonable.

Even if you’re religious but say you’re a Christian or some other brand of religion, you’re still lumped in there because you don’t believe the exact same thing these people do.

“In the case of the atheist fringe, we hate you and wage war against you because you disbelieve in the existence of your Lord and Creator.”

It should be very, very clear to you that this has something to do with religion. Two of the top 3 reasons are religious in nature. We need to stop making excuses for religion and own up to the fact that yes, it contains some very vile ideas and when read literally, it can help fuel the sort of hate-puke you see mirrored here.

But there’s more:

What’s important to understand here is that although some might argue that your foreign policies are the extent of what drives our hatred, this particular reason for hating you is secondary, hence the reason we addressed it at the end of the above list.

“The fact is, even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam.”

They reference the bombing etc and the political reasons, but here they clearly state that even if all of that were to cease tomorrow, they would still wage war on us until every single person believes in their religion the way they believe in it.

Sure, there’s more than one reason to be angry at the West. That’s clearly painted in their diatribe, but riddled throughout the list is religion and religious reasons.

Can we finally stop pretending that when someone says they’re doing something in the name of religion (whatever that religion) that they don’t mean it? Can we finally admit that beliefs can and do inform our actions?

Of course not every Muslim is in love with ISIS. That’s also clear, but for the people who DO belong to ISIS or sympathize with them, religion does indeed play a large factor in why they’re doing what they’re doing.

Yes it’s partly geopolitical.

Yes it’s because they’ve been radicalized.

Yes it’s partly because of foreign policy.

Yes it might have something to do with wealth and the distribution of wealth.

But yes, it also has something to do with fundamentalist religion and we need to start recognizing that and finding ways to constructively deal with it.

Rebuttal: The Nature of Atheistic Doubt

In my interweb travels, I ran across The Muslim Skeptic who takes a shot at explaining why atheists doubt, and why their God doesn’t just show itself and remove all of our pesky doubts as to its existence.

Why did Allah create humans in such a way as to be liable to doubt? This is something that atheists ask in an aggressive way: If God is real, why did He make Himself hidden? If there is a God, why doesn’t He reveal Himself and remove all doubt?

Okay. Fair question. Let’s hear your answer.

And Allah addresses this charge directly in the Quran in multiple places. He says, If we sent down angels, if the dead spoke to them, if all kinds of miracles were shown to them, if literally every single sign was shown to them, they would still disbelieve.

There are a number of reasons why I don’t think this statement flies.

  1. It implies that your God does not know what will or will not convince me of its existence.
  2. It implies your God is incapable of proving its existence.
  3. These implications mean your God has limited power and resources.

Also, I believe in things such as gravity because the evidence supports it. The evidence was surely less spectacular than a miracle or angels or dead people talking to me. Yet I believe gravity exists.

So is your God incapable of providing even the same level of evidence for existence that most people would need to believe in things such as gravity?

I don’t buy it.

Also, are you saying that all atheists wouldn’t believe no matter what Allah did? Not even one would rethink his or her position?

That doesn’t sound reasonable. I’m fairly certain that if this Allah got dead people to talk to them, at least a few would definitely rethink their position.

We have drilled miles into the earth and we have gone miles up into the heavens and using telescopes we can see all these amazing, awe inspiring things in this universe, things that past people had never seen: galaxies, nebulae, pulsars, quasars, superclusters of galaxies. These are all ayat of Allah and they are so grand that they are literally beyond human conceptualization. We literally cannot fathom how large a galaxy is, how old the universe is, how powerful a black hole is and so forth. But we now see all these sublime things with our very own eyes, and none of that serves as evidence for the disbelievers.

We have done these things and found no more evidence for Allah than we have for Jesus or Odin.

Why would the existence of a black hole mean there is a supernatural deity around?

However, a black hole or star or supercluster is evidence for the existence of those things.

Why do believers point at everything around them and just pronounce it evidence of their God?

Even if it were (and it’s not) you’re literally making the same argument I’ve heard time and again from other God believers, such as Christians. Why is your God more credible than theirs?

Memo to The Muslim Skeptic: These things aren’t ‘literally beyond human conceptualization’ either since I can form a picture or idea in my mind of what those things are when you mention them.

Point being that even if disbelievers were suddenly presented with a whole other aspect of existence, no matter how unearthly, no matter how spectacular, they would always have a way to dismiss it or subsume it into their definition of “normal” and “unremarkable.”

That just isn’t true.

Not even the part about thinking of the universe as ‘unremarkable’ is true. I think the universe is incredibly remarkable and I don’t need a God to make that so.

It seems to me that a lot of theists need something to be magical or have magical origins to be remarkable. I find nature remarkable. I find life remarkable. I find history, planets, solar systems and so many other things remarkable.

Hell, I find the fact that I can type these words on my keyboard and someone half a planet away can read them instantly damn remarkable.

These things are far more remarkable than magic. The fact that you don’t need magic to explain takes nothing away from how amazing they are.