Politics & Media
Jun 02, 2015, 06:44AM

Islam: Criticize It And You're A Bigot

The American left loses its way once again.

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Islam is currently the world's most controversial—and fastest growing—religion. There are approximately 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, very few of whom are violent. The problem is that the relatively small number of violent ones—whether they’re jihadists or members of violent militias like ISIS and Boko Haram—are causing a PR problem for what is sometimes called the "religion of peace." Added to the mix is the oppression of minorities, specifically women and gays, within some Muslim countries. It’s hardly controversial to say that Islam has problems to address, though it can quickly get you called a bigot.

Just as with any other religion or ideology, none of which are close to perfect, Islam should be subjected to intense scrutiny. However, this is where the problem arises. Religions really hate criticism, which is odd. Questioning Islam puts you in different category from critics of other ideologies, a much more dangerous one. If you doubt this and think all religions are equally violent, try burning a Bible and then a Koran on YouTube and get back to me.

Since 9-11, Islam has become politicized, but both the American left and right get it wrong. The right wing often seems in the grip of Islam-focused paranoia, with a particular focus on an imagined imposition of sharia law in certain parts of the country. Charlatans like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity make a good living playing to such fears, fanning the flames and egging on their gullible, xenophobic admirers.

Liberals might be expected to make a contribution to the debate, as they claim to be open-minded and on the side of the oppressed, but the left is generally as clueless as the right when it comes to Islam. Liberals are hamstrung, once again, by their political correctness. Somehow, nothing bad that Muslims do in the name of their religion is ever actually done explicitly "because" of their religion. The real cause is always attributed to political, cultural, or economic reasons; even if a guy who kills a cartoonist says specifically his act was motivated by his religion. Liberals know better. After all, they are better-educated than these non-white people from a not very advanced part of the world.

Bill Maher, an equal opportunity knocker of religions (see his movie Religulous), is constantly and casually called a bigot and racist by the left for his criticisms of some of the practices of Islam. Strangely enough, his movie, which mercilessly mocks Christianity, evoked no such hysteria from that corner. Had he made Religulous Part Two, skewering Islam this time, he would’ve been living under constant armed guard at this point, if he were still somehow alive.

Even the very smart and normally non-PC comedian/actor Patton Oswalt was driven to absurd levels of outrage by Maher's criticisms of Islam. Oswalt said, in a Salon interview, that as an atheist he feels the same way about Maher's criticism of Islam as a Christian must feel about Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church. That's right, liberal Bill Maher is in the same category as the folks who bring you the "God hates fags" signs at military funerals.

When you have the likes of Oswalt going off the rails like this you know you are in "taboo" territory. Oswalt is more or less a "one hit wonder" on the topic when compared to attack dogs such as C.J. Werleman, the Australian pundit and former Salon writer who automatically labels any criticism of Islam "Islamophobia." Werleman's derangement was recently on full display on Cenk Ugyur's super-PC Young Turks program. He had this to say about Bill Maher: "Bill Maher and his acolytes are as historically, and culturally, and geopolitically ignorant as any Christian fundamentalist that you will ever meet.”

His very next sentence was: "They really do see the world—that if you don’t believe in their way, if you don’t believe in the Enlightenment and the progress of science and nonbelief—then you’re somehow ignorant and retarded."

Werleman begins by saying how "ignorant" Christian fundamentalists are (idiotically comparing them to Maher) and then quickly segues into a defense of Muslim fundamentalists—who also don't believe in the Enlightenment—without being called to task on his blatant hypocrisy by the moderator/host Cenk Ugyur.

Reza Aslan is another prominent pundit in the Islam debate who calls Maher and his fellow New Atheists "bigots." Aslan, who advertises himself as a "religious scholar," needs some remedial religious scholarship. He claimed back in October that Muslim women in Indonesia "are absolutely 100% equal to men." He’s apparently ignorant of the virginity tests that Indonesian women must pass to serve as Indonesian police officers.

Aslan and his fellow crusaders who label anyone who dares criticize Islam "Islamophobic" are united in the air of smugness they project. Anyone who pretends to have a religion all figured out is automatically a fraud anyway, and that’s exactly what this bunch is doing. The odd thing is that their nonsense is bought as readily on the left as is Hannity and Limbaugh's hokum on the right.

The level of outright dishonesty many on the left bring to the Islam debate is downright depressing. If Bill Maher and Sam Harris can't even offer criticism of how Islam is practiced (not personal criticism of Muslims as it is portrayed) without being smeared, think about the people in Afghanistan who are oppressed by a mandatory religion. Think about the woman there named Farkhunda who in March was falsely accused of burning a Koran and then got beaten to death and set on fire by an angry mob of well-dressed Muslims. People need to feel free to speak out about religious abuse. Liberals are letting down the minorities they claim to care about because they’ve allowed themselves to be cowed by the Werlemans and the Aslans of the world. They’re disgraceful.

—Follow Chris Beck on Twitter: @SubBeck

  • Boy Chris, you seem to be all over the board on this one. First you say that most of the worlds 1.5 billion Muslims are peaceful and that the few Jihadists and militias are giving it a bad name but in the very next paragraph you impugn all followers of the religion by claiming the religion is much more violent. Isn't it the very same militias and Jihadists who are committing the violence when someone burns a Koran and not the plurality? Secondly, you talk about the oppression of women in Islam. Oppression of women is an equal and very real component of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In all three the women are subservient to men. Where the difference lies IS in the political, economic, and cultural mores of a given society. You never explain why you don't believe that to be the case. Third, you run the risk of falling into the U.S. Judaeo-Christian trap of myopic perspective. The Muslim who kills a cartoonist is no different than a christian who kills an abortion doctor, yet, U.S. labels one a religious zealot and the other as just a disturbed individual who does not represent his/her stated religion. This is a game played by the full spectrum of U.S. politics.

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  • I was shocked by how many of my like-minded friends felt that Charlie Hebdoh was asking for it and deserved to have most of their staff assassinated. If Fred Phelps had been knocked off or bombed while he was still alive, would people be celebrating? I agree that the left's top priority is keeping the kids' gloves on and updating them every time words like "problematic" or "micro-aggression" enter the lexicon. But the context of the Charlie Hebdoh attack and the situation in France is- well, problematic! CH wasn't mocking Mohammad in a vacuum - they were kicking people already in the dirt. Which is fine, that's a certain type of newspaper's job, but in no universe does that mean the staff was asking for it and got what they deserved. Ugh - frustrating beyond words !

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  • Nicky, were some of your friends actually saying that they DESERVED to be assassinated? If so, you need new non-homicidal friends. I've heard the lazy "they were asking for it" talk but not that they actually deserved it (outside the Daesch types of course). As for Phelps, I think the reaction would have been similar or even more vitriolic since he was coming from a place of actual hate and intolerance.

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  • 1. I did not impugn "all" Muslims in the next paragraph. Is is the violent ones I address. Thought that would not need explaining. 2.Women are oppressed much more in Muslim countries,than by Christians or Jews. Pretty obvious. Did you hear about Malala? And that's just one example. 3. I am not addressing Christianity here. If I do so it will be scathing.

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  • 1. "If you doubt this and think all religions are equally violent, try burning a Bible and then a Koran on YouTube and get back to me." Pretty clear statement that you think Islam is a more violent religion than Christianity. If you are now saying this only applies to the Jihadis, what is the point? Violent Jihadis are more violent than violent non-Jihadis? Besides, haven't Christians been killing Muslims and Jews for centuries? 2. But how is it all about the religion and not the social, economic, and political mores of those countries? You never explain. Besides, care to explain how women are treated equally at the Vatican or within Quiverfull groups in the U.S.? Did you hear about the Duggers? And they are just 10 examples. 3. See point #1 4.I'm only asking for you to clarify and or defend the points you made. Why so huffy all the time?

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  • 1. My remarks on violence refer to the present. This was not intended to be a comprehensive analysis of comparative religious violence over the centuries.Research how many Muslims worldwide think that death is the appropriate punishment for apostasy, then explain how there is not a deep seed of violence inherent in the religion. 2. I never said it was "all about" religion. I am addressing those who say it is never about religion. 3. You're saying the Duggers and Vatican are the equivalent of what happens in Muslim nations is ludicrous. 4. I'm "huffy" because you act like a troll, have defended a guy who made a death threat to an innocent woman on the internet, and because you called me a bigot, which is ironic considering the type you choose to stand JP for.

  • *up

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  • Christ, you ARE huffy. People with different points of view or legitimate questions are trolls? You sound like, God help me, Noah Berlatsky.

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  • It's the way you do it, but I don't expect you to get that.

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  • Oh it's you, not Tex. Never mind.

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  • You're often kind of a troll too though, now that you want in on this matter.

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  • 1. If one is going to claim that one religion is more violent than another, it makes no sense to point to one particular time period. All three religions went through violent expansionist periods approximately 1,000-1,500 years after their establishment. Jews period is documented in the old testament, the Christian crusades during the middle ages and Islam now. All seem to have their equal number of violent adherents. To now try and defend your statements by claiming you are only looking at the present negates your entire point and only illustrates how little thought you have given the to the topic you chose to write about. 2. Who ever said it has nothing to do with religion? This is the very definition of a straw man argument. 3. I never said "equivalent" I was just pointing out that all three oppress women and gays. The fact that some Muslims are more violent about it does not negate the fact that oppression exists. Your argument is akin to defending the nice slave owner who doesn't beat his/her slaves as better than the one who does. Bottom line, slavery is wrong and so is oppression. 4. If you actually read what I wrote rather than go into a huff, you would see that I did not defend the guy who made death threats. Rather, I accurately pointed out that prior to the death threats being made, the woman in your piece was consciously provoking someone she knew to be unbalanced. As for your being a bigot, I refer you to your claim that Islam is more violent than other religions' something you have yet to back up making it a prejudice you hold as opposed to a reasoned opinion or fact. Go back to #1 5. Unless you come back with answers or reasoned arguments, instead of bloviating drivel, I rest my case.

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  • Guy rambles on with a ridiculously long and incoherent comment and refers to my "bloviating." Don't ever change, man. You're precious. I didn't even bother to read after first 100 words.

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  • Guaranteed that you read Every Single Word.

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  • Man, you really can't handle being challenged Chris. At all. But go on, your tactless insults really show your integrity and character.

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